Top 8 Wellness Retreats for Mothers/Daughters 2017

Mother’s Day has always been a very special time for me because the day I became a mother was the best day of my life.  And when I became a mother, I suddenly found that I had more in common with my own mother than I ever knew.

As you know, I often do girls trips with my mom, my girls — you might notice our #GirlsTrip on social media.  Well here are 8 great mother/daughter wellness retreats available around and after Mother’s Day:

Culinary Retreat

Any 7 nights April 1 thru to Sept 30

Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bangalore, India

Best for: Mother/daughters looking for an exotic destination to learn about a new culture and experiment with a cuisine based on the principles of Ayurveda and Naturopathy.

http://www.shreyasretreat.com/culinary-retreat.htm

Weight Loss/Hiking Retreat

Season open May 11 – October 2

New Life Hiking Spa, Vermont

Best for: Mothers/daughters with a love of hiking and looking to loose weight and/or tone up in a casual, nature-embraced setting.http://newlifehikingspa.com


Panchakarma Detox Retreat

May 13 – 21, June 17 – 25

Art of Living Retreat Center, North Carolina

Best for: Mothers/daughters looking for a guided, weeklong cleanse with meditation, yoga and spa treatments in a peaceful setting surrounded by gentle rolling hills and mountains. http://artoflivingretreatcenter.org


Clean Living Experience with Tosca Reno

June 1 – 4, 2017

Round Hill, Jamaica

Best for: Mothers/daughters wanting to learn new ways to eat healthy, understand the right foods for the various body types, and looking for a luxury seaside setting.

http://www.myretreatsunlimited.com/clean-living-experience-jamaica

Spring Detox Retreat with Larissa Hall Carson

June 15 – 18

Gateway Canyons Resort, Colorado

Best for: Mother/daughters looking for a detox yoga weekend with stunning nature trails in an inspirational mountain setting.

http://www.myretreatsunlimited.com/spring-detox-retreat


TravelingMom’s Yoga/Photography Retreat

October 13 – 15

Le Monastère des Augustine, Quebec City

Best for: Mother/daughters looking for a yoga retreat plus an opportunity to learn how to improve their photography skills in a hotel and city with historic significance.

http://www.travelingmom.com/quebec-city-photography-yoga-retreat

Guided Biking Tour

October 14-21 & Oct 28-Nov 4

Butterfield & Robinson, Vietnam & Laos

Best for: Mother/daughters who are fit and fearless and looking for an upscale cycling adventure in an exotic location.

http://www.butterfield.com/trip/vietnam-laos-biking


Endless Summer Yoga Retreat with Dina Ivas

October 22 – 25

Beach House, Turks & Caicos

Best for: Mother/daughters looking for a beachfront boutique resort with twice daily yoga, plus breath work, guided meditation and healthy meals.

http://www.myretreatsunlimited.com/endless-summer-yoga-retreat-dina-ivas

These suggestions were provided by mother/daughter travel experts, Anne Dimon and Julia.  They have crisscrossed the globe, writing about exotic countries and cultures over 35 years of cumulative travel expertise.

Anne has been a travel writer and industry journalist for over 20 years contributing to publications in the U.S. Canada, the U.K. and Asia. In 2004, she launched TravelToWellness.com, the first online travel magazine for the wellness-minded. Considered a wellness travel expert, Anne speaks on the subject and has consulted on projects for companies such as the New York Times and Virtuoso.

Julia Dimon is a hard-core adventuress, a travel journalist, and on-air TV travel personality who has traveled to over 80 countries and all seven continents. As the co-host of Word Travels, a 40-episode TV series broadcast worldwide on National Geographic Adventure and Travel Channel UK, Julia has been featured as a travel expert by CNN, ABC Nightline, New York Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel & Leisure, Forbes Traveler, MSNBC, E! News, Outside Magazine and Travel Channel. She is also the author of Travel Junkie: A Badass Guide to Solo Female Travel. Her newest and most challenging adventure is being Mom to two little travel junkies in training.

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Luxury Blue Haven and Beach House Resorts, Turks & Caicos


Tucked away in the Leeward area of Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, Blue Haven Resort provides a secluded and tranquil vacation on a private beach. Blue Haven offers spacious rooms and suites furnished with contemporary décor, two restaurants, a gourmet Market, Elevate Spa, a gym and Sandpiper Kids Club. Suites include a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, spacious bedrooms with ensuites, and a private terrace or balcony. 

I don’t know about you, but that description had my attention INSTANTLY! Turks & Caicos is one of my favorite vacation destinations and a must for your travel bucket list. I visited in Fall of 2015 with my girls and they’re still talking about what a fun trip we had.

