There is a lot of truth to the idea that travelers who want to experience a more positive journey should learn a few phrases of the local language. Saying something as simple as “thank you,” in the native tongue is often appreciated by locals. If you are heading to sunny, beautiful Jamaica, learning a few common Jamaican sayings will help you make new friends and open the door to wonderful experiences.

Though you may not pick up more than a few phrases, it can be a lot of fun to learn a bit about the languages used in Jamaica, their history, and some of the most helpful. Jamaican Patois is a commonly spoken language used by the Jamaican people. It is a lovely blend of the Jamaican language and French.

As The Culture Trip explains, “the Jamaican language is largely a derivative of Spanish, English and African influences on the country through its colonial history. Although the official language of Jamaica is English, many Jamaicans speak Patois in casual everyday conversation.”

Some of the most common Jamaican sayings you may want to learn include:

  • Wah gwaan – Meaning something similar to “what’s up” and “how are you?” it is a casual greeting that you will hear almost as soon as you arrive in Jamaica
  • Irie – Irie in Jamaica is a commonly used phrase and can mean a few things. Typically, the irie meaning translastes to “everything is fine”. So, if a Jamaican asks you How yuh stay? it would be perfectly acceptable to respond with a mi irie.
  • Small up yuhself – There are some Jamaican sayings you may never hear because you may not be in crowds or using public transport. However, one of the most frequently used of the many colorful Jamaican sayings is small up yuhself, which tranlslates loosely to make a bit of room or budge over!
  • Weh yuh ah she – Because Patois and many Jamaican words are difficult (at first) for some listeners, it is a good idea to learn this phrase. It translates to “what are you saying,” but can also mean “how are you?” As one writer explained, “example: Weh yuh a seh? Mi deh try call yuh means, ‘How are you doing? I’ve been trying to call you.’”
  • Boonoonoonoos – Among the most enjoyable Jamaican compliments to attempt is this phrase, which is an expression of love. It means special person, and you can refer to your best friend, partner, child, or other loved one using that bit of Jamaican slang. It can even apply to an object that is nice, expensive or valuable to you.
  • Ya mon – This is one of those iconic Jamaican sayings that most people in the world would recognize. Mon, however, is a very common word in the Jamaican language and is used for speaking with anyone of any gender. While many might believe it sounds like an affirmative reply, it is also similar to “no problem.”
  • Inna di morrows – This is a charming way to bid farewell to someone until the next day. It translates to “see you tomorrow” and whenever you are parting ways with friends it is accesptable to toss out a inna di morrows as you wave goodbye.
  • Chaka-chaka – This is a phrase commonly used to describe something of poor quality, but should be used carefully as describing a meal or item in a shop as chaka-chaka can be found offensive

And with mention of something you may want to be careful about saying, we should consider whether or not travelers should use a lot of the Jamaican language.

For example, Patois is colorful and heavily accented, as well as full of lots of subtleties. Should you just start using it with Jamaicans upon arrival? The answer is complicated. There are certainly things you don’t want to say or hear said about you – such as yuh a crassis (meaning you “get lost”) ory ave no brothupsy (meaning you are plain rude) – and you don’t want to inadvertently use Jamaican slang incorrectly.

Terms like licky licky and beggy beggy may seem harmless, but are extremely significant to a native speaker. So, it is a good idea to learn phrases for the most basic exchanges – thank you (tank yuh), goodbye (lata or lickkle more), and so on.

As one travel expert said, “Learning a few Jamaican sayings will help you interact with local people and have more positive experiences as you travel…The idea is not to master the local language so you can speak it fluently. The effort you put into respecting the local way of speaking can come across as courteous to the local people you meet and interact with during your trip.”

If you feel a bit self-conscious about the pronunciations and unique grammar of Jamaican Patois, you can always go online and learn how to speak like a Jamaican from free and fee-based language learning resources. As one free guide advises, though, “make sure you’re speaking Jamaican Patois in a way that is respectful of the Jamaican people and their culture.”

Remember too that Jamaican Patois was, initially a spoken language and so it is very phonetic if it is written out. The consonants are different from some English usage, and the Jamaican language has an entirely unique HN sound that means a vowel has to be nasalized.

And it is always a good idea to wait for the other person to offer a greeting as a way of helping you determine if standard English or a bit of Jamaican Patois is called for.

Remember too that the official language of Jamaica (and most other islands, including Barbados, St Barts, and Turks & Caicos, among others) is English, so you won’t have any difficulties speaking with islanders. Whether you opt to stay at one of the beautiful and opulent resorts or book one of the many amazing luxury rentals, it will always pay to learn a bit of Patois and speak with the local Jamaicans in a polite and appropriate way. It can begin a lovely friendship and will certainly enhance your experience.

When we think of a lighthouse, most of us automatically drift into romantic thoughts of tranquility and a desirable sort of isolation. In these days of stay at home orders, the lighthouse may or may not have lost its rosy glow, but it is probably still an attractive concept to most. This is why lighthouse rentals may be of interest to most eager to have a unique holiday or vacation.

Can you rent a lighthouse for vacation? In a word: Yes. To understand how that is possible, it will require a brief history lesson. Lighthouses are an ancient innovation and were initially designed to warn ships at sea that they were nearing land or areas of tricky navigation. They were also installed along many inland waterways to help with navigation.

One of the original Seven Wonders of the World was a lighthouse that once stood in Alexandria, Egypt along the Mediterranean coast. Known as the Pharos it is thought to have collapsed during the third century BCE after major earthquakes rocked the entire region. Similar buildings are thought to have existed in Dover, England and the A Coruna area of Spain.

