Archive for June, 2010

Summer Camp in Paradise: An Interview with the Atlantis Resort

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Hotels and resorts are so much more than a place to rest your weary head. In fact, many are going above and beyond to keep the whole family entertained. Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas has introduced themed summer camps for children that are so much fun they may never want to leave. So if you’re looking for some amazing summer fun in paradise this summer, then checkout this conversation with my friend, Amanda Felts, Vice President of Guest Activities Programming at Atlantis!

 Q:Atlantis is such a fun destination resort to begin with, what made Atlantis decide to offer themed camps for kids?

A: We have great partnerships with the Miss Universe Organization, LEGO Systems, Inc. and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and felt it was the perfect extension to these partnerships to offer a unique one of a kind experience that our guests have come to not only expect, but appreciate. Then we realized that we have wonderful assets right here on property that we could offer to our guests, who would like to have a more in depth look at our Marine, Culinary, Golf and Hotel operations.   
For kids, Atlantis is not just a resort or simply a “place” to play with mom and dad. There may be no resort in the world better suited to that zest for discovery and pleasure than Atlantis, with its incomparable ruins of ancient Atlantis populated by schools of sharks, rays and tropical fish, its waterslides, its white-sand beaches and swimming pools, to its remarkably diverse dining experiences. Kids typically go off to a summer camp but just imagine going to a summer camp where the whole family gets to enjoy their own “camp” experience. We are a destination with something for everyone – spa, casino, golf, water slides, and dolphins just to name a few – and the kids have their own unique camp experience.  This is a win-win situation for the entire family – kids get their camp experience by day and family time at night.

Q. Tell me, briefly, about the different camps? 

A: The four-night/five-day Atlantis Fantasy Camps provide an opportunity for guests between the ages of seven and 17 to pursue one of their dream goals or career with a variety of different edutainment camp programs suited to specific age groups and interests. Campers can learn to cheer with one of the world’s most famous cheering squads during Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Fantasy Camp. At the Kids Culinary Adventure Fantasy Camp, young foodies will cook up culinary creations and even design their own birthday cake. For young LEGO fanatics, the LEGO Fantasy Camp will offer kids the opportunity to work with LEGO Master Builders for tips on perfecting their building and construction skills.

Pricing for the four-night/five-day camps are $495 per camper (not inclusive of room cost), and includes activities such as dolphin interaction, admission to Atlantis Kids Adventures, select meals and more. The Fantasy Camp sessions will take place during various dates beginning June 28 through August 13, 2010. For a full list of Fantasy Camp session dates and prices.

Q. What if you already have a reservation at Atlantis this summer during the time of one of the camps, can you enroll on site? 

A: Yes, we will allow enrollment based on availability. For Atlantis reservations, click here.

Q. What do parents need to know about a vacation at Atlantis?

A: That we certainly have something for everyone – young and old alike. We offer the perfect combination of fun and learning for the whole family on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Q. Any other events or new features that will be taking place this summer at Atlantis? 

A: Our Atlantis Live Concert Series continues this summer on July 17th with Katy Perry. 



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No Kids Allowed: It’s the Grown-Ups Turn at Summer Camp

Monday, June 28th, 2010
Hanging out with Mark Richt, Head Coach of the University of Georgia football team

Recently I crossed an item off of my “bucket list” by attending a one-day camp at my alma mater, the University of Georgia. No, it wasn’t cheerleading camp; it was Football 101 for Women and it was one of the best weekend’s I have ever had! 

For one, I got to experience something really unique, especially for a girl; to interact and learn from the coaches and play football on the same turf as my favorite team. And two, I spent a wonderful weekend with some of my closest college friends which by itself was a treat. 

I won’t bore you with all the details but the point is to try something new or that you have always wanted to during your next vacation or weekend away with friends. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking!  

Surf Camp

Looking for a California coastal vacay? Why not try a few days at surf camp? You might run into me here next year. Try: Surf Diva School or Pacific Surf School

Golf Camp

Whether you are an avid golfer or just picking up the sticks for the first time, golf camp can be a fun way to have some fun and improve your game. Try: The Lodge at Pebble Beach and enroll in Pebble Beach Golf Academy. Call, (831) 622-8650 for Academy reservations. Or take a swing at PGA National Resort and Spa and the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. Call, 561.227.2690.

