I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee all around the world. This is a blog about travel, expat life and our adventures living an international lifestyle, with two kids and a dog.

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

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Posts by Category: Hotels

Andrea October 4, 2016 posted by

Enchanting Luxury at Hacienda Petac, Yucatan Mexico

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Hacienda Petac, Yucatan Mexico

As the taxi pulled through the gate and slowly drove down the long driveway, my eyes lit up and my mouth fell open when I saw all of these vibrant fall colors welcoming me.  I had arrived at Hacienda Petac and for a moment I could have sworn we were driving into a beautiful painting hanging in an art gallery. I was already in LOVE with Hacienda Petac before I even set foot on the ground. This feeling of warmth and surprise stayed with me over the next few days, and only started to fade when I was back in that taxi and he slowly pulled me away.

Hacienda Petac is a five-star luxury estate just outside of Merida, Mexico in the Yucatan peninsula. This magnificently restored hacienda sits on 250 acres of beautifully maintained land with enchanting gardens, lush landscaping, tropical plants, exotic flowers and gorgeous trees. It is a historical oasis that offers an extraordinary experience for all of your senses. The hacienda is a luxury vacation rental for groups, and can only be rented in its entirety. It has 7  bedrooms and can sleep up to 14 people making it the ideal location for large family vacations, intimate retreats and special occasions.

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As I explored the grounds when we first arrived, I made my way to the back of the hacienda and saw this rustic archway from a distance. As I walked closer I began to shrink but my heart began to swell and tears came to the surface of my eyes. I caught my breathe and took a few minutes to soak in the magic of where I was standing. Moments like this are a true gift and fill me with such joy. It also let’s me know I am somewhere truly special.

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Historic Hacienda

Hacienda Petac was a working hacienda from the mid 1800’s to 1974. First as a sugar plantation then as a henequen (hemp) plantation. The current owners bought the estate back in 2000, and the renovations and restorations took over three years to complete and then opened for guests in 2004. The hacienda is usually only rented for a week at a time and is often used for weddings and large events, but they do have a few girls weekend getaway specials!

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Hacienda Petac Amenities

The property has a relaxing pool area and the staff is on hand to provide you with towels, beverages or light snacks as you relax poolside. There is also a small luxury spa offering a variety of services, a small gym and a large jacuzzi outside with an outdoor sitting area for relaxing. On the other side of the property there is a sophisticated game room with large leather chairs, a card table and pool table. This room looks like a classic cigar room where the men might retreat to after dinner for drinks, that being said, it is also very kid friendly and has many board games for the entire family to enjoy.

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Photo by Keryn Means, walkingontravels.com 

When I took a dip in the pool late one afternoon I asked for some coffee. I thought she might have put it on the table near the lounge chairs but she delivered it to me right as I swam up to the side of the pool. If you know me, you know I love coffee, and well, having it delivered to me poolside in a beautiful coffee cup and saucer was just dreamy!

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Hacienda Rooms

Each bedroom is very spacious and has an ensuite luxury bathroom.All guest rooms are furnished in their own unique style but come with all the modern amenities you would expect to find. There is also a relaxing patio area just outside the rooms and they will ask you what time you would like your coffee delivered to the patio each morning.

My room was in the building that was an addition to the original building and a bit more modern but still very true to the typical hacienda style of the rest of the property. This particular building has two bedrooms with a fantastic tv/entertainment room in the middle that separates them. My room had a large king bed while the other room has two queens beds, which makes for a great area for those traveling with children, I could easily see this being the kids wing if traveling with multiple families.

They provide laundry service daily and it was as if little fairies had come into my room each time I left. Taking away my laundry and towels, putting away my toiletries and organizing any other items that were left out. They would decorate my bathroom with fresh flowers, and stepping out of the shower onto flower petals was just another special treat.

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Exquisite Outdoor Dining

The Hacienda is a full-cater estate with an excellent staff that prepares all of your meals. The menu is filled with regional Mexican cuisine that includes traditional Mayan flavors. For every meal we sat down at a table that was carefully decorated with colorful dishes and fresh flowers picked right from the gardens. I thought that they might have done this just for our very first breakfast to really impress and welcome us, but they did a different presentation and set up for every meal. We also asked if they were doing it for us because we were a group of writers, but no – this is the standard and they do this for all of their guests. They assured us we were being given the exact same experience as anyone who stays at Hacienda Petac.

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hacienda-petac-cooking-classes

Cooking Class & Cocktail Creations

While lounging by the pool was nice, we also had the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get in the kitchen! But before I get into the food, did you see the blue tiles in the kitchen!!? Fabulous. Every inch of this place is designed and styled to perfection. Our cooking class was taught by the hacienda’s incredible house manager Colleen and two of her lovely staff members. Some of these women have worked on the property for 13 years. The entire staff is like family and takes pride in bringing the traditions of the Mayan culture to life here at the hacienda.

