Tag Archives: travel

Panama City Beach: Check Out What’s New For 2017

Known for beautiful beaches and pleasant weather, Panama City Beach continues to add to its lineup of fantastic entertainment and accommodation options. In 2017, the destination will celebrate the opening of new hotels and accommodations and the addition of more fun-filled events.

“We are enjoying an uptick in investments in both business and fun,” shares Visit Panama City Beach President and CEO Dan Rowe. “We look forward to the continued growth here in Panama City Beach as family and friends visit from near and far to create new memories at the beach.”

Below is a list of new accommodations, attractions and events coming to Panama City Beach in 2017:

Accommodations

  • Opening under a new flag after a $30 million renovation, the Sheraton Bay Point Resort features luxurious accommodations, reinvented restaurants, and updated meeting spaces as well as favorites such as the on-site Serenity Spa and 36 holes of championship golf, including the only Nicklaus Design course in Northwest Florida.
    4114 Jan Cooley Dr.
    www.sheratonbaypoint.com
  • The newly constructed Gulf-front Hampton Inn & Suites with 182 rooms will open in Summer 2017 with the beach as its backyard, and situated within walking distance to the popular Pier Park shopping and lifestyle center.
    15505 Front Beach Rd.
    http://hamptoninnandsuitespanamacitybeach.com/#LNjRx7
  • The new 156-room Holiday Inn Express on Front Beach Road will open in Spring 2017, offering guests breathtaking views and direct access to the beautiful white sand beaches of Panama City Beach.
    12907 Front Beach Rd.
    https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/panama-city-beach/pfnfb/hoteldetail?cm_mmc=bingMaps-_-EX-_-USA-_-PFNFB

Attractions and Events

  • Host of the PGA Tour Qualifying School, Hombre Golf Club will complete a major renovation to its 27 championship holes – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – in early summer 2017.
    120 Coyote Pass
    http://hombregolfclub.com/
  • The Emerald Coast Boat & Lifestyle Show, taking place March 3-5, will feature boat displays from all major manufacturers and top dealers representing the latest in boats, high-tech engines, electronics and marine accessories. The show will also feature everything for the active, outdoor and beach lifestyle, such as fishing kayaks, Stand Up Paddleboards, outdoor kitchens, dive gear, active wear and more!
    600 Pier Park Dr.
    http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/event/emerald-coast-boat-%26-lifestyle-show/21131/
  • UNwineD, a Southern garden party presented by Visit Panama City Beach and Garden & Gun Magazine, will feature superb craft beer, spirits and wine from around the world, plus music and culinary creations by Northwest Florida’s leading chefs during the two-day event taking place March 24-25 at Aaron Bessant Park.
    600 Pier Park Dr.
    http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/event/unwined/20926/
  • Already named a top destination for sports, in 2017 Panama City Beach will welcomethe Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast on May 13.The race begins with a 1.2-mile open water swim in the Gulf of Mexico, followed by a 56-mile bike ride through Bay County and Panama City Beach. The final leg of the race consists of a 13.1-mile run following the beach and looping through St. Andrews State Park.
    http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/event/ironman-70-3-gulf-coast/20997/

For more information on Panama City Beach, call 1-800-PCBEACH or visit the official website of the Panama City Beach CVB at http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/ .

Seven Mile Beach – Grand Cayman On A Budget With Comfort Suites

COMFORT SUITES GRAND CAYMAN ADDS DELICIOUS SPARKLE

One of the more popular hotels in the Cayman Islands has become even more endearing to guests since a recent upgrade to its common and breakfast areas.
General Manager of Comfort Suites Seven Mile Beach, Tom Mason, said the hotel recently renovated its lobby with the addition of a Marketplace offering sundry items as well as cold and hot food items, including delicious Caribbean roti.
The new kitchen area for preparing the Comfort brand’s signature complimentary hot breakfast and the sparkling new breakfast room were popular upgrades. The welcoming local breakfast team, he reported, has been increased to four full-time staff members who are “thrilled to help guests get a great start to their day in this new, modern and fresh environment.”

Adding to its allure, Mason said the hotel replaced disposable plates, cups and cutlery with china crockery, silver cutlery and glass plates to improve the guest experience and also to

increase the hotel’s environmentally friendly practices.

