Rwanda

Rwanda

Rwanda

A Destination Guide for Your African Safari Vacation
MARIA DIEGO

Rwanda, a country no larger than the size of Maryland, is often referred to as the land of a thousand hills and is located in East Africa. Best known for its gorilla population, Rwanda has a lush terrain of rainforests and farmland, spotted with microclimates of misty haze that hang over the hills like a mystical dream until streams of sunlight break through the grey clouds, exposing a magnificently green landscape that can be viewed from its thousand hilltops. Rwanda shares a border with Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and is the second safest country in all of Africa. Rwanda is a country with a painful past and colorful yet complicated history, and the people of Rwanda are deeply connected to each other, having lived through a trauma that left both visible and invisible wounds that will continue to be felt for generations to come. I’ll go into further detail about the Rwandan genocide when I cover things to do in Rwanda, but the most notable highlight of my experience in Rwanda was the joyful hope and resilience that exuded from every Rwandan’s infectious smile. With Micato Safaris, a leading tour operator in Africa for 30+ years and one of Diego Travel’s top travel partners, we are able to plan an unforgettable trip to Rwanda that will change the way you see the world.

Perfect For: Adventure & Thrill Seekers | Destination Weddings | Luxury Honeymoon | Couples Groups | Multi-Generational Families with Older Children | Anniversary Trips | Those Who Have Already Done Safari | Teens Ages 15+

Getting to Rwanda

Getting to Rwanda

Getting to Rwanda isn’t easy, and my total travel time from Miami exceeded 24 hours, but the trip is well worth it. Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, has several non-stop flights from major European airports.

Once in Kigali, I recommend a minimum one night in Kigali in order to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and acclimate to the time change. Unless your time is seriously limited, then you could take a private helicopter from Kigali airport onto One and Only Nyungwe House. One & Only Resorts, a Diego Travel preferred partner, has the perfect pairing of resorts in Rwanda that I cannot recommend enough. You can find out more about my stays under Where To Stay in Rwanda. When you utilize Diego Travel’s trip planning service, we handle all of the logistics of travel to the Rwanda, taking into consideration the number of nights you have, your budget, and facts you may not even be aware of that might add a roadblock to your trip unless you utilize someone in-the-know.

Rwanda

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Kigali

Rwanda Chimpanzee

The Rwanda Luxury Travel Guide

What to do in Rwanda

Rwanda has four national parks including Volcanoes National Park, best known for its population of gorilla families, Gishwati-Mukura National Park, Nyungwe National Park, which crosses over into Uganda and is home to 4 different species of primates including chimpanzees, and Akagera National Park. The national parks of Rwanda make up nearly 9% of its land, and each national park in Rwanda has a slightly different biodiversity. Volcanoes National Park encompasses five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Mountains and is home to a growing gorilla population, all thanks to the work of Dian Fossey and continued conservation work of her foundation. If you’re after more than just gorilla and primate trekking, you can find the Big Five in Akagera National Park, making Rwanda a destination in and of itself. Many people make the mistake of tacking Rwanda onto the end of a larger safari trip as a sort of addendum to quickly see the gorillas, but it’s much more deserving of a minimum 8 nights to properly experience the country.
  • The Ellen Degeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

    Dian Fossey was a leading researcher of gorillas and conservationist who spent two decades studying and protecting the gorillas, until her death in 1985.  Her research and activism against the poaching of gorillas was what led to their continued growth, and to this day, Rwanda has the strictest rules in place to protect the gorilla population.  The Ellen Degeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is made up of three buildings – an interactive museum for the general public where you can learn about gorillas, their behaviors and habitat, and also learn about the life of Dian Fossey.  

    The second building is home to a cafeteria for the many schools of children who come through to learn about gorillas, as well as classrooms and lecture halls where future generations can participate in the continued conservation of the species.

  • ELLEN DEGENERES CAMPUS OF THE DIAN FOSSEY GORILLA FUND INTERIOR

  • ELLEN DEGENERES CAMPUS OF THE DIAN FOSSEY GORILLA FUND

  • The final building on campus houses labs and office space for primatologists and university research students, who study things such as gorilla stressors which they are able to do by measuring cortisol levels in fecal samples, knowing exactly what the gorillas were doing at the moment the fecal sample was collected.  When I asked if exposure to tourists affects the gorillas stress level, Veronica, the modern day Dian Fossey and director of the campus who has spent the last 30 years of her life with the gorillas, smiled and replied, Happily not.  They are unaffected by tourism because we maintain tight control of their exposure.“

    As a Diego Travel client, you can get an insiders tour of the areas that arent open to the public, as well as access to the rooftop viewing deck, where you can sip cocktails and munch on canapés with gorgeous volcano vistas in the background.  The campus also has meeting space, so if your company is thinking of a destination for a small work retreat, Rwanda is ideal and Diego Travel can help you plan it.

  • Gorilla Trekking

    Following the tour of the campus, the main highlight and life-changing experience of your trip to Rwanda will be the gorilla trekking.  There are currently 12 gorilla families that you can observe, all named after the leading silverback gorilla of the group.  Permits to see the gorillas cost $1500 USD per person, with a minimum age of 15 years old.  There is a daily maximum of 90 tourists allowed to enter the national park, broken up into groups of 6 people or less, and accompanied by 1-2 guides.  Once the gorillas are spotted, the group has exactly 60 minutes to observe them.  This guarantees that each gorilla family is exposed to humans for no more than 1 hour on any given day.  

    Gorilla trackers who sleep in the national park forest communicate with the guides via walkie-talkie, providing an estimated location of each gorilla family.  Given the gorillaslocation at time of the tourist groups departure, they can predict whether a trek will be easy, medium or hard, allowing you to choose your difficulty level.  However, because gorillas can quickly change course, it is oftentimes unpredictable, as was the case on one of my treks.  

  • Gorilla Trecking in Rwanda

  • Gorilla Baby

  • Porters will also accompany each group, providing someone to carry your backpack and help you climb what can be a very steep incline.  The guides will lead the group with machetes, creating a hiking path as you cut through what can be thick bush full of stinging nettles.  I highly recommend wearing thicker canvas-type pants, knee-high hiking socks, and ankle hiking boots, and the hotels I recommend for my clients provide gators to protect the lower part of your legs. Even if you feel that you dont need a porter, for just $10, youre providing a salary and supporting the community by utilizing them.  Many of todays porters are also ex-poachers, who have been retrained to earn a living in a sustainable way that supports wildlife instead of harming it.

    Ill discuss my personal experience of the gorilla trekking under the summary of my trip, but going just once wasnt enough for me.  After falling in love with the experience, I returned the following day for a second trek.  Each trek experience was completely different from the other, and Im so grateful that I had the chance to do two gorilla treks.

  • Chimpanzee and Monkey Trekking

    Chimpanzee trekking means a 4 AM wakeup call because catching the chimps just as theyre waking up is key to a good experience.  The chimpanzees were my first foray into seeing the true wildlife in Africa, and to describe the sound of the rainforest at sunrise, with heavy rains falling around us, would be fruitless.  You just have to experience it. 

    As a city girl, I was very poorly equipped to hike in heavy rainfall.  At 4:30 AM, I groggily stumbled into the hotels reception to grab a to-go breakfast and a cup of coffee from the beautifully set up station, only to be given the up and down from a gorgeous South African woman, dressed appropriately in head-to-toe Patagonia gear.  Dont you have any other pants? Those are awfully baggy and will be soaked within minutes,she told me.  I shook my head and self-consciously nibbled on my gluten-free lemon poppyseed muffin as I silently pondered how in the world I got it all wrong.

  • Chimp

  • Rwanda Artisan Community

  • Local Artisan Communities

    Because the majority of the land in Rwanda is farmland, a highlight of your trip will be the farm-to-table dining.  Aside from food, the artisans of Rwanda gather and build co-ops or communities where they sell handwoven baskets, hand-carved gorilla statues, and Imigongo painted traditional artwork, using terracotta, black and earthy color tones with the primary ingredient being cow dung.  We had a chance to create our own, and lets just say Im not going to quit my day job.  I did, however, do enough shopping to fill the handy Tumi Just In Case bag I always pack.

  • KIGALI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL

    The genocide of Rwanda was a mass ethnic killing of an estimated 1 million Tutsi.  The division of ethnicities within Rwanda was not based on facts, but rather an invention of the Belgian colonialists since the 1940s, who divided the Rwandans into three groups based on physical traits.  Their plan to divide the population and ultimately rule over them was a slowly seeping process of infiltrating hatred amongst Rwandans.  In 1994, following a series of events that created a perfect storm, there was a 3-month period in which neighbors and friends turned on each other and brutally murdered the entire population of the Tutsi people, or anyone who was associated with them. 

  • Rwanda Genocide Museum

A visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial is a crucial first stop on your trip to Rwanda.  It creates context for your entire vacation, and will allow you to have a 360 degree understanding of who the Rwandan people are, where they came from, and how far they have come.  

While not easy, I am definitely going to recommend a visit to all of my clients at the start of their trip.  The memorial was set up as a place to honorably bury about 250,000 Rwandans who died during the genocide, but also allows families a place to visit and reflect, and honor those who died during this tragedy.  

A Note About Security in Rwanda

While the 1994 genocide is a stain on Rwandas history, present-day Rwanda is a state of security and unity.  I have never felt so safe while traveling, as hotels require several security checkpoints, and even to enter the airport area requires everyone to get out of the vehicle while it is driven through a security scanner.  All the hotels and national forests were patrolled by armed security, making a stay in Rwanda very safe.

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest

Where to Stay in Rwanda

One of the best destinations in Africa for a truly luxury and exclusive experience is in Rwanda.  While there are many beautiful properties around the world and luxury hotels and accommodations, it is the staff at the One and Only hotels and resorts that will make your stay so special.

One&Only Nyungwe House

One and Only Nyungwe House

One and Only Nyungwe House, pronounced young-way with an non the front, is perfect for honeymooners, anniversary trips, bucket list trips, and even great for families.  The property allows children about 10 years and older, but keep in mind that they will not be able to visit the chimps and gorillas until 15-years-old.  One and Only Nyungwe House is 23 rooms and suites set on a 10 hectare working tea plantation.

When we arrived after a 30-minute commercial flight from Kigali, and about a 45-minute safari jeep ride to the property, we were greeted by drummers and dancers, and just like the song of the chimpanzees in the rainforest, their song brought on a wave of emotion that instantly filled my heart with joy and my eyes with tears.  I cannot describe the experience in any other way, but I know that I never wanted it to end.

Dee, the propertys South African general manager, greeted us with a hand held over her heart, as the rest of the staff lined up with the same gesture and handing us a damp hotel towel and welcome ginger tea.  Dee welcomed us into their homewhere she explained that between our two stays, Nyungwe House is the heart, whereas Gorillas Nest is the arms and legs.”  

As we were led on a tour of the propertys spa, library, pool, and rooms, Dees infectious laugh was sprinkled between stories as she described the Nyungwe experience.  This unique gem of a property certainly felt like a peaceful sanctuary of treehouses nestled into the edge of the forest, where you commonly see Colobus and Mangobee monkeys visiting your terrace.  

Ill discuss some activities we did on property in the summary of our stay, but as a general rule, I would recommend a minimum of 3-nights at Nyungwe House, especially if you plan on doing the chimpanzee tour and really relaxing on the property.  For more time for relaxation after your long journey, youll really need 4 nights for the adventure + relaxation pieces.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following One&Only Preferred Partner Amenities:

  • Exclusive One&Only Offers
  • Daily Full American breakfast for up to two people per bedroom
  • USD $100 food and beverage credit
  • Welcome note and amenity
  • Priority Upgrade if Available
  • Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
  • VIP Status
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends One&Only Nyungwe House For: Honeymooners | Small Destination Weddings | Couples Groups | Multi-Generational Families with Older Children | Anniversary Trips | Adventure Seekers | Incentive Trips

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest

One and Only Gorillas Nest

One and Only Gorillas Nest is my favorite hotel in the world.  There, I said it!  Everyone always asks me that question and before visiting this property, I truly didnt have a favorite.  Well, it depends on what style,Id say.  Or Id ask, For a boutique hotel or a resort?”  For One and Only Gorillas Nest, it doesnt matter who you are or what your taste is, I can pretty much guarantee youre going to love it and never want to leave.  