Blue Haven Resort, one of the island’s newest and most luxurious properties, is extending a warm welcome to everyone wishing to enjoy a tropical beach getaway with 40% off all its two bedroom suites through April 15, 2017.
Blue Haven Resort’s rates include a daily full American buffet breakfast, free Wi-Fi property wide, Sandpiper Kids Club, and a free dining shuttle to their sister properties!

Guests staying at Blue Haven Resort may also take the free shuttle to use beach facilities at sister property Beach House on Grace Bay Beach. This complimentary service includes use of sun beds, towels, umbrellas, non motorized water sports and beach attendant service. Reservations are required.

Blue Haven Resort is affiliated with Stash, the loyalty rewards program for independent hotels. Membership is free, and points never expire.


Learn more at http://www.bluehaventci.com.
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Spend a Week in the Italian Riviera or a Tuscan Castle with Perillo’s ItalyVacations

We currently have a member of our team, Kristina, touring France, Italy and Spain right now with her family, so I thought it would be fitting to share some great travel options if you are looking to visit Italy yourself.  These deal are offered by Perillo Tours’ sister-brand, Perillo’s ItalyVacations:

Perillo’s ItalyVacations’ NEW 8-Day Italian Riviera & Lake Como, starting at $1,483 per person, double, (LAND ONLY), divides time between the picturesque Italian Riviera villages of Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino and San Fruttuoso and the iconic paradise of Lake Como. 

  • Pricing includes accommodations and internal transfers; guests may explore both waterfronts at their leisure, and may choose to add on optional activities, such as side trips to Cinque Terre or Lake Lugano (for an additional fee). 
  • Itinerary at a Glance:
    • Depart USA
    • Arrival in Italy! Transfer from Milan to Santa Margherita Ligure
    • Private – Best of the Italian Riviera
    • Free Day in Santa Margherita Ligure
    • Transfer from Santa Margherita Ligure to Como
    • Private – Best of Como
    • Free Day in Como
    • Transfer from Como to Malpensa Airport – Depart Milan, Italy to US

Or, for those who prefer to spend their time “under the Tuscan sun” Perillo’s ItalyVacations is also offering a 9-Day Tuscan Castle Stay itinerary, starting at $539 per person, double, (LAND ONLY), which bases guests at Montegufoni Castle in the famous Chianti wine region of Tuscany and includes car rental so they may explore nearby cities of Florence, Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano and more at their leisure.

  • Spend a week driving in a Tuscan wonderland! With the incredible Montegufoni Castle as your home base, you are never more than an hour’s drive from any of Tuscany’s lovely cities, towns and villages. Visit as much of the region as you like, or spend as much time as you like taking in the beautiful grounds of this medieval castle.
    • Includes 7 nights at Montegufoni Castle and 7 day Car Rental
These are amazing deals that I suggest you take advantage of if you are starting to plan your trip to Italy.  These packages are priced similarly to a cruise, but offer a unique different view of Italy.
 

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Hidden Fees on Cruises – What You Need to Know and How to Get Around Them

We were hosted by Carnival Cruise Line.

While on our recent Mexican Riviera cruise with Carnival, we were able to meet up with a family member who lives in Cabo San Lucas six months out of the year.  She mentioned that she would never do another cruise because there are too many hidden costs.  This got me thinking…

It seems to me that there is confusion when it comes to the gratuities, purchasing beverages, and any other extras on board a cruise, so I just wanted to list out some “hidden” fees you can expect to see on your end-of-cruise bill.

Some Things You Have to Pay for on the Carnival Miracle

  • Casino (if charged to your Sail and Sign card)
  • Gratuities (per person in your cabin) – Ours were $90.65 per person; total: $362.60)
  • Alcoholic Beverages, Sodas and Specialty Coffees
  • Build-A-Bear At Sea Products (Bears are around $26, clothes around $12)
  • Cat in the Hat Breakfast Party ($5 per person)
  • Arcade Games (if charged to your Sail and Sign card)
  • Excursions (if booked through the cruise line)
  • Specialty Dining (Nick & Noras Steakhouse,$35 per person; Chef’s Table, $75 per person)
  • Internet Access (I paid for the $119 package for the week)
  • 15% Bar Gratuity each time you buy a drink
  • Camp Ocean, 10pm and later (Camp Ocean is free until 10pm)
  • Extra Games (ex. BINGO, Beer Pong Tournament, etc.)
Having been on a handful of cruises, I knew to expect the “hidden” fees.  Plus, we always tip our room steward extra and tip our favorite bar tenders extra on top of the 15% bar gratuities that are included in our bill.  We typically budget around $800 for our end-of-cruise bill for our family of 4, but we don’t usually spend this much.

