Guest Post by Lifestyle Expert Laurie Graham
The weather in Dallas may be erratic and unpredictable, but take a deep breath because Summer is right around the corner and that means your next vacation is just a few details away! Our busy lives have become so tightly scheduled, that actually taking any real vacation time is a hot commodity in and of itself. The choices of where to go, how to get there and keeping it affordable can be overwhelming. Creating a magical travel experience can be incredibly cumbersome as you attempt to traverse hundreds of online sites looking for the best deals on rooms, affordable airline tickets, and experiences that everyone in your group will enjoy.
I can tell you from personal experience that the best use of your time and money is to call a seasoned travel agent who can coordinate your entire itinerary and even negotiate special perks to your trip. Kelli Lorino from Concierge Travel Design is a trusted resource for me and always creates added value features that I would have never been able to access without her connections and expertise. The savings you get from bundling your flight, hotel, ground transportation, etc is major negotiating leverage when it comes to affording those extra add-ons once you arrive at your destination. As an image consultant and fashion stylist, I travel constantly for clients from NYC to LA and beyond. Over the years, I’ve visited some amazing places, so to assist you in choosing your next dream vacation, I’m sharing my Top 5 travel destinations. All of these beautiful locations are easily accessed through DFW International Airport. Because how you leave town can set the tone for the whole trip…
#5 The Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort, Grand Cayman Islands
If you are on a beer budget with champagne taste then The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort is the fantasy escape for you! Located in the crystal-clear Caribbean waters, the Grand Cayman is an island paradise perfect for sun seekers. With rates during the week as low as $314/night, you won’t even need to use your Marriott points to book a room. The breakfast buffet is amazingly fresh and features 100% fresh squeezed juices, an omelet station, pancakes, bacon, loads of fresh fruits and breads. Two adventures that are absolute “musts” during your stay are swimming with the gentle stingrays at Stingray City and dining at Chef Dean Max’s farm-to-table restaurant, The Brasserie. Here, I enjoyed the best fresh caught yellowtail I’ve ever tasted.
#4 Steamboat Springs, Colorado
With new non-stop flights directly from DFW on American Airlines, you are only 2 hours & 15 minutes away from the smell of crisp, mountain air. Escape the flat terrain and concrete malls of Dallas in favor of every water sport and outdoor adventure activity imaginable! Even if skiing or boarding aren’t your thing, the immersion into nature is something we can all appreciate. I booked my last minute direct flight over Spring Break for only $450. If you have a large family or want to share costs with other couples, then booking a fabulous rental house through the 5-Star site Moving Mountains Chalet (www.movingmountains.com) is the only way to go! Rent your own mountain chalet complete with a personal chef to customize all your meals and daily housekeeping service. You won’t have to lift a finger. If a hotel is more your speed, the newly renovated Sheraton located at the base of the mountain is the perfect choice. This quaint little mountain town offers some killer, high-end culinary restaurants as well. Try Bistro CV, Café Diva and Yama sushi for the best food in town. After a long day of hiking, biking, rafting or horse back riding, you’ll want to re-hydrate at T-Bar for Happy Hour and order their signature peanut butter/banana/bacon sandwich! For sweeping mountain views, take the Gondola up to 9700 feet for dinner at the brand new lodge called Four Points which happens to serve the best bloody mary’s in town!
#3 The Villa by Barton G, Miami
For a decadent and fashionable vacation, this hotel is as unique and special as the guest who can appreciate it’s one-of-a-kind charm. Formerly the private mansion of designer, Gianni Versace, The Villa by Barton G is located right on Ocean Drive in Miami’s South Beach. Boasting only 10 custom bedrooms, every square inch of this boutique hotel is like a piece of fine Italian art. Versace himself designed each room with it’s own fantastical theme, complete with custom painted walls and ceilings throughout the site. To compliment your couture holiday you absolutely, without question, MUST dine at Cavalli’s Restaurant & Lounge. This “go-to” destination for celebrities and socialites is the creation of another extraordinary Italian designer, Roberto Cavalli. The colorful ambiance is so spectacular, that I was unsure the fine Italian cuisine would measure up to the impeccable décor. To my surprise, I was blown away by the menu and equally impressed with the service. This site is the perfect romantic getaway!
#2 The Highland Hotel, Dallas
The ultimate staycation for unplugging from life’s obligations and stress! Introducing Dallas’s newest local hot spot, The Highland Dallas, which showcases Dallas’ popular exhale Spa, Salon Pompeo and the award-winning cuisine of James Beard-nominated and Bravo’s “Top Chef” contestant Chef John Tesar at its acclaimed restaurant, Knife. You won’t have to drive your car all weekend! The new ownership of The Highland Dallas (formerly The Palomar Hotel) is conveniently located right in the center of Dallas, across from SMU campus. With a multi-million dollar “refreshment” of meeting spaces and guest rooms in 2015, this luxury hotel will be the new referral spot for family, friends and colleagues who want to experience all of the local Dallas flair and hospitality with unique world-class amenities. The Highland Dallas defines an intersection of style, culture, sophistication and comfort. Check out their website for special seasonal packages and rates!
I’ve saved the best for last! If you are ready to book the ultimate, once-in-a-lifetime, dream vacation than look no further than The Rosewood Mayakoba located just south of Cancun in the Riviera Maya. Rated #1 by Conde Nast Travel and a slew of other top rated travel magazines, this property is like no other resort you have ever experienced. Click here to see video proof! Forget the typical high-rise hotel and envision 130 private suites connected by a series of lagoons over 1600 acres of pristine jungle, each suite containing it’s own private dock and plunge pool that you will arrive to by chauffeured boat! Sheer bliss. The staff is thoughtful and accommodating and made us feel like royalty during our stay. Celebrities like Kate Hudson, Tom Cruise and Leo DiCaprio have all discovered this privatized slice of heaven. While we were guests of the property, Jessica Alba was there as well with her family. Who knows who you might run into!? There are two bikes available at your front door to ride to breakfast or the ocean front infinity pool. With three fabulous restaurants, you’ll never need to leave the property during your stay. I had an amazing food tasting experience at The Agave Azul Sushi Restaurant and Tequila Bar. I’m pretty sure that I single-handedly cleaned them out of baked lobster hand rolls and “fresh & spicy margaritas” over the course of a week. And let’s be honest, booking a room with an outdoor garden shower is an amenity that should be on everyone’s bucket list at least once. From the private butler to a 90-minute outdoor massage in the world-renowned Sense Spa (located on a private island in the secluded jungle within the resort), they will need to call security to get you to leave!
I hope that wherever your travels take you in 2015, you experience the wonders of our world and make memories with loved ones that will last you a lifetime.
ABOUT LAURIE GRAHAM:
Laurie Graham is a sought after lifestyle and fashion expert who helps clients achieve their ultimate image goals through their own unique personality, lifestyle, body type and budget. Her clients range from Hollywood celebrities to TV hosts on the Travel Channel, Bravo and HGTV, to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and even corporate executives looking to update their personal and professional brand. Laurie also has a thriving corporate consulting business, speaking to corporations on the importance of projecting a polished personal style in the workplace. She is a seasoned TV host who has appeared on E! Entertainment, The Hallmark Channel, The CW, NBC, CBS, FOX and Luxury Explorer TV, as well as featured in publications like Redbook magazine, Glamour.com and Style.com. Learn more at http://www.lauriegrahamstyle.com