Tag Archives: travel

Phoenix at The Phoenician

I recently returned form a wonderful trip to Phoenix, Arizona and had the chance to check out The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale. The location could not have been more perfect. Situated on Camelback Mountain, it is an easy drive to shopping areas and the Old Town.

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When first arriving, you are greeted by a winding entrance through the 250 acre property leading up the mountain. The golf course and casitas entice the view until you reach the main resort. You are greeted by the valet who escorts you into the main lobby with expansive views of the surrounding area from the balcony.

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All of the 538 rooms have been recently renovated to a calming contemporary style with large bathrooms containing both a separate tub and shower. Depending on your view from the balcony, you could have the pool view or the mountain view. Either are breathtaking.

room

A local favorite dining option is at their J&G Steakhouse, an award-winning restaurant inspired by renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It is perched atop the main building with again, expansive views of the destination. There are also private dining rooms available for groups and small functions.

steakhouse

Further exploring the resort, we came across shops on site which included a cute little ice cream shop that served Sweet Republic Ice Cream, a local artisan creamery. Their custom “Phoenicain Crunch” was wonderful! They even can put together a picnic basket if you would prefer to enjoy the outdoors.

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Along the back of the property, there is a fantastic cactus garden. Guests can explore many of the different varieties of local flora and fauna as they walk the paths. There are guided tours if you would like a more in depth exploration but there are also signs by many of the cacti. One of the holes of the golf course will send the players through this area as well.

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Adjacent to the main property, there are also the Canyon Suites. This is an exclusive 60-room boutique hotel located at The Phoenician, providing guests with a Five-star experience from arrival to departure. There is private check-in and hotel amenities although you are also welcome to use the main resort areas as well. There are also great meeting spaces here overlooking the mountain. It is even possible to have the mountain lit if you are having an evening event. Guests also have the opportunity to test drive one of six available Porsche luxury vehicles for a period of time up to two hours.

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The golf course is a favorite, not just of travelers but locals as well. This championship course has 27 holes for the most discerning golfer. Views range from sweeping skyline to mountain landscape. Golf Digest has even ranked them in the top 75 courses in North America! Designed by Ted Robinson, Sr. and Homer Flint, The Phoenician’s three diverse nine-hole courses create 18-hole combinations for the challenge and fun any golf enthusiast will crave.

golf

Moving on to their spa…. “Absolutely Incredible” is the first term that comes to mind. With 24 treatment rooms and 22,000 square feet, this space is dedicated to a peaceful retreat for your mind, body and soul. Along with many, many treatment options, there is a guided meditation every day at noon in these unbelievably comfortable, leather gravity chairs. Unfortunately, I just missed this experience but did get a chance to experience their comfort.

spa

Last but certainly not least is the pool area. This large centerpiece of the resort has many different areas which makes it feel a bit like intimate spaces rather than one large swimming area. There is even a children’s splash pad complete with a water slide and cabanas for parents to relax in close proximity.

pool

Overall, this spectacular resort is truly an oasis in the Phoenix sun. From the newly renovated rooms to the plethora of resort amenities, this property has a bit of something for anyone’s enjoyment.

Click here for more information.

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Trip to Japan and Cambodia, August 2016

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We began our trip in Nagoya, Japan, where our daughter lives.  Our first day there, she had to work. My husband and I were proud of ourselves because we were able to walk to Noritake Gardens and purchase tickets on the hop on/hop off sightseeing bus from there.  We were able to go to Nagoya Castle and were going to make other stops.  But, it was so hot and humid that we just went back to the rail station and looked in some shops (they have 6 floors of them on top the station) until she came home and met us there.
The next day, we took the bullet train to Kyoto and dropped our overnight bags at the hotel before taking a regular train to Nara, an ancient capital of Japan.  The bullet train beat flying any day.  No airport hassles, just buy a ticket and get on.  It’s fast, smooth and quiet.  Nara is well known now for the tame deer in it’s park.  We were expecting dozens, but there were hundreds.  And, they don’t stay in the park.  People are selling wafers to feed them out on the sidewalks, so that’s where they come to meet you and continue to areas across the street.  They are cute, but can be annoying because they bite at your clothing to get your attention to feed them.

