Peaceful Living Travel: South Beach, Miami, Florida

Peaceful Living Travel: South Beach, Miami, Florida

Every couple needs to take time to reconnect and deepen their intimacy.  And what better way is there than to go on a beach minibreak?  South Beach is a great place to do just that! Whether you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife, fantastic shopping, delicious food, gorgeous beaches or all-of-the-above SoBe has it!

South Beach Miami Florida Couple Travel

Miami Beach in general has a reputation for being a playground for the rich and famous, a place to see and be seen.  And it definitely is that! But, it’s also a bastion of diversity and a laid-back beach town.  Yes there are beautiful, scantily clad bodies. But, there are also a lot of other bodies. So don’t worry, even if you want to wear a modest swim suit or clothing you will be okay.

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Peaceful Living Travel: Jekyll Island, GA

Peaceful Living Travel: Jekyll Island, GA

Jekyll Island, one of Georgia’s Golden Isles is a perfect Peaceful Living destination! It is truly the epitome of peaceful living. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, relaxing girls weekend or even a low-key family retreat, Jekyll will meet your needs! It has beautiful beaches, hiking/biking paths, fishing, horseback riding and even a cute put-put course.  Come with me on my weekend journey to Jekyll!

Make sure to read all the way to the end for my Peaceful Living Travel Rating!

Accommodations:

My recent trip to Jekyll Island served as a romantic getaway for my husband’s birthday, so we opted to stay at the historic Jekyll Island Club ResortAs soon as you drive up to the resort you feel like you’ve gone back in history to a time when things moved slower and you could sit back and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

Sit on one of the many verandas in a wicker settee or a cushioned rocking chair and enjoy a glass of lemonade and the beauty of your surroundings. Or stroll along the historic grounds and take in the views of the verdant wildlife in the Intracoastal Waterway and the elegant, historic homes on the grounds.

If you are interested in a little more activity you can play 18 holes of golf on one of the three courses around the island or a game of croquet on the Club’s croquet lawn. You can indulge in history with a guided tour of the grounds and the aforementioned historic houses.  Take a swim in the pool if you are there in the warm season. The pool is rather small, so if you are there during a wedding weekend, as we were, it can be crowded and noisy with drunk after-wedding partiers! You may want to opt for the beach instead.

Overall the hotel is quiet and lovely and a wonderful place to retreat and relax.

The rooms look and feel historic, they are small but they are comfortable and don’t have the musty smell that some historic hotels have. However, there are several other historic buildings with larger accommodations around the property, as well as at the Jekyll Island Beach Club. If you are willing stay outside of the main building you can definitely find large, very comfortable rooms on the property and at the beach!

My husband and I opted to stay in the historic building, despite the smaller room size we were very happy we did. It is as if you are staying in an elegant old mansion. You can walk up to your room using the grand staircase with one of the most beautiful carved wood banisters I have ever seen. I spent an entire afternoon lounging on a veranda drinking tea and reading magazines while my husband indulged in a nap. It was as if I were relaxing in my own home, but I didn’t have to clean it or cook for my family! Barely a soul walked by even though the resort was rather full with wedding guests.

If the Jekyll Island Club is not your cup of tea, the island has several different types of accommodations to suit every budget.

From the Days Inn and Suites for the more budget conscious to the Westin on the high end, Jekyll will suit your needs. For those who prefer the adventure of camping, an extra bonus is the beautiful Jekyll Island Campground that lies in the middle of the island, but not far from the beach. 

Jekyll Island allows Air BnB and VRBO rentals. So there are also houses and condos you can rent if you would like a little more space than a hotel room and/ or a kitchen to cook some of your own meals in.  There are also three Jekyll-specific realty companies that can help you find a house, condo or cottage rental (www.jekyllisland.com/lodging/)

Dining:

For our weekend retreat my husband and I opted for a casual dining experience. We hoped to dine at the hotel on our first night, but unfortunately the casual dining room was reserved exclusively for a wedding party and we did not want to dress for fine dining in the Grand Dining Room.

We opted to go over to the local shopping area, Beach Village, and try McGarvey’s Wee Pub Beach.  While it had the casual environment we were looking for, the food was honestly just not good. I had wings and green beans. The wings were flavorless and the green beans were boiled until they were practically mush.  I would definitely come back to McGarvey’s for beer and darts because of the fun atmosphere, but not the food!

