Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dunes Village Resort (Myrtle Beach, SC) review from our customers

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Hi Alex

Just want to give you a feedback on our trip to Myrtle Beach (Dunes Village Resort ). We feel very satisfied. The only complaint  was the weather :). It was from 50 to 65 max. But the hotel had such great indoor water park, that we didn't miss a bit. The room was great: 3 quin-size beds in two separate rooms, full kitchen, 2 TVs, balcony overlooking the ocean.
Going into details (in case you need to recommend this place to somebody) two very small things: parking is in a separate building across the road from suits; to go to the pool area one needs to walk on outside  balcony from the room to elevator, so in a cold weather you'd need to put on a warm jacket over swimwear. There are two places to eat inside the resort: one open for breakfast, one for lunch and dinner. But there are lots and lots of eateries around, within 5 min drive, also a supermarket. There is an amusement park 5 min away. And a  place similar to Downtown Disney with shops and restaurants and entertainment  We liked it even more than Disney's.
There were kids activities every so often though the day, like crafts, competitions in the resort.The beach must be very nice in a warm day. Oh, good playground for little ones on a beach in front of the resort.
Many, many kids, so it's easy to make a new friend in the pool :).
Bottom line - it's a good place for a vac. with kids who like water.

Review on Yelp about our experiences working with Family Travel Concierge can be found here
Thank you,
Here is the list of some good/decent restaurants that are very close to your resort
Ciao - Italian
Carolina Roadhouse - steakhouse
Toscana Italian Bistro - Italian
Cafe Old Vienna - Cafe
Kaminskiy's - Deli - 1.8 miles - it is further away
There are several pizzerias near by.
Suggested things to do in Myrtle Beach

Sky wheel - 0.4 miles from hotel

Ripley aquarium - 2.8 miles

Brookgreen Zoo - 23 miles

Wonderworks - 3.6 miles

Mini-golf -3.6 miles - ask at the hotel, may be anything closer

Watch for dolphins

Alligator adventure

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

10 places that you must visit in Rome

1. Coliseum

The Colosseum is the largest Roman amphitheater. It is a symbol of the city in the same way as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Many people know this building as the Colosseum, however it is called  Flavian Amphitheatre  in honor of its builders, the Flavian dynasty. Start of construction of Coliseum  was 72 BC, that's when the Roman emperor Vespasian started the construction. Construction continued for 8 years and was finished in 80 BC by Emperor Titus, the son of Vespasian. Coliseum for the Romans was the venue of a variety of games which included the famous gladiator fights. Today the remains of the Italian Government Coliseum protected as a cultural heritage. The tragic story of this place inspired Ridley Scott to create the movie "Gladiator" with Russell Crowe in the main part. 

2. Trevi Fountain


Trevi Fountain is probably the most famous fountain in Rome, made famous in the film "La Dolce Vita" («Sweet Life"), directed by Federico Fellini, with actress Anita Ekberg in the main part. It was built by the architect Salvi in ​​1735 with numerous sculptures.  Trevi Fountain is the largest in Rome. Its height is 25.9 meters and width is19.8 m. Every year thousands of people visit the place and throw coins hoping to return to Rome for the second time. 

3. Imperial Forum 

In Rome there are several Imperial Forums. There is a Forum of Caesar, the Forum of Augustus, the World Forum, and Trajan's Forum. All the furnishings are left untouched since ancient Roman times. This is a very strange feeling to walk on the same stones where Caesar and Trajan stood. 

4. The Roman Forum 

The Roman Forum is a place of active public and political life of ancient Rome. For the Roman civilization that was one of the best places for town meetings, public discussions of various issues of the vessels and important religious events. Among the most important buildings can be identified Arch of Titus, postroennuya about 70 AD, the Basilica of Maxentius, the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Via Sacra, which rises to Capitol Hill. 

5. Piazza Navona 

Piazza Navona is a place of the former Stadium of Domitian. It has retained its original elliptical shape of the ancient stadium. This is definitely one of the most beautiful and famous squares in Rome. Here you can find unique masterpieces of artists such as Bernini, Borromini and Giacomo della Porta. Among them are three fountains: Fountain of the Four Rivers (by Bernini), the fountain Moore and the Moore Fountain and The Fountain of Neptunre (by Giacomo della Porta). You can find a lot of local artists here.  You can have a good evening in some cozy bar, enjoying good wine and being in  the atmosphere of the ancient city. 

6. Piazza Venezia 

Piazza Venezia is another Roman square. It is located in the center of Rome near the Roman Forum. There you can find a huge building built of marble and decorated with multiple bronze statues. This monumental structure called Vittoriano, named after the first king of united Italy Victor Emmanuel II.

