Sent by Eimear Byrne
Based in Skerries
Hi I'm André, You can find me on Instagram @honeymoon.and.holiday.expert
I create dream Honeymoons so you can make memories to last a lifetime.
Are you looking for a different kind of travel service? Do you need a Travel Expert who will take all your Instagram inspiration and turn it into your Dream Trip?
This is what I do. With your input I create and book your Dream Honeymoons.
I am a travel planner; I plan and book personalised trips to suit each of my clients. I take the stress and responsibility out of planning and booking your trip, while getting you the best value for your travel spend.
So how does it work?
I work with a limited amount of clients at any one time so that I can offer this personalised service.
To find the perfect honeymoon for you, I need to get to know you, what you like to do while you travel and also what you don’t; this is often the most important question!
I offer a free 20-minute Honeymoon consultation by phone or Zoom where we get to know each other, and it may be best if your travelling companion can be on that call too. Following that initial consultation, you will decide if you are happy for us to work together.
I specialise in long haul adventures and luxury holidays, something a bit different. This includes honeymoons, bucket list adventures and family adventures. I will give you independent advice that you can trust and I will look after everything for you. This includes test requirements, QR codes, online passenger locator forms etc.
Don't forget to check out my Travel Blog, 'What exactly do I do' for more information on my expertise and experience. There are also inspiration destination blogs to inspire you.
Let me know if this is the travel service you have been looking for as I'd be delighted to help plan your next amazing adventure.
Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:
Iceland is a great family destination. Here my daughter tells you all about the Blue Lagoon
What to expect when you stay at Olhuveli Resort in the Maldives. My views and recommendations from my 2019 trip.
Navutu Dreams Resort and wellness retreat in Siem Reap. I loved it here. Check it out.
Maybe the most amazing experience of my life. Snorkelling with 100 yr old turtles.
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
01 December 2022
Lots of people know or have heard of Kuramathi Island in the Maldives and wonder if it is as good as they say, well the answer from my personal experience is yes, it is. It is a true island paradise and has a multitude to offer a couple on Honeymoon. Kuramathi is an island of two styles. Laid back Traditional Maldivian on one side of the island and Chic and Modern on the other. In fact, the island offers you the best of both worlds. It’s almost like a two-centre honeymoon while never having to move. The island is very lush with palm trees lining the island and its beaches and the interior is lush with palm trees and banyan trees, thirteen in total I believe, which is quite a lot for an island. The island is just 1.8km long and approx. 3m wide at its narrowest point. The only traffic found here are the golf carts that can take you from one end of the island to the other when you find yourself slipping into that lazy, laid-back island life. One of the most amazing and untouched sights is the famous sand bank in Kuramathi. Winding out into the ocean and literally the tip of the island this sand bank is tidal, and spectacular. Whether you are there in the morning to see a multitude of blue shades in the ocean or back in the evening for the sunsets which are just breath taking. Why not grab a bottle of cava and two glasses from the bar (additional cost) and settle in for the sunset extravaganza. It’s certainly a special place and unique to Kuramathi. If you don’t like the sand don’t fret, the chic champagne loft is the perfect place to watch the sunset. The food is excellent in Kuramathi. I would highly recommend upgrading to select all-inclusive which will give you an exceptional variety of restaurants and a fantastic choice of cuisines. Select all-inclusive gives you access to nine a la carte restaurants, seven bars and three buffet restaurants so you literally have a different restaurant to choose from each night of your stay. This is unique to Kuramathi and the Maldives. If you are a little reserved in what you like to eat, I would stick with the buffet options as you will always find something here. You still have the option to dine in an a la carte restaurant and you would receive a 20% discount. Just remember tax has to be paid too. My personal favourite was the island BBQ sitting under large palm trees with the sea breeze blowing in as we looked out over the ocean, it was just bliss. Palm restaurant was gorgeous too and Siam Garden the Thai speciality and Tandoor Mahal the Indian speciality were also calling to me ,but as it was a short trip these will have to wait until next time. There is such a wide variety of accommodation options on the island, everything from beach bungalows nestled in the palm trees to beach front villas with their own private pools or even private water villas sitting over the ocean. The wow factor is certainly here and there is an accommodation option to match every honeymoon budget. Personally, I loved the beach villa with private pool. Ocean views and beach and ocean access, win, win. Consider taking it a step further and splitting your trip by staying on each side of this beautiful island to experience it all. Stay in a beach villa on one side and move to a deluxe water villa on the other side. Not only do you have two different experiences without having to change island it can also help keep your budget in check too. If you are nervous that there is not enough to do, I found the days flew in. There is great snorkelling of the tip of the island and you would certainly explore every day. Glass bottomed kayaks can be hired and you can explore, we saw turtles and sting rays from the kayaks or hire stand-up paddle boards or maybe you’d prefer windsurfing? There are local island excursions, sunset cruise, snorkelling safaris, diving excursion, big game fishing plus a semi-submersible, all recommended. Then in the evening you can explore another restaurant and check out the live band which are resident on the island for a great night out. There is lots to do. Not forgetting the beautiful spa. With three swimming pools and endless beach front this is a tropical island paradise for sure and definitely worth considering for your honeymoon. The Maldives combines well with Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Dubai for a city break. Sri Lanka for an adventure Honeymoon and Thailand and Malaysia are possible too. Turkish airlines offer very quick connections via Istanbul but consider a stopover it’s a city busting with history, sights and sounds and a nice alternative for any honeymoon. They also offer great vegan and vegetarian food options on board including Asian vegetarian which can all be prebooked. Great for those who know the struggle. It was so valuable to experience this resort in person and having seen all the accommodation options first hand I will be able to guide you clearly. Let me help you plan and book your dream honeymoon. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or book in for your free honeymoon consultation via the link in my Instagram @honeymoon.and.holiday.expert
30 August 2021
What is it actually like to travel to Fuerteventura in Aug 2021? As I return from Fuerteventura Spain on the 30 Aug 2021, I wanted to share my experience with you so you can get a true feeling of what’s it’s like to travel at the moment. We had a fabulous time and it is most definitely worth the effort. MASKS: Firstly, I want to touch on the type of mask you wear. As another airline bans cloth face masks on their aircraft, I wondered did you know you had to have a particular surgical face mask while flying? Finnair is the latest airline to ban cloth face coverings from 16 August. All passengers must now wear a surgical mask, FFP2/3 respirator masks. Air France and Croatia Airlines already prohibit cloth masks as do Lufthansa and Swissair. At the minute Aer Lingus and Ryanair are allowing cloth face masks but my personal experience is the FFP2/3 respirator masks are actually way more comfortable for flying, particularly for my own flight to Fuerteventura which was 4 hours long. They are readily available on Amazon, so do consider them for your next trip. DOCUMENTATION: What documents do you need to travel to Fuerteventura in Spain? Adults just need a Digital Covid Certificate and to complete the Spanish Health Information Form. It’s also recommended to download the Spanish app, Radar Covid so you can be kept up-to-date on the situation locally. Children 12yrs and over need a negative antigen test to enter. Children under 12yrs do not need anything. They are exempt. Most importantly don’t forget to check the restrictions and documentation required for coming back into Ireland. Re-Open EU is the app you need to check the entry requirements for different EU Countries The restrictions can change so check continuously even when you are away. This information is based on my own departure date of the 14 Aug only. Always check and recheck the app to stay fully up-to-date with all requirements. AIRPORT TRANSFERS: Make sure you book these in advance. I would highly recommend private car transfers as taxis are at a premium now and you could be left waiting. CAR HIRE: Must absolutely be booked in advance, by at least 6-8 weeks due to the combination of limited cars to hire (many were sold by the car hire companies during the pandemic) and the increased demand. You will not get a car unless you have pre booked it. Many many people were left very disappointed and without transport to their accommodation. This is stress you just don’t need and can avoid with careful planning. AT THE POOL: Hand sanitizer is now available all around the pool area and disinfectant spray is available to clean down your own sun bed. The pool attendant sprays down the pool deck and the beds every morning. The sun beds are social distanced around the pool and should not be moved. I didn’t find any issue with this, and I think it’s great to see the measures in place for peace of mind. EATING OUT: Lots of the restaurants have a QR code so you can access all the food and cocktail menus that way. Others are using laminated menus that are wiped down. In all restaurants you are given hand sanitiser as you enter. You are also permitted to dine indoors with limited table numbers. You are not required to wear a mask while dining outdoors or indoors but you do need it if going through the restaurant to the bathroom, the same as Ireland. All the serving staff are masked just like Ireland and most of the restaurants are open, although some now have shorter working weeks or are only open for lunch. Overall, bar the mask wearing, it's very much the same as it’s always been. Friendly waiters and waitresses and lovely food and service. The restaurants are required to close at midnight. This is slightly earlier than before but the holiday spirit is still alive and well. The tourist boards website is helpful. https://www.hellocanaryislands.com/safety-measures/ DOCUMENTS FOR COMING HOME TO IRELAND: Here are the documents we required to return to Ireland on 30 Aug 21. Again, keep in mind that these requirements can change daily and must always be double checked. Adults: 1. EU Digital Covid Certificate plus 2. Irish passenger locator form (This must be done online within 72 hrs if arrival in Ireland.) Over 12 years: 1. Negative Rt-PCR test. This was done locally at a cost of €120. No appointment was needed but it does have to be done within 72 hrs of travel. My tip here is to check that the results will be back in time. 2. Irish passenger locator form. Children under 18 can be added to the adult’s locator form. Under 12 years: 1. No test required, children under 12 years are exempt 2. Irish passenger locator form. Children under 18 can be added to the adult’s locator form. NOTE: The airlines, in this case Ryanair are checking all documents at check-in. You must have all required documents to be checked-in. My advice would be screenshot them or download them and save to a new photo folder on onto a new document on your phone, so you have easy access to everything needed when you are asked. People not having all documents to hand caused delays in the airport so do allow a minimum of 2.30hrs prior to flight to clear everything. OVERALL: Overall, I felt Spain took the restrictions very seriously. Everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet which is great to see and gives you great reassurance while you are there. There is no tolerance at all for not wearing your mask either in shops, restaurants or in the airport. On three separate occasions I saw people being asked to put their mask on or leave immediately. Scarfs or bandanas are not considered to be adequate. So, invest in a surgical mask, they are not expensive. We had a fabulous time, eating out most days, going to the beach to play in the waves and relaxing by the pool. Not very hectic I know, but honestly it was so needed. We, like everyone else have all been on our own personal rollercoasters over the last 18 months and I think every one of us at this stage has earned a good rest, some relaxation, and a break to clear the mind. I hope by sharing my personal experience it will help you to feel safer when planning your next trip. If you have any questions at all, please just get in touch.
07 December 2020
When is the best time to visit Thailand to make sure I get the best weather. When should I visit Thailand? The best thing about Thailand is you can visit 11 months out of the year. Thailand gets two separate monsoon rains but as the county is so large it can’t be raining everywhere at the same time. So this gives is lots of options. ?? High season on the East Coast of Thailand is May - September. This allows you to visit the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. It’s convenient to island hop in this region and you can prebook all your transfers to and from the island to by boat. This means no stress at all while you hop from island to island on your tropical paradise adventure. ?? November - April is the best time to visit Southern Thailand. Elephant Hills for an incredible adventure or the island of Koh Phi Phi , Phuket, Koh Yao Yai, Krabi are all perfect at this time of the year ?? October is the only month to be cautious of as the monsoon is finishing in one area and starting in the other so the likelihood of rain is very high. Monsoon rains are very server so it is best avoid this month. For more inspiration have a read of my three Thailand Blog: Bangkok, Chaing Mai and Koh Samui. https://www.travelcounsellors.ie/andre.bedford/Profile-Blog/BangkokKohSamuiChiangMaiThailand Thailand's Andaman Coast. https://www.travelcounsellors.ie/andre.bedford/Profile-Blog/Thailand%e2%80%99sAndamanCoast Elephant Hills. https://www.travelcounsellors.ie/andre.bedford/Profile-Blog/ElephantHillsThailand Get in touch if Thailand is your dream trip and you’d like to work with me to plan and book your next adventure. Chat soon André
07 December 2020
When is the best time to travel to Bali? ??Best time to go to Bali Bali has the same summer season as we do here in Ireland. The months of June, July and August are their high season. It’s a great destination if you take holidays in our summer months or if you are planning your Honeymoon after a summer wedding. ??May to September are the best months to visit, temperatures are high the sun is out and there is very little rain?? This allows you to visit all areas of Bali. The beaches in the south, the volcanoes in the center of the island, Ubud being a favourite or indeed head north for a spa retreat in Tembok. The outlaying islands of Lombok and the Gili island are all perfect at this time of the year too. ??October and April are ok too, rain fall is a little higher but overall you should be ok, the advantage here is the hotel rates are much lower than in high season ( July and August). This season offers great value for money and you could stay in more upmarket hotels adding to the wow factor of your trip. Keep in mind the seas are a little rougher at this time of the year if you are planning on visiting the islands. ??November to March is the rainy season with December, January and February getting the most rain so really is is best to stay away to avoid the rains. People do still travel over Christmas particularly but the weather is unpredictable at this time of the year. Getting to the island can be also problematic at his time as the seas are rough and boats are regularly delayed or cancelled. For more inspiration have a read of my travel blog, A Balinese Adventure. https://www.travelcounsellors.ie/andre.bedford/Profile-Blog/BaliandLombokAbalineseadventure If Bali is on your wish list get in touch and we can start planning your amazing adventure.
07 December 2020
?? Do you want to do something different in South Africa ?? Weather it is your first trip to South Africa or your third you may not want to do the usually recommended itinerary's of Cape Town and the Garden Route and although these are gorgeous areas you may just do something different in South Africa. I would highly recommend the Mpumalanga region. This region in Northern South Africa has access to many wonderful sights. This area is less commercial, more authentic and it is beautiful plus if offers easy access to Kruger National Park. My Highlights would be the Blyde River canyon which is the 3rd largest Canyon in the world, with fabulous waterfalls (depending on the season of course). Gods window, is a must see, a great photo stop overlooking the length of the Canyon and offers really breathtaking views and totally istagramable photo opportunities. Bourkes potholes can also me seen. These giant potholes have been carved over centuries by pebbles swirling around in pools the water then runs on into the Blyde River itself. Pilgrims Rest is an old gold mining town that became part of the gold rush and well worth a visit, it is really interesting too. From here you can access Kruger National Park for your Safari. Some of the best safari experiences and lodges are located here. With all of these areas incorporated into your trip you will have one fabulous African adventure. For more inspiration have a read of by travel blog, Top adventures in South Africa. https://www.travelcounsellors.ie/andre.bedford/Profile-Blog/TopadventuresinSouthAfrica If you would still like to go to the beach why not hop over to the Seychelles on the way home. Everywhere is possible when you have your own Travel Counsellor. So get in touch to book your next adventure.
