8 of the Best Hotels in the U.S.

asiseeit_fayette_headshot1As couples and families prepare for their upcoming vacations to some of America’s biggest cities, the daunting task of choosing a quality hotel can be overwhelming. To help with your plans, here are eight of my favorite hotels from the Big Apple to ‘Vegas, Baby!’

New York City
Millennium Broadway Hotel

The Millennium Broadway is perfectly situated in Manhattan’s Times Square and Theater District. Just steps from the Millennium Broadway awaits the energy that is known as New York City. Yet with over six hundred newly decorated rooms, this hotel provides a quiet sense of peace and relaxation with its large, comfortable rooms. The four styles of guest rooms in the Millennium Broadway each offer an ideal place to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing and shopping. With its warm décor, spacious rooms and suites, and numerous amenities, it’s no wonder that many repeat guests of the MillenniumMillennium Broadway Hotel Exterior Broadway call this hotel their ‘home away from home’ when visiting NYC. To add to the Millennium Broadway experience, most of the rooms offer spectacular views of the city, and all guests have access to the hotel’s fitness center on the sixteenth floor.
The Millennium Broadway Hotel also has two dining options within the hotel. The Restaurant Charlotte is quickly becoming one of the most popular restaurants in New York City, with its premiere dining experiences and breakfast options. The Charlotte Bar and Lounge is ideal for those looking for a light lunch or just as a place to relax with their favorite cocktail.
The Millennium Broadway is also connected to the historic Hudson Theater, which is a breathtaking venue for weddings and corporate meetings, with seating for nearly seven hundred. The upscale, family-friendly, Millennium Broadway Hotel is ideally located for those guests looking to hit the town to shop, dine, and sightsee, while providing unparalleled spacious comfort within.   


Miami Beach
Loews Miami Beach Hotel

The Loews Miami Beach Hotel offers its guests luxurious accommodations in the paradise setting of Miami Beach. Located in Miami’s famous South Beach, the white sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean invite hotel visitors to unwind and enjoy all that is Miami. Out the front doors of the Loews Miami Beach Hotel is the eclectic and wonderful Collins Avenue. Known for its art deco design, this strip is home to unique dining, premiere shopping, and seemingly unlimited sunshine.
LowesMiamiBeachWith nearly eight hundred guest rooms and suites, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel experience will be like none other on South Beach. The décor of the rooms is subtle, yet absolutely “Miami Beach”. With ocean and cityscape views, each room of this hotel will surely provide long lasting memories. Visitors have a choice of staying in the main hotel building or in the history-filled St. Moritz Tower.
And if lounging poolside or sunbathing on the beach isn’t relaxing enough, perhaps a visit to the onsite Exhale Spa is the answer. Dining at the Loews Miami Beach can be a fantastic experience. The Lure Fishbar, Preston’s, and Sobe Social are all restaurants that offer their own unique menus and atmosphere within the hotel. The Nautilus Bar and Grill and the Hemisphere Lounge also each serve up a lighter menu on a daily basis.


Chicago
The Langham Chicago

Located along the Chicago River, and within walking distance of most Chicago attractions and shopping, The Langham Chicago is the ideal hotel for visitors to The Windy City. The various room styles all have several things in common: views of the Chicago skyline from the large floor to ceiling windows and the luxurious comfort that makes up each room’s décor. With such amenities, it’s obvious why The Langham Chicago is one of the city’s finest hotels.the-langham-chicago
Dining at Travelle, the restaurant, bar and lounge located within The Langham Chicago is a fine dining experience. The menu is seasonal American cuisine, and the atmosphere is warm and relaxing. Visitors can even enjoy afternoon tea inside the hotel’s Pavillion.
At The Langham Chicago, the Chuan Spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, saunas & steam rooms, along with its 67-foot indoor pool all offer up a variety of luxurious accommodations for each of its guests fortunate enough to stay at this Midwest gem.


Boston
XV Beacon

Sitting atop Beacon Hill in historic Boston, the XV Beacon Hotel invites guests to experience luxury at its finest. Outside the XV Beacon’s front door, Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, and the shopping district of Washington St. are just minutes away. Within this Beantown boutique hotel are sixty-three neatly appointed rooms with personalized services that will have guests feeling like millionaires.
fifteen-beaconThe canopy beds and gas fireplaces found in each room at the XV Beacon add to the unique and luxurious surroundings of this Boston hotel. While the rooms are large enough to host small
get-togethers, they are also cozy enough to catch up on any needed rest & relaxation. World-class art work and antique furniture adorning the hallways add to the second-to-none experience of the XV Beacon.
The Beacon’s onsite restaurant, Mooo, is a traditional American steakhouse serving a variety of entrees. Mooo also is open for breakfast, lunch, and Sunday brunch. For private events Mooo has a dining area known as The Wine Cellar. This room is perfect for private parties or events, as guests will be in awe of the collection of wines from around the world. From its location to its upscale accommodations, XV Beacon is one of Boston’s best.


San Francisco
Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square

Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square is located along San Francisco’s famous waterfront. Its location is ideal when getting ready to explore the city.  The quality of service provided to their guests from the Fairmont Heritage Place makes this hotel stand out from all the rest in the region. From making dinner reservations to booking tickets for the many events that San Francisco has to offer, the staff will ensure your stay will be carefree and memorable. Fairmont-Heritage-Place-Ghirardelli-Square-condmominium-sales-management-in-San-Francisco
Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square’s accommodations in San Francisco include one to three bedroom rooms that are spacious and cleanly decorated. A full kitchen, fireplace, large TV and a dining area are all part of each room at the Fairmont Heritage Place. After a day of seeing the Bay Area, this hotel welcomes its guests home to relax with open arms.
The dining choices around the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square are numerous (and growing). From fabulous seafood to classic southern cuisine, the restaurants in the area are some of the best around. Whether it’s a visit to McCormick and Kuleto’s, The Pub at Ghirardelli Square, or the original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop the experience is bound to please.


