Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sandos Playacar Beach Resort | An Honest Review

As many of you know, Joe & I went on our honeymoon last week in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We stayed at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort and I want to share my thoughts on the resort. 

We stayed for eight days at Sandos Playacar and stayed in a Premium Club Ocean Front Suite. From my research on Expedia, I could tell that the Premium Club offered slightly more but we mainly chose it for the ocean front view. The Trip Advisor reviews mention that these rooms were a little outdated and needed to be renovated - we chose to overlook this for the view.

Upon check in, we were offered cocktails and were invited to a "welcome breakfast" [which I thought was because I mentioned we were on our honeymoon]. We settled into our room, which was a decent size but they gave us two queen beds instead of a king [awkward]. 

The resort itself was nice and spread out. The area closest to the beach housed the premium club. There were two pools between the two buildings. The main pool is for all the guests and the smaller pool in front is for "members" [we'll get to that later]. There are several bars and a few restaurants scattered before reaching "the meeting point" - an area for groups to meet and also the best wifi. Just past the meeting point sits the outdoor theater for all of their nightly entertainment. There are two more restaurants and a little nightclub in the vicinity as well. 

From there, you can walk by the haciendas [where members stay], which are more secluded. Along the walk, you'll find the cat sanctuary and a spot for the donkey and goats. After wondering down a road, you'll reach the main lobby, with the adults only section on one side [swim up bar included] and the family section on the other side. The entire walk, from one end to the other, takes about 15 minutes. 

On our first morning, we wondered to the meeting point for our "welcome breakfast". Little did we know - this was a scam and was actually a timeshare presentation. The resort covets their "members" and several sections are members only. We quickly opted out of the members scam and went off to explore the town. 

This resort offers everything you'll typically find at an all inclusive - unlimited food and drinks, pools, nightly entertainment, and activities at the resort. The only additional feature we utilized was the spa. I got a pedicure and Joe and I got couples massages on the beach. The spa featured the beauty salon, gym, and hydrotherapy pools. We took advantage of the hydrotherapy pools for about 45 minutes before getting our massage. Overall our spa experience was relaxing but the music from the pool area was a little distracting during the massage. We also intended to try some of their fitness classes but I got a stomach infection midway through the trip and was trapped in our room. 

As for the food, all inclusive generally doesn't have the highest quality food. Breakfast was either the buffet or room service [24 hour room service was included with our room]. The selections for room service were minimal and I didn't love the buffet. Lunch was mainly the same. Dinner was a choice of restaurants in addition to the buffet. Sandos has a French restaurant, Italian restaurant, Mexican restaurant, Mexican to-go spot [similar to Chipotle], cupcake shop/coffee shop, Brazil restaurant, Steakhouse, and Asian spot. We didn't get a chance to try them all, as I got a stomach infection. From what I tried, Le Gourmet (the French option) was my favorite. Their filet mignon was actually decent! I also found their Mexican to-go option to be pretty good [they also made crepes there] and I loved the coffee shop - mainly for the good wifi and AC. 

This resort was made for families and large groups. They were always blasting dance music and there was plenty to do at the resort alone. That being said - this wasn't the most romantic and serene location for a honeymoon. We didn't feel that any aspect of the resort was "luxury". For us, we like a combination of excursions and downtime at the resort. This resort could have been a little more relaxing and not as hectic. 

Would I stay here again? Absolutely not. Between the timeshare scam and the stomach infection [I think it came from food or water at the resort], I didn't have a great experience, which is sad for our honeymoon! 

Is this resort right for you? Depends what you're looking for. Bachelorette parties, families, and large groups - this is your spot. Romantic couple getaways - maybe not so much. 

My final rating is 3/5

I'd love to hear your opinion if you've stayed at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort as well!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

5 Ways To Make Flowers Last One Month

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a floral design class by Michael Gaffney at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi. This celebrity florist has been in the business for over 15 years and shared some really useful tips to make your blooms last. Also, how beautiful is the bouquet I arranged?! [pictured above]

1. Pick Good Flowers: your flowers should be firm and bounce back; roses should be full [avoid tight, small buds]

2. Water Your Flowers: submerge your flowers under water for 30-45 minutes when you first get them; if you can't submerge the whole bouquet, dunk the head at least

3. Bleach: skip the flower food and go for two drops of bleach in your vase; this will kill the bacteria and remove most of the old flower odor

4. Wax Sealant: Michael said his magic spray is Crowning Glory. Use this wax sealant to keep the moisture in your bouquet. I ran home and ordered my bottle!

