Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cruise of Caribbean

 We took a family vacation on the Carnival Cruise Line. We left out of Miami and the entire boarding process was simple and pain free! We had spent the money on the "Faster to Fun" passes and this made an incredible difference in time.
We left this weather behind!!
Fast boarding process

After a brief safety lesson from the ship's personnel,
we let the kids go out and explore the ship on their own. This ship was the Carnival Glory. All staff were very professional, knowledgeable and friendly. We had a suite on the 8th floor with a full balcony. It was an amazing size and having the balcony was really fun.
   It wasn't long before we set sail and we saw some great birds and cloud formations along the way.

 Our first stop was in Half Moon Cay. We arrived the morning after we set sail. This is also know as Little San Salvador in the Bahamas. This island was owned by Norwegian Cruise Line but is now owned by Holland America Cruise Line. We had the island to ourselves when we arrived. It was a beautiful island and the water was definitely some of the clearest I have ever seen!
 There were excursions and activities offered for the island, for additional fees. I had signed up for yoga on the beach. It was an experience I had never had. It was a small group of us and we brought towels and we walked down to the other end of the beach where there weren't many people at all. We did yoga right on the sand and under some trees for protection from the sun and heat. It was definitely one of the greatest yoga experiences I have ever had! I highly recommend trying this.

One of the other options we had was renting a cabana on the beach. There were a variety of options. We rented one of the larger cabanas and we were really very glad we did. It was a little pricey but as we were on the beach all day, it provided protection from the sun as well as a bathroom and full kitchen. There was also a hot tub on the first floor which was pretty cool. When we arrived they had delivered water, soda, and chips, guacamole and salsa. 

 Lunch was provided to everyone and it was really great.There was a very large covered area with picnic tables for a place to eat.
 At the end of a very fun filled day, we set sail again towards our next destination. There's nothing like enjoying the sunset from the balcony on the boat. It was a beautiful ride.

Monday, August 3, 2015

New York, the city that never sleeps!

Central Park

There is something very magical about New York City!  I remember on my first visit there I was just in sensory overload! It was as if I couldn't input all the things happening around me to process all that was going on! I also think it's a place that you either love or hate, there's no in between.
Central Park
 I think New York is a place you can visit at anytime of year and it's guaranteed to be great unless it's a really cold winter. If that happens to be the case, then make sure you wear the appropriate winter protection because it can be very cold. When you are doing a lot of walking around and the elements of winter are beating on you, you will feel like mother nature is your worse enemy!
Central Park
 The locals in NYC are very fortunate to have Central Park set right in the center of Manhattan. Central Park is set on approx 843 acres with such a wide variety of things to do. Many people don't realize there is a zoo, a castle, an ice skating rink, a public theatre, approx 36 bridges, playgrounds, and 6 miles of paths for walking, jogging, cycling, etc. I am sure I am missing much but these are just some great examples of what this wonderful park has to offer! There are many concerts in the park as well as local musicians playing at various locations.

It's a great place to get exercise, just wander
around or have your kids let off some energy! One word of caution: Beware of the pedi cabs! They are not always honest with their pricing!

Me at the JW Marriott
For this visit, we stayed at the JW Marriott Essex House. We requested a room overlooking the park. The room was absolutely perfect! We had an amazing view of the park and the room was very comfortable. It was our first time staying at this hotel and we would definitely stay there again.

911 Memorial
This is one of the two recessed reflecting pools. The pools represent the voids and absence of the twin towers.

911 Memorial

911 Memorial

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

911 Museum
 If you have the opportunity to visit the 911 Memorial and Museum it is well worth it. The museum is very overwhelming at certain points. It gets very emotional and some people do need to leave. There are "bail out" points that make it easy to leave. I had to do this myself because I found it to be too much and was just overcome with emotion and found it stirred feelings inside me I was surprised I could not hold back.

