Entries in ‘Lodging’ Journal

Morro Bay Lodging, Los Osos, California Central Coast

Wednesday December 10, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 3 Comments

Everything about the bayside community of Los Osos and Baywood Park is off the beaten track. If you like stepping off the tourist path and being surrounded in nature, I have a secret to share with you. Her name is The Green Cottage and she is a charming little gem. In fact, she reminds me of a treasured piece of sea glass. Worn by the waves, recycled by the sea, this immaculate guest house, built around 1920, is a family treasure filled with antiques, nautical-themed art and heart.

Morro Bay, Green Cottage, Los Osos

Morro Bay from Green Cottage, Los Osos. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Perched on the southern tidal estuary of Morro Bay, The Green Cottage has been in Pandora Nash Karner’s family since the 1950’s. Pandora has thought of everything to make this vacation rental feel like home.

“We try to make our guests feel like they are staying at their favorite aunt’s cottage while she is away on some exotic sailboat cruise in the South Seas,” say Green Cottage owner Pandora Nash Karner with a grin.


The Morro Bay and Morro Rock views are lovely, the quiet profound, and the birding is spectacular for Audubon afficionados, as well as the casual shore bird watcher.

After a day of exploring Montaña de Oro State Park, walking El Moro Elfin Forest’s boardwalk loop and wandering the nearby Audubon Sweet Springs Nature Preserve, I was looking forward to a restful sleep in the king size bed in the cottage.

Green Cottage, Morro Bay, California

Take a peek inside this Morro Bay cottage. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Green Cottage, quilt

Pandora made this quilt! Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Switching on the electric fireplace, I plopped on the couch and opened the binder to review the over 400 DVD selection. You won’t find TV’s or telephones at the cottage – this place is all about re-connecting with nature (and your partner) but there is WiFi in the cottage and a desk in the quiet room if that’s important to you.

Green Cottage, Morro Bay, California

Quiet room photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Green Cottage kitchen, Los Osos, California

Breakfast by the bay. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

My morning started with fresh ground SLO Roasted coffee from San Luis Obispo, a basket of fresh fruit and yogurt left for me in the fridge, as well as a large selection of tea. If you plan to cook in the cottage, there is a petite kitchen garden on the deck, spices and pans in the pantry, a dishwasher, stove and a microwave oven, too.

The rental fee for 2 nights is $490.00 with a two night minimum, in addition to a $100.00 cleaning fee and $250.00 refundable security deposit. San Luis Obispo County charges an 11% tax ($64.90).

Insider Tip

If you find yourself in Los Osos on Monday, there is a friendly Farmers’ Market in Baywood Park. It’s a 15 minute walk or 3 minute drive from the cottage. Open from 2:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., the market is located between Santa Maria Street and 2nd Street. There are cloth market bags in the pantry.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter.

Green Cottage, Morro Bay, California

Green Cottage photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:

The Green Cottage (805) 528-1718
356 Mitchell Drive
Los Osos, California 93422

You might also like Things to do in Los Osos. Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of The Green Cottage. As always, all opinions are my own.

Review: Embassy Suites Napa Valley

Friday December 5, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 1 Comment

Back in the day (we’re talking late 1980’s) downtown Napa was not the happening spot that it is today. My husband and I lived in the apartments next to Embassy Suites Napa Valley and would walk over to order their killer cheese bread. The bread is long gone from the Napa Valley menu – it was probably called killer cheese bread due to the artery-clogging goodness – and along with the updated healthy menu items comes a $4 million+ re-model of the entire hotel.

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", hotel review

Embassy Suites hotel review. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


What I like about this property; the all-suite hotel is conveniently located in downtown Napa, so if you want to do Napa like a local, you’ll be able to walk, dine and drink without driving. You’ll need your car to explore further up valley, but if Napa is your focus, the hotel is right next to Highway 29 – the first downtown Napa exit. Additionally, as a business traveler, I love the free, fast wifi! Good water pressure in the shower of this well lighted bathroom, too. FYI, no bath tub, but there is an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, as well as a small fitness center.



The 205 room hotel is pet-friendly and charges a one time $75 pet fee. Dogs receive a goodie bag upon arrival! All rooms are suites with king or double bed options and include a desk and sleeper sofa in the front suite. The updated rooms include plenty of electrical outlets for charging your electronics. If you are a light sleeper, I recommend requesting a third floor location. My neighbors above me were walking around until 11:30 p.m. and up early the next morning.

