The ADENA sandal is a must have for destination weddings

With warm weather fast approaching and Spring break on the horizon, we would like to share two vacation must-have styles from the Isolá Spring 2013 collection. The ADAR is a standout style with exotic studded detailing and a subtle 1 inch wedge. This unique ankle strap sandal is available in three neutral colorways and is the perfect match for a bold patterned Spring look.

The ADENA sandal, a reigning favorite, has been reintroduced in new colors for Spring 2013. Available in five lust-worthy hues, this style features luxe metallic accents and a 3/4 inch gold plated heel for the perfect lift. The braided ankle wrap detail gives this Grecian thong an updated look. With both styles retailing for under $100, the ADAR and ADENA are both on trend and accessible. IsolaAdar IsolaAdena1

Come on ladies, you know you really want your feet to look beautiful under your dress on the beach and flip-flops just won’t do it.  These are stylish, comfortable and every time you wear them after your big day, you’ll relive the special moments again and again.

ADAR and ADENA are available now from www.isolashoes.com.

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Destination 101: The Hilton Waikoloa Village

Always a perfect tropical location, the Big Island (or any of the Hawaiian islands) is among dream destinations for couples. With so many hotel properties, how do you choose? I have a few hotels slated for this year in Hawaii, but I happen to think the Hilton Waikoloa property offers romance and an authentic Hawaiian experience in an unforgettable oceanfront setting.

Let’s visit the Hilton Waikoloa Village:

Can you tell me about your space, locations and opportunities for weddings?

Hilton Waikoloa Village is the premier wedding spot in Waikoloa Beach Resort on Hawaii’s Big Island. From the most picturesque sunset kisses set amid stunning oceanfront backdrops to perfectly prepared receptions with traditional Hawaiian entertainment and island-inspired, personalized dishes made completely from locally harvested ingredients, Hilton Waikoloa Villages and its Wedding Atelier Romance Specialists offers unlimited ways to make a couple’s special day the most memorable experience of their life.

The romance of old Hawaii lingers in the air as couples wed at Hale Aloha, the delicate wedding chapel structure with breathtaking ocean views through windows and doors that draw in the surrounding beauty and warm tropical breezes. Colorful tropical foliage and playful shadows welcome in the aura of romance and love. Fine Hawaiian workmanship can be seen through elegant stained glass, along with Kona wood furnishing and exquisite custom tiling.

Since the Kohala Coast receives on average nine inches of rain per year, outdoor weddings are a Hilton Waikoloa Village specialty. Venues include the Palace Garden which overlooks Waiulua Bay, making it a perfect location for a sunset wedding with the sun slowly disappearing into the sparkling waves or the Grand Staircase, a great covered yet open-air space overlooking the ocean-fed lagoon and waterfall.

Are there extremely busy times of year you’re seeing brides?

Although Hilton Waikoloa Village welcomes weddings year round, the most popular times tend to be between June and August.

What are the best/signature experiences can a wedding party expect – or most importantly, if a couple is looking for a venue, why would they choose your space vs. another venue?

Spectacular wedding venues are accompanied by exclusive, affordable wedding packages to meet every couples needs. A complete wedding experience is at hand with multiple packages to choose from that include everything from choice of resort ground locations for ceremony, a non-denominational minister, two-tier wedding cake, floral leis, bouquet arrangement, guitarist, photographer and videographer, private fire dancer or hula troop presentation, “just married” boat ride, and many other options. The on-site Wedding Atelier coordinates all facets of this once-in-a-lifetime event through all vendors conveniently located at the resort.


Tell me about the catering, bridal suite, adventures and anything else you want to share with a bride.

As Hilton Waikoloa Village is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, wedding party’s have the added bonus of exploring one of the most exotic and romantic destinations in the world. Whether it is a romantic getaway or an adventure of a lifetime, the Big Island delivers unforgettable experiences. A few of the most popular and exhilarating activities of The Big Island include jumping off an old wooden bridge set on breathtaking cliffs of the Pacific Ocean, at Ka Lae – the southernmost point in the United States; hiking through lava fields on the rim and in the crater of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano that has been continually erupting since 1983; and discovering some of the world’s rarest life forms as 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones are found on the Big Island, and the land is host to 1,660 species of flowering plants and 45 species of birds found nowhere else on Earth.

To book a wedding or honeymoon at Hilton Waikoloa Village or for more information visit www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com or call 1-800-HILTONS. Just something to think about, hotels like the Hilton are great because they offer “rewards/miles” as do their airline partners. Keep the little things like this in mind when you’re looking at the major hotel properties. Those points can give you a free meal, spa treatment or bottle of champagne.

Destination 101: Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa Fla.

Last week there was a big buzz about the bullying attack on grandmother and bus monitor Karen Klein. I mean this poor woman was just trying to keep these kids safe, and they thought it funny to be mean to her.  Because of her kindness and forgiveness (better woman than I) the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa has offered Klein a luxurious, week-long vacation to recuperate from her harrowing experience.

