A Remedy for Hotel Room Cramps

Does the thought of staying in a cramped hotel room with your entire family (husband and 4 kids) make you think twice about traveling? A friend of mine is looking to go to Vancouver for a few days to visit her working husband. He is currently living with three guys in a one bedroom apartment to cut costs while away from his family. The guys all live in small rural towns and are just in Vancouver to make some money to send home. Six to eight months of hard work can keep their families going for awhile but the kids need to see their dad occasionally too so a family vacation in Vancouver is in order.

Cramped hotel room“There’s just no room to relax with everyone in one hotel room,” my friend said. “Sleeping in the same room, let alone the same bed with the kids makes the odds of getting a good night’s sleep a million to one. Not to mention the fact that you constantly have to quiet the kids so they don’t disturb the neighboring rooms, stop them from shouting while they’re running up and down the hallways, and having to go out or get take out for every meal. Vacations cost a small fortune these days!” Being in the travel industry I have to agree. It’s difficult enough to find a hotel room that can sleep six so my friend would most likely have to find two rooms side by side, thereby doubling the price.  With an average nights stay running $189 per night for an economy twin room, that’s $378 for her family per night. Finding adjoining rooms is not always possible either which can create even more challenges.

Most hotels in the larger cites also don’t come with kitchenettes, so going out to eat or ordering takeout would be required. Breakfast, lunch and dinner add up fast for a family of six even if you do buy some snacks at the local grocery store. If you’re staying in a big city downtown, sometimes just finding a grocery store can be a difficult task. That’s when I suggested taking at look at vacation rentals instead. You can rent an entire house for practically the same or less than those hotel rooms.

On OwnerDirect.com for example, a 4600 sq ft square foot 4 bedroom house in North Vancouver, only 15 minutes from Vancouver’s downtown is going for $390 per night and can sleep 8. It is a primary home, so is fully furnished and equipped with all the amenities you may need, coffee maker, wireless internet, 21-inch flat screen TV, playstation, BBQ, full kitchen, treadmill, private hot tub and heated pool, and is child friendly. A much more comfortable solution to staying in cramped hotel rooms.

North Vancouver Exclusive Home -

North Vancouver Exclusive Home – ID #202309, Sleeps 8

If they wanted to be right downtown Vancouver, a 1 bedroom apartment that can sleep up to 4 goes for $165 per night. It’s got a full kitchen, living room, bathroom with bathtub, queen and double sofa beds, LCD television, internet connection, and the building offers a common room with games. Hotel rooms at $300 per night would end up costing $1200 plus tax and most likely wouldn’t have a kitchen or living room.

Downtown Vancouver Condo

Downtown Vancouver Condo – ID #141190, Sleeps 4

For larger groups or families, vacation rentals offer so much more than small hotel rooms can. There is also the possibility that owners will offer discounts for children under a certain age. Thanks to the Internet, the travel industry is competitive which means better value and lower prices can be found if you know where to look. If you’re still not convinced, see our Top 10 Reasons a Vacation Home is Better Than a Hotel.

How to leave your heart (and much of your liver) in San Francisco!

Is there anywhere else on earth you can witness the grandeur of the sun, the surf, and the mountains like you can in California? Did I say witness? I meant becoming a card-carrying member of Club California, an organization devoted to amazing food, unbelievable wine culture, and a something-for-LITERALLY-everyone lifestyle. It’s no wonder the state is a bucket list destination for so many of us. And if you have a particular affection for the fruits of the vine, there’s no place to worship like Napa, Sonoma, and San Francisco. (Note, the locals definitely do NOT call it Frisco! If you must abbreviate, go with San Fran.)

California wine country is so much more than just wine. Sure the area produces some of the world’s most expensive and sought-after appellations, but visitors can also hike, cycle, horseback ride, and hot air balloon. And there’s no shortage of shopping, dining, music, zip lines, and spa treatments (it *is* California after all!). Oh, and a head’s up. Napa is bigger and gets most of the press, so you can be forgiven for thinking it’s “all that.” But the truth is, Sonoma County produces more grapes.

