As one of the greatest historical monuments in the world, Machu Picchu has been on many a travellers bucket list since its discovery in 1912. Dating back to the 1500s, the ruins of this ancient citadel are unmistakable, often shrouded in mist rising from the surrounding cloud forest. It is, without doubt, one of the most spectacular sights in Latin America, especially if youve just arrived at the ruins after completing the 4 day long and somewhat challenging Inca Trek.
There are now many different places to stay close to Machu Picchu, from campsites and backpacking hostels, right up to 5* hotels which are exceptionally luxurious and offer unrivalled views of the stunning mountainous landscapes. Here, we have chosen our favourites;
1. Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel which is situated within the UNESCO World Heritage site that encircles Machu Picchu. Thanks to its privileged position, the property has magnificent views over Machu Picchu from the gardens, which also boast a wealth of orchids and birds. Guests can relax in this magical place with a drink from the bar, or enjoy a meal of fine Peruvian cuisine on the terrace. There is also a full spa with many different treatments on offer. Rooms at the Belmond are equipped with king size beds, mini bar, WiFi, iDock and flat screen TVs. For those after an extraordinary experience, upgrade to a suite for views of Machu Picchu itself from your window.
The Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel is a 5-star hotel which has been recently renovated and has a wonderful sense of the Andean spirit. Modern luxury combines with traditional comforts, creating a stunning hotel where guests can unwind among the mountains. Each of the 62 rooms has excellent amenities including goose feather bedding, coffee machine and a mini bar, and all feature beautiful views through large windows. Aside from being very close to Machu Picchu, guests can also take part in activities such as cooking lessons, short hikes and birdwatching trips nearby. For those who want to savour staying in a such a beautiful hotel, there is a spa, sauna and jacuzzi for guest use, plus a restaurant serving gourmet food inspired by the Andes.
3. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Nestled within 12 acres of lush rainforest, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is a cosy and stunning choice for accommodation near the ruins. As with many of the other hotels nearby, guests can enjoy facilities such as a restaurant serving delicious Peruvian cuisine, a full spa and a myriad of activities from visiting a tea plantation to twilight walks. Rooms benefit from amenities which accentuate the traditions of the local area, such as stone fireplaces, warm alpaca blankets and views over the gardens. For guests wanting more privacy, there are intimate cabins and opulent villas with personal plunge pools, round-the-clock butler service and private terraces.
4. Lodge to Lodge Trek
If you are looking for a luxury experience with a twist, you could take part in a hike through the mountains whilst staying overnight in well-appointed lodges. Trek between each lodge along pathways originally created by the Incas themselves, and take part in different activities including visiting small Andean communities, short hikes, horse riding and mountain biking. This is an excellent way to experience the sheer beauty of the landscapes and the remoteness of the region whilst enjoying comfortable overnight stays in lodges rather than tents!
Simon Williams is Director of Bespoke Latin America.
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It didn’t take the kids much to twist our arms and have us agree to take a road trip with their cousins to Dubbo in central west NSW.
It was, after all, the very location where T and I had adventured on our first couples trip a good seventeen years ago and also the destination of an early travel adventure when the kids were small.
Situated around five hours from Sydney, Dubbo is fast becoming one of New South Wales most popular holiday destinations and a great place to base yourself if you want to explore some of the most amazing regional locations.
I was bursting to explore again, and super keen to stay on site for the first time.
Things to do in Dubbo with Kids
Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Without a doubt, Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the top attraction and one of the best things to do in Dubbo with kids.
Spreading across 300 hectares of bushland and integrated grasslands, the zoo is home to over 700 animals from five of the world’s continents.
The large space provides ample room for animals to free roam – exactly how zoos should be!
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is an all weather location. Whether it’s sunny, overcast or drizzling with rain, I’m pretty certain the whole family will have a blast.
The free roaming enclosures mean that you can see each animal type in a near to natural habitat. It’s almost like seeing them in the wild!
Dubbo zoo is structured around a 6-kilometre circuit which visitors can navigate by foot, bike, electric buggy or your own vehicle.
On our trip, we arrived early so we could snag an electric buggy, something all of the kids were super excited about.
Whilst the electric buggy was a lot of fun for the kids, the animals were their absolute favourite thing about Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
Each time we came to another enclosure they would all excitedly point out the animals, taking turns to read the information panels so could learn about their habitat and food preferences.
Having studied the daily keeper talk itinerary, we were able to fit in a few as we drove around the zoo in our buggy. Whilst the information panels gave a lot of information, the beauty of a keeper talk is they’re always interactive and you can ask a few questions.
The kids loved this opportunity and put the keeper to the test with their tricky questions.
Having visited in Spring, we just missed out on the grand opening of the Savannah Safari. If you plan a trip now you will catch it.
For an extra $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children, you can experience a unique guided tour amongst the African animals on the Savannah Safari truck. Cheaper than a trip to Africa!
Savannah Cabins Dubbo
While there is a plethora of hotels in Dubbo, we decided to make our trip to Dubbo truly memorable and booked a couple of nights at the Savannah Cabins.
Travelling with two families, we felt that this option lent itself to an intimate, family focused stay.
We wanted to make a real adventure out of our trip so had travelled to Dubbo via Canberra.
Arriving at the Savannah Cabins at the end of a long drive was perfection. The cabins were not only fully self-contained but had a few little extras that made our stay truly amazing, like gorgeous toiletries and fruit.
Whilst the adults unpacked the cars, the kids headed off to find themselves some giraffes.
Armed with the binoculars they had found in our cabin, they trekked through the long grass to an opening where they could see the giraffes over the fence. They also spotted a number of kangaroos resulting in a lot of excited squeals of delight.
Shortly, the kids had recruited other children from neighbouring cabins and before long they were all playing tag, then footy and then tag again. This continued into the night where we shared a barbeque on our verandah. It was perfection.
