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Queens Chronicle

Mother’s Day gift and travel guide

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Posted: Monday, May 5, 2014 4:43 pm | Updated: 4:50 pm, Mon May 5, 2014.

It is impossible to express one’s love for the woman who raised us and made us who we are today through one day of recognition and a gift. Nonetheless we should all put a little thought into a thank you even though mom will probably say that it’s not necessary.

Woodside native Jim McCann started what has become the most famous name in the floral industry, 1800Flowers, in 1971. Back then the idea of purchasing floral arrangements through a toll-free phone call was revolutionary. Over the years, McCann has expanded his business to include all kinds of gift baskets.

Harry & David’s is known for its sweet confection gift baskets but the company also has a fruit-of-the-month club where you can buy a membership for mom.

Jewelry can run the gamut in price and quality. Long Island jewelry designer Nancy Rosen has been working with Bravo’s “Housewives” franchise for years and her Housewives Jewelry website has numerous offerings. She combines style with a sense of humor with her OC Elegance Statement Necklace that contains Swarovski Crystals. Nancy dubs this admittedly over-the-top look as the perfect present for a mom “who wants to look as if she is dripping in jewelry.”

You can also try reasontobepretty.com for a range of apparel and accessories. Livewordly.com and AutismSpeaks.org enable you to give donations to charitable causes as you shop.

Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Kate Young are celebrities who have lent their names and all claim that they were in on the design process to clothing and jewelry lines that are on sale at Kohl’s, Kmart and Target, respectively.

There are more options than ever for buying stylish jewelry pieces without breaking the bank. Matterial Fix (yes, there are 2 t’s), Freida Rothman, Lia Sophia, Forever Brilliant, Lulu Avenue, Jewel Be Mine and Liliro all offer pendants, earrings, and bracelets for every budget. Article 22 has an interesting twist on the old slogan, “Make love, not war” as they use the scrap from old military weapons for their jewelry.

If you are going to buy mom jewelry, be sure to pick up a can of Colle, (colleproducts.com), a cleaning mousse that keeps valuables from getting tarnished by age.

Watches are the most popular form of jewelry and the great news is that companies as Timex, Fossil, Dakota, and Long Island City’s own Armitron produce quality timepieces for under $75 that look as if they cost three times that amount. If you are willing to spend more to get a high-quality timepiece, the House of Horology (hohwatches.com), founded by Forest Hills High School alum Lawrence Leyderman (hohwatches.com), has watches that rival Rolex and Tag Heuer but have a price that is not even half of those respected high-end brands but are every bit as good.

Handbags are always popular. Olivia & Joy and Edie Parker both make fine clutches, satchels and totes. Vera Bradley is known for its lively cloth pocketbooks and weekend duffels. Very few of us can afford a Rolls-Royce but the legendary British company makes a number of accessories including sleek leather travel bags. Famed clothing designers Isaac Mizrachi and Jonathan Adler also make high-end tote bags.

Burlington is best known for selling clothing at discount prices but it also sells handbags and jewelry at reasonable prices.

There is no shortage of perfumes on the market but choosing the right one is not easy. Sephora, the renowned beauty products retailer, has a gift box that the company smartly calls “Favorites” that contains perfumes from Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. Former Jackson Heights resident Tara Durkan started a fragrance company in L.A., Dossage, and Dossage 8 for Her is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Chanel No. 5. Lavanila and Soap & Paper are two other companies that have a wide array of fragrances.

For those who value celebrity product endorsements, Beyonce, who made the cover of the “TIME Magazine 100 Most Influential People” issue has created a perfume called RISE. Sephora is offering a Dreams Fragrance Sampler.

If you have money to burn on perfume, a 100 ml bottle of Bond No. 9 NYC perfume retails in the $500-$600 range.

There was a time when one might feel self-conscious using any kind of skin care product. Not anymore. These days folks of all ages are using anti-wrinkle cremes and anti-aging serums.