Way to Get Around “Hidden” Fees on a Cruise Ship

I have discovered a few ways to get around some of the “hidden” fees on cruise ship:
Onboard Credit When Booking
Taking advantage of Carnival’s sales and check with your travel agent to see if they are offering any onboard credit.  This is a great way to rack up some credit to spend onboard on things like beverages.  My favorite travel agency is AvoyaTravel.com because they are always offering great bonuses.
Purchase the Beverage Packages

Depending on the types of beverages you plan to be drinking, Carnival offers great beverage packages for the entire family.  You can pre-purchase drinks to keep in your room, like waters, sodas and beer, you can purchase the wine package or the bottomless bubbles package.  Learn more here.


Cruise Loyalty Program Rewards
Carnival has a great program that they call the VIFP program.  If you sail more than once with Carnival, you have the potential to earn lots of great rewards including cabin upgrades, complimentary water bottles, arcade credits and more.
Cruise Cash
This option allows you to purchase credits in increments of $25, $50, $75 and $100 to be applied to your Sail & Sign account so you don’t have to worry about paying after the cruise.  This is a great option for budgeting and is something I recommend you do.
Bring Your Own Drinks (limited) – read more here.

  • Bringing Liquor and Beverages Onboard – Embarkation
    • Guests are prohibited from bringing water, sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages onboard that are packaged in bottles.
    • A small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages (i.e., sparkling water, sodas, juice, and milk) packaged in cans or cartons may be brought onboard on embarkation day and must be in the guest’s carry-on luggage. A small quantity is considered a maximum of 12 sealed, unopened cans/cartons of 12 ounces each or less per person.
    • Guests are prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages on board with the following exception – At the beginning of the cruise during embarkation day only, guests (21 years of age and older) may bring one 750 ml bottle of sealed/unopened wine or champagne per person in their carry-on luggage. All liquor, beer, other forms of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages outside of this exception are strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked luggage and such items will be confiscated and discarded and no compensation will be provided.
      • A $15 USD corkage fee, per 750 ml bottle, will be charged should guests wish to consume their wine or champagne in the main dining room, steakhouse or bar. A corkage fee is a charge exacted at a restaurant for every bottle served that was not bought on the premises.

  • Bottled Water
    • We know some of our guests are accustomed to bringing on their own supply of bottled water so as part of this policy we have significantly reduced the pricing for (purified) bottled water which will be conveniently delivered directly to your stateroom. Once onboard, the purchase is non-refundable; guests may take home any unopened bottles.
      • Pricing is as follows: 
        • $4.50 USD for a 12-pack of bottled water (16.9 fluid ounce per bottle) for pre-cruise purchase. Please visit The Fun Shops at www.carnival.com/FunShops/in-stateroom-beverages/water to place your order before your cruise to ensure we have an ample supply onboard.
        • $4.50 USD (plus gratuity) for a 12-pack of bottled water (16.9 fluid ounce per bottle) for purchase onboard by contacting Room Service.
  • Distilled Water
    • Guests may bring on board distilled water for use with a CPAP machine or nursery water for families with babies and packed in carry-on luggage.Distilled water may also be purchased onboard at $3.00 USD per gallon by contacting Room Service. The CPAP machine must be packed in carry-on luggage.
  • Coolers
    • Guests are prohibited from bringing large coolers onboard since screening and movement of large coolers through embarkation is an impediment to the boarding and security process. However small, personal-sized coolers, no larger than 12” x 12” x 12” for the purpose of housing small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages and/or medications are permitted as carry-on luggage.
You see, there aren’t really “hidden” fees on a cruise.  There are just things that you never thought to consider when booking your cruise.  Not only do you have to pay for transportation to the cruise terminal and the actual cruise itself, but you should budget for the extra spending you’ll be doing on the ship.  Planning ahead is always a good idea and expecting the unexpected is a must!
Do you have any other tips or tricks to share?  Leave me a comment!

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Las Caletas Beach Hideaway, Kids Adventure Park, Puerto Vallarta 2017

If you are visiting Puerto Vallarta on a cruise ship, Las Caletas is my absolute favorite excursion that I recommend you experience.  I have now visited Las Caletas via Vallarta Adventures twice and it never disappoints.  This excursion is loaded with lots of beach time, amazing food, endless drinks, animal encounters and so much more.