If you do stay at the Savannah Cabins and the kids are up after dark, I highly recommend going outside to one of the clearings, laying back on a picnic blanket and watching the stars.
Without the lights from a city brightening the sky, you should be able to see the Milky Way in all its glory and even spot a shooting star.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo caters for a variety of budgets with three accommodation options: the luxury Zoofari Lodge – read Caz and Craig’s experience at the Dubbo Zoofari Lodge here, the Billabong Camp or, our choice, the Savannah Cabins.
Old Dubbo Gaol
A trip to the Old Dubbo Gaol must be included on your itinerary if you’re staying in the area. It’s an opportunity for you to step back in time with the kids and, if framed well, won’t be scary at all.
Visiting on the school holidays is perhaps the best time to go with the kids as quite often the staff create amazing school holiday programs that a perfectly geared for the younger visitor.
Our visit coincided with the Guided Escapes Tour. It was far from the traditional guided tour, with an inmate showing us around before he was abruptly interrupted by one of the guards.
This is where the show really took off, and with the kids helping the inmate, became quite interactive.
I don’t want to give away the whole experience by detailing it in any length, but let’s just say hysterical laughter was heard across the audience as the kids were brought to task for getting up to a whole of mischief with the inmate. Make sure you do it! (It’s included in the entry ticket).
Old Dubbo Gaol is open seven days a week, excluding Christmas Day, from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm. It is on off Macquarie Street straight across from Woolworths. A family pass is currently $40.00 for two adults and two children.
Surely exploring a cave system is on your family bucket list?
At Wellington, just south of Dubbo, you can explore a cave system that has formed in an outcrop of 400 million-year-old Early Devonian limestone.
Wellington Caves is the most significant site for mammal fossils in the world with those found here ranging in age from 30,000 to 4 million years! You can see Megafauna in the cave walls! This made a little exploration of the caves a “must see” on our great Dubbo adventure.
At the Wellington Cave site, you can take a guided tour of Cathedral Cave, Gaden Cave and the Phosphate Mine. They are spread out across the day, so I highly recommend choosing your preferred caves in advance and identifying their tour times so you don’t miss out.
The idea of spotting a giant Diprotodon was almost unfathomable, but sure enough, by the end of our visit, we had checked it off our list.
The kids learned that a giant kangaroo, a carnivorous goanna that was seven metres long and a marsupial lion were also found in the caves. Amazing stuff.
Whilst the Phosphate Mine is famous for its bones, the Cathedral Cave is famous for its stalagmites and stalactites which the kids found fascinating. They learned the sayings “Stalagmites MIGHT grow up” and “Stalactites hold on TIGHT” which helped them to remember what to call the formations.
Wellington Caves is just under 60 km south-east of Dubbo. The site is open seven days a week excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Each tour lasts for around an hour. Tours start at around $72.00 for a family of four.
Our trip to Dubbo was an amazing adventure with the kids not only learning a little about animal conservation but also widening their knowledge of both scientific discovery and Australian history through our respective tours of Wellington Caves and Old Dubbo Zoo.
On arriving back at home, our youngest traveller decided to do a little research on Megafauna after being inspired by the university project work she had observed at Wellington Caves.
The middle kids decided they wanted to be zookeepers and promptly booked an experience at Taronga Zoo It’s amazing to see travel adventures leading to new projects between our travels.
I wonder if Dubbo will have the same impact on your kids!
While in the Dubbo area, don’t forget to check out:
Short Street Store – This is a local secret, but if you make your way to this little hideaway you will discover the best coffee and homemade bites in town.
Livvi’s Place Playground – Built just how playgrounds should be, this interactive and accessible park is just the spot for the kids to burn up some energy.
Dubbo Observatory – Remember my suggestion to lay back and watch the stars when staying at the Savannah Cabins? Well if you want and even closer look, drop by the Dubbo Observatory.
Dubbo Royal Flying Doctor Base Visitor Education Centre – I’m absolutely kicking myself that we missed out on dropping by for a visit.
By Olivier Templar-James on Apr 27, 2017 in Accommodation, Attractions, Bars, Europe, Germany, Going Out, Hotels, Leisure Travel, Regions, Speciality Travel, Western Europe – Read 956 times
Berlin, the capital city of Germany and a city that was so marked by numerous unfortunate events during its history, managed to rise and impress the world through its power and desire to be the best. It managed to exceed all the hardships that tried to destroy it in the past and is now today a majestic city that excels in very many fields. If you want to visit Germany and youre looking to find a luxurious and outstanding experience, you need to stay in Berlin. So many world renowned fashion designers come from Berlin or work here, the fashion background here being very well developed. The architecture and design of Berlin are also fascinating, modern entwining with the old in an intriguing balance. And the fact that there are so many places where you can find outstanding services and high-quality items makes luxury-seeking tourists to take this city into account when traveling through Europe. As I discovered, to my pleasant surprised, there are quite a few things you can do in Berlin to enjoy an incredible stay here.
1. Stay at the famous Waldorf Astoria Berlin
Waldorf Astoria Berlin is a hotel that will simply stun you with its incredible elegant and modern décor and the top notch services available here. Located in the center of the city, staying here will definitely make you experience the high-life of Berlin and what it means to enjoy exclusive services. The Art Deco style of the interiors will be a pleasant surprise and the views over the city are a great bonus. Also, make sure to visit the Guerlain Spa, the first of this kind in Germany. Relax in a fragrance world with the precious Guerlain treatments, in a 1000 sq feat space dedicated to wellness, which also includes a wonderful cloud pool. And for those that enjoy a good book, you will find the hotels library lounge at the 15th floor. Everything about this hotel inspires excellence and luxury.
