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While poor posture is long-proven to cause a litany of adverse medical issues, one less tangible yet critical aspect is often overlooked: our personal image. Just look around any public venue and you’ll notice that nearly everyone tends to slouch, making them far less alluring and seemingly less confident than if they were simply sitting up straight. Indeed, those with good posture exude a greater air of elegance, self-assurance, poise and, in a work environment, professionalism and a stronger presence overall.  With these and other benefits of maintaining good posture well in mind, Parisian clothing company UpCouture has developed the “Up T-Shirt”—a revolutionary, fashion-forward line of women’s and men’s posture stabilizing shirts that are as sophisticated as they are salutary.

As the world's first anti-slouching T-shirt, UpCouture’s innovative Up T-Shirt is a modern, chic and stylish improvement over posture-promoting garments of yore, including back braces, corsets, vests and other tops that marginally address society’s enduring droop. However, the Up T-Shirt takes posture apparel to a whole new level.

Thanks to a pioneering patented active mechanism, extra-thin elastic film built in-between organic cotton layers within the Up T-shirt comfortably and gently pushes and maintains the shoulders in a straight position. The effect is more aesthetically pleasing, making the wearer look more composed and even slimmer.

The Up T-Shirt is a marvel of ingenious action melded with modern textile technology and leading edge fashion practices. The extra-thin configuration of elastic bands that are sewn and bonded into the garment proffer the optimal level of pressure, which makes the t-shirt less comfortable to wear when slouching than when maintaining good posture. The shirt doesn’t actually force the wearer's posture into position, which would weaken his or her back muscles, but rather uses an optimal level of pressure to redirect the wearer’s shoulders into the right position when they leave their correct alignment. In addition, Up T-Shirts employ a particularly resilient and high quality form of elastic resistance that encourages better posture without degrading over time. And, the Up T-shirt gets even more comfortable as the posture improves. All of this as the rest of the ethically respectful and environment friendly t-shirt’s 92% organic cotton makeup ensures a soft and flexible fit. In fact, Up T-Shirts have earned a GOTS certificate ensuring ethical and organic production standards for the cotton, itself, are adhered to. As fashionable as they are functional, the Up T-Shirts are available in a range of styles and colors for both women and men.

The Up T-shirt line is the brainchild of lawyer Neda Naef, CEO of UpCouture, who was working most of the day at the computer and longed for a more empowering posture. Naef never had any back problems or pains, but was concerned about the non-aesthetic appearance caused by her slouching. Naef was a fitness enthusiast and in great physical shape, so she felt that if she herself had trouble maintaining good posture through the day, then a great number of other people probably have the problem. In fact, Naef noticed that bad posture was rampant throughout society.

“Whether people are sitting at the computer or using their handheld devices, standing at the bus stop, or simply moving through a day's routine, most have poor posture—some to an extent that seems debilitating and most certainly does not enhance their appeal or attractiveness.” Naef notes.

In attempting to solve the problem, Naef found devices that would either uncomfortably and inefficiently compress the torso, or just have no effect at all. She began studying the physiological mechanisms that promote optimal posture and, with that knowledge, she began a lengthy R&D process to facilitate those mechanisms through an elastic resistance, activated by the natural movement of one’s arms. Once perfected, the unique double-8 mechanism of elastic resistance she created was then merged with beautiful fashions that would resonate with today’s style savvy marketplace. The result is the ground-breaking Up T-Shirt line that has amassed devotees around the globe. In fact, UpCouture’s proprietary mechanism has been acknowledged as being completely new, having been accepted for international patent without any restriction.

"Rather than focusing on what are valid medical and health benefits of good posture, our goal is to offer beautiful, fashion-forward d garments that not only foster a feeling of wellness the entire length of time it’s worn, but also enhance the wearer’s presence, presentation and manner in a way no other piece of apparel can achieve. Back, neck and shoulder pain, or the lack thereof, aside, every adult needs to strive to maintain good posture. The Up T-Shirt is truly a unique fashion fix."

The t-shirt which loves you

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marileen"The Luxe List" Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.LuxeListReviews.com. Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

 

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Westin Kierland Resort Scottsdale

Of all of the cities in the U.S. operating under a duality, I find myself drawn back to one in particular time and time again: Scottsdale. Known as "The West's Most Western Town," this locale embraces its laid back desert ambiance while simultaneously styling itself as a contemporary destination with plenty to offer in terms of art, shopping, dining and nightlife. The city has undergone a renaissance in recent years, becoming well known as a "hip" spot akin to trendy areas like Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco, also establishing itself as a tourism hotbed in general. This due in large part to the good folks at the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau who do a masterful job showcasing the myriad of travel treasures this city has to offer.

