Wanderlust Wednesday: Malaga

I’m dreaming of a winter getaway. My grandfather was born and raised in Spain, so the country has always been on my bucket list. I recently learned of  a charming city there called Malaga—it’s the sixth largest city in the country, which lies on Spain’s Mediterranean “Coast of the Sun.”

Malaga travel guide
The enchanting city of Malaga
Spain’s Costa del Sol has worked hard to shake off its reputation as a tourist-heavy resort hotspot, and visitors have been surprised by the beauty and charm of this region. Malaga is not all about crowded beaches and hotel complexes, and this picturesque port city is full of Spanish atmosphere. Continue reading →

My favorite spa in South Florida: Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa Eau Spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

When I first got into magazine editing, I had never been to a spa before. I was in my early 20s, a recent college grad and, like most young adults my age, didn’t have any money. So I wasn’t sure what to expect when –  during my first weekend on the job – my editor assigned me to cover a media event at the Four Seasons Palm Beach spa. I ate lunch with a bunch of beauty editors, toured the resort and was treated to a body wrap and massage. My therapist exfoliated my skin, and then, using a giant paintbrush, covered me with a thick mud. She wrapped me in a warm blanket and as the minerals seeped into my skin, I felt more relaxed than I ever had in my life. Once the mud hardened, I rinsed it off in the private rain shower connected to my treatment room, watching in fascination as the mud melted off and swirled down the drain.

I immediately called my mom afterward. “So, I think I like my new job,” I told her. When I studied journalism, I never imagined that I’d end up writing about beauty products and facials – but it ended up being one of the many pleasant surprises that come with working in the magazine industry.

That was years ago, and since then I’ve been to some of the best spas in South Florida and the Caribbean – from Canyon Ranch in Miami Beach to Tammy Fender Holistic Therapies in West Palm Beach to Elizabeth Arden’s Red Spa to The Ritz’s spa in St. Thomas. I’ve had facials, massages, body treatments. While each spa experience was incredible in its own way, nothing has been quite as memorable for me as that first treatment at the Four Seasons. It’s true what they say – nothing is as memorable or magical as your first time.

But then I walked through the Eau Spa‘s doors. And wow. It’s easy to see why this spa has won countless awards – named one of the top 15 spas in the world by Town & Country and top 15 in the US by Conde Nast Traveler this year alone. It’s like something straight out of a fairy tale – 42,000 square feet of jaw-dropping, whimsical beauty. It’s not the kind of place where you book an in-and-out, 50-minute massage. The only true way to experience this water-filled playground is to spend the entire day there. Continue reading →

Brunch at Oceans 234

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL Mimosa

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL Chicken and waffles: Belgian waffles, fried chicken breast, maple syrup, wild berry butter and fresh berries.

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL Egg croissant: Toasted croissant served with scrambled eggs, American cheese and bacon

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL Poached pear salad: mesclun and endive, chardonnay-poached pears, candied walnuts, red onion, crumbled goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL Hummingbird cocktail: St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Champagne and club soda

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL Macadamia-crusted Key lime pie with whipped cream, berries and caramel

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL

Brunch at Oceans 234 in Deerfield Beach, FL The view from the Oceans 234 outdoor patio

Jennifer Tormo and Adam Alvarez Me and my boyfriend, Adam, at Oceans 234

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I, uh, am kind of into brunch. OK, I’m actually a little obsessed with brunch. If there were one meal I could eat for the rest of my life, it would be brunch. Getting up late on a Sunday to go have a big breakfast with cocktails? Whoever came up with the concept is brilliant, really.

Now, the best thing about brunch in South Florida, specifically, is the ability to dine by the water. Oceans 234 is right on Deerfield Beach – one of the few waterfront restaurants in South Florida that’s actually on the beach. It overlooks the International Fishing Pier. Dining here any other way other than al fresco is a crime.