2. Enjoy one of the 300 whiskeys of Vox Bar at Grand Hyatt Berlin
If you are looking for the best place in Berlin to end the day, the Vox Bar will definitely suit your needs. It is located in a central spot in Berlin and it more than suitable to discover the vibrant nightlife of this city. At the point where beverages are served, you will be impressed by the collection of whiskey assortments the bar has, approximately 300 ready to suit every need of the customers. The Vox Bar is very modern, reflecting the present days needs for fun and entertainment, which also includes the presence of a DJ that will perform live, every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night.
3. Discover the best of Berlin fashion and German designs at Bikini
Probably the best place to shop in Berlin, especially if you are looking for famous brands, is at the Bikini. You will know it is a one of a kind shopping is the moment to approach it and enter the building, as the architecture will definitely surprise you. But the most important aspect of this shopping mall is that it is the place where you will find designers that are not available anywhere else. Designers from Germany, Scandinavia, and other corners of the world are ready to show you their latest collections, in a shopping experience that is far from being traditional. It is worth mentioning that about 50% of the stores at the Bikini stay here for 6 months only, so that customers can enjoy an incredible diversity each time they come here. The shopping center wanted to be different than the rest and with this concept they did it. The place is also perfect for enjoying periodic art exhibits and events, and for enjoying the views of the monkeys habitat at the Berlin Zoo.
4. Shop at Galleries Lafayette Berlin and enjoy its French touch
The Galleries Lafayette Berlin is not just a great shopping place, but also a spot where you can enjoy authentic French architecture in Berlin. The world-renowned French architect Jean Nouvel made the galleries in 1996, which are still a very important part of the citys overall architecture. The place may not be as impressive as the famous Paris department store, but it is still worth visiting it. You will have the chance to relax here, while enjoying various fashion selections, the Galleries own purchasing team ensuring that customers that come here will find a different variety of products than the ones that are already present at the Paris department store. It is worth mentioning that there are 8 personal shopper assistants that are ready to offer you a VIP experience, guiding you and helping you find exactly what you need, and even take you to the in-house tailor for enjoying a perfect fit for the dresses, pants, or jackets you decide to purchase. In case you get hungry, there is a food court with the finest French products selection, starting with French caviar, and going to scarce French wine available in various prices and even a French butchery or Brittany lobsters. All of these products are brought in fresh, 3 times a week, from the Rungis food market in Paris, the place being much preferred by famous people that live in Berlin, who come here to buy their food.
5. Discover the high-class fashion store of Dorothee Schumacher
Dorothee Schumacher is one of the most appreciated German designers, her collections managing to impress the entire world. She based her creations and company on the belief that the strength of a woman comes from her femininity. Thus, she creates elegant and feminine clothing items, products that are meant to underline the delicacy and beauty of every woman. If you want to see and buy her amazing collections, you need to visit her store in Berlin, located at the Schlüterstrasse 48, 10629 Berlin. Before even getting to see and feel the clothes, you will be impressed by the stores architecture. The architectural elements were picked in such a way that they will manage to communicate with its viewers and, in my opinion, this is definitely happening.
Olivier Templar-James is Chief Editor at Luxury Travelers Guide.
If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
If you are looking around to buy a point-and-shoot digital camera, a lightweight camera that literally fits in your pocket, this post is for you!
I know how time-consuming and confusing it can be looking for a new camera, so to help you out I’ve been digesting endless Amazon reviews and best seller lists and researching via Google and Pinterest.
From my research, I’ve created a short list of the most popular point-and-shoot compact cameras to save you some valuable time and to help you narrow down your own list.
Why purchase a point-and-shoot compact camera?
If you have any upcoming vacations or special moments and you typically capture your photos on a smartphone, a compact digital camera can be a nice upgrade.
These pocket-size cameras are not bulky like a DSLR and easy to take anywhere with you.
I know how precious your travel memories can be, our motto has always been accumulate memories not just possessions and we like to do that through travel.
So whether you’ll be snapping images of a pretty sunset, capturing moments from your camping trip or just playing on the beach with your kids, having a point a shoot camera at your disposal will allow you to capture those special moments.
Benefits of compact cameras include:
Easy to pack for travel.
You can capture anything; portraits of your family, landmarks in the distance and virtually everything in between.
Easy to use (they are called point-and-shoot for a reason) but also offer similar manual controls to a DSLR.
Better image quality than your smartphone due to larger sensors.
Some have built-in WiFi (you can post to Facebook or Instagram with image quality you won’t get from a smartphone)
Optical zooms. These compact cameras allow you to shoot subjects off in the distance that wouldn’t be possible on a phone.
Instead of relying on your phone for everything and keeping it charged, you have a designated camera that can also shoot quality video.
Compact digital cameras vary in price depending on the brand and features, and my list below ranges from $300 to $998 so you should find something within your budget.
And Amazon is a great place to go shopping with “mostly” helpful reviews from people just like you and me.
Best point-and-shoot compact cameras
Below are eight recommendations in no particular order. Click on each image or link to learn more about each camera and to read the reviews on Amazon.
1. Sony RX 100
28-100mm equivalent F/1.8-4.9 lens
3-Inch LCD screen
Full HD 1080/60p video
Read the reviews for the Sony RX100 on Amazon
2. Panasonic Lumix ZS50
30X zoom [24-720mm]
10 fps Continuous Shooting
Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity
Read the reviews for the Panasonic Lumix ZS50 on Amazon
By Spencer Groves on Apr 25, 2017 in Accommodation, Antigua and Barbuda, Asia, Barbados, Caribbean, Europe, Family Travel, Greece, Hotels, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East, North America, Regions, Resorts, Speciality Travel, United Arab Emirates, Western Europe – Read 1608 times
As any parent knows, you’re only as happy as your least happiest child – and keeping children happy, especially away from home, can be hard work. Finding a holiday resort that makes this as easy as possible, with plenty of tyke-pleasing facilities, is the first step towards a harmonious family holiday.
