Warning: This is a super long post but it’s a good one!
Birthdays are a huge deal for me. If you’re close to me, I cannot just let any birthday go by with just a “Happy Birthday” and let that be it. If it’s my birthday, I usually want a trip, a party, a dinner or a night out on the town partying. My last birthday was dry as we had just moved to these parts and I just wanted to throw myself a party at home for me and my PIC. But now I know more about our city and its neighbors, I decided that I was going to make my PIC’s (recently passed) birthday special. I spent about two weeks planning and decided to surprise him. His birthday was on a Saturday so on the Friday morning before it, I woke him up and told him to pack his bags for a weekend away. I told him after work, we were going away but I didn’t tell him where or what the plans were.
So all week leading up to his birthday, I acted like we were just going to spend the weekend at home relaxing and then go out for dinner on his birthday night. He was quite ok with that but when I told him to pack his bag and after picking me up from work later that day we were going away, I know that caught him by surprise. I know he was anxious and excited all day long wanting to know where we were going.
After he came to get me from work, I drove to the hotel. Surprise Surprise! With Kimpton hotels being boutique hotels, they strive on excellent service and being “different”. We arrived just in time for the hotel’s hosted wine hour and we each grabbed a complimentary glass of Moscato and took them up to the room with us.
We went up to the hotel room and he, being so pleased, worshipped me (<—I actually wrote that part before all of this happened) but he was very pleased. A week before his birthday (when I had already made the reservations, I asked him “Where would you want to go for your birthday (reasonably)?” and he said “A Kimpton hotel”. If you haven't heard of them, please research. We went to one of their hotels for our honeymoon (Hotel Monaco Alexandria) and boy oh boy did they treat us well. We didn't have a whole lot of money then so we just booked a regular king size room. Did you know at check in they upgraded us to a two level suite (with a jetted super sized tub (Lord help me!), they sent us chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne and gave us vouchers for cocktails that night and breakfast the next day? Geeze I have never been treated so well by a hotel in my life and mind you I have seen (and been in) a tonnnnnn of hotels! But I digress!
This time I chose Lorien Hotel and Spa because 1. We’d never been there and 2. I wanted a very relaxing weekend for him. This hotel was not as colorfully decorated as the Monaco Alexandria but I guess it all tied in with the spa theme.
I loved that they provided guests with a computer. Too cool.
We had a choice between a room with a rain shower or a clawfoot tub. We went with the bathroom with rain shower. These photos do no justice. The bathroom is huge and the shower could easily hold 6 people comfortably. There was a sitting area plus a traditional showerhead plus a rain shower head in this shower. That was my favorite part of the whole “package”.
It was a packed house there (all rooms sold out) because of a wedding the next day so we weren’t offered any room upgrades but we were given free valet parking and were able to raid the mini bar for free.
Part of the mini bar…(the food portion of the mini bar was on the table top)
So we got to our beautiful room and we undressed, laid back and then around 7pm, we went down to the bar to have drinks and dinner at Brabo. You need to see their cocktail menu. One day I'm going to make every last one of those drinks.
Now I had already told him that it was going to be a weekend full of celebration so he was not to be concerned about money – he was just to eat, drink, relax and be merry from Friday until Sunday. No computers, no phones, nothing. Just us, our retreat, lots of good food and drinks. Doesn't that sound like a blast? We started off the night with "If at first you don't succeed, rye rye again" – well I started with that.
Goodness that drink was strong but gooooood! The perfect whiskey sour. My PIC had The Giant Killer (Green Chartreuse, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Old Raj Gin, Massanez Kirsch, Benedictine Float) YUMMY!
For the second round I had The Brabo Frizz (Campari, Cointreau, Lime Juice, Moscato d’Asti)….
For dinner I had the roasted Amish Chicken Breast and hubby had the seared American Red Snapper with rock shrimp….
