Travel

  • Rest & Relaxation at EVEN Hotels Downtown Brooklyn

    FYI: EVEN Hotels provided me a discounted rate on our room and a complimentary gift bag for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    even hotels brooklyn valerie pierre mommyrandr

    It’s been almost six months since the last time Jeff and I had a date night. Which meant it was time for some much-needed couple rest and relaxation,  and with the help of my mom by taking the kids overnight we would be able to do just that. But with the kids gone what would we do? It was my birthday weekend so I didn’t want to stay in house and do nothing. I’m always down for traveling, but where would we go on such short notice? Money reasons would keep us from going too far, then it hit me.

    I pass EVEN Hotels Downtown Brooklyn all the time as I live nearby. It looked decent and the location was great. And as I would learn online this hidden gem is a health-focused hotel that prides itself on giving their guests an experience that will relax their mind, body, and spirit. This was the place for us!

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    About EVEN Hotels

    We checked in on a cold and windy Saturday excited to escape the stress of life and parenting. We arrived a little after 2pm and were immediately met with a warm welcome, like literally, the receptionist gave us warm cloths for our hands. She took her time checking us in going over everything the hotel has to offer with a fine tooth comb.

    The main floor when you walk in is bright and colorful, and is broken up into five sections: the lounge area (which comes with board games and shuffle a shuffleboard table, meeting space (with computers and wifi), bar area (this speaks for itself), cafe (which is mostly stocked with healthy food and drinks), and the outdoor patio area (this is a perfect area to chillax in the warmer months).

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    even hotels

    even hotels

    even hotels

    After a quick tour we headed up to the room. We were given sweet ass room on the 12th floor (1202). It’s right off the elevator near the exit door. Now usually I don’t like being by either location due to noise, but neither one of us heard a peep. But I’m sure at some point our neighbors probably heard us. I’ma Jersey gal living in Brooklyn, which means I have no clue how to use my inside voice. Sorry to those who heard my overly loud conversation and laughter.

    But back to this room – it was HUGE! And the fragrance that greeted me, it was like a mix of healthy living and kale. But seriously, it smelled like the epitome of cleanliness and tranquility. You can easily tell the staff really makes sure their rooms are top notch. Now I usually travel with a can of Lysol to spray the room and I never take my socks off. I didn’t need that here. I took my socks off and paraded around the room like I was home. That’s what EVEN Hotels is, home away from home.

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    even hotels

    even hotels

    even hotels

    Health and wellness is more than a motto to the EVEN Hotels brand, it’s a way of life. A life they take very seriously. For starters, they have a mini gym in all of the rooms. It comes complete with resistance bands, ball, yoga mat and plenty of accessories – including a fitness manual to make sure you use all the equipment properly.

    even hotels

    even hotels

    As you can see this was one of the best amenities in the room. It’s a polite low key way of saying, there is no excuse for you to not be doing some form of exercise. But if that isn’t enough for you, venture down to the lobby to use the two-level gym that is only accessible by your room key.

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    even hotels

    even hotels

    Yup! This overnight stay at EVEN Hotels is gonna be just what the doctor ordered.

    What did we do during our stay?

    So what exactly did we do during our overnight stay? The answer is, nothing. We relaxed. Which is exactly what this hotel wants you to do. We took long hot peaceful showers, cause you know kids don’t let you bathe alone for long. We lounged in the pillow top bed and watched t.v. shows that weren’t on Sprout or Nick Jr. I worked out for all of 5 minutes. And because I love to eat we took a quick walk around the corner to Target Atlantic Center for dinner and snacks.

    I love when hotels are centrally located making it easy for guests to spread their wings and learn about the area they’re in. Being a stone’s throw from BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), Fulton Mall, Barclay Center and City Point, this makes EVEN Hotels Downtown Brooklyn a perfect choice for locals and tourists. But that’s not all, Even Hotels is so centrally located that you can take damn near any train that runs into Brooklyn to get there including the LIRR.

    Yes, after a cozy overnight stay Jeff and I sadly checked out feeling refreshed, and looking forward to the next time when we can kick our feet up in room 1202. We could have done this exact thing at home but sometimes staycations right in your hood turns out to be the best remedy for rejuvenation.

