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travel

Curacao Travel Guide

We just got back from Curacao last week and it was our first time to this little island! We flew with the CheapCaribbean team and everything is easily booked through their site for an all inclusive stay at the dreams resort. Curacao is considered the “C” of the “ABC” islands in the Caribbean island. Curacao is located in the southern Caribbean Sea and is located between the islands of Aruba and Bonaire, and is 40 miles north of Venezuela. Things change constantly traveling during Covid, so always check the Country’s site you are traveling to for the most up to date info. Below is everything you need to know before you go.


COVID-19 Information

Curacao has in place a handful of COVID-19 precautions you can find on their website here: https://www.curacao.com/en/article/travel-updates

You will need to:

  1. Complete the digital immigration card online before departure.
  2. Digitally fill out the Passenger Locator Card (PLC) 48 hours prior to your departure and carry a printed or digital document of proof with you.
  3. Visitors will need to show a negative result of a certified COVID-19 PCR test taken 48 hours before your flight to Curaçao or a negative test result of an antigen test taken at most 24 hours before your flight to Curaçao. Each traveler must be in possession of a printed or digital certificate. You will be required to upload the negative test results of the COVID-19 test on dicardcuracao.com before departure.
  4. 3rd day on-island Antigen test. All passengers departing from these countries are required to undergo an Antigen test at a local laboratory on the 3rd day in Curaçao. The reservation and payment of the 3rd day antigen test is part of the PLC process. Please click here for more information.
    Visitors from high-risk EU countries who have been fully vaccinated more than 2 weeks prior to departure and can prove this with the EU Digital Corona Certificate are exempt from the antigen test on the 3rd day after arrival in Curaçao. These visitors should upload the QR code before departure via dicardcuracao.com.

Where we stayed:

Dreams Resort Curacao
: Located only about 10 minutes from the Curacao Airport, we felt very safe staying here and thought the resort was in a great location. Here are some of the highlights of the resort we loved.

  • All Inclusive: Since it was gated resort, they didn’t make you constantly give your room number for drinks like other all inclusive properties we stayed at. It was easy to grab buffet food and drinks whenever you needed. We never did room service so I am not sure on how that works.
  • Kids Club: The kids loved staying here a few hours a day and doing arts and crafts. There were not many kids on the property so they had the play areas to themselves. There is a nice movie theater/game room and an entire outdoor playground too.
  • Spa: Right beside the kids club, we got two massages and they were amazing. Availability was wide open so anytime I felt like a massage I was able to walk up and go right in.
  • Pools and beaches: Several infinity pools and walk out beaches with caves surrounding the sand. We found more sea glass then we ever have in our lives right out front!

What to do:

  • Visit the Dolphin Academy: The Curacao Tourism board scheduled this Dolphin Experience with us and I am so glad we did it with the kids. We spent 30 minutes in the water with the dolphins and they took pictures for memories. After that you are able to explore the museum and see other animals on the property. We also reserved a time and experience the “Ocean Lens” which is a deep chamber peak into the ocean life 17 ft below surface.
  • Go Seabobing: We booked with Bearded Butlers and the owner was amazing! This was on my bucket list and it did not disappoint. The kids loved it and even rode the seabobs around on their own some.
  • Explore Willemstad, Downtown: Check out the colorful buildings and street art.
  • Boat trip to Knip Beach: We didn’t have time to do this but I heard this was one of the prettiest beaches to boat to.
  • Explore all the beaches, after much research these were the ones that were most popular: Playa Piskado, Kenepa beach, Cas Abao Beach, Playa Porto Mari, Blue Bay Beach, Mambo Beach, Jan Theil, Tugboat Beach.

Where to eat: (We love exploring off resorts and checking out the town to dine when traveling)

  • Bijblauw: This restaurant made me feel like I was in Greece! Go right at sunset. The service did take a long time it seemed but everything tasted well.
  • Kome: We ate here one night after a local recommended it and loved the food! The service and atmosphere was awesome.
  • Zanzibar Beach Restaurant: This was on my list to check out when exploring beaches but we never made it.
  • Cana Bar and Kitchen: Another place I kept hearing good things but we didn’t make it!

