Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tidbits: Kid Friendly Resorts in Riviera Maya

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Paradisus Le Esmeralda

o   510 modern rooms with 129 Family Concierge rooms
o   89 Master Suites perfectly suited for families of 5 or greater
o   Both master suites and luxury family rooms have Jacuzzi’s 
o   Adults section is located at the Paradisus Le Perla
o   Kids club is available for children as young as 12 months to 12 years from 9am – 10pm
o   Lots of activities for teenagers such as bungee jumping and rock climbing
o   14 restaurants (please note: reservations by Melia result in a surcharge of 16%)
o   Beach is not ideal- very small with lots of seaweed
o   Pools are on the smaller side
o   Butler service is available (AND highly recommended) at $90 extra per person
o   Large groups must book a minimum of 10 rooms

Now Sapphire
o   25 minutes from the airport
o   496 total rooms (only 4 of these rooms are available to connect)
o   Rooms are a maximum of 4 people 
o   Only the ocean view rooms have Jacuzzi’s
o   3 floors with NO elevator
o   Room service is available 24 hours
o   Nightly entertainment starts at 8 pm as well as a disco from 10pm-1am
o   Kids club is available for ages 3-11 from 9am-8pm 
o   Entertainment for teenagers is also available 
o   Very large beach with minimal seaweed
o   3 total, fairly large pools 
o   5 restaurants total with 1 Buffet (please note: the buffet restaurant is NOT air-conditioned but rather has fans)
o   On Tuesdays and Thursdays, a show is available with dinner 
o   Fantastic cup of Joe at the Coffee Place available for purchase from 6am-10am
o   A romantic dinner option is available at an additional charge of $95-105 per person 
o   Minibars in the rooms are replenished once a day; an additional cost applies if more

Now Jade

o   510 total rooms with minimal connecting rooms
o   All rooms have Jacuzzi’s on the balcony
o   Kids Club is available for ages 3-11 years old from 8am-8pm
o   The property has 5 restaurants (gluten free menu available) total with 1 buffet
o   Room service is available 24 hours
o   Free Wi-Fi
o   FREE outbound calls to America PER Request ONLY
o   Nice beach with a medium amount of seaweed
o   Pools are on the smaller side

Dreams Riviera Cancun
o   486 total rooms on 5 floors
o   Connecting rooms are available for an extra $20 per room per night (every room can be connected except suites)
o   Rooms located on the 1st floor are swim suites
o   2 bars are open until 1 am
o   6 restaurants total (gluten free menu is available)
with 1 buffet
o   French restaurant – only for adults with a separate room available for private parties
o   Beach Restaurant (Oceania) is fantastic!
o   Coffee bar is offered from 6 am – 7:30am
o   24 hour room service
o   Kids club is for ages 3-12 from 9am – 11pm
o   Great beach location with good pools
o   Dance club operates from 10 pm – 1 am
o   Premium preferred level is available and includes better room locations, private check ins, 2 Jacuzzi areas, and a free spa
o   Free Wi-Fi

Moon Palace

o   315 total rooms (in the Sunrise section)
o   Connecting rooms are available only in a family suite option
o   Jacuzzis are available in every room
o   19 total wellness suites – pool, heart-healthy menu
o   Overall 3-4 floors
o   Wi-Fi is free
o   Unlimited phone calls within the Country
o   Kids club is available for ages 4-12 from 8am – 10 pm
o   Teens have their own club for ages 13-18 and is available from 9am – 10pm
o   Fantastic 18 hole golf course for those who play
o   Café open 24 hours
o   14 total restaurants
o   Enormous pool for all ages (some with water slides); a semi-Olympic pool (in Grand section)
o   A higher level of service located on the concierge level

o   Book 3 nights currently and receive a $500 resort credit

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Disney Cruise Adventures NYC Fall 2016 Excursions

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Here are a few samplings of the NYC excursions Disney will be offering next Fall! Please note, this is not an inclusive list; contact us for more information or other excursion options.

Central Park Walking Tour

   Meet your guide and board your mini-coach for a short drive to Central Park. What started out as the rocky and desolate northern fringes of a rapidly expanding city is now one of the world’s most famous and beloved public parks. With over 843 acres of meadows, hills, ball fields and bodies of water, it’s impossible not to find something to enjoy in Central Park.
   Most of the highlights in Central Park are located between 59th street and 80th street. That’s exactly the area you and your knowledgeable tour guide will cover in great detail on this approximate 2.5 hour walking tour. You will stroll through the park while your tour guide tells the epic story behind New York’s green oasis. Note: This tour includes approximately 2.5 miles of walking and standing on flat, paved and hilly surfaces.
   This tour explores the southern half of the park. You will wander the winding pedestrian paths, passing a pond, rocky outcrops, bridges, open fields and skyline views — all great photo opportunities. You will also learn about the park’s interesting history and design as you stop at famous locations, including the Mall and Literary Walk, Bethesda Fountain, Strawberry Fields, Belvedere Castle, the Sheep Meadow and more. You will also stroll through the Ramble, a quiet wooded area that will make you feel like you’re in the middle of a forest.
   During your walking tour, you will enjoy approximately 15 minutes of free time at the iconic Loeb Boathouse Express Café for refreshments (not included in the tour price). The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park may be the one place that you can sit down in New York City and look back on the city as it was over 125 years ago.
   Before going back to the pier, you will re-board your mini-coach and enjoy a scenic drive around the Northern part of Central Park. You will also stop at one of the hidden wonders of Central Park: The Conservatory Garden at Fifth Avenue and 105th St. A secluded oasis just a few steps down from one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, the garden offers a fragrant respite from the bustling city.

