Sugar Beach, St. Lucia {Agent Review}

By:  Kerri Ness

Let me preface this: I’ve been a lot of places in my life, and seen a lot of things, nothing compared to visual response of Sugar Beach. When I arrived, I was not prepared for what the scenery would hold. I’ve tried to put into words what the topography and ambiance was like, and I keep failing. I keep coming back to the same adjectives; breathtaking, incredible, unreal, stunning. I could go on and on, but I’ll allow the photos to do the talking:

Now, onto the resort. When you arrive at Sugar Beach you are taken to your room, not the front desk, and are greeted by your personal butler. This butler will be at your disposal throughout the duration of your stay. You are given a telephone that reaches him/her directly day and night. Any questions, concerns, things you want to book, are just a dial away. 

There are several room types, and they are scattered throughout the property. Each room has their own hot tub, pool, or plunge pool depending on room location and category. All rooms have view of the Pitons and/or ocean. You can get a Sugar Mill luxury room, deluxe cottage, villa, or deluxe villa. All range in size, cost, view, and pool size. You cannot go wrong with any room type. You get access to every amenity regardless of room type. Due to the topography of St. Lucia rooms are located going up the hills and there is free transportation via car or golf cart for those who do not want to walk. 

Room locations: purple arrow indicates cottages and villas, yellow indicate sugar mill rooms and beach. The property is not quite as expansive as this photo makes it appear. 

There are several restaurants on property as well as room service and pool and beachside service. Overall the food was phenomenal. While the food is costly (cue all-inclusive option), everything was incredibly fresh and made to order. They will also work with you for any allergies or special dietary restrictions. They had a special daily at the restaurants and featured many seafood options. On property there is the following:

  • Cane Bar- sushi
  • The Terrace- breakfast overlooking the Pitons and ocean 
  • Boopas- smoothie bar and snacks 
  • Bonte- beachside dining 
  • Jalousie- Lobster house and burger bar beachside 
  • Saltwood- steakhouse 
  • Room Service/ Beach and pool side service.
  • They also feature several events throughout the week such as burgers on the adult beach, Creole night, and private dining. 

The Rainforest Spa on property has won several awards and is as breathtaking as the surrounding scenery. The spa itself is built up on the cliffs, and each room is its own individual tree house. Services range from massages, to hair and makeup, to various body treatments. Commentary undergarments, robes, slippers, and toiletries are given upon arrival. 

While I would not describe the night life as bustling, there are various musical performers throughout the property nighty.  While we were there they featured a DJ on the beach, blues singer on the patio, steel drum band, and fireworks on Saturday. 

Throughout the day there is no shortage of activities should you want to get up from your lounge chair. The waters surrounding the resort are protected marine habitat so the snorkeling and fishing are first class. You are able to use snorkel gear anytime and snorkel right off the beach. There is a roped off area surrounding the Petite Piton that allowed for some of the best snorkeling I have ever done. The resort also offers night snorkeling to see a totally different habitat than one would during the day. Also on the beach are catamarans, paddle boards, kayaks, and floats to swim out and relax on. You can rent a boat to snorkel throughout the shores of the island as well as a scuba and “snorkel” which is a hybrid of scuba and snorkeling. 

The island itself offers several sights and excursions can be made on property with your butler. St. Lucia is home to an active volcano you can drive across, mud baths, sulfur springs, zip lining, rain forest canopy tours, and much more. 

While the resort does accommodate children, there were mostly adults here. There is an adult only beach as well that is separated by a long pier housing an adult only bar and seating. Sugar Beach has a kids club that features activities around the clock. 

The only negative to Sugar Beach is leaving. But for now, I’ll leave you with a little more eye candy…. 

For more practically perfect tips, you can reach Kerri at


Laissez les bons temps rouler. New Orleans, LA {Agent Review}

By: Caitlin Williams

New Orleans

Tom Robbins once wrote that there are only two places on earth one can be: New Orleans and somewhere ridiculous. My husband and I had been to the crescent city once before, but we wanted to share it with our daughters, and so when I found flights over their spring break on the new low-cost carrier Breeze for $81 per person out of Charleston, I felt like we had to hit the Big Easy, and I am so glad that we did.

We arrived in the evening and went straight to the Pontchartrain Hotel, located in the Garden District right next to a street car stop, where we stayed throughout our trip. The next morning we drove out into Cajun country and took an airboat tour through the marsh. It was beautiful, but also educational. We learned so much about Cajun culture and saw so much natural beauty (and also lots of gators!).

We then went for some real Cajun food at B&C Seafood Riverside Market & Cajun Restaurant. We have several non-seafood eaters in our party, but we were able to plan ahead and make sure that everywhere we ate had non-seafood options as well. My eldest daughter is a seafood lover, and despite all the fine dining we did, she thought her meal at B&C was the best she had on the whole trip. After lunch we toured the Laura Plantation, which gave us a glimpse into the Creole culture of New Orleans. 

Having been bit by the tiki bar bug while in LA, we decided to have dinner at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29, a famous New Orleans tiki bar and restaurant. A good time was had by all.

I should mention that while many people think only of Bourbon Street and overindulgence in alcohol when they think of New Orleans, there is so much more to it than that. I mean, sure, there is that, but there is also music and food and history and culture. New Orleans truly is a magical place whether you are drinking hurricanes or sweet tea. 

