Travel

Exploring San Juan :: Honeymoon Day 1

Our private patio/shower at the O:live Boutique Hotel

Our private patio/shower at the O:live Boutique Hotel

I could not be more excited for this post!!!  Over the next few weeks, I'll be outlining everyday of our honeymoon individually, talking about the places we went and the things we experienced.  It's going to be a great time and I hope to show you all the love we experienced on this vacation.

Headed to Puerto Rico!!

Headed to Puerto Rico!!

Day 1 started with a glorious nights stay at Wooley's Classic Suites in Denver!  

We were so excited to find this gem while searching hotels for our wedding night.  While perusing Trip Advisor for ideas on honeymoon destinations, I came across a list of 50 Best Rated Hotels in the World 2015.  As I clicked through the list of beautiful hotels, I found myself dreaming of laying on a beach drinking something fruity, when all of sudden DENVER poped up!  Out of all the places in the world, a Denver hotel made the list.  Andrew and I looked into what seemed to be a mistake and found that it, in fact, was not a mistake.  The beautiful finishing and amenities were just what we were looking for in a wedding night hotel!  From the minute we arrived, Wooley's was everything we could have hoped for in a hotel.  It was beautiful, the service was amazing, and the room was perfect!  The next morning, they provided us with transportation to the airport free of charge.

Pappasito's Cantina -- NOM!!  (You can't find good Mexican in CO)

Pappasito's Cantina -- NOM!!  (You can't find good Mexican in CO)

Now that we were on our way to BEAUTIFUL San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Andrew and I took some time to text loved ones and said thank you to everyone who showed unimaginable support as we said "I Do!"  Once at the airport, we grabbed a snack and boarded our flight for Dallas where we would connect and continue on our way!  Lunch in the Dallas airport was everything I could have dreamed of... Hungover having Pappasito's Mexican Cantina is how I imagine I will want to spend my last meal.  I was beyond excited to get a little taste of home and start our marriage off on the right foot- OLE! 

As we continued on to Puerto Rico, I was becoming more and more excited for our next hotel!  Andrew, being the savvy hotel finder he is, had secured us a room at the most luxurious boutique hotel in PR.  Upon arriving, the O:live Boutique Hotel was absolutely breathe taking.  Winning the 2014 Boutique Hotel Award was no surprise, as this place makes you want to live there!  From the moment you arrive, you are embraced with luxury accommodations thick with European influences.  In addition, the Puerto Rico influence adds a hint of character that can't be captured in words!  Greeted with a Coquito shot, we immediately fell in love with the hotel!  Bell boys carried our luggage to our room as we took a stroll down the nearby streets.  

Check In at the O:live Boutiqe Hotel

Check In at the O:live Boutiqe Hotel

After finding the beach, we headed back to the hotel where we showered (in our outdoor hottub shower) and dressed for dinner.  One of our favorite parts of this hotel was the award winning restaurant located in the lobby, home of renowned chef Mario Pagan.  However, after checking out our private balcony and shower, we decided that enjoying our dinner on our deck would be far more romantic.  The O:live staff delivered each course from Sage Steak Loft directly to our room, as if we were eating in the restaurant!   The food was to die for and the wine was paired perfectly!  If you ever get the chance to try it, you can't live without the Lobster Mac N' Cheese... I know.  I'm sorry!

Sage Steak Loft, served privately on our balcony!

Sage Steak Loft, served privately on our balcony!

With full tummies (and hearts) we headed up to the rooftop bar for a late night drink and some dancing!  The view from the roof took our breath away, as we enjoyed ourselves with other couples and families.  After closing, we headed back down to our room, where we nestled in to bed, tired but ecstatic for the next day! 

I could go on and on about this magical hotel and experience, but I'll let the pictures do the talking!  We cannot wait to go back in a few years for an anniversary.

xx,

Rebecca

How to Choose a Wedding Venue

You're engaged!!  Congratulations!!  What an exciting time in your lives. 

I'm sure all of the emotions and excitement is still brewing, but (as all past brides know) beginning the planning portion of the Big Day can be a bit stressful.  If you're looking for advice on finding a wedding venue, you've come to the right place!  Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be reviewing our venues and sharing wedding tips & tricks!  Today's post is all about making the biggest decision a bit easier.  I have advice for all brides, and a few extra for those looking for a venue in the Rocky Mountains!

What's the first step, you ask?  Hands down the first step in wedding planning is determining your BUDGET!  I know.. It's a huge step.  Sitting down and talking about your expectations and wants is a great first step and definitely helps to open a line of communication!  Keep in mind, your "budget" doesn't have to be set in stone.. it 100% can be a range.  Instead of focusing on your hard fast number, it may be better to say "I would like to spend X dollars, but would be comfortable if we had to go to XX dollars."

Once you have your budget, you're ready to take the first step!  Picking your venue is excited and nerve-racking at the same time... Good news is it's similar to dress shopping; when you know, YOU KNOW!  The first thing you'll want to do is grab a venue catalog.  What's that you ask?  It a magazine put together by the region you are looking to get married in!  TIP: if you are looking to get married in Colorado.  You'll want to grab The Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine.  I've linked their website to help, but you can grab a hard copy at any bookstore!  The reason I suggest this method is the convenience of being a one-stop-shop with overviews, menus, and pictures!  I researched over 300 venues in a day, if that isn't testament enough!  After flipping through the magazine, go back and take a second look at the venues you flagged.  Sometimes your style changes as you are looking!  This helps you to refine the decisions you made first and filter out any that might not be as good as the others.  Narrow it down to 7 or 8 and you'll be ready to move on!

