Aloha Beachside B&B – A Little Bit of Hawaii in The Pacific NW


Aloha Beachside B&B Located in Wauna

I had a little time off a couple of weeks ago and decided to do some exploring in my local area.  I had seen signs for the Aloha Beachside Bed & Breakfast, but had never actually seen it.  I wasn’t sure exactly where it was, but it turns out I had driven right past it quite often.

I pulled in without having made an appointment, hoping that I would be able to take a look around.  The owner, Lalaine Wong, being full of the Aloha spirit took the time to show me around, even though she was in the midst of cleaning up after a busy weekend. 

I learned that there are 5 rooms at the Aloha Bed & Breakfast, and all come with a full breakfast.  There are 3 rooms in the main house, and 2 more in the Cabana which is below the main house closer to the beach.

The best room in the main house is the King Kamehameha Room which has views out over the water (even from the tub in the huge bathroom) and direct access to the deck.  This is also called the Honeymoon Suite.  My next choice would be the Queen Liliokalani room which has a nice chaise lounge and working fireplace.  This is a small room near the front door, but it does have it’s own private bath.

The views from the deck on this level are stunning. 

Aloha Beachside B&BAloha Beachside B&B

If you’re traveling with family, the Ohana Room is downstairs and includes a queen bed plus 2 twins; a full living room; a full kitchen and dining area.  It also has a working fireplace. 

The Cabana would be the perfect place for a family or 2 couples traveling together.  It has 2 bedrooms and a shared living room, full kitchen and dining area.  There is a small gazebo outside which would be a perfect place to sit with a book and relax for awhile.  There is also a natural waterfall that can be seen from the deck of the Cabana. 

Aloha Beachside B&B

There are charming touches throughout the property, including a bench at the entry to the cabana. 

Aloha Beachside B&B – Great Choice for a Romantic Getaway

If you are looking for a place close to home to just get away for a night or 2, Aloha Beachside Bed & Breakfast is a great choice.  It is close to Gig Harbor with it’s charming waterfront full of galleries, shops and restaurants.  It is about an hour from Seattle, but will make you feel like you are an ocean away.

Enjoy the Aloha Spirit – Visit Aloha Beachside B&B

And remember, Perfect Paradise Vacations can help you with your plans to stay here.

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Five Vacation Destination Treasures By Alexandra Jacobs


This is my first post by a guest blogger.  I want to welcome Alexandra Jacobs to my blog and I hope you enjoy her contributions.

The Hamptons

Photo by flickr user galif548

The Hamptons has long been considered one of the most romantic vacation destinations within the United States. While many couples come to the area looking for quiet, romantic walks on the beach and the occasional celebrity spotting in one of the fabulous restaurants, Hampton Rental Homes, resorts and hotels open their door to singles and families as well. Singles enjoy the live night life and high-class clubs, while families can take in the beauty of the Montauk Lighthouse or enjoy the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum. Elliman Vacation homes are the way to go when you are traveling with a big family.  The Windward Shores Ocean Resort is one of the most popular luxury accommodations in the area. When it comes to dining, one should not miss the delicious steaks and seafood offered at The Palm restaurant in East Hampton.  Another great choice is the Modern French Mediterranean cuisine at the Stone Creek Inn.

Oahu, Hawaii

Photo by flickr user puuikibeach

Oahu’s North Shore is particularly lovely and the perfect place to get away and enjoy nature. Young couples and singles find this area special because it is known to have some of the best surfing waves anywhere. Surfers come from all over to experience the legendary waves. Turtle Bay Resort is perfectly situated on almost five miles of gorgeous oceanfront. The resort is also not far from the city of Honolulu so families can certainly hop over for some culture and exploration. Couples will enjoy the romance that’s always in the air on this island paradise. Many even come here to get married or renew their vows. Make sure not to miss out on the grub at Duke’s Wakiki for a true taste of island cuisine. You also won’t want to miss Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu for some yummy breads and pastries.

Ravello Italy

Photo by flickr user TyB

The celebrities love to come to the resort at Ravello because it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Couples retreat to this secluded paradise to take in the breathtaking views whilst sipping a perfectly-aged glass of wine. Musicians are particularly drawn to the area for the famous Wagner tours and musical festivals that are held. The Villa Cimbrone Gardens are a delight for singles and families alike. There is no question that the Palazzo Sasso is the ideal place to stay. For a tasty homemade pizza or pastry visit La Cucina di Sofi or for some real authentic and flavorful Italian cuisine stop at Figli di Papa.

