About Renee Blodgett
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett
While we were staying at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis, I had an opportunity to try out the Beach Plum Spa. While the property touts all the amenities and treasures that a family resort can offer (meaning it caters heavily to families), the sanctuary in the spa makes you feel as if you’re miles away from stress – it’s pure peace and tranquility.
The spa is a full service spa, and is so extensive in its offerings that it provides an extensive menu of services for men, women and yes, even children. They offer day and overnight packages as well and their body products are all natural or 100% certified organic. And, they must be busy since they’re open seven days a week year round.
One thing to note in my particular treatment is that I didn’t feel like just another client — they really listened to what was going on with your skin and your muscles to see how they could best customize something that will best work with you. I also left with a fun array of samples to test out.
The offerings and services include holistic & healing massages, body treatments, facials, waxing, peels and specialty services, manicures and pedicures and other skin care treatments. They also have a hair salon, bath rituals and offer bridal services — it seems like it would be a great place for larger family weddings, particularly ones where kids are invited – why not take over the entire property? :-) There’s also a kids corner and they offer “girls” getaway packages for two nights. Wish I lived closer is what I thought when I read about that one :-)
1225 Iyannough Rd, Hyannis, MA 02601
Note: I was a guest of the Beach Plum Spa but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
I discovered Forea at a consumer electronics event in New York earlier this summer and fell in love with their fabulous design – they don’t just focus on high quality performing products, but pay attention to how they’re made and how they look as well. Their LUNA face brush is designed to give you clearer, brighter and healthier-looking skin by getting rid of the dirt, oil and makeup residue at a deeper level, while not being too harsh. It also helps to clean pores out of blemish-causing impurities. The colors are also fun – pink, blue, magenta, purple and a cool gray.
The Luna mini is available for around $139. We’re very curious about their upcoming toothbrush, which we’d love to test out when they release it. Have a look! Aren’t you curious as well?
We recently stayed at the Rockport Inn & Suites which is right on Main Street heading into Rockport Massachusetts. For those who are not familiar with Rockport, it’s a quaint New England town north of Boston along the Atlantic coast, offering a mixture of old fashioned fishing village and small town ambiance.
There are places you can stay directly on the water, larger properties and also plenty of B&B’s, which is common in Rockport and neighboring Gloucester, also a common summer getaway town. But, if you’re traveling with kids, you need to think of other amenities.
Rockport Inn & Suites offers a happy medium for those on vacation with children. The property offers rooms and suites, has an indoor pool and hot tub, a buffet breakfast in the morning and plenty of parking directly in front of your room, making it easy to unload luggage and those countless bags you have when you’re traveling with kids. The property is also pet-friendly and comes with a coffee maker, microwave and a mini fridge.
The regular rooms offer a king bed or two queens (below). Also a great additional perk for families is a traditional room with a king bed, a larger sitting area and a pullout sleep sofa.
You can also get an executive suite, which is great for an extended stay, as there’s a large sitting area, a king bed, and a full kitchen – including a full-size refrigerator, stove, and sink. The pullout sleep sofa is perfect for kids. They also have a two room suite, which they refer to as their “town-house” style suite. Two-room suites offer a large, open-concept living room downstairs and a king bedroom with cathedral ceiling and skylights upstairs. Like the one room suite, there’s a pullout sleep sofa as well.
My favorite part of the hotel was the little courtyard between buildings 2 and 3, where you can sit outside your room in a variety of brightly colored Adirondack chairs. (see top photo). If you’re going to book in advance, I’d recommend requesting one of the rooms with a courtyard entrance.
The other sweet thing is the indoor pool. While I always prefer an outdoor pool, because Rockport’s weather can be volatile as its on the coast, it’s nice to have the option to swim regardless of weather, particularly when you’re traveling with children. There’s also a hot tub which is actually “hot” not unlike the luke warm hot tubs I’ve been experiencing at properties lately.
Bottom line, it’s conveniently located, a mere five minutes or less into the town of Rockport. We think it’s a great stay for families heading up the North Coast of Massachusetts, whether they’re just taking in the Rockport/Gloucester area, or whether as a stop over to head further north to the Maine coast.
