Entries in ‘Spa’ Journal

Eco-Friendly Hotels that Make Travelers Happy

Wednesday April 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM | 0 Comments

Even though Earth Day reminds us to think about our environmental footprint each April, some hotels make an earth friendly commitment year round. Here are a sampling of eco-friendly hotels worthy of a shout out. One of my favorite hotels — Boone Tavern, made it on Booking.com’s eco-friendly hotel list.

Historic and eco-friendly Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Historic and eco-friendly Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky is proof that history can meet modern times. Built in 1909, this beauty that’s also a Historic Hotel of America, is part of Berea College and a showcase for its culinary and hotel management programs. The hotel and tavern’s renovations include: energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, energy star lighting, solar tubes and skylights, heat recovery coils, and low VOC paints and adhesives. Guest rooms and common areas feature handcrafted furniture that represent Kentucky’s craft heritage, as well as, Berea’s fame as the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.

Boone Tavern rooms feature hand-crafted furniture

Boone Tavern rooms feature hand-crafted furniture

Along with the environmentally friendly building that earned Boone Tavern its LEED Gold Certification, Boone Tavern’s restaurant is another reason to visit. The restaurant’s traditional American cuisine features locally grown ingredients. Signature dishes like “Chicken Flakes in a Bird’s Nest” and “Spoonbread” are the don’t miss, although I can vouch that anything on the menu is splendid. Still, the spoonbread is what you will talk about years later.

ecofriendly Bardessono-Courtyard

The eco-friendly Bardessono courtyard has a stunning view

If you go, take time to browse in Boone Tavern’s gift shop and the other shops that line Berea’s streets. There’s a reason why this is the folk art capital. The hotel’s shop includes items made by the college’s students. Hand-woven items and hand-crafted furniture are part of the bounty.

One of Nancy’s favorites also made it on the eco-friendly hotel list. Bardessono Hotel and Spa in Yountville, California is a perfect pairing for a trip to Napa Valley and wine tasting. As Nancy discovered during her stay at Bardessono, one of three LEED Platinum-certified hotels in the United States, “it is easy to be green while looking stunningly chic.”

Cavallo Point where almost every room has a stunning view

Cavallo Point where almost every room has a stunning view

Cavallo Point in Sausalito is another California hotel with LEED Certification. The reuse of historic materials and landscaping with native plants are just part of Cavallo Point’s dedication to achieving the Green Seal Environment Standard for U.S. Lodging Properties. The hotel’s energy-efficient appliances that automatically switch to sleep mode when not in use and the programmable thermostats and motion sensors that reduce heating and cooling costs are some reasons why Cavallo Point is an eco-friendly hotel. The property doesn’t use Styrofoam containers and it recycles plastic. Refillable soap dispensers and cloth napkins are other environmentally friendly practices within the hotel.

At Cavallo Point, going green comes with a view. Most of the resort’s guest rooms have views of San Francisco, the bay or the Golden Gate Bridge.

City Flats Hotel, Grand Rapids--a resuse of a landmark jewelry building

City Flats Hotel, Grand Rapids–a resuse of a landmark jewelry building

Michigan is another state with two eco-friendly hotels that deserve applause. City Flats Hotel in Holland was the first hotel in the Midwest to achieve LEED Gold status. Step inside for proof that eco-friendly, luxury and creativity go hand in hand. Each of the hotel guest rooms has its own unique flair. Each hotel room’s green decor includes: cork flooring installed with low-VOC adhesives, naturally hypoallergenic bamboo linens, curtains lined with a black-out fabric to reduce energy needed to heat and cool room, light fixtures with energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, and countertops made from Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified recycled glass and concrete. Also, hotel furnishings are locally made.

The CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids is another Michigan hotel with LEED Gold Certification. Its eco-friendly combo includes the unique features of the City Flats Hotel in Holland and is an example of turning a city landmark into a new use. The building was once Fox Jewelers.

Along with booking at any of the hotel’s websites, check out Booking.com.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein of Midwest Travel Writers Association.  All photos except Bardessono courtesy of Booking.com. Bardessono photo by Nancy D. Brown.

South Point Casino Hotel Spa, Equestrian Center in Las Vegas

Friday September 27, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 6 Comments

South Point Casino

South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa Review

Everything about Nevada is big; from Hoover Dam, to the casinos on the Las Vegas strip. One thing I didn’t expect to see in a Las Vegas casino hotel was a larger-than life bronze statue of legendary poker player, mobster, casino owner and cowboy Benny Binion, sitting on top of his roping horse, near the entrance to South Point Casino’s equestrian center on the casino floor. This really shouldn’t surprise me, as South Point is famous for its arena and equestrian center.  South Point Casino is the only hotel I know of where you can drive up in your horse trailer, unload your horses and check into your hotel room all at the same time.