We landed by helicopter on the propertys helipad after a 40-minute helicopter ride from One and Only Nyungwe House, again greeted by tear-inducing African dancers and drummers with the staff impeccably dressed in suits with their hands held over their hearts.  If there ever was a moment when I felt like a celebrity or the President of the United States, this was it.  Speaking of celebrities, Bill Gates was one of the propertys first guests, which speaks to the calibre and privacy that the resort offers.  

The owner of One and Only Gorillas Nest is from Dubai and literally spared no expense to perfect every detail in a way that I have never seen before.   Craig, the area manager who oversees both Rwandan properties, gave us a tour of the locker rooms at Club One, the main pool, gym, and spa amenities area, and I commented how even the mens locker room used dark wood while the ladieslocker room was white and bright.  He paused and raised an eyebrow, saying, Funny you should mention that.  Theres a story behind it actually.”  He went on to tell us that after the installation of the locker rooms was complete, the owner was visiting and realized that the location of the ladiesroom would require them to walk on a pathway with no overhang (for a total distance of about 15 feet).  He didnt like the idea of the ladies getting wet in the rain, so swapped the mens and womens rooms, which required a complete de-installation of cabinetry from each room.  

The interior decorator, Hurburtus Feit, who lives in Paris and primarily does residential projects, incorporated different patterns and textures throughout the hotel and purposely gave it the residential feel for which he is so well-known, creating a cozy retreat that makes you feel like youll never want to leave.

Initially the idea for the resort was to build 42 rooms, but after considering that the property lends itself to privacy and exclusivity, they decided to build just 21, allowing for a sense of place within each space.  The entry level room cannot even be considered entry level, as all rooms have a sitting area with fireplace, great outdoor deck, and outdoor shower.  Some of my favorite details about the Forest View Lodge, where I stayed, was the view, the best bed sheets Ive ever slept in (I looked at the tag and unfortunately they are made exclusively for Gorillas Nest) and the design details like the gorilla doorstop and hand-carved pen, the gluten-free snacks especially made for me and left at the self-serve bar, fully stocked with the finest china and glassware, and the heated bathroom floors.  They even have a Dyson hairdryer in the bathrooms, and speaking from experience, I know that many of my clients will love that!  

Aside from the Forest Lodge, they also have a Double Queen room, which is essentially a 2-bedroom with shared bathroom and living room.  The second bedroom has a powder room off it as well, which would be perfect for older kids.  The property has 5 Virunga suites, with one being in a cluster of 3 rooms, perfect for a family or group traveling together.  The Virunga Suites are gorgeous, and would be a better option if you need more common space.  Finally, the Silverback Suite is the top suite on property, with a full outdoor pool looking over the best view on property.  It also has a kitchen that can accommodate a kosher diet, or for someone who needs to eat their meals in villa, a private chef can prepare their food there.  

What makes One&Only Gorillas Nest so special though is not the property itself, but rather the people and the experiences that they provide.  Everyone is so kind and genuinely happy for you to be there, that every moment, word and action is made with such heartfelt intention.  The staff addresses you by name, and offers a subtle bow with the signature hand over heart as they smile and ask if you need anything.  When the sun goes down and the chilly evening settles in, they pick you up in a golf cart, a heated water bottle wrapped in beautiful African fabric is placed over your lap as they wrap your shoulders in a soft wool blanket.  Post-trek youll be met at the reception as they seat you on a bench where they remove your boots and dirty socks to replace them with your choice of African slides or white flip-flops.  By that evening, your hiking boots magically appear in your room, looking as clean as the day that you bought them.  

One final note about One and Only Gorillas Nest: we stayed 3 nights but I secretly inquired with Micato Safaris about staying on a 4th night.  There are commercial flights that run to Kigali, but unfortunately there wasnt any running the day that I needed it; 3 nights was not enough, especially considering that I did two gorilla treks, so when we plan your vacation to Rwanda, I highly recommend staying on 4 nights if you plan on doing the second gorilla trek.  

 

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following One&Only Preferred Partner Amenities:

  • Exclusive One&Only Offers
  • Daily Full American breakfast for up to two people per bedroom
  • USD $100 food and beverage credit
  • Welcome note and amenity
  • Priority Upgrade if Available
  • Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
  • VIP Status
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using theTravel Planning Service

The Retreat Kigali

The Retreat Kigali

One of my favorite hidden gems of the trip was The Retreat in Kigali, a boutique hotel built by two American ex-pats, Alisa and Josh Ruxin, who work with local non-profits and started this project to create a hospitality training program for organizations such as Orphans of Rwanda.  They currently employ a staff of 145 for just 20 rooms, that range from an entry-level Deluxe Room to a Luxury Pool Villa, with rates starting around $300 USD per night.  This quaint property is the 5 star version of its sister hotel next door called Heaven.  A restaurant with excellent food and some more 3.5-4 star accommodations, Heaven is a great option for the more budget-minded traveler.

Rwanda Traditions

Summary of Our Stay

Upon arrival to Rwanda, we had to undergo a PCR Covid test per the current regulations. Diego Travel clients can be set up with VIP Fast Track arrival service to whisk you through customs and have the PCR testing done. Our flight arrived into Kigali at night, so we stayed 2 nights in Kigali upon arrival, visiting both the Genocide Memorial and having lunch at Heaven, located next to The Retreat. While it may seem excessive, we needed additional negative Covid tests to enter the national parks, in order to protect the primates as they are highly susceptible to human diseases. It’s astonishing that we share 98% of the same DNA, so given their small population, we need to protect them from any danger, such as coronavirus, as much as we can.

One&Only Evening

The commercial flight into Nyungwe was not as easy as I would have thought. The Rwandan processing is slow, whether it’s through security checkpoints or checking into hotels. As we were traveling with Micato Safaris, they did a fantastic job of keeping our documents in order and because they provided each destination with our documentation in advance, there was less wait time than what one would typically experience. Some things are unpredictable though, such as our bags taking an hour to get unloaded from the plane upon arrival into Nyungwe, so my advice is to pack your patience when traveling to Africa.

Rwanda

Arriving to this part of the country was the first time experiencing the ‘authentic’ Rwanda, seeing women balancing baskets on their heads and men pushing bicycles loaded up with kilos of potatoes. Seeing little children running behind their older siblings on a tea plantation, and frantically waving at us as our green safari jeep sped by. “Canesa, canesa,” they’d yell in Rwandese. “Wishing you health and happiness,” the greeting Rwandans use. Mothers carrying babies wrapped on their backs, and women and men bent over to pick tea leaves in the fields. The endless hills are astonishing and climb higher and higher as you make your way to Nyungwe House.

Arriving at One&Only Nyungwe House

I already spoke about the arrival to Nyungwe House, but the emotion that overcame me I can neither put into words or ever forget it. The sense of being in Rwanda makes you somehow feel at home, even though you are worlds away.

Much of your stay will be had around the dining table or around a fire. While I started off the trip a complete stranger to all of my travel industry companions, I left feeling more connected to them because of this. We shared conversation, we shared great food, but most importantly we shared the unique experience of witnessing these magnificent animals in the wild together.

One&Only Nyungwe House

To return to the experience of the gorilla trek, since that is the sole reason why most people visit Rwanda, I would like to explain a little bit more about the process so you know what to expect. The allowed hour felt like a blip, and Craig recommend to us, over the glow of the fireplace the night before, to allow ourselves 15 minutes to take photos and video, but then to just set it aside and be present with the animals. This was the best advice I could have gotten, even though it was definitely hard to do. While the permit cost is very expensive, it’s important to note that it’s meant to keep the number of tourists to a minimum and a portion of the proceeds goes toward the conservation of the national parks and the gorillas. For example, 5% goes toward the farmers who surround the national park, as sometimes the gorillas will escape the wall of the national forest and destroy the bamboo or farm crops. This 5% covers that cost to maintain or repair any damage, so that locals are incentivized not to harm them.

Rwanda Gorilla Safari Guide

As I mentioned I did two treks, and while I don’t want to go into huge detail about them, as it was such a special experience that I want to selfishly keep some things for myself, I will say that the two treks were completely different. The first was about a 3 hour hike up steep inclines of thick mud and stinging nettles. When we arrived to the Sabinyo gorilla family, we were in tight quarters with them, all huddled together on the side of the mountain. The proximity was so close that a baby, a mother and the silverback, Sabinyo, all brushed beside me as they made their way through. On my second trek, it could not have been more different. The gorilla family this time was Mahowza, and as we were approaching the national park, the family was migrating down directly toward us. We took about 20 steps inside the wall and there they were. The guides told us to hand over our backpacks and walking sticks to the porters, as poachers used to beat them with sticks and so the sight of them still makes them defensive. Since the backpacks contain food, you keep that away from them as well. We then followed them as they formed a line of about 18 gorillas, who proceeded to walk out of the national park and onto the farmland, where they happily destroyed a field of bamboo, clawing and gnawing and licking it as they rolled, climbed, and played with each other.

Commodore Perry Estate Austin Texas

Aside from the gorilla trekking, the properties arranged other activities so that we could experience it all, such as archery, drum circle, and spear throwing. Have you ever thrown an African spear? It’s not as easy as it looks, and God knows how they ever killed any animals using that method. We painted, we took a course on tea picking and tasting, we had yoga class and massages. While both places were amazing, Delice at One and Only Gorillas Nest was the best massage I’ve ever had in my life, so much so that I asked her if I could take her home with me.

  • Food at One&Only Rwanda

There was one waiter, Jean, at One and Only Nyungwe House whose excitement and happiness was so contagious, you couldn’t help but fall in love with him. Josh, a travel companion, asked him, “Do you love your job?” He beamed ear-to-ear with his wide vibrant smile and said, “I love it too much!” Being there with people like that just made your heart melt, and made me realize that while they have so little, they have more than we will ever know. The key to happiness, or that sense of being that all of us eternally long for yet never attain, belongs to the people of Rwanda. Jean, the Patricks, Esperanz, T, and so many more, have kept a piece of my heart with them. Someday I’ll return to experience it again.

If you are ready for your trip to Rwanda, please contact me here to begin planning your incredible life-changing journey. Book your next Micato Safari with Diego Travel to receive a $200 per person gift credit to the Micato online safari store towards the purchase of  apparel and gear.

Let’s Get Planning!

Rwanda Landscape

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Four Seasons Orlando

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.  

BOOK NOW

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?!

Let’s Get Planning!

Four Seasons Orlando

Sea Island Cottages

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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Marrakech

Marrakech

Marrakech

Luxury Hotel Guide for Your Morrocan Vacation
MARIA DIEGO

Morocco lies in the North Western part of Africa, its name meaning Land of God. Its main industry is agriculture, and with a climate similar to California, everything from olive trees to figs to citrus is grown in abundance. Morocco is home to 56 million people and of those, about half live in the country side in small villages. It’s a diverse country where you have everything from beach resorts on the coast, to desert camps in the Sahara, to Ryads in countryside and to luxury hotels in Marrakech and everything in between.

Fez was the first Medina of Morocco and used to be the capital, but Casablanca has since become the capital and is the industrial and financial capital of the country. This guide will cover Marrakech, which in my opinion is the heart of Morocco and should be the focal point of your trip.

Marrakech is an ancient city in the center of Morocco and has plenty of options for luxury resorts with grand pools, spas, delicious food and impeccable service. Beyond relaxing at your resort, there is a lot to do not only in the city of Marrakech that includes history, culture. If staying over a few days, there are also many amazing places to discover on a day trip excursion.

Perfect For: Families | Destination Weddings | Luxury Honeymoon | Couples Groups | Multi-Generational Families | Incentive Trips | Corporate Groups | Adventure Seekers

Getting to Morocco

Getting to Marrakech

Marrakech used to have non-stop flight options from major US hubs, but because of the pandemic, flights are somewhat limited and connect through either Cassablanca or Europe. We connected through Madrid Barajas International Airport to Marrakech. Hopefully, a non-stop option to Marrakech will be introduced in the near future. For domestic options, flights can also be somewhat limited to certain days of the week, especially when visiting the smaller towns, so it is best to work with a travel advisor like me who takes care of all the logistical details..

Marrakech

31.6258,-7.98916

Marrakech

Moroccan Spices

Marrakech Luxury Travel Guide

What to do in Marrakech

  • The Medina

    The old city, also referred to as the Medina, is the walled in section of Marrakech filled with the market (the souk), two notable resorts built by the Moroccan royalty, La Mamounia and Royal Mansour, as well as many plazas, shops, restaurants, museums and private riads. In Moroccan culture, most homes look exactly the same from the outside, as they don’t care to share their status on the exterior of the home. Once you step inside, it can either be simple or extravagant. A great way to experience this is to visit Majorelle Gardens next to the Ives Saint Laurent’s museum. The Medina is the heart of Marrakech, and where the hustle and bustle is.