The allure of Scottsdale is not surprising given the throngs of well-known restaurants, bars and nightclubs dotting the downtown area, with many catering to the style-minded millennial population. The city hosts many annual cultural events that are a draw unto themselves, like the Scottsdale International Film Festival, the Arabian Horse Show and the Barrett-Jackson Auto Show. A variety of locally-owned art galleries and studios grace the city, along with the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Scottsdale is also home to a bevy of chic boutique and world-renowned retail shops. I’m personally partial to Scottsdale's "Fashion Square," which is reputed to be one of the country's most profitable shopping malls, that’s replete with nationally known retail brands at every turn.

This municipal growth has also vitalized the city’s hotel industry, with Scottsdale boasting a multitude of luxury properties that personify the city's sundry sensibility. One such establishment is The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa situated right in the heart of the "new" Scottsdale.

Having stayed and played at this property, to me it exemplifies the dual nature of Scottsdale (and Arizona in general) in that it exudes a classic and quaint western charm in combination with the modern amenities expected of a contemporary luxury destination. This high caliber hospitality most certainly includes an elevated customer service standard, as I found the staff here to be decidedly knowledgeable and professional. Throughout my stay, their primary focus seemed to be how they can further enhance my experience as a guest—and for the other guests I observed. There was no query too large or small for them to answer, and the apparent combination of experience combined with a willingness to go above and beyond made for an atmosphere where guests not only felt welcome, but truly cared for.

Jennifer Franklin, Director of Communications for The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, also underscored how the resort is levering technology to further enhance the guest experience. “One example is that guests can use our texting program day or night to make a request or provide feedback during their stay. It is typically used for housekeeping requests, such as ordering additional towels for the room, or for in-room dining requests,” she said.

Relative to the guest rooms, the resort gives travelers plenty of options to assure a style of accommodations that suits their specific needs and budget. There are eight room/suite options available, each with its own flair. One decidedly popular and oft-requested midrange choice is the Deluxe Room—a 426 square foot space that is available with either two double beds or one King bed. To ensure guest comfort, it includes a luxurious leather chair with ottoman, desk area, large credenza, coffee maker, flat screen TV, bathroom boasting a separate tub and glass-enclosed shower, and a private balcony/terrace area providing a lovely view of the mountains or on-site golf course. For those with larger parties, one great option I personally enjoyed during my own visit is to reserve two Deluxe Rooms and connect them with a third Executive Parlor room, which adds a comfortable sitting area, large flat-screen TV, full bath, wet bar and Murphy bed to the mix.

Amenities-wise, the resort offers a depth of practical luxuries that characterize a convenience-centric guest experience: high-speed internet, smoke-free rooms, in-room dining, famed “Heavenly Beds,” comfortable linens, robes and bath towels and even an in-room movie/video game service. Health-minded guests make use of the resort's large and amply outfitted 24-hour fitness facility. It includes cutting-edge workout equipment and free weights for both cardio and strength training, along with specialized services designed to aid a fitness regime, such as the running concierge, nutritional assessments, fitness classes (including the hydra tone "aqua fitness" class), as well as a range of different yoga sessions. At this property, there’s simply no excuse to go completely off-road from your exercise routine.

Speaking of staying active, golf is one of the area’s most popular activities, and this resort offers guests a one-of-a-kind “Kierland Golf Experience” to make the most of it. This includes packages granting special access to the impeccably manicured golf course and to the latest and greatest gear available for guest use. They also put on daily golf clinics, and general instruction is provided by golf professionals. No matter your current skill level, there is something for everyone to learn by taking part in one of the resort's many golf tutoring sessions. There are even kid's classes for younger, aspiring golfers. In all, it’s an excellent way for the whole family to enjoy some together time outdoors on the gorgeous greens.

Indeed, this resort provides an overarching atmosphere of fun for all ages, creating opportunities for revelry along with a hearty dose of relaxation at the on-site Agave spa and adjacent pool facilities. I absolutely adored the "Tommy Bahama Relaxation Reef" experience. This exclusive island cove area of the 900-foot “lazy river” comes with several perks, including an assortment of plush lounge seating, umbrellas, coolers and a dedicated server for food and beverage service. There are also a variety of private, lavishly-appointed specialty cabanas available poolside to keep hotel guests cool and comfortable. Those feeling frolicsome can hit the property’s Adventure Water Park area complete with a 110-foot-long waterslide. Or, ride the waves at FlowRider, an adrenaline-pumping board sport simulator catering to both kids and adults.

