3 TIPS FOR THE BEST FAMILY VACATION EVER

Grand Velas Nayarit Infinity Pool

“Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.”

                                               – Michelle Held

Grand Velas Beach

Our recent vacation was a long time coming. Three years to be exact, and let me say, it was well worth the wait. Traveling with a teenager and a pre-kindergardener, we needed to find a place that was equal parts zen for mom and dad, chill for the teen and fun for the four year old (in all of us). I did a ton of research and compared countless properties before zeroing in on Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, an all-inclusive family resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and let’s just say it was 100% the right choice.

Here are 3 Tips to help you ensure you and your family have the best vacation ever:

TIP ONE: FOOD IS A LOVE LANGUAGE

August Escoffier said, “Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness.” I think he might have been onto something there, especially when on vacation. And for our family, that means finding a place that can accommodate our allergies and still make food that tastes incredible. For the boys it’s just gluten, but for me the list of allergies is a long one, and it can cause a pretty significant amount of stress for me when we travel. There’s always the balance of wanting to enjoy our meals and not wanting to inconvenience the chef, but we didn’t have any of those worries on this vacay. The head chef met us in each of the restaurants where we had reservations daily and ensured that the meals we selected were being prepared with our food restrictions carefully considered. Alterations were made to accommodate us, allowing us to select whatever we wanted off the menus. And let me tell you, we did not suffer. Just take a look at a few of these meals we enjoyed.

How To Have The Best Vacation Ever

amazing-meals-grand-velas-nayarit

Grand Velas Nayarit Tiramisu

Graham and I both agree that we had the best salmon of our lives on this vacation. Everything was plated to perfection and the restaurants themselves were beautiful (just take a look at my Instagram feed!). They even made me a special sugar-free, vegan desert that was incredible! I’m still craving it.

Oh yes, and did I mention the 24 hour room service? Noah was in his glory. Breakfast in the room became a daily decadence, because why wouldn’t we when they were making gluten-free pancakes to order for the kiddos? We would place our order the night before, hang it on our door, and voila! Breakfast at our door and set up beautifully in our living room every morning with a view of the ocean as our backdrop. Perfection.

grand-velas-nayarit-in-room-breakfast

TIP TWO: GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE IS A GAME CHANGER

Having the resort’s head chef meet us daily at our restaurants of choice was indeed impressive, but it was completely in lock step with the kind of customer service we experienced across the board. Every family is assigned their own personal concierge who will come and find you near one of the 3 infinity pools during the day. They ensure that you have everything you need – from snacks and meals by the pool, to activities for everyone, to reservations for dinner and a mini bar stocked just to your liking in your room. Truly the only problem with this situation was not having anyone to look after us like that when we got home!

noah-pineapple-drink-grand-velas-nayarit.001

TIP 3: MAKE SURE THERE ARE ACTIVITIES FOR EVERYONE IN YOUR CREW

The customer service extended everywhere, including the Kids’ Club, which I confess I had no plans to use when we first arrived. I suffer from a pretty hefty dose of mama guilt, and my goal for our vacation was for us to relax and have fun together as a family, so shunting my littlest off to a kids’ program just didn’t fit my paradigm of a family vacation. Great that it’s there, but it’s not for me kind of thing. Until, that is, Tate made some friends and they were going to Kid’s Club the next morning. With more than a little hesitation, I dropped him off, telling them I wouldn’t be leaving him there long and wanted to be sure he wasn’t just being babysat by a screen while he was there. Not only was he not screen-zombied, they made crafts like kites and piñatas and played soccer outside. He LOVED it. And they loved him. They got to know his name immediately and hugged and hi-fived him when he came and left. From then on our morning routine was Tate would go for an hour or so to Kids’ Club while Graham, Noah and I went boogie boarding in the ocean. Then he would join us for a swim in the pool followed by lunch by the pool. Then he’d go off with his friends to the bird show or whatever fun thing they had planned for the kids at 2pm. He had the time of his life and is still asking when we are going back to Mexico.

