Sheila Gallant-Halloran

Made-to-measure travel; please, go away! :-)

Drive a Ferrari through Tuscany

[tweetmeme]

What’s on your bucket list?

Ever picture yourself behind the wheel of a Ferrari? How about in control of a Ferrari F430 Spider F1, accelerating it through the steep, windy hills of Tuscany?

I can help you get that feeling of exhiliration and the wind blowing through your hair. A Canadian tour operator I work with (Victours) offers several tours (1, 3, or 5 days in length) that lets you drive different models of Ferraris through Italy. Their self-drive tours offer “absolute luxury combined with the ultimate Gran Turismo experience…  Each tour is a sublime blend of art, fashion, architecture, gastronomy, and spectacular scenery. ”

Their one day tours have you driving a Ferrari for a day, starting in Florence and winding through the country side to San Gimignano, Siena and back. The 1-day Chianti & Mille Miglia Ferrari tour is described in the pdf link below – it is priced at $3450 per person, and the tours run upon request.

Come live la Dolce Vita!

1 Day Chianti

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July 31, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush Life Planes, Trains, & Automobiles | Leave a comment

Disney Dining for Free

[tweetmeme]Disney’s “free dining” promo is their most popular promo. And it’s on now!

If you buy a vacation package with hotel and park tickets, you can get a Disney Dining Plan for FREE! Value resort guests get the “quick service” plan free; and moderate/ deluxe resort guests get the regular dining plan free. 

The current booking window is : May 3 – Aug. 14, 2010; and the travel window is: Valid for stays most nights Aug, 15 – Oct. 7, Oct. 22 –  28, Nov. 12 -18, Nov. 27 – Dec. 2, and Dec. 10 – 21  in 2010. So – there are blackouts for higher traffic times (Canadian or US thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, etc.)

Of course, there’s no way of knowing when these promo beauties will ever be announced. Disney execs play the numbers game, figure out who’s going to be in the parks when, and what they need to do to attract more feet  in the park. And the “free dining” promo brings folks in.

The current promo is sweet. Generally, the “free dining” promos occur in the fall, when it’s hurricane season, and the kiddies are back in school. The past two years, though, with the recession in the US, the dining promos have creeped into August, and have been extended into the late fall/ early winter; and more. So, you can dine with the princesses (and other characters) for free.

Disney has come up with a menu of dining plan options, and you can get lost in the quick service, regular dining, deluxe dining, and even wine-and-dine add ons. Every family has different needs and interests, but I recommend my clients look first at the regular dining plan (what Disney calls the “Magic Your Way Package plus Dining” vacation plan).

With the regular dining plan, you get credits that are loaded up on your resort room key like a prepaid credit card – you can spend the credits whenever and wherever you like. For each night of stay, each person over 3 gets the following credits (kids under 3 can eat off mom and dad’s plate):

*one table service meal (think regular restaurant-type sitdown meal, ordered from menu)

*one quick-service (think counter-service meal, Disney’s equivalent to MacDonald’s)

*one snack (think bottle of water, piece of fruit, or ice cream)

Gratuities are generally not included, and children 3 – 9 must choose from a children’s menu, where available.

The regular dining plan is something my family always gets – regardless of whether it is during a promo period. We find it extremely good value for our eating patterns. So when something that we normally get is being offered for free, it is a tremendous value.

The regular dining plan is usually ~$42 USD/ night for anyone over 10 years old, and ~$12 USD/ night for anyone 3-9 years old. (On really peak times, they’ll increase these amounts.)  So, for my family of 4 (2 adults, 1 junior>10, and 1 child 3-9), the free dining promo gives us an extra $138 USD/ night to spend elsewhere. That’s a savings of $966 USD on a one-week vacation. (If your family of 4 has 2 adults and 2 teens, that’s a savings of $1176 USD on a week.)

There is plenty of choice, since there are over 100 restaurants around Walt Disney World (the 4 major theme parks, the resort hotels, etc.) that participate in the dining plan, so there are plenty of options. However, advance dining reservations are recommended for the table-service spots (and I help my clients with that) because the “free dining” promo does bring the people to the park –  you can’t just walk in to a spot and get a table for dinner (unless you luck into a cancellation, or are prepared to wait several hours).

