Trips Travel Agency

Trips Travel Agency is a Luxury Travel Concierge company that specializes in international travel for the discerning client. Whatever you need we can make it happen!

Filtering by Category: Hotels

Hotel Review: El Dorado Seaside Suites

Every so often I find a new gem of a hotel to love and this is it in the all inclusive category.

One thing to note is that while on this trip, all the beaches were filled with a quite invasive weed called Sargassum; read all about it here.

Needless to say all the hotels in the area tried to keep up with it but it seemed determined to take over all the beaches. This did not dampen the fun at the resort as there was the pool and of course my favorite hide out space on my balcony pool. I still had a fabulous time!

Hotel: El Dorado Seaside Suites by Karisma

Location: Riviera Maya, Mexico

Time of Visit: July 2018

Overview: Having visited the Cancun hotel zone many years ago  I much prefer the Rivieria Maya and Playa del Carmen area. It's more of a peaceful zone with lots of upscale all inclusive properties such as the Grand Velas, Banyan Tree Mayakoba and more. Additionally many of the attractions such as Tulum, Xcaret and Dolphinaris are all nearby. 

What I Loved: The swimout pools on your balcony were the best. They offer a peaceful oasis for swimming and a great  to view watch the morning sun. If you want something a bit more lively choose a room that has a swimup pool on the main level in the Infinity section. These pools are attached to the main activity pool, placing you right in the center of the action.  

You won't find the balcony swim out pools in the Palms section but many do offer the swim up pool attached to a lazy river. The Palms section is also just as nice and has the walkable and more swimable beach. 

Thinking about spending the day at the beach? Be sure to grab yourself a Bali bed and reserve it before breakfast. Don't forget to bring an empty beach bag to hold your bed so no one thinks it's empty. 

Accommodations: Very spacious rooms indeed. You won't feel cramped if you have 3 people in the room. Each room  comes with a whirlpool bathtub in the bathroom. 

 In room whirlpool

In room whirlpool

Food: The buffets better known as the Gourmet Inclusive Experience were worth it. There was a variety of options everyday. If you want something other than the buffet try one of their a la carte restaurants. Although get there before 7pm as it can be a wait of 40 minutes or more for one of those restaurants. If you are looking to dine at 8pm or later choose one of the  buffets instead. 

Fun Fact: The produce is fresh because it's grown in the company's greenhouse year round. 

 Appetizer from Mia Casa- an Italian a la carte restaurant

Appetizer from Mia Casa- an Italian a la carte restaurant

Spa: The resort has a very relaxing spa called the Naay Spa where you can go through the water theraphy. This was a series of body mud, followed by hot and cold steams before reaching the main pool and lastly the hot, warm and cold baths. Your spa butler will explain the purpose of each station and guide you along in the session. You should factor in an hour before your massage in order to enjoy the water theraphy.

Note: There are 2 spas one in Infinity section with no water therapy and one at the main building with the water therapy  

Things to Know: Leave the AC on in your room, no matter how cold it is especially  if you're in the Infinity section. If you don't the humidity will build up and cause you to have a very slippery floor.  Secondly, this hotel is an all-inclusvie adults only hotel, making it great for hotel for couples looking to rekindle their romance.  Lastly the walls are thin, I could the conversations in the next room. 

Sister Resorts: This resort is part of the overall Karisma Hotel brand with several locations around the world including Croatia, Jamaica and Dominican Republic just to name a few. I visited its other Mexico resorts such as the Casitas Royale, the Eldorado Maroma Suites and the Azul Properties in the surrounding area. The one thing that each property had in common was their proximity to the beach. Unlike the behomth properties you don't have to walk far to get to the beach from your room.

Still each had their own nuances. For instance, the Maroma Suites has the Palofitos, which are the overwater bungalows. I orignally thought the water below them was deep but it isn't and allows for a soak in the crystal blue waters and to view the small fish that wade in the water. Meanwhile a stay at the Casitas will allow you access to 3 resorts, Generations Riviera Maya and El Dorado Royale and so on. 

There's so much more to say about these resorts but it's  best  to experience them yourself.

Looking for more of our first hand reviews check out the following posts!

Ready to go? Ask us how we can get you there by dropping us an email at info@tripstravelagency.com

Until next time, keep traveling!

