The Holidays can be stressful. Rushing to and fro trying to finish everything on your to do list, wrapping up the first half of the school year, and trying to do your normal work on top of it all. I find it difficult sometimes to relax and take in the magic of the season. That’s why we were thrilled to escape the hustle for a little bit this year and getaway to one of our favorite retreats, the Horse Stamp Inn.
We always enjoy a little wine at Happy Hour after checking in
Time. The Ultimate Luxury.
When you visit the Horse Stamp Inn, it’s all about you. Relax, unwind and find a quiet space for you and your loved ones. Reflect on your priorities, quiet your mind, and discover serenity in this peaceful escape where time seems to slow down, if only for a moment.
Sienna and Belle Fleur regard each other
Letting our kids run free.
Find peace when you getaway to the Horse Stamp Inn
Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Already Taken.
In a world of marketing, air brushing, and perfect online families (guilty), we all need a place we can go to and be our authentic selves. No digital filters, no need to compare or compete. This is a place you can just be.
The perfect event space!
Our kids love exploring the barn
Find yourself at Horse Stamp Inn
Find Magic in the Moment
We all have good days and bad days. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s not about the sum of our days being without flaw, we have to take the good with the bad. For me, the magic is found in the snapshots, the moments between where love and kindness abound. It’s important to stop and remember to embrace these moments. Don’t let them slip away. Horse Stamp Inn is a place that allows you the space to do just that. Pause, and reflect.
The Holidays feel magical at the Horse Stamp Inn
Southern French Toast and Sweet Georgia Peaches from Horse Stamp Inn
Every season is special at the Horse Stamp Inn, but for us, Christmas season is the perfect time to stop and take time for what’s most important. Remember who you are, set goals, give yourself a break, and let your soul embrace the impossible.
On the southern stretch of St. Augustine’s shoreline lies one of the historic coast’s most iconic destinations. Marineland is steeped in nostalgia and cinematic lore, and it’s Dolphin Adventures provide an intimate getaway for ocean lovers both young and old to experience the beauty and majesty of one of natures most intelligent creatures. The first Oceanarium to ever be built, I was surprised to learn that Marineland was the first place to both breed and train dolphins. Our family learned all this and more on our recent visit to this legendary destination.
From Cinema to Conservation
As the first Oceanarium of it’s kind Marineland was originally conceived as an underwater movie studio named Marine Studios where camera men were able to capture revolutionary new footage of elusive marine life on film. It was the first place multiple species were placed in the same tank to coexist together. During our visit we learned that although the concept of Marineland was designed for filming, the purpose ultimately changed to one of education and conservation. For the first time the public saw ocean life up close and had the chance to gain knowledge on how to help protect them in the wild.
Revenge of the Creature had scenes filmed at Marineland. This was one of several films shot on site.
Evolving Through Time
Marineland originally opened in the 1930s and experienced a large public following for many decades. As time and technology advanced the programming at Marineland began turning towards a new era in it’s existence. During an active hurricane season in the early 2000s, Marineland made the decision to close down temporarily, rebuild it’s facility and restart it’s dolphin program as one based more upon education and interactive experiences rather than dolphin shows.
Today visitors can get up close and personal with the 14 Atlantic Bottle Nose dolphins that call Marineland home through a variety of experiences. Our family enjoyed the popular Touch and Feed experience where we got to feed and pet one of the gentle dolphins residing in the 1.3 million gallon facility. Guests could also be seen swimming with the dolphins in a total immersion program (totally envy worthy), as well as touring behind the scenes through historic memorabilia and Marineland’s private aquarium collection.
The Touch and Feed program allows guests to experience a dolphin up close and personal.
During our visit we were able to connect with one of Marineland’s dolphins in a magical moment we will always remember.
The Future is Bright
The future is bright for Marineland as it’s new mission is attracting young and old alike. In addition the Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta’s famous downtown aquarium) acquired Marineland in 2011 ensuring future development and a larger network of support. Projects like Neptune park which houses their breeding tank of rare sharks, as well as several sea turtle tanks, will now continue to see future growth as an additional attraction on the grounds.
After 20 plus years of living in North Florida I can’t believe I had never visited Marineland. Our visit to this iconic destination was as eye opening as it was inspiring. We can’t wait to return and swim with the dolphins next time!
xo- Amy West
Marineland is entirely outdoors. Plan for weather accordingly. It was a warm day when we went and I was grateful we scheduled our activities earlier in the day.
The facility is wheelchair and stroller friendly.
General admission gets you in to see the dolphins and Neptune Park where the sea turtle tanks and shark tanks are housed. More interactive experiences are available at a variety of price points.
