Five Fabulous Beaches in Barbados

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Barbados is a Caribbean island. More than that, it’s one of the most popular sun-soaked destinations worldwide. Travelers flock to the island for its unspoiled natural beauty. Naturally, think sunshine and you also think of beaches. One of the biggest draws of Barbados holidays are the beaches found here, which can rival anywhere else in the world.

Here are five of the very best:

Crane Beach

One of the more idyllic stretches of beach on the island, this destination is ideal for families, and features white sand and clear blue waters which are perfect for snorkeling. Many travelers come here to swim because the waves are fairly small, and are perfect for body-boarders. If you’re with young children, though, you should always supervise while they’re in the water.

Cattlewash Beach

Cattlewash is one of the more secluded beaches on the island, featuring several miles of sand to stroll along as well as natural rock pools where you can take a dip. The strong undercurrents, however, make swimming a little risky. Despite this, you’ll see lots of surfers, thanks to its large breakwaters, as well as people who want to escape the buzz of the more popular beaches.

Payne’s Bay

One of the most visited beaches on the island, the colorful reef close to the shore makes Payne’s a terrific place to go swimming and snorkeling. You can even interact with turtles here. Many operators can ferry you the short distance out to sea for a memorable swim. Don’t worry about the equipment, a lot of them will provide you with it so that you don’t miss out.

Mullins beach

This west coast beach really does pull in the crowds and can get pretty busy at times. A lot of the beach goers come here to swim, or take part in water sports, since Mullins has calmer waters than other beaches. Water-based activities can be organized for you by operators found on the beach.

Accra Beach

This well-known, south coast beach is popular with families and locals alike. It’s the perfect place to sunbathe while lazing on the long stretches of white sands with a good novel. There’s good surf to be found at Accra, meaning those interested in taking a dip won’t be disappointed. If you want to relax, take a serene stroll along the board walk, where you can peruse the local vendors and food stalls.

Whatever your reason for visiting Barbados, be sure to hit up these beaches if you have the time. If they don’t tickle your fancy, however, there are plenty of others to explore when here, so enjoy!

Disclosure:  This post was written in collaboration with Thomson.

Smoothly plan your last minute travel itineraries

IMG_0504.JPGThere’s something to be said about sitting at home one day, then going on an impromptu vacation the next. The thrill of spontaneity and the “I can’t believe we’re doing this” factor are two sweet combinations. That being said, it can be a bit nerve wracking as vacations are usually planned out months in advance, and not only a week or two. In light of that, here’s how to smoothly plan an instant holiday.
Get in the right mindset
This is the most important part, to let go of control over every single detail and just enjoy the ride. Last minute holidays are best enjoyed by letting the fun come to you and your family, by not knowing what the day brings and flying by the seat of your pants. A last minute holiday is an adventure, and you should take that mindset into the holiday itself.
Choose where you’re going
Seems pretty obvious, that you would need to pick a place to go before going on a spontaneous trip. While you may have some destinations in mind, the key is to not be picky. You never know what place will have the cheapest airfare, it may be a place you’ve never thought about before. You don’t even need to fly, sometimes just driving a few hours for a change of scene will be enough.
Have everything ready
As soon as you have booked everything, make sure that you have got everything you need and keep them in a safe place. This includes: passport, printed off flight tickets, hotel reservations and another form of ID. Look over all the times and details with an intricate eye then don’t forget to check in. There will be an exchange point at the airport where you can change currency, so don’t worry about rushing to find one near you.
Act like a local
Chances are you’re not going to want to do “touristy” things the whole time you’re on holiday, they’ll be times when you just want to veg out and relax. That’s when you can start acting like a local, and do what locals do. You’ll find out more about the city and what truly makes that city special, away from the tourist traps.
A spontaneous trip is great when you’re feeling stressed or just need to get a way for a bit. With these tips in mind, hopefully you’ll have a great, inexpensive trip filled with lots of memories.
Disclosure: The post was published in collaboration with Thomson.

