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Hotel Review: Four Seasons Hualalai

Diego Travel Hotel Review

Four Seasons Hualalai

A Big Island, Hawaii Luxury Resort
MARIA DIEGO

Located on a half-mile stretch of beach along the Kona Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, Four Seasons Hualalai happens to be the driest part of the island. The resort features 252 newly renovated rooms and suites, a Jack Nicklaus championship golf course, a world-class spa and fitness center, a marine biology center, tennis, on-site ocean activities, retail shops, eight pools including Kings Pond, cultural experiences, and many restaurant options. Of all the Hawaiian resorts, Four Seasons Hualalai offers the most variety of things to do and see.

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

Four Seasons Hualalai

Four Seasons Hualalai Pool

Location:
  • 19.8278417,-155.991648

    Four Seasons Hualalai Pool

    Four Seasons Hualalai

  • 19.743906,-156.0422959812206

    Kona International Airport

Only a 13-minute drive (or 7 miles) from Kona International Airport (KOA), Four Seasons Hualalai 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.

Four Seasons Hualalai Location

Vibe:

Four Seasons Hualalai Vibe

The most luxurious resort option on the Big Island, and arguably all of Hawaii, the Four Seasons Resorts have long been a Hawaii-fan favorite of the luxury travel jetsetters. With four crescents and another set of rooms and villas along the 18-hole golf course, the Four Seasons Hualalai feels like four boutique hotels within a resort. There is truly an area for everyone, whether you are traveling alone, with your loved one and want peace and quiet, or with kids and need multiple rooms. At this resort, it’s important to select the right area of the resort that fits your needs, and we are here to do just that.

After a renovation in 2019, the Four Seasons Hualalai is an exclusive enclave for golf, sunbath on one of the many sandy beaches, bike along the black volcanic rock, or dine at one of the five restaurants around the property. While the resort is large, it is spread out, so you will have ultimate privacy and every amenity for the most selective luxury traveler.

ACCOMMODATIONS:

Four Seasons Hualalai Bedroom

There are rooms, suites, specialty suites and up to 5-bedroom villas. The main differences in room view categories – poolside are the ground floor rooms, ocean view will be set back, but still have ocean views, prime ocean view rooms are set on the upper floors of the two-story bungalows, while the oceanfront views will be front and center to the ocean. Rooms are all 635 square feet, so massive by Hawaii standards.

Four Seasons Hualalai Bathroom

We recommend staying in a specialty suite, where you’ll be taken care of by your own concierge team with customized inclusions, and each suite has its own Peloton bike and fitness equipment. My favorite was the 3-bedroom Hawaii Loa Presidential Suite, where you can walk straight out to the beach, or watch passing humpback whales from bed. Perfect for entertaining or for privacy, you’ll receive daily breakfast and a $200 hotel credit with your Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities when you book your stay with Diego Travel.

LETS SET UP A CALL

FOOD & BEVERAGE:

  • There are five options for dining at Four Seasons Hualalai, which is more than most properties on the Big Island. With an emphasis on local ingredients, more than 75% off what is served comes from a combined 160 local farms. In addition, you have the Hualalai Trading Company, a casual grab-and-go for snacks, morning coffees or afternoon ice cream, and they sell cute apparel and beach items as well.

  • Restaurants La Reserve Paris

  • BookFour Seasons Hualalai

  • ‘ULU Ocean Grill (and sushi bar) is their award winning fine dining, where you can eat under the stars on dishes infusing fresh, local ingredients with flavors found around the Pacific Rim. We loved our poke bowl at Beach Tree, a casual beachside restaurant where you can dine on the sand or at one of the open-air tables on the patio. Finally, Miller & Lux is an intimate seafood and raw bar experience on the golf course, led by Chef Tyler Florence.

ACTIVITIES:

  • One of my family’s favorite things about Four Seasons Resorts is the Four Seasons Kids for All Seasons programming they offer, which incorporates engaging, fun and educational activities included with your stay! For kids ages 5 to 12, they’ll be entertained with arts and crafts, outdoor activities and sports, swimming and meeting kids from around the world. At the Kumu Kai Marine Center, they’ll learn about ocean health and marine life and the team really sparks a passion in your kids’ curiosity. While most resorts forget about the older kids, Four Seasons Hualalai offers ages 9 to 17 time at Camp Manitou, an exclusive partnership with one of the nation’s foremost summer camps, offered during peak family vacation times. Campers will explore beyond the resort to visit secret beaches, exploring lava tubes and waterfalls, and making friends, so they get off their phones and enjoy new experiences.

  • Four Seasons Hualalai Pond

  • Paris Seine River

  • While the kids are playing and entertained, the adults can play pickleball and tennis, golf, bike, hike or enjoy water sports like canoeing, surfing or stand up paddleboarding. The property literally has it all, and if they don’t you’ll find helicopter tours just off property, which can jet you to anywhere on the island in no time for advanced hiking, seeing volcanos, waterfalls or farms.
  • A private boat charter is always one of the highlights of any trip to Hawaii. Four Seasons Hualalai offers both a zodiac for shorter snorkeling trips and an outrigger boat for exploring a bit further to go whale watching, or find private beaches for a picnic lunch.

  • Paris Seine River

  • Hawaii Whales

  • Off property, there is so much more to explore beyond on the Big Island of Hawaii, such as night time manta ray diving, private helicopter tours, or snorkeling in the Kealakekua Bay. You also won’t want to miss the Lu’au that happens every two weeks and is exclusive to Four Seasons guests, so be sure to reserve your dining in advance so you don’t miss out on this cultural experience.

  • Services & Fees

    Services & Fees

WELLNESS:

Perhaps my favorite part of Four Seasons Hualalai is the 28,000-square-foot Spa and Apothecary, which feels decidedly Hawaiian. They offer whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms and cold plunges, along with a lap pool, which has become in high demand when the Big Island hosts the annual Ironman competition.

Four Seasons Hualalai Spa
Four Seasons Hualalai Spa

Entering into the spa, you’ll walk through winding paths tucked between lava rock walls and trickling waterfalls, where you’ll be invited into a freestanding open-air cabana. I recommend the signature Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage, a sacred healing art handed down from generations. I love that they use local ingredients and fragrance-infused oils in all their treatments. You’ll feel like you’re melting into the earth and never want to leave.

What  Sets  It  Apart:

Four Seasons Hualalai Lagoon

As I already mentioned, King’s Pond is a unique attribute that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. Four Seasons Hualalai recently added an elevated, infinity-edge pool that overlooks the pond, where you can marvel over its thousands of fish and resident eagle ray, swimming around the pond. The marine activity center allows you and your kids to become little marine biologists in the making, which is truly a unique experience to Four Seasons Hualalai.

In addition to King’s Pond, Four Seasons Hualalai offers exclusive experiences, such as visiting a local coffee farm with a Hawaiian blacksmith to create a unique, personalized knife, or snorkeling along the Kona Kohala coastline with a champion freediver.

Four Seasons Hualalai Suites

Diego Travel Loves…

In addition to everything already mentioned in this article about Hawaii’s most exclusive hotel, Four Seasons Hualalai, we want to share with you the hotel’s newest bungalows, Kekaha and Kahawai, which has walk-out access to the beach.  These bungalows can be combined to create a 6-bedroom villa, perfect for families traveling together. 

For the ultimate romantic getaway, book a couples nest, which runs you $350/day but includes a dedicated server and cocktails and can include a massage for an additional cost.  Book the Palm Grove Crescent, which is the adults-only area of the hotel.  We can also arrange a special beach dinner for you, which comes with a personalized menu, tiki torches, a blessing from an ‘uncle,’ ukulele player, and hula dancers.

Four Seasons Hualalai Suites

How Much Does it Cost?

