Sent by Sara Rogers
Co Meath 25/08/2023
Based in Co. Meath
WOW 30 years in the travel trade, I still pinch myself that I get to do what I love every day. Travel is a passion in itself and it truly is my absolute passion. Tailor-making special holidays, honeymoons and multi city adventures for couples, singles, families and groups are amongst my all time favorites. Making each & every trip personal to each client is of utmost importance to me.
I have travelled to amazing destinations throughout Europe, and even ticked off the bucket list adventures that is Iceland. It was pretty special and I would highly recommend it. I would return in a heart beat. I also have also been to South Africa, India, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, the USA and the Caribbean including Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Barbados and Jamaica, St Lucia, Antigua to name but a few. I have also been to The Maldives - and more than once, Mauritius and the Seychelles. It's hard to pick a favourite, the Seychelles really blew me away as we did some island hopping there but I have a deep LOVE for the Maldives. These 3 destinations were on my 'Bucket List' for a very very long time and in no way did any of them disappoint. Another true highlight of all my many travels was when I visited Tanzania, we went deep into the Serengeti on safari - this was truly an adventure like no other, the holy grail of safaris and created memories that will last a lifetime. I have cruised on numerous occasions in both the Med & the Caribbean and again can highly recommend cruising for all ages.
I love to tailor make holidays and it's rare that any two bookings are the same. I love working on Australia and New Zealand dream holidays. I also re-visited Australia as a family so have experienced the anxiety and stress of going abroad with a little one and can help parents feel at ease when travelling. I have many families that contact me for help and advice when travelling as I have been travelling with my daughter since she was 6 months and she is now 16. It’s far less daunting than you think. She now loves to travel as much as me.
Your honeymoon, especially, should be one of the most memorable and magical trips you take. Just like your wedding day, it reflects your personality and I believe that your honeymoon should too. In 2015, 2016 and 2017 I was thrilled to receive the 'Mrs2Be Brides Choice Award' for the Best Honeymoon Supplier. I am the only honeymoon supplier that has won this award consecutively for 3 years. This is an award for exceptional quality of service and customer satisfaction, recognising excellence in the Wedding Industry. I have also won the Wedding Journal Readers Award 2018 for Best Honeymoon & Wedding Destination Supplier, I was the Best Honeymoon Planner 2019 at the Irish Wedding Awards & was nominated again in 2020 and 2023. The awards are back with a bang and I won Best Honeymoon Supplier 2023 at the Wedding Suppliers Awards this year
I pride myself in offering a level of commitment and expertise that is unrivalled. I was voted by my colleagues as the Most Helpful TC, TC Hero and TC Inspire Champion - these particular awards fill me with so much pride as all are voted for by my peers, alongside the Shining Star of Travel Counsellors 2023. I have also won the Solo Business Woman 2021 & Established Business Woman 2023 - Meath as part of the Network Ireland Businesswoman Awards.
My regular clients’ book with me whenever they travel and always recommend me to their family, friends and colleagues. They will tell you that I am enthusiastic and very passionate getting their trip just right. I offer a professional personalised service for all types of travel and aim to always exceed your expectations. I'm delighted to be celebrating my 16th Anniversary this year as an award-winning Gold Travel Counsellor. Here is to many more years doing what I love so much. Your adventure really does start here - So where to now?
I really look forward to hearing from you.
The islands of the world are opened up to remind us of what we missed.....
I know for me it's TRAVEL whether its dreaming of where I am going to next or helping you deciding where to go next....
Top tips to think about at the early stages of your planning - and just like your Wedding Day reflects both your personalities so too should your honeymoon!
Check out Dan & Kadi's fabulous adventure in Thailand. If this is the type of travel that makes you think WOW then please do not hesitate to get in touch!
By no means does my video from the Seychelles do this amazing destination justice. It was WOW. I might have to blame my shaky camera skills on sheer excitement.
An adventure like no other when I went deep into the Serengeti - the Holy Grail of safaris and slept under the stars. Check out some new friends we made!
My latest adventure was Iceland - blog post ready very soon !!
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.
05 August 2023
We do love an auld musical or two at our house so when I suggested to Ella, we should go to Greece this summer she asked could we do the islands where they made Mamma Mia - okay so let's do this. As there are no direct flights to Skiathos from Ireland we flew to Gatwick and onwards to Skiathos - other options include via Manchester or even via Athens and then get the ferry over. Even the arrival into Skiathos Airport is breathtaking as you come in over the stunning Aegean Sea you will be blown away. Skiathos Town is actually only 2kms from the airport so a super-fast transfer to our hotel. It was everything I wished our Greek escape would be and more, known for its beautiful beaches backed by beautiful pine forests. We stayed just outside Skiathos Town which we could easily reach within a 10-to-15-minute walk. The beautiful whitewashed Skiathos Town is on the south-east coast of the island. It’s a see-and-be-seen kind of place. Everyone from Kate Moss to Goldie Hawn have visited over the years but in no means is it pretentious. Two huge yacht harbours front the town where you can enjoy a fabulous cocktail whilst the sunsets. It was so relaxing here and I would highly recommend to both couples and families looking for that real Greek experience. And then of course the reason we went there - a couple of scenes from Mamma Mia were filmed here, with the best known location being the Old Port of Skiathos, where the three fathers gather to wait for the ferry to the island of Kalokairi (which is a fictitious island name by the way). Our long awaited day trip to nearby Skopelos where they filmed more of the movie was amazing. We actually booked a very 'cheesy' Mamma Mia boat trip and it was just FABULOUS. We sang our way through all the songs throughout the day, stopping off at stunning beaches, diving into the clearest waters I have ever seen and then of course visiting the lovely church which stands on top of a rock and provides amazing views to the coasts of Skopelos and to Alonissos. It was the BEST day - one we will remember forever. Skiathos and Skopelos has truly inspired me to see more of Greece (and I hope my photos will inspire you also - although they don't do it justice). We have already begun to plan next year’s trip - and we are hoping to take in Paros, Naxos and Santorini!
25 February 2023
It’s been a while but with HOLIDAY & HONEYMOON enquiries and bookings at an all-time high I said I would take some time to wrote up a little update that might help those starting out on their Holiday and especially their Honeymoon planning journey. Firstly, a little about me, with almost 30 years of experience in the Irish Travel Trade and over 20 specialising in honeymoons there is possibly no destination or combination of destinations I haven’t been asked for. Every day though for me is extremely different and YES there are most certainly TRENDS – mostly I find over the last few years these derive from what’s on social media and that’s not always a BAD thing. But just because everyone seems to be going to the Maldives that doesn’t mean you have too. Dare to be different is what I say. Although feel free to drop me to the Maldives for a month – simply paradise on earth! Many of you here are booking with me for over 10/15/20 years and there are also soooo many fabulous new followers each and everyday and one thing I always say is just as your venue for your wedding day reflects your own personalities so should your honeymoon or that next big adventure you have planned. There is no obligation to lie on a beach for two weeks. As your very own Travel Counsellor I will take the time to plan and organize exactly what you want for your honeymoon or holiday. Planning ahead allows adequate time to budget accordingly and even organize visas and new passports if necessary. Even with a limited time line I will find that perfect holiday that is unique to you both. It’s amazing what I can learn by a quick call or a zoom at the early planning stages. There are so many beautiful destinations available – more than there ever was back in the day when I started working in travel (I feel so old). And YES long haul is amazing if you have enough travel time but never forget those closer to home locations – Greece/Italy/Croatia/the Algarve have NEVER been as popular. And for those that love something different and adventure a Hot Air Balloon Ride over Kenya, a Bush Rover Suites experience deep in the Serengeti to white water rafting or trekking in the Paddy Fields in Bali I can arrange all that and more. I get as excited as you do knowing I have arranged your perfect adventure. Over the last couple of years I have grown my team - AKA TEAM MANDY but I will always be at the other end of the phone if you need me (unless I am lying on a beach somewhere and if so there will always be one of my team or someone from our fabulous 24/7 Duty Office there for you). Get in touch and lets start planning – we are fully licensed and bonded and more than anyone else we care !!
13 October 2022
So, if you are a new or even an old follower of mine you will know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the beach and especially the Maldives - I am possibly a little obsessed but the beach is my thing. After a very quick familiarisation trip to the Maldives in 2017 I have always wanted to return so when the opportunity arose in 2022, I couldn't resist. I travelled with my sister on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and onwards by seaplane to the island of Kuramathi. Some islands are accessed by speedboats and others by seaplane and the great thing about Kuramathi is you can choose between the two. There is a great choice too of airlines that access the Maldives. Kuramathi is renowned for its choice - from the choice of room types but even more the choice of dining options. From Deluxe and Superior Beach Villas to Over Water Villas with and without pools. They even have 2 Bedroom Beach Houses which are ideal for a few friends or a family. There are 9 Restaurants and 7 Bars on the island and each one more unique than the last. A real foodie experience in each one making everything so special and memorable. Think blue skies, turquoise waters, the whitest and softest sand in the world making the Maldives a pure tropical island paradise. From sunset to sunrise, you will be in awe of the beauty that surrounds you. Unlike most destinations the Maldives works off the concept of one island one hotel so picking that perfect island is where I come in. I have been selling the Maldives now for over 20 years and can help you decide on which island will work best for you - taking standard/facilities/restaurants/entertainment/activities/budget/time of year and so much more ALL into consideration. Yes, for many it is a ONCE IN A LIFETIME experience, but you can be surprised at the savings that can be made during 'off-peak' dates again the details of which I have at my fingertips. So, the question is not IF but WHEN are you going to the Maldives? Feel free to get in touch and let’s make it happen! I will let my unfiltered photos speak for themselves!
14 September 2022
It is not very often I return to a destination twice – with such an amazing world out there and a bucket list as long as my arm but I was very excited to be invited back to Dubai for our Travel Counsellors Gold Conference 2022. My last trip to Dubai was 2011 so I was looking forward to witness some of the ever-evolving changes that have occurred. We stayed at the new Caesars Palace Dubai, not as well known YET as its sister property Caesars Palace Las Vegas but still full of that WOW factor synonymous with the brand…. At Caesars Palace Dubai you truly leave the ordinary behind. Situated on the new man-made Blue Waters Island with the iconic Ain Dubai as its backdrop – the world’s largest observation wheel. A luxury beach front resort with 1.7kms of pristine sandy shoreline, a 500m private beach with spectacular unobstructed views of the Arabian Gulf. Caesars Palace Dubai is where luxurious stays, world class dining, indulgent amenities and exemplary hospitality awaits. With 5 outdoor chilled pools, 12 restaurants and bars, 2 beach clubs, an award-winning spa and kid's’ facilities, Caesars Palace is a true haven for all ages. Our dining highlights included the Demon Duck by Alvin Leung, Hell’s Kitchen by Gordon Ramsey followed by an evening of Latino tunes and Mojitos at the Havana Social Club. Dubai is fast becoming a haven for those looking for that ‘foodie’ experience with so many celebrity chef experiences to choose from. Dubai really is a destination where one can experience it on so many different levels. Also well known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture, and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline and at its foot lies the Dubai Fountains, with jets and lights choreographed to music which was a FANTASTIC way to spend a few hours before hitting the Dubai Mall – even just to window shop at Chanel/Balenciaga/Fendi/Valentino to name a few. They say you either LOVE it or HATE it – the same is said by many for New York. Personally, I LOVE New York and Dubai too has so much to offer. As a stand-alone adventure or as a stopover for 2 or 3 Nights on your way out to or on your return from so many other fantastic destinations including the Maldives, the Seychelles, Mauritius, South Africa, Bali, Thailand, Sri Lanka and more. If a luxurious stay in exciting Dubai is on your wish list, do feel free to reach out and let us make that luxurious stay in Dubai a reality!
25 April 2022
WOW what an amazing Bucket List adventure - Barbados, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, St Vincents & the Grenadines, Dominica, St Lucia and back to Barbados all ticked off whilst cruising the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas for 7 glorious nights. Without going into every detail I do think my photos alone sums it up, especially, when you send home photos and your Mam says "WOW I always thought those photos you see online were photoshopped". Well mine certainly are not - think unadulterated blue skies, turquoise seas and the whitest softest sand you will ever have the pleasure of sinking your toes into. When we were not lazing on the beaches by day, sailing around the islands via catamaran and even river tubing in the rainforests - we were exploring the Grandeur of the Seas, it is one of the smaller older ships but none the less it still offers so much that Royal Caribbean is well known for, fantastic and varied entertainment options, amazing foods and let's not forget the cocktails. Service onboard and attention to detail was as always second to none. We honestly had so much fun every day both on and off the ship! If you think this is the type of holiday you would love to experience, whether it's as a couple, a family or with a group of friends, cruising really is a fabulous choice. Just imagine waking up in a different destination every morning without even having to unpack!
26 March 2020
When I originally wrote this in April 2020 never in my wildest dreams did I think in Dec 2021 would this 'pandemic' still be a part of our lives so I am again sending out a message of support again to all Brides & Grooms who have had to postpone their Wedding Day's due to social distancing and thus meaning their honeymoon was more than likely postponed too, but to everyone with a LOVE for travel and adventure. And sure look a 'later' moon is now all the rage and on a far more positive note the amount of honeymoons & holidays that actually departed in the latter half of 2021 is surreal. I said it back then our world would start to spin again and it sure did, albeit with new precautions in place but nothing is impossible. Since July 2021, I have had clients travel near and far and this Christmas alone I have had fabulous bookings to Costa Rica, Orlando, New York, Lanzarote, the Maldives, Dubai, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Not to mention those planned for January to Thailand, Miami, Caribbean Cruises, Costa Rica, New York, Lanzarote and Iceland. * Many countries still have restrictions in place and as each day passes, we learn more about what is happening in the world. The main thing is not to ever panic, your Travel Counsellor is keeping up to date with the latest developments and restrictions in place. We are closely monitoring changes within the travel industry, including which countries are easing restrictions. Particularly focusing on destinations that our clients are already booked to visit later on. * The key in these unprecedented times is patience and I understand that can be hard too. The travel providers such as airlines, cruise lines, hotels and suppliers have worked around the clock to come up with the best solutions for everyone. Your booking is in safe hands and we will do everything in our power to work with you and our suppliers as we still navigate through this. * The best advice that I can give at the moment is to think positive and start to plan. Demand is high for peak dates so bear that in mind plus the fact that other countries have their 'road' maps a long time so they are busy booking resorts and destinations that are extremely popular. * Flights are now available until the November 2022 (Easter '22 & Mid Terms are proving as popular as it always was so flights are very busy to certain destinations). There are many options available for Spring & Summer 2022 and lots of fabulous cruise options for 2022 and even 2023. You may have had to postpone your special day but what a celebration it will be for your family and friends when it happens. You will still have your dream adventure to look forward to and that will be so worth waiting for. Don't forget we also have our fabulous app myTC so you can be working away making payments in a secure way until closer to the time in instalments of your own choice. Ask me for more details. I have some fabulous downloadable brochures and itineraries available so feel free to get in touch to inspire that wanderlust in you. Making each and every trip personal to each client is of the utmost importance to me and even more so, the second time or third time around if needs be. With over 25 years in experience in the travel trade, I believe we at Travel Counsellors are your safety net. You can rest assured I will be with you every step of the way. As one client once said "I was pretty sure when I looked out the aircraft window I would see Mandy loading up our bags". if I could I probably would. I love what I do and if the last 20 months have proved anything is that we are stronger than we think, more resilient and that fabulous world of ours is out there waiting to be explored.
