Just Back From: Family Travel Forum

Members of our TWIL team recently returned from a Family Travel focused conference in Jamaica, where they stayed at the Moon Palace Resort in Ocho Rios and spent their days meeting with family focused suppliers and getting the inside scoop on up-and-coming new resort openings and enhancements.  

Here are some of the key takeaways that our Advisors, Lori Gold and Kim Silvertown learned from their time in Jamaica.

 Jamaica:

  • Moon Palace Ocho Rios:Smaller than the one in Mexico, but none the lesser. This resort boasts calm waters on a quaint private beach annexed next to a public beach with local sellers. Some feel that watching the cruise ships pass by is an obstruction, others enjoy its beauty. Family friendly with food to satisfy all palates. 

  •  Lady Hamilton at the Grand Palladium: Beautifully modernized space with an excellent Kid’s Club program (3+ if potty trained). 

  • Iberostar Rose Hall Suites: Float down the lazy river, slip and slide at the waterpark, and get cozy with comfortable suites offering pull out sofas and guaranteed connecting rooms. 

  •  The Finest: Opening in 2020/2021, this all-inclusive will host unbeatable service on a luxurious property.

Mexico:

  • Sandos Caracol: Freshly renovated standard rooms are now reimagined as Eco rooms. 85% complete. 

  •  Sandos Playacar: Kids only waterpark makes this resort a family vacation winner.

  •  Sandos Palm Bay: Opening April 12th, this stunning resort is beyond deluxe – all rooms are oceanfront. 

  • Hotel X-Caret: Plenty of connecting rooms make this property family friendly. But, if you are looking for a peaceful retreat, the brand new adults only Casa de le Playa is opening in December. Here, you will stay in a room with an ocean view and access all pools with serene views. The X-Caret is opening a new park at Xoximilco called Xavage in March – we look forward to the reveal. 

Punta Cana: 

  • Lopesan Resort Punta Cana: This brand new chain (existent only in Europe) is opening in May. It will be a luxury experience that is unparalleled.  Lush greenery, white sand beaches, and turquoise waters come together to create a one of a kind experience. With six freshwater swimming pools, including a two-tiered infinity pool, a kids pool, an adult only area with futons, hammocks, and balinese beds, this resort has a place to unwind for anyone. The Lopesan also hosts The Boulevard: a large entertainment space for all ages equipped with a casino, wellness centre, discotheque, bowling alleys, kids and teens facilities, and shops. 

  • Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real: Grand opening of new luxury section with a waterpark. Welcome to play at all three resorts. Separate Kid’s Club age segments: 1-4, 4-12, and teens. 

  •  Melia Caribe: Opening a new waterpark Feb 19 and all newly renovate. 

Bahamas:

  • The Atlantis-Reef renovation is well underway and the Royal Tower will be beginning its makeover this year. The rest of the resort is completely revised.

Bermuda: 

  • Exciting additions in Bermuda: they are opening a new airport, a St. Regis, and a Ritz Carlton Reserve in 2020. Tourists cannot rent cars, only Twizzles – electric vehicle.  

Antigua:

  • The beautifully polished Blue Waters in Antigua has 3, 4, and 5 bedroom villas in an all inclusive luxury space. 

Travel Well! 

Lori & Kim.  

Just Back From: Halkidiki, Greece 

One of our TWIL agents, Ilana Prussky, visited Greece in October and here is what she has to say:

First Stop: Ikos Olivia: Luxury All-inclusive Resort 
Getting There: The closest airport is Thessaloniki. It is approximately 50 minutes to the resort. 
Who is it for? Ikos Olivia is perfect for family travel. Whether it is a family with young children or a multigenerational family, Ikos is the perfect spot for you.

Our Take:
Ikos has positioned itself as redefining what a luxury all inclusive is. I can truly say that when you are at Ikos you do not feel like you are in your typical Caribbean all inclusive - it has a boutique resort feel with amazing service. I arrived at Ikos at night and immediately I was able to see that it would be a special place. Ikos has many different restaurants on property as well as all the other amenities you would expect out of a 5-star hotel.

  • There are over 4 pools and a variety of accommodation styles. They have your standard guestrooms in the main lobby tower, and then they have many options of bungalows. Bungalows range from one- and two-bedrooms suites either with garden view, pool view and ocean view. Ikos is split up into the standard rooms and bungalows and the deluxe bungalows. The deluxe bungalows have a few more special touches, however the main difference is the deluxe section has its own pool and private beach section. 

  • Something special about Ikos is the childrens program. Every parent I spoke to raved about the kids program, whether they had a young toddler or a teenager. They have basketball, soccer, volleyball, bike rentals and many more activities to enjoy.

