Water Harmony

March 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Check out what’s new at Lake Austin Spa Resort

By Laurette Veres

Spending time in and on the water is essential to achieving elevated and sustained happiness according to Dr. Wallace J. Nichols’ Blue Mind Theory. This wellness philosophy flows through Lake Austin Spa Resort unblocking a dam of new programs and treatments, a river of opportunity for wellness seekers.

A misty Lake Austin and rolling hills

Lake Austin Spa is designed to make you feel like you are on water. From the reception area, dining room, tree house (seminar area) and work out room; it’s hard not to feel as though you are floating on Lake Austin. You can even float to the spa via water taxi.

It’s no accident a garden is the first thing you see as you enter the meticulously maintained grounds, herbs and vegetables are served daily in the dining room. The front garden contains a sugar kettle turned fountain from Louisiana, a nod to the heritage of one of the owners. As this garden reached capacity, a new garden was added. “It’s a gift to our guests,” says horticulturalist Molly Pikarsky. Her growing strategy uses organic fertilizer, targeted pest management and is pesticide free. Wildflowers lure the pollinators, native black bees. You’re also welcome to say hello to the snail and weed crew: a gaggle of ducks and Emden geese! Most of the vegetables served by Executive Chef Stephane Beaucamp are grown on-site. When food is healthy and fresh, you don’t need as much to be satisfied. Small portions are “the way you should eat,” points out Janis Clapoff, General Manger. Chef Beaucamp sources locally and considers the health benefits of every ingredient that comes out of his kitchen.

Along with good healthy food, guests find renewal and inspiration. Bluemersion is a program offered by Julie Haber, the Inspiration and Wellness Specialist along with Cindy Present, Fitness Director that has been added to the resort’s already robust and industry leading educational programming. This new three-hour personal journey takes place over Lake Austin in the boat dock. Come together for reflection, connection and spiritual nourishment. Your relationship with water, personal experiences, poetry, excerpts from the book “Blue Mind,” and an exploration of mindfulness are the focus.  

Suspended above the water, thought provoking conversations and writing exercises are gently lead by caring staff. The class continues with light yoga on paddleboards and finishes with a mindful-eating exercise led by Chef Beaucamp during a family-style lunch. These experts have created a transformative experience that provides take home tools to enhance mental, emotional and physical balance.

Just up the hill from the water is the world-class spa where every treatment has the same goals to enhance your life and health. “How well do you float?” asks Judy as I enter the famed barn pool. This heated lap pool is open 24 hours a day for guests, but we have it to ourselves for the next hour as I embark on a journey called Float Away Massage. This massage uses the healing properties of water. A pressure point foot massage is followed with a focus on the head and neck. Watsu stretching techniques and joint mobilization help relax the body. Soothing music can be heard intermittently as your body floats too and fro, back and forth and front and back. Steam, sauna and Jacuzzi round out the experience.

There has never been a better time to Visit Lake Austin Spa, they have a lot going on. The rooms are plush, all meals, coffee, teas and water are included at this 40-room destination spa and the French chef serves incredible conscientious cuisine. You can also take a care package of vegetables and seeds home with you.

Come on in, the water’s fine.

Side Bar
New Experiences

Crystal Bowl Healing Session

Everything is a vibration and your body can feel the vibration of the crystal bowls as you meditate in the yoga room. You tune your body like you tune an instrument. Sound healing allows your body to heal itself by slowing down your brain waves, which affect every cell in your body.

Da Vinci Board Workout

This new exercise class is taking the fitness industry by storm. You have a board and several bands for resistance training. All exercises are done in one-minute intervals with 20-second breaks. Each exercise is designed to tone muscles to create full body integrity. In just a half hour, the whole body is worked with strength training, cardio, and stretching.

St. Anthony Hotel

February 15, 2021 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The Perfect Texas Wedding Destination

By Racheal Payne

The St. Anthonyis perfect for destination weddings. Located in Downtown San Antonio, the historic hotel overlooks Travis Park, is surrounded by tourist attractions and has been welcoming politicians, royalty and elite guests like you for over 100 years. With its beauty, history, character and AAA Four Diamond service, the St. Anthony adds a great touch to any wedding story. 

St.Anthony Hotel

Your Destination Wedding Experience 

Begin your experience with a warm welcome from the impeccable St. Anthony staff. People gasp when they enter the lobby. It’s fabulously French and filled with paintings, sculptures and antique furniture. The hotel’s historic elegance continues to impress throughout the hallways and into the rooms. Once checked in, start the wedding festivities with a welcome dinner at ReBelle. ReBelle’s unique style and subtle ambience allows guests to interact with new family and old friends. Named one of San Antonio’s finest seafood restaurants, ReBelle offers one of a kind dining experiences, overnight shipped coastal seafood and farm-fresh produce sourced from Texas’ locales. After dinner, enjoy drinks directly across at the Haunt. The Haunt is a new addition to the St. Anthony. Humorously named after St. Anthony’s ‘spirits’ of the past, the contemporary lounge has a relaxing atmosphere and offers craft cocktails and live entertainment. A perfect location for a nightcap! 

Start the new day with a walk through the heart of downtown and soak in San Antonio’s history.  Explore the Alamo, the historic battleground of the Texas’ revolutionary war. Steps away from the Alamo, below street level, is the Riverwalk. Plenty of places serve margaritas and Mexican fare along the river and patios are full of happy patrons. Pink barges navigate the river with guides pointing out historical sites and sharing stories with the passengers. For a more festive experience walk down to Market Square for live Mexican music and food! Other attractions within walking distance include the San Antonio Museum of Art, Briscoe Western Art Museum, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, Majestic Theatre, and endless places to shop and eat. After a long day of adventure, stop by the famous La Panaderia for the best tres leches croissant!

For a more relaxing experience, enjoy some pool time at St Anthony’s rooftop infinity pool. The pool is surrounded by private cabanas and a cabana bar and grill. After a nice swim, enjoy their state of the art health and fitness center which is open 24 hours. 

Party sites

Gallery on the Park is a great spot for private events, showers and luncheons. Enjoy views of Travis Park as you host your bridesmaids at this exquisite restaurant for breakfast or lunch, or have a private soiree in the Draper Room, one of the hotel’s many event spaces. The guys like drinks at the St. Anthony Club. Formally a speakeasy, the St. Anthony Club is known as the hub of business deals, one famously being the birth of Southwest Airlines. The founders of Southwest sketched their idea for an affordable airline on a cocktail napkin. The napkin maps the triangle of the first route through San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. Today the hotel features the same drawing on their cocktail napkins. For a more groom inspired adventure, take a distillery tour at Maverick Whiskey. Maverick Whiskey can customize any experience and offers cigar services or custom beer making classes.

Weddings at the St. Anthony 

St Anthony has thrown statement weddings for over a century. The “old hollywood” setting provides a fairy tale touch. Event spaces convey an elegant and grand appeal; they have hosted presidents and royals such as Princess Grace of Monaco and the ambience makes any bride feel like a princess. There are endless ceremony options. Traditionalists love San Fernando Cathedral, the city’s historic catholic assembly that hosts hundreds of ceremonies each year. For a more simple style, Marriage Island is a heart shaped island on the RiverWalk where a spanish missionary conducted the first catholic mass. People from all over the world exchange vows on the uniquely shaped peninsula year round. Travis Park, directly across from the hotel, is great for outdoor ceremonies. The nearby site is convenient for bridal parties and guests!

Ballrooms are: the Anacacho Ballroom with exquisite crystal chandeliers and dual staircases; the Peraux Ballroom, with its 19th century tapestry by famous artist Lionel Peraux, can serve as an extension of the Anacacho or accommodate smaller events.

You can host cocktail hour in the famous Peacock Alley amid antique paintings and luxurious furnishings. Entertain guests with their original Steinway piano. The Cavalier Room has a dome ceiling, Swarovski crystals, and mosaic tiling. It features a sculpture garden with pieces collected over hundreds of years. The room leads into St. A Sky Terrace, an upscale, outdoor terrace overlooking downtown San Antonio. St. Anthony has many amazing spaces!

Sky Terrace. Relaxing luxury furniture and San Antonio views.

After your romantic and historic ceremony, the best space may be next to your new spouse for a ride through the city in a horse drawn carriage as celebratory fireworks light up the sky. 

Hill Country Dreaming

February 2, 2021 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Laurette Veres

Let friends and relatives from around the world experience Texas; invite them to your wedding in Bastrop. Lost Pines Resort and Spa combines Texana and luxurious summer camp. You’ll be right at home at this hill country treasure by Hyatt.

Lost Pines Resort and Spa

There are several wedding venues on site; one is sure to be perfect for you. The resort is situated on the Colorado River and the Riverside Amphitheater sits right on the riverbank with awe-inspiring views. The lawn stair steps create comfortable seating and great views for family, friends and well-wishers. A ceremony here with the river flowing behind you is the most Hill Country you’ll get.

The LBJ Pavilion at the top of the hill has 6000 square feet of reception space. It’s an open slate for your decorating dreams. This enclosed area is just steps from the riverside ceremony cite and is perfect for year-round weather; the cozy stone fireplace always becomes a focal point.