My own family finds there is plenty of food on the regular dining plan (especially if we eat at a character buffet meal). Course, you can always supplement the dining plan credits if your family’s eating habits are different (pay out of pocket for extras, or choose when and where to “spend” your dining credits), and/or if you find you really need 3 sit-down meals each day, you  can upgrade to the deluxe dining plan.

But there is no argument – Disney giving your family $1000 USD in meals to come visit Mickey is a delectable offer.

July 29, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Food, WIne & Spas | 3 Comments

Honouring Captain Cook in Corner Brook

Corner Brook is the unmined diamond of the west coast of Newfoundland, Canada. It’s secret beauty is understood and documented, even if not openly excavated on the world stage -much like Captain James Cook’s work here. 

Captain Cook was a British navigator,explorer, and cartographer who surveyed the coast of Newfoundland in the 1760s. Cook used Corner Brook as his base. His success using precise triangulation to build marine charts of Newfoundland heightened his profile with the British Admirality, and led to his later ventures in the South Pacific. His maps of the coast’s topography were amazingly accurate, and were used for hundreds of years.

Crow Hill in Curling, Corner Brook, is home to the Captain Cook memorial, a National Historic site.

 

 

 

Crow Hill gives exquisite views of the Bay of Islands and the city of Corner Brook. The historic site honours Captain James Cook’s exploits in Newfoundland – but it also honours the beautiful city I’m proud to call home.

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations | Leave a comment

A Whale of a time in Wales

[tweetmeme] I toured North Wales with Idwal Jones of  www.countrylanetours.com a few months ago. Idwal gave me (along with a few travel agent friends) a private tour of his homeland, and we had a terrific time.

He  picked us up in his 16-person motor coach in Manchester, and drove us to Llandudno, Wales. We stayed in the glorious seaside hotel of St. George’s. I opened my eyes to see the pretty little resort town and the palm trees swaying in December.

 

Stepping off that bus and stepping into the town of Llandudno, and the St. George’s Hotel, gives you the sense that you’ve stepped into a Victorian novel.

We toured the Great Ormes.

We toured neighbouring towns, and visited a potter’s house, a woolen mill, and a slate museum.

 

We toured pubs…

were serenaded by townsfolk, sung to by a Welsh choir, and even feted for a birthday at Bodysgallen…

and we toured castles. 

We had a whale of a time in Wales!

 

July 27, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations | Leave a comment

What’s on your “bucket list?”

[tweetmeme] Have you seen the 2007 movie “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson? http://thebucketlist.warnerbros.com/

The plot is summarized on  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0825232/ as “two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.”  Attention grabbing. Inspiring. Nothing like the hangmans’s noose to focus the mind, right?

The movie, of course, got me, and millions like me, thinking about how I want to spend my time. It made me realize I was already kinda living a “bucket list” life… I take my motivation from that Hugh Mulligan quote: “What I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.”  Every day I spend brings me closer to the day I kick the bucket, so I have to invest wisely. 

When I had my children late in life, I re-evaluated how I wanted to spend my time, and whom I wanted to spend it wth. I chose to move away from a career in financial services, and focus on travel.  I chose to stop counting dead people (as an actuary), and start helping people live (with travel).   I chose a world of magical places, wow experiences, and adventure; over a world that had been mired in life expectancies, liability matching, and present values. 

You could say I’m still focussed on death, and the “bucket list”… but now it really is about the journey, rather than the destination. And travel is very important to my “bucket list” life. I want to see the world, and have fun helping others see it too.  

But I haven’t abandoned the actuarial mind completely. I did actually create a “bucket list” – a list of magical places to see, wow experiences to have, and adventures to try.

Participating in an online tweetup today with other folks who love to travel helped focus the mind again. The weekly chat is held every Thursday at 3:30 est, and is called #tni – or “traveller’s night in.”  It is run by the folks at http://www.zipsetgo.com/travelers-night , and each week there is a different topicl You have to answer 10 questions in 10 minutes – you post your responses, and then engage in dialogue with others, get inspired, and learn. 

