Gypsy Heart :: Moving to Another Land

I often choose to start with a blank page.

Why are we so scared of beginnings?

Some of us have that nomad gene dormant in our subconscious perhaps? I was born in one country, moved to another, then another, then lived my childhood in one place, but always traveling, tasting and exploring (thanks, mum & dad).
Then I became a young adult, and I went back to my place of birth. Became an adult and found myself falling headfirst against the ground of adulthood reality. I moved again. I moved again to heal, to find myself, and to grow internally and as a person. I’ve accomplished my mission and I am now ready to go.

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I keep moving. My mind and my body feel the need to explore, learn, move. We are not static beings. Our ancestors kept moving in the search for more food, land, and opportunities. It is part of human nature. However, if you chose not to move and to stay in one place that is fine too – if it works for you, it works for you. I personally don’t need to have roots in one place in order to feel whole. I am whole in the wind, in the immense universe of life, in the eternal shining of the stars.

Life is fluid. Is a constant movement of actions, reactions, people, and worlds.

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After spending 9 years in Newcastle, I moved to Houston, Texas. That was a 360-degree change. From the old world into the new. From the small streets to the vast distances of Texas. From the rainy cold afternoons to the hot and humid sunny gatherings.
Texas opened its gigantic doors to me and I embraced it’s cultural diversity, its simplistic pomposity (Hipster style) and its warm long afternoons – although I still think sweet tea is an abomination, sorry not sorry… joking, it’s ok if you hate tea. lol.

My heart is black and white stripes (Newcastle FC) with Catrinas (Mexican, Dia de Los Muertos) and majestic bullhorns (Texas). My heart also waves the Venezuelan flag (Amarillo, Azul y Rojo) and has so much more space waiting to be colored and filled with new experiences, cultures, and faces.

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I am forever grateful to all the things learned during my time in the USA. The truth is, I am a culture junkie. I find eternal happiness in the discovery of new cultures, in the understanding of new traditions, in the tolerance of new ideologies. I am a Third Culture child and my heart aches for knowledge and adventure.

So today, I say Salud! Cheers to new and old places. Cheers to growth and discovery. Cheers to adventure! Cheers to YOU, to ME and to the WORLD.

See you at my next destination – Cymru.

Xoxo

Travel Series: Grand Canyon & Hualapai Nation #Arizona

So it’s been a while since I posted, big changes happening! It was Sprint Break in Texas this past week (yay! Spring! although it feels like Summer here already) We had plans to visit Boston, and I was really looking forward to go to Salem and learn all about the Freedom Trail but Mother Nature had other plans. Huge winter storm canceled out trip and we prepared an impromptu visit to Las Vegas.

I knew Las Vegas wasn’t for me, so I convinced my crew to take a little road trip to Arizona and visit the Grand Canyon West Rim and the Hualapai Native American Reserve. WOW! just wow! I am so glad we did!

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Hualapai Nation

The Hualapai Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in northwestern Arizona. “Hualapai” (pronounced Wal-lah-pie) means “People of the Tall Pines.” They are the native people of the Southwest. Traditionally hunter-gatherers, they inhabited an area of more than 5 million acres.

Their homeland stretched from the Grand Canyon southward to the Santa Maria River and from the Black Mountains eastward to the pine forests of the San Francisco peaks. Today, the Hualapai American Indian Reservation, created in 1883, is nearly 1,000,000 acres that includes 108 miles of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon.

The total population of the Hualapai Reservation is about 1,621 of whom 1,353 are tribal members (2000 U.S. Census). Total tribal membership, including members not residing on the reservation, is approximately 2,300. Most people who reside on the reservation live in the capitol town of Peach Springs, which owns its name to the peach trees that historically grew at nearby springs.

The Great Spirit created Man and Woman in his own image. In doing so, both were created as equals. Both depending on each other in order to survive. Great respect was shown for each other, in doing so, happiness and contentment was achieved them as it should be now – Hulapai.

I love everything Native American, I feel their energy is so pure and their roots so in touch with nature.