beach-babes-grand-velas-nayarit

And let’s not forget some fun for the grown ups on the list! Yes, yes, open bar with good wine (the prosecco was my personal poison). But can we talk about the spa for a minute? Because this vacation had been well-waited for, a good spa with a thermal cycle was pretty high on my wish list, and the Spa SE at Grand Velas did not disappoint. An hour spend relaxing in the sauna and cold plunge followed by what was hands down the BEST spa treatment I’ve ever received (The Grand Coral, for those of you with your finger hovering over the booking button, was INCREDIBLE, as was Gloria who performed the service so thoughtfully and expertly). Having this extra indulgence as a part of our experience made for a seriously decadent treat for mama and ultimately a much more relaxed mama for the rest of the trip!

Grand-Velas-Nayarit-Spa-SE grand-velas-spa

For Graham, relaxation came in the form of surfing and daily beach/ocean time. Making sure it was a clean and swimmable beach was also on my “must have” list, and this one was absolutely perfect. Totally his happy place, and so grounding for all of us.

We all came away so incredibly grateful for the Vitamin Sea, the new friendships, the amazing meals, and for a truly stress-melting, memory-making time together. Needless to say, I can’t recommend Grand Velas Nayarit enough, and would like to thank them for our room upgrade and for treating me to the Grand Coral treatment at the spa. They’ve redefined what an all-inclusive experience can and should look like for us, and I hope this experience will not be our last! Raising a glass of bubbly to all you families looking to vacation in style. Here’s hoping these tidbits give you some fuel for designing your own beautiful life.

Sarah-Signature

grand velas nayarit sunset

By |April 10th, 2018|0 Comments

The Best of High Point Market | Fall 2017 | Part IV | Tidy Drink Tables, Velvet Everywhere, Crazy for Crypton + That’s A Wrap!

high-point-market-fall-2017-design-bloggers-tour-highland-house-velvet-painted-mural

I can hardly believe it’s been over a month since my marathon tour of High Point Market with the Fall 2017 Design Bloggers Tour! The great news is, the inspiration hasn’t left me, and today I’m sharing my final roundup of some of my favourite categories of design love, including: tidy, sexy little drink tables; velvet EVERYWHERE; my obsession with Crypton; and all things wrapped furniture! Come find your favourites as I share some of mine.

1/  Tidy Drink Tables

High Point Market Fall 2017 Design Bloggers Tour Tidy Sexy Drink Tables

“Every seat should have a drinks table near it, because everyone should have a drink in their hand!”

Rumour has it, this is the philosophy of design legend Bunny Williams, and I love the way she thinks. The beauty of these tidily dimensioned tables is they each make a huge statement while offering a tiny footprint, and they are super flexible, allowing you to move them around a room as needed to accommodate guests and your own daily living. Let me give you the rundown on some of my favourites from this Fall 2017 Market:

ONE/  There’s something so 80’s glam about this triangular lacquer and brass Emmet Bunching Table from Highland House. In keeping with Highland House’s high value on customization, the table can be personalized with an endless array of colours to choose from, and it’s even shown on their site with a shock of pink on the inside. To me, though, the simple white and brass is perfection.

TWO/  You know I love me some marble, and the black and white drama of Bernhardt’s Jax Drink Table had me at hello. This piece is timeless yet bold, and I heart it pretty hard.

THREE/  To me, there’s something about belying the natural qualities of one material by mimicking another that is so engaging and sophisticated. That is most certainly true of Bunny Williams’ Mini Skirt Drinks Table. The hand-carved wood designed to look like draped fabric is truly unexpected and offers a quiet yet rich texture that is refreshingly whimsical and light.

FOUR/  More marble, more gorgeousness, more Bernhardt. At 12″ in diameter, the Cade Drinks Table could fit almost anywhere while guaranteed to stand out with fashion-forward class and style.

FIVE/  There’s a quirky charm to me about this incredibly tiny, textural wonder from Century Furniture. The solid feeling of its bronze construction is the perfect juxtaposition to the delicate proportions on the Artides Martini Table, and it’s whimsical shape will ensure your parties are never too serious.

