Wednesday, January 31, 2018

From Desk to Dinner - Valentine's Day Edition

Dress (similar here, here, & here) | Coat (sold out; similar style here & here) | Pumps | Purse | Necklace | Earrings

Happy Wednesday! I wanted to start by thanking all of you for the kind birthday wishes. We had a great time celebrating in Austin over the weekend. From fun dinners, to live music, museums and a hike, it was the perfect way to ring in a new year! I also got so many positive responses about my last blog post, that I'm definitely going to have to share fun facts with you more often! If there's anything you want answered, feel free to send me an email, or message me on one of my social channels!

It's hard to believe that February is right around the corner. How many of you have started brainstorming what you're doing, or more importantly what you're going to wear, for Valentine's Day? Of course the latter has been on my mind, so when I came across this burgundy dress from local designer, Miles David, I knew I had to have it. 

With the holiday falling on a Wednesday this year, many of us will be going straight from work to dinner with our boyfriend/husband, or out for drinks with the girs for Galentine's. This dress (along with the others I've linked below), is perfect for going from desk to dinner. The burgundy color is unexpected, yet still festive, and the cut is complimentary without being too sexy for the office. The longer sleeves also make it work appropriate, and perfect for the winter season.

Photos by LA Photography

Friday, January 26, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me - 31 Fun Facts About Me

Happy Birthday to me! In honor of my 31st birthday this Sunday (phew I feel old), I thought it would be fun to share with you some fun facts about me. Without further adieu...

I've been to six of the seven continents. Africa is my favorite, and I can't wait to go to Antarctica. 

I've traveled to 76 countries. Some of my favorite places have been Egypt, Easter Island (off the coast of Chile), the Galapagos Islands (off the coast of Ecuador), Hungary, Machu Picchu in Peru, Hong Kong, Kenya and Tahiti 

I was born and raised in Vail, Colorado and lived between our mountain house there, and our lake house in Wisconsin

I was on skis as soon as I was able to walk

Every time we go out to a nice dinner, I make Adam say it's an anniversary, birthday, or some sort of celebration in hopes of getting a free dessert. 9 out of 10 times I luck out

Sunflowers and stargazer lilies are my favorite flowers

I attended the University of Colorado - Boulder for college, and majored in Sociology emphasizing in Criminology

I convinced my mom when I was 15 to let me get my belly button pieced while we were vacationing in the Cayman Islands. I haven't had a belly button ring in for years, but the hole still won't close - so weird!

I went to a private K-12 school in Vail, and then attended a prep school in Wisconsin for high school

My class in Vail was the biggest in school history - it had 27 people in it. In Wisconsin, I had 32 classmates in my grade

I have a weakness for McDonald's french fries and get offended when people talk trash on McD's

Safari (my pup) is my favorite thing in the world

I always knew I wanted to go to fashion school but my parents said I had to have a well rounded education so I had something to "fall back on." After graduating from CU, I went straight to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco and graduated with honors

I still sleep with my childhood stuffed animal, a raggedy pink haired rabbit named Fuzzy Wuzzy, when Adam is out of town. He's seen better days, and has been patched and sewn back together more times than I can count 

I'm OCD about showering and bathing

I hate driving and being in the car 

I have two tattoos, and had my nose pierced for a few months my freshman year of college. I loved it, but looking back now, I can't believe I did it

I'm an expert packer, and can travel with just a carry-on for a two week trip. Fun fact - when I went to NYFW (New York Fashion Week) this past fall, I traveled with just a wheelie. It blew all the girl's minds, especially because they came with five suitcases. I had six outfits, three pairs of shoes, and four handbags. It's all about the planning

Philanthropy is a big part of my life and I think it's integral for everyone to give back. I'd love to start my own non-profit charity some day

My sister, Chelsey, is my only sibling and is four years older - she's the best!

I played competitive tennis in high school and still love the sport to this day. I also was on the swim team, and the cheerleading team

I absolutely hate surprises, probably because I don't like being caught off guard

I've always dreamed of owning a boutique on a tropical island

I took Spanish classes from kindergarten to 12th grade and can still understand the language fairly well, but can't speak it

I love tomatoes more than anything, and I eat them by themselves all the time

If I wasn't in the fashion industry, I would be a lawyer

My favorite holiday is Halloween, but I don't like candy. Go figure

I don't like change, but adapt well when I'm put in a new environment or start something new

My grandma is the #1 fan of my blog. After she reads every blog post, she writes me an email about it, and shares the most amazing anecdotes with me. I truly look forward to it, and save them all in an email folder with her name on it!