Sometimes when you’re planning your wedding, you may feel the same way.  Trying to pick a dress, a fiancée who doesn’t seem to be interested, bridesmaids not wanting to wear what you’ve picked out and let’s not begin with the mother-in-law issues.  Well, planning your wedding or honeymoon shouldn’t have you stressed out and feeling like you’re being bullied too. Let The Hilton Sandestin help you plan your wedding.  They have ceremonies on white sandy beaches near the emerald-green waters creating an elegant, black-tie affair.  The all-inclusive resort has six restaurants, luxury spa, fitness center, four golf courses, 16 tennis courts and you know what, something for everyone.

So take the stress out of your planning and let the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa help make your day.

12-12-12 weddings are still available at El Conquistador

I’ve just returned from a magical trip to Puerto Rico and visited some of the best hotel properties the island has to offer.  Of course, one of my favorite properties is El Conquistador Resort.  Let me tell you this is one of the closest ‘all-inclusive’ type properties there is on the island of Puerto Rico.  While there (and there is so much more I have to share with you) I found out about a great 12/12/12 offer they have for couples, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

In celebration of this year’s triple digit repeating date – the last until the year 2101 – Hilton Worldwide properties in Puerto Rico are offering special options for couples planning12/12/12 nuptials.

Dream destination weddings are now more affordable than ever on the tropical Island of Enchantment – where no passport is required for travel by U.S. Citizens – with 12/12/12 wedding specials available.

El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is celebrating 12/12/12 with an over-the-top “Love in the Sun” package, available to wedding parties booking 12 or more rooms, and including exciting options for brides- and grooms- to-be.  With a savings of $2,012, the package includes an officiate, one hour of photography, one hour of live music and the choice of several incredible ceremony venues, including the 100-acre, private Palomino Island.  The package also includes 12 Coqui Water Park passes (one per room), 12 welcome drink vouchers (one per room), 12 deluxe ocean view upgrades, 12 fitness center passes to the renowned Golden Door Spa (one per room) and complimentary champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries for the new Mr. and Mrs.  This exclusive package is $5,000 and is valid for weddings celebrated the week of December 9-12, 2012.  Package rate does not include accommodation.  El Conquistador Resort’s nightly rates start at $199 per room per night based on double occupancy.

After the wedding is over, couples can leave wedding guests behind and immediately begin their honeymoon with an escape to the cliff-side Las Casitas Village, A Waldorf Astoria Resort – El Conquistador Resort’s award-winning neighbor.  With sweeping ocean views, full kitchen facilities, 24-hour butler service, private dining options and a breathtaking infinity pool, Las Casitas Village is ideal for couples seeking an unforgettable 12/12/12 honeymoon retreat.

I promise you, you will absolutely love the wedding staff, the food, their private island…off the property (the boat ride is not only romantic, but once you get on the island, it’s like…your own) or be a kid at the water park.  This is one property I promise will make all your wedding dreams come true.

For more information, call 1-888-564-1307 or visit www.elconresort.com, www.lascasitasvillage.com.

Destination: St. Lucia’s Ladera Resort for your open-air honeymoon

Take me away....

Ladera Resort, the legendary St. Lucia hotel known for its pioneering open-air architecture, luxury hospitality and eco-friendly practices at 1,100 feet above the Caribbean Sea, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary Year in 2012 by launching an exciting new offer that generously gives back to its guests.

So here’s something special for the first 1,100 people (or 550 couples) who book a Hilltop Dream Suite or Luxury Villa under the new “Anniversary Package”. With this promotion, you will receive all of meals, every day during their stay, at no extra charge. The offer includes breakfast, lunch and dinner at Ladera’s legendary restaurant Dasheene, one of the Caribbean’s most highly regarded tables known for its innovative West Indian cuisine, unobstructed views of the sunset and the Piton Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A selection of beverages with meals are included. The offer applies to new bookings only and is based on a five-night minimum stay reserved at the regular published rates. The offer is valid on direct bookings made on Ladera.com when mentioning the promotional code 20ANNIV for stays taking place now through December 21, 2012. It is not combinable with other special offers.

“Throughout this special Anniversary Year, we’re taking the extra step to recognize, and thank, our new and returning guests,” says Olivier Bottois, Ladera’s Vice President of Marketing & Operations. “This is our gift in return for two decades of astounding success and hotel leadership in St. Lucia.”

Since opening two decades ago, Ladera has become the top Caribbean haven for celebrities, honeymooners and trendsetters. The resort pioneered the concept of the open-air, three-walled guest suite that remains the signature design of Ladera and which has become a ubiquitous style, now de rigueur at resorts throughout Saint Lucia.

To book the special Anniversary Package and please visit www.ladera.com and the direct booking page and enter the promotional code 20ANNIV. Refer to the website for full terms and any restrictions that may apply. To reach the hotel directly call 866-290-0978

Wine Wednesday: Puerto Rican Cuisine, a Fusion of cultures and continents

Did you know that the cuisine of Puerto Rico is a fusion of European, Afro-Caribbean and Latin American cultures?  It has such a unique style, indigenous seasonings and uses ingredients such as coriander, papaya, cacao, plantains just to name a few.  There is also a Creole flavor that was traced back to 1493 because of the use of corn, beef, pork and rice.

