Sent by Aoife Harte
Based in Duleek, Co Meath
As your personal Travel Counsellor, I provide a unique and trusted travel service. With 28 years’ experience and using the most up to date award winning technology I can source, plan and tailor make dream holidays world-wide.
I take pride in providing a very personal and professional one-to-one service to all my customers. Every inquiry is treated like it is my own. My flexibility enables me to speak with my customers outside of office hours whether that be evenings or weekends.
Since joining Travel Counsellors in February 2015, I have grown my business year on year and built wonderful relationships with my customers. The personal touch and concierge service associated with being a Travel Counsellor is very important to me and I will ensure you receive the best possible travel experience.
Over the past 27 years, I have been afforded fantastic opportunities to travel to many different destinations. For this reason, I will be able to make comprehensive recommendations based on your personal requirements and deliver the best options available to you.
I have covered a multitude of holiday options for customers including honeymoons, families, couples, groups, and solo travellers. My extensive experience ranges from planning European holidays, ski trips, luxury travel, cruise holidays, tailor-made itineraries to Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South America and beyond, Canada, USA and Caribbean destinations. But it does not end there… I can organise your attraction tickets, sightseeing tours, unique experiences, excursions, and much more before you even depart.
My main area of expertise is cruise. If you are thinking about embarking on a cruise holiday, let me help you choose the perfect itinerary. Whether you are an experienced cruiser or contemplating your first ever cruise, I am available to have an in-depth chat and answer any questions you might have.
The Maldives is my personal favourite destination and is unrivalled if your type of holiday is pure luxury and relaxation with the most amazing beaches you won’t find anywhere else. Some other destinations I have first-hand experience of are The Seychelles, Thailand, Caribbean and Mediterranean Cruises, Mexico, Barbados, Orlando including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, Miami, many European resorts, and cities including Disneyland Paris. My most recent cruise holiday was an amazing experience on the brand-new Celebrity Edge cruise which is outstanding in design. You can view my detailed blog on my page about this trip and more personal experiences.
Put your travel plans in the hands of a trusted travel professional and let me take away all the hassle from you, so all you must do is sit back, relax, and enjoy.
You will also have the comfort of knowing that you are booking with a fully licensed and bonded company which means your money is protected. Travel Counsellors are licensed and bonded under the Commission for Aviation and Regulation in Ireland.
I sincerely look forward to dealing with you and welcome all customers and enquiries.
Whatever your holiday needs I'm here to help you, so simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact details on and I can get things started for you:
How peaceful is this beautiful moment. Watching the sun set from our Sunset Veranda onboard Celebrity Edge cruise. What you see is what you get!
A personal welcome and brief introduction about the service I provide including the benefits of booking with your own personal Travel Counsellor.
Take a walk through our Sunset Veranda stateroom onboard the stunning Celebrity Edge Cruise Ship. These staterooms are located at the aft of the ship.
The most memorable trip to Thailand during which I visited Bangkok, Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi including the Hellfire pass and the Bridge over the River Kwai.
Take a little walk through our beautiful Junior Suite Oceanfront room at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami.
Spectacular evening firework display at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Always gives me goose bumps when I watch it back. The atmosphere was electric.
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.
04 October 2022
Part 2, continued from my blog on Doha. On arrival at Mahe Island we quickly passed through the airport, into our transfer and on our way. Very efficient! We were warmly welcomed at the outstanding Mango House, LXR Hotels and Resort located in Baie Lazare on the Southwest of the Island. This secluded luxury hotel was once the former family home of Italian photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri. With forty-one sea-facing villas and suites, unique dining venues and a wellness spa, all offering sublime views of the bay. This hotel was totally relaxing, luxurious, inviting and the stylish rooms were superb. We were delighted to enjoy some chill out time at the pool before doing an inspection of the hotel. My room was a Premium room with ocean view which was beautiful, however they also offer luxurious One Bedroom Cliff House and Suite, Two Bedroom Cliff House, and a Three Bedroom House with pool. After our visit we enjoyed a wonderful dining experience at the Azido Japanese restaurant. A night cap was had in the Kokoye cocktail bar where we each sampled one of their signature locally inspired cocktails. After a wonderful sleep, we enjoyed a fantastic culinary breakfast experience overlooking the bay. The attention to detail at the Mango House is simply outstanding. I highly recommend this hotel for couples; however, children are welcome. For a pure relaxing and luxurious choice of hotel and location, The Mango House is perfect. The following morning, we were transferred from the Mango House to the Story Hotel in Beau Vallon located on the Northwest of the Island on a 3km white sandy beach with natural reef. This area is more bustling than the previous and offers more in terms of dining outside of the hotels, shopping, markets, and excursions. The hotel is 10 minutes from Victoria (the capital), 5 minutes to Morne National Park and 20 minutes from the airport. The rooms at The Story Hotel are traditional Seychellois style with open plan bathroom and large balcony. The hotel spreads out over beautiful gardens and has a large airy feel to it. Beach Pool Villas and Grand Beach Pool villas are also available to upgrade to. You can choose to dine in one of seven restaurants. This hotel would suit couples, families, solo travellers, and groups of friends looking for a resort close to the hub of activities and more choice of nightlife. After lunch we were treated to an enjoyable snorkelling boat excursion along the coast arriving at the secluded and stunning Baie Ternay Beach for some down time. On the way back to our hotel we enjoyed a relaxing cruise of the bay of Beau Vallon. Dinner was enjoyed at the hotel in the evening time. The next morning, we began our excursion to Victoria to visit the markets, landmarks, and the Botanical Gardens. Victoria is busy and bustling. The Botanical Gardens is a must visit for an enjoyable morning or afternoon. A truly spectacular experience was the Tortoise interaction where we could feed and pet them in a safe and protected environment. We learned in detail about the Coco De Mer (Lodoicea maldivica), also called double coconut, the native palm of the Seychelles Islands. Later in the afternoon, we went to visit the Fisherman’s Cove hotel adjacent to Story. This is the oldest hotel on the Island of Mahe yet retains its beautiful character. We received the warmest welcome at this hotel followed by a sight inspection. The pool area is most inviting and totally relaxing overlooking the beach. The lobby is very much open plan with striking views of the bay. They do offer different room categories, the two we viewed were the Junior Suite and the Executive Junior Suite as the hotel was 99% full, which speaks for itself. Seychelles is a stunningly beautiful destination. I would describe it as lush and green with beautiful beaches and plenty of activities. Hotels tend to sell on B&B, Half Board however Story offers All Inclusive. Seychelles is a perfect destination for Honeymooners. I would not rule it out for family and friends or solo travellers. Later in the evening we began our journey home with Qatar Airways via Doha to Dublin. What a fabulous surprise to fly home in Business Class. From Seychelles to Doha, we experienced the exclusive Q-Suite Business Class. This private suite with doors offers ambient mood lighting, fully lie-flat bed, generous storage space and a luxurious quilt. The comfort of Q-Suite is outstanding and a restful sleep was had. The Q-Suite is available on selected routes as a single option, double option or quad option depending on your party size. Without a doubt the new standard of Business Class. Back at Doha airport we were delighted to experience the Al Mourjan Business lounge for breakfast. The lounge is spacious with ample seating preferences, beautiful cuisine, shower facilities and a welcome reprieve in the airport. From Doha to Dublin, we enjoyed Business Class again for our 7-hour flight. This ensured I felt refreshed and rejuvenated after a busy week exploring both Doha and the Seychelles. This trip was incredible, and I feel very privileged to have experienced both Doha and The Seychelles and share my thoughts with you. I welcome any enquiries or questions on either destination. Thank you for taking to time to read my personal blogs.