  • The breakfast buffet was plentiful ranging from omelette bars to crepe making, all the best Greece dishes as well as the classic American cuisine.

  • A highlight of my stay at Ikos would be the Wine Tasting. It is included in the Ikos All inclusive experience and is well run by a sommelier.

Second Stop: Sani Luxury Resort (four main resort options)
Getting There: The closest airport is Thessaloniki. It is approximately 50 minutes to the resort. 

  1. Porto Sani: 
    Who is it for: Families 
    Must know: Porto Sani does not have a beach! That said, it has many pools, and tons of availability for seating. It is made up of bungalow style accommodations ranging in size. The furniture is more traditional and dated. 

  2. Sani Asterias: 
    Who is it for: Couples or Families 
    Must know: Sani Asterias is the smallest of all the Sanis. Asterias would be the highest end property, which is portrayed in the level of service and the décor. The property is quite small, it is a short walk from the rooms to the pools. There are only two treatment rooms, so reserve at your time of booking! 

  3. Sani Club: 
    Who is it for: Families with young children 
    Must Know: All the properties on Sani Resort are located within walking distance of each other except for Sani Club. Sani Club is located approximately 5 minutes by shuttle from the rest of the resort. Sani club is filled with children and is perfect for multi-gen. It is important to note that Sani Club is huge! Going from your room to breakfast to the beach is not walkable! You must call a golf cart every time you want to go somewhere, and there are always golf carts around to take people places. Sani Club is also located on a hill - it makes for the most unbelievable views - however, it makes getting around challenging.

  4. Sani Dunes: 
    Who is it for: Families with older children or couples 
    Must know: Sani Dunes is my favorite of all the Sani Resort properties. The rooms are bungalow style - they are stunning. The beach club at Dunes is the place to be. It is absolutely stunning. The lobby is grand, and has a delicious restaurant, called “The Market.”

Our Take: 
Sani Resort is a five-star resort located in Halkidiki. It is split up into 5 different resorts, sharing common spaces, restaurants, as well as a marina. Sani Resort is made up of: Sani Club, Sani Beach, Sani Dunes, Sani Asterias & Porto Sani. Each resort is run completely on their one. Sani Marina is made up of a teens club, a ton of restaurants, shopping and more. Once you are at Sani, you truly never need to leave. The different resorts at Sani are perfect for different types of travellers. 


Halkidiki is postcard perfect for any occasion.

Just Back From: The Ritz-Carlton, Abama in Tenerife Spain

Our close friend and preferred partner, Stacey Colonna,  who represents Marriott International Luxury Brands, recently returned from a visit to Spain, where she had the pleasure of staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama.  

GETTING THERE

There are connecting flights at very convenient times from NY-JFK and from anywhere else in the USA. We flew from JFK to Madrid with a brief 2-hour layover giving us just enough time to head over to the connecting gate with a few stops at the shops along the way. Tenerife was our final and only destination this trip, but you can certainly create a very exciting itinerary with a stay in vibrant city like Madrid or Barcelona during your connection before landing in Tenerife to start your awe-inspiring beach vacation.

 

Looking for some more reasons to travel to Tenerife? See my experiences below…

 

NATURE

The natural beauty in Tenerife is spectacular - all elements are represented and in their maximum glory. For a nature nut like me, it was the most delightful experience. The night sky is unpolluted with light so the goodies above are to be seen to be believed. I saw more stars in the sky than I have ever seen in my lifetime! The Ritz-Carlton, Abama’s neighborhood sky includes our planet’s view from within the mighty Milky Way which sits directly above the resort and can be seen with the naked eye (WOW!) The hotel knows their view is pretty special and they offer guests a private, casual, beach stargazing picnic that comes complete with a highly educated and enthusiastic astronomer and a 2-Michelin Star picnic catered by M.B. restaurant. Reservations required. We had the pleasure of enjoying this picnic, and I highly recommend it for your guests for a memorable and educational experience they will never forget.

 

In Southern Tenerife where The Ritz-Carlton is, you are guaranteed perfect beach weather and low humidity 98% of the time throughout the year. Picture an ocean that looks like a kaleidoscope of aqua, turquoise, cerulean, royal and navy blue and you have the gorgeous waters of Tenerife! Being a volcanic island, the Canary Island’s waters are rich in healing and therapeutic minerals. The Ritz-Carlton is situated on a cliff and the landscape is made up of volcanic nooks and crannies of smaller cliffs and caves galore. Climb to the top of a small cliff located on at the resort’s beach and dive right into the ocean if you dare (it’s totally safe - and yes, I did it!). Swim in any one of the natural pools that nature created inside the crevices of the land on the cliffs was one of the most memorable beach experiences of my lifetime. The resort beach is very intimate but public which is nice because you get a little local flavor. The facilities, Beach Club, lounge chairs and services are reserved for hotel guests though, so guests still have exclusivity. The beach itself if small enough to attract only an elite crowd and the experience feels extremely private and secluded.

