Hotel ZaZa’s Annual Spring Soiree

Hotel ZaZaAs the spring party circuit continues to forge ahead, what’s another happy social that lauds the philanthropy and business scene that keeps Dallas on the international map? The stylish, storied Hotel ZaZa in Dallas has played host to many affairs — including conferences, luncheons, fundraising galas and private events — so Hotel Zaza wanted to show their appreciation at their annual Spring Soiree held on Thursday, April 23rd.

The spirit of “Living the Sweet Life” descended upon the poolside of hotel for this retro-themed springtime fete, despite the threat of rain. The beautiful and interesting people of Dallas were out in full force wearing their most sophisticated Spring attire.  Waiters served delicious appetizer bites by Hotel ZaZa’s Dragonfly restaurant and the beat was provided by DJ Sober and DSQ Electric.

Much of the attention went to the models floating in the pool on inflatable swans (yes, I said swans).  At the height of the evening girls wearing polka dot dresses paraded into the pool area holding sparklers! Many guests were striking a pose in front of their signature Z for photo opps, like my husband and me did for a fun date night.
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Hotel ZaZa is located in the heart of Uptown Dallas where it’s all happening.  The Hotel and Dragonfly Restaurant has a very stylish, upscale and funky vibe.  If you haven’t been, you have to go and experience it for yourself.

Hotel Zaza
2332 Leonard St, Dallas, TX 75201
214.468.8399

Colorado Bound!

When you think of Colorado you usually imagine the majestic Rocky Mountains, lots of beautiful white snow, and some of America’s most incredible skiing.  Our family goes at least once a year for a family ski vacation.  We’ve been to several different ski resorts in Colorado and they all have something to offer but one of our favorite destinations in Colorado is Breckenridge and the surrounding area. Breckenridge is just a short drive (approximately 1 ½ hours) from Denver.  It’s located in the Summit County Area which is surrounded by three mountain ranges and is home to several world class ski areas that include Keystone, Copper Mountain, Frisco and Silverthorne.  It’s sometimes called Colorado’s “Playground” because there is so much to do and see!

Breckenridge Christmas Card

Breckenridge or “Breck” as the locals refer to it, is known worldwide as a top winter destination.  It has 155 ski runs and includes a new 543 acre expansion on Peak 6.  The slopes offer all kinds of ski and snowboard terrain.  Don’t ski?  Try snow tubing, sleigh and dog sledding, snowmobiling, and ice skating.  There’s no excuse to stay inside!

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Breckenridge Summer 2006

 

Tired of the same old summer beach vacation?  Then head for Colorado this summer!  One of our favorite family summer vacation trips was in Breckenridge.  There is an endless list of things for families to do!   Summit County has a 10 mile interconnecting system of wide paved paths for walking, bike riding, rollerblading, and running.  You can race down the Gold Runner Coaster, which is an elevated Alpine slide located on Peak 8 Fun Pack.  Pan for gold or take the family white water rafting on the Blue River.  The area is a paradise for camping, hiking, fly fishing, and backpacking.  Enjoy the beautiful nearby Dillon Reservoir.  You can go fishing, boating, or simply sit on the shores and enjoy the view of the water and mountains.

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Personally my favorite thing about Breckenridge is the historic and quaint downtown area.  It’s a shopper’s paradise including several unique boutiques that include everything from designer jeans and cupcakes to locally made goods and imported olive oils and vinegars.  There’s also over 70 restaurants to choose from with not a franchise in sight.  You can easily explore the town on foot or take a horse drawn carriage just for fun!  Breck is becoming one of the state’s emerging art towns and hosts monthly art walks.  The town has also become well known for its Brewery.  You can tour and sample their award winning premium bourbon whiskey.   The summer fun kicks off with the opening of Breckenridge Fun Park June 12 – 21, gold panning, a bike festival and Kingdom Days.  For more information go to: http://www.gobreck.com/events/event-calendar

