Nothing like the thrill of attending fashion week in Paris and Milan, including the heavenly Couture Shows! What a treat and a privilege to spend intimate time with these incredible designers who are true artists, and to see their spellbinding creations (designed and stitched in their ateliers and, then finally, the finished confections making their long awaited debuts on the runway). A few magical moments to share. Ooh la la…
Wine & Dine:
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One lucky winner will be announced next week. This is one luxury summertime (and anytime!) staple you don’t want to miss, perfect for the beach, pool, family gatherings, or simply running around town. Good luck!
With those long, leisurely, sunshine-y days officially here, time to load up on the SPF. Of course, sunscreen is a year-round necessity and now more than ever (don’t forget behind the ears, tops of the hands and feet too!). I stick with the more natural brands and they’ve all been successfully road-tested by our family. I have fair skin and not a sunburn in sight! Here are my top picks…
- Alba Botanica Kids Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($7.15 at Walmart): Sinks right into skin, loaded with Zinc Oxide, fragrance-free, and an ultra reasonable price point.
- Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 50 ($64): This clever application is a slam dunk, especially after makeup – simply dust it on. I keep one in my purse and another in the car for protection touchups all throughout the day, including on the tops of my hands while driving. Gluten and fragrance-free, it has 24% Zinc Oxide and a higher price point but it works and lasts a long time. In other words, worth the splurge!
- Raw Elements Eco Formula 30 + Lotion Tin ($18.99): Ultra water-resistant, doesn’t sting eyes (a must with the kiddos), and packed with antioxidants and vitamins. This wonder screen also glides on without leaving a sticky residue or white splotches.
- Soleil TouJours Mineral Based Sunscreen Continuous Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($36): Mist on the all-out luxury with this hypoallergenic, vegan and gluten-free protection including Zinc Oxide and an array of moisturizing/anti-aging delights like Green Tea Leaf extracts and Vitamins E and C. Also comes in SPF 50.
- Manda Organic Sun Paste SPF 50 ($28): The star ingredient is Thanaka, which is ground tree bark from Myanmar in Southeast Asia, and has been reportedly used for 2000 years as a natural alternative to sun protection. It smells like cocoa butter, and just like the name says, this stuff is a thick paste so it doesn’t rub off easily. I use it on the nose, cheeks and under eyes since those are sensitive areas that are prone to burn – another winner for the kids too. You’ll notice it leaves a very light beige residue but I personally like it — looks cool!
As those warm-weather days begin to roll in, kick your look into high gear with these dreamy must-haves…
- Mossimo Slides ($27.99): These babies scream summer fun. And they’ll jazz up any look. They look fancy boutique pricey too, but they’re under $30. Win-win!
- Mer Sea Coconut and Seawater Mist ($32): I’m in love with this entire line of candles, bath and body products and luxurious wraps. A few sprays of this goodness on the face and body is the perfect anytime pick-me-up.
- Coolibar Packable Hat ($48): I’ve had this kick-butt hat for five years now and it still looks new. It’s a total triple threat – super comfy, stylish and you can crush the heck out of it (have packed it for dozens of trips), yet it doesn’t lose its shape.
- Sunnylife Pineapple Sipper ($14): Summer sips taste even better in this playful pineapple. Kids love it too!
- Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunscreen ($11.99): Don’t be hindered by “Baby” on the label; everyone in our family uses it. The main ingredient is Zinc, a mineral sunscreen (rather than chemical ones).
- Aerie Fringe Tote Bag ($24.46): How cute is this fringed tote?! Big time score. They’re on sale too, so grab one while you can.
Sure, there’s nothing more sublime than jetting off on a grand adventure across the pond. But, when you want to stay more local (say for instance, on U.S. soil) and leave the endless hours of travel time, exhaustion and passports at home, it doesn’t get better than Southern California. With glorious beaches, enchanting vistas, memorable fine dining and of course, those world renown sunny days (for the good majority of the year), So Cal reigns supreme. Fall may be kicking in but that fine warm weather isn’t going away and there are plenty of upcoming weekends and holidays to take advantage of. Whether planning a romantic rendezvous, girls only getaway, golf extravaganza, or all out family vacation, these are my two favorite destinations that never fail to dazzle – a taste of Europe right in our own backyards…
Just a short hour and a half drive north of Los Angeles (about 90 miles), Santa Barbara is referred to as the American Riviera. Nestled on the glistening Pacific Ocean, Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is perched right at one of the area’s must stunning beaches, Butterfly Beach. The property’s bountiful gardens and lush vegetation coupled with the classic Spanish Colonial style of the main lobby and accommodations envelop you in relaxed luxury perfectly reminiscent of the ultra chic Rivieras in Spain, Italy and France.
