Sent by Frank Murphy
Tullamore Offaly 29/03/2023
Based in Clara, Offaly
I am passionate about travel and bringing dream holidays to life. Travel for me is about making memories that will stay with you forever and the world has so many amazing destinations to explore.
As we return to the world of travel post pandemic, it is now more important than ever to have a professional looking after you.
I personally love to travel and have been lucky enough to visit many wonderful destinations. My first trip of 2023 was to Las Vegas in January where we flew business class with British Airways, something I highly recommend doing if flying long haul and I stayed at the Wynn Hotel which is one of my favourite and best hotels in the world, I love a luxury hotel!
My favourite type of holiday is cruising, there is nothing like the luxury of a cruise ship and waking up somewhere new each morning, it is a fabulous holiday for any age. Last year my family and I cruised on the biggest and newest ship Wonder of the Seas and 3 generations of family had the best holiday, it’s a fantastic holiday to take with your family and something all generations will enjoy.
If I cannot cruise then my favourite destination to visit is the USA, I visit somewhere in the USA each year and love everything about what the United States has to offer, especially Orlando where I have been lucky to visit each year with my family for the past 15 years.
Travel Counsellors is a global company that I am very excited to be part of, and it means I have access to amazing destinations, travel experiences and suppliers for my clients. We are licensed and bonded in Ireland with the Commission for Aviation Regulation which means your money is safe.
My service does not end at the booking process, I also provide an emergency service when you are travelling, should you need me I am at the end of the phone 24/7. I work on a one-to-one basis with each client, and I am available by appointment outside normal working hours including evenings and weekends to accommodate you.
I would love to help you with your travel needs. I specialise in Cruise, Honeymoons and luxury worldwide tailormade travel so whether it is a city break, your honeymoon, a family holiday, a cruise, that once in a lifetime trip or a tailor-made package. I would be delighted to hear from you.
I sincerely look forward to dealing with you and welcome all types of enquiries.
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.
23 August 2018
I was so excited to enjoy my first cruise, I sailed on Allure of the Seas ship from Royal Caribbean, one of the Oasis Class ships which are the worlds biggest. The itinerary for our Eastern Caribbean cruise included stop overs in the islands of the Bahamas, St Thomas and St Marteen. We spent a couple of nights in South Beach Miami before our cruise. We took a one hour taxi from Miami to Fort Lauderdale Cruise Terminal. Check in at the cruise terminal was very quick and soon we were on board enjoying cocktails by the pool. Soon after 1pm our cabin was ready and at 4.30pm we set sail from Port Everglades Fort Lauderdale. Setting sail was one of the highlights, it really is an experience sailing from Fort Lauderdale out to sea, the set sail party kicks off a week of entertainment. Our first night was so enjoyable, we dined at Chops Grille one of their specialty restaurants and it was so amazing that we returned here 4 out of the 7 nights. We paid extra for their speciality dining package and it was well worth it, the food was excellent. Our first port of call was Nassau in the Bahamas, our ship was first into the Port, so it meant we got ahead of the rest of the cruise crowds. Atlantis is the main attraction in Nassau, but it is a lovely port to just wander around the town itself and do some shopping. The sail away from Nassau was a sight to behold overlooking Atlantis and the turquoise water of the bay was amazing. A big highlight for me was watching the sunsets from my balcony. We booked an ocean view balcony cabin and it really is worth the extra cost, it was lovely to sit on the balcony throughout the day and watch the ship leaving the ports and the sunsets were just stunning. St Thomas was our second port of call and we spent the day in Megans Bay a beach on the far side of the island, a taxi from town cost $16 return and it was $5 to enter the beach. I loved it here, Megans Bay had a fabulous white sandy beach and turquoise water, we were blessed with the weather and it was amazing to swim in the water here. I would return to this beach in a heartbeat. St Thomas and St Marteen are fantastic places to buy jewellery, on board the ship they host seminars about the various gemstones you can purchase and the islands are duty free so you can pick up some real bargains… perfect to combine a cruise with the search for the perfect engagement ring.. hint hint!! St Marteen was our final port of call, I was most excited to see this island particularly for the famous airport beach, Maho Bay. The planes land across from the beach here and they fly right over your head as you are standing on the beach. Maho Beach is amazing, another white sandy beach with turquoise water, I loved swimming in here and getting to see the planes land over our head was a bucket list item for me, it was very cool. I really liked this beach it has a great bar and restaurant at the entrance and they had local musicians play music outdoors, it had a lovely atmosphere. This island was directly in the path of Hurricane Irma which hit the island in 2017, apart from the port area which is perfectly rebuilt, the rest of the island is devastated. It was quite shocking for me to see the scale of devastation; the island and people here are rebuilding their lives and I commend Royal Caribbean for visiting and supporting the island. Every crew member I spoke with throughout the week said that they loved St Marteen the most and I really hope the island and locals get back to their best soon. The entertainment throughout the week was fantastic, there was so much to choose. Everything from acrobatic shows, bingo, ice skating and family game shows and even a Broadway musical, every minute of the day is filled with something to keep you entertained. While there is non stop entertainment, the ship is so big with areas of pure relaxation if you want to chill and read a book with a nice glass of wine. I visited the spa during on the sea days, every day they had a special offer on and it was a lovely treat. Another favourite of mine was the Solarium, this is an adult only area at the front of the ships with floor to ceiling views of the ocean, pools and hot tubes and a bar for you to enjoy. Most people here spent the day reading and enjoying the pool and hot tub. I loved the ocean views and the peace from this area. Since coming home from this cruise I feel like it is the ultimate holiday, a cruise is perfect for all ages. I cannot recommend a cruise holiday highly enough and I would love to help you with your cruise holiday. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch anytime. Warm Regards, Lorraine
23 August 2018
In May 2018, I was invited by Etihad Airways and Tourism Thailand on a familiarization trip. Our trip included stops in Bangkok, Phuket, Racha and Phi Phi Island. I was delighted to get this opportunity to view fantastic resorts on offer and experience local Thai cuisine and culture. Our first two nights were spent in Bangkok, after which we travelled to Phuket. We flew from Bangkok to Phuket with Bangkok Airlines. The airline was very good, each passenger had access to its airport lounge where it had complimentary Wi-Fi, drinks and snacks. The flight from Bangkok to Phuket is only an hour long and once we landed we made our way to Chalong Pier. From here we needed to take a speed boat to reach our next hotel which was the Koh Racha Resort on Racha Island. The boats leave at 3 different times throughout the day and the resort has a private lounge in Chalong Pier for you to wait. The lounge was comfortable with complimentary Wi-Fi, drinks and snacks and while you wait they will check you in and give you a choice of what scent you want in your room; lemongrass, jasmine or lavender. My choice was Jasmine. The speed boat from Chalong Pier to Koh Racha took only 30 minutes, the views were amazing along the way. Most trips to Thailand will involve a speed boat or ferry at some point, especially if you decide to a 2 or 3 stop holiday. If you are visiting any of the islands you will get to enjoy some incredible scenery and sights of Thailand’s landscape, I loved getting the speed boats to each island. Koh Racha: We arrived around 4pm just in time for one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen. Koh Racha is beautiful, we were upgraded to their pool villa, it was a spacious villa with separate living room, bathroom