It’s been a busy November. You may have noticed that I’ve been all over the map, literally. We’ve been to London, Mauritius and Antigua. Tomorrow we’re off to Charleston. If all these obnoxious photos of me floating around in turquoise waters are giving you the travel bug, Mrs. O Around the World has just what you need.
Her blog is turning two, yes, she has conquered the world in just two years, and still I love her. To thank all of her loyal readers, and mine, she is doing some spectacular giveaways. I’m telling you, spectacular. Think stays at sublime hotels in Spain, Portugal, London, Beverly Hills. Also, a session with Flytographer, they capture your vacation Life Magazine style in cities all over the world. Really. So you need to head over to her blog HERE and enter. The contest is open until November 28, which just happens to be Mr. LTM’s birthday, maybe we’ll win.
Katie headed to St. Barths, an island that is at the top of my “must get to” list. She is the eternal honeymooner and scouts the globe for the most glam locales for relaxation and romance. And like any woman who’s actually been married a while, she left her husband home on this one. Oh how I love her. And how I now want to go to St. Barths.
The gorgeous Nadine is busy planning her wedding which we are all so very excited about. But before it got crazy she checked out the new villas at the Grand Floridian in Disneyworld. Evan this glamour girl fell under the Disney spell. Trust me, we get it.
Keaton and I reviewed Le Prince Maurice in Mauritius, it’s ok, I had to get out a map too, it’s in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa.
We overnighted at the slick new Apartments by the Sloane Club in London, review coming soon.
I just returned from Tennis Week at Curtain Bluff in Antigua. I’ve never had a tennis program that involves drinking champagne with the pros. I highly recommend it.
I’m trying to stay home for the month of December and just enjoy hot cocoa and tree trimming with my children. We’ll see if I can stay put, Mr. LTM doesn’t have high hopes.
Keaton recently had the chance to review Le Prince Maurice, a Constance Hotel in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
I say Keaton, because though I was to carry his bags, it was his stamp of approval they were seeking. While researching this five star tropical get away I came across phrases such as: “Experience the ultimate romantic hideaway, where stunning architectural design meets relaxed luxury.”
Were children really welcome?
Or were they tolerated as long as they didn’t mess up anyone’s romance in the middle of paradise?
Keaton gamely skipped school and flew from New York-to London-to Mauritius. What a sport right?
The reviews were right about it being idyllic, but they missed the part where children aren’t just welcomed, they are completely adored.
The Kids’ Club is branded for Le Petits Princes (totally not making that up). It is open all day, is free, and you drop them off whenever you want for as long as you want. My children have never liked kids’ clubs, I couldn’t even get them to go to the one on the Disney Cruise ship. Keaton wanted to go to this one EVERY day. Why? Because he was treated like a little king there.
It is said that the Mauritians are warm. That is an understatement. There is a gentleness of spirit and kindness that is never contrived. Initially Keaton wanted nothing to do with Kid’s Club, after spending a day with Corine I couldn’t get him to leave. Is it any wonder? She took him water skiing, and would wait on the beach with a towel to snuggle him up in.
When he wanted to tool around in the pedal boat, Corine gamely hopped on.
An afternoon of glass bottom boat riding? But of course. And she fed him fresh fruit from skewers while pointing out Dorie below.
Seriously, I can’t compete.
But it wasn’t just the Kids’ Club personnel who welcomed him with open arms, it was every staff member from the General Manager to the housekeeper. Very few people knew we were there to do a review. Also, they didn’t expect tips. Do I sound jaded? There was truly nothing beyond the pale that this child could ask for.
Sushi grade tuna for “his” stay cat:
Endless drinks at the swim up bar:
He even accompanied me to the spa. He was hungry, so they ordered Nutella crepes for him (natch). Then applauded his sugar high induced gymnastics routine:
He was welcome at dinner at the floating Barachois, in the Wine Cellar and for Shabu Shabu. Children’s food was always offered and a pashmina was wrapped around his shoulders when he was cold or tired.
Childrens’ activities include:
Waterskiing (they teach them in the most amazing way-on a flexible board with a gentle pull from the sandy beach in to bath temperature warm water)
Glass Bottom Boat rides
Golf Putting Range
Kids’ Spa Packages
But really, any activity can include children. Although he was not allowed to saber the champagne bottle. He asked.
We took a little field trip to the local market in search of carved dodo birds. All of the vendors were also incredibly sweet to him, offering him lychees, coconut water and the chance to hold dried octopus. This market was unlike any I had ever been to. They sold the same fresh produce, linens, spices and random goods, but no one was aggressive in any way. I left convinced that if I had lost Keaton I would certainly find him spread out on some lovely lady’s sequined fabric while she fanned him to sleep.
