5 Tips to Start Your Own RV Adventure

If you’re looking for a way to get away without the hassle of planes, hotels and an exorbitant travel budget, a recreation vehicle may be just the answer.

Whether you’re traveling with family, your significant other or several generations of family and friends, these tips from world-renowned auto travel expert Alan Taylor can get you on your way to an unforgettable RV vacation adventure.

  1. Put style first. The first step to planning an RV getaway is deciding what works best for you: a motorhome or trailer. Motorhomes are built on a motorized chassis and are designed as temporary living quarters for camping, travel or seasonal use. Towable RVs or trailer RVs are towed by another vehicle to be moved from place to place. Many are designed to be lightweight, so even family vehicles like minivans or SUVs can tow them.
  1. Take time to plan ahead. Beyond the type of RV you need, think about how you’ll use it to understand what features you’ll want. What types of trips will you take? Who will be traveling with you? What’s your budget? There are hundreds of models, so how you answer these questions will guide your purchase.
  1. Try it before you buy it. There’s no better way to try before you buy than by renting an RV. Many people rent RVs simply for a change of pace by taking a trip to a special event or destination. You can rent near home and journey to your final destination or fly and pick up your RV at the other end. More than 460 national chain outlets and local RV dealerships rent RVs, including state-of-the-art, late-model-year units. A growing number of campgrounds offer on-site RV rentals, as well.

Most RV rental companies offer housekeeping packages (dishes, pots, pans, bed linens, etc.) for a fee, or you can bring your own. Even if you’re driving or towing an RV for the first time, features like automatic transmissions, power steering, large external mirrors and rearview cameras make it easy for inexperienced drivers to adjust to the difference in size, height and weight.

  1. Do your research. You’ll find plenty of information online, but another source of knowledge is any person who owns an RV or regularly rents one. One way to get the scoop and gather tips from experienced owners is to stay at a local campground and talk to your neighbors about their RVs. Ask questions about the space, key features, expenses, tricks they’ve learned and so on. Also be sure to ask about any problems they’ve encountered or any decisions they’d make differently if they could.
  1. Get practical. Unless you’re planning to make RVing a way of life, when the vacation is over and the real world beckons, you’ll have to do something with the RV. Before you buy, be sure you have plans for storage, be it a campground, in your garage or at a storage facility. Learn what’s involved in safely storing your investment while it’s not in use and take those needs into account when considering what type of RV you’d like to own.

As you work your way through the preparations, visit GoRVing.com to learn more about the different types of RVs, get ideas about what to do and find a wealth of information, including dealers near you, as well as campgrounds, manufacturers and rental companies. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Recreational Vehicle Industry Association

Festive Season at Hotel Ella!

Photography courtesy of Jake Holt.
Hotel Ella

Hotel Ella

The festive season is ramping up at Hotel Ella and we have all the delightful details.
Goodall's Kitchen

Goodall’s Kitchen

  • Thursday, November 23rd from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Featured dishes include herb roasted turkey breast, grilled acorn squash and sourdough stuffing.
  • $72 per person or $25 for children 12 and under.
  • Price includes buffet, soda, iced tea and coffee. Alcoholic beverages available for purchase.
  • Complimentary valet parking. 
  • For reservations, email goodalls@hotelella.com or call 512-495-1800.
Parlor Bar

Parlor Bar

  • Sunday, November 26th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Drink and be merry at the Holiday Trunk Show while shopping for the perfect gifts for your loved ones at pop-up shops housed in Hotel Ella.
  • Free to attend.
  • Drink specials available as well as champagne from the Champagne Supply Co. truck.
  • Mini manicures offered by tenoverten.
  • Includes a special takeaway gift from Hotel Ella.

Salon Series: Turk Pipkin’s Book of the Every-Other Month Club

  • Tuesday, November 28th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Presented by Austin Way and The Nobelity Project.
  • Hotel Ella welcomes author, actor, filmmaker and activist Turk Pipkin for an evening of selected readings from his new book project.
  • Free to attend.
  • Turk Wine will be available for purchase, with all proceeds going to The Nobelity Project’s Kenya Schools Fund that provides clean water and electricity to children in Kenya.

These Wreaths are Bananas: Recent Works by Maggie Stephens

  • Friday, December 1st from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Join us as we deck the Parlor Bar walls with one-of-a-kind handmade wreaths by local artist Maggie Stephens.
  • Wreaths are on display and available for purchase from December 1st to January 2nd.
  • Free to attend.
  • Complimentary bites and valet parking. Drinks available for purchase.
Santa’s Workshop (Ticket link coming soon)
  • Sundays, December 10th and 17th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Free photos with Santa and holiday kids crafts.
    • Toy donations to Caritas. 

