Walt Disney World Grand Floridian Hotel
The moment you arrive the entrance to the Grand Floridian you know that you are somewhere special, because not only are you entering the grounds of the happiest place on early, you are also entering the Grand Floridian, Walt Disneyworld’s luxury property.
You are required to show your identification to drive in to the property. Unbeknownst to me, your name and make of car is relayed to the valet parking attendant and hotel staff. As I pulled up to the valet parking attendant I am greeted by my name and extended a warm welcome and pleasant stay. I grab my roller bag and head to check in.
A lovely lady named Mary approaches me and greets me by name and along with her computer pad she escorts me from the lobby to the 3rd floor concierge area for check in. My room is located in the Main Building on the club level. Once she has gathered my information she escorts me to my room and hands me a packet with information pertaining to the next few days of my stay.
At the Club level rooms you have access to Club Cast Members that are at your service daily from 7am – 10pm. Arrangements can be made for dining, recreation, activities, Walt Disney World Theme Park and Water Park Tickets, childcare and many other services. A print out of my pre-made dining reservations is waiting from me on my in room desk.
The Club Lounge area offers complimentary Coffee, Grand Beginnings, Refreshments, Afternoon Tea, Twilight Refreshers, and Cordials and Desserts, throughout various times throughout the day. The Grand Floridian is a full service resort offering a beautiful spa facility recently refurbished, a pool side cabana restaurant, Movie’s Under the Stars and many other resort activities. The highlight from my room was the balcony, which offered the best views of the fireworks happening every night at the Magic Kingdom. The Grand Floridian is on the monorail system, and allows you direct access to the Magic Kingdom and WDW transit system. You can also take advantage of the bus system that offers timely transportation to other parks, water parks and Downtown Disney. The hotel has an elegant and sophisticated Victorian theme and this theme is carried out throughout the rooms.
Lounges and Pool Bars
Citricos Lounge: Open 5pm-10pm
Mizner’s Lounge: Open 4:30pm-12am (does not accept Disney Dining Plan)
Beaches Pool Bar and Grill: Open 11am-8pm (sandwiches, salads and burgers)
Courtyard Pool Bar: Open 11am-varied closing times
Gasparilla Island Grill: Open for breakfast 6:30am-11am (French pastries, pancakes, waffles, eggs, cereal and fruit); Open for lunch and dinner 11am-11:30pm (grill items, sandwiches, salads, pizza and burgers); Open for late night 11:30pm-6:30am (pizza, salads and sandwiches)
1900 Park Fare
Serving as a lively and family-friendly dining experience, 1900 Park Fare is an all-you-care-to-eat buffet hosted by a rotating cast from assorted Disney films such as Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio and Cinderella. Open for breakfast 8am-11:45am (character breakfast buffet, pancakes, waffles, fruit, omelets and pastries); Open for dinner 4:30pm-8:30pm (character dinner buffet, salad, chicken, steak, pasta, seafood and dessert)
Set in a chic and sophisticated setting, this restaurant serves American seafood and Mediterranean-Florida fare. Tank tops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, cut-offs, torn clothing, hats (men only) and clothing with offensive language or graphics are not permitted. Open 5:30pm-10pm (grilled and braised meats, fresh fish and chicken)
Garden View Tea Room
Guests of all ages can indulge in the centuries-old English tradition of “afternoon tea.” This is a unique experience offered outside of the theme parks. Priority seating is recommended. Open for early tea 10:30am-12pm (sing-along tea party); Open for afternoon tea 2pm-5pm (does not accept Disney Dining Plan)
Grand Floridian Cafe
This family restaurant overlooks the pool and courtyard in the back of the resort and provides a casual but elegant dining option. Open for breakfast 7am-11:30am (pancakes, waffles, fruit, eggs and pastries); Open for lunch 11:30am-2pm (soups, salads, sandwiches, steak, pasta, seafood and dessert); Open for dinner 5pm-9pm (chicken, steak, pasta, seafood, cheese course and dessert)
This octagonal-shaped restaurant is separate from the resort and sits on the bank of the Seven Seas Lagoon. Dinner is prepared in an open kitchen. Tank tops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, cut-offs, torn clothing, hats (men only) and clothing with offensive language or graphics are not permitted. 5:30pm-10pm (specialty seafood selections, steak, salad and chicken)
Victoria and Albert’s
As the signature restaurant of the resort, this award-winning dining experience is the definition of formality. There is a dress code that requires men to wear jackets and women to wear a dress or dressy pants. Prepare for a seven-course meal and be aware that priority seating is a must. The Chef’s Table may be reserved where the Chef personally welcomes guests into his kitchen, introduces them to the other cooks and seats them in a special area at the rear of the kitchen. First seating 5pm-6pm; Second seating 8:30pm-9:15pm; One seating July-September 5pm-7pm (7-course); Queen Victoria Room and Chef Table (9-course) (does not accept Disney Dining Plan except for the Platinum Plan, does not accept Tables in Wonderland).
