The Grand Pineapple Beach Resort Antigua

The Grand Pineapple Beach Resort Antigua is located on a secluded 500-meter stretch of white-sand beach (Long Bay) approximately 30 minutes from VC International Airport and 30 minutes from the capital, St. John’s.

The resort boasts vibrant Caribbean colors with a unique tropical flair. The guest accommodations are in one, two and three-story buildings, each replicating classic Caribbean architecture. The resort is moderately priced and will host singles, couples, families and small groups. The atmosphere here is quiet, casual, relaxed and unhurried.

There are 180 rooms in 5 categories. All rooms have air-conditioning; king, double or queen-size beds; ceiling fans, hair dryers, telephones, iron and ironing board, private bath or shower, safe, cable television, and coffee/tea makers. Some rooms have private balconies or patios and others have communal verandahs.

There are 5 restaurants and 3 bars at this resort. Nightly entertainment is provided along with a wide variety of land and water sports. There are two freshwater pools, one of which is a quiet pool reserved for adults only.

Much of this resort is situated on a hill, which can make walking difficult for some. The ocean-view rooms are located on the hillside and are the largest rooms of the resort. I would not recommend this resort for anyone with mobility issues. The walkways are at times uneven and getting up to the hillside can be a challenge. There are no elevators on property.

Sandals Grande Antigua

Sandals Grande Antigua is situated on the most beautiful and longest white-sand beach in Antigua, Dickenson Bay. It is 15 minutes away from the VC Bird International Airport and 10 minutes from Antigua’s capital, St. John’s.

There are 373 rooms and suites in 25 categories in this beautiful 27-acre resort. Accommodations range from one-story buildings with patios to Honeymoon Rondavels with private plunge pools, to exotic Mediterranean Honeymoon Penthouse One-Bedroom Suites and Luxury Ocean Villas with private pools!

The resort comprises two distinct sections: the Caribbean Grove (the original resort) and the new Mediterranean Village.

All accommodations in the Caribbean Grove have air-conditioning, king-size mahogany four-poster beds, ceiling fans, amenity kits, hairdryers, private bath and shower, safe, clock radios, cable television, coffee/tea maker, iron and ironing board.

Accommodations in the Mediterranean Village offer concierge service, air-conditioning, king-size mahogany four-poster beds, ceiling fan, amenity kits, hairdryer, telephone, private bath and shower, safe, CD clock radio, cable television, coffee/tea maker, iron and ironing board. These suites have Italian floor tiles, large flat-screen televisions, custom-designed mahogany furniture with leather trunks and fabrics from Turkey, Italy and India. The bathrooms feature Italian Giallo marble, custom his-and-her washbasins, the latest Kohler Purist bath-and-shower fixtures, whirlpools and overhead walk-in rain showers.

There are 11 restaurants and 7 bars throughout the resort. Theme nights, weekly events and nightly entertainment is also provided. There are six freshwater pools and six whirlpools, including two swim-up pool bars. This resort also offers volleyball, aerobics, table tennis, day/night tennis, darts, bocce ball, pool tables, snorkeling, aqua cycle, Hobie Cats, Sunfish sailing, kayaks, pedalos, windsurfing and scuba diving.

This resort is fairly large and may require a lot of walking from one area to another. Guests with limited mobility would probably be more comfortable in the Mediterranean Village, as it is more compact and elevators are available.

Sandals Emerald Bay – Great Exuma Island, Bahamas

We did not have the opportunity to stay the evening at this resort, but we viewed many of the rooms, restaurants, common areas and entertainment areas. This is a great resort/destination for golfers, divers, honeymooners and for people who want a quiet, laid-back atmosphere. The overall look is classy, with a very elegant beach theme throughout.

Luxury features:
Sandals Emerald Bay is the world’s first all butler-serviced luxury included resort.
They offer a Greg Norman-designed championship golf course with 6 Oceanside holes.
24-hour room service
Sits on a mile of powdery white-sand beach with a view of Emerald Bay, which is some of the most beautiful turquoise water we have ever seen.
17-spa treatment rooms.
Caribbean’s largest zero-entry pool with a central fire pit.

