Archive for the ‘california travel’ Category

The Eco-Awesome Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf

Who knew that a hotel on SF’s played out pier, could be so cool? Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf multi-million dollar renovations were completed back in 2012 and have since ushered in a fresh new property that’s perfect for families and couples who want to be right on the Wharf. From the moment you step into the lobby, public areas, and guest rooms, you’ll absorb San Francisco’s sweet charm. Also suited for busy business travelers like me, the hotel’s 355 rooms have  flat-screen TVs, premium linens, updated bathrooms, an on-site Business Center, and sleek 24-hour Fitness Center (to burn off that sourdough bowl calm chowdah you just can’t stop eating). We also love the heated outdoor pool – available year-round. 

If that’s not all, there’s complimentary Wi-Fi (!!) and gorgeous views of the bay, making the Radisson one of the best hotels for families in San Francisco. From the hotel’s location at Fisherman’s Wharf, you’re also incredibly close to the area’s best attractions—just steps from ferries to Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco’s historic cable cars and shopping, dining, and entertainment options at Pier 39.

A newly designed room at The Radisson Fisherman Wharf

A newly designed room at The Radisson Fisherman Wharf

Why else do we like it?

All of the Radisson US managed hotels are Green Key certified, and participation overall has doubled since announcing the partnership between Carlson Hotels and the Green Key Eco-Rating program. Together with other labels, more than 90 hotels have received eco-labels. On Earth Day 2011, Carlson also announced their registration for the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the company’s corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, MN.

Latest Efforts include:

Implementing a Recycling and Composting program that has diverted 75% of their trash to recycle and compost. Recent success include: recycling bins for all guestrooms and public areas; recyclable bags on all housekeeping carts for appropriate disposal; converted the trash compactor to a recycling compactor; scheduled new pick up frequencies with refuse company; installed new recycling bins in all guestrooms and public areas and educated all team members and space lessees on the proper way to dispose of their trash, recyclables, and compostable in the appropriate bins. Every new Radisson employee is required to go through a required Responsible Business Training, which includes social, ethical and environmental responsibility practices. Other eco-awesomeness with Radisson properties include:

  • Radisson Bed Linens Go Green: Radisson is the first hotel brand in the U.S. to introduce bed linens made of Tencel+Plus Lyocell – a new fabric, which uses 100 times less water than cotton in its production. The fabric, produced by Austria’s Lensing Fibers and sold by Valley Forge, is derived from eucalyptus trees grown in Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forests which are protected from overcutting. It is the only FSC certified fiber that can contribute to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification points. The linens are required for all Radisson Blu hotels opening in the US and encouraged bedding options for all Radisson hotels in the region.
  • Increased Green Certifications: Green certifications in Carlson Rezidor Americas properties increased 35 percent over 2011 and the brand is well on track to having all its hotels eco-labelled by 2015
  • Improved Consumption Monitoring/Tracking: Carlson Rezidor launched Think Planet to track hotel energy and water consumptions, while managed hotels in the Americas use Energy Star Portfolio Manager
  • Responsible Business Action Month: Carlson Rezidor will continue to host its annual Responsible Business Action Month as a call-to-action for their 35,000+ employees in 70 countries around the world, placing a focused emphasis on sustainable business practices and giving back to communities to make a positive difference on a global, national and local level. Its latest 2012 initiative was the most successful to-date, with an estimated participation of 400 hotels globally contributing to:
    • planting 5,700 trees
    • removing 35,000 gallons of illegal waste from the environment
    • raising over $300,000 for charity, including the World Childhood Foundation
    • donating 13,000 boxes of necessities to those in need
  • Local Property Accountability: Radisson makes continuous efforts to stay closely in-tune with local property management to ensure sustainable practices are being upheld within all of their hotels across the U.S. Such local efforts include eco-friendly LED lighting, the use of Green Seal cleaning products, linen wash/change guest options, and partnerships with non-profit organizations including Clean The World, to whom Radisson donates their discarded soap, shampoo/conditioner and lotion products for processing and re-use among communities in need – eliminating over 750 tons of waste.

