Clients of Ashley Curry recently returned home from Spain. They had a great time seeing all the beautiful sites Spain has to offer! Keep reading to hear the details of their wonderful trip and to see their pictures!
"The transportation was perfect! All flights, trains and transfers (nice touch, by the way) were like clockwork. We never had to wait because everything and everyone on time. Having cars waiting to pick us up was a great de-stresser!
The hotel in Madrid was good. The rooms were smallish and our room had A/C issues, but the manager ultimately changed us out of the room after a day or two. The La Latina district was good as well. It was not the best area of Madrid, but convenient. We were able to walk to most places and we felt pretty safe!
The hop on/off bus was a great call! We used it as much to scope out the city as we did transportation. We got on it in the morning and stayed on it for the whole loop, talking about where we ultimately wanted to see later, then hopped as planned. This was a great way to learn a city. The high-speed train to Barcelona was a fantastic experience! Really puts Amtrak to shame. Mega-comfortable seating, flight attendants, food and drink service, internet, electricity, and super smooth 100+ mph ride. WOW!
The hotel in Barcelona was nearly perfect. It was in a supreme location, just one block off of Las Ramblas, the epicenter of life in the old city. When we checked in we were informed that they upgraded us to a full suite. When we got to the room it was a huge suite in a newly renovated section of the hotel with a private balcony. Really stunning! We ultimately decided the junior suite would better suit us, and it was perfect! A large bedroom, large bathroom with double vanity and large living room with the requisite pull-out couch. The room was on the 3rd floor and the bedroom windows faced the street. The street noise was pretty raucous but the room was fairly quiet.
We enjoyed the Hop on/off bus so much in Madrid that we did it again in Barcelona. Same way. Did both entire routes, got our bearings then set out to explore sites, among our favorites were Monjuic, Parc Gruell and if course - La Sagrada Familia. There's nothing I can say about La Sagrada Familia in less than 50,000 words so I'll just have to say, "bucket list". An awesome lifetime experience for me. We also toured other Gaudi homes. As was the tour to Montserrat. Our guide, Silvia was awesome! The winery /tapas piece was very nice but we would have opted for more time at the monastery at the expense of the vino. So much so that we actually considered going back in our own the next day. Couldn't pull it off.
Other highlights of the Barcelona leg included sampling many great dishes including Fiduea (Catalan version of paella using noodles instead of rice) botirarra and tomato bread. We also had our farewell dinner at La Barra, a recently Michelin starred restaurant in the W Hotel where we enjoyed among other things - stingray.
Thank you for your help putting this together!"
- Chris L.
Travel Consultant Rachel Madigan and her mother recently returned from a 4-night stay at Dreams Dominicus La Romana in Punta Cana. They had an amazing trip together! Rachel was impressed by the stunning beaches and resort's security. Keep reading to hear more about her trip and to see her great pictures!
The Resort and Room
The Dreams Dominicus La Romana was a 50 min drive away from the airport. We reached our destination with private transfers by Amstar. Our 4 hour nonstop flight was with Frontier Airline from St. Louis. Once we got to the resort we checked into our Preferred Club room. The room was large and spacious with comfy pillow top beds and a lovely balcony! There was a Nespresso machine and a fully stocked mini bar with beer, juice, and soda. There was no hard liquor available in the room. We had a large bathroom with full toiletries, double sinks, and separate toilet.
The Beach and Pool
There was a big, beautiful beach with deep, crystal clear water and no seaweed! It was picture perfect with the white sand and palm trees swaying in the breeze. The resort had large pools with plenty of seating and activities during the day. There was a swim up bar as well as activities to entertain kids. There was something for everyone to do!
The food at the resort was amazing! Every single restaurant we ate at was great. One of our favorite restaurants at the resort was a Pan-Asian cuisine & sushi bar called Himitsu. We had a lot of fun at the teppanyaki table! The experience was very interactive. Our chef even pulled my mom up!
We were impressed with the security at the resort! In the resort itself as well as the beach, there was security at all times. We felt very safe throughout our entire trip.
