Back from Disney World

Hey friends! I am back from Florida. It has been a whirlwind week and a half, and it is so good to be home! If you will recall when we left for Disney Emma Kate was sick, and let’s just say we have had better Disney trips. She was super cranky and fussy (rightfully so) and keeping it real, it really stressed us all out. Her fever broke the day we got to Disney but that didn’t stop her craziness. I’m not sure if she was just super tired, or overwhelmed or what, but I have never seen her act the way she did in Disney…she was a hot mess! I think not knowing what to expect was difficult on us, and let’s just say I need a vacation from my vacation. We for sure still had fun and happy moments, and I can’t wait to share them with you over the next couple of weeks. You will get the good, the bad and the ugly of taking a very strong willed two year old to Disney. Smile I loved seeing her meet the princesses, ride the rides, and experience my happy place. Of course there is still so much more I want to show her, but we got a good start on getting her obsessed with Disney just like the rest of the family. She said cute things like “BIG CASTLE!” and “Pluto has a big tongue” and “Emma Kate and Minnie Mouse!”

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My parents recently bought into the Disney vacation club and generously used their points for our trip, and getting a two bedroom villa was for sure the way to go. We could put Emma Kate to bed at night and still hang out in the living room without having to be quiet. We were on the first floor of Saratoga Springs and it was great to let her just walk out of the patio and out to the grass or playground. Having a full kitchen and washer and dryer was a plus, too!

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Our room was on the bottom right behind the bench in the back of the photo.

Also having our car was the way to go because we didn’t have to wait in long bus lines with a toddler having a meltdown. We still were able to ride the ferry and the monorail which Emma Kate liked.

My dad and I went to the grocery store the first day to get groceries so we cold eat snacks and breakfast in the room each day to save money. We also grilled outside by the playground the last night which was a lot of fun. Emma Kate loved the pool/kids water play area and we went there three or four times in the afternoon after nap.

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I feel like my thoughts are so scattered right now and I will get more specific when I give you my daily recaps, but I did want to check in and let yall know I am still alive and that you will hear more about the trip. I hope everyone had a great week!

QOTD: Were your expectations too high the first time you brought your child on vacation?

Don’t Be Like That

Eagle Creek so graciously sent some packing essentials my way, which I was very grateful for. I have always packed for races with garbage and grocery bags, so this was a real treat! Check out my short video below for more info and a fun little way of sharing about their products.

Here is the Eagle Creek website where you can find all of their cool gear! Remember, no one wants to sit next to a smelly person’s stuff on an airplane. So just don’t be like that, ok?

QOTD: How do you pack your stinky race day gear and shoes?

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

When I was in Florida for the Princess Half Marathon weekend, I had the opportunity to stay at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. I stayed here for one night in January, but we were so busy I did not have the chance to really look around, so I was excited to have another stay and see what it was all about.

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This hotel is tucked away on Disney property, and you have probably passed it 100 times and not even noticed. It is conveniently located to Disney Springs as well as the theme parks. Hilton Orlando bonnet creek

The rooms are spacious at 414 sq. feet, and the beds were very comfortable. There was a desk in the room as well as a television, coffee maker, safe, and refrigerator. We had a huge window with a great view of the pool! Off in the distance we could see the Swan and Dolphin as well as the Tower of Terror!

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The lobby is super inviting and fun, check out the ceiling!

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One of my favorite things was this little spot which was open 24 hours a day. They had snacks, coffee, pastries, candy, donuts, chips, among other things. It was great to go down at 3:00 in the morning and grab some coffee the morning of the 10k.

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The views out the windows in the lobby area were amazing, and there was even a screen porch and fire pit so you could enjoy the sunset.

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There is also a convention center at Hilton Bonnet Creek, and they do weddings as well!

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There are several restaurants, and Jen and I ate at two of them. The first night we ate at Harvest, and they even had a special menu for the runners.

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Downstairs by the pool and next to Harvest they had a table of different waters for the guests. The watermelon was so good.

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Even though we didn’t use it because we were doing enough running as it was, there was a really nice gym on the ground floor next to the pool area.

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Speaking of the pool area…WOW. I am saving some of my photos for another post, but yall, this was an oasis. A lazy river, zero entry, waterslide, hot tub, plenty of lounge chairs, and an amazing outdoor restaurant.

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We ate at Beech the night before the half marathon, and it had such a relaxing vibe, and the weather was perfect to eat outside poolside.

