What’s in Nebraska?

As a travel counselor we have lots of continuing education in the form of conferences and online studies.  Learning about all the different, new and upcoming destinations, along with all the new ships and tour operators!  There is so much for us to learn!  Oftentimes in life we learn from our own trials/errors.  And oftentimes we find we learn from others.  At least I do!  That’s what happened to me this spring!  While sitting in my office with a client and having some casual talk she mentioned the really neat Zoo in Nebraska.  (INSERT: Jaw dropping)  Now, no offense to those that live in Nebraska but other than Tornadoes and flat roads/highways I didn’t think there was ANYTHING else in Nebraska, at least nothing “touristy”.  BUT!  I was wrong!  I’ve been educated!

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Arriving into Nebraska at dusk

So being the planner that I am- I took a trip that we had planned to Iowa (to go see my in laws) and turned it into a family vacation.  They were excited to join us on our adventure so we met up with them in Nebraska, stayed 2 nights, hit the zoo and then came back to Iowa for a relaxing weekend with family.  From Central IL it is a 6-hr drive.  For my family in Iowa it was about 3.5-4 hours.

A little bit about Nebraska- {Omaha to be exact}:
I recommend you check out the Visit Omaha website!  There are LOTS of quaint places with lots of great eating places- perfect for the FOODIES out there!  There is shopping and things to do!  One of those things to do with families is to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.

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View of the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha, NE

It was a good experience.  Fun for the kids and lots to see.  But I will say I wasn’t impressed with the “shows”.  Rather there weren’t any shows– they had Sea Lion training, Elephant training, and Lion training and really it was just giving the animals commands while a narrator told what they were doing and checking with the animals.  I was SUPER excited for a sea lion show with my son but the show started 5 minutes late (not good with an active, needing-a-nap 2-yr-old) and then did not hold his attention because they didn’t really do anything.  The show ended quickly after it began.  We were all pretty disappointed.  So don’t waste time with the shows!  But I will say the exhibits all had LOTS of viewing areas so you were never “on top” of other people trying to get a “peak”.  There were plenty of windows to move about and see the animals.

While it would’ve been so fun to go “downtown” and eat and walk the streets, our kids were NOT in the mood to be able to do that!  After a long day and heat everyone went back and crashed at the hotel for a short time before we found a BBQ joint nearby, Smoking Jays BBQ.  A mom and pop shop with pretty affordable and good food.  We then spent the evening back at our hotel swimming pool and in our cozy comfy beds!

Another tour option nearby Omaha is Council Bluffs, IA.  We chose to stay here as it was a tad cheaper in price and was about 7 minutes away from the Zoo and the rest of Omaha.  We stayed at the Springhill Suites Marriott.  I could write a blog post on this alone!  Suites are  so nice when traveling with kids.  We also took advantage of the free hot breakfasts! Afterall, who wants to pay for a buffet for a 2-yr old that is going to pick around and eat like a bird?! My niece and sister in law are gluten free and we were pleased with their selection of items available for them as well; they had yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, and fresh fruit.

So let’s break this down!

Omaha for the families:
YOU GUYS! I’m still learning so much about this place and we seriously will need to plan a trip back!  Here are some things to do with your family– in this family-friendly destination!

  1. Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, get up close to the worlds fastest aircraft, Walk under, sit in the cockpit, or peek into the bomber bay of rare warplanes!
  2. Visit Bob The Bridge!  I would’ve loved to take a walk on this Bridge!  Did you know it’s taller than the leaning tower of Pisa?!  It floats 60′ above the Missouri River!
  3. Float down the Elkhorn River in a tube!
  4. Catch a kid-friendly show at the Rose Theater; a fully-restored 1927 theater showcasing childhood favorites!
  5. Rent Heartland B-cycles and go for a family ride through Omaha city parks. (Ages 12+)
  6. Visit the Heartland of America Park and go for a gondola ride similar to those found in Venice, Italy.  Then marvel at one of the worlds largest shooting fountains!
  7. Eat, Play, and Ride at the Amazing Pizza Machine.  A 60,000 sq ft funhouse filled with indoor rides, arcade games, and pizza!
  8. Train lovers?  Walk up to Kenefick Park and visit the Centennial No. 6900 and the Big Boy No 4024, two of the most powerful locomotives ever built.
  9. Explore the First National’s Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park, featuring more than 120 bronze sculptures.
  10. Visit the Children’s Museum!

