From the Redbury: “Situated at the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine, our all-suite, luxury hotel in Los Angeles, CA offers an unpretentious refuge with all the comforts you need to unwind after hitting your favorite Hollywood arts, music, fashion and entertainment hotspots.”
I enjoyed my stay at the Redbury and think you truly will feel at home (or better!).
Gone are the days when family travel was considered a luxury. With the wide-range of travel promos being offered today, and (thanks to the internet) easy online booking process of airlines, hotels, tour operators and travel agencies, families are now going places to have unique experiences together.
And it looks like the upward trend will continue. A study commissioned by the Embassy Suites Hotels indicates that millennial parents take trips with their kids significantly more than older generations, and 38 percent of them do so three or more times a year.
The difficulty of traveling with kids may be slowing down the trend though. The same study mentioned earlier says that 11 percent of parents surveyed find family travel stressful, and that stress was a top reason why some did not take trips with their kids more often. Dealing with child tantrums while waiting for boarding at the airport, finding ways to entertain a bored child at a resort, trying to get hot meals for the kids while away from home are just a few of the demands of traveling with children that parents need to deal with while on vacation. Who would want to travel again soon with their children after a nerve-wracking trip?
To address these family travel concerns and enhance the family travel experience, the Embassy Suites launched the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks program in March 2015.
The program includes an online community that engages parents and provides fun and useful tips from family travel experts and fellow parents to help make traveling with their kids easier and more fun. After all, a vacation is supposed to be time away from the stresses of daily living!
Here are nifty samples of the ‘hacks’ on the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks hub:
Pack your kid’s outfits in separate bags.
Do not pack clothes that require ironing.
If you have an early flight, get the kids dressed the night before in comfy clothes so they are ready to roll out of bed and make that early morning flight.
Wear your baby. It’s helpful to have your hands free in the airport when you’re lugging around two suitcases, three carry-ons, three personal items, two kids, and the overpriced lunch you grabbed in a rush on your way into the terminal. Bonus: the stroller is then free to be used as a luggage cart.
A pool noodle can act as a bed-bumper on the fly.
No speakers? No problem. Put your phone inside an empty glass to amplify the sound and let the dance party commence.
Use the hotel garbage can as a stool. When they can’t reach the sink in the hotel to brush their teeth, flip the garbage can over and let them stand on that.
Aside from the online community, the Embassy Suites is adding new family-focused amenities as part of the #PrettyGreat Family Travel Hacks program. Families can expect coloring books and crayons upon check-in and cocktail napkins with family-friendly games during the evening reception, among other stuff on the house. Select hotels are even providing baby care amenities such as baby wash, wipes and other essentials this summer. These are on top of their usual family-friendly two-room suites, free made-to-order breakfast each morning and complimentary drinks and snacks for two hours every night.
And, further to the all-suite brand’s commitment to providing families with a great guest experience, the brand is incorporating family-specific training into its orientation program and on-going team member training sessions. This is to equip its team members with the necessary skills to ensure families staying with them can focus on enjoying their vacation time together, discovering awesome places and building beautiful memories.
I really enjoyed my stay at this lovely hotel. My room was a recently renovated Studio Suite and I captured a great sunset on the balcony. Enjoy my videos of the great breakfast buffet and the amazing spa. The lobby was all decked out for holiday and a large wedding was taking place in the ballroom. Close to Century City, Westwood and Beverly Hills this is a great hotel choice in Los Angeles!
Our night in Yangon began with finding a hotel. After seeing several hostels, we settled for a room at Beautyland II. There were a few issues including the room having broken air conditioning. The two fans kept us cool. The open window did turn out to be an opportunity for learning about Yangon life.
At 4:00am, I heard a noise like a clack on a metal tube but with a beautiful sound and then singing, a group of men singing. They were walking down the street, stopping and singing. I thought, “I wonder what they are saying.”
At 6:15am, I heard more clanging and singing. This time it was a line of red robbed male monks collecting alms.
At 7:25am, the single line of people were in pink nearly lavender robes with female voices. I videotaped the happening in the street below and went back to sleep. Starting around 8am there was clanging but it really sounded like construction. We are meant to meet Michael, Moritz and Anke at 9am as breakfast at our guesthouse, Beautyland II, ends at 9:30am. I wonder what adventures we will have today?
September 29, 2012.
This movie is from our 28 days in Myanmar (Burma) from September 28, 2012 to October 26, 2012 and our year TRIP in South East Asia, see all the videos from our trip.
George and I arrived in Yangon at night and took a taxi to the center of town. We had read about many hostels before we left Bangkok, but were not sure where we would stay in Yangon. We did not change money at the airport as the Lonely Planet says not to, but that would be our first error. When it was printed, the rate was 1000K to $USD 1 and the airport rate was 450K.
But on September 28, 2012, the rate was 854 and the airport rate was slightly higher. The woman at the taxi stand in the airport gave us free maps, which were wonderful. The map had Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan and Mandalay.
