The Venetian and Palazzo Resorts

The Venetian and Palazzo Resorts are currently my favorite on the Las Vegas strip! This self-contained resort is my favorite for gambling, shopping, dining, spa, pools, and sleeping accommodations.  This visit, I tried a bit of everything.

We arrived on a non-sports event evening and immediately found a quiet table at Lagasee’s Stadium for Po’Boys and BBQ Pork sandwiches.  Delicious comfort/bar food in massive portions.  Any evening with some sort of sport event this place is jam-packed and expensive due to set spending requirements for the privilege of sitting at a table.  So we were lucky to have the place (mostly) to ourselves.

Palazzo Suite Living Room
Palazzo Suite Living Room

The rest of our group arrived for Girls’ weekend in Vegas and we checked into our adjoining suites.  Connected through the bottom few floors, the Palazzo and Venetian hotel suites are almost identical.  Palazzo Suite2They each have the slightly sunken living room area and the same bathroom layout.  We just happen to be on the Palazzo side of the resort.

Our first evening, we walked across the pedestrian bridge to Treasure Island and only stayed a few hours.  The air filters are not as efficient as some of the more upscale resorts and the smoker smell was starting to give me a headache.  It was the only time we left the Venetian/Palazzo property the entire visit.

View of the pools from our room
View of the pools from our room

The Venetain and Palazzo share everything, Grazie loyaltly program, restaurant row, and the pools – where we spent our days.  There are various options for pool depth, view, and nearby cabanas (daily rental).  Palazzo Pool3 Palazzo Pool2 Palazzo Pool1


venetian GCAfter the pool there is plenty of entertainment at the Grand Canal Shoppes, where the water filled streets of Venice are recreated complete with Gondolas.  There are plenty of casual and not-so casual dining options with canal views and even more “above ground” choices without leaving the property.

OpenTable is my favorite way to check availability, reviews, menus, and reserve a table.  For a table of 5 of a Friday night, OpenTable suggested Morels french steakhouse & Morels Taste1bistro.  We were seated looking at an enormous wine wall and cheese bar.  With so many scrumptious options, I went Morelsstraight for the 4 course tasting menu.  Crab appetizer, salad, steak dinner, and dessert  – plenty to share.  As expected, the steak was cooked to perfection and served in a tangy Morels Steaksauce.  My dinner finished with a proper french cream filled pastry and side of hot chocolate sauce.  However, my friend hit the dessert jackpot with the pistachio souffle!  WOW.

Table 10Table 10 offers a choose-your-own style tasting menu, of 2 or 3 options for each course.  Rather than picking one of the typical salad options, I could not resist the summer sweet pea soup with creme fraiche.  It was rich, frothy, and light all at the same time, and my favorite course of the evening.  The bar was packed during happy hour, then cleared out for an hour sweet spot before the dinner crowd started to arrive.  The kitchen view bar seating looks like a great option for solo dining.

There are new restaurants in the Venetian/Palazzo corridor opening this fall, in addition to the established dining options, it is a great excuse to try something new.  Which I think is the other motto for Las Vegas.

We rounded out our sleeping, shopping, spa retreat, pool lounging, and eating vacation with a bit of gambling. It was a fantastic little break for quality time with the girls!

L’Auberge de Sedona

Oak Creek
Oak Creek

Sedona, Arizona is a little town that has made a big splash.  The unique red rocks and perfect weather ensure that Sedona would not be a secret for very long, and sure enough by the 1980’s Sedona hit the big time for tourist destinations.

Do not let this prevent you from a visit, off-peak travel is highly recommended here (skip the high traffic summer season and certain times in the spring).

I started going to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon years before L’Auberge was built in 1983, but this was my first stay at the luxurious 4 star resort.  We stayed in one of the Garden Cottages just a few feet from the Creek side Cottages and, of course, the creek.

Dogs are allowed, for a small nightly fee, in the Garden Cottages and all around the property.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by a customized treat bag waiting for us in the room. Dog treatL’Auberge is one of the most dog friendly places that I have ever visited!

My recent trip to Manhattan helped to prepare me for the price tag of my stay at L’Auberge in Sedona, Arizona.  This is not a low-cost get-a-way, so be ready to spend a bit of cash.  Even the dump hotels in Sedona are overpriced, so if you are planning to stay in Sedona, spend a tad more and stay at L’Auberge or one of the other luxury resort/hotels.

