Saturday, January 30, 2010


Hard to believe that this same time two years ago this is where I was. Know where it is? A cruise down the Nile River in Egypt. On this cold January morning, I am so wishing I was back there. Want a Jet Set Smart Destination guide to Egypt? Just email me.

Friday, January 29, 2010


When I jet set, I always seem to have a lot to carry with me on the plane. I like to bring my Travel-U pillow, my N-A-P travel blanket and eye mask, book/magazines, i-pod, get the idea! Well, I have not only found a great bag to take it all with me in, but the bag is also very Environmentally Friendly. Meet the Maggie Bags!!! They are bags made out of seat belts that were rejected by the manufacturer. I didn't know this, but every year, MILLIONS of yards of seat belt webbing are turned down for the slightest color variation, making the strap useless to the auto maker...CRAZY!!! Well bad color or not, seat belts are obviously very durable (they can help save lives, right?), and so these bags certainly are meant to last! The company is working on a large Carry-On Tote right now which should be available very soon. They also have Tote bags, Messenger bags, Hobo bags, Laptop bags, Backpacks and Diaper bags. In the meantime, I'm loving their large tote (which comes in all different colors from red, to orange, Green, multi, and your basic black) for $87. I say you can't go wrong with the black.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


You may not have to jet set far away to find an Ice Bar anymore. Just 2 &1/2 hours outside of New York City, in Northeastern Pennsylvania (in the town of Mountaintop), the owner of Damenti's Restaurant is putting up a free-standing Ice Bar in the restaurant's backyard. The Ice Bar will have a Pirate Theme and will hold up to about 40 people. It is being made out of more than 50 tons of ice, and will be kept at a chilly 20 degrees so it doesn't melt. The only Ice Bar I've ever been to was in Reykjavik, Iceland. It was a lot of fun! I've heard there are some great ones in St.Tropez, Dubai, Tokyo, Cape Town, Australia and even Portugal. Closer to the U.S.- there will soon be this one in Pennsylvania, there's one in Orlando, Florida, and one is Las Vegas, Nevada. Have any of you guys ever been to an Ice Bar? If so, where?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I have blogged before about the fabulous pet-friendly Kimpton Hotels, specifically the Hotel Palomar in Washington, D.C. Well, my jet setters, I just found out from the PR Department at Kimpton Hotels, that a Hotel Palomar Chicago will be opening in Chicago's River North Area this May! The location of this hotel will be in the walkable River North neighborhood, close to the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier and McCormick Place. For the people and pets, this new hotel will have a "green roof," covered with grass and plants intended to collect and clean rainwater, improve air quality and add beauty. Pre-opening rates start at $89 per night. This is a perfect excuse to jet set to Chicago and check out a great city for not a lot of money! Make sure to mention that you heard about it through Jet Set Smart!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Personally, I have never stayed in an all-inclusive resort, but I have heard from many people that it's awesome and worth trying at least once. Well, I may have found just the place. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is opening its first ever All-Inclusive Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic this Spring! It will take over the current space of the Moon Palace Resort. Located on more than 120 acres at Macao Beach, the resort will have a casino, eleven swimming pools, a kids' pool and lazy river. Best of all, all of your food and drinks are included!

Monday, January 25, 2010


How many of you made the same New Year's resolution AGAIN this year- to lose weight? (Yes, my hand is up too!) The question really is...have you started doing it yet? (For me, the answer would be NO!) Well how about jet setting somewhere incredible and beautiful, having an amazing vacation, and coming back five to ten pounds skinnier? OK, I officially sound like an infomercial now, but all kidding aside, Escape to Shape is the answer.
Escape to Shape considers itself a traveling fitness spa. Basically, the program includes a vacation to a fantastic locale with luxurious accommodations, a total-body workout everyday (like pilates, yoga, hiking, biking, swimming, etc.), eating healthy delicious cuisine, spa treatments, and cultural excursions. Guys don't tune out, plenty of men go on these trips every year!