23 November 2020
Here are some of the best activities to include in your trip to pump up the wow factor. 1. Feed the elephants at Elephant Hills - Elephant Hills is Thailand’s 1st luxury elephant camp. It allows you a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with the endangered Asian elephant giving you an opportunity to feed the elephants. A truly memorable experience. 2. Sleep in a floating tent on Choew Larn lake – Floating Tents are the norm here, Canvas tents on floating platforms offer a truly unique experience. All rooms open onto a spectacular view of the lake with limestone mountains protruding from the water, Its like Jurassic park! 3.Cruise Halong Bay - Take a cruise of on the must-see Lan Ha Bay, a part of Halong Bay that is less commercial. This world-famous bay is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Vietnam, with its giant rock islets covered in luxuriant vegetation overlooking the waters. Halong Bay includes some 1,900 islands. 4. Visit Ubud in Bali – Ubud in the centre of the island Bali is where you will find yourself surrounded by rain-forests and paddy fields. Visit Monkey temple with its reclining gold Buddha and monkeys, take trip to see the volcano pop into the restaurant that sits overlooking the volcano with the lake below. 5. Walk the base rim of Uluru and watch the sunrise - Uluru also call Ayres Rock is an incredible place in Australia’s outback, steeped in aboriginal history and mythology walking the base at sunrise allows you an unique experience. 6. Sights and bites tour New York – Visit places of interest but also to places you would never find on your own. Grand central station with its whispering wall, Urban Space with its collection of locally run restaurants and bars. Off the beaten track coffee shops and Donut shops. It’s a great way to explore. 7. Cruise the stars homes in Miami - Take a cruise from Biscayne bay which taking you around the million-dollar homes of the rich and famous. This trip leaves you dreaming of how the other half live. 8. Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi - The Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi is a breath-taking spot and well worth a visit. It is one of the largest mosques in the world holding the world’s biggest chandelier and largest carpet, both handmade. It can hold 40,000 people at any one time. The sheer size is amazing to see. 9. River boat safari in Chobi Safari Lodge - Book a private champagne boat safari a great way to see the hippo and the Elephants crossing the river to the lush, grassed islands plus thousands of Buffalo and wildebeest feeding on the riverside it’s a fantastic way to go on safari in a different way. 10. Take a boat down the Grand Canal in Venice – Take a Vaporetto down the iconic Grand Canal, being on the water is what’s it all about in Venice and the Vaporetto’s are like our city buses. Reasonably priced and a great way to see Venice from the water without breaking the bank. 11. Familia Sagrada Barcelona – Also known as the Basílica de la Sagrada Família . Designed by Spanish architect Gaudí, it is stunning, Gaudi worked on it for over 40 years and it is still to be completed. A guide is recommended but not essential. 12. Walking tour of Victoria falls – It’s a good idea to have a guide as the force of the water cascading over the falls is phenomenal and a bit scary in sections of the walkway but this is what your have come for. We heard all the stories from our guide about David Livingston and the devils’ pools. 13. Take a single rotating cable car to Table Mountain - The Table Mountain cable car allows you take a single cable car to the top of Table Mountain. There is no need to rush for a good spot as this is one of the largest rotation cable cars in the world, so everyone gets a great view and the views over Cape Town. 14. Visit Mary Kings Close Edinburgh – Hiding under the busy streets of Edinburgh this forgotten warren of alleyways and passageways give you a look into the homes of the people from the 17th century. Take a tour of this street that was closed and hidden and then built upon to reveal its secrets. 15. Take a Speed boat to Koh Phi Phi - The islands of Phi Phi are spectacularly beautiful. The sea is crystal clear in Maya Bay, which was the location for the film “The Beach” it is a place of striking beauty. The snorkelling is super here and offers great diving too with an abundance of sea life. 16. Sail Whitsunday islands – with 74 islands sea turtles and an array of coloured fish, sailing the Whitsundays gives you a different adventure each day. Visit the world's most beautiful beach, Whitehaven beach or just enjoy the yacht you’re sailing on. Either way if a gorgeous adventure. 17. Swim 100-year-old turtles in Philippines - The Turtles in Balicasag are huge and estimated to be over 100 years old. Swimming with them and watching them eat and surface for air is unbelievable and a real privilege. It’s one of the top experiences to do for sure. 18.Take a Vespa food tour- Saigon by night on a Vespa, you will be picked up at the hotel by Vespa before making a stop at Air 360 Sky Bar to enjoy a cocktail and a panoramic view of Ho Chi Minh City at night before venturing into the city. As a passenger, you will have the chance to visit many off-the-beaten track highlights. 19. Go shark diving in South Africa - Shark cage diving: Not for everyone but certainly gets the Adrenaline going. Great white sharks visible in the wild. It is most definitely a unique experience. This is also worth keeping in mind when you are considering an ocean swim! 20. New Years Eve fireworks in Iceland - These fireworks are not put on by the government. The people of Iceland put on this spectacular show. Every person buys and lights fireworks for New Year’s which leads to the whole city being lit up. Fireworks for miles and miles lighting up the sky. 21. Visit the forgotten temple of Angkor Wat - It’s all about 37 when you are learning about Angkor Wat. It took 1000’s of workers 37 years to build Angkor Wat. There are 37 steps to the top of the temple. A one-day pass is $37 but what is really amazing is they can’t find any trace of the people that worked on the temple. This is only a selection of some of the amazing activities and day trips that are available to you. If there's something you always wanted to do let me know as I am sure I can organise it for you.
23 October 2020
How to Plan for your Dream Honeymoon - Part 1. The first thing to do is get excited as it is a big moment in your life and there is a lot to celebrate. There is a lot to consider too, and it is probably the most money you will spend on one trip in your lifetime, so you need to get it right. Here are a few tips to help you with the planning of your dream honeymoon and hopefully you will feel a little less daunted. **PICK THE RIGHT HONEYMOON DESTINATION** This is one that must be agreed on early. There is no point picking Bora Bora for your Honeymoon if you do not like long flights. Equally if you do not like to lay at the beach all day, read and snorkel, a Maldives honeymoon is not for you. Getting the destination right for both of you is the most important thing to consider. To get it right you may need to compromise a little with each other. For example, if one of you is less excited by a beach stay consider a city break 1st and then go to the beach rather than spending your full trip on the beach. Or agree to book two or three excursions into your honeymoon package for your time at the beach so there is relaxation but also some adventure. I can assist you with this and offer suitable suggestions based on your likes. You may want to totally chill out, with all your time spent on the beach drinking cocktails or maybe you have taken a lot of trips like this and you would like to have something with a little adventure, a safari perhaps? There is always a honeymoon that will tick the boxes for both of you. ** GO SOMEWHERE THAT OFFERS YOU MORE FOR YOUR MONEY ** The rate of exchange and the cost of living in a destination should also be considered. This is a great way to get more for your travel spend and stretch your Honeymoon budget. Consider a country where the rate of exchange works in your favour, Thailand, Bali, Vietnam to name a few, all offer amazing hotels at a fraction of the price compared to the Maldives or Seychelles. Your money will go further in these destinations. So, you could upgrade to that private pool villa without breaking the bank. Dining out will be much more affordable too so you will have more money for some amazing excursions. ** BE FLEXIBLE ** If possible be flexible on your date of departure. Travel on a Tuesday or a Wednesday when the flights are less busy, this will give you a lower airfare. Avoid Saturday or Sunday departures when the airlines often have weekend supplements applied so your flights will be dearer. Don’t get too caught up on the order of your destinations. If you are planning a two-centre honeymoon visiting Dubai and Mauritius but the flights are €300.00 cheaper to visit Mauritius 1st and then Dubai, go for the saving. This makes sense and gives you more choice. You can save the money, or you could upgrade your hotel room or even upgrade your hotel. Or how about that romantic candle lit dinner on the beach with the waves lapping at your feet. If you are working with me to plan your dream honeymoon this is something I would always check. My priority is always to get you the best value for money. ** HOW LONG SHOULD YOU GO FOR? ** This is important and boils down to the following. 1. Do you want a four-week trip which requires you to stay in three-star hotels to make 30 nights’ accommodation fit into your budget? 2. Are you happy to be away for 2 amazing weeks staying in a combination of four- and five-star hotels with room upgrade options, fabulous, personalised excursions pre booked in your destination and private transfers to and from all the airports? Longer or more upmarket is the question here. Personally, I think a honeymoon is about treating yourself to something you have never experience before and for me that means going all out for 2 weeks. ** WHERE WILL YOU STAY ** The hotels you choose on your honeymoon are extremely important, but this does not mean you have to stay in all five-star hotels to have a fabulous time. Its best to organise the hotel category according to the area you are in to maximise your budget. For example, if you are staying in Bangkok for 3 nights you most likely will be out all-day long sightseeing. Top of the list will be the Grand palace, the floating market, and the night markets so you will spend very little time in the hotel itself. A 4 star is perfect for a city like this and in some case a 3- star plus will work too. Staying in a five-star hotel is fabulous but you need to weigh up how much time you will actually have to enjoy the 5 star service and the 5 star facilities The money may be better spent at the beach by staying in a higher category of hotel or on an amazing speed boat adventure to Koh Phi Phi. I would recommend starting your trip in a 3- or 4-star property and finishing in a 4 or 5-star property. It’s very hard to stay in a 5-star hotel and revert to a 3-star for your last part of your trip. It is just a bit of an anti-climax even when you know in advance. It just won’t be the same. Check out 'How to plan your Dream honeymoon part 2’, where I will look at how important it is to include free activities when planning your trip. You can also follow me on Instagram for more Honeymoon inspiration @honeymoon_and_holiday_expert See you in part 2.
23 October 2020
Following on from 'How to plan your Dream Honeymoon' part 1. I am going to tell you about the free things that should always be included in your honeymoon, the average cost of a Honeymoon and why a Travel Expert is not the same as any Irish Travel Agent. **TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FREE THINGS ** These are the kind of things you may not be aware of and again an added advantage of booking with a travel expert. Did you know you can take part in a free Tai chi class in Hong Kong with the locals as part of the Hong Kong tourism boards welcome. If you stay all-inclusive at Olhuveli Resort and Spa you get a complimentary Dolphin sunset cruise adventure. If you take a free trip on the Staten island ferry in New York to get great free views of the statue of liberty. Building in complementary activities into your honeymoon also helps you keep you budget in check plus allows you to splurge on the things you want. ** THE AVERAGE HONEYMOON SPEND ** This is a hard one to answer particularly with my Travel service as it is bespoke. Each honeymoon is tailored to each couple I am working with. My travel service and the honeymoons I help plan and book are not the same as many offered by travel agent in Ireland. On average the budgets I work with are from €6000 - €8000 euro per couple when traveling on a long-haul Honeymoon. I do have clients that prefer to spend €5000 and some who go all out and spend €10,000 or €12,000 euro. A honeymoon package like this will include everything. International flights, domestic flights, private airport transfers, island to island speedboats transfers, seaplanes, hotels, excursions, day trips, river cruises and travel insurance. Through our Travel App, myTC we make all your travel documentation available to you. Our digital documents are provided for your safety and for easy access while you travel. We offer 24/7 help in case of emergency through our duty office plus I am always available 24/7 also in case you have an emergency. You will have my mobile number to contact me out of hours. So, you are never on your own. Everything you need for your dream honeymoon will be included in the cost. ** HONEYMOON GIFT REGISTRY ** A Honeymoon gift registry allows your guests to contribute to your dream honeymoon as a wedding gift. Growing in popular in Ireland and I am being ask about it more and more. For me it is a win win situation. You get to go on your dream honeymoon without breaking the bank and your guests have less stress trying to come up with a suitable wedding present and the dreaded ‘is cash ok’ question? I find the older generations, your aunts and uncles, your granny’s and grandads, your mum and dads neighbours and friends absolutely love this idea. To be able to give you something you want, while at the same time helping you to get to far away shores. The couples who have used it have had great feedback from their guest and have gone on amazing honeymoons. If you would like more information on how it works just let me know. It’s extremely easy. ** WORK WITH A TRAVEL EXPERT * Working with a travel professional is a great way to take the stress and the responsibility out of the planning your big trip. It also helps stretch that budget and lets you get the best value for your travel spend. I can help you decide where its ok to save and where you should splurge. I also have all the up-to-date information on restrictions and DFA travel advice relating to your destination, QR codes and test requirements too. I have been working as a honeymoon specialist for over 20 years. I know what I am doing, I plan honeymoons every day. I have the expertise, 1st hand knowledge and the experience to guide you correctly. I have access to preferential rates with all our suppliers including our hotel partners, airlines, cruises company, local excursion etc. I get lots off Honeymoon discounts. For example, quite a few of our hotels partners in Mauritius offer a bride a 50% discount on her stay, now that is a great saving. I’d love to help you plan and book your special trip so do get in touch and you can start dreaming. For more inspiration you can follow me on Instagram @honeymoon_and_holiday_expert
04 August 2020
Vietnam offers authentic activities and tours to enable you to really get a feel for the country. They are unique, interesting, and great fun in equal measures. Here are some of the must do activities which I lobed myself. I've been on them all bar the Vespa tour which is new. All available to pre-book which I would highly recommend. HANOI: • Take a polaroid tour of the city taking in all the top stops crossing through the different eras of the city, from colonial buildings to temples to narrow bustling streets this tour includes 20 old style polaroid pictures to take home with you. A great tour to see a fabulous city. HALONG BAY: • Take a cruise of on the must-see Lan Ha Bay, a part of Halong Bay. This world-famous bay is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Vietnam, with its giant rock islets covered in luxuriant vegetation overlooking the waters. Halong Bay includes some 1,900 island. This was by far the highlight of my trip and in my opinion a must do on any Vietnam itinerary. HOI AN: Another favourite of mine Hoi An is a lantern lit city making it so pretty but also 15 mins from the beach so it’s a fabulous base to explore. • Take a walk to explore Hoi An ancient town, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site for its well-preserved century-old streets and houses. • Take a bicycle ride through the rural scenery of Hoi An to Tra Que herb village, known for its aromatic herbs. Join in with the local farmers and observe their daily work of planting and picking vegetables and enjoy the paddy fields. . Hands-on Cooking Class: The cooking class, held in Chef Linh Nguyen's house, offers you a selection from a massive list of over 60 recipes - so prepare to be spoiled for choice! Chef Linh will pick you up at the hotel around 8:30 - 9:00, then continue on to the local Hoi An food markets, where you'll learn to choose the perfect ingredients for your choice of traditional Vietnamese dishes to cook. Take a quick break at a local cafe, before heading back to the house. There, you will learn to prepare the ingredients and with the guidance of Chef Linh, cook up some truly amazing flavours and dishes. After the lesson, you will have the pleasure of enjoying your group meal together. HOI CHI MING/SAIGON: • Saigon by night on a Vespa you will be picked up at the hotel by Vespa before making a stop at Air 360 Sky Bar to enjoy a cocktail and a panoramic view of Ho Chi Minh City at night before venturing into the city. As a passenger, you will have the chance to visit many off-the-beaten track. Your journey will start from District 1, along crowded streets, experience the most highlights in downtown at night. • Cu Chi Tunnels, located about 2 hours from Ho Chi Minh City. Originally dug by hand by the Viet Minh (Resistance Force) during the French-Indochina War, this network of underground tunnels was expanded during the Vietnam War. At its peak, it was 200 kilometres long, 3-to-4-meters deep, and was very well-equipped with meeting rooms, medical, and sanitary posts. Today, it is one of the most important historical sites of the Vietnam War. Mekong Delta: • Cruise along the Chet Say river one of the Mekongs arms, I loved it here, a slower pace of life. Watch the farmers bringing there good to market along the river or take a sampan tour and what the world go by. Vietnam is a beautiful country and has everything from cities to vast countryside, rivers and beaches and island beaches too. It definitely one for the bucket list. get in touch if you would like to start planning and booking your personal adventure.
