Category Archives: Travel

Spice Island Beach Resort: A Slice of Paradise In Grenada @SpiceResort

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Spice Island Beach Resort is not your typical all- inclusive. While it is wonderful to know that all the extras are included, such as premium top shelf liquor, both in the outdoor areas and ensuite, room service, water sports, and unlimited dining, what separates Spice Island from the rest is the attentive staff, the attention to detail, and the five star service throughout the resort.

Spice Island is truly a family operation. Headed by longtime hotelier and former Grenada Tourist Board executive Sir Roy Hopkin, Lady Hopkin, Ryan Hopkin, and the heir apparent Miss Janelle Hopkin, along with long time general manager Brian Hardy. The close knit Spice Island family work together meticulously to ensure a guest experience worthy of the coveted AAA Diamond Award, only granted to six other resorts in the Caribbean and 118 resorts worldwide. in 2014, 2015 and in 2016, Spice island was awarded the Six Star Diamond award from The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, and has been ranked the #1 property in the Caribbean by TripAdvisor reviews. Spice Island is also a proud member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH).

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Upon arrival guests are greeted by friendly staff with a cold drink in hand to assist with check in. The airport is less than a 10 minute ride from the resort. A big plus for guests trying to maximize vacation time without a long trek from the airport. Once checked in guests are taken to their suite  and the holiday begins.

Spice Island’s 64 suites range from the 620 square foot Oleander Garden Suites to the ultra- lux Cinnamon and  Saffron Suites, measuring 1440 square feet located directly on Grande Anse Beach, just a few feet from the water.

Our party was fortunate to be given a trio of suites to discover. My suite was the Seagrape Beach Suite (pic above), the resort’s most popular requested accommodations. Either King Size or Queen Bedrooms ideal for couples, honeymooners or families, these beachfront rooms complete with hammocks and lounge chairs, are the go- to if waking up to an ocean breeze and waves are your idea of paradise.

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Luxury Almond Pool Suite

For a more private, Villa- like experience, the Pool Suites fit the bill. The Anthurium Pool Suites measure 1200 square feet, amidst personal gardens and a plunge pool. The Luxury Almond Pool Suites are 1500 square feet in size and feature a large private pool and outdoor terraces for sunbathing and dining. The most luxurious pool suites, fit for a prince or a sheik, are the Royal Collection Pool Suites, 1500 square feet, 16’X20 pool with private cedar saunas.

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Windstar Cruises: Portugal, Spain, France and Ireland James Beard Culinary Cruise @WindstarCruises @Beardfoundation #WindstarCruises

Star Legend

Windstar Cruises is a luxury cruise line with a fleet of six yachts, three of which are their signature sailing yachts, and the other three, the newly refurbished motor yachts (Star Legend above) to the tune of $8.5 million dollars each. This year Windstar partnered with The James Beard Foundation to offer three voyages throughout Europe and Northern Africa with award winning Chefs and Sommeliers providing rich culinary experiences in each destination.

The yachts fit 210 people in luxurious suites, many with balconies, bathtubs, and walk-in closets. Small enough to enter rivers and ports where larger ships cannot go, but big enough to provide amenities like pools, jacuzzis, full-service spas, gym,multiple dining options and entertainment venues.

Our voyage began in Lisbon, Portugal a coastal city with old world charm that is seeing a huge growth as a premier destination with a growing foodie and art scene. Fashion Week in Lisbon is now drawing designers from all over Europe and abroad twice a year. 

Our first port of call was Porto, Portugal (Day 1). A coastal city in Northwest Portugal known mostly for the many bridges ,and for the producers of Port Wine. Being on a culinary cruise with daily wine tastings, the Sommelier, William Davis, went into Porto and shopped for favorites to introduce to guests that evening. Windstar provides two complimentary culinary excursions on each sailing. Guests can choose which port of call to attend these immersive activities. Wines offered during nighly wine tastings are complimentary during event and at dinner.

