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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

Review of The Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle

We checked into the amazing Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle on our second night in town and stayed for four nights!  This place was unreal, I felt like we were in a story book once we walked into the lobby area.  The entire hotel screams luxury and the staff was so amazing it would be hard to complain about anything here.  The Hotel felt like a solid 5 star hotel, so I’m not sure why online it says only 4 stars.  But let me tell you, if you are going to stay at a hotel in Seattle, this should be it!  See behind the scenes of the hotel on my story highlight here and tons of videos.
Read below for everything we loved about the place!

What we loved:

  • The Rooms:  We specifically had the Deluxe Executive King Suite, room 342 and 344 I believe.  I loved that the rooms were connected via a private hallway, and each room had its own pull-out couch with a living space to hang out.  Traveling with kids can be exhausting, so I think it’s important to make sure the room situation is perfect for your own sanity and enjoyment when vacationing.
  • The Amenities:  They have an indoor pool that the workout room over looks so you can conveniently work out while watching your kids swim.  The entire area has a clear roof, which brings so much light in too.  I researched a few hotels in downtown, and I think this was the only one I even saw with a pool!  My kids LOVE hot tubs, and this was the perfect size for them.  It was about the size of a baby pool, and 3ft deep all around.

  • The Location:  Located just blocked from the pier, pike market, and all the action, everything was such an easy walk!
  • The Service: From check in to check out, the entire team at Fairmont Olympic Hotel made sure we were spoiled for everything!  There is also a driver concierge to take you wherever you need to out front. We also did the Spa one day & I loved their new infrared pods that help with releasing antioxidants.
  • The Food:  I could order their entire breakfast menu from room service daily, and I did haha.  The fruit is so fresh and very tropical (papaya, grapefuit, etc) I craved it every morning.  We also enjoyed dinner one night on site at their restaurant Shuckers.  If you love oysters, this place is a must try!

    (picture from shuckers, on site restaurant at the hotel) 

    Thank you Fairmont for having us & for all the special touches during our stay, we can’t wait to visit again!

 

travel

Travel Guide Miami, South Beach

It’s been just shy of two weeks since I left the city of Miami with all my girlfriends celebrating my 30th, and I miss the energy (and heat) there!  It is the perfect place to fly for a weekend trip with the family, girls weekend or bachelor/bachelorette!  Below you’ll find everything you need to know to make it an amazing trip!

How to get there:  You can fly into FLL or MIA airport.   With traffic, both come out to almost the same drive time to South beach Miami. I always put google alert flights on for multiple airports and route options months prior to get the best deals.  Flying from NC we ended up getting RT flights for $200!

When to visit:  Miami is a place I would visit year round!  The temperatures are ideal anytime 70-80s typically, but I would just try to avoid holidays, spring break, and ultra weekend music festival due to the crowds.

 


(Outfit by South moon under, picture kimpton surfcomber pool)

Where to stay: We stayed at both Kimpton sister properties during our time there, and both were amazing in their own ways.  You know I love some Kimpton Hotels, here are some things to note about each.  Since both of these properties are boutique hotels, its key to book early because they only have a select amount of rooms.

  •   Option 1:  The Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel:  If you prefer to be on the beach, this is the spot.  It is located at the heart of SOBE and easy walking distance to all the action.  They have an onsite pool that hosts some amazing pool parties & you can rent the side cabanas during the day.  They also have an onsite restaurant called The Social Club where you can dine inside by the lobby or outside.  I enjoyed their avocado toast one morning!  They also offer fun Splash Cycle fitness classes & several other events you can find on their calendar here.

(From beach to pool, they provide chairs and towels)

  • Option 2:  The Kimpton Angler Hotel:  I loved this hotel was located within blocks from the beach and around a fun area of SOBE.  We immediately enjoyed bites at the Minnow bar upon arrival.  I got the Charcuterie Board and the chef brought us out the lobster rolls to try too.  The outside area has a boho chic vibe, I would sit out here the entire night if I could.  Also their drinks were SO good!  My favorite thing about this hotel was their ROOFTOP POOL!  The rooms were so cute and the staff felt like family.  They even brought me balloons for my birthday, who does that?  Thank you to the Kimpton team, yall are amazing!