Captiva, Florida

Photo by flickr user danperry.com

The warm weather, beautiful beaches and friendly atmosphere brings in thousands of people every year to enjoy Captiva, Florida. The South Seas Island Resort (http://www.southseas.com/) is the perfect place to take the family on vacation for fishing, sailing or even kayaking. Couples and singles also find plenty to do, exploring the natural beauty of the island, shopping, golfing or engaging in exciting water sports. Dining is a pleasure in Captiva. Enjoy the view and a tasty burger at The Pointe Restaurant or some delicious Mexican cuisine at Cantina Captiva.

Santorini, Greece

Photo by flickr user connermajik-e

Considered one of the most beautiful islands in Europe, Santorini is home of the fabulous Vedema Resort. The resort offers rest, relaxation and luxurious pampering. Guests feel like royalty. Families often visit to explore the rich history such as is found in the ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri not far from Santorini. Others enjoy day trips out to Thirasia to view the intense volcanic structures or enjoy the hot springs. Taste the best in traditional Greek food at Athermi Restaurant or some incredible seafood at the Selene Restaurant.

Alexandra is a travel enthusiast who loves to write about tourism, beaches, food, and the wonderful things in the world.  She provides her own insights on vacationing to the blogosphere.  If you would like to learn more about her, follow her @alexsjourneys or visit her blog https://alexsjourneys.wordpress.com

And now…a little about Molokai


If you are looking to experience the real Hawaii, you should definitely visit Molokai.  You might think an island this small won’t have enough to keep you occupied for a full week of vacation, but you’d be wrong.

If you’re a coffee fanatic, like so many here in the Pacific Northwest are, you want to visit Coffees of Hawaii.  You might want to join the Morning Espresso Tour and learn about coffee farming, processing, milling and roasting.  If you are there between September & January you can see the harvest under way.  After touring the facility, visit the espresso bar & deli and get picnic supplies then go pick a nice picnic spot. 

Want to bring home a hula girl windsock?  Or maybe fly a dolphin kite?  Visit Big Wind Kite Factory.  Take a factory tour and get a free kite-flying lesson.  Browse the adjacent plantation gallery which displays and sells exotic treasures.  Pick up some gifts for the folks back home.

You’ll want to go to hear live local music at the Hotel Molokai, even if you aren’t staying there.  Don’t miss the Aloha Friday Sunset Celebration for live music, hula dancing, torch lighting and arts & crafts – locals turn out for this so it’s a great opportunity to really soak up the culture. 

We all know that carbs don’t count when you’re on vacation.  One of the tastiest treats you will ever have awaits you at Kanemitsu Bakery, but you’ll have to venture down a dark alley at 10:00 at night to get it.  You’ll knock on the door and order your bread right out of the oven – split open the steaming loaf and spread it with cream cheese, butter, sugar and or cinnamon – what a mouthwatering treat.

This is just a small taste of what you can experience on Molokai.  If you don’t want to spend the full week here, you can take a ferry from Maui and spend the day.

A Little Maui News


You may have heard that Hotel Hana Maui, Maui’s most isolated resort on the east coast of Maui, has transformed itself and is now called Travaasa Hana.  This 70 room resort is under new ownership and management and has upgraded its guest rooms.  I would choose to stay in a Sea Ranch Cottage with sweeping views of the Pacific, but you might prefer one of the bungalow-style Garden Suites.  The restaurant menu focuses on local organic cuisine, with traditional Hawaiian dishes as well as elements of Asian and Old World European Cuisine.  Some of the signature dishes are Pohole Fern Shoot Salad, a native Hawaiian favorite; fish wrapped in Ti Leaves; fish smoked with guava and mango wood; Lilikoi Mahi with Hawaiian sweet potato and ginger lime coconut sauce; and an Open-faced Smoked Chicken Salad Sandwich on house-made bread with a locally grown sprout salad.  Darn, now I’m hungry.  The Spa also uses local plants in their treatments.  There are many activity programs that are included in your room rate such as cooking classes and yoga on the beach.  You can also choose a plan that includes meals and even a spa treatment.  If you’re looking for a truly relaxing and authentic Hawaii vacation away from it all, this is the spot.

If you prefer not to be quite so isolated, there are plenty of interesting, fun resorts around the island.  In the Kapalua area you might want to check out the Kapalua Villas.  They have a new lecture series where you can learn about Hawaii’s marine life.  Ke Kani O Ke Kai (Voices of the Sea) is led by a local marine biologist on the first Monday of each month.  Did I mention that this is free?  If you love food and wine, you will want to plan your vacation for next June to coincide with the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival.