Does your relationship revolve around golf? Wolfdancer Golf Club is an 18-hole, par 72-course with two great locations for ceremonies. A private ceremony space right outside Birdies Burger Bar can be customized just for your group. Enjoy lush surroundings and rolling hill country views as you say I do and dance the night away. A golfer’s dream location, Hole 12, is perfect for smaller ceremonies. The picturesque views of protected natural landscape, certified by Audubon International, will add an ultimate wow factor to your nuptials. Guests will enjoy the fun, riding golf carts up to the tee, and if you’re lucky, seeing a deer or two along the way.

For traditional country club style couples, the Lost Pines Ballroom can transform to any style. Planning an indoor event in Texas offers peace of mind and a retreat from the heat. The beautiful area just outside the ballroom is perfect for cocktail receptions.

The Pecan Terrance is an intimate setting nestled along the resort’s Hummingbird Garden. This is truly one of the most unique and Texas-centric venues you will find.

No matter which venue you choose, the resort’s mascots are available to make your wedding that much more memorable. By mascots we mean live animals: longhorn cattle, ponies, and alpaca are available to create a wedding photo opportunity your guests will not forget.  

A longhorn grazing in field.

Lost Pines is a full service resort and has something for every guest. The convenience of never having to leave the resort makes things easy for friends and family. Meet up at Shellers Barrelhouse Bar to sip Texas microbrews or moonshine margaritas, with moonshine distilled in nearby Smithville (Signature drink anyone?). Feast on pub food in the bar or outside on the spacious patio.

Spa Django is a full-service spa located right on property. Offering much more than hair and makeup services for the bridal party, spa packages are customizable combining music and nature to help guests relax and recharge. This is the perfect place for your bride tribe to unwind before the ceremony begins. With 18 treatment rooms including an assortment of hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, and an adults-only pool, this is one Texas-sized spa. The waiting area is large enough to hold all the important ladies in your life.

If children are on the guest list, they’ll find plenty to do. Camp Hyatt offers cultural art and crafts, games and more. Bikes are available at no charge, and families spend hours peddling around the grounds. They can fish, or float the 1000- foot-long lazy river, Crooked River Water Park. During summer, every evening ends with S’mores by the Riversong fire pit.

water park
kids play at Camp Hyatt

Book your wedding now!

Book before the end of the year to receive:

  • discounts on food and beverage
  • waived rental fees
  • a complimentary stay in a suite at the resort

San Antonio is open (keep your distance)

August 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

San Antonio, socially distant, yet pretty close to home

Photos and story by Laurette Veres

It’s the perfect time for a road trip. The most popular destination in Texas has always been San Antonio and the people in the Alamo City are rolling out Texas-sized safety measures to put you at ease. San Antonio is open and ready to safely greet you and your family.

Where to stay

A suite at The Westin Riverwalk

The River Walk is the second most popular attraction in San Antonio. (The Alamo is number one). When selecting a hotel, proximity to the River Walk is always a consideration. The Westin Riverwalk, San Antonio www.westinriverwalksanantonio.com meets all the criteria of a river front property. It’s located on the quite side of the river, which allows for tranquility on your patio, yet you are steps from the bustling restaurant and bar scene. At the hotel, masks are mandatory in all public areas and only two people can be on an elevator. Despite these restrictions, the lobby was bustling and two brides were on property taking portraits. Several balconies on the second floor overlook the River walk, a serene setting highlighted by brightly lit tour boats. Just to the left, as you head to the action, you’ll pass the infamous Marriage Island.  Expect to see weddings here every day of the week. When you enter your room, look for the sticker taped to the door and doorjamb “cleaned and sealed for your protection”. This is your assurance the room is ready for you. The plush accommodations feature pillowtop mattresses on the Heavenly Bed and marble bathrooms in the Heavenly Bath. Brown and gold tones create a relaxing vibe and spending time on your balcony looking out over the River Walk is the best part. Beat the summer heat at the Westin’s pool where there is always a party, reservations required to ensure social distancing.

San Antonio Botanical Garden

Outdoor Exploration
The San Antonio Botanical Garden www.sabot.org is a welcome respite from the Covid-19 pandemic. You can easily spend half a day at this treasure trove of local flora and fauna. In the welcome center, plan your day. Don’t miss the vegetable and herb garden, home to the chef program for healthy eating. Brightly colored peppers remind you of the holidays. Today cooking classes have been converted to on-line, but when they can be held on property again, amateur cooks are welcome to collect herbs right from the garden.  

The family adventure garden is the perfect place to keep your distance while the children run and play. Kids love the teepees, rolling hills, and the splash pad. Not your ordinary splash pad, it looks like a real Texas river replete with boulders and waterfalls. There is a Botanical garden representative monitoring the splash pad limiting capacity to twenty people. This leaves plenty of time to explore the rest of the establishment.

The most notable feature here are the five glass conservatory buildings. Each is a tribute to local plants; the fern grotto looks like a plant scene from Jurassic Park. Another explains life in the desert. Photographers flock to this area for some of the best photo ops in town. Keep walking and you’ll see San Antonio’s first water reservoir from 1877, now an amphitheater. Take a short jog up a hill to one of the highest points inside the loop to take in great skyline views.

To get a true picture of Texas’ past, the native Texas area has pioneer homes on property highlighting three areas: South Texas, the Hill Country and the Piney Woods. The setting is remarkable and the landscapes change to mimic the locations. The temperature really does go down as you stroll the Piney Woods. Over 300 species of birds have been sited at South Texas’ birding area. The limestone in the hill country depicts the importance of aquifers to the residents. The Auld home is an 1800 homesite where 7 children were raised. Today, it can be used to host weddings and corporate receptions.

To learn more about the types of landscaping that grows well in San Antonio, the cottage gardening area features Spanish Courtyards and more. Walk through the Wisteria Arbor, or take a seat on a bench and enjoy the shade as you make your way to the great big lawn and the Japanese Garden. Here you’ll discover serenity. The large lawn plays host to children’s story time, with social distancing, of course.

Mask up with the Witte Museum in San Antonio

Indoor Learning
San Antonio’s oldest museum, The Witte Museum, www.wittemuseum.org focuses on the history of San Antonio, from the dinosaurs all the way up to the beautiful gowns of the Fiesta celebration. Before you enter, be sure to notice the dinosaur wears a dinosaur-sized mask. You’ll be greeted with an explanation of the slight changes the museum has made as they welcome the new normal. Typically, an interactive museum, today each guest receives a stylist to press the buttons on the exhibits to learn about the Comanche Hunters, ranchers, and oilmen from Texas’ past. Did you know Texas is the only state in the Union to have Farm to Market roads? They are the result of a 1949 bill guaranteeing funding for the roads that help farmers bring their crops to town. Step into the distant past as you explore the Naylor Family Dinosaur Gallery, the first permanent dinosaur gallery in the 90-year history of the Witte. You will explore the animals that lived here more than 110 million years ago.

Merry Go Round at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas
You’ll feel great visiting this amusement park where every activity is outdoors. Large entry tents now contain walk through thermometers and everyone is asked to wash hands frequently and masks are mandatory throughout the park. When is the last time you remember your kids being the only kids on the merry go round? In many cases, you’ll be the only family on a ride. Rides close often for sterilizing. Six Flags is committed to the following six axioms: 1. Wear your mask 2. Wash your hands 3. Cover your cough 4. Keep your space 5. Sanitize often 6. Have fun. And, no, your mask does not come off while riding a roller coaster!

Get ready for the water at Sea World

SeaWorld and Aquatica
My first visit to SeaWorld www.seaworld.com was the inaugural year, 1988. At that time we saw a show or two and enjoyed a few exhibits. This brand has grown and changed so much since the early days. Most notably they’ve got some great roller coasters now! Educational shows in the Ocean Discovery area teach about dolphins and beluga whales. As SeaWorld fans across the world will attest, the stars of the park are the killer whales who put on a spectacular show and get most of the audience wet. Speaking of the audience, SeaWorld does a great job distancing groups and dismisses by section to keep social distancing practices.

German fare at the Taste of the Seven Seas food event.

As luck would have it, A Taste of Seven Seas food event was taking place during my SeaWorld trip. Culinary adventures from France, Germany, Greece and Italy popped up around the park. We enjoyed crepes while in France, braised beef in Germany, shrimp flatbread in Italy and a lamb burger in Greece. Chefs were on hand to prepare some of the best amusement park fare I’ve ever tasted. A ticket to SeaWorld also includes their water park Aquatica so plan accordingly. There are cabanas, a wave beach, lazy river and some seriously fierce water slides. The Tonga Twister has four slides, two are open air and two are enclosed. The enclosed rides are a thrill for your senses as flowers float by, music blasts through the speakers and colors change rapidly.

Drive Through Zoo
The San Antonio Zoo www.sazoo.org offers Drive Thru Zoo, a one-of-a- kind experience where families can see the zoo while in the comfort, safety, and security of their own vehicle. The experience includes a guided educational audio tour. In fact, guests have not been able to tour the zoo on four wheels since there were carts led by donkeys then later trams.

Tequila-Almond Croissant from La Panderia

Where to eat
History and taste converge on E. Houston street just minutes from the Westin at La Panaderia. www.lapanaderia.com   The historic building is home to the freshest and most popular pastries in town, created by Mexico City-raised owners. Trip Advisor calls this the number one bakery out of over 50 and we can see why. The most popular lunch item is the Mexican Cubana torta bursting with cilantro mayo, chipotle mustard, ham, bacon, swiss cheese, kiolbassa sausage and pickles. The pride and joy, the Tequila-Almond Croissant, was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Perfectly flaky, with an almond filling and toasted almonds on top, it reminds you of everything great. Think flaky croissant, meets stuffed donut, meets delicious fruit pastry.