I’m not often completely surprised by a hotel. The warm embrace we’ve received at Le Prince Maurice has really caught me off guard in the most fabulous way. Keaton gives it two thumbs way up. Any family looking for an exotic locale with perfect weather where they can feel completely safe with their children could not go wrong here.
Keaton and I are on assignment to make a video for Constance Hotels about the family experience here. Spoiler alert. It’s going to be full of fabulosity. Constance Hotels is hosting us, Air Mauritius flew us here, and we are being compensated for our work. But as I’ve said before, all travel is free to Keaton and his opinion cannot be bought.
How many times have you meant to send a nice thank you note?
You had a lovely stay, a lovely dinner, a lovely time, and then a few weeks have passed you’ve been on the road, never sent a note, and now you feel like a schmuck.
An e-mail thank you is just not classy enough. Really, it’s not. If there had been technology then, Emily Post would have invented BOND gifts.
Recently I received a lovely note from my friend Andy, it was on thick creamy card stock, the sentiment beautifully hand written, even my address. I thought, “what a renaissance man, I am so impressed.” At the tail end of his missive he wrote, “I sent this from my phone.”
Say what? Handwritten notes from your phone?
How it works:
- BOND is an app, you download it to your phone, easy peezy.
- Shop from the app for incredibly tasteful gifts, or just send a note (use the code LTMNOTE and try it out right now, this code will give you unlimited free notes, you’re welcome). If you’ve never app shopped, I apologize in advance for your future addiction. I bought all of my chandeliers for our summer home from a flash sale app while I was sitting in carpool line.
- Send a gift with a handwritten note, or just send a note. Did I mention the notes have waxed seals?
Win a $100 BOND credit in my swell little giveaway.
You can enter more than once:
Comment below on a time that you wish you had sent a thank you note, but didn’t
Like BOND on Facebook (include link in separate comment for entry credit)
Follow BOND on Twitter (include link in separate comment for entry credit)
Just in case you are wondering (because I was), they do not have a basement full of undocumented workers with excellent penmanship crafting notes, it’s a robot. I know, right?
Check it out:
Download the app HERE and make Emily Post proud.
Winner will be chosen by random.org on Wednesday November 6 at 9:00am ET
I was not compensated for this post, in the words of Will McAvoy, “I’m on a mission to civilize.” I think this app is right up there with the invention of bacon flavored doughnuts and want to spread the word.
The ladies of the Luxury Travel Blog Network have been busy this fall. They truly do fabulous research that make traveling in high style easier. I love the piece by Mrs O Around the World reviewing British Airway’s new A380. First of all, the plane is double decker! Having grown up watching Airplane movies, I was really shocked the first time I flew (not until my 20′s) and there were no lounges with crystal ashtrays or spiral staircases on planes. What a letdown. Ana gives us the inside scoop on the new A380 that BA is bringing in to service on its red carpet route from LA to London. I am flying BA to London in a few weeks and very sad that I will still not get to see a double decker plane (not the real term, but I like it, and I don’t care what the real term is)
I am still disappointed that flying is not like this:
Image from Charles Phoenix, humorist, showman, author and ambassador of Americana. Link to his site on photo.
This is the real plane, it looks nice and all, but if only it had some groovy flight attendants and velour seats.
Katie Goldstein checked out the new villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian. Um, hello, can you say full kitchens and luxury amenities? I think I have likely stayed at every hotel on Disney grounds except the Grand Floridian. Her review makes me want to book a villa stat. Plenty of space for the whole family, true luxury amenities, and did I mention a FULL kitchen?
The adorable Nadine Jolie is busy planning her wedding and has perfected the art of cleaning her engagement ring. She is so cute, I don’t think I’ve cleaned my rings in years and my engagement ring is in the safe. Looking forward to seeing all of her photos, we are all so excited for her.
My October has also been quite busy. I checked out the sporting life at Casa de Campo, did a three island tour of Hawaii visiting the Four Seasons in Haualali and in Maui and Disney’s Aulani. I even managed to fit in an overnight at Ocean House with Mr. LTM. Next month I’m taking little Keaton all the way to Mauritius to do a video review Le Prince Maurice, trying out the tennis at Curtain Bluff in Antigua and then spending the holidays at Summer Boobie Cottage.
Yes, I am tired and keeping Starbucks in business, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. See you next month for the Luxury Travel Blog Network Round Up.
You might expect a very “over Disneyfied” experience at the Aulani Resort in Hawaii: mouse hats at every turn, Mickey themed surfboards and cartoon art on the walls. You will be surprised at what a restrained and dignified presence Disney’s Aulani is on the Ko Olina coast. The entrance doesn’t shout itself with a neon Goofy, but rather whispers with flickering tree lanterns. The only Mickey in the guest rooms is a darling wooden lamp of my favorite mouse playing the Ukelele. Yet in true Disney style, everything is manicured perfection. At one point during our visit I was tempted to ask them to turn down the wind, then I remembered that Disney doesn’t control the weather, yet.