29 June 2020
South Africa is an amazing diverse destination with so much to offer. Mountain scenery to ocean vistas. Whale watching to Elephant spotting. Fabulous wine and food, it has it all. Here are some of the must do activities. All available to pre-book which I would highly recommend. *Visit the Waterfront: Cape Towns Waterfront is lovely. Think Grafton street, shops, buskers, even gospel choirs. Dining al fresco is an added bonus too. *Helicopter flight: Take a 16min flight over Cape Town soar over this beautiful coastal city. taking on Cape Town, Clifton Beach, the fantastic promenade-lined Camps Bay, and the distinct eighteen peaks of the twelve Apostles. *Table mountain: The Table mountain cable car allows you take a single cable car to the top. There's no need to rush for a good spot as this is one of the largest rotation cable cars in the world so everyone gets a great view. *Whale watching: The coastal town of Hermanus offered great whale watching trips and in the height of the season the whales can be viewed from the cliff side. The whale season in Hermanus is between June and December every year. Hermanus is 122km from Cape Town so a day trip is doable but Hermanus is worth staying A night or two it’s a lovely town. *Shark cage diving: Not for everyone but certainly gets the Adrenaline going. We took our trip from Mossel bay, but you can also do day trips from Cape Town. Great white sharks visible in the wild. Before you ask, yes the sharks are Huge! This is also worth keeping in mind when you are considering an ocean swim ! *Penguins of Bolder beach: For a less dangerous encounter, visit the penguins of Bolder beach. A lovely drive approx 1hr 10 mins outside Cape Town. Simonstown is a quaint little town on the way to bolder beach with beautiful pained changing rooms huts lined up on the beach. The penguins are very cute and fun to watch surfing the waves and waddling up the beach. *Visit an ostrich farm: This was a really unique experience in Oudtshoorn. I didn’t know ostrich's were so interesting. Did you know they race ostrich like we race horses or the Arabs race camels! Jockeys and all. They are so fast the race is taken over a shot distance. *Blyde River Canyon: Planning on visiting Kruger National Park for a safari? They you should add the Blyde River canyon the 3rd largest Canyon in the world to your itinerary. With fabulous waterfalls (depending on the season of course). Gods window is gorgeous, a great photo stop overlooking the length of the Canyon, it offers really breath-taking views. Pilgrims Rest is an old gold mining town that became part of the gold rush and also in this region so worth a trip it was very interesting. * Wine Tram: Take the wine tram and visit 3-4 vineyards for the afternoon. If wine is your thing enjoy tasting each blend of wine from each winery with the tram bring you home again. *Go on safari: Safari a must do if visiting South Africa. The absolute highlight for me. Elephants, giraffes, Lion, rhino everything is here in the wild. Did you know the guides and trackers speak to each in African when you are out on your game drives. This is so you don't know what animal is coming up next. The are expensive but worth every penny for the close encounters the trackers and guides allow you to experience. There is a vast array of activities available in South Africa, I’ve only named a few here. Let me know if there is something you’d particularly like to do or see on your trip and I can certainly include it for you. After all that’s what my travel service is all about. Trips tailored to your specifications.
08 May 2017
A few people have asked me what exactly do I do? I create Dream holiday so you can make memories to last a lifetime. This comes with great responsibility but I do have the knowledge and expertise required. I have specialised in the planning and creating of personalised long-haul and luxury holidays for 24 years now and I have loved every minute of it plus I’ve visited 35 countries to date so chances are I've been to were you want to visit. I am a travel expert; I book and plan personalised holidays to suit each of my client’s. So, what exactly does that involve? 1. I advise you on visa requirements and vaccinations needed to travel safely. As well as update you on the latest travel alerts from the department foreign affairs including test requirements, QR codes, online passenger locator form, transit requirement etc 2. I research and book the best value flights with the best connections, times and stopovers for the destinations you are visiting. 3. I recommend and book hotels based on your likes, preferences and budget, but also add personal recommendations on hotels I use regularly or that have been tried and tested. 4. I organise private transfers to collect you from the airport, take you to your accommodation and back to the airport at the end of your trip. No more waiting around for 40 other people to fill a bus. These private transfers collect you and look after you and only you! This service will be provided for every destination you visit throughout your trip. 5. I organise all of your boat or seaplane transfers where required (To the islands in Thailand, Malaysia and the Maldives). These are booked to connect with your airport transfers to the ports. 6. I arrange your experiences… including sightseeing trips, excursions, park tickets and more. Whether you want to… See the sunrise over Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, A sampans trips on the Mekong Delta, Helicopter rides to the Grand Canyon, Washing and feeding Elephants in Koh Sok National park, Vespa tours of Hoi Chi Ming City, speed boat tours to Phi Phi Island Thailand and even Piranha fishing in the Amazon! 7. Once your personal trip is booked, I am here to answers any question you might have in the lead up to your trip and I am available 24 hrs a day while you are away in case you have an emergency. This has never been so important. Knowing you have someone to call on no matter where you are or the time of the day. I am available 24 hrs a day while you are away in case you have an emergency so you are never on your own. You also have our 24/7 Duty office on hand to assist should you need them. That’s it. I take all the stress and responsibility out of booking your trip while giving you peace of mind that I am here and available should you need me If this is the travel service you are looking for get in touch. Id be happy to help you plan and book your dream trip. Chat soon André
14 May 2020
An excellent adventure was had by us in Iceland! Geysers, roaring waterfalls, tectonic plates plus snow in the winter. Hunt for the Northern Lights, visit the gorgeous Blue Lagoon, watch the might of the Gullfoss. There is absolutely loads to do in Iceland and you can visit at any time of the year. Did you know there were no native Icelandic people is Iceland when the Danish arrived but get this... the population's DNA is comprised of 60% Danish and 40% Irish! It seems we were taken back to Iceland by the Vikings no less! We flew into Reykjavik the world’s most northern city. With its smoky bay when the mist blows in. It’s a compact city and easy to walk around. I would highly recommend visiting the rainbow street and popping in for fresh fish and chips in the Reykjavik fish restaurant. It was delicious and good value. Reykjavik’s church is a landmark in the city and is really striking. It took 41 years to build the church when construction started in 1945 and ended in 1986. It is very interesting architecturally and they have lovely cushioned pews in the church. I couldn’t help thinking we could do with these here too. Another interesting fact. The cities homes and hotels use the natural geothermal water in their bathroom’s showers and sinks. Very environmentally sound but it does come at a cost as the smell of sulphur from the water as it is quite overpowering when you are not used to it, but the Icelandic people no longer notice it would seem. I’ve always wanted to go to the Blue Lagoon so it’s a tick for the bucket list and it didn’t disappoint. It’s approx €120 to enter which includes free storage of your luggage. I know this sounds odd, but as the lagoon is only 15 mins from the airport it is best to visit just after you land or on your way home as Reykjavik is a full 45 mins away, so it’s actually very clever. Towels are included in the price too as is a face mask and a drink from the bar. It’s approx 38C so it’s gorgeous and warm! Stay as long as you can as there’s a bar which is actually in the water so you don’t have to get out but keep in mind the beer is very high in alcohol and the lagoon is very hot so be cautious. Stay a few hours have a beer and a mud mask and enjoy. I would recommend doing a golden circle tour taking in all the hot spots. The best advice would be to book the best tour you can afford. The less people on your tour the better the experience and the faster you move from place to place. This also allows you more time in each place too plus less time spent doing hotel pickups and drop offs. You will visit the area where the tectonic plates meet, the North America and Eurasian plates meet in Iceland with a no-man’s land between the two plates. These plates pull apart by 2 cms a year and the tour takes you on a walk between them which is very unusual. The geysers are next. The geothermal pools have an average temperature of 80c-100c when they reach the surface. They cause steam to rise from the ground and puddles to boil, and geysers! Every 5-6 mins a huge tunnel of water shots from the earth and up into the sky. A fantastic sight. The most incredible sight for me was the Gullfoss waterfall. No other waterfall in the world can match its fury, not even Niagara Falls. It full of glacial water. Thousands upon thousands of unharnessed water flow continually into the gorge. The sheer volume of water and the noise it makes is mesmerising. Another bucket list favourite is to hunt for the Northern lights, and it is still a hunt. Seeing the Northern lights is completely dependent on the weather patterns on any particular day and the cloud cover so it is still very very difficult to actually see them. Having said that, the hunt itself is just as much fun, we got caught in a snow blizzard so that was a new experience. To maximise your chances, take a cruise out to hunt for the lights as this offers the best results. All these activities can be pre-booked so just let me know. We travelled to Iceland for New Year’s Eve and they had the most amazing firework show I have ever seen. So, what is was so different about the Icelandic fireworks? They are not put on by the government or sponsored by any organisation. The people of Iceland put on this spectacular show. Every person buys and lights fireworks for New Year’s which leads to the whole city being lit up. Fireworks for miles and miles lighting up the sky and it goes on for about an hour! Kicking off at about 11.30 p.m. We had the most amazing adventure. Iceland is a lovely place for a long weekend as a couple or in our case we brought the children and they loved it too. So if you are thinking of Iceland for your next trip get in touch. I would be delighted to help you plan and book your personal Icelandic adventure.
14 May 2020
I have been to the UAE many times, it’s actually one of my favourite places. I love the luxury, the high-end hotels and the fabulous service you receive here. Dubai is fabulous and I was really expecting the same again when I visited Abu Dhabi but I was wrong, the two cities are very different indeed. Firstly, Abu Dhabi is made up of 200 islands so it has a completely different feel and many beaches. The islands are spilt into different attractions. Yas Island gives you water parks, Ferrari Land theme park, Warner Bros Studios and one of the largest shopping malls in the world. Saddiyat Island offers luxury hotels with beach front accommodation and the only 5 star luxury all-inclusive hotel in Abu Dhabi. Zaya Nurai Island for a real island experience. 15 mins by speed boat from the mainland, it is an island paradise that really reminded me of the Maldives. Culturally Abu Dhabi excels too. They have the Louvre. The only Louvre museum outside of France. It’s a great experience the roof alone has been built to represent the Arabian palm trees as the sun shines through them and casts shadows onto the interior floor of the museum. Its art in itself and functional too as it’s used as a cooling system for the museum. It was magical in the sunshine, which is pretty much every day here. The Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi is a breath-taking spot and well worth a visit. It is one of the largest mosques in the world holding the world’s biggest chandelier and largest carpet, both handmade. It can hold 40,000 people at any one time. The sheer size is amazing to see. There is a huge selection of hotels to choose from too in Abu Dhabi. The Rixos hotel was a favourite of mine. Situated on Saadiyat Island this hotel is over the top, opulent and luxurious. It would be a fabulous hotel for a honeymoon. Pool access rooms, allowing you to jump straight from your terrace into the pool. Waiters on roller blades serving cocktails and the only 5 star luxury all-inclusive in Abu Dhabi. It is also right on the beach, so you get to experience swimming in the Arabian Sea. The W hotel is another fantastic hotel and offers a unique experience. Situated on Yas island the hotel sits over the Formula 1 racetrack. If you are travel during the Grand Prix season you can watch the race from your room as the cars race under and around the hotel. The sound of the cars as they pass is exhilarating. It is a great experience and one to add to your bucket list. The W is a truly modern hotel in style with great service, attention to detail and most definitely a great experience. The ethos of this hotel is that every guest will have a truly special experience. There is also the Emirates Palace to consider. The only 7 star hotel in the world! So you are spoilt for choice. Abu Dhabi is perfect for a week away or a couple’s city break or indeed a stopover on your way to Bali or Thailand for example. Allowing you to have a two centre holiday. So if I’ve given you the inspiration to visit Abu Dhabi, let me know and we can start planning your next adventure together.
01 November 2019
The Sani resorts are a wonderful collection of high-end properties in Greece that are tailored specifically to families. Each has its individual characteristics, is beautiful in its own right and now with direct flight from Ireland there’s never been a better time to visit. There are 5 hotels on this beach front setting; Sani Beach, Astrious, Porto Sani, Dunes and Sani Club. Each hotel offers a different experience, but you have access to all the facilities at each resort regardless of which Sani Resort property you choose to stay in. Sani Resorts also caters for all your family’s needs with 7 kms beach of blue flag and huge swimming pools. They also offer 20 mins free childcare at pool so you can have a swim by yourself. This is also kids clubs for all ages and an adults pools so you have a chance to relax by yourself. There are 3 beaches at Sani all beautiful but the Bousoulas beach was our favourite because of it’s amazing beach club. It reminded me of the Hamptons, everything white and very chic. Sani beach: This is the first Sani and more of a traditional hotel stay. They do offer some beach front rooms and beach access rooms too but predominantly the hotel rooms are suitable for 2 adults and 2 children sleeping in 35sq meters on a combination of double bed and sofa bed for the children. Sani Astrious: Sani Astrious is a boutique property within the resort and is ideal for those looking for privacy and a quieter stay. There are only 57 suites here with beach and marine view. This property also offers villas with private pools. Astrious would be most suitable for couples or a families with older children. Porto Sani: Porto Sani is situated beside the Marina. The marina also houses a lot of the restaurants in the resort. Porto Sani is not beach front, but a section of beach is reserved for guests staying here. Again, it has a fabulous pool area and the largest suites are 55sq meters so there is plenty of room for the whole family. Sani Dunes: The Sani Dunes is very modern in it’s style and offers more adult only areas than the other properties do such as adult only restaurants and adults only pool. It also has the largest heated pool in the Mediterranean at 3500 m. The beach house here is to die for and a must do for lunch or dinner regardless of which property you choose to stay in. Sani Club: The second property built by Sani is built on the cliff side for the ultimate sea view. Again, it’s a little quieter as most of the restaurants and kids facilities are nearer the marina and a shuttle bus is required to reach these areas. It is however gorgeous and should be considered, particularly if you are looking for bungalows with a private pool. When staying in Sani you stay on a half board basis, so your breakfast and dinner is included in your stay. Breakfast is by buffet and is fabulous! You may also dine à al carte in some restaurants for breakfast but this needs to pre booked. The resort offers a dining option with half board. There are 24 restaurants in Sani with 22 available to guests on dine around with a set menu not including your drinks. Sani Resorts welcomes families of all ages with crèche facilities available (at an additional charge) and kids clubs from age 4 up are free of charge. Also included in your stay is the Adventure park which includes zip lines, high bridges and all non-motorised water sports. Rafael Nadal tennis camps run during the summer as does the Chelsea’s football academy which as you can imagine is hugely popular. There is a charge for both these camps. Sani offers a fabulous high-end family holiday, everything you could need is available on site. There is so much for you to do either together as a family or by yourself, allowing each member of the family time to relax, unwind and make precious memories. This means everyone has a fabulous time and it is most definitely a family holiday I will be recommend to my clients. I couldn’t fault anything at all. If you are interested in visiting Greece or need some help planning your next family holiday why not get in touch. As a Travel Counsellor I can create unique and amazing trips, whether it’s a once in a life time dream holiday, family adventure or cruise voyage, all tailor made just for you.
01 November 2019
Halkidiki is a region in northern Greece known for its jutting peninsulas and is where Mediterranean forests give way to sandy beaches. Olive trees grow everywhere, and panoramic vistas are the norm! Plus, the sea is crystal clear, warm and very inviting too. As we now have direct flights to Halkidiki from Ireland it’s a fabulous area of the world to add to your bucket list and a place I would highly recommend. The food is amazing, from jumbo prawns, Greek salads to fabulous steaks, they have it all. The Greeks are exceptional warm and welcoming with a great sense of humour too. You are warmly welcomed and enthusiastically show the hotels by everyone from the hotel manager right down to the golf cart driver. They all take great pride in the hotels they work in, which really adds to your experience of Greece. Some impressive fact for Halkidiki are: It has 92 blue flag beaches There are 550 Km of coastline It is a great place for climbing and hiking with Mount Holomontas, Mount Itamos and Mount Stratoniko The second city of Greece is located 1.5 hours from Halkidiki - Thessaloniki During summer session there are at least 3 flights a week to Thessaloniki from Dublin Need any more reasons to visit? Get in touch if this is the destination for you. As a Travel Counsellor I can take all the stress out of planning and organise your dream getaway.