The dilemma for most of us is how to visit Sonoma (or Napa for that matter) and not also make the pilgrimage to the City by the Bay? Because, let’s face it, you cannot possibly do one and not the other. To me, the answer is clear. Do both! If you’re planning a wine touring adventure this year, make San Francisco your home base This will give you the very best of both worlds: A one-of-a-kind city escape and an over-the-top wine tasting extravaganza. Or, park yourself in Wine Country and make day trips into the city. Either way, you’re in for a win-win experience!

If you’re thinking of making the City your home base, and you’re travelling with a posse of friends, consider staying in this architectural masterpiece situated high in the Berkeley Hills. With room for 12, this home sits on a hidden oasis of private terraced gardens and all three levels offer stunning views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Contemporary design, unique artwork, and redwood decks will truly make you feel pampered. And, it’s less than an hour’s drive to Wine Country. So pack a picnic and head out to St. Helena, Sonoma, and Calistoga.

If you’re not travelling with such a large group but you still want over-the-top luxury, treat yourself to the extravagance of this beautiful home in the highly-desirable Telegraph Hill neighbourhood. A private elevator will whisk you from the parking garage into your penthouse suite where you will be greeted with panoramic views that stretch from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the Ferry Building. You can stroll to most of the City’s tourist hubs including Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Chinatown, Coit Tower, and Lombard Street. And given the views and proximity to so many local attractions, you can be forgiven if your wine tastings are limited to whatever you purchase at Trader Joe’s to enjoy on your jaw-dropping terrace.

Just outside of the Bay Area (and by “just outside,” I mean just outside the fog belt that can blanket the city), you’ll discover this magnificent Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors in the kitchen/living/dining room open out onto a 50 ft wide natural atrium that leads to the pool and outdoor kitchen. If your occasion demands some serious WOW factor, this is it! And, because it’s just outside the city, you are ideally situated between the best of both worlds: 20 minutes from everything the city has to offer and just 45 minutes from wine country.

If your heart (and your liver!) are set on staying in wine country proper, we’ve got you covered. How about a 5 bedroom villa in Sonoma, the very heart of wine country? Imagine you and 8 of your closest friends luxuriating on a private estate with your own pool, spa, vineyards, and wildlife. Yet, you’re literally minutes from downtown Sonoma and its shopping, dining, wineries, and nightlife. And if you happen to visit in the fall, you just might be treated to the spectacle (shown in the photo) of the vines trooping their colours in an unforgettable rainbow display.

Perhaps you find Sonoma a little sleepy and Napa is more your thing…consider this historic “Painted Lady” situated in the heart of downtown Napa. Built in the 1880s, this home looks as if it was magically transported from “Postcard Row” along Alamo Square Park in San Francisco. But it’s not in the City, and that means there’s room to stretch out. In fact, the home is nestled in its own enchanted forest featuring a Japanese garden and gazebo. Did I mention that guests of the Purple Victorian enjoy free and discounted wine tastings? Could there be a more perfect place to sip and savour the fruits of the Valley?! If you find one, PLEASE let us know!

How to do Coachella in style (and comfort)!

California Music Festivals

#73996 Palm Springs #86024 Palm Springs #135749 Palm Springs #39411

It’s spring! The time when a young man’s fancy (and young women’s, for that matter) turns to thoughts of music. In the desert. In California. Of course, I’m talking about Coachella. Or as it’s more formally known, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and its only slightly less edgy cousin, the Stagecoach Country Music Festival. Both events take place on successive weekends in April. If you like new music from any of the more rowdy genres, you might be making plans to attend Coachella. If your taste runs more toward the roots, blues, folk, and gospel side of things, perhaps you’re headed to Stagecoach. Either way, it doesn’t matter whether you’re going to see Lorde, Arcade Fire, Crystal Gayle, or the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, know this: You do NOT have to rough it! Gone are the days when festival goers had no choice but to camp in primitive, sludge-laden bogs. Wouldn’t you rather stay in a luxurious condo or town home in the nearby communities of Palm Springs, La Quinta, and Rancho Mirage? Of course you would! Shuttle buses are available to transport you from your accommodations directly to the gates of both festivals. And the beauty of the system is, even if you don’t yet know exactly which resort you’re staying at, your shuttle pass is flexible enough to get you to and from the festival with maximum convenience and minimum hassle. You can learn more about the Valley Music Travel Shuttle by clicking here: valleymusictravel.com.