KJ

Russia- World Cup 2018

              As summer quickly approaches, our dreams of vacation become stronger and stronger. This summer is special due to a tournament that is only played every four years: The World Cup. Not only is this a historical and thrilling tournament, but it is hosted by Russia, a country steeped in history and culture. The World Cup the legendary soccer tournament will feature some of the best of the best in this sport, such a Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, and Luis Suarez. This tournament will be buzzing around cities all over Russia giving you the opportunity to enjoy this country in its pure fullness. 

                    If you visit this city during the tournament, you will witness a city alive with color and spirit, but as it comes to be, getting tickets to these matches is extremely difficult. Even though you may not be able to go to the matches themselves, it does not mean there isn’t a lot still to do and see. Three of the cities we are excited most for are Moscow, Ekaterinburg and St Petersburg. All these cities are filled with beautiful architecture, delicious food, and vibrancy that only comes with a city alive with summer weather and national pride.

moscow.png

              Moscow is the nation’s cosmopolitan capital and is filled with adventure and intrigue. At the very core of this city is the Kremlin, a building that is home to the president and is the historic center for this city and its past. What separates the Kremlin from the outside is the Red Square, which gives light to the vibrant architectural past of this city.

                  Visit the beautiful St. Basil’s Cathedral and make sure to take a guided tour of these historical landmarks that express so much of Russia’s historical and cultural past. Even as you are getting around Moscow, you are exposed to its iconic architectural influences within the Russian metro. Not only is this metro clean and efficient, but the stations themselves are works of art. To make your stay in Moscow even more enjoyable, stay at the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow. Not only is this a five- star hotel, but it also offers a fantastic view of the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral. The building itself dates back to 1898, but their contemporary décor makes these 227 elegant rooms a must stay. When out on the town, some delicious eats includes Vai Me!, a charming Georgian restaurant with great food and music or Lepim i Varim, a great local find with delicious pelmeni. 

                 Ekaterinburg is another piece of Moscow’s diverse tapestry and worth a visit when you can’t go to the matches lined up for this summer. For a luxurious experience, make sure to the stay at the Hyatt Regency Ekaterinburg, that totes its five-star rating and is located on the bank of Iset River. This luxury hotel is also a short distance from city hall, Cathedral-on-the-Blood (or the Church of All Saints), and the Opera Ballet House.

ekaterinburg.png

While there, also be sure to visit the Visotsky Business Center Lookout for the most beautiful view of the city from the observation deck and the Yekaterinburg War Memorial, which honors the soldiers who died in Russia's Afghan War. The highlight of Ekaterinburg is the Sevastyanov’s House, which is a beautiful example of the neo-gothic style present throughout the city. While perusing through the city, make sure to visit Moi Drug Olive and Pashtet for delicious Russian food and insanely tasty borsch.

                  St. Petersburg is one  of Russia’s most notable cities with food and culture to spare. Not only should you visit the Hermitage Museum, one of the most famous art museum’s in the world, founded in 1764, but also feel like a royal as you explore the Winter Palace and Peterhof Palace.

St. Petersburg

This city by the sea is filled with art and history and taking the time to explore the past is well worth your time. Further enjoy your visit by staying at the Hotel Asotria, which itself is a St. Petersburg landmark. This beautiful hotel sits directly across from St. Isaac’s Cathedral and its rooms are luxurious and tranquil amidst the bustling city streets. For a unique experience, visit the Mazzaro’sI Italian Market to get a little taste of Italy while walking through the beautiful streets of St. Petersburg. Overall, make this trip more than just about soccer, but about a complete cultural immersion.

For the schedule and more information on the World Cup visit: https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/.  

Need help planning your trip to Russia, send us an email at info@tripstravelagency.com

Happy Travels! 

 

 

Journey to Japan

There’s so much more to Japan than Tokyo and Kyoto. Take a journey with me to the Setouchi area of Japan. This is the largest inland sea in Japan and comprises of 3,000 islands spread amongst 7 prefectures- Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama, Hyogo, Ehime, Kagawa, and Tokushima.

