Chateau Minuty, Gassin | travel

A big part of my childhood was spent in San Francisco, just an hour from world famous Napa Valley, this meant weekend & summer trips that included winery tours & tastings. I always knew it was beautiful, but definitely didn't appreciate how cool it was until I was older, however it must have stuck with me, because it all came back to me the minute we arrived at Chateau Minuty.

Chateau Minuty is a beautiful, modern winery only 15 minutes from the beach in the stunning mountain village of Gassin, near Saint Tropez. You SHOULD approach through palatial gates & down a beautiful vine lined drive, however thanks to Google Maps, our approach was a little more hairy as we were directed through the vineyard/farmland/dirt tracks on a hillside in a Corsa. Shout out to my A-Level French & the kind farmer who helped us out of that one.

There are various options for you to enjoy your visit at Chateau Minuty, a guided tour (cost dependent on group size), a self guided tour that is free, but more restricted & then there is the tasting. If you haven't been to a winery before, it's seriously a special experience, the smells, the peaceful, beautiful surroundings, the contrast of the heat outside & the cold inside I honestly love it & Chateau Minuty's modern design & friendly welcome (including the estate chien) do it perfectly.

This winery & along with the others in this region are smaller than your typical Californian winery, although this may be because we chose the self guided tour so didn't experience the full estate, or because there is less wine tourism here, but I actually kind of liked that. It meant you got a real feel for the family business & got to meet people directly connected to it's story. In the self guided tour you can explore the processing rooms, the grounds & tasting areas. If you're looking to do multiple winery's in a day, or just want a quick experience I would recommend this. If you have never been to a winery before, I would recommend the guided tour.

Unusually, Chateau Minuty specialises in Rosé. I was surprised by this, as although Rosé was 100% my gateway into wine loving, at least in the UK it isn't held with the prestige that seems to match the Chateau Minuty brand. I was wrong, if it's possible for the taste of a wine to be classy, the Rosé et Or is the classiest rosé I've ever tasted. Not even using my usual hyperbole when I say after one sip I wanted to buy a bottle, it made me love my early wine choice once again. We also sampled the other rosés on offer at Chateau Minuty & their reds too.

I can't recommend this place enough for a quick wine tasting tour, so if you're heading to the Saint Tropez region, here is the info you need to know about Chateau Minuty:

Opening times: 09h30 – 12h30 and 14h00 – 19h00
Opening dates: From Monday to Friday. Open Saturdays during the summer.

Have you ever been wine tasting?

Love,

Mel

xx

Mizen Head, Co.Cork, Ireland | travel

Doing a little bit of 'pre-trip' research, before my recent adventure across Ireland, I came across a place called Mizen Head. Although Google was full of stunning pictures, I wasn't sure exactly what Mizen Head was, all I knew was, Pinterest had drawn me in & I wanted to go.

The best part & definitely it's USP is that Mizen Head is the most South Westerly part of Ireland *& Europe. This means, from that point where you can stands, it's only the Atlantic Ocean & maybe a few boats & marine life between you & Newfoundland, Canada. With me recently leaving my best friend in Las Vegas airport for her to move to Canada, this made me very excited as technically this was the closest we had been in 2 months! It's also one of those places, like the Grand Canyon where the comfort of your insignificance of this giant planet is felt, which every once in a while is useful.

To reach Mizen Head, you take a drive through the picturesque villages of Crookhaven & Barleycove before turning down a a little one track road *lets me honest, the majority of roads in beautiful rural Southern Ireland are one track, which you follow until all you are heading for is the ocean. Through a little welcome centre, host to lots of information all about the historical events & general history of the area, you are free to explore the headland. Unfortunately, a lot of safety measures have been taken now, something you don't often see spoiling the headland in Ireland, but you can still enjoy the views beyond this & forcing you to walk to the very end is definitely worth it.

If you're visiting Southern Ireland, I would definitely suggest Mizen Head, the whole coastline is graced with stunning spots & honestly, some are a lot more accessible, but it really is stunning here & you can't say you've been to the most South Westerly point of Europe if you don't visit!

Have you been to Mizen Head? Where is your favourite spot in Ireland?

Love,

Mel

xx

*Not sure why these photos make me look like a red head. They did however inspire me to chop off about 6 inches.

 

The Gondola Ride at The Venetian, Las Vegas | travel

The Gondola ride at the Venetian is one of those 'must do' proper tourist activities when you visit Las Vegas. I did the outside one *think The O.C when I was little & remember it being really good! I love the man singing at the head of the boat & having to duck down under all the tiny low bridges.

I remember floating then in & through the quaint but impressive looking shops of the Venetian & I feel like it last quite a while. On my most recent trip to Vegas, we were in The Venetian for a friends birthday dinner so decided to have a go on the Gondola's as, the friends I was with hadn't been on it before either. It was late so the outside ride was closed, but I thought it would be fun to do the inside one as something different anyway. There was barely a line at this time of night too which was a huge bonus!

It cost's $24 per person, or $96 for a private gondola if you don't want another couple/group to join you, which honestly is pretty pricey for one 'ride' by most peoples standards, but Vegas tends to make up the money it gives away in cheap hotel rooms, in activities, food & gambling. You start & finish at the same point, at the end of one of the canals on the second floor of The Venetian just down from 'St Mark's Square'. The architecture of the canal shops is honestly amazing & the Gondola ride is an great way to see it. The atmosphere is beautiful, the lighting & sky ceiling adapts with the time of day & its all pretty magical.