15 July 2019
Japan is one of those country's that seems to intrigue everyone, yet I don’t think it is a destination for everyone. If you love history, adventurous food and want to experience different customs Japan is definitely the place for you. Many of my friends have visited Japan yet they can’t seem to explain the experience in detail, so this just made me more intrigued. There is so much to see in Japan and I would recommend at least a 10-night stay. We started our trip in Osaka. Osaka is a vibrant city, referred to as the food capital of Japan. It certainly has it all. The riverbank promenades are full of small restaurants and street food vendors with all sorts of weird and wonderful things to try. I’m still not sure how our noodles were moving but moving they were. This is both mesmerizing and off putting in equal measures. The city has a great vibe and is a great base to visit nearby areas. From here you can plan a day trip to Hiroshima by train or visit Kyoto which l is only 30 mins away. The train system in Japan is excellent and you can get pretty much go anywhere but it is very time consuming and in a lot of cases it would be difficult to do 2 or 3 places of interest in the one day. This is one of the reasons Japan can be expensive to travel. Private drives and tour guides really offer you the best value for your time. I would highly recommend pre-booking private drivers and guides as in essence you are paying for time. Leave the trains for the larger journeys. Osaka to Tokyo on the bullet train is a great experience but note if you get seasick the gentle rocking side to side of the bullet train as it hurtles along at 270km per hr can make you feel queasy too. Kyoto was my favourite place we visited on our trip. This city was very picturesque and intriguing. Gion corner is the old area of Kyoto with traditional buildings and homes and fabulous pagodas, winding streets and temples and the home of the elusively Geisha. Kyoto is much smaller in size than I envisaged. I was told Kyoto was a small city but its small only in Japanese terms as it has a population of 1.5 million most reside in the new modern area of the city. The surrounding countryside and suburbs hold other amazing sights and temples. I loved Inari temple, temple of red gates. Japan has a huge population and domestic tourism is thriving so unfortunately many of the big attractions are extremely busy, but this just seems to be part of the experience when touring Japan. Don’t be Instagram fooled as I felt we were many times. The guides explained to us that the Instagrammers are usually at the attraction before dawn breaks to get the shots before the crowds arrive. This would mean they are in location waiting for the sun to rise from about 5am! We also visited the Bamboo forest and took a boat ride on the river here too which was lovely and relaxing. The area is similar Kyoto, with old wooden shops and restaurants lining the main street, all very quaint. We taxied around to the Golden temple from here rather than walk back to the station and change trains. This is eye-catching temple sits on a beautiful still lake. The roof is covered in gold leaf and it just sparkles and reflects in the water. It was time to move on and we took the bullet train to Hakone, Odowara station. This is a mountain region famous for its hot springs. The link viewing of this area can be reached by Mountain train, cable car, a boat across lake Ashi and buses and can takes almost 5 hrs to complete the circuit. The hotels here offer Japanese’s style rooms which essentially is a room with coffee tables and floor chairs (no beds) that is then reconfigured in the evening to a traditional bedroom with cushion mattresses on the floor. It’s quite the experience but not for everyone so do choose wisely. If you want to experience the natural spa, each hotel has one with natural water pumped in. The important point to note here is you much spilt up if traveling with the husband or girlfriend as they are strictly single sex spas. My final destination on the trip was Toyko and I was dying to see this city. The first thing that stuck me was how everyone was behaving, no taking on the trains or streets. People were very mannerly and polite, but everyone sin coffee shops were by themselves and seemed to be all on their phones. No one appeared to interact, no impromptu hellos to a stranger or a chat about the weather. It reminded me of how lucky we are in Ireland that we can strike up a conversation with anyone about anything. Toyko is very modern and efficient with some beautiful traditional areas as well. A real old meets new mix. Modern entertainment like the robot show is new to traditional temples. My favourite temple in Japan was the Senso ji temple. It was like walking back in time. The entrance is a fabulous gate with huge red lateens which leads down street lined with shops. Originally these shops would have housed incense and gifts to be presented for worship in the temple, now they are full of souvenirs and traditional Japanese’s gifts. The temple itself is gorgeous and the pagoda standing to the left is almost missed but it was beautiful against the blue sky. I could have stayed here for hours. Before heading home, we had to try the famous Shinuya crossing. One junction with 5 zebra crossings and when the lights change everyone crossed together it’s memorising. Mags park on the 7th floor offers a free Shibuya viewing point from above and is the perfect spot for people watching. Overall, I liked Japan as it was truly different from anywhere else I’ve been and that is only ever a good thing. If you’d like more information or if Japan is in your bucket list, get in touch.
15 July 2019
My favourite city in Europe is Venice followed closely by Lisbon. Lisbon is a magnificent city that has somehow been overlooked by travellers over the years and I’m not sure why! It’s up there with Rome, Paris and Dubrovnik. It has everything you could ask for from a city and much, much more. Old cobbles streets, outdoor dining, huge plaza squares looking out over the water and old trams running up and down the steep streets all add to the experience. The trams are a fabulous way to see the city and there are many sightseeing companies, but I’d recommend booking before you go. The streets are so narrow in some places people walking have to quickly step into doorways to allow the tram to pass. You can literally reach out and touch the houses as they go by. At the top of the city lies the castle. A fortified wonder protecting the city below. You can see the whole city below from every side, for miles out to sea. Castelo de S. Jorge is open 7 days a week and tickets are €10. It gives a real feel into how the city was protected in the old days and the sheer energy it would have taken to do this. Another great way to get around is on a Tuk Tuk ride. Now Tuk Tuk are much more commonplace in Thailand but that is half the attraction and they are perfectly suited for nipping up and down the steep winding streets in Lisbon. On the flat right in the middle of the town is Praça do Comércio, a huge open plaza looking out to the Tagus River. There is also a lovely promenade along here too to enjoy the view. From the plaza a fabulous arch way, called the Arco da Rua August leads you into the narrow streets. It’s a nice spot to stop for a pizza and watch the world go by. I would recommend Lisbon as a 3-night city break or take a week away and do a two centre staying 3 nights in Lisbon and then heading to the coast of Cascais for four nights. Cascais is a beautiful fishing town with lovely port area and lovely beaches too. Lots of lovely restaurants run through the town and along the cliff tops offering you amazing views. They are famous for their sardines here. Cascais is accessible by train on the equivalent of the DART and takes just 30 mins to reach from Lisbon. If you have more time take in Porto for a few nights too Porto is one of Europe's cultural capitals and is also fabulous. It can also be reached by train from Lisbon and takes 3hrs. If you hire a car the city of Sintra is also well worth a trip. Sitting up the mountains the city is often seen peaking in and out of the clouds. There are some gorgeous historical buildings here to explore extravagant palaces, opulent mansions and the ruins of an ancient castle too. The famous Pastéis De Nata, pastries originate from Sintra and are a must taste. If you’re looking for something a little different this area of Portugal is gorgeous so get in touch to start planning your alternative Portuguese adventure.
15 July 2019
Although Hong Kong has a population of 7.2 million it somehow doesn’t feel like it. Hong Kong is made up of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon island, the New Territories, Lantau Island, and over 200 other islands. The airport is on a separate island too with a direct train service to both Kowloon and Hong Kong island and with shuttle buses onwards to your Hotel, it’s a very convenient way to access the city and is also cost effective. The city has the largest number of skyscrapers in the world, most of which surround Victoria Harbour. What you may not know is Hong Kong is extremely mountainous, so land is very limited which is one of the reasons the skyline is dominated by sky scrapers. This has its advantages offering fabulous views from Victoria Harbour. The skyscrapers and the mountains being the backdrop to the Harbour makes for a fabulous photo particularly when the sun is setting. The two main islands to stay on are Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Hong Kong Island is the business district and can be a little quite in the evening when all the business close, but Bar street is a good spot to visit no matter what island you are staying on. As the name suggests it’s a street lined with bars on both sides but best to start at the top and work down as it’s on quite a steep hill! Kowloon is my favourite as it gives good access to Victoria Harbour which is an attraction in itself. It’s also closer to ladies’ market famed for its shirts and souvenirs and its really busy in the evenings too with lots of local restaurants. Both islands are easily accessible. The star ferry runs back and forth across the Harbour ever 10 mins up to 11.30pm. Add a trip on the star ferry to your list as well it’s only a couple of euros. The train also runs between the two islands and there’s a tunnel as well which runs under the Harbour so getting home in a taxi is never a problem. Sunset Harbour cruises can be pre-book and I’d really recommend taking one that includes the symphony of lights show that takes place on the Harbour each night at 8pm. I loved this experience. All the skyscraper across the Harbour are lit in neon lights dancing in sequence to the vibrant music. It can also be watch from the Harbour side but personally I thought it was better on the water. For another perspective of the city take a trip up to Victoria Peak, 400 meters above sea level. The funicular railway climbs you to the top and the view is amazing. You do need to include the observation deck on your ticket, but it is well worth it for the view. There’s also a Bubba Gump one floor down from the observation deck. It’s reasonably priced for Hong Kong considering the view it offers guests. Best to pre-book for a window seat to guarantee your view and note it’s also not open in the morning. I did visit the Stanley markets for a second time but honestly, I was disappointed. I think a trip out to the outlying islands would be nicer. All in all Hong Kong is a really interesting city and a great stopover on the way to Bali, Cambodia and Vietnam. It’s less daunting than Bangkok and more Asian than Singapore. So if you’d like to incorporate Hong Kong into your next adventure just get in touch and also don’t forget to try the bubble waffles too.
08 May 2019
UPDATED July 2020: Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts has launched Ozen Reserve Vittaveli in South Male Atoll, Maldives. Formally the 5 star Jumeirah Vittaveli. A fabulous addition to the Atmosphere resorts. * * * What was the Maldives Really like? Just fabulous is the answer to that question. Here’s all you need to know about the Maldivian island, Olhuveli Beach & Spa. I’ve been trying to get to the Maldives for 13 years, so it had a lot to live up to, but it’s safe to say the whole trip to the Maldives was amazing. It’s just picture perfect. I took a total of 600 hundred photos of the island itself in one week! It is just so beautiful you will be snapping away nonstop. Everything from sunrises to sunsets, dolphins to tropical fish, beach swings to overwater villa they all just look so gorgeous in the sun. The sea is a fabulous clear blue colour that matches the blue skies and the blue just seems to go on forever and the sand is so white. The sea is so clear you can see for meters and meters. Best of all is the snorkelling off the houses reef, it is really amazing and definitely worth the trip if you are into your diving and snorkelling. Saying there is an abundance of fish doesn’t even cover it. There were thousands of fish all swimming in large shoals and there’s a drop off too! It’s also super easy to access the reef particularly when the tide is out so even for a novice snorkeler it would be very accessible and a wonderful experience. For those wondering about sharks, yes they do have them but as there is such an abundance of fish in these waters the sharks are never hungry, we didn’t see any at all! We stayed in a beach villa which had a magnificent outdoor bathroom with free standing bath, two outdoor showers and a cabana. It was a real WOW factor and it really made it special. A Super King bed in the bedroom with a canopy which was so comfortable, and this lead out though double doors to the deck out the back with another built in sofa to relax on. Ten steps from here and you are literally in the sea. Each villa also had 2 sun loungers on the beach outside your little villa. It was just gorgeous. The Maldives is very upmarket and extremely well-run destination. Although you are on a small island in the middle of nowhere and the Maldives is an island nation there is nothing backward about this place. The service, the staff, the food and the style are all super. It’s a very slick operation which leads to a wonderful holiday experience. Staying all-inclusive is really the only way to go as even the soft drinks and water are very expensive. The food was fabulous and a there was a massive choice of cuisine on offer. We stayed on the lead in All-inclusive giving us access to the buffet restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We could also dine once in the Lagoon restaurant on a five-course set menu and the Four Fusion restaurant which you have a credit towards your dinner here which was fabulous. It is Thai fusion. Lunch can be at the buffet restaurant or you can have a choice of pizzas, burgers, paninis and wraps at the Island Pizza restaurant on the beach. Afternoon tea is also included and served in the Lagoon restaurant and lastly the mini bar in your room is also part of the all-inclusive package. It was brilliant really. All your snorkelling gear, masks fins etc are included for the duration of your stay, you just collect them once and drop them back at the end of your trip. Non-motorised water sports are included in the all-inclusive – Paddle boarding, kayaking etc. A 15 mins jet ski lesson and a 15 min wind surf lesson are also included. Plus, one excursion from of choice of three. We went on the Sunset dolphin watching trip which was lovely and finished off with a glass of cava as the sun set. Life doesn’t really get much better than this. So as you can see there is loads of value for money offered in this Maldivian paradise, and if that is not enough and you want more choice, they do also offer a premium all-inclusive package. What I particularly like about Olhuveli Beach & Spa is the ability to change up your day. There are 2 pools on the main island, one is an adult only pool and 3 beaches. They have also just opened a new island, Dream island which is connected by a land bridge and you can take a walk over. Dream island offers you another pool and another beach which you are also permitted to use. Olhuveli is reached by speed boat from Male and takes about 45 mins. It’s a lovely trip across and this also helps keep the cost down as a speed boat is significantly cheaper than a seaplane. All in all, I loved the Maldives and I would love to go back. Olhuveli offers great value in the Maldives. It such a tranquil place, it’s really beautiful and the photos I took as nice as they all are just didn’t really quite capture the beauty. It really does have to be seen with your own eyes. And the sunset, OMG I could just look at them all day long and I’m missing them already. If your other half likes to be busy and not just lie in the sun, I wouldn’t rule the Maldives out. There are lots of water sports and excursions on offer to keep everyone occupied. It would be a great combination with Dubai or there are even flights from Bangkok and Kuala Lumper if you like to combine South East Asia too. So, is this the trip for you? Let me know.
