Trip to NYC

This past week I visited NYC for work and stayed right in the thick of all the noise, tourists, and thespians. The aka. is located just steps away from the famous Belasco Theater where Sally Field is currently starring in The Glass Menagerie. My room, the service, and decor was exceptional.

I dined at Bareburger for lunch, a delicious chain that offers fresh, vegan, and gluten free options meticulously prepared to accommodate anyone suffering from allergies.

Wearing Topshop sweatshirt

Due to a considerable amount of walking and a blistery cold couple of days in New York, I layered up. I am wearing a gorgeous sapphire blush velvet blazer from Strenesse.  To avoid carrying too many bags, I decided to try the backpack trend, which I have not worn since high school. The Marc Jacobs parrot printed biker bag was a practical and spring forward choice.

Please leave a comment if you would like details about my makeup look!

Holiday Gift Guide

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Even though Halloween just passed, I am already preparing for the holiday season! I find it so much easier to start gift shopping in advance instead of waiting until the last minute. I want to enjoy the season, not feel rushed or burdened. Today, I want to share with you a fabulous holiday gift guide curtesy of The Rittenhouse Spa & Club. The talented senior stylists and estheticians have compiled their favorite gifts for the holiday season sure to please even the most difficult person on your list!

Ettore Mastroddi:

1. The Cortex Professional four-in-one ceramic curling set ($176). This curling set is perfect for traveling and offers different sized wands (1/2, 1, 1.5 and 2 inch) to create gorgeous waves and curls.
2. Paul Labrecque gift set for the ultimate at-home blowout, especially great for fine hair.
Hair Tip: Combine Paul Labrecque root lifting spray, Volume Style ($22) and work his fade protection foam Color Style ($24) into the ends before drying, once dry finish with Paul Labrecque Volume Finish ($26) mist. – $72 total
Irina Kravchenko:
1. The Regenerating Collection from ESPA. This collection provides natural, core essentials for distressed skin with a huge added value. For $145, the set includes ESPA’s signature Nourishing Cleansing Balm (60g), Hydrating Floral SpaFresh (100ml), and the Regenerating Moisture Complex (55ml). Gift givers will save $82 purchasing this as a set instead of buying each item individually.
2. Irina also recommends the “Diamond White Holiday” set from Natura Bisse ($250). These luxurious products will allow guests to experience the same benefits from our signature Diamond White Facial treatment in the comfort of their own home. This gift includes our Diamond White Cleanser ($74), Diamond White Mist ($74) and their Diamond White Oil-Free Brilliant Protection ($102).
Click here for more info on the Diamond White line

Another amazing holiday gift guide is to treat the special person in your life to the pampering spa experience! The Rittenhouse Spa & Club offers numerous packages to treat the people on your holiday gift list.

Holiday Gift Experiences

Tier One: $150 (aka 14K Spa Experience)

30 minute Back, Neck & Shoulders Massage, manicure and pedicure

Tier Two: $300 (aka 18K Spa Experience)

Holiday Sweet Retreat: 30 minute Hydra Facial, 60 minute Rittenhouse Massage and manicure

Tier Three: $500 (aka 24K Spa Experience)

The Ultimate Gift of Relaxation: Quartet Massage, Diamond White Facial, Blow out and styling

Men’s Ultimate Spa Experience ($300)

Indulgent Shave, Haircut, 60 minute Rittenhouse Massage

Make sure to visit The Rittenhouse Spa & Club to shop for the perfect gifts for everyone on your list!

New Hope’s 1870 Wedgwood Inn- Part 2

New Hope

During my delightful stay and conversations with owners, Carl and Dinie, I learned all about the unique differentiators that make the historical New Hope, Pennsylvania truly special. As I mentioned in my previous article, people from all walks of life, from celebrations to business trips to romantic getaways find comfort at the Wedgwood Inn. Over the years, the Wedgwood has continued to embrace the rich history of the Inn and town, while incorporating the modern, including free wifi for convenience. All guests should feel at home no matter the season or holiday. Carl and Dinie offer holiday inspired dinners to ensure that travelers experience the highest hospitality.

Young, old, and everyone in between can enjoy the charming town of New Hope, which is filled with antique shops, delicious restaurants, boutiques, tours, plays, and much more. For a list of upcoming events visit the New Hope Community calendar. Interested in maximizing the scariest month of the year? Make a reservation for a private ghost tour and embark on a lantern-led walking tour while learning legendary local ghost stories. Enjoy seasonal events from the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad including the anticipated Haunted Halloween Train and the upcoming North Pole Express.

Ivyland Railroad

Ivyland Railroad

History buffs can visit the New Hope Historical Society and make a reservation for the Parry Mansion tour.Parry Mansion Museum

The Bucks County Playhouse offers programs for children, teens, and adults. Do not miss out on The Rocky Horror Show, playing October 21st-30th!

