Gotta Getaway: Four Seasons Biltmore, Santa Barbara

Since so many people take trips around the President’s Day holiday – or are at least beginning to dream of their next escape,I thought a little vacation inspiration would be in order today! As you may have seen on Instagram, we recently made our pre-baby getaway to Santa Barbara. It’s the perfect escape from San Francisco – just far enough away to feel like a real vacation, but close enough to enjoy for a long weekend. But this weekend getaway was extra special. Since we were marking our last trip together sans kid, we headed straight for an equally extra-special spot – The Four Seasons, Biltmore. After getting to visit for one night at age 12, the hotel has always held this amazing mystique for me. And it certainly lived up to my childhood memories.

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Tucked away just south of downtown Santa Barbara, the Biltmore is really its own oasis. There’s really nothing else around it – other than a gorgeous stretch of Butterfly Beach and the Pacific Ocean of course! The property opened as a hotel in 1927 and has enjoyed a storied history as hot spot for the Hollywood crowd ever since. But I can see why people love coming here – there’s just something warm and inviting about the place. The grounds make you feel like you’re in a secret tropicl garden, paths twisting and turning until you stumble upon a hidden courtyard or beautiful balcony. When the classic gas lamps are lit at dusk, the place literally glows.

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my bump style: asos leather bomber jacket {similar} // hackwith design studio dress // zara booties {similar} // the podolls x shawn burke clutch // banana republic sunnies // sweet n spark necklace 

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While I’m usually drawn to a more modern aesthetic, I love the stately old-world elegance of this spot. Spanish tile, terra cotta roofs, gorgeous masonary are everywhere. And then there’s the impeccable attention to detail. Things like heating the bathroom floors automatically so they’re warm when you head to bed and when you wake up in the morning is just one of the little bits of genius tucked into every room. That the uber plush terry cloth robes made me oh so happy.

The most comfortable hotel bed I’ve ever slept in also certainly helps – especially when suffering from pregnancy insomnia. I would have gladly stayed in that bed all day. I would have been totally content just listening to the ocean waves crash and the enjoy the breeze coming in through our open balcony doors. Bu tthen I would have missed out on the 80 degree January weather and my prenatal spa treatments.

You don’t know indulgence until you’ve enjoyed a massage in a gorgeous treatment room streaming with natural light, the windows open to let in the warm air waft over you and the melodic sound of the surf just across the way. It was the purest definition of heaven. Add on a facial featuring all-natural, organic Tata Harper skincare that left my face glowing afterwards and I was nothing but a puddle of pure bliss.

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Adjacent to The Biltmore grounds is another gem – the Coral Casino. It’s been around almost as long as hotel itself and serves as a private beach club, but all Biltmore guests have access. I swooned as soon as I stepped inside. The throwback Miami vibe had me at hello. Sure there’s a full gym and all that good stuff, but my sights were set firmly on the ocean-front olympic-sized pool. It was all I needed to convince myself to get out of that feathery hotel bed! With pool side service that included fresh green juice and house-made granola with berries for breakfast, followed by stellar fish tacos for lunch and mocktails to lounge away the afternoon, I was one very happy preggo lady.

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The days seems to slow down as we enjoyed doing very little. Reading, relaxing and just enjoying our surroundings was exactly what we needed. Each evening we’d enjoy an epic sunset overlooking the ocean. I don’t know what it is about Santa Barbara’s golden sunset glow, but I swear light just doesn’t take on quite the same quality anywhere else. And even though it was a short stay, I swear that 72 hour escape is what continues to fuel me through these last few crazy get-ready-for-baby weeks.

I did take notes on my favorite new Santa Barbara discoveries. I’d highly recommend any of these if you’re stopping through town.

 Top 10 Things to Do/See/Eat in Santa Barbara

Diani Boutique: Tucked away on upper State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, the coolest fashions in town can be found here. Diani’s home store is also stellar! I still kicking myself for not buying the Moroccan blanket I saw there…

Jenni Kayne Boutiques: If you’re looking for chic minimalism with lush fabrics then Jenni Kayne clothing is for you. And her home store is the perfect curation of ceramics, textiles, candles and all those other little details that turn a house into a home. I was in heaven!

Whistle Club: For an eclectic mix of California-cool and more uptown looks check out this brand new shop in the Paseo Nuevo pedestrian mall. Manned by a husband and wife team, they whip up Stumptown espresso to keep the guys occupied while you shop!

The French Press: The perfect place to get your coffee fix either before or after shopping

Rori’s Ice Cream: One of Santa Barbara’s newest foodie attractions is the Public Market – a cute little one-stop-shop for artisanal groceries and lots of local food purveyors including Rori’s Ice Cream. I’m obsessed with their “biscoff” aka shortbreaad cookie flavor. To.Die!

