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Turkey: A Perfect Vacation Destination

Looking to travel somewhere new that has fun and educational opportunities for everyone? Try Turkey! It’s the gateway to Asia and home to a moderate Mediterranean climate, Ottoman Monuments, stunning beaches, ancient ruins and nature parks the family will love. This week we’re sharing some of the best and most memorable destinations in the Turkish Empire!

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

Basilica Cistern
This ancient chamber was actually used as a reservoir for the city of Istanbul, but don’t let that fool you. The workmanship and location beneath the city create a beautiful, awe inspiring look into history. Spend some time examining the glittering marble, and search around for the giant carp fish and spooky Medusa heads. Why are they spooky? Because no one knows exactly what they were for! But we do know that a visit to the Basilica Cistern is a cool and relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

Antalya. View in the evening at the port

City of Antalya
Definitely take time to visit the ancient city of Antalya! Most visitors only see the resort areas of Antalya, but the city itself dates from 150 BC and is one of the hubs of the “Turkish Riviera.” The amazing old town center surrounding the harbor is called Kaleiçi, and the buildings date from Ottoman and Roman times. Many are still in use as houses, boutique hotels and restaurants. The city also features Hadrian’s Gate which was erected in 130 AD to celebrate the visit of Emperor Hadrian. Legend has it the queen of Sheba passed through the middle arch on her way to Aspensos.

Prince's Island

The Prince’s Islands
The Prince’s Islands is actually a chain of nine islands in the Sea of Maramara that were originally places of exile for royals who had fallen out of favor. Horse-drawn carriages and bicycles are the main form of transportation on the islands because motorized vehicles (except for school buses and ambulances) are banned! Four of the islands are open to visitors and are a quiet, peaceful day trip on the ferry from noisy Istanbul. The Hagios Giorgios Church offers some of the most beautiful views of the islands and sea. If you are lucky enough to visit on St. George’s Holy Day, you’ll get to take part in their annual wishmaking ritual. Thousands come to the church to light a candle and receive a blessing from the priest. Because Turkey is a multi-cultural country most of the people attending are not Christian.

Jane Roberts is a passionate blogger who has been writing professionally since 2010. She works for Turkish visa, an application process service that allows for online processing of documents and has made it possible to apply for and receive a travel visa to Turkey in less than a week. As an avid reader and blogger, she enjoys sharing her experiences on travel, culture, history and lifestyle.

photo credit: Pedro Szekely via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0
photo credit: Igor via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Nevit via Wikimedia Commons cc by-sa 3.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 08/12 at 11:40 AM
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Copenhagen for Kids!

Rosenborg Palace - home of the Danish Crown Jewels

Looking for a vacation destination to the happiest country on Earth? Look no further than Copenhagen, the vibrant and culturally bustling capital city of Denmark. There you’ll find a nice mixture of past and present with beautiful modern architecture fitting comfortably next to the classical buildings of this ancient city. You’ll feel truly magical as you walk through the spires of the city center surrounded by castles straight from a fairy tale.

The modern day kingdom scored highest in six key factors on The World Happiness Report, so if you’re looking for a family-friendly destination in Europe, weekend breaks to Copenhagen are the perfect choice. Even with the whole family along, it couldn’t be easier to set up a Copenhagen vacation. The city offers generous provisions to families and businesses, and most attractions offer amenities like nearby parking, stroller-friendly areas and changing tables in restrooms. Restaurants usually offer children’s menus as well!

So what should you see while you’re experiencing the “City of Spires”? It’s tough to pick just a few suggestions, but:

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National Museum of Denmark
The National Museum of Denmark is situated in a beautiful 18th century mansion right in the middle of Copenhagen and is free for young children. Explore the history of the Danes from the prehistoric period right up to today! The Children’s Museum features tons of activities for kids up to 12 from climbing into a Viking longboat to experiencing a recreated classroom from the 1920s.

Open Air Museum

Frilandsmuseet
Outdoorsy kids will love the Open Air Museum located to the northeast of Copenhagen. It is one of the largest and oldest outdoor museums in the world and features interactive exhibits of farmhouses and equipment set up to replicate farming tradition dating back to 1650. Kids can explore 86 acres of land that representing all the different regions of Denmark!