This week’s topic was “bucket lists!”

I already know my answers to the quesions posed today. What would your answers be? 

1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

2. What is the most disappointing item you’ve already scratched off your bucket list?

3. What is the bucket list item have you scratched that you’d love to repeat?

4. Who is the one person you’d take to experience your bucket list with?

5. What is the one thing you can’t wait to eat from a bucket list destination?

6. How has your bucket list changed since you’ve started travelling?

7. What natural wonders have you seen? Would like to see?

8. What is the most adventurous / extreme thing on your bucket list?

9. What is the most unique to-do on your bucket list?

10. If you had 1 week to live, where would you go?

Makes you think, right? 

Join the #tni online tweetup… travel folks will get you making lists, but will also help you focus on a “bucket list” kinda life! And remember the quote: “What I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.” 

What’s on your bucket list?

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Other Items | 2 Comments

Be a tourist at home – Ottawa’s foodie scene is a happenin’

[tweetmeme]I was recently reminded that being a tourist at home is a wonderful thing. My adopted city of Ottawa rightly boasts of its terrific canal, manicured bike paths, scenic hiking trails, and vibrant summer festival schedule; but I’m getting reacquainted with its pleasures on the food scene. (Blame it on my having two young kids… we’ve only recently graduated from paper tablecloths at dine out spots).

A few weeks ago, Paola St.-Georges and Andrée Riffou of C’est Bon Cooking invited me to attend their beta foodie’s tour of Ottawa’s Byward Market. These two ladies are a force to be reckoned with – Paola St.-Georges is a masterful tour guide, and is passionate about helping others discover all of the market’s treasures. Chef Andrée Riffou is a Cordon Bleu Chef, with a wonderfully honed business background. Together, they’ve crafted a terrific tour that seems designed for Ottawans like me who like good food (or remember it…:-)…) and want to get to know all their city better. For $45/ person, it’s a steal of a price.

Summer tours are running on Thursday and Saturday mornings. Just make sure you have good walking shoes for a brisk 2.5 hour jaunt through the Byward Market, and don’t eat a huge breakfast before you go. With Paola and Andrée guiding you, you’ll discover new spots, and sample some delectable treats.

The tour will surely evolve, and its list of stops/ vendors may change depending on the day, but the tour I took started at Métropolitain Brasserie and ended at Murray Street Restaurant.

I toured several restaurants (like Courtyard, where we chatted with Chef Michael Hay, and sampled his tomato and cucumber gazpacho with roasted red pepper sorbet and argan oil – yum)

I visited several Ottawa stores and grocery shops – spots I may have peaked in before, but now have a much better appreciation for all they have to offer (including House of Cheese with its Appenzeller cheese, Byward Fruit Market with its terrific displays…)

And, I’m wondering how it’s possible that I never knew of La Bottega Nicastro before? (If you want a true foodie’s perspective on this shop, I met Don and Jenn @foodieprints on this beta tour – check out their awesome blog post and pics. http://www.foodieprints.com/item/2677 )

 

I basically noshed while I learned. A terrific way to spend a couple of hours!

C’est Bon Cooking will be organizing other Ottawa area food tours (I believe Beechwood and Wellington West are in the offering), and they do team building courses and cooking lessons as well. Give Paola or Andrée a call, and they can give you full details. http://cestboncooking.ca/

But, by all means, be a tourist at home. Ottawa’s foodie scene is a happenin’.

Photos are courtesy of Christine Tripp of Tripp Photography. See Christine’s full slideshow of snaps of this tour at her facebook page, or contact her at her website. http://www.tripphotography.com/

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations | 5 Comments

How to save on roaming charges when traveling – guest blogger: Danny Starr

[tweetmeme]Today, I have a special guest blogger, Danny Starr of Roam Mobility. Danny is sharing his expertise: “How to save on roaming charges when travelling.”  Thanks, Danny.  (Please contact Danny for solutions to your roaming charges when traveling! His contact details are at the end of the post.)

