Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sandals Royal Plantation, Ocho Rios Jamaica

Since this was our one year anniversary visit we wanted to book a private transfer car from the airport instead of the normal shuttle buses. We booked it from Island Routes and it was $300. We had a private escort and assistance with our bags. We were greeted with a luxury Audi and cooler full or beer and champagne. It was odd to me that the driver poured me a glass of champagne for the road and during the ride offer us another drink. It was a nice treat though since it was warm and we were ready to start our vacation once we got off the plane. The driver also had little finger foods for us another great touch since we were hungry and our drive to Ocho Rios was a hour and a half.



Our Butlers had a nice little surprise in the room as we checked in

Sandals Royal Plantation offers all Oceanfront and all Butler Suites for pampering luxurious all inclusive vacations. With it’s beautiful beachfront location in Ocho Rios this all suite resort is known for it’s impeccable service and attention to detail.  Enjoy a quiet, upscale resort in a secluded, private cove beach. This resort excels in personalized service and unique offerings such as an evening of glamour at Jamaica’s only champagne and caviar bar (available for a fee, not included with the stay). Sandals Royal Plantation shines of old world charm with it’s beautiful Jamaican plantation setting and d├ęcor and service and hospitality is delivered with the warmth that is also uniquely Jamaican. With a Butler, your wishes are unlimited! 

Once we got to the resort Richard our butler really made our stay special with decorating our room and going above and beyond. The Royal Plantation is a butler only resort and all the rooms have an ocean view. Our butler took our bags to our room and unpacked our suitcases without even asking. This resort is smaller than the Montego Bay resort, but Ocho Rios was gorgeous it was Mountainous and rock cliffs added character to the island. One downfall is their was only one pool, no pool bar, and didn't have activities to keep you busy. But with this resort you can take advantage of the exchange privileges and have shuttles that will take you to Ochi another Sandals resort, (they have three locations at one resort, the Hop is the bus you take to go to the three locations: Hillside, Ochi Beach Club, or Oceanside/ Riveria).  Since the Royal Plantation was smaller and we wanted more of a party feel we spent most our time over at Ochi Beach Club at the pool bar. This resort also has outdoor movie nights and the first speakeasy of the Caribbean. Make sure and ask the staff what the password is, it changes nightly.
Rabbit Hole

We ordered room service one of the nights and got steak and shrimp it was really good.  Another night my husband surprised me with a candlelight dinner on one of the piers (available at extra fee). Our server for the night Natalia took really good care of us and sang a happy anniversary song.  We only had four days at this resort since we did a split stay we have four more days at Montego Bay but wish we would have just did a full week at this resort.


Dining choices include:
The Terrace: Traditional Dinner meals
Le Papillon: French restaurant for dinner only.
Tea Terrace: tea time with mini finger foods and desserts
The Wobbly Peacock: Traditional English pub fare. 
Royal Grill: Beach-side grill, offers wraps, salads, grilled fish, and burgers. Open daily for lunch.

You can also have meals over at Ochi's 16 restaurants for a total of 21 restaurants!! 






Sandals Royal Plantation Butler Service:

·      24 Hour room service in all Butler suites
·      In-suite private check in
·      You’ll be provided with a cell phone to keep in constant contact with your Butler
·      What can a Butler offer you? These are just a few of the possibilities:
o   Optional packing and unpacking and tending to your wardrobe daily
o   Provide a private resort orientation at your leisure
o   Communicate with housekeeping any of your room desires
o   Serving meals in suite and on the beach
o   Reserving your chairs on the beach and offering personalized food and beverage service
o   Make your dinner reservations, escort you to the restaurant and to your preferred seats
o   Arrange your return airport transfers
o   Help arrange tours for you
o   Assist with your check out






The Ochi Beach Club
Ochi Beach Club is located next door at Sandals Grande Riviera and is available for use by Sandals Royal Plantation guests. Ochi Beach Club is just a 2 minute ride in the Sandals complimentary private shuttle. Enjoy the beach and activities by day and by night enjoy dining in the new Kimonos restaurant and enjoy the live music of Jamaica’s top performers.


Come to Sandals Royal Plantation - among the top of the luxury adult only all inclusive resorts in Jamaica!




























Sunday, August 13, 2017

Montego Bay Jamaica Sandals Resort





We had a wonderful time at Sandals Montego Bay and heartily recommend it to anyone looking for an escape to one of the most fantastic islands in the Caribbean. We heard such great things about Sandals so we booked it for our honeymoon. We got a room in the Oleander building so we were in the perfect location for all the entertainment. The activities shack was steps from our room and Bayside was right below us for breakfast every morning. Also the cricketer was steps away from us so we didn't have to stumble too far back to our room!

