Category - Stay

1
Staycation at Mountain Shadows
2
24 Hours at Hotel Ylem in Houston, TX
3
FOUND:RE – Phoenix’s Newest Boutique Destination

Staycation at Mountain Shadows

Doorway at Mountain Shadows resort in Arizona

Nestled against the reigning silhouettes of Camelback and Mummy Mountain, in the heart of Paradise Valley, lies Mountain Shadows. The resort first opened its’ doors in 1959, and gained instant success through the likes of international clientele, Hollywood stars, and traveling families alike. Over the years, the resort changed developers, including Del Webb and Marriott. In 2004, the resort officially closed. In 2014, it was bought out by its’ present day developers- Westroc Hospitality and Woodbine Development Corp., who decided to rebuild it from the ground up. The resort was reintroduced earlier this year.

I took advantage of the low summer rates, and booked my staycation. Upon my arrival, I handed over my car to the valet and made my way through the incredible wooden doors with sleek mountain designs on them. Check-in was a breeze, and before I knew it, I was comfortably taking in the atmosphere in the Immerse room. It was such a bright, contemporary room with hints of mid-century modern features throughout. The walk-in shower was roomy, and featured full-size bath amenities by Red Flower. The king-size bed was cozy, with plenty of outlets within reach. The reason why the room is named Immerse is that there is a luxurious soaking bathtub that overlooks Camelback Mountain. The balcony, which overlooks a good-size portion of the surrounding mountains and desert landscape, was oh-so-lovely in the evening and morning. Take a tour of the room by checking out the slideshow below.

I had dinner and breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant- Hearth ’61. The restaurant was named after the year of the Paradise Valley’s incorporation- 1961, as well as the hearth of the stone oven in the kitchen. Most of the ingredients for their dishes are sourced locally, and the waitstaff is exceptionally courteous and knowledgeable of the menus.

Hearth '61, Mountain Shadows, Arizona, restaurant, food

Beluga Lentil Soup + Noble Bread

Hearth '61, Mountain Shadows, Arizona, restaurant, food

Banana Ricotta Pancakes + Vanilla Latte

Scroll down further to see more photos from my stay.

Mountain Shadows, Arizona, hotel, lobby

Mountain Shadows, Arizona, hotel, pool area

Mountain Shadows, Arizona, hotel, lounge, retro-inspired

Mountain Shadows, Arizona, hotel, lounge, retro-inspired

Mountain Shadows, Arizona, hotel, hospitality

Have you guys stayed there? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Mountain Shadows is located at:

5445 E. Lincoln Dr.

Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

WEBSITE

** I received a complimentary room upgrade and waived resort fees in exchange for an honest review. **

24 Hours at Hotel Ylem in Houston, TX

Hotel Ylem, Houston, Houston Hotel, boutique hotel

I had first read about Hotel Ylem (pronounced eye-lum) through various social media sources, and it was unfortunate that they opened AFTER I had moved to Phoenix (LOL). However, I was in Houston last month, and was able to enjoy a night at the hotel, and got a feel for what the locals were buzzing about.

The 79-room, three story hotel was once a Holiday Inn Express, but this past February, the Dalwadi family decided to reinvent it into something more cozy, artsy, and with an effort of giving back. They renamed it- Hotel Ylem. Ylem– which means, “The substance that was the first of the universe…The beginning of everything…” According to the article written by the Houston Chronicle on the hotel, one of the siblings- Manisha, went on to explain, “For us, that’s water and mother. Our mother is our glue; she keeps our family strong … and mothers are the source of life, right? And water, … nothing can go on without water. We felt that was the perfect name for the hotel.”

Let me back up some… the Dalwadi family originated from India. Jay (the patriarch of the family) was one of ten children that were raised by Maniben, a widow (his father passed away when he was nine). Maniben worked at a brick factory. While most of his siblings quit school and went to work to help support the family, it was then when they decided that Jay (who was the youngest) would go to school and make something of himself. He eventually went on to graduate from Texas A&M with a degree in chemical engineering. Fast forward to the present, Jay has since built a career in hospitality. The family owns a construction firm that has built their hotels, as well as a brick factory in India.

Hotel Ylem, Houston boutique hotel, Houston, hotel

 

Giving back…

The goal of the Dalwadi family is to change the way they do hospitality. They have been really helpful in ways of giving back, in ALL aspects of the hotel. Along with several other charities, they have specifically chosen to highlight Charity:Water. Are you guys starting to notice the water theme? Nine percent of sales from Bar Esperanto goes to Charity:Water. They will eventually install minibars, which 100% of the sales will go to Charity:Water. The hotel also showcases various pieces of artwork that can be seen around the public spaces that are from local artists. Eighteen percent of those sales go to Charity:Water, while the rest goes to the artist. They’ve chosen numerous vendors that are also like-minded in their business models, as far as giving back to various charities, or being eco-friendly. One of the vendors is Lather, whose products are in all guest bathrooms. Each bed is completed with a sweet, multicolor throw pillow from CB2– a furniture and home decor company that gives back to three different non-profits. Lastly, the hotel rents out the business lounge and bar space to local non-profits at no cost.

