Moody Gardens Holiday of Lights

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Events, Travel Blog

Moody Gardens should be on your holiday calendar every year! Offering something for all ages, from the Festival of lights, to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 4-D, your family will enjoy time spent here.

We arrived around 4:00pm to give us a time to explore the property before dusk. Start with a quick tour of the rainforest pyramid. This is the type of exhibit you can explore at your own pace. Be sure to look for the River Otter and watch out for the White-faced Saki monkeys who literally roam the tree tops of the rainforest.

No visit to Moody Gardens would be complete without saying hello to the penguins. You’ll encounter some sharks as you take the Caribbean tunnel to see the penguins.

Next, The North Pole meets the Caribbean as Moody Gardens introduces ICE LAND: Ice Sculptures, A Caribbean Christmas. For the third year in a row, Carvers have come from China to sculpt two million pounds of ice. This cool holiday attraction features nine scenes such as scuba diving, a towering oilrig, tropical fish and more; all maintained at a chilling nine degrees.

 

At dusk it’s time to walk the one-mile Festival of lights trail filled with sound-enhanced lighting and animated displays. This leisurely walk features spectacular lights, trains, fish, butterflies, and culminates with the North Pole. The walk takes about 30 minutes.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS

Admission to the Festival of Lights is $10.95 and other ticking options vary.

Luxury hotels arrive in Bryan College Station

November 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

the-george-3

The George

Bryan-College Station is quickly becoming one of the state’s top emerging leisure destinations. Who would have thought? But with the opening of not one, but three boutique hotels by March 2017, along with new leisure amenities including a lake, hiking trails, and restaurants and retail, Bryan-College Station is poised to be more than just Texas A&M.

The leisure boom starts with The Stella, a sleek 4-star property opening in March 2017. The Stella will offer amenities such as a seasonally driven restaurant, hip craft cocktail bar, specialty coffee roaster, outdoor pool and poolside cabanas. The hotel, which is just minutes away from the acclaimed Traditions Club and Community, is surrounded by an abundance of new restaurants and retail stores, as well as a new 5-acre lake, waterfront park, various health/wellness activities and over two miles of hiking trails.

calvary-court-3

Calvary Court

In addition to the The Stella, Houston-based Valencia Group is opening two new properties in the coming months; Calvary Court, a 141-room new vintage inspired property and The George, a 162-room boutique hotel that will bring an authentic, refined experience to the area.

 

 

TOP OF THE ROCK

November 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Top of the Top of the Rock is a nature-based heritage preserve and majestic extension of the award-winning resort experience at Big Cedar Lodge. A true celebration of the land, animals, and people that came before us, Top of the Rock honors the alluring landscape and rich history of southwest Missouri. The preserve offers two award-winning golf experiences, adventures through ancient limestone canyons, remarkable restaurants with awe-inspiring views, and at the heart of it all, a 35,000-square-foot history museum featuring the foremost collection of Native American art and artifacts ever assembled making Top of the Rock a landmark first for the region.

Singapore Airlines launches new services

October 31, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

NEW YORK, October 31, 2016 – Singapore Airlines has launched new services from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport and Manchester, U.K., continuing to Singapore, from October 30, 2016.  The new Houston-Manchester flight represents SIA’s first-ever U.S. to U.K. operation.

 

SIA will operate the route using a 278-passenger Boeing B777-300Extended Range aircraft, configured with 8 seats in First Class, 42 in Business Class, and 228 in Economy Class.

 

“We are excited to offer Texans the only nonstop flights from Houston to Manchester,” said Mr. Sek Eng Lee, regional vice president for Singapore Airlines at the company’s festive gatehold send-off for the first flight yesterday.  “Houstonians now have the option of the industry’s most awarded inflight experience, not only to Singapore and Southeast Asia, but also to Northern England for the first time.”  The company’s previous flight operated from Houston to Singapore via Moscow, which was discontinued on October 29.

 

SIA offers five weekly flights from Houston to Manchester, each with continuing service to Singapore Changi Airport, where travelers have convenient connection options to more than 50 destinations throughout Asia.  Travelers flying SIA to Manchester can also take advantage of new connections to Paris, Milan and Amsterdam via the carrier’s partnership with Flybe, providing seamless single-ticketing to these three popular European destinations.

 

The new Houston-to-Manchester service is being launched concurrently with SIA’s resumption of nonstop flights from the U.S. to Singapore and expanded operations in Los Angeles.   SQ31, a new Airbus A350-900 aircraft and the 10,000th delivery from the manufacturer, debuted on October 23 with a nonstop, daily flight from San Francisco to Singapore.  The company’s new Los Angeles-to-Seoul flight also launched on October 23 utilizing Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft.

 

Consistently rated the world’s best airline by the readers of both Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines in their annual surveys, Singapore Airlines strives for industry-leading excellence in passenger service.

 

Visit SingaporeAir.com for more details. Join us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/singaporeair and follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/singaporeair.

 

 

“Namesake Celebration” at Hotel Crescent Court

September 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Crescent PoolWhether setting the stage for a romantic rendezvous or a girlfriends getaway, extravagance ensues once guests step foot in spacious, elegantly-appointed Metropolitan Suites — enclosed by four sets of french doors opening up to wrought-iron Juliet balconies, bathed in gorgeous natural light.  After toasting to the sophisticated city escape with a chilled magnum of Veuve Cliquot, travelers are treated to a captivating evening from the breathtaking, 17th-floor vantage point of The Crescent Club, providing a “through-the-windows” tour of the city. Beloved Crescent ambassador Les Clefs d’Or Concierge Bill Kennedy guides guests through fascinating Dallas history while the hotel’s award-winning chefs showcase a five-course meal complete with fine Texas wine pairings.

Following the two-hour exclusive experience, arts enthusiasts head to the bustling Dallas Arts District, steps from the hotel, to take in a show at the renowned Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Meanwhile, the “suite life” continues back at the hotel, where guests lounge by the sparkling rooftop pool (the ultimate urban oasis), sip cocktails while people-watching Dallas’ elite social scene at Beau’s, the lively lobby lounge, or indulge in a massage at the immersive, 22,000 sq. ft. spa and fitness center. Echoing the exclusivity of a country club with sophisticated amenities, the stylish hotel is the gateway to an unforgettable Dallas escape.