Here's an example of a Day in the Life at Escape to Shape:

8:00am- Breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt and granola

9:00am- Skin-Detox session at Volcanic mud baths

12:00pm- 90 minute power walk on the beach

1:30pm- Lunch of gazpacho soup and grilled chicken salad

3:00pm- 50 laps in the pool and aromatherapy massages

4:00pm- Snack of watermelon slices

5:30pm- 90 minute vinyasa yoga session

7:00pm- Salsa dancing lessons

8:00pm- Dinner of pumpkin soup and grilled shrimp

10:00pm- Head out and dance till dawn or collapse into bed

Upcoming Trips:

Napa Valley, California/ January 29-31, 2010

Buzios, Brazil/ March, 2010

Marrakech, Morrocco/ May, 2010

St. Petersburg, Russia/ July, 2010

Cartegena de Indias, Colombia/ November, 2010

***The price of one of these trips costs about $3,000. But, the Napa one is on sale now for $1,350. It's certainly not cheap, but it is an experience all around.***

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Travel is good for the soul. In fact, research has shown those who jet set every year reduce their chance of developing serious diseases- so consider it doctor's orders to travel! But, when I'm not traveling, the next best thing that I think is good for my soul is spending time with friends and family. So this past Saturday night, we headed to Rack & Soul on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for dinner with our friends.Rack & Soul prides itself on serving New York City's finest Soul Food and Wood-Smoked Barbecue. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when I read that, and when we walked into the brightly lit restaurant (I like a restaurant a little darker at dinner time- not diner style)...but, I have to say my first impressions were quickly squashed as soon as I took my first bite of their Fried Chicken! Delish! It was well-seasoned, crispy on the outside, and nice and juicy inside. It came with your choice of two sides (we tried more than 2- Mac & Cheese, Candied Yams, Potato Salad) and we ordered one of their waffles. Let me just say to heck with etiquette...this dish was finger-lickin' good!!! I also tried their baby back ribs which were awesome as well!They also serve basket after basket of hot, sweet and buttery rolls on the table. They rock!For dessert, we had their red velvet cake (which I usually don't love...I am now obsessed with this one!)...We also had a slice of their pecan yummy!There was a lot to celebrate on this night out, Ajay's birthday, the birth of Dave & Stephanie's baby boy Charlie, and Will & Karen's pregnancy! It was food that was good for the soul and a good time was had by all!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Finishing up with the same topic I've been posting about for the last few days about the February issue of Ladies' Home Journal Magazine article...How to Stay Fit- A Season Guide to Incredibly Fun Trips for the Active Female are the Fall trips they suggest:
1- Biking in Napa Valley, California: The fall weather in Napa and Sonoma is ideal for biking; the rolling hills are challenging but not intimidating. And, of course, there are all those vineyards to visit! Taking a guided group bike tour is a unique way to explore Northern California wine country while meeting new people. You can spend your days cycling at your own pace and stopping for delicious lunches or picnics; and at night, rest up at a great restaurant and a beautiful inn. If you are interested in this sort of trip, a 6-day Napa trip with Backroads bike tours provides meals, high-quality bikes and lodging at different charming inns each night. trips in September and October cost $2,200 per person.
2- Golf on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina: Hilton Head's got wide, flat beaches, mild water, miles of paved bike trails and a top-notch tennis center. Fall is a good time to book a trip since the spring and summer crowds have left but the weather is still mild. This place is especially perfect for couples who love golf! Sea Pines Resort, the island's most famous destination, has three world-class courses, including Harbor Town links. You can take a private lesson or sign on for a one-or-two day school at the Golf Academy at Sea Pines Resort.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Continuing with the same topic from yesterday about the February issue of Ladies' Home Journal Magazine article...How to Stay Fit- A Season Guide to Incredibly Fun Trips for the Active Female are the Summer trips they suggest:1- Horseback Riding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming: This is about as scenic and American West as it gets! Jackson Hole is just south of the Grand Teton National Park and is a great place to horseback rise, hike, bike ride, go whitewater rafting, canoeing or fly-fishing. The resort has many condo options that start at $120 a night. If you want to splurge, check out the Hotel Terra, an upscale eco-friendly hotel with rates starting at $279 a night in the summer.2- Whitewater Rafting on the Salmon River in Idaho: This place is regarded as one of the best places for whitewater rafting in the country! Far and Away Adventures runs customized trips that take you through the thrilling rapids of the Salmon Rover. This is camping at its most glam: Each night you'll eat gourmet organic meals under the stars at tables set with china and silverware. And you can arrange for extras like a morning yoga class or fly-fishing lesson. Far and Away Adventures provides all food, elevated beds, tents, sleeping bags and other equipment. Three-day trips start at $1,680 per person.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Continuing with the same topic from yesterday about the February issue of Ladies' Home Journal Magazine article...How to Stay Fit- A Season Guide to Incredibly Fun Trips for the Active Female are the Spring trips they suggest:1- Sailing School on Captiva Island, Florida- The offshore Sailing School has been teaching rookie sailors the ropes for more than 30 years. Captiva Island is directly off Florida's gulf coast, and is an easy drive for Fort Myers. The school is part of the family-friendly South Seas Island Resort. Rooms are $249 a night and up; sailing classes start at $150 for a two-hour session.
2- Hiking in Scottsdale, Arizona- The desert and hills of Scottsdale are a hiker's paradise- take it from me- I've been with my parents! The best time to go is in the Spring when temperatures are mild. Scottsdale is famous for its dry, clear weather and luxe spas and golf resorts, but I suggest planning a side trip to Sedona (one of the most beautiful places in the U.S.) to see the famous red-rock formations. The Boulders Resort is built among massive ancient rocks and is where the magazine suggests staying. Rooms start at $179 a night in April.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I was just flipping through the February issue of Ladies' Home Journal Magazine and saw an article that peaked my interest...How to Stay Fit- A Season Guide to Incredibly Fun Trips for the Active Female Traveler. For the Winter they suggest the following two trips:
1- Women's Ski Camp in Snowbird, Utah: Snowbird Resort runs two camps- one in January and another in March- that cater to intermediate-and-above skiers. Whether you want to gain confidence on the slopes or bump your skiing up a notch, you'll fit right in. And you'll feel less intimidated learning in small groups led by female instructors. They suggest staying at the Cliff Lodge right on the mountain. A ski-plus-lodging package which includes lunch and lift tickets runs about $1150 for a three-day camp and $1450 for a four-day camp.
2- Cross-Country Skiing in Banff, Alberta, Canada: Banff National Park gets loads of snow, has stunning views of the Canadian Rockies and, with a variety of easy and moderate trails, is a great location for a long weekend or cross-country skiing. They suggest sleeping at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge where rates start at $169 a night.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


