Honeymoon, Hot Springs and Hikes in Costa Rica

Honeymoon, Hot Springs and Hikes in Costa Rica

While honeymooning in Costa Rica, Matt and Jessica stayed at the beautiful Secrets Papagayo.  They drove through the countryside and enjoyed the stunning views. As an added adventure, they hiked through the rainforest which ended with a romantic swim underneath the waterfalls. The butterfly gardens were exceptional … a must see. Matt and Jessica also swam  in the natural hot springs which was absolutely amazing, an unforgettable experience!

Day trips from Auckland New Zealand when stopping over

In August 2015 I had a 2 day stopover in Auckland and I found many opportunities for day trips and excursions from the city of Auckland. If you find yourself with the chance to stop over, I highly recommend it. Even better plan an entire trip just to visit New Zealand.

Hobbiton

Experience the Lord of the Rings movie set to take in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Middle Earth. Hobbiton is a must see for travelers to New Zealand where they are given an opportunity to see the living movie set and immerse themselves in the wonders of the Trilogies.

Wonder the paths of the Shire, escape into a Hobbit hole and attempt to recreate your favorite scenes. The land Sir Peter Jackson loves so much comes to life as your guide shares details of moving making and famous movie sites.

They even have a banquet room on site and opportunities for dining after your tour.

I had never even seen the movies before experiencing Hobbiton but I still found the tour the be very interesting and a great introduction to the countryside of New Zealand. This is only a 2 hour drive from Auckland.

My time as a Hobbit

My time as a Hobbit.

Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are another must see when visiting New Zealand. The glowworms radiate luminescent light that illuminate the caves with historical and geographical interests.

Enjoy the tour by boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 120 years of cultural and natural history. While on the boat ride you cannot have any light and must stay extremely quiet or you will scare the light out of them. You are guided through the caves by a pulling system lead by a professional glowworm dude.

I wish I had more opportunity to explore here but it was pouring rain and the caves had flooded. It is very rare that this happens so I will plan it to go back because what I did see was worth every minute. This is only 2.5 hours from Auckland.

America’s Cup Sailing Adventure 

Enjoy the thrill of sailing on the America’s Cup sailing ships. With no sailing experience necessary, you can still be involved in all things sailing. It takes more than you think to get these ships race ready. As the wind hits the sails, the professional crew shares their experience with you while letting you feel the exhilaration and power of a sailing regatta.

Not only did I enjoy the race I also enjoyed seeing the contrast of natural landscapes and city skyscrapers that line the harbour from the best view in town. I was given the opportunity to steer, use the grinders to raise and trim the sails and try not to fall off the ship. Located in Waitemata Harbour in Auckland.

I specialize in travel to Australia and New Zealand. Use my insider knowledge and experience to help you plan your bucket list vacation.

Disney Dancing Queens

Disney Dancing Queens

The ASU Dancing Devils is a sports club at Arizona State University. Their club was started 15 years ago and they haven’t traveled outside of the valley (Phoenix/Tempe area). This was a huge step for their club to not only travel, but to travel across the United States to Florida.

“Tammy was a huge part in the success of this trip! We definitely couldn’t have done it without her. She worked with us on finding the best deals for both flights and hotels. Tammy made my life a lot easier by staying very organized, and being able to answer any questions I had!! We appreciate everything that she has done for our team in order for to travel to Disney World!!”

– Megan Bonesteel, President of the ASU Dancing Devils


Choosing the Right Destination

When you are planning a destination wedding choosing the right destination is the biggest decision in the whole planning process along with the budget. These two go hand-in-hand but cost should go to the top of the list. Figure out what you can realistically afford and don’t forget to factor in gratuities, dress alternations and the bridal emergency fix-it-kit.

  1. Take out a piece of paper and write down the top three requirements for your wedding experience. Have your partner do this as well and compare your lists. Do you want beach? Or would you prefer a grand ballroom? Is a formal dinner a priority or do you want to experience the local cuisine?
  2. Next outline your ideal destination. When you picture your wedding do you picture barefoot on the beach, an underwater ceremony or in a jungle locale? Much like couples, countries, islands, states and resorts have distinct personalities. Take into account travel time and accessibility for you as well as your guests. Also make sure you know the legal requirements for getting married in another country. Some may mandate waiting periods and on-site medical tests so these should be factored in to your budget.
  3. Choose a resort that speaks to your wedding vision as a couple. Send out e-mails to the wedding coordinators and ask basic questions. Find out if your date and wedding location are available. What is the cost of the wedding? Does the resort offer a free wedding package? What is the weather plan if your beach wedding gets rained out? Some resorts even offer a site inspection trip where you and your partner can visit the resort and see if it is the right fit.