7. Capitol

One of the seven hills in Rome, Capitol Hill,  is the place where you can find Capitoline temple. In Roman times Roman senators met here for various meetings . The square  has a trapezoidal shape. The square was partially designed by Michelangelo. 

8. St. Peter's Basilica 

Our list would not be complete without a mention of St. Peter. Basilica of San Pietro is located in the Vatican, which has been the residence of the Pope since 1377. It is famous all over the world and is the center of the Catholic religion. The most outstanding architects and artists, including Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini, Giacomo della Porta and Domenico Fontana participated in the creation of this Catholic cathedral. The dome of the Basilica is visible from many parts of the city.

9. Piazza di Spagna‎ 

Piazza di Spagna‎ is famous for its staircase consisting of 138 steps leading to the church of Trinita dei Monti. These steps can be seen in many movies.. Around the square there are many famous designer shops including  Armani, Versace, Valentino and many others. 

10. Pantheon 

Pantheon is a huge monument built in the Roman Empire, about 80 a.d. This building appeals to many photographers. Light entering the temple creates almost surreal atmosphere in the rain! Inside there are the graves of famous people such as Raphael.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Best kids friendly resorts in Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica

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Clients are asking this question every day: What are the best kids friendly resorts in Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica?

Here is our compilation of best kids friendly resorts in Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rico. Order appearing on the list is not significant.

They are all family friendly resorts and have various programs for  kids!

1. Azul Beach
  • Small, only 97 units
  • Large private beach
  • Great service
  • Good variety of kids meals
  • Modern rooms
  • All-inclusive plan might feel limiting with dining options
  • Expensive compared with other options in the area

2. Barcelo Maya Palace
  • Great beach
  • Good rooms
  • Even though the service is the best from all Barcelo Maya resorts sometimes it feels worse than in some other resorts in the same category

3. Iberostar Paraiso Lindo & Maya
  • Lindo mostly has standard rooms, Maya is suits only
  • Very good dining options
  • Excellent service

  • Waves  on the beach are very frequent. Sometimes it is impossible to swim because of waves
  • There were complaints about worn out rooms in Lindo

4. Dreams Rivera Cancun
  • White sand beach with relatively calm water
  • Modern rooms
  • Very good dining options

  • Seaweed debris on the beach

5. Clubmed Cancun

6. Paradisus Esmeralda

  • Excellent service
  • Excellent dining options
  • Modern rooms

  • Rocky not the best beach

Dominican Republic
7. Clubmed Punta Cana

8. Paradisus Palma Real
  • Excellent service
  • Excellent dining options
  • Modern rooms

  • Some rooms can be far away from the beach

9. Iberostar Rose Hall Suites
  • All rooms are suites
  • Good dining options
  • Good service
  • Plenty of activities

  • A la carte restaurant reservations are hard to get
  • Sometimes employees pressure guests to tip

10. Round Hill

11. FDR

St. Lucia
12. Cotton Bay Village

Turks and Caicos
13. Seven Stars

14. The Veranda

15. Beaches

16. Atlantis

17. Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

18. Hyatt Regency

Costa Rica
19.  Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

20. Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa

St. John
21. The Westin

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Being a little princess

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One of our clients is planning to go to Disney World with her six year old daughter for a weekend. They want this trip to have a princess theme.

Here is the interview with a Disney pro, Jenny Soto, that we conducted recently.

Where in Disney World should six year old girl go to feel like a princess?
Magic Kingdom is the perfect place for princesses!
Is Friday night and a full day Saturday is enough?
I think Friday night and a full day Saturday should be fine in Magic Kingdom just make sure you really plan your day so you can make sure you get to see and do all the things you want.

Where would you recommend going inside of magic Kingdom?
Disney just opened a new part of the park inside Magic Kingdom called: New Fantasyland. Inside there are a couple of must see princess attractions. Enchanted tales with Belle: where you can not only walk through Belle's cottage but then get to interact with Belle and friends as they tell her story. Also, another new ride in there is called: Journey of the Little Mermaid great ride to see Ariel and friends. After the the Little Mermaid ride step next door to Ariel's grotto for a Meet and Greet with Ariel.

Are there any other opportunities to meet Princesses?
Another opportunity to meet Princesses might be to book a lunch or dinner at one of Disney's themed princess restaurants inside Magic Kingdom. One that comes to mind is Cinderella's Royal Table which is inside the castle and its great way to meet Cinderella and Prince Charming.  Also, the newest Restaurant, Be our Guest Restaurant, located in the new Fantasyland inside Belle and Beasts Castle. It's very beautiful inside and open for quick walk up lunch or sit down service. Both these Restaurants are very popular so I strongly recommend reservations in advance. You can book those through Disney dining or through WDW website.

