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Hotel Review: Isla Bella Beach Resort

Diego Travel Hotel Review

Isla Bella Beach Resort

A Barefoot Luxury Resort in the Florida Keys
MARIA DIEGO

One of the best ways to experience the Florida Keys, Isla Bella Beach Resort is a 199-room resort that is located between Islamorada and Key West, just at the threshold of the iconic Seven Mile Bridge. Completely renovated in 2020, Isla Bella sets a new standard for modern luxury resorts in the Florida Keys, and provides a one-stop shop for your perfect beach vacation.

Perfect For: Families | Weddings | Multi-Generational Families | Bachelorette and Bachelor Parties | Couples | Boaters | Divers | Fishing

ISLA BELLA BEACH RESORT

Isla Bella

Location:

24.70539615,-81.1195734631537

Florida Keys

Isla Bella Beach Resort

Only a 1-hour drive (or 45 miles) from Key West International Airport (EYW) or a 2 hour 30 minute drive (or 115 miles) from Miami International Airport (MIA). We recommend renting a car, and when possible, flying into Key West and out of Miami.

7 Mile Bridge

Vibe:

We traveled to the Florida Keys frequently, since my parents lived there for 15 years.  Isla Bella Beach Resort was a welcome addition, as the Keys were sorely lacking in luxury hotel options.  Aside from Little Palm Island, which is adults only, Isla Bella Beach Resort is one of only a handful of resorts that we recommend to our clients traveling to the Keys.

While this is a nearly 200-room resort, the property is expansive, particularly for the Florida Keys, sitting on one mile of waterfront.  One thing to note is that the Florida Keys does not have any natural beaches, so any sandy beaches you find will have rock retaining walls or be man-made.  Fortunately, Isla Bella Beach Resort has a beach where you can wade into the water.

With the new renovation, Isla Bella Beach Resort is a premiere beach resort in Florida and the Florida Keys.  With its 5 oceanfront pools, there is a spot for everyone, whether you want to remain with an adults-only vibe, or join the kid-friendly areas of the resort.

The rooms and common areas are light, white and bright, with blue nautical accents that are perfect for the tropical blues of the Keys.

ACCOMMODATIONS:

Isla Bella Rooms

There are 14 different room and suite categories at Isla Bella Beach Resort, ranging from oceanfront balcony rooms to luxe beachside suites.  They also have a myriad of connectivity options, so when traveling with multiple families or kids, there is something for everyone.  When booking with Diego Travel, we can advise you not only on what room category will be best for you, but also where you’ll be most likely to get upgraded. 

Isla Bella Accommodations

We always love the beachside rooms, as you have a larger terrace and direct access to the beach and pools, whereas when you are in a balcony room, you will need to access through the hallway and elevator or stairs.

FOOD & BEVERAGE:

  • The Florida Keys is not particularly well-known for its cuisine.  A lot of fried catch-of-the-day and a concentrated interest in beverages often referenced in Jimmy Buffet songs, my expectations weren’t high for the food offerings at Isla Bella Beach Resort.  However, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and variety of meal options.   

  • Isla Bella-Restaurants

  • Isla Bella-Food and Beverage

  • Mahina is their Polynesian-inspired and main restaurant, where I loved the Hawaaiian Style Ahi Poke and their crafted cocktails (for me, a mocktail!) at the bar that overlooks the ocean.  They also recently opened a new dining outlet, Sushi Cabana, that seats 55 underneath outdoor palm trees and umbrellas. 

  • The Marketplace is another eatery that provides grab-and-go snacks, drinks, and goodies to take home.  In this 5,000-square-foot open floor plan building, you can grab breakfast and schedule your day’s plan at the Watersports Activity Center, which is conveniently located right on property.

  • Isla Bella-Marketplace

ACTIVITIES:

  • One of my family’s favorite things about the Florida Keys is getting out on the water. I always tell people that if they’re visiting the Florida Keys for a great beach, they’ve selected the wrong destination.  The Florida Keys is unparalleled for domestic boating – snorkeling, fishing, sailing, scuba diving, kayaking and even stand up paddle boarding in the Florida mangroves.

  • Isla Bella-Boating

  • Isla Bella-Activities

  • Aside from watersports activities and lounging by the pool, we always recommend a day trip to Key West and one to Islamorada.  Clients who book their hotel stay with Diego Travel to use our custom trip planning to create a bespoke itinerary or read our Florida Keys Destination Guide for our dining and activity recommendations for the Florida Keys.
  • Isla Bella also offers an on-property activities schedule that includes fun things like beachfront yoga, sandcastle building, and gelato happy hours.  They also have activities for the adults like paint & sip for those 21 and up.

  • Plan My Trip To Isla Bella

    Plan My Trip To Isla Bella

WELLNESS:

The spa at at Isla Bella Beach Resort is light and airy, and they offer a full treatment menu from massages to facials.  They also have a special place for brides and bridal parties to get ready before a destination wedding.  The 4,000-square-foot spa has 5 treatment rooms with a steam room located in both the men’s and women’s locker rooms.  While next to the spa, they have a 1,000-square-foot fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment.

What  Sets  It  Apart:

Isla Bella Beach Resort Marketplace

This resort truly makes it easy!  The on-site marina is super convenient, so that you don’t have to drive off property to get to a boat.  In Islamorada, most resorts will require a short drive to a nearby marina, but I really like the fact that Isla Bella’s boat charters are right there. 

For families, Isla Bella is ideal for its room configurations.  No other property in the Florida Keys compares, and some rooms even have a kitchenette for those extended stays when you want to have some meals ‘at home.’  Rooms have a fresh, clean feel, which you don’t get at a lot of other properties.

Isla Bella-Diego Travel Guide

Diego Travel Loves…

In addition to everything already mentioned in this article about the Florida Keys, we love that this resort is a great destination for those who want a Caribbean vacation without needing a passport.  From the occasional steel drum bands you’ll find in the Keys, to the outdoor, laid-back easy vibe it offers, you can have a great sunshine-filled vacation without breaking the bank or leaving the country. 

Isla Bella Beach Resort Marketplace

How Much Does it Cost?

Rates start as low as $295/night for the entry-level rooms, but during high seasons can go up to $1500/night.  The good news is, as a member of Virtuoso, our clients receive exclusive access to promotional rates, as well as daily breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, and priority upgrade with your stay.  If you’re considering staying at Isla Bella, email us (hyperlink) to ask if there are any exclusive offers that are not available to the public.

Isla Bella Resort

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom, served in the restaurant
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort 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
  • Exclusive offers not available to the public

Book Isla Bella With Perks

Diego Travel Insider Tips:

Request rooms somewhere near the middle blocks. You’re far enough away from the main building to avoid the noisier areas, but not too far away to walk to the main restaurants and marina. 

You can do a guided run on the newly opened pedestrian stretch of the bridge that spans 2.2 miles. The guide has lived in the Keys for 14 years and while you run or jog together, he can provide insight to his favorite recommendations for the Keys. 

The cabanas are worth the splurge!  You’ll have poolside service and includes a Pelican cooler with drinks (8 alcoholic, 4 non-alcoholic, and 4 popsicles). The cost is $550 from 9 AM to 6 PM and accommodates up to 4 people.

Isla Bella Pool


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The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys

Why Your Next Vacation Should Be in The Florida Keys
MARIA DIEGO

February 3, 2024 

The Florida Keys are made up of 5 main keys that start at Key Largo, followed by Islamorada, then Marathon, then the Lower Keys and finally Key West. To drive from Miami to Key West takes about 3 hours, so all the Keys can be covered in one trip. The Florida Keys have had recent renovations to Little Palm Island and Cheeca Lodge & Spa and notable additions to the luxury hotel lineup over the last five years including Isla Bella Beach Resort, Tranquility Bay Beachfront Resort and The Islands of Islamorada.

Perfect For: Romantic Getaways | Honeymoons & Anniversaries | Fishermen | Scuba Divers

The Florida Keys Family Travel Guide

SS Truman

Getting There

Fly: From 1.5-3 hours by car from Miami International Airport MIA) or fly into Key West International (EYW). Alternatively all of the keys are accesible by private yacht or sailboat..

Recommended Stay: Weekend getaway to one week.

Elevation: 0 feet

Best Time of Year to Visit: March to November

The Florida Keys
  • 24.9780,-80.5497

    Isla Morada

  • 24.7110,-81.0897

    Marathon

  • 24.6237,-81.4007

    Little Palm Island

What to do

The biggest misconception about the Florida Keys is that there are plenty of sandy beaches. I hate to break it to you, but there’s not! The Keys are all about getting out on a boat for fishing, snorkeling, cruises and exploring marine and wildlife. The nightlife can be pretty great too, if you visit at the right times of the year.

  • Snorkeling

    From Key Largo to Key West, the dive spots in the Florida Keys are numerous and plentiful with fish and protected sea life. With dive spots like Hens and Chickens or Looe Key, your best bet is to go with a guide that can take you to a spot where you will see the most fish while snorkeling. Also, there are spots better suited for children if you’re traveling as a family. We also like taking stand up paddle boards with a few masks and snorkels and swimming in shallow areas in the bayside.

  • Fishing

    There are seasons for catching lobster and certain types of fish, and they have to meet size criteria prior to catching them. The local Coast Guard will pull you over and check your cooler, measuring each and every fish – it’s happened to us on more than one occasion – so unless you’re an experienced fisherman with a boat in the Keys, it’s best to leave it to the professionals and hire a company that specializes in fishing while you visit. An expert fishing captain will be able to take you to the right spot whether bottom fishing or trolling, and the Keys is a whole lot of water to take a shot in the dark.