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Take at least one day to drive over to the Historic town of Georgetown and take a train trip on the Georgetown Loop Railroad!  It’s an old time steam locomotive that chugs its way up the canyon to Silver Plume.  The trip has breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains and you can hop off halfway and tour the historic Lebanon Silver Mines.  Our kids loved this outing!  The train runs several times a day from April 30th through December 30th.  For more information go to:  http://www.georgetownlooprr.com/

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Be sure to visit Historic Downtown Georgetown for a taste of Colorado’s mining history. Self-guided walking tours of the town are available. One of my favorite places in Georgetown is the legendary Hotel De Paris Museum built in 1875 by Louis Dupuy during the silver mining boom. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The hotel included a first class French restaurant, a showroom for traveling salesmen, and was considered a luxurious hotel during the Gilded Age.  To further delight your kids, the hotel has been rumored to be haunted!  May 23rd is the opening date for the 2015 Season.   For more information about this historic building and tours go to:   http://www.hoteldeparismuseum.org/

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Would you like information about other Colorado destinations?  Go to:  http://www.colorado.com/

 


Dallas Summer Musicals brings The King and I to Dallas

thekingandiDallas Summer Musicals continues their 75 anniversary season with their current production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I.  Like last year’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, DSM is producing the show themselves.  This exciting new production features a revamped script, timeless songs, and a new physical production with an entirely fresh interpretation of the musical.  This is a great musical for both adults and kids.

If you’re not familiar with the story of the musical here’s a short summary: East meets West in 1862 in the country of Siam when a very proper English widow, Anna and her young son arrive at the Royal Palace in Bangkok to tutor the king’s many children and wives. The King, is considered to be backward and a barbarian by Westerner standards and wants Anna’s assistance in changing his image. Through Anna’s teachings and devotion to the King’s family the two grow to understand and respect each other in a unique and touching love story. The quizzical king and the English tutor develop a bond that transcends their cultural differences.thekingandimusicalBroadway veteran Rachel York, stars as Anna. If you shut your eyes you would swear that Julie Andrews herself is on stage, she’s that good. She has an incredible voice and has a delightful chemistry with the King who is played by Alan Ariano. The classic songs were a delight to hear again and made me want to sing along with them. The two actors who played the forbidden lovers were showstoppers when they sang “We Kiss in a Shadow”. The sets were fresh and colorful as were the beautiful costumes. One of my favorite parts of the musical is the extremely creative Jerome Robbins ballet, “The Small House of Uncle Thomas”. It encompasses the humor of the story and the exotic nature of a country that most of us Westerners can’t understand but appreciate. I would go see the musical again just to experience this performance again.

Did you know? In 1895, the second revival of The King and I opened at the Broadway Theatre, where it ran for 191 performances. It won Yul Brynner a special Tony Award for his 4,525th performance in the role of King.

The King and I continues through April 5th at Fair Park Music Hall, 909 First Avenue, Dallas, $98-$108.  214-346-3300, dallassummermusicals.org

The King and I JackieAs a former season DSM ticket holder, I am very excited about this year’s 75th anniversary line up of shows because it bring to town several new and classic shows that we haven’t seen in Dallas.  Tune in for Real Posh Mom Reviews for the upcoming shows at DSM:

Coming up next is The Illusionists, April 7-19, 2015.  This bestselling touring magic show is a mind blowing spectacular showcasing the jaw-dropping talents of seven of the most incredible illusionists on earth.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, June 9-21, 2015

Dirty Dancing, June 23-July 5, 2015

Pippin, July 7-19, 2015

30 Hours in Avalon, Catalina

Catalina HeaderThe island of Santa Catalina has taunted me from 22 miles off the coast of California since I first visited Laguna Beach in 2009.  Sometimes completely shrouded by the marine layer, often appearing only as a silhouette on the horizon at sunset, and occasionally giving us glimpses of glowing rocks on the east end when the morning sun reflects back through a clear sky, Catalina is an intriguing presence when you live along the coast of Southern California. My family, in celebration of our wedding anniversary and my husband’s birthday on the same weekend, finally visited for a short one-night stay to get a taste of what the island has to offer.

