Puerto Vallarta Passion

I had always heard Puerto Vallarta was very beautiful and romantic, and it’s all true.  When I left for my trip, I had a lot on my mind, but as soon as I arrived at the newly opened Hilton resort, my thoughts began to melt away.  Ideally situated in the hotel zone just minutes from the international airport and the Malecon area, the architecture is gorgeous with a fresh, modern look. Just off the lobby are the restaurants and beautiful beach with incredibly warm water.  For our first night, we had dinner at one of the all-inclusive restaurants, Sea Fire, with a view of a gorgeous sun setting behind the horses on the beach.  The hotel features four ala carte restaurants, one with an international buffet open for all meals, a Mexican, Brazilian, and a French restaurant., and one that features martinis, tapas and a spectacular view of the bay. The gym that I had the best of intentions of using for more than ten minutes has up to date equipment and everything you could need in cardio and weight equipment.  The spa was so peaceful as soon as you stepped inside and their flotarium experience was one of a kind.  You lay in a tub of salt water which is five times heavier than that of the ocean water and you just float for 30 minutes, either with your eyes closed or looking up at what looks like stars in the ceiling.  At first, I didn’t know if I’d be able to do that for 30 minutes but it was amazing how I felt when I got out.  My body and mind really were relaxed.

While in Puerto Vallarta, there is a lot to see and do.  If you’re looking for a true Mexican shopping experience, head down to Malecon area, where you will be bombarded with shop owners trying to sell you anything and everything.  After awhile it can get tiring, but it’s all part of the Mexican shopping experience, as is the necessary bargaining!  One gift item started at $30 and we ended up at $5!  As you walk the path along the water, beautiful statues and artwork offer great photo ops.  There are also unique entertainers along the way working for tips as well as many restaurants.

If you’d like to enjoy more of nature, a visit to the El Salado Mangrove Estuary provides bird watchers a 415 acre protected urban estuary.   You’ll take a boat ride through the lagoon and see various bird species, crabs and maybe a crocodile!  Be sure to pay a visit to the CasaMagna Marriott where they host a turtle release program.   You’ll have the opportunity to learn what they do with the hundreds of turtle eggs and send a baby turtle of your own back into the ocean after it has hatched.

If extreme activity is more your style, Vallarta Adventures is the outfitter to check out!  You can fly down the largest and fastest zipline at nearly 4,000 feet and speeds of 60 mph!  In addition to zipping from tree to tree, you’ll rappel off of elevated treetop platforms, climb a wobbly 50 foot ladder, and swing like Tarzan.  There are also a few scuba dive shops, and Mike’s Fishing, which provides fishing and snorkeling  trips while taking in the beauty of Banderas Bay.  If you’re looking for a fun night out on a boat with a mixture of comedy, dancing and a great martial arts show by the ship’s pirates check out Marigalante’s Pirate Ship Adventure, which includes dinner and the show.  It’s another great way to see the gorgeous sunset.

While we ate most of our meals at the hotel, a really hip restaurant with great food and drinks prepared creatively, is La Leche, where the decor is comprised of white milk cartons and the food is local and delicious.  Another more casual and fun restaurant with good food (we had appetizers here, but they serve a full menu) is El Arrayan.

So even if you just spend a few days in Puerto Vallarta, like I did, you will leave refreshed and relaxed and connected to your significant other. If you travel on your own, it will be the perfect getaway to recharge your batteries.



Mexico is Magical at Las Mañanitas

My goal for this website is to seek out the world’s most romantic spots, and Las Mañanitas has got to be one of the most amazing places at which I have stayed.  It is a true gem in a part of Mexico that may not be as well known as some of the other more commercial regions.  Las Mañanitas is located an hour and a half from Mexico City in beautiful Cuernavaca, also known as the city for eternal spring  for it’s magnificent weather perfect for growing and maintaining the beautiful flora all around the region.    If you are looking for a true escape in a charming setting, in which to enjoy a new relationship or maybe celebrate your honeymoon or anniversary, it is hard not to have a peacefully relaxing and romantic time here.  Among its beautifully lush gardens stroll peacocks and flamingos, and parrots say hola from the chair next to you at breakfast.  While there are very nice lavish chain hotels, the charm of this hacienda makes you feel as if you are in your own private oasis.  The rooms are extremely spacious decorated with traditional  Mexican Tallavera tiles, handmade from a special fired-earth process in Puebla, a city close to Cuernavaca, a king sized bed, fireplace, huge bathroom and changing area, and your own large terrace with chairs and a table.  Ours overlooked one of the two large swimming pools, the other located in the spa, which can be yours to use after one of their amazing treatments.