#208878 - La Quinta, Palm Springs

Watch the sun set over the mountains and then take an evening dip in the pool

One way to get the most from your concert-going experience is to practice the buddy system. That is, to make sure you’re travelling with a posse of friends. They’ll help you wring every memory possible from the festival and the aprés-festival! And they all fit into this property (pictured above)! With four spacious bedrooms and a private saltwater pool, this property will definitely facilitate maximum relaxation and rejuvenation so you’re all set for the next day’s events!

#205817 - La Quinta, Palm Springs

Enjoy the backyard mountain view at the PGA West Golf Resort in Palm Springs, CA

With two master suites and 3,500 sq. ft. of luxurious living space, this vacation home would enable you to bring the whole family. Yes, it sounds crazy, but is it, really?! The kids could hit Coachella and you could stay on for Stagecoach (or the other way around!). And for those less musically inclined, it doesn’t hurt that the home is located on the 13th fairway of the Nicklaus Private Golf Course. You don’t even have to play golf to be entertained by the duffers making their way along your private patio.

#73996 - Palm Springs, California

Very private and serene master bedroom

If the only crowds you’re prepared to endure are at the festival grounds, you might want to look at staying in a smaller, more intimate vacation home. In other words, leave your kids (or parents) and your friends to fend for themselves! Meanwhile you can unwind and decompress from the day’s full-on sensory abundance in a quiet, oasis-like condo like this one. At least until the next day’s lineup beckons!

#77235 - Palm Springs, California

Relax in this fun, private pool house with mountain views and near downtown.

So what happens if you find yourself travelling with folks who are attending Coachella or Stagecoach, but you’re not? Well, naturally, you’ll want to ensure you’re vacationing somewhere that will let you get your groove on, too! This vacation home is located right in Palm Springs, minutes from downtown, casinos, outlet shopping, restaurants, and nightlife (in case you’re not totally exhausted by 7:00 or 8:00 PM!).

Good news! There’s a storm brewing

Storm watching on the West Coast

Tofino, BC #205093 Nanaimo, BC #49725 Arch Cape, Oregon #206405 Ucluelet, BC #89115

Since when is “bad” weather good news? When it’s a winter storm lashing the rocky coast of the Pacific Northwest.

Don’t get me wrong. The ocean-side highways of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon are spectacular during the summer months. But there’s nothing like making this trip (really more of a pilgrimage) from November to mid-March, better known to the locals as “Storm Watching Season.”

Truly hardy types might venture directly out into the elements, to feel the wind, the salt spray, and the “mighty ocean tossed.” But I prefer my storm watching from the comfort of a luxurious suite, preferably with a like-minded companion, maybe a fire or a hot tub, and definitely a glass (or two) of local wine.

From just north of the California border all the way up Highway 101 to Washington and across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Vancouver Island, there’s hardly a cove along the Pacific Northwest coastline that doesn’t offer stunning access to some of the most powerful forces in nature. And the trifecta of rugged coastline, turbulent winter weather patterns, and gracious vacation homes combine to create a perfect storm of weather watching get-aways.

The west coast of Vancouver Island is arguably the most dramatic “must-visit” destination. And it’s no wonder. The landscape is a raw, wind-sculpted testament to the power and the beauty of the elements. Waves that have travelled, virtually unobstructed, across the Pacific can reach in excess of 12 metres. (For perspective, the tallest dinosaur who ever lived, Brachiosaurus, was about that height.) As a bonus, the area is rich with the legends of the First Nations people. If you can tear yourself away from the vistas, visit the Kwisitis Visitor Centre in Pacific Rim National Park to learn more about the Nuu-chah-nulth people, their traditions, and stories.