  • Sunset Cruises and Sailing

    Another option if you’re not a huge fan of fishing is sailing or a sunset cruise. I am the black sheep in my family because I am the only one who isn’t a huge fan of spear fishing, free diving and line fishing. I usually stick to the boat, unless the water is over 80 degrees or I’m getting too sea sick from rough seas to stay on the boat. Then I go in for a swim. What I love most about boats is riding at sunset, especially on a calm day. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss while in the Florida Keys, is catching a sunset from either a boat or the view at Pierre’s or Morada Bay (more on that later).

  • Marine & Wildlife Sanctuaries

    If you love animals or are traveling with children, youre not going to want to miss a visit to a Wildlife Sanctuary.  While there are too many to count, the Florida Keys Wildlife and Environmental Area offers a hammock forest, coastal rock and mangroves with hiking, cycling and paddling trails.  The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in Key Largo and the Turtle Hospital in Marathon are two other must-sees and personal favorites.  Plus, each time you visit one of these places, the entry fee goes toward their maintenance costs so that you can help continue their mission.

Where to Stay in The Florida Keys

Little Palm Island

Little Palm Island

I wrote a whole blog on Little Palm Island because it’s just that special of a place. Little Palm Island is the only private island resort in the United States and an adults-only hotel, perfect for a weekend getaway, a honeymoon, or to celebrate an anniversary. With 30 suites that dot the perimeter of the island, every suite has a gorgeous ocean view. The resort just underwent a massive post-hurricane renovation and now features all-new cozy, romantic suites. The impeccable attention to every detail in its design is reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway and his era.

What you get when you book with Diego Travel:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Full breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom, served in restaurant or via in-room dining
  • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit 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

Promotions Available for Diego Travel Clients:

Stay 4 nights and pay for only 3 nights!

*Book by February 29, 2024, for stays through December 26, 2024. Exclusions and blackout dates apply.

Isla Bella

Isla Bella Resort

Isla Bella Resort is a new property featuring 199 oceanfront suites. It’s very rare to find a resort with all ocean views, but Isla Bella did it beautifully. With a name meaning Beautiful Island, what more would you expect? The rooms and suites are spacious and airy, decorated bright white with accents of coastal blue. They come in a variety of options, from one and two-bedroom guest rooms to suites with a kitchenette, making an extended stay very practical. What I love most are the first floor rooms that have direct access to the oceanfront sand and pools. You have your own oceanfront porch where you can sit outside, read a book, and watch guests ride back and forth on the property bicycles. These ground floor options also allow for social-distancing, as you wouldn’t need to enter through common areas like the hallways or elevators.

Isla Bella’s property is large, with a “town square” area that consists of a large marketplace with a cafe, the spa, conference space, and retail shopping with the cutest beach and resort wear and any pool toys and floaties your kids might need. One of the coolest things about Isla Bella is its Watersports Activity Center. Like I mentioned earlier in the blog, if you haven’t gotten out on the water, then you haven’t experienced the Keys. Isla Bella offers all the water sports right there for your convenience with brand new boats, fishing equipment and even jet ski and kayak rentals. They are top-notch professionals and I highly recommend a stay here just to make use of this amazing water sports center.

What you get when you book with Diego Travel:

  • Priority upgrade to next room category at check in, subject to availability
  • Daily Full breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom, served in the restaurant
  • $100 Resort Credit, Per Stay
  • Priority early check In & late check out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

4th Night Free on Premium Rooms in the Florida Keys

Isla Bella Beach Resort & Spa is excited to extend Diego Travel clients a 4th Night Free Promotion, on select premium guestrooms & suites, valid for stays through December 19, 2024!

Tranquility Bay Beachfront Resort

Tranquility Bay Beachfront Resort

Far from the crowds and tourist traps, yet within reach of the area’s best attractions, Tranquility Bay is a tropical escape situated in 12 waterfront acres in the heart of the Florida Keys.

Located one mile up the road from Isla Bella. Tranquility Bay offers a laid back vibe and an excellent alternative to vacation rentals. The property offers mostly 2 & 3-bedroom water/beach front Townhomes with full kitchens. The resort features 3 pools, minigolf course, beach bar and one of Marathon’s most popular restaurants, Butterfly Café.

What you get when you book with Diego Travel:

  • Discounted Rates

  • Daily $30 Food & Beverage Credit

The Cloister at Sea Island

The Islands of Islamorada

The Islands of Islamorada are in the heart of downtown Islamorada, close to the best restaurants and shops. I toured them prior to completion and let me tell you, these luxury private villas are guaranteed to be the place to stay in the Florida Keys. Each 3-story private villa has 3 spacious king bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms plus a fourth bunk or twin room. 11 of the villas come with an elevator and the open floor plan with full kitchen, dining and living room look out to the ocean. Swoon!

The Palm Beach area owners were thoughtful in not only the interior design, but the exterior design and landscape architecture. Each villa has privacy from the others, while all guests can enjoy communal spaces like an open beach, pool, and the Ocean House bar. Soon to be completed will be a restaurant and a new area of smaller 1-bedroom beach villas. I can also help coordinate docking your boat at their private marina during your stay. You’ll have direct ocean access to get out there fishing early each morning!

This is the perfect chic destination to come with the whole multi-generational family, for an extended family vacation. Each unit has a two car garage and wash machine/dryer, so it’d be easy to stay for a month or longer. Heck, I think I might just move in.

Ocean residences

Cheeca Lodge & Spa

Cheeca Lodge & Spa is one of the better known resorts in the Florida Keys and with good reason.  With an expansive ocean view, a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, spa and now 5 pools, they make it easy and convenient.  The rooms vary widely from golf course view rooms to ocean-front suites, so tread with care and definitely use a travel advisor (that’s me!).  The in-the-know professionals know which rooms to ask for, with one suite in particular that stands out from the rest.  And no, I’ll never tell!  I reserve that suite for Diego Travel clients.  It’s also important to know that only the golf course view rooms are pet-friendly, so if you are planning on traveling with your furry family member, be sure to book this room. 

Cheeca Lodge & Spa recently purchased oceanfront casitas and bungalows, formerly part of The Moorings property.  These exclusive villas have their own pool, tennis court and beach (yes, actual beach!  On of the few real beaches in The Florida Keys and private too).  Two of these two-bedroom villas are beachfront, while the others are set back further on the property.  The great thing about these casitas is that guests have access to all of the amenities and restaurants at Cheeca, but guests at Cheeca do not have access to this area.  So, think of it as your semi-private VIP area but with additional resort amenities to enjoy like more pool options, golf, restaurants and of course the spa.

What you get when you book with Diego Travel:

  • Upgrade upon arrival if available
  • Daily complimentary breakfast for 2
  • $100 resort credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out

Book Your Florida Keys Hotel With Perks

The Georgian Room

Where to eat?

  • Key Lime Pie

    Let’s not beat around the bush and get straight to the good stuff – what the Florida Keys is best known for – key lime pie!  You may even want to taste-test your way down the Keys.  My kids and I are gluten-free, so I’d start my list with Key West Key Lime Pie Co.  They ship too!  Other Key West notables are Pepe’s Cafe and Old Town Bakery. 

    Further up the Keys is a locals’ favorite at the Green Turtle Inn, and whether you’re getting the key lime pie on the menu or anything else, you just can’t go wrong.  They are the same owners of the nearby Kayo Grill and SushiKayo Grill and Sushi, that has The best sushi I have had in the Florida.  Back to key lime pie though…A final mention is either of Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen’s two locations near Key Largo.  The key lime pie is to die for!

  • Fresh Fish and Seafood

    When you’re not eating dessert first, you may want to choose the catch of the day off of every menu.  Atlantic’s Edge at Cheeca for a fancier dinner with killer views or Islamorada Fish Company are two favorites for a fresh catch.  Some more casual, only-the-locals-go spots can be found at the Cuban restaurant Habano’s on the Creek (when you’re starving and coming back in from a fishing trip), Made 2 Order Cafe (another pull-up-in-your-boat for a quick lunch), or the Galley Grill between Key West and Little Palm Island. 

  • Restaurants With a View

    If the view is what you’re after, which you should be in the Keys, then you can’t miss these spots.  Hit Morada Bay or Pierre’s for their monthly Full Moon party – it falls on the Saturday nearest to the full moon of each month.  With a sunset view and an area of sand to party post-dinner, you can’t miss this monthly event.  Latitudes at the Westin in Key West has beautiful sunset views as well.

Plan my trip to the Florida Keys

A Few of My Favorite Things

The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is different for everyone. Depending on if you want a resort that you land at and never leave, or your prefer to venture out and spend little time at your hotel, will determine the area that is right for you. My family has had a home in the Florida Keys for 15+ years, so the amount of time I’ve spend exploring each Key gives me an advantage while planning travel that is perfect for you.

Islamorada of The Florida Keys

My family’s home is located just north of Islamorada, in Tavernier. Islamorada happens to be my favorite spot in the Keys, just because I like the combination of bayside and oceanside boating there, and the array of top-notch restaurants and fun little shops. I’ll never forget bumping into Martha Stewart at Ocean Gardens where you can find Hemingway-era nautical antiques and a vast collection of hard-to-find shells. My dad wasn’t shy and struck up a conversation with her about the Florida Keys and what she loves about visiting. She told us that Ocean Gardens is always a must-see, so there you go!