Across the street is a huge building with the biggest bronze Buddha in Japan and the third largest Buddha built of any material there.  I must admit that it was awesome.  Shinto is the oldest religion in Japan.  It’s a nature-based religion – they worship the sun, water, wind, etc.  Jessie says that most people are born Shinto, but turn Buddhist later in life.  That’s probably because Buddhists believe in a life after death and the Shinto religion is just over when you die.

The next morning, we took a half day tour in Kyoto.  We went to the Ni-Jo Jo Castle, where the floors are made creaky on purpose, so the Shogun could hear intruders.  We saw the Golden Pavilion, which is covered in gold leaf and visited the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.  Japan does have an Emperor, but he’s a figurehead, like Queen Elizabeth.  He lives in the Palace in Tokyo, but comes to Kyoto for certain ceremonies.
We returned to Nagoya and left the next day for Siem Reap, Cambodia.  We learned from our tour guide that the city name means Victory from Siam.  Siam (now Thailand) and taken away much of their land and they fought to get it back.  We arrived late in the evening.  Siem Reap boasts deluxe hotels, like Raffles, but we didn’t stay there!  We went to a small hotel, Hollywood Angkor Boutique Hotel.  It’s an old hotel with about 15 rooms.  We were greeted with cold, scented wash cloths and a cold drink.  You have to use an old-fashioned key, then stick the metal plate attached to a slot in the wall to make the electricity work.  The mattresses were like new and everything was spotless.  The service there was amazing!

The next morning we went out and came back, then went to lunch and came back, then went on an afternoon tour and came back, then to the circus and came back.  Each time we walked in, they were there with cold cloths.  In Japan, people don’t tip, but everyone there works hard on their own.  In Cambodia, the people are much poorer and they do accept tips.  They are very gracious and very appreciative of whatever they get.  The pool area at the hotel had beautiful orchids and flowering trees.  Our last day there, my daughter got a massage and facial (done in the room) for about $32.00.  While we were waiting in the lobby, someone brought us cold bottles of water – just another small way they catered to their guests.
The first morning in Cambodia, we were taken to the park across the river from the hotel.  Traffic there is a free-for-all – not for the faint of heart.  It was Saturday, so the Buddhist temple there had live Cambodian Music.  There were people in the park having breakfast, and children were playing.  There were also giant bats in the trees (at night they fly and eat the bugs).  There were also beggars.  One man only had 1 leg, probably from the land mines that were buried all over Cambodia during their war.  We had arranged private tours through TravelBound because they were the same cost as group tours.  Our Tour guide for 2 days said that tourists bring in money, but not a lot trickles down to the people from government.  They have their own money, but it’s worthless.  Their economy is built on the U.S. dollar.  They won’t accept torn or very worn bills because they know they have to use them for a long time.  Before we went, we got cash because our bank said up front that they wouldn’t approve our credit card in Cambodia.
That first day, we had an afternoon tour to a floating village.  On the way, we stopped in the country to go part way in carts pulled by water buffaloes.  The roads in the country are terrible, but they don’t bother fixing them because of the flooding in the rainy season.  The floating village is a bunch of floating shacks, mostly, where people live.  They also have a cooking school, church, school, store, etc.  Our daughter told us before we went that the school where she teaches sponsors a school in Cambodia.  The students that go to her school are from wealthy families.  Their school has fund raisers during the year to get money to send to Cambodia (the next one coming up is a Halloween Party).  They are able to provide the Cambodian children with breakfast, lunch and a snack, as well as school supplies.  For many of those children, it’s all the food they will get for the day.
The next day was our full day tour of the Angkor temples, etc.  After you get by the people wanting to sell you things, the ruins are amazing.  Both Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat are huge.  They date from the 1100’s and 1200’s.  They are constructed from huge blocks of sandstone.  There are hundreds of statues and the walls are totally covered with carvings, showing life at the time, such as enemy’s coming on boats, royalty, common people hunting and cooking, etc.  They tell the story of the time.  Ta Prohm is the area where Angelina Jolie filmed the movie, Lara Craft, Tomb Raider.  There, the Strangler Figs are taking over the ruins.  They are trying to preserve the Angkor complexes as much as possible.  Stones that have fallen are numbered and some statue heads have been replaced with concrete.

