Sent by Robert G
Based in Maynooth
I believe that life should be full of exciting travel experiences, tailored to meet your unique interests and needs. So you have decided to take a trip. Having made that decision, now imagine the benefit of having your own personal Travel Counsellor - someone who takes pride in getting to know you personally, providing you with a confidential service and taking care of all your travel requirements. Your time is precious, now you can cast aside the many hours spent trawling through the internet and travel brochures and allow me to arrange it all for you.
I would describe being a Travel Counsellor as being a “Travel Designer” who makes your dreams come alive. I use my knowledge of destinations, resorts, escorted tours, cruises, air travel and attractions to make the best arrangements for your holiday to match your budget. Everyone’s travel interests are varied, some live for museums and galleries others crave excitement and adventure. I take the time to get to know you so I can tailor-make your trip to be as individual as you are. For your convenience I am available outside normal office hours to discuss your travel plans.
Travel is my passion and over the past 30 years I have travelled the globe, initially as a solo traveller, then as a couple and more recently as a family with our three children. My travels are varied and have taken me from the exotic shores of the world’s gems such as the Maldives and Seychelles to the vibrant cities of Hong Kong and Las Vegas, from the picturesque ski slopes of the Rockies and the Alps to the fun filled family holidays spent in camper vans, cruising and thrilling adventures in theme parks!
Travel Counsellors are fully licensed and bonded. We are totally independent allowing us access to a huge range of travel providers from low cost airlines to competitive rates with world airlines, ensuring the best possible value for you.
The challenge to create the perfect holiday that matches your style, needs and budget is what keeps me enthusiastic. I see travel as an adventure, an escape from daily routines and a chance to look through a window of another culture. So as you embark on the next great journey in your life consider taking the first step in my direction. I look forward to receiving your call.
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:
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.
27 June 2019
Going on a family safari will be one of the most rewarding and exciting holidays you'll ever take. Yes, there are many factors to be considered and many restrictions so getting the right advice is essential. I’m regularly asked, ‘What is the right age to take our kids on safari?’ As a general rule I would recommend from the age of 10 upwards, bear in mind game-viewing is a patient exercise so the ability to sit in a jeep for two to three hours is vital. In saying that, a gentle safari for two days in malaria-free South Africa is suitable for children of all ages. One of the best places to go on a family safari is South Africa. The roads are excellent allowing you to rent your own car and therefore run to your own schedule - flexibility is key when you have little children. You can make stops when you want, return to your hotel when they tire and plan the length of your own drives around the wildlife parks. South Africa also has plenty of smaller, private wildlife parks where you can see a lot of animals in a short amount of time and these private game parks often have lovely accommodation with swimming pools. The Garden Route and Eastern Cape in South Africa is filled with beaches and game parks in close proximity, making it a perfect combination. More importantly, South Africa is home to several malaria-free game parks, so the children don't have to take malaria pills and you don't have to worry every time a mosquito comes along! Kenya is also a good option allowing you to combine a beach holiday in Mombasa with a visit to the Tsavo National Park which is just an hour's drive away. Tanzania probably offers the most authentic safari experience in Africa, but the infrastructure isn't quite as good as that in Kenya, unless you stick to the "Northern Circuit" which includes the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Combining a safari with the beaches of Zanzibar also works well. Namibia has malaria-free areas, a large coastline, fun sand dunes and good roads but, the distance between places of interest is significant. If you have children who don't mind long drives, then Namibia would also make a wonderful family destination. Many safari tours have age restrictions on children, which is why a carefully planned safari is imperative particularly if travelling with children under 12. This is because many camps feel it's unsafe for small children to be sitting in the back of an open safari vehicle, they are also more prone to sunburn or general boredom on the long drives. While on safari, here are some tips to help keep your little ones interested: • Give children their own cameras and binoculars • Award points or prizes for spotting birds, insects or wildlife • Give them a bird or animal checklist to mark off what they see (Most wildlife parks will have these available) • Limit game drives to two hours at a time • Stay in a family-oriented lodge that offers special drives/activities for children There is nothing more adventurous, fun and educational than a family safari – it offers the unique opportunity to watch your children connect with different cultures and find that common bond. Seeing rare and beautiful animals in their own habitat is not just exciting but also helps bring home the importance of protecting our planet. Contact me to arrange your own family safari adventure.
