Wednesday, June 12, 2019

2019 Bermuda Travel Guide: Where To Eat, Sleep, and Play

Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama! My love for Bermuda started back in 2010 when I took my first trip there on a cruise with my dad. I loved that cruise because it stopped in two locations and stayed over night at each, so unlike most cruises, you had a lot more time to explore the surroundings. So when the opportunity to go back to Bermuda arose 9 years later, I was thrilled.

How To Get There

Most people don't know this, but Bermuda is actually just off the coast of the Carolina's. If you're flying from the East Coast, it's about a 2.5 hour flight time from most major East Coast cities. I was able to find direct flights out of Atlanta, New York City, Boston, Miami, and one out of Charlotte only on Saturdays. Flight costs vary anywhere from $320 - $800 on average depending on when and where you're flying from. If you're booking far enough in advance, you can find deals on the lower end of that spectrum. 

Where To Stay

Hamilton Princess & Beach Club

The Pink Palace, otherwise known as Hamilton Princess & Beach Club to the rest of the world, was built in 1885 and renovated in 2014. This hotel is conveniently located just a short walking distance away from Front Street, which is a waterfront promenade with shops and restaurants in the heart of town. This area is really fun and lively! If you're around on a Wednesday, check out their festival with Gombey dancers and street food.

The Rooms

We had a Signature Harbor view room in the Fairmont Gold wing with two double beds. One of the best perks of this room was the huge balcony overlooking the marina! It was so nice to sit out there and have coffee or breakfast and listen to the birds chirp in the mornings. The beds were pillowy and comfortable, and the bathroom was marble. Bermuda is a British owned island, so the size of the bathroom is indicative of something you would have in Europe. Our room also included a Nespresso machine, and a walk-in closet with shelving units. 

The amenities at this hotel are fabulous! Most of you know that getting to the gym daily is a priority for me, even on vacation. However, most hotel gyms lack the comfort of your home gym. Not this one! They had tons of cardio equipment, weights, and they even offer Barre classes! Perhaps my favorite amenity though, was the private Princess Beach Club. The hotel offers a shuttle that takes you to and from the private beach, which is about a 20 minute ride away. Once you get there, you're immediately greeted by a happy hotel employee who explains that you are free to pick whatever chair you want, shows you where the changing rooms are (which are really nice), towels etc. and as soon as you sit down, someone is there to take your drink order. They also have buttons attached to the umbrellas, so if you need service but don't see your server, you just press the button and they arrive! The beach is also equipped with several hammocks that are both in and out of the water - so relaxing! We had lunch here two days in a row, and the food is fantastic too.

The Food

The Food at Hamilton Princess & Bermuda is amazing! We had the Fairmont Gold package added onto our stay which gave us access to a lounge on the 2nd floor of our wing that included a healthy continental breakfast, canapes, desserts, tea time, and an honor bar.  This was so handy when we just wanted a snack, or to walk over in our PJ's for breakfast (they offer to-go boxes too). We also had dinner at Marcus, located on the property, which is a restaurant spear headed by internationally acclaimed chef - Marcus Samuellson. We took our waiter up on his recommendation of the local catch of the day, which they get straight off the dock right outside of the restaurant. It was delicious! Try the chicken & waffles, cornbread, and tuna to start as well!

Other restaurants worth noting

I always like to experience restaurants off property in addition to the hotel options to get the full experience of whatever country we are visiting. Below are a couple we tried for dinner and recommend! They came highly recommended to us, and I see why.

Ocean Club // We had dinner here our first night in town. It's about a 20 minute ride from the hotel (close to the hotels beach club), but worth every penny of the taxi fare. The restaurant sits right on the water with spectacular views of the ocean. Tables are candlelit and the setting is so romantic if you're looking to visit with a significant other. The food was also delicious! Again, I opted for the locally caught fish special which in this case was Koni - highly recommend.

