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Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Journey to France

May was a very busy but special month. After celebrating my last childless birthday on the 5th, I jetted across the pond to France for a week to get immersed in the world of Yves Rocher, a brand I have fallen quite fond of over the last year or so. I have been a long time fan of French skincare because seriously they seem to know a thing or two about good quality but I guess you can say my level of interest in this particular brand was extra high the moment I realized the amazing botanical science behind their products.

Sasha Exeter - Rimowa
Paris bound to Yves Rocher Headquarters. Luggage c/o Rimowa Toronto

The key Yves Rocher skincare necessities waiting for me at Hotel Adele & Jules to help my dehydrated skin bounce back after the long flight

My journey with Yves Rocher began quite differently than a lot of other brand experiences I have had to date and I mean that in the most refreshing way. Sure, our initial meeting last summer consisted of some brand education and why I would be a good fit as a partner, however there was absolutely no hard sell. I was simply encouraged to take my time getting to know their products, specifically their best sellers, over the course of a few months and that “We would go from there…”  Well to me, this meant one thing – Yves Rocher was so confident in their brand, that they knew I would be on board once they gave me the chance to get properly acquainted with their products. And they were 100% right! Offering extensive product lines across all skincare and beauty categories, I took my time initialling honing in on facial and body care and the results have been amazing because I am experiencing my best skin yet. But this you may have already known if you read my post on my Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Routine in April.

A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT YVES ROCHER

So there are several things that makes Yves Rocher very different than its competitors, which has made them immensely successful in France and throughout Europe since their launch 50 years ago. A pioneer in natural skincare and beauty, Mr. Yves Rocher founded the company with the belief that nature will be their guide in producing its products, which are made from plants and approximately 250 natural ingredients locally harvested. To this day, it has been the key to their success.

To have discovered the properties of plants is not our greatest achievement but to have made them available to all women is our greatest pride. As the only brand in the beauty industry to have chosen to control all the aspects of our activity, we are able to reduce our impact on the environment at every stage in the life cycle of our products”   – Yves Rocher

If you can imagine back in 1967, the idea of a man launching a skincare and beauty brand without the use of any chemicals, targeted to women and marketed using his name, sounded ludicrous and nobody believed it would work. However, Rocher did not let this stop him. In fact, it motivated him and pushed him and pushed him to get the wheels in motion.

The only way to ensure Yves Rocher’s vision was executed properly meant that from the very beginning he insisted on controlling every step of the production cycle to guarantee safety and quality, providing his clients with products free of chemicals, colorants, and parabens.

EXPERIENCING THE BRAND LIVE IN PARIS

My press trip to France began with a tour of the Yves Rocher Headquarters in Paris to see how the products are made in their state-of-the-art laboratories and to get a deep dive in the company’s rich and rooted history.

Yves Rocher France

Housed in one of the most modern buildings I saw in a city so full of rich and old architecture, there were several labs dispersed on one large floor responsible for each of the brand’s categories; skincare, cosmetics, body care, hair care, bath & shower and fragrances. It was refreshing to see it is run predominantly by young women. Somewhere within the building’s labyrinth was a small room dedicated the the brand’s olfactory family and fragrances. Bottles upon bottles of fragrance notes meticulously displayed in beautiful glass bottles and sleek refrigerators that housed samples of each scent the brand has made categorized per year. While learning about Yves Rocher’s past and present was vital, I was very intrigued to learn more about the direction of the where the brand is heading. As the originator of botanical beauty, how do they stay ahead of the curve in an industry where so many brands are vying for a piece of the “natural and organic beauty” pie, so to speak?

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher
Yves Rocher France Headquarters Olfactory (Fragrances) Room
Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher
Christine Dalfault-Sara, Yves Rocher Communications Director (Directrice Communication)

I chatted extensively with Christine Delfaut, the brand’s Communications Director, to learn more about the brand’s exciting upcoming product releases for the rest of 2017/2018. While most of the innovations that were shared are still under embargo so I can’t share (sorry guys!) however Christine did allow me to take home their newly formulated, long lasting, ultra matte red lipstick to test out which won’t be coming out until much later in 2017. Having had issues finding the perfect “red” for years, I can say my hunt is now officially over. Without any of the harsh chemicals that usually dry out my lips, this deep red at first goes on with a slight satin finish but after a few seconds it becomes definitively matte and lasts all day.

Yves Rocher France

They have also just launched a range of concentrated shower gels that lasts for 40 showers (shown above front and center) in Mango & Coriander, Olive Petitgrain, and Bourbon Vanilla which is my personal fave. With 4x’s the amount of product, 50% less plastic and greenhouse gases than in their 400ml bottles these heavenly smelling shower gels cost only $8 – not to mention, no parabens or preservatives and with 97% of the ingredients having a natural origin. With every bottle purchased, the Yves Rocher Foundation plants one tree in the community. Just in time for summer, a newly formulated Solaire Peau Parfaite sunscreen without harmful chemicals, The Chic & Bohemian Collection with a cornflower based body wash, eau de toilette and perfumed hair mist that smells heavenly and more.

LOW COST, HIGH QUALITY: HOW DO THEY DO IT?

English (CAN) quality products usually come with a hefty price tag. Sure, at a certain price point you can expect to see brands use aesthetically beautiful packaging, usually employing the help of actresses and celebrity spokespeople to sell their products which can be found perfectly curated in department store kiosks and shop-in-shops. All these bells and whistles that go into the marketing of competitors products come with a high cost, which is ultimately absorbed by the end consumer – YOU!

Yves Rocher’s competitively priced product ranges are only possible because their products aren’t sold in luxury and contemporary department stores but rather in their own stand-alone retail shops and of course online, allowing them to offer prices significantly lower than other brands. However this could be the reason why the brand awareness isn’t as high in North America as it is in Europe. I am fascinated by this idea, so a visit to Yves Rocher’s concept store on Boulevard Haussmann was a no brainer.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

CONCEPT STORE VISIT

Nestled in what appeared to be a bustling and busy district, is a three-storey temple of beauty, where you can receive skin diagnosis at the ground level Botanical Beauty Bar, shop the brand’s extensive beauty line and range of honey, jams and sweet treats, indulge in cold pressed juices developed exclusively for Yves Rocher in their in-house juice bar, or receive personalized face and body treatments in one of the seven private cabins within the Beauty Spa.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

One of the private cabin’s inside the Yves Rocher concept store’s Beauty Spa

Being inside the Boul Haussmann location made me immediately calm and gave me a sense that I was amongst nature thanks to the green and ecological decor botanical concept walls created by Botanist and inventor Patrick Blanc. I promise you, the photos don’t do it any justice, its beauty is much more spectacular in person. I took my time going through the multi-floor flagship, with extra time spent checking out the products not yet available in Canada and cruising the beautifully merchandised fragrance section on the second floor where I was taken on an olfactory journey through the important notes that make up the company’s best selling fragrances – mine currently being the sensual and refined freshness of their  Neroli Eau de Parfum.  

