Monday, March 31, 2008

Low Cost Mini-Breaks

One thing I know about men, is that they ALWAYS make time for themselves. Whether it’s signing up a basketball league, scheduling monthly golf rounds or watching the game with friends, men never seem too “busy” to make time for themselves. Women on the other hand (at least most that I know), make up a zillion excuses why we “can’t” make time for ourselves…kids, job demands, budget tight, etc, etc, etc.

Now, with gas prices hitting records highs (since when is $3.09/gallon at Costco considered cheap gas???) and airfare prices hitting the roof, going on a simple roadtrip or weekend getaway may be too costly. Here are a few ideas for getting your Queen Bee time in, without breaking the bank:

1. Book a night or two in your own city’s downtown area. Check out the ultra-trendy, Kimpton Hotel chain. Definitely created to make the everyday traveler feel like a VIP, each hotel has a variety of themed suites and packages, perfect for a fabulous night out with friends! Check out Chicago’s Hotel Allegro’s Rock Star Suite and settle in for a swank night of fun and gossip with your diva friends. Or book one of their specialty packages, such as the Celebrity Hedonist which includes the following:

Imagine a little celebrity of your own. Be a star and paint the town red with this package:
~ Accommodations in a Premier King Guest Room
~ Pre-party, top shelf, cocktail hour in your sparkling, newly renovated guestroom
~ Get VIP access to the hottest clubs—no long lines, no cover charges
~ Option for a late checkout—feel free to sleep in the next morning
~ Day After kit that includes bottled water, a baseball cap and an eye-cooling mask
~ Hosted evening wine reception in our lobby living room
~ Needs to be booked three days prior to arrival
*Must contact the concierge for pre-party set-up and night club choices

DC’s Hotel Helix also offers various getaway packages, such as the Dive into Divadom, which includes a personal shopper, limo service, champagne and other fun extras!

2. Hail a cab and book a Nail Taxi party. Nail Taxi, a mobile nail boutique, brings the nail salon to you! What could be better than relaxing in your own basement-turned salon or hotel suite, with cocktails/mocktails, while getting a superb manicure and pedicure!?

3. Shop indoors – Simple and fun. Hunt down your friendly Mary Kay, Passion Parties or Body Shop at Home consultant for night in of SHOPPING! A new trend that’s hitting the streets of DC and LA, AccessSoiree parties bring hip handbags and accessories to you and your girlfriends, while you shop in the comfort of your home. Hello!

Stay tuned for more budget-friendly escapes that will keep you calm and connected, without maxing out your plastic! More cool ideas - post them in the comments section! ;)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

La Diva Loca 2008 - It's not too late!

Still dreaming of sun? It's not too late to join the Divas in Los Cabos! If interested, hurry and let me know, as airfares are continuing to creep up ;)

The Divas are at it again! Mark your calendars - stash some cash and grab your passports– The Divas are headed to Los Cabos, Mexico and you don’t want to miss out!

Thursday, June 26 through Sunday, June 29

**Average package price $1,015**

Call for pricing from your departure city.

Package includes roundtrip airfare to Los Cabos airport, 3 nights hotel at deluxe all-inclusive resort, roundtrip transportation between Los Cabos airport and hotel and PLENTY of DIVA-style freebies!

What is “Living La DIVA Loca”?
Living La DIVA Loca is the ultimate diva getaway! We’ve gathered fabulous women like you to join us in Los Cabos, Mexico for a weekend packed full of fun and excitement. The only rule is to come with a pleasant attitude ready to PAR-TAY!

What are the dates of the trip?

Thursday, June 26 through Sunday, June 29 - Your exact flight times depend on the city that you are traveling from and will be included in your trip itinerary. We’ve done our best to ensure that you have a full day on Thursday to kick off your vacation!

What does the package price include?
Your package price includes roundtrip airfare to San Jose del Cabo airport, 3 nights/4 days at the all-inclusive Intercontinental Presidente Los Cabos resort, all resort meals and beverage service (including premium alcohol), airport transfers, hotel taxes and gratuity. You’ll also receive other freebies and surprises along the way!

