Barbados – only the best the Caribbean has to offer

I just returned from Barbados as part of the first ever Millennial Travel Forum. What an amazing trip! (important disclosures)

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While this was my second visit to the island, I was reminded of how amazing Barbados really is. It feels as if someone took all the best features from each Caribbean island, and put them all together into the same place to create Barbados! It truly offers something for everyone. A rich history, a vibrant culture, fresh local cuisine, a range of accommodations, adrenaline filled activities and stunning beaches all make this the perfect destination for your next tropical adventure.

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Belmond Maroma review

I just want to move here!

During my September visit for ILTM Americas I was able to do an early morning site inspection at Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa (important disclosures). WOW!

This resort is very boutique, with only 63 rooms!Wandering along the grounds I felt like the only person there. It is very peaceful!

It feels very private and is the ultimate rejuvenation resort! The spa is out of this world. The treatment rooms are huge, all ointments and lotions are organic and most are made on site.

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potions, lotions and honey are made on site, based on traditional Mexican techniques and all with organic ingredients. Classes on site include potion making and honey making…

The beach is absolutely beautiful and the perfect place to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner! The staff is amazing and super friendly.

A great couples retreat or fun for the whole family! I can’t wait to go back and actually spend a few days enjoying the resort!

 

Daniela Harrison is a travel consultant for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff AZ. For more information or to start planning your next adventure, please reach out via daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com or call 928.556.0853 Ext 201

** The FCC wants me to tell you all the following: Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **

Andaz Mayakoba Review

The Andaz is located in Mayakoba. Mayakoba is a very interesting area, it’s set up like a gated community, housing a total of 4 luxury resorts with a shared golf course. They also share a small shopping square within the community for guest to enjoy. The four resorts sharing the golf course and stretch of beach are: Fairmont Mayakoba, Rosewood Mayakoba, BanyanTree Mayakoba and Andaz Mayakoba. Please click the resort names for more details.

During my September visit in conjunction with ILTM Americas, I was able to do a site inspection at Andaz Mayakoba (important disclosures). I toured a 2-Story Beachfront Family Duplex Suite. The suites are nicely appointed, modern in design with traditional Mexican touches. I loved the natural materials and funky designs, especially the various lights in the rooms. Views from here are spectacular and in this category, you even get a bit of a private beach area, that allows you to walk out and get directly into the ocean.

 

Daniela Harrison is a travel consultant for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff AZ. For more information or to start planning your next adventure, please reach out via daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com or call 928.556.0853 Ext 201

** The FCC wants me to tell you all the following: Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **

BanyanTree Mayakoba Review

In September I attended ILTM Americas and was fortunate enough to do a site inspection at the stunning BanyanTree Mayakoba (important disclosures)!

This resort is all about privacy and getting pampered! The resort is made up of 123 private villas, from as 1-3 bedrooms in size, each with their own private pool. You enter through your personal privacy gate and walk into your own oasis of happiness!

Of course a villa vacation is nothing without the proper spa treatments. After all, you’re here to relax! The spa facilities are divided into stand alone casitas, some in the gardens, some over the water, and offer private treatments for individuals or for couples. Each treatment starts with a foot soak, followed by some hydrotherapy and then your massage.

Mayakoba is a very interesting area, it’s set up like a gated community, housing a total of 4 luxury resorts with a shared golf course. They also share a small shopping square within the community for guest to enjoy. The four resorts sharing the golf course and stretch of beach are: Fairmont Mayakoba, Rosewood Mayakoba, BanyanTree Mayakoba and Andaz Mayakoba. Please click the resort names for more details.

 

 

Daniela Harrison is a travel consultant for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff AZ. For more information or to start planning your next adventure, please reach out via daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com or call 928.556.0853 Ext 201

** The FCC wants me to tell you all the following: Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **

Fairmont Mayakoba review

In September I stayed a Fairmont Mayakoba as an attendee for ILTM (important disclosures).

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Beach at the Fairmont Mayakoba

Mayakoba is a very interesting area, it’s set up like a cated community, housing a total of 4 luxury resorts with a shared golf course. They also share a small shopping square within the community for guest to enjoy. The four resorts sharing the golf course and stretch of beach are: Fairmont Mayakoba, Rosewood Mayakoba, BanyanTree Mayakoba and Andaz Mayakoba. Please click the resort names for more details.

First off, check out that beach! This si the beach access from the Fairmont. It’s absolutely beautiful with the softest sand between your toes, and no seaweed!!!

