Candacetravels

The Travel Diary

Month: April 2016

Meet Me at Alegria When It’s Sunset

Whether you are looking for some action or are longing to unwind,  do I have a great destination in mind for you. The Dutch island of St. Maarten, which is one half of a dynamic duo (St. Martin on the French half is the other,) is located in the far north-east pocket of the Caribbean. This magnificent locale is the perfect option to have some fun, or to rest your weary bones. During my most recent visit to the island, I experienced a little bit of everything. I lounged at the hotel, as well as canvased the area to take in all the action. This visit, I stayed at the lovely Alegria hotel, which is in walking and driving distance to a number of places. When I wasn’t relaxing at the property, I was out exploring the nearby restaurants, eateries and hot spots. Fortunately, there was plenty to see and do without having to leave the resort’s cul-de-sac during those tiresome hours. What was even more thrilling, was that the renowned Sunset Bar & Grill, which has the best views on the island, sits just at the end of the strip where Alegria is located. I suggest buckling up!

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View Of Alegria

Overview

Part of the Ascend Hotel Collection,  Alegria is a contemporary mini resort, located on the Dutch side of St. Maarten (-the other side is French St. Martin) island. This contemporary style dwelling is a 75 guest room & suites hotel, complete with two swimming pools, a swim up bar, spa services by request, free wifi, a fitness room and free parking. The hotel is surrounded by restaurants, a casino and of course, the acclaimed Sunset Bar & Grill. Additionally, Alegria is part of the area where an incredible new entertainment complex – Refuge, is set to open this fall 2016. The project will feature a diverse portfolio of restaurants and event space around the current Sunset Bar & Grill location and gift shop.

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Main Entrance to Alegria 

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Swimming Pools

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Poolside Bar

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Fitness Room

Alegria Hotel Rooms & Suites

Alegria hotel features modern décor and breathtaking views. As noted above, there are a mix of standard hotel rooms and suites, which offer separate living and dining room areas, 1 to 2 bedrooms, and upscale kitchens. Guests can choose from standard, garden or pool side and ocean view rooms, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy some memorable sights each morning and night. They can also choose a standard king, a standard double-double or studio king room. There are two suite options; a one-bedroom or a two- bedroom penthouse available for lodging. All rooms come equipped with 32” flat screen televisions, balconies, refrigerators, coffee makers, sofa beds, microwaves and in-room safes. Additionally, suites have a full, separate kitchen and dining area, with stainless steel appliances and granite counter-tops.

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Lobby

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One Bedroom Balcony Poolside/Ocean View  

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One Bedroom Suite Kitchen

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One Bedroom King Room

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Penthouse Suite Balcony View

Sunset Bar & Grill – Soon to take “Refuge”

Just at the end of the Alegria strip is  Sunset Bar & Grill. Best known for its spectacular views of the low flying airplanes coming in over Maho Beach, this happening spot is an island favorite. Eager beach goers and hungry tourists line the area daily, in hopes of catching unbelievably up close captures of the various sized aircraft- that’s preparing to land. There’s music, tons of people and lots of picture taking throughout the day. It’s like a nonstop international gathering with the most amazing backdrop- airplanes and the sea! The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, to famished patrons who are ready to nosh out- as they take in the “low flying” views. This lively eatery also has a new menu with an array of items to arouse the palate, from the Delta- Airlines Pizza, to the Sofrito Chicken Torta. Many guests also opt to chomp down on more familiar dishes like french fries and Sunset’s world famous burgers, as they wet their whistles with everything from frozen drinks, to iced coffee. When diners aren’t filling their bellies with all sort of goodness, they are dancing, singing and/or watching hermit crab races…when they’re not rolling around on the neighboring beach sand that is. From the live music, to the scent of jet fuel in the air, this locale has it all! Stay tuned for the upcoming Refuge Entertainment complex that will include this ever popular eatery and gift shop, as well as event space, other restaurants and of course, the beautiful seaside blues and airplane views.