  • Souk Marrakech Morocco

  • Moroccan Spices

  • The Souk

    Within the Medina lies the Souk, which is the marketplace where you can find everything from handcrafts to food, spices, jewelry, and shoes. The Souk also has sections, one area for the metalworkers, while another area is for leather. It’s helpful to go with a local guide to quickly lead you in the right direction and to the right vendor, as it’s easy to get sucked in and not find your way out, and it can be quite chaotic, with motorcycles and carts constantly running through. We traveled with our three kids and my mom, and we each gripped tightly to a little hand. One of my favorite stops in the Souk was to a pharmacy/herbalist, where the shop owner explained how to tell the difference between quality Argan oil and imitation Argan oil, and showed us ancient Moroccan remedies for ailments.

  • Shopping

    The vibrantly colorful city of Marrakech has long been a source of inspiration for fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent.  Today, along with his famous museum, you can find his fashion boutiques around the city along with other well-known designer brands and smaller up-and-coming labels such as Topolina a French couture pattern maker who made Morocco her home to highlight its bold and bright colors and incredible textiles through fashion.  While we were in Marrakech, we hit Pacha Gallery, on the hunt for antique doors and custom lighting for a residential project we are working on back home. For natural herbs and health remedies, don’t miss Herboriste la Sagesse, where they’ll mesmerize you with a very quick and impressive overview of every potion available.  Finally, don’t forget to visit the shops inside La Mamounia, featuring a perfect blend of fashion with Moroccan sweets and treats that you can bring home as gifts.

  • Marrakech Shopping

  • Atlas Mountains Morocco

  • The Atlas Mountains

    The Atlas Mountains are divided into three areas – the High Atlas, Mid- Atlas and the Anti-Atlas in the South. Beginning about one hour outside of Marrakech, it is worthwhile to explore the Atlas Mountains to experience the countryside of Morocco. There are many villages  and valleys that are worth a visit and when you plan your trip with Diego Travel, we will make recommendations based on the routing and logistics of your trip to experience the Atlas with a a day tour or immerse yourself in a multi-day itinerary.

  • The Coast

    The two coastal towns that worth visiting as a day trip from Marrakech are Tagazhout, to the southwest, and Essouria to the west. These coastal hubs come alive in the summer with European travelers but are worth a day visit any time of the year. Tagazhout is lined with beach resorts and is a famous surfing destination, while Essouaria is a charming walled coastal town.

  • Essaouira

  • AIT-BEN-HADDOU

  • Ait-Ben-Haddou
    One of my favorite experiences from our trip to Morocco was our visit the Unesco World Heritage site of Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou. A 3.5 hour drive through the Atlas Mountains from Marrakech where we experienced the Morrocan countriside and take a peek into the Berber tribes that live in the Atlas Mountains. Ait-Ben-Haddou is an incredible example of traditional Morrocan architecture and an unforgetable sight that has been used a s backdrop in many hollywood films including Gladiator, the Mummy and Babel as well as one of the backdrops for Game of Thrones. While it is posible to do a day trip from Marrakech, I highly suggest an overnight trip combining it with a visit to Ouzarate and Skoura, the land of 1,001 casbahs and staying at the 19th-century Kasbah turned luxury boutique hotel of Dar Ahlam for an unforgetable experience.

Diego Travel Marrakech Luxury Hotel Guide

Where to Stay in Marrakech

Marrakech is home to as many luxury hotels and resorts as you would find in a destination like Paris, France. In fact, the British and French are Morocco’s top markets in tourism, behind Americans. There were so many amazing resorts in Marrakech, it was hard to decide where to stay, but I’m happy to report that I was able to stay at and visit most of the below options. While each is unique, there is something for everyone, and it is my job to speak with you and determine the right fit based on your style, travel tastes, and needs. I’m also including an option in the Atlas Mountains, Dar Ahlam, which I highly recommend. And while we didn’t get to see it, Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson’s luxury villa at the base of the Atlas Mountains and just one hour outside of Marrakech, is worthy of a stay.

Oberoi Marrakech

The Oberoi Marrakech

This 28-acre estate with 84 rooms is set just 25 minutes outside of Marrakech, on an estate filled with olive trees and soaring emerald cypress trees that line extensive fountains and pools. The service at The Oberoi in Marrakech is what set it apart and was beyond exceptional, so much so that I was nearly crying when we had to leave. Owned in part by a local aluminum family and in part by the Oberoi

family, the property was built over 3 years with no expense spared. 200 artisans took years to hand carve the wood and stone domed ceiling of the lobby, and the property is complete with several restaurants, a huge spa, a kids club, a teen club, and even a vloggers room equipped with as many outlets and high powered wifi connection. I could envision myself staying here for a full week, to just disconnect, read good books, and enjoy the property with day trips into the center of Marrakech.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:

  • Complimentary one category upgrade upon arrival or at time of booking, based on availability
  • Daily Continental breakfast for up to two people per bedroom
  • Welcome note and amenity
  • Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
  • VIP Status
  • Complimentary 50-minute massage for up to two guests
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Oberoi Marrakech For: Honeymooners | Destination Weddings | Couples Groups | Multi- Generational Families | Anniversary Trips | Families | Incentive Groups

Royal Mansour

Royal Mansour

We arrived to the grand entry of Royal Mansour, where guards stand in regal uniforms as if their guarding the true royal palace. Entering into the courtyard will have your eyes unable to settle, as there is so much going on everywhere. The palace was built in 2010 by the king, as no expense was spared to make it as grand as possible. While I had an appointment for a site inspection (full disclosure: we didn’t sleep here), we waited for about 10 minutes until we were greeted. Not the warm and personable welcome that we received at other properties, and overall, that was the feeling I had here.
There are 53 riads in total, all offering total privacy, in large part to the underground tunnels built for the property so that staff remain out of sight from the guests. The staff are discreet, and tend to not speak unless spoken to, make less eye contact, and are generally there ready

to serve but not over-imposing. The scene here was to see and be seen, and the guests dressed to the nines.
The resort has 4 restaurants, excluding The Nest, which is a private area that can be specially set up for dinner, accommodating from 2-10 guests. There are 2 pools – an enormous outdoor one with pool cabanas that can be rented, and an indoor pool at the spa. The kids club serves children ages 4-10 and they can provide nanny service for younger kids.
Aside from the multi-bedroom riads with full kitchens and private rooftop pools that would be perfect for groups or larger families, my favorite part of this property were the gardens. In my opinion, Royal Mansour has the most beautiful gardens in all of Marrakech. While you’ll see long lines waiting to get into the YSL museum and gardens, this garden was much more beautiful and worth at least a lunch reservation in order to go and see them. They were built in 2020 when the curfew imposed due to the pandemic, inspired the king to build an area of the property where guests could continue enjoy the outdoors beyond the curfew.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:

  •  Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability (from Superior 1 BR to Premiere 1 BR)
  • Daily full breakfast for up to two people per bedroom, provided via room service
  • $100 USD Food & Beverage Credit
  • Complimentary Round-Trip Private Airport Transfers
  • Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
  • VIP Status
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Royal Mansour: Honeymooners | Spa-Focused Trips | Multi-Generational Families | Families wanting Kids Club | Incentive Groups

La Mamounia

La Mamounia

La Mamounia is the nickname for the prince who was gifted this property by his father, the king. La Mamounia is conveniently located next door to Royal Mansour, and inside of the walled Medina in the old city. If you’re looking for a central location, an ambience of chic well-

traveled Europeans, a selection of fine dining and shopping options in the common areas, than La Mamounia would be an excellent choice. It definitely has the “in-the-know” vibe with high-brow shops like Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior mixed with elegant boutiques carrying local designer wares you won’t find anywhere else. All the restaurants were renovated in 2020, and I loved the pale pink and jungle green hues combined with brass decor in one. The grounds have beautiful gardens, which you can walk freely, even if you are just dining in one of the restaurants. However, unless you are a guest of the hotel, you cannot access the impressive hotel pool and cabanas, which are heavily guarded with security, as is most of the property.
While I only toured the suites and the presidential La Mamounia Suite, the actual 2-bedroom apartment for the prince himself, the rooms are spacious, airy and well appointed without feeling stuffy and pretentious. It is an older hotel, but rooms and grounds are maintained impeccably, and definitely have the royal feel.
The hotel has a small spa, but no kids club or kid-friendly amenities. However, if you don’t need those amenities, my kids enjoyed running around the grounds and would have had no issue with a short stay here. However, it is less of a family-friendly resort than many other options in Morocco. The hotel can arrange for babysitting services, but again, there are really no facilities to entertain the kids.
Insider Tip: Reserve a sushi dinner followed by a private movie screening in their secret cinema. This bespoke experience can be enjoyed by any hotel guest with advanced reservations, but most people don’t even know that the opportunity exists.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:
• Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability (for suites, upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability)
• Daily full breakfast for up to two people per bedroom
• $100 USD Food & Beverage Credit
• Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
• VIP Status
• Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using theTravel Planning Service 

Diego Travel Recommends La Mamounia Marrakech For:
Honeymooners | Groups of Friends | Anniversary Trip | Mother/Daughter Shopping Trips | Incentive Groups | Destination Wedding

La Villa des Orangers

Villa des Orangers

We started off the trip at this luxury boutique Relais & Chateaux property and I immediately fell in love. One of the few options inside of the walled Medina, a stay at Villa des Orangers feels like you’re walking into someone’s very elegant private home. After a very long and delayed journey to arrive to Marrakech, the staff welcomed us in a seated area, as we were served the best mint tea of our trip while we filled out paperwork. It was late at night at the full moon was glowing through the tree branches, lighting up the courtyard and over the pristine lap pool. Once that brief welcome was complete, they welcomed us into what felt like a living room, with the fire lit and dinner immediately served around a coffee table, the perfect set up for tired and hungry kids.
Each room at Villa des Orangers is uniquely appointed, and we were staying in two bi-level suites that were perfect for our large family. They were decorated with antiques, and every detail from the handrails to the lighting to bathtub were simply stunning. From a design standpoint, Villa des Orangers might have been my favorite just because it felt so homey and is centrally located right in the heart of the Medina. I have a preference for these boutique-style hotels over the grand opulence of some larger brand-name 5 star hotels. However, as a caveat, the building is ancient, so there were some quirks to the building that might not be perceived as luxurious to many travelers.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:
• Upgrade to next room category, based upon availability at check-in
• 100 USD hotel credit per room, per stay (2 night minimum, valid towards incidentals)
• Guaranteed 2pm late check-out
• Complimentary welcome drink per guest, per stay

• VIP Status
• Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Villa des Orangers For: Honeymooners | Groups of Friends | Anniversary Trip | Mother/Daughter Shopping Trips | Small Groups

Amanjena, Morocco

Amanjena

I was very excited to stay at Amanjena, as Aman Hotels are always at the top of my list when it comes to guaranteed luxury and over-the-top service. Amanjena did not disappoint, and has the wow factor that would make any trip extra special. The grounds are stunning, with expansive pools and fountains throughout. The entrance has two lobbies on either side, with a bar on one side and restaurants on the other. The food was incredible, and for our first dinner, there was a trio of musicians playing traditional Moroccan music while we dined under the high glass-domed ceilings in a candlelit room that could not have been more romantic. Well, had we removed our three tired kids, it might have been.
The 40 villas on property are stunning and offer lavish accommodations with incredible amenities. What is included here sets Aman properties apart from your typical hotel stay – from welcome amenities to nightly treats placed on your pillow. There are only 4 room categories at Amanjena, with the first three all having the exact same floor plan with the differentiating factor being the outdoor space. You can consult with me on season you’ll be there to determine best fit.
On property there are two pools, one adults-only and one family- friendly. To be honest, the family-friendly pool felt like an after-thought, stuck behind the spa building and next to the golf course, in a way that doesn’t seem like it would be enjoyable. From what I was told, most families will stay in the 2-bedroom villas, the Alhambra Suite, that have a full-size private pool in their own “backyard,” which makes a lot more sense.
The spa is small but offers an extensive menu of treatments, and the separate men’s and women’s hammers offer different masks that you can apply as a complimentary service during your stay. While there’s not a ton to do, per se, at Amanjena, they do offer a small selection of kids activities such as calligraphy, story time, and a cooking class, and can arrange for nearby camel rides. While Amanjena does have families that stay here, especially during the peak seasons of December and April, the majority of travelers here are couples seeking privacy, romance and a nice getaway from major European cities.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:
• Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability
• Daily continental breakfast for two guests per bedroom
• $100 USD Food & Beverage Credit
• Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
• VIP Status
• Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Amanjena For: Honeymooners | Groups of Friends | Anniversary Trip | Parents Traveling with Older Children | Small Groups

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

The sleek and modern Mandarin Oriental Marrakech was designed by the same designer responsible for the Baccarat Hotel in New York City and the newly redesigned Mandarin Oriental in Madrid. The property is best known for its open air gardens and two golf courses, and comes with many accommodation options with villas that are perfect for families.