Rates start at $1200/night for the poolside room, but as a Four Seasons Preferred Partner client, you’ll have access to exclusive promos like upgrade at time of booking (going on now) or 3rd night free. Before booking, you should always contact me to ask about our promos, which you won’t find direct on the Four Seasons website.

BookFour Seasons Hualalai

Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:
  • 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 box for new Diego Travel clients with custom trip planning

    Book Four Seasons Hualalai Now With Perks

    Diego Travel Insider Tips:

    Average length of stay is 4-5 nights, but we say 7 is just perfect in order to allow you to completely disconnect and fall into the rhythm of island life.

    When booking your spa appointment, ask for an outdoor treatment room; they can be closed off from the elements, and the open ocean air is divine during a treatment!

    Reef-friendly complimentary sunscreen is offered throughout the resort, so if you forgot your sun protection at home or back in your room, they have you covered.

    BookFour Seasons Hualalai

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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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    The Best Of Guide to Montecito, California

    Montecito, California

    The perfect combination of beaches and mountains just two hours north of L.A.
    MARIA DIEGO

    My husband and I used to travel annually to Santa Barbara and Montecito, California for his job. For many years, my brother lived in Santa Ynez Valley, a little known slice of wine country and horse ranch paradise just a one hour drive from Santa Barbara. Summers would be spent taking the kids on trail walks, pony rides, berry picking and leisurely afternoons at different wineries. For a few years, my parents rented a house for a month to gather the family and explore the Santa Barbara region. One of our favorite neighborhoods has always been and always will be Montecito.

    This mountainous yet oceanfront town on the California coast is home to celebrities like Oprah and Prince Harry, with sprawling estates and impeccably maintained landscaping with a wildly European feel. All of these factors are why Montecito is such a special destination to me and my family. I want to share with you not only why I love it so much, but also how you can make the most of your trip to this California coastal destination.

    Perfect For: Family Trips | Weekend Getaways | Road Trip | Romantic Getaways | Special Occasions

    Montecito Travel Guide

    Getting to Montecito

    Getting There

    Montecito is just 15 minutes from Santa Barbara airport which has direct flights from major hubs across the USA. Montecito is only a two-hour drive from LA, making it perfect for a weekend getaway from the city, or part of a longer road trip itinerary.

    Fly: 15 min fromSanta Barbara airport (SBA) .

    Recommended Stay: Weekend getaway to one week.

    Best Time of Year to Visit: July to November

    34.4205946,-119.62839097789907

    Rosewood Miramar Beach

    What to Do in Montecito, California

    • Watersports & Beaches

      Visiting the beaches is a must. Butterfly Beach or Miramar Beach are both popular. Although Miramar Beach Hotel services are for guests only, there is access to the beach for locals through the hotel property. Being located on the coast means it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy some watersports like renting a kayak or trying out some surfing. Hotels like the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel offer equipment rental so you can get out on the water on their beaches. Santa Barbara Harbor located nearby is the perfect place to set off on a fishing trip or whale watching tour. 

    • Montecito California-Beaches and Watersports

    • Montecito California-Shopping

    • Shopping

      Montecito is ideal for shopping lovers! There is a range of shops from Maison K to Mate Gallery and my favorite shop in the country – Wendy Foster, which has a couple of locations on State Street, Montecito and Los Olivos in Santa Ynez Valley.

      Don’t miss the Montecito Country Mart where I found some amazing vintage Gucci Glasses! There’s also so many boutiques and shopping outlets in the hotel resorts which are well worth checking out.

    • Missions and Gardens

      Blessed with an ideal Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara is famous for its beautiful gardens including the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Lotusland and Casa del Herrero. Santa Barbara is also home to the Mission Santa Barbara, a Franciscan mission founded in 1776 known as the “Queen of the Missions”.

    • Mission Santa Barbara

    • Montecito Farmer's Market

    • Santa Barbara

      Being so close to Santa Barbara, you can spend an afternoon or even a full day there relaxing on the beaches, getting out on the water, exploring the town’s boutiques and cultural attractions or enjoying the huge range of culinary experiences on offer. Santa Barbara has six weekly farmers markets, fresh seafood coming in daily and not to mention the range of local ranches and vineyards. 

    • Santa Barbara Zoo

      If you’re traveling with kids, the Santa Barbara Zoo is a must-visit. There’s a miniature zoo train ride, giraffe feeding and several other animal encounters to make it a memorable family day out.

      Make sure to ask at your resort about activities and upcoming events too.

    • Santa Barbara Zoo

    • Santa Barbara Wineries

    • Wine Tours or Tasting Experience

      The climate around Montecito and Santa Barbara is perfect for growing grapes and there’s a range of wineries and vineyards you can visit. Alternatively there are tasting rooms in Santa Barbara if you’d prefer to stay closer to resorts. California wines are some of the most famous in the world, making this a great addition to your Montecito itinerary.

    Where to Stay in Montecito California

    Where to Stay in Montecito, California

    Montecito and Santa Barbara are home to some amazing hotels and resorts such as the Four Seasons Santa Barbara, The Bacara Resort, which was recently taken over by the Ritz Carlton, and smaller boutique properties such as Belmond El Encanto and San Ysidro Ranch.

    San Ysidro Ranch

    San Ysidro Ranch

    Set back in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains, the San Ysidro Ranch is perfect for those travelers who seek out the smaller, more secluded and boutique locations. Setting foot on the ranch, tucked away in 550 acres, you feel at one with nature which is a huge focus of the property.

    The San Ysidro Ranch has been welcoming guests since 1893 and it absolutely capitalizes on that historic charm as part of the luxurious, secluded experience. With 38 vine-covered cottages across the hillside, surrounded by lush gardens buzzing with bees, each cottage comes with its own large stone fireplace, four-poster bed, private patio, sunken spa and outdoor shower. The vaulted ceilings and stone fireplaces bring a touch of mountain chalet style to the easy, open-plan California living.

    San Ysidro offers three dining options which combine farmhouse ranch style decor with award-winning cuisine and a famous wine cellar! Dining under the twinkling lights on the terrace in summer, or by the huge stone fire in the winter, you’re guaranteed a unique dining experience that’s perfect for romantic occasions.

    One of my favorite things about the property is the unique experiences they offer for guests. Their Signature Salon and Spa, Private Dining and Exclusive Wine Tasting are also ideal for couples getaways, romantic treats and special occasions. The amenities on the resort also include a heated swimming pool, fitness studio, yoga classes, live music every night and lawn games and minigolf.

    The Ranch is also a great option for those who prefer a more active vacation. The resort has botanical gardens on the property to explore, plus access to 17 miles of hiking trails on their doorstep. There’s also bicycle rental and access to the private golf course at Montecito Club.

    Book the San Ysidro Ranch with Diego Travel to receive the following:

    • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
    • Continental breakfast daily in the Stonehouse, for two guests per bedroom
    • $100 USD Food & Beverage credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
    • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
    • Personalized selection of the right cottage for you, thanks to my personal relationship with the team at San Ysidro Ranch
    • $100 bonus when you book with Diego Travel
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

    We recommend the San Ysidro Ranch for:

    Couples | Small Weddings | Honeymoon | Anniversary | A Tranquil Escape from the City | Privacy & Exclusivity | Romantic Getaways

    Four Seasons Santa Barbara

    Four Seasons Resort: The Biltmore Santa Barbara

    *NOTE the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort is currently closed for renovations

     Located in Montecito itself and on a property of 22 acres, the Spanish Colonial style, open fires and terracotta tiles give you the feeling that you’ve stepped straight into Europe. The courtyards woven between villas and bungalows give this a relaxed yet luxurious feel which ties in perfectly with the mountainous backdrop.

