2015 Mother’s Day Gift & Travel Guide

It is impossible to express one’s love for the woman who raised us and made us who were today through one day of recognition and a gift. Nonetheless we should all put a little thought into a thank you even though mom will probably say that it’s not necessary.
Woodside native Jim McCann started what has become the most famous name in the floral industry, 1800Flowers, in 1971. Back then the idea of purchasing floral arrangements through a toll-free phone call was revolutionary. Over the years, McCann has expanded his business to include all kinds of gift baskets. Nevertheless bouquets remain the company’s bread and butter business with their popular Fields of Europe, Tea Party, and Embrace flower packages running between $60-$70.
Harry & David’s is known for its sweet confection gift baskets but the company also has a fruit-of-the-month club where you can buy a membership for mom.
Chocolates may be caloric but they do contain anti-oxidants. Francois Payard, Ghirardelli, See’s, and Godiva all make premium chocolates in a variety of sizes and price points.

Jennifer Lopez in one of her Kohl's dresses.
Jennifer Lopez in one of her Kohl’s dresses.

Jennifer Lopez, Lauren Conrad, Kim Kardashian, and Kate Young are celebrities who have lent their names (all claim that they were in on the design process) to clothing and jewelry lines that are on sale at Kohl’s (Lopez and Conrad), K Mart, and Target, respectively.
Tamar Braxton, one of the singing Braxton sisters (the best known is Toni) launched her own line of dresses, pants, tops, tees, and shoes with her online clothing retail company, the Tamar Collection (tamarcollection.com).
There are more options than ever for buying stylish jewelry pieces without breaking the bank. Anny Stern, Freida Rothman, Lia Sophia, Forever Brilliant, Lulu Avenue, Suz Somersall, Satya Jewelry, Cynthia Rybakoff, Annachich Jewelry, Ann Taylor,  and Liliro all offer pendants, earrings, and bracelets for every budget. If you want to go online and see a wide array of higher-end jewelry pieces, log onto johnhardy.com
If you are going to buy mom jewelry, be sure to pick up a can of Colle, (colleproducts.com)  a cleaning mousse that keeps valuables from getting tarnished by age.
dwc4001cfaWatches are the most popular form of jewelry and the great news is that companies as Timex, Fossil, Dakota, and Long Island City’s own Armitron produce quality timepieces for under $75 that look as if they cost three times that amount. If you are willing to spend more to get a high quality timepiece, the House of Horology (www.hohwatches.com), founded by Forest Hills High School alum Lawrence Leyderman, has watches that rival Rolex and Tag Heuer but have a price that is not even half of those respected high-end brands but are every bit as good. Another high-end timepiece alternative are the collections from Bulova, a company which for years made its  headquarters in Woodside.

