One of my all time favorite vacations with my family took place in Bar Harbor Maine. Thanks to my friend Jennie Baird, I was armed and ready with her family’s favorite things to do in Bar Harbor and I have to say, Jennie was right on the money. So this list includes a few of Jennie’s picks sprinkled in with our fave finds. Take a look… 1. Watching the sunset on Cadillac Mountain. One of the most amazing places I have ever seen is Cadillac Mountain, located high atop a summit in Acadia National Park. The views are incredible and the kids had fun climbing the rocks as we looked out over the water and watched the sun go down over the mountains. One suggestion – dress warm! Once the sun disappears, the temperature drops at least 15 degrees.
2. Diver Ed’s Dive in Theater – This made Jennie’s kids’ must see list and it tops ours too. If your family is in the mood for entertainment, then get ready for Ed – a diver/commercial scallop fisherman who appears to be a cross between Jim Belushi and Zach Galifianakis (“The Hangover”). Diver Ed, his incredibly knowledgeable and witty wife, mini Ed (a tiny action figure who takes a beating from sea creatures), Evil Ed (I believe a guy with a beard who was perched at the back of the boat), his nephew and two New Foundland dogs who demonstrate how to properly wear a life vest, offer an action packed underwater tour for passengers. No worries – you and your kids don’t participate in the dive (the water is way too cold), but Diver Ed jumps in three times a day along with a hi-tech video camera that he uses to captures the activity 25 feet below the sea and a bag that he uses to catch a few creatures that he brings back on board so that the kids can touch, carry and play. The only request – don’t squeeze the animals! The tour lasts two hours and it’s well worth the trip – even in the rain! 3. Jordan Pond Nature Trails & the Jordan Pond House – If you’re up for a hike that’s not too strenuous and ends in tea with popovers overlooking Jordan Pond, then this is the excursion for you. Jordan Pond Restaurant can get pretty busy so be prepared to wait or if you’re impatient like us, buy a Popover mix (or chilled whoopie pies) in the gift shop and make them when you get home. The trail we took led us along the pond – giving us ample time to take frequent breaks where the kids sat on the rocks and my daughter accidentally stepped in the water with one of her converse sneakers – not a particularly fun moment for her but she survived. The views from the base of the pond were gorgeous – we captured several shots of Bubble Mountain. We called it something else though – take a guess… 4. Listen to the Waves at Thunder Hole – Another must see in Acadia National Park – where the water crashes into rocks made of granite and the sound that erupts bears a striking resemblance to thunder – hence the name. There are also places to climb although if you have a fear of heights, I’d say opt for the Jordan Pond excursion and hold onto the railing at Thunder Hole while you watch the waves. 5. Take a Walk to Bar Island During Low Tide – This was totally cool – in the morning, the entire area is covered in water and by late afternoon, the sand bar is exposed so that cars can drive and pedestrians and dogs can walk across to Bar Island. The kids can cruise for shells and crabs while you take a lazy walk along the beach. But make sure you head back before the tide rolls back in or else you’ll be swimming back to your hotel! 6. Whale & Puffin Watch, Nature Cruise or Lobster and Seal Watch – The Whale Watch takes the longest and fills up first and can also be tough for people with weak stomachs so I suggest the Lobster fishing and Seal Watching excursion that only lasts 90 minutes. Your kids will get the chance to touch sea creatures (like Diver Ed’s adventure but not as funny) and you can get some great photos of seals. And they don’t go too far out to sea, so the ride is pretty smooth. 7. Best Breakfast – Michelle’s Bistro – There are a few breakfast joints in Bar Har including Jeannie’s (there’s always a wait) and Testa’s, but don’t believe the hype or long lines. Our favorite by far was Michelle’s Bistro – located in an Inn near some cute shops (my fave was the store that was full of Suncatchers). We sat out back on a deck, enjoyed blueberry pancakes, omelets, french toast and more and the service was fabulous. And the kids loved Rosie – the proprietor’s friendly and fluffy dog. 8. Best food and fun for Adults & Kids – Geddy’s – It took a few tries to get into Geddy’s but once we did, we understood why there’s always a wait. They have tons of lobsters, towers of nachos, fried seafood galore and friendly waiters who take your picture and put it on their website. Plus, the kids placemats rock. Trust me when I tell you they’ll be coloring throughout dinner and once they’re done, they can present their finished product to the gift shop and win a prize (some beads and tchotchkes from a treasure chest). We also loved Geddy’s Down Under – the gift shop where the kids picked up cool sweat shirts and my husband bought a rain coat for a steal (less than $30). 