    The Four Seasons offers a combination of Rooms, Bungalows, Villas and Suites. The entry-level Jungle and Garden rooms are surrounded by leafy greenery, immersing you in a jungle oasis. While the ocean view rooms are the next step up and allow you to enjoy your ocean view from your own private terrace.

    The Bungalows are perfect for four adults or two adults and two children, while the Fremont Bungalow is the ultimate secluded experience with two bedrooms, a large terracotta tile patio, a fire pit and a heated plunge pool.

    The Ty Warner villa offers 180-degree ocean views, a private pool and a large outdoor patio and entertaining area. For just two adults, this is the perfect retreat for couples.

    If you can tear yourself away from the beautiful rooms, the resort offers six food and drink options including the Italian-inspired Bella Vista which offers organic California cuisine with panoramic ocean views. The Coral Cafe and Bar is perfect for families and casual light bites throughout the day.

    The Four Seasons resort at Montecito is home to one of the largest hotel swimming pools in the world at its Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club. Here you’ll find a 50m Olympic sized oceanfront pool, fitness centre, yoga classes, sauna and steam rooms, a kids pool and direct access to Butterfly Beach. Plus there is a range of spa and wellness treatments for the ultimate relaxation.

    Book the Four Seasons Santa Barbara with Diego Travel to receive the following:

    • 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) enriching your clients’ stay with their choice of experience – from spa and dining to recreation:
    • 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**
    • Complimentary standard Internet in all guest rooms and premium Internet in all suites

    We recommend the Four Seasons Santa Barbara for:

    Couples Getaways | Honeymooners | Special Occassions | Business Trips  |  Larger Groups or Incentive Trips

    Rosewood Miramar

    Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel, Montecito

    The first thing that strikes you about the Rosewood Miramar Resort in Montecito is the effortless luxurious beach-living vibe that exudes from the hotel, the decor, its location and the amenities. The Rosewood Miramar was the property I was most excited about visiting and it was without a doubt, the highlight of our California coast road trip.

    With 160 rooms ranging from Guest Rooms to Beachfront Bungalows and the Ambassador Suite, there are accommodation options to suit various price points and group sizes. They even offer the option of Studios to cater for groups of three.

    The Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort is Montecito’s only truly oceanfront resort property and boasts direct access to Miramar Beach. The hotel also offers a range of outdoor activities to complement its beautiful location, including family beach yoga, sunset beach walks, sea kayaking and Hobie Cat rental and even private charters so you can sail the California coastline.

    I love that the Rosewood Miramar Beach resort is also the only 5-star Forbes spa in Santa Barbara, so you can expect nothing but five star treatment at the Sense Rosewood Spa and wellness centre which boasts a fitness centre and adults-only pool as well as a huge range of rejuvenating spa and wellness treatments.

    Our stay at the hotel was incredibly relaxing thanks to its beach location and the amenities on offer, plus the added bonus of six restaurants available at the property, so we rarely needed to venture far for dining. Caruso’s is the gourmet option which we were treated to on the first night of our stay and the food was just incredible.

    Book the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel with Diego Travel to receive the following:

    • Exclusive Rosewood Elite Amenities
    • Complimentary one category upgrade upon arrival, based on availability
    • Daily USD $30 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

    We recommend the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel for:

    Small families | Honeymooners | Romantic Getaways | An escape from the city

    Belmond El Encanto

    EL ENCANTO, A BELMOND HOTEL

    El Encanto became a hotel in 1918 and as a 105-year-old property, it manages to effortlessly combine historic charm with a touch of Hollywood, perched high in the Santa Barbara Hills of California. Offering unparalleled views of the American Riviera.

    The rooms combine Spanish colonial style with laidback California craft. The resort effortlessly manages to exude glitz and glamour, while giving you the relaxed coastal California vibe as you unwind poolside at the zero-edge pool, enjoy the local wine and cuisine or stroll in their seven acres of secluded gardens. Views of the American Riviera from high in the hills, adds to that feeling of luxury and exclusivity that Belmond achieves to effortlessly.

    The resort offers a great amount of flexibility for groups such as families or small wedding parties, with rooms and suites able to be adapted depending on your group and the number of bedrooms needed. Despite the size of the resort, the luxurious feel of the bungalow-style suites help you feel at home while also exuding glamour and elegance.

    Book El Encanto with Diego Travel to receive the following:

    • Diego Travel is a Belmond Bellini preferred partner and we get our clients access to exclusive promotions that can’t be booked online
    • Additional Belmond Bellini amenities
    • Priority upgrade
    • Daily breakfast included
    • Resort Credit
    • When you book your stay with a minimum spend, you’ll receive a $500 gift card toward a future Belmond Hotels stay
    • Guests who purchase a luxury experience with Belmond worth a minimum of $5,000 USD will receive a $500 USD gift voucher per booking to be used on a future stay at any other Belmond Property

    We recommend the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel for:

    Groups of Couples | Large Groups of Friends | Families with Older Children | Destination Weddings | Romantic Getaways | Special Occasions

    Where to Eat in Montecito California

    Where to Eat in Montecito, California?

    • Caruso’s

      Caruso’s, Rosewood Miramar’s 1 Star Michelin restaurant offers oceanfront al fresco dinning . Its light and stylish decor is reminiscent of mediterranean beachfront restaurants and offers some of the best ocean views of the American Riviera.

    • Jeannine’s Restaurant and Bakery

      Jeannine’s has been a Montecito institution for over 30 years. With Cafe menus serving breakfast and lunch, as well as a bakery full of cakes, scones and sweet treats, it’s great for breakfast or snacks on the go while you’re exploring Montecito and beyond.

    • Bree’osh Bakery Cafe

      A sumptuous bakery cafe you have to visit! With pastries, buns and quiches and all available at curbside pick up, Bree’osh is an easy way to grab something to eat on the go.

      They also offer baking and cookery classes if you want to try something a little different!

    • Honor Bar, Montecito

      Open from 11 AM till late, the Honor Bar serves sandwiches, burgers, pizza and light bites during the day and also offers a great range of wines, beers and cocktails in the evening too.

      With a slightly more formal dress code, this is a great option for romantic evening meals if you’re looking for somewhere outside the resort.

    • The Stonehouse

      The Stonehouse is located in the historic 19th-century citrus packing house at San Ysidro Ranch, with creek views and a dining experience that feels as if you’ve stepped into the vineyards of Italy.

      The unique take on American style cuisine is award-winning and consistently voted the top dining experience in Santa Barbara. With open fires and an ocean-view terrace, this is a truly romantic dining experience.

    • Rancho San Ysidro Restaurants

    • Bouchon

      Bouchon is a top choice in Santa Barbara with passionate owners, Amy and Mitchell, catering for any dietary requirements and producing spectacular dishes.

    A Few of My Favorite Things

    • It’s the perfect city escape. Being less than 2 hours from LA, it’s an ideal destination for a weekend break by the ocean.
    • The relaxed vibe. Santa Barbara is a favorite destination for the same reason, but Montecito has something special. Thanks to its smaller size and with hotels like Rosewood Miramar Beach being right on the waterfront, you really have the opportunity to unwind and relax.
    • The Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel. Being the first truly beachfront resort in Montecito already makes this hotel special. But each detail is so thoughtfully prepared throughout the property that it really was the highlight of our California road trip.
    • With the beach and mountains both nearby, there’s plenty to do in and around Montecito and Santa Barbara for any kind of traveler. Whether you’re a hiker or surfer planning an active vacation, or if you’re looking forward to enjoying some downtime on the beach or by the pool on a more relaxing getaway, Montecito can offer you both.
    Montecito is a great option for families, couples or special occasions. With the choice of hotel resorts, and having the mountains and the beach on your doorstep, there’s enough adventure or relaxation to design your perfect California coastal getaway. Contact Diego Travel today so we can help you book your perfect Montecito vacation.
     


