Holiday Club Deals
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Holiday Club Deals
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An Interview With Lisa (Keane) McNeil
How many years have you been selling travel?
20 years and counting, now wearing just a corporate travel hat.
What are your hobbies?
Lifting weights at the gym, home reno projects, gardening, and of course travelling.
What type of resort activities do you favor? ie water sports, lounging by the pool, etc?
Hard to beat a lazy day on the beach with a great book, soaking up the sun, but I also enjoy catamaran rides, kayaking, brisk beach walks, ziplining..... anything to keep active.
What are your favorite destinations?
Costa Rica, Thailand, Ireland, Cuba, Greece, India, Kenya, China, Israel, Nepal ... so many destinations, they are all special and memorable in their own way. With many more yet to explore!
What languages do you speak?
Trying to add Spanish to my repertoire :)
China, India, Japan, Nepal, Thailand
New York, Arizona, Florida, Las Vegas, New Orleans
Coach Tours, England, Ireland, Scotland
Sun (Mexico, Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii)
All Inclusives, Cayman Islands, Couples, Cuba, Disney, Dominican Republic, Florida, Jamaica, Mexico
France, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Coach Tours
Weddings & Honeymoons
22-29OCT19 Majestic Mirage 1 bedroom Club outdoor jacuzzi suite (adult only section) Grounds - immaculate, well laid out and well lit in the evenings. Lovely outdoor market area, reminded me of a small scale St. Mark's Square (Venice). Excellent coffee shop in this area. Pools are inter-connected in lazy-river style so doesn't seem overcrowded, tho the section near the adult-only swim-up bar was often busy :) Room - WOW! Had a corner suite which is larger than some of the other 1 bedrooms - separate bedroom, 1 1/2 baths, huge living room, large entrance, wrap around deck with jacuzzi just outside the bedroom patio doors. Restaurants - beach grill and main buffet had lots of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner - buffet style. Dominican night in the Beach Grill included a show and had food offerings from all their a la cartes - super! A la carte restaurants we tried: Italian was great (this is also open to Club guest for breakfast and lunch), Steak/BBQ was good, French was not my favorite (just not to my liking). Staff was outstanding, all very happy and eager to please. Our room came with a butler, more like a concierge, who would help with making a l carte reservations, filling the jacuzzi tub as a surprise one day, making sure any needs are met. Gym - another WOW - large, all the equipment you need from free weights to machines to cardio (bikes, treadmills) and plenty of free space to do your own thing. Beach - superb. White sugar sand, lots of palapas for shade and protection from rain (it sometimes happens!), miles and miles for walking. As part of Club perks there are separate adult only beach and Club room areas with dedicated attendants. Bracelets - not your standard plastic fare, a nice braided paracord with the Majestic tag on it - different colors indicate the room category booked. Highly recommend this property for friends, couples, families, extended families, groups, weddings.
13-20APR19 with Transat Holidays This is an older adult-only resort on a well-established section of the Varadero strip, next to the Dupont house and the Varadero golf course. If you are a golfer, this is the place for you, with the course just steps away. The grounds are gorgeous, mature vegetation with lots of natural shade. The resort is in the process of being renovated. The lobby furniture is a bit tired, but if the initial upgrades are any indication, once complete it will be more inviting. Standard rooms are very dated - best to book the upgraded rooms or upgrade to the Level or bungalows. Food was excellent, a la cartes were well presented, buffett had lots of selection at each meal and a grill in the centre where the chef will cook fish/meat to your liking. Smaller pool with a couple of different sections. Fitness area has all you need but is small and equipment is 70's-80's era - think Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron :) Take the free tour of the Dupont house next door offered by staff, it's a beauty.
Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Nagoya, Hakone, Mount Fuji, Tokyo 11-19MAY19 A very quick trip to this interesting country, this trip left me wanting to return for more of the culture, the food, the people, the cleanliness, the scenery and the history. Hotels: Osaka: Hotel Consort Nagoya: Tsumagoi Resort Sai no Sato Mt. Fuji: Isawa Onsen Hotel Shinko Tokyo : Apa Hotel & Resort Tokyo Bay Makuhari Optional Tours: Osaka - Kansai Culture Tour Tokyo - Kamakura and Yokohama
Everest Base Camp trek with G-Adventures and Maritime Travel 10-27MAY18. Known as ‘the steps to heaven,’ the trek to the Base Camp of Everest—the highest mountain on Earth above sea level—is undeniably one of the most challenging trips you or your clients can have on your bucket lists. But it’s a life-changing journey that’s worth every single step… and every single drop of sweat. Each bend of this epic trail provides a stunning photo opportunity -- be it a beautiful forest, a quaint Sherpa village or a glacial moraine -- and at the end of the trek you feel like you’re at the top of the world. Which you almost are… The weather can change in a blink of an eye at high altitude, so layered clothing is the way to go. Also, pack light. G Adventures provides one porter for every two travellers and the maximum weight the porters are allowed to carry is 10kg per traveller. Make sure you have a comfortable medium-sized day pack for things like your water bottle, some snacks, a windbreaker/rain jacket, a camera, decent sunglasses and a first aid kit. As an added bonus, fill your own water bottle with hot water at bedtime to keep your toes toasty warm until dawn. Most nights will be spent in traditional teahouse lodges, small bed-and-breakfast-style hotels that are clean and simple. Throwing yourself into the traditional Nepali Teahouse experience will contribute to your Base Camp trip tremendously. Most of these iconic teahouses remain fairly rustic. Most of the bathrooms are shared and the toilets can be either squat-type or western style. The majority of teahouses only have cold showers, but a few have hot water available at an additional cost. Pre and post tour we stayed at the Traditional Comfort Hotel in Kathmandu - an oasis in a busy, loud, dusty city. Close enough to walk to shopping and dining options if you wish. Flying into Lukla airport to begin the trek is an adventure in itself - considered one of the world's most dangerous airports with a mountain at the end of the short runway. Be prepared, you may have to helicopter in or out if the weather is not agreeable.
