One of the most magnificent destinations in the world is Alaska. The ice-capped mountains, crystal-clear waters, scenic forests and those oh-so-adorable sled dogs - it's a spot that should be on everyone's "bucket list". Many of our staff members have conquered its vast terrains and they invite you to attend "On Stage Alaska" presented by Holland America Line and Brentwood Travel on Wednesday, September 27th at 7:00 PM. This once a year performance will feature our staff members, Alaskan locals, and Holland America Line representatives to show you why your next trip should be Alaska. Read our staff's testimonials below to get a sneak-peek of what you'll learn at "On Stage Alaska".
Seating at Creve Coeur Community Center is free but limited! To reserve your spot, email us or call 314-439-5700 ext. 110. To find out more about "On Stage Alaska" click here.
"Cathy Robinson put together a FABULOUS Alaskan experience for Elaine and me (Bruce).
We did the 11 day Alaskan tour, with four days on land and a seven day Inland Passage cruise on the Coral Princess. Upon arrival in Fairbanks, we were greeted by Princess staff and received our welcome packet. We were surprised by the “Meet Me Onboard” request to send a suitcase ahead to the ship. We did NOT pack a separate bag for this, so we spent a lot of time ‘repacking’ one of our suitcases. That was a minor inconvenience, as the remainder of the trip was trouble free! Our luggage was delivered to our rooms by the time we arrived at the hotels/ship.
The Discovery III riverboat cruise was the best excursion of the trip. The ship was equipped with a great sound system and video monitors, so all onboard could see and hear all narration. There were fascinating bits of information. Iditarod training camp and fishing village info was easy to hear and see. We really enjoyed that.
The Tundra Wilderness Tour was awe inspiring! The vastness of Alaska was prominently displayed and we got to see several species of wildlife – from afar. We also got to see all of Mt. Denali. We joined the 30% club of visitors that got to see the entire mountain top.
The two Princess lodges were beautiful. They were rustic looking and very accommodating. We purchased the on land food package and certainly got our money’s worth. We could order anything on the menus, with no exceptions. All the food tasted great. The bus drivers for excursions were all courteous and explained in detail what we were seeing and some history of the area. Despite the rain, the train ride to Whittier was entertaining and visually stunning.
The Coral Princess was clean and the staff was VERY friendly and again, the food was really delicious. We did purchase the ‘all beverage’ package on the ship and that worked out well. We had no questions on any drink we could order including call drinks.
There was a lot of notice of invo-virus and signs to wash hands frequently. There were Purell hand sanitizers by all restaurants, shops, elevator lobbies and stairwells. However, they were not ‘forcing’ you to sanitize before entering restaurants – especially the buffet (sanitizing was mandatory on other cruise lines we have sailed). We recommend sanitizing hands before and after dining
They brought naturalists on board to discuss what we were seeing in Glacier Bay and as we entered and cruised the Inland Waterway. They were very informative and helped all to view humpback whales, sea otters and Orca killer whales during our journey.
The shore excursion disembarkments were well coordinated. We had no delays leaving or re-entering the ship. The meeting points on shore were well marked. Bus drivers to and from the excursions were informative and very helpful with participants with disabilities, or problems getting on/off the buses.
Our three shore excursions were:
This was our first trip to Alaska and our first time on Princess Cruise Line. We will not hesitate to recommend Brentwood Travel to our friends and we will have them coordinate our next major travel event."
Start planning your Alaska adventure by emailing Cathy or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 114.
Missouri is well known as the Show Me State and we will receive quite a show on August 21, 2017. An eclipse extravaganza will cross through our state for a once in a lifetime experience.
A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely blocks the solar disk. During totality, it will get as dark as night. Missouri will experience as much as 3 hours of the partial eclipse and 2 minutes and 30 seconds of totality.
The Sun’s diameter is 400 times that of the Moon. The Sun is also about 400 times farther away. As a result, the two bodies appear almost exactly the same size in the sky. This truly remarkable coincidence is what creates a total solar eclipse.