Garden Cottage
Garden Cottage Room
Garden Cottage Bathroom
Garden Cottage Bathroom

Watching the ducks

The main attraction for me was peace and quiet.  My dog and I walked down by the creek every morning, and sat and watched the ducks play.  Each morning there are assorted pastries and coffee for breakfast in the lobby bar, with a view.

The Ducks

There are areas around the resort for short walks, and great hiking nearby.

It is a short, steep walk up to the 89A highway for shopping, dining, wine tasting, and organized tours.  The resort also offers included shuttle service, which is a life saver in the dark!

My favorite meals on-site at the resort were on the creek side patio.  Offering a great wine selection and delicious menu with a spectacular view.

L’Auberge has a good restaurant on-site, be sure to make reservations ahead of time.  For the value, I prefer the restaurants off-site from the resort.



There is a heated salt water pool and large hot tub in a secluded area next to the day spa.  All along the creek there are quiet spots to kick up your feet and relax.

Overall L’Auberge is a nice relaxing vacation, especially with the dog.  It is the best luxury resort in Sedona and Northern Arizona.

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Carlsbad

Aviara Family pool
Aviara Family pool

A welcome retreat this year for me is the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California.  Right on the edge of the drive versus fly decision from Phoenix, San Diego, California is a quick trip.  When it is just too darn hot, California is close by.  The November trip is our third visit to Carlsbad this year, each was a long-weekend out of town.

The Aviara is a luxury resort with an amazing spa, great restaurants, good family pool, and a 21 and over adult tranquility pool where we spend most of our time. Continue reading “Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Carlsbad”

Luxurious Spa Avania in Hyatt Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona

This time of year can be stressful, we are in a rush to finish projects before year-end, family travelling or just providing the extra “drama” to the day, crowds and traffic for holiday shopping, and many other unpleasant activities.  If you are looking for a great way to relax and recoup your energy, then book an appointment at Spa Avania at Hyatt Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale!  Also a great present if you want to give the gift of relaxing.  The spa offers Arizona residents discounts on certain services, and it is a beautiful resort for our out-of-town visitors (or locals that need a staycation).

Spa Avania gift certificates were part of my Birthday present this year, and today I needed a facial!  Previously, I enjoyed the best deep tissue massage of my life here and the facial was pretty darn good, too.

Spa Avania entrance, Resort lobby to the left
Spa Avania entrance, Resort lobby to the left

Updated August 2015 – During an amazing day of group pool time, eating, and treatments here, several friends commented that it is difficult to find the spa.  Spa Avania and the mineral pool (pictured below) are located in a stand alone building, southeast from the lobby across from the front parking area. Continue reading “Luxurious Spa Avania in Hyatt Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona”

Arizona Inn | Tucson’s Best Boutique Hotel

The idea for this blog originates while my Sister and I were lounging by the pool at Tucson’s Arizona Inn. Discussions turned to the “what are some fun activities around here?” from several Canadian families visiting, as well as the pool staff who were new to Arizona. We mentioned some of our favorite sights and activities for the area, which grew into all of the cool things “off the beaten path” in the Wild West! My Sister and I started a short list of things close by, and as we relaxed our definition of “close by” the list grew to several pages long. Several months have passed and the list just keeps growing.

It is only appropriate that I start off with Arizona Inn, where the spark began! Arizona Inn is a gem hidden away in the heart of Tucson, Arizona just minutes away from University of Arizona.

Arizona Inn interior room

The 1930’s resort has a vintage Hollywood style from the immaculate grounds for croquet to the classic swimming pool. The casita-style rooms have a simple charm for the ultimate relaxing vacation. Many of the rooms have a private patio for total seclusion.

Arizona Inn hotel room Patio
Arizona Inn hotel room Patio

This little hide-away is perfect for a mid-week break, or to celebrate that special anniversary.  Room rates are reduced in summer for a great price and tons of seclusion!  Any time of year, Arizona Inn is wonderful.

Arizona Inn Pool

 During Summer, the Inn provides an Ice Cream Sundae bar pool side. They offer a variety of flavors, hot fudge & syrups, nuts, sprinkles, and a wide assortment of toppings. There is nothing more decadent than eating a custom made Ice Cream concoction by the pool!

Lovely Summer day at the Arizona Inn Boutique Hotel of Tucson, Arizona
Arizona Inn