I’m thinking Fred and I just may need to go back ourselves even, as a couples getaway.  We would stay downtown and visit the Old Market, Midtown Omaha, Central Omaha and so much more!  Each of the entertaining areas deserves to be scouted out and observed!

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Finally- our hotel was located near a large BASS PRO SHOP!  With two “outdoorsy” guys we couldn’t say goodbye to Coucil Bluffs without a stop!  It was fun.  I tried my hand at shooting some fake raccoons, never fear, my aim is terrible.  I think I shot 1 thing (out of 25).  My husband fared a little better….

And finally, after our fast trip to Omaha and the zoo we headed back to Iowa.  There we had the privilege of eating dinner with one of my clients that I get to call MY FRIENDS!  I love the PEOPLE aspect of my job.  I love making YOU happy and I LOVE that the relationships turn into friendships.  I am blessed and thankful!

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Sorry for the blurry picture and the lighting.  It was late and kiddos were tired!  A fast snapshot was all we got!

Safe Journeys,

Megan

Wicked: A weekend in Chicago

So two years ago I took an amazing group of people to Chicago for an overnight trip to see Disney’s the Lion King- on Broadway in Chicago.  I have long wanted to see Lion King so why not have others join us?!  It was a fantastic weekend!  Christmas Shopping, friendly conversation, and a wonderful stay at the Westin on Michigan Ave.

SO- when I saw that my FAVORITE Broadway is coming to Chicago I knew this was another opportunity for me to see it again!  I say again because this will probably be my ….fourth time going?  This is one of my favorite shows.  And you know?  When I FIRST heard about this show; the word WICKED alone; made me think it was something I didn’t want to partake of. I thought it must be a very bad show!  But you know- someone TOLD me about it and RAVED about it so for my birthday one year my sister and I went to see it!  IMG_0602.JPGIt is simply the pre-story to the WIZARD OF OZ! Now i’m guessing MOST of us can say that we have seen, at some point, the Wizard of Oz.  You know– Somewhere Over The Rainbow?  {Random insert:  Interestingly enough I have to share that I JUST TODAY saw that 30 miles from my hometown in Bloomington, IL there is a grave, Infant Dorothy Gage who died of congestion of the Brain at 5 mos old, her aunt and uncle were so devastated that the uncle- writer Frank L Baum, used Dorothy’s name in the Wizard of Oz?  Seriously ?  How cool is that?}

SO– back to Wicked!  Here is the excerpt from the website explaining the story line a bit; I like to abbreviate this explanation; I usually tell people that it is a story about friendship.

“The untold story of the Witches of Oz.  Wicked looks at what happened in oz from a different angle.  There is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin, smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent.  Then she meets a bubbly blonde.  Their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships…until the world decides to call one GOOD and the other one WICKED.” {excerpt as taken from the Wicked The Musical website}

Besides a wonderful story-line, both humorous and endearing, you will hear AMAZING songs (yes I own the soundtrack!!) that, if like me – they just might move you to tears.

So in January, (12-13, 2018) I plan to return to Chicago for a weekend of “Wicked.”  I have roundtrip rail tickets from Bloomington to Chicago, roundtrip transfers to/from the hotel and to/from the show, 1 night staying at the fabulous Westin on Michigan Ave, and tickets to see WICKED!   This is a GREAT opportunity for a couples getaway, a mother-daughter(s) trip, or a ladies group trip!

So won’t you consider joining me? Space is limited- contact me today to reserve your space!  Megan@dreamsellertravel.com or 309.696.5890

Safe Journeys-
Megan

Bloggers Block

Sometimes I get bloggers block– I get stuck on one thought or how something NEEDS to be and I can’t get past it.  Believe it or not, even if my posts are sometimes few and far between, I actually enjoy writing!  I might not be any good but I enjoy it none the less.  Putting my thoughts down on paper.  As a young girl I kept a journal and I wrote stories.  I even shared it with my 8th grade English teacher for pointers in hopes of some day getting published.  And then I found other things I also liked to do– typing, office work, TRAVELING, and eventually “mommying”.  And these things took over my writing.  It is this newest job title of mommy that delays me from sitting down immediately to jot down my thoughts.  Then the “thought has left me” and I feel it wasn’t very important anyway and no one wants to read it.  So I don’t write about it.

