Saturday, July 28, 2012

When Away From Home Sweet Home...

When staying in hotels some can make you feel relaxed, some energized and some fearful for your safety. After staying in a few of the latter in unfamiliar towns I am now much more careful when choosing a home away from home. Hotels that give you a sense of the local area are my favorites, as are those with beautiful design and architecture. Here are my top five must stay hotels:

A few years ago I was fortunate to be awarded a winner of the President's Club at work. We received an all expense paid trip to Maui to stay at the Fairmont. Never in my life would I have expected to win a trip to Hawaii, much less have a suite at such a luxurious place. This hotel is SPECTACULAR! 

Set on the beach you can easily walk down from your room to partake in sunbathing, boogie boarding, canoeing and more. Our very first afternoon there I even spied sea turtles playing in the waves. Seeing those creatures in their natural habitat was a big thrill. 
From the moment you arrive in the lobby you know this is a first class establishment. Employees welcome you with a traditional lei and tropical beverage. Whether spending the day shopping in near by Lahaina or cruising down one of the most scenic drives in the country, the road to Hana, you will be counting down the moments until you return to the Fairmon Kea Lani. 

After first staying at the Sofitel in Los Angeles, I have since planned vacations to California with staying there again as the number one factor. Conveniently located across the street from the Beverly Center, just minutes from shopping at The Grove and close to the retail mecca that dreams are made of-Rodeo Drive, this area is perfect for a shopaholic.

The hotel itself is like a fantastic piece of art. Below is the gym, which would get even me to want to go in there, which is no easy task! 
The rooms are modern and the pieces that they have incorporated in are very unique. The beds are the best that I have ever slept in, like little clouds for your sleeping pleasure. Some of the rooms even have a view of the iconic Hollywood sign in the distance. 
The last time we were there in March one of the American Idol top 12, (apparently this is where they stay before moving into their Hollywood home later in the competition), decided he was going to sing loudly in the lobby while everyone was trying to do their thing in the business office. Even he couldn't put a damper on the futuristic look of the area and he promptly was given the boot the next week on air. Can't say I was shocked.  

When leaving the hotel, as if you would want to, there are no less than four people waiting to help you with your bags and into your car. With that type of service can I please return weekly! 

I heart New York! The Chrysler Building is my favorite piece of architecture and Grand Central Station is a close second. What do these things all have in common you might ask? The Grand Hyatt New York City. Sitting pretty on 42ND street between my two architectural loves in the Grand Hyatt. Close proximity to transportation is key when staying in the city. You can not get any closer than a private hall from the hotel into Grand Central. 
Having undergone a huge makeover the hotel is now very sleek. A unique fountain greets you as you make your entrance and make way to the front desk. There the Hyatt employees make every guest feel first class. Before visiting New York I always heard stories of New Yorkers as a whole being rude. After several trips to my now #1 city I can say from experience that anyone who believes this misconception need look no further than the employees at the Grand Hyatt.  

After an eventful day of walking around the museums, the villages or perhaps the Brooklyn Bridge the rooms at the Grand Hyatt provide a great place for relaxation. The makeover has also brought the addition of lustrous artwork in each room, bringing in the perfect splash of color. Wish to turn down the lights? No need to get up as the light controls are right behind the nightstand! The designers responsible for this fantastic perk must have known that guests would be too tired to move once they finally rested for a moment. 

On a side note,  if you love the movie Definitely Maybe like I do..the Grand Hyatt makes a guest appearance. 

If visiting San Antonio, Texas the location that 99% of people wish to stay is on the Riverwalk. In my opinion the Omni's La Mansion Del Rio is the most gorgeous property in the area. The Spanish architecture is so very charming. 
The courtyard area provides a small pool and seating areas to relax. Inside the rooms you will find arches, exposed brick walls, visible beams on the ceilings and some with views of the Riverwalk or the courtyard. 

Take a few stairs down from the hotel and you are right on the Riverwalk. For those who have never visited San Antonio this is a tourists dream. The walk leads to traditional Tex-Mex eateries as well as many other types of restaurants, shops, and historic local attractions such as San Antonio's first neighborhood La Villita. If you don't wish to walk the entire way the River Boats are a popular way to see the area. 
A short walk from La Mansion del Rio is the Alamo. A landmark of the Texas Revolution, this is a must see for most visitors of San Antonio.

Whether wishing to visit San Antonio for the history or the Tex-Mex which is some of the best in the state, there is no better location than the mansion on the river! I must divulge though that at one point when we stayed there we did have a paranormal experience. It turns out, according to the front desk staff, that there is a ghost that visits guests from time to time. Along the River Walk though talk of ghost stories is more plentiful than souvenir shops.

  The last place that I stayed was bound to make it's way onto my top 5 after just seeing it from the website. The second Hyatt location to make my list is one that I have seen multiple times in pictures and emails from   the company. When deciding to visit New Mexico I knew that I must stay here. I am so very glad that I did! 

Just a short drive from Santa Fe the Tamaya resort offers a traditional New Mexico feel. Play checkers in the courtyard of the pueblo buildings, relax in front of fire pits at night, listen to Native American flute music in the lobby area. Wish to play golf, raft down the Rio Grande river or take an exhilarating hot air balloon ride for views of the mountains? The Tamaya Resort can help arrange this for you! The Hyatt also helps bring in the traditions by inviting Native American artisans to sell their pieces, to teach adobe making, flute playing and dance at different times throughout the year. 
Another thing I loved about the hotel were the bunnies. These adorable fuzzies were everywhere! There was also horse stables, mules and a hummingbird garden. 
Native American artwork was hung throughout the resort which provided the perfect backdrops for camera hogs like Gabe and I. ;) 
The Hyatt Tamaya Resort is not the place you go to be next to the hustle and bustle of the big city, by the beach or the center of a tourist area, but it is the place you go to just be happy. So relaxing and welcoming. Every employee we encountered stopped to ask if we had any questions or needed any help. From the valet to the restaurant staff and pool attendants no one was too busy to welcome the guests. I adored this location as did Barkley as you can see. After his morning walk I liked to never have gotten him up from his nap in the courtyard grass. Never have I seen the pup happier, but what furry boy wouldn't be happy when receiving his own bag with treats, a toy and an engraved gold bone at check in. 

What are some of your favorite hotels? 

Photos of the Fairmont, Sofitel, Grand Hyatt NYC and the courtyard view of La Mansion del Rio and the first from the Hyatt Tamaya Resort were via the official hotel websites. All other photographs are courtesy of moi. 


Dorkys Ramos said...

Oh these places sound dreamy! I think some of my most memorable stays were the Marriott in Cancun, the Epic Hotel in Miami, and the Diagonal in Barcelona. Great beds, awesome views, and sexy bathrooms. Give me that and I'm sold.

Joy De Vivre Design said...

Ooh very nice picks as well Dorkys! I especially love how modern the Diagonal hotel is. Extremely cool design!