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luxury

Crystal Symphony Gets a Makeover

cruises, ROAM By June 19, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , No Comments

When Crystal Symphony got a makeover, we knew it would be spectacular. We were given the chance to tour Crystal Cruises‘ new $15 million renovation of the Symphony and we were blown away. Crystal offers an all-inclusive experience, helping guests to be able to truly relax without worrying about tips and beverage charges. The recipient of the Conde Nast award for best cruise line 20 years in a row, Crystal has adapted to changing demographics and passenger needs (the average passenger age is 47) by relaxing the dress code, though you will still see loads of tuxes. Menus have also undergone a fresh makeover, with modern cuisine left side of and the traditional on the right.  The only luxury cruise line to offer children and teen areas, I found the design of these spaces fresh and innovative.

Crystal Cruises Ballet StatueOnboard there are 2 specialty restaurants – the Silk Road Sushi bar and Italian and guests can reserve these spaces twice per trip. The gym has been refit with new equipment by techno gym (the same machines that World Cup teams use to train.) 

Edie Rodriguez, President and CEO of Crystal Cruises, started with the company in 2013 but loved ships so much that she came aboard a cruise anonymously prior to her tenure. The staff wowed her with their memory of guest names and their attention to her unique breakfast desires. In time she heard stories of one staff member ordering a recliner for a guest to fulfil a need, and many crew members who have accompanied passengers ashore for medical treatment. Aspiring to be across the globe, Rodriguez has big plans for the company, adding a third ship in 2018 and gearing up to celebrate Crystal’s anniversary in July.

The unique tours for late risers, bespoke adventures and voluntourism opportunities while aboard were very exciting and it was clear that innovation with a perfect balance of tradition flood from every Crystal experience.

Trident Bar and GrillThe bright Trident Bar and Grill speckled with lime green umbrellas and orange cushions featured a living wall in the shape of the earth.

University @ SeaComputer University @ Sea began 20 years ago and allows passengers to create websites, hone their computer skills and share details of their journey with loved ones back home. Every computer can run a PC or Mac interface. They also offer iPad and iMovie classes.

Teen lounge Crystal SymphonyThe “teens only” hang-out Waves features new Casalina chairs and Marimekko-patterned Fatboy bean bags, and Fantasia has been redesigned for younger kids. All enjoy Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, Kinect, wide-screen TVs, and supervised age-specific activities.

Cigar loungeI loved the smell and opulence of the cigar lounge.
Lux Nightclub Crystal SymphonyWith it’s vibrant purple hues and while leather seating, Luxe Nightclub would be a fantastic place to dance!

Crystal Symphony StateroomStaterooms were huge for ship standards, and the decor clean and lofty. Deck 9 has ‘pure’ rooms in which everything is hypoallergenic.

I certainly would love to cruise with my family on this ship – perhaps my son can use the gym equipment and fulfill his dream of being in a World Cup one day!

crystal-symphony

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Luxury Strollers

Our Favourite Luxe Top Strollers for 2015

Archive By June 11, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Always top of mind when you are pregnant is the stroller. This year we’ve put together our top strollers for 2015 with luxury in mind.

Luxury Strollers Silver Cross for Aston Martin1. The Cadillac of strollers. The Silver Cross was beloved by our own mothers while walking on bustling urban streets and it’s back with a vengeance in partnership with Aston Martin. And kick-ass wheels (of course). Oh, and it includes a 100% cashmere baby blanket.

Luxury Strollers Young Versace2. Young Versace makes a beautiful carseat/bassinete/stroller system for a child from 0-3 years. The medusa logo is embroidered on the bedding, and the handle features a latte holder. Which you will absolutely need.

Luxury Strollers Fendi3. The Fendi Inglesina stroller line features a shock-absorbing pram and also a versatile foldable toddler stroller adorned with the signature ‘Double F’ fabric. There’s a gorgeous baby carrier as well.

Luxury Strollers Bugaboo4. One of the North American preferred brands has been Bugaboo. Easy to shift, sexy to push and with tons of accessories like umbrellas and jogging extensions, this is a well-priced, durable model. Special editions by Diesel, Andy Warhol and Kaviar Gauche are also available.

Luxury Strollers Stokke5. The Stokke line takes ergonimics very seriously, and the strollers are super easy to adjust. We love the design and how they look as if they are hovering on one bar with your tiny one floating!