 

The new Marketplace area

“The new Marketplace in our renovated lobby has also drawn a lot of praise as have the new tile flooring and refresh of all ground floor hallways,” said Mason. “And trading out disposable items at breakfast not only helps protect the island’s delicate environment, it adds a warmer touch of home for travelers when they sit down to eat.”

Guests have more to look forward to, added Mason, as the hotel also premiered its new enclosed screened patio with ceiling fans.

Comfort Suites Seven Mile Beach is on track to end 2016 as one of the best years in its 15-year history.

The Choice Hotels International Caribbean portfolio currently includes hotels in Aruba, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Guyana, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten. For further information, visit www.caymancomfort.com and www.choicecaribbean.com.

US Virgin Islands Offering Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale!

The US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has announced a Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale, providing travelers with a value-added getaway to experience St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas in the new year.
Beginning on Friday, November 25 (Black Friday), through Monday, November 28 (Cyber Monday), travelers can save 25 percent off rates at participating hotels and receive $500 in VI Spending Credits that can be used for activities, dining and shopping throughout the destination. A minimum five-night stay is required to take advantage of this special offer.
“Toys and televisions are not the only gifts on holiday wish lists this year – travel experiences are in demand too,” said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Commissioner of Tourism for the United States Virgin Islands. She explained that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days in the United States and “we want to offer travelers an opportunity to escape to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a value-added experience.”

 

With no passports required for U.S. Citizens, a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands is affordable and accessible, offering visitors the chance to enjoy great duty-free shopping, award-winning beaches, cultural activities and festivals.
Participating hotels include:
St. Croix
Caravelle Hotel & Casino
Club Comanche Hotel
Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino
Hotel on the Cay
Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa
Sand Castle on the Beach
Tamarind Reef Resort, Spa &  Marina
The Buccaneer Hotel
The Palms at Pelican Cove
St. John
Caneel Bay
Concordia Eco-Resort
Gallows Point Resort
St. Thomas
At Home In the Tropics
Bellavista Bed & Breakfast
Bolongo Bay Beach Resort
Emerald Beach Resort
Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
Galleon House
Lindbergh Bay Hotel & Villas
Sugar Bay Resort & Spa
The Green Iguana Hotel
Virgin Islands Campground (Water Island)
Windward Passage Hotel
Airfare is not included in travel packages, and a five-night minimum stay is required to qualify for savings and spending credits. Certificates will be provided upon check in. Valid travel dates vary by property. Offer not valid on pre-existing reservations and cannot be combined with any other promotion. Other restrictions may apply.
 
For more information and to book the Black Friday/Cyber Monday offer, visit: www.visitusvi.com using booking code “BFCM16”.

Plan Your Holiday Getaway to the Beautiful Beaches of the US Virgin Islands [@USVITourism]

Houstonians don’t necessarily look for warmer weather during the holidays; after all, let’s all admit that we’re hoping our 90+ degree-days are over with. Also, while we are luck enough to live near the ocean, I think we can all honestly admit that we wish our beloved Galveston was a myriad of beautiful shades of blue, turquoise, aqua, and so on. Can you picture that clear blue water yet?

Thanks to direct flights from United Airlines to the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands, days of daydreaming about sipping on a cocktail with toes in the sand, while gazing at amongst crystal clear water are over! With that being said, doesn’t ditching the chaos of the holidays and trading it, instead, for making some great memories with the family or even escaping it all for some beachside r&r sound like a great plan?

Yes, that means get on that laptop or smartphone and start planning your U.S. Virgin Islands getaway! Don’t worry, we have got the where to stay and what to do all planned out for you. And let’s not forget, No Passport Required!

Caneel Bay

Caneel Bay

Following up on our article from August, “US Virgin Islands: No Passport Required”, we suggested staying at the family friendly Bolongo Bay on the island of St. Thomas for those wanting the beautiful scenery and small hotel boutique feel without breaking the bank (we loved this place by the way). However, if you want luxury and have the means to splurge, then Caneel Bay Resort is definitely a must. Just a short scenic ferry ride from Red Hook (St. Thomas) will take you to the island of St John where the 166-room resort is located. Founded by Laurance Rockefeller, Caneel Bay’s tranquil setting which includes seven of the most beautiful pristine beaches offers its guest every possible amenity for relaxation and disconnect. If the resort is out of your budget, a day visit to the resort’s Honeymoon Beach is suggested.