“Namesake Celebration” • Starting at $1,499/two-nights* • Bookable now – Dec. 30, 2016

  • Two-night accommodations in a spacious Metropolitan Suite, touting a wet bar, powder room and wrought-iron Juliet balconies
  • Chilled magnum of Veuve Clicquot provided in-room upon arrival
  • Exclusive Crescent Club dining experience complete with a five-course tasting menu paired with fine Texas wines
  • Two tickets to the renowned Dallas Symphony Orchestra located in the bustling Dallas Arts District — steps from Hotel Crescent Court

Visit www.crescentcourt.com for more information and to book your stay.

FOUR SEASONS RESORT PUNTA MITA PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE OCT. 31 – NOV. 4

August 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

image001Award-winning Beachfront Oasis Invites Photography Lovers to Experience Punta Mita through the Lens of Renowned Professional Photographers, Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita will welcome photographers of all skill levels to the picturesque landscape of the Riviera Nayarit October 31 – November 4. The AAA Five Diamond property will offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from American photographer Robert Caplin and American sports and portrait photographer Peter Lockley, in one of the most naturally beautiful beachfront destinations in Mexico.

Guests can participate in guided workshops, on-location shoots, one-on-one editing and constructive critique, as well as instructor demonstrations, all while enjoying the breathtaking scenery that Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita has to offer. In between photography excursions, participants can bask in the luxury of their own spacious Mexican-style casitas, complete with tranquil views of the turquoise waters and white sand beaches. Additionally, guests are invited to indulge in an array of invigorating culinary experiences available at the resort, including custom tequila blending and new indigenous outdoor cooking classes.
“We are delighted to partner with such renowned photographers Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley to offer guests the chance to embark on a visual journey throughout the stunning and diverse landscape of Punta Mita and the Riviera Nayarit,” said John O’Sullivan, General Manager Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita. “The workshop is created for photography enthusiasts of all skill levels to fuel their passion for finding beauty and magnificence through the lens of their camera, and we are positive they will find that here as they discover the wonders of Punta Mita.”
Professional photographers, Robert Caplin and Peter Lockley – known for their contributions to leading publications including New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Times and ESPN the Magazine – will offer their guidance during daily photography adventures through Punta Mita’s most scenic natural settings. They will lead outings to charmed places including the vibrant town of Sayulita, the incredible nature preserves of San Blas, the energetic fish markets of La Cruz, and Punta Mita’s best secret surf spots, all while lending their combined expertise in editorial, commercial, and portrait photography. These outings will present a variety of unique shooting situations; from landscapes to portraits, to stories, utilizing natural and artificial light in order to help refine and develop participant’s skills. Throughout the week Caplin and Lockley will lead inspiring lectures and hands-on gear demonstrations, offering personalized, engaging feedback and analysis to further develop and refine participant’s abilities and leave them refreshed and eager to continue their personal photographic journey.
While polishing their photography skills and harnessing their creativity, guests are able to fully take advantage of all the resort has to offer, including unrivaled service, pristine white sand beaches, spectacular fine dining options, and new immersive culinary experiences. Photographers can trade in their cameras for mixing spoons and learn historically-inspired indigenous cooking techniques in the Iku Garden outdoor kitchen, try their hand at customizing their own tequila during a hands-on tasting and blending experience, or simply indulge in a seasonally flavored Mexican gelato or popsicles at the resort’s new beach front Gelateria.
Pricing for the workshop starts at USD $4,999.00 for a single participant, which includes all workshop fees, daily breakfast and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita luxury accommodations in a Garden View Double Room. Ocean view and beachfront rooms are available for an additional cost. Participants will also enjoy a hosted cocktail reception upon arrival and gourmet farewell dinner at the close of the program. It is recommended that participants bring their own camera; however cameras and additional equipment will be available to check-out and purchase before, during or after the workshop. Reservations will be handled by Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita through http://www.fourseasonsworkshop.com/.

Landmark Lodging: Driskill Hotel

July 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Driskill Hotel history is preserved in shadow boxes displayed throughout the property. The boxes contain old photos, dried flowers, shaving paraphernalia, a stopwatch, postcards and much more, all of which depict life around our state capital in the 1800s.

The exterior of the Driskill Hotel.

The exterior of the Driskill Hotel.

Welcome to Austin’s grand dame, standing tall and proud at the corner of Sixth and Brazos Street, with marble floors, stained-glass rotundas, beveled glass doors, intricate carvings on pillars and an original bank-vault door. When the hotel was built in 1886, there was an extraordinary view of the Texas state capital from the second-story lobby, but the city grew up around her, and office buildings rose up in the six blocks between the two properties. When the view was gone, there was no longer a need for the big windows; they were filled in, and the space is now a meeting room.

HISTORICAL SIGHTS
Touring the lobby is like taking a Texas history class. Colonel Jesse Driskill was a cattleman when he opened his pride and joy on December 20, 1886. On January 1, 1887, Governor Sul Ross held his inaugural ball in the ballroom. But sadly, a devastating drought stole Driskill’s fortune, and he was forced to close within a year of opening the hotel. His portrait hangs atop the marble staircase, and his cattle brands are replicated on the carpet in the bar.

Walk the same lobby as LBJ.

Walk the same lobby as LBJ.

President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson had their first date here. Later, Lady Bird broadcast her radio station from the first floor; KLBJ is still on the air today. The Driskill was a natural choice for Johnson’s campaign headquarters during his congressional races, and he watched election results from the presidential suite in 1964, as he became the most powerful man in the world.

CAPITAL CUISINE
The Driskill Grill, established in 1929, is legendary for incredible service and inventive cuisine. Recently, Executive Chef Troy Knapp and his team dug through the Austin History Center’s archives to “see where it takes us” as they revamped the menu. Expecting to find a lot of regional cuisine, he was surprised with an international menu proudly promoting imported items. Apparently, in 1929, diners weren’t interested in items they could get at home.

Guestrooms are a welcome mixture of old and new.

Guest rooms are a welcome mixture of old and new.