Luxury Strollers iCandy6. iCandy is another UK brand who stands behid innovation. Soon they will launch a custom line, and even if you don’t want to design your own, the vibrant colours in the existing roster are spectacular. iCandy also offers limited editions.

luxury-strollers

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Test Drive of the BMW X5

auto, GEAR By May 18, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

BMW X5This car positively purrs and it a fantastic ‘mom-mobile’.  The BMW X5 is roomy and offers a ton of family-friendly features that make it a great option if your bank account can handle the hefty price tag.

Kid’s Perspective: They LOVED the extra-large panoramic moonroof

Mom-Friendliness:
– The bluetooth and phonebook sync with both our Blackberry and iPhone was exceptional and worked with the wisp of a touch.
– The forward-to-reverse on the gear shift is a bit counter-intuitive but it’s a BMW thing and you get used to it.
– Lots of room between 2 carseats
– Adaptive headlights follow the direction of the wheels for extreme safety
– Ambient lighting when it’s dark outside
– Sun-reflective seats so even when it’s burning hot outside, the seats stay cool.

Trunk: Clamshell-style and the lower part is quite high so hard to get stroller in if you’re short.  There’s a ton of room for groceries and a big stroller.

The Glitz: Carry the key in your purse and doors are unlocked just by touching the door handle.  I must for a mom carrying groceries, a toddler and a diaper bag.

The Glamour: You can get into the car in stilettos, drive fast and look sexy.

Would it Make a Good Push Present? Absolutely.

BMW Canada

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Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach Resort Bermuda

International, ROAM By January 30, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

I’m on a plane and a Humphrey Bogart film is playing on the seat next to me.  I think of the photos on the wall of the Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach Resort Bermuda and smile.  To be alive in those days.  To have been at the 1925 party with the hair and dresses on the patio.

And I see the property on a stunning November day with the turquoise water calling me to get down to the beach.  After a grueling walk (don’t wear heels) I set foot on the famous Bermudian ‘pink’ sand and looked both ways aver the half mile of private beach.  Somehow as a mom, happiness came and went before the guilt set in and I trundled up to met the director of Communications, Sophie Dier.  (Not to worry – working with the therapist on that.  Carry on feeling awesome).

Elbow Beach LibraryA tour of the property revealed that there is a zen-like mixture of feminine and masculine.  The warm tones and high tech features of the library open up to well groomed bougainvillea and soft sand.  Rooms are opulent and uncluttered as well as larger than the original hotel’s suites.  Recently altered into a more exclusive and intimate resort, the rooms have been renovated with modern luxuries.  Suites boast sliding ‘doors that separate the pullout Great room from the master bedroom and large walk-in closets would make the biggest shopaholic jealous.  Not that I look there first or anything.  The big shocker for me was the weather.  Bermuda is so far north that I expected it to be cool.  But no.  Even in November, bikini-clad women with perfect abs lay on the beach.

Elbow Beach RoomFor kids there are some extraordinary programs.  The Clubhouse on the property provides games, crafts, tech and childcare for kids ages 6-12.  I was uber-excited about the Kids Adventure Camp, which embraces the unique character of Bermuda and sends kids off-property to ‘study and explore various characteristics’ of the island.  One day they might snorkel and find indiginous fish and another they might visit local caves.  If you’re a diver you will be thrilled that the kids’ adventure club can certify your prodigy (while you dive the awesome shipwrecks around Bermuda yourself)!  The resort (owned by Mandarin Oriental) also offers fab rates for family vacation packages (including aquarium passes and babysitting hours).

Many guests would opt not to leave the premises, so there are many choices of restaurant.  Meeting the chef at The Lido I was impressed – not only for his vegetarian risotto and bolognaise on my pasta, but that, after 27 years (the day he was married), he finally shaved his famous mustache in support of the Mandarin Oriental’s Movember efforts (Note the MO tie-in).  The other eateries include Mickey’s (seafood), Blue Point (light bites), Sea Breeze (tapas/sushi) and the Deep Lounge and Nightclub.

Spa Elbow BeachAnd then there was the spa.  All I can say is – private room.  Private locker, WC, bath, shower, table and safe.  Not that I used it.  I was too relaxed to think anyone would steal anything.  I did a 2 hour Mandarin Oriental Signature Spa treatment, where the therapist determines what you ‘need’ and has the skill and talent to tailor your service as required.  The beginning and end of treatment are bookended by a chime and by the end I was no longer fluish and sniffly.  I was wrapped, scrubbed, smeared in thick creams and left the building with soft skin and mellow muscles.  (Now I wasn’t stumbling because of my stilettos).

