Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category

Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa: Hawaii Preview Event

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Artist's Rendition of Aulani Resort and Spa

Last week, I had the opportunity to get a “first-look” at the brand-new Disney resort in Hawaii, the Aulani Resort and Spa in Ko’Olina, Oahu, Hawaii.  The resort, which starts accepting reservations August 2, 2010, is set to open on August 29, 2011.

A group of travel bloggers and journalists, including me, donned hardhats, long pants, and closed-toed shoes for this exclusive, in-depth tour with Disney Imagineer (and genius behind Animal Kingdom Park), Joe Rodhe.

The resort will feature loads of family-friendly amenities, including Auntie’s Beach House (a kids’ club that will be open in the day and the evening and will have two sections catering to older and younger kids), a snorkel lagoon, a character breakfast featuring Disney characters who are on their own Disney vacation, and DVC Suites (that can be rented by standard guests, based upon availability).  The resort will also offer interactive games, similar to the Kim Possible attraction at the World Showcase in Epcot.  Even the deluxe spa will have its own junior wellness section, with internet access and a yogurt bar.

For the adults, there’s an upscale restaurant (in addition to the buffet restaurant), a lounge/pub, and the huge (but yet unnamed) spa. In addition to the DVC Suites (including some grand villas) standard rooms will also be available, and they will be similar in size to the rooms at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World, with room for four guests.  The resort will include art from sixty Native Hawaiian artists, and the room decor is heavily influenced by native Hawaiian kapa designs, created by Dalani Tanahy.

Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa
Ko’Olina, Oahu, Hawaii

Image credit: The Walt Disney Company

Disclosure: Disney paid for my travel expenses for this Aulani preview event.

Beautiful Honeymoon Destinations

Monday, July 26th, 2010

In today’s sponsored post, Ashley Jennings highlights three popular travel destinations for honeymooners.

honeymooners Beautiful Honeymoon Destinations

Honeymooners © Luca Biagiotti

Written by Ashley Jennings

There are many decisions that go into planning a honeymoon and these can have a significant effect on the quality of the trip. It is important to decide what type of vacation you are interested in booking. An all-inclusive package is a popular choice, but some couples may not wish to have everything available at the resort.

Among honeymooners, Cancun, Jamaica and Hawaii are three well-liked destinations. If you are looking to book a trip through a travel agency, Liberty Travel has some great honeymoon packages.

cancun Beautiful Honeymoon Destinations

Cancun © Enyeto Rucker

Mexican Cancun is a popular destination often chosen because of the beautiful beaches and warm weather. Cancun almost feels like the Caribbean and has many activities that couples can enjoy together. If you enjoy the ocean, you can go scuba diving in the clear water or try windsurfing.

jamaica Beautiful Honeymoon Destinations


An all-exclusive trip to Jamaica is another excellent choice for a honeymoon. Since everything is available at the resort, including food and drinks, an all-inclusive vacation ensures that you receive the service you deserve. This allows you to enjoy your time together without even having to explore the area.

Jamaica has a variety of activities such as river rafting in Port Antonio and cliff jumping into the sea. If you would prefer to stay at the resort, the beaches are the perfect place to relax.

maui sunset Beautiful Honeymoon Destinations

Maui Sunset seen from the Renaissance Wailea © Adam Carver

Another popular honeymoon destination is Hawaii, an island with a very diverse temperature that varies depending on when you decide to go. During the summer season, which takes place between May and October, the temperature usually reaches the mid 80s, and during the winter months, the temperature is usually in the 70s. This makes Hawaii an ideal honeymoon location, especially for couples that are used to living in the cold weather. The weather and natural beauty of the islands make Hawaii an excellent choice for a newly married couple.

A helicopter tour of the island can be an enjoyable experience that you both remember for a long time. If you enjoy the water, you can go snorkeling, kayaking, or surfing. Hawaii has a variety of activities for couples of all ages.

A honeymoon is meant to be romantic and these locations provide everything honeymooners would ask for during their first trip as a married couple. The all-inclusive resorts are highly recommended, because everything necessary is available at the resort. However, if you prefer to explore the island and sample local cuisine away from the resort, an all-inclusive vacation package may not be the best choice for you.

As a freelance writer, Ashley Jennings writes about a variety of topics including travel.

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Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk, Honolulu, Hawaii

Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown, Hula Dancers at Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk, Honolulu

Hula Dancer in training at Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk, Honolulu

Kawehewehe – A Legendary Place of Spiritual Healing

According to legends and oral traditions, Waikiki was the seat of the Oahu kingdom. Kawehewehe, where Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk is located, was also known as a place for spiritual healing. While our son limped around on crutches from a prior accident and my husband gradually detached  from his cell phone umbilical cord, I can say that the Embassy Suites was a place for healing from work place overload.

