Imagine enjoying a Hawaiian beach day with several of your closest friends or family and then returning to your temporary “home” at the end of the day to shower, rest and share a “Pau Hana” (Happy Hour) Mai Tai on the lanai while your own chef prepares an amazing dinner with fish that was caught that very day. Or, imagine spending the day touring some wineries in the Tuscany or Chianti region of Italy with several of your buddies and getting “home” in time to take an afternoon swim and a nap before preparing a pasta dinner fit for a King… If those scenarios sound tempting to you, you are not alone! Villa Vacations are quickly becoming a preferred way of travel all over the world for small groups of friends and extended families. And, because of the popularity of Villa rentals in my specialty destinations – Hawaii and Europe – Shores and More Travel has been training hard lately to add a Villa division to our offerings! Villas are typically luxurious, private residences that are made available to vacation travelers. They usually range from 2-10 bedrooms (but can go as high as even 20!) and offer additional living spaces: living rooms, dining rooms, fully-equipped kitchens, game rooms and outdoor areas including Lanais (verandas) and private pools. They are usually equipped with amenities and can also include a dedicated staff to cater to your specific needs. Do you want a cook to come in and prepare dinner? A housekeeper to freshen the house daily? A nanny to watch the kids? DONE! And…while luxurious, Villas are often more economical for traveling families and groups of friends! WHY rent a villa over a hotel or resort? Personalized attention and service from an experienced Villa Concierge Allows you to create a unique, customized vacation experience based on your own dreams and needs .
Superb Value – spend less, receive more! Villas are often a much better value per person than multiple hotel or resort suites. More space, privacy and quiet – no strangers in the next room, by the pool or in that hot tub! Great for all occasions – from big group gatherings to intimate getaways Many different options – Villas are available in areas across the globe Because YOU DESERVE IT! And your family & friends will think you are a ROCK STAR! Does this sound like your kind of vacation? I know….me too! Get that group together and start exploring! Travel is much more fun when you travel with those you love and a Villa just might be the perfect solution for your next journey!
And Until Next Time….
Everyone remembers the “Love Boat” and thinks about taking that once in a lifetime cruise. However there are some mistakes that you can make in paradise. Here’s a list of the top ten.
1. Not arriving at your departure port the day BEFORE your cruise. So much can go wrong with airport delays, interstate traffic, cancelled flights, etc. Isn't it worth the cost of a hotel room to know for sure that you will be boarding that ship before the crowds?
2. Getting too drunk. No one enjoys having an obnoxious drunk by them on the lido deck or at their dinner table. Just because you CAN drink a bucket of beer before lunch doesn't mean you SHOULD. New beverage packages make it even more tempting to over-drink. Pace yourself! Your body will thank you later!
3. Cruising without travel insurance. Cruising without travel insurance is like playing with fire. There are a wide range of policies offered that include coverage for medical (your medical insurance most likely won’t cover you out of the country), travel delays and interruptions, and cancellations.
4. Cruising without a Passport can be a disaster. If you have to fly home from any of your ports-of-call because of a family emergency or an illness or injury, you could be totally out of luck! A Passport is a small investment to insure that you can return home hassle-free.
5. Forgetting to turn data roaming off on your cell phone. Before stepping foot on the ship, you should go to the settings on your phone and make sure that data roaming is turned off. This will keep your cell phone from racking up huge charges and using data even when it is in your pocket. Putting your phone in airplane mode will also keep you from racking up additional charges.
6. Getting left behind in port. When the captain says that the ship is leaving port at 5:00, he means it. He isn’t going to wait around for those who lost track of time. If you get left behind in port, you are responsible for your own transportation to the next port or back home. The costs can be several thousand dollars each and will be even more complicated if you are traveling without a passport. Our advice? Plan on arriving back near the ship 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you are scheduled to leave. This not only gives you some time to shop in the port area, but also gives you plenty of leeway if you run into traffic or your taxi or bus has a breakdown on the way back.
7. Eating only at the buffet. While newer ships have great buffets, the best food on a cruise is almost always in the main dining room or specialty restaurants. By eating only at the buffet, you miss out on the great food and service that you can experience if you slow down and enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good buffet, however go out and try something new and different, you’ll be glad you did.
8. Stiffing the crew. While most cruise lines automatically charge a daily gratuity or service surcharge to your stateroom, you can have the charges removed by going to guest services. However, just because you are allowed to have them taken off doesn’t mean that you should. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant without tipping and you shouldn’t go on a cruise without tipping the staff that works so hard to make your trip a pleasant one.
