Residence Inn Daytona Beach Shores

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I searched long and hard for a place to stay for a few days before our Disney cruise. We were planning on spending 2 full days, 3 nights in Florida before the cruise and decided against Disney or Universal. Our kids had not been to the ocean since they were little when we went to Cape Cod so we decided on a few days at the ocean. In the end, I settled on the Residence Inn Daytona Beach Shores. This could not have been a better choice.

We had a little trouble arriving due to storms and came in a day later than planned losing a full day, but it wasn’t a great weather day so we didn’t miss too much. When we finally arrived, a full 24 later everything was ready for us and we even managed a meal and a little walk on the beach in the dark. The hotel had a restaurant and a bar and the bar opened to the pool outside for drinks during the day. The pool and hot tub overlooked the ocean.

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Sunday was now our only full day to spend there and we rented chairs and an umbrella right from a truck set up on the beach nearby and enjoyed a day at the ocean. The weather was great. We also had a little friendly competition at Pirates Cove Mini Golf. Always fun, even with teenagers.

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The hotel suited us nicely. Free breakfast buffet and a few restaurants right across the street. We had a 2 bedroom suite with a full kitchen which we didn’t really need, I wasn’t planning on cooking, but we did get takeout for dinner and the table came in handy. The nicest part was before being crammed into a tiny stateroom on a cruise for 4 days, we had space to spread out and the kids had their own room with 2 queen beds and we had a room with a king bed. Each with their own bathroom. From the balcony, we could see both the ocean and the bay and were looking towards Daytona Beach.

It took a little less than an hour to drive from Daytona Beach Shores to Port Canaveral Monday morning. It was a very easy drive, no traffic at all.

We arrived exactly at our port arrival time and followed the procedure, Disney is very efficient when it comes to organizing crowds. We were walking onto the ship within 45 minutes of arriving, including parking, security, checking in, etc…as soon as we checked in they called our boarding group.

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10 Not to Miss Disneyland Experience for this Summer

The Disneyland Resort is filled with plenty of fun this summer. If you are headed to Disney California Adventure Park, here are 10 not-to-miss experiences!

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1. Soarin’ Over California – Due to guest popularity, the epic, aerial adventure Soarin’ Over California has been extended through August 31! This virtual, immersive experience celebrates the beauty and wonder of the Golden State – from San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the crashing waves in Malibu.

2. “Tale of The Lion King” – The beloved characters and music of Disney’s “The Lion King” comes to life with an imaginative new adaptation. This outdoor musical production features a cast of 18 performers who weave this timeless tale through language, song and dance. The festive celebration of “Tale of The Lion King” will be presented for a limited time.

3. Fancy Nancy – Nancy Clancy, the high-spirited young girl from Disney Junior’s hit animated series “Fancy Nancy,” made “une grande entrée” this spring. Meet Fancy Nancy just outside the “Disney Junior Dance Party!” in Hollywood Land.

4. Pixar Pier – Celebrating its one-year anniversary at the end of June, Pixar Pier is a whimsical land where Pixar stories and characters are brought to life in incredible, playful ways. A few newly added experiences include:

  • Jessie’s Critter Carousel, the giant toy carousel starring Jessie, the yodeling cowgirl and a friendly bunch of desert critters inspired by the “Toy Story” films. Hop on and yell “giddyup!” from the saddle of a whimsical snake, armadillo, turtle, bunny or other critters from the world of Woody’s Roundup.
  • Bo Peep, from Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” can be found making special appearances along Pixar Pier. Also, Forky, the adorable disposable spork from the new film, can be spotted near the entrance of the pier.
  • Opening later this month, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind is a newly reimagined attraction inspired by the film “Inside Out.” Step into the workplace of Riley’s Emotions – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger – and board one of eight Memory Movers for a sense-ational spin.

5. Cars Land – For some free-wheeling fun with Disney and Pixar’s “Cars” crew, head to Radiator Springs, also known as “the cutest little town in Carburetor County.” Be sure to make a pit stop at Radiator Springs Racers, the high-octane adventure that revs through the beautiful mountains of Ornament Valley.

