Insurance anyone?

Cheers to another flight delay! Nantucket, 2019

To Insure or Not to Insure… That is the Question
(and also why it’s more important than ever to utilize the services of a travel planner)

Travel is a very hot topic. It always has been, but even more so these days. Because of the pandemic, everyone is wanting to go everywhere, and they want to go right now. But also because of the pandemic, travel has been and still is extremely problematic. Now more than ever, the hot button topic of travel insurance is incredibly important, as is utilizing the services of a travel advisor is incredibly important.

Travel insurance itself is a broad subject, so for this instance, we’ll discuss some very recent actual issues our clients have been facing.

Mother Nature
We recently had a group that booked a trip to Georgia for the weekend. Because of weather issues, their flights were cancelled, and they had nonrefundable tickets. The hotel reservation was also nonrefundable. They had declined travel insurance, so now they’re left paying extra money for new flights, as well as adding a night to the stay for the one missed.

In any type of situation, whether Covid or weather or the myriad of other matters, you can’t rely on the hotel sales manager being lenient. They’re in no win situations also. More on this subject in a bit.


What if you’ve planned the perfect trip (international or domestic). Then, a few days before you leave, you or someone in your travel party tests positive for Covid. If the flights were nonrefundable, you’re out that money. If the hotel is nonrefundable, that’s a double whammy. “But,” you might say, “hotels should be more flexible, especially in a pandemic.” Because cancellations are now happening so often, though, they really can’t be.

We had a client test positive a day before their Christmas trip. Nonrefundable hotel reservation. The hotel had so many incoming guests that tested positive that they had to say no to everyone. Everyone lost their money. Thankfully this client did heed our advice and Travel insurance protected their investment.

Where We Come In
And speaking of covid and vaccinations, I have been getting A LOT of questions surrounding where people can go if they’re not vaccinated, or just partially vaccinated. As you know, there are entrance requirements for international travel. However, maybe you can get into the country, but then other requirements restrict you from patronizing restaurants, utilizing local activities, etc. Then, there are testing requirements for returning home, where you run a big risk of having some kind of issue.

This alone showcases why you need both travel insurance and the advice of a travel planner. One to help you plan for all unforeseen events as well as you can, and the other to protect you if one of those events arises.

Be Safe, Not Sorry
If you purchase travel insurance at the right time (soon after your deposit), it will protect you. If you test positive for Covid, it can help reimburse your expenses. It will help with issues when Mother Nature wreaks havoc. And these are just the smaller issues. Get ill or something happens to you in a foreign country? Without insurance, the costs could be insurmountable.

We do realize that there are a lot of times that travel insurance is not needed (and obviously we hope that is always the case). However, travel is fragile and mercurial. Why not spend a little bit of extra money in order to ensure a big peace of mind? Especially on luxury trips, where the expenditures are extreme, a little extra can potentially save you a lot.

And, as mentioned earlier, the help of an experienced travel advisor (like the entire Shameless Tourist team) can solve many, many issues you may face well before you leave (as well as knowing all the ins and outs that will make your vacation unforgettable).

All roads lead to Disney

All Roads Lead to Disney (But which is the best for you?)

In case you didn’t know it, I am a Disney junkie. I have been a Disney World pass holder for years, and I can honestly say I have been to every single Disney park and experience—anywhere and everywhere (well, except for Disneyland Tokyo). 

Recently, I went on a Disney cruise, and it reminded me again just how magical the Disney experience is, in all shapes and forms, and how different they are. So, as a luxury travel advisor who has a niche for all things Mouse, I figured it was high time for an overview of the big three Disney experiences and a discussion of which one might be right for you. Of course, this is just an overview, because discussing the ins and outs of all the experiences could fill a book—a novella at the very least. 

But, if you are interested in a Disney vacation of any sort, call or email us. The statement about being a Disney expert wasn’t in jest, and an experienced luxury advisor like myself who does specialize in Disney can take away all the stress, add in all the insider tips and tricks and VIP treatment, and make your holiday truly magical.

Disney Cruise Line

When you’re on a Disney cruise, you are on one of the top large cruise liners available. Only this one is also sprinkled with that impeccable Disney service that they are known for and truly deserve. The cruise line is an excellent option for families (especially if not every member has Disney fever) who want the Disney Magic, don’t mind missing out on rides, and want to focus on shows and character experiences. Make sure to note—while the character interactions on the cruise are frequent, they’re not as diverse: they are mainly limited to princesses and the Fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto). 

The atmosphere on the Disney cruise is very chill and low key. There are also no enormous lines to see and talk to the characters like there are at the parks. And, as with most cruises, there are a ton of activities to keep everyone busy and having fun.


Disneyland offers a much more robust “Disney experience” than the cruise. There are more characters to interact with other than just the Fab 5 and some princesses. There are more attractions. And then in addition to everything else, you have the nostalgic experience, as Disneyland is the first park of its kind in the whole world.

Something you might not know about Disneyland is that it can actually be a mini getaway or long weekend trip. You can see most of everything in the park in three days and as a huge bonus for families with toddlers, all hotels on the property are walkable to and from the park. So if there’s a toddler meltdown in the works, someone needs a nap, or you just need a little pool time, you can head to the hotel, do your thing, and then easily walk back to the park.

Disneyland is great for all ages, and definitely has the obvious small child benefits discussed above, but it’s also a good choice for little boys since it features Pixar Pier (think Toy Story and the Incredibles), CarsLand, Marvel Avengers Campus, and a Monsters Inc Ride– and of course, all things Star Wars.

And to state one of the more obvious benefits—it’s southern California. The weather can’t be beat.

Disney World

And now for the one park to rule them all: Disney World. As mentioned in the beginning, I’ve been to every Disney park and experience out there, and I can honestly say that there truly is nothing like it in the world. Now, is Disney World for the weak? No. It’s not calm and relaxing like the cruise, nor can you scurry back to your hotel for a nap like Disneyland. But come on, this is Disney World. This is serious game face time, and it is quite simply amazingly magical.

Time wise, it definitely should not be done over a weekend. You need a minimum of five nights to see a good amount of things, which still doesn’t come close to being the entire park. (I’ve been a pass holder for years and still haven’t seen everything). 

In a nutshell

So what do I recommend? Well, the answer isn’t so clear cut (as you were probably expecting). But, there are some key takeaways from each and some general tips as a whole.

Key Takeaways:

  • Disney Cruise Line: A little Disney with little waiting combined with a lot of fun, relaxation, and luxury for the whole family.
  • Disneyland: The super fun full-park experience in a smaller package with great incentives for young families.
  • Disney World: The Disney Mecca. You cannot say you’ve truly done Disney if you haven’t been to the mother land.

General Tips:

  • If you want a “one and done” Disney trip, then it should be Disney World.
  • You could stair step your trips: Do Disneyland first as a precursor that trains you for the marathon that is Disney World. Or alternatively, you could go big and go World the first time out, and then take it down a notch on a subsequent trip to Disneyland or chill on a cruise.
  • If you have a little princess keen on interacting with the big princesses, I would suggest going to World before age 6, as the princess fascination peaks out around then.
  • Boys, actually, can go to the park a little later and their fascination tends to be more long lasting.