Rockport Inn & Suites
183 Main Street
Rockport, Massachusetts 01966
62 Restaurant in Salem Massachusetts was quite “the surprise.” Sure, they have great appetizers on the menu ranging from chickpea and risotto fritters, grilled calamari, mixed (and oh so fresh) baby heirloom tomatoes with burrata mozzarella to their yummy braised pork belly served with a spicy red cabbage salad and sea salt.
And, of course they have fresh fish on the menu since Salem is on the sea – their filet of sole locally caught over a crispy polenta with salsa puttanesca and the pan-roasted day boat cod with potatoes, roasted fennel & black olives with a broccoli rabe pesto are both out of this world. They even had a to die-for duck breast, with cipolla dolce, wood grilled peaches & vin cott. (below)
But what I think Chef Antonio Bettencourt do so well that you’d be beckoned to come back again and again, is his homemade pasta. (made by hand). He and his team are dedicated to using the best locally -sourced, all natural ingredients in season and at the peak of flavor. They put a lot of heart into it to show its “true soul” with a deep commitment to what Bettencourt refers to as the pure “craft” of cooking. His pasta dishes and choice of ingredients are out of this world.
There’s the delicious tutta la pasta sono fatto a mano, the tagliatelle alla bolognese, the tagliatelle with a tomato, veal, pork & pancetta ragu & parmigiano reggiano. a potato gnocchi with white wine braised beef shortrib and tomato, aged balsamic vinegar & parmigiano reggiano, the raviolo al’uovo - ricotta raviolo, soft egg yolk, pancetta, cippoline, wild mushrooms & black truffle, the hand-rolled garganelli, red wine braised duck, dried cherries, pinenuts & tuscan kale (OMG), and the lobster pappardelle, which is wide cut pasta with fresh lobster, roasted corn, tomatoes, basil & toasted breadcrumbs.
Are you dying yet? Strong strong strong recommend from this homemade pasta lover who tends to steer more towards old world than modern cooking and yet he managed to do a great job at creating a perfect blend of both.
Then, for dessert all you Italian dessert lovers, check out the lemon panna cotta with fresh blueberry preserves, the chocolate terrine with hazelnut gelato & candied espresso beans, a warm toffee pudding with toffee sauce and whipped cream or the strawberry-rhubarb crostada with vanilla gelato! Need I say more? These photos should do the trick!
62 Wharf Street
Salem, MA 01970
While the heart of summer is over in New England and the northern East Coast, the weather is still mild enough for beach walks especially as we get closer to those Indian Summer afternoons. I explored a handful of Long Island, Bronx and greater New York City beaches this past summer, which are included on this list — others came from research and recommendations from friends who have lived in the New York City area for more than ten years, and on some cases, their whole lives.
Lido Beach - we went here because it was easy to get and parking wasn’t a fortune. Apparently they have a special seniors program as well making it a unique beach in that regard in the area. I noticed picnic and barbecue areas however, so a great option for families as well and there were plenty of kids swimming and playing in the sand when we were there mid-summer. There’s also bocce, shuffleboard, basketball, volleyball, and handball courts and apparently I learned that there is a spray pool, comedy shows and arts and crafts for kids.
Long Beach Long Beach Road – This is located between Noyack and North Haven. I’m told this is a great beach for families since the ocean is a little warmer (it’s bay-side) and its a little milder overall.
Two Mile Hollow in East Hampton – Think money and nudity, at least that’s what I’m told for this East Hampton beach. Clothing optional and apparently fun for a person looking for a little wilder side to his/her beach.
Gibson Beach Gibson Lane in Sagaponack – This beach feels a bit higher end — you get that sense from the designer bikinis (apparently it’s top optional). So if you want to do a little eye surfing, this is your spot.
Main Beach Ocean Avenue in East Hampton - a great place for families as well and I read that its a great beach to take in the Fourth of July fireworks (mark the calendars for next year).
Jones Beach - I’ve been to Jones Beach before including this past summer. It touts itself as one of New York State’s biggest. It has 6.5 miles of sand, two swimming pools, a two-mile boardwalk, miniature golf and the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center which offers educational tours.