 

Grand Canyon West Rim

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The west rim is approximately a 2 and a half hour drive from the Vegas Strip. On the way there you can stop to see the Hoover Dam which is a majestic work of engineering. You can also enjoy the Arizona Desert views. Once you get to the Grand Canyon directions are easy to follow and for your ticket, you get to see the Skywalk at Eagle Point (skywalk is located here), Guano Point, and an old cowboy style village. You can eat there too, we had some yummy BBQ chicken, ribs corn bread, beans and rice. There is hardly any phone signal but there is wifi at each station.

The tour guide explained this time of the year is one of the best to go due to the weather (not cold, not too hot).

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Please note, the Grand Canyon West is not part of Grand Canyon National Park which is comprised of the South and North Rims. Grand Canyon West is owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. We didn’t know that until we got there, I personally though it was all the same park.

Skywalk

The Skywalk is one of the highlights of this tour. It is without a doubt one of the world’s engineering marvels. Walk out on a glass bottom bridge extending 70 feet out from the canyon’s edge into a vast expanse of nothingness. Standing on see-through glass looking 4,000 down to the canyon floor and a small ribbon of the Colorado River will give you a sense of flying. No cameras or phones are allowed at this point but they provide lockers for you free of charge. The view is amazing and it is worth to get the photo package ($65 for a set of 8-12 digital copies)

However, if you have a fear of height, Skywalk is not for you.

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This turned out to be one of the best Spring breaks ever! Nothing like a bit of nature in the mid of chaos to bring you back to peace. Grounded, whole, complete and in tune with myself.

So if you are ever in Nevada or Arizona, I strongly recommend you visit this marvelous place.

xoxo

Jihane

When I say Yummy! You say? Happy #InternationalPieDay

… Not to be confused with Pi Day (pi = 3.15.) that’s in March. 

Pies! yummy pies in your tummy pies! National Pie Day is celebrated annually on January 23rd so go right now and get yourself some pie to celebrate. National Pie Day was created simply to celebrate the grandiosity of the pie.

Pies in the UK and pies in the USA are very different tho. When I first came to the USA I was confused to find savory pies here are not as common as they are there. Also very confused about “pot pies” to me those are just pies, no need for the word “pot” there.

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Chicken “Pot” Pie Basalt, Co.USA.

 

In medieval England, they were called pyes, and instead of being predominantly sweet, they were most often filled with meat — beef, lamb, wild duck, magpie pigeon — spiced with pepper, currants or dates. Historians trace pie’s initial origins to the Greeks, who are thought to be the originators of the pastry shell, which they made by combining water and flour. The wealthy Romans used many different kinds of meats — even mussels and other types of seafood — in their pies. Meat pies were also often part of Roman dessert courses or secundae mensea. Cato the Younger recorded the popularity of this sweet course, and a cheesecake-like dish called Placenta, in his treatise De Agricultura. – A brief History of the Pie (Time.com) 

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Dutch Chocolate Cream, and Bavarian Chocolate pies 

 

A cookbook from 1796 listed only three types of sweet pies; a cookbook written in the late 1800s featured 8 sweet pie varieties; and by  1947 the Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking listed 65 different varieties of sweet pies.

According to British chef, Jamie Oliver, the pie we know and love today has its roots in Northern Europe. Back in the day, olive oil was scarce to nonexistent in the region. Instead, butter and lard were the fats of choice in the harsher and colder climes north of the Mediterranean. The use of these solid fats created a pastry that could be rolled and molded – and so the true pie was born.

Pie Facts: By the American Pie Council

  • There are 231 varieties of apple pie.
  • Pumpkin pie – Contrary to grade school theater productions across the United States, there was no modern-day pie — pumpkin, pecan or otherwise — at the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621.
  • Pecan pie,  is the third most popular choice in The USA.
  • The first pies appeared around 9500 BC in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age.

 

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Apple Pie with Crumble
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Buttermilk Pie

All the sweet scrumptious and yummy pie pictures you see here, I took at House of Pies in Houston, Texas. I went on a little pie eating expedition with some friends (Shout-out to Jess, Jack, and Dennis as well as Ariana for being my pie companions) Sadly they don’t do any savory pies there, however, if it is a sweet pie you are looking for THIS is your place. They have more than 20 different types of pies there!

Anyway,  make sure you celebrate with a yummy slice of your favorite pie, either sweet or savory, American or British. Happy International Pie Day!