Say no more – I’m convinced! What’s the next step?
Simply start stashing your cash and email Shanel Evans for a Travel Profile! Shanel can be reached at or (866) 293-5116 x0

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Austin Hot Spots

Well, what do you know - I click on Rachel Ray's website to pull a recipe and there's a full feature on her magazine website on Austin hot spots! I haven't marked my must-do list just yet, however, here a few that sound interesting:

301 W Riverside Drive

Austin, Texas

World famous Chicken Fried Steak, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Pickle Spears and Chicken Cheese A Dillos are only some of the delicacies at Threadgill's. Stop by Threadgill's for the live music and good eats, nightly.

Any place bold enough to fry a pickle, I must go check out ;)

Hula Hut
3825 Lake Austin Blvd

Austin, Texas

Hula Hut combines traditional Mexican food with Polynesian food to make "Mexonesian" food! Located on beautiful Lake Austin, this place is picturesque. It's literally a bamboo hut, complete with tikki torches!

Hawaii is me and hubby's dream spot, so anything close will make me happy ;)

Beauty Bar
617 E. 7th Street

Austin, Texas

Would you like a manicure with that? Beauty Bar is the first cocktail lounge where you can sip on a signature cocktail (try the "Platinum Blonde"!) and get your nails done with your girlfriends. With its glittery walls and available outside seating, the Red River district location makes for a perfect girl's night out (but fellas are welcome, too!).

Just read the description, there's really nothing else to say!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Don't Block My Flow

Live in the DC Metro area or need a reason to visit? If you want a vacation with lasting results, then you won't want to miss the upcoming Don't Block My Flow women's conference, hosted by Harvest Life Changers Church. This will be my 3rd year attending and I PROMISE you won't be disappointed! View the workshop itinerary and register online @

Friday, March 14, 2008

Next stop on the map....Austin!

Today, my boss announces that the next team meeting will be held in Austin, TX. What the heck is in Austin????? You know how you "dog ear" magazines, figuring you'll never go back to those pages? Well, I VAGUELY remember Budget Travel or Rachel Ray's magazine doing a full feature on Austin hot spots. Now if I can just find the magazines in my endless stack.....

Fellow traveling divas or Austin locals, please send hotel and restaurant suggestions, as Austin is completely the road less traveled ;)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vacation in a Bottle

Need a break from the Everyday? - escape to paradise with these gift sets! Let's Cruise and Just Because can both can be purchased and shipped to your doorstop by Sephora.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Paris with a Flare

Hey I got this in my inbox and thought it would be a perfect 2008 getaway - check out the details below!

Paris Noir … France with a Flare!
The Life and Culture of Josephine Baker
9 Days/8 Nights – Visit the City of Paris and the Dordogne
October 10 – 18, 2008

Join us in celebrating the life of the legendary Josephine Baker. With a tour guide you will experience the best of Black Paris and get a glimpse into the life of Josephine Baker. We will take an exclusive tour of Dordogne and a tour of Chateau des Milandes – the former home of Josephine Baker, which is now a museum. In Paris we will take a series of tours that will trace the illustrious lives and achievements of Black Americas who chose to live in Paris between 1789-1960. Our tours will be provided by "Walking the Spirit Tours" and they focus on three geographic areas – The Latin Quarter/St. Germain-des-Pres, Lower Montmarte, and Barbes-Chateau Rouge. Tour 1 (Voices and Visions in Exile) goes through the Latin Quarter and St.Germain-des-Pres neighborhoods, retracing the challenging and victorious experiences of African-American expatriates Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Chester Himes and William Gardner Smith. Tour 2 (the Entertainers) You will relive Montmarte of the 1920s and 1930s that vibrated with African art and surrealism, decadence and scandal, golden voices and magic music. Tour 3 (Africa in Paris) is a vibrant witness to the co-habitation of Black and Arabic Africa.