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There have been lots of stories in the news recently about travelers returning home to enormous mobile phone bills that are the direct result of using a mobile phone while abroad.  The reason for this is that mobile phone companies usually charge their customers higher rates for usage outside of the country in which the customer signed up for the service.  These fees are commonly known as roaming charges.  Unfortunately, most travelers don’t know until it is too late that there are lots of options available to help them save on roaming charges.

Here are some helpful tips to help you save on roaming charges and keep you connected while you’re away. 

Understand What Your Roaming Rates Are

Most travelers have no idea what their current mobile provider is going to be charging them for roaming service because they don’t spend the time to check with their provider before they travel.  Visit your mobile provider’s website and call their customer service reps to find out what you are going to pay for text, voice and data services while you are away as these rates will most likely be different than your current rates.  Calling the customer service department is recommended because websites often contain errors or inaccurate information.  Be sure to ask about both incoming and outgoing text messages and voice calls because the rates may vary for each of them.  Compare these rates to your domestic rates so that you can understand how much extra you are being charged.  Ask if your plan includes international roaming or not as some plans may include international text, voice and data. 

Understanding what you are going to be charged for using your mobile phone while you are away is an important first step in being able to make informed decisions about which option for savings is best for you.  Rates can be confusing so be sure to spend the time that you need to ensure that you know what they are.

Purchase an international roaming package

The majority of mobile carriers will have international roaming packages designed specifically for travelers so you should ask your mobile service provider if there is a plan that you can purchase in advance of leaving for your trip.  Be sure to ask your provider if the plan includes both incoming and outgoing calls in your destination country and if it only applies to one specific country.  Typical plans involve a set price for a specific number of roaming minutes.  The advantage of these plans is that they allow you to use your existing mobile phone and so you don’t have to give your contacts a different number before you travel. 

Be advised that you should do the necessary calculations to determine how the package’s rates compare to your current rates and the international rates without the package so that you can assess how good of a “deal” you are getting.  Ask what the rates are if you go over and above what you have purchased in case you use your phone more often than you expected.  You should also inquire if the terms of the plan have any type of expiry date and what happens to any unused minutes as many of these plans will often have a limited time frame associated with them and minutes will often expire if they are not used.

Purchase/rent a phone or SIM card for the destination country

In advance of your travel or when you arrive, you have the option of purchasing a mobile phone with a SIM card in your destination country.  SIM stands for Subscribe Identify Module and SIM cards can be thought of as a driver’s license for mobile phones.  It tells the network who you are and enables you to send and receive voice, text messages and data.  In order to use a different SIM card in your current mobile phone, your phone needs to be unlocked.  Unlocked phones are not overly common in North America as most of the mobile companies sell phones at a discount and lock the user into their network by locking the phone. 

Purchasing a mobile phone and/or SIM card can be expensive but could be worthwhile depending on the length of your stay.  It is worth mentioning at this point that if you take the phone you purchase outside of the country where you purchased it, you will incur roaming charges so this option is best for those people who need a phone for only one country. 

If you have an unlocked phone with your domestic carrier, you could purchase a SIM card for your destination country and use it in your own mobile phone.  In this case, you will have many of the same benefits and issues as if you had purchased a mobile phone in your destination country however you will have saved the purchase price of a mobile phone.  It is important to remember that you will not be able to use your old phone number because you have replaced the SIM card and in some countries it is impossible to purchase a SIM card unless you are a resident. 

Regardless of which route you take, one issue with this option is that won’t have the phone number that people can contact you at in your destination country until you have activated the SIM card, which can be an inconvenience. 

 Use Voice Over IP (VOIP) services such as SKYPE

If you have a computer and broadband internet access, you can save considerably on calls with voice-over-IP (VOIP) services.  SKYPE is one of the most popular and well known VOIP services available and can be downloaded for free.  VOIP calls can be inexpensive or free but you should be sure to check in advance if you need to add credit to your account and exactly which types of calls are free.  For example, calls on SKYPE to other SKYPE accounts are free yet there is a charge for calls to landlines or mobile phones.  One potential issue with VOIP services is that they usually require a broadband internet connection which may be an issue in some countries.  Some smartphones will allow you to use a VOIP application with a WIFI connection to make outgoing calls however you still need to ensure that you have a broadband internet connection if it is required.  VOIP calls on smartphone applications using data connections tend to be expensive because of the amount of data required and call quality can be issue given current network speeds. 

