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  1. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    7 must-visit events in Barbados

    If you’re thinking of visiting the Caribbean soon and want to choose an island of the livelier variety: we recommend Barbados. Not only does Barbados boast beautiful beaches and perfect blue waters, but the island is also home to myriad festivals and events. 2018 has been a particularly great year with more planned before December hits, plus the 2019 calendar is already filling up. Here are just seven of the best events to attend in Barbados. Food and Rum Festival – (18th – 21st October 2018) Barbados is considered the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, so it only seems fitting to start our list with a food festival. Every October the organisers pull together a selection of events designed to excite the taste buds while offering a variety of other colourful experiences to stimulate the other senses. This year join the UK’s celebrated Michelin Star Chef Tom Aikens in Barbados for an amazing four-day experience. The line-up includes: · Thursday Festival Opening with the Oistins Bay Gardens Cook-Off · Signature Rum Event · Saturday afternoon Polo Rum Spirits, and canapes · Fine dining events on Saturday night that pair international chefs with local top chefs · Beach Party at the Hilton Resort Barbados along with a final fine dining dinner at a signature local restaurant. Open Water Festival - (7th – 11th November 2018) The waters that surround Barbados are absolutely sublime and offer perfect swimming conditions. Every year, in early November, Carlisle Bay comes alive with hundreds of swimmers from all over the world as they take part in the Barbados Open Water Festival. The 2018 event will offer 1.5K, 5K and 10K swims. Swimming conditions and the beauty of the island aside, there is a wonderful camaraderie among the swimmers at this event with its laidback island-life setting and the highly popular pre-event practices and social sessions leading up to the swim races. It’s this mix of fun and competition in a remarkable location that has resulted in excellent reviews and many repeat visitors. Run Barbados Marathon Weekend - (7th – 9th December) If you’re looking for a scenic place to go for a morning jog, Barbados certainly ticks the boxes. The route for the 2018 Run Barbados Marathon Weekend includes Bay Street where the Government Headquarters and the Prime Minister's office are located, Carlisle Bay, Bridgetown Boardwalk, Kensington Oval, Charles Duncan O'Neal Bridge, Independence Square, and – of course – beautiful views of the Caribbean Sea. Barbados Sailing Week - (16th – 24th January) Sailing has a long history in Barbados with the first organised race around Barbados held on January 1st 1936. Starting at the Barbados Cruising Club, the route leaves through the historic Carlisle Bay, passes the deep water harbour and then begins a 20-mile tight reach in calm water up the platinum coast of Barbados passing the homes of the rich and famous. Then it curves around the top of the island where sailors will pass the Atlantic Ocean, and will face a good 7 miles of tricky currents, wind shifts and big waves. Eventually, they will slide down the 18-mile long south cost and finish up at the south-west point of Barbados. Sugar & Rum Season - (February 15th – March 31st) Both sugar and rum form a significant part of the Barbadian Heritage, and this festival invites you to experience the history of both. From rum distillery tours to sugar and rum cooking classes, chocolate making classes, mixology shows, spa treatments, street and beach parties, cane factory, windmill and rum shop tours, the Barbados Sugar and Rum Season is steeped in history and authenticity. St Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway Opening This isn’t a festival or yearly event – but the opening of a historical attraction. Once upon a time, Barbados used to boast a train service that ran from the capital city of Bridgetown to Bellepaine, St. Andrew on the east coast. In January 2019, the St Nicholas Abbey Heritage Railway will be opened, (in a million dollar project) and visitors to the island will once again be able to experience Train rides in Barbados. 2018 Year of Culinary Experiences After all that, you’re going to need some food - but not to worry, the food scene in Barbados offers a delicious mix of culinary experiences. Keep your eye out for the re-DISCOVER logo in restaurant windows (there’s also an app you can download), where you can enjoy a 3-course dinner (including a ½ bottle of wine) for US$50 per person (note that an advanced e-booking must be made). There are also 40 restaurants offering a 40% reduction on lunch menus. An exciting calendar of Culinary Experiences, including World Food Day as well as the Barbados Food and Rum Festival has also been launched. Alongside weekly and monthly events such as Hasting Farmers Market, Oistins Fish Fry at Oistins Bay Gardens, and a Sunday Jazz Lunch at Eastpoint Grill.
  2. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    The four class-types on-board an Etihad flight

    Everything is more extravagant in Abu Dhabi so it’s no surprise that its national airline, Etihad, is a step above the rest. Guests are offered the choice of four different class types – ranging from a seat in economy class right through to a private three-bedroom suite (we’re not joking). If you’re looking at booking a holiday to Abu Dhabi (either as a standalone destination, or a city-break before you fly onwards to another exotic location) here’s everything you need to know about picking the correct class-type for you. Economy Etihad Economy Class offers more than what you would expect. Aside from the usual amenities such as in-flight entertainment (including live TV channels) and sleeping kit (with fleece, neck pillows, and headset) – you’ll find a Flying Nanny who will provide a helping hand with the little ones on long-haul flights. You’ll also be treated an in-flight meal, with options for everyone, including a choice of three main courses and a vegetarian option as standard. Business Business Class with Etihad is not business as usual, with spaces where guests can work, rest and play. You’ll love the comfortable seats with in-seat massage facility, adjustable headrest and footrest, plus – on-board our A380/787 Dreamliner - adjustable seat firmness. If you’re on a long-haul flight you’ll also enjoy a fully-flat bed (up to 6 feet 8 inches) with direct aisle access. To help you maintain concentration, Etihad Business Class also offers Dine Anytime menus that allow you to eat at a time that suits you. There’s also a Food & Beverage Manager to guide you through the extensive menu options and make wine and beverage recommendations. First You haven’t really experienced a First Class Flight until you have flown First Class with Etihad. Enjoy privacy from other passengers with a sliding divider, as well as noise-cancelling headphones and turn-down service with stylish loungewear, all-natural mattress, duvet and bed linen, soothing pillow mist and pulse point oil. There’s also a personal refreshments cabinet in your Suite or Apartment. Elsewhere on-board you’ll also find an Inflight Chef, who will cook personalised meals for you at a time that suits you. On the A380 you’ll also enjoy the added luxury of an in-flight bathroom with full height shower and exclusive amenities. The Residence Travelling with one other person for a special occasion? Book yourself a place in the Residence, the only three-room suite on a commercial airline. The living room has a luxurious leather double-seat sofa and two dining tables, while the bedroom boasts a 6-foot 10-inch double bed, with designer Italian bed linen. You’ll also find an en-suite shower room with full-height shower, bathrobes, and a vanity unit with magnifying make-up mirror and hairdryer. But luxury surroundings aren’t the only reason to travel in The Residence. While on-board you’ll be looked after by a Savoy-trained Etihad Butler and Inflight Chef. While on the ground you’ll also enjoy access to a Lifestyle Concierge service (who will look after you when you arrive) and a VIP Travel Concierge service (which includes private check-in and lounge).
