Here are some favorite places to stay.

Bowery Hotel

As a born and bred New Yorker, I take my love affair and memories of the city very seriously. New York is an ever changing city. Sometimes those changes are for the good and other times.. well, not so good. Given all the changes, finding the parts of “Old New York “ can be hard to find. There are certain parts of the city that have changed for the better and also kept the nostalgic charm. One of the areas is the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It has had huge amounts of re-gentrification, but also kept the grit of New York City.

One of the diamonds is the Bowery Hotel. Located on Bowery between East 2nd Street and East 3rd Street. It is unassuming in its exterior and mystic and warm on the interior. The lobby has warm dark woods with vintage upholstered sofas. It is like walking into an aristocratic family members drawing room or a private club. It is a luxury boutique hotel. The key to the guests rooms are big and heavy. The kind you want to hand back to the front desk when leaving the hotel. It looks like a real key but is actually electronic.

When I entered my Bowery King room facing east, it was quiet. It was comfortable and made me think this is going to be a great place to call home for the night. The room has floor to ceiling windows with black trimmed panes bringing in lots of natural light. A small table with two comfortable chairs are placed by the window.  The original craftsmanship of crown molding, arch ways with stained glass are within the room. There is lots to do and see in the area with wonderful shops, restaurants, and galleries. I found myself wanting to stay put looking at the city from the windows within these wonderful walls. The night sleep was restful in an incredibly comfortable bed. The type you feel no rush to get out of and start the day.

The service was attentive and friendly. The Bowery Hotel has a fitness center, Gemma Restaurant serving Italian cuisine. They also have a beautiful bar. There are 135 rooms comprising of Queen, King, Suite and One Bedroom. The fantastic smelling products are C.O. Bigelow.

I understand why this is a favorite hotel among young Hollywood and people working in the creative fields. This is not your big tour groups hotel.

The hotel is easy to access other parts of the city. Astor Place subway station is a five minutes away. Cabs are easily available. You will want to walk and see all the East Village, Greenwich Village, NOHO and SOHO have to offer.

The Bowery Hotel is a favorite for being understated luxurious and keeping a bit of Old New York alive.

Aulani- A Disney Resort and Spa

Aulani .... Aulani simply saying the name which in Hawaiian means “the place that speaks for the great ones” or “messenger of a chief”; it makes me want to go back.

Located on the island of O’ahu only twenty-five minutes from Honolulu International Airport. Situated in the beautiful Ko Olina area of the city Kapolei. The resort is oceanfront with a tranquil beach due to the lagoon setting.

When you enter the property it is lush with beautiful trees. The friendly Aloha spirit is felt the minute you step out of your car. Women and men are each given a beautiful Lei. Children have their own welcoming gift of a Menehune necklace ( Menehune are shy mischievous people of Hawaiian Islands that are gifted and magical). What really opens your eyes and makes you say “wow” is the lobby. Tall entry way with Polynesian style of architecture. Your eyes look at the pictures telling a story of the people and the land. This is an immediate way the history and customs of Hawaii are woven into the fabric of the resort. Then you are drawn to the ocean in the distance while looking at the Waikolohe Valley (the name of the recreation area) in the foreground.

The resort has 351 guest rooms including 16 suites and 481 multi-bedroom suites. My family and I stayed in an Island Garden View with two queen-size beds. We had a beautiful view of the garden, mountains and a partial view of the ocean.

The resort is large, but it is easy to navigate. Every evening the daily ‘IWA (schedule) is available for the next day. It lists activities for the ‘Ohana (family), Keiki (children) and ‘Opio ( youth 13-17 years old).

We started our morning with a 6:30am stretch class by the ocean. It was a perfect way to start the day. The classes change each day. We had breakfast at ‘Ama’Ama an oceanfront restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was fantastic. It is one of two restaurants on property that reservations are highly recommended. The other restaurant is called Makahiki (named after the annual Hawaiian festival celebrating the season of bounty). The service is buffet style and they are opened for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is a Disney character dining with Mickey Mouse and friends. The ‘Olelo Room a lounge open for bar fare in the evening. I thought the concept for the lounge was brilliant. Everything has a word on it. For example the word ‘Noho’ was written on the top of the chairs; since it is the Hawaiian word for ‘chair’. The whole lounge is meant to be interactive for the guests to speak with the cast (this is Disney after all) to learn about the Hawaiian language and culture. The resort also has many other locations for meals.

Truly the greatest kids club is the wonderful Aunty’s Beach House . Throughout the day they have activities for children. Some require sign up because space is limited. You can arrange to have your children eat lunch or dinner based on availability and for an additional fee. Aunty’s Beach House has something for every child's interest. Plenty of rooms with different crafts, a movie room that looks dark and stormy so you want to sit and watch the movie and a big jungle gym in the backyard to run around.

There is more to do in the Waikolohe Valley  it is unbelievable! There are two water slides, one of them is called Tubestone Curl. It empties out into the lazy river so you can relax and let the river move you. The resort also has three pools. One is an infinity pool that looks out to the stunning ocean. If you swim underwater you can hear whale sounds. There is a larger pool where they do activities as well as an adult only pool.

Another unique aspect of the resort is the Rainbow Reef . This is a live reef with incredible aquatic life. The cast makes sure it is kept pristine and have you follow special guidelines when entering.

The beach is wonderful, complimentary boogie boards and snorkels are available. Since it is a lagoon it is easy for young children to play in the water. Paddle boards are available for an additional fee. I have been wanting to paddle board for awhile and it was fantastic! Quite the workout. The lagoon is shared with the neighboring Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina .

Golf can be arranged at the top rated Ko Olina Golf Club located next door.

The Luau called KA WA’A is definitely a must experience. It is right on property and as of now performed twice a week. They offer pre-show activities and the buffet highlights Hawaiian cuisine.

The Laniwai Spa is stunning. It is the only spa on O’ahu to offer Kula Wai an outdoor hydrotherapy garden. This is another example of bringing Hawaiian rituals and beliefs into the setting. The signature treatment is the traditional Hawaiian Lomilomi . This massage technique is passed down from generation to generation. The Laniwai offers many different spa treatments.

My family and I were having such a wonderful time at the resort, we only left one night for dinner to a restaurant across the street at Ko’Olina Station.  

I could go on for pages about all the fantastic activities and feel of the resort. Our vacation was exactly what we wanted. Which was much needed relaxation, new experiences and fun. Next time we will also explore all the wonder O’ahu has to offer.