Jet Set: Miami

Here on the fourth floor, we love to make the most of our
weekends. Whether it’s a staycation in the Big Smoke or weekend getaways, we’re
always up to discover new things to do. We recently jetted off to Miami (a three-hour flight away) and loved every minute of it. We put together a list
of what to do, where to stay and where to eat (plus a few helpful ‘what to
avoid’ tips). If you haven’t got plans yet for Family Day weekend, this is an awesome and easy trip to take last-minute.


Where to stay:

The Delano
Hotel
(1685 Collins Ave.)

This gorgeous urban oasis is located in South Beach and has
everything a vacation goer could dream of. Styled with
Alice in Wonderland in
mind, the decor includes whimsical touches, high ceilings and a beautiful pool to
lie by (known as the
Orchard).
Rooms start at $450 a night, and go up (way up). The hotel comes complete with a dance club (
FDR),
fine dining (
Bianca
and
UMI)
and its very own Vegas-style pool party every Sunday. 

Obviously, this hotel isn’t for vacationers on a budget. If you’re
looking to splurge on other areas of your trip, consider staying on Ocean Avenue
in the
Beacon Hotel. This
accommodation provides free breakfast (waffles, eggs, pancakes!) and 2-for-1
drink specials.
Soho Beach House
(4385 Collins Ave.)

This spot is ah-mazing. Although Soho House is a private club,
the hotel can be booked by guests. Lucky. The service is impeccable, the beds
are what dreams are made of and you’re just steps away from a glorious pool and the
ocean. Sitting by the ocean in the big comfortable chairs, drinking cocktails
and being served chips and guac makes all your worries go away. The beach team
will get you sunscreen, fluffy towels, food, magazines, whatever else you need.


Where to eat:

Prime One Twelve (101 Ocean Dr.)

Known as Kim Kardashian’s
favourite Miami restaurant (and located across the street from The
Hilton Bentley
home to Kourtney and Khloe when they “took” Miami), this
steak house still has us drooling over their dishes. Our favourites were the
Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna Tartare w/ Cassava and the 8 oz. Filet Mignon. Be sure
to make a reservation in advance and go early to enjoy their selection of
cocktails.  


Cecconi’s
(Soho House, 4385 Collins Ave.)

This restaurant is an
onsite favourite spot among locals. At night, it sparkles with little lights and is has an outdoor garden. On Sundays, Cecconi’s serves the ‘feast’
 – one of the
most spectacular presentations we’ve ever seen – a brunch with made-to-order omelettes, Parmesan chunks, big beefy shrimp, fresh juices and just about anything else
your heart desires. There are too many things to talk about with this property,
so here
is a great Toronto Star article that sums it up. Check it out. 


Mandolin (4312
NE 2nd Ave.)

Be sure to visit this Aegean Bistro called Mandolin. Its lovely outdoor
garden feels like you’ve stepped into a perfect little spot on a Greek
island. Definitely try the Turkish sampler, the grilled octopus and the
moussaka. It 
also helps to wash it all down with some delicious Spanish cava.
Yardbird (1600 Lenox
Ave.)

Named one of 50 Best New Restaurants in the US by Bon Appetit in 2012, you’ll want to call ahead for reservations. The cocktails are strong, the food
is rich and the crowd is loud. Eat: the fried green BLT and the fried chicken.
Drink: Bourbon (we tried the Southern Revival).
What to do:

Daytime:

The best pastime in South Beach, is well, the beach! The
water is warm, the people-watching is excellent and the sand is white. Pack a
cooler, bring a portable iPod dock and sunscreen and relax! 


Drinks:

Grab a drink on the rooftop of the Perry Hotel, before
heading out for the night. The rooftop has beautiful views of the city
accompanied by sounds of crashing waves below.


Night time:

If you’re up for drinks and dancing be sure to check out
Wall at the W Hotel. This intimate club has a nice atmosphere, great music and
a beautiful pool outside if you need to escape for some fresh air. 

Where to avoid:

If you’re looking to have conversation or a romantic dinner, avoid Nobu Miami. Amazing food and
service, however, the atmosphere is unlike other Nobu locations and is more
family friendly (read: loud and busy).

Nikki Beach, Miami. This dated venue does not live up to the hype. Plus, there’s no pool.

Mansion Night club. Don’t. Just don’t.

