travel guide to switzerland

My Travel Guide to Switzerland

This is my ultimate guide to an incredible country: Switzerland! I spend two weeks on a road trip, and I take you with me–showing you where to eat, stay, what to drink and see and how to experience the best of the best!
Starting in the posh Geneva where I visited markets, ate amazing Michelin cuisine, took a steamship cruise and river ferry and saw the UN. Next we cruised along the coast of Lake Geneva, stopping at adorable villages like Saint Saphorin, sampling wines of Lavaux, staying over in fun cities of Vevey and Lausanne and heading into the hills on a vintage train to make cheese and roam the alps in Chateaux D’Oex.

Food Guide of the Lake Geneva Region

 

Cheese. Lake fish. Chasselas grapes. Chevreuil. Mushrooms. There’s so much good food in the Lake Geneva region, you need to come with an appetite! I toured through Vevey’s Farmer’s Market, the farms of the Pays D’enhaut, tasting the cheeses of Château-d’Oex, Michelin restaurants L’Auberge de L’Onde & La Brasserie at the Royal Savoy Hotel and sipped wines in Lavaux. Don’t miss the lake fish, the family run wineries and vineyards in Lavaux, like Domaine du Croix Duplex, and the amazing cheeses!

24 hour travel guide to geneva switzerland

24 Hours in Geneva, Switzerland

    A mix of culture, history, luxury, great food, iconic sites and lakeside views–it’s not too hard to have a perfect day ins Geneva. I toured through this charming city, which feels more like a village, in order to share my favorite spots with you. The Old Town, or Vieille Ville, the Carouge neighborhood, […]

Budget Winter Weekend Getaways for East Coasters

February can be a hard month. The best of the winter season has past—the coziness of the holidays and chestnuts roasting on an open fire are long gone. The excitement of the New Year in January has faded away and it isn’t March yet, so you can’t quite say Spring is around the corner.

You’re stuck in the lull of winter and perhaps you need a pick-me-up, so what better than a winter getaway? Wouldn’t that be nice…but I know what you’re thinking—you just took that vacation when you had time off or you broke your budget on gifts for family and friends—don’t stress about the finances. There are weekend getaways that will give you the reboot you need at a cost you can afford.

For the East Coaster

It’s snowing and it’s freezing. You knew it would be like this when you moved to this side of the country, so it’s time to embrace it. And although it would be nice to rejuvenate with some Vitamin D on a sandy beach, it can be equally as restorative to get out of town, clear the mind, and slow down life in a winter wonderland—just not the one you might be used to.

  1. A Getaway House, Southern New Hampshire & Upstate New York

A Getaway House is the place for you. A Getaway House is a tiny, flagship house that provides a 2-4 person stay (depending on the house) with modern amenities for cooking and sleeping. It’s solely surrounded by nature—trees, lakes, rocks, and dirt.

These cabins allow you the full ability to immerse in nature and yourself or whomever you’re with. The minimalistic environment forces you to explore—whether that’s adventuring on a through the trees on a walk, taking an icy hike in the nearby mountains, getting lost in a book inside the cabin, home-making each of your meals, or having a never-ending conversation around the campfire at night. Although prices change according to day of the week, any Getaway House you choose will not cost over 129$/night and can cost you as low is 89$/night

  1. Maine Huts & Trails, Kingfield ME

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the Getaway House seems nice, but you might want something a little more structured. You’re a free spirit who wants to get in touch with nature, but you don’t just want to wander around the woods—you want a trail. You don’t want to cook for yourself when you’re on a getaway—you want your meals. So if you’re looking for a little less self-guiding and are willing to do a little more spending, Maine Huts & Trails is the way to go.

These ‘huts’ are less hut-ty than the Getaway House for sure. They’re larger and contain more rooms (i.e. a living room and a gear-drying room) because they hold more people—the catch is guests stay in shared bunkrooms (an opportunity to be social?). If you’d like more privacy however, private bunkrooms are available in each hut as well for a pricier cost.

