Review: LeBon Skin Lab | New York Spa

ADDRESS: 787 Lexington Avenue, 2nd FL New York, NY 10065
TEL: +1 646-964-4215
WEBSITEhttp://www.lebonskinlab.com
VISITED: August 2017

LeBon Skin Lab waiting area

LeBon Skin Lab waiting area

LeBon Skin Lab is a newly opened med spa on the Upper East Side. Conveniently located a block from Bloomingdales, LeBon Skin Lab is on the 2nd floor and I was warmly greeted by the receptionist for my first customized facial. In the waiting area, I filled out the new customer form with simple questions such as your skin type, daily skin routine and products you are currently using to give your esthetician a deeper understanding of your skin. After I completed the form, my esthetician Cleo greeted me and led me into my treatment room. 

Treatment room amenities  

Treatment room amenities  

LeBon Skin Lab's treatment rooms are spacious and very clean. They use exclusively PCA Skin products for all treatments and I am excited to try this line for my first time! It is very assuring to see a sterilizer box in the room for the tools and equipment - my utmost priority and concern with facials is hygiene and sanitation of the room, equipment and the esthetician's bedside manners.    

Step 1: Cleansing

Step 1: Cleansing

My customized facial started with a cleansing. Cleo uses a cleanser and light circular motions to remove dirt and cleanse my skin. The steam machine uses warm vapors to help soften my skin and open up pores. Cleo uses towelettes to gently wipe my face clean and an aromatic warm towel to finish this step. 

Microdermabrasion  

Microdermabrasion  

Once my face is thoroughly cleansed, Cleo analyzed and consults my current skin condition. Cleo determined that a microdermabrasion treatment is suitable today to remove a layer of dry skin and allow my skin to better absorb the treatment products and become baby soft.  Cleo is high technically skilled with the microdermabrasion machine and removes the uppermost layer of dead skin with a gentle suction techniques. 

Facial massage

Facial massage

Next, Cleo moves on to the facial massage. She uses circular motions and focused pressure to massage facial tissues and and help increase circulation. The facial massage was so relaxing that I fell asleep! 

Extraction

Extraction

After the massage, we moved on to removing blocked pores and extracting any pimples.  Cleo's extraction technique is thorough and done very well. However, I am most impressed with Cleo's high standard on hygiene - she wears latex finger gloves to keep the extraction process sanitized and uses a high frequency vibration machine post-extraction to minimize the probabilities of inflammation. 

Customized hydrating mud mask  

Customized hydrating mud mask  

Lastly, Cleo makes a customized mud mask for my skin type and current skin condition. This is an ultra-hydrating mud mask that will help re-hydrate and revive my dull skin.  

Hydrating Mask

Hydrating Mask

Cleo left the mask on for 15-20 mins to allow my skin to absorb and relax. Ahhh! The mask hardens and easily peels off. Cleo then finishes the facial with PCA moisturizer and SPF sunscreen. The entire facial lasted for about an hour and my skin feels softer, cleaner and revived! 

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After the facial, Cleo gave me some tips and advice on my daily routine to improve my skin at home. My customized facial with LeBon Skin Lab was so relaxing and the entire experience was very enjoyable. Not only is esthetician Cleo highly skilled and knowledgeable, but also the spa is conveniently located, very clean and cozy. 

With the seasonal and weather changes, book yourself an appointment at LeBon Skin Lab and give your skin a treat!

Say  "Bucket List Belles" to the receptionist to book your first Customized Facial for $50 (original value $120). 

 

Thank you LeBon Skin Lab for having me as a guest. My experience was sponsored by LeBon Skin Lab but as always, all opinions are my own.

Check out my favorite facial products:

 

JORD WOOD WATCHES GIVEAWAY!

With summer here, Bucket List Belles partnered with JORD Wood Watches to share with you an opportunity to get your own unique watch made of wood!  

Wood watches are really unique looking, light and trendy. I've been stopped many times on the street and at airports where my JORD watch in Cora: Koa and Rose gold is from. JORD is run by artists and designers who focus on creating modern timepieces. They use sustainable woods from all over the world, such as sandalwood, bamboo, zebra wood, maple, KOA just to name a few.

Not only are JORD watches so chic, they offer engraving as well. Share your love and personalized messages to engrave in block or script, or even your own handwriting! The watch also comes in a beautiful wooden box making a perfect gift.

I chose the Koa and Rose Gold from their Cora series. I love how light it is, how chic, and how many compliments I get whenever I wear the watch!

See my Koa & Rose Gold HERE.

 

JORD Wood Watches are offering one lucky Bucket List Belles reader the chance to win a $100 gift code that can be used to purchase any Jord watch. And as a thank you to all Bucket List Belles readers, JORD will also be sending EVERYONE a consolation code worth $25.00 at the end of the contest. Just in time for Memorial Day!

Isn't that great?! Click here to enter the competition

The contest will close 05/28/2017. The $100 and the $25 gift codes will expire on 07/31/2017. Good luck, enjoy your watch!

We partnered with Jord Wood Watches for this review but, as always, all opinions are my own.

