Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Oo-la-la, it's the Hotel Ritz Paris!

After a 4-year multi-million dollar refurbishment, the iconic 1898 Hotel Ritz Paris re-opened its doors to visitors once again on June 6, 2016.

Showcasing 159 extravagant rooms and suites, the Hotel Ritz Paris has long been revered for it's elegance and sophistication where posh French decor includes antiques, works of art and luxurious marble bathrooms. 

Upscale five-star dining is offered at L'Espadon, under the guise of notable French Executive Chef, Nicolas Sale. There's also an art-deco style bistro and a chic Parisian brasserie under a glass canopy, as well as 3 bars, including one inspired by Ernest Hemingway. Traditional afternoon tea service is offered at Salon Proust. The popularity of the Hotel Ritz Paris throughout the years has spilled over into classic works of fiction by Hemingway himself, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Noel Coward. The Ritz was also notably the last location 

A new addition to the Hotel Ritz Paris is a refined 21,500-square-foot outdoor space, the Grand Jardin, designed by renowned French landscape designer, Jean Mus. Guests can wander along the courtyard pathway or soak up the French je ne sais quois from several casual seating areas throughout the garden.

A gathering place for the rich and famous, the Hotel Ritz Paris offers an indoor pool, a fitness room and an opulent spa starring Chanel beauty products. Gourmet cooking lessons and upscale boutique shopping are also available. 

Its location in the 1st arrondissement makes the Hotel Ritz Paris central to the Opera Metro station and just under 1 mile from the Musee du Louvre.

For more information or to make your reservation, visit Hotel Ritz Paris.

Be sure to read all about Vaux le Vicomte, a 17th-century chateau just outside of Paris!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Discover: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau
While the Rio Olympics are still in full swing, let's take a look at what this striking Atlantic oceanside city has to offer! With a 2010 population of 6.3 million, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, offers average year-round temperatures ranging from 70 to 80°F - with the hottest month being February and the coldest in August.

Three things come to my mind when I think of Rio: Carnival, Christ the Redeemer statue, and Barry Manilow crooning about Copacabana Beach. And maybe the Girl from Ipanema...??

Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau

Carnival in Rio

The craziness and fun of Carnival takes place annually during the 4 days prior to Ash Wednesday (February 24 to March 4, 2017). At the heart of Carnival are the colorful street parades showcasing samba music and dancing, along with flamboyant costumes worn by all.

Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau

Christ the Redeemer

Built in 1931, this art deco representation of Jesus Christ towers 98 feet tall (2/3 the height of the Statue of Liberty), with an arm span of 92 feet. Overlooking Rio, Christ the Redeemer sits 2,300 feet up on the summit peak of Corcovado mountain. Due to lightning strikes, weather and general wear and tear, a huge restoration process to repair it's outer soapstone exterior was completed in 2010.

Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau

Copacabana Beach

Never mind Barry Manilow, this world-famous, 2.5-mile-long beach offers a vibrant atmosphere along with a beautiful promenade full of beach bars, shops and restaurants. Copacabana Beach is the party place to be on New Year's Eve when an average of 2 million people gather annually to take in the festivities and fireworks.

Tonga Olympic Flag Bearer

Pita Tautatotua CBC
Just had to include this. When Pita Nikolas Tautatotua entered the stadium during the Rio Olympic opening ceremony, the world took notice of his coconut oiled skin and traditional Tongan dress. He competes in taekwondo this coming Saturday, when once again, all eyes will be on Rio!

The closing ceremonies for the 2016 Rio Olympic games takes place on August 21 at Marcana Stadium.

Did you know Quito, Ecuador, has a similar Chris the Redeemer statue? Check it out on the Top 5 Reasons to Visit Quito by guest blogger, Mark Chestnut.


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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar

Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar
Have you eaten at Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar at River Park Square in Spokane, WA? If you haven't, you should!

As a person with Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disorder whereby gluten found in wheat, barley, rye and oats is actually toxic to my body), I truly dread the thoughts of eating out as I never know whether or not my food will be safe. It's so much simpler to just eat at home!

