24 Hours in Nashville

Grand Ole Opry

We had a great 24 hours in Nashville earlier this month.  It was a quick trip – but we managed to do and see everything we wanted to in just one short day!

Where to Stay

The Hermitage Hotel – It’s the nicest hotel in Nashville, and also the priciest!  The hotel is in Downtown Nashville, a few blocks from the Ryman and honkeytonk row.  The rooms are a bit dated, but are elegant and classic in their design.  We had a great view towards the Bicentennial Capitol Mall.

Where to Eat

5th and Taylor

5th and Taylor – Located in a glamorously refurbished warehouse, 5th and Taylor is Nashville’s hottest restaurant.  It has great food, a romantic atmosphere, candles everywhere, modern art, and beautiful design. We love barrel ceilings!  This restaurant deserves a “Spaces We Love” article…

Photo Credit

What to Do

Draper James

Country Music – If there isn’t a great performance at the Ryman or Grand Ole Opry when you’re in town, not to worry!  Nashville has the best country music in the world – and you can hear it at all hours of the day on Broadway.  Our favorite country bar was Honkeytonk Central – the bands we heard were incredible!

Visit Franklin – We took a quick drive to Franklin (a half hour away from Downtown Nashville) and loved it.  It’s a cute little town without much to see other than cute shops, greenery, and quiet country roads.  We enjoyed The Iron Gate, Haven Sanctuary of Style, and White’s Mercantile.

Draper James & Sprinkles – Located next door to each other on 12th Avenue South, this is a fun quick trip from Downtown.  Draper James is adorable, and you can never go wrong with a cupcake from Sprinkles!

Country Music Hall of Fame / Hatch Show Print – The Country Music Hall of Fame is a beautiful building with lots to see and explore!  If you’re a country classics’ fan, this is a must do.  We also enjoyed visiting the Hatch Show Print Museum and Store.  It’s a great place for souvenirs too!

Frothy Monkey – Best coffee shop in Nashville, hands down.

Thanks for a fun trip, Nashville!

xo Star



What it Takes to Be the World’s Smartest Building

worlds-smartest-building-the-edge-amsterdam-sustainable-office-building

We often hear the phrases “smart cities” and “smart buildings” – but what do they really mean? And what does it take to be the smartest building in the world?

There is no one definition for what a city must have to be deemed “smart,” but it is widely accepted that a smart city is efficient with its transportation, energy, and waste management, and it is green and eco-friendly. Amsterdam has been named one of the world’s smartest cities, having implemented energy, mobility, and governance initiatives as well as the Amsterdam City Project devoted specifically to improving the city. It’s only fitting that Amsterdam is also home to the world’s smartest building. But first, what is a “smart building?”

Read more at hughesmarino.com!



Women and Money: The Real Reason We Don’t Want to Discuss Our Finances and How to Fix it

Star-Hughes-Gorup-Equal-Pay-Day

With Equal Pay Day 2016 approaching on April 12th, women and men around the world turn their attention to the pay gap between their earnings, specifically how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

As we draw awareness to such an important issue, I’d like to bring some attention to a disheartening figure by the 2015 Fidelity Investments Money FIT Women Study. According to this study, eighty percent of women confess that they have refrained from and feel uncomfortable with discussing their finances with those they are close to. Their parents, spouses, siblings, best friends, etc.

Eighty percent.

Read more at hughesmarino.com!



Spotlight on Alpha Project’s Alpha Square

Alpha-Square-Renderings-san-diego

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Bob McElroy and Amy Gonyeau of Alpha Project and touring Alpha Square, the organization’s beautiful new development in East Village. Alpha Square, located on the corner of 14th Street and Market Street, is a six-story building with 203 studio apartments for previously homeless and low-income individuals in Downtown San Diego. Each of these studio apartments is furnished with Internet, cable TV, and telephone services, and the building itself includes on-site amenities including case management, long-term treatment facilities, and even a pizza shop! The $46 million development was a collaborative effort by The Alpha Project, San Diego Housing Commission, City of San Diego, Civic San Diego, and Chelsea Investment Corporation.

Read more at hughesmarino.com!



Millennials & Nonprofits

Millennials-and-nonprofits

For the millennial generation, volunteering and donating to nonprofits are not just resumé-builders, they are a way of life. According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report published by Achieve and the Case Foundation, 87% of millennial employees donated to a nonprofit in 2013, and the same percentage of millennials enjoyed company-wide days of service to a nonprofit.

Read more at sharpheels.com!



Spaces We Love: Refinery29’s New York Office

refinery29-new-york-office-spaces-we-love

One of my millennial staple websites is Refinery29 – it’s colorful, fun, creative, inspiring, and full of all things travel, fashion, lifestyle, and entertainment. Naturally I was very curious about what a company like Refinery29 would create in the space that it calls home. Few things get me more excited than when a company’s office fully captures the essence of its brand – and Refinery29’s chic space in Manhattan is one that does exactly that.

Read more at hughesmarino.com!



24 Hours in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, just an hour and a half drive north of Los Angeles, is a picturesque beach town with incredible character, history, and old-world charm.  It is glamorous, quaint, classic, quirky, and everything in between…and did I mention beautiful?  Even though the city is just a few hours away from home, it took me twenty-five years to really experience it, and I am so glad that I did!

