Sent by Nicola Tougher
Based in Athy
Welcome to my webpage, if you have some time, please read on to find out some more about me. I've been working in the travel world for over 20 years and 14 years as a Luxury Travel Counsellor providing a specialist travel concierge service. Travel has always been a part of my life since I was 14 years old after I took my first foreign holiday to Spain on my own to visit some Spanish friends! This is when I got the travel bug and wanted to see the world.
I've been creating dream holidays for almost 2 decades and it is my absolute passion! Imagine settling in to an over water villa in the Maldives with views over the sparkling Indian Ocean or a stunning luxury suite in St Lucia with views out over the dazzling blue Caribbean Sea! Or a family getaway where the kids play freely with their new found friends while you relax and put your feet up knowing everything has been arranged perfectly. These are the experiences I can create for you, so you can experience your own happy memories that will last a life time.
As your Travel Counsellor, I offer a personalised service for all types of travel both leisure and corporate. I am committed to offering the highest levels of customer service and am available to you throughout the day, in the evenings, as well as weekends. I am here to work with you to help you arrange your perfect trip down to the finest detail.
Let me take the hassle out of researching and booking your holiday. After we chat on the phone where I learn about your expectations and what you would like from your holiday, I can take that worry off your shoulders by offering you a friendly, professional and personalised service and by combining all my experience, give you the best value and choice for your money.
With my wealth of travel experience, I can provide first hand advice on all types of holidays. I'm an expert on honeymoons to all the best and most exclusive destinations e.g. Mauritius, Seychelles, Dubai and in the Caribbean St Lucia, Aruba, Barbados and can advise on practically every European city break and beach resort.
Having travelled extensively throughout Europe and around the world to destinations such as Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Canada, USA, Caribbean, the Middle East and lots more. I would be very happy to use my vast experience and knowledge to make all your travel dreams come true.
For a friendly chat to discuss your next adventure, please don't hesitate to call anytime!
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:
Exquisite taste and exotic views will capture your heart at Secrets Moxché. Escape into luxury™ in the heart of the Riviera Maya.
Kuredu Resort Maldives is a gorgeous vibrant resort, with a stunning lagoon, fringed by white sandy beaches. Excellent for families, couples or friends.
The incredible Celebrity Edge has revolutionised big ship cruising without compromising on luxury. I hope you enjoy this short video. Call 059 8633 836
Wellness retreats don’t get much more exclusive - or decadent - than the Amanzoe. Contact me today on 059 8633 836
As the world of travel starts to gather pace again, the islands of the world are opening up! From the Maldives to Mauritius and the Caribbean to the Seychelles
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.
14 September 2021
With the reopening of travel from Ireland to the rest of the EU and beyond since the 19th July 2021, most people were still a bit apprehensive about travelling during a pandemic but as our confidence grows again and planes, airports, resorts and cruise ships reopen and restart their businesses, travel is bouncing back stronger and safer than ever!! Let me put you at ease and tell you from my own first hand experience, travelling is much the same as it's always been with a few small exceptions for the times we're in. There is just a handful of things to do that take no time at all and are only the tiniest bit of inconvenience for the greatest of reward - a well earned holiday! From my own recent experience travelling through Dublin Airport, I can attest to the fantastic measures put in place by the DAA to ensure all passengers safety. The departures hall was very busy, so I strongly recommend arriving to check in for your flight or to drop your bags at the bag drop desk at least 3 hours in advance. To travel within the European Union (EU) as an Irish resident, you only need one of three things for all passengers aged 12 and over: 1) An EU Digital Covid Certificate showing proof of vaccination at least 14 days prior to travelling 2) A certified negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of your arrival into your chosen EU destination 3) Certified proof of recovery from covid-19 within the last 6 months All EU countries, including Ireland, require you to fill out a Passenger Locator Form at least 24 hours prior to travelling. So if you're going to Spain, you must fill out this form for the Spanish Authorities and on your return to Ireland, you must fill in this form at least 24 hours before you arrive home. For children under 12, they do not require a vaccine or any negative tests. Please ensure you check the correct requirements at least 10 days before you travel and again even closer to your departure date as rules can change at relatively short notice. As a business that places customer care at the fore, I want to ensure I provide customers with useful guidance and trusted sources of advice so that they can have the best travel experience possible. This is of course more prevalent than ever in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted the way we travel and the revised measures travellers need to be aware of around their safety and wellbeing. Due to the ever-evolving nature of the current travel advice and country specific restrictions and requirements, I strongly advise all customers to review the latest DFA travel advice on https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/ for up to date information about the destinations they are planning on travelling to. So, in a nutshell, if you're vaccinated, you're good to go and you just need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form for your destination and your return to Ireland. If you need a PCR test, book it within 72 hours of travel. Once you receive a negative test and fill in the Passenger Locator Form, you're good to go! It really is that simple! Of course, when you book, I'll always be available to assist you wherever possible. It's time to start planning your well earned holiday. Get in touch today and I can arrange your perfect trip.