2/ VELVET EVERYWHERE

As you can see from photograph of the Highland House showroom at the top of this post, Velvet was spread like frosting, in doses small and large, literally everywhere at High Point this Fall. I have always been a lover of velvet and I always will be, so I was delighted to see that it’s available at literally every price point imaginable. These are just three Low, Medium and High end examples, but expect to see velvet coming on very strong across the board in the months ahead.

Best-Of-High-Point-Market-Fall-2017-Velvet-Everywhere

ONE/ A simple, velvet-upholstered, Midcentury Modern-inspired dining chair from Scott Living Home is the perfect choice for furnishing a first apartment at an entry level price point that definitely won’t break the bank.

TWO/ I honestly fell in love with the story behind Younger Furniture. Now owner Meredith, daughter of her engineer father who founded the company, turned his utilitarian-looking line into something fresh and current while maintaining his efficiencies in the US-based factory to maintain an incredibly reasonable price point for their large retail customers. That mint green velvet shelter sofa really is as comfortable as it looks.

THREE/  Marrying the luxury of exquisite design with outstanding craftsmanship and attention to detail, Michael Berman’s citrine velvet Plaza Sofa for Theodore Alexander is an absolute showstopper. I love how the etched texture of the bronze frame supports the floating drama of the luscious velvet seating.

3/  Crazy for Crypton

crypton samples

Don’t you love these fresh and simple plains from Crypton? I’m particularly enamoured with the subtle herringbone, but I chose the white sample as our test subject because it really is the ultimate experiment, isn’t it? Most designers these days are already head-over-heels for Crypton, but there are a few hold-outs who have decried the notion that a white sofa could possibly be liveable for real families. Well, I have a white Crypton sofa in my own home, so I already know how true it is, but I thought I’d conduct a little control test for all the Debbie Doubters in the crowd. So let’s see how Crypton holds up to crayon, ketchup and soy sauce, shall we?

crypton crayon soy sauce ketchup crypton mess made

Channeling my inner toddler, I got busy doing my worst. I think we can all agree that the site of this kind of scene on a beautiful white sofa would invoke nothing short of terror. I’m here to talk you off the ledge. If you’ve got Crypton, there’s no need to panic.

STEP ONE

crypton soaking up stains

Start by using a paper towel or absorbent cloth to soak up as much of the spill as possible. You’ll notice that Crypton’s nanotechnology repels moisture, so spills just bead up on the surface, making it much easier to take care of half the mess right away.

STEP TWO

crypton soap added

Apply a mild soap or laundry detergent to the stains, and remind yourself not to panic. Things aren’t as bad as they look. Using a very soft bristle brush if necessary, water and a colour-safe cloth that won’t transfer colour onto the fabric, gently pat and lift the stains from the fabric. Be patient and don’t rub too hard. All that anxiety you’d normally have in this situation doesn’t apply. I promise.

STEP THREE

crypton cleaned and wet

EXHALE. Crisis averted thanks to Crypton! Just sit back and wait for the fabric to dry, and then VOILA!

crypton cleaned

4/  THAT’S A WRAP!

The last category of design love from Market I’d like to share is really about showing off true craftsmanship. Fully wrapping a piece of furniture, whether upholstery or casegoods, is not only beautiful but also requires incredible skill, and these pieces truly exemplify outstanding workmanship.

Best-Of-High-Point-Market-Fall-2017-Thats-A-Wrap.001

ONE/  I hope you can see the details of this fully upholstered canopy daybed from Highland House. The beautiful Matelassé Crypton white cotton fabric covers the entire piece, from the posters to the deck and legs, creating a refreshing statement, especially when floated in the middle of a room.

TWO/  This gorgeous grasscloth-wrapped 3-drawer chest from Thibaut uses texture to make simplicity the ultimate statement. The incredible thing about this piece is that it can be customized with countless wallpapers from Thibaut’s collection, and the piece is then finished with several layers of indestructible varnish, making these pieces just as real-life-tough as they are fresh and beautiful.