04 October 2022
Part 1 – Doha (Seychelles continued in a separate blog) My trip to Doha began with a 7-hour direct flight from Dublin with Qatar Airways. Extremely comfortable flight with plenty of onboard entertainment to pass the time. Service was superb. We experienced the East Lounge at Dublin airport where we enjoyed refreshments and a relaxing ambience before the flight. On arrival at Doha, a meet and greet by the Al Maha service was organised and we were taken to a relaxing lounge offering light refreshments. Al Maha Services Agent assists you with the immigration formalities and then escorts you to collect your checked bags and accompany you to your transfer. We arrived at the 5* Ritz Carlton Sharq Village and greeted with a warm welcome. Located 10 minutes from the airport. The hotel is beautiful and reflects the unique architecture of a marbled Sheikh’s palace. The grounds are immaculate and manicured. The hotel offers a private beach and three outdoor pools. My room was a deluxe king room which was traditional, elegant and luxurious. No less than 7 acclaimed restaurants, bars and lounges ranging from Persian to Pan-Latin and Levantine. The following morning, we began our activities which included a guided tour of the National Museum of Qatar. It was remarkably interesting to learn about the history and culture of Qatar. From here we travelled along the Corniche, Doha’s iconic waterfront with stops at MIA Parkside and the Dhow Harbour. Lunch was enjoyed at the Parisa Restaurant found in the Souq Waqif, a wonderful experience with delicious cuisine. Later this evening we embarked on a trip to the Al Thakhira Camp for a Mangroves & Kayaking experience followed by a live BBQ dinner located 1 hr drive north of Doha. This experience was very rustic. My first time kayaking and I really enjoyed it. Not for the faint hearted as the experience can be challenging however it was an enjoyable excursion and a good night’s sleep was in order after. The following morning, we headed 1 hr south of Doha to the desert where we enjoyed a Desert Safari Trip. This experience was so much fun, exciting, and thrilling. We took stops in the desert for photo opportunities and finished off by the lake which borders Qatar. I would highly recommend the Desert Safari trip. That afternoon we enjoyed a visit of the Banyan Tree Hotel in central Doha for a sight inspection of the property and rooms. We were treated to an excellent three course lunch in the Il Galante Italian restaurant and enjoyed spectacular views of the city. Beside this hotel is the Doha Oasis, home to a signature department store and the world’s largest indoor Theme Park which we got to view but did not have time to sample unfortunately. Later in the evening we headed back to the city for the most amazing dinner on the Helipad of the JW Marriott. This was an outdoor dining experience with the most amazing views of the city surrounding us at night. One experience I will not forget. On return to the Ritz Carlton Sharq hotel we prepared for our onward journey to the Seychelles with Qatar Airways. We availed of the Oryx Lounge at Doha airport. This lounge offers a pay at the door choice subject to availability. Doha airport is exceptional. Huge duty free and shopping facilities, spacious, spotless, and bustling. My experience of Doha was wonderful, and this city is going to continue to expand. Doha is a perfect stop-over choice on route to your long-haul destination. With easy access to the city, stunning hotels, arts and culture and great experiences too. Alternatively, you can simply relax in your 5* hotel, enjoy the pools, beach, and fine dining experience. Doha would be a wonderful romantic break for any couple. Doha is ranked as the safest destination in the world, and I can see why. My personal blog on the Seychelles is continued separately.
08 June 2022
Let me start by telling you that Lake Garda is a stunningly beautiful location, I genuinely could not fault anything about this destination. From start to finish our holiday and experience was amazing. Lake Garda ticks all the boxes when it comes to the best of both worlds style of destination. There are so many options to go, see and do or simply relax by the pool if you so wish. Our chosen accommodation was the Residence Il Sogno in Desenzano, which is located approx. 20 mins from Verona airport on the south of the lake. We chose this residence as we opted for an apartment this year. The Residence provided all the necessary amenities we required including a wonderful Lake view. We enjoyed breakfast al fresco each morning on our balcony with stunning views. This gave us the option to enjoy lunch and dinner sampling local restaurants during the day and evening. The residence is 5 minutes’ walk from the town itself, very peaceful and offers a lovely pool area. Desenzano is a beautiful town directly on the lake and offers a huge choice of wonderful restaurants, cafes, boutique shops and bars. One of the bigger towns this side of the lake yet it felt calm and relaxing although there was a lovely buzz all day and evening. We enjoyed the famous markets that travel around the lake every day and Desenzano markets are one of the best. Even my husband enjoyed them so that speaks volumes. The markets are in Desenzano every Tuesday. During our time in Lake Garda, we took the train to Peschiera. Equally a beautiful town in its own way and offers a vibrant and bustling feel. Immensely popular with families due to the location of the resorts such as Bella Italia and Altomincio and proximity to the airport. Peschiera has a Venice vibe as it is surrounded by water and holds an impressive fortress. Our next visit was to Sirmione which we travelled to by ferry. Simply stunning, Sirmione, I will admit was my favourite. This town is so pretty with small, cobbled streets full of inviting shops and restaurants. We found the east side of Sirmione offers peaceful walks along the coast, with small beaches along the way. There is a stunning park (Maria Callas) to enjoy tranquility with flora and fauna. The main hub of Sirmione is bustling during the day with visitors. I particularly liked the Thermal Aquarium here and would love to return to sample it. Completely surrounded by the lake so each side will impress with amazing views. The town itself is pedestrianised. There are hotels inside the gates of Sirmione, however there are a number of great hotels within 10-20 minutes’ walk outside of the main gate. Next day we ventured on the ferry again to the town of Garda. I describe Garda as being quaint, the beauty of this side of the lake is very evident here. Perfectly manicured promenade full of beautiful flora. Plenty of restaurants along the promenade with fabulous lake views and scenery. Gorgeous little back streets with beautiful shops. I will point out I found Garda town to be an excellent choice for accessibility due to the flat terrain of the town and pavings for a wheelchair, buggy or walking aid. The ferry from Garda will take you to the town’s north of the lake, so it really is a viable choice to sample both north and south. I absolutely loved the peaceful, relaxing ambience of Garda and is a firm favourite now too. From the south of the lake, you can take day trips to Verona, Venice, or Milan by train. To visit the north of the Lake, i.e., Riva, Limone and Malcesine you can avail of the ferry by changing at Garda or best option would be to hire a car. Bicycle hire is hugely popular in Lake Garda, most hotels and residences will provide them for rental. Maybe do a little cycling before you go to warm up the muscles. Each town in Lake Garda is different yet equally beautiful in their own way and this is a destination you could return to repeatedly. I would recommend Lake Garda for everyone, couples, families, solo travel, groups, friends, and honeymoons. Whether you like a relaxing, walking, cycling, sightseeing, shopping, dining style of holiday, Lake Garda offers it all. A list of the most popular towns in Lake Garda are; Peschiera Del Garda, Desenzano Del Garda, Sirmione, Bardolino, Garda, Riva, Malcesine, Limone, Tobole. Would you like to know about Lake Garda? If so, please do not hesitate to contact me as I will be extremely happy to recommend the perfect option for you.
26 July 2019
Merhaba! One city I have been yearning to visit for a while now is Istanbul, so when I received an invitation to join a Travel Counsellors Educational with Turkish Airlines I was over the moon. Our direct flight with Turkish Airlines in business class was fantastic and I must commend them on their inflight service as I received one of the best inflight meals I ever had. The new Istanbul airport knows how to do it right! Opened in April 2019, it is outstanding, light, bright and airy and seamless to navigate. On arrival through the city it was apparent how vast and busy Istanbul is. The city was buzzing and as we approached the old part of the city the historical buildings began to emerge. You can feel the sense of history flowing through it. We arrived at the 4* Eresin Hotel in the Sultanahmet area and were greeted with a wonderful welcome. My room was beautiful, ornate and extremely comfortable. This hotel offers a roof top terrace with magnificent views of the Bosporus and the Blue Mosque and was located on a cute side street next to lovely bars, restaurants and shops. After settling in, we took a stroll to our restaurant, The House of Medusa for our first Turkish meal. Although the area felt busy there was still a wonderful relaxed vibe about, and the Blue Mosque omitted colourful lights which is any photographer’s paradise. The following morning, we joined a group walking tour of Istanbul. This tour is offered complementary to passengers on a long stop-over with Turkish Airlines and is a great idea if you want to visit Istanbul for a few hours while on a connecting flight. I highly recommend booking a tour with a guide as they can fast pass through the very long lines at the entrance to attractions and provide more information on Istanbul’s history too. The Tour began at 10am for us with the first visit to the Blue Mosque. The historical Mosque built between 1609 and 1616 is so called because of the 20,000 handmade blue ceramic tiles. As this is an active Mosque it is close at a set time during the day for prayer and if you wish to visit you will be required to wear a head scarf and a long skirt. One of the key features of the Mosque is the 6 minarets and the architecture is a mixture of Ottoman and Byzantine. From here we moved on the famous Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), once a church, then mosque and now a museum. This building is fascinating, and the preservation of the original interior is mind boggling. The history of the Hagia Sophia is so interesting, it was rebuilt 3 times since 360 and still retains its grandness, architecture and size. A must do is to make a wish at the wishing column by placing your finger into a hole and twist it 360 degrees. We next entered the Topkapi Palace museum, once home to the Ottoman Sultans and their court. Housing many museums, you could spend the day here with attractions such as the museum of the clocks, the Palace Kitchens and the Library of the Ahmet III. The entrance queue is extremely long, so I recommend booking this through a guided tour. After lunch and a little refreshment, we ventured down to the famous Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered bazaars in the world. This place is unbelievable and there is nothing you cannot buy here. The key is to haggle, haggle and haggle and I believe they will be offended if you don’t. From ceramics, clothes, jewellery, textiles and much more, this place will ignite the shopper in you. I purchased a beautiful lamp for a fraction of the cost. After the Grand Bazaar we ventured into the Spice Bazaar. Avid chefs beware you will be blown away by the spices on offer, so make your list and enjoy haggling. I was on a mission to get a deal on local Saffron and that I did. The following morning it was time to fly home but the one of the highlights was still to be see and that is the outstanding Turkish Airlines Business class lounge at Istanbul airport. From the moment you arrive at the airport the procedure is totally seamless. Inviting leather couches at your check-in desk, straight through passport control and security, we were in the lounge in a maximum of 10 minutes. There is an abundance of complimentary dining available here as well as a number of entertainment features areas such as a golf simulator, children’s play area, massive Scalextric for young and old to enjoy, PlayStation area, massage, wireless grand piano and not forgetting their very own art gallery. I have never seen anything like it before and could have spent hours here. I loved Istanbul and because we only had 48 hours, I can honestly say I will most definitely return for another city-break. There is so much to see you do, this is one city you can return to time and time again and always find something new. My best advice is to plan your trip before you go and decide what you want to see and do. Here is where I can help, I can plan your trip and tours and answer any questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact me to plan your own trip around impressive Istanbul.