Festive Season Events at Horseshoe Bay Resort!

Check out the variety of festive events that will take place at Horseshoe Bay Resort during the months of November and December!
NOVEMBER EVENTS
Thursday, November 23rd
  • 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Fall Festival & Turkey Trot for the whole family. Celebrate Horseshoe Bay Resort’s 21st year of celebrating Thanksgiving traditions with a 10k run or 5k run/walk while children ages 3 to 8 enjoy the 1k Kids Trot. After the Turkey Trot, head over to the Fall Festival for hayrides, pie walks, musical hay bales, face painting, arts & crafts and much more.
  • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Thanksgiving Brunch at the Yacht Club, with a spread including a soup and salad station, iced seafood display, an assortment of meats on the carving block and assorted brunch classics and entrees. Thanksgiving brunch costs $67 per person, $27 for kids five to 12 and $6 for kids five and under.
Friday, November 24th
  • 5 p.m. – Pumpkin Chuckin’ at Turtle Beach, where guests can hurl pumpkins in the lake to celebrate the changing of the holidays. Pumpkins available for purchase for $3, with the owner of the furthest pumpkin receiving a prize.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. – Marble Falls Walkway of Lights with a complimentary shuttle for overnight guests and club members. Watch more than two million lights transform Marble Falls Lakeside Park into a Winter Wonderland.
Saturday, November 25th
  • 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. – Marble Falls Walkway of Lights with a complimentary shuttle for overnight guests and club members. Watch more than two million lights transform Marble Falls Lakeside Park into a Winter Wonderland.
  • 6 p.m. – Gingerbread House Village in the Hotel Lobby with complimentary hot chocolate and cookies.
  • 6:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. – Letters to Santa at Yacht Club Waterfront. Stick around until 7 p.m. to hand deliver it to Santa himself!
  • 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. - Holiday Laser Light Show at the Yacht Club and Candy Cane S’mores at Star Gazer Beach.
  • 7 p.m. – Santa Claus is coming to town! Stop by and get a picture with Santa.
Daily Activities
Throughout the month of November
Enjoy Horseshoe Bay Resort’s everyday activities in the month of November, including:
  • Whitewater Putting Course open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Course is closed until 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • Exotic animals on display between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Whitewater Putting Course.
  • Arcade at the Marina filled with classics like Pac-Man and Galaga.

DECEMBER EVENTS
Horseshoe Bay Resort Winter Wonderland
Saturday, December 9th from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Take a stroll through Horseshoe Bay Resort’s Winter Wonderland and enjoy the Laser Light Show, Texas State University’s Acapella Group Vocalibre, photos with Santa, arts and crafts, food and beverage stations, horse-drawn carriage rides and more. Check the resort event calendar for pricing and updates.
An Evening with Nutcracker
Sunday, December 17th starting with dinner at 5 p.m. and the show at 6 p.m.
Don’t miss a fabulous performance of a Christmas classic by Ms. Rhonda’s School of Dance, a Fredericksburg dance company that has been operating for more than 26 years. The evening includes a dinner buffet with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the students of the Fredericksburg Dance Company. Cost is $49 for adults and $25 for children ages five through 12. Reservations required.
Friday, December 22nd
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Holiday Hunt, find your scavenger hunt clue card at the front desk.
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Gingerbread House Decorating in the Yacht Club Ballroom, where pre-assembled gingerbread houses are made on property and are ready for you to decorate! $40 per gingerbread house with supplies and decorations included. Reservations required.
  • 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. – Mini Nutcrackers at the Kids Club where you can paint your own nutcracker for $3 each.
  • 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. – Holiday Sand Art at the Kids Club for just $3. Makes for a great holiday gift for your loved ones!
  • 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Candy Cane Course at Whitewater Putting Course (weather permitting) where you can enjoy a round of golf surrounded by holiday cheer and hot chocolate. Regular rates apply.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. – Marble Falls Walkway of Lights with a complimentary shuttle for overnight guests and club members. Watch more than two million lights transform Marble Falls Lakeside Park into a Winter Wonderland.
Saturday, December 23rd
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Holiday Hunt, find your scavenger hunt clue card at the front desk.
  • Kids Club activities include:
    • 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. –  Jingle Bell Canvas Art
    • 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. –  Tea Light Snowman
    • 12 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. – Holiday Ornaments
    • 3 p.m. – Ugly T-shirt Design
    • 4 p.m. – Christmas Bingo
  • 5 p.m. – Holiday Sunset Cruises on board the Ladybird Yacht on Lake LBJ. Cost for adults is $20 and cost for children ages five to 12 is $10. Other dates for Holiday Sunset Cruises include December 8th, 9th, 15th and 16th.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. - Marble Falls Walkway of Lights with a complimentary shuttle for overnight guests and club members. Watch more than two million lights transform Marble Falls Lakeside Park into a Winter Wonderland.
Sunday, December 24th
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Holiday Hunt, find your scavenger hunt clue card at the front desk.
  • Kids Club activities include:
    • 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. – DIY Stockings
    • 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. – Christmas Pillows
    • 12 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. – Cookie Decorating
  • 3 p.m. – Christmas Caroling in the Hotel Lobby
  • 4 p.m. – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas read by the Hotel Lobby Fireplace, with complimentary milk and cookies and a special fireside reading of the traditional book.
  • 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. – Candy Cane S’mores (weather permitting) at Whitewater Fire Pit, a traditional sweet treat with some holiday flare. Complimentary.
Sunday, December 31st
  • 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. – New Year’s Eve Celebration at Kids Club featuring new crafts and activities by the hour including a bird show, karaoke, video games, dancing, s’mores, pizza, glow in the dark shirts and more. $90 per child age four through 12. Reservations required.
  • 9 p.m. – Ring in the New Year with Rotel and the Hot Tomatoes Live at Horseshoe Bay Resort for a night full of good music and dancing with one of the premier party bands in Texas. Doors open at 9 p.m. with bar service, a champagne toast at midnight and a culinary treat after midnight. For overnight resort guests and club members only.
Daily Activities
Throughout the month of December
Enjoy Horseshoe Bay Resort’s everyday activities in the month of December, including:
  • Whitewater Putting Course open Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Course is closed until 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
  • Happy Hour at Whitewater Putting Course featuring half-priced putting, candy and drinks excluding beer and wine.
  • Arcade at the Marina filled with classics like Pac-Man and Galaga.

