The Rich Life On a Budget

Hotel Valencia Santana Row

Welcome to Rich Life Travel Friday! This week, I am taking you to Hotel Valencia Santana Row, located in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Jose, California.

San Jose is less than a three-hour drive from where I live in Sonoma Valley. It’s the largest city in Northern California and known for its diverse population, its many industries and most notably, for its location in Silicon Valley.

It’s also known for its world-renown shopping, dining and entertainment district, Santana Row.

In the many years that I have lived in the San Fracisco Bay Area, I had never visited Santana Row. Not even when I attended BlogHer ’14 in San Jose last summer. While visiting Santana Row was high on my list of things to do and see while I was there, I just didn’t have enough time during the conference.

When I was invited to review Hotel Valencia Santana Row, the only hotel located at Santana Row, I jumped at the chance! Completed in 2002, Santana Row boasts over 70 shops, dozens of eateries, both casual and fine dining, and lots of entertainment.

My husband and I took off for San Jose early in the morning and arrived well before lunchtime. We were both excited to experience the hotel’s Wine Weekend Getaway!


We were greeted by the friendly and helpful front desk staff at Hotel Valencia. After we registered, we took a look around the hotel’s lobby, located on the third floor of the building. We came upon this stunning patio area, located between Citrus, one of two restaurants at Hotel Valencia, and VBar, their super cool lounge. Hotel Valencia has 215 guest rooms, wedding and corporate event facilities, a fabulous pool that is open all year long, complimentary wi-fi, and a fitness center. Hotel Valencia has received many accolades. Recently, U.S. News & World Reports rated Hotel Valencia as one of the best in the USA. I can see why!



The patio area was the ideal spot for us to take some artsy photos like this one with the reflection of the hotel in the fountain. It’s such a stunning place to sit and relax.


At night, the fireplace is roaring, creating a romantic ambiance for those who want to enjoy a drink outside and get cozy.


After our visit to the patio area, we went back inside to the lobby. A darling picnic basket and blanket were waiting for us. As part of the Wine Weekend Getaway Package, we were treated to a picnic, filled with sandwiches, cookies, chocolate, fresh fruit and more. We were also given passes to several area wineries. Having never been to a winery in this region, we were excited to do a little exploring. We looked at several wineries online and ultimately decided on Loma Prieta Winery, mainly because of its location, perched high in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


I was ready for our picnic with lots of layers. It was such a sunny day but it also was January – the middle of winter. A light trench and scarf came in handy in the shade, but it was practically t-shirt weather in the sun!


Loma Prieta Winery is a relaxed, friendly and casual place. A spacious patio looks out over a hilly vineyard and the Pacific Coast. We could just make out Monterey and Carmel past the green mountains.


We enjoyed some of Loma Preita Winery’s sparkling wine while we ate our lunch. It was such a gorgeous winter day!


After our visit to Loma Preita Winery, we headed back to the hotel. I was chomping at the bit to see our room, always my favorite part of any hotel review. It did not disappoint! The Deluxe Balcony King Room was spacious and had plenty of natural light.


Our room was decorated beautifully. It had a modern feel with lots of European charm. It wasn’t overly decorated but not sparse either. I found it to be very comfortable and appreciated how open and spacious the room was.


My very favorite aspect of our room was the window – that opened – looking out over the pool. The chic orange cushions, plants and flowers in urns, and a view of the city make this a pool I want to return to when the temperatures rise. We were given a bottle of sparkling wine, part of the Wine Weekend Getaway Package offered at Hotel Valencia, and enjoyed some of it while we got settled in our room.


French doors opened out onto a small balcony creating such an open feel. We could watch the people stroll the sidewalks down below or look out over the tall buildings and off into the distance. The balcony added to the romantic ambiance and charm of our room.


Santana Row is very close to Silicon Valley. We heard from the locals that it’s not usual to see luxury cars like these Lamborghinis we spied on from our balcony.