21 June 2019
Your honeymoon should be one of the most memorable and magical trips you take. Just like your wedding day reflects your personality, I believe that your honeymoon should too! Here are some of my top tips for booking your Honeymoon. 1. What are the benefits of booking with a Travel Counsellor like yourself? I have over 25 years of experience and pride myself on delivering an excellent level of personal service. As an award-winning honeymoon specialist, I can offer advice and tips on the best options available, with a host of exclusive destinations and services for couples looking for a truly unforgettable experience. I won the Wedding Journal Readers Award for Best Honeymoon Provider of the Year in 2018 and in 2019 I won the Best Honeymoon Planner at the Irish Wedding Awards, runner up in 2020 and nominated again for 2022. Previously I have I won the Mrs2Be Best Honeymoon Provider 2015/2016/2017 following a detailed review process involving previous Brides & Grooms. I am only the only company that won this award consecutively for 3 years. I work around my clients and am available to chat with them in the evening or at weekends, over the phone or even via Zoom and I really do treat every honeymoon as if it were my own. Timing is everything, so I will help you to discover the best honeymoon destinations for each month of the year – that way you can choose the perfect place to start your married life together. The happiest day of your life deserves to be followed by a dream holiday, that’s remembered forever. That’s why I always promise a honeymoon for you to treasure. 2. Are there any mistakes that couples make when planning their honeymoon? Your honeymoon is not the time to try something really unusual that you may not like but it’s definitely the time to try something different and adventurous, whether it be camping under the stars on an African safari, white water rafting in Bali or some trekking in Costa Rica. Picking an exotic location is ideal if you have enough travel time and don’t mind long flights but not if you only have one week for your honeymoon. Walking hand in hand along a white sandy beach is amazing but not if you are both active types – it won’t be long until you start getting itchy feet. 3. How far in advance do you recommend booking? Airlines only tend to release seats 11 months in advance, however, it’s never too early to get ideas. Instagram & Pinterest now allow people to dream big way before ever heading off on that fabulous adventure and I often get couples contacting me 2 years in advance of their Big Day. Planning allows time to budget accordingly but more importantly allows adequate time for passport & visa applications and vaccinations if required. Factors that are often overlooked by couples and are of utmost importance, especially going forward. 4. Would you advise on a mini-moon before the wedding? Yes, especially if your dream honeymoon is to a destination where for example it’s wet season around the time of your wedding. Also, often there may be time and budget constraints so why not wait? It’s definitely a growing trend and we are so lucky to have access to so many fabulous European destinations that still have so much WOW factor. 5. Do you have any advice for couples who are not really sure what they want? Always remember, when it comes to planning your honeymoon, the world is your oyster - you may want to combine a few different destinations or have an unusual idea or request. Honeymoons are meant to be romantic, but even the most intense love birds need a break. However you envisage your special journey, I can tailor-make the perfect honeymoon to suit your requirements and always encourage couples to get in touch early to start getting some ideas of what they would like but also so they can rule out what they definitely don’t want. And just as your choice of venue for your wedding day reflects your own personalities, you will want a honeymoon destination that suits you both too – remember there is no obligation to just lie on a beach for 2 weeks Your honeymoon is a chance to enjoy your dream holiday, giving you time to unwind and enjoy each other’s company after all the planning and excitement of your big day. It really marks your first shared experience as a married couple. Please do get in touch to start planning your best adventure yet!
16 September 2021
So to say I was beyond excited was an understatement. With literally a couple of weeks notice we as Travel Counsellors Ireland kindly received a fabulous invitation from NCL Cruises to come onboard NCL Epic and sail from Barcelona to Sardinia as a guest on their inaugural Return to Seas sailing. I flew from Dublin to Barcelona with Ryanair from T1 and returned from Barcelona with Aer Lingus into T2. It wouldn’t be genuine of me if I wasn’t to say that the outbound check-in procedure took a bit longer – mostly due to the fact there were a lot of flights departing within the same hour so the fact we had arrived 3 hours earlier was a necessity. The key is to be prepared and have all your documents if possible uploaded to myTC saving on both paper and hassle. We arrived to Barcelona airport and quickly proceeded to the baggage area once we had scanned our Spanish QR codes. And then THAT feeling that we all love……the balmy heat as you walk outside the terminal. Honestly it felt amazing! We quickly transferred to Barcelona Port, where we had been pre-booked in for our Antigen Tests. Again, all very quick and seamless and once our results were issued we were ready to board. Honestly, it was all so quick and extremely well organised. A quick stop at our Oceanview Balcony Stateroom on Deck 12 to freshen up and we were ready to explore. Our stateroom was decorated in lovely white and teal colours with the comfiest of beds – having a balcony really adds to the experience especially watching the sunrise when you arrive at another port or even a sunset as you depart to the next. The facilities onboard NCL EPIC were nothing short of EPIC, from the Aqua Park with its bowl slide (the only one at sea) which we sampled a few times, rock climbing wall, casinos, shopping facilities and so much more. But it’s at night-time that you really get the true NCL experience. The choice is endless from the legendary Liverpool venue where the Beatles performed - the Cavern Club, the acclaimed Broadway show Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Burn the Floor, the Spiegel Tent, Howl at the Moon, O’Sheehans Bar, the Ice Bar and the ultimate Adults Only Spice H20’s style Ibiza Beach Club. We made up for 18 months of no music and dancing. My feet will take days, possibly weeks to recover. Then DINING – WOW the choice was simply amazing, we didn’t even get to sample them all over our 4 days onboard but am sure over a 7 day sailing you would just about get around them all. The speciality restaurants are well worth the experience. So it's safe to say my RETURN TO TRAVEL via NCL’s RETURN TO SEAS was nothing short of FABULOUS. Now where too next? Feel free to reach out if you have any travel or cruise queries for the future. Am ready when you are!
10 June 2020
There is no better getaway than with your ‘bridies’, your ‘squad’, your ‘besties’, whatever you call your gang a weekend away with the girls is the BEST tonic ever. And after the last 12 weeks of home schooling, working from home, house & garden maintenance, constantly cooking or baking – the work load has seemed endless and we will savour every second together the next time we get to travel. Over the last 5 years myself and the girls have headed to various hotspots. Starting off with Albufeira in Portugal on the Algarve for beach by day and cocktails by night for our 40th’s. There is nothing like chilling with the girls in the sun by day and getting all ‘dolled’ up together for dinner and a night on the tiles. If nothing else it will make you feel 21 again and what’s not to love about that. Krakow was perfect for a sophisticated but cultural weekend. Krakow is a beautiful city easily explored by foot, from the Royal Castle and Cathedrals to the amazing Wieliczka Salt Mines and the heart rendering grounds of Auschwitz. Excellent value for money too in terms of dining options so everyone is happy – even the budget conscious soul of the group. Prague – another WOW from me. We went here in March and it was just perfect in terms of exploring the fabulous cobbled streets during the day, often being able to enjoy lunch or drinks in the sunshine. Again so much to see and do including Prague Castle, the iconic Charles Bridge and then the Astronimical Clock overlooking the Old Town Square. Perfect at anytime of the year but Krakow and Prague are extra special from November and well into January with the squares all majestically set for the Christmas markets (the markets tend to end late December). Think cosy clothes, hot chocolate and marshmallows surrounded by twinkling lights. In both these cities we stayed in apartments rather than hotels which was really fun, especially in the evenings with everyone getting ready together whilst the fridge was well stocked with nibbles and pre dinner drinks. Just so relaxing & plenty of banter to boot. I have also been to Rome with my Mam and my sister – they say everyone should travel with their Mam at least once if you can (am so grateful that I can) and for so many reasons – maybe I will do another blog on that soon. We were very lucky with the weather we travelled in late October and it was glorious. Lots of special moments including the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Piazzo Venzezia, St Pete’s Basilica, the Vatican and zillions of photos later but a must is a short taxi ride across the River Tiber to an area known as Trastevere – a truly picturesque area full of beautiful bars and restaurants set around a medieval square where the locals like to dine – the food is amazing. We went over there every evening because it was so lovely. Walking shoes are an absolute must. I suppose the ultimate getaway with the girls is New York where we never stopped for 72 hours. What can I say about the city that never sleeps. Times Square * Broadway * Little Italy - so many charming and authentic Italian eateries with gingham tablecloths galore * Canal Street - not like it used to be back in day * Chinatown - some culinary delights witnessed there were certainly not for the fainthearted! * Brooklyn Bridge - a truly memorable walk which took 25-30 minutes or so in the rain which didn't dampen our spirits in the least! * Manhattan Bridge & Dumbo for a true selfie snappers paradise for that iconic photo. * Top of the Rock - Observation Deck on top of the Rockefeller Centre with stunning views of New York City * Rockefeller Centre * Hop On/Hop Off Bus - part of the New York Explorer Pass. * 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar - New York's largest rooftop bar complete with DJ Booths & funky Igloos to enjoy those cocktails & beers overlooking the Empire State – the list of what we did goes on and on and yes we even managed to fit in some shopping but sure that goes without saying and may have enjoyed the most expensive round of Mojitos EVER but it was worth it! I have also done a week with the girls skiing in Austria but that’s another blog entirely and not for the fainthearted. Take a look at my previous blog posts for more details on all these fabulous escapes. Next year’s escape has already been put in the diary for a 3 Night Med Cruise, but the ever growing list of cities and resorts on our agenda’s include Lisbon, Porto, Santorini & Mykonos, Ibiza and hopefully Dubai to name but a few. So whatever your plans make sure to get in touch and let's get that weekend away in the diary. It's the tonic we all need.
02 March 2020
Yes I know we have heard it over and over again but it seems Iceland is on so many people's bucket list. I headed off this weekend with my fabulous Mam and WOW it was an incredible weekend and exceeded all my expectations. With daily direct flights from Dublin to Reyjkavik it's the perfect choice for a 3 or 4 night escape. We had everything pre-arranged which meant a seamless weekend of activity and adventure and less worrying about expense. Our first night was to go in Search of the Northern Lights and yes the infamous lights came out to dance albeit for a very short while. There a few ways to experience the auroras and we did it by boat which was a fun evening. An expert guide helps you to search for the lights while telling us all about the science, legends and myths that surround this amazing natural phenomenon. My overall favourite experience was our Golden Circle excursion via Fridheimar Greenhouses & the Thingvellir National Park. An early start with inches of snow covering the dramatic landscape, dotted with quirky homes and dozens upon dozens of beautiful Icelandic horses, we headed to the active Geysir area which started erupting over 1000 years ago. The hot springs bubble away under the surface and shoot water over 100ft up into the air every few minutes. We then headed on to the Gullfoss Waterfalls, which is one of Iceland's most popular attractions. It really took my breath away (or maybe that was the minus 2 wind and snow falling adding some extra drama to the experience). On our last full day we wandered the streets of Reyjkavik with the modern Hallgrimskirkja cathedral, the Harpa Concert Hall, the glass domed Perlan, the striking Sun Voyager sea sculpture there is soooo much to see & do. It's a great city and so easily explored on foot. After all the adventure there is no more perfect afternoon than bathing at the world famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. It's hard to explain and even felt a bit surreal to be honest just letting your mind and body relax whilst your mud mask works its magic while sipping a drink at the lagoon bar. They say Iceland is a 'once in a lifetime experience' but I really hope I get to go back some day as there was so much more I would love to do including seeing the sights by Superjeep, Snowmobiling, maybe a Glacier Hike and a few hours in the wild on a beautiful Icelandic horse. To spend this weekend here with my Mam made it extra special. Feel free to get in touch so I can tailor-make your special weekend to Iceland. Iceland we loved you!!!
12 October 2019
WOW what an amazing four days I have just had in Mauritius. We flew via Dubai with Emirates but there are plenty of good options with various airlines. We stayed in the very beautiful Trou aux Biches one of the eight Beachcomber Resorts on the island. Situated in the North West of the island on the whitest sandy beach. It feels like paradise from the moment you arrive into the beautiful reception area. The resort has six different restaurants so a very wide and varied choice of dining. Four of the restaurants are located within the main area of the resort's huge main pool, whereas two others enjoy a separate location close to the beach and sea. Myself and my colleague were extremely lucky to be staying in a fabulous Family Suite, with our very own private pool in the crescent overlooked by the master bedroom with its huge bathroom complete with indoor and outdoor showers. Trou aux Biches Beachcomber has Kids Clubs for children aged 3 to 11 and a Teen Club for the older ones. It is also the perfect romantic resort for honeymoons/anniversaries/weddingmoon’s – as they say themselves at Beachcomber ‘Every moment becomes a lasting memory’ – and I totally agree as the resort is romantically set on a pristine 2km of beautiful beach. And WOW the Sunsets were just amazing each evening! We enjoyed a fabulous day in the South of the island on a unique speedboat experience where we snorkelled at Tour Moutou, stopped at beautiful waterfalls and had lunch on the beach at Ile aux Cerfs, the rum flowed and the music had us all dancing away until it was time to return to the mainland. Whilst there we did a site inspection of the Beachcomber Victoria – perfect for families and the Victoria For 2 which is Adults Only so a perfect honeymoon or romantic break destination. I really loved Victoria For 2, it has only 23 Ocean View Rooms and 17 Swim Up Rooms which are styled so well. It has a real ‘boutique hotel’ feel to it – there is even a Seaview from your shower in some rooms. Both these hotels offer All Inclusive. Guests at Victoria cannot use the facilities in Victoria For 2. Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island was described by Mark Twain as “Mauritius was made first, then heaven” and a truer word was never said. I certainly will be back as would love to see and explore more of this beautiful destination.
