Excellence Resort ~ Dominican Republic, Punta Cana

Excellence Resort ~ Dominican Republic, Punta Cana

If you are thinking about visiting the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana should be on your list. There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts including Excellence. We stayed at the Excellence resort a few months ago and are set to go back this spring. Below I have listed an overview of the property and all of the perks of the resort that we enjoyed.

Accommodations: Our room was a junior swim up suite that has it’s own beach bed just steps away from the pool.  There are quite a few suite options that include mountain view, garden view, ocean view and ocean front. All suites range in price so it is the perfect place to stay as you can find one that fits your budget.

Food: With nine all-inclusive international dining options, one buffet restaurant and beach snack grill, you will not have to worry about getting hungry or hangry in my case. The food was quite good and elegant. It is not quite as gourmet inclusive as the El Dorado Casitas but we still very much enjoyed it.

Drink: You may get drunk, but you will not go thirsty. Unlimited alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are just a beck and call away wiith 24-hour room service and pool and beach waiter service. Or you can visit one of the 12 bars on the property! My favorite is the Piña Colada served oceanside in a fresh pineapple.

Activities: I was pretty content to just hang out in the beach bed or pool most of the day but I did manage a few workouts in the fully equipped fitness center. If you are not like me and want to get up and go, there are plenty of daily activities, snorkel gear and scuba lessons available. If you wish to venture off the resort, there are plenty of excursions including four wheeling, shopping in the local village, spelunking down the Caribbean’s longest underground cave, golf and more.

Entertainment: If you haven’t worn yourself out during the day and are still sober, there is nightly entertainment featuring a different theme show every night you can enjoy.

Spa: If laying out in the beach bed all day is not relaxing enough, you can pamper yourself at the Miilé Spa.The grounds of the spa are tranquil and tropical with a flock of flamingos lounging in the nearby lagoon.

There are plenty of treatments to choose from including massage, body wraps, facials, manicures, pedicures, salon services and more. I enjoyed a body scrub with a massage and it was heavenly!

Service: The entire staff is friendly and ready to serve you what ever your heart desires and being that it is all-inclusive all taxes and gratuities included.

Booking Specials: The prices are always changing but there is usually some type of special going on so just check out the Excellence Resort Website for information on rooms, pricing, amenities or any other questions you have.

As a traveler I enjoy researching and reading about people experiences on places we may visit so I hope this helps if that is what you are looking for. I need to be clear that I am not endorsing the resort nor was I compensated to write about this.  This was a vacation we took and paid full price.

We very much enjoyed it and as I mentioned earlier already have a return trip booked. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions by commenting below or contacting me.

SafeTravels!

Sharm

El Dorado Casitas Royale ~ River Maya, Mexico

El Dorado Casitas Royale ~ River Maya, Mexico

A stay at the El Dorado Casitas Royale will sweep you away to paradise. Hubby and I vacationed there a few months ago and oh my was it heaven! I can’t really call this post a review as there was no compensation involved so I will refer to it as an experience.  If you are looking into staying at the resort, I hope this experience will help you make your decision. Please feel free to reach out to me by commenting below or sending an email if you have any questions.

The El Dorado Casitas Royale is part of the Karisma Gourmet Inclusive line of resorts. The Gourmet Inclusive resorts take pride in the food served.  Most fresh herbs, fruits and vegetable are grown on site to ensure freshness, quality and of course taste. There is tour available to visit the on-site green houses and gardens.

Locally sourced meats and fish are served when available and unique ingredients are imported from the country of origin. For instance in the Italian restaurant on the property, the ingredients used in the house-made pasta are imported in from Italy.

With so many restaurants to choose from it is best to stay a week so you can try them all. Not one of them dissapointed and each of them serve such artfully plated food that it can almost be to pretty to eat.

In addition, the resort has what I have called “Foodie Experiences” and must not be missed.

 

Foodie Experience one is the Fuentes Culinary Theater.

This live action cooking demonstration hosted by the Chef and Sommelier will ignite all of your senses with a 5 course dinner with wine parings.

Foodie Experience two is the Chefs Table.

Tucked away in the back of D’ Italia there is a private room awaiting to indulge your senses. You will interact one on one with the chef as he prepares a special and unique menu just for you.

The food at this meal was some of the best I have ever had and even made me a fan of goose liver. Who new it could be so good!

At one point there were three chefs preparing house-made sorbets and syrups to create a stunning masterpiece of a dessert.

Reservations must be made for all of the restaurants and experiences, so it is best to get with the concierge upon arrival and book all of your reservations for the duration of your stay. Here is a listing of all of the restaurants and descriptions of each.

Now to the accommodations.  The resort is divided into two sections with the Casistas being a little more secluded. Access to personal concierge service is included when staying at the Casitas as well.  It is a little farther to walk to some of the amenities such as fitness center and theater but having the selection of beach front beach beds was heavenly. There is also a golf cart type shuttle available to get you to and from if needed.

I cannot comment on other accommodations other than the room we had which was lovely. Upon arrival there was champagne chilling on the table.

The room was spacious and very accommodating.