  3. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    4 inspirational escorted tours in Canada

    Visiting a new country is sometimes scary, so a helping hand is appreciated. That’s where Escorted Touring comes in. Especially in a country like Canada, which is so diverse and just begs visitors to explore it properly. It’s not the sort of place where you visit one place for two weeks. Below we’ve rounded up four amazing itineraries that are perfect for discovering the best Canada (and – in some cases – the USA) has to offer. Let us know which one is your favourite. 1. Heart of the Canadian Rockies You’ll have a lot of ground to cover when you visit the Canadian Rockies (the mountain range stretches across Alberta and British Columbia for 180,000 km²) so it’s a good idea to know where you’re going. With this itinerary, you’ll start off in the metropolitan Calgary, where you’ll be treated to a city tour. Then you’ll move your way through the Rocky Mountains day-by-day with stops in Banff, Jasper, and Kamloops. Afterwards, you’ll also be treated to four days on the west coast while you flirt between Vancouver and Victoria. 2. New York, Niagara Falls and Washington D.C. You can spend months exploring Canada and everything it has to offer, but it also feels like a waste to visit and not stop-by its equally fascinating neighbour. With this itinerary you’ll get to explore three iconic sights within one trip, including an overnight stay in Philadelphia. 3. Canadian Rockies If the first Canadian Rockies itinerary didn’t tick all the boxes, maybe this lengthier adventure will. This time you’ll start in Vancouver, where you’ll stay for two nights and be treated to a day-long city tour. Then you’ll start your journey into the Rocky Mountains, with overnight stays in Kelowna, Banff, Jasper, Sun Peaks, and Whistler. Afterwards, you’ll then return to the west coast for two nights in Victoria, before your flight to the UK from Vancouver. 4. Eastern U.S. & Canada As we said, it’s well worth stopping by the USA while you’re in Canada. This itinerary offers you a 19-day round trip that starts in the iconic New York City, before you enjoy a one night stay in Boston crossing the border where you’ll visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. You’ll then stop by the Niagara Falls, where you’ll cross the border again and, this time, enjoy overnight stays in Lancaster, Washington DC and Philadelphia.
  4. “Is it expensive though?” This is a common question we get from customers who are looking to stay close to the action at a Universal Orlando on-site hotel. Equally the hotels can offer amazing value for money and easy access to the parks with great benefits only on-site hotel customers get. And now there really is something for all budgets: the upcoming Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, opening in 2019 (but available to book now), is Universal’s first ‘Value’ hotel offering budget-friendly accommodation. It still, however, will come with many of the extra perks that Universal Orlando hotels are known for. Here is a quick rundown of the features and amenities. 1. Universal Orlando Park benefits It wouldn’t be a Universal Orlando Resort hotel if it didn’t offer benefits that you can use in the parks. Guests can enjoy Early Park Admission, credit their purchase to their room key, and receive complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to their hotel. There will also be complimentary shuttle bus transportation to and from the theme parks and Universal CityWalk 2. It’s right in the heart of International Drive Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is being built on the site where Wet n Wild waterpark once stood. It’s just off where International Drive intersects with Universal Boulevard and a quick (free) shuttle to CityWalk and the parks 3. There will be two hotels Universal’s Endless Summer Resort will boast two hotels: Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites. The first of which will have 750 rooms and will open in August 2019, while the second will be home to a massive 2,050 rooms and will open throughout 2020. Guests at each hotel will be allowed to make use of amenities at the other hotel. 4. The theme will be sea, surf and sand While the décor at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort will be more minimalist than other Universal Orlando hotels – this is still a Universal hotel, and that means it needs a theme… think relaxed and fun surf vibe with beach details woven throughout the experience (fairly fitting as it will look out onto the lake that Wet n Wild used to wrap itself around!) 5. There will be five room categories Out of the 750 bright and beachy guest rooms, 390 will be 2 Bedroom Suites that comfortably sleep up to six adults with the rest a comfy standard double queen room (sleeps up to four). You can also get the standard double with a pool view and the 2-bedroom suites with a pool or water view – perfect! 6. The Two-Bedroom Suite is ideal for large families These suites are the perfect base for the entire family, sleeping up to six. They feature two bedrooms: one room with two queen beds and the other with one queen bed. There’s also a kitchenette area and cool picnic table for dining and hanging out; as well as a bathroom with separate shower and vanity areas so all the family can get ready at the same time. 7. There’s on-site food and drink Universal’s Endless Summer Resort boasts its own food court that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also have pizza delivered to your room. When you’re looking for a liquid refreshment, you can choose between the coffee bar in the lobby and the pool bar. 8. The pool area is pretty great The pool itself is surfboard-shaped and has a Splash Zone for the kids. There are also poolside activities such as Hula-Hoop Contests, Bingo and Ping-Pong. 9. There’s other entertainment on-site In the form of a fitness centre and a Game Room, where you’ll find video and arcade games. Plus a Universal Studios Store to stock up on all your favourite character merchandise! 10. Rooms start at only $73 per night We weren’t exaggerating when we said this new hotel was budget-conscious.
