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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun In Cabo!

One of the best benefits of being a travel specialist is getting to know so many interesting people, and becoming close friends with many of them.  Throughout the year, I look back and smile, relishing those new clients-turned-friends.  Many years ago, I met my then client, Natalie, and knew we would get along great! She’s a happy, positive person – with a passion for travel.  Today, I call her my friend first and client second.  Below she shares her most recent girlfriend getaway – Enjoy and maybe you will get some ideas for your circle of old and NEW friends!

Cabo San Lucas

Natalie in Cabo San Lucas

Medano Beach, Cabo San Lucas

1.Where did you vacation? Resort? With whom? When?

I spent a wonderful vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with three of my girlfriends at Casa Dorada at Medano Beach. July 14-20, 2012.

2. What did you most enjoy about your vacation experience?

I loved the location of the resort and the company of my girlfriends. The resort is located right on Medano Beach (one of the only swimmable beaches in Cabo San Lucas) and is within walking distance of downtown and a lot of the wonderful restaurants. There is an abundance of great seafood in Cabo San Lucas.

3. Can you share any recommendations or travel tips? (activities, best room types, etc.)

We reserved two, one-bedroom condo units. We had plenty of room. One thing I can recommend when traveling in Mexico is to be sure and take plenty of small dollar bills and be sure to change your cell phone plan to accommodate texting and data plans.

Lover's Arch, Cabo San Lucas

Lover’s Arch, Cabo San Lucas

Casa Dorado Cabo San Lucas

4. What trip experiences are on your travel bucket list?

I would love to stay in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora. I would also like to visit Ireland and tour Italy.  Those are just a few on my list.

5. What is the one thing you would not be without when traveling?

Obviously the one thing I would not be without while traveling abroad is my passport, LOL! However, I would never travel without my digital camera. Memories are only made once. You don’t get to redo them. I want to do everything I can to make sure I never forget the good times I have had.

6. Tell us about you. What city do you live in?

I currently reside in Bossier City, LA, where I currently work as an ultrasound technologist at a local hospital.

7. How do you unwind? Hobbies?

I love to travel, obviously, but when I can’t, I love to read, shop or garden to take my mind of things. Visiting with my favorite travel agent, Sherri Miller, to plan my next trip helps as well.

Thanks Natalie for choosing Vacationista Travel and sharing your story!

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Winter is Around the Corner – Ski Time!

Some of my best family vacation memories are from our yearly New Year’s Eve week ski vacations! Ski all day, watch football bowl games all night!  Who remembers the Fiesta Bowl 2007, Boise State vs. OU?? I do–not only because it was a remarkable and crazy game but also because I was cheering with my family from our Canyons Resort, Park City condo!  It’s that time of the year and we get so excited planning these memories for our clients.  We put together a few ski teasers to get you just as excited!

 Want an Intermediate Ski Lesson – How to Keep Your Skis Parallel? Click here!

Ski Resort

Ski Resort Opening Dates:

Copper Mountain – November 2;   Crested Butte – November 21;   Winter Park – November 14; Wolf Creek – November 2;  Park City – November 17;  Heavenly – November 16

Ski & Snow Report App:   Great new features for 2012-2013 season

Ski & Snow Report App

Book Early! These deals won’t last!

Aspen:   Aspen from $268includes 3 nights lodging in a 3 star hotel room; 2, 2-day lift tickets valid at all Aspen and Snowmass Mountains; based on double occupancy.  Valid 11/22-12/20, book by 11/19/12

Snowmass:  includes 4 nights lodging in a 4 star hotel room; 2, 3-day lift tickets valid at all Aspen and Snowmass Mountains; based on double occupancy. Valid 11/22-12/25, book by 10/19/12

Family Skiing

 Call Us Today to Book Your Next Memory!

We Will Assist With Every Detail – Air, Lodging, Lift Tickets, Restaurant Reservations, Tubing, and So Much More!

New York City– Where to Save, Where to Splurge!

The last few weeks I have found myself at different times wishing I was visiting one of my favorite cities, New York City.  As I watched the U.S. Tennis Open, followed NYC Fashion Week, and observed a national day of remembrance on 9/11, I was reminded of this great city and how each American should include it on their bucket list! Most of us know the “must dos & sees” of NYC so we are making recommendations on where you can SAVE and where you should SPLURGE when visiting.

