Friday, August 26, 2011


A good friend of mine is going to spend this weekend visiting Chicago with her hubby...what a lucky girl- I LOVE CHICAGO!!! Can you tell from these pictures it's been too long since I've been there? The last time I was there was in 2007...think it may be time to start thinking about when I can jet set to the wonderful windy city again!

On the Architectural Boat Tour...
Lake Michigan Shore...
At the Famous Bean at Millenium Park...

Lunch at Lou Malnati's...gotta have a deep dish!
Top of the Sears Tower...

Checking out Navy Pier...
Shopping and walking on Magnificent Mile...

Thursday, August 25, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I went out to dinner and was talking to a couple who just came back from a trip to the Pacific Northwest (Seattle, San Juan Islands and Vancouver). The destinations totally peaked my interest and made me want to do some research!
As I continue to help a client plan a family trip this fall, it is a trip that I am now suggesting to her. I wanted to share a snip-it of the itinerary I am putting together for them. They have a week off, which I think is a good amount of time to spend out there. I am suggesting to fly into Seattle, fly home out of Vancouver, and rent a car to drive to the ferry to get to the San Juan Islands. I am telling them to spend three nights in Seattle, two nights in the San Juan Islands, and three nights in Vancouver. And I am starting their trip off in Seattle.

In Seattle, I am suggesting for them to stay at the Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle. It's located in the South Lake Union neighborhood (a cool, trendy, up and coming spot with great restaurants) and it's a 15-minute walk to downtown. Doubles start at $200 per night. There are smaller, more boutique hotels, but I picked this one because the rooms are spacious and the amenities are great for a family.

Three nights in Seattle is definitely enough time to get a good feel for this city, so on the morning of day 4, it's time to rent a car and drive 80 miles north (about 2 hours) to the town of Anacortes where the ferry leaves for the San Juan Islands. (Note: The San Juan Islands made the NY Times' List of 41 Places To Go In 2011).

I would head to the biggest island- San Juan Island- and stay at the Roche Harbor Resort and Marina. I think this is a good home base because there is a lot to see and do on foot (some of the other islands you need a car to get around and they cater more to outdoor activities). From here they can catch the inter-island ferry to explore the 4 smaller and most popular islands (Orcas, Lopez, Shaw, and Cypress). There are more than 170 islands which make up the San Juan Islands. I picked Roche Harbor Resort not only because it's beautiful and historic, but also because they have village homes, town cottages or condos which are perfect for a family who wants to stay together.

To end out the trip, catch a flight from Seattle to Vancouver and that's where you'll end your vacation.

Stay at the Loden Vancouver- a boutique hotel that's contemporary and stylish without being trendy. Celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman have stayed here because it's unassuming, but REALLY nice!

I have a whole list of Jet Set Smart things to do and see as well as some great restaurants I am going to suggest to her and her family if this is the trip they decide to take. Jet Set Smart can help you plan your next vacation- contact us so you can start Jet Setting the Smart way!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


One of my all time favorite Celebrity Chefs (can you guess who?) recently celebrated her birthday in the Hamptons with her family, and these are the places where they dined. They are now on my list of places to check out the next time I jet set to the Hamptons.

Dave's Grill in Montauk (Their Clams Casino are supposed to be amazing!)

LT Burger in Sag Harbor (Try a burger, shake, fries and their Fried Pickles!)

Scoop Du Jour in East Hampton
Come here for the Dreesen's famous donuts. Go early though and get them fresh!

The American Hotel in Sag Harbor
The burgers are why you go here. It's served on an English muffin and is supposed to be delicious!

Did you guess which Celebrity Chef??? None other than Giada de Laurentiis of course! :-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


It's been a very long time since I have jet setted to London, but I am in the process of helping a client and her family book a trip in early October (destination-to-be-determined), and it's one of the places that came to mind. Why? London is huge, hip, very historic, and therefore always a fun place to jet set to. (It's also been on my radar ever since the Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton this summer! :-) Why in the the fall? Well because that's when prices drop a bit- you can go to London anytime because there really is no off-season, but the height of the tourist season there peaks in May, June and July- as do prices.

This morning I was browsing through some blogs and came across this stunningly beautiful luxury boutique hotel- The Blakes Hotel- voted one of the top 'Best and Hippest Hotels in the World'.

I couldn't resist posting these pictures of their rooms. They are each designed differently- so chic!

Rates start at $288 per night for double occupancy- pricey, but then again, it is London! Anyway, just a quick diversion as I continue my research for where my client and her family should go...stay tuned for more JSS ideas!