Location

Key Largo is about one hour south of the southern most part of Miami, while Key West takes a full 3 hours to reach. So to drive from the northern-most key to the southern-most key takes about 2-2.5 hours, depending on traffic. The roadway is a 2-way lane, so holiday weekends can see traffic back up for hours. Locations are described by the locals as being at Mile Marker “__”, with the Key West starting at Mile Marker 0 and working its way up. So when you stop to ask for directions and you’re told, it’s at MM 87, you’ll know in which direction you need to head. It’s only North or South in the Keys!

Activities

Aside from the daytime activities I already listed, you can’t miss watching a sunset with a live band playing in the background. The Keys food is known for being fried, unhealthy, and yummy, and the drink menu plentiful. So plop yourself down at a bayside restaurant somewhere along the strip (my favorite is Pierre’s, at MM 82), order a drink, and relax. It’s also the perfect spot for a small destination wedding, which I can help you plan! Other activities I love to do with the kids is feeding the tarpon at Robbie’s, visiting the Turtle Hospital in Marathon  and Theater of the Sea for swimming with the dolphins and educating them about marine biology.

Beyond The Keys

Because of our network, Diego Travel clients get added amenities to many of the Florida Keys hotels and resorts. Depending on whether it’s your first time or tenth time to the Keys, we’ll make sure to plan your stay based on your needs. We love to combine a trip to the Florida Keys with Miami, the west coast of Florida with stops at places like Marco Island, Naples, or Captiva, or even a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth at Disney World in Orlando. Contact us to help plan your next Florida vacation to elevate your experience, VIP your travel, and make the most of your time at each destination.
 


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Hotel Review: Mauna Lani

Hotel Review

Mauna Lani

A Barefoot Luxury Resort on the Kohala Coast, The Big Island, Hawaii
MARIA DIEGO

Mauna Lani, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, is a newly redesigned open-air resort nestled in the center of the Kohala Coastline on the island of Hawaii. Best known for its outdoor activities, luxurious accommodations, and family-friendly atmosphere, I’m going to review what we loved about our stay at Mauni Lani and share some insider tips that will make the most of your visit to The Big Island.

Perfect For: Families | Weddings | Multi-Generational Families | Groups | Couples | Golfers | Surfers

19.9464,-155.8673

Mauna Lani Overhead

Mauna Lani

Mauna Lani location: Located in in the center of the Kohala Coastline on the island of Hawaii.

Getting There: Only a 25-minute drive (or 23 miles) from Kona International Airport (KOA), Mauna Lani is easily accessible as a non-stop option from many major hubs in the continental Unites States. We recommend renting a car if you plan to explore, or we can set up airport transfers for you, if you’re just looking to relax and stay on property.

Mauna Lani Vibe

Vibe: We traveled to Mauna Lani with our three kids and both grandmothers, and it was a perfect resort for this multi-generational trip. Walking into the grand open-air lobby, you’ll feel an instant sense of place of having arrived to your Hawaiian home away from home.

While this is a 333-room property, it does not feel that big, and I will explain why. The resort was originally designed in the shape of an arrow, which points in the direction of Tokyo, where the original owners resided. This orientation actually allow more than 90% of the rooms to have ocean views, with the advantage of unbeatable sunset views. The two pools on property are located near each other, with the adults-only pool set back away from the ocean. With the location of the Surf Shack and the Kalahuipua’a fish ponds, the resort feels centered around one hub. This is advantageous because it makes the property feel intimate and boutique-like, where families can gather and not feel lost on a sprawling property.

With new ownership and a $100 million renovation, Auberge’s first Hawaiian resort reopened in 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. Because of this timing, the resort has stayed under the radar for the last few years with growing popularity as word spreads about the renewed spirit at this classical resort.

Accomodations:

There are 12 different room and villa categories at Mauna Lani, ranging from the mountain view entry-level rooms to the oceanfront two-bedroom residences. When booking with Diego Travel, we can advise you not only on what room category will be best for you, but where you’ll be most likely to get upgraded.  We can also advise on the advantages and disadvantages of booking the poolside rooms vs. the CanoeHouse-side rooms.  As a Diego Travel client, you will be able to choose your room’s orientation, as opposed to booking direct on the hotel website. 

Mauna Lani Villa

Food & Beverage: 

I want to start by saying that my expectations about food were not very high going into my stay at Mauna Lani. I don’t know why, but perhaps past experience at other Hawaiian resorts didn’t inspire much confidence. Our family arrived hungry late at night after a delayed travel day. We devoured a large family-style steak dinner in HāLani restaurant, where servers buzzed around us and attended to every table with lightning speed.

Halani at Mauna Lani Resort Hawaii

For adults traveling without kids, Hā Bar is located perfectly between the adults-only pool and family-friendly pool. It was a gathering place and the perfect spot to have a leisurely conversation and watch the sun set.

Canoe House Mauna Lani

Finally, the CanoeHouse was one of my favorite spots at the resort. With an expansive grass lawn that lies between the sea and the dining tables, it is the perfect spot for golden hour family photos and a shared Japanese-inspired meal to enjoy stories from the day’s adventures. Kids can play freely while the adults enjoy cocktails with dinner, and the 180-degree ocean views from the outdoor tables really cannot be beaten. We enjoyed dinners at Four Seasons Hualalai and the Fairmont Orchid, but the sunset views from CanoeHouse are simply the best.

Mauna Lani Food

The next morning, brunch was just as busy. Even though service at breakfast was lackluster, the buffet had endless great quality options. I developed a routine of strong Hawaiian coffee and a colorful Acai bowl almost daily. The best part about booking your stay with Diego Travel? Every day, the same plentiful breakfast is complimentary.

Mauna Lani Bar

The Market is another eatery that provides grab-and-go snacks, drinks, and goodies to take home. We loved the convenience of The Market because as any parent can attest, kids are always hungry between meals. With the convenience of the bracelets that are given to you at check-in, our kids could visit The Market as often as needed. Remember how I talked about the resort being centered around a hub? The Market is perfectly located so that I could watch them enter and exit from my poolside lounge chair, so I didn’t have to accompany them every time they wanted a gluten-free white chocolate macadamia nut cookie… and yes, my kids bought all of them. Every day of our vacation. Note to advise the hotel to make more next time we go for a visit.

Canoe House Hawaii

Wellness: The spa at Mauna Lani was basic. They offer an abbreviated menu of massages and facials that incorporate local, organic ingredients. There are two separate Goop outlets at Mauna Lani, so skincare products from Goop are featured in spa treatments. The spa is small and simple and gets the job done if you are looking for a relaxing massage. I came home with a jar of body cream that was made locally and smelled delicious.

Whales of Mauna Lani

  • Surfing Lessons Mauna Lani

  • Surfing Lessons Mauna Lani

We also loved the complimentary kids club, Holoholo Kids Crew, for kids ages 5-12. It was perfect for us because it spanned our kids’ ages. While they have a fantastic indoor space with plenty of arts & crafts and games for the little ones on rainy days, they spend most of the time outdoors with the kids, exploring the Hawaiian beach and learning about nature and the Hawaiian culture. Kids 4 and under can play in the kids club, but they must be accompanied by an adult. During summer months, kids also eat free at all dining outlets, which is huge bonus when you’re feeding several children!

Mauna Lani Boat Charter

The Mauna Lani also offers sunrise canoe paddles, pickleball and tennis clinics, tennis camp for kids, golfing, turtle releasing (again, this is seasonal), canoe snorkeling in the reef, historic biking tour (which we did), and a Ukulele lesson, just to name a few more things.

Hawaii

Activities: One of my family’s favorite things about Mauna Lani resort are the activities here. My husband is a die-hard surfer, so most of our personal vacations are prioritized around surf breaks. At Mauna Lani, there were two options for surf breaks that are directly infront of the resort. One is a few minutes’ walk and the other is a 5-10 minute walk, and they’ll also take you by golf cart if needed. The Surf Shack offers rental boards and some of the best kid-friendly surf instructors we have ever experienced. Our youngest, who was 5 at the time, became confident in the waves and consistently stood up on a tandem (sharing a board with the instructor). Our kids have had lessons at other resorts, and no other instructors compare to those at Mauna Lani.

  • Mauna Lani Kids Club

  • Mauna Lani Kids Club

One of the highlights of our entire trip was the private boat charter that we took aboard Kalama Kai to go whale watching. Our four-hour charter sped by in a flash as we saw dozens of whales traveling in different pods, each showing off different whale behaviors. Our visit was in February, which is one of the peak months for whale watching, so keep in mind that this is a seasonal activity. Like much of Hawaii, many things are seasonal, such as surfing, whale watching, and rain, so you can always consult with me to find out best times to visit.

Swimming with Turtles Mauna Lani

Off property, there is so much more to explore beyond on the Big Island of Hawaii, such as volcanos, ‘Akaka Falls State Park, Parker Ranch Rodeo, Waimea Farmers Market, Nāhuku lava tube, and more. Stay tuned for my Hawaii Destination Guide for more details of what to do during your time on the Big Island.

What  Sets  It  Apart: This resort truly makes it easy! Everything is very convenient and focused on family-friendly, without being too in-your-face. There were plenty of adults-only groups as well, so it wasn’t overtly family-friendly (ie: there are no water slides here), yet there is something for everyone. However, if you also just want to read and nap by the pool or in front of the ocean, it is the perfect relaxing environment to do so..