Originally, their religion was Hindu, but they changed to Buddhist.  At one point the Hindu people stole many of the Buddhist statues and knocked off the faces of Buddha on the carvings.  You can take an elephant ride at Angkor Thom and there are wild monkeys at Angkor Wat.  All-in-all, they are just amazing.  We climbed all over Angkor Thom but when we got to Angkor Wat and I saw the steepness of the steps, I let the family go up while I went to the far side to wait in the shade.  Two young Buddhists monks came along and they chatted with me for some time.  They were school teachers and were off for the day (Sunday).  At first, I wasn’t sure what to say to them, but they were just regular people and we had a lovely conversation.
When we left Cambodia, my daughter had to go back to work in Nagoya so my husband & I went to Tokyo.  When we arrived, it was raining and they said a Typhoon was coming.  We figured our tour to Fuji would be cancelled the next day.  The storm went North and the next day dawned beautiful and sunny.  We found lots of English-speaking people in Tokyo, but we were only there for 2 nights.  I picked a hotel that was a stop for the airport limousine bus and also a pick up the Mt. Fuji, Hakone and Lake Ashi tour.  On the bus to Fuji, you could see it in the distance, but by the time we arrived, it was shrouded in clouds.  The tour was still good with a cable car ride in Hakone.  We stopped at a volcano, which had pipes that let out the sulfur  gas.  Usually, they take you up to a hot spring and boil eggs in the water (they turn black, but you can eat them) but, they had a landslide, and no one was permitted up at that time.  Afterward, we had a cruise on Lake Ashi in a pirate-type boat.
Overall, it was the most adventurous and the best trip we’ve ever done.  And, the tours and hotels we arranged through Travel Bound (Virtuoso) came off without a hitch.

For more information, please contact Traveline at 1-888-700-8747.

Flying Out of CAK During the Republican National Convention?

Here are a few helpful items for travelers if you are flying out of the Akron-Canton Airport:

  • We suggest building in a little extra time. Travelers should  arrive at CAK at least 90 minutes prior to their flight departure.
  • We offer a variety of transportation services from CAK including buses, limos, taxis, and rental cars. You can find out more here: http://www.akroncantonairport.com/ground-transportation/rental. Travelers also have the option of catching an Uber or Lyft.
  • There are five parking options at CAK that fit every budget. Complimentary door-to-door shuttle service is provided from our long-term and economy lots. Here’s a more in-depth look at our parking options:  http://www.akroncantonairport.com/parking
  • If travelers are not checking a bag, they can easily print off a boarding pass at home or at one of our mobile kiosks. We offer this amenity for Customers flying American, Delta, United or Southwest. This could save a little more time.

Hope these are helpful!

Mission Trip to Nicaragua

FullSizeRender1On Friday, May 13th, my husband Skip and I arrived at Cleveland Hopkins Airport at 3:45 AM to catch a flight to Managua, Nicaragua.  It was going to be our first mission trip ever!  Unfortunately, mechanical problems delayed us and 3 others for 13 hours at the airport.   When we finally arrived in Houston, we missed our connection by 5 minutes.   Stuck overnight at the airport, we headed to Pappadeux’s Seafood Restaurant in the terminal for what would be our last real meal before heading to Managua.   We over-nighted at the Holiday Inn, and left the next morning at 5:00 AM to board our flight to Manauga.

Upon arrival, we were met at the airport by a friendly Spanish couple who drove us on our two hour scenic and mountainous drive to the town of Chacraseca, Nicaragua.   The old and very hot rickety van finally made it to our destination.  However before we could settle in, we met with the locals who were preparing their carts for the annual procession.   It  was the Feast of St. Isidro which represents the farmers.  We helped decorate a horse-drawn cart with balloons, flowers, and ribbons and began parading down along the dusty road to the beat of a small band, singers and the omnipresent fireworks.

The procession had its fill of livestock, with decorated horns, and scarfs wrapped around their necks.  Walking in a hot 100 degree temperature along the muddy road to the church, I looked into the faces of the people that I met for the first time.  They were welcoming us with love and hope. The purpose of our trip was a partnership program with the people of this village, to help tear down a concrete block bread oven to make room for a community center,  to interact with students in the schools, learn about their culture, their hopes, and dreams, and to unite our church with theirs.

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I knew this was the beginning of what was always in my heart.  It was a hands on labor of love in a whole new culture that I have never before experienced.   These beautiful people who had nothing welcomed us with no expectations.