I was treated to a Casita Suite and have to say – WOW! The suite is beautifully laid out, with a big open floor plan and the bathroom is to die for! A big tub, HUGE shower with multiple shower heads and a nice balcony to relax on.

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Restaurants on site were excellent and the pool and beach area are beautiful!

I did a walk through of the spa facilities, which looks great – but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to test them in person 😉

The staff is friendly, helpful and very welcoming. The resort is quite large and spread out and ample golf carts drive around all hours to get you from point A to B with ease. A great resort all around!

I’d love to answer any questions you might have about the resort.

 

Daniela Harrison is a travel consultant for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff AZ. For more information or to start planning your next adventure, please reach out via daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com or call 928.556.0853 Ext 201

** The FCC wants me to tell you all the following: Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **

A South Pacific Paradise, with Paul Gauguin Cruises

As a travel professional, every now and again I have the opportunity to escort a small group of travelers to a fun destination around the world. It just so happened, that I was able to escort clients on an amazing Tahitian Adventure with Paul Gauguin Cruises these past two weeks (please see important disclosures)!

Let’s start with the ship:

The ship is beautifully appointed, with just 332 passengers spread out over 8 decks.

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The MS Paul Gauguin

There is ample public space, I never felt crowded. There is a nice outdoor salt water pool, a piano bar and a lounge, a big theater, gift shop, spa and a water sports marina.

The cabins are very nicely laid out. I would highly recommend to book into a balcony or veranda cabin (the veranda cabins on deck 8 come with butler service and offer the most privacy). We were located on deck 8, category B in cabin #806.

The marina is located on deck 4, aft of the ship and opens in various ports of call when able to. Paddle board and kayaks are available during those times free of charge.

The dive center on board is doing a fabulous job with keeping the dives in small groups and instructors are skilled and make divers feel at ease. We were fortunate enough to dive with a huge hawks-bill turtle, some black tip reef sharks and tons of colorful fish.

There are 3 restaurants on board: The Grill, La Veranda and L’Etoile

The Grill and La Veranda are buffet options for breakfast and lunch but turn into fine dining venues for dinner (reservations are recommended). L’Etoile is the main dining room, open for dinner only. While the Grill will offer Polynesian Inspired Cuisine, La Veranda offers a traditional French Menu. L’Etoile offers a mix as well as standard options. The line is doing an amazing job at facilitating passengers with food allergies and dietary restrictions. The head waiter met us for each meal to go over the dinner menu’s and make sure to review items with the chef. We had the most amazing meals on board! Also room service is available all day long free of charge! Make sure to order breakfast in bed during a sea day!

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Entertainment on board is very diverse:

The line employs Gauguins and Gauguaines to teach traditional arts and crafts classes, talk about their local culture, pareo tying, ukulele classes and much more. We had various lectures on board about some of the local islands history, the story of Captain Bligh and enjoyed port talks and even pearl classes. The evening shows were well done and ranged from Polynesian Dance performances, to crew shows to musicians and dance parties. On Polynesian Night locals came on board to make us flower crowns and leis.

We lucked out on the weather and had 10 out of 11 days of blue skies and sunshine! The ship is truly like a floating over the water bungalow, taking you from island to island. It was amazing!

Now for the itinerary:

We cruised the Society and Cook Islands: Tahiti -> Huanine -> Day at Sea -> Aitutaki -> Rarotonga -> Day at Sea -> Bora Bora for 2 days -> Taha’a -> Moorea for 2 days -> Tahiti overnight. All ports, except Tahiti, are tender ports. The private beach in Bora Bora was the only wet landing on this trip.

At the end of the cruise, we spend the day at the Pearl Beach Resort with an included day room. We loved the unique black sand beach here and were happy to enjoy a nice leisurely afternoon.

The Society Islands are very lush, with thick forests covering the heart of the islands and mountains. Most of the islands only have one road, lending itself to easy exploration. While there is not a lot of wildlife on land, the waterways are full of colorful fish, rays, turtles, eels and small sharks. A snorkelers and divers paradise! Most snorkel adventures have to be done by boat, as the reefs are too shallow to explore from the beaches. In most places you can walk out into the ocean for 20-30 minutes and never get below knee-deep water.