     

    What do you think about EVEN Hotels? Have you ever stayed or are you thinking about staying?

  • PERFECT FALL RETREAT IDEAS FOR ULTIMATE MOMMY RELAXATION

    In case you didn’t feel it, fall is upon us. The weather around us is changing providing us with beautiful new scenery.  What better time to get out an enjoy it than retreat. It will not only rejuvenate your mind and body, but allow you to submerse yourself in the beauty that comes with the fall season. So, why take a retreat in the fall? Well, because the kids are back in school and you’ve already had summer family time. This can be your “me time”.

    So what type of fall retreats are out there you ask? Well, there are enough to satisfy every moms wants and needs.

    Church Camps

    If you’re religious or spiritual, you might enjoy a church camp or spiritual retreat. The next time you’re at your house of worship inquire if there are any planned, and if there isn’t work with them to organize one. Many spiritual moms find this is a great way to re-center themselves spiritually so they can be good leaders to their children.

    Enrichment Retreats

    These focus on enriching your life in a variety of ways. Some specialize in music and art, or a specific location in the world, where others focus on the parts of your life you want to change and/or enrich from the experience. 

    Wellness Retreats

    Do you find yourself making excuses as to why you can’t ditch the extra weight? Do you have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or some other condition and you want to stay on top of your health to prevent it? Whatever the reason, it’s important to focus on your health and wellness and many moms put themselves last. It comes with the territory of being a mom. A wellness retreat may be just what you need right now.

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    Personal Retreats

    Sometimes it’s all about the personal journey. Moms were women before they were moms and sometimes we need to get back to that. It’s important to remember who we are so we can be happier and more fulfilled. This makes us better moms in the process. A personal retreat will help you focus on this and also give you goals you can come home with to continue on your journey.

    Empowerment Retreats

    Some retreats are designed around empowerment which would be beneficial to most moms. If you want to learn how to juggle it all without losing yourself in the process, this is the kind of retreat you can get behind. You will feel inspired and will come back roaring and ready to go!

    Cleansing / Fasting Retreats

    While these technically fall under wellness retreats, they are also a bit of a class of their own. This is because cleansing and fasting is not for everyone but it can be a fantastic way to reset your body and mind before you get back into the daily grind. There are many different types of fasting and cleansing retreats and many women find fall is a great time of year for doing these, just before the holiday season comes around.

    There are a ton of retreats to choose from.  Use Retreat Finder as a tool to help you if you are looking for specific fall retreats.

    These fall retreat ideas could be the refresher you need to get back to your “old self” again. And if you don’t want to go alone plan mommy only vacay and bring friends. Enjoy!

  • RESIDENCE INN BY MARRIOTT HONORS
    LA LA ANTHONY AS THE 2016 RESIDENT MOM OF THE YEAR

    The Resident Mom award presented by Residence Inn by Marriott highlights their continued commitment to celebrating moms. Now in it’s sixth year, Residence Inn by Marriott will recognize La La Anthony as the 2016 Resident Mom of the Year.

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    Photo Credit: Residence Inn Residence Inn by Marriott

    To celebrate Residence Inn in New York City hosted an intimate cocktail party for this year’s honoree.

    About La La Anthony
    La La Anthony is an actress, producer, New York Times bestselling author and fashion-and-cosmetics mogul whose presence in the film and TV industry is rapidly growing. But her most important roles, however, remain closer to home as a mom to son Kiyan and wife to husband Carmelo.

    As an accomplished businesswoman and role model La La encourages women and mothers, in particular, to forge their path. Throughout her career she has devoted equal parts of her time to work, home and fun, and employs this balance even when traveling. Her busy career often means celebrating holidays on the road with her family, and the superstar has picked up a few tricks along the way.

    “La La exemplifies what it means to be Resident Mom of the Year,” said Diane Mayer, vice president and global brand manager, Residence Inn. “She has proven that dedication and hard work can drive success and propel you to reach your goals. La La is a devoted mom and wife who balances her career and family, and yet, still finds time for fun and discovery. This strikes a chord for many moms, and is a perfect fit for Residence Inn, a brand that understands the importance of maximizing time and thriving while on the road.”