Making the True Magic Happen

As you can hopefully tell, whichever Disney experience you select will be amazing. They work very hard on providing the utmost in fun, magic, adventure, and service. If you are interested in booking a trip to any of the three, I highly recommend using a travel advisor well versed in Disney, like The Shameless Tourist. We can help you get the most bang for your buck, get you the VIP experiences you didn’t know you could get, and basically take all the stress and headache away while planning you an adventure that we know you will love (we know because we’ve experienced it and planned it a thousand times). So, ready to go? Call us today to start planning?

In To Africa

The world is opening back up, and everyone is flocking to adventure. And not just any adventure—so many are doing big ticket bucket list type trips. 

Close your eyes and think about it—if you could choose anywhere, where would you go? For a lot of people, an African safari is at the top of that list. That selection is completely understandable. But, there are things you may not have considered about a big trek to East Africa, and some things you should totally consider about South Africa. 

Before we begin, though, let me reiterate that all my suggestions are based on my experience, my associations, the extensive contacts I’ve gained throughout my experience and travels, and because either myself or one of my team members have actually visited the places I write about. You may not necessarily agree with my findings, but you can absolutely trust them.

So let’s start with East Africa. The gamelands of East Africa are probably what you picture in your head when you think of an African vacation. It’s the scenes you remember from Out of Africa. It’s what you pictured as a child when you were playing animal safari.

East Africa is vastly beautiful. It’s also more culturally authentic. The local people are much more involved in tourism. When traveling with a guide into the countryside, you can actually glimpse tribal living. You can meet the natives. You have opportunities to see how they hunt and how they live. It’s an amazing experience.

And then as for the safaris—if you’re seeking a big animal safari-dominated itinerary, this is your destination. You will see the big animals in ways you’ve only dreamed of. An enormous proportion of the country is national parks and wildlife reserves. It is wilder, more expansive, and untrammeled than other parts of Africa. It is the stuff of your childhood imaginings.

But here is where a trip focusing on East Africa can be problematic. For some, the thoughts of a safari trip is a big bucket list item. The lure and imagination draws you to it. But when you’re there, after you’ve seen a few elephants, you may be like, “okay, what’s next?” And while the safaris are grand and the cultural element is amazing, there may not be much else for you to see.

And this is why you should consider South Africa.

I’ll be honest. South Africa is completely not what I expected.

For the most part, it’s very first world. Incredibly diverse. Completely entertaining. If you want a lot of variety in your vacation (or if you’re a family seeking a little bit for everyone), South Africa is a great choice.

Start in Franschhoek in the beautiful countryside for some top notch rest and relaxation. Zip line through the forest. Scooter through the vineyards and sample some amazing wine and fine cuisine (yes, it’s actually as if you were visiting Napa). From there, travel to the dazzling Cape Town. It’s an incredible city right on the water with amazing mountain views and tons of hip bistros, elegant hotels, and eclectic shopping. Visit Table Mountain—one of the new seven natural wonders of the world (it has its own eco system!).

But you also don’t have to forego the safari experience. While Kruger National Park may be a little more tamed than the East African landscape, you can still get a classic safari experience and even see the big five in the bush. 

You can even stay at the Tswalu Kalahari—one of the best hotels in the world, with basically a Michelin Star Restaurant onsite, in the middle of no where.

South Africa’s unofficial motto is “A World in One Country” and it certainly is that. You can experience safari, city, beach, desert, bush, etc., all within one relatively small area. 

But, if you’re wanting to experience big time safari and the native culture, South Africa may not be your cup of tea.

Now here’s where I and my team come in.

Planning vacations are stressful. Super stressful. There are some people, though, who find the planning very stimulating, sort of the thrill of the chase. But on both of those scenarios, whether you enjoyed the planning or hated it, the end result is lackluster.

So don’t do it. Experience your ultimate vacation.

Here’s the thing—like I said earlier, I have years of experience planning vacations. I have associates and friends all over the globe and in every nook and cranny. But beyond that—I’ve actually traveled to these places. And, I’ve done it as a single, as a married couple, and as a family.

How can you be expected to plan the perfect vacation when you’ve never been there (or even select the location best for you, like our East/South Africa examples)? Or you’re trusting the opinion of your sister-in-law’s friend who may or may not have been there? Or even the advice of travel “influencers” or amateur travel planners who haven’t experienced your destination, and are only after the swag or kick backs?

Picture this: 

  • Having a wonderfully smooth airline experience
  • Getting a VIP meet and greet at the airport
  • Staying at a world-class hotel that is ideal for your needs and wants
  • Having an amazing itinerary (perfectly planned out for you) where all you have to do is show up 
  • Utilizing guides with cars at your disposal (even if your family is doing different itinerary excursions
  • Ending your trip of a lifetime with the nicest hotel in the best location
  • And more

Details and nuances matter. Experience matters. Working with a luxury travel advisor can take your trip from just okay to something that your family will remember forever.

Trust me. My team can make all that and more happen for you. Give us a call today to set up your dream vacation.

P.S. Did you know that I ate a meal with Nelson Mandela’s prison guard when in South Africa? I did. And that’s the kind of access we can get you, too.

Sail Sur L’eau

Imagine, if you will…

Waking up from a blissful, supremely restful sleep on an absolutely sumptuous queen-sized bed with premium custom mattress. You follow the delectable mouth-watering scent wafting in the air to the sun deck where find the most decadent breakfast warmly waiting on you. Coffee? Tea? Mimosa? All of the above? Anything you want is at your service.

After you make a happy plate and swear you’ll never eat again, you see Nico appear, letting you know the tender is ready for your requested beach excursion. After your short ride to the beach, the crew sets up your chairs, umbrella, and fully stocked cooler bag, as well as your reef-safe sunscreen and towels.

After spending a few hours in complete relaxation, you head back onboard for a light lunch. And yep, you guessed it. Here’s where the taxing part of your trip occurs (because there’s always something…). The crew has the nerve to tell you that you have to make a decision. Do you spend the afternoon exploring town like a local, trying out some of the awesome water toys, or doing your best to hold down one of the bean bag chairs or hammock on the bow (with the stewardess intuitively bringing you carefully crafted custom cocktails to satiate your thirst)?

Dinner is a sumptuous, out-of-this-world affair that has you marveling at how you ever lived without having your own personal chef, only to be followed by an impromptu karaoke/dance party on the beautiful teak flooring underneath the most amazing star-filled sky.

And then when you have sapped up every bit of the day and evening you can, you head back to your fine Italian linens and drift off to the most enchanting slumber possible so you can wake up and do it all over again the next day (or something completely different—it’s 100% your choice!!).

This is what life is like onboard Sur L’eau.

Wake up each morning to amazing views in a new location. Eat what you want when you want (all prepared by Sur L’eau’s own personal chef), go where you want to go when you want to go (and have everything you need packed and assembled by Sur L’eau’s very own crew). Have everything done for you, without having to organize anything yourself. You have the ultimate luxury of doing nothing, or doing everything, if you want. Oh, and you do it all without any other guest other than the family or closest friends you brought with you.

Wake up, eat, drink, swim (or surf or fish or explore), repeat. It’s really that simple. And even more amazing than it sounds.

