Amanda Arnold

Correspondent

  • Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Amanda Arnold is a Forbes Travel Guide correspondent based in Atlanta. Arnold likes to give readers the inside scoop about some of the world’s most gorgeous hotels and tastiest eateries. She has worked at Discovery Communications, where she edited and composed pieces for its many websites, including TLC.com, Discovery.com and Howstuffworks.com. When it comes to her own travels, she’s game for either outdoorsy excursions (kayaking in Grand Teton) or luxury boutique stays (in the French Riviera, please!) — or better yet, one trip that includes a little of both.

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  • On June 28, 2013
    Amanda Arnold answered the question: Amanda Arnold

    What are the five best Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo food experiences?

    Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo’s cuisine is truly delicious. Generally, you should steer toward the seafood dishes — after all, this is a seaside town — and be sure to devour all the chips, salsa and guacamole you can get your fingers on. But here are a few favorite dishes and drinks from the area:

    1. Pozole. In Mexico, this soup dish is traditionally eaten on Thursdays and includes pork and corn — but at La Casa Que Canta, it’s a seafood affair that you can order any day of the week. A waiter will bring you a bowl full of tasty wild shrimp, baby calamari and clams and then pour a hot, spicy broth over the seafood from a pitcher (adding a bit of zest to the food presentation). For a bit more spice, you can sprinkle on some Serrano peppers.

    2. Hibiscus water. Many of the hotels serve this refreshing beverage to incoming guests — perfect to cool you off on a hot Mexico day. The concoction involves hibiscus flowers fused with water and lime, which is steeped for three hours, strained and then mixed with sugar. Yum. 

    3. Mezcal. A cousin of tequila, this quintessentially Mexican distilled spirit — meant to be sipped from an attractive shot glass — has a lovely smoky flavor. At La Casa Que Canta, we were instructed to sip the mezcal, and then bite into an orange slice that had been dipped in sea salt — an altogether delicious combination. And the fried grasshoppers served alongside the mezcal turned out to be surpsingly complimentary — like beer with beer nuts.

    4. Chilaquiles. This popular Mexican breakfast dish involves warm fried tortillas drenched in either a spicy green or red sauce and topped with chopped onions, cheese and an egg (or two). It’s a hearty and decidedly Mexican way to begin your day.

    5. Mango … anything. Mango farms are scattered all around Zihuatanejo — as a result, the fruit simply tastes better here. At La Casa Que Canta, they might just leave one on a plate in your room during turndown. We advise you to dig in — ASAP. And at La Marea Restaurant at Viceroy Zihuatanejo, dessert includes a crispy mango cheesecake taco with a side of custard ice cream that's absolutely divine.

    6. Fresh seafood. Like we said, this is a coastal town, so local seafood is really the way to go wherever you eat. At Capella Ixtapa, for example, Las Rocas Seafood Market, a cliffside restaurant overlooking the ocean, offers local seafood caught that very day. You should definitely take advantage of the fresh deliciousness and the unparalleled views. 
  • On June 26, 2013
    Amanda Arnold answered the question: Amanda Arnold

    Where are the best places to stay in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo?

    Though Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa are just 10 minutes apart by car, they're actually very different. Ixtapa is much newer, an insulated area developed specifically to accommodate resorts and tourists — think one long road lined with large, luxury hotels offering sleek guest rooms and sweeping ocean views. Zihuatanejo is the Old Town — its boutique properties, marked by signature Mexican service and design, hug the coastline so tight they've practically become one with the natural surroundings. There are plenty of luxury hotels to choose from in either area, but here are five particularly appealing options:

    La Casa Que Canta. The name translates to “The House That Sings” — appropriate, since the spacious suites at this adobe hotel, which is built into a Zihuatanejo cliff, are always filled with the song of ocean waves crashing against the rocks below. There are no glass windows — just screened windows with indoor shutters that can be closed should you want to turn on the air conditioning. As a result, the space has a lovely indoor-outdoor feel. Many of the suites come with private lap pools and enormous terraces that overlook a picturesque view of the bay. Service is exceptionally warm and thoughtful — housekeeping leaves a lovely flower-petal design on your bed each night, and candles are lit in the bathroom and on your terrace. Perfect for a romantic getaway.  