  5. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    Getting married in…Mauritius

    Mauritius boasts all the ingredients needed for the perfect beach wedding: idyllic white sand, luxury resorts and mouth-watering French cuisine. Here’s everything you need to know about tying the knot in Mauritius. The Resorts Mauritius is known for its luxury, beach-front, all-inclusive hotels – most of which offer their own wedding package. Here are five of our favourites. Beachcomber Beachcomber boasts eight resorts across the island of Mauritius and guarantees that only one wedding takes place a day. So your Wedding Co-ordinator can give your big day their full attention. Beachcomber offers two Wedding Packages: Classic and Luxury. The Classic includes all of the following: Cost of all legal procedures, fees and documentation Civil Status charges in Port Louis including the cost of transfers from your resort to the Civil Status office Registrar's fees Dedicated wedding planner in Mauritius and a wedding team in the UK Choice of wedding locations at their chosen resort Wedding cake for 10 people Bridal bouquet and groom's buttonhole Celebration breakfast in bed Separate room for the groom to change in (subject to availability) The Luxury Package includes everything above, as well as spa treatments, hair and make-up, four-course wedding dinner, and a romantic set-up in the couple's room. Sugar Beach Resort & Spa If you’re after a lively wedding with your nearest and dearest, then you need to look into this place. You can choose from three venues (the lawn outside Manor House, the white sandy beach or the gardens) and can cater up to 100 guests. The Sugar Beach Wedding Package includes: Choice of wedding venues Dedicated wedding coordinator Seasonal fruit basket in the couples room upon arrival Wedding attire pressing/steaming Romantic background music – CD player, during the ceremony Brides make up at the resort spa Bridal bouquet Grooms buttonhole One bottle of sparkling wine during the ceremony (Graham Beck or Prosecco Wedding cake (maximum of 6 invitees) Photo package of 50 (10x15 cm) prints presented in an album with CD Romantic candle-light dinner ( set menu) for the couple on the wedding day Breakfast in the room or on the terrace/balcony the morning after the ceremony All local legal fees Maritim Resort and Spa Maritim Resort and Spa is a favourite with couples seeking an upmarket wedding that is suitable for families. On-site there are watersports, nine-hole golf club, fitness centre, four restaurants, three bars and a hotel run kids club. If you’re looking for a wedding here, you’ll be treated to the following: Wedding Coordinator Decorated Ceremony Location Cadlelit dinner for the couple Bottle of sparkling wine Transport to Port Louis to Complete Wedding Registration Marriage License and Certificate Legal fees and ceremony Wedding gift Lux Grand Gaube This contemporary resort on the island’s north coast is informal but sophisticated, mixed up with a retro-chic lifestyle. The cuisine here is just as eclectic with Peruvian, Argentinian and Turkish dishes all making an appearance in the resort's restaurants. It is also suitable for families with supervised activities for 3 to 11-year-olds. You can choose from a Light Wedding Package and a Delight Wedding Package. The first of which includes the following: All legalities for the Bride & Groom, and transportation of the Civil Officer One wedding a day Dedicated wedding co-ordinator Arrival Present Wedding Set-Up Wedding Ceremony Special Wedding Menu (excludes beverages) Wedding Cake for the couple & 2 glasses of champagne Special breakfast in room the following day The Delight Wedding Package includes all of the above but with the extra additions of hair and make-up, Bridal Bouquet & Groom’s Button Hole, a live musician and breakfast in bed for the couple. Zilwa Attitude This new resort not only has a beach right outside its front door, it also has a few private islands to its name &ndash, and you can get married on one of them. The resort has its basic Free Wedding Package (if you stay at the island for seven days or more), Islander Package, and the Islander Wedding Package (which includes a ceremony on a private island). Aside from a ceremony on a Private Island, the Islander Wedding Package also includes: Discount for the bride Personalized gifts for the couple Discount at the Spa Attitude One massage for the couple at the Spa Attitude Wedding ceremony on Gran Zil Set up of the wedding venue Wedding coordinator Witness service Background music Bottle of sparkling wine Wedding cake Trial and hairdressing for the bride Bridal bouquet Groom buttonhole Manicure and pedicure for the bride Candlelight dinner Special turndown Gala dinner, lobster menu Special breakfast in room the day after the wedding When to get married Mauritius is at its finest between the start of November through to April. Legal Requirements In order to get married in Mauritius, you need to be 18 or older (16 with parental consent), and not be related by blood or adoption, have two witnesses, and provide the following legal documents: 2 Copies of passports 2 Copies of birth certificates 2 passport photos each Decree absolute (if divorced) Deed Poll (if name has changed) Death Certificate and previous marriage certificate if widowed Non-English documentation must be translated into English and duly stamped French passport holders and citizens of other countries need to submit their documentation to us 3 months prior to your arrival in Mauritius These documents will have been to taken to an official office in Port Louis. Don’t worry though – most Mauritius hotels will include the costs of this in the Wedding Package. Many Wedding Coordinators will also accompany you. You only need to have been in Mauritius for one day before you tie the knot, however if you wish to have a religious ceremony you need to have stayed a minimum of 15 days prior to the ceremony taking place (Anglican and Catholic weddings are both possible). (Please Note: please check with your Wedding Co-ordinator that the legal process in Mauritius has not changed).
  6. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    How to spend 48 hours in Hong Kong

    Hong Kong is the perfect Asia stopover. It’s small and compact, with the attractions of Lantau Island on the airport’s doorstep and the main downtown area only 25 minutes away. Hong Kong International Airport is also regarded as one of the most efficient airports in the world, so it’s unlikely you’ll be held up in customs for too long. The local transport system is also second to none (read our blog on navigating Honk Kong by subway). So even if you only have two days in the city it’s not impossible to see all of its biggest attractions – here’s what we recommend seeing. Treat your taste buds You’ll be hungry after your flight – and Hong Kong definitely knows how to satisfy peckish travellers. Start at one of the city’s many dim sum restaurants. You can choose between the traditional dim sum that the locals eat, or you can visit a fusion place (including Kawaii-style dim sum where the dumplings have cute cartoon faces drawn on them!). If you really want to dive into the local culture and try foods that you don’t see much of in the UK, sample the local delicacy: dried fish. You’ll find the best selection at the food market around Des Veoux Road West, Wing Lok and Ko Shing Streets. You can keep it simple with dried scallops or dried shrimps – but if you’re feeling adventurous keep your eye out for abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw and shark’s fin. When you’re in need of a refreshment, seek out one of Hong Kong’s many tea houses. Tea can be traced back to China so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting types of tea, ages, grades, preparation, mixes, and infusions. British-style Afternoon Tea is also more common in the city than you would think. Look up at the Big Buddha statue In only 25 minutes from the airport, you can find yourself looking up at one of the biggest bronze statues of Buddha in the world. Officially called Tian Tan Buddha, it was unveiled in 1993 and modelled after Buddha Shakyamuni. You’ll find it at the most southern end of Lantau Island in Ngong Ping, and it is an extension of Po Lin Monastery. Po Lin Monastery and the Buddha are open to the public between 10:00 am and 5:30 pm. Access to the outside of the Buddha is free of charge, but there is an admission fee to go inside the Buddha. Shop ‘til you drop The shopping scene in Hong Kong is second to none – and is one of the main things visitors rave about when they leave. Citygate Outlets is the largest outlet mall in Hong Kong and is home to over 90 international brands for fashion, beauty, accessories, and household items – and only 10 minutes from the airport. If you want to pick up something local and unique we recommend checking out a street market (Temple Street Market is considered one of the best). We’d also suggest strolling along the popular Hollywood Road (which is also the second oldest road in Hong Kong) that is home to several antique shops that sell everything from Buddha sculptures to Tibetan rugs. Disneyland You’ll definitely need a full day set aside for this one – but it is well worth it if you’re a big Disney fan. Found on the north-east corner of Lantau Island, you can spend a good half day wondering around the seven lands within the park: Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street. Hong Kong Disneyland is also going through an expansion period. By 2020, Hong Kong Disneyland will boast its own Arendelle, Marvel area within Tomorrowland (with rumours of an Ant-Man experience), and Moana-style Village Festival. But that’s not all: Hong Kong is also getting a new castle (which will incorporate elements from several Disney stories). Finish your stop-over with the sunset Finally, you can’t visit Hong Kong without having admired it from the local mountain. Victoria Peak sits on the western half of the island and offers a stunning view of the urban landscape. If you don’t fancy hillwalking, don’t worry – there’s a tram. The best time to visit the peal – without a doubt – is when the day turns into night. Perfect end to your stopover in Hong Kong.
