winter getaways

It is way too cold out.

I love the idea of winter. Waking up to the sun shining through the blinds on a cold winter morning, sipping a hot cup of coffee in bed or snuggling up under piles of blankets and watching a movie are some of my favorite parts about this time of year. It is nice and cozy inside, but ask me to go outside in this weather, and I immediately want to hop on a plane and go somewhere warm.

I have to wait another seven weeks until I am in paradise again, but in the meantime, I want to share some of my favorite all-inclusive vacation spots for a winter getaway! If I can’t be on a beach soaking up the sun’s rays in this extraordinarily chilly weather, at least writing about it makes me feel like I am!

Secrets The Vine Cancun

This trip was the epitome of relaxation. From lounging by the ocean and swimming in the infinity pools to exploring an island and getting the best massage ever, we had an amazing time!

The Resort:

Our trip to Secrets The Vine Cancun was by far my favorite trip we have taken together. This adults-only resort is beautiful, the rooms are incredibly spacious and there is so much to do on the property. With five gourmet restaurants, a buffet, a grill and a cafe, there are plenty of different options for dining for all guests. There is also entertainment offered every night, so after finishing a nice dinner, that was definitely a great way to unwind before the next day’s adventures!

The view from our room!

If you are traveling for a special occasion, be sure to tell the concierge! Connor and I booked this trip for our anniversary, and after our first day on the beach, we came back to our room decorated for the occasion! Our door had a Happy Anniversary banner on it, we received champagne and we had a complimentary breakfast delivered to our balcony any morning we wanted! It was definitely a nice surprise!

What to Do

We loved the resort so much that we spent almost our entire trip there! Our typical morning included waking up early, grabbing breakfast from the buffet and heading down to the beach. There was never a concern about grabbing chairs first thing in the morning because the beach was staffed with attendants who bring you to chairs and set up an umbrella for you if needed! There were also waiters available to take any food or drink orders if you did not feel like moving from your oceanfront seats!

If you were ever looking to step away from the sand and surf for a bit, the buffet was open throughout the day, as well as an oceanfront restaurant and bars. There are also several heated pools at this resort, including two infinity pools that look out to the beach.

We dedicated one day to an excursion while on this trip. We decided to go snorkeling and take a boat ride to Isla Mujeres. Unfortunately, the weather conditions were not ideal for snorkeling that day, but the captain made the best of it for us. Before we reached Isla Mujeres, he stopped the boat to let us all swim in the ocean for a bit! Once we got back on the boat, we sailed the rest of the way to the Island, where a tour guide took us around for the day. It was such a beautiful trip, regardless of being unable to snorkel! You can’t beat this view!

The view from Isla Mujeres

We also booked a massage at the spa while on vacation, which was one of the best decisions we made! We chose a wine therapy couples massage, and it was an incredibly relaxing and refreshing experience! Before the scheduled massage, we were also able to use the spa facilities at our leisure. The spa was beautiful, clean and well worth the price.

All in all, this was an amazing trip. This truly is the perfect place to stay if you are looking to satisfy all of your vacation needs in one location! From amazing food (our favorite was Italian!) to beautiful views of the ocean, we could not ask for much more! We cannot wait to go back again some day!

Majestic Elegance – Punta Cana

Our first all-inclusive vacation we ever booked was to Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana. This adults-only resort was filled with fun activities, great excursion packages and wonderful rooms and dining options!

The Resort:

Majestic Elegance is a beautiful resort located in the Dominican Republic. Adjacent to Majestic Colonial, a family-friendly resort, the Majestic property is massive. We only visited Majestic Colonial to try and win some extra cash at the casino, but unfortunately, we did not have much luck there!

The rooms at Majestic Elegance were great — we had a jacuzzi inside and a balcony with a view of the large pool area. The hotel also has six restaurants and 11 bars — plenty of options for even the pickiest eater! We tried to sample as many restaurants as possible, but our all-time favorite was El Asadito Steak House, an Argentinian steak house!

The view from our room!

What to Do:

img_7690.jpgOur hotel room was about a five minute walk away from the beach, and once on the beach, there were chairs available to bring over to the ocean, or there were tiki huts to sit under to escape the sun for a bit! After spending our days by the ocean, we would wrap up the day at the swim-up pool bar before heading in for dinner and nightly entertainment.

The entertainment at Majestic Elegance was great. Our favorite night was the circus night! We sat back and watched people perform tricks and trapeze artists swing high above the ground. We even got to hang out with this man on stilts before the show!

In addition to spending time at the resort, we also booked two excursions on this trip. The first excursion we went on was such an amazing experience! We hopped on a boat and set sail to swim with sharks! We even got to hold a sting ray! That is definitely not something you get to do every day!