9. Blueberry Mojitos at the Harborside – This summer, it’s been all about blueberries and since Maine is known for them, I decided to try out all the alcoholic beverages featuring this incredibly healthy fruit – hello acai berries! While Stewman’s Lobster Pound offers a blueberry martini (which I tried), the best blueberry beverage on the island goes to the Harborside which offers blueberry mojitos by the pool – in two words: muy delicioso! 10. Best Ice Cream – Ben & Bills – Within 24 hours of arriving in Bar Harbor, we discovered Ben & Bills – where they make their own ice cream and fudge and the line loops out the door every single night. In fact, they even sell lobster ice cream – which we tried – the kids didn’t care for it much but instead, opted for the chocolate tsunami (chocolate, marshmallow, oreos and more) and I went for the sugar free blueberry ice cream. Just be prepared – while you’re deciding what to order, the scoopers are constantly shuffling you down the line – it can get a bit off-putting when you’re trying to make a decision but I guess that’s how they keep the patrons coming in fast and furious. I discovered while we were there that USA Today just selected Ben & Bill’s as the best ice cream parlor in Maine and as a dessert afficionado, I knew my senses were right on target!
A few more picks include Stewman’s Lobster Pound which was visited by the Obama’s this summer (they’ve got a sign to prove it), the amazing Italian restaurant at the Harborside where you get to create your own pasta dish and the Bar Harbor Club where we received a host of spa treatments – from a facial, to massage, a dip in the jacuzzi and a manicure.
Have you been to Maine? If so, share your top picks and stories!
1.Enjoy the Fabulous Views Meet the seagull that visited our balcony every morning at Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort
The running theme I found at Frenchman’s Reef was that every restaurant, bar and hotel room has an incredible view. Whether you are dining on the beach at CoCo Joe’s, enjoying a buffet brunch at Aqua Terra which has stunning island and harbor views, or spending the evening star gazing at the Rum Bar, the resort has incredible picture taking options wherever you turn — and even has selfie stations where you can snap the ultimate photo. Or you can just sit on your balcony each morning, greet a bird and snap a photo. Just use the Twitter handle @FrenchmansReef #TravelBrilliantly if you’d like to share your photos while you’re vacationing.
2. Eat, Eat and then Eat Some More.
Favorite restaurant in St. Thomas: Havana Blue
The Marriott provides a free shuttle service that takes you to all of their properties and that definitely comes in handy after you’ve taken a long stroll to the beach and are too tired to walk back to your room. While we were able to dine at all the restaurants located near the hotel, our favorite was Havana Blue, an upscale latin inspired dining option with ocean views, a fabulous wine list, cocktails and desserts that were out of this world. The service was phenomenal, and the food was spectacular. My daughter couldn’t get enough of the snapper special and I was partial to the s’mores cocktail. Just be prepared — the prices at Havana Blue are incredibly expensive but if you’re looking for an amazing dining experience, then it’s a can’t miss when visiting St. Thomas. Right below Havana Blue is the Sand Bar, a less expensive dining option for couples and families that’s located right next to the beach and also offers a weekend brunch.
3. Take lots of day trips – snorkeling, paddle boarding, beaches and more!
I have to say that the best part of our visit to St. Thomas were the excursions we took each day. Right in the lobby of Frenchman’s Reef is the Adventure Center where you can pretty much book any type of tour, snorkeling trip and island hopping package to keep you on your toes throughout the week. While there are hundreds of activities to choose from, we opted for a snorkeling tour, a sunset sail, a visit to St. John, night kayaking, paddle board lessons and once my daughter was instantly hooked, she also tried paddle board yoga.
