They say enjoying the Mandara Spa at the breathtaking Loews Portifino Bay at Universal Orlando Resort is just the thing you need to relax after some long days at the park, but you can in fact enjoy a relaxing weekend getaway here without even knowing there are theme parks steps away. Quite frankly it was just the rest and relaxation we both needed!
A few weeks ago my daughter and myself checked into Universal Orlando's Portifino Bay resort on a Friday night after a long work day, once checked in we freshened up and got tucked into bed. We enjoyed sleeping in on Saturday morning without an alarm going off and rolled out of bed before heading to the resorts main pool, the "Beach Pool". This pool has zero-entry pool access, lifeguards on duty, and an aqueduct-themed water slide. Cabanas are also available for rent if you want to go all out. Since we planned on spending a majority of our time at the spa, we chose to lay in a regular chair.
After a nice swim and a short nap on a pool lounger, we headed over to the Mandara Spa. One of the great benefits of having a spa treatment here is you can utilize the remainder of the spa before or after your treatment on the day of your reservation. We decided to check into the spa about an hour and a half prior to our massage to do just that. At that time your spa concierge will show you around the spa, explain how to use the lockers and other amenities, and show you where to meet your masseuse when it is time for your treatment.
After relaxing in the sauna, the steamroom and doing some hydrotherapy, we headed to the lounge to meet for our couples massage. What made this different from a typical "Mother/Daughter Massage" was that if we opted for a "Couples Massage" we were able to select a longer massage time, 80 mins versus 50 mins, and we also received a hot parrafin foot mask and an essentional oil scalp massage for just a few dollars more. Since we were spoiling ourselves we went all the way!
We had an amazing experience during our massages and we really loved that the tables were heated. I will not bore you with all of the details on how wonderful an 80 minute full body massage is, but I am sure you can imagine! When we were all finished, they offered me a glass of wine or champagne and my daughter a juice.
After we made our way back to the lounge we decided to shower and get ready for our fine dining experience we had later that evening at BiCE Ristorante Orlando. Mandara Spa is equipt with everything you need to get ready for a night out. We usually bring a fresh change of clothing and any toiletries we will want to use. The spa offers hairdryers, disposal brushes, makeup applicators, etc. This is typical of most spas.
Another awesome benefit of having a treatment booked at the spa was being able to utilize the spa and the showers on our hotel check out day. Our spa concierge advised that since we were checking out of the hotel late in the day on Sunday, we could come back to the spa and freshen up with a shower before we headed back to the airport. This came in super helpful because we spent a few hours at the pool after we checked out of the hotel and then also spent a few hours at the parks before we headed home. Being able to shower and put clean clothes on before getting on the airplane after a hot day was a true gift.
This was a quick weekend but it was one of the most relaxing weekends I have had in years. There is no reason you can't head down to do the same with your daughter, mother, or friends....Hey, why not even by yourself for pure relaxation??!! If you already have a Universal Orlando Vacation booked, I highly recommend you add a day at the spa while your there. You will not be disappointed, I promise!
If you would like to find out more about the Mandara Spa in Orlando reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner today!
Smack dab in the middle of all the skyscrapers, the hustle and bustle of the crowds, the shopping, dining and all of the entertainment is one of the worlds most well known tropical resorts, the brand new Margaritaville Resort Times Square. I am so excited to tell you all about our recent trip out to visit this fabulous new resort.
From your first few steps into the resort and coming face to face with the giant blue flip flop, you can feel the vacation mode kick in instantly. It is really strange (in a good way) to be out in the middle of the city and then to walk through the double doors into a tropical oasis. After taking our first few steps inside, we were greeted by the most knowledgeable bell hop I have ever come into contact with. By the time he took our bags and we were in the elevator he had told us almost everything there was to know about the resort, including all the restaurants, the bars, and the pool. He brought us up to the main lobby, which is on the 7th floor, to check into our room. I thought we just got lucky with how friendly the bell hop was, but it did not stop there. Every single person in this resort is genuinely happy to see you and you can feel it. The staff treat you as a VIP, and we did not encounter anyone without a huge smile wanting to make our day better.
As with any hotel in New York City, space is limited, so they have to utilize every inch they can. Margaritaville does this but goes above and beyond with their space, making sure each ounce immerses you in that vacation vibe. In the lobby there is some beautiful seating areas continuing with that Caribbean theming, along with an indoor lobby bar, an outdoor bar with views of Times Square along with stunning views of their rooftop pool just a floor below.