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

Yves Rocher Olfactory Wall of Fame. The brand works with some of the best in today’s fragrance industry to help create their signature scents

VISIT TO LA GACILLY

But my trip wouldn’t be complete without taking a trip to La Gacilly, in France’s Bretagne (pronounced Brittany for us Anglo folks) region which is happens to be the birth place of both Mr. Yves Rocher and his namesake heritage brand. A beautiful and quaint village just a three hour train ride from the Paris city centre made up of cobblestone streets, small stone houses, local boutiques and La Grée des Landes, the Yves Rocher Eco-Hotel Spa and Hotel that you may remember seeing on my Instagram and IG stories.

Centrally located in the town, is the childhood home of Rocher, fondly referred to as No. 2 Rue St.-Vincent, where in his early twenties, he turned the home’s attic into a make-shift manufacturing facility for their very first plant based product. A visionary of sorts and a man with thinking far beyond his years, Yves Rocher was the first to introduce the “mail-to-order” concept as a way to sell his products to customers all over France.

Monsieur Yves Rocher’s childhood home where the brand first launched

Below are some shots we captured from inside Rocher’s first home where he used the attic to produce his first product and also acted as the office where he fulfilled his mail-orders from customers…

As he watched the company grow exponentially, he began to conjure up the idea for La Grée des Landes, a truly Eco-friendly establishment built without causing any harm to the environment that feeds guests using only locally sourced products and ingredients from their land. Essentially creating a gastronomy experience of multi-course meals prepared by Gilles Le Gallès, Chef at the hotel’s restaurant, that would legit blow your mind. There was no doubting the freshness and quality of our meals. As we enjoyed breakfast in the mornings, we often saw the kitchen staff in the garden pulling out herbs and vegetables that were going to be used in the preparation of our lunch and dinner later that day. Not once did we look at a menu. Chef prearranged each meal based on what is in season and would make a good compliment to the ingredients grown on the grounds of the property.

Chef Gilles Le Gallès at La Grée des Landes

While many hotel properties believe integrating the word “spa” into their property name means they understand the concept of wellness, most really don’t have the faintest clue as to what that actually entails. Whereas this little slice of heaven, which made sure to include all four elements of nature to ensure a harmonious balance on their grounds, anticipates guests needs before they can even think of it and offers activities and services to help you find your optimal mental and physical wellness with yoga/meditation classes, hiking, underwater workouts (AQUATraining & AQUACycling) plus restorative and relaxation services offered in the hotel’s spa.

I have always used a variety of products from different brands on my skin and to be honest, I will probably continue doing so but Yves Rocher products currently make up the majority of my skincare regimen right now. Taking care of my skin has become a huge priority in my thirties and I’ve seen some dramatic improvements since I have started using Yves Rocher products. I fell in love with the new “Pure Calmille” line while in France and was lucky enough to bring it back home with me prior to its launch in Canada (available here in September 2017!).  After pre-cleaning with wipes, I have been using the Pure Calmille Cleansing Gel mixed with the Scrub to Mix Gommage exfoliant, the Pure Calmille 2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner and the Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream. For body care, I have become OBSESSED with the Monoï de Tahiti products that literally smell like tropical paradise in a bottle – using the Lagoon Body Wash, Dry Body Oil and finishing off with the Eau des Vahinés Eau de Toilette.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher Canada

Overall my trip to France has a success! I got a chance to really get to know the brand and even got to indulge in spa treatments using Yves Rocher professional products. The best part is that all the products I was introduced to are safe during pregnancy. With affordable price points and products for all different ages and skin types, Yves Rocher has successfully made their brand accessible to everyone.

To shop or learn more, visit YvesRocher.com

Casual Chic in Breton Stripes

Breton stripes somehow always reminded me of French fashion, so when I found this chic little Hatch Collection dress, I immediately snatched it up for my recent trip to France. To be honest, I hadn’t realized exactly why I associated stripes with the capital of fashion but during my visit I learned that the Breton stripe originated in Bretagne (pronounced Brittany in English), a region in the North West coast of France. I just so happened to spend a couple days in one of it’s small towns, La Gacilly, with Yves Rocher. The original knitted Breton shirt with blue and white stripes was made for the French army and the stripe pattern is so closely linked to Bretagne, that their flag even contains the Breton stripe pattern.

Sasha Exeter - Hatch Collection

Photos shot by JessBaumung.com

WEARING: Jacket (similar here) |  Dress |  Boots (similar here) |  Sunnies |  Bag | Hat (vintage)

While non-maternity fashion has dominated majority of my looks during my pregnancy, I have stumbled across some brands with pieces so great, that I couldn’t resist getting – and truthfully, if I didn’t tell you they were maternity, you would have no clue at all. If you’re expecting you NEED to check out Hatch Collection for their cult fave dresses, jumpsuits, tops, denim and swimwear. I picked up this Hatch 3/4 Dress from Ani & Wren here in Toronto.

SHOP MY LOOK


 

Chic + Easy Travel Style | Paris Edition

Packing for my trip to Paris this time around was not an easy feat being six months pregnant. I had no doubt in my mind that I would have to leave ample room in my suitcase to bring things back home with me. This meant three things; pack smart, pack light and choose pieces that could easily mix and match to create multiple outfits. If you have seen at any point in the last few months, chances are I’ve been wearing this black jumpsuit because it’s so damn comfortable and miraculously has worked through all stages of my pregnancy so far. Réjean on the other hand, is not so fond of this romper (probably because of the drop crotch and close resemblance to a child’s playsuit) and I wouldn’t be surprised if wearing it one more time would totally push him over the edge from my repeated overuse. But you know what, as ‘Man Repelling’ as jumpsuits may be for some men, I put a high value on being comfortably stylish.

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

But seeing as though I’m in  Paris and Réjean safely 6000+ miles away home in Toronto, I’ve worn this Zara piece happily as three completely different outfits; on it’s own sans jacket for lunch and sight seeing, with an oversized distressed denim jacket and paired with a white sequin bomber and hat. Each working well with either a simple black heel or Adidas Stan Smith – which seems to be the official sneaker of Paris. Truthfully, I would have worn these three looks exactly the same whether I was pregnant or not, meaning expecting or not, these outfits for work for anyone. And the best part, I didn’t pay a dime over $20 for it.

Sasha Exeter Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style
Shot on location in Paris by JesBaumung.com

What I’m Wearing: Black Drop Crotch Jumpsuit from Zara (no longer in stock) // Oversized Denim Jacket from Zara // White Sequin Bomber Jacket c/o H&M (old) // Black Pumps c/o Express // Adidas Stan Smith c/o Adidas Canada // GG Marmont Mini Chain Bag from Gucci // Hat (vintage)

My Zara jumpsuit may no longer be available (sorry!) so here’s a few other jumpsuit options that I’m also loving:

Travel Tips for Wanderlusters

If you’ve spent any time exploring foreign destinations, you know that traveling is the only thing that you can buy that makes you richer. But as exciting and adventurous travel can be, it can be unpredictable at times. The interesting thing about traveling, no matter how frequently you do it, there are always elements you can’t control; flight delays and overbooked flights, shitty weather, exchange rate spikes, lost (expensive) luggage, foreign viruses, hotels misplacing your reservation – the list can just go on and on. But for those who have wanderlust in their veins, the potential risks are all worth it. There are a few things we can control though! I am prepping for my next adventure to Paris and thought I would share some of my most useful travel hacks with helpful tips from some of my favourite savvy travellers.