Tofino, BC #205093

Tofino, BC #205093

The closest vacation home to the Visitor Centre is this one: Located directly on famed Chesterman Beach right in Pacific Rim National Park. If it were any closer to the ocean, you’d need a life jacket!

Ucluelet, BC #63916

Ucluelet, BC #63916

South of Tofino, Ucluelet is just as stunning, but further off the beaten path. Ideal for travellers who want to feel like they’re off the grid even though they’re swathed in luxury.

If you’re not quite ready for the rugged isolation of Vancouver Island, Washington might be just the ticket. Consider a holiday rental that’s on the water, but also close to the bright lights and big city of Seattle.

Puget Sound, WA #207327

Puget Sound, WA #207327

It’s hard to believe this magnificent, cliff-top rental, with its unobstructed views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, is a scant 30 minutes from SEATAC International Airport!

If your storm-chasing adventures take you down the fabled Oregon Coast, you’re in for a real treat. Vacation accommodations include cabins, like this one, literally carved out of the rainforest on the edge of the sea.

Arch Cape, OR #206405

Arch Cape, OR #206405

And if your storm watching is intended as the backdrop for a proposal or milestone birthday or anniversary, why not go all out and treat yourself to a magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Port Orford, OR #114129

Port Orford, OR #114129

This incredible vacation home, in Port Orford, Oregon, is perched high on a secluded bluff and offers every possible luxury you can imagine. So you can do it all or do nothing at all. Either way, it’s time to check the weather forecast, pack a bag, and head for the West coast.

Ways to travel better

Travel Better

Vancouver, BC #61207 Okanagan #203886 Milos, Greece #208258 Vancouver, BC #133171

You can never travel enough, for there is always something new to discover, higher mountains to climb, deeper caves to explore. Finding ways to travel better is a challenge for every trip. Every place we uncover leaves us a little wiser; every pavement we’ve paced is a lesson learned. Here are some of those lessons that can make your travel more enjoyable and memorable.

Pack light. Maybe it’s a cliché but this is the number 1 rule when you talk about traveling. You must know the difference between what you need and what you want. Pack everything you need, the basic items, those you can’t survive without. And maybe after packing and realizing you really don’t need a lot, you might still have some room for extra shoes or that paperback you are currently reading and trying to finish. Traveling light is traveling freely.

Know the local basics. It is important that you have basic knowledge of the place you are going to visit. Rules and regulations, as well as customs, vary from one place to another. What is legal in your city can be prohibited in another. Knowing the basic rules and policies can save you from doing something offending or upsetting to the locals while you are in their area. This will serve as your guideline in your traveling. Remember: ignorance is not an excuse.

Speak their tongue. It will also make a huge difference if you have some background in the local language. A few local words or phrases will go a long way. Communication is an essential part of traveling. Investing in the basics is a great idea.

Miraflores, Peru - put your <a href="http://www.rosettastone.com/learn-spanish">Spanish</a> to the test! Unit ID - 124785

Miraflores, Peru – put your Spanish to the test!
Unit ID 124785

Be spontaneous. Planning a trip is exciting. It is thrilling to make itineraries of places you want to visit, of activities you want to do, of foods you want to try. But please do not plan too much. Over-planning kills endless possibilities and opportunities. You might miss a lot of unexpected surprises as you are trying to keep to your schedule. Let the experience be more spontaneous, not stressful. Traveling is about meeting new people and making new memories, not living another day of routine or checking lists and following timetables.

Stop the fear. Don’t be afraid to acquaint with strangers. Go ask for directions if you don’t know where to go. Don’t hesitate to try new things. This is what the trip is all about: facing unfamiliar challenges, encountering extraordinary adventures along the way, expanding your horizon. Be open and explore the unknown.

Mingle with the locals. When you visit a place, make sure to get to know the people. Knowing its people is learning about its culture. Go where the locals spend most of their time, eat where they usually eat. When moving, it is better to use their public transportation system. This way, you can really get around the place and get to know it more intimately. Find time to mingle with the crowd and you will learn everything you need to learn about the place.