JetSet: Puerto Rico

With winter weather setting in, we decided to head somewhere with sun, sand and surf. While all-inclusives are always fun, relaxing and easy, we wanted to try something different, so we booked a flight, hotel and car and jetted off to Puerto Rico.


If you’re like us, you don’t actually know much about this tiny Caribbean island other than that it’s where you flew into for your family cruise, so here’s a quick lesson: Puerto Rico is an “unincorporated territory of the United States“, meaning you can use American money and almost everyone speaks fluent English. It’s located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic, and the best part? You can drive from one end of the island to the other in only a few hours. 


Here are some of our favourite island hotels, restaurants and activities:


Old San Juan.



Where to stay:


We suggest starting your trip in the capital, San Juan. Old San Juan is absolutely breathtaking with colourful houses and store fronts lining the cobblestone streets. While there is no shortage of huge hotel chains, we’d suggest trying something a little different. Villa Herencia is a small, eclectic boutique hotel located half a block from the ocean in Old San Juan. If you’re looking to splurge, we suggest checking out El Convento next door, which is a converted convent complete with a rooftop pool and a beautiful courtyard. 


El Convento.



After spending a night in Old San Juan head over to La Concha Resort in Condado (also a sister hotel of El Convento). Condado is like the Miami of Puerto Rico, with luxurious hotels and restaurants lining the beach. If you’re looking for fun nightlife and a beachfront hotel, this is your place. 

Last but definitely not least, we suggest driving a couple hours west, where you’ll hit Isabela. There you’ll find Villa Montana, an idyllic little beach resort on the ocean. With old plantation-style villas and a restaurant that rivals any five-star here, Villa Montana is definitely worth checking out – we could have eaten their caramelized banana pancakes for days!


Eclipse Restaurant at Villa Montana.

Where to eat:

One of our favourite little roadside restaurants (just up the street from Villa Montana) was Ola Lola’s Garden Bar. Owned by a lovely American couple, the delicious food (insane burgers) is cooked right in the couple’s home next door. A popular “gringo” (foreigner) hang-out, the lights and open-air concept make for a pretty dreamy setting. 

Ola Lola’s Garden Bar. 
Just west of Isabela is Rincon, a haven for surfers and tourists. If you’re looking for a meal with a view, head no further. We tried Tamboo Tavern, one of many beachfront restaurants in this great little town and loved their “tostones” – essentially, plantain fries (very popular in Puerto Rico). 
Tamboo Tavern.
Back in San Juan, head to La Mallorca for delicious cafe con leche and the famous “mallorca con jamon y queso”, a pressed sandwich dusted with powdered sugar. For dinner, check out one of San Juan’s famous “OOF!” restaurants including Aguaviva,The Parrot Club, Dragon Fly, Toro Salao or Pina Colada, all great options for dinner and drinks. 
What to do:

Whether you’re into surfing, snorkeling or suntanning, Puerto Rico has something for everyone; they even have a world-famous rainforest called El Yunque, right outside of San Juan. 

El Yunque.
For great beaches and snorkeling outside of San Juan, we suggest heading to Aguadilla, Isabela or Rincon on the west coast, or heading east for a day trip to the little island of Culebra (Spanish Virgin Islands), just off of Puerto Rico, where you will find white sand and turquoise water. 

Culebra.
While you can definitely catch some waves in San Juan, most people head west to Aguadilla and Rincon for great surf. Adventurers will love some of the off-the-beaten-track surf beaches found there, especially because they never seem to be too crowded.
Rincon.

If you’ve never considered Puerto Rico for a trip, we hope we’ve highlighted some reasons you should check it out. It’s the perfect, easy way to vacation in the Caribbean.



JetSet: New Zealand

This post, we’re taking you Down Under. Nope, not Australia. Go east and you’ll hit New Zealand – one of our favourite trips ever! When you think of this pair of islands (yep, it’s a pair of islands), you probably picture huge herds of sheep and Hobbits roaming the hills, but this stunning country
is so much more than that. New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world: mountains, glaciers
and oceans, that offer some fantastic tourist attractions. With no lack of opportunities for adventure,
here are a few of the must-do’s while visiting
The Land of the Long White Cloud.

For a little bit of
culture:
Take in some culture in Rotorua and spend a night learning about the Maori, the first people to arrive in NZ. You can spend an evening at a
hangi, a traditional Maori dinner where the food is cooked underground. You can watch a show and embarrass yourself while learning to dance the haka, the traditional war dance of the Maori people.


