"Cynthia Friedenberg's attention to the needs of her customers is outstanding. Last year I mentioned a desire to combine some time in London and cruise the Norwegian fjords. Months after that conversation, she contacted me with news of the perfect cruise to meet my travel desires.
Oceania had introduced a new 11-day itinerary, including five days visiting the fjords, departing from Southampton and returning to Southampton. My husband and I happily booked the trip.
Transfers went smoothly, our hotel in London was in a good location and lovely. The Oceana Marina offered a superior shipboard experience.
Thanks to the planning of Ms. Friedenberg, an outstanding travel agent, our entire trip was perfect."
We loved our week in Cabo with daughter Tammy and son-in-law Kent. We stayed at the beautiful Secrets Puerto Los Cabos in a swim out room. Everything was perfect including the accommodations, service, food, weather and traveling companions. Cabo is like Palm Springs with an ocean. And the non-stop charter with Apple Vacations was a huge bonus.
My husband (who does not swim) loved having the private pool area. Only 6-7 rooms share each swim out pool. We were in preferred club and the service by Ada and her team was amazing. Our room and bathroom were spacious and well appointed.
Each night we ate in a different restaurant. They were all wonderful in their own way, but our favorite was Himatsu, the Japanese restaurant and Miguel, our waiter, was amazing. Food here was superior and we loved the Marketplace. The breakfast and lunch buffets were fresh, tasty and offered great service from the wait staff.
If you like golf, swimming, yoga, a quiet pool or a busy fun pool, this property has so much to offer. This is the place where you can golf, fish, snorkel, workout, bike, shop or do absolutely nothing.
You can also participate in so many activities off the property. One night the hotel arranged for those who wanted a shuttle into the town of San Jose del Cabo. There was a nominal charge per person for the transportation. It was a just nice excursion to do.
I have traveled the world and stayed in many hotels of all types and styles. I highly recommend this lovely property for adults only. It was a relaxing escape.
Travel Consultants Dianna Paridon and Mary Caraffa traveled together on a voyage with the Windstar Star Pride to the charming villages of Scotland and Ireland. They enjoyed unique excursions to castles and took in picturesque landscapes onboard the casual and elegant small ship world of Windstar Cruises.
Start planning your trip to Scotland and Ireland.
Email Dianna or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 108
or email Mary or call her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 121.
There is good news happening in the American work culture! For fifteen years, America vacation habits saw a decline despite nearly all (96%) workers believing vacation time is important to them for an effective work/life balance. A survey completed by Project: Time Off in 2016, however, shows workplace attitudes toward vacation is turning and the trend is going in a positive direction.
In 2016, average vacation use climbed to 16.8 per worker compared to 16.2 days in previous years. This increase is the most upward movement seen since vacation usage stated to decline in 2000. The benefits are starting to show with an increase in well-being as well as in business performance.
The clear majority of managers agree that vacation improves health and well-being (82%), boosts morale (82%) and alleviates burnout (81%). Managers also believe in the benefits vacation usage has towards a company as a whole. 78% of managers say that vacation improves employees' focus upon return; 70% agree it renews employees’ commitment to their job; and 64% feel it makes employees more willing to put in long hours when they are needed.
The most effective remedy for American workers who want to use more vacations days is better planning. A majority (52%) of workers who say they plan out their vacation days during the year take all their time off, compared to just 40% of non-planners. They also tend to take longer vacations.
Planners also feel more supported at work when they take time off. Nearly half (48%) of planners say their bosses support them when they take vacations, compared to 37% of non-planners. Planners are also more likely to say their company culture encourages taking time off (39% vs. 27%).
Another factor that will help to change the workplace landscape is a redefinition of success. Despite the virtues of vacation, there are still the beliefs held strongly by work martyrs. These are employees who find it difficult or do not take time off because they feel no one else can do their job. However, work martyrdom does not help advance careers but may actually hurt careers. Work martyrs are less likely (79% to 84%) to report receiving a raise or bonus but do earn more stress at work (73% to 68%) than non-work martyrs.
Avoid becoming a work martyr and become a smarter worker.
Contact Brentwood Travel to speak with an experienced travel consultant and make the most of your vacation days.
Stacey Acree, Senior Vice President, and Dagmar Morrison, Travel Consultant, both started their summer with a voyage on Celebrity Solstice to Alaska. In this blog, Stacey shares amazing pictures of the landscape and stories of checking off bucket-list items during her Alaska adventure.
My family and I spent our first week of school break journeying to Alaska on Celebrity Solstice. Our journey began in Seattle and we lucked out with picture perfect weather as we journeyed to the 49th State.
