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Casablanca Inn: Shining Star of St. Augustine

December 27, 2012 by · Comments Off on Casablanca Inn: Shining Star of St. Augustine 

A Hotel Review

In 2011, National Geographic named St. Augustine, Florida one of the top ten places in the world to see Christmas lights. That’s a high honor indeed for my current hometown. The 144-square-block historic district truly sparkles with excitement from over three million tiny white bulbs (each white, per city ordinance) strewn along the ancient streets and historic buildings.

Nights of LightsPhoto by: http://www.floridashistoriccoast.com

Nights of Lights
Photo by: http://www.floridashistoriccoast.com

 

The “Nights of Lights” traces its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a lighted white candle during the Christmas holidays.

Should you happen to arrive in town along the bayfront, and pass the 17th-century fort called Castillo de San Carlos, you will undoubtedly notice the Casablanca Inn. The Bed and Breakfast outshines all the other buildings;  it radiantly glows with warm hospitality, hundreds and hundreds of white lights and tiki torches. The Inn is surrounded by a two-level elegant verandah, which is typically graced with visitors and locals chatting over drinks. You see the Casablanca Inn is also the home of the Tini Martini Bar; a watering hole so popular folks overflow on the porch and patio.

Casablanca Inn, St. Augustine, FL

Casablanca Inn, St. Augustine, FL

When I moved to St. Augustine a year ago, the bar attracted me like a powerful magnet. I stopped in and was greeted by friendly bartenders who mix a mean martini. And…one that is anything but teeny. Choose from the menu that features “Classy Tinis,” specialty Tini’s like “Espress-oh-Tinis” and a big selection of “Fruitinis.” Or just ask the bartender to shake, not stir, one to your specifications. By the way, overnight guests receive a $15 bar credit each day.

A gorgeous martini from the Tini Martini Bar

A gorgeous martini from the Tini Martini Bar

The Tini Martini Bar also serves 32 vintages by the glass, and several fine single malt Scotch choices. Beer aficionados won’t be disappointed either, with 28 distinctive brews to choose from. Live jazz or blues adds to the convivial atmosphere on Thursday through Saturday evenings.

I recently had the opportunity to spend two nights as a guest at the Casablanca. What fun to be a tourist in my own city. I learned the 1914 building is a Mediterranean revival historic home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I also found the ambiance very romantic, except I was unfortunately staying alone!

My room would seduce any couple with its multi-pillow adorned queen bed, antique furnishings and a Jacuzzi tub. Sleeping in luxury was more than heavenly, I felt like I was starring in the Princess and the Pea fable. Owner Michael Miles explained: “We only want the best for our guests. (So) We have insured a superbly beautiful and comfortable night’s sleep with our Select Comfort Sleep Number Pillow Top Bed. They are topped with an Isotonic pillow-top mattress cover. The next layer is a feather bed cover (hypoallergenic)…then nearly at the top are 400-count cotton sateen sheets & pillow cases (silky and smooth). The pinnacle is designer duvet covers and isotonic pillows.”

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The room sat on the second floor, one of 23 suites and rooms available, and included a balcony overlooking cobblestone Charlotte Street, the road behind the Inn.  How lovely to escape to this hideaway with morning coffee or an afternoon drink and enjoy the city’s charm–even by myself!

Breakfast begins at 8:15 and guests are served much more than a continental style buffet. They sit down in the dining room and order from the menu or choose the gourmet special of the day. I splurged with a fresh fruit cup, banana bread and Eggs Benedict.

Eggs Benedict at the Casablanca

Eggs Benedict at the Casablanca Inn

 

Since St. Augustine is a walking town, once you park your car (the Inn has a lot for guests) you won’t need it again. The Casablanca rests on the main thoroughfare and within a stones throw of many foodie-worthy restaurants. Consider jovial Meehan’s Irish Pub –practically next-door, tapas at the Tasting Room around the corner, or authentic French fare at Bistro de Leon a block away. If you desperately need early morning coffee- try Crucial Coffee on Charlotte Street and later wander into the adjoining courtyard restaurant, The Gourmet Hut, for lunch.

Although Christmas is now over, St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights continue through the end of January. Should that not fit into your calendar, visit later. Come stroll around the fort; visit historic homes and cemeteries, the Lightner Museum, St. Augustine Lighthouse or just walk over the famed Bridge of Lions. From that vantage point you have the ultimate view of the Casablanca Inn shining as a welcoming star in a city.

Casablanca Inn Sign

Casablanca Inn Sign

And don’t just take my word for it. This year Forbes named the nation’s oldest city one of the prettiest towns in America and National Geographic Traveler Magazine declared St. Augustine one of the 20 Must-See Places for 2013. How lucky am I to live there.

 


St. Augustine Beach on Dwellable

Waverly, Georgia Welcomes the Horse Stamp Inn

August 5, 2012 by · Comments Off on Waverly, Georgia Welcomes the Horse Stamp Inn 

Horse Stamp Inn, Waverly, Georgia

Horse Stamp Inn, Waverly, Georgia

The opening of a new bed and breakfast created big news in Waverly, Georgia.  Reckon that’s because Waverly (population 1,500) dozes like a Southern belle in the heat of the day. Waverly’s a laid back kind of place and until recently, a little off the beaten track.  But, a new exit off Interstate 95- Horse Stamp Church Road- may change those statistics.

