Thursday, October 1, 2009

San Diego Daycation- October 2009

October in San Diego is a great time to get out and explore your own backyard. With Santa Ana winds clearing the air San Diego's weather is ideal. Make sure to get outside and enjoy some of San Diego's best outdoor activities before our chilling winter (65 degrees) arrives and you have to put on a sweater. Here are a few great options to help you explore San Diego, whether on a date with a special someone or an enjoyable family day out:

1) San Diego Gondola Company-
Many San Diegans don't know that we have Venetian Gondolas in our own backyard. The San Diego Gondola Company offers gondola rides from the Coronado Loews Resort. Packages start at $85 for a one hour afternoon cruise through the Coronado Cays or $99 for a sunset cruise, these cruises include appetizers or chocolate covered strawberries and a beautiful Italian serenade. Feel free to bring your own wine or champagne for a sunset toast. For more information be sure to visit

2) Surf Lessons-
Anywhere along the coast you can be sure to find a surf school that fits your needs, from Mission Beach to Oceanside surf schools are in abundance with instructors eager to teach you how to ride the curl. So many San Diegans make this a life goal but find a hard time making it a priority. Now that the tourists are gone it is a perfect time to accomplish something new, go on learn to surf (while the water is still warm). Just google San Diego surf lessons and you can pick a company that fits your learning style best, from private lessons to group lessons, San Diego surf lessons offer everything under the sun.

3) Kayak and Bike Tours-
San Diego Bike and Kayak Tours offers great outdoor adventure packages here in your own backyard. You can choose to kayak the Seven Caves in LaJolla or bike the LaJolla Freefall down the backstreets of Mount Soledad. Check out for a full list of all tour offerings, rentals, and discounts.

Well San Diego, if that doesn't get you motivated I don't know what will. Perfect weather and numerous adventures, get out and enjoy the weather. If you would like additional Daycation options in San Diego be sure to contact

In addition: Mark you calendars for two events coming to San Diego in November

November 1, 2009 Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Oceanside, CA at the San Luis Rey Mission from 9-4pm, $5 gets you in to enjoy all of the entertainment including mariachi bands and Aztec dancers (find out more at

November 18-22, 2009 is the San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival, this event will feature hundreds of local restaurants and caterers along with hundreds of national and international wineries and wine makers. Events include VIP parties, cooking classes, barrel tastings, and the Grand Tasting event on Saturday the 21st. For more information and to purchase tickets be sure to visit

Vacation Destination of the Month- October 2009

The destination of the month for October 2009 is Maine. Trees changing colors and gourmet food make Maine the perfect fall destination. October brings cool and pleasant weather to the North East of the United States. Unless someone has traveled to Maine they usually do not know how wonderful the dining experiences can be in Portland, Maine. My husband and I had one of the best meals we have EVER eaten at a small restaurant in Portland called Vignola (check out We started with a wine flight and cheese platter from their immense selection of international cheeses. After the cheese we moved on to a delightful heirloom tomato salad (all locally grown of course) and then on to the main courses which are rotating based on the freshest local produce and an seasonal selections by the chef. To top it off we enjoyed a warm apple crisp with a rich Hungarian dessert wine. Overall an amazing dining experience that we would recommend to anyone searching for dining excellence. Just remember that everything in Portland closes early so make sure to get seated and order before 9:30pm. If you are in a pinch Sebago is one of the only places in downtown Portland that is open "late night" and they serve a large selection of food including a great lobster quesadilla.

For accommodations in Portland, I recommend the Pomegranate Inn, a member of the Select Registry of distinguished inns of North America. This bed and breakfast is quaint and very well decorated, each room is themed and features eclectic furnishings and brightly colored murals or wall paper in every room. The Pomegranate Inn is very cozy with only eight rooms so make sure to reserve early at where you can choose your room or suite and add on packages such as cheese plates, chocolate covered strawberries, and champagne. As if the rooms and rates were not good enough, the Inn features a gourmet breakfast for every guest of the inn with such delicacies as vegetable frittata, huevos rancheros and banana bread french toast (so yummy!). In the afternoon the inn features Intermezzo, an opportunity to meet other guests in the inn and enjoy appetizers and wine. Overall the Pomegranate Inn is a wonderful place to stay, centrally located with friendly staff and everything a tourist in Portland Maine would need.