Children must be over the age of 3 to participate in the touch and feed program.
* Special thanks to Marineland’s Terran McGinnis for the hours she spent educating us on Mainland’s rich history and present day efforts.
We were guests of Marineland, however all opinions on the blog are completely my own.
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We’ve all been there. You save up, you take that trip you’ve been anticipating, and you eat your heart out. Sure the pleasure is undeniable, but so are those extra pounds you put on in the process. You can’t fit in those shorts or that cute bikini, and more than that… you just kinda feel crappy. It’s true that 80% of how we look and feel can be traced back to what we put in our mouth. I know I know, “How can this be Amy? Aren’t you always bragging about the amazing fattening food you eat?” Well yes, and no. I love great food. I’m a proud foodie. However, most people probably don’t realize that the majority of the time when we are at home, our meal time is very humble. I’ve been pretty honest about my childhood struggle with obesity. Over the years I’ve had to fight the urge to fall into the eating disorder trap. Instead of sinking into that pit of despair, I’ve found my own methods of living a life of balance, while also enjoying what I want. Here are some examples of how I lost weight going on great vacations to places like Jamaica, Rome, Colorado, and even a Cruise!
Let me begin by saying I’m not a nutritionist. Every body is different. Having said that, I hope you find these tips useful on your next trip. It starts by changing your perspective of food.
1. Rule of Thirds
Limit your indulgences to one meal a day (or 1/3), the rest of the day keep it healthy focusing on good choices. Many times, starting your day with good choices will keep you on that path. Sometimes I’ll even replace one meal a day with a protein bar or smoothie which helps me know I’ve fueled my body with great nutrition for the day.
2. Make it an Adventure
Choose an experience that will get you active and keep you more connected to your mind and body. In 2012 we journeyed to Colorado and climbed the 14,000 ft mountain Pikes Peak. To make it even more challenging (while saving money) we didn’t rent a car. Instead we rented mountain bikes to get around the little town of Colorado Springs. It was pretty freaking hard, but it was also incredibly fulfilling and to this day I think back on that experience with great pride.
3. Split Meals
Not only does splitting meals save money, it also helps with portion control. I found it especially helpful in Italy when my friend and I split some of the richer dishes you don’t want to miss like pasta, gelato, and yummy street fare.
4.Take the Stairs
When most folks think of cruise ships, they think of all you can eat buffets, and ordering every dish on the menu at dinner service. However, if you change your perspective a little, you can actually lose weight on a cruise. When we cruise we avoid the elevators at all costs (which are usually pretty crowded anyways) and instead take the long way up and down the stairs. We enjoy long walks on deck at sunset, and keep our food orders realistic. Because of this we were able to shed a few pounds on our cruise back in 2007.
5. Don’t Worship at the Alter of Food
I’m first to admit that I love great food. The culinary experience is one full of enjoyment for the senses. However, you can embrace great food without it consuming your life. When you travel you should enjoy the food experience, but if you are aiming to lose weight don’t make it the reason for the trip. Make taste the accessory of the trip, not the reason to travel. Find your great travel moments while experiencing new things, go bungee jumping, discover new art, but don’t put food first place on your priority list.
6. Earn It
I find when I purpose in my heart to “earn” that indulgence, it makes it that much more worthwhile. I savor each flavor more, and enjoy the effort I put into making room for it in my day. I know I made good choices for my body that day, and I’m more likely to keep my indulgence in line with my health goals. Having the “earn it” mindset might just give you extra motivation to hit the fitness center. Either way, getting active, even if it’s just walking helps you make better decisions when it comes to what you put in your body.
7. Walk it Off
I’ve found that when I have traveled to destinations that require a lot of walking (and in which I choose to do the walking instead of opting for public transport) I shed a few pounds in the process. Places like Savannah, NYC, Rome, and other big cities with activities spread around in walking distance are great choices, even Disney can be a great choice if you can avoid too much junk food.
8. Get Sporty Chic
When you are purchasing your vacay wardrobe, include some cute active wear you want to take advantage of. I find that starting my day out in fitness wear makes me more inclined to get active.
On your next trip grab a workout buddy to get active with or an accountability partner who will help you stay motivated. Need a friend? There are tons of apps online with great ways of getting you connected with people who have the same goals as you. Even posting your goals on instagram, facebook, or twitter can be helpful with keeping your goals a priority.
10. Options are Everything
Compare options when ordering off the menu. Make good choices i.e. glass of white wine vs pina colada or grilled fish vs the foie gras. You can still dine very well and enjoy your food while avoiding over indulgent meals that will likely just make you feel miserable after you dine. Choose food that will energize you and help you feel your best during your travels.