The hotel is often site to high-profile events such as runway shows for Moncler and Yves Saint Laurent.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Virtuoso Amenities:
• Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability (for suites, upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability)
• Daily full breakfast for up to two people per bedroom
• $100 USD Food & Beverage Credit
• Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
• VIP Status
• Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service 

Diego Travel Recommends Mandarin Oriental Marrakech For:
Honeymooners | Groups of Friends | Anniversary Trip | Mother/Daughter Shopping Trips | Incentive Groups | Destination Wedding

A Few of My Favorite Things

Marrakech

Combining Ancient Culture with Luxury Accommodations

We loved learning about ancient Moorish culture and visiting the Dar el Bacha Museum of the Confluences before wandering through the narrow streets of the Souk. We also loved driving through the Atlas Mountains and seeing how the Berbers live and visiting the Unesco World Heritage site of Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, in Ouarzazate Provence.

The Service

Morocco is a destination where you get a lot of value and high level of service for a fraction of what it would cost in Europe. Service, food, shopping and culture were all phenomenal. If you have questions about which property to choose or how to plan your trip, you can fill out our Trip Design Form to get started and we will reach out with more information!

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Best Family Vacations in the USA

Best Family Vacations in the USA

Diego Travel Destination Guide

Best Luxury Family Vacations in the USA

MARIA DIEGO

Are you searching for the best family vacation spots in the US? There’s no shortage of family destinations in the USA, but there are some hotels and top family resorts in the US that really stand out from the rest.

Whether you’re looking for the best beach resorts in the USA for families, luxury family vacation ideas or the best family vacation summer destinations, we’ve selected our favorite family vacations in the US from the past couple of years. These are hotels and destinations that are perfect for the whole family to enjoy, escape the routine and spend some quality family time together.

As a Virtuoso travel agency, Diego Travel adds value and additional amenities to your stay every time. Contact us here to get started planning your next family vacation!

6 Ideas for your next Family Vacations in the US

Sea Island Vacation Rentals

1. Sea Island, Georgia

Located off the coast of Georgia, Sea Island is the ultimate East Coast family vacation spot. We loved it so much we came back twice in one year, take my word – it’s the best family vacation in Georgia!

With beautiful beaches and a huge range of family-friendly activities from dolphin watching tours, falconry or arts and crafts to bike riding or boat rental, the list of activities is enough to keep the kids occupied for the entire trip.

For the adults, there’s a spa, fitness centre, hot tub, golfing, horseback riding and a range of eateries from casual pubs to formal dining, including the only Forbes 5-Star restaurant in Georgia.

The Sea Island cottages and vacation rentals are also perfect if you’re looking for large family vacation rentals or multi family vacation spots, or even if you just prefer to have your own space.

Sea Island also offers The Cloisters, Ocean Residence, Beach Club, The Inn and The Lodge, so there’s plenty of accommodation options to suit you and your family’s vacation.

When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
  • $100 per day resort credit when you book a Sea Island cottage rental
  • $100 one-time resort credit + daily complimentary breakfast when you book a Sea Island hotel room

Blackberry Mountain Sunset

2. Blackberry Mountain, Tennessee

If you’re looking for the best luxury resorts for families in the US, this mountain retreat in the Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect property.

With a focus on wellbeing, outdoor adventure and delightful cuisine, Blackberry Mountain is ideal for active families who are looking for the top family vacation spots in the US that provide a holistic accommodation and hospitality experience.

Spend the day out on the hiking trails, water skiing on the pond or zip lining through the arbor treetops adventure course, followed by hot yoga, sound baths in the loft, clay sculpting or relaxing in the spa.

Blackberry Mountain offers a range of accommodation types including 2-5 bedroom homes – perfect for large groups and one of the best places for a family vacation in Tennessee.

When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
  • 5% off published rates
  • $50 spa credit
  • Upgrade at time of check-in, subject to availability
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Laguna Beach Coves

3. Laguna Beach, California

With so many outdoor activities in the area like hiking, horseback riding, museums, farms and beaches, plus plenty of restaurants, shops and attractions, Laguna Beach is the perfect base if you’re looking for all inclusive California family resorts for your next US vacation.

My three favorite hotels in this area of Southern California are Montage Laguna Beach, the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, and the Monarch Beach Resort. Their locations in Laguna Beach are perfect for weekend getaways or longer family vacations to enjoy everything this beautiful coastline has to offer.

The Monarch Beach Resort is a golf and beach resort that’s both kid-friendly and dog-friendly. With 3 pools, a kids club and Laguna’s only beach club, this is a great option for the whole family to enjoy.

The Ritz Carlton is further south and a must-stay for any surfers in the family! With plenty of restaurant options and fun activities such as whale watching tours organized by the hotel.

Montage Laguna Beach is the ultimate luxury destination for family vacation spots in the US. With 1,2,3 and 4 bedroom suites, ocean views, a kids club and kids programme, adults-only spa and exclusive beach access, the whole family is treated like a VIP when you stay here.

This coastal stretch of California is one of the best family vacation destinations in the US and perfect if you’re looking for summer vacation ideas.

When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
  • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast for two 
  • $100 USD resort credit
  • Early check-in/Late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wifi

Diego_Travel_Hotel_Review-Montage_Palmetto_Bluff

4. Montage Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina

Just 30 minutes outside of Savannah, Georgia, you find yourself in this tranquil and picturesque setting at the Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina.

Our favorite hotel for the best family vacation in South Carolina, the Montage Palmetto Bluff feels like a true escape and a step back in time with tree lined avenues and gas-lit laps on this 20,000 acre estate.

And with so much space, it’s no wonder that this resort is full of family friendly activities – tennis courts and lessons, golfing, bike rental, boating, shooting club, bowling alley, kids club, 3 different pools and a spa for the adults to enjoy too.

You can arrange a golf cart or bikes to move around the property,which has seven restaurants spread out over the whole resort area ranging from casual to formal dining which I suggest booking in advance of your stay. You can also take a boat tour on a guided day trip to Daufuskie Island and learn so much about the history and culture.

When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
  • $100+ resort credit
  • Daily breakfast credit
  • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Rosewood Miramar Beach

5. Rosewood Miramar Beach, California

Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel might just be the number one option for best family beach vacations in the US. This beachfront hotel is the perfect combination of luxury and laid back beach style.

The Rosewood Miramar is located just 15 minutes from Santa Barbara. But being the only oceanfront property in Montecito, you feel the stress wash away in this calm, easygoing, beachfront setting.

With family-friendly beach yoga, falconry experiences, family movie nights, a range of accommodation types, six restaurants and the only 5-star Forbes spa in Santa Barbara, there’s fun for the whole family at this beachfront hotel.

The resort embraces outdoor living too, with kayak rental, boat charters, hiking excursions, surf lessons and the beach on your doorstep.

Whether you’re looking for active family vacation ideas in California or slower paced, all inclusive US beach resorts for families, the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel managed both effortlessly.

When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
  • Complimentary one category upgrade upon arrival, based on availability
  • Daily USD30 breakfast credit for up to two people per bedroom
  • $125 Sense Spa credit per stay
  • Welcome note and amenity from the Managing Director on behalf of Diego Travel
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box for First-Time Clients

Four Seasons Orlando

6. Four Seasons Orlando, Florida

A family-favorite among our clients, whether it’s a weekend getaway for the family or a once-in-a-lifetime trip to this Florida destination, Orlando is one of the best family trips in the US.

I always say that not only is the Four Seasons Orlando the best family hotel in Orlando, it’s a destination in and of itself: your entire stay feels magical, for adults as well as the kids.

The non-stop entertainment for the kids goes above and beyond at Four Seasons Orlando, with complimentary kids camp available daily, a 5-acre water park, 18-hole putting course, four restaurants, three lounges and the Disney character breakfast – a must-do for kids.

Even the spa has a Bippity Boppity Boo boutique experience for girls looking for the princess experience without the wait in line at the Magic Kingdom.

The Four Seasons Orlando concierge can assist with park tickets, fast passes and any other park queries to make sure your trip runs smoothly from start to finish.

The Four Seasons Orlando is without a doubt, the best place to stay in Orlando for families.

When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
  • 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 Tips at Montage Palmetto Bluff

6 Ideas for your next Family Vacations in the US

Hopefully our guide to the best family vacations in the US has given you plenty of inspiration for your next family trip. Whether you prefer a laid back beach vacation or an action-packed family-fun resort, here at Diego Travel we know family vacations are extra special and deserve to be perfect. 

If you’re still undecided, feel free to schedule a call with me, so that I can match you with an ideal destination that fits both your family and budget.


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Travel planners share 9 places in the US everyone will want to visit this year

INSIDER
March 4, 2022
By Alyssa Towns Swantkoski

Insider asked travel planners to share which US destinations they believe will be popular in 2022

Sea Island offers 5 miles of private beach, luxury resorts and accommodations, and several outdoor activities, including golf, with PGA tournaments having been held on the island.

Maria Diego of Diego Travel agency has seen this location grow in popularity and expects to see more of the same.

“One of my best-selling destinations throughout the pandemic has been Sea Island, Georgia. Located between Jacksonville, Florida, and Savannah, Georgia, it’s an easy drive from Miami/South Florida and the East Coast,” she said.

Sea Island has hotel accommodations and cottage rentals, plus it’s dog-friendly. 

“Since people are looking for extended vacations, this is a great option that offers so many activities for families,” Diego said. There are plenty of golf courses and tennis courts, too. 

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British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands

A Destination Guide for Your Luxury Caribbean Vacation
MARIA DIEGO

The British Virgin Islands, made up of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, and Scrub Island, along with many other smaller islands is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for luxury travel. I was invited on a FAM trip (the travel industry’s term for familiarization trip) hosted by the British Virgin Islands Tourism Board, where we got to see the top luxury hotels, resorts, private islands, and villas and many different islands. They also introduced us to many different experiences that are possible on the British Virgin Islands, including chartering private yachts, sail boats, and catamarans, renting Moke cars to ride around the islands, exploring The Baths National Park, and all the other fun you can have on the BVI. If you love beautiful beaches, perfect weather, luxury hotels and villas at a great price point, and the best rum cocktails in the world, then you will love the British Virgin Islands!

Perfect For: Families | Destination Weddings | Luxury Honeymoon | Couples Groups | Multi-Generational Families | Scuba Divers | Snorkelers | Adventure Seekers

Getting to the BVI

Getting to the British Virgin Islands

Getting to BVI isn’t easy, which is why it is perhaps such a popular spot for the jet setters who want a more exclusive experience and privacy. For ease of flights, it’s sometimes better to fly into STT (St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands) because it is a direct flight from many major US cities. From St. Thomas, you can take a boat over to British Virgin Islands, even though you will need to stop by boat to clear customs.

Otherwise, you can fly into the British Virgin Island’s main airport in Tortola, the Terrence B. Lettsome airport (EIS), which you will need to connect through Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, or Antigua. You have additional smaller airports at Virgin Gorda (VIJ) and Anegada (NGD), and other smaller landing sites for private aviation. When you utilize Diego Travel’s trip planning service, we handle all of the logistics of travel to the US Virgin Island and British Virgin Islands so you don’t have to worry about any of it.

BVI
  • 18.4223,-64.6192

    Tortola

  • 18.4461,-64.4341

    Virgin Gorda

The Baths Virgin Gorda

The British Virgin Islands Luxury Travel Guide

What to do in the BVI

  • The Baths National Park

    The most visited site in the British Virgin Islands is 7-acres of coastline called The Baths National Park, an iconic location of large boulders and white sand located at Devil’s Bay on Virgin Gorda. Instagram has catapulted its popularity, with influencers getting their obligatory shot between or on these impressive boulders. You can crouch down through narrow passage ways to snorkel or scuba dive your way around them from the water. If you’re visiting the BVI, you cannot miss The Baths.