Getting There

Our weekend started with an easy train ride from San Diego to Santa Barbara – a 4-hour journey.  It was a stress-free way of traveling without worrying about traffic or weather.

Santa Barbara Train

Where to Stay

We stayed at The Four Seasons Resort at the Biltmore and loved it.  It is beautiful, grand, luxurious, and has an air of old-Hollywood charm about it.  It is across the street from Butterfly beach, and as such has incredible ocean views, with beautifully landscaped grounds.

Four Seasons Santa Barbara

If we were to do it over again, we would have preferred to stay at the Belmond El Encanto.  The Four Seasons is located on the south side of town, about a 15 minute drive away from the shopping streets, great restaurants, and main activities that Santa Barbara has to offer.  It is relaxing and pleasant in part because it feels a bit more isolated – but it is not quite as convenient when you don’t have a car!  Belmond El Encanto is a short walk away from shopping, restaurants, and the Santa Barbara Mission – but interesting enough feels much more remote given its location on the hill overlooking the city.  The hotel itself is “Spanish Colonial Revival meets Craftsman” – and is absolutely breathtaking.

Where to Eat

For breakfast, a trip to Backyard Bowls is a must.  Backyard Bowls is a healthy breakfast chain serving a variety of Acai and Pitaya bowls, and they do not disappoint!  The restaurant itself does not have the best ambiance – it reminds me of a Jamba Juice – but it is just a short walk away from the beach (and Stearns Wharf), a great place to take your food to go with a blanket for a picnic!  Another great breakfast spot is Belmond El Encanto.  Eat on the outdoor patio overlooking the coast for one of the most beautiful breakfasts in the city (photo below)!

El Encanto

For lunch, we thoroughly enjoyed Bella Vista at the Four Seasons.  It’s pricey – but a beautiful venue overlooking Butterfly Beach with a fantastic appetizer menu.  A must-try is the sweet potato fries – they were incredible!  C’est Cheese is another great lunch option.  Part cheese shop, part restaurant, you will find every type of comfort food here!  Be wary of the cheese and charcuterie platter though – we were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t pick which cheeses we wanted to try (their board is a pre-set board) when there were so many that looked delicious!

For dinner, we highly recommend Bouchon on West Victoria Street.  It’s a cozy, cute restaurant – and has been voted one of the most romantic restaurants in the country!  There are plenty of great menu options – from fish to steak to yummy salads.

No vacation review would be complete without a thorough directory of the city’s best sweets and treats!  If you are a coffee lover, then Handlebar Coffee is a must try.

McConnell’s Ice Cream is headquartered in Santa Barbara – and their ice cream shop on State Street does not disappoint!

McConnells

Ice Cream

Lastly, the Patisserie, also on State Street, is a gluten-free treat sanctuary.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of delicious options on display here – from gluten free cookie dough cheesecake to lemon bars and more!

Patisserie

What to Do

During our short time in Santa Barbara, we loved exploring the great shops and restaurants on State Street.  It’s a high-end shopping area with GREAT window shopping and is incredibly pedestrian-friendly!  We also loved the “Red Tile Walking Tour” (link here) as it gave us the opportunity to see some of Santa Barbara’s historically significant sites.  The Santa Barbara Mission is a must-see – and in large part because of the incredible views, walking paths, and trails surrounding it!  We enjoyed walking from State Street to the Mission and to Belmond El Encanto.  It was a challenging hike (largely uphill) but with gorgeous views and quiet streets.

Red Tile Walking Tour

If you are looking for souvenirs, check out the Santa Barbara Souvenir Company!  It’s a little way off the beaten path from the center of town – but well worth it for unique gifts, cards, ornaments, etc.

And last but not least, you cannot miss Butterfly Beach.  It is a beautiful snapshot of the California coast – and was the perfect way of ending our weekend trip in Santa Barbara.

Beach



Spaces We Love: TapHunter’s Swoon-Worthy San Diego HQ

taphunter-san-diego-office-headquarters

It is only fitting that TapHunter, one of San Diego’s most notable tech companies, has one of the coolest offices in the mecca for live-work-play, Downtown San Diego. TapHunter’s office is a modern, lofty, bright and creative collaboration hub for the company’s growing team of craft beer and coding enthusiasts. In the words of their leaders, “Our team is part hardworking beer connoisseurs, part innovative technologists and hard-core hunters that support local businesses and don’t settle for supporting common denominators and crappy ingredients.” Does it get much better than that?

Read more at hughesmarino.com!



Spaces We Love: Quicken Loans

quicken-loans-detroit-headquarters

When most people think of Quicken Loans, they think finance, mortgages, and credit scores. And if they tried to picture what Quicken Loans’ office space should look like, they probably think of traditional private offices, dropped ceilings, and building standard carpet.

Read more at hughesmarino.com!



Family Feud No More

star-hughes-gorup-tips-on-joining-family-business

Making Your Family Business Into a Competitive Advantage

I was a pretty good girl from the start. I got straight A’s in school. I went to bed early. I never went to a party or had a sip of alcohol. I refused to wear make-up until I was sixteen. My best friends were and still are my family, and there was no one else I would have rather spent time with growing up (that hasn’t changed either!)

Read more at hughesmarino.com!



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