Wednesday, October 30, 2013

International Deals

Explore the world on one of these great tours: 

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

$1499* 13 Day Escorted Tour of Turkey Including Flights
Explore Istanbul, the famed city of Troy, breathtaking Cappadocia & more

$1699* 13 Day Kaleidoscope of Morocco Including Flights
Rabat, Fez, Erfoud, Ouarzazate, Marrakesh & Casablanca

$2499* 15 Day Tour of China with Chengdu, 3 Day Yangtze River Cruise & Air
The Great Wall, Xian's Terracotta Army, Chengdu Panda Research Center, Shanghai and more

$699 6 Day South Florida Escorted Tour with Key West
Highlighting Miami, Everglades National Park & Islamorada

$2399* 10 Day 3 Country Tour (Germany, Switzerland & Austria) with Air
Mainz, Heidelberg, Lucerne, Innsbruck, Salzburg & Munich all in one amazing tour

$2799* 7 Day Galapagos Islands & Ecuador Tour with Airfare
Guayaquil & Quito plus Galapagos Islands of Santa Cruz, Seymour & Plaza

$2399* 9 Day Iceland Adventure Including Airfare
Escorted tour offering breathtaking landscapes & unique culture. May - Sep departures

$1149* 8 Day Venice, Florence & Rome Including Airfare & Rail Tickets
Two nights each in three of Italy's most captivating cities

$2199* 12 Day Tour of Albania, Montenegro, Croatia & Slovenia with Flights
Discover the Adriatic gems of Tirana, Kolasin, Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice Lakes & Bled

$1999* 10 Day Tour of Britain (England & Scotland) Including Airfare
Experience London, Stonehenge, Bath, Bristol, Liverpool, Edinburgh & York

$2499 14 Nights: 7 Day Tour of Italy w/ 7 Night Western Med Cruise
Venice, Florence & Rome plus Livorno, Cannes (France), Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona & Naples

$4299* Small Group Tour: 12 Day Illustrious France Including Air
Two nights each in Toulouse, Sarlat (Dordogne Valley), Loire Valley, Normandy & Paris

Also - Last Call:  The 2014 Early Booking Discount 2-FOR-1 cruise plus up to 2-FOR-1 air on Viking River Cruise Lines ends this Thursday October 31st.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Las Vegas Review: The Flamingo

Katie and her husband wanted a fun getaway to Las Vegas. We picked the Flamingo because its great location and great value. I made sure they got one of the newly renovated rooms.  

Go Deluxe Room at Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel

Here's her review: 

We had a great trip!  The Flamingo was perfect.  We had no problems with construction and our room was nice.  Nothing too fancy, but that's not what we were wanting anyways.  It was very clean and updated.  The construction is on the south side of the hotel so I can imagine people staying on that side of the hotel would have a problem with construction noise.  Since our room was on the inside facing the pool we had no problem with anything.  It was the perfect place to stay for where we are at this point in our lives.  We did mention to each other that as we get older, have more money, and come back more (which we are absolutely going to do) we would want to stay somewhere a little more modern and with more food/shopping options/nicer casinos, but we aren't to that point yet.  So it was perfect for anyone in our age range or people that don't want to spend an absolute fortune.  I had no idea how expensive Vegas could be!  The pool is a lot of fun at the Flamingo, too.  One problem was that people can be so rude and they go claim lounge chairs right at 9:00, but don't come to the pool until 2:00.  It made it tough to find a seat but it ended up fine for us since we got there early. 

The location was perfect as well.  Right in the middle and a 10 minute walk to anything.

As far as gambling goes we spent most of our time in the Quad.  Since I had never gambled before I didn't want to annoy people at tables by not knowing what to do or sit at $25 min. bet tables only to lose all my money in 5 minutes.  The Quad had perfect $5 tables and we were frequently served.  It was a nice atmosphere too.  We had the best breakfast ever at a place called Mon Ami Gabi.  It's a French restaurant outside of Paris that has a nice heated patio and great food/service.  I would recommend it to anyone!  It also serves lunch and dinner.  Very well priced.  We were mad we didn't try it until our last day because they had a great bloody mary bar too!  

We went to Table 10 in the Palazzo for dinner on Friday.  Great dinner as far as food goes, but we were treated horribly!  We attribute it to the young diners stereotype that people put on us.  But the food was fantastic!  I just wouldn't recommend it as a place for a couple our age to go.  If you are going to be spending $30+ on a entree you want the experience to go with it.

Very long review, I sometimes get carried away!  We had such a great time and are already talking about going back soon.  We will be sure to get in touch with you when we are ready.  I'm so happy my mom sent me your information, you make traveling so much easier and painless!  We were very pleased that the Flamingo was exactly what we were expecting based on what you had told us.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Trip Review: Secrets Aura Cozumel

Susan contacted me to plan a romantic getaway for her and her husband. We were able to find a great deal at luxury-included Secrets Aura Cozumel. 
Pier at Secrets Aura Cozumel 

About a month before departure, were notified that the hotel had planned construction during her visit. Because she had purchased the insurance, she had the option to switch hotels. In the end, she decided to stay at Secrets. Here's her review: 

We had a great time. The construction was kind of a bummer. But we knew about it obviously so I packed ear plugs (which I only busted out once to sleep in one morning. The other days it didn't bother us.) and when sitting on the beach, the waves and music made it so you couldn't hear it. The main reason it was a bummer is because the building that is the priority club usually (at least I'm pretty sure) was closed since it was closest to the construction. So, while we were totally happy with our room (comfy king bed, sitting area, balcony with ocean view), I do wonder what the other ones were like, you know? But in all, not a huge deal. We loved the priority club lounge and that bartender was our favorite. We talked with him a lot since sometimes we were the only people in there! And I do think our priority club got us better booze. A couple times we were asked to show our room keys (they were black- fancy haa haa) when ordering at other bars and I think that was so we could get better brands even at the non-priority bars. (I feel like I sound like an alcoholic... sorry) 

We did a snorkel excursion to 3 reefs one day and it was awesome so thanks for recommending Cozumel for that!. Another day we rented a jet ski from a place down the beach and the hotel called them, booked our time and had them drop off the jet ski so we didn't even have to walk down there. (Which we totally would have done with no problem but it was nice nonetheless.) 