and its own private outdoor villa and rainforest shower. This could be the best resort I have ever had the privilege of staying in. I loved my time in this resort, the food was amazing offering a fantastic mix of Thai and Western food, and if you did not want to lie by the infinity pool or on the beach all day, the resort offers activities like ATV mountain bike tours and water sports each day. Patong: Patong was next on our tour and we spent 2 nights in the Kalima Resort in Patong. This was a modern hotel built into the hills overlooking Patong Beach. Patong has great nightlife, local restaurants and lots of day trips on offer. Patong at night is very lively, the party can go on all night and if you are looking for somewhere lively to enjoy some drinks I recommend a walk down Bangla Road. We also visited Phuket Town, I really liked the vibe here, it has lots of Portuguese architecture all over and there are lovely cafés, local restaurants and shops in Phuket. Elephants and Thailand are notorious and one of the most requested day trips is an up-close experience with Elephants. We visited a retirement home for Elephants near Phuket town, it was an incredible experience, one which will stay with me for a long time. We got to interact with the rescue elephants, feed them and watch them bathe. They are beautiful creatures and there unfortunately is a history of mistreatment in Thailand, so it is important to choose wisely and visit a sanctuary where they do not allow Elephant rides and the animals are treated well. They are beautiful animals, and this was probably my favourite activity of the whole trip. I really enjoyed Phuket, it has a great mix of beach, relaxation, restaurants and night life on offer with resorts to suit all ages, the local people are so friendly, and the weather was stunning. I would love to help you with your travel plans to Thailand, if you have any questions please get in touch anytime. Warm Regards, Lorraine
27 August 2018
I always wanted to visit Miami so when I booked a Caribbean cruise I decided to spend a couple of nights before the cruise checking out this amazing city. I stayed in the South Beach area which was the perfect location for a few days in Miami. My hotel in South Beach was across the street from the beach, the location was perfect, and I loved relaxing on Miami's famous beach. I never realised what a huge city Miami is and South Beach, although one of the main tourist areas of Miami, is only a fraction of the city. Downtown Miami is filled with shopping and the bay area is stunning, a great place to enjoy lunch or dinner. You can sit and watch all the boats in the bay, the cruise ships can also be seen from here. Miami is also water sports heaven! Everywhere you turn there are boats, jet skis, yachts, cruise ships, it is just an amazing sight to see. South Beach itself is lovely, we spent an afternoon just relaxing on the beach, you can see the cruise ships sailing out to sea, rent jet skis, play volleyball, there is just so much going on. We stopped in the neighbourhood of Little Havana. Such a vibrant area of Miami, we watched groups of people get together and play games like cards and dominos in the neighbourhood park, you can try amazing Mojitos or smoke Cuban rolled cigars and enjoy some Latin music. Miami has so much to offer, it is perfect for a pre-cruise city break and with lots of great shopping and year-round sunshine, I highly recommend Miami as a stand-alone city break or a stopover on route to a Caribbean beach break. If you would like to get in touch about a trip to Miami or the USA I would love to hear from you, please get in touch anytime. Warm Regards, Lorraine
23 August 2018
In May 2018, I was invited by Etihad Airways and Tourism Thailand on a familiarization trip. Our trip included stops in Bangkok, Phuket, Racha and Phi Phi Island. I was delighted to get this opportunity to view fantastic resorts on offer and experience local Thai cuisine and culture. Phi Phi Island: One of the most famous islands to visit in Thailand is Phi Phi and I was so excited to see it for myself. We spent our final night in Phi Phi Island Village Resort. From Phuket we headed for the Marina, the speed boat to Phi Phi takes an hour and the scenery on this speed boat trip was the best out of the whole trip. The approach to Phi Phi Island is amazing and as you get closer to the resort the water changes the colour to crystal clear turquoise it was incredible! The warm turquoise waters of Thailand are at every beach, but Phi Phi Island just felt extra special. The resort is really nice, very tropical and each room was in the design of a tiki hut with a nice balcony. The spa is excellent, I treated myself to another Thai massage before our long flight home, this massage was better than Bangkok and the lady even French plated my hair, perfect for the plane journey! Phi Phi Island has lots of water sports on offer, you can hike up to the famous view point which from the Village resort took about an hour, on certain months of the year you can visit Maya Bay which was made famous by the movie ‘The Beach’, it has since become one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Thailand. I feel so lucky to have stayed on Phi Phi Island I loved it and recommend it for anyone to visit. The local gypsy village is a short walk from the resort and if you are looking for a cool little spot to enjoy a few drinks, they have a small strip of tiki bars and local restaurants that you can enjoy. I loved Thailand, it is somewhere I know I will return to again and again. My favourite places were the islands. The beaches in Thailand are on another level, amazing white sand and warm turquoise waters, you really do feel like you’re in paradise. I would recommend Thailand to everyone, throughout my week I met travellers of all ages, families with young children, groups of friends and even a retired couple who loved it. It has so much to offer, the people are so friendly, the weather is always warm, and the food is great. If you would like to speak about your travel plans for Thailand, I would love to hear from you, please get in touch anytime. Warm Regards, Lorraine
03 August 2018
In May 2018, I was invited by Etihad Airways and Tourism Thailand on a familiarisation trip. Our trip included stops in Bangkok, Phuket, Racha and Phi Phi Island. I was delighted to get this opportunity to view fantastic resorts on offer and experience local Thai cuisine and culture. We flew with Etihad Airways from Dublin to Bangkok via Abu Dhabi Business Class. It is no surprise that I loved business class, Etihad Airways have one of the best business class services in the industry and everything was fantastic. The stewards on board were excellent, the quality of food was the best I have experienced, and the lie flat beds made the flights the most comfortable I have ever been in the skies. Bangkok: Our first stop was Bangkok, we spent two nights in the Riverside area in the lovely Anantara Riverside Hotel. This hotel felt like a quiet retreat amidst all the chaos of Bangkok city, very comfortable and family friendly, the food was lovely and the rooms very comfortable. The adjoining Avanti hotel had a more modern and business feel to it and the rooftop bar and pool had amazing views of Bangkok. Bangkok is the busiest city I have been too, there is so much happening, and the city has lots to do. On our first day we were treated to a traditional Thai massage, this is a really good idea especially after the long flights. The massage is very relaxing they use a technique of pressure points throughout the body, there are so many spas in Bangkok and the massage was very reasonable, I highly recommend treating yourself to one. We visited Bangkok’s Temples and were taken on a Tuk Tuk Street Food Tour at night that brought us all around the city visiting some of the most famous local restaurants and street food, it was quite an experience. The following day we headed for Ayutthaya, it is about an hour outside Bangkok and here we took a cycling tour around Ayutthaya Historical Park and its Temple Compound Wats. Many local people and monks were attending temple here and praying to the Buddha. The river is a huge part of Bangkok, it is used as a method of transportation by locals and has many companies offering lunch and dinner buffets. We were treated to a buffet cruise for lunch and for dinner our hotel served a traditional menu of Thai food in a luxury boat, it was a lovely experience. On our last night in Bangkok, we went to the rooftop bar in the Avanti Riverside Hotel, their bar overlooks Bangkok and the cocktails here were delicious.Bangkok is perfect for a 1 or 2 night stopover to start or finish your travels in Thailand, if you would like more information or help with your own travels to Thailand please feel free to get in touch anytime.
