"Christine was amazing to work with! She made sure I selected the correct group trip for the first half of my Euro trip (Contiki®), and ensured all my flights and housing accommodations went exactly as planned. I was able to be off the cuff as my travel itinerary changed, yet she helped me work out all destination transitions seamlessly. Everything was more than you could hope for! I went through 12 countries in 8 weeks traveling alone and was completely comfortable the whole time. What an amazing experience to say the least! I would 100% go back to Christine and Brentwood Travel for my next adventure!" - Jack D.
Are you interested in a solo trip to Europe?
Call Christine Hakenjos 314-439-5700 ext. 134 or email her!
My husband and I have always been huge Disney fans which means we absolutely love to vacation at Walt Disney World. My entire pregnancy people told me "you know you have to wait years before you go back to Disney World?" because people knew I would be dying to go back there and to most people it sounds like a miserable idea to take a baby to Disney. Well, when I announced I was planning to take my baby to Walt Disney World I got tons of push back! Of course I was a little nervous, but guess what - taking my 10-month-old to Disney was the best decision I ever made and I can't wait to go back with him! I will say it definitely was a different type of Disney vacation than what I've been used to, but it was completely worth it and here are some of my tips for taking your baby to Disney:
1. Be on your baby's schedule
On previous Disney vacations my husband and I would be the first ones in the park and the last to leave each day. We had to ride every ride, see every show and close out the night with fireworks. Unfortunately, this plan doesn't work too well with a baby. Nap time, feedings and bedtime all have to be taken into consideration. But this doesn't mean you can't still have fun! Be sure to have a stroller that you can recline back so baby can nap during the day and you can walk around the Park or get a yummy snack. Also, slowing down your pace will actually allow you to enjoy more of the Parks than constantly being on the go, which we definitely learned on this trip. Don't expect your baby will be awake for every photo opportunity. You have to learn to just go with the flow.
2. Ship baby necessities to your resort
If you plan to fly to Walt Disney World it's not practical to pack diapers, formula and food in your suitcase. You'll lose valuable space and you'll probably get stuck paying for heavy luggage fees at the airport. Instead, go on Amazon before your trip and select the items that your baby needs the most and have them shipped to the resort you're staying at. This was a lifesaver for us! I chose everything I needed and changed the shipping address to the resort. Be sure to include "Guest" with your name and check-in date on the shipping label so they can easily find the package when you check in.
3. Pack a change of clothes each day
Accidents and babies go hand in hand. You just never know when something will happen to a baby's clothes. Be sure that before you head out to the Parks each day that you have a spare change of clothes in your diaper bag. To quickly locate everything I recommend putting the change of clothes in a Ziplock bag, and this will also help keep the soiled clothes separate from everything else in your bag. Trust me, accidents WILL happen.
4. Mark your stroller
Any time you want to hop on a ride you have to leave your stroller in the sea of stroller parking. It can be difficult to quickly identify which stroller is yours, so to help out be sure to have a sign that you can attach to the back of your stroller. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, you could use a brightly colored ribbon. However I like to be a little extra and full of Disney flair, so I had a custom sign made that I found here on Etsy. Remember, don't leave valuables in your stroller!
5. Get a stroller fan
I can't emphasize this enough, you have to get a fan to clip on your stroller! There is almost nothing hotter than the Florida sun and you have to have something to keep your baby cool. I purchased this rechargeable fan on Amazon and it worked wonders. We clipped it to the top of the stroller so our son couldn't mess with it but it was securely aimed on him at all times.
6. Utilize Fastpasses for baby-friendly rides
Fastpasses are free with your park admission and they're a great way to make your ride-planning much easier. You get three Fastpasses that you can book in advance, and once you've used all your Fastpasses at one park you can request additional passes. To avoid waiting in lines and causing our son to get restless, we only went on rides if we had a Fastpass (or if there wasn't a long wait time). They made our day so laid back and our son thoroughly enjoyed every ride he went on! Our son got to experience The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Frozen Ever After, "it's a small world", Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan's Flight, The Voyage of The Little Mermaid, Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and Kilimanjaro Safari. I loved how his face would light up with curiosity, he would let out happy squeals and clap his hands to songs!