25 July 2019
Over the years I have been a seasoned traveller to the much-loved country of Turkey. However, the infamous city of Istanbul, where Europe and Asia magically meet over the Bosphorus Strait had escaped me. So, when the opportunity arose to visit Istanbul I jumped at the chance. The list of inspiring attractions in Istanbul is endless - the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, the Bosphorus, the Grand Bazaar and local life. My favourite was definitely the Hagia Sophia - first it was a church, then a Mosque and now a museum. It is also famous for its domes and gold mosaics. We rambled here for quite a while and even got to visit the upper galleries via the original ramps. It was simply stunning. When it was time for a well-earned lunch, we enjoyed our Turkish Meze in the sunshine and took in the view of the beautiful Bosphorus river. Our tour then led us to the Grand Bazaar and our excitement levels were rising in anticipation for this. Well what can I say the sights and smells of the Grand Bazaar was everything I had imagined and more. It's colourful and chaotic doorways and lanes are filled to the brim with local produce, crafts and treasures. Turkish tea and treats are plentiful and all part of the shopping experience. If that's not enough to awaken your senses and bring out the best haggler in you there is also the Spice Bazaar. I only hope my pictures do my experience justice as words fail me. It's another world where one could easily spend anything from 2-3 hours or 2-3 days exploring. That night we enjoyed a very fun cruise with dinner and drinks on the Oriental Bosphorus - plenty of Turkish music with some folk and belly dancers thrown in for good measure plus an onboard DJ to keep the crowd on the dancefloor until late. It was a great experience as we sailed past all the high-end properties and restaurants along the Bosphorus. It was definitely something worth doing as part of a group. We laughed until we cried and if that's not the sign of a good night, I don't know what is. We stayed in the Eresin Hotel in the Sultanahmet Area of the Old City, a boutique style hotel which hosts its own private museum. What's not to love about cocktails on a rooftop bar while watching the sunset. We couldn't have asked for a better location with so many fabulous restaurants and bars all within walking distance. We flew directly to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines into the brand new Istanbul Airport - WOW – it is on another level. When completed they expect it to accommodate over 200 million people and to be the world's busiest airport - six times the size of London's Heathrow. Turkish Airlines fly to more destinations in the world than any airline, thus making it the largest carrier and operates to the highest of standards, complete with your very own flying chef. Alas my visit to Istanbul was filled with plenty of Turkish Delights and we certainly departed wishing we could stay longer. I am already looking forward to a return visit to Istanbul - I most certainly will be back. Feel free to get in touch if you think a weekend in Istanbul needs to be ticked off your Bucket List!
04 July 2019
Well if you follow my blogs you will know that I did NYC last year with a group of fantastic & bubbly ladies so as this years trip was ruled by the plans of a 12 year old a VERY different few days in New York lay ahead of me! It was far from Rooftop bars, delicious cocktails & late night banter in bars and more about cupcakes, candy stores and sports stores galore, but never the less New York was exciting as ever. In fairness she is still talking about it 18 months on so I must have got it right. So in the words of Ella - 13 & 3/4's lets go to New York “I am so surprised on Christmas Day when I opened my presents, I nearly cried. I marked the date on my calendar in my bedroom and started to count down the days. It was my Birthday a few weeks before we went and everyone gave me US Dollars so I could do my own shopping. The flight wasn’t too long and I got to watch lots of new movies that were out in the cinema. When we were waiting on our suitcases in JFK we met Ryan Tubridy and he even let my Mam take a selfie. I was so embarrassed but he was really nice to us. We went straight to our hotel called the Fitzpatricks in Midtown Manhattan and got changed to go exploring. It was nice and warm most of the time when we were there and we walked soooo much. I loved all the shops especially the ones we don’t have here including Forever 21, Macy’s, Old Navy, Justice and Urban Outfitters. I bought lots of new clothes and presents for my friends. We also got the bus one day to Jersey Gardens, there were so many shops and the biggest Food Court I EVER saw. My favorite thing we did was going to see Mean Girls on Broadway. My Mammy knows how much I love musicals and it was just the best day. I always say to her ‘On Wednesdays we wear PINK’. I can’t wait to go see another show sometime. We also went on a really cool bus called The Ride which drives all around the Broadway area and has lots of dancing and music onboard. It was soooo much fun. We went to Madame Tussauds, Mr Ripleys, and went on the Hop On Hop Off bus. We also went to Central Park and hired bikes and saw where they made Friends in Central Park. Most days the weather was nice but one day we were going to a lovely park near our hotel called Byrant Park where they have Outdoor Movies but it was too wet so went to a huge cinema near Times Square and saw Elton John’s Rocketman. They had HUGE popcorn buckets. I would love to go back some day but Mammy says I need to start saving” No matter how many times you go to New York it's always as good as the last time if not better. I have still to tick Hudson Yards and the Chelsea Line off my list so hopefully we will get back together some time. It was a great few days away together.
27 November 2018
Without a shadow of a doubt the Seychelles is the most beautiful destination I ever had the privilege to visit. It was simply 'heaven on earth' and honestly took my breath away each and every day. The Seychelles is made up of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. We started our adventure by landing in Mahe International Airport and headed straight to the island of Silhouette to stay in the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa. Easily reached by the hotels very own speedboat from the Bel Ombre jetty which took about 35 minutes and also can be reached by helicopter. It was like arriving at another world - a true island experience surrounded by lush jungles and mountains. We stayed in a beautiful King Garden Villa, a very spacious contemporary villa with a large bathroom offering an indoor and outdoor shower. They were just a short stroll to the stunning beach. We knew after our first night in the Seychelles we were in for a very special and unique few days. Our next stop was back to Mahe to the Constance Ephelia, which we reached by the very scenic and memorable Mission Lodge. This was a very different property set within 120 hectares and situated on two of the most beautiful beaches on Mahe, overlooking the Marine National Park of Port Launay. Perfect for both couples & families - the Kids Club here was so cool and funky, complete with its own pool. All the suites & villas are very spacious, and we stayed in a Family Villa with private pool which was simply a sanctuary in itself. No visit to the Constance Ephelia would be complete without a visit to the unique U Spa Village. It's a spa like no other - an oasis amidst the tropical gardens offering a truly blissful spa experience. You can simply do as much or as little as you want at this beautiful resort as there are plenty of activities available including numerous water sports & diving opportunities. We then headed to the Hilton Northolme Resort & Spa - a mere 25 minutes from the airport in the Northwest of Mahe and lovingly known as the smallest Hilton in the world with just 15 villas. This hotel is a true escape with every villa ocean facing and offering stunning views of the Indian Ocean & Beau Vallon Bay. Let's just say the room we stayed in moved me to tears - it was one of those moments in life that you realize that life is not measured by the number of breathes we take but the moments that take our breathe away. There are numerous dining options including the unique 'floating trays' and with a very talented Irishman headhunted as Head Chef for the last 5 years be prepared to experience the most amazing culinary experiences. Snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding or simply just enjoy a cocktail by the infinity pool. The Hilton Northolme will certainly hold a special place in my heart for a very long time. An early start today to explore Victoria, the world’s smallest town, before heading to the luxurious 5 Star Banyan Tree for lunch and onwards by ferry to the island of La Digue. The island of La Digue certainly did not disappoint, famous for its beaches like Anse Source D'Argent which is dotted by the granite boulders infamous to the islands of the Seychelles. If you are looking for a relaxed island vibe with beautiful beaches and a touch of local life, then you will love La Digue. With very little traffic on the island and everyone exploring by foot or on bike you will fall in love with the atmosphere on this gem of an island. We stayed at the Le Domaine De L'Orangeraie. Praslin was our next stop, a mere 15 minutes by ferry from La Digue. Praslin is the 2nd largest island of the Seychelles and was certainly one of the highlights of my week in the Seychelles. Lots more beautiful palm fringed beaches surrounded by the granite boulders that will WOW you even more than the last. We stayed at the very modern 4 Star Coco De Mer & Black Parrot Suites which has just completed a $12 million renovation this year and the hotel reflects this from the moment you arrive. Its very privately located and passionately ran and owned by a local Seychellois. The hotel runs complimentary shuttles to the Anze Lazio beach and you can stroll or use bikes to explore the many sandy beaches and coves located close by. Another must is the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Vallee De Mai, home to the rare black parrot & the Coco de Mer. Our final afternoon took us back to Mahe which we did so by air - a breathtaking 15 minute flight with Air Seychelles before our last transfer of 20 minutes to the Carana Beach Hotel - this locally owned boutique hotel has just 40 chalets, 12 of which have private plunge pools and all within a short walk from the beach. The perfect end to a more than perfect week with each chalet overlooking the breath-taking waters of the Indian Ocean. The colours and concept of the Carana Beach create an authentic Seychellois sanctuary. Its nearly like the hotel imitates the colours of the Seychelles. Each chalet is modern with rustic touches inspired by the sea. We loved our stay at the Carana especially our treatments at the Sens Spa, thus leaving the Seychelles with a calm only the islands can provide. The service, the standards of accommodation and the cuisine on the Seychelles was second to none. Most of the hotels in the Seychelles are on a Half Board basis with drinks on par with what you would pay here at home, unless you try the local beers which are very reasonable. I would estimate that a couple should allow for at least €100 to €150 per day for drinks and lunches. I would go back in a heartbeat, so whether it’s for a honeymoon, wedding anniversary, special birthday or just simply been on your bucket list for too long, please don't hesitate to contact me to find out more. You must once in your lifetime 'Live the Seychelles Experience' if nothing else to stop me going on and on. It was paradise!
05 September 2018
Incredible India really says it all! The sights, the smells, the sounds. I honestly will never ever forget India! After a late arrival in the capital city of India, New Delhi and an overnight in the sleek and modern Le Meridian we enjoyed an informative introduction on India from the ground handlers Travelite. Our itinerary was North India - The Golden Triangle. Delhi to Jaipur via Neemrana, and then Agra via Bharatpur and Fatehpur Sikri ending with the magical and awesome Taj Mahal before our return trip back to Delhi for our flight home. We enjoyed lunch at the historic Imperial Hotel - one of the oldest hotels in India and were treated to a tour of the Royal Suite. As they say if you need to ask how much it costs a night then you can’t afford it; simply stunning. That afternoon we enjoyed an escorted sightseeing tour of New Delhi, the President & Parliment Houses as well as a short photo stop at India Gate. Then we visited Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the gold tombed Sikh Temple still in active worship today. This sacred temple is highly spiritual, and it was an honour to sit amongst the locals and watch their intense prayer and worship. One of the unexpected highlights of this afternoon was a visit to the Soup Kitchens at the temple where 10's of thousands of people a day are fed for free. All the food is donated, prepared and cooked by volunteers - an experience that’s very hard to describe but one that makes you truly appreciate what we have in our lives. We helped out for a bit and made naan bread with the locals and sampled some of the tastiest Indian food am sure that any of us ever had and most likely never will again. Later we visited Qutub Minar - The Red Fort and witnessed plenty of early Muslim & Afghani architecture. Our day ended with a fantastic meal at a local restaurant, Lazeez Affaire, located in Delh's embassy area. We checked out and embarked on our drive to Jaipur - the pink hued capital city of Rajasthan. On route we visited the magnificent Neemrana Fort Palace, cut into the hillside, this property takes you back hundreds of years to the Majaraja era. We had a brief inspection of the Holiday Inn Jaipur, where we enjoyed some local entertainment and dinner before arriving at the Marriott Hotel. The next day after I worked out at the gym and used the pool of the Marriott with a colleague - we needed to counteract the effects of all the amazing food and tonnes of Naan bread already consumed. Trust me it’s addictive!! We visited the magnificent Amber Fort - built in the 16th Century and one of the most beautiful samples of Rajput architecture. Our transportation up to the fort was on elephant so lots of fun and laughter I can assure you. Afterwards we had a brief inspection & lunch at the Trident Hotel. That afternoon, we visited Jaipur's City Palace with its various museums where we saw beautiful collections of Mughal clothing. We headed then to Jantar Mantar, an ancient astronomical observatory which was so fascinating, before experiencing the local markets and did some haggling. A task not for the faint hearted and one I honestly don't think I will ever forget!! Finally, we began our drive to Agra - the land of the Taj Mahal. We stopped off at the Laxmi Villas Palace in Bharatpur, renowned for its bird sanctuaries. Afterwards we continued our drive, visiting Fatehpur Sikri enroute to Agra. That evening we enjoyed another fantastic meal in a local restaurant with a few drinks and which cost approx. €10 per person. We stayed at the Jaypee Palace Hotel on our final night and up early to visit the Taj Mahal for sunrise. An unforgettable experience stepping inside this eternal symbol of love and one I will treasure forever. Another wonder of the world I can tick off my bucket list, a surreal photo opportunity. After lunch at the Trident Hotel we visited the splendid Agra Fort, another captivating & intriguing palace. And before I knew it we sadly began our trip back to Delhi for our flight home. I have to go back to see and experience so much more. The India you experience today is not the India you will experience tomorrow so contact me for more information. Colourful, chaotic and crazy - loved it!!!!!
13 June 2018
There are once in a life time adventures and my trip to the Serengeti was that for sure. We flew with Qatar Airways via Doha to Kilimanjaro who were just top class. A quick stop in Arusha for one night to break up the journey and then the 'real' adventure began. Arusha is a very small rural airport that serves the Serengeti area, and this is where we boarded our light aircraft for an exciting short flight to the Grumeti Airstrip deep in the Serengeti. From there we went straight by jeep to the extremely unique and amazing Bush Rover Suites. The Bush Rover Suites are full working Land Rovers that once in situ turn into a stunning home, deep in the heart of the great Wildebeest migration. There is a beautiful elevated bedroom with your own balcony (complete with sofa for watching the sun go down), and downstairs is a wood panelled bathroom (complete with a romantic bath) and an outdoor shower which is solar powered to ensure hot water, lights and power. Sure, what more could you want. Fabulous dining is guaranteed from the lovely mess tent with beautiful sofa’s and stunning views of the vast plains ahead. It was a truly special experience - my only regret is that we couldn't stay for longer! The annual migration is a natural phenomenon which takes place each year where 1.5 million Wildebeest move onwards for better grazing. The sheer numbers of Wildebeest, Zebra, Elephant, Buffalo, Baboons, Impala, Hippos & Giraffe we encountered on our daily game drives was simply unbelievable. We actually witnessed the start of the Wildebeest begin their migration on our second night! The excitement in camp even amongst the rangers and staff was almost tangible. There were many memorable moments but for me one of them had to be the flying over the Serengeti and realising I was so far removed from technology. This was what being at one with nature really meant. The say the Holy Grail of safari is the Serengeti and now I know why. Stunning skylines, dining under a sky full of stars with the log fire burning away, with just the sounds of the animals & birds in the background- all day & all night. It was truly an experience I will never forget. Tanzania is so unique as a destination combining stunning beaches in Zanzibar, wildlife beyond your imagination in the Serengeti, Selous and Ngorongoro Crater & wonderful birding near Lake Victoria – it is a total holiday in one country.
