One of the biggest destination's on my grandmother's bucket list has always been to see Mount Rushmore in person, so this year we decided to let her check this off her list (and mine!) and finally make a trip up to South Dakota. I also wanted to see this destination however I was not prepared for how gorgeous the surrounding area would be. I expected it to be similar to the Midwest - flat farmlands with just one random mountain for the monument. As we started the 14-hour drive my perception quickly changed because it was absolutely breathtaking! On our itinerary we visited Badlands National Park, Devils Tower in Wyoming, Spearfish Canyon, Black Hills National Forest and Mount Rushmore.
Once we finished our drive through the National Park we headed up to Wyoming to see the first ever National monument Devils Tower (as seen in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"). It was such a unique thing to see in person. The surrounding landscapes were large rolling hills with a few small mountains and then all of a sudden there's this tall figure! We took the drive up to the top and then walked around the base of the Tower. Experienced rock climbers are able to climb up to the top but that was a hard pass for me!
On our second day we drove through several areas before making our way to Mount Rushmore. We took the scenic route to Keystone (where Mount Rushmore is located) and we started north and made our way south thru Spearfish Canyon and Black Hills National Forest. Even though it adds about an hour and a half on to your commute it's absolutely worth it! While driving through this area I felt like I was in Colorado with the winding roads, tall pine trees and rapid rivers off to the side of the road. One of the most breathtaking parts was seeing Bridal Veil Falls just right off the side of the road. We pulled over for a quick photo op and to take in its beauty.
When we finally reached the small tourist town of Keystone we decided to go for a unique lunch opportunity instead of just dining in a regular restaurant. Instead we went to Rushmore Tramway Adventures and took a chairlift to Mountaintop Grill for a scenic view of Mount Rushmore! I was terrified to be on the chairlift on the way up and down, but it was totally worth it to have a view of Mount Rushmore for a simple lunch of burgers, fries and sodas.
With a full belly and being very thankful to be on flat land we finally made our way to our final destination - Mount Rushmore! It seemed so surreal to stand at the base and look up and this incredible piece of artwork. I couldn't help but just stare at it and think "wow!". It also was a great feeling to know my grandmother was finally able to check this off her list and to share the moment with my family.
Clients of Sue Deibel just returned from the Now Onyx Resort and Spa in Punta Cana and shared a rave review of their experience. Located on a remote beach along the Atlantic Ocean, this sprawling all-inclusive resort features balconies or terraces with hot tubs for an ultra luxurious escape.
“I just wanted to let you know how amazing the Now Onyx resort was last week. From the minute we checked in, to the day we left, the staff, the accommodations and the food were impeccable. We had our room cleaned daily and also in the evening if we preferred. The staff greeted us at every turn and the restaurants were first class! This by far was the best resort I have ever stayed and I've been traveling to Mexico, Punta Cana and Jamaica for years. We will definitely return.
If you want to travel to the Dominican and want to stay at a topnotch resort Now Onyx is the place to be! We cannot wait to book again very soon!”
Most of the time when people mention they're traveling to Iowa people question "why?". No, it's not the most popular state, but hidden in each state of our county is a gem and Iowa's is the small Dutch town of Pella.
Pella is located right outside of Des Moines, IA that Hollanders claimed as their new home in 1847. They named it Pella, otherwise meaning "city of refuge". This Dutch community has grown since it was first founded and it still holds on to its founding roots of traditions, food, customs and more. One of the most popular traditions that they celebrate like their European ancestors is the famed Tulip Time Festival. When I heard about the Festival (and it only being 4 hours away from St. Louis) I knew I had to go and I'm so glad I did!
As we walked around this city we couldn't believe how much it actually felt like we could be in Europe. All of the buildings in the city had similar architecture to that of the Netherlands with bricks, towers, colorful shutters and of course, windmills! Pella actually has an authentic windmill that was built in Hoogmade, the Netherlands, and was de-assembled and then re-assembled in Pella in 2002. Visitors are able to take a tour and go up the windmill however we were unable to during our visit (we'll save it for next time!).