Tivoli Gardens

 
Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli is the world’s second oldest amusement park and one of Copenhagen’s most famous attractions. Located in the center of the city, these gardens contain acres of lakes, theaters and pagodas, along with rollercoasters and the world’s tallest carousel, the Star Flyer. It’s a beautiful park crammed full of entertainment both night and day: a must-see for the whole family.

2½ hippie

Cycling
Bicycling is huge in Denmark with bikes accounting for half of city’s residents’ everyday commute. So why not “go native” and hop on a bike to explore! Rental shops are found all over, and for the smaller kids, cargo bikes mean everyone can go along for the ride.

And don’t forget to pack a book of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales to read with the brood as they fall asleep: they’ll love to hear stories from the man who walked the streets of the city they’re visiting!

Copenhagen is a wonderful city to visit as a family, and there’s something for everyone, so next time you’re planning a trip, consider this beautiful, grand, happy Scandinavian city!


photo credit: Casper Moller via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: IK’s World Trip via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Jens Rost via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 08/08 at 11:08 AM
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Eco-Friendly Vacation Ideas in the Sunshine State

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Getting ready to board a flight to Tampa, Miami or the Florida Keys? You probably already know you have some stunning scenery in store! Home to some of the world’s best beaches, most vibrant cities and amazing attractions, Florida is the perfect location for families who love to spend their vacations outdoors, getting back to nature and enjoying the finer things in life. It’s also a state that takes its responsibilities towards the environment seriously and does its best to promote a range of eco-holidays and activities. And fortunately, when it comes to outdoor adventures in Florida, you’ll always have plenty of sunshine to play in!

Key West - Sunset

Eco-accommodation in the Florida Keys
The islands that make up the Florida Keys are a place of unparalleled beauty featuring some of the world’s most unforgettable beaches. When it comes to accommodations in these sun-drenched beauty spots choosing properties that are part of the Florida Green Lodging Program will help you stay eco-friendly! These beach and waterfront hotels have implemented a number of measures to help conserve natural resources. The hotels are some of the best available on the islands including luxury marina accommodations in Key Largo and exclusive beach resorts on Marco Island.

Dolphin Cover Orlando

Outdoor Escapes in Orlando
With so many tourists descending on the city year round, cheap flights to Orlando are easy enough to sniff out, especially if you book in advance. Orlando might be famous for its theme parks, but there’s a whole lot going on beyond the Disney turrets. Dive into the cool blue deep at Discovery Cove, where you can swim with dolphins, pet manta rays and make friends with turtles. Just book well in advance to avoid disappointment, and you’ll spend a blissful day without a line in sight! For something a little more exhilarating, experience free-fall conditions at iFly Orlando, a sky diving simulation center, or a dreamy, fragrant afternoon in the Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens, amid 50 acres of pretty petals and exotic plant life. Get bitten by the enormous flea-market just north of the city and scratch that shopaholic itch with a unique souvenir of your Florida adventure before your onward journey.

Everglades National Park Long Pine Key Nature Trail

Miami to the Everglades
If you’re headed to the vibrant city of Miami you’ll have more than enough family activities to enjoy including the always popular Miami Seaquarium. But don’t miss the experience of exploring the immense Everglades National Park that is only a 30-minute drive from the city. Avoid the crowds by booking private air-boat tours around this immense sub-tropical wetland where you can spot alligators, crocodiles and manatees. In fact, if you don’t feel like driving you can take a one-day private air-boat ride from Miami through to the Coral Gables, Little Havana and the Everglades.

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Eco-adventures in Tampa
Tampa is another of Florida’s most popular cities! The beauty of a Tampa vacation is access to the nearby beaches. Fort De Soto Park is only a 40-minute drive from Tampa with beaches that are truly the definition of an idyllic white sand paradise. Eco-tours of the Fort De Soto islands are available during which you’ll stop off at a secluded beach to sunbathe and may even get the chance to see dolphins and manatees! There is also the option to hire kayaks for the family and cruise around the islands at your leisure.

No matter what you want to do on your vacation, it’s easy to stay eco-friendly in the Sunshine State!