6. “Mickey’s PhilharMagic” – The spectacular magic of Disney animation comes to life in this 3D movie musical. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other favorite Disney characters now take the stage in this 3D fantasy adventure in the Sunset Showcase Theater in Hollywood Land.

7. Animation Academy – A guest favorite, Animation Academy hosts drawing classes every 30 minutes. Receive step-by-step instruction on how to illustrate some favorite Disney characters under the guidance of a Disney artist. All ages and experience levels are welcome!

8. Super Heroes – In Hollywood Land, encounter some of the most admired Super Heroes in the universe, including Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Captain America and Black Panther. Suit up and head to Hollywood Land. Afterwards, hop aboard Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!and help rescue Rocket’s fellow Guardians all while jamming out to Star-Lord’s classic mixtapes.

9. “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” – Stay cool indoors and enjoy a theatrical adaptation based on Disney’s animated blockbuster film, “Frozen.” Performed daily at the Hyperion Theater, the impressive stage show immerses Guests in the beloved world of Anna and Elsa, with all of the excitement of live theater. The elaborate costumes and sets, stunning special effects, and show-stopping production numbers are not to be missed.

10. “World of Color” – This breathtaking nighttime extravaganza tells Disney and Pixar stories vividly projected on a screen created by more than 1,200 fountains spraying 19,000 square feet of water. Watch in wonder as water, fire, light and music weave together to celebrate the magic of Disney storytelling.

What are you waiting for, let’s plan a quick trip this summer, message me today!

Palo Dinner Disney Dream

As is typical on most cruise lines today, Disney offers choices beyond their Main Dining rooms. Already not typical with rotational dining and 3 main dining rooms, Disney offers Palo and Remy. Palo is Northern Italian cuisine on all 4 Disney ships. Remy is French cuisine on the Dream and Fantasy only. Both are adult-exclusive.

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Upcharges and dress codes apply to both restaurants, but Palo is a little less restrictive than Remy. For Palo dinner, the charge was $40 per person.

Dress to Impress

To preserve the elegant ambiance of this restaurant, you are asked to adhere to a dress code when dining at Palo. We recommend dress pants or slacks and a collared shirt for men, and a dress, skirt or pants and a blouse for women. Jeans may also be worn if in good condition (no holes). Please no tank tops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, shorts, hats, cut-offs, torn clothing, t-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics, flip-flops or tennis shoes.

On our recent cruise, we had dinner at Palo on pirate night, which was the 3rd night of our 4 night cruise and our Castaway Cay day. We weren’t terribly interested in pirate festivities, our children are teenagers and we would be done in plenty of time to see the fireworks. On the Dream Palo and Remy are next to each other on the top deck in the front of the ship with the Meridian Bar in between. When you arrive you are escorted into the bar to wait for your escort into the restaurant.  We had a drink here and then were escorted to our table. All tables have a wonderful view of the ocean.

The service is nothing short of outstanding! We ordered wine, and then Mircea our server brought the bread service and then the antipasto cart and we watched as our server prepared a plate of “a little bit of everything” to try.

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We ordered several Primi to try and share, Calamari Fritti, Gnocchi and the Wild Mushroom Risotto. So so good. Even the gnocchi, which are usually not great in restaurants when you are used to my father’s homemade version, was wonderful.

Next, was a palette cleanser…

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Then the main course, Rack of Lamb for me and Osso Buco for my husband. Cooked to perfection.

The dessert course was next. When you order your main course they will ask you if you will be ordering the chocolate souffle, their signature dessert because it does take some time to make. I knew about this in advance and was definitely getting it. There are no words, it was heavenly.

And there was other stuff, including a Happy Anniversary plate.

The dinner was well paced and lasted about 2 hours, but didn’t feel long at all. The restaurant was quiet, there were several tables around us, but it wasn’t full by any means.

Palo is well worth the upcharge and can be prebooked in your cruise account when your activities window opens.

Have you eaten there? I would go back in a heartbeat and next time will try the brunch too, I hear it’s phenomenal.

