Monday, October 31, 2011

Spooky Travel Destinations!

Call me a Halloween Scrooge. Since I was a young girl I've never been a fan of Halloween. I hated the feeling of putting my hand into a pumpkin, pulling it out full of slime. I didn't like the idea of dressing up in a costume (especially since I usually had to cover it up with my winter jacket before heading out into the chilly October air). And most of all, I never liked going door to door begging for candy. I am however a fan of spooky tales and I do believe in spirits! Not gruesome, gory tales and crazy, violent spirits but tales that take us back in history and the sad, distressing stories that go along with them. I believe the spirits are for the most part good, just misunderstood. They want to share their story with us and not be forgotten. Below are some great options to travel to some wonderful destinations and experience some spook of your own!

Queen Mary
Originally launched in 1934, Cunard’s historic ship served as a luxury cruise liner and a WWII transport ship. It is now permanently docked as a floating hotel and museum and is reputed to have a host of resident ghosts. One tale is of a young seaman by the name of John Henry who lied about his age to secure a position on the Queen Mary.  He was crushed to death while trying to flee a fire. To this day, knocks and bright lights can be heard around engine room 13 where John Henry met his tragic death. It's even been reported that the door to the engine room is sometimes hot to the touch or that mixed in with a ball of light is tendrils of smoke.

The pool area is also a place of many sightings. As one story goes a girl from third class thought she'd have some fun and slide down the banister but a sudden wave upset her course and she broke her neck on the fall. She now wanders the pool area and nursery looking for her doll or mommy. There's also been reported sightings of ladies in vintage clothes wandering the ares as there were two other women who met their untimely deaths in this area. Retired from service since 1967 and permanently moored in Long Beach, California, The Queen Mary offers many different options and to experience this fascinating, huge old ship with a rich history. But beware: there are so many hauntings that some parts of the ship are now barred from the public!

Bermuda Triangle
Keeping with the theme of maritime haunts, the Bermuda Triangle is no stranger to tragedies at sea. Otherwise known as The Devil's Triangle, and not really a 'destination', you won't find it on any official map. It refers to an area of sea between Florida and Puerto Rico where mysterious and unexplainable events have occurred over the years.  Dozens of planes, people and ships (including a whole fleet of US Navy Bombers in the 1940s), have been said to have disappeared from this area.  It's up for debate whether this area and the mysterious disappearances are fact or fiction. Check it out for yourself if you dare!

Tower of London
It's not surprising that a 900 year old structure harbors mementos of all those that have passed through its walls. The Tower of London was once the site of a prison and execution area where countless inhabitants met their demise. Some of the spirits are common folks while others are quite famous. The ghosts of Sir Walter Raleigh and a decapitated Ann Boleyn are just two of the famous specters to said to have appeared in the tower over the years.

Savannah, Georgia
The southern town of Savannah, Georgia has earned the phrase 'America’s Most Haunted City.' Many ghosts of the Civil War dead are said to linger around the homes and buildings that populate the area. With a history of Revolutionary and Civil War bloodshed, fire and disease, it is easy to believe that ghosts roam the cobblestone streets of Georgia’s oldest city. Supposedly several areas of the city are built over old cemeteries and supernatural legends abound. Several bed and breakfast establishments boast resident ghosts – one of the creepiest haunted houses in Savannah is the 1851 Marshall House that was once a Civil War hospital. Ghost hunters up for some “fright-seeing” just might find what they are looking for on a nighttime ghost walk, a haunted pub crawl or a visit to the moss-draped oaks of the creepy Bonaventure Cemetery. Just a few examples which proves why with good reason, Savannah has earned her reputation!

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Given the number of tragic deaths that occurred on the Gettysburg Battlefields during the Civil War, it’s easy to believe that the ghosts of some soldiers are still hanging around the hallowed grounds. There are an abundance of ghost tours that tell visitors of repeated battlefield sightings of soldier apparitions that disappear and sounds of snorting horses that don’t exist. Visitors to the Cashtown Inn Bed and Breakfast have found their bags packed in the morning, while the innkeeper denies any employee foolery; and ghostly children have been seen playing at the Jenny Wade house. Best place to visit - Devil's Den. Visitors of this historic area have reported malfunctioning cameras developing images that weren't actually there, or tourists that have taken pictures of the grassy field but see only black when the film is developed. Yikes!

New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans spooky history tells a more sinister tale – one seeped in voodoo and black magic. Marie Laveaux was a powerful and feared voodoo queen who lived, cursed and died in New Orleans. Visit her house, her shop and her tomb – all of which are said to have some kind of paranormal activities going on. The haunted LaLaurie House in the French Quarter of New Orleans has a sad history. When a fire broke out at the house in 1834, many slaves were trapped. Some were chained and beaten and it was even said that some were used for science experiments. Their ghosts often reappear and have been seen on the balcony of the house. Walk the streets of the lower French Quarter at night and you just might find yourself believing in ghosts!