Gluten Free Pie Pumpkin Pie Recipe by The Minimalist Baker

Healthier Pie Recipes by Eating Well 

xoxo
Jihane

 

Coffee Talks, and Taste Buds :: #NationalCoffeeDay

You guys! I have been MIA from the blogging-sphere! So busy, but always thinking of you (my readers)  And because I love you all so much I decided to be a little more open-minded about this whole coffee-loving business.

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I am not a coffee person.  I LOVE tea, all types, all colors, and all flavors. I am one of those rare creatures who doesn’t like the bitter taste of coffee lingering in my mouth. I live a coffee-free life. Yes, yes it is possible.

However today September 29th is National Coffee Day! So let’s celebrate all things caffeinated. I invited my friend and  blogger colleague Jess from Reinventing Jess to go out and taste some unusual and special coffee. I asked her to take me to her favorite coffee spot in town, and that she did! She suggested The Doshi Coffee House and I can tell you I was not disappointed!

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The place is nice, small, cozy and intimate. It isn’t too loud and the natural light that comes in is just perfect. A small vintage piano sits in one corner, and a bookshelf with tons of books (double yes!) You can find comfy couches and small tables next to the windows. It is perfect.

I asked the owner to suggest some coffee for someone who doesn’t usually like coffee. He nailed it with his suggestions. We tried the Pistachio Latte, the Hawaiian Coffee (with coconut milk) and the African Toba.

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“French press is the best method to use when making coffee at home”

Pistachio Latte: creamy, sweet, nutty, not bitter. It’s light and silky. The pistachio milk is made in house. It is perfect for the non-coffee lover. THIS coffee right here might transform me into a coffee drinker.

Hawaiian Coffee: slightly bitter and a little stronger, this coffee is like a soft kiss in paradise. Creamy, and toasty with a light coconut taste. The coconut is light enough to let the coffee flavor come through but strong enough for you to know there is coconut in there.

African Toba: this one doesn’t taste like coffee at all. According to the owner this coffee is usually used for medicinal purposes. It has considerable amounts of cloves grounded with the coffee and natural sweetener. Very light, very aromatic because of the cloves, it almost feels like tea.

Three perfect choices for a non-traditional coffee person. Huge thanks to Doshi Coffee House! We had fun talking and tasking coffees.

Overall I enjoyed the whole experience. Many thanks to Jess and her awesome husband and kid for coming along. Their insights into the coffee world were very educational. Jess talked about her early days working as a barista and how she came to appreciate the full taste of coffee. It is always interesting to see how different people like different tastes, while Jess and I enjoyed the exotic tastes her husband went for a familar and more traditional latte, which was also good but has that lingering taste I don’t like.

Am I a transformed person? yes, and no. My mind has opened into the world of coffee and I can’t wait to try more. However, I feel I have a flair for the exotic and wish to try more Indian, African and South American coffees rather than traditional brews. But regardles of it all, tea remains king in my kingdom!

How do you like your coffee?

PS: Doshi Coffee House serves vegetarian food!! It doesn’t get any better than that!

Happy National Coffee Day!

xoxo

Jihane

Austin, Texas Road Trip #TrueAustin

Hello! So I was feeling a little down, a little meh, a little bored and I decided to take an impromptu road trip with my little man. Nothing like exploring new places to revitalize the mind and spirit!

Austin! I thought. Perfect, not too far but far enough to be new. In our 5 years in Texas, we had never visited Austin so off we went! First place in our itinerary was the Barton Spring pools. I have heard so much about them we couldn’t miss it. Also, you know how nature is our church and home so we were all over the idea of going to a natural spring pool.

Barton Spring Pools

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The Good:

  • Nature is all around.
  • The facilities are clean, including the bathrooms.
  • There is plenty of parking space.
  • Kid friendly but also cool for adults only.
  • Cheap. $1 per child and $3 per adult (resident tariff)

The Bad:

  • The water is COLD. So this is not particularly bad, just be aware it will be cold.
  • No food or drinks allowed. This can be tricky when you are with kids. Kids need treats and drinks specially when they are being active outdoors. For my 10-year-old son, this meant downgrading the experience from 4 stars to 2 stars after a member of staff told us off.
  • In order to pay your $5 for parking, you have to find one of the pay and display machines. We were there in line for a good 15mins because it was so busy in there.