Contact Rachel Madigan to start planning your next all-inclusive getaway.
Call 314-439-5700 ext 126 or email her!
Corporate Travel Consultant Stevie Goeke recently spent a week in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, with her family. They had a great time enjoying the white sand beaches and amazing local restaurants. Keep reading to hear about some of Stevie’s restaurant recommendations and her top 5 reasons why Gulf Shores is the best spot for your family vacation.
Live Bait: This spot was my favorite by far. Their Greek Seafood Nachos were the best nachos ever! Besides the amazing food, their service was fantastic as well. At night they have a bucking shark and live music.
The Hangout: A Gulf Shores staple! They have a wide range of menu options, so if you aren’t a fan of seafood you can definitely find something for everyone here. If you have younger children, you won’t want to miss their Pirates and Princesses breakfast, an all-you-can-eat meal with fun trinkets for the kiddos.
MaGuires in Pensacola: MaGuires is worth the 1-hour drive if you are looking for a higher-end dining experience. They are an authentic Irish restaurant with great steak and seafood.
Doc’s Seafood Shack: Famous for having “the best fried shrimp in the world”, Doc’s does not disappoint! They have multiple locations around the area, but it is a popular spot so expect a bit of a wait.
Hope’s Cheesecake: THE BEST CHEESECAKE I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! Hope’s has lots of flavors to choose from, including gluten-free options. You have the option to buy by the slice or choose one of their mini or full-sized cheesecake options. It is a little way from the beach, but totally worth the drive!
Why Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, AL is the Best Spot for Family Vacations
Hotel and condo rates are lower than other popular beach vacation destinations such as Destin, FL. The drive to Gulf Shores from St. Louis, Missouri, is also shorter versus Destin, which will save you time and money.
2. Family Oriented
There were many multi-generational families vacationing in Gulf Shores. We saw families with younger children, families with older/teen children, and many 3 generation families. There is plenty to do for any age group, making Gulf Shores ideal for the whole family.
3. Nice Beaches
If you are looking for white sand beaches, you will find them in Gulf Shores. There is a mix of private and public beaches, so no matter where you stay you can still easily get beach access. We also found lots of seashells every day on the beach!
4. Laid-back Energy
From restaurants to grocery stores to souvenir shops, everyone was so friendly! All the people we met on our vacation were laid-back, polite, and pleasant.
5. Great Restaurants
Every restaurant we ate at was phenomenal! There are too many great places to recommend just one. We ate some of the best seafood on this trip. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have so many dining options available for every type of palette.
Contact Brentwood Travel to start planning your family vacation. Call us (314) 439-5700 or email us!
Clients of Susan Hakenjos just returned from a 7-day Canada & New England Discovery cruise with Holland America Line. Keep reading to hear about their trip, see their photos, and learn why her clients highly recommends this cruise.
"Everything went very well on this cruise. We didn't have any trouble at all with our flights going out or returning. It was really easy! We loved the cruise from Montreal to Boston. We flew in the day of the cruise and out the day it ended. It stopped in Quebec City, Charlottetown PEI, Sydney, Halifax and Bar Harbor. Our favorite ports were Quebec City and Halifax. We did not take any excursions, just walked around the ports at each stop. There is a lot to see at both of these ports!"
- Patty K.
"Here are some reasons I highly recommend Canada and New England Discovery with Holland America Line:
1. It was great to escape the heat we had in STL that week!
2. It is a great cruise for cruise beginners. The ship is not as large as some, but you get all of the great amenities of a larger cruise. The ship spent the majority of time in the St. Lawrence River so there was very little to no movement on the ship so newbies would really not experience near as much of the motion as one that spends more time on the ocean.
3. This was our first cruise in about 18 months and I was very happy to see that Holland had hand washing machines on the Lido Deck. Additionally, there was very little "self service" allowed compared to what I have been normally accustomed to in the "buffet". Most of the food is served by ship staff and I'm sure this is deliberate to reduce the opportunity for spreading germs and disease. Even still there were not huge backups getting food and I'm sure this also reduced food waste.