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley" swans, hotel, "Embassy Suites"

Swans in the hotel courtyard. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", hotel, pool

Outdoor pool. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", swimming pool

Indoor pool & hot tub. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

In addition to a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, guests are welcomed to a complimentary reception for evening cocktails served nightly from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Breakfast is served in the atrium Monday – Friday from 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
"Embassy Suites", "Napa Valley", breakfast

Cooked to order breakfast at Embassy Suites. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

"Embassy Suites Napa Valley", atrium

Cocktails served nightly in the atrium. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip
In addition to being pet-friendly, Embassy Suites has lovely grounds with water features, fountains, ducks and swans. If you are traveling with kids, the birds are fed in the morning for good viewing. See if you can spot the black swans!

For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter.

"Embassy Suites" suite, "Napa Valley"

King Suite Pool View. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm

If You Go:
Embassy Suites Napa Valley (800) Embassy or (707) 253-9540
1075 California Boulevard
Napa, California 94559

Hotel review, video and photos courtesy of Lodging Editor Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Embassy Suites while researching an article for another publication.

Le Manoir Richelieu, Charlevoix, Canada

Wednesday December 3, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

Winter, spring, summer, fall, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu has it all. It may sound cliche, but it’s true. My visit to this castle on the cliff was timed to coincide with the leaves changing color in the Charlevoix region of Québec. I would have been just as happy to explore this grand hotel in the winter.

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, hotel, Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada

Hotel Review: Fairmont le Manoir Richelieu. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown



spa, Fairmont le Manoir Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

Spa Suite with St. Lawrence River view. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Imagine climbing into your in-suite hot tub after a day of skiing or snowmobiling – there’s also an Amerispa on property, as well as a health club. Le Manoir Richelieu is the only Canadian luxury resort hotel that I know of offering indoor, heated underground parking to snowmobiles! Additionally, the chateau offers a free ski shuttle and 110 miles of trails for snowshoeing, making the Fairmont Richelieu one of Conde Nast Travelers top 20 picks for best ski resorts.
Fairmont le Manoir Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

Jacuzzi suite with water view. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

My room, a king bed, with St. Lawrence River view Jacuzzi suite, rented for $299. Canadian – check the website for current pricing and package deals. There is a $13.95 daily resort fee that covers high speed internet and access to indoor and outdoor swimming pools and such. Amenities include air-conditioning, free wifi (if you are a Fairmont President’s Club member -free to sign up) bathrobes, cable tv & coffee maker.

Fairmont le Manoir Richelieu, pool, Quebec, Canada

Outdoor swimming pool. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

pool, Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

Indoor swimming pool. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu is also ecoconscious, earning green keys awarded by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, a system recognizing the hotel’s commitment to energy, water and waste conservation, while participating in community outreach and environmental stewardship.

Unlike properties that are LEED certified and built from the ground up with strict adherence to eco-friendly regulations, it’s not easy being green when you opened as a Manor in 1899. The historic property, originally built for Americans traveling by sea, was completely destroyed by fire in 1928, yet like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the hotel was rebuilt and re-opened in 1929. Since then, the 405 room luxury resort has added on with an eye toward conservation, while maintaining the charming elegance of a countryside manor house.

And what countryside manor would be complete without a dog to welcome guests to the property? The Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu is pet-friendly. Whether you are traveling with your own dog or you simply like pets, stop by and say bonjour to Jordy, Richelieu’s canine ambassador. The other ambassador at Le Manoir Richelieu is the Beluga whale mascot. Perle is available, with advance notice, to tuck your little one into bed at night.

Chef's Table, Fairmont le Manoir Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

Reserve an evening at the Chef’s Table. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


Insider tip

Foodies will love exploring Charlevoix’s Flavor Trail, as well as the hotel’s many restaurants with seasonally changing menus. My insider tip, reserve an evening at the Chef’s Table. Seventy five percent of products used on the menu come from local producers within a 50k radius. Priced at $85. Canadian for a four-course meal ($135. when paired with wine) guests are treated to dinner with Fairmont Chef Patrick Turcot. Or select the Farm to Table 2-night package. For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer @NancyDBrown on Twitter and @FairmontManoir @FairmontHotels.

cannon, Fairmont Manoir Richelieu, Quebec, Canada

Enjoy this castle on the cliff. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

If You Go:

Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu 1 418 665 3703 or (866) 540-4464
181, rue Richelieu
La Malbaie Québec, Canada G5A 1X7

You might also like
Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, Québec, Canada

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Thanks to Québec Tourism and Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu for arranging my accomomdations. All opinions are my own.