    (rooftop pool at Kimpton Angler)

    (Outdoor dining at Minnow bar)


    (Pimento cheese dip & Charcuterie board)
    *
    Where to eat: (besides the above hotels, we love to dine out in cities whenever traveling new places)Below are ones I have been to before and can vouch!  But here is a complete list online too
  • For Party/lively crowd (sparkles table kinda thing): Komodo, Baoli, Seaspice or Kikis on the river (sundays)
  • For upscale dining:  Nobu, Prime 112, Swan, STK
  • For Brunch Spots: Malibu Farm at Eden Roc, Nikki’s Beach
    (brunch at Kimpton Surfcomber, outfit by local shop Wallysposh)
    (on the yacht we rented from yacht charters of miami, my suit is from kyaswim)
    *
    What to do:
  • Book a Yacht for half the day or an entire day!  We did this on a Saturday with Yacht Charters of Miami and we wish we had done an entire day!  I also recommend booking these way in advance because the best companies get booked.  The entire staff on yacht Charters of Miami were so sweet and organized from booking to finish.  We went out on this yacht, but you can choose a variety on their site!  You can also choose to do Jetskis as well, but we ended up just enjoying the boat and sightseeing Miami from that point of view.
  • Explore South Beach and Art areas of Miami.  There are so many cute areas we didn’t have time to check out, but everyone suggested.
  • Shop!  One of the local stores I loved and wore clothes from is Wallys Posh. Shop all their looks online!


  • (Luggage is Delsey, You can shop all my looks here from the trip!)Its always fun Miami!  Until next time 🙂
travel

Nassau, Bahamas Travel Review of Baha Mar Resorts

We started in Exuma & took a quick (45 min) hopper flight over to Nassau to stay 2 nights at Baha Mar Resorts.  I absolutely loved our resort, after being on quiet Exuma, Nassau is definitely where you come for most of the action.  I loved it so much, that we never even ventured off property.  Everything was perfectly set up for you to enjoy everything on site without getting bored.  There is a section on my instagram highlights here where you can see videos of entire trip!
Here is everything you need to know about our stay:

(Suit Pearl Street Swim)
(Suit Lspace)

Accommodations:  Baha Mar Resorts
This Resort is brand new (as in built in the last 3 years) and there are three different areas on the property you can choose to stay at.  The property is all connected, but it never felt overwhelming to me like Atlantis did (we have stayed there before, and I would never go back except for a day trip after this experience).  You also have access to every single pool on the property, which I thought was amazing no matter what section you stayed at.  There is a Casino on the ground floor.  If I had to describe this place, I would say a mix of Vegas Cosmo feel with Miami/Nobu dining.  Basically all my favorite things combined into one Resort.  Needless to say, we will be back!

Here are your options at Baha Mar

1. Grand Hyatt Baha Mar– We stayed here, I felt like this was perfect & affordable for families.  The rooms were all white & felt very luxury.  I loved how low the beds were to the ground.  The room came with your own iPad to show you the result property and let you choose activities for the kids or spa during your stay.

2. SLS Baha Mar I would stay here without the kids, or even with older kids if you want luxury feel all around.  Their lobby during Christmas was a beautiful site and their pool was my favorite.  Every pool has a different menu, and SLS pool was the only one that had the EXOTIC fruit plate I was obsessed with.  I probably had two a day :).  They also serve a variety of popsicles for kids and adults, heaven!

3. Rosewood- We didn’t get a chance to really check this area out with so much to do in our lobbies.  But their properties have direct beach access and I’m sure just as amazing as the others.