All and all we felt very safe on this island. We felt it had a great community and multiple beaches to explore! Thanks to the CheapCaribbean team for hosting us on this trip at Dreams Resort! The opinions are all my own 🙂 More behind the scenes videos on my instagram here!

travel

Disney World Travel Tips

We just got back from a long weekend in Disney World for their 50th anniversary and if you were following along on my instagram stories you know it was anything but smooth! Our direct flights from Raleigh/Durham Airport into Orlando on Southwest were canceled after being delayed for 6 hours, and then we scrambled to even find flights the next day. As you know Disney planning takes months to perfect with all the dining reservations and accommodations etc. I did not want to miss another full day of plans, so we luckily found a company to drive us through the night to Orlando. Shout out to Raleigh Taxi services, you made my kids Disney dreams a reality! We arrived at 4am on Saturday morning, and had 3 hours of sleep until our Character breakfast with Mickey. We did make it, two exhausted parents and two excited kids that didn’t even notice. Here is everything I know right now going to Disney World during these crazy world times. PS* I am cohosting a giveaway for a free 3 night stay to Disney + LainSnow swimsuits for an entire family over on instagram! It closes on 10/24, go tag friends!

Where to Stay:

Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
:
We have loved staying off Disney property resorts several years now. The Wyndham was in the perfect location to take a quick ride 10 minutes to the park. The resort also offers free shuttle rides for various times. They also have an amazing buffet breakfast on site which made it seamless to eat and hurry the kids to the parks. They have several pools to choose from, including a lazy river and beach front entry for the kids. One of my favorite meals of our trip was at their onsite restaurant Deep Blu Seafood and Grille. You can see all they have to offer on dining here as well. The giveaway I posted is for a free 3 night stay to this hotel + daily breakfast for two. Enter here on this post for instructions!


Tips for Planning a smooth Disney World Trip:

  • Sign up on Mouse Watcher app for all the dining reservations you need to make! It will send you an alert the second one becomes available. We were able to get all our desired dining this way.
  • Order Magic Bands to link all your hotel reservations, wallet and park tickets to your wrist for easy access.
  • Plan your days by the parks, there is no fast pass system in place right now so that might things a little hectic with young kids, but I heard they were releasing a new Disney Genie pass soon to replace it!
  • Reserve a stroller for the kids to be dropped off at your hotel for arrival. This was a game changer for us, we used Scooter Bug!
  • Order outfits and mickey ears ahead of time on Amazon. You can shop all our outfits here.
  • Have some downtown at the hotels for just lounging between parks.
  • Pack extra Masks, they are requiring them when waiting in indoor lines and all restaurants walking to tables.
travel

Turks & Caicos Travel Guide

We have been coming to Turks & Caicos since our honeymoon almost 9 years ago! We fell in love with the island then, and we fall more in love with it every time we visit. This trip made it our 6 time visiting the island, and third time for the kids. It is the perfect family luxury island vacation in my opinion, and we have been all around the world! You can see my first ever turks and caicos blog post here, and another one we did a few years ago here. I feel like this time we finally got to explore the other side of the island more, but already dying to go back!

Documents Required for Entry into Island:

1. A negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory (antigen and antibody tests will not be accepted). Anyone above the age of 10years+
2. Medical/Travel insurance that covers COVID-19 medical costs, full hospitalization, doctors’ visits, prescriptions and air ambulance/medevac.
3. Completed a health screening questionnaire and Travel Authorization Form see link : TCI || Dashboard (turksandcaicostourism.com) 

On the TCI Assured Portal a traveler may begin the application process 5 days prior to arrival in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Each applicant will be provided with a username and password to access the application so that it can be completed in multiple sessions. Once all of the required documents are uploaded, the application can be submitted for review. The information is then verified and a TCI Assured Travel Authorization sticker will be issued to the traveler.

Documents Required to return to the US:

1. A negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory (antigen and antibody tests will not be accepted). Anyone above the age of 2 years+ has to complete.
*All the resorts we stayed at have onsite covid testing you schedule your appointment upon arrival a day in advance before departing!

Where to stay:

Grace Bay Beach: We love this side of the beach if visiting the island for the first time. It was voted as #1 beach in the world in 2016 by TripAdvisor. The sand is white and the water is so calm and clear! There are no waves and it is the perfect place for young kids to play in the ocean.

  • Seven Stars Grace Bay: This resort has several buildings and you can’t go wrong with any room, they all face the ocean. We stayed in a two bedroom ocean suite which included a full kitchen and walk out balcony. They have several pools onsite, coconuts to order, and complimentary yoga every morning. They also keep a water trampoline right out front of the hotel and complimentary non-motorized watersports.
  • Point Grace Resort: This is a secluded quiet resort with poolside cottages that are one-two bedrooms with huge balconies and full kitchens. We enjoyed letting the kids nap in the rooms when we swam in the pools since it was in eye sight, it was very convenient for young kids!
  • The Palms: Sister property to the Shore Club, they have a kids camp on site, one large ocean front pool, and beautiful location on grace bay beach.


