For a bachelorette weekend and bridal shower brunch you'll always remember, think Tampa. Not only is this a thriving city with lots of fun stuff to do, the weather is absolutely perfect year round. It's a great place to have your family and friends join you for a bridal weekend on the bay.
Friday: Fly into Tampa International Airport and be whisked away to the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, just over three miles away. Check in to your sprawling 1,300-square-foot presidential suite with sweeping views of the bay and nearby Clearwater.
The 35-acre, AAA Four-Diamond resort just underwent a $16 million renovation, so kick back and relax in luxury. There's a separate sitting area in your room, so have everyone over for a pre-dinner cocktail before heading up to Armani's on the 14th floor of your hotel. It's got floor-to-ceiling views, delicious menu options, and a pianist on Friday nights. Classy, eh?
Saturday: Have your bridal brunch at the famous Oystercatcher's, a must-experience waterfront restaurant just steps from your hotel. The restaurant provides a unique dining option because it isn't housed directly in the hotel — you wander through the lush natural landscape, on a path and over an adorable wooden bridge, about 150 yards until you get to the waterside escape. You are bound to see egrets and herons along the way.
The private dining area at Oystercatcher's has extraordinary water views and the staff will design a menu created especially for your bridal shower. Have a few mimosas, open your bridal gifts and enjoy your closest friends and family in this delightful brunch locale.
Saturday afternoon: Hang out by one of the two pools on the property or, literally, in one of the many hammocks nearby. But make sure to leave enough time to get ready — because tonight you are going out!
Saturday night: First stop is Bern's Steak House, one of my favorite fine dining restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. White table clothes, a to-die-for wine list and an extensive menu await you at your private table.
Head upstairs to the Bern's Steak House Dessert Room. This is an event in and of itself. I could say more, but trust me — just go.
Now it's time for you and your lovely ladies to hit the town. Celebrate your bachelorette party in style at Ybor City, where there are tons of clubs to choose from to boogie the night away.
Sunday: Sleep in.
Art Basel has transformed Miami into one of the art centers of the world. And, as you might imagine, the art community in 1976 was very different from today's.
Thirty-five years later, some of the city's early influencers and cultural leaders are being reunited for a retrospective by visionary artist Martin Kreloff for "Miami Says ART." Presented by the JW Marriott Hotel Miami in Brickell, the retrospective runs Dec, 3-9, ushering in the city's Art Basel week.
The exhibition also features the launch of “Miami Says Art-2,” featuring an online, modern-day cultural time capsule that will honor Miami’s New World School of the Arts.
If you go: The exhibition will feature portraits from the exhibit and a multimedia documentary with photos and video from 1976, and is open to the public between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. For more info check out the Miami Says ART Facebook page.
Looking for an extra special gift for that person on your list who has it all? Miami Beach offers visitors gift ideas galore, but the best gift may be time spent shopping in the tropical paradise with an average winter temperature of 70 degrees.
1. The Resort Traveler – GUYandGIRL
Located on the lobby level of the newly redesigned Shelborne Hotel, GUYandGIRL has contemporary resort wear for the style-savvy shopper. The shop sells light cover ups, accessories, bags and shoes and has quickly become a favorite of both locals and travelers alike.
2. The Dog Lover – Dog Bar
It is so SoBe – the Dog Bar is a full service luxury specialty shop with the latest and greatest merchandise for the privileged pet, including plush dog beds, leather collars and designer carrier bags for pampered puppies.
3. The Foodie – Joe’s Stone Crab
Give the gift of stone crab from Miami Beach’s Iconic Joe’s Stone Crab. The restaurant has been supplying Miami Beach visitors and locals fresh seafood for over 100 years and now packs and ships its famous stone crab claws and key lime pies.
4. The Spa Lover – Bliss Spa at the W South Beach
Renowned for delivering South Beach's best facials and massages, Bliss at the W South Beach will transform you into a tranquil state of mind. Stop by to get a treatment then give the gift of a 'bliss'-perience in the home with products designed to make spa-goers look and feel healthy and beautiful.