After we were informed about the no-food policy we decided to go because we were hungry. We headed along the road and found a bunch of food trucks! anything you want is available there. Foodie heaven! We ended up at Cheap Date Food Truck at South Austin Social, 409 Jessie St, Austin, TX 78704.

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The food was absolutely on point! and the staff was so friendly! We are their Chicken and Rice dish which came packed with delicious vegetables in a curry sauce. We also tried their samosas and plantains! Oh! I love plantains and this was perfect! Shout out to them for the extra bottle of water they gave us! It was hot out there!

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My son also HAD to try an ice cone next door at Sunny Daze. Again, the staff was so friendly with us, we even discussed a few places to visit while in town. And, I made my child very happy with a $3 Blueberry Ice Cone. (the only problem is that he sported blue lips, tongue, and teeth for the rest of the pictures lol)

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We then visited the Texas State Capitol, because well yes! we couldn’t miss that historical spot. It was SO hot though that we only walked around, snapped some pictures and headed back to the safe haven of the car. YES! thank all the stars for AC. How did people survive in Texas without AC I do not know. lol

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After this, next destination was the iconic Graffiti Park. My son and I were so excited! Parking was horrible, mind. The park is on top of a hill and parking space is limited. Thankfully we were riding my brothers Ford Fiesta which is compact enough to fit almost anywhere.

The Graffiti Park is a celebration of art and freedom of the mind. Anyone can go there and leave their art on the wall. Yes! really, anyone. It was buzzing with people, and we had the chance to see a few artists working on their designs.

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And last, to end our adventure we headed in search of an antique store. By pure luck I found a string of little shops with a lot of character. I was at 1120 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78703.

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We discovered a whole world of lost treasures at Fortney Home. Five floors of exquisitly curated antiques and nick nacks.

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Aaaand, we found the loveliest little spot next door at Sweetish Hill Bakery. An amazing selection of cookies and cakes to die for!  We went for the Texas cookie because yeah! Discovering  & loving Texas went perfectly with our road trip theme, and also because Texas has been our home for nearly 6 years now.

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Loved our little road trip! We Hope you loved our review. Have you been to Austin? If so, what is your favorite thing about the city?


Tune in later on this week for our trip to Houston’s Chinatown

xoxo

Jihane

ValoraLife Building #FamilyMoments for Tomorrow

This is a sponsored post

I have been pondering a lot about life lately. The value of the things we do while we are alive, and the security we bring to our family. I recently heard, “We are remembered for the things we do for others, not the things we do for ourselves”

I was a single mother for some time, and being my son’s only provider always worried me. Motherhood means providing for our families and their future and enjoying time together. The moments we spend with family are the most valuable part of life. Now, remarried, the future of my family is something I take very seriously.

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Picture by ValoraLife

Valuable time with our loved ones is not just time spend with our family, but the time we spend actually engaged in activities together. It is not the same to say we watch a movie together if each one of us is glued to their phones while the movie plays in the background.

Valuable time is making memories to remember. This is why that when ValoraLife contacted me, I immediately fell in love with their #familymoments campaign.

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Picture by ValoraLife

ValoraLife, in partnership with the Houston Museum of Natural Science, is providing a significant discount to create your own family moments.

Enjoy an $8 admission to the Museum! that’s savings of up to $17 off regular admission!
All you have to do is present the code (click the link below) at the ticket counter and… ta-da, discount applied!

DISCOUNT CODE HERE! 

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Picture by Valora Life

Who is ValoraLife?

ValoraLife is a new simple and affordable way to buy Life Insurance online. It allows users to receive an online quote in 5 minutes and apply for a life insurance policy online in less than 30 minutes! Which I don’t know you, but I love, because I hate being on the phone for hours talking to a stranger trying to get a quote.

It is a service made with millennials in mind. Latino insights inspired ValoraLife, designed to make it easy to understand Life Insurance, assess the options that fit your budget, and purchase coverage online – with help available if you need it. However, it is worth mentioning ValoraLife is not just for Latinos. It is for anyone like you or me, looking for a way to protect the future of their families once we are gone.
Now take out your phone, take some selfies, and go tag @valoraLife to share your #FamilyMoments, just like I did!.

* To be eligible you must be a U.S citizen or permanent resident (green card holder), reside in the U.S., and be between 18 and 44 years old, have a U.S. bank account and a valid driver’s license.