The most bespoke sailing yacht on the water

Sur L’eau is a 75 ft. Privilege sailing catamaran with four opulent queen en suite cabins, accommodating eight guests. The epitome of personalized luxury, Sur L’eau is essentially a floating, fully-stocked villa on the water, except it’s so much more than a private villa (or resort, or hotel). “There’s no way!” You scoff. And yet, it is. Your seven-day charter comes with your very own staff including personal chef, bartender, twice-daily maid service, and more. Whenever you want it—not for when you schedule it or it might be available. Not as add ons or for extra money. The crew, the food, the cocktails, the water toys, the completely sensational service, the overall splendor and opulence—it’s all included.

Vacation Like the Royalty You Are
You know what sounds amazing? Being able to vacation in complete luxury—but, without any other guests around. No having to make reservations to get the best dining spot. No having to get to the resort pool first so you can get the best spot for relaxing.

On Sur L’eau, it’s just you, your seven other family members or close friends, and the crew. That’s it. Doesn’t that sound like paradise? And honestly, don’t you deserve it?

But wait. Spouse getting on your nerves one day? That’s okay. Sur L’eau has enough space for everyone to have their own private place.

It even goes beyond the privacy, though. It’s also the exclusivity. As I mentioned above, you don’t have to make reservations or hustle to the best spot. You have everything to yourself. Wherever you are is the best spot. Also, a sailing yacht is mobile and the crew is very, very knowledgeable and experienced. What does that mean? That since some destinations can only be reached by boat, you have access to some of the most untouched locations on earth. Talk about exclusive.

All of that combined with your very own customized, personalized luxury, since absolutely everything is at your service? You are the king and queen of your very own five-star floating resort. As you should be.

No Reservations? No Problem! (You don’t need them).
Get away from the hustle and bustle. Relax. Really relax. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of amazing calming shades of blue all round you. Stars that look close enough to touch. Tropical islands, flora and fauna, local customs and culture. And because you’re on a floating resort—the scenery can change daily, at your whim.

Visit secluded beaches only accessible by boat and those in the know. Dance the night away at a funky local club. Peruse designer boutiques and local artisan shops. Drink your weight in local spirits. It’s all available on the same vacation! Plus — you don’t have to mess with your luggage, negotiate taxis, or deal with other tourists or crowded hotel lobbies.

Freedom. Flexibility. Heaven.
Not only do you get to bask in the splendor of Sur L’eau’s amazing accommodations, you also get toys. Lots of toys! Kayaks, paddle boards, standup peddle boards, knee boards, water skis, wake board, fishing and casting rods, trampolines, and more! Whew! That’s a lot. If you love the water, there’s a toy on Sur L’eau for you. And, you don’t have to reserve it. It’s all yours!

Want to try your hand at surfing or scuba diving? It can be arranged for you. Not interested in the water toys (or want other, more exotic adventures)? We can arrange trips into town for you to explore the local flora, flauna, nightlife, etc. Or set you up on your own private beach. There is so much to do and see on a luxury yacht charter. If we don’t have it, the crew will try to find it for you.

Beyond that is the yacht itself. There are spots throughout for enjoying the wind, the wake, the sea air, snacks, cocktails, reading, napping, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

We know some of you may think a yacht vacation is all about the water sports. It can be, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. It all depends on what you want for your personalized luxury experience (more on that below).

Your own personal chef and Sensational service
No reservations, no problem (no need)
A vacation onboard your very own luxury charter yacht is an exceptional experience that being in a stationary hotel, however luxurious, cannot compete with. As we have alluded to, your yacht charter comes with its very own dedicated crew. And Sur L’eau’s crew? It’s the best on the water.

Relax and prepare to be pampered, because the crew are dedicated professionals who are amazing at what they do. They are available day and night, to ensure you receive five-star service at all times. Warm towels right when you need them. A cool and tasty beverage when you didn’t even know you needed it. With the subtle knack of disappearing at just the right moments.

They are attentive to your whims, and incredibly detail oriented on carrying out your requests. If you have a hankering for a certain dish, Chef Amy will whip it up for you. Have the sudden impulse to boogie down at a beach bar? The crew will know exactly where to go.

But let’s go back to Chef Amy. A world-class chef making the most incredibly delicious food you’ve ever tasted (not an exaggeration) for each meal of your stay. Can you imagine? From cocktails to canapes, from gourmet cuisines to local specialties, you will be dining on the very best ingredients, presented to perfection, at every single meal while onboard.

And what makes all this even better? Here’s where I come in!
As you have hopefully seen, chartering a sailing yacht like Sur L’eau (especially Sur L’eau) is an incredible way for friends and family to share precious time together while making forever memories. However, there are things I can do as a luxury travel advisor to make the experience even more seamless.

I can work with you on your charter preferences beforehand, so everything can be absolutely perfect when you step onboard. If you or your family has any dietary restrictions, I can work with the chef so she can select ingredients that meet your needs and blow away your wants. Interested in a surf school or other specialized excursion, I can plan it for you. Not a huge water sport fan? I can provide you with itinerary suggestions that will give you the vacation of your dreams. I can also help in determining the best location, embarkation and disembarkation points to make your trip completely seamless.

You can still decide things on a whim onboard, of course, but I can do the heavy lifting prior to your trip to make it one you’ll never forget.

If you want the trip of a lifetime, sail Sur L’eau. Contact The Shameless Tourist today for available dates.

The Real Cost of Fake Reviews

Reviews are great. They help us make decisions on things as small as which toothpaste will leave us the most minty fresh or as large as where to go and stay for one of the biggest events in our lives. We put our trust in people we don’t even know because hey, they’ve tried it [toothpaste, restaurant, resort, etc.], right, so they know best? Right? We benefit from their supposedly-seasoned knowledge and should put our faith in their review.

Or should we?

A new study conducted by the University of Baltimore’s economist Professor Roberto Cavazos claims that counterfeit content will influence an astonishing $21 billion in travel bookings worldwide this year. Cavazos defined fake online reviews as any review that isn’t a consumer’s honest and impartial opinion and does not reflect a genuine experience of a product, service, or business. Fashion, beauty, entertainment, housewares and electronics top the list for most-faked reviews. Travel ranks sixth. 

$21 billion in travel bookings based on fake, or significantly biased, reviews! 

As a luxury travel advisor who takes immense pride in what I and my team do, this number is appalling! As is where the counterfeit content appears. This particular study referenced above focused on the most influential sites (that claim to contain honest and unbiased reviews), like Yelp, Trust Pilot, TripAdvisor, etc. Roughly 4% of reviews are fake, according to the study, with Yelp having an incredible 8% (so out of every hundred reviews you read on Yelp, eight are not real).

But it’s not just the “user-generated” sites. It’s also bloggers and influencers. Individuals thought of as legitimate, trustworthy sources who are making millions every year from biased content and bogus write ups. $100 or so out the window for a lackluster high-review-based meal is one thing. $10,000 spent for a resort vacation based on bogus reviews is very serious money.

The fake reviews are even prevalent, though, within our own industry. Travel agents new to the biz (or even established ones) trying to get more clients may hype a restaurant, resort, or destination they haven’t experienced. Or they’ll get their friends and families to post reviews about a vacation or their services, without having experienced either.

Or there may be a hotel that looks amazing online, but when you arrive, you discover those spectacular photos were what it looked like a few years ago, and it is now in far from tip-top condition.

And finally, there are reviews that are real and not meant to be misleading, but are. For example, someone who just went on their honeymoon may tout “the best resort ever,” and it might have been for a honeymoon, but not as great for a family trip with teenagers and toddlers.