These are just a few of the little tricks I use to keep my goals in line.
What are your favorite tips for staying fit on the go? I’d love to hear your travel tips and hacks. Drop me a line in the comments below!
Before I was a travel writer, I was just a girl who loved to travel. In 2010 I checked a destination off my bucket list that is as iconic as it is ancient. Rome, at one time the epicenter of the world’s power, remains to this day largely the same. My Roman holiday was coupled with a visit to the Islands of Malta as well, and as far as my travels go, it was one of the most memorable trips I have ever experienced. Here’s why you should add Rome to your bucket list.
The Eternal City
My personal journey to Rome came as an unexpected surprise. An amazing friend of mine had won the trip of a lifetime and needed a buddy. Looking for an experienced travel companion like herself, she turned to me. You can imagine my response. Queue screams and jumping up and down. A mostly expenses paid trip, my out of pocket was extremely minimal. The trip? It was everything you would expect. Romantic, humbling, and moving.
One of the biggest bonuses of traveling with my friend Sunny, was that she had been to Rome many times before and even had her wedding there, making it easier to access the less traveled side of Rome with ease. It sure didn’t hurt that she knew her way around the Italian language as well. Very helpful when ordering that craving of Tiramisu or Espresso.
Rome has a way of touching the soul. The Colosseum, Forum, and Vatican City aren’t just tourist attractions made to look like monuments to the past. These are real places, that have survived the passage of time, and have been lovingly preserved throughout centuries. There is a maturity to the civilization and culture that echoes deep. I found the culture was very different from the young American culture. The streets of Rome have seen so much, and in turn, people don’t stress about the small stuff. They know more than most how to celebrate each day and embrace the beauty of life (la vita e bella).
Add This to Your Bucket List
Just because Rome has been officially checked off my list, doesn’t mean my love affair with her is over. The next time I return I’ll see a different side of her. I’d love to pursue the sophistication and mystique found in the James Bond Tour offered by Unique Tours Factory, led by an expert professional guide who is local to the region.
So many legendary films have been shot in the Eternal City, more than I can name. Most recently, though, fans can see Rome star in the James Bond movie Spectre. With Unique Tours Factory, a trip to Rome becomes truly iconic as you tour the ancient city by Ferrari, Lamborghini, or another super car of your choice. Race by the city’s most picturesque destinations including the Colosseum, the Castle of the Holy Angel, and St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. After lunch enjoy an interactive tour of Italy’s version of Hollywood studios known Cinecittà, one of the world’s largest film studios. Finally, you will end the day dining in style at Antica Pesa, a famous Italian restaurant frequented by the likes of Daniel Craig and Monica Belluci.
What more could you dream of when it comes to living a real life adventure of your own, full of luxurious sophistication?
Whether your destination is Rome or another exotic locale, Unique Tours Factory can deliver an experience unlike any other.
What’s on your bucket list? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below?
*Rate is based on single or double occupancy per night, for two nights; $38 nightly resort fee and tax are additional. Based on availability; some conditions may apply. Cannot be combined with other packages or offers. Offer is good on new reservations only and does not apply to group bookings. Breakfast not to exceed $35 per person. Additional charges are guests’ responsibility.
If you are looking for a getaway where you can truly escape from the hustle and noise of the city; where your focus is on your significant other and not at a computer screen, we welcome you to Sea Ranch Lodge. Nestled along the bluffs of the northern Sonoma Coast, our resort provides the intimate setting for a couple’s total relaxation. Our Luxury in Love package is just what you both need to rekindle the romance and tantalize the senses.
This offer includes the following:
Find your romantic hideaway in our Pacific Spa Patio Room, which features a cozy fireplace, King-size bed, and – best of all – an outdoor hot tub! Push back the sliding barn window to frame your own private view of the Pacific Coast and wildflower meadows. Tucked away at the end of the Lodge, your two-night stay here will be a retreat you won’t soon forget.
Toast to your love with a bottle of sparkling wine and savor chocolate-covered strawberries, which will be in your room upon arrival.
Dinner for two in the award-winning Black Point Grill, complete with a bottle of a featured local wine
Hour-long massages for the couple in our side-by-side spa rooms
Full made-to-order breakfast
Private two-hour guided walking tour of the coastal areas in the vicinity of Sea Ranch Lodge by Margaret of Unbeaten Path Tours. This is a remarkable way to reconnect with your natural surroundings, smell the salty air, bask in the ocean climate, and delight in the flora and fauna along the hike.
Sip the juice of extraordinary grapes at the nearby Fort Ross Winery. Take a tour of the Fort Ross vineyards and visit the tasting room, with a complimentary wine tasting included. We are sure you won’t be able to pass up taking back a bottle or two!