A Very Special Date Night at the Carlton Hotel

Truth be told – my husband and I have not had a romantic weekend without our kids in a very long time. Between work, our kids, school, finances and our dog, we don’t get away much anymore. So when the PR team from the Carlton offered me the chance to take my hubby with me for a special night out on the town, I jumped at the chance.
One week after Valentine’s Day, we were primed and ready to head into the city while our nearly sixteen year old daughter took on the responsibility of watching her younger brother and all our pets. As we headed into the city, it started to snow…for what seemed like the bazillionith time, but that was okay. We were going on a 24 hour adventure and I couldn’t wait.
We arrived at the hotel about an hour later and when we got to the front desk, we were surprised to find out that we had been upgraded to the Diva Suite. Take a look….
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The cool thing about the Diva Suite is that it feels like you’ve stepped into an episode of “Mad Men.” The decor has a 1960’s retro feel and the elegant couch and armchairs reminded me of the furniture my parents owned when I was growing up (they bought their living room set in the early 1960’s). Plus, the bedroom had a king sized canopy bed and a vanity that you’d find backstage at a Broadway Show. The walls were adorned with pictures of some of the most memorable Broadway divas on the planet including Liza Minelli, Patti Lupone and Bernadette Peters.
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While my hubby brought a bottle of wine from home we were surprised by room service when they arrived with a complimentary bottle of prosecco. The night so far was absolutely phenomenal.

We decided to opt for a quick dinner at the hotel because we were planning to see “Honeymoon in Vegas” that night on Broadway. Millesime is a seafood brasserie that boasts a two star Michelin chef – the food is simply superb and the wait service was also top notch. All I can say is make sure you order the warm cesar salad – it’s like eating french onion soup…but it’s a salad. Beyond delicious!
Once we finished our meal (the snapper special for two was phenomenal), we raced out of the hotel to make the show. Once we arrived, I picked up our tickets and we only had a few minutes to spare. While Darin hit the bathroom, I proceeded to head to my seat and to my surprise, I was greeted by Jason Alexander who had to move out of the row so I could make my way towards the middle of the aisle. When he stood up, Alexander quipped, “That’s what happens when you arrive 10 minutes before the show.” I couldn’t tell if he was joking or annoyed at me – either way, I was kind of honored to be insulted by George Costanza and then quickly grabbed my phone and texted my hubby to tell him to enter our row from the other side so that we didn’t bug Jason again. Luckily, he got the message and before we knew it, the show started.
HMV-New-Trio-w-Elvis-emailable.jpgWe really enjoyed the show and I have to say, I was quite impressed by Tony Danza’s performance. Who knew the former “Who’s the Boss” star could tap dance and sing like a former member of the rat pack? Plus, Rob McClure was terrific as Jack, the fiancĂ© who’s convinced his mom has put a curse on him forbidding him to ever get married. Meanwhile, Brynn O’Malley portrays Betsy – a gorgeous blonde haired, blue eyed teacher who’s determined to get Jack to finally commit even after he sells her for a weekend in a poker game gone bad.
After the show was over, the crowd poured out into the streets where we all battled an incredibly messy wintry mix of freezing rain and snow. With the weather wreaking havoc on the sidewalks and the streets of the Big Apple, there was no way we were going to find a cab. Once I saw an entrance to the N&R trains out of the corner of my eye, my street smart subway instincts took over, I grabbed Darin’s hand and we zipped downstairs, hopped on the R train and were back at the hotel within 15 minutes.
By the time we returned, the hotel was hopping – while the DJ was playing great dance music, we decided to return to the suite where we could unwind without any distractions. Before we knew it, our night in the city had passed us by and it was time to head back to reality. Despite the fact that our night away from the kids was quick, we were relieved to find out the house was still in one piece and our kids survived. So much so that they can’t wait until we spend the night away from home again!
If you’re in the mood for a fabulous getaway in the Big Apple, definitely check out the Carlton Hotel. They are offering an amazing Honeymoon in Vegas package until February 28 complete with free show tickets and an executive king room. Trust me when I tell you, it’s totally worth it to spend a night away to reconnect with your partner. If you are lucky enough to enjoy the evening in a hotel suite at the Carlton, make sure you tell them Role Mommy sent you!