The bathroom features an indoor and outdoor shower so that speeds up the process for two people getting ready at once.

Our room had a small private pool area along with seating for lounging.

Speaking of lounging, my favorite place was the beach front beach beds. It seemed my day consisted of hubby getting up early to grab us a bed while I did morning yoga overlooking the ocean. On the way back I would grab a protein shake made with fresh tropical fruit and lounge the morning away overlooking the ocean.

By the time lunch rolled around it was time for a tropical drink and then maybe a seaside nap. Before I knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner.

Now by all means, you do not have to be lazy like me if adventure is your thing.  The resort offers plenty of activities, excursions and a tequila tasting featuring unique and local tequilas.

I was most pleased with our stay. All of the staff were courtesy and friendly. The grounds, rooms and venues were clean and well kept. After writing this and reliving it through the photos, I am ready to go back!

 

Happy Traveling!

Sharm

 

Relax and Unwind at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach Florida

Relax and Unwind at The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach Florida may just be the perfect spot to relax and unwind. Whether you are traveling, as a couple, with family or friends or even solo, The Breakers Resort will not disappoint.

History buffs will enjoy the hearing the story of The Breakers dating back to 1896 and seeing the architecture that was modeled after the magnificent Villa Medici in Rome. 75 artisans were brought in from Italy and together they completed the intricate paintings, detailed across the ceilings of the 200-foot-long main lobby and first-floor public rooms, which remain on display today.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers Resort, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers Resort, Palm Beach, Florida

The room accommodations are perfectly polished and well maintained for the age of the property.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The bathrooms are sleek and modern with the Breakers own amenities and nightly turn down service will leaves you with a sweet treat to end the evening.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

Families will enjoy the many activities available such as bike rentals for a family ride, game room, bungalow rental and convenience of the zero entry pool. There is also a kids club available with all day activities so parents can have a little beach time alone!

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Foodies will appreciate the amazing dining and delicious dishes from over eight dining options including the historic Flagler Steakhouse to the modern Seafood Bar with its incredible views of the ocean along with the fish tank countertop bar you must see to believe.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The outside dining options include incredible views of the pristine beach along with dishes to match.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

If you love fitness, golf or tennis there is no better view than the one from The Breakers well equipped gym facility and personal training center. The golf course facilities are fit for pro’s with a magnificent 18 hole course as well as a training academy for the novice. There are 10 tennis courts available for play from 7 am to 9 pm and private lessons, clinics and junior programs for those wanting to learn the game.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

If you are looking to relax and unwind, the spa and many lounge chairs by the pool and beach will do the trick. The spa offers a variety of treatments including massages, skincare, hair and nail services and more.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida                  

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The beach and pool offer a variety of bungalow rentals and lounge chairs and an infinity style 21 and older adult pool.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

I have traveled to quite a few resorts and The Breakers is by far one of my favorites and on my list to go back too. For more information You check out The Breakers website.

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

 

The Peace Lodge – Costa Rica

The Peace Lodge – Costa Rica

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The Peace Lodge in the La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, which opened in 2005 is a unique resort nestled among the wildlife and beauty of the Costa Rica Rainforest.

I stumbled upon The Peace Lodge when looking for a place to stay that was close to my daughter while she was studying abroad earlier this year just outside the capital city of San Jose. The Peace Lodge is a little over an hour away from the capital city and was a perfect getaway for us.

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At check in, Peace Lodge guests are given a carved wood bracelet. This is your proof of residency which gets you free entry to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park (non guests who visit for the day pay a $35 entrance fee).

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With being a guest on property of the park it is an easy walk down to check out all of the amazing exhibits.

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The magnificent butterfly garden houses a variety of gorgeous tropical colored butterflies that fly freely around you as you walk through it.

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The bird sanctuary is full of parrots and other birds native to Costa Rica including this friendly toucan who is happy to greet the guest as they enter.

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On down the path you come across a hummingbird feeding area that will give you an up close encounter with these brightly colored creatures.

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If you are a cat lover, you will appreciate watching the jungle cats. Being the owner of two domestic cats, I am always amazed at the similarity and mannerisms they have and to remind myself  that they are truly dangerous even though they just look like a giant kitten.

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One exhibit that will take you back in time is a replica of an old  Costa Rican farm house complete with oxen, a hands on lesson for milking a cow and a sampling of tasty sugar cane tea. Other exhibits include, frogs, snakes and monkeys.

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In addition to all of the animal exhibits the park offers walking trails through the lush rainforest, where you will encounter beautiful tropical flowers, plants with gigantic leaves as well as magnificent streams and waterfalls.

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If you enjoy fishing, The Peace Lodge has a trout lake where you can catch your lunch or dinner. There is a fishing guide that will help you fish if needed and then take and clean your fish for you, then give it to the chef so he can cook it up for you. The trout we caught was from lake to plate in about 30 minutes! Now that is some fresh fish!

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The room accommodations at The Peace Lodge are the most elaborate I have ever seen and are personalized with the guests name during their stay.

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The bathroom is full of tropical plants and houses a waterfall. The rocks and foliage that surround the tub and shower make you feel as if you are bathing in the midst of the rainforest.

