Month: January 2021

Hotel Review: Four Seasons Orlando

Hotel Review

Four Seasons Orlando

The best resort in Orlando
MARIA DIEGO

The Four Seasons Orlando is the best resort in Orlando and a destination in and of itself. When you stay in this luxury Orlando hotel, you may never want to leave to the Disney parks like Magic Kingdom. You’ll find the magic right there in the resort, whether you’re traveling for a family vacation or an adults-only getaway.

The Four Seasons in Orlando offers the best luxury hotel stay with incredible amenities that make you feel like you’re truly visiting the Happiest Place on Earth! As a Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Diego Travel clients will enjoy additional amenities to their stay like added resort credit and complimentary breakfast.

Perfect For: Family fun adventures | Multi-generational family trips | Weekend getaways | Even couples trips

Four Seasons Orlando

Location: In the heart of Orlando, Four Seasons Orlando is a 26-acre lakeside paradise located within a gated residential community and conveniently located close to Walt Disney World and the rest of the parks.

28.3974,-81.5426

Location: In the heart of Orlando, Four Seasons Orlando is a 26-acre lakeside paradise located within a gated residential community and conveniently located close to Walt Disney World and the rest of the parks.

Little Palm Island 4

Vibe: Four Seasons Orlando is a happy, welcoming luxury hotel with elegant finishings.  Whether you’re traveling as a couple, or with your family, there is a space within this large resort that will make you feel at ease.  Their adults-only pool, spa area and large gym, paired with their fine dining options are a great option if you’re traveling sans kids.  But the resort itself, particularly the 5-acre on-site waterpark, is a family-friendly paradise.

Accommodations: 359 rooms and 68 suites ranging from the Golden Oak View Suite to the Royal Suite

Food & Beverage: Four Seasons Orlando Resort has 4 restaurants and 3 lounges.  Capa is the 17th-floor rooftop steakhouse and bar.  PB&G is the lakefront and poolside bar and grill.  Plancha is at the golf clubhouse and the perfect Cuban American eatery.  Finally, Ravello is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and site of the Disney character breakfast that you’ll want to take advantage of if you’re traveling with the kiddos.

Wellness: The spa has 18 treatment rooms to get a massage after a long day of walking at the parks.  My favorite part of the spa?  The fact that they offer the Bippity Boppity Boo boutique experience for your young daughters if they’re in need of the complete princess treatment, but you don’t want to wait in the lines at Magic Kingdom for it.


Activities: An on-site 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed course will keep Dad happy while the kids are running around the 5-acre water park and Mom gets to rest poolside.  In addition to the 18-holes, you’ll have a 16-acre $2.5 million practice facility featuring undulating target greens, an 18-hole putting course, and more.  As mentioned, the on-site gym is huge and offers state-of-the-art fitness equipment. Best of all, the complimentary Kids Camp is available daily from 10 AM to 6 PM, keeping the kids entertained with a variety of indoor and outdoor activities and games.  You literally don’t need to leave this resort to go to the parks if you don’t want to!

What Sets It Apart:  The facilities!  This property is, by far, the best resort option in Orlando.  Oftentimes, clients will ask me why such a big price difference compared to the other hotels in Orlando.  Once you stay here, and utilize all that it has to offer, you’ll realize that the price difference is worth it and the value is there.

 


Diego Travel Loves: The Four Seasons Lead With Care safety protocols were the best I have seen for a hotel.  Upon arrival, our children were given their own Four Seasons backpack filled with treasures and a scavenger hunt map, that kept them entertained throughout their stay.  As a Preferred Partner of Four Seasons, the VIP welcome amenity our clients receive is over-the-top impressive!  And of course, the non-stop entertainment for the kids keeps them happy and never asking once to visit a theme park throughout our stay!

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel: 

  • Exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner Rates (excluding character breakfast)

  • Daily full American breakfast for 2

  • $100 spa credit

  • Upgrade of one category at time of check-in, subject to availability

  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

  • VIP welcome amenity

  • Diego Travel welcome box for first-time clients

 

 

Insider Tip: The Four Seasons Orlando concierge can assist with park tickets, fast passes and more. You can utilize these services free of charge to have your trip run smoothly and make sure you don’t miss out on anything you might need.  

