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

~~~ 

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.

ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants Breaks Ground on Second Location in Austin

83-room boutique hotel expected to debut in East Austin early 2019

ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants is expanding with the boutique hotel brand’s second location in Austin, Texas. Construction recently began on the 83-room property at the corner of East 6th and Chicon streets, located in the emerging East Austin community. The hotel is expected to welcome its first guests early spring 2019.

“East Austin’s energy is magnetic. It is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the country and one we are proud to join and to celebrate. And we look forward to embracing and supporting the local community of East Austin,” said Ezra Callahan, co-founder of ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants.

Each ARRIVE hotel is built for its neighborhood, serving as a crossroads for locals and travelers that celebrates the surrounding style and culture. Embracing the creative spirit of Austin, ARRIVE has assembled a talented team of local designers and developers to partner on the project, including co-developers Alexa Management, project consultants Burton Baldridge Architects, Big Red Dog engineering, dwg. landscape architects and EyeLikeDesign creative design. ARRIVE is also proud to be among the first to build under the Worker’s Defense Project’s Better Builder Program, which ensures that construction staff are paid a living wage and are protected by stringent health and safety guidelines.

The 58,600-square-foot space will integrate a 100-year-old warehouse on the site, utilizing an adaptive approach with traditional industrial materials in its modern design. Consistent with ARRIVE’s standards, all 83 rooms and suites will emphasize comfort and functionality as part of their clean, modern design, with a singular focus on the hotel’s role as a temporary home for its guests.

Immersing guests in local design and tastes, ARRIVE will serve as a lively social hub featuring two neighborhood restaurants and bars, retail and a coffee shop. The hotel’s interiors by Chris Pardo Design will celebrate East Austin’s community of craftsmen, artists and entrepreneurs, while the restaurants will complement the neighborhood’s emergence as home to some of the city’s most loved dining destinations.

In addition to dining and retail, the hotel will feature 3,500 sq. ft. of event and meeting space, including an outdoor courtyard. With a flexible, connected layout, the space can accommodate intimate business meetings and a range of special events or private parties. The hotel is also conveniently located less than 2 miles away from the Austin Convention Center.

ARRIVE East Austin will deliver the streamlined and straightforward service the brand has come to be known for, replacing traditional hotel formalities to appeal to social, savvy visitors seeking a comfortable escape from everyday life. Like other ARRIVE hotels, there will be no front desk, and guests will check in and access all hotel and concierge services and amenities via text message or at the bar. Room rates are expected to start at $199 nightly.

In 2016, the ARRIVE brand launched the first property to much fanfare in the Uptown Design District of Palm Springs. In addition to the forthcoming Austin location, the brand has plans for continued expansion in the coming years.

For more information about ARRIVE, visits arrivehotels.com.

Hotel Granduca Austin Rolls Out Pool Package and Frozen Cocktails

Photography courtesy of Laura Carroll.

Hotel Granduca Austin, Austin’s Tuscan-inspired 194-room property situated atop a hillside oasis, recently launched a summer pool package, Fiesta In Piscina, and a rotating frozen vodka program.

Valid for travel between May 26 and September 4, rates for Festa In Piscina start at $269 per night and are offered Thursday – Sunday nights and include a $25 food and beverage credit per night towards the pool bar. The offer is based upon availability and certain restrictions apply. Book here.

In addition to a poolside selection of cocktails, wine and domestic and imported beer, Hotel Granduca will serve Frozen Vodka-ritas, with flavors including lemon, strawberry, mango, pineapple, rotating every weekend. The poolside menu also includes appetizers of fresh fruit, hummus, salads and sandwiches.

Hotel Granduca Austin is the newest member of the Houston­ based hospitality group, Granduca Hotels by Giorgio Borlenghi. A joint venture between The Interfin Companies, LP and Riverside Resources of Austin, the luxurious 9-story hotel sits atop a breathtaking hill on S. Capital of Texas Hwy near Bee Cave Rd. in Westlake, just a short drive from downtown. The Tuscan-inspired boutique hotel features 194 rooms and suites and 6,650 square feet of meetings and events space. Additionally, Hotel Granduca Austin offers a variety of amenities including original artwork curated from Europe, a billiard room, fitness center, pool, sauna, massage rooms and chauffeur service. The hotel is a member of the prestigious organization, The Leading Hotels of the World, and is the only hotel in Austin with this distinction.

For more information, call (512) 306-6400 or visit granducaaustin.com. Follow Hotel Granduca Austin on Instagram at @hotelgranducaaustin and like the Facebook page.

The New Urban Destination That has the Web Buzzing

There was a time when cities like Paris, Berlin, New York or Tokyo were at the top of many travelers’ lists. The glamour, the glitz and the history of these cities lured many, but times have changed and more people are eager to discover some of the lesser known gems. Cities that, though smaller and less renowned, are just as stunning and full of surprises.

One of these treasures is Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Also known as Mill City, the Mini-Apple, or the City of Lakes, Minneapolis is home to a vibrant music scene, miles of bike trails, a community of creative entrepreneurs and an energy that you just can’t find anywhere else. It’s true that a lot of people shy away from the winters, which can be fierce, but those who go during the summer usually leave with plans to return. Here are five reasons why.

