Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shelly's Trip to Hawaii

You know you've reached paradise when you step off your plane to warm breezes, friendly faces and the spirit of Aloha all around.  The Islands of Hawai'i are truly an American treasure. From the lush feel of Kaua'i with magical waterfalls and the vibrant spirit of Oahu, the fun of Maui, and the Volcanoes on the Big Island, the Islands of Hawai'i are truly a magical destination!  If you want to hang out in a hammock or zip line through and old sugar plantation it's all there for you. Some of the best dining in the United States is available from farm fresh pineapples to premier seafood the Islands of Hawai'i have something to please every palate. Best of all no passport is needed!  

Ahhhh The Kahala where the spirit of Aloha welcomes you to it's open air lobby near enough to Waikiki for fun but far enough for a fabulous serene beach area. The Kahala is host to both celebrities and families and their award winning dining gives you a taste of Hawaii. Stingrays, turtle and dolphins are also located on site as part of Dolphin Quest. Comfy beds, tasteful amenities and outstanding staff makes the Kahala the place to be for relaxation on Oahu. Mahalo!

                                                                   The Kahala Lobby

The Waikiki Edition
Urban chic right in the heart of Waikiki - this fabulous property was one of Shelly's favorites!

                                                       Sitting Area at Waikiki Edition

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mardy's Trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!!!!

Just back from a short trip to Puerto Vallarta and all I can say is WOW!
Located in Banderas Bay this destination has the authentic soul of Mexico, warm people proud of their country, and some incredible Mexican and international cuisine.
This wonderful beach resort blends beautiful scenery, an array of outdoor activities and shopping, and still retains the charm of a small fishing village.
Puerto Vallarta is definitely family friendly and has a host of activities that will please adults and children alike. So if you're looking for a week long vacation or just a long weekend, this might be just what the doctor ordered.

Mardy Murray

                                         Yelapa, Mexico

                                         Beach in Puerto Vallarta

                                          Room view from Riu Palace Pacifico                                     

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bargain Beach Getaways

Are you so desperate for a warm and sunny escape—and so convinced it’s beyond your means—that you’ve settled for tanning-salon sessions and homemade piña coladas?
Really, now: Jetting off to a sandy slice of heaven doesn’t have to send you to the poorhouse. There are plenty of budget-minded locales that are light on your wallet, but still heavy on balmy temperatures, swaying palm trees and beautiful beaches.

Culebra, Puerto Rico
Located off the eastern shores of the main island, sleepy Culebra is rich with uncrowded playas edging calm and cerulean waters--plus a small clutch of basic but bright hotels, like Mamacita's, averaging $100 nightly.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Stretch your dollar in this laid-back Cancún respite, offering diving, snorkeling, shopping and primo sunset- cocktail spots--not to mention inns from charming to chic, like Hotel Cielo or Kinbé Hotel, for $55 to $150 a night.

St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida
This unfussy chain of barrier islands along the Sunshine State's west coast really has it all: a variety of wide beaches, cheap seafood-shack meals, a slew of affordable ($65 a night and up) places to stay and a fun nightlife scene.

Grand Bahama, Bahamas
Sugary sand, a relaxed vibe and cheap Bahamian eateries abound in Freeport and Lucaya, where hotels include the Island Seas Resort (from $100 nightly) to the more upscale Radisson Our Lucaya (from $165).


Pink sands, pampering resorts, scenic golf courses and incredible snorkeling are all good reasons to head here- four-night, all-inclusive deals from $699 per person, with options including Grotto Bay Beach Resort and Coco Reef Bermuda.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shanes trip to the Sandals Royal Bahamian

It was perfect timing to take another great trip to the Sandals Royal Bahamian! This was our third time down since 2005 and I noticed some major changes and renovations! First off, I was booked in the Royal Oceanfront One Bedroom Suite with Butler service. With this room, you have private Mercedes transfers a massive room and a butler on call 24 hours a day for your every whim. The butler greets you in the lobby and takes you straight to your room. They already have your dinner reservations set up for you and most importantly reserve your private hut on their private island DAILY upon request. The butler gives you a cell phone where you can call them from any location on the resort at any time! Very good service in that respect.
The main changes to this resort in the last couple of years is the upgrades to the beach, rooms and Royal Village landscaping. They have brought in sand to create 2 extra pristine white beaches, one on Sandals Cay and one on their location at Cable beach. The rooms have all been renovated and look amazing! The Royal Village gardens are just amazing with rose covered trellises and walking trails.

Food quality at this resort is always great! Room service is prompt and is served good and hot. The best places to eat are Gordon's on the Pier, Baccarat and Casanovas.

If your looking for things to do, this is the place! You can tour the Atlantis and go to their water park, go snorkeling on the boat excursion offered by Sandals, Scuba dive, Swim with the Sea Lions and Dolphins, take a boat trip to the Exumas, etc... This is important for me, because I love to keep busy on vacation...Go figure :)
All in all the Sandals Royal Bahamian is an amazing resort, full of good food, good service and most importantly a private island that could rival anything in the Caribbean!

