Tag Archives: hotel pools

Summer Travel Must-Haves

There are many things I am not good at, and blogging is one of them. In fact, I’m wondering if I should open every blog post with a self-deprecating “I stink at this,” just to see who sticks around—a litmus test of your dedication, dear 2.5 readers.

But now and then, there’s something worth blogging about, so here you go. Check out Flung magazine’s latest on what some very seasoned travelers are lugging around these days. I’m very honored to be listed among such pros, including Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during a press trip to Cancun in October 2015. (Reflections on that trip here.) Sarah is an actual pro, meaning that she brings high-quality gear to properly capture a moment, and—most likely—remembers to pack enough clean clothes and seasonally-appropriate toiletries. I don’t always pack good gear, I have failed to bring enough clean clothes and once even forgot to pack underwear, and for some inexplicable reason, I bring my A-game when it comes to having enough of the right toiletries. My packing lacks logic.

However, what I never forget on any trip no matter how near or far is my giant plastic inflatable donut and my bathing suit. Usually, I pack two or three bathing suits because we all know bathing suits never dry fast enough when you’re on the go. I may not have enough socks and shirts or decent walking shoes for the trip, but by God, I am ready for the beach or hotel swimming pool!


I just returned from Cuba Tuesday night, and the Cubanos were visibly amused by a gringa walking around downtown Havana with a blown-up donut. The beauty of being 45 years old is that there are many things you stop worrying about, and looking ridiculous is one of them.

I’m currently working on a donut floatie travel memoir because my donut has traveled to more places than many, many Americans. It’s a lucky piece of plastic, and I’m a lucky, lucky gal, pinching myself every day that someone wants to send me somewhere to write about someplace beautiful. I won’t lie: it doesn’t suck. So stay tuned for more donut floatie adventures.

Meanwhile, I’m returning to California soon, and there’s a hotel in Palm Springs I’m eager to visit. Why? Because this hotel’s Instagram feed is filled with photos of Floyd the Flamingo Floatie. The place is called the Monkey Tree Hotel, it recently underwent a renovation, and apparently (based on the Instagram feed), Floyd and Elvis impersonators hang here. These are my people, so I’m eager to introduce my donut to Floyd, get into the pool, and daydream under the sunshine. Those are things I’m good at. See you there.

Ode to the Swimming Pool

For years, I’ve based my hotel choices not on price or location but on the quality of the pool. Indoor, outdoor, it didn’t matter, but there had to be a well-maintained pool, one that the hotel was proud to showcase, not something hidden on the sixth floor at the end of some abandoned hallway.

I turned my Cheeveresque pool quest into an assignment for The Los Angeles Times (Nora Ephron’s mother is right–everything is copy!). The article appears in today’s LA Times travel section, focusing on Southern California pools with a few pools nearby in the desert, as well as some surprisingly alluring pools in cold places like Seattle and Montreal.


(Photo credit: Splashtopia at Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa)

I wish the Northeast had California’s pool season. I live here, the swankier pools are there, so we travel out west once a year for about a week or two every summer and, yes, we sample the pools (and the beaches) the way you sample Napa wines. You can read about my family escapades to California here. Our annual California vacation involves a week in LA so Mike can visit the Mother Ship (his employer) while Anna and I soak up quality pool time. We make time to explore other parts of California, too. One year it was a day trip to San Diego. Another year we did Disneyland. Last year, we did Big Sur and San Francisco. This year, we’re doing four days in Monterey and a day trip to San Juan Capistrano Mission. Ironically, the day my pool article debuted is the day I paid the bill for our family’s summer town pool membership, though pool season doesn’t start until Memorial Day weekend, so we have a two-month wait ahead of us. Meanwhile, SoCal families may be reading my story now and could spend Easter poolside if they chose to. It’s a sweet life out there in SoCal. New York City’s bagels are better, but SoCal has a lot going for it. It’s always a beautiful sight when our flight descends towards LA airport and I can see all the backyard pools glistening sky blue.