As they originally used flames to create their lights, they required lighthouse keepers to tend the flames. The keepers could be families who took turns or shifts tending the lights, or they could be keepers and assistants who used fuels of different kinds to keep the flames alive and well.

As the centuries passed, lighthouses became more complex and larger. As time passed, they became less about navigation and more about warnings against hazards such as reefs and rocky coastal areas. Thus, we now have a lot of lighthouses in areas where a large number of shipwrecks may have occurred. This is also why there are lighthouses that seem to rise out of the waters without any land beneath them during high tide periods – they were constructed to serve as warnings even farther out from shore.

With the innovation and distribution of electrical services and supplies, gas distribution, and advanced optics, the job of lighthouse keeper came to an end. Today, most active lighthouses are unmanned and do their jobs through automation and powerful electric lights. Many were sold by their original owners, and that makes it possible for lighthouse rentals, particularly lighthouse vacation rentals.

Famous Lighthouse Rentals

If you are interested in options that allow you to rent a lighthouse for the weekend or a longer getaway, there are some very famous locations. For example, the recently renovated and restored Point Retreat complex along the coast of Alaska includes a delightful bed and breakfast option. Set along the northern end of Admiralty Island (bounded on one side by famous Stephens Passage), it is a truly remarkable spot where humans are outnumbered by Alaskan brown bears two to one!

Point Retreat Lighthouse rentals are not the only options you have for famous lighthouse rentals. You can also find options to rent a lighthouse in Ireland. The Crookhaven lighthouse and the adjoining cottage have existed since the 1840s and are available for rent through the current owners. It is a four-bedroom gem that provides dramatic sea views and a location close to Cork.

While in the UK, you might also want to look at your options in lighthouse rentals on the Isle of Wight and in the Highland area. Loch Linnhe is home to the Corran Lighthouse (a functioning lighthouse) with room for ten and direct beach access. The Isle of Wight offers a stunning option at St. Catherine’s Lighthouse, where a three-room cottage awaits. Close to Carisbrooke Castle, it is a classic lighthouse with stunning sea views.

There are also options for lighthouse rentals in the U.S. Maryland is where you can stay in a lighthouse with a remarkable architectural style. Known as Rock Hall, it features 360-degree views and is a short distance from the beach. Close to Chestertown, it is an eastern shore location with an amazing wrap-around deck on the uppermost floor.

If you want a truly unique lighthouse rental, Newport, OR is home to the Lighthouse at Starfish Cove. This is a replica home that is along the beach at Yaquina Head and designed to emulate the original structure.

The Great Lakes area of Michigan is where the Eagle River Lighthouse is found. It is along the shores of Lake Superior and was constructed in the 1850s. Fully restored it is a five-star property with amazing views on onsite amenities.

On the Ground at the Water’s Edge

Naturally, if you want the same sort of tranquility, privacy and luxury that a lighthouse might offer, but you are hoping for locations warmer than Ireland, Alaska, or Michigan, you might want to just book a luxury beach getaway.

Luxury rentals in the Caribbean region give the same sort of unimpeded sea views, private gardens and grounds, and even some options for historic properties. You can find cozy one-bedroom cottages along the sands or just a bit above the shore, but you can also find estates with five or more bedrooms, multiple buildings, and stunning scenery.

There are many islands in the area, and each has its own unique culture and history. This makes it quite easy to find historic and waterfront properties with the same sort of character and isolation as a lighthouse. Islands like Barbados, St Barts, and the sites of Turks & Caicos are all great choices. While you might not find a lighthouse rental on these tropical retreats, you will find beautifully appointed properties that will make you feel more like a celebrity than almost anywhere else.

Imagine you are part of the famous Lighthouse rock group when you wake to your amazing sea views, and even premium services such as a private chef who makes and serves breakfast, a grounds team who takes care of your pool and gardens, and housekeepers who ensure you focus on savoring the scenery and sunlight. While it is wonderful if you can book a holiday in a lighthouse, you can have an even more remarkable experience in a sunny, private seaside villa.

The seasoned travel professionals at Conde Nast love St Barts an ecstatically describe a spring time visit to the island, saying that you know it is spring when “wooden schooners pull-in for the West Indies Regatta over the first weekend of May. Outdoor movie screens set up on Flamands beach and the docks of Gustavia for the…annual St Barth Film Festival,” and savvy St Barts visitors cherish this season for it’s ideal weather conditions and cultural offerings.

With some of the finest luxury St Barts villas available, it makes it doubly-savvy to book a lengthy weekend holiday to St Barts this year. For example, Villa Raisiniers sits right on the sands of Flamands Beach and is a two-bedroom luxury villa ideal for solo travelers, couples, and small families or groups eager to savor the serenity of springtime on St Barts. Villa Clementine, however, is an opulent villa with three-bedrooms and sits perched high in the Vitet area. Offering truly stunning views, it features an immense private pool area, lots of gardens and grounds to enjoy, and opulent and modern interiors that will make for a truly rejuvenating getaway.

For larger groups or families eager to book an unforgettable spring week to visit St Barts, Villa Ginger is an amazing find. In the hills above Petite Saline, it is easily among the most coveted spots. Loaded with world-class amenities, including an enormous pool terrace overlooking the views, it can easily serve as your only destination, or your flawless base, for a visit.

There are many excellent and trendy villas in St Barts from which to choose, and once you have decided upon yours, you can then start to make your plans for the optimal long weekend.

Gustavia View. Spring in St Barts
Gustavia View

Gustavia and St. Jean

Many travelers begin to explore or re-visit the island in the Gustavia area. The capital of the island, it is hardly a “city,” and is easily one of the most walkable destinations imaginable. It features an unforgettable array of red-roofed buildings and stone structures that give it an iconic island appeal. It has a lovely harbor with lots of small craft bobbing in and out, and the open-air fish market is a fun and exciting experience.