The next two ports of call( Day 2 & 3) were in El Ferrol and Gijon, Spain. Two old cities in the Province of A Coruna on the Atlantic Coast, and in Austurias, respectively. El Ferrol is known to be major naval shipbuilding center for Spain and Northern Europe. Gijon is located on the Bay of Biscay. Gijon is mostly recognized these days for having one of the best International Film Festivals in Spain.

Days 4 & 5 We were docked in beautiful Bordeaux, France. Windstar offers overnight stays in cities where most cruise lines only stay for the day. Part of the Windstar program is a complimentary excursion to a French Chateau (Chateau Kirwan) and Vineyard. A catered cocktail party awaits the guests with delicious food, wines from the vineyard and live music.

Day 6 We were in La Rochelle, France. A coastal city in southwestern France. A busting marina with tons of outdoor cafes and shops. Renaissance architecture mixed with colorful hillside homes. Many Europeans venture here for weekend stays and boating activities during the summer months.

Day 7 was the first of two enrichment days at sea. A time to unwind and enjoy activities on board including cooking demonstrations with James Beard award winning chef Maria Hines. Guests can also arrange galley tours and lectures with Sommelier William Davis.

Day 8 was spent in  Saint- Malo, France. A coastal city in Brittany with the downtown located in a Walled City and the Saint-Malo cathedral as the centerpoint. A popular Windstar excursion is the Oysters of Cancale tour. Driving through the countryside until you reach the Oyster farm, a family run business producing some of the freshest oysters that are sold locally and exported worldwide.

Another highlight of the cruise was the extravagant deck BBQ, well more like an enormous variety of Seafood, Meats, Paella, Salads, BBQ, Desserts and more. Combined with live music involving the ship’s crew, who have way more unlisted talents then you would imagine in their job description.

Day 9 was another relaxing enrichment day and the final day to indulge in spa services, learn about wine, or work -out after nine days of James Beard inspired eating and drinking.

Day 10 Arrival in Dublin, Ireland. Windstar offers post-cruise packages as well as daily excursions for guests with late flights.

One of the highlights of the cruise was a chance to dine with James Beard COO/CFO Marilyn Platzer and her husband Kenneth who was on board as well. We discussed how the James Beard institute raised over 6.5 million dollars in scholarship money to aspiring chefs to build careers in the culinary arts. The institute funds research in sustainability, environment, and the growth of the food industry. 

http://www.windstarcruises.com

http://www.jamesbeard.org

TAP Portugal offers daily nonstop flights out of Newark to Lisbon and offers connections throughout Europe. TAP Executive Business Class offers premium seating, dining, and entertainment options. http://www.flytap.com

Weekend Getaway: Menla, a Catskills Spirituality and Health Resort @Menla

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 This past August we were invited to a Hiking R & R in the glorious Catskill Mountains, specifically to a mountain retreat known as Menla, A Retreat- Resort and a Spa. Only a 2 hour hour drive north of New York City, but a million miles away, when it comes to the peace and relaxation the retreat offers for mind and body.

Menla is owned and operated by Tibet House, located in New York City. The goal of both centers is to teach Tibetan culture, practices, and healing methods to the western world.

Nena Thurman is the director of the retreat and is also the Mahasukha Spa designer, where Tibetan treatments and massage are the focus and the staff is expertly trained in administering them. The Spiritual Leader of Menla is Robert Thurman, an acclaimed author, Columbia University Professor, proclaimed authority on Tibetan Buddism, being the first American ordained as a Tibetan monk in 1964. Nena and Robert also happen to be parents to actress Uma Thurman.

Throughout the year Menla offers several packages and getaways. The Hiking R & R and Yoga are quite popular,as are the retreats that include workshops with Robert Thurman and special guests. As a bonus, the weekend we were there, Mark Epstein M.D. and Robert Thurman held a retreat dealing with Anxiety, Depression and Addiction: Buddhist Psychological Insights for Mental and Spiritual Health in the modern world.

The weekend itinerary includes workshops with lectures by both Robert and Mark, along with meditation sessions, and Q & A’s drew an inspired group, many whom are loyal to both men’s work in their respective fields ,and some making the trek just to hear them speak. The Yoga (Art of Iyenger Asana) retreat was happening simultaneously headed by Carolyn Christie.