Something great about Las Caletas is they have their own photographers that are there to capture every moment for you, so you can enjoy your time on this excursion without having to worry about being behind the camera.  You can purchase a USB stick with all of your photos for $100 – and it’s totally worth it!

The Las Caletas Beach Hideaway excursion is great for any age, and they now have even more to offer for kids ages 5 and up.  The adventure kids park is loaded with fun including zip lines, donkey rides, face painting, wall climbing and more.

Here are some of my favorite moments:

The entertainment on the boat ride to and from Las Caletas is also so much fun.  The staff puts on quite a show, but I don’t want to spoil the fun for you.  You’ll have to book the excursion to see what I mean…

Outfits:
My dress: Tobi.com
My Sunglasses: Steve Madden
Kendall’s Flag Swimsuit: Rockin’ Baby
Charlotte’s Floral Swimsuit and Swim Shirt: Tea Collection (affiliate)

Learn more about Las Caletas Beach Hideaway:  http://www.vallarta-adventures.com/tours/las-caletas-day-trip

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4 Things You Need To Do Before Your Trip To Venice

Venice in the south of Italy is something of a magical destination. It is located out in a lagoon, which you have to travel over by boat to reach. As you approach it, small island seem to appear out of the water some with trees, other with ruined buildings on. Until you finally get to Venice proper which is a marvel of medieval architecture canals and bridges. As you can tell you in for a wonderful time! But to make your trip even more wonderful, there are a few thing you need to do before you get there Read on to find out what they are.

Book your accommodations

So the number one thing you need to do when visiting Venice is to book your accommodation. Unless You are feeling super rich, it might be better to book a campsite or chalet across the lagoon. Space is very limited and at a high premium in Venice itself, which make hotel stays exorbitant.


It’s pretty easy to get the regular ferries across and back each day, so it not too much of a bother to stay off site in this way.

Sort your transport

The next thing you need to do is work out how you are going to get to Venice. Some folks choose to fly into Venice Marco Polo Airport. But its name is deceptive as of course it’s located on the mainland too.

If you are traveling from Europe, then it is possible to drive to Venice apart from the last bit or take a train. You can find out more about this here.

Identify activities you want to do

The next thing to get out of the way before you start your trip is taking some time to identify what activities you would like to do.

Of course, there are some property well-established traditions in this area. Such as visits the Doge’s Palace, having a coffee is St Mark’s Square and riding on a gondola through the canals. You can even book a gondola Venice tour over the internet while you are still at home. Just to make things that little bit easier.

You should also take some time to visit the Merino Glass Works. Where you can see traditional glassblowing, and purchase some fantastic souvenirs to take home with you.


Make a packing list

Lastly, you would be remiss if you didn’t make a list of all the things that you need to pack for your vacation. If you are staying for a short time in the summer, you can probably get away with just a carry-on bag.

Pack light by including a capsule wardrobe with lots of faulty fabric and lined, as the sun gets pretty warm in this part of Italy. It’s also a great idea to pack some mosquito repellent as being by the water in the summertime can leave you vulnerable to their attacks.

Also, ensure you have some incredibly comfy shoes as well. As although Venice is relatively small, it certainly doesn’t feel that way when you are walking around it all day!

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Camana Bay — The Town on Grand Cayman That Stole My Heart

Grand Cayman is one of three islands that make up the Caymans Islands.  It is the largest of the three islands and it sits 75 miles southwest of Little Cayman and 90 miles southwest of Cayman Brac.  This 75 square mile island has much to offer, but I want to share with you a little town that stole my heart (and made me want to move) — Camana Bay!

Just a short drive from Grand Cayman’s capital city of Georgetown lies a hidden gem of a town that is bursting with liveliness and family-friendly fun.  I have never visited such a community-oriented Caribbean town that truly goes out of their way to get everyone involved, making it fun for all.   From holiday celebrations, to gatherings at the local bookstore to farmers/artisans markets and beyond – Camana Bay is a traveler’s dream.

If you are looking to visit a low-key, classy yet casual area of Grand Cayman, Camana Bay is the town for you.  You can enjoy the variety of shopping and dining that Camana bay has to offer, while also keeping the kids entertained.  Let them run on the lawn or indulge in the many flavors of Gelato from Gelato & Co. – or take a break and let the kids play in the fountains or at Starfish Village while you dine.