We learned to make the traditional Yucatan dish, Panuchos, bean-filled tortillas that were then fried, (we made the tortillas and stuffed them) then layered with lettuce, cabbage, and chipotle shredded chicken and topped with slices of cucumber, tomato, onions and avocado. This was an entire group effort and one of my absolute favorite things we did, says the person who does not cook! We also mixed up two cocktails, the spicy Hacendado and the refreshing Paloma. Cooking classes are not included in your stay but can easily be arranged.

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Excursions & Extra Experiences

Excursions can easily be arranged through Hacienda Petac. The hacienda is located about 30 minutes from the colonial town of Merida. Merida has many restaurants, art galleries, shopping and is a nice place to stroll around for the afternoon and early evening. Other popular activities in this area are visiting the Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza or Uxmal as well as taking a swim in one of the many cenotes (a natural swimming hole) that this area is very well known for. You can also go on a guided bike tour and kayak through the mangroves.

As I mentioned, the hacienda has an incredible house manager, Colleen who handles all the details of your stay. She can help you create your itinerary, set up excursions and handles any special requests for your group. She speaks Spanish fluently, is a wealth of knowledge not only about the hacienda but Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula. She is one of the main reasons our stay was so flawless. She makes you feel like family from the moment you arrive until the moment you depart.

On the last night of our stay Colleen had us serenaded by some of the most famous musicians in the Yucatan, Los Tres Yucatecos. This trio has been playing together for more than 30 years and it was the perfect way to end our unforgettable stay at Hacienda Petac.

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Staying at Hacienda Petac was an extraordinary travel experience that touched on everything from luxury, service, culture, history, style, taste, relaxation, and nature. It was honestly one of the most memorable places I have ever stayed, truly a dream. If you are planning your epic 40th Birthday party, a family reunion, a special anniversary, girls getaway or an intimate retreat and want to be blown away, then this is the place for you!

As the taxi slowly started to pull away, I looked out the back window, waved to my friends and silently said to myself, I’ll be back someday.

For more information visit Hacienda Petac
Are you following me on Instagram, I’d love it if you did!

Disclosure: This was a full media stay for a travel writer / influencer trip.

Enchanting Luxury at Hacienda Petac, Yucatan Mexico
Costa Rica June 17, 2016 posted by

The Harmony Hotel, Nosara Costa Rica

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I’m starting to realize that I really love hotels. Like, really LOVE them. And I’m not just talking about your average run-of-the-mill hotel, but hotels that have a purpose, a clear mission and a distinct style. Hotels that create an unforgettable experience from the moment you set foot on their property.

Hotels like The Harmony Hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica.

A few weeks ago my friend Debbie and I packed an overnight bag and headed down to Nosara for a last minute girls getaway. Some of our friends were telling us how amazing The Harmony Hotel was and it sounded dreamy – so we had to see it for ourselves!

Nosara Costa Rica Hotels The Harmony Hotel

The moment we walked up to the entrance, I stopped to gasp (and take a photo) of the tall palm trees and lush plants with adorable aqua light fixtures hanging down over a lounge and what appeared to be the bar area. {oh… this is gonna be good!}

As we walked up to the front desk we were greeted with a glass of refreshing Lemon Grass Ginger Iced Tea, I drank it and immediately asked for another. That tea was incredible, I can literally smell that tea as I type this. The two hour drive down to Nosara was already well worth it, just for the delicious tea.

Next to the front desk was a beautifully tiled wall with a simple facet, and a table of glasses for guests to help themselves to some water.  No bottled water was offered to us, you could simply fill up a cup or fill your own water bottle from this facet. Just one of the many eco-friendly features that this hotel prides itself on. Most people might not even notice this detail, but I notice all of these things, because those are the things that sets them apart from those run-0f-the-mill hotels.

The Harmony Hotel is located on Playa Guiones in the popular surf  town of Nosara, Costa Rica and was named one of the 20 Best Beach towns by National Geographic. In fact, the owners met while surfing in Nosara! The couple opened The Harmony Hotel in 2004.

For every surfer that comes to Nosara there is a yogi visiting as well. The Nosara Yoga Institute brings in thousands of students every year to attend their yoga teacher trainings. The atmosphere in Nosara is just dripping with tranquility. So between all the surfers and yoga students – this place is crawling with some pretty amazing beach bodies!