Jane Coleman is a proud mom of two who juggles motherhood with managing a cupcake business. She loves the great outdoors and holidaying around America.

photo credit: Phil Ejercito via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0
photo credit: Serge Melki via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Miguel Vieira via Flickr cc by 2.0
photo credit: Pinellas County via Flickr cc by 2.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 08/05 at 11:15 AM
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Five Sights to See on Your Summer Visit to London!

With the kids getting ready to head back to school, you may be wondering just what to do for the final few weeks of summer vacation. Keeping them amused (and yourself sane!) is no mean feat. A last-minute vacation to London just might fit the bill, so we’ve put together five fun activities that will keep the whole crew entertained!

The London Helicopter

The London Helicopter
Lifting off from the London Heliport in Battersea, the London Helicopter is the only scheduled helicopter sightseeing service in the UK. What a way to see the sights of London! You and the kids will enjoy a 20-minute flight over the Thames, taking in the wonders of the capital’s skyline and the unrivaled views of its famous monuments from a unique perspective. Definitely an amazing experience you’ll treasure forever!

The London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum
In the heart of London’s Covent Garden, in the historic Flower Market Building, you’ll find the London Transport Museum—a fascinating exhibit dedicated to the story of the capital’s transport system throughout the last 200 years. With 450,000 items preserved in the museum, there’s plenty to keep the children happy all day! In fact, there’s so much to see you may not be able to pack everything into one visit! In addition to some really fun planned activities, you’ll experience what traveling across the City was like in centuries gone by, sitting behind the driver’s seat in a tube train simulator and seeing an old bus that was pulled by horses.

Churchill War Rooms

Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms is an underground maze of rooms from which Churchill directed World War II. Today, you can visit these rooms and hear the captivating stories of this secret headquarters. Explore the War Room, the Map Room, where books and charts have been preserved exactly as they were on August 16, 1945, visit the kitchens that fed Churchill and his inner circle and learn about the great man himself in the Churchill Museum.

The London Dungeon

The London Dungeon
One of London’s most popular and famous experiences, The London Dungeon is certainly not for the fainthearted and perhaps best avoided by the squeamish. But for those enthralled by the grisly stories of England’s past, this is a day out beyond compare! The London Dungeon brings the country’s deepest and darkest chapters eerily back to life with actors providing spooky re-enactments of history’s most horrid stories. New this year is the Sweeney Todd experience capturing the terrifying tales of the demon barber of Fleet Street. Even though it’s remembering some pretty gruesome history, it’s all in good fun, and there are plenty of laughs as well as scares to be had.

Sea Life London Aquarium

Sea Life London Aquarium
Home to one of the largest collections of marine life in Europe, the London Aquarium is sure to draw “oohs” and “ahhs” from the kids as they participate in an interactive journey along the Great Ocean Conveyor. The aquarium boasts thousands of sea creatures, including 500 species from every part of the world. You can visit with the inquisitive stingrays who often come to the surface of the pool when people are present, brave the brand new Shark Reef Encounter (you can even snorkel with the sharks, eeeek!) and explore the Antartic with Penguins: Ice Adventure.

Have you visited any of these spots in London? If so, let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear about your adventures!

photo credit: Heather Cowper via Heather on Her Travels cc 2.0
photo credit: Andrew via Flickr cc by-sa 2.0

Posted by Elizabeth on 08/01 at 11:10 AM
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JetBlue Launches Mint—A Luxury Jet Service from JFK to LAX & SFO

We are so excited about the launch of Mint and these majorly POSH seats that are making luxury travel affordable!

minteseats

JetBlue launched a premium service in June from JFK to LAX and SFO starting in October, with fares starting at $599 each way, far less than what United, Delta and American charge for their trans-continental routes.

Sit back (all the way back) and relax! JetBlue Mint includes lie-flat seats in the front of their brand new Airbus 321 cabins, four of which are suites.

mintseats

These super-comfy seats offer plenty of room, a massage feature, cushions with adjustable firmness and the ability to lie completely flat for much-needed naps. And for extra privacy, Mint suites have their own door.

mint

As part of the Mint experience, you’ll continue to enjoy the inflight entertainment you know and love from JetBlue, including up to 100 channels from DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio and access to Fly-Fi®, real broadband Internet in the sky on new 15” screens.