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Summary of Our Stay

I planned a 2-night getaway to Four Seasons Orlando during a difficult time in our lives. After many months at home during the pandemic, my father-in-law was hospitalized with Covid for many weeks. While we were nervous about leaving Miami, there was not much we could do anyway, so we purchased travel insurance and hit the road for the Happiest Place on Earth (Ask me about insuring your trip! I recommend it every time). We needed some laughter and a place that would get our minds off the current situation, and our weekend escape did just that.

While we had taken many family vacations to Orlando prior to this trip, we never wanted to splurge on the Four Seasons Orlando because the price tag is usually much higher than the other Orlando resorts. However, I can assure you that after our stay, the hefty price tag is justified, particularly if you don’t plan to visit parks all day, every day. The resort itself is so enjoyable, from its many restaurants to in-house entertainment like kids club and activities program, the water park with water slides and lazy river, and the golfing, that there’s really no need to leave the resort to have fun.

Upon arrival, the lobby is equipped with body thermal scanners with signs reminding guests to maintain social distancing. There are also hand sanitizing stations throughout the resort, that just made us feel more assured. Our children were greeted with Four Seasons backpacks with their scavenger hunt maps inside, that would keep them busy throughout their stay. Upon arriving to our room, we were welcomed by three gigantic bags of candy for the kids, a Preferred Partner welcome amenity that is customized for each my clients.

Long day at Disney

One thing I love most about my job and working with our industry partners is being able to customize the welcome amenity for my clients, and I love Four Seasons properties because they’re always willing to make each arrival extra special. For our kids, there’s nothing better than their own bag of candy (no sharing!) and a child-size plush Four Seasons bathrobe. They changed into their swimsuits and bathrobes faster than we could say, “Mickey Mouse,” and we were down at the water park in a flash.

Because of Covid, the hotel was kept at a maximum occupancy of 50% occupancy, so it felt almost empty and the kids must have gone down the slides a dozen times before we ordered a poolside dinner. The sunset over the water park was a beautiful mixture of fiery oranges and sorbet pinks, the perfect setting where I could finally relax while my kids were happily entertained.

From the next morning’s Disney character breakfast, to enjoying the water park all day, to our youngest getting the princess royal treatment at the Four Seasons salon, it was overall just a really amazing weekend. We enjoyed a more formal dinner at Capa, overlooking the entire property and skyline, which was the icing on the cake of the sweetest family vacation that we so desperately needed. If you’re like me and don’t think that the words “Orlando” and “relaxing” can go together in the same sentence, then you should try staying at the Four Seasons Orlando on your next visit. It truly is a destination on its own and well worth the investment, especially when you book with us! Who doesn’t love getting the Preferred Partner VIP treatment throughout their stay at any of the Four Seasons?!

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Four Seasons Orlando

Staying in Georgia’s Sea Island Vacation Rentals and Cottages

Vacation Rental Review

Staying in Georgia’s Sea Island Vacation Rentals and Cottages

Where to Stay on Sea Island
MARIA DIEGO

If you’re planning a trip to Sea Island, Georgia, and you’re looking for a more relaxed vibe, you like to avoid staying in large hotel resorts, or you’re travelling as part of a bigger group, then staying at one of the Sea Island cottage rentals could be perfect for you.

Perfect For: Families | Traditional Family Gatherings 

31.1997,-81.3333

Sea Island, Georgia

Sea Island, on the coast of Georgia: Less than 1.5 hours by car from Jacksonville (JAX) or Savannah (SAV) International Airports, 20 minutes from Brunswick (BQK) regional airport or only 10 minutes from St Simons Airport (SSI) if flying private.

Sea Island, on the coast of Georgia: Less than 1.5 hours by car from Jacksonville (JAX) or Savannah (SAV) International Airports, 20 minutes from Brunswick (BQK) regional airport or only 10 minutes from St Simons Airport (SSI) if flying private.

