2016 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. Savannah Bee and Stonewall Kitchen also make fine gift baskets in a wide array of categories.

Godiva Gold Ballotin.
Godiva Gold Ballotin.

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.
If you want a healthier alternative for mom, Farmbox Direct (farmboxdirect.com) ships gift boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables.
There are more options than ever for buying stylish jewelry pieces without breaking the bank. Auburn Jewelry (auburn-jewelry.com) and Origami Owl (origamiowl.com) both make numerous pendants for under $100. Alice & Chains Jewelry (a humorous play on the ‘90s alternative rock band, Alice In Chains) sells more expensive necklaces and pendants including one of the silhouette of New York State in gold and diamonds that retails for $1,100 (aliceandchainsjewelry.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.

Timex Weekender Fairfield watch.
Timex Weekender Fairfield watch.

Watches 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.
Handbags are always popular. Vera Bradley is known for its lively cloth pocketbooks and weekend duffels. State Bags (statebags.com) makes inexpensive totes and duffel bags which are very functional for weekend getaways. Eric Javits manufactures clutches and wallets that range from $100-$300 and can be purchased at Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom’s, and Saks, as well as at ericjavits.com. Laudi Vidni (laudividni.com), which is the word individual spelled backwards, has cross body bags in the same price range as Eric Javits’ leather goods. Italian designer Pablo Baldini (pablobaldini.com) makes lively colored leather bags in the slightly higher $250-$400 ballpark while Jemma (jemmabag.com) makes more conservative handbags for around $350. If mom loves going to the beach, Paige Gamble (paigegamble.com) makes fun summery totes to take to the shore.

Dossage 8 For Her perfume.
Dossage 8 For Her perfume.

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.
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. Environ has a gift set in honor of its 25th anniversary (dermaconcepts.com) that includes masque, hydrating oils, eye gel, and hand cremes for $250. VENeffect , Cosmedicine, and Bliss World all makes anti-aging cremes and serums while CeraVe makes numerous hydrating cleansers and moisturizing lotions.

Mineral Fusion Peony lipstick.
Mineral Fusion Peony lipstick.

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.
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.

Crocs cobbler leather clog.
Crocs cobbler leather clog.

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.
Foot comfort is important around the house as well. Dear Foams (dearfoams.com), and Very Lovely Soles (verylovelysoles.com) both make quality inexpensive slippers. If you want to splurge, Minnie Rose (minnierose.com) makes cashmere slippers.
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 Choo and Fendi that run north of $300 to the surprisingly affordable Marc by Marc Jacobs in the $125 neighborhood to their OXYDO and Polaroid lines that run under $100. If you think mom would like the round rimless specs favored by most famously John Lennon and Meg Ryan, you should check out Silhouettes (silhouettes.com). Modasten’s stylish  Polarized Italian and 100% UV Italian Collection retail for around $100.

Scanpan Classic At Sur La Table.
Scanpan Classic Collection at Sur La Table.

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. Ryka is one of the few athletic shoe companies that makes running shoes and other types of sneakers exclusively for women. The Jibs Life (thejibslife.com) makes a comfortable slip-on for a stroll on the boardwalk.
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. She can protect her mobile devices and laptops with cases from Otter Box. Brush Cases makes artistic protective cases that includes the famous Rolling Stones lips logo.

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.

Hope Lake Lodge.
Hope Lake Lodge.

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.
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 as it is no longer in bankruptcy and it should offer excellent rates even in the upcoming high summer season.
For those who think mom would prefer the green grass of Northeast Pennsylvania to the Jersey Shore, the Mount Airy Casino is the Poconos is well worth a visit.

Turnberry Isle
Turnberry Isle

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 tennis is more of her game, the Boca Raton Resort is recommended.
An 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.

Hyatt Regency La Jolla.
Hyatt Regency La Jolla.

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 while the Hyatt Regency La Jolla offers easy access to many of San Diego’s best neighborhoods such as University Town Center. It’s top-floor concierge level is among the best that I have experienced.
San Diego’s best-known hotel is actually located just off of its coast on Coronado Island. The Hotel del Coronado was built in 1888 and is still going strong. It has kept up with the times however as it has not only a modern spa but offers spin, yoga, and other exercise classes on its beach.
Another good Southern California option is Palm Springs’ Triada Hotel whose bungalows and villas will make mom feel like an old-time movie star. Just down Highway 111 in the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs is the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage which has many fine dining establishments and whose spa boasts of something called the Desert Wildflower Poultice Massage.
Beverly Hills, as we’ve been reminded over the years through numerous films and television shows, is synonymous with wealth and good living. Hotels a the Peninsula, the Beverly Hilton, and the Montage all have restaurants and spas that are popular with the locals and offer them as parts of packages for visitors who stay at their respective properties.
Sedona, Arizona is about a two-hour drive north of the greater Phoenix area and it’s always about 20 degrees cooler which is helpful as we head into mid-spring. It has a vibrant arts community comprised of folks who were drawn to the town by the area’s beautiful red rock mountains. You won’t find big chain hotels here but rather luxurious boutique ones as L’Auberge  El Portal and Orchards Inn.
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.

Spirit of New York.
Spirit of New York.

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. For a listing of the best spa deals in the area, log onto spaweek.com.
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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