Jihane


ValoraLife Insurance Services is a division of Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC.

https://www.facebook.com/ValoraLife
https://twitter.com/valoralife/ https://www.instagram.com/valoralife/

Travel Series: Marriott IAH Re-Opening

I was invited yesterday to the grand re-opening of the Marriott Hotel at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. It was a fantastic event, fitting for a fantastically renovated hotel. Its contemporary look conveys everything Houston is about. Hip and sophisticated, diverse and vibrant. The perfect spot for the busy, fast-forward millennial traveler that comes through HTown.

Newly appointed Houston Mayor The Honorable Sylvester Turner was present at the opening ceremony. Accompanied by Mario C.Diaz Houston Aviation Director of Houston Airport Systems, and Rob Steigerwald Chief Operating Officer of America’s West Marriott Intercontinental. The three of them completed the opening by cutting the ribbon and marking the new beginning of the Marriott IAH.

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Newly enhanced lobby area welcomes guests on an open space with artistic accents on the walls. Nearby the bar/restaurant area offers a range of bites and drinks with an intimate atmosphere.

FLIGHTs Grill Executive Chef Patrick Gaugham delighted guests with a versatile selection of beautifully crafted dishes, all of which are available at their restaurant. I strongly recommend you pop by and try them all. Being the food fanatic that I am this was my favorite part!

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Executive Chef Patrick Gaugham

 

Fresh juices (including green juice, my favorite) and smoothies were also served upon arrival, along with parfaits, fresh fruit kebabs, and freshly baked pastries,  all of which I believe are part of their breakfast menu.

 

Savory lunch-type menu after the ceremony included southern classics such as Fried Chicken & Waffles, Brisket & Mac, Salads, and Tacos. Yeah! this is Texas Y’all! Dishes were presented in beautifully balanced mini sized portions, perfect for the occasion.

 

The New Marriott:

Total renovation of all 573 guest rooms features new decor, new furniture, and new linens as well as technology upgrades (high-speed internet and 47inch LCD TVs) New and enhanced bathrooms with large mirrors and new fixtures.

New Entrance & Lobby front desk area.

South tower meeting space and ballroom.

New business center and pool area.

New MClub Lounge.

New Restaurant – FLIGHTs Bar & Lounge

HAM bedroom

Designed with an on-the-go traveler in mind, the completely renovated guest rooms display a polished and inviting look introducing an updated soft contemporary design,  decorative lighting, luxury linens and styled artwork. The custom-designed headboards incorporate the latest technological conveniences with task lighting, electric outlets, and USB outlets (yes! Ipads, Iphones and laptops rejoice!)  High-speed wireless Internet access and 47-inch LCD TVs are standard room amenities.

Bathrooms have been designed to showcase a spa-like feel while providing increased dressing area space. New stand-up tile showers with sleek, transparent glass doors have replaced the tub/shower combos.

“The hotel has been updated with our guest’s comfort in mind so that they may have an uplifting experience and the opportunity to recharge while they are on the road,” said Suzy Hart, general manager of the Houston Airport Marriott.

Without a doubt, the newly renovated Marriott offers comfort and style for both travelers and non-travelers alike. Make sure you stop by next time you are in town, even if only to enjoy a drink and a bite.

 

Jihane – OnixJ


 

About Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental 

Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental at 18700 John F. Kennedy Blvd. in Houston, TX is near the Houston Zoo, Deerbrook Mall and Houston Museum of Natural Science. The hotel features 7 floors with 573 rooms, 6 suites, 1 concierge level, 34 meeting rooms with 30,000 square feet of total event space, a fitness center, outdoor pool and whirlpool. For information, visit http://www.marriott.com/IAHAP or call 1-281-443-2310. 

About the Houston Airport System 

Houston Airports served more than 53 million passengers in 2014. Houston’s three airports — George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) — contribute more than $27.5 billion to the regional economy. IAH and HOU collectively provide nonstop flights to nearly 200 destinations worldwide. For more information, visit fly2houston.com. Get social with Houston Airports by following us on Twitter @IAH and @HobbyAirport. 

