Welcome to the Del - Coronado

I just finished a week in Florida - Naples, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Key West - and flew straight to San Diego. I'm on assignment with National Geographic, which means I'm on the go, researching, eating, finding cool spots, taking photos, updating social media, meeting people from early mornings into the night, and writing, writing, writing late into the night (99.5% of the time it is amazing!!). But I had to take a moment and show you the view from my room at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.

I started this blog originally to write about hotels because I loved them so much - and my life and work has evolved so much. But to stay at this iconic hotel - well my heart skipped a beat when I walked into the lobby. And a few beats more when I saw this view.

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Imanta Punta de Mita

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I think we all need a little Minute Vacation today - some eye candy to brighten up winter! I love lounging around in sweaters and drinking hot chocolate as much as the next 30-something female but this winter has broken my self-imposed rule of trying not to bitch about the weather. Because you know...it's the weather. Not a whole lot I can do to change it!

I'm dreaming of being back at Imanta Punta de Mita in Mexico - and I think you will too. I wrote more about it here too - The Temptation of Punta de Mita - if you're interested.

Here are a few gorgeous photos and not so many words.

P.S. - Gwyneth is a fan too. #goopforever

Translated, she said - "It is a family hotel with all the flavor of Mexico, and not many people from the United States come here. It is the latest treasure I've found. I love anything that has a Latin flavor, it's hard to explain ... maybe it's that the people are more open and friendly, have more fire, more heart..."

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My Hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos

Infinity pool with a view of Mount Phou Si I woke up early every morning at my hotel, La Résidence Phou Vao, in the tiny former royal capital city of Luang Prabang, to watch the fog over the iconic Mount Phou Si. The entire stay was pretty much ridiculous. I woke up at 7 a.m. to do yoga by the spa with views of green mountains and a lotus pond. I imbibed in the hotel's signature drink, the Lao-tini (YUM) alongside copious amounts of sticky rice. And the best meal of my time in Laos was one I helped to cook during a class at the hotel.

You can take one of their bikes and zip off to town, which I highly recommend. It's a bit removed from the center of Luang Prabang which is so nice to relax but just a short bike ride away (or you can take their shuttle).

All of these things certainly help ease the awful jet lag you get when you go to Asia. It hits me so badly. Just when I think I've got a handle on it, it's time for me to go home. But yes, I know it's a small annoyance in exchange for a life-changing adventure. 

I wish you had been there with me - it was so dreamy in that wonderful, exotic "I can't believe I'm here" kind of way. If you're interested, I wrote a piece for my National Geographic column here, called "The Mystical Riches of Luang Prabang."

Here's a little tour of my hotel, starting with my room, the balcony, and the views you'll want to wake up for - or maybe you're a prisoner to jet lag like me, and already wide awake at 3 a.m. Either way, you'll want to be up early to just....stare.

My beautiful bed in Luang Prabang Cappuccino & a good book please! View from my room after the fog had lifted a bit I couldn't get enough of this view of Mount Phou Si Then there was this gorgeous little courtyard area outside my room - those stairs lead up to my door on the left. This was such a honeymoon hotel - in fact, my entire trip to Laos & Cambodia was. I had just gotten married, but sadly, my husband was at home.

At the entrance to the hotel At 6:50 a.m., this is the path I shuffled along to get to the Mekong Spa & my yoga class at 7 a.m. Pure bliss.

Yoga viewAnd how gorgeous is this doorway? Just off the main restaurant and infinity pool area, you'll find this which I thought was so cool.

Finally - if you go, order yourself a Lao-tini! It was addicting.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, Arizona

You can't compare Four Seasons to any other hotel brand - they are above and beyond spectacular in every way. Continuing on the Arizona trip with Visit Phoenix and a most amazing group of ladies, we headed to the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale. The Scottsdale property is so integrated into the landscape that you couldn't feel any closer unless you were sleeping with the cacti (no thanks!). The desert vistas are home to me, but add in the mouthwatering steak and seafood at Talavera (which has the BEST SUNSET VIEW in Scottsdale), drinks, mini spa treatments, yoga on the lawn, and stargazing with a pro astronomer? I was most definitely NOT at home and it made for a memorable weekend.

The guest rooms are in casitas that gaze out at the Arizona terrain, which is nearly silent at night. And the interiors reflect what I'd want my dream Arizona home to look like - a cozy fireplace and a palette of desert pinks, purples, and oranges. I love so many of the Scottsdale hotels, but this one reflects the Arizona I love the most in its layout and design. Plus we spotted Giada de Laurentiis getting her hair done in the salon before her book signing in Kierland Commons!

The best time of day

I miss these ladies!

Entrance to my room

Loved all these paths through the resort

Arizona PerfectionSo many great views! Caught a beautiful weddingThe lobby at nightLobby during the dayCan't wait to go back when I'm home

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass And The Best Massage Ever

View from my roomI got the best massage of my life at Aji Spa (meaning "Sanctuary" in the Pima language) at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Arizona. Already, I've had three friends go see this therapist because of my experience and they say the same thing. At the spa, I met Jason, he put his hand on my back, and started asking questions about my trip and what I was doing at Wild Horse Pass. I later learned that's his first indication of how tense someone is, by how their back tightens. I was coming off of two months of air travel all over the world and my back was killing me. He told me he works with a lot of football players so he'd take it down a couple of notches for me on the Gila River Rock Massage. I don't know how he did it, but I never had to say a word - he knew where every painful knot, and chronic tight muscle was and made them disappear.

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Waiting Area in Aji SpaI also met with Belen Stoneman, an extremely gifted Native American woman specializing in therapeutic massage and healing techniques - the type of person that calms you and inspires simply by being in the same room.

Where we met with Belen at Aji Spa

Healthy Spa FoodI had been invited on this trip with Visit Phoenix with a fabulous group of travel and digital superstars that became friends by the end. Staying at a hotel in my hometown was a little bit strange at first. But Wild Horse Pass reminded me what I love most about my home state - the mountain ranges that are wise, the cacti that reflect home to me, the great food and wine from Arizona.

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Lobby at night"Friend, Welcome to my house. It is good to see you. The creator be with you."We went horseback riding through the Koli Equestrian Center on property and came across a group of wild horses with their babies. We were quiet, privileged to be there, watching, on the edge of what is their land, not ours.

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On My Horse! Our Wonderful GroupAlso, we didn't go on this trip but I love take first-time Arizona visitors to Rawhide, right next to Wild Horse Pass. It's designed to look like an 1880's Western town, with a steakhouse & saloon and gold panning, burro rides, and a petting zoo for kids. Oh, and a mechanical bull. You get in for free, and then just pay for the attractions you want. 

Yum - gorgeous smoothies from breakfast - a welcome treat after so much rich (yes, delicious but I miss making my own stuff!) food on the road.

Breakfast Smoothie Shots