Sea Island Cottages: Sea Island vacation rentals and cottages are a great alternative to the main Cloisters building or the Sea Island Beach Club because they offer much more space and give the feel of exclusivity being located a short distance away from the main Sea Island resort buildings. This is perfect for large or multi-generational families on vacation together and also a great option if you’d like to bring your pets along too (select cottages are pet-friendly)!

Location:  A Sea Island cottage rental also allows you to decide how far you would like to be from the main resort. Sea Island cloister cottages are right by the main building, oceanfront rentals are just a short walk from the resort or vacation houses which are a bike or golf buggy ride away. You can be as near or as far as you like from all the action!


Amenities: The self-catering facilities at Sea Island cottages give you complete flexibility for your trip, with their fully equipped kitchen and amenities in each property. The Sea Island house rentals or condos come in sizes, styles, locations and budgets to suit any vacation, and we are happy to advise you on which one is right for you and your trip.

Quality and Cleanliness Standards: A great feature of the cottages Sea Island has to offer is that they are all owned and rented through Sea Island resort itself. This means no scrolling VRBO listings or worrying about the hygiene standards of an Airbnb. Instead, all the Sea Island rentals are prepared to the same high quality standards, safety regulations and hygiene regulations as the main Sea Island Resort and Beach Club. This also means the standard of service you can expect is the same as staying at a hotel and significantly higher than you would receive at a vacation rental listing property.


Additional Value when You Book Sea Island with Diego Travel

Another bonus when you book a Sea Island cottage rental through Diego Travel is the $100 per day resort credit that you’ll receive. If you do the math, that comes to $700 for a week-long stay or $1400 for two weeks! This offer is exclusively for booking Sea Island, Georgia rentals and cottages with Diego Travel and comes at no added cost to you. Plus, you will get the knowledge of a professional to help you book the best Sea Island cottage for you and your family.  Should you want additional travel planning help with scheduling activities or dining reservations, we also offer that service for an additional fee.  

With the extra resort credit to look forward to, why not treat yourself to a few extras? Sea Island cottages all offer daily housekeeping at an additional cost. You can even request that the kitchen and fridge be fully stocked in preparation for your arrival so you can get that high quality service, without having to stay in the main hotel.

Let’s Get Planning Your Vacation to Sea Island

Whether you’re planning a long weekend or a two-week vacation at Sea Island, Georgia, house rentals are a great option for that home-away-from-home feeling but with all the perks of staying at a resort. Reach out today to see how Diego Travel can help you plan the perfect island getaway for you.

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Austin, Texas: The Best Hotels and Resorts

Austin, Texas

The Best Hotels and Resorts

MARIA DIEGO

As a home-schooling against my will mom of three, while simultaneously working-from-home travel agent slash advisor, I had been dreaming of a solo vacation by myself since we were all ordered to stay at home in March.  I needed to enjoy the glorious sound of silence and treat myself to a spa and wellness retreat since my kids had seemingly not stopped bickering for months.  I had never been on vacation alone before, but with so many state closures, required testing, and limited flights, I was looking for something accessible and safe.  I landed on Austin, Texas.  There were several excellent hotel and resort choices, so I chose three and went off on my own to explore the best of what Austin, Texas had to offer.  So long, kiddos!  Sorry, husband.

Perfect For: Music Lovers | Foodies | Couples Weekend Getaway | Bachelor/Bachelorette party | Wellness Retreat | Spa

 

About Austin Texas

When most people think of the things to do in Austin, Texas, they might think of its official slogan The Live Music Capital of the World.  With festivals like SXSW music festival (pronounced South by Southwest for those of you who live under a rock) and Austin City Limits, there’s never a shortage of live music and unique venues to be found year-round.  And speaking of year-round, Austin boasts amazing weather for most of the year, which allows you to enjoy everything it has to offer, no matter the time of year.

The other unofficial slogan of Keep Austin Weird refers to its residents’ strong support of small local businesses and desire to keep out massive corporations.  This is apparent as soon as you step off the airplane in AUS, where there’s no Starbucks or Burger King in sight within the terminal, but rather small local restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops.  Aside from the music scene and small shop scene, Austin is known for its foodie and restaurant scene.  You’ll find tons of amazing restaurants, so in combination with the music scene, makes for the perfect pairing for a couple’s weekend getaway or friends and family reunion.