Accommodations:
There are 22 room categories to choose from at this resort, ranging from a standard hotel room to a two-story, one-bedroom beachfront suite. We were fortunate enough to view many room choices and we are happy to discuss them with you to find the right fit for your vacation.

Dining:
There are 6 options for dining at the resort, with influences ranging from Italy, France, U.K. and the Caribbean. We sampled options from a lunch buffet and thoroughly enjoyed all the high-end presentations and tastes.

Entertainment and Activities:
We met one of the entertainment coordinators for the resort and, as we were walking around the resort with her, she was addressing guests by their first name. It was nice to see the personal connection and to see that the guests were obviously engaging in the resort activities and entertainment. Their offered dance lessons, golf and tennis lessons, live music, jazz performances, Appleton Reserve rum-tasting classes, bocce ball, volleyball, and snorkeling.

Photo Courtesy of Sandals Resorts.

Beaches Turks and Caicos

Beaches Turks and Caicos – Grace Bay, Providenciales
Accommodations: We were fortunate enough to spend 2 evenings here and to be assigned a Piazza Pool Front Walkout Family Suite with Separate Kids Room, in the Italian Village, which is the newest section of this complex. The room was very spacious and comfortable with a king size bed, large overstuffed sofa/trundle bed and a separate bedroom with bunk beds and a trundle that pulled from that. The décor was very rich looking, with a classy Caribbean feel.
There are 3 sections to this resort. The Caribbean Village, which is 11 years old, the French Village, which is 9 years old and the Italian Village, which is 2 years old. I liked each area for different reasons.
We viewed several different room categories in each section of the entire complex, which we would be happy to discuss with clients to find the right fit for their family.
The French Village offered an intimate, quiet feel. I think that this area would be nice for honeymoon couples, even though it is a family-friendly resort, as it is tucked away from most of the family activities. A drawback to the French Village is the balcony. Rooms on the ground level have a walkout patio. The 2nd floors and higher offer a French balcony, with a sliding glass door to the outside, but no room to sit or stand.
The Caribbean Village is older in style, more of a motor inn look, but spread out. I liked this area because the common areas were lively and the foliage was very mature and beautiful.
The Italian Village is more of a high rise complex but flows nicely with the rest of the complex. It is very rich looking with poolside cabanas, richly decorated rooms, and classy common areas.
Dining: There are over 16 specialty dining options, which is sure to satisfy any guest. In our short time at the resort, we were able to experience The Cricketer’s Pub, Mario’s Italian Restaurant for a buffet style lunch, Sushi Bar and Le Petit Chateau. We thoroughly enjoyed each dining experience. Everything was perfect from the professional, friendly staff to the perfectly presented entrees.
We did not experience the food at the following restaurants but thought they were very unique to the resort. Bobby D’s, which is a 50’s style diner, that we thought children would love, as they serve ice cream, hot dogs, and burgers all day long and at certain times during the day they made cotton candy. Also, Café de Paris, which offers an assortment of French pastries, but they had a cupcake bar where children could frost their own cupcakes to eat.
Entertainment and daily activities: I cannot imagine that any guest visiting this resort would ever run out of things to do. There is a 7000sq ft retail village, X-Box Games Garage, participate in activities with Sesame Street characters, Pirate Island water park with 9 slides, lazy river, surf simulator and water cannons. There are also options for volleyball, soccer, tennis, pool tables, board games, kayaking, windsurfing, aqua trikes and snorkeling. The 12 miles of Grace Bay Beach is enough to keep you occupied all day long with walking.

Photo by Britt Reints

Beaches Turks and Caicos – Grace Bay, Providenciales

Accommodations: We were fortunate enough to spend two evenings here and to be assigned a Piazza Pool Front Walkout Family Suite with Separate Kids’ Room, in the Italian Village, which is the newest section of this complex. The room was very spacious and comfortable with a king-size bed, large overstuffed sofa/trundle bed and a separate bedroom with bunk beds and a trundle that pulled from that. The décor was very rich looking, with a classy Caribbean feel.