7. Book Character Dining experiences
My son is obsessed with watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and I knew I wanted him to have the chance to meet all of the characters. The best place to do this is at Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort. I booked this during breakfast when I knew it wouldn't interfere with nap time and he would be in good spirits. It was the best way for us to have one-on-one time with each character without having to wait in long lines to meet them. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy all came to meet our son and he just couldn't get enough of them! It even brought a few tears to this Disney momma's eye.
8. Document as much as you can
Since Disney is so dear to my heart I wanted to document as many moments as I could with my son. Before the trip I made "first" signs for different experiences I knew my son would have throughout Walt Disney World. It made us pause during the day to appreciate little moments and take in different experiences in a new way. Not to mention I have so many more pictures for our photo album because I captured the moment!
Bottom line, just go with the flow and you'll have a fantastic time! To book your Walt Disney World vacation, contact Brentwood Travel at 314-439-5700 or send us an email!
"We had an amazing trip to Cabo! This was our first time to Cabo, though we have been to other Mexican resorts. The weather was amazing. Other than getting drenched while getting to our transfer from the airport, we didn't see a single drop of rain the entire week. It was sunny and HOT, which is exactly how we wanted it. I don't know what the typical temps are for September, but I had been watching the weather all summer, and it seemed the week we were there was the hottest it had been all summer!
The landscape of the beach and mountains was incredible! I have been to Riviera Maya a couple times, but in terms of climate and scenery, I liked Cabo better.
Secrets Resort was beautiful! The staff was so friendly. We paid for the Preferred Club, and we are SO glad we did. The beach was too dangerous to swim, so we spent most of our time at the Preferred Club pool... doing nothing and drinking cocktails, which was exactly what we wanted. It was worth it just to have a quiet, secluded pool with more personal service where we got to know the staff better. Plus the view from the pool onto the beach and mountains was spectacular. And as someone who is often too cold to swim, I thought the pool temperature was just right!
One night we went on a Sunset Sail out of Cabo San Lucas. Our driver was friendly, and we stopped at the Baja Point to take a couple pictures. The sail was amazing. The drinks and food we got weren't much to write home about, but the staff made the whole outing really fun, and the views were amazing. We sailed out past the famous Arch and took pictures right at sunset, then sailed back. It was the perfect excursion for us because we wanted to spend most of our time doing nothing at the pool/beach.
Our favorite restaurant at Secrets was the Asian restaurant. We also enjoyed the breakfast and lunch buffets. The Italian restaurant had the most romantic and formal atmosphere, so we went there for our anniversary. Our server made sure we had a great experience, and he brought us a special anniversary dessert. Another perk of the preferred club was a la carte breakfast at Oceana, which looks out over the Preferred Club pool with a 180 view of the beach and mountains! I'm hungry for the french toast just thinking about it.
In the evenings, we usually checked out the nightly entertainment, which was actually really good! I've been to two other resorts where the entertainment was pretty over the top. At Secrets there was no theater, so they brought in actual entertainment teams (Mexican band, fire throwers, etc.) and there were really talented! We also usually sat at the Rendezvous bar (main lobby). The bartenders there made the best cocktails and were fun to watch. Plus the whole bar is inside a bird cage!
We loved our time in Cabo and definitely plan to return someday... wish it was next week!"
- Cheri and Patrick L.
As the weather beings to cool down you can't help but start getting excited for the upcoming holiday season. We all have our holiday traditions, but why not switch things up and experience something new? Regardless if you want to stay in the U.S. or travel outside of the country, there is somewhere waiting to be discovered.
German Christmas Markets
New York City
Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
Check out our Cruise Expo Pre-Sale for AMAZING limited-time deals for 2019 and 2020 travel!
