Unplugg this Holiday with Club U

Do you ever wish you had a concierge for all your beauty appointments? When I travel, I usually need my nails done, my eyebrows tweezed and certain areas waxed. What if there was a service that could help you make those appointments working with your schedule and your specific needs or preferences?

Say hello to Unplugg’s Club U. Fill out your SmartFit Profile and you receive up to 4 options of spas available for your desired service catering to your location and timing preference. Once you book, all you have to do is show up and the service is then billed to your credit card on file. 

I was recently in NY and needed a specific neutral shade on my nails for a commercial I was shooting the following day. While I was too busy to get it done ahead of time, I easily found a place close to my first meeting location within walking distance. I booked with Club U and voila, all I had to do was show up at the allotted time and complete my service. I was off to my next meeting in no time. 

I liked how there were a few options suggested in my preferred area based on the vibe of the spa (relaxing or no frills) and expertise of the nail techs (nail art or basic). All very important. With the holidays in full swing you can even pick up a gift certificate for a friend to enjoy during this busy time. The best part is that once you are a Club U member you can start to collect points for upgrades, free touch ups and my favourite – rewards! 

ELENA:)

Quarterly Travel Update: Cancun, DC and NYC

I know – because I am not writing after every trip I’m starting to slack off and honestly couldn’t remember if I went anywhere in the last quarter. That’s how bad my memory is. But thanks to my IG photos I remembered – Cancun and the more recent trips to DC and NY.

Cancun (May 9 – 12)

For my second organized press trip ever, I headed off to Cancun, Mexico. A fun, easy jaunt to Cancun makes for an easy getaway for those who need a trip away but don’t want the hassle of actually planning anything. Like zero. Except for maybe the dates and what to pack on the trip.

I never do all-inclusive resorts for the simple fact that feeling stuck in one place makes me feel claustrophobic. Yet, I based that feeling on a short prior trip that was an all-inclusive. So I needed to set the record straight.

I arrived dressed all in black in the sweltering heat and was whisked away in a shuttle to the Panama Jack Resort. I was thankfully welcomed with a refreshing drink and a tote full of goodies helpful for the short week ahead. Once I freshened up it was time to meet the crew over some tequila tasting and then a scrumptious surf and turf dinner on the beach. What a great way to start the trip.

The next day, after a quick tour of the hotel and all the amenities we were off to visit a stingless bee farm. I knew there was a bee scarcity issue in the world, but what I didn’t realize was that most bees live in the Southern Hemisphere. At this bee farm they work with the Mayan farmers to spread the hives throughout the area, this helps to sustain the bees while creating work for the locals.

The next day we visited Chichen Itza, a huge Mayan temple. I had no idea that it was one of the wonders of the world (clearly I needed to Google that after visiting). It’s too bad it can no longer be climbed but it was definitely a sight to see. After walking around Chichen Itza, we went to the Ikkil Cenote/Ts’onote (a fresh water filled sink hole). Then it was back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. After a semi-scandalous last night (no details will be mentioned here – you’ll have to ask me in person) we all had a good laugh the next day over brunch. Read the coverage I did of Panama Jack for RESIDENT Magazine here.

 

Washington DC (June 3-6)

I managed to book Good Morning Washington in DC for my book and since I had never gone (well since I was 7), I thought this would be the perfect time to write a city guide on DC for RESIDENT as well. Watch how the show went (in my opinion – it wasn’t my best interview) but c’est la vie. DC has so many great food spots; Le Diplomate, Iron Gate, Espita Mezcaleria were three of my faves as well as this hidden cocktail bar below a donut shop called Nocturne.  I really enjoyed the Portrait Gallery and walking around the National Mall as well.

 

 

NYC (Jun 6-9)

NYC was a whirlwind as per usual. Between stacking up the meetings and heading to my usual PaintBox appointment and finally checking out old hot spots like Hotel Chantelle (that isn’t actually a hotel) and Jimmy at the James Hotel. No matter how many times of been to NY, I still manage to visit new places and It seemed to be a time of great change: friends were leaving NYC, getting married, having babies, buying apartments. So much change.

 

ELENA:)

 

Quarterly Travel Update: Athens, NYC and London x 2

For the last quarter of 2017, I stayed in Vancouver, which is very unusual for me. So it’s no surprise that I’ve already visited Athens, London x 2 and NY since the start of the year.

I usually post a separate entry for each city – but not this time (probably because I feel like I’m running out of time to write before my next adventure). I’ve decided to do quarterly travel reports this 2018.

Athens

Athens came as a surprise as my friend was going to be there working and visiting her friend and I thought I would tag along. Check out the Athens City Guide I curated for BELLA LA here. I was very much into Greek mythology when I was in elementary and I’m a huge fan of the food so I was sold.

Since it was incredibly last minute I purchased a bunch of one ways. Just getting to Athens was painful (Vancouver to Calgary to Toronto to London to Athens!) but once I was there I settled in at the CocoMat Athens hotel just fine.