The dock for all our activities was conveniently located right near our hotel so all we needed to do was walk down a few flights of stairs and then hop on a catamaran or ferry boat to take us to our destination. You can also purchase ferry tickets at the Adventure Center too. A one way ferry ride is $7 per person.
Book all your St. Thomas excursions with the Adventure Center Best Snorkeling Trip & Sunset Sail:The Cat
4. Shop till you drop
A trip to St. Thomas wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the shops in town. We were pretty strategic with our trip. Since it costs between $6-8 per person to take a taxi into town, my husband and son decided to stay back at the hotel while we took a cab to the shops. We first strolled through an open air market where we could bargain our way to the best price on a knock off bag, beads, jewelry and more.
There are tons of jewelry stores in St. Thomas and you can get some really great deals on tanzanite. We managed to score a pair of tanzanite earrings, a necklace and a ring from a shopkeeper who actually had someone who directed us to his storefront since he was a little off the beaten path. We also picked up a few pairs of Laramar earrings — another stone that’s indigenous to St. Thomas and we even found some gorgeous paintings that we purchased that were created by a local artist.
5. Take some great night trips too
While we had an awesome time aboard The Cat for our Sunset Sail, one of the best moments of the trip took place when we went night kayaking (sorry no photos since I was too busy getting freaked out by big fish under my boat). If you’ve never tried that before, it’s pretty amazing. After you get a brief kayaking lesson on shore you hop into a boat with a glass bottom that glows in the dark. Once you’re on the water, you can literally watch as sea turtles, stingrays and a host of other very large fish travel right under your kayak. I also loved that we paddled out to the home of the owner of the Bellagio Hotel which kicks off a light and cannon show every night for onlookers. Can’t Miss Evening Adventure: Night Kayaking
6. Enjoy at least one romantic dinner while your kids enjoy room service Spectacular Views & A Mouth Watering Menu:Mafolie
One of the most romantic restaurants in St. Thomas is Mafolie — set high atop a mountain, the restaurant boasts fantastic views of the island and ocean, delicious Caribbean fare and a tasty wine and cocktail list too.
7. Go Island Hopping
Another highlight of the trip was our ferry visit to St. John. While you can take a full tour of the island that includes a visit to a rum plantation and some time at the beach, we decided to hop aboard the ferry and spend the day on our own time. Luckily, we managed to find a very friendly taxi driver named Chris who directed us to a deli for breakfast and then took us to a more secluded beach, Cinnamon Bay where the kids got to paddle board again and I continued reading my book.
Breathtaking views & secluded beaches: St. John
8. Devour as many books as possible My Summer 2015 Reads: The Husband’s Secret The Art of Racing in the Rain Who do You Love Summer Secrets In the Unlikely Event
9. Order a margarita by the pool
While it is pretty hot and humid in St. Thomas in August, the good news is, wherever you look, there’s the pool or the ocean and even a swim up bar if you don’t want to get out of the water to enjoy a cocktail. Azul Pool, Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Beach Marriott Resort
10. Do nothing and enjoy it. St. John – Cinnamon Bay Campgrounds Listen in to our Blog Talk Radio Show and hear more about our St. Thomas adventure!
Written by Role Mommy Wing Mom Danielle Feigenbaum
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… 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!
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. 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… 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!)
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. 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.
Written by Role Mommy contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum
A few months ago I received a wedding invitation from a close family friend. The wedding was going to be in Florida. I am a big fan of the destination wedding, but with two kids and financial restraints, it’s not always easy to swing it. I really wanted to go. I wanted to spend time with my parents, celebrate with a friend who is like a brother to me, but most of all – I wanted to get AWAY.
