Category Archives: Travel

A Romantic Weekend Getaway

by Trish Utter

For a minute I thought I was in . . . Paris! But I was at the Park Plaza Hotel in Winter Park, which is close to downtown Orlando. Built in 1922 this charming vintage, boutique hotel is nestled between unique stores and cafes. Step inside this little jewel box and you are transported to a bygone era. The quaint dark wood and Tiffany lit entrance is very reminiscent of Europe, and even has an adorable 1920’s style elevator. Upon arrival guests are handed a beautiful brass room key. A grand staircase guides you up to the 28 rooms that are on the first floor. And yes, that is it, just 28 rooms so the personal service you get is incredible. Every room is oversized and the beds have luxurious, crisp white linens. Everything is historically preserved. The bathrooms have the original fixtures and tile, so you could say you are staying in a working museum that is an amazing treasure, and makes for a memorable experience. The guest rooms that overlook Park Avenue lead out to a large wrap around balcony where a continental breakfast tray, with fresh flowers, is brought up to you each morning. This is included in the cost of your room. Sitting on the balcony, over-looking the trendy street below is a lot like being in New Orleans, with its iron laced railings and lush palms, and the energy of Park Avenue below. I sat there enjoying my fresh brewed coffee and hot croissants and listened to the distant train that stops in Winter Park. What a time capsule of a place this is, very romantic and absolutely charming.

The Excitement of…MIAMI!

by Trish Utter

The chill of winter is here, but it’s 78 degrees in Miami! Don’t you just love living in Florida? There are so many places we can drive to for a weekend. I booked Circa39, a boutique hotel in Miami, for a family trip with my son Colt, and Brooke my daughter. The drive was easy and parking was a breeze with their secured parking lot. I was greeted by the beautiful and bubbly staff.

Driving up to the quaint hotel, you can’t help but imagine that you are back in the 1930s. The architecture is stunning and makes you feel that you are on a movie set. The hotel was built in 1939, and completely updated in 2014. Circa39 is across the street from the wide, sandy beach and around the corner from the Fontainebleau Hotel.

Within a minute we had our room key and followed the terra-cotta path to a lush courtyard, called the WunderGarden, which is a secluded courtyard with comfortable little nooks to relax in. It’s quite a cozy little hideaway.

The corridor to our room was lined with white chiffon that blew in the tropical breeze. Ah, it was so relaxing. The room was spacious and very quiet. It was wonderful to have a large closet, and a fridge in our room was an extra plus. We couldn’t wait to hit the pool which is nestled on a comfortable sundeck with cabanas and loungers.

Movie Stars, Red Woods, Cable Cars…California

by Trish Utter

Trish & Brooke riding Cable Cars in San Francisco

The golden state of California is well worth a visit but to tell the truth, it was not high on my 20-year-old daughter’s list of places to go. I told Brooke that I felt visiting California was important for her worldly education. I wanted her to see things that she had seen on TV but in person. It is hard to get the scale of a California Redwood or the fresh smell of the forest from a website or TV. We started in Los Angeles, our first stay was at the Mondrian Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard which was a wonderful central location. If you ask for a room as high up as possible and facing away from the pool you will get spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills and downtown LA.

One of the first things I do when visiting a new city is take a tour. We did this with Starline Tours and opted for the Grand Tour. We were picked up from our hotel and taken to their main terminal where we boarded a luxury tour bus. Our guide narrated the 5.5-hour tour that took us to the Chinese Theatre where the Oscars are presented, and up into the Hollywood Hills to see the famous sign and the fabulous view overlooking LA. We drove down Melrose Avenue and saw loads of interesting restaurants and boutiques we wanted to visit. The bus stopped for lunch at the famous Farmers Market that opened in 1934 where you will find lots of high quality and creative food. One vendor was selling coffee in what looked like mini ice-cream cones!

A Weekend in Washington, D.C.

By Trish Utter

My daughter and our friend, Chery Regan, were in Washington D.C. for a weekend. A trip that included a visit to Congressman Ted Yoho and a drive through the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia, but it started with a most unusual tour of the city.

