Friday, February 27, 2009

Foto Friday - The Fabulous Fashionistas

The fabulous "Fashionistas" - we met for lunch to plan out our famous Fashionista Flea Markets for 2009. DC Metro fashion lovers, stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Location Spotlight - All-inclusive vs. A la Carte?

Ah, the age-old vacation debate. Do I trap myself into an all-inclusive resort package or choose a great hotel, leaving my meals and incidentals to chance? Just this week I was torn with this decision: all-inclusive Bahamas resort, or try my luck and go a la carte? You see, I’m the Contact Diva with the responsibility of choosing the location for my personal girlfriend getaway and my friends are counting on me for a fabulous package and location recommendation. All for a agreed upon package price in our budget.

Suddenly, I recalled a post I read earlier this month from the LA Times: All-Inclusive Vacations: Not Always, which pointed out hidden charges travelers may pay under the illusion of an all-inclusive getaway, such as transportation to/from hotel, taxes or activities. So, being the analytic that I am, I decided to make a pros and cons listing, from a Diva’s point of view. Take a look at how I made out:

Definite advantages:

  • Budget friendly! For me and my frugal pals, it’s much easier to plan out the total vacation cost, if all meals, beverages and main activity costs are known upfront.

  • Alcoholic beverages, including premium liquor cocktails, are usually included – for your “thirsty” friends, this can be a huge cost benefit!

  • Pay and relax. I love being able to hang out at the resort, relax by the pool, without the need to carry a wallet everywhere I go.

  • Most times, tips and gratuities are included. It’s so easy to lose track of the dollar bills that you give to the bellman and other hotel staff. Let’s face it, those dollars add up!

  • From tennis to water aerobics, most activities are included with the package price. Another wallet-friendly perk.

Definite turnoffs:

  • Depending on the size of the resort, you can become bored with the resort restaurant choices OR you may miss some of the local area culture by eating at the resort exclusively. AGH! As a result, you may end up paying for restaurant meals outside of the resort that you haven’t planned on.

  • Communication charges. It goes without saying that I’m extremely dependent on the internet. Hidden communication charges burn me up!

  • Cruises usually tack on 10%+ for gratuity which can certainly put a dent in your budget, if not planned for in advance.

  • Read the fine print to see if those doggone resort fees are included. Some resorts charge daily fees per person (approx. $15/day) for use of the facilities, bottled water, etc. For a 5-day vacation, you may end up paying $75 in fees, which could be better spent on shoes ;)

Overall, I think all-inclusive is a great option for an affordable, fun vacation. I highly recommend reading the fine print of each resort or cruise website, so that you know exactly what is included with your package. The absolute worst would be being surprised at check-out because of unexpected charges. So what did I choose? Super all-inclusive Breezes Bahamas. And so far, the Divas agree.

Let the adventure begin!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Location Spotlight - Anytown, USA

It’s been a tough few weeks. I’m sure my stresses are no different than many of you and your girlfriends – family responsibilities, kid duties, stressful work situations, dismal news on every TV station, bailout this and recession that. Seriously, I need a break!!! Just this week, I mentioned to a close girlfriend that I was researching summer vacation trips. She replied “A vacation sounds like heaven right now”, followed with my response “Anytown, USA sounds like heaven right now!”

We don’t all have the time to hop in the car this weekend on a road trip or the funds to catch a last-minute flight to Florida. Anytown, USA is a destination that can be reached with little effort and cash but makes a huge difference for calming your mind and escaping your present zoo life.

Need to book a trip to Anytown, USA? This weekend, I challenge you to tick one of these off your list:

- Wake up an hour earlier and read a chapter in that book on your nightstand that’s been collecting dust

- Call a girlfriend that you haven’t talked to in months. And no, sending her a text message doesn’t count!

- Go to Starbucks alone or with a girlfriend, order your favorite latte and people-watch

- Watch Sex and The City, Will & Grace, Bridget Jones Diary or Legally Blonde. Trust me, the chuckles are well worth it!

- Go shoe shopping and buy a fun pair of pumps
The stress we deal with may not go away instantly, but we can take ourselves on an instant escape. Create your own Anytown, USA destination and book a "trip" whenever you need it!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Girl's Night Out - Melting Pot Ladies' Night!