20 January 2018
I spent a lovely weekend in early December in the beautiful city of Budapest. Hungary’s capital is a favourite with unique attractions such as their thermal baths, beautiful buildings, great shopping and nightlife where their ruin bars a must do. I was joined my husband and our friends, and we stayed in the Boscolo Hotel. This hotel is stunning, I love the Boscolo Collection of Hotels, once a palace it is one of Budapest’s top 5* hotels. A bonus of becoming a guest in the Boscolo is the world-famous New York Café is part of the building. Open to the public 7 days a week it can take up to an hour or more to get a table but if you are a hotel guest you get VIP access and skip the queue, a welcome bonus when the coffee craving hits. As we visited in early December the city’s Christmas markets were in full swing. I was really pleased with the Christmas markets in Budapest, and found there was a large selection of hand crafted unique items for sale. Budapest as a city is stunning, I was blown away by the history, beautiful architecture and sheer size of the city, it is huge! One weekend is simply not enough to see everything. The weather was in our favour all weekend, although it was freezing at night, the days were dry and crisp and we even had snow! The thermal baths in Budapest are one of their main attractions, and I highly recommend a visit.There are many public baths located throughout the city open both day and night, the water is said to have healing properties and a trip to Budapest would not be complete without a visit to one of them. The city is so big the best way to get around is the public transport, we used the buses all weekend, tickets were extremely cheap. Bear in mind, the currency was a little tricky to get use to but in general everything is very reasonable in price especially food and drink. For night life you can enjoy some lovely restaurants for a nice meal or for something fun visit some of the Ruin Bars in the cities Jewish quarter.I would recommend you to visit the Castle, Hero Square where they also had an ice-skating rink, take a walk along the famous Chain Bridge and enjoy the atmosphere of this amazing city. Budapest is great to visit year-round, I highly recommend this city and will return. If you would like help planning your own trip to Budapest I would love to hear from you get in touch anytime.
15 January 2018
I took a quick trip to Athens on my way to Santorini in October. I enjoyed a lovely two nights stay in the Royal Olympic Hotel. I went for my 30th Birthday and the hotel were kind enough to upgrade us to a panoramic suite with balcony overlooking the Temple of Zeus and views of the Acropolis. This hotel was perfect for our stay, we were a short walk from the Acropolis, the tour bus stopped around the corner from the hotel and the bar had stunning views at night of the city’s ancient ruins. In every city I like to take the hop on hop off tour bus, this allows me to get my bearings as it travels around the city at all the popular attractions. One of the best things about the hop on hop off tour bus is the commentary on the city and its attractions, I always like listening to the interesting stories. The tour bus in Athens cost €20 for one full day’s tour which you can use for both the day and night tours. Athens is the birth place of the Olympics and you can visit the Panathenaic Stadium which is stunning, made entirely out of marble it’s amazing. The highlight for me was the Acropolis and Parthenon. It cost €20 per person to enter the grounds and there are also tour guides available if you would like a guided tour. We spent a lovely afternoon here, taking our time strolling through the grounds and climbing to the top. The Parthenon is so impressive, and this is a must do when in Athens. I enjoyed visiting all the ancient ruins throughout the city and two nights was the perfect length of time to view the highlights of Athens. There are direct flights to Athens, the flight is 4 hours long and I would recommend combining it with an onward Greek Island like Santorini or Mykonos. If you would like to talk to me about your own trip to Ancient Athens I would love to hear from you, get in touch anytime.
15 January 2018
Never have I ever been somewhere as picture perfect as Santorini. It had been a destination that was top on my bucket list for a long time and I decided to celebrate my 30th birthday in style. We enjoyed a quick stay in Athens before flying to Santorini, it was a 35-minute flight time from Athens. I stayed in the Petite Palace Suites Hotel and “oh my God” the views of the bay from this hotel are stunning. We were a short 5-minute drive from Santorini’s main town of Fira. Lively with tourists, locals and cruise visitors all day and has a nice vibe at night time with the small bars and restaurants. The black sand beach of Perissa is full of restaurants and bars during the summer time and a 10-minute taxi journey from Fira, it is well worth a visit. There are day trips and tours of the whole Island if you are visiting on a cruise and you can also hire a car for the day and view the whole island at your own leisure. The show stopper is Oia, famous for the 3 blue domes but most of all the sunset view. A 20-minute taxi journey from Fira will cost you €20 and it is a must do for every visitor. Crowds of people flock to Oia every evening to catch the sunset. Oia is picture perfect pretty with white washed steps and streets of designer boutiques it is simply stunning. I found the atmosphere of the whole island relaxing as if life slows down and you cannot but relax and enjoy yourself. Santorini is perfect to enjoy as a stand-alone destination or to combine with another island such as Mykonos or city break of Athens. I loved my time in Santorini it certainly lived up to its reputation, if I can help you with your own trip to Santorini I would love to hear from you please get in touch any time
16 May 2017
Marrakesh is a destination on many people’s bucket lists especially mine. In March, I was invited to experience hotels in Morocco and I was so excited that the trip included Marrakesh. The option of an overnight trip to Marrakesh from Agadir is available and can be booked with the local rep. The bus journey takes 3 hours and the scenery along the way is stunning. The drive takes you through the mountains and along the way you will see some local goat farmers. Our guide introduced us to one local farmer and we captured some great photos of the goats in the trees and even got to meet a kid goat. We arrived in Marrakesh and checking into our hotel Club Med Palmarie. It’s located 15-20 minutes from the centre of the city. We enjoyed a tour of both the Palmarie and the 5* Riad Hotel, as they are both located in the same grounds. We were treated to a traditional Moroccan meal in a local restaurant in the heart of Marrakesh. Along the way, we viewed the Kenzi Farrah Hotel a lovely city centre hotel, the location is great for a visit to Marrakesh. The next morning, we visited Opera Plaza and the Red Hotel, these are side by side hotels and were my favourite in Marrakesh. The hotels were modern with a nice pool and the location for the city was great, very central and had some nice restaurants close by. We also visited a boutique hotel which offered a very authentic Moroccan stay. It provides a very personal service with only 5 rooms, you feel like you have the whole building to yourself, and the location of the hotel is close to the Palace and the Souk. When all the hotel visits were finished, we spent a couple of hours in the Souk. This was mesmerising, I have never seen something as colourful and full of life. We were then brought to a traditional Moroccan pharmacy where we were told about how the traditional Argon Oil was made, and we also got to see how they make it first-hand. They have remedies for everything here all completely natural and you can take home the creams and Argon oil for a fraction of the price at home. The market place is amazing! Stalls full of colourful shoes, pashminas, jewellery, furniture, there are so many stalls and products to browse through. Be prepared to haggle and bargain over the price, the locals love it. Marrakesh is simply incredible to experience, it has such a contrast between the old and new, plain and luxurious, tattered and glamourous. It is such a unique city that offers you a great cultural experience. I loved it and I would highly recommend it as a city break or overnight trip with Agadir. If you would like help with your own trip to Marrakesh, please get in touch with me anytime and I will be delighted to help.
