Bestie In Travel: A Girfriends Guide
I have always enjoyed traveling with significant others and members of my family, but some of the most memorable experiences are the trips that I have made with my “Bestie.”
Traveling with one of my closest friends creates memories that make us smile and even giggle. There is a different type of laughter with my best friend, one that is unique and special because I know that we are connected on so many different levels. She is the sister that I never had and while our trips tend to get us in a little more trouble than the standard vacation, they are also the most fun and exciting!
And of course, a girls’ getaway isn’t complete without an amazing hotel to relish after our long day of activities and adventure! Here are a few of our favorites at ALTOUR.
ALTOUR Los Angeles; VIP Services Stefanie.Behrens@Altour.com 310-954-3277
My Local Favorite: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
I adore the ocean coastline of Santa Barbara, but there is something more restoring and intimate about staying a bit further inland. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa has always been one of my favorites.
Ojai is a Chumash Indian word that means “The Nest.” It couldn’t be a more cozy and quaint city with its charming tasting rooms, family-owned restaurants, farmers market, and unique shops to find that perfect hidden gem. You can spend your days taking gorgeous nature hikes, visiting the wineries of Ojai, such as The Ojai Vineyard, or Casa Barranca Tasting Room, driving up to have dinner at The Hitching Post, or shopping on Santa Barbara’s State Street.
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is the perfect place for a girls’ getaway because it has everything that we love. The Spanish style of the entire property feels seamless, comfortable and relaxing from the minute you pull in the drive. While the resort is quite large, I never feel overwhelmed by it and the grounds are beautiful and inviting. A short stroll from the tennis courts to the spa will delight the senses. I could describe the beauty and charm of the guestrooms, but while they are comfortable and lovely, we were barely in the room!
When I stayed at the Inn with my bestie we woke up and enjoyed coffee on our patio, followed by morning yoga and a dash to the pool to soak in the sun and enjoy fresh fruit smoothies. In the afternoon, we went to the spa for an afternoon of rejuvenating treatments, before hitting the driving range for a few shots at sunset.
And speaking of Spa Ojai, it’s stunning (they even have a “pumpkin spice” treatment this season). My absolute favorite is the Kuyam Experience; you sit in Moroccan tile chaises and apply special cleansing desert clay all over your body, let your pores open and sweat in the intense dry heat, all the while being guided by traditional Chumash meditation and chant. What an experience!
And for those of you with a passion for potions, Ojai has the ultimate apothecary to create your own lotions, soaps and bath salts. You create your own unique recipe, which you’ll never find in any store (think of Jasmine meets Amber), and add your own special scent profile dash of this and that. The Inn will keep your recipe on file, and you can order your own products for years to come— so unique and so special!
Shopping like a Pro: Ritz-Carlton Pudong, China
I know I am supposed to talk about the amazing shopping in Shanghai and what a great girls’ getaway destination it is, but the first thing I always think of is the bathrooms of Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai, Pudong, and specifically, the bath tub. Truly, I have never loved a bath tub more.
The alluring and stylish hotel room beckons you into the bathroom where you’ll find a bath tub that is like a lounge chair that you can actually take a bubble bath in!
Ok, back to the hotel: I loved this hotel the minute we arrived. It has the fashionable taste of a luxury hotel in NY, the stylish clientele and social stature of Paris, a hint of trendy sex appeal from Los Angeles and the absolute best views of Shanghai that you could ask for. The property reflects aspects of many different cities but created a solid product that represents a beauty and grace all its own. The aesthetic includes sleek grey marble, fresh orchids covering empty spaces, splashes of rich pinks and reds, and rich velvet throughout the lobby.
The hotel itself is beautiful and I love the design story that it represents. Designed by the world famous architect designer, Cesar Pelli, The Ritz- Carlton in Shanghai, Pudong is contemporary, with hints of new interpretations of 1930’s Shanghai Art Deco. This gives a great sense of place to the hotel, guest rooms and restaurants provide magnificent sweeping views over The Bund, which contains the most intact collection of Art Deco architecture anywhere in the world.
And of course, we can’t forget the shopping! I would highly recommend a personal shopper to show you around the city. When we weren’t eating the most amazing dim sum or visiting open air markets, we were having pencil skirts and winter coats made by talented tailors. I thought shopping in Beverly Hills was nice, but shopping in Shanghai is a whole new adventure. It can be a bit stressful and sometimes overwhelming, so be prepared.
My girlfriend and I had heard the urban legends of this glamorous experience before we left (Who are we kidding? That is why we went to Shanghai!), so we each had an idea of style, cut and color before the shopping extravaganza began. There are fabrics, colors and look books from all the recent runway shows, so choose your style, get measured and your clothes are delivered to your hotel the very next day.
Beach-Sleep-Party: The Miami Beach
This one is easy ... Miami is already fun and sexy, but with the opening of the Miami Beach edition, the entire city has reached a new level of class. I loved this hotel! And who wouldn’t want to travel to South Beach for a little fun in the sun with their best girlfriend?