9. Treating the crew like 2nd class citizens We all have bad days, but how many would you have if you worked 7 days a week and were away from your family for 6-9 months at a time? Kind words to the crew will go a long way. Treat them with the same respect that you give to your spouse or partner. (or maybe even a little bit MORE)
10. Booking early flights on disembarkation day – Cruise lines recommend not booking flights before noon on disembarkation day. Just because your arrival time says 7:00 a.m., there is almost no chance of catching an 8:30 flight. There have been times I’ve walked right through security, and other times it took over an hour to get through the line. Why end your vacation with a stressful travel day?
And until next time….
When someone says I want to party all night and lay on the beach all day, where do I go? I say look no further than Aruba. You can even throw in a fun day excursion to the untamed countryside.
Aruba’s lively nightlife is fun for everyone and has earned the title of Las Vegas of the Caribbean. They have a bunch of casinos that vary their closing times, and some are even open 24 hours. Did you know that Aruba claims to be the founder of many table games including Caribbean Stud Poker? Not only do they have gaming Aruba also has live shows, live bands, discos and movable parties. The DJ’s will have all kinds of music flowing in the clubs including rap, rock and roll, reggae, and even merengue. The legal age for drinking and gambling is 18, so have your id ready.
After partying the night away, the next day you will want to sit and relax on one of Aruba’s iconic beaches. Aruba has some of the best beaches in all of the Caribbean. The calmest beaches and the most crowded beaches are on the west side, and that’s where the resorts are. The east side is less crowded, however the tides and tradewinds can be strong especially in the afternoon. The northeast side of the island has the rocky beaches and they are not very good for swimming. Eagle and Palm Beach are on the northwest side of Oranjestad and are a favorite of tourists because of its powdery white sand. Druif Beach is in the heart of the resort area so it tends to be less crowded with cruise ship passengers if you are staying on the island. If you are looking for a secluded and quiet beach, look no further than Rogers Beach in San Nicolas at Seroe Colorado.
Don’t forget to go visit the California Lighthouse. The California Lighthouse is one Aruba’s most famous icons. Visitors flock to this icon for amazing views of the iconic coastline.
Stop by the Butterfly Farm to see butterflies from all over the world. Make sure to stop there early in the morning to see the new butterflies leaving their cocoons.
There are so many things to do in Barbados that it makes a perfect Caribbean holiday.
And until next time….
The Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, is a beautiful island to discover. It truly has something for everyone. Not only does it have great shopping, it has beautiful scenery, animal encounters, water experiences and great rum!
For those of you who want to go to the beach, Grand Cayman has one of the world’s most famous beaches, Seven Mile Beach. However, now it’s really only about 5.5 miles due to erosion from the tourists and the occasional hurricane. If you are looking for a quiet beach, Seven Mile is not for you. It’s the most built up beach, with resorts up and down the beach and some do charge to use their facilities.
If you want a laze the day away on the beach with a drink in hand in your hammock, Rum Beach, is the beach for you. You can also wade in it’s shallow waters. It’s about a 45 minute drive from George Town.
How about some snorkeling or a dive? You can snorkel and even drive from the beaches on Grand Cayman. If you decide to dive and see some of the cool dive sites including the shipwrecks of the USS Kittiwake and the Balboa and the Cali, we aware that the waters around the Grand Cayman are a protected marine park, and the dive boats have special moorings to prevent reef damage.
One of the most famous animal encounters on the Grand Cayman is Sting City. This shallow sandbar is the home to about 50 stingrays that are about 5 feet long and weight about 150 lbs. You get to take a boat out to them and feed and pet them. They are gentle and fun.
Another great animal encounter is the Grand Cayman Turtle Farm. This farm is home to over 11,000 green sea turtles from 6 ounces to 6 hundred pounds. You even get to hold a turtle for yourself!
And of course there is rum! Cayman Spirits Company gives a great tour of their facilities. You learn how they even age some of their rum under the sea! (I don’t want to give away too many of their secrets here!) And of course there is a tasting room. Make sure to bring home a bottle of their rum barbecue sauce, it is just amazing!
This is just a sampling of what the Grand Cayman has to offer. The Grand Cayman is a beautiful island with so much to do and see. It’s definitely a must on my bucket list to go back, and I suggest it to go on yours as well.
And until next time….
Tina Moczynski is a member of the GTN network. And loves to travel with both her husband and her three boys.