How to Avoid Jet Lag At Any Cost 101

  • Adjust your sleep before your departure. It’s natural to find it difficult to get on a different time zone when we travel, but shifting our bedtime a couple days in advance so it’s in line with your destination’s time zone works wonders – trust me. If falling asleep is a occasionally challenge even without throwing travel and time changes into the mix, then ZzzQuil may be your answer. Although ZzzQuil is created by the makers of Vicks NyQuil, it’s not for colds. It’s not for pain. It simply just for sleep. It contains diphenhydramine, a small compound used to relive occasional sleeplessness. When you can donate a full night to sleep and use as directed, it reduces the time it takes for you to fall asleep. It helps me get the rest I need while traveling so I can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day in a new city. Savvy Traveler Tip: Pack ZzzQuil in your carry-on with your other emergency travel kit items as a precautionary measure, in the event your luggage gets lost or misplaced.

  • Avoid or limit alcohol in flight. As tempting as cocktails at take off may seem, especially when settling in for a long trip, altitude changes and dry cabin air dehydrates passengers and can increase the effects of alcohol. So friends, rule of thumb is; one drink in the air is equivalent to two or three on the ground. So as relaxing as a few glasses of vino may seem at 35,000 ft, the chance of worsening jet lag symptoms when you arrive is not worth it.
  • Opt for overnight flights. Red eye flights usually get a bad rap but, they can actually be a savvy travellers best kept secret to avoiding jet lag when crossing multiple time zones. You’ll have dinner at a normal time and be much more likely to get some sleep than on an afternoon flight, allowing you to stick to your normal schedule as much as possible.

     Book Like Like A Boss

  • Fly on a Boeing 767. Just because you may not be able to travel in first class, doesn’t mean you can’t still be comfortable in economy. If you happen to be choosing between similar priced flights and one happens to be on a Boeing 767, do yourself a favour and choose that one. Why? This particular aircraft has less of what I refer to as “Miserable Middle” seats than other planes. If a Boeing 767 isn’t an option, you can always check out SeatGuru.com, a site created by TripAdvisor. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. You can get a layout of the plane and determine which seat will be best for you. It’s so damn detailed, it even has information on seats susceptible to heat/cold, seats with lots of bathroom traffic – the worst, and info on equipment boxes under seats.
  • Choose the window and aisle seats when traveling in a pair. Whenever I’m traveling with someone else, I always select the window and aisle seats for us. Sounds a bit weird I know, but when people go online to choose their seat, they are less likely to choose an empty middle seat if there are empty aisle and window options. Meaning, theres a good chance you’ll get the entire row to you and your friend – amazing! Worst case scenario, it it’s a full flight and someone ends up nabbing the seat between you two, you can just ask to swap with them.
  • Go stealth with your browsing mode. When you first start your flight search, try using “private/incognito” browsing mode so airlines cannot track your website visits, a common and well calculated play often used by TV Host and Lifestyle Blogger, Melissa Offner of Melsays.comwho has spent the better part of her life exploring and surfing the world and over the last year has traveled coast to coast across the United States and Canada in a van with her hubby:
Melissa Offner of Melsays.com in on the road in California

“I like to open a private window when booking flights so airlines can’t raise the fares on me if I visit their site multiple times. I also use a variety of aggregator websites to shop prices and always look out for special deals before making my final purchase.”

  • Booking round-trip flights is so 2016. Booking round-trip travel seems more cost effective and is definitely easier but sometimes flying with two different carriers and booking two one-way tickets can be a lot cheaper than booking that desirable round-trip. And if significant cost savings isn’t enough for you to put in the extra work, it may also get you better departure and arrival times because you mixed and matched flights.
  • Fake where you are when you book. Your P.O.S. or “Point-of-Sale” is where your ticket is purchased and can 100% affect pricing due to what is known as regional prices. So this means, the price of a plane ticket can be much lower in a country with a lower standard of living or also when travel companies are attempting to break into a new market destination.  For example, you will find different fares on Expedia.ca than you will on Expedia.co.jp, the Japanese version, or on an international carrier’s website by changing to the airline’s home country. But please, proceed with caution and remember you will be seeing prices in local currency – not yours, so make sure you convert before booking.
  • Avoid US airlines, if possible. For those of you who have traveled extensively internationally, you have learned that foreign carriers almost always have better amenities than U.S. ones, and yes, even if you’re traveling in “Cattle Class” – providing hotel towels, blankets, pillows and even food without having to pull out your credit card.

Travel Hacks While in Transit

  • Get into the airport lounge, even if you’re flying economy. Killing hours of time before your flight boards or during long lay-overs or cancelled flights is the worst. Actually, scratch that, passing this time by and spending an exorbitant amount of money on airport food is the worst. Having premium airport lounge access is a definite game changer, will redefine the way you travel moving forward and guess what? You don’t need to have a certain frequent flier status to obtain access. Airport lounges often sell day passes, allowing you to pay access to them. They can be a bit pricey though but you can sometimes find steep discounts if you purchase them online in advance. Also, check your credit card to see whether or not being a cardholder can obtain you lounge access.
  • Stay warm and cozy AF. The chilly cabin air during a flight can be such a nuisance, especially if you’re underdressed. Gone are the days where every single airline provide you with blankets, unless you’re in business class of course, so it’s always best to travel with layers you can pile on or your own blanket to keep you warm like Canada’s most well traveled and infamous stylish twins Cailli and Sam Beckerman of BeckermanBlog.com
Cailli and Sam Beckerman
Cailli and Sam Beckerman from Beckerman Blog in NYC

…Both of us always travel with a fleece blanket, eye mask and neck pillow. We sleep with our neck pillows on backwards so that the snap is in the back. That way, when you drift off to sleep, the neck pillow catches your head when it falls. Like a donut! LOL”

  • Special meal requests. I know it’s rare to get served a meal on a plane these days but it still happens from time to time depending on the carrier and your destination (but is usually reserved for long haul flights only). This one requires some advance planning and maybe forgoing the meal everyone else is getting but you request a special meal, such as vegetarian or kosher, you will actually get served before the rest of the passengers. Meaning, you can go to sleep sooner without having to wait for the entire dinner service. More importantly, those special meals usually taste way better!
  • Not a lover of food fare in the air? That’s ok, neither am I. If you have a picky palette, eat super clean or have dietary restrictions then it’ s always best to not depend on food choices picked for you by someone else – aka an airline. I almost always pre-plan and pack a tasty and healthy meal before my flights, especially if they are a long haul jaunt. I go to my local grocery store or stop somewhere on route to the airport and pick up a wholesome salad with protein and a few snacks to keep my hunger at bay, which turns out to also be far more affordable than making purchases at the airport.

