Travel

Why You Should Escape The Winter Weather And Travel To The Caribbean

I challenge you to imagine bringing in your New Year on a sunny sandy beach, sunbathing in the middle of January while drinking a Bahama Mama and dancing up and down the street in late February. To a New Yorker, this idea is barely imaginable. But, I challenge you to believe that it’s actually possible. I encourage you to escape your cold city and and enjoy a luxury vacation to the Caribbean for the winter. Luxury Retreats provides 945 professionally inspected breathtaking villas with 24/7 guest support and a price match guarantee to accommodate your Caribbean luxury vacations. Luxury Retreats is currently offering holiday exclusives to Costa Rica, Barbados, St. Martin and Mexico. If escaping the winter weather isn’t enough reason to travel to the Caribbean, here are a few more reasons:

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Relaxation

By the end of the year, I’m tired, aren’t you? The year is coming to a close and I’d like to enjoy this wonderful holiday season with my family and friends. A trip to the caribbean is exactly the way I’d like to relax. Instead of braving the snow to run to work, wouldn’t you like to wake up in one of Luxury Retreat’s exquisite villa accommodations? So, I scrolled through their list of Caribbean luxury vacations and of course I stopped at St. Thomas and Bahamas but I think I’d like to try somewhere new this time. I’ve never been to Barbados, and surprisingly they have 12 villas on “Gibbs Beach.” My favorite is, Ixoria at Emerald Beach, they accommodate a family of 6, they are located on the beachfront, provide and on-site chef and a pool. Sounds quite relaxing to me.

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Entertainment

Carnival

Natives and home-goers enjoy their heritage during the winter months with carnivals, independence days and other bashes. Some of the most well known carnivals in the Caribbean happen during the winter months including St. Kitts Nevis Carnival November- January 8, Turks and Caicos Maskanoo December 26, Bahamas Junkanoo Festival December 26 – January 1, 2017, Aruba’s Carnival January-February, and the grandest of them all is Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival February 27-18.

Bob Marley Birthday Bash

The musical legend Bob Marley is a pioneer of reggae music. His name is known internationally for his contribution to Jamaican culture. Bob Marley’s birthday is celebrated in Negril, Jamaica from February 1-6, 2017. Bob Marley’s birthday bash gives you a taste of authentic Jamaican culture through music, food and creative art expression.

Rebel Salute

Rebel Salute is a highly anticipated music concert at Plantation Cove in St. Ann Jamaica. This two day event from January 13-14, 2017 brings out some of the top reggae artists, thousands of people and delicious food.

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Romance

Every loving couple looks forward to New Year’s Eve for their annual midnight kiss and Valentine’s Day to celebrate their love. The Caribbean is the perfect place to show “bae” how much you adore them. Islands like St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos and St. Barts are well known romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day, honeymoons and anniversaries. Luxury Retreats provides 38 hand picked villas perfect for honeymoons and romance. The simplicity and sleekness of Sugar Kube villa in Turks and Caicos impressed me. It is perfect for the couple that just wants a beautiful backdrop and each other to celebrate their Valentine’s Day. The Zen villa in St. Barts is located on a hilltop, perfect the couple who loves a hideaway.

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5 Sites to See in San Francisco

The colorful homes and eye catching murals of San Francisco have fully gotten my attention. This is my second time in the Bay Area but my first time exploring like a true tourist. I’ve been able to truly flourish and enjoy the many sights that San Francisco has to offer. My trip isn’t complete yet but I thought I’d give you a sneak peak of what I’ve been doing. These are five sites to see in San Francisco.

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1.Golden Gate Bridge

I know you’re thinking well obviously Pam, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most known landmark in San Francisco. There’s no surprise there. But hey, I had to include it.

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2. Dolores Park

Dolores Park is an ideal place to chill. It’s perfect for the park obsessive person like myself who loves to lay out in the sun, read a book or play a game with friends. By the way, when you visit Dolores Park, don’t forget your “5 Picnic Essentials For A Day In The Park,” you will need them.

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3. Twin Peaks Viewpoint

Twin Peaks are two small hills that sit at the highest point of San Francisco. Which means it has the most amazing panoramic view of the city. As you know from my “5 Places In NYC With The Most Amazing Views” I’m obsessed with views so Twin Peaks is my favorite site to see in San Francisco.

