Friday, July 3, 2015

Weekend Staycation at Hyatt Regency Orlando

This weekend my husband Gabe and I had a quick staycation at Hyatt Regency Orlando.  We had a work function at SeaWorld which is 5 minutes from the property and instead of rushing home, we decided to enjoy sometime in the I Drive area of Orlando. Our friends Darlynn and Steve happened to be staying at the Hyatt as well and we had a wonderful time playing tourists in our own back yard. It is amazing to see all of the improvements going on in that area.
This stay would mark the 6th hotel I stayed at in the month of June. I have been traveling a lot for work and in my downtime, taking quick trips to try and relax. I did exactly just that this weekend. Gabe and I stayed in a King room overlooking the pool. I am not sure what it is about Hyatt Regency Orlando but have the most comfortable bed I have ever stayed in. I typically find myself up bright and early while staying away but not last weekend - I actually slept in (until 8:30, ha!).
One of my favorite features about Hyatt Regency Orlando is the bathroom. Yes....the bathroom. There is a TV mounted in the mirror. When we end up buying a house, this is one thing Gabe wants to put in our master bath. I will not argue with that!
Hyatt Regency Orlando also had amazing toiletries. As I mentioned above, I spent nearly half the month of June in hotels. I cannot tell you how many times I forgot my toothpaste and face wash. I need not to worry when staying at the Hyatt. Not only did they provide toothpaste and mouth wash, Hyatt has KenetMD skincare as their toiletry line (this stuff isn't cheap). On top of your standard shower gel, soap, shampoo and conditioner, you also get face wash and after sun gel. That is taking care of your sunburned guests if I have ever seen it. As you can tell, I am passionate about my toiletries!
Walker Stalker Con was happening at the convention center next door to the Hyatt. We went for cocktails at the Rocks Bar following our incredible dinner we had at Firenzo. It was people watching at it's best. I saw more people dressed up like Walking Dead characters. Sadly I didn't get any photos of them - but we enjoyed quite a few martinis at the beautiful bar!

Upon returning to our room, I noticed that Hyatt spoiled me with a champagne and cheese basket, which I saved for Sunday morning, knowing I would be spending time at the pool. This is what I call practicing self control because I really wanted to tear into that basket and drink the Chandon.
My patience paid off and we enjoyed our Chandon poolside - although Gabe keeps claiming Darlynn owes him a glass of champagne :)

We also enjoyed lunch at Coconuts Poolside Bar and Grill during a short FL rain storm on Sunday. Coconuts has a great menu with multiple appetizers, signature sandwiches and salads.

Darlynn and Steve ordered Seafood Salad Club which is a Florida version of the Maine Lobster Roll. It contained crab, shrimp and lobster. This sandwich was $18.
Since I am on a soft food diet, I had to get something easy to eat. So I ordered the Grilled Florida Fish Sandwich, subbing the tomato for avocado and ate it without the bun. It was also $18 and very good.

There is a bunch going on at Hyatt Regency Orlando this summer including Summer Sensation activities and a great FL resident discount.

Florida Resident Weekends
Pair spacious accommodations, world-class amenities and service with convenient location -- minutes from Orlando's world-famous attractions, shopping, dining and nightlife -- for an experience unlike any other at Hyatt Regency Orlando. Enjoy exclusive savings of 20% on weekend staycations for Florida residents, and stay in the middle of the action.

Summer Sensation

The Mermaid Academy

Learn to swim like a mermaid at the Grotto Pool, a luxurious oasis with cascading waterfalls, cool water slide and cabanas for families to relax and unwind. The Mermaid Academy offers children of all ages to play and swim with a vibrant mermaid tail or shark fin in this magical experience, offered Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Grotto Pool. Classes are available at 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. for $30 per child. Take the experience home with a collection of fun mermaid tails available at The Spa at Hyatt Regency Orlando. Learn more and reserve your child’s Mermaid Academy experience, and call 407-345-4431 for reservations.

Entertainment and Activities, All Summer Long!
Orlando is the ultimate summer destination with the most fun and excitement for families, couples and friends alike. Discover all there is to experience in Orlando when you stay in the middle of the action, minutes from world-famous theme parks and International Drive attractions like The Orlando Eye. And, don’t miss exclusive hotel activities, live entertainment and more all summer long.

You can find the entire weeks worth of activities online - click here to be taken to Hyatt Regency Orlando's website. Below are what you will find on the weekend.