So what does all this mean for you?

When planning a luxury trip, you need to work with an experienced team—one who has either been to the resorts and restaurants they’re recommending (or who have trusted affiliates they absolutely depend on) and can truly vouch for your experience, one who can not only help with meal reservations but also create a complete itinerary truly suited to your needs and wants, and one who can help make sure you are spending your money wisely.

In just this summer alone, The Shameless Tourist’s team of four has visited more than 45 different properties covering nine states, eight countries, and three continents, including places like Walt Disney World, St. Martin, Boston, Africa, Slovenia, Croatia, Paris and more. 

This summer alone. 

Our recommendations may not be the most popular choice according to the reviews. It may not even be something on your radar (either resort or destination wise). But you can trust us that it will be the best recommendation for your particular set of circumstances based on places we have actually experienced (and those are vast, as you can see from our example above).

As examples: 

Thumbs down on a big thumbs-up-reviewed resort in Costa Rica

A particular resort in Costa Rica has great reviews everywhere online. However, their customer service is terrible. Trying to plan activities with their concierge was frustrating and time consuming. We primarily booked the resort for surfing. When we arrived, they had forgotten to set up our surfing lessons. We also booked an expensive fishing charter; however, they ended up setting it up as a snorkeling trip. In addition to all the wasted time, we were also significantly overcharged, for which we never received a response after several attempts.

Zack and Kelly could have honeymooned at this New England Inn

We visited a Luxury affiliated country inn in New England that had beautiful photos on its website. When we arrived, we were greeted with a roof that needed to be redone, peeling paint, and an overall 80s feel (in that it hadn’t been refreshed or revamped since Saved by the Bell’s hey days). However, we found a hotel right next door that was much nicer but that wasn’t really on the radar. It didn’t have a pool like the original one, but it was an eminently better property.

Exceptional family value in Destin

Next is a family resort in Destin that again has great reviews online. I agree with those, and I would even recommend it further. It is an exceptionally good value for what it is, as you get Virtuoso amenities (hooray for room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and more!) including a lazy river, splash pad, zero entry pool, and more, for usually less than $500 per night. Additionally, it is steps away from one of the prettiest beaches in Florida. And while I’m not completely obsessed with Destin as a Florida destination (there are much prettier towns, in my opinion), it is a very nice family resort (with beach service!) at a great value.

Bloggers don’t necessarily know St. Barth

This next example is a really good one in terms of relevance to this article. This St. Barth’s resort has tons of bloggers and influencers repping and promoting it, but the reviews and info about it aren’t entirely truthful. While it does have cute rooms, it has issues that should be considered before booking. The onsite restaurant was awful and the service was terrible. The beach restaurant was also not good. Additionally, the hotel itself is not beachfront. In our opinion, there are other, better choices in St. Barths.

And we can say that because we have been there and experienced all aspects of that property, as well as countless others, all over the world.

At The Shameless Tourist, we believe your hard-earned money is important. We believe that if you are spending thousands on a vacation, then it should be well worth it. As for our credentials, The Shameless Tourist is an Independent Affiliate of Avenue Two Travel, one of the most well respected travel agencies in the luxury travel sphere, and we are a top producer and preferred partner with most of the world’s best hotels and resorts, tour operators, and cruise lines. We have personal contacts around the travel world, many of whom we call friends. In addition to our contacts, we also collectively spend hundreds of days each year attending webinars, reading news, listening to podcasts, and personally touring or experiencing dozens and dozens of the properties we most often recommend. Our clients are VIPs at our preferred partner hotels and receive all of the “in the know” knowledge of practically any destination they choose.

You can rest assured, there are no bogus recommendations from our team, as our own reviews will attest (see what we did there 😉 ).

The Sunshine State Travel Spree

Earlier this month, Stephanie and I set out on a mad dash to see some of our favorite properties on the South Atlantic Coast of Florida into the Keys in a 4 night, 13 hotel “shopping spree.” By Day 4 (honestly by Day 2!), we were exhausted, but we learned so much– and isn’t that the point of using a Travel Advisor? So many people can tell you a great place that they have been, or sometimes more importantly– where not to go, but a great Advisor can point out the differences between the best properties, telling you why you should choose one property over another. When you are looking for the perfect place to celebrate a milestone, school break, or just a hard earned getaway– make sure you have an advisor on your side who is helping to guide you to the best property for YOU! Anyways, here are a few of the properties we visited on our “Travel Spree!”

Eau Palm Beach

We started our “Travel Spree” in Palm Beach, staying the night and touring Eau Palm Beach.

Why Stay Here? Spa lovers and Decor enthusiasts will rejoice in this property! Honestly, I don’t know if I have seen a more “fun” spa than Eau Palm Beach– take time to enjoy the amenities of the common spaces before and after treatments. I also love the decor of the rooms, they are so perfectly tasteful, feeling very “Palm Beach” with splashes of color and Mid-Century Modern. Families will also love their great kids club!

Pro Tip: Book an Oceanfront Lanai Terrace Suite and have access to all of the amenities of a Pool Cabana right out your Suite Door!

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast for two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

The Breakers, Palm Beach

Why Stay Here? There is really no better word than “iconic” for the Breakers Palm Beach. This resort is steeped in history and very much put South Florida on the Tourism Map for the United States. It is truly a history buff’s (like me) dream, having evolved so many times over the past 100+ years it has been in place. The amazing thing about this hotel is that it is still family owned and operated after all of these years! To put the icing on the cake, the family takes no money from the hotel each year, placing all of the profits back into the hotel for renovations, expansion, and employee benefits. Anyone wanting a historic property or a place to go with lots to do on site (with still impeccable service), will love the Breakers.

Pro Tip: If you want the best of the best service, book a Flager Club Room!

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Signature breakfast daily for two guests per bedroom served in The Circle or The Beach Club Restaurant
  • $100 USD Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach

Why Stay Here? Looking to stay close to Miami but still out of the South Beach area? If you want some of the largest rooms and a resort atmosphere, Acqualina might be right for you! With their iconic Red and White outdoor decor, you are bound to have a glamorous South Florida Getaway at Acqualina!

Pro Tip: If you are looking for the Ultimate in Privacy, Acqualina has very small floors (sometimes with only 4 rooms per floor). If you have a larger group, it is easy to book an entire floor to yourself!

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily a La Carte Breakfast for two adults, per bedroom
  • $100 USD Spa Services credit, to be utilized during stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-F

Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club

Why Stay Here? Stephanie says I have a love affair with Four Seasons Hotels– she isn’t wrong. I’m completely smitten with the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club. It perfectly combines my love of history, modern elegance, and luxury all in one beautiful property. Being a Luxury Travel Advisor, I always look at hotels with a discerning eye– how crowded is it? How is the vibe? What is unique about this property? Location? Room quality? And finally, what is the price point for all of these factors? While this hotel is certainly on the high end of the spectrum for price point, it was one of the only hotels we saw over spring break that was almost completely booked up and did not feel extremely busy, which to me, speaks volumes. This hotel is also an icon North of Miami and it has been graced by the presence of greats such as Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Winston Churchill, and more.

Pro Tip: Book a room in the Cabana Tower for a Room with a Private Cabana attached! Or if you can’t swing a stay here, make sure you at least take time to visit their famous Champagne Bar, you won’t regret it!