Don’t Miss The Howlidays at Great Wolf Lodge

Written by Role Mommy Wing Mom Danielle Feigenbaum

Lexandwolf.JPG Last week my family and I had a taste of the fantastic Great Wolf Lodge right in New York City. Great Wolf Resorts is the world’s largest chain of indoor water parks which owns and operates its family resorts under the Great Wolf Lodge brand. Even though we were in a hotel ballroom, we were transported to a magical land with holiday celebrations galore. There were crafts, delicious food, cookie decorating and of course the famous wolves, Wiley and Violet. My husband, kids (ages 10 and 7) and I all thought the food was really good, especially the desserts. The kids decorated howl-o-ween bags that they will use to trick or treat next week and my daughter and I were transformed into princesses and treated to some pampering at the “Scoops Spa”. Here is an idea of how much fun you can have around Halloween at any of the Great Wolf Lodge locations…
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Howl-O-Ween:
Great Wolf Lodge – North America’s largest family of indoor waterparks – presents Howl-O-Ween, a Halloween celebration dedicated to providing “spooktacular” fun for the whole family with rates starting at $199 per night. Available at all twelve Great Wolf Lodge locations spanning Kansas City to New England throughout October, families can participate in a bevy of seasonal thrills and chills when noting the HOWL promo code at time of booking. During Howl-O-Ween, children are free to join a trail of trick-or-treaters as they collect ghostly goodies along a spooky path, don their most frightening costumes for a parade, attend a monster-themed dance party and end the night with some boo-bit scary stories.
Most families are looking for something fun to do during the holidays when the kids are out of school. Look no further…
Snowland:
Snowland, Great Wolf Lodge’s month-long winter celebration (available at all Great Wolf Lodges spanning Grand Mound, Washington to Williamsburg, VA), offers up festive activities from visits with Santa Clause to indoor snow showers to a Polar Wolf Walk. For a truly delectable experience, visitors are invited to dine inside the resort’s life-size gingerbread house. Great Wolf Lodge has partnered with Just Born, makers of PEEPS, Mike and Ikes and Hot Tamales, to create the edible gingerbread house. Featuring more than 5,000 candies, 600 pounds of gingerbread dough and 1,320 pounds of sugar, the gingerbread house will be baked, iced and candied to perfection, providing the setting for a memorable holiday feast. The appetizing walls of the lodge-baked abode have as much heart as taste as the proceeds for each meal go to charity.
From our little peek at what Great Wolf Lodge has to offer, we are looking forward to visiting a location near us soon!
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Riding High with the Toyota Highlander

photo (7).jpgTruth be told – I haven’t owned a car with a third row since my kids were toddlers. But there is something to be said about having lots of space – especially when you travel with a four legged companion, grandparents and of course, our kids.
This summer, I had the chance to try out the brand new Toyota Highlander for one week. I happen to love getting the opportunity to drive a new car over the summer – especially because we love to take lots of road trips this time of year. Riding in a new car, with that distinct new car smell always makes me smile and I have to say, our set of wheels for the week did not disappoint. While my kids were in sleep away camp, we actually took the car for a road trip with our faithful companion Santana. Yes, our dog happens to love riding in cars so she instantly took to her new digs. We placed her crate in the trunk by flipping down the third row and she periodically poked her head out of her home to survey the scenery.
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What I loved about the car – especially since we have kids and pets are the all weather mats that you can find throughout the vehicle. Nothing tracks mud and crumbs than those rubber mats and it makes it super easy to clean after you’ve been on a road trip with bags full of chips, dog treats, drinks, fruit and more.
The other elements I enjoyed was the fact that I could regulate the temperature on my side of the car. That’s one thing my husband and I always disagree about – he’s always too warm and I’m always too cold, so it was nice that I could select a nice balmy temperature for me, while he kept his side as chilly as a meat locker. The power seats were also quite comfortable. They actually include lumbar support so if you have a bad back, you can adjust the seat so that it makes it more comfortable to drive. Another great feature is the back up camera so that you don’t miss anything or anyone who might be behind you. The camera also comes in handy for parking since there’s a red bar that shows you when you are too close to the vehicle behind you.
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The Highlander also includes traditional bells and whistles including an option for your bluetooth phone, the chance to sign up for Siriux XM radio and a Nav system. But what I also loved was the Entune app suite that enables you to listen to streaming radio from Pandora and make dinner reservations from one of my favorite apps, Open Table.
Another awesome feature…the trunk that opens and closes at the touch of a button making it easy to take out packages from the supermarket and close the trunk all with one hand. The car also came equipped with a sunroof, which we didn’t use this time around since we weren’t sure if Santana would use it as an escape hatch.
We did take a mini road trip during our week with our Highlander when we visited with my parents in Southampton. The four of us and Santana took a day trip to Greenport, Long Island one morning where Santana had a staring contest with my mom and couldn’t contain herself whenever she saw another dog as we shopped at the local boutiques.
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Overall, I have to say, I did enjoy giving the Toyota Highlander a whirl. The ride was incredibly smooth and as a mom, I really did appreciate all those extras that make driving an SUV super easy and fun. And even though I typically don’t ride in a car with seating for seven, I have to say I did love having the extra space and would totally consider getting a Toyota once our car lease is up in a few months.
To find out more about the Toyota Highlander, visit their website and check out the incredibly impressive reviews and awards they’ve received regarding safety and consumer experiences.
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary one week test drive of the 2014 Toyota Highlander. All opinions are 100% my own.