10am: Arts & Crafts
11am: Hula Hoop
Noon: Gator Races
2pm: Water Balloon Toss
4pm: Swimming Games
8pm: Swim Up Movie

10am: Arts & Crafts
11am: Scavenger Hunt
Noon: Sea Lion Races
2pm: Water Balloon
4pm: Pool Deck Games
*Activities are subject to change*

Thursday, July 2, 2015

July Marathon Training with My ASICS #GoRunIt

Goodbye June - hello July, 100 degrees, awful humidity and daily rain. Oh and hello treadmill. I will sadly say my June training was not on par. I have 101 valid excuses but they are just that - excuses. I haven't ran in two weeks and here is why - I worked 63 hours the week of June 16th. Exhaustion is a understatement. The following week, I had dental surgery, which set me back way further than I anticipated. While my Dentist said I could run the day after surgery, my nutrition hasn't been on par being I have 20 stitches in the roof of my mouth and cannot eat.

Speaking of Dublin, who else is watching the Bachelorette?! Talk about the worst dates ever. However, I was very excited to see they went to Dublin.

Sly switch of subject and excuses aside, July is here in full force and I am within the 4 month window to marathon #5, The Dublin Marathon. Before I talk about my July training plan, I want to take a second and swoon over the new and soon to be released ASICS Gel Nimbus 17 colors I found on Running Warehouses website. I MUST have the top left shoe. The all teal shoe on the bottom left is the Gel Nimbus 17 Lite Show. I have the Nimbus 16 version and love them for running in the dark.

Moving onto my training schedule for July. I have yet to start training with Coach Andrew Kastor so I am still using the My ASICS training app. I strongly suggest this free app to anyone training for a 5K up to a Full Marathon. I do need some motivation in my life right now. This photo is on my wall, reminding me to get out there and run, even if I don't want to (which is most of the time right now). I've been given an amazing opportunity to run the Dublin Marathon with ASICS and I need to stop making excuses.
I am not looking forward to running 8.5 miles the Sunday following 4th of July. Not by any means. I am likely splitting this one up - there is a 4 mile race in Daytona Beach on Saturday which I may do, then do the other 4.5 on Sunday.
Another 8.5 mile run on Sunday - this will be the first time I have ever had a long training run alone. My husband typically trains with me but he has to work every weekend in July. This may be a day that I download a chick flick on my iPad and pay a visit the treadmill.
This week will be my most difficult of all. I will be in NYC attending BlogHer and wont get back until late on Saturday. Followed by another 8.5 mile run on Sunday. It could be worse - it could be a 14 mile training run.
My best friend will be in town visiting me this weekend - she got lucky.
Nothing much to report on week 5 other than I will be in the 3 month window of Dublin at this time.

When you are feeling unmotivated to lace up your shoes, where do you find that burst of motivation from?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dining at Fiorenzo, Hyatt Regency Orlando

My husband and I stayed at Hyatt Regency Orlando this past weekend, making a quick staycation following a work event on Saturday. We met up with our friends Darlynn and her husband Steve who were also staying at the hotel for dinner at Hyatt's authentic Italian restaurant, Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse.
Darlynn and Steve are both Italian - in fact, Steve's family is literally off the boat from Italy. I will tell you I had some reservations about going to an authentic Italian Restaurant with them. If anyone knows true Italian food, it's these two who have Sunday Supper every week. However, this is Hyatt Regency and if there is one thing I know about Hyatt, they do not play when it comes to food.
We were promptly sat and started off with a bottle of wine. We agreed on a bottle of William Hill Chardonnay and were surprised with a Cheese & Cured Meats compliments of the chef. This plate had various selections of cheese - everything from truffle to beer. Homemade mustard accompanied boar salami. It was the perfect start to our double date night.
Next was a bread basket full of homemade bread sticks and popovers. I have the worlds largest weakness to popovers - especially when they are filled with cheese. I will never admit to how many I consumed :)
Since I am technically still on a soft food diet, I made the quick decision to order the homemade Potato Gnocchi - It had truffle cream, crispy Parmesan and mixed mushrooms. Four days later and I am still dreaming over this dish. I asked for a half portion as I couldn't go to an Italian Steakhouse without ordering a steak - yet I couldn't be a piggy and order two entrees. Although half portions of pasta is not on the menu, this is something that you can request at Fiorenzo's. I strongly strongly strongly suggest ordering the Truffle Gnocchi as a side dish at Fiorenzo's.
The steak I ordered was the 8oz Filet Mignon. It was the first time I used a knife in days and while I thought chewing would be an issue, this steak quickly disappeared from my plate. I did get odd looks from the table as my steak was being cut up like beef tartare. The tenderloin was cooked to perfection with a delicious salt sear. It also paired perfectly with my Gnocchi!!
Steve (aka Pasta connoisseur) ordered the Black Pepper Papardelle - with beef short rib bolognese and shaved pepato. He said over and over again how wonderful the pasta was and it was cooked to perfection - the "perfect al dente".  While the photograph doesn't capture it, this pasta dish was full of short ribs. If Steve was amazed at the pasta, I know it was a delicious dish.
Darlynn and Gabe both ordered the 20oz prime bone in Rib Eye, Fiorenzo's signature steak. Both steaks were cooked to a perfect medium rare and were very juicy with a ton of flavor. I tried a very small bite and it was delicious. It was funny to see one of my best friends and my husband eating like they were on an episode of the Flinstones.