Speaking of rooftop pool, it is a beauty. The pool is directly off of the Landshark Bar & Grill Restaurant and we are being told it will be open all year long for those of you crazy enough to enjoy it! They will have waitstaff out there to take your food and beverage orders or you can dine right inside the Landshark. The neat thing about this specific area is the Landshark has a wall of floor to ceiling glass windows that open up to the pool so you really feel like your on island time BUT you are surrounded by the tall buildings of the city, there is something oddly beautiful about it. While we were enjoying our lunch at Landshark they had a stilt performer dressed as a lifeguard which was really cute.
As with any Margaritaville Resort, they have their flagship restaurant Margaritaville, except this one has to be my favorite one yet. It is two stories and has a giant Statue of Liberty in the middle of it holding nothing other than a margarita glass! Every so often they have a really neat light show with music where the margarita glass showcases dolphins and fish swimming around it and even some fireworks. While we had dinner here, the stilt performer walked around getting everyone to stand on their chairs to dance and sing along during the light show to really make it feel like a party. This was not just a great time for the kids, but also for the parents. We all know it is hard to make sure everyone has fun at the same time!
It’s always 5 o’Clock in Margaritaville! Located on the 31st and 32nd floors of the Margaritaville Resort Times Square, the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar provides you with sprawling views of New York City, including the iconic New Year’s Eve Ball and the Hudson River. I could not get over the view of the NYE Ball! This is going to be the place to be for New Years Eve (I was also told they have a handful of rooms with views of the Ball so look out for some NYE packages this year).
The rooms here are pretty straight across the board. They look and feel like all the other Margaritaville Resort rooms except because it is New York City they are smaller. Some of the views are better than others but all the rooms generally look the same. I love that they have hardwood and the little touches like the fins on the sink are adorable. I love the Margaritaville K-cups in the morning and the bottles of water that say "Paradise Water from Margaritaville".
Some other random things I appreciated here are the amazingly comfy robe ( I always adore a good robe when I am away), the island vibe in each hall way including the hand sanitizer they have strategically placed everywhere, and lastly the doorbells each room has complete with a picture of the Statue of Liberty and her margarita glass. The biggest selling point of this resort is the location. It is right in the heart of Manhattan. It is within walking distance to Broadway shows, the Empire State Building, popular dining, Penn Station and so much more. I can even see this becoming a very popular place to stay during the holidays when people want to enjoy all of the cities decorations, Christmas Tree, and ice skating but they also want that warm tropical vibe when they come back to the resort after a long day of sightseeing.
If you would like to find out more about the Margaritaville Resort Times Square reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner today!
Today we wandered off to the Anaheim GardenWalk for the first time. It is such a great area with fun shopping and dining, within a short walking distance if you are staying onsite at a Disneyland hotel. What we did not except was to stumble upon this adorable store, Dara Beauty. This store exudes magic as you walk in and you immediately get lost in it's beauty.
This store is a MUST for those who are visiting the Disneyland area. They have a fabulous selection of costumes, tiaras, makeup and accessories for less than half the price of what you will pay once on property. They even have costumes for adults, and I will be honest, if I was a little slimer I would have purchased one myself!
They also have services to transform your favorite little one into a princess and afterwards you can take pictures inside of the princess carriage and in front of the fantasy garden area. They have a beautiful selection of tiaras that are very reasonably priced. The only problem you will end up having is narrowing down the selection to one, but can a princess really have too many crowns?
We spent a lot of time speaking with the staff and not only are they very knowledgeable but they are extremely passionate about what they do. You can tell how much they love their job and that shines all through out the store. This is a must do when you are in the area. It is whimsical enchantment and perfect for those who love a good fairytale! They even have a Pandora section so you can get your jewelry fix while visiting. I always love purchasing a Pandora charm when I visit a special place to remember that specific moment. This new charm comes with a great memory of the chat I had with the friendly staff in the store. Believe it or not, shopping here was one of my favorite memories of our whole trip out to Disneyland.
For more information on Dara Beauty or to book your next adventure out to Disneyland reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner today. Our services are complimentary for those who book through our agency.
Whenever a new themed area opens in any Disney destination we are always excited to try their quick service dining. There is always something fun about having a meal with a good themed atmosphere and Pym Test Kitchen is no exception. Just in case you didn't know what is quite going on here, Ant-Man and The Wasp utilize the revolutionary shrink and grow technology of Pym Particles, and lead a team of research chefs as they pioneer a menu packed with inventive sized entrees, tiny treats and shareable bites that provide the perfect power up. This old lab facility turned quick service restaurant features a seating area and bar amidst decor that incorporates remnants of ongoing experiments, gigantic soda cans, humongous condiment bottles and massive cellphone recycled into menu boards.
