The Illusion of Perfection

[trip style = any]

There is a belief in our society that traveling equates to a perfect life. I'm not sure if this goes back to humanity's nomadic nature, our thirst for wonder, or our curiosity with what's new and different, yet it seems as though the general perception of a person who travels is:

Travel = Perfect Life {Wealth + luxury of time}

As someone who has placed many pins on the map both personally and professionally, the above perception is both true and false.

True
In high school I was part of a group of teens who spent a few Spring Breaks in a financially destitute community in Mexico helping to build a clinic. The area did not have sufficient medical facilities, so the all-volunteer clinic was a welcome addition to the town's infrastructure. Noticing the lack of anything on the walls in the clinic's waiting room, treatment rooms or hallways, I asked the director why there was no art or photoseven something basic. "We don't want to put up art or photos of far-flung lands because it would be unfair to dangle places these people will never see in front of them," he replied. So, the idea that "everyone" can travel is a middle class/+ phenomenonone that is never lost on me. I feel incredibly grateful to do what I do {and realize it can appear "perfect"}, and if you can afford to buy a plane ticket here or there, you should too.   

False
Both on the road and at home life happens, reminding me that the illusion of perfection associated with frequent flying is not as it seems {both for me and for Kim Kardashian}. While traveling I don't just quit the demands of life, such as paying bills, changing diapers or washing clothes, it all has to be done whether I'm in Morocco or Mexico. Then there's the time I was almost attacked abroad, but that's another story altogether.

Aside from typical sickness you can pick up from foods in foreign lands, I can recall more than a few situations where random health boutsthe kind that happen at home, toohave come into the equation. A recent one was in Italy last summer when the day we left, which was also a National holiday in Canada {meaning I couldn't easily get meds}, I woke up with a giant red bump on my eyelid. I got on the plane reluctantly because I was NOT about to give up three weeks in Italy for something that could be solved. The second I settled in Rome, I visited a pharmacy where I showed the pharmacist my eyelid and she found cream that healed my eye.  

Right Now
Right now I'm in Mexico loving Punta Mita's beach life, and eating tacos every meal of the day. However, one thing my photos don't showbecause there's no time to snap these momentsis Pink Styler developed a minor eye infection which I noticed as we were traveling here {thankfully breast milk seems to have solved it!}, and is cutting a tooth which is making her v-e-r-y frustrated. Blue Styler had a touch of montezuma's revenge associated with new foods and life abroad, as well as a chaffed groin from swim diapers and/or sand. We're all better now, though.

So, life happens on the road and at home. It's beautiful, it's meaningful, it's messy, and it's ongoing. And so, we keep going, because all we can do is *try* to live our best life in it's imperfect perfection. 

 

 

It is Well

[trip style = luxe + food + beach]

Editor's Note: Hello 2017! Here's a dose of wellness to kick off Trip Styler version 2017!

Built on land known as Kalahuipua’a where Hawaiian royalty used to retreat for mind-body-spirit rejuvenation, Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows is a touchstone to its well beginnings. Just stepping foot on the property you feel a sense of renewal beyond the bliss that splashes your soul when you first arrive at a destination.

With a prime position pointing due West, the arrow-shaped property is situated along the Kohala Coast where quiet coves, sugary sand, and the rugged remains of the Hualalai volcano cozy up to the coastline. 

As one of the first hotels in the area, the land is wide open {read: Views for miles} and filled with native Hawaiian flora and fauna saturating the resort from its ancient fishponds to the hotel’s atrium, a botanical garden where nature is the main showpiece. 

At this divide between surf and turf, sparkling water, historic petroglyphs, a thatched-roof spa, or dinner at the sunset's edge will make you want to relocate to the island permanently. Wherever you go in the 30-acre property, it becomes clear why the land was once a royal retreat. It is well.  

The pool at twilight.

The pool at twilight.

The supermoon I captured at 5:30am from my oceanfront suite.

The supermoon I captured at 5:30am from my oceanfront suite.

I spy a Trip Styler beelining for the shaded beach cabanas, an inclusion that ensures there's somewhere to retreat from the heat. {Most hotels charge extra for beach lounges like this...}

I spy a Trip Styler beelining for the shaded beach cabanas, an inclusion that ensures there's somewhere to retreat from the heat. {Most hotels charge extra for beach lounges like this...}

A feel-good stay: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows was the first resort in Hawaii to implement commercial-scale solar energy with a photovoltaic system so major, its panels span three acres. 

A feel-good stay: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows was the first resort in Hawaii to implement commercial-scale solar energy with a photovoltaic system so major, its panels span three acres. 