While none of us added an addition onto our steaks (I mean, I ordered two entrees and they ate half a cow), there were amazing accompanies to enhance your meal. Fiorenzo has flash seared foie gras for $16, fresh seasonal truffle and demi-glace for $15. Along with the additions, there were also a variety of sauces (aged balsamic, garlic and green chile salmoriglio, etc) to choose from. Darlynn did get the fresh horseradish ($5) to go with her Rib Eye.
With full bellies came the dessert and after dinner cocktail menu. We went for the Tiramisu while Steve ordered Coconut Gelato. Darlynn and I also ordered an espresso martini. It was the perfect end cap to a perfect night with dear friends.

If you find yourself in Orlando over the summer, be sure to check out Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse located inside the Hyatt Regency Orlando. On Friday's, they have an offer you cannot refuse:

Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse Orlando Date Night:
Starting June 19th you can pair classic charm with modern tastes and a free bottle of Robert Mondavi wine for the ultimate Orlando date night. Join us on Friday nights this summer and receive one complimentary bottle of Robert Mondavi wine to savor with purchase of two main entrees, like Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse’s signature Filet Mignon and Scallops or authentic Italian favorites such as Branzino, Osso Buco and fresh, homemade pastas.

Reservations recommended. Offer is valid only on Friday nights, cannot be combined with any other offer and is not available for groups over eight.

For more information and reservations, please call 407.345.4570.

Follow Hyatt Regency Orlando to keep up with seasonal promotions and special events.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marathon Training with Kohl's and a Sports Watch Giveaway #TrainWithKohls

If you have followed this blog for sometime, you know I do not have a great relationship with sport watches. I would always feel pressured wearing them. In fact, I have never worn a sport watch during any of my 4 marathons. However, times are changing.

I am not one to freak out about my finishing time - I always just want to finish. When I learned I would be running the Dublin Marathon with ASICS America this Fall, I made a goal to myself to become a faster, stronger runner. This means intervals and speed work - and you cannot do either of those without a timing device.
"Interval's are my best friend" said no one ever. Luckily for me, Kohl's sent me a watch to assist me with my marathon training. This summer, I am training with the Casio Watch Illuminator Tough Solar Digital watch. My favorite feature about this watch is that it is solar powered. For the very short period of time I wore a sports watch, it would be dead when I went to use it. Upon receiving my watch, I placed it on my home offices windowsill and the next day, it was ready for use! The Casio Illuminator Tough Solar watch has many wonderful features which is perfect for both the beginner and avid runner including a 120-lap chronograph, world time, five daily alarms and more features make it a multifunctional sports watch that's sure to keep you on track.
Along with the large line of Casio sports watches, I was shocked to see the variety of watches Kohl's carries. I always saw them as an apparel and home store, yet they carry multiple active and wellness brands - everything from Fitbit, Jawbone, Casio, Garmin, Nike, Asics, Pro-Form, and more.