For dinner, head over to the Food Hall at the Pearl. As a former brewery operating from 1883 to 2001, Pearl is now a hotel, living and recreational area just outside of downtown. The food hall is all to-go service and offers plenty of seating on the lawn. Mi Roti serves bowls and wraps of authentic Caribbean cuisine. For this build your own concept, we selected the Jerk chicken, coconut rice, and a choice of 12 toppings. The bowl was messy, but deliciously bursting with flavor. The Pearl is located on the Riparian portion of the River Walk, just a casual and beautiful stroll from home sweet home: The Westin, Riverwalk San Antonio.

Book this trip now:

  • “You Deserve It” – whether it was a missed milestone or months of self-isolation, everyone deserves some time away at San Antonio’s ultimate downtown destination. Offer starts at $159 per night and includes two celebratory welcome drinks and a $15 food credit to be used towards “Distance Dining”
  • “Real World Heroes” – for first responders and teachers, The Westin Riverwalk wants to thank you for all you are doing by offering up to 20 percent off upcoming stays with rates as low as $119 per night, including free internet access. Guests must provide ID confirmation at check-in.


The Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa

August 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Destination weddings, honeymoons, bachelorette parties and more converge in Jamaica for a good time, mon!

story and photos by Laurette Veres

Honeymoon at the Jewel Grand

Brides love Jamaica. Great ceremony locations with excellent and service and beautiful weather are just four hours away.

In Grand Style

The Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa is the newest luxury property in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Each of the 229 units is a two room suite, perfect for families and bridal parties when some want to sleep and others want to socialize. Inside the suites are refrigerators, microwaves and stovetops. Outdoors you’ll find a private beach, poolside bars, splash pad, kids club and spectacular views. Lush green golf courses, blue-ocean, tropical resort pool and white sugary beaches with yellow parasails floating in the distance are some of the things guests see. The boardwalk has two sundecks jetting out over the ocean, creating perfect bridal portrait locations. This resort has little “nooks” of various sizes to host weddings and receptions; one perfect for any group.

All the action happens at the main pool

Island Paradise: Aruba

May 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Travel Blog, Uncategorized

Sunset from Pincho’s Grill & Bar


Island Paradise

Plan your next getaway on Aruba

Story and Photography by Laurette Veres


The wildly popular tropical island of Aruba is part of what’s known as the ABC islands (Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire). Sunny and sultry Aruba is just outside the line of fire for hurricane season, making it an ideal location for a tropical vacation. It’s also the Caribbean’s hottest spot for adventure and fun!


Have fun poolside at the Aruba Marriott

The incomparable Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is tailor-made to host your once-in-a-lifetime event. With 411 stylish guestrooms and 23 lavish suites, this hotel has room for everyone. Each room features a 100-square foot balcony with a breath-taking view of the sparkling waters of the Caribbean Sea. There is something for everyone at this resort, from the party pool with cascading waterfall to the adults-only H2Oasis pool. Where else can you see a Zumba class break out in the middle of the day? The party is always hopping at Stellaris Casino. Family and friends of all ages will be happy on this happy island.

The real fun in Aruba takes place in the ocean. The currents are calm in these waters…lake calm. Your drinks can actually float, undisturbed, alongside you in a fabulous, inflatable flamingo (if you were brilliant enough to bring one). Aruba is the perfect island to push your limits and try some new water sports. Stand-up paddle boarding is very popular. Stretch yourself even further and try a paddleboard yoga class by Vela Aruba. There’s nothing more “zenful” than the peaceful Caribbean Sea swaying beneath you as you find your center. Looking for something more exhilarating? Book a kayaking tour, take a ½ day snorkel sail, parasail above it all or bounce to heart to your heart’s content on floating inflatable trampolines!


Looking for a group activity that’s fun for all ages? Beach tennis is big here! It’s the official sport of the isle. In fact, the sport is so popular here, Aruba hosts international beach tennis tournaments. We signed up for private lessons with Aksel Samardzic, currently ranked #9 in the world. It’s like playing tennis on a beach volleyball court, the racket is similar and the ball is a bit smaller. Scoring is identical to tennis and your group will be ready to play a match after only a thirty-minute lesson. It can really be a great team building activity for family and friends who might not know each other well.

What better way to get a real taste of authentic cuisine than spending one-on-one time with the chef. Learn from Chef Ever as he expertly seasons the catch-of-the-day. Watch his demonstration, or don an apron and join him at the stove. Compare your finished plate to his, then take a seat and enjoy the bountiful results.

Walkways connect the beaches together in Aruba

One of my favorite things about the Aruba coastline is the walkway that connects the beaches, creating miles of scenic beachside boardwalk. This family friendly, “walkable” esplanade is great for baby strollers and wheel chairs, speed walkers or casual promenades. Guests with young children will appreciate the multiple play areas right on the beach.

After an evening stroll along the Marriott boardwalk, dinner literally “pops up” at Atardi beachfront restaurant- just in time for sunset. Enjoy a toes-in-sand sunset supper starting with sashimi snapper, tomato caprese, or crab salad. Popular main course items are fresh blackened mahi mahi, grilled sea bass, tropical red snapper and more.


Healthy brunch items at Aruba Marriott Governor’s Suite.

The Marriott’s Governor suite is the perfect brunch spot. Your guests won’t be able to get enough of the expansive Palm Beach views. Think mimosa bar and hot and cold brunch buffet on the balcony. Enjoy mini-quiche, pancakes, and pastries or get your granola on. Your guests will be impressed with the food and the views.

In Aruba, almost every location is picture-perfect and Pincho’s Grill and Bar is no exception. Arrive at the Aruba Surfside Marina in time for sunset and don’t miss the “Love Potion” premium margarita. Absorb the soothing sound of whispering waves as you enjoy a meal of luscious crab cakes, crispy coconut shrimp, dark rum-infused blue cheese tenderloin and pan- seared Caribbean grouper. As the sun sets over the water and the moon rises over the palm trees, you’ll understand why you came to this special island for an unforgettable trip.










Governor Abbott Expands Business Openings In Texas, Announces Surge Response Teams To Combat COVID-19

May 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

For Immediate Distribution  |  May 5, 2020 

Issues Guidance For Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremonies  

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today held a press conference where announced that he will be issuing an Executive Order to expand openings ofcertain businesses and activities. The Governor also announced new guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on graduation ceremonies and the creation of Surge Response Teams to combat any COVID-19 flare ups in Texas.  

“Texas is in a position to continue opening parts of our economy because of the efforts and determination of the people of Texas,” said Governor Abbott. “Over the past month, Texans have worked together to contain the spread of COVID-19 by following social distancing practices and staying at home whenever possible. As we move forward, I urge all Texans to continue following these social distancing guidelines and the health standards we have provided. With every Texan doing their part, we will contain COVID-19, we will unleash our entrepreneurs, and we will make it through this challenge together.”

The Governor was joined for the press conference by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC) Acting Executive Commissioner Phil Wilson, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, and Adjutant General of Texas Maj. Gen. Tracey Norris.

Per the Governor’s announcement, wedding venues and services required to conduct weddings may immediately open. Weddings held indoors other than at a church, congregation, or house of worship must limit occupancy to 25%. Wedding reception services may also resume, but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25% of the total listed occupancy. These occupancy limits do not apply to the outdoor areas of a wedding reception or to outdoor wedding receptions.
The wedding industry was anxious to hear the news. For more information about the Houston wedding industry visit www.BridalExtravaganza.com

Beginning May 8, cosmetology salons, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and shops, and other establishments where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade, may open, but all such salons, shops, and establishments must ensure at least six feet of social distancing between operating work stations. Tanning salons may also reopen under the same limitation. Also starting May 8, swimming pools may open subject to certain limitations, including on their occupancy or operating levels.

Beginning May 18, office buildings may open with the greater of five or less individuals or 25% of the total office workforce. These individuals must maintain appropriate social distancing. Gyms, exercise facilities, and exercise classes may also open on May 18, but must operate at 25% occupancy. Locker rooms and shower facilities will remain closed, but restrooms may open. Non-essential manufacturing services may also open on May 18 but facilities must limit their occupancy to 25%.

These newly opened services are subject to recommended minimum standard health protocols outlined by DSHS. These protocols will be available on the Open Texas webpage.  

During the press conference, Chief Kidd and Commissioner Wilson provided details on the newly formed Surge Response Teams. These teams are led by TDEM and HHSC and include representatives from the the Texas Military Department, DSHS, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, and BCFS Health and Human Services. Surge Response Teams will serve nursing homes, prisons, packing pants, and other facilities that experience flare ups of COVID-19 by providing personal protective equipment, testing supplies, onsite staffing, and assessment assistance. These teams will also work with local officials to establish health and social distancing standards to contain these flare ups. Several Surge Response Teams have already been deployed to locations across the state. Chief Kidd and Commissioner Wilson’s presentation is available here.  