A Maori “Hello”.
Image Source

For the sports lover:
Wellington is home to the Westpac Stadium. 
It’s a great spot to catch a cricket match and the atmosphere at the stadium is always intense and crazy. Hardcore fans don’t give a second thought
about spending eight hours or more watching a match. Be prepared to watch the sun go down while
the game is still in full swing. Obvious insert: lots of beer is flowing and the fans are rowdy! Or if you’re lucky enough to score tickets, watch the All Blacks 
in action, NZ’s world-famous rugby team. Make sure to get there plenty early – you don’t want to miss their intimidating performance of the haka, their routine before every game.

The mighty All-Blacks logo.
Image Source

For the brave:
Once you’ve crossed the Cook Strait via ferry and have arrived
on the South Island, you need to get yourself to Queenstown, the world’s adventure
capital; basically a thrill seeker’s dream come true. If you’re more on the tame side,
you will either want to rustle up some courage, or find a nice spot to watch from
the sidelines. This beautiful city will
have you strategically timing your meals, because there’s no lack of attractions
here that won’t make you lose your lunch.

Crossing the Cook Strait.
Image Source
Queenstown is the home of the world’s very first bungee jump and offers
some crazy adventures like the
Nevis Bungee (134 metres high) and the Nevis Canyon Swing, the world’s tallest swing.

Gorgeous Queenstown.
Image Source


If
you’re not a fan of potentially plummeting to your death, you can go whitewater
rafting in the Shotover River. A wickedly fun time that will have you laughing
so hard it will take a bit of the edge off the fear.
Zorbing is a little less risky but just as fun. Basically, you jump into a huge plastic ball
filled with water and you roll down a hill. 
Yes, we know it sounds kinda odd, but it’s totally awesome!

The Zorb. Look how fun that is.
Image Source

For the athlete: If
you’ve been going to the gym on the regular, a climb up Franz Josef Glacier is
an awesome experience. During the climb,
you will definitely be questioning your fitness level and swearing under your
breath at the guide who tells you to hurry up. But once at the top, the view is worth the intense, literal pain in your butt.


Who woulda thought – a glacier in New Zealand?
Image Source

For the fantasy
lover:
 There is a cool Lord of the Rings tour (wink, wink Natalie), but the Waitomo Caves are pretty rad and fairly easily conquered if you
don’t mind the dark and the cold. This is a great option if you’re
not one who wants to see your life flash before your eyes. Here, you can go underground
to do some cave tubing and see the famous glow worms.

Yes – it actually looks like this.
Image Source

To escape: If you
want a laid back and beautiful experience, you need to head down to
Milford Sound and take an overnight cruise, where you can lie under the stars at night
and see some amazing wildlife during the day. You’ll see your share of dolphins, penguins and fur seals.

Above: Beautiful Milford Sound

Below: Teeny penguins, just hangin’ out


If you ever get the chance to head to this breathtaking country, take it. You’ll leave with some amazing experiences and maybe a
couple of bruises, but you could discover your inner dare-devil and your weakness
for a great accent.

JetSet: NYC

A few of us have been travelling quite a bit lately, so thought it would be fun to introduce a new blog category called JetSet. We’ll share our tips, ideas and insider info about restaurants, hotels, bars, attractions and anything else awesome we stumble across in our journeys!


When a Porter seat sale comes through our inboxes, we like to take advantage. One of our favourite weekend jaunts is to the Big Apple. New York City is just a short flight away, and there’s always something to do, plenty to eat and endless sales to check out. It was genuinely hard to narrow it down to a few, but here are some of our fave places to stop by while in the city that never sleeps. 

Where to eat
If you’re in Brooklyn and have a sweet tooth, we highly recommend you swing by DOUGH –
a doughnut shop with delicious, fresh creations including nutella, lemon meringue and hibiscus.


Café Cluny  in the West Village is a great place to stop in when you need a break between Maje and BookMarc. The cute French café/bistro is great for a light lunch or a glass of wine. Bonus: on occasion you can spot some celebs grabbing a bite. 


If you’re like us, food always tastes more delicious when it’s a little bit hidden, and totally unexpected. You know, like Mexican food from a basement restaurant marked only with Vietnamese signs in a Chinatown alley. Sounds random, but Pulqueria is all that and more. Be sure to call ahead for a reservation. Their taco selection and margarita pitchers, not to mention their tower of salsas, make this an awesome spot to have dinner with friends. 

Expect the unexpected in NYC.