I Love New York

Vacationista Custom NYC Package! Includes 3 night hotel accommodations at the Hilton Times Square or Element by Westin Times Square West, one Broadway Ticket of your choice per person, and ADMISSION to your choice of – Empire State Building Observatory – Museum of the City of New York – NY Water Taxi Statue of Liberty Flex Pass AND ADMISSION to your choice of – Metropolitan Museum of Art – American Museum of Natural History – Top of the Rock Observation Deck – All taxes on included features – Shopping discounts!   Price Per Person: $488! Based on Double Occupancy, subject to change based on availability, travel dates – January-February 2013. We can add airfare, transfers, and so much more to customize your trip.

SPLURGE:

Family? Have Breakfast With A Toy Soldier at the FAO Schwarz Flagship Store:  Scheduled one hour prior to store opening at 9am, visitors can take a stroll through the magical toy emporium on a 45-minute private tour that will share memorable moments in the store’s history, provide opportunities to ”test-drive” some great toys and conclude with a continental breakfast at the BIG Piano.

FAO Schwarz NY

Want to Propose? Central Park Proposal Package:  Includes assistance with selecting the location within Central Park, day-of-coordination for the proposal, professional photographer for one hour including a CD with all images, and a floral arrangement for after you pop the question. Package prices from $799.

Central Park Proposal

Photocredit – sharonbushmanblog.com

Sweet Tooth? Visit Serendipity 3, Andy Warhol’s favorite sweet shop.  As popular as this brownstone has become, it still remains immensely quaint.  Indulge in a drugstore Sundae or my favorite, a Strawberry Fields Sundae – cheesecake, strawberry ice cream, strawberry topping with whip cream, $15.

Serendipity 3

Serendipity 3 NYC

Eclectic Cocktails Atop One of Manhattan’s Rooftop Lounges? The Press Lounge, atop the Kimpton Hotel – Ink48, offers unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson.  Note- there is a dress code.

Press Lounge

Press Lounge – Ink48 Hotel NYC

Vintage Shopping? Head to Soho – south of Houston Street in lower Manhattan and visit What Goes Around Comes Around, featuring one of the largest collections of vintage denim in the United States.

SAVE:

Food – Eat Street Food! Look for The Halal Guys carts throughout Manhattan and you won’t be disappointed. Large portions and delicious Gyro Wraps for around $6. Of course, you can find some of the best hot dog stands in the country. This is a Save & Splurge – you save money but splurge on the waistline!

NYC Street Food

Photocredit – DNAinfo.com/newyork

Happy Hour: Just because one bar may offer your favorite cocktail for $15 don’t assume the bar one block away is similarly priced. Check the street signs outside the pubs and bars for specials offered daily.

Accommodations:

  • Stay uptown or downtown:  With the efficient subway system, you can be in Midtown Manhattan (Times Square, Theatre District, etc.) within minutes and save hundreds of dollars.
  • Choose your dates carefully:  NYC hotel rates can vary dramatically based on the season.  The best rates can be found Jan-March and the second best are July-August.
  • Discounted Package: Vacationista can book discounted hotel packages, in which your hotel is offered at a discounted rate and includes for no charge – free admission into top NYC attractions and museums like the Empire State Building Observatory and the American Museum of Natural History along with shopping discounts!

Broadway Show Tickets: Guess what – there is also Broadway Week! And it last longer than a week but is only offered once a year, typically in September.  Select shows are buy one – get one free. There is also the TKTS Discount Booths.  TKTS Discount Booths offer tickets to Broadway and Off Broadway musicals and plays at up to 50% off.  There are three booths:  Times Square Booth, South Street Seaport Booth, Downtown Brooklyn Booth.

Broadway Week

We want to hear from you! Post a comment – tell us what you think of this post, OR what you would like to see featured next OR what you like about NYC.  Just let us hear from you and by doing so we will enter you into a drawing for a $100 Visa Gift Card! Post your comment by October 16, 2012 to qualify.  And don’t forget to “Like” and “Share” us on Facebook!

Ocean Stories: An LSU Tiger Fan On Vacation

Many times I have pondered and asked what is a college football fan to do during off season? For us diehard fans it can be a bit depressing when the season is over. SO – in the spirit of college football kicking off this weekend (woo hoo!), Vacationista is highlighting our friend Brenda’s recent beach vacation.  What does that have to do with college football? Well, did we mention Brenda is also the biggest LSU Fan we know!