16 September 2021
I was invited by Norwegian Cruise Lines to spend 4 nights on board the Norwegian Epic cruise ship as part of their return to sea test cruise and it didn't disappoint. This was my first getaway since the pandemic kicked off. It had been 18 months since I left the country and I was super excited to be travelling again and on a cruise, one of my favourite holidays. All guests must be fully vaccinated against covid-19 to cruise. You must fill in Passenger Locator Form for the Spanish authorities 24 hours before you travel to Spain. This is all very easy to do and only takes a few minutes on your smart phone. We sailed out from Barcelona and from the moment we arrived at the port, the Norwegian Cruise line staff were amazing. Their friendliness, professionalism and courteous manner were second to none. The pre-cruise procedures were simple and easy to follow. When we arrived at the port, we had to take a rapid antigen test, this took 10 minutes and once a negative result was received, we were whisked through to the check in desks. Check in was a breeze, quick and easy. To keep things running smoothly, check in online at least 10 days pre-departure so you can add an extras you might like on board or pre-book your speciality dining. More about the dining later. Once on board, our stateroom was a Balcony Ocean View on deck 12. The room was nicely decorated and comfortable, Its an unusual shape and felt a little on the small side but it was more than adequate and had all the necessary storage required too. Our first day and a half were spent at sea, so we had ample time to wander around the ship and sample all the culinary delights, the plethora of bars, the shopping and the unforgettable entertainment! I never enjoyed the entertainment on board a cruise as much as I did on Norwegian Epic. The theatre shows were Pricilla Queen of the Desert, the bands in the various venues around the ship, the dueling piano guys were great! But the duo that stole the show with their Tina Turner tribute were Fire and Ice from Barbados, just WOW! When it came to dining on board, the choices are excellent! With the freestyle concept on Norwegian Cruise Lines, there are a host of restaurants from main dining, to Asian cuisine that you can just walk up to and get a table. I recommend the Shanghai Asian dining, the food here was gorgeous! For the speciality dining, I would highly recommend Le Bistro and La Cocina restaurants. They are the ultimate in fine dining on this ship and the food was outstanding. I strongly advise you prebook these well in advance, as they tend to book out! During our sea days, we spent them lazing in the sun on the top deck, drinking cocktails, listening to the live music on deck and taking full advantage of the on board water park! Talk about releasing my inner child! Kids and adults alike will have an absolute ball on this ship. We docked in Cagliari, Sardinia on our 3rd day. The evening before we arrived, the Italian authorities required everyone to fill in a Passenger Locator form. To disembark the ship at this port, we had to pre-book a ship excursion. Cagliari is a stunning city and worth a day trip. After our next day at sea, again sampling the culinary delights on board and even more cocktails in the sun, we sailed back to Barcelona. Just one more arrival passenger locator form to fill in for the Spanish Authorities and one for the Irish authorities and we were all set for home. I thoroughly enjoyed Norwegian Epic and will highly recommend this ship for families or couples looking for a relaxing ship, with amazing food, fabulous premium drinks package and the staff are probably some of the best I've ever encountered on a cruise! If you're planning a cruise, please get in touch any time. Norwegian Cruises have some excellent ships, itineraries and offers for their sailings throughout the Mediterranean, Caribbean and far flung destinations around the world.