Rooms run as low as $175/night!

http://www.radisson.com/san-francisco-hotel-ca-94133/cafisher

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In Need of a Zen Retreat? Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the Oldest Zen Monastery in the US, is Your Spot

A Yurt on the Tassajara Grounds

A Yurt on the Tassajara Grounds (c) David Silva

We have a thing for yurts. And, when you take a yurt and throw in some yoga, tasty vegetarian cuisine, and coursework with spiritual leaders helping you on the pathway to mindful living, what’s not to dig? To that end, every year, most people don’t know that the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center opens its doors to the general public for an annual guest season from May 1 – September 14, 2014. Zen and meditation seekers, yoga lovers, artisan foodies, and everyday people looking to unplug and rejuvenate are invited to experience a truly serene environment at Tassajara, the most remote and oldest Zen monastery in the United States, located 25 miles southeast of Big Sur, CA.
The Stone Room

The Stone Room (c) Ben Guevara

For the 2014 guest season, the Tassajara Program Schedule 2014 will offer up retreats in six specialty areas, all led by some of today’s leading teachers: Body and Mind, Mindful Living, Creative Expression, Engaging Earth, Spiritual Practice, and Zen Study & Practice.
Fine vegetarian cuisine

Fine vegetarian cuisine (c) Margo Moritz

This includes sessions/retreats that focus on all or some of the following: yoga, healing, culinary arts, and reawakening your wellspring of creative action by letting gifted artists help you become more open, confident, daring through words, movement, sounds, images, or the surprisingly powerful traditional ink brush.
Calligraphy (c) Mitsue Nagase

Calligraphy  retreat (c) Mitsue Nagase

Standout retreat leaders for the 2014 guest season include Zoketsu Norman Fischer (Poet, Author, Zen Buddhist Priest), Jane Hirshfield (Internationally Renowned Poet), Dale Kent (Author, Tassajara: Dinner and Desserts), Andrew Mellen (Author, More Love, Less Stuff), Marc Lesser (Google Meditation Workshops, CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute), Sessei Meg Levie (Google Meditation Workshops, Zen Buddhist Priest and Life Coach), Janet Stone (Celebrity Vinyasa Yoga Instructor), Donald Moyer (Founding Director, The Yoga Room, Berkeley, CA), and many others.
So go zen, mini-gurus.
 
Weekend rates for shared dorms start at $121 and private cabins and yurts from $267.

A Little Romance in Monterey, California

A room at The Portola Hotel & Spa

A room at The Portola Hotel & Spa

We love Monterey, California. Maybe it’s all those seals and seagulls. Maybe it’s the sleepy, peaceful craggy coast surroundings that make us want to have a lazy mimosa brunch, sip a warm tea, eat salt water taffy, and hit up the Aquarium. In short, when we’re on the Northern California coast, it’s a clear must visit. There’s just something special in the air.

So, when The Portola Hotel & Spa, told us they were introducing a Romance Package just in time for Valentine’s Day, we wanted to spread the word. As one of the Central Coast’s most romantic destinations, the Portola Hotel & Spa has designed the perfect overnight package for that special getaway. Pop open your complimentary bottle of bubbly paired with gourmet chocolate covered strawberries and let your vacation begin.

The Spa on the Plaza at the Portola Hotel & Spa

The Spa on the Plaza at the Portola Hotel & Spa

Wake up and enjoy the European-style breakfast buffet at Jacks Restaurant, paired with bottomless Mimosas. The fresh coastal air and breathtaking views help set the scene for a weekend not soon to be forgotten. As Monterey’s first and only Silver LEED® EB certified hotel and AAA Four Diamond Rating, the hotel brings travelers a rich, historical ambiance, with 379 nautically inspired guest rooms and suites, ranging from 400 to 1,000 square feet.

champagne

Champers, anyone?

Inspired by the Monterey Peninsula’s landscape and nautical heritage, all rooms feature elegant wood furnishings, large bathrooms, white shuttered windows. Many guest rooms offer private balconies with ocean, garden terrace or pool views. Also home to Jacks Restaurant and Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub, the Monterey Peninsula’s first craft brewery. Bottom’s up! In addition, overnight guests have access to the hotel’s spa and fitness facilities, complete with steam room, sauna, outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. The newly renovated 6,000-square-foot Spa on the Plaza

The Romance Package includes:

• Guest room

• A warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie upon check-in

• Complimentary bottle of champagne & gourmet chocolate covered strawberries

• Breakfast buffet for two at Jacks Restaurant with bottomless Mimosas

• Heated pool, Jacuzzi & poolside cabanas

Looking for a little more romance? Add a couples Renewal Massage for two at their Spa On the Plaza for an additional $90.00 per person

Book & Stay Dates January 7, 2014 to March 31, 2014

Starting at $339/night

Some restrictions may apply.

http://www.portolahotel.com/

Orchard Tours in Marin County

McEvoy Ranch

McEvoy Ranch

Looking for something fun and eco-friendly to do with the family or a loved one? McEvoy Ranch, one of the largest U.S. producers of estate-grown, certified organic extra virgin olive oil, is hosting olive orchard tours, a cooking demonstration and a wreath-making workshop, just in time for the upcoming fall holidays.

During the McEvoy Ranch tours, guests have a rare opportunity to view the 550-acre ranch, which is a private residence, located in the Marin County hills west of Petaluma.  Depending upon the event, guests can discuss the horticulture of growing olive trees in California, the Ranch’s certified organic practices, and harvesting techniques.