The Caribbean is Open for Cruise Vacations

Contrary to what some may think, the hurricanes in September had little to no impact on the vast majority of the Caribbean – a far-reaching region covering more than 1 million square miles.

In fact, of the nearly 100 ports in the Caribbean, almost 90 percent are open and fully operational – and welcoming thousands of cruise ship passengers every day.

To help make sure consumers are aware that the Caribbean is open for business, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has launched a campaign and website, CaribbeanIsOpen.com, to provide the latest updates.

The Caribbean is one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise travelers. The islands are not only conveniently accessible, but offer spectacular beaches, legendary crystal-clear waters, vibrant towns and popular shore excursions.

The locals welcome vacationers to their islands as tourism, and the cruise industry in particular, is critical for the economy.

According to the FCCA, cruising generated $2.4 billion in direct economic impact for the Caribbean and created nearly 55,000 jobs and $842 million in wages throughout the region during the 2014-15 cruise season. This is in addition to the indirect jobs created in supporting industries, such as providing supplies for shore excursions, ports and restaurants.

“Seasoned cruisers to the Caribbean understand that most of the islands have been unaffected,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, chief content strategist for the website Cruise Critic. “They also understand tourism is a top driver for the islands’ economic well-being and that cruises are a large part of that equation. Because of that, it’s important for both cruise lines and travelers to continue to support so many of the Caribbean islands that are ready for business and eager to provide travelers with the incredible vacations they’ve come to expect from the region.”

Now is an ideal time to plan a Caribbean cruise vacation. Contact a local travel agent or check out cruise line websites to find plenty of options for cruise vacations.  (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel Gets Multi-Million Dollar Makeover

Written By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

Photography courtesy of Downtown Renaissance Phoenix.

As the fifth largest city in the United States, more than 22 million visitors flock to metropolitan Phoenix every year. With a bustling downtown quadrant comprised of around 100 square blocks, this section of town is teeming with fun and exciting things to do—keeping tourists duly entertained and engaged. From professional sports, live music and fine dining venues to festivals, museums, and an endless stream of events at the 24-acre convention center, downtown Phoenix is a bustling hub with an appeal all its own for leisure and business travelers, alike.

No matter your reason for visiting metro Phoenix, one salient place to stay is the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel. Ensconced in the heart of the city, this enduring property is only four miles from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and within walking distance to the many area attractions, including Talking Stick Resort Arena, Chase Field and the Heard Museum. It’s also convenient to the light rail, which gives guests convenient, quick and reliable access to the rest of the city.

Since 1896, a hotel has been located on the land where The Renaissance currently resides. In 1910, when the hotel was called the First Hotel Adams, it burned in a fire. It was rebuilt and brought the first fire-proof hotel to Arizona. That hotel stayed in place until the 1970s, when it was imploded so that the current hotel could be established. Since its storied inception, the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel has hosted some pretty famous guests over the years like George Burns, Debbie Reynolds, Chris Pratt and Brittany Spears.