Mickeys Beach Bistro & Bar // We visited Mickeys on our last night for dinner! It's about 10 minutes from the hotel, and an Italian spot! The hospitality here was amazing. Our waiter was so friendly, the staff was around the pick up plates immediately so they weren't in the way, and the general manager also paid us a visit to make sure everything was on par. I obviously can't go without mentioning the food, but it's worth the visit! I always ask what the waiter recommends and typically opt for that while traveling, and on this trip it was seafood everywhere we went (no surprise since it's an island)! The Wahoo was fantastic. Super light, healthy, and not overly seasoned - it's a simple dish, but the freshness speaks for itself.

Other Activities In The Area

If you're like me and married to someone who can't sit still on a beach for longer than 20 minutes, don't fret - Bermuda has tons to offer. Below are a list of activities I would recommend checking out. 

Overall, I left my trip with the exact same feelings about Bermuda as 9 years ago - I can't wait to go back! It ranks in the top 3 island destinations for me, and I'm hoping my next trip will be together with Shane so he can enjoy the beauty of this magical place too. It's clean, the locals take great care and pride in their country, the food is fantastic, the hospitality is wonderful, and there's an array of activities to choose from. 

*In partnership with Hamilton Princess & Beach Club. As always, all opinions are my own.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Best Healthy Places To Eat In Charlotte

It's 11:25AM and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel... lunch time! You have exactly one hour to walk somewhere, grab lunch, eat it, and get back to the office - but for some reason you're drawing a serious blank on where to go. Think Vanessa, think! This was me the entire year prior to my wedding. I worked in corporate America in Uptown, where part of my job was to take clients to lunch This could easily end up demolishing my entire days worth of calories in one sitting if I wasn't strategic, and so my master list of healthy food options in the city was born.  

I keep a list of all my favorite healthy eats around the city in a note on my phone. Whenever I'm in a bind on where to go, I just refer back to it and pick a place. It has totally changed the game for me when it comes to staying on track without giving up the freedom to eat out. 

Please note, I am not a nutritionist or dietitian - these are just places that I have found to have healthier options to choose from. I am not scared to ask questions about ingredients, or remove ingredients from a dish in the name of making it healthier which you will find in my recommendations below. 

Favorite Healthy Juice/Coffee Bars

Clean Juice // Probably my most frequented location on this list. Order the Hardcore (I add an apple and ginger), avocado toast on gluten free bread, or the Popeye bowl.

Not Just Coffee // Great spot to sit and work if you work from home! I usually go here for organic coffee and tea but the food is great too (Dilworth location does food, South End does not).

Fast Casual Restaurants 

Yafo // Their motto is honest and authentic. I typically build my own bowl here consisting of half salad, half rice, hummus, tomato and cucumber salad, a little feta, avocado, chicken and light tahini.

Chopt // While I haven't tried their new warm bowls, they look like something to be excited about! I typically go with the Santa Fe salad here, I remove the crispy shallots and get the dressing on the side or just ask for lemon juice as my dressing. Add chicken for protein. 

Little Spoon // Great spot for the healthy, and unhealthy. We like to brunch, and hubby doesn't usually want "healthy," but I do - so this cafe is perfect for us. I would recommend checking out the Chopped, Porridge, Avocado Toast, Egg White Raft, or omelette if trying to be healthy.

Whole Foods // America's healthiest grocery store! We like the hot bar here. I especially enjoy the fact that they cater heavily to paleo, gluten free diets. If you're not in the mood to cook or in a hurry - this is a safe bet.

B.Good // Food with roots! I haven't been here in awhile but like the Power Bowl. All of the salads look fantastic.

Crunch Bistro // Have to give kudos to Shane for finding this one. It's around the corner from his office (although they have multiple locations) and we enjoy the Cilantro Chicken Quinoa bowl. I always ask for the dressing on the side and 98% of the time don't even need it. 