Grounds are lovely, carved out of the jungle with lots of lush vegetation and local wildlife - the resort prides itself on supporting habitat for birds, iguanas and the local coati. One of the prettiest resorts I've visited. Take the free bike tour they offer each morning to get a good overview - it's a vast property, well laid out. 8 restaurants - 1 buffet for lunch and breakfast, 7 a la cartes. 11 bars including 2 swim-ups at the main pool. No reservations required for dinner, which could make for a bit of a wait if you dine during prime times 7-830, but they take your name and give you a buzzer so you are free to enjoy a drink in the lounge while you wait. Large main pool, small quiet pool for Silver Club members, and lazy river near the swim-out rooms - the pool can be used by all guests. Lots of activities near the main pool if you wish to partake, and beach volleyball everyday at 11 and 3. A super long stretch of white sand beach, with main section of it having clear access to the water without any coral. The beach in front of some of the privilege beach (where you have your own beach sunbed) had more coral - which could be good for snorkeling. Lots of angel fish easily visible each day and great wave action for body surfing. They have a daily newsletter put in your room for the following day so you are aware of the activities, weather, spa specials, and who is celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or wedding that day. Excellent staff and service, I see why so many clients choose to return.
October 2018 A mid-sized resort with 420 rooms 34km from Varadero airport on a lovely stretch of beach, great for those long beach walks. Food was rather disappointing, the buffet was the same each night and the a la cartes were "ok" - this may be have been due to travel during the off season, it may be better in high season. Wifi available in the lobby for 1CUC (equivalent to approx. $1USD) per hour and worked well. Property is easy to get around with 1 large pool in the centre with a swim-up bar; a wading pool for the little ones nearby. Pathways are not well lit at night, travelling with a torch or headlamp would be wise. Privilege section and perks available for extra cost. A great gym located next to the spa with treadmills and ellipticals, weight machines and free weights. Overall I'd rate this 4 star in hopes that the food is better at high season.
November 2018 Part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, great location on Collins Avenue in the Art Deco district of Miami Beach (fabulous architecture!) . Walking distance to South Beach and Ocean Drive. Approx. 40 mins by cab from the airport and the same to the Miami cruise terminal (allow extra time in case of traffic delays). The hotel has a mandatory resort fee of $10USD per day that gives you access to their beach club on South Beach, water in the room, and bicycle rentals (easy to get around, great pathway along the beach to explore). Also worth visiting Lincoln Road - lots of reasonably-priced shopping and eateries on the pedestrian-only walkway. Approx. 20 min. walk or a 10 min bike from the hotel.
November 2018 Norwegian Jade with stops at and 4 days at sea interspersed: Cartagena, Colombia Panama Canal/Gatun Lake/Colon, Panama Puerto Limon, Costa Rica Roatan, Honduras Harvest Caye, Belize Costa Maya, Mexico 2400 passengers, ship refurbished in 2017. Be prepared for some rougher days at sea, depending on weather - it's true the higher up and more forward your cabin is on the ship you can definitely feel the ocean's activity. Unless you have included perks the extras can add up quickly - internet, shore excursions, gratuities, drinks, specialty dining. Well equipped gym - plenty of cardio options, free weights, Technogym machines, yoga studio. The overall cruise experience was good. I've had better food, yes but there was always lots of variety at the buffet and the two main dining rooms. I really enjoyed the casual aspect where dressing for dinner was not always required.