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    Hotel Review: The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

    Hotel Review

    The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

    A modern reinvention of an iconic century-old desert oasis resort in Paradise Valley
    MARIA DIEGO

    After a significant reinvention completed in 2022, the iconic Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore has brought together the best of the past with elements of Hollywood glamor and Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, combined with modern luxuries, extensive amenities and innovative guest services for the ultimate experience in desert luxury.

    Perfect For: Families | Couples | Luxury Travel | Large groups or Multi-generational Families | Honeymoons | Weddings | Foodies | Spa Seekers | Adults-Only Trips | Meetings and Events | Private Gatherings or Celebrations

    • 33.523623099999995,-112.02368914025973

      Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore

    • 33.43284865,-112.00679145657891

      Phoenix International Airport

    The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Location: Located in Paradise Valley, the most exclusive neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona, The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is a desert oasis next to Downtown Phoenix and Old Town Scottsdale.

    Getting There: The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, is conveniently located just 20 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore Vibe

    Vibe: The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, is a sprawling desert oasis which is conveniently located close to downtown Phoenix but also manages to feel a million miles away from everything, surrounded by mountain ranges and palm trees. 

    The luxury Phoenix resort recently underwent a renovation that has created a masterful blend of family-oriented areas and dedicated adults-only areas and amenities, from amazing foodie spots to jam-packed activity options to the 12-room spa and Sol garden. The reinvention of the Arizona Biltmore has put intuitive hospitality and its 100-year history at the heart of the incredible services it provides. 

    With nothing being too much trouble and with 7 pools, over 700 rooms, an extensive spa, 9 dining options, resort activities for the whole family or romantic spaces for a special getaway, the Arizona Biltmore makes it easy to design a vacation that feels unique and personal to you.

    Accommodations: With over 700 rooms and 30 room categories, there is no shortage of rooms, suites, villas and cottages to choose from. Diego Travel will help you hand-select the right room category and location for your needs.

    The resort’s famous cottages were built in 1929 and combine Hollywood glamor with the laidback desert chic which has become symbolic of the resort. Each cottage was lovingly restored in 2021 and offers a unique design covering 400+ square feet, cozy interiors and private outdoor spaces including a fire pit. These spaces can accommodate up to 10 people, while balconies can also be combined for adjoining cottages for up to 20 people.

    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore-Rooms

    There are a range of room options available. Those in the Valley or Garden wing are larger and we can arrange for the best room to suit your party and needs.

    There are two suite options, a one bedroom suite is 1200 sq ft and a two bedroom suite is 1600 sq ft. These spacious options are great for more privacy or space for families or a special getaway for couples.

    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore-Suites

    Villas are a true, home-away-from-home experience with 77 villas in total, although some are privately owned. With one- and two-bedroom options, each villa comes with a full kitchen, vaulted ceilings, a private patio or balcony and bespoke amenities for the ultimate indulgence.

    The Arizona Biltmore also offers a Citrus Club Lounge add-on available with some of its accommodations. This is an exclusive, top tier, adults only experience available at an additional rate per person per day. It includes lunch, drinks and dessert all day, dedicated concierge, buffet dining and bar selection all day and priority access to resort amenities such as the spa or dining. The Citrus Club service and attention to detail makes it a great addition for a special trip.

    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore Room Bathroom

    Food & Beverage: 

    One of the highlights of the Arizona Biltmore is the dining options available, from casual poolside bars to sophisticated private dining. Renata’s Hearth is a standout serving modern Latin cuisine with a sophisticated interior and lively atmosphere. It’s also family friendly which is a great bonus.

    McArthur’s is a casual restaurant and bar in the heart of the resort serving American classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore-Restaurant
    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore-Restaurants

    For a sophisticated sundowner, The Spire Bar is the perfect spot for evening drinks as the day cools off. While the Wright Bar is your ideal after dinner spot, combining Biltmore glamor in an intimate space with live entertainment on weekends. This is the bar where the Hollywood Golden Age is embodied at the Biltmore.

    Cup & Cone is a casual, family friendly cafe with desserts and coffee galore. While poolside dining and in-room dining are both available. We personally loved the Lobster rolls by the pool!

    Wellness & Spa: Perhaps the most impressive part of the resort was the new spa facilities at the Waldorf Arizona Biltmore. The Tierra Luna spa focuses on an intuitive and holistic approach to wellness. There are 12 treatment rooms and two couples rooms available for a vast array of spa treatments using locally sourced oils, herbs and native scents. A spa treatment also gives you access to the Sol Garden and Soul Sunday’s are offered once a month for a 3-4 hour experience.

    For a more active wellness experience, there is an extensive 3000 sq ft fitness center, a Shred Shed with CrossFit equipment as well as three tennis courts, four pickle ball courts and seven pools meaning you have plenty of choice for staying active on the resort.

    Personal training and fitness classes for yoga or water aerobics are a great option if you’re looking for a more restorative experience and steam rooms are available in the changing rooms.

    Spa at Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore
    Spa at Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore

    Phoenix and Scottsdale are well-known for world-class shopping, and the Arizona Biltmore is located right next to the Biltmore Fashion Park, with great dining and shopping options.

    Also nearby is the Scottsdale Fashion Square which is home to 200+ retailers including nearly 50 exclusive stores not found elsewhere in the state such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Prada, Gucci, Bulgari, Salvatore Ferragamo, CH Carolina Herrera, Escada and Dior.  Diego Travel clients receive the Visitor Savings Pass and receive special offers and amenities courtesy of participating retailers.

    Activities: Even a quick glance at the resort calendar shows you how much is on offer at the resort. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing resort vacation or an action-packed trip, the Arizona Biltmore does a great job at catering to your vacation style.

    With seven pools, a diverse array of dining and beverage options, state-of-the-art fitness and spa facilities, you have so much to do at the resort itself. As well as daily activities such as yoga, pilates, tennis lessons, pickleball and tennis lesions and TRX classes. The resort is also a golf lover’s paradise, being home to the Links Course and Adobe Course.

    The resort also offers daily history tours, live music sessions at the Wright Bar and seasonal activities such as Winter Solstice sound bowl meditations or dried flower centerpiece workshops.

    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore-Pool

    What  Sets  It  Apart: For almost a century, The Arizona Biltmore Waldorf Astoria Resort has stood as an Arizona landmark and one of the world’s most recognized resorts for its Frank Lloyd Wright architectural style, intuitive hospitality and storied history.

    Its recent renovation and reinvention has elevated the resort to another level for luxury vacations in Arizona and indulgent escapes where the staff and services go above and beyond so you truly feel like you’re immersed in a desert paradise. With a sophisticated adult pool, a fun family pool, an incredible outdoor bar, and fresh spa & fitness facilities and dining options, the resort has been given a new life while honoring its century-old heritage.

    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore-Paradise Valley
    Bouganvillea at Rancho San Ysidro

    How Much Does The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort Cost? Standard rooms start at around $300 per night during low season, and during peak  season can start around $900 per night.

    All Citrus Club Lounge options are in addition and charged per day, per adult.

    Diego Travel Loves: The truly seamless blend of the resort’s glamorous history with updated amenities and incredible resort services. With such a diverse range of activities, events, accommodation, dining and recreation, you’re truly able to build a vacation and an itinerary that works for you and your travel group. Plus, as a Preferred Partner with the Arizona Biltmore in combination with Virtuoso, your stay gets additional perks such as exclusive shopping discounts at three local shopping destinations, daily breakfast, resort credit, and priority upgrade.  