But the best advice of all comes from food writer, savvy traveler and new Mommy to Luka, Solmaz Khosrowshahian, who pens the travel content heavy website TheCuriousCreature.com – who believes having an open mind leads to the best travel experiences:

In my opinion, the best travel hack is learning how to adjust your mindset. By letting go of all expectations and judgements you can experience cultures and destinations as they truly are., not as you want them to be. Also, I strongly believe that locals know best. When visiting somewhere I haven’t been before, I reach out to random strangers (at stores, online or on the street) to get their recommendations. Most people are more than happy to share their faves and, in my experience, they places they’ve sent me have ended up being some of my fondest memories.”

And on that note, I am currently packing and prepping for my next adventure tomorrow to Paris. First time doing a long-haul flight pregnant, so I have no doubt I will develop a few more travel hacks throughout this journey. Stay tuned!

I created this blog post as a paid collaborator for ZzzQuil. All opinions and advise are my own and I only work with companies I genuinely love and have used prior to being contacted. To ensure this product is right for you, always read and follow the label.

5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Las Vegas, Nevada Off The Strip

For the 30+ years I’ve been on this earth, I’ve travelled the world for both work and play but Las Vegas was never amongst my list of conquered destinations. This action packed location just outside the desert has become almost a right of passage if you will, for most North Americans in their 20’s looking to celebrate moments like milestone birthdays or their last days of single life before tying the knot. Usually filled with champagne showers and epic night outs, that may or may not be remembered, after their “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” weekend experience is over. After discovering that Vegas hosts nearly 40 million visitors each year, it had me thinking that it’s quite possible the city is not as one dimensional as I once thought. This past January, with my interest piqued, I flew to the state of Nevada for four days to see if there really is life and entertainment off the strip. And let me tell you, I was in for a big surprise.

Obviously well known globally for it’s lavish hotels, casinos and nightclubs, turns out Vegas can also be added to the bucket list of anyone who is an adventure seeker or loves the outdoors. I can easily say that the only time I was indoors during this trip was to either eat or sleep in my hotel room and have zero regrets. If you followed along IRL on my Instagram stories, you may recall some hilarious, outrageous and breathtaking moments but I am summarizing the best of the best below that will 100% have you thinking a bit differently about this destination.


VOTED: MOST BALLER EXCURSION

When it comes to sightseeing experiences, I don’t think there is anything cooler than a helicopter tour. I’ve done a few  of them over the years and it never gets old. If you’re anything like me and the Grand Canyon has been on your bucket list for as long as you can remember, a heli tour over the canyon’s vast expanse and down to the depth of it’s floor in one of Papillon’s state-of-the-art choppers is definitely a must!  During our hour long customized tour, my mind was blown by the most majestic topography I’ve ever seen in my life; 100% making the canyon worthy of it’s status as one of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders. Papillon, the world’s aerial sight seeing company has helicopter tours starting at $200 and is perfect for a romantic date for two (ideal setting for a proposal) or a small group activity.

VOTED: MOST DARING AND ADVENTUROUS

If speed and excitement is your thing, Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon will not disappoint. Just a 30 minute drive from the strip and starting at just $159 per person, it’s the perfect adventure for those obsessed with adrenaline. After a brief drive up the hills of Boulder City, followed by a short hike to the top, is the first of four separate runs that span over a total of 1.5 miles long. If you have a slight fear of heights, the scenic views and friendly guides are just the recipe you need to overcome it and enjoy the experience. We laughed our asses off for days about Jenn’s elegant finished on the final run of the day. So thankful to have have captured some of the fun and laughs that morning in an Instagram video:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BP_TlfaAglA/?taken-by=sashaexeter

 VOTED: MOST NIQUE PLACE TO FIND YOUR ZEN

I used to think that I had done yoga in some very unique and beautiful places but leave it to Vegas to take my yoga game to new heights, and I mean literally, with a 60 minute vinyasa flow at 550ft in the air inside the High Roller Vegas. The pièce de resistánce of the LINQ’s outdoor shopping and entertainment promenade, the High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel, eclipsing both the London Eye and Singapore Flyer. Facing both north and south and running parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard, the gigantic observation wheel, is compromised of 28 glass enclosed cabins, gives riders expansive views of Vegas and the strip and if you planning on adding this to your list of things you “Must Do” while you’re in town, and is most spectacular at sundown.

Each revolution of the wheel takes 30 minutes to complete, so our private session with our Silent Savasana yoga instructor meant that we got double the pleasure, doing the journey around twice. And as if the experience wasn’t already cool enough, we all donned state-of-the-art LED headphones so we could be guided through the sequences while also listening to a curated playlist of Beyoncé remixes.

VOTED: MOST BAD ASS DESERT EXPERIENCE

I don’t care who you are, how old or where you come from, everyone should experience at least one ATV excursion in their lifetime. Sure, it can be a bit intimidating at first and depending on what type of landscape your driving in, it could get pretty messy but you’re guaranteed to have a blast. Most of the others who joined me on the trip were ATV virgins and so I contently sat back as I watched each of them get fitted for their helmets and goggles with some slight fear in their eyes.  I’ve done it a handful of times before on press trips and from experience it always winds up being a fave of everyone on the trip. A few hours riding around the desert might seem like too long but trust me when I tell you, this is one activity you will be begging you wish went on just a bit longer. It wasn’t long before the ATV newbies got in their groove and with increased confidence we were able to pick up some speed and handle some more technical driving along the dusty trails.

We chose Awesome Adventures for our ATV tour of Eldorado Canyon, located only 45 minutes from Las Vegas, and our guided tour took us through desolate desert trails and through the Tecchaticup Gold Mine – the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada. The gold mine ran from 1861 to 1942 and most of what is on site was is preserved and looks exactly the way it did 70+ years ago. The Eldorado Canyon tour starts at $199 for a single seater ATV and $160 for a two seater and also includes round trip transportation from wherever you’re staying, a professional guided tour in addition to a boxed lunch.

VOTED: MOST BREATHTAKING VIEWS

With the most awe inspiring views you wouldn’t expect to see so near to a major metropolitan city, the desert beauty of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area was the perfect way to conclude our active trip to Nevada. Not to worry if you’re not a highly skilled hiker or mountain climber, because I’m certainly not. Due to being so quiet and isolated, the conservation area has become very popular amongst tourists, sightseers, joggers and cyclists as a temporary getaway from the craziness of the strip and expertly recommended and arranged by the overly accommodating concierge at the J.W. Marriot hotel.

More vast than you can imagine, there are actually a total of 19 trails with differing difficulty and gains – making this activity appealing to all. For those not able to explore the grounds by foot, you can still experience Red Rock’s beauty by car via the 13 mile scenic drive loop. The speed limit around these parts is actually 35 mph (and in some areas even lower) to purposely encourage drivers to enjoy the spectacular scenery and also for the safety of runners, cyclists and wildlife. On a time crunch and of course thirst for the most epic landscape photos, our crew hit up Calico Tanks trail. With a distance of just 2.5 miles and rated as “moderate” on the difficulty scale, it’s a great trail for families or those wanting a relatively short intro to Red Rock Canyon because it combines all the elements that make Red Rock famous – a colourful mixture of sandstone, a hidden water pocket and an awesome view of Las Vegas. Open daily between 8am – 4pm. Entrance into the conservation area is only $7 per vehicle and free for cyclists and hikers who park and leave their cars at the loop.