Gran Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado 16-23APR 2017 Direct flight with Air Canada Vacations to Samana, DR (do yourself a favor and pay the extra for the Executive Class upgrade, it's totally worth it!). Approx. 90 mins. travel from Samana airport including a 10 min. ferry/boat ride to the island. Only the resort and it's amenities as well as a public beach are located on the island. Resort was built in 2006, with well kept buildings and beautiful, mature grounds. The beach is on the small side, half of it with great wave action, the other half a little calmer. Between the palm trees offering natural shade and palapas there is lots of cover from the sun when you want it. Two gorgeous pools - one down by the beach, and one up closer to the rooms. NOTE - you take either a 2 storey elevator or stairs to/from the beach. You can visit the public beach with a 2 minute walk however your all-inclusive food/drinks are not included. On your way you pass by local vendors selling handicrafts, clothing, and jewellery. Tennis court, walking/jogging trail and small gym (low weight dumbbells, 2 treadmills, 2 stair climbers, universal machine) help with the over indulging that you will be certain to enjoy in the buffet and a la carte restaurants. High quality selections in all venues - be sure to attend the Gala Night in the buffet, you will be amazed by the presentations and offerings, especially the chocolate table. Outstanding adult-only experience at this small property, I would highly recommend it for those looking for excellent food, included wifi throughout the property, attentive staff, and immaculate accommodations in a low key setting. Perfect for couples looking to reconnect, or friends wanting a relaxed, refined get-away.
NOV 2017 4 nights/5 days in exciting N'Orleans or NOLA. An easy city to explore by foot, bike, street car. Art, music, food, history... Go! You'll love it! JW Marriott on Canal Street - perfect location - centrally located, close to the French Quarter, Garden District, the yet far enough away from Bourbon Street. Cab from airport to downtown NOLA $36 plus tip, approx. 30 mins. depending on traffic. Things to do: - As my brother in law suggested (he's from Louisiana), "Your first day there get yourself a hurricane at Pat O'Brien's bar, walk Bourbon Street, then take in a duelling piano show". Great way to get oriented. Warning - have just one hurricane! :) - electric bike tour with Buzz Nola on Magazine St. http://www.buzznola.com/ good history lessons, layout of the city, fun and exercise, too - breakfast at the Ruby Slipper - it's popular so expect to wait for a table. Afterwards, head over to the bike shop, it's just down the street. Café Creole on Canal is another great spot, good prices, and waitress gave us lots of great tips. - World War 2 Museum - rated no. 2 museum in the world. Expect to spend at least a full day here, more if history is really your thing. - Bourbon St. - live music in every venue, even out on the street. Most bars do not charge cover (at least during off season), but do expect that you buy at least a beverage during each set. Tropical Island bar is currently the only bar that offers all Cajun/Zydeco music. - Frenchmen St. - walking distance from the French Quarter, late night eateries, art galleries, and live music. Less frantic than Bourbon St. - waterfront area - here you'll find the aquarium, outlet shops, the Natchez steamboat that offers Mississippi River cruises. - Garden District - home to Lafayette Cemetery #1, stately old homes. Get to this area either by foot or the street car. - speaking of cemeteries, there are many, St. Louis #1 being the oldest. Interesting to see the tombs - due to being built upon swampland the area is prone to floods, thus many family members are buried in one tomb rather than individual plots. - have a frozen ice cream daiquiri and enjoy the live music at The Gazebo Café during your stroll through the French Market. Try a beignet at Café du Monde. - eat with the locals at the Gumbo Shop - expect to wait for a table - the best gumbo,and non-tourist prices! - check out Lafitte's Blacksmith Bar on Bourbon St. Said to be haunted and the oldest bar in the area. No electric lights save for task lighting at the bar. Visited by lots of celebrities. - Louis Armstrong park - lovely, quiet green space and ponds dedicated to the jazz musician. Mahalia Jackson Theatre is on the grounds. - things I didn't have time for (there's so much to see and do!) - a Plantation tour - most require a full day as they are outside the city, swamp tour, voodoo and ghost tour.
Windstar 7 day cruise aboard the Star Breeze, Rome to Barcelona "Glitter and Glam of the Rivieras" 2 nights pre cruise in Rome at Hotel Centrale 3 nights post cruise in Barcelona at Andante Hotel 23OCT-05NOV2016 Windstar Star Breeze: a beautiful small ship that feels like your own private yacht. The staff know you by name, no long lines up meals or getting on/off board, 5 star meals, spacious suites - our oceanview cabin had double sinks and a tub in the bathroom! And how cool is it to meet the ships's chef at the local markets in port with his shopping cart, buying the food he was going to prepare for us that night?! Rome: Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, the Coloseum, endless dining opportunities, the Hop On/Hop Off bus tour. Hotel Centrale, Rome: in the centre of Rome, a 3 star superior hotel in a pedestrian area includes breakfast in the charming nook, wifi. Standard rooms are typical European - tiny! - but very clean and well-kept. Portoferraio, Italy: Pine-scented forests and miles of sandy beach await your arrival on the tranquil island of Elba. Portofino, Italy: golden ochre and terracotta buildings, designer shops, and chic cafés, Portofino represents the height of Italian artistry and sophistication. Cannes, France: a world of exclusive boutiques, palm-fringed boulevards, sun-drenched beaches, and elegant sidewalk cafés. Monaco, France: The glittering Grand Casino, legendary for its exotic setting on screen and off, is a must see, as is the royal family’s palace and Prince Albert's private car collection - WOW! Sanary-Sur_Mer, France: This is the home of a group of local artisan fisherman who sell their catch daily on the pier and where Jacques Cousteau had a residence Port Vendres / Collioure, France: experience the beauty of the south of France – the brilliant blue of the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees foothills, the prestigious vineyards and a beautiful harbor. I can imagine renting a villa in this, my favorite port. Barcelona: Museums, fresh food markets (great photo ops with all the colors!), the stunning Basilica Sagrada la Familia (a tour inside is worth every penny), endless shops and dining options. Take in a tapas dinner, or two. Highly recommend a Fat Tyre Bike Tour of the city - a different way to see the city strolling thru parks, along the beach boardwalk, on the city's bike lanes, or crossing the odd crazy intersection - so much fun! Andante Hotel, Barcelona: in old city center, right in the heart of Barcelona, a few minutes walk from Las Ramblas. Practical, modern and inexpensive, with attention to the environment and conservation. A surprise roof-top infinity pool with amazing views of the city. A short taxi ride from the cruise port.