Set on 325 green lush acres surrounded by Mountains the retreat is a healing center, a spa, a resort and a meeting center for small like- minded groups and organizations. Menla also welcomes individuals and couples looking for a weekend getaway  (2 night minimum), and includes gourmet vegetarian cuisine throughout the stay with the option to book spa treatments, guided hikes, and a multitude of healing treatments without having to partake in group classes. High- Speed Free Wifi is included throughout the retreat as phone reception is limited. It is highly encouraged to disconnect for a few days to fully experience the healing benefits of Menla.

 Hiking R & R Retreat : Activities and Times Vary Based on type of retreat and time of year. This was for our 4 day/ 3 night Hiking Retreat.

Thursday:

3-8pm Check In

4-8 (Optional Spa Services/Relaxation Time

6-7 Dinner

7:30 Evening Program

Friday:

7-8am Morning Yoga

8-9am Breakfast

9-12pm Beginners Hike or

free time for Spa, Tennis, Swimming (Seasonal Outdoor Pool)

12-1pm Lunch

1-4pm Free Time for Spa Services, Sauna, Steam Room

4:30-5:30 Mindfulness Meditation

6-7pm Dinner

7:30 Evening Activities

Saturday:

7-8am Morning Yoga

8-9am Breakfast

9-12pm Intermediate Hike

12-1pm Lunch

1-4pm Free time Spa, Swimming (Seasonal Outdoor Pool), Sauna, Steam Room

4:30-5:30 Mindfulness Meditation

6-7pm Dinner

7:30 Evening Activities

Sunday:

7-8am Morning Yoga

8-9am Breakfast

9 to 12pm Free time Swimming( Seasonal Outdoor Pool), Hiking, Tennis

10-2pm Spa Services

12-1pm Lunch and Check Out

Menla:  375 Pantherkill Road Phoenicia, NY 12464 (845) 688-6897 http://www.menla.us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lighthouse Suite at Saybrook Point Inn: Old Saybrook, CT @Saybrookptinn

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 Say brook Point Inn & Spa has been a favorite New England weekend getaway for some time now, so in recent months when they debuted the Lighthouse Suite we were anxious to check it out. Located on the Long Island Sound on a marina, where we witnessed Mega yachts docked alongside fishing boats on a typical warm and crowded summer weekend.

The Lighthouse Suite has a an ample living area, bedroom, kitchen and a small balcony where it is highly recommended to sit outside, with wine in hand, and watch the boats go by. The sunrises are not to be missed as well. The elegant nautical decor of the suite adds to the ambiance and is a private getaway, within a larger hotel property that offers indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, The Sanno Spa, and the top rated Fresh Salt Restaurant and Marina Bar. Perfect for Honeymooners or just a romantic weekend getaway.

Saybrook Point Inn and Spa has been certified Connecticut’s first green hotel. Committed to protecting the environment the property has an herb garden, which Fresh Salt Chefs use, eco-friendly cleaning products, solar panels, clean cooling systems and free electric car charging stations. Free loaner bikes are available to guests to explore the surrounding area.

Fresh Salt is an award winning restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as an amazing Sunday brunch. Outdoor tables and large windows ,and this year an expanded marina bar and seating along with a fire pit complete the look and feel of a proper upscale New England restaurant.

Saybrook Point Inn & Spa is open year round and hosts several events in the fall and winter around Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s for the entire family. For more info and to book your stay please visit: http://www.Saybrook.com

2 Bridge Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475 (860) 265-1792

Hotel Review: Sublime Samana Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic @SublimeSamana

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Located in the Northeastern part of the Dominican Republic the town of  Samana remains an unspoiled gem that is not yet dominated by all- inclusive chains and it’s tourism focuses on luxury and eco-tourism. January through March, Samana is primarily known for it’s whale watching with thousands of Humpback whales migrating annually from the cold Atlantic Ocean to the warm waters of the Caribbean.