Hotel Ylem, Houston boutique hotel, Houston, hotel

The significance of water and bricks…

The water droplet (and water in general) is a little fixture that is featured subtly throughout the hotel. The wave detail on the back of the shower is similar to the waves of the ocean. The bathroom floor tile is reminiscent of the ocean floor. The lights in the hallways are in the shape of water droplets, as well as the steel fixtures in the back of the bar (which also look like Hershey’s Kisses). The carpeting in the hallways has wave-like features.

You can also see various subtle hints of bricks throughout the hotel, such as the brick wallpaper in the guest rooms, and in the hallway on the third floor.

Hotel Ylem, Houston boutique hotel, Houston, hotel

The guest rooms are fun and quirky. There is a mailbox right outside each door. Along with the usual necessities, each room (either a single king or double queen) has open concept closets, charging stations on both sides of the headboards (can never have too many outlets these days), Mid-Century inspired furniture, retro style mini fridges, and extra storage (including the microwave and ironing board) located in an upright large steamer trunk. The quote artwork that hangs over the bed(s), and the way the globe lamp wiring is arranged, are different in every room. Be sure to also request a complimentary leg massager. The folks at the front desk will bring it to the room. It’s basically like the leg massagers you see at Brookstone, with the different levels of massage and such. But it was really nice to use after a stressful day of wedding planning!

Some takeaways:

~In the morning, guests are treated to a lovely spread of assorted breakfast items, and ample seating in the bar area, or nearby business lounge.

~If I had more time, I would’ve spent more time hanging out in the main lobby, whose large (and original to the old hotel) chandelier and bright orange grand staircase are one of the main focal points (and highly photographed) of the property.

~The fitness center is small, but you can still get a good workout in….Just ask the Mr!

~Be sure to go up to the third floor. It has high ceilings and crown molding. It’s been a favorite spot for blogger and general photo shoots.

~Holly Thompson- the Director of Sales, recommends the ‘Feni Fix’ and the ‘Five Mile Hike’ as cocktails to try at Bar Esperanto, whose beverage program is spearheaded by Hal Brock.

~Free shuttle service within three miles of the hotel. You can get to the Medical Center or NRG Stadium in a matter of minutes!

~ There are two ottoman chairs in the main lobby that have been upholstered with wording that is all about what Hotel Ylem stands for.

~The mural on the side of the hotel was created by Janavi Mahimtura Folmsbee. The woman in the mural represents the elements of ‘water’ and ‘mother.’

~This hotel sure beats a corporate chain any day! Friendly staff, clean rooms, and a unique story behind the brand really make this place special!

 

 

NOTE: I was given a complimentary night’s stay at the hotel, however, all opinions are my own. I want to also thank Holly for giving me a tour of the property, as well as tell me a little about the history behind the Dalwadi family and the hotel. 

FOUND:RE – Phoenix’s Newest Boutique Destination

FOUND:RE Hotel in Phoenix, AZ

What do excellent service, amazing farm-to-table-to-farm food, cozy rooms, and a painting of a Burt Reynolds/Britney Spears hybrid have in common?

Downtown Phoenix’s newest boutique hotel- FOUND:RE is a combination of the aforementioned. While the present hotel (located near the artsy Roosevelt Row) is new, the building itself is from the 1970s, and served as a hotel (Lexington and a Best Western) and restaurant. The hotel’s designers knew the space needed an overhaul, but loved the structure’s old bones; so they sought to expose them. The name “FOUND:RE” was chosen based on the concept of ‘foundry,’ which ties to the industrial, urban aesthetic of the hotel, but with the focus on arts and discovery. “We wanted to play more with the “FOUND” portion of the name – separating it with industrial rivets “:” and spelling the end like the abbreviation for “regarding”… It opened so many possibilities for us to communicate our message in a playful way:  RE vive, RE vitalize, RE fresh, etc.  You’ll find this wordplay at work in signs all around the hotel,” Parley Stock- Director of Sales and Marketing, explained.

Having said that, the city’s latest destination also pays homage to Roosevelt Row and its funky, urban, and artistic culture. The hotel’s lobby features numerous photos, sculptures, paintings, and mixed media pieces by local artists, such as: Randy Slack, Cheryle Marina, Shauna Thiboult, Diego Perez, Ronna Nemitz, Travis Ivey, and Linda Ingraham. What really captured my eye, in a comical, yet borderline genius way, was the massive painting of a nude Burt Reynolds with a blonde Britney Spears- esque wig that was hanging over the reception desk. That piece is called- “That was Then, This Is Now,” but is mainly referred to as: “Burtney,” which is Slack’s vision of Burt Reynolds’ 1972 spread in Cosmopolitan magazine. I also thought that Linda Ingraham’s “Reveries”- five large scale portraits with matching throw pillows, really draws attention to the lounge area. You’ll find whimsical art all over the hotel, from the reception area, to the event rooms; the fitness room, and the pool area. Most of the artwork is also for sale.