Today’s iteration of the hotel boasts a recently completed $13 million renovation to its expansive lobby and reception area as well as its on-site eatery, Dust Cutter. For its part, the lobby is now brimming with artful and visually captivating elements. Spectacular framed works adorn the walls, while sculptures, modern furnishings and light fixtures, eye-catching area rugs, and thought-provoking décor are arranged in various vignette-style seating areas exuding personality with a purpose.

The lobby-adjacent eatery, Dust Cutter, is the property’s primary source of sustenance. This sophisticated saloon-like locale is quite a draw. The moody Edison bulb-lit space is laden with wood, iron, glass and fire—from furnishings to interior décor elements—that all convene to create a cozy urban cowboy atmosphere. This full service bar and restaurant is clearly a key communal space for the hotel as guests mix and mingle in droves amid fabulous fixin’s from the kitchen and the expansive bar.

Given the breadth of the recent revamp, staying relevant in inimitable style is an apparent priority for the property. In fact, of the $13 million makeover, hotel manager Jon Erickson said, “As a result of our renovation, we clearly have the hip, chic, ‘it’ vibe of all the downtown hotels in Phoenix.  The unique design influences, art and especially light fixtures and chandeliers are one of a kind.”

Also in its plight for distinction, in addition to Dust Cutter the hotel features Melinda’s Alley, a semi-secret speakeasy. This underground bar, which exudes prohibition era ambiance, is open only on Friday and Saturday nights.  It’s consistently named among the top 10 Dark Bars in Phoenix and definitely worth stopping in for a cocktail.

The hotel also has a club lounge on the 19th floor called Elevate that’s exclusively available to those staying at the property. According to Erickson, “Elevate ranks among the best lounges in all of Marriott in food quality and guest experience. We focus on locally inspired ingredients to pull through the flavors of the Sonoran climate and region.” For example, since mesquite trees are common in the area they infuse this flavor into things such as waffles, and hatch chilies are made into a syrup and added to mixed drinks.

Downtown Renaissance Phoenix Secondary 1 credit Downtown Renaissance Phoenix

The Renaissance Phoenix has some other unique features that make it a top pick for visitors, like a one-of-a-kind art exhibit in the lower level of the hotel. The exhibit is called “26 Blocks” and is comprised of photos of 26 downtown Phoenix blocks taken by local photographers (26 of them) paired with local writers (26 more). The result is an art exhibit unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, but very much metro Phoenix in flavor.

Even though the hotel recently finished the $13 million renovation, they continue to update the hotel to stay fresh and modern while still keeping the charm of yesteryear. The rooms as they are offer a myriad of creature comforts like ergonomic workstations and deluxe bath products. Each also proffers a view of downtown Phoenix.

“We are also renovating our 24 corner suites; we have new carpet for all of our meeting spaces on the way, and we just decided to revamp all of our 500-plus TV’s in the hotel, also adding an entertainment platform that allows guests to watch programs from their own Netflix account along with other web based services,” said Erickson.

Downtown Renaissance Phoenix Primary 1 credit Downtown Renaissance Phoenix

I also appreciate that guests can keep up their exercise routines at the hotel’s state-of-the-art fitness center and heated rooftop pool. The property also has 50,000 square feet of flexible event space called Skyline, which is the area’s largest rooftop terrace. It’s a great option for weddings and social gatherings and certainly for business and corporate events.

I’m told that as many as 40 different managers are tasked with thinking outside-the-box, encouraged to brainstorm ways to keep The Renaissance at the top of its game. For their part, the artful and enticing communal spaces and decidedly comfortable accommodations are both an effective means toward this end.

Merilee Kern

Merilee Kern

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority–a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She identifies and reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or sponsored at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.*** 

Sources:

https://www.visitphoenix.com/media/media-kit/fun-facts/
https://www.visitphoenix.com/blog/post/things-downtown-phoenix/

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g31310-d73757-r452474956-Renaissance_Phoenix_Downtown_Hotel-Phoenix_Arizona.html

Where to Enjoy National Rum Day in South Florida

In preparation for celebrating National Rum Day on August 16, we’re thrilled to share with you a few places to enjoy tropical rum cocktails across south Florida.

5 O'Clock Somewhere

5 O’Clock Somewhere

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami / Miami, FL

Sonesta Coconut Grove’s widely recognized restaurant, Panorama Restaurant & Sky Lounge, provides for the ultimate spot with spectacular views to celebrate National Rum Day. For one day only, guests and locals can order the Spiced Blood Orange cocktail for $6 off the happy hour menu. Perfect for after a long day in Miami, guests can relax and unwind with the refreshing light rum cocktail, while indulging in a selection of light bites ranging from sweet chili glazed wings to roasted garlic hummus and pita chips, while overlooking breathtaking views of beautiful Biscayne Bay.