26 June 2016
Langkawi, also known as the Jewel of Kedah, had been on my bucket-list forever, so I was really excited when I received an invitation to visit this Malaysian island along with a stay in Kuala Lumpur. I travelled with Malaysia Airlines in Business Class from London to Kuala Lumpur – flying time was 13 hours so having a spacious cabin and comfortable flatbed was a welcome treat. Great inflight entertainment and delicious food made it an easy journey and from Kuala Lumpur, a short one-hour flight took us on to Langkawi. An archipelago of 99 islands, Langkawi is a tropical paradise located just off the coast of Malaysia in the Andaman Sea. It is surrounded by white beaches, rainforests, waterfalls and jungles with a wide variety of wildlife. The ideal time to visit the island is during dry season between December and March, however it really is suitable to visit all year round. I stayed at The Datai, nestled in the heart of an ancient rainforest (10 million years old is pretty qualifying!) above a stunning bay. It is a captivating luxurious resort that blends effortlessly with its natural surroundings and provides a true hideaway. Each room, suite and villa enjoys the embrace of the lush rainforest, this is a place where you can reconnect with nature, rekindle your spirit and reignite your soul in a serene natural haven! The jungle surrounding the resort is full of wildlife - we spotted dusky leaf monkeys, geckos, wild pigs, flocks of hornbills and flying lemurs during our stay. A ten minute walk through the lush private grounds (or a ride on one of the hotel’s many buggies!) brings you down to the spectacular beach of Datai Bay. The long beach is wide with beautiful talc-soft white sand, it is shared with the Andaman hotel, but feels very exclusive and private as access is only via the hotel. The resort has two heated pools, a stunning adult-only pool which is higher up in the jungle near the main hotel area and a smaller pool down by the beachfront which caters for families. The spa, an enchanting rainforest sanctuary with open air villas set along a stream, was truly amazing. My treatment was a Tungku Batu massage, an indigenous herbal hot stone therapy using a blend of relaxing herbal oils with leaves, barks and roots found in the rainforest adding to the unique experience as I drifted off in bliss to the hypnotic sounds of wildlife. The accommodation consists of deluxe rooms, rainforest villas and beach villas. I had the pleasure of staying in a rainforest villa - a large detached rustic villa set in the heart of the rainforest. Waking up to the symphony of jungle birds and cicadas was far better than any alarm! I ate in all four restaurants within the resort and at Gulai House, the authentic Malay/Indian restaurant, we enjoyed a cooking class which was brilliant fun. Breakfast each morning was a lavish buffet and a la carte experience with the offer of champagne, no less. A highlight of our stay was the nature walk, led by the Datai’s resident naturalist, Irshad Mobarak, who held our interest for hours as we explored the rainforest, spotting colugo, hornbills, dusky leaf monkeys and discussing strangler fig trees. While in his company it would be hard not to be infected with his enthusiasm for nature - at times he outshone the animals as the undeniable star of the rainforest! There are lots of day-trips to take while on Langkawi island and I would definitely recommend the mangrove tour. Langkawi is home to three beautiful UNESCO Geoforest Parks. The Kilim Geoforest Park is one of the best, covering 100 sq km and wildlife is in abundance here. As we glided through the labyrinth of swampy trees we saw tons of monkeys from our boat. Another highlight of the trip was visiting the infamous 390-million-year old bat cave to see walls lined with hundreds of bats and rock structures. If you are afraid of heights, then a visit on the SkyCab and SkyBridge is either going to cure you permanently or terrify you senseless - both in a good way! This cable car is the steepest in the world and also has the longest free span for a mono-cable car. We started in the Oriental Village at Teluk Burau and headed straight to the peak of Gunung Machinchang. The total length is 2.2km and it took 15 minutes. At the cable car’s top station we accessed the Langkawi SkyBridge, the world’s longest curved pedestrian cable bridge at 125 metre long. Located 660 metres above sea level, we were rewarded with magnificent views of lush tropical forest, turquoise waters and many of Langkawi’s numerous islands. Moving on to mainland Malaysia it was time to sample the sights and magic of Kuala Lumpur. After our short flight we were transported from one jungle to the next, this one being of the concrete kind! However, Malaysia continued to surprise and we were gently eased into the city hustle and bustle when we arrived at our boutique hotel, Villa Samadhi. The hotel takes its well-deserved name from the Sanskrit word for 'state of mind'. Located in the Malaysian capital's leafy embassy district, this Malay-style villa is pure luxury with lantern lit paths, a lagoon style pool and ultra-trendy rooms with plunge pools. It's a “rustic-luxe retreat” and without doubt it felt more like a private villa on an island than a city-center boutique hotel. ‘Rustic’ refers to the use of mainly natural materials such as the bamboo, dried grass and salvaged timber that make up the facade, while charcoal floors and Asian antique furniture finish the style to perfection. I loved the little personal touches, like come sunset, the Bumbung Bar opens for an hour-long service of complimentary cocktails and canapés. As much as I could have happily stayed within the confines of our little oasis, it was time to check out what the city had on offer. We ate a delicious lunch in Little India at the authentic Banana Leaf restaurant, where as you may have guessed, your plate is a banana leaf! At the night markets in Chinatown we sampled street food - it would be easy to get addicted to street food in KL, it is delicious and very cheap. There is no better or safer place to try local foods, so go there and eat, I promise you'll love it! We spent time browsing the boisterous markets, with everything on offer from fish, meat and vegetables, to markets stuffed into alleyways and stalls selling goods of all sorts - a simple authentic experience taking in Kuala Lumpur’s street life.Shoppers will love this city, the streets are oozing with stores and all the brands are to be found here. We went to Bukit Bintang and found the shopping to be great value. Kuala Lumpur has so much to offer and overall I loved Malaysia, it was everything I expected it to be and more. If you want the warmth and exotic feel of a Bali or Thailand holiday, without the hordes of tourists, Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur will not disappoint!
13 March 2016
I travelled to Singapore in February with Singapore Airlines, this fact alone I was excited about. The airline didn’t disappoint and although the journey from London was a long 12 hours, travelling with Singapore Airlines made it effortless! Good food, movies and real comfort, before we knew it we had landed in Singapore. We checked into the beautiful and well situated Pan Pacific Orchard Road and after a quick shower and indulgent breakfast we set off to explore Singapore city. Chinatown to start with, a sharp contrast to the rest of the city. It is made up of low rise buildings with culture bursting out onto the streets, from the fragrant smells of traditional cuisine to the bold red and gold tones that run through the neighbourhood. This is an area that’s proud of its heritage and always exhibits that. There are ornate Chinese, Buddhist and Hindu temples, museums galore and bustling streets lined with old shop houses. Next it was on to Kampong Glam, steeped in history and culture. It is one of Singapore's most colourful districts. It was where the Malay royalty once resided and where one of the most significant mosques in the country, Masjid Sultan, is located. We spent time soaking up the atmosphere in Haji Lane, a tiny lane hidden away in the heart of Arab Street, a fashionistas paradise! Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Singapore! A quick stop at the Singapore City Gallery, teaches visitors how modern Singapore came to be and how the city planners continue to plan sustainably. The most impressive part of the gallery was the Central Area Model with a scale of 1:400. It is a miniature version of the centre of Singapore in 3D! Our last stop of the day was Little India. Again, like stepping into another country we suddenly found ourselves in streets abound with Kashmir silk, flower garlands and glittering silk-threaded saris. We visited the Indian Heritage Centre and shoppers will be excited to hear the Mustafa Centre here is a 24hr shopping mall and is a hive of activity during the cool evening hours. The next day we had a great opportunity to visit the stunning ship Seabourn Sojourn which was in port for the day. After lunch, we visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens which have been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are the first and only tropical botanic gardens on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Slowing things down, we took a short river cruise from Clarke Quay. This was a lovely relaxing way to see the iconic Merlion, Esplanade and colonial-style government buildings as well as the modern skyscrapers that now dominate the city’s skyline. That evening we ate at Satay by the Bay, a waterfront street food market with entertainment provided by Garden Rhapsody, a light and sound show that is not to be missed! After a night cap at Level 33, officially the world’s highest urban craft-brewery in the penthouse of the Marina Bay Financial Centre, it was time to call it a day. The beauty of Singapore is that everywhere is close by, so within a few minutes we were back at our hotel, this time the Pan Pacific Singapore, a fabulous five star hotel located in Marina Bay. The following morning we headed for Sentosa Island, a 15 minute drive from Singapore. Sentosa meaning ‘peace and tranquillity’ lives up to its name, an oasis with city reach and plenty to offer such as theme parks, golf, beaches and more. We braved the Mega Zip wire and Sentosa Luge and Sky Ride which were super fun and it was hard to resist a swim in the South China Sea! After all the fun, it was time for lunch and we indulged in the most fantastic food at Restaurant Cocotte which I would highly recommend. In the afternoon, we enjoyed a cruise ship visit on the MS Volendam by Holland America, which was overnight in port and later that evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner in their speciality restaurant the Pinnacle Grill. Our last day was a trip to Gardens by the Bay, not to be missed, a sprawling garden in the city, spanning over 101 hectares of reclaimed land. The park consists of three waterfront gardens; Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The largest of the three gardens is Bay South Garden and it features the best of horticultural, sustainability and architectural design. Diverse plant life from around the world is displayed in its spectacular Cooled Conservatories. We were wowed by the Supertrees, towering vertical gardens that extend into the sky. We finished up with a stroll across the Skyway, at a height of 22 metres and surrounded by panoramic vistas of the Gardens and Marina Bay skyline. This 128-metre-long aerial walkway was the perfect place to say our goodbyes to Singapore. I loved Singapore and I was so impressed with everything it had to offer. My advice would be not to view it as a stop-over but a destination itself!
13 March 2016
I flew to Durban via Doha on Qatar Airways in February. I was really impressed with their professional service. The planes were fantastic, very new and modern. I was delighted to get the opportunity to experience Business Class on the outbound journey! Overall, it was a super experience, food, comfort and service. On the return journey we travelled Economy, where again I found, service and comfort to be excellent. It was great to see Wi-Fi on the menu as it is so important for business travellers on a long-haul flight. We arrived in Durban greeted by grey skies and rain and I was really surprised to see how green the landscape was. Although we were expecting blue skies and sun, we felt it would be inappropriate to complain as they were experiencing their worst drought in 65 years and were delighted to finally have rain! Our first night was spent in the Southern Sun Maharani and Elangeni, situated right across from the Indian Ocean along the Golden Mile and in close proximity to shops, restaurants and activities. We had a fantastic meal in the Grill Steakhouse attached to the hotel that evening. The food and ambiance was super and really enjoyable. The next morning, we were off to explore the Drakensberg Mountain region, stopping at Howick Falls and the Mandela Capture Site/Apartheid Museum en-route. Exploring the Midlands Meander route on the way was a real bonus. I would definitely recommend lunch in Piggly Wigglys, followed by a visit to the nearby Ardmore Ceramics where you can see the world famous ceramic artworks being hand sculpted and hand painted. After a busy day it was time to relax for two nights at the Drakensberg Sun Lifestyle Resort, a super hotel, surrounded by stunning scenery with a lovely relaxed vibe. The décor of the hotel is perfect, maintaining the mountain lodge style and the staff were very friendly. The next day, rain insisted on hindering our plans so the mountain hike idea was shelved and instead we bravely took on a Tree Canopy Tour. This is a definite must for anyone spending time in this area, it was fantastic. We got the chance to zip line over tree tops, waterfalls and jungle like mountain areas. It’s operated to a high, professional standard and our guides were excellent. Quite a bit of physical effort was involved but most definitely worth it! To balance the day out we spent a lovely afternoon at Cathedral Peak Wine Estate. Caren and her staff were very welcoming and more than happy to spend time showing us around and explaining all about the vineyard and their future plans. The wine tasting with platters was delicious and the views from the veranda were stunning, a great relaxing way to spend an afternoon. The next day we moved on from the mountains, staying inland and arriving at Isandlwana Lodge, in the heart of the Battlefields. This place really has the wow factor. Staff were very friendly, the décor and comfort of the lodge was superb and the balcony in the room was a real treat with a view that anyone would want to bottle! We spent time by the idyllic pool and were then treated to a Battlefield talk with historian Rob Gerrard while sitting on the hotel terrace. It was emotional and surreal, Rob almost brought the battle fought in January 1879 to real life through his knowledge and story-telling skills. Reluctantly leaving the oasis of Isandlwana Lodge, we headed north for our next stop at Ghost Mountain Inn, a wonderful homely lodge. I loved the indoor/outdoor feel of the hotel with walls of doors opening out into their wonderful tropical like gardens, very serene and chilled out! After settling in, we were hosted by Jean who brought us on a visit to a traditional Zulu village where we met local Zulu people and learned about their way of life and traditions. An early start to the next day, we met at 6am for our safari trip to Hluhluwe National Park. A definite must is to spend time on safari in Kwazulu-Natal. Within minutes of entering the park we saw zebras and buffalos and shortly after rhinos, giraffes and elephants in the far distance. Our guide Christopher was excellent. He gave us great insight to conservation and information on the animals. After lunch we stopped by at Lake St Lucia, a beautiful area with lots of places to stay, nice restaurants and plenty of things to do. We also took a river boat cruise which was super. It was a real treat to get so close to the crocodiles and hippos in the water. Our final journey was back to the Durban area, to stay in Umhlanga at The Beverley Hills Hotel and it was like arriving home! We received a wonderful warm welcome from the manager John and his team. The staff and service here was excellent, personal and genuine. Breakfast and dinner were outstanding. The rooms were beautiful, extremely comfortable and the bonus of the balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean was the icing on the cake. Having direct access to the promenade walkway and beach at Umhlanga on one side of the hotel and shops and restaurants on the other side gives this hotel an enviable location. After an early morning walk on the beach and breakfast fit for a King, our guide Stuart gave us a tour of Durban city. His local knowledge was super and he gave us a real insight into the ways and workings of life in Durban. The visit to the Moses Mabhida Stadium is a must, particularly the sky car ride which gives superb views of the city in all directions which I found really helpful in forming a ‘city map’ together in my head! This was my first visit to Africa and I was really impressed. Kwazulu-Natal is beautiful, very scenic and has so much to offer in a holiday. South Africa is renowned for its excellent food and wine and now I can personally vouch for that. After this trip I would say to anyone now, don’t think about going to Kwazulu-Natal, just go there!