Transyvalania, Romania
Vampires are pretty spooky creatures ~ and I'm not talking about the Cullens here ~ so what could be spookier than a visit to their birthplace – Transylvania, Romania? During the 14th century, the famed (and fanged) vampire king himself, Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (otherwise known as Dracula or Vlad the Impaler), called this place home. He was said to have impaled thousands at a time, between 40,000 to 100,000 Europeans, sometimes making their agonizing torture go on for months before death would claim them. Not a place I'll be visiting anytime soon...I'll take Forks, Washington and team Jacob for me!

I realize it's a little late in the game this year to get yourself and your family to another town for some spirit hunting, but how about this? Send the kids out trick-or-treating with Dad and turn off the front lights. Pour yourself a spirit of your own, sit down to watch a nice, romantic comedy and enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet! Now THAT'S a Happy Halloween!  Until next time....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Palace Resorts ~ All-incredible, All-inclusive, All-yours. And a $1500 resort credit to boot!

pal·ace  /ňąpalis/  
    Noun       1.The official residence of a sovereign, archbishop, bishop, or other exalted person.
                  2.A large, splendid house.

What do you think of this? 11 five-star all-inclusive oceanfront resorts in beautiful and exotic locations throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Unparalleled service and signature amenities that set the stage for an exceptional all-inclusive vacation. Spacious accommodations featuring luxurious amenities including double Jacuzzis in every room, 24-hour room service, unlimited long distance phone calls to the continental US and Canada, wireless internet, brand-name liquor dispensers, and that's just touching the surface of what Palace Resorts has to offer their guests.

White sand beaches and brilliant blue water are an enticing playground for kids and adults alike. Palace Resorts properties are located in some of the most picturesque tropical locations in the world including Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, as well as Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Their all-inclusive experience is everything you've dreamed an idyllic vacation to be.

And now, on top of the already unmatched all-inclusive luxury,  Palace Resorts is offering guests resort credits to be used to make their vacation experience all the more fit for royalty! Use your credits toward room upgrades, tours, spa /beauty salon treatments, golf outings, the Precious Wedding Collection and more. The amount of your credit depends on the length of your stay. Now if that won't create lifelong memories from your vacation...we don't know what will!

Table shows the maximum credit that can be applied towards each product/service for a maximum cumulative amount of applicable Resort Credit per reservation.

Here's a little snippet about each of their resorts. Which one suits you best?!?

Beach Palace. Trendy. Chic. Unique
30  minutes from Cancun international airport - 287 guest rooms - 4 restaurants and 5 bars - 3 pools with swim up bars - Kids club with kiddie pool - spa - fitness center - wedding services - 24 hour room service - included calls to the Continental US and Canada and more!

Cancun Palace. Something for Everyone.
25 minutes from Cancun international airport - 601 guestrooms - 5 restaurants and 4 bars - freestyle pool with kids section and 2 swim-up bars - spa - fitness center - outdoor covered amphitheatre - wedding services - 24 hour room service - and more!

Sun Palace. A Couples-Only Escape
 15 minutes from Cancun international airport - 252 guestrooms - 4 restaurants and 3 bars - 3 infinity pools - swim-up bar - indoor pool with jacuzzi - spa - fitness center - wedding services and more!

Moon Palace. The Possibilities are Endless
10 minutes from Cancun international airport - 2,434 guestrooms - 72 golf villas - 15 restaurants and 16 bars - 7 outdoor pools - 6 swim-up bars - outdoor pool at golf club - 2 children's pools with slides - water sports marina - nightclub - 27-hole jack nicklaus signature golf course - spa - wedding services and more!

Isla Mujeres Palace. A Secluded Island Dream for Couples-Only
over 1 hour from Cancun international airport (including ferry time) - 62 guest rooms - 1 restaurant and 2 bars - outdoor pool with swim-up bar - spa - fitness center - wedding services and more!

Playacar Palace. A Perfectly Charming Spot
45 minutes from Cancun international airport - 208 guestrooms - 3 restaurants and 3 bars - outdoor pool with a kids sections ans swim-up bar - kids club - spa - wedding services - 24 hour room service and more!

Aventura Spa Palace. Adults-Only Relaxing Getaway
1 hour from Cancun international airport - 777 guestrooms - 4 restaurants and 4 bars - beach inlets - freestyle pool with swim-up bar and 3 jacuzzi - spa - lap pool - indoor liquid sound pool with 2 jacuzzi - wedding services and more!

Aventura Cove Palace. Memorable Family Vacations
1 hour from Cancun international airport - 489 guestrooms - 3 restaurants and 4 bars - freestyle pool with swim-up bar and 4 jacuzzi - kiddie pool with slide - kids club and teens lounge - 3 tennis courts - nightclub - dive tank - kayaks and snorkeling and more!