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4. Painted Ladies

Painted ladies is a multicolored row of Victorian houses made popular by the 90s show Full House. Remember the intro of the show when the Tanner’s were sitting on a blanket in the grass across from a scenic row of houses? That row of houses are the Painted Ladies. How’s that for a trip down San Francisco memory lane?

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5. Conservatory of Flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers is a beautiful greenhouse located in the Golden Gate Park filled with exotic plants and flowers. This beautiful floral sanctuary reminds me of “A Breathtaking Day at the Orchid Show” in New York. Flowers make me very happy so the Conservatory of Flowers is my “happy place” in San Francisco.

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A Well Tailored Experience At The Gregory Hotel

The Gregory Hotel reminds me of a well tailored suit. I know that may sound a bit odd but it does.You know when you’re wearing a perfectly tailored dress or pants suit and you don’t even want to sit down because you’re afraid it will get wrinkled? That’s the type of aura The Gregory has. It’s a newly opened boutique hotel located in the fashion district. Upon entering The Gregory I was impressed by it’s cool, sophisticated and tailored aesthetic.

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My double bed room was just as sophisticated. I instantly felt welcomed with the chocolates, wine and note that was left for me. The staff at The Gregory really knew how to welcome a girl in. My room was so comfy and I especially loved the special touches like the candle and artwork. Remember when I said I felt like I was wearing a tailored suit? The irony is that is exactly what the artwork on the walls reflected.

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My favorite part of my experience at The Gregory was laying around in the bathrobe they provide. As a blogger, laying in bed in a robe while typing away on my laptop makes me feel at home wherever I am.

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The Gregory is located in the heart of the city. It is walking blocks from legendary attractions like Madison Square Garden, Herald Square Macy’s, The Empire State Building and Times Square. It’s a great area for anyone visiting New York City for the first time or if you just need an escape to the city. Thank you to The Gregory’s staff for providing me such a wonderful tailored experience.

My First Glam Getaway in Brooklyn

As a budding Event Planner, I had been following Makini Regal Designs on Instagram for a while because her floral design and interior design work is so impressive to me. During one of my normal scrolling moments, I came across one of Makini’s glamorous apartment spaces that she transformed from “glam getaway” to “holiday glam” in time for the holidays. I kept thinking this apartment is so cute! I would love to design my first apartment just like it. Little did I know, this space was available to me on AirBnb. So of course I contacted her and immediately booked two nights to celebrate my birthday and two-year anniversary.

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I’ve been thinking heavily about moving to Brooklyn because to be honest, I’ve outgrown and overdone Queens. So this would be my version of a getaway and also a trial to see if Brooklyn is where I really want to be. Let’s just say that I am completely convinced. My first glam getaway in Brooklyn was perfect! The apartment is as beautifully designed, cozy and clean as in the pictures. I was first blown away with the living room. It’s intricate detail including flowers, inspirational books, gold and silver accents and pillow throws made me feel like I was looking at a Pinterest account for interior design.

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When I entered the bedroom, I felt the same type of experience. What I loved in this room was the gold accents, the inspirational books and the chandelier. It was Pinterest perfect yet again! Lastly, there is a small table in the kitchen perfect for an intimate dinner of two. Using a plate set by Design Imports from Nordstrom Rack, I sprinkled a little bit of me on our AirBnb experience.

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If you’re visiting New York or you’re like me want a short home away from home experience, then move temporarily to Brooklyn. The location is a short distance from the train. It’s located in Bedford Stuyvesant so there are restaurants and things to do close by. Makini is extremely prompt and helpful during the duration of your stay. Everything in the apartment is open to your enjoyment. I do suggest that if you plan to cook, bring seasonings and all condiments. If this is you’ve never used Airbnb, visit airbnb.com and learn more about it. Use my code: PAMELAG118 for $20 off your first booking. Other than that, enjoy your experience because I know I absolutely did!

Seacrets

Have you heard of a place called Jamaica, USA? I’m guessing you probably haven’t because from what we all know, Jamaica is located in the Caribbean. But, I visited a Caribbean inspired bar, club, theater, hotel and restaurant called Seacrets located in Ocean City, Maryland. They have managed to bring the sunshine, palm trees, rum punch and the cool vibes of the islands to the states.

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Seacrets is your all in one package. They have live bands that perform on their Beach Stage and Tiki Stage. In these locations you will be standing in sand while swaying your hips to live Caribbean music. The Night Club section of this outdoor world is more of a club where you party like a rockstar. Lastly, my favorite area is the Pier Stage and Bay. In this area you can sit out in the water and grab drinks with your friends or enjoy specialty dishes on the shore. The water is a bit murky and definitely doesn’t resemble the rainbow of blue water that flows in the Caribbean but it’s doable.

