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travel

Maui Travel Guide

We just got back from spending the entire month of December in Maui Hawaii and all I can say is I am having withdrawals already :(! Traveling right now is your own independent choice, but we personally never felt safer than in Hawaii due to the fact anyone traveling to the island has to have a Negative Covid test. I work remote, and my kids are virtual learning so it just felt like the right time to make this trip. Also we live in North Carolina since everything is shut down I wanted the kids to be able to be active outside and learn by exploring new areas! Below is everything you need to know about planning a trip to the Island right now (Also giving away a free RT flight to hawaii over on my instagram here if you want to enter, closes Jan 5th!)


How to get there:

  • Fly into OGG airport for Maui. We chose to fly Hawaiian Airlines due to the fact they have their own Covid testing kits they mail to you, and they also just set up drive thru testing for their customers. You can read more on their site here. They also are still blocking middle seats. I did see American and other Airlines are starting to participate in Covid testing as well so just double check the airlines.
  • Hawaii Arrival Process: First step will be each adult needs to create a Safe Traveler profile on Hawaii Travel site here. On the site you will fill out all info on the trip, your info, and also upload your test results once complete. They will provide you with a QR Code that I suggest printing out as well or screenshotting in a folder on your phone for easy access. (Every airport/hotel will ask for this upon arrival).
  • Take a pre-travel test: forego the quarantine by taking a pre-travel test. The test must be from a state-approved testing provider. The test must be administered no more than 72 hours prior to the scheduled departure time of the final leg to Hawaii. For trans-pacific travel, test results must be received prior to flight departure.
  • Types of Tests: Since we flew Hawaiian we paid $90 per person (anyone under age 5 doesn’t have to take a test FYI) for their Vault Virtual testing. This test was a very simple saliva test and once complete you drop off at the nearest UPS. Because I was paranoid, I also opted to pay for the drive thru Nasal testing that was $119 per person with a 24 hour turnaround time on results. More info on both here.
  • Things to note: Best to do layover in a city that has these testing sites for ease of travel. We stopped in LAX. Also print out all documents and upload PDF into safe traveler site within 24 hours of departure. They didn’t check our paperwork till we got to Hawaii, so prepare to wait in the lines and have someone check all your documents upon arrival.

Now that you are in the clear, Where to stay:
Resorts VS Vacation Rentals:

  • Resorts: Wailea is mainly where all the luxury resorts are and this side of the island rarely rains! We had ONE rainy day the entire time, and it maybe lasted an hour? There are also resorts on the West side, Napili area, that are worth checking out if you are going to explore the island and prefer the hotel route. You can see all the ones we checked out and explored on my instagram highlights here & reels.

    Our all time favorite Resort was Four Seasons Maui, it was 5 star all around. Here is what I loved about it:
  • The rooms! We stayed in an Ocean View one bedroom suite. The rooms had two bathrooms, it felt bigger than normal apartments with a huge lanai. The doors also had cameras on them to see anyone knocking (that was a first).
  • The pools: 3 total, very spread out. An adults only with infinity, a family pool with TWO hottubs! and a kids pool with mini slide and waterfalls.
  • The Luxury feel: The service was top notch. The drinks were amazing, as well as all the restaurants and room service. We also saw several celebrities while on site so that is when you know its high class.
  • Kids Camp: It was daily and free! My kids lived there and it was such a relief for me to be able to work and enjoy the resort at the same time while they met other kids.
  • The beach/location: They have their own little beach area with SUP boards and snorkeling gear out front you can sign up to use.
  • Fitness: They have SUP work out classes and Beach Yoga I did one morning, so calming! (plus a gym and game room on site)

Vacation Rentals:

  • If you are staying long term I suggest looking into rentals that are more affordable and hoping around the island. I also loved being able to have a kitchen and do our laundry with small kids. We switched up airbnbs on the West side Napili Area and also rented a few in Paia. I only rent from superhosts because you know the reviews and guests don’t lie!