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The Harmony Hotel has 10 standard rooms that surround the pool area and 13 one-bedroom bungalows scattered throughout the rest of the property. They all have a generous outdoor patio space with a sitting area, hammock and an outdoor shower. They also have regular sized (and refillable) soap and shampoo containers in the bathrooms – just another small thing that I appreciate. I can’t stand those little bathroom bottles, not only are they annoying but SO wasteful.

You can pick up a new book in their beautiful bookstore filled with positive books to help refresh your mind or spark your soul. They also have a small selection of kids books as well as unique gift items, jewelry, yoga mats and accessories.

Under a gigantic palapa on your way to and from the spa and yoga studio you’ll find the Juice Bar, that serves all natural smoothies, coffee, cappuccinos, baked goods and healthy snacks. This was definitely one of my favorite spots and I highly recommend having one of the bliss balls!

Did I mention that they use bamboo straws? The Harmony Hotel received a five-leaf rating from Costa Rica’s prestigious Certificate for Sustainable Tourism (CST) and are dedicated to sustainability from the organic food they use in the kitchen to the all-natural biodegradable bath products they use in their bathrooms.

“With our commitment to be as sustainable as possible, it only made sense to grow what we eat. Our field-to-table project has been incredibly rewarding: twenty-five percent of the foods we now serve at our Juice Bar are sourced from our farm, and a growing-percentage of the items offered in our restaurant and bar.”

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Not only is the yoga studio beautiful but the grounds around it are equally as stunning. They offer a variety of yoga classes to guests daily and you are given one complimentary class with your stay. Every Sunday afternoon they offer a free afternoon class that is open to the community.

The Harmony Hotel is a short walk to the beach and you can also use their bikes to get around town. They can organize surf lessons, for beginners and people of all ages. Other activities include, horseback riding, zip lining, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, and sea turtle excursions.

I cannot gush about this hotel enough. Needless to say, it was very hard to leave and I’m now trying to find an excuse to go back…

HarmonyNosara.com

This was not a media stay and no discount was given.

The Harmony Hotel Nosara Costa Rica Wanderljust Living Hotels

The Harmony Hotel Pool Nosara Costa Rica Hotels Wanderlust Living

The Harmony Hotel Nosara Costa Rica Hotels

 

The Harmony Hotel, Nosara Costa Rica
Hotels July 9, 2015 posted by

Rustic beauty at La Carolina Lodge

La Carolina Lodge Natural Jacuzzi and River Wanderlust Living

Unplug at La Carolina Lodge

If you’re traveling to Costa Rica and looking for a unique place to stay, you should definitely consider La Carolina Lodge. I’m going to try to describe this magical place to the best of my ability, but if my words fail me, hopefully my pictures will help paint the picture.

This is not your typical hotel or resort. There’s no front desk, nobody will take your bags or hand you a welcome cocktail. This resort is rustic in all the right ways — you’ll take your own bags to your room and you may even go the whole weekend without a wi-fi signal. (Don’t panic. They do have wi-fi, but sometimes it can be spotty.)

This is a place to unplug people.

Put down the cell phone. Your Instagram post can wait a day or two. Be in the moment. Take a deep breath and enjoy a little slice of paradise. One of the main reasons why La Carolina Lodge is so special is because it’s a bit off the grid. If you cannot be disconnected for 48-hours then please stop reading here and head to the closest all-inclusive resort you can find.

La Carolina Lodge Cabinas Costa Rica Hotels Family Travel

La Carolina Lodge Grounds and Cabins in Costa Rica from Wanderlust Living

Located in the Guanacaste region, this 170-acre ranch is an oasis of pure Costa Rican beauty. La Carolina Lodge is located very close to the Tenorio Volcano National Park and the Rio Celeste Waterfall. If hiking the Rio Celeste waterfall is on your list of things to do and see, then this is a great place to stay because you’ll be nearby.

The cabins at the resort are very basic and there is very little electricity. Your cabin will have a lamp or two, but that is about it. There is running water, fully operational bathrooms and showers, of course, but this is a bit more like camping than staying at a traditional resort. But do not let that deter you — La Carolina Lodge is an incredible experience for those looking for a truly authentic Costa Rican experience.  Beyond the setting, the staff at La Carolina Lodge have all been here for years — this is their home and they treat you as honored guests.

It is cooler in this area of the country and it will probably rain a little, depending on what time of year you come, so bring a pair of pants and a light jacket. If you are heading to hike the Rio Celeste Waterfall, be sure to bring a pair of closed-toe hiking shoes or an old pair of tennis shoes that can get muddy. La Carolina Lodge offers rain boots for their guests, so if you forget to bring something (like I did), you can wear a pair of their knee-high English wellies.