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • Daily full breakfast for two people per bedroom, served in a hotel restaurant or through In-Room Dining 
  • Hotel/Resort Credit* (based on room category booked):
    • Guest Rooms: USD 100 credit per stay
    • Suites and Specialty Suites: USD 200 credit per stay
    • Private Retreats: USD 200 credit per bedroom per stay
  • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in
  • Complimentary standard Internet in all guest rooms and premium Internet in all suites

1 Hotel South Beach

Why Stay Here? Are you looking for an Oasis in the middle of South Beach? Close to everything but the feeling that you are a million miles from the hustle and bustle? The 1 Hotel might be the right choice for you. With some of the largest and most beautiful rooms in the city, a rooftop bar and pool, multiple restaurants, a beach club, and a focus on wellness and your “day life” (as opposed to your “night life”), the 1 Hotel certainly made us feel right at home for our one night stay during our journey.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the gym here! It’s the largest hotel gym in North America.

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Full American Breakfast daily for two per bedroom
  • $100 USD Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
  • Early check-in is subject to availability
  • Guaranteed 4pm late check-out for Premium Suites and Penthouses with all other room categories subject to availability
  • VIP Welcome Amenity
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

The Miami Beach Edition

Why Stay Here? If you want a hotel that embodies everything Miami, The Edition Hotel is your place. From the Mid-Century Modern Decor (and even remnants of its history!), to the nightclub, glitzy lobby, bowling alley, and ice skating rink, the Edition certainly screams Miami in all the best ways.

Pro Tip: Book a Bungalow Room (are you seeing a Pro Tip Pattern for South Florida?!)

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • Welcome Amenity
  • Complimentary Breakfast for Two Daily ($60/daily Value)
  • $100 USD Hotel Credit
  • Complimentary WiFi daily
  • First priority on waitlists in sold-out situations
  • Early Check-in/late Check-out, based on availability
  • First priority for requested room category, bed type, rollaways and connecting rooms
  • VIP status granted with in-person warm welcome
  • Priority for complimentary room upgrade (based on availability upon arrival)
  • Welcome note from General Manager (or Hotel Management)

The Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne

Why Stay Here? Looking for a Florida Keys vibe just 20 minutes from the Miami airport? Look no further than the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne. With a laid back ambience, great on-site shopping and dining, and plenty of water fun for all, this hotel fits the bill for many personalities.

Pro Tip: Book a Cabana at the pool during your stay! The elevated platforms and personal service are well worth it!

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • Full Breakfast Buffet for two people daily in Lightkeepers Restaurant
  • Welcome Amenity
  • $100 USD Hotel Credit
  • Complimentary WiFi daily
  • First priority on waitlists in sold-out situations
  • Early Check-in/late Check-out, based on availability
  • First priority for requested room category, bed type, rollaways and connecting rooms
  • VIP status granted with in-person warm welcome
  • Priority for complimentary room upgrade (based on availability upon arrival)
  • Welcome note from General Manager (or Hotel Management)

Baker’s Cay Resort

Why Stay Here? If you are looking for a VIP Experience in Key Largo, which is the closest true “key” to Miami, Baker’s Cay is definitely the spot for you. With a dedicated team to assist our clients in making sure they are welcome and feel at home here, you will have the personal attention to detail and service that really makes a difference in a getaway. This hotel was recently refurbished and was beautifully decorated in doing so!

Pro Tip: Wanting Peace and Quiet? Book a Hammock View Room. Want to be in the middle of all of the action and with the most breathtaking ocean views? Make sure to book a Waterfront Room!

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • VIP Status
  • Personalized Welcome Amenities
  • Exclusive access to the onsite Guest Coordinator who can assist with just about anything!

Playa Largo Resort & Spa

Why Stay Here? If you are wanting a hotel with a large pool and lots of common amenities in Key Largo, Playa Largo might be the right choice for you! Personally, I feel like families will love this resort because of it’s common spaces and large beach area.

Pro Tip: Make sure to take part in their nightly Sunset Party at the beach!

The Shameless Tourist Perks:

  • Welcome Amenity
  • Complimentary Breakfast for Two Daily
  • Complimentary WiFi daily
  • Early Check-in/late Check-out, based on availability.
  • VIP status granted
  • Priority for complimentary room upgrade (based on availability upon arrival).
  • Welcome note from General Manager (or Hotel Management)

Little Palm Island

Why Stay Here? Looking for the only true luxury property in the Keys? Look no further! Little Palm Island is about a 30 minute drive and a 10 minute boat ride north of Key West. It is truly a paradise on this tiny island where the room accommodations, common spaces, and restaurant are all pristine!

Pro Tip: Our Favorite Room Category is the Island Romance Suite which has a private outdoor soaking tub! Book early and through the Shameless Tourist to make sure your suite is assigned to the most private location and best view.

Ocean Key Resort

Why Stay Here? Looking for the resort with the best location on Key West? Ocean Key Resort is located just at the end of Duval Street, the most “happening street” on this small island! While the lobby is very pretty, the rooms do need a little bit of updating.

Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort

Why Stay Here? If you are looking for a resort on Key West with a large pool and great places for the kids to run around, Casa Marina might be the spot for you! Again, it’s worthwhile to note that the rooms here are in need of updating but we found the common spaces at Casa Marina to be a bit more accommodating to families than Ocean Key.

Do you love South Florida and the Keys? Drop us your favorite tip below!

Travel in 2021 and Beyond!

Since the pandemic began, you would be hard pressed to find an industry that is more changed by COVID than Travel. From new procedures and protocols to entry and exit requirements, it’s no wonder most of those who are traveling now have changed their travel habits as well. January is often the month where most people plan travel for some part of their year and at the Shameless Tourist we are beyond lucky to have seen a January and February to be booming with clients looking to plan their Spring Break, Summer, and Fall getaways.

Domestic Stays

“Long haul” travel has been placed on the back burner for many of us recently and most of our clients are looking to stay closer to home. We are so lucky to live in such a large country with so many diverse landscapes, there is a lot of domestic travel to choose from! Our top destinations have been Arizona, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and as always– Florida! Rounding out this list lately is Hawaii, which reopened in the fall and has been more popular than ever for travelers looking for a beach getaway.

Nature Calling

Our big cities in the US are something that have always amazed me- the energy, the culture, the food! But in the past year we have seen a big shift toward the great outdoors— the Mountains and the Beach are where most of our clients want to be and many are rekindling a love for an old sport or finding joy in a new one. Golf enthusiasts are flocking to their favorite courses and finding time to check off the bucket list some of those courses they have always wanted to play. Skiers are enjoying the snow, fisherman are getting out on their boats, and even I have taken up a new sport– Surfing.

Longer stays, more luxurious hotels

With work from home and school from home being a large part of our lives now, another trend we have noticed is that most people are booking longer getaways. The short weekend getaway has turned to week long stays for many. I’ve also noticed a more dramatic shift in the luxury travel sphere– more people have been willing to book luxury hotel options. I’m assuming this has to do with traveling less frequently (more budget for getaways), less expensive airfare, and the desire for a stress free vacation. I’ve also noticed for my clients who have kids back in school, the desire to travel during school breaks has been immense, so I recommend if you would like to travel during the breaks, plan ahead!