5. Trim Stems: cut a couple inches off the bottoms of your stems

Extra Tip for Hydrangeas:
Michael recommended picking up alum powder [from the spice section!] to bring hydrangeas back to life or make them last several weeks - add the powder to water and submerge the flowers in the water for an hour and a half to make them last two to three weeks.

Michael offers classes across the country and soon he'll be offering classes online!

What do you think of my arrangement?!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

What I'm Bringing On My Honeymoon

When you're reading this post, I will be on my honeymoon in Mexico!

Joe and I are spending a week in paradise and I can't wait to share loads of photos on Instagram. I'll definitely be putting up a travel guide and video diary when I get back.

I've slowly collected a few fun items for the trip and want to share for any summer vacation needs. 

BASIC BLACK BIKINI: Every girl needs a classic black swim suit - I scored this for under $10 during a Black Friday sale

RED ONE PIECE: Another sale find over the holidays; I love the rust color and cut outs on the side [currently on sale for under $20!]

BAMBOO PURSE: I've been eyeing this purse since last summer but haven't had a tropical vacation to bring it on

SUN HAT: I've also been wanting an excuse to wear one of these trendy hats!

PACKING CUBES: These may not be a new item but they are SO useful when packing for a long trip. My MIL got them for me for Christmas last year and I always use them to organize my items in my checked bag.

ROSE GOLD LUGGAGE: Right before our wedding, our large suitcase fell apart. We were lucky enough to receive some amazing carry on pieces but for this trip, I need the big guns. I picked up this rose gold beauty in a size large.

BLUE OFF THE SHOULDER BIKINI: Another Black Friday sale find for under $10 [also this site always has sales!]

BLUSH FLIP FLOPS: You can't go wrong with classic cheap flip flops & I love the blush color!

Have you been to Riviera Maya?! Leave your recommendations in the comments!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

28 Things You Don't Know About Me | Birthday

It's my 28th birthday!

In honor of my birthday, I thought it would be fun to share 28 things you don't know about me. I always post a video on my birthday [this year is no exception] but I don't normally share a blog post - I wanted to change that this year!

Without further ado..

1. Pigs are my favorite animal - I hope to have one someday!
2. I'm an only child but growing up I wanted to be a twin so badly
3. Sabrina the Teenage Witch was one of my favorite shows growing up
4. I knew I was going to marry Joe less than a year into dating
5. I only wear about 25% of my wardrobe [I'm the worst at organizing my closet!]
6. I never thought I liked cities until I moved to New York
7. I have an unhealthy addiction to the Bachelor shows [currently bingeing Bachelor in Paradise Australia]
8. I've been to Costa Rica four times - I love the people & the beaches
9. I didn't get stung by a bee until I was 23 [and then I got stung four times in one month!]
10. Peanut butter & chocolate is my favorite combination
11. My childhood goldfish lived to be 13 [her name was Star]
12. My all time favorite date with Joe was going to the drive in movie theater
13. I love the idea of crafts but I'm not very good at them
14. I've had the same Subway sandwich order since I was 15
15. I cry every time I watch our wedding video
16. Roses are absolute favorite flower
17. I just bought my first luxury handbag for my birthday
18. I've struggled with insomnia since I was in elementary school
19. I've been to 18 states in the US
20. My husband AND my dad are geologists
21. I'm going on my honeymoon next week!
22. Fall is my favorite season
23. I've studied abroad three times in my life [Costa Rica in high school, Spain in college, and Italy in grad school]
24. I've already changed careers once
25. I love being born in late May because my birthday always falls around Memorial Day
26. I can't stand pineapple [unless it's SUPER fresh]
27. I love road trips 
28. I haven't driven [or owned a car] in almost three years

Share a fun fact about yourself in the comments!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Where I've Been | Life Update

Hello Everyone!

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. Honestly I had no intention of taking of break - it just sort of happened. I've been wanting to post but figured a life update was the most appropriate thing to start with.

I'm definitely one of those people who feels like all of my posts need to be perfect - informative, captivating, and full of stunning imagery. That is an awesome goal but not always realistic. I'm hoping to start posting more often regardless of whether or not my content is perfect.

So...what have I been up to since early April? Lots! Back in the winter, Joe and I booked tons of spring/summer travel. I've already gone on a couple of our trips and they were probably the most tiring of the weekend trips. 

Our first trip was to Minnesota. We went the first weekend of May and visited a couple friend [who officiated our wedding!]. I used this trip to start my Weekend Warrior series on YouTube. This series will document my upcoming weekend trips. Our second trip was last weekend and we went to Disney World. Joe got me a GoPro for my birthday and we brought it [I got my gift a little early!]. We have SO much footage and the video might not come out for a bit. 