“Oh yes it’s Ladies Night and the feeling’s right, oh yes it’s Ladies Night, oh what a night”
- Kool and the Gang

Fondue is an interactive, fun way to catch up with your gal pals and try out a new menu at the same time. The Melting Pot Restaurant, the nation’s premiere fondue dining experience, “gets” the need for conversation and cool atmosphere. Created in Maitland, Florida in 1975 with just three menu options, the restaurant idea quickly grew in popularity. Mark Johnston, a Melting Pot waiter and college student at the time, saw the restaurant’s potential and along with his 2 brothers, grew it into a nationwide franchise. The popular restaurant chain is found in over 142 locations, across 37 states with many more locations, including Alberta and British Columbia, Canada coming soon!

Many of the locations offer cool theme nights, perfect for Girl’s Night Out. The Washington, DC location offers Ladies Night, every 2nd Tuesday, with a VIP 4-course menu for $30 + drink specials. Chicago has a fabulous monthly Ladies Spa Night, with menu specials and private shopping in the lounge. Mark your calendars, Atlanta divas, for “Get Lucky! Girl’s Night Out” on March 2, with new menu items, $5 drink specials and giveaways!

Visit the Melting’s Pot website ( for location near you. With menu options like Key West Shrimp, Filet Mignon and Spinach Artichoke Ravioli, joined with Cherries Jubilee Chocolate fondue and signature cocktails, you and your girlfriends can’t help BUT have a fabulous Girl’s Night Out!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Foto Friday - London Bridges

I talked my Mom into joining me in London for a Mother-Daughter getaway and she was wild enough to take me up on the offer! Here are the 2 of us, in the pouring rain, outside one of the smaller Palaces. Despite the rain, we had an amazing weekend!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Location Spotlight - Las Vegas, baby!

Still torn on the ultimate location for a girlfriend getaway? Look no further than the famous Strip of Las Vegas! Cliché? Perhaps but Vegas truly is an awesome location for a fun, relaxing, party filled weekend!

The main reason why I love Vegas for girl getaways: You can’t help BUT have fun!

There is truly something for everyone in Las Vegas. Obviously, Vegas is well known for gambling in the beautiful, extravagant hotels, but how about your gal pals that would rather spend their cash in places other than the slots? Here are a few non-gambling ideas for a Diva-licious Vegas getaway:

Splurge and stay at the Strip hotel you love (or at least, the nicest you can afford). I’ve had friends go hang out for a weekend in Vegas, only to stay at the cheapest, dinkiest (won’t name any names) hotel. Pick a hotel that mirrors the personality of your group. I love the new Planet Hollywood – it’s swank and of course, has a true Hollywood feel. The Palazzo is new and captured my attention when it opened last year. I’m definitely making a point of checking out their suites – I love the chic, first class atmosphere. The Palazzo is also home to the Canyon Ranch Spa, the most expansive spa in North America – book appointments for you and friends for a signature cocoon wrap, peppermint pedicure or rock-wall climbing.

Eat to your heart’s content. Seriously, now is NOT the time to watch your waistline. One look at the lavish hotel buffets and all diets will be out the window! Visit Paris hotel's Le Village Buffet for Sunday brunch for an amazing meal and conversation. It’s more expensive than most but believe me that it’s well worth the 5-star rating! Another one of my favorites is Jean Philippe Patisserie at the Bellagio. It’s a TEENY café in the center of the hotel and well known for their amazing chocolate displays, gelato and the MUST-try crepes.

Adventure is the name of the game. Sin City is the perfect backdrop for trying out something new and releasing your Inner-Diva ;) Sign your group up for tickets to the sizzling new arrival, Peep Show, a sexy striptease theatre show, told through dance and contemporary music that's performed by an all-female powerhouse band!

Put your friends on center stage and take a Stripper 101 class – with a studio set like a nightclub, women of all ages can learn some pretty hot moves to take back to your significant other. Trust me, it’s a hoot! Be sure to smile pretty for the professional photo, as you aren’t allowed to take photos with your own camera.