Today, the grill is nostalgic and timeless. The menu is seasonal and classic, offering regional American cuisine. The Foie Gras is a play on the old liver and onions. Texas beef is dry aged in house for 30 to 45 days. The Akaushi Rib Eye is served with seared foie gras, shaved black truffle and Bordelaise sauce. It simply melts off the plate and onto your palate. The chef de cuisine is heading up a research project to locate Colonel Driskill’s cattle yards. Wouldn’t it just be the finishing touch to eat beef raised on the same lands that financed the creation of this Austin landmark? We think so, too.

The property has recently undergone an $8.8 million renovation to its guest rooms, public spaces and restaurants. The renovations could not come at a better time, as 2016 marks the 130th anniversary of the hotel.

—Laurette M. Veres

For more information on how to escape, visit www.driskillhotel.com.


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National Ceviche Day

June 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Dining, Travel Blog

While most people think of Ceviche as a dish made with ocean seafood, this recipe demonstrates the cultural diversity of the dish. Peruvians incorporate potatoes and corn – two major staples of the Peruvian diet – as well as lake trout. The result is delicious. And there is no better place to enjoy it than at the foot of the world’s #1 landmark: Machu Picchu

A Ceviche and Pisco Sour class is included, complimentary, for all guests at Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel (www.sumaqhotelperu.com).

Recipe for 1 portion of ceviche

Ingredients:
-6 oz. trout
-3 tablespoons lime juice
-3 tablespoons morrón pepper sauce
-1/2 teaspoon ground garlic
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/teaspoon chopped cilantro
-1/4 red onion sliced julienne
-1/4 Peruvian corn
-1/4 yam
-Salt & Pepper to taste
Garnish: lettuce, corn, limo hot pepper rings, yam strings.

Preparation:
Cook the corn with some anise seeds, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Cook the sweet potatoes, then peel them and cut them into matchsticks. Marinate the trout in lemon, salt, pepper,
cilantro, garlic, ginger, and onion. After two minutes, marinate again adding the pepper. Add ice cubes to the preparation to preserve freshness and lower the marinade’s acidity. Remove ice. Garnish with lettuce, onion, hot chili peppers cut into rings and crispy yam strings.

Pristine Bay, Honduras

June 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

San Antonio’s JW Marriott Water Park

April 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

 

Popular River Bluff Water Experience Splashes in at Nine Acres

 

SAN ANTONIO – March 28, 2016 – JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa will debut its $16 million expansion to both its world class River Bluff Water Experience and a new additional meeting / convention space in late March 2016. The five-month project adds 3 acres to the water park which includes a new 13,000-square-foot multiuse pavilion area for additional indoor and outdoor function space, an additional 130-foot long beach-entry pool, 70 by 35 foot sand play area, whirlpool spa, private cabanas, two thrilling body slides, 230 additional lounge chairs and artificial turf lawn space. Guests will be treated to an elevated leisure and group experience with added recreation activities, more space in the already impressive 9-acre water park and added amenities.

 

The new River Bend Pavilion offers pre-function and event space for group meetings, golf tournament banquets, social events, weddings, concerts and more with 13,000-square-feet of indoor and outdoor customizable venues including a 4,200-square-foot covered deck and 5,000-square-foot pavilion. The expansive 18,000-square-foot event lawn includes a freestanding 700-square-foot covered outdoor stage perfect for awards ceremonies, live music and an array of special events as well as an impressive grill to service events and activities of all sizes. The River Bend Pavilion and expanded celebration areas rest beautifully into the existing topography and enhance the opportunities for open-air entertainment receptions. The additional indoor and outdoor venues will allow groups to reserve private spaces while also enjoying the surrounding Texas-sized outdoor pools and waterslides. Adjacent to TPC San Antonio, the newly developed area is ready to host team-building events, indoor and outdoor awards dinners, wedding, corporate and other private receptions.

Event capabilities in the River Bend Pavilion include:

  • Rounds: 200 attendees
  • Theater: 400 attendees
  • Schoolroom: 200 attendees
  • Schoolroom and rounds (meet/eat): 120 attendees
  • Lawn and pavilion reception: 1,000 attendees

Amid 600-acres of picturesque rolling oak-covered hills and currently offering the largest hotel customizable convention, meeting and event space in the Texas Hill Country, the new 13,000-square-foot stand-alone ballroom will bring the resort’s total event space to 288,000-square- feet. The ballroom and exceptional event lawn provides unparalleled venues for any size or type of meeting or group gathering.  Designed to benefit from San Antonio’s average of 300 days of sunshine a year, the year-round green turf lawn will be adjacent to the new ballroom to offer a scenic outdoor event space situated in harmony with the unobstructed views of the surrounding pristine Hill Country terrain. The River Bend Pavilion and event lawn will turn into a bustling activity center for the resort’s youngest guests during the summer months. With an expanded menu of recreational activities, the Pavilion will exclusively host the popular Range Riders Kids’ Club and experiences such as Kids’ Night Out, YogiBugs, various art classes and more during summer and holiday seasons.

 

“At the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa we believe in welcoming guests with a warm heart and treating them to the best in class service, experience and amenities that they deserve,” said Arthur Coulombe, general manager, JW Marriott San Antonio. “The completion of the River Bluff Water Experience expansion and additional event and meeting space provides our guests with enhanced recreation experiences and amenities to enjoy during their stay with us. We look forward to offering our travelers the ultimate in Texas hospitality and unique experiences when visiting the resort.”

 

The new expansion, designed by EDSA and Blur Workshop, enhances the already thrilling River Bluff Water Experience with the addition of a sand area and beach-entry gradual slope swimming pool and two thrilling slide attractions. The two new translucent blue body slides allow guests to feel the rush from below as they watch riders plummet down a heart-stopping 47-foot free fall slide or speeding through a looping waterslide. An additional 230-poolside lounge chairs and plenty of shady overhangs will create a relaxing vacation experience for families, couples, friends traveling together and corporate guests alike. Multiple luxury private cabanas available to reserve have been added around the new pool area to accommodate guests looking for a more private experience while enjoying all the amenities of the 9-acre park. An additional fire pit provides guests with the ultimate s’more-making experience as part of the resort’s nightly offerings.