Our Favorite Getaways

So, for the fun part– where are our favorite places to recommend at the moment? Where are our clients traveling to? Here’s a short list of some of our favorites:

As a reminder, booking any of the above properties through the Shameless Tourist give you exclusive access to VIP amenities, pricing, and insider tips you cannot get by booking directly at the same price or better than listed online. Contact us today to learn more and find your perfect 2021 getaway!

Living La Pura Vida

Costa Rica has always been a popular place to visit for US Travelers, but in recent years it has become one of the top destinations for which I receive requests! Daily flights from many US hubs (that are usually fairly short!) coupled with plenty of adventure, nature experiences, and pristine beaches– Costa Rica is definitely worthy of its hype. The icing on the cake is that the “Tico” People are also some of the nicest and most hospitable you will ever meet. If you want to experience the Pura Vida (as they say), look no further than Costa Rica.

Getting There:

There are two major airports in Costa Rica; San Jose (the Capital) and Liberia. San Jose is a great choice to fly into if you would like to visit the rain forest and Arenal Volcano area. Liberia is the right choice if you would like to visit the beaches of the famous Guanacaste region. Pro Tip: Fly into San Jose and out of Liberia if you are wanting to really experience the country.

Planning Your Stay:

As I mentioned previously, I usually recommend visitors split their stay in this gorgeous country. Spending a few nights in the Arenal area and then a few nights near the beach. I would plan to spend a minimum of 7 nights in Costa Rica to get a taste of both locations.

The Arenal Area:

Visitors love the Arenal area which is located about 2 hours from San Jose airport. This area immerses guests in the rain forest and the flora and fauna that Costa Rica is famous for. If you aren’t aware, Costa Rica is the most bio diverse country in the world! Visit coffee plantations, soak in hot springs, go zip-lining, explore “cloud forests”, and scout animals.

Where to Stay in Arenal:

Nayara Springs, Nayara Gardens, and Nayara Tented Camp- this property is great for those staying 3 nights or more as there are lots of restaurants and on property experiences to choose from. Nayara Springs is the adults only side of Nayara Gardens, which allows families. Nayara Tented Camp is their brand new section offering “glamping” in the amazing Costa Rican Rainforest.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • A la Carte breakfast daily for two guests per bedroom
    • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa- The only property with natural hot springs flowing freely through the property, Tabacon is a hot spring and spa lovers dream!

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Daily Buffet Breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served in the Restaurant
    • $100 USD equivalent Resort Credit to be utilized during stay, applicable to Food & Beverage or Spa services (Not applicable to tours, souvenir store, spa retails products, transfers, minibar. Not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeem in full)
    • Unlimited entrance to the hot springs resort during the stay
    • Exclusive Access to Shangri-La Gardens for hotel guest 18+
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

The Beach:

Costa Rica is lucky to have two large coastlines to choose from– one on the Caribbean Sea side and the other on the Pacific sea side. While the Caribbean side of the country has an amazing culture of its own, I always recommend staying on the Pacific side– the tourism is more developed in this area, the water is warmer, and it is generally a safer area of the country. From Las Mareas all the way down to Tamarindo, there are tons of places to choose from and I would love to help you choose the best beach town for you!

Beach Resorts from North to South:

Dreams Las Mareas: At almost the border of Nicaragua, Dreams Las Mareas is the perfect choice for families looking for an all inclusive resort.

Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo: This resort is hard to beat in terms of amenities, accommodations, area, and more. It is one of the most popular Four Seasons Resorts in the world for a reason– the common spaces are beautiful, restaurants amazing, and this area of Costa Rica has so much to do in a very small area. Pro Tip: Book a Canopy Suite and spend a few nights in a real life adult tree house. These are my most favorite rooms on the property!

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
    • For suite bookings, one complimentary round of golf per guest per stay (including club rentals)
    • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites, villas, and private residences)
    • Welcome note at check-in
    • Complimentary basic Internet in all guest rooms; complimentary premium Internet in all suites
    • Choice of USD100 Spa credit (not applicable to products) or USD100 golf credit

Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo: If you want to be in the Papagayo area, but are looking for a more modern vibe or your budget doesn’t quite stretch far enough to stay at the Four Seasons, the Andaz is an amazing choice. With some of the most beautiful entry level rooms in Costa Rica, you will be spoiled at the Andaz! And being only about 5 minutes drive from the Four Seasons, you still have access to the amazing restaurants and bars at both hotels (plus the most amazing golf course!).

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom
    • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of booking
    • Welcome amenity
    • Complimentary basic Internet in all guest rooms
    • $100 Resort Credit

Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica: If you are looking for an adults only, all inclusive resort in Costa Rica, Secrets is always a great choice. About a 20 minute drive from the Peninsula Papagayo area where Four Seasons and Andaz are located sits the Secrets Papagayo resort. The Papagayo area is only about a 25 minute drive from the Liberia airport, making it a super easy place to visit, and Secrets always presents an amazing value for its guests.

The Mangroove, an Autograph Collection: Looking for a boutique hotel at a great price near this exclusive Papagayo area? The Mangroove is your place!

The Westin, W Hotel, and Margaritaville: although I did not see this area, these three hotels all share a similar location in Playa Flamingo, about 45 minutes south of the Liberia airport and a popular snorkeling spot on the coast.

Calaluna Hotel & JW Marriott: These two properties are in the Southern part of the Guanacaste region in Tamarindo, one of the oldest and most famous beach towns in Costa Rica. Tamarindo is a lively city with lots of local and international travel, a huge beach with lots of beach vendors, restaurants, bars, and more. Tamarindo is also famous for surfing. I would choose this location for those looking for a lively local beach vibe or those wanting to learn/intermediate surfers. Choose Calaluna for a boutique hotel experience right in the city.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks- at the Mangroove, Westin, W, and JW Marriott, our clients enjoy perks like:
    • Complimentary Breakfast
    • Room Upgrades
    • Resort Credits
    • and more!

Have you been to Costa Rica recently? Is a trip on your horizon? Let us help you plan!

Saint Barths Destination Guide

I’ve been all around the Caribbean and Saint Barths, for me, takes the cake. The amazing restaurants, the gorgeous shops, the best hotels, the cleanliness of the island— for those looking for an island escape where they can get out of the resort and really have the island as their playground; I can’t think of a better place than St. Barths.

We just wrapped up a 10 night stay on and around the island; 6 nights we sailed on a luxury 75′ Catamaran “Sur L’eau” and for the last four nights we rested on land. I also had the pleasure of visiting most of the best hotels on the island and dining at many of the favorite “hot spots”. I plan to write a separate post about our incredible experience on Sur L’eau, but I wanted to recap our trip on land for this St. Barths destination guide— St. Barths is truly a world class destination with so much to offer, however you decide to experience it!

Getting to St. Barths

A wise person once told me, “you can’t get to paradise on a 747”. This is definitely the truth with St. Barths!

There are four ways to arrive– via hopper flight from San Juan, St. Maarten, or Antigua or via ferry from St. Maarten. My favorite way is via the Tradewinds flight from San Juan. Tradewinds is an amazing airline to fly with and their planes are so nice and well appointed for the 45 minute flight! Pro Tip: Add the VIP service to your Tradewinds flight to make traveling through a breeze!