The Cook Islands are part of New Zealand and are very remote from everything. The islands are not quite as lush but the beaches and water-quality are jaw-droppingly beautiful. The photos really don’t do it justice…

Tour options on all islands varied widely, but included ATV/4X4 Tours, Snorkeling, Pearl Farms, Vanilla Plantations, Drift Snorkeling, Diving, E-Bike Tours, Wave runners, Helicopter/Light Plane Tours and much more… Paul Gauguin also has access to a private beach on Bora Bora (wet landing via tender) as well as a private island in Taha’a.

The private island was amazing! We enjoyed a Polynesian BBQ, huge coconut drinks, lots of snorkeling, a swim up bar, paddle boarding, kayaking and had the most amazing day exploring the small island.

If you are interested in doing some shopping on this trip, here are a few tips:

1. No need to exchange money into local currency. US Dollars are accepted on all islands and are calculated 1:1 for hassle free shopping

2. Buy your vanilla in Taha’a! You must be booked on an island tour to get to the main island and do your shopping. The ships tender only runs to the private island, but vendors are on site to satisfy your shopping needs

3. For pearls, make sure they are certified! Pearls are qualified in categories A-D, with A being the best. Even street vendors can certify their pearls, but you have to ask. Most vendors (even jewelry stores) are willing to barter with you. Make a reasonable offer and most of them will be very wiling to accept it. For cheap pearls ($5-$30 range for gifts) buy them in Bora Bora. They look nice and come in many styles, but they are generally quality C and D. For nice pearls, category B and A, I would recommend to purchase them in Moorea. From what I saw, this is where we got the best prices on quality pearls.

4. You cannot bring fruits or flowers back to the US.

5. Pareos should cost you about $10 each, not more, and are a lovely gift to bring back home.

6. Pack plenty of sunscreen – a tube on board and in port costs about $35! And don’t forget your bug spray!   😉

If you are feeling inspired, don’t be shy. I’d love to answer any questions you may have about the cruise line or the destinations!

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Daniela Harrison is a travel consultant for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff AZ. For more information or to start planning your next adventure, please reach out via daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com or call 928.556.0853 Ext 201

** The FCC wants me to tell you all the following: Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **

 

Cruising the Rhone on Uniworld Boutique River Cruises – A big adventure in a small package!

As you all read in my last post, we LOVED our stay in the City of Lights!
From Paris we took a 2 hour train ride south to Avignon, where we embarked on our Southern Provence adventure; a 7-day river cruise on Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, to work our way north back to Lyon. We were invited by the cruise line to cruise on board the S.S. Catherine – a true floating boutique hotel! (see important disclosures)

It was absolutely perfect! The decor fit the destination perfectly! We loved all the artwork on board, especially in the dining room and lounges. There are self serve washers and dryers on board to use free of charge! Simply walk to the front desk and they provide laundry soap pods. Coffee machines are found on every deck and are ready to serve you the caffeine of choice 24/7, and there are 2 candy stations in the main lounge that are being refilled daily. There is an indoor pool (open on average from 8AM-10PM), lots of sun chairs on the top deck, as well as a spa for massages or facials.

I know you are all curious to know about the Cabins on board. Everything is well appointed, spacious, with good storage options. There is an empty spot under the bed to store your suitcases, a big closet with hangers, drawers and shelves, a personal safe, storage drawers in the bathroom and 2 night stands. In the closet you’ll find 2 bathrobes and 2 sets of super soft slippers, along with 2 big umbrellas.
The cabin is build with a french balcony (window opens up to reconfigure into a balcony – but you don’t step out), the bathroom features a single vanity, walk in shower, heated floors and heated towel racks. The bed was heavenly and we had a hard time making it for breakfast. It was just too comfortable!  😉

Speaking of breakfast, the food was amazing! No joke, I gained 7lbs on this trip – and I would do it again and again and again! Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style – though there is a menu you can order off. We just didn’t feel the need to do so. The options were fabulous.

Breakfast is served from 7AM-9AM and options ranged from pastries and cold cuts, to hot items like bacon, eggs, sausage, potatoes, a live cooking station for Omelettes, to fruit and yogurts.

Lunch is served from 12PM-2PM and options included a salad bar, fish, meats, soups, sandwiches, burgers, pasta dishes, a live cooking station like Paella, various vegetables and of course a huge desert station including pastries, fruit, cakes, ice cream and more…

Dinner is served a la carte, with white glove table service – a really nice touch. The menu always showed the Chef’s Recommendation (a very french option like frog legs, escargo, etc) as well as a more American Cuisine Option (like steak, pork chops), which could be mixed and matched as preferred. Being all-inclusive we loved to double up on appetizers and mix and match entrees…

IMG_6438For one special dinner, we signed up for Al Fresco Dining, which was being served in the Leopard Lounge. It was a very different menu in a more intimate setting. We quite enjoyed the change of pace and views from the aft deck.