Safari with VISIT AFRICA LTD 04-19APR15 What a dream! Each day presented a new adventure: Watching a herd of elephants pass by our jeep in single file on their way home at dusk with Mt. Kilimanjaro as the backdrop. Dancing with Samburu Warriors during a bush dinner; star gazing under the vast Kenyan sky and seeing 3 moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn thru a telescope; having Masai school children proudly sing their ABC's for us; watching a male lion enjoy a 2 and a half hour snooze (just minutes from our resort!) while we waited patiently to get that perfect snapshot. Falling asleep to the sounds of nature outside our luxury tent. Hot air ballooning over the Mara followed by champagne breakfast and game drive - WOW!! Serena resorts offer superior accomodations and staff - accept nothing less to make your trip unforgettable - and they have awesome gift shops :) Same is true for our hosts, Visit Africa Safaris - they are an established, family-run company that prides itself on their personalized service. In Nairobi you do see signs that one must be vigilant and aware, but once outside the city I had no concerns whatsoever - you are nowhere safer than on safari, and Kenya is the country to do it in with all the different reserves - each with it's own character and wildlife. On our 10 day journey we the parks/areas we visited: Amboseli, Masai Mara, Samburu & Buffalo Springs, Sweetwaters, Mt. Kenya & Aberdares.
Melia las Dunas 29APR-06MAY15 While this hotel is rated a 4.5 star I didn't feel it was quite up to standard during my stay - some of the public areas are in need of repair - it was end of high season so they may get the fixes done before next winter. Rooms are basic yet clean. Large inviting lobby with lots of live, authentic Cuban music either during the day or evenings. On a wonderful, long stretch of beach, though when the tide is high the water is up to the beach palapas. On-site gym which is decently equipped, and small shopping plaza to buy your Cuban souvenirs.
Splendid China and Yangtze Delight - NEXUS HOLIDAYS 07-18NOV 2015 Nexus puts together a great package and allows for customization if you wish. Highly recommend this company and look forward to working with them for clients wishing to visit the wonderful East. Beijing - 3 nights: SO much to see in this city of 23 million people and 6.5 million cars! Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Beijing Roast Duck Banquet, Great Wall (we opted to go to the Mutianyu entrance - it offers cable car, less touristy, great views - on a clear day!); rickshaw ride thru old Hutongs (narrow lanes in the original part of the city); Golden Mask Dynasty show (excellent live show, cirque de soleil style); visit 2008 Olympic Bird's Nest and Water Cube. Stayed at Hotel Jen. Cruise the Yangtze - 3 nights aboard the President No. 7. Keep in mind this is a Chinese cruise line, and it's more about the destination than the ship. Food was good, cabins offer small balcony, large main sun deck for viewing the Three Gorges as we sailed thru. Amazing scenery, from mountains and basic life along the river to ultra-modern cities built to house the displaced citizens affected by the Three Gorges Dam Project. Suzhou - 1 night in Venice of the East - cruise along the Grand Canal, visit the Lingering Garden, silk spinning factory where you could buy the famous silk-filled duvets. Stayed at Pan Pacific Suzhou - it is a most confusing yet interesting layout, and offers access to a huge local public garden. Shanghai - 2 nights. A bustling, modern city with the Huangpu River running thru it. A night cruise offers views of the spectacular and fantastical buildings along the river. Tour of Nanjing Road (think Times Square in NYC) a walking tour along the Bund, and a visit to an underground market - putting our bartering skills to the test! Stayed at Wyndham Bund East Hotel. Add China to your list - I am glad I did, and will definitely return!