“Cherry Blossoms will appear in the Spring”, said our tour guide from DC Ducks. The amphibious vehicles that DC Duck use were built in 1942 to take troops to the beaches of Normandy. Today, these amphibious vehicles have been completely restored. Our trip, started, by taking us past the Embassy of Canada, a very modern looking building. Then, we went past all the museums, like the Smithsonian, Air and Space Museum, the Capital and the White House. The highlight of the tour was to drive down a ramp at a marina and into the Potomac. The views from the water of Washington D.C. are spectacular, and especially being at the very end of the Reagan National Airport runway, on the Potomac, when planes are taking off, you felt you could reach out and touch them.

33480, the Richest Zip Code in the US!

By Trish Utter

The doorman whisked the car away. We walked through a small, tropical courtyard and ushered to a desk in the lobby that was filled with roses. A glass of sherry was put in my hand along with a… key! Yes, the Chesterfield gives you a brass key. The glass of sherry made me laugh as it brought back memories of my Scottish aunt who always offered sherry to her guests upon their arrival… a good old British tradition for arriving guests.

My daughter and I had arrived at the Chesterfield Hotel Palm Beach, located in a residential neighborhood of multimillion-dollar estates and three blocks from the beach. It’s around the corner from the famous Worth Avenue. The property is part of the British-owned Red Carnation Hotel Collection and Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The hotel was built in 1926 and is part of the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation and a historic landmark.

Oil paintings from England are scattered throughout the property. A painting of Sir Winston Churchill hangs in the beautiful conference room and a photograph of Margaret Thatcher, who stayed here, is in the library. Guests have included Cyndi Lauper, Tommy Hilfiger, Mike Wallace and an endless list of others.

Along with vast displays of flowers are dishes of candy and freshly baked cookies, all for guests to nibble on…free of charge. We took the small elevator to the third floor, which is the top floor of this small, boutique property with just fifty-three exquisite rooms. Our room was filled with beautiful, white Florida-style furniture and plantation shutters filtered the afternoon sun onto patterned carpet. We both immediately got on the free Wi-Fi that was super easy to access, so that we could post our photos of this jewel box of a hotel. A real, red carnation was in our room which is a symbol of the hotel chain. As we unpacked, I noticed that there was a fridge with free bottles of water and lots and lots of room to hang clothes and put everything we had brought away. And believe me, two girls in a hotel room for a week bring a lot of stuff!

NOT Your Grandma’s Ferris Wheel!

Are you looking for something to do this weekend? We are constantly in search of unique places for our readers to visit. Our latest trips were down I-75 to Orlando to visit I-Drive 360 and a plane trip to the Washington, DC area to see National Harbor in Maryland. What both destinations have in common are massive Ferris wheels, entertainment, restaurants and stunning views.

I-Drive 360, Orlando FL

This entertainment area is located on International Drive, close to the convention area. It was named after the 360° view you will get from the Orlando Eye. You will find restaurants, shops, and entertainment and best of all, lots of free parking!

Coca Cola, Orlando Eye

The huge 400-foot, Ferris wheel opened in 2015 and is run by Merlin Entertainments, under its Midway attraction brands which also has the iconic London Eye. Although this in not as large as the London Eye, it is still impressive and gives you panoramic views of Orlando, theme parks and downtown. Each of the 30 capsules are air-conditioned and have seating. There are touch screens in the gondolas that tell you what you can see on your twenty minute tour. At night, the Eye lights up
with changing color displays commemorating national holidays, important world events, and charitable causes.

America’s Most Jaw Dropping Piece of Real Estate

The mountain air is fresh in Ashville, North Carolina. The huge, beautiful trees sweep across the 3-mile driveway. The winding narrow approach road gives visitors time to sit and relax, but wonder what is around the next corner, until you eventually get to a large iron gate, and then……….…the HOUSE!!!!!

If you ever wanted over the top drama and opulence and have a few hundred million to spend, then the Biltmore Estate is it. Some might say it looks like an English manor house, but you could put a manor house inside this gigantic mansion many times. It even makes Downton Abbey look like a dollhouse!

Weekend Road Trip to Clearwater and St. Petersburg

by Trish Utter

The great thing about living here is that on one tank of gas you can drive to so many great places. Here are a few of our top picks for your weekend getaway.