24 March 2015
Flying from Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic, we had the benefit of travelling in Upper Class for the long flight to Los Angeles. With fantastic food, great entertainment, excellent service and a bed to catch some sleep, we arrived in Los Angeles feeling set to go! On the west side of Los Angeles, just north of the offbeat scene of Venice Beach and just south of the please-no-photographs exclusivity of Malibu, sits the charming beach community of Santa Monica. A town that boasts over three miles of white sandy beach, perpetually blue skies and an idyllic mountainous backdrop, Santa Monica’s beauty did not go unnoticed as we arrived at our hotel. Beside its obvious aesthetic allures, it was the feel of Santa Monica that had me hooked from the start – laid back and exclusive, there is an unmistakable vibe of hippy chic meets sophistication here. We stayed on Ocean Drive, directly across from the pier, in the aptly named Oceanview Hotel. The restaurant choice in Santa Monica is fantastic, on our first night we enjoyed a delicious meal at Borders Mexican Grill. The next morning we took an historic guided tour of the pier which is steeped in history - the pier is a must-see when visiting Santa Monica! It might seem a little gimmicky, however, you can’t help but smile as soon as you walk under the large arched ‘Yacht Harbor’ sign and head downhill towards the lively action. Our next activity was to involve two wheels. Navigating Los Angeles in a car can be a nightmare, but very manageable on a bike. As we rode around Santa Monica beneath towering palms, our wonderfully knowledgeable guide, Shaun, said “Bus tours can be voyeuristic as you’re seeing everything from above. On a bike, you’re absorbing the city and becoming a part of the sights.” After our tour, I couldn’t agree more. We spent the afternoon shopping at Santa Monica Place, a modern open-air shopping destination a few blocks from the beach. Another fantastic meal that night was had in Seasons 52 on Ocean Drive. Our second day began with an early morning yoga class in the Shore Hotel, yoga is very popular in Santa Monica. We had breakfast at the iconic Georgian Hotel and back to the pier to ride the solar-powered Pacific Ferris Wheel which allows for fantastic views that span for miles. It was hard to leave Santa Monica, the walkable community has an excellent vibe and thanks to the amusement park on the Pier, a round-the-clock atmosphere of civilised festivity. Our next stop was San Diego, which took 3.5 hours by car. San Diego is California’s second largest city and is known for its near perfect weather, its endless beaches and a dazzling array of world class family attractions. We stayed at the beautiful Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa in the Mission Bay area which had a really nice relaxing holiday atmosphere. We headed for SeaWorld which is well worth a visit and even had lunch with the killer whales. From Broadway Pier we took a bay cruise which brought us around Coronado Island with its large US Navy base. From this pier you can also visit the USS Midway Museum and explore a floating city at sea reliving 50 years of history aboard the longest serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th Century. That evening we had drinks downtown on the rooftop bar of the uber cool Andaz Hotel while watching the spectacular Californian sunset. In San Diego there are plenty of activities for sports enthusiasts, while those keen on sightseeing can explore Balboa Park and its museums, the trendy revamped Victorian Gas Lamp Quarter which has over 16 blocks of restaurants, bars and nightclubs or the historic Mexican buildings of Old Town where restaurants serve deliciously authentic Mexican cuisine. Kids will enjoy SeaWorld, Legoland and the famous San Diego Zoo - home to over 4000 rare and endangered animals. If you are looking for a destination that has something for everyone, look no further and put California top of your list!