To be honest, when I set up this blog I did it after a travel conference I was at.  Encouraging us to blog about our passion:  TRAVEL.  That excited me and so I started up a blog.  But you know what?  This season in my life of being wife, mommy, and THEN Travel Agent isn’t full of exotic destinations and getaways.  It is full of day to day REAL LIFE.  It’s full of diaper explosions, snotty noses, potty training, biting, speech and swim lessons, teething troubles and tears, some days LOTS of tears.  But hey, its real life.

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Teething Troubles for Little One

So I get stuck in “bloggers block”– thinking I need to only write about travel.  But lets be real, I haven’t blogged because I haven’t had a getaway to blog about since last summer.  And if I blog about where I’ve been or where I want to go then discontentment can easily creep in, or even make me feel like I’m “less” of a travel agent because I haven’t been EVERYWHERE!  But let’s be realistic!  This is a BIG world– has anyone been EVERYWHERE?!  So since I don’t have exciting travel things to blog about I wasn’t blogging, even if I had other things that I wanted to say that weren’t travel related.

So today i’m changing that and going to try and get out of my Bloggers Block.  The reason I named my blog “All My Passions” was so that I could feel free to talk about anything I’m passionate about and that my friends is my faith and my family and my travels if God allows me the opportunities to travel.  If my posts continue to bore you or don’t provide enough “travel” insight then perhaps you’d like to go over to my facebook page or to my website to see more travel-related content.  Here you are going to get it all:  the good, the bad, and the ugly at times.  That’s all.  Nothing fancy, not always about an exotic destination- just real.  The insight to the woman behind the Travel Agent!

Safe Journeys,

Megan

 

 

{Belated} Fathers Day Thoughts

So as usual it’s been awhile since my last post.  And I was going to do better this year on blogging but here we are…. Fathers day has come and gone and I couldn’t even get this posted on time.  But that’s OK.  We spent the day worshiping the Lord our Savior in church and then with family so it was OK that I didn’t have time to sit down and jot my thoughts down.  I didn’t even have time to go to the cemetery to see my dad’s grave.  And that’s OK too, because kids sleep schedules and the busy rush of getting to church on time always seem to interrupt going to the cemetery.

As I sat in church and listened to the message on Fathers Day (I actually got to listen as my daughter was napping and my son was with Grandma!)…I was touched and convicted.  He spoke of the older men helping to guide the younger fathers in the room.  Get rid of your pride- no you weren’t perfect- but teach us so we can learn from your mistakes!  And somewhere in time my heart and thoughts drifted to my own dad- as it always does on Fathers day and I felt compelled to teach and encourage others out there.  This can apply to both sons and daughters but being a woman I am more directly focusing on the daughters!

You might be a young teen or in early-womanhood years, or a mommy of your own with small children at home, or a mother with grown children; regardless of your “status” now- ALWAYS remember….you were FIRST a daughter.  A daughter first loved by her Creator and Lord whether you’ve accepted that fact as truth or not, the truth still remains.  And second a daughter loved by her earthly father.  You’ve heard it said (and I can attest to this) you won’t know the love of your parents until you become one yourself.  Being a parent, so full of LOVE, JOY, and EXCITEMENT as you watch your child grow is SUFFOCATING.  (in a good way).  Some days I am so full of this joy and love that I feel I cannot breath or that my heart will BURST with the emotions I feel.  You will not understand this until you become a parent.  As a parent you want nothing but the best for your tiny loves.  When we watch them go through hurts or pains we want to “fix it”, help, and guide, all through an aching heart.  And sometimes as children we are resistant to this help and that causes a strain and a friction in the relationship with our father- both heavenly and earthly.

While everyone yesterday was posting pictures of their fathers giving them away on their wedding day I was thinking…  I have no high school graduation pictures with my dad,  he wasn’t at my baptism at church when I publicly announced Jesus as my Lord and Savior, nor was he at my wedding to give my husband words of wisdom on how to “deal with his daughter”, and he wasn’t there to hold his precious grand-babies that he would love SO much.

