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An Interview With Lisa MacIver
How many years have you been selling travel?
I have been in the tourism industry since 1999, and have been in the travel industry since 2003, with experience in both leisure and corporate travel. Currently, I focus on leisure travel.
What are your hobbies?
Photography, knitting, cross stitching, and Sci-Fi Conventions!
What type of resort activities do you favor? ie water sports, lounging by the pool, etc?
I love being on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and laying under a beach umbrella! I could spend my whole day on the beach - especially when there are usually bars and grills by the beach :) I also enjoy swimming in the quiet pools and checking out the nightly entertainment shows.
What are your favorite destinations?
My favourite destinations so far have been: Edinburgh, Scotland The Scotland Highlands Galway, Ireland Sorrento, Italy Pompeii, Italy Rhodes, Greece Machu Picchu, Peru
What languages do you speak?
Europe Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Lines
Coach Tours, Contiki, Greece, Italy
Coach Tours, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland
Sun (Mexico, Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii)
All Inclusives, Couples, Cuba, Disney, Dominican Republic, Florida, Jamaica, Mexico, Sandals
Florida, Las Vegas, New York
Weddings & Honeymoons
This was a great spot to visit for a few hours, especially if you have a family! There are 4 sections - the main museum, an aquarium, a rainforest, and a planetarium. There is also a restaurant there, and the food was surprisingly good. The aquarium was bigger than I thought it would be - lots of stuff to see, including one massive alligator! The rainforest had parrots and so many butterflies everywhere! My favourite was the planetarium - that was a really fun experience! One thing to note - if you don't have kids, be aware there are many of them there, all running around and screaming excitedly, especially in the aquarium!
If you like history with darker history, this is a great place to visit! I did a behind the scenes tour, which took me to off the main path areas. It was interesting to hear the stories of past criminals and the lives they lived in this jail and the punishments they had to endure. In addition to this tour, you can do the audio tour of the jail - I didn't have time to do this as I had to get back to the airport for my connecting flight, but one of the guides on my tour ran me all through the jail, making sure I saw everything - he took me to the dinning hall, the hospital, the outside yard area, the warden's house with the view of the city/Golden Gate Bridge, I even got to see where David Copperfield escaped from Alcatraz! All this in 5 minutes - we ran all over the place, saw everything, and still had time to wait in line for the ferry back to the mainland!
I was here for one night, and it was a pretty good location - lots of food options and convenience stores within walking distance. Beds were comfortable and staff was friendly. If you're using a GPS to find the hotel, make sure you put in the right address - the hotel address is 396 Queen Street, but the *entrance* address is 110 Mayoral Drive. It's a one way drive in/out, and they do valet parking, which was great! We were about a 15 minute walk to the Auckland Domain park - a great spot to visit! My favourite part of this park was the Winter Garden area. The flowers were beautiful, and the Fernery was like stepping into a min rainforest. It was so beautiful and relaxing, I could have stayed here for hours. We also went to the Auckland Botanic Gardens, which was about a 25 minute drive away from the hotel. This was a great spot to slowly walk around. It wasn't packed with flowers, but had different sections spread out with different themes. I was also there during their fall, so most flowers were gone for the season, but it was still a very beautiful spot.
To say I've been to Hobbiton will always bring a smile to my face! I am a big fan of the Lord of the Rings movies, and love the Hobbits... especially Pippin! My tour guide was amazing! He was incredibly knowledgeable and had answers for every single question, and provided so much information about Hobbiton and the Shire - it was great! Walking the path and seeing Hobbiton appear was a dream come true! There were 44 unique Hobbit homes that we got to see, and we were told about how the week after we were there, they are starting a massive project to construct a full working Hobbit home where visitors can go in and explore the full house. I was very lucky to be there before the construction, but now I need to go back so I can go inside a Hobbit home! I did the main set tour and lunch buffet. The food was so good! There was lots of choice and the desserts were so yummy! The decorations in the special event tent were beautiful. After we ate, we had some free time to walk around the general area, which was a great time to take pictures. I walked across the bridge that Gandalf and Frodo take the cart across in the Fellowship of the Ring movie, and had a ginger beer at the Green Dragon! For any LOTR fan, this is such a great experience!
After spending time at Hobbiton, staying here continued my Hobbit dreams! This spot is amazing and completely private. It's categorized as "glamping" and is such a relaxing, peaceful spot. There is a loud moment though - you drive a farm buggy down to the location. It's a bit of a bumpy road, but once you get the hang of the buggy, it's not a bad little drive! The accommodation is built like your own hobbit home, complete with a private pond and lush land all around. There is no power - inside is lit by candlelight, and is surprisingly great light! There is an outdoor tub for a nighttime bath, where you can see the stars and hear the crickets. The bathroom has 2 sections - one in an indoor shower/change area, and the other is the bathroom. There is no pluming, it is a compostable toilet. At first, I was a bit nervous of this, but it was totally fine! Seeing the stars at night was amazing. We had a fire going inside the home, in the kitchen wood stove. There is no food provided but the owners have an outdoor grill and provide an chill bin to keep the food you bring, cold. It is recommended to go to a grocery store before arriving, so you are ready for the weekend. Speaking of the owners - they were fantastic! Very friendly and easy to get a hold of via email. One thing to note is that it is one bed, and it's a bit of an odd shape. It's definitely big enough for 2 people but if you are not a couple, be aware there is no pull out sofa, and the floor is quite hard, so you will be sharing a bed. I definitely think this a great spot, especially for the Lord of the Ring fans out there!
I had a few hours to visit Hamilton before checking in at that night's accommodations (Underhill Valley). I didn't get to spend much time in the actual city but I did spend quite a bit of time at the Hamilton Gardens, in the "enclosed gardens" section. It was very interesting - there were lots of sections based on historical civilizations that I wouldn't have expected to see. My favourite area was the "fantasy garden collection", part of it felt very Alice in Wonderland! It was a really interesting way to spend the afternoon, but prepare for a lot of walking!
This was a very interesting spot to visit. It's a geothermal reserve and mud spa with Maori history as well. Some of the views during the walk were really incredible, but the smell - that takes some getting used to! The strong smell of Sulphur is everywhere! I would have stayed a bit longer, but the Sulphur that day was potent! I'm still very glad I went and got to check this spot out, it was a really unique experience.
This was a major highlight of the trip! There are a few tours you can do here - there's a walk and boat ride through the glowworm caves, then there are the more intense black water rafting tour options. I did the middle level - the Black Labyrinth tour. This involved getting in a wet suit (not an easy process!), climbing into the cave through a hole in the ground, and being in a pitch black cave. I have a lot of fears, and this included many of them - but - this experience was absolutely amazing! Our tour guides, Luke and Pippin (yes, that is her actual name) were the best guides on my entire New Zealand trip! They made me feel 100% safe and they were so funny! Stories were told, sea chanties were sung, laughter was constant! We did a safety lesson before getting the cave, and were very clear on what would happen when inside. We got to jump backwards down small waterfalls, and float in tubes. Then we got to the glowworms. We all turned off our headlights and floated through this amazing space with green glowing worms. It was amazing. The water temperature was about 14-15 degrees Celsius - with the wet suit, it wasn't bad at all. You do not have to be in great physical health to do this tour - if I can do it, anyone can - and everyone should!
I was meant to do the night time tree walk when the paths high in the trees were lite up, but we bought our tickets about 4 months before going and the park hours changed, so it was closed when we showed up! Their customer service desk was just shutting down when we got there and the staff there were incredibly helpful - they offered me a refund right away and let me come back the next day to do the walk in the morning, for free. Doing the tree walk the next morning was a great experience! It was very relaxing being high up in the trees, walking on suspension bridges- though, I suppose if you have a fear of heights, this might not be the best place for you! There were 28 suspension bridges through redwood trees that were over 100 years old. It was really nice walking through the woods, high off the ground.