JWB Prime Steak and Seafood / Hollywood, FL

Located inside the lobby of Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood will offer a complimentary rum tasting for both locals and resort guests with Zacapa Rums from 6 to 8 pm. Crafted with fresh crushed sugarcane in Guatemala, Zacapa Rums are filled with complex flavors from being aged to perfection in the highlands 8,000 feet above sea level. Attendees can also enjoy food specials and live music from Thais & Flavio, a Bossa Nova duo that blends pop and jazz music.

The resort will also offer all of its signature Boat Drinks for a discounted price of $9 at Margaritaville Restaurant, 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, Lone Palm Beach Bar and LandShark Bar & Grill. Sample boat drinks include the “5 o’Clock Somewhere” made with Margaritaville Silver Rum, Paradise Passion Fruit Tequila, BACARDI® 151° Rum, orange and pineapple juices, sweet & sour and a splash of grenadine, as well as the “Tranquil Waters” made with Cruzan® Mango Rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice and mango.

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach / Fort Lauderdale, FL

Celebrate National Rum Day at the laid-back, sophisticated Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach, where travelers and locals alike seeking a tropical rum cocktail in the heart of Floridian paradise can look no farther. While there, guests can take advantage of the hotel’s handcrafted cocktail of the month, The Hurricane. Providing spectacular views throughout the property, guests can choose to enjoy their passionfruit, lemon and rum cocktail at the pool, lobby bar or with innovative cuisine ranging from lamb rack to yellowtail snapper at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Bistro.

A Few Favorite Recipes

August The Hurricane

August The Hurricane

The Hurricane / Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach
2 oz dark rum
1 oz passion fruit syrup
1 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Spiced Blood Orange

Spiced Blood Orange

Spiced Blood Orange / Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami
1.5 oz. Light Rum
2.5 oz. Blood Orange Puree
Smoked Paprika
Slice Orange for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

Remember to enjoy your alcoholic beverages responsibly.

Travel Tips to Keep Bed Bugs at Bay

Planning an upcoming trip – maybe a long weekend getaway, or a family vacation before the kids head back to school, or perhaps you’re a road warrior who travels frequently for work? No matter what type of trip you have planned, you’ve probably already put together a packing list of what to take along.

But here’s a question: Is there anything on your list you could use if you were to come into contact with bed bugs? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – insects of any kind are the last thing on most people’s minds when planning for paradise. Nevertheless, if you’re not careful, bed bugs could become a most unwelcome part of your travel plans.

Bed bug 101

Research from Ortho shows that 50 percent of Americans know someone who has had bed bugs. However, if you’ve never encountered these pests before, your first question is, naturally, what are they?

Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies.

Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies.

A bed bug is a non-flying insect that feeds on the blood of mammals, like human beings. Bed bugs are small — roughly the same size as an apple seed — with flat bodies. Their flat shape is what allows them to hide in small spaces.

How to spot a bed bug infestation

It doesn’t matter if you’re staying at a 2-star or 5-star hotel, bed bugs do not discriminate and infestations can happen anywhere. If your hotel room has a bed bug infestation, the first thing you may notice is an odor. Many people say it smells sweet like almonds or musty.

When first arriving at your room, place your luggage in the bathtub where bed bugs cannot reach. Then, physically look for bed bugs, checking the seams and folds of your mattress and behind the bed frame and headboard. Remember, bed bugs are very small, so they can easily hide in nooks and crevices. As you check these places, look for shed bed bug skin or black dots (fecal spots) as evidence of their presence.

The Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap is a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour. 

The Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap is a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour.

To determine whether the place you’re staying has bed bugs, you can use a product like Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, a pesticide-free, portable trap that uses a newly identified attractant pheromone to lure, detect and trap bed bugs in under an hour. To use, place the trap in key areas where bed bugs may hide, such as under the bed’s headboard. Then, release the attractant to lure bed bugs out of hiding. In about an hour, check the trap to determine whether you have an issue.

Carry these affordable traps with you whenever you travel and you can go to bed each night assured you’re not sharing your room with bed bugs. If your trap shows your room has bed bugs, immediately contact hotel management to understand your lodging alternatives.

Enjoy your home alone

Remember, even the briefest stay in an infested room could be enough for some of these insects to hitch a ride home with you. Because bed bugs love dark places, the folds of your luggage make for a welcoming environment. Pack a travel-sized aerosol spray on trips, such as Ortho Home Defense Dual-Action Bed Bug Killer, and treat your suitcase before returning home.