Where to eat (advanced ressys always, these were our favs!):

  • South Maui/ Wailea Area:
    (Four Seasons Maui)
    Ferraros Bar e Ristorante
    Spagos
    Duo Steak & Seafood
    (Andaz Resort)
    Ka’ana Kitchen
    The Feast at Mokapu Luau
    (Fairmont Kea Lani)
    Nicks Fishmarket
    Ko (sushi)
  • West Maui (Napili/Kanapali area):
    Merrimans- Drinks/sunset great
    AAroots- breakfast/Acai Bowls
    Cliff House at Montage
    Burger Shack-Lunch on the beach at the Ritz Kapalua
    (Lahaina Area)
    Honu Seafood & Pizza
    Leodas Pies
    Ululani’s Shaved Ice
    Oluwalu Juice Truck (fresh coconuts)
  • North Shore Maui (Paia/Haiku)
    Paia Fish Market
    Mamas Fish house
    Jaws- Road to Hana, good smoothies
    Garden of Eden- road to Hana, food truck!

What to do:

  • Sunrise Snorkel Tour: We booked this exact one here with Kai Kanani. I recommend doing this the first couple days of the trip since you are already adjusting to the time change anyways it will be easy to get up at 5am! The breakfast was amazing, you snorkel two spots and see turtles. We also were lucky enough to catch whales!
  • Nakalele Blowhole: West Maui, about 20 minutes from Napili area and a windy road. Hike down the mountain to see the rocks and water shoot through! Wear water shoes.
  • Northshore Zipline: This is in Haiku, North shore Maui. Family Oriented, ages 5+ and this was our kids favorite activity! Took about 2 hours and 7 courses.
  • Road to Hana: Start in Paia, this drive is windy and could take a full day if you make every stop. I paid $7 for this self guided app that was amazing since you loose service. It is called: Gypsy Guide in app store. We only made it to twin falls and Garden of Eden with small kids. I have a complete Road to Hana List Ill put together on another post someone sent to me as well!
  • Helicopter Tour: Book an epic experience with Hawaii VIP
  • The Feast at Mokapu (Andaz Maui)- The perfect luxury outdoor lu’au you can get in Wailea! They serve a 3 course meal and the kids are able to run around and play while you enjoy the show!
  • Haleakala National Park: Drive above the clouds at Sunrise by booking an appointment here or go at sunset no reservations needed!
  • IOA Valley National Park: A fun drive and day hike of exploring.
  • Rent a Cabana for a Pool day with the kids: We loved Fairmont Kea-Lani & The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua for day passes!
  • Relax at the best beaches: For families I loved Baby Beach and Ho’okipa on the North Shore where you can also see turtles.

DM me on Instagram if you have anymore questions for your trip! Have so much fun!

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

travel

Playa Del Carmen Travel Guide

Our first trip internationally after 7 months in the US did not disappoint! We headed to Playa Del Carmen Mexico through CheapCaribbean and two of our best friends for a little adults only getaway. We were very impressed with how smooth the process went from booking the trip, to the arrival, transportation, and to the hotel. Below are all the details to make sure your trip is just as smooth and sharing a discount code for travel at the end!

Ocean sunrise in front of Paradisus Resort


How to get there:
We flew into Cancun airport. This is the main airport hub if you are visiting the east coast of Mexico. Playa Del Carmen is about an hour drive from Cancun, and Tulum is 2 hours. Highly recommend having prearranged transport with Amstar prior to arrival so everything is hassle free getting straight to your destination. We booked the Private Deluxe Transfer here! I can’t say enough good things about this experience, from waiting with a sign with our name on it, grabbing our luggage, to beverages waiting for us, and intense cleaning procedures, the team was amazing!

You can see details of their cleaning protocols here as well!

Where to stay: Paradisus Playa Del Carmen All Inclusive Resort!

Paradisus all inclusive resort is the way to go! Paradisus is also a Trip Trust resort which means they are following industry guidelines for cleaning protocols! You can read all about it here! But basically they are taking cleaning to high extremes, every employee was wearing a mask and temperatures were checked before every meal on the property. When you arrive you pre-book all your meals & you don’t have to worry about paying for a thing anymore! It is a huge property with an adults only section and an entire area for families too! We stayed in a one bedroom Master Suite. My favorite part was this outdoor jacuzzi tub overlooking the swimming pools.