Review The Resort at Mahogany Bay Village, Curio by Hilton| Ambergris Caye, Belize

ADDRESS: SAN PEDRO, BELIZE
WEBSITEHTTPS://www.mahoganybayvillage.com
VISITED: MARCH 2017

 

With 60 acres of luxury resort, private residences, exclusive beach and pool club in Ambergris Caye, Mahogany Bay Village is the largest and first luxury-branded resort in Belize. The Resort at Mahogany Bay Village, Curio – A Collection by Hilton offers 205 private cottage hotel rooms with 5-star service and amenities. As part of the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, The Resort at Mahogany Bay Village, Curio Collection by Hilton welcomes Hilton HHonors guest-loyalty program and offers exclusive member rates, HHonors Points and full access to Mahogany Bay Village’s upscale amenities: private beach, exclusive pool club, spa, bar and gym.  

The Private Cottage

Throughout our tropical Belizean vacation, we stayed in a private cottage nestled among coconut palms with our own front porch. Each private cottage is a Belizean-styled villa adorned with hardwoods and high ceilings. The private cottage had an old world Belizean charm with all the 5-star luxury perks!

The hardwood interior keeps the villa cool with warm wood scents permeating throughout the room. All hardwoods were sustainably harvested from Belize’s mainland forests. The large queen bed comes with perfectly ironed hotel quality sheets and plush pillows. There is air conditioning in every room and a ceiling-fan to keep you and your private villa cool all day long. I loved that I was on a tropical island surrounded by nature without having to compromise on modern-day luxuries. Each room comes equipped with a mini fridge and clean fresh towels daily.

Amenities

The bathroom and shower is separated by a vanity sink and mirror. One thing I absolutely loved about the cottage is the unique shower. With shower walls made of steel sheets and floors of smooth wooden planks, the shower gave a rustic and yet open nature feel. The shower floors are made with wooden planks with small gaps to allow the water to flow under but small enough that your toes won’t get caught! Another amazing surprise is the line of bath and beauty products Mahogany Bay Village provided: Malin + Goetz! Same beauty line as my recent stay at the Four Seasons Chicago. What luxurious bath amenities on a tropical island!   

There were beautiful fresh flowers in our room and throughout Mahogany Bay Village. I chatted up with Joyce who designs all of the Village’s flowers and centerpieces at the Polish Hair and Nails salon. Fresh flowers are very hard to come by on a tropical island and all the flowers must be flown to Ambergris Caye. Joyce designs and orders the flowers in advance to prepare for guests and special events at the Village.

Safety and Security

Mahogany Bay Village is nestled in a safeguarded community. Every room is secured with a digital card lock. I felt very safe at night and very comfortable leaving my valuable camera, video equipment and laptop in the room. Moreover, the town and island in general is very safe. We drove our golf carts into town for dinner one night (golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation in Ambergris Caye!) and felt very safe walking on the streets at night carrying around camera equipment. Locals were very friendly and most importantly everyone speaks English as the official language in Belize. No more frantic episodes of looking for wifi to Google translate!

Services

Mahogany Bay Village and The Resort by Curio, a Hilton Collection is run by highly trained staff. The local staff was very friendly and gave us a welcome tour of the property and our room when we first arrived and an overview of our surrounding local community. The staff goes above and beyond with their service and helped us receive our golf cart delivery and other visitors to book their local excursions during their stay. Our room was cleaned daily with fresh towels and toiletries supplied. The Village and amenities, pool and beach club were well kept and clean. Every meal at the Village was a farm-to-table dish! Our dining experience was superbly delicious with Chef Mara and Chef Julian incorporating locally sourced produce and fresh greens from the Village’s own aquaponics greenhouse: Ambergreens.

Community

A unique aspect that sets Mahogany Bay Village apart from other resorts is the sense community built together with travellers, visiting guests and locals.  You don’t feel like you are simply staying in a hotel room but a member of this Village community. I felt like I was going to my everyday local coffee spot, stopping by Rum+Bean for a coconut latte multiple times a day or my favorite corner food truck for a snack at Taco Shack. All within the safeguarded community, I had my scheduled weekly yoga, Friday happy hour by the sunset and a trip to the farmer’s market at Market Day. I quickly immersed into this local lifestyle.

You can find everything you need in Mahogany Bay Village. There is a chocolate store, coffee shop, furniture shop, farmer’s market, spa and yoga studio, snorkeling and scuba shop, and a nail and beauty salon. Further Mahogany Bay Village sits adjacent to many nearby restaurants, watersports, wildlife attractions and entertainment. There are over 200 local restaurants on Ambergris Caye from local street fare to fine dining. We had a diverse food adventure with a local Belizean dinner at Elvi's Kitchen and I highly recommend a meal here.

The Resort at Mahogany Bay Village, Curio – A Collection by Hilton offers private cottage hotel rooms with upscale service and amenities. Enjoy a Caribbean vacation at a Hilton property and earn points with Hilton HHonors. The rustic-chic resort destination is located in San Pedro, Belize on Ambergris Caye, about 15 miles from the mainland and 10 minutes from the San Pedro Airport. Book your stay at The Resort at Mahogany Bay Village for a dream vacation here!  Read about The Coastal Living Lifestyle Trip at Mahogany Bay Village.