There is no shortage of quality producers of these products and that has led to competitive pricing in a very upscale industry. Avon’s Anew Clinical Infinite Lift Targeting Contouring Serum, Josie Maran Aragon Infinity Lip & Cheeky Creamy Oil, Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, and Nude Skincare Essential Skin Radiance Kit are mouthfuls to say or write but they all correct a variety of dermatological problems. Dr. Brandt Skin Care products, founded by New York dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt, have a wide array of highly regarded moisturizers and facial cleansers.

In a similar vein, Korres White Grape Shower Gel and Espa Soothing Bath Oils help remove dead skin cells when you are showering.

For those who find comfort in the term “organic,” an Australian company, Nvey Eco, makes a full line of cosmetics free of any harmful chemicals.

BMR, Vbeaute, Clarins, Turo, Tilth Beauty, Deremelect, Glo Minerals, RejuveMD, Laura Mercier, Nyakio, ReVive, and Shiseido are also highly regarded companies that make quality dermatological products but they can be pricy.

Mineral Fusion is quietly rivaling Avon, Maybelline, and Estee Lauder as a full-service manufacturer of beauty products as it makes its own line of lipsticks, eye shadow, mascara, moisturizers, body lotions and shampoos — MineralFusion.com, beauty.com and luvocracy.com.

Hair products are a tricky purchase because nearly everyone is particular about what they want to use on or for their scalp. Conair, Drybar, and Rusk make hair dryer and curling irons that make hair look fuller as do shampoos as Grande Hair Nutra Peptide, Austin Kyle and Paul Brown.

Summer is coming and that means so is sandals season. Ocean Minded and Havaianas both make sandals that can be worn as part of everyday fashion as well as on the beach. The same can be said for those durable clogs made by Crocs or the stylish, durable as well as American-made spa shoes produced by Oka-B.

The arrival of warmer days means that the sun is out for more hours and that its rays are quite direct. Coola, Kiss My Face, Coppertone and Dr. Brandt all make sunscreens with high SPF counts that maximize skin protection.

Sunglasses are also a must to prevent damage ocular damage. Mom will surely love fashionable Carrera shades. Newcomers as Flutter, Shauns, ICU, Zeal, and Studio S (a private line for Sears department stores) also make fashionable eyewear at a fraction of the price of the bigger names in the optical industry.

Artwork makes for creative gifts. The MoMa Design Store sells prints, sculptures, and products such as dining ware and decorative clocks that can double as art. A new company called Grillie makes offbeat ornaments that can be attached to the grill of a car. Café Press is a company which can make mom a work of art by putting her likeness on T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, and even a Monopoly game board.

Cooking is a form of art to man y and if your mother loves to be in the kitchen, Sur La Table and Crate & Barrel have every type of cookware imaginable.

Staying in shape is important for everyone. US Polo Association, Everlast, and Ryka all make quality workout attire that is also very fashionable. Ryka is one of the few athletic shoe companies that makes running shoes and other types of sneakers exclusively for women.

Putting on a Luxor Linens Egyptian cotton bathrobe and relaxing after a shower is a perfect way to reward yourself for after a hard day.

If you still need more help in looking for a gift, by all means go to the websites of such online retailers as LXR & Company, Charming Charlie, Amazon, HSN, QVC, and Ideeli.

A lot of older mothers are technophobes and know little or nothing about things that a lot of us take for granted such as the internet and email. If you’re afraid that your mom would be intimidated by a desktop or laptop computer then start her off with an inexpensive tablet such as an Amazon Kindle Fire, Radio Shack Stealth Pro Android, or ones from Acer or Lenovo.

Every mother deserves pampering combined with a change of scenery. There are a number of spa resorts located within a three-hour drive of Queens. Nearby spa resorts are the Spa at Norwich Inn in Connecticut, and for those in a New York State of mind, the Emerson Spa near Woodstock and the Mohonk House in New Paltz.

The Hope Lake Lodge in the Finger Lakes town of Cortland has the Waterfalls Spa and it is located in the heart of New York State’s winery region. Nearly all of the wineries in the area are discounting their vino in May. Then again, if mom is a Jets fan it may pay to wait until late July or early August when the team returns to Cortland for training camp.