Long Bay Beach:

  • The Shore Club TC: On the other side of the island, this ocean area is a little windier but very shallow for a mile out. You will see kit surfers right outside your bedroom and jetskis are able to pull up right on shore. We had a one bedroom walk out room and felt like we were at our own private beach house. There is also a kids camp on site here, several restaurants, amazing spa, and adults only pool area.

What to do:

Where to eat:

travel

Key West Travel Guide

We just got back from a long weekend in the keys and we had just enough days to explore the tiny island off of Florida. We actually flew into Miami and took a yacht from there to key west (but if you’re sea sick I do not recommend, I was almost the entire time!). It takes about 7 hours via boat, but you can also drive an easy 3 hours to Key west from Miami as well. If you are not into either of those options, there is an airport in Key West you can fly directly into too. We were in town for a friends wedding, so it was a huge group of us that got to enjoy hanging out! Unfortunately Hurricane eta was headed our way on Sunday so we had to hightail it out of key west and fly home a day early. The weather the first couple of days was perfect in the mid 80s and sunny! Below is everything we loved about the island.

Where to Stay:

  • The Perry Key West Hotel: This hotel was the perfect spot right before you go into downtown key west on Stock Island. It is about 3 miles from Duval St (where all the restaurants/bars are) and it sits on a beautiful marina. We chose this location because this is also where all the wedding action was all weekend! You can see a map of the location here.
  • What we loved about the hotel: They have on site bikes, Vespas, and golf carts you can easily rent. There are two pools facing the Marina. The rooms have balconies, and we loved being on the ground floor to walk straight out to the pool. The food is amazing at their main restaurant Matt’s Stock Island!

Where to Eat:

  • Coffee/Croissants: Croissants de France, so good!
  • Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch: Banana Cafe, Blue Heaven (heard this place anytime actually), MoonDog Cafe, Two friends patio, Salute on the Beach, Thirsty Mermaid.
  • Snacks: Stop by the Raw Machine for Acai Bowl, or smoothies in coconuts!
  • Dinner: Santiagos, Cafe Sole, Latitudes
  • Dessert: Tip: Get Key lime Pie everywhere you go! Stop by Better than Sex, a dessert bar restaurant and I was told to not even have dinner before this the portions are huge and that good! We drove by it but didn’t have a night free to go. We also stopped by Wicked Lick Ice cream and loved it!
  • Bars: All of Duval St, they are all open till 4am.

What to do:

  • Water Activities: See all the ones the hotel has to offer here. I’d recommend renting a private sailing tour, going snorkeling, or renting jetskis! There are a few restaurants nearby that you can drink and also rent jetskis from as well.
  • Beach: There are several options but we heard Fort Zachary Taylor beach was the easiest to access, and Smathers Beach.
  • Shop/Day Drink: Head to Duval St and plan to walk/bar hop to all the spots!

Hopefully we make it back soon to Key West <3

life,lifestyle,north carolina,travel

Wrightsville Beach Travel Guide

This Wrightsville Beach guide is a long time coming!  When I say a long time, I mean this was the first beach I ever went to with my family when I was a baby  and continued to vacation for 30 years :).  Being born and raised in North Carolina you come to love Wrightsville beach and Wilmington NC area because it is the closest beach right off highway 40 when you head to the coast.  Not only is it super convenient, it also has always been the most developed North Carolina Beach town with some of the best restaurants and shops to me. This post is also going to be hard for me to write because there are SO MANY good places to go, visit, and eat.  For that simple reason, I am going to do two blog posts.  This first one I am going to highlight options to stay and things to do with the kids.  The next one will showcase where to eat around town, so stay tuned for that too!!  So without further ado, below is some info on WB!

How to get there:

You can fly into ILM airport and easily be at the beach in 20 minutes depending if summer/traffic etc.  If you are driving, you head straight down 40 East till you arrive in Wilmington.  North Carolina is not complicated to figure out 🙂  The best weather in NC typically runs from April-October.  The hottest time of the year is typically July-August, with highs touching the 90s.