I would classify this as an adventure tour, with hiking, suspension/swing bridges, a cliff walk, and ziplining through amazing forest areas. I was terrified lol I had never done ziplining before... it was amazing! We had great weather, and wonderful tour guides who made sure we felt safe and had fun. I was able to rent a go pro and film doing the actual ziplining, including one spot where you can race your friend! Our tour guides made sure to provide history on the area and told us about the wildlife that is there today and what has gone extinct. They are an environmentally progressive company, trying to save the forest. You don't have to be in top physical condition to do this tour, but you do have to be able to climb 6 flights of stairs (yes, there's one really big staircase to climb!), and be able to lift your knees above your hips for the zipline. I was able to do it without issue - well, the stairs weren't the funnest but it was doable! I definitely recommend this as a fun way to spend an afternoon!
I stayed here for 1 night. The room was a good size, the beds were incredibly comfortable, and we had a lakeside view, which was great! When you first walk in the hotel, you do smell Sulphur but that's pretty much everywhere in the general area. The location was good - we were very close to the lake for a walk, and about a 10 min drive to the Redwood Treewalk, and about 15-20 minute drive to Hell's Gate. There was a restaurant right across from the parking lot, which was pretty convenient! There was no issue getting a parking space and the hotel was sold out, so that was great. I did have one issue with the room, but the staff was great with dealing with it. On top of providing a solution, they also gave me free breakfast, which was very delicious! They were great to talk to and incredibly helpful.
This was a fantastic spot! After 1 week of sharing a room with my travel buddy, we got to spend the night in a 2 level, 2 bedroom suite with a washer/dryer in the kitchen! Getting to do laundry for free, rather than paying for laundry services at a hotel, was great! Also, being on a 2 week trip with only a carry on, we definitely needed to get some laundry done! The bedrooms were small, but had what we needed. The larger bedroom had a window where the smaller room did not. The kitchen and livingroom are also small, but after being in hotel rooms, this felt huge! The kitchen had all the supplies one would need for a long stay. The location was great, we were about at 20 min walk from downtown, so going out to eat and explore a bit in the evening was very easy to do. The staff was friendly and helpful with suggestions of where to go for food. I would definitely stay here again.
This is a great option for Queenstown! It's about a 10-15 minute walk to the downtown area - all down hill, which is great! ...walking back is not as fun, all uphill, but it's not the worst! The beds were comfortable, the staff was very friendly, and the little courtyard was really cute. It's very easy to get to the main downtown core from here, and is less than a 10 minute drive from the airport. This hotel is also very close to the Remarkables Market, about a 15 minute drive. If you are there when the market is open, you have to go! My friend and I spent about an hour wondering around, buying the best fruit, veggies, cheese, bread, and chocolate that we've had in a long time! I would stay at this hotel again.
I really enjoyed the gondola. Before we got to it, we saw a Kiwi Park, and we happened to get there 5 minutes before their last encounter of the day with Kiwi birds! My friend was all about this, so off we went! It was a unique experience - especially because they are nocturnal birds and I have horrible vision in the dark.. but I did see 2 of the birds! After this, we continued on to the gondola. The ride up was nice - as you get higher, the views get better and better! We noticed a lot of people going up on the gondola were taking mountain bikes with them - I didn't realize there were bike paths up there, it was very popular! Before you go out to the view point for pictures of the city and mountains, you walk through a building with some shopping, and some very interesting artwork on the walls - like a giant image of Frodo with the one ring... made out of jellybeans. It was pretty neat! The views from the top are amazing. I must have taken 100 photos! The mountains, water, and town are so incredibly photogenic. I was very glad I spontaneously decided to do this.
I stayed here for 1 night. It was a very large room. When we walked in, you were directly in the bedroom, then as you walked through, there was a large bathroom and a very large kitchen/Livingroom area. The Livingroom had 2 lazyboy chairs, and extra big fuzzy blankets, so we got very cozy, very fast! The view off the terrace was beautiful. We were right across from the lake. The best part of this motel, was when we got into our beds, we noticed the bed had an electric blanket under the sheets! We were there during fall, which was quite brisk, and these electric blankets were the best!!! The location was good - we were a very short 3 minute drive to a walking area which also had a small bird park inside. It was about another 2 minute drive down the road in the other direction to get to the main downtown core, where we found a grocery store and lots of restaurants. It is a cute little town, which would be nice for walking around in good weather. We also did another glowworm cave, which was maybe a 10 minute walk from the motel. I would absolutely stay here again.
I did a second glowworm experience but I wanted it to be different, so this time we did the boat tour. To get to the area where the glowworm caves are, it was about a 20-30 min boat ride each way. The views were beautiful as we made our way over. This tour involved a walk, some history and information, and then the cave exploration. It was an easy walk through the caves, then onto the tiny boats to go see the glowworms. It was pitch black and the caves weren't as tall where the glowworms were, so they were *right there*. The actual boat ride around the glowworms felt like it was about 15 minutes max. On the way out, we went to a spot in the cave with a waterfall and got to take pictures. We did the tour at night time, and when we came out of the caves, it was night time, lots of stars in the sky, and an almost full moon. It was quite the sight. I'm glad I did both the boat tour and the black labyrinth tours - both are great options. I recommend doing at least one of these tours if you go to New Zealand!
This is a full day experience (7 hours). It was an hour cruise/ferry across Lake Manapouri, to an hour bus over the Wilmot Pass and the Fiordland's rainforest, then the 3 hour cruise in Doubtful Sound, finally you go back by bus and cruise/ferry again. It made for a long day, but if you are a nature lover, this is a must do! The views are amazing, and the fjords are beautiful! The cruise has the option of being inside where it's warm and food is for purchase, or you can be outside on each level, with the most space on the top deck for taking pictures. Make sure to dress warm as it can be brisk out there on the water! Even though it's a long journey to get to the actual cruise, it's worth it - the views are amazing the entire time.
If you love nature, you must do this! There are different tours available, some 2 hours, some 3 hours. I did the 3 hours tour that included the underwater observatory. The views when you're simply parking your car to get to the cruise, are amazing. There's a pathway by the parking lot that takes you down a very scenic path. The other direction is the pathway to the cruise, which is about a 10-15 minute walk, depending on how fast you walk. The views on this cruise are beautiful! We saw waterfalls, rainbows, and dolphins swam up by our boat! I liked that it wasn't a full day cruise, and more of an afternoon adventure. You can be either inside to keep warm, or be outside to take amazing pictures. It's a great way to spend the afternoon. The tour we got included a picnic lunch, which was stuffed with more food than I was expecting! The underwater observatory was interesting, but I think I personally would skip this part if I did this cruise again. It was neat, but I mostly wanted to be on the water, seeing the views and taking pictures! I definitely recommend a Milford Sound Cruise.
I hadn't heard of Great Barrier Island, until my friend found this during our planning. This is an amazingly beautiful island just off the coast of New Zealand. You can get there by ferry (4.5 hours), or by plane (30 minutes). I did the plane roundtrip - but you should know it's the smallest plane I have ever been on, so if you're a nervous flyer, you might want to take the ferry! This island is like something out of a story book! It's amazingly beautiful and the few people who live here are incredibly friendly. The roads are very narrow in areas and the turns are tight! You never know who is going to be coming around the corner, but the locals are great drivers! Bazzah's Beach House was almost at the top of a hill overlooking the beach and general area. It was incredibly beautiful and relaxing. The house had 3 bedrooms, and worked on solar power, so you had to keep an eye on how much power you had. The owner of the house left super clear and easy instructions on what to do if the power went below a certain level, and she was very easy to contact when we had questions. The driveway up to the house was bumpy to say the least! You absolutely need to rent a car with 4 wheel drive to get up it. The beach was about a 2 minute drive or a 7-10 minute walk at most, and it is an insanely beautiful beach. Spending the last 2 days of our trip here was the best decision! We ventured out and drove around the island, spent time chilling at the beach, and watching movies at the house. The stars at night were amazing. We would just sit on the huge front deck and take it all in. It was a great way to end our amazing adventure in New Zealand.
I spent 1 night at this hotel, and I would say the name is very appropriate! This is definitely a budget hotel. It had more of a university residence feel, where the rooms were incredibly tiny and the beds were single size. At least, my room was! I believe you can get a larger room, but I did the best price of the day. The location is very close to the airport. There is a shuttle bus that costs a few dollars to get between the airport and hotel, or it is about a 15-20 minute walk from the airport. I walked there and took the shuttle bus back. Very easy to get around. For a post night, this was an easy option, though if I were to book here again, I would get at least one room category higher.