Bucks County Playhouse

Bucks County Playhouse

Of course, I could not leave New Hope without browsing through antique shops and strolling through all of the boutiques, including the fabulous vintage pieces in Nightbird Vintage Clothing and Love Saves the Day. I found an absolutely delicious smelling soy candle in Warm Pumpkin Spice from the Bridge Street Soap Company, where you can also create a custom fragrance for body care products!

warm pumpkin spice candle

There is so much to do for all ages. As we begin the homestretch of the holiday season, be sure to take advantage of all the wonderful things that New Hope has to offer. Make a reservation at the Wedgwood Inn and enjoy a relaxing stay with much to do and see. Also, keep in mind that Carl has clients that he offers consultation and education in the hospitality, specifically B&B industry. Anyone interested in switching careers or starting an Innkeeper profession should contact.

Wedgwood Inn

New Hope’s 1870 Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

I have been visiting the Bucks County New Hope area for several years. The Solebury Orchard  is one of my favorite places, especially during the fall season. I need to stock up on their famous apple butter and cider all year round. This is just one of the many beautiful attractions in the area only walking distance from the gorgeous Wedgwood Inn.

The Wedgwood Inn and owners, Carl and Dinie are too special to condense into one article. I will be following up this piece with another feature. Please stay tuned! The Bed & Breakfast was established in 1982 and is only one of the three properties owned by Carl and Dinie, the Umpleby House Bed & Breakfast Inn and the Aaron Burr House.

Umpleby House

Aaron Burr

It is also worth mentioning that it is the oldest continuing B&B in Pennsylvania and celebrating its 35th anniversary this upcoming year! All three Inns are centrally located, nestled on sprawling acreage filled with black walnut trees, rock walls, and decorated with gazebo’s, hammock, and plenty of comfortable lawn furniture. Guests have access to the serene property where they can unwind and relax.

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Let’s begin with my experience. Travelers, business retreats, celebrations, any guest that visits the Inn is treated as if they are family. Dinie and Carl make it a priority to welcome everyone with open arms (even children, which is rare for this type of establishment). Their passion is evident and it is truly a labor of love. Carl mentioned that they wanted to find a job that they did not feel as if they needed a vacation. Over the years, the Inn itself may have driven guests, but it is their ability to successfully run not just a B&B but an escape from the “dog eat dog world,” into a calm and inviting environment. This culture/ atmosphere is evident and Carl and Dinie are to be credited as well as their delightful and equally welcoming staff including Innkeepers, Carrie and Olga.

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Planning a visit to this famous B&B was enhanced by the time of year. I was fortunate enough to stay during my favorite season, which added to my experience. The fall weather was crisp in the morning with dew drops on the grass, sunny, and a light breeze in the air. I can only image the beauty during the winter months, which is decorated with twinkling winter lights and Wedgwood ornaments; open all year round even on holidays!

In the morning, the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafted into my beautiful room. The dining area is a new addition to the historic home, added on to accommodate a growing number of guests. As I entered the meticulous and cozy room I was immediately greeted and introduced to other guests- two couples which were recently married and celebrating their honeymoon. Fresh fruit, homemade jam, yogurt, granola, and orange juice waited for me at the table. Dinie poured coffee and chatted with me. I felt as if I had known her for years. Fresh baked egg casserole was served along with fresh baked croissant and peach bread still warm from the oven. Even the baskets that held the bread had little pumpkins decorating the exterior in honor of the upcoming holiday. I appreciate these little touches more than I can even describe, which is sometimes lost when staying at a large hotel.

My stay was incredibly restful and I would recommend the Wedgwood Inn to all those interested in exploring the unique Buck’s County area or making the Inn a home base for traveling to the major cities.

More to come next week…

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

 

 

New Hope’s 1870 Wedgwood Inn

Wedgwood Inn

This weekend I will be visiting and staying at the Wedgwood Inn, located in New Hope Pennsylvania. I am thrilled to be featuring this beautiful and historic Victorian Bed & Breakfast. Owners and Innkeepers, Nadine and Carl purchased this one of a kind home in 1982 and have been running it ever since. The Wedgwood Inn is set on two acres of bucolic land in the heart of Bucks County.

The Inn pays homage to the past as guests dine on bone blue Wedgwood china (Invented by Josiah Wedgwood) hence the name. Contemporary accommodations are incorporated as well including jacuzzi suites. Breakfast is served daily and all food is made from scratch with love.

Stay tuned as I report my full experience, interview with owners, and photos next week!

Hotel Series Part 3- The Loews Hotel Philadelphia

If you are planing to visit Philly either from out of town or a jaunt from the suburbs, it is very easy to look online for a hotel, scroll the amenities, look through the photo gallery, but you still cannot grasp the culture of the hotel. This is the primary reason why I wanted to include a hotel series on Sugarpeel. I want potential hotel guests to really get the inside scoop. Let’s face it, traveling is costly and the stay needs to be comfortable, exciting, and worth the money spent.