Credit: Chad Munro of Picture This Studios

Dining

Camana Bay’s Town Centre offers over a dozen dining, drink and dessert options.  Some of my favorite to dine at with the kids were KARoo, The Brooklyn Pizza & Pasta, and Mizu Asian Bistro (outside at the teppanyaki table). We also enjoyed breakfast sandwiches, smoothies and juices from Jesse’s Juice Bar and LOTS of Gelato from Gelato & Co.

Abacus

Known for its chic design and lounge culture, Abacus combines sophisticated city dining with Caribbean ease. With a focus on sustainable farm-to-table cuisine, the weekly changing lunch and dinner menus are organized ‘By Land’ and ‘By Sea’ while the all-day tapas menu is perfect for dining with friends and sampling an array of dishes. Local produce also inspires the artistically crafted cocktail menu with drinks featuring seasonal fruits sourced directly from Cayman’s farmers. The restaurant offers two distinct experiences with seating in the warmly lit, modern dining room and outside on the shaded patio surrounded by palm trees and cool breezes.


Bay Market

Bay Market, a division of Foster’s Food Fair, is a gourmet, speciality food store with a focus on organic, vegetarian and vegan items. In addition to a wide-ranging selection of organic produce and pantry essentials, Bay Market offers made-to-order breakfast dishes, salads and sandwiches, healthy to-go meals prepared daily, a mouthwatering antipasto and olive bar, an impressive variety of international cheeses, a full-service espresso and coffee bar and much more.

The Brooklyn Pizza + Pasta

Experience Italian-inspired American favorites with a twist at The Brooklyn Pizza + Pasta. This waterfront restaurant transports diners into a laidback, urban setting where the industrial-chic décor matches the edgy and flavor-packed menu. Versatile in its appeal, The Brooklyn is the ideal spot for a family meal, business lunch or date night. The tempting menu features globally inspired brick-oven pizzas, contemporary Italian-American comfort food and an extensive wine list.

Café del Sol

Start your morning with the welcoming aromas of gourmet coffee and buttery pastries at the charming Café del Sol. Grab a freshly prepared salad or sandwich for lunch, enjoy a refreshing smoothie while strolling through the Town Centre, or curl up in a cosy armchair with a good read from Books & Books, conveniently located next door. Wireless Internet access and computer stations are also available.

Gelato & Co. Cremeria Italiana

Journey to Italy with Gelato & Co. Cremeria Italiana’s authentic, handcrafted Italian ice creams, sorbets and desserts. For incredible taste and freshness, Gelato & Co. whips up new, from-scratch treats every day using the finest ingredients. Choose from over 26 delectable gelato flavours, indulge in a ready-to-eat cake or pudding from the dessert bar, or opt for a dairy- and fat-free sorbet – often made using seasonal local fruit.




Häagen-Dazs


Häagen-Dazs, the leading brand in premium ice cream, offers a sumptuous selection of fine ice cream, sorbets and smoothies. Indulge in tempting flavors including dulce de leche and vanilla caramel brownie or enjoy a guilt-free treat like lemon, mango or raspberry sorbet. Häagen-Dazs also serves coffees, soft drinks and pastries.

Jessie’s Juice Bar

Jessie’s Juice Bar’s philosophy is simple: let your food be your medicine, not your demise. The popular juice bar serves up liquid refreshments boasting a range of health benefits, from freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices and assorted smoothies to loose-leaf teas, gourmet coffees and kombucha. A select range of health foods is also available, including vegetarian, vegan and raw options that incorporate age-old techniques such as sprouting, dehydrating and fermenting for added nutritional value.


KARoo

KARoo takes diners on a culinary journey with a wide selection of tapas dishes, small plates, tasty sliders and artisan pizzas. Pair the mouthwatering creations with a perfectly chilled glass of wine or pick from their selection of craft beers and crisp designer cocktails. Sit inside to enjoy KARoo’s bustling bar atmosphere or dine al fresco for spectacular views of the sea. With its perfect mix of cosmopolitan urbanism and Caribbean charm, KARoo is the perfect place to watch your favorite sports, grab a drink with friends or enjoy a leisurely meal.


Lola


Lola is a trendy and friendly neighborhood gem, fit for foodies, with a creative menu that gives diners an opportunity to experience a modern spin on their favorite dishes. With everything made fresh from scratch, this chic and cosy bistro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. “Lola After Dark” offers handcrafted signature cocktails, ice-cold draught beers, great wines and freshly squeezed juices, while the in-house bakery and pastry shop specializes in artisan breads, designer cakes, sweet and savory treats and gourmet coffees by Illy. Relax in air-conditioned comfort or dine al fresco on Camana Bay’s vibrant Paseo, the ideal spot for people watching. Catering for events of all sizes is also available.