Below is info straight from the CheapCaribbean site on the resort so you know the exact things they have to offer:

“This is a Beachfront All-inclusive Resort with 910 lavish suites including 124 Swim-up Suites with direct access to the pool  | 334 The Reserve Suites and four Presidential Suites |  New Concept: THE RESERVE with dedicated areas for Everyone and for Adults Only  | Two Sparkling free-form swimming pool with swim-up bar and pool side grill | Fitness center | YHI Spa ($) | El Zocalo, the heart of Paradisus Playa del Carmen, featuring 14 restaurants including “SAL”-Steak Cave ($) and 11 bars | A wide array of non-motorized land and watersports | Kids Zone with supervised activities for kids up to 12 years, playground with jungle gym and outdoor activities | New Waterpark and splash pad for the kids | Life-enriching Experiences | Pristine white sand beach | Day and night-time entertainment 

Paradisus Playa del Carmen is an all-inclusive  luxury playground catering to adults and children alike. The resort is located along the Riviera Maya’s prestigious Playa del Carmen enclave on Mexico’s eastern shore renowned for pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters, 45 minutes from Cancun International Airport (CUN).Just steps from extraordinary beaches & attractions: Playa del  Carmen’s 5th Avenue, Xcaret, Akumal, Xel-ha, and Xplor. Our extensive features, options and services come with a Guest Experience Manager, or Concierge to help you navigate so you are free to roam and relax.”

The grounds around Paradisus were breathtaking

Where to eat on property: (our favorites below, see entire list here)

  • Breakfast: Papaya Grill, Adults only section recommend for the best experience. Naos for more family environment.
  • Lunch: Enjoy the swim up pool bars and eating area
  • Dinner: Bano (asian), Fuego (latin infused), Vento (italian), Mole (mexican)

What to do:

  • Day trip to Tulum! Highly recommend checking this town out for a day or two! Tulum is another hour drive south from playa del carmen & we were able to get a taxi for 4 people for $80usd from the hotel! See my instagram for tips for that spot :).
  • Visit Cenotes: Popular ones include: Dos Ojos, Gran Cenote, Suyton
  • Go on a Luxury sailing excursion: Book one here.
  • Watch an acrobatic show at the Paradisus family pool in the Reserve section! We watched this show from our balcony one night, very entertaining.
  • Check out all the activities available from Paradisus here!

Thanks to CheapCaribbean and Paradisus Playa Del Carmen for having us! You can use code BECCA100 on their site here:
(Requirements: 6 night package, min double occupancy. Expires: 11/15. Travel window: now-Dec 2021)

travel

Charleston Travel Guide

Charleston was our first trip in over 6 months out of North Carolina since Covid hit! I was very hesitant at first to see what staying in a hotel would be like during a pandemic but the experience felt even safer than before with all the precautions in place.  We actually flew over from Ocean Isle Beach NC with a few friends in a Saratoga plane.  It was such a cool experience and only took 30 minutes!  Otherwise I recommend driving if on the east coast, its just 3 hours from Wilmington NC, or flying into the Charleston Airport.  If you’re traveling with the entire family, make sure to check out my last guide I did on Charleston here!

Here is my run down of things to do in a short weekend!  As always, you can see the behind the scenes of our trip on the “Charleston” Highlight on my Instagram here!

 



Lets get straight to it, because you all know I am turning into a food blogger lately, and most of these places you need advanced reservations at least a few weeks before traveling!



WHERE TO EAT:

Coffee Shops:

Brunch:

Happy Hour:

  • Dewberry (rooftop)
  • Bourbon & Bubbles
  • Hotel Bennett (rooftop) then pop in the Camellia Champagne Bar
  • Thoroughbred Club (inside the Belmond)
  • Felix Bar
  • Halls Chop House

Dinner:

  • Frannie & the Fox (inside Emeline Hotel)- Italian (get everything)
  • Mesu (mexican/asian get the nachos!)
  • Husk
  • Magnolias
  • only all the food in Charleston is amazing you really can’t go wrong.


(Frannie & the Fox, inside Emeline Hotel)


(Millers all day)


(Darling Oyster Bar)

WHAT TO DO:

  • Rainbow Row:  One of the most Iconic photo spots in Downtown Charleston.  Explore the streets, take in all the colorful walls, and hit up all the cute shops.
  • Bike Around- Hotel Emeline provides them complimentary if you are staying on the property, or you can rent nearby easily.
  • Take a Horse Carriage ride around town!
  • Visit all the Plantations/Museums (look into getting the Charleston VIP pass)
  • Take a pedal boat tour!
  • If traveling with children, visit the splash fountain in front of Harbour View Inn on a hot day.
  • Go on a Sailing tour (we did this years ago and it was epic)

 

 

WHERE TO STAY: (now that I have you ready to go!)