There are 3 sections to this resort. The Caribbean Village (11 years old), the French Village (9 years old) and the Italian Village (2 years old). I liked each area for different reasons. We viewed several different room categories in each section of the entire complex, which we would be happy to discuss with clients to find the right fit for their family.

The French Village offered an intimate, quiet feel. I think that this area would be nice for honeymoon couples, even though it is a family-friendly resort, as it is tucked away from most of the family activities. A drawback to the French Village is the balcony. Rooms on the ground level have a walkout patio. The 2nd floors and higher offer a French balcony, with a sliding glass door to the outside, but with no room to sit or stand.

The Caribbean Village is older in style, more of a motor-inn look, but spread out. I liked this area because the common areas were lively and the foliage was very mature and beautiful.
The Italian Village is more of a high-rise complex but flows nicely with the rest of the complex. It is very rich looking with poolside cabanas, richly decorated rooms, and classy common areas.

Dining: There are more than 16 specialty dining options, which is sure to satisfy any guest. In our short time at the resort, we were able to experience The Cricketer’s Pub, Mario’s Italian Restaurant (for a buffet-style lunch), Sushi Bar and Le Petit Chateau. We thoroughly enjoyed each dining experience. Everything was perfect—from the professional, friendly staff to the perfectly presented entrees.
We did not experience the food at the following restaurants but felt they were unique to the resort.
• Bobby D’s, a 50s-style diner that children will love, as they serve ice cream, hot dogs, and burgers all day long and, at certain times of the day, cotton candy.
• Café de Paris, which offers an assortment of French pastries, but also have a cupcake bar where children can frost their own cupcakes to eat.

Entertainment and daily activities: I cannot imagine that any guest visiting this resort would ever run out of things to do. There is a 7000 square-foot retail village; X-Box Games Garage; participation in activities with Sesame Street characters; Pirate Island water park with 9 slides, lazy river, surf simulator and water cannons. There are also options for volleyball, soccer, tennis, pool, board games, kayaking, windsurfing, aqua trikes and snorkeling. The 12 miles of Grace Bay Beach is enough to keep you occupied all day long with walking.

Photo by Britt Reints

New Zealand

Auckland– A perfect destination that offers an urban lifestyle full of boutiques and cafes, but very close to the ocean, mountains and beaches….something for everyone.

I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon sailing around Auckland Harbor, with the Pride of Auckland Sailing Company.

I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Auckland. This hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Auckland and offers very comfortable and spacious rooms with great views.

Waitomo – Waitomo Caves – Fascinating underground, limestone caverns. You may choose to take a boat ride through the grotto, after viewing the impressive caves, which is lit by thousands of tiny glowworms. This was such an amazing experience.

Rotorua – This is such a rare destination, filled with geysers, bubbling mud pools and surrounded by crystal clear lakes and streams. The Maori culture offers interesting history.

I went to Te-Puia Thermal Reserve. This location is filled with, mud pools, hissing steam and geysers. Also, a great look into the history of Maori culture.
Also, participated in Maori Hangi, which is similar to a luau and filled with interesting facts about Maori culture.

I stayed at Millennium Rotorua, which is a perfect location, in the heart of the city, with amazing views. The grounds are well kept and are very attractive.The rooms were clean and comfortable, but basic.

Christchurch – This city reminded me of a city in England. The Avon River flows through the city and there are tree-lined avenues and colorful gardens. Also, many high-end shops all within walking distance from many accommodations in the city.

I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Christchurch. The location is located in the heart of the city and right beside the Avon River. Great location for walking to shops and restaurants. The rooms were very modern, clean and comfortable.

We had many days of road travel, but the longest was from Christchurch to Mt Cook. The roads traveled offered beautiful views of the Canterbury Plains. We stopped at Lake Tekapo, which is glacier fed. There is a church located next to the lake that was built in 1935 out of locally gathered stone and oak. This is a perfect stop to have a picnic lunch during a long day of driving.

Mt Cook – Mt Cook National Park – Mt Cook is considered to be one of the most iconic images of the country. Inside the park, you may choose to take a guided tour to Tasman Glacier, which includes a hike to the zodiac boat launch. I went on the hike, but the weather was not cooperative to take the zodiacs to the glacier, however, we were able to view icebergs.