 Hiroshima

Hiroshima

Popular cities you’ll find in this area include Kobe, home of Kobe Beef located in Hyogo Prefecture and Hiroshima, located in Hiroshima Prefecture. On my first trip to Japan, I discovered that there is more to this area than these two cities.

In Hiroshima, you will be steeped in history learning about the infamous day the bomb was dropped on the city, through the documentaries, pictures and artifacts at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The museum is well curated and showcases a detailed timeline of the events leading to that infamous day so take time to go through it all.  

After Hiroshima be sure to visit the island of Miyajima. This was my favorite stop as it was magical for its beautiful temples, the iconic tori on the water, it’s lush forests and water trickling on the island and more. If you love hiking this is a great place to do it and you will see others on the path as well.

 The Iconic Tori Miyajima

The Iconic Tori Miyajima

 Steps to  Daisho- In .

Steps to Daisho- In.

While Itsukushima Shrine is the most popular shrine on the island, high up in the sky is the temple Daisho- In. The lush green foliage in and around the temple not to mention the water running around the area made it all the more spiritual. Don’t forget to pray for what your heart desires while there.

Do not leave the island without grabbing a Momiji Manju cake! I love desserts and this dessert hit the spot. It came in a variety of flavors such as chocolate and apple. Get the freshly made ones which taste much better than the prepackaged ones.

The countryside is probably not on your list of places to visit and I must admit there really is no reason why you would visit Onomichi. However, should you want to relax in the lap of luxury the place for this is at Bella Vista Marina and Spa. Put simply the views from this hotel are incredible and the rooms are top notch. Not to mention they have their own marina for boat lovers sailing around the sea. Needless to say, Bella Vista is the ultimate stay in luxury.

Eventually, I found myself meandering in Kurashiki, a small town located in Okayama Prefecture which reminded me of Venice, Italy with its canal. You can catch a boat ride down the canal dotted with historical buildings on its banks. The best part of this area is the access to parks for quiet meditation located in the area.

If you crave adventure visit the Iwa Valley. If the winding road where you can catch a glimpse of the rocks and river rushing below is not thrilling enough for you try crossing the Kazura Vine Bridge. This was by far the scariest thing I did in Japan. If you’re afraid of heights look forward and never look down at the rocks and crashing water below. I found solace in knowing that while the bridge is thousands of years old, it is refurbished from time to time. Catch this BBC Travel Show video on it.

Lastly, relaxation can also be found at the Dogo Onsens (public bath houses) of Matusyama in Ehime prefecture. There are 2 famous ancient onsens in the area not to mention the numerous hotels with their own onsens. Should you decide to go to an onsen, don’t forget to grab your robe from your hotel. In fact, you’ll notice everyone in town clad in a robe.

If You Go:

Stay at Sheraton Grand Hotel - A modern hotel in the center of everything! There is a shopping arcade in the area as well where you can find great coffee and chocolate.

Try for an authentic Japanese experience and stay at a ryokan like Oborozukiyo

Eat- Whatever you do eat okonomiyaki in Hiroshima. Quite possibly my favorite meal throughout my stay

Visit:

  • Himeji Castle- built with booby traps to protect itself from attacks. None ever occurred but we have this beautiful castle to visit.
  •  The Itsukushima Shrine- Get there early in the morning before the 11am crowds and experience the spirituality of the shrine in quiet. It, of course, helps to have a guide around to help you understand the different areas of the shrine.

Drink:

  • Miyajima Brewery- Great beer and they also have a restaurant as well  
  • Doppokan Brewery- The gin here is to die for! Take a tour and try out their different sakes and beer.

Ready to go to Japan after reading this? Email us your request at info@tripstravelagency.com and we can get started on an itinerary for you.

Happy Travels,

KJ

What Exactly is Concierge?

Whenever I mention our concierge program I get a lot of questions. 

Many know concierge as the hotel concierge that provides recommendations on things to do in the city. Many also think that it's not for them and that they can't afford it. I'm here to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about our concierge program and more. 

What exactly is a concierge and what can you do for me?
I like to say that we really do anything you request (as long as it's legal of course) but each person is different and each request is different. Most use us to organize experiences that require lots of planning and research that they don't have time to complete.  Hence we free up your time to do what you do best. 