OH Daughters.  Stop what you are doing.  Stop the “yeah but…” thoughts and the “but he said” or “he hurt me”… just stop.  Whatever your relationship with your father good or bad, RUN to him.  Hug him like you never have before. Hold tight.  Smell his scent.  Hear his laughter, watch his eyes well up with tears at your sudden change of heart, and whisper I LOVE YOU DADDY.  If you are at odds with your fathers this will be hard to do.  But let me tell you– if he was on his death bed it would be the easiest thing for you to do.  And you would be sobbing and wondering if he heard you and if he really knows how much you love him.  Don’t wait- don’t wonder or assume  he knows.  Do it for him.  Do it for you.  Because someday he won’t be there anymore and you will forget what those strong hugs from daddy feel like.  

Happy Belated Fathers Day to my Fathers in Heaven.  I will always love you!  Until we meet again–

Megan

 

Like a child…

Recently in the early morning hours my daughter of 3 months woke me with her cries.  She NEEDED me and was pleading for me to come to her with her ferocious cries.  I knew she was hungry and begged to be fed.  As I prepared her bottle and quickly picked her up from her crib I attempted to comfort her with my light whispers and my touch.  As I settled into the rocker I attempted to tuck her burp cloth around her chin to catch any dribbles.   As I did this her head tossed from side to side as she frantically searched out her food source and her arms flailed about in frustration as her wailing grew louder and more adamant.  Taking one of her arms I gently tucked it underneath mine to contain it and once again attempted to begin feeding.  This time her face turned into the burp cloth and nibbled anxiously at the cloth, the fake food substitute that wasn’t food at all but how she longed for something!!! Finally I managed to get her head aligned with the bottle and she sucked fervently until she succumbed to sleep. As I rocked her and fed her and changed her and cradled her I wondered with a smirk on my face “doesn’t she know I want to help her?  Doesn’t she know I’ll take care of her but she is hindering me with her flailing arms and tossing head?”. 

And that’s when I stopped still.  And prayed.  I realized that I too, a “grown” women, am just like my child…my infant baby in fact.

We ALL are.  You see it starts with….we ALL need something! So we cry out to our Father.  Sometimes the middle of the night or during daytime or morning hours.  Pleading and begging for Him to come.  We NEED help, grace,peace, answers to our questions of why.  We demand answers and understanding.  We say “thy will be done” but we continue to toss out heads and flail our arms thinking He hasn’t heard us or He isn’t there doing anything.  And He thinks, “doesn’t she know I want to help her?  Doesn’t she know I’ll take care of her but she is hindering me with her flailing arms and tossing head?”. 

So He continues to holds us.  Cradles us, loves us, and whispers love to calm us but our cries of anguish and our demands drown out his Fatherly voice of calm, reason, and patience…

This is human nature.  My daughter was born with the ability to cry and be heard so I would know to come to her and give her nutrients.  We are born with that same ability.  It’s okay to cry out to God and to share our hurt, frustrations, fears and sorrows.  But then we must fight our “infant childlike” nature and pray dilligently and leave it there.  Resting calmly and waiting while He holds us and loves us.  He WILL answer in his timing.  He will come to us and answer our calls. Don’t stuff your fists into your mouth or your burp cloth by finding other sources of things to comfort you.  NO! Wait on Him.  He is there working to help you.  Let Him work.

Praying for you today my friends that you can seek HIM and cry out to him… Wherever you are in life.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus…Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!”

Safe journeys!

Megan

A Costa Rican Honeymoon!

Hard to believe that five years ago today, Monday January 16th, my husband and I headed off on our honeymoon! We’d had a great wedding and reception on Sunday surrounded by our family and friends and had left the reception and drove to Chicago.  We spent the night in one of the park and fly hotels and the next morning took the shuttle to the airport.  These hotels are great options and are available from most airports.  Allowing you to pay for a good nights sleep and get free parking while you are gone.  Sure beats those airport parking charges!

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Arriving to Liberia Airport, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

About Guanacaste, Costa Rica
We flew into Liberia Airport, Guanacaste area of Costa Rica.  Guanacaste is considered the “Next Hawaii” as it is just as diverse in its region as the islands of Hawaii.  They are also experiencing a “building boom”.  Costa Rica has beautiful expansive beaches, many of them with black volcanic sand.  Beautiful sparkling blue and clear water bordered with forest life. The WEATHER in Guanacaste is drier that the rest of the country and can be subject to drought.  The rest of the country is by far wetter and is considered more of a rainforest with its own unique area to explore.  Guanacaste area boasts farms and cattle ranches and also has a large cowboy plantation.  Generally speaking, Costa Rica has a drier season (our Winter) and a wetter, rainy season (our Summer).

