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Gather a group to save money on luxury holiday travel

November 11th, 2011 1 Comment

I would LOVE to get out of town after Christmas, but it’s SOOOO expensive to travel during the holidays.  My strategy to cut costs was to gather a group of friends, but alas, most of them have their hands full with kids and family.

But this could still work for you!

The group concept works because you can rent a house instead of an individual room. True luxury vacation rentals will also have a chef and staff which will save money on meals and transportation.

LaCureVillas has a solid inventory of stand alone rental houses all over the world.  They’ve been in the business for decades so they have a proven system to find and feature the best.  Their prices are reasonable for the luxury and quality of the properties (see one above that starts at $750 a night).  Houses on VBRO and AirBnB are mostly composed of people’s homes that don’t seem satisfying for a real vacation. Luxury Link auctions off entire properties to rent that seem nice, but they are few and far between.

Most people always ask me how they can travel well in Mexico without paying the rates of the resorts.  My answer is always home rental because usually the rate includes a chef and cleaning staff.  LaCure’s Cabo San Lucas villas are a great option if you can’t afford the Capella or La Palmilla.  For San Miguel, go to PrimierSanMiguel for unbelievable private residence rental.  In Playa del Carmen, the best deal you’ll find is at El Faro which isn’t luxurious, but has a great location and modern decor. The condos are 2-3 bedrooms with a full kitchen that look out over a huge pool and the ocean.

Now you’re thinking, “Ok, I’m down to get a group and rent a dope house, but how do I get there without spending a small fortune?”  Well, I don’t know, but Gary does.  Read about his blog and service here to save money on your plane tickets.

Alright, now it’s time to start browsing your contacts for friends who will want in on the ultimate vacation!

(Post sponsored by La Cure Villas.)

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“Mexico Lives On In Luxury” – Part 1 of 3 – Capella Pedregal

May 28th, 2011 1 Comment

It’s a shame your biggest fear when considering a vacation to Mexico is no longer Montezuma’s revenge, but rather for your personal security.  After a year of travel throughout the country, my only concern was whether or not they used fresh lime juice to make my margaritas.  Seriously.  The U.S. Department of Defense has issued warnings against travel to 15 states in Mexico, but the other 17 have proven statistically to be safer than the US.

My mission was to discover the luxurious side of Mexico, far away from the civil hostility and spring break debauchery that has come to define the country.   I found the breathtaking getaways I was looking for at The Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, the Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas and the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, all of which have raised the standard of luxury for south of the border resorts. And they’re just a two-hour plane ride away from Houston.

Today my article that offers reviews on all 3 is running in The Houston Chronicle.  Because it’s lengthy I’m going to break it up into three parts and offer you videos and pictures so you can see each come to life!  Come back on the next two following Fridays to see Banyan Tree (click here for my city guide to Playa del Carmen) and The Rosewood in San Miguel (click here for the video of my Rosewood suite).

Right now, feast your eyes on The Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas.

“Without any colorful visualizations, I’m just going to come out and say it: The Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas was my favorite resort. I’ve been anti-Cabo for a while, so when I found myself perfectly content tucked into the Pedregal hillside, I realized they had built something special.

When I opened the hand-carved wooden door to my room, I was overwhelmed. The wooden floors, handmade furniture and iron chandelier defined a contemporary living room that opened to a patio with an infinity plunge pool and fire pit. To complete the picture, there are three other fixtures worth mentioning: a one-of-a-kind driftwood headboard, an oversize claw-foot tub and a bottle of Don Julio tequila for complimentary sipping.

During the day, I passed the hours chatting with other guests by the infinity pool or taking little excursions.

The concierge arranged kayaking and snorkeling off property, which I highly recommend, and I enjoyed running through the neighborhood of private houses behind us. Golfers will be impressed with the sprawling course, and the celestial Auriga spa has the remedy for anyone who gets a little too much sun.

By night, you could find me three courses deep in amazingly fresh and traditional dishes from on-site restaurants Don Manuel’s and El Farallon. Perched atop a cliff and lit with candles, El Farallon sets up one of the most romantic dining experiences in Mexico.  Here they let you pick your own fish from the day’s catch and select its preparation.  Here they let you pick your own fish from the day’s catch and select its preparation.

Barbecues on the beach often are scheduled, or you can have the concierge set up a private one for you. And whatever you do, don’t leave the Capella without having a s’more.

Barbecues on the beach often are scheduled, or you can have the concierge set up a private one for you. And whatever you do, don’t leave the Capella without having a s’more.” (Originally published in The Houston Chronicle)

Below is a video tour of my gorgeous Estrella suite, which is their standard room if you can believe that!  What I didn’t have room to say in the article:

The rate for the room starts at $1200.  Other beachfront suites are obviously more expensive, but unless you need the extra space I would recommend not staying on the beach.  The winds are so strong that it can shake the doors and be really loud at night.

Check out pics from the press trip I took to the property.  You’ll see my fire pit, many of the delicious dishes I devoured, our beach bbq, and more! Click the first picture to get a light box slide show.

To read my entire article on all 3 Mexican resorts I love at Chron.com, click here.  Next week I’ll post the segment on The Rosewood San Miguel and the following you’ll see Banyan Tree in Playa del Carmen.

