New Normal is now cliché, but there’s no denying that 2020will likely become slang to our kids for anything terrible. Between sitting through Zoom meetings, masking up to buy groceries and standing on the six-feet-apart dots in line, any joy we can bring to our lives is appreciated.
In other posts we’ve talked about creative staycation activities including backyard camping and geocaching. Today I want to share some of my favorite ways to bring travel inside your home. Sometimes it’s about evoking memories from a specific destination, but just as often you may be craving something more ethereal: The serenity you can only get from a luxury hotel stay.
I have a term, Gilded Cage Syndrome (GCS), that describes the paralysis that comes from the feeling you can only get from lounging in a perfectly serene hotel room. In fact, I don’t tend to book fancy hotels in destinations that I want to explore because I’ve had too many days slip through my fingers between the crisp white high thread count sheets, the bespoke toiletries and the absolute quiet you can only get when you are alone with a great book and maybe a glass of Syrah.
I think moms are most susceptible to GCS, especially now that your home is full of little people (and maybe big people) who constantly demand our attention. While I can’t remove the kids from your home, I can at least share how you can bring the sensations of travel into your own space.
If you do better with auditory lessons, Cambria Hotels has come to the rescue with a series of short-but-sweet podcasts giving you actionable tips on the hotel experience at home. Between designing tips about bringing the local environment into your space to creating a spa experience, the Travel Inspired with Cambria Hotels podcasts are a soothing balm for frazzled nerves. I listen on Spotify, but you can also find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RadioPublic, Stitcher, Pandora, iHeart and Google Podcasts.
While we’re on Spotify, let me also introduce you to Le Meridien Hotels’ playlists. The Le Meridien chain, like Cambria mentioned above, lies in my sweet spot between value and luxury, with a dash of culture and a taste of local flair. If you’ve ever stayed at a Le Meridien, you’re already familiar with the jazzy, sultry and relaxing vibe the hotels demonstrate every time you step into an elevator. You’ll never hear about pina coladas and getting caught in the rain at a Le Meridien. The hotel chain has made a number of curated playlists on Spotify that, if I close my eyes, take me back to Shanghai or Paris, if only for a moment.
I’ll understand if your memory of Las Vegas scents runs to old cigarettes and industrial solvent, but my Sin City scent story features coconut, banana and pineapple with clove and cinnamon spices finished with vanilla. I breathe deeply every time I enter the Mandalay Bay resort on the southern end of the Strip, and some investigation led me to a discovery: you can buy the signature scent online. Aroma Retail sells versions of not only the Mandalay Bay scent, but most Vegas casinos (Aria being the most popular) along with hotel infusions as varied as Margaritaville’s Sun and Sand and the Park Hyatt Aviara’s Kai Jasmine.
If your favorite destination is more Mine Train than MGM, you’re also in luck. The Magic Candle Company has (un-officially) recreated the scents of Disney attractions, resorts and most importantly treats. They even have a subscription box, and I’ve confessed how crazy I am for a monthly box of happiness. I may or may not have just signed up.
While I’m mentioning Disney, I’d be remiss not to talk about the ways you can make theme park inspired snacks at home. Some of my Disneyfied food experiments have not gone well (I think Dole Whip is best left to the experts), but there is hope. I recently previewed the Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook and many of the recipes look doable even for a baking novice. The book has inspired me to attempt Epcot’s School Bread, which has a secret ingredient: instant vanilla pudding. Who knew?
If you’re more a fan of instant gratification than instant pudding, check out Goldbelly. The site offers an expansive selection of meals and sweets from small restaurants all over the country. From lobsters to key lime pie to deep dish, you would be hard pressed to find a more varied menu on one site.
I grew up in Arizona and was so pleased to find authentic Tucson Tamales. Folks that aren’t from the Southwest don’t realize that cuisine from the Sonoran desert is nothing like more popular Tex-Mex. Goldbelly offers a unique opportunity to satisfy a childhood craving and support a small business in the process.
The one commodity that is in ample supply right now is time. Why not use your spare hours finally putting your thousands of iPhone photos in order? Your older relatives will thank you for making hard copies of your favorite memories. A photo book or calendar could be a wonderful gift when you can’t be there in person. Snapfish is the king of photo organization sites and can even auto-upload your photos through your phone or Instagram.
While you’re in there organizing your photos, you might find one or two that are not only Insta-worthy but also suitable for actual artwork. For a unique medium that won’t require a frame, consider printing your photo directly on metal with a site like mpix.
There’s an undisputed king in the hotel mattress space: the Westin Heavenly Bed. If you’re up for the splurge, friends who have bought the bed assure me that you won’t be disappointed. I’ve heard reviews like “sleeping on a cloud” about the Heavenly Bed. You don’t need to buy actual hotel bedding to get the hotel bedding vibe: just go with high count white sheets and a white duvet.
If you’re any type of traveler, I don’t have to tell you about the fun of collecting luxury hotel toiletries. I recently donated 29 pounds of hotel soap to charity and still have enough to last a lifetime. But I also have the bad habit of “saving” the best stuff in case the queen stops by. Recently I started bringing out the Molton Brown from the Hyatt Regency Churchill in London and the Acqua di Parma from the Westin Excelsior in Florence and wish I had done it years ago. Why not break into your stash to add a bit of variety to your routine? While you’re at it, pull out some eye shades from one of your business class amenity kits.
While I can’t help you travel any sooner, hopefully by bringing some travel experiences into your home life you can pass the meantime allowing your senses to take you away, if even for a moment.