(pictured here is the Holiday Inn Resort at Wrightsville Beach)

Where to stay:

  • We always book all our rentals through this Wilmington and Beaches site! From hotels, B&B’s to vacation rentals, they have several options!
  • If you want to stay on the beach, any area over the bridges is an easy walk to the ocean.
  • If you want to stay near restaurants/bars, choose the streets right off of Lumina, or anywhere behind the beach bars (located by Jerry Allens, or Tower 7)
  • The Southend of Wrightsville is more quiet and secluded in my opinion.
  • The North end (shell island) has more larger house rentals/full time residents and two hotels on that end.
  • If you have a boat, look at renting docks by the north end/”lollipop area”
  • We recently stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort at Wrightsville Beach.  I loved this hotel because they have so many amenities on site for kids:  Playground, indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub, onsite kids camp/playroom, and an arcade room open 24/7.  The rooms also have a balcony over looking the pool & ocean!
  • We have also stayed at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, which is on the south-end of the island.  They recently renovated the hotel & the entire outside area is gorgeous.

What to do:

  • Rent a Boat/Car from Bluewater Transport Charters:  One of my favorite things to do in the summer is go out on a boat to some of the neighborhood islands.  The closest one is Mason’s inlet, which has small tide pools for kids to play in.  On the islands you can bring your own coolers, dogs, and tents year round & spend an entire day out there!  You can rent a boat for the day, do a sunrise tour, and even arrange luxury car transfers if a special occasion.
  • Visit the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History:  Located at 303 W. Salisbury, find this museum in the middle of the Historic Square of houses all built in the early 1900s.  The homes that make up the Historic Square are some of the last survivors of the Great Fire, which roared through
    the island in 1934 including the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.  The Wrightsville Beach Park is right behind the Museum, so take the kids right after the blow off some energy! Wrightsville Beach Park has a new all-inclusive playground geared towards children with disabilities as well as two outdoor basketball courts, four tennis courts, three sand volleyball pits, one softball field and anopen area for soccer/flag football.
  • Explore the Shops on Wrightsville beach: My favorite local beach shops are Sweetwater Surf Shop & Hallelu!
  • Explore Airlie Gardens: “Encompasses 67 acres of beautiful Gilded Age gardens and lakes. Admire the azaleas,gaze at the camellias, stand in the shade of the 450-year-old Airlie Oak, experience nature’s most delicate and ephemeral creatures – butterflies – in the region’s first
    permanent butterfly house.”  Airlie Gardens has special events year round, including the famous “Garden Party” which is hosted Azalea festival weekend on that Friday.  They also do “Enchanted Airlie” during the holidays where you can pay for a car full to drive and see all the lights!
  • Book a Cave room with Native Salt Caves & Wellness: This was a really cool experience to take the kids to detoxify your body!  From the site, since they can explain their process better:  “Providing Himalayan salt caves for halotherapy, Native Salt Cave and Wellness offers the choice of two caves: one for a massage treatment room or children’s cave, and the other for adults to sit and relax enjoying the benefits of breathing the salt-infused air surrounded by Himalayan Salt. The salt used in the halogenerators, found in both caves, is pharmaceutical-grade 99.99% sodium chloride, the same that is used in medical saline solutions. The main Salt Cave holds tweleve. Inhaling dry salt air for a period of time has been a traditional wellness practice. Signature events: Classes, or group sessions, held in the main cave combining massage, light and sound techniques to enhance the salt cave experience.”
  • Visit the Famous Wrightsville Beach Mailbox:  Before you leave, head to the North end on the beach, known as on shell island, Beach Access 1, and walk to the beach to put a note in the mailbox!

We loved working with Wilmington and Beaches to showcase an area that means so much to us!  Stay tuned for my next guide on “Where to eat in Wrightsville Beach” coming soon!

travel

Dominican Republic with Cheap Caribbean Guide

(This guide was also featured on Forbes: 43 Cheapest places to travel in 2020 here)

Last week we were able to experience the Dominican for the first time!  We stayed in Punta Cana and we were pleasantly surprised how beautiful the island was.  I know everyone, including us, have heard the awful things the media has said about this area and trust me we were a little hesitant to jump on board to visit there.  After researching nonstop and seeing that the CheapCaribbean’s resorts made a safety pledge on the island, known as the “PC Promise”, we felt comfortable going.  From their site, you can also view all participating resorts here as well: 

What is the Punta Cana Promise?