16 May 2017
I was invited by Sunway to experience their hotels in Morocco. Morocco is such a beautiful country bursting with culture. I spent a week experiencing Agadir, Taghazout and Marrakesh. While Marrakesh and Agadir are very popular and well known holiday destinations, Paradis Plage is a stand-alone spa retreat which was one of the main highlights of my entire trip. Located 30kms from Agadir, you head north along the coast where you will find a little piece of heaven called Paradis Plage. It is a luxury beachfront retreat that offers an array of wellness and spa treatments, daily yoga classes, world class surfing, fabulous food and pure relaxation. The best part about this hotel was the noise… there was simply nothing but the waves of the ocean crashing onto the beach. I spent the night at this hotel with my bedroom door open listening to the sound of the ocean, and it was simply amazing. If you need an escape from everyday life or just want to treat yourself to some spa treatments and enjoy a beautiful beach then this is a place I would highly recommend - it is the perfect stress reliever. I highly recommend this hotel for couples with busy life styles, families, honeymoons and solo travellers.
16 May 2017
Just a 4-hour flight from Dublin will land you in Agadir Airport Morocco. You pass over the most spectacular Altas Mountain range on your decent in to the airport and as you walk from the plane the beautiful tiled exterior of the airport gives you a great first impression. Our first port of call in Agadir was Club Med where I spent 3 nights. We were greeted with a celebration of music and refreshments. There is a great atmosphere in Club Med Agadir, the gardens are very beautiful and the rooms are like private chalets, the winning ingredient is its location right on the beach. Agadir Beach is one of the best beaches I have ever experienced. It is easy to see why it is considered one of the best in the world. I loved the promenade along the beach, it stretches all the way down to the Marina, from dawn to dusk people were walking or jogging along the promenade, it really is fabulous! The marina area is beautiful, it feels like a European Riviera, offering shops like Zara and lovely cafes and restaurants where you can dine al fresco and enjoy the fabulous weather. I visited hotels ranging in standards from 3*, 4* and 5* and I was really impressed. There is something for every budget and standard and as a resort Agadir has so much to offer. My favourite hotels were the Royal Atlas Hotel, Riu Tikida Beach (All Inclusive) and the Riu Palace Tikida Agadir (All Inclusive). I visited some fantastic family hotels too, the Kenzi Europa and Amadil Beach Hotel has amazing pool and water slides for kids. The only downside about Morocco as a destination, is that it is not wheelchair friendly and in some areas, a person with low mobility would find it challenging. With that said, Agadir has some fantastic hotels that cater for guests with mobility issues but it is important to choose the one best suited to the guest. Our final 2 nights were spent in the very luxurious Sofitel Thalassa Spa Hotel. This hotel was stunning I would recommend it to any lover of luxury. The standard of food, rooms, service was excellent and the location right on the beach is the cherry on top. We also visited the Sofitel located next door for dinner and their nightclub which was brilliant. Agadir has some really nice bars and nightlife, the club at the Sofitel was amazing. On our very last night we had an amazing dinner in Pure Passion restaurant, located in the gorgeous Marina. The setting was lovely, it had a nice Riviera feel and we sat outside in the heat of the evening and enjoyed the best food in Agadir. Agadir as a destination is excellent, it has the perfect climate all year round and with the same time zone it is a perfect choice for someone looking for a wonderful beach, fabulous luxurious hotels and marina, and the culture is wonderful. Throughout my stay I experienced such warmth and welcome from the local people and I think the hotels that Sunway for Irish holiday makers are perfect. I would recommend this destination for couples, honeymoons, family holidays, groups and golfers.
23 December 2016
California Dreaming part 2 Yosemite National Park was on my list of places to visit as part of my California road trip. There are so many stunning sights to see and lots of hiking trails in this park. We arrived in our hotel at 9pm after driving all day from Los Angeles! We drove along the Pacific Coast Highway to Morro Bay and headed east towards Oakhurst which is a good base for visiting Yosemite. Along our drive we experienced ocean, mountains, farmlands and vineyards that stretched for miles and miles and more mountains as we drove closer to Yosemite. We were tired after the full day of driving and we were delighted to reach our hotel, the Best Western Yosemite Gateway Inn. We visited California in November and while Los Angeles was experiencing an unusual heatwave for November, Yosemite was having its first snowfall! From November, it is advised that you check daily for park advice, road closures and weather conditions for hiking. Our plan was to spend the day driving the famous Tioga Pass but we were disappointed to hear that a landslide had forced the road to close. The other option for us was the Glacier road and that was closed due to snowfall. Our only option was to drive south to Las Vegas but this turned out great in the end, as this way we got to drive through the Mojave Desert. From Los Angeles to Las Vegas the drive will take about 5 hours and will take you through the Mojave Desert. This drive is such an experience! I was amazed by the vastness of land. There are many stops along the way for you to fill up on gas and take a rest. This drive was one of the most exciting I have ever taken you drive through the Sierra Nevada mountains and into the desert, I cannot describe the scenery and sights you will see. For a lot of the drive you are on the main highway and nothing but land as far as the eye can see all around you but amazing scenery every inch of the way for you to enjoy. I had a fantastic holiday in California and I will definitely return for another. I feel like I have seen most of California and I would recommend it to everyone. I would love to help you plan your perfect road trip feel free to get in touch with me anytime.