    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore
    Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore Hotel

    Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

    • Daily complimentary breakfast
    • A one-time resort credit of $100
    • Priority upgrade
    • Welcome amenity
    • Receive a Visitors’ Saving Pass for Scottsdale Fashion Square

      Insider Tips:

      Cabana Suite $3 at the family pool is the best one, so be sure to book it as soon as we book your hotel reservation.  

      The poolside rooms usually book up first, for easy access to the pool and a nice reprieve with air conditioning during summer months.  The caveat here is that they can be noisier during busy times.

      With a Citrus Club stay, they’ll provide shoe shining and press your garments for no additional charge.

      The poolside lobster rolls are to die for!

      With three tennis courts and 4 pickle ball courts, there is plenty of space to get court time in while on vacation.

      Did you know that the insignia design in the concrete blocks was designed after the trunk of a palm tree?

      When you book your stay at the Arizona Biltmore with Diego Travel, we’ll provide our local’s recommendations for restaurants and shops, coming from a native Phoenician.  

      Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore-Rooms

      Summary of Our Stay:

      I think it really is unique to see such dedication to the heritage of a property and the thoughtful design, reinvention and concept are all a testament to the commitment of the Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore.

      To be able to effortlessly combine family-friendly and adults-only amenities into one resort is an achievement that the Arizona Biltmore pulls off seamlessly. We felt their attention to detail and personalization of our stay was spot on.

      To plan your next getaway to this luxury Phoenix hotel, contact Diego Travel to start planning your trip.  Whether you’re looking for a room block with a group rate for your corporate travel group, or you want one room for your leisure vacation, we are here to help.

      Waldorf Astoria Arizona Biltmore Hotel

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      Hotel Review: ALiLa Napa Valley

      Hotel Review

      ALiLa Napa Valley

      A Luxury Adults Only Hotel in Napa Valley
      MARIA DIEGO

      Located just minutes from downtown St. Helena in the heart of Napa Valley, ALiLa Napa Valley is the perfect base for a romantic getaway or vacation with friends to explore California Wine Country. Originally a physician’s home built in 1905, the historical building is now known as Acacia House, and welcomes you in for a delicious cocktail and mouthwatering meal, both made with fresh local ingredients and served up by their expert mixologists and chefs. The historical “gateway” into the property is a warm juxtaposition next to the modernized wings where the rooms and suites are located.

      While there are many fantastic hotels and resorts to choose from in Napa and Sonoma Valley, the location of ALiLa Napa Valley make it ideal for daily outings to the local wineries, and the warm and friendly staff make you feel like you’re coming home after each day of adventure.

      Perfect For: Honeymoons | Weddings | Bachelorette Groups and Parties | Bachelor Parties | Romantic Getaways | Incentive Trips | Corporate Groups | Adults Only Groups | Friend Getaways | Corporate Meetings | Spa Seekers | Foodies

      ALiLa Napa Valley Location: Located in the heart of St. Helena, ALiLa Napa Valley is also in the center of Napa Valley.

      Getting There: The nearest airport, Santa Rosa Airport (STS) is just 17 miles from ALiLa Napa Valley, or San Francisco Airport (SFO) is just over 2 hours. Other nearby airports include Sacramento (SMF) or Oakland (OAK).

      • 38.5093871,-122.478475

        ALiLa Napa Valley

      • 37.622451999999996,-122.38398938548363

        San Fransisco International Airport

      Alila Napa Vibe

      Vibe: Because ALiLa Napa Valley is adults-only, the atmosphere lends itself to being more peaceful and zen-like. The staff is approachable and friendly, and I found strangers gathering in Acacia House, sharing stories of winery visits and restaurant dishes before or after dinner. The property is small and intimate, but the rooms themselves are spacious and offer complete privacy. Whether you’re the type of person who likes to mix and mingle with fellow travelers, or keep to yourself, I think you can accomplish both things here at ALiLa Napa Valley. It is less spread out than other nearby properties like Auberge Stanley Ranch or Carneros Resort and Spa, but the intimacy delivers a touch more charm in my opinion.

      While Napa is packed with more bars and restaurants, St. Helena is the best place for wine enthusiasts looking for a more elevated experience. ALiLa Napa Valley just happens to be the best hotel in St. Helena!

      Accomodations: The room categories for the 64 luxury hotel rooms and suites at ALiLa Napa Valley are quite straight forward and easy to understand. The Historic Farmhouse Rooms are the entry level rooms located on the second floor in the Acacia House, and I do not recommend booking, unless you’re looking for a more B&B-style experience. From there, rooms move to either the estate view wing or the vineyard view wing, and offer only king beds or queen/queen bed options. While both buildings offer pretty views, if I’m going to be in Napa Valley, I want to be looking out over an expansive vineyard. All rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors, making the most of this gorgeous view with a mountain in the backdrop. Depending on whether you want a full separate living room, or if you’re okay with just a bedroom, should determine whether you’ll require a room or suite. Popular with small groups or gatherings is the Corner King Vineyard View with Balcony. There are only a few of these, and with a large wraparound balcony, there is ample space to order hors d’oeuvres and bottles of wine to enjoy the view overlooking the pool area and vineyard either pre- or post-activities. The largest room category is the Vineyard View Suite, featuring a king bedroom with separate living room and approximately 1,480 square feet of space. When you book your stay with Diego Travel, as a Hyatt Privé member, you will receive an upgrade at time of booking along with other Hyatt Privé amenities like breakfast included and a resort credit.

      Alila Napa Bathroom
      Alila Napa Terrace
      Bouchon

      Food & Beverage: Perhaps one of the best things about ALiLa Napa Valley are the foodie options in and around this hotel. Acacia House serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and their award-winning mixologist serves up pairings for each meal. With dishes such as Golden Saffron Risotto & Brentwood Corn or the Iberico Pork Schnitzel with crème fraiche and caviar, the dishes are unique but maintain simplicity with their locally-sourced ingredients. The Lounge is the newly opened outdoor social bar, which offers cocktails, wine and light bites with a seasonal menu. Beyond the offerings at ALiLa Napa Valley, you are in close proximity to famous staples located in the nearby towns of Yountville and Calistoga. From The French Laundry, Bouchon Bistro, Ad Hoc in Yountville to Press, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, to the casual Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena, eating and drinking will be at the forefront of your trip. The concierge team at ALiLa Napa Valley does an excellent job of curating a program for you that includes all the best spots for both food and wineries, but also exploration, shopping and adventures along the way. While the wine train is a popular way to see wine country, I prefer to send my clients with a private driver, so that they can go at their own pace. However, we can tailor your trip to include whatever you want!

      Wellness/SPA: The wellness program and Spa at ALiLa Napa Valley was one of my favorite aspects of the hotel. Experiences range from forest bathing at the nearby redwood forest national park to sound bath healing using a guided meditation through use of crystal sound bowls. They also offer yoga, pilates, sip-and-paint classes, astrology readings and of course exceptional spa treatments. We did a Scents of the Valley journey, where a local perfumer led us through an hour-long educational and interactive scent experience, and we got to go home with our own creations, made with the local flora of labdanum, lavender, pink peppercorn and fir. I highly recommend this class for groups of girlfriends who are wanting some fun downtime together as a pre- or post-activity to spa treatments.

      Alila Napa Spa

      St Helena

      Shopping: Long considered Napa Valley’s Main Street, downtown St. Helena has a variety of charming shops, galleries and can’t-miss food stops like Model Bakery, which has been in its location since 1908 and whipping up the perfect pastries in their original ovens since the 1920s. Oprah added their Morning Glory English muffins to her Favorite Things List back in 2016, and the bakery has had a line out the door ever since. If you’ll need new pants following your growing waistline post-bakery, you can stop into a personal favorite, elysewalker  for a wardrobe chic enough for the most discerning Napa wineries and galleries.