15 October 2014
Disneyland Paris, France Opened since 1992, Disneyland Paris has two theme parks. Disneyland Park, dedicated to the fairytale characters and kingdoms of Disney’s many productions and Walt Disney Studios Park, dedicated to show-business and production. It is the most visited theme park in Europe with 15 million visitors passing through its gates last year! This park won’t fail to impress both children and adults. Efteling, Netherlands Fairytales come true at Efteling, one of the world's oldest theme parks. In the World of Wonders, classic fairytales are brought to life and the nearby Adventure Realm houses thrilling rides. The Travel Realm lets you meander through the park by train or boat and brave park guests can stop in the Alternative Realm to explore haunted castles and forbidden cities. The newest attraction, Aquanura, is a nightly fountain and light extravaganza you won't want to miss. Legoland, UK/Germany/Denmark With trains, rides, hotels and a proper miniature park made from Lego depicting cities across the globe, the 40 million Lego bricks used to build it will have you mesmerised. Liseberg, Sweden Sweden might not be at the top of your list for thrilling theme park destinations, but with one of the best wooden rollercoasters in Europe, Liseberg is right up there with the best. It doesn’t have to be during a summer holiday that you visit, either - the Christmas market held during November and December is a great time to go too! Europa Park, Germany Family owned, it is the largest theme park in Germany and following Disneyland Paris it is the second most popular theme park in Europe. With 13 areas all themed on various European countries there is plenty to explore. Ride the Blue Fire Megacoaster, take the family on the Whale Adventures Splash Tours or roar on Poseidon water coaster. Like France? Then you’ll love the Silver Star and Eurosat roller coasters, right next door the Matterhorn-Blitz rushes through Switzerland. Mother Russia sends daring passengers on a trip to the stars with Euro-Mir while Portugal is all about getting wet at Atlantica SuperSplash. The park boasts five luxury hotels, each with a different Mediterranean theme, there is also a camp resort if you fancy sleeping in a cabin, wagon or tepee! PortAventura, Spain Located just one hour from Barcelona, this park is divided into six thematic areas. Enjoy the adrenaline rush of Dragon Khan, a terrifying roller coaster with 8 inverted loops, or test your courage on the 'Hurakan Condor', a ride boasting a 300 feet free fall at more than 70 miles per hour - this not for the faint-hearted! The resort includes 4 hotels and a new water park, Aquapark Costa Caribe. Tivoli Gardens, Denmark Outside there is Copenhagen, inside, through the gates of Tivoli, is one of the oldest theme parks in Europe - this year it’s famous wooden roller coaster turns 100 and will be transformed to its original look. The Demon, Golden Tower and Vertigo can challenge the big, while The Flying Trunk, Little Aviator and Veteran cars will be a hit with the kids. The Tivoli Illuminations transform the Tivoli Lake into a dream universe consisting of light, water, fire and smoke and with fireworks every Saturday and live music every day, there really is something here for everyone. Gardaland, Italy Located on the stunning Lake Garda. In a beautiful landscaped and imaginative theme area, fast-paced attractions await you, including the new Raptor roller coaster and Blue Tornado. The main attractions, besides the large number of shows, have got to be the elaborately designed and mastered water attractions. Zoomarine, Algarve, Portugal A beautiful theme park inspired by marine life with a focus on entertainment, leisure and environmental education. There are animal shows, 4D cinema, aquarium, habitats for species such as alligators and aquatic birds, rehabilitation and exhibition centres, pools and green areas and lots of rides. You can also enjoy the Dolphin Interaction Programme - a unique opportunity to interact with trained bottlenose dolphins! Alton Towers, UK Heavy on the high-fear factor rides, Alton Towers is home to the world’s first 14 inversion roller coaster, named The Smiler as well as the Nemesis, which takes riders over rivers of blood and rock, reaching G-forces greater than a space shuttle launch. Consider staying in the Alton Towers Hotel, which has themed rooms such as the Moon Voyage and Sonic the Hedgehog.
04 September 2014
Family adventure holidays come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you want to search for orangutans in the rainforests of Borneo or get off the beaten track in Morocco, there are trips to suit every family. Parents with younger children generally prefer destinations with the shortest flight times, hence the popularity of the likes of Morocco, Turkey and Africa, but once the children are older, say from 8 years, parents are more likely to consider long haul trips such as Cuba or Borneo. Whatever the destination chosen, you will find that family adventure holidays are designed to balance exciting activities with the right mix of free time and usually offer up-close and personal encounters with the people and places in each destination - such as stays in a jungle camp to sleeping under the stars in the Sahara in traditional Bedouin tents. Here is a taste of where your adventure can bring you….. GALAPAGOS ISLANDS Encounter the island chain that has enchanted explorers since Darwin first weighed anchor off its shores. Take a cruise exploring Ecuador’s extraordinarily preserved Galapagos Islands, spend time in the National Park snorkelling with sea lions and sea turtles and get up close to iguanas, giant tortoises and exotic birdlife. The Galapagos is a wildlife wonderland for children! MOROCCO Morocco, with its stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, has so much to offer. Explore the twisting alleyways of the ancient medina, browse the souks selling colourful pottery and carpets, while beyond hear the sound of a muezzin calling to prayer drifting across the orange plantations. Visit the old walled city of Marrakech and the remote villages of the Berbers, hidden away in the folds of the Atlas Mountains. Move on to the Atlantic coast to ride camels along the beach and explore the old pirate hideout of Essaouira. JORDAN Journey to the Lost City - explore the towering sandstone landscapes of Wadi Rum and camp Bedouin-style, under vast star-filled skies. Enjoy a gorge walk in Wadi Ibn Hammad and a visit to the crusader castle of Karak. Arrive at the awe-inspiring Petra, the superb 'pink city' of the Nabateans which was carved by hand from solid rock, it is sure to be a highlight of the trip. Descend to the lowest point on Earth, the incredible Dead Sea, where you can swim and snorkel in the salty and amazingly buoyant waters. CHINA China is that rare place that looks to the future while embracing its past, an incredible place for an adventure covering times both ancient and modern. Start in Beijing, visit the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall. Move on to Xi’an for a summit with the Terracotta Warriors. Spend time in the rugged beauty of rural Yangshuo before ending your adventure in bustling Hong Kong. VIETNAM Gifted with a staggering abundance of delicious food, fascinating culture, untouched nature and friendly people, Vietnam has more than earned its reputation as one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. Explore Hanoi by cyclo, cruise the peaks in Halong Bay, visit the Imperial Citadel and take a boat trip to a floating market. Visit Hoi An and take a boat trip along the Mekong Delta, ending your trip in the bustling Ho Chi Minh City. So start planning your family adventure today, you'll create memories that will forge bonds for a lifetime! “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
04 September 2014