When you return home, inspect the seams of your luggage for visible bed bugs. Finally, confirm you didn’t bring any home by placing a trap near your bed or sleeping area. Fortunately, with a little knowledge and the right tools, protecting yourself and your family is easy.

For more information about the Ortho Home Defense Bed Bug Trap, and other products to treat bed bugs, visit Ortho.com/BedBugs. (BPT)

Vallarta’s ‘Casa Dos Cisnes’ Luxury Private Villa Elevates Industry Standards

Secluded five-star Mexican villa offers an ultimate luxury accommodations experience trumping top resorts; boasts its own gourmet private chef, service staff, elite accommodations up to 10 adults and premier on-site amenities—all amid unrivaled ocean views

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

Amid the explosion of “the sharing economy,” the private villa accommodations sector has skyrocketed in recent years. In fact, today’s breed of private villa rentals have become the ultimate in luxury travel lodging for vacationers and business travelers, alike. No surprise, given the vast array of benefits and creature comforts that private villas proffer for couples, families and small groups.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

While maximized privacy, uber-personalized service and heightened cultural immersion serve as key drivers in this market niche, the benefits of renting a private villa residence extend far beyond. Indeed, an elite few offer accommodations and amenities as standard that rival high-end resorts, such as custom-prepared meals from a resident private chef, 24/7 butler service, private infinity-edge ocean overlook pool, security and more. And then there’s Puerto Vallarta’s one-of-a-kind Casa Dos Cisnes.

Having myself vacationed at this five-bedroom colonial style beachfront home, I reveled in the fact that this prolific property extends all of these features and more to ensure each guest’s needs, desires, hopes and expectations for an extraordinary private villa vacation are fulfilled. In doing so, this remarkable retreat is single-handedly setting a new, and decidedly elevated, standard for luxe travel.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photographyer courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photographyer courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Located in Mexico’s fifth largest city in Jalisco, one of the region’s safest states, Casa Dos Cisnes Puerto Vallarta is an exceptional option for a first-class romantic getaway; girl’s weekend; guy’s golfing, fishing or other adventure trip; bachelor/bachelorette parties; family vacations; wellness and beauty excursions; and corporate or other group travel for up to 12 guests (10 adults or 8 adults and 4 small children). With complete privacy and security in the most exclusive area in Puerto Vallarta, including its own 2-car garage, guests commandeer this entire 10,000 square foot, stylishly-appointed authentic Mexican villa home with all of the relaxation, solitude and discretion that affords.

The result is a one-of-a-kind holiday providing an unparalleled culinary and luxury living experience. This includes exclusive use of Casa Dos Cisnes’s phenomenal facilities an array of exceptional 5-star amenities, with many entirely unique and exclusive to this property.  For inquiring detail-driven minds and perennial vacation planners, a list of copious features and benefits this property provides is listed down below.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

My own visit to Casa Dos Cisnes was an enchanted escape with my family. With the ability to stock the kitchen with groceries of our own choosing and the option to specify meal and menu preferences with the resident private chef the day prior—or even the same day—the flexibility and responsiveness was extremely advantageous…especially on those days where the itinerary was uncertain. Only the first night’s meal and first day’s breakfast (if either are desired) need to be specified prior to arrival. From there, just tell the chef what meals you would like each day and he’ll shop the market for the fresh provisions and will expertly prepare the meals at the times you specify.

And, Casa Dos Cisnes boasts no ordinary chef. Among the villa’s most impressive offerings is the inimitable gourmet cuisine proffered by this consummate culinary professional. Upon request, multiple times per day he’ll custom-craft sumptuous gourmet meals and snacks that rival any of the fine dining options in all of Jalisco, which can be paired with fine wines and premium spirits complementing the dishes that he’s happy to recommend, if needed.  Dine in the elegant dining room that seats up to 12, or indulge in an intimate dinner on one of the villa’s many terraces.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

My family’sown menu choices included authentic chicken fajitas and quesadillas (truly the best I have ever had), beef empanadas, filet mignon, broiled lobster tail, mixed seafood ceviche, fresh salmon filet and so much more—not to mention incredible fresh-made guacamole, pico de gallo and tortilla chips, of course. Our breakfast fare centered around Machaca and cheddar omelets and eggs benedict with fresh mango and kiwi. But, alas, choose whatever you and yours want for breakfast, lunch and dinner seatings as well as for midday snacks and happy hour and the chef is happy to oblige.