South Point Hotel suite

South Point Hotel suite #2481

Stay and play at South Point Casino Hotel and Spa

The South Point Casino, located on the tail south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, features 2,163 hotel rooms, 11 restaurants, a movie theater, bowling alley, weekly entertainment in the showroom, a swimming pool and Spa Costa del Sur, in addition to the equestrian center, arena and exhibit halls. In other words, you can stay and play at South Point without leaving the grounds.

After a day of watching cutting horses work with cattle (many of the equestrian events are open and free to the public) I checked into my king suite #2481, with a city view and view of the parking lot. My non-smoking room rented for $79. plus tax during the weekend and $49. on a week day – check the website for details. The room included a Serta Perfect Sleeper Point Plush mattress, 300 thread count linens and Archive bath and body amenities.

South Point Hotel pool

South Point Hotel swimming pool in Las Vegas

Rooms offer LED screens, high speed internet, separate bathroom with combination shower and bath, large closet with safe, desk and in room coffee maker. There is a daily resort fee of $14. per room that covers in room Wi-Fi, fitness center, local and toll free in room telephone calls, boarding pass printing, airport shuttle (based on availability) and casino discount booklet.

South Point dining options

It was my good fortune to be in Las Vegas during Restaurant Week. Restaurant Week in Las Vegas is not only a good value at participating restaurants, $5 of each meal purchased is donated to Three Square to help end hunger in Southern Nevada. After dining at four of South Point’s restaurants, I have come to the conclusion that large portions are key to the casino’s success. In listening in on diners conversations with waitstaff, most everyone walks away satisfied.

Cowboy sculpture, "Saturday Night" Kelly Graham

Cowboy artwork hangs outside Cinch Saloon at South Point Hotel and Equestrian Center

As I walked into Silverado Steak House, I was thrilled to be surrounded by cowboys here attending the Las Vegas Cutting Horse Association Futurity. Call me an equestrian groupie; I like the smell of horses and leather and the jingle jangle of spurs hitting the floor as cowboys and cowgirls amble along.  After an appetizer of Thai crab salad, my Kona crusted flat iron prime rib with cafe de Paris butter arrived sizzling on the plate, accompanied with asparagus, a hand tossed salad and perfectly baked potato. A flavorful Merlot from Lodi, California was included with the meal, as was a chocolate molten cake paired with vanilla ice cream. A satisfying meal for any cowgirl.

Lunch at the Big Sur Oyster Bar was overkill. A Las Vegas local recommended the lobster grilled cheese on sourdough with white cheddar ($24.) While the waitress suggested the Maryland jumbo lump crab cocktail ($16.) Like a kid in a candy store, I ordered both and instantly regretted my decision as soon as the crab cocktail arrived. With its all meat lump crab, this was a wonderful meal in itself for seafood lovers. Then came the lobster sandwich, stuffed with slipper meat from China or Indonesia and house cooked potato chips. According to the chef, Maine lobster is cost prohibitive.

prime rib, South Point Steakhouse

Kona prime rib at Silverado Steakhouse, South Point Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

Don Vito’s Italian restaurant was also participating in Restaurant Week. My dinner began with bacon wrapped scallops, followed by heirloom tomato salad, Scampi Puttanesca over spinach tagliatelle, concluding with warm chocolate bread pudding. The house Cabernet Sauvignon accompanied the meal with $5 per meal given to Three Square. Service was attentive. Again, large portions – the cowboy seated across from my table wasn’t able to finish his meal either.

Breakfast the next morning found me at Coronado Cafe, open 24 hours, this restaurant reminded me of Denny’s – friendly service, value-pricing. I ordered the three cheese omelette with buttered wheat toast and hash brown potatoes ($7.95.)

Costa del Sur Spa, South Point Hotel, Las Vegas

Make time for Costa del Sur Spa at South Point Hotel, Las Vegas

Costa del Sur spa

I’m not a fan of Las Vegas casinos, nor the accompanying cigarette smoke. I’d rather spend my money in the spa. To date, one of my best spa experiences was found at Costa del Sur. This 40,000 square foot spa features 28 treatment rooms, a relaxation room, jacuzzi and eucalyptus steam room.  I recommend you arrive at least 30 minutes early – why not make it a spa day – to enjoy the entire spa experience! Daily spa passes are offered to hotel guests for $30. My insider tip: ask for Denise – she has been with Costa del Sur since it opened at South Point in 2006.

My 80 minute Goddess of the Sun Ritual body treatment started off with a full body exfoliation with sugar scrub. This followed with a hydrating body wrap, along with a cool stone facial and warm Moroccan oil scalp massage ($170.) If you want to really knock your socks off, combine the Goddess treatment with a hot stone, deep tissue sports therapy massage (additional charge) and throw in Reflexology, using pressure points on the feet. Be warned; this custom spa treatment will leave you so relaxed you’ll be headed to bed early. As Denise says, “it’s all about getting the body to exhale.” Amen to that!

slot machines, South Point Casino, Las Vegas

Hotel room artwork and slot machines feature horses at South Point Hotel

Insider tip

Gambler or not, make sure to sign up for the South Point Club Card – it’s free (must be over 21) and gives you discounts. And who doesn’t like to save a buck, go bowling for free or get a complimentary dessert with dinner? For the night owls, Coronado Cafe offers graveyard specials from midnight until 6:00 a.m.