LSU Tigers

Where did you vacation? Resort? With whom?

Golden Parnassus Resort in Cancun – adults only – all inclusive, with my husband, Jerry (40th wedding anniversary)

Golden Paranassus Cancun

Golden Paranassus Cancun

What did you most enjoy about your vacation experience?

Being totally pampered the entire time. Wonderful customer service – everyone always smiling – from housekeeping to busboys, restaurant waiters, bartenders, front desk, etc.  Also, loved the fact that it was adults only – don’t get me wrong, I love children, but wanted this vacation to be totally about relaxation ! Loved that it was all inclusive- so no prices on menu! Resort was immaculate – including beach areas

The club level rooms also included a romantic dinner in your room – it was awesome ! Ordered from the French restaurant menu

Can you share any recommendations or travel tips?

There are more luxurious resorts in the area, I’m sure, but I cannot imagine any better service.

I would recommend paying a little extra and getting a “club level” room.  I booked a lagoon view room rather than an ocean view, however, on return trips; think I will do the ocean view. It was hot on our balcony, so we didn’t utilize it much – I’m sure the ocean side rooms had a breeze on the balcony.

Golden Paranassus Club Level Room

Golden Paranassus Club Level Room

What trip experiences are on your travel bucket list?

I would love to go to Hong Kong – mainly for the shopping!

What is the one thing you would not be without when traveling?

OTC medications – such as Advil, Benadryl, cold & sinus meds, anti-diarrheal meds, etc and band aids. Must be the nurse in me!

Tell us about you. What city do you live in?

Live in Benton, La – love to travel. Husband is retired airline pilot, so he is not too keen on traveling – he did it for a living for 30 + years, so doesn’t look at it as fun .

How do you unwind? Hobbies?

Unwind by shopping, reading, watching HGTV and attending LSU football games!

Click Below For LSU Opening Weekend Trailer

LSU vs. North Texas Opening Weekend Trailer Video

Thank you Brenda for sharing!

Our thoughts and prayers are with are Louisiana Friends & Family.

Enriching Experiences: Wine Friendly Travel

Wine is sunlight held together by water – Gallileo

You love wine.  You love travel.  Wine + Travel + You = Toasting Your Next Vacation!

Grab your glass of wine! This post is filled with wine, travel and an exciting, AFFORDABLE, MUST vacation package featuring Napa, specially designed by Vacationista Travel!

 Woman with wine

Custom Wine Vacation Package:  Includes roundtrip air & taxes from DFW (other airports available), airport transfers, 3 night boutique hotel accommodations in San Francisco – room with a bay view and fireplace, featuring complimentary breakfast daily, semi-private all-day limo wine tour to Napa, and Muir Woods/Sausailto day tour

Price Per Person:  $847 – based on double, subject to change based on availability, trip date: October 25- October 28, other dates and departure airports available

Napa Valley

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

Wine Education: visit www.corkquiz.com  Includes how to host a wine tasting party kits! Each kit contains a description of a wine tasting theme, preparation materials and instructions, what you’ll need to buy including suggested wines, and ready to use handouts that can be used during the tasting.

Best Time to Travel to Wine Regions:   Typically in Spain, Italy, France and the U.S., ideally harvest time is September and October.  Argentina, located in the Southern Hemisphere, is typically February thru April.

Wine Aps:  Snooth Wine Pro – $4.99

Wow! I love this app when shopping at the store.  Simply take a photo of the wine label to match it to a vintner in the app’s enormous wine database. From there, you can read a description of the wine, as well as users’ reviews, without ever having to open the bottle. A free version of this app is available as well, but the image recognition capability is not available.

Wine App

How to Pack Wine: 

  • Buy a Wineskin (sleeve) – available at wine stores
  • Consider buying a wine suitcase
  • Ship it, if your state allows
  • OR use child Swim floats! Yep, blow up the float and insert wine bottle!