While you plan your next vacation in Punta Cana, one of the top beach destinations in the Dominican Republic, we want you to know that you’ll be safe and secure while traveling. As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that True Beach Lovers continue to receive the highest levels of service they have come to know and expect from us, CheapCaribbean is proud to support the Punta Cana Promise.

The Punta Cana Promise reaffirms the commitment of Punta Cana hotels to a set of security standards in one of the safest spots in the Caribbean. You’ll find comfort in knowing that:

  • Properties are self-contained and provide 24-hour security and medical assistance
  • Food and beverage offerings come only from reputable, trusted vendor partners and are all carefully checked and inspected before being served at any property, in accordance with global food safety management standards
  • Employees all undergo rigorous background checks, screening, and training
  • High staff-to-guest ratios ensure that every guest receives the attention, service, and security they expect and deserve
  • Properties not only meet but also exceed tourism and hospitality regulations and guidelines
  • Hotel-affiliated vacation activities and excursions are provided exclusively by reputable partners who are all licensed and insured
  • Properties are each united in the oversight and delivery of the Punta Cana Promise
  • Hotels will provide safety information and phone numbers to all guests upon check-in


(Our resort, Now Larimar Punta Cana, thank you to Renaud from Flytographer for capturing these amazing images while we were in town.  If you are looking for a photographer when traveling, check out flytographer available around the world (you can use code Becca50 to get $50 off the next time you book a shoot through the end of 2020!)

We had such an amazing family vacation, below is everything you need to know about our stay!

How to get there:

We flew into Punta Cana Airport and got on an Amstar transfer pre-arranged.  The airport is a pretty decent size, it did take a good 20/30 minutes once we landed to get through customs.  Pro Tip:  When leaving Punta Cana, the airport has a sky lounge available for a small fee or 50% off american express card holders.  It has an inifinity pool, unlimited drinks and snacks, showers, towels, and wifi!  There aren’t many other options in the airport for dining.

Where we stayed:

  • Now Larimar Punta Cana:  Located about 15 minutes from the airport.  This was an all inclusive resort and we were blown away with the level of service we received.  Every worker on the resort seemed to truly care about their job, their country, and their culture.  There were several pools around the property, the drinks were great, and all of the dining options were decent for an all inclusive resort.  We stayed in a Deluxe tropical view room, if your going without the kids, definitely request a room with a walk out pool.  If you do bring the kids, they have an amazing Explorer Kids club and outdoor playground area that mine spent majority of the days playing.
  • How to Book:  Head here to CheapCaribbean site and you can use code BECCA75 – $75 off; one time use, (5 Night minimum stay, minimum double occupancy, package only, for travel January 17 – December 31, 2020; expires March 10th 2020)


Dining at Now Larimar:

  • Breakfast options: Carnival Cafe- this is a buffet option, quick and good selections. We came here for breakfast every morning, sometimes lunch and dinner if we needed it to be fast with kids! Castaways is an option for breakfast or lunch if you want to be outside by beach!
  • Lunch Options: Barefoot Grill- hut located on the beach, you walk up and can take the food out to the pool or the beach!  Easiest option if hanging outside all day because the restaurants require you to have shirts and shoes on!
  • Dinner: Bluewater Grill & Steakhouse, Cappers Italian, Mercure (french), Spice (Asian- our favorite, choose the hibachi side), Tamrindo (mexican), Windows-buffet.
  • Extras:  Coffee shop:  Coco Cafe, near lobby! Fresh Coconuts on Mondays on the beach!


Excursions: (can also be booked through CC pretravel via amstar, onsite activities can be booked at the resort)

  • Soana Island:  We did this for a full day adventure.  A Van picks you up outside of the resort around 8am, drive you 1-2 hours to the boat dock.  The boat ride takes another full 2 hours, with tons of dancing, snorkeling stops, and a sandbar stop until finally reaching the destination of the private Soana Island.  You have lunch on the island.  Recommend packing your own cooler if you have kids for snacks and drinks the entire day!
  • Golfing
  • Non-motorized equipment on property


Things to Pack:

  • Water wings, life jackets for kids if you need them!
  • Floats/goggles/sand castle toys unless you want to purchase on site
  • SPF
  • The weather was in the low 80s and not too cold at night.  I packed several maxi dresses that transitioned well.