The Funk Zone: Why oh why didn’t this exist when I was in college. Just blocks from the beach at the edge of State Street there’s now a little criss cross of blocks filled with wine and beer tasting rooms! I definitely plan to go back when I can indulge.

Lucky Penny: If you want a great pizza or super delicious salad to break up your wine tasting, this is the spot! I’m dying to try their sister restaurant The Lark!

SamaSama: A modern take on Indonesian food, the flavors are fantastic {my fave was the pork belly skewers!}, the level of spice is intense {consider yourself warned} and the setting is super chic. I’m only bummed I couldn’t sample their amazing cocktail menu!

The Stone House at San Ysidro Ranch: If you need spot for an ultimate romantic dinner under the stars- this is it. JFK and Jackie O honeymooned here. Does it get any better??

But what really tops my list is simply indulging in an escape to The Biltmore. You’ll never want to leave that lovely dream-land! I’m already plotting my return – this time baby in tow!!

 

original photography for apartment 34 by arna bee photography 

Prepping for Bebe Update: The Babymoon

So today we’re going to get a little personal. I hope that’s ok with you. I haven’t really talked about being pregnant around here {other than this and this}, partly because I wasn’t sure if anyone would actually be at all interested, but also because I haven’t really had that much to say! I have to confess, I think I may have been in denial that I’m actually pregnant. I realize that probably sounds terrible. But I’ve been lucky enough to have a very smooth pregnancy experience and busy enough with the rest of daily life that it’s as if nothing has changed. I haven’t even bought baby clothes yet. Nothing! Did anyone else have this experience?

But now that we’re into the new year, this whole we’re going to have a kid thing is feeling much more real. The bump starting to get pretty legit {proof here!} helps, as do the kicks that keep getting stronger everyday. But even now, I still kinda can’t comprehend that there’s going to be a human at the end of this whole thing – and in just a couple of months…

But before we get to that point {and my real panic attacks set in!} I have started planning for one critical expectant-parent milestone – one that I think is totally Apartment 34 relevant – the Babymoon! I won’t lie. I was thrilled when I heard about this genius concept – a final escape for you & your partner full of relaxation and pampering. You’re just not supposed to think about the fact that it’ll never be just the two of you ever again!

While I had originally daydreamed of a jaunt to an exoctic locale or super tropical beach, time, resources and reality just weren’t making room for some over the top trip, so instead I began to hunt for more local alternatives. And then I found the perfect getaway – the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara and we’re headed there in just a couple of weeks!

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Santa Barbara has actually been near and dear to my heart since my first visit at age 12! It also happens to be where I went to college, where we celebrated my 30th birthday and where we had our engagement photos taken {five years ago, what?!}! It is a little jewel of a place, sheltered in its own idyllic world. And I j’dore it. The light is a different kind of golden, the beaches are the perfect mix of Southern California expanse and dramatic northern Californian landscape. Of course, there are my other favorite things – super cute boutiques {can’t wait to check out this one and this one}, fabulous food and the ultimate treat – staying at The Biltmore! It’s basically the holy grail of hotels. I see amazing spa treatments, delicious meals and barefoot beach walks in my very near future and needless to say, I can’t wait. This is my version of anticipating Christmas morning.

Now the only question remains….what am I going to pack?? Here’s what’s currently on my wishlist.

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Get Your Shop On:

> This Heidi Merrick Maxi Dress is the perfect ‘bump dress’
> A Rag & Bone Bomber Jacket instantly bring sporty attitude to a feminine dress
> These classic Mykita Aviator Sunglasses go with everything
Maternity Stripe Top – a thin, striped long sleeve top is the ideal travel shirt
> The “Beach” RGB Nail Polish is a light, sandy sheer. Need I say more?
> Dying to try this Rodin Hair Oil. It’s apricot oil fused with almond, sunflower and juniper, mmm
> Love this organic “Balmy Days” Ilia Lim Balm. It’ll keep lips soft during winter beach days
> This Infinite Knot Pendant Necklace with rope detail gives a little nod to the ocean
> Obsessed with the Everlane Twill Weekender Bag. It’s perfect for him or her
>  Lace Bralet – pretty lingerie on a babymoon is a must
> These One Teaspoon Shorts are so good: baggy and comfortable, just the way I need them these days
> I always wear a Panama Hat for extra protection from the sun
> These Freda Salvador D’Orsay Oxford are super easy to slip on and off in the sand

It could be a bit hard to outfit plan as my bump is now growing on the daily and my closet is quickly thinning. But with a few fail-safe options {that I’ll get just as much wear out of post-bebe} I think I’ll still be able to feel like me on this trip! For a day filled with little more than some quality lounging, a striped tee is all I really need. Should the weather cooperate and be nice enough for some afternoon window shopping {it can be a nice 70-something in January!}, I’ll throw on a pair of boyfriend shortsmy favorite flats and top it all off with a classic Panama hat. I definitely want to enjoy a nice night out too and a floor length dress is the perfect way to feel extra special. And the best thing about a quick hop down the California coast? This will all fit perfectly in a cute weekender!