14 May 2019
We decided to extend our Caribbean Cruise on Celebrity Edge which I have a separate blog on with 2 nights before in Fort Lauderdale and 3 nights post-cruise in Miami, so we got to explore both destinations in one holiday. Following a very pleasant direct flight with Aer Lingus to Miami and prompt transfer to Fort Lauderdale we had arrived. Our hotel The B Ocean is a 3* mid-range hotel in a fantastic location. Situated directly on their own private beach and literally 10 minutes’ walk from the start of the main strip with numerous shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. Fort Lauderdale is completely flat so extremely easy to get around on foot or bicycle. There is plenty to do in the hotel as well with 2 restaurants, main bar, lobby bar, coffee shop, and pool bar. Our room was very spacious, clean with excellent bathroom, walk-in shower and lovely view of the beach. Within 5 minutes you have the water-taxi stop and from here you can visit downtown Fort Lauderdale, the waterways housing Millionaires Row and Hollywood Beach. We took a lovely tour around the waterways to see how the other half live. It is beaming with mansions and yachts. We had less than 48 hours in Miami before our cruise however from what I saw I would have no hesitation to stay again and at this hotel as it was perfect for our needs. Fort Lauderdale cruise terminal is 10 mins by shuttle bus provided by the hotel. Following our cruise on Celebrity Edge we booked 3 nights in Miami at the beautiful Eden Roc Hotel on Miami Beach which was superb. From the moment we checked into this hotel we were greeted so warmly by every member of staff. They were so attentive and informative. We booked a Junior Suite ocean view with balcony which was pure luxury. The room was so large and the beds unbelievably comfortable. When I opened the door, I was blown away by the size, décor and views of Miami Beach. The Eden Roc is located on 45th street directly on their own private beach and there are 3 pools to choose from with plenty of comfortable seating and beds. One of the best experiences in the hotel was the day spa. We booked this for our last day as we had a late flight. There were amazing amenities such as the sauna, steam room, rain shower, jacuzzi and stunning relaxation area. Miami is gorgeous, bustling and full of activities. I highly recommend doing The Big Bus Tour as it is a great experience to see Miami, including the Art Deco district, Downtown Miami, Biscayne Bay and the whole of Miami Beach from North to South. Personally, I love the Biscayne Bay area from where you can take a boat experience out to another Millionaires row. I do like to make myself jealous! We found a fabulous little street, Espanola way with numerous lively restaurants and had a lovely evening at one of the Italian restaurants here. Another evening we enjoyed some people watching on Lincoln Road and our last night without fail we ventured to the famous South Beach district which was an amazing experience. Be prepared to dip into the pocket on South Beach but it is well worth it! To get around Miami Beach, I would recommend the complimentary Trolley, and there was a stop across from the hotel. You can access any part of Miami Beach, hop on hop off up until approx. 11pm at night. This is a fantastic service and saves having to take taxi. Fort Lauderdale and Miami are expensive so be prepared. For the experience alone, it was well worth it and we were sorry we didn’t have more time to explore but that gives us an excuse to return in the future. If you want to extend your cruise holiday with some land destinations, please do not hesitate to get in touch and I can help you plan your next adventure.
07 May 2019
The moment I completed a webinar introduction on the new Celebrity Edge cruise ship I instantly fell in love with the concept of the new Edge class by Celebrity Cruises and immediately booked our cruise 2 years in advance! We flew direct to Miami with Aer Lingus and enjoyed 2 pre-nights in Fort Lauderdale followed by 3 nights post cruise in Miami which I will discuss in separate blogs for you. Embarkation at the new terminal in Fort Lauderdale was excellent, efficient and speedy and before we knew it we were on board sipping a welcome glass of bubbly and in total awe. Celebrity Edge is a salubrious style of ship, with luxury beaming from literally every edge of her. The main area of the ship is the Grand Plaza housing the Martini Bar where everyone congregates in the evening to enjoy live music, a cocktail and the wonderful illuminating light show entertainment at the bar. The 4 specialty restaurants and the Al Bacio Café surround the Grand Plaza, so you can enjoy live music from any corner while dining or enjoying a coffee. I loved the concept of having 4 different main dining rooms opposed to the traditional one which included Cosmopolitan, Normandy, Cyprus and Tuscan each offering their own signature menu and experience. We got to enjoy each one and my personal favourite was Tuscan, an Italian inspired restaurant. These 4 restaurants are included with your cruise. Specialty restaurants including Le Petit Chef, Raw on 5, Eden, Fine Cut Steakhouse, Le Grand Bistro, Roof Top Grill and The Magic Carpet do come with a small but worth it supplement. Eden offers the option of a light healthy breakfast in the morning or a haven to retreat to during the day with a book. It is a beautiful tranquil area to take yourself away from everything. At night it comes alive with a wonderful show to enjoy by all the family. For casual dining the Ocean View buffet restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the day and the bakery is not to be missed. Our stateroom was a Sunset Veranda located at the aft of the ship, with extra large balcony and the most amazing sunsets each evening and sun on the balcony all day long. I felt the attention to detail was exceptional with plenty of storage. The beds were most comfortable, in fact maybe too comfortable to get out of in the morning! The bathroom felt larger than usual again with plenty of cleverly designed storage and large walk-in shower. There is no shortage of entertainment on board during the day and evening which ranges from live music, theatre performances, acrobat shows, outdoor cinema, game shows, art displays, nightclub, comedy club, pool party, garden party, silent disco, casino and the fabulous Revelation at Eden should be seen at least once. You can even book a behind the scenes tour of the ship. There is something for everyone to enjoy at any time day or night. The main highlight of Celebrity Edge is the Magic Carpet. To explain this is a cantilevered platform on the edge of the ship that acts as a bar, restaurant, extension of the pool deck and port gateway when tendered. The Magic Carpet moves between floors at different times depending on the use and the views from here are incredible. This is a world’s first floating platform on any cruise ship. The pool area is quite large with plenty of seating on different decks, so you can be in the middle of the action or take yourself away to a quiet spot with a book and enjoy the sound of the ocean pass by. There are private cabanas available to rent by the day or week adjacent to the pool and the Magic Carpet. My favourite area is the Sunset Bar for set sail each day. The buzz of the bar and the views are exceptional as you take off to your next port of call. Shopping on board is exclusive boutique style from Cartier, Bvlgari, Coach and Tiffany’s and a good selection of duty free. The Spa area is beautiful and offers a huge selection of treatments to choose from. The relaxation area is fabulous, and a week’s pass is quite reasonable. For the sports enthusiast the extra-large gym is sure to please. During our Eastern Caribbean trip we enjoyed San Juan in Puerto Rico, Tortola B.V.I and St Maarten with the unbelievable famous Maho Beach. Here you can watch the planes land and take off directly beside the beach. We walked the cobbled streets of old town San Juan and finished the day with some local tapas which was thoroughly enjoyable, however we booked an island and beach excursion in Tortola and a catamaran excursion to Maho Beach in St Maarten with Celebrity. Both excursions were very well laid out and organised. There were quite a number of families with children of all ages on board bearing in mind it was Easter break. While I did notice they organised entertainment for children and do offer excellent children’s clubs, if you are looking for a ship with large water-slides, water parks etc you will not find these on Celebrity Edge. Sadly, our cruise had to come to an end however, I will most definitely be booking Celebrity Edge again in the future. I highly recommend this ship for couples, singles, honeymooners, retirees and groups of friends. If you would like to ask me anything at all about my experience, please do not hesitate to contact me. I hope you enjoyed my blog and pictures of our wonderful holiday.