Annaberg Plantation

Annaberg Plantation

With plenty of picturesque beaches, restaurants, bars, and unique boutique shopping, St. John should definitely be on your itinerary as a day trip if staying on one of the other of the U.S. Virgin Islands. For the historian type of traveler, a drive to the Annaberg Plantation while discovering many of the island’s beaches will paint a vivid picture about the labor and equipment used during the 18th century. (The views from the plantation are simply amazing!) Before heading off the island of St. Thomas, head over to Ocean 362 for a one-of-a-kind Caribbean dining experience. The chef-driven innovative menu offers the freshest ingredients combining local flavors with a modern twist.

Ocean 362

Ocean 362

Back on the island of St. Thomas, for those seeking the best views, take a skyride to Paradise Point. Experiencing a beautiful sunset while sipping on a Bushwacker (local drink) while 700ft above the town of Charlotte Amalie is definitely the perfect opportunity for a “selfie” moment. If heights are not your preference, perhaps an evening cocktail at the très chic Havana Blue restaurant will be a great way to wrap up your outing. From a glowing wall of water to the white linen illuminated by a soft blue radiating light and the soft whisper of beach waves, Havana Blue’s Latin Style is simply a grown and sexy feel. May we suggest the mango mojito?

Havana Blue

Havana Blue

Paradise Point

Paradise Point

To sum it up, the U.S. Virgin islands are simply stunning. Although, I do wish my words paint a vivid picture, when it comes to travel, words are just never enough. Direct flights, a plethera of lodging options, and plenty of sights to see (unless you are a complete beach bum like me) the beautiful islands are waiting for you to explore them. So, what are you waiting for?

For more information, visit www.vistiusvi.com

 

The US Virgin Islands, No Passport Required! [@USVITourism]

The connection between Texas & the US Virgin Islands is a bit deeper than you think. It’s not just Tim Duncan being the country’s biggest export to the state, its the vast amount of Texans that travel from the Lone Star state to the beautiful island. Over 30,000 Texans vacation in the US Virgin Islands every year and that number could be expected to grow over time. United Airlines officially has regularly scheduled flights to the island and Houston Style was part of the inaugural flight to one of the Virgin Islands’ most prominent locales: St. Thomas.

St. Thomas is part of a trio of islands that fly under the US Virgin Island umbrella. St. John & also St. Croix have been vacation hubs for couples, traveling singles and passionate travel enthusiasts for years. All of the proper ideas of a beach filter through the mind when thinking of St. John, St. Thomas & St. Croix: picturesque blue water, white, smooth beaches and the occasional mixed drink with a mini-umbrella thrown in to complete the dream. Since all three islands are technically US territory, visitors do not need passports in order to visit there. St. Thomas is the transportation hub of the Virgin Islands; the centerpiece of the V.I. system as one simply cannot leave the islands without gracing its soil. Visitors who maintain a longer stay on the isle may be drawn by the legendary shopping venues, the wide variety of water sports, activities, beaches and other accommodations.

The bustling port of Charlotte Amalie is the main town, while Red Hook sits on the eastern tip. The west end of the island is relatively wild; an open sprawl while hotels and resorts situated along the rim of the southern and eastern shores.

LODGING RECOMMENDATIONS

Style recommends lodging at Bolongo Bay. Located on the island of St. Thomas, Bolongo Bay Resort is the place to reside if you’re not looking to break the bank. With over twenty-five beachfront rooms and 39 ocean view rooms overlooking a secluded palm-lined beach, Bolongo Bay is truly a gem. In 2014, Thrillist ranked it amongst one of the 25 best beaches in America.

What the resort rooms lack in amenities and plushness, the friendly and attentive staff definitely makes up for it. The resort both contains room-only rates as well as an all-inclusive plan to fit your financial needs. Family owned, Bolongo Bay has an amazing history attached to it and detailing the lineage of its past is a story the staff and owners are more than happy to share with you over a drink. Specifically at the resort’s Iggies Beach Bar and Grill, one of the best in the entire Caribbean. Enjoying scenic, turquoise beach views, listening to cool vibes and enjoying your favorite drink while munching on conch fritters was indeed one of our favorite things to do.

The adventure seeker in us all has one thrill to exercise in Bolongo Bay. Want a challenge? Set sail on the resort’s 53’ catamaran Heavenly Days, voted “the best excursion of the year in St. Thomas’. From snorkeling to swimming with sea turtles or just a relaxing cocktail cruise, the Heavily Days is a Caribbean experience one simply cannot miss.