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Also, this hotel is right next to the Waldorf Astoria, where there is an amazing spa. There is also a golf course, shopping, and a kids club next door at Waldorf Astoria.

Jen and I kept talking about how much we loved this hotel, the food, the pool, and the options it provided us during our stay. Being on Disney property is just so magical, and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek allows you to be in the middle of it all without breaking the bank. I hope to stay here again soon. The pool is already calling my name!

QOTD: Do you like a good pool/lazy river? Have you stayed at Bonnet Creek?

Disney Fantasy Cruise 2016: Day 2

After my 12 hour sleep the night before, I was ready to enjoy our first full day on board the Disney Fantasy. It was a day at sea, as we sailed towards Cozumel. We got up, ate breakfast at the buffet at Cabanas, and headed to the adult pool area.

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I brought three novels to read, something I haven’t done in a LONG time, and I was really excited to just relax, read, and nap, and that’s exactly what we did, with a mimosa thrown in at some point. We were officially on vacation.

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We had lunch at Cabanas, and went right back out to our lounge chairs for more reading and napping. What an exciting day, huh? Check out our view. If you look closely, you can see land.

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Later in the afternoon we headed back to our room to shower and get ready for formal night. Let me just take a minute to say how happy I am that formal night is early on in the cruise, before we ate all the things and then had to fit into a nice dress.

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By the way the lighting in the cabins is terrible for picture taking! I didn’t think to go out on the balcony until later in the cruise. I blame the sun, or something like that.

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We had dinner in Animator’s Palate, and we were also recognized for our 9 year wedding anniversary a couple of days prior. Yummy dessert!

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After dinner, we changed clothes and walked around a bit before heading to the adult club for some fun and games. I want to say we also saw the show Aladdin in the theater this night.

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I was so excited when I say the lady in charge of the adults for the week was one we have had before, and she is HILARIOUS, and did not disappoint. We played a game Bobby and I both love called “The Quest”. If you have been on a DCL cruise, hopefully you have played. It’s a scavenger hunt game, where you are in teams with a number and you have to bring “your number, AND ____” to the front, and the people who do it fastest get the most points. Think things like a man wearing a bra, two men skipping holding hands, a girl in men’s shoes, etc. etc. So many laughs my stomach hurt, and thankfully this time I didn’t have to be the one to take off my bra in front of strangers.

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Anyway, our team ended up winning, which was even more fun! We were given Disney Cruise Line hats as a prize, because, it’s what all the cool kids wear.

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We were worn out after all the fun, so headed back to our room to discover this guy:

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The next day was Cozumel, and we had heard it was supposed to storm all day, so we crossed our fingers the weather would hold out, and went to bed.

QOTD: Have you ever played the Quest? Do you dress up for formal night on a cruise?

Pre-Thanksgiving Weekend

Baby it’s cold outside! We had our first freeze last night, and it dipped into the 20’s (for you northern folk that’s a big deal for Mississippi, yall!) Anyway, we had a good weekend but now it’s time to get ready for turkey day! We will be hosting at my house, and judging by the current state of my house, it is NOT ready for company!

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(Speaking of turkey, how adorable is EK’s art project?!?)

But first, the weekend. We drove to Louisiana to visit my parents. I had kind of an overwhelming week and really needed some quality time with family plus some help with the wee one. We haven’t taken her to my parents since before we bought Orange Leaf back in August, so we were well overdo for a visit!

Friday I hung out with Emma Kate and packed up for the trip while Bobby went to work.

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It was a chilly morning but we went for a walk and played in the driveway.

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Friday afternoon we drove down to the parental units’ house, and Emma Kate was excited to explore their big house now that she can walk. She also enjoyed her new little table at their house.

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Saturday morning I went for a 3.1 mile run, and it went really well, which I was totally not expecting! Aren’t those the best?

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We just hung out around the house Saturday which I REALLY needed. Mom, dad and I ventured out to Wal-Mart to get Emma Kate some Christmas toys (I know, on a Saturday, are we nuts?!?) but otherwise we stayed at the house.

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Fun fact: my mom has been playing the piano most of her life.

My dad grilled, and we ended up watching Jurassic World that evening. Thoughts on that movie? It had some good parts, but the cheesy parts were a bit more than I could handle. I mean, of course everyone knows you light a flare and walk up to a T-Rex then let it chase you in heels, right?

Sunday morning was more hanging out, and more grilling. it turned cold, but that didn’t stop us of course!