Driving around Maine, either to the north or south of Portland you will find delightful towns with galleries, antique shops and restaurants galore. If you make it up to Camden be sure to enjoy clam chowder at Cappy's Chowder house.

If you have a few extra days be sure to book a trip on the Timberwind sailing out of the small harbor of Rockport, just south of Camden. The Schooner Timberwind is an all wooden sailing vessel built in 1931 that is now being used to give tourists and Mainers alike the experience of a lifetime. Sails range from 3-6 days so there is a schedule to fit everyone's needs. The crew is delightful and courteous, not to mention amazing at cooking on a wood burning stove, and Captain Bob is full of great stories. This is an authentic Maine excursion that should not be missed and of course it includes a true to form Maine lobster bake. Be sure to check out for the schedule and you will be booking with Becky another great staff member of the Timberwind who can answer all of your questions.

Maine has so much to offer and this blog explains just a bit of what there is to explore. If you have other Maine experiences and recommendations we would love to hear about your experiences. Please let us know what else you think should not be missed in Maine.

If you would like help booking your trip to Maine or organizing your itinerary for a trip that you have already booked please contact BellaMar Concierge, Inc. at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why do I need a Concierge?- Reason #2 Wedding Planning

The most common comment I receive from prospective clients is- "I know what a hotel concierge is, but what exactly do you do?" This blog segment will help answer that questions. This month, September, I would like to highlight my wedding planning services.
BellaMar Concierge, Inc. acts similar to any other wedding planner, helping you organize your wedding ahead of time, but we also specialize in "day of wedding hosting." BellaMar believes that your wedding day should be wonderful, memorable, but most importantly stress free. Allow us to help coordinate and facilitate your wedding so you don't have anything to worry about. We specialize in unique venues, including destination weddings all over the world, creative photography and catering, and most importantly creating a STRESS FREE wedding. During the planning stage and especially on your wedding day we are at YOUR service.
One of our specialty services is Charter Weddings by BellaMar Concierge, Inc., which offers a unique opportunity for brides that are planning small and intimate weddings (groups of 50 or less). You can charter a private yacht, the Azure Seas, out of the Oceanside Harbor, and enjoy a top quality team of wedding caterers, florists, photographers, and a plethora of other services all at your finger tips, no more hunting for just the right someone we bring that someone to you. Our chefs will work with you to create a custom menu that meets your needs and desires, our florists will beautify your day, and our photographers will capture every memory to make your wedding day last a lifetime.
Charter Weddings will also host your engagement party, wedding shower, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and rehursal dinners for those extra special wedding guests. Allow us to create a memorable and stress free wedding experience for you and your loved ones. Please contact BellaMar Concierge, Inc. at for more information on wedding planning.
The Azure Seas is also available for birthday parties, private dinner parties, and even anniversary parties. Contact us for more information.