Sublime Samana is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and with only 26 Suites and Casitas the goal is to provide guests with a luxury experience in a warm and friendly setting where the staff knows the guests by first name. The 18 suites are spacious with terraces and full kitchens with top of the line appliances and are large enough to entertain families. The eight 2 and 3 bedroom casitas are huge and perfect for girlfriend getaways, families, and multi-generational travel. One even has a rooftop jacuzzi on the massive outdoor deck.

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Fathom: A New way to Cruise has arrived @fathomtravel #traveldeep

April 2016 was historic in the cruising industry for several reasons including a finalization of a cruise ship, The Adonia ,to be the first cruise ship sailing out of a US port to dock in Cuba. However, In mid- April we were fortunate to be part of a group of journalists to be invited to sail on a week long inaugural cruise to Amber Cove, a $85 million dollar port built by Carnival Cruise lines, the parent company of Fathom Impact Travel and to experience a different type of travel that will socially and financially impact the local communities in Puerto Plata, on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.

The Brainchild behind this vision is Entrepeneur Tara Russell along with support from Donald Arnold, CEO of Carnival Corporation and plc., and a team of devoted personnel who plan on adding a social and environmental aspect to the cruising industry. With over 20 years in the public and private sector , Tara understands that in today’s global climate, giving back and making a difference is crucial and that the billion dollar cruise line industry needs to partake.

The Adonia is a 740 passenger cruise ship acquired by Carnival from Renaissance Cruises and has recently sailed as part of the UK  P & O group. Having gone into dry dock and refurbished, this vessel is designed for cultural immersion travel with many locations on board for meetings, classes, discussions, and a few salsa and merengue classes as well. For trips to the Dominican Republic, a Dominican chef was hired to create a menu with regional dishes to accentuate the experience and the same will be done on the Cuba cruises. Regional cocktails like the Cuba Libre, my favorite, and the Mojito are prepared by the friendly bartenders on board. A note to Carnival, a beverage plan like the ones available on your other ships would help us enjoy many of these specialties at an affordable rate. Cabins are comfortable, pretty spacious and are based on double occupancy. Some can accommodate a third guest and are either inside, outside or featuring a balcony. A few suites are available as well.

The Adonia sails from The Port of Miami and spends one full day at sea, allowing  passengers to enjoy regular cruise ship amenities , but the schedule is jam packed with many immersion and learning activities to prepare for the days ahead in port. Amber Cove, alone is a destination in itself and serves as a perfect jumping point to the Social Impact activities. With a huge resort style pool complete with waterslides, a swim-up bar, luxury cabanas that can be rented for the day, and many retail shops it is a great place to unwind after a day spent in the local communities of Puerto Plata.

Some of the Social Impact activities include teaching English to the families in the surrounding towns,  Reforestation and visiting a local Cocoa Coop, where along with the local women chocolate is made and wrapped and put out for sale. These social impact activities are vital to the economic development and self sufficiency of the local people. Families are encouraged to bring children along on this cruise, because as I witnessed personally with my colleague’s daughter she got as much education and a genuine respect for giving back as the families she read English to! Snorkeling and Beach excursions are available at an additional cost.

For more info on Fathom Impact Travel and to Book your cruise visit http://www.fathom.org #TravelDeep

Poconos Weekend Getaway:Mount Airy Casino & Resort @MountAiryCasino

mount-airy-casino-resort-1280.jpg In the 1960’s and 1970’s The Mount Airy Lodge was the epitome of cool with a huge year round resort known to be “The honeymoon getaway” with first class entertainment with the likes of Bob Hope and Milton Berle and many more.

Like every destination it is difficult to keep that hype alive so when the 1980’s saw an economic downturn and East Coasters discovered other weekend destinations such as The Hamptons and weekend getaways to Las Vegas and beyond ,Mount Airy lost its stride and officially closed in 2001. in 2004 developer Louis DeNaples realized the huge potential  of this huge and beautiful piece of land so his company tore down the aging property and rebuilt The Mount Airy Casino in 2007.

Throughout the last few years and a total redesign of the rooms, outdoor spaces, and the opening of the indoor/outdoor pool and entertainment center called “Get Wet” a new era was born in the Poconos that brings in a younger and trendier demographic to the region without losing it’s appeal to the customer base that made Mount Airy what is is today.