While cruising one afternoon, the Chef and Sous-Chef put on a cooking demonstration, which was great fun! It was held in the main lounge and the audience got to participate and of course taste the fruits of their labor! They even prepared an alternate Crepe options for me using caramel, since they were aware of my food allergies…

For travelers with dietary restrictions and food allergies (like myself): The Chef did an amazing job for me. I am gluten, corn, dairy free with citrus allergies – is that TMI?
The Maitre’D greeted me for each meal and reviewed all options with me, making sure I knew what was ok to eat and what wasn’t. He also notified the bar staff to ensure my cocktails would be safe to consume (like no lime in my vodka cranberry).

Of course we had to work off all that food somehow! LOL
Uniworld offer some really fun and exciting excursions. We had some great options between the more universal walking tours, to kayaking, mountain biking, actual hiking and of course they always have the Uniworld bicycles available. Our absolute favorite excursion was the kayaking during our stop in Avignon! What a cool experience. It was an absolutely stunning setting, well introduced, with a bit of adventure and and we were sore for days… 😉

We took the bicycles out multiple times every day. The crew would outfit us with helmets and bike locks. We loved exploring the ports on our own by bike and then we would walk back to the areas that seemed of interest and we wanted to explore more in depth.

I think I already painted a nice picture about the service on board. I just cannot say enough good things about the crew. All of them, from the mechanics to housekeeping, to the chefs, servers, tour manager and night watchman were fabulous! We would usually be the last people to stumble back on board around 3AM, and the night watchman would always greet us with the biggest smile, 2 cold brews and 2 bottles of chilled water – he really got to know us… The crew really takes customer service to a higher level and made this one of the best trip we’ve had in Europe. Thank you Uniworld Boutique River Cruises for an amazing week on board!

Daniela Harrison is a travel consultant for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff AZ. For more information or to start planning your next adventure, please reach out via daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com or call 928.556.0853 Ext 201

** Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **

Paris – The city of lights

If you ever considered going to France, stop thinking about it and go!
The french are some of the friendliest, most helpful, life loving people I’ve met anywhere in Europe. People stopped what they were doing to help us find our way, googled information up, pulled in a survey group of friends to see if any of them knew what we were looking for and made every effort to communicate with us! We were blown away with their friendliness and the sea of never ending smiles. Continue reading

A different side of Las Vegas

I am in Vegas a lot. Most of my travel conferences are held there, my bestie lives there and it’s a quick drive to get into a big booming city for a night out.

But there is more to Vegas than just gambling and partying! (click here for important disclosures)

Back in march I spend a day at the Las Vegas Speedway watching NASCAR, which was amazing! There are fantastic ice hockey games, basketball, rugby… a plethora of shows and theater performances, of course great food and lets not forget the shopping!

It’s also worth it to get a car for a day or two and do some hiking. The Valley of Fire is beautiful and you can find some great art hidden in the desert… and you can cool off at your hotel pool in the afternoon!

There are also lots of museums to explore as well as some more daring activities like bungee jumping.

So get out there and discover all the city has to offer!

#vegastravelpros #exploremore #getoutthere

Daniela has been a Travel Consultant since June 2010. She works for Avenues of the World Travel, Flagstaff AZ 86004. For more information please contact Daniela at 800.230.3322 or Daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com. For travel inspiration please visit: http://www.avenuesoftheworld.com

 

** Please note that all photos are authors own, except where credited. As travel industry professional, I make a big investment in first hand experiences. I spend a lot of time to keep up with accreditation and stay up to date on current developments in the travel industry. This means attending conferences, seminars, site inspections fam trip and group trips. I have been able to have some of the experiences shown and described at a reduced cost or combed by the hotel, tour operator, cruise line or supplier. The feedback supplied is based on my personal experience, and based on my personal preferences, likes and dislikes. This first hand experience allows me to better serve you and match the experiences you are looking for. It also allows me to create travel tips for you, based on experiences I have and things I wish I knew before. Travel Supplier partners referenced in blog posts are part of Signature Travel Networks Preferred Portfolio or can be booked via a preferred supplier partner (at least at time of post creation). **