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.

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Ireland: The Village of Enniskerry

My family had stayed at The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt on our last trip to Ireland a few years ago, just 30 minutes outside of Dublin, in beautiful County Wicklow. We loved the nearby village of Enniskerry so much that we decided to stop for lunch again last week on our way back from Glendalough.

This is an ideal day trip from Dublin if you want to get away for just a bit - you get a real taste for the Irish countryside by exploring the Powerscourt Estate, gardens, and waterfall, and stopping for lunch in Enniskerry. Poppies is our favorite for breakfast or lunch - great sandwiches, quiches, and vegetables. If you feel like ice cream, try a cone from the adorable Sugar & Ice near the town clock. Ever see the movie Leap Year, with Amy Adams? You'll recognize Enniskerry and Poppies, from the scene where they miss the bus. The entire Powerscourt area has been the backdrop for many movies, for how beautifully Irish it is.

My Interview With The President of Ritz-Carlton

The Ritz-Carlton debuts their second Reserve property, Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico, this December, after Phulay Bay in Thailand. I interviewed the President & COO of Ritz-Carlton, Herve Humler, to get more information and am SO excited about this hotel opening. Especially Su Casa, which was THE place to spend a vacation in the 60s (JFK and many more stayed there). It has been restored to its original glory as a four-bedroom villa. EVERY suite and room here will be on the beach. Definitely on my list for 2013.

Here's my interview and scoop on Dorado Beach!

 

8 Luxury Travel Trends for Summer 2012-From World's Top Hotels

Check out my latest piece on Forbes - 8 Luxury Travel Trends for Summer 2012 - I love summer and hotels, so this piece was extra fun to write.

I chatted with some of the world's top hotel brands, including Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Orient-Express, and a great cruise line, Regent Seven Seas, about what they're seeing and the number one thing? People are traveling a LOT. Great news.

The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, California

Sometimes, there's a view at a hotel that stops you in your tracks and forces you to focus on where you are.  I think of the pagoda at the Banyan Tree Lijiang in China or my plunge pool at the Four Seasons Resort in Costa Rica. At the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, this view shows off Southern California in all its glory.

This terrace was one of the most blissfully perfect locations for a drink that I've seen.

And I would be okay having four-hour lunches with a view like this.

Even better for me now, the resort is pet-friendly! Great pool areas too. 

A few more "Holy S, is that Photoshopped!?" pictures:

Beyond the grand views and location in Laguna Niguel (six miles from Laguna Beach), the rooms unfortunately felt uninspired, which is obvious in this photo of the living area of a suite. I believe I read recently that they are giving the rooms a facelift soon, which will better match the indoors with the outdoor beauty. 

There's a beautiful spa and my favorite part was this view from the fitness center.