Staycation in Style at The Resort At Pelican Hotel



The Resort at Pelican Hill, a beautiful destination in Newport Beach, is a five-star luxury property with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. It has Italian inspired architecture and decor that brilliantly blends with the Newport Beach’s Southern Cali weather and vibe.


Driving into the resort , I can’t help but notice that the grounds and gardens (they have a lot beautiful olive trees here) are the most well-tended and

immaculate I’ve ever seen. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought the resort had only recently opened – later on I found out that it has been in business for 8 years. How is it that no one’s told me about it before?!?

Basking in the sun … in black. 

As an art and design buff, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of the artwork and furniture are antiques and originals imported from Italy. In fact the guide (you can go on a self-guided tour, small group tour or arrange for complimentary one from the concierge) mentioned that the two tapestries hanging in the great room across from the main lobby are 17th century Flemish originals.

We checked into our room (or bungalow, to be more specific) and were not disappointed. It was very well appointed with a fireplace , a well-stocked Nespresso coffee/tea selection, as well as a large bathroom with a generous shower area and tub. Everything you need for a perfect romantic getaway. And although we were there to ‘get away from it all’, it was so lovely learning that wifi (because I am addicted to social media) as well as local calls, are complimentary.




This resort isn’t just for couples. It’s also very family friendly. There’s a kids pool and “Camp Pelican” which is an activity center for younger kids. For kids aged 13-17 they even have organized activities called “Latitude” so that they can be far away from their embarrassing parents. (I’m just guessing that’s the point.)


You can bring grandma along.

And the resort isn’t just for overnights and long weekends. The resort knows it’s local clientele well and offers extended-stay rates – Newport Beach and nearby Laguna Beach are wealthy communities and homes are always being renovated or built so families are displaced for a while.


The resort is also popular for family getaways and bridal parties what with their 128 villas ranging in size from 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms. The villas have their own equally well-appointed 10,000 square-foot clubhouse and pool, with private washer, dryer and personal villa staff which includes a concierge, butler and personal chef upon request.

resort-horizontal-promenade-pool-pacific-viewThe shuttles take guests to the beach and back (about 3-4 minutes away) and they even help you set up your beach towels and things. Furthermore, if you feel like picnicking, the resort can help you set up a picnic basket from their very well-stocked Caffe and Market.


All in all – a must visit for anyone looking for a relaxing luxury resort experience in Southern California.


But what about The Spa?

Oh yes – The Spa at Pelican Hill which was undoubtedly the highlight of my 3 day 2 night stay. Their spa has been voted “the no.1 spa in California by Conde Nast Traveler magazine “ and was awarded a Five Star rating by Forbes Travel Guide. I am happy to report that both accolades are well deserved.


Located off of the main building, and housing a state of the art gym and fitness studio, I whizzed right past those elements which would have required that I exert myself, and headed straight for the relaxing portion of the spa. Because of their extensive spa menu there is something for everyone. (PS: ask for Lydia for the most amazing facial ever) .


I can’t recommend this spa enough.


The spa waiting area features cozy blankets and a delicious spa menu so you can enjoy pre and post treatment meals. It has very spacious and well appointed with large individual shower rooms with en-suite benches for maximum privacy. And although the decor is grand and slightly imposing (it was inspired by Roman (classic) architecture, albeit a very cozy one) the staff is anything but.

From the time I checked-in, shown around the spa, right until I left, the various staff members were all very friendly and welcoming. I also love that even though a detailed protocol is given after treatment, describing what products were used and which you should have at home, there is absolutely no hard-sell.
I also found out later that the spa offers a Spa Suite VIP room (for up to 5 guests) for you and a group of friends to use for relaxing between treatments. There are also customized spa packages ranging from half-day, full day, couples, babymoons and even red carpet packages.
This spa has everything – hair services, mani-pedis, steam and sauna, a gorgeous Roman soaking tub, facials and massages, private spa suites for couples and groups – all in a high-ceilinged 23,000 square foot area. And for those more fitness-inclined, there are workouts designed head to toe: from meditation, to barre classes, organized beach walks, yoga, and more. In other terms they offer everything from A to Z: Abs to Zumba.

So they make their own pasta.


The resort is also home to Andrea Ristorante , an upscale restaurant that serves not only the most delicious Northern Italian cuisine, but also the most stunning sunsets.


The pasta here is made in-house and the olive oil is especially selected by the chef. (Plus you can take a bottle home as they sell their signature Pelican Hill olive oil at the resort.) As I watched By, my better half eating the delicious food in front of us, I had a flash of concern he would now refuse to eat my always over-cooked store-bought spaghetti , but then I realized I could us “ this is what they do professionally in their professional kitchen.” as an excuse why I am such a terrible cook. Oh well moving on.


