Friday, March 15, 2019

Baha Mar: The Best Resort In Nassau, Bahamas


Let me start off by saying, I have been to the Bahamas many times via many forms of travel (ie. cruises, airfare, hotels) and this was by far my favorite Bahamas trip to date. Baha Mar, a brand new luxurious mega-resort located on Nassau's Cable Beach is home to three iconic oceanfront hotels (Rosewood, SLS, Grand Hyatt). I had the pleasure of staying in the West Tower of Baha Mar's Grand Hyatt, a stylish and modern hotel perfect for a romantic getaway, a family beach trip, or a girls weekend getaway. 

GRAND HYATT HOTEL ROOMS

The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar offers 1800 guestrooms, including 230 suites, with a variety of view options including ocean, fountain, or island. I had the opportunity to experience both ocean and fountain views in the West tower, and naturally would highly recommend an ocean front room. I was extremely impressed with the cleanliness, decor, and overall setup of these rooms. Decor was up to date, modern, and super bright and airy - making me feel right at home! I also really appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into the bathroom lighting. As a female, being able to see what I'm doing easily in a giant bathroom mirror is important and extremely hard to find in most hotels. My room also came equipped with a spa like rain shower, which I know my husband would've loved! 

The only caveat to my room was that housekeeping did not clean until around 4:00 - 4:30 PM daily, and the cleaning is minimal. If this is important to you (I know some don't care about their room being cleaned at all), I think you could get around this by requesting an earlier cleaning time, and clean sheets daily or every other day. From my experience, the staff at Grand Hyatt was super friendly and accommodating - so I don't foresee a request of this nature being an issue. 



AMENITIES

There truly is something for everyone at this resort! All three properties are connected, and each hotel guest has complete access to all of Baha Mar. I experienced a 4 night, 5 day stay at the property, and still feel like I didn't see it all! Some of the most popular amenities include:
            • A flagship ESPA (spa)
            • Caribbeans largest casino
            • Luxury boutiques
            • Tennis Courts
            • Fitness Classes
            • Nightclubs
            • Jack Nicklaus 18-hole golf course
            • The Sanctuary 
            • Numerous restaurants and bars
            • Complimentary water rentals
            • 10 swimming pools


 


THE FOOD

The most important part of a hotel stay, am I right!? Baha Mar has over 30 restaurants, bars, and lounges to choose from ranging from quick casual bites to eat, to luxurious meals to remember. With that many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to pick! I love basing my choices off recommendations from other travelers, or locals on site at the resort as it usually proves to be good. Take note, I highly recommend making reservations for your entire stay prior to arriving. We were unaware of how booked everything would be, and had a little trouble being able to just walk into a restaurant without reservations prior to 9:30 PM. Here are my recommendations:
  • Cleo //  This was my favorite dinner spot! Here you will find traditional Mediterranean cuisine inclusive of Bahamian ingredients. It's super easy to eat healthy, the food was fresh and super flavorful, and if you like trying a ton of options - it's tapas style and perfect for sharing with friends or family. I also really liked the energy and vibe at Cleo! It's located in SLS and outfitted in white on white decor - very Miami. $$$$ ($100+ with alcohol)
  • Cafe Madeleine // Cafe Madeleine is a french bakery and coffee shop - perfect for a quick bite to eat in the mornings! This was recommended to us by the social media manager on site and it was a great recommendation on his part! There is a Starbucks on site, but the line anytime prior to 11:00 AM is a 30 minute wait. We opted to check out Cafe Madeiline instead, and ended up here every morning of the trip. Highly recommend the croissants! $$ ($20-$25)
  • Fi' Lia // Italian cuisine by James Beard Award-winning chef - Michael Schwartz. Fi'Lia hand makes their breads and pastas and the decor inside the restaurant is warm and inviting. $$$ ($50-$60)
  • Da Poke Bowl Shack // This is a fast casual shack near the beach serving fresh and healthy raw fish! We had this for lunch out on the beach one day and it was delicious and super quick. Another great healthy meal option if you're looking for that! $$ ($20-$25)
  • Umami Burger // Umami burger is located in a vibrant orange airstream right near the beach! We walked up barefoot looking for a simple bite to eat and were blown away by the grilled fish mini tacos! You must try them if you like Ahi Tuna! We were also told Umami has an amazing veggie burger that doesn't take like it's veggie. $$ ($20-$25)
  • SLS pool // We ate lunch poolside at the SLS pool one day and really enjoyed the salads and burgers here. You are able to order right from your chair and the food was fresh and delicious. $$ ($35-$50 with alcohol)
  • Room Service // Highly recommend checking out the super greens salad with chicken from room service if you're looking for a light, healthy, room service option! We ordered it several times, and could've eaten it daily! I also had an omelette for breakfast one morning, which did not disappoint. Do note, the wait times on room service can be over an hour, so call sooner rather than later, or schedule a time for delivery the night before. $$$ ($40-$50)
Overall, the food is fantastic. We tried several other places as well, but these were the ones that really stood out to me. Something worth noting, food and beverages at Baha Mar are very pricey. A VAT tax and general 15% service charge are added to the price of each meal - if you know this going into your vacation and aren't afraid to spend some money, you will no doubt eat like a king. However, if you are looking to save a little money here and there on food, I would recommend checking out all the air streamers and shacks near the beach (they are all delicious) over the indoor dining options. Dinners with alcohol run around $80-$100 per person, lunch was consistently in the $40-$50 range (with one alcoholic beverage), each cocktail runs around $22-$24 after the VAT tax and service charge, and I ate light breakfast meals from Starbucks or Cafe Madeleine with a coffee and pastry for around $20-$25 each morning. 


