Hotels Vs Vacation Homes --> The Clear Winner

hotels vs vacation homes with little kids

[trip style = any]

When I had kids I was told my longstanding relationship with hotels was over. So long lavender-scented cold towels, byeeee crisp sheets, see ya infinity pool, arrivederci lobby bar of my dreams; it was nice knowing you. Based on the advice of many parents I know, vacation homes seemed to be the only option in the "with kids" version of my life. “When you have a family, it’s just easier with a kitchen, you’ll see,” they told me.

Except, when it's just the four of us, it's not. At all. {At this point.}

Now that I've experienced both lodging types with littles, I don’t “see.” Seriously, though, why do I “need” a kitchen on vacation? So I can grocery shop? So I can cook? So I can wash dishes? So I can clean countertops? Just, NO.

While I do like the immersive local experience and neighborhoody-ness vacation homes offer, I’m not sold on them unless I’m going to stay awhile {as in, longer than a month}. Mostly because of the kitchen-factor. Even if I don’t use it, it’s there, reminding me of home...and cooking and food prep and clean-up. Isn't the point of a holiday to escape the everyday and chillax?

So, hotels. I heart them—especially with young kids in tow. Here’s why:

Because, Catered
If I’m going to pack up my life and hop on a plane, I want a hint of catered. I don’t need five stars or white-glove service, but I still enjoy a pampered experience, a fizzy welcome bev, and someone to offer me canapés at the pool. E-s-p-e-c-i-a-l-l-y if I’m traveling with kids. For this reason I choose hotels in all their plushy, non-kitcheny glory. And if I want a snack, I can always stock my mini-bar with a few of my favorite bites.
---> Hotels that inspired this: Four Seasons Resort Lanai and the Fairmont Orchid

Because, Firsts
Traveling gives us the opportunity to taste new foods and try new experiences. But here’s the ruse: Any time I’ve stayed in a vacation rental, I feel lured by the kitchen {and a pang of money-saving guilt for not cooking}, which takes away from time spent connecting with the culture at a variety of local shops and cafés. What I like about the simple, bed-and-bath nature of hotel rooms {or adjoining hotels rooms, because toddlers!} is you're forced outward in search of that elusive “first” that brings so much joy and wonder to wandering.
--> Hotel that inspired this: Terme Manzi Hotel + Spa in Ischia, Italy

Because, Vibe
If I was Beyoncé I’m sure I’d have a “vibe engineer” on my payroll to create the mood in the vacation homes I visit around the globe. However, I’m not Queen B, nor do I require my hideaway to be kitted out with a sense-of-place playlist, fancy-pantsy furniture, or personalized cooking. Due to the nature of hotels as people-centric gathering places created to meet our human need to roam, sleep, eat, and play, good hotels offer a built-in entourage, design, and staff to curate a feel that reflects the local culture and cuisine.
--> Hotel that inspired this: Grand Velas Riviera Maya

The Exception
Unique farm-to-table stays such as Puakea Ranch where there's a garden to pick fruits and veggies for your meal, animals around every corner, a rumpus room with vintage toys, and the environs is so gorgeous you decide you'll return every year {for the rest of your life}.

One day, I'll appreciate vacation rentals again. Like, when the little stylers are out of diapers. But, for now, in my two-toddler reality, unless I'm going on a long trip, hotels win. Big time.

This article hints at an original piece I penned for The Kitchn.

[Photos by @tripstyler]

Cathay Pacific's Iconic YVR to JFK Nonstop Route

Cathay Pacific YVR to NYC Flight

[trip style = luxury + urban]

When I started Trip Styler, I vowed to visit New York annually to stay up on the city that never sleeps. In an effort to be intentional about this goal, I wrote it down on a paper napkin while perched at a bar in the Big Apple. Because all great ideas start on bar napkins. {Now if only I were sipping a Manhattan...}

Pssst: Scroll down to see 18 photos.

The Easy Commute
Part of what made {and continues to make} this dream a reality is Cathay Pacific's daily, nonstop service between Vancouver and New York. This flight is so well executed, it's a commuter flight for some travelers. I knew a man who spent his weekends in Vancouver and his weekdays working at a major magazine in NYC. And I get it. I've flown to NYC from Vancouver and Seattle in economy and business class on many airlines, and nothing compares to Cathay Pacific's service.

A Chic Approach
Since around 1996, this route has reached a near-iconic status with coast-to-coast jetsetters because of its chic approach. Let me explain: Even though flights between Canada and the US are technically international, most of them leave out the standard of service of international flights: creative cuisine, complimentary drinks, long haul-designed seats, etc. because "the extras" add too much to the highly-competitive, price-sensitive fares. 

