Suenos Tropical

The 1964 film, Night of the Iguana, placed Puerto Vallarta on the tourism map. The dreamy and romantic cinematography introduced Americans to the luscious and exotic hidden gem. Nearly 50 years later, stepping off the plane in Puerto Vallarta transports you back to a time when things were simpler. Scroll through the images below to view the tropical dreams that await you in PV…

Locations:

Puerto Vallarta Convention & Visitors Bureau: www.visitpuertovallarta.com

Sunset Plaza Hotel: www.sunsetplaza.com.mx

Secrets Hotel, Puerto Vallarta: www.secretsresorts.com

Hacienda San Angel: www.haciendasanangel.com

Casa Velas, Puerto Vallarta: www.hotelcasavelas.com

Ohtli Spa at Casa Magna by Marriott: www.marriotthotels.com

Vallarta Adventures: www.vallarta-adventures.com

el Dorado Restaurant: www.eldoradopv.com

Photo Credit: Jasmine Listou

The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Avon, Colorado

ImageNestled along the Eagle River within view of Beaver Creek Mountain ski area, the new Westin Riverfront Resort is a travelers dream come true. Both in summer and winter, the resort is perfectly situated to provide endless access to recreation.

Inside the contemporary Four Diamond property, guests have access to some of the finest spas, pools and restaurants in the country. And while the resort officially opened for the 2008/09 ski season, it is really just coming into its own. Situated on 19 acres, it is the first Silver LEED certified hotel in Colorado, and features its own Riverfront Express Gondola to whisk visitors up to Beaver Creek Mountain.

With a residential ambience and resplendent appointments throughout, the 230 guest residences include studio suites, one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums featuring high ceilings, large windows and beautiful mountain views. Interior design emphasizes comfort with rich textures and warm colors that complement the natural splendor. Spacious condos feature custom designed contemporary furnishings, high-end kitchens, and large five-piece bathrooms with spa products. Gas fireplaces, LCD flat screens, and workstations with wireless internet access round out the comfort and convenience of each room.

The on-site spa is truly something to experience. Spa Anjali features 27,000 square feet of spa, fitness and wellness facilities with views and artwork around every corner. They offer a full menu of mountain-inspired treatments using local, natural ingredients. The Athletic Club at The Westin offers state-of-the-art cardio equipment and weight machines, personal trainers, a 25-meter outdoor lap pool and indoor cycling, yoga and Pilates classes. Visit www.spaanjali.com for rates and more information, including monthly memberships.

A holistic approach in construction led to the Westin’s LEEDs certification from the U.S. Green Building Coucil. Landscaping features native plants to minimize water use. Building materials were sourced locally and use recycled content such as roof tiles from rubber tires, and low-emitting paints, carpets and window treatments were utilized. All residences and public areas feature recycling stations; and external lighting is minimzed to reduce impact on wildlife and nocturnal views.

When it comes to dining, enjoy the on-site Cima, an internationally acclaimed Richard Sandoval restaurant specializing in contemporary Latin cuisine and featuring fresh market produce, sustainable seafood, locally raised meats and specialty products from local purveyors. Take in the views from the sprawling outdoor lounge with seating surrounding cozy fire pits and a full bar. Of course there is also the Lift Café offering a quick, full-service hot breakfast or the Market, highlighting local bounty with to-go breakfast items, house-made sandwiches, prepared entrees and gourmet coffees and teas. For more information on Cima, visit www.richardsandoval.com.

Westin features and amenities include:

•            24-hour front desk

•            Two-story lobby with mountain views

•            Full-service business center

•            24-hour room service

•            Activity concierge to arrange outdoor adventures

•            Ski valet with boot-up lobby

•            Gondola service directly to Beaver Creek Mountain via the Riverfront Express

•            On-site ski/sporting goods store; rentals and equipment storage

•            Saline-based outdoor lap pool open year-round

•            Three riverside hot tubs

•            Access to riverfront biking trail, fishing, kayaking, hiking

•            Westin Kids Club and day care

•            Laundry and dry cleaning

Reservations: (866) 949-1616 or http://www.westinriverfrontbeavercreek.com

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Schwag Beer Taste Off

Pitting America’s worst beers head to head

Schwag Beer

You know you love it. A cold, cheap, crappy beer. Even the biggest beer snobs love a cold can of cheap beer on a hot summer night’s cruise. Yes, shit beer is back ladies and gentlemen, and is now available in trendy hipster dive bars nationwide. And we just had to know how they stack up. We tested these beers in an exclusive blind taste test and compared them against each other and against the American Lager standard, Budweiser, to see how these schwag beers compared. To simplify testing, we did not test any of the “light” versions of these beers. And here are our findings…

Olympia
“It’s the water”
Olympia rang in at under 10 bucks. “This is beer I would actually drink,” remarked one. With a resounding, “I love Olympia,” by another.