Back at the Casa de Paz, or Peace House, after the long two travel days, it was time to set up my sleeping quarters. The small room for the ladies had 3 bunk beds and there were 8 women. I opted to sleep on the porch in a cot outside under a mosquito net.  At least the nightly temperature was in the low 90’s, vs the heat inside.  The thin cot was workable, and although I kept my arms and legs covered to avoid any bites, a few insects manage to make it through. I was so tired, I just fell asleep, but was quickly awoken at 4:00 AM to what sounded like fireworks, and a series of explosions. (I was reassured that the Nicaraguans were still celebrating the feast). However an hour later, the rooster at the foot of my bed started crowing, and nestled by my head was a stray dog trying to get my attention… so needless to say, I had very little sleep that night. Most mornings were like that and although the rooster was very cute, I didn’t want to become too friendly with it, since it would most likely be tomorrow nights dinner. Although I spotted a Scorpion on the wall, and some ugly looking bugs crawling by, there was such feeling of peacefulness.

IMG_1956We were served rice and beans at all three meals, along with fruit or some other peeled vegetable. Our favorite cook, “Estelle” walked 3 miles to work every day and cooked our meals in a wood burning stove. The other women who cooked for us, brought their children to work, and we all fell in love with one little boy in particular who would rest in a hammock while his mom continued to work. Despite the fact that I barely ate anything, I didn’t lose any weight.  (Maybe it was the chips and granola bars I took with me).

IMG_17481The next day, we had a firsthand look at the efforts of Just Hope with its micro loan program which helped women become self-sufficient.   We stopped at a Ferreteria (a hardware store), where our donations helped the business to sell these items for a small profit and also visited the home of a women who has established a business by making about 100 tortillas daily and selling them to the locals.

We visited the schools and brought them supplies, and led them in songs and dances. Meanwhile, back in the center of town, the others donned dust masks, safety goggles and wielded shovels, sledge hammers and a pick axe to remove debris and take apart a concrete  oven.  We all went different ways; some to the clinic, to the families homes, the schools, the upcoming farmland, and to the church.       Many of the homes only had dirt floors, and no plumbing; but one thing in common is the loving family bond that was shared.

IMG_2065We visited the town of Leon, and also a beachfront restaurant where we watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.  The dark volcanic sand and numerous shells were glowing. There we met children who with a “pinky-finger” promise, asked us to buy their goods.  They also waited for us to finish our dinner so we could box left overs and they could take them home. Of course, we ordered extra meals, and knowing this, the last of my fruit snacks and goodies were pre-packed for them. I received a parting gift of shells from a young man whom I gave my boxed food to. In Spanish he said to me  “Nunca me olvides”……..translation ……”Never forget me”.  (I never will).

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We traveled to a Coffee Plantation called Selva Negra where we spent one night.  It was a beautiful balance of an organic farm, coffee plantation and wildlife forest area.  It is tourism at its best in Nicaragua. There was also horseback riding, long hikes in the forest, solar cabins with beautiful views, white swans on the lake, and being in the mountains, it had a welcoming cool temperature.

IMG_22611To sum it up, I am so appreciative for what I have, for all that I take for granted, for my family and friends.  Reality check: America… a wonderful place we live in.

One of the best gifts we received, was to bring back to Cleveland Ohio with us Padre Tomas from the church in Nicaragua.  He stayed here for 3 weeks.  It was an awesome journey.  He had never been to the United States before, and our fellow missionaries, our priest Father Sal Ruggeri from St. John of the Cross, and many others showed him respect and love.

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Luxury Hotel in Brazil

Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, located in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, is the only hotel located within the Iguassu National Park, with the world famous Iguassu Falls just a two minute stroll away. As the only hotel within the national park, guests are able to enjoy exclusive access to the falls each morning before the park opens. The Iguassu Falls are a breathtaking collection of 275 waterfalls, extending over almost 3km in an enormous canyon on the Iguassu River. We are pleased to be able to offer a range of experiences within this spectacular region including helicopter flights, rafting, nature walks, jeep safaris and a visit to the bird park.

STAY 4 NIGHT & PAY 3 ( 25% OFF, MINIMUM 4 NIGHTS )

Additionally, exclusively for 2016 Traveline guests:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • Complimentary one-way private airport transfer – private sedan transfer for up to two people per room, once during stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Click here for more information or contact us at 1-888-700-8747