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Emma Kate loved running through the house pulling things out of cabinets and shutting herself in rooms (her new favorite thing…until she gets mad because she can’t open the door.) The Saints had a bye this week so when it was the little one’s nap time we loaded up and hit the road back home. It’s good to be back, but always sad when a fun weekend has to come to an end. Luckily, I get to see family in just a few days!

QOTD: Thoughts on Jurassic World? What did you do this weekend? Anyone play the piano? I took lessons for a year and hated it. Sad times.

Running and the Family Vacation

Hello! I am sadly home from Disney, but I am headed out today again for the weekend to speak at Refresh Summit in Tennessee! I will be back Sunday night and blogging will resume next week! In the meantime, please enjoy this guest post from Michelle.

A few times a year, when my school is on a break week, I pile my kids in the car and head from South Carolina to Florida so my parents and in-laws can see their grand-children. These trips are usually viewed as somewhat of a vacation for me, as we are out of the usual routine and structure that generally runs our life. I’ve discovered, though, that intentional planning must be done in order to maintain my running schedule while out of my routine. It’s actually much more difficult to be as disciplined as I need to be about my running with the eating out, impromptu outings with friends, chats with family and friends that run past my bedtime, etc. These things add up and can easily take a toll on my performance.

While I love that running is something that I can do anywhere, I can’t deny that it has added a wrinkle or two when I travel.

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Here a few tips that I have found to keep my training on track while I’m away:

-Enlist the help of a buddy, even in a different locale.

Since I’m returning to my hometown, I’m lucky that I have a couple of friends who are willing to lace up and go out with me. Was it a little strange to send a Facebook message to someone I haven’t physically seen or talked to in 20 years? Yes. Was it completely worth it to have this person run 8 miles with me and share childhood memories? You bet. I’m so glad I reached out.

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-Plan your running times, just as you would at home.

I try to run on the same schedule as I do at home. I’m very intentional about it. I can’t view it as something that I’ll do “if I have time”. I MAKE the time and plan other things around it.

-Get enough rest.

On my last trip, I nonchalantly believed that staying out late and getting only 3 hours of sleep wouldn’t be that big of a deal the night before a long run day. Boy, did my body have a different story for me the next morning. It was a painful 4 miles, instead of the nice 7 I had planned to do. Lesson learned.

-Stay hydrated.

This is good advice all the time, but I think it’s even harder when we’re out of our normal surroundings. In my case, my hometown’s water is AWFUL to drink. Because my parents usually eat most meals out when we visit, I find myself drinking more soda than I should, but the tap water just isn’t good. So I have to consciously remember to make up for it and drink lots of the bottled water that we keep at my folk’s house.

-Allow yourself an indulgence or two, but watch your eating.

There are several meals that I look forward to when I visit my folks. But I’m finding that my body performs better when it gets better food. So when we want a meal of fried shrimp, sweet potato fries coleslaw and hushpuppies (don’t judge!), I try to make sure we go on the same day that I’ve run, and then make sure that my other meals are more balanced. I run better and I feel better.

-Pack your gear. Whatever you use at home, plan to have with you.

It’s a little strange to me that my running gear now needs a bag all by itself. Hydration backpack, good socks, blister protection, Glide, KTape…..Do I really need to carry ALL of my gear across three states to have a good run? Well, it’s certainly easier if I do. Fortunately I’m driving, and I have a big trunk.

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That’s how I keep myself on track while I travel. What other tips do you have?

5 Tips for Running When you Travel

Hi everyone! When you are reading this I may very well be on the road. Bobby and I have to make a quick trip out of state for a business venture I will tell you about tomorrow! There is a lot going on in our little world, but I did some blogging ahead of time and will be on social media @HeathersLG. Since we will be staying at a hotel and I have started half marathon training, I knew I was going to want to get some running in while we are gone. There is some planning that has to take place before you go, so I wanted to share some tips/my thought process with you.

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1.) Research the area: It’s not wise to just take off running from your hotel without knowing a bit about the area. Maybe you could even try to connect with local runners on social media and ask them their favorite routes. Traveling is a great time for exploring a new place! Maybe find a route that has a convenience store you can stop at along the way for a bottle of water, or a park with a scenic trail.

2.) Pack well: I know there are a million thoughts going in and out of your head when trying to pack for a trip and thinking about running gear may be the last thing on your mind, but if you have everything you need all together in one bag you may be more likely to actually go for a run when you reach your destination. I bring a drawstring bag with my GPS watch, headbands, GU, body glide, sunglasses, etc. whenever I travel so there is no excuse. Then it’s just a matter of throwing in a couple running outfits and my shoes!