You may experience strange things during a total solar eclipse. Shadows will look eerie and breezes may vanish. A 10°–15° F drop in temperature is not unusual. And bright stars and planets may be also be visible!
About five seconds before totality, Baily's beads will appear. They are little bead-like blobs of light at the edge of the Moon. They are created because gaps in the mountains and valleys on the Moon's surface allow sunlight to pass through in some places but not others.
A Brief History of Total Solar Eclipses
The word eclipse comes from ekleipsis, the ancient Greek word for being abandoned. Surviving records have shown that the Babylonians were able to predict solar eclipse as early as 2500 BC. The ancient Chinese were the first to document a total solar eclipse and explained their occurance as a celestial dragon devouring the sun.
The wonder of a solar eclipse lead to myths and folklore being created throughout many cultures. The Batammaliba people in Africa see each eclipse as an opportunity to end old feuds. The myth is that an eclipse is caused by fighting between the sun and the moon. When an eclipse occurs, the Batammaliba come together as a community and try to end their own fighting as a way of encouraging the sun and moon to do the same.
The last time a total solar eclipse occurred over Missouri was in 1442. The Osage people still ruled this region and Columbus had not even been born yet. The next eclipse over our area will be in 2505 which is 488 years away, making this viewing truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Protect Your Eyes During the Eclipse
A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime:
To learn more on eye safety during a total solar eclipse, click here. And be sure to follow us on Facebook on Monday, August 21 as we post live updates during The Great American Eclipse event.
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 newly announced ban on electronic devices may have a slight impact on your travel plans, but planning in advance will help you stay productive during your trip.
Here is what you need to know to navigate these new rules:
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
At the beginning of 2016, my husband and I had a severe case of "wanderlust" so we packed up a rental car and drove from St. Louis to Disneyland. We broke up the 24 hour drive by making several stops, including: Denver, Arches National Park, Las Vegas, Disneyland, San Diego, Imperial Beach, Santa Monica and Los Angeles. Neither of us had traveled past Kansas City so this was an exciting adventure for both of us (except for Kansas - that was the longest drive of my life).
DAY 1: DENVER/BOULDER, CO. One of my childhood friends lives in Denver and she took us hiking in Boulder. I’d never been a big fan of snow, but I honestly teared up as I looked over the snow-caped pine trees. As we climbed the mountain, snow was lightly falling and all you could hear was the sound of the flakes touching the ground. It was absolute serenity, and it certainly changed how I feel about snow (at least outside of Missouri).
DAY 2-3: MOAB, UT/ LAS VEGAS, NV. After conquering mountain climbing, we left Denver and headed for Arches National Park in Moab, UT and Las Vegas, NV. The scenery along this drive was absolutely breathtaking. Both of us were worried the drive would be a little boring, but our mouths were gapping open as we cut through the Rocky Mountains. The pictures just don’t do it justice.
Arches National Park was also one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen, and we were so excited to be there during the National Park's 100th Anniversary! We originally thought this would be a quick stop on the highway so we didn’t set aside much time to visit. Boy, were we wrong. I couldn’t believe all of the rock formations throughout the park. If you’ve never been, you have to go and plan (at least) an entire day to enjoy it. Also, be sure to have tons of water with you and shoes meant for hiking (not Sperry's!). There's a lot of walking and climbing involved with this destination so pack accordingly.
Next stop, Viva Las Vegas! We loved Vegas, but we were so exhausted by the time we got to our hotel at MGM Grand that we only bought one drink, walked halfway down the strip and then turned around to go to bed. What a wild night! In the morning we hit the town and had breakfast at “Mon Ami Gabi”. The food/Mimosas/Bloody Mary's were fantastic; we loved sitting on the outdoor patio under the Eiffel Tower at Paris Resort. It has a great view of the "Fountains of Bellagio" show throughout the day as it's right across the street, so be sure to grab a seat.