Looking at photographs on the walls, I wish that college weeks would come back.  Roaring ‘20s parties and ‘60’s honeymoons fit for kings. (My parents did that).  Bermuda is a re-discovered oasis only 2(ish) hours from all of the east coast of the Atlantic, and is gaining serious tourist traction.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the hunks in Bermuda shorts, ties and knee socks that frequent the bars of Hamilton after a busy day of finance.

www.mandarinoriental.com/bermuda

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The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

ROAM, USA By August 21, 2012 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

They had me at the s’mores gift bags.  Sticks, Marshmallows, Chocolate and wafers.  And fire pits by the pool and hottub on which to create the s’mores.  The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe was built around a main fireplace/chimney, from which the rest of the building emanates.  The main floor is more a great room than a lobby, with families eating, trendsetters having drinks and skiers doing après.  It’s like the community centre of the rich and famous.  Or at least that’s how it makes you feel.

The rooms boast soft sheets, stunning views, fireplaces and insanely amazing toiletries.  Combined with turndown service and fluffy robes? Epic.  My room overlooked the slopes of Northstar and I was torn as to whether to ski or stay in the gorgeous room.  (The skiing was too good to pass up though).

I was to be on TV the day after I left Northstar and the Ritz-Carlton, and my nails were a mess.  A devotee of Shellac, I needed acetone and foil to remove the 3 week-old colour from my fingers (it still looked great but not up to TV standards).  The spa attendants let me in after they had closed to figure it out (how amazing is that?!).  Not only did I see the alpenglow at the end of the day, but the healing, serene environment made me giddy.  And I chose a very au courant blue lacquer for the TV appearance.  You must check out the copper bathtub in the spa when you go.  Stunning.

Similar to other Ritz-Carlton properties, the chain gives tribute to local culture and the art throughout the hotel was sourced locally. My favourite pieces were the 160 beer-can butterflies in the lobby bar, of which only one has been stolen since opening.  You would never know they had been up-cycled.  Hopefully I can find them on Etsy.

I wish I’d had my family there.  As I watched a little boy have his boots nudged on by a valet, I remembered all of the weekends at Whistler mountain with my boys, screaming about their boots being tight.  The Ritz-Carlton staff had magic that I do not.  How I wish my boys could ride the uber-cool snowmobile sleigh and get their gear laced up by a pro!  (The valets at the Ritz even place your skis and poles for you so your only job is to hop into them like an Olympian.)  And watching the families après in the huge lobby are, surrounded by fireplaces, warmth and sun made me decide to return with my boys in tow.

The dining at the Ritz was like none I had ever experienced.  (Knowing Shaun Whyte was ‘in the house’ didn’t hurt either – we toured his world-class halfpipe the next day).  I began with a BNB.  That would be – bacon and bourbon.  The bacon being the stirstick.  Yeah.  I’m hard-core, BTW.  Try to catch up to me on the slopes. Ha ha.

The food was amazing,  (Trying not to be cliché but I can still taste it and I just can’t find the words). There were 6 of us around a table, getting to know each other over dinner.  How rude was I when I asked for a taste of everyone else’s meals!

I’ve stayed with several Ritz-Carltons – New Orleans and I am off to Key Biscayne in Miami right now.  What impresses me the most is how each hotel embraces their environment, meshes with the locals, incorporates the history of their surroundings into everything from the architecture to the menu.   True vibrant hotels allow a parent to teach as well as relax, and taking your kids to this property you can’t help but feel the history, the gold rush, and the national forest emanating from the environment.

My drive back to the airport at Lake Tahoe was unforgettable.  I was fidgeting with my Blackberry, fielding calls from work, and the driver was silent.  He was the same driver I’d had on the way in.  Feeling rude, I struck up a conversation which may have changed me forever.  He told me of his ancestors.  The railway tracks to the right that helped Lincoln win the Civil War.  He told me of his great grandfather who was a guide in the gold rush as his eyes gleamed and his pride showed clearly.  As a river guide in the summer he knows these parts.  He stopped in the perfect location so that I could take one parting photo if the Ritz-Carlton.  Remember in The Thomas Crown Affair – the smile of a Father? – That’s what it was like.  The smile of a man who not only loves the land, but loves the businesses who prolong the history – his history.

www.ritzcarlton.com

 

 

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