For some delicious inflight bites, JetBlue has partnered with renowned New York restaurant Saxon + Parole to create a small-plates menu. Plus, you’ll enjoy a variety of artisanal snacks straight from Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, A Colicchio Discovery, and, because ice cream belongs everywhere, savor some cool treats from Blue Marble Ice Cream! The Mint experience also boasts full-bottle wine service, a signature refreshmint and complimentary alcoholic beverages.

mintfood

To top off the Mint experience, you’ll go home with a complimentary amenity kit filled with editor-approved beauty, grooming and lifestyle products from Birchbox (for both men and women), as well as an artisanal sweet treat as a parting gift.

birch

Extra bonus (especially if you have kids in tow) you’re bags will be the first to arrive at the carousel at your destination.

To learn more about JetBlue’s Mint service, check out: http://www.jetblue.com/flying-on-jetblue/mint/

 

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/31 at 10:45 AM
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Activities Galore in Sunny Boca Raton!

Boca Raton

Talk about a vacation destination that’s “in the pink!” Boca Raton Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in South Florida is a pastel hotel with an air of fun in the sun for the whole family. Located on Lake Boca Raton and seconds from the beach, you’ll be square in the action taking advantage of the activities available to guests of all ages.

Boca Raton Resort Beach Flags

This summer the resort is offering the Boca Surf School and the new Quest Kids’ Club, a supervised daily program offering activities like soccer, kids’ beach boot camp, yoga, stuffed Mizner monkey making, arts and crafts, fishing, video games, ping pong and themed treasure hunts. There’s lots to keep even the most active kid busy having fun all day long!

Boca Raton Surf Club

The surf school offers lessons, clinics and events for all those with aspirations of hanging ten—no matter their age or skill level. Add to this a separate rec-deck with basketball hoop, remote control racing boats, soccer goals, table tennis and a 30’ rock-climbing wall, and you’ll be glad to be able to take a relaxing breather at the Enlightened Living Zen Den featuring the new Herb and Butterfly Garden. Phew!

Boca Raton Kids Club

The Creation Station offers hands-on ceramics classes, fresh-air painting, tie-dying and more, and the TechSpot features full size token-based arcade games, air hockey and prize redemption games.

The city of Boca Raton’s distinctive look and atmosphere is largely the result of one man’s vision: architect Addison Mizner (remember the monkey?) created the Moorish-Mediteranean-Gothic styling of the hotel, as well as the predominance of pink and pastels to the resort and surrounding community. All in all your visit to the resort will be an active and uniquely South Florida experience that is not to be missed!

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/29 at 12:04 PM
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Design Your Own Dining Experience at the St. Regis Mexico City

Ready for an upscale Mom-and-Dad only vacation? Head down to Mexico where the St. Regis Mexico City, the cosmopolitan hotel setting the highest standard for luxury and bespoke service in Mexico, has just launched Tasting Traditions, a new guest-curated menu concept designed to challenge Executive Chef Guy Santoro’s culinary curiosity and take you on a gourmet journey of memories and flavors. The experience will make you feel as if Santoro is cooking in your own kitchen! From fond family recipes to travel discoveries, Chef Santoro defies the clock and culinary limits to create and deliver a customized five-course dinner in the Decanter Room, the smallest restaurant in Mexico. The resulting tasting menu combines unexpected flavors and exquisite presentations in Chef Santoro’s take on your favorite dishes or preferred tastes.

With just six hours to plan, prepare and present each Tasting Traditions vision and guest-curated menu, Chef Santoro looks to the creativity and expertise of The St. Regis Mexico City’s renowned culinary team, who specialize in creating one-of-a-kind dining experiences for guests, residents and locals alike. As emphasized in the ambiance of The Decanter Room, live music and wine pairings presented in Riedel decanters complement each course.

The Tasting Traditions service is available daily from 6:00–10:00pm for parties of four to 12 guests and requires eight-hour advance reservation.

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/25 at 12:07 PM
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‘Kids in the Kitchen’ at Trump New York!