Where to Stay

Eden Rock- St Barths

Why Stay Here? Travelers looking to stay in the middle of all the action will love Eden Rock St. Barths. In the heart of St. Jean beach, this is a perfect choice for those wanting something “fun and lively” in the best location. I also can’t get enough of the red and white everything.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks
    • Daily Full Breakfast for two people per bedroom, including buffets
    • Access to the best room booked in your particular category
    • One Category Room Upgrade at Time of Booking, based on availability
    • Complimentary High Speed Internet Access
    • Priority access to the hotel courtesy car
    • $100 USD Food and Beverage Credit once per stay for single night stay, $200 Credit for stays over 2 nights

Cheval Blanc

Why Stay Here? To me, Cheval Blanc is perfect for those wanting something distinctively French with understated elegance, in a superb location (right next to the action, but not quite in the heart of it), and someone who wants a beautiful, expansive beach to spend time on. Cheval Blanc is located on Flamands Beach, which is one of the largest beaches in St. Barths and is right next to St. Jean (where Eden Rock is located).

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Daily Full or A La Carte Breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served at the restaurant.
    • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
    • Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Villa Marie

Why Stay Here? Design lovers will rejoice in this beautiful mix of plantation style architecture with fun patterns and eclectic accessories. Plus the views from this resort are simply the best. Perched on top of the hills above Colombier beach, don’t expect beach access from the resort directly, but coming mid-December 2020 guests will have access to Villa Marie’s all new beach club in the heart of St. Jean Beach.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Roundtrip Transfers
    • Daily Breakfast

Hotel Le Toiny

Why Stay Here? For those looking to be out of the hustle and bustle but still have access to some amazing on site restaurants and a beach club, Le Toiny is the perfect choice. Every room at this stunning hotel has its own private pool and with the hotel perched on the hillside, most of the rooms also have amazing views of the ocean. I would describe this as the most romantic choice on the island!

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Continental breakfast daily via room service
    • $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit, to be utilized during stay
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Le Barthelemy

Why Stay Here? For guests wanting a fun ambience, with a beautiful hotel infinity pool, rooftop bar, and one of the best spas on the island, Le Barthelemy might be for you!

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Daily Buffet Breakfast for two guests per bedroom
    • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
    • Complimentary roundtrip private airport transfers
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Le Sereno

Why Stay Here? Guests looking for a vibe that isn’t quite as lively as Eden Rock but a little more lively than Le Toiny will love Le Sereno. From the gorgeous views from the restaurant and pool to the modern & clean decor of the rooms, its hard to think of a traveler who wouldn’t love this hotel. I also love this property for families with young children because the beach in this area is very shallow for quite a ways out. It’s also located on a Turtle Reserve, which makes for such fun while paddle boarding and kite surfing!

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Daily full breakfast, for two guests per bedroom
    • $100 USD Equivalent Resort or Hotel credit, to be utilized during stay
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

The Christopher

Why Stay Here? With amazing views and the largest pool on the island, the Christopher is a great fit for any St Barths Visitor. The staff here was some of the friendliest I encountered on the island. The beachfront spa is not to be missed– it is certainly my favorite spa in St Barths with Ocean sounds from every treatment room! It should be noted that there isn’t a beach to visit here per say, so be prepared to drive to one of the other amazing beaches on the island!

Hotel Barriere Le Carl Gustaf

Why Stay Here? Located just above the popular Shellona Beach Club, this hotel is perfect for guests looking to be walking distance from all of the best restaurants and shopping in St Barths (this is the closest hotel to the main town of Gustavia) but still be surrounded by 5 star luxury. The beach here has one of the prettiest sunsets on the island and the sand is more “shells” giving it the name “Shell Beach”. I also loved the room design as well as the fine dining restaurant option, Fouquet’s.

Hotel Manapany

Why Stay Here? This hotel is perfect for travelers who like to be surrounded by an environment that resembles nature. The price point of the Manapany is also a little more “wallet friendly” than most of the island’s other 5-star options without sacrificing room design or common spaces. Also, any of my surfing aficionados will love that you can surf and take surf lessons right off the beach at this great hotel!

Where to Dine

Bonito St Barths- for the best fine dining in the Caribbean, this is a restaurant you cannot miss. My favorite dishes are the Ceviche Bonito and the Mahi Mahi!

Le Tamarin- the gardens alone are a reason to visit this popular St Barths dining location. This is a great choice for families looking for a nice dining experience where the kids will be happy too. With lots of room to run and play (quietly) and a small kids room with toys and fun, everyone will be happy dining at Le Tamarin.

Black Ginger- for those who love Thai food, this is a gem on the island!

L’isoletta and L’isola- travelers looking to have a taste of Italy on St Barths will love these pair of restaurants! L’isoletta is a very moderately priced casual pizzeria owned by the famous L’isola, their fine dining sister restaurant.

Fish Corner– if you like ceviche, try Fish Corner for a casual lunch!

Bagatelle – For those looking for a lively night, look no further than Bagatelle.

Beach Bars/Restaurants:

Nikki Beach- perfect to see and be seen and for the travelers that want to have a little more party in their beach club atmosphere

Shellona Restaurant- I loved the ambience here. It is a bit more quiet than Nikki Beach but still has a fun vibe with beautiful sunset views.

The Beach Club at Le Toiny- for a more sophisticated and quiet beach club vibe

GypSea– The New Beach Club by Villa Marie, located right next door to Nikki Beach with a more “hippy” vibe than it’s modern neighbor!

La Cabane at Cheval Blanc– For Great Tequila Cocktails and a beautiful beach with a more mellow ambience, La Cabane is a great option!

Al Mare at Le Sereno- If you are looking for the ultimate in a very relaxed ambience with little to no crowds but excellent scenery and food, Al Mare is a perfect place. Make sure to swim with the Turtles post lunch!

What to Do

Shopping- the shopping on St Barths is the best in the Caribbean. Some of my favorite stores included Terra (for fun bright colored dresses and cover ups!), Pati de St Barths (for high quality souvenirs), Linge St Barth (for locally made perfumes), and KIWI St Barths (for moderately priced swimwear and cover ups).

Surfing- there is some good surfing on this island and some great instructors if you are looking to learn!

Kite Surfing, Paddle boarding, Snorkeling

Beach Hop! There are 14 beaches on the island and they all offer something unique. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Colombier- this is a hike to/boat to only beach and it is worth the trouble of getting to. The hike begins at Flamands beach and takes about 25 minutes. Easy hike, but I recommend wearing good shoes!
  • Flamands Beach- one of the largest and most expansive beaches on the island. Cheval Blanc is located on this beach if you want a refreshment!
  • St Jean Beach- this is the most “happening” beach on the island. Nikki Beach and Eden Rock are located on this famous beach, so you will not run out of things to do here. You can also spend hours watching the planes take off and land from the sand– it is an incredible thing to watch!
  • Lorient Beach- is perfect for surfers!
  • Grand Cul de Sac- this is a very unique beach– it is the windiest part of the island, so great kite surfing, but it is also a Turtle Reserve so guests looking to spot some wildlife will love this beach! I also love this beach for families as the water is quite shallow! (Visit Le Sereno or Le Barthelemy here!)
  • Toiny- another great surfing spot or a great beach to visit the Beach Club at Le Toiny and just enjoy the afternoon!
  • Gouvernor and Saline- these two beaches are local favorites. Choose between Saline which is a much larger beach with two sides– one better for families and the other for adults; or Gouvenor which is a bit more quiet but has very easy parking access- a rare find on this small island!
  • Shell Beach- located right in downtown Gustavia, Shell beach is fun for families looking to collect seashells or for guests looking to enjoy one of the best beach clubs (Shellona) on the island!