I'm not a millionaire there's no way I can afford a concierge?
You most certainly do not have to be a millionaire to have a private concierge. Our program is $2,000.00 for the year where you can have access to your own concierge to plan experiences, trips, weddings and more- just ask.

Concierge is one of the amenities at my building I'm sure I don't need you.
While you may have a concierge in your apartment building we will go beyond their scope of service as well. Normally they are there to accept packages, hail a cab and help you with the local area. However, they normally don't book your flights, keep track of your schedule and hold cruise ships when you're running late to your ship for that birthday trip. 

I can book my own travel why would I need you?
Have you ever experienced frustration while on hold for 30 minutes waiting for someone to answer your call in an emergency? If so then you need us. Your emergency is our emergency! Your concierge is the only person you have to call, text, WhatsApp etc to get the ball rolling on the problem at hand. Additionally, due to our partnership with hotels, we get our client's additional amenities for the same price that they wouldn't be able to get if they had booked it on their own. 

Besides travel is there anything else you do?
Yes! We've done weddings, lots of wine & brewery tours, birthday parties, plan dinner dates, red carpet events, corporate events and more.

Wow! You do a lot than I expected; is there anything you won't do? 
Yes! We won't walk your dog or pick up laundry. Still, if you need a birthday cake on the fly in the center of London , we can do that. 

Now that I know I can afford it who do you work with?
We work with everyone- single, married, divorced, young, old, long time residents, new residents -everything. Most clients are looking to save time because let's face it as a busy professional you already have a lot on your plate. Many connect us to their executive assistants to free up their workload and provide new ideas. Others connect with us via email with their initial request. 

Great! How do I join?
Get the ball rolling with our online application

Did we miss a question? Leave it in the comments below and we'll answer it

Travel Like A Boss

Just last week I told someone that it's always best to arrive to the airport early. In fact I arrive 2 hours early anyways so I never have a problem! The only way I'm missing a flight is if the flight is canceled.

Well, the universe heard me bragging and decided to test my skills. Let's just say I handled it like a Boss!!! As I was running like a madwoman to catch my return flight from Detroit after a weekend training seminar I was counting my lucky stars for my skills.

Here are a few of my tips for traveling like a Boss!

Step 1: Travel Lightly- This was a weekend trip! 3 days in which I knew I wouldn't hit the beach or pool nor walk miles visiting the city, so I kept it light. I grabbed my Ciao bag and packed it with the essentials, i.e. 2-3 outfits which were mix and match, PJs, my laptop, pens and toiletries. 

I avoided paying Jetblue's $25 baggage fee as this carryon fits nice and neat either under my seat or in the overhead bin. I chose the overhead bins so I could give myself some extra legroom, short people need legroom too people!

This carryon helped me cut down on time that I didn't have on my return to check a bag in. 

 My SHERO Ciao Bag!! It was $20 bucks at Costco or BJ's ( I can't remember)

My SHERO Ciao Bag!! It was $20 bucks at Costco or BJ's ( I can't remember)

Step 2: Get Rewarded- It was my first time going to Detroit. The destination wasn't on my bucket list but I knew I didn't want to pay a premium price for my hotel as this was more of a business trip and less of a splurge trip. It didn't help that there was a convention in town causing a near sold out situation at the closest hotels. If the hotel wasn't sold out it was selling at a premium.

Thankfully I'm a rewards point hoarder and tend to not use my Hilton Honor reward points; I usually collect them because they roll up to my JetBlue True Blue points. I used the cash and points option and booked a room coming in at $77 a night plus tax and still earn points for future stays. 

Did I mention that my flight to Detroit was $5? Thanks to the JetBlue True Blue rewards points I got there for just the tax. 

Step 3: Be Consistent- This step pertains to you constant business travelers! If you travel to the same town often stay at the same hotel. Why you ask? 

Well consider this; if you're traveling all the time don't you want some of your planning automated? Automation makes things easier for you! When I checked into my hotel Hilton already knew I liked to be on a high floor and near the elevator.  Additionally, since I want my rewards points I knew that I only had three hotel brands from which to choose from, cutting down my research time. 

Besides, automation; the more you stay at the hotel the more likely the staff will know your likes and dislikes.