  7. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    10 things to know about U by Uniworld

    River Cruises have traditionally been a peaceful way to travel, popular with retired travellers looking for an easy way to explore different cities in the one holiday. U by Uniworld is a new river cruise line (owned by luxury Uniworld) that is bringing something new to the rivers of Europe. On-board their modern ships, you’ll find late nights bars, fluorescent accents and rooms you’d more typically associate with a hostel than a cruise ship. Also, their range of excursions varies from laid-back activities to energetic adventures. Does a river cruise now feel like something you’d want to book? Here are 10 things to know about U by Uniworld. 1. They have two ships Named the A and the B, they each sail through a dedicated area of Europe. The A can be found floating along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers in Central Europe. While the B cruises down France’s Seine River. The small size of their ships also means they can dock in the city centre of most destinations. 2. There’s solo rooms and dorms Anyone travelling by themselves who wants to save some money (and make friends in the process) can book a bed in one of the dorm rooms. Though if you are travelling alone and don’t fancy sharing with someone, single rooms are also available. 3. Fully functioning dining The two U by Uniworld vessels both have a fully-functioning restaurant like any other cruise ship. The main dining room, called Dine, serves brunch and dinner (including vegetarian and vegan options). Then on the top-deck, you’ll find the U Lounge, which serves tapas-style sharing plates and after-hours snacks. 4. There’s a lot included U by Uniworld isn’t all-inclusive, but you won’t need to reach for your wallet too often. You’ll enjoy two meals on-board per day (usually brunch and dinner) selected non-alcoholic drinks, selected daily shore excursions, and onboard entertainment. Gratuities are also included. 5. There are bikes on-board More and more ships boast onboard bikes that guests can take out for a day exploring – and U by Uniworld is no exception. Each ship has 50 U Bikes onboard for complimentary use. 6. Immersive excursions All the U by Uniworld itineraries have complimentary excursions, along with additional U Time excursions that were designed by local destination experts. There’s a wide range to choose from – including a mixology lesson in Amsterdam, rock climbing in Germany, classical music in Vienna, and a street art tour in Paris. 7. There are six itineraries to choose from Starting with Rolling on the Rhine, Seine Experience, Germany’s Finest, and the Danube Flow – and then ending with the festive-themed Dashing Through the Danube and A Merry Little Christmas Cruise. But that’s not all: since Europe’s rivers are home to some incredible festivals, so U by Uniworld offers special itineraries that include them. Such as an Oktoberfest Cruise, and a Danube cruise that stops by the Sziget Festival (one of the largest music festivals in the world). 8. There’s an onboard gym and spa You’ll find treadmills, TRX bands, yoga mats, free weights, and other equipment to help keep up your fitness routine while on holiday. You can then relax in the spa afterwards. 9. U by Uniworld has charity partnerships and a sustainability pledge U by Uniworld work alongside TreadRight, Just a Drop and One Tree Planted to make sure that the world remains as beautiful as it is now for years to come. They also have a partnership with All Hands and Hearts, which rebuilds resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters. 10. It’s open to all U by Uniworld has been regularly described as a “river cruise by millennials” – but it is actually open for all. In fact, it’s largely been the 40+ cruisers who are booking themselves onto these stylish boats.
  8. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    10 things to do in Greater Fort Lauderdale

    If you’re looking for a destination that combines city and beach, you won’t find much better than Greater Fort Lauderdale . Located on Florida’s east coast, Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts 23 miles of blue-wave certified beaches alongside a cosmopolitan playground (that is still home to a relaxed beachy-vibe). No matter what kind of city-type culture is your favourite – whether it’s dining, art, nightlife or shopping – you’ll find it in this sun-drenched destination. Here’s how to spend your holiday in Greater Fort Lauderdale. 1. Indulge in Floribbean cuisine The south of Florida is home to a unique blend of culinary flavours that are descendant from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Asia – and can be traced back to when the Spanish first landed on US shores. Popular Floribbean dishes include key lime pie, conch fritters, mango salsa, rice and bean dishes, jerk chicken, plus seafood gumbos and salads. 2. Visit the Downtown Hollywood Art Mural Project Head to Hollywood’s Downtown Area to admire street art by local and international artists. Artist names include Tatiana Suarez, Evoca1, Rone, The London Police, Jessy Nite, Ernesto Maranje, Logan Hicks and Kenny Scharf. You can stroll through the streets yourself or book a guided tour. Afterwards, why not check out the area’s cafes, bars and restaurants or dip into Greater Fort Lauderdale’s craft ale scene?! 3. Explore Bonnet House Bonnet House is a historic home found in the Fort Lauderdale Beach area. It dates back to 1895, when Hugh Taylor Birch, a successful Chicago lawyer gifted it to his daughter and new husband as a wedding gift. The husband, Frederic Clay Bartlett, was a self-taught architect and the main house is based on his interpretation of Caribbean plantation-style architecture and also features his eclectic art collection. When Bartlett’s second wife died in 1997, she deeded the property to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation (the largest donation in state history). The main properties in the estate include the main house, an art studio, a music studio and a guest house. Plus, there are also five different ecosystems: primary and secondary dunes, mangrove wetlands, a freshwater slough and a maritime forest. It is also licensed for private events, including weddings. 4.Shop till you drop in Sawgrass Mills Welcome to the largest designer outlet mall in North America. You’ll find many quintessential American names here including Barneys, Bloomingdales, Kate Spade and Super Target – alongside international brands like Armani, Valentino, and Versace. Bag yourself bargains of up to 70% off! 5. Paddleboard in the ocean Watersports are plentiful in Greater Fort Lauderdale – but paddleboarding is definitely the most popular. There are numerous tour companies who’ll take beginner and experienced paddle boarders out into the Atlantic – including special tours like sunset boarding, full moon boarding and yoga boarding! 6. Dock and Dine If you’re feeling peckish while paddleboarding, you can paddle over to one of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s many waterfront restaurants. We mean this literally, as many have a Dock and Dine policy where you can park your boat or board up front and get out. If you opt for one of the many seafood restaurants, you can also witness crates of fish being freshly delivered that day. 7. Hop on the Jungle Queen Riverboat Explore the city (and beyond) on-board the Jungle Queen Riverboat. You can choose between either a 90 minute sight-seeing cruise (which takes you along the New River where you’ll pass by Millionaire’s Row, spotting mega-yachts and celebrity homes) and a Tropical Isle cruise (which takes you on the same route, but this time you’ll end up on Tropical Isle where you can watch an alligator show, see exotic birds, lemurs and monkeys, and hold a baby alligator). 8. Escape the city to the Everglades Greater Fort Lauderdale is the gateway to the Florida Everglades. Here you can awe at exotic flora, fauna, and wildlife from alligators to Florida panthers. It’s also home to the Seminole Indians, who invite visitors to learn about their proud, ancient culture. 9. Stop by Riptide and Tortuga Music Festivals If you like music, time your visit alongside one of these music festivals. Rock the Ocean's Tortuga Music Festival was founded to help raise awareness about ocean conservation and focuses on country and rock music. Riptide, however, is held at the end of the year and past acts have included Weezer, Pvris, Boyz II Men, and Salt-n-Pepa. 10. Explore the city by canal Greater Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America thanks to its 300 miles of canals. There are numerous boat tours that can take you along these waterways including the area’s very own water taxi– the perfect way to relax on your final night.
