luxury travel

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5 Star Luxury Cruises in July or August from €1199 Including Flights!

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There are some amazing offers on 5 star luxury cruises in June, July or August. I had to read them a few times to see was I missing something – the prices are that good!

 

Three iconic cruise ships, the same impeccable service. Cruising with Cunard is classic, sophisticated and elegant. Expect daily white gloved afternoon tea, glamorous black tie events and unforgettable experiences. There are numerous dining options to choose from, world class entertainment as well as some traditional activities such as deck games, fencing and salsa dance classes. You will also find famous speakers giving informative presentations, another notable difference on Cunard cruises.

Click&Go have incredible offers on all three Cunard ships in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. Choose a Greek Islands, Croatia and Italy cruise or a Western Mediterranean cruise taking in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome. If you fancy Northern Europe, choose from a Norwegian fjords cruise or the Baltic Capitals. If you want a longer break there are also great deals on 9, 12 and 14 night cruises. What ever you choose you can enjoy 5 star luxury cruises in June, July or August from €1199, including flights from Dublin. I have listed two of my favourites below, but for details on all of their latest offers, click here.

 

Queen Victoria – Flights & 7 Night Greek Isles cruise, 14th July €1199!

Following upgrades to staterooms, the bar areas, sun deck and the new Britannia Club, you will cruise on a ship fit for a Queen. Enjoy a glass of bubbly at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne bar or enjoy the panoramic views in the Hemisphere lounge. Complete with a glass-domed roof this is also the venue for the resident DJ and contemporary nightclub. Practice your swing with the golf nets on deck, enjoy a game of tennis, fitness classes or relax in one of the swimming pools or the Royal Spa.

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Fly from Dublin to Athens on the 15th of July and board the Queen Victoria for your seven day luxury cruise around the Greek Islands. Visit the captivating islands of Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete as well as Saranda on the Albanian Riviera, before returning to Athens for your return flight home. Price of €1199 is based on an interior stateroom but you can upgrade to a balcony for an additional €200!

Click here for more details: or Call 01-5397713

 

Queen Mary 2 – Flights & 8 Night Norwegian Fjords cruise, 21st August €1299

Imagine cruising around the Norwegian Fjords on the iconic Queen Mary 2! Audrey Hepburn, Clarke Gable and even President George Bush have all cruised on this luxury liner. Now you can too…Cunard’s flagship cruiseliner the Queen Mary 2 has been remastered with a staggering £90 million makeover. She has all the glitz and glamour associated with luxury cruising but now with added contemporary styling. You will find the best wine cellar at sea and the largest library as well as a full scale planetarium. Of course if you just want to relax, there are five pools and a luxury spa.

5 Star Luxury Cruises in June, July or August from €999

Fly from Dublin to Hamburg on the 21st of August and cruise to the Norwegian Fjords on an eight night luxury cruise.  Visit Bergen, Aselund, Olden, Flaam and Stavanger before returning to Hamburg for your return flight home.

Click here for more details: or Call 01-5397713 – Open 7 days a week!

 

Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here. This post was sponsored by Click&Go but all views, as always, are my own.

Sarah

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City BreaksDestinationsEurope

Living like Royalty at the Hotel du Palais

Hotel du Palais

I stared at the menu thinking I was loosing my mind – there were no prices. I looked around the dining room at the Hotel du Palais and wondered, was this how the other half lived?

I knew it was going to be expensive, a Michelin star restaurant in one of France’s best hotels, but I wanted to know how expensive. Should I order the lobster a la plancha or play it safe and go with the thick cut prime beef? It was only when I raised my concerns with my husband Cormac, he told me there were prices on his menu. The penny dropped – the Hotel du Palais did not just look old world, it actually was.

I know many might think this was sexist, but not me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equal rights, female presidents and empowered first ladies. This however wasn’t meant to be offensive; on the contrary, it was quite romantic. In a world where so much revolves around money, where price takes precedence over quality, it was refreshing to see that chivalry was alive and well in the Hotel du Palais.


From the moment we drove through the gates and entered the lavish grounds, I knew this stay was going to be something special. Perched at the edge of the town facing the ‘Grand Plage’ in Biarritz the location is perfect. The outdoor pool and snack bar have stunning sea views and once I entered the hotel, the lavish furnishings transported me back in time. I envisaged balls, long gowns, parasols, horse and carriages and old fashioned romance. After it was given by Napoleon to his wife, it became their summer residence in 1855. Kings, queens, presidents and celebrities stayed here and now I was going to join them.