Have I enticed you to re-think your own outdoor adventure to Las Vegas? For more Vegas inspo head to LasVegas.com or be sure to follow the destination on Instagram and Twitter.

Travel Smarter with the CIBC Air Canada Conversion Visa Prepaid Card

While my travels outside North America have been far less than in previous years, I’ve had countless business travel south of the border for work projects this year. As you can probably imagine, I’ve had my fair share of nightmares on the road during business trips. Like having my credit card and/or debit card compromised while abroad, resulting in my financial institution having to shut them down for security reasons. Trust me, it is THE worst! And my struggles don’t end there unfortunately. Over the last year for some strange reason, my bank client card began having issues in most ATM machines outside the country. With my frequent travel to NYC for work projects, it had started to become quite an annoyance.

The last thing anyone wants to worry about while traveling is having issues accessing money. So, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips along the way helping turn me into a savvy traveler, but of course the learning never stops. I usually make sure to never leave the country without some cash in my destination’s currency but this starting to pose as an issue when the Canadian dollar continued to plummet. I mean, have you ever had leftovers of a foreign currency after a trip and tried to re-convert them to Canadian dollars? If not, DON’T!!!

cibc-air-canada-ac-conversion

Enter the new CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion VISA Card. I did some research on CIBC’s latest card offering a few weeks ago, desperate to discover anything that would help me in my future travels. I’ve dabbled with a prepaid credit card or two in the past, but this one is in it’s own league. Similar to other prepaid Visa card options, you load the card with funds and you can use it for transactions anywhere Visa is accepted. But one of the biggest things that sets the Conversion card apart from the rest is that you are able to load it with up to 10 currencies, and manage your funds through a dedicated app. Yes, that is not a typo – 10 different currencies, so naturally it is an appealing option when traveling or booking ahead and can also be used at restaurants, stores, for online purchases and even for withdrawing local currency from ATMs.

So what does this mean? 1) No more line-ups at banks and currency exchange centres, 2) No more fear that your bank card will not work in ATMs abroad (FINALLY) and 3) Allows you to avoid those crazy credit card fees, making this card one hell of a travel companion. And if that’s not enough, if you order your card before December 31st , you can receive 15% off select Air Canada flights.

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Card

I took the card out for its first test drive a couple weeks ago on my last trip to New York and was able to check my card balance, view current exchange rates, move funds between different currencies, reload more money to my card and view all of my NYC transactions right through the mobile app on my phone. All sounds great right? It did to me but that didn’t stop me from delving a bit deeper into things such as CIBC’s Air Canada’s Conversion card’s supported currencies, expiry policy, transaction limits and associated fees, so here’s the skinny:

Support Currencies:

  1. Canadian Dollars – CAD
  2. United States Dollars – USD
  3. Euros – EUR
  4. Great British Pounds (UK) – GBP
  5. Mexican Peso – MXN
  6. Hong Kong Dollars– HKD
  7. Australian Dollars – AUD
  8. Japanese Yen – JPY
  9. Turkish Lira – TRY
  10. Swiss Franc (Switzerland)– CHF

Expiry Policy:

Luckily, the funds on this card will never expire. However the card itself will expire on the last day of the month printed on the card. There’s no need to worry if the card expires with a balance on it though, all you need to do is call the number on the back of the card to get a replacement. *A replacement card will not be sent out automatically after it’s expired – it must be requested.

Transaction Limits:

Minimum load amount (single Transaction) $100 CAD equivalent
Maximum load amount (single Transaction) $3,000 CAD equivalent
Maximum balance $20,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum point of sale purchase limit $3,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum ATM withdrawal limit $2,000 CAD Equivalent

 Fees:

Are there upfront fees? No, it is free to activate your card and should you choose to ship it to your home via courier, you’re looking at about $15. While all ATM withdrawals are free within Canada – there will be fees charged by CIBC in other countries with a chance that non-CIBC ATM providers may charge additional fees. That being said, it’s in your best interest to stay away from ATM withdrawals abroad unless absolutely necessary.

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Photography by JessBaumung.com

Are you ready to start traveling smarter? Click here to learn more about the CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card.

8 Carry-On Essentials for Light Air Travel

For years I’ve always envied people who are able to travel with only carry-on luggage. And to be honest, I was not only envious, but also confused. Very confused. How can women travel for more than one night with a 21″ rolling case? I mean, how does she manage to squeeze in all the unnecessary outfits that she will never wear during her trip? Doesn’t she want to bring her ionic blow dryer? Isn’t it tough to pack multiple shoes, especially with high heels? And what about ALL her beauty and skincare products? *gasp*  During my travels on numerous press trips, I have learned a few tricks that has allowed me to join the club of savvy travellers who are not chained to the bag carrousel at their destination. This learning curve has allowed me to fit all the necessities into just one carry-on bag, although I do also bring along a backpack or large tote along as my handbag to cram in anything else that may not fit in my rolling luggage. So since “sharing is caring” here’s some of carry-on MUST HAVES that makes me feel like I have the basics covered:

  1. Rimowa Limbo Multiwheel 22″: Traveling with carry-on can only be done if you have the right bag. I’ve long been a fan of Rimowa luggage for it’s aesthetic, functionality, durable materials, and superior quality. No matter the size or type of bag, Rimowa always offers tons of storage components it’s internal set, taking away some of the anxiety of traveling with one piece of luggage. The multiwheel feature allows the bag to glide seamless in tandem by your side or pulled from behind.
  2. Dermalogica Skincare: On shorter trips, I have learned to edit down my skincare to just a few products. This is a huge feat seeing as though I use anywhere between 15-20 products a day on my face at home. Traveling can cause stress, skin accumulates dirt and debris and we all know that cabin air during flights wreak havoc on skin so it’s important to travel with some options to keep your skin clean, clear and hydrated. Clear skin all lies in how you cleanse. Before washing my skin, I use cleansing wipes (not pictured above) and Dermalogica’s Precleanse. The latter’s nourishing olive, apricot, and kukui nut oils removes make-up, sunscreens and oil-based debris. Also, I love multi-duty products like Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Thermafoliant. This powerful, self-heating skin polisher has chemical and physical exfoliants to not only refine your skin’s texture but also promotes skin firmness and enhance the penetration of vitamins into the skin. The best part, it’s formulated without artificial fragrances and colours. $55 CDN for Precleanse $77 CDN for Multivitamin Therafoliant
  3. The Esteé Edit “Beam Team”: Ummm this product is absolutely brilliant if you dropping majority of your skincare products like third period French class to be able to travel checked-in luggage free. Beam Team is a double duty daily moisturizing lotion. The tube contains a lightweight illuminating and hydrating lotion and wait for it, if you flip the cap top you will find a flattering for all skin shades, highlighting balm. $42 CDN
  4. Jo Malone “Wild Bluebell” Cologne: Who doesn’t love scents by Jo Malone? The brand has a wide variety of colognes ranging from; citrus, floral, fruity, spicy, and woody that can satisfy just about any scent palette. One of my go-to’s when traveling is Wild Bluebell in the 1 floz (30ml) bottle. The size couldn’t be more perfect for travel, plus the light, fruity scent won’t overbear your in-flight neighbours. $65
  5. Hermés Belt: Why travel with multiple belts when you can have just one chic, reversible option. I love my double sided Hermés belt kid. I’ve had it for years. I have misplaced it three times and literally felt my heart stop beating each time I did. The epsom calfskin leather strap in black (with tan on the reversible side) with gold plated metal buckle, literally goes with everything. I can’t say it’s cheap but hey, it’s essentially two belts for the price of one, so it’s all about perspective right? $1,405 CDN
  6. Apple 11″ MacBook Laptop: Size matters. When I am not traveling I love have access to a desktop monitor or larger laptop screen when I’m traveling, the 11″ MacBook has become my trusty companion for both work and play (I mean, I still have to stay up to date with my fave shows when I am on the road). It’s much thinner, lighter, faster, and sleeker than it’s predecessors and also have improved graphic performance. If that’s not enough, up to 10 hours of battery life.
  7. The Barest Lip Colour by The Esteé Edit: You don’t need to travel with an army of lipsticks and lip pencils, trust me. When I have limited luggage space, I stick to just one lippy that I can easily rock from day to night. Loving this neutral shade by The Esteeé Edit which is available at Sephora.ca. $26 CDN
  8. Shoes – a flat and a heel option: I don’t care whether it’s business or pleasure, I think every woman should travel with both a heel and a flat. I love these neutral shoes from Ann Taylor (left) and Loft (right) which are sadly from their summer collections and no longer available.