Houston
St. Regis Hotel

The spectacular St. Regis Houston is located in the center of the exciting city of Houston. Just minutes from the Galleria Houston, the home for luxury shopping and entertainment, the St. Regis Houston is the perfect hotel for visitors looking to explore all this city has to offer.
Long known for their top-notch service, The St. Regis Houston is a breath of true southern hospitality. From booking tickets to stregisHoustonlocal events to making dinner reservations, the staff at the St. Regis Houston make it their duty to have your stay be memorable.
Whether staying in the Superior room, featuring a king or two double beds, or choosing the Junior suite with its bedroom and separate living area, each room at the St. Regis Houston is large and well-decorated. For those looking to stay longer or with a larger group, perhaps booking the Royal or Presidential suite would be in order. These two accommodations are the hotel’s finest rooms which feature multiple bedrooms and separated living and dining areas.
The Remington Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week within the St. Regis Houston. Its menu is known throughout the Houston area for serving up the finest in American cuisine. The Tea Room offers afternoon tea on Fridays through Sundays, while the St. Regis Houston’s Wine Room is available to reserve for a unique private dining experience.

Savannah
Hyatt Regency Savannah

Location, location, location. That’s one of the many reasons to stay at the Hyatt Regency when visiting the historic city of Savannah, Georgia. Located on Bay Street the Hyatt Regency Savannah offers easy access to the city’s famous historic district. A tour through the city to explore the amazing homes and squares, or shopping and eating at some of the best establishments in the country are all within minutes of the Hyatt Regency Savannah. Guests can even take a ride on a riverboat or hop on the trolley for a history-filled tour of this magnificent city.HyattRegencySavannah
The Hyatt Regency Savannah has many rooms with views of the Savannah River and the famous River Street. The guest rooms are the type of place where visitors can choose to unwind or decide to get a little work done before hitting the town. One of the well-known perks of staying at any Hyatt Regency is the amazing comfort of the Hyatt Grand Bed. These beds are so comfortable guests may have to ‘make’ themselves get up to start their day…… (or not).
For breakfast or lunch the Hyatt Regency Savannah’s Windows restaurant is a fantastic choice, with incredible views of the Savannah River. The Vu Lounge is also located onsite. From cocktails to a light menu, the Vu is a great place to hang out or meet up with friends and family. And Perks is a little café located within the grand lobby of the Hyatt Regency Savannah, serving Starbucks coffee, along with a variety of salads, sandwiches and pastries.


Las Vegas
The Bellagio

Over the past decade Las Vegas has become more family-friendly than ever before. With activities, shopping, and entertainment for all ages, there’s no better time than now to visit “Vegas, Baby!” The Bellagio offers rooms ranging from Resort Rooms featuring queen size beds with city views to ten different types of suites with incredible views and all the accommodations you expect from Vegas.
BellagioFrom world-class entertainment, like “O” Cirque du Soleil, to a casino that is considered by many as the best in the world, The Bellagio has it all. With their state-of-the-art fitness center to their all-encompassing spa, this Vegas hotel will having you feeling your best when it’s time to take on the town.
Five-diamond awarded restaurants are a big part of The Bellagio. From a casual lunch or poolside snack to one of the finest dining experiences in the world, the dozens of onsite restaurants at The Bellagio are sure to amaze even the most hardcore foodie. And when it comes to shopping, the experience is perhaps none better than within The Bellagio, with shops like Fendi, Omega, and Tiffany & Co.

So as you plan for your next vacation and destinations are solidified, these are some “best bet” hotels that will make your getaway memorable for years to come.

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Ultimate Rest & Relaxation Getaways

asiseeit_fayette_headshotMany of the vacations we take every year involve family-packed amusement parks, day-long sight-seeing tours, and shopping galore. Of course then there’s golf, skiing, and other outdoor activities that we choose to take up hours of our day. And while these are quite often the most popular types of getaways and activities, we often find ourselves looking forward to returning home for some rest and relaxation from our vacation. After all, the all-inclusive island resorts’ watersports and endless Tiki bar or the all-you-can-eat cruise ship buffet can be down right exhausting. Sometimes all we really need is to get away from it all, and I mean “all”. You know, the way we romanticized about how early writers and artists nestled themselves in the middle of nowhere to conjure up their creative inner genius. So for 2015, here are four of my ultimate rest and relaxation getaway spots in the U.S. to assist you in recharging your mind and soothing your soul.