18 December 2018
We woke up on Monday 17th December with exactly 7 days before Christmas Eve to great excitement as we embarked on our 1-day Enchanting Lapland Trip. An amazing magical day was waiting for us which did not disappoint, and I feel so lucky to have the memory of this once in a life-time trip. The Christmas vibe began as soon as our flight took off. The children were encouraged to participate in Christmas songs, we had a couple of seated games on board to keep them entertainment along the way with updates from our pilot that Santa was aware of our imminent arrival. As we started to descend into Lapland the scenery was picture perfect and the ground was filled with snow topped trees. On arrival at the airport we were greeted, collected our snow suits and snow boots and had to get changed before we embarked on our magical transfers. Directly outside our sleighs sat waiting to take us into the forest to search for Santa. This was a wonderful start to our day, we enjoyed a short 15-minute sleigh ride through the snow into the wilderness as the day light started to fade quickly. In the distance we could make out some sparkling lights and as we arrived, we were greeted with a wonderful Christmas card scene of camp fires, lanterns and log cabins. Santa was already waiting for us when we arrived at his house. Our elf brought us into him and he greeted us all by name and even knew our ages too. The setting was very cosy, we could have stayed for tea, but he was very busy this day. After a lovely chat, he presented my niece with her gift and we thanked him for inviting us to visit him. No matter what age you are this will bring you straight back to your childhood memories of Christmas and even might bring a tear to your eye. We headed over to the restaurant to warm up and have some lunch. Warm, hearty and home-made food waited for us including hot chocolate and pancakes for desert and we could have as much as we wanted all day. After lunch we got straight into enjoying all the activities and these included, tobogganing, reindeer sleigh rides, husky sleigh rides, snowmobiling, kick sleighing and skidoo. The activities are great fun for all the family. On site they had a wonderful Snow Castle to enjoy some warm berry juice and ginger biscuits. There was a small souvenir shop to pick up some Christmas decorations. During the afternoon it was lovely to head over to the restaurant to enjoy some fresh coffee and more hot chocolate before we embarked on more activities and a few snowball throws. By late evening it was starting to get very cold as the temperatures dropped so it was time to head back to the airport by coach which took a mere 10 minutes. As we had been checked in already and had our boarding passes, we only had to change back to our normal clothes, pass through security to ensure we didn’t take any reindeers with us and straight back onto our flight. The friendly team on board were waiting for us and our 3-hour flight home was full of very happy children and snoring adults! I know that we will be talking about Lapland for a long time to come and the memories of our day will stay with us for a very long time.From young to old this is a wonderful, authentic and magical family day and a trip that everyone should do in their life-time if possible. If you would like to ask me any questions about our Lapland adventure, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
15 March 2018
Sa-wat-dii, khâ ( Hello ) Thailand is now sitting at the top of my favourite destinations in the world! On arrival in Bangkok it was evident that this is a city that never sleeps. It is bustling, busy and bursting with culture! Our first two nights were spent at the Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao, which is just outside of the city. This hotel offers a fabulous roof top terrace with bar and amazing views over the city. Our adventure began with a canal cruise on the ‘Chao Phraya River’ or the ‘River of Kings’, where we meandered through the canals on a longtail boat. W witnessed the small villages and the relaxed way of life here and was shocked to hear there are no less than 27 temples along the canals. First stop was at the Royal Barge Museum to see eight of the magnificent and ornate barges used by Thailand’s Royal Family to mark special occasions. Next stop was a highlight for me, the Wat Arun Temple located in the former Royal Palace, this is the biggest temple in Bangkok, built in Pagoda style and did not fail to impress! Our evening tour took us to the markets of Asiatique housing over 1000 boutique style markets located on the Waterfront, the atmosphere here was very lively with plenty of bars, restaurants and music. Our night ended with a Muay Thai Live show exhibiting the traditional art of Thai Boxing. We headed south by coach to the beach resort of Hua Hin, after a 3-hour pleasant journey we arrived at the Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas which I instantly fell in love with. Oozing with history, I particularly loved the colonial style, the beautiful manicured gardens and direct beach front location. Even though it is 5 minutes’ walk from the centre of Hua Hin the ambience of the hotel is peaceful and calm. This hotel also offers family suites with private pool which are amazing. The next morning, we visited a local market to source produce for our Thai Cookery Class and this was an experience. The Market opens at 4am and shows the way of life of the locals, coming to sell their fresh produce of fish, vegetables and spices.During the cookery class we prepared our ingredients and after a demonstration, proceeded to cook our Penang Curry, Tom Yum Soup and Papaya Salad and I must say I was very impressed with my dishes! This evening we paid a visit to the night markets in Hua Hin, so don't miss out on the bargains to be had here. Just remember to haggle! The following day we began our journey back up north to the historical town of Kanchanaburi. Passing through we stopped at the cemetery, the resting place for those that perished while building the railway from Thailand to Burma during 1943 and 1945. Extremely poignant moment. We had an interesting journey by long-tail boat on the river to get to our next hotel. We headed further up river to visit the original Mon Village, an ethnic minority originating from Myanmar. The local people reside here peacefully and traditionally without the use of electricity and live in bamboo homes. We returned to our hotel via bamboo rafts on the River Kwai. This evening we enjoyed a cultural Mon dance show after dinner before retiring to our peaceful jungle style chalets at the Riverkwai Resotel. The following morning, we were taken to the Hell Fire Pass Museum and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this. Although it is extremely sad and the museum tells the story in detail, I found it so interesting and highly recommend this tour for everyone. One of the cutting passes constructed by the Prisoners of War during 1943 – 1945, the only sound was that of the crickets emanating from the stone walls which made me feel like every soul lost here was communicated with us. The memory of walking through the pass, on the actual railway track will stay with me forever. Continuing our historical visits, we had the opportunity to visit the Bridge over the River Kwai. I was surprised how busy it was with markets stalls at the starting point. But on reaching the far end the ambience was the total opposite and very peaceful, another highlight of our trip. Coming near to the end we ventured back to the bustling city of Bangkok for our final night at the Centara Grand at Central World located directly in the city. This hotel was amazing and our room on the 43rd floor had spectacular views of the city. On the 55th floor they host an outdoor restaurant and bar circling the entire hotel and you won’t get a better view of the city than from here! This evening our group was taken on a Tuc Tuc tour of the city and I can say this was the most fun, we were like children, cackling and laughing along the way! They scoot through the traffic at speed so again not for the faint hearted. Finishing in China Town we enjoyed dinner in a local Chinese and witnessed the many street food stalls. Final stop was at the famous Pat pong markets in central Bangkok. I enjoyed this but be aware there are many local bars around the markets with various types of entertainment. If you are open minded then venture here, if not Asiatique is the market for you. Our amazing trip had to end with one final night in Bangkok before heading home.For me personally, Thailand did not fail to impress. I am already planning to return for my own holiday. If you would like to combine city, culture, history and beach in one holiday then Thailand is the perfect option for you. A perfect destination for couples and honeymooners, families, groups of friends and single travellers. I do hope that you enjoyed my blog and I am happy to discuss any details on the above with you. If you would like to contact me I would be delighted to hear from you. Khob-kun-Ka, (Thank You)
17 October 2017