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The bedroom is complete with a beautiful canopy bed with very plush bedding, stone fireplace, coffee and mini bar area as well as a deck overlooking the rainforest with a table, jacuzzi and hammock.

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You can check out this video of our room.

If you wish to spoil yourself just a little bit more, you can book an in room spa treatment.

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Being the foodie that I am, I have included a link to the restaurants and cocktail lounges that are found at The Peace Lodge here.

My 2 favorites were sipping a latte at La Terraza which overlooks the majestic rainforest and the fruity yogurt parfait for breakfast at Tortillias.

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There is really no need to venture off the property unless you want to visit the Poas Volcano which is just a few minutes down the road.

I used Pacific Trade Winds Travel for all our transportation and lodging needs and everything was perfect. I would highly recommend their services if you are looking to vacation at The Peace Lodge or anywhere else in Costa Rica. The knowledgeable and friendly staff were quick to answer any questions and even available to book additional transportation we needed once we were there.

 

Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa

Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Due to my husbands job we travel to Las Vegas every couple of years for a construction convention that is held somewhere on the strip.

This year we decided to go out early and enjoy a relaxing weekend before the meetings.

Knowing we would be on the strip for the convention, we chose the Hilton Lake Las Vegas as our getaway which is about 30 minutes from the strip in Henderson, Nevada.

 

There were a few things I liked about the hotel and few things that could have been better.

My first impression was not great as the entrance from the parking garage takes you go through a dated walkway to the hotel entrance. The carpets looked as if they had just been shampooed which is good, but left a musty smell in the hallway. (Could have been better)

Once inside the lobby, the space is bright with large windows, decorative crown molding and fantastic lighting. (I liked it)

 

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Check in was easy and thanks to hubby’s Hilton Diamond Member Status (due to his Hilton Honors account), we received a lovely king suite upgrade overlooking the courtyard. The room also included free wifi and breakfast. (I liked it)

The breakfast buffet had plenty of choices for my taste and cook to order omelets. (I liked it)

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

The room was quite spacious although I thought some of the fixtures and decor were slightly dated. (Could have been better) The view was absolutely lovely. (I liked it)

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

I say check in was easy as it felt like we were the only guests there. The space is known to host large corporate events and retreats during the week but seemed to be a bit of a ghost town the weekend we were there in early February 2015. This was a toss up for me as it was serine, quaint and quiet which we enjoyed but not seeing very many people made it feel a little deserted.

There is a little village attached to the property that includes a variety of shops and restaurants but not much was going on and most shops were empty. I could see when the property was first opened what a hot spot it was and have a feeling this area was a victim of the economic downturn we had a few years ago. It was very quiet and lovely to walk around. The Italian restaurant Luna Rossa we ate at was very good. (I liked it)

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

There is a large empty space on the property which once housed a casino and in my opinion, I am actually ok that it was closed. One of the reasons we chose to stay at Lake Las Vegas was to get away from the casinos. (I liked it)

The surrounding grounds are absolutely lovely and feel like a bit of mirage with the reflection of the hotel off of the lake and surrounding palm trees. The courtyard area has a nice fire pit where we sat in the evenings and enjoyed a glass of wine. (I liked it)

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

Hilton Lake Las Vegas

To sum things up I would stay there again. It is a lovely property that just needs a little updating and maybe some good marketing to get things rolling again.

Although, we do like to play a hand of blackjack now and then and will take in a show while in Vegas, it was nice to get away from the strip for a couple of days and enjoy the serine surroundings of Lake Las Vegas.

Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa

1610 Lake Las Vegas Parkway, Henderson, Nevada 89011
702-567-4700

Hotel Chocolat USA Website Launch

Hotel Chocolat USA Website Launch

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With over 70 locations in the United Kingdom and Europe and 2 locations in the U.S. in Boston and New York, the British Cocoa Grower and Chocolatier Hotel Chocolat is now launching their USA website.

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In celebration of the launch, Hotel Chocolat graciously sent me some samples to try and I must say they were quite a treat. The samples were amazing, which included The Sleekster Everything Collection and Caramel Cheesecakes. The Everything Collection was a delightful array of luxurious chocolates made with bean to bar chocolate and the highest quality of ingredients including whole macadamia nuts, buttery shortbread cookies, rich caramel and more. The Caramel Cheesecakes were creamy and delicious. The elegance and quality of these chocolates made me curious to find out more about this Hotel Chocolat.

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Turns out, they are one of the world’s few chocolate makers that actually grow their own cocoa. In addition, they also own a few restaurants and the Hotel Boucan in Saint Lucia, which is now on my bucket list.  Who can resist a vacation in a tropical rainforest surrounded by chocolate, not me!

For serious chocolate aficionados you might be interested in the Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club, where you can sign up to have new and different tasting selections sent you every few weeks.

With over 20 years of experience as the UK’s largest online chocolate retailer, those of us in U.S. can now enjoy the luxury chocolates and stylish gifts Hotel Chocolat offers. Visit the Hotel Chocolat website for more information on ordering chocolates or one of the many other ventures Hotlel Chocolat is famous for.