You will hear and see how African and French cultures have entwined on social, artistic and political levels since the mid-1800s. You will leave Paris with enough French history to give you a well rounded picture of the times and circumstances.

Your package includes:
· Nonstop roundtrip air on Air France from Wash. DC Dulles to Paris (other cities can be arranged)

· 6 nights Hotel Le Senat – 3 star - Latin Quarter Hotel -
· American breakfasts (6)

· 1 night Best Western Le Renoir (Sarlat, France)

· Tour 1 – Voices and Visions in Exile – writers, publishers, literary cafes and art galleries

· Tour 2 – The Entertainers – From Big Band to Bebop – J. Baker, L. Hughes, etc.

· Tour 3 – Africa in Paris – Barbes-Chateau Rouge – shops, businesses, markets

· Tour of Josephine Baker's Chateau – Chateau des Milandes – Dordogne

· All transfers, taxes, fees and service charges

· Meals as indicated

Rate per person: $2750.00 based on double occupancy. $2675 triple occupancy.
Deposit due NOW. $300.00 per person.
Optional Insurance: $175.00. $1,200 must be on account by April 1, 2008. Balance due: August 1, 2008. NOTE: Airport taxes are subject to change without notice until the time of ticketing. Additional collection may be required, if applicable. Make checks payable to Colesville Travel. MasterCard, Visa accepted (add 3%). Deposits are nonrefundable and nontransferable. Payment plans available.

All Travel Arrangements Made By Colesville Travel
Cynthia Amin Hall
Office: 301-989-1654
Fax: 301-989-8473

Sunday, March 9, 2008

London Bridges

I'm back from London - it was a quick, whirlwind trip but fun nonetheless! Here are a few highlights:

-Arrive in London during the afternoon and score a f-r-e-e facial and massage in the Business Club World lounge!

- Exchange my US Dollars for British Pounds. I gave the clerk $600 and why did I get less than 275 pounds in return?!?

-Get lost walking to hotel.

-Still lost walking to hotel. Do they not believe in street signs in London?!?!

-Work, rest, work - BORING ;)

-Meet coworkers for low-key dinner at local Thai restaurant near the London Bridge.

-Wake up dragging. I guess the time difference caught up with me.

-Work Hard.

-Play Hard. Me and my coworkershead to hot-spot Guanabara, a Brazilian club and restaurant near Covent Garden. The website listed over 10 varieties of Mojitos and tons more of the authentic fruit cocktail, Caipirinha, so we knew were in for a good time. My UK coworkers visit at least 1x a month, so they knew exactly what to order. I was a little leery at first because the outside of the club looks like a warehouse and we had to be searched going in, but once we got seated on the wooden picnic tables and the cocktails and Brazilian appetizers started flowing, it was good night for all! The club has free Samba lessons and a live band on Thursday, so watching the locals party was comedy in itself. London's appreciation of different cultures is amazing - they don't see color or race. All ages and races were out on the dance floor, having a ball!
After Guanabara, we walked a few blocks to another "pub" for a more quiet setting for conversation and "pints" (Pints = beer). After one mojito too many, I'm strictly water at this point ;)

-Wake up DRAAAAGGGGING. Definitely one mojito too many.

-Work not so hard. We've pretty much wrapped up our meetings at noon, so I spent most of my day reading CNN's website and political blogs, counting down the minutes until my coworkers' flights leave.

- Coworkers leave and I take a cab back to hotel. Yippie!

- Meet up with a friend, that's been living in London for 4 years. She brought her London-local friend/tour guide and we hopped on the tube for dinner, sights and adventure. Of all places for us to find to eat, we luck upon "The Texas Embassy", where we enjoyed American style Tex-Mex. After days of "foreign" food, it was good to read a familiar menu! The chips and guacamole were tasty.