Accommodations in Costa Rica
We chose to stay all inclusive for our honeymoon.  There are many all inclusive options but we chose the Hilton Papagayo.  (note: Hilton Papagayo has since been re-branded and is now the Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica!)  This property was beautiful and among the things I remember the most is the hillside it was built into and the calm water in front of it!  There was a shuttle that ran around the resort as the rooms were in separate buildings, built into the hillside on some pretty steep hills.  You are welcome to walk it yourself or you can ride from room to pool / food areas.  We did some of each.  The water, since it is on the Papagayo bay, is extremely calm.  Think mild, quiet, lapping waves at your feet.  Not the ocean swells rolling in like your common beach location.  A wonderful beach that had very few people enjoying it when we were there.

Activities in Costa Rica
Well I didn’t want my new husband to be bored on our honeymoon just sitting in the sun!  We scheduled couples massages, a must-do splurge on any honeymoon, in my opinion!  And then scheduled an ATV-Zip lining activity.  Let me tell you!  this was SO fun!  We each got a quick orientation of our ATV’s and then we were off!  We mostly stuck to main roads/country roads and a few fields.  We arrived to the Zip line location and our guide left us while we did the zip-lining.  That was a lot of fun.  We could hear the monkey’s screeching but alas – to my disappointment- they were not to be seen in the trees!!  After the zip lining excursion we were re-united with our ATV’s and guide.  He whisked us off and we took a NEW route home.  This route was fun and a little more “off road!”.  We both had a ball.

There is so much to do in Costa Rica.  Zip Lining and ATV’s are just a small scratch.  You can also do day tours into the central portions of Costa Rica and to the rain forests and volcanoes.  There are multiple land AND sea tour options!  This is a GREAT destination for corporate meetings, weddings, and family travel as there is truly something for everyone- all ages!

Until next time!!  Safe journeys!
Megan

Hyatt Regency Hill Country: In Review

Hyatt Regency Hill Country– another of the signature properties that I recommend.  This is a very nice property!  Sitting just outside the River Walk area of San Antonio about a 1/2 hour.  We chose NOT to rent a car and we used Lyft to get there.  It was not a bad drive and the cost was not bad as we planned to stay and relax at the resort and not be out and about.  However for the more active travelers there are plenty of surrounding “cowboy” towns that come highly recommended!  We would’ve loved to have tried one of these towns but time just didn’t permit on this trip!

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Pulling up to the Hyatt!

This resort is located on 300 acres and boasts 3 golf courses, numerous conference/meeting and ballrooms, and a 5-acre water park.  While we were there (as it was July) there were a lot of multi-generational families there.  Grandpas and Grandmas, Aunts and Uncles, children, and parents.  The property- is exceptional for families and I see it as a great potential meeting point for family reunions and vacations.

The resort is laid out nicely in a way that those adults coming for conference/meetings were near the golf courses and the nice restaurant but were on the opposite side of most of the rooms and the other commotion and activities of the hotel.

When you walked into the resort lobby you could go left to the reservation and concierge desk as well as to a majority of the rooms.  To the right down a hall and past the coffee shop and souvenir shop there were a few more rooms, a restaurant and then that went on to an even longer hallway where you ran into the beautiful ballroom and meeting rooms as well as the fine dining option: Antlers- which I’ll mention more on later.  We did venture to Antlers one evening and had a great fine “southern” dinner out!  Please note:  reservations are recommended at Antlers.

The property hosts 2 presidential suites and 2 VIP Suites.  For those families wanting a more quaint experience consider renting the Sunday House.  It has two bedrooms upstairs and their own private outdoor sitting area with a grille.  This property is on the grounds but separate from the main building and its accommodations.  The Sunday house can sleep up to six and there is a golf cart at your disposal to use around the grounds.

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Our king room overlooking the grounds below

Nearby the Sunday house there is a spa- the Windflower Hill Country Spa; with services ranging from special packages, to body massages and scrubs, nail services, hair and makeup services, gentlemens packages, and young adult services for those under 17.