Edie Parker handbags
Edie Parker handbags

Handbags are always popular. Olivia & Joy and Edie Parker both make fine clutches, satchels and totes. Vera Bradley is known for its lively cloth pocketbooks and weekend duffels. Very few of us can afford a Rolls-Royce but the legendary British company makes a number of accessories including sleek leather travel bags. Tutilo, Big Buddha, a division of Steve Madden, and Mackage, a Montreal-based company that started in 1999, offer everything from clutches to cross-body handbags to totes.
There is no shortage of perfumes on the market but choosing the right one is not easy. Sephora has a gift box that the company smartly calls “Favorites” that contains perfumes from Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. Former Jackson Heights resident Tara Durkan started a fragrance company in L.A., Dossage, and Dossage 8 for Her is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Chanel No. 5.
If you have money to burn on perfume, a 100 ml bottle of Bond No. 9 NYC perfume retains in the $500-$600 range.
There was a time when one might feel self-conscious using any kind of skin care product. Not anymore. These days folks of all ages are using anti-wrinkle cremes and anti-aging serums.
There is no shortage of quality producers of these products and that has led to competitive pricing in a very upscale industry. Avon’s ANEW Ultimate Day Multi-Performance Cream, ANEW Ultimate Night Multi-Performance Cream, ANEW Ultimate Multi-Performance,  Eye System, Oil, DerMend Alpha+Beta Hydroxy Therapy Body Lotion, DerMend Alpha + Beta Hydroxy Therapy Cream, Molton Brown Hand Creams, Nerium Age-Defying Cream, and CeraVe Hydrating Lotion, and Violets Are Blue Skin Care are mouthfuls to say or write but they all correct a variety of dermatological problems.
For those who find comfort in the term “organic,” an Australian company, Nvey Eco, makes a full line of cosmetics free of any harmful chemicals.
Mineral Fusion is quietly rivaling Avon, Maybelline, and Estee Lauder as a full service manufacturer of beauty products as it makes its own line of lipsticks, eye shadow, mascara, moisturizers, body lotions, and shampoos.
Hair products are a tricky purchase because nearly everyone is particular about they want to use on or for their scalp. Conair, Drybar, and Rusk make hair dryer and curling irons that make hair look fuller as do shampoos as Grande Hair Nutra Peptide, Austin Kyle and Paul Brown. Wet Brush (thewetbrush.com) has all types of hair brushes to make one’s hair less unruly and they are generally in the $10-$20 bracket.
Eyelashes are getting almost as much attention these days as hair is in the beauty industry. Grande Lash and Palladio Beauty’s Lash Obsessed Mascara are sure to bring attention to mom’s eyes.
Summer is coming and that means so is sandals season. Ocean Minded and Havaianas both make sandals that can be worn as part of everyday fashion as well as on the beach. The same can be said for those durable clogs made by Crocs or the stylish, durable as well as American-made spa shoes produced by Oka-B. If mom wants stylish summer dress shoes check out the collection from designer Carolinna Espinosa.
The arrival of warmer days means that the sun is out for more hours and that its rays are quite direct. Coola, Kiss My Face, and Coppertone all make sunscreens with high SPF counts that maximize skin protection.
Sunglasses are also a must to prevent damage ocular damage. Safilo is the leader in the field of fashionable and functional eyewear as they have stylish frames in various price points from ritzy Jimmy Choos that run north of $450 to the surprisingly affordable Marc Jacobs in the $120 neighborhood to their OXYDO and Polaroid lines that run under $100. Safilo’s sister company, Smith Optics, has terrific shades that range from $70 to $210.
If your mother loves to be in the kitchen, Pottery Barn, Sur La Table and Crate & Barrel have every type of cookware imaginable. Kohl’s has exclusive deals with the Food Network and celebrity chef Bobby Flay. All of the aforementioned have a large inventory of art frames and trays and petri dishes in all shapes and sizes as well.
Staying in shape is important for everyone. Gaiam, US Polo Association, Everlast, and Ryka all make quality workout attire that is also very fashionable. Ryka is one of the few athletic shoe companies that makes running shoes and other types of sneakers exclusively for women. Its newest lines of athletic shoes are the Dynamic 2, Vida RZX, and the Devotion Plus.
f you still need more help in looking for a gift the by all means visit the websites of such online retailers as LXR & Company, Charming Charlie, Amazon, HSN, QVC, and Ideeli. You may find better selection and value at lesser known retail websites as bevivi.com, fresh.com, gardenapothecary.com,alekka.com, and calypsostbarth.com. Another valuable resource is to go through the members listing at accessoriescouncil.org.
A lot of older mothers are technophobes and know little or nothing about things that a lot of us take for granted such as the Internet and email. If you’re afraid that your mom would be intimidated by a desktop or laptop computer then start her off with an inexpensive tablet such as those from Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, or the Amazon Kindle Fire.
Every mother deserves pampering combined with a change of scenery. There are a number of spa resorts located within a three-hour drive of Queens. Nearby spa resorts are the Spa at Norwich Inn in Connecticut, and for those in a New York State of mind, the Emerson Spa near Woodstock and the Mohonk House in New Paltz.
The Hope Lake Lodge in the Finger Lakes town of Cortland has the Waterfalls Spa and it is located in the heart of New York State’s winery region. Nearly all of the wineries in the area are discounting their vino in May.

Kingsmill Resort.
Kingsmill Resort.