The next day we had breakfast at the Streetcar Café, to try their unique take on beignets, which were flakier than the ones you get at the more famous beignet places. They also have a king cake latte that is to die for! After breakfast we took a bike tour of New Orleans provided by Buzz Nola that was a great way to see more of the city. When the bike tour was called short because of windy weather, we took a walk around the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, had lunch at the Napoleon House, and visited the Carousel Bar

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That evening we did one of the things I loved most on our trip, went to see the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. On my husband’s and my first trip to Nola, we loved walking down Frenchman Street and popping into random clubs to watch the live jazz bands that call New Orleans home. Unfortunately, when traveling with kids, that option is out as most of those clubs are 21 and over. However, the Preservation Hall is all ages and also features the very finest jazz musicians in a city that has the greatest jazz musicians in the world. Even if you aren’t a fan of the genre, I would recommend this experience for anyone and everyone. It was life changing!

The next day started off with a visit to a Café Beignet location for (of course) beignets. Then we toured a cemetery with an incredible guide who really made history come alive for all of us. We had lunch at Antoine’s, where a father and daughter waitstaff team gave us a personalized tour of the rooms where Mardi Gras Krewes have their headquarters and where the speakeasy used to be during prohibition. Then it was more beignets at Café Du Monde and a French Quarter ghost and vampire tour.

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On the last day of our trip, we toured the Garden District, had lunch at Turkey and the Wolf and visited the NOLA Brewing Company, where we got to sit on a deck across the street from the Mississippi river to enjoy our pre-flight beer flight.

I believe that New Orleans is one of the great American cities, and everyone should get to experience its unique culture, food, cuisine, music and style. If you would like tips on how to make a trip to The Big Easy . . . easy, please give me a call!

For more practically perfect tips, contact Caitlin at

Welcome to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort {Agent Review}

By: Kerri Ness

Let me begin this post by saying this… as a Disney Travel Professional, I always try to send a wide array of hotels to my clients so that we can better narrow down their wants and likes. Us Disney professionals try and give a variety of both prices and amenities as each family is different. Spoiler alert. I am not perfect. Disney has this dark horse of a resort that often times gets overlooked, including by yours truly. Allow me to introduce Coronado Springs.

This resort is a moderate resort, houses a convention center and a myriad of room types, plenty of eating options, and several pools around the property. Disney recently built the “Grand Destino Tower” that houses both standard rooms, deluxe rooms, as well as club level rooms. This is the only moderate on property that houses club level. The outside buildings, “Casitas”, have various views such as preferred, water, and standard, as well as larger suite like Casitas which offer more luxuries of home. 

  • Casitas emphasize the various terrain and cultures found throughout Mexico – 1,024 guest rooms (981 guest rooms and 43 suites)
    • The Ranchos represent ranch houses of northern Mexico and the American Southwest
    • The Cabanas evoke the look and feel of a small tropical coastal fishing village on the Mexican coast
    • Gran Destino Tower takes its name and design inspiration from the surrealistic Disney animated film Destino
    • Club level- the tower offers club level rooms with access to the lounge which serves food and drink throughout the day.

A look at the rooms in both the tower and casitas. 

The Club level lounge and selections:

Because of the size of this resort there are bus stops throughout the property, complimentary golf cart service for luggage as well as passengers, and a multitude of eating options. Although this resort boasts in size, the grounds are big enough that lines and common areas don’t’ ever feel crowded (I’ve been at this resort twice this year, once during peak times- trust me on this one!). 

Speaking of food. Options range from quick service, a sports bar, a Tapas restaurant with firework views, as well as various bars located throughout the property. Toledo’s has a wonderful lounge adjacent where you can go up without a reservation and watch fireworks at Epcot. 

Overall, Coronado Spring’s is a stunning resort that boasts a huge bang for your buck. With the option of club level, tower rooms, outside rooms, and larger Casitas there is truly something for everyone here. We hope you will give it a try on your next visit!

For more practically perfect tips, contact Kerri at

Wine and Dine Race Weekend 2022 {Agent Review}

By: Caitlin Williams

What happens when the a Disney novice amateur travels with three Disney experts?  An amazing weekend that gave me a unique perspective on the amazing incredible services the Jolly Holiday agents provide to all of their clients.  Let me tell you, these women are masters of navigating all things Disney, and helped facilitate one of the best girls trips I have ever been on!

Several months ago, I committed to join a group of fellow Jolly Holiday agents for the Disney Wine and Dine Race weekend typically held in November of each year.  This was not my first foray into the Disney race weekends, having participated in the 2013 Disney Princess half marathon.

While it was amazing seeing my daughters’ meet characters for the first time on my last race weekend, it was not super enjoyable getting up early by myself, running 13.1 miles, and then dashing into the parks to not miss a thing.  Not to mention I didn’t have a costume!  I knew going into this weekend that I wanted this experience to be different.  Thankfully Anne Marie Wienkamp, Kristin Van Sant, and Lisa Hockenberry were there to guide me and plan a super fun weekend.  While you typically work with one Jolly Holiday agent, I was unbelievably spoiled and had the knowledge and experience of three!

After a few months of planning, Kristin and I flew into the Orlando airport and met Anne Marie at the packet pick up.  While Kristin and I were only running the 10k, Anne Marie was running all 3 races over the course of the weekend, and Lisa was participating in the Genie Challenge.  The Genie Challenge is comprised of running the 10k followed the next morning by running the half marathon.  That means Anne Marie ran 22.4 miles over the course of the weekend, and Lisa ran 19.3.! If these ladies work this hard at running, imagine how hard they will work to give you and your family the best Disney World trip imaginable!

We quickly dropped our bags at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and boarded the monorail for drinks and dinner.  Our first stop was Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa where the yearly gingerbread house was being constructed.  After grabbing drinks at the Enchanted Rose, we headed to dinner at the Grand Floridian Café.

Resort hopping allows you to appreciate all of the intricate details that make each of the Disney resorts special.  It also can allow for a quick break from the parks for a fabulous meal, or adult fun at the themed bars.  Speaking of themed bars, who doesn’t love a tiki bar!?!  Located in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is not to be missed for any cocktail enthusiast.