3.) Be safe: Always tell someone where you plan to run and what time you will be back, even if it’s a text to a friend or a front desk worker at the hotel. Be mindful of your surroundings! I never run with headphones when I am running somewhere new. I know I need to be on the lookout, especially in a bigger city where I am crossing streets and what not.

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Stopped at a crosswalk on a group run in Boston at the Healthy Living Summit.

4.) Make time: This is a big one for me! Travel wears me out yall. The last thing I want to do after a long day of driving or flying is lace up my running shoes! It is important to look at your schedule and pencil in a time to hit the hotel gym or run the roads, or it may not actually happen.

5.) Call the hotel: Hotel workers are your friend! Usually they are super knowledgeable of the area, and can hopefully tell you areas you should probably avoid, or a place where runners go on the weekend to log some longer miles. They may even be able to give you the number of a local running store you can call for help as well. It never hurts to ask!

I need to be held accountable while I am away from home to stick to my plan, so ASK ME on social media if I have run yet while I’m gone. I will be taking my tips to heart and getting my workouts in.

QOTD: What is your best tip for running in a new place? To you venture outside or stick to the hotel gym?

Coming Soon: The Henderson

Destin Florida has been a favorite vacation spot of mine for many years. I have great memories of staying in a condo steps from the sugar white sands, staying out in the sun all day and playing board games with my family at night (I know, I was a super cool teenager).

As I got older and then got married, our tastes and wants in a beach vacation changed, and we quickly fell in love with Henderson Park Inn, a wonderful adults only bed and breakfast right on the beach that is a part of the Southern Living Hotel collection. We have been guests of the Inn for the past three summers, so you can imagine my surprise when an email hit my inbox at the beginning of the year outlining a new hotel to be built right behind my beloved Henderson Park Inn. I had a moment of panic, followed by several questions.

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We went to Destin for our annual stay last week, and I am happy to report that the Innkeeper, Ryan Olin, put my fears to rest, and actually got me..dare I say….excited about the great things coming to the property. I sat down with him one afternoon to discuss the new resort, and I had quite the list of questions. Thankfully, Ryan had a great answer for every one of them, and then some. Follow along as I tell you about the newest addition to the beautiful Destin skyline…The Henderson.

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The Henderson will open in the summer of 2016 as a five diamond resort managed by Salamander, who is known for amazing dining and spa experiences. It will boast 171 rooms, a spa with 11 treatment rooms, two pools including an adults only area, a lazy river, a bar, restaurant, and beach access.

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This beautiful upscale resort will also include amenities such as free shuttle service to and from the airport, complimentary cars to take you around Destin, and tram service to the beach walkway 24 hours a day. Every room will have a balcony, and a smart TV. This place is going to be so nice! Think of it as a “beach club” experience. There will be chair and umbrella service, a pool bar, water and beach recreation, and lots of attention to detail.

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On top of all of this, the Henderson will be home to 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space, something that is lacking in Destin. There will be private ballrooms, boardrooms, and 30,000 square feet of outdoor space to host private parties, weddings, and corporate functions. (Hello vow renewal?!?)

Guests of the Inn like myself were concerned about what that means for the adults only establishment that I consider one of Destin’s best kept secrets. I was assured time and time again that great strides will be taken to ensure the tranquility of the 35 room Bed and Breakfast remains intact. The guests of the new hotel will have beach access, but not free reign of the Inn itself, but instead designated areas and walkways (however, guests of the Inn will have use of the pools at the new resort!).

Ryan showed me exactly where the walkway will go along the side of the Inn’s property down to the beach, and we talked about gates, security, concierges, and making sure everyone remains happy at the Inn, and at The Henderson.

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I know some people have a large family, or prefer to do some of their own cooking on vacation, so there is something for everyone coming! Ryan told me about a condo building that is in the works as well to be completed at the end of 2016. There will be  one and two bedroom units near to The Henderson, with beach access as well. These condos will be available for purchase pretty soon from what I hear.

The news of the new resort is exciting not just because it’s going to be gorgeous and fancy, but because this is something that you won’t find anywhere else in Destin. This place will be the nicest new hotel you will find from New Orleans all the way to Tampa, and the most grand hotel built in all of Florida in the past five years.

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I personally cannot wait to see everything come to fruition from renderings to reality, and hopefully enjoy The Henderson for myself in the future.

Be sure to follow along on their Facebook page for updates!