IMG_9323
(Views from our room, Grand Hyatt.  Dresses: little Choco Pink)

Amenities on the Property:

  •  The Pools: There are 6 pools!  Yes, 6 very different pools.  It was like you were at a different resort every hour, amazing.  Our favorite pool for food menu was the SLS pool.  For exploring/fun- Dean’s Blue Hole, you could jump off the rocks into the pool & there was an underwater aquarium where you went under caves.  We stayed at the hot-tubs right by that area a lot too.  It was the closet pool to the beach.

    (Suit Montce)(Suit Minnow Swim)
  • The Beach:  Beautiful as usual and not crowded at all.  Comfortable lounge chairs waiting for guest use, and there was a local Cabana boy that sold Coconuts for $15, and after you drank it he would provide an alcoholic drink in it complimentary!  They had water-sports equipment you could use, but we never made it down there enough to do it.(Dress PinkChickenNY)
  • The Sanctuary: This was an onsite interactive water area that grants guests access to feed the nurse sharks, stingrays and turtles!  Kids 8+ older can participate, or enroll your child in the kids camp and they will take them there too!  (I did this for Lainey and met her at the site & watched her feed the turtles & sharks!)

    IMG_8744
    (Suit Lspace)

  • The Food: Ahhh, I’m already dreaming of going back for the food.  There were amazing food trucks on every
    corner of the resort, from hot-dogs to tacos to snow-cones/ice-cream you name it.  Then the restaurants on site, hands down as good as Nobu chain which is our favorite restaurant.  We made reservations at Cleo & Katsuya both nights.  So good, Katsuya was my favorite.   We also had breakfast at Cafe Madeleine, Avocado toast + their cappuccinos were amazing.  Again, no complaints on any food which is rare because my husband owns an Italian restaurant and is always the biggest critic!
    (Suit Minnow- Mine: Montce)
    IMG_8020
    (Get the exotic fruit plate)
  • Service: Last but not least, the service at Baha Mar was 5 star!!  I don’t think one single employee ever looked mad, or answered my question with any hesitation.    Anything I asked for, they delivered happily.  I felt like we were their number one propriety when there were so many other guests there too.
    (two piece: Tiare Hawaii)

All & All, If you can’t tell from my review, this was an absolute new favorite resort of mine I am so glad we found.  I plan to take many future family trips here.  Thank you to the team at Baha Mar Resorts for being so amazing!

(Dress Ivy City Co, Discount: Becca10)

north carolina,travel

Travel Guide: Blowing Rock NC, Chetola Resort & Spa

I have been visiting Blowing Rock, NC since I was little so this post might be all over the place!  My parents have owned a Condo at Chetola Resort for 20+years, so its safe to say we have been to the area a lot.  Most of my travel guides on here have been to places I’ve had to research nonstop beforehand and we hit up every single hot spot during a short period.  Growing up visiting Blowing Rock, I find myself going to the same usual places we love and not exploring the city like we do other places.  But isn’t that usually the case in your own home-town?
I’ll tell you all our favorite spots below we hit up when in town, but you probably will find more on google too that I dont know about!

Accommodations:  Chetola Resort
Like I mentioned above, this is where we typically stay when in town because my family owns one of the condos.  The entire property is decorated & lights up during the holidays, so we are always there after Thanksgiving.  They also have big events in the summer for 4th of July, and Parades for both seasons.  The grounds are beautiful- So many people get married on the lawn overlooking the pond.
3 Types of Accommodations to choose from on property:
1. The Chetola Lodge- Which is just like your standard hotel rooms
2. The Bob Timberlake Inn- a Bed & Breakfast with 8 rooms that connects to the Lodge, above the main restaurant.
3. Condominiums- Which is where we stay- great for families!  They range from 1- 4 bedrooms!

