As an interior and architectural photographer, I’m passionate about capturing great design and the heart of a space. Today, I’m taking those skills into spaces to tell the stories of designers, architects, and builders, and the beauty they create. When I’m not behind a camera, I’m probably somewhere near a charcuterie board, at home renovating and designing my midcentury ranch or hanging with my goldendoodle pup, Hyran.
I’m an East Coast gal, through and through. I’ve always had an affinity for our dark gray waters (ignorance is bliss!) and hot, hot summers. But I can honestly say I’ve never had a better beach experience than lounging Pacific-side at Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island. Let me paint the picture for you.
My stay at the Del began in the early days of April. I had my husband and one of our dearest friends as company. The weather was pretty consistently between 70-74 degrees. The breeze was calm and refreshing, and somehow it all came together to strike that magical balance of not too hot, not too cold. This translated into 8-hour beach shifts that never got uncomfortable. But it was the Del’s beach cabanette that truly made the experience. The day bed must have been king-sized, comfortable enough to split with 2-3 people, and came with chair-side bar service, all under the canopy of a clam-shell shade, which could be adjusted for more or less sun. Lounging on a literal bed with a drink in my hand and some seriously fresh chips and guacamole? Yeah, that’s pretty much the crown jewel of beach experiences.
Speaking of crowns, did you know that Coronado is Spanish for “Crowned One”? The entire town is sprinkled with crown imagery, and the Del is no exception. Their Crown Room ballroom is opulent with its overhanging crown-shaped chandeliers. Everything about the hotel transmits that same old-world glamour. From the golden-gated, 125-year-old elevator to the posh shopping downstairs and fine dining by the sea, the hotel is the definition of luxury.
One of my favorite parts of my stay at the Del was the spa. During the summer, the hotel operates two pools, one for adults-only and one for families. During our stay, however, I found the best way to relax aside from the beach was to book a treatment at the spa and spend the rest of the day lounging by its gorgeous infinity pool. Reserved for guests of the spa, the pool is quiet and calm. It also gets you access to the whirlpool and steam rooms, private showers and bathrooms, getting ready stations with hairdryers and toiletries, and pitchers of fruit water and snacks. You can also order food and beverages by the pool, which was glorious. I got a piña colada and took it with me for my pedicure! I highly recommend this technique. My technician was thorough and kind, and two weeks later, my toes are still looking fresh.
On the chilliest day of our stay, I traded in my bikini for an afternoon of exploring the island on wheels. We rented cruisers and cycled around the hotel and surrounding beach for a while. Overall, the island and its streets are very bike-friendly, though around the Del itself there’s a little too much foot-traffic to really get going — I would suggest biking a little further out on the island. After a little bit of exploring, we decided to all go in on a three-person rickshaw-looking contraption called a surrey. It was basically a canopy-covered bench with bike pedals on either side and a small space in the middle. This is what you rent if you want to laugh — hard — at yourself, or get a leisurely tour of the island sardined between your two most muscular pals.
There’s tons of shopping at the hotel, both on the main lobby floor and below. It reminds me of a similar hotel here, The Charleston Place. There are ice cream and candy shops, shops selling spa and body products, and apparel and kids stores. I borrowed a few babes and grabbed photos of some of my favorite items from their signature store and a women’s boutique called Weekends.
It’s impossible to choose a favorite restaurant at the Del, so instead I’ll just share a few of my favorite meals, starting with the Diver Scallops and Smoked Pork Belly at Sheerwater. This meal was decadent — rich and creamy and perfectly balanced with the salty bits of pork. Their potatoes, absolutely drenched in truffle butter, still make my mouth water when I think about them. Craft brews and artisan pizza at ENO was another favorite. The cheese plate is fabulous, and the pizzas were mind-blowing. We ordered the prosciutto pear, topped with rosemary and gruyere, and jalapeño business, sprinkled with bacon, chicken and generous dollops of cream cheese. So good. The final meal I’ll mention was the last night of our stay. It was, how do I put this, room service ice cream in bed. Sometimes you just need a night in, with a pint to yourself and sides like fresh berries, caramel sauce and candied nuts. Amen and amen.
All in all, our visit to the Del was incredible, and one I’ll be dreaming of all summer long. Until next time!
Earlier this winter, I was driving the long highway home to the place where I grew up. It’s a funny stretch of road, buried by the overhanging oaks, dotted with half-collapsing houses and intermittent wide openings of marshland and men casually casting their lines into the water. It’s a wild land, overgrown and untamed. It’s beautiful but dreary. Alive but somewhat sleepy. Many of the cinderblock houses burst out of the underbrush with shouts of color. A bright blue dwelling here, there a harlequin green. You get the feeling that the inhabitants have always been there. That those houses and trees have seen more than most. The air is thick with memory. It’s heavy with struggle and spirits, and the feeling of being forgotten.
At certain points, there are newer residents. They have tall houses and mowed lawns. They’ve left the city in exchange for acres. One, close to my turn, has decided to start raising alpacas. My mind starts to wander.
Three months later, I’ve put together a shoot inspired by wild things. I wanted to contrast colorful and exotic pieces with the drab landscape of a late winter afternoon, and then take them over the top with unexpected animals. I wanted to convey a bohemian feeling, with nothing really to do with the South. But it won’t be ignored. The Lowcountry is woven into these images, and why shouldn’t it be? If exotic is to be defined as bizarre, extraordinary, and romantic, is there anything that encompasses it more?
I can’t even tell you how many YouTube videos I’ve watched with some combination of the following words: messy, curls, wavy, lob, boho, and waves. And while I definitely don’t consider myself an expert, I feel like I’ve finally gotten into a groove with my hair. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned and some of the products that have helped me figure it out.
USmooth is a haircare line I recently discovered that does an amazing job. I use the volumizing line, and every product smells like heaven. Not even kidding. I like the way the shampoo and conditioner makes my hair feel. As someone with pretty straight hair, it can be hard to find a product that doesn’t leave my hair looking greasy by the end of the day. But I’ve also taken it too far and purchased products so focused on “clean” that my hair ended up seriously dry. These strike a nice balance.
After washing and towel drying, I work the plumping serum into my hair and let it finish drying. I do think the combination gives me a boost of volume after it’s dry.
When I first started teaching myself to do messy curls I was doing it with a straightener. I liked the result, but it was pretty finicky, and I wanted to see what would happen when I used a curling iron. I got the 1.25″ barrel from USmooth and it does a great job with looser curls. It has a good range of heat, I don’t even have to use the hottest setting like I have with other products in the past.
Once I’ve got it all curled, I give it a good spray with the USmooth firm hold hairspray and toss it with my fingers to separate them out and give it that messy look.
And that’s it! I can do the whole process in about 15 minutes and it stays all day–sometimes into the next morning, too. Not that I would ever do that.
disclaimer: this post was sponsored but the opinions were my own.