Welcome Gate at the Horse Stamp Inn

Welcome Gate at the Horse Stamp Inn

 

Kris and Tom Hutcheson courageously decided to become innkeepers while living in Denver. They bought a grand home and moved to Georgia. Not ones to waste time, they landscaped the grounds, made luxurious upgrades to the interior and added a mix of classic and antique furniture to the property. All with four months, no less.

 

The Horse Stamp Inn offers 5 gorgeous suites each named after a famous horse. Seabiscuit Suite is the largest and offers access to the upper terrace. The bedroom feels wedding night romantic. Actually, the Horse Stamp Inn would make an ideal location for a wedding. They maintain a pristine barn, 16-acres of tranquil meadows and an artesian pond.

Living Room- Horse Stamp Inn

Living Room- Horse Stamp Inn

 

Guests looking for something beyond relaxation or simple pleasures like walking or playing cards, may swim in the saltwater pool or fish the pond. Tom also arranges boat outings along the Georgia coast on a private 21-foot vessel. Cruising to Jekyll Island takes less than an hour but a full day is needed for an excursion to Cumberland Island- a National Seashore Park managed by the National Park Service.

 

Overnight visitors delight with the plentiful breakfast Kris prepares. She incorporates fresh produce from the garden when available. I was served blueberry cornmeal pancakes bursting with homegrown berries, bacon and quiche. Guests may gather the eggs for their omelet, if desired. As you might expect, two horses also make their home at the Horse Stamp Inn, along with the egg-laying chickens.

The Barn

The Barn

Sumptuous dinners can be arranged with a private chef using the Inn’s dining room or guests can hop in their car and drive over to one of the many restaurants on nearby St. Simons Island.

 

The Horse Stamp Inn makes a great getaway for folks from Jacksonville and Savannah or anyone traveling Interstate 95.

 

 

Breakfast at the Inn

Breakfast at the Inn

For reservations or information call: 912 882-6280

2418 Horsestamp Church Rd

Waverly, GA 31565

 

The Green Palm Inn: Savannah, Georgia

March 30, 2012 by · Comments Off on The Green Palm Inn: Savannah, Georgia 

Entrance to The Green Palm Inn

A Hotel Review

 

In colonial America, hostesses set out a fresh pineapple, a prized and valuable commodity, when visitors joined them.  Over the years, the pineapple came to symbolize hospitality. Today we recognize all sorts of symbols such as the Nike swoosh meaning Just Do It or the green and white Starbucks cup of coffee. To me, a palm tree seems to say oasis: a respite from the sun, a place to fall asleep and a place to nourish our bodies. Certainly palm trees have provided coconuts to sustain the lives of many.

 

So, it is no surprise that the Green Palm Inn in Savannah, Georgia uses the palm tree as a symbol, or that the Inn offers the finest shelter or lodgings and scrumptious breakfasts and snacks around. It’s a true oasis.

Innkeeper, Diane McCray

The Green Palm Inn is owned by Diane and Gary Crews, but let’s gives Diane credit; she runs the place because Gary’s job often takes him away. As Innkeeper, Diane welcomes guests like family, sits down with them and introduces her southern city. Diane is a prized pineapple; she is hospitality personified. She’ll provide you will a cool drink,  share her knowledge of history, and whisper insider tips, like the best tour guides, shuttle services, taxi drivers and restaurants..

 

I stayed in the Green Palm’s elegant Sable Palm Suite which could easily be a honeymoon haven. The gorgeous carved four-poster king-size bed makes a bold statement and commands your attention. You need a step stool to climb onto the elevated bed. There’s a bounty of pillows and high thread count linens to caress your skin with the softest touch.

King Sized Bed in the Sable Palm Suite

Talk about romance, this suite has two fireplaces; one near the bed and the other in the bathroom. I also enjoyed the large open seating area with a settee, chair and antique wardrobe. But, you’ve got a modern small refrigerator in the corner and coffee machine.

 

Diane bakes extraordinary breakfast selections, a meal that will keep you going as you walk around Savannah’s streets, gardens and squares. The sensuous city drips with Spanish moss hanging from live oak trees, many over a hundred years old. Fountains are everywhere and provide a cool touch, even on a hot day.

 

More than likely you will return to the Green Palm in the late afternoon and find refreshments- freshly baked cookies or sweets, perhaps cheese and crackers, lemonade and wine. You can sit and chat with the other guests in the parlor or take your goblet up to your room for some quiet time.

 

 

The Green Palm Inn is cozy with just four rooms and also quiet. It’s just steps from Green Square (how appropriate is that) but actually named for Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene and sits about four blocks from the riverfront. Should you choose to walk to this touristy area instead of the historic downtown, you are ideally situated.

 

 

The rates are remarkable low for a top of the line Bed and Breakfast and once you stay, you will return and likely tell others. Just be sure to book your room well in advance because the reputation of this oasis in Savannah is spreading

 

Forsyth Park Fountain in the early morning

For information on The Green Palm Inn please visit:

www.SavannahInns.com

www.GreenPalmInn.com

Parlor- Green Palm Inn, Savannah, GA

 For information about Savannah: www.VisitSavannah.com

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