Category Archives: Family Travel

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific

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Club Med Ixtapa Pacific

Barb recently got back from travels in Mexico, where she stayed at Club Med Ixtapa Pacific for six days. Named as one of the world’s best family resorts by Trip Advisor, Ixtapa is an all-inclusive resort with glorious sandy beaches, the second largest coral reef in the world, and fun family activities like sailing and scuba diving. The resort offers kids’ clubs especially geared to specific age groups. It’s perfect for a family reunion, and our agents have booked a number of multigenerational trips to the Club Meds in the past. Located on the Riviera Maya, ancient Mayan ruins are just a short distance away, ready for your little explorers.

Club Med Ixtapa Pacific is located about 30-40 minutes from Zihuantanejo Airport, resting on a quiet, protected beach perfect for swimming. I’m told this area almost always has great weather due to their location close to the mountains, however it was more humid than I expected.  The resort is well laid out, with capacity for up to 800 guests, but spread out enough that it never feels overflowing when totally full. We had an Oceanview club room, which was very comfortable. — Barb B.

Restaurants

Keep the kids happy with 3-4 restaurants to choose from. The elegant Encanto enchants with its five themed lounges–the mirror room, mask room, indoor garden, aquarium and stargazing lounge. Head to the Miramar for all-day, laidback fare on an oceanfront terrace. The Luna Azul sparkles at dinnertime with delicious local Mexican cuisine, overlooking the beach and coconut palms. The kids will be able to show off their culinary talents at Sirena, where children ages 2-10 can be their own chef!

Club Med has two restaurants that stagger their opening times so that one can eat pretty much any time during the day and evening.  There is a “dress code” in the evening, these are more like theme nights – there is an optional color code for clothing, I’d say less than half of the guests followed the dress code, other than that dress for all meals is very casual, just no bathing suits!  There is nightly entertainment put on by the staff (GO’s), one night they had a trapeze show.  One night the kids of the resort performed, the kids are dressed in costumes and different age groups come and perform dances, it was so cute! — Barb B.

Activities

A stay at any Club Med includes dozens of fun sports, activities, and sports schools with excellent instructors. Brush up on your sailing skills, perfect your archery technique, or monkey around at the Flying Trapeze School. There’s also mini golf, table tennis, SUP–or if you want to try something a bit more challenging, book a special instructor for deep sea fishing, snuba, scuba or flyboarding.

Kids’ Clubs

Club Med Ixtapa is home to kids’ clubs of varying ages, including the Baby Club Med (4-23 months), Petit Club Med (2-3 years old), Mini Club Med (4-10 years old). Teens (11-17 years old) can enjoy an exclusive Juniors’ Club Med outdoor recreation area – no unsupervised adults allowed! For newborns, Club Med provides free baby-care materials and equipment, foods, and a special playground just for the little ones–plus baby-sitting on demand.

This resort is very focused on families and kids, with lots of children’s activities for kids of all ages.  The kids club is included in the cost of your stay, except for kids under 3, where there is a fee. There are activities for adults all day long too, the schedule is posted daily (like on a cruise ship), activities range from gentle 1 hour walk, water aerobics, tennis, canoeing, standup paddle boarding. They also offer, trapeze, Zumba and salsa lessons!  There is also a spa and 3 swimming pools. There is no pressure to participate or not participate in any of the activities.

The resort also has a great setup for family rooms – they have 2 room units which can accommodate parents, up to 3 kids plus a crib.  Each family with a little child has a stroller at their disposal during their stay. Their suites are located in a separate building with their own front desk and beach area.

— Barb B.

One can purchase excursions through Club Med – we went to a Turtle Hatchery, and helped release baby turtles back into the water, it was fun!  Ixtapa has a bicycle path, which goes along a lot of the town area, one can rent bicycles and they offer bicycle tours. Ixtapa is the modern resort area, with many high rise beachfront resorts, many are all-inclusive, and golf course.  Zihuantanejo is the old town, with a nice town square, good for local shopping and culture, located close to the beach, a pier, and a lovely old church. — Barb B.

Why book with Willamette Intl Travel?