We had a short stay and ate only at Andrea and the poolside Coliseum Pool & Grill, so we missed out on trying their Pelican Grill, Piccolo, Caffe & Market (one with freshly made gelato and free wifi), and a Great Room Social Lounge area- all the more reason to return! We especially loved Andrea because of the delicious food, romantic ambience and spectacular sunset over the Pacific.



Coliseum Pool & Grill

While Andrea may have romance and fine cuisine, the Coliseum Pool & Grill has it’s own pluses. This is the resort’s casual poolside dining. And before I even discuss the food, I have to discuss the view of the Coliseum Pool.


What a pool. Seriously – you’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a circle that’s apparently 136 feet in diameter. I don’t remember my geometry but I will say that it looks like a perfectly formed lake plunked down, overlooking the ocean.


Spectacular is a word made to describe this pool. You’ll never want to leave, which is precisely why you’ll be trying the Coliseum’s poolside menu which is delivered right to your chaise lounge or cabana. The setting is so heavenly that they could be forgiven if they served average food but they, again, do not disappoint. The food is fresh and refreshing.



Luxury does not mean wastefulness.

The Resort could, frankly, dine off their reputation for amazing service, delicious food, sumptuous spa and beautiful bungalows but they don’t stop there. Unseen is their commitment to being “green.” All the water used to water the grounds and golf course is recycled water. The resort has numerous awards and accolades attesting to their environmental-friendly activities.


Two years (and I don’t even want to think about how much money) were spent creating elaborate underground rainwater runoff collection tanks. On top of that, they built two bio-filtration/bio-retention devices that clean the runoff water. And this resort actually does what all hotels should do – if there’s an area of the property that’s unoccupied, they have the ability to shut down the electricity and gas there so that no energy is wasted.


I love that they are so environmentally conscious however I will admit that I didn’t come away thinking green, I came away thinking blue-

Blue skies, blue water and all my blues washed away…


It List: Blissful Bags

Thomas Wylde Bag in White

If there’s one fashion item that I’d have to invest on, it would be delectable Italian-leather made bags. A popular guilty pleasure but you know it’s worth every penny. Aside from shoes, it’s the one thing that could make or break an outfit or better yet, exist on its own as a fashion statement. Ladies, you’ve got to agree, everyone’s been a bagaholic once in they’re life! On this week’s IT LIST, see my must have bag list!


Go ahead, cop one of your own– it will be our little secret! 🙂

Fashionable Woman in Aviators

See more on how I styled my recent favorite studded bag in
white is from Thomas Wylde on this post!

Shopping As An Experience

Shopping in New York

One way to help minimize your impulsive buys is to treat shopping as a special experience. It’s very easy to get distracted when you while away your free time walking the aisles of the department store, but if you make shopping a special “event”, then you’re more likely to spend more time thinking before you make any purchases.

NYC Shopping

For example, shopping can be a special bonding event for you and your loved ones. It’s not about wanting to buy things. You don’t even have to buy anything at all. Spending time at the mall testing products and trying out new clothes can be a fun experience. Invite your female friends or family members. If you’re a mom, bring your daughter and spend a fun day looking at great new trends or the latest colors in makeup.

Shopping Tip

Best of all, it’s a short period of time wherein you can exchange ideas and get to know more about your shopping partner. It doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or not. You probably have some tips or advice you can share. The same thing applies to your shopping partner, who can bring some insight or necessary honesty when you’re looking at clothes.

Here are some tips to remember when out shopping with someone you love and cherish:

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Shopping Tips

Have you got a shopping tip you’d like to share?

The Le Tote Subscription – Totes Worth It.

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When I hear kids using the word “totes” instead of “totally” I can almost feel my high school English teacher sighing loudly and muttering “how much time does that abbreviation even save you?”

So when I first overheard a friend singing the praises of Le Tote Subscription, I was momentarily worried that this was some variation on the slang.  As it turns out, Le Tote is destined to stick around, unlike a passing verbal phrase.

Le Tote Heidi Nazarudin

Basically Le Tote sends 3 pieces of clothing and 2 accessories in each delivery and you can keep what you like for as long as you like and send back what you don’t.   If you want to own something outright they’ll just charge you a discounted price.  It’s like having your own personal shopper, deliveryman and assistant to return things for you.  All for $59 monthly price!

Le Tote Sweater


Le Tote Accessories
Work From Home Office

Fortunately Le Tote has done a better job picking than I have in the past.  Of course they see me for who I really am, not a 5′ 10″ , size 0 and blonde. ( Note to self: Do not buy something just because Gigi Hadid looks fabulous in it … because Gigi Hadid looks fabulous in anything.)

