Sandals Ochi Beach

Disclosure: We were provided with two free day passes to the resort, however all opinions on Sandals Ochi Beach are my own.

Back in November when I sailed on the Carnival Vista, one of our stops was to Jamaica. I knew they had a Sandals resort there, and so I was really excited to spend the day exploring, in hopes of coming back for longer one day. The weather was dreary, but we still had a great time and I learned a lot about Sandals Ochi Beach resort!

This place has a beach club, 11 bars, and 16(!!) restaurants. You can take the shuttle to the other side of the road for more fun. Tranquil, lush gardens and quiet relaxing places to read or just enjoy your surroundings. This place has something for everyone!

Of course when you stay at Sandals Ochi you get top notch service such as free wifi, free airport transfers, unlimited land and water sports, unlimited wines and premium spirits, unlimited fine dining, golf, and access to the beach club where there are so many activities going on all day and into the night.

We were given a tour when we arrived, and this place is HUGE. I don’t think if I stayed for a month I could do all the things there are to do. So for those worried about getting bored at an all inclusive, that’s definitely not an issue here!

I loved the laid back atmosphere of the resort. No one was in a hurry, everyone was happy and relaxed, and it was so peaceful. The first thing we did was enjoy a breakfast buffet overlooking the ocean. I was handed a mimosa, and thought “I can get used to this!”

We enjoyed out food and the excellent customer service from the staff before heading to the pool to relax and enjoy some drinks. We ended up at the Beach Club area and at the swim up pool bar (so nice) where they will make you pretty much anything you want. I had a great time trying different drinks I normally wouldn’t order, and listening to the music as we looked out at the water.

Everyone was so friendly and we enjoyed chatting with other couples from all over the place. Some have been back several times which speaks very highly of Sandals Ochi Beach. Before we knew it, it was lunch time, so we headed back to the buffet area (there were other options as well) and enjoyed another meal overlooking the water, and I tried the drink of the day which was delicious.

After lunch I spent some time exploring the grounds and taking photos. I still didn’t have time to even take photos of everything!

I was jealous of everyone who got to stay there overnight when we had to go back to the ship.

I definitely would love to come back here, or try out another Sandals property, and actually be an overnight guest and experience more the resorts have to offer. I would also love a sunny day (haha).

If you are considering an all inclusive, I highly recommend Sandals Ochi Beach. There is something for everyone, and there are even direct flights from many airports. They have accommodations for all budgets, and activities and experiences you won’t soon forget. I know I was just there for a few hours, but I know I won’t forget the fun we had in Jamaica.

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Pppssst: If you are sailing here on a cruise ship, they offer a limited amount of day passes, which is what we had, so you can go check out the resort for yourself!

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5 Reasons to Stay at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Disclosure: I was provided a hotel stay and park tickets from Universal Orlando Resort, however all opinions are my own.

Recently I had the opportunity to stay at Universal Orlando Resort’s newest hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls. I had only seen pictures, which looked beautiful so I was really excited to experience this resort for myself. There is a lot that could be said about this gorgeous tropical retreat, but I condensed it into my five top reasons that you will want to visit (and stay at!) this property.

1.) Easy access to the parks: We arrived at the resort early in the morning so we could have a full day at the parks. After parking in the convenient parking garage, we set out to find our way to the theme parks. We discovered not only is there a gorgeous and tranquil walking path, but a leisurely boat ride that drops you off at City Walk. We took the boat and walking path during our stay and enjoyed both! There is also a bus if you prefer to take that instead.

2.) Beautiful and bright rooms: I’m a big fan of tropical and bright decor, and Loews Sapphire Falls did not disappoint. We were honored to have been upgraded to a suite which was HUGE! Below you can get a feel for the color scheme and amenities in the rooms. I’m not oing to post photos of the rest of the suite as to not confuse anyone about the rooms. One of my favorite things was the fact that there were power outlets and USB plus everywhere! I hate going to older hotels and not being able to find outlets for everything I need to plug in. Not the case here. It made me a happy girl.