Our room or should I say rooms were probably the largest I have stayed in. We had two massive interconnecting rooms with amazing seaviews, complete with marble bathrooms, dressing rooms and large living areas. They managed to blend modern facilities with old world charm perfectly. In fact this is true all over the hotel, the large indoor swimming pool manages to look like an old roman bath forum, yet has a very modern feel. Incidentally the kids loved the pool and could use it from 10 -12 and 5 -7 each day.

hotel du palais

The town of Biarritz has a fantastic beach right beside the hotel, perfect for surfing, swimming or strolling. There are lots of cafés along the seafront, which are the perfect place to watch the world go by. Don’t miss the daily food market and the many tapas bars located beside it. The town is crammed with specialist boutiques, art galleries and trendy surf shops. I loved that there were no large department stores here. I picked up some great bargains in Morgan and overall I thought it was a great place to shop.

hotel du palais

I also liked that there are not hundreds of things to do in Biarritz. Sometimes city breaks can be exhausting trying to scratch everything off tripadvisor’s top ten things to do list. I walked along the beach towards the Le Rocher de la Vierge, where a statue of Mary stands on a small peninsula that juts out to sea. With the waves crashing against the rocks it was quite dramatic. I also paid a quick visit to the indoor market but decided against climbing the 242 steps to the top of the lighthouse!  Of course you can also pop into the nearby towns of St Jean de Luz or Bayonne. We had just completed a week long road trip where we visited BilbaoLa Rioja and San Sebastian, so we decided to stay put.

We also loved the hotel so much we didn’t want to just use it as a base, but instead we made the hotel the destination. We decided we would splash out and dine in the hotel’s Michelin star restaurant, La Villa Eugénie. We enjoyed some aperitifs in the bar where a pianist played beautifully. Cocktails were €18 but were served with substantial hors d’oeuvres. In fact they were so substantial we really didn’t need a starter. I couldn’t resist the crispy langoustines with mango sauce though, and they were ample for sharing. I was surprised overall at how large the portions were, especially for a Michelin star restaurant. The service and food was outstanding. They catered so well for children too and have a separate kids menu, complete with prices! Mine chose the pasta with tomato sauce €16 and a hamburger and French fries €22. It was my daughter Alex’s 6th birthday and they brought out a plate with ‘bonne anniversaire’ written in gold icing, a lighted candle and some tasty chocolates, all complimentary of course.

This summed up my stay at the Hotel du Palais, The lavish surroundings and impeccable service really made me feel like I was somewhere special. I was somewhere special , it was Napoleon’s summer house and I felt like an invited guest. Yes it is expensive and it is not for everyone, but for a luxury weekend, a special occasion, it is a hotel experience that is worth every penny.

 

For more details and enquiries visit their website.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

AsiaHoneymoonersLightening DealsLong Haul

Koh Samui, Thailand, Flights & 5* Luxury All Inclusive Resort, €1579!

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Forget about the paradise beaches, the English meaning of Ko Samui – ‘safe haven island’, makes you want to go there…

 

Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s most popular islands for tourists yet it has managed to stay authentic. It attracts trendy students and upmarket couples and thankfully, not as many rowdy crowds that descend on some of Thailand’s other islands. Stunning beaches, amazing restaurants and lively beach parties are what it is renowned for but if you look a little closer you will find lots of traditional villages with local food stalls, pretty temples, rainforests, waterfalls and even some deserted beaches. A visit to Ang Thong Marine National Park is a must. Complete with 42 islands, some mountainous, some jungle clad, and some with hidden coves just waiting to be explored. When you arrive back at your hotel, a Thai massage will be greatly appreciated 😉

Koh Samui

Speaking of which, the luxurious 5* Mai Samui Resort offers many pampering spa treatments, as well as three swimming pools and a host of on site activities. Take a Thai cookery class, try water yoga or if you are feeling energetic try mountain biking or sea kayaking. The beauty of the Mai Samui Resort is that meals and drinks are included in the price. Enjoy personal service from their excellent staff who will cater for your every need.  There is a choice of three restaurants plus light bites served at the Sand bar ( how cool does that sound?) For a full list of what is included click here. Enjoy a sundowner at the swim up bar or beach bar – did I mention that Koh Samui has the most amazing sunsets!