Purchase an unlocked phone and global roaming SIM card

A newer development in North America is the rising popularity global roaming SIM cards.  If your existing phone is unlocked you will only need the SIM card however most companies that sell global roaming SIM cards will also offer unlocked phones.   Be sure to shop around and make sure that you are purchasing a SIM card that matches your travel patterns as some companies sell SIM cards for specific countries or regions while other companies will sell a single card that can be used almost anywhere in the world.  Even though roaming rates are often much less expensive with a global roaming SIM card, it is important that you spend time reviewing what those rates are because they can vary from provider to provider.  It is also important that you find out if calls are subject to a connection charge, as connection charges can add to the cost of each call that you make and this can add up over time.  Also be sure to understand if calling credits have any sort of expiry or restriction on them and if you can easily add credits to your account. 

Global roaming SIM cards can be purchased and activated in advance of your trip.  This means that you will get a phone number (or more than one phone number) for that SIM card, so you can share your contact information before you leave on your trip.   It is important for you to know what the country is that your phone number is from because your contacts will have to pay to reach that number.                        

About the Author:  Danny Starr is the Vice President of East Coast Sales and Marketing for Roam Mobility.  Connect with him on Twitter @dannystarr or @roammobility.  See www.roammobility.com

July 19, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Guest Bloggers, Lush LIfe Top Posts, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

Think about packing…

[tweetmeme]Packing for a week or two getaway can seem overwhelming… especially if you have children. It can seem like you have to lug half your home with you.  Think about these tips. They might just ease your pain! 

1. Think about the old adage: bring half the clothes, and twice the money. 

2. Think about only using carry ons.  Theoretically, sound advice. Who wouldn’t want to avoid fees,  lost luggage, and the bag carousel? Works well … if you can : pack wisely, respect airline size restrictions, easily lift it overhead, don’t mind overstuffed bins, aren’t packing liquids or gels, and are fine either wearing the same outfit/using hotel laundry services or buying clothes at destination (that “twice the money” thing is helpful here) . 

3.  Think about each child having their own carry on. They have to pack it. They are responsible for carrying/ rolling it. They can put a book or two, a toy, a snack, and other items they think are vital.

4. Think about carry on essentials. If you’re hitting your destination, and your checked bag is delayed; do you have your medicine, a toothbrush, a bathing suit, and a change of clothes?

5. Think about what you’re checking. Know your airline’s baggage policies and fees. Weigh your bags empty. Most rolling suitcases weigh 20-25 lbs before you start to pack. When you’re stuck with a 50 lb limit, you’re already half-way done. If you don’t care about style, a duffel bag weighs next to nothing – allows you to pack sleep toys, blanky, favourite books, extra clothes for wee ones without worry.

6.  Think about the rule of 3. If you do have access to laundry at destination, pack at least 3 of each item for children- that way they can have 1 dirty, 1 on, and 1 spare.

7. Think about ditching the suitcase lock. If you have to open a suitcase, you’ll never have the key when you need it. And even if you’re super organized… others will likely have a key to your suitcase lock too. There’s very little theft, but someone motivated to steal wouldn’t be stopped by either a universal-key lock or any other kind. An inspector who picks your bag for a random search certainly wouldn’t be stopped either – if they can’t easily open the lock, they’ll cut it. Don’t give yourself a false sense of security with a suitcase lock. If an item is important, carry it on. If it’s not, put it in the checked bags, and ditch the lock.

8. Think about tags. Your bag needs to have your identifying info on the outside – use the airline bag tags. But those little tags can go missing too – so make sure you have your personal contact info somewhere on the inside as well.  And, keep your airline’s luggage stubs they give you at check in – they’ll be essential for tracking any pieces of luggage that go missing.

