Category Archives: Travel

Snowcation: Salamander Resort & Spa

It seems like just yesterday I was buried in the blizzard up in DC and now I write to you from sunny Florida where I have headed back home for 2016.

I am so excited to be back and share with you all about my #snowcation to the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia (just an hour outside of DC). I was lucky enough to get a hard hat tour of this amazing 5 start resort a few years back for my old job but I was beyond blown away with my stay last month and it was the perfect way to relax and recharge before I headed back South for my big move after 11 years away!

This luxury resort is set on 340 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and perfectly positioned in Virginia’s famed horse country and beautiful vineyards. They boast a spa, cooking studio, billards room, wine bar and an array of other dining and outdoor acitivites. It was also named in the top 10 best resorts in the South by Condé Nast Traveler (and yours truly).

Of course, it would not be a trip without my traveling partner in crime & fellow Floridian, Cori Sue of Bitches Who Brunch. We dug ourselves out of the snow, packed all the essential winter gear we owned (hey! I wasn’t going to get to wear this for awhile) and hopped in a car (read: uber) out to the Virginia countryside to escape our cabin fever and enjoy one last girls trip before I would be a plane ride away vs. an uber away. If you followed along on snapchat (bannc) and instagram (@bannc), you know we had too much fun and share our moments along the way.

{Outfit Deets: Pom Hat (on SALE!) // Puffer Vest (on SALE!) // Sweater (on SALE!) // Leggings // Sunnies (similar here) // Socks (on SALE!) // Bean Boots // Jewels // Lips (fanfare)} 

We checked into our rooms, which were nothing short of perfection – equestrian details, personalized welcome notes on each tv screen, a bathtub I wanted to take home (more on that later) and of course, a lovely bottle of vino awaiting each of us. No detail was left unnoticed and if you know me, you know this is what matters most. You really feel like you’re inside an old Virginia home and the staff could not be more friendly or accommodating too.

After we settled into our rooms, we hopped downstairs to enjoy lunch at Gold Cup. Two hungry girls quickly filled up on burrata, salads and the delicious garlic fries plus plenty of sparkling water and diet coke (for yours truly). We also had the loveliest view of the winter wonderland that took over the resort and then Cori Sue got to work (#workcation for her) and I headed to the Spa for the first time (naturally) for an express facial. I don’t think my skin has ever looked better than those 24 hours.

Before heading to dinner that evening, we were spoiled at Boxwood Winery. The Salamander has several partnership with local vineyards and wineries in the area and can accommodate your travels to them as well. Boxwood set up a private after-hours tasting for Cori Sue and I with Rachel. They specialize in reds (perfect for the cold weather) but also have a lovely rosé and the most beautiful bottle labels I’ve ever seen.

After trotting through the snow and a lovely happy hour of wine + tour, we left with two bottles and headed to dinner back at Gold Cup Bar but this time, for sushi (and yes, more wine).

{Dinner Outfit: Jeans (on SALE!) // Sweater (on SALE here too!) // Pumps (on SALE!) // Tassel Earrings // Lips (capricious)}


Toasting: October Fall Looks

So, October is my favorite. No, really. And what’s more so my favorite is all the fall wardrobe options that October brings.

I shared some of my picks last week but after packing in “all things Fall” over the weekend, I’m sharing two looks today that you can layer and wear all season long. What I also love about these two is that you can mix and match and swap them out with the various staples below. What’s even better? Many of these items are 25% OFF through Thursday with J.CREW’s Fall Sale

I spent Saturday at my friend’s farm in Pennsylvania, which was like a page out of Town & Country magazine and a gorgeous day. We explored the grounds, fed the horses, had delicious food, a bonfire, played cornhole and of course, enjoyed spiked cider and wine.

{Flannel Shirt (25% OFF)// Quilted Vest (25% OFF) // Floppy Hat (similar option here) // Sunnies // Jeans // Boots // Crossbody //Jacket (not pictured) // Earrings // Ring // Necklaces: 1 & 2 // Bracelets: 1 & 2 //}

You can also shop the look below!

Sunday, I spent the afternoon (c/o* Reston Limo) at Stone Tower Winery (c/o*) & Greenhill Winery with some of my favorite bloggers. We tasted, tasted some more and enjoyed cheese galore while taking in the gorgeous Virginia vineyard views.


Charleston Trip Recap

Today I’m back with a recap of my Charleston trip this past summer – my last trip to share with you while I was away on my hiatus. While we were certainly all in our summer’s best, all of these hotels, restaurants and activities are perfect for a Charleston trip any time of the year.

This trip was for the Southern Blog Society annual conference and I was so lucky to attend this year again. Luckily it was in Charleston – one of my favorite cities in this world! (if you haven’t read my sister’s Bachelorette recap series – please do.)