Anke, Moritz, George and I arrived and were escorted from Sule Pagoda area to Beautyland II. Although we ended up staying, it was not because we liked it best, George and Moritz just liked the others less.
Our room was $USD 33 (normally $36, but the air-conditioning was broken so we got $3 off and a second fan.) The large window is the subject of our next video!
Thank goodness we had two fans! It was hot at night in Yangon in September. This movie is from our 28 days in Myanmar (Burma) from September 28, 2012 to October 26, 2012 and our year-long trip in Southeast Asia, see all the videos from our trip.
About the author: Lisa Niver Rajna was recently published in National Geographic and The Myanmar Times. Nominated for the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, she is on sabbatical this year in Asia. Follow her journey at www.WeSaidGoTravel.com.
Now-experienced Los Angeles traveler Lisa Niver Rajna remembers checking into a hotel on her first trip with her future husband, George, (who booked it) and hearing a dog barking. Later, they saw a dog in a car outside the hotel. Yep, it was a hotel that welcomed dogs — and every room seemed to have one. Neither cared for the noise, the smell or the dogs themselves. Bad start.
Then they had a fight about her weight, which was dropping but apparently not fast enough.
“I thought, this is it, we’re going to have to cancel our trip to Fiji this summer because this is never going to work,” Niver Rajna says. “(But) we found our sense of humor, went wine tasting, found a hot tub and made it through the weekend.”
Ranking (1 not recommended to 10 highly recommended)
Amed, Bali: 8
Nestled in the Northeastern coastal section of Bali, Amed actually refers to at least a dozen small fishing villages that line the coast from actual Amed to Aas. The majority of these beaches are rocky. However Lipah Beach has soft inviting black sand. The local people are friendly and the food is tasty. This area of Bali still lacks the mass tourism and traffic that has been the recent bane of travelers to Bali over the past few years.
What To Do:
Lipah is generally a very laid back place. Activities include sunbathing, snuggling up with an enticing novel and chatting with the locals. However the main draw is the excellent coral reef just off Pantai Lipah. Expect to see a variety of soft and hard coral as well as a variety of small to medium sized fish. It is common to see sergeant majors, butterfly fish, bat fish, angelfish, and trumpet fish. Basically, if you were to construct a massive aquarium and needed ideas how to beautify it , you could use this location as a model. In addition, the surrounding fishing villages toward Aas are also picturesque. They can easily be viewed by renting a moped ($5US). In addition, the small Japanese Wreck in the village of Banyuning is also a worthwhile visit while in the area. If visiting the wreck, you can have lunch right on the rocky beach at the Kawi Karma Restaurant. The diced sweet chili chicken and sate dishes are both delicious.
Where To Stay:
We recommend the Bali Amed Hotel. Sweeping views of Lipah Beach from a raised balcony with hot water shower, AC, including breakfast (eggs and toast or pancakes with a fruit plate and coffee or tea) all go for a very reasonable $30 per night (all prices quoted high season). If you wish to be right on Lipah Beach itself with ocean view cottages, also recommended is the Vienna Beach Bungalows, including breakfast and dinner for $45-50 per night for two people.
Where To Eat:
There are quite a few warungs (local eateries) on the main street. All of these places serve excellent ikan bakar (grilled fish), chicken sate and a variety of Indonesian and Balinese cuisine such as cap cay (stewed vegetables), nasi campur (mixed rice dish) and the ubiquitous mie goring (fried noodles). Quenching watermelon or pineapple juices are also recommended. We tended eat at Wayan’s Warung and the Shanti Warung among those that are on the main street. For similar local food options as well as a more international menu, try eating right on the beach at the Vienna Beach Bungalows. French, Indian, and Italian food is available in addition to Indonesian favorites. The staff is quite responsive and respectful. Lunch or dinner for two people at all of these eateries runs under $10US for two entrees with a large bottle of water.
All international flights to Bali land in Denpasar (DPS). From the international terminal, the easiest way to arrive to Lipah Beach is a taxi that can be hired just outside the baggage area. The trip up to the northeast should take 2 1/2 hours and cost $40US. For budget travelers, it is possible to use public transport to Amed but due to the number of legs involved and infrequency of public transport required, this option is quite unappealing.
Surrounding Area Points of Interest:
Nearby Lipah Beach are worthy sites, The aforementioned Japanese wreck has excellent snorkeling when visibility is high. In fact the entire coast is lovely, one fisherman’s village after the next lining the coast. In addition, about thirty minutes outside of Amed the famous dive site, the U.S.A.T. Liberty lays just off the coast in Tulamben. Divers from around the world come to dive this 12o meter wreck that went down during WWII on January 11, 1942. The wreck is shallow enough to view snorkeling but to see within the freighter itself, diving is required. Recommended food spots include Safety Stop that serves up an excellent chicken curry and Warung Koman, serving tasty local favorites with live music from T-Wreck twice weekly. Budget travelers can find a home at Aqua Divers, basic fan rooms with breakfast run $15US per night. More upscale but still basic ocean view and garden cottages with air-conditioning and an inviting pool just over the coast cost $45US.