Wine Immersive Vacations:

  • Avalon Waterways River Cruise: Wine Appreciation Cruises – including The Legendary Danube and Windmills, Vineyards & Paris – April-Oct 2013
  • Celebrity Cruises:  “Immersive Wine Cruise” through Europe, September 2013
  • Tauck:  7 Day San Francisco, Sonoma, Napa Valley Tour including exclusive tours, May-Oct 2013
  • Viking River Cruises:  France’s Finest river cruise, March-Nov 2013
  •  Oceania Cruises:  Bon Appetit Food & Wine Festival Cruise, Oct 2012
Avalon River Cruise

Avalon River Cruise

America’s Best Wine Bars: courtesy of Travel + Leisure

  • Barcelona, Atlanta
  • Kazimierz World Wine Bar, Scottsdale
  • Bacchannal, New Orleans
  • Veritas, Dallas
  • Max’ s Wine Dive, Austin
  • D.O.C. Wine Bar, Chicago

Barcelona Wine Bar, Atlanta

REAL HONEYMOON: ST LUCIA

We love planning Honeymoons and working with our clients and newly married, Kristin and Adam, reminds us each day why we love planning our soon to be newly weds first trip together as husband and wife! Months after their gorgeous wedding, they left the Wisconsin winter and flew away to an incredible honeymoon in St. Lucia, enjoying a Penthouse Honeymoon Beachfront suite at Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort.

Here’s a peak into their wedding & honeymoon…..

It was such a pleasure to work with Kristin & Adam.  To hear their client story and read about their Real Honeymoon read below….

Where did you get married? Wedding reception location?

We got married in a beautiful church in downtown Milwaukee. Our reception was at the elegant and historic Pfister Hotel – Imperial Ballroom. Single-handedly the best night of our lives.

What did you most enjoy during your vacation?

Where do we start – St. Lucia was a perfect honeymoon. It was the first time in years that we actually just relaxed. No computers, no cell phones. We loved our resort (Sandals – Grande St. Lucian) – top notch rooms and amazing food. The island itself is breathtaking, and there is so much to do. On the days that we wanted to lounge – sitting by the pool or by the beach – it was sitting in the middle of paradise. However, St. Lucia is a friendly island, and we were comfortable exploring as much as we wanted to – plus the island is never short of amazing adventures.

Can you share any recommendations or travel tips? (activities, best room types, etc.)

Without a doubt – Simon Say’s Speed Boat Tour. It gave an amazing view of the island without such a long drive on the island roads. We were able to snorkel and see the incredible Pitons (a must). We were able to take a steamy mud bath at the Sulphur Spings Volcanic Park. The day ended with local cuisine and a jump in the freezing cold waterfall. We would recommend it to anyone. Plus – entirely reasonable from a cost perspective. We also hiked the Pigeon Island National Landmark – amazing view of the northern tip of the island. You can even see Martinique.

What is the one thing you would not be without when traveling?

Come on – this is an easy one – my husband. He is my partner in crime and I would never want to be without him during these adventures. However – now that I just got the new Ipad – I think that may be my answer. And of course my beach book and sunscreen!

Tell us about you. What city do you live in? Do you have any pets?

We live in Milwaukee, WI. You may not think there is a lot to do here. . but it is an amazing city. Lake Michigan is beautiful. The city completely comes alive in the summer. It is the home of the one and only – world’s largest music fest – Summerfest.

Easton is our wonderful, 90 pound black lab of pure fun. He is quite challenging at times – but is a big cuddler at heart! Our lives have never been the same since he came into them. We named him after the hockey stick and softball bat!

 

Why did you choose to use the services of Vacationista Travel?

We trust Sherri one-hundred percent. Her experience both professionally and personally goes unmatched. Everything about our vacation was planned to a tee. There were no details forgotten. In fact – I can hardly wait to plan our next trip! Vacations are a big investment, and you want to make them count. I feel that Sherri takes the stress out of planning the perfect vacation because you know what you are going to get! I am excited to work with her again!!

Will & Rhonda

Whether you are into culture, cuisine, or beaches, Sherri listens and creates the perfect trip! We have relied on her expertise for over 10 years and hope to do so for another 20 years! Will & Rhonda

Anna

WOOOOOOO HOOOOO Vacationista! We are looking forward to our next annual girls’ getaway! All of us thank you for all the small details, working within our budget and our spa slippers! Anna

Jared & Nicole

Thanks for the honeymoon of our dreams! We were so undecided but you made the planning so simple.  Your recommendations were spot on.  Hiking, zip-lining, relaxing on the beach- Costa Rica had it all. We can’t wait to return for an anniversary! IF NOT SOONER! Jared & Nicole

Angela’s Family

We Loved Our Trip, Vacationista! The kids’ travel packet on the train throughout Italy was a Life Saver! Thank You Again, Angela, Greg, Arabella, Josh