Relaxing at the Fitzilliam Hotel in Dublin

Fitzwilliam Hotel Lobby
Photo courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Hotel

I recently took an impromptu trip to Dublin, where I spent an exciting 72 hours trying to experience as much as I possibly could in the beautiful city. After two action-packed days, I was in much need of some luxury and relaxation, and the Fitzwilliam Hotel delivered just that. Here’s what I loved about The Fitzwilliam Hotel in Dublin:

Location:

Situated at the base of Grafton Street, just across from the city’s beautiful landscapes of St. Stephen’s Green, the Fitzwilliam’s location provides the perfect balance between its proximity to both the bustling city centre and peaceful outskirts of town.

Lined with shops, street-side performers, and popular pubs, Grafton Street is the gateway to all of the main tourist attractions that Dublin has to offer. Using St. Stephen’s Green as a base, I was able to stroll down Grafton Street and be minutes away from key places like Trinity College and Temple Bar. When I needed a break from the action, I wandered over to St. Stephen’s Green, which is the perfect dose of greenery that every city needs. I felt a sudden calmness descend upon me as I walked through the park gates – the car horns and loud voices faded, leaving me with the sweet sounds of birds chirping and trees blowing in the wind.

Using these two landmarks, I was able to navigate my way around the city with ease.

 

Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin
Photo courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Hotel

The Rooms:

Characterized by it’s unique vibrant colour scheme, the guest rooms come to life and seem to brighten up what can be otherwiseFitzwilliam Hotel Dublin

dreary day in the city. My room was equipped with all the bells and whistles: a plush bathrobe hanging in my spacious Victorian-style bathroom, a beautiful garden view terrace where I enjoyed a nice glass of wine after dinner, followed by a delightful sleep on my four-post bed…it was like sleeping on a cloud! In the morning, I was able to satisfy my tea addiction and make myself a cup of tea using my full tea set, which I enjoyed on the terrace while reading my freshly delivered newspaper. After I was nice and alert, I strolled down to the Citron Restaurant to indulge (as if I hadn’t indulged enough already) in a traditional Irish breakfast.

 

 

 

The Service:

The service I received was the cherry on top of what was already a fantastic stay. The Fitzwilliam isn’t your average luxury hotel, as they go above and beyond to build their brand with their superb customer service. Each and every staff member greeted me with a smile, and where possible addressed me by name. It goes without saying that the staff have all mastered the customer service basics, but what I was most impressed with were the little details. I checked in quite early in the morning and my room wasn’t ready. Rather than loitering around the lobby for a couple of hours, I decided to stow my luggage and squeeze in some more sightseeing. I returned to the hotel several hours later, exhausted after a full day of zipping around the city. As I stood in the lobby rummaging for my baggage tags to claim my luggage, the Concierge escorted me to the elevator and explained that my luggage had already been taken up to my room. Small gestures like this can make any hotel stand out – it’s certainly something that I’m going to remember!

 

Although my three days in Dublin were slightly chaotic, I returned home feeling well-rested and relaxed thanks to the Fitzwilliam Hotel.

 

Special thanks to the Fitzwilliam Hotel for hosting me. Of course, the views and opinions presented in this post are my own. 

 

 

The Wild West: Australia’s Biggest And Best State

The Wild West: Australia’s Biggest And Best State

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For most travellers, Australia tops the bucket list. Adventures Down Under are synonymous with road trips up Australia’s beautiful east coast, centered around stops at the big five: Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, and Melbourne. It’s almost like a rite of passage – that, or they stick to what they know because they think the rest of this incredible country is nothing but orange rock, desert, and wild animals. What many travellers don’t realize is that Western Australia is the largest state in terms of geography and the richest in terms of things to do and things to see.

So, it’s only fitting that I highly recommend a trip to Western Australia. After all, there is so much to do on this side of the country that at least one of the following will make it into your top ten travel moments:

 

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  1. Pull on some goggles, a pair of fins and start breathing through a snorkel to explore the Ningaloo Reef in all of its glory. Chances are, you’ll swim with a few incredible whale sharks, while a tour of humpback whales is now being trialed too.
  2. Gorge on the banquet of staggering gorges in the north of Western Australia. The best of the best in our eyes are Geikie Gorge and Emma Gorge, both of which you can explore from kayaks. Of course, if this isn’t your thing, a good old hike is easy to do too.

