24 April, 2013

Hotel Monaco Part I - The Monte Carlo Suite

My love and I are currently planning our fast-approaching honeymoon (and this means fast-approaching wedding....yay!) to Nice, from where we will be taking numerous day trips - including one to Monaco. Little did I know, I would have a little taste of Monaco when I traveled to Denver earlier this month.

In the past few years, I've grown partial to the Kimpton Hotels, a group of stylish boutique hotels sprinkled throughout the country. I've stayed at several of their properties here in Chicago and have been impressed every time with the service and the quality of the details that make a stay at any Kimpton hotel feel like a luxurious getaway, whether you are traveling for business or pleasure.

I originally booked my stay in Denver with the Grand Hyatt but, when I realized the Kimpton Hotels had a property there, I quickly canceled my original reservation and was on my way to Hotel Monaco.

As the doors were opened for me by the smiling attendants (who open doors every minute of the day for everyone who pass through - and with a huge smile and kind greeting every single time), I walked into the lobby, checked in, and didn't even take a second look around before speed-walking to the elevator and to my room.

Why the rush?

Well, if you knew your room was the Monte Carlo Suite, you would run, too! Allow me to give you a virtual tour...



I could have easily spent all my time in Denver moving from one corner to the next in this beautiful room. And oh, that bed! That headboard! Give me a good book and a bottomless supply of coffee (and my fiancé wouldn't hurt either)  and I'd happily spend the day cozied amongst the fluffy pillows and warm down blankets.

The bathroom had C.O. Bigelow toiletries (paraben free!), a nice wide counter to lay out my toiletries and, my favorite detail - a magnifying mirror with multiple lighting settings to help make any makeup application flawless.

Speaking of details - the reason I come back to Kimpton hotels are the details that are put into every single aspect of the room. From luxurious fabrics, to quirky decorations, each room has a unique feel far from the standard cookie-cutter rooms common in American hotels.

I must find a way to replicate these curtains for my apartment.  

I've never seen this in any other hotel  - and  I loved being able to put a face to the person who made my room so nice and welcoming every day (and to be able to personalize the note I always leave for housekeeping at the end of my stay).

I'll take one of these for the foot of my bed, please.

And, best of all, let me introduce you to Goldie, my companion for the duration of my stay. Yes, that's right. Kimpton hotels will give you a little goldfish to keep you company. Prior to taking advantage of the opportunity, I asked if any fish had died whilst in possession of a guest, and was assured that all goldfish have been returned alive and well--they are fed in the morning by housekeeping.

So, Goldie and I quickly became friends (she had little say in the matter) and every morning as I walked past her little bowl, she put a smile on my face. Well done, Hotel Monaco!

The hotel offers several other in-room services which I did not have time to enjoy. For example, you can take advantage of "Haute Yoga" and request a yoga mat for your room. Free on-demand fitness routines guide you through various workouts.

If you are ever in Denver, don't hesitate and book a room at the Hotel Monaco.

For my Chicago readers, I'd recommend any of the Kimpton hotels here in a heartbeat. My fiancé and I like to book a staycation at Hotel Allegro every once in a while....and I have my eye on Hotel Burnham next.

Before booking your next hotel, check the Kimpton website, there may just be a luxurious room waiting for you!

*As an avid traveler, I love to share my hotel finds with my readers. This time, I was lucky enough to be sponsored, though this did not influence one way or another my opinion of the hotel.

13 March, 2013

Keeping Perspective

This week has been one of those that seems to pass much too quickly yet interminably slowly at the same time. In a few days I will leave for a week-long conference in NYC and between now and then, I am swamped (in the very real sense, as my desk and floor are covered with papers and books) with research projects, papers to grade and homework assignments. Sleep will be reserved for the flight.

As I began to read one of the many books, I started at the Acknowledgments, which I like to read even if the book in question is a stodgy academic one. It's a habit of mine born of, I suppose, my insatiable curiosity. As I was reading, I came to the last sentence in the author's long list of acknowledgments:

"My spirited children...provide a constant supply of hugs, giggles, howls, and crayon-covered walls that remind me that book writing is a distraction from this world's true blessings".

I had to copy it immediately into my journal and then, here, to share with you.

In academia, there is a propensity to be consumed by one's research. We research that which interests us, and so it is quite easy and often pleasurable to be so enraptured. I know many professors whose lives take place 80% in the department. In fact, when I told one very prominent woman scholar in the department that I was engaged, my announcement was met with a disguised criticism. A fellow colleague waited to tell the department she was pregnant until absolutely necessary, as she feared her supervising professor would doubt the potential of her research with a child in the picture.