  • Yacht Charter in the BVI

  • Yacht & Catamaran Charters

    As I discussed in my guide to the US Virgin Islands, the Caribbean just might be the Yacht Charter Capital of the World, and you will find many luxury boats, yachts and catamarans to rent in the region. The problem is, where can you find one of these that fit your budget?

    I’ll let you in on a secret. The yacht charter with crew experience is more affordable than you think, especially when traveling with a group of family or friends. I have worked with one of the boating industry’s top yacht brokers for over a decade, and she has 30+ years in the industry. Together, at no additional cost to the client, we are able to pair Diego Travel clients to the best boat and crew at your budget.

    Whether you opt for a live-on boat charter experience, or opt for a day charter to experience the ocean from your hotel or private villa, we have the best contacts to ensure you’re getting the most value for your budget while boating around Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, or Jost Van Dyke.

  • Diving

    My husband and I started out in the travel industry operating a marina with boat charters and ground transfers, and many people are surprised to know that I have never scuba dived before because I feel like I learned everything there is to know about it. A health condition prevents me from scuba diving, so I stick to snorkeling in shallow reef area. Despite my inability to scuba dive, I can tell you that the British Virgin Islands is perfect for both scuba diving and snorkeling, especially at islands like Anegada, the only flat coral island in the BVI. The island is surrounded by a series of reef mazes and tunnels and are full of interesting types of sea life that you won’t find any many other places. In Virgin Gorda, don’t miss visits to Savannah Bay, Pond Bay, Devil’s Bay (where The Baths are located), Mahoe Bay and Spring Bay.

  • BVI Catamaran Charter

  • BVI Scuba

  • Sailing

    The BVI has consistent trade winds that makes it ideal for constant sailing, whether you are a novice or experienced sailor. Similar to the boat charters, sailing deserves its own category in things to do in the British Virgin Islands because you can take sailing classes on a small sail boat or even a Hobie cat or wind surf. When we visited Moskito Island, where Richard Branson owns an estate and is right next to Necker Island, a skipper took us out on a Hobie cat, so we could just sit back and relax while she transferred us on the water to the private beach club of Moskito Island. It was one of the most adventurous, wet and funny moments of our trip!

  • Shopping

    Along with luxury accommodations usually comes luxury shops that pop up that caters for the high-end clientele that frequents these islands. My first stop to the British Virgin Islands was at Oil Nut Bay, and we popped into Luna Boutique BVI at the marina next to Nova Restaurant. A chic boutique that carries unique and well-known brands and a great range of items from swimsuits and coverups to straw bags and candles. Even if you’re not staying on Oil Nut Bay, I highly recommend a visit to the restaurant and the few shops around it here. At Rosewood Little Dix Bay, you can also visit their boutique that is also full of beautiful clothes and souvenirs to take home. And while we didn’t have a lot of time to shop, a departing gift from our lovely hostess from the Tourism Board was a set of spices and teas, all local products that are typical products you can buy on your trip to the British Virgin Islands (and of course, don’t forget to bring home some alcohol, distilled there on the islands).

  • BVI Drinks

  • Luna Boutique BVI

  • Drinking

    I would be remiss to skip the importance of drinking on the British Virgin Islands – cocktails and the on-island distilleries are a huge part of BVI island life, and will definitely make your vacation more fun and unforgettable (or forgettable, depending on how much is consumed). I’ll discuss bars and places to visit for the best cocktails in the BVI under restaurants.

Oil nut bay

Where to Stay in The British Virgin Islands

One of the best destinations in the Caribbean for luxury private villas and homes is the British Virgin Islands. The Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort on Virgin Gorda is probably the best hotel in the British Virgin Islands, and underwent a massive renovation in 2019, only to reopen just at the start of the pandemic.

Rosewood Little Dix Bay

Rosewood Little Dix Bay

The Rosewood Little Dix Bay is perfect for honeymooners, anniversary trips, and even great for families. The hotel is located on a wide crescent bay with a very long beach for walking that is completely private for the resort. This makes it ideal if you want privacy and a beautiful sandy beach. Little Dix Bay has a long history and has had return visitors for years, and when I asked the general manager what he loved most about the resort, he said that the returning guests who celebrate their honeymoon and then their 25th wedding anniversary 25 years later is one of the things that makes the property so special. The main pool is nothing to write home about, but is a nice distance from the main restaurant and beach that it is quiet. There is another pool at the spa that overlooks the open ocean on the opposite side of the property, and I almost preferred this pool to the other. One thing that is worthy of writing home about is the tennis courts, pickle ball courts, and huge gym with fitness equipment. For guests who want to stay active and play sports on property, there are definitely many options. Finally, another advantage of staying at Little Dix Bay is its proximity to The Baths National Park in Virgin Gorda.

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following Rosewood Elite Amenities:

  • Exclusive Rosewood Elite Offers
  • Complimentary one category upgrade upon arrival, based on availability
  • Daily Full American breakfast for up to two people per bedroom
  • USD125 food and beverage credit
  • Welcome note and amenity
  • Priority Upgrade if Available
  • Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
  • VIP Status
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning ServiceTravel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Rosewood Little Dix Bay For: Honeymooners | Destination Weddings | Couples Groups | Multi- Generational Families | Anniversary Trips | Romantic Getaways | Incentive Trips

Moskito Island

Moskito Island

Moskito Island was perhaps my favorite destination in British Virgin Islands and is an exclusive experience that not many people will ever get to experience. There are only a handful of homes on the entire island, owned by Richard Branson and his billionaire friends. Fortunately, you too can have this experience, and rent out one of the homes that is between 7 and 11 bedrooms in each estate. The island itself has its own communal beach club, beachside pool and outdoor living area, tennis courts, gym, and water sports center, all for your own private use. Each estate has its own team of friendly staff that make the experience of staying on Moskito Island so exceptional.

I was lucky enough to stay at the Branson Estate and slept in the bedroom next to Richard Branson’s at the Headland House, which is a perfect setup for a family with children or teens. The home has its own kitchen and communal areas, but then there are two other stand alone buildings that make the Branson Estate ideal for multiple families traveling together, or even 11 couples who want to gather at night for gourmet meals and karaoke at night. That evening, we kicked it off with a private rum tasting with rum expert at Branson team member, Goran. This rum tasting comes included with your stay when you book with Diego Travel.

Later, we enjoyed one of the best meals of my life, followed by a night of karaoke that lasted well into the night, joined by fun staff who made the entire experience. The next day, we were whisked to the beach for a captained experience on a Hobie cat, where they took us around the island and dropped us off at the communal beach club, where we enjoyed cocktails and a beautiful beachside meal. It was heaven, and I still pinch myself that I got to have this experience.

The other estates are The Oasis, where Paris Hilton recently honeymooned, and modeled after a cruise ship, which sleeps 18 with 6 family rooms close together and 3 separated villas for invited staff or friends. The Point is the closest to the beach and has 8 rooms that are completely separated bungalows, so likely not ideal for young kids but a great experience for couples. The Point sleeps 22 people.

Summer 2022 will see the opening of The Village to the Moskito Island rental program, which will be the premiere party house with a water slide, full light display and a DJ booth that comes up from the floor. There are 8 rooms total, with 7 separated pods. Again, this estate is ideal for the ultimate party and for the huge celebration you won’t be able to have anywhere else. So how much does it cost to stay on Moskito Island? Well, considering all food and house drinks are included, as well as full staff that provides housekeeping, entertainment, gourmet meals, and even around the clock babysitting for your little ones, the nightly rate in low season is around $22,000 plus taxes and fees. Whether you rent out each estate for just you and your plus one, or a large group of friends, the nightly rate remains the same.

The most unique element of Moskito Island are the experiences that they can create to really wow their guests, which is why the price is completely accessible when considering what you get. They create events like family style Olympic Games, bonfires, BBQ and s’mores, will have pizza night at the beach house, and create romantic dinner setups for parents to enjoy time on their own, while they set up a kids table for a kid-friendly dinner with babysitters down at The Cove.

Doesn’t it sound like paradise? It is. And when you book your stay with Diego Travel, I work with the island manager directly to make sure every detail is accounted for and can pair you with the estate that matches your needs.

Oil Nut Bay

Oil Nut Bay

Oil Nut Bay is another hybrid private island experience set up with resort amenities, with a beautiful beach club with private villas, both beachfront and perched up on the hills overlooking the bay. You need a golf cart to get around this expansive island, and homes vary in both size and decor. You can also visit as a couple only, which would be ideal for a honeymoon, with a base suite starting at just $600/night in low season. Homes are new and well-designed, with most offering private pools and full kitchens.

Whale peak season is March and April, when I highly recommend renting a villa on Whale Point; in fact, one of my favorite villas is called Whale Point and is a brand new 2-bedroom villa with pool and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. In low season, rates start at $1700/night+ + which makes it very affordable to go with another couple.

My favorite large home that would be perfect for a group of adults or traveling with teenagers, is Maranti, a 5-bedroom villa with separated en-suite rooms. All homes can provide provisions and a chef is available to prepare dinner each night, or you can enjoy dinner at the restaurant down at the pool and beach club.

They are currently building a spa, and currently have a gym and kids club, so Oil Nut Bay is one of my top picks for multi-generational trips that want privacy, quiet, and a beautiful setting for extended stays. It’s not uncommon for guests to rent these homes for a month-long stay, and with rates being so accessible, it might be worthwhile to consider an extended vacation.

BVI Villas

Private Villas

While in the British Virgin Islands, I met the “Queen of BVI” and owner/ founder of a destination management company that covers all of the islands. After working 30+ years in the hospitality industry, from her role as general manager at Rosewood Little Dix Bay to president of the tourism board, she now runs her own company and works exclusively with travel advisors. I was lucky enough to spend half a day with her, where she gave us tours of some of her favorite private villas at a range of prices. Villas ran from beachfront from $6,000/week for a 4-Bedroom home to upwards of $40,000/week. What is great about working with this person is that she literally knows every single villa and boat rental on the islands, and is able to match my clients to the perfect vacation rental and works with me to build an itinerary that is perfect for your needs. Need a babysitter? She has the contact. Want an in-house private chef and your kitchen fully stocked before arrival? We have you covered.

Two of my favorite villas that we toured and had lunch and dinner at were Baraka Point and Aquamare Villas. Both are beachfront and excellent options for families. Baraka Point is up on a cliff and has beach access that is just a couple minutes walk to get there. Both of these villas are very close to Sugar Cane restaurant, which I will cover in the next section.

Guana Island is 850 acres of private island with seven beaches, mountains, gardens and hiking and private villas that offer first-class luxury service as well. Guana Island is completely private, with gorgeous white sand beaches and an ideal destination when you want to get away from it all. At any of the above villas, when you book your BVI vacation with Diego Travel, we will make sure you are paired with the perfect match to fit your needs.

Moskito Island Dinning

Where to eat in the British Virgin Islands?

Some British Virgin Islands favorites, and very unique to the BVI dining options:

  • Nova on Oil Nut Bay – Built on a dock that extends out over the ocean, Nova is the perfect spot to spend a leisurely afternoon enjoying fresh sushi or local fish and sipping on fancy cocktails from their extensive and modern bar. It’s fun to people watch and check out the yachts at this marina restaurant.

    CocoMaya Restaurant – Just minutes from the iconic Baths in Virgin Gorda, Cocomaya is an iconic beach club and bar that is a must-see when visiting the British Virgin Islands. Plan to reserve a day bed and spend at least a few hours here, whether for lunch or into the night for dinner.

  • Nova on Oil Nut Bay

  • Sugarcane Restaurant – Sugarcane is located in Nail Bay on Virgin Gorda, walkable to Baraka Point and very close to Aquamare Villas. This fun spot perched up on a hill overlooking the water has delicious food, drinks and even a sports club that includes pool and tennis club. When you’re a guest a Baraka Point, you even get free access to their sport club and gym.

    Reef House at Little Dix Bay – You can make dining reservations here even if you’re not a guest at Rosewood Little Dix Bay. This beachfront restaurant is worth a stop, whether you’re visiting the islands by land or by private yacht. Reserve in advance if you’re not staying at the hotel.

  • Willy T at Cooper Island Beach Club – The legendary floating bar of the BVI’s where all you need to know is “what happens at Willy T’s stays at Willy T’s.”

    Did you know that when you utilize Diego Travel’s trip planning service, we make all your dining and activity reservations for you? Find out how you can implement our concierge service into your travel plans to make planning your trip to BVI as easy and seamless as possible.