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  1. Save some money by heading to the cheapest car hire company in Perth and then drive ninety minutes north to what is called The Pinnacles of Cervantes. Here you will set your eyes on one of the most breathtaking and alien-looking landscapes you will have ever seen. To get the most of this experience, we suggest you go on a clear night when the stars are out.
  2. The world heritage site of Purnululu National Park, which is a sea of some of the most astounding natural rock formations. You’ll see a ton of orange and black beehive domes that will have you wondering just how amazing nature is.

 

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  1. You can’t go to Western Australia and not visit its most famous landmark, Cable Beach. It is in a place called Broome and it is spectacular. Turquoise waters stretch out as far as you can sea, the white sand curving along the shoreline. Think you’ve seen beautiful sunsets before? Well, you’ve seen nothing yet.
  2. If mountain biking is your thing, then you have got to check out the Mundi Biddi trail that starts at Mundaring and continues for about a 1000km, finishing up at Albany. It is world famous amongst all those that adore pedal power and is celebrated as one of the best cycling trails in all of Aus.
  3. Forget Ayers Rock. If you want to see – and climb – a big rock then you need to make your way to the Gascoyne and tackle Mount Augustus. This is because it is two and a half times more massive than that puny Ayers Rock that everyone flocks to.

 

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  1. Finally, you have to visit Kalbarri. There is just so much to do here, whether it is exploring their bright red cliffs, fishing along this staggering coastline, or just kicking your sandals off and relaxing in the cozy town. Not to mention the brand new skywalk that has just opened its gates along the Murchison River.

How to Sleep Cheap When Travelling

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Accommodation can be one of the biggest costs when travelling, especially if you’re backpacking or going on a road trip without booking hotels ahead. Fortunately, there are many tips and tricks that can keep you travelling on a shoestring. Here are just a few tips when finding somewhere to sleep.

 

Time your travels right

There are popular times throughout the year to visit certain places, which are often also the most expensive times. For example, if you’re visiting China during Chinese New Year, you can expect hotel prices to be much greater. Similarly, cities may have individual festivals throughout the year – visiting during these time could be more pricy. Christmas and the height of summer are almost always more expensive. October to November and March to May are often the quietest and cheapest times to travel and find accommodation.

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Avoid City Centres

Accommodation will also be more expensive in the centre of a city where all the attractions are. If you’re stopping off in a city, consider staying on the outskirts. You’ll have to get public transport into the centre which may add up costs depending on where you’re visiting. Some cities may also have shuttle services from campsites and popular hotels outside the city.

Staying on the outskirts in particularly worthwhile if you’re driving as parking will be very pricey in any city centre. The further out you go, the more likely you may be able to find free parking (supermarket car parks are worth keeping an eye out for).

 

Sharing is Sparing

You can save a lot of money from sharing a room. If you’re travelling with other people, you may be able to save money on double rooms. You may be able to get a single room and sneak in another guest with a sleeping bag. Hostels are a great place to stay if you’re travelling alone. You can save a lot by sharing a room with other travellers. Some hostels may have several bunks per room – you won’t get much privacy but it’s somewhere to rest your head and it’s a great place to make new friends and travel buddies along the way.

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Go Camping

If you’re not afraid to stay in a tent you can often save a lot of money by checking into a campsite as opposed to a hotel. Wild camping meanwhile is a free option that is ideal for hiking trips in warmer climates (not always so good in cold climates). You can take a sleeping bag or even try sleeping in a hammock. This rugged lifestyle isn’t suited to everyone and some may prefer to check into hostels and hotels.

 

Compare Costs Online

When reaching a new city, there’s nothing more soul-destroying than trudging from hostel to hostel late at night in search of a bed. Searching beforehand online can help you find hotels that aren’t fully booked as well as helping you to locate the cheapest rate. There are lots of hotel comparison sites – most of which allow you to book ahead on them. You should note that you’re not always guaranteed better prices from booking ahead online as sometimes you may also be paying a booking fee on top to pay for the listing.