The light, sumptuous rooms, including suites and cottages, are cozy and elegant; most have private patios for sitting back and admiring the surrounding foliage. Butterfly Beach certainly beckons, but there’s just something so alluring about the main resort pool – its jungle setting complete with Kentia palms and Australian tree ferns always makes me feel like I’ve been transported to a tropical rain forest. And, then there’s the attentive pool staff who offer complimentary tasty treats like fruit kabobs and smoothies. I’m happy lounging here all day long with a final early evening beach stroll as the cherry on top.
Should you book a Premier level room or above you’ll also be treated to complimentary access to the glamorous Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, just a few steps from the hotel. This private membership social club dates all the way back to 1937 and underwent a recent and very wow-worthy renovation. Glamorous ocean front lounging and dining, a larger-than-Olympic size swimming pool (50 meters + 1 foot), Fins – a fresh squeezed juice and snack bar, a kiddie pool heated to 94 degrees, and Four Seasons service await you. A definite Coral Casino must: take in the sunset, spectacular views and local, sustainable gourmet preparations by booking a dinner reservation at Tydes Restaurant.
Traveling with kids? Kids For All Seasons is the ultimate hang out. Drop off for ages 5-12 is anytime between 9 am – 4 pm. And, a very thoughtful touch… it’s complimentary and the kids have a ball.
In the mood for a little pampering? Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore has you covered with the arrival of Jose Eber salon. This posh, intimate location offers cuts, color, makeup, and blow-dries. Should you care to stay in your robe, simply request services in the privacy of your guest room. Indulge yourself some more by spending an afternoon in the Spa. I especially love taking in the salty air and hearing the soothing sounds of the ocean from the treatment rooms – the Raindrop Essential Oil Massage is the ideal way to end a day of ultimate bliss.
Often times it’s all about the little things, and nothing makes me happier than just strolling along the charming pathways, admiring my favorite, awe-inspiring tree, the majestic Moreton Bay Fig tree that dates back to the 1800’s and simply breathing in this tropical paradise.
Places to eat and things to do while in Santa Barbara: Rori’s Ice Cream for decadent, small batch, artisanal frozen delights. Brophy’s Brothers on the harbor for fresh seafood and sumptuous views. The Santa Barbara Zoo. The Santa Barbara Courthouse for a dose of culture. Wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley (about an hour drive). Santa Barbara Public Market off of State Street – a gourmet food mecca. Ganna Walska Lotusland – a private estate in Montecito that is now a non-profit botanical garden.
Upon arriving at this architectural masterpiece, you’ll instantly feel like you’ve landed on Italian soil. The entire design of the resort takes inspiration from the work of 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio, famous for his palatial homes on the Venetian countryside and his philosophy of grand scales and impeccable symmetry. Wrap yourself in Mediterranean-like splendor as you gaze across the the sprawling Tom Fazio designed golf course to the unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean. The 100 year old olive trees, along with pine, cypress, fig and pine trees adorning the property, create an impeccable environment of classic Italian authenticity.
As far as the accommodations go, the plush Bungalow guest rooms with wood beam ceilings are in a class of their own, and at 847 – 1,600 square feet they are some of the most spacious I’ve seen – perfect for entertaining too. All of them have expansive private terraces, the majority with views of the ocean. I also love to get lost in the architecture of this place, and there’s something so soothing about taking in the views of the charming terra-cotta tiled roofs on the other Bungalows just below. You’ll swear it’s Italy!
If you’re looking for a true home-away-from-home experience, the Villas, ranging from 2,100 – 3,500 square feet, are a must. You have an option of two, three or four bedrooms complete with a gourmet kitchen and dining area as well as a private garage, butler service, private clubhouse and pool, and very own Piccolo restaurant.
The striking centerpiece of the resort is the Coliseum Pool. At 136 feet/41 meters in diameter, this family-friendly, yet very adult feeling pool is one body of water you won’t soon forget. And, the accommodating staff will cater to your every whim. I’m in my happy place lounging here all day long while gazing at the glistening glass tiles lining the pool and the views of the ocean just past the lush golf course. Hang here with the kids or treat them to their own special clubhouse with Camp Pelican. This ocean-view haven for ages 4-12 is decked out with a pool, bubble jet fountain, karaoke machine, touch screen computers, plasma TV’s and loads of arts and crafts. Pelican Hill also has your teens covered with Latitude, a hangout for ages 13-17 featuring beach sports, photography hikes and movie nights.