This weekend we're staying in town for my birthday [May 22]. I have plans with friends on Saturday and Joe on Sunday. I'll be documenting my birthday weekend and sharing it on my actual birthday next Tuesday!

In addition to our travels, I've been busy with work and just life. Joe has been working 60+ hours and it's been tough on us. Luckily our weekend trips are helping us escape reality and enjoy quality time with each other. 

I update most on Instagram so I highly recommend following along there in real time.

I promise more posts to come soon!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

How To Start Your Body Positive Journey

Ok here we go - I'm NOT body positive. I'm not accepting of my own body. I struggle with self-confidence every single day. Back in January, I tried to rebrand my blog and Instagram to be body positive and support this movement. Then I kind of didn't post much. I went back to my old comfortable posts of New York stoops and beautiful flowers. 

I didn't start sharing these posts because honestly didn't know what to say. I'm barely starting my journey and I falsely felt like I couldn't write about something without being "perfect" or at my end goal. But that's exactly how I got where I am today. I've always had a black and white mentality. Either everything or nothing. 

Last week I posted a photo on Instagram. I was nervous to post it but I knew I wanted to post more about body positivity. I was also nervous because I was sharing a product and I didn't know how the brand would feel. But I did it! I was incredibly honest and shared how I was working towards body respect [a stepping stone to becoming body positive] and how you should take however long to get there. At first I got my standard response - friends saying something nice and encouraging. Then the brand reposted my photo and a flood of amazing comments came in. It made me realize that I need to start my body positive series here! And I'm starting out with a few tips for beginning your journey. 

Find People Who Look Like You: As someone who grew up buried in magazines, I didn't see a single curve. Curvy/plus size models were not a thing like they are today [well we are getting there]. Now it's easier to find women who like me by browsing Instagram [so many curvy fashion bloggers!] and sometimes even in magazines. 

Learn: Utilize resources like books and podcasts. I started my journey by listening to the Food Psych Podcast - I still listen to it by the way. There are also tons of great books. I recommend Body Respect and Health At Every Size.

Surround Yourself With Like-Minded Friends: When we spend all of our time with people who bash their bodies, we tend to do the same. Try to find friends who focus on other aspects of life.

Those are a few tips for starting out. I'm still very early in my journey. My motto for this chapter of my life should really be progress not perfection. I definitely plan to share more on this topic in the future!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How To Land Your Dream Job

Happy Wednesday!

If you've been following my career journey, you know that I changed fields and I'm really happy with where I landed. I've gone through some major struggles with pursuing something other than what I studied. But I did it. I can't imagine where I would be now if I hadn't made this change. 

Today I want to share a few tips I've learned after countless interviews [some good and some bad] and what specifically made a difference in getting me to my dream job.

1. Connect On LinkedIn: Seek out professionals in the job or field you want to be in. I recommend looking up other alumni from your university. Check out the companies they work for. Look at their career progression. Send them a message and see if you can connect over e-mail, phone, or even a coffee chat. 

2. Master Your Story: It takes some practice but the best thing you can do is learn the most efficient and effective way to share your story. Every interview I've ever had: tell me about your background. I learned to consolidate my story and emphasize the significant points. Practice with a friend or family member! It'll get easier explaining your background and how you became passionate about your chosen field.

3. Network: Networking has helped me out immensely. I landed my first professional job right after graduating from undergrad by networking months prior to graduation. When switching careers, I engaged with everyone I could find to learn more and look for potential opportunities. 

4. Be Unique: Figure out what makes you special. What unique experience do you bring to the table? How might your perspective and skills be different than the average candidate?

5. Always Be Nice: You are bound to deal with rejection. You'll inevitably be overlooked or forgotten about at some point in your job search. Do not let this detour you. Hiring teams aren't trying to be rude or inconsiderate; they just have a lot on their plate. Always be nice. Always be considerate. Say thank you. Be flexible. That may just make a difference. [BUT never let anyone walk all over you!]

6. Closed Mouths Don't Get Fed: Follow up. This is key. Don't expect a nice thank you note to result in an offer but always send an email indicating that you're grateful and express why you want the position. Maybe mention any gaps or address a weakness from your interview and how you can improve it. Then be respectful and wait a decent amount of time before checking in. Speaking up, at appropriate times, can make all the difference.

7. Stay Positive: Landing your dream job isn't easy. Be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. There are tons of reasons why you may not get a particular opportunity [ahem internal hires]. Keep your chin up because your dream job is right around the corner.

© Modern Mollie | New York City Lifestyle Blog. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.