In Honor of USA Sun Vacation Sale!

Flight Centre currently has an amazing offer for packages to USA Sun destinations, like California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, AND Puerto Rico! We are offering $200 OFF PER ADULT for custom packages which include flights from Canada, accommodation (3 nights minimum), and an activity. You can email me any time for more information: cate.ciu@flightcentre.ca  . In honor of this sale, I wanted to include a couple of my own highlights from some of the places on the list!

  1. Dole Pineapple Plantation in Hawaii
    Oahu is breath taking. The Hawaiian culture just inspires the ultimate sense of CHILL. The pineapple…ahem CHERRY … on top of the trip, was the my visit to the Dole Planation, where I tried delicious pineapple ice cream and looked my very best in a bikini (haha get it? because I am a pineapple in the pic below)
  2. Grand Canyon just outside Las Vegas
    I did Grand Canyon independently the first time, and with a tour the second. I highly recommend the latter. There is so much to see, and it is pretty difficult not to get lost in the “awe” of it all during your visit. Also, the tour company packed an amazing snack box and provided comfy, festive blankies for when it gets nice and chilly at the Canyon.

  3. Disneyland in LA
    My first visit to Disney was as an adult, and I cried from accidental joy. Also, try the churros.
  4. Do everything in Phoenix!
    I love Phoenix, AZ. Like truly love it. The long highways and the tall palm trees are music to my soul. It’s home to the BEST BBQ joint in the universe (no exaggerations here) and huevos rancheros that will make your mouth taste like heaven. If you want to go to Phoenix, we need to CHAT.

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London in 8 Hotels

I recently went on a work trip to London. Hard knock life, right? During my stay, I did a couple of hotel tours to better be able assist my clients with their future trips to London. I included some pictures and summaries below. Enjoy!

No. 1 The Mansions

This hotel is London location, with Texas space! Minutes from shopping and Earl’s court tube station, The Mansions is positioned in a charming neighborhood. If you stay here, you don’t have to sacrifice a fantastic location for privacy. The rooms in this hotel are apartment style, and come with a kitchenette, as well as a washer and a dryer. Although there are a couple of room options available, like a studio (with a murphy bed) or a double, the room category most worth talking about is the multi-bedroom suite. If you are travelling with a group or a large family, these suites can accommodate up to 7 people. Moreover, the rooms are so spacious. Each one of those rooms was bigger than my entire Vancouver apartment.

The highlight: The bed. During my trip, I stayed in this hotel with fellow travel agents. Although I haven’t slept in a twin bed since the day I wrote my final university exam, it was the best sleep I had in awhile.

Grange Hotel Tower Bridge

The Grange is modern and slick. The hotel is lit in purple. All the rooms have wood wall furnishings and purple undertones. This hotel has fantastic amenities, including a pool, a spa, a gym, and hot buffet breakfast. It’s has a fantastic location, close to the tube and beautiful London sights. Grange would be a great accommodation option for business travellers.

The highlight: The elevator ride! The glass elevator has views only parallel to the London eye. While going up to your room, you can enjoy looking at the Shard, the Gherkin, and other marvels of London architecture.

ME London

This hotel can only be described with a Kanye West lyric. The ME is Vegas on acid…but in London. Once you enter the lobby, you instantly forget everything you know about London. Tea and Georgian housing? Nah. The ME is about champagne service and trippy lighting. The location is fantastic, and the hotel is relatively new (only 2 years!). It’s perfect for anyone who came into a ton of money at a very young age (I am looking at you, Silicone Valley CEOs), or for anyone who ever thought London is just not his or her speed (buckle up!).

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The highlight: I don’t want to favor this hotel, but there were two. The first was the view from the open roof patio. It was genuinely one of the favorite moments of my entire life. The manager had to practically pry me off it. The second was drinking champagne in the reception area in the shape of a pyramid, which played beautiful movie projections on the walls. This must be what drugs feel like.

Rubens

In Rubens, you are royalty for the duration of your stay. This hotel faces the back entrance to the Buckingham Palace, and some people have even seen the Queen walking her CORGIS in the area (I am more excited about the corgis). This hotel houses many of queen’s guests, so can someone please tell Lorde that she can be a royal if she stays at Ruben’s? There’s really an infinite amount of things to say about this hotel. Each room is unique, with a color theme and luxury fabric on the wall. The owner is a chef by trade, so the buffet breakfast and snacks at the Leopard champagne bar are exquisite. This hotel is steps away from all the major attractions, including Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, and Downton abbey. Most importantly, 70% of Rubens guests are repeat clients because their service and attention to guests is unparalleled.

The highlight: Champagne bar! I like champagne, I like leopards, I like starring at the back entrance of the Buckingham palace. This is obviously the reason why Rubens Leopard champagne bar is both popular with the locals and the tourists.