Ferry crossing to Charoa Island Resort, India

Ferry crossing to Charoa Island Resort, India

Spend less. Don’t spend your time, money and effort on buying things that will occupy a lot of space in your luggage. By the end of your vacation, you might find yourself carrying too much. Instead, spend them on experiences that don’t weigh at all but matter most. Like dining out and trying local foods, plucking up some courage and take part in activities offered, visiting important landmarks and many more.

Prioritize. Time is always scarce. So you need to know which places you need to see first. Traveling without priority is like traveling without a compass. You might visit loads of places and realize you didn’t get where you really needed to go.

Get lost. Getting lost is the best way of immersing yourself into the experience. Talking to strangers and asking for directions is a sure way of learning about the place. Wandering off the grid aimlessly while enjoying the people, the weather, the scenery is an excellent way of relaxing and spending a vacation.

Water Lilies and a Swim Pond. 206589

Jay Peak, Vermont – Water Lilies and a Swim Pond. Unit ID 206589

Make memories and document them. Taking pictures and collecting small mementos is encouraged. You don’t want to forget a superb vacation, right? You can even make a scrapbook to document your travels and make notes of the things you need to improve. So the next time you plan another trip, you can flip its pages and add a thing or two to your checklist.

Exotic Car Rentals for Every Occasion

Here’s a guest post regarding luxury car rentals. What a great way to make your vacation even more special by renting an exotic car at your destination!

Rent an Exotic Car on Vacation

Exotic Car Rentals for Every Occasion

The world of luxury cars is tantalizing, even if you aren’t a car person. There are vintage muscle cars for old-school motor heads, luxury sedans for consumers who crave elegance and exotic cars for aficionados. Today, the options are endless. Luxury cars can be rented for any kind of special event, like a romantic drive on the byways and scenic highways of America, a night on the town or a trip to the beach. There’s no question that a luxury car rental can make any occasion special.

Rental Options

Driving through the city or cruising on the open highway is a pastime that can become unforgettable in a luxurious vehicle. Some of the most popular rentals today are the iconic Ford Mustang, a symbol of American power, the high-speed Chevy Camaro and the convertible Mercedes-Benz SLK 350. Putting the top down is more fun and more exciting in a luxury sports car. No doubt.

Making a big impression isn’t only about horsepower and muscle. Many luxury rides come in discreet packages. Mercedes S-Class sedans lead this category. This posh sedan is the vehicle of choice for business, pleasure and especially traveling dignitaries. Rentals are also about affordability. So if you want a practical option, try a Volvo, Volkswagen, Lincoln, Audi, Cadillac, BMW or Jaguar.

Who says you can have luxury and off-road power? Hummer, Mercedes and Land Rover lead the SUV pack. Hummers have become a modern classic, and Land Rovers are the original off-road wagon, but the Mercedes G-Class SUV is a serious rival with its rugged exterior, agile handling and handcrafted components. The Cadillac Escalade is the most popular vehicle in the burgeoning SUV category.

The Upper Echelon

Cadillac, Lincoln and Mercedes are certainly luxurious and definitely exciting, but they aren’t the only exotic rentals out there. The most exotic cars have world-class styling, extreme performance and a host of luxury features. They have fancy foreign names, more horses under the hood and enough style to turn heads on any drive. Anyone who admires German engineering will love the Mercedes SLS-Class Coupe, an absolute beast with gull-wing doors and a roaring hand-built engine. Of course, there are also fancy James Bond-worthy cars like Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Bently and Rolls-Royce. The modern superhero might also choose a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Lotus or futuristic driving machine that’s built for speed. Driving an exotic car is the difference between arriving in style and making a statement.

Exotic Car Rentals

The one percent who can afford the ultimate car are likely to buy one. For the rest of us, there are rentals. In most cases, drivers need to be over 25 to rent a speedy sportster and complete the rental agreement. Exotic cars and vacation home rentals are available in most major cities, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York City, Miami and many others. Choosing the car is part of the fun. Do you want a classy, understated ride, a smoking fast roadster, vintage muscle or an all-purpose SUV that’s ready for any adventure? Make a list of your top three choices to make sure that you get one of the rides on your list. Luxury car rental services from VIP Concierge connect clients to the hottest, most exotic cars in every city, and they can find the perfect car for any special occasion. What are you waiting for? Rent a car, and grab the keys.