La Carolina Lodge rain boots

La Carolina Lodge Cabinas Costa Rica Wanderlut Living
One of the small cabins at La Carolina Lodge

La Carolina Lodge Costa Rica Large Cabin for a group Wanderlust Living
Large cabin that sleeps up to 12 people

La Carolina Lodge Large Cabin with private jacuzzi Costa Rica Wanderlust Living

Private hot tub in the large cabin

LA Carolina Lodge Hammock
Hammock for napping

La Carolina Lodge Traditional Costa Rican Food Lunch
Typical Costa Rican meal of rice and beans, fish and salads. Note: If you have special dietary restrictions you will need to talk to them ahead of time or plan on bringing some of your own snacks and food.

La Carolina Lodge Costa Rica Fireplace Lobby
The hotel lobby

La Carolina Lodge Dinner by Candelight Costa Rica Hotels
Family-style dinner by candlelight

La Carolina Lodge Costa Rica Room Accomodations

La Carolina Loadge Natural Jacuzzi and River Wanderlust Living

La Carolina Lodge River

The sound of a roaring rushing river and the natural heated hot tub —not sure I need to say more!

La Carolina Lodge by Candelight Costa Rica Wanderlust Living
At dusk, while you are soaking in the hot tub, they light the walkways by candlelight.

La Carolina Lodge Horseback Riding Costa Rica
We went for an hour horseback ride and it felt like I was riding through an enchanting forest inside the pages of a storybook. The best horseback riding experience for me ever!

La Carolina Lodge 170 Acres in Costa Rica Farm and Hotel
There are even cows for you or your kids to milk!

Favorites from the locals

Many expats that live in Costa Rica live at the beach where it is very hot, so escaping the heat and heading inland is very refreshing. Everyone who lives here knows about La Carolina Lodge and it is an absolute favorite among the locals. In fact, my daughter was lucky enough to go to La Carolina Lodge on a class field trip!  La Paz Community School has been bringing the 5th grade class here for an educational overnight for the past 7 years. It’s a special field trip that all the students and teachers look forward to. My daughter came back and could not stop talking about this trip!

Staying at La Carolina Lodge is a unique experience. I realize this may not be for everyone, but this is definately the place to stay if you want to be immersed in the natural beauty and culture of Costa Rica.

Did I mentioned I LOVED it here!?

Wondering how to book?  info@lacarolinalodge.com

I went to La Carolina Lodge on a La Paz Moms Group overnight. This was not a media stay.

Rustic beauty at La Carolina Lodge
Costa Rica June 26, 2015 posted by

Luxury spa in Costa Rica: Los Altos de Eros

Los Altos de Eros

Luxury Spa in Costa Rica

While I was laying naked on a table at Los Alto de Eros in Costa Rica being drizzled with chocolate, I realized that this might literally be the definition of “self seduction”.  I thought about licking myself,  twice, but I refrained. It will now be the one thing that I regret most in life. The aroma of chocolate was highly intoxicating, the rain was pouring down all around me and the chill in the air is the only thing that kept me from falling into a deep coma. The Chocolate Dream body scrub at Los Altos de Eros spa is just as described, a chocolate dream.

Chocolate Dream Body Scrub Los Altos de Eros

Chocolate Sugar Scrub Los Altos

Los Altos de Eros Luxury Spa

Los Altos de Eros is an award winning luxury spa in Costa Rica. The meaning of the name is  “height of passion.” I heard that it was the #1 spa in Costa Rica, which only meant it was mandatory that I go. The location is off the beaten path, and you need to know where you are going or have really good directions.  There is only a small sign that will point you down a dirt road – blink and you might miss it. As with most things in Costa Rica, if they’re a little harder to get to, it only means they’re worth it.

As soon as you park your car and set foot on the property, the staff  welcomes  you as personal guests of their home. Much of the staff has been here since the spa opened over ten years ago. The design of this luxury spa and boutique hotel is more like a large private home than a typical hotel. There is no front desk, they are well aware that you will be arriving.  They greet you and simply escort you to your room.  As you enter you walk through the open floor plan of the kitchen, dining room and living room, which then leads you out to the pool.  The blue water welcomes you and and the beauty of Costa Rica instantly surrounds you.

All of the rooms are around the pool and even though there may be other guests staying here, it feels very private and secluded.  They only have six rooms available and there are no kids allowed at Los Altos de Eros.
Los Altos de Eros spa jacuzzi Costa Rica

Los Altos de Eros Spa Area Costa Rica

A Perfect Spa Day

My husband and I were there to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary. Once we settled into our room we were offered breakfast before our spa day began at 9:00am. Anyone can come to Los Altos de Eros for their popular Spa Day, which consists of three treatments and a gourmet spa lunch. The cost is $250 and includes transportation from the Tamarindo area.