Nestled in a great location of Kolonaki, the CocoMat Athens has a concept bespoke mattress (CocoMat) store below an ultra modern boutique hotel. It was everything I always ask for in a hotel: clean, design savvy, great water pressure with excellent drainage (you may laugh – but have you seen my hair?) yummy drinks in the mini bar and a bed to top all hotel beds I have ever slept on. I live for breakfast, and CocoMat’s spread was incredible. Although the coffeemaker was slightly intimidating the fresh yogurt was fantastic (Greek yogurt is just yogurt in Greece 😉 ).

Athens has a great mix of the quintessential European charm (small boutiques, lovely cafes with al fresco dining). Behind the Akropoli Metro station was the hidden gem, Froots Juice Bar. A warm ‘Almond Lover’ (almond milk, cacao powder, cinnamon and brown sugar) was the perfect way to recharge.

Beyond the sporadic cafes and cobble stone streets, there is a mix of Athens street art areas (Exarcheia and Neapoli) with the occasional riot police spotted after hours. Walking along the Acropolis and the Agora, the same place where Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle was a great honour. Besides checking out the obvious ruins, I also went to the Museum of Cycladic Art which antiquities were housed in a beautiful mansion. I fell in love with the cafe and Vancouver Emily Carr artist (who was of Greek descent) had a piece of modern art that really caught my eye. The National Archaeological Museum had the largest collection of Roman ruins outside of Italy, but my favourite was the Acropolis museum by far.

We had the pleasure of making a traditional Greek meal with Melina Selalma. A former TV cooking show host, she was so delightful and informative. We learned a lot about the origin of ingredients and a few recipes we could replicate at home. Whenever I’m away, I always like to do some sort of cooking class because of the fresh ingredients that you can find based in the area you are in. Visiting Athens only made me love olives and yogurt more.

New York

Initially I went for NYFW to check out some shows. It ended up being a few impromptu meetings, a fashion show (Mac Duggal), a catch up birthday brunch with my East Coast friends and my biggest media appearance to date – an NBC NEWS BETTER segment on Valentine’s Day about The Love List.

I stayed at a great new hotel called the LIFE Hotel. It was the original building where LIFE Magazine was published. It is my new fave and it’s in such a great NoMad location, easy enough to get around and The Henry restaurant (the hotel restaurant) is so great. The pizza, the drinks, the breakfast – its all so great.

As per usual, I got my nails done at Paint Box (Rihanna was there a day prior) and shopped at Drew Barrymore’s new shop called Dear Drew that is across the street.

 

The NBC NEWS BETTER segment was a Facebook Live video taped at 30 Rockefeller Center. It was an amazing experience. During one of my first visits to NY, I went to the NBC studios to take a tour. I remember walking through all the halls and such and wondered if I would ever return. Almost ten years from that moment, I was filming a segment in the same building. Check it out here.

After the taping, I lined up for a Magnolia cupcake and then took a taxi to the airport to head home.

London

After Athens, I went to London for a weekend in January and then I was back in early March.

During the weekend, I stayed in Notting Hill at the Laslett. It’s a cute boutique hotel in a renovated mansion. I went to Harrods for the first time ages. I forgot how huge and how insanely busy it is. I picked up my new notebook from Smythson with the saying “Make it Happen” stamped on it.

The next day, I quickly visited The Shard and had yummy lunch at the Shangri-La and realized that I somehow wanted to visit the building again. The trip to see the view from the bathroom was spectacular – although it was cloudy. I thought about visiting the Natural History Museum, but the queue was so long that I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum for the Balenciaga exhibit instead. I’m a fan of Balenciaga so it worked perfectly. After, I went to the Ginstitute at the Distillery on Portobello Road and made my own concoction of gin. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to sample my bottle.

In early March, I had the opportunity to visit London again. I attended two workshops at The Shard with Warwick Business School for the first two days of the trip. I was getting accustomed to taking the tube as I was staying at the Hoxton Shoreditch. East London is a very different area from Notting Hill for sure.

A good majority of my meetings were cancelled so I went to visit the beautiful Sky Garden to check out the view and made a stop at Hearst UK.

On the weekend, I visited DryBy get some cool nail art done before heading to the Tate Modern. The last time I was there, I was 23 (?) so I definitely needed a refresher. Finished the evening with drinks at the Corinthia and then dinner at the Lido Restaurant at the Curtain. Its’ always great to visit a city and have the ability to walk around rather being always driven.

The next day was a full on shopping day starting with lunch at Mortimer House (with a quick stop at the British Museum) and arrived back at the hotel unable to feel my feet (ha!) and then it was back to the hotel to pack and get ready to go home. Although I couldn’t wait to head back home, for the first time in my life – I miscalculated my travel time and ended up having to be rerouted to Calgary instead of Toronto.  It actually worked in my favour as it got me home earlier.

Until next quarter….

ELENA:)

NBC BETTER Segment for The Love List

Here is the piece I filmed yesterday at NBC NEWS BETTER. In addition to the live taping there was a great accompanying article that lives on the site as well. Check it out here.

A big thank you to Style Verify who shared this piece on Apple News: Why every female should have a Love List. 

 

ELENA:)

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