Most visitors will want to experience the shopping of Rue de la République and the Rue du Roi Oscar. After that, you can head out of town and stop at such sites as the Gustavia Lighthouse, the Col de la Tourmente, with a bronze statue of Savaku (a unique memorial to an Arawak man native to the island), and then on to Corossol. With its fishing boats, market selling handwoven hats and baskets and charming locals, it is a must.

After that, you can finish up the day in Saint Jean where you can stock up for your trip to your villa at the local markets (many packed with imports from France and other parts of Europe). There are excellent restaurants to enjoy here, including beachfront gems.

Villa Les Sables, Lorient Beach

On to the Beach

After settling in at the end of your first day, you will want to make plans to hit one of the islands gorgeous 14 beaches the next day. As one expert noted, St Barts is “so small you could easily pack in a visit to two or more in a single day.” If you are in the St. Jean area, there are beautiful beaches and calm waters in the Eden Rock area, but there is also one of the more famous beaches in the region – the one at the end of the airport runway. Here, you can thrill to jumbo jets soaring just above the waters and sands as they land a few hundred yards beyond.

If you are close to Grand Cul de Sac, you can savor kayaking, windsurfing, and shallow water fun. At Lorient, you get the opposite and there are lots of options for surfing as well as some delicious meals at the local, beach shacks (particularly JoJo Burgers).

When you head to Salines beaches, you enjoy some of the best in the entire region as well as a walk past a former salt-harvesting pond and some dunes. The waters here vary from rough to tranquil, and there are often crowds at any time of year. The Tony beaches are a bit wilder and more dramatic, and ideal if you are staying in the western areas of the islands or the hills in the central regions. Colombier is past Gustavia at the northwestern end and is available only to those who want to walk. It is well worth the half of an hour of gentle hiking and you’ll find only locals. Lastly, Gouverneur is another relatively quiet spot with areas to picnic and sparse crowds. You’ll find wild goats nearby and it is rumored to be home to an undiscovered pirate’s treasure!

View from the villa Pink Flamingo, Grand Cul de Sac

After a day spent exploring the best beaches, you may want to revisit the towns or just head to your luxury villa for a day or two of lounging in the sun or shade of your pool area. Most villas are well-designed for relaxation and will features large verandahs and terraces around the pool. There may be hot tubs, barbecue spaces, outdoor showers, and more. Inside, there are often floor to ceiling doors that allow sunlight and sea breezes inside at all hours, and most use a great room design that allows the kitchen to be open-air in design. Most have home cinemas and some feature fitness options.

With the ability to book St Barts luxury rentals, tour the towns, visit the beaches, and even book yourself some time on the water enjoying fishing, diving, or other options, your spring visit to St Barts is sure to rejuvenate you just in time for the change in seasons.

If you are considering your last ski vacation for the season, and you have yet to enjoy some time in the French Alps, consider a stay in Val D’Isere. As many know, it is a “legendary ski resort tucked away in a valley beneath the soaring peaks” of the Alps. Though it is a favorite of thrill-seekers for its amazingly challenging slopes, it is much more than a ski area.

It is also a place that blends cosmopolitan European charm with old world appeal. There is a notable “storybook charm” within the village proper, and a blend of French and English can be heard everywhere thanks to the region’s international appeal. A popular area for apres ski events, it is also full of Michelin starred eateries and dining spots, and whether one enjoys walking or hopping on free shuttles, it can be a flawless retreat for the dedicated non-skier, too.

Val D’Isere Winter Sprots

The skiing is a focus for most visitors. As one expert has written, unlike “some resorts that claim a giant ski area, the pistes of Val d’Isère and Tignes are naturally linked without the need for long and boring connecting trails or lifts. On top of that, the standard of piste grooming is extremely high and the lift system is constantly being upgraded, making short work of any bottlenecks in high season.”

This is why the area is a popular choice for snowboarding competitions in addition to classic ski events. The Critérium de la Première Neige, a Federation Internationale de Ski (FIS) competition takes place here every December. The hosting of the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics’ men’s downhill, giant slalom, and Super G events also helped to transform the area’s facilities.

Val d'isere, France
Val d’isere, France

Val D’Isere Central Village

The town’s center has been undergoing major transformations (including car-free main thoroughfares with underground parking), new pistes, underground walkways, and more. The dining in Val D’Isere is also noted for its excellence and development over the years. Today, it is a gourmand’s dream whether at the lodges close to the gondolas or the Michelin starred establishments dotting the area.

There is also a great deal of shopping to be had in town, and activities outside of skiing include the hugely popular Aquatics and Sports Complex, several ice driving academies, the snow park, and the recreation centre.

A One-Stop Hideaway

Naturally, there are many eager to have a holiday or vacation in Val D’Isere, but who also wish for the many delights of the area to be just outside of their door. There are many luxury rentals in Val D’Isere, but if you are ready to book a group or family ski holiday before the season’s end, and you wish it to be as luxurious as possible, the stunning Chalet White Pearl may be the solution.

An expansive, five-bedroom chalet, it features elegant style and unique design inside and out. The exterior uses iconic chalet lines, but covers a tremendous footprint with its multiple structures, decks, balconies, and terrace areas. Up to ten guests will savor the remarkably private setting and the stunning scenery of the Daille slopes area.

Just a short distance from the Funival funicular, thi s spacious and amenities-rich chalet is perfect for a group of avid skiers as well as those who would rather enjoy the shopping, dining, apres ski, and other activities.