As you float through the canal the Gondolier sings traditional song to you & it's every bit as surreal as you can imagine, I seriously recommend, fully embracing it & looking around at how crazy it is, that a little Venice has been created in the middle of a hotel, in the middle of the desert. The only issue is, just as you're getting into it, you kind of pause at the opposite end of the canal & then turn around & head back.

While appreciating the incredible creation that is The Venetian, if you're doing Vegas for the great food, the gambling & the night life, I would leave this one off your list. If you are looking for more a more activity based trip, I would suggest going for the outdoor ride, but book in advance as lines can quickly grow during the day. It's a fun experience, but is quite a lot of money for the time you get, which I would guess is around 5 minutes of actual floating, with pauses along the way.

Have you done the Gondola ride before? What is your favourite thing to do in Vegas?

Love,

Mel

xx

The Mirage, Las Vegas - Two Years On | travel

This year marked my third visit to The Mirage, Last Vegas. It's done the job perfectly before & its position, price & that killer pool lure me in every time with the perfect combination of practicality, price & fun. I am always one to want to try a different place to stay, despite my love of familiarity, I just think it's my millennial gene kicking in with a lack of commitment but The Mirage seems to still win me over every time.

I go into more detail about why we chose The Mirage in my post from our last visit here, but today I wanted to give a little update on my thoughts now. Firstly, the appeal of The Mirage's location, is unchanging (obviously), along with it's value remaining one of the best on the strip for years, however with this area of the strip now surrounded by new hotels, The Mirage is an old girl around town here now really & as much as I hate to say it, it's starting to show.

The gold exterior of the hotel, while really well looked after, looks a little dated against the glass and chrome of the newer spots such as The Cosmopolitan & The LINQ now & the iconic Beatles 'LOVE' Cirque De Soleil banner across the penthouse levels was actually being taken down on the last day of our trip. I quite liked seeing a little bit of Vegas skyline history changing while we lay be the pool *& having looked at the website the banner as been updated & replaced & actually looks a lot fresher. The Lobby & Casino would be an absolute mammoth task to 're-do' but I do this areas are ready. The marble & huge high ceiling are stunning, but the atrium looked a lot more run down that on our last visit & although the casino floor has has an update, areas are still a little old. Now don't get me know wrong, walking in is still super impressive, if you've also never been to Vegas, the pure size & buzz of this area will be incredible, but being super picky & it being my third stay, despite the updates, it definitely felt the most tired it had ever.

The restaurants. The restaurants however, have been a HUGE improvement. Food is big business in Vegas, you lose all track of time & want good food to be on offer whenever you feel like it, being sickeningly indulgent is one of the many things that passes as ok in Vegas & The Mirage have answered those needs. We sampled Pantry, a 24 hour breakfast restaurant for both room service & an actual sit in meal both with were delicious. We also on the first night, headed straight for STACK which I am going to do a separate post on. but this is the more casual option & the steak was still AMAZING! *insert a ok emoji here*. There is also another new more extravagant option Tom Colicchio's Heritage Steak, along with a selection of many more restaurants. I also recommend the new 'Still' it's a bar on the main casino floor new the 'high roller'tables. It's a fun, bar complete with taco food truck & craft beers inside a rustic, 'Portland' vibe & one of the busiest spots in the hotel, in a good way.

The rooms were recently renovated before our last visit, however with the insane traffic they see in Vegas, I think they are probably also ready for a total overhaul. The beds are comfortable, the sheets always crisp & clean & the towels always soft & fresh too, but the general decor & accessories are also falling prey to the more modern competitors. The bathrooms, being marble are timeless but the fittings are now showing their use as well, however also always spotless.

Service. The Mirage has always given us AMAZING service. This is something I think they definitely have an advantage on with the years of experience & established position on the strip. We called the concierge on the first night *brain power was wavering after a long drive from Coachella, for recommendations on where to eat & he made reservations for us at STACK & I was so glad because it was what the kids call fire. We also had a great chat with one of the bar tenders in RhumBar one night & the croupiers are always friendly if you explain you're not quite a pro.

Overall, if you want a GREAT location at an amazing price, want a true Vegas experience & great service but aren't too hung up on huge glamour or aesthetic *it's not a bad aesthetic, just not quite as Instagramable as some others on the strip, then The Mirage is for you. I imagine, like most of the older hotels on the Strip it will soon be completely overhauled as I imagine the new restaurants & casino layout are the beginning & honestly all the new bars & restaurants we tried inside, were completely up to date. If you want to go all out, I would suggest The Cosmo, but you pay for that aesthetic, it's got to be done at least once though right!

Have you been to Vegas before? Where did you stay?

Love,

Mel

xx

 

Driving Palm Springs to Las Vegas | travel

Whenever I think of driving across America, I picture the endless empty desert roads from many road trips of my childhood or the something out of Crossroads the movie *best movie in the world. So on US recent trips, whenever we have set of from one place to the next I have hoped to find this. Well I haven't yet covered as much ground as needed to truly get this feeling but part of this drive definitely offer a slice of that.

Bonus of setting off from Palm Springs over LA when driving to Vegas, you avoid that moment on the I10 or 405 when you wonder whether anyone ever leaves the city again once their in. Also, or kind of the same point, you're already straight out on to the open road.

Because of my experiences in the last few years, I knew unless I wanted to brave the back roads, sticking the the highway while definitely the fastest, but less scenic option, but we has a Vegas to get to so opted for that way anyway! I was so pleasantly surprised this time though!

Love,

Mel

xx