Wednesday, May 25, 2011

W.A.T.W: The Royal Honeymoon

Who's grown tired of all the Royal Wedding talk these past few months? Not me!! Just one more post on William and Kate if you all don't mind :)
For this week's W.A.T.W. blog I'd like to talk about the Royal Honeymoon in Seychelles. Prior to these past couple weeks most people haven't even heard of this exotic destination before. It's actually a collection of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa. If you're looking for an ultra-private tropical destination this would definitely be the place to go!
Rumor has it William and Kate stayed on one of the Northern islands in an incredible villa fit for a king (... sorry, I just had to put a little pun in there). The North Island Lodge villas come with private butler service, an open-air bathroom with a sunken marble bath and shower, four-poster luxury beds, private gardens, a spanning deck with freshwater rock pools, plush outdoor sofas and a yoga pavilion.

Unfortunately based on the price most of us will never experience the Royal Wedding itinerary, but I think it's still plenty of fun to explore. Just in case you were wondering, one villa at the North Island Lodge costs approximately $5957 per couple per night. This means that 10 nights (which was the length of the Royal Honeymoon) would be $59,570. Think that's expensive? William and Kate rented out all 11 villas to ensure complete and total privacy which brings their total to $655,270, not including the cost of private chartered airfare. Hope they loved every minute!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Photo Story - 'Trip To The Beach'

We've only been a part of the blogging world for a short two months now and boy, are we learning a lot! One of the blogging basics we've recently picked up on is the importance of participation. It's not as easy as we thought it would be to make connections with people who have both the time and interest in online interaction, so this week we're going to try something new (courtesy of the Mama's Losin It blog)!

Each week 'Mama Kat' posts a list of writing prompts she invites others to respond to and share on her blog. The idea is that the posts are not only fun, but they also facilitate new conversations and connections with others in the blogging world. This week I chose to try it out because of the natural tie-in with our favorite topic of all: travel (...obviously!).

"Photo Story- Share Photos From Your Most Recent Trip To The Beach."

This writing prompt is especially fun for me because I get to reminisce about one of my favorite trips ever! My most recent trip to the beach was during my honeymoon in St. Maarten this past year. Here are some snapshots:
In the villa pool overlooking the ocean

What a view, huh?

Taking a walk to one of our favorite beach bars

I took this shot out of the car window on our way to the beach
in Phillipsburg. I swear there's no Photoshopping involved... 
Can you believe the color of that Caribbean water?! 

One of my favorite purchases from that trip: my beach hat!

 I guess Kyle wanted to try it out too :)

Our last day at the beach... Can't wait to go back!

Any readers out there with a blog interested in joining in this week? We would absolutely love that! C'mon, everyone has a couple beach pictures they're willing to share, don't they?  If so, don't forget to submit a link to your posting in the comments section so we can all check it out. If you also want to share your photos on the Mama's Losin It blog, do so this Thursday! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

W.A.T.W: Airport Sightings and Cannes Film Festival

It's Wednesday and time for another 'Where Are They Wednesdays,"one of my favorite blog segments!  Since I am a lover of harmless, mindless gossip and one of my favorite ways to unwind is paging through photos of stars at destinations all over the world to see what they are up to and what they are wearing, I'd like to blog about the latest airport and Cannes Film Festival fashions of the stars!

What to wear when flying is always a big question when I'm preparing for an upcoming trip. I love to see what the celebrities choose for their travel apparel. Check out these pics of various celebrity airport sightings. Disclaimer: the word 'celebrity' is used very loosely in a few of these cases!

SO FLY   photo | Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani and Kingston at Heathrow Airport
EXCESS BAGGAGE photo | Ryan Reynolds
Ryan Reynolds at LAX

PLUSH JOB photo | Nicole Polizzi

Snooki spotted at Newark Airport enroute to Italy
EXIT PLAN photo | Heidi Klum, Seal
Heidi Klum followed by Seal &
daughter's Lou and Leni

CHECK MATE photo | Eduardo Cruz, Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria and her beau make their
way through security at LAX

BUMP IT UP photo | Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson and son Ryder at
London's Heathrow Airport 
 It's always so much fun to see how the stars dress both themselves and their children and I'm usually amazed at their choice of travel attire.  Although they may be trying to be incognito or unrecognizable, their outfits certainly say otherwise!  It's one of those...'things that make you go hmmmm.' 