Pull an All-Nighter. Yes, I know you typically go to sleep every night right after the 11 o’clock news, but you are in Vegas, baby! One requirement of the ultimate weekend is to stay out (and awake) ALL night, laughing and hanging out with your girlfriends. Whether you are hotel-hopping and taking in the sites, or dancing until you burn a hole in the floor, a weekend in Vegas is not complete until you hang out into the wee hours of the night.

Most importantly, relax. There’s definitely plenty to see and do along the Strip but be sure to carve out some downtime. The hotel pools are beautiful and perfect for laying out with friends, catching up on gossip. For a fun day that will feel like a road trip, have brunch at the House of Blues at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay and then go check out the Mandalay Beach. The world-famous “Beach” is made up of 11 acres, including a wave pool, beach, lazy river and swimming pools, complete with beach chairs and a DJ pumping the hottest tunes. Once you stake out your area, you’ll be there all day! Now, rumor has it that only hotel patrons (or patrons of affiliate hotels) are allowed into the Beach – but I’ve been, simply by “tipping” the gatekeeper ;)

This is really only a snippet of Vegas activities for your girl getaway weekend - the list can go on and on and we haven't even gotten to the shopping! Whether your group is made up of party gals and low-key divas, or a wild combination of both, there’s definitely something for everyone in Vegas....Just remember the Cliché, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas….

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Girl's Night In - Oscar Theme Party

The guys have Super Bowl and NBA All-Star Weekend and divas get the fun stuff - gossip and fashion. The Oscars are right around the corner and you know you’ve been dying to get together with friends – there’s nothing like live commentary and gossip during the show. Gather your friends and make a date for an Oscar Themed Girl’s Night on Sunday, February 22!

Depending on how much time you allow yourself, you can be super fancy or super easy with the invitations. Now me, I’m all about Evite – quick, simple, track your RSVPs online and customizable. Perfecto!

Keep the food simple, yet classy and fun. I’m thinking shrimp cocktail, bbq meatballs, fun dips, truffles and whatever else floats your boat. Definitely have a “signature” cocktail or mocktail on hand. Oh, and don’t forget about the decor – one of my favorite blogs, Hostess with the Mostess, just posted some awesome Hollywood inspired party photos:

Similar to the Football Pool, create your own Oscar Pool - chart out the Oscar categories and nominees and the person with the highest correct wins! Hostess gets to choose the prize ;)

Hand out your own Awards, during the “boring” parts of the show and commercials. Nominate friends for your own categories: Best Supporting Actress, Drama Queen, Best Screenplay Writer (for the Diva with best 2008 story), Best Wardrobe…be creative and fun! You can even hand out your own “Oscars”, courtesy of Oriental Trading.

Last but not least, THE Goody Bag – You can’t have a fabulous Oscar party without an amazing Goody Bag. To help divvy up the costs, ask each guest to bring enough gifts to fill bags for the RSVPed guests. Blockbuster gift certificates, Hollywood Fashion Tape, Body Glitter would all make awesome additions to your bag!
Take a trip to Hollywood next weekend, enjoy the runway fashion and have a few laughs with girlfriends!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Foto Friday - ATV Adventures in Cabos

Today's Foto Friday pick reminds me of how adventurous we can be, when placed in a change of scenery - here's a snapshot of The Divas first (and some of us, last) try at ATV riding through the mountains and beaches of Cabos, Mexico. Read the full scoop here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Location Spotlight - Costa Rica, Pura Vida Adventures

I recently learned about an amazing girl getaway founded by a woman that visited Costa Rica, fell in love with the location, tried her luck with surfing…and instantly became hooked! Any woman with enough guts to fall in love at first “sight” with Costa Rica and build a business around the beautiful location and surfing, I just had to meet. Here's a peek into the life transforming active escape:

I “met” Tierza Davis, founder of Pura Vida (Pure Life) Adventures, via telephone and while we weren’t able to physically connect, I immediately felt her positive energy and inspiration through the time zones.