QOTD: What do you look for in a beach hotel?

Walt Disney World 2016 Vacations

As I have mentioned many many times here on my blog, Disney vacations are my favorite. I have some amazing memories as a child and an adult with my family and friends thanks to the mouse. In 2010 I went on my first Disney Cruise Line cruise (not just for kids, I promise!) and am hooked.

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In 2012 I ventured to the west coast for my first trip to where the magic all started, Disneyland.

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These three vacation spots mean a lot to me, but Walt Disney World will always hold a special place simply because it was my first and most frequent Disney destination.

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Why am I telling you all of this? Because prices and packages for 2016 are coming out JUNE 22 for Walt Disney World and I cannot wait to start booking clients!!!! I have been a Disney travel planner for over five years now, and this is always a crazy but rewarding time of year for me. If you are interested in vacationing to WDW in 2016, email me at [email protected] for a free no obligation quote (my services are FREE!) Pricing for Disney cruise line for 2016 has been out for awhile, so I would love to give you a quote for that as well.

I can book your hotel and tickets

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Help you decide where to eat

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and even help you with those special extra activities while you are there, like spa treatments

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or a round of golf.

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Don’t forget about the waterparks, too!

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There is so much to do in WDW besides just ride rides, and I would love to tell you more about it!

Shoot me an email at [email protected] so we can start planning your family vacation.

QOTD: When is your next vacation? Where did you stay the last time you were in WDW?

Aloft New Orleans Downtown

When Bobby and I went to New Orleans for the Crescent City Classic the weekend of Easter, we decided to stay in a hotel close to the start line the night before as opposed to driving in that morning of the race as we have done in the past.

We ended up staying at the newly opened Aloft New Orleans Downtown, which was just a few short block to the starting line at the Superdome. I have never stayed at an Aloft hotel before but have heard good things, so I was excited to try it out.

We were given a corner room on the 15th floor with great views of the city, and even the Superdome! I loved the apartment-style feel, the bathroom was open to the bedroom with a space up top above the “wall” which was pretty neat.

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It had a very modern, techy vibe, and the room was huge!

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My favorite though was the New Orleans touch in between the beds. Who doesn’t love street cars? DSC_0033

Here is a closer look.

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Our room had two comfy queen beds (king beds are available), a flat screen TV, a desk, and plenty of other seating. I was afraid with so many windows, we wouldn’t be able to sleep. However, Aloft had us covered (no pun intended) with double shades on the windows, it was plenty dark for us!

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The bathroom area had two closet spaces, an in room safe, a refrigerator, and coffee maker.

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Also something I loved, a free bottle of water!

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We loved the lotion and soaps here, too.

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There was a sliding door where the shower was located. DSC_0029

Which by the way, was huge and really nice!

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We were also left a sweet note and some snacks. (Side note: There is a little store downstairs called Re:Fuel that is open 24/7 where you can purchase snacks and food and charge it to your room.)

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Bobby’s favorite part were the city views. He sat in the windows just looking around for the longest time. The hotel ahs a great vantage point! Can you see the Superdome?

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Since we arrived when it was dark, I waited to take pictures of the lobby and outside the next day after the race.

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Below is a picture of the WXYZ bar. When we checked in the night before, it was during happy hour and boy was this place hoppin’! Definitely seemed like the place to be for those wanting to enjoy the social scene. They also have live music and food here as well.

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As you can see the hallways carry on the modern and stylish theme of the hotel.

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We really enjoyed our stay here and wish we could have stayed longer! The proximity to the French Quarter was great, the room was huge and nice, and the staff was friendly.

They also offer meeting spaces if you are in town for business, so this place is more than just guest rooms! Another think I learned is that this is a pet friendly hotel (up to 40 pounds). There is also a gym and pool which we didn’t have a chance to check out (the pool isn’t open until May). We also took advantage of the free Wi-fi while we were staying at the hotel.

We didn’t really find many cons to the hotel. Valet parking was $39 plus tax which does make me want to have a heart attack, however it is on par with the price of parking for other hotels in the city. I would also say there was definitely a younger crowd staying here. We didn’t hear ANY noise during the night, but I can see this as being more of a hotel for partiers. That is totally fine, but I just like to be honest and warn people in advance who may not be as into that late night scene.

A huge thank you to Aloft New Orleans Downtown for letting us stay at this beautiful hotel for the night, we hope to be back soon!

Disclosure: I was provided with a free night’s stay in exchange for my honest review. Of course, all opinions are my own.