My Galápagos Islands Eco Adventure

My Galápagos Islands Eco Adventure

The Galapagos Islands, A UNESCO world Heritage Site; brings Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to life.

This has always been on my bucket list. I have been fascinated by Darwin’s work on evolution and have looked forward to walking amongst dramatic landscapes, primeval Iguanas, and Blue Footed Boobies. Amazingly, this remote site consisting of Islands and archipelagoes was formed millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions and has been relatively untouched by man.

The greater number of the animals you will see in the Galápagos Islands are found nowhere else. Think about that….. This is the one place where animals have adapted and evolved with little or no predators and which defined the therory of natural selection and evolution which Charles Darwin presented in 1859.

Blue Footed Boobies

Though great conditions for exploring abound yearlong, the best times to visit the islands is from December through June. The weather ranges between the 70’s and 80’s and the snorkeling and hiking are great.

Landing in Quito, at an altitude of 9,350 ft, might be daunting; but we were not affected by the altitude at all. The capital of Ecuador is surrounded by snowcapped mountains just a few miles from the equator. This is where, in the 18th century a multinational expedition located at zero degrees latitude established an accurate measurement of the earths size for the first time. The city is filled with such history.

Quito, Equador

My hubby, eyes closed and all! 

The magnificent Spanish colonial architecture and Baroque style churches mixed with a lively street life makes the city a great place to explore. Stay at Casa Gangotena if you can. If not at least take yourself to dinner there.

After a six hundred mile flight off the coast you will arrive in Baltra and embark on your ship. With naturalists to guide you and evening educational speakers, I can’t think of a better way to be guided through this experience.

The Gardens at Hotel Casa Gangotena 

I was prepared for all the islands to be arid and desolate. Our first island Fernandina was just that. The slopes of the La Cumbre Volcano are like a lunar landscape but you are rewarded by the largest concentration of wildlife in the Galapagos. Between flightless cormorants Sea Lions , marine iguanas , pelicans and the smallest penguins on earth, the island does not disappoint.

Off of Isabella Island we came face to face with an Orca Whale. Enough said! Well there is more. Fleets of dolphins jumping by the hundreds and on land the most beautiful birds and largest land iguanas in the world .

Orca Whale, Galapagos Islands

Giant Tort

Santa Cruz is home to the Charles Darwin Research Center. Don’t miss it. The Giant Tortoises can be seen at a conservatory called Primicias as well. The countryside is lush there are farms and ranches and the local food is wonderful. We visited a farm called Fortiz. . BTU I saw some nice jewelry stores in town and a few boutique hotels The beaches are pristine and you can swim amongst colorful reef fish, marine iguanas and lava gulls.

We kayaked the islands amongst mangroves with sea lions napping on limbs and playful babies swimming up curiously as we paddled by. We snorkeled above feeding turtles as the smallest penguins on earth rocket by under us. We watched the delicate finches in the trees using twigs as eating utensils and we almost tripped over the hundreds of black iguanas as they disappeared into the black lava rock by the sea. We observed the largest tortoises in the world and the smallest crabs in the ocean. We saw a lake with pink flamingos and walked by a coral reef stranded 20 feet above the waters’ surface by a volcano.

Sleepy Sea Lions

Go Now! It was an experience I will never forget and would do again in a heartbeat. There is a reason why we protect our eco systems: the diversity, outstanding beauty and fleeting nature of it all reminds us of the wonders of our planet and our responsibility to not abuse it. Go forth and adventure! 

Family Friendly Travel: Dallas Rockwall Hilton

Family Friendly Travel: Dallas Rockwall Hilton

We spend a lot of time in Dallas. Between visiting the kids (and now our granddaughter) or escaping the Montana Winters, we like to find hotels that we can call home. We’ve stayed at ALL of the posh places in Dallas but the newly remodeled Hilton Dallas Rockwall Lakefront is our home away from home when we are visiting the family!
Our suite is expansive and just the ticket for us. Between a large living area, a bedroom with a comfortable king size bed, two balconies and 1 1/2 baths it gives us all the space we could possibly need for an extended stay. Here the view from our rooms . Oh.! Did I mention a little bar area with a fridge microwave and coffee set up?!
Working out is part of my routine and this area is large enough with TV and all the equipment you would need. Bonus, the door leading directly to the pool!
The menu at the pool will get you everything you want. From salads to pizza from cocktails to sparking water. There is also a lovely shallow end away from the crowd to play with your grandkids.
Relax and meet friends or work in the newly remodeled living area. Including computers and a printer. You have everything you need.
The dinning room, Heirloom Kitchen, offers a great selection. From a breakfast buffet to a la carte dining. I found everything I wanted for myself and my picky eaters!
A rainy evening and we are off to C&B Scene for a pre dinner cocktail. In my case one of their great selection of wines !
Just outside the door of the this wonderful hotel, the amenities abound. A sunset sail. @sailwithscott is a wonderful adventure. Many and varied restaurants, outdoor entertainment and music are just a short stroll away. If you want to drive. Downtown Dallas can be as close as 30 minutes or less.
Alas! It’s time to go. But stay tuned for the remodel of the hotel rooms to be finished by mid next year. I can’t wait to show you our newly improved suite, the space is fantastic and a modern look will be just the ticket. Can’t wait. See you again soon and thanks for that great Hilton Hospitality!!
Travel: Puerto Vallarta