I like the architecture and overall feel of Santana Row and Hotel Valencia. I felt like I was in a European city, but a newly built European city. It was somewhat like a fantasy world of pretty things, delicious food, and lots and lots of luxury.


Speaking of luxury, one of my favorite ways to relax and luxuriate is by soaking in an oversized tub. Our tub at home is standard sized and with my height, I don’t really get to fully relax in it. The tub at Hotel Valencia was nice and big and it had a large window next to it. I could tilt the shutters in such a way that I could look out onto the pool area, but no one could see in.


I was very impressed with the bathroom – so large and quite lovely!


One pet peeve of mine, that I experience often while traveling, is the lack of bathroom counter space. It takes loads of products and tools to get me ready for the day and for bedtime at night. I don’t like having to dig around in bags looking for one item and would rather have all my things handy on the counter. Hotel Valencia wins the prize for best bathroom counter space. This area was separate from the sink on the other side of the bathroom. No need to share my counter space with Bill. I am sure he enjoyed that just as much as I did!


After unpacking and changing clothes, we left our room to check out Santana Row. But first we stopped off to see the 7th floor where there is a large outdoor lounge area that was closed for service for the season while we were there, but still accessible to visit.


The balcony overlooks Santana Row and the city of San Jose. It was a lovely place for us to be alone and watch the sun set. And why not take a selfie when the lighting is just right?


There are so many shopping opportunities at Santana Row. Kate Spade is just steps from Hotel Valencia. Erika, a sales associate at Kate Spade, was so friendly and helpful. She helped me find a gift for Malia and showed me the Kate Spade bag I have had my eye on for a few months. I convinced Bill that it would make the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.


Later that evening, after going back to the room to get ready for dinner, we met Kim of Northern California Style and her husband, Max, at the hotel’s lounge, VBar.


Kim and Max live in Los Gatos, a quaint little town just outside of San Jose. It was great to see Kim in person again. We haven’t had a chance to get together since BlogHer last summer.

We decided to dine at Left Bank, a very charming French restaurant, just a short walk from Hotel Valencia. We had great food and fun conversations in a lively and very French atmosphere.


The next morning, after a peaceful night’s sleep in a very comfy bed, we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast at Citrus, then went for a brisk early morning walk around Santana Row. It was so quiet compared to the buzz and energy of the day before.


Later that morning, we packed up our bags and headed home after our romantic, pre-Valentine’s Day getaway to Hotel Valencia Santana Row. I am still thinking about spending time at this pool when it warms up and of course, all that great shopping and food. While visiting Hotel Valencia is a wonderful destination for a romantic getaway, it would also be fun place to visit with a group of girlfriends. Who’s up for that?


Visit Hotel Valencia Santana Row’s website for more information or to book your Wine Weekend Getaway. It’s the ideal romantic gift to give each other for Valentine’s Day!

Make it a rich day!



Disclosure: Our stay at Hotel Valencia Santana Row to review their Wine Weekend Getaway Package was complimentary, as was our tasting at Loma Prieta Winery. We paid for all incidentals and meals outside the hotel. The opinions expressed here are my own, as always. 

10 Easy Looks with 1 Basic Foundation

I knew it was time to break out of my latest fashion rut of a big sweater, rolled up skinny jeans and ankle booties when a friend told me she was meeting me for lunch dressed like “the rich life” and showed up wearing that very outfit.

While the jeans-sweater-bootie combination will stay on my style rotation, I decided I was ready to stretch beyond the predictable and try something new and something feminine that didn’t involve jeans.

To me, new sometimes means complicated and I am not a fan of complicated. So I came up with a way to create several outfits – that don’t include jeans – using what I call a Basic Foundation, then adding other clothes, footwear and accessories to create new looks. This has been my go-to method for creating a variety of outfits ranging from dressy to casual these last few weeks.

I started with my Basic Foundation outfit – a black scoop-neck tee by J. Crew, a black pull-on knit skirt by Stella Carakasi and black tights – then added jackets, coats, sweaters, scarves, jewelry and a variety of footwear to come up with 10 Easy Looks with 1 Basic Foundation.