ACTIVITIES

Baha Mar truly caters to everyone! Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation, or an activity filled stay - the options are endless. Here are a few activities we checked out during our stay that I would recommend!

Espa is a full service resort spa, and the first flagship ESPA in the Caribbean. Services include massages, facials, mani/pedi's and complete body treatments. I experienced a manicure here which was fantastic! The decor is bright and serene, extremely clean, and the staff was super polite and friendly. We will be returning in December, and I'm making it a priority to checkout a massage and potentially a facial here. Will update this post with my thoughts once those services have been experienced!

This was one of the coolest activities I experienced! As you know, I'm big into health and wellness, and fitness is a priority to me no matter where I am in the world. This was my first time experiencing personal training on vacation, and I loved it! I had the pleasure of training with Tavette Darville, who was knowledgeable and passionate about fitness, and even had me trying exercises I've never tried before! I definitely felt like I got a great workout, and this is something I would consider doing again during our next visit. Tavette also mentioned PT can be purchased as a package of sessions, in singles, and you can split a session with your partner. So if you and your husband or significant other want to tackle training on vacation together, you can do so. 

I've become quite the yogi on vacation these days! We tried out a sunrise yoga session overlooking the ocean right outside of ESPA Spa together with instructor Alexis Bethel. In all honesty, I wasn't looking forward to that 6:00 AM wake up call - however, Alexis was the best yoga instructor I've ever practiced with which made the early morning 100% worth it. If you're into yoga, and want a phenomenal practice - this was super peaceful, relaxing, and totally worthwhile. 

If you're a curious nature lover, this ones for you! The Sanctuary offers hands on animal encounters with sting rays, sharks, and sea turtles as well as daily feedings, while educating guests about the species, and preservation of their environment in the Bahamas. This is a great activity for all ages, however, I think this would be absolutely perfect for families with kids. Encounters run $65, while feedings happen twice daily and are free of cost. 

If you're an early riser, the waters on Cable Beach are calm and serene - a perfect environment for a little paddle boarding before the hustle and bustle of beach goers begins. Boards can easily be rented right off the beach free of charge, and if you're lucky - you may even spot a wild sting ray in the water! 




 Overall, I really enjoyed my time here and cannot wait to come back! Many of you have asked me for recommendations on which property is best for the vacation type you are seeking and here are my thoughts: If you are a family or anyone looking for a more budget friendly option, I would recommend the Grand Hyatt. Those seeking a more trendy, Vegas/Miami feel to their trip like Bachelor or Bachelorette parties, I would suggest SLS. Those coming on a honeymoon, babymoon, or anniversary trip and seeking a more quiet, luxurious and laid back atmosphere - Rosewood is your best bet (although it is expensive). No matter what option you pick, you really can't go wrong!