For breakfast we went with the Calculated Breakfast (Calculated Breakfast = E x 2 + (B+P)/T = Eggs Two Ways). This meal comes with eggs two ways (we believe they are using quail eggs for the sunny side up egg so be prepared for it to be cold before you sit down), smoked bacon, crispy potato bites, and focaccia bread. This choice is going to set you back $10.99 and although adorable, it is going to leave you walking away hungry. We also snagged the kids Cinna-Pym Mini Toast which was warmed Cinnamon Pym Particle Bread, with turkey bacon, maple syrup, a Cutie mandarin orange with a choice of a milk or water and this was $7.99.
The theming of this quick service knocks it out of the park but if you are looking for a better meal that will fill you up we recommend skipping breakfast and visiting for lunch or dinner where they have 'LARGER' portioned selections.
Make sure to visit our YouTube channel to see additional Avengers Campus footage by clicking here and to book your next visit to Disneyland Parks and Resorts make sure to use a Starstuff Planner. Our services are complementary to those who book their vacation through us!
As if we did not have enough to be excited for this year with all the recent Walt Disney World announcements, today we are celebrating even more amazing news! This big news includes the reveal of two brand new nighttime shows and we want to tell you all about them!
A new nighttime spectacular, “Disney Enchantment,” will help kick off the 50th anniversary festivities when it debuts Oct. 1 at Magic Kingdom Park. Created to launch with “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” this evening extravaganza will take you on a journey filled with adventure, wonder and empowerment. Inspiring everyone to believe in magic, “Disney Enchantment” will feature music, enhanced lighting, stunning fireworks and, for the first time, immersive projection effects that extend from Cinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A.
Joining “Disney Enchantment” on Oct. 1 will be “Harmonious” at EPCOT, one of the largest nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney park. This new show will bring the globe together at World Showcase Lagoon in a celebration of Disney music that inspires people worldwide. It’s a grand, powerful tribute to the stories and songs that unite us, embracing new technical magic that incorporates pyrotechnics, choreographed moving fountains, lighting and media in new ways. “Harmonious” will invite you to travel the globe through new interpretations of classic Disney songs as you’ve never heard them before, reimagined in more than a dozen languages by a diverse group of 240 artists from around the world.
There’s also new daytime entertainment stirring at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Check out this artist rendering of “Disney KiteTails,” which will come alive several times daily at the Discovery River Amphitheater beginning Oct. 1. Performers will fly windcatchers and kites of all shapes and sizes, while out on the water elaborate three-dimensional kites, some stretching to 30 feet long, will depict Disney animal friends, including Simba, Zazu, Baloo and King Louie. These colorful creations will dance through the sky to the beat of favorite Disney songs in an uplifting, vibrant experience for the whole family.
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will be your hosts for “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” and they’ll be decked out in sparkling new EARidescent fashions for the 50th anniversary. As you can see in the photo above, their best pals want to get in on the shimmer, too, as Donald Duck and Daisy Duck, Goofy and Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale will be sporting their own custom-made EARidescent looks beginning Oct. 1. You’ll get a chance to see them when they travel through Magic Kingdom Park several times daily in the new “Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade.”
These eight friends will also be featured in special golden character sculptures debuting Oct. 1 at Magic Kingdom Park; in this artist rendering, you can see Mickey and Minnie shining in the sunlight near Cinderella Castle. There will be 50 characters total in this series of sculptures that will be displayed across all four theme parks. Disney will soon reveal more of the “Disney Fab 50” as excitement builds for the big day, as well as the surprising ways you’ll be able to interact with these beautiful sculptures as part of the 50th anniversary celebration.
This fall, you can bring home “Walt Disney World: A Portrait of the First Half Century,” a beautiful new coffee table book from Disney Editions. You can see the cover art above for this insider’s look at the history and evolution of Walt Disney World, written by Kevin Kern, Tim O’Day and Steven Vagnini. The book will be available for purchase beginning Sept. 28 at Walt Disney World, shopDisney.com and wherever books are sold.
“The World’s Most Magical Celebration” will also see the grand opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT, icons at each of the four parks transforming into Beacons of Magic at night*, EARidescent decor all across the resort, plus much more. Walt Disney World cast members who will be wearing new EARidescent nametags designed especially for this occasion are looking forward to sharing all this magic with you, as they are the heart of this momentous event.