I was also so excited to be traveling with some of my favorite blogger BFFs, Emily from Life with Emily, Ashley from Turquoise and Teale and Jenny from Boho Style File.

I landed and we checked into the charming & historic Mills House in downtown Charleston. We were greeted by the sweetest staff and bottles of vino in our gorgeous hotel room which overlooked the city.

The Mills House is everything Charleston – its pink exterior is enough to make any instagrammer pose out front for a photo (which all of us bloggers did, shocker). The four of us were hosted by welcoming and the most accommodating staff all weekend long. We had coffee at our door each morning and amazing bacon-cheese chips to munch on before heading out each evening.

Also, if you can imagine the amount of bags that 4 bloggers travel with for one weekend – our room was quite the sight to see (including our new matching weekenders from Barrington Gifts).


{Barrington Gifts: Belmont Cabin Bag c/o}

After we unpacked, Jenny and I then headed on over to Tease for the best blowouts in this world (see more about Tease here) and quickly met up with the other ladies to tour a few local showrooms. We stopped into meet the girls from Escapada Living and do some shopping and then over to II Brunettes to check out their adorable boutique too.

The first night of the conference was spent mingling and cocktail-ing on the rooftop terrace of Charleston Place. We caught up with our fellow southern bloggers from all over.

Below is what I wore with some similar options linked! I loved this little jumpsuit. After cocktails, we headed with group to dinner at Indaco – which is surely a new favorite. I’m told the pizzas were delicious (#glutenfreeproblems) and so was the wine (I can attest to that)!

{Jumpsuit: similar here, here & here // Sunnies // Sandals: similar here // Purse: similar here}

Saturday began super early as the four of us shared one bathroom, matching PJs (see below) and 500 beauty products to get the day started.

{PJs: Lake Pajamas c/o}


36 Hours in Charlottesville

The summer has surely flown by quickly! Life has been a little busy for me lately but I’m finally back to recap a few of my summer trips.

For all my DC/Virginia area readers – this Charlottesville trip is a perfect getaway for you and super easy to plan with my guide below. If you haven’t visited this gorgeous town full of scenic views and vineyards – I highly suggest you make it your next roadtrip.  I was lucky enough to be hosted twice this summer in Charlottesville – once for a girls weekend with my sister and a few weeks later over the 4th of July for a blogger trip (Heather joined me as well!).

{Sandals: Jack Rogers Lauren + Jack Rogers Lilliana (ON SALE) + Jack Rogers}

Where to Stay: Oakhurst Inn

This charming boutique Inn has modern guest rooms, luxury beauty products and the friendliest staff. The guest rooms are in historic Virginia homes and have a library on each floor – perfect for working remotely (hello, Wifi!) and conveniently stocked with San Pellegrino flavored sodas, waters and a Nespresso machine. The decor varies by room but each one is gorgeous with all white bathrooms.  You also receive freshly baked cookies and branded waters in your room as a part of turn down service each night. What could be better? You’ll feel right at home!

{Romper // Sandals // Purse // Necklace // Sunnies}

It is perfect for wedding groups, a romantic getaway, girls weekend, a UVA alumni weekend or even a solo trip full of relaxation. I stayed twice this summer and am looking forward to going back as soon as I can.

Where To Dine: Red Pump Kitchen & Oakhurst Cafe

{Skirt (similar) // Shirt // Belt (similar) // Sandals // Clutch (ON SALE!) c/o // Sunnies // Necklace // Bracelets }

On both occasions, I had the pleasure of dining at Red Pump Kitchen for dinner. Red Pump is located on the Historic Downtown Mall in Charlottesville and is a must if you’re in town. It is an open kitchen restaurant with a classic burning oven. We were lucky enough to be seated by their large front open windows on a perfect summer evening (not too hot yet!)However, there is also plenty booth & bar seating and an outdoor patio space too.

All of the dishes are made with local Virginian farm ingredients but influences by Mediterranean, Tuscan and Italian cuisines. There is also a full service bar, excellent cocktail menu and a charming wait staff. The attention to detail at Red Pump is impeccable – from the striped cloth napkins to the gorgeous water glasses and dishes. I’m pretty sure between both trips and all us girls, we tried just about everything on the dinner menu too. Some of my personal recommendations would be the Blueberry + Burratto Salad, Beet + Goat Cheese Salad and the Atlantic Grouper – delicious!

For brunch, we dined at Oakhurst Cafe located on the Inn’s property. It is a popular breakfast and brunch spot for hotel guests and locals alike. There is also a coffee and espresso bar for grab and go options.

It is every bit as charming as the Inn – with mix and match cappuccino cups and fresh juices. Everything here is also locally sourced – a very common trend in Charlottesville overall. I would recommend the Baked Local Farm Eggs or the Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal (it comes with avocado and beets!).