Imagine having to wake up early for a meeting and wanting a good night's sleep but you're next to the room with a crying baby. Had you visited the same hotel over and over again they would know your routine and not place you near that room. This of course only applies to those who are nice to the hotel staff. If you're a curmudgeon the odds are not in your favor. 

Step 4-Get The Apps!

  • Jetblue- My total life safer was the JetBlue App. I downloaded it as I was in the car to the airport, checked in and opted for the mobile pass. In the past I had read that you need to get a mobile pass an hour before take off. Well, I had 15 minutes before that cut off time. Thankfully I got it and screenshotted the boarding pass just in case it was hard to pull it up in the security line. To my surprise, it was easy to pull it up on the app and did not need to screenshot it at all.
  • Award Wallet- Yes I use this nifty app to keep track of my points. I had used others in the past they were ok but this one works best until you tell me otherwise. I am able to see all my rewards for hotels, car rentals, restaurants and more. They even offer occasional articles on the best loyalty programs. This makes it easy to see all my reward points in one area and make a decision on what I will use.  

Step 5-Get TSA Precheck or Global EntryThis is probably my biggest downfall. 

Don't be like me waiting in a long security line, wondering if you're going to make it to the gate on time, watching the TSA precheck line moving full speed ahead.  I'm now a believer! Pay the fee and get one of these options for all the times you are running late for your flight. 

Thankfully my line moved and I was able to make that 6am flight and catch the morning sun

 Heading East to Boston

Heading East to Boston

There are of course caveats to all of the tips above.

Hotel Networks:  Get rewards for a couple of hotel networks. You want networks that are large, have several different brands and provide you with the best bang for your buck.

I have SPG (before it became Marriott), Marriott and Hilton. I probably use my SPG more, Hilton second and have never used my Marriott. On the ultra-luxury boutique front, I use GHA Discovery. Each program works differently and if they roll up to your airline and usual car rental location Great!

Airline Networks:  I travel mostly on the East Coast and Colombia so Jet Blue is my preferred network, followed by United Mileage Plus and American Airlines last.

I chose Jet Blue because you have a good chance of being able to redeem your points especially on Wednesdays when they have sales on flights. Honestly, what's the point of a program that doesn't allow you to reward yourself frequently?  Secondly, they have partnerships with other airlines that you can't find on other networks, such as Emirates. I once flew Emirates to Ethiopia, came back to the states and flew out to Boston on Jetblue using those same points in the same day.

United is great because of its extensive network with Star Alliance, so while I don't fly United much I usually earn reward miles because I fly with a network partnerp. 

Credit Cards: Most reward networks offer credit cards to earn points. I say if you know that you will only travel to that hotel or on that airline it's best to grab it and stick to it!

Shoes:  Last but not least I need to thank my flexible flats for doing their job! You can't run across an entire airport garage, airport terminal and security in heels ladies. You can but that floor is slippery, it will be a pain and you have to lug some luggage around. My flats were flexible and had the rubber soles and made it easy to jet across the airport. 

And if all else fails grab a drink and hopefully there's another flight for you to catch!

Do you have some boss travel tips of your own? Share your tips in the comments section!

Until then Happy Travels!!

 

 

Where to Go to Next: Panama!!

It's been a while everyone and we are now back!

Next stop on our Latin America tour is Panama.  I've traveled through Panama City via it's Tocumen International aiport for a layover mulitple times. This was the first time I got to visit the city!

As soon as I stepped off the plane the humidity smacked me in the face. Trust me It was a far cry from the rainy days in Bogota! Panama is known for its tropical weather, which apparently can be stifling. Thankfully I arrived on May Day, where many Panamanians are on holiday and out of the city which made driving into town very easy. 

The city is quite beautiful with it's tall skyscrapers against the skyline, even though the grey cloudy skies showed an imminent threat of rain. Thankfully the next day they went away and I was able to meander through the Historic District.

The historic district was very dreamy and romantic, filled with old colonial architecture quiet streets and palm trees. Not to mention all roads take you to the ocean where you can view the skyscrapers dotting the city skyline from afar. 

 Park in Historic District

Park in Historic District

There's also a beautiful park along the ocean at the end. The waters did not look swimmable as it was really rough but there were some stairs nearby where one could walk down to the beach. 