5. The High-End Fashionista- Alchemist at 1111
Alchemist, perched high atop the designer 1111 parking garage on Miami Beach, is a luxury multi-brand designer clothing store with two locations on Lincoln Road. In addition to designer brands like Celine, Givenchy, Alaia and Rick Owens, the store also stocks high-end jewelry, bespoke perfumes and candles, and a selection of lifestyle products ranging from limited edition art books to signed artist editions.
6. The Art Connoisseur – Art Basel Miami Beach
For many, Art Basel Miami Beach is an international display of world class art. But for the uber rich, the festival is a market for high-end art pieces, such as the $3 million painting sold by Germany’s Gerhard Richter at last year’s festival. Art Basel Miami Beach runs Dec. 6-9, 2012.
Let's give these top Florida resorts a round of applause for making Fodor's 100 Hotel Award list.
St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami won the "Global Icon" award for world-class restaurants, accommodations, style and service.
Three Florida hotels won the "Fun For All Ages" award:
Congrats to each of these amazing properties. Selected by the experts at Fodor's from more than 4,000 nominations, the winners represent the best in class from around the world.
Have you ever been to a luxury hotel within a hotel? Here's your chance to check it out.
Support a great cause and party the night away in style in Miami. Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at a lavish gala on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami and Hotel Beaux Arts Miami. Gala guests will enjoy a reception with a luxury silent auction, dinner and an after party.
Located downtown, the JW Marquis Marriott has its own bowling alley and an NBA standard basketball court. The Hotel Beaux Arts is a luxury boutique hotel within the JW Marquis property on floors 38 to 40. That's right – it's a hotel within a hotel. How cool is that?
At the gala enjoy a performance by two-time Tony-award winner Sutton Foster. Proceeds from the event will increase awareness and raise funds for cancer research. After the main event, head up to the after party where you will be entertained by DJ Irie, the official DJ for the Miami Heat.
If you go: Nightly rates at the Hotel Beaux Arts start at $399. Purchase tickets to Sylvester's 20th Annivesary Celebration Gala online.
You're in for an operatic treat this season.
The Florida Grand Opera's season opener is Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème, the inspiration for the popular musical Rent. The opera follows a group of young bohemians living in Paris in the 1830s as a love story develops between an impoverished poet and a lovely seamstress.
The lead soprano for this production is Ailyn Perez, who recently became the first Hispanic woman to win the Richard Tucker Award – known as the Heisman Trophy of opera. In addition to singing in some of the best opera houses all over Europe, she was recently featured in Vanity Fair magazine because both she and her husband are world-renowned opera singers.
Following the opening night performance on Nov. 17, 2012, you can join Ailyn Pérez and Arturo Chacón-Cruz, along with the rest of the cast, for a glamorous gala. Step into the world of La bohème as the Lynn Wolfson Stage is transformed into Café Momus, a well-known gathering place of bohemian life for artists and writers in 19th Century Paris.
La bohème Performance Schedule
Miami – Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
Fort Lauderdale – Broward Center for the Performing Arts
If you go: Gala reservations for the opening night begin at $750 per person. Tickets to the gala night performance of La bohème only, range in price from $21 to $250. For information about La bohème performances, contact the box office by phone at (800) 741-1010 or go online.
"Nutcracker Key West" is set for a seven-show run in the island city beginning Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, and stars a professional corps de ballet along with more than 50 Keys children and other local performers.
As a child, I had the incredible opportunity to perform in "The Nutcracker" in a community production. It's a classic love story that never grows old and I look forward to going to the ballet each year to see it and relive my experience as a young ballet dancer.
Key West resident Joyce Stahl, a classically trained professional dancer, recast the traditional holiday ballet to showcase Key West's tropical heritage. Stahl designed sets and costumes that are valued at more than half a million dollars. The storyline includes imagery drawn from the history of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, shipwrecked off Key West in 1622.
