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I had a birthday recently and as birthdays often do, it got me thinking. I realized that since the birth of my daughter, who shares the same birthday month, I haven’t celebrated me and my birthday as I’m so centered around her big birthday plans. This year was going to be different. I knew I wanted to share my day with close girlfriends and I wanted to do something special. So the invite called for spandex and sneakers, and I surprised everyone with a trampoline disco party. What better way to kick start your new year than with a kick ass fitness class that leaves you feeling healthy and strong?
JumpLife is the vision of Montserrat Markou. Its first and only location happens to be two blocks from my house, making it exceedingly convenient. They provide two class options, JumpDance, which focuses on all dance and cardio using individual trampolines, and JumpGym, which incorporates hand weights and some ab work. You feel like a rock star (probably healthier than a rock star) when you leave this place and safe to say you’ve lost a pound in sweat. I love my girlfriends for joining me to jump!
I’m committed to growing older gracefully and staying fit and sexy is part of the plan, as is putting the right foods into my body. Fittingly, I received two books as gifts that fit right in with the plan. One, the Art of Attention is a beautiful book (workbook really) on an evolving yoga practice. Perfect for me since I’ve been a yogi for over twenty years now. The other, is a truly stunning cookbook (that word doesn’t do this work of art justice) called Plenty. It’s the all-vegetable book I’ve been dreaming of, with photos that will blow your mind.
Another friend gifted me a ticket to the Edible Schoolyard NYC fundraiser. Founded by Alice Waters, Edible Schoolyard works to bring gardens to schools where children who normally wouldn’t have access to fresh produce can grow their own. They provide a hands-on edible education that includes teaching kids to embrace sustainable eating practices and to make food choices that will change their health.
If last year was about getting outside my comfort zone and experiencing new things, this coming year is the time to reconnect with friends over a healthy meal at home and get back to basics. Less technology and more personal connection. Health and wellness in body, mind, and spirit. And appreciation for everything I have.
The tranquil paradise of the Big Island of Hawaii offers so much to experience, I couldn’t confine my ten day visit to just one post. For tips on my favorite Big Island resorts and must-pack items, check out Destination Hawaii, Part One. Then read on below for Part Two of my Hawaiian adventure!
The Fairwind II is a large catamaran that takes you out for a BBQ lunch and snorkel cruise. I’m not a big ‘group’ person and I absolutely loved this trip. The staff was A+. My finicky four-year-old lasted all of 30 seconds with her snorkel and mask and was able to trade them in for a more manageable wave board with a clear window to view the fish below. The diving board and slide on board feel Disney-fied, but are an absolute blast. If you are traveling without children in tow you may want to try the more civilized Hula Kai luxury tour. www.fair-wind.com
After such success aboard the Fairwind, I really got into being on the water and booked us a sunset cruise aboard the Winona at Mauna Lani Sea Adventures. My daughter protested. Sounds like a snore. She ate her words after we were treated to a mama and baby whale that took a liking to us and shared over an hour of our journey with us. The captain said they maybe get a show like that once a season. I may have cried and can assure you I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than a mother and her nursing baby whale hugging our vessel. I will definitely book that trip again.
Check out Rudy and Leanne at the tennis pavilion at The Fairmont Orchid. This ten court Tennis Center is consistently ranked as one of the tops in the U.S. and these guys are the reason why. Their drills and kick ass clinics made my trip.
I was the girl in junior high that climbed the high dive while everyone waited to see me make a glorious splash, only to be disappointed when I turned around humiliated and climbed back down the stairs. So although my spunky and fearless four-year-old was game for a zip line experience, my fear of heights kept us beach bound. However if it is adventure you want, try the Umauma falls and zipline experience. I can’t speak from experience but the word is they are the absolute best.
If you stay at the Orchid make sure you connect with Rachel, one of their concierges, before you go. She is incredibly knowledgeable and has the gift of ‘getting you,’ so have her plan both your dining reservations/recommendations and your island adventures.