Los Altos de Eros spa room in Costa Rica

We were escorted down to the spa and began our day with a 90 minute couples massage. The spa area has a rushing waterfall, hot tub, private shower, two bathrooms and a small boutique. The five treatment rooms are private but open to a beautiful view and fresh air of a lush green valley. After our massages we were able to spend some time in the jacuzzi before my next treatment which was a facial and then my Chocolate Dream body scrub.

Los Altos de Eros Spa Lunch Costa Rica Wanderlust Living

Once my treatments were finished the spa lunch was brought down to this area where we ate right from our lounge chairs. The spa lunch was one of the best Spa lunches I’ve ever had. Fresh tuna and chicken skewers, delicious ceviche, pasta salad and a mixed green salad.

Los Altos de Eros Luxury Inn and Spa Costa Rica

Award winning Los Altos de Eros

Los Altos de Eros has recently been given a  TripAdvisor Hall of Fame Award for having received their Certificate of Excellence Award five years in a row. It has also won more International awards on TripAdvisor than any other hotel in the world! It also tops the best spa lists for Costa Rica and Central America.

Los Altos de Eros is for Sale!

This exceptional piece of property, luxury home and award winning spa is on the market and looking for a new owner!  That’s right, Los Altos de Eros is for sale. You can live here or buy a uber successful business in Costa Rica. Talk about living the dream.

For more information you can visit the website for Los Altos de Eros and contact Kim & Randy Toltz with Coldwell Banker randy@cbbeach.com

If you would like to book a Spa Day or make a reservation you can visit The LADE website.

Los Altos de Eros Luxury Spa in Costa Rica

 

 

Disclosure: I was given a media stay for the purpose of experiencing Los Altos de Eros. All my thoughts and opinions are my own. I highly recommend it.

Luxury spa in Costa Rica: Los Altos de Eros
Hotels June 12, 2015 posted by

Two great hotels in Havana Cuba!

Booking Hotels in Cuba

When looking for hotels in Havana Cuba it can be a little more difficult then you are used to if you are American. Right now, you can not book through a US booking agency like Hotels.com or Expedia, You will need to either book through a European booking agency online, through a tour company or you may need to pick up the phone and call the hotels directly.

Booking a hotel room in Cuba as a family can also be challenging. The hotels in Cuba do not allow more than three persons to a room, therefore you need to book two rooms for a family of four or if you call the hotel, they may have a suite as an available option. Most rooms have two twin or full size beds so sharing these beds with older children might be a little tight anyways.

After doing some initial research online I stumbled upon Hotel Florida and we ended up calling and speaking to the manager, Jose. He told us he had a family suite available at the other hotel he manages which was right next door, Hotel Marques Prado de Ameno. These two beautiful hotels are actually connected by a small hallway, and if you stay here you can experience the beauty of both hotels!

Hotel Florida Havana Cuba

Hotel Florida Havana

Hotel Florida is a great location and walking distance to many points if interest. Located on the corner of Obispo and Cuba Street. Obispo is a very popular pedestrian only street which has many restaurants, a small outdoor artisan market (that we loved) and this street leads you right down to Central Park and the Capital building.

When we arrived at midnight and walked passed the smokey bar with music pumping and very crowded dance floor. It was the exact scene I had hoped to find in Cuba and seeing this the very first night was the perfect welcome to Cuba.  As it turns out, Hotel Florida is a very popular spot for dancing!

There is a small cover charge to go into the bar at night, but free if you are staying at the hotel. I highly recommend you get down there and have a mojito and soak up this vibrant energy.  Apparently, some of the men that dance here are the best in Havana and they are there because they want to teach you how to dance. And yes, even I got up enough courage to hit the dance floor, I had no idea what I was doing but my teacher was patient and very kind. It’s so much fun and anyone can give it a try, no one is judging you, so go for it!

The breakfast in the morning was not your typical style of breakfast, it was an assortment of meats, cheeses, breads and fruit. One morning they did have scramble eggs. If you have read anything about Cuba, they are not known for their food, so don’t expect much.

I recommend heading down the street to the bakery or one of the small cafes to grab your morning coffee and a pastry. There is also a very well known coffee shop and cafe called O’Neils that is just around the corner. We also stumbled upon the Black Cat Cafe one morning, which was very charming and had an assortment of pastry options. Just ask at the front desk and they will point you in the right direction to get to either of these places.

Hotel Florida Havana Cuba Wanderlust Living Travel

Hotel Florida Havana Cuba

Hotel Florida Rooms

We did not stay in one of these rooms, but I asked to take a peek inside. The rooms are furnished with an eclectic mix of vintage furniture and they are a bit smaller then you might be used but very nice and clean.

