Wednesday, March 4, 2015

refuge spa & the 17-mile drive

 while in carmel last weekend, we promised
 ourselves to slow down and relax. . . and
we succeeded! between wandering in
town & enjoying the beach + our hotel,
we had a great set up. but when we woke
up saturday to a cozy rainstorm, we knew
just where to head :: refuge day spa.
we started off a cozy rainy morning with
breakfast at our hotel before heading straight
to refuge spa. it is in carmel valley and it's
absolutely gorgeous and lovely. it's 
everything a spa should be: secluded,
welcoming, warm, and incredibly nice.
we opted to do the refuge thermal cycle, which gets you
into the spa for only $44. this price includes full use of
all spa facilities all day, and it's not just your regular spa.
you are in the middle of the most beautiful nature, and the
thermal cycle is so worth it. basically we got the fluffiest
robes, changed, entered the refuge (no talking! :) and
began the cycle. you can see the steps listed above on
the water bottle, but we loved this process of heating up
in the steam room // sauna, cooling down in the ice cold
plunge pools, (set to the temperature of the atlantic & pacific
oceans...) and then going to the zero gravity chairs to relax
& enjoy the grounds before doing the cycle a few more times.
it was cleansing, relaxing, and we left feeling amazing!

while we were in the spa for a few hours, the rain
subsided and gave way to beautiful blue skies.
we had no choice but to do the famous 17-mile drive
 -- one of the most enjoyable experiences on earth.
the views and scenery along here are well worth
the $10 to get into the 17-mile drive ^^
we had many stops along the drive, as it should be!
on our many stops, the boys went exploring
every time. they always keep things lively!

after the most perfect drive we ended in the tiny town
of pacific grove and explored lover's point at sunset.
^^ always love adventures with this crew!
we got caught in the rain at the end of our exploring,
so we ducked in the car and made our way to
tarpy's road house for a fun (and warm) dinner
by the fireplaces and gorgeous setting on the
grounds. between the tenderloin special, wedge
salad, and halibut dish we left happy and satisfied.
this restaurant is in monterey, so it was a perfect 
location to be able to eat after our driving! 

what a beautiful, relaxing day in one of the best areas on
 earth. between the rejuvenation of the spa and the
unreal natural beauty on the drive, this day was good 
for the soul. also see :: our time in town & our carmel hotel!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

the best hotel in carmel :: la playa

you know you picked a good hotel when you spend a
majority of your trip there! in some cities we basically
just need a hotel for a good night's rest and shower
 because we are go - go - go out and about all day
long, but in a town like carmel-by-the-sea you want
to choose a hotel with much more to offer.

carmel is a slow-paced, relaxed town and la playa is 
the absolute ideal place to stay here. i mean it! we stay
in a lot of great hotels, but this was one of my favorites
so i'm really excited to share it and recommend it fully.
it is a hidden gem hotel that feels like home.

here are a few reasons why we loved it & will return..
  • it is perfectly situated right near downtown carmel with flawless views of the ocean and just steps from the beach
  • it masters the balance of charm and luxury perfectly
  • each night they have warm homemade chocolate chip cookies and cold milk in the lobby ... need i say more?
  • the breakfast is incredible and complimentary...we're talking fluffy waffles made to order, omelettes, fresh berries, cheese plates, warm croissants, steel cut oats, basically a dream breakfast.. and you get to sit out on the gorgeous deck looking over the ocean as you eat. bonus points!
  • the grounds are so enjoyable to stroll, relax, sit by the bonfire, or play games in the lounge area. it's a homey feeling place that you want to hang around and relax in. 
the rooms are simple and lovely, and a view of the ocean
never hurt anybody . . . there is nothing like falling asleep
to the sound of waves, & waking up to a view of the coast.
another perk of waking up at this hotel is the top-notch
breakfast that is included in your stay. let's just say i
was in heaven on the sunny patio with the yummiest
breakfast and best company. it was one of my favorite
settings i've ever had breakfast in on a vacation.
here's the pretty balcony where you can 
enjoy breakfast overlooking the ocean ^^ 
after a lovely breakfast, we'd walk along the main 
beach every morning. it is a breathtaking beach.
this white sand beach really does take your breath away. 
i think it's so stunning here because of the landscape that 
is so unique to this area with the cyprus trees + pretty skies.