I’m headed back to St. Barths in January and would love to hear from you if there are any other favorites I missed on our last trip— what is your favorite thing to do on St. Barths?

Viva Cabo!

Los Cabos, Mexico has always been a popular spot, but since the borders reopened in June, it has never been more popular with my clients. Even though I’ve planned dozens of trips to the area, it had been quite some time since I last visited, so after our 3rd plan for our 10th anniversary fell through, I decided to regroup and plan a trip to the Baja Peninsula.

I love Mexico— the food, the resorts, the lower prices, easy flights, for me, it’s hard to justify the long flights to the beach elsewhere. The wonderful thing about Cabo is the plethora of things to do in this area from Surfing to ATVing, Deep Sea Fishing, Sunset Cruises to the famous Arches, beach parties, wonderful restaurants, hiking, biking, paddleboarding, you won’t get bored in Cabo.

Where to Stay

Las Ventanas al Paraiso

Why stay here? If you are looking for a sense of place with the very best in service and lots to do on site, Las Ventanas might be the place for you. Located in between San Jose del Cabo and Cabos San Lucas, this resort offers a quick 20 minute drive to just about anywhere.

Pro Tip: Book an Oceanfront Room to be closest to the Adult Pool.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Complimentary upgrade to an Oceanview Rooftop Terrace Junior Suite from an Oceanview Junior Suite for stays through December 19 upon booking (based on availability)
    • Daily Full American breakfast for up to two people per bedroom available via in-room dining or in the restaurant
    • An Oasis Experience inclusive of a Margarita & Taco Sampler from Taqueria (for up to two guests, per stay)
    • USD125 nightly resort credit until December 19 
    • Welcome note and amenity
    • 4 PM late check-out for stays through December 19 (based on availability) 

One&Only Palmilla

Why Stay Here? This resort is one of the only luxury resorts in the Cabos San Lucas area with a swimmable beach. Located between San Jose del Cabo and Cabos San Lucas, it’s a perfect location for those visiting both cities. It was also the first luxury resort in Cabo, making a distinguished choice for any travelers.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Upgrade on arrival to next room category, subject to availability
    • Daily Continental breakfast for two guests per bedroom
    • $150 USD equivalent Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

The Cape, a Thompson Hotel

Why Stay Here? For guests looking for modern luxury closest to the “Squid Zone” (as the Party Zone is most commonly known), The Cape is a perfect choice.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Daily Full breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served in restaurant or via in-room dining
    • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay 
    • Early check-in/Late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Montage Los Cabos

Why Stay Here? Arguably placed on one of the most beautiful beaches in Cabo, the Montage is a dream for those loving beautiful beaches and dramatic scenery.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (excluding Specialty Suites, Residences, and Casas)
    • Daily $70 USD breakfast credit per bedroom, available in the restaurant or through in-room dining.
    • $100 USD equivalent Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
    • Welcome Amenity
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-fi
    • For bookings in Specialty Suites*, guests will also receive complimentary one-way airport transfers (for up to 4 guests)

Grand Velas, Los Cabos

Why Stay Here? For those looking for a luxury all inclusive experience Grand Velas is the best. Your rate includes all of your meals, premium alcohol, activities, and more. Grand Velas is also a wonderful option for families looking to travel together as it has great Children’s Programs.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    •   Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Complimentary one-way private airport transfer 
    • $50 USD Spa credit per adult per stay
    • $100 USD food & beverage credit toward a private romantic dinner
    • Early check-in/late check-out**, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Zadun, a Ritz Carlton Reserve

Why Stay Here? I would recommend this property for guests looking for the newest accommodations still close to the Cabo “action” but far enough away to be out of the hustle and bustle. Most every room here has a private pool which is a huge perk as well. 24 hour per day butler service in all rooms and situated on one of the very best golf courses in Cabo. Also, for those looking to dine at Flora Farms and Acre during their Cabo visit, you can’t get much closer than Zadun.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Welcome Amenity
    • Complimentary Breakfast for Two Daily
    • $100 USD Hotel Credit
    • Complimentary Wifi
    • Early Check-in/late Check-out, based on availability
    • VIP status granted with in-person warm welcome
    • Welcome note from General Manager (or Hotel Management)
    • First priority on waitlists in sold-out situations
    • First priority for requested room category, bed type, rollaways and connecting rooms
    • Priority for complimentary room upgrade (based on availability upon arrival)

Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal

Why Stay Here? The WA Pedregal is another very famous resort in this amazing part of Mexico. With a completely different location than any other luxury hotel, Pedregal is situated at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula. The landscape of this area is mountainous and offers dramatic views.

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Breakfast buffet daily in Don Manuel’s for two guests per bedroom
    • $150 USD equivalent Hotel or Resort credit to be utilized during stay 
    • Complimentary VIP airport Lounge Tickets with all Beach Front Suite Bookings
    • Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi
    • Double Hilton Honor Points
    • **For Bookings between now and December 17, 2021- Stay 7 Nights or Longer and receive 30% off!**

Esperanza, an Auberge Resort

Why Stay Here? Esperanza is often regarded as one of the top three resorts in the area. And in 2019 was named the #1 Hotel in Mexico by US News and World Reports. With 4 restaurants, 5 pools, a luxury spa, a great kids club, championship golf course, and the long standing history of being one of the top resorts in the area, you will not be disappointed at Esperanza!

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Breakfast credit of $35 per person for up 2 people per bedroom, per day. Credit is allowed in restaurant or room service
    • $100 USD Hotel & Resort credit, to be utilized during stay (Valid toward Spa in 2021)
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Four Seasons Los Cabos at Costa Palmas

Why Stay Here? For those looking for the newest accommodations in Cabo in the most up and coming area, Four Seasons might be the place for you. This resort is located in the East Cape, which is about a 90 minute drive from the heart of Cabo, but with a swimmable beach (a rarity in the area) and tons to do on site, the East Cape may capture your heart!

  • The Shameless Tourist Perks:
    • Daily American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in Estiatorio Milos restaurant (USD 120 value)
    • Complimentary round-trip airport transfers (USD 495 value)
    • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and private residences)
    • Welcome note at check-in
    • Complimentary basic Internet in all guest rooms; complimentary premium Internet in all suites

Where to Dine

Flora Farms is a must for guests visiting! It offers delicious food and a unique and casual, but fun vibe. Don’t forget to bring mosquito spray!

  • Acre (near Flora Farms) offers a more upscale experience
  • Edith’s for authentic Mexican Food in the “Squid Zone”
  • The Office on the Beach- if you are looking for a party, look no further than the Office. Owned by the family who run’s Edith’s this beachfront dining experience is not to be missed!
  • Arbol at Las Ventanas

What To Do

  • If you are looking to do more than relax and enjoy the amazing resorts in this area, you will find just about everything under the sun in terms of activities and excursions; here are a few of my favorites:
    • Surfing
    • ATVing
    • Deep Sea Fishing – The Sea of Cortez is home to one of the most diverse areas of sea life in the world!
    • Sunset Cruise to see “Los Arcos”
    • Go Whale Watching (in the Winter Months)
    • Snorkeling
    • Scuba Diving
    • Golfing
    • Zip Lining