The option of a good kids club is often high on the priority list. Whilst you probably won’t want to pack your little ones off for the entire week, a few mornings or afternoons here and there gives you the chance to switch off and relax – whilst the youngsters get to make new friends and try some new activities in a safe environment. The best kids clubs have warm, engaging and attentive staff, with lots of creative and sporty things to do.
If childcare is what you’re after, read on for our selection of top family-friendly resorts with great kids clubs – where it’s likely you’ll find they’re begging you to check them in.
The Romanos and The Westin Resort, Costa Navarino, Greece
Best for ages 4 months – 18 years
Located in the southern Peloponnese peninsula, Costa Navarino is one of Greece’s finest five-star beach resorts, surrounded by unspoilt countryside and scenic ancient ruins. This resort was recently voted as the Best Family Destination in the Mediterranean – and it’s easy to see why. There are two specifically designed play areas for kids (one for babies and toddlers, and one for kids aged 4-12) – with an almost overwhelming choice of activities on offer.
It’s all new and has been really well designed, with clever touches built-in like drop-down mirrors for face-painting, and a giant in-floor keyboard that just begs to be played. Outside, there’s a large outdoor play area with plenty of slides, shade, and scope for imaginative play. Older kids can also enjoy football, basketball, racquet sports and golf.
Costa Navarino has plenty for teens too – they’re invited to make new friends and play beach volleyball, football, water games, contests, bowling and billiards – as well as making the most out of the resort’s other facilities like watersports and the go-karting track.
Within the resort there are ample facilities, including the waterpark, with a shallow splash pool, slides, and water toys. For bigger children and adults, there are also three larger water slides, as well as a basketball court, volleyball, badminton, table tennis, ten pin bowling, pool tables, indoor cinema and Playstation consoles. And that’s all before we’ve even mentioned the calm, sandy beach.
There’s also lots the whole family can do together, like mountain biking (with attachable kids seats for youngsters – or balance bikes if they’re feeling independent!), paddle-boarding, and – the latest fad – electronic trikes (similar to Segways, but much more stable!)
Sani Beach, Halkidiki, Greece
Best for ages 4 months – 11 years (+ teens in peak summer season)
Families are extremely well catered for at this resort in Halkidiki, which is ideal if you’re looking for a ‘fly and flop’ type holiday with five-star style. The kids club takes children from 4 months old, with a 1:3 staff ratio. The Melissa Mini Club is complimentary for kids aged 4-11, with a ratio of staff at 1:8. There are lots of activities on offer, including arts and crafts, face painting, T-shirt painting, pantomime, mini disco, and cookie making, as well as themed parties. There’s also plenty going on outdoors, from organised pool games to table tennis, gymnastics, treasure hunts, bird-watching tours, and forest school style activities. During peak season (July/August) there’s also a teens club – think watersports, football tournaments, taster spa sessions, and so on.
Sani is famous for its free-of-charge Babe Watch service. For half an hour, the resort’s staff will keep an eye on your children, playing games and building sandcastles with them, whilst you get to enjoy a break on the beach sunbathing, swimming, or reading a book – uninterrupted.
There’s also tonnes to do within the resort: snorkelling, adventure playground, tennis tuition, football academies, cookery lessons, art classes, watersports, and open-air yoga for adults – or borrow bikes and scooters to explore the resorts smooth, traffic-free pathways. They’ve recently introduced baby swimming lessons as well, in the warm indoor pool at the spa.
The Far East
Grand Mirage Resort and Thalasso, Bali
Best for ages 4 – 15 years
This friendly beachfront resort in Nusa Dua has lots of perks for adults and children alike. At the kids club youngsters are looked after by caring staff, who lay on an array of activities including aerobics, mask-making, football, jewellery-making, fruit-carving and cookery. There’s also a new waterpark outside, together with a separate family pool, which has a large waterslide.
Within the kids club, there’s a soft play area, as well as a banana-shaped billiards table, games room, and mini boxing ring. Outdoors, there’s a playground and giant garden chess game – both of which are close to the resort’s two restaurants, so the children can play whilst you’re waiting for the food to arrive. The ‘Cool Lounge’ is free and open to all guests, where you can hang out and take advantage of the pool tables, air hockey, table tennis and PlayStation consoles. If you’re feeling tuneful, there are also two dedicated karaoke room.
For no extra charge (and providing you’re over 9 years old), you can go on a Seawalker experience – donning an astronaut-style helmet and taking a walk along the sea bed amongst the fishes. Also, don’t miss the chance to check out the spa – it’s really beautifully done, and even children can enjoy being treated to a Balinese massage.
Shangri La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa, Borneo
Best for ages 5 – 11 years
Located on a vast sandy beach, backed by rainforest and a 64-acre nature reserve, there are tonnes of activities to suit all personalities at this resort. If you’ve got a budding artist they’ll be kept amused with puppet-making, batik painting, leaf weaving and instrument making. If your child can’t sit still, there’s dancing, treasure hunts, mini-Olympics, kayaking, and pony rides. If you’ve got an eco-warrior, there are gardening and nature explorer activities. There’s also the ‘Ranger for a Day’ programme for animal lovers aged 5 – 11, where they can assist the rangers in their daily tasks, feeding the baby orangutans, and learning about Borneo’s rainforest.
One of the best things about this resort has to be the onsite orangutan sanctuary, which is usually home to around 3 or 4 baby orangutans. The pools are also well kitted out for children, with shallow areas and waterslides.