Looking for a little quiet me time? The 23,000 square foot Spa at Pelican Hill is a relaxation oasis. Indulge in one of their exclusive treatments like the Coastal Renewal scrub and massage utilizing organic botanicals grown in California. Or simply drift off on a cozy lounge chair inside the vaulted ceiling Aqua Colonnade after a dip in the decadent Roman-soaking pool. They even offer yoga classes in the Spa fitness studio, wellness classes and personal training. Whatever you choose, this is the place to kick start your health regime.
Italians know exceptional cuisine and boy do they have that down. From the homemade gelato made fresh daily on property to the authentic offerings of fresh pastas, meats and wines at Andrea Ristorante & Bar, Pelican Hill immerses you in all of the culinary delights that Italy has to offer. Not to be missed, Festa Dell’Autunno October 10-12 – their annual three-day event celebrating the autumn season with Italian traditions and festivities. The Italian Street Festa is one of the highlights featuring regional foods, live music and art amidst the the olive trees.
Places to eat and things to do while along the Newport Coast: A day trip to the quaint Balboa Island – don’t forget those tasty Balboa Bars (chocolate dipped ice cream bars) and Frozen Bananas. The most delectable Japanese cuisine and sushi at Bluefin. Shopping at Fashion Island. Orange County Museum Of Art for some culture. Spend the late afternoon at Crystal Cove – 3.5 miles of a marine reserve just minutes from the resort followed by dinner right on the beach at The Beachcomber – pure bliss!
It’s easy to make those dreamy visions of the mediterranean a reality with visits to Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore and The Resort At Pelican Hill, minus the hassle of overseas travel – two ultra memorable Southern California coast destinations that will forever stay with you.
Whether you’re in the mood to go all out and take your pedi to the next level or just looking for an ultra memorable gift, head straight to Spa Montage at Montage Hotel Beverly Hills for the Beverly Hills Pedicure. Before kicking off this heavenly one-hour treatment I highly recommend arriving at least 30-45 minutes early so you can melt right into pampering mode by slipping into a robe and indulging in the spa where there’s a luxurious women’s jacuzzi lounge complete with all of the necessary accouterments (dry sauna, steam room, private rainfall showers). Afterwards, float over to the waiting room to sip on an array of exotic teas and healthy snacks – this is where your nail technician will greet you along with a glass of bubbly. You’ll then be escorted into your own private pedicure sanctuary featuring a plush, roomy chair and bursting with fresh, alluring aromas (thankfully, nary a whiff of potent nail polish remover!). Select a color from SpaRitual, one of the more natural, eco-friendly polish/body care lines available, and then sink back while treating your legs and footsies to not just any old massage. Nope, not here. This is The Beverly Hills Pedicure ladies and gents, so it’s all about the wildly relaxing hot stone massage. And they even take this decadence a step further by topping it off with a dusting of 24 Karat gold powder by Naked Princess. 90210oooooh so worth it!
After a dip in the pool, nothing says summer lovin’ like one of these eye-catching cover-ups. Priced just right at $30 (Old Navy) and $26.99 (Cost Plus World Market), these two chic little numbers can go straight from the pool to a casual stroll and even lunch or dinner on the town (when paired with leggings, jeans or the like). They’re both machine washable on the gentle cycle then either air dry or tumble dry low on the gentle cycle again. Now all that’s missing is a tasty strawberry basil spritzer and a big bowl of tortilla chips! Have fun in the sun…
My search for an all-around everyday sun hat has ended. The Santa Cruz Reversible Hat by Coolibar has you covered (pun intended!). It’s comfortable, has a generous 4-inch brim that shades my face really well, it’s crushable (in other words, perfect for travel), it’s washable, it has UPF 50+ ( meaning the fabric blocks 98% of UVA and UVB rays), it’s reversible (white/tan is my favorite since these colors stay cooler under those powerful rays), and it looks pretty darn good too. Even more happy news… the price is very fair at just $35. I wear it for walks, both in and out of the pool, at the beach, and nary a new freckle appears. Coolibar offers tons of other hats so you’re guaranteed to find something you like. I’m a big fan of their sun protection clothes and swimwear too. And, they even have a ton of gear for guys and kids – that means one stop summer shopping for the entire fam!
Photo courtesy of www.coolibar.com