San Diego Daycation- September 2009

When the summer has come to a close San Diego has SO much to offer its locals. Make sure you get out and enjoy San Diego this September. Usually I highlight one fun location each month but I cannot pass up highlighting both a location and an upcoming event this month.
September 13-18 is San Diego Restaurant Week so grab your family, friends and co-workers and experience incredible cuisine at 180 local restaurants across San Diego for only $20, $30 or $40 per person. Just browse the list of restaurants and menus, make your reservations and enjoy! Start your search at! This event will give you and your friends the opportunity to experience all of the new, the authentic, and the classic in San Diego dining. From Oceanside's newest restaurant 333 Pacific to the classic Bertrand at Mister A's you will be able to enjoy every restaurant you have had on your list for a great price.
Once you experience San Diego Restaurant week please make sure to come back and let us know how much you enjoyed your dining experience and where you dined and what you would and would not recommend. We appreciate your feedback.
This month's Daycation location is The Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas, CA. This year the Gardens are celebrating their 10th year, if you have never experience the gardens there couldn't be a better time. Quail Gardens is a 30-acre private estate that specializes in everything from local California native plants to rare tropical bamboo forests. This summer the gardens just opened their newly renovated Children's Garden which includes a state of the art "Jungle" gym for the little ones to explore. The Quail Botanical Gardens are open from 9-5 daily and admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children. If you are interested in learning more about the gardens or supporting the gardens you can attend their upcoming Gala on September 12th. Additionally, in October the Quail Gardens will host two very special shows, the Orchid Fare and the Fall Plant Sale. The gardens are always hosting unique events and classes so be sure to check in on their website regularly to stay up to date with what is "growing on" at the Quail Botanical Gardens, Finally, the gardens are available for weddings, if you are interested in planning a wedding at the Quail Botanical Gardens please contact an event planner at BellaMar Concierge, Inc. at

Vacation Destination of the Month- September 2009

The vacation destination for the month of September is Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Canada has so much to offer and beautiful Vancouver Island specializes in unique experiences. Just outside of Victoria you can enjoy the beautiful Butchart Gardens a beautiful botanical garden that has been in bloom for over 100 years. The garden grounds are rich in seasonal floral and plant displays, something new and different for each season. The admission price to the gardens is $28 in the summer and it is worth every dollar, this really is a must see! While at the Butchart Gardens be sure to enjoy dinner or late afternoon tea at the Dining Room Restaurant. For complete information please visit
In addition to the gardens, just outside Victoria you can enjoy a very creative wine tasting experience. When visiting Victoria's wine country be sure to visit Cherry Point Vineyard owned and operate by the Cowichan Indian tribe, they specialize in highly popular white and red blends. For a fruitful wine tasting experience don't miss Marley Farms, a family owned and operated winery making the typical grape based wines but also specializing in fruit and even flower based wines, including elderberry, raspberry, and rastaberry (a customized blend of different berries). The Merridale Estate Cidery makes wonderful ciders ranging from typical European style ciders to a warm and rich Warm Apple Cider that is perfect for the holiday season. For a full list of Vancouver island wineries please explore
If you and your travel companion are ready for some adventures by car you cannot miss Nanaimo, home of the Dinghy Dock Pub located on Protection Island, you can only get to the pub via the "Protection Island Ferry" a rather unique ferry that is never early but always on time, so make sure not to miss the boat. For more information on Nanaimo and Dinghy Dock Pub you can visit and
Another great city on Vancouver Island is Tofino, it is quite a drive (about a 1/2 day) from Victoria but it is worth every minute. Tofino is a small town with wonderful art galleries and great whale watching. For a romantic dinner on the waterfront make a reservation at the Wickanninish Restaurant, after dinner be sure to explore the deserted beaches of Tofino just below the dining room. For restaurant information and reservations please see For all things Tofino you can visit
Vancouver Island has so much to offer and this is just the beginning. If you are interested in exploring ALL that Vancouver Island and British Columbia have to offer please contact BellaMar Concierge for itinerary planning services at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why do I need a concierge? Reason #1- Personal Organizing

Why do I need a concierge?

This is a key question that you must answer for yourself before you hire a concierge. However, most people don't exactly know what a personal concierge is. How can you know if you need one if you don't know exactly what a concierge is and can do for you?

Many people are familiar with a hotel concierge but a private or personal concierge is so much more. I offer the same services that you would receive from a hotel concierge but BellaMar Concierge's services don't end there.

This month I would like to highlight one of our many services: Personal Organizing

San Diego is filled with busy professionals like you. Sometimes there is just not enough time in the day to accomplish everything on your to-do-list. BellaMar Concierge, Inc. can help you organize your schedule, your home, and your office so you can be more productive and efficient. These photos prove that BellaMar Concierge can organize ANYTHING!