Hurry the sale ends 10/31. Find your perfect holiday getaway today!
Coming home after a vacation is such a wonderful feeling! You are back in a familiar place and feel right at home, but then you begin to think about where you will travel to next. You have been a tourist in many unfamiliar places before, but have you ever thought about being a tourist in your own town? Many people have lived in our hometowns their entire lives, so we often take the amazing spots in our hometowns for granted. At Brentwood Travel, we are proud to call St. Louis, Missouri, our home! No matter if you were born and raised or have never been, here are the places you MUST VISIT when you're in STL!
10. Ballpark Village: Located just steps from Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village has a variety of bars and restaurants that will suit everyone! It is the perfect spot for before and after Cardinals games or any night out! With seven different bars under one roof, you can get a night of variety with the convenience of being only a couple of feet away from your next stop.
9. City Museum: This unique museum is home to many exhibits consisting largely of re-purposed architectural and industrial objects. The City Museum is the perfect place to let your imagination and inner child run wild! If you enjoy heights and thrills, be sure to check out the school bus on the rooftop!
8. Imo's: Nothing is more St. Louis than St. Louis-style pizza! This unique thin crust, square-sliced pizza is something you don't see all over the country, so when you'll want to try it out if you never have!
7. Grant's Farm: This historic farm is built on land given to President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife by his father in law. Today, you can visit Budweiser Clydesdales in-training, feed goats, watch animal shows, or relax in the courtyard for lunch and complimentary Anheuser-Busch products.
6. Ted Drewes: This is one of our favorite places in STL! The line is always worth the wait for the best frozen custard concretes around. Their large menu has something to satisfy every type of sweet tooth. Because of this, Ted Drewes has been a St. Louis classic for 90 years!
5. St. Louis Zoo: What is better than a day at the zoo? A day at a zoo that is FREE to the public! Visit all kinds of animals, from polar bears to prairie dogs to elephants; the St. Louis Zoo has it all!
4. Anheuser-Busch Brewery: Visit the King of Beers and see how your favorite beer is brewed right in St. Louis. The (FREE) brewery tours are not only educational but also fun! Try freshly brewed samples throughout the tour as well as redeeming your free beer at the end. If you're visiting around the holidays, be sure to stop by the brewery for some of the best light displays around!
3. Cardinals Game: St. Louis has always been the ultimate baseball town! Nothing is better than a beautiful summer evening in Busch Stadium cheering on our team. We recommend trying the loaded nachos while you're there, you won't regret it!
2. Blues Game: We are proud to be the home of the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions! If you are in town during hockey season, make sure to pick up some Blues tickets to watch the boys in action.
1. Gateway Arch: The Gateway Arch is the most iconic landmarks in St. Louis. Take a ride to the top to get a breathtaking view of downtown St. Louis, or if heights aren't your thing, walk around the beautiful grounds or cruise around the Mississippi River in a replica 19th century paddle-wheel riverboat.
Did we miss one of your favorite STL spots? We told you our favorites, now tell us yours!
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"When thinking about my plans for 2019, my friend Paige and I decided it was time for another girl’s trip! After narrowing down our options, we decided Costa Rica would be the perfect fit! We both love nature, adventure, beautiful sights, and coffee! The trip certainly exceeded our expectations! Take a look below to see our day by day itinerary and photos from our adventure.
Paige and I left St. Louis bright and early! After a short layover in Fort Lauderdale, we arrived in San José, Costa Rica and took a transfer to our hotel. We stayed at Xandari Resort and Spa, just north of the city. It was the perfect choice to start our trip! The resort was opened by a couple from California, an architect and artist, who fell in love with Costa Rica and built the resort. The staff was very welcoming and the grounds had so much to offer! The afternoon was very rainy, but we walked the botanical gardens and enjoyed a nice meal before retreating to bed.