SHOP THE POST:



* In partnership with Baha Mar. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, March 11, 2019

My Goals, Personal and Professional






Last week, I polled all of you with a series of questions on Instagram Stories in the hopes it would help me get to know you better. I asked you all what topics you wished you knew more about, and I was surprised to see many of you responded with curiosity surrounding my goals,  both personal and professional. 

As a Millenial in my late twenties with no kids, I often find myself dreaming really big. I've always been a big dreamer, creative, self motivated and I crave challenge. Because of this, I set little and big goals that I feel are attainable to help hold myself accountable over time. With that said, I also set check points to see where I am in terms of those goals. Sometimes strategies need to be altered, and other times I'm right in line with what I thought I was capable of. It is definitely fair to say that I'm really hard on myself. I am by far my own worst critic, and constantly crave being the best version of myself. I feel a lot of pressure to constantly be going, seeing, doing, growing etc. and sometimes that can take a toll on what's actually important in life, like family, friends, sleep, skincare etc. So with that said, you will see my personal and professional goals reflect a balance between the two, something I am still very much working on. 

_________________________________________________________________________________

My Personal Goals

  • Fitness // I think my biggest personal goal this year is around fitness. I've written several posts about fitness and what it means to me over the years (you can find some of them here), but I've never really reached my ideal level of fitness. I came really close in 2017 when I was training for our wedding, and while I felt the most confident I had ever felt during that time, I still wasn't "perfect". I put the word perfect in quotations because everyone's version of perfect is different, and I'm 100% positive there are people out there who think I'm crazy for even saying this - but, to each their own. I don't place all too much emphasis on numbers on a scale, but I do have a vision in my head of what my ideal body looks and feels like - and that's what I'm working towards this year. And if you're wondering: why do I care so much? Valid question. I believe that self love is the core of wellness. Fitness is more than just physical to me, it's healthy, its confidence in my own skin, it's consistency, its happiness from a mental standpoint, it's a coping mechanism for stress, and so much more. 
  • Work Life Balance // The biggest caveat to full time blogging is the fact that it's 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. I haven't taken an actual vacation free of social media in three years - including my own honeymoon. I feel a great deal of pressure to constantly create, answer emails, read contracts, post pictures, engage with my following, edit photos, write blog posts, and upload Instagram Stories. With the ever changing Instagram algorithm and the hustle and bustle of all that goes into this job, taking true quality time off seems impossible, and I fear falling behind or hurting my business if I do so. But in all reality, I know I need time off. I know I need a mental break from it all in order to continue at this pace. I crave uninterrupted time off with my husband, not caring about my hair or makeup for the day because I know I have to take photos, time with my mom just enjoying each others company. It's so hard to separate this job from life at home because this job is sharing life at home. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and I feel so very blessed to get to wake up and do what I love daily -- but I know my body is telling me it's time to slow down, and take a break. So another personal goal of mine this year, is to truly separate work trips from personal trips, and use personal trips to re-center myself, relax, unwind, and come up for air so that I can continue to create and inspire in an organic way.
  • Spend less time on those who don't matter // Last year, for the first time in my life, I felt the need to get rid of anyone and anything that wasn't lifting me up. I'm one of the happiest people you will ever meet, and the name of this blog is representative of just that. However, I ran across a couple people who tried to "dim my light" so to speak. You see, there are people in the blogging industry who befriend you in the name of getting ahead. As a natural giver who only tries to see the positive in everybody, it was easy to look through my fingers at the in genuine behaviors for a period of time because "#networking". People see your followers, the community you've built, and your brand network as an easy wave they can ride for their own social gain. So, I've been burned a few times and I've learned my lesson from it. I'm happiest when I'm surrounded by the 7 girls I've always called my best friends. The girls who don't care about how many followers you have, how many likes the last photo got, what city we are in, what you're wearing etc. because your company and the good times to be had are all that matter to them. It's exhausting when your entire life is consumed by blogging, and in a way - these girls humanize me and let me remember what life is like outside of social media. I'm a firm believer that every relationship comes with deposits and withdrawals, and you should always be depositing more than you are withdrawing. So alongside my husband and my immediate family, these are the people I will be placing my "deposits" in this year - because they do the same for me, time and time again. 