During the day my family lounged poolside while soaking in the panoramic vistas of the Banderas Bay, played numerous board and card games the villa provides, sipped cocktails and coffee by the various fireplaces, and watched Netflix movies with surround sound in multiple areas of the home—including an entertainment center—where you can lounge on cushioned couches. Throughout, the staff of three was incredibly attentive, always ensuring we were content and well provisioned no matter what activity we were engaged in.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.  Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa. Photography courtesy of Casa Dos Cisnes Private Villa.

As with any luxury resort property, rates for Casa Dos Cisnes vary by date and season. Current per night rates on the low-season end start around $1,000 U.S. and higher-end holiday rates push $2,000 U.S., with some mid-season rates in between. There is also a four night minimum stay required; seven night minimum week of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Bookings can be conveniently arranged online at www.PuertoVallartaLuxuryVilla.com, where property photos and information is abundant.

With scores of honors and accolades as a leading travel destination to its credit, Puerto Vallarta

is a notoriously safe locale on Mexico’s pristine Pacific Coast, making it an extremely popular target among tourists. In fact, according to Agustín Álvarez Valdivia, Director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, 2017 is shaping up to be another record year for Puerto Vallarta. Casa Dos Cisnes’s private entryway and top-notch monitored security further guarantees guest safety and peace-of-mind.

For fun-lovers, foodies, shopaholics and adventurers seeking to enjoy time around town, there is an incredible assortment of nearby activities and attractions as listed on Puerto Vallarta’s official Web’s site “To Do” page that may be accessed here: http://bit.ly/2kQzlHO.

Given the astonishing hoard of highlights found at Casa Dos Cisnes that can only be realized in its exclusive private villa setting, it’s rapidly becoming Puerto Vallarta’s foremost premier private villa vacation experience. Understandable given the price point for this righteous retreat rivals—and often betters—that of a luxury resort, making it a “no brainer” for those seeking to get the most bang for their budget—and more out of their precious time allocated for pleasure travel. Beyond the economics of group accommodations making the “per suite” rate decidedly attractive, the personalized professional chef-driven meal service for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and happy hour cocktails all served amid impeccable ocean views, which is integrated into the rate, furthers the fiscal and other copious advantages.

Casa Dos Cisnes Features and Benefits At-A-Glance:

  • Private villa property
  • 10,000 square feet
  • 2-car garage
  • Complete privacy and security in the most exclusive area in Puerto Vallarta
  • Monitored security system
  • Beautiful traditional colonial-style Mexican furnishings, design and artwork with the comfort of modern amenities and technology
  • Spacious, multiple living areas, rooms and terraces, allowing large groups to comfortably enjoy their own space
  • Stunning ocean view on all floors (4 of the 5 bedrooms and all 4 ensuite bathroom showers/bath have views; 5th bedroom has private courtyard)
  • Sleeps 10 adults or 8 adults and 4 small children
  • 2 working gas fired fireplaces in living room and master terrace
  • 5 bedrooms (including Master room) with air-conditioning, overhead fans, plush king-size beds with feather toppers and premium Egyptian cotton sheets and plush robes
  • Massive master suite: bedroom with private retreat room with big screen TV and Bose system, as well as large private terrace with gas fireplace
  • 4 ensuite bathrooms; 5th bathroom with shower off pool terrace
  • Walk in closet areas with individual safes
  • 2 half bathrooms
  • Brick domes in master bedroom, master corridor, dining and living rooms and spiral staircase
  • Large, spiral staircase to all levels
  • Interior courtyard
  • Multiple terraces on each level of house
  • Infinity pool with incomparable view of ocean
  • 3 full-time, full-service bi-lingual staff working 7 days a week,
  • Gourmet cuisine prepared by dedicated 5-star chef (specializing in Mexican-contemporary cuisine) who can prepare three full meals a day plus snack and happy hour service (*meal preparation is included but not cost of food/beverages, which is charged at actual cost without mark-up)
  • Magical Mexican Fiesta: a lively evening of regional food, cocktails and Mexican musicians entertaining at the villa (additional fee applies)
  • Large separate dining room seating up to 12
  • Separate dining terraces at main and pool levels
  • Full pool bar and grill with large-screen TV
  • Fully equipped state-of-the-art gym
  • US Satellite TV throughout the house
  • Large media-entertainment room (games for family/children)
  • Intimate “away” room off of living room for private conversations or meetings
  • 2 Bose Lifestyle systems with Bose sound system throughout the villa
  • Wi-fi throughout the house; Vonage® phone for free calls to the U.S. and Canada
  • Laundry service
  • Concierge service: staff will help plan and customize activities around Puerto Vallarta including golf, tennis, snorkeling, boating and more
  • Spa services: get pampered by professionals who come to the villa for massages and beauty treatments
  • Recommendations, reservations and VIP treatment at Puerto Vallarta’s most prestigious restaurants
  • Access to new beach club, less than 10 minutes
  • Access to small, secluded beach with tide pools less than 5 minutes
  • Spacious layout and services can easily accommodate weddings, reunions & events
  • 5 minutes from the Romantic Zone (La Zona Romántica) in Old Town Puerto Vallarta

