Newport Family Wedding

I have a huge family - siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. This happens when you are half Irish, and half Italian. People BREED. The greatest thing about my family is that we all make an effort to show up for the big events - especially weddings. My cousin Dan married Marisa this weekend and so I hit 95 (the most crowded highway in the world) and drove up for the festivities. 

I lived in Portsmouth, Rhode Island (20 minutes from Newport) until I was 10, and would return every summer until the end of high school.

If you do one thing in Newport, have a drink at Castle Hill Inn, this gorgeous Relais & Chateaux property on a peninsula overlooking the water. The lawn is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Of course, you have to visit the famous mansions too, built for insanely wealthy turn-of-the-century families like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts to live in for six weeks a year. They called them "summer cottages."

For more of my Rhode Island tips - check out my guide here.

Castle Hill, Newport

Castle Hill, Newport

Summer To-Do List in New York

Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, Brooklyn

Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, Brooklyn

Summer passes in an instant and there is so much I want to do in the city before the air turns chilly again.

Here is my list!


Do my favorite Prospect Park bike ride once a week in Brooklyn, the loop around the park. It's the best 45-minute ride from my apartment and back.

Ride my bike again to Coney Island on America's oldest bike path, Ocean Parkway, and get pizza at Totonno's.

Walk from Central Park home to Brooklyn, stopping at favorite places along the way in the Village and TriBeCa.

Go to Governor's Island with a great book and lay out on the grass.

Take Rocco to off-leash time in Prospect Park (before 9am) at least once a week. He loves it and so do I!

Cool Exhibitions:

China: Through The Looking Glass - at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, through Sept 7, 2015

Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland - at The Morgan Library, through October 11, 2015

Sinatra: An American Icon - at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts through Sept 4, 2015

Visit The Whitney's new location downtown & eat at Untitled, Danny Meyer's cafe (he of Shake Shack fame)


Eat more Ample Hills ice cream - it's seriously addicting, especially the oatmeal lace.

Buy lots of tomatoes at the greenmarket and eat them with sea salt, olive oil, & grilled bread.

Try at least two of these lobster rolls that I haven't tried - The Best Lobster Rolls in NYC

Writing this out makes me realize again how amazing it is to live in New York - and how I can let it pass me by sometimes, because I'm out of town, jet-lagged, or just lazy. It's the best city in the world!!

Peaking in Hong Kong

Recently, I stayed in Hong Kong for three nights, with only one free afternoon. Major tease. I was there for my third Virtuoso Symposium, a travel conference where I learn so much and want to hang out with everyone.

The skyline of Hong Kong is unbelievable. I live in New York, where the skyline takes my breath away, but it feels like a labrador puppy compared to Hong Kong's. You just can't believe it's real - and you feel its energetic, sultry vibe almost immediately.

I managed to hop on The Peak Tram for a panoramic, WOW view of Hong Kong. We stopped for ice cream with caramel popcorn on top (!) in the blazing heat. I visited several gorgeous hotels but stayed on the Island Shangri-La club level, in a room which made my heart jump whenever I looked out the window.

They do fancy things like change the elevator carpet to reflect the day of the week. This was helpful, as multiple time zone changes had me waking up in a fog shaking around a bit to remember where I was.

Click through the gallery below, if you'd like to see a few photos!

Cafe Martin - My Favorite Brooklyn Coffee Shop

If you come to Brooklyn, please find your way to tiny Cafe Martin in Park Slope. Go around 9am on the weekend. Read The New York Times. Say hi to Martin - he's an Irishman with a wonderfully endearing sneer. Get the best cappuccino of your life and maybe tack on a buttery croissant or a crumbly muffin. I love this place and it's one of my first stops whenever I get home from a trip. This isn't a place where you'll whip out your laptop and get some work done. But it is the perfect place to slow down.

The Ritz-Carlton Naples

When I first started this site, it was called Hotel Belle. It was just as blogging was becoming "a thing" and I knew I wanted to carve out a niche in travel, so I focused on hotels. I'd say this lasted about six months and then my writing/blogging career took off in an entirely different way that I hadn't imagined.

That said, I still am obsessed with hotels. I love amazing hotels. It's part of everything I do. The great ones are some of the most magical places on the planet. I'd rather stay home than stay in a hotel that I don't love.

Last week, I spoke at the Ritz-Carlton regional meeting in Miami, with Johnny Jet & Natalie DiScala. We had a blast. But before I went to Miami, I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton beach resort in Naples (they also have a golf resort, but my passion for golf is...nonexistent).

It's this big, fancy hotel fantasy - the design is Mediterranean but the beach (and humidity!) is very Florida. There's something I love about these huge American resorts - waking up lazily, having a great breakfast with orange juice AND a cappuccino, slathering sunscreen on, dressing up, having cocktails, going for dinner.

I went to their gorgeous spa for the signature Intuitive Retreat. You send them a form beforehand telling them what you're struggling with (who ISN'T stressed in some way?) and they create a program just for you. I soaked in a seaweed bath, got a chakra massage, personalized bath scrubs, and more. I'd go back to the Ritz for Jeanine. She kneads you like a ball of pizza dough, hitting all the right spots. When I left, I was a dazed, floppy noodle - perfect.

Best of all - I got to see some of my family for dinner and brunch.