_________________________________________________________________________________

My Professional Goals

  • Span into video content regularly // I'm really pushing myself this year to step outside of my comfort zone and provide my audience with more video. This has been a request from many of you over the last year or more, and it's something I want to be able to deliver on. Topics I hope to cover extensively are travel vlogs, beauty tips and tricks that work for me like skincare and makeup application, healthy eating and recipes, and all things fitness. So, with that said - I recently launched my YouTube channel with a "What I Eat In A Day" video and would love for you to subscribe to it here. By subscribing, you will be the first to know when a new video has been posted! Your support, feedback, and encouragement in this space means more to me than anything -- it helps fuel my fire, and motivation to continue to create. 
  • Start a podcast // I have no idea if this is an attainable goal for 2019, but it is 100% a long term goal of mine. I am completely enamored by the podcasts I listen to regularly, and constantly have so many meaningful conversations with friends, family, and strangers alike that I wish I could have recorded for you to hear. I love the power of a podcast, and the ability to listen to it while driving to work, working out, putting on your makeup etc. 
  • Connect with you on a more meaningful level // I was a psychology major in college, and my passion for helping others via my own life lessons started with an internship in counseling. While the medical field wasn't the perfect medium for this, my blog was. The idea to start this journey began with the desire to talk about my own mistakes, life lessons, tips and tricks, etc. for women to read and share around the world in the hopes it would highlight or provide helpful advice to those seeking it. As my business evolved, I also started noticing a huge lack in genuine women empowerment - especially amongst the blogging community. So this year, my focus is to bring you more than just outfits. I want to talk about real life struggles, insecurities, and things that truly impact your day beyond the cute outfit. Let's peel back the layers, get to know each other, and create a community where we feel safe, beautiful, and uplifted from what society wants us to believe and perceive as "normal". 

SHOP THE POST:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

I stopped taking Birth Control, here's what happened.







You might find this an odd topic to talk about, and maybe it's not for you - that's okay! The reason I'm writing about this today is because I found a lack of transparency on this topic from people I find relatable, people that are in this same season of life as me. Maybe because some find it taboo to talk about, but I know if I'm searching the Internet for transparency and answers - others are too. 

Last August I decided that it was time to give my body a break from birth control. My original Gynecologist retired several years ago, and to be honest - I haven't really found another one that I trusted and felt as comfortable with as him. I'm a firm believer in referrals, and checked out a recommended woman amongst my girlfriends but, I kind of felt like they were shuffling patients in and out as fast as possible and billing for anything and everything they could. As I entered my late twenties, I started having chronic headaches and said Gyno thought this could be attributed to the type of birth control I was on. So, we entered down a rabbit hole of trying one after another and nothing seemed to be sitting well with my body. Yes, my headaches were better, but I started grinding my teeth at night so badly that I would wake up and my temples were sore from clenching down on my jaw all night. It just didn't seem worth it anymore. At this point, I expressed my frustrations to her and she recommended just removing birth control all together. Shane and I had never entertained doing this as we didn't feel ready for kids yet - but I did like to idea of just giving myself a break and letting my body naturalize back to its normal state. 

So, this is what I did. However, no one told me what the side effects of doing this would be. Some are amazing, and some are very frustrating. Here are the biggest changes I noticed:

PMS

ON BIRTH CONTROL

For years, I always experienced PMS and PMDD pretty negatively. My emotions were all over the place about a week prior to my menstrual cycle and no matter what I did, nothing seemed to be able to help that. I was mostly emotional for no reason, at times irrational, and super sensitive during this time. 

OFF BIRTH CONTROL

I feel like a million bucks where as this is concerned! I can't even begin to explain how much better I feel. I still get a little emotional leading up to my menstrual cycle, but not nearly like I used too. The PMDD seems to be gone completely, and the PMS seems minor compared to years on an emotional roller coaster ride during this time. I will say, the bloating and cramps are definitely worse and very uncomfortable but it's short lived (usually a day or two). 