      BottleRock Napa Valley is another favorite attraction for the area. This annual celebration of the best music, wine and food happens at the end of May, but you’ll need to plan ahead and hotels and tickets sell out.

      The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone  is located less than 1 mile from ALiLa Napa valley and is home to multiple award-winning restaurants that are open to the public, including Gatehouse Restaurant, The Bakery Café, and the Greystone Wine Bar & Herb Terrace.

      Wine Tasting: Within 20 minutes of ALiLa Napa Valley, there are 40 different wineries that range from every type of wine imaginable. These are all the best wineries of Napa Valley. I am not kidding when I say that ALiLa Napa Valley is ideally located for wine tasting. When you work with Diego Travel, we customize your itinerary depending on the types of wines you like and your budget. Whether you’re looking for big name brands or small family-owned and operated homestead wineries, we will point you in the right direction.

      Outdoor Activities: Worth mentioning are the numerous outdoor activities there are to do in and around St. Helena in Napa Valley. From golfing, kayaking, hot air balloon rides, cycling and the Napa wine train, we can customize an itinerary for you that includes a little of everything and makes the most of your time in Napa Valley. No two trips are ever created the same for our clients. Looking to propose or renew your vows on this romantic getaway? We work with partners in Napa Valley to make these experiences one-of-a-kind.

      What  Sets  It  Apart: Aside from the ideal location to the best wineries and restaurants, what sets ALiLa Napa Valley apart from other resorts and hotels in Napa Valley is the attention to detail and care that the staff pours into your stay. From personalized welcome amenities to the genuine friendships you’ll form while on property, I felt truly looked after at ALiLa Napa Valley in comparison to some other Napa properties.

      ALiLa Napa Valley is not a sprawling resort and does not have many of the amenities that other Napa Valley hotels might have, but the comfortable and sleekly decorated rooms make for the perfect place to lay your head at night after full days of Napa activities. If you’re looking for a boutique property in the heart of it all, I truly think there is no better place.

      Alila Napa
      Alila Napa Pool

      How Much Does it Cost? ALiLa Napa Valley ranges from around $900 for an entry level room in low season to around $3,500 for a top suite in high season.

      Diego Travel Loves: Because our clients get Hyatt Privé perks, I love that the ALiLa Napa Valley team always takes care of my clients like they are family. I know when I send someone there, they’ll collaborate on the itinerary with me as if they were planning their own weekend there for the first time, highlighting their favorite spots and insider tips throughout my clients’ stays.

      What we love about the Bel-Air
      Extras you get booking with Diego Travel at Hotel Bel-Air

      Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

      • Hyatt Privé Exclusive Offers
      • $100 USD Hotel Credit
      • Room Upgrade
      • Breakfast for Two
      • Welcome Amenity
      • Early Check-In/Late Check-Out
      • Connecting Rooms

      Insider Tips:

      Don’t miss the opportunity for a cocktail-making class, which we can set up with a mixologist during your dinner at Acacia House. We made lavender and rosemary cocktails using fresh, local herbs, and it was one of many highlights during our stay.

      When planning a group trip, we can assist you with room placement, to ensure rooms are located nearby to one another. As there are separate buildings, you’ll definitely want to consult with us to ensure proximity, as placement can be key here.

      Finally, don’t miss your VIP access to Beringer Vineyards, adjacent to the property and California’s oldest operating winery. We loved B Cellars too, with wine tastings paired with B bites. 


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      5 Mini Vacations To Plan Now

      5 Mini Vacations to Plan Now

      Maximizing Your Mini Vacation

      5 Mini Vacations to Plan Now

      MARIA DIEGO

      As summer comes to a close, you might want to think about what’s up next. To make this easy, we’ve put together a selection of 5-day trips that you can squeeze in for fall travel.

      5 PLACES FOR 5-NIGHTS

      1. IRELAND

      Delve into the craic of this ancient city of Dublin, brimming with castles, cathedrals, and pubs. Take in Irish history at the Epic Immigration Museum or the downtown’s plentiful free museums, including the popular Natural History Museum. Revel in the music of cozy pubs, plunge into Temple Bar’s lively heart, and cap off with a pint at the iconic Guinness Storehouse, savoring city views. The cherry on top? U.S. pre-clearance at Dublin’s airport streamlines your journey home.

      Want to explore more of the country-side? We have many properties up our sleeve that are the perfect one-stop-shop for golfing, culinary experiences, and pub crawls.

      Bummer! Kids club is closed

      2. San Diego

      I may be biased as I count North County San Diego as home, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better place to visit in the fall. Experience exceptional weather, stunning beaches, and a blend of diverse cultures in this captivating coastal city. With its Spanish roots dating back to 1769, the city boasts architectural gems including the Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial Revival structures housing Balboa Park’s museums and shops. Head north to explore Encinitas, a surfers haven, and appreciate the mile-long sandy shoreline of La Jolla Shores. Beyond the beach, the rugged cliffs and scenic trails at Torrey Pines State Beach park add a dash of adventure, making San Diego the perfect short getaway.

      Contact me to match you to the best property based on your needs – as well as receive elevated treatment, perks, and amenities extended to Diego Travel clients.

      Expect limited dining option while traveling in the age of COVID

      3. Iceland

      I am headed to Iceland in November, to experience it first-hand so I can better advise my clients. Iceland is an easy 5-night trip from the East Coast, where you can explore the northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik. Visit the architectural marvel of Hallgrimskirkja, and immerse in Viking history at the National Museum of Iceland. Sample local specialties in Reykjavik’s innovative food scene and enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife. Just outside, the Golden Circle route offers a day trip filled with geothermal wonders and majestic waterfalls. Unwind at the end in the world-famous Blue Lagoon’s geothermal waters.

      Checking into a hotel the age of Covid-19

      4. Punta Mita

      I’m headed here in October, and will be staying at 3 of the leading resorts. I’ve previously stayed at two others, so I feel like this week will allow me to guide you to the very best option for you. With its pristine beaches and upscale resorts, it’s a haven for relaxation and high-end leisure. Here, you can tee off on championship golf courses, explore the biodiverse Maritas Islands, or bask on the breathtaking Playa Destiladeras. Delight in the local food scene, a fusion of indigenous flavors and global cuisine, and soak up the vibrant culture in traditional Huichol craft shops and bustling beachfront fish markets. In Punta Mita, every moment promises an unforgettable Mexican escapade.

      Networking during Virtuoso’s anual conference

      5. Montana

      Fall in Montana is the perfect time of year if you’re looking for a romantic getaway. There are many options, from Triple Creek Ranch, the Resort at Rock Creek and the new Montage Big Sky. Did you know that at all Montage hotels, you’ll receive an upgrade at time of booking? Along with daily breakfast. $100 hotel credit, and a VIP welcome. It’s the perfect time to discover Big Sky’s newest hot spot.


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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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        Top 5 Best Luxury Hotels & Resorts for 2023

        The Best 5 Luxury Hotels & Resorts for 2023

        MARIA DIEGO

        We hand-picked our 5 top hotels and resorts for 2023. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation. For each of our top choices, we’ve provided similar alternatives. As a Virtuoso travel agency, Diego Travel adds value and additional amenities to your stay every time. Contact us here to get started planning your 2023 vacation!

        • Nihi Sumba

          Nihi Sumba

          Indonesia

        • One&Only Gorilla’s Nest Suite

          One&Only Gorilla’s Nest

          Rwanda

        • The Brando, Bora Bora

          French Polynesia

        • Aman Kyoto and Amanemu

          Japan

        • Corinthia London

          Corinthia London

          United Kingdom

        Nihi Sumba Villas

        1. Nihi Sumba, Indonesia

        Very few luxury all inclusive resorts in the world have left such an impression on us as Nihi Sumba in Indonesia.