24 March 2018
Well it has been almost 10 years since I last visited New York so a trip back was well overdue and what a better way than to revisit the awesome 'city that never sleeps' with five other larger than life and fun loving ladies. So how much can you possibly pack into 72 hours in New York? * Times Square * Broadway * Little Italy - so many charming and authentic Italian eateries with gingham tablecloths galore * Canal Street - not like it used to be back in day * Chinatown - some culinary delights witnessed there were certainly not for the fainthearted! * Brooklyn Bridge - a truly memorable walk which took 25-30 minutes or so in the rain which didn't dampen our spirits in the least! * Manhattan Bridge & Dumbo for a true selfie snappers paradise for that iconic photo. * Top of the Rock - Observation Deck on top of the Rockefeller Centre with stunning views of New York City * Rockefeller Centre * Hop On/Hop Off Bus - part of the New York Explorer Pass. I would highly recommend this, and can provide you with more information on this. * 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar - New York's largest rooftop bar complete with DJ Booths & funky Igloos to enjoy those cocktails & beers overlooking the Empire State. So where did we dine when we were not sightseeing? New York really has something for every taste bud and every budget. * The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co - Times Square. Inspired by the 1994 Forrest Gump movie was our first dining experience on the afternoon we arrived. A great afternoon was had here trying out some really cool different food & drinks. * Dos Caminos - Times Square. Reasonably priced authentic Mexican food and lets not forget the tasty Tequila! * Love & Dough - Dumbo Area. Industrial & quirky little spot with tasty Italian dishes and delicious pizzas. * Rock Centre Café at the Rockefeller Centre. We enjoyed the most amazing brunch overlooking the famous ice-rink. * STK - NYC Midtown Manhattan. Sophisticated spot that's both a chic lounge with DJs & a modern steakhouse serving prime cuts & seafood. Without a doubt the best steak I ever had - a unanimous decision all around but at $14 for a thimble sized portion of pepper sauce its a treat night. * O'Lunney's Irish Bar - what visit to NYC wouldn't be complete with some true American/Irish style food & drinks! And did I mention we shopped well just a little bit? - Old Navy/Macys/Tiffany's/Victoria Secrets/Sephora on more than one occasion -when the Times Square store is open 24 hours it would be rude not to. Every kilo of that 23kgs Baggage Allowance was used to the max by each and every one of us. As they say life is too short not to buy those shoes or a new lipstick - well that's my motto and I am sticking to it! As a stopover en route to the Caribbean, or before or after a fabulous cruise from Fort Lauderdale or Miami, or just as a standalone US city break New York, has something for everyone. Just don't forget to pack those comfortable walking shoes!!
05 June 2017
Of all the blogs I have written over the years this one worried me the most, and only because I am afraid it won’t do the Maldives and the stunning island resorts of Kuramathi and Kandolhu justice. Everyone has a dream destination and the Maldives has been mine for a very, very long time and by no means did it disappoint. If anything, it was everything I wished it would be and more. We flew with Turkish Airlines and arrived to Male airport surrounded by the balmy heat. As soon as we collected our luggage, the clear blue seas of the Indian Ocean greeted us. We travelled by speedboat to the island of Kuramathi which took a swift 1hour 20 mins. It wasn’t long before all the ooh’s and ah’s began – I think we had taken a dozen photos before we even got off the jetty. I witnessed the clearest blue sea and the whitest sand I have ever seen in my life. It was at this very moment; I knew I was in ‘my paradise’ before the adventure had even started. With eleven villa categories to choose from, nine a la carte restaurants and seven different bars offering you plenty of choice – which no other island in the Maldives offers. We stayed in the 2 Bedroom Superior Beach Villas with king size beds, a Nespresso machine, quirky couches, luxury bathrooms stocked with none other than the fabulous Voya products (all the way from Sligo), outdoor rain showers and so much more! Best of all, we had our very own private decking just steps from the beautiful white beach and the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Oh, and did I mention the spa? We also experienced a lovely relaxing treatment at the Kuramathi Spa. If bliss exists – this is where you’ll find it! As we chilled after our massages, watching the sea planes land and take off we captured a moment we will never forget. The next day we took a quick speedboat journey to the island of Kandolhu; this island is simply perfection. With just 30 villas, each offering either direct beach access or ocean views. Honestly, this stunning resort island is paradise and for the most part I am going to let my photos do the talking from here on in. As the saying goes… ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. We enjoyed a fabulous meal prepared by the Head Chef who was resident chef at Kelly’s in Rosslare - it’s a very small world we live in. We had some time to enjoy activities and so we went snorkelling in the reefs surrounded by baby reef sharks, turtles and fish of every shape, size and colour! Honestly, I can’t do the Maldives total justice here, but trust me when I say it was everything you can dream of. Please do get in touch so I can share my experience with you in more detail.
24 May 2017
Well this adventure started with Virgin Airlines, travelling in Premium Economy in the Upper Deck - it was a lovely experience to say the least. This year’s venue for Travel Counsellors Gold Conference 2017 was the Half Moon Resort – Montego Bay in Jamaica which is a destination in itself, set on 44 acres with 2 miles of beachfront. Our accommodation for the weekend were the Royal Villas. These villas are the ultimate combination of space and privacy and are a perfect choice for families or groups, the villas have the feel of a home from home with all the perks of the resort. We had our own golf buggy to get to and from the main building which added to the fun and adventure – there were some precarious learner drivers to say the least! Each villa comes with its own cook, housekeeper and butler whose individual Jamaican characters added so much to our fabulous few days – everyone needs a Ruby, Valerie and Devon in their lives. You know you’re in good hands when the day begins with a fantastic homecooked breakfast that included fresh fruit, juices, bacon, eggs, pancakes, copious amounts of toast and wait for it…… a choice of blue berry muffins, toffee cake, banana cake and soooooo much more. Any more than a few days here and they would be rolling us all home. Our first activity and by far the most popular and sought after by our group was the Dreamer Catamaran Cruise. The weather was amazing and we swam, snorkelled and enjoyed some fantastic food with plenty of Caribbean Rum and of course, plenty of dancing on board. This was by far my favourite activity of the whole weekend and its moments like this when you are surrounded by your colleagues, suppliers and staff from HQ all dancing and smiling that make me feel so proud that I am a Gold TC and all the hard work and dedication to be Gold is so worthwhile. Moments like this are just priceless and I can’t thank Travel Counsellors enough for having me as part of this amazing company for the past 10 years. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on our side the whole weekend but there were so many activities to keep us going that it wasn’t an issue. Mystic Mountain – Ocho Rios was so much fun where we got to experience an exhilarating bobsled ride inspired by the infamous Jamaican Bobsled Olympic Team before heading back down via the Sky Explorer, a chairlift 700ft soaring above the rainforest. We had a brilliant day with a stop off for a rustic Jamaican lunch at Scotchies, washed down with some refreshing Red Stripe beers of course. The next day we headed to Dunn’s Falls – Ocho Rios. Dunn’s River Falls are beautiful fast flowing waterfalls that frequently featured in tourist advertisements that endorse Jamaica. These ads make Dunn’s River Falls one of the most well liked travel destinations on the island and it’s easy to see why. We had such a laugh climbing up the falls and then hanging out in the several pools – accompanied by a videographer of course to catch all those memorable moments along the way. Can’t wait to see a copy of this – or maybe not as the case may be! So, if you think Jamaica is for you then please don't hesitate to get in touch. I certainly felt it had something for everyone - Yeah Mon!
05 April 2017
It has been a few years since my last ski trip so myself and a very excited group of beginners headed to Austria for a week on the slopes. I love organising group travel and have arranged some fabulous groups over the years of various sizes – one year I had 44 people that went skiing to Vale Thorens in France and now repeatedly travel with me. I also love travelling with a group and especially with this gang of girls who had never skied before! So as you can imagine, the excitement was intense from start to finish. We spent a fabulous week in Soll in Austria and let’s just say the ‘majority’ mastered the art of skiing. This resort has slopes suitable for every level and for those with experience it has over 284kms of slopes connecting across various resorts. The highlight had to be St Patricks Day – there are no words really. The sun was out and it was lovely and hot, live music on the slopes from 1pm and surrounded by crazy Irish and those that wanted to be Irish. It was an amazing week made even more special by an amazing day at the end of our week. I have skied now in numerous resorts across Europe so feel free to get on touch to organise your next ski or snowboard trip – get a gang together. You won’t regret it!
16 November 2016
Myself and 24 of my TC colleagues headed to beautiful Barbados for a fun filled familiarisation trip. We flew via Gatwick to Bridgetown with British Airways. I was extremely lucky to experience World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) on the outbound and Club Class (Business Class) on the return. Our hotel visits began with 2 nights at the 4 Star Turtle Beach Resort, an all-inclusive resort on the South Coast of Barbados. Turtle Beach sits along a stunning 1,500 foot stretch of white sand beach, where the sea turtles return to lay their eggs year after year. We enjoyed a fabulous afternoon watching hundreds of colourful crabs scurry around us as the sun went down. The following day we were escorted by Suntours to the infamous Harrison’s Cave. This was a really cool excursion; underground by tram through flowing streams, deep pools of crystal clear waters and towering columns of stalagmites and stalactites in this living cave. Be sure to make Harrison’s Cave a definite stop while in Barbados and Unearth the Adventure! After that we headed to St Nicholas Abbey, a stunning Jacobean Mansion with antiques dating back over 350 years where we enjoyed a private tour of the house and the rum and sugar distillery. After some ‘strong’ rum tasting we had a fabulous lunch overlooking the tropical gullies. On day 2 after we checked out of Turtle Beach we set off on a site visit of the stunning Sandy Lane. This luxurious 5 Star hotel situated close to Holetown and Paynes Bay in St James. It is simply unforgettable and just oozes style, elegance and luxury. It’s evident on arrival why this hotel is recognised as one of the most prestigious resorts in the world. Honestly this is one hotel I am sure like me you will never want to leave. Our next hotel visit was the 5 Star Fairmont Royal Pavilion. This hotel stretches along a pristine white beach, regarded as the most beautiful and exclusive in Barbados, which you can almost touch from some of the room types. All Beachfront Junior Suites and Oceanfront Deluxe rooms offer unobstructed views of the Caribbean Sea. I loved these rooms – really WOW! That afternoon we checked into the 4 Star Waves Hotel & Spa – our home for the next 3 nights. I knew on arrival that I was going to love it here. This fully refurbished hotel has a true emphasis on wellness and gives you the closest feeling to being on a cruise ship. The chic simplistic design of the rooms and suites follow a simplistic design with pale organic tones, whitewashed driftwood, most with stunning panoramic ocean views. Waves is an All-Inclusive hotel and rates also include free Spa Treatments in the beautiful Spa at Waves across the street and also free golf. The Spa side of the hotel also boasts a fabulous pool and various room types. This hotel is described as Elegance with a Twist and it certainly has that and more. We dined on our first night in the Asian Restaurant Shiso and I possibly had the best Asian meal ever – every course was simply amazing. The next day we had a site visit of the 4 Star plus Crystal Cove. Crystal Cove has an amazing unique swim up bar known as The Cave Bar, lush gardens and lagoon style pools and is a very family friendly resort. That afternoon, I experienced one of the most fun and exciting excursions that Barbados has to offer – a sunset catamaran cruise where we even got to snorkel amongst some sea turtles and dive amongst sea wrecks. We swam, danced and laughed until we could laugh no more whilst enjoying an amazing Bajan meal on-board with some mandatory rum cocktails –it be rude not to! Our final full day included hotel visits at the 4 Star plus Colony Club restored from a former Colonial Home in a prime location only 2 minutes from Holetown, and then the beautiful 4 Star plus Tamarind Cove Hotel. Tamarind invites you to uncover the best of Barbados on the island’s platinum west coast. Set along a prime 750-foot stretch of serene beach, this luxury hotel is Caribbean perfect for couple and families and the children will have their own unforgettable adventures with plenty to discover for all ages. Our final hotel visit was to the 5 Star “The House” – a stunning Adults Only property. This is a very chic, tranquil retreat where adults can unwind and reconnect in a setting of understated elegance in a boutique style environment. A lot of these hotels are connected by a complimentary water taxi and offer a unique dine around programme with free motorised and non-motorised water sports, Wi-Fi and so much more. I hope my lovely photos can give you a better insight into what this beautiful Caribbean island has to offer. Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have on Barbados. I loved it and hope someday to get back there on a proper adventure filled beach holiday.
01 November 2016
Rome, Italy’s capital, is a very beautiful, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of amazing art, architecture and culture. Ancient ruins such as the Colosseum brought me straight back to my school days when I learned about the power of the former Roman Empire. The Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes so there is no way at all that I think my blog on my first weekend in Rome will do it any justice. It was WOW – a really beautiful and romantic city that has left me wanting more. We stayed at the Veneto Palace hotel which is centrally located and within walking distance of many of the stunning iconic attractions of this ancient city – including the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and the Piazzo Venezia which is surrounded by chic shops and buzzing bars and restaurants. I would highly recommend the short taxi ride across the River Tiber to an area known as Trastevere – a truly picturesque area full of beautiful bars and restaurants set around a medieval square where the locals like to dine – the food is amazing. We went over here every evening because it was so lovely. We were extremely lucky to be in Rome on the Sunday that the Pope himself celebrates mass at St. Peters Basilica and St. Peters Square. Even those like myself who wouldn’t be extremely religious - it was a very moving and special occasion that I will treasure forever and one that I got to share with my family. One of the best ways to see Rome is on foot, you will come across some amazing sites that you won't find listed in guide books and once you get to know it you'll realise it’s not such a big city after all. We walked and walked until we could walk no more. However, Rome does have a pretty good transport system and we took advantage of our Hop On/Hop Off passes as much as possible. Rome is called the Eternal City because ancient Romans believed that no matter what happened to the world or how many empires came and collapsed, Rome would go on……and so it does! Perfect for a weekend away with family or friends or to mark a special occasion with someone you love. I will leave you with some of my many stunning photos to do the rest of the talking from here. Please get in touch if you would like to tick the Eternal City off your bucket list. It’s an absolute must!
19 May 2016
Well, when your trip begins with Business Class flights with Etihad via Abu Dhabi it can be nothing but WOW. I headed off with three of my colleagues to travel to one of the world’s most vibrant and exotic cities, Hong Kong. Home to the spectacular Victoria Harbour and boasting a gastronomic and cultural scene with something to astound any visitor. We spent four nights at the illustrious Cordis Hong Kong at Langham Place (managed by an Irish man no less), a stylish and contemporary hotel where everything is devoted to your well-being. In the heart of bustling Mongkok with a two-Michelin starred restaurant, world-famous spa facilities and a breathtaking rooftop pool, Cordis Hong Kong makes for the perfect city retreat. Not to mention that it was attached to a 14 floor shopping centre - seriously I thought I had died and gone to heaven when we discovered this. There were so many highlights over the few days it’s hard to know where to start but certainly watching the infamous laser show from the balcony of the Ozone Bar; the highest bar in the world on the 118th Floor at the Ritz Carlton, is something that I will cherish forever. The Hong Kong skyline is truly breath taking and the cocktails were so delicious. The following day we discovered the Ladies Market just minutes from our hotel and enjoyed a morning of battering and haggling. Make sure you have plenty of luggage space if Hong Kong is on your bucket list as it’s a shopper’s paradise and if you are a label diva then make sure that credit card is ready for action. Hong Kong has so much more to offer, whether you want to get outdoors and climb the Peak, ride the historic trams, use the Star Ferry or Island Hop or just enjoy the amazing cuisine opportunities the city has to offer. One thing for sure is you will never be bored or go hungry. The city's dining has an immense and irresistible choice to suit all tastes and budgets. Another highlight for me had to be our dining experiences in particular, the last evening where we enjoyed the laser show yet again from the Michelin Star Hutong restaurant where we had the most spectacular Chinese banquet. A truly magical and memorable occasion. I would love to go back some day and explore more of the stunning skyline and get lost in the city streets again and I would definitely recommend as a standalone exciting break or en route to further afield. A truly extraordinary travel experience.