Thank you to the CheapCaribbean team for coordinating this entire trip for us!  Don’t forget to head to their site to book YOUR next vacay and get $75 off with code BECCA75 till 3/10!  We can’t wait to head to another tropical destination soon!  #partner #ad #truebeachlover #cheapcaribbean

travel

Malibu Travel Guide

We have come to Malibu California many times but this is the first time we stayed at a hotel for the weekend and we absolutely loved the entire set up!  The weather was mid 60s in January and we enjoyed being able to be out on the beach for a day.  Here is my weekend run down to enjoy Malibu with the Fam!

Where to Stay:
Malibu Beach Inn: Ocean front hotel located right off the PCH in the heart of Malibu.  This is one of the best locations if you plan to explore all Malibu has to offer.  The hotel is part of the leading hotels of the world club & also a Virtuoso property (which has amazing perks!).  Here is everything we enjoyed about the hotel:

  • Ocean front rooms! Each room has a balcony over looking the pacific ocean.  It was very relaxing to wake up and open the doors to the sound of the ocean!  The rooms also felt like you were more in a guest house versus a hotel room with the high ceiling beams and fireplace.  It was so cute.  Also all the amenities in the room were top notch, even the toilets were heated!
  • Daily beach yoga offered!  Confirm the night before with your concierage for a session from 8am-9am.
  • The beach- daily lounge chairs are put out with towels for easy use.  They have a huge supply of kid beach toys too!
  • Carbon Beach Club: Their onsite dining, we enjoyed eating here for breakfast one morning!  So many healthy options.  The inside bar seemed like a local hang out nightly, with a great vibe.
  • Onsite spa


What to do:

  • Malibu Wines:  We have booked a safari tour many times and always love it!  You can visit Stanley the Giraffe to feed him food, stop for wine pairings, and see all the animals on the property.  Make sure to sign up for the malibu wine hike tour if you have kids.  If you are 21 or older you can sign up for malibu wine safari tour instead here.
  • Malibu Cafe:  This is a great spot also on the property to have lunch or a fun dinner with the family.  They have life size chess, ping pong, corn-hole, and live music!  It’s a huge area where kids can run around free while you enjoy a drink too :).
  • Ride horses through the Malibu mountains:  We did this two years ago and it was one of my favorite experiences.  Children can ride if 6+years.
  • Visit Malibu Beach Pier: (within walking distance from Malibu Beach Inn if you stay here).  Cute restaurants and fun to walk the pier with kids.

Where to Dine: (all ocean front views)

  • Carbon Beach Club- Mentioned earlier, enjoy breakfast/lunch/dinner here at Malibu Beach Inn.
  • Nobu:  This is one of our all time favorite spots, amazing sushi and food. Make reservations 30+days in advance!
  • Malibu Beach Cafe
  • Dukes Malibu
  • Malibu Farm or Malibu Farm Cafe (both located on the pier)


We love you Malibu!  <3

travel

Vail CO Travel Guide

This Guide was recently featured in Forbes Article: US Travel: 25 Best Places To Visit in 2020


Vail Colorado surprisingly is now one of our favorite winter towns, and that says a lot because we have always been tropical people!  We had the absolutely best time bringing the kids and will definitely be going back next year if the travel allows :).  Vail is the perfect town for a one stop shop for the family to Ski and be in walking distance of all the action. Below are the basics from our trip to save!

(Streets of Vail Village, outside of the main Gorsuch store)

How to get there:
We flew directly in Denver, CO airport since most big hubs do a nonstop flight.  We then took an Epic Mountain Express shuttle straight to Vail that took about 2 1/2 hours.  You can opt to fly directly into Eagle airport, but it would still be about a 20-30 minute ridge into Vail from there, plus flights are usually pretty high.


(Balcony of Four Seasons Vail)

Where to Stay:
We stayed at the Four Seasons Vail Resort & I can’t imagine staying anywhere else in Vail!  The hotel is 5 star all around, with everything on site for kids to make it an actual vacation for adults as well. Four Seasons Vail offers gourmet dining in Flame Restaurant or The Remedy Bar, or in-room dining; all with top chefs on site. Heated pools, kid play rooms, an award-winning spa and their famous “haute chocolate” (the world’s most luxurious hot chocolate) to keep you warm all day!  They offer luxurious rooms and suites, as well as private residence accommodations with up to six bedrooms.