Price paid for 12 pack: $8.99
Taste: No, not really
After Taste: Yeah, there it is
Color: Golden
Head: Not bad

Although Olympia may be brewed by Pabst Brewing Company, it is definitely it’s own unique beer and flavor. It was one of the office favorites and received higher accolades than Bud when tasted side by side. Olympia rang in at under 10 bucks. “This is beer I would actually drink,” remarked one. With a resounding, “I love Olympia,” by another. It has an initial light and fruity taste similar to Hamm’s, a bit of a twang, and finishes with a slight metallic twinge. Since it’s inception in 1896 we doubt this beer has changed much. And why would it? In 2008 Olympia won the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Gold Medal in the “American-Style Lager or Premium Lager” category.

Schlitz
“Just the kiss of the hops”
Price paid for 12 pack: $9.49
Taste: Ummmm
After Taste: Not bad really
Color: Pale Gold
Head: Pretty frothy when poured wrong

While most people think that PBR is Milwaukee’s most famous beer, according to the can, Schlitz is actually “the beer that made Milwaukee famous.” How official that ranking is was difficult to determine. And while this beer might not be as readily available, it could be worth seeking out as you cruise the isles looking for something cheap and palatable. According to our highly experienced beer tasters, Schlitz tastes both like PBR and like Coors. Is this good or bad? We’ll let you decide. Our final ranking: “It’s decent, but it’s no Hamm’s.”

Hamm’s
“The beer refreshing”
Price paid for 12 pack: $8.99
Taste: There’s a taste?
After Taste: There’s a taste?
Color: Urine
Head: Bubbly

Sure we may be biased based on our love for the drunken cartoon characters and beloved Hamm’s bear we used to see on the company’s TV commercials, but our consensus is that Hamm’s is one of the best cheap beers out there. We were shocked at its low price point relative to drinkability. Around since 1865, Hamm’s took a GABF Gold Medal in both 2007 and 2010 in the “American Style Lager” category. Need further proof? It was top pick in almost every blind taste test in the office. “It reminds me of how my uncle’s used to smell,” declared one staffer. And another, “It’s so good, there’s almost no taste to it whatsoever.” However, we believe the 1979 animated commercial sums it up best: “You can’t beat the bear for fun, and you can’t beat Hamm’s for great taste.”

Old Milwaukee
“America’s best tasting beer”
Price paid for 12 pack: $9.49
Taste: Sure
After Taste: Poignant
Color: Pale Morning Gold
Head: Yes please

Another fad beer seeing a resurgence in popularity, yet this is one slogan we had to take issue with. While “Old Mill” may be a classic and one that we all remember drinking in high school, we aren’t sure why. For the price, we would take an Olympia any day. It’s got an initial sour taste with a smooth middle and a malty finish. We believe the light version of this beer may be better, as it took a 2007 Gold Medal and a 2010 Silver Medal in the “American Style Lager Light” categories. According to our most seasoned beer taster: “Not much there, but I like a light tasting beer.”

Pabst Blue Ribbon
“Selected America’s best in 1893”
Price paid for 12 pack: $9.99
Taste: None
After Taste: None
Color: Very nice
Head: Some

There’s a reason why Pabst Blue Ribbon is so omnipresent on cruiser rides. It’s like McDonald’s: cheap, easy to find, and satisfying. But this popularity is no accident. PBR has been winning awards since 1893. Most recently it took Gold at the 2005 and 2006 GABF in the “American Style Lager” category. And our testers agreed. One simply declared, “I drink PBR.” It starts with a small bite and finishes light and clean with little aftertaste. Overall a great value (especially in 30 packs, our favorite), and a highly drinkable beer.

