Mandarin Oriental New York: Photo Diary

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I’ve been to New York many times, and each time is better than the last. On my most recent visit, I had the opportunity to stay at the Mandarin Oriental New York. This luxury hotel boasts a view so beautiful that I couldn’t help sharing it in a short little post with you all! The Mandarin is best known for the lobby lounge, which offers the bird’s eye view of Manhattan pictured above. The stark contrast between lush Central Park and the stunning skyscrapers just across the street had me feeling like I was in a dream. If you’re thinking about visiting NYC for the first time and want my recommendations, check out my Ultimate Guide to New York City.

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Not only does the lobby lounge offer one of the most breathtaking views in New York, but it also serves up some creative cuisine with an Asian flair. David and I opted for cocktails and this Dim Sum Bento Box. If you don’t want to stay at the hotel, but want to take in the view, reserve a table for Afternoon Tea.

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Our room was decorated gorgeously with an oriental theme. Not pictured is the cozy chaise lounge that sat right beside a window with a beautiful view of the city.

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So, I have this thing with bathrooms. To me, this is the most important part of any hotel room– and the Mandarin did not disappoint! The huge bathtub, complete with complimentary bath salts and a flat screen TV, was right next to a large window with a city view… Need I say more? The plush robes were the cherry on top.

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If you’re looking to burn off some well-deserved calories from one of my favorite NYC sweet shops, the fitness center is impeccable! The top notch cardio machines line a wall of windows with more beautiful views of the city. It’s even complete with a huge indoor lap pool.

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If you don’t feel like going out, room service dinner is definitely the way to go. We decided on Ahi Tuna Tacos and Chicken Lo Mein. Both were equally as decadent.

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Asiate is the hotel’s signature restaurant. The ambience was right up my alley with its pink and purple decor, orchid centerpieces, and the tree branch sculptures that hang from the ceiling. We dined in for breakfast and loved every minute– and bite!

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I tried the American breakfast, which I know sounds a bit boring, but the Chicken Apple Sausage was to die for! And besides, you really can’t go wrong with that view in front of you.

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If nothing else, I highly recommend visiting this beautiful hotel if only for a cup of coffee just to take in this view. I’ve seen a lot of pretty views in NYC, but for me, this one is only rivaled by the top of the Rockefeller Center.

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Ah, New York. Only you can look this good on such a dreary day.

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Where is your favorite place to view New York? How would you say the Mandarin New York’s lobby lounge compares?

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Resort Review: Hotel Bel-Air

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This past December, I was lucky enough to visit Hotel Bel-Air, a Dorchester Collection hotel in Los Angeles. From the charming gardens that weave throughout the entire property to the sophisticated decor, this luxury hotel is truly in a league of its own— which is probably why Marilyn Monroe lived there on and off for over a decade!

The property is full of large bougainvilleas and citrus trees. I couldn’t resist snapping a picture underneath one of them! Amongst the trees lie lush gardens full of colorful flowers, quaint fountains and beautiful bridges.

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The rooms are inspired by old Hollywood glamour and give off a trendy, yet sophisticated vibe. I was obsessed with the crisp patterns and neutral colors. We stayed in a Deluxe Guestroom (standard room) with a view of the garden. It was equipped with a large flat-screen TV that extends from the wall for easy viewing from bed and an iPad that basically controls everything you could possibly imagine. However, the real treat was the wood-burning fireplace, which we took full advantage of since it was a bit chilly during our stay. The best part? All you have to do is call the concierge, and a staff member will promptly arrive at your door to build you a fire.

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Forget slippers. The spacious bathroom features a heated limestone floor to keep your feet warm and toasty in the morning. My favorite amenity was the built-in TV above the bathtub— Yes, you heard me correctly! As if that wasn’t enough, the room also boasts a rainfall shower, large plush towels, marble countertops, double sinks, and some of the most incredible lotion and shower products I’ve ever received from a hotel (from Paris!).

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The Wolfgang Puck restaurant on property attracts guests and local alike. The menu features innovative dishes made of fresh ingredients, sure to satisfy any appetite. For lunch, I opted for the Thai Style Chicken Salad and was not disappointed! In fact, it’s one of the best salads I’ve ever had. The combination of bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, napa cabbage, and ginger lemongrass dressing made for a simplistic yet delicious flavor.

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A must-do during a stay at Hotel Bel-Air is a visit to The Bar & Lounge. This place fills up pretty quickly, so I’d suggest arriving early to grab a table with a view of the piano. Hung from the walls are large black and white portraits of American icons including Steve Jobs, Mick Jagger and Tina Turner. Guests take their seats amongst the luxe grayscale decor to indulge in the impressive cocktail menu while listening to talented live performers.