08 May 2019
*UPDATED July 2020: The local authorities in Siem Reap recently announced that as of 1 January 2020, the Beng Melea Temple will only be available to visit when included in a 1-day, 3-day or 7-day Angkor Pass which is great news. Previously, the entrance ticket to the Beng Melea Temple was sold separately. This temple is very secluded and worth considering for your trip* The temples of Angkor Wat have been on my bucket list for a long time. I was really excited to visit. Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious temples in the world. The fact that it was completely forgotten for over 200 years when the king moved the capital city from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh to get further away from the Thai border, and the ongoing threat of attack, only adds to it’s magic and mystery. It’s all about 37 when you are learning about Angkor Wat. It took 1000’s of workers 37 years to build Angkor Wat. There are 37 steps to the top of the temple. A one-day pass is $37 and I also think my daughter asked the guide about 37 questions! But what’s really amazing is they can’t find any trace of the people that worked on the temple. There were 1000’s of workers and there is no trace of them at all, no settlements can be found, no pots or pottery, only the temples themselves. It was very hot when we travelled in April. It should have been approx 30 degrees Celsius but it was 40! This did make it heavy going when out viewing the temples in the heat of the sun as amazing as they are. I would recommend doing two half day tours of the temples rather than a full day trip. One reason for this is the temples may all start to look similar, but the other reason is the heat. It can hard to stay enthusiastic when its really hot. This won’t be a problem if you are breaking the viewing up which is what we did. We also visited in the afternoon when it’s less busy which I would also recommend. Most people come in the morning, but I do prefer to see temples and places of interest when it is not too busy with other tourists, it’s nice to feel you have a little bit of the world to yourself. It would also be worth considering coming in the green season when visitor numbers drop to about a 1000 people per day. Another must do is the teetered hot air balloon that operates close to Angkor Wat. It offers a magnificent view from the top. You could also see some of the other surrounding temples from the top. It’s a 15 mins flight but it was so peaceful up there and the scenery was breath taking it’s definitely one to add to your trip. Keep in mind it is subject to weather conditions so try and book this in for your 1st or 2nd day. That way if it is cancelled you can reschedule free of charge for the following day and you won’t miss out. The temples surrounding Angkor Wat were all built as practice runs for the Angkor Wat itself. It is really amazing that these smaller temples that are so ornate and detailed could be seen as just practice runs. They were used for worship, but it was all in preparation for Angkor Wat so they would hone their skills. The Bayon Temple was one of these practice temples. Each temple we visited seemed to have a different skill being practice. Bayon is the temple of smiling faces. There are 54 towers and each of the towers is adorned by 4 smiling faces. They are huge. There is also a fabulous entrance gate into Bayon, it was like stepping back in time. Ta Prohm Temple, is another practice temple. It was my favorite; I was dying to see it. It may be a lot smaller than Angkor Wat but the trees are amazing. They literally grow over the temple with the roots growing down from the top of the walls and wrapping themselves around the temple. The trees take over. It looks amazing but they do damage the temple structures. While restoring this temple they have removed some of the trees but there are still many left to enjoy. This is the temple that was made famous by the Tomb Raider movie with Angelina Jolie. Siem Reap in Cambodia is well used to tourists who come purely to see the temples and they operate in both USD and Cambodian Riel. This means it is a little more expensive than I had initially thought. Now it’s not that it is dear but it would be more expensive than Thailand and Vietnam, so this is worth noting. There is a fabulous night market which has a great buzz and a vibrant bar street which really is a must visit. If you are lucky you might see the local trader selling local snacks of deep fried Scorpion or perhaps you’d prefer grasshopper or crickets!! There’s quite a selection at the night market in Siem Reap. Cambodian New Year was celebrated when we were there from the 14th April to the 17th April. Everyone celebrates with one big water fight and they also throw powder that looks a lot like talcum powder. One mucky mess in the making but there were some fine water guns out there and it’s great fun everyone is soaked. Everyone gets involved and more so the adults than the kids! If you plan on visiting over this time, I would make a point of being here for one of the biggest water fights in the world.
01 November 2019
With glorious white sands, swaying palm trees and glittering turquoise waters, the Maldives are the picture-perfect holiday destination. I travelled to the Maldives earlier this year and it was just fabulous! With so much to do and see there it’s hard to know when to start and that’s where I come in. As your personal Travel Counsellors, I can tailor make your dream holiday and offer your expert advice on all your travel needs. Here are some of my top tips when thinking about planning your to the Maldives. 1. Consider your mode of Transport. Many of the islands in the Maldives are reached by sea plane and although this is a fabulous way to arrive it is also a costly add on. A great alternative to sea planes is travelling by speedboat. That’s one of the great things about booking with me. As a Travel Counsellor I take the time to get to know you and create an amazing itinerary within your budget, factoring in all the little details and add-ons. 2. Pick an island that caters for your needs. In some resorts non-motorised water sports and their equipment are included. The Maldives is made for water sports and although each activity isn’t hugely costly on its own if you do a few activities a day it will add up very quickly. If you’re interested in water sports or any other specific activity, make sure to let me know when we’re discussing your trip so I can show you resorts that cater for your needs. 3. Consider all inclusive. Some people love all-inclusive, other not so much! Although it may seem a lot more costly at the initial stage of enquiry it works out a lot better value in the long run, especially when you’re staying in the Maldives. The Maldives is made up of 100s of islands and as a result they grow very little for themselves. This means everything has to be imported so everything is shipped into the main island and then shipped out again to each individual island resort. This makes everything even bottled water very expensive. When booking your trip with me I can help you decide whether all-inclusive is the best option for you and which resort can cater to all your requirements. 4. Pick a resort that offers you added value – The island I stayed on offered us a free Dolphin excursion saving us money. As I have access to many properties and year round offers I can help you choose the best value resort for you. 5. Put the Maldives on your bucket list! Just go for it the Maldives is amazing and has some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world. The beaches are just WOW and I can’t recommend it highly enough! If the Maldives are on your bucket list, why not give me a call? With my expertise and first-hand experience, I can tailor make your dream holiday in the Maldives and ensure you make memories that will last a lifetime.
06 September 2018
*Updated March 2022* Grootbos Private Nature Reserve has been named one of national geographic unique lodges of the world. The Serengeti of the sea, where the Atlantic ocean and the Indian ocean converge to give a diverse marine ecosystem for you to explore* South Africa is one of the most diverse destinations to visit as it has everything to offer, history, amazing scenery, fabulous wildlife, multiple safari options and a coast line to be envied. At the moment it also offers fantastic value for money as the Rand has fallen so we are getting much better value for our travel spend. Cape Town a city beach destination over looked by Table Mountain which sours into the clouds. It’s a really picturesque backdrop. There is so much to do here. Robbin island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. This is a must do in my option. It is sad but very informative and it really is an eye opener. You must book it in advance as a boat is required to get you to the island. I can book this for you as part of your tailored trip. Green Market Square offers you traditional arts and crafts all locally made. It’s a market setting in the centre of Cape Town great atmosphere and a great day haggling with the locals. There are some lovely crafts on offer. The Waterfront is like Grafton Street with all the choirs and buskers out entertaining everyone. There are many shops and restaurants to explore, all siting on the water front. Table Mountain offers amazing views and a chance to experience a single rotating cable car that holds up to 80 people. It’s quite something. The journey up is as breath-taking as the view from the top. Its lovely to wonder around the top and to look down at the city below but check the weather before you go. Any sign of cloud, don’t waste your time as you will see nothing. Further afield you can take a day trip to the wine lands always handy as you won’t have to drive home after all the lovely wine you have tasted. The wine in South Africa is to die for and a fraction of the price we pay here in Ireland. You can also visit the tiny penguins on bolder beach about an 1hrs drive from Cape Town, Hermanus is also accessible by day trip or car to see the whales and if that’s not enough you can go further to the most southerly point in Africa, the Cape of Good Hope. The Garden Route is the coast line that runs from George to Port Elizabeth and I would recommend taking in Oudstoorn which is a little inland plus Knysna, Plettenburg bay. Oudtshoorn is approx. 40 mins drive from Knysna along a winding mountain road with lovely view. Oudtshoorn is home to the Cango Caves and the ostrich farms, where they breed and race the ostrich’s just like horses around at track or like camels are raced in the Middle East. If you are brave enough they will let you ride one around a pen. They are incredibly fast and riding an ostrich was never something I thought I’d do but it was a great experience and made for a very humorous afternoon. Although there is only approx. 30-40 minute drive between each town on the garden route it is necessary, and I recommend staying in each town for 1-2 nights. This allows you to visit all the places of interest around the area as well as the sights in the town you are staying in. There is just so much to do. For example, Knysna sits on the lagoon and offers sightseeing trips out onto the lagoon. The town of Knysna is quaint with shops and restaurants to walk around but you may also like to take the steam train from George to Knysna 20 mins away or go shark diving also 20 mins away in Mossel bay. Next up is Plettenburg bay. Plett, as it is referred to, sits right on the coast with a pretty beach and seaside town. There’s a lovely restaurant perched on the beach with amazing seafood dishes on offer. We stayed in Hog Hollow, an amazing property with amazing service and views. Keep in mind that swimming in the sea is a little dangerous as they do have great white sharks! It is however lovely for a walk. The Tsitsikamma National Park is nearby and offers mountain biking, horse riding, black water tubing and suspension bridges to explore. Your next big adventure is to go on safari. It was top of my bucket list and didn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend it. You have two options: 1. Continue down the garden route to the eastern cape and safari here in one of 4 private game reserves. These are approx. 1.5hrs from Port Elizabeth, they are malaria free zones which is a huge advantage. The animals have resided here for approx. 20 year and accommodation standards are high. 2. Fly up to Kruger National Park. This in my option is the real safari experience. The animals have traditionally lived in this area all their lives. The have their migration routes here and traverse back and forth depending on the season in search of food. It’s a vast area but you are just as likely to see the animals here including the big 5. It really is an authentic safari experience and was the absolute highlight of my trip. It is a little harder to get to as you require a flight from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg and onto Kruger but this is the main reason you get such a great experience. It is most definitely worth the journey. You can also visit the Blyde River canyon while you are visiting Kruger for a few days which is the 3rd largest canyon in the world. Overall, I could not recommend South Africa highly enough. It is most definitely one of the best trips I have ever taken, and not only did it tick the box on my bucket list it blew it out of the water.
14 August 2018
Fuerteventura is sometimes considered just another Canary Island and while it does have a lot of similar features and attractions to the other islands, personally I think it has a lot more to offer for both couples and families. Less commercial than its closet neighbour Lanzarote, this is one of the reasons I love it so much. Night clubs and loud music bars are really non-existent in the former fishing village of Corralejo. Fabulous beaches, upmarket restaurants, cocktail bars along the sea front and local children jumping from the pier is what’s it’s all about. Perfect for a relaxing break to recharge your batteries. For shopping there are great high street shops such as Zara, Mango and Bershka to explore but there’s much more to this island. The 11km of Dunes beach in the National Park is just amazing. One of the nicest beaches in the world in my opinion. Super fluffy white sand, clear blue seas and great waves. Fun for body boarding, surfing or kite surfing. Lessons are available for all abilities on the flag beach too so release your inner surf chick or become a fun Mum for the day! The interior of the island is also lovely. The landscape is dotted with dormant volcanoes. I counted 12 in view at one point. With clouds flying past us as we drove up the volcano road to meet Moroccan squirrels it was quite the sight. Fabulous mountain views, with a pretty church and playground in every town. Definitely a recommended day out, hire a car and explore. We had a lovely day. Star Wars fans take note too. The sandy deserts and the barren volcano backdrops of Fuerteventura made it the perfect location for filming the new Star Wars movie ‘Solo’. Filmed in Costa Calma in the south of the island. So here you have many great reasons to visit! Give me a call if you fancy exploring this Canary Island.
08 August 2018
*Updated March 2022* - The Anantara Iko Mauritius is a new hotel opened in September 2021. Anantara’s is the first Mauritius resort located near Blue Bay. Blue Bay hosts the best snorkelling and diving in Mauritius with a vibrant coral reef* Mauritius is a fabulously upmarket destination. White sandy beaches are the order of the day and really good food with lots of the hotels offering numerous restaurant choices in their all-inclusive packages. I’ve been lucky to travel to Mauritius twice over the years and view numerous hotels. Once in a work trip and the second when I returned for my Honeymoon. I enjoyed both trips so much. Mauritius is super for a honeymoon as many of the hotels offer a bride a 50% discount on their stay. It’s the only country I know that does this. It’s also a great combination with South Africa for a Safari or the city of Dubai. It’s a relatively compact island. You can get to most areas within 1 hour. The hotels are located in clusters on the North, South, East and West coasts. It is said that the West Coast is less windy as the mountain range which runs down the centre of the island therefore shields this coast somewhat form the Easterly winds. Having said that I have stayed on both coasts and I found very little difference to be very honest. The best time to visit is from May- December avoiding the typhoon season that runs from January - April. With many hotel choices here are the details on the hotels I viewed and stayed in to help you choose. Meridian I’ll Maurice - for wow ocean views on arrival. Their Deluxe Garden Ocean View rooms offer great value being on the ground floor overlooking the ocean. They allow you walk straight out your terrace to the white sandy beach. Heritage Awali - I stayed here on my Honeymoon. It’s a fabulous 5-star resort built low rise with thatched roves for a real Mauritian feel. The amazing spa village is a must for anyone staying here. A spa day out will never be the same. They also offer the bride a 50 % discount on her stay at different times of the year which is a fantastic help to any honeymoon couples’ budget. The beach front rooms offer an outside terrace that face the ocean and are as little as 10 steps to the sea. There’s a choice of fabulous restaurants too on their all-inclusive plus option. The food was amazing, the beach white and sandy and goes on for miles. Great kite surfing from the beach and if you’re a pool person you will not feel left out as the pool sits right on the beach. Lux Grand Gaube -I also stayed here on my Honeymoon. I had stayed here before and loved it so much I had to come back. I also liked that the location allows you to visit Grand Baie, a small resort type town with a few shops and restaurants. Keep in mind it’s highly recommended to stay on an all-inclusive based in Mauritius so you really only venture out for shopping or sightseeing. The hotel has recently been refurbished by Kelly Hopper. The property was fabulous before but now offers modern chic at its best. With 2 cove beaches and 3 pools there’s plenty of sun bathing options. Rooms are chic and all sea facing and there’s great live music in the evening that gives the resort a lively feel. Lux Belle Mar - On the East coast this property has the most amazing white sandy beach. The best in Mauritius in my opinion and one of the best in the world. The waves seem to wander in and out in a U shape and the water is clear and so blue it’s just dreamy. Again, recently refurbished it is looking it’s best. As before the food is amazing. The pool overlooks the beach and they have an outdoor cinema! Really cool. Don’t forget to take a day trip to Ile aux Cerfs. I’ve also visited the One & Only - Le St Gerain. The Maritim. The Belle Mar Plage, Tamassa and the Merville beach. So let me know if Mauritius is on your bucket list and I’ll help you pick the best hotel for your holiday needs.
19 September 2018
I chose Victoria falls and Chobi Game Reserve in Botswana for my honeymoon as I wanted to do something totally different whilst also having a luxury adventure and this fit the bill perfectly. We stayed at the Royal Livingston hotel, a 5 Star beauty on the banks of the Zambezi river. From the get-go I was enchanted. On arrival as I stood waiting for my new husband to exit the car, a black and white streak caught my eye. Moving slightly to look through the lobby I couldn't believe my eyes, two Zebra wandering the grounds of the hotel beside the swimming pool! A normal situation here I’m told but an amazing one for us and a fantastic start to our honeymoon. The hotel itself is just old-world style and fabulous service. You are allocated a butler to look after you on arrival. He will pack and unpack for you or iron your clothes. It was amazing but also a little embarrassing! Dinner was gorgeous and arrived covered with a silver serving dish. It felt very regal altogether. Plus, I was given a little stool to place my handbag on, so it didn’t get dirty from the floor, I really should have brought a designer hand bag with me. The hotel is a short walk along the Zambezi river to Vitoria falls. We chose to have a guide which was just as well as the force of the water cascading over the falls is phenomenal and a bit scary, so it was great to be guided. We heard all the stories of David Livingston, devils’ pools and headed back to the hotel for sunset sundowners overlooking the river which is full of hippos bobbing along. Just a blissful end to a fabulous day. You can take a day out to see animals, organised by the hotel, to local parks but as we were off to Chobi National Park we took full advantage of the hotel facilities. So on to Chobi and what a location. Situated on the river it allows you to do land-based safaris in the National Park and also river boat safaris which was a new way to safari for me and wonderfully exciting. We decided to book a private champagne boat safari which is a great way to see the hippo, the bird life, which I was surprised to like so much, it’s really unusual and the crocodiles. Talk about living the life, it’s a fantastic memory. Chobi National Park is famous for its hundreds of elephants. You won’t see lion here but as we had safaris in South Africa previously it wasn’t a problem. The big difference here in Chobi is the volume of animals you see. Thousands of Buffalo wildebeest feeding on the far side of the river in Namibia. We saw five families of giraffes, sixteen in total, all ages and heights, come to the river to drink and bolt across the plains at great speed when they noticed our Safari Jeep. It was a sight to behold. Both destinations are just amazing and can be combined with Mauritius for a beach break at the end of your adventure or perhaps Dubai. So, if your intrigued by these destinations, let me know and we can start planning your next adventure.