Vigo is a Spanish city located on the north-west coast in the area of Pontevedra in Galicia, Spain. It is a thriving city that is starting to become increasingly popular with tourists but certainly not over-run. If you would like a very typical Spanish and dine with the locals experience, this is the spot for you. The flight from Dublin is just over 1 hour 30 minutes and transfer from the airport is approx. 20 minutes so makes it a fabulous city-break option. I travelled in October and stayed for 3 nights. My hotel was the 4* Axis Hotel which is very modern and centrally located and has the most helpful staff on hand. Our room was spacious and comfortable and had the benefit of air con. There is a cafeteria at the hotel serving drinks and snacks all day and breakfast in the morning. This hotel has a roof top terrace with small pool but only open in the summer months. The old town, marina and port are within a 15-minute stroll and fantastic shopping within 5 minutes. Vigo is the most reasonable city I have visited. A glass of wine will cost in the region of €2, a bottle of wine starts from €6 upwards. Beer will cost approx. €2. A good quality evening meal will set you back no more than €20 per person including drinks. But no matter where you go you will always be treated to a local snack and olives with your beverage. On our first full day, we tried to book a city tour by bus but they only operate in the summer months and finish in September, so we booked a private taxi panoramic tour that cost €40 between 4 of us. We got to visit the Castro Fortress set high up in Vigo with magnificent views of the city, then on to the Museo Pazo Quinones del León a stately home now a museum with beautiful gardens to stroll. From here our tour continued around the city before a stop at the beach for a bit of relaxation. Our driver brought us back to the city before our tour ended. There are many routes to take and this is the shortest and a great way to get a feel for the city. The next day we travelled by local ferry over to the Island of Cíes an archipelago and part of the Atlantic Islands National Park complete with pristine sandy beaches. There are a couple of mapped walks and hiking trails which are not for the infirm and range from 2 to 5km. I took the shorter option to the viewing point over the Atlantic Ocean. There is a large restaurant and time to relax on the beach or take a swim before returning on the 45-minute ferry to Vigo. A must do trip. Back in Vigo that evening we visited the 5* Nigari Hotel for a beverage and to view the Sky bar which was amazing before having a wonderful dinner at the La Trastiende del Cuatro restaurant which was recommended to us. I would advise to book as it is extremely popular and the Tapas are the best. There are endless restaurants to choose from but another Tapas bar we tried is Stephany’s at the old town beside the Santa Maria church and it did not disappoint. This was Saturday evening and the old town was heaving with local families out socialising with their children and had a fabulous vibe. Vigo is a hilly city so no matter where you go there will be a hill involved but each street is full of shops, cafes, and tapas bars but you can stay down by the marina/port area which is not so hilly. The shopping is superb with many boutique style shops and very well-known names also. The city is spotless clean and the stunning buildings have a French style to them. At night, it comes alive with people bustling around, chatting, shopping, having tapas or just sitting watching the world go by. There is a great nightlife scene in Vigo but mainly at the weekends, so Friday and Saturday night there are plenty of late night bars and nightclubs to suit all genre of music. I have no hesitation in recommending Vigo for the soft adventurer, a romantic city-break, a shopping trip, a solo traveller, a lady’s getaway, the cuisine connoisseur, a beach lover, even a family trip so it really will tick a lot of boxes. If you have a few Spanish words to go with even better again as many locals don’t speak a lot of English but makes it more authentic in my opinion. It is a city that will stay in my mind for a long time. If you have any questions or interested in hearing more please do get in touch, I would be delighted to chat more about Vigo.
09 September 2017
The beautiful Island of Madeira known as the garden of Europe, is an enchanting island with the most amazing flora and fauna just waiting to be explored. It was never a destination that I was drawn to in the past but delighted I got to visit there for my own holiday this year. After a very pleasant 3hr 30 min direct flight, 20-minute airport transfer we arrived at our beautiful Porto Santa Maria Hotel in the old town of Funchal. You could not get a better location with a myriad of local restaurants directly on the door step, direct access to the wonderful promenade, 5 mins from the Cable Car and a mere 15-minute stroll from the centre of Funchal. The Avenida Do Infante is considered the centre and is home to the Ritz Hotel, the historical Grand Café and Café do teatro. Here you can relax outside listening to local musicians whilst sipping on a glass of wine watching the world go by or spend an afternoon shopping in the busy bustling centre. Madeira is the perfect destination if you enjoy an active holiday as there are endless tour options and excursions and is fantastic for a walking holiday. The Famous Cable Car (a journey between Heaven and Earth) is a must do! On arrival at the top, you can visit both the Botanical and or the Tropical Gardens which I highly recommend. Visit the Church of our Lady of Monte and stop for lunch before descending back down either by cable car again or for the brave heart descend 2km by means of a wicker toboggan steered by 2 locals on foot. (Thank fully it was closed the day I visited) Another highlight for me was our trip out to Camara Do Lobos, a small pretty fishing village, from here we took another ascent up to the Sky Walk viewing point, great for stunning pictures. On our return, we stopped at the Lido Promenade for some lunch before taking a stroll along the coast before arriving back into Funchal. Lido is the new town of Funchal which houses some of the bigger hotels such as the Melia’s, Pestana’s and the Famous Belmond Reid’s Hotel. Whilst I found it busier I still like this area and there are a good selection of restaurants and the large Forum Shopping Centre. So apart from relaxing by the pool what can you do? You have the options of taking the open top, hop on hop off bus tours to get around at a very reasonable cost. There are endless tours available to choose from such as the above and the West Coast Tour, which I believe is fantastic, the East coast, Volcanic Caves, Nuns Valley, Porto Santo Island, Boat Tours for Whale and Dolphin watching, private boat tours, family boat tours, full and half day walking tours. Nightlife in Funchal is what you make of it yourself. Whilst it is not hopping with bars and nightclubs, it is not sedentary either. There is a decent selection of various bars, live music and a few nightclubs to suit just not in your face and when one closes there is always another to venture to if you so wish. Weekends are busier than midweek but being honest it suits the theme of Funchal and I would not like to see it change. They also run a lot of outdoor music concerts. For dining you will not be left hungry but rather spoilt for choice. The number of local restaurants in the Old Town leaves the mind boggled in trying to choose which one. All servicing local cuisine with dishes made from mainly chicken, beef or fresh local fish. Simple homemade dishes but delicious. You also have a variety of Chinese, Indian and Italian Restaurants mainly in the new town but the old town is reserved for local specialities. Our favourite venue was the Restaurant Do Forte, an amazing experience set in a 400-year-old forte at the end of the Old Town accessed via cobbled streets. You are never far from a festival in Madeira and they celebrate many during the year. During my visit the annual wine festival took place. During the evenings, we were treated to small concerts and parades with locals dressed in their traditional clothing, they take pride in their history and customs. Another popular attraction is the Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 museum full of his memorabilia and located on the marina along with his famous bronze statue, popular with any soccer supporters. A large casino is located at the top of the promenade beside the Pestana Casino hotel, although we did not visit I believe it can be very popular and busy especially during the high summer months. Funchal does not offer your typical sandy beach rather more man-made coves and rocky outlets, I did come across a cove that offers a selection of water sports and there is a superb public beach which appeared to be very popular with locals and young children. It is accessible for a daily fee and looked spotless with top notch amenities. If you are a beach fan then a day trip to Porto Santo is a must, accessible via passenger ferry that takes approx. 90 minutes you can spend the whole day lounging on a fantastic unspoilt sandy beach. I have returned from Madeira with a completely opposite opinion of what I envisaged it to be and is a place I do intend to return to as we our week there was not long enough to indulge in everything on offer, but what a great reason to return. The clientele I would recommend Madeira to is without a doubt couples and singles, but not if you want to party the week away, it is no Ibiza. If you are looking for a destination that you can chill for a week or two with the bonus of endless opportunity to go explore the Island, fantastic restaurants, beautiful surroundings then this is for you. If you would like to know more on the Island of Madeira, please do get in touch with me as I would be only too delighted to help.