Many of our agents have stayed at Club Meds and can give you firsthand tips and honest feedback. We have access to deals and perks through our connections with Club Med, and can arrange a whole package for you and your family to stay at a Club Med – with airfare, transportation, activities – so you don’t have to stress about any of it.

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Filed under Club Med, Family Travel, Mexico, Travel by Scuba, Travel by Sport, Travel by Taste

5 Fun Travel Apps for Your Upcoming Trip

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FlightAware

FlightAware is a super useful flight tracker app. Keep track of flights with live tracking maps, flight statuses and airport delays. Covers most airports, general commercial flights and in some cases, private charters.

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TouchNote

TouchNote is a fun app that you can use even when you’re back at home. Send printed postcards with your own travel photos from the convenience of your laptop! The app will send out personalized postcards or greeting cards with a custom message and your latest shots from the Eiffel Tower.

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Skyview

Here’s a unique travel app that comes in handy when you’re out under the stars. Point your phone or tablet at the sky, and it will tell you all the stars and constellations in your view. It’s awesome for photographers and amateur astronomers. A fun app to share with the kids.

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Kindle

Not a travel app exclusively, but so useful when you’re on the road! Take your bookshelf with you with the kindle reading app. Download your favorite book onto your kindle, phone or tablet to read on the plane, train, or on those long car drives through Europe!

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XE Currency Exchange

I’ve been using XE.com for years now. This handy-dandy exchange app is an intuitive way to keep track of various currencies. I found that it’s super invaluable when traveling, especially on multi-country trips. Haggling in a street market in Morocco or Laos? Just whip out your phone for a quick exchange. Plus you don’t even need to connect to wi-fi to check rates! New features include an alert when a rate hits a pre-set target.

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Filed under Europe, Family Travel, Luxury Travel, Travel Gear, Travel Tips

UniWorld: The #1 Rated Family Cruise Line

 

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Willamette Intl Travel Agents have years of experience sending clients on Uniworld river cruises, so we’re your best bet for feedback and insider tips! We can help you to get a picture of your holiday. We also have access to special discounts. Do call us if you’re thinking a River Cruise with your kids! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Give your kids an opportunity to experience the thrills and transformative moments of cross-cultural travel. Discover and grow (and have fun!) together, bonding as a family on an unforgettable shared adventure. The memories you create on a Uniworld Generations cruise will last a lifetime, along with a deeper understanding and respect for other peoples, places and perspectives.

Kids cruise for half price!*

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*For every accompanying adult, one child between the ages of 4 and 18 qualifies for the 50% savings off the cruise-only fare. Call WIT for details!

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Filed under Cruises, Czech, Europe, Family Travel, France, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, SALES, Uniworld

Conscientious Traveler: Celebrated Experiences

 

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Welcome back to Conscientious Traveler—our monthly series in which we showcase one of our fantastic partners with projects that support the environment, wildlife and local communities. This month, we feature Celebrated Experiences.

 

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Celebrated Experiences offers customized trips to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy. They curate perfect vacations with castles, boutique hotels, country hotels, small bed & breakfasts, and apartments (breakfast always included!). Itineraries can be highly personalized, with themes ranging from Gardens; Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Film Locations, History, Culinary, Genealogy — plus chauffeurs and guides.

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Their team personally inspects each property they book, and they constantly review, add and drop properties, ensuring great stays for our clients. Their destination experts and entertaining guides have walked the villages and explored off-the-beaten path locales in order to anticipate each guest’s need and wish. They are a marvelous travel company and just celebrated their 25th Anniversary. 

 

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Stay in a 12-Century castle in Tuscany, Italy

Wake up in Ballynahinch Castle in the heart of stunning Connemara, Ireland

Treat yourself at the luxurious, award-winning five-star Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Golf on its own private island near Loch Lomond in Scotland

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Celebrated Experiences’ unique philanthropic program donates a dollar for every hotel room night! We at Willamette Intl Travel are proud to partner up with such great companies that take the time to give back. As 2016 was their most successful year ever, this year they are donating more than $23,500 to important causes!