What To Do: Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards


{Romper (ON SALE!) // Clutch (ON SALE!) // Hat // Sunnies // Bracelets // Earrings }


Travel Guide: Tulum, Mexico

Phew! After over a month of non-stop travels – I’m finally here to give you the 411 on my new favorite vacation spot – TULUM!

{Top: UNDER $30! // Pants: ON SALE under $12!// Sandals: Jack Rogers // Purse: Tory Burch c/o Shopbop // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Bracelet: Kendra Scott

For those of you who have not heard of this gem before, it’s a Mayan beach town in Mexico located about 1.5 hours outside of Cancun facing the Caribbean Sea. It could not be more different than most Mexican tourist spots or more magical and quant. (Honestly, this NY Times video puts it best!)

I was lucky enough to escape there for a week earlier this month with 9 of my favorites at one of my best friend’s house, otherwise known as Casa Carolina (more on that later!)

{Bikini: TRIANGL  // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o Shopbop}

What to Expect:

Tulum is uber eco-friendly and that means solar power and for me, leaving my blowdryer at home. Prepare to enjoy days with air-dryed salty hair, minimal make up and sunkissed skin. In other words, paradise! Tulum is also home to many yoga retreats, spas and bikini boot camp. Most restaurants and bars have free wifi and we were lucky to have it at our house too but it really is a time to disconnect (no matter how many instagrams I took, I swear I relaxed & it was nice to not have cell service for the majority of the beach days).

What to Pack:

Below is a sample of what I packed on this trip. My suitcase was full of bathing suits that I lived in, cover ups, shorts, breezy dresses & tops, rompers (I took this one & this too), flat sandals & espadrilles, sunnies and minimal jewels and beauty products. Also, bring a light sweater as it can get cooler in the evenings.

Most days my hair was pulled back in a bun and air dryed (I swear it was the longest I went without using a blowdryer in my life). While I wore wedges a few evenings, I would recommend bringing shoes that you can easily wipe off. After walking everyday, most of my sandals were very sandy and dusty.

If you plan to go to the ruins, be sure to pack tennis shoes and comfortable workout gear (more on that below).

Equally as important to note is to bring plenty of sunscreen (this Irish girl is still burned!), big hats and bug spray. I even bought bug itch cream because the mosquitos can get bad!

{Dress: UNDER $30! // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Clutch: Similar Here}

Where to Stay: Casa Carolina

Most hotels in Tulum are boutique in size, eco-friendly (read: no AC) and serve as a restaurant, bar, boutique, spa and more (all in one!). While there are many fabulous choices, the best has to be Casa Carolina.

{Cover Up: Lilly for Target // Scallop Bathing Suit: PINK // Hat: Similar Here // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o ShopBop // Beach Bag: Similar Here}

The photos speak for themselves but this house was perfect for our group and belongs to my best friend’s family. The 6,000 square foot villa sits right on the beach with 5 bedrooms, a rooftop, pool, hammocks, beach chairs, its own beachside palayas, patio terrace and large open living spaces. Every bedroom also has an ocean view, balcony and en suite bathroom complete with luxurious tolietries. The house literally comes with anything you may need from adorable patterned beach towels to bottled water and laundry services.

Casa Carolina also comes with two amazing staff members, Paula and Eric, who live on-site in a casasita as well as security in the evenings. They do everything possible to make sure your stay is comfortable from cleaning, cooking, bartending, grocery shopping and even finding & cutting down the freshest coconuts to drink beachside. (I’m also told a few celebrities have vacationed at this gorgeous villa but my lips are sealed there!)

The photos don’t even begin to do the property justice – but check more out here and whether you’re going with family, friends, for a wedding or for leisure – this place comes highly recommended by yours truly. (Oh and morning coffees on the rooftop weren’t bad either.)

{Pants: ON SALE under $12! // Sweater: LOFT // Necklace: Kendra Scott //  Sandals: Jack Rogers}

How to Get Around:

Taxis! I swear there are more taxis at any given moment in Tulum than in New York City. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit – but I was caught saying that more than once during our trip. Seriously, every time we stepped outside the house – there was a taxi passing by, or offering a ride or waiting.

Most places you can just walk along the street, however, for longer distances and into pueblo – taxis are all over. Just makes sure you have plenty of cash and/or pesos for your trip. (Oh and addresses are arbitrary – so know your KM and landmarks.)

Where to Eat & Drink (in no particular order):

Mateo’s Mexican Grill – We went here on the first night, reserved a large table outside and I ate the best fish tacos of my life (yes, life). Perfect bar setting for a group too!