Blog Catalina - 05Inhabited for at least 8000 years, the island is thought to have once been called Pimu by the natives, who greeted its first European visitors in 1542. On the eve of St. Catherine’s Day in 1602, a Spanish explorer renamed the island Santa Catalina. In years following, the island hosted hunters, smugglers, ranching, mining, and military operations, was awarded in 1846 as a Mexican land grant, and purchased in 1894 by The Banning Brothers who developed roads and attractions until a fire destroyed the city of Avalon in 1915. William Wrigley, Jr. (yes, that Wrigley) bought the island in 1919 and developed Avalon as a resort destination, bringing his Chicago Cubs baseball team to the Island for spring training in the 1930-1950’s. In 1972 Wrigley deeded 88% of the island to the non-profit Catalina Island Conservancy to protect and restore the land and its wildlife, keeping it undeveloped and wild.  The island holds a unique place in the history of motion picture production as Hollywood’s exotic back lot, beginning as early as 1911. Production crews and sets could be sent to the Island by barge and the vast mountains and beaches could be transformed into almost any place in the world, from the coast of North Africa, Tahiti, the American frontier, the lost continent of Atlantis and the home of Jaws. Although closed to tourism and filming during World War II, it picked up again afterwards and was once again an exotic yet convenient location for Hollywood in the 1950’s, and continues to be so today.

Friends with their own boats go back and forth as their lucky hearts’ desire, but for most us the options are the frequent Blog Catalina - 01
departures from Long Beach, San Pedro, Dana Point, Newport Beach, and San Diego on vessels operated by Catalina Express and Catalina Flyer. These modern boats offer comfortable airline-style seating for the hour-long trips to and from the island. For a special experience, however, nothing beats arriving by air. Given the special occasions for our visit, we chose to spend a little more and travel via Island Express helicopter, a thrilling 15-minute ride departing from Long Beach and soaring over the ocean before landing in Avalon. Our pilot entertained us during the brief journey with facts about the water depth and whale watching, and pointed out our hotel as we hovered over the town before landing. It was a truly wonderful way to get our bearings before we started exploring!

Blog Catalina - 04A short cab ride through the town of 3500 permanent inhabitants brought us to Hotel Catalina’s Courtyard Garden Suites, our home base for the short visit. Booked last minute with requirements including a bed for the munchkin in our room and a jacuzzi on the property, it was  a charming choice in the center of town. After quickly checking in we walked around the quiet and glistening streets, enjoying the off-season coolness and bright beautiful colors all around us. We lunched at El Galleon with views of the beach and harbor from our table, and then walked along the water until the drizzle started falling again. We ducked into Three Palms Avalon Arcade for mini bowling, air hockey and arcade games that resulted in handfuls of prize tickets for our daughter. As the sky cleared we walked to the 40-year-old Catalina Island’s Golf Gardens, known as one of the world’s most beautiful and challenging mini-golf courses. Given the off-season rainy weekend, we had most of the course to ourselves, surrounded by gardens and educational signs explaining the story behind each of the holes’ themes. After another leisurely walk along the waterfront, we returned to our hotel for some jacuzzi time before dinner. I had booked a table at The Avalon Grille, an upscale yet island-casual restaurant along the waterfront that I knew would be perfect for my husband’s birthday dinner on Saturday night. The staff could not have been nicer to us, and the 6-year-old was as impressed as we were with the food, ambiance and service. Back at the hotel we returned to the jacuzzi, and then sat by the courtyard fire pit playing cards until the chill chased us back into our room.

