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Posts from the ‘See the World’ Category

Bardessono Hotel ~ Yountville, CA

The Badessono Hotel is the crescendo of modernity, sustainability, and luxury. This LEED-Certified Platinum hotel is in the heart of Napa Valley where so many amazing and sustainable things happen. Surrounded by mountains, vineyards, and arguably the most nutrient rich land in our country, if not the world it only makes sense that something as gorgeous and remarkable as the Bardessono would exist.

As we drove up to the property, located small city center of Yountville, we knew it was going to be good, but we underestimated ourselves, it was better. The service from start to finish was virtually seamless and everyone was welcoming and gracious. We were greeted with a delicious glass of wine as we checked into the sleek and warm lobby’s reception. Our front-desk host gave us a quick and thorough tour of the property and all of its amenities as we made our way to our upstairs suite. The attentive and courteous bellman had all of our bags at our door before we made it in and I assure you the process wasn’t slow by any means. As I started thinking about how amazing the staff was it all started to make sense. How could you not love working at this incredibly green, luxurious hotel in the middle of wine country?

We walked into the entry our chic room with dark wood floors that split the bedroom and lounge from the large bathroom and dressing area.  As you made your way into the bedroom area a motion sensor started to raise external sun shades automatically and gave way to the beautiful view of the area that surrounded us.  This technology keeps the room cool and energy use down. The bed was drenched in soft white linens and looked out to a graciously sized private patio and the hills beyond.  The room also had a beautiful gas fireplace, flatscreen TV, desk with every hookup you could imagine, contemporary styled daybed, mini bar, among many other things.  The bathroom had a wardrobe dressing area that made most home closets look puny, a tub I could do laps in, a shower for 5, and a his and her vanity for primping.  The Bardessono smartly stocked the Ren skincare line for their toiletries in full sizes, so you’re sure to not run out ,as well as create less waste with a dozen mini bottles.

After we got settled we made our way to the rooftop pool that gave another fabulous view of the vistas that surround the valley.  The pool was well stocked with reusable water bottles, complimentary sunscreen, and a well stocked bar just in case you needed to quench your thirst with a glass of wine from a local vineyard.  It was a beautiful day to take a dip or sit in a lounge chair and drift off in the breeze and sound of their grasses swaying.

This property has it all.  Later that evening had friends over for a glass of wine and there was plenty of space to entertain in our room before dinner.  The next day we utilized the Bardessono’s complimentary bikes to take a tour through town and up to French Laundry’s spectacular gardens.  After we feasted on a late lunch at their onsite restaurant, Lucy, as well as took a stroll through the garden that supplies some of the produce for them.  The environmental thoughtfulness that you can see everywhere is beautiful and impressive.  This property not only has it all, but does it so very well.  We believe the only thing that went wrong during this trip, is that we only stayed one night.

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17 Mile Drive ~ Monterey Bay

We did a lot of amazing things, but I don’t know if any could rival 17 Mile Drive in Monterey Bay.  This legendary drive opened in 1881 and has widely been called the most scenic drives on the planet.  The road hugs the luscious Monterey peninsula and for a small toll, non-residents of Pebble Beach can view the gorgeous coastline, wildlife, and ocean.

We started at the entrance directly off Hwy 1 and twisted through the beautiful cypress trees on Huckleberry Hill and passed by Poppy Hills golf course and slowly made our  descent to the ocean below and the vistas of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course.  Off of Bird Rock we saw hundreds of birds, but could also hear the sounds of large sea lions barking off the shore.   Turns out the sea lions are neighbors of the birds and were out basking in the sun on the giant adjacent boulder.  We continued down the road at a slow 5 MPH gasping at every turn and the unbelievable vistas, smells of the sea, and wildlife.  We saw everything from birds, seals, otters, sea lions.

The final stop was at the 150 year old Lone Cypress that is encased in a rock wall out on a point.  This is the image of Pebble Beach and has been named one of the “10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World” by World Amazing Events.  Living Aware, is going to go out on a ‘limb’ and name it our #1 Most Magnificent Trees.