Bottling the olive oil

Bottling the olive oil

Advance reservations are required and tickets for the popular tours cost $30 per person for the Orchard Walk and Mill Tour; $85 for the Cooking Demonstration; and $60 per person for the Wreath-Making Workshop.

The Orchard Walk and Mill Tour ($30) explores the horticulture of growing olive trees, the ranch’s certified organic practices and their harvest techniques.  In addition to a close-up view of the orchards, guests will visit the frantoio — or olive milling room — for an explanation of McEvoy Ranch’s extraordinary process of extracting olive oil.  The visit concludes with a sensory evaluation of the olive oil and discussion of its culinary uses.  The remaining 2013 Orchard Walk and Mill Tours take place from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, September 7; Saturday, September 28; and Saturday, October 12.

The Cooking Demonstration is led by McEvoy Ranch Head Chef Gerald Gass.  Using seasonal ingredients from the ranch’s organic gardens, Gass will showcase some culinary ideas and techniques as he prepares a selection of delectable tastes.  In addition, the afternoon will include a walk through the kitchen garden — the source of much of the produce used at the ranch — as well as an overview of the history of the ranch, including its commitment to environmental responsibility and the production of its award-winning olive oil.  The cooking demonstration is on Saturday, August 24, from 1 to 4 p.m. and costs $85/person.

mcevoy olive oil products

At the Wreath-Making Workshop this hands-on workshop inspires guests to bring the natural beauty of McEvoy Ranch to doors or tabletops with festive, homemade wreaths, swags and candle rings.  Guests will be guided through the process of choosing seasonal greenery and building a wreath, with experts sharing information about some of McEvoy Ranch’s favorite plant materials, tips for decorative items that can be collected throughout the year, and hands-on instruction.  All materials are provided and guests can take home their assembled wreaths. The workshop is Saturday, November 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and costs $60/person.

Visitors on all tours can also purchase other McEvoy Ranch estate-produced items from the ranch’s retail store including the 80 Acres body care line enriched with McEvoy Ranch organic olive oil, as well as fruit and vegetable preserves and condiments, cured olives and, of course, McEvoy Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  

www.mcevoyranch.com

What’s New in Napa 2013

Calistoga Spa & Hot Springs

Relax in the Pools at the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs

Napa Valley’s upcoming grape harvest will bring with it a crop of new restaurants, lounges, organic-focused spas, major hotel renovations, and festivals.

Sleep

  • Chanric Inn, Calistoga
    The Chanric Inn re-opens after a renovation by new innkeepers Joel Haddad and Jim Dollard. The owners’ backgrounds as designers, art curators, and leaders in hospitality are reflected in the property’s makeover, which features modern platform wooden beds, an outdoor pool surrounded by Provencal-style gardens, spa services, and a gourmet brunch prepared by the owners.
  • Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, Calistoga

The focal point of the 18-month, property-wide renovation is the four geothermal- heated mineral pools that draw water from Calistoga’s natural springs. The guest rooms were redesigned with Italian porcelain tile showers and kitchenettes.

Harvest Inn, St. Helena

The Bucolic Harvest Inn, St. Helena

  • Harvest InnSt. Helena
    The new “Healthy Living in Napa Valley” package offers guests the best of Napa Valley’s outdoor adventures, food, wine, and relaxation. Included is a cycling excursion with Clif Family Winery at Velo Vin  followed by a post-ride wine tasting.  A 60-minute rejuvenating massage, $100 gift certificate to Cindy Pawlcyn’s Wood Grill and Wine Bar, and complimentary breakfast are also included. Available for travel now through November 15, 2013. Rates start at $575 per night.

Spa

The recently opened Spa at Napa River Inn is the only downtown Napa spa to exclusively offer organic, wild-harvested, hand-milled, and local spa products – including the inn’s custom-created Napa Valley Organics product line. All treatments are signature and exclusive to The Spa at Napa River Inn.

Napa River Inn

Take in the Views at the Napa River Inn

See

A celebration of film, food and wine, the Napa Valley Film Festival shows over 100 new independent films at 12 venues across the Valley. Over 300 visiting filmmakers will be present at screenings and intimate events.  For more information or to buy passes year-round, visit www.napavalleyfilmfest.org or call 707-226-7500.  

Savor

  • Mercantile Terrace, AndazNapa
    Downtown Napa’s new hideaway lounge features a sprawling California-style living area with comfy seating, communal tables, and outdoor crackling fire pits. A selection of artisanal wines, craft beers, cocktails, and small plates are on offer.
  • Napkins (website coming soon), Napa

Opening in September, Napkins will be downtown Napa’s newest destination for grabbing a late night dinner or cocktail. The restaurant will feature American cuisine with a global twist with menu items like, sandwiches, chops and pastas.