Personal celebrity encounter:  While waiting in the security line at LAX with my 2 youngest daughters, ages 7 and 9 at the time, they very badly wanted to see a 'star'. Rob Lowe was in line behind us and I told them, 'That guy is a movie star!' They both rolled their eyes at me in disbelief which forced me to address Mr. Lowe, advising him that my 'ignorant' young girls didn't believe he was a big movie star and apologize for their considerable lack of knowledge. He laughed it off as terrible for his ego, we had some polite conversation (with minimal drooling on my part) and the young ones were unimpressed. It wasn't until we were safely buckled in our seats, awaiting takeoff, that I came across his photo in my latest issue of People. I proudly showed them the article complete with photos, and taught them a very important lesson...never doubt their Mother again, especially when it comes to matters of the stars! Although it was too late for them to score an autograph I think the fact that their Mommy held a conversation with a real Movie Star was enough for them!

With the start of summer every year comes the Cannes Film Festival and lots of glam shots of gorgeous women in gorgeous gowns.  Here are a few of my favorite from this years festival:

UMA THURMAN   photo | Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman
ROSARIO DAWSON   photo | Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson
JOHNNY DEPP AND PEN√ČLOPE CRUZ  photo | Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp

Rachel McAdams
Rachel McAdams

Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas
Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas

Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams
Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams

Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek

Don't they look gorgeous? Let's attend next year!  That about does it for this week's edition of W.A.T.W. Not very informative as far as actual travel info but hey, fashion tidbits like 'how to dress like a star in airports' and 'what to wear if you ever find yourself at the Cannes Film Festival' are important too! And as stated earlier...harmless, mindless gossip, a glass of wine at the end of the day and my current issue of People...  Now that's a nice way to spend an evening!! XOXO!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Real Weddings: The Lund's

I am super excited to tell you about a new segment we'll be featuring on our blog called Real Weddings. These posts will be written by recent brides and will include their wedding photos, tips, advice and personal reflections. If you're a bride-to-be this is a great site to bookmark and check out for inspiration, great input and new ideas. I think it'll even be fun for our married followers to peek at too! Who doesn't love to check out gorgeous wedding photos?

Kicking off our first edition of Real Weddings is AJ Lund, a professional model, production assistant and stylist assistant in Minneapolis (you can follow her professional journey here). AJ and her husband Nate had their destination wedding at the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Playa Del Carmen in 2010 and it was absolutely fabulous! I'll let her give you all of the details herself in just a minute. Keep in mind as you review this post that you can click on the photos to view a larger/high-resolution version. All photographs are courtesy of Jacquelyn Senske Photography.

When my husband and I got engaged in December 2008 we immediately started discussing what we wanted to do for our big day and within hours we knew that we wanted to have a destination wedding. We decided that we wanted to have our wedding on 1*10*10. We chose that date because it was easy to remember, it would be before the busy season (less expensive!) and our friends and family would have a new batch of vacation days so most should be able to come! We had our sights set on Playa del Carmen, Mexico because we knew it was a beautiful location and it wasn’t super expensive. We really wanted to be able to have our friends and family there with us.  

One of our toughest tasks was finding a resort that would allow our 75 guests (yes, 75!) to celebrate with us without having to pay extra. We found that Sandos Caracol was the winner! They had very reasonable rates, a great kid's section for our family that had kids and they wouldn’t charge us extra for having 75 guests!  The only thing that would have been extra was a private reception so we chose to party in one of the bars with anyone that wanted to join.

What I loved most about having a destination wedding was how laidback the planning process was. I’m a planner but I really didn’t want to stress out while planning my wedding. We made most of the major decisions about the ceremony and reception the month of the wedding or once we arrived in Mexico. I also loved that we got to spend an entire week with our friends and family instead of just one day. My husband and I absolutely loved our big day and wish we could do it again every year.

Here are a few tips I learned while planning our wedding:
1. You can only do so much in advance: You can’t book your flight until 6 months before the travel date so it’s a hurry-up-and-wait process of getting estimates and then finally booking when the window opens. Then when you finally do book everything, a lot of the details won’t be hashed out until the month before your wedding or even once you get there.