My first experience at an adult-only all-inclusive on incredible 7 Mile Beach in Negril. The resort is not new, but the amenities, food, and the staff are amazing. Couples has an all-included policy, where excursions, premium alcohol, and tipping! are included. They offer beach bar service and no-limit specialty dining reservations. A small resort with 312 Caribbean-style suites in 39 buildings spread thru tropical landscaping. All rooms have their own private verandah. As the name suggests, Couples Swept Away is ideal for honeymoons, weddings, romantics, those looking to get way from it all, and sports enthusiasts. The fitness complex is impressive with 10 tennis courts, racquetball, basketball and squash courts, yoga centre, outdoor track and very well-equipped gym with Cybex machines and more than enough free wights for the heaviest of lifters. Splurge on the beachfront candlelight dinner - very romantic and a special experience. And take the included sunset catamaran cruise - perfect for taking pics and enjoying the water - and you may even see some of the cliff divers as you pass by Ricks' Café.
Sol Luna y Mares Resort, Holguin Cuba. April 14-21/14 My 2nd stay at this resort, and my hubby's first-ever visit to an all-inclusive. He's hooked! The hotel is just as I remembered it, with wonderful staff, a fantastic beach, and great food! No bells or whistles, the resort is charmingly stuck in time. The rooms will not wow you, they are very basic, but they are clean and it's worth treating yourself to one with an ocean-view. The beach is superb, with lots of real, low-growing trees for natural shade along with plenty of palapas, and there is great snorkelling at either end of the beach. Be sure to take in the French a la carte, it's a great experience. The only negative comment I have is that we didn't book 2 weeks. We can't wait to return.
My Honeymoon! July 6-13/2013 After 2 days in Venice (stayed at Domina Home Ca' Zusto) my new hubby and I embarked on this, my 2nd and his first, big-boat cruise. We loved it! Stops in Split, Croatia, Kusadasi, Turkey and Greece - Kataklion and Santorini. While the ship is not one of their newer ones, this itinerary is more about the destination than the offerings of the vessel. We took advantage of the My Time dining and were glad we had prereserved times to avoid waiting in the lineup each evening. We had also prebooked shore excursions to ensure we got the ones we wanted. In Kataklion the visit to Olympia then a wine tour was a highlight - a wine tasting experience at white-clothed tables amongst tall pines with cheese, fresh tomatoes, bread and olives. YUM! We did the Turkish bath experience in Kusadasi in a 700 year old bath house - the stories those walls could tell! Santorini, an all-time favorite of mine, and now of John's too, brought a quick tour of the city of Oia then time on our own to enjoy lunch and a few beer overlooking the Caldera. Absolutely perfect. I'd highly recommend a Mediterranean cruise - so much history with each port unique, and completely different from a Caribbean journey. Give yourself a day prior to get time-regulated so you are fresh and ready to take everything in.
Indus Travels Golden Triangle Tour Delhi -Agra - Jaipur - Delhi March 2013 similar itinerary: http://www.industravels.ca/tour/taj-hotels-and-indus-golden-triangle-tour.html Not a destination for the faint of heart, with the wide gap between the wealthy and the common people - you see a lot of poverty. This was an emotional and inspiring trip, experiencing amazing cuisine and the genuine smiles of the people. Amazing markets with the fantastic colors of the fabrics, the smells of spices, and the sounds of the crowds.
Flew into Madrid (a very cosmopolitan city) and travelled to the medieval city of Toledo and overnighted in Sevilla- a very quaint, chamring city set along the water, and home to bullfighting and flamenco! Toured the bullring in Sevilla. From Sevilla to Granada, where we visited Alhambra Palace and Gardens. Granada to Valencia (home to many, many orange groves!) , along the way viewed cave houses of Guadix. Along the drive from Valencia to Barcelona stopped in Peniscola to enjoy a chocolata caliente and dip the toes in the Med. 2 nights in Barcelona to enjoy this wildly busy city. Las Ramblas streets are very busy, lots of tourists, shoppers and buskers, and high end shopping. The better deals could be found in the smaller streets nearer the cathedral. Be sure to tour the city to see the influence of Gaudi, especially at the Sagrada Familia Church. The local metro is extremely easy to use and safe; watch your belongings however as Barcelona is known as the pickpocket capital of the world. Must admit I was somewhat disappointed with the Cost Saver tour concept. The hotels are well outside the city centre, therefore did not allow evenings to experience the local restaurants and bars. Many excursions and main meals (other than breakfast and some dinners) are not included so you have the out of pocket expenses related to all these. You also do not to get to "experience" everything along the routes, many sites are simply "viewed" - a hint to all when deciding on a tour. Spanish food was disappointing for me as well, which really surprised me. I am not typcially a fussy eater but the lack of vegetables and the excess of meat, and ham and cheese and bread was too much. Paella was decent at some spots, and many restos offered tapas, but they didn't wow me.