Your list of activity possibilities ranges from fatbiking, to hiking (on many trails that are marked off and have signs) to Nordic skiing to snowshoeing. If you like to adventure more than relax—there will be no shortage here. 3 meals are provided and there are options for guided trips as well in case you’re nervous about venturing out on your own. Depending on date/day of the week/extra amenities you want, you can stay here for as low as 130$/night.

  1. Glamping/Airbnb, You Choose!

 

There are so many summer towns in New England—from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard to the Hamptons. Many of the property owners want to take advantage of their vacant houses and so they put them up online to be rented at extremely cheap prices due to the off-season. You can hop on these beautiful and fabulous homes this winter for a quick getaway and get out of it truly what you want. If you just want a home a way from home to relax and getaway—you can do it. There are also places near parks and forests where you could figure out a DIY few days and research trails and things to do in the area. Regardless, this option is truly what you make of it, but should really be taken advantage of while the prices are so low this winter!

So, whichever place you choose to go, you’ll be making the most of the season and redefining the stigma associated with the month of February. And the best part is, you will have made your getaway happen without too much spending—so no buyer’s remorse! Anyway, whether you’re taking on an adventure or cozying up to relax, have fun in your newest and very affordable ~winter wonderland~

Happy winter and happy travels!

Conner

My Winter Bucket List for 2017

I grew up on the rocky, often icy slopes of Vermont so skiing was naturally a big part of my winter life. I now live in Santa Monica, where I’ve traded my ski boots for flip flops, and I find my snowy escapades fewer and far between. As the temperatures start to drop (to a chilly 65 degrees) I find my mind wandering to higher elevations. I crave the sound of skis carving down a slope, the frosty air rushing against my face as I zip by snow covered trees and dozing off to the tune of a crackling fire. It is time to head to the mountains.

With my sights set on Northern adventures, I’ve come up with a bucket list of my top winter experiences for 2017. The catch? They are all experiences that I’ve never done before. To make this list, I’ve perused some of the most well known resorts out West, looking closely mountain resorts within a short flight from LAX. My standards are high–the mountain needs to have great food, awesome slopes, noteworthy hotels and a charming village, in addition to offering me something unexpected and new. Take a look at this list and let me know if you’d like to do any of these too!

Learn to Snowboard (& get a massage after!)

Vail, Colorado

I tried snowboarding when I was around 14 years old. My teacher was my friend Sonia, a naturally athletic girl, who made it look so easy. To my surprise, I wasn’t all that bad for the first few runs. Then… I fell. And after falling once, I continued to fall, over and over again. I was so sore after that first day, I decided that I’d prefer my own two skis. Now, after all these years, I’m ready to tackle it again. I think I’d like to learn at Vail, mostly because I’ll be in need of the Après-Sport Therapeutic Massage from The Lodge at Vail immediately after.

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Ski at Night

Keystone, Colorado

First tracks on trail in the morning, the afternoon sun glinting off the snow, the mandatory hot chocolate breaks to warm up by a fire–these are a few of my favorite things–about skiing during the day. Night will bring a whole new atmosphere. I’m curious to see how the trails change, the mountain changes and my experience changes by skiing under a dark sky. Keystone offers skiing until 9pm and with sun setting around 5pm now, that’s a solid 4 hours of trail time. Bonus: watching sunset while up on mountain must be magical.

Snowshoe under the Stars

Northstar, California

Another evening event on my list, but this slower paced activity will have my eyes turned up instead of down. A Stargazing Snowshoe tour at Northstar sounds like my ideal way to appreciate nature. It combines a bit of exercise with majestic woodland trails –something most people don’t usually do at night. And all of this is under a blanket of winter stars.

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Take a Sleigh to a Yurt

Park City, Utah

I’ve never been in a yurt, let alone one at 8700 feet, so clearly I am adding this Park City dinner experience my bucket list. The Viking Yurt, heated only by a woodstove, serves up a gourmet meal to 40 people each night at wooden tables holding pewter tableware. And just getting there sounds like half the fun! You hop in a heated sleigh and a snowcat pulls groups up the 1800 feet elevation. Of course, being greeted with Glogg, live piano tunes and a serious menu of alpine specialities, (braised short ribs with lingonberry sauce!) is the kirsch on top of this memorable night.