Budweiser
“King of beers”
Price paid for 12 pack: $11.99
Taste: Ok
After Taste: A little
Color: Golden Hue
Head: Not bad

We wanted to line up the King of Beers next to our selection of crap beer to see how this “premium lager” really stacked up. Is it worth the extra couple bucks per 12-pack? Our answer: definitely not. If you want a premium beer, drink a micro-brew. If you want a light, cold, schwag beer to qwuench your thirst and propel you on grueling cruiser rides, go for the cheap stuff.

Hoka One One Kicks Legit

Hoka-Stinson

While these “maximalist” running shoes may garner you double-takes and coffee shop inquiries, it will all be worth it as you re-discover pain free road running.

That said, we were testing the trail version of the shoe: The Stinson Trail. And while this shoe is not my number-one go-to for trail running, I’m glad I got to experience the Hoka technology.

The Stinson features the company’s recognizable HOKA One One midsole.  At two-and-a-half times greater volume than other trail runners, the extreme cushioning is there to provide superior comfort and shock absorption. Which it does. Many people are coming to swear by the technology and gladly fork over the north-of-$150 price for them.

The visible curve of the midsole — the Meta Rocker — aids in aligned strike and gait cycle. This is especially appealing for runners with knee issues. As you run you spring off of the padding and land down on a cloud, and there is a feeling of improved form after a couple of miles, as the trampoline-like landing will have you pulling your knees up higher for a more efficient stride.

Hoka-3

Construction is top-notch. The mesh upper is highly breathable, and the overall shoe is shockingly lightweight. One well thought through feature is that they come in the box with two lacing options: a “Salomon-like” tension-pull lacing system with cord; and a set of regular tie-up laces. The high-abrasion outsole is legit as far as our testing revealed over the summer.

Another item of note is that although they are maximalist in cushioning, the “drop” of the shoe is unrelated to the height of the midsole. The Stinson’s feature a medium, 6mm drop.

Hoka-2

So while fellow tall runners may feel a bit loud with the added height (even tipsy at first) — not to mention both the Euro-inspired color schemes available on the Stinson — your knees will thank you, even if they’re not your primary shoe.

MSRP $170 www.hoka.com 

Columbia Sportswear Introduces New Performance Enhanced Down Blend

Outdoor industry stalwart Columbia Sportswear is introducing a new PED to the market: Performance Enhanced Down, a patent-pending construction technique that the company says is like a “downDiamond 890 Turbodown Hooded Down Jacket - Graphite jacket on steroids.”

Columbia’s President and CEO Tim Boyle said: “It’s time the outdoor industry embraced the use of PEDs. Performance Enhanced Down offers unmatched performance and in Fall 2014, you can experience how science can enhance the limitations of nature, and it’s legal.”

TurboDown is a new technology that leverages the strengths of both science and nature, layering natural down, synthetic Omni-Heat thermal insulation, and Omni-Heat Reflective technology into every baffle on the new jackets. The result is an industry first (although it won’t be for long as Primaloft is also introducing a synthetic/down blend at Winter Market); a product that has the warmth, look and feel of natural down and performs in all conditions wet or dry.

The company asked an independent third-party entity to test TurboDown’s heat-retention capabilities against several of their competitors’ similarly priced insulated jackets. Using a computer-controlled environmental chamber to regulate variables, Columbia TurboDown took on the Marmot Zeus, North Face ThermoBall, Patagonia Down Sweater and Patagonia Nano Puff. In each case, Columbia products insulated with TurboDown performed better, beating competitors by margins ranging from 8% to 22% warmer, the company said.

In keeping with Columbia’s commitment to making its innovation accessible to all, the collection will be tiered in three categories: Gold, Platinum and Diamond – and the jackets and vests will range in price from $130 to $325. Featured in 14 pieces with a range of colors and styles, TurboDown will be available to men and women in September of 2014.

TurboDown GraphicColumbia, the flagship brand of Portland, Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear Company who also owns Mountain Hardwear, has been creating innovative apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment for outdoor enthusiasts since 1938. Columbia has become a leading global brand by channeling the company’s passion for the outdoors and an innovative spirit of “trying stuff” into technologies and performance products that keep people warm, dry, cool and protected year-round. Columbia.com