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Foundations include Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Make-A-Wish, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and The Alzheimer’s Foundation. They also donate $500 to the favorite cause of each member of their team, including:

  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • St. Jude Children’s Hospital
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Pediatric Cancer Foundation
  • Prostate Cancer Foundation
  • PAWS Atlanta
  • US Navy Memorial
  • Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary
  • Children’s Miracle Network  

Every little bit helps and no booking is too small!

Call Willamette Intl Travel to find out more about these exclusive properties: 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

 

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Filed under Accommodation, Conscientious Traveler, England, Europe, Family Travel, Ireland, Itinerary

Islands Series: the Orkneys

Tired of this heat and seeking a cooler harbor?

This week we’re taking a look at islands where you can stay cool in the summer, big and small. Islands where you can still enjoy a cup of piping hot coffee or tea without sweating away in your windbreaker!

So you’ve been to England, you’ve seen Bath and Stonehenge in all their glory–you’ve even did a train up to Edinburgh and checked out the incredible Sterling Castle. What’s next to explore in the UK? How about a week in the slightly stranger, much more tranquil, Orkney archipelago?

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The Orkney Islands include about 70 islands just off the coast of Scotland. With its sloping valleys and stark green moors, the islands–much like its Faroe neighbors to the north–give off a wild and somewhat mythical atmosphere that tends to draw the more curious of travelers.

The locals tend to be hospitable and thoughtful, with the pragmatism that comes from centuries of survival in a challenging environment. Officially, the native tongue is English–but the pronunciation tends to differ between districts, and much of the lexicon has close roots to Old Norse.

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There’s loads to see and do on the islands, most notably for avid history fans. Visitors interested in Orkney’s vivid Viking heritage will surely find Maeshowe intriguing. This tomb contains the best collection of Viking runes outside of Scandinavia, and is located 14 km west of Kirkwall. Travelers can also investigate the prehistoric ruins of Skara Brae, arguably the best-preserved ancient village in Western Europe and inhabited well before the Pyramids were built–as well as the stone circles at Brodgar and Stenness. Other (and relatively more recent) historical attractions include the ruins of St. Magnus Cathedral, an elegant medieval church on the islet of Streymoy, and the Italian Chapel, built by prisoners of war in WWII.

Try to visit in the summer, when the weather is tolerable, or during one of the spirited town festivals. The Orkney Folk Festival is a lively event in May of folk music, dance, song–the towns erupt with ceilidhs and fiddle concerts. Or stop by during midsummer for the St. Magnus Festival, a distinguished celebration of the arts. But, if you happen to come in the winter or cusp season, you may get a glimpse of the Northern Lights!

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Locals love giving guided walks and tours of their famous sites. Join a guide around the WWII Naval Base near the bay of Scapa Flow. Whisky enthusiasts will delight in Highland Park, the world’s most northerly Scotch distillery. Outdoorsy types will find a home in the Orkneys, where there are ample valleys and cliffs to hike or cycle, and the multiple bays make for great sailing, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing. Visitors will also find 9- and 18-hole golf courses–where windy turf can prove quite the challenge.

Travelers can even bring their kids without worry–there are lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy–from secluded beaches, to diverse marine wildlife, to farm museums and swimming pools.

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Did You Know? Some great opportunities for scuba divers abound in the Orkneys. You can dive down to the remains of the German WWI Imperial Fleet, scuttled in Scapa Flow.

How to Get There: The best way to access Orkney is by plane, via Flybe from major airports in Scotland, or by ferry.

Our Agents would love to help you beat the heat! Call us up to chat more about next year’s options to the Orkneys, Shetlands, Faroe Islands or other misty, spellbinding destinations.

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Filed under Europe, Family Travel, Luxury Travel, Travel by Ship, UK

Easter in France — Joyeuses Pâques!

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France is due to be extremely popular for travelers in 2014, in part for all the festivities and rememberances this year! June 6, 2014 will mark the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, and towns all over the Normandy coast are already booked up for the season!

