South Beach, Miami – What a Strip!
Before a recent cruise aboard MSC Seaside, we had the opportunity to spend some time along Ocean Drive, South Miami Beach. What a great place to spend a couple of days, prior to embarking on a cruise or even as a destination itself.
Ocean Drive is a well known for its promenade and street famous for its neon-lighted, Art Deco hotels, as well as so many great restaurants & bars to choose from. One of the most famous hotels along this strip is the Colony Hotel erected in 1939, which has been featured in many movies. Currently it offers travellers a great stay as a boutique accommodation, directly fronting onto Miami Beach.
The different colors of each of the buildings, and the palm trees along the promenade at night are a true spectacle and light show.
If you like running, jogging, bicycling, or just strolling, there is a decorative concrete promenade which boasts scenic views of the Gulf on one side and the colourful buildings of Ocean Drive on the other.
Ocean Drive is also where the famous Casa Casuarina, former home of Gianni Versace, is located. After the icon’s infamous death circumstances, the property was turned into a lovely boutique hotel, and is one of the most photographed houses in Miami. (This pic taken by Vadelmavene)
This famous street is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for its development of Art Deco houses and buildings which dominate the street.
And the food offered up on South Beach! So much to choose from, but one of our faves was the Front Porch Cafe, a very laid-back ambiance which serves all day breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner, not to mention Happy Hour $3 beers! One of the most famous restaurants on this strip is Mango’s Tropical Café, a Caribbean-inspired restaurant that also has live performances by dancers and singers.
Seafood bars, and crab shacks abound, in every nook and cranny, so you’ll not be searching too long for fresh seafood places in South Beach Miami.
If you’re heading to Miami for a cruise and want some suggestions for places to stay, or if you’d like to visit Miami please feel free to give us a call and we can arrange your cruise and/or Miami vacation for you. We’re looking forward to the day we can go back to Miami for a few days after covid gets sorted out!!
Finest Playa Mujeres – Everything a Family Could Ask For
Junior suites with private pools, waterslides, ice cream bars, children’s pool with slides and a playground to kids’ clubs for different ages, a game room, kids’ theater, daycare center, mini-disco, and kids’ spa areas.
At Finest Playa Mujeres, luxury and enjoyment for the whole family is the theme that is well carried through all the resort’s facilities.
Aqua Bar (swim-up bar that caters to families) – on the opposite side is adults-only bar
The kids’ club was a truly impressive area, with different levels of programming for various age groups. So many kids were taking part in different activities, and the kids’ facilities were so entertaining, I could see why this area would easily be a favorite spot for any child/teen (I kind of wanted to get on the water slides myself!)
During our inspection, the kids’ club staff dramatically appeared aboard a pirate ship and rushed ashore in a play attack on the beach, giving everyone an idea of the types of children-play-interaction they include at the kid’s activities. (We liked that the kid’s clubs differentiated by age groups: (Mini Club for kids 0-6 – for kids under 2 parents are required to attend children under 2 years in the water), Maxi Club for 7-11, and Teen Club for 12-16 years). Each area offers specialized programs and indoor areas that cater to each age range. There are also two pools just for kids – a paddling pool for the infants and a pool with water slides and play structures for older kids as below).
The zipline and climbing wall at the children’s/teen’s play area are truly great, and there are video games to and supervised snorkeling near the beach. There’s also a great kids plaza, the mini spa was a treat for those Mom’s and Dad’s that like their kinds to have a bit of pampering too! Finally a mini theatre with dedicated family fun movies to round out the array of family-centric activities.
The Finest Club Family Suite accommodates a family of five comfortably, with a king bed for the parents and two singles for the kids in their own separate bedroom. Think of these accommodations as more like your own private apartment than a hotel room. The rooms follow a clean, IKEA-like simplicity, with well-appointed bathrooms, and double vanities.
At Finest Playa Mujeres, the family vacations focus on Quality Time for the family as a whole, while also allowing for parents to have some downtime, if they choose.
While guests don’t usually spend a great deal of their vacation in their suites, the rooms were definitely of a size that a family of up to 5 persons, definitely wouldn’t feel cramped. Finest Playa Mujeres junior suites are a minimum 800 sq. ft., and family suites feature a separate bedroom with two beds, giving everyone enough space.
There are rooms with private pools for just your family, and others with swim-up area from the main pool, and a hammock to lounge in. Both were sumptuous and relaxing.
Private plunge pool rooms at Finest Playa Mujeres
Swim-up rooms at Finest Playa Mujeres
For parents, alone time constitutes the myriad of options for adults while the kids are having a ball. That could be relaxing by the pool or beach bar – with waiter service included – or taking advantage of a wide variety of watersport options. It could be enjoying a premium brand cocktail, or being pampered with a luxurious spa treatment.