Most of the restaurants on Jekyll are associated with the hotels. Don’t be hesitant about dining at a different hotel than the one in which you are staying.

There are many tempting looking offerings at the local hotels. For lunch, I highly recommend going to the Jekyll Market and picking up some picnic fixings. There are tables and chairs around the parklike atmosphere of Beach Village, or if you want to brave the chance of sand in your food, the beach is right there too!

We were able to stay in the resort for our breakfasts. The Pantry at the Jekyll Island Club is a nice little take-away café that offers good coffee and fresh food. I enjoyed fresh fruit and a bagel the first morning and a ham and egg croissant the second. At the time they were training some new staff, so the service was less than efficient (they could not seem to get me my orange juice), but the convenience of the setting and the freshness of the food made up for it.

The other obstacle to on-island dining we found was that some places were not yet open because we were visiting in the off-season. This made the selection of dinner restaurants fairly slim. We are adventurous and decided that we wanted to visit St. Simon’s Island – the next island over – for our second evening anyway. 

Where Jekyll is incredibly relaxing, St. Simon’s is lively and bustling.

I wanted to try the Southern Living Magazine Best of The South BBQ restaurant winner, Southern Soul BBQ.  It was definitely ALL THAT! I am not a huge fan of the vinegar-based sauces from my home state of South Carolina, but Georgia has some good sweet sauces! We thoroughly enjoyed our mixed plates of ribs and brisket. This restaurant will be a do-over on every trip we take to the Golden Isles

Having Fun:

As I mentioned, my husband and I enjoy adventure, but we were also going for a relaxing vacation. Jekyll Island is a wonderful place to be able to feed both needs!

We took the top down on the convertible and drove around the island just enjoying the nice weather and the gorgeous setting. When we were ready to stop we got out at what seemed like a fairly remote spot and made our way down a tree-lined path to driftwood beach. And what a beach it is! There are not just pieces of driftwood lying on the beach. There are entire trees of driftwood scattered about the beach! It’s like walking within a naturally created sculpture garden – absolutely breathtaking!  We were there in the middle of the day, but I am looking forward to a time when I can go out there in the early morning, maybe even for sunrise, and enjoy the splendor and vibrant energy that comes with the new day.

For those who prefer more organized fun, Jekyll has tons to offer! There are four golf courses and the Jekyll Island Club croquet field. You can rent bikes and spend hours biking around the island and on the beaches.  For those of you who enjoy animals, take a horse ride on the beach, visit the Georgia Sea Turtle center to learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of sea turtles or take an eco-tour hike or kayak at the 4-H Tidelands Nature Center.

And remember, Jekyll is an island, so there is boating and fishing and kayaking and canoeing, and all of the fun things that come with island life! You can even take a casino cruise off the shore of Jekyll!

Jekyll offers some man-made fun as well! For those whose golf courses of choice include fun features and colorful balls there is the Jekyll Island Miniature Golf Center. Games are only $6.50 for adults, $5.00 for kids 6-10 (plus tax for both) and 5 under play free! And for big-time family fun check out the Summer Waves Water Park!  The park has slides for all different levels of bravery, a lazy river, a splash zone and The Frantic Atlantic Wave Pool! Tickets range from $11 to $29 (for a two-day pass).

A Note About Island Admission:

The Jekyll Island Authority charges a daily parking fee to enter Jekyll Island. It is currently (2018) $6.00 per day or $28.00 per week. Each day consists of 24 hours. You cannot enter the island without the parking pass, even if you tell them that you are, “just driving around,” as one angry Trip Advisor commenter noted. There are many different opinions about this fee. You need to decide if it will add enough to your budget to tip you over the edge of what you can afford. It is definitely here to stay from what I can tell.

Overall Peaceful Living Rating:

I’m giving Jekyll Island a 4 out of 5 on my Peaceful Living Travel scale. The one point deduction is due to the following:

  1. The lack of casual dining restaurants.
  2. The sometimes rude service at the Jekyll Island Club, both at The Pantry for breakfast and the pool-side cocktail service.
  3. The way in which the Jekyll Island Club allows weddings to take over the only casual dining restaurant and the pool.
  4. I’m deducting a little bit for the island admission fee. I feel that the hotels need to cover those for their guests.