On my list of places to jet set to is South Africa. I haven't decided exactly what my itinerary would be yet, but I have heard and read a lot of great things about Botswana- particularly the Zarafa Camp- a luxury safari camp. The cost is not cheap. Plan to shell out about $1,400 per person, per night in high season (June through November). But just take a look at what the fabulous tents look like at the camp- they are luxurious, yet rustic. The furniture in the tents is made from recycled hardwoods, and is designed specifically for the Zarafa Camp. Each tent has its own grand copper tub...And a private plunge pool...The camp sits on more than 300,000 acres of land- so you can see just about every animal imaginable while you are there.
Traveling to South Africa would probably be a once in a lifetime experience for me, so when I go, I want to do it up right! My sister-in-law and her boyfriend just returned from jet setting to South Africa. I'll share more about their fabulous trip soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010


As a native New Yorker, I admit that I am a huge pizza snob! I have lived in many different cities, and have never seemed to find pizza that I have liked, except for New York Pizza. Well, my jet setters, that all changed this weekend. My brother-in-law, Pete, grew up in Connecticut and has always raved about how good the pizza is there. Being the snob that I am about pizza, I never really believed it, but was still intrigued to taste what he always talks about. Yesterday, Rich and I drove with his parents to New Haven, Connecticut to Frank Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana and I was amazed!!!Frank Pepe's is located on Wooster Street, which is often called the "Little Italy" street of New Haven. Along this street you can find quite a few Italian restaurants, Pizzerias, and Pastry Shops. I had done a lot of reading about Pepe's before we went and learned that there is often a long line outside. We lucked out, and only waited about 15 minutes before we got seated. Pepe's has been around since 1925, and cooks the original Tomato Pie. This is a pizza that only comes with tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese on top...oh my was one of the best pizzas I have ever tried! Their dough is thin, crunchy, crusty, a little sweet and very light. Mozzarella cheese is even considered a topping at Pepe's, so we ordered one Tomato Pie, one pie with half mozzarella and half pepperoni, one with sausage, peppers & onions...And one of their White Clam Pies... I also had read a lot about this pie, and it was delicious. If you are a clam lover, this is for you! It's loaded with big clams, which gives it a nice salty bite. Almost every pizza that we saw coming out of their oven was a White Clam Pie...this is what they are famous for besides the Tomato Pie! Slice, after slice, and none of us could stop eating! Pete, I have to give it to you, New Haven has awesome pizza! I can't believe it, but I am a New York Pizza Snob No More! :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Those of you who know me, know that I am obsessed with Giada De Laurentiis from the Food Network! She is the t.v. chef who basically taught me how to cook! I watch her show everyday, own every cookbook she's written, and I very often share some of her recipes on this blog that I have tried myself. (I even got the chance to meet her and cook with her on stage at the NYC Food & Wine Festival- click here if you didn't read about it. One of the best days of my life! :-)Well now, she and Target (one of my favorite stores) have teamed up to create an affordable line of gadgets for the kitchen. Her stuff just came out in Target stores and on their website this month! You can find all "Giada things" from cookware and bakeware, to gadets, and even food like pasta sauces and flavored coffees! Her collection has stuff that starts in price from $6.99 for a cooking spoon, to $199.99 for a 10-piece Tri Ply Clad cookset. I will definitely be jet setting to my local Target to grab some Giada goodies for my kitchen. I was so excited...I just had to share. Giada and Target...what a great combo!