Romantic getaways in BC

Romantic Getaways in BC

Kissimmee, Disney World Area, Florida #54906 Silver Star, BC #201340 Myrtle Beach, SC #203745 Disney World, FL #200944

Is winter getting to you and you need to recharge your batteries? Or perhaps you would like to enjoy a romantic weekend away, just the 2 of you? Picture yourself enjoying views of snow-capped mountains or the smell of the ocean from the comfort of your vacation rental. With all of the comforts and privacy of home, a vacation rental allows you to really relax and enjoy your vacation. Consider spending a weekend or longer at one of the following romantic getaways in British Columbia.

Ucluelet

Ucluelet - #143468Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island is Ucluelet, a small village popular for its variety of recreational activities.  Catch some waves surfing, kayak along the ocean shoreline or enjoy a day hike in the Pacific Rim National Park. Care to kick back and relax? Take a leisurely walk along Long Beach. Get cozy with a glass of wine by the fireplace of your vacation rental and watch the winter storms roll in. Enjoy a romantic dinner overlooking the ocean or pick up some fresh seafood and a bottle of BC wine, and enjoy a fun, laid-back evening cooking and laughing together. Whatever you choose to do, the stunning natural beauty of the area will be certain to renew your spirit even after a few days.

Victoria

A short ferry ride from Vancouver  or Seattle, Victoria is a city with its own distinct charm and character. Victoria is well known for its mild temperatures, in fact so mild that flowers bloom all year long. But don’t forget your umbrella as it does get its share of rain. Experience its British heritHorse-drawn carrige ride in Victoria, BC #206745age with a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride and high tea in a formal tearoom, or explore the city at your leisure by renting bicycles or kayaks. If shopping is your thing be sure to check out Antique Row, a street purely devoted to antiques and other collectible items. Experience Canada’s oldest China Town and walk North America’s narrowest street, Fan Tan Alley.  The city also has a lively night life and a culturally diverse community. Plan ahead and make sure to check out Victoria’s calendar of events to take advantage of all that is going on.

Kootenays

To really get away from your everyday life, consider taking a trip to the Kootenays. During the winter, the Kootenays offer amazing outdoor adventures including powder skiing and boarding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Choose a romantic and cozy one bedroom vacation rental in communities such as Kimberley, Fernie, Panorama or  Golden.

After a day on the slopes, relax those tired muscles in the privacy of your own hot tub or Jacuzzi.  If convenience is important, consider staying at Panorama offering a self-contained ski in/ski out resort. For backcountry adventures, consider Kicking Horse Mountain in Golden, the champagne powder capital of Canada. If you are looking for volume: it’s at Fernie Alpine Resort where they receive an average of 29ft of snow annually. No matter where you choose to stay, you will be sure to feel rejuvenated after spending so much time with Mother Nature.

The Okanagan

For couples with an adventurous spirit, the Okanagan, or the Okanagan Valley, is a perfect travel destination. Nothing is more romantic than exploring the ski village Apex Mountain #203654of Apex Mountain and enjoying the snow and exhilarating outdoor activities together. And how about spending some time in the wilderness by enjoying a hike in the spring or summer? It sure makes for a romantic day to be out in the open air and marveling at the wildlife with a romantic picnic for two. After your hike, you might want to try one of the many wine and dine activities hosted here or visit the many beautiful wineries and orchards, as well as sample the wines that these lovely places offer.

Do you have a favourite romantic destination in BC you would like to share?

Escape the cold this winter

Ready to escape the cold?

Maui #1538 Kauai #12293 Cape Coral, FL #201367 Calpe Coral, FL #201360 Mahahual, Mexico #204634

Have you had too much of the cold and snow? Perhaps you’ve been snowed in longer than you actually enjoyed. Yes, the pristine white all around is just too hard to ignore! And although sunny snow days can have their fun moments like making those cute snowmen and having entertaining snow fights, it can also get to be too much. If the weather has been uncomfortably cold for more than a month, the snow will begin to get you down until it finally gets on your nerves and affects your mood, too.