HOtel Marques de Prado Ameno Havana Cuba

Hotel Marques de Prado Ameno

We arrived late at night the brick archways were glowing and the plants dangling down from the second floor made it look like an enchanted garden. Our room was a large suite with a queen size bed and they brought in two twin size beds for our children, which had no trouble fitting in the space.  The suite also had a nice sitting area and three large blue doors that opened up to a small balcony. The room is dark with only a few lamps, until you open up the large blue doors and let the natural light from the street fill the room.  The bathroom was very large, but with older fixtures and plumbing and our shower did leak a bit.

There is a lovely courtyard in the center of Hotel Marques de Prado Ameno and a small restaurant and bar downstairs. We actually never ate there but we did go down to get the kids some water and soda one afternoon which was very convenient.

Both of these hotels are in a great location, really in the center of it all and walking distance to almost everything.
I loved staying here for the beauty that surrounded us and for the location. We were able to enjoy two hotels at once. The hotels are a bit older and might not have very modern amenities or furnishings but that is also the charm of being in Cuba and enjoying the historic buildings for what they are.

Havana Hotels Wanderlustliving

 

Courtyard Hotel Florida Cuba

Marques de Prado Ameno

Hotel Marques de Prado Ameno



Hotels in Cuba
Hotel Marques de Prado Ameno Courtyard Havana Cuba

Hotel Marques de Prado Ameno Wanderlust Living

Disclosure: I was given a small media rate. However, all my opinions are my own.

Two great hotels in Havana Cuba!
Hotels February 27, 2015 posted by

Hotel La Mar Dulce, Granada Nicaragua

HOtel La Mar Dulce Granada Nicaragua

After we successfully made it crossing the Nicaragua border from Costa Rica we arrived at our hotel, Hotel La Mar Dulce. This hotel is tucked away in what appeared to be more of a local neighborhood of Granada, but we pulled up to a small hotel that looked very charming. There was not much of a hotel lobby, just a simple reception desk and small couch.  I could  see the blue water from the pool peeking through the bushes and staircase that lead to the second floor.

We passed by several other hotels in Granada Nicaragua and they all appeared to be similar to this style. Simple, well kept and a courtyard or pool in the middle with the rooms around it.

Hotel Del Mar Dulce, Granada Nicaragua

The pool is in the center of this hotel and all the rooms doors are facing the pool. There are two floors and only about 16 – 18 rooms. The rooms are nice and clean but pretty basic. The bathroom is pretty small and not a whole lot of counter space, but the main room had plenty of room for us. The room also comes with a fridge stocked with water, beer and soda with a price list. The prices in Nicaragua are very affordable, especially coming form Costa Rica. A beer from the fridge equaled about 75 cents. Breakfast is included in your stay and you are given only two options, either the traditional eggs and gallo pinto or pancakes. The coffee was really good coffee. Central America sure knows how to do coffee 🙂


Hotel La Mar Dulce Granada Nicaragua Hotels

La Mar Dulce Hotel Granada Nicaragua Hotels Wanderlust Living

The pool area is small but a mini tropical oasis and a great place to sit and relax. Harris and I worked poolside every morning and had no issues with internet. In fact, I co-hosted a Twitter party here!! The perks of being digital nomads, we can literally work anywhere as long as there’s good wi fi.

This hotel is not right off the main tourist area, which I actually appreciated. We were away from all the noise. It was about six blocks from the main square and it was nice walk for us and our kids to get a little exercise in. We did take a cab back one night, and it costed maybe $5.

Hotels in Granada Nicaragua Hotel  La Del Mar Dulce

If you stay at this hotel, be sure to walk just two blocks to the Ciudad Lounge, (the receptionist will direct you which way to go) it was my favorite restaurant we ate at and not your typical tourist type of place.

Hotel La Mar Dulce

Hotel La Mar de Dulce Nicaragua Granada Hotel Wanderlust Living

 

Hotel La Mar Dulce, Granada Nicaragua
Hotels August 23, 2014 posted by

Casa Santo Domingo: Antigua, Guatemala

Last Christmas we spent Christmas in Guatemala and I have to tell you, it was one of the best travel decisions we ever made. We stayed in Antigua for a few days and then headed over to Lake Atitlan. When looking for hotels in Antigua Guatemala, I found the Casa Santo Domingo hotel, which looked like a pretty unique hotel considering it used to be a church and convent. The Casa Santo Domingo is a (very popular) historic gem in Antigua, and is only a few blocks from the city center. Not only is the Casa Santo Domingo a gorgeous hotel but a museum, botanical garden and home to many cultural artifacts.