    Casa del Arbol. This tiny boutique Zihuatanejo property — just up the road from La Casa Que Canta — has room for just 12 guests, so if you’re planning a trip with a large group of friends or family, you’ll have the entire place to yourselves. The property consists of one historic home converted into guest rooms and another unique open-air structure (reflective of the “treehouse” name) surrounded by fountains and tropical plants, with a veranda that stretches out to an infinity pool overlooking the bay, and bedrooms that feature quaint loft spaces and outdoor hammocks. Breakfast and an open bar are included in the room rate.

    Capella Ixtapa. While the structure is adobe, the general feel of this cliff-side, 59-room Ixtapa hotel is clean and contemporary. Infinity pools and restaurants serving amazing modern Mexican cuisine overlook a flawless view of the ocean. Sign up for the hotel’s tequila tasting or margarita making class, or grab a bike and go for a ride along Ixtapa’s bike path. Or better yet, sit in a cabana (they’re complimentary) and do absolutely nothing.

    Viceroy Zihuatanejo. If you’d like easy access to the beach in Zihuatanejo, select the Viceroy, which sits on Playa La Ropa, one of the prettiest and most popular beaches in the area. The grounds are much larger and flatter than the previously mentioned hotels (no quaint, cliff-side stairs to climb here), and there are even tennis courts. The hotel’s La Marea restaurant sits at the edge of the sand, with a lovely view of the beach and the water.

    Hotel Las Palmas. A bit more remote, this newly constructed Zihuatanejo hotel sits on a 9-mile stretch of mostly undeveloped beach facing a gorgeous rock formation on the horizon. The property was designed by the same architect who built the Viceroy and is constructed with local materials — adobe and Brazilwood among them. Suites — just 20 of them — have private beaches, plunge pools, terraces, hammocks and kitchens, depending on which one you choose. The outdoor space is particularly well designed, with narrow, blue-tiled pools in various shapes, rocked-lined walkways, paved areas with lounge chairs, and grassy patches with palm trees — more rock garden than pool area. 
  • On June 26, 2013
    Amanda Arnold answered the question: Amanda Arnold

    Where are the best places to stay in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo?

    Though Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa are just 10 minutes apart by car, they're actually very different. Ixtapa is much newer, an insulated area developed specifically to accommodate resorts and tourists — think one long road lined with large, luxury hotels offering sleek guest rooms and sweeping ocean views. Zihuatanejo is the Old Town — its boutique properties, marked by signature Mexican service and design, hug the coastline so tight they've practically become one with the natural surroundings. There are plenty of luxury hotels to choose from in either area, but here are five particularly appealing options:

    La Casa Que Canta. The name translates to “The House That Sings” — appropriate, since the spacious suites at this adobe hotel, which is built into a Zihuatanejo cliff, are always filled with the song of ocean waves crashing against the rocks below. There are no glass windows — just screened windows with indoor shutters that can be closed should you want to turn on the air conditioning. As a result, the space has a lovely indoor-outdoor feel. Many of the suites come with private lap pools and enormous terraces that overlook a picturesque view of the bay. Service is exceptionally warm and thoughtful — housekeeping leaves a lovely flower-petal design on your bed each night, and candles are lit in the bathroom and on your terrace. Perfect for a romantic getaway.  

    Casa del Arbol. This tiny boutique Zihuatanejo property — just up the road from Las Casa Que Canta — has room for just 12 guests, so if you’re planning a trip with a large group of friends or family, you’ll have the entire place to yourselves. The property consists of one historic home converted into guest rooms and another unique open-air structure (reflective of the “treehouse” name) surrounded by fountains and tropical plants, with a veranda that stretches out to an infinity pool overlooking the bay, and bedrooms that feature quaint loft spaces and outdoor hammocks. Breakfast and an open bar are included in the room rate.