After one, (okay maybe several), cocktails we hopped back on the monorail for an early bedtime in anticipation of the next day’s activities.  The next morning, we were up bright and early to explore Hollywood Studios, or run a 5k (I’m looking at you Anne Marie).  Anne Marie and Kristin worked in tandem to maximize Genie + and Individual Lightening Lane choices to ensure we were able to ride everything we wanted in the limited time we had in the parks that day. I know that many people are intimidated by the new Genie + system, but these ladies have it down to a science.   From Toy Story Land to Batuu to some fun with Mickey and Minnie, we certainly made the most of our time!

After a quick lunch we hopped over to Epcot to not only take advantage of riding the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind but also to explore the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

We decided to call it an early night again because the next morning was race day!  For most of the Disney races the buses begin running at 3 am, and you are encouraged to be on the buses no later than 4 am.  At the packet pick up you are assigned a corral and the start times are staggered.  This allows the faster runners to be at the front, while the walkers are able to be in the later groups crossing the start line.  The whole atmosphere at a Disney race is like a giant party, from the DJs to the fireworks, to characters along the mile markers, it is one of the most fun race experiences you can have!

I cannot imagine a better group to run 6.2 miles with!  Not to mention we quickly cleaned up and then headed back to Epcot for what might be my favorite ride of the weekend (oh and we rode Guardians again because like I said these ladies are the best Disney planners).  Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is quite possibly the cutest and one of the most fun rides in the parks!  After passing through the replica metro sign and approaching the entrance of the ride, you immediately feel like you are transported not only to Paris but into Remy’s world.

I love Paris, but flying to Orlando to experience its delights is a little better than having to cross the Atlantic!  Not to mention, the artistry and imagination that goes into the rides highlights the magic of Disney.  After a third early bedtime, Anne Marie and Lisa were off to run 13.1 miles while Kristin and I were able to explore the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.  I am not sure if we were just being silly because we were having so much fun or if exhaustion from all the running and dashing through the parks caught up with us, but it certainly made from some entertaining pictures.

After another amazing dinner Citricos we headed back to the hotel before flying home the next day.So now the million-dollar question…why book your next Disney trip with a Jolly Holiday Disney Vacation Planner?  These three women, aside from being wonderful travel companions, ensured that I had a totally effortless and fun filled weekend.  I had a weekend of amazing food, themed bars and restaurants, wonderful accommodations, minimal wait times for rides while riding all the big attractions, some more than once), and a little bit of exercise just for fun.  I felt like a kid at the most magical place on earth.  Aside from that, Jolly Holiday travel planning services cost you (and me) absolutely nothing.  And this shameless plug is not just for the agents mentioned in this post, but for all of the amazing people that I am privileged to work with at Jolly Holiday Vacations.  Whatever your travel dreams might include, one of the Jolly Holiday Vacation Planners are standing by ready to assist!

For more Practically Perfect Tips, contact Caitlin at

Napa Valley and Sonoma 2022 {Agent Review}

By Caitlin Williams

Napa Valley sign

For years I have longed to visit Napa Valley. I was instilled with a love of good wine by my parents. I believe that anything can be appreciated if one takes the time to slow down and pay attention to it, including wine. In the fast-paced world that we live in, there is nothing quite like quieting your mind, swirling a liquid around in a glass, taking a deep inhalation, and then tasting a sip of a good wine. The chance to really immerse myself in that experience is why a trip to Napa Valley has always been a dream of mine.

Unfortunately, the trip there threatened to turn the dream into a nightmare! We were flying from Columbia to Charlotte and then from Charlotte to San Francisco. Well, storms in Charlotte caused that entire airport to essentially shut down for most of the day. We were stuck on the tarmac in Columbia for hours and then had to spend the night in the Charlotte airport. When we first got in touch with our airline’s customer service department, they did not believe that they could get us onto an alternate flight for another 48 hours. This is one of those situations when working with a travel agent becomes so important. Instead of allowing our trip to be derailed, I found a flight from Charlotte to Seattle and then from Seattle to San Francisco that left in just over five hours and made sure that we were on it. Working with an agent doesn’t ensure travel with no issues, but it does mean that you have someone who has experience dealing with airlines/hotels/etc. to advocate on your behalf when those issues inevitably arise.

After all of that, we finally made it to Yountville in the heart of Napa Valley a full day after we had planned. We ended up canceling our wine train ride and our bike tour of Yountville, but we were determined to make the most of the time we still had left. We stayed at Maison Fleurie, one of a group of four boutique hotels in the Napa Valley area, and it was lovely.

Maison Fleurie

We spent the morning walking around Yountville and enjoying its natural beauty.


There are statues along the sidewalk all over the town, grapes are being grown right next to you, and the weather (as it always seems to be in California) is perfect. We then went to RH Wine Vault for our first tasting. It is an incredible historic building and was a wonderful setting for enjoying some local wines.

RH Wine Vault

While I recommend doing both, there are distinct advantages to a tasting room as compared to a visit to a winery. Wineries often specialize in the type of wine that grows best in the soil where they are physically located, and so you may not get to try multiple different types of wines. Also, a particular winery may just not be to your taste, and if that is the case you are out of luck. With a tasting room, if you don’t like one offering you can just move on to the next rather than facing trying four other wines made by the same people with the same sensibility.

Recommended Wines:

After a delicious Mexican lunch at La Calenda, our next stop was a bit outside of Yountville, the Elizabeth Spencer Winery. This stop was almost a hybrid between a tasting room and a vineyard. Elizabeth Spencer doesn’t grow their own grapes, rather they partner with growers and then make their wines in-house using grapes from all over the state. 