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Best for ages 6 months – 19 years
This chic boutique hotel in Antigua is reminiscent of the kind of place you might have chosen pre-kids, with a myriad of little touches to keep everyone happy. The Caribbean Cool Kids Club (open 7 days a week) is suitable for children aged six months to six years. There’s a paddling pool, jungle gym, and sand pits as well as lots of organised activities such as lizard hunting, treasure hunting and arts and crafts. During the main school holidays, the Crew Blue programme also operates 5 days a week. It’s complimentary for children aged 7-12 years and runs activities such as raft building, starfish hunting, football, sailing, zip-lining, and excursions to Stingray City. Crush is the teenage club for 13-19-year-olds – with its own chill-out room with a Wii U, table tennis, and organised activities like beach parties, wake-boarding, mocktail-tasting, tubing, and tennis workshops. There’s also a cinema room for movie nights.
Kids’ high tea is served by the pool at 5pm, leaving the restaurants free for grown-ups in the evenings (babysitting is readily available). There’s a choice of two beaches, and two sections of the hotel work very well in ensuring that those with children and those without can holiday in harmony.
Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels, Barbados
Best for ages 3 – 12 years
This four-star all inclusive property is located on the South Coast of Barbados, with a family-friendly atmosphere and easy access to Dover Beach. The staff running the popular Flying Fish Kids Club have a really good reputation. They’re welcoming, caring and friendly – and it’s really them that makes the kids club here so special. Children can learn about Barbados culture by becoming an Honorary Bajan – learning the lingo, and making Bajan food. They’ll even be given a souvenir Bajan passport to take home. There are lots of arts and crafts on offer, as well as activities like beachcombing, and movie nights under the stars (the kids club is open till 9pm). The whole family can join in with island tour excursions, and weekly activities like calypso dancing lessons and beach kite flying. Older kids can learn to surf or boogie board, or go kayaking and hobie cat sailing with instructors from the newly revamped Aqua School.
The resort has plenty of things for children to do outside of the kids club. There’s a dedicated children’s pool and a jungle gym, as well as table tennis, pool table, table football, and lots of beach games for older children. You can also pre-order kids meals, to be served at a time and location to suit – which takes the hassle out of dinner time.
Finest Playa Mujeres, Cancun
Best for ages 3 – 15 years
“I’m bored” are two words you won’t hear at this action-packed resort near Cancun, which has something for children of all ages. At Finest Playa Mujeres, there are all-day activities for everyone from toddlers to teens – whether it’s in the pool playing games, beach soccer, crafts, video games, riding horses, zip lining, water balloon fights, making tie-dye t-shirts, playing on the water slides and more. The kids club is split into three age groups (Mini club, Maxi club, and teens club). There’s also the ‘Imagine Lounge’, a supervised area near the restaurants with movies, games and consoles where the youngsters can be dropped off whilst parents enjoy a quiet meal (open at breakfast and dinner time).
There’s a childrens pool with its own built-in playground, with a separate shallow pool just for babies and toddlers. There are three indoor areas are grownup-free zones, plus a kids plaza, mini spa and mini theatre. For older kids, kayaking, snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, water polo, table tennis, volleyball and more are part of the all-inclusive fun – together with a floating ‘waterpark’ just off the beach. They also have some impressive entertainment shows for kids, like an actor-led pirate scavenger hunt throughout the resort – culminating with a sword fight on the beach and an appearance of a ‘cannon-firing’ pirate ship.
Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa, Riviera Maya
Best for ages 3 – 12 years
There’s lots to do at this lively mid-size resort on the Riviera Maya. The Explorer’s Club for Kids aged 3 – 12 is open late until 10 pm. Each evening you’re given a schedule of the following days organised activities – typical activities include things like cooking classes, rock climbing, bungee trampoline, bingo, piñata, hide and seek, and jewellery making – although they are other options if your child doesn’t feel like joining in. Every week, the kids are given the chance to ‘camp out’ on the beach with their new friends – under full supervision – whilst you get a chance to enjoy a meal at the resort’s adults-only restaurant. The Explorers Club is a strictly parent-free zone, but you’re given a beeper so you can be contacted at any time.
There’s a large, shaded outdoor playground for kids next to the kids club, with a pyramid-shaped climbing wall, and squirty fountains in the floor. There’s also a planetarium kids theatre, and lots of watersports for the whole family to enjoy. Every evening, the resort lays on some family-friendly entertainment – typically juggling and fire shows, live music, and illusionism. If you fancy getting out and about and exploring, nearby you can go swimming with dolphins, or explore the ancient Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai
Best for ages 4 – 16 years
Sinbads Kids Club has been expanded recently, and now includes a mini water park area, as well as larger indoor and outdoor play areas, and a separate kids pool. It’s also complimentary for all guests aged 4 -16 years. The children are divided into four groups according to their age, and tagged with a wristband – then they’re free to enjoy all the supervised activities. Indoors there are games consoles, iPads, a giant in-floor keyboard (on a stage) and soft play, whilst outdoors the climbing wall, pool and mini-water park are infinitely popular. There are also lots of organised activities, like cooking classes, arts and crafts, camel rides, talent shows, magic shows, and games. Whilst not necessarily the healthiest snack options, complimentary ice cream and popcorn keep spirits high. The kids club is open late until 10pm each evening.
As a five-star-plus resort, the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray pretty much has everything you could possibly wish for – including the largest spa in the UAE. As guests, you’ll also receive complimentary unlimited access to Jumeirah’s Wild Wadi Waterpark – one of the best in Dubai, home to some record-breaking rides and slides. They also have a fab half board package, which allows you to dine at a choice of 60+ restaurants – including those at other Jumeirah hotels, at Wild Wadi Waterpark, and even some in Dubai Mall.