4 out of 5 is not a bad rating though. Honestly, I think if we had stayed at a different hotel, or in a vacation rental, I would give it a 5 out 5. But, that is really too bad because the Jekyll Island Club is a truly beautiful hotel and should provide top-notch service and dining options of all kinds.


Your comments, recommendations and opinions about the Spa at La Costa are welcome! Please post below and add to the conversation!

For more information about Jekyll Island please visit www.jekyllisland.com

Wishing You Peaceful Travels!

Jen

Peaceful Living Travel: La Costa Spa

Peaceful Living Travel: La Costa Spa

The Spa at La Costa Resort is a classic lady that never loses her style. I have been treating myself to her loveliness for almost a decade, and will continue to do so every time I find myself in the San Diego, CA area! The timeless elegance, top-notch service, spa amenities and healthy bistro offerings are some of the best I have experienced.  

The Grounds

Whether you valet park or self-park, the walk through the beautiful grounds of the La Costa Resort is a wonderful start to your day (or days) of tranquility.

If you happen upon the resort during the springtime you will be greeted by the scent of the orange blossoms on the orange trees that line the streets and walkways of the resort. If your visit occurs at another time of year, that’s okay, because the fresh ocean air and often the scent of newly cut grass will enliven your senses!  

Make sure to take your time as you wander toward the spa. Take notice of the yellow lilies, the bright pink bougainvillea and the multi-colored begonias nestled among bright greens. Don’t forget to look up to take in the soaring palms against the almost ever-blue San Diego sky!

If time allows, I highly recommend stopping by the book and gift store at the Chopra Center, Deepak Chopra’s west coast hub for his Ayurvedic spa and learning centers.  

Treat yourself to one of the many uplifting books or a beautiful piece of clothing or jewelry. For me, it always seems to be the books that draw out my wallet.  Try out a classic like Deepak’s own Seven Laws of Spiritual Laws of Success (1994) or Wayne Dyer’s last inspirational work 10 Secrets for Success & Inner Peace (2016).

The Chopra Center does not have its own spa in which you can relax, but they offer many Ayurvedic services both in the center itself and at the Spa at La Costa. The one nice thing the Chopra Center does offer for the general public, as opposed to the people who are paying to be part of the Ayurvedic retreats or the educational offerings, are free meditation classes.

These are offered Tuesday through Friday from 7:45 – 8:15 AM & Monday through Friday from 6:00 – 6:30 PM, at the Chopra Center. (Call ahead to confirm these times).

After spending some time at the Chopra Center store head on across the courtyard to the Spa at La Costa itself.  You may want to spend some time sitting by one of the several, large fountains and allowing the sound of the water to deepen your sense of tranquility a little bit more.

The Spa

Upon entry to the spa interior, you are greeted by soft music and an abundance of beauty products, lovely clothing, and elegant jewelry.

If you have already spent some cash at the Chopra Center store you may want to skip by these tempting items and check-in at the desk with the genial employees.

For this visit, as with many others, I opted for a day pass instead of purchasing a service. As of this writing, the day pass is $65.00 US, and grants you use of the spa and all of its facilities from open to close.  This fee does not include any spa services, products or food.  I have never made a reservation for a day pass. However, on this visit, the front desk employee said that my companion and I just got the last two day passes – and it was early!

The funny thing was because it was a Tuesday it wasn’t very busy. I think the spa is restricting the number of day passes they are allowing so I now recommend making a reservation at least a day in advance, maybe longer if you are going on a weekend or during high season.

After check-in, another employee will come to the front to escort you to the spa. She will give you a tour of the facilities and take you to your locker. Each locker has a warm terry cloth robe in it for you to wear during your day at the spa. Spa sandals are available for your daily use as well. (I don’t like the feel of the spa sandals so I always wear my own).

At this point, let the serenity begin!

There are four main areas of the spa:

The women’s area, the men’s area, the outside pool and features and the spa bistro.  The women’s and men’s areas contain lockers, showers and restroom areas, relaxation rooms, indoor hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas.

The outside area boasts a cooling pool, a hot tub, a reflexology walking path and the most amazing water feature – Roman Showers! More on those in a moment…  

The bistro offers a wide variety of casual, healthy fare, as well as a variety of beverages including smoothies, wine, beer, and cocktails. You can eat at one of the tables in the bougainvillea surrounded courtyard. On cooler days you can even get toasty while eating by the outdoor fireplace.  On warm days, order your bistro food and beverage poolside and eat right in your comfy lounge chair!

