Friday, January 11, 2008

It's Out!

Ok, I frequently check out luxury destination lists like Conde Nast's Gold List or the uber-exclusive Andrew Harper's Report to find new places to dream about visiting .

So I'm very excited that the T&L 500 (Travel and Leisure's List of the World's Best Hotels) is finally out for 2008! Maybe I'm indulging my "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" but I always like to search and see if anywhere I've stayed has made "the list". This is pretty much always a domestic search for me at this point since I'm not rich (cue music: "Someday My Prince Will Come") and the dollar continues to be dropkicked by foreign currency.

So here's where I've been:
Ritz Carlton, South Beach - FABULOUS (see my previous blog post). Just fabulous, despite the service.
Ritz Carlton, Palm Beach - I watched the sun rise on the beach, and then enjoyed my ocean view while I ate breakfast on my balcony. This hotel made me fall in love with the RC brand - at 23! I'm sooo spolied.
Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra Beach - AAA 5 Diamond. Fireplace in the oceanfront suite. Starfish/sandollars nightly on my pillow at turndown. Need I say more?
Ritz Carlton, New Orleans - Spent a WEEK here last summer. Very nice lounge and staff. Great home away from home - and they serve some of the best gumbo I've had in New Orleans. I ate it EVERY day, seriously.

4/500... guess I've just got some catching up to do in 2008, hmmm.

My "TripTip" -
I search online often to find deals so I can experience fabulous places on my very limited (i.e. too poor for my rich tastes) budget. During one of my searches on my favorite site, I found a review that mentioned What A Hotel, an absolute GEM. Depending on the resort, their "perks" can include: room upgrades, breakfast, VIP check-in, transfers, and $$$ credits. Also, their packages are usually priced competitively so you don't have to worry that you're paying extra for your savings. It's one of the perks of working with travel agents - and you DON'T have to pay until you check out. Looking forward to checking them out in 2008 - I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2008 Already? Let's Get It Started!

So I’ve been reading a few blogs recently and have decided to be more diligent about my travel blogging in 2008.

It’s the beginning of the year and the perfect time to begin planning my VIP and non VIP trips, except who am I kidding – I plan trips incessantly throughout the year. Sometime because I really need to travel for work, personal, etc. But mostly just for fun.

What’s in store for 2008? Well, a trip to London in the fall (hopefully) with the BFF and our respective mummy’s and, of course, Essence 2008 in NOLA. I also MUST go back to Disney this year (I’ve already paid for a night) possibly for my BD or Mom’s 65th. And I have two free nights in a suite in downtown Chicago that I have to use before June.

I really want to get out to LA this spring to visit my cousins. I’ve had a good time for the last two summers with different groups of them and I want to finally get over to their coast. Plus I have groups of friends going to New Orleans for Jazz Fest, Oregon and Montreal for their Jazz Fest.

Where to start?

I’ve decided my 1st personal trip of the year will be to an old favorite… South Beach.

Yes, I know it’s pretentious and expensive (I swear you tip EVERYONE) but I LUV Miami. I especially love it in the winter. Mostly cuz’ anywhere I can wear sandals or flip flops in the winter rates high on my list of choice destinations. Plus, the ticket is under $200 and we got a great rate for our hotel – which is my favorite in South Beach – the Ritz of course! Seriously, I had the most amazing time there the last time I visited. The pool scene is brilliant (poolside Pellegrino, anyone?) the vibe so cool. And after all these years of visitng Miami I have all these special things I love doing – like brunch in Coconut Grove and shopping on Lincoln Road. Now, their service – let’s just say my last visit which was almost free due to their

My “TripTip”-
Start planning early! Even if you can’t commit the funds just yet – lay out our year travelwise. Then, if your schedule will allow it, plan your trips to maximize deals. The Caribbean is relatively inexpensive in January. So are a lot of other spots as most people have spent a rack on gifts and travel for the holidays. Also, I love sites like
Farecast for help deciding when to buy a ticket and Hotwire’s Trip Starter for deciding when to plan a trip. Trip Starter is also good international trip planning.