My husband booked us a one bedroom suite that came with a fireplace, he figured since it was Christmas why not splurge a little bit more. We arrived late at night and walking through this hotel I immediately thought we were walking through an ancient castle. Little white lights were strung on the trees, candles were burning and there were poinsettia plants decorating the hallways.  When the bell man lead us to our room I felt like I was in the movie Indiana Jones or The Mummy and that we were staying on an excavating site for hidden ancient ruins. And well, we kind of were!

Casa Santo Domingo Hallway Antigua Guatemala

Casa Santo Domingo Grounds Antigua Guatemala

The grounds here were breathtaking, the hallways all have exposed brick and there were statues and fountains scattered throughout the entire property. I am not even sure I saw everything on the property, there was something new to discover everyday.

There was even a statue in our room, and as my son tried to fall asleep the first night he said  “that statue is kind of creeping me out”. Our one bedroom suite had a sitting area with a couch that pulled out to a bed, as well as a table with four chairs, and a small coffee maker. The bathroom was large and decorated with old Spanish tiles. Our room was a little dark but in a very cozy and comfortable sort of way. It was a perfect way to spend Christmas, snuggled up with one another by the fire.

We had Christmas Eve dinner at the main restaurant (El Refectorio del Prior) and it was like dining in an enchanted garden, I will never forget how beautiful it was. The entire restaurant glowed from all the white lights strung in the trees, candles on all the tables and floor lanterns placed all around the restaurant. The main dining room is long and narrow with large dome openings cut out of the brick that lead to outside seating with tables set for larger parties. It truly felt like dining in a castle. It was magical. I tried to take pictures, but unfortunately it was too dark, which is okay, because I will never forget that Christmas Eve dinner and how beautiful it was, I have a very vidid picture stamped forever in my mind.

Casa Santo Domingo Pool Antigua Guatemala

The pool was also so unique because of it’s surroundings, a mix of old world meets new world. We spent our Christmas morning jumping in and out of the pool and hot tub. Since the temperatures were a bit chilly in Guatemala in December this was perfectly refreshing and relaxing. The breakfast each morning was very filling and had a lot of options which included the traditional breakfast of eggs, gallo pinto and plantains, an omelet station, fruit and a variety of pastries.  In the afternoon they would set out a small table with coffee and tea.

I’ve never spent Christmas in another country,it felt a little strange to be so far from family and friends but it also felt really nice to spend the holiday with just the four of us, our own private little Christmas. And I have to say, we could not have picked a more ideal place to spend Christmas in Central America.

The Casa Santo Domingo  is truly an historic work of art that oozes class, culture and charm. It is absolutely one of the most unique hotels I have ever stayed at and I would highly recommend this hotel for families, large groups, and couples. Not only is it family friendly but very romantic as well, which can sometimes be very hard to do.  Truly a hidden gem in the middle of Antigua, Guatemala!

Parrot at the Casa Santo Domino Hotel Antigua Guatemala

There were several gorgeous parrots on the property.

Casa Santo Domingo Room Antigua Guatemala
The statue in our room that was creeping Hudson out.

Fireplace Elf On Shelf Christmas in Guatemala Wanderlust Living
Even our Elf on the Shelf followed us to Guatemala! The kids kept worrying about Santa not knowing that they were in Guatemala. They were very concerned if they would be getting any presents on Christmas morning. I mean, we didn’t even have a tree! But, Santa found the Fellmans in Guatemala and did indeed leave some presents by the fireplace. The Elf on the Shelf must have helped Santa locate us, he is magic;)

Casa Santo Domingo Museo Hotel Antigua Guatemala
Harris and Hudson outside our room before we headed out for the day

Casa Santo Domingo Fountain Antigua Guatemala

Casa Santo Domingo Hotel Antiqua Guatemala

Casa Santo Domingo Antigua Guatemala

Casa Santo Domingo: Antigua, Guatemala
Costa Rica May 31, 2014 posted by

Hotel Review: The Lost Iguana Resort, Arenal Costa Rica

Choosing a hotel in the Lake Arenal area can be difficult, mostly because there are so many amazing options, just look on TripAdvisor and it can be a little overwhelming! After searching and reading all the incredible reviews, we chose the The Lost iguana Resort and Spa.  Two of the deciding factors was that it was a Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice award winner and the room rate was currently on sale.

Getting to The Lost Iguana was a little like getting lost, it is tucked away in the rainforest and when you turn off from the main road near the bridge, you are not sure that “this is right”, but it is and you should just keep going down the steep and windy road. The reception area was this beautiful indoor outdoor space and we quickly b-lined for the coffee. We booked a room with two queen beds, because we assumed maybe they would have a pullout for Grandma Debbie or the kids would just sleep with Harris and I would sleep with my Mom. We’ve worked it out at other hotels before and every traveling family knows that you have to be flexible with sleeping arrangements.