Ok, I’m pretty dang excited for this little escape now. To all the mamas out there – any must-do babymoon activities you recommend??

 

images 1-3 via Laura Murray Photography // image 4 via Laure Joliet // image 5 & 7 via Simone Anne // image 6 via Could I Have That

Gotta Getaway: A Trip to Hawaii Can Change Everything

When a trip to Hawaii lands in your inbox you freak, obviously. But when it’s coupled with an opportunity to enjoy three days of ah-mazing food cooked up as part of  the Four Season’s Chef Fest, you die, then wake up, and hit “reply” as fast as you can! Our Editorial Director had the chance to do just that and if you were following along on Instagram you know it was quite the enviable experience… to say the least! Here’s how Hawaii changed everything, including her waist size {her words, not mine!}.

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As soon as I walked into the tiki wood decorated lobby of the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and was greeted by a warm towel to wipe away travel exhaustion, a fresh lei {of course!}, a mai tai served in a coconut and just-picked-off-the-tree-and-squeezed papaya juice, I knew that this going to be a trip of a lifetime. I’d heard that the Four Seasons was one of best resorts in the world long before I ever thought about making my way to the Big Island, but I still couldn’t believe what was right before me. The grounds are the lushest green you’ve ever seen.

As I toured the property, I immediately knew I wasn’t going to want to ever leave- a rarity for a wandering traveler like myself. Six pools, a golf course, a beach steps away from my room; these were all calling my name during my indulgent weekend. But this trip wasn’t just a feast for the eyes or about pool time – it was for the tastebuds too!

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Chef Fest, a food & wine festival bringing together some of the best chefs from around the U.S., is put on by the Four Seasons every year to share a culinary experience for the books. From intimate interactive cooking classes, to barbecue dinners on the beach, blind wine tastings and amazing desserts, my stomach and my knowledge of cuisine grew in just a few short, extraordinary days! Here are some of the highlights:

Want to know the easiest and most impressive way to whip up a dinner? I learned it’s by cooking a whole fish! With a big knife, a lemon and a couple of sprigs of rosemary, Thai Snapper is my now going to be my go-to dish for everything. Demonstrated by Chef Marco Canora of New York’s Herth and Terroir, I promise you cooking up your own fish is way easier than you think. Some things I never knew about cooking a whole fish: make sure the fish is at room temperature when you cook it and make sure that fishy is nice and dry to ensure tasty, crispy skin!

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If you haven’t ever tried a blind wine tasting, {I hadn’t- I’m such a sommeli-nay. I know nothing!} sign yourself up for one. They are so much fun. This one was particularly special because it was lead by none other than wine genius and godfather of Pinot Grigio, Mr. Tony Terlato. Always dapper in a crisp suit, Tony flew to Hawaii to lead the class and school everyone, from people like me, who know nothing, all the way to the Four Season’s Vice President of Food and Beverage! This man is a wealth of knowledge- the vintage, the varietal, terroir… the depth of wine history in his head is remarkable. I was eating up, or should I say, drinking up everything he said! Here are some wine tasting tips I made sure to jot down:

- Determine if you taste the grape or the dirt more. If you taste grape, it’s a New World wine. If you taste the earth, it’s Old World.

- Having some general geographical knowledge about where wine grows should help you you figure out the grape {say Cabernet Savignon vs. Bourdeaux}…but without a multiple choice quiz, this certainly ain’t easy!

- Tilt your wine glass at a 45 degree angle. If the rim at the top of the wine is more white, it’s a younger vintage, if it’s a rich red, it’s been aging for quite some time.

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Luaus and beach cookouts, paddle boarding and yoga in the sand were just a few of the other incredible experiences I was lucky enough to enjoy during Chef Fest. I’m seriously missing waking up every morning and making my way straight to the beach. Even if it WAS with my laptop, nothing gets better than listening to the crash of the waves…

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit Hawaii, or even better the little slice of heaven that is the the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, you know exactly the sentiment I developed for this place – in only three days! The cool golden sand, the warm salty waters, the soft green grass, the humid smell in the air, the never ending sunsets…it’s definitely life changing!

experience c/o The Four Seasons // images by Bianca Sotelo and c/o the Four Seasons