Happy New Year to all…..It’s been too long, but I’m back. I started this year with a desire to escape the Artic Blast. Atlanta is traditionally in the 30’s and 40’s during winter months, this year is colder than most. Single digits. So I ended up in Miami for a short escape. I visited over 10 years ago. While Miami is fun, it has never been one of my favorite destinations. I decided to give it another try in 2014.
Travel time: 1 hour, 27 minutes (nonstop from Atlanta)
Arrival airport: Miami International Airport
Hotel: The Clinton (South Beach)
Reason for travel: Beach escape
Temperatures: High 60 degrees
What I liked: People watching, nightlife, variety of things to do, The Clinton (great location and price), cultural diversity
What I didn’t:
- Hotels are pricey
- Boutique South Beach hotels are more affordable option, but often are aged
- Taxis to/from MIA airport are expensive (~$40 and up one-way)
- South Beach restaurants offer pretty much the same menus
- Seafood options limited (this was a big surprise!)
- Miami Airport facilities are old and restaurants are really unclean
Would I recommend Miami? Yes. For a girl’s or guys trip. Spring break. Quick weekend getaways. For those who enjoy drinking and partying.
Will I go back? Sure, but not during winter season:)
Shoal Bay beach, one of Anguilla’s best beaches.
Where is it? 18 degrees 34’4″ N, 68 degrees 21’48” W (approx 800 miles south of Florida, between Cuba and Puerto Rico)
How to Get There: Nonstop flights offered from Atlanta, New York, Miami, Minneapolis, and Newark. Carriers include: Airtran, American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue. Average flight time 3-4 hours.
What it is: Subtropical, Hot, All-Inclusives, Mega Resorts, Mass Tourists (Europeans, Canadians tend to outnumber Americans), Mediocre dining (mostly buffet style), Limited nightlife options (outside of resorts), Topless Beaches, Beautiful women, Spanish Speaking, Championship Golf courses, Fishing charters
What it is not: Luxury resorts (Top notch resorts are not same standard of service as Europe or the U.S.), Exclusive beaches (packed with tourists and straw huts), Luxury shopping, No duty-free shopping, Top notch dining, American hotel chains (Hard Rock Hotel is only)
Ideal for: Families, Spring Breakers, Destination Weddings, and Honeymooners
Best Time to Go: Yearround (June thru Nov is wet season)
Top Resorts: Paradisus, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Excellence (Adults Only), Riu, Secrets, Sivory, Zoetry, Melia, Gran Bahia Principe (where I stayed), Iberostar, Club Med, Dreams
Things I Like Most:
Value Vacation – All-inclusive resorts offer value vacation (all meals, drinks, gratuities included)
Spa services (very affordable)
Availability/Abundance of food and beverages 24/7
Service (resort staff went above and beyond)
Things I did not like:
Mass vacation concept (beaches crowded, dining and entertainment complexes crowded, Spring break atmosphere)
Lack of activities outside of the resort
Resorts are mega-sized, in most cases long distances to get from resort to beach area
Difficulty in getting beach chairs and towels at certain times of the day
Difficulty in communicating with resort staff, very few spoke English
Must secure dining reservations at top tier restaurants well in advance
Airport is small, crowded, and has no air conditioning
Helpful Travel Advice:
1. Prearrange transportation to/from the airport (cabs can be expensive).
2. Carry cash for $10USD Tourist Card fee (per person for both adults & children) paid upon arrival.
3. Brush up on basic Spanish phrases (you will need them).
4. Drink only bottled water! (Do not brush teeth with tap water)
5. Eat carefully (I tended to only eat cooked foods, no salads or uncooked veggies).
6.Carry plenty of sunscreen (sun is intense and most resorts have limited palm trees and shade).
7. Secure dining reservations at top tier restaurants upon check in.
8. Allow 3 hours for airport check-in when leaving the island.
The secret of the DR: Vacation on any budget. The place to relax.
Rendevous Bay, Anguilla
So today is Day 2….I am so excited to begin this journey of blogging, telling my story, in my words, in my time. It’s a beautiful thing. I will begin today, by sharing that I have traveled extensively all over the world including: The Caribbean (Anguilla, Aruba, Eleuthera, Nassau, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, Curacao, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Punta Cana, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, St. Thomas), Latin America (Cancun, Acapulco, Buenos Aires, Costa Rica, Lima, Sanitago Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo), Europe (Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Athens, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, London, Munich), South Africa (Capetown and Johannesburg), the Middle East (Cairo, Dubai, Kuwait) and as Far East as Tokyo. That’s a lot of miles, but it was so worth it. Each trip is unique and special in its own way. I will use this blog to share a little about each destination and my experiences with the sights, sounds, tastes, culture, and people along the way.
Today, our largest concerns around travel are:
1) Can I afford it?
2) Can I take the time off?
3) Will I be safe while traveling?
My answer is Yes, Yes, and Yes. Say YES to travel. Each time you travel you get an opportunity to learn something about yourself, to grow, to de-stress, and at the end of the journey, it will be worth it.