Teen Haven All Aboard Disney Cruise Line

At this teens-exclusive space, chill out, listen to music, watch TV, play group games and more…

While the Vibe experience aboard each ship differs, the idea behind them is the same: Vibe provides Guests ages 14 to 17 with their own special place where they can break off from the family and connect with other teens from around the world. Designed with their interests in mind, each lounge is laden with amenities and activities that will keep them engaged and entertained while encouraging them to mingle.

On the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy

Part nightclub, part sundeck, totally awesome!


What’s the Vibe Like?
Vibe aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy has the look and feel of a hip urban night spot, with multiple areas, a secret entrance and its own outdoor deck space. Its plush interior boasts sleek design, state-of-the-art lighting and sound, and movable modular furniture that invites teens to get situated in style. Vibe’s hangout central is its high-tech media room, where teens can watch movies or play video games on a 103ʺ LCD screen with digital surround sound. Comfortable, plentiful seating makes this gathering place your home theater away from home. In a separate stage area, talent shows, karaoke contests and dance competitions let teens own the spotlight. A dance floor and video wall set the stage for day-and-night dance parties, and aspiring DJs can even spin and mix tracks! For a more mellow experience, recline in your own built-in oval wall pod and game or watch a movie on a personal video screen.

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Catch Some Rays
Vibe’s outdoor sundeck at the ship’s bow lets teens work on their tan without ever having to leave their private club or deal with the little ones on the crowded pool deck. Deck games such as ping–pong, foosball and “old school” board games set on a giant checkerboard floor offer further amusements. As well as the plunge pools.
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During the embarkation day Open House the pool was closed.
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View of Vibe from the adult only deck area by the Satellite Falls pool

HINT HINT: The Vibe on the Dream and Fantasy is located on Deck 5, but you cannot access it via Deck 5, you can only access it by a hidden dedicated staircase on Deck 4 on the jogging track. All the way forward.

We recently cruised on the Disney Dream and were able to register both our 16 year old and 13.5 year old, since he had an older sibing, at Vibe. This way they could hangout together. It’s worth asking if you have a teen on the cusp of 14. I merely pointed at my younger son after registering the older one and said, he’s only 13 and the cast member cut me off immediately saying, no problem we make exceptions for 13 when they have a sibling and got him registered.

On the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder

Housed in the iconic red Forward Funnel of your ship, this open-plan lounge is the spot to socialize with other teens. This highest point of the ship is sure to also be the high point of your teen’s cruise!
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What’s the Vibe Like?
Vibe aboard the Disney Wonder is designed to resemble a laid-back urban loft or college dorm rec room. Mismatched furniture and eclectic bric-a-brac create a relaxed atmosphere where teen cruisers will feel instantly at home while enjoying both free-form and structured activities. Plush couches, comfy overstuffed chairs and beanbags allow them to configure the space to their liking, while a dance floor and bar area offer opportunities for mingling. On the Disney Magic, Vibe invites teens to unwind at an urban, loft-inspired haven where stylish industrial elements merge with music, gaming and all the latest trends. Amid brick, concrete and technical architectural flourishes, teens can sip on a flavorful coffee or smoothie, play the latest tunes and socialize with kids their own age during fun video and virtual-reality game sessions. At Vibe, there’s always something to do, with:

  • Multiple flat-screen TVs
  • Video games
  • Board games
  • Tablets
An LCD screen with digital surround sound lets teens gather ’round for video games or movies. And with teen dance parties, karaoke competitions and games that promote group interaction, they’ll have the chance to cut loose and show off!
Strictly for Teens
To ensure that Vibe remains a space that’s just for them, teens must present a special coded Key to the World card to access the lounge. On the first day of your cruise, visit Vibe during the Open House and register your teen. They will be given a new Key to the World Card to replace the one given to them at check-in, which will allow them entry into Vibe as well as everything else it is used for.
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While designated as a teens-only hangout, Vibe is chaperoned by some of the coolest counselors at sea, in a laid-back way that allows teens to feel as unrestricted and comfortable as they can possibly be.
Beverages and Snacks 
Vibe features a coffee bar serving a wide selection of nonalcoholic beverages, including fruit smoothies and more…

With so much to do, Vibe is bound to become your teen’s favorite on-ship destination!