Sandy toes and salty kisses, whatever destination you choose I can help you plan your perfect destination wedding.

Client Review of Grand Velas Vallarta (Riviera Nayarit)

 

I meant to email you earlier this week. It was FABULOUS! We loved it. The beach was amazing, the food was fantastic and the service was totally awesome. It will be hard for us to go anywhere else. It was a bit smaller which was a nice change. Grounds and rooms were very nice as well. Even the transportation was seamless this time! We loved the adjoining rooms as well – that worked out perfect. They had a really cool fire show one night and live music on other nights. Really hard to pick on anything. I can’t say enough about the food. Wow – for all inclusive, blew every other place away by far – Chateau briand, sea bass, steak – all fabulous. Poolside fajitas – amazing. Even the “non-reservation” restaurant changed it’s menu and options in the buffet. They had a bbq night one night which was really nice too. We can name at least 4-5 staff members by name who were exceptional but everyone was so friendly and helpful. Just awesome. We had a fabulous time. Thank you!!!

Sherri B.
Plymouth, MN

Get Your Honeymoon Right

If there’s one trip you *must* get right, it’s your Honeymoon. For fifty percent or so of us, this is the only one we’ll ever get. For the rest of us, well that’s another story. In all seriousness, it’s a pretty darn important trip.

What comes to mind when you envision your perfect honeymoon? Adventuring in New Zealand? Relaxing at a luxurious, couples-only beach resort? Sampling culinary delights throughout Europe? Although we all may picture our once-in-a-lifetime journeys differently, we can all agree that if not planned carefully, things can look very different than that romantic getaway playing in your head. Think lost hotel reservations, hours spent in car, waiting around wondering what to do next, or being confined to your hotel because it’s storming. Every. Day.

Long ago, before I entered the fabulous industry of travel, I was married in October. When selecting a honeymoon destination, my then husband and I both agreed that we wanted something exotic in the Caribbean. The BVIs? St. Lucia? We were both very busy with wedding planning so we contacted a Travel Agent. She informed us right away that we were traveling in the peak of hurricane season and advised that we go instead to Aruba, which is out of the hurricane belt. Her expertise saved us from a humid, wet, rainy honeymoon. Her recommendation was spot-on and we had a great time.

I guess the moral of this story is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Your honeymoon is such a special trip and most of us want every detail considered and an overall seamless experience! Take the stress and guess-work out of planning and contact a Travel Agent. We’re here to make sure every base is covered – from planning through post-trip follow-up.

My kind of honeymoon includes adventure!

Romance in Tahiti

Tahiti is simply one of the most romantic destinations on earth, who wouldn’t want to get married here? It was only a few years ago that laws changed in Tahiti and now weddings on these beautiful islands are now legally binding for Americans and Canadians.

A Tahitian ceremony has a Polynesian influence, which makes for an unforgettable ceremony. You can even have a Tahitian Priest perform your ceremony. Exchange your vows in the sugary white sands with beautiful tropical petals surrounding you amongst the palm trees. If you’d rather wear heals instead of flip flops or bare feet you may consider the over water glass-bottomed chapel, located in front of Mount Otemanu. 

Best yet, if you want to go on your honeymoon immediately following your nuptials French Polynesia has multiple islands you can visit. You can easily escape your guests and experience the beauty and romance of Tahiti. If you’re looking for adventure there are great experiences such as feeding rays & sharks, snorkeling with tropical fish in crystal clear waters unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! There are plenty of hiking trails, jet skiing or 4WD adventures. If you’re looking for romance, adventure and culture … Tahiti has it all!

I would love to help you plan the dream wedding for you!

Back Home Again … in Mexico

I have been sending Steve & Joanne to Mexico since 2009 and their last 12 trips have taken them to Be Tulum, a small beachside resort in Tulum.  This has become their home away from home and they go back several times each year.  Be Tulum provides a low-key atmosphere where they are treated as returning family.  The attention to service and detail has earned Be Tulum a place in their hearts forever.