Koh Samui

This traditional Thai hotel is perfect for anyone who is looking for a luxury hotel in a secluded area, with fantastic facilities. It receives excellent reviews on tripadvisor as well as quotes like ‘dream holiday’ and ‘paradise’!  Tropical Sky are offering an amazing deal for anyone who books 5 nights – you can get the same number of nights FREE! They have deals available from €1,519 for a seven night stay in the winter months and €1579 next Summer. All prices include flights, hotel on an all-inclusive basis, transfers, baggage, all taxes and assistance while in resort.

 

Click here for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own 🙂

 

Sarah

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AmericaLightening DealsLong Haul

5* Luxury Moon Palace Resort Cancun , All Inclusive €1,409!

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A five star all-inclusive holiday in the Moon Palace Resort Cancun for €1409 – too good to be true?

When I saw this deal to the Moon Palace Resort Cancun from Tropical Sky, I thought there must be a catch. I was wrong! All-inclusive in the Moon Palace means just that. You can dine in any of their fifteen restaurants, have cocktails in any of their twelve bars or if you want a night a nightcap on your balcony – you can have a drink from your well-stocked minibar. All of these are included in the price of your stay! And thats not all… for a limited time you will $1500 resort credit absolutely free!!

Moon Palace Resort Cancun

The Moon Palace is beside Jack Nicklaus golf course, has two fitness centres, two swimming pools with swim up bars, multi sports courts and offers a range of water sports. There is day and night entertainment including live music shows and if you want to dance the night away, they have their own nightclub too. All rooms come with a private balcony with a hammock and a double Jacuzzi in the bathroom. Families are well catered for too with family rooms, kids clubs a kids waterpark.  This resort is highly rated in tripadvisor, won a travellers choice award and is considered at Platinum level from Greenleaders. If you fancy a night out, Cancun is only a half hour away and you can also explore the nearby islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujieres. The Moon Palace also happens to be sitting on a stunning white sandy beach facing the Caribbean Sea, so it’s fair to say you might not want to leave it.

Moon Palace Resort Cancun

Fly from Dublin to Cancun and enjoy a seven night all-inclusive stay from only €1,409 next Summer.  Remember for a limited time you will also receive a staggering $1500 in resort credit. Tropical Sky have amazing offers at the Moon Palace Resort throughout the year so if you are looking for a different time, click on the link below for year round prices.

 

Click here for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own 🙂

 

Sarah

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My Review of Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas

Taller than the Eiffel Tower, can carry 5,780 passengers, has 7 different neighbourhoods and 20 restaurants. Is it possible that Royal Caribbean’s massive cruise ship can live up to the hype? Find out in my review of Harmony of the Seas.

 


When I was asked to visit and a review of Harmony of the Seas, I was a little nervous. I thought it would find it too big. My sense of direction is SO bad, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to navigate my way around it. I even worried that my kids might get lost at some stage!

However, once I stepped onto the Royal Promenade my fears dissipated. My kids ran to the nearest Shrek character, while I stood there ogling at the promenade deck that was packed with shops, bars and restaurants. My jaw was hanging open and on numerous occasions, friendly staff approached me asking if I needed any assistance. There seemed to be so many of them (2,100 in fact ) and this was evident throughout my cruise. I was given a map with all the highlights but by the time I took it out of my handbag, someone was beside me giving me directions.

They also have smart screens throughout the ship showing where everything is located. I would contend that it is impossible to get lost on this ship. We managed, under duress, to make our way to our stateroom. Passing the bionic bar (where actual robots make and serve you drinks) and the designer shops, I had an awful pang in my stomach. What if I don’t have time to come back?

review of Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

Our stateroom was adequate for four, although I did manage to get a glimpse of some of the family rooms and was very impressed. They were so spacious, the largest I have seen in any ship. They comfortably sleep six with a large double bed, double sofa, bunkbeds and lots of space over all. I thought they were more spacious for six than many staterooms I have seen for four. All rooms are furnished with all mod cons including usb ports, flat screen tv’s and plenty of storage space.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

Once we unpacked, it was a case of, where to begin…! There are seven different neighbourhoods on board, each with their own activities and distinctive vibe. The kids went straight for the splash park and water slides and it was hard to get them to leave! The pool deck caters for kids of all ages. They have a tots area, a splash park for kids from about five to eight years, and three large slides for older kids. We tried them all! I had great fun racing my 8 year old down the Perfect Storm trio of slides. There are also plenty of different swimming pools, so if slides are not your thing, no worries.