I stayed at the Hermitage Hotel, which is located in the middle of nowhere, inside of the park. The hotel is surrounded by mountains and offers amazing views. The rooms and the rest of the resort are very primitive in style, slightly motor inn with a lodge feel, but you cannot beat the views. You are right in the heart of nature. The staff was very friendly and accommodating.

We drove from Mt Cook to Milford Sound through small farming communities and quaint towns by the names of Cromwell and Te Anau. Cromwell, has a great roadside stand called Mrs. Jones’s, where they serve amazing ice cream and have many local treats. Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and is very picturesque. I enjoyed just sitting on a park bench and looking out at the lake. The drive to Milford Sound also involves driving through Fiordland National Park, which is one of the most memorable and beautiful sights I have ever seen. There are snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, mirror lakes and lush surroundings around every corner.

Milford Sound – I participated in an overnight cruise of the sound, aboard the Milford Mariner. The cruise starts at the base of the Sound and travels out to the Tasman Sea and circles back to anchor in the Sound for the evening. Once anchored you can relax on deck, or go for a guided tour with kayaks. The dinner and breakfast served aboard are served buffet style with many choices and the food was very good. The staff was very friendly and professional. The cabin accommodations are very comfortable and clean.

Arrowtown – This town is a former gold mining town. It offers spectacular scenery and quaint streets. Also, offers easy access to one of many AJ Hackett Bungy-jumping sites.

Wanaka – Voted in the top 10 world’s most romantic destinations. This was easily one of my favorite locations on the entire trip. Wanaka is surrounded by striking mountains, beautiful Lake Wanaka and a quaint town with unique dining options.

I stayed at the Edgewater Resort, which is located on the edge of Lake Wanaka. The rooms are very spacious and clean with amazing views of the lake and Southern Alps. I loved the intimacy of this resort and the close proximity to town, but also how tucked away it is.

Queenstown – This is such and amazing city. It is quaint, fun and full of adventure. There is an ice bar, shotover jet boating, bungy jumping, winery tours, unique restaurants, high end shopping and a hip nightlife.

I stayed at the Sofitel Queenstown, which is in the heart of the downtown area. This hotel is one of the nicest I have ever stayed in. It is a luxury boutique hotel, which is not lacking in any area and there is such attention to detail with every inch of the hotel. The rooms were richly decorated, comfortable and clean and were so pampering.

New Zealand is one of the top destinations I have traveled to in my 15 years as a travel consultant. There is so much to offer in both the North and South Islands. I have never been to a destination that offers so much diversity with the surroundings. It is the natural attractions that just have your jaw dropping many times per day. Snowy mountains, volcanoes, beaches, remote hiking trails, fiords, wilderness lakes and much, much more.

Luxury Resorts in Cabo San Lucas

Dreams Los Cabos

Dreams Los Cabos was our “home” for the first two nights of our stay. Dreams is located in the corridor just a few miles outside of Cabo San Lucas and is a very beautiful, all-inclusive resort. This property was formerly the Melia Suites and was rennovated in 2007/2008 and a new wing was also added to the property. This open-air, all-suite resort features a large, freeform swimming pool, health club and spa, and panoramic views of the ocean. This resort—the first and only 24-hour full-service, luxury resort in Los Cabos–is perfect for just about anyone…singles, couples and families! It’s also a great choice for destination weddings.

Zoetry Casa del Mar

The all-inclusive Zoetry Casa del Mar is located next door to Dreams Los Cabos and guests staying here have access to the amenities at Dreams. Zoetry Casa del Mar is a 42-suite, hacienda-style boutique hotel. There is a “desert feel” to this resort. Even though the resort sits on the beautiful Sea of Cortez, all the landscaping is rock and cactus. It has a very “zen”-like feel to it. This resort is great for couples looking for pampering. Zoetry offers their “Endless Privileges” program focusing on wellness, serenity and romance. NOTE: Children under age 2 are not permitted at this resort.