When in the area take some time to visit the shops. We found that souvenir shopping was easy, of course it always is where there are not a lot of tourists around!

Things to Know if You Go:

Panama's bordering countries are Costa Rica to the north and Colombia to the south. Water is ever present as you can visit both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

If you're just stopping through the airport  know that it is undergoing construction and upgrades, so you might find some good shopping or you might not. Although when I go through the gates for the flights going to the US I do find good shopping, duty free and good restaurants.  When I fly to other parts of Latin America, the options are very limited. 

Money: 
If you have a hard time figuring out the currency exchange when you travel, you're in luck. Panama's official  currency (the Balboa) is on par with the US dollar. You will have a hard time finding Balboa bills as most ATM's just dispense US dollars. Your US dollars will go farther than in the US which explains why lot's of Americans tend to live in Panama.  

How to get there: Fly Copa Airlines. They have direct flights from Boston and Washington DC ( Dulles)  straight into Tocumen Airport (PTY).

Additionally Copa flies to many other South & Central American cities at a more economical price with a layover in Panama City. One thing to note though, if you're looking to get some work done using the in-flight wifi; it doesn't exist on Copa, most likely due to their fleet consisting of older planes. 

Our Stay:

We stayed at the Hotel Bristol. The hotel is centrally located, making it easy to get around the city. Our lovely room was located in the newest  tower where the rooms a slightly larger, newer and extremely beautiful. 

 Tower Executive Room courtesy of Bristol Hotel 

Tower Executive Room courtesy of Bristol Hotel 

 Lobby courtesy of Bristol Hotel

Lobby courtesy of Bristol Hotel

Lastly did you know Panama is the newest up and coming destination?  Well it is! What are you waiting for? Get going now! Need help planning a trip to Panama, shoot us an email at katiana@tripstravelagency.com and we'll help out

Happy Travels!!

Destination: Hawai'i

Spring is almost here and that means it's the beginning of Wedding Season, Spring Break and before you know it's time for graduations and summer vacation. Now is the  time to plan that honeymoon, girls getaway, graduation gift, guys trip or family vacation.

If Hawai'i isn't on your list it should be and here's why!

Top Destination
Hawai'i is THE destination for honeymooners and vacationers who want to get away from it all and relax. In fact those who vacation in Hawai'i keep coming back to Hawai'i. They may not do the same island and opt to explore different island but they keep coming back.  

Low Season vs High Season:
Fortunately for the vacationer, Hawai'i has great weather throughout the year. The downside is that there really isn't a low and high season. Vacationers all over the world visit Hawai'i throughout the year which means hotels are pretty full so no need to reduce prices or close during certain months. 

Don't fret though focus on finding the special deals such as daily breakfast, kids stay free or a free night stay. That's where it really counts.

Flights: 
Hawai'i has 8 islands 7 of which are open to visitors. Honolulu (HNL) is the island most well serviced by flights from the mainland. Your other well serviced islands include Maui (OGG) or Kona (KOA).

The more flights that are available into any given airport the more options you have for flight time and competition in price; so the better for you. Looking to island hop though? You can still do so with the inter-island airliner Island AirFor all you United Mileage members you can still earn points and redeem them on Island Air. 

Where to Go!:

O'ahu
Waikiki Beach is usually the place for first time visitors. Located on the island of O'ahu this is where you'll find the capital of Honolulu and where you will find most of your hotels. 

Don't limit your travel to only the hotel area. Rent a car and venture off to the different parts of the island. Go hiking on Diamond Head. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Bishop Museum. Don't forget to stop by Dole Pineapple with the children and have them ride the trolley.

Our client, an avid nature lover said Diamond Head takes less than an hour, but get there early as it can get crowded.

What else did they like about O'ahu?: Their favorite part was walking around town and happening to find gelato at Via Gelato. They loved the Yam (I think they meant Taro) flavor gelato which was surprisingly good. 

 Sent in by a client after hiking Diamond Head

Sent in by a client after hiking Diamond Head

Maui
I recommend Maui for the couple that wants to relax and see much of nature. This is definately the island where you need a car, preferably a 4X4 to get around.