(Full disclosure: Media discount was extended by The Capella Pedregal.)

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Oh. My. Goodness.

April 29th, 2011 7 Comments

The view from my room at The Rosewood!

I have to say I was a little disappointed San Miguel isn’t on the beach, but sitting on my terrace (which is bigger than one of my NYC apartments), is pretty amazing.  It looks like Italy!!

No clue what those purple trees are called, but I’m going to find out.  Wow….

(Full disclosure: Rosewood provided generous media rate in exchange for an honest review.)

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“Are you going for business or pleasure?”

April 29th, 2011 1 Comment

San Miguel de Allende….beautiful isn’t it?!

For years, I’ve heard how magical the central Mexican town is, and now I finally get to find out for myself.

As you can see, my hotel review writing for The Houston Chronicle is picking up, and my next article is a BIGGIE!

The Rosewood San Miguel, which JUST opened, is the final piece of a feature about the three latest and greatest resorts in Mexico.  Tough job, but somebody’s got to do. The other two hotels I’m including are  The Capella in Cabo (my photos from that trip here) and The Banyan Tree in Playa del Carmen.

I will throw up a couple of pictures while I’m there so you can see the town for yourself, anticipate the review, and of course feel ridiculously jealous.  Kidding!

Adios amigos.

(Full disclosure: Rosewood provided generous media rate in exchange for an honest review.)

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A Tour of My Suite At The Capella Pedregal – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

November 28th, 2010

A week ago today I was leaving The Capella Pedregal in Cabo, obviously against my will :)  As promised, here is a tour of the suite I enjoyed (immensely) for 4 days.

When you see the ocean, it’s relatively calm.  The waves are usually a lot bigger.  In fact, the current is so strong, they don’t allow swimming on this part of the beach.  The wind at night can get pretty chilly too.

Just so you know, all of the rooms have ocean views, the big tub, a plunge pool, and fire pit.  Rates for a standard room start at $499.

My official review to come next week.

(Full Disclosure: The Capella generously comped airfare and accommodations in exchange for a review.)

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Postcards from Playa Del Carmen

August 5th, 2010 No Comments

GPOYW: You don’t need to see me edition

Lunch (almuerzo in Spanish – you’ve just learned something today!). These veggies were grown down the street and grilled lightly. No seasoning needed. Wrap it up in a handmade tortilla and you’ve got a meal.

(This post has been updated.  Wow, totally embarrassed I wrote breakfast instead of lunch.  Must have been the tequila typing).


With a fresh pineapple margarita. Case and point: Mexico is healthier than the States.


Annnnd…scene. Nap time!

After my nap. Living on the edge and tanning topless. No, I’m not going to show you. Honestly I’m a little uncomfortable with the whole situation even though there’s no one here…. Just thought I’d try it out, go crazy. But this kind of behavior might be a little to extreme for me…before a couple cocktails anyway.


Umm, has anyone seen my ass? It must be around here somewhere. I swore I brought it…


Almuerzo ;)



“Way down here

You need a reason to move

Feel a fool

Running your stateside games

Lose your load

Leave your mind behind, Baby James 

Oh, Mexico….”

—Mexico, James Taylor

Mason is so stressed out.


Our idea of a good time.


Good morning from paradise.

Not sure if you remember this, but last time I came down, it rained continuously for 6 days straight!  On this trip, the weather is flawless: not too hot, a cool breeze comes off the ocean, and I have great friends here to share it with.

Now that’s what I call Smile Friday :)


Digging out the vein to get to the taco isn’t ever fun, but totally worth the effort…or the extra bucks per pound to have them already de-pooed.


Another fabulously fresh and simple lunch: shrimp tacos with Sarah’s pineapple salsa.

To make the salsa all you have to do is chop up:

— pineapple

— onion

— jalapeño

— red bell pepper

Add a little olive oil, a squeeze of lime, and you’re done. Use it with broiled white fish, cold green beans, or chips.



And today’s beach bum nap album, The XX. It’s mellow and motontonous but has personallity and soul.  Honestly, I’m terrible at describing music, it’s just a fucking amazing album.  I use it for spin (“Crystalized”) and to fall asleep. How that’s possible is beyond me, but I’m digging it.

(Click here to preview or buy on iTunes)



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“I got my toes in the water….

April 18th, 2010 No Comments

…ass in the sand…

“…not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand. Life is good today.” — Zac Brown “Toes”

“…not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand. Life is good today.”

— Zac Brown “Toes”

(Taken on the beach in Playa del Carmen, my home away from home)

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April Trip to Mexico

April 14th, 2010 No Comments

Sunnies, check. Obnoxious bright pink, check. Smile, check.

Headed back to Playa for a few days of fun in the sun before I put my nose to the grindstone in Houston.

I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear my life has a new twist. More to come on this soon.

Hasta mañana.


We made it to Mexico!


GPOYW: My Outdoor Office Edition



Can you see that?! Goosebumps! In Mexico. Who knew the breeze could actually be chilly. I’ll have to go shave (again!) if I go out to the beach. Yep, it’s that bad.

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