Trump Kids in the Kitchen Package

Do your kids obsessively watch MasterChef Junior? Do you find dog-eared issues of Gourmet Magazine tucked away in their room? If so, the new kid-friendly package at the Trump Hotel Central Park is for you! In partnership with Williams-Sonoma, and designed to entice the hotel’s youngest gourmands, the Kids in the Kitchen Package offers a hands-on experience that families can enjoy in the comfort of their own suite.

Trump Kids in the Kitchen Package

In addition to overnight accommodations in an executive one-bedroom suite, the Kids in the Kitchen package provides guests with a bounty of bakeware including embroidered Trump aprons for parent and child, Trump-branded spatula, cookie cutters and oven mitt—along with a Williams-Sonoma Kids Cookbook!

Trump Central Park Kitchen

With utensils in hand, parents and their tiny Chefs de Tournant can take full advantage of the suite’s European-style kitchen stocked with Sub-Zero appliances, Williams-Sonoma Sugar Cookie Mix and all the ingredients needed to whip up a tasty in-room treat. The package will be available through the end of the year with variations for the cold weather, such as specially themed Halloween/holiday cookies, hot chocolate and more.

Trump Kids in the Kitchen Package Suite

The 700 sq. ft. executive one-bedroom suite included in the package features a luxurious king-sized bed, 55-inch flat-panel HDTV with Blu-ray player, marble bath and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the vibrant city below.

As part of the ongoing relationship between the Trump Hotel Collection™ and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Trump New York will make a $10 donation on the family’s behalf for every package booked.

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/22 at 08:22 AM
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Looking for a Unique Vacation Spot? Try Your Very Own Island!

Isola di Mal Ventre from the air

Looking for a fun place for a family vacation but tired of hitting the same old resorts and hotels? Does spending time on your own private beach sound like the perfect thing? How about owning your own private island in the Mediterranean: completely secluded, undeveloped and ready for an invasion by your very own Swiss Family Robinson!

Isola di Mal Ventre Beach

A short boat-ride from mainland Sardinia, Isola di Mal Ventre is a 200-hundred acre private island that has recently been put on the market and is one of a very few islands in the Mediterranean currently for sale. It’s completely uninhabited, with only what’s left of an abandoned shepherds cottage visible.

Isola di Mal Ventre Roman Columns

Just under a mile and half long at its longest point and 60 feet above sea level, the island has been inhabited off and on since Roman times with a usable watering well and building foundations from that time still there—features that can easily be incorporated into a modern vacation spot for an enterprising family. The island is just under 130 miles from fashionable Porto Cervo, a seaside resort in Northern Sardinia famous for some of the most expensive home locations in Europe.

Isola di Mal Ventre Mistral

The island is rocky, composed mainly of granite and featuring low vegetation with a wide variety of indigenous plants and animals. Parts of the western coast of the island are quite rugged and buffeted by the Mistral, a wind that blows from southern France, but the southeastern coast has lovely sandy beaches and coves with clear blue waters.

Isola di Mal Ventre Beach

Though no planning for development has been initiated since the current owners purchased the island in 1972, a local architect suggests that a low-rise eco-style villa could dramatically increase the property’s value, with the potential to bring in vacationers—if you wanted visitors!

Those looking for a taste of Mediterranean adventure and a love of fixer-upper opportunities can find Isola di Mal Ventre listed on www.debutesq.com.

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/18 at 12:07 PM
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uberFAMILY: For Posh Parents on the Go

Starting July 14, Uber is making life easier for parents in the DC metro area with the launch of uberFAMILY, their new on-demand car seat option. With the touch of a button and a $10 surcharge, parents can easily request a ride that’s equipped with a car seat.

To develop uberFAMILY, Uber DC teamed up with The Car Seat Lady’s Dr. Alisa Baer, who trained the service’s highest-rated partner drivers on how to safely secure the seats—all of which were manufactured specifically for Uber by IMMI!

In celebration of the launch, Uber DC is kicking things off with a surcharge-free week brought to you by Care.com, the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care.
Plus, a Poshbrood Deal!
And, if you’ve not yet joined Uber, we have a special deal for you!

1) Use promo code ‘Poshbrood’ for $25 off your first Uber ride!

2) Download the App, and enter the code.

3) Request uberFAMILY and be connected to a highly-rated driver with a car seat!