23 December 2016
A Day in LA Where better to spend a day than in Tinseltown. LA is such an exciting city and although it’s one of the worlds biggest, you can visit the best and most famous sights of LA in a day. Visiting LA was the first part of my Californian road trip, I stayed in Redondo Beach for 2 nights and because of a flight delay I had only a day to spare to see the best of LA and it did not disappoint! We were up early and headed straight for downtown LA which took us about 30 minutes, 6 lanes of very busy traffic but the driving was surprisingly easy to get to grips with and before we knew it the famous Hollywood sign was right in front of us. It is amazing, we see this sign in TV shows, adverts, photos and movies and yet I was so excited when I got to see it with my own eyes, you know you have arrived when the palm trees are all around and you set your eyes on those letters! Beverly Hills was our first stop where even the fresh air is glamourous in this part of town, the overall design and feel is exactly what you imagine Beverly Hills to be. We headed for Rodeo Drive where we parked the car and walked around and even visited the hotel in the Pretty Woman movie. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was our next stop and it is amazing the different is was. Beverly Hills is very glamourous and Hollywood feels retro. You could easily spend half a day walking the Walk of Fame and seeing every star along it, don’t forget to stop off at the famous Chinese Theatre while you are there. Car parking should not be a problem, street parking is available all over Los Angeles and once you keep the meter topped up you will have no problem. The highlight of my day and I think of any visit to Los Angeles is the Griffith Observatory! To get to the Griffith Observatory we drove through Griffith Park where you have acres of perfect hiking trails and stunning views of Los Angeles, and you might even spot a movie or tv show being filmed throughout. Once at the Observatory you can park the car and walk around the outside grounds for free. This place is amazing because you get both the perfect view of the Hollywood sign and the best most amazing view of Los Angeles! You simply have to include a visit to the Griffith Observatory in your visit to LA I loved it! We didn’t see any celebrities but we did get to see the best of LA in a day and if you would like any help with your own LA holiday feel free to get in touch I am happy to help
23 December 2016
This was my first trip to the Christmas Markets in Europe and so I decided Prague would be the chosen city! I travelled early December from Saturday to Monday spending 2 full days in this beautiful city. We arrived on Saturday to our beautiful hotel Boscolo, a 5* Autograph collection hotel with the most relaxing pool and spa. This hotel was fab, very elegant design and rooms were comfortable. The lobby was lovely and we enjoyed relaxing here with a coffee in the evenings. The hotel was a 10-15-minute walk from the biggest market in Old Town Square. There were many smaller markets throughout the city too; the Pavillion area, Wenceslaus square and a tiny market located just off the Old Town Square. The markets themselves are very festive with many stalls full of traditional Czech food such as sausages, ham and chestnuts roasting on an open fire and the famous Prague treat Trdnlk. Hot chocolate and hot wine are on offer to warm you up from the chilly air and lots of handmade Christmas ornaments and decorations stalls get you right into the festive spirit! The famous Clock Tower has a celebration every hour and can be found in the Old Town Square. A children's choir were singing Christmas carols for the crowd and the huge Christmas tree in the centre of the Square danced its lights in song along. It was so beautiful with the Christmas cheer all around. Prague is a wonderful city for walking, it’s very easy to manage with almost everywhere in the old town in on a flat level. With cobbled streets all around, you feel as though you've travelled back in time. With elegant buildings and small side streets full of Medieval wonder, there is a truly romantic feel in this city which is 1100 years in existence! We walked as far as the iconic Charles Bridge. I recommend visiting this bridge both day and night as it is a popular place for musicians and artists and is so romantic at night time. We spent all day Saturday and Sunday exploring the city. A mid-week trip would be ideal if you wanted to avoid large crowds. Saturdays are extremely busy throughout the city and can be very crowded especially during the Christmas market season. Be sure to make a trip up to Prague Castle for great views of the city. Food and drink are very reasonable and you can exchange currency to the Prague krona at the airport. Taxi drivers can be very dishonest in this city and are not the best form of transport. I recommend booking your transfer before you travel, our transfer driver was waiting for us at the airport and brought us directly to our hotel and the same for our return trip to the airport. I had a fabulous weekend in Prague and I would recommend this city all year round - especially for the Christmas Markets. It is an ideal city break for couples, a spa weekend, stag groups and inter-rail trips.
31 December 2016
California Dreaming is the perfect catchphrase! After visiting California, I have been dreaming about it ever since. It is hard to put into words the impact a trip to California will have on you. I have never experienced anywhere like it. Beaches, Mountains, Wineries and Desert, the landscape, the atmosphere, the easy living feeling and that cool retro vibe - there is just no place quite like it. Some of the places I visited on my road trip included LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Calabasas, Malibu, Morro Bay, Yosemite and the Mojave Desert. I dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean and walked along the most amazing beaches in Santa Monica and Malibu, enjoyed a delighted lunch and spot of shopping in Santa Barbara, ate some delicious crab cakes in Morro Bay and enjoyed some spectacular scenery along the way. I drove through mountains, wineries, along the ocean coast on highway 1 and through the desert to Las Vegas. Highway 1 in California is known as the Pacific Coast Highway. It is one of the most popular routes to take if you are embarking on a road trip and I completely understand why. I drove North on Highway 1 from Los Angeles to Morro Bay and my stops along the way were Santa Monica beach and pier, Malibu Beach and Santa Barbara. Santa Monica and Malibu are the most amazing beaches I have ever walked along; you could easily spend a day at each. No visit to California is complete without visiting the famous pier at Santa Monica beach. You can enjoy some delicious funnel cake, thrilling carnival rides and pick up unique souvenirs at its many stalls. The scenery of the Pacific Ocean and Mountains make this one of the best beaches you will ever visit. Malibu beach is just fabulous! A quiet escape from everything; you can stop and walk along the Malibu beach pier, enjoy some delicious food at the highly recommended Malibu Farm restaurant on the pier or even spend the night overlooking the beach in The Inn at Malibu Beach… you will love it! The drive from Santa Monica to Malibu and Malibu to Santa Barbara is breath-taking. The route is the most scenic road I have ever travelled on; every bend brings a new landscape. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and some shopping. Santa Barbara has such a lovely small town feel with delicious restaurants and great shopping you could get lost for hours. I recommend spending the night here to break up the long drive. We headed further north and the last coastal town on our road trip was Morro Bay; a small fishing town with a huge 500-foot volcanic rock in the bay. This part of the drive is not along the oceans edge because some of the land is owned by the United States air force. As you drive inland, you will get to see miles and miles of farm land. A 2-hour drive from Santa Barbara and lots of scenery later we arrived in Morro Bay. We had dinner at Rose’s Bar and grill which overlooks the bay and Morro Rock it was such a nice setting to end our costal drive. The next part of our road trip took us inward towards Yosemite.
18 December 2016
One of the Natural Wonders of the World, The Grand Canyon was on my to do list on my most recent trip to Las Vegas. I have been to Las Vegas twice before and I wasn’t letting a third time pass without seeing this sight for myself. Many visitors to Las Vegas choose to take a helicopter tour but my family and I decided to drive and hired a car. We headed for the West Rim Skywalk which is a 2-hour drive from the Las Vegas Strip. The Hoover Dam is a popular stop off on the way to the Skywalk which we decided we would visit along the way. The dam is located near Boulder City, a very cool and unique looking town we passed this on the way to the Grand Canyon and it has many shops offering unique antiques and Indian crafts. You can park the car for $12 and take a walk across the impressive concrete structure, you can also take a tour which will bring you inside the dam and give you the history of it. It took us 40 minutes to drive to the Hoover Dam from the Las Vegas Strip and another 2-hour drive to get to the Grand Canyon West Rim Skywalk. The drive itself is spectacular! You cross into Arizona and you feel like you’re in another world. The natural beauty of this drive is breath-taking, every turn and mile brings with a new view and amazing landscape. Once you turn off the highway and before you come to the Grand Canyon you will pass through a Joshua Tree Forest which seems to go on for miles! You will also pass through a small town which will make you feel as though you’ve entered the outback. There are not many gas stations along the way so I recommend starting out with a full tank. Unfortunately, we were not as smart and we were running low on fuel 30 miles from the Grand Canyon! Luckily, our sat nav system steered us towards the city of Mead View, a very unique town which is in the middle of nowhere. We were very glad that there was a fuel station for us to fill up and reach the Grand Canyon. I feel like we got to experience the ‘real America’ on this drive, I was amazed to see how some people were living, just 90 minutes from the glitz and glam of Las Vegas we were in a very humble part of America, it almost felt like we were part of the ‘gold rush’ driving through these unique towns. You have the chance to stop at the many picturesque sites where you can park the car and take in the view, not only is the Canyon itself impressive but the outside mountains and the drive leading up to is has some amazing sights. The West Rim Grand Canyon is owned by the Native American Hualapai Tribe and their culture is on display all around, they have a shop where you can purchase Indian Tribe artefacts like bow and arrows, wind chimes, and much more. You can also view some of their culture traditions and historic living arrangements. We reached the entrance to the Grand Canyon Park where we had to park our car and purchase entrance tickets to get to Eagle Point. It will cost $50 for an entrance ticket and an extra $20 to do the Skywalk. Along with entrance and Skywalk tickets you can avail of horse riding through the Canyon, take a helicopter tour and you can even go White Water Rafting through the Colorado River from here if you want. Shuttle buses are provided to take you to ‘Eagle Point’ where you can see the most breath-taking views of the Grand Canyon. Eagle Point is at the entrance to the Skywalk, is it named after the rock formation in the shape of an eagles wings, from here you are free to take pictures and stay for as long as you like. There is no barrier to the edge so you can get as close to the cliff edge as your courage takes you but be careful and watch your step. Dean and I braved the Skywalk, you can look down into the mile-deep canyon, and my heart was pounding as I walked onto the glass floor. I would highly recommend adding this onto your entrance ticket. I was amazed by the views of the Grand Canyon at the West Rim. It is literally as far as the eye can see and you simply have to see if for yourself. A popular time of day to visit the West Rim is in the evening. This can be spectacular - if you time your trip right, you can stand at Eagle Point to watch the sun go down. The Grand Canyon was an unforgettable experience; one I highly recommend. If you would like to talk to me about taking your own trip please get in touch and I will be happy to help.