I believe in quality over quantity, especially when it comes to friendships 

I love laughing and always laugh at my own jokes

Thanks for stopping by and getting the chance to learn a little bit more about me! Have a great weekend! xo

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Take Me Back to the Beach - A Sneak Peek at Vera Bradley's Spring Beach Collection

Take me back to the beach! I cannot tell you how excited I am to share these photos with you from our trip to Costa Rica. 

Everything you see is from Vera Bradley's Spring Beach collection, which debuts next Thursday, February 1st. If you've followed me for a while, you know that Vera Bradley is one of my favorite brands to partner with on the blog. When they reached out to me right before my vacation to see if I would like to bring some samples from their soon-to-debut collection along with me, I of course said yes! 

Partnering with companies I love often times gives me the chance to see new collections well before they hit the shelves (or the web)! It's really exciting, and something I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to do. The only downside is, you have to keep it on the DL and can't post anything about them until the release date or few days/weeks before. If you know me, I'm great at keeping a secret....unless it's my own!!! ;) 

The samples included this gorgeous pom pom beach bag, fringe Ikat sarong/scarf, and beach towel. Not only are the pieces super colorful and very "me," but like every Vera Bradley product, no stone is left unturned. Seriously, they think of everything! The beach bag has a hidden, seamless zippered compartment at the bottom of the bag to store your valuables. How many times have you been at the beach or the pool and wanted to jump in the water but had no where to safely put your phone, watch, or wallet? They've got you covered. The beach towel has two side zippered pockets as well, for you to store your book, Kindle, or any essentials. Did I mention it also has a blow up pillow insert, too? Comfort is key when you're laying on the beach. The scarf, which I wore as a sarong, is a great swim cover-up, but can also double as the perfect outfit accessory for your travels to or from your destination. 

Wherever your travel plans take you next, be sure to check out Vera Bradley's entire collection next week. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sweater Weather

Sweater (sold out, similar style here & here) | Jeans - run TTS | Mules - currently 50% off!! | Purse | Necklace | Earrings | Sunglasses

It's Monday, which means we're officially kicking off my birthday week!!! I can't believe January 28th is just around the corner! The best day of the year...obviously.

Since we are in the midst of winter, it makes for the perfect time to wear our cute sweaters. #sweaterweather, am I right? It's been so chilly in Houston the past few weeks, that my sweaters have definitely been getting a lot of air time. Case in point, when Lauren and I shot this look the other week, it was 40 (hence the half smile in some of these photos haha). I know, I know, to most of the country that doesn't sound too cold, but for us Texans, it feels like sub zero. Growing up between Colorado and Wisconsin, then moving to San Francisco, I could have never imagined that I would have thought 40 degrees was "cold!" I guess I have become a true southerner.

 This mock-turtleneck is one of my favorite purchases this season. I actually had to buy it twice because my mom stole the first one! I can't blame her though because it is so cozy, and I love the unexpected mix of colors in the stripes. I feel like stripe sweaters are usually only two alternating colors, which is what makes this one so interesting. The pop of black and camel make it easy to pair with tons of different accessories, so you can easily switch things up. I paired it with these leopard mules (currently on sale + they also come in navy), to mix it up a bit and have fun with the different patterns. I've been finding any excuse to wear them, because mules are having a moment, that's for sure!

See you soon!

Photos by LA Photography

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hotel Spotlight - Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica

Happy Tuesday, my friends! Today I am starting a new travel series called Hotel Spotlight. In the past, I have talked a lot about the wonderful hotels I've stayed at when I travel, and have included them in my travel guides and/or city reviews. However, this will be a bit different, as I'm going to focus solely on my stay at the resort or hotel, versus what we did each day, or where we ate.

Like everyone else, I comb through the reviews on and Tripadvisor before booking a hotel, and I wanted to offer a more personalized alternative. To kick off this new series, I am sharing our stay at the Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica. We spent eight days at this luxury, adults only, all inclusive resort, and had a wonderful time.

Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica is located on the stunning Papagayo Peninsula in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, which is on the Pacific Ocean. Our flight from Houston was just a little over three hours, which made getting there a breeze. We had a direct flight into Liberia International Airport, and the hotel was a quick 20 minute drive from the airport (although it felt like it was hundreds of miles away from anything). We pre-arranged transportation with the hotel and we're picked up in an air conditioned SUV and whisked away to our home-away-from-home for the next week.

The Resort 
This was our fourth time staying at an AMResorts property, which have included Secrets Maroma Beach, outside of Cancun, Mexico, Secrets Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic (where we went for NYE 2017), and Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Obviously we are repeat costumers because we have had great experiences at their sister properties, and have grown to love all the unlimited luxuries that are included.