Great Hidden Island Secrets, Now YOU Know

Hollywood scouts were on to something when they skipped over Mykonos and chose a secret island in Greece as the location for Mamma Mia. The movie was a $600-million hit, in part because it fueled peoples’ fantasies of escaping to a secluded island (and yes, those catchy ABBA tunes didn’t hurt). Surprisingly, that picture-perfect movie location, Skopelos, has stayed under the radar. When you hop off the ferry, you’ll be wowed by the view of the shimmering Aegean Sea, the island’s tile-roofed tavernas, and a decided lack of travelers.

There are still gems like Skopelos hidden all around the globe, if you know where to look. We have done the hunting for you to uncover secret islands where you can truly unwind.

Greece: Skopelos
A one-hour ferry ride from Skiathos, the island of Skopelos is so picture-perfect (hidden coves; blue-roofed tavernas; hundreds of Byzantine-era churches) that Hollywood chose its Kastani Beach as a set for Mamma Mia. At the just-renovated Adrina Beach Hotel the 49 pastel-colored rooms face the pine-tree-studded coastline, strewn with daybeds.

Caye Caulker, Belize
There’s nary a traffic light on this laid-back island—a five-mile strip of land that’s a 15-minute flight from Belize’s main airport. Head to Shark Ray Alley to snorkel among nurse sharks and stingrays or go scuba diving at the underwater caves of Blue Hole. Aboveground, try the curried lobster at the roadside Jolly Roger’s Grill. On the eastern side of the Caye, Seaside Cabanas has 10 rooms and six colorful cabins, each with its own roof terrace for taking in those amazing Caribbean views.

Sampson Cay, Bahamas
Partially protected from commercial activity since 1959, the Exuma Cays are normally the domain of cruisers—and a few privileged landowners such as Johnny Depp. But guests at Sampson Cay have access to the area’s thriving patch reefs and isolated islets. At the Sampson Cay Club, the five modest villas include wide patios that are perfect for watching the sunset. While the limestone karst terrain may be rugged, every path ends on a stretch of secluded white sand.

Flatey, Iceland
Don’t expect to see much night sky here: in summer, daylight shines for up to 21 hours on this rocky one-mile hideaway in Breiðafjörður Bay. Lush meadows and multicolored timber houses dot the scenery, and the mainland’s Snæfellsjökull volcano is always within eyeshot. In town, Flatey stays true to simple Scandinavian design (blond-wood furniture; whitewashed walls), and the downstairs restaurant turns into a live-concert venue for local talent at night.

Gozo, Malta
This tiny Mediterranean island is where Odysseus was “held captive” by Calypso after the Trojan War. Take one look at the landscape, and it’s no wonder he stayed seven years. Rolling hills, crumbling castle walls, and a Bronze Age fortress are some of the most endearing features. Check in to Hotel Ta’ Cenc & Spa, with 85 stone bungalows overlooking the sea. From there, it’s a short drive to Dwejra Bay, where you can take a dip, then munch on pastizzi (ricotta-filled pastries) at Tapie’s Bar (St. Francis Square; lunch for two $20).

Andaman Islands, India
These 550 atolls in the Bay of Bengal have all the prerequisites for an idyllic getaway—with an added dose of culture. You can still see a few ancient indigenous tribes. The island of Havelock, a two-hour ferry ride from Port Blair, is arguably the most appealing, thanks to its bone-white beaches. Book a sea-facing villa at the new SilverSand Beach Resort and ask the staff to take you on a trek to the Kala Pather forest.

Rodrigues, Mauritius
Locked in a shallow lagoon, this fish-shaped island has served as a paparazzi-free bolt-hole for Prince William in years past. With its verdant valleys and numerous islets, it’s a haven for hikers and kite-surfers, too. Stay at the beachfront Mourouk Ebony Hotel, with 34 Creole-style rooms. For freshly caught seafood, don’t miss Coralie la Diffe’rence, dinner for two $40).

Great Barrier Island, New Zealand
At 104 square miles, “The Barrier” is the largest island off the Kiwi coast, but it’s also the most untouched. Spend your days hiking through dense kauri woods or exploring jagged inlets. Then refuel over mussel fritters at Tipi & Bobs The four modern rooms at the glass-walled Oruawharo Beach House are designed by New Zealand architecture firm Fearon Hay and have spectacular views of Oruawharo Bay.

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
Searching for the Bali of, say, 1970? Head to Gili Trawangan, a tiny island near Lombok dotted with countless waterside cafés. No motorized traffic is allowed here—the best way to get around is to rent a bicycle or use your own two feet. The daily agenda involves nothing more than fishing, diving, or kicking back with a cold beer at Scallywag. On the southern coast, Vila Ombak has 115 airy oceanfront rooms.

Mabul, Malaysia
Diving enthusiasts flock to Mabul, off the northeastern coast of Malaysia, where the exotic marine life is on a par with the Galápagos—native sea moths, bobtail squids, and the elusive paintpot cuttlefish are just a few of the inhabitants. At Sipadan Water Village Resort the 45 stilted bungalows are cooled by constant sea breezes.