For families that want to surf, Mauna Lani has surf breaks in front of the resort. No other luxury hotel on The Big Island has this convenience, so for our surfing family, this pro is a big one! It’s one place we will return to…

My only two complaints about the entire resort were that the rooms could be larger, but this is Hawaii and Hawaiian entry-level rooms are typically small! If you’re wanting extra space, I highly recommend the ocean front suites or the 2-bedroom villas, where you’ll have full butler service and access to your own Moke cars. My second complaint was the prominent display of inappropriate products at the goop shop at a family-friendly resort. I took my kids to browse and quickly shuffled them out of the store, and I heard another family talking about the same. However, I loved the merchandise they carried in the upstairs Milo shop and at the Market

Mauna Lani Pool
Mauna Lani, Kona Hawaii

How Much Does Mauna Lani Cost? Rates start at under $700/night for the entry-level mountain view room, but the Mauna Lani frequently offers exclusive promos for Diego Travel clients, with free nights that are combinable with our preferred partner amenities. On the high end, the 2-bedroom villas start at around $5,000/night.

Diego Travel Loves: The sunsets sitting on the lawn at Mauna Lani overlooking the Pacific Ocean are magical!

In addition to everything already mentioned in this article about Hawaii’s best luxury hotel, Mauna Lani, we can’t forget to mention, Mika, the resort’s yellow lab mascot.  She makes a daily appearance at the resort to greet guests, and is just as personable as the rest of their warm and sincere staff. 

Their attention to detail and peaceful setting all make for a perfect Hawaiian vacation.

Sunsets at Mauna Lani
Diego Travel Extras at Mauna Lani

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $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
  • Welcome box for new Diego Travel clients with custom trip planning

    Our current exclusive promo is on all oceanfront & residence bookings.  You’ll receive a bottle of Billecart champagne, one Sunrise Canoe Paddle for four, one-day use of an oceanside Hālau daybed (the one mentioned in my insider tips), and one MY Menu Tasting for two (excludes alcohol). Residence bookings will also get a half-day excursion on the powerboat Kalama Kai. These Diego Travel perks equate to thousands of dollars in value…and this is in addition to the extras you’ll get by booking with us!  For other room categories, they are also offering 20% off rates + kids eat free all summer long, so book your last-minute travel now to take advantage.  Plus remember, direct hotel bookings are complimentary, so you literally have nothing to lose by booking your stay through Diego Travel.

    Mauna Lani Beach Cabana

    Mauna Lani Insider Tips:

    You won’t want to miss the Hale Ho’aloha Lū’au. Invest in the VIP ticket for priority seating, wine, welcome cocktail, family-style pupus, entrées, desserts and keepsakes. 

    There is a complimentary laundry room that stocks detergent right off the hallway behind the front desk.  There’s nothing better than returning home with a suitcase full of clean clothing!

    The cabanas are worth the splurge! You’ll have poolside or beachside service with a fully-stocked cooler, fresh towels and a comfortable space with plenty of shade.  I have my preferred cabanas in my notes, so when you book your stay with us, I will be sure to snag these for you. 

    Let’s Get Planning!

    Mauna Lani Beach


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    Hotel Review: Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica

    Hotel Review

    Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica

    ◦ The Best Luxury Resort in Costa Rica
    MARIA DIEGO

    The Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica resort is a sprawling oasis with luxury accommodations set within a perfect playground for Costa Rican adventures.  Whether you are traveling with your family, corporate group, or your romantic partner, the Four Seasons in Costa Rica offers it all, without the driving distances that some other resorts require.  The Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo is widely known as the best hotel in Costa Rica, and that title is well-deserved.

    Perfect For: Honeymoons | Groups | Corporate Groups | Adventure-Seeking Travelers | Families | Multi-Generational Families | Golfers

    10.6116,-85.6883

    Four Seasons Costa Rica

    Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica location: Located in Guanacaste province of northwest Costa Rica. The Peninsula Papagayo is an exclusive enclave and home to Andaz Costa Rica Resort (a Hyatt Prive property) and private residences, Arnold Palmer golf course and luxury marina.

    Getting There: The Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo is just 40 minutes from Liberia airport (LIR). If you fly into San Jose (SJO), you will need to take a 40-minute connecting flight or drive 4.5 hours by land.

    Four Seasons Papagayo Vibes

    Vibe: The Pura Vida vibe is apparent from the moment you pull up to the resort entrance. While the accommodations themselves can feel private and remote, the hub of the resort itself is buzzing with activity and plentiful in gathering places like lounges and bars to make it an easy spot for group gatherings. While we stayed, there was a large corporate group, but there were also honeymooners. The accommodations vary widely at this resort, so be sure to reach out to us to find the exact fit for your needs.

    Accomodations: With 11 different categories of room types, and 199 rooms, villas and casas, this is perhaps the most complex decision you’ll have to make when booking Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica. When you book your stay with a Four Seasons Preferred Partner agency like Diego Travel, you have the advantage of getting first-hand feedback on the room types to find the right fit for you. If we’re unsure, we work one-on-one with the sales director who can provide insight and further guidance. In addition to that, you’ll receive a priority upgrade for your stay.

    The entry level Terraza Room starts at 603 square feet and comes with either a king or double/double beds. It’s important to note that that the first three categories – the Terraza Room, the Brisa Room and the Cielo Room are all located in the main buildings, closest to the restaurants and hotel lobby. These two three-story buildings will feel like your conventional hotel, with rooms off the hallway.

    Four Seasons Costa Rica

    When you move to a Canopy Suite or a Casa, then these will be more stand-alone type buildings, though some will share walls with neighboring suites. The Canopy 1-bedroom suites are perfect for honeymooners or couples. The Pacifico Residences are either 2-3 bedroom units with kitchens and laundry and come with round-trip airport transfers, a $250 credit to pre-stock your pantry, as well as your Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities.

    Las Casas come in six different layouts and range from 2-6 bedrooms. These come with a butler and chef, as well as a $500 credit to pre-stock your kitchen. The Prieta Villas and Estates are located on the Prieta side of the property, which is almost like a boutique resort within a larger resort. This is the most exclusive area of the Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo, and has access to its own beach club and two restaurants.

    Four Seasons Costa Rica Rooms

    Wanting only the best for your stay? The Miramar Suite is a 3-bedroom presidential suite and favored by many because of its proximity to the main resort. It has partial Pacific Ocean views, and comes with one king master bedroom connected to one double/double bedroom and one king room. Casa Las Olas is a 6-bedroom estate that can accommodate up to 18 people. Whatever your needs or group size, we will ensure we match you to the right fit for your stay.

    Four Seasons Costa Rica Suites

    Food & Beverage: 

    With five restaurants plus a beachside food truck and pool and beachside service, you won’t grow tired of the options here, even with a week-long stay or more. While many accommodations offer kitchens for families who want to cook or have a home-style meal prepared for them, it’s equally as easy to eat out throughout your stay. We recommend booking Nemare, the American steakhouse that overlooks the golf course, in advance, as it is a popular choice as is usually booked. I also couldn’t resist the fresh acai bowl each morning for breakfast, along with a healthy green juice and the Costa Rican coffee.

    Four Seasons Costa Rica Drinks
    San Ysidro Boutique

    Wellness/SPA: The newly renovated spa boasts a therapeutic hammam and a new ayurvedic treatment, and local ingredients stand out in featured treatments such as a Costa Rican Coffee Scrub or a Volcanic Mud Body Wrap. It is a huge spa with 18 treatment rooms, and they offer daily wellness classes including some specifically catering to kids and teens.

    Witch's Rock Surf

    Activities: Peninsula Papagayo recently completed its own Explorers Club with the Nacascolo Basecamp. Papagayo Explorers can explore 11 miles of coastline, 8 miles of bluff edges, seven beaches and 250 acres of the protected Palmares Preserve. With this new addition to the Four Seasons Costa Rica Peninsula Papagayo portfolio, you’ll no longer need to leave the peninsula to hike, zipline, or raft. You can also take a cultural roadtrip that introduces you to everything Pura Vida, spend a day in a rainforest, or bike along the volcanic mountains of Costa Rica. My husband surfs, so he took a boat out daily to Witch’s Rock, which has some of the best waves in Costa Rica. You can also get surf lessons if you’re a beginner surfer, but it can be dependent on conditions.

    What  Sets  It  Apart: Most people are headed to Costa Rica for an epic adventure, and there is no shortage of activities at the Four Seasons. The best thing about visiting Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo is that you get all the Pura Vida adventure and activities set within one stop of gorgeous scenery (think jungle meets ocean) and luxury accommodations.

    Costa Rica Turtle
    Four Seasons Papagayo Pool

    How Much Does it cost?Rates start around $1,000 USD/night for the entry level Terraza Room and go up $22,000/night for the 6-Bedroom house. As a Four Seasons Preferred Partner client, you’ll get access to exclusive promotions as well as additional resort credit, depending on which room category you book.

    Diego Travel Loves: We love that Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica is a destination in and of itself. For anyone who has been to Costa Rica, you understand that points of interest are spread very far apart, and the roads are winding and long. With this resort, you won’t ever have to leave the comfort of home with everything to do all in one place, whereas other Costa Rican vacations can feel adventurous, yet tiring! You’ll arrive home with the right combination of rejuvenation and adventure.

    Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica
    Diego Travel Extras

    Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

    • Access to Four Seasons Preferred Partner exclusive promos such as double resort credit on extended stays
    • Daily full breakfast for two people per bedroom, served in a hotel restaurant or through In-Room Dining
    • Hotel/Resort Credit* (based on room category booked):
      • Guest Rooms: USD 100 credit per stay
      • Suites and Specialty Suites: USD 200 credit per stay
      • Private Retreats: USD 200 credit per bedroom per stay
    • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in**
    • Welcome amenity
    • *Hotel/Resort Credit may be applied to select incidental charges incurred at the Hotel or Resort. Must be used in conjunction with the initial stay and will be applied at check-out. May not be applied towards the room rate, taxes, resort fees, service charges, conference fees, or any charges from outside vendors. Exclusions may apply; contact the Hotel/Resort for more details.

      When a suite is reserved in connection with another guest room or suite, the cumulative credit (based on room category booked) value applies.

      The Private Retreats credit applies to Villas and Residences with a minimum average rate per night (before Resort fees and taxes) of USD 1,000.

      **Category upgrade based on availability at time of check-in excludes Specialty Suites, Villas and the Private Retreats collection of Villas and Residences.

      Four Seasons Costa Rica Insider Tips:

      Kids eat free at this resort! Kids five and under enjoy a complimentary menu in our restaurants. Plus, all restaurant menus offer vegan and vegetarian options.

      For a feeling of exclusivity, we love the Prieta Bay side of the property because it almost feels like a boutique resort within a resort.  With its own two restaurants, beach club, private pool, gym and kids club that was recently completed, Prieta Bay is just a slightly more elevated experience.  That’s not to say that the main resort does not offer it all, but if privacy is paramount to you, then I would recommend the Prieta Bay accommodations.

      Prieta Bay

      Let’s Get Planning!

      Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo Costa Rica


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      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.

      Design My Trip!


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      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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      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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      Hotel Review: Terranea Luxury Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes California

      Hotel Review

      Terranea Luxury Resort, Ranchos Palos Verdes California

      A luxury oceanfront resort that embodies the California lifestyle and is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Southern California coast
      MARIA DIEGO

      Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and laidback Californian lifestyle at this coastal resort, less than one hour from Downtown L.A. This Mediterranean inspired luxury hotel offers guests award-winning amenities, luxurious accommodation and a captivating range of activities and adventures for the whole family to enjoy across this 102-acre hidden gem in Southern California. 

      Perfect For: Families | Couples | Business Meetings | Team Builder Days | Outdoor and Nature Lovers | Sustainability-Focused Travelers | LA Residents wanting to escape the city

      • 33.7384,-118.3978

        Terranea Resort

      • 33.9417,-118.41

        LAX

      Location: Terranea is located in Rancho Palos Verdes on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, also known for the Rolling Hills Estates.

      Getting ThereTerranea can be reached in under one hour from L.A. and LAX, being situated 17 miles south of LAX  or 24 miles from Long Beach Airport.

      Terranea Palos Verdes Vibe

      Vibe: Terranea truly is one of the best-kept secrets on the Southern California coast. The resort effortlessly combines sophisticated relaxation with adventure experiences so you truly feel like you’ve escaped day-to-day life to experience something extraordinary. The resort embodies what they call ‘Terranealife’, an immersive Californian experience of adventure, relaxation, great food and incredible attention to detail across its amenities and accommodation. This really is a Mediterranean escape in the heart of the West Coast.

      Accomodations: Across the 102-acre resort, Terranea offers four accommodation options to suit a range of budgets, plus an exclusive villa option for an unparalleled luxury vacation experience.

      Terranea Bathrooms

      Guestrooms: These spacious rooms come with a private balcony offering views of the Pacific Ocean, Pool views or Garden views. Designed with relaxation in mind, all guestrooms come with one king-size bed or two double beds, walk-in showers, flatscreen TV and luxury bathroom amenities provided. With the two double beds option, these rooms can sleep up to 4.

      Suites: Every suite comes with a separate living room, a fully stocked pantry and a bar, all with sweeping ocean views. Ground floor suites open onto the beautifully manicured lawns. Covering 900-2,200sq ft, suites are the ideal option if you want your own private space to relax and unwind.

      Terranea Suites

      Bungalows: Designed to give you that home-away-from-home feeling, yet completely immersed in luxury, the bungalows can all be found along the ocean’s edge and boast upgraded amenities, four-poster beds, fireplaces, an outdoor firepit and they’re adults-only, providing the ultimate escape for couples to unwind and feel rejuvenated on the doorstep of the Pacific Ocean. Bungalows can sleep up to 6 adults.

      Casitas: Curating the subtle Mediterranean vibes of Terranea, these residential-style accommodations are perfect for family getaways, multi-generational family trips or groups. Casitas come with king beds, large kitchen and dining rooms, a private balcony or patio and sleep up to 8.

      Terranea Casitas

      Villas: For a totally secluded, exclusive experience, the villas at Terranea resort are the ultimate in individualized vacation experiences, with world-class amenities, and a completely private and secluded location on the resort. Villas come with up to three bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, a private outdoor hot tub, spacious kitchen, dining and living areas, plus a large terrace and one or two-car garages.

      Food and Beverage: With an incredible nine dining options to choose from, there is something to suit everyone, every meal, every occasion or dietary requirement. Solviva embodies the resort’s focus on sustainability, with a range of dishes using locally sourced and sustainably grown produce.

      Mar’sel offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and is perfect for a romantic evening dinner, while the Catalina Kitchen and Bashi offer more modern, lively and authentic dishes. For something more casual, Nelson’s is a favorite with guests for the beautiful location on the cliffs above the ocean and the simple, surfside vibe. Sea Beans Cafe and the grill by the pool are great for light bites throughout the day.

      The Lobby Bar & Lounge is the perfect sophisticated and intimate way to end your night, with cozy fireside seating or al fresco spots with ocean views. Here you can enjoy craft cocktails and a range of wine and beers.

      Wellness: The Spa at Terranea embraces and captivates the energy of the resort’s location by the ocean and within nature. With a range of spa treatments offered by this multi-award-winning spa, you can’t go wrong with choosing a treatment here. 

      As part of the wellness offering, the resort fitness centre offers a fully equipped indoor gym and spa pool, plus activities for guests to enjoy including spin sessions, seaside yoga, seaside cycling and stretching. 

      Spa at Terranea

      Paddle boarding at Terranea

      Activities: Terranea is a real standout resort when it comes to the activities on offer and it would be impossible to recap them all here! Terranea activities are notable because there is so much to do to suit everyone, whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, complete relaxation, family activities or kids experiences.

      The Links Golf Course is one of Terranea’s crowning jewels, being one of the country’s top-rated championship 9-hole golf courses, you can easily spend the afternoon on the course by the ocean.

      For those looking for a more active and adventurous getaway, let the resort help you book hiking excursions, horseback adventures, stand up paddleboarding, ocean kayaking or surfing lessons. There’s also a range of tour options available including guided ocean kayaking, whale watching tours or full- or half-day fishing excursions.

      Of course, Terranea is all about luxury and relaxation, so don’t miss the chance to book a private cabana and spend the day relaxing by one of the resort’s four pools. Or perhaps enjoy a spot of retail therapy in the resort’s exclusive selection of retail stores. Terranea is the opportunity to embrace the slower pace of life with a stroll along the beach, taking in the turquoise blue ocean and soaking in the sun on the property’s beach loungers.

      There’s a great selection for the kids too, from archery and falconry experiences to tide pool adventures and pony rides. There’s also a children’s discovery club throughout the week.

      What sets it apart: A huge factor that sets Terranea apart is its commitment and transparency towards sustainability. The resort is committed to protecting the landscape and nature in which it sits and is committed to minimizing its environmental footprint throughout the resort. The resort’s food waste recycling program supports their “20/20/20” goal, a pledge to reduce energy and water usage by 20% and send only 20% of its total waste to the landfill, all by the year 2020. 

      The resort donates unused toiletries to the Midnight Mission charity (nearly 300lbs in 1 month!). The resort also collaborates with Chefs to End Hunger to redistribute prepared food to local food agencies serving meals to those in need. 

      All this led to the resort being named the Platinum Adrian Award winner for Leader in Sustainable Tourism by National Geographic and HSMAI. The resort also earned the California Hotel & Lodging Association’s Award for Good Earthkeeping.

      Terranea Landscaping
      Terranea Bouganvillea

      How much does Terranea cost?

      There is a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and desired vacation experiences. 

      Prices start from $500 per night for guestrooms and up to $2,700 per night for three-bedroom casitas.

      The resort also offers member prices for a reduced rate on their accommodation options as well as packages such as The Golf Links package to include two rounds of golf and two breakfasts with your stay.  

      Diego Travel Loves: There are some things in life that words can’t describe. The experience of Terranea is one of them. From the vast range of activities to the attention to detail in the accommodation and dining experiences, each vacation here is tailored to you.

