22 Aug 2014
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Get Ritzy, You Deserve It!

Our resident Urban Suburban Mom and travel expert Tobi Spino checks out some great getaways that are hassle-free to get to and will make you feel like you are worlds away from your everyday life.

Get Ritzy, You Deserve It! Get Ritzy, You Deserve It! Get Ritzy, You Deserve It! Get Ritzy, You Deserve It! Get Ritzy, You Deserve It! Get Ritzy, You Deserve It! Get Ritzy, You Deserve It! Get Ritzy, You Deserve It!

About This Column:  Sure, we would all love to spend some well-earned down time on a yacht in St Barth's or sipping tropical goodness on the beaches of Bora Bora. Unfortunately, this isn’t always in the cards.  Not to worry, luxury, R&R, and perfect getaways are right here—closer than you may have ever realized. From 20 minutes to two hours, the perfect escape is waiting for you. I am here to make sure you not only know about it, but get some great steals and deals along the way. With over 15 years of experience as a photo, film and TV producer, I have traveled the world, stayed, wined and dined on budgets high and low.  No matter what size your wallet, the right getaway is right here, in your backyard. So get your motors running, people, your next getaway is waiting for you!

White Plains

Living within driving distance to NYC often has us neglecting our own little city right here in Westchester. There's no time like the present to make amends. Especially when it boasts one of the area’s top spots to really and truly get away from it all without going far.  Maximize your time away and without the kids. No need to waste time at airports waiting and waiting, and for what? These days more flights are cancelled than taking off, thanks to Mother Nature.

Driving up to the The Ritz-Carlton and just seeing the majestic lion head insignia is enough to get anyone all tingly. The moment you step foot in the door, you just really never want to leave. 

The getaway begins from the second you check your vehicle with the hotel attendant.  Greeted by the world's most attentive and helpful doorman, we entered into a lobby that you would be happy to spend the night in as much as any one of their 146 rooms and suites. The wrap-around fireplace in the lounge won me over on first sight, and I knew where I would be cozying up with a good read and a glass of wine.  Lucky for me, it was a Thursday evening and the nightly special was Best of Hudson Valley, featuring New York State wines. Perfecto! 

Upon check in, the staff were ready to help us feel like we were a world away from doing dishes, laundry and giving timeouts.  The excellent service was a common thread throughout our stay—we were always greeted with warm smiles and the staff were eager to please and assist.  A most definite upgrade from a household with small children, whose daily goal (which is usually achieved) is to leave a trail of destruction for you to clean up.

The rooms are modern and chic, and most importantly, quiet. While a night away from yelling kids and early wake-up calls is a treat in itself, dare to go the extra mile and get pampered silly at the spa.  Ten thousand-square-feet of unbelievable luxury and delight, the spa boasts seasonal and year-round services. 

What better way to decompress and reconnect with yourself than a Winter Warm Up? Ninety minutes of being soothed, rubbed, and spoiled from head to toe—and warmed to the core! A full body massage is part of the treatment, but the main focus is on your feet, with lotions, scrubs, and perfectly toasty foot booties.

When you think it can’t get much better, let the spa attendants spoil you in the lounge with a refreshing glass of champagne.  If every worry isn’t washed away from the treatment alone, the bubbly will do the trick. If you can't get away until the spring, don’t worry. You'll have the chance to be equally as wowed with the spring specialty, Fresh Beginnings.

Where many hotels have restaurants that are affiliated exclusively with the chain, in true grandeur fashion, The Ritz thought out of the box, thanks to the arrival of restaurateur and Executive Chef Anthony Goncalves and his gem of a restaurant, 42.  You'll truly feel swept away, not only by the phenomenal views of the The Sound and New York City, but by Goncalves's culinary wizardry. 

I’d like to consider myself an above-average foodie but with lots of room to grow.  I have come miles in my palette for sure, but I still have many food reservations and fears.  That being said, from the most refined connoisseur to fussy eaters, the menu has something for everyone. If you are on the cusp of being adventurous, this is where you should take your leap. 

A hands-down must-have is the housemade paparedelle with braised short rib and mushroom ragout.  It gives new meaning to the phrase melts in your mouth.  Chef Goncalves takes the right amount of risk and creativity to please all palettes. His menu has a more than ample selection of meats and fish, and the presentation is the icing on the cake. Don’t leave without sampling some homemade “ice cream” in Black Forest or Creamsicle. It is made tableside and mixed using liquid nitrogen—a smoking dish that is perfectly chilled.

If you’re looking to enjoy the view and atmosphere, but more in the mood to mingle and pick as opposed to the full wine and dine experience, you're in luck. The lounge and bar at 42 is Goncalves's tapas bar, called Bellota.  Reservations are recommended, and we could see why.  With the same stunning views, a more laid-back vibe, and a menu with close to two dozen tapas, it will be a place you keep in your dining out repertoire. We especially enjoyed the signature cocktails and happily munched on Gambas Piri Piri (shrimp in chili sauce) and Bolos de Bacalhau (salted cod fritters) while enjoying the tableside fire and twinkling views.

Luckily, the weekend consists of two nights to indulge in delicious hospitality.  Located on the ground floor of the hotel, BLT Steak is part of the BLT Restaurant chain, Chef Laurent Tourondel‘s fab interpretation of a modern steak house. The vibe is chic and fun whether you dine in the main room or at the bar. 

The tuna tartare is a winning starter in taste and presentation.  It’s almost too artistic looking to eat, but we managed to gobble it up!  Steaks are available in every cut known to man and there are as many sauces to go with them. Highly recommended are the horseradish sauce and their own special steak sauce. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back, however, it's a place to indulge but with an equally indulgent price tag. But that is what a vacation, or in our case a staycation, is all about.

So get away and let yourself indulge. There are plenty of great deals and packages for those who may not be ready to splurge on a full-out weekend of indulgence.

For example, the spa (do I need to revisit it’s heavenliness?) offers wonderful mini-retreat packages Tuesday through Friday. For $50, you can get a 25-minute massage, facial or scrub. There is a two-service minimum for this deal, but you are allowed to book it creatively—for example, two back-to-back massages, which would be a 50-minute massage for $100.  You can also opt to lounge poolside, enjoy beautiful views and have a little lunch in between pampering.  Either way, you will be blissfully recharged and ready to conquer the world. The hotel also has overnight and daily deals and packages, which include breakfast and overnight parking.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner and landing on a Monday, get a jump start with a weekend away. Reconnect and recharge with a night or two at The Ritz; both 42 and BLT have fabulous V-Day menus and specials to ensure a romantic rendezvous with loves old and new. So leave the kids at home for this one, relax and enjoy like it’s, well, like you did before a night out included sippy cups and food shaped like animals.

Bon Voyage and Bon Appetit!

     Standard weekend room rates for 2: $239-$439. Click here for details.
     Special overnight and day packages: $199 and up. Click here for details.
     Spa: The spa has several services to choose from. Click here for details.

Tip: If you'd like to treat yourselves to Hollywood’s latest, you're within walking distance of the City Center theater which houses 15 screens.

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