Harris told them there were five of us and they told us that wasn’t allowed and that we could not have five people to a room. I was a little irritated. Our option was to book another room or book the Celebrity Suite,which sleeps six people. The man at reception told us we could look at both the Celebrity Suite and the regular rooms to decide. The Celebrity Suite, had an extra room with bunk beds and a queen bed in addition to the king bed in the main room, this room could officially sleep 6 and would cost the same as booking two rooms.

As soon as they opened the door to the Celebrity Suite and the kids rushed in and I said, “yeah, we’ll stay here.”  This room was much larger than your typical hotel room and came with a little kitchenette and a separate room with a jacuzzi tub that looked out at the Arenal Volcano. My favorite part of the room was the outdoor shower in the bathroom, it was pretty amazing, not just to look at but probably the best shower I’ve ever had in my life.  So in the end we paid more then what we had originally booked, but it was so worth it.

Lost Iguana Outdoor Shower

So, sure the celebrity suite was great but what was really spectacular was the grounds of the property, the pools, the views of the Arenal Volcano and the walking paths filled with such lush greenery.  Once we got to the pool, we had it all to ourselves and it started to rain a little. We were visiting in low season, or rainy season so not too many other guest were staying there. There are two pools, the main pool was a bit chilly but then top pool was a lot warmer and had the swim up bar.  My favorite memory was McKenna and I jumping into the cold pool and swimming all the way across and then jumping into the warm pool,  but it felt so good!

The Blue Hibiscus is the  restaurant on the property and they served a complimentary breakfast each morning. The breakfast was a great spread of fresh fruits, a variety of breads, and the typical Costa Rican breakfast of eggs, pico de gallo, plantains and coffee. It  is a nice walk to the restaurant but they also have golf carts that will pick you up and take you there if you’d prefer, and of course our kids love riding on the golf cart.  We also had dinner at the Blue Hibiscus Restaurant one night and the food was really great!

Lost Iguana Resort Walking Paths Costa Rica

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Lost Iguana Resort & Spa McKenna and Grandma.jpg

Lost Iguana Pool Swim Up Bar Costa Rica

Lost Iguana Resort Arenal

Lost Iguana Arenal Costa Rica



Check out the slideshow for more pictures of the room and our epic view of the Arenal Volcano from our room right before sunrise.  The Lost Iguana Resort is a gorgeous hotel and I cannot wait to go back!

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Hotel Review: The Lost Iguana Resort, Arenal Costa Rica
Costa Rica May 13, 2014 posted by

On the way to Arenal don’t forget to stop at Toad Hall

While my Mom was visiting us we decided to take her inland to see Lake Arenal and the volcano. Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano is probably one of the most popular destinations in all of Costa Rica. The drive from the beach in Guanacaste takes about 4 hours, but it will take you a little longer if you stop for lunch and I recommend you push on through to Toad Hall.

How do you get to Toad Hall?  It’s easy, just follow the 49 signs that you will see advertising Toad Hall. We remembered these signs from 5 years ago when we were in the Arenal area, but we never stopped (something we always regretted). I think our kids (only 2 & 4 at the time) were sleeping and it was raining.  So this time we were stopping at Toad Hall to see what all the fuss was about.

The signs that mark the way to Toad Hall are random and sporatic to say the least and some are very small so, you need to really look for them.  They are all different colors, shapes and sizes and most of them are handmade and looks like a 4th grader wrote them  Some simply just have one word on or two words on them like COLD BEER, FOOD, KIDS, GIFT SHOP, SHOES, (yes shoes) or the signs tell you how much farther you have to go to get to Toad Hall, like 30 METERS or you’re almost there! This was a fun game with kids in the car, to see who could spot the next sign!

Toad Hall Costa Rica

Toad Hall is a hotel with charming cabinas that have a fantastic view of Lake Arenal (when it is not overcast and cloudy) and they also have a restaurant and gift shop open to anyone. We did not stay at Toad Hall, but I would definitely consider it the next time we head to the Arenal area. It’s very quaint and has that perfect rainforest atmosphere, they even have a few animals on the property.  It is about another 30 minute drive to get to the main city center of Lake Arenal and where you’ll find all the famous the hots springs and zip lining tours.

Toad Hall Toucan Costa Rica
This is the Toad Hall Toucan, his name is Sam.

Toad Hall Animals Costa Rica
We think this is a turkey…?

Toad Hall Costa Rica with Kids
Does this frog remind you of a certain frog from a Disney movie? There is a rumor and dispute over which one came first.

On the way to Arenal don’t forget to stop at Toad Hall