The International Factor
This is where Cathay's Vancouver-New York route soars above other airlines' barely-there, cost-cutting service. Because Vancouver is a stopover between Hong Kong and New York, passengers step onto a long-range, wide-body Boeing 777-300ER with four classes, transcontinental service, touch-screen entertainment and flight times that make a "New York minute" last an extra day {the flight arrives in New York at 7am and departs at 10pm, meaning there's more time to take a bite out of the Big Apple}. And the price tag, hovering between CAD$600 and $650 for Economy Class advance bookings, is similar to other airlines' nonstop fares, yet with Cathay you get all the frills—and the feels.

Economy Class
Even when I'm in Economy, I consider the five-hour flight the start of my vacation. The cheapest seats offer generous service, full meals, alcoholic bevs, high-res seatback entertainment with USB charging, cradle-designed seats with a multiposition headrest and 6" recline, as well as fresh orchids in the lavatories. Basically, you still feel pampered in Economy, which is a lost art in aviation. It's also worth mentioning how polite Cathay's flight attendants are towards passengers in all classes.

Business Class
If you can spring for business class via points or dollars, do it... For the lie-flat beds extending almost seven feet. For the personal pods each with direct aisle access. For the beautiful menu. For the lounge. Oh the lounge.

Lounge Life
Cathay takes Vancouver VERY seriously—YVR was the airline's first foray into North America—and the airport has the lounge to prove it. The Hong Kong-based carrier's recently renovated lounge is by FAR the nicest address at Vancouver International Airport. {I wish it was my woodsy-chic home brimming with bubbly and signatures like Cathay's Noodle Bar and stunning bathrooms (with showers) stocked with Aesop amenities.}

I LOVE New York so much it has become a constant destination in my Trip Styling schedule. Due to the Cathay daily and direct flight, it's not only easy to reach, but getting there is effortlessly chic.

Quick Facts:
Inbound: CX888 departs Vancouver {YVR} at 10:50pm and arrives in New York {JFK} at 7am
Outbound: CX889 departs New York at 9:55pm and arrives in Vancouver at 12:45am
Flight time: 5-5.5hrs
Classes: Economy Class, Premium Economy, Business Class, First Class
Starting fare: CAD$600 {Trip Styler Tip: Search for a seat sale to reduce this price} 

Click the images below to enlarge and then hover for details.

Other Dispatches in this Series
Next Up :: NYC
3 Days in NYC {What I Packed}
Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR
6 Hong Kong Hints {that will make you want to book a ticket ASAP}
Flying Well :: Cathay Pacific's Revolutionary A350
Style Inspiration :: The Pier Business + First Class Lounges in Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Vancouver to Hong Kong

[Photos by @tripstyler (except where noted) taken while a guest of the airline. As mentioned, I've paid for this flight more times than I can count and I have a very strict editorial policy favoring trips I LOVE.]

Summer In Vancouver: Designer Ice Cream + Liquid Yoga + A Chic Longtable Dinner

Summer 2017 insider must-dos in vancouver canada

[trip style = active + food + wine]

To my sun-seeking soul, summer is the best time to be on the West Coast. During this sacred season, California's weather flirts with Canada's coastline, bringing sun from 6am-10pm, weather that justifies rosé all day and a fashion sense that's more breezy than bundled.  

Other than a few trips abroad in June, I typically reserve July and August for trip styling locally, either on weekend jaunts or staycations. To do this, I try to work fewer hours and extend each weekend because British Columbia is too gorgeous not to explore when it's in full bloom. 

For weekends away, I usually head to the mountains, beeline for the beach or channel my love Palm Springs in Canada's only desert {also a wine region!}. If I stay in the city, I like to bike the world's longest uninterrupted waterfront path, practice pool yoga or eat designer ice cream. {Real talk: Now that I have little stylers, I can't do all of this in one weekend, so I break up the fun throughout the summer.}

Here are a few "very Vancouver," summer-only, Trip Styler-approved happenings going on right now. See you there!

beta5 ice cream socials

Designer Ice Cream
Tucked away in an urban industrial district off Main Street, you'll find BETA5 Chocolates, aka Vancouver's sweetest secret. This summer, Canada's coolest chocolate-, pastry- and ice cream-maker is one-upping its cool-factor by offering designer sundaes that are more art than ice cream. But the cool treats aren't just for Instagram show --> they taste as beautiful as they look given the local dairy, in-season produce and handcrafted toppings that go into each bite.

