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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Best Seafood in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

October 7th, 2013 | By admin | Posted in Luxury Vacation Travel | Leave a comment

There's something about being in the sun & sand in the quaint beach town of Tamarindo, Costa Rica that could make anyone crave fresh fish. Fortunately, after a day of frolicking in the waves, you have plenty of options for seafood. From more casual no-frills eateries to lavish gourmet restaurants, you're bound to satisfy your palate on a luxury vacation at any of these spots:

El Pescador
​It's hard to beat the location of this restaurant, which is set right on Tamarindo Beach. Try one of the many ceviches or a refreshing shrimp & avocado salad at lunch, or opt for some of the richer dishes at dinner. The Borgoña escargot with herb & garlic butter is a delectable appetizer & if you're going all out, the grilled whole lobster with sautéed shrimp & white wine is a must. Even the "Frutas del Mar" pizza has shellfish on top. Stay for the sunset view while you sip on a mai tai or a michelada. The best nights to dine at El Pescador are Wednesday & Friday, when they throw a full-on beach BBQ .

Seasons by Shlomy
​This is not the typical menu you'll find in Costa Rica. Shlomy Koren, a Cordon-Bleu trained Israeli chef, serves up French Mediterranean fusion fare which incorporates the wide variety of local seafood & interesting touches with unique & unexpected flavors. The menu at Seasons changes daily based on what's available, but there area few staples that shouldn't be looked over. Some of the more innovative dishes include red snapper wrapped in rice paper with a sun dried tomato & basil tapanade, Mahi-Mahi in a ginger raisin crust, & smoked salmon pasta. There isn't a bad table at this open-air restaurant, but if you're having a romantic evening, ask for a poolside spot.

Papagayo
The seafood that Papagayo serves is so fresh, the restaurant actually has their own fleet of deep-sea fishing boats that catch the fish and export it to the U.S. There's a lot of versatility with this menu too, so no matter your favorite fish or preparation technique, you can have it your way. Try the seafood gumbo, Cajun-style blackened catfish, shrimp etouffée or calamari Jambalaya if you're looking for rich Creole flavor.

El Coconut
It's no surprise that Costa Rica After Dark deemed this one of the best restaurants in the country. With elegant ambience, incomparable international cuisine & impeccable service, the entire dining experience here is top notch. The source recommended the tropical lobster & if you can handle some heat, the "El Diablo" spicy jumbo shrimp. There is also an extensive wine list, meaning you can find a bottle that will complement the flavors of any dish. Keep a lookout for the lobster special & be sure to make a reservation on Friday nights, when there's a live band.

Top Reasons to Consider All Inclusive Travel

When you're planning a luxury vacation, you likely have three things in mind: Fun, relaxation, & your budget. These are crucial aspects of any successful getaway, but they can be hard to balance. However, all inclusive travel means you can have it all. If you're unsure, here are a few of the ways that these resorts can help you have a truly memorable trip without breaking the bank.

No surprises
There's nothing that can kill that carefree island vibe than an unexpected cost. At an all inclusive resort, there are no hidden fees, so you can be sure that whatever you budgeted for your trip, it'll be easy to stick to. Knowing that means you can use your extra cash on fun souvenirs or other extras freely without the worry that you'll be hit with a bevy of charges on your credit card that you didn't plan for. After all, the last thing you should be worrying about while you're lounging on the beach in Bora Bora is money.

Endless activities
The action nearly never stops at an all inclusive resort. Smarter Travel explained that this makes these hotels ideal for people who like to keep busy throughout their trip, as there is always something to do, whether it's a round of golf or scuba diving lessons. Often there's even a spa & fitness facilities on site for your pleasure, meaning you don't have to head to an outside overpriced facility for your pampering. While a massage may not be included in the price, you benefit from the convenience of getting one just steps from your hotel room – & the ocean.

Your fill of fare
You'll never be hungry at an all inclusive resort & no matter your craving, it can probably be satisfied. Because many of these hotels include meals at a variety of on-site restaurants in the package, as well as drinks from top-shelf liquors & acclaimed wineries, you're able to indulge without the spending guilt.

Simplified logistics
If you're planning a group getaway or a family vacation, all inclusive travel is ideal because you'll avoid the headache of how much everything will cost, where you'll go & what you'll do. You won't even have to worry about any awkward moments involving tipping at a restaurant, as gratuity will be included.

Ultimate flexibility
Whether you're booking a week-long trip with the kids or want an adults-only romantic vacation, there's an all inclusive resort for you. Some hotels even cater to family time, offering kid-friendly pools & activities as part of the package. Others are meant for the grown-ups to kick back in a serene, child-free environment where their every need is catered to.

Plus, you always have the freedom to leave if you're eager to do some sightseeing or take a boat ride to a nearby island. The concierge desk can usually direct you to tour operators right in the lobby who can send you off to explore lush rainforest canopies or ancient ruins.