Coastal Living Lifestyle Tour with Mahogany Bay Village | Ambergris Caye, Belize

ADDRESS: San Pedro, Belize
WEBSITEhttps://mbvlifestyle.com
VISITED: March 2017

 

We were looking for somewhere warm to find refuge during the East Coast winter months and came across the #1 rated island in the world by TripAdvisor - Ambergris Caye in Belize. With 60 acres of luxury resort, private residences, exclusive beach and pool club, Mahogany Bay Village is the largest luxury resort in Belize and we were sold! We decided to take the opportunity to learn and explore Ambergris Caye and signed up for Mahogany Bay Village’s Coastal Living Lifestyle Trip for 4 days and 3 nights.

Sunset by the MBV Pool

Sunset by the MBV Pool

We took an early flight from New York to Houston for a short layover then we were off to Belize City! When we arrived, we went through immigration then baggage claim and made our way to the local flight check-in desks. The entire process took 15 minutes. We pre-booked our local flight on Tropic Air website from Belize City to San Pedro for ~USD$150 per person round trip. It was a quick 15 minute flight on a ~20 seat propeller plane, a little bit shaky (it felt like my flight up for skydiving) but we got an amazing view of the island and landed safely. Alternatively, you can take a water taxi/ boat for a cheaper option and it would take approximately an hour and a half boat ride to reach San Pedro. Mahogany Bay Village arranged our taxi pick up from the airport to the luxury resort 10 minutes away. We made it to Mahogany Bay Village just in time for drinks by Shaken Bar with a view of the sun setting down the Bay and a chef-prepared 3-course dinner.

Golden Hour at Shaken Bar

Golden Hour at Shaken Bar

If you are interested in investing, I highly recommend the Coastal Living Trip package that costs USD$497 per person and includes local flights on Tropic Air, accommodations, food & beverage, transportation, and water activities for 4 days and 3 nights. Our 4-day itinerary is as below:

 

The 4 day Coastal Living Lifestyle Trip Itinerary

Thursday – Day 1

6pm Meet & greet at Mahogany Bay Village in the Great House with hors d’oeuvers and cocktails at outdoor pool bar, Shaken.

 

Friday – Day 2

7amOptional yoga class in The Great House

9am Breakfast of tropical fruit and freshly-prepared local cuisine in The Great House.

10am Development tour of Mahogany Bay Village.

12:30pm Hop on a boat and learn about the real estate market on Ambergris Caye.

2pm Take a trip to our private Beach Club to enjoy chef-prepared refreshments on a pristine strip of open beach.

7pm Trip recap at Rum+Bean & group dinner a local favorite restaurant.

 

Saturday – Day 3

8am Breakfast meeting with an international tax representative for questions.

10am World-class snorkeling at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, just minutes away from Mahogany Bay Village.

12pm Enjoy lunch and experience Market Day.

2pm Private consultations to answer your remaining questions or free time.

5pm Dressing cocktails at the Bay Club to watch the sunset.

7pm Private dinner at a Mahogany Bay Village Townhome.

 

Sunday – Day 4

8am Breakfast & coffee on The Great House porch.

 

We had a small group of 5 on our March trip. The itinerary was planned in a way that we had enough one-on-one time with investment experts and yet plenty of time on our own to discover the island. Throughout our trip, we all stayed in a cottage-like hotel room, Mahogany Bay Resort, Curio – A Collection by Hilton. It was a quaint and private cottage with all the 5-star luxury perks! Each cottage is adorned with natural wood, the warm wood scent permeating throughout the room. All hardwoods were sustainably harvested from Belize’s mainland forests. There is air conditioning in every room and a ceiling-fan to keep you and your private villa cool all day long. I loved that I was on a tropical island surrounded by nature without having to compromise on modern-day luxuries. Each room comes equipped with a mini fridge and clean fresh towels daily. Related: Review on Mahogany Bay Resort Rooms.

Image by MBV

Image by MBV

The bathroom and shower is separated by a vanity sink and mirror. One thing I absolutely loved about the cottage is the unique shower. With shower walls made of steel sheets and floors of smooth wooden planks, the shower gave me a rustic and yet open nature feel. The shower floors are made with wooden planks with gaps to allow the water to flow under but small enough that your toes won’t get caught! Another amazing surprise is the line of bath and beauty products Mahogany Bay Village provided: Malin + Goetz! Same beauty line as my recent stay at the Four Seasons Chicago! What luxurious bath amenities on a tropical island!   

Shower and Malin + Goetz Bath Products

Shower and Malin + Goetz Bath Products

I don’t know if it was the tranquility on the island or the fresh air, I woke up naturally early morning and started day 2 with a yoga class by instructors from The Science and Soul Wellness then a chef-prepared breakfast in The Great House. The sales team gave us an overview of the development and a tour around the Mahogany Bay Village property. We then went on a boat trip along the coast of Ambergis Caye to check out neighboring resorts and discussed comps with local beers in our hands. We got back to the Village for a break and got back on the boat for a quick 15-minute ride to Mahogany Bay Village’s private beach club for lunch. It does not get better than this! We had a delicious lunch of skewered chicken and tuna with salsa and chips and hung out at the private beach for a few hours. A short boat trip back to the Village and we had some time to get ready to go into town for a local dinner at Elvi’s Kitchen.