Chalet White Pearl, Val d’Isere

World-Class Service from Start to Finish

While it is ideal to have such an excellent location for a private ski retreat, having the very best in services and amenities is even more important. This property is fully staffed with a private chef who makes breakfast, high tea, and dinner five days of the week. There is a host (butler) and a housekeeping team, and you even njoy the services of your private driver and 4×4 for days spent exploring other parts of the ski area, doing shopping in town, or just taking in the views.

The amenities within the chalet are luxurious and welcoming, and they include an oversized indoor pool area that features a uniquely shaped pool and lounge area. There is a spa room with the option for booking services and treatments in the chalet. There is a home cinema and a lounge area, a ski room with heated boot racks, and more.

Beautiful Interiors for Beautiful Memories

The Chalet White Pearl is elegantly designed, but does not seek to overwhelm visitors with immense interior spaces. Instead, the heavily beamed ceilings and lodge-like spaces are always cozy and warm. The great room features a large living room with fireplace, access to the balcony, and oversized seating to ensure hours of comfort and fun.  Nearby is the elegant and yet comfortable dining room, and the gourmet kitchen is yours to use (but with a chef, you may never do more than make a quick drink or snack).

One of the bedrooms at the White Pearl, Chalet in Val d'Isere
One of the bedrooms at Chalet White Pearl

Bedrooms as Private Retreats

To ensure that all bedrooms are the equally opulent and private, they are divided between the different living levels. Two are on the main living level, and both are ensuite with queen or king beds. The master suite has an enormous bath and all have balconies. There is a second master suite on the uppermost floor with king bed and luxuriously appointed bath. There is another king suite, as well as a queen suite on the top floor, both ensuite with terraces.

Don’t Miss Out on Last Minute Luxuries

Ski season is going strong in the French Alps, and many travelers book well into mid-April. That makes it the ideal time to consider a winter retreat in the utmost of luxury and style. A visit to the Chalet White Pearl or Val D’Isere in general is a great idea. Whether it is for an opulent getaway with family or friends, a couple’s retreat to a cozy apartment-like chalet in the heart of the village, or something in between, there is a great deal to be enjoyed. Noted for its dining, amazing scenery, world-class skiing, and apres ski fun, Val D’Isere should be something you experience sooner rather than later.

Exploring the islands and sights of the Caymans

If one of your top family vacation ideas is a visit to the Cayman Islands, it’s definitely a good idea. Packed with things to do, they offer some of the world’s best snorkeling and beaches. You can do island hopping quite easily among Cayman Brac and Little Cayman from Grand Cayman, or just opt to book one of the many fine, luxury villas available and stay put.

If you do pay a visit to one of the luxury vacation rentals, you should focus mostly on Grand Cayman villas (if that is your initial destination). While the two others (as well as tiny uninhabited Owen Island) are lovely and quiet, and well-worth a day trip experience, it is best to choose single vacation rentals as a base.  From there you can easily dart back and forth to the other islands and make the most of every minute.

Day One: Grand Cayman

Whether you have booked one of the island’s honeymoon villas or chosen this destination as the best of your family vacation ideas, it is likely you will land on Grand Cayman. Once settled into one of the luxury villas or vacation rentals, it is time to plan your explorations of the island. A great way to kick off a visit is to head to its most famous attraction: Seven Mile Beach.

The beach is actually a series of beaches along a 5.5 mile stretch of flawless white sand. It is often listed as the world’s best or most beautiful. If you have one of the luxury vacation rentals or honeymoon villas that line the beach, count yourself as remarkably lucky. If not, don’t fret because all of the island’s beaches are open to the public up to the high water mark (even at the most prestigious resorts).

Spend time locating the preferred areas of the beach – especially Governor’s Beach and Cemetery Beach.

From the beach you can walk or bike to the National Gallery and see its amazing gardens and permanent displays. Another of the great family vacation ideas for the first day is to head to the site known as Camana Bay. This is a village dedicated to shopping and dining and can allow you to stock up on souvenirs.

Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman island. Things to do on Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman island

Day Two: George Town

The island’s capital city is also a great spot to do some walking and explorations. Start at the National Museum and learn a lot about the history of the Cayman Islands. Nearby is the Craft Market where you can grab more souvenirs and then head to the historic district to see all of the original legislative buildings – dating to the 1920s and 30s.

A popular spot for dining in George Town is Paradise Grill which also features some snorkeling! After that, we suggest you head back to Seven Mile Beach to enjoy a bit of swimming, snorkeling and even for catching a sunset before returning to your vacation rental or luxury villa.

Day Three: Little Cayman

The smallest island, it has a historic resort, options for fishing and diving, and is ideal for renting a bike or scooter and exploring. If you want to visit a gorgeous beach, Point of Sand is your destination at the east end, and from there you see the “other” island, Cayman Brac. Look for some seashells here and head back to the Southern Cross Club’s restaurant for a meal before heading home to Grand Cayman or taking one of the villas on the island.

Little Cayman, Cayman Islands, beach of South Hole Sound
Little Cayman, Cayman Islands, beach of South Hole Sound

Day Four: Owen Island

Across from Little Cayman it is a good spot for a picnic and some water sports. It is uninhabited and pristine, worthy of a few hours spent exploring and enjoying. A lunch at the Hungry Iguana on Little Cayman is a good choice before returning to Grand Cayman later in the day.

Day Five: Cayman Brac

Larger than Little Cay it has more than two thousand inhabitants on the island and truly lovely sea cliffs. Visitors are welcome to stay at the island’s resort or take one of the luxury villas. If you are a diver, it is here that you want to enjoy your Cayman Islands diving experience, but if not, the snorkeling here is remarkable, too.