13 December 2016
After flying with United Airlines via Newark to Miami we stayed overnight at the Turnberry Isle Hotel and received a tour of this fabulous property with an award winning golf course and the only hotel with a lazy river in Miami which is located approx. 10 mins drive from Downtown Miami. The following morning, we were treated to breakfast and hotel site visit of The 1 Hotel Miami located on South Beach. This is an outstanding property with stunning sea views and built using reclaimed materials. That afternoon we headed to the marina for the Thriller Experience which is a speedboat tour of the bay catching glimpses of A-list celebrity homes on their private island. With great excitement, I embarked on the Celebrity Reflection® cruise ship that afternoon. Celebrity Reflection® is the newest and largest ship in the Solstice class of Celebrity Cruises and houses the famous Lawn Club; a real grass garden, private cabanas, Lawn Club Grille and my favourite spot on board the Sunset Bar, perfect for a cocktail as you set sail and watch the sun set. My itinerary was a Western Caribbean cruise including Cozumel in Mexico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Labadee and 2 full days at sea. During our time in Jamaica, we got to visit the Dunn's River Falls and climb the waterfall which was so much fun and a well needed workout! The choice of itineraries is so varied and now include a lot of over-night stays in ports. Some itineraries will also include Signature Event Cruises such as the Mardi Gras and the Carnival in Rio. I found my interior stateroom on deck 11 it to be very spacious, adequately equipped with ample storage for 2 people as well as a seating area, bathroom with shower and luxury products, a bathrobe and flat screen TV. Celebrity Reflection® has a number of stateroom categories with 85% of them offering a Veranda. The choice ranges from Inside, Ocean View, Veranda and Suites. There are advantages of booking a higher category- from personalised Concierge Service with the Concierge Class to access to the Persian Garden Spa and Blu restaurant with the Aqua Class. The Suite Class offers priority embark/debarkation and complimentary premium drinks packages, exclusive restaurant and personal butler plus many more. I can discuss the different options available to you. Most nights we dined in the main dining room which offers a very good choice of four course evening meals. We found the staff to be very helpful, polite and welcoming. There are a number of beautiful speciality restaurants that can be booked for a small premium. We got to enjoy Qsine which offers the most delicious and playful dishes from around the world. This was a highlight of my cruise! Entertainment is superbly organised and offers something for everyone. You can catch a movie, have a giggle at the comedy club, watch a live production show or a live band in the theatre. Why not challenge your partner to an interactive board game, enjoy live music in the atrium, take in the pool party, a silent disco or bop the night away to the DJ in the Sky Observation Lounge. The list is endless. For the younger cruisers they can take advantage of the Teen Zone with the XClub, basketball court and video arcade and the Fun Factory for little ones. Babysitting is also available for a charge. Celebrity Cruises has received Autism Friendly Cruise Line status and I can discuss this with you in finer detail. I absolutely love cruising and was extremely impressed with Celebrity Reflection®. It is a fabulous holiday for all the family, groups, couples, singles and Honeymoons. Our group had an amazing time on this cruise and it is impossible to include everything in my blog but I am bursting with information since my return and would be only too happy to talk to you. If you would like to ask me anything regarding my time on Celebrity Reflection® or find out about a cruise for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.
27 September 2016
Positano is filled with pure beauty around every corner of the winding roads that lead from the top of this vertical town down to the Spaggia Grande beach. Vibrant colours of lemon, green, blue and pink surround you at every turn. Beautiful flowers and trees add to the decedent colours of this pretty hamlet on the Amalfi Coast. The town beach has a lovely promenade, it is pebbly and can be busy as the water taxis depart all day long to neighbouring towns and the Island of Capri. A second beach called Fornillo is 10 minute’s walk along a scenic pathway and it much more relaxed and peaceful with 3 restaurants, water sports, sunbeds and WIFI. Authentic restaurants serving local specialities, fresh seafood and home grown produce are in abundance in Positano. Some are perched up high with magnificent sea views and plenty of eateries directly facing the beach. There are cafés offering the best coffee, freshly made smoothies and the famous gelato cannot be passed up. Enjoy shopping? Then you will be in love with Positano. Plenty of little boutiques to browse while strolling around with lots of pretty souvenirs including candles, ceramics, stunning hand-made linen outfits, jewellery, leather and lots and lots of shoes. Lemon is their pride and joy, they adore their lemons in Positano and you will find everything from lemon soap and lemon sweets to lemon candles and lemon tea and not forgetting the famous Limoncello! Accommodation ranges from 5* luxury hotels to B&B’s, so there is something to suit every budget. I stayed at the Villa Celentano which is a small privately owned property and offers hotel rooms, a one and a two bedroomed apartment all with the most spectacular sea views and balconies and suited our requirements perfectly. The owner Maria is most welcoming, helpful and charming to deal with. There are plenty of trips to take from Positano either by road or by boat.I took the water taxi to the Island of Capri and spent a few hours here while stopping for lunch, relaxing with a coffee and a little bit of shopping. A must do trip is to the UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological site of Pompeii and take a tour around this amazing city that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius back in 79AD and is still preserved today. Mind boggling to say the least. Car-hire is very accessible but driving is quite difficult as the roads are so narrow so my best advice if you wish to visit the towns of Sorrento, Amalfi, Ravello, Maiori and Praiano is to take a water taxi from the beach in Positano. Would I return to Positano? Yes, in a heartbeat, it is the perfect destination for excellent cuisine, fine wine, shopping, scenery, relaxation and sightseeing, so in a nutshell it has everything. However, I would be inclined to recommend this destination to a couple including Honeymooners, Wedding Anniversaries and Special Birthdays as it really is a very special place that leaves very special memories. If you would like to know more about my time in Positano please do not hesitate to contact me as I would be delighted to share my experience with you in more detail.
20 April 2016
Ovation of the Seas was launched by Royal Caribbean International in April 2016. Regarding as a SMART ship as the use of technology from smart check-in with the use of RFID WOW bands to the Robotic bartenders in the Bionic Bar and Xbox Live capabilities so you can play against people all around the world is intended to make your experience on board both fun and functional. The moment I stepped on board Ovation of the Seas, I was awe inspired. It is instantly clear that serious thought went into the planning of the ship. The decor was plush and elegant with an up market finish. Stunning feature lighting gives a warm and welcoming feeling. We could not wait to start exploring. Staterooms consist of Inside Staterooms with virtual balcony, Ocean View Staterooms and Balcony Staterooms. We had the pleasure of viewing the Sky Loft Suite and the Grand Loft Suite which has to be seen to be appreciated. Superb sea views from both tiers of the staterooms and extra-large balconies. The attention to detail in suite categories is clearly visible and is a luxury home away from home option. We enjoyed lunch in the Windjammer Marketplace Café. This café is open 22 hours a day, and complimentary so you will never go hungry on board Ovation of the Seas. Sorrento’s Pizza Parlour and the American Icon Grill and Solarium Bistro offer casual dining also. Evening meals are served in either Silk, The Grande or Chic and in contrast to the original Royal Caribbean 3 tier main dining setting this now provides a more private dining experience. The food was delicious with an excellent choice and 5* qualities. The speciality restaurants with a small extra charge are Jamie’s Italian, Chops Grille, Izumi and Wonderland. There are plenty of entertainment venues on board including the famous Schooner’s Piano Bar, Two70 Entertainment Venue, the Music Hall for live bands and the Royal Theatre featuring some of the best theatrical shows. No trip would be complete without a visit to the Casino. You can watch a movie under the stars wrapped up with a hot chocolate or glass of champagne at the outdoor cinema at night. For the more energetic person, you will not be disappointed with the variety of activities on board. For myself the Ripcord by iFLY is by far a must do skydiving experience. Try your skills on the Flowrider which looks like a skill in itself. You can join the circus and learn some acrobatic skills, rock climb, use the running track, dodgems, roller skates, sports court, table tennis, Xbox and more. The famous North Star which rises 300ft into the air for jaw-dropping views that you’ve never even dreamed of. Younger guests will not feel left out with their very own Adventure Ocean. For the teenagers, they offer a teens disco, the living room chill out zone and the fun-packed arcade. Not forgetting the H20 Zone with mini splash area for the children. There are 2 main pools, the H20 Zone and the indoor pool. Both feature a bar and entertainment during the day at H20 Zone.For those that love to be pampered the Vitality Spa is probably one of the biggest I have witnessed at sea and offers some wonderful relaxation areas and a huge range of treatments. My favourite area on Ovation of the Seas was the indoor Solarium with magnificent ocean views from the top deck, relaxing music and feature pools. 24 hours on board Ovation of the Seas was certainly not in any way enough time to sample all of the facilities on board this beauty and a minimum of 7 nights would be required to take full advantage of it all. If you are considering taking a cruise for your next holiday as a couple, a family or a group please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be delighted to share my experiences with you and steer you in the right direction.