I love my kids and my husband and blah blah, but let’s be real… we ALL need a mom-time-out in order to keep our sanity and recharge our batteries. It used to be taboo to be honest about wanting to get the hell out of dodge (I still don’t think my mom gets it – she would never have left us or my dad for any period of time). First, I spoke to my husband about it… he was all for me going, totally supportive, he rocks! Next I found reasonable flights and used points to fly from NY to Miami. I booked my room at the hotel where the wedding was going to take place since they had a good wedding rate. I organized play dates and help with the kids Friday after school and then my hubby was on duty for the weekend. Have I mentioned that my husband rocks? I was all set.
At the kid’s school pick up last week, when I told my mom friends I was going to Miami for a wedding, by MYSELF, they couldn’t believe it. I’m pretty sure any of them would have traded places with me.
So last Friday I went to the airport and breezed through security (it’s just so much easier without the kids and all the stuff!) Boarded the plane, took a deep breath, sat back and relaxed. It was an amazing feeling. You all know how the story goes… from morning till night you are on a schedule… getting kids up, lunches packed, off to school, cleaning up, work, errands, endless array of after school activities, carpools, play dates, homework, cook dinner, laundry… I’m tired. I’m not looking for sympathy here, I understand that this is life and I love my life – but arriving at the gorgeous Viceroy Hotel in Miami, I was happy to escape my life for a couple of days. I loved the hotel, my room was amazing (I think the bathroom was bigger than my bedroom at home) and the pool was fantastic. I had nobody to look after but myself and it was lovely. I spent time just lying on the bed watching mindless television, had a blast at the beach BBQ rehearsal dinner (yes, I will have a margarita, thank you). On Saturday I was able to have a leisurely lunch with my college roommate who lives in Florida and I haven’t seen in almost four years. Then it was a tough afternoon relaxing by the pool. Getting ready for the wedding slowly without anyone pulling on me or calling out “mom mom mom mom” was also a treat! The wedding was a blast and I was so happy I was able to make the trip down to celebrate with my old friend and get a little R & R in at the same time.
Of course Monday morning came too fast and life went back to normal, but I was ready to take on whatever came my way. I highly recommend you take a parent-time-out when you can. If you can escape for a day or a weekend by yourself, with some friends or your spouse, do it. You will love every minute and appreciate the quiet, but you will also be so excited to get home to your little rug rats and squeeze them tight.
Where do I begin? This is the second year we went back to Jake’s Resort in Treasure Beach Jamaica and all I can say is this time around, it was even better than our first visit. We spent seven days in paradise where we traveled by boat to a bar at sea, swung from vines into Black River, jumped off waterfalls, visited farms where we sampled some of the most delicious fruits on the planet; was awestruck by the ocean views from Lover’s Leap; sweat more than I ever did in my life while climbing into a cave and lived it up in the lap of luxury at a multimillion dollar villa that my kids are now begging to return to next summer.
Rather than talk about my experience in a blog post, I put together a few videos that are sure to put a smile on your face. If you’re interested in visiting Jakes, visit their website at www.jakeshotel.com. There are so many amazing things to do while you’re there and the staff and residents of Treasure Beach are some of the kindest and most generous people we have ever met in our lives.
As we head into summer, there’s one thing I always look forward to – VACATION! It’s been almost a year since we’ve gone away as a family and typically, we take several road trips along the northeast. This year, we’re mixing it up and throwing a bit of the caribbean into our vacation plans. You see, last August, we were invited to check out Jake’s Hotel & Resort in Treasure Beach Jamaica and to say my family fell in love was an understatement.
So why are we going back to Jake’s this year? Here are five reasons why we can’t get enough of southern Jamaica:
1. We love the incredibly kind staff, the tropical cottage accommodations and the amazing ocean views.
2. Getting the opportunity to venture out to sea with Dennis, an expert boat captain who knows every nook and cranny of Treasure Beach. Stick with Dennis and you’ll spot wild dolphins, explore a new fishing reserve, jump off a pier near Black Safari Jungle, spot crocodiles and sample local fare at the world famous Little Ochi.