Monday, August 22, 2011


It's touted as Puerto Rico's best beach town- with emerald hills, crystal water and beautiful sunsets- I'm talking about Rincon, Puerto Rico. And for all of the times I had jet setted to Puerto Rico, I had never been to Rincon, that is until my last trip. I finally decided to go because I needed to know for myself, and for my jet setting clients, if this destination is worth it when visiting the island. So, I rented a car and drove the two and a half hours from San Juan to spend the day.

Rincon means corner in Spanish, and is an appropriate name for this town which is located on the Northwest corner of the island. At this corner, the Atlantic Ocean meets up with the Carribean Sea. There are more than 8 miles of beaches in Rincon, and all of them are public.

Rincon is not the type of resort destination that has one long strip of hotels, shops and restaurants- the feel here is much more intimate. Rincon is home to many of the best surfing beaches in Puerto Rico- so be aware that the water and tide can be be a bit rough. I would suggest coming to this side of the island if you like water sports and adventure. If you are looking for more relaxing beaches to just hang out on, then head here for the day like I did, and plan more of your trip in San Juan or other parts of the island that have more sand and less surf.

Downtown Rincon is a 240 year old quaint and very small town. Make sure to head to one of the local cafeterias for some cafe and delicious pastries.

Here is the church in the center of town- so picturesque.

While driving around to explore the different beaches, you'll find tons of fruit stands selling the best bananas and mangoes you will ever try.

The scenery is absolutely beautiful- the animals are hanging out and enjoying the chill lifestyle here.

Everything is so lush and green- everywhere you go, you are surrounded by huge palm trees and a stunning coast.

The Punta Higuero Lighthouse is a well known spot and symbolic of Rincon. The original one was built in 1893, but only lasted 28 years after it was destroyed by an earthquake. This one was built in 1921.

El Faro park surrounds the lighthouse. This is a popular spot for tourists, events, surfing and whale watching.

Today Rincon remains part of the "Undiscovered Caribbean," and I suggest discovering it if you are ever in Puerto Rico and are looking for a more chilled and relaxing vacation, or if you are a big surfer. I'm glad I finally decided to rent a car and explore more of this beautiful island. Rincon was a perfect day trip for me while I was staying in San Juan.
Puerto Rico has so much to offer, and that's why I go time and time again.

As always, remember to contact JSS for help booking your trip there!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


On my recent trip to Puerto Rico, I decided to stay at the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza (A Hilton property) in the Condado area. I had stayed at this hotel many, many years ago when it was under different ownership and was called the Condado Plaza Hotel. Back then, it was more of a casino-with rooms hotel, and I wanted to see what it was like now. From what I had read and heard, it was supposed to be just like the La Concha Resort (where I stayed the last time I jet setted to Puerto Rico), and so I had to find out if that was true before I recommend it to you jet setters. I have to say, my first impression from the outside wasn't the greatest; it looks like any standard hotel, nothing special.

The other thing I didn't like was that there is virtually no beach! What the hotel boasts as a beachfront property is actually a hotel located next to a small beach which is right off of the highway. It is also more like a lagoon than an actual beach...not what you want when you are jet setting to a Caribbean island for a beach vacation. There are two pools (one saltwater and the other with a swim-up bar and a fun slide) - I couldn't help but think this was done to perhaps make up for what lacks at the beach...but it does not!!!

I have to say, however, my impression somewhat changed when I walked into the lobby. It was bright, clean, and modernized- thanks to a $70 million dollar renovation that was completed in 2008.

The rooms are nice as well- done in various shades of deep red if you are staying in the ocean tower (where I stayed), and acid green in the lagoon tower. They are spacious, clean, and the beds are comfortable.
The hotel does have a couple of decent dining options: Pikayo- upscale Puerto Rican cuisine and Varita- a fun, casual spin on Puerto Rican barbecue. I did not try these restaurants this time, but have them on my list of places to checkout next time. Bottom line, I wasn't so impressed with the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, and would not recommend it to my clients. Yes, it's less expensive than La Concha, but I now know why. You may have to shell out a bit more, but at least you will be happy, and that is the Jet Set Smart way to travel!

Pros: Renovated in 2008, nice rooms, and the location (about 15 minutes from Old San Juan), means plenty of options for dining, sightseeing, activities and shopping.

Cons: Non-existent beach and not great pool scene, non-existent night life, extra taxes that are charged when you check out! No other Hilton property in Puerto Rico charges these taxes! BEWARE!!!