Custom Hotel at LAX, Los Angeles

Wednesday May 1, 2013 at 7:07 PM | 0 Comments

Custom Hotel near LAX in Los Angeles.

Custom Hotel near LAX in Los Angeles.

Among a glut of colorless generic airport hotels, L.A.’s Custom Hotel is a breath of fresh air.

Make no mistake — it’s still an airport hotel located in a charmless neighborhood 15 mins from LAX (not counting rental car return — for that add 1/2 hour).

But given that it’s part of the Joie de Vivre brand, there are nice touches like the sleek, stylish lobby, a poolside bar open in the evening, and Deck 33, a restaurant overlooking the postage stamp-sized pool that serves Pacific Rim cuisine.

300-count linens on comfortable beds.

300-count linens on comfortable beds.

Other JDV niceties include a “relaxation room” with a massage chair and a game room with Xbox Kinect. A multi-tiered sun deck features five cabanas and a fire pit, and there are two fitness centers, one for weights and one for cardio. There’s even an art gallery featuring the work of students from nearby Otis College of Art and Design

As with all of the JDV properties I’ve been to, Custom Hotel has a theme. Mid-century aviation is the motif here, with staff dressed in mod, 1960s airline-inspired outfits.

Bathrooms are tiny but stylish.

Bathrooms are tiny but stylish.

Guestroom amenities include free wifi, 300-thread count linens, and dual-paned windows (think airport proximity!) but perhaps the coolest feature is the controllable LED lighting system for color personalization. Each floor has a different color and graphic pattern and in the rooms, guests can personalize their room with a color-changing LED lighting system installed in the windows.

Custom, indeed.

Insider Tip

Custom Hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to and from LAX daily from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. Just call them when you arrive at baggage claim and have bags in-hand. For LAX drop-off, a shuttle runs every half hour on the hour and is based on availability.

Custom Hotel
8639 Lincoln Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

Contributed by Lisa Dion of Friscomama. Photos courtesy of Joie de Vivre and Dan Dion.

Ritz Carlton, Magical Jewel Revealed in Half Moon Bay, CA

Friday April 26, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 2 Comments

Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, California hotel review

If you find yourself in Half Moon Bay, and you are patient, like a fisherman waiting to hook a prize catch, you will be rewarded when the morning fog lifts. A magical jewel will be revealed; The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay.

Situated a short and scenic 23 mile drive southwest of San Francisco International Airport, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is magically perched on the bluffs of Northern California’s coast.



Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay ocean view

My ocean view from south facing room at Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay in California.

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay ocean views

My room #551 on the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge level, offered an ocean view of Half Moon Bay, gas fireplace, bathroom with marble walled shower and sunken bath rub, and rented for $605.

South facing rooms, like mine, typically rent for $455-$505, depending on the time of year.


Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge

If you want to have access to the Ritz Carlton Club Lounge, you’ll need to pony up $150 extra, unless you are already staying on the Club Lounge level.

If you are staying on property for your meals, this is a cost effective way to go, as the Club Lounge includes, a hot breakfast, lunch items, hors d’ oeuvres, beverages (alcohol, coffee, tea, juice and water) and desserts.

Ritz-Carlton cookie jars

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay cookie jars

Ritz-Carlton cookie jar

While your children will love the candies and bottled drinks on display in the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge, I noticed just as many adults dipping their hand into the cookie jar.

For the health conscious eaters among us, there are plenty of fresh fruits, juices and several types of waters available. There is also a computer available for your use.

Always check the website for current pricing and hotel specials.

Bagpipes in Half Moon Bay

Listen for the Scottish Bagpipes at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. Every night, except Monday, from around 5 p.m. to sunset, be serenaded by bagpipes. If you prefer a little alone time, cozy up with a glass of wine and blanket, or grab the kids and make s’mores by the outdoor fire pits.

Ritz-Carlton Coastal View room

Ritz-Carlton coastal view room #551

Ritz-Carlton sleep experience

If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, you know that sleep is an essential travel element.

The Ritz-Carlton Sleep Experience is not to be ignored. With their handcrafted sheets, hypo allergenic down and feather pillows and duvet, you’ll be lulled to sleep with the sound of ocean waves crashing in the distance.

I haven’t mentioned the Ritz-Carlton spa because I didn’t get a chance to make it down stairs. If you have experienced the spa, let me know what you think.


Need to know before you travel:

4:00 p.m. check in

12:00 p.m. check out

Pillar Point Harbor

Fishermen at Pillar Point Harbor offer iCoastside’s FishLine

Insider Tips to Half Moon Bay

If you venture into downtown Half Moon Bay, here are my local dining recommendations: Sam’s Chowder House (order the lobster roll) & Half Moon Bay Brewing Company (order the Portuguese Fisherman’s  Stew and Maverick’s Amber Ale.) For those who prefer to take fresh fish home, visit iCoastside’s FishLine, an online list of fishermen who are selling fish straight from their boats in Half Moon Bay, California.


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

If You Go:

The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay  (650) 712-7000

One Miramontes Point Road

Half Moon, California 94019

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 Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.

Related Posts:

Cameron’s Inn & Restaurant, Half Moon Bay

Things to See and Do in Half Moon Bay, California

SlotFlops Sandal Travel Gear Review

Wednesday April 24, 2013 at 5:05 PM | 0 Comments


SlotFlops sandal review

As a mother, beach-goer, swimmer and traveler, I’m always on the look out for products that offer good value and serve a functional purpose – in other words, I’m a value shopper.

Recently, I came across a clever new product that is affordable and the ideal Mother’s Day present under $25.  SlotFlops are flip flops with slots designed to carry credit cards, hotel keys and identification at the beach or pool.



SlotFlops for the traveler


SlotFlops at the beach, pool or on a cruise ship

As a world traveler, I have learned to pack and travel light. Nothing goes in my suitcase unless it serves a need. Flip flops are ideal to wear at the beach and at the pool. Unfortunately, credit cards, identification, money and hotel keys are often needed during trips to the beach and pool, but who wants to carry a purse, wallet or backpack with money and ID left behind when you venture into the water? SlotFlops are the answer to this travel dilemma.


SlotFlops for the security conscious

SlotFlops are an innovative and secure way to carry credit cards and ID in the sole of the sandal.  SlotFlops can be warn at the bar, on a cruise ship, at the swimming pool or on the beach. They are also good to carry in your purse, suitcase or backpack when those cute high heels are killing your feet.


SlotFlops sandal

SlotFlops, affordable footwear for security-minded travelers

SlotFlops for men

My husband thought the SlotFlops were a cool idea. He did ask if the SlotFlops included a bottle opener on the bottom of the sole.  I gave him a mini-opener that is able to fit in the slot!  Problem solved. SlotFlops come in several colors and sizes for both men and women and may be purchased on the website or at

Follow Archport on Twitter and follow Nancy D. Brown on Twitter for travel gear reviews.


SlotFlops retail for $24.95. Check the website for details.

Where to Buy:



SlotFlopsRelated Posts:

Lindsay Phillips SwitchFlops

Waterproof Sandals


SlotFlops shoe review written and pool photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. SlotFlops flexible sole photo courtesy of ArchPort. ArchPort supplied me with these SlotFlops sandals for review.