23 May 2018
Island hopping the Philippines: I was expecting white sand beaches and clear blue seas but what I got was much much more. There are 7,000 islands in the Philippines which increases to 7,700 when the tide is out! So, there’s a lot of exploring to be done. The three main geographical areas are Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. My trip took me around the beautiful Visayas. The Philippines is a modern place not like Thailand or Vietnam at all. Sleepy backwater, the Philippines is not. An island nation where each island has its own characteristics with many UNESCO heritage site and turquoise waters teaming with sea life, it is. Each island has its own beauty, sights and wow factors and each one is totally different from the other. It is this that makes the Philippines such a great island-hopping destination. English is the common language spoken by all Filipinos. They are educated through English in school so conversing with them is not a problem at all. This in turn leads to a stress-free holiday. From the chocolate hills of Bohol and the tarsier to the amazing snorkelling and swimming with turtles, this is a holiday full of excitement and WOW. I visited three of the most popular large islands, Cebu, Bohol and Negros Oriental. We also took in the more remote islands of Pamilacan, Balicasag and Sigujor on day trips, so it was a jam packed 10-night trip. Cebu is a busy spot with many international flights landing here. It’s a great alternative flight route to Manila. Best described as a city island. My advice is to stay a day or two, to get over your jet lag and get going to some of the more remote islands. Bohol is the 10th largest island and offers an array of attractions and is a great base to visit the outlying islands. Fabulous white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, the famous Chocolate hills, the Loboc river cruise for a lazy lunch along the river or zip line over the river. Plus visit the world’s smallest primate the Tarsier in the wild. There is so much to do here. Pamilacan Island and Balicasag Island are accessed by boat trip from Bohol. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing this is. It offers supreme coral reefs the best I’ve ever seen, and I’ve snorkelled on the great barrier reef! It was like swimming in an aquarium there were so many types of fish. I felt like I was practically swimming the Nemo movie. Clown fish and drop offs included. The Turtles in Balicasag are huge and estimated to be over 100 years old. Swimming with them and watching them eat and surface for air was unbelievable and I felt really privileged to be there with them. It’s one of the top experiences of my life to date. The whole experience was just amazing, and a must do. Negros Oriental and the city of Dumaguete offers a fabulous base for diving, with many of the Philippines big dive sights just a short boat ride away. Two dives a day are easily achievable or just snorkel on the Coral reef sanctuary just a few steps from the shore and in front of the resort. The Atmosphere Resort here is really special, offering high end accommodation in a tranquil setting on black sand beaches. This is also the best place to take a trip to swim with the whale sharks, as it’s just a short 30 min boat journey. Siguijor Island has fabulous waterfalls and is just 1 hr by ferry from Dumaguete. We had great fun here rafting to the waterfall, swimming in the clear waters and swinging from rope swings. The Philippines is an amazing diverse destination and I’d highly recommend it. No matter what the reason for your trip. It would make an amazing honeymoon or retirement adventure. But also, a fantastic family adventure or just for your next adventure. Let me know if I’ve tempted you. I’ll be back as soon as possible, after all I still must swim with the whale sharks off Dumaguette. Oslob here I come!
04 May 2018
With the launch of another big ship by MSC and another 6-8 to follow in the coming years it was time to get myself on the MSC Seaside to see what it had to offer. We decided to cruise from Miami on her to the Caribbean. Holding over 5000 passengers and crew, the ship is huge but this has its advantages with lots of facilities. Numerous bars, restaurants, speciality restaurants, splash park, 4 water slides, 3 pools, a zip line, basketball and soccer courts, bowing, outdoor cinema, spa and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something! It's the newest and largest ship in the fleet just launched in December 2017. It's fabulous the decor is lovely and modern, and our stateroom was lovely and surprisingly big for a ship, very modern and sleek. I loved the shows each night in the theater, a bit like watch all the winners on Ireland's Got Talent at the same time, a real production and the costumes are fantastic. There’s also a fantastic kid’s clubs which works well for both families and couples as you hardly see the kids! The staff on the ship are multi nationalities. They are lovely, very polite and happy to help you with anything at all. All speak English and our cabin attendant was really lovely and really looked after us well. Most of the guests on a MSC ship are European which makes a change for American guests. I found the food to be very good for breakfast and lunch in the buffet restaurants and the late-night pizza buffet was great too, the pizza handmade freshly even at 11pm. Dinner in the dining room was nice too but to be very honest a little bland. I could not fault the quality of the food as it was excellent just a little bland for my liking. I would recommend going with a fantastica experience as you can then dine in the buffet restaurants and the main dining room too. Having said that, I could not fault the overall experience based on the price we paid. MSC offer exceptionally good cruising rates and for what we paid we certainly had a magnificent holiday. It’s a lively ship with lots of music and numerous bars. Best of all the unique part of this ship is you can sit outside to eat or drink, day or night for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. This is very unusual on a cruise ship and very welcome as us Irish love to be outside when the weather is nice. We had a lovely time and I will certainly be cruising MSC again.
14 August 2018
*Updated March 2022* The Edge opened in NY in 2020. You can float mid-air more than 1,100 feet above the city with a 360 view, glass floors and a champagne bar that you can enjoy from 100 floors up. Tickets are now available to prebook* A lot of us have been to New York and if not, the Big Apple is high on our wish list. As I have been before we tried to do a few different things on this trip. Visiting in the winter months can be rewarding with less crowds but it can also be challenging with the weather. Top Tip: be prepared! It can be exceptionally cold, and the east coast does get a good bit of rain. We even had snow! Beautiful as it was it did limit some the attractions. Top of the Rock for example closed for 4 hours. Waterproof shoes are a must and a proper winter coat. I’d highly recommend the New York explorer pass giving you discounts of up to 50% on entrance prices. We took the Top of the Rock which I loved, great views over Manhattan and down over central park. The Natural History Museum which is where the 'Night of the Museum' is filmed, have a hugely impressive collection of dinosaurs for the young and the not so young. We also went for something totally different with a visit to the Intrepid – an American air craft carrier docked in New York on the Hudson, complete with helicopters, aircrafts and a submarine to explore, plus a US space shuttle. The sheer size of it was an eye opener. The three New York highlights for me were: Times Square - the lights are amazing with M&M and Hershey's world there to explore. Ellen’s stardust dinner in Broadway - serving American fair. It’s a unique dinner experience as talented boys and girls between jobs in Broadway or looking to break into Broadway serve you and take turns singing Broadway songs. I did expect the usual Disney songs but was impressed to hear Les Misérables and Chicago songs being sung to such a high standard. It’s a super night out and I would recommend it. It is however extremely popular, and you can queue to get in, so do go off peak to reduce the wait time. The best experience was our 'sights and bites' city tour. A new concept in city tours. They are run by locals so in this case a local New Yorker takes you around to places of interest but also to places you would never find on your own. Grand central station with its whispering wall, Urban Space with its collection of locally run restaurants and bars. What a find this was and nice to get away from the big food chains. Real New York Pizza at Robertas is $8.00 a beer and a pitcher of beer $20.00. City Kitchen in Time Sq was another interesting place with huge donuts $3.50 in all sorts of flavours and for peace and quiet and to get away from the noise of the city a visit to the Swedish church, I kid you not! Intrepid offer many of these tours in NYC which I can book for you. My only regret was I didn’t do more tours with them. There is so much to see and do in New York it really has something for everyone.
04 June 2020
I loved Miami and I will definitely go back. It is a gorgeous city on the beach and surrounded by water. Beach vibes and loads to do with the everglades on your doorstep too. Miami is often overlooked when choosing a city stay in the USA or it is often thought of as only a stopover point before you take a cruise, but it is much more. The tropical climate of Florida gives you that hot holiday vibe with high temperatures for most of the year. It offers you a beachfront holiday, lakeside adventures, history, and culture all in the one place. The beaches of Miami are found on the barrier islands that are separated from Miami on the mainland by Biscayne bay. This is where the famous South beach can be found. The hotels line the shore sitting on white sandy beaches. It’s a real Miami beach feel. Hotel can be pricey, but I do think it is worth staying here for a few nights to experience it. Most of the hotels offer sun loungers on the beach (at a charge) and beach service. This means you can order cocktails, nachos or pizza straight to you sun lounger which I loved. We stayed in the Grand Hotel right on the beach. It has two palm tree shaded swimming pools and hammocks hanging on the beach between the palm trees. The hotel is approx. 15 mins from South beach on the blue tram which is a free tram service into the city so it was very convenient. South beach is full of art deco buildings and it was interesting to see such old building in the USA as it’s a rarity. Unfortunately, many have been completely gutted on the inside and rebuilt so although the façade is old the interiors are new. Pros and cons to this but it is nice they kept the facades all the same. Another great place to stay is Biscayne Bay on the river. Lots of waterfront restaurants are situated here and its lovely to sit out and enjoy the views plus there are shops to browse. I’d highly recommend taking a cruise from Biscayne bay which takes you around the million-dollar homes of the rich and famous. It is a beautiful trip and leaves you dreaming of how the other half live and their fabulous riverside homes. Biscayne Bay is also very conveniently located to the cruise port so it’s a great place to spend a few days. There are loads of great day trips to take in Miami too. We took a tour to Little Havana. Little Havana is a neighbourhood in Miami with mostly Cubans living here, hence the name. Its complexly different to other areas of Miami with bright artwork, traditional hand rolled cigar making shops and traditional eateries. I loved Domino park, an outdoor park with domino tables. All the retired men in their 60’s and 70’s come daily to challenge each other to a game of dominos, it was great, there is a great atmosphere here and it’s taken very very seriously. The everglades are on your doorstep too and offer adventures into the swap. Take a day crocodile spotting on a swamp boat excursion. The swamp boats are great fun and I would recommend taking a trip. You could also do a two-centre trip from Miami and take in Key West for a few days taking a road trip down the famous seven-mile bridge. Miami is a great city it really has it all with beaches, city sights, nightlife, and swamp adventures. Great connections to the Caribbean and other US cities plus Aer Lingus now fly in directly. So, what are you waiting for?
05 February 2018
*Updated March 2022* Dubai Stars on the Dubai Walk of Fame is now open to the public. This new attraction is four times the size of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The first 400 stars are now in place* Also in 2022 the Dubai Expo will finally open and run until the end of March 2022. I have been lucky enough to have holidayed in Dubai 6 times now and have loved every trip. Dubai is one of my favourite cities on the beach, but it is also a great stopover destination with flights stopping here on the way to Australia, Thailand, Bali and Vietnam to name a few. I love that Dubai is city full of activity, high end hotels, fabulous service and great value gold. I am often asked what can I do in Dubai? So here are some of my favourite things to do that I recommend to my clients. • Take the lift to the 146th Floor of the Burj Khalifa for amazing views in the 2nd tallest building in the world • Visit the gold and spice souk for a trip through the old traditional sections of Dubai. • Take a traditional dhow boat across Dubai Creek • Visit the Irish village for live music and the craic • Watch the fountain show at the Dubai Mall 1.30pm and then every hour from 6pm. It’s fantastic. • Chill out with a beach day on Jumeriah beach and watch the sun set of the Atlantis hotel on the palm. • Visit the fab Lost Chamber aquarium at the Atlantis. If you are lucky you might see a diver doing the Dab! • Have lunch at the Cheese Cake Factory. • Make a date for Friday bunch at one of the many hotels and live it up. • Go shopping in the largest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall. • Go Ice skating while shopping at the mall or go Skiing in 32oC heat. • Take a Desert safari, drive the sand dunes, ride a camel and what the sun set over the desert. • Treat yourself to dinner in the Burj Al Arab one of the world’s 6-star hotels, it’s worth it. • Fancy a diamond; buy it in Dubai at the Gold and Diamond Park. Spend as much as you possibly can on your hotel they are amazing in Dubai and the service in the 5-star properties is second to none. Think about Dubai as a destination in its own right. I promise you there is absolutely loads to do and see, it’s the old and the new all rolled into one. Let me know if you are interested in adding it to you own trip on a stopover or just visiting this fabulous destination on its own, and I will be happy to put it together for you!
02 February 2018
Las Vegas has always been really popular with my clients it's a great combination as a two centre holiday with a Caribbean Island or with a US road trip along the Pacific Coast, but many of my clients think all you can do in Vegas is gamble! Here are some of the fabulous things you can do in Vegas that I recommend to my clients to enhance your experience. • Watch the fountain show at the Bellagio, its a fabulous show and reminded me of the fountains in the Dubai marina. • Take a trip to the top of the Eiffel tour for fab view of the strip while you fly around on the roller coaster. * Book a tour to take in secrets spots in Vegas, I loved this and particularly loved finding out about all the hiding speakeasy's around the town. This is a gem of a tour. * Go into the Bellagio to see their flower decorations, they really are something else. Christmas and Easter are really impressive displays. Go into any hotels for a look around, Vegas is one of the few hotels in the world that you are encouraged to come in for a look. So make the most of it. The chandelier in the Cosmopolitan's bar is worth checking out too. • See the volcanos erupt at the Mirage. * Get your fortune told by Zoltar as features in the movie Big. * Buy S'mores to see what all the fuss is about, Hersey's had a S'more cafe here. * Check out the meandering canals and gondolas in the Venice when you step into Venice. * Try the famous New York sandwich, pastrami on rye, where else but in the New York, New York food hall. • Buy a ticket to see a baseball game with the 51s Las Vegas • Take a scenic plane trip, bus trip or road trip to the Grand Canyon it doesn’t matter how you get there just go. I did the plane trip and the landscape is spectacular as you fly out to the Canyon and look down at the Colorado river meandering through the mountains. This was a real highlight for me and if you go in Dec you might even have snow at the canyon like we did. • Visit the Hoover Dam. • Zipline down Fremont Street on the Slotzilla. • Catch the Viva Vision light show on Freemont Street on the world’s largest video screen. • Take in one of the many Cirque de Soleil show on offer, they are expensive but they are worth the money. • Take a spin on the High Roller wheel for fantastic views of the city. • Visit the Neon Museum to see the historic lights of past casinos. This is really unusual and a step back in time. I would really recommend this. • Visit Death Valley. I have organised and booked many of these trips and tours for my clients, so you don't have to worry about it on arrival which in turn allows you more time to enjoy your trip. So, let me know if Vegas is on your list this year.