02 February 2016
What a fabulous January weekend I had in Krakow! Although I’ve been working in travel for more than 21 years, I am ashamed to say that I haven’t been on many city breaks. However, after this exciting weekend I think that’s about to change. My friends and I headed off to Krakow and our first stop was to Wieliczka Salt Mine; one of the oldest salt mines in Europe. Its carvings of fabulous figures, monuments and altarpieces have earned a place on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list. It is 135 meters underground and is visited by over 1 million tourists a year. Pack comfortable shoes for heading down and deep into the salt mines. Overall, the experience was fascinating and we absolutely loved it! The historic Old Town encompasses an endless selection of bars and restaurants that we immediately sampled. It’s not the best time to be worrying about calories, as Polish people love meat, cheese and potatoes. After a good night’s sleep, six chirpy ladies headed on foot to see this beautiful city by day. The city boasts hundreds of historical buildings, from medieval churches to Art Nouveau as well as over 30 museums. Krakow’s most popular ancient monuments are Wawel Royal Castle, Wawel Cathedral and St. Mary’s Church. We spent hours wandering around the Old Town. At the centre of the square, dominated by Cloth Hall (originally designed for the medieval rag trade) are lots of craft stalls. We took in Jagiellonian University the oldest university in Poland and the second oldest in Central Europe. Our walk brought us to the outer circle of the Old Town which was originally surrounded by double defensive walls complete with 47 towers and a moat. Today, the moat has been replaced by a ring-shaped park which led us to the foot of Krakow's must-see attraction and the symbol of the nation - Wawel Hill. We ventured to the top to see the stately Wawel Royal Castle that was the kings’ seat for more than 500 years. It was WOW! This city was very easy to explore on foot and we thoroughly enjoyed doing so in the glorious sunshine. Needless to say, we all admitted that it’s a city we would definitely return to. Personally, I would love to return in December and experience the wonderful Christmas atmosphere at the Krakow Main Market Square. For more information on visiting Krakow, please give me a call.
05 November 2015
To say we were excited about this adventure is an understatement but personally as a Mammy I was also a little anxious too with the flights being so long but I need not have been worried at all. We flew British Airways via Heathrow into San Francisco and out of LA and with the excellent transition of terminals now and the on-board entertainment it was ‘plane’ sailing as they say. We stayed with friends in San Francisco and had pre-purchased a San Francisco Freestyle card before we left which included the open top hop on/hop off buses which allows you to discover San Francisco at your own pace and get a real flavour for the city. It takes you to sights such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Barbary Coast, Ferry Building, South of Market, City Hall, Union Square, Chinatown, Japan town (a fascinated 8 year old wanted nothing more but to see Japan town), North Beach, Lombard Street – the Crooked Mile and Pier 39. You can also visit the Golden Gate Bridge out as far as beautiful Sausalito and see the world famous ‘Painted Ladies’ Victorian houses. We also visited the Aquarium on Pier 39, did a Rocket Boat experience around the Bay and visited Exploratorium – which was very cool. The Exploratorium isn't just a museum but a real hands on scientific experience that would fulfil every child’s (big & small) curiosity. You are probably saying to yourself what about Alcatraz – well I had visited San Francisco back in 2003 and saw it then so we didn’t do it this time but this can also be pre-booked and included in the pass we purchased so it’s another must if you haven’t been before. To say we packed a lot into our 3 days here is an understatement. And I even managed to fit in a tiny bit of shopping - of course! I loved San Francisco. It’s quirky and so cool - the trams, the Golden Gate Bridge and it is so family friendly. It really has something for everyone so yes we would highly recommend. Our next stop after a short internal flight of 1 hour was Los Angeles. We stayed in the beautiful Beverly Garland Hotel for 3 nights in North Hollywood which was just perfect for what was to be the highlight of our US West Coast Adventure – Universal Studios Hollywood. The hotel has an hourly shuttle to Universal which runs from 9am to 10pm so just perfect for those travelling without car hire like myself and my daughter. What an amazing day we had. It just blew us both away and we loved every second of it. It really is all going on here. From the world famous Universal Studios Tour to the World of the Simpsons, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, the Transformers 3D Ride, Water world, Shrek in 4D plus so much more. We really had the most amazingly fun day here so hope my photos bring it alive for you. After a full day of fun it meant we could go back to our hotel for a short rest and then back to Universal City Walk to experience the buzz of it all in the evening time. There was lots and lots of bars, restaurants, shops and even the cinema to enjoy. The next day we headed into Hollywood itself and did the Hollywood Walk of Fame plus Madame Tussauds & the Dolby Theatre (home of the Oscars for those non movie buffs). A well-earned afternoon by the pool was enjoyed in the Californian sunshine to recover from being on the go since the day we left. Hard to believe it was November with temperatures over 20 degrees. That evening, as it was Halloween, we went trick or treating which was so much fun. Lots of candy collected & boy do those Americans really know how to add that WOW factor to their homes. Our last day was spent in Santa Monica – a quick Metro ride and a bus journey and we arrived to the famous beach and Santa Monica Pier. It’s over 100 years old and well known for its family fun park right on the end of the Pier. It’s buzzing with lots of shops, restaurants, the aquarium, buskers and lots of fun things to see & do. Hire a bike or enjoy a Hop On/Hop Off tour around the famous Beverly Hills and spot some famous movie stars homes or just enjoy some super shopping along the avenues lined with palm trees. There was so much more we would have loved to see & do in LA including the Warner Brothers Studio, Legoland, Knotts Berry Farm and Six Flags Theme park but this is where you really need a car. Travelling on foot restricted us a little but it also just means that we may need to go back someday. It is really so hard to get across what a fabulous time we had in California in just a few words but one thing is for sure that it is a once in a lifetime trip which we both will remember forever.
08 July 2015
I didn’t realise when I booked this exciting trip that the night before I would be filled with such nervous trepidation. Over the previous months so many people had said it was something they had to do on their ‘Bucket List’. It was never on mine but possibly with my many photos on my Facebook page and now this blog you will feel you have completed it with me and enjoy it as much as I did. We had a lovely short flight into Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain with Aer Lingus before our 2 hour bus journey via Lugo to Sarria which cost €17.75 each. We did a Classic 7 Day/6 Night package which also included walking the last section known as the French Way. Thankfully our suitcases were transported every day to the next hotel. Whether walking for spiritual reasons, for a cultural experience or just a personal challenge – the Camino de Santiago is really a special journey. I suppose I started with the attitude to get through ‘one day at a time’ but as the legs got a little weary and the feet started to ache it came down to ‘one kilometre at a time’. 111km can seem daunting when you think of it that way. Today, the Way of St James is more than just a pilgrimage, it is a cultural and social experience that attracts walkers from all over the world. We met so many people along the way, including French, Spanish, Americans, South Africans, Australians and of course lots of British & Irish of all ages – both North and South. There was many a ‘pit stop’ taken where the banter and craic alone inspired you to get through the next few kilometres. We spent our first night in Sarria in the Oca Villa de Sarria Hotel – basic but extremely clean and in a perfect location for our first 23km to Portomarin. The Villajardin Hotel was just what we needed after we climbed the final steps up to the Chapel of the Clouds. It certainly felt like Cloud 9 to us as we sat on our balcony overlooking the lake in the glorious sunshine that first afternoon of rest before we enjoyed some fantastic food sitting in the sun around the small square close to the fortress church. We then moved on to Palais de Rei – another 23km with an estimated time of 6 hours walking. Maybe it was the sunshine, maybe it was our bodies recovering from our first day of walking but we certainly struggled on the 2nd day and I think it took us over 8 hours to complete. We took more rests and for longer periods but we got there in the end and the Complejo la Cabana was a sight to behold. We loved it. La Cabaña (the Cabin) built completely of wood, is situated on the most beautiful grounds, surrounded by gardens, pines and chestnut trees and was right alongside the Camino path which was so fantastic. We treated ourselves to some good food and a massage – only €15 for 30 minutes and in the comfort of your own log cabin room. It was definitely what our tired legs and feet needed that afternoon and made the 28km to Arzua the next day seemed less daunting. This day can actually be split into 2 stages of 15kms and 13kms if you wanted to walk at a more relaxed pace. But we made good time and reached the 15kms mark of the town of Melide after only 3 hours. After some lunch and a rest, we set off again for the final 13km. Our hotel on that night was The Teodora – again it was a perfect location and extremely comfortable for an overnight stay. On day 5 we had another 22km which took us mainly through woodland, sleepy villages and along streams. We stopped in Rua after 18km at a charming little hamlet with beautiful stone farmhouses where the traffic jams consist of just cattle blocking the roads and we soaked our feet in the streams – it was pure bliss! A further 4km brought us to Amenal. There wasn’t much happening here at all but again it was a fabulous little spot right on the pathway of the Camino so we had some good food and of course a refreshing vino blanco before another good night’s sleep ahead of the final 14km to Santiago. We had fire in our belly on that day as we set off with gusto knowing we were almost there. There were even a few tears as we walked downhill from Monte de Gozo towards the city of Santiago. I think in my case it was pure relief that we had done it. In the Middle Ages, this is where the pilgrims used to see Santiago for the first time after days and weeks of walking. We arrived at the beautiful Cathedral of Santiago before lunchtime in glorious sunshine. And wow was it worth it! A truly beautiful city with lots of narrow winding cobblestone streets, full of quirky tapas bars and restaurants, where you can sit out on terraces enjoying some fantastic Galician cuisine. Our hotel in Santiago was the beautiful and historic 4* Virxe De Cerca, which is extremely central allowing us to easily enjoy this beautiful old city. You may have noticed that I have not said much about the food & drink but I feel that is another fantastic chapter. Breakfasts were very continental and what you would expect from this type of trip. They were very sufficient for our needs with lots of fresh juice, fruit, various breads and pastries. And I must say it was the most delicious bread ever – I think I ate more bread this week than I have in a year. We set off most mornings from as early as 7am so we would often stop for a drink or quick snack on route, often some lunch and then we would head for dinner once we had checked in and refreshed ourselves. We had some fabulous and memorable meals which were so inexpensive. Many of the places even do what is known as a Pilgrims Menu with a 3 course meal with a carafe of wine from as little as €9 each. It was just incredible food overall. We enjoyed some fantastic paella, monkfish, seabass, scallops and so much more. I could talk about the food forever. It’s really too hard to get across in words what an awesome and challenging experience this was. I had an amazing week, with stunning scenery, delicious cuisine and the best company where reality was so far removed from my mind that time allows you to reflect on what we have, what we don’t need and how to be truly grateful for what we do have. I have a motto in life ‘shoot for the moon and even if you miss you will land amongst the stars’. This experience was definitely one that I can safely say I landed amongst the stars. So if you feel this is for you as a single traveller or a group of friends do not hesitate to contact me for more details.
02 January 2015
Well what better way to start December then a trip to the Dominican Republic. My sister and I flew via Gatwick with British Airways. They have excellent connections from Dublin and flying with them was another enjoyable experience of this year and one I couldn't fault, from the super service on-board to the dining options. The balmy heat that greets you on arrival, always super excites me! I hold no claim to being a cultural fanatic but a sun worshipper I am and trust me, I was not disappointed. When we arrived at our hotel the Now Larimar we were told that we were upgraded to the Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana next door which is their sister property but is “Adults Only”, so with no kids in tow you can only imagine how giddy and thrilled we were. Our room for the next 3 nights was a Junior Suite Tropical View which would be a lead in room type category and it was really lovely, huge and decorated in bright colours and featured a Jacuzzi bath on the balcony (yes that caused even more giddiness – even though we never used it). It also had a lovely big bathroom with a massive rainforest type shower. Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana is situated on 700 yards of a picturesque palm-studded, white sandy beach in Playa Bavaro and it was like an escape to paradise. This resort boasts a host of amenities and various contemporary accommodation types. A free form pool winds its way through the perfectly manicured gardens. Guests can enjoy all the privileges from your finely-appointed rooms to the expansive powder-white beach with a daily refreshed mini-bar, premium brand beverages, 24-hour room service, pool and beach waiter service, butler service, gourmet dining with full access to the sister property Now Larimar and its facilities… just to name a few. Looooooved the Seaside Grill and especially loved the Barefoot Beach Grill – think sand between your toes as you dine on a fantastic BBQ style lunch with something to suit everyone. We were blown away and would eagerly return. I didn't want to leave! Our next stop was Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana. On arrival we were met by very friendly staff but alas I was a little disappointed in this property. It’s rated a 5 Star but I would see it as a 4 Star possibly 4 Star plus, depending on your room type. We had a Premium Deluxe Tropical View which again is the lead in room type, much smaller in size than our previous room and also older and darker colours. I was very impressed with the bathroom which has been upgraded recently with the over-sized rainforest type showers. But what matters most to me when I holiday, is the beach. Having seen a friends photos who stayed in Dreams Palm Beach back in August I was expecting an amazing beach, but alas it seems the tides during the winter meant that this beach wasn’t great during our stay. So if the beach isn’t your priority then this won’t take away from the overall enjoyment of your stay as the pools, bars and restaurants were equally as good as Secrets especially the Seaside Grill (yes we like our steak) and the Asian Restaurant, where we thoroughly enjoyed a Teppanyaki cooking experience. In all the properties we couldn't fault the buffet restaurants for any meal – the selection of food was outstanding. Champagne with breakfast anyone? Sure it would be rude to say no! Well what else is there to do when you have run out novels to get stuck into? Or that fair Irish skin just can't take any more of the amazing sunshine. There is really lots to do in the area excursion wise, from zip-lining to jeep safaris, various snorkelling, diving and fishing options plus a few different types of catamaran adventures. We chose Saona Island which is rated as the No1 trip to do. We headed off early to the North of the Island to an area known as Romana or Bayibe. There we boarded our Catamaran and sailed off to what I can only describe as paradise – honestly I thought I had died and gone to heaven. An isolated island which resembled what some of you may remember from the old Bounty advert years ago on television. Nothing but swaying palm trees, tropical blue seas and white sands. We had a fun BBQ on the beach at lunch, washed down with some Rum and Coke and learned to dance the Merengue under the shade for an hour or so. Our return journey back to the mainland was by speedboat, exhilarating and so much fun. We stopped off at some natural sand banks in the middle of the sea on our return trip to swim in the clearest waters I have ever encountered and even got to see some stunning starfish in their natural habitat. And then all good things must come to an end as we sadly said goodbye to this beautiful destination. Would I return to the Dominican Republic? Absolutely! We only scratched the surface of this gem of an island which has so much to offer. Please contact me for more details on this holiday destination which is perfect for friends, couples or families.
