Travel takes you on a journey into new experiences that you would have never been exposed to if you had stayed put. It introduces you to different cultures, broadens your mind and provides a fantastic opportunity to learn so many new things. If we learned one thing during the pandemic, it is that we are never promised tomorrow and we need to make everyday count. It was incredibly hard to narrow down just a few of the many reasons we travel, but we selected those reasons that seem most important to us today.
People take celebratory trips for many different reasons. Whether for a graduation, a promotion, honeymoon, babymoon, when you travel to mark an occasion, you create unforgettable memories that are tied forever to those special moments in your life.
Traveling has the ability to take you out of your daily grind and throw you into new surroundings that can reset your body and mind. It also leads to lower cortisol levels, making you feel more calm and content.
Getting caught up in the daily grind can keep us distant from the ones we love. Taking a trip with loved ones can help us enjoy the pleasure of bonding again. Seeing different places together can bolster our relationships and spark those long lost conversations.
TOLO (They're Only Little Once)
We only have about eighteen summers with our children before they fly the coop. Creating those memories while our children are still little is not only imperative for us as parents but also for our children to carry over into their adulthood. Filling those scrapbooks full of family vacation pictures is a right of passage for our kids. We will be happy to pull those old photos out in the future when we are missing those little faces.
Whether you need to escape your job, a break up or just bad weather, travel is the best remedy when you are unhappy or feeling restless. When you travel you are exposing yourself to things you normally don't find yourself surrounded by when you are at home.
So which of these reasons resonates with you? Or is there another reason you love to travel? Regardless of the specifics we know one thing is true.......There is no life without travel!
Walt Disney World is committed to bringing new experiences to all four theme parks and beyond beginning on October 1st, 2021 for their exciting 50th anniversary. As part of Disney's celebration, The Cinderella Castle will also feature a golden bunting and a 50th anniversary crest. This is in addition to the fresh new look it got last year. We think this truly makes the castle feel majestic! Who doesn't love those pastels with some shiny gold overlay?
New permanent lighting will shine across the reflective panels of Spaceship Earth in Epcot, resembling stars in a nighttime sky. This will be ready for the 50th anniversary however it will be sticking around for good afterwards as well and will be considered a defined area of the park.
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will also be decked out in sparkling new outfits for the big celebration. Their wardrobe will be full of "EARidescent" fabric with gold highlights. Disney came up with a new word “EARidescence” to describe what Guests will see when they visit. While this is just a small portion of what to expect this exciting upcoming year, stay tuned and we will keep you informed of all of the breaking news on the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World!
To book your next Walt Disney World vacation, reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner today by clicking here!
In true Disney fashion, they have surprised us again with opening dates for 2022 much earlier than the norm. Dates for the following year are now available to book up to 499. With what 2020 and the Pandemic has brought us we are thrilled that Disney has opened 2022 for booking today! This is great news for those who are pushing off their Walt Disney World vacation till next year in hopes of many things changing.
Currently Walt Disney World looks different than before and some guests are hoping that in 2022 Disney will have a few of their favorite vacation options available again. Guests are really looking forward to the Disney Dining Plans making a come back, FastPass+ selections returning, and Fireworks just to name a few. Many guests are even holding off in hopes of masks not being mandatory. If you are waiting until 2022 what is on your wish list when you travel to the Most Magical Place on Earth?
If you would like more information on visiting Walt Disney World in 2022 please reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner by clicking here!
2/14/2021 0 Comments
My Bucket List Trip To Sedona
I have had Sedona, Arizona on my bucket list of domestic travels for half of my life for many reasons. It's red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. It’s typical mild climate (although it snowed heavily while we were there) and vibrant arts community. Although to be honest, my highest interest in Sedona would truly be their New Age shops, spas and their vortexes. What is a vortex? They are swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are specific places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people state that they feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex. For a spiritualist like myself, this is THE place to be.
We flew into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and rented a car for our journey. It is roughly a two hour drive from this airport to Sedona but it was is quite the scenic drive, in fact they even named a portion of it the Red Rock Scenic Byway. To be completely transparent, when I found out it was going to be snowing more than normal during our trip, I was slightly disappointed because I was afraid the beauty of the red rock would be covered, but the snow made it that much more angelic.