Where did the vision for Pura Vida Adventures come from?
In 2002, Tierza, found herself in Costa Rica, on a mission to relax and regroup after her company went bust. She says that while she’d never visited the location before, she immediately found solace in the warm breezes and ocean waters, and knew her life had been changed. As Oprah might call her “Aha! moment”, it was her courage to try and master surfing that sparked the idea for the Adventure company.

What makes surfing so attractive?

Tierza says that surfing is much like a metaphor of life – battling water symbolizes your fight with life. Surfing for Tierza and the women that visit her camp is about self-confidence and believing in oneself. She strongly believes that while surfing (and during life), if you listen to your heart, you’ll find your direction.

Who’s a typical Pura Vida visitor?
Most women that visit Pura Vida Adventures are busy professionals and visit the retreat not just to unplug from their stressful lives but to try a new activity as well. Tierza says that surfing is one way women can conquer their fear…of basically anything. There are skilled surfing instructors ready to train and guide visitors every step of the way. What’s also cool is while women tend to visit the camp solo, they often meet new friends. One group of 3 solo visitors arrived as strangers and left as traveling buddies, creating their own girlfriend getaways, visiting new places together like Brazil and Dominican Republic.

How does the yoga fit in?
Incorporating yoga into the retreat was a natural fit. Tierza actually instructed yoga for years, well before she became hooked to surfing. While surfing is quite rigorous, yoga provides the perfect balance with focus and stretching. The camp’s Yoga Master also incorporates mantras into the classes, so women are encouraged to truly get in touch with their center.

What do women take away from the Adventure?
Costa Rica is simply beautiful. The combination of the natural beauty, animals, plants along with the adventure of surfing and yoga is like heaven for women. And often times, women tend to find themselves on a spiritual journey during the retreat. The amazingly beautiful location paired with newfound rejuvenation can often provide spiritual balance, that many didn’t even realize was missing.

What’s the most rewarding part of owning Pura Vida?
Tierza says that she’s been transformed since the start of the business. She loves meeting cool, inspiring women and enjoys seeing repeat visitors that choose her camp as their annual vacation. Tierza also works very closely with her Mom, whom she calls her “office guru” that handles several tasks for the retreat and is amazing to work with.

Pura Vida Adventures is designed to empower women during the revitalizing week long camp. Each package includes an amazing beachfront villa or bungalow, surfing and yoga instruction, as well as a beachfront massage! Also included is a taste of the local culture with Tropicana Salsa Night, introductory Spanish classes, as well as fresh, gourmet meals. Convinced and need your own retreat? Visit Tierza and her amazing vacation at

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Girl's Night Out - Dish Up a Cooking Party!

With winter’s chill in the air, I tend to revert to hibernation. You know – only the essentials: work, school, home, with little “fun” activities scheduled. If you’re a hibernator like me, you’ll know that getting together with girlfriends can be a challenge during chilly months…unless comfort food is involved! This month, why not break the hibernation cycle with a hip Girl’s Night Out, that’s centered about comfort food!

A hot new trend for Girl’s Night Out is a cooking party. Cooking party, you say? You know, grab a few friends, Google a few exciting recipes, load up on groceries and head over to a friend’s to cook while gabbing and having fun. Well, how about a fun twist to the traditional cooking party with Let’s Dish! Let’s Dish! is revolutionizing the way busy women put dinner on the table for themselves and families. Founded by co-founders Ruth Lundquist and Darcy Olson in 2003, the retail preparation store has quickly become a hit nationwide.

Grab your girlfriends and host a Let’s Dish! private party – you can spend time with friends and make family meals at the same time. Depending on how many guests you have, your group will have the store all to yourself (perfect for sizzling conversations) and each guest gets the month’s bonus party dish added to his or her order absolutely FREE! The cool thing about hosting a private party is that it’s totally customizable and easy to set up. Everything can be done online, from choosing the menu options, sending out invites to your guest list to RSVP/payment collection. Easy!

Let’s Dish! also recognizes the Diva’s desire for a healthy lifestyle, so menu options include Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa, Lemon and Dill Salmon and Decadent Molten Chocolate Cakes (ok, so the cake isn't "healthy" but definitely necessary ;) Meals are priced as low as $3.50/serving.

Sound like fun? Find a Let’s Dish! location is your area, gather up your girlfriends and get to dishing!