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
Best for ages 3 – 18 years
A heaven for children, Atlantis Kids Club is a vast space with so much to do, you might struggle to get your kids out of it. Theres a Command Centre, where they’ll find the latest in electronic entertainment, the Play Zone where they’ll be able to take part in team games and challenges, and The creation zone – which is where all the arts and crafts happen. There’s also a pirates soft play area, with front row views into the hotel’s huge aquarium.
Every evening, kids can stay for a pizza dinner (between 5:30pm – 8:30pm). Essentially a giant party brimming with games, crafts and entertainment, the themes range from Superheros to Willy Wonka, Arabian Nights, Under The Sea and more. For teens (13 – 19), Club Rush is open from 3pm – 6pm and 7pm – midnight each evening. There’s a mocktail bar, internet cafe, karaoke, table football, cinema room, and dance floor.
Kids love this resort – it’s the biggest, brightest and best family hotel in Dubai. Aside from the gargantuan waterpark, there’s the chance to swim with dolphins, explore the Lost Chambers Aquarium, and enjoy the pools and beach. There’s also The Zone, a state of the art video game arcade filled with simulators and shoot ‘em ups, and a large outdoor playground.
Spencer Groves is Commercial Director at letsgo2.
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Jackson Hole has a complex assortment of great food because of their commitment to source local, higher quality ingredients. You could spend weeks in the area and would still fail to try all the mouth-watering options. Those with a sweet tooth will be particularly intrigued with the quirky, yet simplistic treats in the area. Indulgences in Jackson Hole are typically made with real ingredients, not artificial flavors or sweeteners, taking taste to another level.
Roadhouse – Wyoming whiskey ice cream sandwiches
Countless Roadhouse ice cream sandwiches are prepared by hand every morning, not only to satisfy the taste buds of diners, but to stock the shelves of local grocery stores. Two mini, crispy cookies encase smooth, creamy, whiskey ice cream; dark chocolate sprinkles coat the edges. Authentic Wyoming Whiskey gives visitors a true taste of their distilling craftsmanship, without having to shoot it straight. Dont worry, there are other flavors suitable for kids.
The Handle Bar – s’mores at your table
Nothing says cozy vacation in the mountains quite like Smores, and The Handle Bar has perfected the art. Hersheys chocolate, house-made strawberry marshmallows, fresh baked graham crackers and a cup of The Handle Bars own chocolate spread are served on a rotating dish, complete with a tiny grill in the center. The best part may be that you get to do all of this at the warmth and comfort of your dining table, inside the restaurant.
The Bunnery – very berry pie
You havent truly had pie until youve visited The Bunnery. Made with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and a “melt in your mouth” crust, its nearly irresistible. Adding ice cream almost dilutes the robust berry flavor, so its best to eat it straight. Slices are enormous, being much thicker than your average portion; so eat light to save room, or perhaps have just dessert!
The Alpine House – wild blueberry French toast
If you stay at this adorable, Viking inspired lodge, youll be treated to fantastic, chef prepared breakfasts every morning. Fresh made, locally sourced muffins, breads, granola and pastries are available while you wait for the main dish, which could be anything from a garden omelet with balsamic drizzle to an English muffin with black forest ham and egg. The French toast, with pure maple syrup, wild blueberries and cream is perfection. The portion of each ingredient is well balance, keeping the dish indulgent yet not overly sweet.
Haydens Post cast iron cinnamon roll
Haydens Post is a contemporary, yet affordable dining option with a killer cinnamon roll. Since the world class ski resort, Snow King Mountain, is a Stones throw away, one might want to fill up before hitting the slopes, snow tubing or riding the scenic and exciting Cowboy Coaster. Smooth cream cheese frosting, with a hint of fluffy sour cream oozes down the sides of the cloud like cinnamon bread, into the large cast iron skillet in which it was fresh baked. You may want to split this enormous sweet roll with a friend.
Top of the World Waffles – any waffle
Situated on Jackson Hole Mountain Resorts highest accessible peak is a tiny cabin known as Top of the World Waffles, or Corbets Cabin. Whether you will be taking the famous Big Red tram, or skiing the daring slopes, the cabin is a welcoming retreat from the frigid temperatures. A few variations of “no syrup needed” waffles are on the menu, but The Trad”, lightly coated with brown sugar butter, and the Peanut Butter Bacon are the best. The waffles arent thick Belgian style, but rather thin and slightly crispy with a fluffy center. Grab a cup of coffee or organic milk and enjoy the breathtaking view.
Flying economy to the USA is one of my least favourite things to do, especially flying with kids.
Actually, our girls are fantastic flyers, it’s more Craig and I that get distressed by the discomfort and lack of sleep on such a long flight.
If I had the means, I’d fly business class every time. Kalyra keeps begging me to fly business class so she can enjoy a taste of celebrity life. It’s totally her style. I’ve given her advice on how to become a vlogger so she can make it happen herself one day.
We were happy to be starting our America Unplugged journey by flying to Hawaii first. It was giving us the opportunity to break up the never-ending long-haul flight from Sydney to LA.
It was also our chance to have a little “holiday” before we start the grind of nomadic road trip travel – I’m not sure you can call what we do a holiday, but it came close in Hawaii.
We were thrilled to partner with Hawaiian Airlines on our trip to Hawaii and then onwards to the mainland. It was our first time flying Hawaiian Air and we were keen to test them out so we could share with you another option for your flights to Honolulu from Australia, then from the Hawaii Islands to the mainland.
After flying to Hawaii with Hawaiian Airlines, I can confidently tell you they are my new favourite American airline and rank high on my list of favourite global airlines.
Flying from Sydney to Honolulu we had the opportunity to experience their Extra Comfort seating and the perks that come with them. Kalyra was thrilled and both girls have exclaimed that Hawaiian Airlines are one of their favourites too.
What is extra comfort seating on Hawaiian Airlines?