Spa Treatments and Day Spa Services offered by the “One Spa” by Finest Playa Mujeres range from simple mani/pedi treatments to full day passes to the full hydrotherapy area where you’ll immerse yourself in tranquility and renewal through a guided experience that harnesses the healing powers of water.
Children’s Spa services at Finest Playa Mujeres
Section of the Hydrotherapy Spa at One Spa – Finest Playa Mujeres
Finest Playa Mujeres offers together-time options like family-friendly spa treatments, live entertainment and group classes as varied as cooking and introductory scuba. There are lovely palapa sun loungers and beds (thatched palm-covered, airy structures as below) for couples or families to enjoy and wile away the day.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Finest Resort and would highly recommend this property to any family looking for a laid-back, upscale stay.
Starting May 1st, 2010, a new Cuban government measure will require all foreigners, and Cubans living abroad, to possess travel insurance with medical cover in order to enter the country.
Cuba’s Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers published the new law in the nations Official Gazette, stating that tourists, and Cuban emigrants must have health insurance before being allowed in the country. Foreign citizens who have temporary residence in Cuba must have medical insurance that covers them for the duration of their stay.
The measure states that only foreign insurance companies that are recognized by Cuba will be allowed to issue the approved insurance plans. Also, there will be sales points at every point of entry into Cuba where travelers can buy insurance from local Cuban insurance entities.
In the published measure, diplomats and members of accredited international organizations will be exempt from this rule, although the measure does not reveal the cost of the mandatory insurance.
The Havana Times has an English translation of the published measure, available here: http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=20914
11 all-inclusive beach resorts that deliver surprising luxury, service, and cuisine at an affordable (and predictable) price.From February 2009By Ann Shields | Travel + Leisure
With a little shopping around, the convenience and perks of an all-inclusive vacation can be had at a great price (from as low as $120 per person per night at Azul Beach Resort on the Riviera Maya). So grab your sunglasses—but leave your wallet behind.
One of the biggest changes at all-inclusives is the restaurants. As recently as the 1990s, the cuisine at many all-inclusive resorts had all the flair of a Holiday Inn buffet, with a few slices of pineapple to signify location. Sure, you’ll still find buffets at some resorts, but more and more are recognizing the importance of fresh ingredients and local cuisine in luring customers like Nevares, a self-described “food snob.”
But now some spots boast enticing menus by award-winning chefs. Azul Beach Resort, for one, calls itself “gourmet-inclusive”: The small, 95-room hotel operates three full-service restaurants, several snack bars, and a lounge dedicated to tequila, just to keep foodies coming back.
Gone, too, is the desperately perky social director organizing a poolside conga line. Today’s ever-expanding roster of available diversions may surprise you: golf, tennis, zip lines, kids’ clubs, snorkeling trips, beachfront climbing walls, kayaking, and trapeze instruction. Even lazing on the beach has received an upgrade: you’ll find hand-carved Balinese beach beds under palapas at Melia Caribe Tropical.
And while exploring outside a resort’s gates used to be discouraged or nigh impossible, most spots now offer activities designed to see the surrounding world. CocoBay, a small all-inclusive in Antigua, encourages guests to check out the nearby national park and local museums to get a taste of the rich culture and indigenous flora and fauna that can’t be experienced from a hammock.
Accommodations have grown up, too—say aloha to the cinderblock dorms that used to pass for all-inclusive hotels. Club Med, for example, hired interior architects to transform their Ixtapa property into a bougainvillea-tinted showcase of modern convenience with traditional Mexican touches. And the well-manicured and lavish gardens of Melia Caribe Tropical feature faux Greek ruins, multiple fountains, flamingo-studded waterways, and wandering peacocks, creating a glamorous illusion of paradise.
There’s no lolling around for resort staffs, either: all-inclusives must now provide notable service to battle stiff competition from à la carte hotels and cruise ships (that other fixed-price vacation option). To stay in the game, they’ve created innovative spas; hired butlers, concierges, and sommeliers; professionally trained nannies and kids’ club counselors; and started offering services like 24-hour room service, a in-room candlelit dinners, and breakfast in bed. Real, grown-up hotel service has officially arrived.
You may be able to find great food, thoughtful service, a wealth of activities and amenities elsewhere on the beach, but this selection of 11 affordable all-inclusive resorts offer vacations where, for a few nights, you can also count on economic stability. Treat yourself to one of these trips as a kind of stimulus package for your budget—and your peace of mind.
Link to Full Article: http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/best-affordable-all-inclusives