In this third installment of the hotel series, I stayed at the Loews Hotel Philadelphia to really gain inside perspective of this luxury hotel. The biggest differentiator for me, hands down, is the people. Yes, the hotel was stunning, sleek and modern decor- punctuated with black Belgium marble, complete with a fitness center, spa, pool, multiple conference rooms, a ballroom, and guest rooms so clean you could eat off the floor. However, the people is still what stands out to me.

Loews Hotel Philadelphia

Loews Hotel Philadelphia

Bank & Bourbon

Bank & Bourbon

Bank & Bourbon

Loews Hotel Philadelphia

Ashley

Loews Hotel Philadelphia

Loews Hotel Philadelphia

Customer service is king. I do not care how wonderful a place from boutiques to attractions- the service must be exceptional. The Loews Hotel has perfected the customer experience. Every employee seems genuinely happy to work at the hotel. Their exuberance is transferred to the guests by making them feel at home, comfortable, in good hands. These little touches may seem like the cherry on the proverbial sundae, but in actuality is the foundation of a great stay.

The Bank & Bourbon restaurant in the Loews hosts an annual Bourbon Bash event- proceeds to DonorsChoose.org. This year $37,000 was raised to benefit teachers in the Philadelphia school district. Teachers choose where the funds are most needed to benefit the students. The Loews Hotel cares about their city, their guests, and their employees…and it shows!

Thank you to Loews Hotel Philadelphia.

Photographer and Videographer Aubrey Basla. Thank you http://www.bensound.com for music.

The Ritz-Carlton Bath and Body Products

The Ritz-Carlton

Many years ago when I visited L.A. I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. My visit was so relaxing that I barely wanted to leave the hotel. The amenities, aesthetic, and service was exceptional. One of my favorite parts of my gorgeous suite was the incredible bathroom complete with an Italian marble vanity, walk-in shower, and separate bath tub. The products were luxurious and memorable. After all these years, I still remember the scent of the bath and body products. Now that I added the new hotel series I decided to review these products as a contributing factor for choosing The Ritz-Carlton.

The Ritz-Carlton Hand and Body Moisturizer is a thick and creamy lotion with the intoxicating fragrance of ylang ylang, jasmine, and bergamot. This lotion completely absorbs into the skin and is the perfect after shower or bath product. I love wearing it right before bed so I can wake up still smelling the floral citrus scent.

The Spa Fresh Purifying Shower Gel is rich and hydrating. After applying, skin feels silky smooth and moisturized. The calming fragrance of chamomile and lavender soothes and cools the skin. I would recommend this gentle shower gel if you experience sensitive skin or a sunburn.

The Rittenhouse Spa & Club- Hair by Paul Labrecque

Well I did it- after years of watching some of my favorite actresses and a famous Disney Princess, I dyed my hair red! I met Paul Labrecque at The Rittenhouse Spa & Club of which he is the proprietor and Master Celebrity Stylist. On my phone, I saved many photos of styles that I thought would work for my hair. I also, for good measure, favorited a couple of hair colors that were completely out of my comfort zone, but that I loved nonetheless. As I began my consultation, I showed him a photo with the beauty Lily Collins who recently dyed her hair a vibrant red. He laughed softly and agreed that red was an excellent choice. He went on to say that the moment he looked at me he felt I should have red hair. In his creative hands I submitted fully to cut and color, trusting completely that I would love the finished look. Full video below!

Ashley Basla

Ashley Basla

Ashley Basla

Ashley Basla

Ashley Basla

Paul Labrecque and Ashley Basla

Paul applied INOA L’Oreal amonia free hair color

While Paul was applying the color, I was able to speak to him candidly about some of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to hair. Paul believes that one big mistake is trying to move too far from your natural hair. For instance, he hears women complain that they wished their curls were even and beautiful, but the truth is using a straightener damages the hair texture and can alter it entirely. Instead, keep in mind that “simple is sexy” and “less is more.” Your hair should have movement and not be weighed down with excessive product. The right products (including the Paul Labrecque line that I will be featuring) will be just as effective without having to overload the hair.

In the summertime, make sure to wear a hat and avoid chlorine and salt water. This may seem easy, but sometimes unavoidable. In that case make sure to wash your hair immediately following a dive in the swimming pool and on the beach use an oil based product to slick your hair in a ponytail. This will keep the salt water from penetrating your hair strands.

As for his favorite current trend…the undercut. This style is universally cool for both men and women and can include a simple to intricate design, personalized for everybody. Also, remember, “hair is your one renewable resource.” Do not stress over a drastic hair change. It will grow back, return to original color, and can be restyled.

