Monday, October 31, 2016

Bora Bora {Part Two}

After sharing our amazing experience at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, I wanted to share a bit about what to actually do around the remote island. I love all types of vacations, whether spent lazily on the beach or trying to see, eat, drink and do as much as possible; Bora Bora was definitely more the former. Much of our time was spent relaxing and enjoying the view and brilliant turquoise water, but we did punctuate our time with some fun activities booked through the hotel.

One day, we rented jet skis and set off with our guide on a circumferential trip around the entire island. We stopped to break coconuts and drink the fresh juice and see so many different views of the island, but just cruising through crystal clear water was the best part. Each day, the hotel staff fed sting rays so we could meet them and become besties. The hotel also provided kayaks and paddle boards, so we rented them one evening and watched the sun set over the bungalows and Mount Otemanu.

Another day, we went on a snorkeling tour which cruised by boat to three spots around the island, one each for seeing stingrays, sharks, and a rainbow reef. The tour also stopped at the most incredible lunch spot: a Polynesian home that grilled us an incredible feast, which we ate at the glorious picnic tables pictured above. The trip was an unforgettable mix of relaxation and a little adventure that I couldn't possibly begin to describe.

How cute is this tiny wedding chapel, on a secluded lagoon at the hotel.
Stingrays everywhere!
We got up close and personal with these guys.
How every day should end.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Bora Bora {Part One}

It took an old friend from college calling the other day, asking for recommendations in French Polynesia, to prompt me to post some photos from our second anniversary trip to this stunning and magical place. Our trip took us to three islands: Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea. Each of the islands were very different, and had their own pros and cons, which is a big part of what I wanted to share. Without question, the most special of the three was Bora Bora. The topography of the island is what makes it so incredible, with a central volcano surrounded by a lagoon and a circumferential string of small islands or motus (check it out). The best hotels sporting the signature overwater bungalows are located across the lagoon from the volcano on these small islands.

The Four Seasons is universally hailed as the place to stay, however, I'm here for making an argument for the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, which is located on the same stretch of land across the lagoon from the volcano. This location means it shares the same views, same water, and a wildly similar experience for much less coin, allowing you to spend more nights in the dreamy bungalows. The bungalows at the Intercontinental were stunning, with 360 degree turquoise lagoon views (ask for one with an unobscured volcano view), beautiful comfortable beds overlooking the water, and spacious personal decks. Without question, you must stay overwater for at least a portion of the trip. Personally, I didn't feel that a trip to French Polynesia would be worth the effort and expense without this experience.

The included breakfast buffet at the hotel was lovely, with everything from pastries and omelets to the freshest ahi sashimi you've ever tasted. We even splurged one morning and had breakfast delivered directly to our bungalow by boat, which was so much fun! The pool was insane. Like, next level beautiful. The picture of Adam reading in a poolside hammock below is one of my favorite travel photos. I can't say enough about the experience we had here; both Adam and I list it as the most beautiful place we've ever been. More to come on the rest of the trip!

Transportation from the tiny airport to the hotel is by boat! This was our only dodgy weather of the entire vacation.
Suit: Mara Hoffman (similar one here)
The spa boasts private, glass-bottomed treatment rooms where you can watch the fish swim below you while enjoying a massage.
The grounds of the hotel are immaculate, and each view seems prettier than the last.
Morning views from the foot of our bed.
Brunch spread of fresh smoothies, sashimi, and an Asian noodle stir fry.
A turquoise color so intense that it seems like a filter.
Breakfast delivery!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Riad Idrissy & The Ruined Garden

While trying to finalize a destination for our 3rd anniversary trip, the article that pushed me over the edge toward Morocco was one by Condé Nast Traveler called "How to Live Like Royalty in Morocco". The article featured three hotels, two of which excited me enough to make our final itinerary. I knew instantly that Riad Idrissy was the only place I wanted to stay while visiting Fez; it was non-negotiable, and it definitely didn't disappoint. This 400 year old riad was purchased and fully renovated in 2006, using only materials and furnishings designed and made in Morocco. While drinking wine on our terrace, we got to meet and chat with one of the owners, an Englishman who purchased it after falling in love with Fez, and it was lovely to hear his story.

Upon arrival, we were met by Fatima, who was an incredible hostess during our stay. She served us some mint tea, and showed us to our Library Suite, one of only five guest rooms in the riad. The bedroom was beautiful, but the best part was our adjoined library and terrace that looked out over the adjoined restaurant, the Ruined Garden. The day before our arrival, we requested the 7-hour lamb Mechwi for our first night, which requires a day's advance notice. It was served on our private balcony as the sun was setting, and was possibly my favorite meal of the entire trip (picture below).

The Ruined Garden is an utterly charming restaurant, set in a secluded courtyard complete with lush, beautiful plants and uncovered original mosaic floors and columns. We ate an over-the-top included breakfast there each morning of approximately one million breads, fresh fruit, and a tagine of Berber eggs. The entire experience made it feel like we were welcomed into someone's home, rather than just nameless guests at a hotel. I can't possibly say enough about our experience in this beautiful riad, and would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.

This 70s style jumpsuit is from Nasty Gal, but is no longer available.
{Similar here, here, and here}

This flowing maxi from Express was perfect for Morocco thanks to it's comfy jersey fabric, and conservative cut. {Similar here and here}. The necklace, from Free People, just had to be purchased for the trip as well.