    Capella Ixtapa. While the structure is adobe, the general feel of this cliff-side, 59-room Ixtapa hotel is clean and contemporary. Infinity pools and restaurants serving amazing modern Mexican cuisine overlook a flawless view of the ocean. Sign up for the hotel’s tequila tasting or margarita making class, or grab a bike and go for a ride along Ixtapa’s bike path. Or better yet, sit in a cabana (they’re complimentary) and do absolutely nothing.

    Viceroy Zihuatanejo. If you’d like easy access to the beach in Zihuatanejo, select the Viceroy, which sits on Playa La Ropa, one of the prettiest and most popular beaches in the area. The grounds are much larger and flatter than the previously mentioned hotels (no quaint, cliff-side stairs to climb here), and there are even tennis courts. The hotel’s La Marea restaurant sits at the edge of the sand, with a lovely view of the beach and the water.

    Hotel Las Palmas. A bit more remote, this newly constructed Zihuatanejo hotel sits on a 9-mile stretch of mostly undeveloped beach facing a gorgeous rock formation on the horizon. The property was designed by the same architect who built the Viceroy and is constructed with local materials — adobe and Brazilwood among them. Suites — just 20 of them — have private beaches, plunge pools, terraces, hammocks and kitchens, depending on which one you choose. The outdoor space is particularly well designed, with narrow, blue-tiled pools in various shapes, rocked-lined walkways, paved areas with lounge chairs, and grassy patches with palm trees — more rock garden than pool area. 
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    Hi Shawndra! Dahlonega is so cute — you'll love the downtown area. People gather...

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  • On June 13, 2013
    Amanda Arnold answered the question: Amanda Arnold

    What five things do we love most about Vdara Hotel & Spa?

    Suites at the Vdara include a kitchenette, which is nice for longer stays, and bathrooms are quite spacious with a separate shower and large deep-soaking tub. The huge windows in the guest rooms provide sweeping views of Las Vegas and the surrounding desert landscape — you’ll find yourself standing at the window for longer than usual simply taking in the view. And if the sun is too bright, blackout shades can be drawn via a handy central control panel. The design of the suites is sleek — boxy dark wood furnishings and white linens — which lends the space a clean and fresh look that's comforting to return to. The spa at this hotel is also well worth a visit — it calls itself boutique but hardly feels small, with a smoothie bar and salon next door, plenty of treatment rooms and relaxation spaces, and the option to enjoy a treatment in a spa cabana by the Vdara pool. My favorite thing about this hotel, though, is that it’s smoke- and gambling-free, with a focus on being green, so it feels like a healthy haven in the midst of the Las Vegas Strip.
  • On June 12, 2013
    Amanda Arnold answered the question: Amanda Arnold

    What are the best things to eat and drink at ARIA Resort & Casino?

    Believe it or not, the best thing I’ve eaten at ARIA Resort & Casino was a simple (and delectable) almond croissant from Jean Philippe Patisserie. This French bakery serves some seriously good eats, and you’re sure to be lured in by its oh-so pretty chocolates as well. If you’re in the mood for a drink, stop into cozy Javier’s for a hand shaken margarita made with premium tequila and fresh ingredients. They'll also supply you with complimentary chips and salsa. For a fish dinner, make a reservation at Michael Mina's American Fish and order up something wood-grilled, like trout or black cod. The restaurant uses the rustic cooking methods found along America’s waterways and serves regional dishes like shrimp and grits and shrimp gumbo — so go ahead and dig into United States heritage. If steak is your thing, nothing beats John Georges Steakhouse, whose premium meats are seasoned with Asian flavors and paired with delicious sauces. Trust us — there's more than enough good food to eat and love at ARIA. 
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