But after contacting Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar by email, I received a great response from Corporate Chef, David Lee, that really put my concerns at bay. Here's what he had to say:
"We take every precaution available to prevent cross contamination.  All employees involved with the preparation of gf dishes (as well as other allergies) start with washing their hands and adorning a new set of gloves.  Separate utensils and cooking surfaces are used, including the use of cutting boards color coded specifically for gluten free items.  
  I am confident that one of our 4 locations located in Spokane will provide you with an exceptional gluten free dining experience.  Please let your server know when you arrive that you are in need a gluten free menu.  All items prepared with the necessary precautions will come with a “Gluten Free” flag on the plate to identify that the menu item has been prepared to our gluten free preparation standards."
Gluten Free Roasted Garlic Gorgonzola Burger
My next thought was okay, this sounds good but then I wondered how many gluten-free choices would actually be on the menu? My experience told me it'd be extremely limited. But, I was more than excited to see the extensive 2-page Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar Gluten Free menu filled with appetizer, handheld, salad, entree, pizza and dessert selections to choose from. 

And of course, Twigs offers a great selection of signature martinis! Be sure to check out their popular Fresh Sheet menu items showcasing locally-sourced ingredients.

Twigs Bistro & Martini Bars are open 7 day a week while offering 4 locations in Spokane (River Park Square, South Hill, Spokane Valley Mall and Wandermere), along with additional locations in Kennewick; Union Gap; Vancouver, WA (2017); Farmington, UT; Meridian, ID; and Tigard, OR.

Be sure to check out my review of the Quality Inn Oakwood and Is This Gluten Free?? on My Favorite Things, my fashion and everything else blog ;)

For more information, visit Twigs Bistro & Martini Bar.


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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Quality Inn Oakwood

I'll start off by saying the Quality Inn Oakwood in Spokane, WA, lives up to its Choice Hotels Platinum Award-Winning status. This prestigious designation is only given out to the upper 3% of Choice Hotels around the world!

What's makes the Quality Inn Oakwood so great? 

I'm all about overall value for the money and so I was really surprised and happy to find a rate of only USD $88.40 for a standard double queen room - during the middle of summer! Generally hotel rates can be really inflated during this popular time to travel so it's wonderful to see a hotel leaning more towards regular rates.

The Quality Inn Oakwood has undergone a major renovation during the last year, and as of now, it's 98% complete. Our updated double queen room was clean and comfortable, what more could you want? Well, since Pokemon Go is the big craze right now, how about a Pikachu?!! We found one right in our room!!

The Q Beds feature cozy premium mattresses and 200-thread count sheets. Of course, there was also a flat-screen TV, coffeemaker and free WiFi. Love the minifridge for drinks and restaurant leftovers, as well as the microwave for late night popcorn snack attacks. 

Relax & Unwind After a Hard Days' Shopping

It may sound funny, but when us Canadians hit Spokane to shop, it's exhausting! The Quality Inn Oakwood is in a very convenient location on north Division. It's easy to hit Target (1.5 miles) in the morning, go back to the hotel and unload, go for lunch, go to Fred Meyer (1.9 miles) or Kohl's in the NorthTown mall (2 miles), unload again at the hotel, go for dinner and continue the seemingly never-ending cycle!

The 24-hour indoor pool and hot tub is a big bonus. Many times there are restricted pool hours at some hotels and again, it's so nice to see a hotel that caters to it's guests by providing them with amenities they can use at their leisure, whenever that may be.

Free Stuff

I'm a Celiac challenged traveler and was very impressed with the way the Quality Inn Oakwood's General Manager, Beth Anne King, went out of her way to answer my gluten-free questions in relation to the hotel's complimentary breakfast bar. It's a beautifully designed, airy space with counter seating and plenty of tables & chairs.

Selections for Celiacs include fresh fruit and yogurt, and in addition, the breakfast staff regularly maintains an 'ingredient binder' for any dietary questions, which is wonderful. The majority of guests are able enjoy the regular items at the complimentary breakfast bar including cereals, eggs, bacon or sausage, breads, juices and coffee. Breakfast is offered daily from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m.

Quality Inn Oakwood Guest Amenities

Besides the above, this pet-friendly hotel also offers a business centre and coin-operated laundry facilities. Parking is also complimentary.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Quality Inn Oakwood for it's overall great value - it's a solid choice.

Please note, I was in no way compensated nor received any discount during my stay at the Quality Inn Oakwood in Spokane. This review is entirely unbiased and strictly based on my own personal opinions.

For more information or to make your reservation, visit the Quality Inn Oakwood.

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