Snowball fight!

Snowball fight!

Fat Bike on Snow

Breckenridge, Colorado

Biking is one of my favorite activities–mountain biking, road biking, beach biking–I love them all. However, I’ve never attempted hurtling down a snow-packed trail on a bike! The ‘fat bike’ trend is exploding all over the globe–it is popular in the Swiss alps, where I had a blast on a similar monster scooter during the summer. The literally fat-wheeled bikes make it possible for even beginners like myself to trek down mountain trails, over rocks, holes and other terrain that would make you wary on a regular bike. In Breckenridge, several outfitters like Breck Bike Guides, offer full and half day fat bike tours in winter. From my brief experience, I can say that fat biking is adrenaline pumping to say the list. Now I have to get to Breckenridge to try it on snow!

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Aprés Ski like a Rockstar

Heavenly, California

I love a good après ski but apparently Heavenly takes it to a whole new elevation. The Unbuckle Après party at 9150 feet is more Vegas club party than your typical post ski hot toddy. High intensity beats, half priced drinks and the Heavenly Angels all kick this party up a notch–but don’t worry, this party ends at 5:30pm so you won’t be here all night. What I particularly love is the idea of taking the gondola back down to town after sunset.

Brunch with Champagne at 11,000 feet

Keystone, Colorado

Nothing says decadence like champagne for breakfast. At Alpenglow Stube, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant on the top of Keystone, you can sip that champagne while looking out on breathtaking views of North Peak. Dinner is pricier but brunch will run you $56, but it includes a mimosa, extravagant buffet spread as well as soup and indulgent main course.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Vail Resorts. The opinions and text are all mine.

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A Priceless Night with Andy Grammer

“Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

Ever since I was a little girl, my focus has been on seeing the world. I’ve dedicated my life to this passion, turning it into not only a career but a way of life. I believe that each trip that I’ve taken–no matter if it was to an exotic international locale or a neighboring town–has taught me something. Even the trips that were difficult–getting lost in Japan, food poisoning on my honeymoon in Thailand, rain every single day in Germany– All of those situations, though not desirable, did teach me about the kindness of strangers, communicating with language barriers, finding creative alternatives and about myself. However, for all those tough travel mishaps, I’ve had 10 times the amount of unexpected good come out of my trips.

Glamorous

I don’t have all the money in the world, but I never, EVER regret the money I spend on travel. Whether it’s a beach getaway, a surprise trip home to see my parents, or an impromptu friends weekend away–every single trip has brings memories I’ll never be able to forget. That’s why the Priceless Experiences campaign with IHG Rewards Club really resonated with me. Though you technically can put a price on travel, you can’t put a price on those special moments that your travel creates.

Practicing my beats

On a quiet Tuesday night in December, I experienced a priceless night with IHG and Mastercard, just down the road from my home. My husband Dave and I were invited to an intimate concert and a meet-and-greet with musical artist Andy Grammer. We were given the VIP treatment with a black car pick up door to door, from our home in Santa Monica over to the Crowne Plaza LAX Hotel, just next to airport. The evening only got better from there.

IHG Rewards Club Priceless Experiences Event with Andy Grammer on Tues., Nov. 29, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for InterContinental Hotels Group/AP Images)

IHG Rewards Club Priceless Experiences Event with Andy Grammer on Tues., Nov. 29, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for InterContinental Hotels Group/AP Images)

We started off with a bang with getting to meet Andy and chat briefly. He generously said I looked familiar, which I joked must have been because he watches all my youtube videos (lol). We took a photo with him before he had to go prepare for his concert for our small group.

Dave was starving so straight to the food we went. We sampled hand rolled sushi, made to order tacos, fresh pizzas and more.

Delicious sushi

I was very impressed by the handcrafted cocktails created by famed mixologist Alex Ott. I seek out unique cocktails and I really enjoyed the combinations of the unusual ingredients he used, like tea, superfruits and rose. I even had the chance to get behind the bar and “make” some of these cocktails myself!