11 November 2015
On 18th October 2015, I was very lucky to go to Disney World, Orlando in Florida for 5 nights. Our group flew to Orlando via Philadelphia with American Airlines and I was very impressed with all aspects of our flights including comfort, punctuality, on board service and staff. On arrival at Orlando International our transition was very smooth as we had cleared US Immigration at Dublin airport, so we only had to collect our luggage and transfer straight to our hotel. Within 20 minutes we arrived at check-in at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The check-in is located in an external building from which we had to take a shuttle bus to our located block. This hotel is set on 45 acres and surrounds a large lake. Each block has their own small swimming pool and each pool is equipped with disabled access chairs. The blocks are 2 stories high and the grounds are very well maintained with some lovely walks around the lake which a lot of people use for an early morning run, (but not me!). There is one main pool with facilities for children and is supported with a life guard. Dining options include casual and quick service and also an A La Carte Restaurant. There is a small bar with outdoor seating over-looking the lake. At night they have an outdoor cinema which the children love. We also had to opportunity to visit the Disney Polynesian Resort which I was very impressed with. Being a deluxe category hotel it offers private water villas over the lake and large rooms for 5 people. The monorail is available at this property to Magic Kingdom. Due to its location the evening firework display is visible from the Polynesian Resort Hotel. A lot of the rooms have been refurbished to a high standard which is clearly visible. Following on we visited the Disney Coronado Resort which is a moderate category and is considered as their convention property, very similar in style to the Caribbean Beach Resort in that it is a large resort also set on a lake and although it is a convention hotel, there is a very relaxed atmosphere in this hotel. Probably my favourite was the Disney Animal Kingdom Resort Hotel and would be particularly impressive for animal lovers and those who adore the Lion King Movie. We got to see some Buffalo and Zebra from the balcony of the hotel room, which overlooked the small animal sanctuary. The swimming pool was impressive and lively with 2 lifeguards on duty. The hotel offers both buffet and A La Carte dining. Finally we got to visit the Art of Animation Resort which is a value resort but we all really liked this hotel. The large self-service buffet is superb with a great selection of cuisine to choose from. The hotel is split into 2 themes, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid and some rooms can hold up to 6 people. The hotel has a large pool and is particularly great for young families. I particularly like the fact that they display some of the original drawings from some of the popular Disney Movies and even some signed art work from the artists. We spent an afternoon at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where we got the test our fear with the Tower of Terror and the Rock N Roll Coaster. Not for the faint hearted but truly enjoyable. In the evening we had our very own VIP area with dinner to enjoy the evening show Fantasmic, which is set on water with amazing strobe lighting effects, acrobatic performances, all finalised with a spectacular firework display. In Epcot we sampled Test Track, Mission Space (again not for the faint hearted), Spaceship Earth, Soarin (a big must do), Seabase, and definitely not to be missed is the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth firework display in the evening. Disney’s Animal Kingdom thrill ride is Expedition Everest, River Rapids, and the Kilimanjaro Safari is a beautiful 20 minute Safari well worth a ride. One not to miss is the Lion King Show which is a favourite for all the family. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon was definitely a treat for us all and a wonderful day out for all the family. Take yourself away from the hustle and bustle of the parks. Enjoy a relaxed trip down the lazy river, relax by the pool on your own sunbed in the sand. For the thrill seeker there are plenty of fast and furious rides to keep you occupied. Personal lockers are available at the Water Park. Just insure you have plenty of sunscreen and lots of energy. Finally we had the pleasure to spend a full day in Disney’s Magic Kingdom which is such a magical experience. With so much to offer every age group including private meetings with Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell, it really brings out the big child in us all. Personal favourites include, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, The Seven Dwarf Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and not forgetting, It’s a small world. Plenty of enchanting shops, many varieties of eateries and dining venues and of course the famous Character Parade and the outstanding Firework show to round the day off. In the evening you must take a trip to Disney Springs the downtown area of Disney which is perfect for some shopping, dining, bars and shows. We frequented the Boat House restaurant which I highly recommend. The food was delicious and the setting is like something out of a movie. They have a wonderful Boardwalk Bar for pre-dinner drinks over the lake. At Disney Springs we got to enjoy the Cirque Du Soleil performance which is both trilling, amusing and an amazing acrobatic show and was a firm favourite with us all. For those who want to party there are many bars with live music but everything will close by 1.30am. As we stayed in a Disney property we go the chance to use the “MyDisneyExperience” app and website from which you can customise your trip before you depart. You can pre-book your fast track tickets for each day of your visit and book your meal times, select which shows you would like to see. Schedule the whole trip day by day before you even pack your bags. On arrival each person is allocated with a Magic Band which you must wear every day. This band is your personal security watch which allows you to access your room without a key card, charge any purchases to your account without having to carry cash or cards with you and allows you to link up to your Memory Maker which will store every photo for you taken in the parks to access and download on your return. I could keep talking about Disney World, Orlando if I had the space and have so much to share, so please do contact me directly if you wish to make an inquiry or just ask a general question, I would be only too happy to advise you on the best options for your party.
02 March 2015
If you were to ask me where my favourite destination is, my first answer is always The Maldives. What an amazing place to visit. You see pictures in brochures, on TV and on the internet and you honestly ask yourself it can’t really be like that. Well let me tell what you see is exactly what you get and more. I flew with Qatar Airways via London and Doha who were a fantastic airline to fly with. Since my visit more airlines are now offering a more direct route making it even more accessible especially if you only have a week to spare. On leaving the airport we were instantly on water and boarding our speed boat transfer to the Island of Filitheyo. This was an unreal feeling as it was not something I ever imagined being transferred to my hotel through this vast ocean on a speed boat. On arrival at the resort we were instantly greeted with the most genuinely friendly and welcoming staff who came to meet us. We didn’t have to touch our luggage as it was whisked off to be placed in our room before us. Check-in was very efficient and before we knew it we were in our beach bungalow about 10 steps from the water’s edge, surrounded with the iconic palm trees and hammocks. The beach bungalows are just as you would imagine with private sun deck, and semi open air bathroom with outdoor shower. We had TV, phone, in room safe, tea/coffee facilities. The restaurant is semi open with a large thatched room and the food was very well presented and offered a great choice. It is a most relaxing feeling to dine with the sand under your feet in a calm serene environment. The bars offer a great selection of local and international drinks and provide some light entertainment too. We had to added bonus of partaking in night fishing which was not something I thought I would enjoy but I actually did. Quite interesting to see the techniques they use to catch the fish and I actually was lucky to catch one myself. The Maldives are notorious for diving and snorkelling so if you have any interest in this sports this is the place for you. Their reefs are kept in great condition and very well protected. I had the advantage to visit the Island of Medufushi which I just loved, and we also got to stay on the Island of Kuramathi with a side trip to the smallest island of Kandoludu. They are all quite different in their own right but all absolutely stunning. A good trip to take is to one of the habited Islands to explore how the locals live, work and the children play so freely on the beach after school. Their lifestyles are so simple but they are so very happy and it really touched me to see it. Especially when you come from the luxury of the Islands. I will without a doubt be returning to the Maldives in the future, it is a pure Robinson Crusoe experience but with luxury and the most amazing people you could every meet in the world. I recommend the Maldives for honeymoons, couples, and special occasions and especially diving enthusiasts.
02 March 2015
A work trip to Disneyland Paris was most welcomed and I was delighted to return back to see what changes had occurred. We flew into Charles De Gaulle airport and our transfer to the resort took literally 25 minutes and dropped us directly at the door of the hotel. We stayed at the Disney New York Hotel located directly beside the Disney Village. The hotel is quite large and is completely kitted out with all New York artifacts so you instantly feel like you are on Broadway. The hotel has a bar and 2 restaurants. It is furnished with a fabulous pool, sauna and steam room. There is tennis courts on site also. They also have a children’s play area and a video room too. The rooms are very spacious with 2 double beds, TV, mini-bar with an extra charge. Large bathroom with bath and shower. There is the option to upgrade your room to a lake view, club suite or the presidential suite. They even have a honeymoon suite available. We were able to visit and inspect all the different Disney Hotels, so I am able to offer advice and suggestions on all of them including the Disneyland Hotel. I noticed big changes from my previous visit so Disney are constantly working on updating the resort and making every visit that bit more special. The parks are superbly laid out and the atmosphere is tremendous. The children are so excited and it would bring every adult back to their childhood! The characters are available to take pictures with at certain times of the day and the parades are not to be missed. It is a wonderful opportunity for the children to see all the characters at the same time. We were very lucky to be able to watch the award winning Disney Dreams show and it was awe inspiring and would bring a tear to any eye. The parks are broken into Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios, so if you go for a 3 or 4 night stay you will have plenty of time to get round them. Most of the rides offer a fast pass facility where you select a ticket with an allocated time and once you return at that time slot you can skip the long queues. There are 31 restaurants in the Disneyland Park and 9 in the Walt Disney Studios so you certainly won’t go hungry and they range from snacks to buffet to table service. Each hotel has at least 1 restaurant. It is a great option even for a special occasion such as birthdays, anniversaries or even your honeymoon! Shopping is plentiful too with so many different souvenirs, costumes, toys, clothes the list in really endless. You can take a day trip to Paris from the train station located at the park and the journey is only 40 minutes or you can book an excursion by coach also. For the adults there is plenty of bars to keep you going in to the early hours if you wish. To sum up Disneyland Paris, it is a wonderful trip to take with the children and will provide them with the most wonderful memories for life. There is something for every budget and always great offers to be had. On a last note I do have to say that Disneyland Paris is not just for children in fact adults will enjoy it just as much if not even more!