Travel Series: Element Hotel

This past Xmas I went to Aspen, Colorado with my family. We had an amazing week of snow, fabulous food, skiing resorts, and friendly atmosphere. I love Colorado. I have been there in two opportunities, once time to Vail, and this time to the Roaring Fork Valley  (Aspen, Glenwood, Snowmass, Carbondale, Basalt area)

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We stayed at the Element By Westin, located in Basalt. This hotel is brand new, it literally open its doors two weeks before our visit. From before our arrival, I knew I could expect one of two things, either it was going to be fantastic or it was going to have gaps in service due to its “new in town” status.

Element Basalt – Aspen is conveniently located within the new Willits Town Center, a sustainable mixed-use community in Roaring Fork Valley, less than 30 minutes to both Aspen and Snowmass Village. The new Element is a short stroll to the community’s shops, restaurants, residences, offices and Whole Foods Market and close to White River National Forest and several premium golf courses.  The LEED-certified hotel is also close to the Rio Grande Trail, a 42-mile continuous multi-use trail completely protected from vehicular traffic, which runs from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, making it perfect for cyclists.

One of the things that inspired me the most about this hotel is its main concept. Element Hotels are designed to be eco-friendly and sustainable, they are in tune with the “green” consumer (such as myself) who looks for ways to be more energy efficient and less harmful for the environment.

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As the first major hotel brand to mandate that all properties pursue sustainable certifications, Element is  recognized as an industry leader in the eco-space and offers travelers a fresh, reimagined interpretation of the traditional hotel experience with natural light, modern design, healthy options and eco-minded sensibilities.

Guests can fuel their day with the healthy Rise breakfast and wind down with the Relax evening wine reception – both complimentary. Spacious studios and one-bedroom suites at Element Basalt –Aspen feature a fluid design of modular furniture, flat-screen LED televisions, large desks with open shelving and custom-designed closets. Rooms also include fully equipped kitchens and the signature Heavenly® Bed, and spa-inspired bathrooms feature an invigorating rain shower and dual-flush toilet.

Note: I love the fact that each room is equipt with a water filter. The hotel does not encourage the use of plastic water bottles, therefore you can have free access 24/7 to pure filtered water in your room without having to buy bottled water. 

Staying on the move is easy with complimentary bikes to borrow, a state-of-the-art 24-hour fitness center, a saline pool and outdoor hot tub. The hotel also offers fast and free high-speed internet and a 626-square-foot meeting room with modular furnishings, a flexible layout and cutting-edge technology that can be customized to meet any business or social need.

Service was impeccable. I have absolutely no complaints at all. Complimentary breakfast was served every day from 6:30am-9:30am with fresh smoothies, coffee, teas, juices and a range of fruit and pastries. Cereals, yogurt, and milk also available. In the evenings, a complimentary glass of wine overlooking the snowy terrace was the perfect way to end busy active days in the valley. The staff was always friendly and polite, special thanks to reception ladies on Xmas eve who followed my “has Santa been here” act with my son, you guys are brilliant!

I loved the continuous “green theme” throughout the hotel and its facilities. Recycling is easy and also encouraged. Use of plastic and plastic waste is minimized – for example,  toilettes are offered in a very environmentally friendly way minimizing the use of plastic bottles and promoting the use of plant-based ingredients. (see pic bellow)

I was very pleased with Element Basalt. The concept, and the execution are brilliantly combined. The overall feeling is one of simple luxury. It is not as lux as the Westin I stated at in Vail, but it is environmentally friendly, and uncomplicated. Clean lines and a fresh atmosphere. Element Basalt its perfect for the eco-friendly millennial and young families, oh! and its pet friendly!.

 


About Element Hotels

Element® Hotels is made to order for guests in the know and on the go. Its bright design defies convention, bathing guest rooms and public spaces in natural light. Stylish and sustainable throughout, Element offers extended stay comfort with a conscience and lots of signature amenities from its healthy RISE breakfast and RELAX evening reception to saline swimming pools, spacious fitness centers, bikes to borrow and electric vehicle charging stations. Starwood’s latest brand innovation, Element made history in 2008 as the only major hotel brand to pursue LEED certification for high-performance buildings brand-wide. To date, there are Element hotels in 16 markets in North America, one Element hotel in Europe, one Element hotel in China, with new domestic and international hotels in development. Visit www.ElementHotels.com or connect on Facebook.