BellaMar Concierge's Personal Organizer services include, but are not limited to:

  • Organization consulting services
    • How to get organized and stay organized
  • Office organization consultations
    • We will work with you to organize your office and give you the tools to stay organized
      • Clutter Removal
      • Filing system development
      • Schedule organization and prioritization
    • Home organization consultations
      • Specializing in photo archive organization & digitization
        • Shutterfly, Snapfish, Costco photo album organization
        • Creation of digital scrapbooks or photobooks
      • We can work with you to organize the problem areas of your home
      • Kitchen
      • Master Bedroom
      • Kids Bedroom or playroom
      • Living area
      • Garage or attic
      • Bathrooms
      • Laundry room
      • Closets
BellaMar Concierge also specializes in helping clients with hoarding disorders. Please check out our website for more information on our personal organizing services and other services offered to our valued clients.

Thank you and happy organizing!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vacation Destination of the Month- August 2009

The vacation destination of the month for August is the Big Sur area of Central California. I recently spent 10 days in central California. After seeing the breathtaking coastal views and exciting tourist attractions I couldn't believe I haven't spent more time in Big Sur. This area of California really has something for everyone!

Accommodations range from beautiful inns along side the water to spectacular ocean front campgrounds perched high up on cliffs above the Pacific. While in Big Sur we camped at the Andrew Molera Campground just south of Carmel and we camped at the Kirk Creek Campground more centrally located between Hearst Castle and Carmel. If you are not much for camping, Ragged Point and Gorda, within Big Sur, both have cute inns that are overlooking the ocean from cliffs high above.

From these inns or campsites there is so much open land to be explored. "Day Hikes Around Big Sur," a book written by Robert Stone, highlights 80 hikes in this area. For my first hike in probably 5 years my husband decided that 10.5 miles round trip was about the right length! We hiked from Kirk Creek to Vicente Flat, a long, but beautiful hike with ever changing landscapes that capture everything from low lying desert vegetation to beautiful Redwood forests. Another great hike is Salmon Creek Falls. You can reach the first waterfall in about 10 minutes and the pools, large boulders and sound of the rushing waterfall make this a great stop right off of Highway 1. For more ideas on hikes throughout Big Sur you can visit:

After a long day of hiking who wants to cook at their campsite? If you lack motivation to eat peanut butter and jelly or something wrapped in tin foil and cooked on an open flame, may I recommend two great restaurants with breathtaking views. Rocky Point Restaurant, located on the north end of Big Sur serves up soup and sandwiches for lunch and a gourmet menu of items for dinner. The food is tasty but the best feature of the restaurant is the view. The restaurant is perched atop a rocky point overlooking the Pacific ocean with a view to the south for miles (if you catch a day without fog), also be on the lookout for otters in the ocean below. Ragged Point Restaurant and Inn is located at the southern end of Big Sur serving up great sea food and extra large burgers! Be sure to leave enough time to explore their windy and very steep trail down the adjacent cliff to the private beach far below. A specialty of both restaurants is exquisite outdoor dining on their open patios. Be sure to get there early so you can enjoy the sunset before returning to camp (or the comfort of your mattress).

Tourist attractions and scenic overlooks can be found all along Highway 1 in Big Sur. Starting at the south end of Big Sur just above Cambria you will find Hearst Castle in San Simeon. An amazing display of the limitless possibilities of architecture and team work. This historic California State Park offers 5 tours and features an IMAX film to inform visitors of the history and hard work that surrounds Hearst Castle. Be sure to plan enough time to do at least one tour and see the IMAX film if it is your first visit to the Castle.