What is Uber?
Uber is an app that connects you with a driver at the tap of a button. Request a ride and have a driver curbside in minutes. There’s no need to carry cash. When you reach your destination, your fare is automatically billed to your card on file, and there’s no need to tip. Good for one ride, up to $25, new riders only. Expires 11/1/14. Excludes uberTAXI.

Already have Uber? Simply toggle to your vehicle option at the very bottom of the screen (uberFAMILY is available on both uberX and UberBLACK), and tap the ‘FAMILY’ button above the slider.

To learn more about UberFAMILY, including how to request UberFAMILY on your Uber app and safety details, head to: http://bit.ly/1vXbOjz

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/15 at 06:34 PM
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Sunny Cyprus: Relaxing and Educational Fun for the Family

If you and your posh brood are heading off to Cyprus this summer, you’re sure to fall in love with its incredible natural beauty, postcard-perfect landscapes, stunning beaches and great weather! What’s more, the locals are some of the friendliest, most hospitable people you’ll ever meet.

As the third largest island in the Mediterranean, located to the south of Turkey and east of Greece, there will be no shortage of fun activities! Cyprus is a great destination for everyone: families, history buffs, sun worshipers, party people and those looking for a more active holiday will not be disappointed. And, if you enjoy culinary experiences, there are some fantastic restaurants serving up great local and foreign foods.

Konnos Beach

Soaking up the Sun
Cyprus will definitely cater to your every need if a relaxing vacation is what you’re after. Lying on the beach and soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine is one of the main reasons why people visit this beautiful island, so of course, there are a wealth of beaches to choose from! Konnos beach is very near Ayia Napa on the road from Protaras to Cape Greco and is known for being one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. It’s sheltered, has safe swimming conditions for the little ones, and there’s plenty of room for sunning yourself on the sand.

Fig Tree Bay

Fig Tree Bay
One of the most popular beaches on the island is Fig Tree Bay. This beautiful stretch of sand gets its name from the tree that used to provide shade to the locals—before the beach gained the popularity it now enjoys. However, it’s still very much a big hit with the locals, especially those with young families, because of the more shallow water. A small rocky island just offshore is within swimming distance, and there are even water sport facilities available for the more active among your group.

Le Meridien Limassol

For those seeking something luxurious, and a bit quieter, the private blue flag beach of Le Meridien Limassol in Cyprus’s south coast (in Limassol town) is worth visiting for a more pampered beach-going experience!

Explore the Island by Car
Looking for something other than the beach experience? Renting a car is a fun way to discover Cyprus! The island’s interior is just as stunning as its sun-kissed coastline and, although many overlook it, certainly worth exploring. You can walk the breathtaking Troodos and Kyrenia mountain ranges and roam through citrus groves in the north of the island. If it’s history and culture you’re after, try climbing up to the island’s medieval castles to take in the marvelous views from the top. There is an incredible depth of history in the capital, Nicosia, where the old stone Venetian city walls still surround the city.

All in all, Cyprus has something for everyone, so enjoy your visit to this island paradise!

photo credit: Nino Verde via Wikimedia Commons cc by sa 3.0
photo credit: Romeparis via Wikimedia Commons cc by sa 3.0
photo credit: AyianapaProtaras via Wikimedia Commons cc by sa 3.0
photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov via Flickr cc

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/11 at 10:01 AM
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Fun in the Sun in Cabo!

Kaley and Ryan in Cabo

Where better to celebrate your six-month anniversary than the Central American paradise of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico? Kaley Cuoco Sweeting and tennis-star husband Ryan Sweeting clearly couldn’t imagine a better place! They made a “big bang” over the holiday weekend partying with family and friends on the beaches of Los Cabos’ Villa La Estancia.

Villa Estancia Pool

If you’re looking for a quick getaway (and the possibility of spotting a few celebrities!) Villa La Estancia is the place. The resort has become a bit of celebrity hotspot by priding itself on offering regal opulence amidst a relaxed and fun setting. The villas on this five-star property are furnished in elegant Spanish Colonial and hacienda-style and feature private balconies and luxurious spa bathrooms.