I tend not to be a resort restaurant kinda girl but sometimes you just can’t get away from it. Hawaii can be one of those destinations where ‘local’ dining can sometimes be a predicament. The fact that my daughter ate free was another motivator for staying on property. We had beautiful meals surf side at both Brown’s Beach House at the Fairmont and Canoe House at the neighboring Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows. Napua is a beachfront restaurant at the Mauna Lani Beach Club that felt more like a secret, and we ate poke there for lunch almost every day.
Monstera is a great sushi option off resort. Trust Chef Norio to prepare the most delicious and fresh combinations of fish and you won’t be disappointed. Another off property must is the Seafood Bar & Grill. Finally a place that had a real old Hawaiian feel with a menu to match. The breakfast buffet is sort of a tradition on any Hawaiian vacay but one morning I felt obliged to try pancakes ‘as big as your head’ at Hawaiian Style Cafe. If brown breakfast food is your thing (think coffee, toast, pancakes, French toast, SPAM, yes SPAM) then this is your dream destination. Although I dug the local vibe (only sit at the counter), I admit I was missing those fresh squeezed guava and lilikoi juices back at the hotel buffet.
I’ve been hanging at home this winter catching up on the latest Ina Garten recipes but couldn’t resist a trip out west with friends to ski. I’m an Aspen girl but jumped at the chance to give Utah a try. They say Deer Valley is for the pampered set so my expectations were high. After five days of comparing every last detail to Aspen/Snowmass, I’m pretty sure my traveling companions wanted to throw me off the high speed quad. Truth is: it took me about five days to really appreciate what Deer Valley has to offer.
We rented an amazing townhouse at the base of the mountain. We shared with friends, cooking most dinners at home with a glass of wine in hand, a fire roaring and children underfoot. Wearing my pjs and reading by the light of the fire is my ski trip fantasy.
I checked out The Montage, The St. Regis and The Stein Eriksen Lodge. I would stay at any of these fab resorts. Ski-in, ski-out, each serves a delicious skiers’ buffet lunch and is nestled into the mountain. As a rule, Deer Valley is more accessible than Aspen via direct flights into Salt Lake City and therefore makes it a perfect weekend destination. Despite a great kids ski school and a family friendly reputation, DV felt more like a lovers’ long weekend retreat. Any of these hotels will do the trick.
Fireside Dining was worth the hype but the accompanying optional sleigh ride wasn’t. If it’s a sleigh ride you want, try Sun Valley or Aspen as this short ten minute ride around the parking lot will likely disappoint. The dining, however, was superb. Imagine a starter course of raclette cheese melted by an open fire with cornichon, fruit and charcuterie. Followed by short ribs, trout, lamb and rosti potatoes. The fondue dessert came three ways: dark chocolate, white chocolate Grand Marnier, and caramel with a buffet of fruit and cakes to dip.
Although the service should have been better at this Four Diamond restaurant, the burger was one of the best I’ve had at the Goldener Hirsch. A favorite for fondue and a busy evening spot, try a relaxing lunch between runs on Bald Eagle Mountain. You will feel as if you’ve been transported to an Austrian village no matter what you order.
Pop into the St. Regis après ski for quite possibly the best hot chocolate bar EVER. I think the secret is in the whipped cream. And did I mention it’s free?
Well, ski, of course! Deer Valley has the requisite ski valet on mountain and great dining options, but what makes this mountain special is the fact they groom nearly 100% of their terrain nightly. Die hards will argue that the snow is drier in Utah than Colorado and they may have a point. Deer Valley also doesn’t allow snow boarders on mountain.
No post about DV would be complete without including a little plug for one of our fave SJ retailers, Splendor, located at the Redstone Town Center in Park City. A cozy apothecary stocking high-end beauty products and boasting a skin bar offering a full menu of treatments, Splendor has been carrying Stephanie Johnson products for years, and is a must-stop if you ever find yourself in Park City!
All of the above-mentioned Deer Valley luxury resorts have great spa options, so indulge in a massage after a day on the bumps.
Deer Valley had me wanting for Snowmass’ wide slopes, mountain maps on every chairlift, and the temperature display at every chair download. However missed these small perks were, I still would hop the four hour flight to SLC for a weekend of guaranteed groomed trails and a greater likelihood of snow. After all it’s about the skiing, right?