I had the pleasure of taking a day trip to this all-inclusive in Cozumel, Mexico. This is the Sunscape resort. It is attached to the Secrets Resort, an adults only resort. Sunscape was in the middle of renovations, but overall a very nice, secluded resort. I really liked the supervised kids area, and the staff seemed very good with kids. The buffet food was decent, but picky eaters will have a hard time. There are multiple restaurants I didn't get the chance to try though. We did stop by the snack area, and I had to admit, the nachos were terrible (and its hard to make bad nachos). But they also made the best Mojito I have ever had in my life, so I call that a wash. The picture to the left was by far my favorite part of this resort... A bar with swings. It's the little things in life. There was plenty of beach space, with lots of beach chairs, and good snorkeling right off the beach. The pools were all in good shape. There are rooms with their own Hot Tubs, lounging beds outside, and some at Secrets with swim out rooms. There were definitely a lot of options for whatever type of room is your dream. I could easily see spending 4 days at this resort, and 7 would be doable as long as you plan some excursions. This is a very large resort, but there isn't much outside of the resort unless you take a taxi. Overall, this is a resort I would stay at again. Everyone was very friendly, and the resort had a nice relaxed pace.
Sheraton Cable Beach
I stayed at the Sheraton on Cable Beach and I must say, I was impressed. There are many very high and very low reviews out there of this resort, but it seems the main reason for the poor reviews came from those who booked on online order taking sites, and weren't aware of the $40 resort fee. But then I guess that's the reason for using a great travel agent! The room was nothing spectacular and medium sized, the balcony nice sized, but the view: amazing. Ocean view certainly means ocean view at this resort. You could look down at the pools and straight out to the ocean. The pools were all nice, and the best part was that they were always open. There were signs posted when lifeguards were not present, but they were always open. This is completely different from Atlantis, which closes all its pools, much too early. There is a hut down on the sand, which has complimentary snorkel equipment, kayaks, paddle boards, etc. This is a very nice amenity, and I think this would make a great day excursion from a cruise. It's a small resort, excellent for families with small children who are interested in more time at the beach/pool and less time walking. The food is expensive, but that's true throughout the island. It's easy to get to downtown Nassau, although there is not much there around the resort itself. I believe we walked at least a mile before we found a restaurant outside the resort (a Subway). The resort restaurant was nice, and they have a good buffet. I wish the rooms had a fridge, because there is really no way to save money on food there. It's away from the action, and the casino next door is often closed and not very spectacular. They are currently building a very large resort area right down the street from the Sheraton, so as of Winter 2014, this area will probably be much more lively.
Sandals Royal Bahamian
I recently got the opportunity to have a day pass at Sandals. I'll start with the good. The offshore island is absolutely amazing. It was incredibly relaxing, well maintained, and the restaurant was wonderful. The drinks were plentiful, and there were lots of hammocks and secluded spots. The main resort had 2 large pool areas, and multiple restaurants. We ate at the offshore island and at one of the buffets. The food was excellent both places. We tried many of the bars, and they all made good drinks! It was certainly not top shelf, but I would call it mid-shelf. They also offer complimentary paddle boards, kayaks, snorkeling and scuba for those certified. The main resort is very well maintained but the feel is somewhat dated. Overall it is a nice resort, with lots of activities available. The food is excellent at this all inclusive, and the staff were all very accomodating. On the downside, drinks are not top shelf, and some of the accents may seem a bit gaudy for some tastes.
Holiday Inn Express Hillsville, VA
This is just a quick review of the Holiday Inn Express in Hillsville, VA. We stayed there for a night this past weekend, on the way to buy my husband's dream machine. An RV. This was a fine hotel if you can get it at a reasonable rate. The rooms were big, clean, and it has an indoor pool and breakfast. Can't ask for much more than that. The pool was a little institutional, but it wasn't dank like some can be. The jets in the hot tub didn't work either. But overall, it's not a bad stay. I give it a good 2 stars.
I went to the Marriott for a one night stay, to attend a baseball game in Cincinnati. One of the things I really like about this hotel is that the room size is much larger than you generally get across the river staying in actual downtown Cincinnati. And I actually enjoyed the walk across the bridge to get to the main downtown area. Overall, its not a 5 star hotel, but it is a very nice 3 star. I had no complaints about the cleanliness, and the lobby has a nice ba The picture above on the left is a standard room, and the picture on the right is the concierge lounge. I highly suggest getting the concierge room if you plan on being around to use it. They had a very nice spread in the evening with pulled pork, and they had a nice continental breakfast in the morning. But its definitely not worth it if you aren't going to be at the hotel during the hours they are open. Just email me to book this hotel, and I can let you know the concierge hours.
Travel... with kids
First a little background on me.
I grew up traveling… a lot.