THE LODGE AT GLENDORN

Bradford, PA

A stay at this “paradise in the woods” will have you instantly questioning why you haven’t done this before, and planning on when you’re visiting again. Located in north-central Pennsylvania, The GlendornLobbyLodge at Glendorn is within hours of Pittsburgh to the south, Buffalo, NY to the north, Ohio to the west, and the NYC and Philly region to the east. Founded by the oil-rich Dorn family in the late 1920s, this 1500 acre retreat is where the family spent many vacations for generations. In 2009 Cliff Forrest and his family made Glendorn their own, and opened it as one of the premiere retreat resorts in America.
The accommodations at Glendorn are unique, with each of its various rooms and cabins whispering stories of bygone days. The origiGlendornMillerCabinnal home of the Dorn family is known as the Big House today, and houses several suites and rooms as well as the main dining room and recreation room. For more privacy and seclusion the cabins that are scattered throughout the woodland-filled acreage may be just what the doctor ordered. All cabin accommodations include outdoor fire pits for their guests to enjoy while taking in the evening constellations. My stay at the Miller Cabin was pure rustic elegance. Situated just over a rushing brook from the Big House, Miller Cabin possesses two living areas, two full baths, a full kitchen (with a bottomless chocolate chip cookie jar), a screened in porch, as well as two gas-assisted fireplaces. With full maid service twice a day, including turn-down service, the treatment guests receive at Glendorn rivals that of royalty.
GlendornOutdoorDinnersDining at Glendorn is a true culinary delight. Each meal is an experience and every bite of food becomes a fond memory. With a grand piano playing on weekend evenings in the main dining room one can easily harken back to the days when this estate was filled with family laughter and joy. Guests are even invited to make a reservation with the executive chef for a personal cooking class. My lesson in preparing a monk fish with polenta entrée was amazing!
The Lodge at Glendorn spans over 1500 acres, through valleys and streams to the winding trails that lead to the tops of some of the Allegheny Mountains. The resort’s Bondieu Lake plays host to summer barbecues, peaceful paddle boats and fishing lessons. Mountain biking, hiking, and even a Jeep tour of the entire grounds are available during your stay. Skeet & trap shooting along with top-notch fly fishing can also be planned during a stay at the Glendorn.GlendornJeep
For those that feel more like pampering themselves, The Forest Spa is a full service spa ranging from Swedish massages to pedicures. From the moment you enter, the sounds and aromas calm your mind and body.
If you find time to pull yourself away from the fireplace and put down that favorite book, make your way into Bradford, PA. This quaint town has some unique shops and restaurants, but even more importantly is home to the famous Zippo Lighter Museum and Factory. Hmm, who knew?

THE HYATT PINON POINTE
Sedona, AZ
The lavish Pinon Pointe resort by Hyatt is known as one of the luxury jewels of Sedona. From the gorgeous red-rock landscape to out of this world sunrises and sunsets, Pinon Pointe is the ideal location for unwindingPinonPointeTerrace one’s mind, body, and soul. Nestled in Red Rock Country, this resort by Hyatt is also just steps away from year-round outdoor adventures, upscale shopping, exquisite dining, and incredible art galleries.PinonPointeTerrace
With over one hundred 2-bedroom/2-bath and 1-bedroom/1-bath units, Pinon Pointe is nothing less than what one would expect from the Hyatt brand. Many of the rooms feature private balconies with breathtaking vista views, while all rooms provide guests with the feeling of getting away from it all, while possessing all the conveniences of home.
The heated outdoor pool and two outdoor spas invite hours of R&R, while the on site tennis courts and fitness center are available for those that need to break a little sweat.
When you have relaPinonPointeFirepitxed to your fullest, explore the dozens of canyons and red-rock trails in the comfortable desert climate. Whether hiking or biking, the unique desert environment invites you to break away from the norm and experience once-in-a-lifetime sights and sounds of the American southwest.
Revitalizing the spirit is what Pinon Pointe is all about, as Sedona’s reputation as the center of healing, creativity and spirituality fills the air. Pinon Pointe has extraordinary dining to match its spectacular views and surroundings. From the fresh menu selections at Bistro Bella Terra to one of the community’s cafes and restaurants located in the Shops of Pinon Pointe, foodies can delight in the variety. The Shops at Pinon Pointe are located next door to the resort, and offer a variety of shopping experiences when guests need their foodie fix or some light shopping rehab.

THE OCEAN EDGE RESORT
Cape Cod, MA
With nearly one hundreOceanEdgeResortd newly renovated elegant rooms, guests of the Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster, Massachusetts will feel as if they’ve been transported back to a simpler time of the 19th century. The Mansion-side of Ocean Edge has been awarded AAA’s Four-Diamond rating for its luxurious accommodations, dining, and location. Only a short walk from most rooms, guests are treated to a private beach, outdoor and indoor pools, tennis courts, and a fitness center with a spa.
On the grounds of the Ocean Edge Resort are two unique restaurants. Bayzo’s Pub is a quiet gathering spot offering a wide variety of pub favorites like fried cod tacos, burgers and pizza. This English style tavern has live music on summer weekends, and sports screens throughout. The Ocean TerraceOceanEdgeVillas features an inviting bar and dining area located next to the historic Nickerson Mansion, preserved to resemble the 1900s period.
Guests to the Ocean Edge Resort are able to enjoy access to their private beach, complete with beachside service. Bonfires on the beach during the warmer months are a perfect way to round off a stay at one of the northeast’s premiere resorts.
Rooms at the Ocean Edge Resort range from the Presidential Bay Collection, two- and three-bedroom villas, to the Grand Corner Suites, all with the relaxing feel of a traditional seaside cottage.
Just moments from the quaint towns found on the mid-Cape, visitors can take a short drive to Provincetown and the nearby Cape Cod National Seashore. In the other direction guests can travel to Falmouth to take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket for the day. With its central location, Ocean Edge is the virtual hub of all there is to do on Cape Cod. And if you choose to do nothing at all, perhaps simply resting your toes in the tidal waters of Cape Cod Sound is all you need for the day at the Ocean Edge Resort.