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Everything was so nice and fresh and clean, I felt so relaxed the whole time. There are lots of blues and whites which are so peaceful to me.

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3.) Extra options at the resort: I love staying at a resort where there is so much to do, you don’t even feel like you have to leave. If you are like me, then you will love it here. There was an arcade, several restaurants, and a gorgeous fitness center. This wasn’t like a little room with a few dumbbells and a treadmill. This was a real gym and it was so nice!

4.) Great pool area: Having a kid, one of the things I always look at when trying to decide where to stay is the pool. We did not have a chance to swim this time, but we did go check it out and it looks fabulous! First of all, when you walk outside they had corn hole, ping pong, and other games as well as a bar and tables to sit at and eat.

There were cabanas for rent, and nice sandy areas making you feel like you were at the beach.

There was also a water slide which I know my daughter would have loved.

This just means we have to go back, right?

5.) Early entry to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: When you stay at Loews Sapphire Falls, you have the added bonus of getting entry into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour earlier than park guests not staying onsite. Especially at peak times of year, this is a huge deal! Getting to head into that part of the park with hardly anyone there is amazing, and great for photo taking. I was able to ride everything and see all the things I wanted to see within that first hour.

If you are planning a visit to Universal Orlando Resort, consider staying at Loews Sapphire Falls. You will fall in love with it’s charm and will enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful resort.

 

 

 

Holiday Like This at Universal Orlando Resort

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Universal Orlando Resort, however all opinions are my own.

It’s always fun to Visit Universal Orlando Resort, but if you want a little “extra” something, be sure visit for the holidays. There are so many fun decorative touches throughout the parks as well as special shows and events you won’t want to miss. It’s just the perfect thing to get you in the holiday spirit!

1.) Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s: If you have any Mischievous Minion fans in your house, this parade is not to be missed. There are adorable floats with your favorite Despicable Me characters as well as those from Shrek and Madagascar. Don’t forget about the Macy’s balloons flying high in the sky! There’s singing, their’s dancing, and a lot of smiling (trust me on this one!) Be sure to catch the action
Dec. 18 – Jan. 6 at 8 pm.

2.) The parks all decked out for the holidays: Going from attraction to attraction at a Universal Orlando Resort theme park is a blast, but it’s even better when there is Christmas music in the background, beautiful lights, and garland everywhere you look. That little bit of extra magic was really fun to see and kept us smiling all day long.

3.) Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular at Islands of Adventure:

Seuss landing was adorably decorated and full of whimsy. I could have just walked around looking at the decorations all day! But, there is even more to see with a live retelling of the classic tale “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” featuring music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller.

You can even meet the green guy himself after the show. There is also a character breakfast with the Grinch, but it’s a separate ticketed event.

4.) Christmas at Hogwarts: This was definitely a highlight of our trip, and I’m so glad we went back into Islands of Adventure to see it. Walking through Hogsmeade all decorated for the holidays was cute, but the projection show took the cake.

Shows are done every few minutes, and the projection on the castle is breathtaking. Seriously, the pictures don’t do it justice. Trust me, you do NOT want to miss this!

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5.) On Site Hotel Decorations: 

We had the privilege of staying at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, which was also very much in the holiday spirit. There was a huge tree in the lobby as well as an adorable village make of candy and desserts. They will also be having Christmas character meals, so be sure to call for more information if you will be there over Christmas. The other in site hotels have their own decorations as well. It would make for a fun evening to go visit them all!

These special holiday events and happenings are going on now through January 6th at Universal Orlando Resort. Which one are you most excited about?

 

 

Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

Disclosure: I was hosted by Wyndham for my stay in their resort. However, all opinions are my own.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Bobby and I decided we wanted to take Emma Kate to her very first water park in Orlando. When Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive invited us to stay as their guests, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity.