Creative Cocktails

Creative Cocktails

The night continued with more of these memorable moments. We made our own custom printed t-shirts, posed in front of a step & repeat for a glamor shots and tasted scoops of my favorite ice cream from the Salt & Straw cart! Note: If you haven’t had Salt & Straw, look them up now and go as soon as you can.

This ice cream deserves the attention!

This ice cream deserves the attention!

Of course, the main event was Andy’s performance. We sat front row and were in the thick of the energy of the music. Andy’s enthusiasm was infectious and I turned around to see the whole room rocking out to his happy beats. He also told us the stories behind the lyrics between songs and he shared a lot of personal anecdotes about life and his start in music which I found to be really humanizing. I knew a few of his hits and liked their positive sounds and catchy choruses. However, I was surprised by how much I liked some of his songs that I’d never heard before.

Front row of Andy Grammer's show

Front row of Andy Grammer’s show

A Tuesday in my hometown was transformed into such an unforgettable evening, filled with surprising, hilarious and tasty moments that I shared with my husband. I think what IHG and Mastercard successfully showed us was that these types of travel experiences, even local ones, can make life richer. Thanks for giving us a #PricelessExperience!

This post was sponsored by IHG Rewards Club Priceless Experiences.

The 5 Best Experiences at Barceló Bávaro Beach

Give me a beach, a sunset, a pool, some palm trees or any combination of those things, and I’m all set. With that being said, clearly the Caribbean is one of my favorite destinations of all time. Each island has it’s own personality and culture, with one common denominator– crystalline beaches with shimmering aqua waters. Well, the Dominican Republic was no exception.

Travel is as much about who you are with as where you are going. I was lucky enough to be able to snag my good friend and cameraman CJ, to embark on a Caribbean adventure with me. We also were joining a group of other talented vloggers from around the globe–so much creativity on one island. In total 26 vloggers were invited to three of the Barceló resorts in Latin America and the Caribbean, and each of us produced our own interpretation of the resort experience, through our own lens.

CJ & I tackling the DR

CJ & I tackling the DR

Our mission: Visit the Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort, an all-inclusive, adults-only resort in Punta Cana, and document what made this place special. Often all-inclusives are thought of as places for families or for those that just want to drink endless margaritas in the pool. They work for both those types of travelers, but I felt this resort in particular was offering a lot more in the way of the local experiences, variety of food and general level of quality. Only one way to find out–CJ and I packed our cameras, our swim gear and hopped down the Dominican Republic to discover Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort.

Our Plan: Capturing this huge resort and its many experiences was no easy feat. As you know, filming hotels is one of my specialities, but this was an exception based on the sheer size of this resort. It had to be go go go from dawn till (much after) dusk. We had a lot of activities, restaurants, pools and beaches to check out and limited time. However, CJ and I share similar travel styles in that we are up for everything and we say yes to every adventure, tiredness be damned. So we filmed at break-neck pace– eating, drinking, dancing, sailing, swimming, golfing, water-sliding, beaching and of course, laughing, all day, every day.

Choosing to break down our videos by what you can do in just one day, we cover our favorite activities, eats, areas from the minute we woke up to when we shut off the light. From all the dining options (including beach pineapples), to what the room really looks like to all the fun that can be had on their breath-taking beach–we fit each theme into a jampacked 24 hours.

Our Videos: We feel these videos capture the vibrant energy of the Barceló Bávaro Beach, and the nonstop attitude of our traveling selves. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of this island paradise and why you would want to visit (and trust me, you do).
[jwplayer mediaid=”3038″]

Watch the rest of my videos here–> 24 Hours at Barceló Bávaro Beach

The Five Best Experiences at Barceló Bávaro Beach

1. Order a Pineapple on the Beach

PINEAPPLE HAPPY

PINEAPPLE HAPPY

You may have to take a long stroll on the sand to find this tiny shack that is serving fresh coconuts and pineapples filled with delicious juice or a combo of juices and RUM. This photo-worthy treat is perfect on a sunny day in the sand, by the pool or really just anywhere.