Capella Pedregal

The Capella Pedregal is probably the most unique resort I have ever visited! It opened in July, 2009 and has already been recognized by Conde Nast as one of the best hotels in the world. The resort was carved through the heart of the mountain that separates Cabo San Lucas and the Pacific Ocean. Guests arriving at the Capella Pedregal enter through a private tunnel lit with crystal chandeliers! The Capella Pedregal is just steps away from the shops, dining and entertainment of Cabo San Lucas. The rooms here (the smallest of which is 820 square feet!) all have fireplaces and private plunge pools. The El Farallon Restaurant was built right into the cliffs on the side of the mountain and features firepits along the outside dining deck. The resort has a very secluded feel, though it is only a short distance into town. This resort is good for couples, honeymooners and families looking for seclusion.

Marquis Los Cabos

The Marquis Los Cabos opened in 2003 and is a member of the “Leading Hotels of the World”. The Marquis is located near many of the great Cabo golf courses. The staff is dedicated to surpassing guests’ expectation with a passion for details, attention to service and excellence. Rooms are large (a minimum of 650 square feet) and offer complimentary breakfasts each morning delivered to your private in-room “nicho”.

The Marquis has a full-service spa and fitness center as well as 3 main pools.

This resort is good for couples, singles and families.

Villas del Mar

The Villas del Mar is nestled along a two-mile stretch of pristine oceanfront property. The Villas combine the best of both worlds…a luxury vacation home and the services and amenities of a full-service luxury resort! Two, three and four bedroom casitas are available and all offer private pools. Private chef service is included. Club Ninety-Six is Mexico’s finest private members only beach club exclusively for Villa del Mar guests. This resort also has one of the few swimmable beaches in Cabo at Club Ninety-Six in Palmilla Cove. Guests staying here can also enjoy access to the One&Only Palmilla Spa, Golf Course, Agua Bar and Restaurant and C’s Bar and Restaurant. This resort is very spread out and some villas may be a good distance from the Beach Club. Golf Carts are needed to get around.

NOTE: A new development, “Espiritu”, is currently in development and under construction next to the Villas del Mar. These villas will be a bit smaller and not so “over the top”.

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica

The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica was our “home” for the second two nights of our stay. It is Cabo’s first and only luxury wellness-oriented resort exclusively for adults (no one under the age of 16). Guests can try a yoga class on the beach, take a dip in the sparkling pool, indulge in a massage in the privacy of your room or private beach bed or enjoy the wonderful spa! There is complimentary shuttle service to the sister properties—Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, Pueblo Bonito Rose, and Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos—and guests may reserve tables at the other Pueblo Bonito properties and also enjoy their pools, beaches and other amenities. Rooms here are more contemporary and stark. They have a full-service spa which was totally amazing! NOTE: This resort is completely non-smoking both in rooms and in all public area!

ME by Melia Cabo

This resort is located on one of the only swimmable beaches in Cabo San Lucas! ME is a fairly quiet resort Sunday through Wednesdays, but is “the” place to be on the weekends! Thursday is “Ladies Night” and the drinks are free! The Passion Club is the hottest scene in Cabo where Mex-Med cuisine is served along with Cabo’s best cocktails, tapas, and dance tunes. This resort is very high-energy and is perfect for the young, sexy, “beautiful” people crowd! The “Level Floor” (concierge floor) is adults ages 18 and up only.

The One&Only Palmilla

The One&Only Palmilla was my favorite resort we visited! This resort was origianlly built in the 1950’s. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were two of the partners that owned this resort and they promoted heavily to the Hollywood crowd. Today, many celebrities (including Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and John Travolta) seek out this tropical hideaway. Conde Nast currently lists this resort as #15 in the world! This serenely private and sensually elegant resort features expansive ocean-facing rooms, each with a private veranda, sun beds, and indulgent amenities. The resort has a ratio of 5 employees to each room! Although this resort will allow families and children, they do try to keep the rooms on the south side of the resort for adults only (near the adult only pool) and put the families on the north side (closer to the children’s pool and Agua Pool). There is a pool concierge available to provide complimentary iPods, audio books, afternoon snacks, Evian Spritzers and other services. The north side of the resort does have a swimmable beach. The grounds at this resort are beautiful, lush and tropical. The spa features 13 private treatment “villas” offering a beautifully appointed air-conditioned massage pavilion and open-air garden. Double villas include rain showers, Mexican daybeds and whirlpool baths as well as private vanity areas fully stocked with all locker amenities. There are no elevators at this resort and some rooms are on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The resort has an on-site Chapel. This resort is good for singles, couples, honeymooners and families—anyone looking for a luxurious experience!