“FED UP” Opens My Eyes to What’s Been Sabotaging My Diet & and My Health

Over the past year, I’ve put on a few extra pounds and have been a bit depressed. After trying every diet on the planet — from Jenny Craig, to Weight Watchers, to a juice cleanse, I really never understood why I couldn’t just exercise and eat sensible meals and stay at a weight where I feel comfortable about my arms, my legs and everything in between. But alas, no matter what I do, I typically lose weight, keep it off for a few months and then I return right back where I started from with a few extra pounds added to my 5 foot 1 frame.
After my latest diet and exercise debacle, I watched the documentary “FED UP.” The film, by Stephanie Soechtig, is narrated by television news and talk veteran Katie Couric who serves as one of the executive producers. Opening nationwide May 9, “FED UP” shares the stories of several children and their families who are grossly overweight. The reason? They’ve been eating processed foods at home gorging on calorie laden meals at school and snacking on items that are just plain bad for them. “FED UP” also shares how the low-fat craze that started in the early 1980’s has pretty much sabotaged our eating habits. Personally, I have fallen victim to low-fat eating, purchasing low fat or no fat items for more than three decades and it has not helped in my quest to remain at a normal weight. In fact, after a certain point, I’ve struggled to lose weight because I had been clogging up my system with foods that are just not real. When you are young, you don’t think these foods will do anything to you, but lately, I’m concerned. I’ve been having lots of leg and knee issues and even see a build up of fluid in my calves. I’m seeking medical attention to make sure it’s nothing serious, but for now, I’ve decided to take my life back by finally eating right.
In “FED UP,” you will learn a great deal about what foods are doing us in and the #1 culprit is sugar. Something I never realized is that as a woman, I’m only supposed to have 4 teaspoons of sugar per day. There are 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon — which means that if you have low fat salad dressing or coffee with sugar, you can easily hit your allotment of sugar instantly. And if you start your morning cereal – like Honey Nut Cheerios, you will instantly sabotage your sugar goal for the day. If you decide to throw in a sweetener, well, that’s not good for you either. That will only make you want to crave sweets even more.
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While attending a press session and for the film, I listened in as Katie Couric shared her personal experience with the food industry and admitted that she too fell for the low fat craze and remembers being excited that she could finally eat Snack Wells since they promised to be lower in fat. Unfortunately, it was high in sugar. Today, Katie says she still has trouble ditching her sweetener for good but she has switched to Shredded Wheat (which has no sugar) and tries to eat all natural foods but still uses sweetener from time to time.
Laurie David, who is also an executive producer of the film also shared her family’s transition to natural foods and cooking and said she wishes she could take back every chicken nugget and french fry she fed her kids as they were growing up. She also talked about how the subjects in the film have found it so hard to lose weight because they live in a “Fast Food Desert,” the food in their homes is processed and the food in their school cafeteria is high in calories and doesn’t offer nutritious alternatives.
“Fed Up” recently opened in theaters and I highly recommend you go see it with your family. Meanwhile check out my “Fed Up” confession below…

Make sure you follow @FedUpMovie on Twitter and to find a theater near you playing the film, visit their official website.

