Turning A Trip Into A Honeymoon

“I wish we were going on our honeymoon,” I said to my husband as we boarded a plane to Bali. “Who says we can’t pretend,” he responded. It was this tiny comment that completely reshaped the way I ended up thinking about our 10-day trip to Indonesia turning it from just a vacation into a paradisiacal getaway.

As a travel writer and health coach, I’m extremely lucky to have travel as a part of my job description. I’m even luckier to have my husband tag along with me often. We’ve been able to see parts of the world and share new experiences together we might not otherwise get the chance to. But, often those trips are work related meaning I’m taking meetings, writing up posts and never truly disconnecting from my 9 to 5.

So, when I got asked to lead some meditation classes on a cruise through Indonesia in July, I had the mindset it was going to be that mix of exploring and working again. That was where my honeymoon comment came in.

IN THE SERENGETI ON OUR ACTUAL HONEYMOON.

IN THE SERENGETI ON OUR ACTUAL HONEYMOON.


Ross and I opted to go to Tanzania for our honeymoon in January 2016 and it was one of our favorite trips of all time. Not only did we get to check off bucket list items like going on safari, but we also completely unplugged and embraced all things romantic (private dinner under the stars in the Serengeti? Yes please!). Honeymoons are the one time where everyone at work encourages to take as much time as you want off and not worry about answering work emails, and everywhere you go people are pampering you. Not to mention, for some reason honeymoons just spark that urge to say “I love you” to your significant other like every 10 seconds.

But, even though we’re not newlyweds and already took an official honeymoon, who says we couldn’t behave like we were? So, we did.

Though I was technically working on the week-long cruise, leading a handful of meditations certainly wasn’t an imposition to our honeymoon plan. Yes, I did have to wake up early a number of days, but when I wasn’t working we went hiking, took naps, and laid on the beach without checking emails constantly. Then, after the cruise, we decided to extend our trip by spending a few days in Ubud, Bali and that’s where the honeymoon feeling hit a new high.

WE STAYED IN THE REGAL VILLA 2 AT THE VICEROY BALI.

WE STAYED IN THE REGAL VILLA 2 AT THE VICEROY BALI.


We stayed at Viceroy Bali and the moment you enter the intimate resort situated in the heart of The Valley of Kings, you feel transported. We were greeted with welcome drinks, flower necklaces, and cool towels, just like a couple of newlyweds. We enjoyed a drink in the restaurant overlooking the jungle before heading to our private villa (side note: it’s a villa only resort and there are only 25 total). When we walked in and saw our massive room, spa-like bathroom, beautiful thatched-roof ceiling our hearts began to pitter patter. Then it got better.

We looked out the window to see our own private plunge pool, lounge chairs and mini garden with unobstructed views of the jungle. Oh, and there was a natural waterfall serenading us in background. Even if you entered this place in a bad mood, you had no choice but to fall into the romantic swing of things. As soon as our valet left, we looked at each other like yup, this is a honeymoon alright.

We had arrived in the morning so we literally spent the entire day never leaving the room. We took a nap, lounged outside, went swimming, took a bath, talked, and everything else you want to do on a honeymoon. The staff took care of our every need and were happy to accommodate when we wanted to switch our five-course tasting dinner to that evening instead of the following.

THE BEAUTIFUL DESSERT AT CASCADES RESTAURANT.

THE BEAUTIFUL DESSERT AT CASCADES RESTAURANT.


The first time we left the room was for that dinner, which was just as romantic. Their restaurant, CasCades, is one of the top fine dining spots in the whole area and overlooks the valley from a bird’s eye view. We ordered a bottle of wine before settling into our decadent meal that, of course, was lit by candle light. The chef came out to greet us and even changed a course for me to make sure I was totally enjoying the dining experience. The staff kept apologizing about the rain that night, but for us it only made it more romantic. After the meal, we retired back to our villa and fell asleep to the sound of the rain in the jungle. Hello any romantic movie ever!

We woke up the next morning feeling more relaxed than ever and opted to go sightseeing that day with one of the guides from the hotel. They let us design our own private half-day tour so we could see exactly what we wanted without the hassle of a group. We visited the rice terraces, the Holy Spring Temple, did a coffee tasting, and went shopping all before heading back to the hotel where we kicked up the romance even more by doing a two-hour treatment at their Lembah Spa.

THE VIEW FROM THE SPA AT VICEROY BALI.

THE VIEW FROM THE SPA AT VICEROY BALI.