Lipah Beach just outside of Amed, Bali is an excellent location for those who wish to relax and get away from stress, traffic, and crowds. Lipah is a friendly fishing village with enough amenities to be comfortable yet rustic enough to still see chickens running the streets, school children welcoming strangers with smiles, and the fact that it has up until now, escaped large resort development.
Touring around Amed and Traveling to Tulamben
July 24, 2012- We rented a Motorbike and traveled from Deddy’s Bungalows to Lipah with a black sand beach. See the view from SAILS and then we went snorkeling on the Japanese Wreck near Amed. The wreck is a famous dive site but not as famous as the USA T Liberty in Tulamaben. What a great day with fantastic snorkeling! Another day, Nyoman took us from Amed to Tulamben and taught us words in Balinese. We loved the view oft the Volcano, Mt. Agung with no clouds. We returned to Tulamben so George could play in the T WRECK band in Tulamben. For this stay we were at Bali-Spark Hotel booked on Agoda.com.
There have been many times when travel has been the right life choice for me but so many people say, “You are leaving again? That is just not normal!” It has seemed unusual that I have spent so many years working at sea or on the road with George, but it is normal for me and normal for us. Travel makes us happy.
In The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger, the somewhat dramatic and crazy character, Kim says: “I wanted to go to India, which turned out to be the best thing I ever did. Have you ever noticed that—the way the best and worst things in your life can be all twisted up so you couldn’t have done one without the other?”
For George and I, travel is twisted up and the most important part of normalcy. After a week in Kuta and Ubud, we traveled to Deddy’s bungalows in Amed. We looked at many hotels on Asiarooms.com and Agoda.com, finding some “in town” and some “out of town.” After three days at Deddy’s and wandering around by foot and motorbike, we realized there are about seven fishing villages that line up in a row, and the Bali Amed in Lipah (which seemed out of town on the map) would be where we’d return for our next stay in Amed.
We liked our stay at Deddy’s bungalows. The pool area with the ocean view was pretty but lounge chairs were seldom available, due to the number of guests. The staff were very attentive and friendly. Breakfast was included in the deal and we ate several meals at their café. We ate a lunch of sate ayam (chicken) under a wooden canopy next to the pool. Our room was nicely decorated with a four-poster bed and there was plenty of space for our things. We also had an outdoor area with table and chairs for more relaxing! George played one night with the guitarist at C’est Bon.
A highlight of this area was the sunset viewing spot, walking distance from Deddy’s. We saw the sunset and Mount Agung—truly gorgeous!! We drove a motorbike one day to the Japanese Wreck and snorkeled. There was current in the water, but it was not too bad and the visibility was incredible. We had lunch at Kawi Karma Bungalows, which were in a Sulawesi style and looked very inviting.
All in all our three days in Amed were great. We knew we would return again but we’d promised to be in Tulamben so George could play with a local band there before we went back to Ubud for the Royal Cremation Ceremony. After our time in Ubud, we returned to Bali Amed for seven nights. The black sand beach in Lipah was lovely for long walks and the natives were friendly; they enjoyed teaching us a few words of Balinese! I highly recommend you stay at Bali Amed and enjoy snorkeling as well as the warungs by the sea.
There’s a gem on Ocean Ave, only steps from the beach.
As the website says (and we agree): “Find an exceptional luxury hotel in the Viceroy Santa Monica, the finest California beach hotel offering exceptional accommodations & an ideal location.”
Our outdoors evening event, held at the Viceroy, was tasty and enjoyable. Chef Justin explained to us his crostini creations. My own favorite was the burrata crostini with pesto and tomato. All the dishes are featured at their restaurant on the Spring Plates menu. Justin, the resident Mixologist plus food and beverage manager, shared secrets of the Viceroy’s special libations with us. Their four barrel-aged recipes are unique and include the 1970’s creation: The Last Word. George enjoyed especially a drink, the Ration, made originally by Justin’s grandfather.
The outdoor patio’s great décor and ambiance were well complimented by scintillating conversation, delicious drinks, and tasty food. My table’s favorite salad was the roasted beets with ricotta, grapes, endive and pistachios. Gary liked the torcho with rabbit ragu and swiss chard. Our favorite entrée was the broiled halibut with the smoked potato-miso puree, asparagus and ginger. The fried chicken in chili glaze was another crowd pleaser.
Taste them all and let us know which you prefer! If you are looking for an evening in Los Angeles that will make you feel as if you’re “on vacation,” this is the spot! Don’t miss out on this wonderful eatery and lodging. WHERE: 1819 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401 Dining: “Whist restaurant at Viceroy Santa Monica trumps all expectations of pleasurable dining. Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo’s culinary savvy is on full display as he creates a globally-influenced menu sourced from local markets and farms.” The Sizzling Cameo Bar in Santa Monica: “Located just off the Viceroy Lobby and extending poolside, Cameo Bar is a mid-twentieth-century take on a classic lounge. Relax poolside by day, sip signature cocktails by night and let yourself unwind with renowned local DJs on Fridays and Saturday nights.”