Disneyland was so much fun! I stayed at the Alamo Inn & Suites Motel, which is about a 10-15 minute walk from the park entrance. Great motel to stay at! I did a lot of pre-planning for this trip, booked my dining reservations, reserved my days at each park, and played a lot with the Genie Plus App. One of the great things about the Genie Plus app is that for Disneyland, it includes the photo pass - this isn't something Disneyworld does. My friend and I got there a day before our park passes were set to start, so we tried to buy an extra day pass on the spot - this unfortunately didn't work out for us as the parks have limited capacities now and they were fully booked up. Make sure to plan your days before getting there!! Instead, we spent the first day exploring Downtown Disney - we went bowling, shopping, and had some great food! We went on as many rides as we could over the 4 days we were there, and did both Disneyland and California Adventure. My favourite rides were Indian Jones Adventure, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and I loved Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout, and Web Slingers (Spiderman)! The nice thing about this park is that where it's so much smaller than Disneyworld, no car is needed between Disneyland and California Adventures, unlike Disneyworld where you need transportation to get between parks. That said, I think Disneyworld is my favourite between these 2 locations, but I still had an absolute blast at Disneyland!
It was very interesting staying in 2 different locations, which were only about 30-40 minutes away from each other and seeing how very different they were! Playa Mujeres is a quieter area with a great beach. The ocean wasn't super wavy so it was good for swimming. This is a newer destination to visit in the area, about 40 minutes from the airport. After my stay in Playa Mujeres, I went over to Cancun which was a much livelier area with a fun Caribbean party vibe! It was quite windy here, and the waves were intense, so I found it not a great beach for swimming. Both were great spots - but if you're looking for quite, relaxed spot, you might want to check out Playa Mujeres! If you want a happening, lively area - you want Cancun!
I really loved New York! This was my first trip and I will be going back! I was only there for 3 days, but was able to fit in a convention at the Javits Center, Times Square, a play (Book of Mormons - hilarious!), Top of the Rock, quick visit to Madison Square Gardens, Central Park (I did the horse and buggy, I couldn't help myself), saw the Statue of Liberty, the bull of Wall Street, and a visit at the 911 monument. I stayed at the Courtyard New York Manhattan/Chelsea hotel. This hotel is a great location! I took the train from the airport to Penn Station, and the hotel was about a 5-8 minute walk away. Super easy to get to. There were places to eat close by, some fun NY tourist shops, and a police station right across the street, so I felt very safe! Beds were comfy and the pillows were amazingly comfortable. There was a small cafe on the first floor, around the corner from the front desk, so it was a good spot to grab breakfast. There was also a small concession shop beside the front desk, but it was very expensive. I was in New York to attend the NY Comic Con at the Javits Center, which was about a 15-20 minute walk from the hotel. That convention center is huge. I took a cab once between the hotel and the Javits center - it took almost as long as it does to walk, thanks to NY traffic! If I go for another convention at the Javits Center, I will probably stay here again.
I stayed at the El Tambo I Hotel in Lima. It's a standard hotel in a quiet neighborhood, within walking distance to the waterfront, which had lots of restaurants and shopping options. There is also a market about a 20-30 minute walk away in the other direction, and a park with local art for sale. This hotel can accommodate large families as well - at first I was put in a room with 4 beds! One double bed and 3 twin beds. Once I let front desk know I was the only person in the room, they changed me to a room with 1 Queen bed. The breakfast area was a small room, but it had an outside area with one large table. The front staff was very friendly and there were no issues with language barriers. I recommend this hotel.
I stayed at the Cayman Lodge in the Amazon and it was amazing! It was about a 2 hour boat ride to get to the lodge, which was a fun experience in itself. While looking at the passing amazon rainforest, we would also stop when someone would spot an animal. The lodge itself is very much camp style. Be aware that you can hear everything in the cabin attached to you as the walls do not go all the way up to the ceiling. There was only power during breakfast and supper - the rest of the time, you actually had to talk to people, which was wonderful! With no power, that meant the cabins were lit by candle light. There are bug screens to put around your bed, which you unravel and tuck around the bed yourself. On the lodge grounds, there were animals running around and monkeys screaming in the trees. We did a night time jungle walk, which was very cool to see insects and animals you only see on tv - I didn't like the big hairy spiders though! One thing I do recommend about this lodge, is to bring your own pillow. The beds are hard, which is to be expected, but with the damp air of the rain forest, it makes the pillows heavy and hard. I would absolutely stay here again!
I stayed at the San Agustin Internacional Hotel in Cusco. The location was fantastic - close to shopping, food, and a big courtyard where there is more food, more shopping, and some public events - it was Earth day when I was there and there was a concert happening, which was pretty neat. My room was on the ground level, which was a bit noisy but nothing where I needed earplugs to sleep. The shower had really good pressure and the bed was comfortable. The staff was very friendly and helpful. There was a restaurant on site, I had breakfast there and it was very good. I recommend this hotel.
I stayed at the Tunupa Lodge here. It was within walking distance to shopping and restaurants, and the best part - it was a few minutes walk away from the train to Machu Picchu! The grounds of the hotel were beautiful - flowers everywhere and a stream in the back. The room was lovely and the bed was comfortable. I was there during a rainy time, and there was a damp smell in the room, but that couldn't be helped. If you're going on from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, this hotel is a great location.
I stayed at the Inti Punku Machu Picchu hotel. I would say it's about a 5 minute walk, or less, between the train from Ollantaytambo and this hotel. You are also about 1 minute walk to cafes and the big market area. The walk to the bus up to Machu Picchu is less than 10 minutes. Aguas Calientes is a really cute town with good food, and great tourist shopping where you can do all the bartering! I'm not good at bartering, but I had fun trying! My room at the hotel was a decent size and the beds (I had 2 double beds) were quite comfortable. I didn't realize at first, but one of my windows in the room faced the inside stair area - I recommend making sure of your window views and close the curtains accordingly :) The staff at the hotel was very friendly and you really could not beat the location.
I have wanted to visit Machu Picchu ever since I first heard about it in high school. To stand there, looking at the view (once the clouds parted!) was so surreal. I had tried to prep myself for the climb up the hill... but did not prepare quite enough! I took the bus up from Aguas Calientes but there is still a bit of a climb to get to the top of Machu Picchu. It involves walking uphill and climbing up old stone steps. I found myself out of breath doing this, but I picked up a trick from some other girls on the climb - if you raise your hands and put them on the top of your head it opens up your lungs and makes it easier to breathe. It worked! I honestly can't remember just how long it took to get to the top, I took a lot of breaks on the way up! When walking through Machu Picchu (after you take 1000 pictures of the view), there is a specific path to take so as to keep the traffic flow going, and you only have 2 hours to be there. My guide with Intrepid was fantastic - full of knowledge and able to answer all of our questions. I was lucky and got to go up again the next day, and this time, after climbing to the top and taking more pictures of the view, I did the Sungate Trail. This took about an hour-ish and was harder than expected. There were lots of stone steps, and of course, it's an uphill climb, but the view from the top is absolutely worth it! Being there was a dream. I am happy to have that checked off my bucket list!
Amazing! Biggest tip I can give about visiting the Rainforest - bug spray. Lots and lots of bug spay, and sunscreen, and a rain jacket! I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when visiting the Amazon Rainforest. I knew it was a Rainforest, but man, some of the insane rain I saw was intense! On the 2 hour boat ride from Puerto Maldonado, we were served lunch which was delicious! We saw some interesting animals and just looking out at the jungle kept me entertained. One night, we took a nighttime boat ride to look for night creatures. They took us to the middle of the river, shut off the little engine, and told us to just sit, listen, and take it in. The stars were incredible, and the sounds of the jungle were alive and so cool to experience! I enjoyed not having access to wifi or power. I did not enjoy the cold showers! It was an amazing experience that I won't forget any time soon.
I stayed at the Thistle Trafalgar Square hotel, on the recommendation of one of my clients. This is an amazing location! I was at Trafalgar Square, in the theater district, and around the corner from Piccadilly Circus, and within walking distance to Canada House, and the National Gallery (next door to my hotel), and was able to walk to the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Parliament House, the London Eye, and there is a massive tourist shopping/restaurant area just around the corner. The hotel itself is standard and clean. The front desk staff was very friendly and accommodating when I showed up early. I ate at the restaurant a few times - always found something to eat and the servers were very great. If you want a good location in a touristy area, I highly recommend this one!