16 September 2021
This was probably my most anticipated holiday ever! I have dreamed of visiting the Maldives ever since I became a travel agent almost 20 years ago! Of course, the Maldives didn't disappoint and I am longing to return for a longer visit next time! Travelling with one of my favourite carriers, Emirates Airlines, from Dublin via Dubai the connection was only 1 hour. It was tight but everything went smoothly. On arrival at Malé International, the immigration process is very quick and you get your visitor visa on arrival. From the moment we landed to get through immigration to the speedboat transfer deck only took 20 mins. Kuramathi Staff are waiting for you in arrivals and they escorted us to our speedboat which took just over an hour to get to the island. It was a comfortable journey in the warm tropical breeze and light refreshments were also provided. On arrival, Kuramathi staff provide a very warm welcome and cold towels and a drink are provided on arrival. Check in is a very personal affair, with a member of the Kuramathi team joining you on the sofa's to provide you with all the information you need for your stay. We upgraded to the all inclusive package which meant we didn't have to worry about cost when it came to food and drinks. The choice of dining options is amazing! In addition to the three international buffet restaurants that serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, Kuramathi has nine à la carte restaurants offering a range of cuisine to suit all palates. I highly recommend Siam Garden and Tandoor Mahal. For couples, booking a Romance Dinner or a sumptuous Lobster Dinner on a secluded corner on the beach is ideal. They can take you up to the sand bank and you can have a really romantic dinner while watching the sun set or under the stars, it is truly amazing! There are six bars around the island but my three favourites were the Laguna Bar, Champagne Bar and Fung Bar for some great live music! Depending on your mood, you can listen to mellow sounds of the resident band, have a dance to the beats of the house DJ or wile away the day sipping your favourite cocktail. Every night there was a band on in one of the bars or a DJ on in another, so there is always something on. Movie night happens under the stars once a week and its a great evening to relax. There are plenty of activities to do for everyone on the island. For families and adults alike, the kids will love the kids clubs, the play areas, family pool and beaches with water activities and the adults will love the water activities like sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, diving and more! While on the island, I requested a tour with the manager and a look at some of the various villas available to book such as the 2 bedroom duplex beach suites that are ideal for families. The private pool villas, the over water villas, the overwater villas with private pool too! Then there are the Beach Villas, both deluxe and superior and some come with a jacuzzi on the terrace. Ask me for full details and I can help you choose which room might suit your requirements. There is plenty of options to choose from. Throughout the whole island, the staff cannot do enough for you. They are very friendly and are always on hand to cater for your every whim. Our entire time in Kuramathi was incredible. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, we were treated like royalty. The food was excellent, the cocktails were amazing, the beaches are incredible, the snorkelling on the reefs is magic. There is nothing I didn't love at Kuramathi except this trip of 8 days just wasn't long enough! Thanks for your time reading my brief blog and I hope it has given you a glimpse into this beautiful island resort. Contact me soon if you're planning a stay at this special island retreat, you won't be disappointed!
29 March 2021
This was my honeymoon and we definitely made it a trip of a lifetime! We flew business class with Turkish Airlines from Dublin via Istanbul to Kuala Lumpur. The fully lie flat beds were so comfortable for sleeping and the food is some of the best I've ever had on board a plane! Arriving in Kuala Lumpur, we checked in to the stunning 5* Traders Hotel for 4 days, right in the heart of the city, in a Twin Towers view room. The stunning Petronas Twin Towers are directly across the city park from the hotel and the view of the towers from your room at night is just incredible! Also at the hotel, the roof top bar is a major attraction for locals and guests alike and the place is buzzing at night! We did a private tour to the Batu Caves just 30 minutes outside of KL. This huge limestone hill with multiple caves within and it's an important religious site for Hindus. The incredible gold statue, Lord Murugan, at the beginning of the steps up to the main cave chamber is a sight to behold. The very steep steps are not for the faint hearted but the reward is amazing when you get up to the top as the cave itself is amazing. Beware the wild monkeys on the way up as they will try and take any food you have! Another private tour we did was to the Royal Selangor Pewter factory where we learned about this incredible metal and seen first hand how the skilled workers (pewtersmiths) transformed this material into stunning artwork, jewellery and homewares. We also took the opportunity to make our pewter bowls to take home! It's well worth a visit to the factory. The dining and nightlife options in KL are fantastic. There are lots of bars, shops and restaurants to choose from within minutes walk of the hotel. Some of the nearby sky scrapers have their own open air rooftop bars that open up at night and the Heli Lounge was a great experience. We walked around the city centre, took in the sights, the shops, the restaurants and the local aquarium offered a nice escape from a tropical downpour on one afternoon. Our next stop was Australia for 2 weeks. We flew down to Sydney with Air Asia. They have premium seats for extra legroom so you can really spread out. We stayed with friends for a few days first and spent some time in and around the city catching up. We checked in to the 5* Pier One at Sydney Harbour Bridge for a few days and the experience was excellent. Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries were provided on check in and the rooms here were large, bright and spacious. The staff here are incredible and nothing is too much trouble. The hotels position right on the waterfront with a terrace bar and dining overlooking the harbour is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring the city. We took in all the main sights in Sydney, restaurants and bars, from the Opera House, to Bondi Beach, the nightlife and the perfect harbour cruise on board a private yacht cruiser for 4 hours around all of Sydney Harbour with food and champagne flowing and a stop along the way to have a swim and jump off the cruiser. I would highly recommend hiring a yacht cruiser for the afternoon, it's a really special and unforgettable way to spend an afternoon. After Sydney, we flew to Perth to see what Western Australia had to offer. We hired a car for our time here and stayed with family. We took long coastal drives north and south of Perth city. The drives are easy and old coast road offered some incredible sea views and quaint towns to stop in along the way in either direction. We visited the Pinnacles Dessert and Visitor Centre a few hours drive north of Perth. These strange limestone rock formations are like something from another world! While geologists are not certain how they were formed, they resemble a petrified forest, as though the tree stumps were turned to stone millions of years ago! Its a fascinating way to spend a few hours walking or driving the trails. Another must do for wine enthusiasts (of which I most certainly am, who isn't?) is the abundance of wineries around Perth. We spent a fabulous 5 hours being driven from vineyard to vineyard tasting a plethora of wines and it didn't disappoint! Ask me about which vineyards we visited, there are many to choose from. Some vineyards have dining options so it was also a great place to dine al fresco and have lunch with a small tray of wines to taste with your food. One of the more unusual places we found while on our Swan Valley wineries tour was the Old Youngs Distillery where they had a range of Vodkas and Gins flavoured in very unusual ways, from a smoked vodka and a pavlova flavoured vodka, to coffee flavoured sweetened gin. We spent time out in Fremantle, a nice area and a night time hotspot with lots of great bars and restaurants to choose from. The island of Rottnest is just 24km off the coast and takes around 25 mins to get across by boat. See the quokkas on the island, they're very friendly! Perth is a nice modern city, especially around Elizabeth Harbour. In the evening, a great place to spend some time is Kings Park. Take a bottle of wine, find a place on the hill with views towards the city and just enjoy the balmy evening with incredible views. There will be plenty of other people doing the same thing, so get there early to get a good spot and watch the sunset. We left Perth and it was on to Singapore for 3 nights and the last leg of our honeymoon. We stayed at the 5* SO Sofitel Hotel in the heart of Singapore. There is a fabulous food hall, the Telok Ayer Market, just across from the hotel that spills out onto the street after 6pm and they close the road to accommodation the crowds! The food here is a mix of Singaporean, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and more and its incredible value too, we spent hours here trying out all the different flavours. A visit to Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios and Raffles Hotel the home of the Singapore Sling were top of our "must do" list and they didn't disappoint. Gardens by the Bay was incredible and the lightshow and music at night was magical! The cloud forest and flower dome were amazing too! Universal Studios was a day of laughs on the rollercoasters and a evening at Raffles Hotel with a few Singapore Slings was a great way to end a busy few days. We flew home in Business Class with Turkish Airlines and what a great way to finish an incredible honeymoon! There is so much more I could say but there just isn't enough room to write it all. Get in touch if you're planning a trip.
25 May 2016
This was one trip I was really excited about. We travelled with Aer Lingus on their fantastic direct flight from Dublin to Orlando and we got to experience their Business Lounge in Terminal 2 and what a great experience, with lots of snacks and drinks to help you relax before the long flight to Florida. Ask me about lounge access for any Aer Lingus flight. The US Customs and Immigration pre-clearance at Dublin Airport was excellent and arriving into the US as a domestic passenger without any further queuing or security checks was a breeze. On arrival, we were transferred to our first hotel for 2 nights at Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort. This is a brand new hotel and it is very impressive with a 1950's theme throughout. Our room, a family suite, was bright and spacious with a partitioned sitting room and the facilities onsite are excellent too. This property is fantastic for families; with lazy rivers, sandy beach areas around the large pool, water slides, bowling, a gym and kids activities throughout the day to keep the little ones busy. The breakfast buffet is huge and there is something for everyone to enjoy. The following day we were transferred by the free shuttle bus to Universal Orlando Theme Park, just a few minutes away and we started our VIP Tour of Islands of Adventure including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. My inner child was rearing to go with our park tickets, maps and VIP cards. Guests staying at any of Universals Hotels gets early access to the theme parks one hour before they open to the public. This was just fantastic and it is a brilliant perk for guests of the resort. By being there one hour early, there are no queues for the rides and attractions, so with a bit of planning, you can do so much in that first hour. We had a VIP escort through Universal Studios where you follow in Harry Potter’s footsteps as you walk through the streets of London to Diagon Alley. This is an amazing attraction. At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, you can visit five uniquely themed islands with some of the most amazing roller coasters I have ever been on. There are some fantastic shows and interactive attractions that will amaze adults and kids