Are there other fun Princess activities at Magic Kingdom?
Another fun Princess activity they have at Magic Kingdom that is a must experience is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Who wouldn't want there very own princess makeover? Inside the castle you find the Boutique where they offer several different packages to have hair, makeup, and nails done. You can bring your princess dressed up in one of her own princess dresses or she can also buy one there in the boutique. Again, be advised this makeover experience is extremely popular people tend to book this well in advance, 3-6 months in advance!

What if you  can't get a reservation for the boutique or any of the restaurants?
Never fear if you can't get a reservation for the boutique or any of the restaurants there are still several areas were you can meet the characters and princesses without reservations. One of those locations is over at the Town square theater located right before Main Street in magic kingdom. In there they have a meet greet with the princesses. They usually have 3 princesses there (Cinderella, Aurora, and Rapunzel) this is great to have one on one time with princesses and great photo opportunities! Another area is over in liberty square where you can meet princess Tiana and prince Naveen from Princess and the Frog. Magic kingdom also has some great parades where that can give you another chance to get glimpse of the characters.

Are there any activities at night?
At night they have a great electrical parade where all the floats and characters are all lighted up. It's very beautiful and fun for the kids. Don't forget the nighttime fireworks called wishes.

If you have a one day ticket and want to leave the park and then return back at the same day. Can you do this?
If you have a one day ticket and you want to leave and come back in the same day you can. Just make sure before leaving you have a Disney cast member stamp your hand before you leave. That stamp gets you back in.

Would you like to add anything in the conclusion?
It's a lot of information and a lot of planning. Check out the Disney World website where you can see these attractions up close and you'll be able to plan better. Also the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservations number is there and can see lists of pricing and packages and photos too. Hope all this helps there is just so much you can do there!

Thank you, Jenny!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Amazing places in Barcelona

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1. Horta Labyrinth
Horta Labyrinth is a botanical garden of the XVIII century, the oldest in Barcelona, ​​with rare plants, fountains, a waterfall, and a labyrinth. Labyrinth is the pride of the park: 750 meters thick walls and graceful arches of foliage cypress, of which starred one of the scenes of the film "Perfume" maniac about Paris XVIII century.How to get there: Passeig dels Castanyers 1, Metro Mundet (L3)Entry ticket: 2,50 EUR, guide service - 1,80 EUR 
Special offer: free admission on Wednesdays and Sundays
2. Champañeria Can Paixano 
Champañeria Can Paixano is a bar with a unique atmosphere of the old town, where almost for nothing poured traditional Spanish champagne - kava. In the cozy atmosphere you can taste the best for a penny of this sort of cava and enjoy typical tapas, jamon and cheese under the melodious accompaniment of Spanish guitar.How to get there: Carrer de la Reina Cristina 7, Metro Barceloneta (L4)Price: from 0.8 euros to 1.20 euros per glass.

3. Bar El Bosc de les Fades

El Bosc de les Fades is the most mysterious and fabulous bar in Barcelona. Enjoy traditional refreshing sangria in a cool animated fairy trees, walk through a magical maze of halls and doors and get lost in the very thickest of the mysterious forest or small caves with fairies, trolls and waterfalls.

Getting there: Passeig Banca 7, Metro Drassanes (L3) 

Discount: until 22:00 pm at the bar are reduced prices for tea / coffee and some alcohol.
4. La Sagrada Familia

 La Sagrada Familia is standing above the "Neo-Gothic" cranes and alien décor depicting scenes from the Holy Scriptures. It is the last and unfinished work of Gaudi. 

How to get there: Calle Mallorca, Metro Sagrada Familia (L2 and L5) 
Price: Enter to the Basilica is 13.50 Euro, 18 Euro with audio guide
You can purchase tickets in advance at the official site:
5. Park Güell
 ParkGüell  is an incredible park with a "gingerbread house", writhing benches and much more . It is  the legendary work of  Antonio Gaudi.  The most known part of the park is a color mosaic covering benches , which became the symbol of the city.

How to get there: Metro Lesseps (L3), follow signs 
Admission: Tourist entrance fee will be about5 Euros.
On Sundays you can enter the park for FREE.
 6. Montserrat mountain

Montserrat mountain  is a symbol and one of the main attractions of Catalonia.  It has very non typical shape. There is a monastery standing on the mountain.

Getting there: The most convenient  option is a commuter trains from the station Pl. Espanya (L R5 Barcelona-Pl. Espanya - Manresa-Baixador) to station Montserrat - Aeri and then the cable car or to the station Monistrol de Montserrat  and further Cremallera (cog railway) to the monastery.