18 January 2018
*Updated March 2022* Elephant Hills had been awarded 'Best Luxury Tented Camps, Thailand', in 2019 by the Global brands magazine awards. These awards are for companies who have stood out among the industry, demonstrating exceptional service and unique vision* Elephant Hills is Thailand’s 1st luxury elephant camp. It allows you a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with the endangered Asian elephant. It is quite overwhelming really, as you are given the opportunity to get right up close and personal with the elephants. Their sheer size only becomes apparent when you are given the opportunity to wash them! We obviously weren’t doing a good enough job as our elephant decided to fill her trunk with water and take matters into her own hands, completely soaking us in the process! This only added to the enjoyment and fits of laughter! Later we were given the opportunity to feed the elephants. I don’t think I have ever seen so many pineapples, bananas and apples in one place to feed 12 hungry elephants! A truly memorable experience, I feel very fortunate to have been able to travel and spend time here. One for your bucket list, there are endless activities to do and places to see; kayaking, rope swings, jungle tents, amazing pool views, beautiful valleys, floating luxury tents and temples are all part of the experience here. After saying goodbye, it was back to the Elephant Hills camp to stay the night in our luxury tent - camping in style in the rainforest! A delicious dinner is served in a buffet style and the local school children showed us the traditional Thai dance, providing entertainment for the evening. In the morning we travelled to the River camp, a floating luxury camp on Choew Larn lake. I would recommend a 2-night stay, so that you can experience all the wonders this camp has to offer. The journey to the camp takes about 45 mins by long tailed boat with beautiful scenery. It is quite something when you arrive, both the restaurants and the river camp tents float on the river, allowing you to jump straight from your terrace into the lake. All rooms open onto a spectacular view of the lakes, lime stone mountains protrude from the water, I felt like I was in Jurassic park! The atmosphere here in very relaxed, chill out, take a swim or take a kayak to explore the lake and look out for monkeys! Elephant Hills offers a great adventure without having to exert yourself too much. It is a unique experience that I would highly recommend. If you would like to know more details, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
19 June 2018
*Updated March 2022* The Bangsak Merlin has changed hands and renamed Le Meridien Khao Lak Resort and Spa* It has been many years since I’ve been to Thailand and I had wondered if it had lost its charm? More tourism often means the beauty is lost, but I can honestly say this is not the case in Thailand it is a breath taking as ever. I decided to stay in Southern Thailand for this trip and visited the new resort of Khao Lak, the islands of Koh Lanta and Phi Phi, Krabi with its limestone Karsts, Phuket and Khao Sok National Park which allowed us to visit Thailand’s first luxury Elephant Camp. Khao Lak is a newer resort 1hr 15mins from Phuket heading North East along the mainland. It is here that you get the quiet empty beaches with magnificent sunsets. Hotels and beach bars stand side by side offering you both high end luxury and traditional Thai hospitality. We stayed in the Bangsak Merlin Resort and I found this area of Thailand to be very reasonable. Lunch at the Bangsak for 2 people was from €20.00 including drinks and €16.00 again including drinks at the beach restaurants. Massaman curry from €3.20, huge portions of tempura prawns from €3.20 and large beers from €2.70. The food was fabulous especially the Thai food but don’t fear, more regular food is offered such as omelettes, fresh fish and chips, chicken breast and spaghetti Bolognese. The Bangsak Merlin is a 4 star brand new property opened in Feb 17 and right on the beach. The rooms are lovely and large with large balconies that overlook the pool. Décor is modern and stylish and the beds were super kings. There’s lots to do locally and the hotel offered good access with a free shuttle bus into the bustling local market which takes place twice a week. Khao Lak also gives you easy access to Khao Sok National Park which will give you a great mix of soft adventure and beach. Koh Lanta was next a 5 hr journey by private mini bus and ferry to the island which I pre-booked with our suppliers. I thought it might be too long but with great roads and a pit stop on the way and the best scenery the time flew by. Koh Lanta is harder to reach and for this reason it is less crowed and has a new and upcoming feel to it. The beaches are gorgeous and you have many choices. If like us, you choose to stay in the Crown Lanta the beach is small but perfectly formed and great for snorkelling. Alternatively, the southern beaches in Koh Lanta are straight with shallow waters. I chose the Crown Lanta as it is different, the hotel sits on the cliff top surrounded on 3 sides by water. Their reggae bar faces the sea and the setting sun, it’s a fabulous place to chill out after a full day of sightseeing. Order a beer or dinner or both, lie down and chill while watching the sunset over Phi Phi’s two islands in the distance. Pure bliss! The main town is also only 10 mins away by Tuk Tuk allowing you to eat locally and experience the street markets and street food. The best of both worlds really. Phi Phi Island was next visited by speedboat for the day. My only regret on this trip was I didn’t stay on Phi Phi island for 3 or 4 nights. The islands are spectacularly beautiful. The sea is crystal clear, even with crowds in Maya Bay, which was the location for the film “The Beach” it was still a place of striking beauty. If we had stayed on the island they ran trip to Maya Bay at 6am this allows you to experience the bay before the visitors arrive from the mainland for their days out. The snorkelling is also super here and great diving too just an abundance of sea life to see there. The island of Phi Phi Don is busy, bustling town, a mix of tourist fair and local markets and lots of lovely restaurants. Personally, I think Phi Phi island should be on everyone’s Itinerary Krabi is busy, noisy and beautiful. Krabi itself is really a gate way to the island and the beaches hemmed in by lime stone karst mountains. Phi Phi island can be accessed from there too as can Bamboo island. Railey beach is just 30 mins around the headland by long tailed boat. Tickets can be purchased at the beach and the journey and the beach it’s self is quite spectacular. Qatar airlines are now flying into Krabi from Dublin with one stop in Doha on the way this will give great access to these southern islands but also to the Trang province which is still to be really explored. Elephant Hills – coming toward the end of our trip this was the stop I was most looking forward too and it did not disappoint. Elephant Hills is Thailand’s first luxury elephant camp. A luxury jungle camp based around luxury safari camps in South Africa, it allows you a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with the endangered Asian elephant. It’s quite over whelming really. You get right up close and personal with your elephant. Their sheer size only really becomes apparent when you are given the opportunity to wash them. Trying to reach the top of their backs with the water is difficult and we obviously weren’t doing a good enough job as she decided to fill her trunk and take matters into her own hands, completely soaking us in the process which only added to the enjoyment and fits of laughter. There is so much to tell you here I have written a separate blog to give you all the details. Phuket – Phuket was our last stop and since my last trip it has become very busy. If you like areas that are a little less busy but still have a few bars and restaurants locally like I do, I would highly recommend the Vijitt resort. It is a fabulous resort right on the coast with its pool overlooking the beach. It is tranquil and relaxing and suited perfectly after much travelling and sightseeing. I stayed in a prime pool villa a first for me, and boy was it amazing. We only stayed 2 nights but the pool villa really added to our experience and it is worth pushing out the budget even for 2 or 3 nights to have the pool villa at the end of your trip and finish on a real high. The food is fab here and the local restaurants are about 10 mins away and the hotel runs a shuttle. It’s a real retreat here so you may not even want to leave. We had an unforgettable time on this trip and I would highly recommend Thailand. It offers super value. Hotels standards are very high giving you better value for your travel spend then other countries. Thailand is busier since I last visited I don’t think this is a bad thing, it makes for a very easy and stress free holiday.
15 August 2017
I thought you might like to know a bit more about me before you can trust me with your trip of a lifetime. My name is André, yes it's French, but as I was born to two Dubs I have no idea how I ended up with a French name lol. I'm happily married to by best friend and we have two girls. I am living in the seaside town of Skerries, Co Dublin (which I love) and I grew up in Portmarnock Co Dublin which is also by the sea. So I am very fortunate. From a job point of view I think I have the best job. I create dream trips. I enable people to make special memories that will last a lifetime and I really think that is something special. Mind you this comes with great responsibility but I do have the knowledge and expertise required. I have specialised in the planning and creating of personalised long-haul and luxury holidays for 20 years now and I have loved every minute of it. Travel has always been the career for me. I relish learning about new and upcoming destinations, new hotels, new tours and new sites opening. My favourite experience at the minute is to take a Vespa food tour in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I love traveling and would travel for months on end if I could. Being in the industry has certainly helped me do this and it also allows me to offer a better service to my clients as you can actually speak to someone who has been to the destination and experience it themselves, which is invaluable. To date have travelled to; Botswana, Victoria falls, Zambia and Mauritius (On my own honeymoon) South Africa - Cape Town, Stellenboush, George, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Plettenburg bay, Mossel bay, Port Elizabeth, Kruger National Park, Blyde river Canyon, Mpumalanga. Seychelles - Mahe, Denis Island, Praslin, La Digue. Thailand - Koh Samui, Koh Phangnan, Koh Tao, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Khao Sok National park, Elephant Hills, Krabi, Khao Lak and Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Penang and the Perhentian Islands. Bali - Kuta, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Ubud & Lombok. Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh, Mekong Delta, Hui, Hoi An and Danang. Singapore, Hong Kong, Middle East - Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman The Maldives The Philippines, Cebu, Damagette, Bohol, Pamilacan island, Sigujor island and Manila. Cambodia - Siem Reap Japan - Toyko, Kyoto, Osaka North America -Orlando, New York, LA, Miami. Caribbean - Mexico -Yucatan Peninsula, Barbados. Australia - Perth, Monkey Mia, Melbourne, Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Fraser Island, Whitsunday Islands, Magnetic Island, Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Cape of Tribulation, Darwin, Kakadu National Park, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock. Europe - Italy, Sicily, France, Croatia, Malta, Czech Republic, Spain, Greece, Germany, Turkey the Canary Islands and Portugal taking in Porto, Lisbon and the Algarve. Next on my list is a safari in Tanzania and a beach break in Zanzibar. I've seen loads, loved it all and made some amazing memories long the way. My travel plan now is to open my children's eyes to the wonders of the world. I want to show them the amazing beaches on the Thai islands, see elephants in the wild, or let them experience snorkelling on a coral reef. Meeting people from different cultures and seeing new things I believe this opens the mind which can never be a bad thing. I think everyone should have the opportunity to see and experience some of theses fabulous places. So that's me, surrounded by travel, dreaming of exotic destinations constantly and traveling as much as I can and enjoying every minute of my job. Let me know if you will trust me to look after your special trip. I promise it will be a great one. Chat soon André
20 October 2016
I'd never been to the Seychelles and had only heard good things. Given that a large part of my business is organising and planning unique honeymoons, I decided it was time to find out for myself if this paradise island lived up to its reputation. The Seychelles are the world’s oldest oceanic islands of granite rock. It is the granite that gives the Seychelles their unique beaches. To say I was blown away by the beauty of these beaches is a complete understatement. They are breath-taking and each one is unique with white powdery sand and a sea that is just the most amazing turquoise colour. You really feel as though you have fallen into a picture postcard. The Granite boulders set the scene and frame each beach which in turn allows each beach and island to be unique. I did try many times to capture the beauty of the beaches and the sea in a photo but I am not sure that the true beauty and untouched feel of the Seychelles is really captured in any of them, they really do need to be seen to be believed. We visited four islands: Denis Island, Mahe, Praslin and La Digue which is my favourite. Mahe island has the smallest capital city in the world, Victoria. It has both long white sandy beaches in the Beau Vallon area and bolder lined beaches in the North. We stayed at the Savoy, a 5 star resort opposite the beach with a fabulous pool - which happens to be the largest swimming pool in the Seychelles. The beach here is long and crescent shaped and the fishermen still land their catch here from huge nets dragged in from the sea by hand. Then the chefs arrive from then nearby hotels to buy this fresh catch. It was a great sight to see. We also stayed at the Carana hotel, a boutique hotel on the north of the island, right on the beach. The Carana offers individual villas all facing the sea. A modern luxurious feel and amazing seas views greet you from your balcony and also from its two restaurants. I will be back here for sure. Praslin was next, which we reached by a small aircraft. Air Seychelles have a fantastic network of flights between the island which makes the island hopping very easy and accessible. The 13 seater aircraft takes just 15 mins to get to Praslin and flies you over the islands of the Seychelles on your way. It was another adventure I loved. Unfortunately, we only had a short time in Praslin and we didn’t get to see as much as we hoped but we were very excited about our next stop - the island of La Digue. La Digue for me was the Jewel in the crown. The island is only reachable by ferry from Praslin. It’s a short journey of just 15 mins. On arrival, the first thing that catches your attention is everyone is on a pedal bike. There are only 15 cars in total allowed on this island. It is a laid back island which is very flat and so a bike is the perfect way to explore the island. The Bounty add was filmed here back in the day on what is now the most photographed beach in the world ‘Anse Source D’argent.’ It is the most beautiful place and yes, I did take about a thousand photos trying to capture it. The sea, the sand, and the rock formations that speckle the beach. I wanted to stay here and if I was to visit again I would most definitely stay on this island. The cycle to the beach takes approximately 20 mins. It’s very easy going and along the way you can stop to see the 50 giant land tortoises. The Domain le Orangeraie is another favourite place to stay. The 4 and 5-star standard of accommodation in the Seychelles is just fabulous with high-end quality, good service, great food and modern and warm rooms. The Domain is truly a 5 star resort and is worth spending 3-4 nights. I would highly recommend a trip to the Seychelles! It is not as expensive as everyone thinks. I would also recommend staying on a half-board basis where breakfast and dinner is included as local restaurants are non-existent. A glass of wine is approx. €7.50 and a beer €5.50, very similar to Irish prices. It was a trip of a lifetime for sure and one I won’t forget for a very long time! A fabulous combination would be a 3-night stay in the Kruger national park on safari in South Africa and then fly on to the Seychelles for some rest and relaxation and easy adventure and perhaps some shopping on the way home in Dubai. Just one of the many combinations I can think of.
14 October 2016
Denis Private island, what can I say to do this island justice. Well, breath-taking is the very first thing to say about this island and amazingly beautiful is the second! I was truly blown away by the natural beauty of this island. White sandy beaches, clear blue skies and an amazing turquoise warm sea, absolute bliss. Even arriving on this island is a unique experience. There is a single flight each day, a small 13 seater aircraft which flies you over the islands of the Seychelles on a 30-minute adventure and lands you on a grass airstrip that splits the island in two. I was completely taken aback by the natural beauty of the island. The sea is an amazing turquoise colour, a turquoise I have never seen before anywhere in the world and I’ve been to quite a few places now. It was a truly captivating colour and crystal clear. With just 25 private villas on this island all with beach access, it is very exclusive and very private. Each villa has its own fabulous outdoor bathroom with an outdoor shower plus a roll top bath. In some villas, there is also a private massage bed where a therapist can be booked for a daily message in the luxury of your own villa. A luxury get away from it all, an island paradise you could say. You have the full run of the island. Explore by foot or bike or even take a guided tour like we did across the 375 acres which comprise Denis Island. It is completely unspoilt and full of bird life. Your guide will bring you through the beaches of the islands pointing out where the sea turtles are regularly seen swimming off shore, through the coconut plantations that once covered the whole island and then onto the farm. The farm is another unique part of this island, it allows Denis Island to be self-sufficient. Using the farm, the island can produce meat, chicken, cheese, eggs, vegetable and fresh fish from the sea all of which are seriously fresh and delicious. You won’t have a phone signal on Denis Island or in room internet access, but this is the charm of this place. Your mind is clear to take in the beauty of this paradise. Diving, snorkelling, sunbathing and fishing are the main activities of the day with fantastic food and service to fill in the gaps. Swimming with the sea turtles is a must do and there are little signs around the island showing you where the turtles have laid their eggs and when they are due to hatch. You might even be lucky enough to catch the newly born turtle dash to the sea. It is a breath-taking, unspoilt place and you can’t quite believe you are here and that you have the beaches to yourself. I would love to come back here one day, it really is a special place and definitely should be on everyone’s bucket list. Then just when you think you’ve seen it all, its time to meet Toby - the 118 year old giant tortoise and his friends. It really doesn’t get much better than this!