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The popular drink on this “island” is the Pain in de Ass. It’s a blend of frozen rum runner and pina colada. I suggest you have one of these in your hand at all times, it will enhance your experience. If you get hungry, pair it with their other specialties, Jerk Chicken and Jamaican fries or a Jamaican Pizza. You’re in Jamaica, you mind as well go all out. With all of these areas inside of one big outdoor world, you will forget that you’re still in the United States.

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Location: Seacrets, 117 West 49th Street | Ocean City, MD 21842

Type of Food: Jamaican

Ambiance: Chill Island Vibes

Stars (Out of 5): *****

My Family Reunion In St. Thomas

My family originated from a small island in the Caribbean called St. Thomas. This island is one of three islands that combined are called the U.S Virgin Islands. We were blessed enough to travel together to St. Thomas and visit where my grandparents were born and raised. Nine of us connected with each other and connected with the island in the most amazing family reunion ever.

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A few years ago I visited St. Thomas with friends and stayed at the Sugar Bay Resort and Spa which is now called Dreams Sugar Bay. I thought it would be the perfect place to bring my family because it was a beautiful resort and it catered to families and couples. Dreams has seven restaurants, four bars, free water sports such as kayaking, a basketball court, a tennis court, a spa, a pool with a swim up bar and is also a great location for weddings. The rooms are very cozy and include a balcony which is my favorite part. My family loved the resort.

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St. Thomas is a gorgeous island. The views are picturesque, the beaches are tranquil and the people are friendly. But this trip was to enjoy the beauty of the island and also visit all of the places my grandparents told us about in their stories of growing up. So we rented two cars and took a full day to explore the island. We stopped for gas in an area called Sugar Estate and I hopped out the car when I saw a beautiful mango tree. The area was filled with colorful homes and flowers.

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The first official stop we made was in a neighborhood called Savan. Growing up my grandparents lived in Savan. Savan is not a tourist attraction nor is it a safe part of the island but we were able to connect with it and see the beauty through the eyes of grandparents. Most of the actual homes my grandparents lived in were gone but we got the general picture. In my opinion, I loved the roughness of Savan.

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Next we visited a family friend. My great grandmother’s best friend. She lives in an area called Lerkin Lund. She has one of the most beautiful views that I’ve ever seen and she shared some mangos with us that were picked on the island.

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Our tour continued, we stopped at my late great aunt’s house. She is the sister of my great grandmother. Her house is located in a part of the island called Estate Pearl.

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By this time we were all hungry and tired so I reached out to some of my local friends and they told me about a restaurant called Cuzzin’s. I was told if you’re looking for authentic Caribbean food, this was the place to go. Cuzzin’s was delicious, I ordered the Seafood Combo and I also stuck my fork in everyone else’s plate. I tried the conch and the salmon as well. All of it was delicious.

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Our trip didn’t end with just a family roots tour. We also swam in Magen’s Bay which is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to. My cousin’s, sister and I hung out in Red Hook, a popular area with bars. In this area is Señor Frogs and the popular bar of the island called Duffy’s Love Shack. We also visited the highest point in St. Thomas, a tourist attraction called Mountain Top. There is another popular restaurant on the island called Gladys Cafe. I wasn’t able to eat there this time but I will when I return. We also walked around the Waterfront. The Waterfront is where you can find shops, restaurants and vendors on one side and the beautiful waters where the cruise ships doc on the other. This trip was the most amazing trip I’ve ever taken. Absolutely nothing compares to the beauty of bonding with your family and connecting to your roots.

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10 Beach Vacation Essentials

I’m traveling to a warm sunny tropical island soon, and I just finished packing. Would you like to see what’s in my bag? Sure, I’ll share some of my 10 beach vacation essentials that I take every time I’m traveling. I think I’ll even tell you where I bought them from, so that when you’re traveling, you’ll know exactly where to go.

1. Sun Hat

Protect your face from the sun with this beach hat. H&M $12.95

2. Sandals

My favorite summer sandals are Sam Edelmen. They’re colorful, comfy and great on vacation. Sam Edelman $100.00

3. Magazine

What’s your favorite magazine? This H&M magazine helps me with my spring styles.