Interesting in learning more of my skincare secrets? Stay tuned as I will be sharing my skin story with Dermalogica Canada over the next few weeks. Follow along by using the hashtag #MyFaceMyStory on your favourite social channels.

2017 GMC Acadia Whistler, BC Experience

With fast paced lifestyles being the norm these days and car consumers becoming far more discerning each year, it’s not surprising that drivers are looking for much more out of vehicles now more than ever before. We need more cargo/storage capacity. Additional space for more passengers. Want better fuel efficiency. Desire a luxury aesthetic with premium finishes. We’re intrigued by next generation technology (who ever thought we would be living in a world with 4G LTE wifi in cars?!). Or require 4WD capabilities for winter driving conditions. I mean, the list of Canadian customers reasons for purchasing a vehicle can just go on and on. In the past I viewed cars similar to the way I looked at real estate and men. It sounds odd and funny but ti’s true. I believed that there was no perfect vehicle, house or man – and finding one that ticked all the boxes wasn’t realistic. For years car customers have sacrificed in one way or another. Twenty years ago, if space was high on your priority list, you were probably sacrificing on style by having to choose a minivan to accommodate a family of 7. Wanting better performance meant a heavier vehicle frame and increased engine size; resulting in poor fuel efficiency. Japanese and German vehicles were known for their style and design, but it was the American manufacturers that were known for comfort. Fast forward two decades and we may be moving towards a world where it’s possible to get your whole wish list in one vehicle.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

Last week I ventured all the way to beautiful Whistler, British Columbia for a couple days of adventure and to discover the all new 2017 GMC Acadia. Our drive from Whistler commenced from Vancouver Airport, where we headed up the scenic Sea to Sky highway, giving us our first taste of the brand’s most innovative Acadia to date. On our itinerary during our surprise filled visit with GM Canada…an unbelievable outdoor experience that included learning how to ride like the mountain bike pros on the GMC sponsored Pump Track, an exclusive ride inside the Guinness World Record Breaking Peak to Peak Gondola that spans the entire distance between Whistler and Blackcomb, lunch overlooking a breathtaking vista of snowcapped mountains at Christine’s on Blackcomb, an ATV off-road excursion with RZR Tours at Cougar Mountain and dinner at Whistler’s premier dine dining and award winning restaurant Bearfoot Bistro. And if that wasn’t enough, after our delicious four course meal at Bearfoot, we headed to the restaurant’s lower level where patrons will find the Ketel One Ice Room – the world’s coldest vodka tasting room and only sub-zero vodka room in Canada. If you followed my trip on snapchat, you most likely saw our group donning white Canada Goose parkas to help us brave the -32C (-25) temps in there, while we sampled a few of the vodka’s in their 50 plus collection.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

GMC, a brand known for it’s professional grade heritage, bold features and craftsmanship, has refined the latest Acadia with the help of premium finishes, innovative features and tons of space options for both passengers and cargo. Here’s a quick look inside the 2017 GMC Acadia:

The revised mid-sized SUV’s exterior has modern updates with sculptural lines that made our motorcade of Acadia’s stand out as we made our way up the winding highway. But it’s the car’s interior and tech features that really stand out in my opinion. It may not look like it from the outside, but this cross over fits up to 7 passengers quite comfortably despite losing a bit of interior room compared to it’s previous year’s model, thanks to premium seating and the vehicle’s easy access to it’s 3rd row. How? With the assistance of Acadia’s fold flat 2nd row seats that allows you to be ready for whatever your next adventure might be. You can go right ahead and file the enhanced second-row Smart Slide® seats under “Mind Blown”. This row can tip, pitch and slide forward even when a child seat is attached. Shocking I know! And this should go without saying, but this feature is only recommended when a child is NOT strapped into it’s car seat. If more cargo space is what you really need, designers have placed built-in seat release levers to make it super simple to fold the second row seats completely flat from the back of the car.

For those of you have have kiddies or nieces and nephews you look after on weekends like I do, the comprehensive suite of available Driver Alert and Active Safety Technologies to help protect drivers from the unexpected on the road, would blow you away. With the increase in deaths of babies being inadvertently left behind in cars, the Acadia has the industry first “Rear Seat Alert System” that reminds drivers that items and/or children may still be in the vehicle’s 2nd or 3rd row seats. Knowing you have the added safety of sensors, radars and cameras to help detect potential crash situations, can bring comfort to drivers with young children and babies on board. Other notable technologies that are a first for the Acadia that can even probably help with yearly insurance fees are the Front Park Assist, Lane Change Alert and Lane Keep Assist, Knee Airbags and much more.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

I’m not sure about you, but I’m always a fan of anything that makes long road trips bearable or working on the road manageable and GM’s fleet was ahead of it’s time introducing 4G LTW wifi connectivity via OnStar, Apple Car Play capabilities (allowing drivers to utilize all the functionalities of their iPhone or Android devices to make calls, send texts, listen to music and access maps all displayed on an 8″ colour touch audio system), plus Five USB ports ensures everyone is happily connected and charging.

A common worry for those moving from a car to cross over or SUV is no doubt gas mileage and rightfully so. Advanced design and engineering as allowed the 2017 Acadia to be over 700 lbs lighter than it’s predecessor, resulting in better fuel economy. You will find fuel range for the Acadia different depending on the model and engine size of course. For car buyers who’s priority is fuel efficiency the clear choice is the 2.5L engine getting drivers 11.0/9.2/10.2 L/100km (City/Highway/Combined). If fuel efficiency take a back seat to performance, then the 3.6L V6 engine with 310 horsepower plus active fuel management is the way to go with 13.0/9.3/11.3 (City/Highway/Combined) L/100km.