alike. These include the award winning attraction that is The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Be warned though, you’ll get soaked to the skin on Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. We stayed on this 3 times in a row. That evening, we spent some time at Universals City Walk. We dined at the Vivo Italian Kitchen and the food was superb. After our dinner we headed over to see a show called the Blue Man Group which is comedy, theatre, a rock concert and dance party all rolled into one. Our third day, we spent the whole time at Wet ‘n’ Wild. I love water parks and this one didn't disappoint, they have many slides and water activities, a huge wave pool and some slides that are not for the faint hearted. For the smaller kids, they have their own splash zone with smaller slides. Just so you know, Wet ‘n’ Wild is closing on the 31st December 2016 but don't worry, Universals brand new Volcano Bay Water park is opening on the 1st January 2017 and it looks amazing. After a day at the water park, we checked in to the stunning Loews Portofino Bay Hotel for our final 2 nights. This is a magical place to stay and the entire theme of the hotel represents Portofino Bay in Italy. This hotel is very luxurious and our family room was large with stunning views of the lake. There is a fantastic freebie for guests staying at this hotel, ask me for details. On that evening, we headed back to Universal City Walk for dinner at the CowFish restaurant. CowFish is the first and only Sushi Burger Bar, focused on offering both the best sushi AND the best burger in town. If on the night you can’t decide, why not try one of their signature creations called “Burgushi”, it is delicious! After dinner, we went across to see the guys on the Dueling Pianos at Pat O’Brien’s. There isn't a song they can't play on the piano, no matter what we threw at them, they played and sang. It’s a great way to spend a few lively hours after dinner. Try out their signature cocktail, the Hurricane - It’s named that for a good reason. The next morning we had breakfast on the terrace at Trattoria del Porto restaurant where the choice of food was just fantastic. After breakfast, we took the free water taxi from the hotel to Universal Studios to “Ride the Movies”. Guests staying at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel get FREE Express Passes. That evening we had dinner at the NBC Sports Grill and Brew, great food and huge portions. After a hefty dinner, we were ready for a karaoke session at City Walks Rising Star, this was a great evening of laughs and singing or screeching more like. Our last morning was spent visiting the hotels of Universal Orlando Resort so I could learn invaluable first-hand information on these fantastic properties. The hotels I visited include: Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Portofino Bay, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls and Hard Rock Hotel. That afternoon, we went shopping, a visit to Florida Mall is a must for any shoppers, it’s HUGE! The Premium Outlet Mall is fantastic for designer brands and buying an extra suitcase. If you're planning a trip to Orlando, get in touch! I've so much more tips and recommendations that I couldn't fit in here. Orlando is an amazing destination and will make any holiday the trip of a lifetime, I can't wait to go back.
11 June 2015
This had been one trip I was very excited for and it didn't disappoint! Travelling with Air France via Paris from Dublin the connection was quick and easy and the new Air France 777 aircraft from Paris made for a quiet and comfortable flight. On arrival in Havana we transferred to our hotel, 5* Parque Central. This hotel is in a prime central location and offers very easy access to all the main attractions this city has to offer. It’s a beautiful hotel. I also visited many other 5 star hotels like the Hotel Nacional, Melia Habana, Hotel Saratoga, Hotel Raquel to name a few. Old Havana, undoubtedly my favourite part of this city is a Unesco World Heritage site, only a few minutes from our hotel, the old colonial buildings are stunning. If you're only spending a few nights here, I recommend a guided tour in this area so you can get the full experience of the city. There is an extensive renovation program taking place in Havana with many of the buildings are being restored to their former glory. Be sure to check-out the beautiful newly restored plaza's and drink a Cuba Libre while people watching, just a beautiful way to spend an afternoon. There is an abundance of bars, local shops and restaurants to suit everyone's palate and if sea food is your thing, then you'll be in heaven. Two of the best and most famous bars are in the old city. Both of these were frequented by Hemmingway and La Bodeguita Del Medio is the best for a Mojito and La Floridita is the best for a Hemmingway Daquiri. For food, I have many recommendations so don't hesitate to ask me! I'll give you one of my favourites, Paladar San Cristobal. The service, ambience and standard of food are astounding and it is excellent value for money. After dinner, a rum is included and a free Cuban cigar to smoke if it takes your fancy. While the locals travel around in classic cars from the 1950's, you truly feel like you've stepped back in time to a bygone era. Should you wish to hire a car, modern imports are available but I would recommend a classic 50's restored convertible and take a drive along the ocean front of Havana. If hiring a car isn't for you, then take a tour in a convertible classic! The warm Caribbean climate means temperatures hover around 27 degrees and even though there can be thunder showers in the afternoon from July to September, they are usually short lived and the sun soon returns. From Havana, we travelled 4.5 hours east and down to the southern coastal city of Trinidad. This is where you'll fall in love with the low rise colonial buildings, the warm welcome from the local people and the Cuban music which seems to fill every street. We stayed at the 5* Iberostar Trinidad right in the heart of the city, overlooking a beautifully restored town square. The hotel is immaculately presented and the attentive staff will take care your every need. Take a walk around the many cobblestone streets and be prepared to get distracted