Monday, September 21, 2015

The Graduate: A Chic, Trendy and Pet-Friendly Arizona Hotel

As a pet owner, I always appreciate a trendy and chic pet-friendly hotel. Especially since those two adjectives typically don't apply to hotels that allow dogs. And that's what makes The Graduate in Tempe, Arizona such a great option for pet parents. This hotel chain is one of the hottest ones right now. And it's not hard to see why. The Tempe location is designed to look like a retro Mad Men-era hotel. Think prints, dark colors and old-looking decor inside the hotel room. 

 Pretty chic, huh?

 Psychedelic hallway, man.
As the name suggests, it's also designed to transport visitors back to their college days. Imagine how you would have decorated your dorm room if you actually had money. I appreciated the room keys that resembled ID cards, the composition notebook on the counter that served as a visitor's guide and the very Southwestern hanging art behind the bed. I loved most of the details here, but I especially liked the old school lamp in my room and bikes in the lobby. Just walking into the bright white hotel lobby made me feel like a film star from the 60s. 

 Anyone want to go cycling?
The mix of patterns and colors felt warm and inviting, not overdone or too busy.

And I love that the hotel is pet-friendly. As a pet owner, I appreciated the grassy area located behind the hotel and down a hallway beside the elevator where they could frolic and take care of business. The space comes complete with a handy waste bag dispenser too. It's a bit odd since this area is located right behind a bunch of sliding glass doors that lead to hotel rooms, but the curtains were always closed when I was out there with my dogs so it was never a problem.

The dog area. It's always nice to have one.

 Always helpful. Always.

 Don't you just want to chill by that pool?

I appreciated this at night so I didn't have to trek right through the lobby to let them out or venture too far from the property when it was dark outside. The area also leads to the hotel pool, but that wasn't a problem either.  

The room featured a balcony where I could sit outside with them. My dog's favorite feature was the comfy chair covered in fabric. I loved sitting with them there too.

 Rocket gettin' comfy.
Autumn in front of the mod-looking table top.

 The only words needed to describe this: Southwestern, collegiate chic.
 Rocket looking patriotic.
 I wish I owned this pillow.
 Gotta love that art.
 I want this lamp too.
 Room keys made to look like IDs. Plus, I love that old school library card holder.

Best of all was the hotel's location. It's across the street from ASU, less than a mile from the heart of Tempe--Mill Avenue--has two on-site restaurants and is right in front of a quiet and cute neighborhood. I loved being able to walk my dogs in this area. It made me and (probably them) feel right at home.

I loved walking down this charming, tree-lined street.

Let's all hope that the hottest hotels continue to allow dogs. Pet owners shouldn't have to miss out on the fun. 

 Please note: My stay was paid for as part of a press trip. Thoughts are my own.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Ode to My Favorite Magazine Growing Up

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, but I wrote an ode to my favorite magazine that was published on Bustle a few weeks ago. I've been meaning to write this for years now, and it feels good to finally see it online. Here's to you, CosmoGirl!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Paradise in Paradise: A Review of The Ikal Spa at InterContinental's Cancun Hotel

The best spas really are like paradise. You're whisked away somewhere fabulous, invited to stay just a few hours before it's back to the daily grind. But what's a hotel to do when it's smack dab of the middle of a stunning stretch of Cancun beach and all the guests are constantly surrounded by paradise? That's what the InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort has attempted to answer with its brand new Ikal spa--the first on property. 

Isn't that just gorgeous?

After you've slid open a glass door, get ready to be surrounded by a soothing gray and off-white environment. Hibiscus flowers are floating in standing water. After you're greeted at the front desk, you'll get to relax on some comfy lounge chairs. Nosh on fresh fruit or tasty oatmeal cookies (I may have had three or four) while you wait for your treatment. 

                                       You'll love this table full of treats. Tip: Try the cookies first.

                                              The doorway to spa heaven.

Treatment rooms all have Mayan names. The rooms are standard spa rooms. There's a massage table, a counter with a sink and a heater for towels. There's a couples massage room too if you'd like to receive a treatment at the same time as your lover or friend. 

The treatment menu features massages, aromatherapy and reflexology. The menu also incorporates Mayan techniques into the mix with offerings like the Aroma Mayan Experience--a massage that uses scents like lavender, bergamot and chamomile to help you and your muscles really unwind. My 80-minute signature massage helped me relax and worked out some of the tight spots in my muscles. I carried that feeling with me throughout my day. 

The centerpiece of the spa is this gorgeous pool. Yes, I had a great time relaxing in here.

The centerpiece of the spa is a pool modeled after a cenote--a natural pit that fills with groud water. The pool in the center--turn on the jets to soothe your muscles or leave them off to relax in the still water. The white loungers surrounding the pool are exactly where you'll want to lay back and read or rest. I had my trusty September issue of Glamour with me the whole time.

You'll love lounging on these chic white loungers when you're not taking dip.

I found it very soothing to relax in the water and then lounge by the pool. My only complaint was the door faced the hallway where the staff was wandering around, which meant the noise from the hall spilled over into the lounge area. It's a small space, so I understand that there's not much that can be done about that though. 

Additional amenities include a salon and a locker room that comes complete with showers and a steam room too. I personally loved the ultra-modern rainwater showerheads. 

                                                    The spa's locker room. 

                                                       I loved this shower. 

Overall, I can say that the spa is a perfect place to relax and enjoy a treatment if you're in Cancun. And after you're done, you can lay on the beach that's just a few steps away to sink deeper into a state of tranquility. After all, you're in paradise wherever you are at this hotel.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Old School Meets New School: Cross Country Road Trip Maps

So, we all know the (relatively) cliched image of a cross country road map where the push pins represent stops. But modern times call for modern technology, which is where Google maps comes into play.

Pretty, isn't it? Photo courtesy of Flickr user Marc Levin.

I recently made a map featuring all of my different stops along my cross country journey. You can see it here: It's relatively easy to do, if you're so inclined.

I figured that years from now, I'd want to look back in remembrance. I made this Spotify road trip playlist too. The only song missing from it is "Bad Blood."

Here's to maps, playlists, cross country drives and trips that you'll never forget.