Well…  it could happen – I’m just one hair-dye job and a couple of pilates sessions away.  Right?

Heidi Nazarudin for Le Tote

Some Le Tote Member Perks

Brands: Vince Camuto, Sam Edelman, Kate Spade, French Connection, House of Harlow, BB Dakota, BCBGeneration, Max Studio, Levi’s, Free People, Rebecca Minkoff and more.

Photographed by the lovely Sabrina Hill. Makeup and Hair by the talented team at StyleBee 

The Armani Hotel, Milan

When I thought of “slipping into Armani,” I used to picture my favorite sunglasses and red lipstick. Now that I’ve stayed at The Armani hotel in Milan, I have an entirely new picture and favorite memory. (Not to mention impossible standards when it comes to future hotel stays.)

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Milan is both host to Milan Fashion Week and Giorgio Armani’s home town which explains both the fact that he’d put his name on a first-class hotel and the fact that it’s on the floors above his flagship superstore.  As anyone familiar with his esthetic can imagine, the hotel mimics the clean, refined lines of Armani’s clothing design.  There is the same serenity paired with attention to detail here at the Armani Hotel that one finds in his classic tailoring.  Picture cool onyx and crisp edges to the furniture.  Toss in hotel employees with impeccable manners and attention to detail and you can understand my enthusiasm. In my dream world I live in his clothes and his hotel year-round.

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If there’s one thing Armani teaches you – both in fashion and in hospitality – it’s that feeling comfortable makes you feel more self-assured.  I felt relaxed everywhere in the hotel – from the entrance to my room to the spa to the store.  But not in a Miami beach way – in a “I don’t have to try too hard or make a grand entrance, because I am confident that I look and feel good.

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At the hotel, no attention to detail is spared. I love how our room had an iPad I could control every.single.thing with, even order room service or ask the concierge a question. Evety single item in the hotel had been thoughtfully designed by Armani specifically so that being at the hotel made you feel like you were a personal guest of Giorgio himself. And I love that they have a pillow menu – because lets face it, most of us have a very specific way of how we like our pillows. With all this attention to detail, It was very very hard indeed checking out of the hotel when we did.

Below are some of photos I took in and around the Armani hotel


One of the other perks of staying here is access to an Armani makeup artist, a personal shopper to help you out shopping if the two stories of Armani clothing on the first two floors ovewhelm you, and of course, priority reservations at both the Bamboo Lounge and Bar as well as the Michelin starred Ristorante Armani. During  the time i was at the hotel, there were lines outside the hotel entrance to go into bar and I have to admit I felt a little bit smug as I skipped passed the long lines of beautiful people as the doorman waved us inside with a “Ahh, welcome back madam.”

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And then there is the spa …   

Housed on the top floor of the building, it’s the only soaking pool I’ve seen with floor-to-ceiling louvered windows and roof which make you feel as though you’re outside gazing at the spectacular view and the sky at the same time.  While some might gravitate to the 24-hour gym to burn off that second helping of bucatini, I opt for the less strenuous approach – a sauna and a body wrap.  Well, my personal spa coach told me it was just as good for me as working out.  Or at least that’s what I think she said – my Italian may not be great.  But the experience certainly was.

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The La Gare Hotel Venice, Italy

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I’ve always heard of Murano glass and knew about Murano Island, but didn’t realize that its namesake island off of Venice is also home to a beautiful hotel build within the ancient walls of a former Murano glass kiln.

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The Venice La Gare M Gallery Hotel, or the La Gare hotel for short, is only 10-15 minutes from Venice proper via boat shuttles or veperettos that dock right outside the entrance. Not only that, but the hotel will transport you to/from the airport or the train station as well for free, at any time between 9 am and 9 pm. I felt like a rock-star, or Monica Bellucci (in my dreams ) being zipped back and forth between the two Italian isles, while enjoying the view of the Venice canals. Honestly – we first had reservations about not being on Venice but realized after the first night, that we loved the fact that after a whole day of being in bustling, cramped and hectic Venice, returning to quiet Murano every night was actually a relief.

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Let me just say, if I could make my home one of their rooms, I’d gladly take up glass-blowing. The rooms are roomy, and the suites are beyond spacious. Their architecture and decor are subtle so that the pieces of Murano glass placed about, really capture your eye.

These are some of photos I took In Venice and in and around
the hotel – what do you think?

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Furthermore in keeping with its legacy as a Murano glass kiln, the hotel uses many original Murano art pieces in both its common areas ( just look at all the lights, chandeliers and glassware) as well in its rooms and suites.