Because you may not want to turn your data on in a foreign country, you’re best off searching online somewhere that has Wi-Fi. A good strategy is to search the night before using that accommodation’s Wi-Fi. This way, whenever you arrive at your next destination, you’ll know straight away where to go and not have to trudge around.

Paperback guides such as Lonely Planet are also useful for finding a cheap bed and can allow you to travel offline. These guides also provide reviews, which gives you some idea of the quality of the accommodation.

You may be able to save even more money by using a site such as Homestay, which allows you to stay with a local family in their home. This allows you to see how a local lives and you may be able to get a more rich sense of the culture. Families may be willing to transport you around locally, saving you money on transport, and may cook meals for you to. Their local knowledge may also allow you to see some sights in the area that aren’t in the travel books. The disadvantage of using this service is that you’ll need to book ahead as it’s unlikely a family will take you in at a last minute’s notice.

GUEST POST: Hotel Stays Filled with Delightful Surprises

Intercontinental Hotel

I asked Michelle Dias what she had to say about travelling for work, and here’s what she had to say:

Before working in the hotel business, I thought that the “big-box” branded hotels were all the same: cookie-cutter versions of the same formula, like your neighborhood Best Buy or Target. Boy, was I wrong! I am now one year into my role as Marketing Manager, PR and Communications, with the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and I have seen my fair share of hotels. From hotels in Vancouver to Atlanta to Nisku (5 minutes outside of Edmonton’s airport), the 13 brands we represent all have similar standards, but each hotel comes with a unique surprise waiting to be discovered. Typically when I go on a business trip, I have the pleasure of getting a hotel tour. It’s a great way for me to get to know the staff and the property. Although friendly smiles and great hospitality come standard, there have been surprise “WOWS” that I won’t soon forget. After a year of jet setting, here my favourite delightful surprises that I have stumbled upon during my hotel stays:

1. A bowling alley, arcade, and huge fitness facility at the Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo

Crowne Plazas are known and enjoyed for their upscale facilities (restaurants, meeting spaces etc.) and cool décor. When touring the newly renovated Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo, I was shocked to see their underground bowling alley and arcade – which was formerly a parking garage. This space looked like a gamers-dream, and a perfect space for business and leisure guests to unwind. LPGA Golf Professional and Canadian-favourite Brookie Henderson recently took a swing and got a hole-in-one (surprise, surprise!) while playing on the mini-putt course in this cool underground space.

 

2. Piece of the Berlin Wall at the InterContinental Hotel Montreal InterContinental Hotel

I kid you not! This section of the Berlin Wall was given by Germany to Montreal for the city’s 350th birthday. I’ve been to Berlin, Germany and have to say that the piece of the wall inside the InterContinental is so lively – it really brings that part of history to life. The graffiti looks freshly painted and the markers at the base give you an informative lesson into this grime piece of Germany’s history.

 

 

3. This amazing view!

One of my most memorable trips this year was to Vancouver. I was lucky enough to be there for Canada Day and was awestruck by the nature, the number of fit people (seriously, everyone hikes and jogs), and also the vast amount of green space. Coming from Toronto – I feel as though Vancouver has a certain Euro-style: everything is modern, the buildings are glass, and it’s so clean. After hosting an SEO workshop at the Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre, I was given a tour of the property and stopped for 5 minutes to play tourist while on the building’s highest level overlooking the Pacific ocean.

holiday-inn-vancouver, Intercontinental

 

I know most hotels are just a stopping ground for travellers – folks are more concerned with seeing the outdoor sites and neighborhoods, but I would encourage you to learn about your hotel on your next trip. Some hotels are historical buildings or conversions from old factories, while some house priceless art or have entertaining game rooms.

 

InterContinental HotelAUTHOR BIO:

Michelle Dias is an energetic, A-type traveler who doesn’t travel without a detailed itinerary. She is a known over-packer who enjoys taking photos and over-sharing on social media. In her role with IHG, Michelle is responsible for Marketing and Public Relations for all Canadian hotels.