African slaves brought to the island at that time, introduced sugar cane, okra and other flavors. It is the perfect blend of all these flavors and cultures that makes the food of Puerto Rico so unique and oh, so good!

Of course if you know nothing about the food of the island, you do know it’s drink is Rum. Bacardi (the most popular), Don Q, Ron Rico, Barrilito and Ron Llave are all brands that can be found on the island (and most in your neighborhood) and are used to create some amazing cocktails.

For me there is nothing better than great empañadillas (turnovers filled with lobster, crab or beef), chorizo (Spanish sausage) and of course arroz con pollo (chicken with rice). Are ya hungry yet? If you decide to have your wedding in Puerto Rico, I would suggest that you have a lechon asado (barbecued pig) and other island favorites.  It will create a true Puerto Rican festive feel and your guests will love it.

Making Empanadillas Makes 12 empanadillas.

“Baked or fried?” is the question. Traditional Puerto Rican empanadillas are fried, period. But if I make these at home, I often opt for the baked version as a healthier and easier alternative.

Once you’ve made these choices you are ready to make empanadillas. If you make a large batch, prepare them to step 5. Assemble them in a flat container with waxed paper in between each empanadilla, cover and freeze. When you are ready to bake or fry, simply take them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven/fryer.

Empanadillas
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup of ketchup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1 hard boiled egg, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
12 empanadilla pastry disks, thawed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion, pepper, garlic, and meat. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Drain the fat and add the ketchup, cumin, olives, raisins, and boiled egg. Cook for another 5 minutes until well incorporated. Remove pan from the stove. Add cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

4. Prepare your work surface to assemble the empanadillas by having the following handy: empanadilla pastry disks, baking sheet, fork, bowl of water, and the cooled filling.

5. Place a disk on your work surface and add 2 to 3 tablespoons filling. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle. Crimp the edge with a fork, turn over and crimp the edges with a fork again. Set the empanadilla in the cookie sheet and repeat.

6. Brush the empanadillas with oil and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

If you’re making these at home, of course Rum or your favorite frosty beer will bring the flavor of the island into your home one bite at a time.

Puerto Rico Does it better for destination weddings

If thoughts now are toward a warmer location, with friendly people, amazing cuisine, great beaches and just a short flight from any east coast airport, Puerto Rico should come to mind. It’s not only a great weekend trip for your girl or guys weekend, it’s a wonderful destination wedding location.

No one does it better - Puerto Rico

Puerto Rio has so much to offer, especially as the gateway to the Caribbean.  San Juan is the capital and a unique blend of old and new flavor. The only walled city in the Caribbean is also one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean. With four fortresses from the Spanish Colonial Empire, cobblestone streets and tons of historic sites dating from the 17th and 18th century, your wedding photos will have an automatic romantic and classic feel.

The El Yunque Rainforest. This is magical and the only tropical rainforest recognized in the OS Forest System. The island’s oldest natural wonder is the Camuy Caves. This location has one of the longest underground river systems in the world, and offers a site for truly unique wedding photographs. Finally, there is the Arecibo Observatory. This is the largest radar telescope in the world and a perfect place if you wanted to make sure your wedding is under the stars.

Because it’s a US common wealth, you don’t need a passport and while Spanish is the national language, English is spoken by just about everyone.  What makes it totally delightful; the average temperature is 82 degrees.  With 272 miles of coastline, over 300 beaches, 26 championship golf courses, 37 Unique Zip lines, 12 waterfalls, a bioluminescent bay (SO COOL, everything glows!!) gaming tables, world-class restaurants and of course spas, there is always something to do. So if you decide to get married or honeymoon in Old San Juan, Ponce or San German, you’ll love the food, beauty, culture and exquisite photo opportunities. No one does it better than Puerto Rico so discover, explore and create your own memories.

There are tons of hotels and you can find one in your price range.  From uber luxury to family –friendly, there is something for you.

The Intercontinental Hotel – close to the airport and beach. There is day care and activity center with supervised activities for children between 4-12

The Caribe Hilton is in the heart of San Juan. Children under 18 stay free and the hotel not only has two swimming pools, there is a 17-acre tropical park and private beach.  Children under 5 eat for free.

Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa Iguana Club offers a “Iguana Kids Club for kids.  So they can enjoy everything from sand castle building, scavenger hunts to sailing lessons and dance classes.

Waldorf Astoria El Conquistador Resort & Golden Spa has things for children and teens to enjoy including their own Water Park, golf clinics and rainforest exploration. Honestly, this is my FAVORITE resort and their private island…just 7 minutes by boat from the hotel is the perfect location for your own ‘private island’ wedding.

No matter what your religion, Puerto Rico has synagogues or a church to accommodate your faith.  If it’s the spa’s, championship golf, or walking along the beach at night, there is something that will make you happy.  The food, drink and people are all warm and inviting and there are deals on it all.  Honestly, no one does it better than Puerto Rico.