I did a day tour to Stonehenge - there were lots to chose from, but where I didn't have a lot of time on this trip, I did a half day tour. This is essentially simply a bus that gets you there, a ticket in, and then time to explore on your own without a guide. I was there in April, which was freezing cold! I had no idea it would be so windy there! Even though I was shivering the entire time, I really enjoyed the experience. I got an audio guide to get a bit of history, and took all the pictures! I liked that you have a choice of either walking to the stones, or taking the bus. I opted for the bus where it was so cold. On a nice summer day, a walk would be lovely. I think it would probably take about 20-ish minutes to do the walk. After viewing the rocks, I went to check out the exhibit on the history of the area and the mystery of the rocks. After that, I went to the café for a hot chocolate before heading back to the bus. Even doing a half day tour, it still took up almost the entire day. It was just over 2 hours each way by bus, and I had 2.5 hours at the site, so it was a total of 6.5 hours. I got back to the city just in time to go to the theater that night. I found it a really neat experience and recommend others to check it out!
I did a bus tour of China with "On The Go Tours", and it was fantastic! We got a lot of distance covered in a good amount of time. We travelled by plane, bus, boat, local overnight sleeper train, high speed bullet train, and rickshaw! We got to do a cruise on the Bund in Shanghai, a visit to the Xian Terracotta Warriors, bike on the Xian city wall, saw the Shaolin Kung Fu Temple where we not only watched a Kung Fu demonstration, but also got a private lesson from a Master! We visited the Longman Caves (amazing site!), visited 2 sections of the Great Wall of China, went to markets and saw 2 cultural shows. The hotels were all 3 star or better - you do have the option to upgrade the hotels, and you can fly instead of taking the overnight sleeper train (which I recommend flying!). We had a local rep who stayed with us the full time, and additional local reps at each city we visited, who grew up there and know all the history. They were able to answer any question we had - and there were a lot at times! I definitely recommend this tour company. It was a good mix of hitting all the must see spots, and still allowing time for shopping!
I had a fantastic time with Norwegian Cruise Lines! I was on the Norwegian Spirit, which is a smaller ship, but still has a lot to offer. The staff was friendly and engaging, the food was good and there was always something going on. I was in an ocean view, picture window, mid ship cabin. The room was a decent size, and the bathroom was also a good size - the shower was bigger than I thought it would be, which was nice! There was a promotion that came along with my cabin category - 2 free promo items... I took the specialty dinning and unlimited drinks. The food was fantastic and the unlimited drinks was a great deal! Mykonos was windy and beautiful. The shopping was great, and views were amazing! Did I mention it was windy? Athens has fantastic history and the food... the food was so good! I did the hop on hop off bus, which was a great way to get around. Rhodes was my favourite spot. When I got off the ship, I met a taxi driver who took me to the beach he takes his family to... it was beautiful! It was a lovely way to spend the morning. There was also a restaurant right where we were dropped off at the beach - the food there is the best food on the entire trip. I want to go back! When I left the beach, I toured around the old town section, which has really great shopping. I spent entirely too much money here! I did an excursion in Santorini, which gave me free time to walk around to take pictures, and it ended with lunch which had a Greek dancing show, and we all got to smash plates! I only had about 3 hours in Chania (Crete). I took a cab into the downtown area, and walked around. There was really good shopping and lots of restaurants. It was a really pretty place. I wish we had more time there. My cruise also went to a few spots in Italy - Rome, Naples, Pompeii and Messina (Sicily). It was my first visit to Messina (great shopping city), and my 2nd time to Rome, Naples, and Pompeii. I had such a good experience with Norwegian, that I will absolutely cruise with them again!
I was lucky enough to see the following shows/attractions: Ka - Cirque du Soleil This show was amazing! The set/stage alone took my breath away. Sometimes I was slightly confused by what was happening, but it didn't even matter because the performance was brilliant. I loved it! David Copperfield I have been a fan of David Copperfield since I was a little kid. I got to sit about 8 feet from the stage, with no one blocking my view - it was great! He did some old tricks that I have on my VHS tapes from the early 90s, and he did new stuff as well. It was a really good time! Rock of Ages This was my absolute favourite show that I got to see. I don't even like musicals, and wasn't overly looking forward to it, but all the 80s and early 90s rock songs - I was singing at the top of my lungs the entire time! It was great! The actors were amazing, the band was great, and the songs were the best. I will go see this play again. Criss Angel Great show! High energy, very cool illusions/tricks, and there was comedy in there too. The Bodies Exhibit This was super cool - so long as you have a strong stomach! It's a very educational exhibit about the human body... by displaying dead bodies to show how we work. I will admit, a few times I had to sit down as I got a bit dizzy thinking about what I was getting up close and personal with... but I would go again! It was very neat. The High Roller at the Linq Even if you're afraid of heights, this is do-able. You go 535 feet in the air in an observatory cabin and the views at night are beautiful. You can get a cabin with a bar if that helps you get over your fear! It's a slow ride, taking about 30 minutes to complete. You go so slow, you don't even realize how high up you are, until you look down. I highly recommend doing this at night - it's more expensive, but definitely worth it. Red Rock Canyon (Pink Jeep Tours) If the Grand Canyon is too far for you to get to, or you just don't have enough time to make the long trek, Red Rock Canyon is a great day trip. It's maybe 30-45 minutes outside of Vegas, and once you're there, you're relaxed and at one with nature. The guides with Pink Jeep Tours love their jobs and you can see it in the way they talk about the area, teaching you things about the plants and land that you would never know otherwise. I thought this was a great trip, and it was definitely a high light of the week for me. Helicopter ride of the strip at night (Papillon Group) I definitely recommend if you do this, try to make it so a group of you is in 1 helicopter and not split up. It's a very quick ride, about 10-15 minutes in total, but it's really neat. You fly up and down the Vegas Strip while listening to fun music, like "Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis! It's hard taking pictures because of the shaking of the helicopter, so I recommend to just take in the moment and look all around. It's pretty neat!
I loved everything about this city! You can easily drive to some beautiful scenic areas close by, like: Portugal Cove - amazing views, you need to see it! Middle Cove - the lookout has great views, and the beach (rocks, not sand, is a great spot to spend the afternoon. Flat Rock and Red Head - it's kind of like it sounds - lots of flat rocks you can walk on! Quidi Vidi - My favourite spot I visited. You park near fishing boats and walk towards the ocean. It's amazing here, but you have to be comfortable walking in some narrow areas on rocks to get to the best spot! When you finally make it to the end, it's worth it - you're in a cove, looking at 2 cliffs that open up to the ocean. It was so relaxing here, I didn't want to leave! Blackhead - part of the East Coast Trail, I saw a path called Deadman's Bay Path... I didn't go on it! The view here was very pretty as well. Cape Spear - this is the most eastern part of Canada! I saw whales here!! There is a great walking path, and the lighthouse is a great spot for photo ops. Can't forget about Signal Hill, which you can see from downtown. When at the top, you have views of the town and of the ocean. It's really beautiful up there. If you're into photography like me, you will take tonnes of pictures and get some amazing shots! If you're a foodie, there are great restaurants to chose from - like Raymond's Restaurant, Mallard Cottage, Oliver's Restaurant, Rocket Bakery, The Reluctant Chef, The Gypsy Tea Room, Duke of Duckworth... I could keep going! When you're done dinner, why not stay downtown and hit up a pub for some local music, or go to George's Street and go pub/bar hopping! The entertainment is fantastic. If you're a shopper, there are plenty of places to spend your money on local art, specialty chocolates, and souvenirs. If you're more of a mall shopper, you can do that too. From jellybean house, to the famous 4 sisters houses, museums, art galleries, pubs and chocolate shops, St John's has something for everyone! One last word of advise - be careful if you're driving in St John's - if you're not a local, it's easy to get confused at some crazy intersections!