Sit Down Restaurants 

Essex Bar & Bistro // The food is so good here, especially dinner. My go to healthy meal selection is from their lunch menu. It's a warm Brussel Sprout Caesar salad and I opt for dressing on the side. 

Soul Gastrolounge // This is another easy to be not healthy spot if you're with someone who doesn't care about that. Great date night location, the Nigiri or Sashimi is going to be your healthiest option. All the sushi is fantastic.

Suffolk Punch // They care about their ingredients. Opt for the Mixed Greens Salad or NC Shrimp dish.

The Manchester // This is a new spot in Charlotte. We had a great experience here with the food! Lots of great salad options which I haven't had a chance to experiment around with yet. But, highly recommend the Baby Spinach and Fried Goat Cheese salad. Yes, the fried part of the goat cheese isn't the best for you - but you can ask for the goat cheese not fried. 

Roosters // Roosters is a classic in Charlotte in my opinion. The Joyce Farms Chicken, corn and spinach are a healthy option. If you're visiting at lunch check out what their Chicken Bowl is, or opt for one of the salads with chicken.

Bentleys on 27 // This is definitely a fine dining experience and a bit of a splurge. I took my clients here for lunch often and the views are amazing! Love the Tuna Nicoise Salad which runs around $18 - not too bad for great quality tuna.

Oku // Hands down my favorite sushi spot in town. They source lots of their ingredients from local farmers and fishermen and I've never had a bad experience yet. Highly recommend the Spiced Chili Edamame, Yellowtail Carpaccio, and any of the sushi rolls (although not healthy, the potato roll is most popular). Opt for the salmon and lemon roll if you're looking for something light, healthy, and refreshing.

PS: These photos are from our trip to the Foundry in Asheville. 


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Top Things To Do in Panama City Beach, Florida

This was my first time visiting Panama City Beach proper, and I've gotta credit Visit PCB for a killer itinerary. Our entire trip was so thoughtfully put together, I couldn't wait to share it with you! From the activities and adventures we experienced, to the restaurants we ate at - it was the perfect schedule of events. If you are planning a trip here in the near future, bookmark this page to refer back too - I promise you will not be disappointed.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably well aware that Panama City Beach was affected by hurricane Michael a little over 6 months ago. Media coverage around this area is more important now than ever as travel and tourism was obviously affected by this natural disaster. Having been a kid in Orlando, Florida during 2004 - one of the Atlantic's worst hurricane seasons to date, this hits near and dear to my heart. I've lived through those disasters first hand, and know it takes an army to rebuild. While I realize many are still awaiting disaster recovery in the Panama City and Mexico Beach area, from a tourism standpoint - I am here to say, go visit Panama City Beach (Bay County's tourism corridor). Tourism is a critical part of this city's economy, and will help drive recovery efforts while also providing jobs for Bay County residents. 


Splash 1202 West

We stayed in a beachfront vacation condo this trip! While I love hotels, there's something so nice about having a full size refrigerator and kitchen at your convenience - especially on a beach vacation or if you're traveling with family or a larger group in general. The location of this condo is directly on the beach with panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. The beds were super comfortable, and we each (Katie and I) had our own full sized bathroom (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms). It's also located just two miles from Pier Park, which is a wildly popular shopping center with restaurants, a Sky Wheel, large pier, and most importantly - a Starbucks. 



  • Andy's Flour Power // Casual cafe and bakery with fresh pastry items. I just ordered my usual eggs and avocado here but the options are endless and service is fast!
  • Thomas' Donut & Snack Shop // Famous for their donuts - we went back twice! Try the Morning Glory muffin if you're not a donut fan.
  • Gypsea Crepes // Tons of sweet and savory crepe options, made fresh to order. 


  • Beau's // Casual southern BBQ.