TEA Commissioner Morath also provided new guidance on class of 2020 graduation ceremonies for Texas school districts. The TEA is providing four different pathways for schools to celebrate their graduating seniors, and each district is at liberty to determine if any of these options best serve the needs and desires of their community:

Completely virtual ceremonies that take place entirely online, with the use of videoconference or other technologies.
Hybrid ceremonies, which consist of a compilation of videos of students being recognized in person as they celebrate graduation in small groups.Vehicle ceremonies, in which students and their families wait in their cars while other graduates are recognized one at time with their families alongside them.
Outdoor in-person ceremonies, which are currently permitted for counties as follows: Between May 15 and May 31, an outdoor ceremony may take place in a rural county that has an attestation as described in the Governor’s Report to Open Texas that remains in effect 7 days prior to the ceremony. An outdoor ceremony may take place in any Texas county on or after June 1.  Full details of the TEA’s graduation ceremony guidance can be found on the TEA website

2020 Wedding Predictions

December 29, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

As the U.S. experiences a decline in the marriage among Millennials due to factors like, exposure to divorce and success in the workplace, couples are waiting longer to marry in order to increase life experiences rather than just one evening.

Trends from Texas brides include:

Gift Registries Re-boot: Gift registries are changing and evolving. Gone is the focus on china, entertaining, and homemaking. Today’s couples can register for their honeymoons, massages, after dinner drinks and lifestyle gifts like camping gear, exercise equipment, and cooking classes.

Must add meaning: Couples look for meaning in personal items, menus and more. One couple attended a jewelry class and made their wedding bands.Another couple added tamales to their menu as a nod to a “tamale incident” that occurred early in their dating life.

Focus on sustainability: The sustainability trend continues. From reducing the wedding footprint by accepting digital RSVPs and carrying florals and décor from the ceremony site to the reception to reduce the event’s footprint is popular.

Food becomes interactive: Today’s food presentation is all about showmanship. Say goodbye to plated chicken dinners and hello to interactive stations. A build your own ramen bar served in recycled bamboo bowls offers the perfect opportunity for  guests to mix and mingle. Instead of pulled pork on a plate, imagine a whole roasted pig arriving on the table aka Hawaiian luau.

New twists on bar service: Brides don’t want guests to stand in line and bartenders have been known to create bottlenecks. Help yourself! Self-serve bars contain signature drinks, fully decorated margaritas and more. Bars also come to life with specialty drinks being served by a model who is literally “wearing the table.”

Lights. Wedding. Action: Bold lighting helps create an energetic wedding vibe. Vows can be projected onto a ceremony floor. Neon signs boldly proclaim the couple’s last name. Marquee letters spell dance, or smores.

Alternative locations: Get married in a tee pee? Why not? Semi-permanent structures are popping up as new nuptial options.

Balloons are making bold statements: Not just for children’s parties anymore, balloon artists are making their mark on weddings. As a backdrop for a dessert table, or a grand entrance, unique balloon displays bring a new level of fun to receptions.

Unplugged Ceremonies and Honeymoons invite couples to “be present”: Even millennials want to unplug! Not only do the couples want guests to be present with them, they want to control the images posted to social media.  Couples are now opting to follow their own rules,  unplugging for their entire wedding day, as well as their honeymoon. Unplugged honeymoons give couples the chance to celebrate their newlywed status without distraction, simply enjoying each other’s company as they start their marriage journey together.

by Laurette Veres, Bridal Extravaganza Show Producer. Since 1983, catering exclusively to brides, grooms, and their families, The Bridal Extravaganza Show has been bringing brides and bridal businesses together bi-annually to help thousands of to-be-weds plan the wedding of their dreams.


Elf the Musical

December 20, 2019 by  
Filed under Events, Uncategorized

This holiday season, the Broadway hit, Elf the Musical- from Theatre Under the Stars, will be at the Hobby Center from Dec. 7-22. Based on the classic 2003 movie, this musical tells the story of Buddy the elf, a human who accidentally ended up in the North Pole after sneaking into Santa’s bag when he was a baby. After realizing he’s a human, Buddy asks Santa’s permission to find his father who lives in New York City. The musical follows Buddy’s adventures as he reconnects with his father, finds true love, and brings Christmas spirit back to the city that never sleeps. 

The musical maintains all the heart and holiday joy of the original movie while throwing in newer cultural references for younger audiences, who will delight in getting to see Buddy the Elf dabbing and flossing. A fun and witty performance, parents will enjoy the humorous subtleties in this holiday musical as well. 

Tickets start at just $40 and run time for the musical is 2 hrs and 20  min with one intermission. The Hobby Center has an on-site parking garage for $15 per car. Valet parking is also available for $25. 

Gift Guide Holiday 2019

December 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

For the pet lover

Pink Papyrus

Treat yo’ pup with Pink Papyrus! They started with tees and have expanded to sturdy, fashion forward gear. Long walks on all terrains just got upgraded with hand spun, cotton, weather proof, hypoallergenic, naturally elastic, sustainable leashes. Protect your pup from bugs and sun with a classic, tie-on bandana. Created to minimize stiffness, these beauts allow for flexibility in size. When nature calls, be prepared with a durable waste bag holder crafted from heavy-duty fabric and solid brass hardware. A little extra wiggle room offers space for a few personal items.

www.PinkPapyrus.com Price: $20.00+

For the Fashionista

Kissing Glitter

Take your lips to a new level with this yummy Kissing Glitter! Simply roll on this shimmery gloss for a sweet pout that looks and tastes amazing!

For the Ultimate Texan

Art of Twisted Nail

Popular at farmers markets and festivals around the state, and the “Outstanding New Vendor” at the State Fair of Texas, Art of the Twisted Nail is offering unique art with a Texas flair. Pieces are ideal for outdoor spaces and can be customized for ranches and party barns. Most popular pieces include the Bluebonnet Texas, Rivers of Texas, and the nativity scene.


For the Hostess with the Mostess


When money is no object,splurge on LOUIS XIII Cognac and the limited-edition world famous LOUIS XIII Black Pearlin a new size: LOUIS XIII Black Pearl AHD. Part of the exclusive Black Pearl Collection, the unprecedented 350 ml crystal decanter contains a rare blend of LOUIS XIII Cognac, drawn from a single tiercon hidden in the family reserve cellar. In a numbered and exclusive amount of only 1498, the bespoke Baccarat decanter comes in Black Pearl’s iconic limited-edition steel color and is an exquisite work of art. This is the first time a decanter part of the Black Pearl Collection has been available since 2014.

$13,000 USD. https://www.louisxiii-cognac.com/

For the new baby

Clappy the Animated Monkey (Baby GUND)

It’s never too early (an age) to hop on the GUND craze. Clappy is an enthusiastic, animated plush monkey who is always ready to keep your baby engaged and entertained. This washable, huggable toy helps baby develop and learn through two different play modes. Touch his left foot to play an interactive clapping game, and the right to hear the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in a cute child’s voice. When playtime is over, this adorable 12” monkey doubles as perfect room décor to enhance your room or nursery.

$40.00 Gund.com

For the Homemaker

Drinkmate Countertop and Spritzer

Now you can carbonate anything in the fridge with this patented detachable Fizz Infuser. This small device doesn’t use much counter space, is easy to operate and easy to clean. 

$89.99 www.idrinkproducts.com 

For the Naturalist

Parry Botanicals

This local cosmetic company features all natural ingredients. More than a stocking stuffer, this 3-piece gift set is perfect for any of your gifting needs. It includes full size 3-piece set of Parry Botanical’s best-selling lotions –Restorative Cream, Body Cream and Pure Botanical Lotion all in a stylish bag. 

$100  parrybotanicals.com

For the Entertainer


Everyone is shaking with excitement over the latest innovation in Cocktail Shakers – Shaker33. The large format enables large batches to be mixed at one time. It’s BPA-Free, features stainless steel design and is shatterproof.  Shaker33 is revolutionizing the art of mixing drinks. You can even mix one handed!

$39.95 www.shaker33.com  

For the Art Lover (who love their pets)

Crown and Paw

Is your pet your baby? This holiday season turn a favorite picture of your pet into a one of a kind renaissance masterpiece with Crown and Paw pet portraits. What a unique way to express your love, adoration, and even obsessiveness, with beloved pets. Crown and Paw curates authentic 19th century portraits and rare Renaissance era oil paintings and digitally combines them with your pet photo, creating an incredibly life like work of art.

from $49.99 www.crownandpaw.com

For the Home Brewer

The Noelle™ Ceramic Electric Tea Kettle

Fashion meets function with this stylish tea kettle by Pinky Up®! The Noelle™ Ceramic Electric Tea Kettle features glossy mint ceramic glazing and a trendy rose gold metallic base. Includes 1.5L capacity with easy on/off switch. Boiling water has never been this chic! 

$59.99 available at most online retailers

For the Fitness Junkie

Downward Dog

 Built for your mother or brother, sister or mister, Corc Yoga’s line of 100% sustainable and renewable yoga mats and accessories are the perfect holiday gifts. Sustainable, 100% chemical free, and anti-microbial, Corc Yoga makes products entirelywithcork harvested in Portugal, simultaneously revitalizing the practice and supporting a sustainably viable future. Built by removing harsh metals from production and using plant-based color dyes, Corc mats are completely natural and biodegradable.

from $21.99 to $205 www.corcyoga.com

For the Wanderlust Family

Elsewhere USA Scratch Off Map Poster

Whether your children are active wanderlusts or travelers in training, let them scratch, write on and explore in ways most maps won’t let them. The Elsewhere USA Scratch Off Map Poster provides an interactive way kids can learn about the places they’ve gone, locations they can visit and other facts, figures, and notes that makes them.