4. We felt very safe in all of these cruise ports. They were mostly very, very charming and historic."
Call Susan at 314.439.5700 ext. 113 or email her to start planning your next cruise today!
In May of this year, Travel Consultant Christine Hakenjos sailed to Alaska on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of The Seas. She, along with her fiancé and 14 of his family members, departed out of Seattle for an Alaskan Cruise they would never forget! Keep reading for her experiences in Alaska and her thoughts on the ship itself.
We boarded the ship on Friday, May 24th after spending the evening prior in Seattle. We arrived at the Cruise Terminal and boarded Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas. The check in at the terminal was a breeze! We had completed our check in process before we even arrived in Seattle. I highly recommend doing this!
Our itinerary was absolutely wonderful! Although I will say, after this cruise I DEFINITELY want to see more of Alaska! This 7-night cruise featured stops to Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia. We also had two days out at sea and one day cruising through Alaska’s Inside Passage as well as one day cruising through Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier.
I will be honest, I was a bit bummed at first that we were only going to have 3 days in port, but after experiencing the views from our balcony stateroom during our days cruising, I totally changed my mind! I swear we could have sat out on that balcony for HOURS.
With a group of 16, it was hard for us all to decide on the same shore excursions so some of us did different things while in port. All our excursions & tours were booked through a company called Shore Trips because we were wanting smaller group excursions. Everyone LOVED their shore excursions! We all thought our tour guides were very knowledgeable and entertaining. The tours were very well done and worth every penny!
On our 4th day of the cruise, we arrived in the small town of Juneau, Alaska. The town was absolutely adorable and has a lot to see and do just within walking distance of the pier.
The tour that 8 other members of our group and I went on was the “Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier Combo Tour.” First, we were taken to Mendenhall Glacier where we were given an hour and half to do what we wanted. We decided to take the mile hike to the foot of Nugget Falls. The views from this point were just stunning! I have never seen a waterfall that big before. The waters of Mendenhall Lake were a mixture of blues and from where we were standing, we could actually see where the fresh water from the lake met the glacier’s run-off. This change in colors was beautiful to see! The glacier itself was unbelievable. I had seen many photos of it from all the research I had been doing prior to the trip but seeing it in person was a whole new perspective.
After our visit to Mendenhall Glacier, we were driven to Auke Bay where we boarded our boat and met our very knowledgeable captain and marine biologist tour guides. They were both very insightful and entertaining. They lead us directly to whales, sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, and other wildlife while teaching us all about life in Alaska and the habits and lives of these beautiful mammals.
Even though we had chances to see whales and dolphins from our ship, seeing them up close and personal like this was a whole other experience! We were all SO glad we took part in this tour!
Two members of our group did the “Mendenhall Lake Canoe Adventure.” They paddled their way across beautiful Mendenhall Lake leading them to the face of the living Mendenhall Glacier.
Three other members of our group decided on the “Helicopter and Dog Sled Tour” in Juneau. Their tour began with a 20-minute helicopter ride through glacier-carved mountains to the top of Herbert Glacier where they found about 80 huskies waiting to greet them. The mushers (tour guides/dog sled leaders) then took them on a 2-mile look through the mountains, even letting them drive the sleds!
"We loved our trip to Italy with our granddaughter. My husband and I had been previously been but this was special since we shared it as a graduation gift to our granddaughter. TFL [Tours] is fantastic. Everything is so well planned, the guides are friendly and so knowledgeable, and the drivers are always there to met you exactly as planned. Thanks again Brentwood for setting this up and making it such a memorable vacation. Thanks to Ashley who helped set the entire trip up for us. She is great and we want to let her know how much we appreciate her."
A strong desire to travel.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? From beautiful islands to rolling green hills, we want to see it all! We asked our staff and these are Brentwood Travel's current top destinations giving us wanderlust.