A skip and a hop away….. Druids Glen Resort, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow Surrounded by Wicklow’s rolling hills, and voted “Family Friendly Hotel of the Year 2014” by the Georgina Campbell Guide, this 5* hotel provides an array of activities including complimentary resort bikes. Families will love the summer BBQs and ice cream cart on the deck! Parknasilla Resort, Sneem, Co Kerry Overlooking Kenmare Bay, Parknasilla is a beautiful resort with something for all the family. Families can choose a suite in the hotel, a 2 bed Courtyard lodge or 3 bed Woodland villa. Kids will love the new fairy and nature trails. The pool and spa are the ultimate in luxury. Just a plane away…. Princesa Yaiza Resort, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote Located on the promenade in Playa Blanca, you can stroll to shops, bars and restaurants. The rooms here are fantastic, 1 and 2 bedroom suites all with kitchenettes. The beach is sandy and safe and the kids will love Kikoland, a super kid’s club area offering pool, playground and supervised activities. Forte Village, Sardinia This world renowned resort is set on the edge of Sandy Bay and hidden amongst 55 acres of pine trees, with 8 luxurious hotels and 44 suites. There is a nursery for 0-2 year olds and the complimentary ‘Children's City’ for kids aged 2-12 is a super facility with play parks, shady areas and shallow pools. Creative workshops allow kids to model clay, cook pizza, play instruments, dance, learn Italian and even paint on canvas. There is a dedicated children’s restaurant and fun will be had at ‘Leisureland’ with trampolines, bowling and go-karting. A Teen Club keeps 13-17 year olds busy, along with the Chelsea football academy, 8 other sporting academies, watersports of all types and diving too. Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel, Sagres, Portugal Martinhal is where luxury meets nature and is one of the best luxury family resorts in Europe. Positioned on a stunning sandy beach within a natural park near the old fishing port of Sagres, the hotel has a small number of rooms with the resort mainly made up of various house type accommodations. Kids will love chilling on the bean bags by the pool, there’s tennis, a sports club, gym, spa, water sports, kid’s clubs, gated playground and a crèche from 6 months. Sheraton Algarve Hotel & Pine Cliffs Resort, Albufeira, Portugal Nestled upon 72 acres of landscaped gardens and pine groves, this resort is situated on a stunning cliff top overlooking Praia da Falesia beach to which there is direct access via a lift no less! The 2 and 3 bedroom Pine Cliff Residences are perfect for families. Two giant pirate ships anchor the incredible Porto Pirata, a vast children's village for kids aged 6mths- 8 years and the junior’s club keeps kids aged 6-12 years well entertained too. The resort has countless relaxation and sports facilities and the new Annabel Croft tennis academy is sure to prove popular. Worth the effort….. Sani Beach Resort, Halkidiki, Greece There are 4 hotels set in a 1,000-acre ecological reserve made up of forests, olive groves and white sandy beaches. Superb facilities include a yacht marina, over 30 bars and restaurants, a state of the art sports complex, a football academy, diving centre, and open air cinema. The Melissa Crèche is for children 4mths-4 years (payable locally), the Melissa mini club for kids 4-11 and the teenagers club for 13-16 years are complimentary. On the beach, the Babe Watch nannies will take care of babies and toddlers while you enjoy a swim! Carlisle Bay, Antigua A member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’, this luxurious boutique hotel is set on a perfect sandy beach. The crèche and Cool Kids club are set in the hotel's tropical gardens, an air-conditioned centre with large shaded terrace, jungle gym, sandpit, pool and mini tennis courts. For the older kids things get more adventurous with raft-building in the mangroves, star-fish hunting and zip-lining, while teens can chill out at Crush, playing pool, shooting basketball hoops or wake-boarding.
14 April 2014
Dubai is more than a place to visit, it is a place to experience, a one of a kind destination. We flew direct from Dublin to Dubai with Emirates, in Business Class which was outstanding – fantastic food, exceptional comfort, super entertainment and faultless service. On disembarking in Dubai, I left the aircraft feeling like I had already been somewhere! We stayed at the Jebel Ali Beach and Golf resort. It’s a 40 minute drive from Dubai’s centre and the hotel is set next to the beach with acres of lush green lawns where hundreds of peacocks roam. It is a relaxed resort, has a golf course, a spa, kids clubs, water sports, and also has a complimentary shuttle to/from Dubai city. On our first morning, after an impressive breakfast, we took to the skies in a seaplane for an aerial tour of Dubai. I would highly recommend this tour, especially at the start of your trip as it gives a great outline of the city and surrounding areas. We spent a relaxing afternoon on the beach - there were lots of families, however, as there was so much space the hotel didn’t feel crowded. The next day we spent time at Burj Khalifa’s 124th-floor observation deck where we got unrivalled views of Dubai’s well-crafted cityscape. Surrounded by hotels and shopping complexes, the Burj Khalifa is a magnificent centrepiece to downtown Dubai. We visited Dubai Mall, the largest Mall in the world - last year this Mall had more visitors than New York City! There are over 1200 shops and lots of family attractions. We toured the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo which was incredible It has a 48 metre walk-through tunnel, glass bottom boat rides and an amazing 10 million litre tank. Within the mall we also visited Kidzania – a unique ‘edutainment’ experience encouraging children to role play in jobs like, a surgeon, firefighter, chef, mechanic, artist, and police officer. It is based on a city built to a small person’s scale, which allows children to ‘work’, earn ‘money’ and then spend it in a variety of ways. If you are in Dubai with children, this is a must! For older children and teenagers the mall also houses Sega Republic - a huge amusement arcade full of thrills. If that’s not enough to keep you busy there is also the Mall of the Emirates where you will find Ski Dubai – the ultimate indoor snow resort where you can ski, toboggan and even build a snowman! There are also two fantastic waterparks, Aquaventure at the Atlantis Hotel and Wild Wadi at Jumeirah beach. We watched the Dubai fountain at the base of the Burj Khalifa - the largest choreographed water display in the world. The performance of music and light featured over 6600 lights and sent water shooting 150 metres into the air. It was spectacular and a surprisingly moving experience. We spent our last two nights at the Palm Tree Court hotel, which is located next to the Jebel Ali hotel. It is a spacious resort with low rise 1 and 2 bedroom suites, surrounded by lush gardens full of streams and ponds. A great place to visit was Dubai Creek where wooden cargo “Dhows” from Asia still arrive with spices. We took an Abra (water taxi) across to the traditional gold and spice souks that have changed little over the centuries. The perfume of exotic spices and the dazzling silks take you back to an era of long ago. We went on a Desert Safari, a 4x4 jeep took us into the heart of the desert for a rollercoaster tour down the astonishing high sand dunes, we watched sunset in the desert and ate dinner under the stars in a Bedouin style camp. This was by far my favourite tour. I found Dubai to be exceptionally safe, English is spoken everywhere and transport is cheap and plentiful. Due to its large international population, restaurants offer extraordinary choice for every budget. I would recommend Dubai for a short break, a great family holiday or as a stopover point. Dubai is fascinating, surprising and affordable.
