“I wanted to let you know how thoroughly we enjoyed our Windstar Cruise to the Greek Islands. By the second day the crew knew us by first names. We are always looking for new places to go so I'm shocked that I say 'I would do this same trip again'. We also thoroughly enjoyed the private tour that our Travel Consultant Mickey Gaona arranged for us in Kusadasi. Ephesus was our favorite part of the trip and I know our fabulous tour guide helped to make it memorable. We plan to do another journey with Windstar Cruises very soon.
Thanks for all you do for us!”
Do you have an upcoming celebration and what a unique way to mark the occasion?
Contact Mickey at 314-439-5700 Ext. 260 or email her to start planning an amazing trip!
This past July, my family and I traveled to one of my favorite places…Negril, Jamaica! This is the 3rd visit for me (check out my review of Couples Swept Away) and the 15th time for my boyfriend Scott. The biggest change for this trip was that we brought our three kiddos along for an adventure to this magical island. During these seven days, our blended family had a chance to come together to form stronger bonds and create amazing memories.
When beginning to plan, we really wanted to find a resort that would cater to a wide range of ages and interests between the five of us. My 7-year old daughter Grace lives to swim. Scott’s 16-year son Simon was interested in doing some water sports. Scott’s other son Oliver was going to celebrate turning 10 and wanted a unique experience to mark the occasion. And Scott and I wanted a place where we could have some time together but knew that the kiddos would be safe. Luckily we had stayed at the all-inclusive Hotel Riu Palace Tropical Bay in the past and it was the perfect choice for our diverse needs.
We booked our trip through Apple Vacations which included a charter flight from St. Louis to Montego Bay. Early on Saturday, July 7th we boarded our plan for a direct flight and landed around 12:30pm. We also made the very smart choice of selecting Club Mobay. This is a fast track service and is something we highly recommend whether traveling with your family or just as a couple. We were greeted by a representative with a warm smile and began out next steps through immigration and customs. At one point a very important customs form was torn and luckily for us, our representative caught it in advance. She completed a new one for us before we even got in line. If not for her, our form would not have been accepted and it could have caused a great delay.
Our next step was to board a bus and begin our journey to Negril which is located about 1.5 hours away from the airport. Along the way, I enjoyed watching Grace get her first taste of the scenery as it passed by our window. I could tell each time she saw the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea, her eyes would light up. She was ready to experience all that Jamaica had to offer!
At our resort, we were upgraded to a Junior Suite Oceanfront Connection room. This gave us the option of two rooms that shared a hall way which was a perfect option for us. It gave Scott and I a place to ourselves while our kiddos had their own room with a seperate bathroom (a MUST for a beach vacation). Once we unpacked and got settled in, the ocean was calling our name for an evening of playing in the waves.
The next few days we were able to check off a lot of To Do items from our list. For Grace, that included getting her daily fruit punch from the swim up bar which made her feel very VIP! She also enjoyed all the extra attention she received from the staff, especially an afternoon of making beaded bracelets under the shade of a palm tree.
Simon enjoyed a morning of snorkling along the reef. This optional excursion included a ride on a beautiful catamaran and the opporutnity of diving in two different areas. One spot even had a anchor and cannon from a pirate ship to explore! And for more adventure on the water Scott, Simon, and Grace took out kayaks which were complimentary at the resort for some sightseeing along the bay.
Oliver got his wish of something truly unique with a glass bottom boat ride. We were instructed in advance to bring along bread and bananas to feed the fish which quickly became a food frenzy! He also enjoyed living the life with loungers located directly in the pool. These were the perfect spot to watch the daily pool activities which included everything from games, to dance competitions, and even an amazing synchronize swimming performance!