  1. The amazing music scene. With large venues such as Target Field and the U.S. Bank Stadium, big-name superstars regularly visit the city. But locals will tell you it’s the numerous smaller venues that make a night out in Minneapolis such an unforgettable experience. From the legendary First Avenue, where Prince began his career, to smaller settings like the Fine Line Music Café or Dakota Jazz Club, there’s live music for everyone.
  2. A new sports stadium. When the U.S. Bank Stadium opened last year, Minneapolis had a new home for the Minnesota Vikings and could brag about having one of the most state-of-the-art football stadiums in the country. But football is only part of the story. In this sports-crazed town you’re only ever a few miles away from world-class hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer and lacrosse.
  3. An innovative culture. With dozens of theater companies, art museums, galleries and creative agencies, Minneapolis has earned a reputation as a city oozing with creative energy. And it happens on all levels. Take the new Radisson Red Minneapolis. Located right in the heart of downtown, Radisson Red was designed to revolutionize the travel experience and enhances the stay experience through art, music and fashion. In addition to the stunning mural in the lobby by local artist Adam Turman, the re-energized rooms feature inspired designs. If guests get hungry, the OUIBar + KTCHN features freshly prepared local fare and an expert staff that can tell you all you need to know about the city.
  4. Food and brews. An epicenter of dining, Minneapolis has kept pace with the coastal dining scene and in many respects, has outpaced other cities due to the availability of local food from the surrounding area. And if you’re a beer lover, be sure to block off an afternoon or three to tour the many nationally recognized tap houses in town, including the funky Dangerous Man Brewing Co. and Young Joni, where the head chef Ann Kim was recently honored by the James Beard Foundation.
  5. A city that caters to the outdoor adventurer. Visitors are usually surprised by how many people they see biking around Minneapolis, and can enjoy the hundreds of miles of bike lanes and trails by renting a bike from one of the many kiosks around the city. If you want to mix things up a bit, numerous outfitters offer kayak tours of the Mississippi, or you can rent a stand-up paddle board at one of the many city lakes.

We could go on, but it might be more fun to make your own list of favorites by visiting Minneapolis yourself. Summer is here, so book a room at the new Radisson Red Minneapolis, stay in the heart of downtown, and discover one of America’s great cities. (BPT)

Where to Celebrate National Wine Day on May 25

Need ideas on where, around the globe, to celebrate National Wine Day on May 25? We have a few thrilling ideas!

Ama Vida Alfresco Dining

Ama Vida Alfresco Dining

AmaWaterways

In celebration of National Wine Day on May 25, AmaWaterways is inviting travelers to toast to the holiday with a special offer available on its wine-themed cruises – showcasing the acclaimed wine regions along Europe’s Danube, Douro, Mosel, Rhine, Rhone and Seine Rivers. Travelers who book an AmaWaterways wine-themed sailing can now save up to $1,500 per stateroom, with dates available throughout 2017, and will have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich heritage of the world’s most famed wine regions. AmaWaterways’ wine cruises are hosted by top wine experts and feature complimentary lectures, wine tastings, exquisite cuisine with paired wines and exclusive shore excursions to historic vineyards and wineries, as well as private wine cellar tours. In addition, AmaWaterways’ co-owners – Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst – collaborated with winemaker, Jim Clendenen, to make AmaWaterways’ very-own Concerto Wine. The partnership has resulted in a red Pinot with flavor notes of dark red fruit, wild strawberries, earth, spice and cocoa.

Lodge Seating Area

Lodge Seating Area

Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa / Young Harris, GA

Situated amongst the Blue Ridge Mountains and just two hours outside of Atlanta, Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa is the perfect destination to celebrate National Wine Day.  With North Georgia’s wineries continuing to earn praise from critics and wine-lovers alike, the resort offers ease of access to the regions most acclaimed vineyards and tasting rooms.  Guests may book a stay at this luxurious resort to experience this new wine destination and tantilize their taste buds, while enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami

Sonesta Coconut Grove Miami / Miami, FL

Recently unveiling its new happy hour menu, Sonesta Coconut Grove’s widely recognized restaurant, Panorama Restaurant & Sky Lounge, provides for the ultimate spot with great deals to celebrate National Wine Day. Guests can relax and unwind with an appealing range of wine options by the glass for $5, as well as light bites ranging from sweet chili glazed wings to roasted garlic hummus and pita chips, while overlooking breathtaking views of beautiful Biscayne Bay.

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach / Fort Lauderdale, FL

Celebrate National Wine Day at the laid-back, sophisticated Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach, where wine enthusiasts seeking great wine, cuisine and unobstructed views can look no farther. Providing spectacular views and innovative cuisine at the hotel, Bistro Restaurant, is offering half price wine bottles with the purchase of any entrée during National Wine Day only. While there, guests can overlook the sugar-sand beach and taste dishes and appetizers ranging from lamb rack short rib ravioli while sipping on a favorite choice of wine.