MBV Private Beach Club

MBV Private Beach Club

On Day 3, we started with a chef-prepared breakfast at The Great House with an international tax lawyer. We were able to ask any questions we had and further details on US and Belizean tax law. Extremely helpful. As a former British Colony, Belizean legal system is based on familiar British Common Law. Every Saturday is MBV Market Day at Mahogany Bay Village where local vendors bring their goods and show them off. I had sushi from JYOTO (restaurant opening soon) and tried out aerial yoga for the first time. We then headed off snorkeling at the world-renowned Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the world’s second largest barrier reef. And guess what? This world-class snorkeling spot is only a 7-minute boat-ride from Mahogany Bay Village! This short trip was a pleasant surprise and huge advantage especially for someone like me as I was nervous of getting seasick from a long boat ride. Other snorkelers and scuba divers travelled long distances just to reach this very same spot. 7-minutes! This was barely enough time for us to finish our beers! We jumped into the cool waters with our guide and looked at colorful fish and coral formations. After half an hour of snorkeling, we jumped back on the boat to a different spot 2-minutes away, Shark Ray Alley to swim with nurse sharks. Nurse sharks are very gentle sharks; they are bottom feeders with mouths as big as mine meaning nurse sharks are physically incapable if eating a human. STILL, I swam towards them and brushed up against one and freaked out. It was an awesome experience although I would need to work up my courage to do it again.

Shark Alley with my pizza swimsuit 

Shark Alley with my pizza swimsuit 

The Coastal Living Lifestyle Trip was an incredibly fun and relaxing vacation. I soaked up the warm weather, replenished my scary-low vitamin D levels, and learned about the growing vibrant community surrounding Mahogany Bay Village. The beautiful 60-acre property is the first luxury-branded resort in Belize with consistent Hilton-quality private hotel rooms and service, pool club, spa and private beach. I enjoyed a luxurious tropical vacation without compromising on 5-star amenities and service. Discover this Belizean gem for yourself and book your trip here!

Next Journey Dates: May 11-14, May 25-28, June 8-11 and June 22-25. Check Mahogany Bay Village’s website for the latest updates and news.

Dip in MBV Pool 

Dip in MBV Pool 

Shop Shirley's Belize look: 

 

 

Bruges Getaway: The Perfect Stay at Hotel Prinsenhof

Address: Ontvangersstraat 9, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
Tel: +32 50 34 26 90
Website: www.prinsenhof.com/en
Visited: January 2017

A 4-star family owned hotel, with a 5-star feel perfectly located in the town center… What more can I say about Hotel Prinsenhof? A lot! It’s a romantic hotel for a weekend getaway, stay with friends and family or even a solo trip to Belgium like I did. I had such a great experience at Hotel Prinsenhof and I can’t wait to share it with you all.

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Hotel

After taking a quick 5-10 min taxi ride from the Bruges train station for (7-8euro), I felt welcomed as soon as I arrived at Hotel Prinsenhof.

Tips: Book directly with the hotel on their website for the best rates!

Picturesque view of the streets from the windows. I couldn’t stop taking photos!

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Modern amenities meet traditional feel and hospitality. Super cosy and spacious with huge, comfortable beds.

On Hotel Prinsenhof’s website, a description reads: “Let yourself be carried away in the warm burrow of a bed made with silky-soft sheets, where you can enjoy a heavenly night’s sleep in an oasis of calm.” Yes, please. That sounds like a dream.

Coffee machine, tea, and hot chocolate in every room and a fully stocked minibar. How cute is the authentic traditional key holder?

I LOVED that there was both a rain shower and Jacuzzi. Look how big and clean this Jacuzzi is! I’m usually wary of tubs but it was extremely clean and the bubble/massage features worked well. It was an added bonus that I could fully stretch out in the tub (since I’m considered on the taller side). I also appreciated the heated warm towels on the heat rack, fluffy bathrobe, and slippers.

Location

Located conveniently in the heart of town, Hotel Prinsenhof is within walking distance of everything you need to do, see, and eat in Bruges. You can even book a Historic Bruges stay with Hotel Prinsenhof. There are lots of shops and restaurants closeby. Hotel Prinsenhof is just a 5 minute walk to the Market Square and 15 minutes to the Lake of Love.

Service

Family owned hotel, Mr. and Mrs. Lemahieu, effortlessly anticipates all your needs. It gives you a 5-star feel and service, if not more! The small dedicated team means that whenever you come back to the hotel, you’ll be treated by the same team, consistent service, and the most utmost respect and care. Little details like turn down service with chocolate and tomorrow’s weather forecast just made my stay exemplary.

Hotel Prinsenhof also provides huge umbrellas that sheltered me nicely from the rain.

Tip: If you have a special request, say a honeymoon, Hotel Prinsenhof is able to specially arrange the wishes for the guest. It’s amazing how much Hotel Prinsenhof cares about its guests!

Bonus tip: Hotel Prinsenhof provides a free English-speaking guided tour of Bruges on Monday to Friday which I really enjoyed. 

Amenities

Hotel Prinsenhof also has a private car park in the back, a Mac computer for guests to use, and a shoe polishing station. At Hotel Prinsehof, every detail has been carefully thought out. 

There’s also table full of information and postcards to send to loved ones.

