June 23, 2016

@SunwingVacay - Going Green No Longer Means Roughing It @SandosCaracol!

With the expansion of eco-tourism, an influx of eco-resorts have made their way to the Caribbean shores. With so many options, finding the right one is key. Enter the all-inclusive Sandos Caracol; a jungle-meets beach Mayan hideaway perfect for travellers with green sensibilities who still enjoy elements of a traditional all-inclusive holiday. Thankfully, at Sandos Caracol going green no longer means roughing it!

When I first arrived at Sandos Caracol I felt I had arrived at any other all-inclusive property where a welcome cocktail, friendly staff and Caribbean-like décor awaited me; until I checked-in and made my way towards the Elephant Bar to relax with my cocktail. The lounge looks out onto a beautiful cenote surrounded by lush tropical foliage. In that moment, I knew I had arrived somewhere special. Cenotes are natural wells with crystal clear water that connect to the underground rivers of the Yucatan peninsula. There is a certain magic they exude in their beauty and Sandos Caracol is home to five of them, and guests can even swim in one of them!     


The property is nestled on the edge of a lush jungle bursting with mangroves, cenotes and coral reefs on the white-sands of Mexico’s fabled Riviera Maya steps from Playa del Carmen. There are 956 rooms in 11 styles and 3 categories: Sanditos Family Section, Select Club (adults-only) and Royal Elite Ocean Front, which are spread across 78 buildings. My eco room was located in building 11 and offered ocean and pool views. It featured a queen size bed, a living room, two full ensuite bathrooms and a lovely terrace. The décor was simple, in keeping with the eco philosophy, though my room did not lack in any of the comforts or amenities I am accustomed to. I was part of the Select Club which came with direct access to a private beach area with loungers, private bar and snack area.  

After the land was purchased, Mayan ruins were discovered in the midst of the jungle, so instead of building along the beach most of the hotel was built into the jungle in order to protect this ancient Mayan settlement, using only 30% of the land to build on. Today, these sacred grounds can be visited by guests and serve as the site for the incredible Fire of Life ceremony that takes place every Saturday night. As I sat under a star filled sky, in the middle of the jungle, watching a Mayan Chaman and other villagers dance around open fires in their traditional attire, I felt myself transported to another time. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.

What stood out most to me about Sandos Caracol was their ability to provide ALL guests with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Mayan culture and their connection to these lands by offering informative and entertaining activities and events. Mayan pottery, Mayan astronomy, eco tours, underground Mayan cooking classes, birdwatching, sensory experiences, tree planting, survival classes, river adventures, nighttime ceremonies held by the sacred cenote, sun and fire tributes, and traditional Mexican games are only a few of the things that make up the Xcalacoco experience. Each day gifted me with a new and fun learning experience in ancient Mayan traditions.  

This wonderful property caters to both couples and families. Here, guests can enjoy a true outdoor experience with plenty of activities like snorkelling on the reef, swimming in a cenote, outdoor yoga, bike tours, Zumba, water volleyball, beach volleyball, water polo, soccer and tennis. And what better way to end a fun filled day, then with a relaxing spa treatment at Spa Sandos. May I suggest a relaxing beachside massage, I loved it! 


Kids will especially love this property! It houses an Aquapark with big slides and a Kids Club. But, what makes this resort truly unique for children is its ability to provide fun and interactive ways for them to acquire newfound knowledge and appreciation for plants, wildlife and ecosystems. The property is also home to many trails that can be explored on foot or on one of the many bicycles available free to all guests. Be sure to keep your camera handy though, because you never know when you will cross paths with a group of monkeys and other local wildlife that live freely and happily on the hotel grounds. The hotel employs a team of eco specialists, biologists and veterinarians who care for the surroundings, abundant animal life and the hotel’s onsite animal rescue. 

Sandos Caracol is an eco-resort and has implemented many programs and standards to care for the land and ensure guests experience a true eco vacation. There are no water bottles or disposable plastic cups anywhere on the resort. There’s an onsite vegetable garden and compost system fuelled by the organic leftovers from the hotel restaurants; seven in total, including a vegan and a teppanyaki restaurant, which also provided my favourite meal. I must give honorable mention to La Riviera, where I dined amid the jungle and beach. There are also six bars, two poolside bars and a nightclub. In the evenings, enjoy a cocktail while listening to a live band.

