#TravelTuesday | Charleston + Kiawah Island, South Carolina

2018 has been a unique year of travel for Johnny and I as several of the trips we've been on/have planned are for wedding celebrations of our friends. Personally, I love attending destination weddings because it's an excuse for a vacation and the guest list tends to be smaller so the event itself is more intimate for the guests and the couple. Last month, we had the pleasure of traveling to South Carolina for some destination nuptials. I had never been, but always wanted to visit SC, so this wedding picked the perfect destination! 

**FYI, The amount of pictures I took on this trip is severely lacking due to my phone SIM card not working. No reception : less phone usage : photography neglect. 

DAY 1 + 2 // CHARLESTON 

Upon landing in Charleston, our initial impression was how much smaller of a city it was than we had assumed. Downtown was quaint antiquity rather than imposing skyscrapers. I welcomed the change, and enjoyed how much history all the buildings seemed to contain. Perhaps none more so than The Old Slave Market, pictured down the amazing cobblestone street in the final image. 

All of Charleston was full of little details: spiral staircases, nooks and crannies serving as courtyards, and fanciful architectural ironwork. I could have spent a long time just walking around taking in all these details. We did in fact take a walking "ghost tour" of Charleston at night, which was interesting to hear and see some of the history and tall tales of the city. 

// CHARLESTON QUICK TIPS // 

EAT // GRILL 225 (ORDER THE CRAB COCKTAIL...OMG!!) 

DRINK // CARAMELLA (BOOZY ICE CREAM/SORBET FLOATS) 

STAY // WE LOVED OUR COZY TREE HOUSE AIR BNB! (PICTURED ^)

TOUR // WALKING GHOST TOUR (NIGHT), HORSE + BUGGY TOUR (DAY)

DAY 3-5 // KIAWAH ISLAND 

Kiawah Island is approximately an hour's drive from Charleston over bridges twisting through marshlands and beautiful forests. The thing that's most noticeable about Kiawah is the seclusion. Many houses, villas, golf courses and The Sanctuary Hotel (the wedding venue) are on the island, but they are not so noticeable nestled within the dense growth of trees and foliage. With no Uber or ride-sharing service, and limited restaurants/bars, the island is decidedly non-touristy--a concept I can readily get behind! With no working phone, and no Uber services, the theme of the trip for me was a bit of a throwback in the sense that we actually had to make plans in advance! 

The wedding was held at The Sanctuary hotel (last two pictures, above). The property was everything you would imagine for Southern glamour, and the wedding was picture perfect on the green, overlooking the ocean. 

Aside from the wedding, and a close runner-up to seeing a wild alligator, my favorite part of the trip was the beach at night. It is mating season for the sea-turtles of Kiawah and I guess they like to preserve their modesty by having it pitch-black at night for their trysts. SO, since Kiawah is far enough from the mainland, and maintains no artificial light at night, you get to see a truly spectacular sight: a perfect black sky full of stars above and below you as the night sky is reflected back onto the tide and gently rolling waves. I could not stop staring. It's worth the trip to Kiawah just for that experience! 

// KIAWAH QUICK TIPS //

EAT//CHILL // MADE-TO-ORDER CUSTOM PICNIC FROM TOWN CENTER MARKET

EAT//FANCY // HEGE'S RESTAURANT (FRESHFIELD VILLAGE) 

DRINK//CHILL // BYOB ROSÈ ON THE BEACH

DRINK//FANCY // HOTEL BAR @ THE SANCTUARY 

TOUR//DAY // BIKE RENT + RIDE AROUND THE ISLAND

TOUR//NIGHT // NIGHT STARGAZING BEACH WALK 

Thanks to Dan + Laura, and their families, for inviting us to the wedding! 

// MY OUTFIT DETAILS FROM THE WEDDING DAY // 

DRESS // ISABELLA GOWN BY ALEXIS 

SHOES // LOEFFLER RANDALL 

BAG // SAINT LAURENT (SIMILAR)

BRACELETS // KENDRA SCOTT 

 

The New Essentials | Current Favorites | Beauty + Travel

Lately, I've given in to the temptations of Sephora a bit more than I probably should. Between full-size products I've purchased, samples included in orders and even products I've randomly grabbed at the drugstore, I've found some new gems that have been on high rotation in my beauty routine. Since my life is always chaos more or less living out of my FJ Cruiser caravan with how much I am on the road for work or traveling on vacation, many of these products are geared towards packability, making this post a perfect fit to consider as we enter summer vacation season. Pro tip: click the pictures to shop! Enjoy! 

Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask by Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe's Watermelon Sleeping Mask first came to me as a Sephora sample. I thought it would be a gimmick. My stupidly hydrated (and yes glowing) skin the next day told me I was wrong about that. Long story short, you need Watermelon Glow in your life. If you are living that carry-on-only life like me, you'll be happy to know there is a travel size to bust that post-flight dry dullness. 