You could combine your Food & Wine vacation with some offerings from the Maui Film Festival which is also held in June, over in Wailea.  Some of the fabulous resorts on this part of the island are the Grand Wailea which is always a favorite with families because of the wonderful Wailea Canyon Activity Pool, they have also redone their Spa Grande.  On the 20th of each month the resort hosts a free fair in the spa’s lobby with discounted spa products, beauty demonstrations and prizes!  The Four Seasons Maui has a fantasy tennis camp, a wellness series featuring physical & spiritual practices.  The Wailea Beach Marriott has added the Akamai Business Center, a 690 square foot business center that can take care of pretty much any of your copy, print, and shipping needs – as well as offering short time rentals of computers, copiers and printers – which makes it the perfect location for your corporate retreats.  And of course, one of my favorite resorts, the Fairmont Kea Lani is in Wailea.  This area boasts some fabulous golf courses, restaurants and shopping. 

Kaanapali is probably the most well known of Maui’s resort areas.  Numerous resorts are located on this beautiful beach, and you are close to Lahaina.  The Kaanapali Beach Hotel bills itself as “Hawaii’s most Hawaiian Hotel”.  They have Hawaiian Cultural activities and entertainment daily; the staff sings when you arrive; they use the Hawaiian language around the resort and in brochures and more (they actually say there are 110 reasons they are the most Hawaiian).  If you stay in Kaanapali you will want to be sure to eat at Aloha Mixed Plate – right on the water with wonderful, affordable specials every day.

The exciting life of a Travel Agent


As a travel agent, you probably think I travel all the time.  Oh, how I wish I could.  But who would take care of my clients and book their trips if I was traveling?  And my dog would miss me.  And then, there’s that pesky part time job that pays the bills during slow travel months.  Instead, I spend a lot of time reading travel magazines – both mainstream and industry publications; taking webinars and classes offered by tourist bureaus, hotel/resort companies, The Travel Institute, etc.; and of course, watching The Travel Channel.

This past weekend we had a rare, for us this summer, beautiful warm weekend.  Normally I would spend the whole weekend outside enjoying the sun, but this weekend I was suffering from a toothache and 2 sleepless nights.  I did get some pain meds from my dentist on Saturday (thank you so much, Dr. Fisher!) but still had very little energy by Sunday afternoon.  So, I turned on the Travel Channel and they had two great back to back episodes that featured beaches in the United States.  Since I specialize in tropical destinations and beach vacations I tuned right in, and took notes.  I wanted to share some of what I learned.

The first episode was on Extreme Beach Experiences and first aired in 2007.  Here are some beaches you might want to check out depending on your interests.

Sand Dollar Beach at Big Sur,CA.  This made the list for Surf Kayaking which utilizes a modified kayak to ride the waves like you would in surfing.  It looked pretty amazing and I would love to go to watch, but don’t think I would try it.  This is on a beautiful, long stretch of beach at Big Sur, and you find the entrance at Los Padres National Forest.  The best time to go is September.

Extreme Happy Hour can be experiences at Shooters Waterfront Café inFort Lauderdale on the Intercoastal waterway.  This sounds like a pretty happening place if you are into a party – million dollar yachts, fresh seafood, daily specials, entertainment, special events and best of all, great people watching!

How about some Extreme Snorkeling on the North Shore of Oahu.  North Shore Shark Adventures will take you out (best time is early morning) to “swim with the sharks”.  Don’t worry, you will be safe in the shark cage they put you in before they start throwing bloody bait into the ocean around you to attract the sharks.  I think this is something I might be willing to try.

Newport Beach, CA offers extreme body boarding at “The Wedge”.  The waves break at a depth of 1 – 2 feet so if you wipe out, you may seriously wipe out.  One of my friends told me the did this when she was a bit younger, and it is pretty crazy.  I might watch, but won’t partake. 

For extreme sports, Huntington Beach, CA has it all.  The Travel Channel said they have Beach Games during the first 2 weeks of July, but I can’t find it on their calendar.  However, there are tons of events going on all the time – surfing, volleyball, skateboarding contests, music & entertainment. Huntington Beachhas been known as “Surf City, USA”.  Definitely a fun place to spend a few days anytime.

