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Etre Belle Spa is at NorthPark Center! Free Service Giveaway

16 July 2015

We are getting home from a big family vacation to Telluride. We had so much fun and, long story short (or for later), I am definitely understanding why traveling with a little one can seem more like a work trip than a vacation at times!

Thankfully, before our trip I was able to treat myself to a little time alone while also easily running some last minute errands before we left! The new Etre Belle Spa in Dallas is conveniently in NorthPark Center, right next to the second level of Neiman Marcus. I think it is such a cool concept to have a full service spa with traditional spa and salon services such as facials, massages, nails and hair as well as medical treatments including cosmetic injectables, laser skin care and medical weight loss right in the heart of everyone's favorite place to shop!

My first question when I heard about the new spa was wondering if the ambiance would reflect being in a high traffic area. The welcome area for spa services is actually a little back from the mall entrance, which makes it really relaxing and serene as you settle in before your appointment.

Etre Belle was very gracious to let me try one of their HydraFacials. I made the mistake for a long time of staying away from anything touted as hydrating/moisturizing since I have more oily and problematic skin. I've definitely seen the error of my ways and HydraFacial is actually one of the best treatments for my skin type as it exfoliates and clears skin while hydrating at the same time. The main difference is the pen machine that leaves different serums on the skin while it exfoliates, so your skin is recovering while it is being cleansed. It's a super relaxing facial since it is so effective without needing heavy extractions and adding lots of facial massage!

It was the perfect service to book before a trip where we would be taking lots of pictures and adjusting to high altitudes, which can be hard on skin. A week later I am still in awe of how healthy my skin looks! 

I took a look around before I left and love the build out of the entire spa! The mani/pedi station is so chic and cozy looking. Wouldn't this be a perfect place to treat a friend to a birthday pedicure after a little shopping?

There's also a full service hair salon. Two of my favorite things are getting my hair cut and going to the mall on weekday evenings - both are just a little less crowded and a fun mid-week treat. Way better than giving up weekend time as well. This set up make a hair cut and shopping a fun combo! 

I loved the Eminence products used in my facial, which makes sense as they are completely organic. A lot of Etre Belle's product lines like Moroccan Oil, Eminence and more can only be purchased in spas or salons, so it is great to have this location at NorthPark where I can stop in and pick up a product now without needing to make the extra trip! 

To celebrate the grand opening of the spa, Etre Belle is having an awesome party this weekend with giveaways, membership specials and 20 percent off all products and services for its grand opening celebration from Friday, July 17, through, Sunday, July 19.  The first 50 people to shop or book a service on Friday will even receive a free gift!

But, why wait to celebrate? I am super excited to be able to giveaway one spa service from Etre Belle (mani/pedi, signature massage, signature facial or hydrafacial) starting today! Just enter below! 

Vaya Con Baby at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

08 July 2015

Life has been so good lately. Just as I hoped at the end of last year, the whirlwind of amazing has slowed to some long, steady days of good. Life is still crazy on the daily in its own ways, but I haven't felt overwhelmed like I was before, especially since we got back from our first week long family vacation at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya. Our zone strategy, ships passing parental coverage from Markus and I's life juggling all came to a halt and for the first time I could recall, our family of three just sat around and enjoyed each other for five straight days. It was heaven on earth. 

I had seen the Grand Velas a few years ago and loved the idea of a more sophisticated all inclusive for families. As I looked for something that was a mix of relaxing, hospitable, quiet and family friendly, it continued to come up in my searches with rave reviews. 

Our room was on the Zen property of the hotel, which I loved. It was such a special solace from the bright beach. The hotel is on federal wildlife reserve so you can see mangroves, jungle and private beach as part of the hotel thanks to special efforts from Grand Velas to meet LEED certificatons. Heidi naps at least once a day, so I always look for a hotel with a good patio or balcony when we're traveling so I can read outside and not feel cooped up. 

zen suite grand velas riviera maya

One of the reasons I was attracted to all inclusive is Heidi and I like to eat - a lot! With a toddler in tow and her mom with an appetite, it was really nice to order snacks by the pool as we needed them without the little jab of wondering what the tab would look like at checkout. All day swimming meant all day poolside guacamole!

family resorts mexico

This isn't your wristband hotel all-inclusive food, though. Grand Velas is dubbed a "foodie all-inclusive" and I'd like to think I put it to the test. My favorite restaurant was nine course tasting dinner at Cucina de Autor. It was one of the best meals I've ever had! I've heard when the hotel is in busy season, you need reservations early. We secured a few and some babysitting through the concierge before our arrival, and also some through our room's concierge while we were there. It was always a flawless process and they even kept track of our dietary preferences/allergies across all restaurants. 

grand velas gluten free

I loved the walk through the thatch roof walkways of the Zen hotel. We would take the shuttle (new, air conditioned, Nissan passenger vans) over to the Ambassador hotel for breakfast, pool and beach time every day. We never had to wait for a shuttle.