 

OverWater Bungalow – Closer than you think!

I had the pleasure of seeing overwater bungalows in person is so much more awe-inspiring than in a picture. We visited Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma, and it was stunning. If this is on your bucket list, I highly recommend saving a little bit on airfare, by flying into Cancun, and staying in one of these amazing overwater bungalows at El Dorado Maroma.

Now is the time!!!


The bathrooms are beautiful, with the Jacuzzi soaking tub indoors and out on the balcony!


With the full seclusion here, you can relax and truly escape the crowds and enjoy each others company!


There is something about being able to see the water from the inside of your room.  Absolutely beautiful.  (yes, you can put the rug over the top to cover it up if you prefer.


Beds face the sliding glass doors so you can see outside at all times.
 

Everything about the bungalows makes you want to just kick your feet back and relax.

Upgrade to Business Class for your Mediterranean Cruise

Sure, you know you like cruising, and you know you want to go, but did you know with Silversea you can also include your airfare to Europe for special Mediterranean cruises for FREE? And now you can also upgrade to business class for only $499 each way! Think of the savings! Think of the luxury!

If you are planning a honeymoon, this would be a great way to see and do more!

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Mountains or Beach … Puerto Vallarta is the place to be!

13709979_1232022230150193_4714941814747452933_nI had the opportunity to join Funjet Vacations to experience Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.   This picturesque town located between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains is a popular travel destination. It offers beautiful beaches, cultural activities, water sports, and more. The Grand Fiesta Americana is a stunning property perched on the golden shores of the Pacific Ocean and just east are the tropical rainforests of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Located just six minutes from the Historic Downtown District.

At Grand Fiesta Americana you can enjoy 14 restaurants and bars with all types of cuisines, from Asian to your traditional Mexican meal.  If you are a seafood lover you must check out La Cevicheria. I highly recommend their ceviche …it  is out of this WORLD!

Their accommodations are top notch. You’re not lacking space, that’s for sure, and be sure to indulge the beautiful ocean views. You can also admire the simply breathtaking red sunsets from your balcony. There’s nothing better then enjoying a cocktail with an ocean breeze in Grand Fiesta Americana open air Mojito bar. Imagine listening to the crashing waves getting ready to start your day or the sound will slowly put you to sleep at night.

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Client review of Rome and Sorrento

We had a wonderful trip!! Thank you so much for all your help. You can’t imagine how nice it was to have everything we needed (itineraries, vouchers, etc.) organized and ready to go.

The Grand Paradiso Art was good but the room was tiny (you warned us about that and you were right). The balcony was super spacious and the view was incredible!

We looked at several of the hotels down on the water. While they were gorgeous, we were glad to be “up the hill” a bit. The hotel offered a shuttle service so it was only a 5 minute ride into town.

The Capri excursion was wonderful!! There were 4-5 other couples with us and we got plenty of time on our own to explore the island. Definitely two thumbs up!

The night tour in Rome was one of our favorites too. Jonathan was our tour guide and we really enjoyed him. In fact, we scheduled another tour the following night hoping to get him again.

We quickly got into the habit of sleeping late then heading into town and ended up skipping the pizza and gelato tour.

Thank goodness for the “skip the line” tickets at the Vatican! Holy cow…..the entry line was literally wrapped around the building. The only negative thing about this one was the crowd. The trip through Raphael’s Rooms and the Sistine Chapel was a bit overwhelming because of the crowd but I’m not sure how we could’ve avoided that.

All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime. Thanks again for working so hard to make it special for us! You will definitely be hearing from us again (hopefully soon!) as we look at future vacations.

Charlotte R. Maple Grove

 

Disney inspired trip ideas!!

Disney movies have always taught us that dreams really do come true!
Lucky for us, many of these movies are inspired by real places and experiences that you can have for yourself!!!  One might need to trade in their magic carpet for an airplane though!

Thank you to Jamie Ditaranto at Smart Traveler for these Disney inspired vacation ideas!

Here are some of the ultimate travel experiences to see the world just like your favorite Disney hero.