A Few of My Favorite Things

The British Virgin Islands

Private Islands Galore

If you can swing it, the British Virgin Islands is worth the splurge on a private island experience. There are several to choose from, ranging from Necker Island to Moskito Island (the more famous due to Richard Branson’s famous name), to Aerial Island Resort and Guana Island. Whatever your budget and reason for celebration may be, I am happy to walk you through the different options and help you select which private island escape will be right for you and your occasion.

The Privacy and Exclusivity

After having visited both British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands all within two weeks of each other, I can say that what is notably different about British Virgin Islands is the element of exclusivity about it. While less buzzy and pretentious than its fellow Jetsetter Caribbean competition over at St. Barths, British Virgin Islands is no doubt a playground and hot spot for the rich and famous who are looking to vacation in private at some of the best beaches in the world. While many places come with a hefty price tag, the good news is that the average person can still experience the luxury element of BVI without spending a small fortune.

The Service

I didn’t experience a single bad meal while visiting the BVI, but what stood out most was the level of service at all the places we stayed, most notably at Moskito Island. Many people come to work seasonally at British Virgin Islands and never leave, while others are native to the islands and have such a happy disposition about life. It makes you feel like family by the time it’s time to leave, and you’ll never want to go home.

If you’re interested in a chartering a yacht or catamaran in the British Virgin Islands, or book the Rosewood Little Dix Bay or any other private villa or vacation rental, I would be happy to provide you my guidance and match you with the perfect boat + crew or hotel accommodation. You can contact me directly to inquire.

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United States Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands

A Destination Guide for Your Caribbean Vacation
MARIA DIEGO

The US Virgin Islands, made up of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, is a boater and diver’s paradise of many islands, beautiful beaches, and plenty of dive spots to explore. We were looking for a remote region to charter a private catamaran with crew to spend a week of bonding and adventure with our kids, and settled on the USVI as the perfect destination. Private yachts, sail boats, and catamarans are available throughout the US Virgin Islands and Diego Travel works with the best yacht broker for our clients’ needs.

Perfect For: Families | Destination Weddings | Honeymoon | Couples Groups | Multi-Generational Families | Scuba Divers | Snorkelers | Scuba Divers

Long Bay Marina-Charlotte Amalie

Getting to US Virgin Islands

Getting to USVI is perhaps one of its biggest draws, since there are so many direct flights into St. Thomas (STT) from major cities like Chicago, Dulles, Newark and Miami. From St. Thomas, it’s an easy boat ride to St. John, and a full day boat ride to St. Croix, so most people visiting St. Croix will take the direct flight from Miami. US Virgin Islands is extremely close to British Virgin Islands. Before Covid, visitors could visit the islands interchangeably pretty easily, but now the restrictions make it more difficult. For ease of flights, it’s sometimes better to fly into STT and take a boat over to British Virgin Islands, even though you will need to stop by boat to clear customs. When you utilize Diego Travel’s trip planning service, we handle all of the logistics of travel to the US Virgin Island and British Virgin Islands so you don’t have to worry about any of it.

USVI
  • 18.3411,-64.9328

    St Thomas

  • 18.3308,-64.7945

    St John

United States Virgin Islands Catamaran Charter

Catamaran Charter

YACHT AND CATAMARAN CHARTERS

The Caribbean just might be the Yacht Charter Capital of the World, and you will find many luxury boats, yachts and catamarans in the region. The problem is, where can you find one of these that fit your budget? I’ll let you in on a secret. The yacht charter with crew experience is more affordable than you think, especially when traveling with a group of family or friends. I have worked with one of the boating industry’s top yacht brokers for over a decade, and she has 30+ years in the industry. Together, at no additional cost to the client, we are able to pair Diego Travel clients to the best boat and crew at your budget. When I reached out to her for our personal vacation, we were considering two boats in our price range, and she told me one crew would be better than the other with our young kids. She was right! And whether you’re looking for a charter in Greece, Italy, or the Caribbean, she knows the boats and crew and directs me to the right choice once we have a discussion about you and what your needs are.

The US Virgin Islands are so popular for yacht charters because there are so many islands and protected bays for mooring at night, with not much distance or rough seas in between destinations. You can go for a full week or two without touching land, just exploring different waters, with each beach and bay being extremely unique. We spent our seven nights in Monde Bay, Little Lameshur Bay, Long Bay, Francis Bay, Caneel Bay, and finally Brewers Bay. The cool thing about our captain, who had 10 years experience, was that he knew to get us one bay ahead of the rest, so at each stop, due to our timing, we had each bay essentially to ourselves.

USVI Catamaran Charters

While we opted for a catamaran charter with crew, there are also bareboat catamaran and sailboat charters available (meaning less cost without crew). If you are the do-it-yourself type and want to man your own boat, you have this option available in the USVI. For those that want to learn how to sail, the USVI also affords a variety of options to get ASA certified during on your crewed charter.  Keep in mind that boat charters are regularly 7 nights.

  • Scuba Diving

    Scuba diving and snorkeling are the number 1 attraction of the US Virgin Islands, with so many reef dives, wreck dives, drift dives, and rocky islets that are home to a myriad of fish and sea life. Our 11-year-old daughter tried scuba diving for the first time, and on her second attempt stayed underwater for 25 minutes.

    The USVI is full of national wildlife reserves like Buck Island and the Virgin Islands National Park & Coral Reef National Monument. Because of the amount of protection surrounding the islands, the water is full of sea life, making the perfect paradise for both scuba divers and snorkelers.

  • Watersports USVI

  • It’s worthwhile to mention the amount of sea life we saw off our boat. From constant fish, sting rays and octopus, our favorite was swimming with the sea turtles, where there is a bay with hundreds of them. My 4- and 6-year-olds swam on their own as we patiently followed a little sea turtle as he would slowly surface for a breath every few minutes, where we’d get an up close look and then watch him plunge back to the sand. The fine of touching any turtle starts at $5,000, so this ensures these beautiful creatures can remain unharmed and explore freely in their natural habitat for years to come.

  • Watersports and Day charters

    For those who prefer to be landbased instead of chartering a yacht or catamaran, the US Virgin Islands offers plenty of oportunities to experience the natural beauty of these islands.

    There are a wide range of activities available directly from the beach like taking sailing classes on a small sail boat or a Hobie cat. The USVI is a great introduction to sailing for kids if they are interested in learning to sail. There are also many otions to go kayaking or stand up paddleboarding or even learning to windsurf or kiteboard

    Fishing charters offer an unique oportunity to fish the Puerto Rico Trench where you can find some of the best offshore fishing in the Caribbean, located only six miles from shore.

    Many operators offer snorkeling tours, day sailing catamaran trips and sunset sailing experiences. Private day charters are also available aboard both sail boats and powerboats.

  • USVI Bars

  • Shopping

    Charlotte Amalie is the main cruise ship port where the large cruise ships arrive and depart. In St. Thomas, you don’t pay sales tax, so it’s the perfect place to buy a luxury watch or jewelry. Charlotte Amalie is full of your more touristy shops that cater to the cruise ships, while St. John has some more boutique shopping with local shops that sell everything from board shorts and rash guards for men to swim suits and cover ups for women. In the USVI, you won’t wear or need much more than that, as even in the winter time, the evenings rarely get cold enough to require a sweater.

    On our week-long charter, we only stopped twice for shopping and to walk around, and my favorite spot was Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay in St. John. This small shopping center has a few bars and restaurants, but my favorite shop was Lulee, which carries all my favorite brands and where I bought a replacement pair of my favorite Agolde denim cut-offs.

  • Rum Tasting

    While we truthfully did not explore the USVI by land that much, we had been in the past when visiting by cruise ship and were told of the many rum distilleries on both St. Thomas and St. John. And just as any good Caribbean island should offer, a good bar and opportunity to taste a dozen rums abounds in the US Virgin Islands.

    One of country music’s most famous singers, Kenny Chesney, has a home on Cinnamon Bay in the USVI and often sings about island life and its plentiful drinks. Two of our favorite spots are the Windmill Bar on St. John, perched on a hilltop in an old sugar mill with live music and stunning views, and for a more refined wine tasting experience, try Kati Ligo in St. John, a cozy wine bar.

  • St John Shopping

Ritz Carlton St Thomas Aerial View

Where to Stay in the USVI

The Ritz Carlton St Thomas

The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas

The Ritz Carlton St. Thomas is perfect for families, multi-generational families (we saw a ton of large family groups during Christmas week), and even great for couples during non-holiday travel times.  The hotel is located on a small bay with a somewhat short beach and two pools.  One pool was originally redesigned to be adult-only, but the sales director told me that families werent having it and that they eventually gave in and have kids welcome at both pools.  Having said that, families with young and noisy kids tend to gravitate to the pool located next to the winding water slide, a new addition from the renovation.  Right next to the water slide pool is a fantastic kids club, where both indoor and outdoor activities are completely complimentary for ages 5-12.  Cabanas incur an extra cost and are located around both pools.

 Aside from the pools and beach, you also have tennis courts and a huge brand new gym with state of the art equipment.  You have an amazing spa, and fun boutique, and four restaurants.  To really add to the experience, I highly recommend a private beach dinner, where theyll set your table up under a romantic sea grape tree that sits on the beach.  It is the perfect spot to celebrate an anniversary or have a proposal. 

Lets talk about Club level at this Ritz Carlton hotel.  If youre a Marriott or Ritz Carlton loyalist, I am sure you are aware of club level by now.  The club level rooms give access to a special club lounge for its guests.  In my opinion, at some properties, this added benefit is well worth it and at other properties, its not worth the price difference.  At Ritz Carlton St. Thomas, the Club level is definitely worth it.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served buffet style with a wine and coffee bar, all complimentary to Club level guests.  They also have their own outdoor terrace space, so its almost like having access to your own exclusive restaurant that is completely free.

The cost of meals at a resort like this can really add up, so we saw plenty of families eating all their meals in the Club lounge.  Finally, Diego Travel is a preferred partner to Marriott STARS program, which includes all Ritz Carltons, so even if youre Bonvoy Ambassador Elite, you will still get additional perks when booking your Marriott stays with Diego Travel.  The only time these perks dont apply is when youre booking your stay using points.  

Book with Diego Travel to Receive the Following STARS Amenities:

  •  Welcome Amenity
  •  Complimentary Breakfast for 2 at Bleuwater Restaurant
  • $100 Hotel Credit
  • Complimentary Wi-FI
  • Priority Upgrade if Available
  • Priority Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
  • VIP Status with In-Person Warm Welcome
  • Diego Travel Welcome Box when Using the Travel Planning Service

Diego Travel Recommends Ritz Carlton St. Thomas For: Families | Destination Weddings | Couples Groups | Multi-Generational Families Corporate Groups | Incentive Groups

Where To Eat in US Virgin Islands?

  • Two US Virgin Islands favorites:

    Lime Out A floating taco bar based in Coral Bay, St. John.

    Pizza Pi A small boat with a pizza oven offering delivery by dinghy based in Christmas Cove, Little St. James.  They make gluten-free pizza too! Started by a couple who left their corporate world behind and covered a boat into a large pizza oven/delivery restaurant.  Talk about chasing your dreams!

  • Lovango Cay

  • Our favorite day and dinner experience:

    Lovango Cay A beach and pool club with limited daily memberships starting at $100 per person, private cabana rentals, and waterfront dining based off Lovango Cay.

  • Our other favorite food experiences:

    Dave and Jerry’s  Fine dining in St. John that offers excellent steaks and a ton of food.  We outdid ourselves!

    Prime Fine dining in St. Thomas, would recommend for a final evening on the dock if youre chartering a yacht or catamaran.  

     ZoZos Waterfront dining in Caneel Bay, St. John and also a happy hour option with live music and a cute gift shop.

    Skinny Legs This is a very local hang in St. John serving up burgers and drinks.  The name says it all for appropriate dress attire.

A Few of My Favorite Things

USVI

Beaches and Bays

Don’t miss Turtle Bay and Cinnamon Beach on St. Johns. Even though there are more tourists here than other areas, it’s for good reason. It’s so neat to swim with so many sea turtles and a unique experience to the USVI. Cinnamon Beach is long and with soft, white sand, perfect for a long beach walk and located where you have many multi-million dollar villas that are available for rental. Diego Travel can assist you with these villa rentals too. Little Lamashur Bay was less crowded and we saw sea turtles and sting rays there too.