One leisurely day we toured the Murano glass artists’ showrooms and then returned to the hotel Cafe and sat on the terrace which looks out over the Grand Canal.  A wonderful way to refresh before heading back over to Venice for the afternoon.

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The hotel also has a newly renovated wonderful wellness area that includes a turkish bath, suana  and a well-equipped fitness area. Access is at a reasonable EUR10 per person for 2 hours.“La Gare” translated from Italian to English means “the races.”  And I would urge you to race to this hotel next time you find yourself in Venice.  Better yet, make it an excuse to go visit Venice.

Murano glass is famous for glass, which at it’s basic level is transparent and unassuming, and turning it into spectacular works of art.  The La Gare Hotel on Murano Island does a similar job of taking something as basic as a place to stay while traveling, and turning the experience into something just short of art.  The subtle architecture and designs throughout the interior are punctuated by the brilliance of Murano glass touches.  The service is equally unassuming yet pervasive.  Being whisked by boat to and from Venice was practically worth the price of admission alone.


Old World Charm Meets Modern Luxury

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If you have been following me on Instagram, you’d know that just recently I was in Italy on a month long trip. The original plan was to travel Rome>Florence>Venice>Milan>Monaco but, I adored Florence so much that we ended up going back to this beautiful city after our stay in Milan. Part of the reason for the change of plans is our Florence hotel – The Rocco-Forte Savoy. I have stayed at other luxury hotels in Florence, but this hotel is by far my favorite.

The Ambitionista At Rocco Savoy Florence

Location wise, it is perfect.Situated right on the Piazza Republica (the center of everything fashionable in Florence) and 5-10 minutes walk to anywhere you could possibly want to go in the city. I swear every time I ask the doorman for directions, almost every answer started with “turn left (or right) outside our front door and walk a few blocks”.


It is right around the corner of Via Roma ( this is where the famous Luisa Via Roma flagship store is located) as well as Via Tornabuoni which is famous for housing the finest of designer shops. The Accademia ( that houses Michaelangelo’s David) and The Uffizi is also 5-10 minutes away.

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Turns out, right next door is la Rinascente. Think one-stop shopping mall, but with class and style. You know – think Italian.Did I mention there’s a rooftop cafe? So you can honestly say you’re going for the incredible view of Florence.


While a historic, 300-year-old hotel might seem romantic and ideal in theory, it’s less appealing when you’re faced with a lack of easy key-card entry, slow internet and ancient elevators.  And I don’t know about you, but I absolutely can’t stand the musty smell of 300 year old wallpaper and furniture.

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At the Savoy, our suites have been totally refurbished with Italian fabrics and Florentine motives, I also found out the renovation also included all common areas including hallways and the lobby. Perhaps its just because I am very visual – but after a long day of staring at ancient artwork and buildings, coming back to a vibrant and modern lobby with colorful upholstery is enough to make me feel refreshed.

Our suite had 12 foot ceilings which By describes as a relief ( I think this is a  tall 6’ 3” person thing, to really care about ceilings).  Breakfast was included but what is more amazing is that we could choose to have it downstairs buffet-style OR en-suite, at no extra charge. We also had free free on-demand movies and amazing toiletries from Lorenzo Vicenzi, a luxury Florentine perfumerie.

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The thing that sealed the deal for me was the fact that they offer a luggage packing/unpacking service.  I swear this gave me at least three extra hours out and about in Florence because they took charge of getting my haul from outlet shopping at The Mall into my bags.

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The staff is either trained at some sort of special packing school, or taught magic because a certain someone did not think it could be done.  I probably should have watched – instead I dashed out to get just one more thing from La Rinascente  (which is just next door)


The Savoy is also famous for their restaurant Irene ( named after the owner’s mother). With a menu designed by famous Two-Michelin star chef Fulvio Pierangelini, this is a great place for lunch and dinner. We had several meals here and each one was a perfect combination of traditional Tuscan flavors and the modern desire for light, healthy fare. With indoor and outdoor seating available, it’s a great place for lunch, dinner or anything in between while you watch both tourists and fashionable Florentines walk across the Piazza Republica.


A game that By and I love to play while we sit at a table facing the street is to guess the nationality of people approaching us (which we can easily pinpoint when we hear them talk as they pass us). I also like to make up their conversations (mostly about how the girlfriend or wife wants to shop more, and how the boyfriend or husband doesn’t understand). By usually ignores this part of the game.


So the only question is – when can I go back to Florence? PS : Do book early, the Rocco Savoy hotel is very popular so rooms go fast.


Stay tuned in for the rest of my Italy Adventure– Next up VENICE! #SUCCESSINSTILETTOS