      Terranea Paddleboarding
      Diego Travel Extras at Terranea

      Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel in 2021:

      • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
      • Daily breakfast for two guests per bedroom served in Catalina Kitchen or In-Room dining (up to $60 credit)
      • $100 USD Resort or Hotel 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
        • Coastal Escape: Enjoy a Southern California vacation at Terranea and save up to 15% off our Best Available Rate. Escape for a quick weekend getaway or an extended stay. There is plenty to do outdoors such as hiking, open-air painting by the sea, archery, stand up paddleboarding, and more. Enjoy adventures by land and sea, a round of golf at The Links, or any of our dining offerings. Book and stay through September 15, 2021; Subject to minimum night stay. Offer subject to availability. Not valid for group bookings of 10 rooms or more.
        • Book 3 Nights and get the 4th free! – Plan an incredible oceanfront getaway at Los Angeles’ hidden gem on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Enjoy plenty of time to discover, relax, and explore the unparalleled natural habitat of the Southern California coast. Book 3 nights and receive the 4th night free! If you book by September 6, 2021. Valid for stays May 26, 2021, until September 30, 2021. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and may contain blackout dates. Not Valid for 10 or more rooms. Not valid for Ocean Front Rooms and Ocean Front Suites and Villas. Valid for consecutive days.
        • Stay More, Save More – Rediscover more summer, more savings, and more Terranea. Enjoy more time to experience all that Terranea has to offer on the Southern California coast. 
          • Stay 3 nights and receive 15% off 
          • Stay 4 nights and receive 25% off 
          • Stay 5 nights or more and receive 35% off 
          • Book by Sep 30th for travel through Dec 23, 2021.
          • Thursday-Friday arrivals will not be eligible for the 3-night stay offer. 

        * Excludes oceanfront rooms and oceanfront suites and all villas. All packages are subject to minimum night stay, blackout dates and availability. Not valid for group bookings of 10 rooms or more.

        Terranea Insider Tips:

        Don’t miss the opportunity to book an archery lesson during your stay at Terranea. Not only will  you find no better setting than the sandy cove overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but you will not find a better instructor that Terranea’s very own USA Olympic archery team medalist. 

        Olympic Archery Lessons at Terranea

        Summary of Our Stay at Terranea:

        After a week-long road trip down the Southern California coast, Terranea Resort was our final stop at the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Even though it is just 20 miles south of LAX, it might just be considered a hidden gem of California, with sweeping views across the Pacific Ocean. The waves crashing against the tall cliffs is mesmerizing, and the mist that hovers over the peninsula somehow reminded me of time spent in Ireland. I made this comment to Valerie, the sales director for Terranea during our site tour, and she said that the owners built it in a way that was actually inspired by the Amalfi coast. Okay, two different countries, but both with impressively tall cliffs and gorgeous ocean views. You get the picture.

        Terranea Beach

        This was a multi-generational trip for us, which has become increasingly popular during the pandemic and I think will continue to be a travel trend going forward. What does that mean? Grandparents, parents, kids, and maybe aunts, uncles and cousins joining in too. Truth be told, after a week in the car together, we all needed some extra space, and Terranea delivers just that. They have bungalows, casitas and villas, all with exterior entrances, kitchen, washer/dryer, and all the comforts of home. So whether you are staying over a weekend like we did, or a month, you could literally make yourself at home, comfortably and easily with very large groups.

        Terranea Slide

        We arrived in the late afternoon, and our 3-bedroom oceanside casita had a huge grassy area in front of our ground floor patio that overlooked the ocean. There were no steep edges, so the kids were able to run around and chase the hundreds of wild rabbits that made their home in the foxtails. While they played on the grass and sunset approached, I set up with my laptop (per usual) at the outdoor covered table and was able to work with the most breathtaking view. To me, our accommodation was the best on property, because we had privacy, amazing views, and that grassy area for the kids. And the beauty was that it could be converted into a 1 or 2 bedroom as well. Terranea delivers on flexibility.

        Terranea Rancho Palos Verdes

        ​For breakfast we walked down to Catalina Kitchen, one of their 7 restaurants on property, where we took advantage of our included breakfast which you’ll always receive when you book with Diego Travel. After breakfast, the kids bee-lined it to the main family pool, one of four pools, just in time for the sun to peak out from behind the clouds, so they did a few circuits down the water slide until it was time to head down to the beach where we had a private lesson set up with the resort’s professional archery coaches, Bob and his daughter, Brooklyn. It was this experience that really set this property apart for me as a travel advisor, and someone who has seen literally hundreds of luxury hotels and resorts. The setup is right in front of the ocean along these massive cliffs, and they have the whole area roped off for you to practice a really fun sport in the most amazing setting. And yes, you can set up a proposal after an archery lesson too. Lots of adults sign up and I highly recommend the activity for a fun date night. At any rate, it was the highlight of our stay, along with the hikes we took along the nature trails around the property.

        La Samanna Beach

        The property is quite massive with so many different room/villa categories, and also so many different activities and dining options to choose from. I highly recommend setting up a call to discuss which one would be right for you, and reserving your activities and dining in advance. I did not take this advice, and missed out on the opportunity to enjoy the spa while there because I didn’t reserve in advance. I was incredibly impressed with how beautiful the area was, and wish we had stayed a little longer to be able to participate in the activities like kayaking, visiting the natural tide pools, more extensive hiking up to the lighthouse, and star gazing. We will definitely be back! And if you plan to go, be sure to reach out to book your stay with Diego Travel to receive your exclusive offers that Terranea often has for our clients, and so that we can VIP you and add on those additional amenities like resort credit and complimentary daily breakfast.

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        Hotel Review: Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel, Montecito

        Hotel Review

        Rosewood Miramar Beach

        A luxury beachfront hotel with modern residential beach living in Montecito, on the Southern California Coast
        MARIA DIEGO

        Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel in Montecito is located on the oceanfront with views across the iconic California coastline. With 160 rooms, 26 beachfront units and exclusive residential suites, the Miramar Beach hotel combines easygoing Californian beachfront living with luxury style and attention to detail throughout.

        Perfect For: Small families | Honeymooners | Romantic Getaways | An escape from the city

        • 34.4204,-119.6302

          Rosewood Miramar

        • 34.4261,-119.843

          Santa Barbara Airport

        Rosewood Miramar Beach Location: Miramar Beach Hotel is located just eight minutes south of Downtown Santa Barbara.

        Getting to the Rosewood Miramar Beach:The resort itself is only 15 minutes from Santa Barbara Municipal Airport which has direct flights from major US hubs including LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Denver. It’s also a great option to include on a California Coast road trip if you plan to visit the area around Santa Barbara, it’s around a 2 hour drive from LA.

        Book Rosewood Miramar with Diego Travel

        Vibe: Miramar means ‘to behold the sea’ and the name truly does reflect this stylish coastal resort where there is so much attention to detail in every aspect of the decor, the amenities and the experiences available. Being the only truly oceanfront resort in Montecito, your arrival feels like a moment of calm washing over you. Away from the traffic, the city and the rush of daily life, the resort encompasses oceanfront living to give you a luxurious yet home-away-from-home feel.

        Accomodations: Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel boasts 160 rooms. The resort has 26 units on the beach, two beach house suites, and beach studios, as well as rooms and suites with ocean or garden views. The Hotel is choosing to limit their maximum occupancy to 70% for the rest of the year, so you can be sure your care is the top priority when you visit.

        With 124 rooms on the property, you can choose from rooms overlooking the ocean or the gardens. Beach house guest rooms and studios are located on the beachfront with spacious rooms and private patios decorated in a light-airy coastal style that’s perfect for a relaxing retreat. Bungalow guest rooms offer views of the beautifully manicured gardens and lawns.

        Lanai Guest Rooms are in the two-story Lanai House and have rooms of varying sizes for up to four guests. They also offer the choice of garden or mountain views.

        An alternative to Rooms is their studios, which are slightly bigger than the Beach House rooms and give you the option of an additional 3rd guest with beachfront views.

        Bungalows include the Bungalow Suites with a private courtyard, Garden Bungalow suites with private terraces and garden views, or Lanai Suites with large windows and private terraces. The bungalows all come with private entrances and offer you space and amenities beyond those of guestrooms and include luxurious and spacious parlors and fireplaces for up to four guests. The bungalows are particularly popular with honeymooners or for special anniversary trips.

        Located on the beachfront with uninterrupted ocean views and with just two Beach House Suites available, these oceanfront suites are hugely popular. At 960sq ft, with relaxed indoor and terrace decor and accommodating up to 4 guests, the suites are a way to make your stay truly special with the beach on your doorstep.

        The Ambassador Suite offers panoramic ocean views and is the largest accommodation option available at 1,885sq ft. The suite can accommodate up to 4 guests with living rooms, a dining area, a private kitchen, a king-size bed and a large private terrace overlooking the lawn and with full views of the ocean. Located on the second floor of the Manor House, you’re just five minutes walk from the beautiful Miramar beach.

        Rosewood Miramar Rooms Overview

        Rosewood Miramar Rooms

        Rosewood Miramar Bathroom

        Rosewood Miramar Bathroom

        Caruso’s Restaurant Montecito

        Food & Beverage: There’s no need to venture far thanks to the incredible six restaurants and food options at Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel. Caruso’s is Rosewood Miramar’s most gourmet option. Our meal on our first night was here and the food was beyond incredible. As was the ocean view dining at the restaurant.

        For something more casual, the Miramar Beach Bar at the property is great for cocktails and light bites throughout the day. There’s also the Cabana Bar which is perfect for poolside refreshments.

        The Manor Bar is the resort’s sophisticated evening option with dark wood-panel interiors, a formal bar and luxurious seating, creating a cozy evening atmosphere for drinks after dinner.

        There’s also something for the kids too, with the popular Scoop Shop right by the pool area!

        Wellness: Rosewood Miramar Beach is the only 5-star Forbes spa in Santa Barbara, so you’re guaranteed a luxurious retreat when you choose to stay here. In fact, most people do choose to stay for at least 3 nights to really soak in the rejuvenating, coastal calm of the resort. As well as the Sense Rosewood Spa, the resort wellness centre also offers a fitness studio, sunrise yoga and adult-only pools to relax and restore you on your trip.