Villa Estancia Spa

Need more spa time?
Who doesn’t need more spa time?! The on-site Desert Spa is the largest and most elaborate spa in the area. From massages, body wraps and facials to hydrotherapy, couples’ experiences and a full-service beauty salon, you won’t have any choice but to relax. Even the kids don’t get left out of the fun! They can enjoy pampering as well thanks to the Mini Spa. These special spa services are fun, safe and a great way for the younger generation to enjoy relaxing and start developing healthy habits.

Villa Estancia Dining

Amazing Eats
And don’t forget the top-notch gourmet cuisine at La Casona restaurant! The restaurant’s unique layout boasts an impressive open kitchen and an enchanting outdoor dining area all set in a romantic, elegant space making your evening a memorable experience. For a little more interaction, you can sit at the Chef’s Table where Chef Marlon Petrick will create a themed menu cooked right in front of you—with the added bonus that each course is paired with interesting wines from around the world! If you’re looking for a little more romance, you can reserve a private table—Sunset a Deux—and dine surrounded by glowing tiki torches at the ocean’s edge.

Whether you’re celebrating your six-month, six-year or sixtieth anniversary, Villa La Estancia is a great place to kick back and enjoy the sun!

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/08 at 12:47 PM
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Going to the Spa? At The James Chicago, Kids Go Too!

Kid Spa Treatment

Let’s face it, being a kid is a full time job. Sure, it may seem like a fun parade of play dates, amusement parks and cartoons about imaginative four-year olds, but that’s just part of it. A kid’s life in 2014 is full of responsibilities and hard work. Cleaning rooms! Helping with the dishes! Fixing mom’s iPad when it keeps defaulting to the Caillou homepage! Sometimes it seems like a kid’s work is never done.

James Chicago Spa

That’s why it’s important to kick back and take a break sometimes. And thanks to the new KidSpa treatments available at The Spa by ASHA at The James Chicago, your little ones can get in on the spa fun! Two new services are now offered as part of The James’ Lil’ James program, an amenity and experience program tailored for the pre-adult set.

The new treatments available are:
Pure-Fume Aroma
Kids love building things, from Legos to teddy bears, so why not make their spa visit a hands-on, or in this case a “nose-on”, experience? Kids go on a sensory journey by building their own customized Pure-Fume Aroma, relaxing and picking their favorite smells like cinnamon, lavender, licorice or peppermint and blending them to create their own signature scent.
Banana Split Facial
What do we tell our kids? “Don’t play with your food!” Well, at ASHA they’ve thrown that rule out the window with their sweet and fun banana split facial! Enjoy a messy, moisturizing experience with classic banana split flavors infused into the facial. Start with refreshing strawberry, mask in soothing banana, exfoliate with a chocolate scrub and finish off with a massage in moisturizing vanilla. Talk about a delicious spa experience!

James Chicago Guest Room

And after the royal kid treatment, the fun for the whole family doesn’t have to end. The James Chicago offers a variety of impressive services making it the ideal choice for families visiting Chicago. Be sure to take advantage of The James Family Adventurer package  featuring the best of Chicago sights and culture with curated family-friendly activities.

The package includes:
• Four tickets to Chicago Children’s Museum
• Milk-and-cookie turn-down service
Urban Infant upcycled skip rope – jump ropes designed specifically for children that are environmentally safe, being constructed of 100% reclaimed mountain climbing rope
• Welcome amenity for children of a backpack stocked with treats and games

James Chicago Lobby

The Lil’ James program also offers kid-friendly dining menus, books, board games, DVDs, Nintendo Wiis and games along with bikes and helmets for when it’s time to head out for some exploring! At The James Chicago, you’ll never run out of things to do!

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/04 at 11:05 AM
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Celebrate July 4th in Style!

Fireworks

We have some suggestions for amazing family getaways to celebrate Independence Day this year! Whether you love the family fun, the fireworks, the barbecues or all of the above, there’s something for everyone at these incredible vacation spots. So grab your sparklers, pull on your best red, white and blue beach togs and explore the sandy side of the US of A!