^^ those cypress trees, always setting the best scene!

and the best part --- the DOGS. not many beaches
allow dogs, but this does and that makes it one of
the happiest and best beaches i've ever been to.
as you stroll the beach you just see the happiest,
sweetest dogs loving life on the beach in their element!

how cute is this photo? loved these goldens!

haha -- i took so many pictures of the cute dogs . . . i 
think i need to make a book of "dogs on the beach."
we could have watched them play + run + dig forever!

we also loved watching the surfers. carmel has a constant
supply of perfect waves, and it's so fun to watch people
surf. we got a major treat our last morning when there
was a school of dolphins playing and swimming right
in the waves close to shore! if you look closely at the
picture above, you can see dolphins in the waves
on the right just by the surfer. it was amazing!! 
we had gorgeous weather, but at night it really gets
chilly in carmel. this is when i loved our hotel the most, 
because we'd come in to this lovely fire from the rain...

they'd have warm homemade chocolate chip cookies 
and cold milk in the lobby and our room...

and we'd play this new favorite game for HOURS in their
lounge area. so many friendly people & such a great place.

we were so sad to check out of la playa!
the only reason it was okay is that i fully
plan to come back and stay here again.
we love this town and hotel! 
{see more from exploring carmel here}

goodbye, la playa!
goodbye carmel!


*this post is in partnership with la playa hotel, carmel.*
all opinions are my own!

Monday, March 2, 2015

a getaway to carmel-by-the-sea

carmel-by-the-sea is just as charming as the way the
name rolls off the tongue. it's one of the ideal getaways
from san francisco, and coming here is a breath of
fresh air. it's a place to slow down, relax, take in
the beauty, stroll, and watch the sea sparkle.
this little town and area is near-and-dear to my heart
after coming for tennis camp during summers
growing up, and now we love any chance to head 
down just 2 hours from the city to the perfect getaway.
here are a few favorites from town...more posts of
monterey, the 17 mile drive, our hotel, and the beach
are on the way! this area is too beautiful to cram it
all into just one post :) so bear with me!
as you wander around you see things like this ^^
"penny lane," a wooden gate, and cutest flowers.
the streets & homes look like a fairy tale!
we stayed at one of my favorite hotels we've been to
{more on that later} .. and we were steps from the
beach so we made sure to stroll here every morning.
good friends make a good place even more fun.
we stuffed ourselves at the best classic breakfast spot in
town, katy's place. you can't miss it, and you don't want to!
everything is such high quality here, and they do it right.
you can order one of many types of eggs benedict, coconut
pancakes, hot chocolate piled with whipped cream + 
sprinkles, and on and on. don't miss this spot in carmel!

this area has so many visitors, yet it always feels quiet,
low-key and charming. you have no choice but to be
relaxed in this town. there are lots of art galleries, 
boutiques, and darling stores to browse.
and as long as you're slowing down and relaxing, a 
good spa is the perfect activity in carmel. this is the 
place to treat yourself! kendall and i loved getting 
pedicures at signature day spa. it's a great location 
right in town so you can wander from shopping 
straight to a little bit of pampering, and it's top notch 
when it comes to products and services. the owner 
is an expert on all these things, and she's created 
such a warm, cute environment for this spa. it's the 
perfect place to go while on a girls trip to get 
pedicures or facials all together! this was such a treat.
let's definitely not forget one of the best places in
carmel, the cottage of sweets. it has to be the cutest
building in town, and definitely the best treats. it has been 
carmel's sweet shop since 1959, and it still has the most
classic feel with homemade fudge, imported european
candies, and every kind of licorice imaginable.

we definitely got our fair share of sweets.

there are just a handful of places i can think of
that really draw a lot of people yet maintain the charm
and easiness of a small town. laguna beach, cannon
beach, and carmel-by-the-sea are my very favorites on
the west coast..and this is the closest to us! so i think
we need to come back down into this fairy-tale land
much more often. . .and i hope you visit too!

.. more to come from carmel ..