The property helps support many local communities and artists, so guests are invited to bring clothing, school supplies or other goods to donate. On Wednesday and Saturday night there is an open market where you will find locally handcrafted goods. I was taken aback by the incredible artists who would create incredible works of art right before my eyes.

The entire time I was there with my younger sister, who accompanied me on this trip, I wished my niece and nephew were there also because I know how much they would have loved Sandos Caracol and all the incredible experiences offered to guests both young and old. Visit www.sunwingvacations.com to book your stay!

April 20, 2016

Experience an Authentic Tuscan Holiday at Caselsa!

"Exceptional beauty has the power to heighten your senses and evoke intense emotions. This is what I experience every time I visit the Tuscan countryside. I see more than glorious vineyards, sunflowers and olive groves. I witness a place where history, tradition and beauty come together to create something extraordinary - a masterpiece that draws you in and stays in your memory forever." - Travelista73

If you want to experience an authentic Tuscan holiday on a romantic farmhouse to eat, drink, relax and enjoy the countryside then consider a stay at CASELSA.

Caselsa is a charming 19th century farmhouse set among cypresses and vineyards in Badia a Cerreto in Gambassi Terme, Florence. The owner, Carlo, is a personal friend who invited me to visit this haven during my visit to Tuscany. So enchanted was I by the old-world beauty and allure of this hidden gem, that I had to share it with all of you.  

This picturesque property boasts a main farmhouse and an adjacent converted barn along with 7 independent apartments, each tastefully decorated and equipped with bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and lounge. The outdoor swimming pool provides the perfect place to relax with a great book or enjoy breathtaking views of the countryside.

Not only will you adore the grounds of Caselsa but the property is located within close distance to the world-famous villages of San Gimignano and Certaldo Alto, as well as many celebrated vineries. Enjoy bike riding in the countryside, dining on one of the world’s most renowned cuisines and visits to Florence, Siena, Pisa, Volterra and Lucca.

Caselsa offers weekly accommodations from Saturday to Saturday from April to October. For more information on how you can experience an authentic Tuscan holiday, visit www.caselsa.com and let them know Travelista73, AKA Francesca, sent you.  


March 31, 2016

@TriumphHotels "Seize Your Summer" 24-Hour Sale!

Now that it finally feels like spring, summer is just around the corner! Triumph Hotels in NYC is helping you plan now for that well-deserved vacation with a dedicated summer sale.  

To celebrate the warmer months ahead, Triumph Hotels has launched a "Seize Your Summer" promotion. This 24-hour sale valid from midnight on April 26 - midnight on April 27 allows guests to book a stay for up to 40% off at any of Triumph's 7 hotels including The Iroquois, Hotel Edison, and Cosmopolitan TriBeCa, and enter into a sweepstakes to win a curated picnic basket by Michelin-starred Chef Shaun Hergatt of Juni to enjoy during the stay.

The full details of the sale include: 
  • Up to 40% off
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Late check-out (based on availability)
  • Opportunity to enter sweepstakes to win a curated picnic basket (perfect to enjoy in a NYC park!) complete with gourmet items including Organic Crackers with Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Selection of Cheeses with Cranberry and Walnut Bread, Tropical Fruit Salad with Mint and Passionfruit, Red or White Wine, and much more by award-winning Chef Shaun Hergatt of Juni
From tree-lined streets, brownstones, and hidden cafes, to Midtown's top attractions and landmarks, Triumph Hotels gives guests access to it all!

Statue of Liberty

Hotel Edison - Times Square

Hotel Edison - Times Square

The Evelyn - NoMad

The Iroquois New York - Midtown

Triumphe Restaurant at The Iroquois

Hotel Chandler
Hotel Chandler

For more information, please visit TRIUMPH HOTELS! 

NOTE: I was not compensated in any way for this post. I am simply sharing it because I feel it is a great opportunity to visit New York this summer. Happy Travels My Lovelies!   

March 24, 2016

@FinestResorts Everyone Can Enjoy the Vacation of Their Dreams!

Set on a pristine peninsula north of Cancun, surrounded by aquamarine waters and white powder sand beaches whose tranquil hues are echoed throughout its contemporary interiors, Finest Playa Mujeres is the ultimate escape.  

The Hotel

The newest brand to join the Excellence Group - the all-suite luxury all-inclusive company behind Excellence Resorts and Beloved Hotels – Finest Playa Mujeres is the only resort of its kind in the greater Cancun area to welcome guests of all ages.