27 April 2016
All my preconceived notions of cruising were proved wrong when I experienced my debut cruise with Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas. The words Wow and amazing we used quite a lot throughout my time on board, the ship is simply stunning. Many people have the idea that a cruise is only for older people, it feels too confined and uncomfortable and there is too much moving from place to place and it would not be relaxing. If you have never cruised before then clear any thought you have out of your mind because you will be amazed at what a cruise holiday has to offer you. Ovation of the Seas is part of the Quantum class fleet from Royal Caribbean and this makes it one of the largest cruise ships. I was amazed at how spacious the whole ship felt; at capacity she can hold 4000 passengers but her sheer size allows you the freedom to feel like it is not too crowded. On more than one occasion I had to remind myself that this was a ship, everywhere was so spacious and modern it has the feel of a 5* hotel. The Royal Promenade is at the heart of the ship and a lovely place to stroll during the day and browse some of the shops including designers such as Michael Kors perfect for treating yourself to a lovely handbag. It is also a lovely meeting point before you enjoy a lovely meal in one of the many restaurants. The ship boasts amazing features like the Bionic Bar, Flowrider surf experience, RipChord indoor sky diving, Rock climbing wall, a casino, nightclub, many bars and restaurants, lovely pools both indoor and outdoor and an amazing spa for the adults and Adventure Club and Seaplex for the little ones and teens. It is rumoured that on average a person gains about a stone in weight on a week’s cruise and having experienced it myself I now understand how this can happen. Windjammers café is a large buffet area open 22 hours every day and here you can taste food from all over the world, with loads of options to choose from it is the perfect casual dining for all meals. The main restaurants are a la carte dining experiences we enjoyed a lovely meal in Silk where I tried Crab cakes for the first time and they were delicious! Speciality restaurants are available for an extra treat; Wonderland is a magical themed restaurant, The Jamie Oliver Restaurant and there is also Lzumi which is a lovely sushi restaurant. I visited every type of cabin available on the ship and each one is modern and spacious including their inside cabins having a virtual balcony, they have a live camera feed of the outside scenes of the ship so you will not miss out on lovely views. From an inside virtual cabin to a two story Royal loft suite there is a cabin for every budget and preference. Entertainment is a key word when you think of cruise, and there is entertainment to keep everyone in good spirits. Throughout the cruise there are some of the best of musicians you will hear taking turns in entertaining you. Whether it’s the 80’s band in the nightclub, the one man band in Michaels Bar, the 4 piece reggae style band in the Royal Promenade or the piano player in Schooners Bar, there is something for everyone. Along with music you have lots of fun activities such as the bumper cars in Seaplex, surfing on the Flowrider and the rip cord; a unique indoor sky diving experience that you will love. At night time they also show movies on a large screen outdoors, imagine watching a movie under the stars in the warm Caribbean air, doesn’t it sound so appealing? If you are thinking about a cruise for your next holiday I would love to hear from you.
27 April 2016
In March 2016 I enjoyed a wonderful short break in the charming city of Krakow with my Mam, Dad and sister. Our hotel was the Radisson Blu. We checked in and were so pleased with our rooms; nice, spacious, modern rooms with very comfortable beds and a lovely view overlooking the park across from the hotel. We had a lovely meal in the hotel restaurant and throughout our stay we enjoyed the hotel bar for relaxing drinks after our days sightseeing. In terms of location the hotel could not have been better, we were located between Wawel Castle and Market Square with no more than a two minute walk from each. I recommend that when you check in, to get a map of the tourist attractions from the reception or concierge. All the attraction descriptions are in Russian or polish and the tourist map our hotel provided us with had translated information on each attraction. We had our tours booked before we arrived and I recommend doing this and getting the hotel concierge call the day before your tour to confirm your pick up time. Market Square is located in the centre of Krakow; the biggest market square in Europe. Krakow has a medieval feel throughout and the Cloth Hall in the centre of Market Square has been there since the Renaissance and is one of the city's most recognisable icons. It is the central feature of the main market square in the Krakow Old Town and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. The Cloth Hall has stalls inside for vendors to sell handmade items such as chess sets and wooden lock boxes, this adds to the charm of Krakow. All around Market Square there are excellent restaurants with some offering outside seating for you to enjoy all that is going on around the Square. There are many horse carriages ready to take you on a tour of Krakow should you wish too. We enjoyed some lovely meals in Market Square restaurants including a nice lunch at the Hard Rock Café located next to St Mary’s Basilica. Later that evening, we entered the church just as mass was about to start, they hold mass every day and the timing was perfect because the choir were singing and it was old style haunting music that I haven’t heard anywhere, I was delighted to sit and listen to it. I enjoyed taking the private tours from one of the many eco-friendly golf buggy tours available and I would highly recommend these. You can choose which areas of the city you would like to see and they have commentary on the attractions for you to enjoy. I really enjoyed the Schindlers Factory. We took our time here and spent 2 hours in the museum, some of which still has original features for when Schindler used the building as his factory. The museum has so many artefacts to see and tells you the history of how the Nazi’s came to overpower the city of Krakow and treated the Jewish people in Krakow. We arrived at Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration Camp just as it was opening and met with our tour guide and each of us were given our own headset which our guide had a microphone to talk to us through. I highly recommend booking your tour before you leave. Our guide was fantastic, we were given so much information that we would not have gotten if we did the tour by ourselves. As a history lover, this tour was an incredible experience and I think a trip that everyone should make. We also visited the Salt Mines in a tour group of 30 people and again, we had a great tour guide. This was the highlight for me; I was amazed by the Salt Mines. We travelled down to 400 feet which brought us down to level 3 of a total of 9, it is just amazing to see in person. The temperature was comfortable and the air is very healthy to breadth in fact they have a resort spa in the salt mines which many visitors attend to help with any respiratory problems as the air is full of natural minerals. It was such an authentic experience on our trip to Krakow, you are amazed by the beautiful sculptures including an amazing cathedral 300 feet down! The sheer depth of some chambers is just so impressive. I had a wonderful time in this charming city. Everyone was very welcoming and the more I saw of Krakow the more I liked it. Krakow is the perfect city for a short getaway and I would highly recommend visiting all year round and in particular for the Christmas Markets in December and early January.