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Hotel Review: Camelback Resort and Waterpark Poconos, Pa @camelbacklodge #Familytravel

Brand new in 2015 Camelback Resort and Aquatopia Waterpark delivered a high end family resort to the Poconos that promises tons of fun for kids and is also a playground for adults with spa, dining, swim up bar, and ski options. 90 minutes from NYC located at the foot of Camelback mountain this year round resort is a perfect weekend getaway for the entire family.

Aquatopia is billed as the largest indoor waterpark in the northeast with 84 degree pool temperature year around and lives up to the hype with a huge wave pool, lazy river,  waterslides and coasters for every age group, an indoor outdoor hot tub where relaxing outdoors in January snow is a very cool experience. Adults have a private heated pool with a swim up bar that serves tropical drinks, has tv’s showing sporting events, and has full view of the waterpark so that the kiddies are never out of sight.


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Torrey Pines: A Treasure for Nature and Golf Enthusiasts @lodgetorreypine

The Lodge at Torrey Pines has been considered San Diego’s top hotel since opening in 2002 and is a golfer’s paradise with two renowned 18 hole championship courses and is home to PGA’s Farmer’s Insurance Open every January. Located in upscale La Holla, close to some of San Diego’s best beaches and to Torrey Pines State Park the rustic yet luxurious lodge offers nature and outdoors enthusiasts tons of activities on the grounds and in the vicinity.

the Lodge has 170 rooms and suites with fireplaces ensuite, rich dark decor, and huge bathrooms with high end amenities. A heated year round pool with underwater music and a hot tub add to the relaxation factor. In mid January when there was a cold spell in San Diego and temperatures fell into the 50’s we still witnessed guests in the pool!

The lodge has two dining options, however the highlight of our stay was bar none our dining experience at A.R. Valentine. Executive Chef Jeff Jackson brings the best cuisine California has to offer with a farm to table experience and a seasonal menu based on produce that is in season and available at the local farmers markets and from small growers. The wine list complements the menu and the service is first class all the way.

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To book your stay visit. http://www.lodgetorreypines.com or to reserve your A.R Valentien dining experience visit http://www.arvalentien.com

 

 

Winter Getaway: All-Inclusive Luxury in Jamaica @jewelresorts

Curio Collection by Hilton recently acquired Jewel Paradise Cove and Jewel Dunn’s River Falls and transformed the two properties into ultra-all inclusive and
adults-only resorts with butler service, fine dining, and luxurious accommodations.

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Jewel Dunn’s River Falls

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Holiday Getaway: Antigua and Barbuda @antiguabarbuda @jetblue #jetblueanu

 

Antigua is a Beach Lover’s dream come true with 365 white sand beaches that can entice a visitor to try a new one every day of the year. Discovered in 1632 by a party under the leadership of Edward Warner and claimed as an English territory Antigua has grown to be a tourist destination with English touches, but has been able to avoid the real commercialism other islands have dealt with.

Luxury resorts that cater to couples and honeymooners are prevalent like the ultra all-inclusive Sandals Grande Resort & Spa. Voted “The Most Romantic Resort ” in the Caribbean. Located on the world famous Dickenson Bay, pictured above Sandals offers luxury accommodations, some with butler service, 7 bars, 11 restaurants, a luxurious spa, and expert wedding coordinators that can assist in making sure your destination wedding and honeymoon is a perfect and memorable experience.

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Saybrook Inn and Marina: New England Gem with a Modern Vibe @Saybrookptinn

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Trump Doral: Luxurious Getaway in Miami, Florida @TrumpDoral

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The Trump Doral in Miami was purchased by The Trump Hotel Collection in 2012 and was restored to its former glory to the tune of $250 million dollars. In March 2015 the Trump family celebrated the completion of this renovation project at the WGC Cadillac Championship, the most important golf event of the year in South Florida. This resort has always been known as one of the premier golf resorts in the world, hosting the PGA tour for over 50 years, and now has been totally redesigned to reflect the highest levels of luxury. Set on 800 acres the resort offers multiple golf courses, pools, dining options and a full service spa. Ivanka Trump personally oversaw the transformation to make sure the standards are on the Trump level. (more…)

Weekend Getaway: Providence, RI

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Summer is the perfect time to discover new experiences whether traveling with the family, your girlfriends/buddies or looking to explore something new and a weekend getaway is the way to do it.