Amenities on site:

  • Indoor Pool & Jacuzzi- My kids live here, so great during the winter months.
  • Spa on Site
  • Dining on Site
  • Play Ground & Kid Recreation Center
  • Outdoor Recreation:
    Sunbathing Deck
    Maintained Hiking Trails and Guided Hikes
    Horseshoe Pit
    Tennis & Pickle Ball
    Fishing Clinics
    Fully Stocked Lake
    Fishing Rods
    Paddle Boats/Kayaks/Paddle Boards
    Playground
    12-Hole Disc Golf

Things to do Around the area:

  • Explore Downtown Blowing Rock: go to the shops, park, tennis courts and basketball courts less than a mile from Chetola.
  • Visit The Blowing Rock– This is one of my favorite scenic spots that’s very close by.
  • Visit Tweetsie Railroad– If your visiting BR more than twice and have kids, get the season pass.  Its the same amount if you were to go twice, and you can go year round.  They just started doing Tweetsie Christmas, so its pretty much open on weekends year round now too!
  • GrandFather Mountain– Its about a 30 minute drive, cross the high bridge and hike the trails to see all the animals onsite at the zoo.
  • Skiing/Snowboarding: For beginners, or a short drive- just go to Appalachian Mountain.  For more advanced go to Beech or Sugar.  My personal favorite is Sugar for snowboarding.
  • Hike a Waterfall: We’ve done Laurel Creek Falls, but follow the directions online to a tee.  There are no signs.
  • Visit Rough Ridge for amazing views/pictures:  We did our family pictures here last year, you will see them below- its a hike up and then you can stand on the rocks overlooking the mountains.  Peak time is in October/November when its fall foliage!
  • Spa– for another beautiful spa off property, check out Westglow resort & Spa.  Breathtaking!
    (This is the path to Rough Ridge where these photos were taken)

Dining:

  • Bistro Roco– we make sure to always get a reservation here in advance during holidays!  Favorite date night spot.  It feels like you are in a cave/mountain kind of and I love there MacnCheese!
  • Mellow Mushroom– I know a chain, but its right in Downtown Blowing Rock and I crave their “esperanza” dipping pizza sauce.
  • Twigs– Go here for lunch on a nice day and sit outside, grab a draft beer.
  • Kilwins– Another chain, but go here for Ice cream & Lemonade when walking around Downtown 🙂
    (Our dresses are from Ivy City Co)

    (these photos were taken on the grounds of chetola)

*I love our tradition of getting family photos done during the holidays every year there! All photos were taken by the lovely- Sydney Gail, if you’re local to Blowing Rock area, and are looking for a photographer that knows the area well + takes amazing photos, book her here!

travel

Exuma, Bahamas Travel Guide with Grand Isle Resort

The beginning of our trip to Exuma, Bahamas was rough to say the least.  We have traveled there before (you can read that blog post here) and we were dying to go back.  From the East Coast, it typically is about a 5 hour travel day, a short two hour flight from Florida airport connections!  Our plan was to take our daughter Lainey on a girls trip to meet my sister in Nassau, but my husband didn’t want to miss out and decided to join!  By that point I had already arranged my son Roman to stay with my parents, but I regretted not bringing him the entire time.  So if you have toddlers, this place is perfect for them!
Pro Tip: Do not connect in ATL, or any big airport for that matter, with less than an hour layover.
Expert tip: Wait a couple days after the weekend of thanksgiving to travel.  The busiest travel day of the year is the Sunday after thanksgiving, we traveled on the Monday following and still saw the run over from the holiday by having our first flight delayed to Atlanta. Which then caused us to miss the one flight a day to Exuma from that airport (cue tears).  We also were traveling with my four year old daughter, thankfully I didn’t have our son who is two that day during the chaos.  We were able to get a flight over to Nassau a few hours later, then grab a connection from Nassau to Exuma.  This is where it was hectic, that plane in Nassau had a 6 hour delay!  :: This was Bahamas Air, who I don’t recommend flying in the future.  Everyone we talked to said they were notorious for long delays.  We finally landed in Exuma at midnight (left that morning at 5am).  We were all beyond exhausted.  This is where the vacation took an amazing turning point :).
Read below on everything you need to know.