Food

The breakfast buffet starts from 8:00-10:30am for 22 euro/person was absolutely worth it. I made my reservation for 8:30am and enjoyed a plethora of foods, including freshly made waffles and a glass of champagne. Hotel Prinsenhof takes #breakfastgoals to a whole different level. I mean, when in Belgium, one must eat waffles and treat yourself right?!

There’s a super cute Charlie Chaplin themed bar called “The Bowler” in Hotel Prinsenhof as well. Since I was only at Bruges for one night, I didn’t take advantage of the bar but definitely will next time I’m back.

It sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Make sure you book your stay at Hotel Prinsehof online now!

Post on: Why I chose Bruges for a getaway coming soon!

Thank you Hotel Prinsenhof for having me as a guest. My stay was sponsored by Hotel Prinsenhof but as always, all opinions are my own.

 

5 Must Do's in Nashville

Known as "Music City", Nashville has evolved beyond music but a top travel destination with a unique culture, very friendly people, rich history and a rising gastronomic scene. We booked a weekend trip to celebrate my best friend's birthday in her hometown and picked our top 5 must do's in Nashville. 

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1. The Parthenon

Nicknamed the "Athens of the South", Nashville's Centennial Park stands the full-scale replica of The Parthenon, a direct recreation of the ancient structure in Athens. This was such a treat for us as we were just in Athens, Greece to see the ancient ruins prior to our Nashville visit. This visit took us back in time and an opportunity for a glimpse of what the the ancient structure would have looked like in its complete state. 

Inside The Parthenon is a direct recreation of the 42-foot statue of Athena. The original statue of Athena was made of gold and ivory. Through history, her gold was stripped to pay for war, looted and destroyed through the eras. The existence of the statue of Athena was meticulously recorded through history but unfortunately no remaining pieces are found today. 

Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children and free for members to enter. The Parthenon is opened Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Mondays. 

The Parthenon in Centennial Park

The Parthenon in Centennial Park

2. The Loveless Cafe

The Loveless Cafe is a homey cafe and restaurant with a history of more than sixty years of serving true southern comfort food. We waited 20 minutes for a table and ordered a feast of southern favorites. I especially enjoyed the biscuits (comes with butter and two jams), fried chicken, sweet potatoes and half-sweet tea. Everything else came out of the kitchen hot but mediocre in taste. However, I do recommend coming here for a local dining experience and would absolutely choose Loveless Cafe (over the famed The Pancake Pantry).

Everything at The Pancake Pantry from food to service was subpar - we waited 45 minutes to be seated, ordered immediately and it took 30 minutes for 6 average pancakes to come out. After chatting with locals over the weekend, unfortunately it seems like The Pancake Pantry is a tourist trap. We didn't get to try Hattie B's Hot Chicken as the line was wrapped around the block and a tasting menu experience at Catbird Seat this trip. It is on our list for our next visit!

Loveless Cafe is opened 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

The Loveless Cafe

The Loveless Cafe

3. Belle Meade Plantation

We stopped by Belle Meade Plantation for a Southern plantation tour and an afternoon history lesson. The aristocratic Harding family lived on this plantation for many generations and made their fortune in elite horse breeding among other businesses. Every horse to race in the Kentucky Derby since 2003 can trace their bloodlines directly back to Belle Meade, including famous horses: Seabiscuit, Secretariat and Barbarro. 

Tickets are $20 per person which includes a 30-45 min plantation tour and wine tasting at Belle Meade Winery. We found a Groupon deal for $32 for plantation tour and wine tasting for 4 people. Although there were only the three of us, we still saved with this deal and gave the 4th ticket away to the person behind us in line. We highly recommend a visit to Belle Meade Plantation. 

Belle Meade Plantation 

Belle Meade Plantation 

Shop my Nashville look: 

After our 45-minute plantation tour, the group was led to Belle Meade Winery for a complimentary wine tasting. We tasted 5 or so different wines and especially liked the two pictured below: Gentlemen's Blend and The Muscadine.  The Winery can ship the bottles at $12, we decided not to pay the shipping fee and put the bottles in our luggage. Huge mistake!! We forgot Delta charges $20 to check in a bag (UGH DELTA!) AND constantly worried the two bottles will break during our flight and stain all my clothes. Lesson: not worth it. Pay up the $12 shipping fee if you buy wine.

We bought a very nice red: Gentlemen's Blend and a sweet, desert-like wine: The Muscadine. Belle Meade Winery also offers annual wine membership. 

We bought a very nice red: Gentlemen's Blend and a sweet, desert-like wine: The Muscadine. Belle Meade Winery also offers annual wine membership. 

4. Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

We were told that Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention is a hotel but also unlike any other hotels at the same time. What does that mean? We had no idea so naturally, we had to see it for ourselves.

Once we stepped in, I understood exactly what everyone was saying. Everything in Opryland is huge and an eclectic combination of well, everything. The holiday decorations are hung from ceiling to the floors, an indoor greenhouse of more than 10,000 plants engulf the entire space as well as a spa, 5 restaurants and 580 hotel rooms. It felt a little like a family-friendly Vegas in some ways. 

Insider Tip: Park your car for free at the Opryland Mall next door (5-minute walk to the resort) and avoid $24+tax parking at Opryland Resort. 

Holiday decorations at Opryland among the plants and restaurants.