The streets were alive with dancing in wooden shoes, Dutch food trucks, beautiful Dutch clothing, presentations and parades. I honestly didn't anticipate for there to be as many people at this small festival, but it turns out Pella usually has around 150,000 visitors for the Tulip Time Festival each year. It made it fun and exciting to be around so many people who were interested in learning about and celebrating a different culture.
Pella is a destination I fully plan to visit again with my family. It offers something fun and unique to a large audience and it's great for a quick weekend getaway. This town also has local wineries and a lake for even more activities outside of the Festival. If you're interested in visiting the next Tulip Time Festival in Pella then mark your calendar for the first weekend of May in 2019 - we'll see you there!
To book your Tulip Time Festival vacation contact the staff at Brentwood Travel today! Call us at 314-439-5700!
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.
Brentwood Travel clients Bob and Mary Jo worked with travel consultant Ashley Curry and traveled with Globus Tours to explore several National Parks by coach, raft, and even by helicopter. We asked them to share their amazing pictures to inspire fellow travelers to plan their own journey to these treasured places.
My wife and I have been fortunate to travel extensively worldwide for the past 50 years, but we never visited a group of National Parks. We were referred by our friends after they took the 14-day "Parks & Canyons Spectacular" through Globus Tours. They booked their trip through Brentwood Travel and Ashley and highly recommended all three.
We and a couple we have traveled with for years were delighted with all aspects of the tour. It satisfied several bucket list items: Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful and Grand Canyon.
The wildlife in Yellowstone was fantastic. We even saw a black bear mother and her cubs, one of which climbed a tree. The Grand Tetons were the most spectacular range. We toured the Grand Canyon by helicopter and took a float trip down the Snake River.
But the surprising highlight of the tour was a walk through Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ. The views and vistas created by the light seeping into the canyon were spectacular.
Our accommodations, food and coach were first class, as were our guide Daryl and driver John.
We highly recommend Globus, Brentwood Travel, and Ashley.
Start your National Parks adventure by emailing Ashley or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 127.
The Robbins family recently sailed on Celebrity Equinox to celebrate their son's college graduation, after booking their trip at the 27th Annual Cruise Expo. Their itinerary included stops in Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire and Grand Cayman. Each island had incredible crystal clear waters, powder-like sand and oh-so flavorful frozen cocktails! Sailing on Celebrity Equinox did not disappoint. "The ship was lovely. It was in perfect condition and had great customer service. Not to mention the food was on a 5-star level" stated Pam Robbins.
Robbins also noted "the last minute follow thru from Stacey was perfect. I loved the extra touches she put into our vacation that I know we'd only get when booking with a travel agent."
The Caribbean is waiting for you!
Contact Stacey via email or call her at 314-439-5700 ext. 128
to book your stateroom.
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.
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Aulani…Aulani simply saying the name which in Hawaiian means “the place that speaks for the great ones” or “messenger of a chief”; it makes me want to go back. The resort is located on the island of O’ahu and only twenty-five minutes from Honolulu International Airport.
When you enter the property it is lush with beautiful trees. The friendly Aloha spirit is felt the minute you step out of your car. Women and men are given beautiful Lei. Children have their own welcoming gift of a Menehune necklace (Menehune are shy mischievous people of Hawaiian Islands that are gifted and magical).
What really opens your eyes and makes you say “wow” is the lobby. It is a tall entry way with Polynesian style of architecture. Your eyes look at the pictures telling a story of the people and the land. Then you are drawn to the ocean in the distance while looking at the Waikolohe Valley (the name of the recreation area) in the foreground.
The resort has 351 guest rooms including 16 suites and 481 multi-bedroom suites. My family and I stayed in an Island Garden View with two queen-size beds. We had a beautiful view of the garden, mountains and a partial view of the ocean. The resort is large, but it is easy to navigate. Every evening the daily ‘IWA (schedule) is available for the next day. It lists activities for the ‘Ohana (family), Keiki (children) and ‘Opio (youth 13-17years old).
