Monday, May 22, 2017

How to make the most of a short city stay

My husband and I are in Seattle, Washington for three days before we board our Alaska Cruise.

A few of my tips for making the most of a short stay in a new city:  

Use small group tours  to see a lot of highlights in a smaller amount of time: One of Seattle's famous attractions is the Pike's Place Market. It's massive. We could spend hours wandering the aisles. We decided to take a small group tour. The tour gives us access right before it opens. We sample treats from the highest rated booths. And, I may even get the chance to catch a fish. In 2 1/2 hours, we will sample more and see more of the market than we could have on our own.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A sneak peek to Pandora

This past weekend, I was able to get a sneak peek into the new Pandora land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  It’s based on the movie Avatar.

First, I must confess I watched the movie for the first time Friday night. This is a must do. The area is far more impressive if you have just seen the movie.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

Disney's Wilderness Lodge a deluxe resort close to Magic Kingdom with multi- bedroom villas, hotel rooms, and rooms with bunk beds.

The Wilderness Lodge property has three main parts: the Lodge, Boulder Ridge Villas and Copper Creek villas.  All of these areas have been under construction.
The Lodge -  Roaring Fork, one of the quick service restaurants, is closed. The pool bar is closed and fenced off. A wing of the Lodge is being “re-imagined” into villas for the Copper Creek Villas

Boulder Ridge Villas – The pool should be re-opening soon.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Disney Cruise Updates

Lots of great news about Disney Cruises.

There's still time to book a 2017  Sailing

Special offer  for Platinum and Gold Castaway Club Members

Platinum and Gold Castaway Club Clients can take advantage of an exclusive advance booking opportunity through May 15, 2017. And, as we recently announced, we've updated Castaway Club benefits so you can help your Clients make the most of exclusive opportunities when planning and booking their next cruise.

Booking Window: May 2 - 15, 2017Sailing: July 22, 2017 Disney Fantasy 7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

Save 20% on prevailing Verandah rates by booking a Verandah Stateroom with Restrictions, for sailing on Disney Fantasy July 22, 2017. Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses of approximately $123 per person not included.

Another great value is

Friday, May 12, 2017

Is concierge worth it?

While I was at the travel conference, I stayed in a Club Level room at the Loew’s Royal Pacific. It was a great example of how having concierge privileges can really add to your experience.

At Royal Pacific, the club level lounge includes a continental breakfast with several cereals, hard boiled eggs, fruit, and yogurt. Between noon – 3 pm, the lounge has snacks available. They also provide a happy hour with beer and wine, a salad, an entrée, and cheese and crackers from 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm. Desserts come out at 8:00 pm for an hour.

How does this improve your stay?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Your Comprehensive Guide to Excellence Playa Mujeres

Excellence Playa Mujeres is an adults only all-inclusive resort about 40 minutes north of the Cancun Airport. It's a great fit for couples and groups of friend who want a resort on a nice beach, great food, active and quiet areas, and great service.

Join me on an in-depth resort tour:

Here's what you need to know:

The property is mid size with 450 suites and layout in buildings that are about four stories high. It has an overall quiet vibe with the action happening near the main pool swim up bar.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Disney World Deluxe Resorts

Disney World resorts fall into four main categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas.  Today I'm going to focus on the deluxe resorts.
What's sets the deluxe resorts apart?
The biggest benefits of staying at a deluxe resort are:
  • You'll be closer to at least one of the Parks.
  • You'll have more choice in type of rooms 2 queen beds, king beds, bunk beds, trundle beds, and suites.
  • You'll have access to more amenities: more dining options, fitness rooms, etc.
The resorts closest to the Magic Kingdom are the Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian Village, and the Grand Floridian. All the resorts are on the Monorail line which connects to Magic Kingdom and Epcot, except for Wilderness Lodge. Wilderness Lodge guests connect to the Magic Kingdom by boat.

My favorite deluxe resort is the Contemporary because a walkway connects the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary resort. I like being able to exit the Magic Kingdom and know I'll be back at the resort in 12 - 15 minutes without waiting in another line.