I had so much fun at Aquatica! There are so many fun waterslides, wave pools, and beach area with chairs to lounge/tan in. My favourite was Roa's Rapids - so much fun! Strap on a lifejacket and enjoy the rapids! Another great ride is the Dolphin Plunge, where you take a waterslide through a dolphin tank. There is another waterslide, the Ihu's Breakaway Falls where it is a drop slide (I was way too scared to try), it looks really intense! You can also rent a cabana for as low as $49/day. Discovery Cove offers a dolphin swim experience, lazy rivers, quiet beach areas, swim with sharks/stingrays/fish, snorkelling, and you can walk on the bottom of the lake. It's a great day trip! They also have random animals they bring out in common areas for people to see and learn about. It is an all inclusive place, so meals and drinks are included. It's a great laid back, relaxed atmosphere. SeaWorld has more to offer than I knew! There are some really scary, I mean, thrilling rollercoaster rides, water rides, penguins (that you have to take a ride to get to), dolphin shows, killer whale shows, pet shows with rescued animals, an area to fee stingrays and another area to fee dolphins, kid hot spot play areas, and there are even random stations through the park to charge your cell/ipad/camera. I had a lot of fun at this park! I also got to see a back area where they take care of rescued and injured animals before they release them back to the wild. It's a great place to spend the day!
I think the highlight of this park was the safari ride where you get to feed giraffes. That was pretty cool! There are so many animals you get to see, it was quite the experience. This park is another good one if you like rollercoasters or water rides. If you have kids, there's a big kids area with only one way out, so it's very easy to keep your eye on your kids. This area also has Sesame Street characters who have interactive shows with kids. It's very cute. There's also an area where you can feed birds, and other spot where you can see Cheetahs running around. If you get tired walking around, you can take a sky ride, or a train to get around.
If you ever wanted an airboat ride experience, this is the place to do it at! You have a choice of 30 min or 1 hr ride and it's really fun! Make sure you wear bug spray though!! After the boatride is a bbq and man, the food is amazing! There are so many animals in this wildlife park, it's a great learning experience. There's also an area where you can feed alligators and another area to feed birds. It's a really neat place to spend an afternoon.
I loved spending the day at this park! There is so much to do, and I definitely recommend getting a park to park ticket so you can go to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. As someone who gets motion sickness, I stayed away from the rollercoasters, but had a blast on other rides like the Minions from Despicable Me, Transformers, Spiderman, and Harry Potter! So much fun!! I really liked the Harry Potter World section, there is so much detail from the books, it was really neat! They will be opening a new Harry Potter section soon - the date isn't released yet, but it looks really good from what I could see! There is also a Simpson World and a Dr Seuss area - it's really fun to walk around. There is lots to do, see, eat and places to shop. I will absolutely go back to this park the next time I'm in Orlando.
I didn't really have a desire to go to Disney, but I wanted to see what it was like... and I am totally a Disney girl now! I actually skipped through the Magic Kingdom and could not stop smiling! It really is the happiest place on earth :) I only had the day to experience as much as I could, and I went to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, both are really great parks. I happened to go on a day when it rained and I now know that the park never closes! They might close some rides if the rain is too much, or there's lightening, but there are so many inside rides and lots of restaurants to go to, that you don't really feel like you have to wait for the rain to stop to have fun... so you don't have to worry about weather. They also sell rain ponchos at every store in Disney World, so you can stay dry. Fast passes are a great idea. You can pick 3 at a time and you have an hour to get use your pass. While you wait for one of the fast pass choices, you can go on any other ride that has a short line up, or grab a bite to eat. Downloading the Disney app is also really helpful for knowing the wait times at each ride so you can plan your day out better. The monorail system is easy to use and there are also buses to get between parks. You can always Disney employees around to help you out if you have any questions. I can't wait to go back!
Regal Oaks is located a few minute walk away from Old Town. It's a big carnival area that takes up a few blocks and it's filled with rides, games and shops. This is also where you catch the bus to Busch Gardens, which was really easy. The homes are newer, the back yard area is screened in and some homes have hot tubs, which was a great way to end the day. I stayed in a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home and found it very comfortable. The kitchen was large as was the livingroom area, and there was a laundry room in the house. The bathroom had face clothes and towels (and a few other towels were in the bedrooms), and hairdryers were provided. There were games by the tv left for us to play, and movies to watch. Other people travelling with me had a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home. All the homes were really nice, and there was a corner store and pizza place just a few minutes walk away. The homes also had wifi, which was really great! The location was about a 20 min drive to SeaWorld and about 30 min to Disney World.
These are great apartments for those needing 1 or 2 bedrooms. 80% of the rooms were 1 bedroom. The property includes free parking, wifi and there is no resort fee. Housekeeping and room service is included (*note the room service is at no cost, but the food is a cost). There are 3 pools (all with pool bars), 2 gyms, a kids play area, and a small store (open 8am-11pm) on site. All rooms have some kind of water view. They offer free transportation to Disney, and there are frequent rides to work with your schedule. It's a large property and very pretty. The apartments have screened in balconies to keep bugs out. There is an internet "link" station on site, which is great for printing tickets/boarding passes. There are also 1 and 2 bedroom villas, most are independently owned and rented out. The location is also ideal, they are only about 2 minutes drive from SeaWorld, less than 10 minutes to Universal Studios, and less than 5 minutes to the outlet shopping. It is a very family friendly property.
This is a very large property at 125 acres! The location is great - you're basically right ontop of Downtown Disney. They have 7 pools and 13 tennis courts. 80% of the rooms are 2 bedroom. There is a very large store on site, with an internet "link" area, and you can find pretty much everything you need there. It's very pretty, with a lot of water and green areas. Both 1 and 2 bedrooms have full kitchens, laundry rooms, and balconies. Some of the 2 bedrooms even have Jacuzzi tubs in the bathroom. Housekeeping is included in the cost. There is an area where you can rent dvds, and have access to tennis courts, basketball courts, volleyball and more. It's very family friendly.
This is a large property with golf on site. There is also a restaurant and bar that has great reviews. You can easily find a grocery store and Walmart near by to get any food/items you need. If you stay in the newest building (#32), and you're on the 6th floor, you can see the Epcot fireworks at night - that's how close you are to Disney! The rooms are large and have full kitchens, laundry room, and a balcony. There is no hairdryer in the room, but you can request one and it will be brought to you. All units are non-smoking and no pets are allowed. The only building to have a pool view is #31. That does not mean it's right ontop of the pool - just that you have a view of it. The common area has a good size pool with waterslide and there is either live music or a dj to keep things lively. There are 2 other pools on site, one is quiet and one is for adults only. The oasis rec centre has tennis court, the quiet pool, contiki bar, snack bar, bike rentals, basketball and more. The golf clubhouse has a restaurant and sports on the tvs. Some nights the clubhouse has a "drive in" movie theater on the course, where you drive a golf cart in and you can get snack food! I think that would be pretty fun to do. The clubhouse also has it's own wedding department to help coordinate your special day.
All the homes in this area have 24 hours assistance by phone, which is a really great feature! The homes are absolutely lovely and all of them have private pools with large backyard screened in areas. They are 1 level homes and have 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms. Most garages are set up as game rooms with a pool table and other fun games. You can set up housekeeping, but it is at an additional cost. You can also set up to pre-pay for 1day of food basics, so when you arrive, you have the basics so you don't have to go out and find a grocery store to get started.
Really beautiful homes, with up to 6 bedrooms available. All homes have a private pool with lots of lounging chairs around it, and some also have hot tubs. There is a common area on the property grounds with basketball and a tennis court. This would be a great area for a group booking or family reunion. Only 2 homes are pet friendly and handicap friendly, and they can be hard to get as they are in high demand. The garage is also a games room with a pool table and other games.
This is a very popular place to stay, and it's got a Tuscany look to it which makes it stand out in the area. They are condo apartments, 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms, with a laundry room in each unit. There is a kids play area and a common area with pool (closes at 7pm due to no lifeguard after that hour) and other games and internet station. One feature of this is that the 3 bedrooms have 1 large bed in each room, rather than 2 twins in 1 room. The location is good, you're only about 15-20 minutes away from Disney World, and you are a very short few minutes walk to a grocery store/Walmart/restaurants.