Disney Cruise Line’s Return to Greece

In summer 2020, Disney Cruise Line will embark on a variety of itineraries around the world, including a long-awaited return to Greece and the addition of five first-time ports of call in Europe. Along with an expanded European season aboard the Disney Magic, adventures will continue across the fleet with sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean and Bahamas.

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European Explorations

After a five-year hiatus, the Disney Magic will return to Greece in summer 2020 as part of three special Mediterranean voyages departing from Rome. During one 12-night and two nine-night cruises, marvel at the beautiful landscapes and archeological wonders of destinations like Piraeus, the gateway to Athens; Katakolon, near ancient Olympia; and the islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete.

Each of these unique Mediterranean itineraries combines a selection of stops in Greece with visits to other notable cities in the region. Two of the sailings include a new port of call in Messina, Italy, where Guests can visit landmarks in Sicily such as Mount Etna, the highest and most active volcano in Europe, or the Piazza del Duomo, the city’s historic center. The third features a return to the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik, Croatia, for the first time in five years.

Additional new ports of call in Europe include Gdynia, Poland; Nordfjordeid, Norway; Plymouth, England; and Zeebrugge, Belgium. This new collection of destinations is part of the Disney Magic’s grand tour of Europe in the summer of 2020, which begins with sailings through the Mediterranean and Greek Isles before heading to northern Europe in late summer for cruises to the Baltic, British Isles and Norwegian fjords.

Alaskan Adventures            

In 2020, the Disney Wonder will return to Alaska for the summer season, opening up a world of breathtaking natural vistas, magnificent glaciers and awe-inspiring wildlife. These seven-night itineraries depart from Vancouver, Canada, with visits to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point and Dawes Glacier. Each sailing features fun and adventure both in port and on the ship, from stunning scenery and one-of-a-kind Port Adventures in each destination to special touches that bring the splendor and spirit of Alaska to life onboard.

Tropical Travel to the Caribbean and Bahamas

In addition to seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, near Orlando, Florida, the Disney Fantasy will embark on a variety of itineraries to the Caribbean and Bahamas throughout the summer of 2020. These include five- and nine-night Caribbean sailings, along with three-, four- and five-night Bahamian cruises, three of which feature two stops at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

 

The Disney Dream will provide even more opportunities for guests to visit Castaway Cay in the summer of 2020 with three-, four- and five-night Bahamian cruises, including a series of sailings with two calls on the private island paradise.

Each sailing aboard the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream allows you to experience the magic of Disney entertainment, which includes themed dining spaces, Broadway-style shows and more, while also immersing them in the charming island cultures of tropical destinations throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Guided Experiences with Adventures by Disney

In summer 2020, Disney Cruise Line guests can enrich their cruise vacation with a variety of add-on packages from Adventures by Disney®, a leader in family guided group vacations. Highlights include brand-new ways to experience the Caribbean, a return to Alaska and popular packages in northern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Premium Cruise Packages

With Adventures by Disney, you can book the ultimate Disney cruise experience on select sailings in Alaska, Europe and—new for 2020—the Caribbean. Throughout the voyage, knowledgeable Adventure Guides provide dedicated service both onboard and in port, as they lead guests on specially curated excursions, interactive activities and off-the-beaten-path adventures. Onboard the ship, guests enjoy unique experiences and premium amenities exclusive to Adventures by Disney, such as an intimate talkback session with Walt Disney Theatre cast members followed by a behind-the-scenes costume and prop activity.

Pre-Cruise Escapes with Adventures by Disney

Adventures by Disney also offers popular pre-cruise vacations in Rome; London; Barcelona, Spain; and Copenhagen, Denmark. These two- to three-night Escapes feature unforgettable experiences in iconic cities, such as a private, after-hours visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel in Rome. Plus, activities like flamenco dancing, mosaic making and preparing local cuisine immerse families in the culture of each region.

