All posts by Tim

A Look at the New Westin at Denver International Airport

The New Westin at Denver International Airport

by Tim Larison, CLIA Certified Master Cruise Counselor (MCC)

westin diaPhoto courtesy of Starwood Hotels

The new Westin hotel at Denver’s International Airport (DIA) is a wonderful property adjacent to the airport’s main terminal.  As the Colorado director of the National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA) I was able to arrange an exclusive preview for area travel agents of this exciting new addition to the Denver hotel scene.

drawingThe first thing airport visitor’s will notice is the hotel’s unusual shape.  As pictured above in a drawing from Starwood Hotels, the hotel has a U shape in the middle.  Is it supposed to be shaped like a ship?  No, as our Starwood guide Amber explained, the shape is meant to resemble a bird in flight.  The dip in the middle was also requested by the airport so that the control tower would have an unobstructed view over the hotel.

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Karen’s Be Our Guest Breakfast Review

Be Our Guest Breakfast at Disney World

By Karen Waldman, Family Travel Gurus Travel Consultant

be our guestWe enjoyed our breakfast dining experience at Be Our Guest, the Magic Kingdom restaurant designed to represent the castle from Beauty and the Beast. They had good food and the atmosphere was wonderful. There are three dining areas. The big main room is the ballroom. We ate in the more intimate West Wing (the room with the rose). The West Wing is quiet and dark, with a fireplace glowing. The third room, with lots of artwork and a rotating Beast/Belle dancing centerpiece, opened as we were leaving.

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Karen’s Frozen Sing-Along Review

Frozen Sing-Along at Disney World

By Karen Waldman, Family Travel Gurus Travel Consultant

frozen singalongI wasn’t sure what to expect with this relatively-new show, and was pleasantly surprised. The 35-minute show is at the Hyperion Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and currently starts at the top of every hour.

I expected just singing with a roomful of little girls, but there was an entertaining, comical show wrapped around it, in true Disney fashion. The show was basically an overview of the story, with movie clips and singing (with subtitles), and holding it all together. Anna opened the show and introduced the “historians”, who ran the whole show. The historians, especially the guy, were hilarious. There were lots of puns and humor that the older kids and adults would get. It was fun to watch all the girls sing along and know all the words and do the hand gestures. And it was equally fun to watch the dads – some seemed bored, and some were really fascinated watching their little girls. When it was time for “Let It Go”, the man historian said, “And this one is for you, Dads” (who are sick of that song by now). For the final numbers, both Anna and Elsa came on stage, along with other key characters in the movie.

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Anne’s Puerto Vallarta / Vallarta Nayarit Trip Report (December 2015)

Puerto Vallarta/Vallarta Nayarit Trip Report
December, 2015
    by Anne Larison, Family Travel Gurus Travel Consultant

seahorsePhoto courtesy of visitpuertovallarta.com

I had only visited Puerto Vallarta from a cruise ship.  Tim, the twins and I have done a city tour and zip lining in the past.  I was thrilled when given the opportunity to spend a few days in Puerto Vallarta / Vallarta Nayarit with a travel agent group.

mountainsPhoto courtesy of visitpuertovallarta.com

As you can see from the picture above, Puerto Vallarta and Vallarta Nayarit offer water fun on the Banderas Bay and just beyond is the Sierra Madre Mountain range.

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Hidden Beach at Marietas Islands Wildlife Sanctuaries (Anne’s Report – December 2015)

Hidden Beach at Marietas Islands Wildlife Sanctuaries
December, 2015
    by Anne Larison, Family Travel Gurus Travel Consultant

Hidden Beach at Marietas Islands Wildlife Sanctuariesphoto courtesy of Travel Weekly

As part of a recent trip to Mexico, sponsored by Travel Weekly and the Puerto Vallarta & Riviera Nayarit Tourism Boards, I had the opportunity to tour Marietas Islands with a group of travel professionals.  The Marietas Islands are a few miles off the North coast of the Banderas Bay.

As you can see from the picture above and below there is an amazing hidden beach on one of the islands.

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What is Adventures By Disney?

adventures by disneyYou’ve had fun over the years in the Disney theme parks.  There’s a good chance your first cruise was on one of the Disney ships.  You may have even stayed at Disney’s fabulous Hawaii resort – Aulani.  But most Disney fans we talk to have never experienced an Adventures by Disney (ABD) vacation.  I recently met with Linda from Disney to learn more about ABD.

What is Adventures by Disney?

·         On an Adventures by Disney guided group vacation, You’re a traveler & an adventurer, not a tourist. You and your family members of all ages become active participants in incredible stories, experiences and cultures through immersive activities, while your 2 Disney Adventure Guides take care of all the details. There’s truly something for everyone on this adventures!  Including, activities just for our ‘Junior Adventurers’!

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Why book an on site Disney World resort? Disney’s musical answer!

Disney has come out with a fun singing video for why you should stay on site at Disney World (see below)

We agree!  Our first visit to Disney World with our twins (at age 4) was at an offsite resort.  Now there are some very good offsite resorts we can book for you but our initial experience was not at one of those!  After that trip we decided to stay on the Disney World property for all of our subsequent visits and it worked out great!  We especially liked the convenience of taking afternoon breaks back at our Disney World resort with the Disney transportation rather than having to drive offsite.

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10 Things I like at Disneyland not at Disney World

10 Things I like at Disneyland not at Disney World (November 2015)

by Tim Larison, CLIA Certified Master Cruise Counselor (MCC)

tim and anne at disneylandLast week we attended the 2015 Earmarked Conference at Disneyland – for top producing travel agencies selling Disney destinations.  It had been over five years since I’ve been to this original Disney theme park.  While I knew Disneyland was much smaller than Disney World (a destination we also love), I found there were some things at Disneyland I actually liked better!  Here’s my list:

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Anne’s Swim With The Dolphins Experience (October 2015)

Anne’s Swim With The Dolphins Experience
October, 2015
    by Anne Larison, Family Travel Gurus Travel Consultant

dolphin1WOW!
These were the first words that came to me when I found out that I would be swimming with the dolphins on my trip to Mexico.

I was one of a select group of travel agents chosen to visit the Iberostar resorts in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Cozumel Mexico.  I will share more on the resorts in a separate report.  One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to Dolphin Discovery.

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Murder Mystery Dinner Show Review (Freedom of the Seas)

Thanks to our client Chris from Georgia for this review of Royal Caribbean’s Murder Mystery Dinner Show (featured on the Freedom of the Seas and other ships):

The Murder Mystery dinner show was on embarkation night.  Like most land-based mystery dinner show, this one was cheesy and played for laughs.  And succeeds.  The cast is made up of ship singers and dancers, and some of them are much better at singing and dancing than they are at acting.  That was part of the fun, though.  We met in the Star Lounge, where champagne was available, and the characters were all introduced.  The setting was a high school 10 year reunion, and the stereotypical high school types were all there.  We were then shepherded in groups (to keep us from getting lost?  LOL) up to Giovanni’s on deck 11, across the pool deck in 50 mph winds.  The acts of the play take place in between courses of dinner and at the end we all vote on whodunnit and the motive.

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