Day Six: Back to Grand Cayman

Before leaving the region, whether you are staying in one of the luxury vacation rentals or not, you will want to take some time to visit highlights like Stingray City, booking a spot on a tour that boats travelers out to the area where rays are in great abundance.

Those looking for family vacation ideas may want to pay a visit to Cayman Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter or Dolphin Discovery Grand Cayman.

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is another way to spend some time on Grand Cayman during your final day of fun in the sun. It is lovely and home to some of the island’s rare blue iguanas. Kids and adults also love the Cayman Crystal Caves.

Finish the day with a visit to Rum Point to watch a sunset and sip a cocktail while sitting on the dock or in one of the beach’s many hammocks.

Kempa Kai, the beachfront villa at Rum Point

Day Seven: Return Home and Promise to Return

Most travelers who book vacation rentals in the Cayman Islands find that there is too much to see or do during a single visit. Spending time at one of the gorgeous beaches, doing a bit of snorkeling or diving, enjoying some of the fish fry and waterfront eateries, and savoring time in luxury villas is often enough.

However, if you want to explore all of the main islands, we’ve mapped out an easy way to do so. Whether you’ve booked honeymoon villas along the way or you are going to stay in the resorts on each of the smaller islands, you are sure to appreciate the fun and relaxation that the Caymans deliver.

As one of the best family vacation ideas, it is also a good choice for the honeymoon couple, the group looking into some time in one of the luxury rentals, and even solo travelers eager to relax and recharge.

The luxury travel experts at The Telegraph have determined that Barbados is a must for those seeking the ultimate family vacation. In a recent article on the island, they noted it “won the best Caribbean island for family holidays at the Telegraph Caribbean Travel Awards,” for that year because it is “the whole package, with family-friendly hotels, activities to suit all ages and a warm welcome almost everywhere for younger visitors.”

So, if seeking family vacation ideas for the upcoming winter season, Barbados holiday rentals are a brilliant option.

Why Choose Barbados Holiday Rental?

What is it about Barbados holiday rentals that make them an ideal choice for a family vacation or larger family retreats? There are many factors at play, but the five top reasons include:

Paynes Bay Beach. Barbados Holiday Rentals
Paynes Bay Beach, Barbados.

1.  The Beaches

Ask anyone who has ever visited Barbados, and they are likely to say that the beaches make it a perfect choice for a family vacation. There are more than 80 pristine and public beaches on the island, and along the glorious Platinum (west) coast are the gentlest and safest of the lot. The top options for family vacation ideas include Alleynes Bay, Mullins Bay and Paynes Bay beaches. They are perfect introductory beaches with their gentle and warm waters. Nearby is Folkestone Marine Park that has perfect snorkeling just offshore and a playground where the island’s charming little green monkeys are seen periodically darting about the treetops.

Another of the perfect family vacation ideas for those heading to Barbados is to head to Crane Beach, which is along the southern coast of the island and which receives raves as one of the loveliest beaches in the world. The waters here are not as calm but are still safe and there are famous spots to grab picnics packed for beachgoers, with a particular island favorite being Cutters just a short distance from Crane Beach.

If enjoying a day at the beach during one of your upcoming family retreats, remember that beaches are public, but you may need to rent umbrellas and chairs. A family vacation at an island villa may come with all of the gear needed, but if not, the best beaches usually have options at main entries off parking stops.

Amazing the Harrison’s Caves in Barbados.

2.  The Caves

Not many people realize that a family vacation in Barbados might also be a nice way to discover caves that are hundreds of thousands of years old or caves that hold beautiful secrets of the sea. One of the most enjoyable family vacation ideas in Barbados is to head to the different caves.

First up should be Harrison’s Cave, which is a natural wonder in the heart of the island. Your entry includes the tram that takes you down below the ground to an island wonderland of stalagmites and stalactites. At the heart of is the Cascade pool and waterfall with amazingly clear waters.

At the northern tip of the island is another cave, Animal Flower Cave that is also hundreds of thousands of years old and a fantastic spot for exploring. It is a natural cavern illuminated by light pouring in from shafts above. It is covered in coral rocks and features tidal pools where you can see the creatures that give the cave its name, the colorful sea anemones that look like flowers when they open and show their beautifully colored tentacles.

Portrait of a young deer. Barbados Wildlife Reserve

3.  The Wildlife Reserve

Another ideal Barbados activity for family retreats is the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. It is an authentic “encounter” experience where kids of all ages can come face to face with the island’s wildest natives. Visitors can see iguanas in all sizes and colors, young to old tortoises, and the charming green monkeys. There is a daily feeding experience around 2pm, where the monkeys appear in great abundance.

There is also a hiking trail to an old Signal Station from the Reserve, and here visitors can enjoy amazing eastern coastal views and even pack a picnic.

While enjoying Barbados holiday rentals with kids, visitors can also have additional wildlife experiences that include swimming with the native sea turtles. They are in great abundance around the island, and many boats head out to spots just offshore where the turtles are found. Of course, those on family retreats may find that properties along the southern coast (with beachfront) may find that sea turtles are nearby and interested in scraps from local fish vendors. Oisten’s Friday Night Fish Fry is a good way to roll a tasty meal into a wildlife experience, too, as you can buy the fish pieces, feed the turtles and then head to the fish fry for a meal for yourself.

Ibiza Beautiful sunset in Cala Conta, Ibiza,near San Antonio. Best Photographic Spots Ibiza
Sunset Cruise, one of the most popular boat tours

4.  The Boating

A family vacation in Barbados is not complete until at least one experience on the water occurs. There are catamaran cruises, with some of the most enjoyable heading out of Bridgetown and along the western coast. There are also submarine rides, a “pirate” ship experience known as the Black Pearl Jolly Roger Cruise, and many families and groups enjoy booking a half or full day of sailing aboard the Cool Runnings catamaran that includes time snorkeling and swimming.