"I just had some clients get back from 14 days on Star Clippers in Greece! Ever since I heard of Star Clippers I’ve wanted to sail on one of their ships. I think the small ship experience would be so unique. Greece is moving higher on my bucket list after hearing my clients rave about the beauty of Mykonos and their ports in Turkey!"
- Stacey Hoehne, Leisure Supervisor & Senior Travel Consultant
"I have two places that are currently giving me wanderlust. The first being Ireland because Joe (fiance) and I have officially begun planning our honeymoon and we chose to self-drive all around Ireland! My extensive research is giving me the ULTIMATE wanderlust. Places like Galway, Ring of Kerry with the Skelling Ring are on our list as well as our future stay at the beautiful Ashford Castle..."
"...The other place I keep thinking back to is Grenada in the Caribbean. In the midst of planning our honeymoon and wedding I keep thinking back to our amazing stay on that beautiful island and the engagement itself. Plus, I could KILL for unlimited sushi and piña coladas by the beach right about now!"
- Christine Hakenjos, Travel Consultant
Give us a call at (314) 439-5700 or email us to make your dream getaway come to life
GETTING TO THE RESORT
They arrived at the resort around 1 P.M. They found out their room was not going to be available until 3 P.M., but the staff was accommodating. They held their luggage and suggested grabbing lunch and going to the poll while their room was being prepared. Christy suggests packing a change of clothes and a swimsuit in your carry-on bag so you can easily grab those items during your wait.
THE ROOM AND AMENITIES
The resort had four pools on the grounds. There was a pool for kids and families and a pool with music and a swim up bar. If you wanted to relax, there were options, such as a quieter pool as well as an adult only pool. You even had a beautiful ocean view from the pools!
Christy was impressed with the staff and service at the resort. The maintenance staff kept the grounds and even the beach, incredibly clean. Whenever she needed something, the resort staff would always eagerly assist her.
DINING AND ACTIVITIES
The resort offered kayaks and two-seater catamarans to their guests daily. They also hosted daily morning bike rides to a local shopping center about a 30-minute ride from the resort, which was right up avid bike rider Christy’s alley. Christy also tried the water aerobics class at the resort.
Besides the activities available on the resort, there were other options for a change of scenery. Christy went on a one-day catamaran ride with about 30 other guests to Isla Mujeres. She spent the day relaxing and snorkeling and felt it was worth the additional cost.
Every night around 9:30 P.M. there was entertainment for the guests. Christy enjoyed watching the different themed dance performances each night. Their themed shows included Grease, the Lion King, and Dancing with the Stars.
Contact Brentwood Travel to book your trip today!
(314) 439-5700 or email here
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES
MAGGIE AND RACHEL'S TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME CRUISERS
Opting for a drink package versus paying for drinks individually will save you money in the long run for your trip. These packages give you the option for unlimited soda, beer, wine, spirits, and more depending on the package you decide to purchase.
2. Book a balcony room
Balcony rooms give you the option to get fresh air and enjoy a view of the water without having to leave your room. Rachel felt that for her first time cruising, the balcony room was a great option that make her feel the most comfortable.
3. Download the Carnival Hub app
This was a game changer for Maggie and Rachel’s trip. If you plan on sailing with Carnival, make sure to download this app! They were able to view their daily itineraries, menus, entertainment and even get pizza delivered to them anywhere on the ship all from their phones! You can also use the app before your cruise to book shore excursions, schedule dining reservations and schedule spa treatments.
4. Pack for formal/themed nights
Make sure to check your itinerary while packing to make sure you bring the proper attire for any themed or formal nights.
5. Bring certain items to avoid heavy on-board costs
Be sure to pack items such as sunscreen, seasickness remedies (bands, pills, or patches), and the allotted number of approved beverages to keep in your room. These items can have high prices on board, so you can save money by picking up and packing these items before your trip.
Interested in sailing the Western Caribbean on Carnival Vista?
Contact Maggie Groene (314) 439-5700 ext. 120 or email her or
Rachel Madigan (314) 439-5700 ext. 126 or email her
to book your next cruise on Carnival Vista today!
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