Our trip included many highlights including the immense ice formations of Hubbard Glacier, as well as visits to popular ports such as Skagway and Ketchikan. We also visited Juneau, the only U.S. state capital that's not accessible by car and beautiful Victoria, British Columbia.
The trip began with a chartered Salmon Fishing Boat and you could practically touch the eagles flying around the boat. We even saw humpback whales and dolphins. My son Ryan caught a salmon which was not quite big enough to ship back to the US, but the experience will stay with him for a lifetime.
Juneau was our day of adventure. We were picked up in a helicopter and whisked off to meet the Iditarod dogs who live high on the glacier. Some of the fastest sled dogs from the team were our guides for the day as they whisked us off on a sled ride around the glaciers. UNBELIEVABLE!!!
Our pilot then took us to a glacier where it felt like we were the only people on earth. It was spectacular and we even drank the freshest water from the bright blue glacier on top of the mountain.
In Skagway we went zip lining and I have to admit…I am afraid of heights! I overcame my trepidation by having our fearless guides talk me through the adventure. By the end, I was zipping down with no problem and the scenery from high above was breathtaking.
In Victoria we visited the jaw dropping Butchart Gardens. The roses had the most wonderful smell EVER. It's a spectacular excursion and a must visit for any family trip.
Our Celebrity Solstice cruise had excellent food especially in the specialty dining options with the best Kobe Burger, sushi and gyoza. There was also plenty of homemade ice cream and snacks at the coffee shop. I also took advantage of classes in the gym and the view from the window was a screen of mountains while you sailed.
There were plenty of activities for all ages and at all times. The entertainment was alive with Cirque de Soleil like shows. There was also a glass blowing studio with live demonstrations and a lawn club where they had movies daily. We also enjoyed the martini bar with displays on dry ice that are true pieces of art.
Our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice was a trip to remember. A special shout out to Alesander and Silva who went out of their way to 'adopt' our family and make us feel extra special. Also to Matthew Scheer, Market Sales Manager at Celebrity, who sent us off in style with a souvenir bag of lots of goodies!
Ready for your own Alaska adventure or to sail off on a Celebrity cruise?
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 Ext. 102 or
Dagmar at 314-439-5700 Ext. 104 to book your next trip.
Be sure to also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more staff travel blogs.
Travel Consultant Mickey Gaona traveled to Secrets Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic in late May and was amazed by its beauty, quality of service, and variety of activities. This adult-only resort is located only 20 minutes from the airport and provides an all-inclusive and luxurious experience.
Mickey was impressed immediately with the resort’s lobby with its dramatic view straight to the ocean. Her four night stay included a swim out room with a king-size bed and relaxing chaise lounge positioned perfectly in the water. Bungalows and ocean view rooms are also available throughout the resort.
Secrets Cap Cana offers a wide range of varieties. In addition to the large buffet, there are seven specialty restaurants which include French, Italian, Japanese, and seafood options. There is also a different vibe to both pool areas. One was quiet and calm and the other more active with live music performed in the evenings.
Water sport activities such as kayaking and sail fishing are included within the resort. Golf courses in the area are easily accessible via bus transfer. And an onsite casino is in the beginning planning stages.
The decor of the resort is unique and features wood furnishing and follows current style trends. During her stay, Mickey was able to view different banquet settings including an elegant yet rustic dinner directly on the beach. ‘Every sight is beautiful and Secrets Cap Cana would be a perfect venue for a wedding,’ Mickey recommends.
To hear more of her review and to book an all-inclusive escape, email Mickey or
contact her via phone at 314-439-5700 ext. 260.
I just returned from a week of FUN on the NCL Escape. My friend and former colleague, Lybbi, sailed on a 7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line. The week was full of entertainment, exciting excursions, and lots of Caribbean sun.
The Escape is a mega ship that holds just over 4,000 guests. I would have never guessed that it holds that many people because I never felt crowded. There are so many restaurants and entertainment venues throughout the ship that everyone is spread out depending on their interests.
I loved the center of decks 6, 7, and 8 that opened up to specialty restaurants, bars, and shops.
Also around deck 8 is a walk around deck called “The Waterfront” where you can have a drink or even have dinner outside.
The amount of activities on the top decks were also a highlight. Lybbi and I did the ropes course at sea. It was very thrilling to zip line right over the ocean! We also took advantage of the fun tube slide that takes you through neon lights and views of the ocean. I was feeling brave and slid on the racer slides where you start standing and the bottom drops out. Talk about a thrill!! There was also
mini golf, a basketball court, and ping pong tables offered.
I was really impressed with the size of our stateroom and particularly the bathroom. There were lots of cubbies all around that we felt comfortable fully unpacking and taking over the room!