        Rosewood Miramar Spa

        Rosewood Miramar Beach Activities

        Things to Do in Montecito:The Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel offers a range of family-friendly experiences such as family beach yoga, falconry experiences, family movie nights and the Explorer Club for kids.

        The resort offers countless activities and excursions for adults too which are perfect for romantic getaways and special occasions like tastings at the gourmet restaurant Caruso’s or sailing the Santa Barbara Coast on a private charter cruise. If you’re looking for something more active, the hotel also offers frequent pop-up events, hiking excursions and surf excursions which can be booked upon request during your stay.

        The resort retail experience is another amenity hand-selected by the hotel to bring luxury upscale brands to their guests. With regular pop-ups like the Dior Summer Collection, alongside boutiques like The Webster, shopping is part of the experience at Rosewood Miramar Beach.

        What  Sets  It  Apart: When we finally had the opportunity to visit this summer, I knew our stay in Montecito and at the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel would be the highlight of our California coastal road trip. Developed by Caruso, the hotel is of course stunning, with elements throughout that show the time and attention to detail that’s given to all their properties.

        The hotel is also child-friendly and you’ll often find a lot of families staying for the weekend. Weekdays are more popular with couples for romantic getaways, honeymoons or anniversary trips.

        Everything about the Miramar Beach Hotel is personalized for the comfort of their guests. These are some of our favorite parts of the resort:

        • Forbes Five-Star Rosewood Spa
        • Scoop Shop ice cream and candies is a kids’ favorite of course!
        • Family-friendly pools next to the Scoop Shop
        • Adult-only pool with rentable cabanas
        • Lincoln House Cars (one yellow, one pink!) to take you anywhere you need to go in a three-mile radius of the hotel
        • Six restaurants and bars
        • Bocce Ball courts and shuffleboard
        • A coffee cart on the beach
        • Kayak and Hobie Cat rental from the beach club
        • Retail boutiques including Christian Dior and The Webster
        • A 24/7 guard to assist guests with crossing the train tracks which operates a train several times a day

        Rosewood Miramar Beach
        Rosewood Miramar Beach Vibe
        Rosewood

        How Much Does the Rosewood Miramar Cost? The cost varies depending on the accommodation option you choose. Prices start from $1,600  per night for garden view rooms. While an Ambassador Ocean View Suite starts at a nightly rate of $13,000.

        Diego Travel Loves:

        The wait for a luxury beachfront hotel of this calibre has been worth it to see the easy luxury that Rosewood Miramar creates for their guests. From the soft cream to light blue furnishings that emulate the ocean on your doorstep, to the variety of amenities for all ages and groups, Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel is effortless luxury. 

        Rosewood Miramar
        Beach at Rosewood Miramar Montecito

        Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

        • Exclusive Rosewood Elite Amenities
        • 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

        Rosewood Miramar Beach Insider Tips:

        You can request one of the Beach House Studios which are further from the restaurant. By booking with Diego Travel, we can choose the specific room you wish to be placed in for your trip.

        Hotel Bel-Air garden

        Summary of Our Stay at the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, California:

        When I heard that Rosewood Hotels opened the Rosewood Miramar Beach in the heart of Montecito in 2019, I was ecstatic because it would be the area’s first truly beachfront resort with rooms on the water.

        Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito California

        My husband and I had been visiting the area for years due to work obligations and family living in the area, so we couldn’t get there soon enough. Santa Barbara is one of my favorite destinations in the world, especially for it’s casual California surfer meets upscale hippy chic vibe, so I mapped out our itinerary from morning to night with activities like shopping, dining and time for the beach.  Pulling up to Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel feels like stepping into a European resort. The bellmen and valet greeted us and addressed us by name from the start. The sales director met me straight away along with two other colleagues and made us feel at home. We arrived prior to check-in time, so they had one of our rooms ready for us, so that the kids could immediately change into their swimsuits and head for the beach, while my mom and I ditched them to hit the shops. And speaking of shops, the hotel itself has a few of my favorites, including the pop-up shop by Christian Dior, which was absolutely stunning, a personal favorite – Brunello Cucinelli, Goop by the famous Gwyneth Paltrow, and The Webster, which also has a location in Miami Beach. Another on-property favorite is the James Perse store, which cannot be missed for travel basics like comfortable lounge pants and basic tees. However, I had been eyeing hitting my favorite series of stores by Wendy Foster that have locations in Santa Barbara, Montecito and Los Olivos. Speaking of Los Olivos, while we didn’t have time on this trip to spend some time in Santa Ynez Valley, I always suggest to my clients who love wine and horses to split their time between that region, just an hour north of Santa Barbara.  

        Dior Boutique Rosewood Miramar Beach

        After a day of shopping, and the kids has their fill of the pool and beach, we met for dinner at Caruso’s, the formal beachfront restaurant that offers a truly fine dining experience that really transports you to Europe.  The experience was impeccable, and the food was delicious…and if you’re in the right company, stop for drinks at the bar just before dinner.  Post-dinner, we were happy to let the kids run free on the sprawling grassy lawn while my husband and I leaned back in some of the white adirondack lawn chairs, people and star gazing while we talked.  While an intimate wedding was going on while we were on property, it really didn’t take away from our experience, as the property is so large that we wouldn’t have even noticed had we not walked by the dancing bride and groom and a roomful of infectious laughter and live music coming from the Manor Bar on our walk back to our bungalow.

        Caruso’s Rosewood Miramar Beach Montecito CA

        I would be remiss not to mention the experience of the service itself at Rosewood Miramar Beach.  Everyone addressed us by name, and the welcome amenities for myself and the kids went above and beyond. (No, I’m not spoiling the surprise, because when you book with Diego Travel, you’ll also get spoiled by these amenities). One evening, the bath tub wouldn’t fill so we determined there was something wrong with the stopper.  Within minutes, a man arrived and quickly replaced the bath tub stopper.

        Rosewood Miramar Beach Turndown Service

        The grounds are beautifully landscaped and have special touches throughout, which makes your stay there feel magical.  We really didn’t want to leave the property at all, and  spent very little time going out to eat at outdoor restaurants like Bouchon and Jeanette’s, and visited the Santa Barbara zoo – my favorite because it’s small enough to not be too tiring for the little kids, yet with beautiful views of the ocean, especially from the giraffes.

        Santa Barbara Zoo

        Some of the things we did not have time for, but I would have loved to plan, is the bespoke beach picnic that the hotel will set up for you on the beach.  I also would have loved to have time to charter a boat ride to sail along the Santa Barbara coast, but we ran out of time.

        Let’s go to Rosewood Miramar

        One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Montecito Country Mart in the Rosewood Miramar’s cute yellow vintage car – they have a pastel yellow, pink and blue one and are available to drive you to any location within Montecito on a first-come, first-serve basis.  My kids loved this experience!  They also love the bocce ball and shuffle board and kept themselves busy with that while I got in quick last-minute trip to the spa for a massage.  Hey, someone has to research!  The massage was phenomenal, and while it’s small, the areas are pristine and decorated in the perfect way that Rick Caruso appointed the rest of the resort.

        Let’s go to Rosewood Miramar

        Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway, a longer summer vacation or a California coast road trip, the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel is a great option for families, couples or special occasions. Our stay at Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel was truly special and we only wish we could have stayed longer – I highly recommend a minimum 3-night stay, but if you truly want to do it all in Santa Barbara and Montecito, you’ll need a little longer. Contact Diego Travel today so we can help you book your perfect Montecito vacation, and add Rosewood Elite amenities and the VIP touch to your stay.  

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        Laguna Beach – The Best Hotels and Resorts

        Laguna Beach

        The Best Hotels and Resorts

        MARIA DIEGO

        My family lives in Southern California, spread out between the cities of Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. We try to visit at least twice a year for a family vacation, and no matter how long we go for, it never feels like enough time. There are so many kid-friendly things to do in Southern California like outdoor parks, hiking, farms with petting zoos, fresh fruits and vegetables, horseback riding, museums and of course, the beaches. One area that had always evaded us was Laguna Beach, which was left for us to discover over our summer vacation.

        As most of the country was just reopening and still dealing with restrictions, we planned a long weekend trip to Laguna Beach to discover three new luxury hotels in this Southern California area, known for its beautiful cliffs, great restaurants and shopping, and tons of outdoor activities like surfing and hiking. In this blog, I’m going to highlight where to stay, what hotel will be right for your family vacation, and break down the differences between Montage Laguna Beach, the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, and the Monarch Beach Resort.

        Perfect For: Romantic Getaways | Honeymoons & Anniversaries | Families | Surfing | Golfers | Shopping

        About Laguna Beach

        Laguna Beach is 7 miles of coastline located between San Diego and Los Angeles, with more oceanfront hotel properties than any other area of California.  The topography of Laguna Beach includes coves, tide pools, unique beaches, sea caves and oceanside bluffs, making it one of the coolest regions to explore with kids.  Laguna Beach is home to some of the world’s most famous surf breaks, making it a favorite of surfers and stand up paddle boarders.  It’s also home to a fun arts and culture scene that includes year-round festivals, galleries, public art exhibits, and fun educational programs for kids.