Aloha Tower

Upon arrival, we were welcomed with mini fresh fruit drinks; perfect for a main-lander attitude adjustment. Our two bedroom suite in the Aloha Tower was ideally arranged for two teenagers and two adults. After a day of horseback riding on the North Shore, we made it in time for the Manager’s Reception, held daily on the 4th floor from 5:30-7:30 p.m. My husband and I enjoyed complimentary mixed drinks – mai tai, anyone? The kids were happy with unlimited refills of chips and soda. The hula dancers were an unexpected bonus to a nice evening.

Embassy Suites Waikiki beach walk, honolulu, hawaii, oahu, luxury travel writer Nancy D. Brown

The suite life begins at Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk, Honolulu, Hawaii

Suite Life

That evening we looked out on our balcony to the Friday night fireworks exploding in the sky next to Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and Spa. Our two bedroom suite, #1402, rented for $439 and included the Manager’s Reception and a full hot breakfast with made to order omelets in the morning. My husband appreciated the in room coffee maker, the kids loved the flat screen television in their own room and easy beach and shopping access, I enjoyed the free Internet, Bloom bath amenities and having my own balcony.

Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown, Second bedroom, embassy suites, waikiki beach walk, honolulu, hawaii

Their own room with a flat screen tv - teenager suite life at Embassy Suites

Waikiki Beach Walk – Shoppers Paradise

While I’m not a power shopper, the Embassy Suites is located next to the Royal Hawaiian Center, home to numerous restaurants such as Doraku Sushi. There is also a food court located within the center for quick, affordable meals. During my visit to the Royal Hawaiian Center, the Polynesian Cultural Center dancers performed. I also happened to be in Oahu during the Na Hoku Hanohano Festival. The Royal Hawaiian Center was a venue for one of the free musical events scattered about Waikiki leading up to the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards – Hawaii’s version of the Grammys for locally produced music.

IF YOU GOEmbassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk  (808) 921-2345

201 Beachwalk Street, Honolulu, HI 96815

Related Posts: Things to See and Do in Honolulu, Hawaii

Kani Ka Pila Grille

Horseback Riding in Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii

Article written by and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip  I was a guest of  Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk and the Hawaii Visitors Bureau.

Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown visits the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort & Spa in Honolulu, Hawaii

Our view from the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort & Spa in Honolulu, Hawaii

Hilton Hawaiian Village

As we pulled our rental Jeep into the Hilton Hawaiian Village driveway, the two teenagers in the back seat actually unplugged from their iPods momentarily and shared a word or two.  “Nice” said the 18 year old. “Sweet” added the 14 year old when he spied the waterslide and Waikiki beach beyond the swimming pool.

Our room, an Executive Double, with balcony, two double beds and a sofa pull out bed, was the equivalent to a room and a half. Traveling with two teenagers, the extra space and additional sink and mirror before the actual bathroom were appreciated.  We also liked the mini-refrigerator and the in-room high speed internet.

Our room, #3029 in the Tapa Tower, ranged in price from $325-$659, depending on time of year. As always, check the internet or follow Hilton Hawaiian Village on Twitter for their best rates.

Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown, Hilton Hawaiian Village Executive Double Rm 3029 in the Tapa Tower, Honolulu, Hawaii

Hilton Hawaiian Village Executive Double Room 3029 in the Tapa Tower, Honolulu, Hawaii

Family-friendly Hilton Hawaiian Village

While I didn’t check out the children’s Penguin Program at the Hilton or the full service spa, teenagers will find plenty of activities to keep themselves occupied. Everyone from children to adults is given a wrist band to use at the water park area. If you have a chance to dine at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Tropics Bar and Grill, I recommend the fish and chips. Our teenagers will vouch for both pizzas on the menu and give the frozen tropical drinks a huge thumbs up.

The Five S’s – Sand, Snorkeling, Surfing, Sunning and Swimming

My teens tanned, or should I say fried themselves to a coral pink color that matched nicely with the pink flamingos that live at the front entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  They also swam and snorkeled at Kahanamoku Beach and enjoyed the freedom they had of walking the 22 acre beach front resort. They were signed up for surfing lessons the next morning, but were too sun burned and had to cancel. Repeat after me – sunblock!

By the way, Kahanamoku Beach, situated at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, was just named to Dr. Beach’s Memorial Day list of top beaches.

Tips: There is no charge at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and Spa for children 17 and under in room with parents. Friday night watch the Fireworks from your room.

More Details:

Check in: 2 p.m.

Check out: 11 a.m.