Take your time and drive th Hana Road and hike Mount Haleakala. If you go to Mount Haleakala get there early to see the sunrise. If you're not too keen on walking back down, get a tour that allows you to bike it.  If hiking is not your thing take a helicopter up 

Additionally this is the place the place for foodies. Try Lahaina Grill for a special night out. Traveling with the family then try Pacific'o Restaurant

Big Island aka Hawai'i
Want to get up close an personal with a volcano? This is the island! The Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is your first stop. Here you can view Mount Kilauea erupt and it's lava flow in all directions. If the video below is thrilling wait until you're up close, that's the real fun. 

This island is actually the youngest of all the Hawai'ian islands. Here you can enjoy black sand beaches, horse back riding and hiking through Waimea. Don't forget to do a Kona Cofee tour.

Courtesy of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Kauai
Another island that is great for those that want to kayak on the Wailu River, hike Waimea Canyon and see the beautiful Naapali Coast. Visiting the coast is best done via boat. 

Where to Stay: 
Your major brands such as the Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and Starwood are all over each of the islands, it's all about picking out what's right for you. 

Want to be on the beach?
No problem, but it will cost you. Beachfront properties are usually your first to go and they are the priciest. Try to stay a block or two away from the beach and walk there. 

 Sent by a client who stayed at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki

Sent by a client who stayed at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki

Waikiki:

We sent our client to the Hyatt Centric Waikiki. They were a bit weary about this place but ended up loving it. This property was recently opened in December and looked beatiful as well as being close to the beach. 

Need somewhere with suites style?

Try the Westin Ka'anapali in Maui- This is a favorite amongst large families and vacationers looking for more spacious accommodations and villa living. A word to the wise though, book this place early, it's usually fully booked !! 

Another client favorite in Maui was the Fairmont Kea Lani- This luxurious property is right on the beach and had a great spa not to mention activities for the children. They have rooms for a young family of 5 ( 2 adults 3 children (1 being an infant) in a room with a king, sofabed and a rollaway. 

 Paddleboard across from your room Photo courtesy of UnCruise

Paddleboard across from your room
Photo courtesy of UnCruise

Want a Floating Home instead?
Try a Norwegian Cruise or an UnCruise cruise. Norweigian will sail to all 7 islands in a big ship atmosphere. While UnCruise will allow you to have the small ship experience on 4 islands. The ship is also small enough to dock in areas that are too small for larger ships, not to mention the adventure packed excursions that await you on this ship. 

Now we most certainly did not cover all of the islands or possible activities in  Hawai'i but feel free to start exploring all about Hawai'i on Hawai'i's tourism board, this is quite possibly the most indepth website on Hawai'i. 

Have you been to Hawai;i, what did you like or didn't like? Anything we're missing? Comment below and let us know your experience

As always happy traveling!

All Things California

Welcome to March! This month our special guest posting comes from our own Karla Gaitan. A California native, this girl knows all about the biggest state on the West Coast. Check out her guide on visiting California right. 

There is literally something for everyone on the West Coast. Whether it is the desert, the beach or the mountains, California has got it all. Being a California girl myself, this state holds a near and dear place in my heart and I love to share its wonders with others.

While the open skies and dazzling beaches never get old, your stomach will thank you for visiting a hub of delicious and innovative food. This is the state that helped bring the farm to table movement to the mainstream due to its temperate weather and loads of sunshine.  Enjoy the beautiful landscapes while getting your fill of craft beers, world-renowned wine, and delicious meals, because there is always a new adventure around the corner.

Hit the Slopes- Lake Tahoe

You may have heard California just got hit with rain for days, which means that our mountains are full of snow and ready to enjoy. The slopes are now open for an extended period and are not only gorgeous, but offer fun for all ages. Find out what blue really looks like by taking a hike around this iconic landmark. After a long day, eat like the locals. Visit Sidellis for some delicious local brews and their Peri-Peri Pulled Pork Sandwich.

 Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Visit the Giants! –The Bay Area

Whether it’s the Tech Giants, the Giant Redwoods, or the San Francisco Giants, the Bay Area has it all. San Francisco offers outstanding views, the most ridiculous city hills you have ever driven on, and a relaxed city experience. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges and Baker Beach has one of the best views. Across the Golden Gate you can explore some of the oldest giants in this city, the Muir Woods Redwoods. Whether it’s enjoying the gourmet chocolate at Ghirardelli Square or eating a luxurious meal at Boulevard, enjoy what makes this city great. Finish off your trip by stopping at the expansive Farmer’s Market in the Ferry Building.