For more information on booking your Walt Disney World vacation, contact one of our Starstuff Travel Planners today. Our services are complimentary when you book your vacation with us!
SELECT NIGHTS ◆ SEPT 3rd through OCT 31, 2021
Last year, Universal made the difficult decision not to hold Halloween Horror Nights due to Covid 19. So when they made the announcement today that they were back for their 30th year we could not contain our excitement! If you are not familiar with this awesome event let us tell you a little more about it. HHN does require a separate ticket where you can experience terrifying haunted houses, sinister scare zones, outrageous live entertainment and some of the park’s most exhilarating attractions. You definitely need someone to cling to, someone to hide behind, somebody to panic with because this event is not for the faint of heart.
Today they announced the first of their ten "Houses" is going to be Beetlejuice but have yet to announce any of the five themed "Scare Zones". Along with their spooky merchandise that you can find in their official Tribute Store, and the neat themed food and beverages, this is an event we have always been fond of. If you are a movie buff, a fan of horror, or just go nuts over Halloween this is a MUST DO event for you! Since they will also be celebrating their 30th anniversary (they had to skip it last year) and this event is always popular you will want to buy your tickets before they sell out. Reach out to your Starstuff Travel Planner today for more information!
We are so excited to be able to say that Disney has made an official announcement for their plans to bring back fireworks this summer!
A Disney tradition since 1957, fireworks shows are what Walt Disney called the perfect “kiss goodnight” at the close of a magical day, and this summer the skies above Disney theme parks will sparkle with color once more. Beginning in July, just in time for the nation’s Independence Day celebrations, our incredibly popular nighttime fireworks spectaculars are returning to Disney parks!
On July 1 Walt Disney World will bring back nightly fireworks performances at Magic Kingdom Park and EPCOT. “Happily Ever After” will transform Cinderella Castle with lights, projections and pyrotechnics, as moments from favorite Disney stories encourage Guests to grab hold of their dreams and make them come true. And as part of the ongoing transformation of EPCOT, “EPCOT Forever” will produce a spectacle of fireworks, music and lighting effects over World Showcase Lagoon, highlighting the themes of innovation, exploration, imagination and celebration at the core of the park’s past, present and future.
As Disneyland Park in California welcomes back all guests, the fun starts July 4 with “Mickey’s Mix Magic” presented nightly throughout the summer. State-of-the-art projections, show lighting and lasers will transform Main Street, U.S.A., Sleeping Beauty Castle and the façade of “it’s a small world” into a dazzling, family fun dance party that goes sky high with fireworks to celebrate the leader of the club, Mickey Mouse.
With this announcement coupled with the fact that Walt Disney World Resort celebrates it's 50th anniversary later this year, availability is going to be limited so make sure to get your 2021 vacation on the books today!
Reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner today to book your Walt Disney World vacation!
Fantasy reigns at Magic Kingdom Park, especially as they get ready for Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary in October and “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” Case in point, they recently announced the park will soon be the ghost host for “Disney After Hours Boo Bash” on 23 select nights later this year, starting Aug. 10 and continuing through Oct. 31 from 9 p.m. to midnight. We are thrilled to share some more frightfully fun details on what Guests will experience during this limited-capacity separately ticketed event:
As they had shared previously, all foolish mortals can dress in costume for the event and Guests can get their fill of Halloween candy while trick-or-treating around the park. Costume masks are not permitted for adults; they can only be worn by children under 14. Be sure to check the Costume Policy for the most up-to-date information. Please note that health and safety measures, policies and operational guidelines are subject to change.
Tickets for this hauntingly fun-filled three-hour event will go on sale June 15 and can be purchased by reaching out to your favorite Starstuff Travel Planner. Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can book their tickets as early as June 8.
Tickets start at $129 - $139 USD, plus tax for August/September nights and $159 - $169, plus tax for October nights, and $199, plus tax for Halloween. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members can take advantage of a $10 discount for event nights in August and September. A limited number of tickets are available.
Here are the dates for “Disney After Hours Boo Bash”:
*Some event nights in August and September will be from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
**This item will be on sale outside event hours Oct. 1 to Nov. 1.
Reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner today for more information on this event before it sells out!
With widespread access to COVID-19 vaccinations and the easing of certain travel restrictions have led to a large surge in travel bookings domestically as well as through out the Caribbean. Coupled with the fact that so many people had to cancel or put off their 2020 travel plans, it is making finding available rooms, flights, and even car rentals almost scarce! With availability rapidly decreasing as well as certain post Covid-19 travel requirements, there has never been a need to use a travel agent as much as there has been in todays world. We have gathered three very important reasons as to why you should stick with a travel professional when looking to book your next getaway, vacation or adventure!