Of course, no luxury resort location would be complete without fabulous in-house dining options, and there are no less than ten here. The Westin Kierland’s most notable, however, is "Deseo"—the signature hotel restaurant that brings a range of imaginative South American style cuisine to the fore (coupled with an incredible selection of South American wines, as exemplified by its distinguished inclusion in Wine Enthusiast magazine's “100 Best Wine Restaurants for 2015”). During my own visit to the energetic eatery, I marveled as the staff worked as a highly trained unit under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Chris Masco. Backed by 20 years of cooking experience, Chef Masco has studied and performed his art around the world and earned numerous distinctions for his skill in the kitchen. Today, diners are Deseo are the benefactors this tenure, which has manifested in a tantalizing, seasonally-driven menu that draws locals and hotel guests, alike.

The current iteration of the menu includes seafood sensations like Ceviche de Escalopes, a bright combination of diver scallop, the aromatic Mexican herb culantro, passion fruit leche de tigre marinade, pickled jalapeno and nitro popcorn. Another savory fish dish is Tiradito Nikkei, which features Hon Hamachi (the best quality yellowtail available in the world), truffled ponzu sauce, rocoto chile pearls, cilantro, avocado and nori seaweed.
For the carnivores, Deseo also presents a light Latin take on the traditional steak tartare with its Tartare de Carne—a pairing of thinly sliced Arizona Prime beef tenderloin, plantain, aji verde, limon confitado (preserved lemon) and chorizo en polvo (a powder of chorizo). My personal favorite menu item was the Wagyu Beef Empenada with spiced tomato sofrito, green apple salsa verde and huitlacoche “corn smut” (also referred to as the “Mexican truffle”).

Distinctive dining aside, Franklin pointed out another fun fact about resort: that it’s one of the few places in the United States where guests can watch and hear a bagpiper play at sunset each night. “Our bagpiper entertains our guests on our Dreamweavers Canyon overlooking the Acacia golf course each evening,” she said. “It’s a beautiful setting with beautiful views. Guests can relax there with a cocktail and listen to the bagpiper. It’s the perfect way to finish off the day.”

There are so many facets of this property, and the service proffered therein, it would be imprudent to detail them all. But, it’s this expansive range of features and options that makes the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa a premier, tried and true destination exemplifying all that today’s Scottsdale has to offer.

WESTIN KIERLAND RESORT & SPA

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150"The Luxe List" Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

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There’s nothing I love more than an immersive vacation experience—one that transports you to a time and place that connects you with the past in a palpable way while adhering to modern standards and expectations. This is what I encountered during my stay at the historic Napa River Inn in downtown Napa Valley. But, don’t let the quaintness of this locally-owned, antique-laden boutique hotel fool you. This property is downtown Napa's highest Michelin rated hotel, which also nailed a Four-Star rating in the 2015 Forbes Travel Guide.

With its plum location within the Historic Napa Mill situated right on the Napa River, guests of this waterfront hotel are in walking distance to a burgeoning urban renaissance scene replete with restaurants, shopping and, of course, wine tasting. Lots and lots of wine tasting.

Good things come in hotel packages
Given the property’s deep and rich past, with roots dating back to 1884 courtesy of Captain Albert Hatt, I felt it would be apropos for my stay at the property to embrace the spirt of history this hotel embodies.  To accomplish this I opted for the Inn’s “Wine Train” Package, which allowed me to explore a few of Napa's most historic features: The Napa River Inn and Napa Mill as well as the vintage Wine Train rail cars—some 100 years old.  This one-night package for two includes the perfect mix of activities for a fun-filled Napa getaway: luxury accommodations in a historically authentic setting, a gourmet in-room breakfast from the award-winning Sweetie Pies Bakery that’s adjacent to the property, two "Downtown Wine Tasting Cards" for 10-cent tastings at 12 Napa winery tasting rooms that are all within walking distance, complimentary bicycle rentals and a truly unforgettable gourmet lunch on the Napa Valley Wine Train.

Historic charm meets modern amenities
As was my explicit intention, my visit to the Napa River Inn was a true Victorian era throwback. From the moment I stepped into the quaint marble-laden lobby where to the time I spent in my “Historic Deluxe” room beautifully appointed with King canopy bed, fireplace and clawfoot slipper tub, I could vividly imagine the good times of yore this unique locale has hosted. There are only sixty-six guest rooms here that are spread out over three diverse buildings: the Plaza Building, the Embarcadero Building and the main building above the Inn's lobby.  As mentioned, I stayed in the Historic Deluxe room—one of eight of the oldest and most notable rooms that are all located within the main Hatt Building. This building began as a two-story structure with a U.S. government warehouse on the first floor and a roller skating rink on the second floor. The roller rink was quite popular for social events and was in use until 1930. However, while the exposed white rock maple tongue-and-groove plank hardwood floor of the skating rink exists even today, the modern incarnation of the Hatt Building is home to a group of elite hotel rooms, each boasting a King canopy bed, fireplace and slipper-backed tub as well as a separate walk-in shower and comfy sitting area with lounge chairs and a velvet ottoman that make these cozy yet elegant rooms an ideal retro retreat.