The two of us love a good massage, but they’re usually about 10 minutes at a nail salon in NYC. Getting a full pampering session happens once in a blue (honey)moon. We were massaged, scrubbed, and moisturized with yogurt. It didn’t end there. We then enjoyed a shower together followed by a rose petal-filled bath, steam room, and hot tub. To say we were relaxed and totally gushy for each other is an understatement. At that point, we couldn’t even fathom being with other people and opted for room service in bathrobes instead of dining out.

Sadly, we had to check out in the evening the following day, but still managed to enjoy a late check out, dinner, and pool-side lounging. By the end of our stay at Viceroy Bali, our mission of treating our trip like a honeymoon was a success. Even if we weren’t newlyweds, it was taking that mindset and making a few indulging, out-of-the-ordinary, decisions that really brought that feeling to life.

Obviously, we can’t always go on luxurious vacations, but we can make more of an effort to adopt that attitude of disconnecting from the world, reconnecting with each other, and embracing romance. With that mindset, we can perpetually be on our honeymoon.  

The 5 Most Peaceful Destinations to Decompress in 2017

Between the presidential election, Zika epidemic and losses of both Prince and David Bowie, I think we could all agree that 2016 has been somewhat of a stressful year. To help get everyone off to a fresh start in 2017, CheapAir compiled a list of the five best travel destinations for unplugging, decompressing and relearning relaxation. Check them out!

Tulum, Mexico
This destination truly commits to blissed out minimalism. With most of Tulum’s “eco-resorts” on a strict low tech mandate – no television, no Wi-Fi, no air conditioning – you might think there’s not much to do. But that’s precisely the point. The scenery is stunning, the dining rustic, the drinks are cheap and the vibe is relaxed to the max. Europeans have been flocking to Tulum for decades, but millennial Americans are making Tulum a must-visit spot for the stressed-out young professional. Leave your iPhone at home and stay for a while.

Boulder, Colorado
Boulder’s religion is the great outdoors and nirvana can be found pretty much everywhere. You’ve got state-of-the-art cycling, hiking, and rock climbing to tempt you – it’s the kind of town that people move to precisely because of its laid-back vibes. Visitors find locals so serene, it’s inevitable that they too, will unwind.

Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage makes our list of stress-relieving destinations for the stunning Alaskan wilderness (it’s a brilliant place to center yourself) and to remind yourself just how small and inconsequential your stressors really are. When you’ve got Kodiak bears wandering by your front door and harsh winters to gird yourself for, you’ll find your mind is taken up with much more practical matters than how many likes your latest Facebook post got. As an odd bonus, Alaska has the most yoga studios per capita.

Kaikoura, New Zealand
Kaikoura is famous for its whale and dolphin watching, and what could be more peaceful than watching adorable dolphins frolicking in the ocean blue? Kaikoura is a bit off the beaten path from some of the more major tourist cities in the land of the kiwis. Whether you take a stunning hike on the breathtaking Kaikoura Peninsula pathway or simply visit the beaches where you can lounge about for weeks, there’s nothing but relaxation on the menu.

Missoula, Montana
Missoula rounds out this top 5 for its absolute dedication to wellness. Missoula residents pride themselves on a particularly robust level of physical activity, and you start to understand why when you visit its stunning outdoors. There is fabulous hiking and biking all around Missoula, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t try one of the most meditative and peaceful activities known around these parts – fly fishing. There are a number of outfitters that can hook you up with rental equipment and set you off on your own private fishing adventure.

Why I Needed to Take a Vacation From My Vacation

Hitting the road or hopping on a plane can be exciting, but it also comes with a lot of stress. There’s packing, getting to the airport on time, dealing with traffic and delays, drawing the short stick when it comes to seating options, and body clocks that often get out of whack. That’s exactly what happened to me this past summer when I decided to fill every waking moment with travel. 

I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who gets the travel bug if I don’t go somewhere every six or so weeks. I constantly need a change of scenery, even if it’s a quick trip upstate. So, when I was pushing the three-and-a-half-month mark of no trips, I went a bit nuts with the planning.

First up was a cruise around the Mediterranean, where I led meditation classes for a week, followed by a two-night trip to Denver, where I spoke at a conference. Then, I made my way over to Portland, Oregon for the Fourth of July, where I ate five meals a day, and lastly, headed down toRio for the Olympics, where sleep wasn’t on the itinerary. While I am immensely grateful for each and every one of these experiences, I was also extremely tired. 

The time spent traveling to and from airports and working non-top while on the road caught up to me by mid-August. My back was sore, my skin broke out, and I had a tension headache that wouldn’t go away. Although I chose this, I needed to reset and reboot before autumn set in. So what did I do? I planned another getaway. Before you throw your arms up in the air, hear me out. This trip was going to be different -- I would spend my days sleeping, eating healthy, exercising, and doing absolutely nothing.