Papaya Playa Project – The Beach Club here holds Full Moon parties and the venue is unlike any other in Tulum. I will admit that us girls were too tired after a long day of travel to attend the party (which fell on the first night of our trip); however, the boys stayed out late and had a blast without us.

Posada Margherita – Tulum is home to many ex-Pats from Italy and thus, produces amazing Italian cuisine. This gem is located right on the beach and something out of a movie screen – beautiful tables, lights and delicious fresh pastas and seafood. We split numerous bottles of vino here and enjoyed dining under the beach stars.

El Tablano – I enjoyed lunch here and my favorite margarita of the trip. It’s located on the jungleside in Tulum and outdoors as well. The entire menu is on a large chalkboard. It’s on the pricier side for lunch but well worth it!

Don Cafeto – One evening went left the beach and went into “pueblo” (town). This spot was authenic no-frills Mexican cuisine – it gave us a taste of the area and its culture outside of trendier spots. If you venture into pueblo – be sure to stop at Don Cafeto and order their queso! Live music played while we dined and we shopped through the markets after dinner. Just around the corner is a Bug Mojito Bar so be on the lookout!

La Zebra – Located right on the beach – delicious cocktails and margs by the pitcher. The deck is the perfect spot for posting up all afternoon.

Juice Stands – Don’t underestimate the small stands on the side of the road – I had a fresh mango – papaya juice one morning and chai latte from a small juice stand along the jungle side so really take time to explore and taste your way through Tulum.

Canopia – We stopped here for fresh coconut water – yes, in large coconuts. If you don’t have coconuts at your disposal like we did at Casa Carolina, I would recommend stopping by for one here!

{Dress: UNDER $30! // Hat: Similar Here // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o ShopBop // Sandals: Jack Rogers // Purse: Tory Burch c/o Shopbop // Necklace: Kendra Scott}

Zamas –  Colorful chairs and tables + drinks out of coconuts? Check! We actually did not have enough time to dine here but passed Zamas many times and it came highly recommended as it sits at the end of the road with a gorgeous view.

Gitano – This spot came highly recommended to me by my New York friends and was also delicious. There are pink neon lights, a disco ball, chandelier in the trees and quite possibly the best guacamole & pork tacos. Try for dinner or for cocktails.

Hartwood –  Hartwood is probably the most talked about restaurant in Tulum, most recommended and might I say;  for good reason! It is only opened for dinner, however, they now take reservations (on the day of).  People start to line up around 2pm to put their name in. We were lucky with our big group to get a later spot one evening as we stopped in while shopping to get on names on the list. The menu changes each day and they bring a chalkboard sign to you. Fresh cocktails, beautiful atmosphere and delicious food  – both the ribs and filete coronado were popular.

Where to Shop & Spa:

Explore! There are so many little spots in Tulum and all on the same main road. Below are a few of my favorites but don’t underestimate the small gems you might come across just by walking along the jungle side. (Side Note: the “jungle side” is much HOTTER than the beach without the lovely breeze so dress accordingly & use bug spray!)

{Dress: UNDER $30! // Hat: Similar Here // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o ShopBop // Sandals: Jack Rogers // Purse: Tory Burch c/o Shopbop // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Bracelets: Kendra Scott & Kendra Scott}

Mr. Blackbird – Quant little shop on the main road with sand for floors, leather sandals and unique jewels.

Josa Tulum – local designer with gorgeous tunics, cover ups and dresses.

Coqui Coqui – Explore their luxurious spa, perfume shop and boutique. It’s gorgeous and us girls went home with new candles. Also, if you’re going to book a spa appointment, highly recommend you book a treatment here!

La Tente Rose – Mexican Wine, Beer, Water & Spirits – enough said.

What to See & Do:

Beaches – Most of my time was spent beach side with coconuts, my favorites, magazines and a whole lot of sunscreen! The waves were perfect most days for boogie boarding as well.

IMG_7405 (1)

{Bathing Suits: PINK + H&M + Lilly for Target // Headwrap: SO many here!}

Tulum Ruins – A few of us hiked around the ruins one super hot afternoon – they are close by but spoiler alert – you can’t climb them, but you will meet a lot of wandering iguanas along the way!

Cenotes – I opted to stay on the beach in lieu of snorkling around these but they come highly recommended and there are many spots nearby if you decide to be adventurous!

Long Walks + Yoga – If you’re into yoga, Tulum is your place! There are so many local spots to take classes and be fit on the beach. I also walked along the beach most evenings.

{Shorts: LOFT // Pom Pom Top: UNDER $12! // Sandals: Jack Rogers // Clutch: Similar Here // Necklace: Kendra Scott // Bracelets: Kendra Scott // Sunnies: Karen Walker c/o Shopbop}

& there you have it! Let me know if your travels ever take you to Tulum or if you’ve been before! I know I am counting down the days until I can go back.