Fortunate to be in France for Easter Holidays? The Lenten season is a terrific time to be in the country, as celebrations typically run for several weeks. Known as “Pâques,” it’s a time of rebirth and festivity, with traditions revolving around chocolate, fish and church bells. Florescent tulips burst from the soil and absurdly delicious candies abound. The holiday kicks off with the grand Nice carnavale, a tradition dating back to at least 1294, where over 1000 dancers, actors and performers head to the streets to showcase their talents along the Promenade des Anglais.

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Tulips along Bercy Village

Easter of course originates as a Christian holiday, and churches play an important roll. Tradition calls for silencing of all church bells from Thursday to Saturday, a somber observance of Jesus’ passing. To break the tension of quiet churches, parents tell their children that the bells have flown off to Rome to visit the Pope. Their ringing return on Sunday morning parallels the jubilant arrival of gifts of chocolate and eggs for children. And perhaps no French village takes the egg celebration to a greater extreme than in Bessieres near Toulouse. On Easter Monday the village celebrates with a giant omelette festival, during which Chiefs create a giant omelet of 10,000 eggs in a massive 12-foot pan.

Happy Easter to all Travelers in 2014, or as they say en France:

~~ Joyeuses Pâques! ~~

Heading to France this year? Hotels are already booking up for summer and fall! Call Willamette Intl Travel to speak with our experts in European travel. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Europe, Family Travel, France

Beyond Barcelona

It’s hard to beat Barcelona’s cosmopolitan air, tasty seafood dishes and playful Gaudi architecture. However, when you’ve explored the city for a few days, it may be time to hit the road and check out nearby locales. Simple daytrips are just a brief drive/train away—don’t leave Northern Spain without a trip to the countryside!

Our friends at Spanish Trails do a remarkable job taking our clients on day trips in and around Barcelona. Our clients always come back with great feedback. Call Wittravel to arrange a fun excursion hiking, wining, dining, and more.

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Montserrat by oseillo, Creative Commons

Montserrat. For almost 1000 years, monks have lived atop the serrated peak of Montserrat. Legends have it that shepherds witnessed an image of the black Madonna, La Moreneta, in a cave on the mountain. Since then, the site, church and monastery have been a pilgrim magnet. You can take a train from the city or combine it with a day tour around the Penedes wine region.

Girona. Explore the walled and Roman city of Girona, which still has one of the best preserved old Jewish quarters. Check out the world-famous Gothic Cathedral and the Jewish heritage center of Bonastruc ça Porta. Get a feel for Mediterranean lifestyle and delicious cuisine.

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Dali Museum in Figueres by Fifth World Art, Creative Commons

Figueres and Salvador Dali. Take a personalized day trip to Figueres, and visit the memorable museum of the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. The museum was designed by Dali himself and houses a number of his works: paintings, sculptures, furniture and jewelry. Don’t miss the labyrinthine Dali House museum in nearby Port Lligat, and the picturesque Cadaques, the historic home to many of Catalan’s famous artists including Picasso.

La Garriga. Just 20-40 minutes from Barcelona lies a village with beautiful medieval buildings and hot springs, the latter whose curative properties have been in use since Roman times. You can stay at a local villa spa and enjoy these amazing natural springs with tea and a massage.

Costa Brava. Follow a guide out along the Northern Spanish coast and explore high winding cliffs and hidden coves. Check out unforgettable views, snorkeling opportunities off of secluded beaches and beach front dining. Guides will enrich your knowledge of the history and traditions of Catalunya. Like water sports? Book a family kayak trip with professional guides!

Pyrenees. Always dreamed of a Pyrenees adventure? Now you can hike up through these panoramic trails, explore charming medieval villages and enjoy beautiful streams and waterfalls and country dining.

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Sitges on the Costa Brava by jsmuns, Creative Commons

Sitges. Looking for a spot of sand to stretch out on? Head to Sitges for some summer sun, just 45 minutes south of the city. Despite crowds on the nicest days, it’s still a great place to check out.

Many of these excursions are available through our partners at Spanish Trails, so give us a call and we’d love to set one up for you. We can also arrange flights, accommodation, car rental, and trains.

Several WIT Clients have traveled around Spain and would love to give you their firsthand tips and recommendations! Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Art & Architecture, Europe, Family Travel, Spain, Vendors