2. Ceremony any day of the week: The nice thing about a destination wedding is you can have your ceremony any day of the week. You don’t need to have it in a Friday or Saturday so you can pick a date that you like best.  My husband and I chose 1*10*10 which was a Sunday.
3. Welcome bags/Emergency kits: I created welcome bags for all of my guests (one per couple or one per single and one per child). It included a schedule for the week with suggestions of activities and maps of the area, a deck of cards, Kleenex, antibacterial soap and an emergency kit including SPF chapstick, Shout wipes, band-aids, EmergenC, gum, alka seltzer, Propel packets, OFF bug spray wipes, Pepto and Advil. In the kid's bags I had glow sticks, silly straws and lots of little toys and games. Our guests were very grateful for the emergency kits!
4. Carpet for wearing heels: Even though you are getting married on the beach you don’t necessarily have to be barefoot or in flats. My husband is a foot taller than me so I wanted to be able to wear heels. I had my resort place carpets down the aisle and then cover them with white sheets. It looked beautiful and worked like a charm! I wore 5-inch stilettos and brought 4-inch platform flip-flops for photos in the sand.
5. Details! Just because you’re having a destination wedding doesn’t mean you have to skip the fun details.  Two of my favorite things that we had were adorable mini sand pails with a mini cocktail umbrella for place cards and maracas for guests to shake (for us to kiss instead of clinking glasses).
6. Walkie-Talkies: I highly suggest not seeing your future husband before the actual ceremony. One nice thing about having a destination wedding is that your schedule is much more relaxed than having a wedding at home so you don’t have to worry about doing photos before the ceremony. To help avoid a run-in with your future husband bring along walkie talkies and communicate between groups. We suggested all of our guests bring them along so we could use them as our main way of communicating since texts aren't free.

7. Veil: Some destination wedding locations can be quite windy so think ahead when you’re considering a veil. If you want a full-length veil you could be dealing with it blowing around.
8. Have a honeymoon! Just because you’re having a destination wedding doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a honeymoon!  We had a 4-day honeymoon at a different resort North of Cancun after our week with friends and family. My husband and I loved being able to enjoy another resort and have four more days to enjoy being together.

That concludes our first Real Weddings posting ever... A huge thank you to AJ for being our first guest blogger! Your photos are beyond gorgeous and you had some awesome input to share. Thanks again!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Girlfriend Getaways!!

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there! My Mother's Day was wonderfully spent with a great group of women in my life! We spent the day doing all of our favorite things...drinking, eating, chatting and laughing (although not necessarily in that order)! We went to the theatre to see 'Girls Only: The Secret Comedy of Women and loved every minute of it! For those of you who are not familiar, GIRLS ONLY is an original comedy that celebrates the honor, truth, humor and silliness of being female.
Born out of the earnest and sweetly ridiculous writings the two authors discovered in their girlhood diaries, GIRLS ONLY is a mix of sketch-comedy, improvisation, audience participation, and hilarious songs and videos. It will remind you that underneath, all women have funny and very charming feminine similarities. It was a total blast!

Spending the day with these wonderful women got me to thinking... I need to tell you about a necessity in travel - GIRLFRIEND GETAWAYS!!  If you've never experienced a Girlfriend Getaway it's time.  They can be whatever you want them to be: several days spent at an elaborate setting, or a quick overnight close to home with your closest friends!

Here are 10 tips to make the most of your trip:
1. Set a date as far in advance as possible and stick to it. We all know it can be hard to coordinate schedules, so it's easier if to pick the date in advance and then stick to it.

2. Share the trip-planning fun. Each 'girlfriend' takes charge of a day, an excursion, or a meal so that there's something for everyone.  That way you all can share in the planning fun. But don't overschedule ~ you don't want to be constantly on the go!

3. Create a kitty: Everyone chips in a designated amount at the start of the trip. Minor expenses (coffee, taxis, etc.) can be paid from the 'kitty' without time spent over whose turn it is this time. Make a game of it- if anyone mentions her husband, significant other or kids by name while on the trip, she has to put a dollar in the kitty.

4. BYOW: Bring your own wine! Split the cost of a suite and you'll have a great time just hanging out in the room or at the pool. When you arrive, make a run to the liquor store and supermarket. Make your own minibar with supplies to make your own cocktails at happy hour.  Don't forget, every hour is happy hour on a Girlfriend Getaway so don't be shy!

5. Bring old photos--the more embarrassing, the better. You'll be certain to spend much of the trip reminiscing, and you'll be glad you have the pictures on hand.

6. And take lots of pictures--of each other, not scenery. You can never take too many and as annoying and irritating as it may seem at the time, it's so much fun looking back. Photos of each other are way more fun to look at rather than any sites or attractions.

7. The most popular destination in the U.S. for a Girlfriend Getaway is Las Vegas--and for good reason. What happens on a Girlfriend Getaway is just between us girls. Las Vegas has it all... spas, nightlife, shopping, gambling, great pools, sightseeing, adventure...the list is endless!