Extra comfort seating is a premium product for flights on Hawaiian Airlines. It gives you a taste of business class flying without the huge expense.
As I write this post on a domestic flight across the USA to get to North Carolina seated in economy, memories of the extra space and comfort is more appreciated than ever.
I’m squishy squashed on this flight wishing I had premium seating on Hawaiian again.
The Extra Comfort seats give you:
extra leg room and 36 inches of seat pitch (usually 31 inches)
priority gate boarding
complimentary on-demand seat entertainment (you pay a fee for movies in economy)
and a personal power outlet, which we love to have on flights
The premium movie options are great.
The girls were ecstatic to have Trolls to watch. They watched it twice and then continued movie runs until I woke up and gave them a stern word about the importance of sleep and how they’ll ruin their first day in Hawaii.
“Now turn that off and go to sleep!!”
You also get a pillow and blanket and amenity kit. It’s one of the best ones I’ve received and I now use it for my makeup and personal items.
You can see in our video below that I was stoked with the amenity kit. It was the first taste of the prettiness of Hawaii that was to come for us:
You can continue the privilege experience in Honolulu with passes to jump the security queue when returning home.
If you are concerned about missing your chance to grab an extra comfort seat, Hawaiian Airlines have just expanded this seating on all Airbus A330 aircraft from 40 to 68 Extra Comfort seats.
And what I also loved about these seats, is that they had their own separate section on the plane with only three rows of seats. It felt a little more lux having not so many people around you and it’s fantastic protection for your energy field.
Extra Comfort seating will only cost you an extra $165 upgrade, which we think is worth it, especially when flying with kids.
Arriving at your destination with happy, well-rested kids, whose energy fields have not been unbalanced by squashed energy from others, sets your holiday up in a winning way.
Other features of flying with Hawaii Airlines
Now that our trip to Hawaii is over, I know the attentive kindness and happiness of the staff on Hawaiian Airlines is a reflection of the culture you’ll experience upon arrival to Hawaii.
They are warm and beautiful people.
I’m entranced by Hawaiian culture and wish to return to experience more of it.
Aloha is a word that is used to say hello and goodbye but it also means LOVE. It’s the perfect word to describe the spirit of the Hawaiian people.
You receive the Aloha service as soon as you arrive on the plane. I was impressed with the smiles and attentiveness and the care and warmth they had when helping my kids. That kind of service is not so common anymore when flying.
Easy customs clearance
I’d be happy to fly to the USA via Hawaii any day.
When you fly to Hawaii from Australia, the immigration and customs experience is so much easier and nicer than arriving at LAX in Los Angeles and you have friendly Hawaiians greeting you with Aloha.
It was then wonderful to arrive in LA and breeze right through as a domestic passenger!
So, if you want to visit the USA mainland, jump on one of the flights to Hawaii from Sydney with Hawaiian Airlines as they can also take you onwards to 11 mainland destinations when you’re ready to leave Hawaii – IF you’re ever ready to leave Hawaii?!!
Passengers on Hawaiian Airlines receive complimentary meals and beverages. If you have kids, be sure to pre-order the kids’ meals!
What we didn’t like and were disappointed with is that there are no options for gluten free meals. For some, myself included, going gluten free is not a trend; it’s a necessity and a right pain.
I’d like to see more airlines catering to people with dietary requirements. It’s quite common that they don’t.
The grace for us was that it was a night flight and we prepared ourselves by filling up on yummy Vietnamese soup at the airport before boarding so it wasn’t a major drama.
You can bring your own food onto the plane to cover for your allergies. But, I do think it’s time airlines stepped it up in regards to this.
It’s the only negative we had about flying Hawaiian airlines.
Handy departure times for flights to Honolulu
Flights to Honolulu from Sydney depart at 9.20pm and arrive in Honolulu at 10.20am local time. A night time flight is perfect for flying with kids (if they are good sleepers on planes) which our kids tend to be.
And being a night time departure versus early morning there’s no crazy panic in the morning getting to the airport on time, you can ease through the day and arrive relaxed.
64 kilos of checked baggage
Can you even pack this much luggage? I bet if you travel on Hawaiian Air with your kids you won’t because they get the same amount of luggage allowance.
Pack your wallets and an empty suitcase and do some shopping in Hawaii! Each passenger flying Hawaiian Airlines gets 2 x 32kg of checked luggage each.
Flying to Hawaii with this much luggage was a lifesaver for us. It saved us a ton of money in shipping stuff over to the US in boxes from Australia. Because we’re relocating to the US for at least 3 years we had more luggage to bring with us than if we were just going on a holiday.
We didn’t even use all of it anyway. We had five checked bags of around 23kg each.
If you are travelling with children, you can bring the following and be exempt from baggage fees.
Infant carrying seats
Heading to the US mainland from Hawaii, however, we had to adhere to domestic flying rules, which is $25 for the 1st checked bag (23kg limit) and $35 for the 2nd because the 64kg luggage allowance is only for return flights between Australia and Hawaii.
If you are just going to and from Hawaii, this won’t be an issue for you.
We stored our extra luggage in Honolulu with Aloha airport delivery and storage when flying between the Hawaiian islands. It worked out cheaper and easier than checking in our bags and bringing them with us. They offered a good service and are cheaper than storing them at the airport.
And the reward for flying to Hawaii is…WAIKIKI
I look forward to more Hawaiian Airlines flights to Hawaii and tapping into more of that Aloha spirit.
By Hilary Stockton on Apr 21, 2017 in Accommodation, Air Travel, Asia, Food and Drink, Going Out, Hotels, Japan, Regions, Restaurants, Speciality Travel, Travel Miscellany – Read 1604 times
Tokyo is a fascinating city, with a greater Tokyo population of nearly 40 million, and deserves far more than 24 hours, but if that’s all you have, en route to another destination in Asia, I have some recommendations for making the most of your visit.