The success of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has forced both of Connecticut’s casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, to offer better entertainment, restaurants and spas as well as deals on hotel rooms. The same can be said for Atlantic City. While hipster types will want to flock to the Borgata or the Revel, my guess is that mom will feel more at home at the Trump Taj Mahal. The Taj may not have the bells and whistles of its newer rivals but it’s easier to navigate and has terrific amenities such as a rooftop indoor pool with an outdoor deck to catch rays on a warm day. And yes, it has a spa as well.

If you want to give mom a change of scenery a little farther away from these parts after Mother’s Day here are some ideas.

South Florida hotels are heading into their off-season. The Turnberry Isle in the Aventura section of Miami-Dade County and the nearby Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Broward County both offer heavily discounted golf, spa, food and room packages compared with the December through early April peak season.

Of course when you think of South Florida you think about its gorgeous beaches. You couldn’t blame mom if she just wanted to relax on the sands of a luxury property. In the Palm Beach area, you can’t do better than the Eau Palm Beach, which is located in the town of Manalapan and was previously the Ritz-Carlton. If mom is a golfer or wants to learn the game, the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens is the place to be. The PGA Resort is also known for its fine restaurants.

If mom wants to be treated like a queen in the heart of the Miami Beach action, she can choose between the Ritz-Carlton South Beach, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, and without argument the most famous hotel name in Miami Beach history, the Fontainebleau.

An alternative to staying in the hustle-bustle of Miami Beach, but still having easy access to it, is to try any of the fairly new resorts located five miles north on Collins Avenue in the city of Sunny Isles Beach. Not only is it quieter but it has a neighborhood feel with supermarkets, local stores, restaurants, and public transportation similar to that of Queens. The Aqualina Resort is a top-of-the-line property in Sunny Isles.

Southern California is a great alternative to Florida and it’s generally not anywhere nearly as humid. The Hyatt Regency La Jolla and the 101-year-old Grande Colonial in the village of La Jolla are two of San Diego’s best hotels. The Grande Colonial offers breathtaking views of the sun setting over the Pacific.

Mothers will feel like movie stars if they stay at either of two of the Los Angeles area’s most fabled lodging properties, the Beverly Hills Hotel or the Hotel Bel Air.

You can’t enjoy the beach or pool without having quality swimwear. Jantzen and Nautica are great for basic bathing suits but if you want mom to feel like a celebrity at the resort, Marie France van Dame and Sophia Graydon both sell high-end resort apparel and sleepwear as well.

The tradewinds that grace the United States Virgin Islands serve as a buffer against summer heat and humidity. The Caneel Bay Rosewood Resort, the Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort and the Westin St. John’s Resort offer pristine sandy beaches and the sparkling blue water of the Caribbean Sea.

If you want to get the best bang for your buck for a vacation for mom, you can’t go wrong the Grand Palladium Resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. All meals and beverages are included in the price as is most of the other amenities. Vacations in the Dominican Republic are about half of the cost of neighboring Caribbean getaways. Just as it does with most warm weather spots in our hemisphere, Queens’ own JetBlue offers frequent service to Punta Cana from JFK.

Of course mom can have a lot of fun just staying in our area. The Spirit of New York which docks at Chelsea Piers may not be the Breakaway but its three-hour dinner cruise and cabaret entertainment has made it a popular venue for celebrations of all kinds. World Yacht, located four blocks west of Times Square at Pier 81, also has brunch and dinner cruises.

The Big Apple has no shortage of spas to help mom unwind. Red Door and Oasis Day Spas offer everything from facials to massages at their various New York area locations. The Waldorf-Astoria Towers has the highly regarded Guerlain Spa while a newcomer to Manhattan, the Hyatt Times Square, is home to the Marilyn Monroe Spa.

The warmer weather makes it easier to get around and enjoy New York’s many attractions such as taking a boat ride around town on the Circle Line, going to the Empire State Building Observatory, and visiting our world famous museums such as the Metropolitan, Modern Art (MoMA), Natural History and the Guggenheim. Both CityPASS and its chief competitor, New York Pass sell booklets/cards that will allow mom and a guest access to all of the aforementioned for a price far less than paying for each attraction individually. The trick is that you have a limited amount of time, anywhere from three to nine days, once you get started.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

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