8. Be willing to compromise. Not everyone is going to want to see/go and experience all of the same things.  Take votes, compromise and be willing to try new things.  As long as you're together it can't be that bad!

9. Allow for alone time. Some of us need that time alone to meditate, read a chapter of our favorite book or just regroup. If you need it, take it!

10. Make some memorabilia after the trip for each of you. This could be a t-shirt, a Shutterfly photo book or a creative scrap book. Along with your group picture include the date and location along with inside jokes and nicknames; whatever makes you look back and smile!

My Mother's Day GG with a few of my favorite ladies and
one of the 'Girls Only' actors!

Most important of all... celebrate Girl Power and the wonderful women in your life.  We are all worth celebrating!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Everything For Less Event!

Happy Cinco De Mayo everyone! Doesn't all of the online buzz make you want to hop on a plane and head to Mexico for an authentic celebration? I can taste the Margaritas now! :)


Today is a perfect opportunity to tell you about the Everything For Less event going on with Funjet Vacations. When you use the exclusive promo code 'ALLONSALE' you will get bonus savings off of already reduced-priced vacation packages!

Curious to browse for yourself? You can check out the special hotel offers in Mexico and book it right here. I should also mention that other destinations are featured as well including Hawaii, Europe and the Caribbean, so if you're not a big Mexico traveler there's something for you too!

There's just one more thing I have to mention in today's post: *Happy Birthday to Maria, one of the owners of Midwest Travel Service!* You are such an extraordinary and inspiring woman and deserve to have the best year yet!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fun For All...All For Fun! The Reveal of the Carnival Magic

It's no secret I'm a lover of cruising and in my opinion a Carnival Cruise is one of the best ways to sail the deep blue sea! Last Friday, Carnival Corp. took delivery of its 100th ship at sea! Not bad for a company founded just 38 years ago with a single old ship, the Mardi Gras, weighing in at just 27,500 tons. Over the years Carnival Corp. has grown into the largest cruise operator in the world! On Friday, the milestone was celebrated on every one of its vessels with a champagne toast at dinner. Carnival Corp. estimated more than 227,000 guests took part in the celebration in what it believes was the largest event of its kind ever at sea.

Mardi Gras 1972 vs. Carnival Magic 2011

The size and sophistication of cruise ships has changed since Carnival first sailed onto the scene nearly four decades ago. At 130,000 tons, the new Carnival Magic is five times larger than the original Mardi Gras and will carry four times as many passengers. Featuring a brand new layout with a sleek hull and distinctive profile, Carnival Magic is designed as the ultimate vacation experience. The length of approximately three football fields, 63% of her staterooms are Ocean View and of those, 78% offer private balconies. This means that almost HALF of this floating resort's staterooms boast private balconies. Check out this photo of the 2 ships side by side- Now that's growth!

 The Carnival Magic will introduce a handful of new features including the line's 1st pub,serving its own private label brew called ThirstyFrog Red, an Italian family-style restaurant, and the industry's first water 'dump bucket,' which will complement the ship's pair of water slides. The Carnival Magic will also have an expansive deck-top sports complex called SportsSquare featuring the first-ever ropes course and outdoor fitness area at sea.  A Sports Court within the SportsSquare complex will be a multipurpose game space for basketball, volleyball and soccer. Additionally, the area will feature a six-station Vita exercise course and ping pong and foosball tables. For those who prefer their sports on TV, SportSquare will also have a full bar with flat-screen TVs for the armchair athletes onboard.

Carnival Magic Accommodations
SportsSquare Complex
Enough of fitness...onto the entertainment! The Carnival Magic's entertainment will include a musical built around disco tunes, a magic show and a game show parody. The Magic also will feature singing and dancing waiters in the Italian-themed Cucina del Capitano; an acoustic guitarist in the RedFrog Pub; entertainment acts in the Ocean Plaza; the Punchliner Comedy Club; and "Superstar Live" karaoke, in which participants perform with a band and backup singers.  Get down on it! This ship is sure to be 'AMAZING'! Although this isn't the standard introduction to a new cruise ship video, I loved it and wanted to share... Check it out and let me know what do you think:

Now that she has been christened, the Carnival Magic will sail a series of 7 to 12-day Mediterranean cruises out of the Venice through Oct. 16 before heading across the Atlantic on a 16-day repositioning cruise to the USA. On Nov. 14, the vessel will begin year-round, seven-day Caribbean cruises out of Galveston, Texas.  Hope to see you onboard!!