But the bistro touts itself for being about so much more than the view, so let’s talk about the food. Continue reading →

Editor’s Pick: A Beach Towel You Can Actually Sleep On

Sand Cloud: towel with a built-in pillow; South Florida travel blog

Sand Cloud: towel with a built-in pillow; South Florida travel blog

This year’s July 4th, my friends and I spent all day at the beach. I love the beach – so much I’d even go as far as to add some extra “o’s” in there and say I looove the beach – but we were there all day. By 2 p.m. my feet had gotten so burnt by the hot sand I couldn’t walk on them. There was sunscreen and sand in my Publix sub. My bottle of ice water tasted more like bath water. And, my neck hurt. Lying on the sand is just plain uncomfortable, I realized. I started to wonder if we could just to get to the part of the day where the fireworks would go off and I could go home to my bed.

When I got home that night and checked my inbox, I saw a message from the founder of a company called Sand Cloud. As I read the message, I couldn’t believe it – it was like some beach god had been watching me in my misery all day and decided to connect me with the most amazing start-up: one that produces handmade, Turkish towels with a built-in pillow.

Continue reading →

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13 Pretty Little Finds From Around the Web

prettylittlefinds3

In the past year or so, I’ve transitioned most of my shopping to the web. I spend much less time at TJMaxx and Homegoods and more time browsing Etsy shops and startup e-boutiques. I’ve found so many beautiful, creative products recently.

My maybe-someday digital wishlist. Listed from top to bottom:

1. The Long Distance Watch by Keung, $480: As someone who has been in a long-distance relationship for the past year and a half, this elegant, two-time-zone piece captured my heart instantly.

2. Monogrammed python iPad cases by GiGi New York, $110+: I’m a sucker for a leather-bound journal, and I absolutely love that these personalized cases make it look like you’re carrying a journal instead of a tech gadget.

3. Kimono-style robes by Pretty Plum Sugar, $65+: These robes were designed for bridesmaids, but I want one now.

4. Metal hinged Fitbit bracelet by Tory Burch, $195 + $99 for the tracker: I’ve been intrigued by Fitbit’s mobile fitness tracker for awhile, but have never seriously thought about pulling the trigger on one because I just couldn’t imagine wearing a clunky thing on my wrist everyday. So this stylish collaboration with Tory Burch is absolutely brilliant.

5. Couture Book: One of the most gorgeous photobook-printing companies I’ve seen. They literally turn your photos into coffee table books.

6. St. Louis Bengal sunglasses by Krewe du Optic, $195: This New Orleans-based company produces handmade eyewear with a lifetime warranty. I’d love to own a pair someday, but in the meantime I’ll keep following the company’s killer Instagram feed.

Continue reading →

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The Best Carrot Cake in Fort Lauderdale – Beauty & the Feast

Best Carrot Cake in Fort Lauderdale at Beauty & the Feast

There aren’t many things I love more than a good brunch. Carrot cake, though, is one of them.

I thought I already knew where the best carrot cake in Fort Lauderdale was. The food at the old Lester’s Diner is just OK, but the milkshakes and the cake slices – especially the carrot cake – are enormous and amazingly decadent. The perfect pick-me-up when you feel like treating yourself. I thought for sure that the restaurant’s slice of carrot cake was unmatched in South Florida.

I was wrong.

Beauty & the Feast‘s carrot cake is absolutely divine – perfectly spiced, layered with cream cheese icing and paired with homemade coconut gelato. Ugh. I can’t. Wait to go back for it, that is. The cake is the work of Pastry Chef Donna Silverthorn, who makes all the desserts and pastries in-house.

Beauty & the Feast

The gorgeous new restaurant at The Atlantic Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach, initially lured me in the Ferris Bueller quotes on its wall and its brunch. At $29 for all-you-can-eat small plates and omelets, pastries, fruit and more, I can’t think of a better value brunch spot in Fort Lauderdale. (Plus, add bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys for $15.)