  • Hotel Emeline:  The newest boutique hotel on the block in downtown Charleston.  From the moment you walk into the hotel you can smell the aroma of Charleston (not kidding they even sell the scent at the gift shop).  The hotel décor is so chic and very “instagramable”.  The rooms have a vintage vibe and come with your own record player (say what!).  We loved the fact the bikes were complimentary, the proximity to downtown, and the fact the best restaurants were on site!  They also provide the cutest Mini Coopers (seen below) to stroll around the city too!
  • DISCOUNT! For the month of October anyone that stays will get 20% through booking with my exact link! Don’t sleep on this, everyone needs a vacay right now!  




As always, just DM me on instagram if you have any questions!  Enjoy your next trip <3 

travel

Scottsdale Bachelorette Travel Guide

March 9th weekend feels like a century ago now when I try to recap my thoughts on my best friends Bachelorette party in Scottsdale, AZ.  It was the weekend before the world went into pandemic mode.  With everything going on in the world right now with COVID-19 virus, traveling in the future just doesn’t seem attainable.  It is all temporary, so when we do get back to traveling regularly put this on your saved travel list! I would love to take you all back to sunny days when time stopped still for Nikki Sweeney, soon to be Nikki Cosden!  Read below for everything you need to know to plan the perfect Bachelorette in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (You can also read another recap of our trip over on Stag & Hen’s blog here!)

Best time to Visit:  Spring time- Late February- April.  Scottsdale has desert heat, so the summer time can get way too hot.  Also March is spring training for baseball teams, so its the ideal time for bars/restaurants to be packed with fun.  We went the first weekend in March and the weather is mid 80s!

How to get there:  We flew into PHX airport, which takes about 20 minutes to drive into Scottsdale, AZ.  I did see there was a smaller airport in Scottsdale you could potentially fly into as well.

Where to stay:  What I loved about Scottsdale when researching was that the area is very affordable for bachelorette parties!  We found many mansion style houses all around the area for pretty cheap prices!  We chose to stay in Old Town area due to being close to all the bars and restaurants.  We also wanted to stay at a property that came with full service concierge team and we found that with The Platinum Experience! We booked this exact house, it has 5 bedrooms, a pool + hot tub and fit 11 of us perfectly!  The Platinum experience organized grocery delivery for us, early check in, a private chef, and answered any questions we had at all times.  I would highly recommend booking a place in Scottsdale with a full team available to help with all necessities to take stress off the planning!  Use code BOOKDIRECT10 to receive 10% the nightly rate on any of their properties here.

Our perfect Itinerary:  I created this printable itinerary from a downloadable link from this etsy shop!

*Activities mentioned above: We absolutely loved booking the Pedal Bike tour with Arizona Party Bikes!  We chose to do a sunset tour and it was the perfect amount of time to hit up all the happy hour spots in Old Town Scottsdale.  You can easily book any time on their site, we chose to do a private tour since we had over 10+ people.  I would suggest booking at least a month+ out for weekend pedal tours because it is Arizona’s top rated tour for parties!  The driver played amazing music & it was BYOB! I can’t recommend this tour enough :).  Thank you Arizona Party Bikes for kicking our weekend off right!



What to buy for the trip:

 

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

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!

travel

Kiawah Island, SC Travel Guide

Where to begin with this post!  I use to vacation to Kiawah Island every summer as a child and went on to get married here on September 13th, 2014!  We were able to spend our 6th year wedding anniversary on the island with Lainey & Roman this time to experience it with us.   (You can see all the details about my wedding on A Low Country Wed Blog & Destination I Do.)  This island holds such a special place in our hearts and never disappoints in all aspects.  It truly is one of those magical beaches that has the prettiest golf courses along the coast to enjoy too.  There are 10+miles of beach, and 30+ miles of bike trails, and multiple kid splash park pools and playgrounds to keep them entertained.  I’ve always heard families favorite thing about the beaches here are the huge tide pools that appear and the fact you can have your dog on the beach!