Less fretting, more fun
Taking out your wallet for every single snack, drink & activity isn't just annoying – it can cause distress. George Loewenstein, professor of economics & psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, told U.S. News & World Report that in fact, when you purchase products & services individually, you're a lot more cognizant of your spending. Loewenstein even conducted research on people's spending decisions, & found that when people pay for things, the areas of the brain connected to pain are triggered. That means the more you're swiping your credit card, the more negative feelings you'll have. At an all inclusive resort, however, he asserted that you'll benefit from "prospective accounting" – since everything is already paid for, it almost feels free.

How to Pack For a Family Vacation

October 3rd, 2013 | By admin | Posted in Family Vacations, Luxury Vacation Travel | Leave a comment

Packing for a family vacation can be overwhelming. Between getting your own suitcase in order & making sure your kids have all their essentials, it's not uncommon to get stressed out, & that can put a huge damper on the excitement of luxury travel. Still, over-packing can be a major nuisance when you have kids in tow. You also don't want to forget those key items that will keep your children happy throughout the trip & ensure a comfortable stay at your final destination.

Next time you're preparing for a family getaway, use these tips to guide you for a well-packed suitcase:

Carry-on essentials:
Whether you're taking a one hour flight to Mexico or a four hour one to Costa Rica, there are certain items you'll want to bring on the plane for a more pleasant ride. First of all, never rely on the airline to provide adequate snacks. Soda & complimentary bags of pretzels are hardly filling, so it's best to bring your own. Protein & complex carbohydrates are the most satiating combination, so try a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, or string cheese & multigrain crackers. For a morning flight, you can even bring granola or individual packets of oatmeal & add hot water on the plane – topped with a sprinkle of trail mix they're both an optimal way to fuel up.

You'll also want to keep your children entertained. USA Today recommended bringing along a drawing pad & markers or colored pencils for them to doodle. A pack of playing cards is great for older kids, & you can even join in on the fun. Books & puzzles are other good options. If you're bringing an iPad or other electronic device, remember to pack the charger or extra batteries. 

Not all airlines offer blankets & fingers crossed, your kids will want to take a nap on the flight. Consider bringing your own small blanket for a cozier experience.

Clothing:
How much apparel you bring along obviously depends on the length of your luxury vacation. As a general rule, USA Today noted that eight tops & several bottoms is sufficient for a week-long trip if you're not doing any laundry. For a shorter getaway, consider four tops & two pairs of shorts, pants or skirts. You'll also want to make sure you have plenty of socks & underwear for your children, particularly when you're continually changing in & out of bathing suits. While you can certainly hand-wash swimsuits on the trip, you'll still want to bring at least two options just in case.

Even if you're heading to a tropical climate, remember to pack a few layers such as a light jacket or sweater for cool nights. It's also best to bring along one formal outfit for each person if you'll be dining at one of the finer restaurants around your destination. Plan to do a lot of trekking? USA Today recommended packing comfortable sneakers with adequate support for hiking or any other adventures. You should also remember a pair of flip-flops for beach frolicking & a dressier pair of sandals as well.

Key extras:
There's no doubt that you'll want to remember some of the happiest moments from your trip, so be sure to bring a camera to capture them. A journal is also a great idea for kids to write down their favorite experiences.

In Condé Nast Traveler, Kyle McCarthy, co-founder & editor of My Family Travels, suggested bringing along an inflatable plastic ball, which takes up little room in your suitcase but can instantly provide a fun way to exercise on the beach or even in the hotel room.

Since some resorts have limited electrical outlets in the rooms, McCarthy also advised packing a power strip so you can charge more devices. If you're going to be sightseeing, consider bringing along a backpack for everyone.

Nighttime Adventures in Ocho Rios

October 2nd, 2013 | By admin | Posted in Luxury Vacation Travel | Leave a comment

For some people, the fun starts when the sun goes down. If you're a night owl, a luxury vacation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica could be the perfect opportunity for evening adventures. With a tropical climate, light breeze & plenty of businesses open late, the city is a nonstop party & you're invited.

The possibilities are endless. Whether you'd prefer cocktailing, dancing or dinner & live music under the stars, here's a look at what your action-packed night could look like.

Dining
The restaurant options in Ocho Rios provide a unique setting that is sure to make for a memorable meal. Case in point: The Ruins. Here, you can eat right at the base of an illuminated 40-foot waterfall, surrounded by lush, colorful gardens. Regardless of your tastes, there's something to please your palate, from a wide variety of fresh fish to a tantalizing selection of authentic Jamaican Jerk dishes. Save room for dessert, too – Executive Chef Sam Shum won two gold merits in the 2001 & 2002 Jamaica Cultural Development Centre Culinary Competitions for his famous mango pudding. He's even had past patrons call from other countries to get the recipe. Don't forget to make a reservation & dress in somewhat swanky attire.