1. Arrive refreshed in ANA First Class, JAL First Class or JAL Business Class
If you plan to hit the ground running, you’ll want to have slept on your flight and arrive refreshed. Fortunately, Japan’s two major airlines, ANA (All Nippon Airways) and JAL (Japan Airlines) have stellar first class beds, and JAL has my favorite business class bed. Both the ANA First Class and JAL First Class beds are 33 inches wide, full flat beds with well cushioned mattress pads that are placed on them. I give the edge to JAL First Class’ airweave mattress, which even has a choice of firm or soft. You’ll also be able to enjoy excellent Japanese or Western cuisine, and Japanese cuisine tends to be ideal for travelers, with its emphasis on seafood, vegetables, and lighter preparations. And both ANA and JAL First Class crews are consummate professionals, polite and attentive, so you’ll lack for nothing.
JAL Business Class offers my favorite business class bed, since it also provides a thinner airweave mattress pad, the only business class product to do so. Pick a window seat, as this offers the greatest privacy for sleeping.
2. Take the Narita Express
Assuming you arrive into Narita Airport, take the Narita Express, both to avoid surface road traffic, and as the most economical option, at a current cost of about 3000 JPY, or less than $30, compared to taxi fares of about 22,000 JPY, or $200 or more each way. Use your savings instead towards one of Tokyo’s top luxury hotels or a great sushi meal.
3. Stay at one of Tokyo’s best luxury hotels
Tokyo is one of the world’s best luxury hotel cities, and competition keeps standards very high. If you have an early morning arrival or a late evening departure, opt for The Peninsula Tokyo, since depending on how you book the hotel, you could enjoy flexible check-in and check-out. This enables you to gain early access to your room or suite or, if it’s not available, to another room until your room is ready, a godsend when you only have limited time in the city and may be in need of a shower or power nap. There’s also a good lap pool for those wanting an invigorating swim before or after sightseeing in Tokyo.
If you want to experience the best Tokyo luxury hotels have to offer, head to the Aman Tokyo, opened in 2015, with entry level Deluxe Rooms the size of suites at other hotels, at 764 square feet, each a peaceful sanctuary and with a distinctly Japanese aesthetic, from the shoji doors separating the bathroom from the bedroom, and an ofuro (Japanese soaking tub) with fragrant cedar salt and housemade Aman bath products. Don’t miss the gorgeous pool, my favorite among Tokyo luxury hotels, with panoramic views of the city.
If you’ll be spending more time elsewhere in Japan and will be departing Tokyo by shinkansen, or if you’re like I am and prefer a plusher bed, head to Four Seasons Tokyo, one of the Four Seasons’ smallest, boutique style hotels, right by Tokyo Station. The considerable advantage of the Four Seasons Tokyo when arriving by Narita Express or departing by shinkansen is that one of their team members will actually meet you when arriving on your train, or escort you to the correct platform when you’re departing, so your arrival and departure are seamless, yet you enjoy the advantage of taking the train. The Four Seasons Tokyo offers the new Four Seasons bed, with a choice of 3 different mattress toppers (our choice was the Signature Plush) and we slept better at this hotel than any other.
If your brief Tokyo stay is due to business, and you know you won’t have time to sightsee or even leave the hotel much except for meetings, I recommend the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, thanks to its many fantastic dining options, including sushi bar Sushi Sora, great pizzas at Pizza Bar on 38th, plus Cantonese and French cuisines, as well as molecular gastronomy at 1 Michelin star at Tapas Molecular Bar. Another great aspect of the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is the high level of service, which we experienced when one of us inadvertently left our laptop 1 hour outside of Tokyo. One of the bell staff actually went and retrieved it for us, and refused to take any more compensation than the actual transport cost. The Concierge was, meanwhile, able to help find and procure a new camera battery charger for me overnight, to replace one I’d misplaced. Simply fantastic service.
4. Savor a splurge sushi meal at Sushisho Masa
While I’ve lived in Japan for a year and been fortunate to dine at several excellent sushi bars, my current favorite is Sushisho Masa in Tokyo. Make your reservation through your hotel concierge, and be aware that a meal here will run 25,000-30,000 JPY, or about $250, per person for food alone. But for us, it was worth it, given the variety of excellent nigiri, sashimi, and side dishes that we enjoyed, including many pairs of the fresh fish contrasted with a cooked or smoked version. Come hungry–we thought we were sufficiently hungry, but didn’t manage to make it to the last dishes of the 50 or so that the chef wanted to serve us.
5. Take a private tour with the backstreet guides
We’re so glad we reserved a private tour with the Backstreet Guides, particularly as our guide, Yoko, skillfully guided us through the busy Tsukiji Fish Market, including checking where we could take photos (many vendors, who don’t want the distraction and inconvenience of being surrounded by tourists, prohibit photos), got us efficiently from place to place on the Tokyo subway system, and shared with us the history and traditions at Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. There’s also a popular Night Out Tokyo Tour that takes you to some of Tokyo’s top nightlife spots, from Harujuku’s Takeshita Dori and Shibuya, with a stop at a Yaketori Izakaya, to the Golden Gai.
Of course, the above is just a taste of Tokyo, but it can whet your appetite for another longer visit.
Hilary Stockton is the CEO at TravelSort.
If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
By Craig | |In partnership with Hawaii Tourism Oceania
In video 3 from the Big Island of Hawaii, we set foot on famous Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau Park, and go swimming with the manta rays at Keauhou Bay on the Kona Coast which was AMAZING!!!
And stay tuned, we have lots of USA videos coming!
Watch the video below, or watch it over on our YouTube channel here.
Thanks to Hawai’i Tourism Oceania for hosting our travels