  9. Adelaide isn’t called The Festival City for nothing. In the months of February and March, the city comes alive with the sound (and visuals) of the Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide and – of course – the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Fringe Festivals take place all over the world – with Adelaide clocking in as the second-biggest (after Edinburgh) as well as the largest in the southern hemisphere. It’s an open-arts festivals where artists and performers of various disciplines can apply and are chosen at random rather than by a panel of curators. March time is – unsurprisingly – Adelaide’s busiest time for visitors, with roughly 2.7 million attendees at 2018’s Fringe Festival. If you’re planning to visit 2019’s Festivals in the city, here’s everything you need to know before you go. When and where? The next Adelaide Fringe Festival will be held between 15th February and 17th March 2019 – with 400 venues participating, Adelaide Festival opens 1st March and runs through to 17th March with the headline performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute and iconic WOMADelaide a 4-day festival celebrating music, arts and dance from 7th to 10th March. If you’re planning on visiting, remember that this is late summer for Adelaide with temperatures reaching highs of a gorgeous 28°C. The city is bursting with culture, flavours, events and entertainment throughout the period and golden beaches can be found on Adelaide’s doorstep. Taste your way through world-famous wine regions only minutes away, soak up the sun, join the party at our immersive festivals and events or spend the night exploring Adelaide attractions and a thriving restaurant and bar scene. Who’s performing? The official guide won’t be released until December, but Adelaide Fringe has confirmed that 125 acts have been booked already. Every year the acts cover a wide range of disciplines ranging from theatre to dance, and comedy shows to cabaret. There are also always shows that cater towards family and children. In the first programme announcement for Adelaide Festival, Barrie Kosky’s electrifying contemporary take on Mozart’s The Magic Flute – a blend of live opera with Tim-Burton-style animation and a silent film aesthetic – is set to be a highlight of the 2019 line-up. How do you book tickets? Individual performers look after their own tickets, but when the schedule is ready it will have links to any online ticket websites, click here for details. There are both free and paid performances. Adelaide Festival tickets can be booked here from 22nd August. Are there any other festivals on at the same time? Yes - it isn’t called Mad March for nothing! The Adelaide Fringe, WOMADelaide, and Adelaide Festival of Arts are all on at the same time. Are there any side events on? Events are still to be formally announced, but there’s usually an Opening Night Street Party and nightly street markets. How do I get to Adelaide? To get from the UK to Adelaide you will need to stop over somewhere else (perfect excuse for two holidays in one!). The most popular places to stop over are the Middle East and South-East Asia. What should I pack in my day bag? If you’re heading out to a full day of shows, take what you would in your normal handbag. Remember lots of physical money though, as some food vendors won’t have card machines, and some venues won’t allow opened bottles of liquid.
  10. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    A beginner’s guide to India

    India is undoubtedly a bucket list country for many people - but its vast size can be intimidating for first-time visitors. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled the below guide to help you out. Whether your perfect trip to India involves the bustling New Delhi, the beaches of Goa or the beautiful architecture of the Taj Mahal, all your questions should be answered below. Leave us a question if we haven’t covered it. Popular places to visit India is usually best explored as part of a tour - with so many amazing places it would be a shame to stick to just one place. Here are five must-visits. Taj Mahal You can’t visit India and not stop by its most recognisable building. Found on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra, its complex includes a mosque, guest house and formal gardens. New Delhi Home to the world’s biggest Hindu temple, the country’s largest mosque, and South Asia’s largest shopping mall, New Delhi has grown beyond its own boundaries. But it is also a city with a lot of history, having been the capital for at least seven civilizations – each leaving behind its own monuments. And despite its intimidating size, you’ll find plenty of green space too! Jaipur If it’s history that you are looking for then Jaipur definitely needs to be on your list. It was built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh as India's first planned city and is home to some of India’s best historical sites, including the City Palace, Govind Dev ji Temple, Vidhan Sabha and Birla Temple. Goa Goa is the India destination for anyone looking for a beach! Choose between the contrasting North and South Goa; as a rule, North Goa is for parties on the beach while south Goa is for relaxing on the beach. We’ve previously blogged about the two here so you can pick the best one for you. You can even fly direct to Goa from the UK for a week long beach holiday, but it also make for a nice beach break after the buzz of New Delhi or Mumbai. Kerala India can be a lively place and if you’re looking to unwind after the buzz of New Delhi, Kerala is a great option. Stretching along the south-west coast for 600km, its beaches are white and backed by palm trees, while inland you’ll find fragrant hills where tea and spice grow, as well as tranquil backwaters that have earned the region the nickname “Venice of the East”. Getting there and getting around India’s top five international airports are Delhi Airport, Mumbai Airport, Chennai Airport, Bangalore Airport and Hyderabad Airport. New Delhi remains the busiest airport in India and offers a direct flight to London Heathrow. As we’ve mentioned already, India is a country to tour. One of the most iconic ways to do so is on board the Deccan Odyssey, which offers six inspirational itineraries. All the routes start from Mumbai, and can take you to the beaches of Goa or to the exotic Ellora Caves. Escorted tours are also readily available in India, and you can book many of them through Barrhead Travel (you can see some on our website here, but we have more available if you speak to a Travel Consultant in one of our branches). Other important information India’s currency is the Indian Rupee (INR) and is a closed currency so you’ll need to withdraw cash when you arrive. India is still a cash country so always carry money on you. Remember to haggle! UK visitors need a visa to enter India. You’ll need either a Type C (two-prong plug) or Type D (three-prong plug). Hindi is the official language of India, but English is widely spoken in the major tourist hubs. It is recommended that you discuss vaccinations with your doctor
  11. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    A beginner’s guide to Washington, DC

    Washington, DC requires no introduction. Its monuments, buildings and landmarks have been seen on television sets across the world and are instantly recognisable. But every television broadcast in the world can’t prepare for you for how fascinating the city is in real life. We recommend that everyone should visit at one point in their lives. Here’s our guide to making the most of it. National Mall If it’s historical monuments and museums you want to visit, then you need to head to The National Mall. It’s a lot longer than most people anticipate and it’s a good idea to schedule aside a whole day just to explore. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to visit everything, so here are our top picks. Lincoln Memorial Honour the legacy of the 16th President of the United States, and the man who ended the American slave trade. Found at the western end of National Mall, the famous 19-foot statue of Lincoln attracts the most attention. But remember to admire the neo-classical architecture and visit the museum inside. On the steps, you’ll also find the words “I Have a Dream” engraved on the exact spot where Martin Luther King Jr presented his famous and powerful speech. Washington Monument Lying at the other end of the Lincoln Reflection Pool is the tallest structure in all of Washington, DC. It stands at 555ft and took so long to build that the original quarry ran out and you can see the change in colour two-thirds up. Currently, the monument is closed for renovations until 2019, but when it does re-open, you’ll need a ticket to get in and it is generally recommended that you book in advance. Smithsonian Museums The Smithsonian Institution is a world-renowned museum and research complex that consists of 17 museums, galleries and the National Zoo. Access to all of these museums is completely free. Several of them are dotted along the National Mall – including the Smithsonian National Museum of Air and Space, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and National Museum of the American Indian. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum While this is a must-see on National Mall, it is humbling and sometimes difficult to take. The main exhibition starts with the identity cards of Holocaust victims, then their harrowing story is gradually revealed. You also find The Hall of Remembrance, the museum’s official memorial to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. If you’re visiting with children, there’s instead Remember the Children: Daniel's Story. It’s lighter than the main exhibition and tells the story of Daniel, a fictional child based on a collection of true stories about children during the Holocaust. National Gallery of Art Found on the National Mall, between 3rd and 9th Streets, lies one of North America’s largest art museums. It is comprised of two buildings – that are connected by an underground passage – with the original neoclassical building showcasing European art and the modern East Building exhibiting contemporary pieces. Entry is free, but you’ll need to set aside a good chunk of your day if you want to get around everything. US Capitol Since 1800, this is where both the lower House of Representatives and the Upper Senate meet to debate and write legislation. There’s an underground visitor centre below the East Plaza, which includes a tour of various chambers. In order to watch Congress in Session, however, you’ll need to take your passport to the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level. District Wharf Welcome to Washington, DC’s newest neighbourhood. Set along the waterfront, here you’ll find a mile-long stretch of restaurants, retailers, nightlife, sports and activities for kids. It’s also home to local events, including concerts, food markets, and outdoor yoga sessions. You’ll find it only a few streets along from The National Mall. Food & Drink Washington DC’s foodie scene has a reputation for focusing on power breakfasts and colossal steaks. While these two cuisines are readily available within the city, the city is much more eclectic than its reputation. Many TV chefs have restaurants in the city, and famous-faces are not a rare sight. Washington, DC’s most famous chef is José Andrés and you need to make sure you stop by one of his restaurants - whether it’s Jaleo, Zaytinya, or the upscale Barmini. It also probably comes as little surprise that Washington, DC is also home to 14 restaurants that have earned Michelin Star status. This includes minibar by José Andrés (which specialises in molecular gastronomy), Blue Duck Tavern (featuring a rotating seasonal menu focusing on farm-to-fork), and Métier (a 36-seat restaurant with a $200 seven-course tasting menu). There’s also a diverse mix of international cuisine, including flavours you may not have stumbled upon before. Try Lao food for the first time at Thip Khao, or even Ethiopian at Dukem and Etete. But perhaps the most unique dining experience in Washington, DC is the Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian. The menu contains foods that are indigenous to the Americas from wild salmon and forage mushrooms to bison chilli and fry bread. If you’re unsure where to start, Washington, DC boasts a selection of culinary tours. These range from brewery tours, to trips around different Farmers Markets. With the Family Washington, DC is also a great place to visit with children. Across the city, you’ll find child-friendly museums, open spaces and restaurants with kids’ menus. Here are our top picks! International Spy Museum Kids will love pretending to be their favourite spy character at this interactive museum. There’s an immersive experience called Operation Spy, where the kids play the part of a secret agent who has to retrieve critical intelligence and escape from a high-security compound. Children ages 6 and up get in for free. U.S. Botanic Garden The U.S. Botanic Garden is already a great day out anyway but is extra enjoyable with little ones. Firstly there’s a scavenger hunt where kids have to find specific plants. There’s also a Children’s Garden where your mini-me can jump around in the playhouse, pump water, dig with shovels, water plants and, on occasion, help the staff plant flowers. The National Zoo You can spend an entire day wandering around this 163-acre park that is home to over 2,000 animals (25 per cent of which are endangered). You’ll find it in the residential area of Woodley Park neighbourhood, with the entrance on Connecticut Avenue. It’s part of the Smithsonian Institution, so admission is free. The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution, a world-renowned museum and research complex that consists of 17 museums, galleries and the National Zoo. Access to all of these museums is completely free. Madame Tussauds Madam Tussauds requires no introduction, but at Washington, DC you’ll find more historical and political figures than usual – including all 45 U.S. Presidents (alongside your favourite A-list celebrities, like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé). The Daily Grill When it’s time to fuel up, take your little ones to this All-American restaurant. In addition to its extensive kids' menu, it also offers healthy options for the adults. There’s a restaurant in both Dupont Circle and Georgetown. How to get there and finding your way around There are direct flights from the UK to Washington, DC that run multiple times a week – including a non-stop route from Edinburgh to Washington Dulles International Airport with United Airlines. Once you’re there, the Metrorail and Metrobus are the most convenient ways to get around Washington, DC. Though there’s also The DC Circulator bus– which is only $1 per ride and runs six specific routes designed for easy-on, easy-off access to popular sites. But saying that, Washington, DC is a very flat and walkable city. Other important information Summers are hot in Washington, DC and the capital is on the same latitude as southern Europe Many consider spring to be the nicest time of year to visit due to the cherry blossoms. The currency used is the US Dollar English is the national language and widely spoken
  12. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    A foodie’s guide to Costa Rica

    As a destination, Costa Rica has become synonymous with adventure and eco-tourism thanks to its beautiful natural landscape. So it probably comes as little surprise that its food scene is hearty, energising and locally grown. With all the adventure you’ll be experiencing while on holiday in Costa Rica, you’ll require plenty of fuel – so here’s some traditional Costa Rican dishes to treat yourself to. Casado A popular dish with locals is the Casado. The word translates to marriage in English, and is an unpretentious dish that is a balance between rice, beans, meat – it could be fish, chicken or red meat - and green or pasta salad. It’s easy on the purse-strings, but it’s nutritious and will fill you up for a day of exploring. Soda When you wander through Costa Rica looking for somewhere to eat, you’ll see two types of dining establishments: restaurants and sodas. The restaurants are what we are accustomed to in the UK and cater to international tourists. Sodas, however, are a traditional Costa Rican affair where you’ll get served like a local (including the traditional Casado). Fruit It probably comes as no surprise that a tropical country like Costa Rica is ripe with fresh fruit. Some varieties you’ll have heard of (such as mangoes, bananas and coconuts). But some you won’t have – such as guanábana, mamones, guayaba, maracuyá, and granadilla. Make sure you try at least one while on your visit. Coffee Costa Ricans take their coffee very seriously. So much that only one type of coffee bean can be legally grown in Costa Rica. It’s called the Arabica bean and it isn’t the easiest to grow, requiring high altitude and mild temperatures - something Costa Rica excels at. Make sure you have a cuppa while in Costa Rica as even the budget-friendly cafés come equipped with espresso machines. Other drinks If you’re not a coffee drinker, there are other refreshing options. One of the most popular is refrescos, a fruit smoothie made from the water of milk. There’s also agua dulce: water sweetened with sugar cane, which is a common drink for kids. If you’re looking to let your hair down, we recommend either guaro (a fiery sugar cane liquor) or the national beer, Imperial. Desserts To finish off your Costa Rican dining adventure, treat yourself to a very sweet dessert. One of the most popular (and named national dessert by National Geographic Magazine) is the tres leches. It’s a cake that is typically prepared as a moist sponge or butter cake that is then soaked with a trio of different kinds of milk (evaporated, condensed and whole milk). Despite the very soggy-sounding description, tres leches is anything but soggy and is actually delicious. Oh, and remember to try a Costa Rica flan.