 

Travelers continue to enjoy an impressive selection of amenities at the wildly popular River Bluff Water Experience with the existing beach-entry large activity pool, a children’s pool with toddler-size slides, a restorative adult pool with an infinity edge overlooking Hill Country vistas, hot and cold plunge pools and whirlpools, an 1,100-foot-long lazy river and three thrilling water slides. The resort’s water features are heated during cool weather for year-round enjoyment.

 

JW Marriott San Antonio has perfected creating an atmosphere for indoor and outdoor areas that are wide open where guests have plenty of space to roam and relish in the Hill Country ambience whether they are at the resort for business or pleasure. The causal elegance of the resort offers travelers an atmosphere to rest and restore with just the right amount of activities to recharge before they return home. Offering year-round golf on one of TPC San Antonio’s two 18-hole championship golf courses, 9-acres of water park fun, one of the best and largest spas in the U.S. and multiple culinary venues, JW Marriott San Antonio’s amenities are designed to entertain and create lasting memories.

 

About JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa 
Welcome to a San Antonio resort truly worthy of the Lone Star State. JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has firmly established itself as the city’s premier luxury destination and the most renowned resort in the magnificent Texas Hill Country. Rated 4-Diamonds by AAA and just 12 miles north of San Antonio International Airport, the resort features the 36-hole TPC San Antonio golf course, Lantana Spa, the 9-acre River Bluff water park, seven distinctive restaurants, 288,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and event space, free Wi-Fi in the lobby and more than 1,000 custom-designed guest rooms. Our San Antonio resort hotel is sure to make any visit an unforgettable experience, and it all comes with JW Marriott’s impeccable service and lavish amenities. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful respite, productive meeting or exciting and fun-filled family vacation, our resort in San Antonio is designed not just to exceed expectations but redefine them. For information, call 1-210-276-2500 or visit www.jwsanantonio.com.

 

About JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts 
JW Marriott is part of Marriott International’s luxury portfolio and consists of beautiful properties in gateway cities and distinctive resort locations around the world. These elegant hotels cater to today’s sophisticated, self-assured travelers, offering them the quiet luxury they seek in a warmly authentic, relaxed atmosphere lacking in pretense. JW Marriott properties artfully provide highly crafted, anticipatory experiences that are reflective of their locale so that their guests have the time to focus on what is most important to them. Currently, there are 76 JW Marriott hotels in 27 countries; by 2020 the portfolio is expected to encompass more than 100 properties in over 30 countries. Visit us online, on InstagramTwitter and Facebook and #experiencejwm.

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is a leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 3,800 properties in 72 countries and territories and reported revenues of nearly $12 billion in fiscal year 2012.

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Wine-ing Down at Tapatio Springs

March 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Forget Napa Valley! Texas Hill Country is ripe with vineyards—and one gem of a resort perfect for swirling away that stress.

by Nicholas Nguyen

Our great state boasts more than 46 wineries, many of them close by in the San Antonio region. Luckily, for us Houstonians, there’s a magnificent place just 40 minutes away from the Alamo that makes the perfect base camp for a weekend in wine country. Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort in Boerne, TX, is a treasure surrounded by an emerald golf course, with an amazing restaurant, miles of hiking trails, and recently updated guestrooms and spacious suites. The resort is perfectly situated if you want to work your way back east to Houston as you follow a trail of wineries.

AMENITIES

The resort’s ranch-style accomodations are cozy, but it’s worth splurging on a George Strait Suite with a king-sized bed that just envelops you. The large rooms feature a wet bar and an entertaining area with a separate seating space. The patios and balconies are peaceful places to have breakfast and plan the day with a view of the lush hills.

The large resort pool has a waterslide for the kids and is just the thing for afternoon lounging surrounded by Hill Country. Aside from golfing (more on that later), Tapatio Springs offers other nearby activities, like fishing at Joshua’s Creek, horseback riding and kayaking down the Guadalupe. The perfect ending to an active day? S’mores with the family at the fire pit; it’s in front of the golf course, with another serene view of the hills.

DINING

Winner of the 2015 Open Table Diner’s Choice, Tapatio Spring’s La Cascada has southern fare down. I’m still having withdrawal from the honey fried chicken served with smoked cheddar grits I had for dinner the first night. For lunch, be sure to get the loaded fries—brisket, cheddar cheese and grilled green onions over crispy fries topped with a sunny-side up egg. And it doesn’t get any more comforting than cast-iron chicken fried steak served with buttermilk mashed ‘taters. Just note that the menu changes seasonally, highlighting regional specialties.

If weather permits, dine outside on the patio to take advantage of the amazing view, or chill out there for happy hour and live music in the evening. After a day of wine tasting, cocktails are a nice change of pace; for those inclined toward spice, try the Spiced Piña, a tequila and pineapple mix with a hint of jalapeño. The namesake Ta’Patio Smash is a better option for whiskey and berry lovers.

GOLFING

Even if you’re a novice like me, the resort’s 18-hole golf course can’t be missed. The award-winning green recently underwent a $2 million renovation and sparkles with trees, ponds and streams, surrounded by some of the tallest hills in the area.

The view alone is inspiring, and in my case, inspiration enough for me to forget how bad my swing is. Tapatio Springs offers plenty of golf lesson packages, some in a group setting or one-on-one with a pro. There are also junior lessons for the kids to learn how to fall in love with the sport. Book a session at the Pro Shop, where you can also pick up name-brand apparel and accessories.

RELAXING

The Pure Sol Spa near the pool and hot tub offers a wide range of massages and beauty treatments, like deep-tissue massage, hot stone therapy, micro-peels and detoxing scrubs.

The most unique and memorable experience I had was in the Halotherapy Salt Caves. The man-made “cave” is completely covered by pink rock salt of all sizes; it’s minimally lit by warm lights, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Even the air felt different because of the sheer amount of salt in the room, adding to the transcending effect.