Water Sports

One of the best things about chartering a yacht or catamaran with crew, is the direct access to a lot of sea toys like tubing, stand up paddle boarding, eFoils (we saw tons of these), kite surfing and water skiing or wake boarding right off the back our catamaran. Our kids had so much fun doing all of these things, that you could never get bored. So between gourmet meals prepared by our chef, Erika, our captain, Tyler, would take us out for fun on the water in between. Although, I have to admit that sometimes I would let my husband take the kids while I stayed behind on the quiet boat to read a good book (and work remotely).

The People

The community of US Virgin Islands is a huge boating community who love the water and the easy way of life. Though after witnessing how hard our crew worked aboard the boat throughout our week stay, I realized that they work hard and likely play harder. The people are very friendly, easy-going, and work hard to provide excellent service when you charter a yacht or catamaran. They come from all over the world to work on boats in the Caribbean, and most of them are well-traveled and well-educated, spending part of the year working very hard and able to take time off in their off season to travel to other places. I learned a lot from our crew, a couple who has been married 5 years and in the yachting industry for 10, and hope to someday charter with them again.

If you’re interested in a chartering a yacht or catamaran in the US Virgin Islands, or book the Ritz Carlton St. Thomas, I would be happy to provide you my guidance and match you with the perfect boat + crew or hotel accommodation. You can email me here to inquire.

 

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Commodore Perry Estate

Hotel Review: Commodore Perry Estate, an Auberge Hotel

Hotel Review

Commodore Perry Estate

An Auberge Hotel
MARIA DIEGO

A historical mansion set in an idyllic neighborhood near downtown Austin, Texas, the Commodore Perry Estate was redesigned by internationally renowned interior designer Ken Fulk and is the epitome of old world charm met with an eccentric twist of modern glamour. 

Perfect For: Small groups of friends | Girls weekend getaway or bachelor/bachelorette parties | Romantic Getaways | Weddings | A Stopover for Multi- Caribbean Island Vacation

30.3006,-97.7229

Commodore Perry Estate

Location: A 10-acre estate set in the heart of Austin, Texas.

Getting There: Just 15 minutes from Austin- Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).

Commodore Perry Estate Vibe

Vibe: Even though you’re just minutes from all the action of downtown Austin, Texas, the Commodore Perry Estate makes you feel like the houseguest of a European royal’s country estate, with elegant finishes and first-class service, with just the right amount of eclectic charm that keeps it feeling “Austin weird.” Fun activities like tarot card readings and live retro record sessions under the moonlight keep the scene young and fresh.

History: Edgar “Commodore” Perry was a beloved Austin historical figure who amassed his fortune in the cotton industry in the early 1920s. While golfing at the next-door golf course, Perry spotted a piece of land and decided to build what would become a welcoming estate for he and his wife, Lutie, to welcome guests from near and far and place Austin on the map as one of the best places to live. As a newly reimagined urban retreat, this hotel hopes to restore the liveliness and glamour that Commodore Perry and his wife bestowed on it nearly a century ago.

Commodore Perry Estate History
Bar at the Commodore Perry Estate

Perfect For:  Commodore Perry Estate is perfect for that romantic weekend getaway to enjoy the music scene of Austin, but retreat back to luxury and feel away from it all. I would also recommend it for a girls weekend getaway or bachelor/bachelorette parties, as well as groups of couples. With 54 rooms, it’s not uncommon to have a buy-out for a wedding or glamorous corporate affair or incentive trip, and Diego Travel is happy to assist with helping to make your stay magical, no matter how small or large your group size might be. The Mansion is made up of just 5 suites, so if you’re traveling with a small group of couples, it would be the ideal setting for a truly unique and unforgettable stay.

Accomodations: 54 total rooms and suites with plans to add new residences and a spa in the future.

Commodore Perry Estate Bathroom

Commodore Perry Estate Cofee

Food & Beverage: The outdoor patio at the Mansion serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serves as a social hub for the Austin socialite scene. If you’re wanting more exclusivity, the Garden Nook, Solarium and the Loggia of the Garden Restaurant are for Members and overnight guests of Commodore Perry Estate only. Lutie’s restaurant recently opened and is a buzzy space in a jungle green setting that serves farm-to-table food and hand-crafted cocktails. Finding space is an issue, so reserve your table well in advance. Food and drinks can also be served poolside, or of course in in-room dining where you can partake in an honor bar, set up with your preferences upon request prior to your arrival.

Wellness: The property is lacking a spa, so if you’re looking for a spa retreat, this is not the right fit for you. However, they provide a weekly wellness class schedule including pilates, yoga and nearby hiking. The concierge will be happy to set up a treatment at the nearby Springs or trip to the Herb Bar, where you will find personalized herbal elixirs for mind, body and soul.

Commodore Perry Estate Wellness

Commodore Perry Estate Pool

Activities: The experience of Commodore Perry Estate is as much about what you aren’t doing as what you are. The goal is not to fill your time with activities but rather disconnect to relish in fine spirits, delicious food, and interesting conversation, all while sitting back in a velvet settee with funky jazz softly playing in the background. Just like Mr. and Mrs. Perry would have done.

What  Sets  It  Apart: Recently voted the #1 resort hotel in Texas on Travel + Leisure’s 2021 World’s Best List (link that here), it’s with good reason that the Commodore Perry Estate stands out in a state whose slogan is “Go big or go home.” The property is intimate and small but leaves a large and lasting impression.

Commodore Perry Estate
Commodore Perry Estate

How Much Does Commodore Perry Cost? Nightly rates start at $609 for mid-week stays in low season to upwards of $6,500 for Mr. and Mrs. Perry’s Suite, the nicest and largest of the Mansion Suites.

Diego Travel Loves: The decor! If you don’t know about Ken Fulk , look him up and be ready to fall in love. It is truly a treat to stay here.

Ken Fulk
Diego Travel Amenities Commodore Perry Estate

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast Credit for two guests per bedroom ($70 per day, per room)
  • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable,
    not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Our preferred partnership with Auberge Resorts ensures that you will have priority upgrade and be flagged as a VIP for your stay. That’s something you won’t get booking online or with Amex Travel.

    Commodore Perry Insider Tips:

    There are only 2 rooms on property with bath tubs, so if you love a good soak, be sure to book your stay with Diego Travel so we get you into there right room. Also, there are no connecting rooms on property, so while this isn’t ideal for travel with young kids, a rollaway can be placed in certain rooms

    Commodore Perry Estate1

    Summary of Our Stay at Commodore Perry Estate:

    After time spent at both Miraval Austin and Lake Austin Spa Resort, I was ready to change it up and stay in the newly opened Commodore Perry Estate closer to the city center. The moment I arrived to the gravel driveway and was warmly greeted by the doorman, I knew I had come to the right place. The lobby is inviting with a soaring ceiling and hand-painted mural on the Mediterranean-inspired walls, which leads directly into a living room with cozy fireplace that’s inviting enough to say, “Come on in and stay awhile.” Perhaps with “y’all” at the end…I don’t know. We are in Texas.

    Commodore Perry Austin

    Aside from the extremely cool setting that will have your eyes glancing around each room to soak up all the details, there’s something intangibly special about the Estate. The property has procured local artisans to provide the details like the minibar snacks, the offerings on the liquor bar, and even a body oil left on your nightstand at the turndown service that will leave you dreaming in seconds. The scent, the textures, the combination of color – all of it adds to the mystique of Commodore Perry Estate and left me not wanting to leave.

    Commodore Perry Ken Fulk

    Shortly after check-in, I made my way down to the pool with a good book, where I sipped on a fancy cocktail that was topped with a fresh herb sprig plucked from the garden. There weren’t many others around, and everyone seemed to be basking in the glorious sound of silence around us, until the music started playing from the Garden Restaurant. A few chapters in and it was time to pull myself up from the yellow and white-striped lounge chair and change into something a little more fancy for a solo dinner on the patio. The music was just what you’d expect from one of the best destinations to enjoy live music. Divine. I was only sad not to be sharing it in the company of my husband or friends.

    Commodore Perry Estate Grounds

    Back at my room, I had one of the best night’s sleep in my life, and I love the red satin eye mask that was provided along with the body oil. I’m not a vampire, but I might have been one in my past life, because a solid black out in any hotel room definitely gains instant bonus points in my book.

    Breakfast brought more delicious food with a goat cheese yogurt on a bed of ice, topped with frozen fruit and grapes. Drizzed in local Austin honey. Yum! My mouth waters just thinking about it and I would return just for that breakfast. Even better enjoyed solo to the sound of silence. Sometimes a weekend sans my kids is just what I need. Does that make me a bad mom? Maybe. But I came home refreshed and with my batteries recharged, ready to take on the role of Super Mom and Master Travel Advisor at once.

    Commodore Perry Estate Austin Texas

    Since my stay, I’ve been happy to send clients for anniversary weekends, birthday celebrations, and a visit for no reason at all, and everyone has come away just as relaxed and content as I did. It’s safe to say that you will love it too, and I’d be happy to guide you through selecting the room that speaks to your soul and puts you right in the mood for the perfect Austin weekend.

    Let’s Get Planning!

    Getting to Austin Texas


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    Hotel Review-Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Hotel Review: Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Hotel Review

    Montage Palmetto Bluff

    A Luxury Resort IN SOUTH CAROLINA
    MARIA DIEGO

    Montage Palmetto Bluff is located 30 minutes outside of Savannah, Georgia in Bluffton, South Carolina. It is a private, exclusive resort destination that is the perfect vacation for the whole family in the most beautiful, picturesque setting. 

    Perfect For: Families | Multigenerational Travel | Romantic Getaways | Weddings

    Palmetto Bluff South Carolina

    32.2038,-80.8840

    Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Location: Palmetto Bluff, in Bluffton, South Carolina, 18 miles north of Savannah, Georgia.

    Getting ThereMontage Palmetto Bluffs closest airport is Savannah, Georgia, but you can also fly into Hilton Head, which are about a 35 minute drive to the property (airport codes HHH or HXD). 

    Tree at Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Vibe: Montage Palmetto Bluff is a picturesque resort set within a sprawling 20,000-acre development in Bluffton, South Carolina. The community is made up of tree-lined rows of 2- story brick houses with white picket fences and gas-lit lamp posts. It’s a step back in time to another era where you can fully disconnect and enjoy the natural surroundings of the South.

    History: The area of Palmetto Bluff is steeped in a rich history, with the original mansion that is now owned by Montage Palmetto Bluff belonging to the Wilson family in the 1920s. Nobody knows how, but the original mansion burned down in 1926, and there’s a record that Mrs. Wilson ran into the burning building to salvage her shoe collection, tossing the shoes out of the second-story window out to the grassy lawn below. The Wilson family pet cemetery can also still be found on property. The area of Palmetto Bluff used to be a hunting and fishing retreat up until the 1950s. Pat Conroy is a beloved writer of the area, and his memoir, The Water is Wide, tells the story of the area, if you’re interested in the history.

    Palmetto Bluff Vibe

    Accomodations: 200 resort accommodations with more private residences being added

    • La Samanna Rooms

    • Rooms at Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Lunch at Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Food & Beverage: Montage Palmetto Bluff currently has 7 restaurants that are quite spread out around the property, so it is helpful to reserve based on the activities you will be doing for that day. I also recommend a golf cart rental, to easily get around the area without having to rely on the transportation provided by the resort. The Canoe Club is a more formal option for dinner and one that I highly recommend booking well in advance. Octagon is the restaurant in the main inn, where you will likely eat most of your breakfast meals, particularly if they come included with your stay as they do when you book with Diego Travel..

    Wellness: Spa Montage provides a full service salon and spa that caters to the many wedding groups they have and offers a private pool, exclusive to guests of the spa. They also have a steam room and sauna located in the ladies’ and men’s locker rooms that you can enjoy before your relaxing treatments that use Valmont and Tata Harper skin care products.

    Spa at Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Clay Shooting Lessons At Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Things to Do at Palmetto Bluff: Montage Palmetto Bluff offers tennis, golf, biking, and boating, among other activities for grown ups and kids. Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club is located about 10-15 minutes from property is offers clay shooting and air rifle for kids. Families can also enjoy the several tree houses around property, the Paintbox kids club program, and the Montage Merit Badges that kids can receive as they complete each of the unique programs on property. The resort has 3 different pools that can be used exclusively by Montage Palmetto Bluff guests, thought Bluffton itself has others that can be used by homeowners.

    What  Sets  It  Apart: Montage Palmetto Bluff is your ideal destination for your group event such a wedding, corporate retreat or incentive trip. It really is its own township and offers versatile accommodations that would be a good fit for any group. Ever since Justin Bieber was married on property, it’s been in high-demand for destination weddings, for its picturesque and fairytale setting.