Three hours from New York and only an hour from Boston, Providence is a New England city with an up and coming music and art scene as well as becoming a foodie town as well. Home to the prestigious Brown University as well as the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence is very much a college town, but we got to discover it when school is out and realized how much there is to do there. Read the rest of this entry

Resort Review:Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort

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Scottsdale, Arizona has been a haven for snowbirds for years escaping polar vortexes and blizzards with year round sunshine, beautiful days and cool crisp nights. In recent years it has become equally famous for world class resorts and golf courses, that are on par with some of the best in Florida and the Caribbean. A 4 hour flight into Phoenix and you are on your way to a fabulous family vacation, girlfriend getaway, or a golf weekend with the boys.

The Fairmont Princess is truly a 5 star family resort with every amenity you may desire. There are five pools, one for kids, two jacuzzis and a water park with slides that are actually big enough for adults to enjoy with their kids. The laid back casual ambience and the ultra friendly staff will attend to all your needs, whether you need a cocktail by the pool or need snacks brought to the many relaxation spots surrounding the property that are great for relaxing on a star filled evening.

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Christmas in Ulster County, Two Hours From NYC A Winter Wonderland Shopping Experience Awaits You @UlsterTourism

Christmas in New York City is amazing from the shopping to the shows, but it is also hectic and stressful and as every New Yorker knows, once in a while we all need to escape for a weekend or more if time allows. However, One doesn’t need to put their holiday shopping on hold on this weekend getaway as a trip to Ulster County provides plenty of shopping and dining opportunities as well as luxurious accommodations to rest and relax along the way.

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Amfar Benefit Milano – Raises 1.4 Million $ for Aids Research – Hosted by Heidi Klum and Jeremy Piven #MFW @Amfar

     Heidi Klum, Rosario Dawson, Jeremy Piven, Coco Rocha and others joined the Italian fashion community in Milan, September 20, to raise more than $1.4 million at the sixth annual amfAR Milano, held in conjunction with Milan Fashion Week. Longtime amfAR supporter Heidi Klum hosted the event, which served to honor Moncler Chairman and Creative Director Remo Ruffini. The evening culminated in an incendiary performance by the legendary Grace Jones.

The Lodge at Woodloch Hawley, PA – Beauty and Wellness Getaway – 90 Miles from NYC – @lodgeatwoodloch

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     Located just 90 miles from NYC in the Poconos this resort and spa is the perfect weekend getaway. More than 150 wooded acres surround this property including a private lake that is used for kayaking and fly fishing excursions. The 56 rooms on property all include oversize bathrooms and private balconies. Each room has plush bathrobes and slippers for guests to use when exploring the property by day or using the spa. Dress for dinner at the Tree restaurant is a far more elegant experience.

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New York Cruise Lines – Introduces The North River Lobster Company – to Pier 81 – NYC

   The other night a few writers and I got a chance to experience what I believe is a gem not discovered yet, right here in midtown manhattan. Just opened in mid may The North River Lobster Company is located at pier 81 just west of Times Square in the Hudson River. The boat resembles a real Lobster Shack, serves am amazing casual , but quality a lacarte seafood menu, and specialty cocktails as well buckets of beer and good wine. The best part is that there is no ticket to purchase to get on board so you can enjoy the sailing, order some food , and watch the skyline as long as you like. There are 4 sailings daily and the complete schedule and menu can be found on http://www.northriverlobsterco.com This is an experience not to miss this summer in NYC! #sawtheclaw

Palace Resorts, A Collection Of Seven Luxury All-Inclusive Properties In Mexico.

Photos By David Allen

The recent 55 million dollar renovation of the company’s signature property, Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort.

Tuesday, June 25, at 48 Lounge in Midtown.

MOONPALACEX

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