Elizabeth Spencer

It was at Elizabeth Spencer that I made one of the great wine discoveries of our trip. If you are familiar with the movie Sideways (which anyone who visits Napa and Sonoma surely is) you likely remember Paul Giamatti’s character throwing a temper tantrum (NSFW language) about the possibility of drinking merlot. One of the wines on Elizabeth’s Spencer’s tasting menu was a merlot and it was delightful. We asked our sommelier about that scene specifically (every place we visited in Napa and Sonoma referred to Bottle Shock repeatedly, so we figured they know Sideways as well) and he said that scene, and the over-production of merlot generally, had given the varietal a bad name for over a decade, which was partly deserved. The way our sommelier described it is that merlot became popular in the 1980’s, and so every vineyard tried their hand at making it because it was selling. The problem with that was that only certain areas and soil types are suited for merlot grapes. The result was millions of gallons of terrible merlot flooding the market. Now that merlot is no longer in fashion the only vineyards growing the grapes are those that have the right climate and soil to do so, and so generally a bottle of merlot you buy in 2022 is going too far surpass what was around during the height of its popularity. Speaking from experience, merlot is unjustly derided and worth giving a shot (please forgive me Mr. Giamatti!).

Recommended Wines:

We had dinner that night at Bottega and then the next morning we checked out of the Maison Fleurie and headed to Sonoma. We checked into another Four Sisters property, the Inn at Sonoma, and walked to Sonoma City Hall to meet the Napa Valley Wine Trolley

The Wine Trolley
Sonoma City Hall

A tour like the wine trolley has two major advantages over being on your own. First, the tour guides are knowledgeable about the area and can tell interesting stories about the region and its history. Secondly, you avoid having to drive after multiple tastings. Typically, wine tastings are not raucous affairs involving mass consumption, but better to be safe than sorry.

Our first winery of the tour was BR Cohn, originally owned by the manager of the Doobie Brothers. It was an absolutely beautiful location and well-worth visiting. 

BR Cohn winery.

Recommended Wines:

The next two stops on the tour were VJB Cellars and the Mayo Family Winery. VJB had a gorgeous location and we were served a delicious lunch. Mayo obviously takes great care in their winemaking and gave a very in-depth presentation as to their process. However, I have no recommended wines to suggest from either of those two visits. 

Overall, the wine trolley was a fun way to spend a day in Sonoma. Knowing his audience, the tour guide did not provide interesting stories about local history and winemakers on the ride back into town but turned the radio up and let the trolley full of people sing along to songs on the radio at the top of their lungs all the way back to town (maybe wine tastings get a little raucous!).

 For our last night in Sonoma, we had dinner at the girl and the fig. Recommended by a friend, it was one of our favorite dining experiences in California. The food, cocktails and wine were all amazing. 

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It may have been cut short by a mini-travel nightmare, but our trip to Napa and Sonoma was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I would not trade for the world. It was so nice to slow down, spend time with my husband, and enjoy good food and wine and beautiful scenery. A whole region dedicated to fine dining and good wine; how could you go wrong?!

If I can help you plan a trip to Napa and Sonoma so that you too can slow down, swirl a liquid around in a glass, take a deep inhalation, and then taste a sip of wine, please contact me.

For more practically perfect tips, contact Caitlin at

Escape to Finest Resort, Playa Mujeres {Agent Review}

By: Kerri Ness

Ahhhhhh, spring break. While anticipating this break every year, it creeps up on your slowly but surely, and if your anything like my family the great where should we go debate sets in quickly. Navigating this “post” (maybe?) COVID world can be difficult. Do we need a test, do we not, is it safe, can we fly; the list goes on. Originally we were supposed to go to the Bahamas but flights were astronomical and we found ourselves quickly changing gears. Enter Mexico. 

Our family set our sights on Finest Resort, Playa Mujeres. From breathtaking architecture, 12 pools, endless eating options, entertainment, and overall 5 star service, this place could not be beat. We did a ‘split’ stay with both club level and non-club level, tried as many restaurants as we could, did all the activities, and came home with only a few sun burnt spots!  

Let’s break down the components of this resort:

Food: the number one concern with any all-inclusive is the food. For anyone who knows me well, you know I LOVE to cook, have over 100 cookbooks, and in general maintain a healthy diet. So trust me with this honest reviews: the food was OUTSTANDING. 

Overall the portions were on the smaller side, but this allows you to try many things and order more if you want! Produce was very fresh as was the seafood. The ask before seating about any allergies or special diets, and every place has a plethora or vegetarian and kids options. 

Room service- available any time, excellent choices, typically took about 35-40 minutes. Highlights: salmon, hummus, salads, Asian noodles.  

Duke’s Lobster House- overlooking the pool, great views, can be windy at night. Food was fresh, more “Americanized” with tacos, fish, pizza, burgers, various deluxe sandwiches 

Dommo- adult only restaurant for Excellence club only- known for the giant tomahawk steak. Appetizers were excellent- this was my least favorite meal here shockingly, but still left content and full! 

The Market- this is the only, and main buffet, offering breakfast-dinner. This place is huge and offers a little bit of everything. You need to take a “tour” before getting what you want as it’s easy to miss some offerings. Hands down the best granola and omelet I’ve ever had!  

Insieme Trattoria- prior to visiting this did not get the best reviews- but we LOVED it, the kids got a salmon burger, I had muscles and salad, and my husband had a specialty pizza. Over the pool, great views. 

Lizo- this was not on our list, but we ended up here based on availability- and it did not disappoint. We all LOVED this place. While this is the Mexican restaurant the menu is divided by regions of the country. Each region is known for various dishes so we were all pleasantly surprised. 