This is located across the street from a shopping area with a Publix, and a restaurant. It is also about a 15-20 drive to Disney World. The houses are very nice with large backyards. There is a community area with a common pool and a golf pro shop. It's an 18 hole golf course, and is a standard course at a good price. Some houses are 1 level and a few are 2 level. Most houses have a private pool. The patios are childproof - so everytime the patio door opens to the pool area, an alarm goes off.
This is a really pretty neighbourhood. Some houses are 2 levels, but most are 1 level, and the houses are really close together - which also makes it good for group bookings. The houses are spacious inside, with full kitchens, laundry room, and most have a games room in the garage. All homes have private pools, with lots of chairs around the pool for lounging.
This is another great option for families. There is a lot to do to keep the family entertained! They have a waterpark, 2 pools, a lazy river, virtual golf, a tennis court and will soon be adding a lot more. They are really cute homes in a good location. There is a $12.50USD/day resort fee per unit, but that includes parking, wifi and shuttle service. You can rent out a cabana by the pool for $40USD/day, which includes a mini fridge and a tv. There is a kids game room (which looked really fun), and with the virtual golf, it's a 1 hour long session, $15 per person and you can do a golf course or the driving range - I wish I could have tried it out! At night, this virtual golf area turns into a movie theater.
The standard lead in room impressed me, and the upgraded rooms were great - I really like this hotel! There are big windows that let in a lot of natural light, which I loved. Laundry services are included, and there are safes and hairdryers in the room. The art in these rooms were really nice - they caught my eye and I really like them. They have a family suite, which is a step up from the 2 bedroom suite. There is a good size pool on site and wifi is available throughout the hotel. There is a $15/day resort fee, but that includes the wifi, towels, parking, shuttles to Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Stuios.
I stayed at one of these vacation homes. They are a little older, however, they offer a lot that the newer homes don't - you have a private pool, community pool/area, tennis, and golf on site. They are no face clothes, so make sure to bring some, but they do have towels. They are good size homes and the private pools are decent sizes as well. There was a games room in the garage and movies left by the tv. Long distance phone calls were included in the price, so a few of us took advantage of that to call home. It is a guarded residential area, which gives you a sense of security. It's close to restaurants, and is about a 20 minute drive to Universal Studios and about 30 minute drive to Disney World.
I can't say enough how much I loved this resort hotel! It's got a 50s/60s theme and the music that plays throughout the property just made me smile! They have a great color scheme and lots of retro looking furniture! There is a bowling alley on the 2nd floor, a dinner with 4 movie screens that plays 50s/60s shows (and a few of today) and there are 50s/60s cars outside the dinner for show. It's a really cool atmosphere! It's also only a 15 minute walk to Universal Stuidos, so if that is the focus of your trip, it's a great place to stay! There are 1800 rooms, 2 pools, a lazy river and is a non-smoking, family friendly property. It is also the only hotel that has a Universal Studios gift shop that sells all Universal gifts. The hotel rate does not include a Universal Express pass (fast pass), or water taxis to the park, but you can buy a Universal Express pass for $90USD/day per person, which is good for both Universal and Islands of Adventure. For the restaurant on site, it isn't full service - it's more of grab and go, counter service, serve yourself, pay for it and then go to the dinner area with the 4 big movie screens. If you buy a mug on site, you can get a 1 day/2 day/3 day/length of stay all day pop refills. You buy the mug, a barcode is put on the bottom and the pop machines read them and dispense drinks accordingly. There are 900 standard rooms (all interior rooms, also called Tower Rooms), and 900 family rooms (300 interior based, 600 exterior base - also called Courtyard Rooms). The pool is quite large and there's a sand area for lounging, and there is a snack bar right there. There is free wifi in the rooms, lobby and pool area. The rooms are beautiful. They are colorful, decorative and fun! 50-60% of all rooms have adjoining rooms to the same room type. Rollaways are not available. There is a rec centre, a fitness centre, and as mentioned earlier - a 10 lane bowling alley! The cost to bowl is $9 per person, per hour and shoe rental is $4 per person. You can also find a full restaurant with bar at the bowling alley, but it's for bowlers only. I will stay there the next time I plan a trip to Universal Stuidos!
Punta Cana is a fantastic location if you're looking for long beaches, big resorts, and happy people! I was lucky to be at a resort that had lots of shade on the beach - I burn fast, so having shade is very important to me. Not all resorts have this luxury, some only have palm trees for shade. I was never disappointed with the food, and the staff at all resorts I visited were very friendly and helpful. They know this is your vacation and they want to make it memorable for you. The beach market is full of great art. Haggling on prices is something I definitely need to learn how to do better! So many deals are to be found here! There are plenty of excursions that you can book - from dune buggies, to half day or full day sailing trips, deep sea fishing and horseback riding, there's something for everyone at this beautiful beach destination!
This is a deluxe property that has 1000 rooms and it is rated a 4 diamond hotel. There are water taxis on site to take you to Universal Studios or you can use a free shuttle bus. The rate at this hotel includes the Universal Express pass (fast pass), and you have charge card privilege - what this means is you just take your key card with you and charge all items (even over at Universal Studios) to your room, and they will be delivered to your room by the next day. All of this would be paid for at check-out. This hotel also offers 24 hour room service, and offers concierge desk, park ticket desk, and Hertz car rental all in the lobby. You are only a 10 minute walk to Universal, so it's a great location. There are club floors to offer upgrades, and there is also a pool on site. The gym here is at a cost of $10 per person because it also offers a sauna and stream room.
If you love music, you'll love this hotel! Everything is focused on music. There is loud music in the lobby, and of course you will find the typical Hard Rock style of band memorabilia throughout the property. This hotel is rated 4 diamond and has 650 rooms. They have a concert in the lobby 10 times a year, on the last Thursday of the month. Cost for the concerts is low, so it's good for both guests and locals to attend. The rooms are fun and the mirrors tell you how tall certain artists are. 50-60% of the rooms are adjoining, so it's a great spot for big families. There is a pool with a large waterslide and table tennis by the pool. There is a restaurant on site with really good food. The location is ideal to Universal Studios, as it's the closest hotel to the park at only a 5 min walk away.
I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Old City Istanbul - the only 5 star hotel in the old city (Constantinople). This is a great location - there was a small grocery/convenience store about a 2 minute walk away with fresh fruit and lots of snacks, there is lots of shopping in this area (and in the main lobby), and it's only about a 10 minute walk to the Grand Bizaar! There is also a currency exchange close by as well, which was really convenient. The staff is very friendly and they spoke english, which was helpful! The first night I stayed here, I was in a tiny room. I'm talking tiny! But it was functional and I had no issues with it. The second night I stayed here, I was in a corner suite - it was massive! It was one of the most amazing rooms I have ever stayed in. There was a sitting section, a living room, a work area, big bedroom with king size bed, 2 bathrooms, and had a great view of the mosque across the street. The only negative thing I have to say about this hotel is if you have a room that looks out on the street, take ear plugs if you're a light sleeper - it can be really loud outside at night!
I stayed at the Double Tree Cappadocia - most soft, comfortable beds ever! I wish all hotels had beds like the ones here. The rooms are really nice and a decent size and had a safe in it. A really nice feature was the bedroom windows opened - most hotels don't do that. The food is buffet style and there was a really good selection, and the desserts were really good! The hotel staff is friendly, but there can sometimes be a bit of a language barrier. As for location, next door is where you can experience the Whirling Dervishes - it's a mesmerizing cultural experience. Other than that, there isn't much you can walk to, but we were a short drive to the hot air balloon area. Do the hot air balloon! It's an amazing experience!
I stayed at the Spa Hotel Clossae Thermal. The rooms are very basic. The food is buffet style and not much selection. The main feature here is the location - they have a thermal spa in their hotel, and you're only a short drive to Hierapolis ancient city. You must go visit Hierapolis! There are natural hot springs on a cliff, ancient ruins, a necropolis, amphitheater, and I can't forget the best part - the antique pool that Marc Anthony gave to Celopatra. That was an amazing experience to swim in it - I did not want to get out!
This was a really nice hotel, right on the Agean Sea! I had a corner room and the views from my room were amazing. The bed was comfortable, the rooms were large - I had 2 walls of windows looking out on the sea, it was beautiful. The staff was friendly and the food was good. You are a short walk to the popular beach area, but you would need to drive into the city for entertainment/shopping. There is a safe in the room, but it is at a cost of 2 Euro/day, and when you're at the buffet dinner you still have to pay for bottled water - 1 litre is 5 Lira. One piece of advice - if you buy food outside of the hotel, and they see it in your minibar, they will charge you hotel prices for it.