 We devoted one day to just staying at and enjoying the resort, and what a treat it was.  We started off our four hour spa ritual (yes, I said four hours!) with water therapy in which we were guided through private time in the hot sauna followed up by a cold one minute shower, a steam room, a cool jacuzzi and then a warm one.  It was an incredible way to relax the muscles and unwind the mind before the hands on services.  Once in the treatment room, we were told to close our eyes and inhale some relaxing aromas while they wrapped our feet.  Upon lying down on our respective massage tables, our skin was exfoliated with a full body scrub and then we enjoyed a private bubble bath before having our bodies massaged for fifty minutes followed by a fifty minute facial.  I couldn’t think of a more complete spa treatment and I definitely recommend treating yourself and your partner to this incredible journey.  Upon completion of your spa experience, you can relax on the indoor lounge chairs or around the pool to the sound of running water and peacocks strolling around the colorful garden.   It had to have been one of the most romantic experiences I have had the opportunity to enjoy with someone special.

After some time passed, we settled down to dinner in the garden with only the light of a candelabrum.  The menu for all the meals was quite extensive with everything from traditional Mexican dishes to succulent seafood dishes prepared with a Mexican flair.  All the dishes were absolutely amazing with such attention to detail using only the best ingredients.  For dinner, I had salmon and sea bass one night, the traditional Mexican skirt steak, Arrachera, which was so tender, another night, and bone marrow tacos the third night.  The tuna sashimi, ceviche, and salmon carpacchio appetizers were terrific, as were their soups and salads.  I am not usually a big dessert person, but I had to try their sorbets, which were bursting with fresh flavor.  Other nights we shared a heavenly frozen chocolate cake and a hot molten chocolate cake. 


Las Mañanitas is a ten minute walk to the center of Cuernavaca, which is worth a stroll around at night.  You’ll see vendors selling their hats, jewelry, and food stands.  The property is also within an hour of Chisco Tubing, and if you’re looking for a little adventure and activity, you can go biking through the gorgeous scenic mountains, tubing, rafting or camping.  We went mountain biking one day and relaxed at the spa the next, which was a perfect balance. We really could have stayed a week if we had the time.  It was such a wonderfully rejuvenating and romantic experience at Las Mañanitas and Cuernavaca, and the staff made sure we were well taken care of the entire time.  Many locals in Mexico City go to Cuernavaca for the weekends and with properties like the beauty of Las Mañanitas, I can understand why.

New Travelogues!

Check out the new travelogues to the right from my trips to Cozumel and Cancun.  While in Cancun, we took the ferry to Isla Mujeres and drove down to Playa del Carmen, so there’s some information in the Cancun article about the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres and a show you must see at Xcaret in Playa del Carmen.  Come back soon to read about my recent trip to Daytona Beach.  You can find more of my travel articles under the media section of this site as well.  Enjoy!

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Pesos and La Playa

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, as I’ve been traveling a bunch, but I couldn’t ask for anything more!  I just got back from a wonderful trip in Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.  I had been to the Riviera Maya a few months ago, so this was great because I got to go do a few things I had missed the last time around, such as the Mexican Spectacular show at Xcaret, which was amazing.  In the eco archaeological park of Xcaret, we also swam through caves and saw beautiful fishes of many colors in the ocean.

The part of the trip in Cancun was really romantic, as we stayed at the Bel Air Collection, which did a great job in putting together a spa package incredible enough to relax even me, who sometimes has a tough time unwinding.  This was the first trip my boyfriend joined me on, and they really made it a special one.

We took a ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel, and had a great time.  Cozumel is so much more than a cruise port.  At Chankanaab Park, we swam with the dolphins and saw beautiful fish while Snuba diving.  It’s a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving…similar to diving, but without the tank on your back.  Cozumel has gorgeous beaches, especially at Punta Sur, which also is home to a lighthouse with a beautiful view.  Near our hotel, La Ceiba, we snorkeled and fed the sting rays, which was a lot of fun.   It was a definite challenge to get to the bottom of the ocean to feed the sting rays before the fish grabbed the fish food  out of our hands for themselves!