 Baker Beach 

Baker Beach 

Be Glamorous and Hit the Beach – Los Angeles

The City of Angels. The city where the sun never wavers and you can really understand the relaxed California way. This is one of the few places where flip-fops can be worn all year round. Whether it is beautiful beaches or a luxurious shopping experience down Rodeo Drive, LA has it all. Make sure to try the best burger possible— the original In-N-Out Burger (Sorry Five Guys).  Find out what all the chatter is about and find your favorite movie star sdoing every day things.

 Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Relax in Luxury- Napa Valley

Napa Valley is one of the best places to relax and to treat your palette to some of the best food and wine this country has to offer. Visit where some of the best wine in the world is made and enjoy the picturesque rolling hills that make this experience even more sublime. For true fine dining, check out Thomas Keller’s French Laundry. While reservations must be made well in advance, it’s a once and a lifetime experience. For something less exclusive, but just as delicious, try Ad Hoc, which is also brought to you by Thomas Keller.

Drive Down the Coast- Highway 1

Driving down Highway 1 should be on everyone’s bucket list. This coastal drive is a once in a lifetime experience with great coastal cities such as Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, and Santa Monica. Enjoy some Dungeness crab while soaking in the sun and enjoying the picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean. If you are looking for a great crab roll, check out Barbara’s Fish Trap in Half Moon Bay for a great local eat. If you want to treat yourself, check out the restaurant at Ventana Inn and Spa in Big Sur.

 Bean Hollow Beach

Bean Hollow Beach

karla.jpg

I'm Karla! I'm a California girl who will use hella in almost every sentence and refuse to take any picture seriously. With my hitchhiker thumbs leading the way, I love to travel and see everything this world has to offer!" 

The Case for Travel Insurance

You've booked the flight, hotel, tours and restaurants. But have you protected your vacation investment? Investment what investment you say.  Well consider the scenarios below.

Scenario 1: Traveler A doesn't by travel insurance and travels to an island and falls ill with food poising. Client A sees a doctor and receives a bill for $1000

Scenario 2: Traveler B books cruise and gets hurt on the island and needs to be evacuated by helicopter to the nearest hospital. Client B bought travel insurance. 

Using these easy scenarios it's easy to see that Traveler B gets covered for their medical evacuation because they bought travel insurance. 

Travel insurance is one of those items that no one thinks of purchasing until something happens. But did you know that travel insurance protects you in case you miss a connecting flight, lose luggage or get sick? Some, not many will cover you should you decide to not go at all on your trip! Let's delve into why you need it and should buy it.

  1.  It's required:
    • Many tour companies especially the adventurous tours require travel insurance and will require proof of it. Some may even require it to cover altitude sickness 
  2. You have a known pre-existing medical condition:
    • Knowing you have a pre-existing medical condition, it probably is a good idea to get travel insurance. Who knows what kind of medical attention you will need on your trip. If you need to see a doctor overseas medical insurance comes in handy. Just submit the receipts (in English) to get reimbursed. 
  3.  Your work schedule is unpredictable:
    • Have a schedule that is constantly changing but booked that family trip? This is the time to buy travel insurance especially if many of the components of the trip are non refundable. Some companies have options for those who need to cancel a trip because of work. 
  4. It's extra protection:
    • Usually if insurance doesn't cover it all, check to see what the policy says. This rings true for lost luggage. Most airlines already have an amount they will reimburse you should they never find your luggage, but they have a maximum amount. Travel insurance can be used to cover any overages. In this case it may be a good time to say take a picture of the contents in your luggage just in case you have you have some expensive items.  

Keep in mind every travel insurance product is different. You should thoroughly read each policy to make sure it covers what you're looking for it to cover. Policies have time restrictions on when you should purchase insurance to cover different components like pre-existing medical conditions, be sure to ask what those rules are.  Looking to cover a particular reason call the insurance company and ask so you can get a general idea.

Happy travels and stay safe!