After you have narrowed it down, you'll start feeling less stressed and start feeling more excited!  You'll need to channel this energy to get over the next step -- calling the venues!  I, personally, visited the websites of my top 8 and created a summary document in Word to keep snips of my favorite pictures and an overview of the venue!  Once you have this "summary report" (if you will) built, you'll be excited to know it's time to call the venues!!

The response you get from the venues is VERY important.  It's you're big day and you are going to be spending a lot of money with the venue of choice, so they should be eager to make you happy and want to meet you!  Ask the following questions on your interview and be sure to take notes:

  • What is the rental fee?  Does that include the ceremony?
  • Do you provide catering? Either way, am I allowed to bring in my caterer of choice?
  • Is there a fee per guest, or is it included in the catering?
  • What is included in the rental fee?
  • Do you have a list of preferred vendors I have to work with?
  • How much time is included in my rental?
  • Will there be someone on site the day of the wedding to help keep things going smoothly?
  • What is your minimum and maximum capacity?
  • How far are you from the nearest airport? (This will be very important for out of town guests)
  • Where do guests normally stay?
  • Do they have a liquor license?  If not, how will bringing in outside vendors work?
  • If they don't provide catering, do they have a kitchen on site available for rent?  Is it industrial grade and is there a fee?

This should give you a pretty clear idea on what they are willing to provide and if they would be in your price range.  It will also help get the ball rolling and other questions will inevitably come up!  Remember to take notes and put them in your little report!

Now that you've done all the background work, you saved yourself the wasted time of going to see venues that are out of your range, or not willing to work with you!  Next comes the BEST part!!  Present your findings to your Hubby-to-Be and schedule appointments to see your top 2.  You can take time before your meeting to think of tailored questions for that particular venue. 

Once you are at your meeting and venue tour, you'll instantly feel which one is right for you!  We felt it instantly at The Bella Sera Event Center in Brighton, CO.  I'll be giving a full review of our venue next week, complete with pictures and all the details about the AMAZING venue.  I would recommend it to any couple looking for the perfect night!  I've attached a feeeeew photos of our Big Night, sorry to be such a tease :)

xoxo- R

A Holiday in Keystone:: Skiing, Eating, and Imbibing!!

The Holidays!

Those two little words can bring a slew of emotions (both good and bad) to anyone who is willing to hear more than the words.  They can be a reminder of wonderful family gatherings with delicious traditional foods and smells.   Or… it may also bring up painful memories of disputes over whose home you will be at on the “big” day.  Regardless of the memories, the holidays are a time to focus on what you are thankful for and create new traditions to cherish… Attitude makes all the difference!

This year, Andrew and I were tasked with creating a “holiday schedule” that we will carry with us from now on.  This was tasked to us by our pre-marital counselor to help ease our situation of FOUR CHRISTMASES.  I swear.  It’s actually like the movie.  But in creating this holiday calendar, we found that we wouldn’t get another holiday to ourselves after this year… so we set out to find the best place to make a great first holiday memory as a baby family!

We absolutely love skiing, so we decided to visit a new resort.  After searching travel websites and browsing VRBO, we fell in love with an adorable condo in the heart of Keystone, Colorado.  The little town of Keystone has an amazing “city center” at the base of the resort.  This part of the town is called River Run!  River Run is the center of night-life and winter frolicking, complete with giant fire pits, human sized chess boards, and lots and lots of restaurants and local shops.  The majority of the condominiums and hotels are scattered throughout the town and have a very convenient short walk to the slopes.  With these types of amenities, who wouldn’t pack their bags and head straight there?

Upon arrival, we explored our little piece of heaven and lit a fire in the fire place as we unpacked.  The kitchen was my favorite part, as we planned to make our very first Thanksgiving feast in it!!  After we finished, we headed out for a coffee and a bite to eat.  I know -- ironic because we had so much food at home… but exploring was just too tempting.  So we stumbled into a local Italian restaurant and found the best appetizer of all time!!  Luigi’s Italian Pastahouse (http://www.luigispastahouse.com/)  was lively and a great experience.  The staff was extremely friendly, and we LOVED the “Burrata” small plate that was suggested to us.

After dinner, we headed back to the condo for a relaxing dip in the tub.  On the way to the deck, we noticed there was a sauna by the locker rooms!  Anyone who knows Andrew knows he’s a sucker for amenities.  So naturally, we enjoyed a nice detox before heading into the cold.  Outside, we sat in peaceful silence as the snow fell around us.  The snow was a perfect lead in to the beautiful next day we had skiing! 

The runs were well groomed, and the powder was amazing for early season!  Andrew and I had an amazing time exploring the many runs along the peaks of Keystone.  It was awesome to see they had so many options all varying in different skill levels!

In all, we had an absolute BLAST at our adorable condo in River Run for the holidays!  I definitely recommend you check them out at https://www.vrbo.com/751117.   Especially since they are SUPER affordable!!