THREE/  Highland House had me at pink leather with this fully wrapped Keener Ottoman. It’s tidy dimensions make it the perfect piece to pair up and layer into almost any space for extra seating and a touch of feminine appeal.

FOUR/  Currey & Co’s Kaipo Two Drawer Chest takes texture to a whole new level with it’s artistically wrapped abaco rope finish. I love this piece for its totally fresh and unexpected take on coastal-inpsired design.

FIVE/  Details are clearly a love language for the team at Tomlinson Furniture, as evidenced by the fully wrapped base on this contemporary Caruso swivel chair from their Directional division. We had such a wonderful time touring their showroom with the delightful Barry Darr Dixon who truly inspired us with his vision for design collaboration.

SIX/  I’ve had a design crush on Thomas O’Brien for forever, and this piece is just a tiny glimpse into why. His leather-clad Terri Desk for Century features drawers that are seamlessly integrated into the tooled leather wrapped apron. Timeless modern luxury at its finest, this desk is definitely on my wish list for my next office.

I had SUCH a wonderful time connecting with my fellow DBT-ers and our fearless leaders Adam and Luba of the Design Bloggers Tour. Thank you so much for having me and for making the experience so fun and memorable. You are incredible people and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you!

And I have to say, I am so excited that I’ll get the opportunity to share more design inspiration with all of you from both the Spring and Fall High Point Markets in 2018 as a Style Spotter! I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the best of what’s inspired me this year, and I can’t wait to bring you along for the beautiful ride as I discover all the best and most beautiful pieces to be found at High Point Market!

Pop back to the blog soon for ideas on how to ensure you’re designing a home that’s as healthy as it is beautiful. I’ll have lots of inspiration coming at you soon. In the meantime, make it a beautiful day!

Sarah-Signature

By |November 30th, 2017|1 Comment

The Best of High Point Market | Fall 2017 | Part III | California Cool + Lucite Love

high point market design bloggrers tour california cool

“We dream in colours borrowed from the sea.”

There’s something about nature that restores us, body and soul. Scientists have now proven that living near the beach leads to quantifiably better health, so it’s no wonder so many of us are drawn to anything with that effortless California Cool. Just thinking about Cali makes me exhale and mentally slow my pace. Why are those West Coasters so dang laid back? Well, I think we can safely blame it on the ocean, and I definitely heard the waves calling to me through many of the pieces I spotted at High Point Market on the Fall 2017 Design Bloggers’ Tour.

Let me say, California Cool references don’t have to be literal. There are many ways to capture the essence of Malibu and bring it home, but these are just a few examples I felt worthy of sharing with you.

1/  CALIFORNIA COOL

Best High Point Fall 2017 Design Bloggers Tour California Cool

ONE/  If this fine art photograph gives you all the vintage feels, it’s because Chris Dunker of Phylum Design revived his dad’s old medium format negatives from the 60’s and 70’s for this moody series of prints. Chris is the ultimate outdoor-enthusiast-meets-creative, and although he’s actually from Utah, he somehow embodies the essence of that laid back California spirit in his diverse body of work.

TWO/  Can I please take a moment to tell you how much I LOVE this Cosway Chair from Bernhardt? If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll know that Bernhardt is one of my favourites, and this chair is just one example of why. The cerused oak frame on the Cosway has an effortless, driftwood ease about it while the modern take on a 3-legged tub chair is utterly sophisticated. Naturally, it sits beautifully, as does every Bernhardt piece I’ve ever given the tooshie test.

THREE/  What says California more than lounge chairs by the pool? The beautiful new Cayman Collection chaise by Lloyd Flanders makes me want to exhale and take a nap in the sun. Just give me an umbrella – one over my head and one in my drink – please and thanks.

FOUR/  To me, effortless chic is all about a textural use of natural materials, like the combination of white and grey veined marble with glass on these simple but elegant candle holders from Green Apple Home Style. Marble transcends styles and time periods as a totally classic material, and it’s one of my forever favourites and a go-to whenever and however I can use it.