Sunday morning we had time for breakfast, a short tour and lunch before boarding our boat back to the coast. My Wrigley Botanic Garden Catalinahusband had hoped to start his birthday with a stand up paddle along the coastline but the choppy sea was not ideal, and island tour times wouldn’t work with our early afternoon transportation reservations. So after breakfast at The Pancake Cottage we walked around The Catalina Casino to Descano Beach to inquire about kayak and paddle board rentals and campground facilities for future visits, chatted with a group of scuba divers, took a self-guided tour of the Catalina Island Museum, and took a cab up to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. The garden, originally supervised by the late Ada Wrigley, places a special emphasis on plants that grow naturally on one or more of the California islands, but nowhere else in the world. After $2 trolley ride back to town we stopped for lobster rolls at the Bluewater Grill on the waterfront before it was time to leave.

Although the intention of our short visit was to relax and get acquainted with the island, my one regret is not getting a chance to see the buffalo. A herd of North American Bison has been roaming the hills of Catalina since 1924, when 14 were transferred over for the filming of The Vanishing American. By the 1980’s, the herd had grown to as many as 500, far more than the island could support. Since then the conservancy has taken control of the population, for the good of the animals and the island’s vegetation, shipping some to land reservations in South Dakota. Bus and jeep eco-tours of Catalina that give guests the opportunity to see the roaming animals will be at the top of my to-do list when we return.

Blog Catalina - 03Getting back to Long Beach was a comfortable and easy hour-long ocean journey on the Catalina Express as we had upgraded to the Commodore Lounge for priority boarding, wide reclining leather trimmed seats, and a complimentary beverage in a lounge environment with great ocean views. Although they neglected to tell us to arrive early so that we could sit together (seats in the lounge are first come – first serve), we moved about and were able to enjoy the view of our new California home as never before: from the sea.

Special notes:

Plan to visit on your birthday and get lots of special discounts! With proof of your birth date you travel free on the Catalina Express boat, get 20% off a helicopter ride, get a complimentary ice cream cone at the candy shop Lloyd’s of Avalon, discounts on hotel rooms, tours, massages, and more! We even got a discount for our anniversary. For more about the promotions, visit http://www.catalinachamber.com/specials/birthdaycatexp.

Catalina is in a constant state of drought, and unlike other parts of California, they can’t simply pipe water in. At restaurants you will have to ask for a bottle of water, and hotels will request that you not have your linens washed every night. To do our part, we bathed at home before leaving the coast on Saturday morning and carried bottles of water with us on our trip. We suggest that you do the same. 

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30 Hours in San Diego

USS Midway Museum

Vacations don’t always require long flights and big budgets. Since moving to Southern California, I set a goal for my family to take short trips exploring our new state. Follow along as we find the best places for both family and romantic getaways close to our new home.

San Diego, California’s second largest city, is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Anza-Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountains to the east, and Mexico to the south. Its diverse neighborhoods are spread out over 4,200 square miles and nestled along 70 miles of sunny Southern California coastline, with a gentle Mediterranean climate and a welcoming vibe. Consistently rated one of the top family destinations in North America, San Diego is the ideal destination for children of all ages offering a variety of family friendly activities and world-class attractions throughout the year. And luckily for us, it’s only a little over an hour south of our home in Laguna Beach.

Elephants at the San Diego ZooOur first priority for the weekend was the San Diego Zoo, first opened in 1916 and now encompassing 100 acres in Balboa Park. Pioneering the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats, the zoo is home to 4,000 animals of 800 rare and exotic species. We knew we would have to commit our entire first day there, and even then we couldn’t see it all! We started the day with the 35-minute narrated tour on a double-decked bus to learn the layout and pick our favorite spots to return to and explore in detail. Some of our favorite parts were the Chinese Giant Panda cub Xiao Liwu,  the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge with a mock polar bear snow den and Arctic research helicopter, and The Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey, where a herd of eight elephants roam a 2.5-acre exhibit that includes a 120,000-gallon pool and gentle rolling hills surrounded by a replica tar pit, fossil dig and children’s play area. Our 6-year old daughter Inara is still talking about the adorable koalas in the Conrad Prebys Australian Outback, and we were all amazed that we got to see the 3-month old baby gorilla riding around on its mother’s back and later breastfeeding right in front of the viewing window. As a parent who who is very concerned about the future of our planet, I was also appreciative of the exhibits addressing the threats animals are facing due to climate change, and providing guests with suggestions for reducing our carbon footprint.