Ocean Road Beach in Bridgehampton – Think surfers and more surfers. You apparently need a special parking permit otherwise it’s tough to park. And, it tends to get crowded, but the surf is great.
Wainscott Beach Beach Lane – The location of this beach is near to the wealthy neighborhoods of the Hamptons that you’ve all read about. Think old and new money alike and those who wanna be in the know, or should I say “show.”
Jones Beach photo: andrewandmarymartha.blogspot.com and Orchard Beach photo credit: jbronx.wordpress.com.
We recently tried out a standard queen blow up mattress and a single quickbed from Coleman, a brand we absolutely love! The queen didn’t hold up to evening after evening of sleeping, however it was only around $20 and we did also test it out in the water on an upstate New York lake, so it could be the reason it didn’t hold its air. We mainly wanted to use the mattress on lakes and pools on our New England trip this summer however so we didn’t hold this mattress up to Coleman’s quickbed standards, which are largely used as real sleeping mattresses, either as a second bed or when camping. AND, for lake floating, it was perfect!
Not to be used in the water and more of a solution for dry camping or in a house as a second or guest bed, the Coleman Quickbed Twin Double High Airbed and Pump Combo and it not only kept its air but was incredibly comfortable. We can actually say that it is one of the most comfortable beds you’ll ever use in a tent on the road and I’d feel comfortable putting any guest on it in my home.
It is made of heavy-duty PVC construction and has 21 internal coils which provide durable support. Its double high design makes getting in and out of bed easier. A soft plush top provides extra softness and the included 120 volt pump makes for fast inflation in minutes. BTW, I was particularly worried how long it was going to take to inflate, which can be an annoyance if you’er moving around a lot or camping in a different location every couple of nights.
The combination of the PVC construction and the Airtight System, the bed is guaranteed to keep its customized firmness all night long. We tested it out consistently for three nights in a row and it kept its promise of staying firm. If you find that it loses a little air over the course of a couple of nights sleep, the pump adds air in a matter of seconds.
Another great feature is the integrated Wrap ‘N’ Roll storage system, which allows you to fold, roll and store the airbed quickly—making cleanup easy. Again, this is also true — we put it up and took it down in about 5 minutes. Even with its extra depth, it’s designed to fit standard twin size sheets. It is priced around $79.99.
We give it two thumbs up and strongly encourage you to give their air beds a try! For more information on Coleman and it’s air bed options, check out this link to their various products. Also be sure to check out our review on Coleman’s 8 man dome tent later this month.
What’s so fabulous about staying in 5 star hotels in Tokyo (see our write up on the very impressive Hotel Otani, which we LOVED), is that they feel like 6 star hotels if they were to exist and their 4 star hotels feel like American 5 star properties. On the tail end of my trip in July, I stayed at the ideally located Keio Plaza Hotel which is in a fabulous and central part of the city. Shopping (electronics, clothes and more) are nearby as are great bars, pubs, restaurants, sushi and noodle joints.
While those who know me know that I love old world style in both hotels and restaurants, I also really appreciate modern style hotels if done well – in other words, they think of flow, space, lighting and feng shui in great detail. Both the Otani and the Keio Plaza win hands down not to mention the additional perk of great views of the city.
Located in Shinjuku, in the very heart of the Tokyo metropolis, it’s an incredible location for people who need a lot of stimuli. On all sides, there’s colors, sounds, restaurants, and people from all walks of life. I randomly ran across a parade in the streets one late afternoon as I was walking around Shinjuku — tons of fun!
It can be overwhelming at times, but if you like the energy of Times Square or Shibuya, then you’ll love this location — the nice thing is that the hotel itself is a few blocks walk from the insanity of the energetic pulse, so you have the serenity of a luxurious hotel without the chaos, yet are steps from the bustle of fabulous Tokyo nightlife.
