Monday, February 28, 2011

Girls Getaway to Jamaica - Day 1

What could be better than a tropical Girls Getaway to the third largest island in the Caribbean? As we found out, not much!! I arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica (a very convenient 2+ hour direct flight from Orlando) around 9:30 a.m. While still a bit sleepy from my early wake up time of 5:00 a.m., I was thrilled to see a man holding a sign with my name on it before I even got close to the immigration line. Oliver introduced himself as a representative from the Jamaica Tourism Board and quickly took me to the “no-wait” line, which was very nice. As we picked up my luggage and found my transportation, I had to laugh at the bar outside the airport terminal, the Groovy Grouper Beach Bar. If the airport provided that kind of atmosphere, this was sure to be a good trip!

I arrived at Round Hill Hotel & Villas and got settled into our villa around 11:00 a.m. Coleen and Joan took me on a tour of the house and offered to prepare a late breakfast for me, which I enjoyed while overlooking the water on our elevated hill-top villa. This isn’t just any villa. This is Villa #10 where John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned and where Ralph Lauren stayed during his visits to Round Hill before he built his own place. The villa is complete with four bedrooms and four baths, a kitchen, a private pool and hot tub overlooking the ocean, lovely indoor and outdoor sitting areas and our own love birds (Lemon and Lime).

After changing into resort attire, I decided to explore the property. Round Hill originally opened in 1953 and was conceived by Jamaican-born entrepreneur, John Pringle, whose mother was a social fixture and owned the former Sunset Lodge Hotel in Montego Bay. The 100-acre peninsula was part of Lord Monson's huge Round Hill Estate which was first a sugar plantation and later grew coconuts and pimento.

Prominent American and European socialites, literati and artists were invited to build "cottages" (hardly cottages by normal standards) and to invest in the hotel. Shareholders then included Sir Noel Coward, Adele Astaire, Lord and Lady Ednam, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Hammerstein and Viscount and Viscountess Rothermere.

After some beach time, I made my way back to our pool where I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was thrilled to see that the other girls had arrived at the villa. Donna, Kirsten and Ariane would be my villa roomies for the next two nights. They got settled in and we all changed attire for a festive dinner as it was Jamaica Night at Round Hill, which includes talented artists performing tricks, stunts and dances while we dine. These performers are amazing! They ate fire, balanced lawn chairs on their forehead and lit a cigarette while they limboed blindfolded. Guests of all ages joined in the fun! The buffet was delicious and provided something for everyone to enjoy. Speaking of enjoyment, one of our group members enjoyed “The Big Bamboo,” which became a joke throughout the trip.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fabulous Festival Destinations

Some of the best trips are the ones that include celebrating with the locals, and one of the best ways to do that is to plan your trip to coincide with that destination's key festival or parties. Where to go and what to celebrate, you ask? Here are a few recommendations for some of the most unique, most traditional, zaniest and most indulgent festivals we found.

Trinidad Carnival (March)

  • Trinidad is located in southeastern region of the Caribbean and considered the ‘cultural capital of the Caribbean,’ home to the world famous Carnival and is birthplace of the steel pan drum
  • One of the most explosive, colorful and culturally diverse pre-Lenten celebrations in the world, Trinidad Carnival.
  • With a mix of pulsating rhythms and jubilant participants, the festival is known for bringing people together for a celebration infused by rich traditions, calypso and cuisine.
  • Trinidad’s Carnival is not a typical join in, sing, dance and are completely immersed in the festivities.
  • Other countries host their own Carnival celebration each year, but Trinidad unique components, such as Panorama, Kings and Queens Costume Competition, Kiddies Carnival, and Masquerade Band of the Year, make it stand out from the rest.
  • I’ve heard from Carnival goers that it makes Mardi Gras in New Orleans look tame.

Montreal - Circus Arts Festival (July)
If you ever thought about running away and joining the circus, you will find your opportunity in Montreal at the Circus Arts Festival in July. Home of Cirque du Soleil and the National Circus School, the festival-loving Montreal dominates the modern-day circus world as top performers from around the globe convene in the city to display their mind-bending contortions, flips, juggling, balancing, clowning, flying and other physical feats! The city becomes a mecca of tents and offers thrilling performances everywhere from the Big Top to the streets.
  • What’s great about Montréal? A taste of Europe (think France) that is close to home. Offering great history, culture, cuisine, (even Underground shopping) in just a 2.5 hour direct flight from Florida.
  • Each season, Tourisme Montréal offers a Sweet Deal with 50% off hotel nights at over 20 participating hotels. The Winter Sweet Deal is on now, with rates starting at just $115 for the first night and 50% off the second (through May 31). The Summer Sweet Deal will follow with 50% off the third night’s stay.
  • While in Montréal for the Circus Arts Festival, you might want to also check out the following new attractions: Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology: The Exhibit and The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

Iowa State Fair - Des Moines, Iowa (August)
Featured in the New York Times’ "1000 Places to See Before You Die" as one of the world's must-see events, and named the #2 choice for summer fun in America by USA Weekend, the internationally-acclaimed Iowa State Fair annually attracts more than a million fun-lovers from around the world.
Special features include one of the world's largest livestock shows, the country's largest state fair foods department (approx. 900 classes), the state's largest arts show, hundreds of competitive events and wacky contests; 600 plus exhibitors and concessionaires selling quality and tasty treats, and 160 rolling acres of campgrounds. President Obama and his family enjoyed their visit to the Iowa State Fair.