FOODIE RECOMMENDATIONS

Room With A View(www.roomwithaviewvi.com) is a hilltop restaurant serving American cuisine that is located on Bluebeard’s Castle. The restaurant boasts a beautiful view of the island and is considered to be the most romantic restaurant on the entire isle of St. Thomas. The 40-seat dining room is perfect for a special occasion with your sweetheart.

Try one of their specialty martinis – you won’t regret it.

Ocean 362 (ocean362.com) on the island of St. John contains fine eatery with a relaxing and serene environment. Providing a one of a kind Caribbean experience, Ocean 362 hangs its hat on modern “island to table” cuisine and celebrates the idea of eating local. Traditional Caribbean dishes are emphasized and are born strictly from ingredients that are fresh and local thanks to on-site chef Shaun Brian. Outfitted with a third story bar, customary cocktails and unforgettable views, Ocean 362 strives to get you an authentic VI experience.

photo

Gladys’ Bar and Restaurant(www.gladyscafe.com) located in Charlotte Amalie is the go to spot for authentic Caribbean cuisine. The conch fritters and callalo soup are a favorite of both the locals and returning tourists to the island. While trying the authentic island cuisine is highly recommended, trust us when we say to order the chips and guacamole as a starter. True, it’s a dish that most Texans could argue sounds best coming from home but what works with Gladys’ styling of chips & guac are something that couldn’t truly be described. Simply put, they have the best chips I’ve ever had.

What are you waiting for? Book your next beach destination and enjoy the beautiful beaches of the US Virgin Islands.

  • Make sure to visit the tourism board website at www.visitusvi.com for current promotions being offered.

Stay tuned in to Houston Style as we share more about where to stay, what to do, and where to eat on the beautiful islands of St Thomas and St John for your next holiday vacation!

#LolaOnTheGo: St Louis Travel Guide

My article original appeared in Houston Style Magazine at www.stylemagazine.com.

In my series of must visit U.S. cities, St. Louis makes the list with its many family and budget friendly attractions. From breweries and casinos to museums and parks, the city boasts many amusements along with historical sites and a plethora of culinary delights that are sure to satisfy any palette.

Here are a few of some well-known attractions along with a few newly discovered gems that should be visited during your stay in St. Louis

The Gateway Arch

What’s a trip to St. Louis without getting up close and personal with the iconic Gateway Arch.? This magnificent stainless steel monument rises about 630 feet into the city’s beautiful skyline. Although it’s free to view from the ground, we highly suggest traveling up the arch to marvel at the city’s incredible aerial views. We guarantee that both adults and children alike will have loads of fun taking selfies while riding up to the top in the arch’s sci-fi like pods (seats up to 4).

If visiting during warm months, hop aboard a 19th century paddle-wheel boat replica for a one-hour narrated cruise down the mighty Mississippi. This activity is highly recommended for those wanting to photographically capture views of the arch and other inspiring architecture. (Cruises run daily March-November.)

Missouri Botanical Garden

You don’t have to necessarily be a lover of everything flora and fauna to appreciate this particular St. Louis attraction. As a matter of fact, it is a perfect destination for some fun with the kids, lots of magical discoveries, and an even more serene atmosphere for an afternoon of walking and self-meditation or perhaps even a picnic lunch date. From the interactive and educational Children’s Garden to a 14 acre Japanese Garden to a real rainforest experience with waterfalls and tropical birds, this 79 acres of lush gardens, stunning landscape, and whimsical sculptures should definitely be on your list during your visit to St. Louis. If visiting during the winter months, the holiday lights and decorations are sure to be a treat!

Missouri History Museum

For those that enjoy reveling in a little nostalgia, he Missouri History Museum is the place for you. While the museum does offer permanent exhibits, it also offers short-term special exhibits such as the “ Route 66: Main Street Through St Louis” exhibit. Take a step back and get your kicks learning about this famous road and its history. And to make this experience an even better one, entry is FREE! Side note: perfect time to mention that St. Louis is home to over 25 free attractions, which include most of the city’s museums along with its zoo.
2

City Museum
While this museum isn’t free like most of the St. Louis museums, the City Museum is at the top of our list for children of all ages. (Yes, we guarantee that moms and dads will have just as much fun.) The museum can best be described as an interactive, eclectic, and creative playground filled with endless fun. From tunnels to ball pits, to a rooftop ferris wheel, this wondrous architectural funhouse will inspire hours of imaginative and explorative fun. Oh, and for our 21 and up readers, you might want to partake in an adult beverage at the museum’s rooftop cantina and enjoy the sunset before taking another adventure down the 10-story spiral slide.