Tapatio_FirePit

enjoy the spectacular sunset by the fire pit on the course

The salt cave is supposed to be purifying and cleansing, and help with respiratory illnesses and other sinus conditions while reducing stress. Sessions can be purchased in 30- or 45-minute increments, but if you’re looking to go zen privately, the cave can also be reserved. Jury’s still out whether the therapy had any impact on my physical health, but it was an incredibly calming experience, and for that alone, I’d go back.

 get rejuvenated at the halotherapy salt caves

get rejuvenated at the halotherapy salt caves

EXPLORING

Nearby—less than 20 minutes away—is the Boerne Wine Co. and the Wine Bar in Welfare, where you can sample a selection of Texas wines with expert guidance. Both places are good spots to try a variety of offerings and discover something new. Want to visit a winery in the flesh? Head to Sister Creek Vineyards, Singing Water Vineyards, Bending Branch Winery or Kerrville Hills Winery, all great, rustic spots about 30 minutes away.

If you visit over the weekend, Boerne has market days on Main Street, showcasing local goods and arts. The small town is big on charm and personality, and as a bonus, is totally walkable. I loved perusing the, assortment of specialty stores, ranging from wine to chocolate to antiques and more.

For more information and to plan your trip, visit www.tapatioresort.com.

Rockport Beach offers a free admission day -April 3rd

March 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

FREE day at the Beach

Rockport-Fulton Texas (March 8, 2015) – SundayApril 3, 2016 has been designated by the Aransas County Navigation District as a “ Free Beach day” for all to enjoy. Visitors and locals alike are invited to take advantage of this free offering. After all who doesn’t love to get something for free?
Rockport Beach was labeled Texas first Blue Wave Beach and remains one of only three in the state. The beach has something to offer the entire family. Visitors will, get the opportunity bask in the sun, stroll along the beachfront and splash in the clear water of the bay.

For the youngsters, the beach offers shallow water without strong waves and children’s play areas with playground equipment. For the sports minded,  a volleyball net and walking track are available  for land-lubbers, but the opportunities for watersports are endless from water-skiing to fishing and everything in between. The entire family will enjoy the beach palapas, the covered picnic cabanas and the clean restrooms with indoor showers. For those who wish to swim, there is a saltwater lagoon at the far end of the beach, with beautiful views of the Key Allegro community.

Rockport Beach has two pavilions that can be rented for business meetings, reunions or other special occasions: The Beach Pavilion with indoor and outdoor meeting space or the Saltwater Pavilion.

Pets are not allowed on the beach, but there is a special section just outside the beach area for pets to play in the water. Admission to the beach is normally $5 (per vehicle) daily, a yearly beach pass can be purchased for $20.

For more information on Rockport Beach www.rockportbeach-texas.com .For information about Places to Stay visit www.rockport-fulton.org or call 1 –800 242-0071 or email tourism@1rockport.org.

Directions from San Antonio and Houston

If you are traveling from San Antonio take IH-37 south to Corpus Christi, and then take U. S. Highway 181 to Gregory; at Gregory take State Highway 35 into Rockport.

From Houston, take U. S. Highway 59 to Victoria, take U. S. Highway south to State Highway 239, and then, south to Tivoli, and at Tivoli, take State Highway 35 to Rockport.

 

 

 

 

SINGAPORE AIRLINES LAUNCHES BOOK THE COOK SERVICE

March 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Singapore Airlines has launched Book the Cook service in Houston, offering First and Business Class passengers flying from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) the convenience and control of pre-ordering their meal before they fly, and introducing local flavors to their inflight dining experience.

Part of Singapore Airlines’ prestigious culinary program, Book the Cook gives passengers the flexibility to select their choice of main course online or through the reservations office up to 24 hours before flight departure. Book the Cook menus include dishes featuring innovative international fare, as well as signature dishes with regional influences comprising its World Gourmet Cuisine.

The new menu was designed specifically with Houston travelers in mind, incorporating local favorites such as BBQ Beef Brisket with Spanish Rice, alongside SIA traditions such as the popular Lobster Thermidor. Book the Cook is now available in each of SIA’s four U.S. gateways: New York (JFK), Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston.

First Class passengers also enjoy their choice of Dom Perignon or Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne, while Business Class passengers are served Taittinger Prelude Grand Crus—in addition to Singapore Airlines’ international wine list carefully selected by a roster of expert sommeliers.

Singapore Airlines serves the Houston area with flights five times a week from IAH to Moscow (DME) and Singapore aboard the B777-300ER. For more information, visit Singaporeair.com for more details. Join us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/singaporeair and follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/singaporeair.

 

 

Seared lamb loin with jus served with crushed pea with mint, leek and olive oil mashed potatoes. Designed by Singapore Airlines International Culinary Panel Chef Alfred Portale.

 

A high resolution version of this image can be downloaded here.

 

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Jet-Set Hobby

March 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

by Laurette M. Veres

Southwest Airlines has brought international travel back to Houston Hobby Airport after a 45-year hiatus. Southwest has been flying out of Hobby since 1971, when they famously flew the “Texas Triangle”—San Antonio, Dallas, Houston. In 2012, the City of Houston approved Southwest’s proposal to expand Hobby and bring international travel back to Houston’s in-town airport. The airline made a multimillion-dollar investment in a new international terminal. According to the Houston Airport System, this expansion brings 1.6 million passengers to Hobby Airport annually. More importantly, Houstonians can easily plan Mexican/Caribbean vacations to new departure cities, including Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Liberia, San Jose, Belize City, Cancun and Montego Bay.

punta-mita

This past winter, we hopped a flight to the paradise destination of Puerto Vallarta, arriving at the Four Season’s Punta Mita just in time for our 2:30 p.m. tee time on the famous Pacifico Course. This Jack Nicklaus–designed golf course has eight seaside holes bordering the Pacific Ocean or Banderas Bay. The very memorable Hole 3B is called “the Tail of the Whale”; depending upon the tide, you can either ride to the hole in an amphibious vehicle, or miss the hole altogether due to high tide. It’s the world’s only natural island green—and it’s spectacular. The hot tropical sun beat down on us the last couple of holes, making our respite to the spa all the more welcome.