The Zen hotel also hosts the amazing spa! I went for one morning after some yoga on the beach. I actually just did the pass through the water rooms (steam, sauna, etc) and it was a really unique, full service experience. A spa attendant would prep and time me for my stay in each room and bring me chilled cucumbers for my eyes, clay for my skin and drinks to sip on depending on which room I was in. 

grand velas spa

A lot of my friends have asked about babysitting for Heidi while we were at the resort. We used the hotel babysitter for two nights so we could go to the adults-only restaurants (about half of the restaurants are for 15 and up only). I really liked that the babysitter is employed by the hotel, not through a third party service, and background checked, CPR and first aid certified. It was also really nice that we were always on the resort, so even if we went cell phone free she could call the restaurant if there was any issue. Heidi was always so worn out from a day outside that she went down almost as soon as we left anyways. 

It was really helpful that 24 hour room service was included in the rate so we could order Heidi breakfast, snacks or dinner while we were in the room! She always liked having her own dinner while we got ready to go out for a while. 

I could get use to Heidi's vacation life at the Grand Velas. My days of thinking it was a real treat if our Holiday Inn had the Disney Channel are flashing back now. The poolside fajitas were our gluten-free favorite with the fluffiest corn tortillas I've ever had.

Heidi and I also had a summer fling with the popsicle cart man! Homemade flavors like lychee, mango and strawberry were so refreshing by the pool every day! 

The beautiful, white sand beach was just a short flight of stairs down from the main pool, so we had a good rotation going starting at one and switching off after lunch. Heidi loved playing in the sand and splashing in the waves that came up to the store. It was a great first introduction to the beach and water!

Resident nerd that I am, we took a short eco-tour of the property. I loved seeing the quieter side of the property, with natural cenotes, mangroves, iguanas and the hotel's extremely impressive gardens that they use in their restaurants. Markus and Heidi are walking through the lime and papaya trees here. 

And here's a look at the herb garden and greenhouse. They even make their lotions and products for the spa with these freshly grown ingredients. 

We had the best time on this vacation and made so many memories! There were a few comments from friends and fellow travelers that they were impressed to see Heidi went with us. I'm a huge believer in alone time for Markus and I, and this trip was very accommodating for everyone in the family, so why not? We were all so attached and happy headed home and made up for the days in routine that can fall into the shuffle. I might not have laid out by the pool uninterrupted much, but I enjoyed every minute exploring and seeing new things through Heidi - even when she put me to work!

#NationalFriedChickenDay goes Gluten Free at Max's Wine Dive

06 July 2015

A Texas girl raised in Kentucky with formative years in Lubbock, I'm proud to admit that one of my absolute favorite foods is fried chicken. There's something so classic, carefree and summery about biting into a fresh, crispy piece!

With the days of gluten treats behind me, fried chicken was atop the list of guilty pleasures I thought I'd never see again, right next to its partner in crime, a fresh glazed donut. I was so thrilled to find out the connoisseur of fried chicken in Dallas, Max's Wine Dive, offers amazing fried chicken made completely gluten free! If you're looking to treat yourself outside of the Dallas area, Max's Wine Dive also has locations in Austin, Atlanta, San Antonio, Denver, Fort Worth and Houston.

Not only is Max's fried chicken gluten free, but the buttermilk and jalapeno marinated chicken is fried in their own proprietary blend of gluten-free flour to make sure it's the same amazing experience as your friend dining next to you. I am always so appreciative of restaurants who strive to make gluten-free dining just as unique as anything else on their menu, instead of just substituting with gluten-free product from a national vendor.

Because the only thing that's better than gluten free fried chicken is a glass of champagne, Max's is offering 25% off sparkling wines and champagnes tonight, July 6, in honor of National Fried Chicken Day! You know where to find me tonight.

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