9. Think about having to identify your bag. The number of black suitcases that rotate on every luggage carousel is dizzying. They all look alike. If you don’t want to load and unload several bags trying to find yours, and would rather not buy a fuchsia leopard print suitcase, think of another way to make your bag stand out. Maybe put some reflective tape on the handle, or tie a brightly coloured piece of string to it?

10. Think about having to carry everything by yourself. It’s easy to look for a porter, a valet, or even a luggage cart carrel at an airport or at destination – but what if one isn’t readily available, or you don’t have the right currency? If you are stuck walking even a small distance with all of your carry ons, checked bags, and children; can you manage? If not, reduce your load.

Think about packing. It will make the vacation much more enjoyable.

July 17, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice | Leave a comment

Soarin’ thru Disney – quashing the planning myths!

[tweetmeme]It’s true – I LOVE Disney.  My family’s been 17 times. It’s our vacation spot of choice. And I love helping other families plan their vacations so that they go soarin’ thru Disney.

And while a ride (or 4) on Soarin’ in Epcot should be on everyone’s must-do list at Disney, I’m not suggesting you need an actual hang glider to navigate through the maze of a Disney vacation! Unless, of course, you let me be your metaphorical hang glider! 🙂

Advance planning is the way to go!  How else can you enjoy your immersion in Disney’s 47 square miles of theme park and recreational fun?

First idea you have to quash – you can’t see and do everything in one trip. In my 17 visits, I’m nowhere near done my Disney discovery. There are still places to explore, restaurants to try,  and “hidden Mickeys” to find. However, I’ve gained knowledge from Disney training, planned vacations for hundreds of families, and of course, tested it all with oodles of personal experience.  And I can help you.

Second idea you have to quash – planning takes all the fun out of it. Look – Disney is an awesome place.  You can  just be plunked down in the middle of it all, not know where you’re going, and still have a good vacation. You’d still be at Disney, right?  But, if you take some time to plan, and work with me before you go, you can have an absolutely FANTASTIC time. I know that you have to plan enough so as to maximize your fun, but not too much that you sacrifice flexibility. After 17 trips to Disney, I’ve found that if I know the schedules of each park, I can organize my days to take advantage of the extra magic hours; and can then plan our attack each day. This still leaves lots of gaps for pool time, or riding Soarin’  over and over again because there are no lines. 

Third idea you have to quash – it’s too much work to plan. It can be, if you’re doing it by yourself. But why would you when you have your own personal hang glider at your service? 🙂 When I plan a trip for Disney clients, I ask a lot of questions. I find out the memories they are looking to take away from this vacation, whether they have any previous experiences, their family configuration (adult/ child mix, ages),  the preferred activities/ interests of the family, whether they want to cook or have their meals provided, the time they want to spend commuting versus being at the park,  the types of accommodations they prefer, and their preferred dates to travel (and determine whether there are any promos on or near that period).

I take that info and recommend a hotel. Disney has 22 hotels on property that range from value to super deluxe. They also have vacation club condos/ time shares that they rent out to the public as hotel rooms, and self-contained wilderness cabins with picnic tables and BBQs.

Once the transportation and the property is sorted, I make recommendations on the park pass (get the longest day count, and buy the park hopper pass), and advise clients about purchasing the dining plan. Then we get everything booked.

However, booking the vacation package is not the end of my assistance. That’s just when the fun starts. 

I build a customized excel spreadsheet for each client’s vacation. Ok – I’m an actuary by training, so I’m can be a little over-analytical. 🙂  But I don’t plan my vacations down to the minute, and I wouldn’t do that for my clients either. What works for my family, works for my clients.

I customize an excel spreadsheet for the days of the vacation – noting the regular park hours for each of the 4 major theme parks, as well as the “extra magic hours” that are available to only Disney onsite guests. I plunk in the hours for each of the theme park’ parades, fireworks, and special events. I also assist clients with their advance dining reservations, and can help you get character and other dining reservations. 

Imagine stepping off the plane in Orlando, and you know that Magic Kingdom is open early, and you already have a breakfast reservation with Chef Mickey’s; and Epcot is open late, and the San Angel Inn in the Mexican pavilion will have your table ready for you after that fast pass for Soarin’.   Think that would add some magic to your Disney vacation?

