I’ve been on the road quite a bit in the last few months—to Mexico, Bali, Mexico, South Florida, and back to Mexico. (Noticing a trend, here? Stay tuned for a post on my most recent visit to Mexico. And, I’m heading back there in two weeks!). Along the way I’ve been sharing my travels on Instagram, my favorite place to connect with fellow travelers and to find inspiration. I love how a simple hashtag search can take me from Slovenia to Tasmania to Kyoto in a matter of minutes—it’s like traveling with 1,833,215 adventurous friends. Here are 15 photos from my recent travels that have helped me link up with like-minded IGers. Are we connected on Instagram? If not, let me know. Let’s connect!
Kubu Beach at Ayana Resort in Jimbaran, Bali. March 2015.
Room with a view. May 2015.
A couple weeks ago we had a visitor for the weekend, which was the perfect excuse to go out and explore a little bit of our new city. My Mr. and I had heard about the World of Coca-Cola—the company is headquartered here—but weren’t sure if we were interested in actually visiting. Cheesy tourist attraction, we thought. Well, when you have company visiting from out of town, all bets are off and even tourist traps make the list of possible things to do. So, we went. And it turns out, it was pretty cute. Our visit kicked off with a short, sentimental film that illustrates Coca-Cola’s global reach (its theme of connectivity and one-ness made the traveler in me weepy). From there, we toured a mock bottling facility, visited the vault where the original recipe is stored, and—my favorite—got a massive sugar buzz in the international tasting room. (My favorites were a Melon Frosty Fanta from Thailand and a Pineapple Fanta from Greece.) We even taste-tested a new Mango Fanta. By the end of our two hours inside, our curiosity was quenched.
These beautiful bottles were designed for the Atlanta Olympics and represent different countries.
So much vintage and international Coca-Cola paraphernalia is kept and displayed here.
How the bottling process works…
The Vault, where the original recipe is stored. Or, so they say.
“Surveillance” is heavy in there.
These magical monitors turned the faces of passersby into effervescence.
There it is—The Vault.
Recognize that guy?
Another favorite from the tasting room—banana-flavored Inca Kola, which you’ve undoubtedly tried if you’ve been to Peru.
Asian Coke products…
And, of course, American.
A fridge full of Mango Fanta. SO sweet, yet, so good.
And complimentary glass-bottle Cokes for everyone on their way out.
The shop was loaded with nostalgia, too, like these soda-flavored Lip Smackers, which were so ubiquitous among my friends and me so many years ago.
Sometimes, a little nostalgia just hits the spot.
We got a lot of mileage out of our quick trip to Palm Beach last week, and it was made complete by a stop at The Breakers, one of my favorite places on the island. So many incredible updates have been made to the resort since I called Florida home (I hear the budget for maintenance and upkeep is $25 million a year), and this place just keeps getting better and better because of it. I’ve been to The Breakers plenty of times, but I was still blown away looking up at the lobby’s ceiling (above), staring out over the turquoise pools, and wandering through its manicured grounds. Being here is like going back in time to an era of grandness, elegance, and simple pleasures (beach days, bike rides), which I think is too scarce these days.
The Breakers’ flagship restaurant, HMF, takes up the historic Florentine Room. It was named after Henry Morrison Flagler and designed by Adam D. Tihany, who’s responsible for the design of Per Se, Restaurant Daniel, and Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental London, plus more of the world’s top spots. (Including, as it turns out, Agua by Larbi at One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico, where I ate breakfast and dinner just two days ago!) Not too shabby. That blur in the background is a beautiful wine cellar. And can we take a second to appreciate those floral arrangements, please?
The Circle, home to one of Palm Beach’s most famous Sunday Brunches—and stunning chandeliers.
You could easily spend a week at The Breakers without getting past its shops, which include Ralph Lauren and Guerlain and boutiques carrying everything from Stella McCartney to Christian Louboutin. Absolutely Suitable has tons of swimsuits for women….
…and colorful trunks for the guys.
Palm Beach and Lily Pulitzer pretty much go hand in hand, and guests can buy scarves in this exclusive Breakers print at its Lily boutique.
What I love most about The Breakers, though, is that despite its formal feel at first, it doesn’t take long to realize that it’s a place to relax and have fun. Its fitness center is the best I’ve ever seen in a resort, with a giant TV built into its main mirrored wall, plus crazy ocean views from its cardio machines.
But the pièce de résistance is, hands down, its sprawling Beach Club, which stretches on forever and is dotted with candy-colored umbrellas and apartment-style cabanas.
This was the epitome of beautiful beach days, complete with a dolphin looping in between the surfers and swimmers in the waves just off shore.