Parking: $30 valet, $24 self parking with unlimited in and out privileges

Internet: $16.74 per 24 hours

Bathroom Amenities: Crabtree and Evelyn

IF YOU GO: Hilton Hawaiian Village (808) 949-4321

2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815

Related Posts: Things to See and Do in Honolulu, Hawaii

Tropics Bar and Grill Restaurant

Horseback Riding in Kualoa Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii

Article written by and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip  I was a guest of  Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Halekulani on Oahu Offering Spa Package for Mother’s Day

Friday, April 16th, 2010

If your Mother’s Day plans involve a trip to Hawaii in May, then you may be interested in a special spa package being offered by the Halekulani resort.

Halekulani on Oahu

From May 7-24, 2010, the luxury resort is offering the “Spa & Tea for Two” day package at their on property SpaHalekulani. This special package is priced at $400 and includes:

  • Deluxe Manicure and Pedicure by SpaHalekulani with Specialty Beverage and Spa Gift
  • SpaHalekulani Afternoon Tea in the Veranda (resort attire requested)
  • Complimentary Ocean View Day Room with use of Hotel Amenities
  • Complimentary Valet Service

To book this package, or for more information, call (808) 931-5322 or (808) 931-5323 or book online. If you wish to stay over at the resort, nightly rates start at $460.

Halekulani resort offers 453 rooms on five oceanfront acres on the beach at Waikiki on Oahu in Hawaii.
Rooms range in size from 519 to 720 square feet with the majority offering ocean views. Standard room amenities include personal terraces, flat panel LCD HD-TVs, and Kohler deep-soaking tubs, as well as complimentary wifi, chocolates and water (with those three you might never leave the room), The resort also has a suite decorated by designer Vera Wang, if you want to go all out on your stay.

But even if you just book the “Spa & Tea for Two” day package, I’m sure it’ll be a great splurge that your mom won’t soon forget.

[Photo courtesy of  Halekulani]

Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

This is a guest post.

If you want a vacation that’s filled with fun, excitement and adventure, try out things you’ve never tried before. There’s no point trotting down beaten tracks and going through the motions like other tourists do. If you’re a foodie, taste the local cuisine, even if the food that arrives on the plate scares you. If you’ve never stayed in hotels other than 5-star or similar, check into a backpacker hotel and see how it goes. There are so many things you can do to add spice to your vacation. Only, you’ve got to have the guts to make your holiday exciting and worth the dough you spend. Actually, your holidays can get to be more fun, even if you simply ape the locals and do all the stuff they do.

Talking about excitement, if you haven’t tried riding a scooter on a holiday, then you’ve not made the fun tourist grade, yet. Scooters are zippy and loads of fun. Don’t let their diminutive sizes (some look like big mice) fool you. Some of these dainty machines pack quite a punch. Though not of the Harley type, riding a scooter can be quite a thrill and pleasure if you know where and when to ride one. So we thought we’ll just give you a ride on our pillion and listed 5 places where we think you can have the best scooter rides on your vacation.

bermuda Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

1. Bermuda

Bermuda offers you no rental cars, so you’re left with three choices apart from walking, crawling, or swimming. Ferries, buses, taxies and scooters. Forget the first three because we don’t want the regular stuff, remember? The first thing you’d notice if you’re an American tourist is that the Bermudans drive funny on the road. If you don’t want to be splattered on the sidewalk, you’d better drive on the left side, too…just as the locals do. Bermuda isn’t a big place, and there are only 3 main roads here. If you drive your scooter around the North Shore, South Shore, and Middle roads, you’ll pretty much see everything this place has to offer. But riding a scooter on the small winding roads of Bermuda is in itself an experience. The warm breeze from the Caribbean Sea on your face will please you no end as you make your way down the main roads or the winding alleys. Scooter rentals are in plenty and much cheaper than taxis. The best thing is…most rentals will deliver your scooter to your hotel, give lessons on driving if needed, and pick up the scooter from the same place. The South Shore Road is the one you should take if you want to enjoy the most panoramic scenes of Bermuda on a single stretch. So the next time you’re in Bermuda, have a scooter ride ready and waiting for you at the airport.

key west

2. Key West, Florida

If you don’t want to drive on the left side in Bermuda, try driving a scooter in some place closer to home. And if you thought that scooters aren’t ideal choices for zooming around in American cities, check out Key West, Florida. This is one place in America where going around in a scooter is considered hip and happening. If you’re already in Key West and if the balmy weather, tropical landscape, active nightlife, and thriving beaches don’t excite you enough, take a scooter for hire and zip around the city. A scooter ride in Key West is just what the doc ordered to get the adrenaline pumping again. And we’re not talking about excitement of the dangerous variety—most scooter drivers are as sensible as motorists in other cities (which is not saying much about road safety)—but the fact remains streets in Key West are as safe or unsafe as any other American city streets, and driving a scooter doesn’t add to the dangers one bit. In fact, you’ll see a lot of people going around in scooters, and you’ll find many scooter rentals in the city stuffed with a range of these little, motorized gizmos. One huge plus for people that hire scooters is the parking spaces they’ll find, and this is akin to getting VIP passes to the Super Bowl because Key West can get pretty jammed with tourists during the busy seasons, and finding parking spaces for your cars is next to impossible. So if Key West is your destination for your next vacation, scooters won’t be just fun rides—they’re absolute necessities!