A typical day at the spa

Allow me to take you on a personalized tour of a day at the Spa at La Costa! First and foremost, as I start my day I really try to take in the beauty of the spa itself. Again, the Spa at La Costa is a classic beauty. Spanish tile, lush greenery, and teak furniture add to the ambiance.

* I like to start my day with a dip in the indoor hot tub in the women’s area. Clothing is optional inside, so do not be surprised to see women both wearing and sans swimsuits.

*After starting my relaxation process in the hot tub I will either go into the steam room or right out to the outdoor pool.  I love the steam room at this spa! The cool shower in the middle of it is amazingly refreshing in the hot steam. I will often put a moisturizing mask on my face before going in. My skin turns out incredibly soft!

*I spend most of my day lounging by the pool. I love to read magazines or listen to books. I order lunch and cocktails or mocktails to be delivered to me poolside. Sometimes, if I’m with a group of friends, we’ll eat at the bistro tables, which is nice as well.

* I make it a priority to sit under the warm, strong waterfall of the Roman Showers at least twice during the day.  The strong pressure of the water in these outdoor showers is almost as good as a massage! I will lay a towel down on the stone bench, sit on it and let the waters massage my shoulders and then lay on my stomach and let the waters massage my back. It is deeply relaxing.

* I am not much of a dry sauna person, but the dry sauna at La Costa spa is very nice. It is spacious and has a window in the door so that natural sunlight comes in. I never feel stuffy or claustrophobic in it. I usually only go in there on chilly days. However, the spa has outlined a relaxing and rejuvenating experience they call “The Aguas de la Vida” – the waters of life – that includes the dry sauna. I will go in it if I am doing the Aguas de la Vida program for the day irrespective of the weather!

The spa treatments

When I treat myself to a spa treatment I like to indulge in the Ayurvedic multi-modality treatment the Chopra Center calls the Odyssey:

The Odyssey begins with Garshana, a dry glove massage that refreshes and stimulates the skin and lymphatic system. Next, your body will be covered in warm herbalized oil for the Abhyanga, with specialized friction strokes designed to move the oil deep into your tissues to loosen stored toxicity. The slow, penetrating strokes of Vishesh follow. The treatment ends with Marma therapy to awaken your inner energy, while personalized aromatherapy enlivens your senses.

~ The Chopra Center, La Costa

If I do not want to spend quite as much money as the Chopra Center treatments require, I will opt for a relaxation or coastal stone massage through the main La Costa Spa.  Both are lovely treatments and with the right therapist are deeply relaxing.  

One thing I do like to caution for any massage treatment anywhere, massage therapists like to chat. The La Costa spa is no exception to this. I almost always need to gently let the massage therapist know that I can relax more deeply if I am not engaged in conversation.  The Chopra Center therapists are trained to not only perform their treatments in silence but they also quietly let the guest know that an environment of silence is held during the treatments. I find this to be refreshing and relaxing.

Closing out a beautiful day

If I am feeling particularly indulgent I will close out my spa day at one of the resort’s restaurants on the grounds.  Both of the restaurants are quite good and they both possess a lovely ambience. The resort does have a tendency to change the names of the restaurants, but they remain in the same locations, so for my purposes I will call them the Golf Course View Restaurant and the Courtyard View Restaurant.

The Golf Course View Restaurant has a beautiful view of the La Costa Valley and the resort’s sprawling PGA golf course. The Courtyard View Restaurant has a small indoor seating area, but is mostly a patio seating restaurant. As long as it’s not raining (which of course it rarely does in Southern California) that works out well. Even if it is chilly they have fire pits and heat lanterns that keep diners nice and warm.

Chicken lettuce wraps at the spa bistro

Both restaurants have extensive wine lists in addition to featuring many of the local San Diego micro-breweries and full bars.  Finishing off a beautifully relaxing day with a delicious dinner and glass of an excellent California Pinot Noir is absolute bliss!

Your comments, recommendations and opinions about the Spa at La Costa are welcome! Please post below and add to the conversation!

For more information on the La Costa Resort & Spa or to make your reservations:

Omni Hotels Resort & Spa La Costa

2100 Costa Del Mar Road

Carlsbad, CA 29009

https://omnihotels.com/hotels/san-diego-la-costa

PHONE: 760-438-9111

CONCIERGE: 760-929-6378

Wishing You Peaceful Travels!

Jen

 

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