9/11 Memorial And Museum With Financial District

   Board an air-conditioned motor coach at the pier. Arrive at Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan, where your guide will lead you on a walking tour of Lower Manhattan. As you walk toward the World Trade Center you will see Broadway Street and the famous “Charging Bull” Statue which has become the unofficial symbol of Wall Street. While you walk through the Financial District, you’ll see iconic landmarks like New York Stock Exchange and Trinity Church. As you head towards the World Trade Center, you’ll stop to visit St Paul’s Chapel. Built in 1766, it’s Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use and includes a historic cemetery. It also features an exhibit honoring the voluntary ministry that supported recovery workers immediately after 9/11.
   Arrive at the World Trade Center and prepare for a moving visit to the newly completed 9/11 Memorial. Consisting of two enormous pools and 30-foot waterfalls set within the original footprints of the Twin Towers, the Memorial is a powerful tribute to the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. The names of the 2,982 men, women and children killed on those two fateful days are inscribed in bronze on parapets around the edges of the waterfalls.
   You will have approximately 30 minutes to view and contemplate the 9/11 Memorial. During your visit, your guide will be available to answer questions and explain aspects of the construction.
   Your guide will then escort you to the 9/11 Memorial Museum entrance where you will have approximately 2 hours to independently explore the museum. The museum’s growing collection of diverse materials includes artifacts, photographs, audio and video tapes, personal effects and memorabilia, expressions of tribute and remembrance, recorded testimonies and digital files and websites related to the history of the World Trade Center, the events of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993, and the repercussions of these seismic attacks. After the visit, you will walk back to your coach for the ride back to the pier.

The Statue Of Liberty And Ellis Island

   Board a ferry and cruise New York Harbor, where you’ll take in beautiful views of the city, Brooklyn and its famous bridge, Staten Island, New Jersey and the Manhattan skyline in the distance.
   Upon reaching Liberty Island, you will have approximately 70 minutes to walk around the base of the Statue of Liberty. There will also be time to visit the gift shop and enjoy some of the exterior exhibits. Your guide will provide detailed information about Lady Liberty, her completion in 1886 and her unique history. Note: This tour does not include a climb to the crown or torch of the statue and there will not be sufficient time to complete this on your own.
   Re-board the ferry and continue to Ellis Island, another National Historic Landmark. Ellis Island was the main immigration center for the United States from 1892 until World War II. More than 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island, and today over 40% of Americans can trace some part of their ancestry back to Ellis Island. You will have approximately 90 minutes to explore the museum on your own. Take the ferry back to Battery Park and relax as the coach returns to the pier.

Graffiti Workshop

   Meet your guide and depart the pier for an approximate 45-minute motor coach ride to the Bronx. Here, you will learn the art of graffiti by stepping into the life of a graffiti artist and discovering New York City's vibrant street art.
   Graffiti is a form of art expression traditionally used by young urban artists, who create powerful visual pictures, as well as political and social messages. Once considered a fringe movement, it has evolved into an art form of its own. Still considered a punishable crime in most parts of the world, graffiti today serves to express underlying social and political messages, especially dissent and rebellion against the status quo. A whole genre of artistic expression has blossomed on walls in cities all over the world, and graffiti is now a widely acknowledged art form, with the works of its famous artists. Graffiti artists, or "writers,” use a public venue to communicate their identity.
   The first part of your tour will include an approximate 45-minute bus tour through Bronx Grand Concourse, Fordham Road and TUFF City, where you will see many powerful works of art and expression and hear narration by your guide.
   Continue to your graffiti workshop location, where you will be given tools to create your own work of expressive graffiti. Your workshop host will explain the history of graffiti art, where it came from, the artists involved, their life experiences and their impact on the world.
   Your host will create a visual art display using a wood canvas and spray paint. Then, you will be given a full supply of tools, including paints, brushes, spray paint, paper, markers and canvases for you to create a piece of group art as well as an individual piece to take with you. After the workshop, you will return to the pier.

Napa: It's Not JUST About the Wine

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Although Napa Valley is best known for its grape libations, many of the wineries offer other opportunities aside from just tasting. The Castillo di Amerosa, also knows as the castle of love, in Calistoga offers a scale replica of a 13th century Medieval castle. The castle has 6 levels including a torture chamber and dungeon. Tours of the castle are $35.00 per person; the tour does finalize with a tasting and takes about 90 minutes.

Sterling Vineyards, also in Calistoga, has an aerial cable car, which transports you from the vineyards themselves into a majestic mountain winery. The views and photo opportunities of both these wineries make them desirable in addition to producing wine. 

Continuing North beyond Sterling and Castillo di Amerosa is the Petrified Forrest on Petrified Forrest Road. Beyond that, country roads that take you into the Russian River area, most known for its Steel Head Trout fishing and gateway to Armstrong Woods State (GIANT Redwoods) Park, and the north coast highway, that will lead you to Bodega Bay, (the sight of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds), Tomales Bay (home of Tomales Bay Oyster farm, and onward to Point Reyes State Park Light House. 

Napa valley also has several state parks that offer hiking; Bale Grist Mill dating from the mid 1800's still has milling demonstrations on the weekends and Di Rosa Preserve which showcases local artists’ works in the form of film media, sculptures, etc.

Oxbow Market in downtown Napa offers hands on cooking classes that include a 3-course lunch. If shopping is your interest, downtown is also a bounty of shopping, from art galleries, jewelry stores, home furnishings, unique toy stores and clothing boutiques, there is something for everyone!