 

FOOD

The stars in the sky are not the only impressive ones in Tenerife, and The Ritz-Carlton, Abama has two Michelin Star restaurants: Kabuki (1 Star) and M.B. (2 Stars). There are 8 additional restaurants offering everything from tapas to Italian, sure to please every diner’s culinary wishes. My personal favorite dishes were seafood paella at El Mirador and ceviche at Txoko.

 

RESORT ACCOMMODATIONS

The main building has 313 rooms & suites, a Ritz-Carlton Club level and Club Lounge. This section of the hotel caters to families with 8 family suites and 3 specialty suites; Imperial Suite, Royal Suite and The Ritz-Carlton Suite each with the very best views to the ocean and of the spectacular grounds at the resort.

 

My favorite accommodations are located in the 4 Villa rows on the property grounds. The units themselves are large guestrooms and suites however the row and the exclusive pool and services you enjoy are all what makes the secluded area on the resort grounds Villa-like. We stayed in the Tagor Villas; the adults only villa row that comes complete with a personal buggy for use while in residence. Nice touch! These villa rows feel like a resort inside the resort, and for those who want more exclusivity than what they would have in the main building, this is the perfect option.

 

Just in time for holiday season, debuting this October are four brand new Villa Deluxe connecting rooms and One-Bedroom Villa Family Suites (for families of 4). The Villa Family Suites feature vast walkthrough living spaces with generous sitting rooms and dining areas, king-sized master bedrooms and balconies overlooking the resort’s lush botanical gardens and swimming pool.

 

RITZ KIDS

Always fun, and this hotel does it “Pirate-style” with a fun treasure hunt. You must inquire directly as the treasure hunt is a seasonal, limited option for kids at the resort however the Kids Club is open all year round with indoor/outdoor facilities to keep the little ones busy.

 

MY RECOMMENDED 5-DAY ITINERARY

Day 1: arrive and relax at the resort. Have lunch and spend the day at the pool (there are 7 pools on the resort grounds) or at the beach. Rest up then have dinner at one of the 10 restaurants at the resort.

 

Day 2: enjoy a day at the Spa. The facilities will keep you busy the entire day and this Spa is truly a highlight at the resort -- not to be missed. Enjoy dinner at one of the 10 restaurants at the resort or head into Playa de San Juan for a local and very casual dinner (just a 5-minute cab ride from the resort).

 

Day 3: spend the day to late night up north. The Ritz-Carlton is South on the island where the weather and beach take center stage and just an hour to the North is where the island “attractions” are. I recommend reserving a private car and driver for the day and start your adventure driving through Vilaflor one of the local villages, then through the magnificent pine forest and into the plateau of the Teide the spectacular Volcano, with its moon-like landscape where films like Planet of the Apes, and Clash of the Titans have been filmed. You literally feel like you are on another planet! Then walk through the fabulous Orotava Valley to Icod Los Vinos, known for its wines and the famous  Drago tree known for its mystical powers. Have a typical Canarian style lunch at the restaurant of your choice then move on to Garachico a local town destroyed in the volcanic eruption of 1706. End your day tour with the magical village of Masca with its amazing views of La Gomera which has approximately 120 inhabitants. Take advantage of your time up North and join a Stargazing group tour at sunset at Teide National Park for a view of the night sky as you’ve never seen it before!

 

Day 4: All day Beach! Spend the day on the beach exploring the natural pools located cliffside. Just before sunset, enjoy your private, casual Stargazing Michelin Star picnic on the beach. (Reservations for the picnic are required.)

 

Day 5: spend your morning out on the water for dolphins and whale watching- available to view all year round! Come back to the resort in the afternoon to relax and enjoy the resort’s facilities; beach, spa, pool, and restaurants or depart for your city excursion if you plan to connect via Madrid or Barcelona.

Just Back From: The Four Seasons Resort, Costa Rica

Just Back From: Four Seasons Resort, Costa Rica

Property Type: Luxury Resort

Destination: Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Getting There: The closest airport is Liberia. It is 1 hour drive from The Four Seasons.

Who is it for? The Four Seasons Resort has positioned itself so it can appeal to any type of traveller.  It is perfect for anyone, ranging the adventurous family or the couple that is looking to relax.  