08 August 2018
*Updated March 2022* This new attraction, The Quintessence of Tonkin is located 25 km West of central Hanoi. The Quintessence of Tonkin’s unique stage has been set up on Baara Land. The Quintessence of Tonkin delivers audiences a unique and memorable exploration of the Red River Delta and its people – the beating heart of northern Vietnam* Vietnam was always a place I fancied going but in all honestly I thought it would be like Thailand. How wrong I was and what a fabulous surprise Vietnam was. Thailand is a firm favourite of mine but I have to say Vietnam is every bit as good, different and diverse and even better in some parts. The first thing to hit you when you arrive in Ho Chi Ming City is the shear amount of motorbikes. The whole city is full of them and the trick seems to be how many people or things you can get on one bike at any one time! From 2 adults, 2 kids and a baby to a 6 foot ladder being carried on a bike you will see it all and it certainly makes for great people watching. The city itself is quite European in style as a lot of their oldest buildings were built by the French so it is very pretty. There is great sightseeing and great market shopping too. Best of all there is no real pressure on you while you are bargaining for that handbag, shirt or dress as the people are really lovely and have a really calm way about them. Plus they are always smiling. We headed off to see the Chu Chi Tunnels which is a must and quite an eye opener considering the tunnels would really only fit a small spaniel down them! These tunnels were used for men to hide and move through for a number of years. It is also very interesting the way in which they hid the smoke coming from the kitchens so they wouldn’t be discovered, everything was thought of and quite amazing to see. The tunnels are approximately 1 hour from Ho Chi Ming City. Next we headed off to the Mekong Delta and I loved it here. It is about 3.5 hours from Ho Chi Ming but well worth the journey. The people work the land; trade on the river and the boat just carries you along. We cruised the Mekong taking in the daily coming and goings of people at work and then stopped for lunch at a local house where we got to taste the local speciality of Elephant Ear Fish caught that morning. Next we took to our bikes and cycled through the local villages as the children headed for school. The children were delighted to see us with absolutely every child shouting ‘hello’ as we passed and waiting for our ‘hellos’ in return. We cycled all through the villages over small hump back bridges, across paddy fields watching the farmers in their triangle hats tending their field of rice. It was really enjoyable and should be on your list of things to do. We also cruised the Mekong in small Sampan boats to get us into the smaller tributaries of the Mekong which was lovely. Topping it all off with a stay in the Mekong riverside lodge on the banks of the Mekong which had rooms on stilts over the water just a fabulous way to end a great day. The food in Vietnam is amazing. Everything is freshly prepared and cooked while you wait. There is never a problem getting looked after and the tastes are just gorgeous. You often hear the stories of unusual delicacies they eat in Vietnam but I can honestly say we didn’t come across any and the food was so good and fresh it was mouth-watering and always plenty of it. Heading next to central Vietnam we visited Hue and Hoi an. Hue is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which houses the Imperial City and Citadel, here is the best place to learn about the old Nyguyen Dynasty and the French invasion. My favourite spot was Hoi An, what a beautiful town.Tthe streets are cobbled and lined with lanterns which are lit in the evening time which added to the romantic feel. There are loads of historical buildings here and sights to see and the beaches of Hoi An and Danang are only 20 minutes away. Hoi An really captured me from the cobbled streets to the Japanese Bridge and Chinese Temple to the lanterns which are very unusual. The food and choice of restaurants were just fabulous and the shopping was great. Hoi An is famous for its tailoring and when I say they can make you anything they really can make you anything, all you need is a picture from your favourite magazine, within 24 hrs and you have your new garment. If you like a busier night and some night life they have everything from large disco bars to floating bar boats on the river with live music. The beaches of Hoi An and Danang are also fabulous and offer a great way to finish off a trip. White sand beaches, the sea lapping at your feet with great food and weather. What more could you ask for. To me Vietnam is sightseeing and adventure without having to let go of the luxury.
10 October 2013
*UPDATED March 2022: Tamarind beach resort by Elegant resorts is converting to a “premium all-inclusive resort.” Tamarind is one of seven Elegant resort properties in Barbados which I have visited myself, including The House, Colony Club, Treasure Beach, Crystal Cove, Waves Hotel and Spa and Turtle Beach* I wasn’t sure what to expect from this tiny Caribbean island at just 21 miles by 14 miles wide! It did seem small but as the Bajan people refer to it as ‘21 miles long and a smile wide’ I reckoned we were off to a good start. The first thing you notice when you arrive is how nice the beaches are; they really are picture perfect with turquoise seas and white sandy beaches just like you see in the brochures. Although you can just chill out at the beach or the pool there are great water sports facilities in each of the hotels. If you stay on an all-inclusive basis, which I would highly recommend, all the non-motorised water sports are included in your stay and in some hotel the banana boat rides are free too. We stayed in some of the Elegant Hotels while visiting Barbados and my favourite by far would be Crystal Cove. It is upmarket without being stuffy, quite modern and chic but also has fabulous staff and great rooms and the food here was also really good. They also have a cave bar and to get to it you have to swim under a water fall which was really unusual and great fun. The pool area is funky with a restaurant overlooking the beach which was just gorgeous. A short stroll down the beach is an area where you can swim with sea turtle’s - which is a must. It really was a week of firsts for me as I learnt how to do so many things. The variety of activities on this tiny island was exceptional. We learnt to surf, stand up paddle board and play polo on horseback. We ZipLined though the rain-forest, swam with sea turtles and if that wasn’t enough visited the famous coral caves, recorded a CD, went rum tasting and took a catamaran cruise. So there really is something for everyone in Barbados. One of the things I liked best about Barbados was the Bajan people; they are such good fun, always in good form and also happy to have a chat and a giggle with you. They have a very similar sense of humour to the Irish and they get “the craic”. Everyone was lovely from the hotel reception to the waiter to the dancing chef to the local guys on the beach whose patter was fabulous and made you smile rather than cringe when they were trying to sell you something. It really made the trip for me. I would recommend staying on an all-inclusive basis for value for money, but you must also visit the local town of Oistin’s because on Friday, Saturday or Sunday night they have a cook out. The local restaurants cook outside on huge BBQs and all the locally caught fresh fish is BBQ’d up. We had Shark fish, Marlin, Red Snapper, Shrimp and Mahi Mahi; the selection was enormous and extremely tasty. It is very rustic and everyone sits at picnic benches and it is a great experience with great atmosphere and live music too. It is also possible to stay in Barbados on a bed and breakfast basis and dine in the local restaurants. The restaurants are lovely but a little expensive and depending on where you stay, you might need a taxi down in the evening to the local town for dinner. All in all it is a fabulous destination that I would highly recommend. It also makes a lovely combination with New York if you should fancy a bit of shopping or city buzz on your trip. Call me for more details.
07 December 2018
*UPDATED March 2022: Fairmont Century Plaza due to open in Oct 2020 will be LA's newest hotel. Guests will be able to enjoy a French brasserie and rooftop bar. San Diego also got a newly renovated hotel. A $21 million makeover, the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa at Mission Bay Park will become the San Diego Mission Bay Resort. This will be a great addition to the area with a chic modern style and poolside fire pit* I am just back from my second visit to Los Angeles and all I can say is everyone should see it at least once. There is so much on offer in California, from designer shopping on Rodeo Drive to the theme parks of Disney and Universal Studios, Hollywood to the gorgeous beaches of Santa Monica. It is the perfect destination to have a two-centre holiday, a city and beach without the hassle of taking a second domestic flight. The hotels are excellent, and the food was fantastic. I can honestly say we did not have one bad meal the whole time we were there. It was lovely to stay in the Beverly Hilton, one of the iconic hotels in LA and enjoy the fact that the Golden Globes are held here each year and the roof top function room will hold one of the after-show parties for the Oscars. It is only a ten-minute walk from Rodeo Drive and again it is great to experience what we see and hear about in the media regularly - it really is a different world. I would recommend staying two to three nights in LA in Beverly Hills and visiting Rodeo Drive, taking a tour of Beverly Hills to see where the movie stars live and also visit Hollywood to see the iconic Hollywood sign that sits above the city and the avenue of the stars. Santa Monica: Santa Monica to me was California as I had pictured it; sun, sea and sand. It was just like Baywatch with beautiful people cycling and rollerblading down the promenade that runs the whole length of the beach, with bars and restaurants dotted along the way and shops and boutique to venture into. There is also the famous Venice Beach with its open-air gym on the beach. Rocky would not look out of place working out here. New Port Bay: We also visited New Port Bay which is approximately 60-90 minutes from LA, a really beautiful relaxed town which caught me by surprise. Everything is usually so big in the US it was nice to find a town that feels relaxed and calm but still has charm. With shops and fantastic restaurants, including the best restaurant I have ever had the pleasure to eat in. It was call Tamarind; a Michelin starred Indian restaurant and if you do nothing else while here you will be delighted with the experience. New Port Bay is on the beach where the movie ‘Beaches’ starring Better Midler was filmed and the house that Bette Midler stayed in is still here on the beach. It’s worth a look; the beach is lovely, and you can have lunch on the beach too. It also has one of the largest harbours with waterfront homes in the area and you can take a trip on the water for a couple of hours which is lovely. The Resort at Pelican Hill: For that special treat or special occasion, I cannot recommend more highly ‘The Resort at Pelican Hill’ in New Port Bay. It is really a property for a magical experience. The food, service and quality of accommodation are magnificent, and the pool area and spa were breath-taking. They also have an award-winning golf course. The resort has been voted as the best resort hotel in the USA which is really saying something. I would love to go back, and it would be a lovely finish to a honeymoon or a cruise or a busy sightseeing trip. California has really impressed me. It is a must see and it can also be combined with many other US cities. It is so diverse, you can find something to keep any member of the family entertained; there really is something for everyone. I am intrigued now and want to see more! Give me a call on 01 8105919 to start planning your California Dream trip.
23 May 2012
*UPDATED March 2022: Previously scheduled to reopen July 1st, 2020, Now Natura Riviera Cancun will now open Sept. 15th, 2020. Now Natura Riviera Cancun will now becoming Dreams® Natura Resort & Spa. I've stayed in the Dreams properties as you can see below so this addition will be fabulous* With all the talk about Mexico I thought I should get out and see if it was as good as they were saying. All I can say is it was better! A lot of emphasis is put on the fabulous 4 and 5 star All Inclusive resorts in Mexico which are really great and luxurious and I absolutely would recommend you stay in one but there is a lot more to it. It was lovely to travel to a country which has plenty of culture, history and great natural beauty. The Mexicans have great Mayan history and the temples of Tulum and Chichen itza are really something and well worth a day trip or if like us you choose to stay in Dream Tulum you are only 30 minutes away from the ruins so a lovely afternoon spent away from the hotel. From zip lines through the rainforests to Cenote which are large natural sinkholes in the ground that you can swim in plus scuba driving from shore; the Mexican Riviera really has something for everyone. We stayed in 3 of the Dreams Properties Dreams Tulum, Dreams Rivera and Dream Canun and although most people would feel this is too much packing and unpacking I would always recommend my clients to stay in 2 different places along the Mexican Riviera as it is so diverse. Each beach seems to get more impressive as we moved hotel. All the Dreams properties are directly on the beach and they are all white sandy beaches with palm trees and blue sparkling sea. The Dreams resorts are fabulous the rooms are large the food is great and the service is with a smile. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about the All-Inclusive option as I had never experienced it before. All I can say was it was fantastic the quality of the food was great, the presentation was great and the service was great! I really couldn’t recommend it enough. Most importantly we had no additional expenses while we were away bar the few day trips we took. Needless to say this is very appealing to lots of people. Dreams have great kids clubs which are so well run and the children are so well entertained that they won’t want to leave. It is this that enables the properties to cater for all holiday makers from families to honeymoon couples and everyone in-between and remember it is possible to combine Mexico with New York or Las Vegas or even Cuba.
07 April 2016
*UPDATED March 2022: The W hotel is due to open a new property in Ubud, W Bali – Ubud. This will be the 2nd W Hotel in Indonesia, following the opening of W Bali – Seminyak almost 10 years ago. The W hotels have been refereed to as the worlds coolest hotel brand. The hotel is due to open in 2020* Bali is a beautiful island with everything you would expect from a tropical island but it also has much more to offer. Beautiful beach plus the whole interior of the island is rainforest, there are amazing paddy fields and they also have a volcano! The combination of temples, rain-forest, paddy fields and beaches plus its outlying islands. This makes it a lovely diverse destination. Most come for the beaches which are gorgeous, but many also come because Bali offers great value for money. There are many hotels to choose from, each one nicer than the last, The best news is that the standard of accommodation in Bali is very high. Bali also has the same summer season as ourselves here in Ireland so it is high season in Bali from May to September with highs of 31 degrees. This makes it a great destination for anyone tied to taking their holidays in our summer months and also for couples getting married in the summer as it is a perfect honeymoon destination. We spent a week on the beach and also stayed three nights in Ubud which is in the centre of the island. You are surrounded by rain-forests and paddy fields and it is a great base to explore from. The Monkey temple with its reclining gold Buddha and monkeys, made a fun day out. A trip to see the volcano is also a must and you can stop for tea or a quick bite to eat in a little restaurant with one of the best views I have ever encountered. The restaurant sits overlooking the volcano and the lake below with the clouds floating b, it was gorgeous. There are many sights to be seen and a quick look on Instagram will constantly show you new ones. The local guides are usually happy to take you anywhere you wish to go, from temples carved in to the side of cliff faces to temples on island, waterfalls and cliff drives there is loads to see and do. I would recommend booking a guide before you go so you have a plan and don't miss out. Ubud itself is an interesting town with lots of shops and restaurants and if you ever wanted to furnish your home with Balinese furniture this is the place to buy and they will organise shipping for you. There are many outlying islands from the Gili islands to Lombok which we visited. We took a flight over which I would recommend as the boats are quite long. Lombok is much more laid back than Bali, it's a real chill out zone and has and amazing coastal drive with stunning views and I really liked it here. All in all it is a beautiful island with friendly locals and great food and service offering a great choice of hotels for all budgets. There are also great options for you to include another city on the way to Bali too as it is quite a long way. Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and Hong Kong all offer great connections to Bali so you can see two places for the price of one which is always great.
07 April 2016
*UPDATED March 2022: Centara Grand Beach Resort closed for major renovations in mid-2019 and reopened in 2020. It is one of the oldest properties in Koh Samui with a great beach front location. I am excited to see how it looks now it is finished* I always said I would only visit a country once as there are so many places in the world to see, this however when out the window as soon as I landed in Thailand. Thailand is everything you imagine it to be and much more. The people are very friendly and delighted to have you come to visit, the food is magnificent and the sights are straight out of a photo book. Bangkok is most definitely a love hate city, I loved it, you see things in Bangkok that you will see nowhere else in the world. Elephant’s walking down the main streets, huge temples covered in gold leaf and tiny pieces of coloured cut glass that shin and sparkle in the sunlight and markets to tempt even the most reluctant of shoppers. The floating market is a must and although we as tourists visit it, it is a working market to sell goods to the people who live along the river. It’s basically a floating supermarket but so much prettier. All the boats have a product to sell you have the butcher with his butchers block in the boat on which he chops up a pigs head you have the flower girl with a fantastic selection of fresh flowers and most impressive a woman who was frying biscuits in a large pan of hot oil while floating on the river she also had her face covered in flour, I presumed to stop the splashing oil damaging her skin it was truly brilliant sight. We stayed in the 5 star Shangri La hotel on the river which was fantastic value and a luxurious base. Koh Samui is one of my all-time favourite places I have now been back to Koh Samui 3 times. It is only a 1 hr flight from Bangkok .The island has fabulous white sand beaches. The palm lined beaches are picture perfect with the palms lying a little crocked as the wind pushed them in the same direction all the time. It is exactly as you would imagine a tropical island in your head. The sunsets are out of this world and for the first time in my life I got up for a sun rise and it was beautiful. There is a wide variety of restaurants in Koh Samui so you can eat very cheaply with everything from pizza and pasta to Thai fish dishes and streaks. The hotels are also a huge factor as the standard if extremely high and the cost for this high quality is quite low. We stayed it the Amari Palm Reef. A 3 star hotel in Thailand would be considered to be a 4 star hotel in Ireland. You really can live in luxury in Thailand on a tight budget. Chiang Mai offers adventure Hilltribes, Markets which are cheaper than Bangkok, rain forest and Elephants. Like most couples my husband likes to be busy for a portion of the trip and does not like to spend 2 weeks lying on the beach Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui offer sightseeing and shopping to start the trip and luxurious beach to end keeping all parties happy, which is very important especially on honeymoon! I think it is the combination of great food and drink, high standards of accommodation and friendly helpful staff with the option of adventure that make Thailand a truly magical place and one I am sure I will keep returning.
Co Kildare 07/04/2022
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