For the Home Décor Junkie

Coffee table book by local author

Author and photographer, Margaret Wilson Reckling released her new book of images, prose and historical research, Woody Creek: Views from a Homestead. Reckling brilliantly captures Woody Creek Canyon’s intimate allure and panoramic vistas through her photographic study and written words. The author has spent much of the past five years restoring and maintaining the original Colorado homestead ranch which was built in the 1800’s by the area’s early settlers. Her oversight of this historic property was the inspiration for the book and resulted in thousands of images of local wildlife, the changing seasons, night sky astronomy and more.

Available for purchase by emailing woodycreekhomestead@gmail.com.

For the Foodie

Home cutlery at its finest- F.N. Sharp

Differentiated by striking designs, superior Damascus steel and a hassle-free sharpening subscription model, F.N. Sharp brings a whole new edge to the home cutlery industry. The exceptionally sharp blades crafted from 67 layers of high-quality Japanese VG-10 steel;are available in 3-knife (Chef, Santoku, Paring) or 6-knife (Chef, Santoku, Paring, Boning, Bread and Utility) sets and steak knives in sets of four.



September 24, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Mexico’s number one resort, previously known as The Resort at Pedregal, debuts as a Waldorf Astoria to expand the brand’s global portfolio in the Caribbean and Latin America
LOS CABOS, MexicoWaldorf Astoria Hotels & ResortsHilton’s (NYSE: HLT) iconic luxury hotel brand, today announced the debut of Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal  transforming The Resort at Pedregal as the brand´s first property in Mexico. The award-winning Forbes Five Star Resort and Spa, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, was acquired by affiliates of Walton Street Capital Mexico and now invites guests to enjoy Mexican-inspired, unforgettable experiences through the brand’s True Waldorf Service.

The new Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal is situated on Cabo San Lucas’ most coveted parcel of land – an extraordinary, 24-acre site at the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. This exclusive haven, accessible solely by Mexico’s only privately owned Dos Mares tunnel, creates a strong sense of arrival and is just minutes from bustling downtown Cabo San Lucas yet seemingly worlds apart.

“The Waldorf Astoria brand has been setting the standard for luxury and personalized service across the globe for more than 100 years,” said Dino Michael, global head, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. “The conversion of Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal reflects this commitment to expand our luxury portfolio and bring our True Waldorf Service to the world’s most sought-after and inspiring destinations.”

The resort boasts 119 guest rooms and residential-style suites including the one-bedroom Dos Mares suites, two-bedroom beachfront suites, and the presidential beachfront suite, all featuring their own private plunge pools. Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal creates a unique sense of place with a relentless commitment to personal service provided by a team of Personal Concierges who are available around the clock to assist guests with their requests.

“We are excited for the next chapter of this landmark resort. Having been with the property since its opening ten years ago, the team’s dedication to providing everlasting experiences to our guests and commitment to preserving the area’s rich history and culture have been of upmost importance,” said Fernando Flores, general manager of the property. “Combined with Waldorf Astoria’s unparalleled, intuitive service, unwavering attention to detail and culinary excellence, this new Waldorf Astoria property will undoubtedly bring Los Cabos to the next level of unforgettable luxury.”

Following Waldorf Astoria’s legacy of culinary expertise, Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal features an extensive and unique dining program with culinary offerings including:

  • El Farallon: In an alfresco setting suspended over the ocean, El Farallon features an “ocean-to-table” menu enabling guests to choose from a variety of fresh fish from the surrounding waters.
  • Don Manuel’s: The resort’s signature restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, using cuisine made from local, organic ingredients and prepared using modern interpretations of old-world techniques.
  • Crudo Bar: Meaning “raw bar” in Spanish, Crudo Bar is uniquely situated in the center of the main pool, offering a wide selection of freshly prepared tiraditos, ceviche and Mexican inspired rolls.
  • Beach Club: A casual poolside dining venue, it serves coastal favorites such as Hummus, Baja Wraps, Fresh Grilled Seafood, Grilled Panini Sandwiches and Classic Caesar Salads. 

Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal debuts as the premier offering in the region, with an array of best-in-class facilities and immersive experiences such as concierge services, a private chef upon request, transportation via the resort valet, and customized daytime itineraries. In addition, guests will continuously feel welcomed through an array of complimentary amenities including locally inspired drinks, daily afternoon surprises featuring regional cuisine, and a welcome bottle of Clase Azul Tequila in guests’ rooms.

Additional programming provided by Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal includes:

CURATED EXPLORATION: The new Beyond the Beach adventures include a culinary and art excursion with Savoring Todos Santos and Give-Back Tourism at La Candelaria where volunteer groups visit La Candelaria, aiding in the upkeep of the Agustin Melgar Primary School, followed by lunch with the school children. Additional adventures include Panga reef cruises, sunny yacht breakfasts, farm-to-table lunches and more in bountiful Baja. Each experience provides guests the chance to meet and interact with seasoned locals to give an authentic and personalized exploration.

WALDORF ASTORIA SPA: The new Waldorf Astoria Spa features 12,000 square-feet of space, providing a tranquil environment for reflection amongst pristine ocean views. This year, the spa is diving deeper into the healing elements with the launch of standalone 50 or 80 minute moon phase treatments — The Awakening Moon, The Nourishing Moon, The Calming Moon and The Resorting Moon — featuring natural ingredients and techniques that enhance the energy and healing influence each phase has on the body. Waldorf Astoria Spa also offers The Intention, a new Mexican folk healing treatment developed with local “sanadores” and shamans, that is composed of an energy cleansing ritual, craniosacral therapy and a Mexican folk massage; and new mindfulness and advance skin care treatments with tridimensional experiences: The Cure (detoxifying), Inhibit Face Lift (reforming), and 3D Collagen Shock (redefining).

VA Y VIENE BEACH BAR: New to the resort this year is the Va y Viene Beach Bar.  Inspired by the ocean that ebbs and flows, the new mobile beach bar features a variety of champagnes for guests to taste and sip on while taking in the ocean views from swinging chairs with the sand between their toes. 

“It is a privilege to have such a distinguished resort join our growing portfolio as we continue our rapid expansion, set to celebrate 100 hotels in Mexico by 2022,” said Jorge Giannattasio, senior vice president and head of operations, Caribbean and Latin America, Hilton. “Recognized as one of Mexico’s most renowned resorts, the property provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to once again partner with Walton Street Capital Mexico to further support the country’s growing tourism sector. Travelers have come to expect the best of luxury at this idyllic oasis and we look forward to further enhancing the resort experience with our unique standards of luxury service.”

Hilton currently has a portfolio of approximately 150 hotels and resorts across 23 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, including nearly 70 hotels open and welcoming travelers in Mexico.  The company is actively pursuing additional growth opportunities in the Caribbean and Latin America, and has a robust pipeline of more than 90 hotels throughout the region, including 30 projects in Mexico.

Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal is also a part of Hilton Honors, the award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s 17 distinct hotel brands. Members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay, an exclusive member discount, and free standard Wi-Fi. For more information about Hilton, please visit newsroom.hilton.com.

Rates at Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal start at $750, and the resort is offering its exclusive Unforgettable Pedregal Offer where guests can receive roundtrip transfers to and from San Jose de Cabo Airport, complimentary Spa access and amenities, a $50 beverage credit per room, special nightly VIP amenities, and one complimentary night for a future stay.  For more information on the resort and special offer, please visit www.waldorfastorialoscabospedregal.com.

About Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is a portfolio of more than 30 iconic properties that creates a unique sense of place with a relentless commitment to personal service and culinary expertise in landmark locations around the world. Unified by their inspirational environments and True Waldorf Service, Waldorf Astoria hotels deliver graceful service from the moment a guest books through checkout. In addition to the brand’s renowned hotel offerings, Waldorf Astoria boasts a best-in-class residential portfolio, including 15 properties either open or in development, that provide the comfort of a private home combined with the unsurpassed amenities and legendary service of Waldorf Astoria. Waldorf Astoria is a part of Hilton, a leading global hospitality company. Experience Waldorf Astoria by booking at www.waldorfastoria.com or through the Hilton Honors mobile app. Learn about the brand by visiting newsroom.hilton.com/waldorfastoria, and follow Waldorf Astoria on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

About Hilton
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 17 world-class brands comprising more than 5,700 properties with more than 923,000 rooms, in 113 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company, Hilton earned a spot on the 2018 world’s best workplaces list, and has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its 100-year history. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, more than 89 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy, plus enjoy instant benefits, including digital check-in with room selection, Digital Key, and Connected Room. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube.

Houston Weird Homes Tour

September 23, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The Houston Weird Homes Tour will take place on Saturday, September 28. The event has 7 homes confirmed and, this year, one ticket gets visitors into every home. See details below and a release (in-progress) attached. Thank you!

WHAT: 4th annual Weird Homes Tour – Houston

WHEN: Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 10am to 5pm

WHO: Weird Homes Tour (hosts); New Hope Housing (event beneficiary); 7 creative and extraordinary Houston residents and their uniquely Weird Homes!

WHERE: Several neighborhoods throughout Houston are featured on the tour. The tour is self-driven and self-paced.