DETAILS: BETA5's Ice Cream Socials take place every Saturday from 1-5pm during the summer. Want ice cream during the week? It's cool; they've got you covered.

liquid yoga the westin bayshore summer

Liquid Yoga
In an ode to Vancouver's summertime glory—yoga + outdoor pool + sunshine = yes please—head to the Westin Bayshore for Liquid Yoga. Taking place in the waterfront hotel's outdoor pool, participants float on aquamats while they flow through a 60-minute practice in a small-group setting, complete with birds chirping and warm water lapping up against their mat. The only requirement: Know how to swim and BYOBS {bring your own bathing suit}. The setting is so inviting, you'll want to take a dip after class when your hands touch the water during savasana.

DETAILS: Sixty-minute classes take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 8am + 9am during the summer, and cost $30 {$20 for hotel guests}. Reserve your spot here.

IMG_5264.jpg

Crab + Lobster Boil
Every Sunday this summer, YEW Seafood + Bar in the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver is bringing the ocean to you with its Crab + Lobster Boil. Featuring BC-caught Dungeness Crab and Canadian Lobster, as well as a spread of sautéed greens and marbled potatoes, this long table feast offers a coast-to-coast taste of Canada, including BC wine. PS: If you haven't properly celebrated Canada's 150th birthday, this tasteful soirée is for you.  

DETAILS: YEW's Crab + Lobster Boil happens every Sunday night during the summer. Book your seat here. Tickets cost $75 and include wine.

[Photos via @tripstyler, except lead image courtesy of FS Vancouver]

A Five-Star BeerBQ? You Bet Your Brisket!

Whistler BeerBQ Four Seasons Resort Whistler

[trip style = food + beer + wine]

Editor's Note: More NYC coverage coming soon.  

This summer the Four Seasons Resort Whistler is turning up the heat {and the hops} on the idea of the backyard barbecue. And, in true Four Seasons form, the weekly event is not your average cookout, but rather a BeerBQ pairing a carousel of local craft brews with a mountain of meats. Add in salads and sides that belong on the cover of Bon Appetit Magazine, a custom-built smoker, live music, twinkly lights, as well as a babbling brook, and you've got a five-star cookout.  

But beyond the setting, the savory bites, and the sips, you'll find a Chef whose passion for cooking and craft brews is at the heart of the event. With an Instagram account called @ChefAndHisGrowler, Chef Artie McGee is the guy you want marrying your malt with your meal. True to his social handle, when he's not cooking at the Four Seasons, he's imbibing the latest lager and whipping up a just-right bite. 

"The BeerBQ is my passion project," he tells me as we walk around and he shows off the 8-foot-tall and custom-built smoker made by a local outfit, or he points out sauces, dressings and cast iron-baked corn bread incorporating the week's featured beers. "I'm so passionate about craft beer, I reached out to more than 25+ local breweries to see if they'd like to partner with us for our summer bbq series. They all loved the idea. It's a win-win."

To add some sizzle to your summer, cut out early from work, grab your gear, head up to Whistler, eat alllllllll the meat, and then upgrade your cookout with a night at the hotel. When your friends see what you're doing {on social media, of course}, tell them: "You bet your brisket I'm at a BeerBQ." {Sorry, the title of this is TOO good not to repeat...}

Four Seasons Resort Whistler BeerBQ details 
WHEN: Every Thursday from 5pm - 9pm until Aug 31st, 2017
WHERE: In the glow of summer's late sunset at SIDECUT's outdoor alcove  
COST: The all-you-can-eat feast, which keeps the meats sizzling and salads piled high {all night long} is $34 for adults, $17 for kids ages 5 to 12, and $10 for mini stylers under 5
SERVING STYLE: Buffet, and since it's at the Four Seasons, there's lots of stations {and very few, if any, line-ups}. Plus, there's a server to help you out. 
RESERVATIONS: Not required. The first-come, first-served event is for everyone, so while you'll want to book a room at the Five-Diamond retreat to roll into after indulging like a pit master, you don't need to be a guest of the hotel to attend.
WHO: Bring the fam, go with friends, or head there with your partner. Foodies and families flock at 5pm, while the weekend escape artists waltz in around 7pm.  
TRIP STYLER BeerBQ TIPS: Arrive just before 5pm to score a seat in the shade, stay until 9pm to feel the barbecue vibes all night, and stay the night at the hotel so the only distance you have to travel, post-BeerBQ, is to your hotel room!  