Here is a quick photographic tour of our stay last week. They recently expanded the resort to offer even more water attractions and restaurants. Pearl Harbor is a quick 30 minute drive from the property, Aulani is a must stay if you visit Oahu.
The Beach and Pool
Perhaps the biggest surprise at Aulani is the Laniwai spa. Laniwai could hold its own against any five star spa at any luxury resort in the world. Trust me. I know spas. Everything about it is a first class experience. The tranquil pool waiting area outside features a variety of tropical showers, cold pool plunges, hot tubs and lounge chairs under lit trees. Magical indeed.
We got lucky on our way to the beach and ran in to two of our old friends. We waited in line for all of three minutes for these photos. No Disney visit would be complete without a little Mickey (I do love him so). Hawaii Mickey is very hip and did a little “pound it” with Wilson. Like all Disney vacations, you can get a PhotoPass and print your souvenir pictures.
Wilson and I were the guests of Disney’s Aulani Resort for review purposes, my spa treatment was part of our package. I paid for the paddle board rental, the Mickey photos and all of the Disney presents that Wilson insisted his siblings needed.
Oh, I used to smugly mock the moms who gave their kids cell phones. I’ve gone to the dark side, read on, enter the giveaway, join me here, it’s nice.
Five Good Reasons to Give Your Child a Cell Phone-and an Android Phone Giveaway
Emergencies. Last spring my daughter’s high school was on lock down just weeks after the Newtown shooting. I didn’t hear about it on the news, my daughter texted me from under her desk. We were able to reassure each other until the ordeal ended. If she never had a cell phone for any other reason, that one day was reason enough.
Schedule changes and pick up plans. I can’t be the only one who has forgotten my child on a field some where, isn’t it lovely that they can call you vs. the police for child abandonment?
Spying on the babysitter. Especially if it’s a sibling.
Texts are to them what note passing was to us. We can all roll our eyes at “kids texting these days”. Didn’t you ever pass notes all day in school with your best friend? I have a box of them somewhere, we even had a fancy way of folding them so we could make the hand off covert.
The camera phone lets you see the world through their eyes. My son Wilson and I just returned from Hawaii where I let him try out the new Kyocera Hydro Elite Waterproof phone. Luckily it hasn’t hit water yet, and I don’t think it would survive a saltwater dunk. But the dreaded toilet dunk? It can handle. Dropped in the snow? That too. Wilson did drop the phone repeatedly on the ground and it was just fine. These are a few of the shots he took himself using the Kyocera.
Win an Android Powered Smartphone from Verizon Wireless.
This phone has unlimited talk and text, you choose your data plan and there is NO annual contract. The PERFECT phone to give a child.
How to enter:
Comment below, tell me about a time you wish your child had a phone. The winner will be drawn randomly on Friday, October 25th at 8:00am EDT.
As a Verizon Lifestyle Blogger it is my job to pawn phones off on my children so they can figure out how they work and report back to you, the Kyocera and the Unlimited phone were provided to me at no cost. I am not compensated for my opinion.
Long before I was Luxury Travel Mom, I started the 10 Year Old Birthday Trip tradition.
In a stroke of brilliance I decided that if I was taking a child on their once in a lifetime excursion, I wasn’t just doing it for me, I was being a great mom.
What started out as a boondoggle (if I’m being honest), has turned in to something more meaningful than I ever anticipated. I wish I could say I had consulted child psychologists and Harvard admissions counselors, but 10 was dumb luck and it’s been perfect.
Why ten is a great age
- They are young enough to take out of school without ruining their pre-college GPA.
- They still think you know everything.
- They are old enough to remember it forever.
So now, each of my children gets to go wherever they want when they turn ten. Yes, I am accepting adoption applications.
How to take them out of school
- Tell the school, don’t ask. This is educational and no it can’t be done during break.
- Actually make it educational (JJ’s trip to Rwanda is likely what got him IN to his private school, they made him an offer during his interview).
- Take their work with you and carve an hour out of every day to do it so they don’t fall behind.
My best advice
- Record every moment, video, photo, have them keep a diary.
- Don’t feel guilty. Your other children and spouse will survive, despite what they say.
- Plan, plan, plan. Include your child in the planning.
Wilson in Hawaii
Wilson chose Hawaii, but I fell in love.
We have communed with green sea turtles (the oldest creature on earth), swam with dolphins in the open sea, helicoptered over a volcano and waterfalls, and still have surfing lessons and Pearl Harbor waiting for us.
Our first day on the Big Island Wilson said “Mom, isn’t it great how we make each other’s dreams come true?”