Some times it is tough to select an all inclusive as EVERYTHING looks fantastic from a brochure or website. However, I am THRILLED to say that Sandals is exactly what you are seeing in the brochure. One of the other elements that makes Sandals romantic getaway special is that you can stay at one and play at all.  This gives you even more options for food, bars, beaches, and entertainment. With Montego Bay they have shuttles that run to Royal Caribbean and Carlyle Inn. We didn't have time to go to Carlyle Inn, but loved going to Royal Caribbean too.

Royal Caribbean Private Island and Thai restaurant.




One of the few downsides of this resort for some is that the International airport is literally RIGHT NEXT TO the resort. This means that at certain times of the day you will have jet aircraft taking off and landing almost directly over the resort. To me this was honestly not a big issue but was absolutely noticeable the first few times. If you want a quiet resort, this is not your best option.
In fact, Sandals Montego Bay is a pretty active resort that has a ton of stuff going on. The up side of the proximity though is that you will be at the resort in minutes vs a long drive for their other properties in Jamaica.

At Sandals, their slogan is "Luxury Included" and that means activities like sailing, aquatrikes, tubing, snorkeling, hobi cats, canoes / kayaks, and water tubing are all part of the package.'
Glass Bottom Boat

They also include scuba diving! This stars with an introductory resort program (if you aren't certified) so you can get acclimated and go diving the very next day for dives up to 30 feet. This is not included in the price but can be done for $90 a person. If you are already certified, you can dive up to twice per day.

We spent most our days at the swim up bar and had fun with the bartenders playing drinking games in the pool and making a lot of new friends. When we were there, it was packed shoulder to shoulder, so our "Pro Tip" is that there is a small canal that wraps around to the other side of the bar and you can hang out there in private and the bartenders will periodically swing over to see if you need anything. This gives you a bit of privacy.


I don't know why other resorts we have visited simply can't match Sandals drinks. Maybe it is the Appleton Estate rum, maybe it is the super friendly service, but Sandals bar tenders are simply TOP NOTCH. They also do a good job of blending the drinks so you don't even taste the liquor.
 Bob Marley shot, be prepared it's very minty.
Rainbow shots, you'll be very popular if you order this in the Cricketer or you don't have to share. :)





Dining choices include:
Bayside: Buffet Style for Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
Oleander Room: Refined Jamaican dishes with white-glove service for dinner only.
Cucina Romana: Authentic Italian favorites.
Tokyo Jo's: Stir fried dishes prepared in front of you.
Stewfish: Seafood restaurant on the beach with authentic Jamaican and Caribbean dishes.
Cricketer's Pint: Traditional English pub fare. Open for lunch and dinner daily, plus Late Night Snacks.
Dino's Pizzeria: Brick oven pizza. Available for lunch daily.
Mariners: Beach-side grill, offers wraps, salads, grilled fish, and burgers. Open daily for lunch.
Jerk Shack: Jerk chicken, wraps, burgers. Open for lunch and late night snacks.
You also have the exchange privileges so you can have dinner over at Royal Caribbean or Carlyle Inn.

Desserts at Oleander's

Sandals staff is ultimately what makes this resort special and with all the stuff that has changed in the world over the past decade, that element of service with a smile hasn't changed at all. We feel the service we received from the bartenders and staff is TOP NOTCH compared to service we get from restaurants in the states. All the staff is really friendly and make you feel like family and that you are home as you are there. From the moment you are greeted with cold wet towels they say "Welcome Home". We will be back for sure and excited to experience another Sandals resort.






Have you been to a Sandals resort? Which is your favorite?

Disneyland Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween California




What is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland?  It is a separately ticketed event around Halloween from the end of September to October 31st where guests can celebrate special Halloween events after the park is closed for general admission.

Disney Villains Meet and Greet: The Disney villains can be surprisingly difficult to see on a normal day at Disneyland, not so at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Mickey’s Costume Party’ CavalcadeHalloween Dance Parties: These are a lot of fun! Party with Goofy at Piratepalooza (Rancho del Zocalo) or with Buzz Lightyear at his Intergalactic Space Jam (Tomorrowland Terrace).

You Can Wear A Costume: Disneyland usually doesn’t allow anyone over the age of 9 to wear a costume at any of their parks. Make sure it is tasteful. Disney has very high standards and will not let you in if you are wearing anything questionable!

Halloween Screams: A Villainous Surprise in the Skies Fireworks: This runs exclusively during the Mickey Not So Scary Halloween Party. As you would expect there are lots of references to Disney villains and Nightmare Before Christmas characters also featured.