DAY 4-5: DISNEYLAND. We were lucky enough to be at Disneyland for the Diamond Celebration in honor of its 60th anniversary. Every last inch of the park was decorated with diamonds and blue banners. Both of us felt so star-struck as we walked down the original Main Street U.S.A. and saw Walt’s apartment above the firehouse. Not to mention we got to ride all of the original classic Disney rides, like: It's A Small World, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Dumbo and so much more. Spending two days at Disneyland was nothing short of magical (who saw that coming?). The look of pure joy on our faces the entire time was absolutely priceless.
Many people have asked me since I visited what's the difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The biggest difference is certainly the size. There's only Magic Kingdom and Disney's California Adventure, but honestly, we liked this a little more than the Florida parks. It's much more intimate because of it's size and we had the chance to actually do every last thing at both parks with time to spare (which has never happened to us on a Disney vacation). When visiting Walt Disney World, there's so much to see that it can be overwhelming. If you're a first time Disney park goer, I say start with Disneyland/California Adventure before making your way to Florida. It's a great introduction to the world of Disney vacationing!
DAY 6-7: SAN DIEGO/IMPERIAL BEACH/SANTA MONICA/LOS ANGELES, CA: On our last full day we were pleasantly surprised to find out my grandfather was in San Diego from New York! We spent the day eating lunch in San Diego and then drove down to the “Most South-Westerly City” – Imperial Beach. It was a quintessential surfer town that we fell in love with. Walking down the beach with my husband and grandfather quickly turned into one of the best days of my life.
Although I don't have pictures of this part, we drove from San Diego up to Santa Monica to visit one of our friends from high school. He showed us around the area and took us to a small brewery for gourmet burgers and craft beer. After dinner we viewed some of the most expensive houses in California and walked along the cool, Santa Monica beach at night.
Hours before our flight home the next day (there was no way we could make the drive back to St. Louis), we stopped by the infamous Hollywood sign and took a stroll down the Walk of Fame. I wish we had more time in this area to really explore, but the trip had to sadly come to an end.
Even though it’s a long drive of over 2,000 miles, I would recommend it to anyone. When you’re flying, all you care about is getting to your destination as quickly as possible – you have no idea what wonders are right beneath you. Yet when you drive, you can experience the plains, mountains, snow, deserts, cityscapes and beaches all in one trip. Start up your car and turn on the GPS – “adventure is out there”.
For more information about planning a cross-country road trip,
please email us or contact one of our agents at 314-439-5700.
Visiting one of the National Parks during the Centennial Year was on my 2016 bucket list. Not only did I achieve this goal, I checked off two parks from my list and added a lot of bonus stops along the way. There are so many ways to see the US National Parks, depending on what you want to see and how you want to travel. From a guided tour company that handles all the details and driving to a rail vacation that take you from city to city by train to a customized self-drive vacation. No matter how you personally prefer to travel, a visit to the National Parks is always a treat!
Not only are all the parks so different, but an added bonus is the low cost. If you wish to visit more than one park in a year, an annual pass is $80 and it gets a car into the park each time that you visit. It covers everyone in a standard vehicle and up to 4 people at “per person” charge sites.
I chose the custom route for my trip. My plan consisted of one round-trip flight, a rental car to take us around from there, four different hotels to stop along the way and an itinerary of sites (with room allotted for spontaneous stops). The beauty of a customized trip is that while I prefer to travel at a fast pace, my trip could have easily been modified to be more leisurely if I wanted.
My Personalized Itinerary:
I was joined on this trip by my friend Abby. We flew nonstop to Phoenix on Southwest, and from there we picked up our rental car and drove about 2 hours to our first hotel in Sedona. After a quick bite to eat, we headed to bed early to get a good night’s rest.
Thanks to the two hour time difference, I woke up to the sunrise to start my day. Because the hotel was just south of the main Sedona tourist area, it was a very scenic drive into town. We drove around to different lookouts in the area where we stopped for some light hiking. We had lunch at Oak Creek Brewery, a small restaurant and taproom where I enjoyed a flight of their beer and the best spinach salad I have ever had!
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
Serving Greater St. Louis since 1957, we specialize in cruises, all-inclusive vacations, tour packages, honeymoons, and group travel.