Just steps from our suite, the relaxation area at the Four Seasons Apuane Spa is inviting with individual seats separated by hanging crystals and beads. Apuane, Spanish for “healing waters,” is an oasis of serenity in scenic Mexico. We opted for the Punta Mita massage, an overall rubdown utilizing tequila, indigenous sage oil and traditional Mexican healing techniques.


Read the rest of this article in the 2016 Spring H Texas issue, available soon on newsstands and digitally.

St. Regis Punta Mita

February 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

St. Regis Punta MitaSituated near pristine beaches in the Riviera Nayarit, just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort boasts an exquisite and safe retreat for guests of all ages. This year, vacationers can attend the fourth annual Punta Mita Beach Festival taking place July 7-10. Hosted by The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort in conjunction with Punta Mita Expeditions, DINE, the master developer of Punta Mita Resort, and the Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau, the four day extravaganza combines surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, stand-up paddle, yoga, sandcastle building for the kids and exquisite cuisine prepared by renowned guest chefs at one of the most beautiful and sought-after destinations in the world.

 

The celebratory summer event and other surf and sand activities offered year-round take full advantage of the renowned beachfront resort’s unparalleled destination.

www.stregis.com/puntamita

 

The Condado Plaza Hilton in Puerto Rico Offers Post-Wedding “Splash and Snorkel the Dress” Package

February 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Indigenous Reef Provides Perfect Backdrop for 

One-Of-A-Kind Newlywed Experience

 

Here’s a new one: Brides and grooms tying the knot may now opt for a post-wedding “Splash and Snorkel the Dress.” Inspired by the trash the dress trend, the package allows newlyweds to participate in one last photography session after the wedding, as well as enjoy their first married activity together: trashing the dress!

The post-wedding activities begin as a local professional photographer captures the first moments of the new Mr. & Mrs. as they splash along the shore of the resort’s cove-like protected beach, dressed in their gown and suit. After frolicking in the sand and sun, the couple can say “adios” to the photographer and slip into their swimwear apparel to snorkel in the resort’s eco-friendly artificial reef featuring more than 300 varieties of fish. To complete the experience, the couple receives a plush robe, bottle of champagne and hors d’oeuvres upon return to their room.

The Condado Plaza Hilton is a stunning location for weddings in Puerto Rico with 41,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space. From the hotel’s Ocean Gardens with crashing waves of the Atlantic surf in the background to the Royal Ballroom, venues can accommodate everything from an intimate gathering of 10 guests to a grand celebration of up to 1,100 guests. The hotel’s professional wedding planners and award-winning culinary team are also on hand to personalize and coordinate every last detail.

 

The “Splash and Snorkel the Dress” package starts from US$413* per night, including accommodations, a bottle of champagne, hors d’oeuvres, two-hour photography session and complimentary snorkeling equipment rental for two. Photo prints and video, as well as underwater pictures, are available for purchase for an additional cost. To book the package, please visit https://goo.gl/ex9Le9. For more weddings information at The Condado Plaza Hilton, please visit www.condadoplaza.com or call +1 787-721-1000.

*Taxes and resort fees are not included. Other restrictions apply.

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Telluride, my favorite ski town

November 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

A representative from Telluride, CO was in Houston last week. He had a lot to say.

With record breaking tourism in Telluride and a 30 percent increase in available air seats over the last two years, the destination continues to be ranked among the best resorts in the world. Travelers planning trips to Telluride for the winter 2015-16 season will be greeted with added flights, updated lodging options, new restaurants and bars, ski camps, improved grooming and much more. “We celebrated a record season last winter, and with continuing improvements to access, guest services and amenities, we’re giving our guests the best possible experience, whether they are visiting for the first time or loyal repeat guests,” said Michael Martelon President and CEO of Telluride Tourism Board.

United, Colorado’s primary carrier, will continue to expand on its already-existing network to Telluride/Montrose with the addition of highly sought-after flights from New York – La Guardia (LGA). MTJ’s core hub service will continue with multiple daily, year-round flights from DEN, daily service from Houston and Chicago, along with weekend flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

LODGING UPDATES
Madeleine Hotel & Residences: Renovations of this iconic hotel are on track for completion by December 2015, including a grand new porte cochere and outdoor pool area, featuring a 24’x50′ pool, hot tubs, fire pits and breathtaking views of the towering mountain peaks. New additions include Dylan’s Candy Bar, M Club and M Studio, and updates to the Black Iron Kitchen and Bar are complete. The hotel has also opened a new Club Room with indoor/outdoor bar, pool table, and shuffleboard, and a new Salon. http://www.madelinetelluride.com/renovations.php

Peaks Resort and Spa: In July 2015, Telluride Ski & Golf (TSG) closed a deal with Peaks Capital Partners to take over the Peaks Resort and Spa. The Peaks Resort and Spa is a ski-in/ski-out, full service hotel located adjacent to the Telluride Ski & Golf Club. The hotel features 177 guest rooms, a 42,000 square foot, 32 treatment rooms spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pools with a waterslide and 9,100 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space. The spa itself is the largest in Colorado in terms of square footage and offers a variety of treatments as well as fitness and wellness programming.

NEW SKI CAMPS AND PROGRAMS
Biomechanics Camp: Biomechanics Camp will teach people of all ages to ski efficiently and in a way that minimizes stress on the body. Dr. Kim Hewson, orthopedic surgeon, former Director of Sports Medicine at the University of Arizona, and a lead Telluride Ski School instructor, has refined a scientific-based biomechanics approach that will be taught at this camp. Camp dates are January 15th – 18th Making Friends with Moguls: This two-day camp will help skiers develop confidence in the bumps while skiing in a small group setting with like-minded and ability skiers. The camp will start out slowly
with proven exercises and progressions to help skiers reach their goals. Making Friends with Moguls Camp dates are January 20th – 21st and February 29th – March 1st Silver Skiers Program: For the 2015-16 season, the Telluride Ski and Snowboard School is offering a special program for skiers 50 years young and up. Two sessions consisting of four Thursdays each will match coaches from the senior ski school staff with smaller groups and will make skiing fun, relaxed and enjoyable for fellow seniors. The program is designed for novice through advanced/hard-core skiers and is meant to focus on the camaraderie formed through skiing with people of similar skill level and with similar interests. The Silver Skiers Program has sessions January 7th – January 28th and February 4th – March 3rd (*Please note there will be no session on February 18, President’s Week*)