Mongoose Jamaica is another restaurant that's more than just a place to dine. The establishment prides itself on offering a vivacious, entertaining experience from the moment you step through the door. The cuisine itself is an eclectic mix of Mediterranean, Jamaican, French & Asian. Try the jerk fish stuffed with callaloo, okra, herbs & spices & roasted over an open flame, or the island-style chicken in a rich coconut curry sauce. While you're at it, sip on the potent Jamaican Mongoose, which is made with overproof white rum, creme de menthe & pineapple juice.

Live music
Whether you're looking to chill out to some reggae sounds or prefer a little jazz, plenty of bars around Ocho Rios offer live music nightly. James Street is known as the "Reggae Strip" because it's peppered with a bevy of resorts & bars that are typically packed with locals swaying to some island beats. USA Today suggested Jack Ruby Bar & Grill, where you can listen to live bands in their courtyard outside.

If you want to get more involved in the action, head to the Little Pub – USA Today reported that it's a local favorite, & not just because there's live music six nights a week. With cabaret nights, karaoke sessions & performances of "Caribbean Dream," an original musical, there is certainly entertainment for everyone.

Jazz aficionados will find their sanctuary at Glenn's Jazz Club. Even though the restaurant is a 15 minute drive from central Ocho Rios, USA Today noted that the restaurant will provide transportation upon request.

Dancing after hours
Ready to kick things up a notch? If you have the energy, clubbing in Jamaica is an experience you'll never forget. According to Ocho Rios Onestop, Roofe Club in Malard Bay is a traditional dancehall where you can learn the latest Jamaican hip-hop style moves. This place can tend to get rowdy, though, so keep your wits about you & keep track of your friends.

Club Memories is another option at the town center. This spot is hopping five days a week, from oldies night on Sunday to ladies night on Thursday. You'll want to don your best attire & dancing shoes, however, as there's a dress code for the all-night grooving marathons here. If you can get here between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Fridays, you'll catch the happy hour specials.

4 Reasons to Take a Honeymoon in Hawaii

October 1st, 2013 | By admin | Posted in Honeymoons, Luxury Vacation Travel | Leave a comment

A honeymoon isn't just another luxury vacation – it's an incredibly important time to set the tone for a successful marriage. So it's crucial to choose the right location to ensure the trip is as relaxing & romantic as possible. While every couple is different, the inherent beauty & wide variety of activities in Hawaii makes it an ideal destination. If you & your fiancée are still undecided on where to go for your honeymoon, consider these factors & you may be saying "Aloha" as soon as you tie the knot:

Picture perfect romance
It goes without saying that the Hawaii makes for a stunning backdrop that's hard to beat. Between the breezy palm trees, pristine beaches & vivid sunsets, you couldn't ask for a more romantic environment. By day you'll be basking on the soft sand & by night you'll be wining & dining under the stars. Plus, between the warm balmy climate & intoxicating floral aromas, the air is saturated with natural aphrodisiacs. Such a sensual environment is essentially made for your first solo getaway together. It's no wonder two of the islands made U.S. News & World Report's top five honeymoon destinations

The best of both worlds
Are you looking to kick back poolside? Or are you a thrill-seeking couple that enjoys intense activities? A honeymoon in Hawaii is whatever you make it – so either way, you can have your dream getaway. Hawaii has some of the best beaches in the world, meaning it's a perfect spot if you're both in need of some relaxation after planning a wedding. Look for 5 star hotels in Hawaii with an on-site spa, so you can enjoy an oceanside couple's massage. With a cool island breeze & the waves crashing in the distance, all of your stress will melt away. If you're looking for more action, you could also opt for a resort that features scuba diving lessons & excursions, among other adventures. Couples that plan to do a lot of sightseeing have a multitude of memorable places to visit here as well. From the Volcanoes National Park to the Waimea Canyon, you'll have plenty of photo ops.

Low stress
Regardless of your personalities, tastes & preferences, a honeymoon should be about one core thing: happiness. Look no further than Hawaii, as the Gallup Well-Being Index revealed that people in this state are the least likely to feel stressed on any given day. Not only do they report low levels of tension, but they also have the highest levels of enjoyment. In fact, nearly 90 percent of residents admitted they had fun the day before Gallup's survey. The odds are your time here will be pleasurable & free of stress – & there's no better way to begin a new marriage than with a smile.

Bonding & intimacy
Your honeymoon presents an excellent opportunity to get even closer to each other, & there's no better place to do just that than Hawaii. According to The Huffington Post, psychology professor Arthur Aron asserts that challenging & stimulating activities such as water skiing, hiking & surfing can strengthen a bond like nothing else. This is because an adrenaline rush triggers a lot of the same feelings that can heighten attraction & arousal. The source noted that the natural sense of togetherness in Hawaii encourages you to really focus on intimacy. Additionally, there are plenty of resorts that foster a certain level of privacy, which might be just what you need. Look for a hotel that has personal plunge pools & private oceanfront verandas.

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