27 April 2016
Disney World Orlando is where every child’s dreams come true and every grown up lets their inner child free. With four fabulous theme parks and two fantastic water parks, the happiest place on earth is the ultimate family holiday! Magic Kingdom is Disney’s first theme park, here you will find thrill rides such as Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain, the newly added princess land with the popular Seven Dwarfs attraction and the classics like “it’s a small world water boat ride”. Cinderella’s castle is the main landmark in Magic Kingdom and takes centre stage for the most amazing fireworks show nightly. Everybody is treated to celebration Parades throughout the day with all our favourite characters it is so easy to get lost in the magic of Disney in this park. Lights, Camera and all the Action can be found in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With stunt shows such as Indiana Jones and motor cars and thrilling elevator rides in Tower of Terror, from morning to night this park will keep everyone entertained. Hollywood Studios host the very unique night time show called “Fantasmic”. Based on the movie Fantasia, they have created a truly spectacular show involving water, animation and fireworks where all your favourite heroes and villains make an appearance, this is my ultimate favourite thing to see in Disney. Disney’s Animal Kingdom transport its visitors to the Serengeti plains of Africa to see the beautiful elephants and lions amongst other favourite safari animals. A trip to Animal Kingdom is not complete without taking a trip on of the best attraction rides known as “Everest”. If you are visiting Animal Kingdom I recommend making advance reservations for dinner in Rainforest Café. In Epcot you get to fly like a bird over California in ‘Soarin’, test drive a race car at 200mph in ‘Fast track’, visit space as an astronaut and go on a culinary journey all around the world without leaving Disneyworld! Disney has two water parks known as ‘Typhoon Lagoon’ which has the best most awesome wave pool ever, and ‘Blizzard Beach’. Both water parks are a great way to spend the day chilling and soaking up some of the lovely Florida sunshine. If you are looking for somewhere with nightlife full of bars and world class restaurants Downtown Disney is your place. Home to Cirque du Soleil for an extra bit of entertainment, there is a lovely night time atmosphere in Downtown Disney with some of the best street music around and nightly deejay dance offs for the kids you will really enjoy your time here. For an extra special experience book your little girl into ‘bibbiti bobbiti boutique’ to get a full princess transformation, it’s a real treat.
27 April 2016
I travel to Orlando every year with my family and we all love the Universal Resort Theme Parks. On our last visit, it was our first time to experience the newest addition to the Harry Potter Attraction: Diagon Alley. It is always best to get to the parks just as they open to avoid long queues and from the minute you enter Universal, ‘fun’ is the feeling of the day every day. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is broken up into the two theme parks. Universal Studios has Diagon Alley and Kings Crossing Station which you can take to visit Hogwarts and Hogsmeade Village in Islands of Adventure theme park. On my 2010 holiday to Orlando, I had the joy of experiencing Universal’s first part of the Harry Potter world. Islands of Adventure introduced Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction in Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft along with a recreation of Hogsmeade. It was every Harry Potter fan’s dream come true to visit and experience the magical world. In September 2015 I was blown away by Universal’s second part of its Harry Potter land. Hidden behind a London themed street in Universal Studios, you will be amazed by what they have created; Diagon Alley in all its glory is alive and very much real and “muggles” like us can experience the wizarding world for ourselves. Ollivander’s Wand Shop - where the wand chooses its owner by setting off a thunderstorm inside the shop, Gringotts bank with its fire spitting dragon upon its roof guarding all valuables, wizards and witches in full robes casting spells making it rain with their wands and casting all sorts of magical spells, Harry Potter fans of all ages were having a blast. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is the new 3D rollercoaster and one of the top attractions in the whole park. The Leaky Cauldron served up a delicious lunch and later we got to try the famous “Butter Beers” which we loved. We made our way to Kings Cross station to the famous 9 ¾ platform where we vanished through the wall to board our train to Hogwarts. We felt safe along our journey from the spine chilling dementors kiss thanks to Ron and Herminie and soon we were in Hogsmeade. Hogsmeade has the Three Broomsticks for nice food and Honeydukes sweet shop is a must, the ‘fizzing whizzbees’ are definitely worth a try. The Duelling Dragons in Hogsmeade is a rollercoaster that throws you straight into a Triwizard Tournament. It is certainly not for the faint hearted. You truly feel every bit of Harry’s plight on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride in Hogwarts Castle. For those of us who like the less terrifying thrill rides, the Flight of the Hippogriff is ideal as Hagrid teaches young children to fly on a Hippogriff and this suits all the family. For any self-proclaimed Harry Potter fan, this visit is a must and what Universal theme parks have brought to life is amazing and will very much live up to all your expectations. Muggles everywhere will love their Harry Potter adventure.
27 April 2016
I spent my honeymoon in the most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed in, Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun. I cannot recommend a visit to this Secrets Resort enough. The hospitality is the best I have ever experienced and these resorts are the perfect choice for a special occasion or a relaxing romantic getaway. We flew via London to Cancun which was a 9 hour flight. When we landed in Cancun airport, we were greeted by our driver for our private transfer to take us straight to our hotel which took about 30 minutes. This hotel is absolutely stunning, from the moment we arrived we were treated so well by all the staff. The smell of fresh lilies throughout this hotel is lovely and it hits you as you walk through the doors into the foyer reception which has a beautiful water feature and with each further step you take, relaxation and tranquillity set in. As we checked in, we sipped on champagne and delighted to be treated to an upgraded room closer to the beach. Our concierge was so welcoming and friendly and suggested that we relax and order room service for our first night which is what most people decide to do and we took his advice and enjoyed a lovely, relaxing first night in Cancun. Every room in this hotel is a 5* suite and the hotel itself is adults only. The suites are so spacious with a private balcony, Jacuzzi bath-tub, walk in shower, flat screen TV, sofa and coffee making facilities along with a fully stocked mini bar. Secrets hotels are known for good quality all-inclusive food and drink on offer and each day our mini bar was restocked. We enjoyed unlimited drinks, food and 24hr room service throughout our stay and nothing was too much trouble for the staff. For an extra special touch, a swim out room can be booked on the ground floor with your own pool right off your bedroom but I loved the view of the ocean every day from our top floor suite. It was my first time to experience all-inclusive and I highly recommend this option. We had 7 choices of restaurants, 3 cafes and several bars on site to enjoy. It was nice to get dressed up each night and enjoy a romantic meal in one of the lovely restaurants; the Italian was my favourite. Entertainment was served up each day with activities such as crazy golf or wine tasting along with other options and nightly shows with fire breathers and dancers. Secrets go that extra mile to make your stay the best you’ve ever had. I was truly amazed at the white sandy beach, I loved walking up and down it every day, staring into the most turquoise coloured ocean I have ever seen. We spent 4 lovely days here in pure bliss with beautiful weather, great food and service at Secrets, which in my opinion; is one of the best resorts in the world. Overall, it was simply perfect from start to finish.