The Secrets Papagayo Resort has 202 guestrooms that offer tropical or ocean views. We stayed in one of their Preferred Club Bungalow Suites, and had a gorgeous ocean front view from our room and over-sized patio. We have opted during each of our stays at AMResorts to upgrade to the Preferred Club, which offers additional amenities for a nominal cost. Some of these amenities are, a private lounge that offers daily continental breakfast service, afternoon hot and cold hours d’oeuvres, dessert in the evenings, and top shelf liquor and wine. It gives you access to one of the restaurants that is available only for Preferred Club members for breakfast and lunch. Plus, upgraded mini-bar service and bath amenities, private check-in/out, unlimited connectivity (which includes free WiFi and unlimited international calls to the US, Canada and Mexico), and upgraded rooms. Did I mention that they bring nightly desserts to your room, as well?

Our room was nestled into one of the furthest parts of the resort, and we were situated right next to the Honeymoon Suite, which was really nice and made us feel like we were completely alone. The resort was fairly spread out and is built up into the hills, so a decent amount of walking is required. They do offer a shuttle service so that you don't have to face the daunting hills if you don't want to, but we enjoyed getting our daily dose of exercise going to and from our bungalow to the beach and the restaurants. That being said, if you're hoping to wear high heels while here on vacation, leave them at home. I had read reviews of how hilly it was, but didn't think it would be an was! My heels stayed in the suitcase the whole time, and I was happy I had brought several cute pairs of sandals with me.

The resort has five restaurants, four bars, a coffee shop, and a special lounge for only Preferred Club guests. We had the opportunity while we were at the resort to not only dine in all of their restaurants, but to indulge in two special meals. These unique meals were curated just for us, and included a romantic beach side dinner, as well as a special "off the menu" five course dinner prepared and presented by the chef in the hotel's wine cellar. As you can guess, the two specialty meals were by far our favorite. Some of the items prepared for us that we enjoyed were lobster, beets four ways (who knew?! So good!), grilled sirloin, deconstructed apple salad, and so many other delicious things. It truly was a special experience. That being said, all the food we ate while we were there was great, very creative, and more importantly, incredibly fresh. Their five restaurants included:

Himitsu, which offered Pan-Asian cuisine, as well as a teppanyaki bar.
The Market Cafe, which is a buffet that's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate breakfast here every morning, and loved the variety of local and traditional cuisine they had.
The Seaside Grill, which was our favorite restaurant, featured several different types of fish, as well as steak, and delicious salads.
Portofino, the Italian restaurant (which we also loved), featured an extensive menu and had the most delicious spinach risotto and other pastas.
Aqua, which was located by the spa, offered small, healthy dining options and a fun bar. They had amazing juices and delicious burritos.

From the moment we arrived, the service was outstanding. Every person was very attentive, not to mention incredibly friendly. As soon as we got to our room, we were greeted by our personal concierge, and had a gorgeous, personalized dessert and a bottle of champagne waiting for us (how cool is the picture of us?!?). By the second day the staff remembered our names, were always checking in to see if we needed something, and clearly wanted to go the extra mile to make our vacation one to remember.

The hotel has a world class spa, which was perfect for an extra dose of rest and relaxation. We enjoyed a 50 minute Swedish Massage in one of their darling treatment rooms that overlooked the ocean. They had several services to choose from, and the spa was definitely one of the most popular places at the resort.

We also enjoyed having a beach side cabana during our entire vacation. The hotel reserved the cabana for us, but you could easily reserve it (at no extra cost) the day before. It was nice to not have to worry about whether or not we were going to get a seat if we decided to sleep in! That being said, while we were there, we never saw people have any issues getting a chair by the beach, or by the two pools.

Among some of the other amenities they offered were daily activities and nightly entertainment, which included singers, dancers, and movies on the beach. Some of the activities they offered were morning and afternoon hikes (which provided a great vantage point and areal view of the hotel), beach volleyball, bocce ball, archery, yoga, and water aerobics, You also could rent bikes and explore the grounds, as well as play tennis at the hotel's tennis courts.They also offered water sports, and you could hire someone to take you deep sea fishing, or enjoy a sunset cruise around the bay, which we did one evening, and highly recommend.

They also offered tours that you could take through the hotel, and had a rental car representative there, which was really convenient. We ended up renting a car on Christmas Eve and driving to Arenal Volcano, which was a lengthy three hour drive, but the views along the way of the lake were absolutely beautiful and well worth it. Once we got there, we explored the town of La Fortuna, hiked the waterfall, and enjoyed the Mistico Hanging Bridges.

All in all our vacation was one to remember, and was the perfect way to celebrate this past Christmas. We can't wait for our next trip, and will definitely be staying at another AMResort property in the future. 

This post is in partnership with Secrets Resorts. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Ashley Nicole Style possible.


design + development by kiki and co. creative