Asia Travel, Hotel Review, Lifestyle, Photography, Travel, Travel Blogger

The Stones Bali – a Unique Hotel Experience

I had the pleasure of visiting Bali earlier this month and checked off yet another item in my bucket list. I stayed at the 5-star The Stones Hotel – Legian Bali, a Marriott Autograph collection hotel located in Southern Bali, in the popular town of Kuta.

The hotel sported a pleasant mix of ultra-modern luxury with proud details of Balinese culture. Following a warm welcome of a smiling, warm and friendly staff who refreshed our long journey with aromatic cold towels and fruit Popsicles, I immediately rushed to my room to  check out the view outside of my balcony which was stunning.

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My room was luxurious and modern, the balcony couch and tub were my favorite along with the soft Balinese-patterned bathrobe. I truly felt like a VIP!

The most thoughtful and friendliest hotel staff had  delicious surprises awaiting for me, my two favorite items: coffee and chocolate.

Although I did not want to leave my lavish haven (my hotel room), I mustered the motivation to get ready for dinner and decided to check out the Balinese buffet dinner offered at the Big Fish Bar & Grill. I dined on traditional Balinese delicacies such as: Laklak, Bantal Pisang, Sumping Waluh, Cenil, Godor Embon (click on the pictures to read descriptions) and enjoyed an atmosphere of breezy tropical wind carrying soothing jazz sounds colored with dim lights.

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Being the big foodie that I am, the following morning, I partook in a once-in-a-lifetime experience: an in-room breakfast in tub.

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There was enough food for ten people, but I did my best and managed to make a dent on the delicious egg Benedictines, toast with cream cheese topped with smoked salmon and capers, fresh tropical fruit yogurt parfaits, freshly-baked croissants topped with shredded cheese, strawberries drizzled with chocolate syrup and garnished with whipped cream. Bon appetit!!

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After the delicious feast, I needed to go for a walk. Fortunately, Kuta Beach, Bali’s most famous beach on the South-Western side of the island, was located across the street from the hotel. Kuta Beach is positively a surfer’s paradise with its high waves, clear waters, and sunshine surplus.I had only seen that many surfers last time I visited Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, and Pacific Beach in San Diego.

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When I returned to the Stones, yet another surprise was awaiting for me. Traditional Balinese soft drink, Beras Kencur, made from extract, rice, ginger extract, and acid extract, dried banana chips and traditional Indonesian wear, sarongs.

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The following afternoon, I decided to try the 1.5 hour signature spa experience which included foot scrub and massage in a floral bath, a full body massage with aromatic oils and relaxing tea at closing time. The Spa at the Stones had an impressive product line which introduced aromas from local organic flowers and plants. My masseuse was amazing, and she really helped me relax.

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After my incredible spa experience, I felt rejuvenated, peaceful and relaxed. The perfect balance of body, mind and soul.

When I returned to my room, I found yet another surprise. An in-room cocktail-making experience, where I mixed ingredients to make a signature Stones Caipirinha  drink. Cheers!!

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One of the things that I loved most about the Stones, was the harmonius mix of Balinese culture with modern pop art and art deco. On a daily basis, the hotel lobby was filled with soothing sounds of Balinese traditional music from the bamboo flutes, and drums in various sizes (as pictured below).

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One of my other favorite spots at the Stones was the pool area, and especially the swim-up bar with its delicious happy hour special cocktails of fresh local fruit like dragon fruit and mango mixed with savory tropical rums.

My overall experience at the Stones in Bali was excellent. I will remember all of the good times that I had there, but what will forever be impressed in my memory is the warm smiles of the friendliest hotel staff that I have ever encountered. Go to Bali, visit The Stones Hotel – Legian Bali, you will not regret it!

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Matur suksma Bali!!!

Sincerely,

Adele

 

 

 

Lifestyle, Photography, Travel, Travel Blogger

Hotel Feature: The W – Chicago

I stayed at the W Chicago on Lakeshore Drive over the Labor day weekend and had an amazing time. The trip was booked through Expedia at $212/night a bit higher than the current going rate of $190/night due to the holiday weekend. The main reason I decided to book this particular hotel was due to its vicinity to downtown Chicago.  W Chicago – Lakeshore is located within walking distance from the Navy Pier, Lake Michigan and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

Let me tell you something, typically hotel pictures are photo-shopped and carefully positioned in angles that make hotels look magical. However, in this case there is little difference between the artistic photo posted by the hotel and the one below posted by me. SONY DSC

The retro yet modern style mixed with abstract patterns and striking pops of vibrant electric hues of reds, yellows and blues created a hip, relaxing and upscale ambiance.

During my two-day stay at W, I came across numerous surprisingly pleasant details such as the pillow below capturing the Chicago skyline.

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Somehow what I was wearing that day, matched perfectly with the room decor.