So grand, and so good. I can’t wait to see what this special place comes up with next.
On our trip to Palm Beach last week, my Mr. and I drove down A1A to Delray Beach, a laid-back beach town I used to escape to for live music and shopping for wares by local artisans. This time, we stopped for dinner at one of my old favorite spots, DADA. I hadn’t been to Delray since I left 11 years ago, and the town is more vibrant and buzzy than ever before. DADA is under new ownership since I last ate there, but the warm and cozy atmosphere was very much the same. We ordered small plates—mandarin orange gazpacho, a kale salad with sardines and parmesan, a Moroccan medley of couscous and hummus, and, for him, bacon-wrapped dates—and I braved a strawberry-basil mojito, which muscled me out of the ring.
I’ve always loved Delray’s slightly boho vibe.
The highlight of the night was dessert at Sloan’s, to which I give credit for my ice cream addiction. My old Coffee & Donuts standby was still on the menu, and I combined it with a scoop of Cookie Monster since two flavors are always better than one.
The bathroom at Sloan’s leaves little to the imagination, but when you lock the door, the windows frost over. Maybe I’m immature, but this idea never gets old.
Sloan’s is one of those places that can pull me out of a slump or, in this case, make an already-perfect day even better. Do you have a spot like that?
I lived in the Palm Beach area for a year and a half right out of college, and one of my favorite rituals was my daily drive to and from work along A1A—blue ocean to my right, mega-mansions to my left. Last week I returned to Palm Beach for a stay at the new-ish Eau Palm Beach. The hotel occupies what used to be The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach, which I passed every day on that drive. So, when I heard that the hotel had re-branded and that Jonathan Adler had re-imagined its oceanfront suites, I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. You guys—it did not disappoint. The lobby and ground floor remain true to the Ritz-Carlton’s very classic style—crystal chandeliers, ivory upholstery, opulent floral arrangements, nothing out of place—but everything changes upstairs when you step off the elevator. Boom! Shades of blue, aqua, and turquoise burst from the carpet and the wallpaper, and everything from the headboard to the side tables are splashed with geometric patterns. Mod light fixtures twinkle overhead, and cheeky art adorns the walls. If Mad Men and The Greenbrier spent a drunken night in bed together, this is the baby they’d birth—and it’s a match made in hotel heaven.
It all started with a champagne check-in. I didn’t care what happened from here.
Mirrored. Bamboo. Wallpaper.
This bathroom. So good!
The only thing missing from this picture? Liz Taylor and her That’s Entertainment caftan lounging on the couch.
We’ve all seen (and probably owned) a pair of these mustache/lip mugs.
Not just a myth. Mirrors with built-in TVs do exist!
Finally, a hotel where my ancient Benefit makeup bag didn’t feel too girlish or out of place—rather, right at home!
Perhaps not until this visit did I realize just how colorful Palm Beach is. The boldes, most brilliant blues!
Eau, what a fun place to stay! What’s your favorite funky hotel?
Between my trips to Zihuatanejo, Bali, Cancun, Palm Beach, and, next week, Cabo, I’ve been logging a lot of hours—and pages—in the air since February. Before my travel streak started I polled some friends for book recommendations, and they didn’t let me down. I’ve read Gone Girl, Fury, A Fireproof Home for the Bride, The Girl on the Train, Me Before You, and The Orphan Train. I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing two books on my trips, and when I finish one, I leave it in my room or in my hotel’s library for another guest to enjoy—paying it forward in pages. Next up: Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things.
What’s on your reading list?
My stay at Nizuc last week brought with it a surprise visit to Chichen Itza. Seeing the historic Mayan city wasn’t on our agenda, but with it being a two-hour drive away and having never been there before, it seemed shameful not to make the effort. And I’m so glad we did! It was a gray, overcast day, which added a bit of mystery and drama to the experience. I was surprised by the crush of tourists—and souvenir vendors (“¡Everything one dollar!”)—that we encountered when we arrived, but thanks to our encyclopedic guide, Alejandro, they all faded into the background as he plied us with stories about the Mayans’ mindblowing mathematical and engineering skills, their governance of everything from agriculture to their calendar based upon numerical systems, and even their link to astrology. If you have a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula planned, go to Chichen Itza, and see it with a guide. You’ll be glad you did. What historical sites have you been to and loved?