  • The Grand Marlin // So good! Relaxed atmosphere with pretty views of the water. Highly recommend the lobster fingers and fresh caught Swordfish!
  • Firefly // Also really good! I loved the atmosphere here. Wide selection of seafood, sushi, and steak. Highly recommend the Grouper dish and trying out the sushi.
  • Schooners Last Local Beach Club // An unexpected surprise! Don't be fooled by the outside, the food is outstanding here! It's super casual, but the live music (on Wednesdays all summer long) alone was worth the stay! Again, highly recommend the Grouper. 


  • Jet Ski Adventure Tour via Lagoon Pontoons // If you enjoy jet skiing and dolphins, this is a must! We had an absolute blast. If you're not a big fan of jet ski's, they also offer pontoon rentals and tours that take you to Shell island which is absolutely stunning - highly recommend. 
  • Panama City Beach Winery // Tropical Winery with daily wine tastings! Great couples or girls day activity if you want a break from the beach.
  • Explore the SkyWheel and Shops at Pier Park // 124 shops, restaurants, and a SkyWheel with amazing views of Panama City Beach. Cross the street for the pier entrance - perfect views and photo opportunities at sunset!

 This is the perfect destination for all walks of life. Whether you're headed on a girls trip, a family vacation, or a getaway with your significant other - there's something for everybody here.  The travel time to get to Panama City Beach was super convenient. If you're located in Charlotte, there is a direct flight available with American Airlines that gets you into the city in a little over 1 hour. If you're not located in Charlotte, PCB is also a decent driving distance for most cities in the south. I can't thank the team at Visit PCB enough for an awesome stay, looking forward to many more visits to come!


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How To Treat Post Festival Hair

Festival season is here! While dancing your heart out to the music of your dreams in the desert are great for a good time, the elements are hard on your hair. This time of year also means busy season for me in terms of work, and a few of the most tell-tale signs of damage that come along with creating that perfect look include dryness, tangled hair, and loss of shine. Womp, womp. It's no secret that rehabbing the health of my hair is something I've been working on for a while now, so I'm excited to share Pantene's limited-edition Festival Hair Kit with you! 

Pantene is the proud sponsor of festivals like Coachella, Stagecoach, and Firefly in 2019. With that said, they've put 5 products into a portable kit to treat your hair before, during, and after festival! 

What's in the Festival Hair Kit?

Pre/during festival Pantene products:
  • Dry Shampoo // Refreshes hair without washing it, for a fresh and clean look. This also smells amazing. Just spray, rub in and brush at the roots or wherever refreshment is needed most for a fresh and clean look, even on the second or third day!
  • On-the-Go Frizz Iron // Controls frizz or fly aways without heat or water. Essential if you are traveling somewhere (aka a festival) with tons of humidity as frizz is bound to happen! Apply directly to your hair, like a traditional flat iron (but without the heat.) Close the Frizz Iron around your hair and glide from top to bottom. It straightens, smooths and moisturizes any hair type!
  • Airspray // locks out humidity mentioned above, and controls shine for a strong hold and lasting frizz control. This is Pantene's alcohol-free hairspray. It creates a brushable, silky, controlled light-weight finish. Perfect to lock in your festival hair!
Post-Festival Pantene Products:
  • Intense Rescue Shots // Noticeably repairs extreme damage to hair in one use. This is currently the #1 best selling NEW treatment item across the haircare category. After washing hair with a shampoo, dispense the treatment into your hand and apply onto damp hair, massaging from root to tip, targeting areas that see the most damage! Leave in for 30 seconds, rinse for 30 seconds.
  • Nourishing Mask Sachets // Two Nourishing Mask sachets are included and they deliver a nourishing boost to dry or parched hair, delivering an instant hydration boost and visibly healthier, shinier and stronger hair! While in the shower, after shampooing, comb mask into your hair from mid-shaft to ends. Leave on for 5-7 minutes or longer if desired. Rinse thoroughly after use!
I love that the Pantene Festival Hair Kit is so easy to pack. It comes in a pretty iridescent bag that's perfect for matching your festival gear, and it's available on Amazon with Prime shipping. Couldn't be any easier!

This content is sponsored by Pantene. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



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