 
THE HEIDEL HOUSE RESORT & SPA
Green Lake, WI
Along the shoreliHeidelHouseGroundsne of Green Lake, in Wisconsin, sits the Heidel House Resort & Spa. This year-round midwest resort destination has become one of the favorite return spots for guests and their families year after year. The Heidel House is a breathtaking full service resort, with incredible lakefront views of pristine Green Lake and countless forest trees that provide the perfect backdrop for a much-needed getaway. Since New Year’s Eve 1945, guests have returned to the Heidel House to enjoy top shelf dining, peaceful spa retreats, along with boating, hiking, and golf outings.
Located on twenty wooded acres along Wisconsin’s deepest inland lake, the Heidel House offers numerous amenities including nearly two hundred guestHeidelHouseLobby rooms, plenty of meeting space for conferences or corporate gatherings, soothing spa services at the Evensong Spa, and elegant dining at the famous Grey Rock Restaurant. The Boathouse Pub and Sunroom Lakeside Restaurant are also on-site restaurants that serve mouth-watering breakfasts, lunches, and even late night favorites.
The Heidel House is a short drive from Madison and Milwaukee, and offers a wide variety of accommodations. From first-class rooms and suites to more of a casual stay in their vacation rentals, this one of a kind getaway offers old world charm for every type of guest.
Selected as the 2014 Best Honeymoon location in Wisconsin by Wisconsin Bride magazine, Heidel House is always a popular destination for wedding parties as well as honeymooners.
HeidelHouseSpaFor those looking to venture out into the community, hot air balloon rides, Clydesdale horse rides, wine tasting and of course cheese tasting are all within minutes of the Heidel House Resort & Spa.
So as you fill your calendar for this coming year, why not take a break from the ordinary and make your next vacation extraordinary at one of these remarkable retreat resorts. Whether planning for winter, spring, summer, or fall, these incredible locations are sure to tantalize your taste buds, invigorate your spirit, and renew your sense of being.

8 Great “Destination Wedding” Venues in the US

asiseeit_fayette_headshotMany couples tying the knot these days are not only looking for different kinds of ceremonies and receptions, but unique and memorable locations as well. More and more weddings are veering away from the traditional ceremony and reception, and instead heading toward what is known as the “Destination Wedding”. Typically these types of weddings result in smaller numbers of people attending, but allow for couples’ friends and families to experience an unbelievable day to remember.

Here are some of the most popular “Destination Wedding” ideas happening around the U.S.:

Central Park- NY, NY

The Wedding of Evan and CherylNew York City is arguably the most iconic city in America, so why not select a weekend afternoon in the ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ to exchange wedding vows? Though the venues in NYC are seemingly endless, perhaps Central Park is the most ideal location for a wedding. Nestled between the busy city avenues and skyscrapers, sits the tranquil beauty of this green-filled park. With nearly a dozen locations available throughout the park, the Conservatory Garden, the Pond, and the Boathouse are three annual favorites for weddings. It should also be noted that the famous Tavern on the Green is currently under renovation and inquiries about its expected time of re-opening should be checked on a regular basis. It’s important to know that there are fees, applications, and certain restrictions that go along with having a wedding in Central Park; for example No alcohol, amplified music, or tents are permitted in the park. For more information and to download an application visit the NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation’s website at www.nycgovparks.org/.

Mall of America- Minneapolis, Minnesota

moaGetting married in a mall? Yes, believe it or not, America’s largest mall plays host to hundreds of weddings a year, having had more than 5,000 performed since its opening. With over 4-million square feet of building area, 520+ stores, and a twenty-five ride and attraction amusement park built inside, it’s no wonder that more than 40-million people visit the MOA every year. But a wedding, really? The fact is the Mall of America has several venues to accommodate just about any style and budget. The MOA even has… (Move over Elvis…) The Chapel of Love! Catering to those who can’t get enough of ‘retail America’, the chapel has photographers, hairstyling, dresses and tuxes, and more all at your disposal. And they of course take all major credit cards. Find out how to book your nuptials by visiting www.MallOfAmerica.com .

Grand Canyon

grandcanyonFor a more rustic approach to tying the knot many couples are venturing to one of the country’s great natural wonders, the Grand Canyon. Some of the more popular ways to celebrate the big day in that area is to be helicoptered in and dropped off onto the peak of a mesa, or ride the historic Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona that winds through the magnificent canyon with all its colors and beauty. The helicopter rides range in price as well as duration. Bridal parties can view the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas from high above, as well as take in remarkable sunsets as they come and go from the majestic Grand Canyon. Staying more down to earth, the Grand Canyon Railway excursions offer a slower pace, yet still a memorable wedding day. Bridal parties can reserve their own 1923 rail car or mingle in with other passengers. Full-service wedding packages are available and an outdoor wedding permit is required by the National Park Service by calling (928) 638-7841.

Monterey and Carmel, California

MontereyDotted along the Pacific coast sits some absolutely incredible venues for a one-of-a-kind wedding. Carmel and Monterey, California offer breathtaking backdrops for a bride and groom’s magical day. From Monterey’s rocky cliffs to Carmel’s soft sandy beaches, this region gives couples a variety of spectacular venues to choose from. From Stewart’s Cove to Carmel Beach, and Cypress Point at Pebble Beach to the Monterey Stone Chapel in the Redwoods, this area of the Pacific Coast region is home to hundreds of “I Do’s” each year. Booking reservations at a specific area requires timely planning and flexibility of venues and dates, so couples are encouraged to make their plans as soon as possible. www.MontereyWeddings.com is a great place to view all that is offered for weddings in the region.