15 January 2014
We are a mixed bag and needed to cater for myself and my husband, both skiers, Harry, age 11 - skiing since he was 4, Ava, age 8 - non skier, and Robyn age 4 -ski learner! So after much research we finally settled on Kaprun in Austria - a short transfer time, family friendly and being beside Zell am See/glacier ski option, were the main attractions for us. We flew to Salzburg, picked up our hire car and headed south for Kaprun. This was to be our fourth family ski holiday, however our first time to stay self-catering in a town apartment, previous times we stayed in resort hotels. We were a little apprehensive embarking on a self-catering ski trip, however, we found the flexibility it offered well worthwhile and there were plenty of shops in the village to stock up on provisions. Kaprun is a small resort, the next town on from the larger resort of Zell am See. It is set at the foot of the breathtaking Kitzsteinhorn Glacier. We were very impressed with the apartment, our balcony faced the Maiskogel Mountain with a clear view of the piste and chair lifts, having this outdoor space was fantastic - to be able to sit outdoors surrounded by the snowcapped peaks was therapy in itself. The next day we arranged our ski hire and lift passes. We organised individual ski lessons for Robyn, and we skied the slopes in the village. The slopes in Kaprun were good for the capable skier, with plenty of mountain restaurants for the all-important ski stops! We skied for two days in Kaprun and then moved on to the slopes in Zell am See. The skiing there was fantastic, it’s a busier resort, with longer lift journeys to the mountain tops, but the scenery was amazing with plenty of piste options from green to black runs catering for all grades of skiers. Both ski resorts are very easily navigated and ideal for families. There was so much to do in this area off the slopes, which I think is important when it’s a family holiday. Kaprun is home to the Maisiflitzer, an alpine rollercoaster on the side of the Maiskogel mountain - the track is located in the village center beside the ski lifts. You are pulled 750m up the mountain and can then enjoy/scream every second of the 1,300m long descent! The kids loved it and needless to say there were return visits. We made nightly trips to the Tauern Spa complex in Kaprun, another huge attraction in this resort. The Tauern is one of Austria’s leading spa hotels with an incredible 20,000m2 dedicated to a state-of-the-art leisure area of pools, waterslides, saunas and steam rooms with panoramic views of the Hohe Tauern National Park from the glass walls and ceilings. The combination of easy local skiing, the mountain rollercoaster and the amazing pool/spa complex made this family ski holiday a huge success… our action packed week meant we didn’t get to visit the Gipfelwelt 3000 – a cable car ride to the Kitzsteinhorn summit station at 3,029 metres, the highest excursion destination in the region of Salzburg, but it’s always a good idea to leave a reason to return! Planning a family ski holiday is challenging and being on a family ski holiday takes a lot of energy but the rewards outweigh all of that. Nothing beats the feeling of success as you complete a ski run with your child by your side, the thrill of skiing in beautiful surroundings, the crisp fresh mountain air and the feeling of achievement and exhilaration when you reach the valley floor in one piece. Give it a try, I promise you will be hooked too. Please call me if you are planning a ski holiday and I would be delighted to help you arrange your trip.
15 January 2014
We have taken many ‘mobile home’ holidays in Europe - it offers great flexibility, the kids have plenty of immediate outdoor space to play, the self-catering is handy to have and for the most part we can tailor it so that we all get something out of the holiday! On this occasion we flew to Rodez, which was a 2 hour drive north of our coastal destination, Agde, France. We collected our hire car and set off, our journey taking us through the stunning scenery of the Massif Central mountain range and across the famous Millau viaduct – the world's highest multi-span bridge (the deck is 900ft above the valley floor at its deepest) and the longest suspended bridge in the world – an engineering wonder of the world and a great start to our arrival in France. We arrived at our campsite, the Yelloh Villagé Mer et Soleil. Our accommodation was in the Premium area of the park, in a Taos cottage, a modern design mobile home with luxury that would rival any resort accommodation. The premium area itself had a zen atmosphere, with decking, landscaping and water features, it was also a pedestrian only area which is a great benefit when you have young kids! The campsite had a fantastic pool area, which had just been refurbished, with a super toddler pool and great slides for the older kids. Onsite there was everything you could need, Wi-Fi, bike rental, bakery, grocery, laundry service, restaurant, spa centre, playground and kids club. The fantastic Rochelongue beach was a short 1km away, this made beach visits easy and allowed for many an impromptu evening trip to the beach with the kids. There was a superb restaurant right on the beach, Les Vagues, there was also a beach bar which had loungers to rent – fantastic facility to have so near to the campsite. This area of France has many beautiful historic towns to visit and river swimming is also a big attraction. We managed to pry the kids from the waterslides at the camp-park, and headed an hour away for our first day trip. Wedged at the bottom of a dramatic ravine and stretching out along winding streets is the village of St Guilhem le Désert, originally developed around Gellone Abbey, and just a few kilometres from the Pont du Diable (Devil's Bridge). Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites by virtue of their being on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. This was the most amazing French village we had ever visited, wandering its ancient alleyways made you feel like you were on a movie set, it was a beautiful place and very atmospheric. We were very fortunate to visit the town on the one day of the year where time is cast back several hundred years to re-enact life as it was then. Locals dressed in medieval clothes, traditional food was on offer and crafts such as stone carving were displayed and the kids had fun trying their hand at it too. We had lunch beneath the trees in the Place de la Liberté, explored the ancient Abbey and visited the many craft shops in the hidden alleyways. Under the shadow of the great Pont Du Diable, we finished off the day with a swim in the Herault River – a magical day had by all. On another outing we headed to the nearby town of Marseillan, a sweet fishing village with 101 seafood restaurants that line the port. It is home to the Noilly Prat factory, we took the tour to see how the classic French aperitif is made and stored in enormous wood barrels left out in the sun. We had dinner in a fantastic restaurant by the port and much to the kids delight, made it home for the all-important mini disco at the campsite! Some of the best places on earth don’t have a hotel for miles - they have great beaches, beautiful countryside and authentic charm. These are the places where you’ll find great family campsites which offer you the chance to escape from the everyday and just have fun, places where you can enjoy many activities, new experiences and create everlasting memories. If you are interested in booking a holiday like this, please contact me and I would be delighted to arrange it for you.