        If you’re searching for off-the-beaten-path all inclusive luxury vacations in 2023, Nihi Sumba checks all the boxes – an exclusive, remote location, sustainable ethos, true luxury and incredible facilities and hospitality.

        Located in the wilderness on the small Indonesian island of Sumba, this isn’t the easiest luxury resort to reach, but that’s part of its appeal and only adds to the exclusive atmosphere of the property.

        Nihi Sumba is all about creating an experience for its guests, from picking you up at the airport in an open air jeep with fresh coconuts, to your own private butler or “captain” who personally takes care of you and your villa during your stay.

        There are 23 villas at Nihi and all of them are unique, varying from 1 to 4 bedrooms depending on your needs and the size of your travel group.

        Despite being on a small, remote island, there is so much to do! Surfing lessons, sunset horseback rides, releasing turtles, chocolate making and a spa safari which was a level of luxury and relaxation that I’d never experienced in my life.

        The barefoot luxury of Nihi Sumba perfectly combines high-level luxury with comfortable relaxation. There is no rush, no thoughts of the outside world beyond the island, just pure bliss.

        Nihi Sumba is the perfect luxury resort for honeymoons, romantic escapes into nature and eco-conscious travelers.

        Get additional amenities and added value when booking your stay with Diego Travel.

        Nihi Sumba

         When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
        • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
        • Daily Full Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
        • $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit to be utilized during stay
        • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
        • Complimentary Wi-Fi
        • Complimentary 60 minute massage

        Book Now

        Similar Properties:

        One&Only Gorilla’s Nest Suite

        2. One & Only Gorilla’s Nest, Rwanda

        An African safari is a bucket list travel experience for many people, but when it comes to luxury safari lodges and resorts in Africa, One & Only Gorilla’s Nest in Rwanda is above and beyond the rest. In fact, it’s my favorite resort of all time – and that’s a big statement for Diego Travel!

        We flew in by helicopter and were greeted by African dancers who made us feel so welcome and like a true celebrity, which considering Bill Gates was one of the first guests on the property, that should tell you the level of luxury offered at One&Only Gorilla’s Nest.

        Go Gorilla trekking, have the chance to see the Big 5 on safari, embrace adventure in Volcanoes National Park, visit a Rwandan village, relax in the incredible spa and wellness facilities at the property – whatever you choose, a memorable trip is guaranteed.

        For those who have had gorilla trekking high on their bucket list, I can tell you that this is a once in a lifetime experience that did not disappoint. I went on the trek two days in a row and each day is different, the guides and porters are wonderful and it’s an experience I will never forget.

        There are just 21 rooms at the property which enhances the exclusivity of this luxury Africa resort. But when I say rooms, there’s nothing small or entry level at the resort. Each room has a sitting area, open fireplace, private deck and outdoor shower. Our stay at the 2-bedroom Forest View Lodge was beyond any luxury resort I’d experienced before. And there is an understated luxury in every detail, from the bespoke bed sheets and underfloor heating to the specially made gluten-free snacks for me and the fine china in the room’s snack bar.

        This luxury resort in Rwanda is perfect for adventure seekers, nature lovers, bucket list experiences and those looking for privacy and exclusivity while experiencing the best of Africa.

        Contact Us

        Gorilla Baby

         When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
        • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
        • Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
        • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage or Spa credit to be utilized during stay
        • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
        • Complimentary Wi-Fi
        • Complimentary 60 minute massage
        Similar Properties:

        The Brando, Bora Bora

        3. The Brando, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

        Bora Bora in French Polynesia is a bucket list destination for many people who dream of turquoise blue waters, breathtaking white sand beaches and luxury atolls in a tropical paradise.

        The Brando resort is located on the private island of Tetiaroa, an atoll of small islands around a vibrant blue lagoon, situated 30 miles from Tahiti.

        If you’re dreaming of a honeymoon in Bora Bora, the Brando is the perfect choice for French Polynesia honeymoon resorts or luxury anniversary trips to Bora Bora.

        The resort’s focus is carefree luxury and that’s exactly what you feel as you arrive at the resort by private plane. Stay in one of the exclusive 35 luxury villas on the island, dive or snorkel among manta rays, turtles and tropical fish, try your hand at canoeing, stand up paddleboarding or deep sea fishing. Explore the island by bike, and enjoy the fresh Polynesian food and shows each night such as live music, Tahitian dance or nature lectures.

        It’s possible to book a private dinner on the beach, perfect for a romantic getaway to celebrate an anniversary trip or honeymoon in Bora Bora.

        Primland Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia

         When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
        • Upgrade not applicable for this property
        • Daily Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
        • $100 USD equivalent credit, once per stay and per bedroom of the reserved villa
        • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
        • Complimentary Wi-Fi
        • Complimentary 60 minute massage

        Contact Us

        Similar Properties:

        Aman Kyoto

        4. Aman Kyoto and Amanemu, Japan

        After recently reopening its borders, Japan is one of the top destinations for 2023.

        With such a rich culture and history, plus so much to see and do in Japan, deciding where to stay in Japan can feel like an overwhelming decision.

        The Aman Kyoto resort in Japan is a perfect option for a luxury hotel in Japan, giving you a rich cultural experience. Located inside a secret garden in the foothills of Hidari Daimonji mountain, close to the iconic and historic city of Kyoto. Japanese hospitality and tranquil seclusion are the focus of this luxury resort.

        With a traditional Japanese onsen spa at the resort and rooms that combine contemporary decor with the traditional Japanese Ryokan style, everything is designed with tranquillity and peace in mind as you look out the windows and see yourself surrounded by forest.

        17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be visited around the resort, explore the Edo period secret garden, meditate with Buddhist monks, enjoy a traditional Japanese tea experience, take a private helicopter ride to the temples of Kyoto or visit the Kamishichiken village of the Kyoto Geisha’s with an exclusive invite for resort guests only. If you’re planning a Kyoto travel itinerary, The Aman Kyoto can offer exclusive experiences and things to do in Kyoto.

        Japan is the perfect 2023 destination for those wanting to experience rich culture, history and incredible hospitality. The Aman Kyoto combines all of this with serenity and exclusivity at its luxury Kyoto property.

        Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma County

         When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
        • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
        • Daily Japanese or American Set Breakfast served at the Living Pavilin for two guests per bedroom
        • $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage Credit per room, per stay
        • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
        • Complimentary Wi-Fi
        • Complimentary 60 minute massage

          Book Now

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          Amangiri in Utah

          5. Corinthia London, UK

          Diego Travel was named a Travel & Leisure Rising Star in 2022 and as the UK has been named Travel & Leisure’s Destination of the Year for 2023, we have to mention the incredible luxury offering in the UK. 2023 is the perfect time to explore the UK and where better to start than the iconic capital city, London.

          Famous for having one of the best afternoon tea experiences in London, the Corinthia is also one of the best luxury hotels in London located in the heart of the city.

          With penthouses and suites designed with a luxurious elegance that makes you feel like you’re at home the moment you step in, you’re also rewarded with a private terrace offering stunning views across London, complimentary Brompton Bike rental and a spectacular dining experience.

          Enjoy the seasonally decorated Winter Garden restaurant,  indulge in the Corinthia Afternoon Tea experience, sip champagne in the dark and exclusive Velvet Champagne bar, or dine at the world-renowned Kerridge’s restaurant by Michelin-starred British chef, Tom Kerridge.

          The hotel itself is a former British Government building, mealace allows you to see and discover iconic landmarks like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Embankment, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square on your doorstep.

          For other luxury hotels in London, you could also consider The Goring, Claridge’s and the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.

