Visit Barbados. Like, Right now.

I’ve been obsessed with Barbados since I was a kid, when I read the Newbery Medal winning book “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” by Elizabeth George Speare. For anyone who somehow managed to escape their summer reading, the book is about a fictional 17th Century young woman who, orphaned, must leave her home in Barbados and travel to New England. Now in Puritan Connecticut, she often reminisces about her home and her childhood growing up in beautiful Barbados.

Yes, as an adult, I now realize the colonizer themes that ran rampant in the book. However, the images left in my mind’s eye of the lush and balmy Barbados had impressed on me the desire to make my way over to the tiny island as soon as I was able.  No better time then the present, so we headed over to finally see the nation well known as the birthplace of rum.

Located in the lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of North America, Barbados is about a 5 hour flight from New York City.  Just 166 square miles in total, it dwarfs the smallest state in the USA by quite a bit (Rhode Island, at 1,034 square miles), it packs a lot into a small space.

Though she be but little, she is fierce. Alright, perhaps not exactly fierce, but definitely a force. On this wisp of an island, you will experience amazing food (yes, quite a lot of seafood, but vegans and  vegetarians rejoice, there are plenty of options on this very foodie-progressive island), blissful beaches, friendly people, and incredible scenery. No matter what you are interested in, you will find plenty to keep you occupied while you vacation in beautiful and diverse Barbados.

Not ones to lay about the beach and resort all day, we wanted to see as much as we were able to in our (much too short!) stay. Not that lying about has anything wrong with it- you couldn’t pick a more picturesque place to relax and take in the sun and sand. We did our share of lazing, but spent most of our time exploring the island.  The history of the island is as colorful as it’s gardens, and during our stay we enjoyed learning about the island’s first peoples through events in our current time period. Luckily for us, there are some fantastic tour guides who are gracious enough to share Barbadian culture and history with tourists, and they are very thorough. The best part is, the more you learn, the more you want to know.

The Arawaks and the Caribs were the first inhabitants of what became known as Barbados. English Captain John Powell arrived in 1625 and claimed the island for King James I of England. After returning to England and back again, the island was given the name “Los Barbados”, a variation of “Os Barbados”, used by the Portuguese sailors since 1536.  It was named after a tree that grew on the island, the “Bearded Fig Tree” aka  Shortleaf Fig (Ficus Citrifolia) that the sailors thought looked like a bushy beard. As Barbados was named for it’s magnificent foliage, you can rightly assume that the natural beauty surrounding is going to make it hard to put your camera away.

Regardless of what kind of touring or adventure you are after, you are bound to be excited by and admiring of the natural beauty that will envelop you. One of the first tours we opted to take was a walking tour of Historic Bridgetown. This 3 hour walking tour was the perfect introduction to the area, and was led by local professor and historian Morris Greenidge. Extremely passionate, knowledgeable, and just honestly impressive, Mr. Greenidge is “the” expert, called to discuss Barbados and topics that intertwine with the local history on panels and conferences worldwide.

When there was not enough history or information available, Mr. Greenidge just decided rather than lament it, he would research and write the histories himself. Almost all by himself, as well. Self taught, he has researched and written the history of the island from it’s founders to local legends and heroes as well as walking guides and more. (Side note, some of these books are hard to find outside of Barbados, so you may want to buy them while you are there if you like them. Bonus, he will be happy to sign them for you. I regretfully only bought two of his books at the time, and am having a rough time finding some of the others. Lesson learned, hopefully you can avoid my error.) There are not a ton of books out there on the history of Barbados, not many novels either, so they were a good find and give good insight from that of a lifelong inhabitant. As well, I have to admit that after having spent time with Mr. Greenidge, I hear the books in his voice and they are quite a fun and unique reminder of our time spent touring.

Meeting us in dress slacks, crisp shirt, and suspenders on a blisteringly hot day, Mr. Greenidge speaks slowly and deliberately, often pausing in thought, giving an incredibly thorough tour of a place you can see he loves dearly. We began the tour at Chamberlain Bridge in aptly named Bridgetown (the capitol and by far largest city in Barbados) under Independence Arch. The bridge connects Bridgetown over the Careenage aka Constitution River, which cuts the city in two parts. Formerly a swing bridge that was vital to the shipping industry as well as connecting one part of the city to it’s other half, it’s now rebuilt and designed for the current needs of the island- mostly pleasure boating and fishing. Not only one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean, but also a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is a lot to experience in Bridgetown.
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Coconut Bay Resort, St. Lucia

No matter what kind of vacation you are looking for- family trip, a romantic couples retreat, girlfriends getaway- you can find what you are looking for on the diverse island of St. Lucia. Coconut Bay is located near the airport (in fact, just five minutes away), so you won’t have a long trek to your room once you arrive. That’s never a welcome surprise, is it? Once there, you are greeted by friendly staff with cool towels and cold drinks of your choice- water, rum punch, or champagne.