Holiday decorations at Opryland among the plants and restaurants.

What's interesting is that the hotel room balconies view out to the public space. You can see hotel guests relaxing on their balconies, viewing the holiday decorations and lush vegetation and of course, people watching. We hope to stay at Opryland the next time we visit Nashville. Opryland Resort is operated by Marriott International and rooms can be booked here

Hotel guest rooms view out into the lush vegetation and public spaces. 

Hotel guest rooms view out into the lush vegetation and public spaces. 

5. Live Music on Broadway

What is Nashville without live music? We stopped by lower Broadway in downtown Nashville, walked around and stopped by Honky Tonk Central for live music and drinks. Honky Tonk Central has 3 levels and each level is different music and different bands. Pick your favorite level and music, find a spot and enjoy the night with a beer. 

Other music venues recommended by locals but we didn't have a chance to stop by is Station Inn and 3rd and Lindsley

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A weekend in Nashville was too short for us. We didn't get to go to Jellystone Park for light and music show drive-through (open Nov 4-Jan 1, 2017) or the iconic Country Music Hall of Fame and many other eateries on our list. We'll just have to come back to Nashville again! 

Put Nashville on your 2017 bucket list. Let us know your Nashville experiences and if you visit any of the places we did. 

JORD Wood Watches Giveaway!

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With Valentines Day coming up, Bucket List Belles is partnering with JORD Wood Watches to share with you an opportunity to get your own unique watch for yourself or your loved one(s).  

Wood watches are really unique looking, light and trendy. JORD is run by artists and designers who focus on creating modern timepieces. They use sustainable woods from all over the world, such as sandalwood, bamboo, zebra wood, maple, KOA just to name a few.

Not only are JORD watches so chic, they offer engraving as well. Share your love and appreciation for your loved one by personalizing your watch the way you like: choose a message to engrave in block or script, or even your own handwriting. The watch also comes in a beautiful wooden box making the perfect #valentinesgiftforhim and #valentinesgiftforher!

I choose the Zebra wood in navy from their Frankie 35 series. I love how light it is, how chic, and how many compliments I get whenever I wear the watch!

See my Zebrawood & Navy HERE.

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JORD Wood Watches are offering one lucky Bucket List Belles reader the chance to win a $100 gift code that can be used to purchase any Jord watch. And as a thank you to all Bucket List Belles readers, JORD will also be sending EVERYONE a consolation code worth $25.00 at the end of the contest. Just in time for Valentines Day!

Isn't that great?! Click here to enter the competition

The contest will close 02/12/2017. The $100 and the $25 gift codes will expire on 02/28/2017. Good luck, enjoy your watch, & Happy Valentines day loves!

We partnered with Jord Wood Watches for this review but, as always, all opinions are my own.

Rainstorm Wines

2013 Rainstorm Pinot Noir

2013 Rainstorm Pinot Noir

Crafted from grapes grown in Umpqua Valley and the Willamette Valley, Rainstorm's pinot noir reflects the diverse landscapes of Oregon. The diverse climates throughout Oregon—from dramatic seascapes to lush rainforests to high deserts— gives Rainstorm Wines their unique qualities. With its cool, mild climate, the Willamette Valley of northern Oregon produces an earthy, elegant style and complex flavors and subtlety. The hotter and drier climate in the southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley region produces brilliant, ripe, rich fruit flavors. 

This 50/50 blend of these two wine regions, creates a perfect harmony. The macerations are brief, usually about a week, when the grape skin comes in contact with the juice. Then after a rough filtration, the wine is put in contact with oak for at least 12 months. The resulting wine is fruit-forward, soft and elegant with aromas of rose and lavender and flavors of ripe cherry.  It is no surprise that Rainstorm Pinot Noir is award-winning: 

2012: Best in Class! Double Gold! - Great NW Wine Competition

2012 90 Points! Critics Gold! - Critics Challenge

2010 90 Points! Best Buy! - Wine & Spirits

Rainstorm Pinot Noire retails for $17.00. You can buy your award-winning wine here

Silver Linings: 2015 Oregon, Pinot Noir Rose

Silver Linings: 2015 Oregon, Pinot Noir Rose

My personal favorite is Rainstorm's Silver Linings: 2015 Oregon, Pinot Noir Rose. This bottle comes from grapes of Willamette Valley with its cool and mild climates. These grapes from northern Oregon produces Pinot Noir with an earthy, elegant style and complex yet subtle flavors. 65% of the grapes were direct press for this Rosé providing acidity and elegance. 35% came from the saignée Pinot Noir tank providing more fruity flavors with aromas of strawberry, rose petals and pomegranate seeds. It is completely dry with refreshing acidity. 

Rainstorm Silver Linings retails for $17.00. You can buy your Rose here

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Emperor Spa and Restaurant: Taipei Beitou Hot Springs Review

AddressNo.42-1, Ln 402, Xingyi Road, Beitou District, Taipei City
                  台北市北投區行義路402巷42-1號 
Tel: (+8862) 2862-3688; Contact Form for Inquires here
Websitewww.emperorspa.com.tw 
Hours: Hot Spring Baths 24 hours. Restaurant hours: 12noon-3:00am.
Visited: October 2016

 

Tucked away in the northern side of Taipei City is Beitou's natural hot spring or "onsen" Emperor Spa (Huang Chi Resort). An astonishing short 15-min ride away from the bustling Taipei City is this quiet resort popular to local hikers and families all year around. My family and I decided to spend an afternoon here to soak in all the healing minerals drawn from the nearby geothermal springs and indulge in a delicious dinner prepared by the Emperor Spa chefs.  