So after a few weeks of enjoying the snow capped grounds, you will soon crave more sun and a little bit warmth just to cheer you up! There is something to be said for a little extra Vitamin D that the warm sunshine can provide as a mood lifter. That’s why you have to fly somewhere warm and sunny. Plan you trip now!

Here are a few destinations and accommodations you might want to consider when you plan that brief yet unforgettable break to flee from the cold and snowy weather.

Castaways Cove in Grand Cayman

Beachside relaxation at this 2 bedroom condo at Castaways Cove in Grand Cayman – #203029

 1.      Grand Cayman’s Castaways Cove. It’s hard to think of sunny days and sandy beaches without giving this Caribbean island a thought. In fact, it is one of the most popular island beach destinations because of its many magnificent beaches that would appeal to the most selective of tourists and vacationers. Anyone can simply choose from one of their many  attractions and find the perfect place that suits their tastes as well as their budget. Grand Cayman’s Castaways Cove, located on the less populated portion of the island in the East End, has all the elements of one perfect holiday including a breathtaking view of the Caribbean. Enjoy one of those top floor condos and be ready to vacation like a VIP. Select one of the rooms with a king sized bed and bathtub and get ready to have your best vacation ever. It’s easy to spend the lazy hours of the night lounging in one of those cool patio chairs as you take in the soothing and relaxing island breeze. There are also provisions for a kitchen, as well as a grill area where you and your family can enjoy your very own homemade barbecue recipe.

Bangtao Beach - #207336

So much to do on Bangtao Beach – #207336

2.      The Residence Resort and Spa at Phuket’s Bang Tao Beach. Phuket has become one of the most popular beach destinations in recent years and it is no surprise that this Thai island has become a top choice for both local and foreign tourists. The unspoiled beauty of Bang Tao Beach is considered by many the best Phuket has to offer, not to mention, it is also the longest beach in the country. If you ever find yourself heading to this side of Thailand, one of the best places to get accommodations from is The Residence Resort and Spa. Not only do they meet the flawless European standards with their luxurious villas, it is also a top choice for its proximity to the beach and the airport. This world class, 5 star resort is set in a very reclusive tropical garden which is the most featured appeal to those who value their privacy even while on vacation. Notable amenities also include provisions for a barbecue, Wi-Fi, a gym, a large private swimming pool and a spa – which all aim to give any visitor a vacation of a lifetime.

#202808 in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Sunset from the 3rd floor patio in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico – #202808

3.      The Penthouse Delfin in Mexico’s Nuevo Vallarta. Some parts of Mexico are known for their hot, dry climate which makes it another top pick for a warm getaway during the wintertime. Idyllic sandy beaches are one of its most popular attractions. You can’t go wrong choosing any of Mexico’s sunny destinations if you aim to escape the snow and the cold in your country. A notable choice will have to be the Penthouse Delfin situated in Nuevo Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. This one bedroom penthouse allows any tourist to vacation like a king with its very own private jacuzzi and a stunning view of the dolphins taking a swim below. A panoramic view of Puerto Vallarta, as well as the enthralling sunset view are but some of its added charms.

Maalea vacation rental #204782

Come to Maui, enjoy life and know why we say “Maui No Ka Oi” (Maui is the best!!!) – #204782

 4.      Maalaea Yacht Marina in Maui. Hawaii still is and always will be a leading destination if you are yearning for the sun, the sand and the surf. Known for its many stunning beaches, it is summer all year round in this state. And the locals do not just say Maui No Ka Oi for nothing. At this accommodation, be blown away by the seemingly endless stretch of beaches just outside your windows. In addition, this island paradise destination is just a walk away from some of the islands famous attractions, including Haycraft Park, Kealia Nationa Wildlife Refuge, as well as your chance to enjoy a number of outdoor and water adventures. Here in Maalaea Yacht Club, their Posturpedic pillowed beds are just the tip of the iceberg.