You pull up to the chic porte cochere, just off Collins Ave, and are greeted by some of the most handsome valet attendants (tall, tan and blonde). Then you enter a white marble lobby with gold accents and candles burning in every corner; this is when you feel true Miami culture, but with a unique sophistication and style.
The rooms are large, serene and subtle, each imbued with a sense of ease and relaxation in neutral color schemes. This calming presence is such a wonderful contrast to the bright, loud and sometimes overwhelming beat of Miami streets. I loved the rooms, truly, but we could not have been happier with the dining outlets.
Market at Edition is a delicious choice, featuring multiple food stations to choose from: bakery, charcuterie and cheese, raw bar, juice bar, pizza station and more.
I recommend eating at the gorgeous Matador restaurant ... more than once. While the same menu is offered, the experience in the dining room versus Matador Terrace was completely different; the dining room is more formal and the terrace has a more relaxed, poolside feel. Definitely don’t forego drinks at the Matador Bar, as well!
And last, but not at all least, its Miami, edition has a beautiful pool that is reminiscent of throwback 50’s style, on prime beach real estate with full-service beach chairs and set- up.
But to end a girl’s trip in complete style, you must visit Basement. Night club, ice-skating rink and bowling alley, all in one glamorous venue ... oh my!
Food and Culture: Capella Singapore
My bestie’s parents moved to Singapore a few years ago and I have been fortunate enough to be invited on a few family visits.
Singapore, as a whole, was such a beautiful and wonderful experience for me. It was my first trip to Southeast Asia and I have to say, it’s a location/destination that I could visit over and over. From the minute we arrived at the airport, I was so impressed with how clean and fresh everything was. Even the drive from the airport to her parent’s house was beautiful and unique: forest, water, metropolitan areas and beach.
The city itself is stunning and has much to offer its visitors. We were able to walk through Chinatown and gather fun trinkets, visit the most spiritual and calming Buddhist temples and monasteries, take a river boat ride through the middle of the city, enjoy too many Singapore Slings (gin-based cocktail ... delicious!) and experience the ultimate of views, while having dinner on the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands.
I truly enjoyed seeing and learning all about Singapore, including eating as much spicy crab as possible, but the highlight was visiting the Capella property on Sentosa Island. Sentosa is a more relaxed and residential area of Singapore, just over the bridge, and Capella had some of the most distinct architecture that I had ever seen. I fell in love immediately.
As you start the drive up toward the hotel, you become completely entranced by your surroundings. A vast green landscape with huge trees that already represent an abundance of history and age surrounds a grand building that combines traditional white columns and wrap-around balconies with a completely modern twist of glass walls and contemporary building structure. I genuinely thought it was one of the most intriguing and engaging hotels I had ever seen.
The combination of rich and residential warmth feels like you have been invited into someone’s luxurious traditional home, mixed with modern dining outlets, cascading swimming pools and floor-to-ceiling windows in the guestrooms engaged all my senses in the most captivating way. You can tell how much I loved this hotel, and hopefully my best friend invites me to visit again!
Mix It-Up: Golf and Spa at Verdura Resort, Sicily
My best friend and I truly love to relax, play golf, spa, cook and enjoy fitness classes in this exquisite location. What’s better than a little physical activity mixed with the personal treat of a spa day? Verdura Resort in Sicily is the perfect destination for enjoying all of these things.
I was originally intrigued by Verdura because I have always been a big fan of Rocco Forte properties (I even wrote about Browns London just a couple months ago), so when I read an article about Verdura representing Rocco Forte’s new spa philosophy, I knew we had to check it out. The spa philosophy is based on Sebastina Kneipp’s five pillars: water, plants, exercise, nutrition and balance. Verdura specifically features 5 health-focused programs: Fit, Slim, Detox, Anti-Age and Relax. This couldn’t be more perfect for a long-haul girl’s getaway that makes for extra bragging rights.
Outside the spa, there are a million other fabulous ways for two friends (or a romantic couple) to spend quality time together. We were so happy to take advantage of yoga classes, organic cooking classes and even a personally-guided tour of the two championship golf courses, as well as the beautiful 9 hole par 3 course; the golf pro, David, wasn’t so bad either...
Verdura faces the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea on the South Coast of Sicily, close to the fisherman village of Sciacca where you can enjoy authentic and absolutely delicious food, as well as appreciate the close proximity to amazing heritage sites and temples.
At the end of a most lovely day, we were thrilled to be sipping signature Sicilian mojitos made with fresh oranges, lemons and basil leaves while enjoying the heartwarming Sicilian sunset reflecting on the crystal water of the Mediterranean Sea.
We left our vacation feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, healthy, spiritually-centered and awakened. This is truly a resort designed for guests to unwind while at the same time, maintaining your active side.
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