The Grand Floridian offers two options for swimming. The primary pool is the grotto-themed Beach Pool with its slide and waterfalls. A quieter setting can be found at the Courtyard Pool where the pool and a hot tub are nestled in the middle of the resort.
For children, there is an interactive water play area with an Alice in Wonderland theme. Teacups and teapots pour water amongst the two miniature water slides, sprinklers and spouts. And with an upside-down Mad Hatter’s hat that fills with water and then dumps onto guests when it fills, the area is widely popular with little ones.
A number of poolside activities are scheduled each afternoon. Ranging from an unbirthday pool party to ring toss, there is a broad spectrum of games and challenges for families to participate in while they enjoy the water area.
I truly enjoyed this property, and even though it is at the high end of the price spectrum at Walt Disney Resorts, it offers a number of amenities that you won’t find at any of the other park properties. It’s approximately to the Magic Kingdom and the transportation center makes this property very attractive to young families, who have children still in need of nap time.
The staff at the Grand Floridian were always smiling and friendly and making everyone’s stay memorable. I can’t wait to stay again.
Luxury Travel Specialist, Barbara Rydzon recently cruised AmaWaterways Paris & Normandy. Beginning in Paris, you visit the village of Giverny, where Monet lived and worked for 43 years, and Honfleur, a charming French harbor town immortalized by generations of artists. Stroll through Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy, then take an unforgettable excursion to the famous Normandy beaches of WWII. Visit Les Andelys, home of Château Gaillard. Conclude your journey with a panoramic tour of Paris’ top sights and a visit to the Musee d’Orsay. Above are some of Barbara’s own photos as well as some from AmaWaterways. BarbaraR@harmontravel.com
Concerts At Sea LLC, managed by Harmon Travel of Boise, has donated $2,750 to the Ride to the Wall Foundation, an Idaho-based nonprofit organization that makes funds available to various veterans outreach programs.
The donation was presented on behalf of a new charitable effort in honor of the late leader of the rock and roll group Paul Revere and the Raiders, who founded the Ride to the Wall Foundation. Revere was the head of a main musical act for 21 years with the Concerts at Sea “Where the Action Is!” cruise. Revere grew up in Caldwell and was a resident of Garden Valley when he died last year.
The donation came from contributions from cruise passengers and a matching gift from Concerts at Sea. In a news release, Harmon Travel President Bob Harmon said he will continue to raise funds for Ride to the Wall in honor of Revere at least through the 2016 cruise season.
“This year was the 22nd year that the Concerts at Sea cruise was produced by Harmon’s Tammy Selee, and our first year without Paul joining us,” Harmon said in a news release. “Paul was a strong supporter of our nation’s veterans as well as a wonderful entertainer and a friend to so many. We miss his crazy energy and positive outlook, and we’re pleased to be able to continue his support of veterans in his honor.”
No matter what motivates you to travel—an interest in history, cutting-edge technology, cuisine, ancient or contemporary architecture, nature, shopping, unique cultural pursuits, you name it—Japan has it all. From vibrant metropolises to rural retreats, from tropical beaches to lofty mountain peaks, from world-class hotels to traditional Japanese inns, Japan offers a wide range of destinations and diversions that appeal to both novice and seasoned travelers.