Kohl's provided me with an red Casio Illuminator Tough Solar Watch to giveaway to one of my readers. Let me know in the comment below what race you are training for. Be sure to log your entry in the Rafflecopter widget below to open up additional chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Calendar: day & date
5 daily alarms
12/24-hour formats
World time: 29 time zones (48 cities)
Dual time
Chronograph: 120-lap
2 countdown timers
Water resistance: 100 meters
Digital display with LED light
Face cover: mineral crystal
Case: resin
Caseback: stainless steel
50-mm diameter
Strap buckle clasp
Solar power
Manufacturer's 1-year limited warranty

This post is sponsored by Kohl's as part of their #TrainWithKohls campaign and I was compensated for this blog post. As always, all opinions are my opinion.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Boathouse at Disney Springs

Last Sunday for Father's Day, we took Gabe's Dad to see Jurassic World at Downtown Disney, followed by an early dinner at The Boathouse inside of the new Disney Springs expansion. This was our first time experiencing Disney Springs and were very impressed. Downtown Disney suffered for many years after the fall of pleasure island. If The Boathouse is any indication of the future of Disney Springs, it will quickly  be the new "it" destination in Central Florida. It's slated to be completed by 2016 and offer 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
The Boathouse is a family friendly waterfront dining experience whose menu is served daily until 2am. They feature steaks, fresh seafood, a raw bar and the best Maine Lobster roll you will find in Florida - more on that later. There is also a dockside bar which offers the best view in all of Walt Disney World.
The Boathouse also offers various water adventures from a Wooden Italian Water Taxi, Lady Rose Antique Steamboat Tour for two, and the below shown Amphicar Tour, a car that drives on land and floats in the water!
You could spend your entire evening walking around the dock checking out their rare ship collection. There are 19 rare and beautiful boats gathered from museums, private collections and boat shows. Here is a sample of what you will find at The Boathouse Disney Springs.

Now it's time to talk food! I am a born and raised Floridian who grew up on the beach. It goes without saying that fresh Seafood has always been a huge part of my life. My family has property in Maine and whenever we visit, I find myself eating nothing but Maine Lobster (specifically Lobster Rolls) the entire time. I also don't fit into my shorts by the team we head back to FL. While I am not a New Englander, I do consider myself a Lobster Roll connoisseur. We did not have reservations for Boat House and it was 6:00 on Fathers Day - but we took a chance and scored seats in the lounge area right at sunset - so I apologize for my photos. The sun was not agreeing with me.
Up first - the above mentioned Maine Lobster Roll. If I closed my eyes, I would have believed we were in Maine. A whole Maine Lobster was diced up in a buttery grilled split top bun. There was just enough Mayo to keep it together without taking over - and no celery! So many restaurants make the mistake of using too much mayo and too much seasoning. This was PERFECT. The Lobster Roll was $30 but well worth the price tag. Gabe's Dad and I both ordered the lobster roll and Gabe and I decided to split it along with a bucket of fried shrimp....
I told you the sun was not cooperating with me. Don't let the photo fool you - this was the best friend shrimp I have had in a very long time. The Fried Baja Shrimp were coated in Panko and fried. They were literally the size of prawns and we devoured them.
Gabe's Mom ordered the Surf Clam Strips. I am not much of a fried clam strip kinda girl - until this day. I have no idea what The Boathouse did to these clam strips, but they changed my "I hate clam strips" to "I want more right now".
There's also a great wine and cocktail list at The Boathouse. We were all very impressed with this restaurant and will be coming back soon. They do not yet take Tables of Wonderland or Annual Passholder discounts but hopefully that will be changing soon. You can now make reservations for The Boathouse on Open Table and find them on Facebook to keep up with current events!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

First Anniversary Cruise Booked - #CruisingCarnival on the Carnival Sunshine

September 27th 2015 seems so far away but it really isn't. In 4 months, my husband and I will be celebrating our one year wedding anniversary. Not that I am counting down or anything. Well maybe I am and here is why.....
We will be spending our one year anniversary on board the Carnival Sunshine. This will be my 11th and his FIRST cruise!
Our 5 day Bahamas Cruise leaves Port Canaveral on our actual anniversary. There is only one day at sea, followed by 3 stops in the Bahamas - Half Moon Cay, Nassau and Freeport. Since I have been to the Bahamas what feels like a billion times (seriously, you should see my passport) and Gabe has never gone, I will have to be sure to plan activities he would like vs. me thinking "been there done that".
We are super excited for all the dining options available on board the Carnival Sunshine. This will be the largest and most modern ship I have set sail on.


Half Moon Cay
Since this will be our first destination on the cruise after a day at sea, I really want us to do something special. From the excursions available at Half Moon Cay, I am leaning towards:
Horse Back Riding on the Beach - $99
Island Adventure, Sightseeing & Snorkel Tour - $59.99
Eco Bike & Hike Tour - $37.99

This cruise will mark my 10th visit to Nassau. I sit back and reflect on my favorite experience on the island and the Atlantis Dolphin Swim or the  Paradise Island Dolphin Experience stand out. Yet I am not sure Gabe would want to sit around in a wet suit to hug and kiss on a sea mammal. I do think visiting Paradise Island is a must for any first time visitors to Nassau. Plus my husband is a kid at heart and loves water parks.