You might also want to try some extreme swimming (read very cold) at the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska.  You can also do extreme salmon fishing on a river near here where your guide will be equipped with a loaded gun in case a brown bear wants to challenge you for your catch (this one you can do as an excursion from your cruise). 

The second episode I watched was about the 10 best Florida beaches.  This originally aired in 2003 so some things may have changed in the last 8 years.  But, I would still love to visit a few of these beaches.  I’ll just list them briefly:

#10,Daytona Beach– 23 miles long, best for activities such as surfing; rides and fun on the boardwalk; biking, ATV’s or golf cart rides on the beach; or just drive your car onto the beach til you find your spot and spend the day.  #9, Sanibel Island – one of the best places for shell collecting in the world – great sunsets, relaxing, and friendly people.  #8, Panama Beach – best for Spring Break – 500,000 come then – 26 miles long – 19,000 hotel rooms and the businesses cater to the Spring Break party crowd during March – the other 11 months it’s a quiet, cozy beach town.  #7, Sandspur Beach on Bahia Honda Key – secluded, quiet, relaxing – 3 miles of beach.  #6, Smathers Beach on Key West– this spot is closer to Havana than toMiami– it was built with imported sand from theBahamas– volleyball, sunsets, nightlife on famous Duval Street.  #5, Clearwater Beach near St. Petersburg on the gulf is a boaters paradise with soft, white sand.  #4, Lovers Key – secluded for romance – boating, canoeing, biking – outside Fort Myers.  #3, Palm Beach– the playground of the rich and famous – high end shops – rub elbows with the wealthy.  #2, Siesta Key Beach on the gulf coast near Sarasota– the white, sugary sand is the softest you will find – volleyball, swimming, watersports – and sand sculptures.  #1 is no surprise –South Beach, Miami.

So, that’s how this travel agent spend the last, beautiful, sunny weekend we had here in thePacific Northwest!

Aren’t Travel Agents Extinct?


I’m asked a version of this question at every social or networking event when asked what I do.  People wonder how I compete with the Internet.  I consider myself much more than a travel agent – I’m more of a travel “concierge” or personal vacation planner for my clients.  Even though I really don’t consider the Internet as my competition, I do like to stay informed on what is happening in the industry overall. 

I was listening to the radio recently and I heard one of the large online travel agency’s commercials, and their tag line was “Where You Book Matters”.  I found myself surprised to agree with them for once!  Although for different reasons than they were stating.  They were touting their low hotel prices, but I wondered, what really matters to consumers these days?  Is it truly the lowest possible price, or is it value? 

I hear it in commercials all the time – “we have the lowest prices”, “if you don’t shop here, you’ll be sorry” and so forth.  Which tells me that consumers ARE looking for the lowest price on everything.  Times are tough and we need to save money wherever we can.  I’m the same way, but I’ve come to realize that, especially when times are tough, I need to get the best value for my money.  If you’re buying laundry detergent and one store has your brand for $2 less than another, you get the better value by purchasing at the store with the lower price (unless you have to spend $2 worth of gas to get there).  But if you’re purchasing a vacation is price really the only distinction that matters?

What DOES matter to you?  Is it price alone?  Value?  The experience?  By using a qualified travel agent who asks questions to find out exactly what does matter to you, you should have a better experience.  You will have an advocate for you in case there is a problem during your trip.  Your agent should be knowledgeable about the destination you are considering.  She should ask you the purpose of your vacation, what kind of experience you want, what sort of resorts you have stayed in previously, etc.  She should advise you about the differences in the resorts that you ask about, about the category of the room, about the amenities included in the price.  For instance, many hotels have Oceanview room categories, but that doesn’t mean the same thing at each hotel.  In one hotel an Oceanview is truly what it says – you can see the ocean from the window or balcony.  In others, Oceanview means you get a peek of the ocean if you lean over your balcony – if you want the full view you need to book the Deluxe Oceanview.  If an Oceanview is important to you, you want to make sure you book the right category. 

 

Is the resort planning a renovation during the time of your vacation?  Will the pool be closed?  The restaurant?  These are details your travel agent should know, but that online booking engine won’t tell you about.  And, in most cases you won’t pay more for a travel agent’s services for the same itinerary.  Imagine that – a better vacation experience, with personalized service, for the same price as the online agency offers!  Now that is truly valuable! 