Other than those things we just did nothing. Which was fantastically great. We sat on the beach and read books, floated in the pool, looked at fish in the water. One rainy day we watched some Orange is the New Black on Netflix streaming using the hotel wi-fi and the ipad. It came through just fine.

Had we been there a full week, we probably would have done another excursion. There was one that was a full day that included snorkeling, a city tour, trip to the eco park, and a tequila factory with lunch but since we only had 3 "real" days we didn't want to be gone for a whole day. But if anyone else is going, it sounded cool. 

The pool was great. There were 3 of them but we really spent the most time at the one that was on the beach. The beach chairs had pillow top thingies on them so super comfy. Service at the pool/beach was slow but no big deal, I mean the bar was all of 20 feet away so we just popped up and got our own drinks sometimes. Staff was very friendly. 

Food was lovely. Since it was low season not all of the restaurants were opened every day but that was OK with us as the daily activities sheet said which ones would be so you could certainly plan ahead and we still got to go to all of them. 

Since it was low season it was pretty empty. This was awesome sometimes -- always getting a towel/good beach chair, getting the best tables/views at the restaurants, etc but other times it was sort of weird-- not a lot going on at night. For example, we went up to the sky bar our last night (it hadn't been open until Saturday night but the other bar/lounge is where things had been going on) ANYWAY, we went up there to check it out and it was just us and the bartender. I felt bad for him. I mean, in the other areas there was music/tvs or something but this dude was in the middle of this huge bar area with nothing to do but stand there. It was a great space but when you're the only 2 people, it feels sort of bizarre. 

Transfers to/from the airport were no problem. Glad for the reminder of going through the doors to outside before looking for your Apple dude though. Those people are CRAZY. :) 

Oh, resort credits-- they were really coupons. For instance, you could use up to $60 or something at the spa or use up to a certain amount for dinner on the pier or get $10 off bottles of wine but we didn't even end up using any of them... Maybe this is normal and I just didn't know but whatevs. No big deal to me. 

Flights were good. A little stressful with that connection on the way out (The reason they were a little late was because they had to go back to the gate because THEY FORGOT TO PUT THE LUGGAGE ON THE PLANE! Ha. looks like I'm not the only one who cannot fully function at 5 a.m.) However, our connecting flight was literally at the gate next door once we landed. On the way home the connection time was perfect since getting through immigration/customs took a looooooong time. 

So in all it was great. I would for sure return but maybe with other friends or during a slightly busier time so there'd be more to enjoy nightlifewise. But for days of relaxing away from the kids (ours and everyone elses! ;)) it was just what the doctor ordered.

I love planning all-inclusive vacations. Click here to request my Top 10 Considerations when choosing an all-inclusive resort for free.  

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Dream Trip Alert: Explore Southern Africa

Dream Trip Alert - 

16 Days exploring Southern Africa - Cape Town, Kruger National Park, Swaziland, Victoria Falls, and Blyde River Canyon.

Escorted Package Includes

Flights NYC-Cape Town, Johannesburg-NYC
Airline taxes & fuel surcharges
Intra-flights Cape Town-Durban, Johannesburg-Victoria Falls & Victoria Falls-Johannesburg
14 nights Deluxe & First Class accommodations
4 nights Cape Town
1 night Hluhluwe
1 night Swaziland
2 nights Hazyview
2 nights Johannesburg
2 nights Victoria Falls
2 nights Botswana
Hotel porterage
All transfers
23 meals: 14 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners
Sightseeing per itinerary in modern air-conditioned motor coach
Services of English-speaking tour manager throughout
Entrance fees per itinerary

Special Features

Cape Town City & Table Mountain Tour
Cape Peninsula Tour
Game Viewing Cruise in Zululand
Game drive through Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve
Game drive through Kruger Park
Soweto Tour
Victoria Falls Tour
Sunset Cruise on the Zambezi River
Game drive through Chobe National Park

Sunset Cruise on the Chobe River

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dream Trip Alert: Canary Islands

Dream Trip Alert - Doesn't this trip look amazing? 

2 Nights in Barcelona and then a 9 day cruise to the Canary Islands. It's $799 per person not including airfare.

The package includes: 
Round trip flights NYC-Barcelona
Other departure cities available. Click on date of departure for selection and prices
Airline taxes & fuel surcharges
11 nights First Class accommodations
2 nights Barcelona
9 nights Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Cruise Line®
Cruise porterage
Hotel to port transfer
28 meals: 11 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

All Inclusive Resorts - Do you need a dinner reservation?

One issue that comes up with all-inclusive resorts is the need to secure reservations for some of the sit-down restaurants. The process varies from resort to resort. Some resorts allow you to make your reservations for the whole week. Others require that you call or make reservations in person at a certain time each morning. A big trend in the higher-end resorts is to move to reservation-free restaurants.

What's your preference? Would you pay more to be able to walk up to the resort's sit down restaurant? Or is the slight hassle of making reservations not a big deal?