I stayed at the hotel over the course of two days in one of their 8th floor suites. The reception staff was really attentive, friendly, and delivered a breezy check-in. The suites even have their own separate elevator. The overall hotel room hallways have grey walls, with the room doors a lush navy blue. Each room number plaque was handmade by local artist- Cheryle Marina. The suites are large with rolling barn-style doors that close off the living room with the bedroom. The decor, I would say, has an urban industrial inspiration with furnishings and artwork that were done by local artists. The bar has a mini fridge, a Keurig with a small variety of coffee and tea, and a cocktail mixer kit. There is a restroom off to the side, with the large shower area (I do literally mean ‘shower area’ because of how big the space is) at the back of the bedroom. There are two shower heads in the space, which is also equipped with C.O. Bigelow bath amenities. The shower itself is enclosed in glass, but with no door (it’s still easy to keep water in the designated area, just try not to splash around). On one side, the glass was frosted, with the saying “Not so sexy,” while on the other side, the glass is clear, with the saying “Sexy.” I guess it just depends on your mood. Other bathroom amenities that made my stay comfortable was a bathrobe and slippers. There is a small area to hang clothing, but the rooms (all 105 of them, in fact) are equipped with industrial-style luggage carts. The custom carts were locally designed by Bang Bang Designs. A good night’s sleep was easily had, due to the cozy bed. There were plenty of outlets for keeping my devices charged. The rooms also come equipped with tablets, where guests could order room service (coming soon at the time of this post), order spa treatments, and request housekeeping and guest services. I LOVED the large balcony. Mine overlooked downtown Phoenix and the mountains. I was even able to catch glimpses of the sunrise and sunset on both days. There is a nightly turndown service, where they leave Salted Serenity caramels and a postcard.

I was able to dine at the hotel’s signature restaurant- Match Cocktails and Cuisine. Match got its’ name from the concept of a foundry being a place where metals are forged in- fire. It is also a nod to their numerous menu items that come from the wood-fired Forno Bravo oven and wood-fired grill. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner; with all ingredients coming from local farmers. They use the “farm-to-table-to-farm” program, where they receive the produce from local farmers, then return the waste to Recycled City for composting. That compost then helps new local crops to grow. The constantly-changing menu is spearheaded by Executive Chef Akos Szabo, and focuses on globally-inspired sharable plates. I experienced their Christmas Day menu, where I had the following:

Chestnut Soup with Noble Bread, Match Cocktails and Cuisine, Phoenix dining

Starter Course- Creamy Chestnut Soup + Noble Bread

Eggplant Lasagna, Noble Bread, main course, Match Cocktails and Cuisine, Phoenix dining

Au gratin potatoes, Match Cocktails and Cuisine, Phoenix dining

            Entree- Eggplant Lasagna + Noble Bread + Au Gratin Potatoes

White chocolate peppermint cheesecake, dessert, Match Cocktails and Cuisine

Dessert- White Chocolate and Peppermint Cheesecake + Decaf Vanilla Latte

The lovely Lauren was my server that evening. She was incredibly hospitable and knowledgeable on the food.

The meal started off with the choice of a starter dish. I chose the Creamy Chestnut Soup with bread from Noble Bakery. It was almost like a creamy mushroom soup…only BETTER! The ingredients for this yummy dish (that I wish I currently had in my refrigerator) include: roasted vegetable stock, roasted chestnuts, housemade crème fraîche, thyme, bay leaf, Blis Bourbon maple syrup, Mirepoix (according to Wikipedia- a roughly chopped vegetable cut, usually a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery), and Minnesota wild rice. This is probably a seasonal soup, but I’d eat it anytime. It was just such a different flavor, and not to mention, comforting. The slices of Noble bread paired nicely alone, and for dipping into the soup. I chose the Eggplant Lasagna with Au Gratin Potatoes, and Noble bread as my main entree. Along with the griddled Japanese eggplant, other culinary ingredients included: over-dried heirloom tomatoes, wood roasted artichokes, mascarpone, ricotta, goat cheese, Bianco tomatoes, provolone, mozzarella, garden basil, and Pistou. The au gratin potatoes had Welsh cheddar mornay, russet potatoes, caramelized onions, Noble bread crumbs, and chives. The entree was filling, yet so good and fresh! I chose the White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake for my dessert. It was HEAVEN… so much that I’m still dreaming about it… Aside from the obvious ingredients, it also had coffee crema and dark chocolate bark. I felt that it had the right amount of richness and incredible flavor.

Thank you FOUND:RE for being my home away from home during the Christmas holiday. I want to also personally thank: Carolyn, Francis, Dave, Gabriel, Lindsay, Max, Tracy, Parley, and Je-Hyen.

The next time you are visiting Phoenix and are looking for a great place to stay, ‘FIND YOURSELF’ at FOUND:RE.

** I was given a complimentary stay and food in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Copyright © 2013. Created by Meks. Powered by WordPress.