If your heading to Cancun, you must check out Isla Mujeres, which is a quick ferry ride from Cancun.  We took a moped around the island, which was a great way to see a lot in a short amount of time.   I could write so much more about our incredible trip, but I must finish packing, as I’m off to Daytona tomorrow.  Check back soon for the full travelogue on these and future destinations!

The Riviera Maya

Once again I am up way too late, but there’s so much to do!  Do you ever feel like your mind is always racing with so much to do but you never enough time?  I am gearing up for my trip to Los Cabos in a few days, so very excited about that, but of course that means packing.  You’d think I’d have it down to a science already, but of course I don’t. The big debate…do I check a bag so I have extra room in the suitcase or just try to squish everything into a carry-on so I don’t have to worry about lost luggage or the new charges for checking your bags?

Before heading to Los Cabos,  I made sure to write up my Riviera Maya article.  A copy of it is listed on the right side of the blog.  I cannot for the life of me figure out how to place it in it’s own travel category, so for now, it’s with my other fitness pages.    Here is the link from the radio segment that aired on WABC Radio in NYC.


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Los Cabos

Tranquility, beauty, exquisite cuisine, and an exhilarating nightlife…what more could you ask for in a vacation destination? Los Cabos, located at the tip of the Baja California Sur Peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez, consists of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.



While you’ll find several upscale peaceful resorts in Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo tends to be a little more sophisticated, while those looking for a bit of the party atmosphere would prefer Cabo San Lucas.


With many gorgeous resorts to choose from, you really can’t go wrong.  The Sheraton Hacienda del Mar is located in the exclusive Cabo del Sol Golf Complex, thirty five minutes from the airport, ten minutes from the nightlife in downtown Cabo, and twenty minutes from San Jose del Cabo.  I loved the perfect blend of comfort, hospitality, and fun.  The Sheraton, like most of the resorts has the Sea of Cortez as its backdrop and is surrounded by twenty eight oceanfront acres.



The resort consists of 270 spacious guest rooms including 31 suites and the ultra comfy Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed, a Jacuzzi, large walk in shower, and a private balcony or patio.  The wonderful bed and extra large shower made it very easy to relax and feel rejuvenated.    Dinner the first night was at the D’Cortez Grill, situated almost right on the beach.  The mixed seafood soup and grilled shrimps were muy delicioso.  I couldn’t have asked for a nicer ambiance than the sound of the huge waves crashing against the shore in front of us.  Their international restaurant, Tomatoes, serves breakfast, lunch, and a different themed dinner each night.  They offer a choice of their breakfast menu or an extensive buffet of fresh fruits, cereals, yogurt, a made to order omelet station, and traditional Mexican dishes.

For golfing enthusiasts, Ocean Course (The Pebble Beach of Baja) and the Desert Course are world class.  The extensive beachfront features four swimming pool, Jacuzzis, and a swim up bar.  The 11,000 foot Cactus Spa, a member of the Starwood Spa Collection, features a fitness center, beauty salon, 11 treatment rooms, and an outdoor lounge and plunge pool.  Speaking of spas, if you are visiting Cabo, you’d be remiss not to pamper yourself with a spa treatment or two.  In 2007, Travel and Leisure listed the top ten hotel spas in Mexico and Central and South America, and four of the ten are located in Los Cabos.  I had a wonderful sixty minute massage at the Esperanza Resort and Spa, which was rated number one.  With celebrities escaping to the exclusive property, it’s easy to see why.  The spa at Esperanza has a steam cave, plunge pools and a cooling waterfall to enjoy before your treatment, as well as an outdoor shower in your own private treatment area.   If it’s a nice day, you can opt for the sliding door to your room to stay open so you can enjoy the peaceful sounds of the ocean around you.  After you’re left floating from your massage, relax in their lounge as long as you’d like.  The aguas frescas, made from indigenous Mexican fruits, vegetables, and desert plants are made fresh for you before your spa experience and are delicious and great for cleansing and energy.   Since the Esperanza Resort is carved into the bluffs overlooking the Sea of Cortez, the restaurants offer an amazing view and atmosphere.  Be sure to try their cerviche!


The Cuisine of Cabo is really phenomenal.  The chefs are top notch from all around the world.  Many who are hired to a hotel end up staying in Los Cabos to open their own restaurants.  Casianos, located in San Jose del Cabo, is a true dining experience.  With no set menu, you inform them of any foods you don’t eat, and Chef Casiano Reyes takes it from there.  He will surprise you with delectable dishes, drinks, and desserts in a multi course dinner.  Everything was truly mouthwatering and satisfying.   Another unique dining experience can be found beachfront at the Fiesta Americana.  We sat around a large wooden table and listened to the sounds of the guitarist and vocalist over the crashing waves of the Sea of Cortez.  Dinner was delicious and featured creative dishes for the most discriminating palate.