Mizu Asian Bistro + Bar


Mizu Asian Bistro + Bar, a stylish Asian-inspired restaurant and bar, focuses on finely tuned flavors and fresh, local ingredients for an authentic Pan-Asian menu. Travel to the Far East with barrel-aged sakes, black salt-rimmed margaritas and traditional loose-leaf teas. Dine in Mizu’s intricate Asian-inspired interior or sit at the open sushi bar and watch the chefs carefully prepare your roll. After 4pm, the outside terrace offers a tranquil dining experience along the water’s edge.

Petit Paris

Petit Paris offers an array of baked goods, including fresh breads, flaky croissants, delicious pastries, macarons and cookies, and decadent cakes. Sip on a gourmet coffee or expresso with Nespresso – one of the most popular coffee systems in the world today. For heartier options, they offer a soup of the day, salads, crêpes, sandwiches on freshly baked baguettes, paninis, croque-monsieur and more. In addition, they have pre-packaged sweets like nougat, bonbons, hard candies and biscuits – all imported from France.

The King’s Head

Walking through the double doors of The King’s Head is to be transported in time and space. Sit inside to take in the unique décor or enjoy a view of the water with bar bites and drinks shared atop beer barrels or at the communal tables with traditional bench seating. Pull up a bar stool for a pint and enjoy the company of the bar mascot, Winston. An English bulldog, he embodies his namesake, Mr. Churchill, with his hedonistic appreciation for good food and alcohol and his penchant for relaxation. Chat with the friendly staff, raise a pint to Winston and enjoy a drink the ‘proper old English’ way.

The Waterfront Urban Diner

The Waterfront Urban Diner marries modern city dining with the laidback tropics. Experience quick, feel-good food at an affordable price. Savor American classics and gastro-pub fare made from the freshest local ingredients and enjoy warm hospitality in a charming setting of reclaimed wooden floors, funky industrial lighting and chalkboard writing on the walls. The Waterfront is perfect for an intimate dinner date or a hearty breakfast on the water with the entire family.

West Indies Wine Company

Both a tasting room and an inspired shop, West Indies Wine Company engages guests with a curated selection of 80 different wines by the glass – served at the perfect temperature via state-of-the-art Napa Technology WineStations. Gather for an informal tasting with the in-house sommelier or use your personal smart card to serve yourself. Watch the world go by from the outdoor seating on The Paseo or simply grab your favorite bottle to go – any day of the week.

Shopping

The eclectic variety of shops in Camana Bay are enough to keep you busy all day.  Most shops appeal to both visitors and locals, so you don’t feel like you’re being ripped off just because you’re a visitor.  You won’t find dozens of souvenir shops here, either.  Instead you can expect to find everything from designer fashion, jewelry, skincare, cosmetics, home decor and essentials, tech products, books, toys and more.  Think of it like your local shopping mall, just a little classier.

Tip:  Take advantage of Starfish Village if you have kids!


As I mentioned above, Starfish Village is the perfect place for the kids to play.  It is a unique and innovative children’s enrichment centre where playful learning sparks imagination, creativity, exploration and discovery. Children 0 to 12 years can interact with developmentally appropriate toys and engage in spontaneous play in a well-supervised environment with qualified and enthusiastic staff. Starfish Village offers a full-service Montessori program as well as a traditional preschool program that follows the Cayman Islands early childhood curriculum. Other services include morning and after-school programs, Drop & Play and Stay & Play services, speciality workshops, seasonal camps and birthday parties.

The Observation Tower

The Camana Bay Observation Tower is a structure you don’t want to miss.  This is a 75-foot tower that offers a full panoramic view of the area.  The inside of the tower features a stunning ocean-themed mural made of 3 million Venetian glass tiles.  These tiles took a year to hand cut and 8 months to install.  This tower was fun for both the adults and the kids in our group and is worth the visit.








Kaibo

Just a 20 minute boat taxi ride away from Camana Bay sits a cute little area called Kaibo.  We happened to be in the area for the annual heritage festival and joined local school children as they learned more about their culture.  We found some great home decor and jewelry here, too.

Oh, and you have to try the Mudslides at the Kaibo restaurant!

Living in Camana Bay

You know I couldn’t resist looking up living in Camana Bay.  I absolutely fell in love with this town and wanted to see their living options.  I was pleased to see that they not only have luxury apartment living, but they also have residential living.  You can learn more at www.camanabay.com.


Where to Stay

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A special thank you to Camana Bay for hosting my family.