Travel: Puerto Vallarta

Puerta Vallarta and all it it’s hidden treasures!
For us, taking an all girls family trip does not take much planning since it’s just the three of us. My sister, daughter and I. This time we chose a close destination for all of us, Puerto Vallarta and two of our favorite off the beaten path side trips; Yelapa and Sayulita.

Garza Blanca Preserve, Puerto Vallarta

As a citizen of the world, I’ve never been a tourist. As a matter of fact, I try to avoid them at all costs! So when we go to Puerto Vallarta we avoid the north part of the coastline and stay on the southern coast where there are no cruise ships or “trendy” bars. We liked that Garza Blanca was a family friendly luxury beach resort. The property offers all inclusive hotel packages as well as room only hotel rates (which is the route we went). The waters were warm and protected and the sand was bright white! We learned to paddle board in the calm bay, participated in a Strawberry Full Moon ritual on the beach and practiced Kundalini Yoga in the trees! Garza Blanca has all of the amenities that you family and friends would need without leaving the comfort of the Resort.

Hotel Mousai, Puerto Vallarta

Affiliated with the Garza Blanca Preserve (and just up the hill) is the super hip and visually stunning Hotel Mousai. We did not stay here this time (but will next time for sure!) but did take them up on their amenities including a 5-Star sushi dinner and roof top infinity pool that overlooks the bay. The hotel screams exclusive and high end. A must see, a must eat, a must stay (and swim) for sure!

Hotel Lagunitas, Playa Yelapa

Years ago I found a beautiful, at that time almost uninhabited, cove called Yelapa. I almost hesitate to mention it since it was such a quite place far from the tourists. Alas, now the day boats come and go regularly. To my surprise though, it still remains very much untouched. Especially if you stay past the daily “prime time”. It was in Yelepa that I parasailed for the first time the good old fashioned way; right off the beach with just a harness! I love an adventure, it keeps you young!

Ride the local water taxi if you want the “real” experience. We go to the bus stop by our hotel and ride it past Jolla de Mismaloya to the last stop Boca de Tomaltan. Then walk down to the bay to catch the local water taxi. Follow these images to know that you are there!

In a past life, I have stayed at the Hotel Lagunitas which is right on the Playa. It was neat to show Serena around the hotel, We even got to peak into the room that I once stayed in (pictured below). There is nothing better than sleeping in the open air of these huts listening to the ocean breathe. A truly meditative and expansive experience.

Villa Amor Boutique Hotel, Sayulita

We rented a Jeep through Eneterprise to take the hour drive up the coast to the little town of Sayulita. Known as a surfing paradise with 10 incredible surf breaks, the village is friendly, colorful and down to earth; a true representation of Mexican heritage and culture.

Tucked way from the hustle and bustle is Villa Amor Boutique Hotel. The property offers a one of a kind experience with 25 unique and beautifully-designed oceanfront luxury villas it is just a short walk to Playa Sayulita. It is a truly magical and very romantic experience.


Travel: Cayman Islands

Travel: Cayman Islands

What a wonderful girls trip! 
Serena and I had a blast in the Cayman Islands with a group of new and old girlfriends. Playing around with women of different ages has always been a joy to me! I learn from each generation and each decade. Sharing our ideas and experiences brings growth to all of us. If you haven’t spent quality time with your Gal Pals lately put something on the books now!  As you can see in my multigenerational photo shoot #17to71 it’s always an eye opening and joyous experience!

Seafire, Grand Cayman

Kimpton has done it again and this time it is in the form of their lifestyle resort Seafire! A brand new, sprawling and truly magnificent resort at the far end of Seven Mile Beach. The open air design of this property offers water vistas every chance it gets! We enjoyed a front row seat to our last sunset in Grand Cayman over drinks at one of their many dining destinations and got lost in their winding gardens that lead to secret sanctuaries. A must see and for me a MUST STAY next time we are on the Island.

The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman

This beautifully sprawling property is the essence of Luxury for Grand Cayman. The resort has a photo opp around every corner, breathtaking views, 6 restaurants, la prairie spa, and two outdoor pools. It is a one shop stop for a restful and luxurious vacation on the Island. Our girl gang loved dinning on the outdoor terrace with the sea breeze and of course Serena and I ran around the beautiful property and snapped same photos!