July 13, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Kids, Lush Life Value - Why Use a Travel Advisor | 1 Comment

Anguilla’s “1,2” punch: the Southern Shore beaches

[tweetmeme]Anguilla (rhymes with va-NILL-a) is the Eastern Caribbean, 146 miles east of Puerto Rico, and 11 miles north of St. Martin/ St. Maarten. This little “eel” shaped island (its name is derived from the Spanish and French words) is long and narrow, and only 16×3 miles in size, but despite being small, it packs a powerful punch.

Being in the Leeward Islands brings the island almost constant breeze, with little rainfall or humidity. Temperatures hover around 80 degrees Farenheit year round. Christmas time is peak season, as northerners escape their winter, which makes summer time discount season for all – so if you haven’t sorted your summer vacation yet, give me a call: there are terrific deals to be had.

The island has more than 40 miles of coastline with spectacular beaches that have been ranked as the world’s best. As written by Conde Nast Traveller: “Many Caribbean islands would be grateful for just one of Anguilla’s estimated 33 powder-white beaches.”

Anguilla’s beaches really pack a wallop with a “1,2” punch – the nothern shore beaches offers the “1” punch (see earlier blog post), and the southern shore offers the “2” punch.

Some highlights of the southern shore beaches:

* Shoal Bay West offers a wide, sandy, and gently sloping beach that is secluded and private. Gentle breaks make good for swimming and excellent snorkelling. It is home to several highend, luxurious villas. Many celebrities own property at Cove Castles (Denzel Washington, the Bronfman family), and some smaller units are available for public rental. I toured another luxurious villa called Altamer in this bay (and it’s become infamous as the locale where Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston broke up).

* Maunday’s Bay is home to award-winning Cap Juluca resort (which is perenially on Conde Nast’s Gold List, and was again in 2010). The beach itself is long, wide, and calm; and excellent for long romantic strolls. Cap Juluca is one of the only spots on Anguilla that serves dinner right on the beach, and the Friday Beach Buffet Dinner I had at Blue was fabulous.

 

 

*Cove Bay is between Maunday’s Bay and Rendezvous Bay. It offers a mile long, peaceful beach with moderate surf. It is perfect for walking, sunning, and swimming; and is a favourite with children. Smokey’s restaurant serves local cuisine, and we spent a terrific Saturday afternoon eating Anguillian lobster (which is quite strange to this Newfoundland, as the Anguillian lobster has no claws), drinking Red Stripe, and listening to a local band.

*Merrywing Bay is narrow beach with small swim area with gentle surf, perfect for sunning and swimming. It offers spectacular views, and is the location of the Temenos Golf Club designed by Greg Norman. The golf club is being managed by Cap Juluca.

*Rendezvous Bay is the longest beach on Anguilla. It is perfect for romantic strolls, has gentle sandy curves, and an easy surf and coral that is perfecting for swimming, floating, and snorkelling.  This bay is home to Anguilla Great House, CuisinArt, and Bankie Banks. The Saturday afternoon I was at RendezVous,  there were just 4 people on the beach. 

 

 

CuisinArt on RendezVous also perenially makes the Conde Nast’s gold list, and did as well in 2010. It even nosed out Cap Juluca in points this year, and I may give it a slight edge in my rankings too – although it’s pretty close! Like Cap Juluca, CuisinArt has the beach, fine dining, and amenities – as well as a hydroponic farm, and world class spa. But I think I had the best meal of my tour at CuisinArt’s Santorini’s, and that left a lingering mouth-watering impression.

 

*Other notable spots: Blowing point is home to ferry port to/from St. Martin with ferries every 30 minutes. Little Harbour is very serene, with a tiny narrow short beach and almost no surf – it is perfect for swimming and beginning sunfish sailing. And Sandy Hill Bay is good for an early morning swim, with shoal protection giving it almost no surf. 

So, come check out Anguilla.  Its Southern Shore beaches give it the “2” punch – and I’m sure will knock you out!

July 11, 2010 Posted by | Lush Life Destinations, Lush LIfe Top Posts | 2 Comments