We all know that feeling, right? After a gorgeous holiday, the last day is such a massive come-down: you’ve got to be out of your room by midday but your flight doesn’t leave until the evening, you don’t want to get sandy and have nowhere to shower, so your last day is spent miserably killing time, sweating in your travel clothes, before heading home. While I was in beautiful Barbados, though, Virgin announced a brand new concept that’s going to change all that, and I think you’re going to love it. Step forward The Departure Beach from Virgin.
A couple of weeks ago, I received a pretty fabulous invitation to Barbados. Flying out with Virgin Holidays for a week at The Club Barbados, right next to Sandy Lane on the gorgeous, calm west coast of Barbados – a no brainer right? Well, almost. The bit of the invitation that had me hesitating was this: ‘come and be part of an exclusive expert led “Caribbean Choir” singing workshop’. Singing? Me?! I mean, yes, I sing in the shower, but a choir? I was nervous, but in my positive life plan notes, I’ve definitely written ‘be brave’ and ‘do something that scares you’, so I decided to embrace the challenge and replied with a firm yes!
I absolutely adore St Petersburg. The last time I visited, back in 2012, we really only had one day there and I was desperate to go back and really explore. I absolutely love its buzzy vibe, the gorgeous beaches and the way the downtown area absolutely comes alive at night, with restaurants, bars and cafés thronging with people. Even as recently as the 90s, Downtown St Pete was really quite unloved. Remember Cocoon? Jeff, our lovely guide told us that the movie was filmed in St Pete in the 1980s, and it was an area known as ‘God’s Waiting Room’, full of retirees and not a lot else. Slowly, though, the locals transformed their beloved neighbourhood, and now it’s such a creative, lively place to visit, with a wonderful arts scene and fabulous shops, restaurants, galleries, stunning museums like the beautiful new Morean Arts Centre and the Dali Museum, and beautiful open spaces. Read more
In all the years that I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World, there’s been one iconic Disney place that I’ve never managed to visit: Celebration, Florida: the prettiest little community, and Walt Disney World’s home town. With wide streets and colourful shops and houses, it’s a really lovely place to spend a day, wandering the lovely, tree-lined residential areas (there’s actually a Wisteria Lane there that looks like it’s straight out of Desperate Housewives), and popping in to all the lovely shops (there’s a fabulous dog shop there selling everything you could possibly need for your pampered pooch!). Here’s my photo diary of our day: a little taster of what to expect when you visit Celebration.
If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, I think you’ll agree that one of the highlights has always been the wonderful ‘Wishes’ show at the end of the evening, with fireworks lighting up Cinderella Castle, accompanied by beautiful Disney songs. As soon as the sweet voice started singing ‘star light, star bright’, the goosebumps would start and by the end I’d generally be blubbing (I know, but it’s so beautiful). Unbelievably, the Wishes show has been a family favourite since something like October 2003 and is definitely a bit of a Disney institution, so the brand new show, Happily Ever After at Walt Disney World had a lot to live up to.
So last time, I was telling you all about family holidays in Kissimmee. The next stop on our little tour of alternative Florida destinations was beautiful Clearwater. This gorgeous Gulf Coast barrier island destination sits just across Old Tampa Bay on the west coast of Florida along with St Petersburg. Between them, they boast 35 miles of white sandy beaches and an average of 361 sunny days per year. So apart from lazing away endless, sunny days and glorious sunsets in this pretty resort town, here are a few other reasons why Clearwater is a fabulous choice for a family holiday.
So last week, I was lucky enough to be in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, for the dedication ceremony of Disney’s magical new Pandora – The World of Avatar: a whole, stunning new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, joined by Avatar filmmaker James Cameron and producer Jon Landau, came together with the cast of the original film to unveil possibly Disney’s greatest triumph so far. So from the must-sees and must-dos to information on where to stay and how to get here, here’s my complete guide to the breathtaking world of Pandora – The World of Avatar.
This post is sponsored by British Airways Holidays.