El Conquistador Resort

Leading up to the 4th of July, El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico offers loads of family-friendly fun to celebrate our independence. Perched high above the ocean on a 300-foot cliff, El Conquistador is a peaceful retreat on the Island of Enchantment, and a great place for you and the fam to relax and have fun! Activities range from water volleyball and a sand castle competition on the resort’s 100-acre private island to a BBQ Lunch, and, just for the parents, the Blackbeard Happy Hour. The celebration continues with Kids Night Out, Coqui Water Park and Dive-In Movies.

Boca Raton Resort and Club

Boca Raton Resort & Club in South Florida is having a 4th of July Holiday BBQ Party that will be sure to put you and your family in a patriotic state of mind. There will be a delicious BBQ buffet accompanied by live music from “Rogue Theory” and DJ Ryan Smith. The kids can play games, go on water slides and enjoy carnival tents, while you enjoy the open bar and dancing. A fireworks display over the intercoastal waterway caps off the night of fun!

South Seas Island Resort

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island is celebrating Independence Day a little differently this year: instead of celebrating on the 4th, South Seas will be the only resort in the area declaring a celebration on the 5th of July. Guests will get to celebrate Independence Day all weekend long with a golf cart parade, food and beverages on the golf course and a fireworks display over the Gulf.

Casa Marina

Casa Marina in Key West is celebrating Independence Day with their 30th Annual 4th of July Picnic. Complete with fireworks, live music, games, silent auction and a gourmet buffet, you can’t help but have some family fun celebrating! You can even take a peek right now using their live webcam! A portion of the ticket proceeds will go to the Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice of the Florida Keys.

Attending one of these awesome celebrations? Let us know below in the comments!

photo credit: Anna Cervova via Public Domain Images

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/30 at 07:16 PM
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Digital Babysitter? Taking the Technology When You Travel

Tween texting

Although it’s true family vacations should be spent bonding, there are certainly times when the kids need a diversion so parents can have a moment of peace. When used in moderation, and with clear guidelines, technology doesn’t have to be a proverbial four-letter word that takes away from the overall experience. It can be an excellent method for keeping kids occupied—especially on long rides. Today we have a few tips for enhancing your vacation while keeping the technology as a diversionary tactic!

Rules Before Traveling
Before you load up the car or get on the plane, make it clear that vacation is a chance to enjoy each other’s company, and that technology will be reserved for specific situations. Advise the kids that even you will be adhering to this rule—and then stick to it! This gives everyone a sense of being on equal ground, and the kids are less likely to complain if you’re following the rule diligently as well!

Road Trip!
Long rides are where you may need assistance from technology the most. Make sure your child’s device has enough material so he or she won’t get bored, because the calmer the kids are, the easier the travel experience will be. The added stress of unruly bodies in the back seat can ruin your mood as well as the vacationing experience. And, the travel itself, while it may be beautiful and scenic, doesn’t have to be a strict bonding moment. Giving the kids time to engage in a solo activity can keep their minds from becoming restless—and the squabbles to a minimum!

iPad Vacation

Leave the Tech in the Room
Once you arrive at your destination, the rule should be “No tech on tours.” Leave all devices except for phones in the hotel room. Not only will this reduce the chances of devices being lost or stolen, it will allow the family to enjoy what is surely an interesting and beautiful locale. If your child wants to bring their device to take pictures, you’ll have to commit to enforcing the no games or social media rule. The vacation is to be a special moment shared with the family, not Facebook! Experiencing the moment is important, so posting the exciting adventures of the day can wait until you get back to the hotel.

Kids at Campfire

Exceptions to the Rule
When you’re on vacation as a family, it’s imperative that you include attractions the kids will find interesting. While you don’t have to spend the entire time sitting in an amusement park, unless that was your intention, adding a few sites to your itinerary that are engaging for young minds keeps them from missing their screens.

Technology doesn’t have to be a bad addition to your vacation as long as it’s used sparingly. Setting rules for screen time while including child-friendly areas can improve the vacationing experience for even the most technologically diverse child. Enjoy the company of loved ones but realize the potential technological diversions can have for stressful moments and preventing mischief bred from boredom.

Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in the Houston, Texas office of Morningside Nannies, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.

photo credit: Carissa Rogers via Flickr cc
photo credit: Håkan Dahlström via Flickr cc
photo credit: Chris Reed via Flickr cc

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/27 at 02:20 PM
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