{Click the below images to enlarge, and then hover for details}

What's "brewing" at this summer's BeerBQ
July 13th - Strathcona, Strange Fellows
July 20th - Doans, Moody Ales, Persephone Hoyne
July 27th - Bridge, Four Winds, Steamworks, Driftwood
August 3rd - Hearthstone, Back Country, Coast Mountain
August 10th - Deep Cove, Yellow Dog, Whistler Brewing, Steal & Oak
August 17th - Postmark, Townsite, Dead Frog, Driftwood, Coast Mountain
August 24th - Moon Under Water, Main Street, Hoyne, Howe Sound
August 31st - Moody Ales, Strathcona, Strange Fellows, Yellow Dog, Twin Sails

[Photos by @tripstyler unless noted]

3 Days in NYC {What I Packed}

What I packed for three days in New York City

[trip style = urban]

Whether I'm packing for an urban escape, spa weekend, or fam-jam beach trip, I edit and re-edit my suitcase contents as meticulously as Anna Wintour analyses the pages of Vogue before print. To me, packing is like fashion Tetris: When everything fits—in every sense of the word—it's beautiful. 

Following up on the Only Packing Tricks You Ever Need to Know hints I wrote about yesterday, my toddler is the one who inspired me to decode the details of how I packed for my three-day trip to New York. While he's more an aviation fanatic than a Tom Ford-in-training, he always wants to see photos of everything I do, see and taste when I travel. With his interest as my inspiration, I give you New York... through the eyes of my wardrobe. More NYC updates to come.

A snippet of my suitcase style based on the weather and my NY wanderings. 

A snippet of my suitcase style based on the weather and my NY wanderings. 

My Vancouver --> New York airplane outfit, a go-to getup that is similar every trip {other than a few tweaks based on destination and trip type}. Slip-on shoes for security, comfy jeans, a soft T to "up" the cozy-factor on my red-eye flight. I finished it off with a lightweight blazer to befit my surroundings in Cathay Pacific's gorgeous YVR Lounge, in my Cathay Pacific business class seat, and my arrival the Four Seasons New York Hotel Downtown. 

My Vancouver --> New York airplane outfit, a go-to getup that is similar every trip {other than a few tweaks based on destination and trip type}. Slip-on shoes for security, comfy jeans, a soft T to "up" the cozy-factor on my red-eye flight. I finished it off with a lightweight blazer to befit my surroundings in Cathay Pacific's gorgeous YVR Lounge, in my Cathay Pacific business class seat, and my arrival the Four Seasons New York Hotel Downtown

Post-flight: Same jeans, new top. I love it when hotels offer a place to freshen up when you arrive in the AM before your room is ready. Here I'm in the Four Seasons' spa all spiffed following an early arrival. Photo by @NomNomYVR

Post-flight: Same jeans, new top. I love it when hotels offer a place to freshen up when you arrive in the AM before your room is ready. Here I'm in the Four Seasons' spa all spiffed following an early arrival.
Photo by @NomNomYVR

Loose and lightweight dress for a day of sightseeing starting at the Oculus transportation hub and upscale shopping space. Believe it or not: these shoes are very comfortable for the miles logged traipsing around New York's urban jungle.  Photo by @NomNomYVR

Loose and lightweight dress for a day of sightseeing starting at the Oculus transportation hub and upscale shopping space. Believe it or not: these shoes are very comfortable for the miles logged traipsing around New York's urban jungle. 
Photo by @NomNomYVR

In denim, yet again, on floor 101 of the One World Observatory at the top of the One World Trade Center. Photo by @NomNomYVR

In denim, yet again, on floor 101 of the One World Observatory at the top of the One World Trade Center.
Photo by @NomNomYVR

What I packed into my New York carry-on: - Running shoes and workout gear - Going out/chic sightseeing shoes - Skirt - 5 dresses - Jean shorts - 4 tops - Other: toiletries, jewelry, belts, scarves, bathing suit, "crushable" hat, camera, hair straightener, clutch purse

What I packed into my New York carry-on:
- Running shoes and workout gear
- Going out/chic sightseeing shoes
- Skirt
- 5 dresses
- Jean shorts
- 4 tops
- Other: toiletries, jewelry, belts, scarves, bathing suit, "crushable" hat, camera, hair straightener, clutch purse

Other Dispatches in this Series
Next Up :: NYC
Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR

[Photos by @TripStyler, and @NomNomYVR's incredible photo skills where listed]