Entrance to Emperor Spa's Area 1

Entrance to Emperor Spa's Area 1

Emperor Spa is a local resort for a little over 30 years but the geothermal hot springs have been drawn on for more than a century with water temperatures reaching 98°C or 208°F. The hot spring pools are maintained at around 36°C to 40°C for patrons to enjoy (97°F to 104°F). Emperor Spa features an extraordinary natural green-sulphur spring (青磺泉) and is the only one of two in the world (the other is the famous Tamagawa hot springs in Japan). The natural green-sulfur spring is translucent yellow-white at pH levels of 1.2 with sulfuric aroma. Emperor Spa boasts healing effects and youthful skin from bathing in their hot springs so be sure to soak it all in.

Mountain view from the resort

Mountain view from the resort

Emperor Spa is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery, trees and trickling waterfalls. The resort has three bath areas (opened 24 hours) and two restaurants; however, there are no hotel rooms or beds for overnight stays. Area 1 and 3 are nude pools (men-only and women-only pools are separated). There are also private baths in Area 1 and 3.  Area 2 pool is family/ children-friendly and allows swimming attire.  

Serene environment behind spa directions

Serene environment behind spa directions

Both the public pools and private rooms are opened 24 hours. Public pool costs NT$250 per person*. Children below 110cm are half-priced (kids can stand against a wall to see if they are below or over the 110cm line). All pools and all men-only and women-only pools are washed and cleaned daily! Hygiene is a must. There are saunas and showers for all to use and enjoy.

*Emperor Spa is cash only. Make sure you leave the plastics and bring some bills. 

Outdoor Pool #2 where swimming attire can be worn. 

Outdoor Pool #2 where swimming attire can be worn. 

Outdoor Pool #2 surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery and smaller pools on the 2nd level above the staircase

Outdoor Pool #2 surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery and smaller pools on the 2nd level above the staircase

Entrance to Area 1

Entrance to Area 1

We were too shy that day for the nude so we opted for the private baths in Area 1. Important note: due to safety reasons, there must be 2 people in each private bath (I had some quality mother-daughter time...). Private room for 2 people is NT$500 total. You can enjoy 40 mins on weekdays and 30 mins on weekends for the same price. (There are no time restrictions in the public pools). Private baths are first come, first serve. 

Hallway to private rooms with Japanese-style decor

Hallway to private rooms with Japanese-style decor

The private rooms are cozy, decorated with stone and bamboo and semi-outdoors. This set up allows me to enjoy the privacy as well as the surrounding nature while I sit in the stone bath. Each room is equipped with a freshwater shower, shampoo, soap and a lounge chair. You can draw your own bath with natural spring water and ration how much hot water versus cold to your perfect "ooh-ahh" temperature. 

Semi-outdoor private bath

Semi-outdoor private bath

Another view of the private room

Another view of the private room

Useful Tips: 

  • Highly recommend rinsing off with soap and fresh water after the bath so you don't smell like natural sulfuric minerals (aka. eggs) 
  • Bring your own bath towel to dry off and a small towel for the bath. You can also buy towels from the resort at NT$100 for a small towel or NT$200 for bath towel
  • If you bring your own towels, remember to bring a plastic bag to keep wet, sulfuric-smelling towels contained in your bag
  • I also recommend bringing your own water to rehydrate. You can also buy bottled water at the front desk for NT$20. 
  • Bring your own body lotion. My current favorite is non-greasy Lubriderm
My own private onsen at my "ooh-ahh" temperature

My own private onsen at my "ooh-ahh" temperature

This local hot spring resort is not a luxury hotel spa but you can enjoy a very local and one-of-a-kind natural hot spring experience at an inexpensive price. Although facilities are not fancy, Emperor Spa is clean, staff is friendly and you have all the basic necessities you'd need: complimentary hairdryer at the communal vanity stations, hairbrushes and q-tips. 

Shampoo and body soap are provided and a shower with fresh water.

Shampoo and body soap are provided and a shower with fresh water.

Communal vanity stations and hairdryers

Communal vanity stations and hairdryers

Complimentary hairbrush and Q-tip for use

Complimentary hairbrush and Q-tip for use

Emperor Spa has 2 full-kitchen restaurants and snack stations throughout the property opened from 12 noon to 3:00am. The restaurant boasts an extensive and very impressive menu of local and international-flare dishes. See their picture menu here. If you don't know what to order, ask the staff to bring out their best dishes (always worked out well for me!) 

Snack stations leading to the restaurant

Snack stations leading to the restaurant

Bilingual menu 

Bilingual menu 

Important Note: 

For every NT$400 spent at the restaurants, Emperor Spa gives free one ticket to the public pools. I highly recommend enjoying a great meal at the restaurants and go for a complimentary dip in the natural hot spring pools after. 