Who can forget the thrill of seeing Mt. Fuji for the first time, its perfect, cone-shaped symmetry rising majestically against a blue sky? Japan is famous for its shimmering cherry blossoms in spring, so ethereal it’s heaven on earth, but equally stunning are its irises, wisteria, hydrangea, and many other blossoming plants and trees, not to mention its maples which blaze a fiery red across the country in autumn. Mountains beckon with hiking trails in summer and top-rated skiing in winter (Japan has hosted the winter Olympics twice), while Japan’s hot-springs spas—among the most numerous and varied in the world—have been soothing aches and pains for more than 1,000 years.
Just a couple of years ago, headlines were about the demise of the travel agent, about to go the way of the Dodo and the dinosaur. Guess what? Travel agents are not only still here, they are experiencing a rebound – despite (or because of?) the myriad travel tools available online.
So why should you use a travel agent?
There are many, many good reasons, which I will explain. But the bottom line is that they know more than you do, they are better connected than you, they have access to benefits you can’t get otherwise, they can often beat any other prices available (even online, yes), and after you have planned everything, they provide a safety net during your trip that you simply won’t get by booking yourself or buying insurance. Having a top travel agent can also make you an instant VIP – free room upgrades, hard to get restaurant reservations, cutting lines, access to otherwise closed stores and exhibits, private guides, and cheaper – often much cheaper – premium airfares. Here’s the best part: even though most top agents charge fees, in almost every firsthand experience I or my friends, family, and acquaintances have had, travel agents have saved money, often a lot of money, thousands of dollars, and in every case, more than paid for themselves.
To be clear, I am talking about true experts, the really good travel agents who add value, not the ones running full page ads of deals in the Sunday papers. The best travel agents are essentially consultants, and many prefer “travel advisor,” because it is their advice, expertise, and connections that are of great value, not the ability to print airline tickets for you. A few have become hyper-specialized, and in some cases, like booking a cruise, golf vacation, space travel, or a very specialized theme trip like art, music or polar exploration, you will want to seek out a niche specialist. But for most travelers, it is better to find an excellent generalist travel advisor and stick with them, because a big part of the equation is that they get to know you and your wants, likes and dislikes, and make suggestions accordingly. You would not use a different financial advisor every time you opened a new bank or brokerage account, so why keep switching travel agents? Larry Olmsted Contributor
Only in Scandinavia! A destination heralded for innovation and contemporary genius, yet firmly rooted within its historic landscape. Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden offer breathtaking nature, which blends effortlessly with its culture. Sublime beauty and an enlivening atmosphere exist at every turn, whether it is experienced within Norway’s spectacular fjords, Stockholm’s archipelago or along the streets of eco-friendly Copenhagen where bicycles prove as commonplace as car. Scandinavia summons reference to no other place.
See Things To Do HERE.
Experience a getaway of luxury, adventure, World Heritage wilderness, fine food and wine and boutique accommodation in Australia’s southernmost state. Home to the cleanest air in the world,
Tasmania is just an hours’ flight from Melbourne and two hours from Sydney and everything on the island is so easy to get to. The perfect size for a self-drive vacation, you can stand atop a mountain peak in the morning and paddle an azure sea in the afternoon. You can pack more into your day because you spend less time driving.
You can spend your time surrounded by unspoilt wilderness as more than 40 percent of Tasmania is protected within World Heritage areas, parks and reserves, offering endless wilderness experiences. Visitors can explore the dramatic landscapes of the world’s last great temperate wilderness boasting rugged mountain ranges, dense rainforests, wild rivers and glaciated peaks making it a playground for hikers. Intimate encounters with the island’s wildlife are a regular occurrence, including the Tasmanian devil. If history is your passion, there are five UNESCO World Heritage Listed convict sites in Tasmania including the well preserved penal colony at Port Arthur Historic Site, set on a spectacular coastline. At these locations, relive the past as you wander the remains of historic buildings and hear convict tales about the harsh life in then, colonial Van Diemen’s Land.