Our second excursion involved driving through the Dominican Republic to zip line through the trees! The views were amazing from the treetops, and we had a chance to see more of the Dominican Republic than we would have if we just stayed on the resort property. Our tour guide for this excursion gave us so much history and information about the culture and lifestyle of the people who live here. He also brought us pure cacao beans to try, and we had an opportunity to explore and do some shopping before going back to the resort!

We had a great time at Majestic Elegance, and we met some really great friends that we are still in touch with today! We were very happy with this trip, especially since it was our first all-inclusive vacation! We definitely got the travel bug after this trip!

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Our next winter getaway is a little different than these trips — we will be setting sail on our first cruise together, with some friends, to the Eastern Caribbean! I cannot wait to go on this trip and document it all to share once we are back! I am counting down the days until my next winter getaway — when and where will yours be?

 

holiday gift guide: under the tree

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.”

Now that you have found the perfect stocking stuffers for all of the guys and girls on your list, let’s move onto the gifts that will be under the tree this year!

For the Jetsetter

The Carry-On
This suitcase, sold by Away, is great for anyone who has the travel bug. This suitcase features two compartments and a durable outer shell, as well as an ejectable battery that can charge phones up to 5x. The Carry-On also comes with a TSA-approved lock built into it.

Beats Solo3 Wireless
Help the travelers in your life settle into relaxation mode with these Beats headphones. With excellent sound quality, these wireless headphones will help them tune out the sounds of planes, trains and buses and focus on music or audiobooks until they reach their next destination.

Catalina Canvas Weekender
The Catalina by Lo & Sons is the perfect bag to use for long weekend trips. Available in four colors, this bag is equipped with a separate bottom storage compartment, which is perfect for packing shoes, toiletries or other items you may want to keep away from clothing. The Catalina Collection is comprised of three different weekender bags, and the other available options can be found here.

For the New Homeowner

Keurig Coffee Makers
Coffee, coffee, coffee! Keep your loved ones caffeinated with Keurig’s Special Edition Single Serve Coffee, Latte & Cappuccino Maker. Don’t forget to throw in some pods as well! Keurig’s website is running a special offer of two free boxes of pods with the purchase of this coffee maker by using the code: FREEPODS4ME. If you are looking for a more classic coffee maker, check out other Keurig models here.

11-Bottle Graphite Wine Rack
This hexagon-shaped wine rack fits 11 wine bottles, and is a great gift for anyone who has recently moved into a new home or apartment. Add in a bottle or two of wine to get the collection started!

Eclectic Mercury Votive Holders
Transform the vibe of any room with these white and silver candle holders. This set of 6 votive holders will provide any homeowner with a festive candlelit display.  Add in a set of 6 LED White Votive Candles by Ashland to complete the gift.

For the Homebody

Homebody by Joanna Gaines
With the help of Joanna Gaines’ book, every homebody on your list will feel inspired to create spaces that they will never want to leave. This book pairs well when read with a comfy blanket and a hot cup of coffee in this #Shiplap coffee mug.

Cozy Pom Pom Throw
You can never go wrong with gifting a nice cozy blanket for the holidays. These Pom Pom Throws from Pottery Barn come in three neutral colors that will accent any home space!

Red Cast Iron Fondu Set
Give the gift of a fun night in with this fondu set from Crate&Barrel. Whether your family and friends are cheese lovers or chocolate lovers, this gift is sure to put a smile on everyones’ faces!

For the Hostess

Monette Monogram Cheese Board
Add a personal touch to any kitchen with this monogrammed cheese board from Anthropologie. It is sure to be a hit with the recipients and their guests!

Celine Wine Glasses
This set of four wine glasses are a beautiful addition to any entertainer’s home. Add in a nice bottle of wine and a festive wine tote to the gift, like this one found
here.

Home Cocktail Bar Set by BARMIXXO
This bar set includes everything needed for a night of entertaining at home. From a cocktail shaker to a strainer and bottle opener, this 10-piece set has it all. It even comes with a recipe book of more than 150 drink concoctions.

For the Chef

Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines
If you are a Fixer Upper fan, you will love Joanna’s recipes just as much as you love her decorating style! This cookbook contains everything, from breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes, to appetizers, soups, salads and desserts. This is a great book for anyone who is looking to be a little more adventurous in the kitchen!

Artisan Mini 3.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
This mini KitchenAid Stand Mixer is the perfect addition to any kitchen! It is 20 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than the full-sized mixers, and they come in 18 different colors. These mixers are currently on sale through the KitchenAid website.

Atlas 150 Aluminum Pasta Maker
Give the gift of homemade pasta with this pasta maker from Crate&Barrel. From spaghetti to linguine and lasagna, the options are endless for pasta lovers.