Pueblo Bonita Sunset Beach

This spectacular getaway provides incredible views from hacienda-style villas overlooking a magnificent expanse of private beach and sparkling blue seas. Luxurious all-suite accommodations offer a relaxing escape. This resort also features an on-site Chapel, wine cellar and cigar bar. The unique infinity Sky Pool high above the golden sand provides incomparable ocean views. The resort sits adjacent to the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort. All suites offer kitchen facilities and there is even a small “grocery store and deli” where you can stock up on food and snacks. There are 5 pools, a children’s pool and swim up bars. Each pool has a different atmosphere. The spa at Sunset Beach has 22 treatment rooms and an extensive fitness center. NOTE: This resort is not recommended for the physically challenged due to it’s location on a hillside. The hotel complex is spread out, and employee-driven motorized carts are used to get around to the different areas. These could be difficult for persons with physical limitation to board.

Cabo San Lucas

This FAM was sponsored and escorted by MLT (Delta) Vacations. There were 22 agents from across the country that participated in this site-intensive FAM focusing on their luxury products.

Cabo San Lucas is basically an extension of the State of California into Mexico on the Baja Peninsula. Los Cabos is basically comprised of three distinct areas: Cabo San Lucas, The Corridor and San Jose del Cabo. Although most of the resorts in Cabo sit directly on the water and have beautiful beaches, few of them offer swimmable beaches. Cabo is also one of the safest destinations in Mexico with a nearly non-existent crime rates!

The city of Cabo San Lucas boasts large hotels on almost every available piece of land. The city is very walkable and restuarants, bars and shops curve around the entire perimeter of the Cabo San Lucas Harbor. Most of the hotels in this area are “non-inclusive” resorts.

The Corridor is where you will find most of the glamorous and ritzy hotels! Developers are deliberately keeping this area very high-end and private. Most resorts are guard-gated, luxury developments and have amazing views of the Sea of Cortez.

San Jose del Cabo is closest to the airport and also has the most authentic feel. Here you will find a downtown area that is quaint and appealing. Just outside the city is the hotel zone where you will find the hotels, resorts (both all-inclusive and non-inclusive), and time-share properties.

Must See Alaska Cities

NOME:

There is no place like Nome! It was the off-season; however, so much to do from going out on the Bering Sea (frozen) with two local fishermen to check their pots, to a helicopter ride over the city of Nome to look for polar bears.

The only way to get to Nome is by plane, boat, or dogsled. Nome is the “end” of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

GIRDWOOD:

A great place for lovers of Mother Nature, 40 miles south of Anchorage. You must stay at the Alyeska Resort. At any time there is plenty to do—lots of outdoor activities. It’s a great place for anyone who likes to stay busy. Best place to eat is at Seven Glaciers restaurant on the mountain top. You have to purchase a tram ride pass to get to the restaurant. However, you can use this on your meal pass!

Another good restaurant is Jack Sprat. Nice family atmosphere and they use fresh foods daily for their meals. At the resort we went to “moose meadows” and went dog mushing. It was about 20-25 degrees and this is too warm for the dogs.

Girdwood has an airport. This is where you want to take a helicopter ride if the weather allows it. We were to go out over the Chugach Mountain Range; however, weather was not great so we went to Seven Mile Glacier and landed and got out to walk around on a glacier.

SEWARD:

This is a port city. The Alaska Sealife Center is a must-see for all ages. It is worth the extra money to go “behind the scenes” for the Puffin Encounter. You will be able to feed the puffins—they come right to you and take the food out of your hand.

You’ll also want to take a tour with Kenai Fords Catamaran and Cruise out on Resurrection Bay.