27 April 2016
January 2015 brought me to Las Vegas. I had visited Las Vegas on my honeymoon and we were itching to get back. Las Vegas really does live up to every bit of hype but no words can describe how fun and brilliant this town really is. You just have to see it for yourself. Vegas has absolutely everything! Along with the most popular and obvious choice of gambling, you have so much more to enjoy on your visit. World class spa's, restaurants, nightlife and concerts, you will never have a dull moment in this town. On our honeymoon we stayed in Encore, we loved it and decided to return for another stay. When you walk through the huge front doors and into the spacious foyer, you are met with the most vibrant red carpet and Feng Shui influenced design. The rooms are stunning; suites with floor to ceiling windows that boast a view of the famous Las Vegas Strip. I love the spacious rooms and bathrooms that Encore have and the bed sheets are good enough for royalty; high thread Egyptian cotton and you can buy them in the hotel shop to bring home with you. Everything about this hotel is 5 star quality. After a 10 hour flight we freshened up and visited 'Society', a lovely restaurant in the Encore Casino. Here, we enjoyed a delicious meal and visited this restaurant a couple of more times throughout our stay. Every restaurant in the hotel has something different to offer and you will not be disappointed with the level of service or the quality of food. The lobby bar is perfect for a relaxing drink and not too far away you’ll find the Eastside Lounge, where singer Michael Montagne performs a live gig almost every night which is easy listening entertainment at its finest. Jet lag and waking up at 4am is no problem in Las Vegas and it is the perfect time to hit the slots which is what we did the next morning. The Buffet at the Wynn Hotel is famous for its size and choice of food and when you visit you will see exactly why. Whether you are in the mood for fluffy pancakes at 8am or seafood at 2am you will find some delicious food at the Buffet. If you like fashion and shopping you will love what is on offer in Las Vegas; High class fashion and affordable brands are side by side in this town with most hotels offering the best of window shopping. There is also the Fashion Mall at the north end of the strip which has everything from Macy’s to Apple. If like me, you love to indulge in a spa day while on holidays, many of the hotels on the strip have world class spas and you do not have to be a hotel guest to visit them. When you are all shopped out and taking a break from your lucky streak on the blackjack tables, you can enjoy some of the attractions along the strip. Each hotel has an attraction to offer and I particularly like the White Tiger and Dolphin Sanctuary in The Mirage. You could travel the world without leaving the strip, climb the Eiffel Tour or visit the Luxor hotel and be transported to Egypt. The world’s best entertainment shows can be found in Las Vegas. You have such a wide choice including; Celine Dion or Elton John in Ceasers Palace and Britney in Planet Hollywood. You are never too far from Cirque de Soleil with most hotels offering a show from this famous brand. Some of the world’s best known DJs have regular resident gigs in many of the hotels along the strip. If you do not fancy clubbing, then one of the most fun and free things to do is people watch, you really could see anything in this town. A perfect way to end each night and in particular your last night, is to enjoy the beautiful Bellagio fountain show and plan your return trip to this amazing one of a kind town.
27 April 2016
It was my sisters 21st birthday and I had planned a surprise trip to the Big Apple for her and my family. 3 days in New York City and 2 days in The Hamptons before heading to Orlando for a week, was a really good 21st Birthday trip! We arrived into JFK Airport where we were met by our driver for our private transfer to the Distrikt Hotel in Manhattan. One hour later, we checked into our lovely hotel, dropped the bags to the room and off out the door to explore the big city. After a short 5 minute walk, we joined the Hop-On Hop-Off tour bus and took the full tour around the city. These tours are a great way of getting to see a bit of everything and then knowing where you want to further explore. Ending the tour in Times Square was such a thrill, to be standing in the middle of this buzzing city with all the lights and crowds of people; I was so happy we decided to do this trip. We had dinner in the Olive Garden in Times Square at one of the window tables overlooking the Hersey and M&M store, we loved it. We spent 3 days in NYC seeing and doing as much as we possibly could. The main highlight of all the attractions was Ellis Island. We all agreed that the view from Top of the Rock was a wow moment; if you visit top of the rock at the right time in the evening you can catch a day and night view of the city, this varies throughout the year depending on the sunset times, but it really is worth the visit. The best thing we did over the 3 days was head down to The Boat House in Central Park. They have row boats for hire and you can spend an hour on the lake in Central Park in the boats for $15. It was such a nice and relaxing experience which we all loved and was truly one of the highlights of the holiday. For the most part, we used the subway to get around. It is the fastest and cheapest way to commute and multiday passes can be purchased saving you time as well as dollars. There is so much to see and do in NYC for all ages but it is hard to fit everything in. We tried to make the most of our time in NYC and that meant long days, so comfortable shoes and clothing is recommended if you are spending the day sightseeing. The Distrikt hotel was in a great location, only a 5-10 minute walk from Times Square. We hired a car in the city for The Hamptons and although my Dad was a bit nervous at first, he found it very easy to drive and get around. It took us almost 2 hours to get from the City to the Hamptons. We booked into the Hampton Inn in Brookhaven, it was clean and comfortable and a good location for us. We spent two days exploring Southampton, Sag Harbour and Montauk Lighthouse. We drove around Bridgehampton and met friends and relatives each night for dinner in Hampton Bays, it was a great way to end the New York leg of our holiday. This was my third visit to New York City and I would highly recommend a trip to the Big Apple!
27 April 2016
Paris is my favourite City! Only a 2 hour plane journey away, we don’t take advantage and visit it enough. I decided last year to take an impromptu trip to the City of Lights and I spent the weekend with my husband, my mother and sister. We stayed at Mercure Hotel at the Gare de Lyon, one of the main train and metro stations in Paris, a hub for transport that will take you anywhere in the city. All weekend we used the metro to get around, it is the fastest and cheapest way with multiday passes that can be purchased at the station or a city pass can be purchased before you travel. Paris hotel rooms are known to be small but the rooms in the Mercure Hotel were clean, modern and comfortable and the location was great. We headed into the City Centre to the Champs-Élysées where we started our Hop-On Hop-Off tour. The bus tour is always the first thing to do, it gives you a full tour of the city and the top attractions. You can take the full tour and then decide which attraction you want to visit after or like the name suggests - hop off at each attraction and hop back on the bus which will take you to the next stop. Paris is such a beautiful city with magnificent buildings and architecture; it is hard not to fall in love with Paris. We spent the whole weekend taking in all the sites. Place de la Concorde is lovely to visit at night because you get to enjoy the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower as it sparkles, very romantic. The tour of Notre Dame was a nice treat, I had never been inside Notre Dame before. You can hire an mp3 tour guide that allows you to enjoy the Cathedral at your own leisure. With the commentary of the mp3 player, I had a very enjoyable walk through the beautiful Cathedral learning about its fascinating history. Paris is famous for its Bistros, and you cannot visit this city without enjoying a café au lait while sitting outside on a busy Parisian avenue. A visit to one of the many bakeries to try some famous fresh pastries is another must. My absolute favourite was the River Cruise down the Seine and once again you are blown away by how beautiful this city is; the history, the art, it really is something to experience. We did our river cruise in the afternoon and when I return on my next trip I plan to do a dinner cruise along the Seine, something I’m looking forward to already! Our hotel recommended a private transfer back to the airport, comfort is very important when you’re travelling and this certainly did the trick for us. We were back home in Dublin Sunday night, such a treat and a great way to spend a weekend.
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