Eurochocolate - Perugia, Italy (October)
Perugia is Umbria’s capital city, known as the ‘green heart of Italy’, and the area, with its fascinating array of mediaeval towns and hilltop villages, is a popular tourist destination. The city is about 100 miles from Rome and Florence and is easily accessed by road and train.
Perugia’s Eurochocolate Festival, an annual nine-day event in October that is famous throughout the world, is the most popular chocolate festival in Europe.
Scramble for free trimmings as chocolate artists carve huge sculptures out of the massive blocks of dark chocolate, peruse the many exhibitions and live demonstrations, and enjoy the free tastings, when samples of chocolate from all over the world, including Vietnam, Cuba, Bolivia and Papua New Guinea, are handed out.
  • The city’s charming promenades are filled with vendors – more than 700 booths offer an incredible array of goodies made with chocolate – pasta, salami, liquors, cheeses, desserts, drinks and a vast array of pastries, cakes and candies.
  • For relaxation, enjoy the aromatherapy sessions that utilize cocoa and chocolate facemasks. The Eurochocolate festival showcases the latest in chocolate beauty treatments.
  • Where to stay? The Etruscan Chocohotel in Perugia is the first hotel in the world dedicated to chocolate. The Etruscan Chocohotel houses a delightful restaurant where you can dine from a traditional Italian menu accompanied by a selection of fine wines and of course, a Choco-Menu for dessert. A well-stocked Chocostore with products from the best chocolate producers, together with curiosities and gadgets from the four corners of the planet is based in the hotel: here guests may sample and purchase chocolate from all over the world. On the last floor of the Etruscan Chocohotel, there is a wonderful panoramic terrace, with roof garden and swimming pool, waiting for you for some moments of relaxation.

  • Cleveland is the birthplace of rock ‘n roll.
  • Representing 117 different ethnicities and home to internationally renowned chefs, Cleveland is quickly becoming the culinary epicenter of the Midwest.
  • University Circle, located just minutes from downtown Cleveland, is the most concentrated square mile of arts & cultural institutions in the country
  • A trip to Cleveland will cost you just a fraction of the price you’d pay in bigger cities – and you won’t sacrifice any of that ‘big city’ experience.

And Clevelandites love their festivals, so there is a lot to choose from. Some of my faves:
  • Duct Tape Festival (June) - 3-day celebration of duct tape with fashion, sculptures, games and a parade
  • National Hamburger Festival (July) - tastings, competitive eating contests, live music and even a Miss Hamburger Festival. The best is the Hamburger Dunking Contest where contestants must bob in a vat of ketchup to retrieve a burger!
  • Chalk Festival (September) - festival goers can adorn their own patch of sidewalk with their own Monet....out of chalk
  • Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival (August) - 10-days and 700,000 people hot air balloon rides, concerts, races and more

Friday, February 18, 2011

Girls Getaway to Tennessee

This month's Girlfriend Getaway photo was submitted by Audrey O’Berry of Trinity, TX. She writes:

"During Christmas Break 2010, I took my two teenage daughters on our own Girls Getaway to Tennessee. While in Memphis, we toured Graceland, stayed at the Heartbreak Hotel, ate lunch at the Diner on grounds (Amanda said it was the best chili of her life). While in Nashville, we went to a George Straight concert, toured the Frist Museum for Visual Arts, drove through the historic section and looked at old homes and also a Christmas Land of Lights just outside of town. On our last day, Amy took the prospective student tour at Vanderbilt and we shopped the Green Hill Mall."

Photo at Graceland

Monday, February 14, 2011

Create Passionate Lasting Love in 2011

My friend, best-selling author Dr. Diana Kirschner, has just launched her brand new book, Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love, in time for Valentine's Day!!! This book has such a powerful love-life impact that 14 luminaries from Dr. Christiane Northrup to Arielle Ford are raving about it. This revolutionary guide has had an enormous effect on all those who have read it.

John Gray, himself, puts it this way: Dr. Diana understands the mysteries of committed passionate love. There’s nothing like hearing it from a Pro who walks the talk and even shares her own personal journey. Follow Dr. Diana’s lasting love program and you’ll go from casual to committed and deliriously-in-love.
Learn how to deepen any relationship—if you have been dating two months, on & off for 10 years, married, or in any relationship where you feel uncertain or afraid that it is ending.

