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Why you need to stay at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans

ROAM, USA By May 24, 2011 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Come on. As if I wasn’t in love with New Orleans enough. Now I’ve stayed at the Ritz and there is no possible way that I can be away from this enchanted city for more than a few months.  Weeks.  Hmm.  Loving you, Ritz Carlton.  And New Orleans.   Where shall I begin?  The doorman who read my Mom 2.0 conference nametag and had it memorized for the rest of the trip?  The front desk staff  (who were shocked that I didn’t do the ‘American thing’ and demand compensation because I tripped on the carpet in my room) and the housekeeper who organized my makeup by colour.  THANK YOU.  SO MUCH.  (And for not knocking on my door at 8am like the other places I stayed in NOLA.)  Yeah.  The Ritz wins.

But really?  Even if I weren’t staying at the hotel, I would be at the bar every night.  It’s kind of like a wedding.  You know – vibe, stylish dress, where you WANT to be.  The courtyard is romantic and packed all the time (even at lunch.  Especially when there’s an old-fashioned New Orleans Crawfish Boil).  The bar though.  OOOh.  The bar.  The Davenport Lounge (named after Jeremy Davenport, the enchanting “top 10  bachelors in the USA” trumpet player who lent his name to the space) is rife with swing dancers, stunning brides and chic patrons.   But I actually didn’t pay much attention to the clientele.  Even though I was there EVERY night.  Because the jazz was So good.  Davenport was suave and super-talented.  And the band?  Wow.  I had the good fortune to befriend saxophonist Aaron Fletcher.  He took my husband and I to a couple of authentic NOLA restaurants and shared incrediblr stories.  Not only supremely talented (check his own show Sundays at Sweet Lorraines), but a down-to-earth, passionate man who loves the history of jazz almost as much as he loves his own city.

Right.  Back to the Ritz.  I had a chance on an earlier visit to taste the cuisine at M Bistro.  Chef Matt Murphy (a father of 5) brilliantly combines creole flavours with the best ingredients and perfect technique.  (Dear Matt – would you like to adopt me as a sixth?)  The Bistro was authentic, innovative and perfect in every way.  True New Orleans flavours and Matt’s penchant for ‘meet the farmers’ ingredients were clearly defined in the taste of the food.  (Travel and Leisure ranked the Bistro one of the Top 10 Farm-to-Table Hotel Restaruants in America, January 2011).  I should just live there.

The Spa?  Unlike the Guerlian spa at the Roosevelt across the street, the Ritz had a more feminine, nurturing feel.  The apothecary bar was super neat – you could choose ingredients for your own scrub.  Staff maneuvered you through the space in a gentle, seamless way, and the fountain at the entrance alluded to the relaxation you’d soon experience.  You also had the opportunity to shop for unbelievable stuff when you leave.  But why would you ever want to?

What do I miss?  Coffee in the lobby.  The pillows.  The ‘undefined’ customer assistants who seemed to be everywhere, anticipating my every whim.  The amazing outfits you saw at the bar.  The creole perfected my Matt.  Free wireless.  And the fresh flower arrangements EVERYWHERE that were nicer than those at my wedding.  But I’m not bitter.  I’m now planning a 10 year renewal of vows.  (Which will be held at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans.)
921 Canal Street
(504) 524-1331

– Jill Amery is a sucker for beauty, gracious southern manners, soft sheets, world-class jazz, and the perfect cuisine.  But she’s not picky.


Orange County Adventures

ROAM, USA By May 24, 2011 Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

It’s a beautiful sunny day, big marshmallowy clouds are floating by, waves are crashing and my kids are playing happily by the ocean. Sounds like malarky – I know, especially to a Calgarian (what, no snow?, its April!!) but this is how our spring vacation to Orange County California rolled out.  We started our Californian adventure with a tour through the small town of Laguna Beach. Staying at the Pacific Edge Hotel, we had an ocean view room that even our kids found more interesting than the tv. With just a few quick steps past the restaurant and outdoor pool, we landed on the famous Laguna Beach – and, no word of a lie – dolphins swam past as if to greet us. My kids went bananas – so did my husband and I.

top 10 travel destinations for kids

Top 10 Travel Destinations for Kids

Disney, International, ROAM, USA By May 16, 2011 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Once you have kids, the days of stolen mini-breaks with your honey are pretty much gone, unless you have a great nanny or very forbearing parents nearby! Traveling with a family can be tricky and expensive, but it is possible to enjoy a vacation with the kids; in fact, sometimes it’s even more fun than vacationing alone with your partner…although it is a different kind of “fun!” Here are the top 10 travel destinations for kids.