The lesser known of top things to do in Austin is the health, wellness and spa scene.  Lake Austin is home to two of the country’s best wellness resorts, Lake Austin Spa Resort and Miraval Austin Wellness Resort & Spa.  These two resorts are destinations in and of themselves, and I can’t wait to share more about my stays there.

Getting to Austin, Texas

While not quite like DFW International, Austin has plenty of non-stop flights and is easily accessible from all over the country.  My non-stop flight from Miami was only $90 and left in the morning and returned at night, which is ideal for a weekend trip anywhere.  Driving to Austin from Dallas takes 3 hours, and a 2.5 hour drive from Houston, so setting up a multi-city tour through Texas is also a great trip option if you have the time.  I love planning trips for clients who want to discover the best things to do in Texas, combining city options with ranches that lie just beyond city limits.

  • 30.4371,-97.8729

    Miraval Austin Resort & Spa

  • 30.3001,-97.7223

    Commodore Perry Estate

  • 30.3271,-97.9255

    Lake Austin Resort & Spa

The Best Hotels in Austin Texas

While I didn’t have a chance to see some other fantastic hotels like Four Seasons Resort or Austin Proper Hotel, I’m going to cover three of the best hotels in Austin.  When live music returns, I’ll be sure to be back with my husband and visit the other hotels I missed on Round #1.

Lake Austin Spa Resort

Perhaps the resort that most exceeded my expectations was Lake Austin Spa Resort, which just underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation.  I didn’t know much about this adults-only, dog-friendly, all-inclusive hotel, as most of my clients are coastal and didn’t travel domestically quite like they are now after the pandemic.  What struck me most about this 40-room boutique resort on the edge of Lake Austin that sits opposite a protected bird sanctuary, is its European feel.  It is truly the best kept secret in Texas, and its high-profile clients like the Bush family, Matthew McConaughey, and Drew Barrymore probably prefer to keep it that way.

On the lake, they offer wakeboarding, water skiing, wake surfing, hydro-bikes, and stand-up paddle boards.  They also have an included daily afternoon cruise and a sunset wine cruise for an additional cost.  Magnolia Beach is the perfect setting to enjoy the soft breeze under an embracing Magnolia tree with a good book and southern sweet tea or glass of Rosé in hand.  In addition to the water sports, they have a daily roster of about 25 classes throughout the property, from hiking part of its 22 miles of hiking trails, to fossil hunting, to gardening and culinary events that feature guest speakers coverings topics such as the journey through death, cancer, or divorce to birding and culinary classes.

The rooms range from the entry-level signature rooms that don’t have a view to the lake to the lakeview rooms.  Perhaps my favorite was the Lady Bird Johnson suite, where its namesake stayed many times during her travels to this intimate resort.  It offers a private garden patio and is located on the quieter end of the resort that doesn’t have views of the lake, but experiences less foot traffic.  So, if you’re trying to fly under the radar and avoiding the paparazzi, I recommend this suite most of all. 

The 25,000-square-foot spa has 20 private treatment rooms with over 100 treatment choices including myofascial and craniosacral treatments.  The Bamboo Suite spa package includes a 3-hour private experience in a private outdoor patio with 2 hours of treatments and 1 hour of alone time to enjoy the space.  As an ex-competitive swimmer myself, I really loved the indoor 2-lane 25-yard pool.  There are also two different outdoor pools – one lakefront pool perfect for enjoying the views and sunlight and one spa pool, which offers more shade and an organic shape.

In addition to being the ideal getaway for a wellness and spa retreat, this Austin resort is ideal for larger corporate incentive or family events.  The resort is equipped with plenty of spaces that allow for outdoor events, team building activities, conference rooms, and more.  Even the dock can be converted into a covered outdoor dining space under the stars.  Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway for just you and your partner, or needing a venue for your next corporate event, I can handle all of the details to make your stay personalized for you.  It’s important to note that Lake Austin Spa Resort has a 3-night minimum stay for most of the year.