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In this COMPREHENSIVE, STEP-BY-STEP guide Dr. Diana will introduce you to dozens of women of ALL AGES who have found the love that is their heart’s calling. And more importantly, she will show you exactly how to create love that is just right for you.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Romantic Getaways - Daytime TV Show

Looking for a fabulous romantic getaway to share with your love one? Look no further than The Getaway Girl's recommendations she recently shared on the Daytime TV Show. To watch, visit

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Even Groundhogs Need a Getaway!

While today’s nor’easter piles on more snow and sleet from Virginia to New England, Florida residents have been reporting groundhog sightings across the Sunshine State since January 26 – a full week ahead of Groundhog Day.

Warmth in Florida, such as 75 degrees in Miami, is thought to be behind the sightings.

“Florida doesn’t usually get an influx of groundhogs until after they do their forecasts, but this winter, there’s really nothing left to predict: It’s freezing up there and it’s warm down here,” said Kenneth Morgan, spokesman for VISIT FLORIDA. Of all 50 states, Florida alone has had no snow on the ground this winter.

Proof yet, that even groundhogs need a getaway!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Romantic Getaways

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's not too early to think about a romantic getaway. Here are some beautiful places to consider:

Cumberland Island, GA

Cumberland Island is located off the southern tip of Georgia and is designated a National Park and protected from development. The island was the 19th-century retreat of the Carnegie family who built the romantic Greyfield Mansion for their daughter. If it sounds familiar, that is because this island is where JFK Jr got married, and Greyfield, which was converted into an Inn, is where the wedding guests and couple stayed. The Inn features historic elegance coupled with contemporary luxuries every guest will enjoy. The award-winning Inn’s private ferry will escort you to the island where you’ll enjoy Southern hospitality in a natural, pristine setting. Guests enjoy the white sandy beaches, wild horses roaming the island, kayaking, birding, biking, hiking, swimming and fishing. The Inn has a naturalist on staff to ensure guests enjoy the island’s romantic and tranquil setting. History buffs will also enjoy the Dungeness ruins and historic church (where JFK Jr got married).

Aspen is known for being the Rocky Mountain playground of the rich and famous, but this authentic mountain town offers more than just glitz and glam. Aspen is consistently rated one of the world's top ski areas, and ski-in, ski-out lodges are the norm. Other winter activities include ice skating, snow mobile rides and horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Despite its winter reputation, the town is a year-round destination. Spring brings abundant wildflowers in the alpine meadows, Maroon Bells offer excellent hiking with breathtaking views in the summer, and dense, golden aspen groves are a sight to behold in autumn. The area also attracts mountain bikers, kayakers, rafters, and rock climbers to explore its wonders throughout the warmer months. 

Aspen also draws travelers to its urban cultural scene, which belies its small-town charm. Art aficionados rub shoulders with wine connoisseurs and concert-goers, culinary epicures and fashion mavens vie for reservations at Aspen’s hot-spot restaurants, and people flock from around the world to high-profile events like the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen and X Games. And for anyone wanting to lay their head in Aspen, accommodations run from posh to economical, ensuring everyone feels welcome.

Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation, hence the state’s 42-year old slogan, Virginia is for lovers! Couples looking to slip away for a weekend to reconnect have been coming to Virginia for years. Virginia’s natural hot springs soothe the mind as well as the body, while signature indulgences abound at spas across the Commonwealth. Escape to Virginia’s winter wonderland of four mountain resorts or sample award-winning wines from more than 160 wineries. Perhaps even more exhilarating is seeing wildlife migrate just off the coast. Slope newbies and pros alike will be thrilled with the opportunities at Virginia’s ski areas. From snowboarding and tubing to downhill and cross-country skiing, whatever you desire in a white powder vacation, you’ll find at a Virginia mountain resort. Plus, Virginia's 3,000 miles of coastline equals sunshine adventures for surfing, sailing and sun bathing.

Greek Isles
The Greek Islands are a collection of over 6,000 islands that belong to Greece. Only 227 of the islands are inhabited, and only 78 of those have more than 100 inhabitants. The Greek island vacation spots have always captured the hearts of many sun-loving travelers, but for me it was watching the amazing scenery in the movie Mama Mia (with Meryl Streep) that sold me. These islands are blessed with beautiful beaches that many of us expect from about an island, but the beautiful architecture and unique landscapes make this destination truly unique and ultra romantic.
Santorini - As you look at Santorini’s caldera and turquoise, you’ll find it difficult not to fall in love with and in Santorini. No wonder it’s one of the world’s top romantic destinations and popular as a honeymoon getaway and a wedding destination. More than 3,500 years ago, Santorini witnessed an awesome volcanic explosion that occurred in the Aegean Sea and, as a result created, a huge caldera that is about four miles in diameter. It is undoubtedly one of the natural wonders of the earth as it dramatically altered the Mediterranean coast.
Mykonos - If you’re off to party in Greece, to shop in some of Europe’s most fashionable shops or to brush shoulders with the rich and the famous, the island of Mykonos is without a doubt, one of the best Greek island vacation spots. Picture white buildings and golden beaches covered with bronze bodies. It is young and hip with jetsetters from around the world.