WHY: This one-of-a-kind home tour takes attendees on a journey across Houston and into some of the area’s most imaginative and wonderful homes, where visitors can see and explore some truly unique designs and meet the minds that created them! Check out the home and collection of well-known art collector, Lester Marks; see Houston-based, internationally-known glass artist, Kim Clark Renteria, and her House of Luminosity; walk through the Instagram House (a.k.a. Montrose Studios out), and many more! (for details on each stop, see the attached release)

EVENT PAGE: http://www.weirdhomestour.com/houston-9-28/

Leka Gajula, MD

Leka Gajula, MD

Dr. Leka Gajula is a board-certified Gastroenterologist (Diplomate) specializing in the treatment of digestive diseases like indigestion, heartburn, gas/bloating, irritable bowel disease, constipation, diarrhea, anemia, rectal bleeding, stomach, intestine and colon problems, swallowing disorders, hepatitis, pancreatic problems and more. She performs gastrointestinal endoscopy, colonoscopy and other procedures at several Houston area hospitals. Dr. Gajula completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago and her Fellowship in Gastroenterology from the University of Texas in Galveston. Dr. Gajula has published several articles in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals.

At Colon Liver Gastro Consultants, Dr. Leka Gajula’s practice offers comprehensive treatment options relating to all aspects of gastroenterology such as reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus, ulcer disease, diarrhea, abdominal pain, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids, constipation and cancer screening. She has two offices, one located at Methodist Hospital Sugar Land and another in West Houston/Katy, Texas. The staff is highly competent, considerate, bilingual and ready to assist patients with all of their gastroenterology needs. Dr. Gajula can perform in-house hemorrhoid banding procedures to treat hemorrhoids; she also has an infusion suite in each office.

281-565-1009 • HoustonColonoscopy.com

16651 Southwest Fwy., Ste. 370
Sugar Land, TX 77479

2222 Greenhouse Rd., Ste. 900
Houston, TX 77084

Adventure Kids Playcare to Offer “Playcare to Go” at the Bridal Extravaganza Show

June 25, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Saturday & Sunday, July 13-14, 2019 at the George R. Brown Convention Center

HOUSTON, (June 25, 2019) – Adventure Kids Playcare Memorial City, Houston’s only drop-in childcare center featuring an indoor playground and entertainment center, has partnered with the Bridal Extravaganza Show to offer Playcare to Go on-site at the George R. Brown Convention Center during the bridal show on Saturday and Sunday, July 13-14, 2019. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Adventure Kids Playcare will provide staff to entertain and supervise children while guests enjoy wedding planning at the show. Offering a safe and fun place for children ages 18 months to 12 years old, brides-to-be and the wedding party can feel comfortable while their children are on-site.
Additionally, Adventure Kids Playcare will have a booth at Bridal Extravaganza informing brides about Playcare to Go and how they can include childcare at their wedding and special events. Adventure Kids Playcare offers Playcare to Go for weddings and receptions, office parties, and corporate events and provides toys, games, snacks, arts and crafts activities, as well as experienced staff.

Bridal Extravaganza, America’s largest wedding planning event, features fashion shows, wedding seminars and over 350 vendors. Guests have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Houston’s top wedding vendors including displays of the latest trends for photography, caterers, wedding cakes, flowers and more. To reserve childcare at Bridal Extravaganza, visit www.bridalextravaganza.com/tickets for $15 per hour, per child.

Adventure Kids Playcare fills the need for flexible, hourly childcare that is necessary as families become busier. Childcare for children ranging from 6 weeks to 12 years old is available Monday through Thursday, until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until midnight at their facility near Memorial City Mall.  Children can play, explore and learn in a safe, secure environment allowing parent’s time to work, enjoy shopping, dining, running errands or relaxing.
To schedule a tour, register your child, or to learn more about Adventure Kids Playcare, visit the website here or call 713-838-1414 and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

About Adventure Kids Playcare Adventure Kids Playcare is a unique drop-in childcare center featuring an indoor playground along with multiple activities for children of all ages. The childcare center provides a safe and engaging environment for children while conveniently providing parents the ability to have a productive guilt-free day. Adventure Kids Playcare accepts children ranging from 6 weeks old to 12 years old. Children interact with one another while enjoying the many imagination stations, arts and crafts, playground, video games and more. Parents may drop off their children anytime with no reservation required following an initial, on-site registration, Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Friday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – midnight. The facility is open for private birthday parties every Sunday. 
To learn more about Adventure Kids Playcare, visit the website here or call 713-838-1414 and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


June 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Candy Creations, Flying Unicorn Pigs and Marshmallow Tsunamis Have Invaded Space City

Candytopia, the candy-coated experiential adventure that has delighted over half a million guests across the country, has officially opened the doors of its newest location in Houston (MARQ*E Entertainment Center, 7620 Katy Fwy, Suite 360) for a limited-run.

Candytopia features over a dozen rooms and environments with larger-than-life interactive art installations and full sensory experiences. The marshmallowy mini-theme park launched in 2018 in Santa Monica and has toured in San Francisco near Union Square, New York in Midtown Manhattan, Minneapolis-St. Paul at Mall of America, and is currently operating locations in Atlanta and Dallas. The new location in Houston marks Candytopia’s continued success in attracting guests of all ages to top retail centers. Candytopia locations have attracted long lines with tickets selling out quickly.


For anyone who’s ever dreamed of scoring a Golden Ticket or nibbling their way through Candyland, Candytopia transports guests to an imaginative confectionery wonderland with a one-of-a-kind immersive experience. It has amassed a huge following among guests of all ages and A-list celebrities alike including: Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Biel, Bruce Willis, Adam Sandler, Kevin Durant, Josh Duhamel, Christina Aguilera, James Corden, Wiz Khalifa, Hilary Duff and Alessandra Ambrosio. Guests are treated to candy samples throughout the entire experience including sours and gummies, chocolate treats, nostalgic favorites, and many sweet surprises.

Candytopia Houston features the most popular attractions from its previous locations along with new H-Town-inspired elements unique to this location that will thrill locals and visitors alike. Candytopia Houston features a marshmallow pit; an underwater-themed wonderland filled with fantastical candy covered sea creatures; a rainbow-filled room with flying unicorn pigs, confetti explosions galore, Trolli Twisted Sour Brite gummy samples and sweets from Black Forest. New to this location, unique Houston elements include a Houston Astros hat, Apollo 11 astronauts (in celebration of the 50th anniversary), a Beyonce mural and many more sweet surprises.


Candytopia Houston is now open at MARQ*E Entertainment Center (7620 Katy Fwy, Suite 360) Tickets must be purchased in advance and are expected to sell out quickly. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit https://www.candytopia.com.


Candytopia is a peek inside the sweet and twisted world of famed global candy artist, Jackie Sorkin, and it was created in partnership with her co-founders, events and production design expert Zac Hartog, CEO of ZH Productions, and retail veteran John Goodman.


Adults: $28

Kids (4-12): $20

Kids (3 and under): Free

Monday-Saturday:  10:00 AM – 8:30 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 8:30 PM

For more information, visit Candytopia.com or follow along on social media:

Instagram: @TheCandytopia

Facebook: http://facebook.com/thecandytopia

Twitter: @TheCandytopia

Snapchat: TheCandytopia

Official hashtag: #Candytopia


For anyone who’s ever dreamed of scoring a Golden Ticket or nibbling their way through Candyland, Candytopia transports guests to an imaginative confectionary wonderland with a one-of-a-kind full sensory experience and welcomes people of all ages to explore their sweet tooth like never before. Candytopia was created by global candy artist Jackie Sorkin (star of TLC’s “Candy Queen”), events and production design expert Zac Hartog, and retail veteran John Goodman. Candytopia has drawn long lines and sold-out crowds during its limited run engagements in Santa Monica, New York and San Francisco. In 2019, it has opened in Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul at Mall of America, Dallas and Houston, with additional cities to be announced soon. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit https://www.candytopia.com



Women in Wine at Del Friscos

March 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse Hosts

Women in Wine Dinner with Pride Mountain Vineyards

Special Event to Take Place on Thursday, March 21 to Celebrate International Women’s Month

HOUSTON – (March 15, 2019) – In recognition of International Women’s Month, award-winning Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in the Galleria (5061 Westheimer Road, Suite 8060) will host a “Women in Wine” dinner on Thursday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m. The event – which is open to the public with a reservation – will feature an exclusive, five-course menu to complement an impressive selection of wines from one of the most noteworthy female winemakers, Sally Johnson from Pride Mountain Vineyards.

The evening’s fare will feature such dishes as Day Boat Sea Scallop Crudo, Black Truffle Gnocchi,  Rosewood (Texas) Wagyu Striploin and more. Guests can also expect a collection of perfectly paired wine varietals from Viognier to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

“We are thrilled to welcome our guests for a fine dining experience unlike any other, indulging in top-rated wines presented by one of the most influential winemakers in the county,” said Patrick Crow, general manager of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse in Houston. “The evening promises to be an unforgettable celebration filled with expertly paired flavors – a toast to women in wine with our partners at Pride Mountain Vineyards!”

Founded by Jim and Carolyn Pride in 1990, Pride Mountain Vineyards remains family owned and run with the couples’ two children, Suzanne and Steve, as co-owners. The vineyard is located on 235 acres in both Sonoma and Napa Counties, high on the spine of the Mayacamas mountains near the town of St. Helena, Calif. It is recognized as one of the “world’s greatest wine estates,” with only 22 other California wineries earning this distinction. Pride wines have appeared numerous times on Wine Spectator’s “Top 100 Wine of the World” list and have been served at the White House more than 30 times over the past 20 years.

