Thursday, May 27, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The U.S. Air Transport Association (ATA) released a statement predicting a slight rise in summer air passenger traffic. According to Reuters, the bulk of that growth will come from international routes, with U.S. domestic air travel numbers remaining similar to last year.
The ATA also mentions that summer fuel prices will likely be 20 percent higher year-over-year compared to last summer. I'm seeing a pattern starting to form here—more travelers, higher fuel prices—that doesn't bode well for last-minute airfare bookers.
Are you planning to travel this summer? Will you be staying in the U.S. or taking an international trip? And maybe most importantly, have you already booked?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The next day, we made our way to the beach and enjoyed the cabana chairs provided by the Tradewinds. I fell asleep only to wake up and realize I had bathing suit top strings outlined on my back due to the lack of sunscreen I forgot to apply...nice! We made our way to the room and got ready for our sunset cruise. We drove a few minutes from the resort to Dolphin Marina where we boarded the Fantasea for a three-hour tour (I mean sail). As we sailed, we watched the sun sink slowly into the skyline, saw dolphins playfully interact next to our boat, and enjoyed making new friends with our shipmates. Very relaxing and a nice way to start the evening.
By the time we arrived back at Tradewinds, Jessica had arrived from Miami in time for dinner. We dined at the resorts Palm Court Italian Grill with a variety of noshes, including salad, carpaccio, lobster, steak, pasta, as well as wine and expresso martinis (that they made just for us...thank you). With the caffeine kicking in, we were ready to hit the town (I mean beach; after all, this is a beach town). After a few “research” stops, we finally found a great beach bar hangout called the Undertow, where we met a few special Canadians (we still don't know why they were dressed up like it was Halloween). We also discovered Free Beach Ride that will pick you up and drop you off all along the beach for free (tips encouraged). Many thanks to Oliver for picking us up and informing us of this terrific service.
While we got to enjoy some more beach time over the weekend, we most of all enjoyed our down time (it is so nice to just getaway for a while) and our girl time (our cheeks hurt from laughing so much). Isn’t that what a Girls Getaway is all about? Thank you St Pete Beach and Tradewinds Resort for another fabulous Girls Getaway.
Monday, May 17, 2010
We could not have picked a better weekend to escape and relax during our Girls Getaway to St Pete Beach in late April. The weather was amazing and the sun shone bright each day. Emily and I arrived at the Tradewinds Resort located on St. Pete Beach. We checked in and were both commenting on how terrific the hotel staff was. From the valet to the reception desk to the concierge, everyone was friendly and dedicated to making sure our stay was perfect.
We opened the door to our room, which was perfect for a Girls Getaway. It had two queen beds in the bedroom, a large bathroom, a living room with pull out couch, kitchen and balcony with an incredible view of the Gulf of Mexico. And the Tradewinds staff had gone above and beyond by stocking the room with beach bags, beach towels, wine glasses and girlie magazines. Thank you!
I got a tour of the property, which features several pools (including an adult-only), pet play area, several dining options (ranging from beach bar to upscale), ice cream parlor, Pizza Hut, sports bar, beach web cam (say hi to everyone back home), Body Works Salon & Spa, water sports, beach volleyball, tennis, kids camp, and (of course) their three-story water slide located on the beach.
Not realizing just how tired we were from a hectic week at work, Emily and I had a quick bite to eat and climbed into bed early while watching TV. We knew the next few days would provide enough fun for the weekend; tonight was perfect for doing absolutely nothing.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Our luxurious day in Puerto Rico began with breakfast in bed while enjoying our ocean view rooms....what a spectacular way to wake up! With our bathing suits on, we started our transfer to the marina where Tyrone was waiting for us in a 35’ Contender boat to take us to our very own island (Icacos) for the day. We had everything we needed for a perfect beach day: sunscreen, towels, gossip magazines, sangria, sandwiches, and a guy to do everything for us! After some R&R on the white sand and in the turquoise water, we boated to another location for great snorkeling, which we all enjoyed. Once back on land we transferred back to the Marriott for our afternoon massages at Ocean Club Spa. Many thanks to Luis for a terrific hour of pure bliss.