Book Lake Austin Spa Resort with Diego Travel to receive the following:

  • Priority upgrade upon arrival if available
  • $100 resort credit
  • VIP welcome amenity
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Diego Travel welcome box for first-time clients

We recommend Lake Austin Spa Resort for:

  • Honeymoon
  • Anniversary Trips
  • Couples Getaway
  • Bachelorette Parties
  • Girls Weekend Getaway
  • Mother/Daughter Trips
  • Solo Female Traveler
  • Corporate Incentive Trips
  • Small Weddings

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Miraval Austin Wellness Resort & Spa

I was really looking forward to my stay at Miraval Austin Wellness Resort & Spa because I felt like I was on the brink of insanity, a sentiment shared by every single mom who survived the challenges of educating kids at home while they can’t play with their friends.  I expected a soulful experience (after all, my company slogan is Curating travel that speaks to your soul), but the delivery fell short.I wavered on how I wanted to present this resort, as their sales team was amazing to work with and I think that for the right person, this resort would be a perfect fit.  It just wasn’t what I was expecting, and here’s why I didn’t like it:

The location: Perched up on a hillside, overlooking Lake Austin, I was expecting expansive views of the lake.  Instead, you can catch a glimpse of the lake from only limited spots on property.  There is a somewhat busy road running between the property and lake as well, which disrupts the feeling of being one with nature, as the sound of whirring vehicles interrupts the ohm of your yoga class.

The classes: While this resort is all-inclusive, many of the classes offered are an additional cost.  I sought out classes geared toward mental health as opposed to physical health, because I had just lost a family member and as I mentioned, I was going through some stuff after being stuck inside with kids for months on-end.  While I thought these classes would be more interactive and therapeutic, my experience was that there was a lead instructor that gave a lecture for an hour where the guests listened and took notes.  Hardly soulful and hardly effective, in my opinion.  Having said that, there was a myriad of physical fitness classes, and I witnessed many small groups of friends enjoying these together.  So, if you want to sign up for every fitness class under the sun and are the type that likes boot camps or a rigorous exercise itinerary, then Miraval Austin would be a great fit for you.

The food: After a flight delay, I arrived later than expected with ravenous hunger.  The main restaurant was closed, so my only option was the grab-and-go pre-packaged options at the smoothie bar next door.  I grabbed a salad, an avocado chocolate gluten free cookie, and a drink and sat down outdoors, overlooking that little sliver of Lake Austin.  The salad was mediocre at best, but I was hungry so I wolfed it down anyway.  That evening my meal was undercooked and did not contain the ingredients that were listed on the menu.  I mentioned it to my waiter and was told that menu items can vary slightly.  However, that was my experience at every meal.  The menu contained mouth-watering descriptions of Michelin-level options, but the delivery was plain and simple food that lacked flavor or variety.  Sorry, Miraval.  I was hungry for a good meal after I left, and I do not consider myself a picky eater.

The vibe: Miraval was recently bought by Hyatt Hotel group, so I did feel that there was a somewhat corporate vibe throughout the hotel.  The rooms felt like any other Hyatt and the service was more standardized and less personable, if you will.  This would be an excellent hotel for corporate retreats, looking for team-building and a property that can accommodate a large group.  As I mentioned, I also think that this is a great property for larger groups of friends who want the most amount of class options available.  As a side note, I have heard from many fellow agents who have been to both Miraval Arizona and Miraval Austin, and it is generally said that the Austin location pales in comparison.  Diego Travel, which is a proud independent affiliate of McCabe World Travel, is also a Hyatt Privé member, which translates to exclusive offers and rates for our clients at both Miraval properties.