MY SKIN

ON BIRTH CONTROL

Clear as day! I have always had super clear skin, and no problems with acne or breakouts. Even prior to birth control, I always had clear skin as a teenager - I feel very blessed for that. 

OFF BIRTH CONTROL

Girl, this is the worst side effect of stopping the pill. No one told me my skin would break out! Even if someone had told me that, I also probably would not have believed it would happen to me since I've never had skin issues. My skin started breaking out about a month or two after stopping the pill. It breaks out in the same spot every month (my chin), which is driving me bonkers! From what I've read, my skin should start to balance itself out, but it can take 6-8 months from the time the break outs started. I'm hoping this is true - but in the meantime, I'm taking every skincare precaution and step I possibly can to keep the breakouts under control (see my latest skincare post here). The second side effect I've noticed: I have always had bone dry skin - for years. When the breakouts started happening, I noticed my skin all of a sudden was much oilier than normal. This is also apparently (according to Internet sources) very common when stopping the pill. Oily skin also equals more breakouts - so they go hand in hand. 

WEIGHT

ON BIRTH CONTROL

Like most women, when I got on birth control I gained a little weight. It's a common side effect of starting the pill, but nothing alarming. I'm a very active and health conscious person, so it wasn't something that bothered me too much. 

OFF BIRTH CONTROL

I lost weight! However, I should state that I have no idea if getting off birth control is the cause of losing weight. It's simply a correlation I noticed timing wise. As mentioned above, I eat really healthy and workout regularly 6 days a week. My weight can fluctuate 3-5 lbs on any given day (I track it with my Fitbit app and the Fitbit bluetooth scale), however about a couple months after stopping the pill, I lost about 5 lbs total. 


Overall, I feel a lot better. Being that I am in front of a camera regularly, on stories etc. the skin issue does really bother me but I am hopeful it will clear up within the next couple months. Anyway, I felt like sharing my experience could be beneficial in preventative measures for those of you who are thinking about stopping the pill in the future, and am simply putting this out there in light of my own search for people with similar experiences. I wish someone would have warned me about some of the side effects so that I could have been better prepared. 

SHOP THE POST:


Monday, February 11, 2019

Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa Review


Good morning! Today I'm giving you the low down on my recent stay with Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa in Jensen Beach, Florida! It's no secret I love a good warm weather vacation, but this one topped the charts in the relaxation category. Hutchinson Shores is the first hotel to be built on Hutchinson Island in 20 years! Opening it's doors in 2017, this resort had one thing in mind - an exclusive experience you can't find anywhere else on the island. 


THE ROOMS

The hotel offers 178 luxurious coastal inspired rooms and suites with a range of view types. Our room included an oceanfront view of the Atlantic with panoramic windows opening onto a lanai that was perfect for enjoying my morning coffee and the breathtaking sunrises this little slice of paradise offers. We even spotted a few dolphins who were out to play! Rooms are outfitted with modern amenities, marble counter tops, amazing bathroom lighting (would I even be a blogger if I didn't mention that?), walk in showers, and the cutest little porthole that blends perfectly with the hotels beachy theme. I was super impressed with the "newness" of the rooms furnishings, and the comfort level of the beds!

DINING

Hutchinson Shores offers three different dining experiences that all embody the barefoot theme of their beachfront setting.  I personally had the opportunity to try out two of the three options and honestly cannot rave about the food enough! I know I've said it before, but food truly makes or breaks a trip for me and Hutchinson Shores Resort truly puts quality at the forefront of their brand. 

DRIFT KITCHEN + BAR 

This is the resorts signature dining experience. It's an ocean front restaurant that offers high end seafood and Italian specialties. The decor at Drift is absolutely stunning! It's bright, airy, modern in design, and offers a variety of seating options allowing guests to enjoy their meal however they please. I tried a variety of foods here from Ahi Tuna, to my own personal pizza, and I cannot go without mentioning the most delicious salted caramel ice cream I've ever tasted - highly recommend testing out all the deserts. Drift also makes all their pasta in-house! Something else worth noting is that Drift has a stunning private dining room for events! If you're traveling together with a group, this space is perfect for a more intimate setting! Whether you're a craft cocktail lover or a premium craft beer connoisseur, this restaurant has something for everyone. They truly thought of everything.