Follow me as I travel @MichelleHotelLife

Photo Credit: [Hotel], [InterContinental Photos]


Preparing for Machu Picchu: 6 Helpful Tips

Preparing for Machu Picchu: 6 Helpful Tips

machu picchuMacchu Picchu was at the top of my travel bucket list for years, yet I was always making excuses as to why it was never the right time to go, often blaming factors such as weather, vacation time, or money. It was only nine months ago that I was able to tick Machu Picchu off my travel bucket list with a big, emphatic check mark. I decided to ditch the excuses and go for it – something that usually comes second nature to me, however I was a bit apprehensive this time around because I had placed the destination up on a pedestal for so many years. Read more

How to Travel on a Low Canadian Dollar

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Canadian Dollar Getting You Down?

Yes, the Canadian Dollar is down in the dumps, but don’t let it put a damper on your 2016 travel plans! Here are some options that won’t break the bank this year:

Stay Domestic

  • Kiss the exchange rate worry goodbye and explore Canada by taking advantage of local deals created to entice American travellers to visit Canada. If you can’t find a good deal on flights, don’t fret – gas prices are ideal for road trips, which are often the best way to see this beautiful country!

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South of the Border: There’s Still Hope!

  • Local businesses and hotels in Myrtle Beach teamed up to offer Canadians up to 60% off on accommodation, dining, and entertainment as an incentive to come down south and overcome the hardship of the exchange rate. See Visit Myrtle Beach for more information.
  • If Myrtle Beach isn’t your cup of tea, several airlines have launched major seat sales to the U.S., and many major attractions have also publicized great deals and reduced rates.

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International Travel:

  • Do your research. Airlines are currently offering awesome sales, such as WOW Airline’s deals to Iceland. Other major seat sales include round trip airfares to China from Toronto/Vancouver. Aside from flights, it goes without saying that key destinations to consider are those whose currency values can make the Canadian Dollar stretch, such as South American nations like Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia. Any of the few European countries who do not use the Euro are other great options, with the exception of the UK, of course! For example, Poland has been topping the lists of top international destinations for Canadians.
  • Here are some resources to help with your research:

 

 

Photo Credit: [loonie][map][travel deals]

 

 

Tight on Time? How to See Machu Picchu in Two Days

Tight on Time? How to See Machu Picchu in Two Days

machu picchuMachu Picchu has been at the top of my travel bucket list for years, but ironically, a long list of trips have preceded my recent visit to Peru. The idea behind my procrastination was actually a very poor attempt at convincing myself that I was saving Peru for a “better time” when I could be aptly prepared. Truthfully, there never was a better time because I’m a last minute traveller in nature. And for that very reason, the task of booking the infamous trek to Machu Picchu seemed so daunting. The problem was that treks from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) get booked up months in advance because admittance to both the ancient trails and Machu Picchu itself is limited in order to preserve precious Incan infrastructure. I wanted to do the trek to Machu Picchu so badly, but the thought of booking any sort of travel more than two weeks in advance gave me serious anxiety – it was just not my style. To boot, tour companies recommend that trekkers arrive in Cusco approximately two days prior to the trek in order to acclimatize to the altitude. Unfortunately, I did not have the luxury of time, and simply couldn’t afford to spend seven days in one place, so I had no choice but to find another way to get to Machu Picchu. After going on a whim and booking everything myself, I realized that it is possible to experience quite a bit of adventure in Machu Picchu doing the trek. Read more

How to Stay Healthy on Long Flights

How to Stay Healthy on Long Flights

air-passengers2Long flights, coupled with layovers and delays can often be the most taxing part of travelling. There’s nothing worse than having to take a day of recovery upon arrival just because of an exhausting flight itinerary.

To figure out how to stay healthy on long flights, I asked Dr. Melanie Lopes to share some of her wisdom. Here are four of her expert tips:

Choose your Seat Ahead of Time

To ensure you are well-rested by the time you arrive at your destination, consider choosing a window seat so you can lean against the window to sleep.  By choosing a window seat, you can also control how much sunlight enters your area, which can be helpful when trying to fall asleep. If you are a taller individual, it might be wise to choose an aisle seat, or even better: an  emergency exit seat to provide more leg room.  The additional space in this  seating area can help prevent any cramping or soreness in your legs.