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Windflower Spa

Plenty to do:  There is plenty to do during the day and night at Hyatt Hill Country.  We mostly enjoyed our days lounging by the adults only pool (shaped like the state of Texas!) and the hot tub with a beautiful waterfall into it!  Nearby there are cabanas that you can rent for the day for your family.  They had small fridge’s in them, TV’s and some chairs.  A nice quiet private meeting point for your family throughout the days activities.  Next there was an activity pool that hosted water volley ball and basketball.  We also enjoyed time floating the lazy river.  My husband even attempted the water slide a few times and enjoyed himself!  Probably one of the most sought after attractions was the flowrider.  You can rent it for $25/hr and they work with you for the whole hr along with a small handful of other participants.  It was fun to sit at Vince’s watering hole and watch the surfers.  In the evening they had S’mores available.  That was a fun experience for the whole family to gather around the fire pit under the stars and roast!  They also had a family movie night under the stars complete with blankets and popcorn.  There are complimentary bikes for your use, a walking/hiking trail (shared with the bikers) and as mentioned previously: golfing!  Camp Hyatt is offered at an additional charge for kids ages 3-12 and offers a variety of activities with the camp counselors such as arts and crafts, face painting, scavenger hunts, board games and more!  When we saw these “campers” around they were always smiling!  You must book these services 24 hrs in advance.

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Adults only jacuzzi!

Plenty to eat:  The Spring house cafe was the main dining establishment serving all three meals.  They offer a buffet or a menu to order from.  We sampled the breakfast buffet one morning and it was good- albeit very expensive we felt from a family view-point.  We also ordered and shared off the menu. In the same waiting foyer as the Spring house cafe you will find the General Store.  Here you could get things like suntan lotion, shirts, jams, pop tarts, muffins, soda, pizza, and more for your purchase.  They also had egg burritos for breakfast and coffee drinks should you want something smaller than what the Spring house breakfast has!   We got their pizza from the General store however and were not impressed with it.  It was fairly generic

We didn’t have a rental car so we didn’t venture out however I would recommend ordering pizza in or even Chinese- as it might be a little cheaper and there were places nearby (just not within walking distance) that you could eat at.  Antlers was the fine dining option.  It was only open Tuesday – Saturday and reservations were recommended.  A great place for “sophisticated Texas cuisine paired with your choice of fine wine”.  Outside there were several pool bars such as Papa Ed’s pool bar and Ice Cream Parlor and Vince’s watering hole.  Great places with great beverage and “lunch” grilled items around the pool.  We had the chicken fingers and the endless chips and salsa and there was so much more!  The ice cream is a little pricey but you got a decent amount for the price.  Finally the Cactus Oak Tavern is located near the golf course and offers sandwiches there for lunch as well.

An additional bonus to booking this property through me or on my website:  you will receive full breakfast for 2 daily at the Spring house Cafe, a $50 resort credit, and complimentary valet parking!

Again- this is a great central stopping point near the downtown riverwalk, as well as other nearby cowboy towns, just 4 minutes from Seaworld and 18 mins from Six Flags San Antonio.  This is a great family-friendly place with an ideal location in central San Antonio Texas!

Safe Journeys-

Megan

Time to review: Mokara Hotel and Spa

One of the three properties I got to tour while I was in Texas in July is the the Mokara Hotel and Spa.  This property is a signature property that is offered in prime downtown river walk location in San Antonio, TX.  From the property your access to the river walk is actually across the street or you can go to their restaurant, Ostra, and from there exit directly onto the river walk.  It is in a prime location, geared towards couples and business travelers.  The Mokara’s neighboring and sister resort, Omni La Mansion Del Rio, is geared more towards its family guests and some business guests as this sister property hosts the majority of the business meeting rooms.  The guests at the Omni facility have access to use the Mokara fitness center.

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The Luxurious Mokara Hotel and Spa

We started our tour on the second floor of the Mokara.  This is the location of their magnificent 17,000 square foot spa, certainly the masterpiece of the whole property. This floor also hosts their spa hotel rooms.   From these rooms guests can walk in their spa bath robes easily to/from the spa.   These rooms also boast wood floors making it a clean air option for those with severe allergies.  These rooms boast high ceilings and fans.  The room amenities include complimentary espresso, as well as a butler staff to draw your bath and to press clothing items.  The Mokara property also offers a complimentary vehicle service for guests traveling within a 3-mile radius of the hotel, so there is no need to rent a car.