Whispering Canyon Café launches a new menu

Today, Whispering Canyon Café at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge launched a new menu, offering skillets galore! The fun-filled restaurant is known for its sassy cast members, Old Western games, and fine frontier fare, which now includes a whole new array of all-you-care-to-enjoy signature skillets for lunch and dinner (starting today), as well as breakfast skillets (starting March 26). And while you chow down on these signature skillets, the rowdy canyon townsfolk are there to serve them, and their boisterous goings-on aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Do the hokey pokey, ring the dinner bell, and even ask for ketchup (at your own risk, of course).

Starting with a hearty lunch option, the Signature Lunch Skillet comes with maple-chipotle BBQ slow-smoked pork ribs, barbecued pulled pork, and citrus-herb chicken.

On the dinner menu, you can try the Traditional Dinner Skillet with oak-smoked mustard BBQ beef brisket, maple-chipotle BBQ pork ribs, slow-smoked pulled pork, and citrus-herb chicken. Or pig out on The “Pig” Dinner Skillet with heaping helpings of braised pork belly, maple-chipotle BBQ pork ribs, slow-smoked pulled pork, and mustard BBQ “piggy wings.” Both of these particular skillets come with western-style sausage as well.

Sea-farers can order the Land and Sea Dinner Skillet, which comes with house-smoked salmon, citrus herb chicken, vegan sausage, and charred portabellas.

You can also feast on the Vegan Dinner Skillet – filled with maple-chipotle BBQ jackfruit, spicy vegan sausage, mustard-glazed beefless tips, and herb-brushed trick’n chick’n.

In addition, each one of these hearty all-you-care-to-enjoy skillets comes with a different assortment of sides that may include coleslaw, sautéed green beans, buttered corn, oven-roasted carrots, charred peppers, BBQ cauliflower, Yukon mashed potatoes, or roasted potatoes. Plus, chow down on freshly-baked cornbread served with delicious honey butter with every dinner skillet.

For dessert, order the Apple Pie. This mouth-watering slice of pie comes dusted with powdered sugar and is served with a big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thirsty cowpokes will also enjoy a selection of newly-themed cocktails such as the Bourbon Cowboy, which comes garnished with apple slices and pairs great with any lunch and dinner skillet. Selections of wines and draft beers are also available.

In addition, starting on March 26, you will also be able to feast on an array of breakfast skillets. Rise and shine to a delicious chuck wagon breakfast with the Heritage Skillet or the Carnivore Skillet. The Heritage Skillet comes with country potatoes, hickory-smoked bacon, and pork sausage links. For the meat-lovers, the Carnivore Skillet comes loaded with house-smoked ham, hickory-smoked bacon, pork sausage links, and oak-smoked beef brisket. Both of these skillets come with house-made buttermilk-cheddar biscuits, scrambled eggs, and Mickey Waffles.

For those looking for a lighter start to their morning, the Lighter Side Breakfast Skillet is a great option. It comes with Bircher Muesli (Swiss oatmeal), egg white spinach frittata, turkey bacon and turkey sausage, country potatoes, fresh fruit, yogurt, and of course, more Mickey waffles!

Review: Hotel Kraft

I scoured long and hard to find the perfect hotel in Florence for our family trip. There are tons of choices, but triple or quad rooms can be difficult. We had a little gem of a place on our last trip 15 years ago, but it has since closed.

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Hotel Kraft turned out to be another absolute gem! The icing on the cake was a rooftop pool, there are only a handful of hotels in Florence with a pool, let alone a rooftop one with a view of the Duomo!

Hotel Kraft was a short easy walk from Santa Maria Novella train station and we walked it with our luggage no problem. I had booked 2 triple rooms here, my parents with 1 kid and us with the other. They were right across the hall from one another so that was convenient. The rooms were nice and large with high ceilings and a good size modern bathroom.