3. Participate in one of a kind sports camps with professional coaches from the United States. This July, Jakes is offering its first ever sports camp for kids. If your child is a soccer lover, then this could prove to be the ultimate camp experience for them.
4. Dining under the stars with Jake’s Farm to Table dinner. Every month under the full moon, Jakes invites guests to dine with the farmers of Treasure Beach who share some of the island’s most incredible fruits, vegetables and local dishes. Favorite fruit we discovered in Jamaica: Sweet Sop which tastes just like vanilla custard…YUM!
5. Swinging from vines at YS Falls. Another incredible experience complete with an amazing driver and tour guide, Darren, a picnic basket for four, spectacular waterfalls, swimming pools and a zip line that’s frightening and exhilarating all at the same time.
So if you’ve never been to the caribbean in the summer with your family, check out Jake’s – it’s become our kids’ favorite vacation spot and something tells me we’ll be going back for many more years to come.
I have to say, when I received an invitation to attend the christening of the Disney Fantasy, a brand new cruise ship that will sail out of New York Harbor beginning this spring, I jumped at the chance. You see, I am a serial cruiser. I’ve been on every cruise line known to mankind, except for Disney. While I’ve heard great things about their ships, we just haven’t gotten around yet to hopping aboard and partying with the likes of Goofy, Mickey and Donald Duck.
But something tells me that my family is definitely going to want to cruise to Castaway Cay with Disney. From their “water coaster” to Broadway quality entertainment, to delectable food, top notch service and a tween/teen lounge, it looks like the Disney Fantasy thought of everything.
As for the Christening of the ship, I had a feeling Disney was going to pull out all the stops and that’s exactly what they did. From Neal Patrick Harris hosting the entertainment portion of the evening, we were treated to a series of hilarious parodies, a sampling of the cruise line’s shows, comedy with Jerry Seinfeld and then a very special christening ceremony with Mariah Carey and her husband Nick Cannon.
The star-studded event also included sightings of Tim Gunn, Ty Pennington, Alan Cummings, Mayor Bloomberg and Disney head honcho, Bob Iger. The excitement on the ship was purely electric and what made the experience even better was the fact that I had the chance to see some of my favorite blogging moms. Take a look at the photo above courtesy of Colleen Padilla’s awesome husband, Mike.
For more information on how you can get in on the fun by taking a Disney Cruise out of New York, visit their website and book your trip right away!
Our evening took us into the mountains of Jamaica where Jason, the owner of Jake’s introduced us to the farmers of Treasure Beach. As we traversed one of several winding roads, Jason made a turn into Flagaman, a stretch of land inhabited by hard working farmers and their families. From there, we began to see beautiful homes that had been built from the fruits of their labor.
During our evening journey, we met Ms. Maisy, one of the most prosperous farmers in Treasure Beach who has been a staple in the community for over 40 years. Ms. Maisy supplies fruits and vegetables to local businesses throughout the region and her generosity has helped support a number of community based initiatives being spearheaded by the Treasure Beach Breds Foundation. We then drove a bit further and met Doul, one of the few organic farmers in Jamaica who not only gave us a tour of his farm, but shared some of his most prized possessions, mouth watering mangoes, sweet sop – which tastes like custard and genips – my son’s personal favorite fruit that looks like a grape but tastes like lychee. Doul walked us through his field and what I noticed first was the striking red color of the soil. We then saw banana trees, sour sop (another delicious fruit treat), more genips, scallions, melons, avocados and mangoes. As we approached a clearing, the view was absolutely spectacular. At that moment, Jason explained that each month during the full moon, guests of Jake’s are invited to the Pedro Plains “Farm to Table” dinner at the bottom of Doul’s farm where they can enjoy an incredible caribbean meal under the stars. Jake’s plans to arrange farm tours for guests and families throughout the year so that you can meet the hard working farmers of Jamaica while helping them tend their fields. Jake’s also plans to expand the “Farm to Table” experience so that the farm dinner takes place on a regular basis with the ultimate goal of hosting a Jamaican food festival featuring the culinary talents of some of the best known and well-loved chefs throughout the region. As sunset approached, we arrived at Jason’s home and it literally took our breath away. Jason and his wife Laura’s home is nestled into a hill and offers sweeping views of southern Jamaica from two 40 foot long verandas that adorn the property. As four dogs raced up to greet us, Jason brought us inside to meet Laura and the Henzell’s two gorgeous children – Seya (named for one of their favorite artists) and Max. We also were introduced to their incredibly talented cook Sheila, who works for Jake’s and prepared a delectable dinner for all of us.