Nita Lake Lodge

Canada, ROAM By February 22, 2011 Tags: , , , , , 1 Comment

They had me at the Land Rover shuttle.  Or was it the lobby?  Geothermal heating?  Or the live music during apres-ski?  Any of the above.  Nita Lake Lodge is among my favourite boutique hotels in the world.  And it’s only 68 minutes from Vancouver (not that I’m speeding).  Gourmet dining, windows galore and 72 environmentally-friendly suites with streamlined decor and beautiful views.


Louis Vuitton City Guides

books, Canada, GEAR, International, ROAM, USA By January 24, 2011 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Every fall, luxury brand Louis Vuitton publishes gorgeous and super-helpful guides for some of the greatest cities in the world.  We tried the European editions (surprise surprise), and were able to discover off-the-beaten track lounges in Paris and family-friendly, hip gems in Rome.  Note to self: they also look great on your bookshelf, and they’re nice and light to pack.

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The Adara Hotel, Whistler

ROAM, USA By November 4, 2010 Tags: , , No Comments

There’s something about a loft bedroom that brings out the kid in even the most mature.  And for actual kids?  Up, down, up, down.  And then sound asleep.  Nice.  Whistler’s Adara Hotel boasts many loft rooms and funky decor.  It’s also pet-friendly and centrally located.  (Being right across the street from the Bearfoot Bistro is also a huge plus..)  We loved the red, brown, leather and wood style in every area of the Adara.  The lobby’s rundlestone walls, shiny red vinyl sofas and wine bar made for a contemporary and stylish atmosphere.  (The music was so funky I wish I could have bought the playlist.)  With wireless access, super-soft linens, furry bedspreads and valet service, it might just be the next place for a Mommy Retreat.


The Gifts of New Orleans

ROAM, USA By November 4, 2010 Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

From time to time we visit a very special city, where people, food, attractions, accommodations and the arts are all so exceptional that the place has its own soul.  (We’ve been trying to find a North American locale to match Paris for a while.) Success! It is without a doubt, New Orleans.  When I travel I take notes.  How’s this for an interesting list.. Cuisine – turtle soup, jazz, horses and buggies, gracious southern manners, gas lanterns outside every building, mardi gras beads laying in the streets, voodoo, fortune tellers and cheap fedoras.


Fairmont Pacific Rim

Canada, ROAM By September 26, 2010 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

Heading to the car with luggage, 2 screaming toddlers and wearing a ducky backpack (that quacks), I wasn’t too sure about the whole vacation-in-my-own-city.  Pulling up to the stunning Fairmont Pacific Rim, though, things improved quickly.  We were greeted with juice boxes, and the doorman remembered the kids (by name) from the time we had come to Oru for lunch.  (Orange chopsticks and the best kids menu ever keep us coming back).


Separate Family Vacations… Sibcations? Kidcations?

LIVE, play, ROAM By September 9, 2010 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

Last month, my daughter and I were very fortunate to be guests of the San Juan Marriott in Puerto Rico. While keeping my eyes open for all the hotel had to offer babies and toddlers, my daughter and I also got to experience all that Puerto Rico offers families. It was a great little break for the both of us, and baby brother was left at home in the capable hands of Daddy.  Or so I thought.


Traveling Through US Customs with Kids

grow, LIVE, ROAM By May 15, 2010 Tags: , , 3 Comments

Homeland SecurityJust don’t do it if you can help it.  If you are traveling internationally with kids, don’t choose a route via the US which will require a border crossing. Trust us.  Even if you just pop through the States en route back to Canada, you will probably be subjected to a multi-hour wait in one of their hubs, where children, babies and visibly pregnant women are made to wait in a Homeland Security immigration line with hundreds of other able-bodied adults.  No water, no chairs, no assistance.  I became so irate after my 1 and 3 year old were at risk for dehydration, diaper rash was setting in, and our rancid yogurts were the only grub around (security confiscated my ice packs) that I had to cause a stink.