 

The best part of this hotel though apart from great service, was the rooftop terrace/restaurant/lounge/pool. Just incredible! You can see for miles around and all the key points of Florence, the famous hills beyond the city, the Duomo and the bell tower of the Palazzo Medici. We spent evenings sipping Bellini’s and Perroni’s and enjoyed breakfast each morning al fresco. The last night we had a front row seat for the view of the sun setting on Florence. We only used the pool one day, but it was very enjoyable to have some downtime on a busy sightseeing trip like Italy is. It’s well worth it to take an afternoon to re-charge. And for our competitive swimmer son to get some laps in. We snuck out for a walk into town and shopping (had to go back and get Christmas presents for the boys they had seen earlier), but my parents and kids enjoyed the pool all afternoon. It was never too crowded

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The hotel was just off the main center of Florence, but only a 10-15 minute walk to the Ponte Vecchio or Duomo. and just 2 blocks up from the Arno River. We strolled it many times. Walking being a bit difficult for my father, they easily jumped in a cab for a short few minutes ride back and forth when they needed to. We always walked. We visited the Accademia Museum and saw the real David. Then the replicas up at Piazzale Michelangelo and out in front of Palazzo Medici. We shopped on the Ponte Vecchio.

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Around the corner from the hotel was our favorite gelateria, B.Ice. This became an afternoon treat and after dinner dessert daily. Within a block there were numerous restaurants, trattorias, etc… you simply cannot go wrong. Starving our first night we tucked into the first one we saw and it turned out to be phenomenal. The hotel recommended another place we went to the next night, also wonderful. The hotel’s restaurant itself was very good as well.

Florence is an incredible city, my favorite city in Italy! Not to be missed on a first time trip to Italy and a great base for day trips to the surrounding splendors of Tuscany.

Review: Secrets Capri

I recently spent 4 nights at the original Secrets Resort, Secrets Capri in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Secrets is part of the AMResorts family. Secrets is one of their adult-only products. This compact resort is a perfect choice for a first time all-inclusive visit or a short visit. It’s about 30 minutes from Cancun Airport and nice and small with everything within a few minutes walk. This is an all preferred club resort. Since it’s all preferred, there is no lounge.

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This was an anniversary trip with my husband and his first all-inclusive vacation and I chose it because I felt it fit our style.

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We had a jr suite ocean view and we had a partial view of the ocean to the side and were right in front of the pool.


Secrets Resorts are in the AmResorts family as well as AMStar, their tour and transfer division. They and many other companies are owned by VIP Unlimited. It’s a vacation club of sorts so they are constantly trying to get you to go to a presentation. It started at the airport while waiting for our transfer and then at check-in. We decided to go to one to check it out. They gave us $250 for going which we were able to use towards our room charges so…but I would not do it again and don’t recommend it. It’s a hard sell and wasted 3 hours of our day. They sold us on being able to see neighboring Secrets Maroma Beach, but in reality, we only saw 1 room there and the walk from the breakfast to the room. Not much of the resort. The easy way to get them to leave you alone is to simply tell them you are a travel agent. They won’t bother you again.

They love to upsell wine here. The house wine is included of course. Our second night was my husband’s birthday and Thanksgiving day so we bought 2 bottles to have a front-row table for the Thanksgiving show by the pool. We were able to keep one bottle for another night. At the Thanksgiving show, we won a raffle for a romantic dinner on the beach so we had that the next night.  The 2 bottles of wine were worth it in the end with winning the beach dinner.

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Romantic Dinner on the Beach!

The service here is incredible. The manager of the seaside restaurant, Rodrigo, we ate at the first night came to find us every day, even in the pool to check on us and make sure everything was okay and we were happy. Every staff member we encountered was wonderful, they get to know you and are always checking up.

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Blue Hawaian

We tipped well and were taken care of well. Occupancy was high, but it never felt crowded. The buffet and any other restaurants really never were full, we never waited to be seated anywhere. The food was good. The grilled shrimp on the beach was incredible. The Italian restaurant, everything was superb there. The shrimp fajita at the Seaside for lunch was really good too. Drinks were weak, which is typical at an all-inclusive. Stick to wine and beer. I never really felt the alcohol even drinking all day except when I was drinking the wine.

We didn’t participate, but they had a great entertainment team out by the pool every afternoon doing things. It was fun to watch. Thanksgiving Day they had a giant screen showing football out by the pool above a stage where they had a live rock band all afternoon. That night was a special dinner show by the pool.