hawaii Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

3. Hawaii

Another place you might want to try if you’re looking to be the scooter explorer this vacation…is Hawaii. Take a flight or a cruise to the Aloha state and hop on to the first scooter you find on arrival. Scooters in Hawaii aren’t about parking hassles, it’s more than that. It’s culture, its fun, it’s Hawaii! C’mon, three piece suits and luxury cars are so not happening in Hawaii. It is bare bodies (well, almost, don’t get your hopes up), flippers, and scooters all the way. Don’t be a fashion outcaste in Hawaii and hire a scooter the moment you land in the land of succulent pineapples. The back roads and streets of Hawaii are perfect for scooter rides, and seeing the sights and doing the dos are so much better on the back of a scooter than in a claustrophobic car. Quaint hamlets and roadside coffee shops are more accessible if you’re on a scooter. Diamond Head or Pearl Harbor, Waikiki or Honolulu, doing a slow 30 miles an hour gives you a better chance to imbibe the spirit of Hawaii and strike up a friendship with local folks. So, the next time you’re in Hawaii, remember the 3 golden rules. Hire a scooter, put a smile on your face, and say Aloha to everyone as you whiz past them on your scooter!

rome Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

Piazza dei Spagna © Vladimir Fofanov

4. Rome, Italy

Some guy once said, “When you are in Rome, do as the Romans do.” The problem is…nobody actually listens to this guy, anymore. When tourists arrive in Rome, they forget the golden saying and just go through the grind until it’s time for the flight back home. BUT; the smart tourist always does what the Romans do. The cool ones always hire a scooter and this is exactly what the Romans do. Italians are simply scooter crazy, and you can’t blame these good people because Italy is the land of the Vespas (scooters from Piaggio), and off course—the pizza and the leaning tower of Pisa—among many other things. When you go around Rome, you can see the first one in all colors, shapes and sizes. Even the prized Pizza is transported and delivered across the city in scooters. Though Rome is an ultra modern city now, the city still retains the cobbled streets, narrow alleys, and buildings of historic times. Most streets in the old quarters are one way, and getting around the city in a car might get you stuck in a jam. You can only have a complete ‘Roman Holiday’ if you can access all the alleys and the nooks and corners of Rome. Churches, museums, and monuments are what the regular tourists do; for tourists that are looking for the unusual and extraordinary, explore the unseen and unheard of Rome, on a scooter.

barcelona Top 5 Places to Ride a Scooter

5. Barcelona, Spain

Many people feel that if you see one city in Europe, you’ve seen all the cities of the continent. Can’t blame them since most cities across Europe have similar architecture and culture, and even the countryside looks the same. There’s a visible difference between the colder north and the warm Mediterranean south in terms of the landscape, but the architecture and general culture remain the same. London, Paris, Rome, Brussels, Geneva, Oslo or Madrid, most places have the same feel in the air and more or less share the same essence. But Barcelona—Barcelona is different; Barcelona is magical; Barcelona is unique.  That’s not to say other European cities are boring, but Barcelona is Barcelona. The capital of the Catalan province or Catalunya as the Spanish call this region, Barcelona strikes you as distinct the moment you arrive in the city. And what makes Barcelona more special apart from the squares which the Spanish refer to as Piazzas, the long cobbled roads with souvenir shops on the sides, and street shows on 24/7 are the nifty scooters you’ll find in plenty. Barcelonans simply adore their scooters, and the tourists that come down here have borrowed the passion of the local folks for these gizmos. That’s why you’d see more tourists on scooters than even the local people, nowadays. Scooters also offer practical solutions for traffic congestions and budget worries in Barcelona. The whole city is full of squares and thoroughfares, and the Spanish people prefer to take it easy; so never be in a hurry when you tour Barcelona and go easy on the engine of your scooter. The Spaniards believe there’s always a time for everything and there’s no point hurrying to get there. Perhaps, it’s time for you to park your scooter on the sidewalk and take a siesta just like the locals. Don’t worry about the sights of Barcelona running away from you; there’s always plenty of time, and Barcelona always takes good care of its guests who go around on scooters!

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