Coral Stone Club, Grand Cayman

If you like to find your luxury and relaxation in the comfort of your own home, might I recommend Coral Stone Condos. The eight of us stayed here (in two condos of corse!) which is conveniently located RIGHT next to the Ritz! The property has all of the amenities of being at home; that is, if your home is beachfront with endless views from your private patio and comes with a lovely and friendly staff to assist you in your every need! Serena cooked us a beautiful family dinner in our state of the art kitchen and we relaxed in the private infinity pool and jacuzzi every evening! This property is perfect for family getaways and adventures with your friends!

Georgia Girl Charters

We’re not fisherman, just loungers. But that didn’t make a lick of difference for the crew of Georgia Girl Charters who are known for their incredible fishing expeditions. Our captain and first mate took us on an amazing adventure as we sailed to lunch then to Sting Ray Bay where we made out with the puppies of the sea! Did you know that kissing a Sting Ray will bring you 10 years of good luck? I’ll let you know if it works!

Lotta Love

Lotta Love

We had such a blast in the Cayman’s earlier this month to celebrate our dear friend, Lori’s birthday. Packing for the trip had to include all of my favorite Lotta Stensson silk kaftans. I love their ease of use, they go from beach to street and day to night effortlessly.

I hired Cayman’s photographer Julie Corsetti of Deep Blue Images to take some memorable photos of our birthday girl and her gals. It was a great experience where we all stepped out of our comfort zone to feel beautiful and confident.

Thank you so much Lori, Marcie, Patti, Cecily and Caroline for trusting Serena and I in this vision. And of course to our favorite resort line Lotta Stensson for the gorgeous dresses! We’ll always have the memories! xoxo

Packing Light: Cayman Islands Edition

Packing Light: Cayman Islands Edition

I love to pack for a trip! It’s part of the fun of traveling!  Now, I don’t know how many people can say that, but for me, it is the beginning of the adventure, I also pride myself on rarely checking luggage.  The eagerness of going right out the airport doors and getting on with the adventure is worth all the preplanning. With that in mind I have a few tips that might help.

Decide on a color palette

A few weeks ago, Beth @styleatacertainage was commenting about taking clues from the colors in any scarf when wondering what to wear.  Good advise.  In this case I took a wonderful Lotta Stenssen Kaftan as my inspiration and ended up choosing a cobalt blue and coral red combination.

Travel comfortably but look stylish

I Always travel in jeans a T shirt and a coat or sweater and  scarf .  In this case I will  be going into a chilly city and then on to the islands, so I choose dark jeans a white T and a tomato red trench and a colorful scarf.

Take  multi- purpose clothing

Slip dresses are a saving grace and can go from beach cover-up  to dinner with a  quick change of shoes and earrings.

Loose pants and a blouses or Tee’s are light to pack and can go from breakfast to  the market or the beach.

Bathing suits and scarves. I always overpack these. One piece suits double as body suits scarves as sarongs. Swimwear addicted!!!

Shoes take up a lot of space so think these out carefully.

If you are taking sneakers make them light and travel in them. Slides. In this case flats in Denim.   Heels!  A splurge really but worth it even if I don’t use them.

Cosmetics. Here you have to take small jars, that goes without saying. I have a very simple routine so that takes up little space. Sunblock, night cream, day  cream. That’s it.  A bit of eye  makeup and lipstick and I’m out the door.  My hair on the other hand is usually …. well I’m bored  just thinking about it.

Jewelry. Don’t forget this. It can take a simple look and polish you up.

Don’t forget the perfume.  In this case I’ll take Vetiver from Le Labo.

Remember your color palette everything has to go with everything. I take a carry on and a large tote with my purse inside it.

My routine a week before I leave is this.  I take out a rolling rack or go to the spare room closet and start choosing items and moving them over.  I take everything that inspires me, is in the right color palette, or just speaks to me.  I don’t judge (yet).

After that I start adding and omitting and making a list of what is missing.  Over time I end up with about a third of what I originally brought in.  Don’t worry about being without something.  In the end I wear about two thirds of what I’m taking and I’m never lacking.  You will see how empowering it is to go relatively unencumbered and still

Look Fabulous .

City Slicker

City Slicker

There is nothing like a staycation to quickly regenerate the spirit.

Denim on Denim (The Texas Tuxedo ) was a trend I have always shied away from.  In this case I embraced it and loved the look!  Between the embroidered jeans and the vintage Levi’s jacket I could not have been more appropriately dressed to arrive at The Firebrand Hotel n Whitefish.  Thank you Lori and Dan Avrill for allowing us to shoot on location.

Mixing the feminine and masculine always has a surprising effect.  A camo or leather jacket over an evening gown for instance.  In this case the army jacket with the print skirt worked well with the ever so on trend corset belt.  And, high heels always work with a pencil skirt.

For cocktails and dinner a robe like dress with a short neutral slip makes for a comfortable dinner look. The print is a great backdrop for the YSL cross body  bag and a statement necklace and vintage cuff seal the deal.