About Silverwest Hotels 

Silverwest Hotels, LLC, is a Denver-based investment and management company formed in 2014 by experienced hotel and resort executives Edward Mace and Charles Peck. Silverwest currently owns and manages a growing portfolio of hotels and developments in destinations such as Colorado, Texas, Iowa and Hawaii.  The company is a joint venture that brings Silverwest together with the institutional fund management platforms and expertise of Mariner Real Estate Management, LLC and an affiliate of Global Endowment Management.   Mariner, based in Kansas City, is a real estate private equity firm focused on opportunistic investments in the commercial real estate market. Global Endowment, based in Charlotte, NC, is an independent investment manager offering an endowment-style investment program to institutional investors, family offices, individuals and other sophisticated investors.    For more information, visit www.silverwesthotels.com

Travel Series: Glenwood Caverns

All pictures by Jihane Rodriguez (me) Copyright 2015.

For those who don’t know, I make stone jewelry. I mostly use quartz and amethyst, but I am also quite familiar with other gems/stones. I am not an expert, but I adore working with this precious gifts from mother earth. That is why as soon as we decided to come to Colorado for the holidays my mind and heart had one location set: Caverns! Nature is my temple, I simply love and cherish anything nature related (hence working with wood and stones before) I have always wanted to explore a cavern in the USA.

Glenwood Springs was originally known as “Defiance”. Defiance was established in 1883, a camp of tents, saloons, and brothels with an increasing amount of cabins and lodging establishments. It was populated with the expected crowd of gamblers, gunslingers, and prostitutes. Town Founder Isaac Cooper’s wife Sarah was having a hard time adjusting to the frontier life and in an attempt to make her environment somewhat more comfortable, persuaded the founders to change the name to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, after her beloved hometown of Glenwood, Iowa.

It reminds me of that TV series Hell on Wheels if you haven’t watched it I seriously recommend you do. I learned a lot about the United States railroad system and the way it was built.

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Glenwood Springs in 2015 was awarded both as the most vibrant small town arts environment in the United States by SMU and the 5th Best Place to Live in America by Outside Magazine. It was also named the “Most Fun Town in America” by Rand McNally and USA Today in their 2011 Best of the Road Rally contest.

Glenwood Springs was also known to be one of the first places in the United States to have electric lights. The original lighting was installed in 1897 inside of the Fairy Caves in Iron mountain. Later on, a dam was built in Glenwood Canyon providing water for the Shoshone power plant. The plant began producing power on May 16, 1909.

Speaking of Fairy Caves, if you come by this charming town you have to make sure you  make time to visit the caves. You take a short ride up the iron mountain in a gondola  that takes you all the way to the top. At the top of the mountain, you find a small play/dine area and the entrance to the two caves; The fairy cave and the King’s Cave. A tour guide is required to enter the caves, and no food or drinks are allowed.

visit for more park info: http://glenwoodcaverns.com

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The Fairy Cave  got its name due to the “dancing lights” the lanterns would make on the cave ceiling and the King’s Cave which is smaller but impressive with a huge “barn-like” room and 125 steps down (and 125 up) to the most beautiful rock formation at the very end. I do not have all the geological information so I am just going to show you pictures and let it be.

From the Fairy caves tour (first set of pictures) you also get the chance to come to an open space that gives you a breathtaking view of the valley. You can only get there through the fairy cave passages. Both caves are kind friendly and no special gear is required.

*Note: not for those scared of heights.*

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The fairy cave tour lasts for about 40mins, and the King’s Cave is shorter maybe 20mins depending on how big your group is and how fit you are walking up those steps on the way back up. Afterward, you can enjoy other rides during different seasons. I think the only other attraction open was the Alpine Coaster which we didn’t ride.

The Alpine Coaster will race you down 3,400 feet until you gradually come to a gentle stop. While you are pulled back up the 1,000 feet to the starting point, you can relax, enjoy the surrounding wildflowers, and think about your next rip-roaring trip down the mountain!

We only got to walk around the little “town” area and shop around at the store/coffee shop before heading down to Glenwood Springs downtown. Overall it was an amazing experience for both little and big explorers! my 10-year-old learned more about geology and rock formation during this tour than he ever has from any book or school class.

#visitColorado, for more pictures visit my Instagram @onixjihane or simply search for #visitcolorado #coloradolive

xoxo

Jihane