August 2012 An incredible road trip from NS to as far as Las Vegas. 12000kms in total! While in Vegas stayed at Bally's - an older casino/hotel a block off the mid-strip. Rooms are tired, but hard to beat the location for the price. Toured many other hotels and casinos and soon discovered the sky's the limit when it comes to accommodation in this crazy city. Enjoyed 2 Cirque de Soleil shows, Elvis (a musical Cirque show) and Mystere (a traditional Cirque show). Both were amazing. This city is not for those on a budget - with so many options for shows, shopping and dining, it doesn't take long to overspend. Off to the Grand Canyon where we camped (yes, camped) at Desert View Campground, 20 mins. outside the park. You could spend days exploring the canyon, hiking or taking in one or many tours. One that I was conflicted in deciding upon was the helicopter tour. Am I glad I did it! What an experience. Well worth the money. An hour tour operated by Maverick Tours (we opted for them as they have the newest fleet with the largest viewing areas in the choppers), and details shared by a very knowledgeable pilot. My experience here made me realize the Canyon in much more than just a large hole in the ground, and should be on everyone's list as a must-see. From there stops made in various states, with other highlights including the drive thru Monument Valley (home of all the old westerns- think John Wayne); Mesa Verde, Colorado (the site of cliff-dweller pueblos); Four Corners (where Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado intersect); driving thru the Painted Desert in Arizona; shopping in Pennsylvania and camping in Maine. If one has the time for a road trip it's well worth it. You get to see so much more of the area you're visiting and experiencing the local culture and people.
March 2012 Wingate Manhattan Midtown Hotel Centrally located hotel, short walk from Penn Station (flew into Newark airport and too local train from their to Penn Station. Taking the train means you avoid road traffic and congestion, and save some money - the train ride was under $15). My second visit to this exciting city and I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, having a sense of the layout. Highlights included Wicked - the musical (the prequel to the Wizard of Oz), wandering antique markets and flea markets on a Saturday morning (interesting finds!), and simply walking and taking in the sights and people watching - you can be as busy or take a time out in this vibrant city.
Barceló Cayo Santa Maria, Santa Clara Cuba OMG- What a beach! Quite possibly the most beautiful I have seen...so far :) The resort is large, but many buildlings are situated close to the beach and main areas of the resort. The buffet restaurants had lots to offer, and I enjoyed the food. The a la cartes that I tried were less than great. Staff was courteous and friendly. I travelled with Hola Sun Holidays direct from Halifax, and flew with Air Cubana. Very basic, but expected from a charter company.
April 14-22, 2011 The Blue Bay is a large, eco-friendly resort approximately 45 minutes from the Cancun airport and 15 minutes from Playa del Carmen. I travelled with Nolitours and their rooms are in a preferred section closest to the a la carte restaurants, lobby, gift shops and the quiet pool. The beach is a 5 minute walk thru lovely green spaces on paved paths, or you can take the trolley that frequently runs thru the property. Super-friendly and accomodating staff, and Nolitours has concierge desks in each of their buildings to assist with booking of a la carte dinners. Food is amazing- from presentation to taste. Our group of 8 thoroughly enjoyed every meal. Superb variety in the a la cartes, French, Italian, Mexican (of course!), and Oriental. there is a large main buffet with lots of options, as well as beach grill, pool grill - all of which serve full breakfast. Lots of activity by the pools and one must be early to get one of the coveted loungers set poolside in tbe water. Each day the activity staff had contests and games, even Mexican pottery painting if you wished. The resort is set on a long stretch of beach, lots of loungers but few palapas for shade. Bring the umbrella from your room if you would like shade, or you an hang out at the swing bar at the beach :) Unfortunately the water is a little murky for the first few feet but once you clear that the water is clear with some sandbars. Apparently the water is not the best because of the river system that is a couple of resorts up the beach- there are 3 rivers (Tres Rios) that converge and flow into the ocean. Personally the water was not a deal breaker for me. It is definitely worth the walk to the Tres Rios to see the lagoon with it's crystal clear, fresh water and even hang out for a while. Apparently you can even walk up the rivers. A big plus is their "beachlers"- the beach butlers who travel the resort's beach and take your drink orders. Being eco- friendly and to cut down on trash, this resort does not use disposable glasses nor do they have straws. You also must use your room key card to activate the room lights and A/C. The resort has lots of green spaces which allow local wildlife to call home. Mexican raccoons (coatis), deer, iguana, and amazing bird species to name a few. Please be kind - we are sharing their world. All in all a solid 4.5 star resort with many 5 star surprises.... and another great spot to celebrate one's birthday with friends :)