911 Museum
 For as emotional as this experience can be, I highly recommend putting this at the top of your list when visiting the Big Apple. Of course, there is Times Square which is amazing to experience at least once in your lifetime! Seeing a show on Broadway or even off Broadway! The talent in New York is just amazing! Speaking of talent, if you are ever looking for a really fun place to go; check out "Don't tell Mama". It is a piano bar, located at 343 W 46th St,, right in the Theatre District. There is a restaurant on the street level and the piano bar is downstairs. We have never really eaten dinner there but we have had appetizers that have always been great.
911 Museum
The place is very fun! We have always had a blast! The entire staff is very talented and they all sing as if they are main characters in shows on broadway. If you go check it out, you will not be disappointed!
Central Park
If you are looking for something fun and different to do, having Tea at the Plaza Hotel is always a fun thing to do! The Plaza is located at 768 5th Ave, right across from Central Park. The Palm Court inside the Plaza serves Tea. I would highly recommend making reservations as each time I have been it was pretty busy. It is such a great relaxing, fun experience for all!
Me at Central Park

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Palmetto Bluff, A Montage Resort set among 20,000 acres in Low Country ~ Bluffton, South Carolina

Money Magazine recently published a list of 25 of the Best places to Retire, Bluffton, SC was named one of them.  The Resort of Palmetto Bluff an entire 20,000 acres of land is literally a slice of heaven!

 According to the Palmetto Bluff information website, Natives came to settle on Palmetto Bluff back in 10,000 BC. To date,  archaeologists have found pieces of shells and pottery proving this fact. In fact, a Kayak tour out of Palmetto Bluff will take you to a small island which you will almost always walk away with a small piece of broken pottery from these times! It's pretty cool, I have one myself. The natives had landed here to harvest the area, fish and oysters.

In 1902, a wealthy banker by the name of R.T. Wilson from New York bought the land and built a grand mansion. The total history can be found on Palmetto Bluff's website at I highly recommend checking it out!

There is no way you can possibly explain this property to someone or even show pictures to really give it the true value it deserves. From the turn off the main road you see a very simple wooden sign not expecting it to be anything special at all. I really hope that sign never changes. It is about a 1 1/2 mile to the security gate. Once you are cleared to enter there is an unbelievably scenic drive about 9 miles long to reach the Inn.

We have been here a few times before and it always takes my breath away. The property used to be managed by Auberge.  We have been here once since it became a Montage property and everything seems to be going smoothly. From the moment we arrived at the Inn, we felt like we were home. The staff at Palmetto Bluff is always friendly and helpful.  Most of the staff know us by name and give us a wonderful warm, southern greeting. From bellman, to Concierge, to host/hostess, all wait staff and many many more.

On this last visit we rented cottage 33, it was on the inner water way. I would highly recommend when making a reservation to rent a cottage on the May River side if possible. They are all great cottages but the May River side is great this time of year, you can actually see teams of Dolphins swimming by. 

Golf Course

Momma Gator with babies on side of the golf course

View of the May River
The Inn at Palmetto Bluff

Whenever we have any wants or needs, they are immediately tended to. I had a service at the spa and that was great! I realize it's a temporary place while the new one is being built however, i found it to be very comfortable and relaxing! We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Canoe Club. It is always a great relaxing dinner when we visit. The staff, food, and service were all amazing. We ate at the River House a few times and we just loved it! We sat outside on the screened in porch and it was very comfortable. We were fortunate enough to be there as a new menu was rolled out. The Executive Chef did an amazing job! We really do look forward to visiting again!

The Ruins from the fire in 1926 of the original Wilson Mansion

Buffalos Restaurant

There are many activities for old and young alike at Palmetto Bluff. First of all, there are thousands of running/walking/biking trails throughout the property. A lot of the trails bring you through undisturbed preserved natural areas of beautiful, amazingly old trees, birds, deer and much wildlife. There is also two pools on the property, one is under construction at the moment but the other is near the Canoe club. I honestly cannot give an opinion on either one as I have never sat at them because we are always very active there. There are Kayak rentals available, Kayak tours, boat tours to different areas, paddle board rentals and I'm sure many more I am missing. There is a multi use studio which hosts classes such as yoga, spinning, etc. There is a bocci court in Wilson center, there is also a smaller tree house in the center near RT's Market. There are fire pits that are stocked with wood right outside of the main Inn available for guests use with supplies to make smores.