What to do:

  •  Ski or Snowboard:  We only did Golden Peak mountain since we put the kids in ski school one morning and loved it!  You can read all about the different Terrain Parks Vail has to offer here. Pop over to the Gorsuch store to get all your ski rentals and winter clothing for the season. It has everything from designer clothing to home goods and even whimsical gingerbread houses. Vail’s extensive snowmaking upgrades and expansions have opened up nearly 200 acres of new and enhanced snowmaking terrain to allow longer ski seasons. Opening day for Vail Mountain was November 15 and the mountain remains open through April 19, 2020. Put the kids in Vail ski school at Golden Peak Mountain and ski over 5,317 acres of mountain terrain
  • Explore Vail Village, a popular town with heated cobblestone streets for strolling, restaurants and bars, coffee shops, ice-skating, a movie theater and a bowling alley, all within reach. The country’s largest free transportation system runs frequently, making it easy to access almost anywhere from Vail Village to Lionshead Village without the hassle of driving.
  • Relax: Hit up the Four seasons pools and order hot chocolate, relax in your room by the fire, hit up there amazing spa, or let the kids play in either one of the play rooms while you sit back and watch tv.
  • Dog Sled/ Snowmobile: Book a day of dog sledding with Mountain Mushers, a two-hour scenic ride through Vail Mountains and you will feel like you are in a Christmas card.  We took both our toddlers, they let you stop halfway through to enjoy hot chocolate!
  • Visit Epic Discovery: During peak season, make sure to check out Epic Discovery, where you can ride a roller-coaster through the snow and tube down the mountain. It also has adventure courses, zip lines, a mountain coaster, tubing hills, a climbing wall, bungee trampoline and much more available in the summer months. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure to purchase the Epic Pass for the 2019–20 season.

Where to eat:

  • Flame (Four Seasons Vail restaurant):  Modern Mountain steakhouse. Get the steak with various rub flavors!  I also loved the donut dessert.
  • The Remedy Bar (Also at FS Vail):  I craved their grilled cheese every day!  Everything is so good, considering they have a new head chef Marco Fossati that tailors each menu to be delicious!
  • Matsushisa: Amazing sushi restaurant by Chef Nobu Matsushia,  if you’re familiar with Nobu restaurant, you know how good this place is!
  • Game Creek Mtn: Located on the Mountain! This was closed when we were in town, but I heard you can arrange a snowcat to take you here!
  • 10th Vail Mtn:  Also located at the top of the mountain, take the Gondola here for lunch, amazing views.
  • Mountain Standard: Located in Vail Village, do lunch here!
  • Sweet Basil:  Located in Vail Village, try this place for dinner!
  • La Nonna- Italian Restaurant, located in Vail Village.
    (Smores daily during afternoons at FS Vail outdoor pool firepit)


(Both pools at FS Vail are heated! 2 hot tubs!)

Thanks to the amazing Four Seasons Vail for hosting us & Gorsuch team for styling the entire family!  As always, all opinions are my own.

travel

The Hilton Orlando X Disney World Guide

We just got back from Orlando, or should I say Disney World, and man am I beat!  Doing Disney World with toddlers in a weekend trip is exhausting!  Lainey is at a great age (5) but Roman is still in that terrible toddler age (3) where a lot of meltdowns occur very often.  I was thankful for the days we spent at the resort more than the days at the parks this trip.  I do have a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years with toddlers I will share below, and you can read my last blog post on Disney with toddlers here!  You can also see all the behind the scenes videos on my Instagram story highlights here.

Where we stayed:  The Hilton Orlando (conveniently located 15 minutes or less from all the attractions, and 15 minutes from the airport!)  Here are several tips on the resorts site to help you enjoy your stay.

  • My first tip is where to stay when doing Disney with kids. I was pleasantly surprised how close this resort was too everything without being overcrowded by the holiday rush for Mickeys Halloween Party (which we did our last night).  Transportation can be arranged ahead of time with your concierge.
  • Book a resort with a water park & outdoor activities for downtime between parks.  The Hilton Orlando has two huge pools, a lazy river, splash pad, slide, and outdoor sports areas all over the property!  It felt more like a tropical vacation when we relaxed at the resort.
  • Plan your days and fast passes as far in advance as possible.  This is key with toddlers that have very little patience for rides and meals.  We filled up every morning at The Hilton Orlando’s daily breakfast buffet at The Bistro. The service and food was amazing!  You can do 3 fast passes per day per ticket.  I like to plan ours first thing in the morning to knock out all the key rides before lunch!  Make sure to mention rider switch if one child isn’t tall enough to ride!  Always go back to the resort to nap :).
  • Bring a Stroller and tie balloons to it as soon as your in the park to easily spot yours! We easily rolled the stroller back into our hotel room each night.
  • Tips specifically for Mickeys Halloween Party:  Arrive to the park early (they let you in as soon as 4pm day of).  Try to go mid week for less of a crowd.  Dress up!  Bring your own trick-or-treat bags!  Hit up the rides when everyone is grabbing candy, there are no fast passes during this time so barely any waits!  If you are visiting other parks, The Hilton Orlando has packages that include Universal Orlando & 4th night free! (Harry Potter was my favorite during Halloween)
  • Get the specialty drinks at the bar, from milkshakes for the kids to patron in a mini bottle, The Hilton Orlando pool bar had the best selections!
  • All and all we really enjoyed our convenient location & hospitality at The Hilton Orlando!  It was the perfect quick weekend trip to get the Disney bug out of our system 🙂  Thank you so much to the Hilton team for having us!