Trafalgar Tour Irish Highlights March 24- April 2, 2011 The tour began March 27 but I spent a couple of extra nights in Dublin at the Jury's Inn Parnell, a very basic hotel but our rate included full breakfast. Fabulous location, a short walk from the airport bus stop and O'Connell Street. Dublin is a very easy city to explore on foot. Don't forget the Guinness and Jamieson's tours, as well as the many pubs in the Temple Bar area. The Trafalgar Tour took us from Dublin to Waterford (sadly the crystal manufacturing is now done in China), but it's a quaint little town with shops and hotel along the harbor, and we found a great pub with traditional music. From Waterford to Cork and Blarney, where yes, I kissed THE stone. It was a lot more involved than expected, requiring a walk up twisty, narrow staircases- 137 steps!- to get to the top where you then are assisted with the kissing of the stone. Then 2 nights in Killarney at the Plaza. Loved it! Great shops and pubs, and it was from here we drove the Ring of Kerry. We were a little early for the "1000 shades of green", but it was still very beautiful and the landscape varied. Had a fantastic "Be My Guest" dinner at Muckross Farmhouse, complete with a harp and fiddle player duo. Dinner started with homemade Irish Soda Bread and butter made on the farm- need I say more ?! :) We travelled on to County Clare after crossing the River Shannon by ferry, and were awed by the coastline- lovely beaches, spectacular golf courses and high tides for kite surfing. A stop at the Cliffs of Moher- stunning! A chance for a Guinness in the original Durty Nelly's pub in Bunratty, then a tour of Bunratty Castle to which we would later return for a medieval- themed dinner, complete with king and queen (how did I get chosen?!) and dining sans utensils. A fantastic evening, with our hosts dressed in period costume, and serving us honey-wine, or meade. Enroute back to Dublin, Galway was a quick stop, to see the cathedral with it's Connemara marble floors and bright stained glass. Our final night in Dublin with a farewell dinner at - you guessed it- a pub, with more delicious food and a final Guiness. Would I return? In a heartbeat! The irish are welcoming and quick with their wit and a smile. I felt instantly at home, felt very safe at all times, and enjoyed the company of my fellow Trafalgar tour mates.
Participated in a Collette Vacations tour of Israel. Visited Tel Aviv, Tiberias, Jerusalem and Bethlehem and points in between. Floated in the Dead Sea, learned about the Dead Sea Scrolls, explored the Old City of Jerusalem, sailed on the Sea of Galilee, and walked in King Herod's footsteps at Masada, visited Bethlehem and so much more! Ate St. Peter's fish (our Tilapia) from the Sea of Galilee, Falafel and hummus, fresh-picked dates, and found a great beer :) Such varied landscape from area to area- at one time you can be seaside, and a bus ride later you are in the desert, or the forest, or the hills of Golan! The country has earned an unfair reputation as being unsafe; at no time did I have concerns for my safety. It's a beautiful country with lovely people and worth a visit, not just for religious purposes but for the history, food and culture.
Oct. 5-16, 2011 hosted by Exotic Tours and Amphitrion Holidays. 4 nights in Athens staying at the Athenian Callirhoe. Great location, within walking distance to the Plaka- market area with shops and endless restaurants, at the foot of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. Viewed the chaning of the guards at Parliament, a day trip to Delphi, tour of the Acropolis. A visit to the highest point in Athens, Lycabettus- a short cable car ride to the top to enjoy dinner or a drink perhaps? 2 nights on Mykonos, staying at the beachside Petasos Beach resort with views of the Aegean Sea. Charming island with white-washed buildings and chapels. Interesting night life and a lovely maze of a town with shops, tavernas, and sites including the windmills. 3 nights on Santorini, staying at the Adromeda Villas- WOW!! Cliff-side villas with stunning views of the Caldera and holy-cow sunsets! Towns of Fira and Oia for shopping and tavernas. Tour the still active volcanic island, and swim in the sulphur hot sprigs. Afterwards take the donkey ride from the pier up to the top of the cliff- not for the faint of heart :) Vineyards, beaches to explore. Final night in Athens at the New Hotel, the newest hotel in Athens. Very modern, designed by architecture students. Greece is AMAZING!!! Her people are warm and welcoming, eager with a smile and to share their Ouzo :) Dining here is more than a meal, it's an experience. We could learn a lot from the Greeks and their approach to dining and sharing at the table. While a cruise would be a nice approach to see the various islands, to truly appreciate each island and it's unique character a couple or few night's stay is recommended..
Blau Cayo Coco Another visit to Cuba, a new destination this time. An enjoyable week at the Blau, a large resort with friendly staff, great local entertainment and a fantastic beach.
My first full week in Jamaica, the land of steel drums and jerk chicken. Attended a friend's wedding, held at the beach gazebo on a sunny Jamaican afternoon. A very large resort on 3 small cove beaches, offering fantastic food, great pools, even a clothing optional beach for those willing to try it.
Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket 2 nights in Bangkok- crazy city, where everything is for sale. Loved the night market, where you can get cheap, tasty, authentic food, buy some scarves then have a thai foot massage. Ziplined in the jungle with 2 friends- felt like gibbons as we zoomed thru the trees and to the tree house. Time spent in Chiang Mai, where we had the opportunity to visit an elephant camp. It was tough to see these gentle giants in captivity, in these camps supposedly helping them rehabilitate, and protecting them. I experienced it, and I am still not convinced this is the way to see elephants... I think a trip to Africa seeing them in their natural habitat would trump this. Phuket- hello beach!