Hotel 41

This hotel is right next door to Rubens and has the same owners. It’s a super luxury hotel, with highly personalized service. The rooms are classic black and white, with luxury sheets and stylish décor. Your every wish is a reality at this hotel. For example, we were told a story about a hotel guest who forgot his tickets to Wicked in the room and called the hotel devastated about potentially missing the show. The hotel sent a concierge to meet the guest with their tickets, a mini bottle of champagne, and chocolate covered strawberries. When the guests returned to their room Wicked themed cupcakes topped with a pastry witch has awaited them. Also, this hotel invented gin and tonic ice cream!

The highlight: Hotel 41 warms up your slippers and pajamas for you during turn down service!

The Royal Horseguards

Royal Horseguard has left me speechless. It is the perfect combination of the past and the future. It houses a wine cellar, which has a sealed tunnel to the parliament built by Winston Churchill himself! It also features one of the oldest marble staircases in the world, which was hit by a bomb during World War II, but luckily left almost undamaged. Located a couple of floors up from the Royal Hordeguards is the Secret Intelligence Service, so you could be sharing your space with the next James Bonde. The rooms are beautiful. Some with close up views of the London eye. The sheets are the same brand as the Queen’s! How often could you say that you sleep on the same sheets as the Queen of England?

The highlight: The division bell! As many government officials go to the Royal Horseguards for lunch, the hotel has a division bell rung during division, calling for an immediate vote.

Citadines Trafalgar Square

Citadines rooms look like an Ikea catalogue, which is a good thing! The rooms come with a kitchenette, which is perfect for longer stays. It’s also 2 minutes from Trafalgar Square. This hotel is great for younger people or small families looking for a cozy stay and a central location, without breaking a budget. The rooms include a dry breakfast.

The highlight: Comfortable, modern furniture inside the rooms.

Strand Palace Hotel

The location of this hotel is fantastic. It’s close to Covent Gardens, Trafalgar Square, and Oxford Street. There are huge department stores and unique shops all around the hotel. There are a ton of amenities, including a business center, an Indian restaurant, a breakfast café, dry cleaning, and a gym. The rooms are quiet small, but who cares when the whole London is your oyster (get it? Oyster cards)

The highlight: The Strand has a bar, which specialized in gin drinks. They even invented a gin tea. How English is that?

Go Native Kensington

This is another apartment style hotel. It’s perfect for long stays because many rooms have washers/dryers, hot plates, as well as dishwashers (no one should be washing dishes on vacation). The location is very quaint and quiet.

The highlight: All the hidden room compartments. The room design is very clean, but the room is like a Rubik’s cube! Many shelves house important apartment appliances, such as laundry.

Living out of your suitcase just got easier

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I am always trying to perfect the art of packing. I try not to bring too much stuff (emphasis on try), and usually just unpack my bag in a hotel room. But if you are visiting for a short while or are frequently moving from one place to another, that’s not feasible. Shelfpack may have found a solution (emphasis on may). It’s a portable closet, built into your suitcase. It helps make your belongings more visible, so you don’t have to blindly feel around your suitcase to find that shirt. Frequent flyers, would you try this?

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InvestiCATEon: What movies are playing on my flight?

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Flights may only make up a small portion of a trip, but they can certainly feel like a life time. My favorite plane pass time is catching up on movies. I still remember the movie that played on my very first plane ride…it was Rush Hour. Let’s face it, it’s a classic, and it totally distracted me enough to not be scared. See, in-flight entertainment matters!

I have a loooong flight coming up, and in anticipation of it, I have been debating whether I should re-download the Serial podcast (where is season 2?????), you know, in case there aren’t any good movies playing in the air. BUT as I am flying with Air Canada, in-flight entertainment is no longer a mystery. You can go on their website, and check out what movies are playing on your exact flight!

I am so excited some of my favorites are playing! Trainwreck, Slumdog Millionaire, and Darjeeling Limited.

Fun Fact: Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, JetBlue, and Virgin America were all named top in-flight entertainment airlines!

 

The Best Restaurant in Phoenix, AZ

My boyfriend’s dad is one of those fantastic people who are able to scope out the BEST places anywhere in the world. It is thanks to him, I know about Bobby-Q. Since then, life has NOT been the same.

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First off, Bobby Q is just plain cute, and kind of home-y. When you sit down, they start you off with some warm corn bread and butter – heaven. The menu is miles long, but I have my favorites. The brisket is to die for, and goes exceptionally well with the signature beer they serve. And then….there’s the sides. Roasted corn, potatoes, mac’n’cheese…SO GOOD. And when you are done your amazing, heavenly sent, finger licking meal…..they send you home with some cinnamon/brown sugar mini doughnuts. BRB, booking my flights to Phoenix.

HEADS UP for deals, giveaways and more!

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As you may have guessed…I am a travel consultant, and as my blog is growing, I want to thank those who read it. I will be hosting giveaways and posting any travel deals that come my way from this day forward! If you are interested, please follow me so you don’t miss a thing!

If you want me to take a look at something specific, leave me a comment or send me an email (cate.ciu@flightcentre.ca; you don’t have to be from Canada).

In the meantime, hello and thank you to all of YOU from my grumpy, grumpy fur baby and I. Enjoy your week! ❤ ❤ ❤Photo on 7-16-15 at 2.37 PM