2. Find your Private Paradise

Paradise Found

Barceló Bávaro has of course, a very long, very spread out beach and I never felt cramped. However, if you really want a remote, “Castaway” style experience, go out to the beach and walk right. Keep walking till you pass the lounge chairs and come to a narrower stretch of untouched beach. There’s nothing over here besides palms and fallen coconuts. This is a perfect area to plant yourself for a few hours of undisturbed beach bliss.

3. Order Breakfast In

Views with a side of breakfast

Views with a side of breakfast

The breakfast buffet has a lot of fresh options but all that tastes even better when it’s served to you in your own room. My room had a balcony with a DELICIOUS view of the ocean, so I invited CJ over and we ordered the breakfast in, completely with chocolate strawberries and champagne. Shouldn’t every day start like this?

4. Play Golf

Beautiful outdoor course

Beautiful outdoor course

It’s hard to pull me away from the water but I do like golf and the course at Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort was really exciting, with lots of ponds, lakes–even flamingos! I would suggest playing in the early morning or around sunset to minimize the heat and maximize your beach day.

5. Submerge

Pooltime

Pooltime

I love to be in the water–swimming, snorkeling, kayaking–you name it. But there’s something about the underwater lounge chairs that I just couldn’t get over. You can lounge comfortably in these built-in chairs in the adults-only pool. Get an icy beverage if you want to make the good feels last longer.


Did I mention pineapples?

Pina

Piña

Watch the rest of the videos from the #BarceloStories project here–> Barcelo Stories

xo
Kelley

borgo santo pietro tuscan cooking school

How to be a Michelin Starred Chef in Italy: Tuscany’s Cooking School

If you like Italian food and think being a renowned chef could be an exciting career change for you, I’ll tell you how to do it. It’s easy… well sort of.

Step 1: Book yourself a ticket to Italy and then make your way to Tuscany.

Step 2: Enroll at a cooking school at a prestigious boutique hotel, where your instructors are all Michelin starred chefs. (I’d suggest either Borgo Santo Pietro, a flawless luxury boutique hotel with their own vegetable gardens and farm, or Il Falconiere, an inviting, family run high-end boutique nestled on an olive garden.)

Step 3: Put on the apron and roll up your sleeves because you will be getting pasta dough, ricotta and olive oil

Step 4: Follow your teachers examples and create culinary masterpieces, with your own personal spin of course.

Step 5: Wait for Michelin to call you.

Okay, it might not be that easy, but these courses definitely give you a start.
I’ve been to Italy over a dozen times and have lived in Tuscany and Umbria for extended periods. On my recent two week trip to Tuscany this past summer, my favorite memories were when my hair was covered in flour, my arm muscles burning from kneading pasta dough and mouth salivating from the Tuscan aromas wafting from our army of pots and pans in a working kitchen. I love EATING Italian food, who knew that I’d love to actually learn how to make it!

At Il Falconiere, Silvia Baracchi is the owner as well as the head chef, and she conducts the cooking lessons herself, in this homestyle kitchen. She laughs, she chatters, she makes jokes and she makes sure that you get as much out of the class as possible. Don’t think this is a “watch & learn” situation. She gives you your own setup and you need to follow along and try to keep up with her high-speed pace.

We made 4 courses over the course of this 4 hour class—but don’t worry— you get to sample your creations as well as sip some of Silvia’s own family wine, Baracchi, to keep your stamina up. Ultimately, you dine on your creations in their al fresco courtyard as the sun sets. Bellissima.
Over at Borgo Santo Pietro, luxurious doesn’t begin to describe it. This manicured property houses historic farmhouses, an infinity pool, a chicken coop, tennis courts, a lilly pond and so many twists and turns, you can easily find yourself a private oasis. But make sure to make your way over to the Borgo Cooking School. Michelin starred Chef Andrea Mattei helms the kitchen and will give you a full on tutorial in how to make rustic Tuscan cuisine with an edge of elegance. His charming personality and broken English make the lesson just as fun as it is informative.