The entire drive was spectacular.  All we could do was smile from all of the work that went into preserving the areas natural beauty that surrounded us.  If you haven’t been one of the 8 million tourists that have visited this site already, please go and support this pristine landscape.

The French Laundry Garden ~ Yountville, CA

Napa Valley attracts visitors year round for the spectacular vineyards and wine tastings. A must-see that may not be on everyone’s radar, but should be, is the very large and impressive garden for the world-renowned French Laundry restaurant. The garden is directly across from Thomas Keller’s establishment and is open to the public. The farm has everything from herbs to strawberries to chickens and brings ‘farm to table’ to a level above the rest. The garden is gorgeous and will inspire the most novice to start growing their own edibles.

Heading to Cali on Alaska Airlines

Today we are traveling from Seattle to San Francisco on my favorite airline, Alaska Airlines.  We love that this eco-friendly carrier was the first to launch a biofuel-powered commercial flight in the United States.  Not only that, Alaska Air has partnered in a program called, “Greener Skies over Seattle”  to further reduce aircraft greenhouse gas emissions and noise in the Puget Sound area.  By using their Required Navigation Performance (RNP) system the pilots can fly directly to their destinations using less fuel.  This advanced system also enable them a shorter, continuous descent to land instead of the traditional stair-step landing paths.  Alaska’s fleet of planes and crew are the only ones in the industry to be fully equipped with this amazing guidance technology.  All of this has created a 26% reduction in carbon emissions over the past 6 years and making them #1 in fuel efficiency among the 10 largest domestic carriers in fuel efficiency for domestic and international travel.   No pun intended, but we know you have a choice in airlines, so choose the very green and efficient Alaska Airlines.

Hotel Monaco ~ Portland, OR

Where to begin about the amazing customer service and experience we had at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco in Portland, OR.  The spectacular hospitality started a week before we arrived with, Decoteau, the hotel’s amazingly attentive Concierge.  Their team touched base with us the week before our arrival and confirmed the pillows type we preferred, if we need a yoga kit from the room (umm, yes please!), and any other requests we had.  Decoteau assisted us with options and reservations at a plethora of delicious and sustainable dining establishments.   On top of that, she also emailed us a laundry list of eco-fabulous shopping with links and descriptions on places we needed to visit before we even got to Portland.  Icing  on the cake was as we were driving down and my cold was kicking in, the spectacular Decoteau popped down to The Spice and Tea Exchange and picked up organic teas for me to sip on, again brilliant customer service.

After the quick three-hour drive south from Seattle we arrived in downtown Portland and at the beautiful Hotel Monaco.  We pulled directly into their underground garage with valet, and more importantly out of the downpour of rain to unload Robi.  Valet energetically told us that since we had a hybrid our parking rate was cut in half!  What a spectacular reward for being green and way to start off the trip.  The incredibly helpful Bellman helped us unload a ridiculous amount of luggage and escorted us to the lobby.  Garrett, a courteous and friendly gentleman at the front desk helped us get acclimated and checked into our spacious room.  The entire process was seamless, easy, comfortable and most importantly quick after a couple of hours in the car.

When the door to our room on the 8th floor opened I knew we were in for a real treat.  The colors in the room were bright, modern, and splendidly combined into a posh space.   We were in town for 5 days for the Living Future unConference and needed a room well laid out that would let us function, but still be cozy and not wasteful.  The room was equipped with a spacious bathroom with a tub and shower, a living room, and a bedroom with a view.   The bathroom is stocked with luxurious eco-friendly bath amenities and the towel reuse service and low-flow fixtures to reduce water.  The bedroom and living room both had large TVs (his and hers) and the room was stocked with organic goodies and beverages.  Here is a secret, if you aren’t a Kimpton InTouch Member, become one.  Every time you stay at Kimpton as a member you get free Wi-Fi and $10 towards the minibar!