Back to my hair transformation. The entire appointment lasted under two hours. Those who frequent the salon often know that that is quite the feat. More and more salons seem to drag the process by overbooking simultaneously. By the time you leave you are starving after missing one to two meals and exhausted from sitting in the same attitude for hours…just me? Anyway, The Rittenhouse Spa & Club is a pristine environment offering traditional spa services in a tranquil, relaxing environment as well as offering a full array of products, hair and nails services and makeup application. Each artist is more talented than the next and as I sat and waited with baited breath for my “Ariel” hair, I was able to witness their exceptional work.

The results were a bit overwhelming. It seemed like a whirlwind experience; pick color, cut, style, done. I was impressed and elated with the outcome. It’s amazing that such a change did not seem like such a change. In fact, it felt natural. That is the power of an excellent artist. Paul was able to create a look that captured my personality.

Thank you to Paul, Brian and The Rittenhouse!

Ashley Basla

Paul Labrecque and Ashley Basla

Thank you to Videographer, Aubrey Basla and http://www.bensound.com for the music!

Best Mexican Cuisine

First let me say that I acknowledge that the restaurant that I am featuring must warrant such a title, which it does. Second, I recognize the fact that I have previously featured this restaurant, but it deserves another one.

I have been dining at Taqueria La Michoacana for over ten years. The atmosphere is lively and energetic. The decor is traditional and pays homage to the culture. Most of all, walking into the Mexican restaurant I feel the love and passion. There is a great sense of pride in preparing each dish and presenting an ambiance that is relaxing and friendly. This gem of a restaurant is tucked away in Norristown, PA- unassuming, not flashy just quality and authentic dishes.

Last weekend I went out to dinner with my family and was all ready to cherry pick vegan side dishes on the menu, except this was not necessary. La Michoacana now offers a complete list of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. I could have squealed in delight I was so happy. I began by munching on the delicious and freshly homemade corn tortilla chips served with three different types of salsa from spicy to hot. As my vegan tacos rounded the corner and ended up sitting in front of me, I was giddy. It may sound superficial to get so excited by a meal, but dining options can be challenging when you have restrictions, but when your favorite restaurant includes a menu that you can eat…heaven! I am going again tomorrow night then off to see the new Ghostbusters movie. I cannot stress this enough- if you love Mexican food, this is the place to try. If you have been disappointed in the past by bad Mexican food, this is the place to try. Check them out on Twitter @lamichacana301

Taqueria La Michoacana

Hotel Series Part Two- The Rittenhouse

Recently, I had the pleasure of touring The Rittenhouse Hotel and enjoying a salon service that I will feature next. The Rittenhouse is a beautiful luxury boutique hotel with fabulous amenities and excellent customer service. The hotel is located in Rittenhouse square across from the lush park. Whether you are traveling from afar or planning a staycation- this hotel offers something for everyone.

Chef Jon Cichon is the Executive Chef at Lacroix; creating delicious meals in the culinary style of “progressive international cuisine.” Awarded World’s Best Wine Lists 2016 by The World of Fine Wine. Guests can relax while they dine as the table area overlooks the park. The ambiance is upscale yet comfortable.

Lacroix

Lacroix

Lacroix

Craving a spot of tea in the afternoon? Guests can make themselves at home in The Mary Cassatt Tea Room, which serves tea and other delicacies including desserts and light fare from 2pm-5pm daily. The room is elegant and refined, embodying all of the traditional elements of a classic tea room setting, complete with white linen and impeccable natural light.

Tea Room

Tea Room

The rooms are incredibly spacious and inviting. Marble bathrooms are stocked with complimentary toiletries from renowned Italian perfumer, Acqua di Parma. Each room contains a private bar and 24 hour in-room dining. Every detail is covered to ensure a truly unforgettable experience. Traveling with your four legged friend? Not a problem. The Rittenhouse is a pet friendly hotel, making sure that no matter the guest, the stay will be enjoyable and stress free.

The Rittenhouse

The Rittenhouse

Some of the other exciting features include an indoor pool, gym with state of the art equipment and exercise classes, a gorgeous salon and spa.

The Rittenhouse

The Rittenhouse

The Rittenhouse

As Philadelphia is the host of the DNC- The Rittenhouse will be offering themed cocktails and spa treatments. This month and next month guests can enjoy BYO Mondays at Lacroix. There is also a brand new caviar menu! Be sure to explore the Luxury Specials and Packages prior to planning your next trip.

The Rittenhouse is centrally located and for those unfamiliar with Philadelphia, there is much to do in the city. Take advantage of your trip by visiting some of the fun upcoming events and attractions.  As a guest in this hotel you truly experience the relaxation of a vacation. I am thrilled to share with you my experience at The Rittenhouse Spa & Club, where proprietor and celebrity stylist Paul Labrecque styled my hair. Stay tuned for my next post including a video.

Thank you to The Rittenhouse Hotel!