As I wrote yesterday, while at Nizuc Resort last week I discovered the ik margarita. My life will never be the same. I don’t even like liquor—least of which tequila—yet somehow I couldn’t stop sucking these sour, spicy drinks down. So, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I give you …
The Ik Margarita (yields 1 cocktail)
2 oz. silver tequila
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. honey
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Habañero Chili Syrup
Salt, lime juice, and dried habañero flakes for rim
Habañero halves for garnish
Habañero Chili Syrup
1 c. water
1 c. granulated sugar
3 fresh habañero peppers, halved and with stem ends trimmed off
Directions for Habañero Chili Syrup
Let’s keep this simple: head over to this great post, which lays it all out beautifully.
Directions for Ik Margarita
Rim a margarita glass with lime, salt, and dried habañero flakes. Combine first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, and pour, including ice, into margarita glass. Garnish with a halved habañero pepper if pain makes you feel alive.
Cancun is known for being a booze-soaked spring break party spot, but there’s also plenty of hidden luxury there. (Happily for those of us who love lounging on powder-soft beaches and swimming in crystal-clear water but prefer terry robes over wet t-shirts.) Case in point: Nizuc Resort & Spa, where I spent four days last week. Tucked away on Punta Nizuc what feels like worlds away from Cancun’s more unsavory side, Nizuc is as zen as it gets. The entrance is marked by little more than a discreet wooden gate. On the other side of it unfurls a winding stone road thickly lined with the greenest of green ferns, palms, and flowering trees. Its airy lobby looks out over shallow reflecting pools, and lines and angles from its restaurants to its guest rooms are smooth and soothing. The weather during my stay wasn’t stellar, but I muscled through with help from daily doses of citrusy ceviche, my (penthouse!) suite’s private plunge pool, a relaxing boat ride with a pit stop for swimming, and a steady stream of tart and spicy ik margaritas (more on those later).
How’s this for an outdoor living space? The daybed served as my desk for the week.
I had three options when it came to getting clean: an indoor rain shower and deep soaking tub, plus an outdoor rain shower. Decisions, decisions. Life here is hard.
Though not the kind of beach I typically love in Cancun, Nizuc’s is nonetheless pretty and peaceful, if a bit heavy on seaweed from rough winds that blew the first couple days of my stay.
Skies were overcast for a good portion of my stay, but we lucked into some sunny skies while boating around Cancun. We idled through some mangroves and stopped for a glorious swim in more open water.
Here’s a tip: the impact from jumping off the side of a boat into the sea can actually blow your earrings right out of your lobes—don’t wear any that are special to you. Better yet, just leave them behind.
Nizuc Life forever!
Heading back to Nizuc from our swim, I spotted what I’m pretty sure is the only flag that’s visible from space.
Back to Nizuc for lunch at my favorite spot, Ni, for Peruvian food. The folks in this kitchen know their way around a fish.
Back to my room (read: plunge pool) via the lobby, where everyone passing through could be someone famous.
With one last meal approaching, we stopped for cocktails at Bar A Kan, which, surprise!, is stunning. I captured exactly zero nice photos of the things I ate and drank at Nizuc, so suffice it to say that the food here is the best I’ve had in my six visits to Mexico. (Vanilla-green bean soup is a thing, and it will change everything you thought you knew about life.)
If you’re on the hunt for a honeymoon, wedding, or anniversary destination, make sure to put Nizuc on your list. Crazy drunken co-eds need not apply.
If you live in Atlanta and don’t have weekend plans yet, listen up. Back in Boston and New York I loved going to the occasional comedy show, so I was excited when I caught wind of a two-night event happening here, but with a much different twist. So, last night we headed downtown to Snake Nation Gallery to check out the first night of Miss Nearly Naked Lady Atlanta. The show, hosted by comedian and VH1’s Best Week Ever cast member Pat Dixon and xoJane editor-at-large and former New York Post columnist Mandy Stadtmiller, features female comedians—performing in their underwear. One by one ladies took to the gallery’s floor clad in boyshorts, fishnets, and bike shorts—even a pair of Wonder Woman briefs. Some recounted their younger selves’ ill-fated sexual exploits in gory detail. Some role played to slapstick effect. All were bold, funny, and bad-ass for baring (almost) all in the name of some deep belly laughs. But that’s not all. At the end of the show, audience members vote for their favorite fearless female performer. The winner will be crowned Miss Nearly Naked Lady Atlanta 2015 and whisked off to NYC for booked performances, comedy club tours, and appearances on Dixon’s and Stadtmiller’s podcasts. The ladies alternate stage time with area stand-up comedians (expect dick pic, pot, and political jokes aplenty), making for a night well spent in the company of some of Atlanta’s funniest folks. There are two more shows tonight, and tickets (only $15!) are available here. Planning to go? Tell me what you think in the comments and here!