There are plenty of opportunities to spoil yourself. Luxurious accommodation combined with fresh produce and mouth-watering cool-climate wines can ensure merciless pampering at the end of a day’s adventuring in pristine wilderness. Think slow-ripened berries, premium organic beef, fresh abalone, oysters and wild trout, white mushrooms and black truffles, sparkling wines and pinot noirs, and some of Australia’s leading beers and whiskeys.
Explore beautiful Freycinet National Park and stay on its doorstep at the jewel in Tasmania’s crown, Saffire-Freycinet, a US$26 million coastal sanctuary which compares with the finest and most exotic five-star experiences found anywhere in the world. From there you can visit Wineglass Bay, voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world and afterwards lounge in an intimate 5-star lodge with a single malt whiskey from a Tasmanian distillery.
Tasmania is an island of inspiration for local artisans and there is a thriving and vibrant art and culture scene with galleries, markets and the southern hemisphere’s largest private collection of art and antiquities at MONA, the highly regarded Museum of Old and New Art. Visitors also can wander through Hobart’s waterfront at Salamanca Place, an area lined with Georgian sandstone warehouses built in the 1830s now filled with craft and design shops, art studios and fine galleries. The famous Salamanca Market takes place there every Saturday.
Israel is a tiny country––only about 29,000 square kilometers––and yet, it is a place of amazing variety, with globally unique contrasts. For example, central Israel is the most populous place on earth, and yet, having planted over 240 million trees, it is the only country that ended the 20th century with more trees than it started with! Israel’s location, bridging Africa, Asia and Europe, has blessed it with four bio-geographical zones––Mediterranean, steppe, desert and African – make it unique worldwide in terms of its combination and variety of climate, flora and fauna.
Israel has virtually no rainfall for some eight months of the year, which has spurred it to develop alternative water sources. Seventy-five percent of Israel’s water is recycled after use, and the world’s largest desalination plant is located in Ashkelon. Israel has pioneered arid land agriculture, and has hosted more than 200,000 people from 130 developing countries for training in agriculture and other fields.
Israel’s achievements in hi-tech go back to its early days: In 1954, WEIZAC, one of the world’s first computers, was designed and built at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. Twenty-four percent of the members of Israel’s work-force have university degrees, the third-largest number in the industrialized world. It also has the world’s highest count of engineers per capita, and 4,000 high-tech startups, the most per-capita in the world.
Israel has produced a number of outstanding sportsmen and women––in tennis, windsurfing, judo and track and field, the latter mainly thanks to the influx of newcomers from the former Soviet Union. In the 2007 Special Olympics, Israel’s team of 39 competitors garnered 42 medals: 11 gold, 22 silver and 9 bronze!
On the medical front, two out of the top three medications to treat multiple sclerosis were developed in Israel; Israeli microbiologists developed the first passive vaccine against the mosquito-borne West Nile virus, and an Israeli company developed the first ingestible video camera to help diagnose cancer and digestive disorders, so small it fits inside a pill! Israel also developed the world’s first pill to deliver a daily dose of insulin to diabetes sufferers.
Perhaps most meaningful of all, some say it is the variety of Israel’s people that makes it unique in so many other ways––only around 7.3 million, but hailing from over 30 regions and countries the world over.
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth, as vast as it is varied in landscape and experiences. Alberta is an exceptional vacation destination you won’t soon forget, filled with unique activities, urban charms and cultural jewels.
Alberta is where you’ll feel larger-than-life as you reach the top of a Rocky Mountain peak. Feel humbled as you stand so small beneath its achingly beautiful, big sky. It’s where you’ll join crowds in the open air as performers take to festival stages and street corners. This is where being in the saddle could mean herding cattle on horseback, or blasting down the side of a mountain on a bike, grinning ear to ear the whole way. Alberta is where history echoes in the drums and songs of the First Nations. Alberta is a place of moments – that will become memories. Check out more information here.