April 29- May 6, 2009 Coach ride from London to Scotland, with stops and overnights in Edinburgh, Inverness and Glasgow. Visits included Edinbugh Castle, Eilan Donan Castle, Isle of Skye, Edradour Distillery, to name a few. Boat ride on Loch Lomond and a stop at Loch Ness in search of Nessie. Drives thru hills of heather in the Highlands, with the occassional highland cow in view.
Spent a quick weekend in the Big Apple, March 27-29. What more could we have done?? Enjoyed a carriage ride thru Central Park, felt like Audrey (Hepburn) at Tiffany, shopped for deals in Chinatown, ate in Little Italy, visited the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Centre) and Metropolitan Museum, and used the Hop on/ Hop off double deckers.
April 10-17 What better way to spend your birthday than on a fabulous white beach in Holguin? Lovely hotel, on the smaller side, with friendly staff and a brand new a la carte French restaurant. I will definitely return to this little gem for R and R.
April 27-29, 2009 Crown Plaza Kensington Hotel Prior to a coach tour from London spent 2 nights here. Perfect location, with Gloucester Tube station only 2 minutes walk away, great pubs and restaurants nearby, and within walking distance of Hyde Park.
Another trip to one of my favorite countries...
Trafalgar Tours Coach Tour from Rome with stays in Florence, Venice and Pisa. History, food, shopping!
Fun Sun's Two Oceans tour with stops in San Jose, Tortuguero, Arenal Volcano, and Tambor Beach. Ziplines, beaches, Howler monkeys, jungle lodge, rain forest- what more can I say??
Visited 17 hotels in a week, from Punta Cana to La Romana to Puerto Plata. Swam with dolphins - a highlight!
A day trip into the city of Angels.
Time in Orlando at Disney, Seaworld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove. Stayed at the (haunted) Belleview Biltmore resort in Clearwater.
Stayed at the Barcelo Solymar and enjoyed a day and overnight in Havana where we checked out the Tropicana Club.
Stayed at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort. Enjoyed a tour of the ruins at Coba, ziplining over a cenote, and visiting an authentic Mayan village. Also visited Playa del Carmen.
The former LTI, now called the Playa Alameda. Day trip to Havana included rum and cigar factory tours.
Stops in Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Highlight was swimming with the giant stingrays in Grand Cayman.
My first trip to Cuba.
Coach tour from London to London, visiting Oxford and the Cotswolds.
Thanks again for your professionalism . You are very efficient in your work.
How could we make planning a trip more enjoyable for you? Lisa was excellent to work with. She exceeded our expectations in all areas. She was very knowledgeable, friendly and professional. She made planning our trip so easy and stress free! We couldn't have asked for a better travel agent.
How could we make planning a trip more enjoyable for you? Dealing with Lisa was a pleasure, she took care of all the details, was very knowledgeable and made it a seamless process to book my holiday. I have no suggestion as to what she could do better, she covered it all.
I booked a disney trip this passed March.I had very excellent service.I was very happy with the service and i was very comfortable dealing there.If i ever plan another trip it would be out of the burnside office. Lisa made the trip planning easy for me.Thank you
Tell us about your future travel plans. We plan on another Carribean trip at Christmas and Lisa will be there for us as per usual.. she is GREAT!!!!!
Good afternoon Lisa! Arrived home last night from an absolutley incredible trip! Didn't want to leave of course! Everything exceeded our expectations. All Star Music was beautiful and the employees went out of their way to greet and help us whenever needed. Thank you so much for all of your time and interest in our trip. We really appreciate everything you did to make our stay enjoyable. We will be going back. Probably in 2 years. We will be sure to call you! Thanks again Lisa
How could we make planning a trip more enjoyable for you? i have no complains as Lisa has helped in all my trips and she does a wonderful job.
Hi Lisa, Thanks so much for your super efficiency in setting everything up for us! It's quite exciting to see it all in print! Everything certainly seems to be in order. Many thanks! With all the planning done, now we can just sit back in joyful anticipation! I thank you also for your warm and genuine enthusiasm on our behalf!! You are definitely "a keeper!" :-) Anne
Hi Lisa ! Our Marchbreak trip was excellent the resort Carabela was more than expected...everything just a min walk beach lovely!!!! Thank you for helping make our family vacation a wonderful time...... Liz
Good morning Lisa. Our first morning back from our wonderful vacation in Jamaica. Thanks for all your help and suggestions. The Gran Bahia Principe Golden club was great. We would recommend this location in Runaway Bay for sure. We travelled with a great group which was organized by a great agent. Not only will we recommend the location but the agent that made it all come together. You're the best. Kathy
Thank-you and I really appreciate you getting back to me in such a timely manner. Jeff highly recommends you as a travel agent and I can see why! I will certainly contact you in the future should I be travelling! Kathleen
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