I was barely back in my imperfect paradise of Costa Rica, that special place I called home for a year, one day before being whisked away by seven of my girlfriends for a weekend in a dream five-bedroom beach house in a tiny town called Pan de Azucar. The Sugar Beach Hotel hideaway is near the more famous beaches Flamingo and Conchal. We had a blast! Nothing but walks on the beach, laying in the sun, fruity drinks, and good food… After months of hard work, this was my kind of vacation! When time flies while doing absolutely nothing, you know you’re around some very good friends. All you need is a few days at a Costa Rica resort to actually spend the time with them and recharge.
After an almost two-week vacation, I’ve hit the ground running in Vegas. I walked the red carpet with Heather Graham for Vegas magazine‘s ten-year anniversary party, honoring Heather and her work in the Sin City classic, Hangover 3. The next day kicked off UnCork’d, my town’s biggest food event of the year, which had me racing around day and night, eating good food, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends. Not that I’m complaining, but the Frenchies eat late: Dinner at Joel Robuchon finally wrapped up at 2 am Sunday night, sending me into an exhausting work week. Just another week of living in Las Vegas! Now I’m on my way to Napa for some work meetings, a grand opening — and some fun. This whirlwind reminds me of my pre-Vegas trip, which started off in Istanbul and sent my dear friend Diana of D Travels Round and I on the best of Bulgarian holidays, including a stop in the party town Sunny Beach, shown here. The white sand and soft light of early morning, my favorite time on the beach, doesn’t even hint at the chaos that hits that town every night. Like this photograph, that vacation was the calm before the storm: After that dream trip, I would land back in my imperfect paradise that was Coco, Costa Rica for exactly one day (who has time for jet-lag?) to pack up my one year there into what I could carry on the plane and head to Vegas for a new job.
Who needs sleep? Like I always say, it’s a jungle out there!
Since Las Vegas is in a desert, many people are surprised to learn about our love affair with sushi. All of this confusion when we are just a 45-minute flight from the California coast, not to mention the private jets that fly in daily from Japan and the Mediterranean! (Of course, after living in Las Vegas for so long, nothing surprises me anymore). Yes, fresh seafood is alive and well in Sin City. While steakhouses remain the norm in bachelor party-heavy Vegas, there is so much amazing sushi on offer. During my almost three years as editor-in-chief of my city’s luxury magazine, which covers the best restaurants in Vegas, I’ve tasted my share. Visitors are always asking me my favorites, so I’ve compiled them here.
My picks? Read on!
The morning after I landed in Costa Rica, I was off for a weekend adventure at a new (to me) beach, Pan de Azucar. It was about an hour from Coco, near many of the beaches I used to go to while I was living in Costa Rica: Playa Danta, Brasilito, Conchal, and Playa Flamingo, all on the Pacific coast. It was gorgeous! We had a stunning house overlooking the ocean at the adorable Sugar Beach Hotel, my new favorite Costa Rica resort. Eight, yes eight, of us drove up for a girls’ weekend. How often does that happen? I just might have more friends here in CR than I do in Las Vegas! We didn’t do much — snacks on our patio, walks on the beach, sunning at the pool. The lush grounds were just how I like them: dense trees and foliage that makes everything about the jungle beaches so peaceful. Enormous iguanas roamed the property, and the flowering trees were just as I remembered. Sun, blue skies, perfect sand, tons of friends…
I don’t call this country paradise for nothing!
“Where are you headed?” my cabbie asked innocently enough after picking me up at my Vegas home to take me to the airport. On my way to Costa Rica, I was in a particularly good mood, but my affable driver was confused. “Are you from there?” he asked. It was a weird response, considering Costa Rica’s reputation as a tourist destination, but he pressed on after I told him no: “Is your husband from there?” “Nope, no husband! But actually, I did move to Vegas from there.” I’ve written at length about why I ended up living in paradise during a rough period in my life – and why I moved back to Vegas for my dream job. But, as my confused cabbie at least somewhat understood, we are talking about two very different places with two very different lifestyles. And I had a thought: I have never talked about actually living in Las Vegas.
When I lost my job in the fall of 2008, I thought my life was over. Like many single women, my entire identity, for better or worse, was attached to my career. So when that was taken, I, simply, felt lost. With not nearly enough money saved to out-last my year-long lease in expensive LA, I was still quickly talked into logging onto Cathay Pacific and booking a flight to… Borneo. An old friend of mine was living in KK, and she invited me to visit. Some people might judge that expense, but my jobs are always so all-encompassing that I rarely find time for trips, let alone big ones. So I figured if I was going to always have either time or money, I was for once going to make the most of having some time. My friend Cynthia and I drove all around Borneo, getting lost on private beaches and watching how quickly driving half a mile down the road can completely change the coastline. Once, we found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of disgusting jellyfish, when we had just been in perfect waters five minutes before. Even though I had been a big traveler my whole life, that particular trip ended up being a life-changing move: I later went to Mexico and then Europe, as cheaply as I could. Sure, my debt went up a bit for the first time in my life, but that year-long lease was up before I knew it. As most of you know, that was when I threw everything in storage and jetted off to Costa Rica for a month or two… which turned into my living for a year on the cheap in a one-room house, starting my own company, saving twice as much money as I had owed when I got there, and learning to let go of expectations, to be free.