Where to Stay: Grand Isle Resort & Spa
(I have a section on my instagram on my highlights where you can view all the videos of our stay and entire trip here)


(Views from the entrance/path to villas)

  • Accommodations: The entire resort includes Luxury Villas.  They range from one to four bedrooms with multiple level floors.  As soon as we arrived we were taken straight to our villa because it was midnight and the gate had our key ready.  The second we walked in I was blown away.  We had a two-bedroom, two level villa, with three total bathrooms.  Traveling with kids and staying in hotels a lot can be rough, but when you stay in a Villa you have all the accommodations like home you need (full kitchen/Washer/dryer).  This place was a slice of heaven.
  • Service:   They have a full time team available at all times to help you with anything.  I knew the service was going to be 5 star when I was in touch with their marketing team prior to arriving.  Patricia Santos (GR Social Media Manager) connected me with Lori Beal, a travel specialist with Stenner Travel who made sure we even had food waiting for us after all our plane chaos.  They both checked in on me non-stop from our delays at the airport, to us getting back home safely!  You can never go wrong having a travel agent when traveling.  They had their regular driver, Kevin, also waiting for us in an Escalade in the middle of the night.  They made us feel like we were the only guests on the island & took so much stress off my shoulders as soon as we got there.  I’ve never felt more special!

    (Breakfast/lunch & dinner at their onsite restaurant by pool)
  • Location: Grand Isle Resort & Spa is located on a beautiful strip of Emerald Bay on Great Exuma.  They have their own private beach steps down from the pool.  It was a quick 10 minutes from the airport, and still felt secluded yet close to other areas of the island if you wanted to scoot around.

    (Outdoor cabana bar by the beach)
  • Amenities: Okay, we have never stayed anywhere in the Caribbean that provided you your own golf-cart with your stay!  That was my favorite thing about this place.  You can take the golf-cart along the golf-course on the beach for a beautiful scenic ride or around the entire property at your own leisure.  Their Restaurant on site was overlooking the pool, which overlooked the beach!  The beach had kayaks, scuba gear, and sandcastle buckets for your own use too.  Yeirdon & Lainey took the kayak out one day & they provided the life jackets.

    Here is a glance at all the amenities on property:
  • The Palapa Grill ( we ate here for all our meals, sooooo good!)
  • SeaStar Spa
  • Fitness Center
  • Poolside and beachfront food and drink service
  • Free-form infinity-edge pool and an expansive sundeck patio
  • Complimentary supervised children’s activities
  • Access to the Emerald Bay Golf Course, a Greg Norman-designed course
  • Concierge
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Pack n’ plays and high chairs (subject to availability)
  • Nanny service (fee)
  • Private chef (fee)

What to do on the island, Excursions:

  • Exuma Water Sports:  We did the half-day Swimming with Pigs Tour.  We were picked up by 8:30am and brought back to our resort by 1pm.  If you had kids that still nap, I recommend this tour because the boat ride to all the action is not long.  This company was very smooth to book & work with.  They also had the nicest tour boat we have been on, with bench cushioned seats and fully covered underneath.  If you don’t have kids and want to experience everything on one boat trip, I would do the full day tour with them (We did the full tour last year, blog post here on that).

  • Rent a boat from Minns Watersports, and explore the island yourself if you know how to drive a boat.
    You can take it to Chat & Chill for lunch, see stingrays, and go scuba diving at your own pace!

  • Head to Tropic Of Cancer Beach.  We heard it was amazing, but didn’t have time to check it out.
    Spend an entire day there, grab some local lunch, and enjoy the beauty.
    Its the longest beach on the island.

    *We really enjoyed our stay at Grand Isle Resort & Spa, I wish we would of had more time to relax there.  Next time we will stay more than two nights :).  Book your stay with them here & prepare to enter into total relaxation!
    *Traveling Packing list
    : You can shop all our outfits and luggage on shop my Instagram page tab above or click here!