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2017 San Francisco Visitors Planning Guide

Those of you planning to visit San Francisco this year should pick up the latest copy of the San Francisco Visitors Planning Guide.  It’s always a good idea to plan ahead when visiting this busy city both to avoid looking too much like a tourist (as if that’s a bad thing), and to not waste too much time walking around aimlessly.  I’ve been to San Francisco dozens of times and I still always try to make a plan before visiting.

The guide opens with a brief profile on San Francisco Travel’s Visitor Information Centers. Before visitors make that all essential stop for some face-to-face planning with San Francisco Travel’s local information pros, they can check out what’s new in San Francisco, learn more about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, check out some suggested neighborhood strolls and scope out a list of annual festivals and events for 2017. Tucked in between these stories are some tantalizing features for foodies including an interview with one of the city’s top chefs, Mourad Lahlou and some shopping tips from Cynthia and Jennifer Huie, sisters-owners of the popular boutique on San Francisco’s eclectic Clement Street.

Published annually the guide includes fold-out maps of the city showing major transit lines and the Greater Bay Area, and interviews with local experts including artist Max Gunawan whose Lumio light is making everyone’s “must have” list and Linda Harrison, the charismatic executive director of Museum of the African Diaspora. There are also suggestions for San Francisco’s “most shareable photos” and Facebook fans weigh in on their favorite event in San Francisco.

Each of San Francisco’s major neighborhoods has its own culture and charm and the guide offers brief profiles and “must sees” for 19 areas from Bayview to Union Square.

For regional expeditions there are suggested road trips and an entire section dedicated to “beyond the bridge” with some suggestions for exploring National Park sites in Northern California and wine country expeditions.

The “Getting Around” coverage in the guide includes tips on public transit, driving distances to more than 30 destinations and information on San Francisco International Airport.


To receive a visitor kit, which includes the 96-page San Francisco Visitors Planning Guide, a map and a 20 percent discount on gift items at the Visitor Information Center located at 900 Market St., order online at www.sftravel.com or view online
 San Francisco Planning Guide

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YOU’RE INVITED: HALL’s Cabernet Cookoff, St. Helena – Saturday April 29, 2017 | Pop a Corn & Grab Your Fork

My fellow Northern Californians — if you’re looking for something fun to do in April, come join us at the 8th annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff on Saturday, April 29th at HALL St. Helena from 11am to 2pm.

This event is hosted by Vintner Kathryn Hall and HALL Wines and will feature an impressive lineup of renowned Chef teams vying for a chance to win proceeds for a charity of their choice by participating in a food and wine pairing competition.


100% of ticket proceeds benefit Napa Valley non-profit organizations, so come eat, drink and donate for a good cause.
If you love people, great food and Cabernet, I encourage you to be there.

Chef Teams present perfectly paired seasonal bites with HALL Cabernet to an all-star panel of celebrity Judges who vote for the top dish. Chef teams are also judged by the guests in attendance who select the top two pairings for the title of People’s Choice Award.

Participating Chef teams include The Grill at Meadowood, One Market, Harvest Table, The Patriot, Ca’ Momi, Winery Chefs Napa Valley, Goose & Gander, Paula Le Duc Fine Catering, Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ, Shakewell Oakland, Harris Ranch, Feast Catering, Brix, Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, Kara’s Cupcakes and Sift Dessert Bar.

The Judges

The 2017 panel of judges include Celebrity Chef Duff Goldman from Food Network’s Ace of Cakes; 12-Time Olympic Medalist and Dancing with the Stars Alumni, Natalie Coughlin; Wine Enthusiast Critic, Virginie Boone; Michelin-rated Chef, Ken Frank of La Toque.

Tickets

Two ticket options are available for guests: General Admission as well as a VIP Sky Loft Ticket. The VIP Ticket allows guests early access to a VIP Media Preview from 10a.m to 11am featuring all four Judges and Kathryn Hall sharing insight into what they will be looking for in a food and wine pairing dish during the event. The VIP Sky Loft Ticket also includes full access to the historic Bergfeld Building during the entire event featuring HALL Artisan Cabernets, hosted small bites, and cheese boards prepared by Cypress Grove.