DUNE BEACH BAR

This is the perfect spot to grab a cocktail and hit the beach, or watch the sunset over drinks with your significant other before dinner. It has a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean, and if you're asking me for drink recommendations, the Mudslide did not disappoint. 


ACTIVITIES

There is so much to do and see at the resort and on the island! If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Miami and trade in beer cans for craft cocktails, and traditional hotel rooms for modern luxury - you're headed to the right place! Hutchinson Shores Resort is located in a secluded setting on Jensen Beach (just north of Palm Beach) and is just a short drive away from other local attractions. Activities range from sunrise yoga, to deep sea fishing, exploring the areas lush golf courses, paddle board adventures, the pool, beach, festivals, and shopping in downtown Stuart. 




SPA

A relaxing vacation wouldn't be complete without the spa! Hutchinson Shores Spa offers signature massages, facials, ocean-inspired body treatments, makeup services and more. I had the opportunity to try out a hot stone massage myself, and immediately felt the built up tension from working out and hauling luggage around melt away. It's the perfect set up for a girls day, bachelorette, or to simply unwind and relax. 

And just like that, my first review of 2019 is complete! Overall, this is an amazing place to vacation. If you're looking for a calm and relaxing girls weekend, a babymoon location, a weekend away with your significant other, or a great spot for corporate events - I can't recommend this property enough. There is truly something for everyone here! If you're interested in seeing a little more about this trip, check out our short vlog of the trip on IGTV here

SHOP THE POST:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

4 Binge Worthy TV Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime










This may sound very simple, but one of my favorite things to do together with Shane is find a binge worthy show. It forces me to put the phone down at night, and it gives us quality time and a common interest to look forward to on a regular basis. Recently we've had a ton of luck with several different series we just simply cannot stop watching. As soon as we've finished one, we're always asking around for the next best show to watch - so with that being said, I thought it might be helpful to you guys to chat about the four most recent shows we've binged on and a little about each! I'm ranking them in order of how much we liked them - here we go! 

1. Power // Available on Starz, Amazon Prime, and Hulu 

Hands down, best show we've ever watched! This series originally aired in 2014 and has 5 seasons of episodes available to watch (season 6 airs this July). Power is an American drama series that tells the story of a New York based drug dealer who wants out of his deep seeded life to pursue a legitimate business. Without giving too much away, each episode has you on the edge of your seat and we simply could not turn it off. It's regularly one of Starz's most watched series, and arguably the best written show of all time (in my opinion). 

2. Bodyguard // Netflix Original Series

A new drama series originally released in 2018, Bodyguard is the story of an ex-military vet who fought in the Middle East and prevents a suicide bomber from blowing up a train in London. In light of his heroic act, he's promoted to a bodyguard position for a high profile politician. This is yet another action packed series that leaves you hanging at the end of each episode! There's only one season so far, but I'm hoping they will continue this series, because like Power, we couldn't get enough! 

3. Dirty John // Available on Bravo, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu and Google Play

This has been my latest television binge! I first heard about Dirty John on a podcast where they interviewed one of the daughters who this story is based on. So yes, it's based on true events which makes this show even more interesting! Debra, the main character of this series seems to have it all - she's beautiful, successful, family oriented, and lives in Newport Beach, California. The only thing missing in her life is love, which ends up being the background for this entire series. I have two episodes left to go, but can hardly wait to see the ending. A little tip, the first episode is really slow - I actually asked my audience for their opinion, and all said to keep watching which was definitely the right move!

4. Siesta Key // Available on MTV and Amazon Prime

Siesta Key is an American Reality Television Series based in you guessed it -- Siesta Key, Florida. To be honest, I was shocked we liked this show as much as we did but there's just something about watching a group of privileged 20 year olds subject themselves to drama, scandalous love scenes, and heartbreak. It originally aired in 2017, and after a wildly successful start, MTV ordered 8 more episodes to be added on to season one. Season two airs tonight! 

SHOP THE POST:

 

site design by kiki and co.