Travel Pillows are an Essential Carry-On Itemneck pillow

I would highly recommend packing a travel pillow in your carry-on luggage for lengthy bus and car rides, and especially for long flights.  The purpose of a travel pillow is to support your neck, in order to prevent it from falling into awkward sleeping postures, which will eventually lead to uncomfortable kinks.

Travel pillow styles will depend on the type of travel that you have planned. Embarking on a backpacking trip might warrant an inflatable travel pillow, which will reduce the amount of occupied space in your backpack.  In contrast, you might want to splurge on a comfortably plush pillow for a slower-paced, all-inclusive trip. It’s best that you test the pillow in the store to assess it’s firmness. You want to ensure that the pillow is firm enough to support the natural curve of your neck, but not too firm that it limits the movement of your neck.

Motion is Lotion

I always remind my patients that it’s important to keep moving, whether you are seated at work, or on a long car, bus or plane ride.  By keeping your joints moving and using your muscles, you can help prevent the onset of stiffness and soreness that tends to occur after hours of sitting. Additionally, immobility can increase the risk of swollen ankles, and a possible development of deep vein thrombosis (aka: blood clot) in the legs.  By moving around, you can help improve your blood circulation.

I would recommend trying to stretch and move at least once every hour.  

If you’re stuck in the middle seat, don’t fret!  You can do some stretches in your seat, working from your head down to your legs:

 

camel stretch

  • Start by rotating your head in circles in both directions
  • Shrug your shoulders up and down 5 times
  • Round your upper back like a camel and bring your arms in front to stretch out the area in between your shoulder blades.
  • Grab onto your seat’s left armrest and twist your upper body to the left to feel a good stretch in your low back, and then do the same to the right.
  • Clench your butt muscles, hold it for 3 seconds and then release.  Repeat 5 times.
  • Bend and straighten your knees
  • Point your toes up to the ceiling and then down to the floor, repeat 10 times for each foot.
  • Trace out the alphabet (in capital letters) with your feet from A-Z to help promote good blood circulation.

If you are able to get out of your seat, walk up and down the length of the plane and try to stretch, as noted above.

Keep Hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated with water before, during and after a flight.  With low humidity and pressurized watercabins, you can feel very dehydrated. Low humidity can also put you at risk for catching a respiratory virus. Bring an empty water container in your carry on, and fill it up once you pass security.  You can then sip on some water throughout the flight. Try to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as they can prevent you from sleeping and also increase the likelihood of becoming dehydrated.

Try these helpful tips to stay healthy on long flights and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to start your new adventure.

Happy travelling!

MELANIE LOPES

Sports Chiropractor  chiropractor

Dr. Lopes is a Sports Chiropractor in the Davisville area of Toronto.  She works in conjunction with her RMT to treat a wide spectrum of patients from babies to senior citizens and everyone in between. Dr. Lopes’ other passions include salsa dancing, travelling the world, keeping fit at the gym and photography.

You can find out more info on her site:  www.361clinic.com

Or on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/361clinic

 

 

Images: [water bottle] [stretches] [travel pillow] [airplane cabin]

Brazil Hotel Review: Iguacu Falls

Brazil Hotel Review: Iguacu Falls

Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

Destination: Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

Hotel Name: Rafain Palace Hotel & Convention Centre

Type: Resort, Family Hotels

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6 Tips for Safety in Brazil

6 Tips for Safety in Brazil

Sugarloaf_edited-1Expressions of worry and panic are the types of reactions I got when informing others that I was going to Brazil. Once I went on to explain that I was going alone, the worry began to fade and utter confusion set in, because apparently, it was inconceivable that I could even do such a thing. In their defence, however, the notion of a young woman travelling alone to a notably “dangerous” country could be a bit mind-boggling. Although I’ve never been one to be easily influenced, the combination of the worrisome reactions and warnings from online travel forums began to make me apprehensive.

Concerns for my safety in Brazil were weighing on my mind.

Read more