It's so easy to be complacent about the place you live in. My childhood memories are filled with sandy toes and sticky hands from fruit juices so sticky my fingers become glued together. Growing up in the Philippines, we had the beach readily available for our leisure. I always thought that would be the case so I took it for granted. Now I miss it more than ever and always reminisce the good times by the beach with my family. Not only that, I also miss the little things that come with living in a tropical island. Fresh, plump, juicy and sweet fruits like mango, pineapple, guava or sugar cane haunt me in my dreams. These fruits were literally an arm's reach away. Back then, I loved climbing trees and I remember my older sisters would always send me to climb mango trees to pick the ripest and plumpest of them all. They would wait down below ready to catch them. We would then wash them and share them amongst ourselves. That first bite is the BEST ever. The mangoes were so fresh and plump that once you take a bite the sweet fruit juices would just run down your arms. Oh what I would give to get my hands on a Philippine Mango!
I quickly realized after moving to Reno that those days are long gone. At first, I was sad about it. But as time went on, I made friends and eventually learned how to drive then I was able to discover and enjoy what Reno had to offer. I moved out here in 2002 when there were barely any developed areas around town. Pyramid Highway was a ghost town and South Reno wasn't even a thing yet. But what Reno had to offer then were still pretty exciting. I loved and still love the fact that Reno holds annual events like the Reno Rodeo, Hot August Nights, The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off, and the Great Reno Balloon Race to name a few. Not to mention Lake Tahoe is literally in our backyard too!
There's been a lot of growth in this town. My favorite so far is the development that has been happening in Downtown. The heart of Reno has become a hotspot for foodies as locally owned farm-to-table restaurants have called this district home, like my favorite Two Chicks! Modern artisans have set-up shop too, Death and Taxes is a cocktail lounge that serves artisanal cocktails made with fresh seasonal ingredients and housemade syrups. What's great is that not only can you eat and party in Downtown Reno, but you can also stay. You guys... Reno's FIRST and ONLY non-gaming, non-smoking, pet-friendly, independent hotel is in downtown and at our fingertips!
Whitney Peak Hotel is centrally located which makes it conveniently close to everything. As I've said, it is the ONLY non-gaming and non-smoking hotel in Reno. They are quite literally a breath of fresh air. As soon as you pull into valet, you are greeted with the friendliest valet personnel. They open your car doors for you and help you unload your luggage with a smile. And did I mention they are pet-friendly? They are sooo in-love with your pups that the Front Desk has treats ready for your fur babies at check-in! Once you're checked in, a clean and comfortable contemporary hotel room awaits you. It's so comfortable and the views are breathtaking that you wouldn't want to leave the room. But you should. And more so if you're feeling adventurous because Whitney Peak is home to Guinness Book of World Record's Tallest Artificial Climbing Wall: Basecamp. All 164 feet is all yours my friend.
Too high? I might be used to climbing trees but they weren't that high. So if you're like me (a scaredy cat) then you would probably just want to stick around where gravity is. And Whitney Peak has got us covered, too, because Basecamp not only offers adventure for the adventurers but they also have indoor boulders for those who are a little more cautious. Still not your thing? Well then, just head on over to the fitness center or skip it altogether and lounge in the sauna.
Hungry but tired from all the fun activities from Basecamp? Whitney Peak is walking distance to restaurants in downtown but why look any further? Chef-inspired comfort food is served to you from Roundabout Grill. You can either dine at the restaurant or dine-in at the comfort of your hotel room. I mean, they've really thought this through!
My tropical heart took a while to adjust to the desert that we live in but I've really come to love Reno. The recent additions to our city, like Whitney Peak, has really given our city a big boost. A step forward in the direction to serve and accommodate the needs of the modern consumer.
Sierra and Danny would know all about the city of Reno, that's because they're realtors. Not only that, but their beginnings as a couple are also rooted downtown because Sierra lived in The Montage before they moved into a home together in Northwest Reno. It couldn't have been more of a perfect fit to have their engagement session in and around the heart of Reno, the city we all call home.
We got ready at Whitney Peak Hotel. Room 1408. The views from the 14th floor is absolutely spectacular; just the perfect combination of Reno's cityscape and the Sierra Nevada mountains. My talented friend and also hair and makeup artist Rosa Mercedes took advantage of the natural light coming through to the room from the big bay windows. She worked her magic on Sierra while another talented friend of mine, Ridhi of Zuri Floral Design poured her creative soul into curating and designing the florals for the bicycle basket we will use for the photoshoot.
As the ladies of the group did our thing, Sierra's fiancé Danny set out to make himself comfortable at the bar downstairs in Roundabout Grill for a little liquid courage and also to watch the Yankees play. His mantra for the day, "I am here, I am happy and supportive. It's going to be a great day." He is a character! I know most men aren't excited about getting photos done but I told him to relax because I always coach my couples through the session. I encourage my future grooms to make it a great time because it's all about celebrating their love and recent engagement and it's something that makes the love of their life happy too!
Danny proposed to Sierra on a cruise ship surrounded by their closest friends. Sierra was not feeling her best with her untrained sea legs and she hadn't anticipated Danny proposing to her at that moment. Oblivious to what was going on, Danny was down on one knee for a good minute until she realized what was actually happening! Coaxed by her friends, Sierra eventually saw Danny on his knee and she looked down at the love of her life, who by now, was probably questioning his timing of events. After what felt like eternity, she was finally paying attention enough for him to ask for her hand in marriage and SHE SAID YES!
And that story is what brought all of us here in this moment getting ready for their engagement photos.
When I said that Whitney Peak is centrally located, it really is! To start the session, we walked from the hotel to Wingfield Park which is nestled along the Truckee River. It is only two blocks away that Sierra walked there in high heels. High heels! Like. A. Boss.
The rest of the session was an absolute blast. We went back to the hotel so they could change and can I just say that their outfits were on point! I could tell that they put a lot of thought into this. And I could also tell that their engagement is a source of happiness and a huge milestone for them. Sierra, a former ballerina, is so poised and graceful. Danny made the day so light and fun with his dad jokes some of which were pretty clever but there may have been a few crickets and deserving eye rolls too. (Don't worry, Danny - we still love you!)
Sierra and Danny, you two can't be more perfect for each other. You both care about your physical health (and it shows! *insert flexed arm emoji here*), you get each other's quirks and compliment each other very well. Your playful personalities are what made your engagement session so much fun! I felt like we were just old friends hanging out and having a good time. I truly appreciate you two spending the entire afternoon with me, Rosa, and Ridhi. You guys totally knocked it out of the park! The best times of your life together awaits you, so cheers to the both of you and best wishes on this wonderful journey as you build your new lives together. <3
Here's a quick peek at how the day went!