In the evenings the Kimpton hosts a very popular happy hour in their lobby and this particular property has a fabulous live piano player.  Even when my cold went into full force the entire staff stepped it up s amazing.  They offered to send up soup and tea and did an extra cleaning for me using their green cleaning products.  Due to me being a bit under the weather we weren’t able to take advantage of the complimentary bike rentals the hotel offers guests to use to travel green through the City of Roses.

This hotel is ecofriendly, luxurious, cozy, fun, relaxing, and most of all, the staff is SPECTACULAR.  We highly recommend this great property for being green and luxurious.

Inn at Langley ~ Langley, WA

Last month we made a short drive from Seattle to the Mukilteo ferry to spend a relaxing weekend on picturesque Whidbey Island.  It was the first day that felt like spring in the City and people were out in droves.  We thought this was going to wreak havoc on us making it over to the island, but we were so lucky and made the next boat.  For anyone that has traveled by ferry, you know that having to wait in a line through several boats can be very frustrating.  It is an amazing sign and foot forward for a great day, in our case a spectacular weekend, when you happen to make the next ferry by the skin of your teeth.  The ride over on the ferry was gorgeous, people were sunbathing on the deck with smiles ear to ear. 

When we got to town we stopped in for a quick lunch at the busy, Village Pizzeria.  This small, cash-only restaurant is perched on a cliff in downtown Langley.  It has breathtaking views of the water from the front door and is a favorite among locals and tourists.  We had the house special, a thin-crust Pesto Pizza, that was superb.  After lunch we headed to the beautiful and charming Whidbey Winery for quick tasting and stocking up of their organic Island White, then headed back to the Inn at Langley to get settled.

The Inn, is perfectly situated right on the edge of town and is walkable to all of the cute shops and restaurants.  We were graciously greeted by the incredible, Karly, at the hotel’s front desk and made to feel right at home.  She gave us the lay of the land and told us about the dinner plans we were in store for that evening.  We walked down a set of stairs and opened up the door to an absolutely fabulous room.  The room had a large bed, with the fluffiest pillows, draped in fine white linens.  Beyond the indoor fireplace stocked with ecofriendly logs, was the unbelievable deck and view of the Puget Sound that hotel offered.  Not to be slighted, the bathroom was just as splendid.  The large walk-in shower dead ends into a huge tub that also has an impressive view of the Sound.

What we love about this hotel is that not only is it locally owned, but the vendors they source products from are islanders too.  They use organic and local farms to supply food and wine to the property and onsite restaurant.  All of the properties flowers are sourced from a local florist that grows her beautiful blooms in her gardens.  The Inn, also grows its own array of flowers and herbs that are used throughout the premises and in the exquisite food.

Speaking of the spectacular food, the hotel hosts an amazing breakfast in their dining room with a full array of fresh pastries, fruit, yogurt, among other delectable bites.  If you please, you can request a tray from the host to enjoy this ample spread with a carafe of coffee on your balcony, like we did, with a morning fire of course. 

I love the hospitality of the entire staff, the Inn, and their commitment to sustainable, local, and responsible vendors.  Please go and see for yourself, you will not be disappointed.

Sunday ~ Hood Canal

We love Sundays as a time to be with family, friends, and enjoy nature. Rain or shine we use them to recharge our batteries and take stock of all that is good in the world. Today we are cleaning up and exploring the beach in Hood Canal during low-tide. Join us by taking a walk, preparing a meal from the garden and laughing with those you love. Enjoy today and be well.

Brown Bear Car Wash ~ Washington

In preparation for our trip down south to Portland, we ran Robi through a tunnel wash at Brown Bear.  This environmentally friendly company uses green products to wash your vehicle clean and captures the water that comes from its bath.  Instead of dumping that dirty water full of oil and contaminates back into the Puget Sound they separate and treat water.  Clean water gets reused on the next filthy car, cycled through, and then repeated.  

Washing your car at home usually involves wasting water, time, and harmful detergents reaching streams and water supplies, among a handful of other harmful possibilities.  If you didn’t know already,  Brown Bear Car Wash is the best way to wash green and cruise clean in the Pacific Northwest.