During our time in Sedona we stayed at the Arabella Hotel Sedona. We selected this quaint hotel for a number of reasons including their beautiful red rock views and their complimentary bicycle rental. The hotel is within walking/biking distance to the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. It is fashioned after a traditional Mexican village complete with cobblestone streets and stucco walls. Tlaquepaque holds over 50 specialty shops, exclusive art galleries, and fine dining. Unfortunately due to weather we were not able to visit the village but it is now on our list for our next trip.
During our time in Sedona we decided to take book a "Scenic Sedona Tour". We enjoyed driving around with our tour guide seeing all of the different areas of Sedona, and hearing all of the stories he had. Since the weather was still cold and icy we were not able to stop at many of the places we wanted to. One of the places we were not allowed to stop at that day was The Chapel of the Holy Cross, voted one of the “7 man made wonders in Arizona.” It was inspired by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The church was built in 1932 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The chapel is one of several of vortex areas I was interested in visiting but I was glad to get close enough to at least see it with my own eyes. We were able to have sometime outside at the Airport Mesa Overlook. The Overlook gives you a breathtaking view of the area and some even report seeing colorful orbs around them as they reach the vortex, which is said to bring a sense of rejuvenation and aids in creativity and inspiration. I had packed all of my crystals for this trip and laid them out on one of the rocks to charge them in this area. While I did not see any orbs I was certainly grateful for my trip out here which filled my hear with gratitude. It is hard not to feel that way when you are surrounded by so much of Mother natures beauty.
Another great place we spent some time in was Uptown Sedona. It is an area full of galleries, shops, touring companies and world-class restaurants. You can find yourself stopping in trading posts, cowboy stores, New Age shops, and enjoying the view of the red rock that is the backdrop of the area. While we were here we decided to stop in and have lunch at the Cowboy Club. This restaurant (formerly known as the Oak Creek Tavern) has been around for over seventy years. It originally opened in 1946 but during the 1950's and 60's there were over fifty western movies filmed in the area. So after a long day of shooting, big stars like John Wayne, James Stewart, Rock Hudson, and even Elvis were said to frequent the tavern. While having lunch we felt adventurous and tried the DiamondBack Rattlesnake Bites. We always like to try the local food when we travel. We can now say we tried Rattlesnake, and cross it off the list.
We also had a wonderful fine dining experience for dinner at Mariposa Sedona. Perched atop a scenic bluff, floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive outdoor patio deliver panoramic views of Sedona’s majestic red rocks from every table. They also have two dramatic glass-enclosed wine vaults that house more than 600 bottles of wine, including many South American varieties. The food is delicious, the restaurant is truly stunning and I am sure the view is spectacular during the day. Chef Lisa Dahl has five gems in Sedona that you can dine at throughout the town.
While our Sedona trip was short, it really left a lasting impression on us. We have already booked our next visit out to Sedona in the spring and we are looking forward to visiting some of the places we did not get to see this time around. What I learned during this trip was some of the places I had on that so called "Bucket List Trips" list were not really "Bucket List" at all, they are really "Places I Can't Wait To Visit Again Trips". When you say "Bucket List" it makes you feel as though it is a spot you will only get to visit once in your life and for me, Sedona is not one of those places, I know I will travel there as much as I can.
To learn more about the Sedona area or to book your next vacation, let a Starstuff Travel Planner help you today! Request information by clicking here!
While we could name way more than just five reasons you could visit Universal Orlando Resort this year, we are going to talk about the five reasons you SHOULD be visiting!
1. Volcano Bay water theme park is reopening again on February 27th after being closed for the past few months.
2. Dockside Inn and Suites, Universal Orlando's second Value property, opened it's doors on December 15th, 2020.
3. Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavor of Carnival is now running through March 28th and is included with your park admission.
4. Jurassic World Velocicoaster, Florida's fastest and tallest launch coaster, opens this summer.
5. Universal Orlando's night time Cinematic Celebration is back and better than ever.
While these are just a few suggestions as to why you should book your next vacation at Universal Orlando, we have so much more to share with our clients. So reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner today by clicking here!
With all of the ever changing guidelines of traveling out of the United States, Scottsdale, Arizona is just the right choice when you need that sun-filled vacation with endless amounts of activities for you and your family, or just need that right spot to relax and recharge with an adults only spa trip, as well as everything in between. It also helps that the Phoenix airport is a quick 15-20 minute ride from Scottsdale making it extremely convenient to get to.