The 2017 GMC Acadia is already available in showrooms now in Canada and price points for the base 4-cylinder front drive only Acadia SL start at $29,995, with the top line Acadia Denali AWD starting at $47,845. For more information on all Acadia models head to GMCCanada.ca

5 Important Tips For Better Sleep When You Travel

Getting adequate sleep at night in your own bed is a challenge in itself. Since January I have been doing research on the topic of sleep in search of effective ways to increase quality shut eye. You may have seen this chronicled right here not too long ago, where I shared some of the things my boyfriend and I have incorporated into our nightly routine at home. But sleep can be even more tricky when your traveling. If you don’t get enough sleep, especially when switching time zones, there is a good chance your trip, whether it be for work or play, may not pan out the way you intended. There’s nothing worse than traveling a long way for a fun filled trip and spending the first few days in the destination living in a jet lag fog. Of course, only to be outdone by being in a sleep deprived, induced coma when on a business trip. If you’re traveling anytime soon, you may want to take notes on the below so you can arrive at your destination looking refreshed and ready to take over the city.

ZzzQuil

ZzzQuil

1. Modify Your Sleep. This may be a very ambitious rule, but if you can figure out a way to do this, I can almost guarantee you will be unfazed by a time zone change and long travel days. Shifting your bedtime a couple days before you depart to be in line with what your destination’s time is a veteran trick. It’s natural to find it difficult to get on a different time zone – generally we become sleepy during the day and restless at night. Not ideal! Many well heeled travellers have a few tricks up their sleeves to combat this and one of mine is ZzzQuil. Although ZzzQuil is made by the makers of Vicks NyQuil, it’s not for colds. It’s not for pain. It’s just for sleep. It contains diphenhydramine – a big word for a small compound that can be used to relieve occasional sleeplessness. When used as directed and when you can donate a full night to sleeping, it reduces the time it takes for you to fall asleep. I make sure to have it packed inside my emergency travel kit that I store inside my carry-on bag, just as a precautionary measure in the event my luggage gets lost or misplaced. It helps  me fall asleep easily so I can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Sleep Better

2. Stay Hydrated. In high altitudes, it’s not uncommon for your body and skin to get dehydrated. Also, with prices at the airport being so expensive, it literally deters people from purchasing a couple bottles of Fiji water before take-off. Really, you should be increasing your H20 intake 1-2 days prior to your departure. To make sure you get adequate hydration while in transit, skip buying the pricey water at the airport and bring your own large refillable water bottle to fill up during the flight instead of relying on the miniature cups of water cabin crew hand out. Proper hydration will prevent you from feeling groggy when you wake up from sleeping on the plane.

3. Avoid Red-Eye Flights. Red eye flights are awful and I really only recommend them if necessary when flying overseas internationally. Many assume they are doing themselves a favour by flying overnight so they can make the most of their time in a new city. Not so much! In actuality, the transit time in the air is short in comparison to the time it takes to get to and from the airport, baggage claim, going through customs and getting situation at your hotel, basically throwing you off your sleep for most of your trip.

ZzzQuil

4. Dress For Comfort. Ok, it is very important to understand that I am not sagging that one shows up to the airport looking like a schlep, especially if you a re traveling for business. My father always told me to look presentable when traveling because you never know who you will cross paths with. However, you don’t want to be so uncomfortable that you can’t get rest on the plane. For flights over two and a half hours, I usually bring a pair of compression socks to avoid symptoms like heavy legs, leg pain, swollen feet and ankles. These symptoms can occur during long haul flights where movement is constrained and blood circulation in the legs is restricted. I also typically wear a long sleeve top, an additional thin layer plus a light weight cashmere scarf that can easily double as a blanket when the cabin temperature drops during the flight.

ZzzQuilLimbo Multiwheel Créme White Luggage c/o Rimowa Toronto

5. Reduce Stimuli. Whether you’re attempting to sleep on the plane or in your hotel room on the first night of your stay, reducing the amount of stimuli is crucial to getting good rest. I always find it funny when people say, “I don’t know why, but I can’t sleep on planes!” and then later find out they spend the entire time in flight working on their laptop, watching a movie marathon or blasting music in some pricey noise cancelling headphones. It’s no wonder they can’t get some decent rest. Restricting screen time of any kind; TV or computers and staying off your phone an hour before bedtime works wonders even when you’re not traveling. Light music is fine I suppose but I prefer a sound machine app, I mean who doesn’t feel calm hearing the sound of waves or falling rain, right!

ZzzQuil

In case you missed it, you can check out more of my sleep tips to help you get your best rest yet. This post is sponsored by ZzzQuil Canada but all opinions are my own. Before you take medications, it’s important to know what is actually in them. I always recommend you read the label and if you have further questions about the product, please consult your physician, pharmacist or call the 1-800 number on the product packaging. Head to ZzzQuil.ca for more information.

Los Cabos Travel Series: Mind, Body, & Soul Rejuvenation

Los Cabos Series

Most think of vacations as a time to become a complete sloth, to eat and drink just about everything in sight and lay out until their skin colour is at least three shades darker than when they deplaned the aircraft at their destination. By no means is this considered a bad thing. Heck, I yearn for a couple days of nothingness from time to time, but there are a distinct few who look at their vacations as a strategic retreat where they can undergo a complete mental and physical overhaul, where luxury and comfort is not compromised. If you happen to fall within this niche category of travellers, you need to add Los Cabos to your bucket list.

Los Cabos

I recently crossed this dreamy destination off my bucket list and to be honest, I loved it so much I am heading back at the end of the month. Most, including myself until my visit, confuse this luxe locale with Cabos San Lucas, which has more a reputation for it’s clubs and party atmosphere. Los Cabos though is what I would consider it’s older, more sophisticated sister. The destination is referred to as “Lands End” for being situated at the tip of the southern Baja California Peninsula. Known for the warmth of it’s people, mind blowing food and deep rooted heritage, it’s varying landscapes of desert, sea and mountains also keeps visitors coming back for more.

For the Fitness Obsessed, Well Heeled Traveller

Esperanza Resort

For me, the dream vacation would consist of equal parts fitness, fun and relaxation. If you’re a Type A personality who takes their food, workouts and recovery seriously, Esperanza Resort is Mecca. Part of the boutique luxury hotel company, Auberge Resorts Collection, this unique property has managed to find the perfect balance between pure leisure and a variety of physical activities designed to challenge all fitness levels. Esperanza’s state-of-the-art fitness facilities allow guests to enjoy daily complimentary classes – everything from Beach Bootcamp to TRX, to Sunrise Yoga to a private running concierge service and everything in between. They take their programming so seriously, the hotel has created a “Trainer-in-Residence” program where they feature renowned guest fitness instructors from the best gyms and studios across the US. No matter your level or goals, this hospitality gem’s dedicated staff can customize a bespoke wellness experience to suit your needs.

