Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach, Garden City Hotel

We went back east to take care of family business. In need of a convenient hotel not far from the family home which we are selling, we opted for the charming Garden City Hotel which is actually in an upscale Long Island town called Garden City. The place turned out perfect for our needs. In addition to being in walking distance from where we needed to be, it has an indoor pool, fitness center, spa, and two great places to eat. One is Rein Bar& Bistro--a bustling bar/ lounge with great ambience and super food.  More casual than the hotel's Polo Restaurant, it was the perfect venue to unwind with a good meal and fine wine. Not to mention an occasional expertly-prepared Martini. There's an extensive wine list but only a few acceptableones by the glass. I did order a half bottle of J Lohr Chard, which was fine and my husband enjoyed a  few glasses of Hana Pinot in an oversized glass. The steak, salmon, chicken satay, salads, and burger covered with Boursin cheese, carmelized onions and mushrooms (to die for)  and cheese cake were amazingly good. I say it that way because I am used to New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas restaurants, some of which are hard to top. Obviously the executive chef.wine director Stev en De Bruyn knows his stuff. He's earned top honors from Zagat, New York Times, USA Today and Patti's Prattles with his New American/classic French fusion cuisine.  The Garden City Hotel, member of  Preferred Hotels is located at:   45 Seventh St., Garden City, L.I., NY 11530; 516-747-3000; 877-549-0400. online: www.thegardencityhotel.com.

Travel Light & Smart...Airline passengers listen up. TSA isn't kidding about toting only 3 ounces or less of cosmetics in a quart size baggie. Just got back from a trip and the security folks were confiscating everything that didn't fit the regulations. I'll be giving you tips in this column, one of which is to check out www.LuckyChick.com,  the company carries fabulous, super scented (Mandarin wite orchid, Jasmine, Mimosa etc) mini size products  that will pass muster like a trio pack of sugar body scrub, body butter and Shea butter hand cream for about $20. They even have cool looking silky soft satin eye masks to help you sleep in flight or at your hotel.

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