by the shops and bars and then in the evening head up the hill to the main plaza which becomes "Casa de la Musica". Both locals and tourists alike gather here in big numbers to see the Cuban bands play and watch as the locals dance salsa like professionals all while drinking a Cuban rum or a Cuban beer. Entry here is about 0.90c and a beer is €1.85, excellent value. There is a beautiful old building at the corner of the square with a small balcony to sit out on during the day and have some lunch. Downstairs is a small artist shop where a local woman is selling her beautiful handmade pieces and paintings. Haggle on the price a bit and get a piece of art you will never see anywhere else in the world! For the young, or young at heart, there is Las Cuevas (The Caves) in which is a night club called Disco Ayala in the cave!! Lots of young twenty something Cubans visit here with a scattering of tourists dancing to the beats of Cuban reggaeton 80% of the time with a small mix of western pop music to appease us tourists. After a few days in Trinidad, we were on the road once more for a very comfortable 3 hour road trip to Varadero. This would be the final stop on my trip. We arrived at the beautiful 5* Iberostar Varadero on an all Inclusive basis for 3 nights. This resort style hotel has fantastic facilities, a stunning 1.5km beach of soft white sand and amazing views over the turquoise Caribbean Sea. The selection of food is amazing, from a la carte sea food restaurant, oriental cuisine and buffet restaurant serving Italian, Spanish, Cuban, European and Asian and all sorts of foods to suit everyone’s taste. There is a full entertainment program for all ages, numerous bars, beach bars, the swim up pool bar also serves everything from beer to cocktails, including premium brands! The rooms are huge with ample space and the staff are attentive and with warm smiles. Only 10 minutes’ drive away is the main tourist strip of Varadero. The street has a selection of shops, small shopping centres and bars. The most popular bar is Casa de Los Beatles, it gets quite busy and as the name suggests, it’s a tribute bar that plays mainly rock music and some dedicated to the Beatles. It’s a great night of dancing, singing, drinking local beer in the warm Cuban night. I spent 3 nights in Varadero and it’s definitely a place to come and relax and chill out for a few days in a luxury hotel. Be sure to take a boat trip to Cayo Blanco, our captain offered to feed us on board our boat instead of getting off at the massive buffet with hundreds of others. We watched him dive and catch fresh lobsters and catch snapper fish. The captain and his deck hand then prepared fresh fruit, vegetables, sauces and cooked our lobster and fish on board all while we were snorkelling and scuba diving! This was an amazing, unique experience and one I will never forget. We have come to the end of our trip and the time goes by all too quick. Varadero has plenty of excellent 5 star hotels which I have visited. So, if you're thinking of planning a trip to Cuba, please don't hesitate to call me for even more information on what Cuba has to offer. There isn't enough room here to allow me write about all my amazing experiences but I would be thrilled to have a chat with you and help plan an amazing trip to this spectacular island! VIVA CUBA LIBRE!
07 October 2013
I flew with Emirates Airlines Business Class which was a magnificent experience and one I can highly recommend. They have a world class service and with lie-flat beds, this just made the whole journey seem effortless. The first hotel I stayed at was the 5* Sofitel The Palm. This brand new property, which only opened on 1st July 2013, has a French Polynesian theme throughout giving you a feeling of being on a tropical island but within very contemporary and modern surroundings. This hotel is very luxurious and has a serene feeling of calm and relaxation. My room was a Luxury Palm View, very spacious and the most comfortable hotel bed I have ever slept in. Try the Manava Restaurant, the tiger prawns and calamari here are excellent. The following day, we visited The Atlantis the Palm hotel and Aquaventure Water Park. For me this is a family hotel and the Atlantis Hotel is a destination in itself, with its own huge aquarium done in the Lost City of Atlantis theme. The rooms here are beautiful and very spacious. We had buffet lunch here and the food is excellent with so much to choose from, even fussy eaters are well catered for. The hotel has many shops, restaurants and bars. We visited the Dubai Mall with over 1200 shops and a multitude of entertainment venues from Kidzania, Sega Republic, Dubai Ice Rink, Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. The shoppers out there will be in heaven and the kids will think it’s Christmas every day. This was a spectacular venue and it would easily take a few days to appreciate all the Mall has to offer. While there we visited a number of hotels including: - The Address Downtown, Vida Hotel & Armani Hotel at the Burj Khalifa. For full details on each hotel, give me a call for a chat, these hotels are just stunning and are perfect to combine with other hotels at the beach. It will give you two very different experiences of Dubai. We stayed at the Kempinski the Palm for our next 2 nights, an all-suite hotel that is relaxed, low key and quiet. It is very suitable for families as the suites are 2 bedrooms with full kitchen. Breakfast here was really good too and the pool area was stunning as is its private beach. For a really luxurious honeymoon to remember I would recommend the One & Only Royal Mirage and One & Only the Palm. The opulence of these properties left me in awe. The staff were outstanding, the private villas with their own pools are stunning, the chilled out atmosphere was soothing and the poolside cabanas are ideal for a lazy afternoon to recharge and refresh. We had high tea at the top of the Burj Khalifa - a great experience with tea, cakes and champagne all while having stunning views across the city to the Persian Gulf. This is prebookable only and I can book it for you. Dubai is definitely a destination for families, honeymooners or a hot city break. With so much to do for everyone, you will never be bored! If you're planning a trip, be sure to give me a call.
