Escape from the Cold - it's All-Inclusive Season!

As fall temps cool down and we start to feel the chill of winter approaching (at least up north!), it's inevitable that we start missing the sun, the warmth... and that "summer" feeling. Not to fear! All-Inclusive season is here! 

If you've never tried out an All-Inclusive, it really is a fantastic experience.  Not long ago, I posted about my time at Secrets Akumal. This year, I've also visited Hard Rock Resorts, Club Med Resorts, and many other great locations. If you have never been to an All-Inclusive, you may be wondering, "what's the big deal?".  Let me show you...

Hard Rock Rivera Maya - Heaven (Adults-only) section

Hard Rock Rivera Maya - Heaven (Adults-only) section

You all know that I am a HUGE theme park fan.  I tend to be a very active individual, and I love being an active vacationer.  That being said, there are times when it's nice to just have a beach.  And some sun.  And fabulous service. This is where an all-inclusive comes in.  

When you purchase an all-inclusive package, it's just that... inclusive of everything.  Food, drinks (yes, alcoholic ones too), entertainment... it's all there.  Now as you might imagine, there are different types of all-inclusive resorts, and not all are created equal.  That being said, there is a great option for everyone.  Whether you want adults-only or family-friendly, we can find a perfect resort for you.

Secrets Resorts are high on my list of loves.  I visited two locations in Riviera Maya, and WOW.  Top-notch, personalized service, 24-hour room service, adults-only, beautiful amenities... oh yeah, and palm trees.  Here are some pictures from Secrets Akumal and Secrets Maroma Beach. Oh - did I mention that Maroma has been consistently ranked among the top 10 beaches? Both are great; Akumal has a great vibe for couples or just friends hanging out -- Maroma definitely caters more to the romantics.

Related to Secrets is Dreams.  This would be the family-friendly version... but the great news is, there is absolutely no sacrifice in quality.  Check out these pics of Dreams Tulum!  Sure, it was cloudy that day, but it was warm, and the spa looked even more inviting as a result!

Looking for a little more lively entertainment? Hard Rock Resorts will give you an amazing experience! The best part is, you can go to "Heaven" (adults only) or the "Hacienda" (family).

One more mention in Mexico- because I was SO impressed by it! The Valentin Imperial Maya is a family-owned, gorgeous adults-only resort.  

Another popular location is Punta Cana.  Although it's a newer resort area as compared to Riviera Maya, there are some fabulous places! A popular family place here is the Nickelodeon Resort by Karisma.  Top quality + family fun = a great vacation!

Let's head to Jamaica and to a resort name I know you know -- Sandals! There are a lot of beautiful Sandals locations -- this one in Negril has such a beautiful beach! Oh, and by staying Butler Level, you'll get the ULTIMATE pampering experience.

Sandals is a couples' resort, but not to fear - Beaches is the family-friendly answer. And guess what? There is a Beaches Negril!

Ready to hit the beach? Contact us, and we will help you plan the All-Inclusive vacation you've been dreaming of.  

Disney's Vero Beach Resort

There’s something magical about vacationing at Disney that puts a spring in my step and a huge smile on my face. It’s one of my favorite ways to vacation. But then again, a vacation at the beach is so relaxing. There isn’t the hubbub of people, the waiting in lines for attractions, and the go-go-go feeling of having to be somewhere at a certain time. For me, it’s hard to choose between the two. Luckily, there’s a place where we don’t have to choose between the magic of Disney and the relaxation of the beach. Enter Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.


Disney’s Vero Beach Resort is just a two- hour drive southeast of Walt Disney World Resort. Nestled right up against the Atlantic Ocean, it combines the beauty of nature and Disney-inspired family fun. This is a Disney Vacation Club resort that offers accommodations ranging from studios to one and two- bedroom villas. There are also a small number of 3- bedroom cottages available.

When you first arrive to the resort, you will see a sign that says “Welcome Home”. As well as some fun topiary hedges, such as one of the crocodile from Peter Pan.  In true Disney fashion, you feel like you belong.


There is so much to see and do at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. Before we even discuss the beach and ocean, let’s look at what’s available right at the resort. 


The pool is a Mickey shape with a fun 163-foot spiral water slide.

Near the pool is the Tiger Lily wet play area as well as a pirate themed 9-hole mini golf course. There is also activities hosted by the cast members, such as poolside trivia and waterslide races. Visit Eb & Flo Rentals on the pool deck to rent bikes and more as well as get complimentary billiards, sports balls, ping pong equipment, and board games. If you go out to the front of the resort, you’ll find a tunnel walkway that will take you across the street. Here you will come to a beautiful nature area, where you can play sports, go for a nature walk, or just hang out and enjoy the scenery.  You can also get tennis lessons or learn how to fish.

All of this and we haven’t even touched the beach yet.


Disney’s Vero Beach Resort features a private beach with guest only access. As with any beach, I love to just sit and relax on the beach. To soak up the sun and put my toes in the sand and the ocean or to look for seashells. Visit the SeaBreeze Cabana Company to rent beach chairs and umbrellas daily or for the week. You can also rent boogie boards, jet skis, surf boards, and other fun ocean equipment. The resort also share beach space with the nesting grounds of the Loggerhead Sea Turtles. In keeping with Walt Disney’s conservation legacy, the beach has been specifically designed to create a minimal impact on their nesting patterns. During the warmer months, you can join a nighttime outing to view the nesting turtles. You will be accompanied by cast members who have degrees in a related field.