Coconut Bay

As you refresh and cool off, you and your entourage check into your room.  You can take your bags or have them taken to your room for your, and your vacation really begins. A recently renovated resort on 85 acres, the all inclusive Coconut Bay offers plenty to see, do, (eat!) and explore.  There are nine restaurants, seven bars, five pools, a fully functional and not all all lacking fitness center (lets face it, often “gyms” while vacationing are weak sauce) the largest waterpark on the island, and more. Did I mention it was all inclusive? Because that makes things so. much. easier. Also, the beach is just past the pools- no long hike to and fro.

best family vacation

We took my daughter for a long weekend, and there was definitely not enough time to see all that we wanted to on the resort, let along the island. So it’s a great spot for a quick getaway, but for sure even better for those who like a more immersive experience. If you are traveling as an adults only getaway, you will likely prefer to stay o the “Harmony” wing of the resort, which does not allow children. When you get a moment to get away from it all- your routine, the kids, the noise-  the last thing you want to hear is someone else’s kids screaming, and that’s totally fair and understandable- and other adults get that. It can be hard to find time to reconnect as a couple, and Coconut Bay makes sure you can have those quiet moments you are looking for, complete with hammocks and lounge chairs everywhere you look.

St Lucia Resort

Brining the kids? Totally cool. I usually do as well. The “Splash” wing is for families, and where you will find the waterpark, the only resort petting zoo on the island (and the only one I can remember seeing ever in my own experience), the Kidz Club, and even a paintball course.  It is for sure the louder side of the resort, and there are plenty of family friendly activities to keep everyone busy. Also, a note for those looking to keep active while traveling- they have really good fitness classes offered. Actual quality, that are both fun and challenging. You will be working up a sweat but enjoying yourself at the same time. Again, not something I see all the time. Places might have gyms and classes, but they are not usually anywhere near this intensity, and we were super impressed.
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Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts in Riviera Maya, Mecico

It’s that time of year that feels like winter will never end. First, Winter. Then, “False Spring”, wild cold snap, at least one more blizzard that will lead to “second False Spring”, and then maybe we can finally start to melt. I’m thinking about a shortcut to getting warm.

Mexico is calling. It’s just a short plane ride away, and it’s beautiful beaches, resorts, and diverse entertainment are just the thing to help wipe away the winter blues. Not to mention the food….don’t even try to stay on your diet. Just GO with it.

riviara maya

Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts has beautiful options to fit all sorts of budgets and travel styles. What they call experiencing the ‘Mayan jungle without sacrificing luxury’ in Riviera Maya, you can visit Mexico and stay in a resort within a giant resort that you are free to move about in.

Bringing the whole family? That’s great, there are rooms and portions of the resort designed with you in mind. Events just for kids, treasure hunts, kid friendly foods and activities, and no adults who don’t want to be around kids glaring at you when your child has an inevitable meltdown. Hey, kids are kids, even on vacation, right?

mexico all inclusive resort

Running away from the kids? That’s fantastic- mom and dad need some time off sometimes. You are people, too, after all. Maybe all you want is some kid-free time. That’s totally doable at Bahia Principe, there are adults only beaches, pools, restaurants, and resort areas where you won’t have to see a single under 18 if you don’t want to.

No matter how you choose to travel or whom with, you will love the white sand beaches and lush natural scenery. If you are interested in Maya culture, this is the place to visit. The resort is located within close distances to iconic landmarks such as Chichen Itza and the ruins of Tulum that you won’t want to miss. While you are there, active travelers and nature lovers will want to take the time to visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, a natural reserve offering tropical flora, an equally impressive underwater world that is home to plenty of fish and coral formations, and Cenote Dos Ojos, which is part of the world’s largest underwater cave system- truly impressive. 

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Le Blanc Spa Resort, Los Cabos Mexico

A Luxury Adults Only Getaway to Mexico

resorts in mexico

When you are looking to vacation without the hassle, to just enjoy yourself in the deluxe accommodations, to indulge on your next trip, you need look no further than Le Blanc All-Inclusive Spa and Resort. Located in popular Los Cabos on the west coast of Mexico, Le Blanc offers everything you are seeking and more.

adult only mexico

This is Le Blanc’s second location, the first being their top rated Cancun resort from Palace Resorts, recognized by AAA as a Five Diamond Awarded brand. With this new location on the opposite coast they have raised the bar. Fine dining, ocean front views, spa and fitness facilities are all added on to the pure natural beauty of the Baja Peninsula.

couples only getaway

Taste enthusiasts will love the variety of foods available during your stay. Le Blanc offers gourmet delicacies with curated menus by world-renowned pastry chef, Antonio Bachour. If you too enjoy baked goods, they are a top choice for me and hard to resist, what could be better than a selection of dishes from a chef who shares that passion.
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Get Away In Las Vegas Without The Kids

During the summer, family vacation destinations get a great deal of attention. Indeed, the warmer months of the year can be perfect if you want to find a nice beach or kid-friendly resort for everyone to enjoy for a few days. But what if you want to enjoy a summer getaway without the kids?

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For most parents, this is an appealing, and even therapeutic concept. The idea of leaving the kids with friends or family for a few days to enjoy an adult getaway means enjoying some relaxation as a couple together, rather than as parents in a crowd!

If you’re looking for just such a getaway this summer, Las Vegas may be the perfect destination to consider. You hear about the partying and the nightclub scene in Vegas, of course. But it’s also an incredible place for parents to soak up some entertainment, romance, and deep relaxation. Here are 5 specific tips to consider for your Vegas getaway.

1. Stay At A New Resort

The classic resorts you’ve seen in movies about Las Vegas are fun, but they tend to be busier, gaudier, and a bit less relaxing. Consider the ARIA instead. This is a sparkling, incredible new resort built more for luxury than for bright lights and casino activity. Of course, you’ll still find crowds, busy pools, and a casino floor. But you’ll also find unrivaled comfort and luxury.
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