Just 7 miles north of San Simeon you will find one of the most amazing wildlife refuges in California, the home of the Northern Elephant Seals. The males use this area for molting and sparring before they actually begin to fight for females during mating season. While I was there a docent shared with me that the male Elephant Seals will spar with other adolescents from birth until they are 10 years old, when they will finally fight each other for mates. The guttural sounds made by these giant creatures is disconcerting but fascinating. When a docent is present you can get up close and personal with these beasts (males can grow up to 16 feet long, weighing more than 5,000 pounds.) This is a must see for everyone. To find out more information about the Northern Elephant Seal and the work being done to preserve this amazing species please visit:

To the north of Big Sur you will reach Monterey, probably most famous for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and for good reason! The Monterey Bay Aquarium is celebrating 25 years of Ocean Conservation this year. The exhibits at the aquarium are overwhelming. The Jellyfish exhibit is always a favorite (as I remember seeing it when I was just 7 years old) and right now they have a special exhibit featuring Sea Horses and Sea Dragons, unbelievably tiny yet detailed creatures that you won't be able to forget. The aquarium caters toward children giving them plenty of places to play and enjoy themselves. You can visit: to find out more about their schedule, ticket prices, and conservation work.

This is only the beginning of the adventures you can have in Big Sur. From accommodations to food to outdoor activities to tourist attractions there really is something for everyone. Whether you are traveling as a family with small children or teenagers or enjoying the fruits of retirement or a well deserved vacation, Big Sur should definitely be on your list for adventure and beauty!

Your Own Backyard- California Surf Museum

August is a great month here in San Diego! The weather is beautiful and the tourists will slowly begin to make their exodus. Us locals will soon enjoy the best part of the year with open beaches and beautiful sunsets!

This month may I recommend the California Surf Museum in Oceanside. The newly remodeled space is a beautiful place to learn about and appreciate California's surf heritage. The new museum location opened in February 2009 and has been hosting special events for members and guests. You can check out their calendar of upcoming events at:

If you can't make it to one of the events be sure to check out the exhibits featured at the museum. Its a great stop after a long day at the beach or if you need a break from the sun. Their current exhibits include: "Surfing 100 years" and "Sidewalk Surfers" celebrating the ever growing skate industry by highlighting a historic look at the roots of skateboarding. If you have a teenager interested in skateboarding this would be an excellent way to get them into the museum. See more details hours, admission costs, and location below.

For a fun filled evening with the family or a date night may I recommend Downtown Oceanside on Thursday evenings this summer. The Sunset Market at Pier View Way and Tremont Ave is just outside the doors of the museum. You and your family or "date" can explore the surf museum and enjoy the entertainment, fresh produce, fresh flowers, interactive kids area, and works from artisans from all over the world. The market is open on Thursdays from 5-9pm from April-December and 4-8pm from January to March. For more information on the market check out

Once you have had your fill of exploration be sure the check out some of the great restaurants that have popped up in Downtown Oceanside in the last few years. For families with kids you can take a trip out the Pier to Ruby's or enjoy quick and delicious Mexican food from Johnny Manana's right on Mission Ave. If you are looking for a more romantic dinner and nightcap there are three great choices right in downtown.

For sushi, fresh fish, and sake based cocktails check out Harney Sushi at 301 Mission Avenue. For steaks, great salads, and an unbelievable collection of vodkas make sure to visit Oceanside's newest restaurant 333 Pacific owned by the Cohn Family Restaurant Group. This restaurant is convienietly located at 333 N. Pacific right across from the Oceanside Pier. For great italian food with a cozy but classy ambiance be sure to visit the Vigilucci's Osteria located at 608 Mission Avenue.

If you live in the Southern San Diego County make sure to make Oceanside your next "daycation" location. If you live in North San Diego County, there is no excuse, Oceanside is right in your own backyard. So get out and enjoy the weather, the food and the exhibits. See you there!

California Surf Museum
312 Pier View Way
Oceanside, CA 92054
(760) 721-6876

Adults $3
Students/Seniors/Military $1
Children under 12- Free
Free on Thursdays

Open daily 10am-4pm
Thursdays open until 8pm

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

San Diego- Go on vacation in your own backyard!