Amenities abound at the Napa River Inn. All rooms include a personalized California breakfast delivered daily to your room, evening wine tasting showcasing a featured winery, in-room gourmet coffee and tea with Keurig coffee makers, and a refrigerator with complimentary water and creamer. Enjoy a nice soak with a selection of "Napa Valley Spa" bath products and lounge in a plush terry robe. Down pillows, extra cotton blankets, non-allergenic pillows and individual climate-control systems make for a great night’s sleep.

Not only is every room stocked with top-quality linens and refreshments, but also has all the technology you would expect from a modern inn like a flat panel TV with pay-per-view and in-room check out; complimentary Wireless high-speed Internet access; two direct-dial telephones with voicemail and two-line data and voice ports; and a CD clock radio and MP3 player with iPod docking station. Guests enjoy a complimentary daily newspaper available Monday through Friday. Of course there is also the requisite iron, ironing board, hair dryer, nightlight and illuminated make-up mirror.

I spoke with Melodie Hilton, Director of Marketing and PR, about what makes the rooms and the Napa River Inn special. "We make sure our rooms have a blend of historic romance and modern day accoutrements to make our guests feel at home. Also, since Napa Valley is a romantic destination, we have a top concierge that can book the most romantic experiences in Napa Valley."

Package perfection
Speaking of romance, that brings me back to the hotel’s Wine Train package. After you’ve enjoyed a restful night at the Napa River Inn and your sumptuous breakfast-in-bed courtesy of Sweetie Pies Bakery—the smell of baking pastries from which deliciously permeates the property throughout the day and night—it’s time to take the hotel’s courtesy shuttle over to the Napa Valley Wine Train. There you’ll indulge in a 3-hour multi-course gourmet lunch aboard a gorgeous antique train that meanders through the Napa Valley countryside. The train’s expertly refurbished 1915-1917 Pullman Cars create an atmosphere conducive to relaxation and enjoyment. Meals, crafted by Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald, are freshly prepared on the train using environmentally responsible ingredients, humanely-raised, hormone-free meats and fresh, line-caught fish. The excursion begins with a welcome taste of wine to set just the right mood and prepare your palate for the epicurean delights ahead.

Once the train pulls back into the station and the Napa River Inn’s courtesy shuttle has whisked you back to the property, I highly recommend booking a service at The Spa at Napa River, which is known for using all organic, wild-harvested and hand-milled products crafted locally. Each treatment is signature and exists only at this spa location, and all are designed with a guest’s relaxation in mind. Also notable is that Inn guests enjoy discounted pricing. After the uber-romantic train ride, a couple’s massage is a fantastic finish to the day.

Eat, drink, shop and make merry
With its downtown riverfront location, the Napa River Inn provides stellar access to an array of activities. The mill may have been built in the 1800s, but today this waterfront space offers visitors a variety of dining, entertainment and shopping options including live music and microbrews at Silo's, art and theatre at the Riverbend Performance Plaza, sandwiches and pastries at Sweetie Pies, candy and confections at the Vintage Sweet Shoppe, and local artisan goods at Amelia's and the Napa General Store. Additional dining options include French cuisine at Angéle and global comfort food at Celadon.

When you’re ready for some wine tasting, grab the two "Downtown Wine Tasting Cards" that come with the Inn’s package and take a leisurely stroll to a dozen downtown wine tasting rooms that’ll ensure you’ve left no varietal stone unturned during your visit to the valley. Each tasting costs just ten cents, and some of the tasting rooms offer full, well-rounded flights of up to six different kinds of white, rose and red wines. These cards are a wonderful way to experience the diversity of wines that Napa is famous for.  And, with the Inn just a stone’s throw away, a designated driver need not be required (although the courtesy shuttle would be happy to pick you up). Of course, you can utilize the bicycles that also come with your package as well to jaunt around downtown if you prefer.

Preserving the past while thinking ahead
A more modern sensibility is the Napa River Inn’s concerted efforts to be eco-conscious. Hilton explains, "We are an important adaptive-use development for downtown Napa–an effort focused on saving and restoring buildings with historic significance. We maintain environmentally healthy practices, including key cards of wood instead of plastic, energy efficient lighting and strong recycling policies. The bricks of the Hatt building were made from the clay of the Napa River. We also provide free EV charging for our customers."

As my own stay drew to a close, I considered what Hilton indicated was her favorite aspect of the property: its dedication to the local community. The significance of this property and its preservation practices cannot be underestimated as, without the Napa River Inn’s dedication to upholding its rich and storied past, downtown Napa on the whole just wouldn’t’ be quite as remarkable.

The Napa River Inn

Photos Courtesy of Napa River Inn And Michelle Chaplow

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Merilee"The Luxe List" Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***