We weren’t gypsies or anything, but I guess my dad must have had a lot of
vacation time, because we visited a lot of the US, most of western Europe, and
cruised much of the Caribbean. It didn’t hurt that he travelled a lot for work (back when frequent flier miles
really got you something). Once I was grown, friends started having babies, and before they knew it, they were holed up in their houses refusing to take the baby for an hour long drive for fear of forgetting a teething toy (I blame TV sitcoms for this one). If there was one thing I knew, it was that I was not going to let kids
keep me from traveling. Nor was I going to leave my kids every time I wanted to go somewhere.
I am now mom to 2 wonderful kids, and they have seen so much more than I ever did when I was their age, and I hope to be able to continue the trend.
Maybe you were adventurous in your youth or maybe you always wanted to travel but never got the chance before you were blessed with your darling little time suckers. That’s okay, because you can still travel, even with little ones in tow. There are a million kinds of traveling one can do, and traveling with kids merely changes the adventure. In fact, even if you saw the whole world before you had kids, you’d be amazed at what a different adventure you would have going a second time with your kids.
The first rule is one I have a love/hate relationship with. Lists. So utterly important the importance of which cannot be understated. And these lists vary wildly depending on the destination and the route to get there. I have tried to break down lists into region and separate out modes. It’s the most obvious of things that tend to be forgotten without a list.
And the number one thing on all of those lists?
Cash. Not spending money, peace of mind money. Budgeting in an extra amount of cash just in case something on that list (or that didn’t make it on the list) is forgotten, you can spend whatever ungodly amount they want for it, without feeling pain about it, after all, having money to buy it WAS on your
list. Make sure you have a survival list. Basically an “if I got stuck on a desert island, my kid(s) would need…” Limit it to 5 things. Things like Epi-pens, inhalers, contacts/solution fall into this category. Diapers and toys do NOT. Those go on the regular list. Why? Because those things you can live without,
if you absolutely have to. Its not like you aren’t going to bring everything on your list, but its important to give yourself a reality check before taking a vacation, and know in your heart that as long as you have everything on your survival list, you will, at least, survive.
I am easily wound up, and I do not unwind easily. This is seen easily at my uncanny ability to remain ticked off for hours after the hotel lost our reservation, even though we managed to get another room and were by then seated at a bar having a beer.
Still ticked. Many of us are that way, and we have a tendency to let that one bad thing affect our entire
vacations. The problem, I have realized, is that we plan our vacations to be perfect.
When someone tells me about planning their wedding, I always snicker to myself, because I know their day isn’t going to be perfect, it never is. Something will always go wrong, small or large, something. And most of the time, it doesn’t ruin the day, just makes another memory.
So why then do I go into a vacation expecting things to go exactly the way I have planned? That was a rhetorical question, I have no idea.
How to review a review…
We all read reviews before we do things, and they are
such an amazing tool. But there
are some major drawbacks as well.
First of all, there’s the fact that in general only people with a decent
amount of free time, and very strong opinions tend to be the one to leave
reviews. Then there are
expectations. Going in with huge
expectations generally leads to disappointment, and this definitely sways
reviews. Booking a tour months in
advance because you research 256 tours and thought this would be the best one,
well you are bound for it to not live up to your expectations, where as if you
booked it as a whim at the last minute, you are probably not expecting that
much, and will be pleasantly surprised. Expectations distort perspective. Just remember that.
Activities for planes
TOP 4 Activities for a plane
SO I recently did some website perusing trying to find some interesting activities to do on a plane. I was sorely disappointed with the lists I found. Read a book. Wow, now there's something no one's ever considered. As a person who works full time and barely has time to breathe with 2 small kids, I wanted to find some activities that I could do on a plane that could make me “feel” like I was productive.
Obviously if you have actual work to do, you should probably do that.
1)Download a photobook app (like picaboo) that can be manipulated offline. Spend your flight making a photobook that you keep promising yourself youre going to make, BEFORE the kids head off to college.
2)Create generic thank you notes
While I do not condone the use of thank you notes other than occasions when you open a gift without the gifter present, I do acknowledge its use in current society. Make up about 5 similar but unique thank you notes, in a word doc, get some pretty colored card stock when you get back in town, and you're all set next time you need them.
Boy this list is hard without the use of the internet… I wish Amazon made a catalog. Can you imagine the size of that thing?? But, I digress.
3) Play with the settings on your camera. There are usually a million buttons on them, and now is an excellent time to play around with it and see what you can do. Getting a book on photography or at least the owners manual could be helpful. I would suggest you focus your pictures on photos in some magazines, unless you’re looking for a knuckle sandwich from a fellow passenger.
4) Buy some snacks you have never tried before (but not anything that smells super strong, that’s just cruel). Then do a taste testing in mid air. Offer little pieces of paper and pens to fellow passengers, and vote! Seeing reviews in person, its got to be like the difference between watching a movie and seeing a play. For the record, this is not something I would generally do, unless I have my husband with me, because the look of sheer horror/embarrassment on his face would be worth it to me.