  • Flavor! Napa Valley (Nov 20-24)
    The third annual star-powered Flavor! Napa Valley wine and food festival will return November 20-24, 2013. This year, the five-day festival is adding new chefs, new sommeliers, new seminars, and more hands-on workshops. As always, participating chefs must have a restaurant in the Napa Valley or be graduates of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the beneficiary of the festival.

For more information visit www.visitnapavalley.com

Sonoma’s Latest on the Restaurant Scene: zazu kitchen + farm

Duskie & Johnzazu… a charming but cramped diner housed in a (purportedly) former chicken coop, with a kitchen barely big enough to cook in.  Located in Sonoma County wine country, it’s the life-work of Next Iron Chef contestant Duskie Estes and husband, salumi artisan John Stewart.  Yes, you read that correctly… salumi artisan. Despite the challenges inherent in the original zazu, Duskie and John have earned tons of awards and recognition for their food and their food ethics (King and Queen of Pork at Aspen, multiple appearances on The Next Iron Chef, named a Michelin good value spot).
 
Well, now the couple has a new restaurant on the way, zazu kitchen + farm in the town of Sebastopol, and we see this culinary couple and their evolution as one that thinking eaters will embrace. Their new digs will be located at The Barlow, an old apple cannery in Sebastopol now being revived as the first business community in the U.S. to connect people with not only the finest Sonoma County products and the inspired people who make them, but also directly with the act of food production itself, all in one place. In Duskie’s words, The Barlow will be a sanctuary for “makers” including brewers, wineries, a coffee roaster, butcher and baker, a craft distiller, cheesemakers, farmers, and fishmongers.  Handmade soaps and candles will be crafted onsite, and bocce ball courts and fire pits will invite the community to gather to share food, wine, art, and time together.
 
One of the coolest parts about the new zazu?  Diners interested in the farm-to-table experience are invited to pick some of their own organic ingredients before dinner, in what Duskie calls “U-PICK”. Duskie’s and John’s farm-to-table ethos will play out as families and friends play a starring role in the creation of their own meal.
Duskie Estes
zazu kitchen + farm will feature Duskie’s dream kitchen, where she and John can both work in the same place at the same time, making zazu’s farm-to-table plates and John’s Black Pig bacon and salumi, plus their famous gelati.  The new restaurant will also feature a full bar offering farm-artisan cocktails and signature snacks like chicharrone peanut butter cups and black pig bacon caramel corn. They had me at bacon and caramel.
 
Another positive thing to note?
 
Duskie and John are chefs and ethical butchers, who champion the humane treatment of the animals they butcher and the meat they serve in their restaurant, insisting on using the whole animal “snout to tail,” including the cheaper cuts which nevertheless emerge from their kitchen as authentically gourmet. Duskie and John are as fun and playful as they are passionate about food, family and farming.
 

Get Geared Up For Coachella

Coachella Style

Coachella Style

Yes, we’re already looking toward Coachella 2013 (and damn that Bowie rumor… is it true?!). So, from the fashionable to downright fundamental, that will help you survive six intense days of musical mayhem that is Coachella. Trust us, you’ll get dusted and drunk, but enjoy every minute of it. Well, minus the ‘finding your car’ part at the end of the night if you’re not camping (or glamping) onsite.
1. Find a go-to outfit to look hot and stay cool. Try Element Eden Shannon tank and concert shorts from their Spring 2013 collection.
2. Keep your essentials within reach with this Element Eden backpack for Summer 2013.
3. Think cool thoughts with these VonZipper Cletus sunglasses from their Frostbyte series.
4. The VIP pass is optional, sunscreen isn’t. Save your skin with Epicuren’s X-treme Cream sunscreen with SPF 45.
5. Brave the wild world of the Girl Talk crowd with Spirithood’s new Coyote from their Spring 2013 line. Too hot for fur? Their Summer 2013 line includes NEW Terrycloth Spirithoods!
6. Channel your inner Feist-iness with Element Eden’s Polynesian Tea maxi dress for Summer 2013.
7. Another no brainer. Never be caught without a bottle of water. Icelandic Glacial Water is the perfect refreshing choice.
8. Missed Deadmau5’s set because you were sidetracked at the new beer garden? Keep track of time with NEFF’s Flava watch.
9. You might be hot in the daytime, but don’t forget you’re in the desert. Stay warm at night with Stance “Kingston” socks.
10. Let’s face it, your shoes are going to get dirty, but these Etnies Woozy hi-tops, from Spring 2013, will look cute in the process.
11. Stuck in the long entrance line? Start your own dance party with the portable wireless Phoenix speaker by Beacon. Try one of the new spring colors for these tiny speakers.
12. Keep safe from the sun with the Bungalow hat by Element Eden from Summer 2013.
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