Rocky Mountains- Colorado region

rockiesIt’s widely known that for skiing enthusiasts there perhaps is no better place to be from mid-autumn to late-spring than the ski trails of Colorado. So it only seems natural that for those who happen to be planning a wedding and enjoy fresh Rocky Mountain powder Colorado is a perfect destination for them. Of course the summer months in the Rockies are also ideal for a memorable wedding. Perhaps the most popular location in the region is Aspen. With an array of hotels, restaurants and activities, Aspen is built for special events. Other Rocky Mountain venues that are perfect for weddings are Golden, Denver, Breckenridge, and Vail, Colorado. Whether winter, spring, summer, or fall, the Rockies offer fun, adventure, and endless memories for brides, grooms, and their families and friends. Finding a location and time of year to suit the soon-to-be-newlyweds in the Rocky Mountain region will take some research and maybe even a couple “fieldtrips”. A great online resource to get your magical day planned is appropriately titled www.RockyMountainBride.com .

Atlantis- Paradise Island, Bahamas

atlantisLike Muhammad Ali knew boxing, the Beatles knew rock n’ roll, and Michael Jordan knows sneakers; with fifteen locations situated around Paradise Island, Atlantis knows weddings. Whether it’s a sunrise or sunset ceremony, a flower-filled or sandy beach backdrop, or a reception for twelve or five hundred, Atlantis at Paradise Island has it covered. From barefoot casual to over-the-top elegant the possibilities are endless for one’s storybook wedding. With the serenity of the Caribbean rippling in the background couples can exchange vows at the secluded Cove Beach. For those looking for a little more ‘wow-factor’ in their ceremony and reception a reservation at Ripples may be just the ticket. Surrounded by a Mayan-style décor and breathtaking water features, a wedding at Ripples will have guests talking about it for years to come. A complete guide to weddings on Paradise Island can be found at www.Atlantis.com . Here visitors will be reminded of what to ask and what to expect when planning a destination wedding in the Bahamas. And remember, U.S. citizens are required to have a passport in order to return to the U.S. (which when you think of it, may be a great place to get stuck for awhile).

Epcot- Disney World, Florida

epcotFor generations Disney World in Central Florida has been thought as a childhood destination. But today the land of Mickey is playing host to nearly two-thousand Cinderella-like weddings each year. Though Disney offers dozens of places to hold a ceremony and reception, I think the most unique venues can be found at a place that may not come to mind right of the bat– the Epcot amusement park. Epcot’s World Showcase takes visitors on a trip around the world, with an incredible attention to detail paid to each country’s highlights. It is here that a bride and groom can choose to be married alongside an English countryside, next to a cascading Canadian waterfall, or with a replica of Rome’s Trevi fountain set as their backdrop. From flowers to cakes, and ceremony to fireworks-filled reception, the wedding planners at Epcot will be there to assist the happy couple every step of the way. Wedding venues at Epcot’s World Showcase can be found within the countries of Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, China, Germany, Japan, and Morocco. To start making plans for your Epcot destination wedding visit www.disneyweddings.com .

Fenway Park- Boston, Massachusetts

kimberly + blake | fenway park wedding | boston, massThere are sports fans across the country that would go to the ends of the earth for their favorite team or player. Perhaps there is no place in America where this is truer than in the city of Boston, where fans do just about anything for their beloved baseball Redsox. Having been crowned World Series champions three-times over the past decade, there is no hotter ticket in sports today than that with the Boston Redsox logo attached to it. With all of that in mind, many fanatic couples try to make the Redsox part of their wedding day in any way possible. Whether they decorate their reception hall with red and blue flowers, or have their bridal party decked out in home and away uniforms, some fans just want their favorite team part of their big day. On the other hand, more and more couples are taking their fanaticism to a whole new level; “upper deck level” that is.  The Boston Redsox, like many other sports franchises across the country, are now catering to their over-the-top fans by opening sections of the stadium for wedding ceremonies and receptions before, during, and after the game. Fenway Park’s history and charm can now be captured on sunny afternoon or starlit night during a Redsox home-stand or even while the stadium is vacant. Brides can say their vows from the famed Green Monster, or overlooking homeplate from the EMC Club, which seats up to 300 guests. So warm up your vocal chords for a rousing rendition of “Sweet Caroline” and contact the management of Fenway Park at www.Redsox.com  to book your upcoming wedding.

So from a ballpark to a mall, or an island to a mountain top, the U.S. has some amazing venues for those couples looking to create a once-in-a-lifetime wedding memory. Where will your dream wedding be?

Family Getaway: Key West

asiseeit_fayette_headshotFor decades Key West, Florida has been seen as the ultimate adult getaway. From Bike week, the Hemingway Festival, and FantasyFest, Key West has created an aura of over-indulgence and the lowering of one’s inhibitions. And while to many that may truly be the case, my annual visits over the past ten years have found a let’s say, ‘Kinder and gentler Key West’. I have traveled there with my wife many times as a couples’ retreat, but we’ve also included the entire family as well on occasion. From seemingly limitless eating choices to non-stop water fun, the Conch Republic is a fabulous place to plan your next family getaway.