NEW MOUNTAIN IMPROVEMENTS
New Grooming Equipment: The resort has added a new Snowcat PistenBully 600 to the fleet,. The fuel-efficient PB600’s wider track and tiller allows Mountain Operations to increase the number of acres that can be accessed in a shorter amount of time, helping the resort better prepare for opening and increase grooming times throughout the season.
Snowmaking Enhancements: To bring more snow to Hoot Brown Terrain Park, TSG is installing Tower Mounts that enable easy relocation of snow guns from other areas of the mountain. Additionally, a new variable frequency drive panel will be installed at Misty Pump House, making it easier for the snowmaking pros to adjust water flow to pumps. TSG is also working with the town of Mountain Village to replace an old water line that is the key supply line for snowmaking.
Sunshine Express (Lift 10): A new gear box has been implemented to improve overall reliability of lift performance and new pulleys have been installed.
Telluride is like no other place with all of this and much more, making it unique, authentic and inspiring. Come experience everything this destination has to offer and discover why Telluride is the most Colorado place on earth.
For further information, or to book a trip, visit www.visittelluride.com.

Family pool at Esperanza, An Auberge Resort, Cabo

October 26, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Parents' Place, Travel Blog

Fun for All Ages

FamilyPool

Travelers of all ages love Esperanza. For families, the Villas are the place to be featuring full kitchens and private plunge pools. Your family will love the largest pool in Cabo with beach entry and swim up bars. The Villas offer partial ownership opportunities and The Residences at Esperanza offer full and partial ownership – for those of you who want to own a piece of this beautiful seaside town.

Esperanzaresort.com

TEE IT UP AND LET ’ER RIP—IN LAKE CHARLES, LA!

October 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Don’t miss these golf getaways, with way more than just miles of greens.

by Greg Wettman

The Golden Nugget Resort and Casino (www.goldennugget.com/lakecharles)

The Country Club at the Golden Nugget

The Country Club at the Golden Nugget

For Houstonians searching for a fun weekend golf getaway, look no further than Lake Charles, Louisiana (www.visitlakecharles.org), only two hours east of Houston, just off I-10. An ideal place to call home while in Lake Charles is the Golden Nugget Resort and Casino, which is perched along Contraband Bayou. Besides incredible golf, there is so much to do at the Golden Nugget, which just opened in December 2014, that you don’t really need to drive your car again until you head home—unless, of course, you are searching for another golf course to play, or a local restaurant, which I do recommend.

The Country Club golf course at the Golden Nugget is located on the edge of Contraband Bayou. It is well designed and maintained, and very appealing to the eye. The greens are as good as any I have ever played on—bar none. When I stepped on the putting green, I felt like I was in golf heaven. The course is outstanding. There are many waste bunkers on the course that stop errant shots from disappearing from play, and the staff treats you like a king.

As impressive as the golf course is, the clubhouse is in the same class. The dining room is exquisite, and the food otherworldly. I had a special entrée of rainbow trout almandine that I’m still savoring.

At the Golden Nugget, the pool complex—the H2O Pool & Bar—is lavish and irresistible, with a lazy river and two flume rides. There’s also an awesome wet bar; multiple “islands” in the pool called daybeds; and a state-of-the-art concert stage, which features live musical performances at various times throughout the year. You can swim up to the wet bar, order your favorite beverage, charge it to your room and then float along the lazy river while listening to a top-of-the-line band nearby. That’s what I call relaxation. The pool area also features 250 chaise lounge chairs, 34 private cabanas, six fire pits and several hot tubs. Bottom line at the Golden Nugget: If you’re not playing golf, the pool is the place to be!

The Golden Nugget Spa & Salon is adjacent to the H2O Pool & Bar, very convenient if you’re craving a midday massage, manicure, pedicure or facial. At the Spa, you will also find a sauna, steam room, whirlpool and a fitness room with state-of-the-art Cybex cardio and weight equipment.

When it comes to breaking bread at the Golden Nugget, you are truly spoiled for choice. Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse, Landry’s Seafood House, Lillie’s, Cadillac Mexican Kitchen, Saltgrass Steak House, Grotto and Claim Jumper are just a few of the dining options available. When it comes to a spur-of-the-moment dessert, The Chocolate Box offers gourmet handmade truffles and chocolates from around the world.

If you want to relax at a beach, the Golden Nugget has you covered. During the day, you can sunbathe, play beach volleyball, or stroll along the waters of the Contraband Bayou. After sunset, the fire pits on the beach are aglow, providing the perfect place to unwind after a busy day at the resort. The Cadillac Beach Bar & Grille is right on the beach and offers great margaritas and food.

If you have any energy left after a fun-in-the-sun kind of day, there is a large, beautiful place right in the middle of the complex called a casino! Since you have already had the good luck to find the Golden Nugget, you might as well find an exciting table game or slot machine to top off your day.

L’Auberge Casino Resort and the Contraband Bayou Golf Club (www.llakecharles.com)

Next door to the Golden Nugget is another awesome place to play, the L’Auberge Casino Resort and the Contraband Bayou Golf Club. The Contraband Bayou Golf Club is a Tom Fazio design and the only public Fazio course in Louisiana. In 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, Golfweek named this course one of the “Best Places to Play in Louisiana.” That is a well-earned endorsement. It is a blast to play. Eight spectacular lakes are found on this course. When you record a subpar score on any hole at Contraband, you can say that you recorded a birdie on the bayou. The signature hole is the downhill par three 8th—it’s a visual masterpiece and fun to play.

L'Auberge Casino and Contraband Golf Club

L’Auberge Casino and Contraband Bayou Golf Club

The resort has a very warm and comfortable atmosphere with a design inspired by the Texas Hill Country, and offers several unique dining options. Breakfast at Favorites Southern Kitchen includes what I believe are the perfect beignets and a stuffed Brioche French Toast like nowhere else. Embers Steakhouse is elegant, romantic and delicious. If you dare, order the 40-ounce bone-in rib eye. I guarantee you will not forget it. L’auberge also has a huge pool area with a lazy river and large, first-class casino. The hospitality shown by the entire staff ensures a return trip will be scheduled.