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance 

This post could alternatively be titled the glow edit. For me, I gravitate towards lighter weight, products in the spring and summer to achieve that natural dewy look. This Laura Mercier Radiance primer does just that. It has a slight tint and provides a natural glow plus offers outstanding lasting power for foundation. I wear this primer both layered under foundation as well as on its own as it provides a lovely boost to my natural skin. Multi-functional, quick makeup products are a must when I travel--Laura Mercier Radiance goes in the bag every time! 

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat 

To be honest, I am not completely sold on YSL Touche Eclat as the "holy grail" cult classic that some swear by. However, I do find myself reaching for it a lot for two reasons. First, convenience and travel. The packaging is sleek, easy to use, and not messy (since the product is all contained), making it perfect for purses or TSA approved zip-loc bags. Second, it is subtle and lightweight. As I mentioned before, I do not like wearing heavy makeup during the warmer months--particularly concealer. Touche Eclat provides a light, glowing (I know, I know) coverage. Maybe it will reach cult classic status for me after all. 

Pravana The Perfect Brunette 

As the more observant amongst you may have noticed, I am no longer a blonde! I've gone back to my roots (sorry for the oldest pun in the well-worn book), and am now trapped in that sometimes awkward phase of the blonde to brunette process where the newly darkened locks can be a bit unpredictable. For me, this manifested in a horrifying red, brassy tone starting to come through about a week after the initial dye job. Luckily I found Pravana Perfect Brunette products. Just like blondes can use purple toned products to keep their shade icy, brunettes can avoid that uncomfortable orangey red from sneaking in by applying the teal-toned Pravana suite of products. I have the shampoo, conditioner and hair mask. I only use the mask once a week because this stuff REALLY works! I already have broken my own carry-on lifestyle rule to bring these products with me on vacay, they are that good. 

Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Sheet Mask

I grabbed this Garnier Moisture Bomb mask while cruising through Wal-Mart picking up last minute supplies for my trip to LA. "Moisture bomb, hmm...I could use a bomb of hydration on my face after a morning of travel," I thought to myself. Impulsively, I threw the mask in the cart, and subsequently into my suitcase. Cue me the next day, on my balcony overlooking Hollywood Hills enjoying an instant skin refresh. Garnier Moisture Bomb masks are a traveler's best friend. The mask is refreshingly cool on the face, and the clean up is easy--simply remove the sheet and massage any remaining product into your skin. Another pro-tip: apply mask in your Uber while en route from airport, and freak out your driver, bf, or anyone around you. 

FYI, if you are interested in my ESSENTIAL PRODUCTS OF ALL TIME click here for that (obviously) still relevant list! 

#TravelTuesday | Eat + Drink In Dallas

In April, we made a quick weekend trip to Dallas. The weekend was centered on celebration (one of Johnny's friends got engaged), so the majority of the weekend was spent with a group of friends eating and drinking. I can't review the city of Dallas as a whole since we didn't spend enough time, but I can give you a quick rundown of some top spots to relax and savor. Also, I apologize for lack of personal pictures on this post--I really didn't take many this trip! All photos below are linked to source.

1. Katy Trail Ice House

 Outdoor drinking heaven at Katy Trail Ice House // Image via  katyicehouse.com

Outdoor drinking heaven at Katy Trail Ice House // Image via  katyicehouse.com

Huge margaritas, even bigger outdoor seating area, dogs galore. Do I need to say more? Go here for afternoon cocktails. 

2. Boulevardier

 Charcuterie Board at Boulevardier // Image via Reddit 

Charcuterie Board at Boulevardier // Image via Reddit 

A more upscale restaurant in an intimate setting--aka, the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. The wine selection is great, and the rustic French food is delicious. I liked the charcuterie board! After dinner, take a stroll through the cute Bishop Arts District. 

3. Velvet Taco

 Tacos at Velvet Taco // Image via CultureMapAustin.com

Tacos at Velvet Taco // Image via CultureMapAustin.com

Holy S^&t. That's all I have to say about these tacos. There is usually a line out the door of this small taco joint, and it is worth the wait. My favorite taco was the Barbacoa, mostly because the tortilla had crispy, melty cheese baked onto it. The loaded tots and elote corn were also faves. Plus, there's always red velvet cake for sale. This place is a must for lunch! 

4. The Old Monk

 Cozy tavern atmosphere at The Old Monk // Image via 10best.com

Cozy tavern atmosphere at The Old Monk // Image via 10best.com

Right around the corner from Velvet Taco is a really cute area called Old East Dallas. It's filled with shops and fun restaurants and bars (I'm still sad we didn't have time to go into the Planet Blue shop). If you are a trappist beer lover like I am, the Old Monk is perfect since it offers a wide selection of Belgian beers. 

5. HG Supply Co. 

 The rooftop at HG Supply Co // Image via Travel + Leisure

The rooftop at HG Supply Co // Image via Travel + Leisure

HG Supply Co. is the quintessential 20-something bar. Trendy decor, fun drinks (try the frozen Moscow Mule) and a rooftop deck. The setting was great for a fun day with friends, and the scene was lively. Lots of dogs here too--10/10 recommend! 