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King Spa Room

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The lovely and relaxing soaking room at the spa

This property also has 2-suites.  One handicap suite on the 6th floor and a traditional suite on the 7th floor.  These suites are two bedroom and two bath.   With a connecting hallway.  Each room in the suite has their own entry to the hall.  The one room has a large king bed and the second room can be either a sitting lounge / living room or there is a murphy pull down bed that can sleep an additional two people.

Due to the rainy day I  didn’t venture outside onto the rooftop, nor did I get pictures, of their outstanding rooftop pool oasis and rooftop cafe and sitting area!  A tranquil and relaxing place to be.  They can also turn this rooftop oasis into a whimsical party location for any of your special events or small gatherings!

This property should definitely be considered for your next stay in San Antonio….keeping in mind it is the only 4 diamond property in San Antonio. Should you book this property via my website: www.dreamsellertravel.com OR call me to arrange it for you, then you will receive extra amenities for your stay which include; full breakfast for each guest daily at their restaurant, Ostra, a $100 food and beverage credit, and a welcome seasonal fruit amenity. PLUS if available you will be privileged to a room upgrade, early check-in, and late check-out!  Now that’s a deal!

My next property review is from the Hyatt Hill Country where we spent the duration of our stay in Texas.

Safe Journeys!
Megan

San Antonio Riverwalk review

Hello from lovely San Antonio, Texas! 

What a wonderful city!  I have to admit my husband was a little hesitant of a “big city” stay;  we are not big into crowds and congestion but the River walk is a far cry from the normal city congestion!

We arrived to San Antonio and have been greeted by very friendly and chatty Texan friends! Yesterday afternoon I had the ability to tour two great, albeit, different properties.  I can’t wait to share them with you in my future blog post. 

For this city getaway we chose to stay at the Westin San Antonio River walk.

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This hotel has a great location.  Approximately 2-3 blocks from the historic Alamo and easy access to the bus to the local missions.  It’s also located right on the river walk with easy access to the river taxis and sightseeing barges that the San Antonio River walk is famous for.  What we like best about this particular resort is the quiet area of the river walk it sits on.  We have a few nearby restaurants but the “strip” of restaurants is just around the corner and a nice pleasant walk.  Even in the summer heat the trees lining the walk and the gentle breeze off the river makes for a very pleasant stroll!

The weather here is much like Illinois. Both yesterday and today it was partly cloudy and in the 90’s.  Both days we had a quick little heavy rain downpour that came around 4-5 but didn’t last long.

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Downpour on the Riverwalk

For our first evening in town we headed down to the colorful marketplace.  Here you can find your colorful Mexican trades and souvenirs at affordable prices.   Along wi

th of course…

restaurants (complete with mariachi singers) and even on some days a farmers market. 

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On day #2, our first full day in San Antonio, started with a signature Texan breakfast of….egg tacos at La VILLITA Cafe located just a very short walk from our hotel.  From there we headed off to the Alamo.

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From there we hopped on the #40 bus to see the other missions.  There are 4 missions other than the Alamo but only 3 are accessible by bus.  San Juan is the furthest away of the three that are reachable…about a ten minute bus ride.  It is also the least restored and is in ruins.   There is a church there open to the public but due to recent storm damage it is shutdown as they make repairs.  We chose to not go to see this one. 

We started at San Jose Mission.  A beautiful mission, the grounds cover the length of a football field.  I would also recommend the video in the visitor center as it is very informative as to how/why the missions were built and set up. 

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The next mission we visited was mission concepion.

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These four extra missions are a part of the National Parks system of the US and were recently (July 2015) named as UNESCO world heritage sites.

These tours and walking took us into the afternoon.  From there we walked and enjoyed the river walk until settling on a place to eat lunch or maybe it was supper even? 

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Yesterday I happened to see a book that called San Antonio the little Venice of Texas.  I thought that truly fitting as it is a city on canals, quite similar to Venice.
In the evening we took a walk along the Riverwalk and enjoyed all the nightlife as the Riverwalk doesn’t shut down but becomes lively.  Again it was quiet and romantic where our hotel property is, but around the bend there was a party going on!  The Riverwalk is beautiful at night and lit up by all the lights along the water. 