28 June 2016
I am extremely lucky to get some amazing opportunities as a Travel Counsellor and so delighted to have been invited to the launch and inaugural sailing of Royal Caribbean's first Quantum class ship Quantum of the Seas and boy when they say GO EXTRAORDINARY they certainly mean it. To say I was blown away was an understatement. From the offset we were WOW'd - from the initial boarding which is done very efficiently using I-pads, to arriving at our lovely modern and spacious Ocean View Stateroom with a balcony. I could certainly see myself relaxing out on my balcony watching the sunset as you depart one fabulous destination after another. So what else had this amazing ship got to offer us? Firstly you have the North Star observation capsule, the Flow Rider, Ripcord by I-Fly (unforgettable), the Seaplex for the Bumper Cars and its X-Box Lounge and so much more. With so many unique and fun experiences all on one ship, how could one ever get bored? There truly is something for everyone, especially the little ones and even the bigger little ones with the kids clubs catering from 3 to 17 years of age. I could possibly write for hours on the dining experiences alone. Japanese or Italian? Savoury or sweet? Whatever your taste buds, you’ll find it all with an incredible array of on-board restaurants and cafés. With world’s' leading chefs to master craft the menus, bringing all their tastes and ideas straight to your plate. Whether you fancy a quick bite to eat, a fun family meal, or an intimate meal for two, you won’t ever feel hungry. All this plus the infamous Bionic Bar where you will be enthralled watching your robotic barman create your tasty cocktails. With glitzy and glamorous entertainment aplenty, the show never stops on a Royal Caribbean holiday. Be dazzled by West-End style theatre productions or be left on the edge of your seat by the Aqua Theatre’s acrobatic high-diving antics. There is brilliant comedy, immense live music and stunning ice-skating shows that will take your breath away. And if movies are your thing, there’s all the latest blockbusters in 3D too. All of this is included in the price so the only trouble is working out how you’re going to fit it all in. For anyone that hasn't cruised before, I can without a doubt say that cruising has it all. Imagine waking up in a new destination each day, without having to pack and unpack, with an unrivalled standard of entertainment and dining options to suit all tastes. Please do not hesitate to contact me for further details so I can help find that perfect cruise for you.
18 February 2019
Our very comfortable 13-hour flight took us via the Maldives to Colombo. The views over the Atolls of the Maldives were breath-taking and I even made a pact with myself to get back there - which I did but that's another day's blog. After a very short transfer our first night took us to the 4 Star Jetwing Blue Hotel on Negombo Beach. Very large and rustic rooms perfect for that traveller that wishes to rest before getting into what Sri Lanka really has to offer. On our second day we headed for Anuradhapura, visiting the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage enroute. Watching these magnificent animals being bathed and fed in the Maha Oya River had us all enthralled. Our accommodation for the night was the 5 Star “Small Luxury Hotels of the World” Ulagalla Wallawwa Resort, featuring a 150-year-old mansion with 20 private ecologically-built chalets across 58 acres of land. Our stilted villa was simply stunning, furnished to the highest of standards, complete with four poster bed and private plunge pool on the decking. It was so romantic and ideal for that honeymoon or once in a lifetime trip. You can choose to dine in private in your villa, catch a golf buggy back to the main building or like us hop on your mountain bike to enjoy the serenity of this resort before the world awakes. We visited the ancient ruined city of Anuradhapura and its many scared temples and ancient sites. We were lucky enough to witness hundreds of pilgrims pay homage to their Buddha and even had the opportunity to be blessed at the sacred Bo Tree before our afternoon jeep safari at Minneriya Wild Life Sanctuary where we saw herds of wild elephants in their natural habitat. Sri Lanka really is an alternative for those with a keen animal interest and those who love bird watching. The flora and fauna were outstanding. Our hotel this night was the 4 Star Heritance Kandalama Dambulla. Remember to keep your balcony shut here as you may have an unexpected visitor from Mike the Monkey or Fran the Fruit-bat! I kid you not – lying in our bed watching dozens of bats and monkeys is something one doesn’t even imagine in a lifetime. Sigiriya Rock Fortress was our next accomplishment. This was a tough but exhilarating feat in very high temperatures, but we encouraged and helped each other and eventually made it to the rock summit. To say our legs were a little sore the next day was probably an understatement but it was certainly worth every step. That afternoon before we began our drive up into the hills and tea growing plantations around Kandy, we stopped at the Dambulla Caves. The views were breath-taking as were the caves which are covered in frescoes depicting great events in the life of the Buddha and almost 150 life size statues within them. The drive up to Kandy was so peaceful and the cooler climate most welcomed by all. That evening we checked into the 5 Star Cinnamon Citadel Kandy – more stunning views and fantastic food. Let’s just say it’s not too many hotels that have a ‘dessert room’ with so many choices. That evening we also enjoyed some very energetic Kandyian dance performances and fire walking before a quick visit to the Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha – the founder of Buddhism. Our next stop Kegalle to experience the low country tea estate and traditional planters’ life of a bygone era and learn more about Sri Lankan tea. This is where I realised that Sri Lanka is about ‘experiences’ with each property offering a deeper insight into this fascinating destination than the last. As we drove deep into the tea plantations, we were overwhelmed by the 5 Star Rosyth Estate House from the moment we arrived. A 1926 colonial planter’s bungalow set in a 62-acre private tea and rubber estate offering outstanding accommodation, exceptional food and extraordinary experiences – we were super excited to be invited into the kitchen to watch the chef prepare our dinner that evening with spices and delicacies so hot they could awake the dead! This family owned private house in the hills, is a perfect place to stay and a must for any discerning client. To watch the tea pickers as they worked before we enjoyed a very traditional breakfast is what memories are made of. The owners Farzana and Neil were the most perfect hosts. As our trip was coming to an end we head to Galle, the southern capital of Sri Lanka and enjoyed a fantastic morning rambling through the famous Dutch ramparts with its many Portuguese influences, stunning views of the harbour and the famous old light house and lots of shopping and fun haggling. Our next hotel is one that we found very hard to leave – even on arrival to The Fortress Koggala we knew this luxury resort was just what was needed to recharge the batteries after all our adventures so far. There are not many places in the world that you can hear the ocean lapping on the shore as you lie on the bed with your balcony open - a little piece of heaven. Finally, we headed along the coastal road, via Hikkaduwa to Bentota for our last night in the 4 Star Centara Bentota Beach which is uniquely only reached by boat. Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, killer surf, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food describe Sri Lanka. This is as brief a description I can give you for now on this amazing destination, one which I certainly feel is hard not to leave a piece of your heart in so for more information please don’t hesitate to contact me…you will not be disappointed!
16 June 2014
Well after a very early and easy flight to Palma Airport in Majorca, we boarded our express shuttle to Alcudia which only took 45 minutes and were checked in and all to our lovely apartment by midday. Our apartments for the week were the Sol Alcudia Centre and honestly I couldn't fault them. Our one bedroom apartment was huge and spotless and we had a lovely view of another new modern complex and its pool area opposite. The apartments were perfectly located, only a short walk from the most amazing beach I have come across in a long time - it was honestly comparable to the beaches I have seen in the Caribbean. Beautiful white safe sandy beach where you can walk out for ages before it gets too deep. There are some fantastic cafes/restaurants along the beach where you can literally enjoy your meal with your feet in the sand. We had lunch on the beach every day and enjoyed some fabulous evening meals along the beach also. Only a short taxi ride of approx. €5 each way will bring you to either the Old Town of Alcudia or the Port of Alcudia. The Old Town really is like stepping back in time to another era. The old town has a 14th-century medieval wall and it is possible to follow it almost all around the village. The Old Town also hosts a market both on Sundays and Tuesdays. Inside the walls there are several popular restaurants and tapas bars famous for their excellent food in an amazing romantic setting. The port of Alcudia has lots of fun for all the family and again lots of fantastic restaurants and bars around the Marina area. We headed off on a mini adventure whilst in Majorca to meet my sister and her family in the resort of Santa Ponsa. We had to change buses in the city of Palma and on our return trip wandered around the streets there too for a couple hours. Palma is a stunning city and would have loved to spend more time there. Some fantastic shopping areas and lots of great restaurants and tapas bars too. Santa Ponsa really has had a decent face lift over the years. I spent a couple of nights there back in 2002 so it has been a while and it’s looking really well and can see why it remains a firm family favourite over decades and is so popular with Irish families. We had a great afternoon on a Glass Bottom Boat and did some swimming and snorkelling. The children had a ball and loved seeing all the different fish. We had a lovely meal out in a local Italian Trattoria and enjoyed some delicious pizzas and vino with some locals. Back to Alcudia then and spent the following day at the Hydropark for slides, slides and more slides. We had so much fun. Overall we had a fantastic week away in glorious sunshine and only thing I regret is after over 20 years in the travel trade it’s taken me this long to discover this perfect holiday destination that is so accessible now with daily flights from Dublin and only a short 2 & 1/2 hour flight. It was just perfect - good food, fantastic weather & great company what more could one want. Please do contact me for more information if you think this is the kind of resort that would appeal to you and your family or perhaps for a getaway break without the children. Loved it and will most definitely be back!
19 March 2014
Well what a week - I don't think I have had so much fun in years. I had forgotten what it was like to travel with a group and would highly recommend it. A quick two hour flight to Toulouse with Aer Lingus and then a stunning coach journey to Arinsal in Andorra that took just over 3.5 hours and we arrived safely to the lovely 4* St Gothard Hotel in Arinsal. Andorra is situated between France and Spain, a small independent state in the heart of the Pyrenees. Located about a mile downhill from the resort but with a free bus service outside the door or a brisk 10 minute walk it was not an issue to reach the gondola. The St Gothard is great value for money and with regular entertainment, hot and cold buffet for breakfast and dinner and sauna, whirlpool and massage all available (extra costs apply) it ticked all the boxes. Andorra has super ski schools run by excellent english speaking instructors and in our group we had a mix of first timers for ski school and snowboarding. We also had some who had skied a few times before and no one was disappointed. Arinsal is ideal for beginners and improvers with its wide open runs. The ski conditions and weather was just fantastic - lots of happy tanned faces on the flight back home. We had 4 hours of ski school every day with another 3 hours free to ski alone or just enjoy the fab sunshine. And not to mention the fun Apres Ski including a Mexican themed evening, salsa classes, sledging at night on the slopes, quiz nights, an Asian night out and the obligatory bar crawl to acquaint ourselves with the bars and restaurants in the resort, many of which have live music once the skiing ends for the day. There was a great atmosphere everywhere it has to be said. For some well-earned rest or retail therapy I would recommend the Spa Centre at Caldea, the largest hot spring complex in Southern Europe with thermal pools, spas, Jacuzzis, saunas and much more and then some Duty Free shopping in the town of Andorra La Vela, the perfect way to end the week. This was must first ski trip after a 10 year break and its one holiday I won’t be overlooking next year. Get in touch today if you would like to learn more about this super fun holiday whether it’s for a group of friends, couples or even a family.
31 August 2013
Well it's been 12 years since I had been to Corfu and I suppose the last time I was 25 and partying was a priority but this time I travelled with my active 6 year old and my parents so a different type of experience altogether. We all had a great time, the weather was HOT just how I like it and the people as friendly as ever. To be honest it has changed a little but then I think thats down to the economic downturn overall and perhaps the Greek situation too so the towns/resorts are quieter than they used to be. We enjoyed some excellent meals and at very reasonable prices - approx €15 to €20 per adult including some vino. We didn't do too much this year as the holiday was well overdue and a lot of pool/beach time was enjoyed by all - a perfect place to recharge the batteries and a decent Vitamin D injection. We stayed in the Park Hotel which was only 5 minutes walk from the resort of Gouvia and less than 30 mins from the airport. It's also only about 15 minutes on the bus from the beautiful town of Corfu. Our hotel was 3 Star plus and we stayed on a B&B basis. It was perfectly adequate for the price paid - lovely large pool areas for adults and children, some evening entertainment and clean, well maintained rooms. Corfu Town is soooo beautiful and a real romantic place for couples - narrow cobble stoned streets filled with bars, restaurants and quaint shops selling everything from your usual holiday knick knacks to stunning jewellery shops - which Corfu is reknowned for. One of my favorite places to be honest. Corfu Town's split into Old and New Towns. The New is where normal life goes on. The Old is an astonishing mish-mash of cultures – it practically screams aristocracy, thanks to the influence of the Venetians, French and Imperial British. Bit of a history buff? A 16th century fortress watches over the town, complete with archaeology museums. Step into the incensed cool of St. Spiridon's Church, home to the mummified remains of Corfu's patron saint. Go sightseeing in style in a horse drawn carriage. The resort of Ipsos and Dassia again are very short bus rides away and we visited the beaches here too. Beaches are very stony and shingly so bear in mind if you are a real white sand beach lover. Overall we enjoyed our week in Corfu and whether you are the active type or just a sunworshipper there is lots for everyone in Corfu. Will we return - maybe in another 12 years. I like to try new places every year as the world is just too amazing and too big not to but am home happy, safe and slightly more freckly so a happy Travel Counsellor. Please don't hesitate to contact me for further information on resorts, properties or things to see and do.
12 November 2012
Six colleagues and I headed to Mexico to visit the resorts of Cancun, Tulum, Playa Del Carmen and Puerto Morelos for a hectic weekend of hotel inspections. So many positive adjectives could be used to describe our time in Mexico but for me 'blown away' is best how I would describe it. We flew out with Air France via Paris - fantastic service on board with a high standard of meals and drinks. Our first stop and overnight was the 5 Star Secrets Capri Resort. There is a classic Mediterranean feel to this hotel with stunning ocean views. All rooms are of the Preferred Club standard so include a host of extra amenities. It’s only 5 minutes from the vibrant Playa Del Carmen. The next morning we headed to Dreams Tulum; certainly one of our favourites, an intimate colonial style hacienda resort reminiscent of a quaint village, it is a super property for a family with an excellent Explorers Kids Club. After an amazing lunch we visited the Mayan ruins of Tulum. That evening after our check in at the Now Jade Resort we headed to dinner in the luxurious Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun. Certainly my number one choice on the 'World’s Best Beach' with so many room types including Swim Out Suites with direct access to semi private pools. Back at the Now Jade we had Preferred Club Junior Suites with Ocean/Pool Views & Jacuzzis on the balcony. Another stunning beach but more a 4 Star rather than a 5 Star property I think. On our 2nd morning we headed to Secret Silversands. This resort oozes style & sophistication. It’s very chic and has an amazing feel & vibe about the place. I really, really loved it here. That afternoon we headed to Zoetry Paraiso De La Bonita which is a completely different type of property than any of the others - much smaller with a more homely but unique feel with its eclectic collection of antiques. Each room type is an ocean front suite based on a different country. One particular client has returned 11 times to the same suite. The owner himself lives on the property and it is an exceptional boutique resort on Riviera Maya. That night we headed to dinner in the stunning Now Sapphire resort. Totally different from the Now Jade with a lovely Mayan/Balinese feel to it. I really liked this hotel also. After our meal we headed to Coco Bongos in Cancun - no words can justify this amazing evening of entertainment. Our final day started with a visit to Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa in Downtown Cancun - a super location but certainly a resort needing some TLC with the famous attraction being the on-site dolphins. The highlight of the trip and certainly the one we were waiting on with anticipation was the newly opened “Secrets the Vine” in Cancun; awe-inspiring views over the most breath-taking beach. The rooms here start with the basic Deluxe Room to the jaw dropping Master Suites that just bowled each and every one of us over. The oohs & aah’s resonated around the rooms as we viewed them. That afternoon we had some fun cave swimming in Xcaret before our final check in at Dreams Riviera Resort. Only 30 minutes from Cancun, this hotel is a wonderland of glistening pools and impressive ocean views. Super for couples and families with the Explorers Club for Kids (9am to 10pm FREE). All of the hotels are All-Inclusive and the quality and standard of food is fantastic with each restaurant and experience surpassing the last one. Unfortunately after 4 amazing nights we returned home via Atlanta with Delta Airlines. Whether you are looking for a Wedding destination, a romantic getaway or honeymoon, a girlfriend getaway or a fun family holiday, even a group, the AM Resorts of Zoetry, Secrets, Dreams and Now have something for everyone and at prices to match every budget. Would I go back - without a shadow of a doubt YES!!! I loved it and am already anticipating my return trip as soon as is possible. WOW! Contact me for more information and best prices and I can also share some more of my stunning photos with you.