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Given that I jet-set on a ‘budget’, I did not want to pay extra for my room to have a view. I lucked out because the view on my particular floor was breathtaking. I took the following video for my #InstaStory as I was waiting for the elevator (follow me on Instagram @joablife).

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My favorite part of the hotel was the main lobby with the abstract still life portraits and a message that resonated with me “It’s OK to feel human”.

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After using the hotel pool and spa, I came across, yet another, pleasant surprise, the balcony lounge. Located on the same floor as the hotel spa, the balcony lounge displays magnificent penthouse views of lake Michigan, furnished with comfy plush couches decorated in white and hues of neon lime colors and casual appearances of oriental style flower fixtures.

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Needless to say, this place made me happy, I did not want to leave…

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Lifestyle, Photography, Travel, Travel Blogger

Chicago – My Kind of Town

In a city with a population of almost 3 million, Chicago succeeded in making me feel special during my Labor Day quick getaway to the Windy City. This was my forth time visiting Chicago, but it was the first time that I got a chance to walk over ten miles and really explore the city in its full glory, not to mention that I also saved a considerable amount of money in parking.

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After the Chicago Great Fire of 1871, the city underwent a massive rebuild and it is dubbed by many as a ‘global architectural capital’ with its mind-blowing buildings some of which are reminiscent of Batman’s Gotham City.

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As I approached Chicago’s famous, Millennium Park I could hear the wind carrying vivacious jazz sounds. I was in luck, the 39th Annual Jazz festival was underway in the park which was named as a tribute to the third millennium ending in the year 3000 according to the Gregorian Calendar. It felt great having VIP seating at no cost! Free events are one of the many perks of living in cosmopolitan cities

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Cloud Gate a.k.a. the Bean is a steel sculpture which looks like liquid mercury, famous for reflecting distorted views of people with a backdrop of the Chicago skyline. It is located at AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park.

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In the midst of the tourist crowd, I managed to get a picture of the omphalos chamber that warps and multiplies reflections.

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I decided to take a break and sit on a bench on the shore of Lake Michigan admiring the jet skis and sailboats, Chicago’s famous 30-mile lakefront visited daily by cyclists, joggers and walkers.  During the short summer months, sunbathers and beach sports players add additional vivaciousness to the serene surroundings.

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Having worked up quite an appetite, I decided to stop at Eataly, chef Mario Batali’s Chicagoan-Italian experience. This place has it all! Lavazza espressos, Nutella (my weakness!) crepes, and has successfully established itself for years as a Carb Heaven with its homemade pizza and pasta and a vast vino selection.

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Eataly location on Ohio St. in Chicago

As I was waiting for a table, I spent a good amount of time admiring the vast olive product line offerings and oil production, such obsession can be explained by my paternal grandmother Italian heritage. Yep, I love my EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)!

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More to come on Chicago…

Travel

Daily Prompt: Penchant

pen·chant (ˈpen(t)SH(ə)nt/noun –  a strong or habitual liking for something or tendency to do something.

As you can probably tell from my About Me page, I am a polyglot. I have a natural penchant for learning foreign languages.  I was born and raised in South-Eastern Europe, in a small country called Albania, and was exposed to diverse languages and cultures at a young age. There have been numerous studies that emphasize the positive effect of bilingualism in cognitive functions of the brain.

However, in all honesty, my natural penchant for foreign languages can be attributed to a simple explanation, my desire to connect with people. I distinctly remember one example when I put my language super-powers to good use. In 2009,  I visited Greece. The picture below was taken at Lake Prespa shared by three Balkan countries: Albania, Greece and Macedonia.

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I overheard a group of tourists, six men and women frantically gazing at a map to gain some sense of geographical direction, speaking a language that sounded like either Italian or Spanish. As I approached them closer, I realized that they were, indeed, speaking Italian. As soon as I uttered “good morning” in Italian, their faces shined with a sight of relief. Then, something magical happened. We instantly connected! From complete strangers, we had become acquaintances, and perhaps, one day, even friends. At that point, the translation process was the following: Greek (Greek native speaking to my husband) to English (my husband translating from Greek to English) to Italian ( I was translating from English to Italian). This simple anecdote reinforces the idea that language is truly a powerful tool that creates seamless human connections.

via Daily Prompt: Penchant

Travel

First blog post

Hi all,

I am Adele.  My day job is in IT, but my true passion is traveling and discovering new places while connecting with individuals of various backgrounds. I am a polyglot, a history buff and an amateur chef. If I could describe myself in one sentence, I would have to say that I am a perpetual student of life. It is easy to get hooked on travel if you have a thirst for knowledge and a curious appetite for adventure. Having thrived in my professional career has enabled me to be able to travel around the world, however, always within budget limits. That is why I decided to share my JoaB secrets with you! 🙂