The Villa del Arco is a hotel and time share property and features the largest gym in Los Cabos, a big pirate ship in the pool area, and delicious cuisine at your choice of restaurants. The service was impeccable.  I was impressed by the attentiveness of the wait staff and how they all worked in unison to serve us our meals.


Cabo is so beautiful, and with such beaches as Medano and Lovers Beach, you’ll definitely want to kayak or take a glass bottom boat out to the famous arch and the surrounding areas.  There are plenty of ways to explore the various beaches with activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, or taking out a wave runner.  Baja Wild Outfitters is a tour and rental company and offers everything from snorkeling and kayaking to ATV riding, surfing lessons, hiking trips, jeep expeditions, and whale watching during peak season.  Sportfishing is also very popular in Cabo San Lucas.


While in Cabo, you must go swimming with dolphins at Cabo Dolphins.  Maya was our dolphin and she had me smiling the whole time we were with her.  She let us feel her belly, gave us each a kiss, jumped over a pole we held over the water, and for the big finale, I took hold of her fin and rode her back across the pool.   There was a professional photographer taking pictures throughout with an option to purchase them at the end.



After relaxing all day, be sure to party all night in downtown Cabo San Lucas.  Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina is a favorite nightspot for drinks and dancing.    Inside the cantina is a 24 hour internet radio station, Cabo Wabo Radio, which broadcasts rock and classic hits.  The DJ sits in the radio studio looking out into the club, while fans can watch the live broadcast through the glass windows.    The downtown area is also a good spot for shopping and bargaining with merchants for your favorite Cabo souvenir.



So if you’re looking to get away for a long weekend or an extended vacation to relax in gorgeous surroundings, enjoy delectable cuisine and party the night away, head south of the border to Los Cabos, Mexico!  Have a shot of tequila for me!

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Riviera Maya

If you’re looking to get away to a place full of natural beauty, culture and adventure, look no further than the paradise of the Riviera Maya.  Located on the northeast corner of the Yucatan Peninsula, with pristine turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, lush jungles, and historical Mayan ruins, the Riviera Maya has plenty of outdoor activities which allow you to explore this breathtaking section of Mexico.  While there, I had the opportunity to experience so much in my five day/four night stay.



With so many hotels in the Riviera Maya, there is a place to suit everyone’s needs, from all inclusive properties on the beach to remote boutique hotels.  I stayed at the Sandos Playacar Riviera Hotel and Spa, right off of the beautiful white sandy beach of Playacar, and next to the Sandos Playacar Beach Resort and Spa.  The all inclusive is 45 minutes from Cancun International airport, and close to Playa del Carmen, where you’ll find great shopping and restaurants on Fifth Avenue.   They have more than fifteen bars and restaurants, including delicious buffets, as well as top notch à la carte restaurants.   All of the food was really delicious.  I didn’t have one bad meal.  The resort also includes a spa and fitness center, disco, tennis courts, gift and jewelry shops, and a few outdoor pools, one of which is for adults only.  Non-motorized sports are included, and they do a great job of organizing activities by the pool by day and putting on a spectacular show at night.  I went for a 25 minute spa treatment, which was tremendous.  They offer a wide array of services for a reasonably good price.  Usually spa treatments are a bit pricey at vacation resorts, but their fair prices was a nice surprise.   With so much to do at the resort, you can easily spend your entire vacation there.  However, I do think you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not experiencing some of the enchanting activities, scenery, and history the Riviera Maya has to offer.



Altournative organizes adventurous activities such as zip-lining through the jungle, along with its newest hidden treasure, Rio Secreto.   They give you the option of a hotel pickup or meeting at their location, about five minutes from Playa del Carmen.  Once there, you’ll ride in a unimog through the jungle and arrive near the entrance to the underground river.  They will give you your gear, including a wet suit, helmet with a light and water shoes.  A guide will lead you on a 600 meter tour through a spectacular cave of stalagmites and stalactites.  At the end of the hour and a half tour, the guide turns out the lights and lets you float in the water in total darkness, which was incredibly peaceful and serene.  Once you’re out of the cave, you’re treated to a lunch of fresh fruit and sandwiches.