Last month we visited the beautiful destination and although I had all expectations for it to be breathtaking, I really expected it to be a place that you would go for a health and wellness trip, which of course there is no lack of. I had no idea there were so many other things to keep you busy if you wanted a true adventure on your vacation.
Since we were in Scottsdale for work we spent many days touring different resorts in the area , one more beautiful than the next. There is no shortage of amazing hotels here, but there is something for each and every demographic and the resorts do differ. While I won't be touching on each property we toured in this specific blog, you can find all of our property and room tours on our YouTube channel by clicking here.
One of the areas I was most surprised at during our time here was the Old Town district of Scottsdale. By the name alone I just assumed it would cater to an old western type fan clientele. Although there is some of that left which is charming, I found myself getting way more of a Beverley Hills and West Hollywood type vibe in this area. This made me smile because we love visiting California and due to their current state of safety and health precautions we are prevented from visiting right now. From upscale shopping experiences at places that sell Rolex watches, to a wide array of awesome bars, numerous art galleries, and dining in neat historic places like the Old Town Tortilla Factory that is a southwestern restaurant built from an historic 75-year old Scottsdale adobe home you can spend nearly the whole day and evening enjoying Old Town. There are a few really awesome hotels here that make it very convenient to enjoy your time . One being the Hotel Valley Ho and it comes as no surprise that this hotel gives off that West Hollywood feel because it has a large past of celebrities that frequented the hotel. Hotel Valley Ho hosted stars like Marilyn Monroe, Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, and Zsa Zsa Gabor, among others. Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood even celebrated their wedding reception at the hotel! Another great option for the millennial crowd is the brand new Canopy by Hilton which is home to the Outrider Rooftop Lounge with some of the best views in Arizona. Here you can wonder at Cambleback Mountain and even see the Phoenician Resort from the rooftop while sipping on a craft made cocktail or having a swim in their rooftop pool.
While we were visiting Old Town, we enjoyed the Urban Historic Tour with JoyRidesAZ Scottsdale Tours which covers all 6 districts and the city's history as well as learning about many of the local hotspots. I highly recommend this tour even if your going to be staying in Old Town at a local hotel. The tour is conducted in an open air golf cart done by a husband and wife team that are extremely knowledgeable about the area. This way you get the feel for everything Old Town has to offer you while you are visiting. Your Starstuff Planner can help book this tour among many other great ones this company provides.
Another great activity we took part in was an ATV/UTV tour through the Sonoran Desert with Stellar Adventures. This company really takes pride in what they offer and we had a great time with them. There were quite a few of us older women in the group and we all felt comfortable enough to take part in this neat adventure. They really went into great detail explaining exactly what to do, what to look out for, and covered all of the safety precautions with us. After reviewing all of the procedures and doing some practice rides on our ATVs we went deep into the Tonto National Forest and drove around the desert for two hours. Our guide Chad even stopped numerous times along the way to snap our pictures so we did not have to worry about bringing a camera on our adventure. This is another activity your Starstuff Travel Planner can set up for you. Stellar Adventures can even pick you up from your hotel for an additional fee if you do not want to drive to the trail head. They also offer many other neat tours like Stargazing with Night Vision with very knowledgeable guides where you can catch a glimpse of the moon, Venus, Mars, maybe see binary stars and learn about various constellations. But the most mind-blowing part is possibly viewing planets like Saturn, including the planet's rings, and Jupiter through the guides telescope. While they do not guarantee it, it is also a possibility the deserts wildlife may make an appearance at night when the sun goes down.
With all of this running around, you bet we were excited to hit the spas (even if we did not have time to utilize them ourselves) they were still great to learn more about. One of our favorite spas from our many tours was the Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, and we are not alone, they have been recognized as one of USA Today's "10 Best" Readers Choice Top 10 Winner Best Hotel Spa. If your feeling adventurous they even have aerial hammock yoga! I have not yet tried it myself, but I have been told even the most novice of yoga fans is capable of participating in this.
We saved the best for last, our sunrise hot air balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders. This truly is a bucket list activity and it may be a bucket list activity I do again and again and again. You do need to rise and shine pretty early to take advantage of this peaceful flight, but it is well worth getting out of bed for. After a brief time in their office where you sign your waivers, they put you in a van and drive you to the location where you will watch them prepare everything before you take off. The guys are all extremely friendly, and if you have any fears or anxiety they squash them for you right away with how warm and funny they are. The balloon ride is absolutely serene and any stress you have melts away for the moment while you just marvel in how beautiful the world actually is. After you land you get to enjoy a champagne toast before heading back to their office where they present you with a flight certificate. This is definitely a "pinch yourself" activity to make sure your not dreaming.