Sea Turtles are much of the resort’s theming. My husband and I have a tradition of taking a family picture in front of the Sea Turtle painting in the foyer.

The resort has 2 dining rooms as well as a lounge and a quick service restaurant near the pool. Shutter’s, the casual dining restaurant, also offers character dining twice a week. Typically on Monday nights, Shutter’s hosts a family style, all you can eat, Pirate dinner with Pirate Goofy and Pirate Donald.  Feel free to dress up and join in the fun! (Featured in the summer through Labor Day)

On Saturday morning, join Goofy and Donald for breakfast at Goofy’s Beachside Character Breakfast. This is also a family style, all you can eat meal.



With so many different things to do at the resort, including The Spa at Disney’s Vero Beach where you can indulge in various different spa treatments, you might hesitate to venture off property. However, there is so much to see in the surrounding area as well. The boardwalk of Vero Beach features shops as well as dining and this can be found throughout the area. Just ask the locals for some of their favorite places to shop or eat, they have suggestions that turn out to be hidden gems! So if you are looking for a relaxing beach vacation and that Disney flair, don’t hesitate to check out Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. If you have any questions or want to book your Vero Beach vacation, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Until then, dream of the sun on your face and your toes in the sand,

Twitter & Instagram: UponAStarPatti

















Escape to Myrtle Beach (Part 3)

You can catch the first 2 here:

Part 1
Part 2

As I’ve said before, I find myself in Myrtle Beach at least once a year.  And, after I’ve gone to the beach and visited a few sights, and I generally find that I’m in the mood to shop.  That works out, because the Myrtle Beach area has some great shopping options!

Are you an outlet shopper?  Tanger Outlets offers two locations in Myrtle Beach – one in North Myrtle Beach (on Highway 17) and one a bit more south (on Highway 501), more toward the middle of the Grand Strand.  The “southern outlets,” as my mom and I refer to the mall, is a newer complex, but it’s also smaller.  The “northern outlets” tend to be our favorite of the two.  Part of this is practical: While both malls are outdoors, the mall to the north has built canopies to shield shoppers from the elements – whether sun or rain – as they dart between the stores. 

Of course, the main reason we’re willing to drive a little farther from where we stay is the stores.  The Highway 17 location offers a Disney Store, a Lululemon Athletica Outlet, and a Kate Spade Outlet (my favorite!), which you cannot find at the 501 location.  These are only a small sampling; these outlet malls definitely have something for everyone!  And, they offer great discounts over traditional malls, as well as many coupons.  It’s always worth it to stop by Guest Services when you arrive at the mall to pick up a coupon book.  They are available for a nominal fee, or are free if you have signed up for and received a text offer.  Individual stores also tend to offer additional coupons when you walk through the door.

If outlets aren’t your speed, you may enjoy the quirky shops at Barefoot Landings and Broadway at the Beach.  They have traditional offerings, like Yankee Candle and Claire’s, but also tend toward the novelty, boasting stores such as Crabby Jack’s General Store and Pepper Palace.  You can also find shopping experiences, such as Sparkles, a boutique that transforms little girls into princesses, or Build-A-Bear – a favorite of the children in my family. 

But, my absolute favorite place to shop in the Myrtle Beach area isn’t even exactly in Myrtle Beach – it’s a few miles south, in an area called Pawleys Island.  For me, no trip to Myrtle Beach is complete without a visit to the Pawleys Island Hammock Shops.

Although you can definitely buy a handmade hammock – or stop to watch as they string one – at the Hammock Shops, they offer so much more than just that.  This is truly local shopping, with a unique, Low Country flavor.  There are several shops that are on my must-visit list every time I shop.

First, I absolutely love High Country Olive Oil.  It is a tasting store that sells specialty olive oils and vinegars.  You walk in to discover casks and casks of oils and vinegars, just waiting to be sampled.  Everyone who works there is incredibly helpful and friendly, and will be more than happy to guide you through pairings and options.

My next stop is Isle of Candles, which sells candles made of soy, rather than traditional wax.  The result is a candle that burns cleaner and longer – and, the best part is, the softened wax is a delightful soy lotion!  Again, the people who work there are wonderful, and are always eager to let you “take a dip” in one of their candles.  As a somewhat regular customer, I love their recycling program – returning an empty jar gets you a discount on a new candle.  The candles are made on-site, so you are truly supporting a local business when you shop there.


Finally, I always love to visit Details by Three Sisters.  They sell gorgeous, unique jewelry – pieces that you just won’t find anywhere else.  They provide on-site engraving, which is convenient when you are in a vacation time-crunch.  You can also find distinctive accessories of a non-jewelry variety – I’ve come away with some fun, funky bandanas to wear to the beach.

These are my favorite shopping spots in Myrtle Beach!  Where would you go first?  Or, if you’ve already been there, where is your favorite place to shop?  Let me know in the comments!

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