Contemporary Resort

The resorts closest to Epcot and Hollywood Studios are Boardwalk Inn, Yacht Club and Beach Club. From these resorts, you can take a boat or walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Beach Club is very popular because of its pool with a pirate ship slide and zero entry section.
Beach Club
Animal Kingdom Lodge is the deluxe resort close to the Animal Kingdom. I often say it's like staying in a zoo. It's my pick for trips when we plan to spend more time at the resort than in the Parks.
Animal Kingdom Lodge  
Which resort would you pick?

New Pixar Live Show and Dining Packages

For a limited time, beginning on May 26, 2017 and running through August 27, 2017  Disney has an all new nightly Musical Show, called Music of Pixar Live! The show celebrates 20 years of Pixar movies at the Theater of the Stars in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is the theater that also houses the Beauty and the Beast show.

Enjoy a selection of unforgettable soundtrack favorites from Cars, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story and UP—all performed by a live orchestra. As the symphony plays, giant screens will feature a movie montage, outtakes and interview excerpts with the people behind Pixar’s captivating music.

Disney will be offering 2 different dining packages with reserved seating at the show. One package is just for Music of Pixar Live! and the other package includes both Music of Pixar Live! and Fantasmic!

Fantasmic! on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios features fireworks, characters, water effects, pyrotechnics, music, and audio-animatronics. The show centers on a voyage through Mickey Mouse's imagination that culminates in a battle against the Disney Villains.

Package Price for just Music of Pixar Live! with Reserved Show Seating at the following Participating Restaurants:

           Hollywood & Vine
Breakfast – $39 per adult and $25 per child
Lunch – $52 per adult and $32 per child
Dinner – $57 per adult and $35 per child
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
Lunch & Dinner – $45 per adult and $18 per child

The Hollywood Brown Derby
Lunch & Dinner – $65 per adult and $22 per child

Package Price for Both Shows with Reserved Show Seating at the following Participating Restaurants:

           Hollywood & Vine
Breakfast – $44 per adult and $28 per child
Lunch – $57 per adult and $35 per child
Dinner – $62 per adult and $38 per child

Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
Lunch & Dinner – $50 per adult and $21 per child

The Hollywood Brown Derby
Lunch & Dinner – $70 per adult and $25 per child

**Some dining plans are accepted—with one table-service entitlement required at Hollywood & Vine and Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, and two required at The Hollywood Brown Derby. For reservations for just Pixar Live!, please book online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463. For reservations for both shows you must call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463.

**Each dining package includes an appetizer, entrée and dessert—or one full buffet, where applicable—along with a non-alcoholic beverage and one guaranteed seat for The Music of Pixar Live! held on the same day.

**If you are dining before the shows, you will receive vouchers for reserved seating at the restaurant. If you are dining after the concert you can pick up seating vouchers at the Theater of the Stars. Guests must dine no later than two-and-a-half hours prior to or one-hour-and-15 minutes after available showtimes for The Music of Pixar Live!, and at least two-and-a-half hours prior to Fantasmic!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Must See: The Ruins of Eastern Mexico

Millions of people visit Cancun and Riviera Maya each year without even leaving their resort.

One of the must-see experiences in this area of the world is vising the Mayan ruins.

The major ruins near Cancun are Chichen-Itza, Tulum and Coba.

These are the largest, most extensive set of ruins as Chichen-Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities in the 10th century. At the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (around March 20 and September 22), the morning and afternoon sun produces a light-and-shadow illusion of the serpent ascending or descending the side of El Castillo’s staircase.  It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive one way from the Cancun Hotel Zone. 

These are compact set of ruins on the coast directly south of Cancun. These are about an hour and 45 minute drive from Cancun Hotel Zone. The structures are well excavated. You can bring your swimsuits and enjoy the beach. 

These ruins are located inland. It's about a 2 hour and 22 minute drive from the Cancun Hotel Zone. The big attraction to these ruins is that they are less crowded and you can climb the temple. They are about 45 minutes from Tulum so they make sense as a detour.

There's another smaller set near downtown Cancun: El Rey Ruins. This is a very small set of ruins located very close to the Hotel Zone.

I recommend booking a private transfer versus a larger tour so that you can be there right as the sites open. We were one of only 10 people at Tulum when we arrived right as it opened.