Sleeping Beauty — Discover the original Disney Castle
Of course there’s nothing more Disney than a fairytale castle, so if you want to see the real palaces that inspired every classic princess movie, you’ll have to go to Bavaria. Here you’ll find castles emerging from the mountainous landscape, but none as spectacular as Neuschwanstein.

As the castle that inspired the one in Sleeping Beauty, it’s the original Disney castle — though not quite as medieval as one would think. Built by King Ludwig II in 1869, the castle’s architecture is more akin to the romantic style of its time and its high position in the mountains was not for military advantage, but because King Ludwig knew a great view when he saw one.

Frozen — Explore the fjords in Norway
As one of the latest Disney movies to steal our hearts, Frozen has put a new travel destination at the top of our bucket lists — Norway!! Though Frozen‘s fictional kingdom of Arendelle takes its name from the Norwegian town of Arendal, the scenery in the movie is most similar to the city of Bergen located in the Western Fjords. Though it’s a great place to visit year-round, to have the true Frozen experience, it’s best to visit in winter to live in Elsa’s wonderland for yourself. You can see the northern lights or take a boat tour through any of Norway’s awe-inspiring fjords.

Brave — Ride horses in Scotland
There’s no debating that Brave is one of Pixar’s most visually masterful movies, but it wasn’t just Merida’s hair that had us mesmerized. Backdrops of Scotland’s green and stony forests stole the show, and when you visit Scotland you’ll find that the valley that inspired it is even more beautiful in real life. Glen Affric is a forest located in the Scottish highlands and is generally thought of as the most beautiful glen in Scotland — and the best (and most Brave) way to explore this enchanted forest is by horse.  Choose your own adventure with something as rigorous as a six-day trek across the valley … or maybe just a day trip.

If you want to see the other parts of Scotland that inspired the movie’s animators, visit Dunnotar Castle and the Calanais Standing Stones. And if you really want to test your feats of strength, plan to travel during the spring to make it in time for the Highland Games.

The Lion King — Safari in Africa
While you might be able to see the cast of The Lion King at your nearby zoo, there’s nothing like tearing down the glass walls and seeing the animals in their natural habitat. Going on safari in Africa doesn’t just mean getting up close to the animals that inspired the beloved characters of the movie, it also means taking in the vast savannahs and deep jungles shown in the movie. While the “Pride Lands” aren’t actually a place you can visit, they are inspired by different parts of Africa — if you look closely in the opening sequence you can see some of the continent’s natural wonders, like Mount Kilimanjaro and Victoria Falls.

It can be hard to choose where to go with so many stunning countries and diverse environments to choose from, but the beauty of The Lion King is that no matter where you go, it will feel like you’ve walked right into the scene. And if you get lucky, you might even encounter a special moment straight from the movie.

Princess and the Frog — Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Taste the beignets, get your fortune told, catch some beads and head down to New Orleans to experience this lively city and take part in the celebrations? Explore the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, and take sometime to relax and enjoy the city’s excellent cuisine.

Finding Nemo — Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
Though Nemo’s adventure takes him all the way to Sydney, the story begins at the Great Barrier Reef located off the coast of Queensland in Australia. It’s the largest coral reef in the world and one of the most beautiful. Book a snorkeling trip to Cairns and all you have to do to find Nemo is get into the water. Among the stunning shapes and colors of the coral you’ll find the wildly diverse marine life that inspired the characters in the movie.

Ratatouille — Take in the food of Paris
Who would have thought a movie starring a street rat would turn out to be Disney’s most mouth-watering story yet? As you follow Remy’s journey to become a great chef, the delicious meals cooked along the way will entice you to book a ticket to Paris. But don’t just taste Paris through a few select restaurants, take a food tour.  See the best of all Paris has to offer from the finest restaurants to the smallest cafes.

Mulan — Hike the Great Wall of China
While the Huns have long been defeated, you can still follow in Mulan’s footsteps with your own epic adventure in China. Instead of fighting the crowds at the most popular section of the wall, why not try hiking it? With tours like this one from G Adventures, you can spend six days trekking along the ancient structure and imagining what it would be like to be looking out on watch for an approaching Mongolian horde. This particular itinerary also includes a tour through Beijing’s Forbidden City and daily Tai Chi lessons to prep your legs for the hike.

Full article:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2016/06/09/disney-movie-destinations/85606710/