From the moment you walk through the hotel’s large wooden doors and sip on your welcome cocktail, you know you have arrived somewhere special. Home to 450 spacious guest and family suites (the smallest is 800 square feet), this minimalistic white stucco and wood accented stunner boasts gorgeous grounds with 10 swimming pools, 13 heated Jacuzzis, ground-floor swim-out suites with decks, hammocks over the pool, private garden with pool, and two-story rooftop terraces with plunge pools.

For the ultimate indulgence, upgrade to the Finest Club and enjoy added perks like private check-in and check-out, VIP lounge area, concierge services, private pool bar, pool, beach area and much more. If you seek grown-up time, the Excellence Club is perfectly tucked away from the happy squeals of little ones and features a string of extras like private dining, pool and lounge areas for adults-only.  

Food is a focus at this impressive property that features 12 restaurants where authentic international dishes are only matched by the beautiful interiors in which they are served. Best of all, the hotel’s “no reservations” policy means you have the freedom to indulge your culinary whim whenever you want, wherever you want. The resort also offers an impressive menu with 24-hour room service for those who opt to dine in the comfort of their suite. There are also vegetarian and gluten-free options on every menu throughout.

The crystal clear Playa Mujeres beach is surrounded by lush green foliage and is equipped with sun beds complete with waiter service for food and drink. But if lounging around isn’t your thing, not to worry. The hotel’s luxury amenities and activities include game areas, tennis courts, basketball and soccer fields, sailing, kayaking, introductory scuba lessons, windsurfing, paddle boarding, water polo, yoga, Spanish lessons, cooking lessons, archery and air rifle shooting to name only a few. From the supervised Mini, Maxi and Teen Clubs with waterpark and zip-lining, to the adults-only pools, it is obvious that Finest Playa Mujeres has gone to great lengths to create a multi-age space so that everyone can enjoy the vacation of their dreams!




With emphasis on fresh ingredients, artistic presentation and service, I happily savoured some of the most memorable meals at many of the resort’s 12 international restaurants. However, honourable mention must be given to the adults-only Le Petit Plaisir, where I dined on French inspired cuisine in an elegant white Parisian setting accompanied by world-class wines. At Tinto & Tapas, I snacked on a delicious assortment of tapas that transported me to Spain, and at their newest restaurant Surf and Turf, succulent steak and lobster awaited me. To cool off from the Mexican heat, be sure to visit the Sweet Corner for an assortment of cool beverages and ice-cream. To up their game, Finest is also adding a Mexican food truck! 


For drinks, head to one of the hotel’s 17 bars such as the spectacular Sky Bar, that offers molecular cocktails with postcard-perfect views, or enjoy a drink while dancing the night away at the Piano Bar.

The Rooms

The luxury details and amenities in each suite are just as impressive as the rest of the property: oversized Jacuzzi and rain shower for two, furnished balconies or patios with lounge bed, Bvlgari toiletries, fully stocked premium mini-bars with snacks like Snicker’s bars, Oreo cookies and M&M chocolates, as well as Nespresso Machines. Added bonuses include free Wi-Fi and free international calls anywhere in Canada and the U.S.  

The two-story suite I stayed at in building five’s Finest Club was decked out in minimalist style with white and robin’s-egg blue accents.  The suite featured a rooftop oasis complete with plunge pool, outdoor shower that I happily used, living area and lounger with postcard-perfect views of Playa Mujeres and Isla Mujeres in the close distance.   


From the moment you enter ONE Spa, you are immersed in a world of tranquility. My treatment began at the ONE Wall where I set my intention before beginning my journey through purification, healing and transformation. My therapist Moises led me through the steps of the One Aqua Ritual, where flowing water represents the flowing of One love, One energy in One's world. The experience ended with a shoulder and head massage. You cannot help but leave this experience feeling at peace and rejuvenated. The One Aqua Ritual is free to guests of the Finest Club and Excellence Club.

The spa also offers a wonderful selection of signature rituals and treatments incorporating alternative and traditional therapies. There are also treatments to pamper your little ones, including a mini-spa with sparkling pedicure and lullaby massages. At ONE Spa, ultimate relaxation is open to everyone!

For an extended holiday with family or a quick romantic escape, Finest PlayaMujeres awaits you! For more information, please visit excellencegroupluxuryresorts.com or sunwing.ca.