Williamsburg, Virginia is best known for trying to recreate the American Revolution colonial era but it is far more than that these days. The area is home to several wineries as well as Busch Gardens. Williamsburg’s Kingsmill Resort has plenty of good restaurants, a top-notch spa, and a golf course that is home to an annual May LPGA Tournament.
The success of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has forced both of Connecticut’s casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to offer better entertainment, restaurants and spas as well as deals on hotel rooms. Mohegan Sun has such fine dining establishments as Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, Ballo Italian Restaurant, and Todd English’s Tuscany. A less formal but just as much fun, if not more so restaurant at Mohegan Sun is Hash House A Go Go. If mom is a sports fan then try to catch a Connecticut Sun WNBA game at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
The same can be said for Atlantic City. While hipster types will want to flock to the Borgata my guess is that mom will feel more at home at the Trump Taj Mahal. The Taj may not have the bells and whistles of its newer rivals but it’s easier to navigate and has terrific amenities such as a rooftop indoor pool with an outdoor deck to catch rays on a warm day. And yes, it has a spa as well. Yes, there was a fear that the Taj would meet the same fate as the Trump Plaza, Showboat, Atlantic Club, and the Revel, but it appears to have staved off the worse and it should offer excellent rates even in the upcoming high summer season.
If you want to give mom a change of scenery a little farther away from these parts after Mother’s Day here are some ideas.
South Florida hotels are heading into their off-season. The Turnberry Isle in Aventura section of Miami-Dade County and the nearby Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Broward County both offer heavily discounted golf, spa, food and room packages compared with the December through early April peak season.
Of course when you think of South Florida you think about its gorgeous beaches. You couldn’t blame mom if she wanted to just wanted to relax on the sands of a luxury property. In the Palm Beach area, you can’t do better than the Eau Palm Beach which is located in the town of Manalapan and was previously the Ritz-Carlton. If mom is a golfer or wants to learn the game, the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens is the place to be. The PGA Resort is also known for its fine restaurants.
If mom wants to be treated like a queen in the heart of the Miami Beach action, she can choose between the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, and without argument the most famous hotel name in Miami Beach history, the Fontainebleau. If she wants to be in the heart of the action, the Dream South Beach is a boutique hotel that has gotten good notices.
Downtown Miami used to be quite run down. Things have changed so much that it’s now rivaling Miami Beach for leisure travelers. The Conrad, a Hilton property, is very luxurious yet very affordable as it’s now off-season.
Another alternative to staying in Miami Beach but still having easy access to it, is to try any of the fairly new resorts located five miles north on Collins Avenue in the city of Sunny Isles Beach. Not only is it quieter but it has a neighborhood feel with supermarkets, local stores, restaurants, and public transportation similar to that of Queens. The Aqualina Resort is a top-of-the-line property in Sunny Isles.
Orlando, located 200 miles north of Miami, is best known of course for its big theme parks. The Orlando Hyatt Regency has a spacious pool with a Caribbean-style motif and a highly rated Italian restaurant, the Fiorenzo Steakhouse.
Southern California is a great alternative to Florida and it’s generally not anywhere nearly as humid. The Hyatt Regency La Jolla and the 101 year-old Grande Colonial in the village of La Jolla are two of San Diego’s best hotels. The Grande Colonial offers breathtaking views of the sun setting over the Pacific.
Another good Southern California option is Palm Springs’ Triada Hotel whose bungalows and villas will make mom feel like an old-time movie star.
An even more famous desert town is Las Vegas, Nevada. The Linq has great room rates and it is the home of the town’s largest Ferris Wheel, the High Roller. If you are looking for a full-service resort hotel with fine dining and great house shows try the Wynn Las Vegas whose owner is the very hands-on Steve Wynn.
You can’t enjoy the beach or pool without having quality swimwear. Jantzen and Nautica are great for basic bathing suits but if you want mom to feel like a celebrity at the resort, Marie France van Dame and Sophia Graydon both sell high-end resort apparel and sleepwear as well.
The tradewinds that grace the United States Virgin Islands serve as a buffer against summer heat and humidity. The Caneel Bay Rosewood Resort, the Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort and the Westin St. John’s Resort offer have pristine sandy beaches and the sparkling blue water of the Caribbean Sea.
If you want to get the best bang for your buck for a vacation for mom, you can’t go wrong the Grand Palladium Resorts in Punta, Cana Dominican Republic. All meals and beverages are included in the price as is most of the other amenities. Vacations in the Dominican Republic are about half of the cost of neighboring Caribbean getaways. Just as it does with most warm weather spots in our hemisphere, Queens’ own JetBlue offers frequent service to Punta Cana from JFK.
Of course mom can have a lot of fun just staying in our area. The Spirit of New York which docks at Chelsea Piers has a three-hour dinner cruise and cabaret entertainment has made it a popular venue for celebrations of all kinds. World Yacht, located four blocks west of Times Square at Pier 81, also has brunch and dinner cruises. Hornblower has dinner cruises that leave from Pier 40 in SoHo.
The Big Apple has no shortage of spas to help mom unwind. Red Door and Oasis Day Spas offer everything from facials to massages at their various New York area locations. The Waldorf-Astoria Towers has the highly regarded Guerlain Spa while a relative newcomer to Manhattan, the Hyatt Times Square, is home to the Marilyn Monroe Spa. Breathe Easy Salt Therapy Wellness Centers offer spa comfort and will help mom inhale and exhale better.
The warmer weather makes it easier to get around and enjoy New York’s many attractions such as taking a boat ride around town on the Circle Line, going to the Empire State Building Observatory, and visiting our world famous museums as the Metropolitan, Modern Art (MoMA), Natural History, and the Guggenheim. Both CityPASS, and its chief competitor, New York Pass, sell booklets/cards that will allow mom and a guest access to all of the aforementioned for a price far less than paying for each attraction individually. The trick is that you have a limited amount of time, anywhere from three to nine days, once you get started.
Happy Mother’s Day to all!

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