There was certainly no shortage of entertainment throughout the ship. I am a huge fan of stand-up comedy so I was eager to see the stand-up comedians perform. We caught a couple of shows in
The Headlines Comedy Club—both the family friendly and the late night show. There was also a larger performance in the big theater featuring all three comics.
The Supper Club is a smaller dinner theater on board. Lybbi and I decided to splurge a little and pay for the lunch show of Wine Lover’s the Musical. This was certainly worth the $30 upcharge because they provide 6 glasses of wine! The show was an extremely cute story about some young adults taking a wine class to learn how to appreciate wine. We saw a dinner show of The Company Men singing mash-ups of popular songs in The Supper Club as well. We also caught their big performance with a live band in The Escape Theater. I was a big fan of their mash-ups and even bought their CD!
In The Escape Theater we saw big shows For the Record: The Brat Pack and After Midnight, which were both full of some amazing talent. Every night there was a party on the top deck at Spice H20. We made it to the 80’s night and Glow Party. The deck was full of people have a great time and shaking their stuff! One night, I took a quick “salsa dancing lesson” and had a blast pretending that I was a talented dancer.
Although we loved the comedy, shows, and activities on board, I think the highlight of the entertainment was our Cruise Director, Andre. Andre was full of such genuine fun that everyone couldn’t help but have a good time around him! Our first treat of Andre entertainment was the pool deck on our first day at sea. Andre led the Mr. Sexy Legs competition. About 30 men of all shapes and sizes took to the pool deck to prove they had the most sexy legs. The unlimited beverage package may have also brought on some confidence to these men who stopped at nothing to win over the judges. I have never seen a crowd of people so engaged in an activity! The newlywed game and celebrity dance off were also top contenders for our top laugh-until-you-almost-cry moments. Trivia sessions were also in full swing with Harry Potter Trivia, Big Bang Theory, and Star Wars Trivia. And let me tell you, Andre had an outfit for it all!
Food and drinks:
I was impressed with the options of food and bars! There was a choice of the main dining room, The Manhattan Room, for slightly more upscale dining or the buffet. We ate at both of these and I was very pleased! We also splurged a little and tried some of the specialty dining restaurants. Cagney’s was our fancy night where we enjoyed steaks with some of our new friends. We also tried La Cucina for some delicious Italian pasta. Lastly, my favorite was Food Republic where we ordered small plates of different fusion food recipes off of an iPad. There were half a dozen more options that we didn’t even get a chance to try! The a la carte pricing for the specialty dining restaurants was extremely reasonable. Some people even had the specialty dining promotional package so you get to try out some of these complimentary.
The options of different bars seemed to be endless. Being big craft beer lovers, Lybbi and I spent a lot of time The District Brew House. We really enjoyed the laid back vibe of the lounge and they often had musicians playing. This is also where we met our new friends on night one—more on them later! If you’re in the mood for a treat then the Sugarcane Mojito Bar is the place to go. These showy bartenders crafted up the best mojito I have ever had! I also made my way to The Cellars wine bar for a class of Chianti.
St. Thomas was our first port. We booked a catamaran cruise and snorkel trip over to St. John. I love to snorkel and love a good beach so this was a no-brainer for us. The catamaran motored off through the breathtaking US Virgin Islands while the crew gave us a brief history of the islands. We stopped at Honeymooner’s beach in St. John, jumped out and started to snorkel. I saw lots of tropical fish and some neat coral. We then swam on over to the beach to lay out in the sun.
The ride back to St. Thomas was a bit different. The wind was with us so we hoisted up the sails and enjoyed our all-inclusive beverages on our way back to the port. We sipped mimosas (that quickly turned into just champagne) and ate some sandwiches while soaking in that Caribbean sun. We got back to our port with plenty of time to spare. A stop for some grub and local Virgin Island beer was in order. We then took the Skyride up to Paradise Point for a view over the island. St. Thomas was a fantastic first stop and probably my favorite port.
Next up was Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Here we headed on a ferry over to Virgin Gorda to explore The Baths. After a short trek down to the ocean we came upon a beach and beautiful view of the ocean. Then we headed over, under, and between rocks to get to a more secluded cove. The way out featured some minor climbing and trekking through The Baths to another beach and food hut. This was the most scenic of all the islands we saw! It was a level 3 excursion, so be sure you are healthy and up for some light climbing if you are going to The Baths.