The Big Tree House at Mooreland

 On this visit we were fortunate to play golf. It was an unbelievably beautiful scenic course! We had just played in Kauai two weeks prior so it was something I was comparing it to. The huge live oaks with the moss falling from it and palm trees all around! The view is just spectacular! Our caddie, Ryan Meely was just amazing! I am a new golfer and had only golfed twice before, I was a little nervous about having someone with us the entire time! Ryan was great, he made me feel at ease and he was great about giving me tips to improve my game. We ate lunch at the golf club a couple times and both were great! I had the special open face turkey sandwich and it was amazing! The staff were all friendly and helpful. We ate breakfast and lunch at Buffalo's. We have always liked it there and this time was no different. Food, service, all top notch and staff friendly as always.

I do have to say one thing I have observed is the low turnover rate of the employees there and how much the staff really enjoy their jobs! To me this speaks volumes! There are many employees with 10+ years employment there and it appears everyone is happy with the transition to Montage. I look forward to being there in the not too distant future, in fact, my visit is already booked.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Kauai "The Garden Isle", with beautiful waterfalls, scenic trails along the gorgeous Na Pali Coast!

 Kauai is my favorite island and I have been so fortunate
to visit here twice. It is amazingly beautiful with a floral aroma
throughout the island. We stayed in the town of
Princeville. It is so beautiful there on the north side
of the island. I would recommend visiting that
part of the island as it is so unique. The drive
from Lihue to Princeville is around one hour but
well worth it.

Kauai is the oldest of the islands and is the furthest away (if coming from the mainland). There is tropical forrest covering most of the area of this island. There are many trails, waterfalls, canyons and caves to explore. The friendly people of Kauai just can't compare to anywhere else! They make you feel welcome and really appreciate your visit!
 We stayed at the St. Regis in Princeville. I love this hotel and where it is situated. It is at the north side of the island and has just amazing views. If you have the opportunity to stay at the St. Regis, inquire about a junior suite with butler service facing Hanalei Bay.

This is the amazing view we had in our room. We saw rainbows every morning we were there. One morning we saw four! One day we saw a double rainbow. The greatest thing about staying in the Hanalei bay area is all the trails close by, water sports, boat tours to take you out to Na Pali Coast. There are many waterfalls, caves, swamp area that cannot be seen on foot. You need to ride in a helicopter or take a boat tour to get to them.

If you don't stay at The St Regis, try to get over there one night for sunset. There is a ceremony of sabering of the champagne bottle. There is a great place to hangout on the Makana Terrace. There is drink and food service available with plenty of great places to sit back and enjoy the sunset.

The main restaurant is the Kauai Grill. They are open Tues-Sat 5:30-9:30. The menu is great and food is just amazing! On Wed. nights there is a dinner show (hula type). We didn't attend but it looked fun.
The St Regis has direct beach access and a pool. Drinks and lunch are served at the Nalu Kai Grill.

This is a link to a time-lapse video taken by my husband during one of the sunsets!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Looking for a place to eat? Try Dukes in Ka'anapali, it has a fabulous view with great food!

Dukes is open for Breakfast, lunch and dinner. We went for a sunset dinner.

Dukes has an amazing view of the sunset from pretty much any table! I would highly recommend making reservations if you are going for dinner. 
We arrived for our reservations and the hostess informed us they would need our table at a certain time for a larger party coming in. She gave us multiple options which I thought was great. 
I found them to be very accommodating. 
There was live acoustic music playing which was very nice. The setting is right on the ocean with an amazing view of the sunset. I would highly recommend planning your reservation for at least 30 minutes before sunset. 
I recommend trying their local fish and local greens. If it is something you wouldn't normally try, give it a shot. I had some amazing local fish in Hawaii and I just have to say, there's no way I travelled half way around the world to eat Main Lobster! Go out on a limb! You wont be dissapointed! Food was amazing, Service Exceptional!

wine and cocktails while watching the sunset and listening to great music!
Banana Leaf Steamed Island Fish and Shrimp
Made in a Sake, ginger sauce, sesame oil, coconut milk steamed bamboo rice, black bean bok choy & mushrooms. Amazing!

Maui Farm Salad