Rosemary’s, also in the West Village, has a slightly higher price point, but delicious Italian food (with ingredients from their rooftop garden!) and a good vibe. Be sure to start your meal off with prosecco, for the true Italian touch.


Where to party
Le Baron is the NY incarnation of the Parisan hotspot, located in Chinatown. It boasts three floors and has banned photography (sorry, no instagramming) – but you can tweet at them here: @LeBaronNYC.

To get into the ever-popular Jane Hotel, be sure to make a reso or get on the
guest list. Otherwise you risk being among the masses huddled outside – consider yourself warned.


Swanky hot spot, The Jane.

Honourable mentions go to the Boom Boom Room at the Standard Hoteland if you’re a member, Soho House for poolside drinks and dinner. 
Where to shop
While Soho
is always a fun place for wandering, we recommend going on a weekday if possible, as weekends are a bit crazy. A few good starting points are Barney’s Co-Op, Neiman Marcus and the TopShop on Broadway to check out the sales. 

When in Brooklyn, stopping by Catbird is a must. Their adorable housewares, including an in-house line of candles, and beautifully curated jewellery makes this tiny shop a must-visit every time we’re in NY. 


For clothing, Bird in Brooklyn (no relation to Catbird) carries some great lines and does a great job editing which pieces are carried in-store. 


We highly recommend spending some quality time at Stella
Dallas
 a wonderful vintage store in Williamsburg. Bonus – there’s a houseware
store right beside it which is pretty neat, especially if you’re in the market for unique linens or blankets. 

There’s a reason we can go back to New York again and again and again, it’s because the city has endless things to offer. These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg, so don’t be surprised to see us update you with our newest NYC discoveries. 

JetSet: Los Angeles

A few of us have been travelling quite a bit lately, so thought it would be fun to introduce a new blog category called JetSet. We’ll share our tips, ideas and insider info about restaurants, hotels, bars, attractions and anything else awesome we stumble across in our journeys!


Itching for a
quick weekend getaway? In our first JetSet post (!), we suggest taking off to LA
for a 
quick three-four day getaway. Read up on some amazing things to check out while in the City of Angels.


Where to stay:

The Palihouse
(8465 Holloway Drive) is an ‘urban lodge’ that offers guests suites, residences
and loft spaces to choose from, which makes it perfect to stay in if you’re in LA for more
than just a weekend, too.  Each room is
oversized and offers an apartment feel, complete with kitchenette. The central
location, amenities and dining make this cozy spot a perfect alternative to a
traditional hotel.


Where to eat:

Gjlena
(1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard,
Venice Beach)
The relaxed atmosphere, extensive menu and BYOB set up make
this a LA staple for locals, celebrities and tourists alike (so be sure to make
reservations ahead of time). Portions are small and meant to be shared, be sure you choose a
dish from each category (oysters, charcuterie and cheese, vegetable, salad,
pizza, small plate, plates and dessert).

TIP: There are no food modifications, so if you’re allergic
to a specific ingredient, gotta plan ahead.


What to do:

Daytime:

·        Grab
brunch at
GRUB
(911 Seward Street) for amazing food, homemade gingerale (read: perfect
hangover cure) and tasty cocktails.

·        
Spend
the day at the
Santa Monica beach with a visit to the pier. Grab a
beer and guacamole at
Marisol Mexican Restaurant.

·        
Hit
Jet Rag’s Sunday $1 vintage sale to rummage
for finds.

·        
On
Sundays check out
Drai’s pool party at the W.

·        
Shop
and dine at
Fred Segal and Fred
Segal cafe

·        Go
shopping at
FashionPhile, a designer handbag consignment shop with
killer prices.

·        Go
for a hike or run in
Runyon Canyon. Be sure to wear runners and your
LuLus because the hills are steep! Be prepared for amazing views of the
Hollywood Hills and celebs working out.

Drinks:

Be clichéd and enjoy a drink at Chateau Marmont. It’s well worth it.

Hotel Erwin, a
boutique hotel in Venice Beach, with stunning views of the ocean is the perfect
place to enjoy a drink with a view.
Night time:

For an LA experience and beautiful views of West
Hollywood, check out
Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel (8440 Sunset Boulevard). 

For live music and a less pretenscious experience,
check out
Harvard and
Stone
(5221 Hollywood Blvd), decorated to be a Prohibition era-style bar. Known to be a favorite of Kristen Stewart, the bar features a burlesque
show that takes place every hour.