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The best thing about this resort is that you can stay where you play. It is the official resort of I-Drive 360, and there is so much to see and do, many things within walking distance (Like the Orlando eye). It’s also only twelve miles from the airport, so you are literally close to everything. The resort also offers a complimentary shuttle to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld.

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I loved all the greenery and tropical plants surrounding the walkways and the pool areas. There are also plenty of dining options including a bar in the lobby and at the pool. The resort is also home to Gatorville, he poolside grill and bar.

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The rooms all have pillowtop mattresses, 40” flat screen tv’s and mini refrigerators. We were in a king room/family suite that included a separate area with bunk beds and another TV for the kids.

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I really love the idea of the bunk beds, I just wish there was a door or partition to close off this area from the rest of the room. Emma Kate LOVED the bunks though and hung out on the top one all evening.

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Another thing I liked is there is complimentary wifi at the resort. I was given a password upon check in and logging on was super easy.

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Also, there are TWO outdoor pools as well as a heated spa, and a renovated fitness center. The lounge chairs at the pool looked so nice and relaxing!

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This resort also boasts over 60,000 square feet of meeting space. There are two grand ballrooms, and a catering team ready to meet your wedding, party, or business needs.

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I wish we had more time to explore the area, as there were so many things within walking distance we could have done! There is the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, the 7D Dark ride adventure, and great restaurants and shopping like Tervis, Buffalo Wild Wings, and the Sugar Factory.

Probably the best thing about this resort is the price. Rates start at just $79 per night, so it’s perfect for a quick getaway, girls weekend, or business trip.

QOTD: Have you ever stayed here? What do you look for in a resort?

Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek

I had the privilege to stay somewhere new the night before the runDisney half marathon, somewhere I honestly never thought I would stay. I am a Disney loving “stay at a Disney hotel” kind of girl, so I was a little reluctant to try out Hilton Bonnet Creek, but I am So glad I did!

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I hope to have more info for you on the actual hotel and all the activities and food and things there at the end of February, but for now I want to specifically talk to you about Marathon Weekends.

Hilton Bonnet Creek has put together a special rate for those staying for runDisney race weekends, and it comes with some great extras that are not offered at Disney owned hotels. There was also a runner’s concierge in the lobby, and they could answer questions for us, get us signed up for the bus the morning of the race, and they also had a goodie bag for us. (Note that to ride the bus to the races you have to sign up ahead of time and are given a wristband as a “ticket” for the bus to and from the race.)

Hilton Bonnet Creek is actually inside the gates of Walt Disney World, so it is super close to the parks and other Disney activities. Check out the balloon at Disney Springs you could see out my room’s window!

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Those staying with the special marathon weekend rate are also given a card that saves you 10% on hotel food and beverages during your stay. They have so many restaurant options, and even special carb loading menu items for runners.

The real magic however came on race morning, where we were greeted in the lobby with signs and our own personal cheerleaders! The music was loud, the DJ was getting everyone pumped up, and it really helped to wake me up since it was, you know, 2:45 in the morning.

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They also provided a continental breakfast for the runners. It was nice to hang out in the warmth of the lobby, chatting with other runners (and using real bathrooms!) before heading to the race start.

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I ate a protein bar, a banana, and grabbed some water. (I had brought some food with me also since I wasn’t sure what I was going to feel like eating). I was told that the reasoning behind the certain food items was that they wanted to provide things that would be easy to eat in the corrals or walking to the corrals. Smart thinking!

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We took some photos out in front of the bus and were cheered on as we boarded. It was EARLY, yall, so it was such a nice touch!

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Oh, something else I didn’t mention, all runners staying for Marathon Weekends get a late 2:00 pm checkout, how cool is that?

Please note that at this time, there is no official transportation to the 5k and 10k races or expo which was a bummer, but the runner’s concierge can help you set something up if you would like. We grabbed a cab to come back from the expo and it was quick and easy. There is also  Mears shuttle you can take to and from the airport that cost approx. $21 each way when booked online.