Stahl’s production transforms the timeless story of young Clara’s visit to the land of the Sugarplum Fairy into an island fantasy featuring dancing snowy egrets, phosphorescent sea anemones, shimmering reef fish and even a conch shell – the symbol of the Florida Keys.
Can't you imagine the dream battle where toy sailors protect Clara from the Rooster King, and a coral reef scene where Clara and her nutcracker-come-to-life are entertained by a dance troupe of children costumed as tumbling shrimp and colorful fish? It sounds absolutely delightful!
If you go: Go see the “Nutcracker Key West” at the Tennessee Williams Theatre located at 5901 College Road on the campus of Florida Keys Community College. Ticket prices begin at $20 per person and can be purchased online or by calling 305-295-7676.
Where to Stay: Ocean Key Resort & Spa has the unique distinction of being able to claim Zero Duval Street as its location, which also overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and the Sunset Pier with its famous daily Sunset Celebration. At Ocean Key, you are in the heart of it all. Almost everything is accessible by foot or by bike. Make sure to try some Latin cuisine at Hot Tin Roof waterfront restaurant and lounge.
This year, instead of slaving away in the kitchen and spending hours cooking and cleaning, why not pack up the whole family and head to the Sunshine State to celebrate Thanksgiving? You could start a new family tradition!
Time is luxury. The time you spend with your family during the holidays doesn’t have to revolve around hard work or stress. Make it simple. Let the Hyatt host you and your family for a Thanksgiving vacation at one of these three fabulous properties.
After a $14.5 million makeover, this Southwest Florida resort welcomes families to gather in all-new, modern accommodations. The 19,000-square-foot Stillwater Spa will indulge your senses with holiday-inspired aromatherapy treatments.
Then enjoy the resort’s decadent Thanksgiving buffet served at the Tanglewood restaurant. Inspired by the natural produce of Southwest Florida, the buffet will feature farm-to-table and locally grown organic options. For more information and to make reservations call 239-390-4398.
Let the culinary team at the Hyatt Clearwater Beach's SHOR resturaunt do all the cooking this Thanksgiving.
First, enjoy a bountiful brunch buffet with live jazz music on Thanksgiving day. The menu will include an array of salads, delicious seafood, carved meats, artisan cheeses, brunch entrée favorites, spectacular desserts and, of course, the resort’s signature Bloody Mary bar.
Then, if you're still hungry, enjoy a three-course prix-fixe a la carte Thanksgiving feast in the evening. Call the resort at 727-373-4780 to make reservations.
Option 3: Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa
After launching a sustainable and locally focused food program earlier this year, Hyatt Key West Resort and Spa has fully revamped its Thanksgiving buffet menu.
They've incorporated fresh, locally grown produce and organic ingredients while taking an island-inspired twist on classic holiday dishes. Enjoy holiday favorites such as key lime and honey-glazed turkey, cider-braised Florida ham hock and Gulf oysters on the half shell. For reservations call 305-809-4000.
Have you ever wanted to know what it was like to be a secret agent? Here's your chance to walk in the shoes of the infamous 007.
Join The Dezer Collection for their "James Bond Experience" on Nov. 9, 2012, at 7.pm in Miami. Guests will begin the evening by getting behind-the-scenes access to one of the largest collections of James Bond props and vehicles in the world.
You'll want to prepare yourself because I have inside information from a trusted source: there's a chance you'll be kidnapped. But don't panic.
My source tells me that select guests will be taken suddenly from the exhibition to an undisclosed private theater – you guessed it – to watch the new premier of Skyfall, the latest movie in the James Bond series. Just don't tell anyone I told you.
The Dezer Collection’s James Bond exhibition is valued at over $15 million and includes the “Golden Gun," a T-55 Soviet tank featured in the 1995 Bond film GoldenEye, a BD-5 Microjet, six Aston Martins and other guns and gadget memorabilia.
Don’t miss out on the action.
If you go: Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased online.