02 March 2015
We had the pleasure of taking a Royal Caribbean Cruise on Navigator Of The Seas which is part of the Voyager Class of ship. What a fantastic experience. Our particular cruise departed from Rome Civitavecchia Port which is approx. 50 minutes of a drive from Rome City but longer from Rome Da Vinci Airport. We chose to stay 1 night in Rome pre cruise, but honestly we should have booked a minimum of 2 to fully appreciate and explore the city. But sure it’s a good excuse return to the chanting city of Rome! We decided on the Greek/Turkey Cruise as these places are close to heart. We opted to go for a balcony stateroom as it was a special occasion. Being honest I would book the balcony cabin again as it is fantastic when you are coming in to port and also for those lazy days at sea when you can sit out and read a book sipping on a nice cold glass of wine. Yes the cabins are not overly spacious but they we very well equipped with all you need and require. Ample wardrobe, storage space with a seating area and large comfortable beds. A completely acceptable bathroom with separate shower and washbasin. Over the years with new ships being launched, it is clear that the furnishings and décor are more modern and up to date. But we didn’t complain or find any fault with Navigator as this was our first cruise, so we didn’t have anything to compare it to. There was a very good selection of bars and restaurants to choose from. We particularly took to the Champagne Bar just off Main Street for our pre-dinner drink each evening. They provide you with the options of everything from an Irish Bar to Vintage Wine Bar. The night club is open every night bar one, if you fancy taking to the floor. Restaurants range from the formal main dining room, to the informal buffet at the Windjammer Café. You can choose to dine at the specialty restaurants also, which carry a very small supplement but well worth it. Johnny Rockets is also available at a small supplement and will fill you for the day. The Café Promenade is perfect for a cuppa or a coffee and snack. Every meal we had on board was delicious and offered such a variety of cuisine. You can avail of 24 hour room service if prefer some R ‘n’ R in your stateroom. There is varied entertainment every night in the form of shows in the main theatre or live music in one of the many bars. On board there is an ice skating rink for your own use and also for professional shows. We had the famous rock climbing wall, pitch N putt, walking Track, basketball court and teenagers zone. Full Gym and Spa available plus 2 pools to choose from, the larger family area with pool side entertainment or the smaller more relaxed adults pool and solarium. A complete casino if you are in the mood for a gamble or just a bit of fun. Main Street shopping hosts a number of shops from Duty Free, to Jewelry, to clothes and souvenirs Last but not least there is a small Chapel. Our overall experience of cruising was fantastic and we will definitely board another cruise in the not too distant future. I felt that it had the perfect combination for a holiday. If you want to relax by the pool, in the spa or on your balcony, or feel more energetic by going to the Gym or walking/running the track, or taking one of the many tours to the sights at each port the option is yours. Whatever you do make sure cruising is on your to do list. If you would like to ask me anything about my cruise experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
02 March 2015
If you are looking for a bit of luxury at an affordable price and a reasonable flight time, I personally highly recommend the Gloria Palace Royal as an excellent choice. Flight time to Las Palmas is just over 4 hours and transfer time to this resort is roughly 40 minutes. The hotel is perched on a cliff overlooking the fabulous man made beach of Amadores. This hotel is considered as a 4*+ rating and it certainly deserves it in my opinion. All the rooms are very spacious inside with every amenity you would need including air-conditioning, TV, piped music, safe hire, internet connection, desk and a mini-bar service for an additional charge. The balconies are very private, quite large and furnished and the sea view is unrivalled. The bathrooms are complete with bath/shower and twin basin. The facilities of the hotel are fantastic if you don’t want to venture too far. There are 2 pools one of which has a children’s section and play area and the 2nd is on an upper floor and we found it to be more suitable for couples as it was more relaxed. Both pools offer free sunbeds and umbrellas. Beside the main pool is their Royal Spa and Wellness which offers a thalasso pool, sauna, steam room and whirlpool. Very enjoyable and most relaxing area. Other facilities on offer include a gym, pool tables, table tennis and darts. There is entertainment provided each night and also during the day at the main pool. The restaurant is quite big and offers wonderful views in the morning and the evening and they provide breakfast, lunch and evening meal depending on your board basis. There is something available to even the most fussy eaters, you will not be disappointed with the food. The reception area is very relaxed again with the stunning sea view and is a wonderful area if you want to get out of the sun and relax with a book or cup of coffee. Gloria Palace Royal is 10 minutes walking distance from the Amadores Beach and I can honestly say it is one of the nicest beaches I been on. Plenty of beds and a great selection of restaurants for lunch and for an evening meal. To reach the resort of Puerto Rico is literally 5 minutes by taxi. You can walk the promenade there and this takes about 25 minutes. The resort of Puerto Rico is a typical holiday resort with shops, bars and restaurants so for the night owl it is a good spot for a late drink. You should definitely take a trip down to Puerto Mogan which they have named as little Venice because of its canals and bridges. It is a more relaxed resort than Puerto Rico and offers fabulous restaurants and up market boutiques. I have recommended the Gloria Palace Royal to many people who have all been very pleased it and it attracts a lot of return visitors and is on my repeat list for sure. If you would like to get prices and dates for this hotel, please get in touch with me as I would be delighted to help.
02 March 2015
If there was one city that I could return to again and again it would have to be the elegant, sophisticated and cultural city of Paris. As soon as you land at Charles De Gaulle Airport you will instantly know that you are in Paris. The journey from the airport won’t take long before you become enthralled in the Parisian Architecture and start to notice the iconic features that you only ever saw in books and TV and the internet. Yes they are real. The Arc De Triomphe is even more impressive that you can imagine in your head, and you will become oblivious to the traffic, the constant sounding of car horns and the fighting for road space going round the monument because you will be amazed that you are standing under it. No words can describe the minute you set your eyes on the Eiffel Tower (Le Tour Eiffel). You will instantly feel like the smallest person in the world and wonder where the top actually ends. As you get closer the full scale and sheer size of the Tower becomes evident and you instantly know you just have to get to the top to inspect this unbelievable 360 degree view of Paris. But wait until night time when it is illuminated and sparkling, it is such a wondrous sight. You will walk for miles just to get the perfect uninterrupted picture. No trip to Paris is complete without a boat trip on the Seine, it really is a great way to get a good feel for where everything is in the city as it stops at different locations for different attractions such as The Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Le Musée D’Orsay, and Le Grand Palais. You can hop on and off at your own pleasure. I love to visit Montmartre when in Paris, not only is the Church a beautiful building, it is most peaceful and serene. Beside this is the Place du Tetre, where you will see all the up and coming artists and you will be able to have your own portrait done but do haggle with them on the price. The restaurants and coffee shops here are so delightful. I could spend a day here on its own. Make sure you prop yourself down outside a café on the Champs-Élysées and order a coffee, sit relax and people watch for an hour. It truly is one of those experiences you just have got to do in Paris. They don’t order coffee to go in Paris! Another favourite of mine is a trip to the Louvre, you could easily spend every visit to Paris in the Louvre, but what would be the point of that. With so many sections to the Gallery, keep one for each returning visit. And of course you have got to see the Mona Lisa, as the saying goes, “When in Rome” but we know this is Paris!! There is one thing for sure in Paris, you will not run out of things to see and do, a few of my favourites include the Arc de la Defence, The Musée de L’Armée, The Opera, La Madeleine, Íle de la Cité. The list is completely endless. One thing I do know is that you will have an amazing trip, Spring or Summer and each corner you turn will surprise you even more that the last. Try and get a few French words into your vocabulary before you go and you will sail through.
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