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Anheuser-Busch Brewery

Can’t visit St. Louis without stopping to snap a photo or two of the world famous Clydesdales. And for the beer lovers out there, what better place to be at than the Anheuser-Busch Brewery? The free 45 minute tour guides you through one of the oldest operating breweries in the country and offers two complimentary drinks for visitors 21 years and older. Tours tend to fill up fast so make sure to show up early or maybe even consider taking one of the special tours for a small fee.

4

EAT St. Louis Food Tour

Did I mention that I love to eat? Like, a lot. And this is why I recommend this culinary and historical tour, especially if you love Italian food as much as I do. So make sure to sign up while visiting St. Louis and let owner Pete Manzo guide you through a three-hour walking tour of the Hill. With six restaurant tastings ranging from St. Louis style pizza (Provel cheese blend) to Gelato Di Riso, said to be the best gelato outside of Italy, this tour is definitely a must for the foodie lovers.

Save room for the Italian Stallion sandwich at John Viviano and Sons (preferably the vegetarian option – I promise you won’t be disappointed!).

Stay tuned for more on St. Louis in next month’s issue

For more information on what to do in St. Louis, visitwww.explorestlouis.com.

[Photos by: Me :)]

El servicio de United Airlines a La Habana comienza el 29 de noviembre

United Airlines ha comenzado la cuenta regresiva a Cuba después de que el  Departamento de Transporte de los Estados Unidos (DOT, por sus siglas en inglés) le diera su aprobación final a la compañía para lanzar este otoño el servicio a La Habana desde dos de sus hubs. United comenzará a ofrecer vuelos diarios sin escala a la capital de Cuba desde Nueva York/Newark y vuelos los sábados sin escala desde Houston, ambos servicios sujetos a la aprobación del gobierno. Los clientes pueden comenzar a reservar vuelos a La Habana a través de united.com a partir de hoy.

 

Desde que DOT anunció sus rutas preliminares a La Habana en julio, United ha estado trabajando con el gobierno cubano para prepararse para el inicio de su operación en el Aeropuerto Internacional José Martí.

 

“Estoy muy orgulloso de todos los profesionales dedicados a la aviación en United que están trabajando arduamente para despegar nuestro servicio histórico a Cuba en noviembre”, dijo Oscar Munoz, CEO de United. “La aprobación final por el DOT reafirma que nuestros vuelos garantizarán mejores opciones, comodidad y competencia para todos los viajeros en esta importante ruta, y le quiero dar las gracias a DOT por su decisión”.

 

Los servicios de United a La Habana marcarán la 13ra ruta internacional que ha lanzado la aerolínea en 2016. Desde marzo, United estrenó servicios sin escala desde los Estados Unidos hasta Auckland, Nueva Zelanda; Tel Aviv, Israel; Xi’an, China; Singapur; Hangzhou, China; Atenas, Grecia; Barcelona, España; Providenciales, Turks y Caicos; Nassau, Bahamas y Lisboa, Portugal.

 

Servicio diario sin escala desde Nueva York/Newark (EWR)

Los vuelos diarios sin escala desde el Aeropuerto Internacional de Newark Liberty proporcionarán una importante puerta de entrada a Cuba desde la región de Newark/Nueva York, el área metropolitana más grande del país y el hogar de la segunda mayor población de cubano-americanos. Durante más de 20 años, United ha ofrecido a la región de Newark/Nueva York el mayor número de vuelos para la mayoría de los destinos de todo el mundo.

 

Servicio sin escala desde Houston (IAH) los sábados

Reconocido por la “Red de viajero de confianza” como uno de los puntos de entrada más amigables para los viajeros extranjeros, el aeropuerto Houston Bush Intercontinental es la puerta de entrada de United hacia América Latina. United ofrece 91 vuelos diarios sin escala a 52 destinos en toda América Latina y el Caribe desde su centro de Houston. Bush Intercontinental será una importante puerta de entrada para la ruta a La Habana, conectando directamente a 20 mercados en todo el centro y oeste de Estados Unidos a Cuba con una sola parada. La población cubano-estadounidense en el área metropolitana de Houston se encuentra entre las diez principales ciudades del país.

 

United operará los servicios a La Habana con aviones Boeing 737.