San Diego Zoo

As it was a last minute trip, we waited until after our day at the zoo to decide where we would stay that night. After a quick search on Expedia, we settled on the Hotel Solamar, a stylish boutique Kimpton Hotel in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Deigo. The neighborhood is a historic 16.5-block district founded in 1867 when it was the Wild West complete with Wyatt Earp running three gambling halls, and now housing a thriving dining, shopping, and nightlife scene. It was a bit too chilly to enjoy the hotel’s rooftop pool but that didn’t stop us from trying, and we hope to get back again to fully experience that option. For dinner we rode Uber to The Fish Market, a seafood restaurant on the harbor founded in 1976 by fishermen, and had fun posing by “Unconditional Surrender,” a statue of the famous WWII sailor kissing a nurse.

Day 2 started with a big breakfast at Broken Yolk Cafe (but not as big as the one Adam Unconditional Surrender San DiegoRichman finished to win the Iron Man Challenge there in 2010, on Man vs. Food) and then set out once again for the harbor. We entered a floating city at sea and walked in the footsteps of 225,000 sailors who served our country aboard the USS Midway Museum. Part of the Navy fleet for 47 years and active during the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, the USS Midway was one of America’s longest-serving aircraft carriers and the museum highlights the city’s rich military history. We listened to passionate docents everywhere on the ship, and Inara loved climbing on the aircraft all around us.

USS Midway Museum

A narrated Hornblower Cruises harbor tour gave us a different view of the city, passing by Shelter Island, ship-building and dry-docking facilities, Coronado Island, and under the 2-mile-long San Diego- Coronado Bridge. With a large sightseeing deck and full snack bar, it was a perfect way to pass an hour or two on a beautiful afternoon before getting ice cream in Seaport Village to enjoy while walking along the water towards the last stop of our visit.

With so many museums to choose from Hornblower Harbor Cruise SD and limited time, we decided to let Inara have some fun at the New Children’s Museum downtown across from the San Diego Convention Center before heading home. A highly-engaging, multi-sensory experience, it was a wonderful opportunity for her to work off some energy, and for us to build and play with her. The museum offers opportunities for children to experience the arts in ways that are meaningful to them, like climbing, sculpting, painting, and banging “drums” with kitchen utensils-turned-instruments. The current exhibit, FEAST, features 13 artist installations and 8 other projects centered around food in unexpected ways.

San Diego WWII

We were sad to leave the city that afternoon, knowing there was still so much left to experience! We left with albums of photos, homemade clay bowls, and the comfort in knowing that San Diego is close enough to visit again soon. Suffice it to say that 30 hours is not a long enough time to see this beautiful city! There seem to be special events every weekend, which means plenty of excuses to return. A few that caught my eye happening in the coming months include:

  • Celebrating all things Irish at the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, held March 14 at the corner of 6th Avenue and Juniper Street near Balboa Park. The day includes a 10:30 a.m. parade and an all-day Irish festival featuring food, beer gardens, musical entertainment and more.
  • On April 19, EarthFair in Balboa Park celebrates a range of eco-friendly practices and environmental causes. Offerings include earth-friendly and organic foods, wildlife preservation education, displays of alternative energy vehicles, pet adoption services and more.
  • From May 7-10, knee-slapping good times abound during the San Diego Annual Gator by the Bay Zydeco, Blues & Crawfish Festival, held at Spanish Landing on Harbor Island. The event features 25 bands on five stages along with dance lessons, food and Cajun cooking demonstrations.

For more information on San Diego’s offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website at www.sandiego.org or call 619-236-1212.