Xcaret and Xel-Ha are two natural amusement parks in the Riviera Maya that are not to be missed.  The founder of the land around Xcaret uncovered cenotes formed by collapsed cave ceilings, weakend by 3 million years of erosion from underground rivers running through them and flowing into the sea, and decided that this incredible beauty should be shared with the public.  In Xcaret, be sure to see the incredible aquarium, which includes some hands-on exhibits, and learn about the turtle release program. They also have a spectacular performance in the evening. After we left Xcaret, we went to Xcacel and took part in a turtle release at the beach.  We were handed a baby turtle that had just hatched. We each gave our turtle a name and a kiss and wished them the best as they started their journey into the ocean.

The natural wonder that is Xel-Ha is an open-sea aquarium with over 70 recorded species of freshwater and seawater fish, and offers a variety of land and water activities and ecological attractions.  After a scrumptious Mexican buffet, fully covered in the all-inclusive price of admission, it was off on a bike ride to see some local wildlife before snorkeling in the combination of sea and fresh water. Despite my fear, I even jumped 15 feet off the cliff of courage into the water below.  Other water activities at Xel-Ha include swimming with the dolphins, kayaking, and snuba, which uses a combination of snorkel and scuba equipment.   If you’re more in the mood for relaxation, you can float away the day in a tube.


Punta Venado is another place filled with beauty and adventure.  There are various activities to choose from, including horseback riding, snorkeling and ATV Adventure.  I took a guided tour through the jungle on an ATV, explored a cave along the way, swam in a fresh water centote, rode the ATV along the beach, and then snorkeled in the beautiful Mexican Caribbean waters. While snorkeling, I saw all kinds of exciting fish and sea turtles and felt the difference in water temperature as I swam over the cenotes.   The adventure ended with a great fruit platter and some snacks.

For a bit of a unique experience, you’ll want to check out Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.  The largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, Sian Ka’an is approximately 1.3 million acres in size and spans 120 kilometers from north to south, comprising almost one third of the Caribbean coast of Mexico.  Community Tours Sian Ka’an is the only locally-run tour operator working in the reserve.  The guides are from local surrounding communities whose Mayan ancestors have made Sian Ka’an an historic destination for its culture and its beauty.  Named to Conde Nast’s Green List in September 2005 as one of the top three ecotourism destinations in the world, the guides do a great job of explaining the Mayan culture and ways of life.

The Muyil Forrest and Float tour combines the ancient Mayan culture, flora and fauna.  Through the one hour tour of the Mayan ruins, the guide speaks of his personal experiences living in the area.  After walking through the jungle for a bit, we climbed up an observation tower, which displays amazing views of the ruins and lagoons from above the trees.  We then took a boat ride into the lagoon to a man-made canal, which we floated down in our lifejackets for about an hour.  Definitely a peaceful way to spend the day!  Before completing our journey, we took the boat back and went for a dip in the freshwater cenote.  To top off an already wonderful experience, they had delicious tamales waiting for us when we got off the boat.

While the trip was absolutely breathtaking and adventurous, it wouldn’t have been complete without a little shopping along Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen.   However, be prepared to bargain!  Never pay full price on any item, especially in the jewelry shops.  Shop owners are expecting you to bargain with them, so they start out with a price that is quite inflated.  However, if you’re good at driving a hard bargain, you can get some really nice items for a good price.  I bought a few pairs of earrings and a necklace.

While in Playa del Carmen, you must experience the nightlife.  Many restaurants have a live performer outside, while such clubs as “The Blue Parrot” have an impressive fire show at 11pm, and great music and dancing throughout the rest of the night.

So if you’re looking for a long weekend getaway or better yet, can sneak away for a bit longer, I would highly recommend the Riviera Maya.  With so much beauty and culture, you can relax at the beautiful beaches with a drink in hand or partake in the many adventurous activities.  With direct flights from many of the major airports, your trip to paradise is closer and easier than you think.

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Hello from the Riviera Maya!

Hello from the beautiful Riviera Maya!  The water is turquois and the people are so fun and friendly!  I love the fact that I can say I am here for work!  Today was a fun day of snorkeling and ATV riding through the jungle and visiting caves full of stalagmites and stalactites.  I have eaten way too many Mexican buffets, but the food is outstanding!  I will give you a full report when I am back home.  Hasta Luego!

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