          Amangiri Utah

           When You Book with Diego Travel, You’ll Receive:
          • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
          • Daily breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
          • $100 USD equivalent Hotel credit to be utilized during stay, applicable in Northall Restaurant, Velvet Bar, Crystal Moon Lounge, Kerridge’s Bar and Grill, In Room Dining and ESPA Life at Corinthia
          • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
          • Complimentary Wi-Fi

            Book Now

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            Diego Travel-BUILDING THE TRIP

            THE BEST 5 LUXURY HOTELS & RESORTS FOR 2023

            I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our top hotels and resorts for 2023.  If you don’t see what you’re looking for, feel free to schedule a call with me, so that I can match you with an ideal destination that fits both your travel style and budget.  We’re also always looking for new places to recommend to our clients.

            Design My Trip!


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            Hotel Review: El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel

            Hotel Review

            El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel

            Classic luxury combined with Hollywood Glamour offering views of the American Riviera
            MARIA DIEGO

            El Encanto became a hotel in 1918 and as a 105-year-old property, it manages to effortlessly combine historic charm with a touch of Hollywood, perched high in the Santa Barbara Hills of California. Offering unparalleled views of the American Riviera as well as exclusive additions available with Diego Travel as a Belmond Bellini preferred partner, you can be sure of a luxury getaway to remember.

            Perfect For: Groups of Couples | Large Groups of Friends | Families with Older Children | Destination Weddings | Romantic Getaways | Special Occasions

            34.4391,-119.7043

            Belmond El Encanto

            Belmond El Encanto location: Located high in the Santa Barbara Hills.

            Getting There: Fly direct to Santa Barbara Airport SBA or just over a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from LAX, this is a great option for a weekend escape from the city or as a stop on part of a longer California road trip.

            Vibe Belmond El encanto

            Vibe: El Encanto prides itself on being a modern classic, combining the glamour of Hollywood with the rustic charm of the region and coastal influences from the American Riviera.

            The hotel promises rooms that combine Spanish colonial style with laidback California craft. The resort effortlessly manages to exude glitz and glamour, while giving you the relaxed coastal California vibe as you unwind poolside at the zero-edge pool, enjoy the local wine and cuisine or stroll in their seven acres of secluded gardens. Views of the American Riviera from high in the hills, adds to that feeling of luxury and exclusivity that Belmond achieves to effortlessly.

            Accomodations:

            The property offers 92 rooms and bungalow-style suites across its seven acres. Superior Rooms are the entry level option at 350-400sq ft, while the Deluxe King offers 350-630 sq ft.

            Terrace and Premier rooms are 500-700sq ft and promise ocean view rooms as well as poolside access. While the terrace rooms also offer your own private, furnished patio and premier rooms include a deep-soak bathtub, walk-in shower and a fireplace.

            El Encanto Santa Barbara Rooms

            There are four Specialty Suites available and these offer the option to connect two suites together for a 2-bedroom suite that can sleep up to 6 people. As does the Camilla Suite which also offers views. All Specialty Suites are located for maximum privacy and offer a separate living area with a fireplace.

            The Oak Tree Suite is the largest and also comes with its own kitchenette and enclosed patio area.

            Belmond El Encanto Rooms

            All room options come with hardwood floors and underfloor heating while the suites and bungalows have marble floor with underfloor heating.

            Belmond El Encanto Santa Barbara California Rooms

            Food & Beverage: 

            The hotel itself offers The Dining Room Terrace with stunning views of the American Riviera and Californian cuisine. Reservation is required.

            The resort also recommends a range of preferred choices for food and drink in the nearby area. 

            Belmond El Encanto Restaurant Outdoor

            Rare Society is one of the newest additions to Santa Barbara as an upscale steakhouse reminiscent of the retro steakhouses of Las Vegas but with a twist of modernity, fine dining and locally sourced ingredients.

            Santa Barbara is also home to a fantastic range of drinking experiences including the Tasting Room at Paradise Springs, Test Pilot cocktail bar and Figueroa Mountain Brewery.

            Belmond El Encanto Restaurant

            Tre Lune is a relaxed Italian restaurant with wine pairings and cocktails. Toma is also a great choice for authentic Italian food with a fine-dining feel.

            Bouchon is a top choice in Santa Barbara with passionate owners, Amy and Mitchell, catering for any dietary requirements and producing spectacular dishes.

            Stonehouse is a unique experience at the nearby exclusive property, San Ysidro Ranch. Located in a historic 19th-century citrus packhouse, the stone terrace, open fires and spanish guitar brings a rustic element to this local, award-winning cuisine.

            Belmond EL Encanto Bar

            Wellness: The Spa at El Encanto is a luxurious escape that immerses you in the coastal vibe of the California location with luxury skincare products and treatments available.

            San Ysidro Boutique

            Santa Barbara California

            Things to Do: There is no shortage of activities available at El Encanto and their concierge team is all too happy to assist in making your trip even more memorable.

            Horseback riding can be arranged, a private guided wine tour of local vineyards and producers, or a private sailing charter are just a small selection of the luxury experiences on offer in the area.

            Explore the SantaBarbara Botanical Gardens, go whale watching in the Pacific for a once-in-a-lifetime experience or play golf at the Sandpiper Golf Club or Glen Annie Golf Club, both offering views of the ocean from the course.

            Electric bikes, a picnic lunch and a bottle of wine can also be arranged for you if you want to escape into the countryside for a hike with a romantic touch.

            What  Sets  It  Apart: The Belmond El Encanto team is passionate about helping you to experience the perfect luxury escape in the Santa Barbara Hills. Whether that’s dining with them, or finding you the perfect dining or excursion experience with one of their preferred partners in town.

            Despite the size of the resort, the luxurious feel of the bungalow-style suites help you feel at home while also exuding glamour and elegance.

            Bouganvillea at Rancho San Ysidro
            Bouganvillea at Rancho San Ysidro

            How Much Does it Cost?

            Superior rooms start from $900 per night, with deluxe, terrace and premier rooms all being upgrades from there. 

            Suites and Bungalows start from $1,400 per night while the four Specialty Suites start from $2,399 per night.

            Diego Travel Loves: The resort offers a great amount of flexibility for groups such as families or small wedding parties, with rooms and suites able to be adapted depending on your group and the number of bedrooms needed. The Oak Tree suite is perfect with its large terrace, kitchenette and multiple rooms.

            San Ysidro Ranch California
            San Ysidro Montecito California

            Extras You’ll Get with Diego Travel:

            • Diego Travel is a Belmond Bellini preferred partner and we get our clients access to exclusive promotions that can’t be booked online
            • Additional Belmond Bellini amenities
            • Priority upgrade
            • Daily breakfast included
            • Resort Credit
            • When you book your stay with a minimum spend, you’ll receive a $500 gift card toward a future Belmond Hotels stay
            • Guests who purchase a luxury experience with Belmond worth a minimum of $5,000 USD will receive a $500 USD gift voucher per booking to be used on a future stay at any other Belmond Property

              El Encanto Insider Tips:

              Don’t miss the locally sourced delicacies at The Dining Room Terrace at the resort, the seafood is a particular highlight, with Morro Bay oysters, freshly-shucked all year round.

              Diego Travel Review of El Encanto

              Summary of Our Stay at El Encanto

              As a Belmond Bellini preferred partner, I’m always confident of having a spectacular experience at Belmond properties, and El Encanto is no exception.

              From the welcome email from the concierge before arrival offering additional details and assistance to personalize my trip, to the exceptional service throughout the resort, El Encanto embodies the relaxation of the California Coast with glamour and sophistication.

              Belmond El Encanto Santa Barbara

              The range of luxury activities on offer and the proximity of plenty more options in Santa Barbara town makes this an easy vacation that’s a real joy to experience and immerse yourself in.

              Belmond El Encanto Pool

              Let’s Get Planning!

              Belmond El Encanto Santa Barbara


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