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    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    See a portion of the interview below where La La shares her family travel tips and why she loves Residence Inn.

    In addition to sharing those tips La La unveiled ‘La La’s Lists’, a series of curated grocery delivery lists exclusive to Residence Inn. From signature beverages, including Shirley-La’s Temples, to holiday treats such as peanut butter cup pilgrim hats and fun ideas for children’s birthdays, La La’s Lists provide creative concepts for milestone occasions.

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    la la anthony

    la la anthony

    I think these lists are great! They are simple and easy to make recipes that even I can’t mess up. They come with everything you need to host simple yet memorable events at home or to bring to larger gathering like potlucks.

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    About Residence Inn by Marriott
    Residence Inn by Marriott is the global leader in the extended-stay lodging segment, with more than 700 properties located in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Central America. Residence Inn is designed for long stays, by offering spacious suites with separate living, working, and sleeping zones. The goal is to make family travel easier and to allow moms to maximize their time with select conveniences and services including: free hot breakfast and Wi-Fi; fitness centers; pools and complimentary grocery delivery service. Most importantly, spacious suites complete with full kitchens give families the opportunity to spread out and live better during extended stays.

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    Photo Credit: Residence Inn by Marriott NYC Midtown East

    As a resident you will enjoy amenities such as fully functional kitchens in all rooms and suites; grocery delivery service; 24-hour markets and complimentary breakfasts help guests maximize their time and thrive while they travel. The RI MixÔ evening events afford guests the opportunity to socialize and connect with the local community. Each Residence Inn offers free Wi-Fi in both public and guests spaces to ensure continuous connectivity while on the road.

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    Photo Credit: Residence Inn by Marriott NYC Midtown East

    And another great aspect is Residence Inn participates in the award-winning Marriott Rewards® frequent guest program where members can earn their choice of points toward free vacations or frequent flyer mileage for dollars spent at any of the more than 4,000 Marriott hotels worldwide.

    For more information or reservations, call the Residence Inn toll-free number at 800-331-3131 or visit them online. For travel tips, the latest information or to connect with other travelers, “like” Residence Inn on Facebook and follow Residence Inn on Twitter.

    This was truly a great event. That included a sweet gift bag that included a copy of La La’s book The Power Playbook: Rules For Independence, Money and Success, a lipstick from her Motives line, three recipe cards from La La’s Lists and Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups Mini’s (not shown cause I ate them my way home from the event while reading her book…which is great!)

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    Watch my Snapchat video during my quick makeover and the tour of Residence Inn New York City.

    Oh, and make sure you join La La and Residence Inn for a Traveling Mom Twitter party on May 19 at 9:00pm EST to discuss thriving on the road, and tips for celebrating special occasions. I can’t wait for this! I’ve already marked my calendar. If you want to join use the hashtags #RIMom and #TMOM. There will be a chance to win prizes including Residence Inn gift cards, perfect for summer family travel and some much needed mommy me time away from the family.

    Thank you Residence Inn for inviting me and many congratulations to La La Anthony on receiving such an amazing and inspiring award.

    Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!!

  • 10 THINGS TO DO ON A CARNIVAL CRUISE

    Now that you’ve booked your cruise you’re probably asking yourself, what the hell is there to do once I’m on board?

    The answer is, A LOT! More than I can ever share with you here…not that I would because I want you to take a cruise and see for yourself.

    I’ve been on 3 prior cruises with Carnival and I’ve had loads of fun. I seriously don’t know what people are talking about when they say it was boring or they didn’t like it. It’s the FUN SHIP for pete’s sake! Anyway, there are a number of things to do that vary from ship to ship that will allow you to discover everything your cruise has to offer.

    So how exactly do you know what your ship has to offer and when? While on your cruise you will receive an itinerary that will list all of the activities with their times and location. You’ll receive one every night under your door for the next day. You can literally plan your entire day from start to finish.