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Merilee Kern

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority—a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Source: http://www.travelweekly.com/Strategic-Content/Sharing-Economy

Enchantment Abounds at Puerto Vallarta’s ‘Rhythms of the Night’ Dinner Show

Written and Contributed By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

Rhythms of the Night is an immersive dinner show experience like none other, transforming your night into an enchanted evening on a mystical land. The experience begins with a relaxing cruise across the Banderas Bay where complimentary snacks and cocktails are served. As the sun sets across the sky, you will be rewarded with a stunning light display along the coastline, as the sun sets and the moon starts to rise. This picture-perfect setting is a primer for the experience ahead. As your cruise ship ports at the secluded Las Caletas cove, you will be greeted with a beautiful starry night, a torch–lit pathway, and mysterious islanders coaxing you to your initial destination.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

As if the nautical journey to this tranquil cove was not enough, your evening will only get exponentially better. The fire-lit path will guide you to an exceptionally romantic outdoor dining area right along the coast. Nature provides the perfect setting for this outdoor dining experience, as a light wind from the Pacific Ocean blows in the air and through the decorative palm trees. Light from the torches and litany of candles scattered about flickers on the water. The sounds of nature are intertwined with table-side serenades from talented musicians wandering through the dining area. The atmosphere alone transforms dinner into a mesmerizing experience.

Guests are then treated to a full-service buffet that includes thoughtfully prepared food selections to accommodate any dietary preference. The buffet includes grilled chicken, fish and steak, along with a delicious display of vegetables, salads, and, of course, tortillas that are hand-made exhibition style. The dessert buffet is equally tantalizing, with cakes, pies, flan and brownies among the many offerings.

After dinner, you will be beckoned to the outdoor amphitheater where talented local artists will perform a spectacular theatrical performance amid the backdrop of a pyramid adorned with candlelight. Through fire, acrobatics, dance, song, music, comedy and magnificent costuming, the performance proudly reenacts some of the ancient customs that highlights the rich history of this region.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE.  Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

RITMOS DE LA NOCHE. Photography courtesy of Vallarta Adventures.

At the conclusion of this perfect enchanted evening, you will receive a final toast as you dance the night away as the cruise ship transports you back to the port with music bumping and cocktails flowing. As with the ride to the cove, the return trip also provides scenic views unique to this part of the world.

Overall, this enthralling evening offers the opportunity to have a relaxing, peaceful and exciting night filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes you will not soon forget. Whether you are looking for the quintessential romantic dinner experience, a fun-filled family adventure, or are planning a group event, an evening with Rhythms of the Night is a magical journey sure to impress. This mesmerizing experience will captivate your heart and leave you spellbound.

~~~

As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern is an internationally-regarded consumer product trends expert and hospitality industry voice of authority–a travel, dining, leisure and lifestyle expert who spotlights noteworthy marketplace innovations, change makers, movers and shakers. She identifies and reports on exemplary travel destinations and experiences, extraordinary events and newsworthy products and services across all categories. Reach her online at
www.TheLuxeList.com, on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList and on Instagram at www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Featuring Katy Johnson: Actress, Model, Show Host, and World Traveler

Photography courtesy of Eduardo Cellabos.

We’re thrilled to feature Katy Johnson as one of our esteemed contributing writers for our May / June 2017 Issue of InFluential Magazine.  She contributed the intriguing article titled A Southeast Asia Experience to Remember which we invite you to read.  Trust us, after you do, you’ll be anxious to book your trip to Southeast Asia!

Who is Katy Johnson?

As an actress, Katy has worked on a number of film and TV series.  She starred in the South African unscripted drama series, “Clifton Shores,” as well as having appeared in USA Network’s “Monk,” and ABC’s “Greek.”  As model, she has been featured in a variety of national magazines and has modeled for clothing and swimwear brands.

Inspired by her own personal struggles with body image and the demands for ‘ideal perfection’ in the entertainment industry, she is beginning work on her documentary “One Model Mission,” in which she intends to visit 196 countries and document 196 definitions of beauty as defined by each culture.

Her passion for animal rights is why Katy is a member of PETA and the National Humane Society.

You can follow Katy on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  For the latest on Katy’s documentary, you can follow her Facebook page One Model Mission.