To avoid another long-haul trip, I opted for a destination that's all about relaxing: Boca Raton, Florida. My husband and I booked a two-day stay at Boca Beach Club, an oceanfront hotel that's perched on a half-mile stretch of private beach. Translation: it's quiet enough to fall asleep to the sounds of the Atlantic. The property also has two fitness centers, multiple restaurants with health-conscious menus, and a top-rated spa -- all the necessary ingredients for a true escape. 

To get into vacation mode, we did the unthinkable: put away our computers and cell phones. Studies show that six out of 10 employees have conducted some work on a recent vacation. And a Framingham Heart Study found that men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack. 

Once we got over the discomfort of disconnecting, we made an effort to relax. And what better way to do that than by eating? We chowed down on some delicious fish tacos and guacamole before heading back to the room and taking a nap. I couldn’t remember the last time I napped in the middle of the afternoon.

Food and sleep -- we kept it to the basics. We took advantage of the fact that we had time and a beautiful location on our hands, so we splurged for the romantic panoramic dinner. The next morning, we indulged in sunrise yoga. For us, it was something out of the ordinary, romantic, and the perfect activity to kick off a day of other healthy activities. We wrapped up by 7 a.m. and were at the pool two hours later, ready to take another short nap. The afternoon was filled activities like walking on the beach, chatting, and hitting the gym. Typically, our workouts are squeezed in the morning before work or after leaving the office, so it was a nice change of pace to exercise together. And before dinner that evening, we decided to catch up on a little grooming like haircuts and manicures (I even convinced my husband to get his first one ever). Then, it was on to another delectable dinner before calling it a night. 

On our last day, we went all out -- in relaxing. This was our spa day. We opted to try the ritual bath experience, followed by a couple’s massage to make sure we were 100 percent blissed out by the end of this marathon de-stress weekend. The 50-minute bathing experience was unlike anything I've encountered before. You go from an aroma room to a personal tub in a Turkish hammam-like setting, followed by a shower that feels like you’re getting sand blasted. Next, you're transported into another tub, where water is steadily dumped on your back for an aquatic massage. The whole experience ends in a communal whirlpool.  Needless to say, all the visible wear and tear on my skin from months of traveling had been scuffed away. The hour-long massage took care of my muscles, releasing the tension that had built up from carrying luggage and unsuccessfully sleeping on planes.

At lunch, in our robes, we looked at each other with a smile that said “we did it.” We were stress-free and feeling refreshed. Getting on the plane later that night didn’t have the same sting as the flights earlier this summer. And when we awoke the next morning in our New York City apartment, the world was a little easier to handle. All we needed was a vacation from our vacations.

Should You Be Taking a Sleepcation?

Originally appeared on Yahoo Health:

In the world of Hollywood we’re used to hearing stories of late nights out and non-stop parties. So, it was a bit shocking to when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gave an interview about how he was opting for a night in rather than a night on the town.

While Patriots players Rob Gronkowski, Jonas Gray, and Shane Vereen were attending a Clippers game with Justin Bieber on Monday, Brady, during his weekly interview on WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” on Tuesday, said that he’d rather catch some zzz’s. “I’m not doing anything like that. That time has come and gone in my life. I did a lot of Charger work last night, sleeping. This is my first time away from my kids in a while, so I finally get some decent sleep.”

Brady isn’t the only celebrity who uses time away from home to catch up on sleep. Actress Brooke Burke-Charvet has also admitted to taking “sleepcations” with her husband. Could bed actually be the newest hot spot?

With more and more people working long hours and having extended family commitments it’s no surprise that there is a serious case of sleep deprivation in this country. The National Sleep Foundation says 42 percent of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep, which can have some serious consequences. “Sleep deprivation studies repeatedly show a variable (negative) impact on mood, cognitive performance, and motor function,” says one University of Pennsylvania study. “Deficits in daytime performance due to sleep loss are experienced universally and associated with a significant social, financial, and human cost.”

But, can sleep marathon sessions really be the solution?

Research shows that the strategy really can help you catch up on sleep. In one study, research subjects who were allowed to sleep as long as they wanted spent about 12 hours per night in bed for four or five nights, on average, and then adjusted to a more normal 7 to 8 hours. ” It can definitely help meet some of the sleep needs that you missed,” says Natalie Dautovich,  National Sleep Foundation Environmental Scholar. “Sleeping in can be beneficial especially if you have that extended period of time to get back on your regular sleep schedule.” In fact, Shane Green, global hospitality consultant and founder and president of SGE International, says that many of his VIP clients will check into a hotel just to catch up on sleep. “So many times you get these celebrities that are coming off the road or off the tour after a season and they will check in for a couple of weeks just to get their balance back,” says Shane. “We have a number of celebrities who would check in and put blackout curtains up and pretty much just sleep for days on end.” Once they’ve acclimated, they are ready to enter the real world again.