Though it is not, technically, boating, paddleboarding is a great experience during family retreats in Barbados because of the safety of the waters and the abundance of learning opportunities. Whether your villa has a beachfront with boards or you book time with a provider, it is an unforgettable option for kids of almost all ages.

Sunset at Villa Nirvana, Barbados

5.  The Accommodations

Barbados holiday rentals are another of the top five family vacation ideas for those heading to the region. As already noted, the island is famous for welcoming visitors of all ages, and especially kids. However, if it is to be a family retreat in the pristine and perfect conditions the island offers, villas can provide a one-stop holiday. Many offer beachfront locations, private pools and grounds, and some have full household staff that can handle the cooking and cleaning.

One fine example is villa Nirvana situated on the famed west coast of Barbados. Nirvana is an exemplary and contemporary styled 5 bedroom beachfront villa with private pool and panoramic sunset view and Caribbean sea views. With a sandy perch, guests will be pampered by the villa’s private chef.

When it is a true family holiday, Barbados is a perfect choice for your next getaway with the kids and even the whole family.

As the travel experts at Culture Trip say, the British Virgin Islands or BVIs are “a tropical paradise and a travel destination steeped in glitz and glamor,” and those who have already visited know that the islands are packed with fantastic dining options. Ranging from high-end eateries to beach shacks, they all feature unforgettable flavors that emphasize the local cuisine as well as the wide variety of cultures that have passed through the area.


It is fair to say that the tagline for the restaurant, Cocomaya, says it all: “restaurant, bar, lounge, beach.” It is an authentic beachfront eatery that has booths and seating directly on the sand. It is Virgin Gorda’s newest offering and blends elegance with beach chic. As the website for the restaurant explains, visitors will want to try the “signature cocktails in our open-air bar, or drink them right on the sand!  Enjoy an exotic blend of Asian and Latin cuisines with creative twists such as: Spicy Calamari Salad and our Tempura Shrimp Lettuce Wraps; or try our Sushi, including our famous CocoMaya roll.  Follow this with Crispy Aromatic Duck, Steak, and much more.”

The travel enthusiasts at Forbes say a bit more about it, describing its design as “chic” and the menu as a good balance of shared places and heartier fare that includes grilled steaks and Korean rice cakes. There is an extensive wine list as well as the restaurant’s signature “Cojito”.

Reservations are essential because the restaurant is frequently busy and those who want the beach seating will have to book it well in advance.

The Tents of Tortola

According to the travel enthusiasts of Afar, there “are more flavors to be found in the BVI than there are islands, where freshly caught seafood and locally grown produce are served up in delicious fusions of Spanish, East Indian, African, French, Dutch, and English cuisines. Must-tries in the BVI include johnnycakes, fish and fungi (fried fish with cornmeal and okra), and the aptly named Painkiller (a fruity and frozen dark rum cocktail).” And, the Tortola area is noted for its many roadside eateries (including tents and trucks) that offer many of these specialties and classics.

Consider that there are lots of “chicken buses” and roadside BBQ stands that locals and travelers enjoy. Some of the most recent favorites include:

·       It Bang Good – Often found near the Village Cay Marina it specializes in barbecue and pork, and stays open until around 8 PM, offering hearty sides and everything from ribs to dove pork.
·       Dareo’s –  This is usually found “at the edge of the Road Town Softball Field and across the street from Elmore Stout High School,” where locals and travelers come to savor the delicious dishes from this roadside tent. Specializing in chicken and ribs, it is noted for the deliciousness of its BBQ sauce.
·       Panche’s – This is a long-standing option that stays open until late into the evenings. It has classics like fried chicken and French Fries, but it also has delicious fish dishes and more.
·       The Pit – This is a chicken bus that is open only two nights a week and parks near the Roundabout area. It serves up grilled lobster, BBQ and more.
·       Nito’s – Among the first chicken buses, it is in Baugher’s Bay and is famous as a local destination for authentic island comfort food

And as those experts in Afar also note, you can drive or explore the “main road from Sea Cows Bay to Road Town and you’ll come across numerous roadside tents selling everything from fresh fish to local fruits. The best stands are located close to Carrot Bay, where you can find steaming pockets of fish cooked in foil and fresh-squeezed mango or guava juice.”

In addition to those already noted, some of the other “must try” eateries in the BVIs include, Deadman’s Beach Bar and Grill on Peter Island, Hog Heaven, the Sugar Mill Restaurant, the BananaKeet Café, Dove Restaurant and Wine Bar and the Pavilion at Little Dix Bay.

If an elegant evening meal is what you seek, Brandywine Estate is a famous spot with great views and delicious dishes,  and at the opposite end of the spectrum is Island Roods with its laid-back vibe and delicious lunches.

Dining in the British Virgin Islands is an essential part of a fun and memorable trip and you now have a long list of good options to consider.

Ranked in the top five resorts throughout the Alps, St Anton in Austria is an gem. It is part of the famed Arlberg region, which receives some of the highest snow fall every year, and features a charming town full of luxury shops, restaurants and accommodations. Reaching St Anton is remarkably easy as it is served by a railway that deposits guests in the town center.

A pedestrian friendly location, it also has free public transportation. Of course, many are eager to visit for the town’s association with the creation of modern skiing. As the birthplace of Johan Schneider, it is at the epicenter today’s ski world.