I recognize that sleepless nights and days spent in front of the computer, typing like a madwomen, are in my future, as is intense competition for research grants and awards and teaching positions. But all this is a PART of my future, a very small part.

I am so thankful that I can come home to my love. That my mornings consist of cuddles in bed, and my evenings of making dinner and awaiting his return from work. I don't feel guilty skipping class for ice cream, or choosing not to attend a departmental even in favor of dinner with my soon to be husband.

Because, even given my long academic career thus far, when I look back on what has made me happy I do not think of my publications or the conferences I have attended, I think of my friends and family, of my love, of the places I have traveled.

These are "this world's true blessings".

The biggest blessing, perhaps, is to be able to recognize that--look around you, and you will see that not many do.

06 March, 2013

Waiting for Springtime

Oh, Spring, how I long for you!

To fall asleep with the windows slighltly ajar, and to wake to a cool breeze floating through the room. 

To eat simply and al fresco. 

To fill the flat with peonies and tulips.

Source: instagr.am via Anait on Pinterest

To explore my city with a vigor and freshness that spring days inspire.

To find beauty above, in the trees that bloom.

Source: weheartit.com via Anait on Pinterest

To shed winter layers for a simpler look.

Spring and autumn are the seasons in which I am perfectly content. They are a happy medium between frosty winters and stifling summers. I do not wish for any other season when I am in spring or autumn.

Though my city is in the midst of a snowstorm,  it is now March - Spring can't be too far away, can it?

28 February, 2013

Waiting for the New Year - Sydney

Despite anticipating the millions of people who crowd every inch of Sydney on New Years Eve, we didn't make any specific plans for the evening - choosing, instead, to take a chance and hope for the best. We quickly vetoed the idea of spending the night at a restaurant (at $300 a person, it was more extravagance than we could afford on our already extravagant trip!) and chose instead to settle in one of the many parks that dot Sydney's harbour. Locals warned us this was a bad idea, as most parks reach capacity before 5pm and, should we manage to find one with admittance we would most likely be crowded into a spot with an obstructed view.

My fiancé and I both love a challenge.

After some research, we decided on Blues Point Park for our viewing location. We hopped on a ferry at Darling Harbour, and chugged along to our destination. However, as the ferry stopped at McMahon's Point, we noticed it was rather empty and so abandoned our original plan and hopped off the ferry, instead.

We quickly secured a spot on the edge of the harbour, laid out our blanket, and took in the amazing view - the Harbour Bridge, right in front of our eyes and in better view than from any restaurant in the city.

 Up high - a setting sun, lighting the sky aflame with vibrant colors.

All around - people chatting, laying out on blankets, dancing, singing.


As the sun set, we found ourselves in twilight. And though the fireworks to come would be phenomenal, the waiting was by far the best part of the evening. Just the two of us sprawled out on a blanket, in a foreign city, surrounded by travelers from all over the world and reveling in a moment born of spontaneity and the good fortune of taking a chance and finding yourself happier than you could ever imagine.

01 January, 2013

Happy 2013 !

                                           Source: home-biba.blogspot.com via Danielle on Pinterest

25 December, 2012

Joyeux Noël !

                                                Source: marieclaireidees.com via Anait on Pinterest

                                          Source: valleyandcolifestyle.com via Anait on Pinterest

                                          Source: flickr.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

From sunny Australia, to your home - wishing you warmth (no matter the temperature outside), happiness, laughter and the company of those you love.

Joyeux Noël !

23 December, 2012

To the Land Down Under

“I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!”  
(Dorothea Mackellar, ThePoems of Dorothea Mackellar)

                                          Source: notesformyfuturefarm.tumblr.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

                                          Source: behind-the-lens-lukey.blogspot.com.au via Alicia on Pinterest

                                          Source: instacanv.as via Theresa on Pinterest

My love and I are off to Australia - a place I, even with my intense wanderlust, have never had the urge to visit - until plans had been made and I began to research this beautiful country. I can't wait to stroll through the city, explore hidden beaches, snorkel in the coral reefs, eat every meal al fresco, to welcome 2013 with a spectacular fireworks show in Sydney Harbour.

Mostly, I am ecstatic to spend the next few weeks exploring a new corner of the world with my future husband. Though we've taken many small trips together, apart from a {unforgettable} trip to Niagara Falls at the very beginning of our courtship, we have never traveled together outside the country. What better way to begin than by a voyage to the other corner of the world?

                                          Source: sarahbellestudio.tumblr.com via livemapp on Pinterest