2.10.2016

marion [ maple grove baby + family photographer ]

Not too many moms can pull a session together in just 12 hours!  Marion's mommy contacted me on a Saturday night, and by late Sunday morning their session was already completed.  I had a last minute cancellation, so it was meant to be.  They were super easy and such a pleasure.  And Marion might just have the cutest face I have ever seen.  Big brother was full of personality and reminded me so much of my own boys!  Here's a little peek..... 




2.03.2016

hyatt ziva puerto vallarta..... my happy place

Sorry no cozy, cute newborns in this post.  But if you love sun, sand and gorgeous blue water, keep reading....



My husband and I have now traveled solo to Puerto Vallarta twice this year.  It is the perfect spot for a quick getaway.  Hop on the early morning, nonstop Sun Country flight, and you can be on the beach before noon.  Sound dreamy?!  Trust me it is.  Both trips we have chosen to stay at the Hyatt Ziva.  From the second I exited the cab on that first visit, I feel in love with this place.  I have had a lot of people ask me about it, so I thought why not give a little review?!

I have a hard time finding anything I do not like about this resort.  Every inch of the property is on the beach.  All guest rooms face the ocean.  The resort is all inclusive, but it sure doesn't feel like your typical all inclusive property.  It has just the right balance of quiet and fun.  I will kick off my review with the food, which is super important, in my opinion

*Restaurants*

There are quite a few dining options at the Ziva.  The buffet is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We ate there every morning and always found something yummy.  The options are pretty similar day-to-day, but there is a large enough variety, so you don't feel like you are eating the same things everyday.  We never had any issues with cold food or bugs, which is always a big plus.  Certain a la carte restaurants are open for lunch as well.  In addition, there is always a food cart serving up some kind of treat near the pool and beach--- tacos, burgers, nachos, etc.  And there is a coffee shop open 24 hours that is stocked with treats, baked goods, fresh fruit and pre-made sandwiches.


Now onto the a la carte restaurants.  There are 4 options on the property.  The dress code for all of them is super casual.  Basically you just can't wear wet clothes.  My husband appreciated not having to wear long pants and dress shoes.  Another super great thing is none of the restaurants require reservations.  Below is a quick overview: 

*Blaze*
Depending on the day, Blaze is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It is in the perfect spot, built into the cliff over looking the cove and the entire Ziva property.  They serve a variety of foods-- tacos, steak, lamb, salads.



*Pureza*
Open for dinner only and located smack dab on the beach on the opposite side of the cove from Blaze, Pureza offers an array of yummy Asian dishes.  It's the perfect spot to catch a lovely sunset.


*Casa Grande*
Casa Grande is the Mexican restaurant on the property.  On our first visit, our absolute favorite meal was here.  The tacos al pastor are soooooo yummy!  They are served as an appetizer.  We liked them so much, that our second visit we just ordered plate after plate and had that for dinner.  The service here was super slow.  It bothered a lot of guests who ended up leaving, but we were on vacation and didn't mind having to wait a little extra.  If we had the kids with us, it would have been a different story.


*Melanzane*
Melanzane is an Italian restaurant.  We really didn't eat here much, so I can't offer up too much.  And I realized I don't have a single photo.  When I am on the beach, I don't really crave Italian food.  But, there were always a lot of people eating there.  It is located just under the lobby, over looking the main pool and beach.  Our one experience there was for lunch on our final day.  We ordered wood fired pizzas and caprese salad.  Everything was wonderful!

*Rooms*

Okay now to the rooms.... A clean, comfortable room is an absolute must for me when traveling.  While we visit Mexico for the beach, what good is a vacation if you aren't able to relax and sleep well?  The rooms at the Ziva are simple, clean, modern and wonderful.  All of the linens are white-- no creepy, itchy comforters.  The beds are comfy, the air works amazingly well, the bathrooms are small but nice, and all rooms have wifi (we were able to get a great signal throughout the resort, even on the beach.).  The best part, though, is that every room has a view.  On our first visit, we stayed on the 7th floor (I think....).  The entire wall facing the ocean is windows.  It is amazing!!!  On our most recent trip, we were put in a ground level room.  While we didn't have the same amazing views, we could still see the ocean and were able to open the sliding doors and walk right out to the pools, beach, etc.  Here are some pics of the rooms (the first is of the view from the 7th floor room, and the second and third are of the ground-level view).....




*Beach, pools and facilities*

Where do I begin?!  The beach at the Ziva is perfect!  There are often large waves, so it's not the calm waters of Cancun and the Caribbean, but it is so pretty and PRIVATE!  There are no other resorts or properties that share the beach.  There are 4 pools, I believe.  We spent our time between the main pool and the activities/kids pool.  The main pool has a swim up bar and two levels.  All but one of the pools are infinity and right on the beach.  They seemed clean and in great shape.  One pool is adults only and another is tucked away and was rarely used.  We never had issues finding beach or pool chairs any time of day.  There was no getting up at the crack of dawn to reserve chairs, which I find incredibly annoying.

The resort itself is very pretty.  It is simple and tastefully decorated in neutral, calming tones.  You just feel relaxed at the Ziva.  I have traveled to a lot of properties, but the Ziva is definitely a special place.  It's hard to think about vacationing elsewhere.  The staff is lovely too.  I will admit that I am a pretty easy going traveler.  I realize I am in another country, so I know that things sometimes are a little slower and different from what I am used to.  That's all part of the experience.  Anway, here are some pics from around the resort (lobby, pools, beach)....



*Other*

A few other amenities the Ziva offers are a spa, gym, kids club and a few bars.  We didn't take full advantage of these, so I don't have a whole lot to say.  The night life here is quite mellow.  They have a small show every night, and then things die down pretty early.  That is fine with me, but I know a lot of guest head into Puerto Vallarta for a little more excitement.  The town is very cute and seems quite safe.  My husband used the gym and said it was nice.  The kids club is a little sad, and we never saw more than a few kids there.  The girls running it were very nice and enthusiastic, though.  As far as bars go, there are two pool bars, a beach bar, sports bar and another bar open just in the evenings on the lobby level.

So there you have it!  If you are considering Puerto Vallarta as a vacation spot, do it!  It's a beautiful, friendly place and has a more authentic Mexican feel than Cancun.  The Ziva is my top choice, but I think there are a lot of great options out there.  Feel free to message me any questions you might have.  We booked both vacations through Funjet, and traveled on Sun Country airlines.  We didn't have a single issue.

By the way, Funjet, Hyatt Ziva, Sun County do not know I exist.  This review is unbiased and based on my own personal travel experiences.  Enjoy!!!  Now where should we travel next????????







2.02.2016

ready for baby [ wayzata, mn maternty photographer ]

We couldn't have asked for a better evening!  The beautiful winter sun and mild temps made for a perfect session.  I am so excited to meet this sweet couple's little boy.  And seriously, how cute is their puppy?!  I wanted to sneak her in my camera bag!!










1.29.2016

freddie [ golden valley mn newborn photographer ]

This little guy was so much fun to photograph.  Freddie may have been just shy of 2 weeks old when I met with him, but he was full expressions.  He had me giggling through the whole session.  His parents and furry siblings were pretty great too!  Here is a little peek into his first official photo shoot....