La Cocinita Food Truck- this is open from lunch until late night. The menu is limited but it was fabulous for snacks- service can be a bit slow as there is only one man cooking. 

Legends- doesn’t everyone want to go to Mexico and go to a sports bar haha? I have two boys- we ended up there let’s be honest….. great sports theme, pool table, plenty of TV’s. Menu is very sport bar related- some of the best wings we’ve ever had. 

Seaside- this is for the Excellence club only. There is a small buffet as well as the ability to order from a menu. Everything was prepared to order to expect a bit more of a wait, but it was evident the food was taken up a notch. Pastas, fish, steak, etc. 

Tinto & Tapas- We LOVED everything we had here. We let out waiter choose the dishes for us as they are all small plates meant to be shared. We has no idea what was coming to us, and it was all wonderful! Highlights are the crostini’s, potatoes, and crispy chicken sandwiches. 

Surf & Turf- we divided and conquered here, two of us got seafood and two of us got meat dishes. This is “loosely” set up like a steak house where you add side dishes to your main course. Lobster was fresh! 

Brass/ Le Petit Plaisir- we did not get to try there so if you go let me know! 

Let’s talk rooms! There are many room categories: swim up, private pool, standard room, and two story room with pool on top. Every room has their own mini bar fully stocked, as well as snacks. There is then the option for Excellence Club add on. Every family will have their own preferences but here are my thoughts: 

Swim up- you are open to people walking by and sitting by the pool, you also will have someone above you in a room that can look down at what you do- overall seems to be a lack of privacy. 

Standard room- the rooms are massive as are the bathrooms- if this rooms fit your budget you can’t go wrong. 

Private Pool- you have your own small plunge pool and large area to lay out- you will have a server that comes by for drinks/food, and there is a row of hedges for some privacy. 

Second Story: these rooms are huge. You have your own pool on the roof as well as a sitting area and day bed. This is the room we got and we utilized everything. It was very nice in the afternoons to come back for a break and have some space! 

Excellence Club- the room type various but you can opt to get on in the club level. With this you get a separate check in, upgraded toiletries, two restaurants not for people in the club, as well as two bar/lounges with top shelf liquor and snacks throughout the day. We were able to get Hendrix and Grey Goose drinks! 

Let’s talk amenities/entertainment next! Honestly, we spent a large portion of our time doing…. Quite nothing but sitting and drinking haha…. But there is A LOT to do! 

Kids Club: this ages out at 12, but they run activities all day. There are 7 water slides and features for the children, games, movies, crafts and more! We were able to sign our children up so that they could check themselves in and out. They begged to go daily and spent a couple hours daily- we decided on a meeting point and felt very safe letting them go. 

Nightly Entertainment: Posted daily is the show for the night- these ranged from a magic show to African night to concerts. They start at 9:30 so can be late for some little ones. 

Water Sports: they offer small catamaran for use, we took these out several times and saw plenty of large sea turtles swimming around.  There is also windsurfing and snorkeling, however there are very minimal fish to sea from the shore. You can add on excursions to Isla Mujurues which I highly recommend if your family has time to do.  

Daily Activities: these ranged from bingo, poker, volleyball tournaments, water aerobics, tennis lessons, etc. They post a daily schedule at the front of the resort. 

Gym: there is a personal trainer available and the gym is fully stocked. I was able to visit three times while there with no wait for anything! 

Pools: no shortage here! The main pool is half families, half adults only, with a swim up bar on both sides. Several pools located around the resort that offer various options- all have servers that attend to you round the clock, while some are more private than others. 

Overall, this was a great family resort option. Everyone was happy, well fed, and plenty entertained. I would recommend this resort to groups, intergenerational families and single families traveling.  

For more practically perfect tips, contact Kerri at

Oklahoma is OK! {Agent Review}

by: Caitlin Williams

As stated in the cinematic masterpiece “The Big Lebowski”, sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. Well, when it comes to travel, sometimes you choose your destination, and sometimes your destination chooses you. And Oklahoma City definitely chose my family this year. My husband’s cousin planned her wedding for during the darkest days of the pandemic but had to put off celebrating until just before Christmas of 2021, so our family pointed our wagons west towards Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma City, known colloquially as OKC, is a bustling metropolis with a pioneer heart. With about 630,000 residents, it’s got all the big-city amenities you’d normally find in a state capital – fine dining, intriguing museums and top-notch performing arts – but you can easily become immersed in the city’s Old West heritage via its many cowboy-themed restaurants, shops and activities.

The way I look at it, when you have to travel somewhere for work, family obligations, or any number of reasons, you can do one of two things. You can fly in, attend the event you came for, and then fly home without ever seeing any other part of the place you happened to visit; or you can embrace what life has put in front of you and see what the place you happen be has to offer. You might just be surprised what happens when you take the second option. I was certainly surprised with what I found in OKC.

We stayed at The Skirvin Hotel, a 225-room hotel located in downtown Oklahoma City and the city’s oldest hotel. Comprising three towers of 14 floors in an Art Deco architectural style, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also considered to be one of the most haunted hotels in America:

As the story goes, the hotel’s original owner, W. B. Skirvin, had an affair with a maid named “Effie”, which led to a pregnancy. To protect his reputation and avoid a scandal, Skirvin locked the maid on the 10th floor. The maid became depressed and even after the birth of her child, she was still not let out of her room. She eventually jumped out a window killing herself and the baby, without notice in newspapers. This maid is described as “a woman of loose morals”, and men who have stayed in the hotel have reported being propositioned by a female voice while alone in their rooms. Others claim to have seen the figure of a naked woman with them while taking a shower. One man claimed he was sexually assaulted by an invisible entity during his stay. Over the years, hotel staff say they have seen objects moving by themselves and have heard strange noises at night.