For the Fitness Fanatics

Apple Watch
Apple Watch released its Series 4 model, which has been redesigned with a  new look, improved health apps and data, and more connectivity options for users (did someone say Walkie Talkies?!). Grab one with a sports band for the gym-lover in your life.

Fitbit
This year, Fitbit released the Charge 3, the newest addition to the slew of trackers available for fitness lovers. Charge 3 is an advanced fitness tracker with goal-based exercise modes and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. Fitbit also offers the Versa, Alta HD and Iconic models, and each one has distinct features that will have anyone excited to be working out! If you are looking to help the kiddos get fit this holiday season, Fitbit also offers the Ace model for kids 8+.

Himalayan Salt Massage Stone
Gift this to the workout fiend who needs a bit of muscle relaxation and tension released from his or her body. The stone can be heated in the microwave or cooled in the freezer, depending on the type of massage desired. This is a great on-the-go solution for relieving tension knots!

For the Sports-Obsessed

FanChest
For the NFL, NHL or College sports fans in your life, FanChest sells boxes filled with apparel, fan gear, licensed merchandise and more. Choose a team and the type of box you want to send out and watch the recipient rock their favorite teams’ gear all season long! Keep an eye on FanChest, because it looks like NBA and MLB boxes will be added to the site soon!

Game Tickets
There is nothing like a live sporting event! You can never go wrong with gifting tickets to a game for the holidays. Whether the game is the following weekend or months away, the anticipation of seeing your favorite team play is always exciting.

Sports Fan Blankets and Throws
Give the gift of a cozy blanket representing the recipients’ sports teams of choice! They will love curling up with one of these blankets while watching their team play on the big screen!

For the Artists

Prismacolor Premier Double Ended Art Markers
This set of 72-count fine and brush tip markers from Prismacolor will kickstart the artistic inspiration in anyone. Add in this set of two sketchbooks and watch the masterpieces unfold.

Walls Notebook
Bring out the creative side in the artist you know with this unique gift. The Walls Notebook is filled with textured urban walls so the artist can draw in his or her own graffiti-style drawings and other doodles. 

Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Coloring Book
For the drawing-challenged, this adult coloring book is the perfect alternative. Plus, coloring has proven to be a great stress reliever! Pair this gift with a set of colored pencils!

For the Gamers

A40 TR Headset & MixAmp Pro TR
Help the gamers in your life feel like the pros with this headset that is compatible with PC, Mac and PS4. With Dolby® surround sound processing and voice chat capabilities, this headset also offers comfort and durability for any gamer.

Logitech G903 Wireless Gaming Mouse
This wireless gaming mouse utilizes LIGHTSPEED wireless technology to deliver high-performance capabilities for gamers. This lightweight mouse has up to 11 buttons, has great responsiveness and provides accuracy time after time. 

HyperX Alloy Elite Keyboard
Round off your gifts to the gamer in your life with this keyboard. The HyperX Alloy Elite includes features such as dedicated media buttons, dynamic lighting effects and a detachable wrist rest.

For the Card Players

Phase 10
This Rummy-style card game from the makers of Uno requires players to pass through 10 different phases or levels of play. The person who passes phase 10 first, wins! This game will have groups of friends or family playing for hours!

What Do You Meme?
G
ift the opportunity of out meme-ing friends and family with this picture-style card game. There are several add-on packs available for purchase as well!

Cards Against Humanity
It does not matter how many times this game is played — it never gets old! If everyone on your list already has the original Cards Against Humanity game, consider gifting some of the expansion packs to add onto the fun!

For your Coworkers

I Am Very Busy Coffee Mug
The mug says it all — gift this to the coworker who always seems to be working on something in the office!

Live Assorted Succulents
Spruce up any desk space with this set of four live succulents from Urban Outfitters. Succulents thrive in indoor and outdoor environments and do not require extensive care, so they are perfect for any office space!

Life Hacks Desk Calendar
Give the gift of 365 days of fun facts and life hacks with this desk calendar. Your coworkers will love learning all of the tips this calendar has to offer!

For the Pets

BarkBox
Give the dog(s) in your life the gift of a dog-party all month long! BarkBox sends out boxes that include toys, treats and a chew that match a particular theme each month. Snag the Grinch-themed box for the holidays before it runs out!

KitNipBox
KitNipBox is a subscription service that sends out boxes for cats that include toys and treats! Gift one box or a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription to your favorite kitties!

Bon Appetit Pet Mat
Help the pets in your life eat in style! This is a black and white rubber mat that will help pets keep the floors nice and clean while they chow down or grab a quick drink!