Earlier this month I was lucky enough to travel to the USA as a finalist for the gia Retail Awards in Chicago. Without any expectations, I was absolutely blown away to be named as the Global Honoree for Excellence in Homewares Retailing amongst nominees from 29 other countries. To be recognised in the industry was completely humbling and has given me so much inspiration to come home and implement in the store.
Of course, I couldn't let the opportunity pass without adding on some extras and so my husband Speedy and I traveled to New York, Las Vegas and my personal highlight, Palm Springs before heading home.
I've had so many questions about our trip, so thought I'd put together my highlights for you!
Freehand Hotel New York - This hotel was located in Gramercy, which was the most perfect location. Our room had a super cool New York vibe with an original mural painted the wall, and we loved their amazing rooftop bar. The renowned 'Simon and the Whale Restaurant' was just downstairs and had loads of great events happening and the most delicious food!
Pier 17 Ice Skating - At the end of our first, most perfect day of exploring we stumbled across the Pier 17 rooftop ice skating rink. While I spent more time laughing at Speedy trying to skate than actually skating myself, it was super fun and a fitting end to a wonderful day.
Ice Hockey at Madison Square Garden - I think if you're going to the USA you absolutely must watch a live game of sport- it really doesn't matter what it is. The atmosphere was electric, the fans are crazy and passionate and it was super fun to pick a team and be a part of it all for a couple of hours!
Although I am not a fan of gambling or casinos, we had family to visit so Las Vegas was next on our list. It was such a spectacle, that I don't think anyone would have a bad time here! While it's famous for really one thing, here a couple of my 'must see' highlights for Vegas:
The Neon Sign Museum - We went on a night time tour here and it was seriously next level. It's basically a huge yard in the middle of the desert with hundreds of old neon signs from casinos and other businesses. I loved the changes in design dating back as early as 1930 - highly recommended!
Bellagio - The Bellagio mosaic tile floor would have to be one of the oldest images on my Pinterest account, and I FINALLY got to see it in real life. It has been the floor of my dreams and seeing it in the flesh seriously didn't disappoint! There is so much to do here, from shows, to concerts, the amazing Bellagio Fountain, 5 star restaurants and more - it's a must visit!
The Flamingo Hotel - I couldn't go past a visit to The Flamingo Hotel, with its mountain of pink glass and whimsical design. Drop in for a cocktail around the pool and take in the view!
7 Magic Mountains Art Installation - visiting this insanely amazing stone sculpture by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone just outside of Vegas was high on my list, and as soon as I saw it I knew we had to convince Orange 360 to recreate it here at home. Originally it was only supposed to be on exhibition for 2 years, but because of the huge success of the exhibition, special permission was granted to keep it open until 2021!
Palm Springs blew my mind, and was by far the highlight of my whole trip. Set in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California I fell head over heels in love with the nature, architecture and super cool Californian lifestyle.
Ace Hotel and Swim Club - We stayed at the Ace Hotel for our visit and it had an ultra cool mid-century vibe with plenty of character. I'd love to be back there right now actually!
Moorten Botanical Garden - If you're a plant lover like me, you would LOVE the Moorten gardens. There are over 2000 varieties of cacti and succulents and the whole setting is like a picture!
Joshua Tree National Park - You absolutely must plan a day trip to hike Joshua Tree National Park! It's about an hours drive from Palm Springs and is SO worth the trip, beautifully scenic and a great change of pace!
Modern Tour Palm Springs - This was HANDS DOWN the best thing we did on our trip. For a home-lover like me, going into private mid-century modern homes was a total buzz - we even toured the homes of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley!
Desert X - Before heading home we visited this amazing art installation in the Coachella Valley which was super bright and curious. A bit like Sculptures By The Sea, in the middle of the desert - well worth a look!