United States

Aloha Maui

Our family just came home from a wonderful 10 days in Maui! My husband and daughters had never been, and it had been over 20 years since I had last visited.

AMAZING isn't enough to describe our time. We started our trip out at a beautiful condo on the Wailea side of the island. We were so happy with the beautiful beaches and our condo that we NEVER left but for a few short hours to head for lunch over in Lahina! We lunched at Kimo's. It was excellent! That was our one and only outing except when we left the condo after 7 days and headed over to The Grand Wailea.

Nikki was AMAZING to help us plan 4 wonderful and relaxing days at this resort to end our trip with a BANG! The resort was so family friendly. We never left the pool! HA!!! We experienced the Wailea luau the second night of our stay and it was such a great experience. 

I would highly recommend Maui when traveling with your family. After meeting so many families on the beaches, we definitely heard that was the BEST island to travel to with the family in tow. Aloha! 

~Chesney S.

Schmidt Grand Wailea.jpg

REVIEW- Juneau Whale Watching

Combo Tour Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier

 I reserved this shore excursion for my husband and I through ShoreTrips. com, one of my preferred vendors for shore excursions. I did not want to pick a Cruise Ship provided tour for whale watching, as I wanted something smaller and more intimate. I was so happy with Dolphin Jet Boats! Everything was on time, professional, and safe. I would recommend this tour for anyone looking for a great opportunity to see Whales.

Our tour started with check in at the tram stations. The bus left promptly at our departure time and there was a short 15-minute ride to the marina. Our bus driver was Alicia and she was amazing! It was so wonderful to her about her life (as a race car driver, school bus driver, and driver for Dolphin Jet Boats). She also did a wonderful job of explaining different sites in Juneau to us, pointing out wildlife, and talking about the history of the town. 


At the docks in Auke Bay we met with our captain Derek and Naturalist Michelle. They took us to your boat. It fit 30 people, was enclosed with windows that opened and shut, as well as viewing decks in the front and rear of the boat. After receiving our safety instructions we headed out in the bay to look for whales. We were one of the first expeditions of the day at 3pm and our guides didn’t know exactly where the whales would be for the day. 

It was about a 10-minute ride until we started to see a few whale watching boats gathered together. Once Michelle and Derek saw there were whales in the area they slowed the boat way down and opened the front and back viewing sections. There was plenty of space for the 30 of us to spread out and everyone had room to move. I was so happy with my choice in whale watching provider, as some of the boats near us were very large with people crammed out on deck to try to get a good view. 

 On our trip we got to see some amazing Humpback Whales bubble net feeding. There were at least 8 whales feeding together. Normally humpback whales are solitary animals, but they have learned to get together to herd fish into a group. They then dive below the fish, and approach from below shooting straight up with their mouths open to get as many fish into their mouths as they can. We saw this happen about 5 different times. It was an amazing site to see. Michelle informed us that this bubble net feeding is very rare, and she herself has only seen it a few times in her 2 years of hosting whale tours. 

Humpback Whales-bubble net feeding.

Humpback Whales-bubble net feeding.

 While on the boat we were offered bagels with salmon cream cheese, soda, coffee, water and hot chocolate. We spent a wonderful 60-90 minutes out with the whales and then headed back to shore. On our way back in we stopped by a marker buoy that had a small group of seals lounging around on it. Once at the docks we boarded our bus again and headed off to the Mendenhall Glacier

 It was a 15-minute ride to Mendenhall Glacier. On the drive there Michelle did a great job at giving some details about living in Juneau, such as how everything comes in by barge or plane. In the winters there is 1 barge a week, but in the summers there can be 2-3 barges a week.  Included in the tour was a wrist band for the visitors center at the Mendenhall Glacier.  At the glacier it was very rainy for our time, but still beautiful to see. There was a great visitors center with park rangers to answer ay questions you might have. They also did several small presentations, and there was a 20-minute movie playing in a nice theater. 

On the way back it was about a 25 minute trip to the port area. Michelle again did a wonderful job at pointing out wildlife, talking about life in Juneau, and explaining the sites along the way. The bus did 3 different drop offs for each of the different docking areas for the cruise ship.

Dolphin Jet Boats did a wonderful job with this shore excursion. I would recommend them if you are looking for a small whale watching tour, that is on time, clean, and has friendly staff!

The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel in NYC

I had the privilege of staying at The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel last week in New York City. This hotel is BRAND new only opening in August.

I have nothing but great things to say about this hotel. The building is amazing, and has such a rich history! (The US debut of Shakespeare's Hamlet was performed here, Edgar Allen Poe wrote here and it was the first skyscraper in NYC to have elevators!)

The decor is rich and inviting. The rooms well appointed and spacious.

What really sets this hotel apart is its staff! They are all so welcoming, personable, and approachable! Their staff is available via text for any issues, and concierge recommendations. SO HANDY when you are out in the city all day and want a restaurant recommendation! I loved that we were able to get a text on our check in date, confirming my room request I submitted, as well as when our room would be available!

If you are looking for somewhere new to stay in the city, The Beekman is it! It is located on the South End of Manhattan island, walking distance to the up and coming Seaport district, financial district and World Trade Center. As with most hotels it is less than a 5 minute walk to a Subway station that has access to a variety of lines.

We had only a small issue with getting our room refreshed during our stay. The staff was very apologetic, sent up a HAND WRITTEN note, and a few goodies.

The AC went out one evening, we called the front desk and within 10 minutes a pleasant maintenance man was at our door, and fixed the problem in under 5 minutes.

I know there are TONs of hotels in NYC, but I don't know if I could go back again, and NOT stay at the Beekman!