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The beach is not as big as you’ll find further along in Playacar or even Cancun’s hotel zone beach. It’s not huge, but it was big enough and you could walk for quite a bit in one direction. There was almost no seaweed until the last day, this was at the end of November.

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They give you coupons when you arrive, but we didn’t even really need to use them. The spa had better deals at the counter. There was a spa concierge out by the pool to book spa treatments and also rent the Bali beds on the beach or by the pool. The beds are about $30 a day. The coupons are broken up by category so you get discounts on spa, Bali bed rental, specialty dining, excursions. You cannot use the full amount on one thing though, there is a limit on each category. The spa concierge gave us the coupon price without the coupon. The spa had better deals without the coupons.

We indulged in a couples massage, my husband’s first. He was terrified and really unsure we wanted to do it, but I insisted. He still talks about Isabelle every time he asks for a back rub. The spa started with the hydrotherapy, saunas, pools, some chlorofil water. Then onto our massage by Isabelle and Wendy. Very relaxing and enjoyable.

We enjoyed the swim up bar at the pool and the lobby bar for an after-dinner drink.

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The service, location, and compact size of this resort make it a great choice for a first time or short trip. I’m torn between wanting to try new resorts or going back here because we really loved it.

 

Review: Hotel Modigliani Rome

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This was our second time staying at Hotel Modigliani in Rome, we stayed 16 years ago and I didn’t even look at anything else when planning this trip. Modigliani is in a great location, a quiet street just off Piazza Barberini and just a few minutes walk to the top of the Spanish Steps and the Borghese Gardens with incredible views of the eternal city.

City buses and the Metro are nearby, but the whole city is walkable. We walked back from the Vatican after our tour stopping for lunch, walking through Piazza Navona and a few other spots along the way.

The Modigliani is a small boutique hotel with just over 20 rooms. Each a little different. The hotel is owned by artists and you will see the artwork displayed throughout the hotel.

We had booked a small room in the hotel and a garden apartment, literally called the apartment, for my parents and the kids. The apartment was basically 2 rooms next to each other across a small courtyard. One room with a double sized bed and the other had a double and a single.

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Courtyard with the Garden Apartment

They offer a lovely breakfast buffet each morning which can be included in your stay if you choose. The breakfast room is pictured below, set up for breakfast and how it looks for the rest of the day.

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The staff was phenomenal. Always with a smile at all hours. They were able to arrange cabs for us to get to our tour meeting points each day and recommend restaurants in the area. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this lovely little hotel and will certainly stay here again if I find myself in Rome again.

Hotel Review Hotel Ca Pisani Venice

Hotel Ca Pisani is a little gem of a hotel in a great location in the Dorsoduro region of Venice. Between the Accademia and Zattere water bus stops on the 2 main water bus lines and right next to the Accademia Museum and not far from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The hotel is only a 10-minute stroll to St. Mark’s Square, but off the beaten path in a quiet location. You simply cross the Accademia bridge and follow the signs. The way to Piazza San Marco is clearly marked and easy to follow.

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The hotel is housed in a typical 14th-century Venetian palazzo, but has been completely remodeled on the inside to a beautiful Art Deco style. The attention to detail is incredible, from the fish shaped ebony keys, the doors, and handles, the marble bathrooms to the logo on the wardrobe.

There is always someone at the front desk where you leave your key and if rain is threatening, they will offer you an umbrella. Service was also great in the restaurant and housekeeping with turndown service in the evenings.

All the rooms are equipped with direct-dial telephone, Tv, minibar, hair dryer, safe, air conditioning with climate control, and all the amenities of a modern four-star hotel including WiFi. There is an internet point in the mezzanine for guest use and guests may use a nearby fitness center although not located in the hotel. La Rivista is their restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Terrace in front of the hotel, part of La Rivista

The rooms are beautifully decorated in the Art Deco style and are all unique, nothing cookie cutter here. We stayed in a duplex room which was 2 floors with a seating area and bathroom on the main level and a loft bedroom and closet up a glass staircase. All the rooms are unique which is a fun feature of the hotel.

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Glass staircase leading up to the bedroom