04 September 2012
Well with one of my girlfriends wanting a weekend away to celebrate her big 40 we decided on the Costa Del Sol and the up market resort of Puerto Banus. With flights every day with Ryanair & Aer Lingus and less than a 3 hour flight it’s a perfect option for a few days away. We left on an early Friday morning flight and were heading to the beach by early afternoon once we had checked in and unpacked. We stayed at the 4 Star Park Plaza Apartments in Puerto Banus (I wouldn’t give them 4 Stars due to the lack of amenities like a pool but the apartment itself was HUGE - never seen an apartment so big). We had 2 ample size bedrooms, we even had 2 bathrooms and walk in wardrobes, a massive sitting/dining room, fully fitted kitchen and a large balcony area for chilling out in the evening before we headed out for the night. The apartments are in an excellent location - directly opposite a small beach and only a few minutes’ walk from the exclusive marina area and a further 5 minutes walk brings you to a larger and quieter beach area with plenty of sun beds etc for hire. The marina area has some fantastic restaurants and not one meal over the few days disappointed us. We enjoyed a few mojitos in the afternoons watching the amazing yachts dock and the flash cars cruising the marina area - don’t think we ever saw so many Ferraris/Lamborghinis/Porsches/Bentleys etc. Super swish! It’s not the cheapest of resorts to holiday in but we had expected that but if you are looking for a weekend with some style/good food & drink/sun & sand then we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Puerto Banus. Heres to the next big 40 celebration away!!!!
08 July 2012
What a lovely week we just had, myself and my 5 year old daughter headed off to Lanzarote for a week. We stayed in the Fariones Apartmentos between the Old & the New Town so an ideal location really. Our accommodation was spacious, very clean and included a fabulous breakfast every day in the little restaurant - everything from delicious fruit, meats, cheeses, so many types of bread, juices and even a warm selection for those that want something more substantial including bacon, eggs, beans, pancakes and hash browns. They ran a daily kids club although it only ran for 1 hour when I was there. My little one enjoyed lots of activities and games every day with her new found friends. We could also use the facilities in the Los Fariones Hotel & the Fariones Playa apartments just around the corner so every evening she enjoyed the fun with Blufy the mascot at the kiddies disco. To be honest we didn't do too much as this was my 5th visit to Lanzarote but after a visit to Playa Blanca on the bus (approx €3 each way) I will certainly be back as I had never visited this resort before even though have heard great things about it. It was so nice and the beach was just beautiful – it has golden sand as opposed to the black sand of the beach in Puerto Del Carmen. We visited the 5 Star Princess Yaiza and hopefully next time we will stay there. It is a stunning hotel and a prime location on the beach. The resorts did seem quieter than I had experienced over the years but the staff in bars and restaurants were all extremely friendly and the food was lovely too. The standards really seem to have risen in the restaurants and I think the prices have dropped a little too. My parents (their 15th return visit to Lanzarote) joined us mid holiday as did my sister and her 2 children (aged 11 & 7) and everyone really enjoyed themselves. Weather was wonderful, mid to late 20's every day with a cool breeze from time to time. Evenings certainly got cooler and even a light jacket would be recommended. So whether you are a family, large or small, or just a couple looking for good food & drink and a week or so away in good clean accommodation to enjoy some sunshine I would have not hesitations in recommending Lanzarote. There are lots of things to do and see including the Teguise & Playa Blanca Markets, a visit to the National Park, a Wild West Show at Rancho Texas, and then new water park in Costa Teguise is a must with the kids too or even the kids at heart!
04 May 2011
As my daughter started Montessori School last year and BIG school in September it means we now must go away during 'official' school holidays so off we went to Kusadasi in Turkey for Easter Week. I do admit I was a little nervous about my return trip to Turkey as it has been 15 years since I was there last but it certainly has come up in the world. We stayed at the 4 Star Sea Pearl Hotel only 10 minutes on the Dolmus from the infamous Centrum and Bar Street area and only a 10 minute walk from Ladies Beach. The hotel was fantastic. Its totally family orientated with entertainment EVERY night, friendly staff and an excellent restaurant. My daughter had a ball and for the first time I really understood why some families must have a Kids Club. The Sea Urchins club operated every day from 10am until 12pm and from 2.30pm until 4.30pm with the supervisors on hand at night also whilst the entertainment was on keeping a watchful eye and encouraging the children (and adults) to get involved. The first couple of days we just enjoyed the sunshine and the pool and on Tuesday headed off to the Greek Island of Samos for the day. Approx 2 hours by ferry over to the very quaint and quiet island with lots of lovely restaurants and shops along its old cobbled streets. Probably best to do as a couple rather than for a family as it was a long day with a little one. Wednesday we took turns to use the Health Spa - fantastic value and a real treat midweek. Turkish Hamman Bath is a MUST do, especially early in the week to get rid of all that dead skin for a great tan. Thursday was torrential rain and thunder and the hotel provided a big screen and movies for both children and the adults which was a nice touch.Then on Friday after our last few hours by the pool we went on a short excursion to the House of Our Virgin Lady near Ephesus, which was very nice and stopped on the return to buy a few Turkish souvenirs. I found the Turkish people as friendly and inventive as always - the latest selling tactic is telling every passer by that "Kathryn Thomas from No Frontiers did this excursion". Quite funny really!!!! All in all we enjoyed our week in the Sea Pearl and think I will be back again. For best prices to Turkey - please give me a call
25 November 2009
New York – the city that never sleeps and nothing could describe it any better. This was my 3rd time to New York although it was 7 years ago since I was there last so was very excited heading off for a pre-Christmas shopping trip with my Mam. We stayed in the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, which is an excellent location for Times Square and Broadway. Just off the infamous 5th Avenue and all its designer boutiques including Prada, Juicy Couture, D & G, DKNY to name but a few. But if it’s department stores and high street fashion that’s your thing then the sky’s the limit – although baggage allowance these days is an issue so you must remember not to get too carried away! We spent our first afternoon strolling the shops and in particular the well known Macy’s. Don’t forget when you arrive in Macy’s to go to the helpdesk to produce your passport and get a 10% discount card to use throughout most of the store. Our second day we headed to the Jersey Outlet Mall. It’s about 45 minutes from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan and a return tickets costs about $10. It’s a shopper’s paradise – all the major brands at discounted prices including Gap, Levi’s, Guess, all the major sports brands and dozens of shoe shops. So after about 6 hours here and laden with bags we needed to head back for some rest before heading to Broadway to see Chicago. This had to be one of the main highlights of my trip. It was fantastic. We had no problem getting tickets for the Saturday show and got excellent seats near the front. Don’t forget to ask me about theatre tickets for hundreds of shows including Chicago, Mary Poppins, West Side Story and Billy Elliot - A highly recommended evening. On our third day we had purchased tickets for the HOP ON HOP OFF open top tour buses and sat back and took in the sights of Midtown Manhattan, Greenwich Village, Soho, Ground Zero, Battery Park, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, Chinatown, Little Italy and Central Park. It is a great way to see so much of New York. Being honest our feet were sore from all the walking so it’s a must do if you need a break from shopping or your wallet does. So whether it’s shops and fashion you crave or culture and sightseeing, then New York is a must for all ages at some stage. Okay the people are not always as friendly as us Irish but hey we can’t all be perfect! Now where did I put that new designer handbag… oh there it is amongst all my other new designer handbags!!! Well a girl can never have too many.
30 May 2009
Well it was a last minute and unplanned trip but totally enjoyable and a destination I would recommend. After a lovely short flight of 2.5 hours we arrived in Faro Airport and a short transfer of 40 minutes had us in our apartment. The Alfagar Apartments are 2kms from Montechoro and 5kms for the Old Town of Albufeira. It took about 15 minutes to walk to the Strip in Montechoro and cost €3.50 in a taxi back. A taxi to the Old Town cost about €6 each way. The Old Town is really charming, narrow cobblestone streets lined with stalls selling knick knacks and local crafts. The atmosphere is laid back and the area attracts many tourists to the main square which is surrounded by lots of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. It was lovely in the evenings to stroll around here before and after enjoying a lovely meal in one of the many restaurants serving everything from local fish dishes to Indian, Chinese, and even Mexican dishes. The Strip itself in Montechoro is over a mile of bars, restaurants, cafes and shops. Again every culinary taste is catered for along the route with many places having live music in the evenings. We ate in a great Mexican restaurant a few times called Chili. It’s at the start of the Strip at the Oura Beach. They really are great with children and provide colouring books and crayons during the meal and also feature a “Little Tikes” climbing frame and slide in the rear garden so Mums & Dads can sit near by and enjoy a drink after their meal and the little ones are safe and happy. Albufeira has several fine beaches. The main one in the Old Town gets very busy as does the Praia da Oura beach. We spent most days on the Santa Eulalia beach which was smaller and quiet but easily accessible down steps at the back of the property. A bit awkward with the buggy but worth it once we were down. The beaches were spotlessly clean and very safe. There are lots of excursions available and these can booked either through your tour company representative or locally at your reception. These include Zoo Marine, Jeep Safari, Slide & Splash, Lisbon, a Portuguese night, Seville, Monchique & Silves, Loule or Quarteira Markets and even Sir Cliff Richard’s vineyards. We spent an extremely enjoyable day at Zoo Marine. It cost €29 per adult and under 5’s are free. Age 5 to 10 years costs about €18. It was an excellent day where the dolphins and sea lions were the main stars. We had a lovely relaxing week in Portugal and I would certainly recommend it to families, singles and couples. It caters for everyone. I made note of many properties whilst out there so if you are thinking about Portugal as your holiday destination then please don’t hesitate to contact me. We will definitely be back.
16 December 2008
I was so excited when the opportunity arose to travel to South Africa, as I have heard nothing but great comments from clients and colleagues. So on the 4th of December this very excited travel agent headed off via Heathrow to Capetown. The process from Terminal 1 to 5 is an easy transition by the Heathrow Express and it wasn’t long before we were boarding our 11 hour flight. On arrival in Capetown, we were met by glorious sunshine and it was only 6.15am. Firstly was a brief visit to Table Mountain, which stands majestically over Capetown and its surrounds. Our hotel for the night was the Table Bay Hotel which boasts the ultimate location within walking distances of the restaurants, bars and shopping facilities. As this was a working visit, we visited numerous of 3, 4 and 5 Star hotels. After a long day we enjoyed a meal at The Tank. The food and drink in South Africa is superb, excellent value for money and the highest of quality. After a few more hotel inspections we headed North into the Winelands, through the picturesque valleys of Franschhoek and the wineries. First stop was the 5 Star Country House & Villas. A fantastic romantic property which dates back to the 1890’s. The rates we have for these 5 Star hotels are incredible. Another hotel en route that we inspected was Le Quartier Francais, which lies right in the heart of this enchanting village in the Cape Winelands. Finally our home for the night, the Spier Hotel near Stellenbosch. Spier is more than a hotel, delicious food is served with award winning wines and for a lively evening with outdoor entertainment, Moyo is a 650 seater restaurant that brings the taste and music of Africa to your tree-top table. The Garden Route was our next trip visiting Mossel Bay, then Outdtshoorn and finally Kynsna via Wilderness and Plettenberg Bay. The Garden Route boasts some of the country’s finest beaches, amazing treks through the Tsitskamma Forest and is home to many Championship Golf Courses. Again we visited many hotels of all standards, details of which I would be happy to share with you. My highlight was Kariega – a Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. These parks are crammed with flora and fauna, including the ‘Big Five’. Kariega is an astonishing 25000 hectares. We stayed in the Kariega Main Lodge, spacious and comfortable log chalets. I would recommend upgrading to the Ukhozi, a must for honeymooners with each of the luxurious suites having private plunge pools overlooking the valley. Elegant giraffes walked past the verandah as we were inspecting this property. You wont get closer to nature at such luxury than this. We went on an afternoon game drive and came across the lion & the lioness just snoozing. For the animal lover it doesn’t get any better. The game rangers are knowledgeable and we had so much fun in our open vehicle speeding through the reserve. Wrap up warm though as it gets quite cold at night. The night ended with a ‘Boma’ around a huge campfire surrounded by the sounds of the bush. This experience is a must for all ages. An early game drive at 6am, and we came across a family of white Rhino that strolled right up to the jeeps. It was pretty scary and amazing at the same time. Then it was back on the road to Port Elizabeth, the gateway of the Garden Route. Most people just stay here for a night pre or post Safari but it has a lovely beach and great restaurants and also a small shopping mall, home to some lovely shops selling everything from clothes and jewellery to fab handmade African gifts. After a short flight from PE we headed back to Capetown. Finally we stayed in the Commodore Hotel and had a fantastic meal in the Four Quays – a reknowned seafood restaurant. I will certainly return so that I can personally enjoy the magnificent scenery, its beautiful beaches and visit Robben Island, take a cable-car ride to the top of Table Mountain and bargain hunt and shop in the elegant malls and markets around the V&A Waterfront. It’s a fantastic location, with excellent value for money. The hotel, food & drinks rates are unbelievable and there are standards to suit all budgets and tastes. I will definitely be back and highly recommend South Africa!