Space is limited for this special event, to reserve your place today, visit https://delfriscos.com/promotions/women-in-wine-march-21/ or call 713-355-2600.

Five Course Wine Dinner Menu:

Passed Appetizers

Fontina Arancini

Yellowfin Tuna Nicoise

Prosciutto & Black Mission Fig Crostini

2016 Pride Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay Napa Valley

            First Course

Day Boat Sea Scallop Crudo

2017 Pride Mountain Vineyards Viognier Sonoma County

Second Course

Black Truffle Gnocchi

2016 Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot Napa Valleys

Third Course

Rosewood Wagyu Striploin

2015 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa/Sonoma County

2015 Pride Mountain Vineyards “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa/Sonoma Country

Fourth Course

Grilled Pineapple and Flambe Banana

Pride Mountain Vineyards Mistelle De Viognier Sonoma County NV

WHEN:             Thursday, March 21, 2019 6:30 p.m.

WHERE:           Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

5061 Westheimer

            Houston, TX 77027

                                      Reservations are required: 713-355-2600

COST:               $195 per person + tax and gratuity

New Kid on the Block and Tackle

One gray winter Sunday night in the 1960s I was working at a New York City newspaper when a colleague came across the city room holding a sheet of paper. He said to me, “You think we ought to run these scores?” They were the results of that afternoon’s games played by something called the American Football League. Most New Yorkers had never heard of the AFL, or even their own team, the New York Titans, which in 1963 became the Jets. The story goes that the AFL came about because Lamar Hunt of Dallas, son of H.L. Hunt, wanted a National Football League team in his town, but was turned down. So in 1959 he called up the richest person he knew in a number of cities and asked if they would put up $25,000 for a franchise — Barron Hilton in Los Angeles, Bud Adams in Houston, and so on.

For years the AFL played before sparse crowds in lousy stadiums until it got big enough, and competitive enough, to merge with the NFL. With the addition of several new franchises, today the NFL is a billion-dollar operation. But wait. Are ya ready for even more football? There is a new pro football league shaping up, and games may be played at a high school stadium near you, or maybe Houston has finally found a use for the Astrodome. Yes, here we go again, with high hopes, lots of money invested by armatures who haven’t the foggiest idea of what they are doing. Then again, that 25K the AFL owners spent to own a team is today worth maybe a hundred thousand or so.

The new league is called the Alliance of American Football, and already has a TV contract with CBS. Plans are for the AAF not to compete with the NFL, but to give fans spring games. The season begins play Feb. 9, 2019, six days after Super Bowl LII in Atlanta. The founders describe the league as “a feeder system for the NFL,” rather like the role minor league baseball plays with its not ready for prime time players. The league will consist of eight teams, although all the teams won’t be introduced until next month. So far Orlando, with Steve Spurrier as head coach, and Atlanta, with the infamous Michael Vick as a coach, have been assigned a franchise. In order to make the game faster and fan-friendly, there will be some rule differences from the NFL. The AAF is eliminating one of the most dangerous parts of football – kickoffs. Teams will start on their own 25-yard line after a score and at the start of each half. This means no onside kicks, but instead, the team that scores a touchdown gets the ball on its 35 in a 4th-and-10 situation. There will also be no extra points in the AAF as teams will be forced to go for a 2-point conversion.

Starting a new pro football league is monetarily suicidal. Remember Vince McMahon and his XFL league? It lasted one season, although McMahon will try again in 2020. The NFL is by far the nation’s most popular pro sport, but it has taken a hit the last two seasons. There was, and still is, the dispute over players taking a knee during the national anthem. TV ratings have dropped the last two seasons. Concussions have become a big problem. And there is overexposure with games on Saturdays after the colleges have taken a recess until the bowl games, Sunday afternoons and nights, Monday nights and now on Thursdays. For some fans, a saturation point has been reached.

At this point you are thinking, “If there’s gonna be a new football league, Houston should be at the table.” Well, the Bayou City has tried it before. There have been the Houston Texans in the World Football League. They moved to Louisiana to become the Shreveport Steamer. Over the years, in pro football, Houston has had the Oilers, Gamblers, Terror/Thunderbears, Outlaws, Marshals, Wild Riders, Texas Cyclones, Lightning and Stallions. Elsewhere in Texas, there were the San Antonio Texans in — of all things — the Canadian Football League. (Incidentally, on March 2, 2000, the new Houston franchise announced that the team name search had been narrowed down to five choices: Apollos, Bobcats, Stallions, Texans, and Wildcatters. Bobcats?) Then there were the Dallas Texans of the NFL, and therein lies a story. It was the 1952 season and the NFL put a franchise in Dallas, the Texans. One sports historian wrote: “The team is considered one of the worst teams in NFL history, both on (lowest franchise winning percentage) and off the field.” It lasted one season, went 1-11, and moved in mid-season to Hershey, Penn., then to Akron, Ohio. Remember that story the next time a Cowboy fan brings up football.

When the previously mentioned Lamar Hunt created the AFL, he named his team — what else? — the Dallas Texans. At that point the NFL decided Dallas deserved an NFL franchise after all. What a sudden change of heart. So Big D had two pro football teams. Eventually, Hunt moved his team to Kansas City where they became the Chiefs because the “Texans” handle didn’t do too well. Keeping that name would have been as bad as when Bud Adams moved the Oilers to Nashville and became the Nashville Oilers, then changed it to Titans, a totally meaningless handle. Adams probably felt safer in Nashville, since he was greatly disliked in Houston. When he announced the move, there was a rally in front of City Hall demanding that the Oilers stay put. Of a metropolitan population of several million, 100 people showed up. Adams once got in a fist fight at the Shamrock Hotel bar with Houston Post sportswriter Jack Gallagher. Later, someone told Jack, “Forget it. Adams is his own worst enemy.” Jack replied, “Not as long as I’m alive.”

Ashby is a fan at ashby2@comcast.net 

Test the Waters

April 23, 2018 by  
Filed under Travel Blog, Uncategorized

by Marion Jacob

Perched on the majestic Caribbean shores of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, the Mayakoba Resort offers four exclusive luxury hotels surrounded by natural forests full of wildlife, freshwater lagoons and crystalline beaches. The newest is the long-awaited Andaz Mayakoba-Riviera Maya, a welcome addition to round out this spectacular master-planned retreat.

Mayakoba—which literally means “village of water”—prides itself on sustainability and protecting the natural environment, while creating a luxurious escape to what feels like another world. Wake up to bird calls from more than 200 species, and experience nature right from your room.

Get Appointed

Stay in the presidential suite at the Andaz, enveloped in tropical scenes of serene lagoons and lush greenery, or behold the Fairmont’s hypnotic waterfront views and superbly cultivated gardens. Lose yourself in the Rosewood’s ultra-comfort service and white-sand beaches, or rent a villa at the Banyan Tree with your own private plunge pool and garden terrace.

The Andaz Lobby.

Get Busy

Start off the day with a farm-to-table breakfast buffet at Cocina Milagro at the Andaz, overlooking the pool, or enjoy a good book while swinging in one of the hanging-egg wicker chairs. Set up tee time at El Camaleón, a world-class golf course designed by PGA legend Greg Norman and home to the PGA Tour OHL Classic.

Like a chameleon, the surrounding vistas change from mangroves and cenotes to sand dunes and white beaches. Take a ride in a golf cart tram through the winding roads of the exotic forests to El Pueblito, El Corazón de Mayakoba (the Heart of Mayakoba). Here, you can shop at boutiques filled with handmade textiles and pottery, take a cooking class at El Pueblito Cooking School or eat lunch at La Fondita. In between meals, enjoy a refreshing fruity drink at Bang Teng Thai or coffee at El Cafecito. On Sundays, they hold Mass at Santa Cruz Chapel, which is followed by the weekly farmers’ market.

Mayakoba offers a variety of activities, including hiking and biking through meandering nature trails, bird watching for those rare and unique species, honing your archery skills on the four-target range, or taking a guided kayak tour through the Mayakoba waterways.

A boat in the lagoon.

Get Fed

You can also take a leisurely tour of the entire resort via the Mayakoba Connection ferry service. Stop by each of the hotels to enjoy a meal and live music from the myriad restaurant options: tasty tostadas and tequila from Olla Ceviche at Andaz; authentic Thai cuisine from Saffron at the Banyan Tree; sushi from Agave Azul at the Rosewood; or golf club standbys and Latin wines at Koba on El Camaleón.

Get Rejuvenated

The 24-hour butler service at the Rosewood, with personalized room service and housekeeping, is the ultimate way to relax. Use the Rosewood Mayakoba app to request services for those special moments. Think: a romantic bubble bath, an intimate dinner or even a helicopter ride over the Kulkulcan Pyramid in Chichen Itza.

The private villas at the banyan tree.

For rejuvenation and spiritual healing, opt for treatments rooted in ancient Mayan rituals, such as the Mayan Clay Purification treatment at Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont, or a fresh honey body scrub and massage at the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa. The spa at the Andaz has six treatment rooms and two hydrotherapy areas dedicated to your relaxation, as well as a full-service salon to keep you looking as great as you feel.