Race Car Driving Camp

Whether you are channeling your inner-Earnhardt or Patrick, getting an adrenaline rush on your next trip may be just what this vacation expert ordered.  From an indy cars, stock cars, formula 1 racers and sports cars, you can find your future racing camp at

Flashback Football Camp

Not just for the girls, Flashback Football Camps are popping up on University campuses across the country such as USC, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. The curriculum features authentic drills and scrimmages.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy Camp

If you’ve always dreamed of a rock star moment then this camp is right for you.  Play with legendary musicians, write and record an original song. Camps are held all year long around the US, upcoming camps include Philadelphia, San Francisco and Dallas.

Baseball Camp

Typically held in January and sometimes around Spring Training, baseball camps allow fans to put on the uniform of “their team” and play baseball under the tutelage of players they once idolized.

Have you been to a fantasy camp? Share your experience with me!



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Vote Now!

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

How Are You Spending July 4th Weekend?

View Results

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Checkout Our New Poll Question Feature!

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Starting today I’m going to start posting random travel polls about 2x per month. I’d love to get your take on where you are traveling to, how you spend holidays, and what matters most to you when planning a vacation.

Looking forward to seeing the results!



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Checking Out Some Of 2010’s New Luxurious Hotels

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Where you stay when you travel truly impacts the type of experience you have regardless of whether it’s business or pleasure. I enjoy trying different hotels and experiencing the diversity of each – the décor, amenities, etc. Many new hotels are opening their doors in 2010 and I hope to share many of them here on the blog.  These five new hotels (in random order) are each an experience in taste and luxury.

1) Pegged as New York’s first luxury urban resort that transformed the meatpacking district from gritty to chic, the Hotel Gansevoort is a fabulous city oasis. With a rooftop pool, two-story restaurant, nightclub, and spacious guestrooms, this one is worth checking into.

2) In one of my most favorite ski towns, Snowmass, CO, you’ll find a host of great activities all year long. Whether you’re planning next year’s ski vacation or looking for some summer mountain fun, look no further than this new resort, the Viceroy Snowmass

3) Deserving its place on the Conde Nast Traveler 2010 Hot List, the W South Beach brings a whole new layer of sophistication and style to Miami’s South Beach. The service is as good as the hotel is beautiful and your biggest problem will be not wanting to check out.

4) The newest ultra-luxury hotel in Chicago is the ElysianWhat you get is European elegance matched with modern amenities and a 14,000 square foot spa and health club. But its piece de resistance is the unparalleled customer service.

5) You might spot a celebrity or two at Boston’s newest boutique hotel, the Ames HotelI enjoy boutique properties because they tend to offer a charm and sophistication that you don’t often find in larger hotels and the guest reviews on this gorgeous hotel say that and more! With 114 rooms and its signature restaurant, Woodward, let this hotel be your Bean Town home away from home.



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Great Deals for 4th of July

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Lobby at The Liason Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Hi Everyone! Just wanted to alert you all to a great, new sale from To celebrate the upcoming July 4th holiday, the site is offering up to 40 percent savings on over 130 cities across the U.S., Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.

For more information on the sale, click here.

Happy travels!



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Daddy’s Weekend Adventure

Monday, June 14th, 2010

You wouldn’t possibly be thinking of getting the dad in your life another tie or grill tools set this Father’s Day, would you? I hope not. If you are in the market for a great father’s day gift then how about the gift of travel?! 

We’ve all been watching our pennies and with great travel deals this summer, Father’s Day seems like a great reason to celebrate. There are many hotels and resorts that have more of a masculine touch. After all, most dads aren’t the type to choose a victorian-style bed and breakfast. So what should you look for? Golf resorts are always a great choice, or perhaps hotels near a favorite sports team’s ballpark. A site like is a great place to plan and book the trip because you can sort by amenity or location, read guest reviews and view virtual tours to make sure you choose just the right spot for him. Of course, there are the perennial favorites like Las Vegas, New York City and Atlanta; but here are just a few other “dude” ranches to consider..

Shula’s Hotel & Golf Club
Miami Lakes, FL

A great spot for the active dad complete with golf course, tennis courts, 44,000 square foot athletic complex and of course, a sports-laden steakhouse.






Mike Ditka Resorts – Runaway Beach Club
Orlando, FL

Part of the Summer Sale, this is a great spot for the whole family. Book three consecutive nights and get a free Flip Ultra ™ camcorder.





Mansion at Maple Heights

Pittsburgh, PA

A former Pittsburgh Steeler, Chukwunweze Sonume “Chukky” Okobi, is the hotel manager/innkeeper of this Bed and Breakfast.






Clift, A Morgans Original

San Francisco, CA

The hotel’s Redwood Room is acclaimed one of the best hotel bars in the world aptly located in one of its greatest cities.