We spent the next few hours learning more about the Henzell’s and their incredible ties to Jamaica – Laura’s family created the wildly popular Red Stripe beer and Jason’s father, Perry, who passed away in 2006, produced the legendary film “The Harder They Come.” According to the Guardian, “The Harder They Come” is “one of the most the most outstanding films to emerge from Jamaica that has continually served as a reference point for film-makers in the Caribbean and Latin America.” Today, Jason’s sister, who is also a filmmaker, manages the film property and also spearheads the Calabash Literary Festival – one of the most popular events in the region which takes place each fall at Jake’s.
From the arts, to education, to the sea to the farms, Jason and Laura Henzell are committed to making their community a better place to live and visit for generations to come. So take my advice and spend a family vacation at Jake’s Resort, where you’ll get the chance to experience the magical allure of Treasure Beach. Once you visit, you’ll want to go back every year! Related Posts: Ultimate Family Vacation – Part I Ultimate Family Vacation – Part II
Organization expert Lorraine Brock gives our readers great tips on packing for your next vacation…
My family is about to go on a long overdue and much needed vacation. Nothing extraordinary but something fun for our family… a cruise. This cruise is one of the best vacation values I have ever found. With five in our family and four eating like the men they are, the endless food supply on cruises is worth its weight in gold.
Our trip is still a month away and I am already beginning to get things organized. I have contacted a neighbor to take care of our dog and pick up our mail, asked a family member to water plants, and have arranged for someone to take our responsibilities at church while we are away. I have begun buying and collecting items that we will need on our cruise that many families forget and thus pay extra for once on board. Some of these items are swim shoes, a waterproof container to hold ID’s, room cards, and even cash. Floatation devices are another thing we have spent top dollar for and then could not bring them home. We buy the cheap ones here at home, and then air them up when on the beach. When our day is over we leave them on the beach or at the pool for someone else to use since they would be a hassle to deflate and repack. Travelling with five people and a lot of luggage, I get creative in making sure we can locate our bags quickly in a sea of mostly black cases. Instead of reading all the luggage tags, I use bold colored duct tape to wrap around the handle or make an “X” on the front or back. This allows our bags to stand out. See the photo showing the colors available when I was shopping at Michaels craft store.
Do you hate filling out those paper identification tags at the airport? If you have a business card you might want to consider placing your business card in the luggage tag holder. This is a simple and effortless way to include your contact information on your luggage.
My final suggestion is about spending money. We give each person in our family their own spending money for the trip a few minutes before we leave. The amount depends on the kind of year it has been….lean or mean. The money is placed in envelopes for each child and they can choose to spend the money on the trip or save it for something else. This prevents me from having to approve or monitor every purchase. On a prior trip one of my sons spent all his money on video game machines while another brought back money to spend on something at home. This is a way to teach our children to manage and budget their money for the things they want. They have to make wise decisions to make the money last the entire week of vacation.
One of my boys, our fashion king, has already decided how to spend his money: island jewelry, maybe a watch, a beach towel, and t-shirts. I am sure he will come back with nada in his pockets, but instead be filled with happy memories stored up until our next family vacation.
Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and president and founder of “Get Organized!” “Get Organized!” is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. “Get Organized!” specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes for moms as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management. A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox , and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, Mercator.net, SheKnows.com, and Daily Candy Kids. Additionally, Lorraine has shared the stage with stars from HGTV and DYI Network at the Great Big Texas Home Show at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. To obtain more information about Lorraine, visit www.GetOrganized.ws.