Book Miraval Austin Wellness Resort & Spa with Diego Travel to receive the following:

  • Priority upgrade upon arrival if available
  • $100 resort credit
  • Hyatt Privé welcome amenity
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Diego Travel welcome box for first-time clients

We recommend Miraval Austin for:

  • Corporate Groups
  • Large Groups of Girlfriends
  • Bachelorette Parties
  • Fitness Junkies
  • Incentive Groups

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Commodore Perry Estate, an Auberge Resort

The hotel I was most excited about seeing is the newest addition to the Auberge Resort portfolio, the Commodore Perry Estate.  If you’ve ever stayed at an Auberge hotel, you’ll understand its level of excellence.  I’m also a sucker for quirky and eccentric boutique resorts, so when I had seen photos of Ken Fulk’s past work featured in Architectural Digest, I was looking forward to see what this interior design visionary came up with for his latest project to restore this historical mansion and treasured landmark that sits on a 10-acre parcel in the center of Austin.

Pulling into the gravel driveway to the welcoming smile of an eager attendant was the first indication that you’ve just left one world to enter another.  Stepping into the reception area, with a wall mural painted by a local Austinite, feels like a mix between a Tuscan villa and an eclectic lounge in hues of deep blue and burnt orange that invite you to sit down by the fire and get lost in a good book.  Your eye can’t help but wander from floor to ceiling, stopping at every detail that Fulk masterfully pairs together in ways one would never think of doing.   As I walked down a long corridor to my room, which is opened by a large brass key, the sales manager led me into the room where I was met with a fully-stocked bar cart and large plate of artisan cheeses and ice-cold grapes drizzled in honey.  “It’s on the honor system,” she casually told me.  “The liquor will be charged on consumption.”  In other words, fix yourself a cocktail and make yourself at home.

The original building of the Estate, where Commodore Perry lived with his family, is five suites in total and done in a different style than the rest of the hotel, which are all new surrounding buildings.  The five suites that make up the Mansion are whimsically appointed and charmingly distinct, named for each of the Perry family members.  The LaVerne Suite is perhaps the most popular, combining the total envelopment of pink floral over the walls, ceiling and curtains with a pink stripe and pink vintage bathroom tiles.  Some might call it tacky.  Most would call it delightful – and it’s Fulk’s whimsy at his finest.   

So how did I spend my alone time at this European-style retreat?  Finishing a book poolside as I sipped on a mocktail, eating a delectable room service dinner in a plush bathrobe and sprawled across fluffy pillows, and people watching at the mansion while I relished in the notable absence of three very needy children.  What I missed: conversation with friends over the punch bowl at the Mansion’s living room bar, a mystical palm reading in the property chapel, live music on weekend evenings, a yoga session or picnic on the grassy green lawn, or lunch at the larger restaurant, Lutie’s, which was not yet open due to the pandemic.  Will I be going back?  Yes.  And if you know me, you know that I will only return to properties I really love.  And I really, really loved the Commodore Perry Estate.

Book the Commodore Perry Estate, an Auberge Resort with Diego Travel to receive the following:

  • Priority upgrade upon arrival if available
  • Daily breakfast credit for two guests per bedroom ($70 per day, per room)
  • $100 food and beverage credit
  • VIP welcome amenity
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Diego Travel welcome box for first-time clients

We recommend the Commodore Perry Estate for:

  • Honeymooners
  • Anniversary Trips
  • Couples Getaway
  • Bachelorette Parties
  • Girls Weekend Getaway
  • Interior Design Junkies
  • Live Music Aficionados
  • Small Unique Weddings
  • Cocktail Lovers

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Austin in a Nutshell

To summarize, whether you’re planning a 2-night couples getaway or a week-long stay to explore and attend Austin City Limits (no pun intended), Austin is a great option for a weekend celebration like bachelor/bachelorette weekend or birthday bash, or couples trip to reconnect for an anniversary.  It’s also an incredible destination for wellness and spa retreats, as we covered at both Lake Austin Spa Resort and Miraval Austin.  I spent three nights total, but felt like I could have spent a lot more, and didn’t even leave the hotels to explore around town.  When you book your vacation with Diego Travel, an independent affiliate of McCabe World Travel, and member of Virtuoso, we provide all the above listed amenities at no extra charge to our clients.  Direct hotel bookings are always complimentary, and when trip planning or concierge service is involved, there is a minimal custom trip planning fee.  Next time you’re planning to travel to Austin, feel free to reach out to see how we can enhance your travel experience.

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