I got the chance to stay the night at this resort... in the most amazing room I have ever been in! The room was a Beachfront Hideaway Presidential One Bedroom Butler Village Suite. Just wow. I had a big terrace with a small private beach area, the room itself had a fully stocked liquor cabinet, dinning area, huge livingroom, bedroom with the most comfortable king size poster bed with canopy and amazing pillows, and my bathroom - it was massive. It had a huge double sink vanity, a change room, a stand alone shower, a jacuzzi tub and private toliet. I did not want to leave this room! The entertainment on site was really good and the food was delish. The beach is great with lots of chairs and shade. There was one downside - it's really close to the airport, so you see and hear planes take off. I couldn't hear anything when I was in my room or inside the property, but it can't be missed when you're outside.
The resort itself is very nice. As soon as you walk in the lobby, you're looking right out to the beach, which is beautiful. The hallways are lined with walls of big windows showing the view of the beach, which is very nice, and there was good shopping in the hallway as well. I did notice the grass between the resort and the beach had quite a bit of water - which results in some bug issues. The other downside that I noticed was that construction was going on across the street. It's a very big project and I'm not sure how long it will continue for. The sounds of construction can be drowned out by the ocean waves, however, if you have a room facing the road, you're looking directly at construction. The resort really was quite beautiful and the beach was very nice. The pool is a good size and has a fun looking waterslides! On the other side of the property is the Barcelo Cayo Libertad. This resort is a second section to the Blau Marina Varadero, and is definitly a great side to be on. I didn't notice any swampy grass area, so I think bugs would not be an issue over here. It's a very quiet section, so it's be great for those looking for the relaxing, romantic getaway. Also, you cannot see the construction from this side, which is another plus. The main pool here is a bit smaller, but you can still go over to the Blau and have access to the bigger pool and a la cartes over there. It's a good idea to get a cart to drive you over when you want to go over to the Blau side... it's a bit of a distance. The beach is private and very nice, but a bit on the smaller side. The suites can be 2 levels and very romantic. I preferred this side to the Blau side.
The Barcelo Solymar is the side for younger people to go to! It's a large property wtih 4 a la cartes and 6 bars, and itpretty close to Varadero. There is a large pool where the animators are, and if you prefer a quiet pool, there is a smaller pool in the middle of the property, in between the Solymar and Arenas Blancas. I did notice with the main big pool, there were lots of chairs, but not much shade. The main building has elevators for convience. Standard rooms were very nice and the beds were softer than other resorts, which I really liked. The rooms also had 2 floor to ceiling mirrors, 32" flat screen tvs (which I didn't see at any of the other resorts I went to), and all new furniture in main building rooms. Their theater for nightly entertainment turns into their disco to keep the good times going! There are also bungalows in the Solymar section, which looks more like a resort. Its in this area that has the quiet pool. The beach is nice and wide, with soft sand. The Barcelo Arenas Blancas, in my opinion, is more for families and older travellers. This side of the resort has 3 a la cartes, 1 buffet and 3 bars. They have an underground bar as well that looked pretty neat. The main pool is a good size, and right beside it is a 315 year old cactus tree - the 2nd oldest one in Varadero. Only half of the rooms have been renovated with the same upgades as the Solymar, and they are not planning on renovating anymore. The beach is on a bit of a hill, but has nice sand and lots of chairs, but not much shade. Both the Solymar and Arenas Blancas have full access to each others restaurants/pools/entertainment.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Edinburgh City West. This hotel is not in the downtown core, but it's less then 10 pounds to get from the hotel to the main downtown area. There is internet access at the hotel, for an additional fee. The hotel staff was very accommodating and friendly and the roooms suited what I needed - it was clean, room service was fast and the food was good.
I stayed at the Galway Oyster Hotel, which is about a 10 minute drive outside of Galway, and about a 15-20 Euro cab ride. There's a really good pub right around the corner from the hotel, but the more lively entertainment is downtown in Galway. I wish I could have spent more time in Galway - it is a beautiful spot! The shopping was great and you can even get a Claddagh Ring from the store where it was originally created. The night life in Galway is amazing! I had so much fun being out on the town - there were pub and bars with great live bands. I definitely want to go back to this town! You are also a short drive to the ferry that takes you over to Aran Island. It's very beautiful there, i recommend taking the trip over.
This is a big property at 35 acres and only 150 rooms. One quick warning is that there are a lot of stairs here! If one has mobility issues, it's best they stay in the beach front area to avoid the stairs. There are also shuttles up to the lobby to assit. There are mineral springs and a mineral pool that you can go into. The food here is delish! The rooms are really nice and some are still going through renos, but they plan to be done this in the next 2 years. This resort is environment friendly and has bikes that are free to use on site. They also created a beautiful pond area that is filled by recycled water from the resort. The pond is home to fish and a bunch of turtles who come right up to you if you go near the water. Just past the pond is a private au natural section for those brave enough to go bare! The resort has a private beach which is small but nice, a bit narrow and does allow topless bathing. There is a spa on site that has treatment rooms on the cliffs over the water, it's an amazing view from there! Another nice perk at this resort is that it has complimentary wi-fi and there's also an internet cafe if you don't have a smart phone or tablet with you.
This resort made me feel like I was in Jamaica - not at a resort. It was amazing! It's very quaint, but also quite upscale. The beach is small, but wider than most, with lots of chairs and shade. The rooms are a bit small, but still beautiful. The reason the rooms are small is because they focus on the balconies - they are huge and really nice! This resort has had some famous guests - Marilyn Munroe honeymooned here and Winston Chruchill also vacationed here - there is a section dedicated to him as well. There are no tv's in the rooms here, so you can spend more time out in the sun, on the beach or in the pool, however, you can request tv's in the cottage rooms. There are only 52 rooms at this resort, and the staff here is super friendly! There are adjoining rooms and in the summer they only accept kids ages 10 and older and in the winter they accept kids ages 12 and older - they do not allow younger children. One thing this resort doesn't have is an all inclusive plan, however, you can buy a meal plan on site.
The focus of this resort is health and wellness, and offers gulten free food options. There is a smoothie/juice/water bar where no alcohol is served. Wifi is free in the rooms, which is a great feature! There are 2 beach areas on site, one is very tiny and the other is a bit larger. You can find an area with hammocks to chill in, which looks very relaxing. If you like to eat, they have 24 hour food options, when one closes, another opens! The pool and beach have concierge service, and the beach has lots of chairs and a decent amount of shade. There are a few pools on site and one of them is a good size with a waterfall and a swim up bar. For any kids, there is a pretty big waterslide at another pool as well. Above this area is a piano bar that is very popular and always packed at night! If you like entertainment in the evening there is a disco on site. The spa can do treatments in many locations throughout the resort, so you don't have to be in the spa if you don't want to.
I stayed at the Loch Ness Lodge Hotel Drumnadrochit. Can you say tarten, tarten, tarten!?! So much plaid everywhere you look! I thought it was great! This hotel is a short drive from the famous Loch Ness, where you can go searching for Nessy (which I did!). The hotel staff was friendly, the bar service was execeptional and there was free wifi in certain areas of the lodge. Also, right next door to the hotel is a Nessy museum.
I stayed at the Waterfoot Hotel, which has free wi-fi! This hotel is located just outside of Derry, so you would need to get a cab to go into the city for shopping/site seeing/entertainment. The staff was pleasant and the food was good. There is a lot of interesting history in this divided city, I recommend doing a walking tour.
I stayed at the Jury's Inn Cork. It's your typical standard hotel, it's clean, the staff is friendly and is in a decent location downtown. This hotel had the best breakfast of all the hotels I stayed at my week in Ireland - it was quite delicious! Internet is an additional charge.