College Dropout

Like you, I stay awake at night worrying about the Electoral College. It doesn’t have much of a football team, but it does choose our presidents, no matter which candidate the American voters prefer. As we all know, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 2.9 million votes, even counting Trump’s write-in ballots from Russia. Al Gore got 540,000 more votes than George W. “Hanging Chad” Bush. In each case, it was not the popular vote, but it was the Electoral College vote that counted.

And Texas may start counting, too, finally. Federal lawsuits filed in Texas and three other states are seeking to end the winner-take-all system that awards every electoral vote from that state to the winning presidential candidate. The lawsuits argue that the winner-take-all system violates voting rights by discarding ballots cast for losing candidates. This is a two-party argument: Democrat voters in the GOP strongholds of Texas and South Carolina, and Republicans in Democratic California and Massachusetts have no say in picking their president. So if you voted for Hillary in Texas, your vote didn’t count, thus the lawsuit. In Texas’ case, it wasn’t state officials who filed the suits. They are perfectly happy with the current system. Indeed, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will defend the state’s electoral-vote system, which was filed in San Antonio federal court in late February. Your tax dollars at work.

A bit of background: In 1787, the Founding Fathers drafted the U.S. Constitution, and stuck in the Electoral College (Article II, section 1.) as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote. Another version is they decided the average citizen wasn’t erudite enough to elect a president without a filtering process. Each state receives a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. senators (two in each state) plus the number of its U.S. representatives, which varies according to the state’s population. In the 2016 presidential election, California had the most with 55 electoral votes; other less populated states, such as Vermont, had three. Texas had 38 votes, and the 2020 census should give us two or three more.

You just thought we choose our President on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. No, on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, (still with me?) the electors meet in their respective state capitals to officially cast their votes for President and Vice President. These votes are then sealed and sent to the president of the Senate, who on Jan. 6 opens and reads the votes before both houses of Congress. Who or what exactly is the Electoral College? It consists of 538 electors – Washington D.C. gets three. A majority of 270 votes is required to elect the President. The winner is sworn into office at high noon on Jan. 20 before the largest crowd ever gathered anywhere. Four presidents have been elected by the Electoral College after losing the popular vote. As we have seen, two of them won in recent years.

Forty-eight states have the winner-take-all system. Maine and Nebraska have a variation of “proportional representation” that can result in a split of their electors between the candidates, which seems a lot fairer than what we have now. As for Texans: “Everyone in Texas is being ignored, because Texas just doesn’t matter to the presidential election,” said Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard University law professor who was a leading organizer of the legal effort. Almost 3.88 million Texans voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Not a single vote counted. Most black and Latino voters, who make up more than 40 percent of the Texas electorate, have not had one electoral vote cast for their preferred candidate in the past four decades. (In the 1932 election, Franklin D. Roosevelt gathered all of Texas’ electoral votes with 88 percent of the popular vote. In 1992, George H.W. Bush did the same with only 40.5 percent in a three-way race against Democrat Bill Clinton and independent Ross Perot.)

Being a solidly red state means presidential candidates don’t bother to campaign in Texas, although they come here for money. Indeed, GOP candidates consider Texas their ATM. If we give a lot of money, maybe one of us will get appointed to a top position – like Secretary of State. The candidates spend their time and funds in battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where there are a lot of Electoral College votes, as I was telling President Hillary.

The only time any money came back to Texas was in 2008 when Hillary and Barack Obama were both seeking the Democratic nomination for President. The Texas campaign was tough and mystifying to outsiders. It’s hard for missionaries to grasp the difficulties of running a state-wide campaign here. We are expensive. Texas is separated into 20 media markets, the most of any state. Former Texas Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, who was state director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008, told The New York Times, “It’s like running a national campaign. There are no similarities between Amarillo and Brownsville and Beaumont and Texarkana and El Paso and Austin and Houston and Dallas. These are very separate demographic groups with very diverse interests.” The primary election led to the Texas Two-Step with voting, caucuses, and late-night confusion.

If Texas went to a proportional vote, like Maine and Nebraska, presidential candidates would be forced to come here to campaign, hoping to get a slice of our big-delegate pie. That means renting hotel ballrooms and suites, cars, cops, caterers, lots of ads on TV, radio and newspapers. More importantly, everyone’s vote would count. We would no longer be spectators in the sport of government. This would mean amending the Constitution, but if Americans can change the charter to prohibit alcohol and give 18-to 21-year- olds the right to vote (they still don’t), we can drop out of college. So I can get some sleep.

Ashby is electable at ashby2@comcast.net

A River Runs Through It

February 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Hot Button / Lynn Ashby, Uncategorized

SAN ANTONIO – Here we are, morning at an outdoor café along the town’s River Walk. The sky is blue, the temperature is 75, the flowers are in bloom and, right on key, here come both a barge full of tourists and a waiter with my Bloody Mary. Just like Buffalo Bayou. Well, not exactly, but how many times have you heard totally clueless residents or out-of-towners say, “Why can’t Buffalo Bayou be turned into something like San Antonio’s River Walk?” Well, why can’t the Astrodome be turned into the world’s largest sauna? Just open the doors in August. Why can’t the Texans stay healthy? The easy answer is simply: Harvey, but that 500-year flood only hits every three years, right?

Let’s start here in San Antonio, or Santone. The river got here before the town. San Antonio’s history began in May of 1718 with the founding of the San Antonio de Béxar Presidio and Mission San Antonio de Valero (now the Alamo) so the city is now celebrating its 300th birthday. For the next couple of centuries the river was considered a dumping ground. If you look at some of the older building along here you will see fire escapes, loading docks and the butt-end of structures. Indeed, in the 1920s the manager of the Plaza Hotel asked the city if it couldn’t do something about “that dirty little river.” In 1929, San Antonio architect Robert H.H. Hugman developed plans for the river area including stone walkways, bridges, staircases and the vision of retail development. Nothing happened. Then the Great Depression came along, the WPA found unemployed workers willing to lay stone for starvation wages, and Bingo! The 1968 HemisFair nudged more walkways, bridges and tourists. Since then Santone has been adding on and extended the river because every hotel and restaurant wants to advertise “on the River Walk.”

The San Antonio River Walk.

A few items of interest, maybe. Santone is now the seventh-largest city in the country. (Texas is the only state having three biggest cities in the top 10, with Austin coming on strong.) The minor league San Antonio Missions are the only original member still in the Texas League. (That may change.) The headwaters of the San Antonio River are found at the Blue Hole, a natural artesian spring on the University of the Incarnate Word campus near the downtown. San Antonio is called Military City USA because for almost 300 years soldiers and, later, airmen were stationed here. If you were a career soldier or airman, somewhere along the line you were stationed here. Shake any tree and a retired general will fall out. The list of former military residents includes Robert E. Lee, Black Jack Pershing and a young lieutenant named Dwight Eisenhower, who met his future wife here. Ike also coached a college football team. Gen Douglas MacArthur went to high school in San Antonio at the West Texas Military Academy. Needless to say, MacArthur was the class valedictorian.

What kind of cash cow is this “dirty little river?” Houston, read with jealousy the following: A 2014 study found that the River Walk attracted about 9.3 million non-resident visitors whose main reason for coming to the area was to visit the River Walk. Locals made about 2.2 million trips to the River Walk resulting in a total of about 11.5 million visitors. These non-resident visitors spend about $2.4 billion each year, which supports more than 31,000 jobs. These workers earn incomes and benefits of over $1 billion. The economic impact is about $3.1 billion per year. This economic activity results in about $173 million flowing to various state and local government agencies, and almost $201 million in revenues being generated for the federal government. That’s a lot of money for this sleepy river village. But how do they keep it from flooding? Back in the 1920s, like Houston, Santone flooded awfully. Finally a series of dams and locks regulated the water level. However, the bottom depth varies, so if some Saturday night drunk falls into the river, she may be up to her waist, or 30 feet down.

This water level is obviously one of the major drawbacks for the aptly named Bayou City. After Houston’s 1920 and 1930 floods, like San Antonio, plans were made and two dams — Addicks and Barker — were built west of the city to prevent flooding. (Quit laughing.) Here’s a quick overview for real estate brokers who are using glass bottom boats. Buffalo Bayou rises west of Katy near the Waller County line in extreme northern Fort Bend County and flows 65 miles east, across southern Harris County, to its mouth on the San Jacinto River. It goes through some of the most expensive neighborhoods and winds through the downtown. You couldn’t ask for a better location for lazy boat rides, kayaking and waterside restaurants. But over the years the bayou became neglected, polluted (there used to be a boating event called the Reekin’ Regatta). In recent years some good citizens have tried to fix up the banks with jogging paths and trees, bushes, etc. But it still ain’t no River Walk.

OK, that’s the problem, what’s the solution? First, we need a major tourist attraction to bring visitors to our bayou. I suggest we buy, or at least rent, the Alamo. Hey, San Antonio has been talking a good fight for decades about how the city is going to upgrade the Alamo Plaza, get rid of the Bible thumpers and the sleaze shops. All hat and no cattle. So Houston moves in and takes charge. Then we copy San Antonio’s flood plans, with docks and locks. Houston sent men to the moon, so don’t tell me we can’t figure out how to put in a few flood-free bars and cafes. The main point is that we don’t consult with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, unless you want that riverside café in your den.

Ashby deposits at the Left Bank of the Bayou at ashby2@comcast.net

Next Page »