For the carb inclined, a local nonna from the village comes up to show you, in her abrupt but endearing manner, how to create ravioli. Flour and farm fresh eggs become the most heavenly mouthful of spinach and cheese filled goodness. And sweet lovers like me have to take a chocolate making class with Chef Diego Poli. You start with cacao beans and end with the luscious, melt-in-your hand chocolate before you finish your espresso.

 

Love, Travel & Getting Married: The Best Day of My Life

People always say that their wedding day is the best day of our lives. I didn’t buy all those clichés until… I got married myself. I was lucky enough to wed the man that I’d been with for 6 years in the most special place to us in the world. We were married barefoot on the sand in Saint Lucia, at the jaw-dropping Sugar Beach A Viceroy Resort (many of you may know me as a Hotel Snob, let me tell you–this hotel will knock your socks off, no matter how much of a snob you are ;).

There’s so much more to say about the catamaran cruise, the rehearsal dinner at Ladera and the big day on the sand and dancing at the Bayside Restaurant, but since it’s our ONE YEAR anniversary, I’m going to release the never before seen Wedding Video. Let me know what you think!

 

 

The Hotel Snob reviews Club Med Punta Cana

Outstanding beach? Check.
Sleek, sexy rooms? Check (Zen Oasis!).
Healthy food options & variety? Check.
A Variety of Activities? Check.

I was surprised by how much Club Med Punta Cana had going on! I traveled to the Dominican Republic for one week of experiencing Club Med for the first time. I am do-er when I travel, and at the resort, it feels like there are endless activities! I tried to do as much as I could–waking up for sunset yoga, perfecting my mini-golf game, learning archery for the first time and even taking a sailing lesson! The days felt so long because I was able to do so much, all on the Club Med “campus” as the G.O.s called it. Here’s my Hotel Snob rundown

Rooms
I stayed at their new “resort within a resort,” the Zen Oasis.The oversized lagoon pool was the centerpiece of this semi-private space, with in-water loungers, a hot tub could fit a party of 50, and the Hibiscus Bar which offered refreshments & tropical drinkst throughout the day. And you won’t hear any kids splashing around at this pool! The Zen Oasis is exclusive to adults so we could really relax and enjoy the Caribbean sunshine.
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The rooms were sleek and minimalist, with amazing showers and very comfy beads. They each had their own outdoor space with day beds and if you had an upper room, you had lovely pool views.
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Dining
There were several dining areas and options for each meal. I think my favorite was lunch out at Indigo Restaurant and Lounge. This open air space is located quite literally on the ocean, with waves splashing as you dine on the made to order menu.

The buffet dinner was very impressive at Samana Restaurant. They had a variety of ethnic cuisines, with chefs individually preparing plates at each station. The homemade ice cream definitely won me over.IMG_7736

Service

“Gentil Organisateurs,” or GOs, are a Club Med signature. The GOs are basically the staff but they treat their jobs as more like friends of the guests. They lead activities, provide any help that you need and of course are cheery and friendly. I got to know Christelle, an experience GO at Tiara, the 5 Trident Luxury space at the resort (read: oceanview villas with a private bar and pool) and she was a wonderful host.
Hotel Snob: The G.O.’s of Club Med Punta Cana

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Activities
I loved all the activities, as I mentioned, and the options were for all types of travelers. Need an intense cardio class to work off those margaritas? They have it. Want to learn out to kitesurf? No problem. In need of a massage in a beach cabana? Of course. There’s really just about every activity you could want on a beach vacation. However, I was truly surprised, challenged and impressed by their CREACTIVE by Cirque du Soleil program. Ever wanted to learn how to do aerial silks, swing from trapeze or spin in a giant bungee? You can! Watch to see this incredible program:

Overall, I didn’t know if I’d like an all-inclusive resort that has a very heavy family focus. Well, I found that is not all that Club Med Punta Cana is! I was able to find experiences that fit my preferences–being active, healthy eating, beautiful landscape, new activities and luxurious rooms. Next time, I want to bring a group of friends to take advantage of this one-of-a-kind resort experience!

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