If you live in San Diego, don't forget you can go on vacation in your own backyard!

Many people travel thousands of miles to make San Diego their vacation destination. Only a select few of us are lucky enough to call it home!

This month's San Diego highlight is the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park. With parks in San Diego and Escondido, one of the Zoo's parks is basically in your own backyard. This summer brings some exciting events and exhibits to the San Diego Zoo that you won't want to miss. Whether you are interested in a exciting day with the kids or a romantic evening stroll with that special someone the Zoo is full of options.

The San Diego Zoo has opened their newest exhibit, Elephant Odyssey. Zookeepers, members, and visitors alike are all very excited about the wide open exhibit for the elephants. The exhibit allows visitors to see the elephants in a more open and natural environment. Make sure to visit for more information.

With summertime comes the ever exciting "Nighttime Zoo," where the San Diego Zoo is open from 9am to 9pm until September 7th. This exciting nighttime experience includes bands and special shows that are sure to thrill the whole family, or make an exciting date night, quick call the babysitter. To find out all of the details be sure to visit

The San Diego Zoo is not the only place with new and exciting activities. Check out the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park for the new "Flightline" experience, a zip line that will take you soaring over the Wild Animal Park. "Soar from a ridgetop along a cable as you glide approximately 2/3 of a mile over exotic animals and open exhibits, the picturesque San Pasqual Valley unfolding before you." The reservations for this exiting new experience are available online at Don't forget the most important part, your ticket purchase to the Flightline sponsors the conservation efforts of the California Condor.

Last but not least the Dino Mountain exhibit is at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park until September 7, 2009. This exhibit is an exiting look at the dinosuars, sure to be loved by children of all ages. Make sure to get your Dino Mountain passport and collect all 13 Dino Stamps. For more information visit

Best value tickets and membership options are available now on the San Diego Zoo's website This website makes ticket purchase a breeze and there is no waiting in line when you get to the park.

Let's go San Diego!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vacation Destination of the Month- July 2009

This month's BellaMar Concierge, Inc. vacation destination is the Dominican Republic.

There are two major resort areas within the Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata and Punta Cana, they offer all of the amenities expected from a resort destination. Best of all, both areas are easily accessible with airports just outside of town, and can be reached from most major airports in the United States.

If you are looking to lounge on beautiful beaches the Dominican Republic is right for you. Many resorts offer all inclusive services, which not only include food and beverage, but also include non-motorized water toys like kayaks and sail boats. They have great restaurants, shopping and spas with oceanfront massage palapas.

For the more adventurous at heart the options are endless. Scuba diving, deep sea fishing, hiking, 4x4 tours, sunset cruises, and many other spectacular tours.

My personal favorite is the 27 Waterfalls Tour just outside of Puerto Plata. The tour begins by meeting your personal local guide and don your helmet and life jacket at the "27 Charcos Visitor Center." From the visitor's center you will cross a wide river and begin a rigorous 90 minute hike up a mountain and into the jungle. You know you have reached the river when you hear the roaring waterfall "number 27" and will soon see it on your left. During the next two hours you will spend your time jumping from rocks (up to 25' in height) into crystal clear pools surrounded by sandstone walls. If you are not interested in jumping from all 27 waterfalls you do the shorter tour first 7 waterfalls, which will still give you great exposure to the beautiful area.

A few recommendations:
-Get to the visitor's center early, we arrived at 7am and were the first couple on the hike
-Bring cash, the cost is about $8 for 1-7 waterfalls or $14 for 1-27 waterfalls
-Plan on wearing tennis shoes or tight fitting water socks, Crocs and flip-flops will not work on this tour
-Bring a waterproof camera, there is NO way you will not get wet, in some cases the only way down is to get in the water
-HAVE FUN! There is no other tour in the world like this!-For more information visit the website

For more information on travel to the Dominican Republic or for anywhere else in the world please visit our website at or email us at, Thanks and happy traveling