We started our morning with a 6:30am stretch class by the ocean. It was a perfect way to start the day and the classes change each day. We had breakfast at ‘Ama’Ama which is an oceanfront restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was fantastic! It is one of two restaurants on property that reservations are highly recommended. The other restaurant is called Makahiki named after the annual Hawaiian festival celebrating the season of bounty. The service is buffet style and they are opened for breakfast with Disney characters and dinner.
The ‘Olelo Room a lounge open for bar fare in the evening. I thought the concept for the lounge was brilliant. Everything has a word on it. For example the word ‘Noho’ was written on the top of the chairs; since it is the Hawaiian word for ‘chair’. The whole lounge is meant to be interactive for the guests to speak with the cast and to learn about the Hawaiian language and culture.
Truly the greatest kids club is the wonderful Aunty’s Beach House. Throughout the day they have activities for children. Some require sign up because space is limited. You can arrange to have your children eat lunch or dinner based on availability and for an additional fee. Aunty’s Beach House has something for every child's interest. Plenty of rooms with different crafts, a movie room that looks dark and stormy so you want to sit and watch the movie, and a big jungle gym in the backyard to run around.
There is even more to do in the Waikolohe Valley. There are two water slides, one of them is called Tubestone Curl. It empties out into the lazy river so you can relax and let the river move you. The resort also has three pools. One is an infinitely pool that looks out to the stunning ocean. If you swim underwater you can hear whale sounds. There is a larger pool where they do activities as well as an adult only pool. Another unique aspect of the resort is the Rainbow Reef. This is a live reef with incredible aquatic life. The cast makes sure it is kept pristine and have you follow special guidelines when entering.
The beach is wonderful, complimentary boogie boards and snorkels are available. Since it is a lagoon it is easy for young children to play in the water. Paddleboards are available for an additional fee. I have been wanting to paddleboard for awhile and it was fantastic! Quite the workout. The lagoon is shared with the neighboring Four Seasons Resort O’ahu at Ko Olina. The Luau called KA WA’A is definitely a must see. It is right on property and as of now performed twice a week. They offer pre-show activities and the buffet highlights Hawaiian cuisine.
The Laniwai Spa is stunning. It is the only spa on O’ahu to offer Kula Wai an outdoor hydrotherapy garden. This is another example of bringing Hawaiian rituals and beliefs into the setting. The signature treatment is the traditional Hawaiian Lomilomi. This massage technique is passed down from generation to generation. The Laniwai offers many different spa treatments. My family and I were having such a wonderful time at the resort, we only left one night for dinner to a restaurant across the street at Ko’Olina Station.
I really enjoyed being at Aulani for several reasons. Here are my top five:
1. The Aloha spirit of warmth and inclusion is felt the minute you arrive till you depart.
2. The Hawaiian stories and history are woven into the fabric of the resort.
3. Aunty’s Beach House was fantastic place for the children. They kept asking to go back!
4. The resort has many activities. Golf at the top rated Ko Olina Golf Club can be arranged.
5. It is a wonderful place for a family, multi-generational as well as couples to vacation.
I could go on for pages about all the fantastic activities and feel about the resort. Our
experience did exactly what we wanted which was much needed relaxation, new experiences
and fun. I look forward to our next vacation to Aulani - A Disney Resort and Spa. Next time will
explore all the wonder O’ahu has to offer.
Dana has more travel advice to share and recently completed the
Hawaii Destination Specialist Program. Contact her today to book your next trip.
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
"Stephanie and her team set up the most amazing trip to Italy for our family. Our son was studying abroad and Stephanie made sure all connections and details were covered to meet our son. All of the tours and hotels were excellent. The guides she arranged were very knowledgeable. Even with the taxis on strike in Rome for a day it was all taken care. We couldn't have asked for a better family vacation. From our family a huge thank you for going above and beyond.
You're the best.
The Bahlinger Family."
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 60 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.