Bird's-eye view of the pools.

Bird's-eye view of the pools.

Blue Styler plotting his path for the day.

Blue Styler plotting his path for the day.

A bridge over one of the seven ancient Kalahuipua'a Fishponds used by ancient Hawaiians to raise fish and supplement their ocean fishing efforts. 

A bridge over one of the seven ancient Kalahuipua'a Fishponds used by ancient Hawaiians to raise fish and supplement their ocean fishing efforts. 

I'm pretty sure he was thinking: "Why can't I spend every day like this?" 

I'm pretty sure he was thinking: "Why can't I spend every day like this?" 

Plotting my retirement, part one...

Plotting my retirement, part one...

Plotting my retirement, part two...

Plotting my retirement, part two...

The Mauna Lani Spa, ahhhhhhh, one of the island's best wellness retreats.

The Mauna Lani Spa, ahhhhhhh, one of the island's best wellness retreats.

Outfitted in a traditional lava lava, I felt lighter the minute I stepped on the ancient lava flow’s grounds graced with thatched-roof huts, pools of orchids, and palms rustling in the wind.

Outfitted in a traditional lava lava, I felt lighter the minute I stepped on the ancient lava flow’s grounds graced with thatched-roof huts, pools of orchids, and palms rustling in the wind.

Two treatments that keep you connected with Hawaii's healing and calm your senses draw on the energy of the island’s essential elements. In the first, detoxify and destress as you sit under the sun in open-air lava sauna slathered with volcanic clay. A private outdoor shower is the treatment’s cleansing crescendo. Also using water—but a lot more of it—is the Lava Watsu Pool situated in an ancient lava tube. Here, aquatic body work focusing on tranquility, stretching, and meditation harness the power of planet Earth to fill your cup with more than just water.

Two treatments that keep you connected with Hawaii's healing and calm your senses draw on the energy of the island’s essential elements. In the first, detoxify and destress as you sit under the sun in open-air lava sauna slathered with volcanic clay. A private outdoor shower is the treatment’s cleansing crescendo. Also using water—but a lot more of it—is the Lava Watsu Pool situated in an ancient lava tube. Here, aquatic body work focusing on tranquility, stretching, and meditation harness the power of planet Earth to fill your cup with more than just water.

Room service breakfast, obvi.

Room service breakfast, obvi.

Sesame-encrusted island goat cheese with Waimea strawberries and edible flowers enjoyed {immensely} while partaking in the below view at CanoeHouse...{more below} 

Sesame-encrusted island goat cheese with Waimea strawberries and edible flowers enjoyed {immensely} while partaking in the below view at CanoeHouse...{more below} 

CanoeHouse: A mainstay in Hawaii's dining scene since the 1980s, and the resort's alfresco, oceanside eatery where Chef de Cuisine Allan Nagun dials Hawaiian regional cuisine up a notch with his take on every dish, including his signature and award-winning poke: Served in a flavor-enhancing glass and topped in truffle dust.

CanoeHouse: A mainstay in Hawaii's dining scene since the 1980s, and the resort's alfresco, oceanside eatery where Chef de Cuisine Allan Nagun dials Hawaiian regional cuisine up a notch with his take on every dish, including his signature and award-winning poke: Served in a flavor-enhancing glass and topped in truffle dust.

[Photos by @tripstyler, taken as a guest of Mauna Lani. Select photos, including lead, courtesy of the hotel. PS: I only write about standout experiences, read my strict editorial policy.]

One and Done

[trip style = luxury]

Most travel publications, including this one, encourage you to see the world, highlighting must-dos and must-stays around the globe. But, sometimes you need a break, even from the musts.

Last month when I was on The Island of Hawaii with the rest of the Trip Styler crew, we purposefully ended our trip on a relaxed note. I call it the "one and done" holiday, which is code for: We never left the hotel. 

For this one-and-done stay we chose a resort we know well: The Fairmont Orchid, which has a special place in my heart given it's where our son learned to walk, in addition to a perfect set of beach-luxe amenities. Cue an orchid- and succulent-adorned lobby; space to roam; gradual-approach beach; protected swimming lagoon; curvy pool; tropical gardens, expansive grass fields; gorgeous spa with outdoor huts; an excellent Gold Floor lounge serving breakfast, tea and hors d'oeuvres, and staff who remembered us from past visits; "kids eat free" inclusion; and value for dollar when compared to other high-end beachfront accoms {I booked two adjoining rooms}.