  13. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    Top 10 cultural sites and attractions in Valletta

    Malta’s capital city of Valletta boasts a long and interesting history. Its oldest buildings date back to the 16th Century, during the rule of the Order of St. John. Since then it has passed through many rulers’ hands and was a base during both world wars. It was even recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980 and has been described as a 'one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world'. To this day Valletta has retained its 16th Century elegance but has moved on in many ways. Malta is now a festival capital and its streets are lined with boutique hotels, restaurants, live shows, street theatres and jamming session. It has even been designated the European Capital of Culture for 2018 (with more plans to grow its arts scene!). With all this going on it was hard to limit the cultural attractions to just 10, but if you are only here for 10 days here is what we recommend tops your list. 1. Casa Rocca Piccola This historic 16th Century Palace is still occupied to this day (currently by the noble de Piro family) but daily tours are still available. The palace itself is stunningly beautiful and well-maintained, but the most fascinating historical artefacts are the World War two air raid shelters that give a fascinating glimpse into wartime life. 2. National War Museum As we mentioned earlier, Valletta played an important role in both world wars. If that interests you, you’ll find two rooms dedicated to Valletta’s involvement in the war at the National War Museum. Some of the most important artefacts include The Gloster Sea Gladiator fighter plane, Roosevelt’s Jeep ‘Husky’ and the Malta award for gallantry, the George Cross. However, the museum’s collection spans further than the previous century, and you’ll find military equipment here that dates back to the Bronze Age. 3. Victoria Lines Unofficially known as the Great Wall of Malta, the Victoria Lines is a defensive wall that separates the North and South of the island. It was built by the British Military in the 19th Century to protect the harbours in the south from northern attacks. Some parts of the wall have fallen but you can still book guided tours along the bits that still exist. 4. St. Francis of Assisi Church This beautiful church is famous in Malta for both its Baroque architecture and its collection of paintings gifted by Italian Baroque painter Mattia Preti. It was originally built in 1598, opened in 1607, rebuilt in 1681 and then enlarged again in the 1920s – with all the different layers of gradual construction blended into one. These days it is mainly used for the classical music concerts held in its magnificent Baroque oratory. 5. Manoel Theatre If you’re looking to combine both theatre and history, then you can’t do much better than one of Europe’s oldest working theatres. It was named after Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller, Fra António Manoel de Vilhena, who personally funded and overseen its construction. An intimately-sized theatre, it has only 623 seats available for its shows that are performed in both English and Maltese (including opera, pantomime, and musicals). 6. St. John’s Co-Cathedral Built between 1573 and 1578 by the Knights of Malta, and designed by military architect Glormu Cassar (who designed many of Valletta’s most prominent buildings), St. John’s Co-Cathedral six considered to be an extremely fine example of high Baroque architecture. The church has eight chapels, the entire marble floor is a series of tombs (housing almost 400 knights) and there is even a crypt beneath the cathedral! 7. Grand Harbour Perched on a natural harbour, The Grand Harbour served as the base of the Order of Saint John from 1530 until 1798 (which is when most of the harbour walls were built). It was heavily bombed during World War 2, but has remained functional with effort to restore areas of historical significance. 8. Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens For the best views of the aforementioned Grand Harbour, head up to the collonaded Upper Barrakka Gardens. Originally it was built in the 16th Century as a place for knights to relax, but these days it is a nice shady place for locals and tourists to unwind from the bustling city below. Also, the lower terrace holds the Saluting Battery where the cannon fires every day at noon. 9. Grandmaster’s Palace The Grandmaster’s Palace is a must for anyone interested in Malta’s war history. Within its opulent walls exists over five thousand suits of armour and equipment used by soldiers and knights since the 16th century. It is also home to the only complete and intact set of the famous 18th century French Gobelins tapestries entitled, “Les Teintures des Indes”, in the world. 10. National Museum of Fine Arts The collection at the National Museum of Fine Arts dates back to the Order of St. John (16th Century) – and includes the largest collection of paintings by the Baroque artist Mattia Preti (1613–1699) and a collection of rare, antique maps. The building itself is also historical and was originally one of the oldest in Valletta until a knight re-built it as his private home in the 1760s.
  14. Morag@BarrheadTravel

    9 reasons to visit Kissimmee, Florida

    Kissimmee, Florida is famed for being the best of both worlds: close enough to the thrilling rides of Orlando, but far enough away that you can unwind in peaceful surroundings after a day of theme park fun. But that’s not the only reason why Kissimmee is an excellent base for your Florida holiday. Below we’ve rounded up 9 reasons why you should consider a holiday to this sunny destination. Have we missed your favourite reason to stay in Kissimmee? Let us know in the comments! 1. Spacious villas Villas and holiday homes are the accommodations of choice in Kissimmee and popular with groups of friends and larger families. Many of the villas also have their own private pools – perfect for cooling off in the Florida sun! 2. World-famous theme parks With Walt Disney World® Resort just ten minutes away, plus an assortment of popular theme parks within a short driving distance including Universal Orlando Resort™, SeaWorld® Parks & Resort™, and LEGOLAND® Florida, Kissimmee offers easy access to thrills and fun for all ages. 3. Explore Florida’s natural environment Kissimmee’s surrounding natural environment is authentic to when the city was first established in 1883. Book an iconic airboat ride through the headwaters of the Everglades and explore the natural beauty of Florida, from the wildlife to the wetlands. 4. Its assortment of alligators Alligators are Florida’s original inhabitants, and Kissimmee offers incredible opportunities to encounter these reptile residents up-close. Visit Gatorland, a 110-acre park where you can meet alligators of all breeds and sizes and even fly over them on the Screaming’ Gator Zip Line. 5. The historic downtown area If you’re looking for an afternoon of shopping or enjoyable evening dining, Downtown Kissimmee features an eclectic assortment of shops and restaurants. Home to antique shops, family-friendly dining options, and the nearby Kissimmee Lakefront Park, this walking district is the perfect place for an evening with the family. Great golf Florida is well-known for its year-round sunshine and golf, and Kissimmee is no exception. Some of the most popular courses include Kissimmee Golf Club, Reunion Resort Golf Course, and Celebration Golf Club. 7. Adventures in the air Hot air balloon rides are a must-do experience in Kissimmee – but you can also fly a jet plane or take control of a WWII-era fighter plane with Warbird Adventures at Kissimmee Gateway Airport. 8. Close to the coastline Kissimmee is less than two hours from both the east and west coastlines of Florida. You can take a day trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on the Atlantic Coast, or visit the beaches on the Gulf Coast. 9. Easy access Kissimmee is only 25 minutes from Orlando International Airport, and you can easily hop in a shuttle bus or taxi to arrive at your hotel or holiday home.