It’s 2009. I’m with a small group of fellow mums and we’re walking through the gates of Walt Disney World, Florida for the first time ever. Even though we’ve only just met, our excitement has brought us together and we’re firm friends already. Spotting beautiful Cinderella Castle for the first time, pretty, pastel and huge at the end of bustling Main Street USA, we’re already grabbing each other’s hands, laughing and breathless with disbelief.
I have so much to tell you about my amazing trip to Kissimmee with Norwegian – I can’t believe two weeks has flown past since I was there. I travelled with such a lovely bunch of people and we had great fun exploring – honestly, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. If you’re considering a holiday to Florida, whether it be to the theme parks, or to discover a bit more of the area, I highly recommend Kissimmee as a base. There’s so much fabulous accommodation, beautiful scenery, loads of fun things to do, and, it’s so close to all the parks too. Here are my recommendations for fun family holidays in Kissimmee.
I’m back! I’ve had the most incredible few days with a group of really lovely people, and I’ve got so much to tell you about our wonderful trip, from flying to Florida with Norwegian’s state of the art Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a stay in the most ridiculously luxurious villa in Kissimmee, loads of really fun outdoorsy stuff like kayaking, climbing and swimming, and discovering pretty towns, gorgeous hotels, white sandy beaches and trendy towns with buzzy nightlife. Read more
By the time you read this, I’ll be exploring Kissimmee, St Pete and Clearwater in Florida with Norwegian – I know! I’m so excited. I try really hard not to buy new stuff every time I go away – it would become a very expensive lifestyle – but there are so many lovely things in the shops at the moment – I’ve been trying to limit myself to maybe just a few new holiday accessories for 2017 (I already bought that amazing embroidered playsuit and those embellished slides from Zara that I told you about last week – oops), and I really wanted some comfy trainers that aren’t too sporty looking – I love Converse, but I just don’t find them comfortable to walk around in all day when I’m sightseeing, they’re just too flat, and while running shoes from Nike and Adidas are comfortable, I find that they can be just too casual for a nice outfit. I wanted something in between.
So following on from part one of our awesome adventure to see the live final of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at Walt Disney World, here’s part two of our fabulous Florida photo diary. Friday started with some safari fun at Tusker House, with a delicious African-themed breakfast with Mickey and friends. If you’re thinking of booking a character breakfast, this is a fab one to choose: the setting is gorgeous and after an early start, a delicious breakfast, and some musical fun with a host of characters, you’re all set to head out into Disney’s Animal Kingdom to enjoy your day at the park. Plus you get to hug Safari Mickey and dance with Donald Duck, I mean, what’s not to love?!
So if you follow me on any form of social media, you can’t have failed to notice that I’ve had a bit of an exciting – and emotional – week. It started off with a magical invitation to a British TV first that saw Mr E and I checking in for a rather special Virgin Atlantic charter flight to Orlando with the very excited winners of the ‘place on the plane’ tickets from ITV’s popular Saturday evening show. Follow me, then, for a little photo diary of our adventure to watch the live final of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at Walt Disney World!
When friends and readers are planning a trip, I’m often asked for my advice about things that they absolutely mustn’t miss, and always about the best rides: what’s worth queuing for, what’s worth using a FastPass+ for, that sort of thing. This got me thinking about my favourite experiences at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida: the things that I would rush round and do if I only had, say, a day at each park. So here’s my little list of Disney World’s best rides – I know it’s subjective, but these are my own personal faves. I’m bound to add to it, so do refer back every so often!
Let’s be honest, from here in the UK, Florida isn’t the first place you think of as a weekend destination, but then when Universal called and said ‘hey, fancy a long weekend at Universal Orlando Resort for Mardi Gras 2017?’, my response was ‘hell, yes! Let me grab my suitcase’.
As a nation, I don’t think Holland crops up that much as a destination when we’re planning our next family holiday, but this little stretch of land across the channel offers a lot more than the cultural riches of Amsterdam. It’s easy to reach by train, plane or ferry and boasts long stretches of coastline, rugged woodland, excellent cycle routes and some of the best theme parks in the world. The holiday parks are numerous and really high quality, so if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration for the summer holidays, here are my top five holiday parks in Holland.
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