Our family didn’t see any ghosts during our stay; only a gorgeous art-deco style hotel with Christmas decorations that can take your breath away.

And speaking of amazing Christmas decorations, Automobile Alley in OKC is up there with the best decorated places I have ever been.

The day after we arrived we walked around the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which honors the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995.

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The memorial features one empty chair for each of those killed in the bombing to symbolize all of the empty chairs in their loved ones’ homes that they have to live with for the rest of their lives because of that horrific event. Seeing that tribute was particularly moving so close to Christmas.

After that sobering experience, we boarded one of OKC’s streetcars, which are free to ride at this time of year and connect downtown Oklahoma City to Bricktown, Midtown and Automobile Alley

Next, we visited the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, which collects, preserves and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring dynamic educational programs to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of the American West.

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It is a fascinating museum covering a unique topic and has lots of interactive things for younger visitors to do. 

After lunch, we visited Factory Obscura, a “collaborative company creating immersive experiences that awaken wonder, build community, and make the world better.” I am not sure that I can put into words exactly what that visit entailed. You will just have to see for yourself:

I may not be able to put into words what exactly it was, but I can tell you that it was an experience our family will not soon forget!

That evening we attended a wonderful celebration of our family member’s wedding, which was also our daughter’s first experience of being junior bridesmaids (and of seeing real Western line dancing). The next day we spent time with family, went ice skating at the Devon Ice Rink at The Myriad Gardens, and had lunch in Bricktown. 

Then it was time to leave Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, sorry I couldn’t resist) and return home.

OKC might not have been high on my list of must-visit American cities, but it has a charm and uniqueness that were totally worth seeing. I am glad that our family decided to dive into this experience headfirst and make the most of our time in a new place. 

If you have an upcoming trip that you think I might be able to help you make the most of, please contact me and lets see what we can come up with.  

For more Practically Perfect Tips, contact Caitlin at

New York! New York! {Agent Review}

by Caitlin Williams

What do you do on your first family trip to New York City? Go to the top of the Empire State building; take a carriage ride in Central Park; have tea at The Plaza; watch a Broadway show; visit the MOMA, the 9/11 Museum, the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, and the Museum of Natural History maybe? 

How about on a second family trip? More Broadway shows; the top of the One World Observatory, ice skating in Central Park, a tour of the Met perhaps?

Those are all amazing things to do, and I would highly recommend all of them. In fact, I have helped families plan their first trips to New York City recently and loved doing it, but this was our family’s third trip to the city that never sleeps. Are there still new things to see when you have been to NYC that many times? The answer is an emphatic YES!

My husband, daughters, mother, and I were all in New York City for 72 hours this October. During that time, we walked around 23 miles and used almost every form of transportation available, including taxis, Ubers, the subway and a car service.

We stayed at Sohotel, which is considered to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in New York, dating back to as early as 1805. Previous guests include George Washington all the way up to the Spice Girls. It isn’t the Ritz, but it was safe and clean, the staff was friendly and helpful, and it was in a great neighborhood (SoHo). Speaking of which, the neighborhood you stay in is incredibly important when visiting the city. Our family has stayed in Times Square, on the Upper West Side right off Central Park, and now in SoHo. Each location has its advantages and disadvantages, and the neighborhood you should stay in depends a great deal on the activities you want do while you visit.

Upon arrival, my oldest daughter and my mother had lunch at Fraunces Tavern. The location played a prominent role in history before, during, and after the American Revolution. At various points in its history, Fraunces Tavern served as a headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British, and housing federal offices in the Early Republic. 

While those two dined amidst all that history before visiting the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, my husband, youngest daughter and I dropped our bags at the Sohotel and had lunch at Cipriani Downtown, reportedly a favorite hang-out of Kendall Jenner. We unfortunately just missed Ms. Jenner, but the Bellini more than made up for it.

After lunch, my youngest daughter and I went to the fun and picturesque Color Factory. I am pretty certain that the giant ball pit was her favorite part of the entire trip. 

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After a brief rest, a subway ride and a walk through the Gramercy Park neighborhood, we all went out to dinner at one of the highlights of this trip: Hawksmoor. It is located in the former United Charities Building and has one of the best cocktail menus I have ever seen, with food that is out of this world. It was honestly one of those magical dining experiences that come along once in a blue moon, or seemingly on every other corner in New York City.

Our evening ended with another of the trip’s best experiences, seeing “Hadestown” on Broadway (in case you hadn’t noticed, I consider AT LEAST one Broadway play an absolute must on any trip to New York).

I love any Broadway show, but there is something so magical about seeing a performance with an original Broadway cast. Imagine seeing Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth in “Wicked” or Josh Gad in “The Book of Mormon” or Lin-Manuel Miranda play Hamilton in person and not just streaming on Disney+! I can’t claim to have seen any of those, but I will forever be able to brag that I saw Tony award winner André De Shields play Hermes in “Hadestown.” There is nothing wrong with “Phantom” or “The Lion King” or “Chicago” or any of the other long-running shows – and in fact some of them are sublime – but taking a chance on seeing the original cast of a hot new show is worth considering.

The next morning we walked through Greenwich Village briefly (inspiring my youngest daughter to guess that every building we passed must have been where “Friends” was set), stopped in Washington Square Park (featured, among dozens of other NYC locations, in “When Harry Met Sally”), and walked around the campus of NYU. Then it was time for the Best of Brooklyn Food Tour. Manhattan is great, but every hipster (or HBO’s “Girls” fan) knows that Brooklyn is the place to be! 

This tour was amazing. We tried meatballs, falafel, pierogis, and pizza, amongst other things. We also got to learn a lot about this historic and cool borough. Food tours are quickly becoming one of our family’s favorite things to do on vacation.