Mickey’s Hide-and-Go-Treat Trails: There will be candy and healthy snacks available on these fun trails which aim to take guests to parts of the park that they don’t usually explore.

Access to Most of the Disneyland Attractions: Most of the Disneyland attractions are open for the Halloween Party. Particularly worth a visit are the Haunted Mansion Holiday (which runs from September 14th through January 6th 2013) and Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy.


This is a great time to see the special Halloween events, but don’t go expecting that the lines will be short for the attractions.  Sometime this can sometimes be the case, on busy nights tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party do sell out and there will be plenty of other guests in the park celebrating with you. Go for the Halloween atmosphere and not for the shorter lines. For most people though we would suggest that you really have to be a big Disney fan and be looking for a different experience. It is a great event but of course the costs do add up. We think it is something that you want to do at least once!

Event Prices : Advance tickets are $95 and on the day of $105 before the last week of October and after $120 October 27th and 31st.  Be aware that tickets do sell out in advance so it definitely is the best idea to buy before the date of the party.

You can buy tickets for Disneyland Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the park ticket booths or online at Mickey’s Disneyland Halloween Party.

We hope you have a magical time at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland!


Disneyland Hotel California

As you enter the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel in California, you're greeted by a soaring mural of Sleeping Beauty's castle, with "When You Wish Upon A Star" playing overhead. Outside, three retro-themed pools beckon families for a swim. Later, you can marvel at the spectacular view of Downtown Disney from your guestroom balcony (east side of the Dream Tower).

Hotel Room

 Disneyland Hotel Room Beds – check out the beautiful headboard!

Since the Disneyland Hotel is on Disneyland property, you can walk to Downtown Disney and both parks by foot. Although it was a bit of a trek to the parks (you walk past the hotel grounds, and then through Downtown Disney to get there), I found it convenient not needing a shuttle/bus/monorail. I would highly recommend a stroller if you have little children, as they will surely tire from the walk.

Our last day we were able to enjoy the pool and had a few drinks from Trader Sam's to relax alittle more before heading out.




Our time at the Disneyland Hotel was short, I do think the Disneyland Hotel is a great value for the price and like all Disney properties, this hotel is a fun, happy place that children and families will enjoy.

Goofy's Kitchen, Disneyland Hotel


Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Disneyland’s premier character breakfast Goofy’s Kitchen, located in the Disneyland Hotel. We came for breakfast and loved it! Lots of character interactions (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Chipmunks) all stopped by our table to say "hi". The food I thought was good too, I loved the Mickey shaped waffles and the desserts! We went during Halloween so they had festive desserts. I had a chocolate pudding with gummy brains and fingers. Also the peanut butter jelly pizza is really fun and actually really liked it! It was our anniversary so we got little cupcakes brought over that was above and beyond.


Eats
The best word to describe the brunch buffet is: extensive. It took me about 10 minutes just to photograph everything. There’s nothing repeated here, every available surface is covered with unique dishes ranging from customized omelets to peanut butter pizza to chicken fingers and entire island full of desserts. There’s just no way you can try everything, so be sure to look around first!




Overall
My first impression of Goofy’s Kitchen was that it was way better than Chef Mickey’s. The buffet was far more extensive, with a wide range of options you won’t find at Chef Mickey’s. The service was also great.

I'm hoping to go back again next year and will be going back to Goofy's Kitchen again for brunch for sure!


Los Angeles, California





LA.'s downtown is thriving business center by day and an emerging arts and entertainment district at night. The area between Sunset and Wilshire Boulevards, westward to the Pacific, is the heart of the modern city and is most often called L.A.'s Westside. Most tourists will find the L.A. they've always envisioned here, whether it's shopping in Beverly Hills, checking out the record shops and music clubs of the Sunset Strip, tracing the walk of stars in Hollywood.

Of course Los Angeles is known for its uniquely gorgeous stretch of beaches, each with its own identity. Starting with the stunning scenery in Malibu, drive down Pacific Coast Highway to check out Santa Monica and maybe even ride the Ferris wheel on the pier. Definitely head further south to experience Venice Beach.



Crystal Cove Park is a stretch of coastal cliffs and a beachfront cove situated between the Pacific Coast Highway and the Pacific Ocean just north of Laguna Beach. The 3,936-acre park was established in 1979. The entire park hosts a total of 3 miles of beaches and tide pools, a 1,400 acre marine Conservation Area as well as underwater park, 400 acres of bluffs, and 2,400 acres of canyons.





Still not enough? Within 40 miles of Downtown L.A. are miles and miles and miles of sandy beaches and, of course, Disneyland.