1. FINDING AVAILABILITY
Since so many people are traveling right now, finding availability is becoming harder and harder by the day. As travel professionals, we have access to things like "Bulk" airfare or "Unpublished" air that the public can not see on their own. We also have relationships with suppliers that can put in a "Request" for an unavailable hotel room or help us find something comparable to what our clients are looking for. Right now there is such limited capacity for rental cars that people are renting U-Haul trucks in certain destinations like Hawaii in order to get around the island, as travel professionals, we have other options and contacts to offer so you do not need to make such drastic decisions in order to enjoy your vacation!
2. TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
With so many destinations requiring testing as well as travel authorization forms, it can be almost overwhelming to figure out what you actually do need and what you do not need in todays new world. As a travel professional, we are always thoroughly educated on what the processes and requirements are to each destination as well as what you need to know to re-enter back into the United States. This will take away all of the stress and allow you to enjoy preparing for your vacation, after all a vacation is supposed to be exciting!
3. FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE
There has never been a time more than now that you want your travel professional to have a vast amount of first hand experience in the destination you are visiting post pandemic. Many of our agents and the owners of Starstuff Travel have dedicated the last year to traveling numerous times monthly to ensure that we are fully educated on each and every destination, their safety and health precautions, what is open (or still closed) and so on. While many agencies remained closed, we took to the skies and wandered endlessly so we could gain as much knowledge as possible for our clients, ensuring they would have the best experience available to them.
While these are only three important reasons as to why you need a travel professional in 2021, there are many more reasons such as we can save you time, we offer a personalized touch, we monitor your booking for promotions and most of all, our services are free! Last year when the world shut down, travel professionals worked tirelessly to make sure our clients were taken care of. You can rest assured that we have been through some tough times and came out fighting on behalf of our clients. The world of travel advisors has never been stronger, and now is the time to utilize our services!
To book your next vacation, or for more information on our services, please reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner today!
It is always best to try to prepare as much as possible when you are going to spend the day at Universal Orlando Resort. Making a mental list of the rides you may want to tackle, packing your backpack the night before, and most importantly always trying to get a good night’s rest is helpful. Being prepared will always help you make the most of your trip! I am here to tell you, as an annual passholder, what "Must Have" essentials I recommend for your bag while visiting!
1. PORTABLE BATTERY CHARGER
I never leave the hotel room without a portable power bank, especially a FuelRod in my backpack. Now a days we are using our cell phones to take pictures and keep up with social media all day so your battery is bound to run low earlier in the day. FuelRods are a reusable, portable charging system that allows you to charge your mobile device on the go, and then recharge or swap for a fresh one. Currently in Universal Orlando, FuelRods are $30 for the initial device (which comes with a cable, connectors, and a carrying case), and $3 for each time you swap out your current rod for a new fully charged one and can be found scattered throughout the park.
2. A PARK MAP
Be sure to grab a park map as soon as you enter the parks. You will also want to download the Official Universal Orlando Resort App, but a paper copy of the park’s map comes in handy as a backup, saves you battery life on your cell phone and also makes for a great free souvenir!
3. SUNTAN LOTION
You’re always going to need suntan lotion when you’re spending the day in the bright Florida sun! Regardless of the season, whether it is spring, summer, fall or winter, you will need protection. Cloudy days can also be misleading, with rays that penetrate through the clouds, so always throw it in your bag!
4. A WATER BOTTLE
At Universal Orlando, there are water fountains scattered all around the parks, so you can conveniently fill up your water bottle whenever it’s running low. We like to bring our Hydro Flask with us and fill it up with ice in the morning. Any quick service kiosk or restaurant will do this for you free of charge. This specific water bottle keeps the ice frozen all day long which is why we love it! We try to keep water with us at all times in the hot Florida heat. This way, we stay dehydrated and it saves us money.
5. A PONCHO OR AN UMBRELLA
Packing either an umbrella or a poncho will save you future hassle when those famous Florida showers pop up out of nowhere. This is definitely a must during summer visits. You can pick up cheap throw away ones at your local dollar store or you can purchase a Universal Orlando one ahead of time at one of their gift shops to keep in your bag. It is so uncomfortable to be stuck in wet clothing all day so preparing ahead of time will keep you happy and dry.
What do you typically pack for your park days? Share with us in the comments below!
For more information on booking your next Universal Orlando Resort vacation, reach out to a Starstuff Travel Planner, we're free!