Need to know

South Point Casino, Hotel and Spa does not accept pets. The South Point Equestrian Center does not board individual horses, nor do they offer horseback riding to the public.

Check-in time: 3:00 p.m.

Check-out time: 12:00 p.m.

If You Go:

South Point Hotel Casino and Spa (702) 796-7111

9777 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89183

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Top photo courtesy of South Point Hotel. I was a guest of South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Related Posts:

How to be a VIP in Las Vegas, Nevada

Things to See and Do in Las Vegas, Nevada

Luxury in Lisbon, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon,Portugal

Friday July 19, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 4 Comments

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon lobby

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon lobby

Walking into the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is like walking into an art gallery of a private home – albeit a very lovely and large home. While personalized service is a hallmark of  all Four Seasons hotels, Hotel Ritz Lisbon is unique in that it is family owned. At every turn the staff is welcoming and friendly.

Opened in 1959 as Hotel Ritz Lisbon, all 49,212 square feet of the hotel has been under Four Seasons management since January of 1998. Built by Portuguese craftsmen, the 10 story hotel is a mix of  Louis XVI style and art deco design.


Lisbon, Portugal view

Rooftop running track with 360-degree views of Lisbon

Hilltop views of Lisbon

Offering hilltop views of Old Lisbon, St George’s Castle and the Tagus River, the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is centrally located by Eduardo VII Park and is about 15 minutes from Lisbon’s city center.

Art aficionados take note;  the Hotel Ritz Lisbon has the largest privately owned Portuguese contemporary art collection in the city.

Of the 282 luxury hotel rooms, all but 10 rooms offer balcony views.  All hotel rooms are air conditioned and include a sitting area, large work desk, fresh flowers (orchids were in my room, as well as a gorgeous display in the hotel lobby) king bed, television, mini bar, safe and ample closet storage with built-in shelves.


Marvelous marble bathrooms

In addition to the marvelous marble bathrooms, the room features a separate bath tub, shower stall and toilet with bidet. Bath amenities are from L’Occitane, Provence, France.


Four Seasons Lisbon hotel room

Deluxe king room with Eduardo VII Park view

Lisbon through Four Seasons eyes

Excellent concierge service is a phone call away for arranging personal outings. For the connected traveler, the Four Seasons offers “Lisbon through Four Seasons Eyes – City Guide” http://ritzlisbon.com. The insider’s guide is available in pdf or flip pages for the computer savvy and recommends unique experiences and day trip adventures from a local perspective.




Four Seasons Lisbon Pool

Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon Pool

Fit and fabulous Four Seasons

For the traveler who is interested in keeping fit on the road, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon puts its best foot forward with one of the most beautiful roof top running tracks in the world. It’s not that the running track is beautiful; it’s all about the 360-degree views of Lisbon, Portugal and its many landmarks. Gorgeous! If this doesn’t inspire you to get out and run (or walk) off those pasteis de nata calories, I’m not sure what will.

Of course, I always prefer the spa to the track. Head downstairs to the Four Seasons Hotel spa, with its four treatment rooms, or take a dip in the 59-foot indoor, heated swimming pool. I didn’t have a chance to experience the spa on this visit to Lisbon, but if I did, I would have tried a facial treatment using Swiss Perfection products. As an active adventure baby boomer traveler, I’m all about anti-aging treatments for my skin.


Four Seasons Lisbon Varanda Restaurant

Four Seasons Lisbon Varanda Restaurant

Four Seasons Varanda Restaurant

The 36.50 Euro breakfast is served in Varanda Restaurant from 6:30 – 10:30 a.m. Varanda Restaurant also offers a lovely buffet lunch with seating inside and on the outdoor patio.

Make sure to try the Mil Folhas (English translation is 1,000 leaves) multi-layered pastry that is a specialty of Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon.

Need to know

My deluxe king room with Eduardo VII Park view, #837, rented for 500-560 euro per night during high season. Breakfast is not included in the price of the hotel room. Check the website below for details.

Internet access is available for free in the lobby. Wifi is currently 14 euros per day, but hotel management tells me they are looking at different pricing options.

Check in: 1:00 p.m.

Check out: 12:00 p.m.

Four Seasons Lisbon Mil Folhas

Try the Mil Folhas, a Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon specialty

Insider tip

For those of us who travel with pets, this is your dog’s lucky day – the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon must love pets because there is no charge to bring a small dog with you to the hotel. That’s right – your dog sleeps for free at the Four Seasons in Lisbon!

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


Hotel Lisboa Ritz

Hotel Lisboa Ritz

If You Go

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon (351) 213-811-400

Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 88

1099-039 Lisbon, Portugal

Article written by and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon.

Related Posts:

Bairro Alto Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal

Things to See and Do in Lisbon, Portugal