  15. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, so you’ll want it to be perfect. One of the easiest ways to reduce the stress is to have someone else organise it for you. Thankfully there is an endless amount of hotels with beautiful wedding packages that take care of everything - so you literally have to turn up on the day. Whether you’re looking to get married in the Caribbean or somewhere closer to home; a lively resort or a secluded cliff-side hotel, there’s something out there to suit you and your sweetheart. Here are just 10 hotels that cater to couples looking to marry abroad (and all of them 5-star!). Moon Palace Cancun, Mexico If you’re looking for an upbeat (but luxurious) wedding venue in Mexico, then we recommend Moon Palace. The five-star resort offers facilities for all couples and guests, including world-class restaurants, a lavish spa, and a 27-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Their wedding package is also just as exciting. Aside from a beautiful beach-side ceremony, the wedding package also includes a coordinator, bridal bouquet, wedding cake, sparkling wine, gift registry, complimentary honeymoon package – plus that all-important marriage license and certificate! Luxury Bahia Principe Esmerelda, Dominican Republic If a laid-back wedding in the Dominican Republic sounds like the correct combination for your wedding, then have a look the Luxury Bahia Principe Esmerelda. This elegant resort has Bavaro’s stunning white-sand beach right on its doorsteps, making it a perfect choice for a romantic wedding. Their Sunshine Wedding Package includes all the basics such as a wedding coordinator, wedding cake and Honeymoon breakfast in bed. However, it also includes extra touches like a semi-private dinner reservation for 30 people, 15% spa discount and 10 digital photos. Grand Bahia Principe in Jamaica This resort hotel boasts its own private beach – so no wonder it’s a popular choice with sweethearts tying the knot. There’s also three swimming pools, three whirlpools, buffet restaurant, water sports, volleyball, and evening entertainment. The Sunshine Wedding Package includes all the usual – wedding co-ordinator, decorated ceremony location, bridal bouquet, recorded music for the ceremony, wedding cake, and honeymoon breakfast in bed. On top of that, it also includes 10 digital photos, 15% spa discount, late-check out for the couple, and dinner reservation for 30 people. Maritim Resort and Spa Mauritius This luxury resort is a favourite with people looking for upmarket family weddings, romantic honeymoons and other special occasions. There’s an 800-metre beach on its doorstep and, in the resort itself, you’ll find four restaurants, three bars, large swimming pool, 9-hole golf course, boat house with water sports, and a fitness centre. The Wedding Package itself includes a coordinator, decorated ceremony location, candlelit dinner for the couple, a bottle of sparkling wine, wedding gift – plus legal fees, marriage certificate and transport to Port Louis to complete the wedding declarations. Olympic Lagoon Resort Nissi Bay, Cyprus This stunning hotel is perfect for couples looking for a lavish wedding. On-site you’ll find three swimming pools (including a lagoon pool), buffet restaurant, outdoor Cypriot restaurant, American-style diner, cocktail bar, and a gym. The Wedding Package here is also just as extensive. You’ll have all the basics like a wedding coordinator, ceremony, bridal bouquet, marriage license, and honeymoon breakfast in bed. But you’ll also be treated to a decorated bridal table, 15% spa discount, and the taxi transfer to Town Hall to sign the documents. There are also a few extras that are subject to availability including late check-out, room upgrade, and cocktail reception. Coral Beach Hotel Resort & Coral Beach Suites, Cyprus Offering undisturbed views of the landscaped gardens and the coast, this hotel is the perfect backdrop to a romantic wedding. The wedding package itself has all the basics (ceremony, co-ordinator, candlelit dinner, marriage license, and honeymoon breakfast in bed) and a few extras like 25% spa discount, facial for the bride and bathrobes in your room. The wider resort has all the facilities needed for you and your family to relax after the wedding. There’s an outdoor pool, kids’ pool and indoor pool. There’s also a squash court, gym and sauna. For food and drink, there’s a buffet restaurant, poolside snack bar, beach bar, lounge bar and nightclub. There’s also Wi-Fi and on-site reps who visit twice a week. Stella Place, Crete If you’re looking for a family-friendly resort hotel with plenty of activities, then look no further than Stella Place. Here you’ll find a whopping two outdoor swimming pools, one indoor swimming pool, and three kids’ pools (two with waterslides!). On the food side of things, there’s one buffet restaurant and two a la carte restaurants. For children, there are three children's clubs that covers ages 3-15. There is also a playground, high-chairs and cots. Hotel Grecian Park, Cyprus Perched on a hillside, this small but elegant resort provides a breath-taking backdrop for your big day. The hotel itself is modern and comes equipped with everything you need for a relaxing honeymoon. There’s a small collection of sports, three pools, a pool bar serving snacks and a Japanese restaurant serving sushi (as well as the main restaurant). The wedding package here is simple but stylish. You’ll be treated to a ceremony, bridal bouquet, single-tier wedding cake, and sparkling wine on arrival. Register’s fees and marriage certificate are also included. Liberty Hotels Lykia, Turkey Nestled between beautiful mountains and azure seas, this self-contained resort might be the world’s most beautiful place to get married. Your wedding package itself includes everything you need (co-ordinator, marriage license, bridal bouquet, single-tier wedding cake, honeymoon breakfast in bed and candlelit dinner) but you’ll be treated to VIP check-in on arrival, late check-out until 6 pm, and the option to hire one of the hotel’s speciality restaurants. The hotel itself might have a remote location, but there’s plenty to do on-site to keep you and your guests entertained. There’s archery, volleyball, water polo, tennis, aerobics, aqua aerobics, and darts. There’s also a gym and sauna, as well as 10 swimming pools – one of them a mini on-site waterpark! When it’s time to wind down, there’s a buffet restaurant, tennis café, and four bars, as well as evening entertainment. DB Seabank Resort & Spa If you want to combine the beautiful landscape of Malta with a contemporary hotel – then this place ticks the box! Set 50m from a sand-and-shingle beach, this hotel has plenty to keep the loved-up couple and their guests busy. There’s a main swimming pool, kids’ pool and indoor pool, as well as volleyball, mini-golf, French bowls, beach football, and a gym. Food-wise, there’s the main buffet restaurant, Italian restaurant, Jungle-themed American restaurant, Brazilian restaurant, and Asian buffet restaurant. The wedding package here covers all your basics including cake, venue and legal documents. But you can upgrade to the Superior Wedding Package that includes a white dove release, red carpet for the aisle, bridal hair and make-up, and fresh flower centrepiece.
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