06 June 2013
I was thrilled when I got the invitation to visit Malaysia as it has been on my bucket list. Flights were courtesy of Malaysia Airlines. Arriving in the morning we were warmly greeted by our host and promptly taken to our hotel the Royale Chulan. It’s an impressive hotel and is beautifully decorated and very well located. It's within walking distance of one of most attractions in Kuala Lumpur. That evening we were treated to a Cocktail Dinner Reception. Here I got my first taste of Malaysian cuisine and all I can say is WOW. The flavours, spices, sauces and various meats and veggies were fantastic. Day 2: we did the Kuala Lumpur City Tour. The city centre is quite compact and really accessible on foot. However, if you don’t fancy walking about there is also a free bus which runs throughout the city called Go KL. Later we visited the Royal Selangor Pewter Company, the largest pewter manufacturer in the world. Here they made a stunning array of products ranging from cufflinks, to pots, cups and amazing jewellery. We had the opportunity to make a pewter bowl. Next, we visited the world renowned Petronas Towers. These iconic twin towers are very imposing and they stretch into the sky at 452 metres! There are spectacular views that await you from level 86. That evening, we had a few drinks at the Skybar at the top of Traders Hotel. This is a vibrant hangout and has a direct view of the Petronas Towers lit up at night time. Day 3: we visited the Batu Caves, a wonderful experience. It’s a Hindu temple and shrine, and attracts thousands of worshippers and tourists. It’s a limestone outcrop located just north of Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves has three main caves featuring temples and Hindu shrines. Its main attraction is the large statue of the Hindu God at the entrance. Oh beware of the wild monkeys here, they are bold as brass and have a very hungry appetite, if you have any food at all, they will just steal it from you!! Later that evening we were special guests of the Colours of Malaysia Festival in the city centre. This was attended by the King and Queen of Malaysia. It was a parade of colour, celebrating the ethnic and cultural diversity of Malaysia. Day 4: we had a one hour flight to catch to Terengganu in the northeast of the country. We stayed at the beautiful Tanjong Jara Resort, a luxurious retreat on the coast. We were treated to most amazing hospitality. I particularly loved breakfast time here as your eggs were cooked to order. On our second day we visited the islands off the coast for some snorkelling around the coral reefs, this was one of my highlights of the trip. I saw so much sea life such as turtles, clown fish, huge tropical fish, eels, sting ray all up close and personal! Day 5&6: We flew west to the Island of Langkawi. With stunning beaches, fantastic nightlife and so much to do, we were kept busy. We stayed at the Berjaya Resort. It has a private stretch of beach and a stunning swimming pool area. Breakfast each morning was al fresco, with beautiful views over the sparkling blue Andaman Sea. Day 7: I met with some hoteliers from all across Malaysia. Day 8: we visited Kilim Geo-Forest Park. Taking a boat ride around the mangroves and then the towering limestone stacks in the bay. If you heard of Halong Bay in Vietnam you will know what I’m talking about. This was very similar but on a smaller scale. While there we saw the red eagles fishing. This was a sight to behold; these birds have a wingspan of up to 2.8 metres and were spectacular to watch. That evening, The Westin Hotel and Resort hosted dinner on the beach. It was an amazing setting overlooking the islands, a warm breeze blowing and with the sun setting as a backdrop made it magical. After dinner we had the opportunity to experience the nightlife in the town of Kuah. Day 9: was our final day, we spent this day at our leisure before heading flying back to Dublin overnight. The Malaysian people are some of the most friendly I’ve ever met. I would be delighted to help you plan a trip to this amazing country and I would be delighted to share my experiences with you. I know you won’t come home disappointed.