4. Passport

Here’s a reminder, don’t forget your passport! US Passports

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5. Swimsuit

I love a sexy swimsuit and when you’re traveling to a sunny island, bring your brightest colorful one. Zingara Swimwear

6. Sunglasses

My favorite sunnies are Gucci. They’re classic aviators and are perfect with any bathing suit.

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7. Beach Towel

This is the cutest beach towel! The pineapple says tropical, tasty and bright sunshine. Forever 21– $10.90

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8. Beach Bag

You’re going to need a cute bag to put all of your beach essentials in. Forever 21 $24.90

9. Sun Screen

Remember whatever skin tone you are, it’s important to protect yourself from UV rays. Neutrogena Beach Defense $1.99

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10. Cover Up/Skirt

Wear a sexy cover up or skirt to not give all your goodies away when you’re not on the beach yet. H&M

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Dream Midtown

Whether you live in New York City or you’re vacationing to the Big Apple, if you want to escape your realities then plan a stay at Dream Midtown. One Friday while scrolling through my Hotel Tonight App (book with my code: PGIBBS11 and receive $25 off your first reservation), I came across a deal for $112 for Dream Midtown. If you’re a New Yorker like me, you know $112 for a hotel in Midtown is a steal! Not including the fact that the hotel was also located three avenues away from my job. So of course purchasing the deal was a must! I needed to escape my realities and just enjoy a relaxing staycation.

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 Photo Via Dream Midtown Facebook

Upon entering the Dream, I was met with a beautiful fish tank. If you know a little about me, you know that my favorite place is the beach. So Dream Midtown in a way brought the beach to me. The fish tank is absolutely beautiful. Anyway, my room was exactly what I needed. The Bronze King Room was a tad bit small but very comfortable. The bathroom was quaint and the robes and slippers were a nice comfy touch. Of course you have the option to choose a bigger room, since then I’ve been eyeing their Gold and Platinum Suite.

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What’s even better about the Dream Midtown is that it’s located in the heart of everything! Meaning it is blocks from Times Square, Central Park and 5th Avenue. You pretty much have every major sightseeing location in New York City in walking distance from your hotel room. Not to mention some cool restaurants like STK MidtownSerafinaHoley Cream and Eatery. I’m also patiently waiting for Dream Midtown to open their Rooftop Lounge in Summer 2015. I know this will be a hot spot for the summer and I can’t wait to make it my after work spot.

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If you really want to get a jump start on escaping your realities, Dream Midtown has two great offers that will save you some money! One is called “Sunday’s on Us.” When you book Friday and Saturday during the month of March, your Sunday night is on them! Make sure you enter the promo code “Sunday” on your reservation to receive this discount. The second offer is for 15% off your stay when you use the code “Social.” You really have no excuse, your escape is awaiting your arrival!

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ME Cancun

This year I decided there was nothing else I’d rather do, no gift I would rather want, no place I would rather be than on vacation for my birthday. Once this was decided, I chose ME Cancun because I had heard so many amazing things about it from friends. I always wanted to visit Cancun, Mexico and I knew it was an adults-oriented lifestyle resort. This probably was the best decision I could have possibly made because my experience was AMAZING! This is why…

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The entrance into ME Cancun is inviting and makes you feel exclusive. It’s purple carpet leads to double doors that open to a world of beauty and peace. The first thing you’ll notice once you enter is an alluring aroma. I really don’t know what the fragrance in the air is but it smells so good and is nothing I’ve ever experienced entering a resort. Once inside you are always greeted by a friendly staff and helpful people. That’s what I experienced all throughout my stay. The staff was extremely inviting and overall enhanced the experience.

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When I’m vacationing, the most important things to me are my room, the food and most importantly the beach and pool area. Overall I have to say the ME Cancun was immaculate! I stayed in the Aura Room, it was clean, comfortable and provided a beautiful view of Mexico. My favorite part was the shower which was an overhead shower head. The room is also equipped with a flat screen tv, radio, free snacks, a robe and slippers, a safe to lock up your important belongings, a couch and a cute table and chair area. The Aura Room is pretty much equipped with whatever you need.