    Church at Montage Palmetto Bluff
    Palmetto Bluff Horses

    How Much Does Montage Palmetto Bluff Cost? How much does it cost? Nightly rates start around $495 in low season for a forest view King room in the main inn and go upwards of $4,000 for multi-bedroom residences.

    Diego Travel Loves: The ease and convenience of having everything right there. You really don’t need to leave the Bluff to explore outside; though we recommend chartering a boat (contact us to reserve yours!) to explore the local islands that can only be accessed by boat.

    Montage Palmetto Bluff Boat Charters
    Diego Travel Extras at Montage Palmetto Bluff

    Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

    • $100+ resort credit
    • Daily breakfast credit
    • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

      Montage Palmetto Bluff Insider Tips:

      You can do a guided day to Daufuskie Island and learn about the rich local history and culture, while enjoying lunch at a delicious local spot, or you can arrange an oyster roast on nearby Paige Island. When you book your stay with Diego Travel, we can include these experiences to make your stay truly unique and unforgettable.

      Insider Tips at Montage Palmetto Bluff

      Summary of Our Stay at HMontage Palmetto Bluff:

      I decided to plan my birthday weekend to Montage Palmetto Bluff at the end of August since it’s a destination that I book often, but had never experienced for myself. The flight schedule was perfect, so we were able to enjoy a long weekend without the kids missing any school. The immense live oak trees on the drive into the Bluff are breathtaking, and the rows of gas-lit iron lamp posts signal that you’re near arrival as you pull up to the recreation of the historical Wilson mansion. Everyone was friendly, and while we waited briefly to check-in, the kids ran back and forth on the expansive green lawn to get their pent-up energy out from the short flight.

      Montage Palmetto Bluff 2

      The first night we had dinner at Buffalo’s, aptly named for the buffalos that use to roam the property prior to it becoming a development. Service was friendly and the food looked delicious, but our plates were hit or miss in terms of taste. The atmosphere was lively, and you definitely need a dining reservation for every meal when visiting Montage Palmetto Bluff, especially because guests are welcome from both residences and off the Bluff. I recommend booking dinners at least a month out for best availability.

      Montage Palmetto Bluff Sunset

      Our creek view cottage was spacious – more space than we’re accustomed to when traveling with our 3 kids – since we were upgraded at time of booking, which is what you’ll also receive when booking your stay with Diego Travel. Because we didn’t have time to pick up our golf cart the previous night, we waited quite a bit of time for a ride to the tennis courts on our first morning, which made us a bit late for the kids’ tennis lessons. However, the resort was extremely apologetic and comped our tennis lessons. Had we known the lay of the land, we also could have walked, but I do recommend having the golf cart set up from arrival, as it’s much easier to get around property with the kids. If you’re traveling without kids, you can probably just have the bike rentals, which would be a fun way to get from each point.

      Tennis Lessons at Montage Palmetto Bluff

      After tennis, we enjoyed breakfast at Octagon’s, and then had time to visit the pool by the Canoe Club in the afternoon. We saw alligators in both the lagoon and over by the Canoe Club, so be careful with letting your little ones get too close!

      I wanted to experience as much as possible, so I signed up for activities in advance from shooting, to a boat charter, to the spa, and enjoyed all of them as my clients would. My main takeaway is that it takes a very long time to get from one point to another as everything is much more spread out than I had envisioned, so be sure to allow enough time between meals and activities. And also remember that you’re in the South, so the pace is slow!

      Aerial view of Montage Palmetto Bluff

      Our second night we had dinner at Cole’s, which is in the Moreland area where the evening kids club is located and the bowling alley. While the kids enjoyed that, we had dinner with our 4- year-old since kids have to be 5 to enjoy the kids club. Our Southern dinner was delicious, particularly my husband’s fried chicken plate. We highly recommend! At the end of the night, we caught the shuttle back to the main inn, where we met our older kids at the s’mores station where they were on their 2nd or 3rd gluten-free s’mores. They did not want to turn in!

      S’mores Station

      Montage Palmetto Bluff was a perfect long weekend to have some fun activities with the kids, with something for everyone. My clients who belong to country clubs or tennis and golf clubs love it because it offers world-class facilities to play all of these sports. While I don’t personally play tennis or golf, I appreciated the great lessons that my kids had, but we particularly loved the day out on the boat that we enjoyed with Captain Gio. He was a fantastic guide and shared stories from the area that we would never have experienced had we not done the boat charter. I would be thrilled to set up my clients with Gio to do some of these unique experiences to see the area from a different perspective.

      Palmetto Bluff Waterways

      When you plan your trip, reach out to us and we will take care of all the details while getting you all the added amenities, whether you’re planning a visit for your honeymoon or for your company retreat. We can assist with it all.

      Let’s Get Planning!

      Palmetto Bluff South Carolina


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      Palmetto Bluff vs Sea Island

      The Difference Between Montage Palmetto Bluff and The Cloister at Sea Island

      The Difference Between Montage Palmetto Bluff and The Cloister at Sea Island

      MARIA DIEGO

      A Diego Travel agency and Virtuoso client favorite domestic destination has always been both Montage Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina and The Cloister and The Lodge of Sea Island, Georgia – two luxury resorts that parallel in both style, size, and type of clientele that visit both resorts.  If you are undecided between which of these Virtuoso vacation properties might be right for you, we are here to point you in the right direction.  In addition to helping our clients navigate the differences between these two luxury resorts, as a proud affiliate of Departure Lounge, we also offer our clients many benefits in booking with Diego Travel at both hotels.

      • Resort Credit added to your stay
      • Daily complimentary breakfast (for 2 people per room)
      • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
      • Priority room upgrade when available
      • Personalized trip planning to make the most out of your vacation (when utilizing our trip planning service)
      • Custom Diego Travel welcome box with goodies for new clients who opt to utilize our trip planning service

      Both Montage Palmetto Bluff and Sea Island are the perfect destinations for a family vacation, a multi-generational vacation that includes grandparents, parents, kids, aunts, uncles, etc, a girlfriends spa getaway, a domestic honeymoon, or even to host your large corporate group or event.  So how do you know which property is right for you?  Well, that is what we are here for, to break down the two.

      Getting There

      Montage Palmetto Bluffs closest airport is Savannah, Georgia, but you can also fly into Hilton Head, which are about a 35 minute drive to the property (airport codes HHH or HXD).  To get to Sea Island, Georgia, you would fly into either Jacksonville, Florida or Savannah, Georgia, and will be about 45-55 minutes from Sea Island.  If you plan to fly private, there are FBOs very close to either property, BQK for Sea Island, which will put you at about a 5-10 minute drive.

      How to Get to Montage Palmetto Bluff and Sea Island

      • 32.208,-80.8843

        Montage Palmetto Bluff

      • 31.2002,-81.3332

        Sea Island, Georgia

        Sea Island, Georgia

      Why you should plan a trip to:

      Montage Palmetto Bluff Waterways

      Montage Palmetto Bluff

      • There are 200 guest accommodations/rooms at Montage Palmetto Bluff, along with residences that are part of the resorts rental program (they are privately owned, but fully serviced).
      • Rooms range from a Forest View King without Balcony (which you will never be in if you book your stay with Diego Travel, as you get upgrade at time of booking) in the Main Inn to 5-bedroom residences.
      • Montage Palmetto Bluff offers tennis, golf, biking, and boating, among other activities.
      • There are 8 dining experiences and 3 different pools.
      • Activities include cycling, horseback riding, hiking, boating, water and paddle sports, fly-fishing, bird-watching, sporting clays, carriage rides and archery.

      Sunset The Lodge at Sea Island

      Sea Island

      • Sea Island also has 200 guest room accommodations, plus many vacation home rentals.
      • Rooms range from River View King rooms in the Cloister to 4-5 Bedroom residences at The Lodge.  Privately-owned residences can be rented through the Sea Island Cottage Rental program, which you can find more information on my blog here.
      • Sea Island has something for everyone, with exclusive adults-only areas if you want to experience a romantic honeymoon, to accommodations for multi-generational families
      • The 65,000-square-foot Forbes Five Star Spa at Sea Island is far superior to the spa experience at Montage Palmetto Bluff, so if this is important to you, then opt for Sea Island.
      • Activities include diverse activities like tennis and squash, destination picnics, fitness classes, five miles of private beach, bike riding, 3 world-class golf courses and home to the PGA Tours RSM Classic, sporting clays, and sport shooting at the nearby Broadfield property, fishing, boating, water and paddle sports, along with many culinary experiences.

      What Is The Highlight at:

      Palmetto Bluff vs Sea Island

      Palmetto Bluff

      Montage Palmetto Bluff is situated along a winding wetlands in the picturesque town of Palmetto Bluff, a one-stop-shop for convenience for the whole family.  You dont need to leave the community throughout your entire stay, as they offer a variety of restaurants, biking, horseback riding, shooting, golfing, fishing and boating.  Though if you want to, youre a short drive to Savannah and Hilton Head.  The best part of our time at Montage Palmetto Bluff was getting out on the water by boat, and exploring the different islands.

      Palmetto Bluff vs Sea Island

      Sea Island

      Sea Island is an oceanfront front private island, unlike Palmetto Bluff which is located along a delta. To access Sea Island you must be a guest or home owner, which makes it a slightly more exclusive experience. Sea Island has a beautiful long beach and offers a broad range of activities including biking, golfing, shooting, paddleboarding, horseback riding, fishing and boating. In addition to several on property restaurants, there are many dining and shopping options at nearby St Simons island.

      Who Should Visit?

      Montage Palmetto Bluff Pool

      Palmetto Bluff

      Palmetto Bluff is a great destination for those wanting to immerse themselves in southern charm and enjoy winding waterways that frame this picturesque destination. Outdoor enthusiast can explore miles of bike and walking trails, go horseback riding, play tennis or explore miles of waterways by boat.

       Palmetto Bluff is ideal for large, traditional family gatherings, or a romantic escape for couples who are just looking to disconnect to reconnect.  We saw a bit of everything from couples, to bachelorette/girlfriends gatherings, to families with young children and grandparents.  Because they have accommodations for everyone, it makes it very easy.

      Sea Island

      Sea Island

      Sea Island offers miles of uncrowded beaches at the Beach Club, secluded hunting at Broadfield, world class golfing at the Lodge and old world charm and elegance at the Cloister.

      While youll find everyone from families with small children, to couples celebrating their anniversary, to newlyweds on their honeymoon, Sea Island has an accommodation that will work best for you.  If you choose to celebrate your honeymoon here, youll be joining 40,000 other couples who have done so (including my grandparents!).  I would never place honeymooners in the Beach Club, just like I would not likely place a family with small children in the rooms at the Lodge.  Its best to consult with me in order to select the right fit for you.

      Need Help Deciding Which One Is Right For You?

      We are always here to walk our clients through questions, itineraries, and custom trip planning. If you really cant decide which property youll enjoy more, then we say why not enjoy both?! We have planned trips for families to enjoy one property for 3-4 nights and then drive to the other property for 3-4 nights to experience the best of both worlds. You can easily spend a few days at each, but keep in mind that during peak seasons, youll want to book well in advance for getting your top choice of accommodations at both Sea Island and Montage Palmetto Bluff. You can schedule a call to answer any questions and start planning your next escape to Montage Palmetto Bluff or Sea Island. We cant wait to make your stay extra special!


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      LOCAL BUSINESS BUZZ WINNER: DIEGO TRAVEL

      Local Business Buzz: Diego Travel

      305 HIVE
      November 11, 2021

      Presenting our November local business Buzz winner!

      Our Local Business Buzz winner for November is Maria Diego of Diego Travel. After thirteen years in the travel industry, Maria and her husband Miguel started their own travel firm in 2019. They are luxury travel advisors who work with clients and families across our community and from many different schools. Maria loves getting to know people and understanding their stories to better curate travel that speaks to their souls. Her passion is creating unforgettable experiences that turn into life-long memories. Maria also works closely with the C4 Foundation, a non-profit that is near and dear to her heart. The foundation supports Navy SEALS and their families, and Maria assists with their travel needs. Visit Diego Travel’s website to learn more about their services. Maria is eager to save you time while helping you to have the best vacation of your life!

      Read the 305 HIVE Article

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      Diego Travel LLC is an independent affiliate of Departure Lounge, a proud member of Virtuoso.

      © 2021 Diego Travel LLC

      Florida Seller of Travel #ST40923