After dinner, we headed over to Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square, so we could people watch and pick up a few souvenirs. Downtown London definitely reminds me of New York in every way - diverse culture, bright lights, crowds and cabs everywhere.

- Cold and sleepy, I head back to the hotel to pack before my Saturday morning flight. Somehow the cold, and long walk and tube-ride make me hungry, so I call the front desk to order room service. NO room service at this hotel. WHAT!?!?! Oh well - I'm just hungry enough to walk upstairs to the hotel restaurant ;)

- I take a cab ride over to Paddington Station to catch the Heathrow Airport Express train. I feels weird driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Picture Union Station in Washington, DC and that's what Paddington Station feels like.

- Spot a familiar sign, Krispy Kreme, at train station! I must buy one to see if they taste the same. I decide to save it and eat it on the train ride to the airport.

- Get settled on train and go to grab my donut....but it's gone?!?!? I am greedy enough to actually get OFF the train to see if my donut bag fell out along my walk....NO donut. Oh well :(

- My plane ride back was fantastic and relaxing. I finished up my book, Confessions of a Shopaholic, watched Michael Clayton and Juno, and plenty of sitcoms. I'll admit though, that after reading, 2 movies, 2 sitcoms AND a nap, and still hours remain until landing time, I get pretty restless. Champagne please, so I can fall asleep! Uh-oh, I spill my 2nd glass of champagne all over my seat and pants. $%&(*@*$!!!

- Home Sweet Home to hubby and the kids.

Check out photos from my London adventure:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Road trip! - Cat on the Tin Roof

Hey - my travel coordinator extraordinaire, Carroll & Company, is planning a road trip to NY. Now, we were just talking about mini-getaways - mark your calendar for a Broadway adventure!

All-star cast featuring Terrence Howard, Phylicia Rashad, James Earl Jones, and Anika Noni Rose, directed by Debbie Allen
Your day trip to Cat On A Hot Tin Roof includes:
· Luxury roundtrip motorcoach transportation, continental breakfast or light lunch, snacks and movies.
· Orchestra seat tickets - EVENING show 8:00 p.m.
· Early Dinner at Sylvia's, famous soul food restaurant-Harlem (or similar restaurant).
· Taxes and tips
· $200.00 per person


**$100.00 Deposit Due March 20 , 2008**
$50.00 2nd payment - April 20, 2008 $50.00 Final Payment - May 20th
**Cash, Check or Charge Accepted**
Contact Lori Carroll for more information
301-675-0325 or

Living the glamorous life...

Anybody that tells you that first-class air travel isn’t worth it LIES! Headed to London, I flew overnight on British Airways and while I was in business-class rather than first, the service was still impeccable! My wait was soothed with a warm gourmet meal, cocktails and plenty of snacks, in the Club Lounge while my flight was delayed. Completely exhausted by the time my 11pm flight took off from DC, the British speaking flight attendants offered champagne, warm chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate. Needless to say, they had me at hello ;) Once I hit London and cleared customs (and changed over my dollars for less than half the amount of British pounds?!?), I visited the Arrival’s Lounge for breakfast and a complimentary massage and facial. Although it was a long flight, the free facial and massage made it worth it ;)

Ladies, store up your air miles or stash some extra cash – at least once in your life, upgrade your ticket to first-class!

Stay tuned for tales from my night out at Guanabara, the happy hour hot spot, with Sambuca, dance and mojitos….need I say more ;)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mini Girlfriend Getaways

The coolest thing about an annual girlfriend getaway is swapping gossip and catching up on laughs. Why wait until once a year or two to catch up with friends? This past weekend, instead of making excuses or camping out on the sofa in sweats, a few friends and I decided to make time for US and headed to The Melting Pot - the ultimate fondue restaurant and bar, the perfect spot for catching up on lost times.

There are plenty of ways to catch up with girlfriends, without traveling across the country. Try a cooking class, dinner and cocktails, or even a spa party. This week, drop the excuses, give a girlfriend a call and GETAWAY! ;)