My home away from home is always the Hyatt Sunset Harbor located on the Gulf end of Duval Street. This resort is located just next to Mallory Square and its boardwalk. EveningsIMG_4003 produce breathtaking sunsets, while mornings awake to cruse ships making Key West their next port of call. The rooms at Sunset Harbor range from studios to 2-bedroom suites. All accommodations are spacious, and always up to Hyatt expectations. Their pool and hot tub are the centerpiece of many daily poolside activities.

If a resort setting isn’t your family’s style, Key West is packed with Bed & Breakfast inns, as well as VRBOs (vacation rentals by owner). Depending on your budget, your stay can be in an entire house or the sharing of one with another couple or family. Many of these rentals will even allow for the family pet to come along as well, but always make sure you check that out with management, and get it in writing, prior to arrival.

For those that have always dreamed of living on the water, there are many motor yachts and houseboats that are able to be rented out by the week or month. Some come with a complete crew, while others allow you and your family to sail solo.

IMG_4059When it comes to the ultimate in getting away from it all, there is no better place to stay in Key West than on a private island known as Sunset Key. Approximately three-quarters of the island located just to the west of Mallory Square consists of private homes, but the remaining quarter of the island has 1-bedroom to 3-bedroom cottages, along with pool facilities and a private beach. My annual visit to the island’s exceptional restaurant, Latitudes, lets me enjoy the surroundings if only for a couple hours, and keeps me dreaming for yet another year.

Getting around Key West is extremely easy. No car necessary! While my family usually walks from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean (about 14 blocks on Duval), bicycle and motor cart rentals are also available on a daily to weekly basis. Taxis are readily available, as well as pedicabs too. My taxi driver (I like to say that…) is saved in my contacts for a quick call when I arrive at the airport, and when my vacation is over. When staying in the historic section of the island known as Old Key West that’s about the only time I ever need a cab. While Key West is very pedestrian-friendly and speed limit concerns are rarely an issue, its always important to still be alert so your stay isn’t cut short by an incident.

Water fun on Key West can be non-stop. From ocean fishing to sunset dinner cruises, and jet skiing to snorkeling, the activities on the water are so numerous that you may not have a enough time toIMG_4031 take them all in on one stay. While I have enjoyed several excursions with the Fury and Sebago companies, my most enjoyable have been with Danger Charters. While the larger companies have you aboard with 40-50 others, the Danger Charters schooner only holds about twenty. My most recent adventure with ‘Danger’ started around 9:30 in the morning. Sailing out about five miles to the Strait of Florida we were able to snorkel for about 90 minutes on one of the world’s greatest reefs. One of the three crew on board Danger Charters actually became our snorkeling guide as she showed us the places to view amazing fish and underwater creatures. Following a fresh fruit and water break, two of the crew split the group and took us on a fabulous kayak journey around the Key West National Nature Preserve. This uninhabited island plays home to incredible wildlife as well as unique trees and plants. On our return the sails went up on the multi-mast schooner for a fun 60-minute sail.

Booking for either half-day or full-day excursions is as easy as going online and selecting the package that is right for your family. Whether it’s parasailing over the Gulf or jet skiing around this 2 by 4-mile island of Key West, a day on the water is sure to create a lifetime of memories. And when the busy day is coming to an end there is no better way to take in the famous Key West sunsets than by enjoying them aboard dinner and/or sunset cruises. Many companies have varied packages with one to surely fit every family’s needs.

IMG_4017If you’d rather enjoy a meal on dry land Key West is certainly not lacking for fantastic food choices. Many of the island’s restaurants have been featured in worldwide publications and on national food and travel television networks. Starting off in the morning a trip to a couple of Key West’s best breakfast stops is bound to get your family’s day rolling in the right direction. For me it comes down to three ‘can’t miss’ places. Two Friends Patio is open all day long, but their homestyle breakfasts are always a good start to the day. LeCreperie is an amazing new restaurant on my ‘foodie radar’. Located just off Duval St., their savory crepe stuffed with scrambled eggs, various cheeses, and bacon is enough to make you wish breakfast time would never end. Perhaps my favorite breakfast stop is Pepe’s, located down by the marina. While they serve what may be considered a typically good breakfast, be sure to order their ‘toast of the day’; and pray to God that it is Coconut Toast. One bite of this beautiful piece of toasted homemade bread, and you may never look at toast the same way ever again.

The lunch choices on Key West can range from a one-of-a-kind burger experience at Garbo’s Grill to a mouth-watering lobster roll from DJs Clam Shack. I also recently stumbled across a great little Italian food and pizzeria restaurant called Onlywood. Located down a narrow lane off of Duval sits this little slice of Italy. With tables for eating inside or out, this place fires up some of the most outstanding pizza I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. With its wood oven approaching a mind-boggling 1,000-degrees, the custom made pizza pies are ready in mere moments after ordering. Blue Heaven, Sunset Pier, and Sloppy Joe’s are also fun places to take the entire family for lunch. With great live entertainment daily and unique surroundings, all three locations serve great-tasting lunches with flair.

For evening dinners, one of the largest menus in Key West can be found at Fogarty’s on Duval. With open-air seating, this restaurant serves up great tasting juicy burgers to high-quality steaks, andIMG_4076 savory salmon to delicious desserts. Located adjacent to the restaurant is the Flying Monkey Saloon, serving delicious frozen drinks for moms and dads, as well as for the “under-agers” too. Fine dining reaches its pinnacle at The Hot Tin Roof, located at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa. Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, this premiere location is only outdone by its exquisite menu. Starting with an appetizer of tuna tartare and a tomato burrata salad, followed by an entree of scallop risotto or Latin braised short ribs, executive chef Jason Westphal promises a dining experience to remember. For dining in a less formal setting, a family can enjoy a great dinner at the Conch Republic Restaurant by the marina or Pinchers Crab Shack located along Duval St. Both serve a wide menu that is sure to please adults and kids.