I stayed at the Kilford Arms Hotel. This is a really unique hotel - the bar is made to look like church ruins, but in the neatest way possible! I have no idea if it is real ruins, or if they just created it, but in anycase, I couldn't help but take a bunch of pictures of it! The location is very ideal, right in the downtown core. The Kilkenny Castle is a few steps away, and the shopping area is right across the street from the Castle. The hotel is quite large, clean and the rooms were very nice. There was a karaoke bar about 2 minutes from the hotel, which was more fun than I could have imagined! The nightly entertainment in Kilkenny was a lot of fun! Internet at the hotel is an additional charge, except in the lobby there is free wi-fi.
I stayed at the Regent Hotel Oban, in Oban. This hotel is right in the downtown area, where you can find restaurants, shopping, entertainment and the waterfront, all just steps away. The water is right across the street and provides very pretty views from the rooms. On the other side of the hotel, there is a view of a colosseum where you can go for great photos of the town/water. The restaurant was good and the hotel staff was very helpful. If you are interested in internet, it is at an additional cost.
I stayed at the Ibis Hotel Glasgow. The rooms were standard, the food was good and there was internet access (for an fee). If you only wanted a few minutes on the internet, you can use a computer in the lobby and for 1 pound, you get 10 minutes of internet time. Glasgow is known for it's shopping and this hotel is within walking distance to the popular shopping area. About a 5 minute cab ride away is the Necropolis City of the Dead cemetary. This is a beautiful old cemetary with eleboarte graves and very pretty views of the city - a great place to take some interesting photos. I found the hotel to be pretty central in the city, and the service was good.
I stayed at the Jury's Inn Parnell Street. This hotel is within walking distance to great shopping and the famous Temple Bar area. You are also close to Trinity College - it's a bit further of a walk, but not too bad. The hotel staff was helpful and the food was good. I found it to be a decent hotel and the location made it ideal. Internet is an additional cost.
This is an 18 plus adult resort. If you don't want to be around kids, this is a great resort to stay at! The only difference between the room categories is location - they all have the same amenities, so if you're travelling on a budget and can't afford the highest category, a standard room is just as good! Wi-Fi is free in certain areas of the property, but costs to have it in your room. The Japanese restaurant (just above the lobby) had private tables of 10 which makes the experience more unique. This resort is also in a good location - it's 10 minutes away from Ocho Rios, 7 minutes away from Mystic Mountain, and 5 minutes away from Dolphine Cove. Everything is pretty close by if you wanted to venture out and about. There is an open air gym and it's pretty big! The spa is just upstairs from the gym and you can get massages done there or on the beach, in your room, or in the water (new feature). There is a 9 hole golf course on site, and an 18 hole course off site - green fees are included but transportation is $10. The pool has a swim up bar and there's 24 hour dinning options. The beach is small, but has lots of chairs and a decent amount of shade. This resort offers an exclusive 6 course dinner on the pier - all guests are welcome. If it rains, it's held inside with an show to watch. There's also a "dive in movie" where the movie is shown on a screen floating in the pool. You just chill in a chair, grab some popcorn and enjoy! After the movie, you can always go to the disco and dance the night away!
This hotel is right beside the Sunset Jamaica Grand. It's your standard basic hotel that if you need to spend a night in Ocho Rios and you're on a tight budget, this will work! It's right on the beach and also has a pool on site with a swim up bar. It's great for families because there are rooms with 3 double beds which holds up to 6 people. This is not an all inclusive hotel, but you can purchase a meal plan when you arrive. Wifi is not in the rooms, but you can access it in the restaurant and on the pool deck. There is a laundry room with washers and dryers accessible to the guests.
Here I stayed at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, which is basically on a cliff. Great view! The beds were single in size and hard. The balcony was great, there was a chair for lounging and view was breathtaking. The food at the restaurant was great and the staff was really friendly. There was a computer to use in the lobby with free internet access. The roads are really windey and the driving is slightly nervewrecking with cliffs on one side of the bus. i highly recommend taking gravol for these roads!
I stayed at the Hotel Claridge. It's a nice hotel in the midst of renovations and changing over to the Hilton Garden Inn. Restaurant on site had good food and decent prices. The beds were single in size, and hard. There were small balconies to walk out on, which were really nice. The shower was great!! Location is about a 5-10 minute drive from downtown attactions. There is a street car right ouside the building whcih makes it easy to get around, and you can buy tickets at the front desk. The street car went right to Vatican City, which was ideal. There is also a grocery store across the street, so it was easy to grab snack food.
Here I stayed at the Hotel Conca Park. It had an amazing view of the ocean and Sorrento. It was a decent sized room, and again had single, hard beds. There was only a standup shower, which was pretty small, but decent all the same. The balcony was small, but nice with a small table and 2 chairs for lounging, which was great because the view was beautiful! From this hotel, it's just a short drive to the downtown area, where you can get the hydrofoil to the island of Capri.
This resort used to be a Hilton property. They have made some really great changes to the place. They are almost finished adding on a new theater, their lobby bar is beautiful, and they have a sports bar, gym, spa and gormet restaurants. There is a kids club and waterpark, a tennis court, soccerfield and golf near by. The beach here is also great! The tower section is all oceanview room, and the Villas are gardenview. Very nice resort.
This resort used to be the Hyatt Cancun. 95% of the rooms are oceanview. The first floor level rooms are more pool view/plam tree view/a little ocean view. The rooms are very nice and comfortable, and have a good sized balcony. There are great rooms to accomodate conventions, meetings, weddings and receptions. They have a roof top night club, which is very nice! The Italain restaurant has a policy of no kids under the age of 13 and has live music every night. The beach here is amazing! The pools are also really nice, I especially enjoyed this kind of hammock section near a pool. The Oriental restaurant is one of the most beautiful resturants I saw in the Cancun area. It has such a great atmosphere, I couldn't stop looking all around. This restaurant also has the age limit of 13 and over only as well.
This place is amazing! There is so much to do, it's hard to figure out what you want to do first! There's swimming, snorkelling, lazy rivers, caves to explore, swimming with dolphins or manaties, sea treks and more! The food is good and the staff is great. It's definately worth checking out! This place is probably the most fun memory of my time in Mexico.
Very nice resort, has a modern feel to it. The rooms are beautiful and very large. Premier rooms have a vip lounge with concerige service, snacks, drinks and computer access. 24 hour room service included, and the service is fast and the food is good. The beach is nice, but a bit rocky. The pools are nice and the staff is very friendly.
Very nice resort. Platinum rooms have private lounge and buttler service. Every night is a new theme in their buffet, and their a la cartes do not need reservations - except for the Mexican restaurant, you do need reservations there as it is very popular. In the Mexican restaurant there is also a tequilla sampling room, which is really neat! They have tennis on the rooftop, and a kids club beside the pool so the parents can keep an eye on them. The beach is nice, and has lots of chairs. This is good for families, and also has an adult section which has massage tables set up by an outdoor hot tub. The family section is really great. The rooms can accommodate big families, as there are murphy beds in many of the room types. There is also a 3 bedroom sute that can hold up to 8 people, has a full kitchen with a full size fridge, full dinning room, massive balcony with jacuzzi, and 3 bathrooms - georgeous rooms! This is a really great property, I would love to go back!
This adult only (18+) resort is great for couples, and has a very romantic feel to it. It's between Playa Del Carmen and Cancun, so you have lots of options for going out. It's also a great location for excursions and there are golf courses near by. They have a turtle egg protection program, where if you're there when the eggs hatch, they give you a baby turtle to put in the ocean! The food here is amazing and you dont' need reservations. The pool is HUGE! There are 6 handicap rooms, 3 in the Deluxe Junior Suite rooms, and 3 in the Swim Up Junior Suites. These rooms also have connecting rooms incase you need someone to travel with you for assistance. Internet is free in every room and in the lobby as well. If you do not have an internet cable with you (every room as internet plugs), you can get one from the concerige desk. As long as you bring it back undamaged, there is no charge. 24 hour room service is included, which I love! The beach can be a bit rocky, but it's quite long. The right side of the beach is more pure sand, and the left side has more rocks. This is a very beautiful resort with a very friendly staff.
Please know that we feel Lisa is a valued asset to your business and, should the need arise in the future for us to plan a trip, we will be seeking the assistance of Lisa because of her easy going, fun loving, helpful and unbiased assistance. It would be great to see all service employees be as knowledgeable, personable and willing to accomodate the needs of their customers as Lisa. She may serve you well in training times or as an example of how best to perform the duties of a travel agent.
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