More Courses

Gray Plantation Golf Course, The National Golf Club of Louisiana and Mallard Cove Golf Course are three more excellent courses to try in the Lake Charles area. At Gray Plantation, the view of the plantation-style clubhouse from the 18th tee caps off an experience that is filled with many sightseeing and shot-making opportunities. Plantation is impressive, especially its four-par threes, two of which have island greens. Lunch on the veranda after golf was superb. I recommend their Pressed Pork sandwich.

At the National Golf Club, which opened in 2009, there are generous landing areas off the tee. The rolling terrain and over-sized greens give you many different shots during any given round. If you pay attention to pin positions with your approach shots, it’s possible to get up and down for par more often than not.

Mallard Cove is a favorite of the locals and is the site of the annual Lake Charles City Championships. The 18th hole at Mallard Cove is one of the most unique finishing holes in golf, as it has multiple options from the tee. The key to success at the 18th hole is to avoid the water at all costs with your tee shot. There are three routes to take off the tee. Mallard has a very nice new clubhouse with a bar and restaurant. It’s a top-tier municipal facility.

Each of the courses I’ve mentioned is in a class of its own and fun to play. All five courses are as appealing to the scratch golfer as they will be to the weekend warrior. All five are also bargains for their respective green fees, which range from around $25 to $160.

Local Eats

The Lake Charles area has many great local restaurants. Two I have visited are local favorites, The Seafood Palace and the recently opened 1910 Restaurant and Wine Bar. The Seafood Palace is not fancy, just really great food. It has the best fried alligator I’ve eaten, and the boiled blue crabs are delicious. 1910 features Cajun/Creole dishes that are infused with a French backbone. Everything I sampled was worth coming downtown for, and the atmosphere is elegant, but relaxed.

It will take more than one weekend to enjoy all of the top-notch golf, dining, gaming and relaxation options that the Lake Charles area has to offer. But that’s okay. It’s only two hours away. As the locals say: Bon temps! (Let the good times roll!)

Grande Lakes Orlando

September 29, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Orlando you glad to see me?

Avoid Mickey Mouse crowds. Enjoy Grande Lakes

By Laurette Veres

As a life-long Marriott rewards devotee, I’ve logged a lot of nights at hotels under this flag throughout the globe. My friend Bobby and I often text each other our view withIMG_7486 the question where am I? On a recent trip to Orlando Grande Lakes, I texted him my view. His reply: Maui. That’s how beautiful this 500-acre Orlando resort is. Our balcony had a view of the sprawling golf coursOrlando_Grande_Lakes_Golf_Coursee, beautiful lakes and most of Orlando’s famed parks in the distance. Heading to Orlando? Avoid Mickey Mouse crowds. Enjoy Grande Lakes comprised of The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando. Guests at both hotels can enjoy all the facilities and services at Grande Lakes Orlando, including the 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Greg Norman, the 40,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Spa with total-wellness treatments and a rooftop eco-space. The lush grounds offer walking trails, nature installations and two grand pools, splash pads, and winding river.

Dine

Highball & Harvest 

Grande Lakes has been dedicated to farm-to-fork dining for over ten years. Guests can view fresh herbs, vegetables and more in the Primo Garden, and taste them in their food at award-winning Chef Melissa Kelly’s Primo restaurant. The property also bakes all their bread in house and raises chickens at the Whisper Creek Farm coop. We met with Chef de Cuisine Mark Jeffers after the recent opening of Highball & Harvest. Having grown up on the water, the Daytona, Florida native pulls his culinary inspiration from his home state. H&H’s signature dishes: Pig-n-Potatoes, an all-day breakfast dish of poached egg, potato hash, and tender pork cheeks with sweet peppers, caramelized onions, H&H Hot Sauce, and hollandaise sauce. Smoked Lamb Brisket, Raw Oyster Bar with signature house-made H&H Hot Sauce. “The dishes we create at Highball & Harvest are designed to give restaurant-goers a sense of nostalgia while enjoying southern classics infused with regional flavors,” says the chef.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen

Showcasing a rustic yet polished design, The Kitchen has the vibe of eating in your family’s kitchen, with a variety of communal, high-top, sofa, outdoor, and bar seating. Menu items at The Kitchen feature seasonal ingredients from the 7,000-square-foot on-site garden at Whisper Creek Farm as well as fresh eggs daily from the farm’s chicken coop. The Kitchen’s sausages and charcuterie, prepared by the JW Marriott butcher, pair perfectly with The Brewery’s hops-laden creations.

Whisper Creek Farm: The Brewery

The first Marriott property to launch a nano-brewery, Grande Lakes has brought in a local Cicerone-certified brewmaster to lead The Brewery. The Brewery produces 28 gallons of beer weekly including five styles of beer created each season—Dark, Wheat/Light, Amber, IPA and a Special Brew (a seasonal made from the freshest farm ingredients). Signature Special Brew varieties will include the Maple Bacon Stout, Soup of the Day IPA, and Ghost Pepper Wheat.

Spa
Grande_Lakes_Spa_PoolThe secluded lush gardens at the Spanish-Moorish style The Ritz-Carlton Spa Orlando create a relaxing environment. They surround over 40,000 square feet of spa facilities, including 40 treatment rooms. Unique to the Ritz are treatments in the outdoor Rooftop Eco-Space and herb garden. The Eco-Hammock Massage combines “zero gravity” and massage techniques including Thai stretching, deep tissue and Cranial Sacral (balancing the central nervous system through neck massage). Allow yourself to melt into the hammock as it rocks in a soothing, rhythmic motion. The therapist lies under the hammock and digs into your shoulders with her heels. Fitness classes include Yoga Stretch, ZUMBA, Tai Chi Qi Gong, INSANITY, Spinning and Cardio Kickboxing.

Orlando_Grande_Lakes_PoolThe grounds at Grande Lakes property are reason enough to visit. We spent hours walking and along the way, learned about local flora and fauna, butterflies and more. Perfect for families, or couples, there is something for everyone here. And yes, they’ll shuttle you to Disney World.

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