    Carnival Cruise
    Cruise itineraries from my honeymoon in 2008
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    Tuesday, May 27th itinerary for St. Thomas (shown above)

    I know these itineraries are old and I have no doubt they look totally different today. I just showed you what they look like so that you can have an idea how  easy it is to plan your day around this daily calendar.

    And from the activities that would be found in their daily calendars I have compiled my top 10 things that you must  partake in while on your Carnival Cruise.

    Serenity, Adult Only Retreat

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    Since Jeff and I will be traveling with my mom and other family members this is where I plan spending my time when the kids aren’t with me. Yes, I’m all for going down the water slide and enjoying the party atmosphere of the Lido deck, but like on any vacation there are there times when you want to be surrounded by silence and other adults.

    Dodgeball

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball.” That is a line from the hilarious comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. I’m sad this gamem won’t be on my cruise I was queen of dodgeball back in elementary school and it would be my pleasure to show some folks a thing or two. If you don’t want to take balls to the face in such an aggressive manner there’s always volleyball. Although, if  Greg Focker is serving then you might wanna to stay away from this game too.

    Dive-In Movies

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    During the day you can relax and enjoy the Lido deck activities while concert videos from U2, Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones and other iconic groups play on the mega screen in the background. But, it’s at night when this place becomes, hands down, one of my favorite places on the entire ship. There under the stars (although I’ve personally never seen any) you watch movies. And it doesn’t matter if you like the movie or night it’s just a nice way to end the evening after a full day of fun.

    Stage Shows

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    Every night there are a number of Broadway type shows that take place.  While I am not a fan of Broadway shows (that’s a whole nuther post) I can honestly admit that I enjoy these shows. They take place in the evenings with family friendly themes taking place around 9pm time and adult themes closer to midnight. And the best part is, no two cruises perform the same show.

    SkyRide

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    If you love bike riding or zip lining then you’ll love this…picture biking on a cruise ship high above the deck and the ocean in a peddled powered go-mobile. See the ship everything around you in a way like never before. There are two go-mobiles on separate tracks to keep from there being a traffic jam in the sky.

    Carnival Live

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    How would you like to sail to your favorite destination with your favorite band or comedian? I’ve never had the pleasure of sailing on this type of cruise but it would most definitely be one worth checking out. And with tickets to the shows as low as $30 (in addition to your cruise ticket) why pass up such a great opportunity. For a complete list of all the acts taking place for 2016 click here.

    Hasbro Game Show

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    Play giant versions of your favorite games like Connect 4, Yahtzee and Simon to name a few. Team up with friends and family to wine ship board cash and prizes. I played The Newlywed game on my honeymoon cruise (I have video of it somewhere) and despite Jeff’s objections to even going on stage we had a blast. And we WON! But be ready to fight for your spot as a contestant as the competition is stiff as everyone in the room wants to be chosen.

    Cooking Demonstration

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    Yall know I love to eat so of course I’m going to take a cooking course on how to make some of the dishes that will be served on the ship. I don’t know what they’re gonna cook but I do know it had better include how they make that chocolate brownie cake. I had it back in 2007 on my first cruise and I’ve been salivating for it ever since.

    Cloud 9 Thermal Suite

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    This place speaks for itself. This is the ultimate spa at sea. Strictly for those 18 years and older this is the perfect place to get rejuvenated and recharged. I currently don’t  have any massage or facial treatments scheduled but I do plan on making myself very familiar with their steam and sauna rooms.

    Alchemy Martini Tasting

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    Photo Credit: Carnival Cruise

    Someone said cocktails? Choose four martini’s to taste and then create a full serving size of your favorite. If martini’s aren’t your thing then sign up for Cruise the Vineyards. Both of these activities are for those 21 and over.

    There are enough activities here (and on the Carnival Cruise website) to keep you busy the entire length of your cruise…and then some!

    Ever taken a cruise? What was your favorite thing to do on the ship? If you’ve never taken a cruise what would be the one thing that you would have to try?

    *Note: Some of the activities listed aren’t on all Carnival ships. You will have to make sure the cruise you choose will have the activities available, and some of them will require an additional fee to participate.