(view from Sanctuary pool)

& Here is everything you need to know about Kiawah Resort

How to Get there:
It is about 45 minutes depending on traffic from the Charleston, SC Airport.  You drive through rows of beautiful trees in route to Kiawah Island, where you simply drive up to the front security gate and let them know where you are staying.

Where to stay:  
*When booking a place through Kiawah Resort, you get access to all the resort amenities & benefits. You have access to pools, fitness centers, discounted rates on recreational activities, golf, and tennis.  Keep in mind, people who book through the resort get preferential tee times and court times at the tennis center as well.

  • The Sanctuary Hotel- this is the only luxury hotel on the island.  We spent our wedding night here and this past weekend we stayed 3 nights and it was amazing!  Forbes Travel Guide awarded the hotel a solid 5 stars and you receive nothing short of a 5 star service!  “Choose from 255 well-appointed guestrooms, with King rooms spanning 520 square feet or more. Or upgrade to an exceptional suite, including the awe-inspiring 3,000-square-foot Presidential Suite.”
  • Villas– If you prefer more space for an affordable nightly rate, you can book any of the villas on the island!
  • Private Homes-  We rented several houses my wedding week that had 6+ bedrooms and turned into a huge family event.  You can book private homes on the kiawah website here.  There isn’t a bad view on the island, you just need to decide if you want to be on the beach or in a neighborhood!
  • COMING SOON! The Ocean Course cottages Vacation cottages that are 2 & 4 story will be under construction soon.  They are estimated to be ready in Fall of 2020.

 

What to do:

  • Bike: Reserve bikes ahead of time depending where you are staying on the island and ride bikes on the beaches and through the island.
  • Pool Hop: Visit all the pools, make sure to go to Night Heron Park and explore their splash park/water slides!
  • Play Golf– the PGA Championship is held on the Ocean Course located here. Kiawah has some of the nicest & most challenging courses in the world. Keep in mind certain courses require you to also have your own caddy.
  • Play Tennis- Voted the top tennis resort in the world by tennisresortsonline.com for 2019. “For an unsurpassed player experience, we offer 22 tennis courts, including ten new Har-Tru clay courts, all tucked into the resort’s stunning surroundings and bordered by fragrant oleander, rustling palmettos, swaying pampas grass and vibrant flowers.”
  • Beach- especially in the afternoons, don’t miss the tide pools that make you feel like you are on a secluded island!

     

  • Kamp Kiawah– If you’re traveling with the kids look into this, some of my favorite child hood memories were at Kamp Kiawah.  Find more info here.
  • Attend an Oyster Roast Dinner at Mingo Point- Available dates here and you can purchase tickets!
  • Spa– This is located in the Sanctuary Hotel.  The Forbes Travel Guide recognized The Spa at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort with Five Stars for the ninth year in a row!  This Forbes Five Star Spa’s soothing treatments are derived from botanical extracts, nourishing seaweed, rich mud and natural enzymes, all offered in a spectacular setting.  From beginning to end the entire experience was amazing.  We got the custom couples massage in one of their suite seclusion, I chose to incorporate a lavender scent for relaxation.  Designed for the most exclusive experience, their beautifully appointed Couple’s Suite features two treatment tables, a relaxation area and a private therapeutic bath and shower.  Make sure to arrive 30+ minutes early to enjoy all the spa has to offer.  We sat in the coed Magnolia room and enjoyed their custom granola and hot tea before our service.  They have a Sauna, whirl pool, and steam room to relax ahead of time or post treatment so make sure to bring your swim suit.  If you do only one thing on this trip, make sure to book a spa appointment! I can’t rave about this experience enough.  Explore all the treaments here.

     

Here is a Sample Itinerary they customized for us which was the perfect amount of family fun + relaxation for a 3 day weekend at the Sanctuary Hotel:

Day 1:  Check in, head to the beach to enjoy the late tide pools that show up for the kids.  End with Dinner at the Ocean Room at the Sanctuary.

Day 2:  Up early with kids- Grab bikes for the weekend and ride them to the beach or Night Heron Park Pool!  Head back for lunch at Logger heads by the sanctuary pool, and get the kids down for naps!  3pm- book the dolphin excursion where you can see them swim right up to the boat and various animals along the sound.  4:30pm-  Play nine holes at one of the famous golf courses- We did Cougar Point!  Then head to dinner at the Ryder Cup room (located at the Ocean Course for a one of a kind sunset).  Let the kids roll down the hill while you have a cocktail on the lawn waiting for your table. (Always make reservations in advance)

Day 3: Get up early and ride bikes around the island again and enjoy a full day at the beach & park to just relax.  Book a babysitter from the concierge for 3pm and head to the spa for a full afternoon of relaxation.  Head to dinner at the Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course to enjoy dinner without the kids and soak in that sunset one more time!