Where are you heading to escape the cold this year?

Featured destination: Big Island, Hawaii

Big Island

Kailua Kona #74659 Kailua Kona #140662 Kailua Kona #142934 Kailua Kona #112939

This week we have a guest post from Discover Hawaii Tours:

The Big Island is definitely one of Hawaii’s most beautiful spots. Though Oahu is usually the first island most people think of when Hawaii is brought up, there is just as much to see and do on the Big Island – if not more! With beautiful rainforests, beaches, volcanoes and wildlife, the Big Island certainly has its own unique sights and landmarks to experience. Spending a day, or even a few there is definitely a must do when visiting.

Nature awaits with many surprises in Hawaii and on the Big Island. But not only does the Big Island have many natural sights, it also has a rich history. Guided tours can shed light on times past, when the Hawaiian natives developed the traditions and rituals that remain to this day.

With regards to beaches, there are many great ones to stop at and take a swim at, such as Onekahakaha Beach Park near Hilo, Kahaluu beach near Kona, or Kealakekua Beach south of Kona. Don’t forget to visit the Punaluu black sand beach as well. You can even visit the Kapoho tide pools if you’re looking for something besides the beach.

One of the Big Island’s most amazing landmarks has to be Mt. Kilauea. One of the most active volcanoes on earth, visiting this mountain and the Volcanoes National Park gives you the chance to see the lava flow, walk through a lava tube, and learn many things about volcanoes at the museum.  You could even take the Big Island Hawaii Volcano Eco-Adventure Tour, which can get you an amazing view of the volcanoes!

You can purchase locally made products, such as Kona coffee and raw organic honey right from the Big Island. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, the Hilo Farmers Market is open from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Featuring over 200 local farmers and crafters, this market is certainly an amazing one, with an abundance of fruits and vegetables, many of which are grown on the Hawaiian Islands.

There are also a few Eco tours available that will take you to and from the Big Island. One of them, for example, takes you around the island to various sights and then to the Volcanoes National Park. Some include Waipio Valley, an amazingly beautiful and remote valley, not accessible by car. Zipline tours are also available. If you want to be adventurous and see the beauty of the Big Island in an exciting way, you should consider going snorkelling, going out to see whales in the ocean, swim with the dolphins or going on a sunset cruise that departs from the Kona Coast. The options for fun things to do on the Big Island are endless.

There are many things to do! Check out Discover Hawaii Tours to get started. You can experience many things on the Big Island, making it a trip that will be an experience of a lifetime.

Great Family Reunion Vacation Homes

Great Family Reunion Vacation Homes

Renting a vacation home for a family reunion just makes sense. It is an affordable way for all family members to enjoy quality time together in a fun, new location.

On average, vacation homes offer far more space to stretch out, unwind, and enjoy! Space for everyone to relax and have a good time enjoying each others company. They usually include all the things you’d expect to find at home like full-sized appliances, dishes, books and games, and laundry facilities. These kinds of amenities can make your group stay so much more comfortable.

Most hotels just aren’t geared for families or groups of friends traveling together. Between the expense of eating out and having to book two (or more) rooms to accommodate everyone, you can blow most of your budget before you even get started.  Fortunately, it’s easy to find vacation rental homes that can satisfy the needs of just about any sized group. In addition to the essentials (plenty of beds and bathrooms), you can save a bundle by having at least some of your meals at home.

Another great benefit is that pets can be family members too. As owners set their own pet policies, there are over 4,000 pet-friendly vacation homes at OwnerDirect.com that allow dogs, cats and even other critters to stay.

Start planning now with OwnerDirect.com!

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico #202756

Stunning 6 bedroom beachfront luxury villa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico #202756

Mont Tremblant, Quebec #201448

Tremblant’s greatest home for family gatherings. 6 bedroom chalet #201448

Disney World, Kissimmee, FL #201888

Enjoy this 7 bedroom lake view villa in the Disney World Area, Kissimmee, Florida #201888

Poipu Beach, Kauai #122920

Gorgeous 5 bedroom home with private swimming pool and spa in Poipu Beach, Kauai #122920