Not a place to just sit and let time pass by, St Anton has been continually expanding and improving over the decades, while somehow managing to preserve its mountain village tone. It focuses around a central street, the pedestrian-only Dorfstrasse. Lined with excellent cafes, bars, shops and restaurants, it is also home to many authentic and original structures.

Today’s travelers can stay in any number of premium hotels or large and private villas. Most of them can provide the perfect accommodation during the winter ski season or the summer hiking and outdoor season.

What to Do in St Anton

The skiing is an essential activity, but there are also hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and other options. However, you might never get past the “cult status” of St Anton in Austria as the skiers’ paradise. It has more than 300km of pistes and another 200+ km of off pistes options. There are more than 85 lifts and a nice blend of easy to extreme routes and options. Yet, as one expert cautions, “However, even the ‘normal’ routes, such as those down from Schindlerspitze and Kapall, should be approached with caution by all, including advanced skiers. “Extreme routes”, like the 52 down the Kandahar-Galzip piste are best tackled with a ski guide. In fact, with so much terrain to explore, and so many people competing for fresh tracks on it, hiring a guide is the best way of maximizing St Anton’s potential.”

Though the mountain has been equipped with truly pioneering lifts, including the Galzig gondola build as a Ferris wheel system, a guide is often the best way to get the very most out a first-time visit to the region.

Après Ski in St Anton

When you are not skiing, hiking or perusing the shops, you will want to dig into the amazing domestic food. The area is noted for its après ski and nightlife options thanks to those two early post-ski bars. The Mooserwirt is a most as it is a place famous for being the “world’s baddest bar”. The Krazy Kanguruh has been refurbished since the 1960s but still retains its unusual and hip vibe.

If you want a quieter après ski experience, the Underground is just off the Galzig piste. It has been a popular spot for more than two decades. Lastly, Anton Bar is where the locals go, including the ski guides and instructors, making it perfect for picking up some tips after your time on the slopes.

Dining in St Anton

Dining here is an adventure and you can enjoy affordable treats at spots like the Ulmer Hutte with its lovely scenery. The pricier Alber’s Rodelalm and Robi’s Rodelstall are actually mountain huts that offer outdoor lunches and great vintages. Yet, it is the Hospiz Alm with its stunning cellars and local specialties or the Verwallstube with its amazing gourmet dishes that will put the perfect touch on your ski holiday.

If you have decided to book a lovely, luxurious ski chalet for your next Alpine Holiday, you may be wondering the best way to go about packing for your trip. After all, you need to consider bringing or renting your gear, just how formal or casual your accommodation, and what you intend to do during time off the slopes. While many après ski spots are the utmost in casual, many of the world’s Michelin recognized and starred restaurants are also in locations like Courchevel, Val d’Isere and Meribel. Naturally, a great sweater and comfortable slacks may not work in a five-star restaurant.

So, what sort of tips can you use when packing for your Alpine holiday in the winter months? We have several very useful ideas to put to work:

Invest in Excellent Layers

Whether you are going to hit the slopes all day or you are one of the party uninterested in skiing but eager to explore the surrounding villages, towns and many premium amenities, you will save space and headaches by investing in good layers. High end base layers, also often described as long johns or long underwear cannot be beat in terms of moisture wicking, warmth and performance. Rather than purchasing bulkier or specialized tops and bottom, look to the best materials, such as silks or silk blends, and go with simple crew collars or even turtlenecks to get the most use out of a single layer of clothing.

Don’t forget to pack plenty of good socks and underwear too as most Alpine holidays involve getting active, overheated and showering once or twice daily. This can make for a laundry situation if you do not bring a good assortment of warm socks and comfortable underwear.

Remember the Sun Block

So many travelers end up with sunburns, deeply chapped lips and all kinds of skin irritation simply because they did not recall that an Alpine ski holiday is outdoors and in the brightest conditions. The wind and cold temperatures will also tax the skin, so pack a very good lip balm, sun screen and moisturize the skin daily.

Wear Your Ski Jacket

A major mistake so many skiers make when packing for an Alpine holiday is to keep their ski clothing separate from their other gear. You can spare yourself a headache or two by planning on wearing your ski jacket during your journey to the Alps, and by investing in lightweight ski gear designed with premium materials. You can also wear any hiking or walking boots you might think of packing for travel too, as this saves a tremendous amount of room and gives you a much firmer step as you arrive at your destination and walk from the vehicle to the chalet or accommodation. Don’t forget to think of your ski helmet as a vessel for holding gear and toss items like gloves, goggles and other items into it when packing.

Reconsider Normal Clothes

What sort of everyday gear are you thinking of bringing? If you are hitting the slopes each day, don’t pack a lot of street clothing as you are unlikely to wear more than one or two outfits. Additionally, if you are going to stay in a private chalet, you can be as comfortable and casual as you’d like throughout the après ski hours. Yoga pants, sports clothing, even pajamas and slippers may be adequate for the vast majority of time spent off the slopes and in the private lodge. Do bring one or two outfits if you are going out a few evenings or sampling the gourmet eateries, but skip the heels, the jewelry and the accessories.

Unusual Items for Alpine Holiday

Of course, if you are booking a chalet or a luxury accommodation, you will want to save room for your swimsuit, flip flops and cover. Don’t forget you also want a more stylish beanie or hat for the times you are off the slopes. Many people forget the non-skiing hat!

With these simple tips, you can easily pack only the things you need and will use. You will also avoid forgetting some gear that many wish that they had, but left at home.