Two things to note for those of you who have never stayed in a hotel in Tokyo — they have heated seats with advanced “digital” flushing capabilities, often great views as this appears to be important to Tokyo designers, great closets (complete with all the amenities that used to come in American hotels but no longer do like those old fashioned wooden shoe horns and pads), and over the top lighting functionality. Translation on that last factoid. Imagine being able to lie in bed at night and being able to control every aspect of the lighting in the room without having to leave the bed. If you want to dim the light in the right corner, you can, or shut off the light near the door but keep the one on over the bed for late night reading, all of it comes with a simple button click from a control panel by your bed. This may not be a feature at 3 star properties OR all 4 or 5 star properties, but it was certainly the case with the two hotels I stayed at and in two others I viewed.
The Keio Plaza Hotel’s service was also top notch. When I walked into the lobby, two people took my luggage immediately and set my bags on a cart while watching over them until I had my keys. Then, two, not one people escorted me to my guest room. The concierge was also out of this world, offering tons of great advice, maps and short cuts to make my navigation of the city easier than I ever could have hoped for…
The property has 1,435 guest rooms to choose from to accommodate your every need. I tested out their fitness center which offered great views of the city and was just down the hall from a stunning deck pool, which also offered stunning views.
It appeared to also be a great choice for business travelers — wifi seems to be of top priority and it was….fast. Note: it’s best to check out the pool in the morning or end of day when it’s less windy due to its location, however in the summer, that’s rarely an issue.
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo
Tel:+81 3 3344 0111
The Ritz Carlton Spa Westchester is worth making the effort to visit from New York City for the service alone. The Ritz Carlton is located in White Plains NY which means that it’s an easy and seamless train ride from Manhattan on the Metro North Line, or…if you’re exploring Westchester County which I recommend you do, especially in the fall, consider it for a luxury stay-over and take in a spa treatment while you’re there. The property features a 10,000 square-foot luxury spa, fitness center and rooftop indoor swimming pool along with a full service salon and spa boutique. In other words, they go far beyond the traditional spa offerings.
They carry the Claudio Riaz’ line of cosmetics, which includes patented brushes, make-up and luxury beauty products. I had an opportunity to play a bit with the make-up artist while she did a bit more than just brighten up my face. Apparently each brush is hand-crafted from top notch materials and his make-up line includes an array of concealers, complexion highlighters, eye shades and lip and cheek colors. I had a lot of fun watching her work!
Services include pedicures, manicures, nail enhancements, personal training, hair removal and salon services — everything from a blow out, haircut and highlights to a bridal hair trial, lashes and make up applications. They have fabulous packages if you’re interested in indulging. For individual facial services, there’s a variety of facials to choose from, including facial enhancements (collagen face mask, decollete collagen mask, eye and lip treatment, eco-paraffin hands and feet, and a seasonal peel).
They also offer healing baths, something they refer to as vichy rain therapy (60 minutes long) and a variety of massages, including arnica muscle and joint massage, sports massage, muscle ease therapeutic massage, stone therapy and couples massage for that romantic weekend getaway. For women, they offer pre-natal massages and for those who want to tan, you can sign up for a natural glow tanning treatment or the shimmer and shine tan, which includes exfoliation over the course of a 50 minute session. You can also get an anti-cellulite treatment which is 90 minutes in length.
Now, let’s move to my favorite part of the day — hair and make up. The salon offers up-do’s for special occasions, bridal hairstyling, color and more. Makeup applications are under $100 and you can also get lessons from their team – ask for Maria, the make-up artist, not to be confused with Maria DeSimone, the Spa Director!! They’re both fabulous. When you book a service according to Cecile, the “head magician” at the hair salon, you receive personalized treatment and time — no one else is booked during your appointment so you get their full and undivided attention.
I loved what Maria did to my eyes and Cecile did to my hair! You also have fun in the process because of their upbeat personalities and their belief that every woman who enters the salon should feel like a million bucks – during and after their appointment. And…they deliver on that promise!!
On my left is Maria, on my right Cecile. Thanks to both of them for making my day! I strongly recommend booking a combo treatment with both of them.
Ritz Carlton Westchester Spa
3 Renaissance Square, White Plains, NY 10601
Note: I was hosted by the Ritz Carlton spa but all opinions expressed are entirely and absolutely my own.