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After you check in, I’m sure the first thing you want to do is eat right? Well this resort is all inclusive which means you eat nonstop and everything is included. What more can a blogging, eating nonstop girl ask for. ME Cancun has five restaurants, all included in your package. Every morning you can go down to Salt Restaurant for a buffet style breakfast that is delicious. It includes some of your normal breakfast dishes and also some Mexican specialties. The Beach House is where you’d want to go for more Mexican inspired dishes and a gorgeous view of the ocean. My personal favorite is the South American inspired restaurant called, The Water Grill. (I will be writing a separate post on this restaurant to explain how absolutely amazing it was.) So you’ve checked in, you’re done eating and now you’re wondering what to do next?

Sugar Bay Resort and Spa

It was Carnival time in St. Thomas and a few friends and I stayed in the Sugar Bay Resort and Spa. The resort is beautiful, our room had a great view of the resort’s pool, beach and restaurant area. Our all inclusive package included unlimited drinks, unlimited food, access to all of the resorts amenities and a $100 spa credit. So of course, I ate and drank nonstop and ended my stay with a well needed manicure and pedicure. Pure heaven!

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The resort staff was overall very friendly and catered to our needs. (We did have a problem with housekeeping though, they were delayed on giving us new towels, cleaning the bathroom and changing our linen. After we spoke to them, this problem was solved.) Other than that issue, the bartenders were friendly and generous with the alcohol portions. That is extremely important when you are on vacation. My favorite part of this resort was the outside eating area that overlooked the water. I dragged my friend to eat with me outside as much as I could because it was absolutely breathtaking.

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Overall, I do suggest that you stay at this resort should you visit St. Thomas. I will be honest and say that it is not necessarily the best location if you are going for Carnival because it is far from all of the events in the village/town. If you don’t mind taking a cab (which could be anywhere around $10 each way depending on where you are going), or you are renting a car, or have a friend/family member with transportation then staying here would be okay during Carnival. Wherever you choose to stay, St. Thomas should be on your list of vacation spots to travel to. I promise, you will love it! And lucky for you, I just found a great deal on Cheap Carribean for an all inclusive four day with airfare package.

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While on my vacation to St. Thomas I visited two of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to in my life. You may or may not know this but my mother’s side of my family are from St. Thomas so I grew up hearing stories about these beaches. I visited St. Thomas years ago but I never had the opportunity to actually lay on the beach and enjoy it. They are absolutely beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful. The two beaches I visited were Magens Bay and Coki Point. If you visit St. Thomas, make sure you go to these two beaches.

Magens Bay

On the Sunday after Carnival, Magens Bay has a big celebration cookout. It includes food, music, drinks and a small parade. It’s a nice way to end the Carnival festivities.

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Magens Bay Sunset

Coki Pt.

Coki Pt has a small restaurant close-by called Restaurant 39. The owners made us feel extremely welcome and specially prepared each of us a meal. For $15 I got shrimp, pasta, mashed potatoes, rice and corn. If you visit  Coki Pt make sure you stop by.

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Grand Lucayan in Freeport, Bahamas

We all need a getaway once in a while. A place to go to escape that never ending cycle of work, responsibilities, stress and even sometimes people. So if you fall into that category and find yourself desperately needing a fun yet peaceful vacation I would suggest visiting the Grand Lucayan in Freeport, Bahamas. The Grand Lucayan is a resort that is literally all in one. This resort has an amazing beach, several pools that also include an in-pool bar, restaurants and other amenities such as tennis, golf and a Spa. As soon as I reached the resort, I checked my bags with the friendly staff and basically ran to the beach. The weather was gorgeous and just playing in the waves of the water relieved all stress and worries that I had. If you’re a person that loves being in the water like me, you’ll also enjoy the pools where they provide floats so you can lay back and let the pool carry you away.

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Besides the fun amenities, the Grand Lucayan also has beautiful and clean rooms. If you stay at the Grand Lucayan please stay in an ocean view room. Why? Because the ocean view will change your entire experience. I sat on the balcony/ patio every day by myself. It was the most relaxing and relieving feeling of my whole trip. Maybe because I’m really big on views or maybe because it’s just a great way to reflect and find peace. I also had  a bird friend come join me, I guess he wanted in on the experience as well.

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The Grand Lucayan is also in a great location. Directly across the street from the resort is Port Lucaya. Port Lucaya is an outdoor center with shops great for buying gifts and souvenirs, restaurants that will provide you a delicious taste of the island and bars for nightly entertainment. In walking distance from the resort is also the Treasure Bay Casino which is open 24 hours. Sounds fun doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to spend their day at the beach, eat until their stomach is stuffed and then try their luck at the casino all in one day and in one location. I know I would, would you?

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