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Sunset Bar & Grill Alongside Maho Beach

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View of Incoming Aircraft- Sunset Bar & Grill

Area To-Dos

Island visitors can do everything from splashing in the sea, to singing karaoke to their favorite tunes. There is much to do in the surrounding Maho area of Philipsburg, which is the capital of St. Maarten. Situated along the southern coast of the island, Alegria is well positioned. Not only is it just minutes from Princess Juliana international Airport, but it also sits on the resort compound with French owned C-Lounge, which is a delicious little chic restaurant, with delectable menu offerings, Taco Macho for the Latin food fix (which only takes cash by the way,) the Casino and Momo’s, who serves fantastic Mediterranean cuisine. There is also an 18-hole championship golf course nearby- at Mullet Bay, and on the other side of Maho Beach, sits plenty of duty-free shops and a flourishing night life.

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Taco Macho

Other Island Recommendations

Also, if you are able to venture out, I would highly recommend spending time on Front Street in downtown Philipsburg, as well as in the Simpson Bay area. I would also suggest crossing over into French St. Martin for a whole new world. One of my favorite places to eat on the island is on that side, at Cynthia’s in Grand Case. Visitors can also take day trips to neighboring islands out of French, Marigot Bay, as well as shop, eat and have some fun.

*It is important to note that many stores and restaurants throughout the island require a $20 USD minimum purchase to use debit/credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand for smaller purchases! This is clearly one of my all-time favorite places in the world, so if you want to find me a few times a year- Meet me at Alegria when it’s sunset!

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Palapa Huts Oceanside- Alegria

*While visiting the island, I was a guest at Alegria. My invitation in no way shapes my views of the resort, neighboring restaurants or other island sites and businesses where I was a patron. This piece describes my true experience from beginning to end of this trip. It is meant to inform and provide travelers information. St.Maarten is one of my favorite destinations, so I enjoy going back and creating new experiences. Also, media photos were used for this post. Stay tuned, as my 2016 Global Expedition continues…

Posh Meets The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City

When it comes to luxury and premier service, The Ritz- Carlton Pentagon City, is ahead of its class. This upscale establishment provides guests with an unparalleled concierge experience, complete with plush accommodations- at the perfect locale. With a swanky address that is home to one of the area’s most celebrated restaurants, fyve, it is easy to understand why guests return to this deluxe hotel, time and time again.

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Inside the Ritz- Carlton Pentagon City 

A Most Memorable Arrival

From the moment I stepped off the airplane at Ronald Reagan (DCA,) I could sense that it was going to be a stellar stay. As I headed toward the baggage claim area, I was warmly greeted by a U.S. Sedan Service Worldwide driver, holding a sign with my name on it. I introduced myself and thanked him for his patience, considering my late arrival into the Arlington, Virgina area. My introduction was met with the most pleasant of smiles, before I was ushered off to retrieve my well-traveled duffle bag. Next, I was whisked away in a shiny, black sedan- for a short ride. When we pulled up to the hotel, I was welcomed by another kind gentleman, who assisted me out of the vehicle. As he approached the trunk to gather my bags, another person greeted me at the door, directing me inside. I nodded yes, then thanked and tipped the driver before walking in. Once I entered, I headed towards the front desk. During my stroll down the hallway, I noticed every detail of the gorgeous entryway and lobby. The staff at the front desk was great and required minimal effort on my end. After I checked-in, I proceeded up the elevator with keys in hand.

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Hotel entrance, leading to the lobby, restaurant and front desk

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Lobby area

Hotel Room

My room was elegant and classy; draped in white with lovely gray accents. My 17th floor room view was also just what I needed, after a lengthy day of traveling. As I looked out, I gazed across the Arlington and D.C. areas with the softest grin upon my face. It was beautiful and I was so thankful that I had arrived safely. The chic room was equipped with a bar; featuring an assortment of snacks and a bottle of wine, as well as a refrigerator filled with sodas and spirits.The contemporary bathroom was fantastic, featuring the signature Ritz-Carlton white robe and slippers, as well as the wonderful Asprey of London products. After freshening up, I relaxed a bit on the comfy, king -sized bed trying not to fall asleep, knowing that soon my presence would be required downstairs. I had to meet with a couple of colleagues who reside in the area, so I had to stay awake. It was difficult not to drift off once my head hit the fluffy pillow, but somehow I managed to stay awake. After what turned into an in-depth 3hr meeting over appetizers at fyve, I retreated back to my room for a good night’s rest. My routine ended the same over the course of the next couple days. I visited the monuments, took pictures of the cherry blossoms, combed the area like a tourist, then returned to the hotel to freshen up, dine and rest.