We had a delicious dinner and a variety of local and international dishes: 

Seafood salad with Japanese-styled dressing

Seafood salad with Japanese-styled dressing

Cherry Duck 

Cherry Duck 

Herbal Chicken Soup 

Herbal Chicken Soup 

Deliciously crispy Green Onion Pancake

Deliciously crispy Green Onion Pancake

Steamed hand-made pork dumpling

Steamed hand-made pork dumpling

Szechuan-style Eggs and Chilis goes especially well with rice

Szechuan-style Eggs and Chilis goes especially well with rice

Seasonal Red Crab and seafood porridge. MUST ORDER! The seafood porridge is slowly cooked in claypot and filled with generous helpings of red crab, shrimp, and mushrooms. 

Seasonal Red Crab and seafood porridge. MUST ORDER! The seafood porridge is slowly cooked in claypot and filled with generous helpings of red crab, shrimp, and mushrooms. 

Seafood porridge is a must and the restaurant's specialty dish. Don't miss out on this one!

Outdoor foot bath for all to enjoy together and soak up

Outdoor foot bath for all to enjoy together and soak up

HOW TO GET THERE? 

1. Take the MRT Tamsui (red) Line to Shipai station. 

2. From Shipai station, either grab a quick 10-min taxi ride or bus # 508, 535, 536 or 612 (3-4 stops to Xinyi Road stop and a 5 min walk). 

3. If you are driving, Emperor Spa provides free parking in their private parking lot minutes away from the property. 

Emperor Spa also provides free shuttle buses every 5-10 mins from the parking lot to the spa entrance if you need a short ride. 

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Thank you, 謝謝 to Emperor Spa for having us as guests. Our experience was sponsored by Emperor Spa but as always, all opinions are my own.

 

Check out my picks for Spa essentials: 

Secret Garden Tea @ REGENT TAIPEI 秘密花園 台北晶華酒店

Address: The Regent Taipei, No.3, Ln 39, Section 2, Zhongshan N. Rd., Taipei 104
              台北市中山北路2段39巷3號晶華酒店
Tel: (+8862) 02 2523-8000 ext. 3809 Secret Garden
Websitehttps://www.regenttaipei.com/
Hours: 12:00pm - 6:00pm
Visited: October 2016

The Secret Marketplace at Regent Galleria offers gourmet on-the-go

The Secret Marketplace at Regent Galleria offers gourmet on-the-go

The Secret Garden at the luxury Regent Galleria is a boutique dining and lifestyle concept located on the lower level of the Regent Taipei. This relaxing dining space offers a range of mouthwatering selections on the menu. From rich, warm dishes like Sous Vide Beef Yakitori to Mini Wagyu Foie Gras Sliders, Regent Chefs also created a wide range of seasonal gourmet dishes to-go: quiches, salads, fresh pastries to name a few. Dishes start from NTD$160 (~USD$5).

Secret Garden Sweets (NTD 980) and Secret Herbal Tea (NTD 260)

Secret Garden Sweets (NTD 980) and Secret Herbal Tea (NTD 260)

We stopped by The Secret Garden around 2pm for some R&R and afternoon tea after some light (window) shopping. We decided to choose something sweet and went for the Secret Garden Sweets, a two-tiered arrangement of 10 different desserts resembling a garden. Everything in the sweet garden is edible, and I when I say everything, I mean everything! The sesame cookie "twigs", sponge-cake "grass" and chocolate "soil" among the delicate desserts are not only edible but deliciously made.

Regrettably, we didn't have the stomach to try the savory set, The Luncheon on the Grass (NTD 880). But we will come back again for it another time. 

Secret Herbal Tea with camomile, violet, lemon balm, mint and dry orange

Secret Herbal Tea with camomile, violet, lemon balm, mint and dry orange

The Secret Herbal Tea is a hot tea and paired very well with the Secret Garden desserts. The camomile and violet emanates a sweet aroma while the lemon balm and dried orange adds a zesty note. This was my favorite tea. The servers were very attentive and added more hot water when the tea pot was low.  

Fruity Bubbles - Apple Cinnamon (NTD 260) 

Fruity Bubbles - Apple Cinnamon (NTD 260) 

Apple Cinnamon Fruity Bubbles is a cold, sweet drink that tastes like autumn. There are four different Fruity Bubble flavors to choose from: Apple Cinnamon, Orange Mint, White Peach and Summer Special. If you like a sweet, fizzy drink, a Fruity Bubble selection is a great choice. 

Two-tiered, everything-edible Secret Garden Sweets

Two-tiered, everything-edible Secret Garden Sweets

In addition to the delectable menu and gourmet dishes to-go, The Secret Garden also offers floral arrangements designed by Regent's professional in-house florists. Regent Classics are also available for purchase: 4Mano Select Cold Brew Coffee, Cha Cha The and Jean-Paul Hevin classic Parisian Hot cocoa. 

The Secret Garden offers floral arrangements curated by in-house Regent floral team for purchase

The Secret Garden offers floral arrangements curated by in-house Regent floral team for purchase

Thank you, 謝謝 to The Secret Garden Regent Galleria for having us as guests. Afternoon tea was sponsored by Regent Taipei but as always, all opinions are my own.

Read about my luxurious spa experience with award-winning Wellspring Spa in Regent Taipei HERE