FIVE/  California Cool isn’t just about the outdoors. It’s about bringing a fresh and quiet colour palette indoors as well, like with Lonni Paul‘s new collection of Crypton Home fabrics for Duralee. The soft and feminine hues of Lonni’s collection pair beautifully with her organic patterns and textures, and because they are Crypton textiles, they are the ultimate in liveable luxury. Don’t believe me? Come back for next week’s post where I’ll put Crypton to the ultimate test.

SIX/  Pretty much everything the cool kids at Bend Goods make – from furniture to accessories and lighting – screams LA. The Captain Chair is no exception, and in the white powder-coated aluminum finish with a Sunbrella padded seat cover, it’s the perfect outdoor dining chair for endless evenings with friends.

Speaking of Sunbrella, outdoor fabrics have come a long way, baby. First of all, they’ve crossed over into the category of Performance Fabrics, meaning they can be used inside, outside and anywhere you want UV and fade resistance, mould and mildew resistance, and a fabric so tough you can clean it with bleach. And if you think you have to look tough to be tough, just take a look at these STUNNING Sunbrella patterns from Holly Hunt and S. Harris.

sunbrella holly hunt s.harris modern abstract and geometric outdoor fabrics

Sunbrella can be used everywhere, and we literally saw it everywhere at High Point Market. All the major textile houses have their own Sunbrella collections, because all of us design lovers are tired of having outdoor spaces that don’t match our indoor spaces. There’s a metaphor for life in there somewhere, and while we’re busy unpacking it, I’ll be happily dreaming and scheming about our outdoor living room redo all decked out in Sunbrella goodness.

2/  LUCITE LOVE

Another category of design love at Market was all the lucite. To me, lucite never went anywhere, but it seems to be increasingly a part of the design consciousness in recent months, and that was very evident with all the lucite love at High Point Market. Here are a few of my favourite pieces:

Best-Of-High-Point-Market-Fall-2017-Lucite-Love

ONE/  Bernhardt just gets it right once again with this Bellamy Bachelor’s Chest. The bleached walnut has quiet character that floats effortlessly on side panel legs of airy lucite. This piece is both fresh and timeless and a pair of these chests would be the perfect way to frame out the most important focal point in a Master Bedroom. Definitely on my lust list.

TWO/  Another perfect material pairing from Bernhardt, the Astra End Table combines delicate white marble with translucent lucite for a modern, feminine occasional table that could live almost anywhere with grace and class.

THREE/  When you think of Duralee, do you just think textiles? Well think again, because they have a beautiful collection of both upholstered furniture and casegoods, and this lucite and brass Plymouth occasional table is just one of many pieces to love.

FOUR/  Emerald green velvet with a floating-effect lucite frame? What’s not to love about this new introduction from iconic furniture maker Thayer Coggin, home to all the Milo Baughman classics that defined an era. The Bond Acrylic Lounge Chair is destined to become another timeless classic.

FIVE/  This little drinks table is the ultimate hostess’ assistant with its little handle making it a portable landing pad for guests wherever they sit. Just more evidence that our friends at Century understand lifestyle and want to help you live a more beautiful life.

SIX/  More lucite love from Century, this time with the Chin Hua Fushun Bunching Table. An Asian-inspired motif with universal appeal, this flexible little number could be integrated into spaces from the contemporary to the traditional, all while adding a splash of sparkle and class.

SEVEN/  What do you get when you combine lucite legs, a burled wood skirt and marble top? Powder room vanity perfection. The new introduction Chatham bathroom vanity from Worlds Away took my breath away the moment I saw it, and I’m currently designing a powder room around it in my head. Any takers on having me bring this space to life? Because some lucky homeowner surely deserves to enjoy this stunning space.

My head is still swimming with inspiration from our Fall 2017 Design Bloggers Tour of High Point Market, and I’ll be polishing off the highlights for you next week with my final wrap-up post. Don’t miss it, and in the meantime, hug your loved ones and create some beauty in your everyday.

Sarah-Signature

By |November 20th, 2017|0 Comments