L’Auberge D Aspen

Aspen, CO

A collection of 16 individually decorated cabins that are unique, perfectly located and reasonable priced.  Aspen is a gym in the summer with great fishing, cycling, hiking, summer concerts and more.



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Tips for Traveling on a Budget and How to Win a Vacation for Life

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Hey guys! Here’s another video segment I participated in for The Daily Buzz this week. Enjoy!

(Either JavaScript is not active or you are using an old version of Adobe Flash Player. Please install the newest Flash Player.)



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Part 3: 10 Tips For Traveling With Children

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The kids are buckled, behaved, and ready to head to Florida

So we’ve talked about choosing a family-friendly hotel and some great destinations for families, but are you ready to take the trip? I sure hope so! Family travel is what memories are made of but just in case you are still nervous, here are a few more tips to keep your travels problem free.

1. Pack light: Bring only the essentials. The more you bring, the more you have to keep up with and the heavier the bags. Kids can require a lot of stuff: car seats, strollers, cribs, high chairs. Check out where you can rent gear instead of packing it all. Some car rental companies also rent child safety seats and some hotels offer childproof rooms or cribs upon request. Call ahead and find out which items you can cut from your packing list.

2. Expect the unexpected: Not to contradict tip no. 1, but make sure you have plenty of what you need in your carry-on: diapers, wipes (which are great for a multitude of things), medications, change of clothes, snacks, and a secret coloring book.    

3. Bring toys and games – quiet ones: Be sure to bring something to keep everyone entertained, but leave the singing Barneys and beeping video games at home. You and everyone else will be glad you did. Backpacks for each child: Toddler or teen – give each child his own backpack to carry with their chosen toys/books/etc. The catch is if they pack it, they carry it. Trust me, one heavy backpack experience and they’ll learn just how much to take to Grandma’s.

** Parents Note: check the backpacks to make sure there are not any toys with water elements (ex. a toy train car) or Play-Doh (TSA considers this a potential explosive device.)  as they will be confiscated.

4. Car seats: Do NOT count as checked luggage on any airline. You will NOT be charged. Get yourself a durable car seat cover and check it for your trip.  Nicole’s secret tip: when your suitcase is over 50 lbs, avoid the overweight fees and stick some of those extra clothes in the car seat bag.

5. Airplane seats:  If your child is under the age of two, then he/she technically does NOT need a paid seat on the plane. Be prepared to prove your child’s age. I.E. – birth certificate. I recommend that you purchase a seat for your infant once the child is mobile (even if he’s only one year) especially for flights over 2 hours in length. The airplane seat allows them their own space to wiggle and dramatically reduces on-board melt-downs.

6. TSA Security Screening can really delay you if you aren’t prepared. Know this: medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Babies do have to take off their shoes, too. So go for velcro on travel day. Plan ahead!  Practice getting that stroller broken down quickly!

7. Eat breakfast where kids eat free and split meals. This can mean an enormous saving for a family of four or larger. Children are many times too excited or tired to eat much at a time. Restaurants that are kid friendly are more than happy to accommodate special requests for extra plates. Many do free meals for kids (with the purchase of an adult meal) on different days of the week.

8. Bring your own stroller. If you’re going to visit theme parks then this can save you $7 to $30 (for a double) a day in rental fees.

9. Bring along individual refillable water bottles. These can be refilled at the hotel and at restaurants around your destination. A family of four could easily spend $20 or more a day just buying water.

10. The most important tip of all is to be flexible. Lines will be long, traffic will be heavy, flights will be delayed and children (and adults) will get grumpy.  But with just a little planning and an open mind, you’ll survive and enjoy another family vacation. 

Have any specific questions about traveling with kids? Let me know and I’ll answer it here on the Travel Smart Blog.



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I Need A Vacation Sweepstakes!

Friday, June 4th, 2010

I wanted to alert you all to a new promotion from The company is awarding one lucky winner the ability to take a lifetime of vacations as part of its new “I Need A Vacation” summer sweepstakes. The winner receives a onetime check for $102k, no-strings-attached.

Beginning this week, contestants can log-on to to register. Entries are voted upon after users upload the funniest, most creative and compelling photo of themselves, which shows why they deserve a vacation. The sweepstakes continues throughout the summer with a winner announced in early September.

In addition to the grand prize, there are plenty of chances to win daily giveaways along the way. By uploading a picture you also have a chance to win a Flip Ultra™ camcorder if you can accumulate the most votes of the day. Camera-shy folks, fear not! Even if you do not upload a photo, you can still be entered into a random daily drawing that gives you the opportunity to win a Flip™ camcorder of your own, just for voting daily for your favorite “I need a vacation” look.

Good luck!



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