10 May 2013
I had been really looking forward to this trip for some months. I have some friends in Bilbao who invited us over for a few days skiing with them in the Pyrenees. We flew into Bilbao and spent the day and night there with our friends at their home. Having been to Bilabo on many occasions, it was fantastic to be back in this once industrious city. There have been radical changes to Bilbao since my first visit in 1996. The city has well and truly put itself on the tourist map. It has chic bars and restaurants, uber cool cafes, museums, including the Guggenheim which showcases modern contemporary art, the building itself is fantastic piece of architecture. The old city, El Casco Viejo, is really beautiful during the day, with its narrow streets,Tapas bars and quirky independent retail shops, you're bound to find something unique to take back home with you. At the weekend, this area of the city becomes a hive of activity for the younger crowd. The narrow streets fill up with revellers and a party scene ensues until the small hours. On Friday morning, we loaded up the car and headed for France. The drive would take us 3 hours through the beautiful Basque countryside and on into the French Pyrenees. The village where my friends have a holiday home is called Luz St Sauveur. It’s a stunning village, very picturesque with lodges, cottages and homes dotted around the valley. Also, the Tour de France has passed through here several times over the years. We going to ski in the Grand Tourmalet region, which consists of 3 ski stations: Bareges, Super Bareges and La Mongie. This is the largest combined ski area in the Pyrenees and only a 15 minute drive from Luz St Sauveur. The mountain, Pic du Midi, is 2877m (9443 feet) so the snow is guaranteed. It was the last weekend of the ski season and they had just had one of the best snow falls in years. With over 3 metres at the top of the range and over 2 metres at the bottom, it made for perfect skiing. The slopes were wide, no queues for the lifts, powder snow and great weather. It was a brilliant few days. My only gripe would be the shop on the mountain was seriously overpriced, but we took our own lunch and beers with us, so that didn't really matter. The prices in the shops in resort are extremely cheap when compared to Ireland. Ski Hire was very reasonable with skis, boots and sticks costing €16 per day, lift pass on the mountain was €32 per day but this reduced if you booked more days together. After a fantastic few days, we headed back to Bilbao for our flight. would highly recommend this ski area especially for beginners and intermediates, advanced skiers will also have a fantastic choice of long black runs and good off piste skiing too. The resort town of Luz St Sauveur has everything you need for a fantastic week of skiing, good supermarkets, restaurants and off course there are some excellent bars for the all-important apres ski. If you would like any further information, please get in touch, I'd be delighted to help you. I'm already planning a trip back with even more friends.
23 May 2012
I was very lucky to win this trip with some colleagues courtesy of Qantas Airlines and Australia’s Gold Coast tourist board. We flew out to Brisbane via Singapore and were fortunate to be upgraded, if affordable for you I would definitely recommend as the little touches are so worth it not to mention the larger seats and extra leg room. Arriving at 7 am we were greeted by our host for the trip and promptly whisked off to our first accommodation, Peppers Broadbeach. The apartments are simply stunning in every aspect – décor, size, amenities, cleanliness and the breathtaking views. Our first activity was to take a boat trip courtesy of ‘Duffy Down Under boat Hire’ and I recommend this to everyone visiting the area. The only company in Australia with totally green electric boats. The waterways in the area has more km of waterways than Venice & Amsterdam combined! Day 2 started off with a trip to Currumbin Wildlife Centre and this place is a load of fun for all age types and group sizes. We fed Kangaroos, met Koala's and zipped through the trees on an adventure challenge. Surf lesson on day 3 and where other than Surfers Paradise with our hosts ‘Go Ride A Wave’. Our 2 hour lesson began with the usual health and safety – but what a laugh we had. I am now proud to say that I know the basics but I won't be going pro anytime soon! We then travelled inland for a couple of hours rising about 1000m above sea level to a place steeped in history called O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. We met with Australian wildlife expert Mark who introduced us to some of the indigenous animals they were caring for. We had a guided tour round the tree top walk which boasts some stunning views from the canopy of the rainforest. Before dinner we were taken on O’Reilly’s glow worm tour – our guide Nick drove us in a 4 x 4 to a clearing and because there is no light pollution he was pointing out some of the star configurations such as the Southern Cross and quite clearly visible was the red planet Mars – breathtaking. As we trekked through the rainforest Nick pointed out plant and tree life which could seriously damage your health if you came into contact with it, as well as showing us a funnel web spiders lair, our final stop on the tour was the glow worm grotto and once everyone had switched off their torches and our eyes became accustomed to the darkness we were treated to a fantastic sight of these creatures in their natural habitat. Back down into the valley to visit O’Reilly’s Vineyards in Canungra our guides for the day were Southern Cross 4WD tours. We did a spot of wine tasting and buying ! We had a very pleasant lunch by the riverside before setting off up another mountain this one called Tamborine. The final road down was not for the fainthearted but we made it intact. Our accommodation for the next 2 nights was the Sea Temple Surfers Paradise which towered over the beach. Once again stunning apartments with every mod con you could want. We took breakfast at the hotel and the chef would make your eggs how you like them. Mine was a ham and cheese omelette and it was one of the best I have ever had. We strolled along the seafront to Skypoint an observation deck 77 floors up at the top of Q1 tower which gave us 360 degree views of all the golden beaches and lush hinterland. Another treat in store that afternoon was a jet boat ride guaranteed to get wet but all part of the fun. On our last night on the Gold Coast we were treated to dinner and a show at Jupiter’s Casino and a little flutter in the casino. The next morning we flew from Brisbane to Sydney and checked into the stunning 5* Sheraton on the Park. The hotel is in a prime city centre location and is within a few minutes walking distance to Sydney Opera House and The Rocks area. The Westfield shopping centre is just around the corner and has wide range of designer and high street shops. To finish off the trip we attended the fantastic Travel Counsellors Australian Conference. It was great to meet some Aussie colleagues and it rounded off the trip nicely. Visit Australia soon, it’s an amazing destination.
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