All in all, I was really surprised with Dallas. I wasn't expecting much, but the city was really trendy and aimed toward people in my age group (late 20s). I would definitely travel back for another weekend trip--the Velvet Taco may or may not play heavily into that ruling! 

#TravelTuesday | Now Sapphire, Cancun

Welcome to a new section on my blog, #TravelTuesday! Johnny and I travel a lot, and seeing the country and the world has always been a huge part of my life, so I want to share my experiences and tips here on Luna Elise! Since I'm just starting this segment, I figured I would go back and talk about some of the many trips I have been on this year! Please bear with me on the photography as I don't have a professional photographer along with me when I travel. To hear about our experience at the Now Sapphire resort in Cancun, scroll down! 

 View from our room (Ocean Front Suite)

View from our room (Ocean Front Suite)

Let me preface this review with a disclaimer: If you're in Cancun, nothing is going to be terrible! However, the Now Sapphire definitely had its ups and downs. We were there for a friend's wedding, so this venue was picked for us--giving us a good opportunity to see a different property on Cancun (we always stay at The Excellence Playa Mujeres). Below, I break the property down by my key criteria when going on vacation.

Resort Style/Type

First of all, the Now Sapphire is kid-friendly, which may be a pro or con depending on your preference. This is great for wedding parties and guests or for family trips. The Now Sapphire did a good job balancing kids and adult activities by having "day-camp" for kids and a separate pool + bar for adults. The on-site nightclub was a good addition to give younger adults without children a late night option. Normally, Johnny and I choose adults-only resorts so we were a little wary about Now Sapphire, but I didn't feel--for lack of better words--bombarded by kids like I feared. 

 Iguana right outside our building.

Iguana right outside our building.

Resort Grounds

Architecture and interior design always have a special place in my heart, so I am a sucker for a resort/hotel with great design. Commonly, I will spend more to stay in a place that fits my tastes; so design is one of my factors. The Now Sapphire had small but lovely grounds. Hidden pathways twisted through the bamboo connecting the different villas, and boardwalks crossed over shallow rock pools in the lobby. Plenty of animals could be seen right on the grounds from iguanas to some raccoon/cat creature that I still don't know the name of. The beach was cleared of seaweed each morning. The rooms were pretty standard Cancun resort type lodgings--think marble floors, dark wood furniture, white bedding. No complaints there, but also not blown away. Our favorite part was the balcony. Nothing beats an ocean front balcony, and this one had a jacuzzi tub on it as well. Definite plus for us! Overall for design and style on this resort, the lobby and grounds are more impressive than the rooms. 

 Views upon arrival. Boardwalks are precarious after tequila shots! 

Views upon arrival. Boardwalks are precarious after tequila shots! 

Location

The Now Sapphire was not very conveniently located to some of the main attractions of Cancun. It is quite far from the Hotel Zone and over an hour drive (through road construction) to reach the docks to go to Isla Mujeres. While we don't go out in the Hotel Zone usually, taking a catamaran to Isla Mujeres is one of our favorite things to do. The long bus ride to and from the docks to do our Isla Mujeres excursion was a real bummer for us. Especially during a short trip, three hours on a bus really eats into vacation time! 

 Sunsets on our ocean front balcony--we always spend lots of time on balconies!

Sunsets on our ocean front balcony--we always spend lots of time on balconies!

Food 

On any given day, I love to eat; when I'm on vacation, experiencing new and delicious foods is one of the main ways I explore and have fun. The Now Sapphire gets poor marks in this regard, unfortunately. If you're traveling for the food, this might not be the right resort for you. We did, however, have some truly delicious fresh lobster on Isla Mujeres!

 Our best food was off resort, on Isla Mujeres. 

Our best food was off resort, on Isla Mujeres. 

Amenities

The Now Sapphire offered many of the usual resort amenities (pools, spa, tennis, wind surfing, etc). We loved the spa. It was beautifully decorated and offered unique treatments complimentary when you purchase an upgraded room. One of these treatments was hydrotherapy--basically a hangover cure (convenient)! Speaking of hangovers, our wedding group was not super impressed with the pool bars closing down at 5pm or the lack of mini bar selection. This was probably the kid-friendly element coming into play. The wedding planning service (the reason we were there) seemed to have done a really good job. The wedding went smoothly and the reception area by the pool was really gorgeous. 

 Isla Mueres 

Isla Mueres 

Summary

The Now Sapphire would be a good choice if you have kids, are traveling on a budget or are planning a bigger destination wedding (40 guests at this one) and want to keep costs down but still have a gorgeous experience. For couples looking for a romantic or luxury experience, this might not fit the bill. However, as I prefaced, it's hard to have a bad time in Cancun--hopefully the review above helps you know if the Now Sapphire is for you!