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One of the most breathtaking sights on property is the swan lake. The lights, bridges and of course the swans make for a romantic, fairy-tale setting. The staff informed us of the swans’ names, which are Athena, Hercules and their daughter Chloe (how cute!).

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After staying at the Hotel Bel-Air, it’s easy to see why it’s acclaimed as one of the best hotels in the country. I hope to return sometime during the warmer months so I can take advantage of the fabulous pool!

Have you stayed at the Hotel Bel-Air or another Dorchester Collection hotel? I’d love to hear about your experience! Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter or in the comments.

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Resort Review: Banyan Tree Mayakoba

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Let me just get straight to the point— Banyan Tree Mayakoba is a dream. I just got back from my second trip to this resort, and once again I’m in awe. So naturally, I feel the need to share my experience with you all in my first resort review (more to follow!). So let’s take it from the top…

Upon arrival, a staff member was waiting to greet us with these undeniably adorable handmade bracelets. We were then escorted to a lounge area where we were given the resort’s signature drink, chaya juice. I had been craving this since my last trip to Banyan Tree. The drink contains chaya (a Mayan green with numerous health benefits), spinach, celery, parsley, pineapple juice, orange juice and lemon juice.

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Next, it was off to our private villa where a complimentary bottle of wine was waiting to thank us for returning. I think it goes without being said, but the villa was incredible. Believe it or not, even the most basic room at Banyan Tree is equipped with a private pool and outdoor bathtub. It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Now on to the amenities. As if we weren’t already satisfied with our private pool. the resort features two others on property. The first is a massive, winding pool near the lobby with seating areas tucked away from one another so you don’t have to sit within two feet of a complete stranger. The second pool is infinity style and sits parallel to the beach, Playa del Carmen. Both are heated with a swim up bar stocked with the essentials for a refreshing island cocktail. The resort is also home to the third best spa in the WORLD. I didn’t have a chance to try it out, but I definitely plan to splurge on a massage during my next visit.

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After a full day at Playa del Carmen taking advantage of the complimentary paddle boards and kayaks, we were ready to head back to our villa. Golf carts continuously shuttle guests to and from the beach, but the real treat is taking a boat ride through the canal that surrounds the property back to the lobby (reference the first picture). An eco tour is also available for those who want an extended ride, which takes passengers around the entire Mayakoba property to see wildlife including crocodiles.

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Hungry yet? Good. The resort’s dining options are to die for. On our first night, we treated ourselves to Tamarind, one of the fine dining restaurants featuring a Mediterranean style menu. Needless to say, the food was exceptional. We started with a mouth-watering tuna sashimi appetizer topped an avocado edamame mixture. For the main course, I opted for a shrimp and lobster “ravioli” with plenty of perfectly ripe tomatoes and a cheese foam. To top it off, we shared an apple tart with fresh berries and mango sorbet.

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Rise and shine. The breakfast buffet at Oriente is waiting, and it’s a spread unlike any you’ve ever seen. Fresh fruit? Yep. Sushi? You got it. From quesadillas and burritos to scrambled eggs and bacon, everything is accounted for. Pancakes, french toast, pastries galore and of course an omelette station are all part of the smorgasbord. The selection even includes various mexican coffees and hot chocolates. And don’t worry about having your hands full. The waiters are ready to take your plates and walk you back to your table. Oh, and that chaya juice we had during check-in? It’s there, and you better believe I had a glass.

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Because we were clearly still full from breakfast, we skipped lunch. However, on our last visit we went to Sands, which is situated on the beach and serves up tasty dishes like fish tacos and ceviche.

For dinner on the second night, we returned to our favorite restaurant, Saffron. The restaurant boasts an authentic Thai menu created by chefs from Phuket, Thailand. Upon arrival, the hostess placed a pink orchid in hair, which I obviously loved. We chose to sit on the deck which overlooks the water for a spectacular view of the sunset with the lobby in the distance.

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View of Saffron from our boat ride.

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After snapping a picture, I ordered a customized vegetable panang curry and David opted for the pad thai. Both were complimented by our choice of white, brown, saffron or lemongrass rice.

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Say it isn’t so. It was our last morning, and we had a long day of travel ahead of us. It was a bit chilly, but we decided to sit outside in our robes and enjoy the exterior of our villa one last time. For breakfast, we split the room service American breakfast. The meal was more than enough to share and included fresh fruit, two eggs, sausage or bacon, assorted pastries, juice and coffee. Yeah.
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All good things must come to an end. It was time to head back to the states, but not before one last surprise. During check out, we were given a turtle carved from a coconut shell and told “turtles always return to their native beach, and we hope you return to us soon.”

That we will. Until next time, Mayakoba.
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