Since we had such an early night, we got up bright and early to walk the footpath around the grounds. We saw five waterfalls! The footpath did have some steep inclines, but it was worth it to see the biggest waterfall. We had a wonderful buffet breakfast full of plantains, rice, beans, eggs, and fresh fruits.
Today was dedicated to experiencing one of Costa Rica’s finest exports: COFFEE! Our first tour was Britt Coffee Tour. Britt was actually the first company to offer coffee tours! Our guides were very entertaining and knowledgeable about the process of growing coffee beans, harvesting, roasting, packaging, as well as the best brewing methods. We tried six different coffees on the tour and enjoyed some of their chocolates along the tour. The Tarrazu Monteeielo was my favorite with hints of chocolate and grapefruit.
Next, we toured Doka Estate. Doka is the largest coffee plantation in Costa Rica. They grow coffee plants and harvest the beans for both exportation and their own coffee line, Tres Generaciones. On this tour we got to see some of the harvesting process firsthand. It is very early in the season for picking the beans, but there was a small amount that were ripe and had already been collected. We watched the machines sort, wash, peel, and separate the beans. After that process, the beans are all laid out to dry in the sun for a couple of days before they are ready to be packaged and exported.
We were picked up by our private transfer to Arenal. The private transfer was such a blessing! We could stop for photos or run by a pharmacy for motion sickness medicine (just in case) without having to worry about navigating the roads of Costa Rica. Our driver, Warner, was fantastic at pointing our plants and wildlife. He even pulled over when he noticed another van had stopped to see a sloth outside of La Fortuna!
In Arenal we stayed at Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa. I was very excited to stay here as this is a preferred hotel for Brentwood Travel! Since Brentwood Travel is a member of Ensemble, our clients get special perks while staying here! As soon as we arrived at the resort, I was blown away by the beautiful grounds and seamless check in!! Our room was one of the Orchid garden view rooms, perfect for us! It was newly renovated 2 years ago. For a special occasion I would highly recommend a Rainforest room with a soaking tub and balcony with a forest view. Another option would be a Tabacon Suite for an elevated experience! They will both be renovated by the end of 2019!!
Soaking in the hot springs and pool at Tabacon were some highlights of our stay! All throughout the springs there are beautiful gardens, hidden waterfalls, and spots to relax. The spa and adults only Shangri-La Gardens are also tucked away in the hot springs.
This afternoon we went to Sky Adventure Park to experience the Sky Limit Adventure Course. Only about 15 minutes from Tabacon, Sky Adventure Park is in the heart of the rain forest with fantastic views. The course combines a high ropes course, zip lines, canyoning, rappelling, Tarzan swing, Tibetan bridges, and ending with a superman zip line over the forest. It was an adrenaline rush and an experience I am sure to remember!
Today in Arenal was a back-to-back adventure day! In the morning we rode by horseback to La Fortuna waterfall. The 500 steps down (and back up) were so worth it. The view of the waterfall was incredible! There are spots to swim or just enjoy the view at the bottom.
In the afternoon we did a guided hike around the Arenal 1968 Lava Flow trail. I love guided hikes because I learn so much about the plants, wildlife, and culture. Our guide was so knowledgeable about Costa Rica and was great at spotting animals. She pointed out some howler monkeys, and we stopped to watch the group of monkeys interact with one another. So often people try to get close to monkeys to feed them and get a great photo, but our guide informed us how that is creating a problem in many areas as monkeys eat food they can’t properly digest and get too close to humans and sometimes steal their stuff! I loved watching the monkeys from a safe distance!
After the hike, we were scheduled to go to Ecotermales Hot Springs. This is another natural Hot Springs in the area. It felt amazing to soak in some springs after an active day! These springs are a bit smaller than Tabacon, but I really liked the atmosphere here as well.