Friday, January 15, 2010


A friend of mine will be taking her 16 year old daughter out over the weekend for her birthday dinner at Baraonda (1439 2nd Avenue & 75th Street)- a great Italian restaurant in the city. She asked me for a few suggestions of where they could shop and maybe hang out either before or afterwards on The Upper East Side. Here's what I came up with:
Don't order dessert at the restaurant, instead indulge yourselves at Vosqes Haut-Chocolat (1100 Madison Avenue & 83rd Street). Order one of their hot chocolates that comes in a rose vase and some yummy truffles, and you will think you've died and gone to heaven!Another great hot chocolate place on the Upper East Side is La Maison Du Chocolat (1018 Madison Avenue between 78th & 79th Street).If you love cupcakes, then you have to head to Crumbs Bake Shop (1379 3rd Avenue between 78th & 79th Street). You can find regular cupcakes like chocolate and vanilla to exciting flavors of the month. This is definitely the spot for someone with a sweet tooth!After you are full, check out one of my favorite stores in this neighborhood...Pookie & Sebastian (1488 Second Avenue & 77th Street). From clothing, to jewelry and accessories, this place has it all! Another one of my favorite stores is Taroo (1490 First Avenue between 77th & 78th Street). Also great for accessories, tops and dresses.Another store that is great on the Upper East Side, especially for teenagers is Lester's (1534 2nd Avenue & 80th Street). You can find clothes, shoes, and accessories that you will be sure to love!If you are looking for a new, high quality fashion or designer handbag, then head to Delfino Shop (1351 3rd Avenue & 78th Street). On 86th Street between 3rd & Lexington Avenues, you can also find stores like H&M, Banana Republic, Gap, Aldo, Orva, Steve Madden and Victoria's Secret. There is so much to do in this neck of the woods...have fun and Happy Birthday Katie! :-)

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Like many of you jet setters, I too was so upset when airlines starting imposing baggage surcharges a few years ago. Now, we have all had to either suck it up and pay, or just take our luggage on the plane with us. (Not easy for me to do as the major over-packer that I am!) Well now, to add insult to injury, Delta Airlines has just announced that it's going to increase its baggage fees!!! Before, if you flew Delta and checked luggage, you had to pay $15 for your first bag and $25 for your second. Now, the fees are going up to $23 for your first bag and $32 for your second. In addition, Continental Airlines is also increasing its baggage fees to match Delta's. That's simply OUTRAGEOUS!!! Below is a list I found on-line of what the major carriers expect you to pay for the privilege of checking your bags. All fees are for flights within the U.S. Of course, there are some exceptions to these fees if you pay them at the airport vs. online, or if you are a frequent flyer, make sure to check with your carrier for your specific details.
- Alaska Airlines: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second
- American Airlines: $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second
- Continental Airlines: $23 for the first, $32 for the second
- Delta Airlines: $23 for the first, $32 for the second
- JetBlue Airlines: first bag free, second bag will cost you $30
- Northwest Airlines: first bag $23, second bag $32
- Southwest Airlines: two bags for free. Really!!! (I wish I lived where Southwest flies!)
- United Airlines: when fees paid online, $15 for the first bag, and $25 for the second. When paid at the airport, $5 more for each bag.
- Virgin America: $20 for the first, $20 for the second

Also, check out this chart for how much fees went up in the last two years. I want to puke! This doesn't make jet setting as much fun!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