Another thing I noticed recently was the cancellation policy of the travel agency division of a large local company.  I’m one of those that likes to read the fine print, and I saw that for hotel only bookings the deposit is $100 per person.  Very reasonable.  However, if you cancel anytime after 48 hours from making that deposit you lose the full $100 per person, even if the hotel’s policy says you can cancel up until the day of arrival.  I have no problem with a travel agency having a cancellation or change fee policy, because we get paid by commission and have spent some time with you and should be paid.  But, if you book online with them and then decide to cancel, do they really need $200 of your money just to process the cancellation?  There were other penalties as well and some other policies that would give me pause if I were booking with them, including charges for changes that were higher than I usually I felt they should be for a more or less do it yourself booking company. 

It DOES matter where you book your travel.  The next time you need to make travel plans what I ask you to think about is “What matters to YOU”?  Consider calling a travel professional and comparing what they can do for you to what you are finding yourself. 

Ask why you should work with them.  For example, I specialize in tropical destinations.  I have earned my Caribbean Destination Specialist certification from The Travel Institute.  I have taken courses from the tourist boards for many Caribbean Islands, as well as several cruise lines.  I’ve taken courses offered by several resorts to learn more in depth information about them.  I’m also a Hawaii and Mexico Destination Specialist and have studied several areas of Mexico in depth.  I have taken many webinars from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau to learn more about the islands.  I have visited about 12 Caribbean islands, some several times.  I’ve visited both Hawaii & Mexico several times, touring different areas.  This is just a short list of my qualifications – the kinds of continuing education I do to keep myself current and up to date so that I can make sure my clients have their Perfect Vacation in Paradise.  A good travel professional does the same no matter what their specialty is. 

Here’s to your next Vacation being Perfect for YOU no matter where your Paradise may be.

Adventures in Paradise – The End


(I just realized that I never posted my last installment of my Hawaii Vacation – sorry for the delay.  I hope you enjoy it.)

After visiting Kona Village Resort we headed to the airport for the flight back to Honolulu.  We stayed at the Hilton HawaiianVillage which is at one end of Waikiki Beach.  This is a beautiful resort with several pools (including the Paradise Pool with several small slides), a fabulous beach, numerous restaurants and bars, shops – both touristy and fancy.  And they have fireworks over the beach every Friday night.  I also had a fondness for the pool with the turtles and penquins. 

            

We started off in the Tapas Tower in an Oceanfront Suite.  The room was wonderful – roomy, great view, and well located.            The only problem was the kids upstairs who started running around at about 6AM.  I requested to move for the last night so Lisa decided to go back to her own place since she was working both days anyway.  I moved to the Rainbow Tower in an Oceanview King room.  I had views of not only the ocean, but also Diamondhead.  I also looked over the main pool area.  I really liked the location of this tower and the view was fantastic – I could sit on the bed and see the ocean – what can be better than that in Hawaii?

             

We had a lot of fun inWaikiki, just wandering around sort of playing tourist.  Of course, Lisa took me to a few of her favorite bars.  One day we toured Pacific Beach Hotel – I had some clients staying there the following month so I wanted to check it out.  It is at the other end of Waikiki Beach from the Hilton.  It’s a great location – right across the street from the beach with no other buildings blocking the view.  They have a 3 story aquarium with all kinds of fish in the lobby / restaurant area.  This is a moderate property, but for the price I think it is great for those on a budget that want to be near the beach.  The rooms are basic, the pool is fairly small, but there are fabulous views, friendly staff, and the food at the lunch buffet was pretty darn good.

            

I had some time to myself so I did a little exploring and had a nice lunch at the Shorebird Restaurant at the Outrigger Reef at the Beach.  More fantastic views, $3.50 Mai Tais, and a reasonably priced lunch buffet. 

I had not really spent much time inWaikiki for quite a few years and what I found is that with a little exploring you can find some real bargains, including some great free entertainment.  Although, if you are looking for a more high end experience you can certainly find that as well.  During all of my hotel tours I was reminded of how misleading some of the room categories can be.  You have to do some investigating to find out what an individual hotel property may consider to be an Oceanview as opposed to a Partial Oceanview (do you have to lean over your balcony railing to see the ocean, will you have a full view of the ocean or just a peek-a-boo?  But the bottom line for me is –Waikiki is a great place if you enjoy nightlife, fine dining, people watching, shopping, or even just relaxing in a lounge chair with a good book. 

It snowed in Gig Harbor the week I returned– I wished I was back in Hawaii right now!  (And with the “summer” we are having here in the Pacific Northwest, I really wish I was back in Hawaii, right now.)