A year ago, on the morning of September 6th of 2018, last minute preparations were taking place to prepare for the unimaginable. A menacing and historic storm that grew stronger by the minute and was taking a more direct and worrisome path that only optimized it’s destructive nature and impact.  The worst possible scenario was being eclipsed every few minutes by a scarier and more foreboding forecast. A storm that was previously expected to deliver winds of 140 to 150 miles per hour was now forecasting 185 mph sustained winds and guests of over 220 mph.   To put that in perspective, an EF-5 Tornado (the highest scale possible) has winds over 200 mph and be known to wipe out towns in a few minutes.  Hurricane Irma became a sustained tornado that would last for hours ripping roofs, uprooting trees and turning debris into missiles capable of embedding into concrete.

The next few hours were solely focused on immediate survival. The afternoon, as the winds subsided, would be focused on survival for the next few months and the very first steps in rebuilding what was destroyed.  Decades of progress became mere memories within a few intolerable hours.

In the year since Irma, encouraging green shoots of recovery are appearing as the devastated Caribbean islands are rebounding and welcoming guests. The following is a quick synopsis of each island’s condition and what to expect for the upcoming 2018/2019 winter travel season.

St Martin

The island of St Martin took the hardest hit from Hurricane Irma. The absolute center of the eye passed through Simpson lagoon and Cupecoy.  While the culinary town of Grand Case on the northern half of the island never experienced the desired reprieve of the storms eye, but rather being subjected to hours of the continuous and incessant battering of Irma’s the strongest winds in the eye wall.  Even though the island handles Category 1 and Category 2 hurricanes with relative ease, this epic storm was supernatural and devastating.  Countless lives were changed forever.

On the one year anniversary of the storm, St Martin is in the midst of a renaissance.  The island is open for business since May of 2018 and welcoming guests. The beaches are beautiful. The turquoise blues of the Caribbean still tantalize and restaurants still mesmerize with their unique French Caribbean flair.

What to expect?

St Martin’s full recovery will take a few years but the island is certainly a good destination for 2018/2019 winter travel.  The essence of what our guests enjoy, the luxury standard of their own villa, restaurants, beaches and rental cars are returning with many more options relaunching each month.  St Martin’s villas are historically quite reasonable when compared to other Caribbean destinations. They have always delivered a superior experience at a fraction of the cost of other islands. This year, the expected promotions will be quite alluring.  Guest will be able to enjoy a luxurious vacation at their own private luxury villa that rivals the costs of cruises or 4 star hotels.

Please note that villas will not relaunch unless the villa is of equal or superior standard to it’s condition prior to the hurricane.  Many new villas are launching and many are returning fully renovated and upgraded.

Beach Conditions

The beaches on the Caribbean side are in very good shape and have more sand then in previous years.   Mullet Bay, Baie Rouge, Baie Longue, Plum Bay beach are in great shape.  Orient beach is rebounding.  The Sargussum seaweed issue that is affecting the Atlantic side of most Caribbean islands is expected to subside in the winter months with the cooler water temperatures.  We expect that Orient Beach will be a good option starting in November once the beachside restaurants return


Grocery stores are full. The infrastructure (water and electricity) are reliable and WIFI is returning to the previous standard.  Rental cars are available. The island is safe.


A good selection of restaurants have been opened and many more are scheduled to return.  Simpson Bay has fully returned back to normal. Porto Cupecoy handled the storm quite well and Mario’s Bistro is open and welcoming diners.  Grand Case restaurants have re-opened such as Spiga, L’Auberge Gourmand, Rainbow, La Villa and Bistrot Caraibes with others expected to re-open soon.  Bikini restaurant on Orient Beach has re-opened with Kontiki and Kakao expected to re-open in late November.

Overall Recommendation

St Martin is a good choice for winter travel as long as guests understand that the island is still rebounding and that sights of devastation will be readily apparent. But the destination has several key advantages. The island offers direct flights from major eastern US seaboard cities.  St Martin is well rounded and not a sleep destination. There is always something to do and nearby islands to visit.   The value of a St Martin vacation is uncomparable to other destinations.  And lastly, and most importantly, you will be contributing to the renaissance of the island.

St Barts

The island of St Barts had the most remarkable comeback imaginable. Within a month or so, the roads were cleared and the island was in remarkable shape.  The beachfront hotels did sustain major damage due to storm surges. They are expected to be back in operation late 2018 with some hotels (ex. hotel Guanahani), scheduled to relaunch in late 2019.

Nevertheless, Winter 2018/2019 is shaping up to be a very busy season with many of the restaurants and shops relaunched and villas in fabulous shape.  The primary issue affecting the island is the lack of flights into nearby St Martin that we expect to dramatically improve starting in November 2018 with expanded flight schedules by most US airlines.

Overall Recommendation

The destination is highly recommended for travelers.  The recovery of St Barts is well ahead of expectations and guests should enjoy the relatively same standard of vacation as in previous years with just a few exceptions.


The picturesque island was devastated during hurricane Irma however, the villas on the island held up remarkably well. The villas rebounded within a few months and have been welcoming guests.  Many of the villas are self-sustained with generators and cisterns so their reliance on the island’s infrastructure is limited.

Overall Recommendation

If you want to relax and decompress on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, then Anguilla is an ideal choice. The villas are in great shape and access to the island is normalizing once flights to St Martin resume their previous timetable.  Seabourne airlines offers direct air service from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The interior of the island has not seen much progress over decades so it’s current condition is not of significance to visitors.


The rebound of the BVIs has been complicated by the lack of government help and organization. While St Martin and St Barts have been greatly assisted by the French and Dutch governments, the BVIs have not received the same assistance.

The re-emergence of the BVIs will take more time than other destinations.

Overall Recommendation

We are advising guests to defer vacationing in the BVIs until a stronger recovery takes hold. At this point in time, there is limited information and assurances for guests to properly plan and enjoy a vacation for the winter 2018/2019 season.