They also had a runners reception at the pool with rum runners at noon after the half marathon, but sadly we had a boat to catch and were not able to stay. Next time!

I give Hilton Bonnet Creek Marathon Weekends a thumbs up, and would definitely stay here again for a race weekend!

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The enthusiasm, the little touches, the breakfast, and the proximity to other Disney activities really swayed me. I think they have a good thing going here, and I sadly just learned about it last year! If you have any questions about marathon weekends, let me know and I can get the answer for you.

QOTD: Did you know this existed? What do you think about the early morning cheerleaders? Who wants to stay here now?!?

Disclosure: I was provided a free stay to check out marathon weekends for myself, however all opinions are my own.

Around Coronado Springs

Last week, I wrote a post about Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, a moderate resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. A lot of people really like this price range, so I thought I would feature some shots from around the grounds of Coronado Springs today.

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Coronado is another moderate, and it’s rooms sleep 4. It is a BIG spread out resort with multiple bus stops, but it is beautiful as you can see from the photos below. There are different themed “villages” that have a very different look from each other. There is a sit down restaurant, lounge, counter service food location, multiple pools, among other features.

There is a playground for the little mouseketeers.

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and an AMAZING pool area with water slide!

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They have an arcade as well near the pool area.

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Who wants to play in the sand?

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The sprawling resort centers around a large lake. Thankfully, there are many bus stops and an internal bus system so you don’t have to walk to the main building to get on a bus.

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There is plenty of space to sit outdoors, too.

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Look who you can find at the main building

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This place is a runner’s dream!

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Want to stay at Coronado Springs or have questions about another Disney resort? I would be happy to help you plan! Email [email protected] for free help!

QOTD: What is your favorite moderate resort at Disney?

Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside

Good morning! A lot of people are starting to book their hotels for runDisney events, and I have been getting a lot of emails from folks asking for help on where to stay, so I thought I would do a few hotel reviews to help those out headed to a runDisney event, or just headed out on vacation.

Port Orleans Riverside is in the moderate resort category (below deluxe and above value). It is a hot commodity because it is one of two moderate resorts that sleep 5 people over the age of 3 (values only sleep 4).

It is a beautiful and relaxing resort with a laid back atmosphere and southern charm. The “hub” of the resort centers around the check in area, food court, lounge, restaurant, and gift shop. The below photo is the other side that faces the marina.

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There is one feature pool at this resort complete with waterslide and a pool bar. There are also quiet pools throughout the resort.

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Port Orleans Riverside is divided up into two sections, Alligator Bayou and the mansions. Alligator Bayou has cute touches from the Princess and the frog, and has a very woodsy/country feel.

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Below you can see a photo of the pull down trundle bed available in some rooms for a 5th person.

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Across the river you will find the mansions. They are very majestic looking sitting on the riverbank. Most of the rooms have a very southern feel, and then there are a group of “royal rooms” which happen to be my personal favorite.

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The royal rooms cost a little extra, but pack a big punch. Fireworks over the beds, and cute Disney touches everywhere.

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These rooms are in a preferred (aka close to the main buildings) section of the resort. However, there is more than one bus stop so even if you are further away you don’t have to walk to the front of the resort to catch a bus to the parks! However, this is a big resort (2048 rooms!) so paying extra for a preferred location is something I recommend.

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All rooms have either two queens of a king bed (king bed is a separate bookable category) and have double sinks, flat screen TV’s, a coffee maker and refrigerator.

Another perk of this resort is the ability to take the boat to Downtown Disney instead of a bus. It’s a scenic relaxing ride and a nice change of pace if you aren’t in a hurry to get somewhere.

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This is my favorite moderate resort, we stayed here for Princess this past year and it worked out great for the race!

QOTD: Do you prefer a quiet relaxed resort or one right in the middle of the action?

If you have any questions about this resort or any others, feel free to email me at [email protected] for details, and vacation booking help.