Our Take:

From the moment you enter the gates, you are taken back by the views of the bay and the lush greenery. The Four Seasons is situated 15 minutes away from the Papagayo gates. The Four Seasons just completed a 35-million-dollar renovation opening its doors in early December and I was fortunate enough to experience the luxurious accommodations first hand. All the rooms are located within a 5-minute walking distance to the main area, where the pools, restaurants, lobby, boutiques and spa are located. The suite product is located further from the main area, creating a more exclusive environment.

There are two beaches and three main pools on property. The beaches are known as the activities beach and the quiet beach; however, it did not seem to be too quiet when I went. The activities beach has multiple free activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, and volleyball, just to name a few. On the property you are also able to rent jet-skis without having to plan in advance. One of my favorite features of the quiet beach was that where was a pool! With it being jelly-fish season, barely anyone was in the water and everyone would go to the pool. Having this pool at the beach gave guests the ability to enjoy the beach, and cool off afterwards without having to go into the ocean.

One of my favorite features of the four seasons resort product is the level of service each employee provides. They had set up every day a fruit bar, an ice-cream bar, passed snacks at the pool, and much more. Our favorite restaurant on property was Bahia Grill. One thing to note, is wherever you are on property – you can order from any menu. This is something they don’t tell you, but knowing about it will maximize your experience.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this property to anyone who is interested in going to Costa Rica!

 

  

Just Back From: Four Seasons Hotel, George V, Paris

As you walk into the famous George V, you are immediately overwhelmed by the impressive floral displays in the hotel lobby.  The exquisite flower arrangements are a draw to the hotel, and something they work very hard to maintain.  Every day the flowers are checked, fresh ones are swapped out for ones that look tired, and all the displays are checked for safety-especially the orchids that hang from the 5 Star court yard just outside the back door. Every month or so, the colours and flowers are changed, and the lobby gets a fresh new look, often something to represent the time of year, or a festive season that may be celebrated. 

Once you move past the lobby, you will see that the hotel has a regal feel to it; most of the rooms are decorated in blue, yellow or green theme and are simple yet elegant.  With 11 different room categories, there is a room type for everyone.  If you are travelling with a family, and need a connecting room option, there are many suitable choices, and many different types of combinations of rooms that can connect.   With that, you also get incredible view options that range from looking over the stunning 5 Star Garden, or a magnificent view of the city line, including a direct view of the Eiffel Tower. 

The hotel also offers its guests a full spa and gym that has top of the line equipment.  It is currently undergoing a very discrete renovation to include a nice size in-door swimming pool that will be open for this coming summer, 2018.

Every morning guests (who are Four Seasoned Preferred) can start their day with freshly squeezed juice, coffee, and arrangements of meat, cheese, fish and pastries.  If this doesn’t appeal to you, you can also order eggs and other breakfast dishes that are all beautifully presented. 

After breakfast, you may wonder out of the hotel and enjoy all the incredible history, architecture and buzz that Paris has.  And if you are not sure of what to do, the concierge desk in the front lobby is there to help.  They can offer you with ideas, make reservations, and give you maps and tips of how best to see Paris. 

The location of the The Four Seasons George V is perfect.  It is located on George V Avenue, about 1 block away from the famous shopping area called the Champs-Elysees.  At any given time, the Champs-Elysees, which is a street that stretches between the Arch de Triumph and the Big Wheel (2 iconic sights) which are flooded with people looking for the latest and greatest fashionable items.  In addition to that, there are many amazing restaurants around the corner and even more historical sites that are also in reasonable walking distance.

What is nice about the location of the George V is that you can quickly be part of that hustle and bustle, and just as quickly return to your 5 star hotel, which is on a quieter street, and hidden behind the famous wrought iron sign that reads George V.

Don’t spend all day out and about as heading back to the hotel for high tea is well worth it.  The delicious assortments of petit fours and teas are fit for a queen.  The tea takes place in the dining area where the breakfast is located and a really special experience.

If tea is not your type of beverage, you can enjoy some incredible cocktails both in the beautiful hotel bar that has an old world charm to it, or in the 5 Star court yard that has the water fall feature with an elaborate display of orchids that hang over the fountain.

In that same courtyard you are surrounded by 3 very impressive restaurants. All three of the restaurants are Michelin Star restaurants that have either 1 or 3 stars.  If you are looking for fine dining, you don’t need to go far as you have 3 excellent choices right in the hotel. 

If you do decide to step out for dinner, make sure to ask about the complementary car that will take you within a certain radius of the hotel.  The cars are very impressive, and definitely have you feeling that royalty.

Nothing is too much to ask for at the George V.   The staff are there to ensure you have an excellent stay both at their hotel and in Paris.