While long stretches of sleep can be beneficial as an occasional fix to reset your schedule, studies show it’s not useful for chronic deprivation. A recent Harvard Medical School study shows the effects of persistent sleep loss on performance and concludes that it is nearly impossible to “catch up on sleep” to improve performance. “There is some emerging research that this recovery sleep is not the same as getting the sleep to begin with in both quality and quantity,” says Natalie. “If they test people after a regular night’s sleep versus sleeping in or if they’ve had these ‘sleepcations,’ they don’t preform as well as if they’ve had a regular night’s sleep. The recovery sleep cannot fully compensate for the missed sleep.” According to the study, even when you sleep an extra 10 hours to compensate for sleeping only 6 hours a night for up to two weeks, your reaction times and ability to focus is worse than if you had pulled an all nighter. The bottom line is that there is no real way to get back lost sleep.

If you tend to have an erratic schedule, there is a tool that can help you get the most out of your slumber. A sleep calculator can help you compute when to go to bed to make sure you are not disrupting your sleep cycle. During the night, sleeping follows a predictable pattern, moving back and forth between deep sleep and rapid eye movement  sleep. Waking up during a deep sleep cycle can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented. Even if you have to wake up at 5am, a sleep calculator can identify several times that are best for falling asleep so you will wake up feeling refreshed—even if you haven’t gotten the recommended six and a half to eight hours.

6 Places to Go for Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month, a time to acknowledge the true dangers of stress and take the time to decompress and refocus. What better way to do so than with a relaxing getaway? In honor of giving yourself a little self-love this month, I've decided to round up some great places to go to get centered and pampered.

 Scottsdale, Arizona
Arizona has often been known for its healing natural environments and top-notch spa services. The JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in the heart of the Sonoran desert offers a variety of ways to decompress and de-stress. Looking for some good eats? Indulge in guacamole made tableside at Rita’s Kitchen. Want to connect with nature? Take a stroll through one of many botanical gardens throughout the resort. Hiking is also offered on the nearby Mummy Mountain, a positive way to release tension while enjoying breathtaking views and the warm Arizona sunshine.

 New York, New York
Getting centered in Manhattan seems impossible, but one hotel offers a way to achieve that in the center of it all. The Gansevoort Meatpacking offers its "Get Centered" package that encourages guests to leave the stress (and their phones!) at home and just focus on their health. Included in the package is a complimentary exhale mind body spa fusion class for guests to get centered as well as a complimentary in-room “health basket” full of kale chips, Juice Press detox juices, and other healthy goodies.

 San Diego, California
Westin Hotels & Resorts revealed the next phase of its year-long Well-being Movement with the announcement of Westin Wellness Escapes, the brand’s first-ever series of wellness retreats that are a turnkey getaway option for both fitness novices and experts to improve/maintain well-being.  The on-going series will be hosted at properties around the world with themes such as mindfulness meditation, nutrition, yoga, running and more.

 St. Lucia
“Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind,” promises The BodyHoliday, Saint Lucia’s premier health and wellness resort. The all-inclusive resort, founded on the key pillars of relaxation, restorative beauty, exercise and a good diet, enables guests to unwind, reconnect with their goals, and learn tools for maintaining a stress-free life through a completely customizable vacation. Guests at The BodyHoliday receive daily inclusive spa treatments, and can participate in activities such as meditation, Spoga (spinning + yoga) in the property’s glass Tree House spin studio, tai chi, water sports and golf among many others.  Additionally, guests can sign up for the Stress Buster program, in a three, five or seven day experience, which includes a lifestyle and nutrition consultation, yoga classes, various spa treatments, personal training, and personalized tips to bring home.

 Turks and Caicos
In recognition of April’s National Stress Awareness Month, travelers are invited to Gansevoort Turks + Caicos to get pampered from top to bottom with the hotel’s "Head To Toe" Package. Massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and more help melt away any stress and sends visitors back home feeling restored + rejuvenated. 

 Lake Como, Italy
With the Euro at the lowest exchange rate in over a decade, the time is now to experience the beautiful Lake Como, Italy. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the snow-covered Rhaetian Alps, the blue waters of Lake Como, and flourishing gardens, the Sheraton Lake Como Hotel has over 116 guest rooms and suites that have everything guests need for an enchanting stay in Italy’s northern region. Guests can combat stress by enjoying the great outdoors while sunbathing, jogging or picnicking in a lush green park.

 

Where do you want to go to de-stress? Write in the comments below!