For Scott and I, it was all about being with the kiddos and having time to relax and really enjoy the moments. Food options were plentiful and easy with the buffets that were available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After the kiddos had a full meal and safely in their room, Scott and I took time to enjoy the specialty restaurants located at the resort. The Italian themed restaurant was cute and served delicious lasagna while the Steak House had a beautiful view and my filet was cooked perfectly! After dinner, we would usually find ourselves in the martini bar to try some new cocktails or take in one of the evening shows such as the beach party complete with fire dancers.
The Hotel Riu Palace Tropical Bay is truly a beautiful property. The decor is bright and colorful and I love the view out the open air lobby straight towards the ocean. Beach access is easy and we always found plenty of lounge chairs and tables for our gear. The resort is centrally located along Bloody Bay (named after a particularly fierce pirate battle) and offers amazing vantage points to soak in the views, especially the picturesque sunsets!
Ready to take a great beach vacation with your family?
Contact one of our experienced Travel Consultants to get started!
Staff Spotlight: Mount Rushmore
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 Ann Fendelman just returned from a 7-Day Western Caribbean journey with Celebrity Cruises. They came back with fantastic memories, rave reviews, and an engagement!
‘Thank you, Ann, for helping us book this wonderful trip. We had a great time. We got to see many cool places. The cruise ship was great and all of the employees were amazing. The food and the shows were awesome. We will recommend Ann to our family and friends for their next trips. Thank you!’
-Darcy and David
Martie is a new client for Brentwood Travel but a very experienced traveler with over 20 countries under her travel belt. For her next adventure, she was curious to explore river cruising and visited the Brentwood Travel’s Cruise Expo this past January. During her time at the show and meeting with General Manager Susan Hakenjos, she learned that a Viking River Cruise would be a perfect choice.
Martie and her friend Denise embarked on their 15-day journey from Amsterdam to Budapest this past May.
Their journey started with a three-night stay in Amsterdam which Martie highly recommends to give travelers time to adjust to their new location. Their hotel was perfectly located in the city center where she enjoyed visits to the Vincent Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. Martie and Denise also took a canal tour and visited The Anne Frank House. At the end of the fourth day, they took a quick taxi ride to their boat.
“From the moment we stepped out of the taxi and arrived at our boat, the staff was there to assist in anyway. The crew was ready to help and always pleasant. And this level of excellence service was consistent during the entire voyage."
Martie and Denise choose a balcony suite with two twin beds and felt it was plenty of space. She really appreciated that their room was cleaned three times a day and fresh water was replenished daily. “The boat was beautiful and clean. You just felt you were in luxury.”
The itinerary was well organized and active, and she took part in 12 included excursions that were lead by local guides. When they would arrive back at the boat, the crew would have a list of extra excursions that would be available the following day. An avid art lover and a docent for the St. Louis Art Museum, Martie decided to take part in an excursion about Art and War. Martie recalls “The tour was fascinating and included a tour of a bunker under the city walls."
Martie also had rave things to say about their Program Director David. “David would give a talk every evening about the events for the next day and what we should expect. He had just an amazing attention to every detail.”
In addition to wonderful excursions and amenities on the boat, Martie enjoyed the entertainment that was brought onboard. A piano player was often featured in the afternoon and an accordion player would perform different styles of music including waltz, classical, and contemporary selections. And guest lecturers would also cover a wide range of topics.
In Wurzburg, a glass blower came onboard and Martie couldn’t resist buying a very unique gift. “My daughter loves oil and vinegar on her salads. He had created a bottle which holds both but keeps them separate when pouring. It's like magic!”
Dining on the boat was another highlight for Martie. She enjoyed the free, open seating and the three dining options which included the bar, inside/outside deck, and formal restaurant. There were plenty of food selections to choose and she would often customized her menu between the free choice and fixed menus. “The chef was interactive and joined us several evenings before dinner to discuss the regional aspects of our meal.”
Martie was also a big fan of one of her waiters, Jackson. “He was always there to start my day and quickly learned that I enjoy a cold glass of tomato juice first thing in the morning.”
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 64 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.