Essex Resort & Spa: The Perfect Family Destination

Written by Role Mommy’s Danielle Feigenbaum

DSC00473.JPG I am a lucky lady. Besides all of the obvious things – fantastic family, health, friends, etc. – my job takes me to amazing places and lets me have experiences that I can then share with our fabulous Role Mommy readers! Last weekend my hubby and I packed up the car and our two kids (ages 10 and 7) and headed to the gorgeous state of Vermont. I was invited by The Essex Resort & Spa to experience a special family getaway and get a taste of the dining and cooking academy.
230.jpg We spent a lovely day driving up North from New York to Vermont. There are many things you can do to break up the drive. The Basketball Hall of Fame is in Springfield, MA for you basketball fans. We stopped at the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT (less than half an hour from The Essex Resort & Spa) which was really fun and yummy. You can also stop in Quechee, VT and watch glassblowers at work in the original Simon Pearce workshop, savor a locally sourced meal in their riverfront restaurant, and visit their retail store at the Simon Pearce Factory, it was pretty amazing. We were greeted at the Essex by a very friendly staff and checked right in to our lovely one bedroom suite. There was a kitchen, table, pull out couch and cot (so the kids wouldn’t kick each other all night) and a big bathroom with jacuzzi tub that we all enjoyed!
Besides the comfy and cozy accommodations, the food was the real star of the weekend. The Essex prides itself on farm to table dining and award winning chefs. We had dinner one night and breakfast both days at one of their two restaurants, The Tavern. Here are pics of our delicious dinner appetizers and breakfast (what’s better than fresh Vermont maple Syrup?), try not to drool…
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1-DSC00415.JPG We had a chance to explore the resort a little bit, the spa looks fantastic and the kids had a blast swimming in the beautiful indoor pool! At night we joined a big campfire where they were roasting marshmallows. The main event for us for the weekend was a family cooking class. The fabulous chefs at the Essex teach a variety of different cooking classes and offer outings such as “Vermont Guided Tours: Wine & Maple Tour & Lunch”. Here are some pictures from our awesome Italian cooking class with incredible Chef Brandy! We made caesar salad, pasta and tomato sauce (from SCRATCH!) and as the grand finale, molten… chocolate… cake! The best part, besides having fun and eating the yummy food, is you get to take home the recipes and, even though I am not an executive chef, I can totally make all this food! (Once I buy a pasta maker, which my kids are begging me for!)
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A picture is worth a thousand words, and as you can see by the cooking class pictures, it was a huge success! If you are looking for something to do with your family this summer, Essex Resort & Spa has a camp for kids! Camp Cook is a week long culinary journey that takes kids from a fully equipped teaching kitchen to the source of the foods, herbs and vegetables used daily. Available during nine five-day sessions this summer, beginning June 16, Camp Cook is available to children ages 10-16. From 9:00 am to 4:00 pm each day, kids collect eggs from the onsite chicken coop, pick local berries at nearby farms, learn knife skills and kitchen safety, prepare mouth-watering recipes, swim, and more. Parents too can have a culinary vacation by booking the 2014 Family Camp Cook Package, which includes five night’s deluxe accommodations, one week enrollment for one child in Camp Cook, 25 percent off spa services for the entire week, and buy one get one free cooking classes for adults throughout the week.
Mallett's bay north.jpg What are you waiting for? Book your trip now for this summer and you could be taking a ride in a hot air balloon over Lake Champlain and looking at this breathtaking view! Their second restaurant is currently being renovated and will reopen the beginning of June with a Vermont interactive “farm to table” culinary experience. You will be able to see the chefs cooking and interact with them.
As you can tell, we had a fantastic weekend at The Essex Resort & Spa. This would make an unforgettable family getaway any time of the year… book your summer vacation now and experience Camp Cook for yourself!
Disclaimer: This was a complimentary weekend at The Essex Resort and Spa, but all opinions are completely my own.

5 Ways to Keep Clothes Looking Great–Wherever You Go

If you are lucky enough to be going away for Spring break, or planning a Summer vacation… here are 5 great tips to help you pack up your clothes and keep them looking fresh!