(on the dolphin tour)


Where to eat:

  • Breakfast: 
    -Jasmine Porch-southern cuisine, also great for dinner!
    -Relax & order room service!
  • Lunch:
    -Logger Head grill- by the pool at the Sanctuary, I had an amazing chicken pineapple sandwich I’m still thinking about!
    -Tomasso at Turtle Point- Italian dishes!
    -Beaches & Cream for ice cream & snacks!
  • Dinner:
    -Ryder Cup at the Ocean Course: Modern Pub Fare & a la carte Breakfast choices
    -Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course: Amazing seafood restaurant, as for the back room!
    -The Ocean Room at the Sanctuary: Premier Steakhouse, boasting Forbes 4 stars!  They also have amazing sushi too.
    All of these were phenomenal dinners, read more details about Kiawah’s Dining Collection here.
    (out in front of the ocean course dining area)

Here are some pictures over the last 7 years Amelia & Dan have captured from our engagement to last weekend!



Thank you so much Kiawah Resort for having us and continuing to exceed our expectations every stay!  As always, all opinions are my own.  Follow them on Instagram to stay up to date on events happening on the island!

travel

Seattle Travel Guide

This was our first time in Seattle and I have a feeling it wont be our last.  If you missed it on my Instagram, I recently accepted an 100% remote IT recruiting job with Amazon, so they flew me out to Seattle for my first week of training at their headquarters!  I know we went in the prime time to visit because it only rained once the entire time for a week and the weather was mid 70s.  Apparently every other month of the year is typically rainy, so if you’re going to visit shoot for the summer months!  The city felt fresher to me, unlike New York or Paris, but a crisp feel probably because it sits right on the water.  Overall, we felt great about the trip and below I’ve highlighted a few of our favorite spots!


(your basic picture of pike place market, wearing all shop the mint)

What to do:

  • Get the Seattle City Pass: Visit all the hot spots included.
    Admission Includes

  • Go to the Beach: We were recommended Alki Beach Park the most but we never made it! There is also Goldens Garden Park & Enatai Beach Park & Boathouse.
  • Take the kids to all the Museums & Parks! Downtown Bellevue Park playground is a new area.  During the summer they show free movies in the park for the kids!  Also heard great things about Kid’s Quest Childrens Museum, but we never made it.
  • Go to Pike Place Market:  Shop the farmers market, walk around on the pier or grab local sushi!

    (Kids at the Zoo wearing Emu Shoes!)

    (on the Ferris wheel, included on city pass)

Where to eat: (so many spots we didnt get to check out!)

  • Breakfast: Biscuit Bitch, All Water Seafood & Oyster Bar, Room service from either of the hotels mentioned!
  • Lunch: Lola’s, Mbar, Wataru, Serious Pie Pizza
  • Dinner: Canlis, The Nest, Sushi Kashiba, The pink Door, Bateau, Walrus & the Carpenter, Shuckers, Spinasse, Stateside
  • Dessert: Cinnaholic, Chocolate factory (pike place market), Salt & Straw Ice cream, Molly Moons Ice Cream.

    (View from the Nest bar & restaurant)

Where to Stay:

  •  Downtown Seattle:  This is where we stayed the entire time with the kids & I loved how close all the attractions were and amazing restaurants.  We checked out to amazing hotels while in town, our first night we spent it at Loews Hotel 1000 (read my full review here) and the rest of the week we stayed at The Fairmont Olympic (read my full review here)!  Both were amazing 4/5 star hotel spots, click on each review to see exactly what we loved about each!
  • Capitol Hill
  • Bellevue:  The Eastside of Seattle, several restaurants and things to do with kids here!
  • Ballard Area:  Where a lot of locals live!  This is a hip waterfront neighborhood that would be cute to rent an airbnb for a weekend!


    (view from the space needle: also available via city pass, dress is tiare hawaii)
    *As always, you can shop all my outfits here from all my trips!