Off to the Guanacaste Mountains! We headed to Rio Perdido in the Guanacaste Mountains. I heard about this 'off the beaten path' resort last year and had been dying to visit ever since. All of the rooms are cute little bungalows in the middle of the forest. What is really special about this property is that you really feel the Pura Vida way of life. Pura Vida is Costa Rican slang for ‘pure life’ or ‘simple life’. It’s all about relaxing, reconnecting, enjoying nature, and truly enjoying life. We enjoyed our afternoon relaxing and recouping from our busy last few days. We had a wonderful dinner on property with some dragon fruit gin drinks, as recommended by our fabulous bartender!
We woke up today and participated in the complimentary yoga class. A short walk through the forest led us to the yoga platforms. With the river rushing in the background and the birds chirping, it was the perfect setting for yoga. I’m definitely at the ‘beginner’ stage of yoga, but it didn’t matter! Everyone moved at the level they were comfortable with and it was a great experience. Later in the morning we took a dip in the thermal rivers and enjoyed some time at the pools! One of the neatest animals we saw was this beautiful green iguana. I’m normally more of a fan of a cute fuzzy mammal rather than reptiles, but this little guy was just so beautiful!
That afternoon we decided to go river tubing! There were also options to mountain bike or zip line on site as well. The river tubing was a nice little adrenaline rush and was quite refreshing. I’m so glad that we chose this activity!
After another morning of nature yoga, we had our wonderful buffet breakfast. The homemade bread and delicious fruit here made this my favorite breakfast of the trip! Then we decided to take one of the trails out to the Medicinal Spring. It was bit dried up this time of year, but it was nice to get a little more hiking in on this trip! Plus, we got to play on the hanging bridges a bit!
We packed up and got ready to head to our last destination at the beach! Our home for the next few days was El Mangroove, an Autograph Collection Marriott property. Autograph Collection hotels are special because they are unique in design and ‘thoughtful in spirit.' The moment we pulled up the to property I was really impressed! It was clear they really worked in local design and nature into the property. The long rectangle pool that overlooked the ocean was perfect for an afternoon dip! We also got to see an incredible sunset for our first night at the beach.
Today we ventured a few minutes down the road because we had a day pass at Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica. Our plan was to eat lots of great food, enjoy the beach, and have some fun. This is exactly what we did! I took a tour of the property so I could see some different room types and the venues. The rooms are all built up into the bluffs for some stunning ocean views. I really enjoyed the spa area with a quiet pool and healthy restaurant. Most of the action is on the other side of the beach cove with the main pool, pool bars, restaurants, water activities, and entertainment. There are many activities to participate in, but we decided to spend most of the day relaxing at a beach cabana. We ended our night with dinner at the Asian Restaurant, Himitsu.
This was our last day to enjoy Costa Rica! We spent the day hanging out at El Mangroove. First, we took out one of their complimentary kayaks into the cove. It was great to finally get out and enjoy the ocean. The water was a beautiful shade of blue and very calm.
That afternoon we decided to participate in the hotel's 'Leave Your Leaves' program. Together, Paige and I planted a tree that will transferred to a designated area for reforestation. Sustainability is something that is very important to the both of us. We saw how much the country of Costa Rica puts a focus on sustainability and we wanted to be a part of it! We had a little ritual on the beach and then put our tree with the others waiting to be transported. A certificate was printed that has the coordinates of where it will be planted so when we come back to Costa Rica we can actually go visit the tree. This was the perfect activity to end our trip!
We headed off to Liberia Airport. Although it is such a small airport, it was truly a nice experience. There have a Britt Coffee Shop and loads of shopping opportunities to bring back some goodies! If you are in the Guanacaste area or even Arenal area, it’s worth it to check airfare options that fly out of Liberia!"
- Stacey Hoehne, Supervisor of Leisure Travel
Interested in taking a trip to Costa Rica? Contact Stacey Hoehne today!
Call her 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or email her
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 63 years since Brentwood Travel was founded in 1957, we've grown into the largest, full-service travel agency in the Greater St. Louis area. No matter what your travel needs may be, our consultants will be able to assist you.