Then, to walk off all of those calories from the food tour, we walked back into Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge.

After the long walk, my mom and daughters wanted to rest, so my husband and I had a quick date at Shoo Shoo Nolita, a restaurant inspired by the bohemian cafe culture of Tel Aviv. 

Then we reunited with the rest of our party to walk through Little Italy and have dinner at Il Cortile. William Shatner ate there right before his Blue Origin flight and the cast of “The Sopranos” used to hang out there, with several shots of it having been used in the show.

On the final day of our whirlwind journey, we visited one of the newest parks in New York City: Little Island. The park itself is a work of art, and it is located at the sight of the departures of famous ships like the Titanic and the Lusitania. 

After breakfast at Chelsea Market, we visited the Whitney Museum of Art and took in an exhibit of the works of Jasper Johns. There was something special about visiting an entire exhibit dedicated to the works of a fellow South Carolinian. 

Next were two more highlights of the trip (how many highlights are allowed in one trip?) lunch at Pastis and a walk on the High Line, a public park built on a historic elevated rail line full of art and nature and offering a view of the City you can’t get anywhere else. 

We then took the subway to Central Park, walked by Madison Square Garden, 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue and Park Avenue, and then picked up our bags and headed to the airport to fly home.

If that sounds like a lot, it was! In 72 hours, we visited the Bowery, Soho, the Financial District, Gramercy Park, the Theater District, Greenwich Village, Williamsburg, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Bushwick, Carroll Gardens, Greenpoint, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Meatpacking District, Chelsea, & Midtown. We absolutely tried to soak up as much of New York City as we could in a long weekend. 

There is so much to do and see in New York City. It is truly – as the Schuyler sisters sing in “Hamilton” – the greatest city in the world. Whether you are going there for the first time, or the hundredth, I would love to help you make the most of your trip with tips and tricks I have learned on my trips to the city so nice they named it twice. Feel free to reach out and let’s create your New York City adventure together.

Enchantment Nighttime Show – Dessert Party “Enchanting Extras” {Agent Review}

By: Anne Marie Wienkamp

DisneyWorld announced in September that the Fireworks Dessert Parties in Magic Kingdom would be returning in time for the 50th Anniversary and for the new fireworks nighttime show Enchantment. My family has always been huge fans of the dessert parties so we were anxious to give it a try for our October trip. 

The Dessert Parties are booked through Dining and are considered an “Enchanting Extra” on the My Disney Experience website. It can be found listed under either category. Dessert Parties are a pre-paid experience meaning guests need to pay for the party when they book their reservations. There are three different dessert party options with different price points. 

My family’s favorite has always been the pre party which is now called “Disney Enchantment Pre-Party.” Guests check in at the Tomorrowland Terrace 90 minutes before the fireworks for drinks, desserts and snacks. Before the fireworks, guests move to the “grassy hub” to view the fireworks. The cost for this option is $99 for adults and $59 (ages 3-9). 

The second option is the “Disney Enchantment After-Party” which is similar to the Pre-Party but these guests enjoy their treats after the fireworks. They check in at Tomorrowland Terrace for their armband 60 minutes before the fireworks and then are escorted to the “grassy hub” and return to Tomorrowland Terrace after the fireworks. This option is priced the same as the Pre-Party. A benefit of this party is you miss the crazy exodus of guests right after the fireworks end. 

The third option is “Disney Enchantment Treats and Seats’ ‘ which offers the same offering of drinks and treats but guests remain at Tomorrowland Terrace and watch the fireworks from a seating area at Tomorrowland Terrace. The price for this party is $114 for adults and $69 (ages 3-9) Guests check in 60 minutes before the show and are escorted to an assigned, reserved seat. Guests do not select their seat so getting there early is key for a good view. 

We arrived at the Disney Enchantment Pre-Party exactly 90 minutes before Enchantment began. We elected to not make any dinner plans to be able to fully enjoy all the dessert and treat offerings. There were 3 check in stands depending on which party you booked so we made our way to the Pre-party stand. 

Guests who are over 21 are given a different bracelet for alcoholic beverages. It’s worth noting that the dessert parties for Happily Ever After did not include adult beverages so this is a change and is reflected in the higher price point for the party, 

Food and Drinks

There is a large variety of drinks and treats offered at the party. Drinks included Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, the beloved POG juice, tea (iced and hot,) milk, coffee (regular and decaf), hot water and iced water with lemon. There is also a variety of beers, wines and sparkling wines for adults. 

We stuck to the non alcoholic beverages. The kids were very happy that the POG juice was back. (Rumor is that Disney had a supply issue for a few months) and I am always a fan of coffee. Plenty of options for the whole family. 

Dessert offerings included mini chocolate silk pie, chilling chamber pop (which is a push pop with graham crackers, vanilla crumbs and caramel buttercream), mini tres leche cakes, mini oreo cheesecake mousse (very similar to the “gray stuff”), butterscotch pudding, firehouse donut holes, assortment of fruit, cheese and crackers and my kids’ favorite, chocolate covered strawberries decorated with the 50th anniversary logo. One disappointment for me was there were not a lot of savory options. Past parties offered crudite with dips, cheese and crackers (included at this party), and the famous cheeseburger spring rolls. While it is vacation and dessert for dinner sounds indulgent, guests may consider getting something small from a quick service if they would like something more substantial for dinner. Our favorites were the strawberries, tres leche mini cakes, the oreo cheesecake mousse and the POG juice. 

The Fireworks

The real reason we like the dessert party is the views of the fireworks. We enjoy the convenience of not lining up an hour before the fireworks in the crowd in front of the castle jostling for a place. It’s a nice treat to view the show from the special viewing area that comes with the dessert party. 