I can only imagine what this place must look like at Christmas time.  Perhaps sometime I’ll be back for the lighting of the river that takes place in Christmas just before the Christmas festivities begin!

Today we head into the Hill Country of Texas…stay tuned for more updates!

Safe Journeys!
Megan

Travel Insurance – to buy or not to buy?

Good morning friends!!  As promised- I told you I’d be back with a blog on trip insurance! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and chat with me!

I want to preface this post by saying what I tell ALL my clients… {I have never had a client come home and say “I really wish I wouldn’t have spent the money on that trip insurance”.  Usually they have forgotten they purchased it and have nothing but good things to say about their wonderful trip.  On the FLIP side when I get those phone calls that there is trouble, delays/health issues and there is a travel claim issued I ALWAYS have clients say “I’m so glad we got the insurance.”}

When I first started offering trip insurance I’ll be honest- I didn’t care one way or the other if my clients took it – I was merely offering it.  Now however I have a STRONG feeling about it and I am pretty vocal as I have had experience with it!  That said I will never FORCE it on anyone but merely recommend it and give instances where it was useful, the ultimate choice is always yours.  In the event that clients choose to decline insurance I like to receive that notification via email (in writing) or else have you sign a waiver declining it.  This protects us both.

So I often get asked if I see the “need” for travel insurance.  I’ll be honest, when I was young and single – I didn’t see the need.  So I “winged” it.  BUT knowing what I know now (and note: in the future if my children want to travel with friends they will allow money to budget for the insurance!).  Thankfully when I was younger and single everything always seemed to work out.  Yes I see the need.  I have a couple of claims every year.  In 2014 I believe it was I had 3 claims in just one winter (within a 1-2 month time frame).  Two were weather related flight cancellations and one was an ill parent and the trip was interrupted.

So just to give you some examples of claims I’ve had.

-An elderly parent gets ill and a couple flies home early resulting in lost days of rental car, hotel, and the return flight.  Extra cost of the flight home.  They were reimbursed for the lost days and a portion of the extra cost for the flight home.

-Most recently clients international flight got delayed…and delayed….and again delayed.  Finally flight crew couldn’t fly so the flight was cancelled.  The next international flight out was the next day resulting they missed the departure of their cruise ship.  Flew them to Paris to catch the boat.  Arrived and due to some internal country political issues the boat decided not to stop there.  They had an overnight hotel, flight to ANOTHER port to catch the boat, another night at a hotel and 3 missed cruising days.  All awaiting payment by claims right now.  Over $3000 – the insurance was well worth it and clients were thankful they purchased it with Travel Guard.

-Honeymoon couple gets a call that their brother is having emergency surgery and its potentially life threatening.  Thankfully in this case everything worked out and they didn’t need to file a claim but we were prepared to file a claim to get them home sooner than expected.

-Family coming home from a winter trip and gets stuck in Atlanta with flight delays resulting in them staying overnight to catch the next flight but they need to get home for school.  I was able to rent them a van and they drove home.  Insurance covered the vehicle, gas, hotel stop, and meals on the way home.

The list goes on.  Unfortunately things happen on vacation that you don’t want to think about – even personal injury while on vacation or even death.  No one ever wants to think about that!   Adults traveling with children being left at home or elderly parents, I recommend it.  You never know what could happen- even though all is GREAT where you are something might not be so great at home.

Personally we buy trip insurance every time due to my husbands job and our son (if we leave him at home).  My husband is a hog farmer.  He has lots of concerns and stress when we leave the farm.  What happens if a building collapses or perhaps there is a fire at one of our hog buildings? These things could happen before we leave or while we are gone and we can rest easy knowing if we need to get home in a hurry (or cancel the trip) we can and submit a claim to get our money back.  No one should have to be without the money that they saved for so long to go on that wonderful trip.  Without the trip insurance a bad situation is made WORSE and a trip is potentially ruined.

Thanks for listening to my ramblings on trip insurance!  Let me know in the comments section if you have more questions on trip insurance and I’d love to answer them!

Safe Journeys- until next time!

Megan