Nassau was our last port. True to our last two ports, we got off the cruise ship, got on another boat to go to a different island. This time we headed to The Blue Lagoon Island. The Blue Lagoon Island is a little island set up for dolphin swimming, Segway tours, and more. We opted for the Safari Segway tour. I typically have great balance, so I thought I would rock it! Turns out that riding a Segway was just a little harder than I expected. Once I got the hang of it and started to relax it was a lot of fun. Our guides were extremely helpful and also quite entertaining. They took us around the island with stops at a shark bay, an old lookout tower, and some beautiful look outs. After our tour we got our included BBQ lunch and took in the beauty of the island. We decided to take the early ferry back to Nassau. Instead of going straight back to the port we actually got off at Paradise Island to looks around the shops by Atlantis. The local water taxi back to downtown Nassau was only a couple of dollars and then we walked around the markets and shops by the cruise pier for a bit.
I have to say this was one of the most fun vacations I have ever had! A cruise provides so many options of things to do and people to meet. On our first night on the cruise we ran into a group of people who were staying in the studio cabins. The studios cabins are built for one person and priced for the solo traveler. They have a studio lounge on board where solo travelers can meet others cruising alone. The group meets around 5pm each day and has some scheduled dinners and shows that they can go to. They also have a dry erase board where you can leave messages for other travelers to join you for activities. The meet-up is meant for those who are traveling alone and also those who want to meet others. We joined in on the meet up the next day and ended up hanging out with this group for some dinners and lounge time. We also made friends on our excursions, dances, and at the pool. Everyone is on vacation to have a good time so there was no shortage of making friends!
THANK YOU to the staff and crew of the Norwegian Escape for a fantastic cruise! I can't wait to sail again!
Our travel consultants frequently take remarkable journeys and they always come back with exciting stories and stunning pictures. Recently, Emily Medina took a trip with Princess Cruises through the Panama Canal and was amazed by this ‘miraculous bridge of water’.
In April 2017, I sailed on the Island Princess on the 10-day Panama Canal Voyage out of
Ft Lauderdale, FL. Our first stop was beautiful Aruba where we explored the rock formations and other city highlights.
Our second stop was Cartagena where we explored the Old City, born at the height of the Spanish empire and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We shopped and even saw a Colombian folkloric dance and music show.
Next was the Panama Canal which is a true wonder. We did a tour in Colon where we saw wildlife in their natural habitat as we cruised through Gatun Lake.
In Limon, Costa Rica we explored vibrant rainforest filled with exotic tropical plants and spotted lots of birds, monkeys and sloths.
Our last stop was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We visited the botanical garden, the beach and
Dunn’s River Falls.
To book your next trip to the Caribbean, be sure to email Emily
or call her at 314-439-5700 ext. 107.
I just returned from my vacation on beautiful Anna Marie Island, FL., just south of St Petersburg. Anna Marie is a quiet destination to enjoy white powdery sand beaches, amazing restaurants that overlook the ocean, shopping in some locally owned boutiques, and the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.
The weather is consistently 78 degrees year round, and the homes are painted bright cheerful colors with beautiful landscaping, most have private pools. The beaches are walking distance from any home on the island and the waves are perfect for paddle boarding or windsurfing. We rented bicycles for the week and rode to the popular local "Dips Ice Cream" each evening after watching the sunset on the beach.
The Sandbar restaurant is a local favorite with fresh seafood and vegetables grown on their own farm, with a large patio for outdoor seating right on the beach as well as indoor seating. The stuffed shrimp was delicious and so is the stuffed grouper.
The Starfish company is a small ala-carte dockside restaurant with dining on picnic tables on the pier. They don’t open until 11:30 am because they catch all of their fish in the mornings and prepare them fried, grilled, or blackened. The fish tacos are the best I’ve ever eaten and homemade hush puppies that would make my grandma proud. They have charters that sail across the bay and to the Gulf for a 2 hour tour. If you dine there, make note they only accept cash.
We had lunch at Mr. Bones BBQ and I was hesitant since St Louis has some of the best BBQ in the country, but they were impressive and had the most amazing rub on the ribs and pork.
Anna Marie Island is someplace I would definitely return to for my vacation, it was so relaxing, and it's only an hour and 15 minutes from Tampa Airport.
To book a trip to Anna Marie Island, email Leigh or call her at 314-439-5700 x131
"I worked with Ann at Brentwood Travel, and she handled all the details for a Disney Cruise that my family took in April, 2017. Everything was executed in perfect detail, and our trip was wonderful! Thank you, Ann and Brentwood Travel, for your thorough handling of our travel arrangements and for making our trip a success!"
- Bonnie D.
To plan your next Disney cruise, contact Ann via email or at 314-439-5700 x 118
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
Serving Greater St. Louis since 1957, we specialize in cruises, all-inclusive vacations, tour packages, honeymoons, and group travel.