waterpark on Harmony of the Seas

We rounded off our first afternoon with a trip to The Boardwalk. We had a spin on the hand crafted carousel (crazy I know!) while the kids climbed up their own rock climbing wall (there are two other rock climbing walls for adults on-board!). The boardwalk is a cool place to hang out, complete with a Mexican restaurant, a Starbucks café and even a Johnny Rockets diner – straight out of Grease.

review of Harmony of the Seas

Speaking of Grease, that night we managed to catch the broadway version in the Royal Theatre. It was spectacular. I’m not one for musicals per se, but it was as good if not better, than I have seen in London’s West End. The kids loved it too, in fact I had to download the soundtrack when I got home and it’s still requested every time they get in the car! The night entertainment continued until the small hours. There was a street party taking place in the Royal Promenade, an ice show in the ice skating rink (did I mention there was one on board?) and an open air aqua show, at the aft of the ship. We debated about using the kids club which is $7 per hour after 10pm, but decided against it as the kids were exhausted.

grease on Harmony of the Seas

The kids clubs are terrific, they are suitable for kids aged 3 to 11. Facilities include an adventure science lab, an imagination studio, a dedicated children’s theatre, all free until 10pm! You can even leave the kids on board while in port so you are free to explore on land. They have creche facilities from 6 months to 3 years, a charge of $10 per hour applies. Royal Caribbean have teamed up with Dreamworks so from time you time you will see Shrek, Puss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda and other characters out and about. They will pose happily for photos with kids – a nice touch I thought. Kids can also watch the latest Dreamworks movies in their own theatre or in your stateroom. Teenagers are not left out, they have dedicated teen only zones, as well their own nite club and the numerous sports facilities on board.

On Harmony of the Seas, if you fancy some quiet time, there are plenty of places to hide. I thought how nice it would be to skip off to the adults only solarium, chill by the pool or enjoy a spa treatment, while the kids were happily playing in the kids clubs. They also have a medi spa where you can get acupuncture and even teeth whitening! And if you fancied a night cap or a trip to the casino after 10pm, just pay $7 an hour  – that’s a pretty good deal.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

After our relatively early first night, we were up early to see as much as we could on our last day! First up was the largest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss. This is a pair of slides that offer a 100 foot drop over 10 decks. It is the iconic picture of two purple slides you see cantilevered at the aft of the ship. Personally I didn’t find it as scary as I was led to believe, however you are in complete darkness. The zipline on the other hand, OMG! I faced my fears that day and ziplined across the open air atrium. I was suspended nine decks above the boardwalk, and all in the name of research!! I guess everyone has fears. Stepping off that ledge, was one of mine. It was terrifying!

review of Harmony of the Seas

I headed straight for the bar, still shaking, and downed one of their signature cocktails! The kids were proud of me though, does that count? Mind you they were more interested in showing me how well they were doing at mini golf than listening to me recount my experience. We decided to leave the surf simulator and rock climbing wall for another time and instead watched the kids finish off their mini golf game at a leisurely pace.

mini golf on Harmony of the Seas

After all that exercise, it was time for lunch.  Out came the map again, how do you decide where to eat when there are twenty different restaurants on board? We decided to pop down to Central Park. There seemed to be plenty of dining options there. This turned out to be my favourite part (or neighbourhood) of the ship. The centre of the ship is completely open to the sky which creates a fabulous atmosphere. You don’t think you are on a ship at all. We enjoyed a few drinks at the Trellis bar before taking a stroll through the park. There is a staggering 12,000 trees and plants here! Luke spotted someone eating a tasty panini outside the Park Café, so in we went. This is a great choice for a family lunch if you don’t fancy the main restaurant and there is no additional charge.

central park on Harmony of the Seas

I’m not sure if it was the action packed morning, the food, the wine, or perhaps the combination of all three but suddenly I had the urge to chill out on a sun lounger…  How cool is it that one minute I’m on a zipline, the next I’m dining in central park and then I’m flaked out by the pool. Welcome to the world of cruising…

The kids played happily in the splash park and the pool whilst my husband and I enjoyed some much deserved R’N’R. The kids loved the self serve ice cream parlour by the pool where they could pull their own cones. This was their first experience of an all-inclusive arrangement, so they were ecstatic that they didn’t have to pay for them and that I didn’t need to know how many they were having!  There are even miniature sun loungers for kids when it all gets too much for them too. Harmony of the Seas caters so well for families. You have to hand it to Royal Caribbean, they really have thought of everything.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas

That evening we had the pleasure of visiting one the speciality dining restaurants, Coastal Kitchen. Situated on deck seventeen, with stunning ocean views and a strong Californian vibe – I loved it. The food, the service, and the ambiance was superb. The kids loved it too. Although they didn’t have a separate kids menu, they offered to make anything to suit their tastes. There are plenty of pizza, pasta or burger restaurants on board as well as a massive buffet restaurant so trust me when I say there are huge choices for kids. I thought Coastal Kitchen was special though. I wondered whether all the speciality dining restaurants were as good? I did eat in Jamie’s Italian restaurant on Ovation of the Seas and it was great too. I’m thinking, I tried two and both were great, I can only assume they all are.

review of Harmony of the Seas

Of course you have to pay for these top class restaurants…Prices vary from $25 for dinner at Jamie’s and $49 in Wonderland. However, if you really want to push the boat out (excuse the pun!), try the four-course menu in 150 Central Park for $89, where each course is paired with wine. With over 5700 passengers on-board you will need to make a reservation for the most popular restaurants. You can do this on line before you cruise or by using the Royal IQ app on board. The app is very easy to use, the fact that the wifi is excellent (the fastest at sea) probably helps! There is a charge for wifi, a bit steep at $13.95 per day. There are packages available if using numerous devices in the one stateroom, and discounts for pre-booking are available online. I would advise to check these out before you board.

review of Harmony of the Seas

After our meal, we went to the open air aqua show. The setting is remarkable, an open air theatre with the backdrop of the ocean across the horizon. The sun started to set just as the show began – perfection! The modern show featured professional acrobats, divers and synchronised swimmers. There were acrobats walking tightropes above us along with trapeze acts dipping in and out of the water. It was quite exhilarating. We didn’t know what was going to happen next, it really had a WOW factor. That said, when it was all over, I wasn’t sure what to make of it all. It was seriously impressive, but I thought a little disjointed in parts.

review of Harmony of the Seas
Time for a quick night cap in the Royal Promenade before bed. I liked the Rising Tide where the entire bar and all those in it, elevate between the Royal Promenade deck and Central Park. It moves very slowly so it is a lovely experience and you can see what’s happening in both decks. You don’t miss any of the action! We also ordered a drink from the bionic bar were the ‘staff’ are efficient but somewhat lacking in personality!! The kids found it fascinating and although it is a bit gimmicky, you can’t deny the innovation is incredible.

review of Harmony of the Seas

You can’t deny the overall innovation is incredible. It seems that the development of Harmony of the Seas was led by imagination and thankfully not the budget! It’s not only the size of the cruise ship that is mind blowing, it is whats on board. It is colossal and of course not for everyone. If you want non stop action with an excellent choice of dining and entertainment, then I think you will not find better at sea, or even on land for that matter. The attention to detail, like the miniature sun loungers, show how much they care about keeping the younger clientele happy too. So I think the answer to the question: Does one of the largest and most innovative cruise ships at sea live up to the hype? In a word. Absolutely!

 

Like my review of Harmony of the Seas? Why not pin it!

 

Like Royal Caribbean cruises? You might like:

My review of Ovation of the Seas

My review of Independence of the Seas 

10 reasons to choose Royal Caribbean for family cruises.

 

Sarah

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Sir Richard Bransons Ski Lodge, Easter Weekend, All Inclusive €1900

ski lodge

Yes you did read that correctly! How would you like to spend Easter weekend in Sir Richard Branson’s Verbier Lodge?

Not only is it in Verbier one of the most prestigious ski resorts you could visit, but the chalet itself, is stunning! The Swiss resort, situated in the heart of Four Valleys is one of the largest ski resorts in Europe. It’s height provides excellent snow conditions and the ski resort stays open until the beginning of May.

All meals and drinks, even champagne are included in the price. To sweeten the deal, you have a 24 hour driver to bring you anywhere you want to go ( within reason of course!). There is also an indoor heated pool, an outdoor jacuzzi, a gym, spa, actually anything you want you are sure to find here. So if its luxury you are seek – you have found it. Read the review from Conde Nast Traveller or check out this video if you still need convincing!

Flights depart with Aer Lingus on Sunday the 5th of April to Geneva and return on Wednesday the 8th. Accommodation is based on two people sharing a double room.

 

Click here to book flights:

Click here to book the Lodge:

 

All prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to availability. To ensure you receive my weekly best travel deals please click here to sign up to my newsletter.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

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