        Getting to Laguna Beach, California

        Whether you are planning a honeymoon, a family vacation, or just a beach weekend getaway, Laguna Beach is a great option as a sole destination, or a stopover while visiting the entire California coast.  Laguna Beach is easily accessible by flying into John Wayne Airport (SNA), which is the closest but smallest of the airport options.  Alternatively, you could fly into either San Diego International (SAN) or Los Angeles International (LAX) and make the approximately 1.5 hour drive from either direction, depending on traffic.  If you have never visited California, I would recommend either starting in San Diego or San Francisco and driving the entire coast, if you want to make a fun family road trip and experience the best of California.  However you choose to explore California, we always recommend a rental car so that you can see and do as much as possible.

        • 33.5159,-117.758

          Montage Laguna Beach

        • 33.4822,-117.715

          Monarch Beach Resort

        • 33.4747,-117.7204

          The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

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        The Best Hotels in Laguna Beach

        While Laguna Beach has a ton of great hotels and resorts for honeymooners, couples getaways, or family vacations, I selected the top three luxury resorts in Laguna Beach that I wanted to compare for my clients.  I am going to break down the differences and pros and cons of my top three resorts in Laguna Beach and let you know which one is right for you.  Without further ado, here are the best hotels in Laguna Beach.

         

        The Monarch Beach Resort

        This 400-room Monarch Beach Resort is a massive 175 acre property set further back from the beach, but offering gorgeous views of both green hills and ocean.  The 18-hole golf course runs perpendicular and slightly downhill to the beach, which makes it an ideal beach and golf resort.  In 2019, they completed Laguna Beach’s only beach club, which offers a beachside restaurant and private beach access with chair setup and service.  This beach club is only open to hotel guests and club members, which is a nice bonus of staying at Monarch Beach Resort.

        For me, the downside was the commute to the beach.  You have to arrive by golf or shuttle cart, which takes about 10-15 minutes, plus the wait time when you’re ready to go.  It’s not a huge deal if you plan to go to the beach and stay put, but if you have little ones and need to go back and forth to the room, it would be a challenge. 

        Other important features of this resort is that it is very kid-friendly and dog-friendly.  Dogs have designated run zones and and trails around the property.  Monarch Beach Resort does have a kids club, though it was not open during our visit.  They created outdoor kids activities and even relocated the gym equipment to an outdoor tented area to allow guests the continued use of the ‘gym.’ 

        The resort has 3 pools – the 2 main ones are nearly side-by-side, separated by a restaurant and gates with one being the family pool and the other being the adults-only pool.  I did feel the pools were on the smaller side for being such a large resort.  The third pool is located in the Miraval spa, which is also adults-only.

        While they have many different types of accommodations, a resort favorite is the fireside junior suites for their ground floor easy access to the outdoor spaces and fire pits that are nice and cozy in the colder months of the year. 

        Book Monarch Beach Resort with Diego Travel to Receive the Following:

        • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
        • Daily full breakfast, for two guests per bedroom in AVEO Table + Bar or via room service ($80 credit per day)
        • $100 USD Resort credit, to be utilized during stay (Cannot be used for room, tax, valet or resort charge, not combinable, not valid on retail items, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
        • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
        • Complimentary Wi-Fi

        We Recommend Monarch Beach Resort For:

        • Large families or family reunions
        • Golfers
        • Corporate or incentive travel
        • Large weddings
        • Large reunions that require large outdoor spaces
        • Those looking for a more lively scene

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        The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel

        Last, but not least, was our stay at The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, the southernmost hotel of the three.  Just in front of Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point, this spot is a favorite to surfers from around the world.  The team at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel made us feel like rock stars, with a VIP welcome and amazing amenity for our kids that made it feel like Christmas morning.  As an independent affiliate of McCabe World Travel, our clients get the privilege of receiving STARS perks at any Ritz Carlton property worldwide.  What does this mean?  It means VIP treatment, priority upgrades, extras throughout, and white glove “Guardian Angel” service throughout your stay.  Why would you ever book direct, when you can book with us and receive all of the above?

        During our visit, California restrictions required any indoor restaurants to remain completely closed.  Due to this, dining options on property were extremely limited, with only 180 Blue, a small outdoor patio with, you guessed it, 180 degree views of the ocean and sunset.  So, this small venue was always to capacity and only allowed for high table seating, which proved challenging with a small 3-year-old.  However, during “normal” times, you would have plenty of indoor dining options.

        Here’s a cool fact about this luxury hotel: Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel is the only Ritz Carlton in the world that overlooks a natural surf break.  So, if you have a surfer in the family (like we do!), then the Ritz Carlton would be a great choice for you.  It is a hike down to the beach, and once there, the hotel does not provide any chairs or beach service like towels or beverage service.  So, keep that in mind when planning your trip.

        The hotel has 396 rooms and suites, with suites recently renovated with beds that have a direct line of vision to the ocean.  Not a bad way to wake up in the morning!  The lobby was renovated in 2018, and standard guest rooms have a planned renovation underway over the next couple of years. 

        For kids and adult activities, the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel provides an eco adventure tour, night crawler hike, and whale watching tours to name a few.  They also provide a complimentary 45 minute photography session if you want to get your holiday card photos taken during your stay.  Personally, the downside to the hotel was the pool.  Located in a courtyard, with zero views to the ocean, I felt it was enclosed and for being on a beach vacation, it would be nice to spend time at the pool feeling the ocean breeze.  I also didn’t like that there is no beachside service or chairs.  However, if those aren’t your priorities and you just want the best spot for easiest access to surf, or the closest hotel to Dana Point, or the hotel with the best views from your room, then Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel is the best choice.  Just be sure to ask us which room category would ensure you have the ocean view you’re craving. 

        Book Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel with Diego Travel to Receive the Ritz Carlton STARS Exclusive Amenities:

        • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
        • The Ultimate Family Beach Vacation Amenity
        • Daily Breakfast for Two at Raya, In-Room Dining, or The Market Place
        • $100 Hotel Credit
        • VIP Status with In-Person Warm Welcome and Note from General Manager
        • First Priority on Wait Lists in Sold-Out Situations
        • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
        • Complimentary Wi-Fi

        We Recommend Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel For: 

        • Surfers- The Ritz Carlton is located directly above Salt Creek, one of Southern California’s iconic surf spots. 
        • Those who love an ocean view but don’t plan to spend much time at the beach or the pool
        • Corporate or incentive travel
        • Ritz Carlton loyalists or Marriott Bonvoy members

         

        Montage Laguna Beach

        Montage Laguna Beach resort is the Montage brand’s premiere property, the first in its portfolio and the pinnacle in Pacific coastal luxury.  From the moment you arrive to the lobby, the floor to ceiling views of the Pacific Ocean are jaw-dropping.  Throughout the pandemic, Montage Laguna Beach never closed, remaining open for locals and clients who were in-the-know to the property’s standards and exclusive access to the beach. 

        This hotel offers 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom suites with three different views.  While all rooms have views of the ocean, the entry level rooms are on the ground floor, or “horizon views.”  One of the advantages of booking your stay with Diego Travel, is you’ll receive an automatic view upgrade at time of booking.  In total, the resort has 258 rooms and suites that underwent a complete renovation in 2019.  The hotel room decor is a soft, neutral, coastal blue palette that feels straight out of the pages of Elle Decor magazine. 

        The biggest highlight of the property is the easy access directly down to the beach, albeit down some pretty steep stairs.  Montage Laguna Beach offers beachside service with chairs and towels, so if the beach is your thing and is high on your priority list, then Montage Laguna Beach should be your first choice.

        Other highlights, especially if you’re traveling with kids, is the amazing kids club and activities menu they offer.  While it’s not included in your hotel stay, they offer half and full-day programs for kids ages 5-12 years old.  While the kids are enjoying their fun outdoor activities like swimming in the pool with mermaid tails on, you can go enjoy one of the 20 spa treatment rooms or the adults-only spa pool. 

        With the option of multiple bedroom units, I love Montage Laguna Beach for family or multi-generational family trips who are looking for the best in service, highest quality accommodations, and al fresco dining with oceanfront views.  It’s also a great options for honeymooners or adults looking to get away for a weekend because you can use the spa pool which also sits in front of the ocean. 

        Book Montage Laguna Beach with Diego Travel to Receive the Following:

        • View upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability (applicable to Ocean Coastal & above)
        • Welcome Amenity
        • $60 daily breakfast credit per bedroom at The Loft or Room Service
        • $100 USD Spa Services credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
        • Early check-in, subject to availability
        • 4pm guaranteed late check-out
        • Complimentary VIP Access to South Coast Plaza, Southern California’s Premier Shopping Destination and exclusive shopping offers/discounts at select luxury retailers.
        • Complimentary Wi-Fi

        *for suite stays of 2 nights or more, spa credit is $200.00

        We Recommend Montage Laguna Beach For:

        • Families
        • Multi-generational families
        • Honeymooners
        • Celebration Travel
        • Small, intimate, and luxury weddings

        Laguna Beach in a Nutshell

        To summarize, whether you’re planning a 2-night stay as a stopover or a week-long summer vacation, Laguna Beach is a great option for a honeymoon, family vacation, or couples trip.  We spent three nights, but felt like we could have spent a lot more, and didn’t even leave the hotels to explore around town.  When you book your vacation with Diego Travel, we provide all the above listed amenities at no extra charge to our clients.  Direct hotel bookings are always complimentary, and when planning or concierge service is involved, there is a minimal custom trip planning fee.  Next time you’re planning to travel worldwide, feel free to reach out to see how we can enhance your travel experience.


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        Laguna Beach- Best hotels and resorts guide

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