Park Hyatt Beaver Creek – Winter Wonderland

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Every year I go somewhere for my birthday and this year I opted for a skiing vacation in Beaver Creek, CO.  It started out not as intended, but in the end I had such a fabulous time I can’t wait to go back.  As I often do, I stayed at Hyatt and it didn’t disappoint.

The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek was hands down the best hotel in terms of service I’ve been to in a long time (better than several Ritz properties for example).  I chose Beaver Creek because of its general proximity to Denver, mix of amenities, and I’ve already spent some time at Vail.

Skiing in Beaver Creek, CO

Right away I was struck by the simple beauty of the mountain covered in snow and the relative ease with which I settled in as if I were home.  The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is simply cozy.  The fireplace in the living room-esque lobby is inviting and a comfort after a long day of skiing – as were the outdoor hot tubs with waterfalls surrounded by snow.

Park Hyatt hot tub

Relaxing after a long day of skiing

Overall, I’d recommend Beaver Creek, but I do think Vail is a notch above.  The green and blues at Beaver Creek I felt were inferior (for those of us who are not expert skiers) as was the shopping.  I did have the good fortune to be there the week the World Cup competition was moved at the last minute from France to Beaver Creek.  It surely did not hurt to be surrounded by such talent and having had the opportunity to met some of the athletes (lunch with some of the Italians, hot tub with the Americans, and the Austrians stayed in rooms on my hall), I have a newfound respect for their dedication to their craft.

In all, Beaver Creek is well worth a visit and early December is a great time to go, especially before the holiday crowds strike.

Tampa Taco Bus

It’s the week of Christmas and I’m visiting my family in the Tampa area.  After a morning full of errands with my mom, we stopped at the Tampa Taco Bus (#2) for a quick bite and a bit of respite from holiday madness.  The Taco Bus group has two locations, with another about to open.  The St. Pete locale has outdoor table service and since it was 82 degrees, we basked in the sun while we ate.

There’s no Tex-Mex here, what you get its much closer to authentic Mexican than most places offer.  According to them, “We serve the Mexican street kind of food that the owner Rene Valenzuela has been cooking since he was kid in Mexico making some pesos at taco stands.  We have a northern Mexican approach to food but you will find tacos with recipes that are typical for places such as Yucatan, Mexico City, Sinaloa, and Puebla.”

We had beef tongue and cochintita pibil tacos and butternut squash tostada.  Overall the ingredients were very fresh and well made, but they definitely lacked appropriate seasoning.  The red and green hot sauces on the tables kicked it up a notch, though.

Cochinita Pibil – Shredded Pork marinated in Achiote and bitter orange, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow roasted in a smoker (BASED ON A 5,000 YEAR OLD MAYAN RECIPE!)

Lengua – Beef tongue.  Cubed and tender, lengua always reminds me of Granny’s pot roast.  YUM

Butternut Squash Tostada – Prepared Yucatan style with pico de gallo and topped with a sprinkling of queso cotija mexican cheese (optional).  *A bit bland, but great with the green hot sauce.

Tampa Taco Bus is well worth the trek and if you had weather like we did, it’s even better!