Atlantis Aquaventure Full Day with Lunch - $189.99. I am not sure if we want to spend nearly $400 for two people.
Atlantis Aquaventure Half Day - $139.99. This may be the route to go if we decide on the Aquaventure, and get lunch on our own.
OR we could do a Self Guided tour of Atlantis, grab lunch and visit the public beach we went to on my Bachelorette Cruise.

On my last two trips to Freeport, my best friend and I went to Grand Lucayan. It's not an official excursion but it's the perfect way to spend a relaxing day at the beach with resort amenities. You can read about our 2015 trip here including instructions on how to get to the property.
My Bahamian House: A Select Retreat - $99. This sounds amazing - chef, bartender and a private house? I may have to skip Grand Lucayan this year and book an excursion.

Dining Options on Board

As I mentioned above, the dining available on Carnival Sunshine is unlike any cruise I have sailed on.  Just to name a few:
Cucina Del Capitano - 3 courses for a $15 fee. Menu here
Bonsai Sushi - For a fee (varies). Menu here
Steakhouse - For a $35 fee. Menu here
Ji Ji Asian Kitchen - For a $15 fee. Menu here

There are so many activities on board the Carnival Sensation. Here are a few things we will be checking out!
Jogging Track - We will be spending plenty of time here as I will be marathon training during the cruise.  
Punchliner Comedy Club - Gabe loves comedy shows
Casino - We both love Roulette 
EA Sports Bar - The EA Sports bar has drinks, snacks, sports and video games. 
Skycourse - A rope course on top of a cruise ship while sailing at sea? Sign me up! 
RedFrog Pub - Key West style with Caribbean Fare.
Waterworks Onboard Waterpark & Twister Waterslide. What can I say, my husband is a kid at heart. 
Havana Bar - Hello Cafe con Leche!!! 
Mixologist Competitions - Little known fun fact: Both Gabe and I are former Bartenders. This will be FUN and competitive! 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Cupcake Lovers Weekend at Hilton Bonnet Creek

As part of my birthday weekend "extravaganza", my husband Gabe and I stayed at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek to take part of their annual Cupcake Lovers Weekend. I have heard many wonderful things about this weekend full of cupcakes but still left wowed (and on a sugar coma). 
We stayed in a Deluxe King room with views of Disney. This marks my 6th stay at Bonnet Creek in the past 6 months. I love the convenience to Disney and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is attached to
Waldorf Astoria Orlando so you have multiple accommodation options. Since we had a 6 month long reservation at Le Cellier in Epcot for my Birthday Dinner, we did not get a chance to dine on site this time around. Although we ate enough cupcakes for a small army. 
After an early check-in, we headed down to the pool for an hour before the lightning set in. We watched the cupcake walk, the Ducktona 500 and various other activities that are part of Hilton's Summer Blast.
The Big Reveal is when all of Hilton Bonnet Creek's talented Pastry Chef's come out and present a giant cupcake filled with 2,000 amazingly decorated cupcakes. 
Servers from Harvest Bistro came around with tray after tray of cupcakes. I found myself with 4 at one time, they were all too cute that I couldn't pick just one. A few of my favorites were Cookie Monster, Minions, Mike Wazowski, Ice Cream Sundae, Doughnut and a pig in mud:
Following the big reveal, Gabe and I went to check out all the cakes on display, created by team members at Hilton & Waldorf Bonnet Creek. Guests voted on their favorite design. The cake I voted , Minions created by The Hilton & Waldorf Valet Team ended up winning!
Other fun cakes we saw:
Breakfast cake! Your eyes are not fooling you, this is cake. It was the most intricate of all of the cakes on display.
Candy Land! Loved loved loved this one. 
A giant cupcake and ice cream cones.
One of the many Jurassic World cakes on display.

We finally headed back to our room so we could get ready for the night. We had all intentions on enjoying a cupcake martini at Myth Bar. Within minutes of being in the room, room service stopped by. My friends at Hilton Bonnet Creek gave me a nice birthday surprise - build your own cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. Talk about knowing my favorite things!
Cupcake Lovers Weekend will be on our calendar of events for years to come. This was such a fun time and who could turn down 2,000 cupcakes?

Click here to see the rest of Hilton Bonnet Creeks Summer Blast programs. You can also follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay in the loop with upcoming events.