While writing a story about bucket list travel I remembered how as a little girl I would call Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays and ask them to send me brochures. My parents couldn’t even afford to send me to the public swimming pool on Wednesdays, but I dreamed of Hawaii and squirreled away pamphlets under my canopy bed.
When we arrived at the Four Seasons in Haulalai and they put a lei around my neck, I found myself in tears. I hadn’t realized how much this trip meant to me too, but I think Wilson did.
Macie in Paris
On our first day in Paris, Macie said “Mom, the food is so much better here, and the shoes are cuter.” I have never been more proud. Really, we could have flown home right then, my job was done.
Her voice will never sound like this again, she doesn’t call me “mommy” anymore and neither of us will ever forget the day we spent at La Fete des Tuilieries (a summer carnival, but fabulously Parisian).
JJ in Rwanda
Very few people have had the opportunity that JJ did when we visited Rwanda. First of all, he went to Rwanda, which is perfectly safe by the way. Ask him, he can explain their benevolent dictatorship form of government to you. He visited Partners in Health hospitals, learned to diagnose malaria, met the children we sponsor through World Vision, shopped in a local market and took a safari tour through the Akagera Game Park.
Shortly after this photo was taken, one of the baboons (likely the shifty looking one in the back) climbed IN to our car to steal my gluten free cereal. He climbed OVER JJ on his way in, and then back out. JJ had his best cocktail party story at 10.
So where does Keaton, whose life is pretty much one big bucket list trip, want to go when he turns ten?
Space, of course. No sibling rivalry there. So watch your back Lance Bass.
Wilson and I are being hosted by the Four Seasons as I am writing a story for their magazine about educational Hawaii. None of our other trips were in any way sponsored, unless you count Jeff Evans, and he does.
As a Verizon Lifestyle blogger I receive products for review. Those who know me know I might be the least technical person in the world. For this reason I outsource these reviews to my experts. Also known as my children.
This review of the new Droid Ultra is from my 13 year old son. He is smarter than I am, really.
JJ’s Review-In His Own Words:
Google is a driving force for innovation in the realm of technology. They have created devices such as Google Glass and the Google self driving car. However, not many people think about their amazing affordable devices. The Droid Ultra provides a variety of features, 2GB of RAM, 166GB (um correction, JJ says it’s 16 and he’s horrified I didn’t know the difference) of storage and a 1280X720 screen.
The Droid Ultra is not like other phones, it runs on Google’s custom operating system Jelly Bean 4.2.2. It has a lot of cool features like zap, which is a way of beaming information to other Droid users. You can keep widgets open on your home screen so you don’t have to completely unlock your phone to do things like read your texts. When the phone reaches like 14% of battery it goes in to a power saving mode. It also boasts a price tag of $100 compared to the iPhone 5s at $300.
Additionally, the Droid has facial recognition unlocking, Google calendar and it syncs to Google Drive. Not only that, but if you lose your phone and it’s on silent you can go to your computer, log in to the Google account synched to your phone, unlock it and change it from silent to max volume. Or if it’s really, really lost you can remotely find it, lock it, and wipe it clean.
I still don’t understand why Google hasn’t taken over the world yet. There is a typing feature I can’t explain to my mom, it involves dragging your fingers to type rather than picking them up. Jellybean 4.2.2 also comes equipped with an app called Quick Office. This app allows you to create Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and Word documents and it works with Google drive. Audible, Amazon and Amazon Kindle also come with this phone. I have all of my Google hangouts on this phone, you don’t even need Skype.
Apple products may look beautiful, but Google phones are more powerful, cheaper and more advanced.
If you still use an Apple phone after reading this, good luck.
JJ gets to keep the Droid in return for reviewing, also, I still don’t understand Google Drive or Google Docs, but it is clear that they are the future and I might have to ditch my iPhone and learn them. The Droid was sent to me at no charge for review purposes, neither JJ or I were compensated for our review.
If you’re not familiar with the New Victory Theater, you really need to check it out. They are right next door to the Spider Man show on 42nd street, tickets are a fraction of the price and the performances are heads and shoulders above silly Spidey.
We have reviewed several of their shows, this weekend we saw Peter Pan which is visiting from Australia where it played to rave reviews. Of all the shows Keaton has seen, this is by far his favorite. It even made his weekend news for school.
Keaton thinks it might be too scary for babies because Captain Hook gets eaten, I would disagree. The show really appeals to all ages, especially moms. The lost boys make Wendy their mom and all anyone wants is to get tucked in to bed at night. The show was engaging for everyone from 2 to 82 and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Keaton and I were the guests of the New Victory Theater for review purposes. I bought Macie’s ticket for a whopping $38 because once she saw the trailer video, she wanted to join us. Even a jaded 15 year old girl loved the show. So how’s that for an endorsement?