Even though we were visiting Scottsdale for work, it left such an impression on us that we decided to go back in just two months with our own family for a true vacation. The diversity of what Scottsdale has to offer is unlike many other destinations. There is something for every single demographic. If it was not on your list of places to visit before this blog it should be on your list now. The ease of traveling here because you are not leaving the United States is also very helpful in todays world. As a travel professional we have the ability to visit pretty much anywhere we would like to but there is no where we would rather be then in Scottsdale, Arizona.
To learn more about the area or book your next vacation, reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner by clicking here.
*Thank you to Starstuff Travel Planner Nicole Miller for use of a few of her photos.
2/4/2021 0 Comments
The Hermosa Inn
Occasionally when you travel you will find yourself somewhere so inviting, so blissful, and so beautiful that it physically pains you to leave when it is time to go. For me, that was The Hermosa Inn, which is situated in the Paradise Valley section of Phoenix Arizona. This gem is a historic luxury boutique hotel that offers 43 rooms/casitas individually decorated in warm, southwestern style. Fireplaces, secluded patios and vaulted ceilings add to the relaxed appeal. But this property offers so much more than just breathtaking grounds and gorgeous casitas, there is a large amount of interesting history that goes along with it.
In 1935 cowboy artist Alonzo Megargee (better known as Lon) purchased 6 acres of land and built his studio of adobe bricks calling his home Los Arcos and later Casa Hermosa, meaning "beautiful house". Guests came from all over to visit and stay with Lon for weeks on end to experience the tranquility of desert life in nature during the day and for the parties well into the evening . Lon was known as a ladies man (being married at least 7 times) and his home was well known as a place for drinking and good times. Rumors suggest that guests used tunnels to escape the police during his late night drinking and gambling parties. These mysterious tunnels were discovered years later near the wine cellar downstairs. Today in the Wine Cellar, they offer a private candlelit dinner that seats up to 12 guests and features 1890's Chicago brick, reclaimed beams, and trusses.
In the midst of a divorce around 1941, Lon was forced to sell his home and everything inside of it (which included most of his art). Different owners throughout the years have added a pool, casitas and villas to the property. One of the many neat things at the Hermosa Inn is that you can do a self guided art walk to view all of the original pieces by the cowboy artist Lon Megargee.
This property is perfect for mother/daughter trips, small weddings, celebration travel, health and wellness retreats, and couples getaways just to name a few options. Although the property is a sprawling 6 acres it still continues to maintain that quant feeling, something like right out of a storybook fairytale.
The Hermosa Inn is home to Lon's Last Drop, one of the best places in the surrounding area to enjoy a craft cocktail or a local Arizona brew. This newly expanded bar patio features five outdoor fireplaces and an all-day menu featuring small plates, sandwiches, salads, and pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven. Their restaurant, Lon's at the Hermosa (occupying the original building), is rated one of Paradise Valley’s top restaurants, which after dining there, comes as no surprise. During chillier nights many enjoy the fire pits that are facing Camelback Mountain for sunset views with a glass of wine. The Hermosa Inn also offers a few spaces for small groups to dine privately.
In the past ten years they have also opened a spa that offers an array of different treatments to choose from. The spa is a great place for those searching for serenity and is housed in an authentic adobe casita, one of the original structures at The Hermosa Inn. The spa features antique furniture, a beehive fireplace, private bathroom and shower and patio.
With the extensive background of Lon Megargee and the art worked inside, history buffs would also delight in a stay here. Below you will find an original portion of the adobe bricks Lon used to build this property. The Inn is also visited by many celebrities and in 1995 was even featured in the movie Waiting to Exhale. Whitney Houston's character celebrates New Year's Eve in Lon's main dining room.
Although there have been a few different owners since Lon had to sell it so many years ago, the Hermosa Inn still retains the historic charm of the original hacienda built by the cowboy. You can watch a quick video of the Deluxe Casita as well as a video of a partial property tour below.
If you would like to learn more about this magnificent property, reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner by clicking here.
Thank you to Starstuff Travel Planner Nicole Miller for some of her beautiful photos. You can reach Nicole at NMiller@StarstuffTravel.com
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