On Saturday morning (his birthday), we woke up and we went to brunch at Vermillion. They are super super awesome and their customer service is quite impressive! They started us off with some biscuits…
To start off the celebration, hubby ordered the Zombie. It consisted of appleton rum (Jamaica), mount gay rum (Barbados), pineapple, ginger, cinnamon & peach bitters. He really like it because it was the perfect blend of strong and sweet….
I had the Elderflower. It was divine. Made of bsolut citron, st. germain elderflower & sparkling wine….
During brunch, I gave him his birthday card – inside the card was a letter thanking him for being such a super masseuse to me. Let me tell you about this man of mine. He works, sometimes, 10 hour days and then comes home to me (the stay at home one) and then I’d ask HIM for a massage. Never once did he refuse me. He gives the world’s best massages. I’m so selfish though because when he asks for one, I’d come up with a ton of excuses and if I do get around to give it to him it would be short and unsatisfying. My letter said “Since you always give me the best massages ever, I decided that you deserve a very relaxing and professional one yourself. Be at the spa at 3pm for your Gentleman's retreat!” Yep! I made sure my darling was going to be pampered for the weekend; a massage, a facial and more! He needed it! Being in the military is taking a toll on him.
The weeks prior up to his birthday, he was antsy and easily frustrated. He hadn't had a real break per se after he came back from Afghanistan and I know he needed it. I wish I could send him away for several weeks. That's why I can't wait for us to take our Caribbean trip come late summer. But I digress once again.
After this, the food came. He had ordered sweet potato biscuits, spiced sausage gravy, 2 eggs & latkes
I had a plain breakfast of 3 south mountain (a local dairy farm) eggs scrambled with potato latke, bacon & toast…
By chance, another server was talking to us and I mentioned that it was hubby’s birthday and she greeted him and said she would send something down. It was complimentary and really good because my non sweets-loving husband cleaned the plate! It was chocolate-hazelnut gateau with salted caramel ice cream…
So the spa idea was a big hit and a surprise for him. I would pay $1,000,000 just to see him light up like he did that morning. After brunch we went for a walk and we ended up at Bittersweet Bakery and Alexandria Cupcake. We bought 4 delicious cupcakes to celebrate his day.
Since I'm the sweets person around here, well, I ate most when I got back to the hotel. *giggles* After that we walked back to the hotel and relaxed until it was time for him to leave me.
Us playing around with the cupcakes….
When he came back, man did he look refreshed! Oh yeah!!!! I was so happy. He told me all about his experience and I couldn't help but beam. Since we had brought a bottle of liquor with us (from our stash at home) to the hotel, we had a couple drinks and relaxed until dinner time.
The stash @ home *grins*
I know this part is really bad but when I heard the bagpipes playing, I looked outside and the “paparazzi” part of me decided to snap part of the wedding party. See the guy in the kilt?
Now remember when I was telling you that the initial plan was just go to dinner. I had asked him where he would have like to go. He said it didn't matter just as long as they had crème brûlée. After diligently searching the week before, I found Geranio. So we walked to have dinner there (everything is in the same neighborhood, mind you) and we had a spectacular dinner! He really and truly enjoyed himself.
Me before heading out…
When we got there we were properly greeted and seated and promptly served with bread. After reviewing the menu, we ordered appetizers. My PIC had fried calamari with both lemon caper sauce and marinara sauce
I had the roasted shrimp with EVOO, garlic, lemon and grilled country bread….
During dinner, I snapped a quick one…
For entrees, hubby had lobster risotto with maine lobster and lobster oil. I had a forkful. It was sooooo scrumptious….
I had the grilled Atlantic Salmon with Mashed Potatoes, Pancetta, roasted garlic and shallots and a red wine sauce. This was the best salmon I ever had!
I had an amaretto sour while hubby had prosecco
Then they brought out hubby’s favorite dessert and sang him happy birthday…
Hubby after dinner. I don’t even remember what was going on in this photo…
After dinner we had a nice long walk and talk and then ended back in the hotel.
Sunday morning, we woke up and realized that the weekend had come to an end *sighs*. We were supposed to do brunch and then head back home but we skipped brunch and headed home and back to the normal routine. It was a really good weekend though!
Bye For Now…..