WHAT:
8th Annual HALL Cabernet Cookoff

WHO:
HALL Napa Valley

WHEN:
Saturday, April 29, 2017
10a.m. – 11a.m. (Media/VIP Ticket Preview feat. Kathryn Hall + Judges)
11a.m. – 2p.m. (Main Event)

WHERE:
HALL St. Helena – The Great Lawn
401 St. Helena Hwy. S
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-2626

TICKETS:
General Admission: $90 (Early Bird Ticket: $80 before 3/31/2017)
VIP Sky Loft: $150 (Includes Media/VIP Preview)
Tickets Available: www.hallwines.com/cabernetcookoff

The 2016 HALL Cabernet Cookoff drew more than 750 attendees for a sold-out crowd and raised $59,000 for local charities. The 2016 Judges took on the impressive task of choosing a runner-up and first place winner from dishes like “Cherry Marinated Skirt Steak with Broccolini, Point Reyes Blue, Chive Blossom” or “Black Currant and Rose Macaroon with HALL Cabernet infused Geleé”. Mark Dommen from One Market Restaurant in San Francisco took first place with his mouth-watering “Pancetta Wrapped Passmore Ranch Sturgeon Du Puy Lentils, Smoked Garlic, Thyme Jus” benefiting non-profit Collabria Care of Napa. Ca’Momi placed runner-up with a delectable “Heirloom Pork & Veal Agnolotti, Savoy Cabbage, Napa Valley Cabernet Pan Jus and Parmigiano Reggiano” aiding the organization Do It For The Love of Napa. Restaurants also had the opportunity to raise money for their charity through People’s Choice, a voting system with corks serving as the tallies. First place for People’s Choice was Napa restaurant, Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ, preparing “Fried Chicken with Spring Succotash” with the winnings benefiting Napa Humane. Paula LeDuc Fine Catering of San Francisco took runner up of People’s Choice with the “HALL Cabernet Roasted Strawberries with White Chocolate Crumble and Mascarpone Cream,” partnering with non-profit St. Helena Hospital.

Since inception in 2011, the HALL Cabernet Cookoff has raised $300,000 for Napa Valley charities. For more information, please visit www.hallwines.com/cabernetcookoff or via social channels using #cabernetcookoff.


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Explore Planet Earth II’s Locations with Exodus Travels

The most watched nature show in history, David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II, is slated to debut in the USA this month!  The show will premier on BBC America, AMC and SundanceTV on February 18, 2017.

Travelers can also experience the far-flung places and curious creatures off the screen with award winning adventure tour operator Exodus Travels. The six episodes cover diverse landscapes across the globe, and Exodus has a trip to every one.

Like Attenborough and his crew of hearty film-makers and globetrotting story-tellers, Exodus Travels pulls out all the stops to build trips that explore the most peculiar, amazing and awe-inspiring destinations and experiences the world offers. Also in line with the nature documentary’s efforts to protect the natural environment through increased knowledge, Exodus is fiercely committed to responsible tourism, having won multiple world-recognized awards for its community, wildlife and environment project work.

With more than 600 trips throughout all seven continents, avid Planet Earth II fans can follow in the footsteps of all six episodes with Exodus Travels.


Planet Earth II Episode Breakdown:

Episode 1: Islands
This episode explores the Galapagos Islands’ marine iguanas as they battle racing snakes while fleeing to safety. In Panama the film crew follows the aggressively slow sloth as it searches for a mate. In the Rinca Islands of Indonesia, viewers see the Komodo Dragon’s giant bodies, looking more like weight lifters than lizards, up close.

Episode 2: Mountains

High on top of the world’s massive mountain ranges, we see snow leopard’s in Ladakh, golden eagles in the French Alps, grizzlies in Canada’s Rockies and bobcats in Yellowstone National Park.

Episode 3: Jungles

This episode gives us up-close encounters of the lives of 10 animals that call the wild jungles home, including the Indri – Andasibe lemurs of Madagascar, the glass frogs of Costa Rica and the railroad worms in Brazil

Episode 4: Deserts

Here we see how animals can survive in the most extreme desert climates. For example, the Golden Mole in NamibRand, Namibia, who spends its life under the sand, and has eyes completely covered in fur!



Episode 5: Grasslands

The grasslands are home to the most hostile seasons on the planet, and the creatures living there follow suit with extraordinary survival techniques. This episode follows all kinds, from Swamp Lions in Okavango Delta, Botswana, the Serval Cat in Karoo, South Africa, and the Termite Mounds of Australia.

Episode 6: Cities

Cities are home to weird and interesting animals too, which have learned to adapt in perhaps the most foreign environments on earth. This highly conversed episode sees langurs revered in Jodhpur, Peregrine Falcons hunting among the NYC sky-scrappers, wild hyenas living peacefully among Harar, Ethiopia locals and the raccoons of Toronto, Canada, getting into all kinds of trouble.


 

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