History abounds in Key West. A stroll through the Truman Annex will lead you to the Little White House where President Harry S. Truman spent much of his time when not in Washington DC. Various art galleries and antique shops line the streets of Old Key West. One of the highlights of the history of Key West is the Mel Fisher treasure museum, where visitors can view Fisher’s motherload from the Atocha shipwreck. This, as well as the Key West Aquarium, Fort Zachary, and the Shipwreck IMG_4082Museum can provide hours of learning and fun while on vacation. Imagine that?!

Hitting the beaches while in Key West is highly recommended. Smathers Beach along the Atlantic Ocean and Fort Zachary State Park are two of the best. While Smathers is free, Ft. Zachary is a little less crowded because of the nominal fee. At Ft. Zachary State Park beach goers will enjoy a sense of complete solitude, while those choosing Smathers Beach will have a large selection of water sports and rentals to choose from.

So when you hear someone mention Key West in the future don’t be fooled by what you’ve heard about the crazy Spring Breakers or FantasyFest crazies. Check the KeyWest.com website Events Calendar, and you may find your vacation will coincide with their annual Food Festival or Key Lime Pie Week. As I’ve so often said, Key West is Paradise Found, for couples and families alike.

Welcome to Miami Beach

asiseeit_fayette_headshotFrom Aventura to Key Biscayne the winter months in Miami Beach area are covered in white…..from the miles of sun-soaked beaches that is. Though snow doesn’t fall in South Florida, there is fun for all ages. Sunny Isles, Bal Harbour, Miami Beach, and South Beach all sit along the Atlantic Ocean inviting visitors to their pristine beaches and 75-degree waters. Just across Biscayne Bay Downtown Miami, Coconut Grove, and Littlewelcom-miami-beach Havana are bustling with various weekend that meld cultures into one. So for a change of pace from falling snow and temperatures in the forties, consider Miami for an upcoming winter getaway.

Tours around the Miami area are as diverse as the culture itself. Whether strolling through the Art Deco District of South Beach, sobeenjoying the beauty of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, or experiencing the tastes of region with the Miami Culinary Tour, this slice of paradise is sure to have you quickly forgetting about the snow and cold back home. Along Ocean Drive is the historic Art Deco District of SoBe (South Beach). The architecture is timeless, the names iconic, and the history behind each building is fascinating. From The Clevelander to The Carlyle the beauty of the area screams SoBe! Just a few blocks from the Atlantic sits a quiet and serene setting known as the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Open during the daytime hours, this 2 ½ acre area of greenspace offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Built in the 1960s and refurbished in 2011, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden is home to many native miacultourplants and flowers such as the palms, cycads, and orchids and many others. Whether you’re in Miami for the first time or making a return visit, a ‘must do’ is booking an afternoon or evening with the Miami Culinary Tour. On a recent visit to Miami Beach my daughter, Morgan, and I were given a walking tour through the streets of South Beach with more than a half-dozen stops at some of the area’s finest restaurants. Mirka was our energetic and informative guide for the Miami Culinary Tour, and shared with us the history, culture, and even gossip of SoBe. Our 3-hour tour (nod to Gilligan) included tasty samples of authentic empanadas, ceviche, churros, and gelato. All of these locations aim to help make your stay that more memorable.

While northerners may be skiing the slopes or sliding down Grandpa’s hill during the winter, those guests to Miami can kayak the waters of Oleta River State Park or soak in the sun on the miles kayakof beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Nestled in North Miami is the Oleta River State Park. From the moment you arrive it’s hard to remember that you are in the middle of one of the busiest cities in America. The Oleta River State Park offers kayak and canoe rentals through the mango trees and even mountain bike rentals through several trails of various skill levels. Imagine kayaking on Biscayne Bay instead of fighting snowplows? After an enjoyable day at the park maybe grabbing a few hours of the fading winter sun on the sands of Miami Beach is just what the doctor ordered. From Sunny Isles to South Beach, and then Key Biscayne and Coral Gables, the Miami region has miles of beautiful sand beaches.

artdecoMiami is packed with fantastic stores and boutiques. From the Aventura Mall located in the northern part of Miami to the open air market-like experience of Lincoln Road, guests and locals always find unique shopping and a variety of restaurants to enjoy throughout the Miami region.

miabchEntertainment is nearly non-stop in Miami. From the hundreds of clubs and pubs to world class entertainment, there is always something going on in and around South Florida. The NBA’s Miami Heat and NHL’s Florida Panthers will all be hosting home games during the winter months and into the playoff drive of the spring.

So think about putting the parka away and start digging out that beachesswimsuit from the back of the closet, Miami Beach awaits you with warm temperatures, sunny skies, and friendly locals to help you forget about the winter season.

Summertime Fun in New York State

asiseeit_fayette_headshotThroughout the northeast, Summer is always welcomed with open arms, ready-to-spend wallets, and a desire to wear bathing suits whenever and wherever possible. With its four distinct seasons, from Memorial Day to Labor Day those in the New York State area attempt to squeeze every available sun-shining moment into their schedules.

So without further delay (because I think the sun is coming out to stay), here are some ideas I’d like to share with you for your summertime fun in and around New York State.