Cozumel Palace. An Intimate Caribbean Gem
10 minutes from Cozumel airport - 175 guestrooms - 4 restaurants and 2 bars - 2 outdoor pools - swim-up bar - dive tank - kids club - spa - fitness center - wedding services and more!

Vallarta Palace. The Allure of the Pacific
15 minutes from Puerto Vallarta international airport - 348 guestrooms - 4 restaurants and 3 bars - 2 outdoor pools - kiddie pool - kids club - spa - 7 hole pitch & putt golf - beach volleyball - wedding services and more!

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Rock and Roll All Night. Party Every Day
35 minutes from Punta Cana international airport - 1,787 guestrooms - 11 restaurants and 15 bars - 15 pools including kids pools with a flume water slide and lazy river - 4 swim-up bars - 45,000 sq. foot casino with 41 table games, 450 slots and a sports book - 65,000 rock spa - kids club - 18-hole nicklaus designed golf course - wedding services and more!

I don't know about you but I'm exhausted after visiting all 11 fabulous resorts! We hope you'll let Midwest Travel Service and Palace Resorts provide you with the perfect setting for your memorable getaway! Whether it be your cherished family vacation, adults-only girlfriend or guys-golf getaway, your dream destination wedding or romantic can do it all at Palace Resorts! Stay tuned for future blogs where we share with you just how easy it is!!  Until next time...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wedding Hairstyles ~ What Works Best for a Destination Wedding!

One of our favorite topics at MTS is Destination Weddings! No, wait!  Brides?  Beach Brides?  Traveling Brides?  Heck ~ ANYTHING and EVERYTHING bridal!  We just can't get enough!   We love seeing the photos we receive from our newly married couples upon their return home.  All of us in the office gather together and Ohhh and Ahhh over the beauty of the couple, their gorgeous surroundings, the family members celebrating with them, and the general happiness that can be seen on the faces in each and every photo!

Since I've always been interested in hair, make-up, and all aspects of the beauty world, how the bride wore her hair is one of my favorite things to see.  Most brides that get married close to home have a 'dry run' with their hairstylist several weeks before the wedding to ensure they'll be happy with their wedding day look.  Our 'destination brides' don't have that luxury as Destination Wedding usually means away from home and outside: garden, gazebo, beach.  Because of this, your hairstyle should be natural, easy and look like you did it yourself in just a few minutes, yet it should last throughout the celebration.  Here's a few of my favorite styles...

Wearing your hair up with some flowers keeps you cool and your hair away from your face on a breezy day.  Dress it up or down to keep with the style of your gown, or add colors to coordinate with the rest of your color scheme. 

Feel free to let creativity shine, but remember to keep it light and easy.  Helmet head on a bride is not a good look.  Think Chic, feminine, romantic!

Show off your sunkissed smile and loose curls with a gorgeous seashell headband or something as simple as a tulle wrap with a flower.  It should keep your hair in place but not take away from the blushing bride! 

Dazzle your groom - and your hair - with sparkles!  A dainty starfish, a jeweled tiara, crystal combs.  They work in any hair type and length. And I believe you can never have enough sparkle!

Finally, you may choose to do nothing at all!  Casual, natural hair in your normal style will make you feel less self conscious and more like yourself.  Just who you want to be on your special day! 

 Remember, you didn't come all this way to look anything less than perfect!  Soft, natural, timeless beauty and don't forget to let the real you shine through!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MTS Couples: Cathi + Ryan

Good Morning to our loyal blog followers! I have another wedding photo blog to share with all of you. Are you enjoying these?? You're mighty quiet and I'd love to hear some of your thoughts and comments below.

Today's lovely post will feature photos from a recent MTS destination wedding at Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. All photos are courtesy of Karin Newstrom Photography who features a sophisticated yet fun style for pet, portrait and wedding photography in the Twin Cities.

Here's a helpful note that I don't think all blog-readers realize yet: If you click on the photos you'll be able to scan through larger versions of each to get a clearer and more colorful view.

The happy couple during their wedding-day morning swim

Cathi made the boutonnieres and hairpieces herself. So impressive!

~Perfect bridal footwear for the beach~

The bride putting on the finishing touches...

The groom sharing a laugh with the guys. Don't they have it so easy?!

Beach area at Sandals Grande Riviera

So many unique details. Cathi made the favor bags too, of course!

I love the genuine expression in this one :)

Beachfront wedding ceremony

Look at the gorgeous rainbow!

I love these!

So many great photos of the bride + groom together!

Here's a snippet of what Cathi mentioned to me upon their return: "Two words to sum it up - the trip = amazing, the wedding = magical. Feels like a dream and we're all (I mean all 14 of us) are in awe and basking in the after-glow of a trip to remember:" 

That makes me so happy! Thank you for letting me share snapshots of your wedding day, Cathi and Ryan. I love how many special touches you added to make your day so beautiful & unique. Congratulations once again to you both!