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Part of this experience involves an exceptional culinary experience to accompany your desired workout regimen. With ingredients from local fishermen and farmers, Esperanza Resort’s Cabo dining will knock your socks off. For the foodie, Cocina del Mar’s sea-to-table fare will have you thinking you’re in heaven. Looking for an interactive food experience? There’s hands-on cooking classes with Resident Executive Chef Gonzalo Cerda and more much.

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

With all the fitness, activities, available excursions and phenomenal dining, you can only expect Esperanza wants it’s guests to be able to rest and rejuvenate – enter The Spa at Esperanza. Focusing on spiritual well-being, stress reduction, detoxification and revitalization, this world renowned sanctuary is sure  to restore your body to it’s intended, natural state. Highly trained staff turn to healing agents indigenous to the area to create treatments tailored to clients specific health and wellness needs. And if that’s not enough, there is no way you cannot sleep like a King or Queen in any of the property’s accommodations. With suite options ranging from 900 sqft casitas (starting around $2,500 USD per night) to Villas and Residences up to 4,000 sqft (approximately $11,000 USD per night) guests can expect that no luxurious detail is overlooked. Offering expansive layouts, indoor/outdoor living spaces, oversized bedroom and washrooms, infinity hot tubs or pools, plus full concierge or butler service, it comes as no surprise that Hollywood’s A-List chooses Esperanza as their favourite private getaway in Los Cabos. For more information or to book online, head to Esperanza.AubergeResorts.com.

Affordable Luxury for the Whole Family

Hilton Los Cabos

Hilton hotels are known globally for their first-rate yet affordable, family friendly facilities. After being severely damaged in the hurricane back in 2014, The Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort re-opened to both first time and returning guests. Situated on one of my favourite stretches  along the Sea of Cortez in Los Cabos, the Hilton boasts beautiful vistas from every single corner of the property. With six dining options plus 24 hours of in-room dining service, guests can enjoy the amazing pool views with farm-to-fork brekkie (my fave) or sea-to-table dinner at El Meson; sip from Cabo’s largest tequila collection inside Azul, feast on regional Italian cuisine at Vela or grab comfort food and bites from one of the various poolside grills. If you have food restrictions or prefer healthy options; you need not worry here. With plenty of options on the menus, those with even the pickiest of palettes will find something that will have you eager for the next meal.

Hilton Los Cabos

If relaxing poolside all day isn’t your thing, the Hilton is the place to be. However, laying out by one of their two deluxe pools isn’t too bad of idea here because the hotel has a pool concierge service that comes by to mist you with Evian, clean your sunnies and even provide you with iPods in case you need tunes while you sunbathe.

Hilton Los Cabos

You can discover so much of the Baja Peninsula’s beauty by staying at Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort. December to March is whale watching season and the optimal time to see these beautiful animals close-up. The resort gives guests access to an amazing whale watching safari but if you keep your eyes on the waves, you can actually see them from the hotel’s oceanfront view guest rooms, the restaurants and infinity pools.

Cabo Adventures

Cabo Adventures

Cabo Adventures

Cabo Adventures

If you’re the adventurous type, this could possibly be the vacation of your dreams. The Hilton’s concierge is always eager to help guests plan world class excursions that is very likely to be the highlight of any visitor’s vacation; think dolphin swim programs, outdoor zip lining, flyboarding, mountain bike tours, sailing, outback tours, camel safari’s and much more via Cabo Adventures. My choice of adventure was mountain biking through Cabo’s outback, which probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to most of you. Only a 30 minute drive from Cabo’s city centre, we ventured to Rancho San Christobal, a protected reserve overlooking the majestic Pacific. Our amazing tour guide led us through a stunning ride down cactus-lined tracks to a gorgeous hidden beach where the views literally took my breath away. Along our guided tour, our guide educated us about the area’s amazing flora and fauna plant life with natural healing properties, chilled with some camels, and visited the secluded habitat for baby turtles. Post ride, we headed to Rancho San Christobal’s “Casa Tipica” for the most flavourful and natural Mexican meal and tequila.

Hilton Eforea Spa

Hilton Eforea Spa

Eforea Spa

The only way to follow that kind of excursion was a full day at the Hilton’s Eforea Spa. Eforea takes relaxation practices from around the world to create a unique concept for it’s clients. But of course, honouring it’s Mexican heritage, the spa draws on native rituals and local ingredients, paired with traditional spa menu offerings. And if that’s not enough, guests can further customize their treatments by choosing natural herbs from the spa to be infused into their massages, facials or body treatments. Have kiddies with you on your stay? Being a parent doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some relaxation too. Here, children can enjoy the Cabo Kids experience at Eforea with kid friendly treatments and spa services. Rates per night start at only $319. For more information or to book online head to HiltonLosCabos.com.

For the Spiritual Wanderluster

Hacienda Encantada

For those who care less about catching sun rays or going on excursions and prefers to explore once in a lifetime spiritual experience, trying a Temezcal at Hacienda Encantada must be on your bucket list. I’ve had a lot of alternative spa treatments in my day, but until last November I had yet to experience anything quite like this before. Temazcal is a native health ritual that originated hundreds of years ago in Central America and Mexico. It’s direction translation, which stems from the native Nahuatl language means “House of Steam” and in this instance the translation is not an understatement.

Hacienda Encantada Temazcal

A Temazcal is a tiny stone chamber resembling a dome where super hot stones are placed in a hole in the centre on a brick. To create extra heat and steam, the hot stones are splashed with water infused with several healing herbs. One of the first things I discovered about these treatments is that when people enter the chamber, the environment replicates that of a mother’s womb resulting in a very powerful physical and mental experience for those partaking in the session.

Hacienda Encantada

What makes the Temazcal so unique is that it incorporates all four elements: earth, fire, wind and water – combined creates a powerful healing process that has been known to treat everything from arthritis, liver issues, circulatory problems, bronchitis, prostate issues while also reliving stress, muscle tension and most importantly negative energy; leaving you feeling so energized and refreshed.

Hacienda Encantada

Hacienda Encantada

Prior to entering the Temazcal, we were saved to clean our energies and bowed down just in front the entryway before stepping in. Inside, we were asked to sit or lay down in the extremely close quarters. There was only four of us during this session and it felt that one extra person would have made it too crammed but apparently often times there can be up to 20-25 adults inside at one time. For close to two hours we sweated profusely as the two leaders sang songs and started engaging conversations asking each of us what we would like to let go of both physically and mentally during the treatment. I am a lover of dry saunas but I had never felt this kind of heat before in my life and didn’t think I could make it through at first. But the process forced me to let go and to concentrate on my breathing to relieve my anxiety. Half way through, aloe vera was passed around for us to use the jelly to scrub our bodies down. We happily used ice cubes, which barely stood a chance, to wash the aloe jelly residue off our bodies.  After some closing meditation, our 90 mins of sweating was over and we excited the Temazcal feeling mentally cleansed and physically rejuvenation. For more on Hacienda Encantada’s Temezcal treatment check out HaciendaEncantada.com.

I left my heart in Cabo in November and was compelled to see what more this magical place has to offer. Stay tuned as I will be heading back this month on a culinary adventure. To learn more about Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas and surrounding areas head to VisitLosCabos.Travel.

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