Living Future Conference 2012 ~ Portland, OR

I am so exciting to be driving down to Portland for another important conference on sustainability.  Not only is this sold-out event dedicated to, Women Reshaping the World, but it is being held in such a vibrant city that embraces a green lifestyle.   The conference is being hosted by the International Living Future Institute allowing  for brilliant minds in the green building movement that are creating and seeking solutions to the most daunting global issues to come together.  This incredible forum for learning and networking formats will  provide visionary design methods, innovative technical information, and the motivation needed to achieve meaningful progress toward living aware.

Many of you may remember that we went down last autumn for the amazing EcoDistrict Summit which is one of the world’s premier annual conference dedicated to urban sustainability.  During that awesome event we were not only able to listen to inspiring speakers like Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, but we were also able to network with city officials, designers, innovators and an array of other like-minded people who are pushing boundaries for greener cities. In turn all of those amazing individuals and no doubt, the attendees of the Living Future Conference, are creating a greener way of life for  communities spread around the world and link us together. 

During our last visit we stayed at The Nines Hotel, a lovely and luxurious LEED Silver Certified property in the heart of Portland.  We dined at their amazing organic/local/sustainable restaurants Departure and Urban Farmer, as well some others around town like Pok Pok and Bamboo Sushi which are some of my favorite restaurants to-date.  On this trip we are resting at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, just a block or so from, The Nines.  While the property is not LEED Certified, its service is spectacular and it offers a plethora of luxurious green amenities.  For shopping, the Pearl district was full of amazing boutiques like Woonwinkel that we will be sure to stop in on during this trip, as well as search out new shops on the scene. 

Stay tuned, we will have a lot more coming on the Living Future Conference and being green throughout Portland.

Ecofriendly Luxury ~ The Spa at Four Seasons Seattle

The Spa at the Four Seasons hotel is the definition of luxury and natural beauty.  You walk into their zen reception area and you feel the weight of the world fall off your shoulders.  A soft-spoken team member welcomes you and glides your tired body back to settle you into your new home for the next few hours.  She opens a large locker stocked with everything you need to relax and gives a quick overview of the amenities their sanctuary includes: saunas (yes, plural), large private shower, toiletries, tea, orange water, cold compresses, and a changing area to name a few.  After I snuggled into my robe and slippers I sat in the hot dry sauna to relax and open my mind and pores up for the organic treatment I was about to indulge in.  If you prefer, you can also choose their beautiful tiled steam room to unwind and bask in humid air.   

 Ten minutes before my organic Amala facial (my absolute favorite facial to-date) I relaxed in their interior lounge with a cup of hot tea and snacked on complimentary dried fruits.  If you so desire you can also enjoy a lunch from room service in this cozy, dim room.  Before I knew it, I was quietly escorted off to my organic, 80 minute Amala Amala Rejuvenating Anti-Aging facial (a lot more to come on The Spa’s Amala Facials). 

 After my facial, I retreated back to the gorgeous and simple locker room for a splendid warm rinse in their shower with low-water technology.  The shower was stocked with PABA-free shampoo, conditioner exactly like the famous L’Occitane Verbena fragrance.  I wrapped back up in the cozy robe and pampered myself with the body lotions and other toiletries they make available for their patrons.  I lingered and primped probably longer than anyone else ever has, but I just had to get my fill of the serenity they offered.

 If you are visiting the fabulous spa as a guest of the hotel or purchaser of one of their spa packages, you are welcome to all amenities that the property has to offer, like the Energy Star rated equipment and televisions in the Fitness Center.  Afterwards, take a dip in the rooftop infinity pool with its spectacular views of the Puget Sound.  Perhaps enjoy a fresh lunch from the restaurant with ease, knowing that any morsel left behind will be composted. 

 The Four Seasons Hotel and The Spa masterly operates green and luxury simultaneously and fluidly.  Approximately 70 percent of the energy consumed within the hotel is renewable and it uses steam produced from Seattle Steam Co. for heating and for their hot water, to help reduce their environmental footprint.  Who ever says luxury can’t be green, hasn’t had my experience….yet.