In Syracuse, Saturday mornings are reserved for hundreds to pay a visit to the Regional Market. Now this is open nearly all year round, but it’s a nice way to spend a summer Saturday morning as you stroll through locallySYR Regional Market grown fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The Regional Market is open until 1pm on Saturdays. My wife and I usually start our Saturday out that way a couple of times during the summer. From there we head a few miles to the south, to the Armory Square district. This section of Syracuse boasts several restaurants, quaint pubs, along with specialty stores and boutiques. You can typically catch us enjoying lunch and a pint at The Blue Tusk. One of the largest attractions found in Syracuse when it’s not SU Orange basketball season is a trip to Destiny USA. Filled with hundreds of well-known stores, restaurants, and attractions, Destiny USA has something for everyone. Besides hours of shopping, this mega mall has indoor simulated golf, go-cart racing, comedy clubs, and museums. Popular eateries at Destiny USA include the Cheesecake Factory, Cantina Laredo, PF Changs, and Gordon Biersch.

Oswego Harborfest fireworks by GrucciDuring the last weekend in July the City of Oswego shows off its Lake Ontario lakefront beauty with its Harborfest celebration. From Thursday to  Sunday the city is transformed into a carnival atmosphere, mixed with great food, second-to-none free concerts, and traditionally Chamber of Commerce weather. Whether you want to taste regional wines, buy locally created crafts, take in a concert from top name acts, or just appreciate how lucky Oswegonians are to live alongside Lake Ontario, Harborfest weekend is a date you don’t want to miss.

Speaking of wine tasting, Central New Yorkers are blessed to have some of the world’s finest wines within a short drive. I enjoy taking a day, or sometimes even a weekend, to skip from winery to winery between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. Part of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, these wineries have fun employees, great tasting wines, and many now have overnight accommodations and restaurants. I prefer FingerLakes mapstaying at The Inn at Glenora at the south end of Route 14 or Belhurst Castle, located at the north end of Route 14 in Geneva. Some of my favorite lunch and dinner locations are Fox Run Farms Winery (found on the west side of Seneca Lake), Stonecutters (located in Belhurst Castle), and Sheldrake Point (along the west side of Cayuga Lake). As far as wine tasting goes, I have my favorites, but wine tasting is like that of music or food taste- it varies with each individual. That being said if you haven’t experienced the Finger Lakes Wine Trail some must-see stops are Swedish Hill, Hazlitt’s, Bagley’s Poplar Ridge, Three Brothers, and Fox Run Farms. You can find great interactive maps and descriptions by Googling ‘Seneca Lake Wineries’ or ‘Cayuga Lake Wineries’.

More family-oriented travels may see you spending the day at Rochester’s SeaBreeze Amusement Park, along Lake Ontario or the Darien Lake Amusement Park, located midway between Rochester and Buffalo just off the Thruway. Located in Sterling, NY (near Fair Haven Beach State Park) is the Renaissance Faire. Open for the months of July and August, the RenFaire takes visitors back to the Middle Ages with jesters, joustings, and the beloved fried turkey legs.

Niagara_FallsIf you have a weekend or a few days to spare, expand your travels to Niagara Falls. Whether you stay on the U.S. side or venture to the Canadian side, one of the great wonders of the world never disappoints. (Remember- a passport in now needed when traveling to Canada.) Besides that big waterfall that everyone goes gaga over, both countries boast casinos and plenty of entertainment. On the Canadian side they have the famous Clifton Hill, otherwise known as the ‘Hill of Fun’, with restaurants, attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, and the Hershey Chocolate store. Of course don’t forget an unforgettable ride on The Maid of the Mist, as you get closer to the falls than you ever thought imaginable. Also over the border sits the City of Kingston, Ontario is a great weekend getaway! This quaint Canadian city offers tons of food and shopping along its famous Princess Street and Ontario Street.

Heading into the northern part New York, one fun stop can include Lake Placid, with a trip to the summit of Whiteface Mountain mixed in with a casual walk down their wonderful Main Street along Mirror Lake. Bobsledding in the summer is possible at the Olympic training center located just outside Lake Placid.

Back in NYState are the Lake Ontario towns of Alexandria Bay, Clayton, and Sacketts Harbor. All are perfect for that much needed day-trip. Whether traveling by boat or car, these lakeside towns offer breathtaking views, fun shopping, and aBoldt Castle in 1000 Islands variety of restaurants and taverns.

If you feel like traveling a little to the southern part of the state, a great day trip or weekend getaway can be found in Cooperstown. Known of course for its Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown also is home to the Farmer’s Museum, Fenimore Cooper art museum, and the Leatherstocking golf course alongside the historic Otesaga Resort.

saratoga starting gateIf horse racing is more your guilty pleasure, check out Saratoga. During the summer months Saratoga comes alive with thoroughbred horse racing and an atmosphere of yesteryear. Saratoga is also home of SPAC (the Saratoga Performing Arts Center), which brings in top name talent in the music industry for great concerts in a perfect setting.

Of course NY City is always a fun place to make memories. Whether strolling along along Broadway or taking in views at the top of the the Empire State Building, the Big Apple is loaded with great attractions, incredible shopping and one-of-a-kind food options.

So let the thousands flock to Mickey’s Florida home or jam the roundabouts of the Cape, a trip into New York State can have you criss-crossing the Empire State and never running out of fascinating things to. The state’s traditional tourism slogan isn’t one of the most popular and long lastings phrases anywhere for nothing. This summer experience all that NY State has to offer and find out for yourself why everyone is always singing, “I Love NY!”New York Times Square