For your second night, we will save two seats for you to have dinner in the Black Point Grill, or if you want something completely private, order a special room service dinner from an exclusive menu created just for your enjoyment.
We will be sad to see you go, but as a farewell, please join us for a full made-to-order breakfast in the Black Point Grill and take in another view of the Pacific Ocean…perhaps you will even stop by the Front Desk before you depart and schedule your next visit to Sea Ranch Lodge!
A world-class destination in the heart of the American West, Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa invites guests to indulge in its Winter Wellness Weekend on February 12-15, 2016, a mid-winter, wellness-themed weekend designed to help guests escape the snow, recharge their body and spirit for Spring, and even sprinkle in a little romance for Valentine’s Day.
• 40% discount on rooms
• 30% discount on activities (excludes Driven Experiences and Air Tours)
• 20% discount on Spa
• Complimentary speakers and classes Saturday, Sunday, and Monday
• Complimentary Yoga classes
• Access to the latest in Organic Spa products
• Complimentary Runner’s Clinic
• Special Valentine’s Day menu offered in Entrada Restaurant
Cradled in the shadow of the Palisade rock formation and fringing the Moab Desert, Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks unveils Gateway Canyons, the world’s first and only discovery resort, created to nourish guests’ curiosity through intellectual stimulation and adventure within a naturally intriguing environment. Recently ranked as one of the Top Resorts in Colorado and a Top Resort in the World by Condé Nast Traveler’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, Gateway Canyons caters to the most discerning traveler with savory dining options at Entrada Restaurant and Paradox Grille, wellness-focused treatments at The Spa, private tours aboard a luxury helicopter, privileged access to more than 100 years of automotive history at the Gateway Auto Museum and a variety of self-selected experiential activities offered through the on-site Adventure Center and Driven Experiences program.
All Meals Including Gourmet Dinner On Valentines Day
Complimentary Champagne and Locally Sourced Flowers
Exclusive Use of Private Guide and Boat Each Day for Three Days
An excursion to a Secluded Beach
Private Beach and Much More
*Now available for travel from Thursday, February 11 through Thursday, February 18, 2016. Based on double occupancy. Package is subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other offer. Advanced reservations are required. Package rate is exclusive of taxes, resort service fee, boat guide gratuities additional alcoholic beverages or transportation.
The Commons Hotel invites sweethearts to play up the romance this Valentine’s Day with the “Be Mine” package, available February 12-14, 2016.
• Deluxe King Room for one night
• Romantic dinner for two in The Beacon Public House
• Champagne in room upon arrival
• Continental breakfast for two in guest room
• One Pay-Per-View in-room movie
• Valet parking
• VIP turndown service with sweet treat and romantic quote
Conveniently located close to downtown Minneapolis on the University of Minnesota campus, The Commons Hotel — part of the Noble House Hotels & Resorts collection — incorporates a theme of contrasts inspired by its collegiate ties to the university and industrial history of the Twin Cities – providing a welcoming atmosphere that embraces diverse people, cultures and communities who share the common desire to discover. Celebrating both the intellectual and the artist, the 304-room property gives nod to the geek-chic persona with playful experiences fancied around literary, art and science, from flights of local brew and alchemist mixology lessons at The Beacon Public House, to Sudoku Sleep-Ins and complimentary in-room book deliveries from the resident Book Butler.
The Brazilian Court Hotel $90,000 90th Anniversary Package*
The Brazilian Court Hotel invites guests to take a step back in time to the roaring 20s, pop a bottle of Dom Pérignon, and celebrate the landmark anniversary of The Brazilian Court Hotel with the “$90,000 90thAnniversary Package.” Guests will experience a sophisticated anniversary celebration with out-of-this world amenities, decadent fine dining, and accommodations that re-define the standard of luxury. “The Brazilian Court Hotel $90,000 90thAnniversary” package is available for a limited time, from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016.
Accommodations for three nights in “The Vintage Collection”
Round trip airfare in private jet
Vintage Rolls Royce with personal chauffeur
90’ private yacht rental for up to 9 hours
Caviar, Godiva Chocolate and Dom Pérignon Butler
Private 9-course “Speakeasy” style dinner with wine pairings at Café Boulud
Daily breakfast and dinner from 1926-inspired Café Boulud menu
Bottle of Dom Pérignon in each room suite upon arrival
Diamond and emerald cufflinks for him and earrings for her
*Starting price per 12 guests. Three-night minimum stay required. Based upon availability with 30-day advance booking and 30-day cancellation required.
It’s not too late to sweep your sweetie off their feet!