As mentioned, there are two viewing areas: the grassy hub and seating at Tomorrowland Terrace. What are the biggest differences? The grassy hub is the gated off area in front of The Plaza Restaurant. The Seats and Treats viewing area is the lower level of the Tomorrowland Terrace eatery. 

(the Grassy Hub)

(Tomorrowland Terrace lower level seating)

We choose the party with the grassy hub because we like to see the projections on the castle from the central location. We can usually sit down in the artificial turf when we head over to the hub but once the fireworks start, everyone stands up. The crowds in the hub are so noticeably lower than the surrounding areas where the non dessert guests are waiting. 

                                      (the crowd in the grassy hub & the crowd outside the grassy hub)

Seats and Treats offers a more relaxing atmosphere for the fireworks with a table and chairs. You can enjoy your snacks and drinks while you watch the fireworks. Who can argue with a glass of wine while watching such an amazing nighttime show. The drawback is that you do not get a “straight on” view of the castle so you can’t see all the projections as well as you could from the grassy hub. It comes down to personal preference.

View from Tomorrowland Terrace

(photo from Disney Food Blog)

Regardless of which option you choose, the special seating offers great views of the Enchantment Nighttime show but it comes at a hefty price tag. For us, we do it for special occasions when we really want a great view of the Fireworks. This trip was our first time to see the new Enchantment and we really wanted to take it all in. We will probably not indulge in a dessert party again for a while and maybe try a different special event. Maybe we will try the Harmonious Dinner Packages at either Rose and Crown or Spice Road Table in Epcot. If either the dessert parties or the Epcot dinner packages sound enticing to you, contact one of our Jolly Holiday Agents to add it to your next Disney adventure. 

(views from the grassy hub during the fireworks)

The Atlantis- Paradise Island, Nassau {Agent Review}

by: Kerri Ness

I recently found myself in a highly unique situation of having an entire week…….. with no kids.  As anyone who is a parent knows, we’ve all basically been glued to our family since March of 2020. To say the least this was a major treat. Rather than throw away toys while they aren’t looking, or sleep in, or organize the house, I hopped on a plane with my husband and set off for The Bahamas! 

I know what you’re thinking, it’s COVID, can we really just plan something spur of the moment anymore, let alone to another country? My answer, of course! The Bahamas requires a travel visa right now, and either proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test to enter. This process was incredibly streamlined and easy. The Bahamas Travel Ministry has their own website which has a $40 fee. You simply upload your documents. You will get a QR code almost immediately to show at customs. Note- the Atlantis does require masks when walking around property. 

We stayed at the Atlantis, in the Cove, as it was affordable, easy to get to, and we knew there would be enough activities. The Atlantis is comprised of several resorts all with one. Each hotel tower has something different to offer, has a variance of price ranges, as well as theme. The Cove features large suits with plenty of room, a kitchenette, and an adult’s only pool. Children can stay at The Cove, but the pool specific to this hotel is for adults only. The Royal Towers are those featured on most advertisements and are standard hotel rooms. The Reef is a family friendly hotel featuring rooms with full kitchens and separate sleeping areas. The Harborside and Beach Towers are more affordable options for families. 

The Cove, large rooms featuring a separate living area, and large bath

Upon entry into The Cove, fish ponds, stunning architecture

View from the room 

The Atlantis is a family friendly resort, and although we didn’t take our children on this trip, we made sure to check everything out. There is a lot to do here. There are several pools around property, a child friendly water park, larger slides and family slides, a lazy river, snorkeling, as well swimming with dolphins and various marine life. There is a of course the expansive beach, casino, kids club, and various games and entertainment. The pools and water parks are free to guest staying on property as well as The Dig which features and underwater view of the Marine Life- fun to walk through and see everything. While we spent most of our time either on the beach or at the adult’s pool, we walked around to every pool and they are amazingly themed and each one different. 

We spent each morning snorkeling right off the beach. In lue of paying for snorkeling we brought our own masks. While Atlantis has many snorkeling excursions, we saw plenty of marine life including sea turtles, fish of all shapes and sizes, barracuda, sea urchins, and starfish. 

The water park is very well monitored, but those staying off property as well as coming in via cruise ships can access the park for a fee. There were several guests not staying on the property using the water park. Overall the lines moved quickly. The lazy river was hands down, the best one I’ve ever been on.

Small child splash zone/slides

One of many entries into the lazy river

Lazy River

Part of The Dig, Atlantis’s aquarium 

Entry into one the beaches

Adult only pool

Mayan Pool

We made dinner reservations prior to arrival, as not everything was open yet. We found all the food to be excellent everywhere we went. Because you are not on the mainland however, food and drinks were pricy. Tip and tax are automatically built in so be aware of this. The Atlantis, however, does not monitor coolers, drink cups, etc. so you can easily stop at a store on the way in and bring and of your own provisions in. We found all the produce to be extremely fresh, as was the seafood. Atlantis offers a variety of options for food from your basic burgers/nachos/hot dogs, to famed Nobu, Italian, a steakhouse, Chinese, etc. 

Lobster Quesadilla, Chopper Salad with fresh caught Grouper, Yellowtail and Jalapeno, dirty martini 

Aside from the beach activities, we were also able to enjoy the Casino nightly. I would not say this area is kids free at night, but The Atlantis offers a kids club until 1:00AM. There are several lounges with entertainment in the Casino as well as nightly offering throughout the resort, such as street parties, food festivals, and music. Overall the resort really quitted down when the sun went down. 

Overall, as an adult only trip we highly enjoyed ourselves. There was plenty to do to keep us busy. We both commented throughout our stay that we would bring the kids, and in fact can’t wait to do so.