You know those expensive brunch buffets with lavish steak, lamb chop and chicken small plates that are prepared ahead of time and then sit out for hours, getting soggy and cold? Beauty & the Feast is not like that. Guests can order a few small plates at a time from the server, who sends the order to the kitchen and brings them out fresh. Small plates include red velvet pancakes, pineapple mascarpone French toast, seafood paella, barbecue and ribs, these awesome meatballs served with ricotta and tomato “gravy,” … you name it. The dishes are all sized perfectly to allow just a taste, so it really is possible to try a ton and not get full. Which is really important if you want to go all out and order a slice of carrot cake for dessert, like I did. Continue reading →

Wanderlust Wednesday: Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubai Miracle Garden Dubai Miracle Garden Dubai Miracle Garden Dubai Miracle Garden Dubai Miracle Garden Dubai Miracle Garden (images via: 1, 2, 34 and 5/6)

Going to Dubai would be enough of a dream, but Dubai Miracle Garden is like something out a fairy tale. The world’s largest natural flower garden is 721,000 square feet garden and boasts more than 45 million flowers. Flowers range from petunias, geraniums and marigolds and are sculpted to look like giant castles, boats, cars, peacocks and pyramids. There’s even an enormous clock made out flowers that displays Dubai time. The garden also holds the Guinness Book of Records spot for longest flower wall.

The Dubailand-based garden opened on Valentine’s Day 2013. Ironically, the world’s largest natural flower garden is built on desert land. A total of 400 landscapers built the garden – and it took them only 60 days (makes me feel unaccomplished when I think about all that I’ve done the past two months!). The flowers are nourised with reused waste water distributed by drip irrigation.

The garden blooms from October through May and is closed through Dubai’s hot summer. The best part? Admission the see this world wonder is only about $8 USD per person, according to the website.

Browse more pictures of the garden here.

Travel Journal: Curaçao

Curacao travel guide

When I packed my bags for Curaçao, I was expecting to spend a long, relaxing weekend in a bikini, sipping cocktails. I was not expecting to eat iguana, or hold an ostrich egg, or visit a healing herb garden, or interact with people from more than 50 different cultures.

To me, the Caribbean is like a better version of Florida, where I grew up. The water is bluer, clearer, more gentle. The days feel slower, longer and always more relaxed.

So of course, I was prepared to find beauty and serenity in Curaçao. The adventure, camaraderie and color that came with it, though, were pleasant surprises.

One of the travelers from our crew put it perfectly when she compared the way we experienced Curaçao to the way Anthony Bourdain would – we experimented with trying the local fare, listened to the stories of locals, browsed the markets, and got up and close with a few ostriches along the way.

avila hotel - Curacao travel guide Avila Hotel

Avila Hotel - Curacao travel guide Avila Hotel

Avila Hotel - Curacao travel guide Avila Hotel

Papagayo hotel - Curacao travel guide The infinity pool at Papagayo Beach & Lounge resort Curaçao

Papagayo hotel - Curacao travel guide Me, relaxing in the infinity pool

Continue reading →

Wanderlust Wednesday: New Orleans

New Orleans French Quarter

Just over a week ago I was on a little vacation, wandering through the French Quarter with my love.

I’m daydreaming about being back there, admiring the beautiful Southern homes with their porches and gas lanterns. Of course, I’m also daydreaming about some of my favorite NOLA restaurants – the best donuts ever at District, the Guinness hot dogs at Dat Dog, hunting down my favorite food truck Taceaux Loceaux, the rum cake at Parkway, and, of course, late night beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

Travel Accessory: Designer Backpack Lookalikes for Less

 

Cheap designer backpack lookalikes - 3.1 Phillip Lim and The Row lookalikes from Forever 21 The Row Small Leather Backpack ($2,900) vs Forever 21 Faux Leather Backpack ($32.80)
3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Backpack ($895) vs Forever 21 Faux Leather Trapeze Backpack ($35.80)

I posted a few weeks back about the designer backpack trend, and now I just have to share these affordable options I stumbled upon at Forever 21.

Is it just me, or is the quality of inexpensive handbags at places like Forever 21 and Target just getting better and better? Handbags are one of the few things I’m picky about buying. You’ll use a good one every day and it should last you years. My philosophy has always been that a good handbag is worth the splurge, but the Phillip Lim x Target collaboration last year changed my life – I bought this beauty and have used it every single day for at least six months. Amazingly, it still looks good as new.

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