15 January 2014
Las Vegas, which ironically means ‘the meadows’ in Spanish, was everything we expected it to be and more. Nothing can prepare you for your first sight of Las Vegas with its movie-set skyline and spectacular lights. ‘The Strip’ in Las Vegas is a 4 mile long road, lined with some of the world’s biggest hotels, resorts and casinos, in fact fifteen of the world's 25 largest hotels by room count are here, with a total of over 62,000 rooms! To say that these hotels are spectacular is an understatement and that makes a stroll down this illuminated boulevard an experience that cannot be had anywhere else. Each lavishly themed resort is a ticket to an entirely new realm – this is what earns Las Vegas the much deserved title of “Entertainment Capital of the World”. We stayed in the Egyptian themed hotel Luxor for 4 nights, a 30 story onyx-hued pyramid topped with the most powerful light beam on earth. Vegas was non-stop entertainment - we loved the Bellagio’s lakefront fountains dancing to music, the volcano erupting at the Mirage, the Manhattan Express rollercoaster ride atop New York hotel, the Stratosphere Tower, the Cirque du Soleil show in the Bellagio, gaming lessons at our hotel and even a visit to the shooting range. The shopping was fantastic, The Premium Outlets (North & South) were super value, however, my favourite were the Forum Shops at the Caesars Palace Hotel – they are set in a dark stormy indoor mall, the ceiling of the mall has clouds rolling overhead with regular intervals of thunder and lightning and rain actually falling from the ceiling. I would recommend booking shows/tours before you go (I can help you with this) as it can be heavily booked through all seasons. We found it helpful to start exploring at one end of the strip and we worked our way to the other end over the course of the trip, either way, be prepared for a lot of walking and pack comfortable shoes! We made the short trip to the famous Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area which I would highly recommend. We travelled on to visit Nevada's oldest state park, Valley of Fire, which preserves a starkly beautiful section of the Mojave Desert known for its brilliantly red sandstone formations (sunset is the best time to visit as the red colour is enhanced late in the day) – this is a natural wonder that must be seen to be appreciated. We loved Las Vegas, it has something for everyone and every mood, whether you want to visit places of natural beauty, stay in a lavish hotel, see a world class show or just relax by the pool, Las Vegas has it all. If you are interested in taking a trip to Las Vegas, please give me a call, I would be delighted to help you arrange the trip.
21 January 2014
A holiday in a motorhome may not be on everyone’s ‘to do list’, however, I would recommend it to all, from singles, to couples and especially families - with your fridge and bathroom at your back what more could you need! Exploring America in a motor home is an exciting adventure - you get to be in control and spend as much or as little time in each place as you choose. It was 2002 and I was 5 months pregnant with baby number one hence, the aptly christened ‘Last Hurrah’ trip was booked. We flew Dublin to Los Angeles and on to Vancouver, where we picked up our wheels in Bellingham, a 29ft long, 6 berth, 4.5 litre camper van. We were super impressed with our home/transport for the next 14 days. Driving down Highway 101, our first stop was Anacortes, Washington, where we took an unforgettable boat trip spotting a pod of 20 killer orca whales off the San Juan Islands. The coast of Oregon had the most amazing scenery, forest covered mountains on one side with vast ocean views on the other. Next, a visit to the Redwood National Park where we walked under the giant Redwood trees, many of them 5 stories taller than the Statue of Liberty. We spent an action packed day in San Francisco. A ferry from beside the RV Park brought us straight to Pier 39 where we took a motorised cable car tram tour for a few hours. We visited the Palace of Fine Arts, the Golden Gate Bridge Fort, Chinatown & a ferry trip to Alcatraz for a guided tour, this is a must when in San Francisco. Back in the city we had dinner in the Italian Quarter and by chance got to see the most amazing firework display – all in aid of a radio station launch! Being in the city was great, but we missed our log fires and the open road, so it was on to Yosemite National Park. It was spectacular driving through the park - we stopped so many times to picture the postcard views, the breath-taking sights of the Half Dome, El Capitan and endless waterfalls. We visited Lake Tahoe and while travelling on to Mammoth Lakes, took a small detour to a ghost town called Bodie -originally a gold mining town in the 1860’s. There is only 5% of the original town buildings left, when you visit now you see the town literally as its inhabitants left it. Looking in the house windows you see clothes still hanging on the backs of doors, shoes still under the bed - even the town store which sold everything from explosives to toothpaste, still had its shelves stocked. An amazing place to visit, we were both very moved by it. As we drove towards Death Valley the terrain changed from snow-capped mountains to the dry desert mountains of sand and rock. We didn’t notice the change in temperature until we stopped for lunch and stepped out of the RV…the heat hit us like a brick wall! The remaining 100 mile drive was quite tough, crossing two mountain ranges, both almost 6,000ft high. We were nearing our quite appropriately named destination of Furnace Creek, we rounded a bend and out of nowhere appeared an oasis of trees and civilisation. We made a 5.30am trip to Zabriskie Point, an area surrounded by a maze of wildly eroded and vibrantly coloured badlands. The views at sunrise were beautiful – Mother Nature never failed to impress us on this journey. Back on the road again it was a surreal sight to see Las Vegas spring out of the desert in the distance ahead. Having completed an amazing 2,200 mile trip, we returned the RV to El Monte’s base in Las Vegas. We had the journey of a lifetime, such huge diversity in the places we visited - in essence we experienced the real ‘America’. We met many families on our way and this would be the most fantastic holiday to take with children, contrary to our original assumptions! If you are interested in a holiday like this, please call me, I would be delighted to help you arrange the trip.
Maynooth, Co. Kildare 06/10/2017
Stepaside, Dublin 07/04/2017
Carrick on Shannon 11/05/2016
Athlone , Co. Westmeath 02/11/2015
Kildare, Ireland 15/04/2014
Perth WA 15/04/2014