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Desk inside my 17th floor room

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Inside my 17th floor room

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View from my 17th floor room

Club Level Access

For an additional 50 USD per day, per adult and 25USD per day, per child (age 12 and under,) guests of The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City can enjoy such luxuries as Club Lounge delicatessens and delectable cuisine throughout the day, as well as complimentary garment pressing for up to two pieces. Use of the Club Lounge is ideal for business meetings, lounging, or even for time to catch up with the family over some tasty bites. I sampled every thing from the delightful hummus and baba ganoush, which was absolutely delicious I must add, to the crisp salads and freshly made potato chips. There were a number of options to choose from each day; morning, noon and night. They had an array of meat and seafood, cheese, crackers, eggs, oatmeal, fruit, desserts, bread and more. The Club Lounge also offers free wifi, easy check-in and check-out service and a dedicated concierge to assist throughout the duration of the stay.  It is also important to note that the hotel is currently renovating their luxe 18th floor Club Lounge, which is set to be completed this May. For now, a first floor conference room is serving as a temporary lounge. I cannot wait to visit again- to experience the new Club Lounge. Club Level Access is well worth it for the sophisticated and elite traveler.

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Club Level Lunch 

Location

The hotel is centrally located. The Pentagon City Metro is just steps away from the hotel’s entrance, it is just a short drive over to Washington D.C. and all of the iconic monuments, and it is also a short distance from Ronald Reagan International Airport (DCA.) Attached to The Ritz Carlton Pentagon City, is the acclaimed Pentagon City Mall. Shops include everything from Nordstrom to Gap, for guest’s shopping pleasure. The mall is also undergoing some exterior construction, as they are expanding to include some outside stores on South Hayes street. Additionally, I was able to walk the area in search of cherry blossoms, and pick up a few items at the CVS, which is located just across the street. There are two vendors setup near the bus stop out front selling souvenirs, and there are even pickup and drop-off stops for tour buses as well. During my visit, I was able to enjoy the area, including taking pictures of the beautiful cherry blossoms throughout my stay. Getting to and from the Monuments and downtown D.C. from the hotel was a breeze.

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Entrance to Ritz Carlton and fyve from Pentagon City Mall

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Inside Pentagon City Mall

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Exterior Capture of The Ritz-Carlton and Pentagon City Mall

fyve Restaurant Lounge Onsite

The food was phenomenal! I indulged during my time with colleagues, and also during my reserved lunch on my second day. On the prior evening, I noshed out on hummus and pita bread and during lunch, feasted on a succulent salmon dish that followed a palatable bowl of butternut squash soup. I even rounded out the meal with a small and rather tasty dessert. It was a total cheat day for me- considering I veered way off the path of my primarily plant-based diet! Side note- I do allocate some cheat days for business trips. I must admit though, that I did not regret my fall off the wagon one bit. Under the guidance of Executive Chef, Sriram Hariharan, fyve produces refined, gourmet dishes. With a wealth of experience under his belt, Executive Chef Hariharan, infuses his rich Indian heritage and restaurant experience into all of his creations. This was quite evident in the items I tasted, as they were well- seasoned and bursting with flavor. The restaurant’s entire staff was stupendous, including my server, Saba. They provided excellent service throughout my dining experience.

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Lunch at fyve Restaurant

I had an incredible stay in the area and even managed to get some shopping in with an old college friend, who resides in the Maryland area. My time at The Ritz-Carlton was superb. It was impressive, relaxing and memorable. I cannot wait to visit the area and stay with them again. On the day of my departure, I smiled, thinking about how much I enjoyed and looked forward to returning to the Metro area again. I shared with my friendly sedan driver on the way out, what a pleasant experience it had been. If you are looking for an elite  and notable experience – The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City is sure to please.

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*I was invited to visit The Ritz- Carlton Pentagon City Hotel. My invite in no way influenced my opinions, nor alters the perception of my stay and/or their amenities and offerings. This post recounts my actual experience from beginning to end.

 

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