As I've already told you, one of my top travel resolutions for 2010 was to take more road trips. We kicked off the new year with a road trip to Washington D.C., and this past weekend, we packed up the car again and headed to our old stomping ground...Philadelphia!!! We drove to the city of brotherly love for my friend's gorgeous and fun wedding!One of the best parts of the weekend, was getting to stay at the Rittenhouse Hotel. I would say it's comparable to The Plaza Hotel in New York City, and I had always wanted to stay at the Rittenhouse, so this was the perfect excuse. The room was big and beautiful, and the service was impeccable!
Dinner Friday night was at Stephen Starr's Butcher & Singer. Butcher & Singer is not your typical steakhouse. It's very 1940's, both in decor and in their menu. We had their Steak Delmonico which is a typical 1940's cut of steak. It came perfectly charred on the outside and excellently cooked on the inside. We also had their Butcher Salad...and the Stuffed Hash Browns. They are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. They are also written up in Philadelphia Magazine's 239 Dishes You Must Eat Right Now article- so we knew we had to try them. Wow! Morning coffee and croissants were always enjoyed at our favorite spot which is around the corner from the Rittenhouse...La Colombe.

On Sunday, we met up with our friends, Steve and Carla, and headed to Meme Restaurant (2201 Spruce Street) for brunch.Meme is in the same space where one of our other favorite Philly restaurants used to be. It's small, casual, rustic and unpretentious.It also has an open kitchen, which I just love. They recently added brunch to their menu and Steve and Carla raved about it, so we thought we'd give it a try, and boy was it amazing!!! Steve and Carla had a side dish of their Biscuit & Sausage Gravy for $3 (their sausage is homemade, by the way). Steve ordered their Anson Mills Cheddar Grits with a poached egg for $10. Rich had The Heart Stopper II- which comes with pan fried pork shoulder, buttermilk mashed potatoes, sausage gravy, and a sunny side up egg for $13. Carla & I both had their Croque Madame for $10 which (other than Paris) was the best Croque Madame I had ever had in my life! I am drooling just thinking about it right now.For dessert, we had their sticky bun for $3, which was pure sticky goodness!!! It was so good catching up with our friends and checking out a great restaurant!Afterwards, we wandered around Rittenhouse Square to check out all the things that had changed in our old neighborhood. We noticed that they opened up a Famous 4th Street Deli. Originally just in South Philadelphia and Reading Terminal Market, this new one is on 19th street! (38 South 19th Street) Of course we stopped in and ordered some of their delicious chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and black and white cookies. We also stumbled upon Village Whiskey (118 South 20th Street) which is owned by the fabulous Chef Jose Garces! The bar wasn't serving at the time, but it definitely looks like a spot we will be checking out the next time we are in Philly. Just love the subway tiles on the walls and the high leather booths...very hipster!

For a little dessert, we went to Scoop De Ville (1734 Chestnut Street). This pretty little ice cream shop will blend together any flavor your little heart desires into something yummy and different. We went for something else we read in Philadelphia Magazine's 239 Dishes You Must Eat Right Now article...vanilla ice cream, blended with oreo cookies and peanut butter cups. It's actually Chef Jennifer Carroll's (she was on Bravo's Top Chef & she also is a chef at 10 Arts Bistro & Lounge in Philly) "secret obsession" dish that she dreams about. Oh my gosh...once you try it, you will be dreaming about it too!!! By this time, we had worked up another little appetite, and headed to Distrito. (3945 Chestnut Street) Also owned by Chef Jose Garces, this is a new Mexican restaurant located in University City. We had read about their Lengua or Tongue Tacos and decided to order them. I have to say, this was the first time I tried tongue and was sort of grossed out by the idea, but have to say that they were excellent and tasted just like pork! We also had their steak nachos (another dish from Philadelphia Magazine's 239 best)...and they rocked! A little margarita with salt on the rocks to wash it all down, and we were content! Yes, I know you are probably thinking, how can they just eat and eat and eat, but when we jet set, we like to try everything just in case we don't get back to that place again. So where did we go next??? For Philly cheese steaks of course!!! First we went to Jim's Steaks. (400 South Street) We ordered one whiz wit (with Cheeze Whiz & Onions). I scarfed it down quickly it was so good. Look at this Record Holder sign inside the restaurant...I love to eat, but could you ever? Not me! Next, we headed to Pat's Steaks (1237 East Passyunk Avenue) for another whiz wit. You have to know how you want to order your cheese steak before you get to the window!
We had a great time being back in Philly! We hope to make it back there again soon!