05 November 2008
We decided this year we would like to try something different from the standard package holiday so we booked direct flights to Nice on the Cote D’Azur. The Côte d’Azur or French Riveria as perhaps it is better known has a most diverse coastline with stunning cliffs and the rolling countryside of Province. Add to this the chic resorts of Fréjus, St. Raphael and St. Tropez and you will really feel in a different world. Cannes, famous for its film festival and Monaco are all nearby. We hired a car for a week and booked a mobile home on a 4 Star campsite called Domaine Du Colombier in the resort of Frejus. Frejus is only 40kms from Nice Airport so ideal for those travelling with little ones. Our home for the next 7 nights was a 3 Bedroom Mobile with decking and air conditioning - which surprisingly enough we did need during the week as temperatures rose to 26 degrees celsius. It was lovely in the evenings to chill out on the decking enjoying a glass of vino and watching the sunset. The mobile home was bright and modern and came equipped with a travelcot, highchair and a buggy. The site itself had a small supermarket, restaurant for evening meals and a fantastic pool area with slides for the big kids as well as the little kids. Its also had plenty of playgrounds for different age groups including a mini bouncy castle in the toddlers playground. We were glad to have the car though as it’s a good 2kms to the town and about 4kms to the beach. Fréjus itself is a fashionable resort town with fine sandy beaches and a wonderful Aquatica Waterpark. The highlights of our trip to the Cote D’azur were: St Tropez Picturesque fishing port lined with lavish yachts, a popular resort for artists since the 1890s. I LOVED it here. The yachts were amazing and with plenty of cute cafes and bistros opposite the marina you could easily sit here for hours people watching. The little narrow cobblestone streets are lined with shops from Gucci to Prada to Dior. Good for window shopping if nothing else. Cannes A magical city of entertainment with yachting marina. We found Cannes very busy and fast moving compared to the other towns and resorts. Would have liked to explore Cannes more if we had more time. It seemed to have plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets. Nice Just 16 miles approx. from the Italian border. Situated on the Paillon river, which divides the old town with its quaint narrow streets and harbour, from the new town which extends along the Promenade des Anglais, lined with hotels and villas, and only 4 miles to its busy international airport. Monaco/Monte Carlo The old town of Monaco has an attractive setting high up on a steep rock overlooking the Mediterranean, here you will see the palace, home of the reigning prince. The capital of Monaco is Monte Carlo, famous for its casino and its annual International Monaco Grand Prix. You can even drive a Ferrari for approx. €80. We spent hours walking around this beautiful town trying to locate the Ferraris in action but unfortunately it was Yacht Week while we there and it wasn’t possible. My husband was bitterly disappointed. Ah well we will just have to go back again. All in all I found the South of France perfect for couples and families alike, particularly those that like a bit of exploring and dont mind driving - which as a matter of interest in this neck of the woods is not for the faint hearted. And the wine is cheap, which is always an added bonus!
19 August 2008
Its hard to know where to start with my love for Down Under. It certainly is somewhere very close to my heart and not a day goes by that I don’t think of something I did or saw in Oz. I began my journey in Sydney. A fantastic vibrant city that is so easy to get around from the Opera House, Darling Harbour, the Rocks, the shopping area of Pitt St to the infamous Bondi Beach and its breathtaking walk to Coogee Beach. Then there is Manly Beach and its Aquarium which is accessible by the many frequent ferries that depart from the Opera House area. They also go to Sydney Zoo where we even fed the baby Koala bears. The restaurants and bars are fantastic. Café Sydney overlooks the Opera House and views from the window tables will give you a night to remember. And for those ‘Home and Away’ fans Summerbay is only about a 40 minute drive from Sydney. Whilst the Hunter Valley vineyards and the Blue Mountains are about a 2 hour drive from Sydney. I went to Oz for 3 weeks and stayed 15 months and was lucky enough to be able to work and travel. I have been to Brisbane, stayed in Byron Bay, spent a fabulous few days in Noosa and even camped on Frasier Island with its infamous 70 mile beach/highway. Our couple of days here were fantastic! Continuing up the coast we have Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsundays. Here we sailed for 2 nights/3 days on a 100 year old tall ship called the Solway Lass and visited Whitehaven Beach and even enjoyed a helicopter ride to Daydream Island. Travelling on up the coast to Cairns, then Palm Cove, then Port Douglas, Mossman, Daintree and Cape Tribulation. Cape Tribulation and Daintree are where the World Heritage Rainforests meet the Great Barrier Reef. You never know what you might see, from crocodiles to exotic butterflies, turtles and many more colourful species. Palm Cove and Port Douglas are really quaint beach resorts and are the stops to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef and its diving. Or even just lie back and enjoy the serenity in one of the many Spas and Wellness Centres. If you fancy change why not head South of Sydney to Thredbo and Jindabyne. About a 6 hour drive and you are in the Perisher Valley. Perfect for skiing June to September. Not many people know that its possible to ski in Australia and we enjoyed a great weekend here with all our friends. Perfect for the whole family. There are also ski resorts in Victoria and these are a closer drive from Melbourne than the NSW ski resorts are from Sydney. Also along this coast are the stunning beaches of Jervis Bay, the waters here are full of dolphins and we had a fantastic experience whilst out on a daytrip cruising. The beaches here are known to have the whitest sand in the world. We enjoyed a couple of weekends in this beautiful unspoilt area. And well worth the drive in my opinion. On down to Victoria and we have Melbourne. A truly great city, whether you want to shop, party or just enjoy the culinary delights of the many eateries. There is something for everyone here. We travelled along the Great Ocean Road and marvelled at the Twelve Apostles and its truly spectacular coastline. We were also lucky enough to go to St Kilda and the Melbourne Grand Prix which was just a brilliant experience. Another great city in South Australia is Adelaide and its beautiful beaches of Glenelg. Life in Adelaide is much slower paced than Sydney and Melbourne. And a must do for wine lovers is the Barossa Valley, home to the wineries of Jacobs Creek, Penfolds and Wolf Blass. Make sure you nominate a driver or better still book a tour if no one is a tee totaller. I cannot express my passion and knowledge of Australia enough, and due to its large expansive size and diversity it would be impossible to tell you about it in so few words. So whether you would prefer a relaxing balloon ride over Yarra Valley or an exhilarating sky dive over Sydney, Australia has it all. Ask me an Aussie Specialist.
10 October 2008
Zakynthos or Zante as this island is known locally is perfect for couples, singles and families looking for a brilliant holiday without having to take a too long of a flight. Less than 4 hours direct from Dublin. I holidayed in Zakynthos in July 2006 and we had a great week. Weather was typical at that time of year – HOT!! Just how I like it but its cooler in May and June, also Sept for Oct if you cant handle the high 30’s. We stayed in the friendly resort of Kalamaki, only 15 minutes from the airport so another plus for families or those who hate to travel but love their holidays away. Kalamaki has plenty of lovely restaurants and a varied choice of bars and shops. It’s a fairly relaxed place and probably would not suit those who want to party 24/7. Alternatively, for those looking for a WILD time, the resort of Laganas is only a short taxi ride away. Here its possible to party until dawn. This resort is heaving with clubs, bars, discos, restaurants and shops. Its possible to walk into Laganas from Kalamaki along the wide but dark sandy beach and at night you may even get to spot a Loggerhead Turtle. We hired a moped for a few days but quickly exchanged it for a quad bike when we discovered that a moped isn’t the greatest for discovering this hilly island. We got to stop and enjoy many beautiful beaches whilst meandering through the varied resorts up the East coast. Argassi would be about 45 minutes from Kalamaki or 30 minutes from the airport. It’s a compact resort with a wide choice of restaurants and bars along its main street. The beach here would be quite narrow and is shingly in parts. Next resort on up the coast that we visited was Tsilvi. This is a very popular resort with many Irish & British holidaymakers. It has a great beach and even though its feels quite villagey there are loads of bars and restaurants to keep you entertained. This resort is about 45 minutes from the airport. Finally there are the quieter resorts of Alikanes and Alikes. These areas are very popular with families, looking for good sandy beaches and safe waters. Again plenty of restaurants, both international and Greek traditional tavernas. One of the highlights of this trip for us was the boat trip around the island and stopping at the idyllic Shipwreck Beach and the Blue Caves. It’s the islands main tourist attraction and is a must do. So whether you simply want to lie back and enjoy the sunshine or fancy hiring a bike and exploring the countryside Zante will suit everyones needs. I loved it!!
19 August 2008
I know there are many brides to be that dream of a white wedding in the Caribbean with the sun setting in the background and the sand between their toes. It certainly avoids the worry of whether the rain will hold off in Ireland, regardless of whether you chose a summer or winter wedding. I cannot recommend getting married abroad enough. So late November in 2005 myself and my fiancé, my parents and my future brother and sister in law headed to Cuba. We flew with Air France via Paris to Havana and after a 2 hour transfer arrived safely at the Sandals Princesa Del Mar Resort in Varadero. This Ultra All Inclusive 5 Star resort was where we would spend the next 9 nights. After a brief and efficient check in we transferred by golf buggy to our fantastic honeymoon suite on the Concierge Level/Royal Level. This level of accommodation allows for 24 hour room service for those requiring privacy at meal times. We had a large living/dining room with a small kitchenette and a fully stocked beverage fridge. This led into a very large bedroom with a super king size bed and a large bathroom with a double jacuzzi bath. We also have a very large balcony area with a double hot tub overlooking the beautiful landscaped gardens with sea views. It was idyllic to say the least. This resort had everything a couple could desire for that perfect wedding moon, honeymoon or just a special break. Eight restaurants, including an Italian, a Japanese and a French bistro, one Café and four bars. Some of the restaurants require a reservation but we never had any problems with getting a table for the 6 of us. The main buffet restaurant which served breakfast, lunch and dinner was excellent with an abundance of choice. There was a gym (which we never used), a spa and beauty salon and also a hairdressers. We used the spa facilities frequently prior our wedding day and also the beauty salon with the hairdressers on the day of the wedding. The pool area was great with an abundance of available beds throughout the day as was the white sandy beach. We met with our wedding co-ordinator the day after we arrived and chose our wedding location and picked our colour scheme for the flowers, the décor, chose our cake and finalised the music and finer details. It was all so easy and simple and had no stress or strain and certainly no financial pressure that an Irish wedding can incur. On the morning of the wedding myself and my Mam were pampered in the Spa. We had our hair and makeup done before enjoying a champagne lunch in one of the restaurants. A videographer arrived shortly before I was due to leave the room and we had the events of the next few hours recorded for prosperity. After a very simple ceremony with a Cuban trio for our entertainment, we had a fantastic afternoon having our photos taken around the resort and on the beach. The photos and DVD we have are romantic and definitely capture the fairytale wedding in the Caribbean. During our stay we enjoyed a trip to the infamous Cuban Salsa Club Tropicana and also swam with the dolphins on a brilliant day onboard a Catamaran. It was a fantastic honeymoon/holiday and all concerned didn’t want to leave after the 9 nights. We then headed up to Havana for our final 2 nights. We stayed in the 5 Star Parque Central in Havana. Whilst in Old Havana we visited the markets, marvelled at its colonial palaces and charming cobbled streets and also went on a fantastic day trip to the Cuban cigar and rum factories and visited Che Guevara’s Museum. This trip was fascinating as was the whole city which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage City. It was a most memorable trip that we will all hold in our hearts for a long time and hopefully some day we will get to return.
15 August 2008
Thailand really blew me away from the dramatic scenery to the beautiful welcoming Thai people. I loved every second of it. We began our trip in Bangkok, which is chaotic but so much fun. Its always buzzing. We then headed to Kanchanaburi and visited the Jeath War Museum and saw the ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ before heading to Erawan National Park to swim in the waterfalls and whilst here even got chased by monkeys. We also spent a couple of hours at the ‘Tiger Temple’ and have some fantastic photos holding baby cubs and sitting with the tigers which were all roaming free. They are totally relaxed and chilled from all the care and attention they get from the monks that look after them. It was then on to Chiang Mai, where we shopped till we dropped at the night markets. What a great place for shopping and sampling the local cuisine. We had the fantastic opportunity to stay in a local home, where we experienced the simplistic lifestyle of a traditional village, living as the locals do. And yes I did think it was madness running out to use the ‘facilities’ during the night armed with my torch in one hand and loo roll in the other! And as for having a shower – this consisted of a large barrel of cold water and a saucepan. But I wouldn't have changed any of it. It was such a highlight to meet the locals and experience the unique languages, customs and dress. After our goodbyes and some light trekking through the jungle, we boarded our elephants and continued on until we came to our next mode of transport; simple bamboo rafts! Once aboard one can simply watch the world go by and view the amazing rice paddies from a distance. After a fascinating week or so we headed back to Bangkok to party before heading South. We boarded our night train – not for the faint hearted I assure you, and headed to Ko Pha-Ngan to relax on the beaches and enjoy some amazing spa treatments in the many spas around the island. After a couple of days there we left for Ko Tao and just chilled, snorkelled and dived. Then it was on to Ko Samui, which has everything for that perfect holiday. Great shopping, stunning beaches, lively nightlife and breath-taking scenery. We were originally only due to stay here for a few nights but ended up staying for 3 weeks. It was the perfect place to recharge the batteries after the adventurous few weeks we had experienced. We travelled on longtail boats, speed boats, local bus, rickshaw, elephant, trains, rafts and ferries. We met friendly people and had sensational food. This is the perfect place for anyone who enjoys travelling and living life to the full. I would highly recommend Thailand for couples, families and singles. It really caters for everyone!
Co Meath 25/08/2023
Co Dublin 25/08/2023
Co Dublin 21/07/2023
Co Monaghan 17/06/2023
Co Laois 15/06/2023
Co Kildare 15/06/2023
Co Meath 15/06/2023
Co Westmeah 15/06/2023
Co Meath 12/05/2023
Co Louth 12/05/2023
Co Kildare 12/05/2023
Co Meath 12/05/2023
Co Meath 12/05/2023
Dublin 6 12/05/2023
Dublin 24 12/05/2023
Co Dublin 12/05/2023
Co Meath 12/05/2023
Co Meath 12/05/2023
Co Monaghan 12/05/2023
Co Kildare 12/05/2023
Co Wicklow 12/05/2023
Co Laois 12/05/2023
Co Wexford 26/02/2020
Co Kildare 24/02/2020
Co Meath 23/02/2020
Co Meath 12/02/2020
Marino, Dublin 3 11/02/2020
Navan, Co Meath 05/02/2020
Donore, Co Meath 05/02/2020
Co Dublin 05/02/2020
Co Westmeath 25/01/2020
Co Kildare 12/12/2019
Co Meath 12/12/2019
Dublin 4 14/11/2019
Co Kildare 14/11/2019
Co Dublin 12/11/2019
Co. Dublin 11/11/2019
Co Dublin 11/11/2019
Dublin 24 09/10/2019
Co Dublin 02/09/2019
Co Offaly 18/07/2019
Co Dublin 18/07/2019
Co Cavan 27/06/2019
Co Kildare 21/06/2019
Co Meath 19/06/2019
Co Westmeath 13/06/2019
Co Kildare 27/02/2019
Dublin 24 25/02/2019
Co Kildare 25/02/2019
Co Wicklow 24/01/2019
Dublin 14 19/01/2019
Co. Kildare 22/02/2017
Co. Meath 23/01/2017
Co. Meath 23/01/2017
Mountbellew Co Galway 10/10/2014
Summerhill Co. Meath 14/04/2014
Donore Co Meath 26/05/2013