travel

Exuma, Bahamas Travel Guide with Grand Isle Resort & 23 North GR

It has been almost a year since our last trip to Grand Isle Resort (you can read that post here) and I was so excited to bring Roman back this time with us!  Last time we only stayed two nights on the resort and brought Lainey, this time we stayed 4 nights and also brought our friends to experience it!  I felt like we were able to appreciate the slower lifestyle Exuma is known for this time around and I always love visiting a place a second time because you know what to do, where to go, and where to eat by then.  Also since our last visit, Grand Isle opened up a new area with an Adults only pool & new restaurant known as 23 North Beach Club.  See below for the latest about the island 🙂

(The new adults only pool at 23 North GR)

About the Island:  “Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 365 islands, also called cays. The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi in length and joined to another island, Little Exuma, by a small bridge. The capital and largest town in the district is George Town.”  Exuma is located on the southern Bahamas.  They were not affected by the recent hurricane and a percentage of all bookings at Grand Isle Resort is going towards the relief for the northern Bahamas (Abaco islands) that was directly hit by Hurricane Dorian.  Book here for last minute escapes!

How to get there:  We flew directly into Georgetown Airport this trip from RDU, with a quick connector in Miami, FL and it was the best experience so far.  We have flown into Nassau before because we missed a connector in Atlanta (you can read about that story here) & hopped over to Exuma later in the day on another connector flight and it made us miss an entire day.  Highly suggest just flying directly into Georgetown Airport!  From there, the resort is a quick 10 minutes away!

What to pack:  I got this question a lot which was surprising to me since it is a typical island lifestyle to me!  It is a small island, nothing fancy, so I was either barefoot or had sandals on with a maxi dress half the time and the other half in a bathing suit!  The weather year round stays in the lower 80s, so just pack comfortable.  If it did rain, it only last maybe an hour throughout the day then the sun would shine.  I usually pack a sweater as well to throw over in the evening when the sun goes down!  Also I always pack my own beach bag with all the kid pool accessories they love.

Where to Stay:  Of course we love Grand Isle Resort!  We stayed at other properties in Exuma before and the experience was not even close to the service and luxury accommodations Grand Isle Resort has to offer.  You can choose between 1-4 bedroom luxury villas.  We stayed in a 3 bedroom this time, but actually ended up switching to a 2 bedroom because apparently only 2 bedrooms have whirlpool tubs and my kids love baths!

Dining Options:  At Grand Isle Resort you have a few options for dining.  You can eat at Palapa grill by the pool for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  23 North also just opened up their newest restaurant which is Asian-Bahamian inspired food that is open for lunch or dinner.  We had an amazing dinner there on one of our nights, see all behind the scenes on my Instagram stories here.  During Hurricane Season a lot of places shut down on the island so options are slim.  We enjoyed taking the boat to Staniel Cay for lunch one afternoon and also make sure to do Sunday Buffet lunch at Chat & Chill!  You have to take a boat to both of these places, you can easily rent your own at Minns Water Sports!

Excursions:  We did a private boat tour for the first time with Triple A Adventures and I will always do that moving forward especially with a group in Exuma!  It also made our day a lot smoother on a private boat with toddlers.  We had a group of 8 people and I loved it because we were able to schedule the day how we wanted and avoid the other boat crowds at key tourist spots (swimming with pigs and shark pictures you see here).  You can customize your private boat tour for a half day or full day depending on what spots you want to visit.  Book your next adventure with Triple A Adventures here!



Thank you to the amazing team at Grand Isle Resort for hosting our stay!  As always, all opinions are my own!