I arrived back at the room to a bottle of champagne and a plate of cheese and crackers. Yes, I could get used to this. I was so relaxed, it was all I could do to get ready for dinner. Once I arrived at the Marriott’s Ristorante Tuscany, I knew getting ready was completely worth it. We enjoyed amazing dishes, such as the Veal Sautéed Scallopine & Mushrooms in a Marsala Wine Sauce and Homemade Fettuccine with Tuscany Meat Sauce Mushrooms & a touch of cream. Everything was wonderful, including the Tiramasu. A great last meal, and a great way to finish our day of luxury in Puerto Rico.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Puerto Rico is 100 miles long by 35 miles wide, and as a result of its geographical position in the center of the arc of the Antilles, the island is essentially a crossroads of Hispanic and Anglo cultures. Close to 4 million people live on the "Island of Enchantment," with more than a million in the greater San Juan metropolitan area alone. It is a vibrant, bilingual, multicultural society, which has been molded by Spanish, African, Indian and U.S. influences. With easy flights from the U.S. and no passport needed for travel, Puerto Rico is a great option for the perfect getaway.
For leisure travelers with varying budgets looking for a convenient vacation, I took a closer look at Puerto Rico and spent one day vacationing on a budget and one day vacationing in luxury. Here’s what I found:
I arrived at the San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino Sunday evening. While most hotels look like ghost towns on Sundays, the Marriott is alive and packed with people in the lobby. Every Thursday - Sunday night the Marriott hosts live music in its lobby bar, which can hold about 500 people. It is common to see locals, as well as hotel guests, partying well into the early morning hours at this hip hangout.
Monday was our budget day, Tony picked us up and drove us into town and to his office at Rent the Bicycle. Tony, and his wife Nancy, own and operate this bicycle tour company, which can accommodate groups from 2-100. We tested out our bikes, fastened our gray helmets and we were off! Tony and Nancy escorted us through Old San Juan and to one of the town’s oldest cafes, Cafe Mallorca, which has some of the best breakfast (and at reasonable prices) you can find. We fueled up on the day’s most important meal and were ready for some serious peddling.
We rode to some of the city’s most beautiful ocean views and historic sites, including Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro. We also stopped at Don Q’s Rum Store for a tasting. Who knew there were some many kinds of rum available? We convinced ourselves we were there for “quality control” and took our job very seriously ;). I tried the Mojito Rum and loved it! We also got to try a cherry limber for the first time...anyone know what that is?
During our ride, a group of us stopped to wait for the others. While we were waiting a small kitten emerged from under a parked car. Shelley and I melted when she meowed. After looking for its mother (or any other cats), we placed our new friend in Shelley’s basket and re-joined our group. Since she also had gray on her head, we named her Helmet, and she is now the official mascot for Rent the Bicycle and a member of Tony and Nancy’s family. When you visit Puerto Rico, be sure to check on Helmet for us.
After our ride and working up an appetite, we stopped for lunch at Restaurant El Jibarito, which serves some authentic Puerto Rican delights. It is located in the charming Old San Juan downtown, where the brick streets are lined with colorful buildings that house shops, art galleries, restaurants and more.
We arrived back at the hotel for some R&R at their beautiful beach and pool. The Marriott is located directly on Condado Beach, which is absolutely beautiful. In addition to the beach, they have a huge pool (several), complete with fun slide, as well as a separate children’s pool. A new and unique feature at the hotel is the their YouTube concierge, which will stop by the pool area, video tape you on vacation and upload it so you can share your getaway with family and friends back home. Very cool!
Just a short drive from the hotel, we enjoyed dinner at Marisqueria Atlantica, in Isla Verde, where our favorite food there was, unexpectedly, the Codfish Doughnuts (yum). After a full and delicious meal at Atlantica, it was off to the Marriott’s Stellaris Casino where we received free blackjack lessons from Omar, who was a wonderful teacher. The Stellaris offers free gambling lessons every day of the week, with a different game featured each evening.