#1 Add a Poncho

Casey of Mason Street Designs named these sweaters Luxe Pullover Wraps, but they are also ponchos – very luxurious, versatile and comfortable ponchos. I have two and I love them – one in Light Heather Gray and one in Taupe. I like to accessorize my ponchos with a long necklace and sometimes, if it’s cold out, I will wrap a black pashmina a couple times around my neck.  My gorgeous leather tote is by Adora.


#2 Dress it Up

Put on a dressy jacket, your fanciest shoes, and some blingy jewelry and grab an evening bag on the way out the door and you’ve got an evening look that starts with a Basic Foundation. This brocade coat was one of my luckier consignment finds. Shoes from Sole Society, necklace from a boutique in Sonoma and bag from Goodwill.


#3 Wear a Short Jacket 

Adding a short jacket is a simple way to add color, texture, pattern or all three to a Basic Foundation. I grabbed this great kimono style jacket, bought a couple of years ago on consignment, and accessorized with my black Adora bag and Evil Eye necklace from Michal Golan.


#4 Wear a Cape

I cozied up with my camel colored Royal Alpaca cape from Montecristi Panama Hat Company of Napa Valley and added the medallion necklace I wore in #2 and my very old Louis Vuitton Alma bag. This outfit says easy luxury to me.


#5 Layer with a Sweater

I layered my Basic Foundation with one of my favorite  Stella Carakasi sweaters, the Sublime Sweater. I love that I can create a totally different fall or winter look just by pulling a sweater over my head!


 #6 Tie on a Large Scarf 

This vibrant plaid, extra large tissue-weight scarf is one of my favorites. I bought on a whim at a boutique in Sonoma a few years ago. For this look, I folded the scarf in half into a triangle shape and tied it around my shoulders. I think it took all of 90 seconds! I brought out the cobalt blue in the scarf with my blue Adora bag.


 #7 Wear a Long Sweater Vest 

This Stella Carakasi Go-Getter Vest really gets a work out. I wore it all summer long, and now I am wearing it frequently with my Basic Foundation. I styled this look with my new Kate Spade Cedar Street Elissa tote, an early Valentine’s Day gift from my husband,  a tassel necklace by Vince Camuto (similar) and Boden booties.


#8 Edge it Up

Nothing says edgy better than leather clothing and accessories. I wore my very favorite leather jacket that I bought in San Gimignano, Italy with La Canadienne combat boots and a Kenneth Cole bag (very old). My necklace was a gift from Tamera Beardsley. I feel very powerful in this outfit.


#9 Dress it Down

Throw on a jean jacket, cozy scarf (this one’s by Madewell) and some oxfords for a casual, comfortable look, ideal for running errands or heading to a coffee shop to read or meet a friend.


#10 Go for Boho

I love boho style, it’s so casual and laid back. I added a long sweater coat by Free People (similar) to my Basic Foundation and topped it off with a boho hat from Montecristi Panama Hat Company of Napa Valley. I carried my black Adora bag and accessorized with long beaded necklace from La Brocante in Sonoma.


Can you believe how easy that was?

I created 10 completely different outfits using just 1 basic foundation and minimal effort!


A reminder that How I Wear My: Long Necklace is coming up fast. Submit a photo of you in your long necklace look (600 pix wide for best resolution) along with a brief description of your outfit to by February 2nd. Visit the How I Wear My page for more information.

How I Wear My Badge

You may remember that I attended the inaugural G3 Women’s Conference last fall. I loved it so much, I am attending the next one coming up in March. Starting Monday, January 26th, the founders are conducting a contest to win a general admission ticket, valued at $699! Visit the G3 Win a Ticket page for details on how to enter (they’ll be up first thing Monday morning) and like their Facebook page to stay up to date with all things G3. Hope to see you there!


 I’m linking up with Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.



Make it a rich day!