Truth be told, staying put felt really, really good given our normal go-go-go pace. In our break from the "musts" we let the sunand only the sundictate our "schedule."

fairmont orchid
fairmont orchid sunset
fairmont orchid tiki torch light

Find Festive at these Vancouver Hotels

four seasons vancouver Christmas treats

[trip style = staycation + luxury + food + wine]

Hotels really know how to deck the halls over the holidays. From twinkling lights to star-topped trees to cozy pop-up lounges set up with glee, finding festive is no big feat in Vancouver. Here is where to find an extra dose of magic this Christmas....{See you there} 

Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver
I said this last year and I'll say it again, the Four Seasons is Vancouver's ultimate noël hotel {and not just because they are in the centre of the shopping district}. During December this posh urban retreat offers so much in the way of glad tidings, it's enough to make Santa a little jealous. 

Start or end your day with YEW's merry band of holiday sippers, think: Housemade nog spiked with cognac, served in a Christmas Vacation Moose Mug {among other festive cocktails}. Or there's the sparkle-factor: December is "bubble month" meaning there will be a lot of cork-popping with eight bubbles offered by the glass, in addition to sommelier-selected vintage bottles brought out from the cellar.

To make the Four Seasons version of festive last a little longer than your sip or stay, check out the Festive Desk nestled among the Festival of Trees on second floor lobby. Here, housemade stocking stuffers such as macarons, caramel corn, and stollen {bringing the former pastry chef out of retirement to bake} are available for you and yours. And if you really love the person, upgrade your gift to a plush Four Seasons robe...   

vancouver four seasons holidays
four seasons vancouver holiday stollen
moose mug cog nog four seasons vancouver

Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Baby, it's cold outside, but Reflections: The Garden Terrace, is toasty and warm. As the first winter pop-up for the chic open-air lounge, the elves at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia have transformed the alfresco space into a holiday haven complete with faux furs, outdoor fire pits, strings of light, posies of mistletoe, mulled wine, and fondue {among other Christmassy treats}! Open now until Dec 30, 3-10pm Thursday to Sunday, 4-10pm Monday to Wednesday.

reflections fondue vancouver
reflections the garden terrace pop-up vancouver
food reflections vancouver winter pop-up

Fairmont Pacific Rim
It's a good thing there is approximately 2km between me and the Fairmont Pacific Rim's giovane eatery + market. If I lived any closer, I'd need a staff of personal trainers to assist me in burning off the calories from daily sugarbuns, aka gooey-fluffy bread with whipped cream in the center. To add a little Christmas spirit to an already spirited treat, giovane has upped their own ante with ho-ho-ho holiday versions of their famed buns, think: pistachio with vanilla bean whipped cream and cranberry-orange. 

[photos via hotels featured]

Post-Trip Talk: So Much to Say

IslandofHawaii Trip Styler

[trip style = sun + luxury] 

These days, when I return home from a trip, I have so much to say I don't even know where to start. There's the luxury angle, the food angle, the family angle, or a trip styled guide of all the cool finds; however, all of this takes a lot of timetime that is in short supply when there's two little ones running around my HQ {and my mind}, and I'm continuing to contribute stories to numerous travel publications. So, instead of writing about everything here on TS, lately, I say nothing at all, which is a highly unusual statement for a blogger...

Trip Styler V. 2017
Enter Trip Styler, version 2017. I'm going to write more, write often, and write in the moment to avoid a backlog of prose and pictures. I'm going fling open the window into life as a Trip Styler, because not every day is spent at the beach with a bottle of bubbles! I wish.

In this spirit, let me start to tell you about our trip November 2016 to the Island of Hawaii: part reporting, part vacation, all fabulous.

On the Suite Life
Unsure of how to handle an infant and a toddler in a standard hotel roomwe'll get there, eventuallywe stayed in a two-bedroom suite at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, a two-bed cottage at Puakea Ranch, and in two adjoining hotel rooms at The Fairmont Orchid. This was our {successful!} attempt at avoiding a chorus of night and nap wake-ups with little ones. 

Like a Supermodel
By design, we spent part of our time on the coast and part our time in the upcountry. The Island of Hawaii is best explored at all altitudes due to its unique blend of climate zones, as in, if you were keen, you could: play in the snow, play at the beach, go for a swim, hike to a waterfall, marvel at a botanical garden, ride a horse, pick a papaya, and walk beside molten lava all in one day. In short, the place is like a supermodel; blessed at every angle:  

IMG_0891.jpg

Over the coming weeks I'll "unpack" the trip to guide you toward our TS Island of Hawaii faves. In the meantime, check out my photos on Instagram --> @TripStyler.

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[photos by @tripstyler]