If you ever visit beautiful Santorini, try to book a stay at the Ambassador Hotel, located on the Southern part of the island. Staying down South worked out perfectly for us because we were away from all the traffic and tourists. This side of the island is a lot more chill - it actually would've been perfect for the kids had we brought them with us. This property is built into the cliff-side in the Southern town of Akrotiri. From here, you can see Oia in the distance (this is pronounced EE-YUH, and the town you most likely see in all the postcards around the world). You can also see Fira (the capitol of the island) to the middle part of the island.
Upon arrival, you see a small white structure on the side of the street with gates flanking each side. It may not look like much but, walking down further in, you start to see various-sized white buildings sprawled out with undeniable views in the backdrop in addition to the simple yet beautiful landscaping throughout the property.
We had a bellhop escort us to reception then proceeded to take care of bringing down our luggage. We were then greeted by two soft-spoken women, offering us each a glass of white wine native to the island.
One of the women had us sit down for a mini orientation where she went over the property details and its amenities, excursions around the island, as well as information on where we could pick up my "thank you" gift for choosing to stay with them. Hubs didn't get one as it was something special for their lady guests.
Around the Property
There's no doubt this property is very well-cared for. Not one moment did we not see anyone working. The staff was very helpful and accommodated our every need.
One of the maintenance guys on staff bears a striking resemblance to the late Robin Williams and he was a favorite of ours...he had a permanent smile on his face and was just the sweetest guy. We waved to each other every time we saw one another and he'd offer us a ride on one of the hotel carts anytime he saw us walking up the hill. He and I exchanged some words and he even taught me some Greek. I spoke to him with the words I learned whenever we'd see one another.
Also, I can't forget to mention Pepi. She's the nice blonde lady at the front desk - she played a big part during our stay - she was so helpful and very thorough explaining things around the island...where to go as well as where to stay away from. We relied on her when we needed to set things up - she booked our catamaran tour, hooked it up with a beach bag, as well as directed us to select restaurants around the island. All we needed to tell the other places were "we're guests at the Ambassador" or "the Ambassador sent us" to get a deal. The other places would have to verify it, of course. Sounds pretty cool and mysterious when you say it out loud, right?!
Each suite and villa is equipped with their own private pool in addition to the community pool located right outside their restaurant, Cabo Rosso (see below). We used our pool a couple times the whole week we were there because it was so cold! Temps start to cool down in the Fall. Still, very nice touch!
The style of our suite was very minimalistic and organic in style. Black, white, and gray make up the room's color scheme with minimal pops of color. The neutral colors made it feel even more spacious than it already was while the bits of color brought in some warmth so it didn't feel too stark. Although the room was open, it felt cozy just the same.
The room's curves were apparent throughout and played up its cave-like vibe.
Cabo Rosso Restaurant
This place was one of the fancier restaurants we've been to on the Southern part of the island and it just happened to be within walking distance from our suite. Part of our deal with the room was a free multi-course dinner - appetizer, entree, and dessert for each of us. (check out my review on the place and the food in a previous post, yummy-eats-in-santorini-greece.html).
My only regret is that we didn't dine there one more night while we were there. There was a young man that looked like a young Johnny Depp who waited on us (think of his "Nightmare on Elm Street" days)...although, hubs thought he looked more like a young Emilio Estevez in the "Breakfast Club").
We had breakfast here everyday and really loved their fresh-squeezed orange juice. It was honestly the best we've ever had. Fredducinos (these are everywhere on the island and are similar to iced coffee) were part of my meal most days. Food was ordered on a slip of paper where we could choose a la carte.
Every time we go on vacation, I book a massage at whatever hotel we stay at (if there's a spa available, otherwise, I go somewhere close by). It's one of my guilty pleasures and I try to play up the relaxation part as much as possible because Lord knows I'm going to be all over the place when I'm back to my normal schedule.
It was the middle of the week and I think I was the only client at their spa. I loved it, though, because I had the jacuzzi all to myself. Oh and, by the way, there's a separate fee to use the pool as it's not incorporated into the price of the massage. I think it costs 15 euros per pool (I only used one). It was kinda nice...I basically sat there alone and sang to myself, taking advantage of the awesome acoustics in the room. LOL!
The massage I got was nice (however, I would've preferred it just a tad bit stronger) - my therapist was really sweet and I'm not sure if she understood me when I'd tell her something. I noticed there was kind of a disconnect between us so I tried to speak a little simpler so that I could relay my thoughts a bit better. That seemed to work.
During our stay, we (or shall I say primarily me) were gifted with several things. Not only were we hooked up with a bottle of white wine at our suite as well as a multi-course meal at their restaurant but I got a really pretty necklace (which, we picked up in Fira, the capitol of Santorini), a WHOLE fancy-looking chocolate cake for my birthday (whereas we would only get 1 slice of cake elsewhere), and some olive oil lightly scented soaps during checkout.
This place was completely perfect and the views were magical in every sense...sunsets were some of the prettiest we've seen in person, the cerulean blue of the ocean was vibrant and absolutely serene, and the view of the white buildings in the distance were so beautiful (especially at dusk when the lights would come on around them). "Robin" asked me, "why you go?!...You come back again?" So I told him, "I truly hope so...hopefully sooner rather than later."
Check out www.ambassadorhotelsantorini.com/ should you plan to book a stay there!
So, technically, this was a *work trip for me. But since we still haven't gone on our annual summer family trip, my husband and I decided to take the kids to Vegas. The kids have asked a few times to take them so that they could see the sights, try the food, and watch some shows. They've been to Vegas before but only during a layover (so, yeah, that doesn't count).
I've always been hesitant to take the kids here because I don't think it's necessarily kid-friendly despite what some people might say (I mean "hello! You see sex reps everywhere passing out stripper and hooker cards).
Since this work trip was set in Vegas, it set the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
*This work trip actually took place in August 2018, the week before the kids went back-to-school.
To maximize this family vacation, my husband and kids left in the morning while I left in the evening (I had to work during the day). I don't particularly like flying apart from my family but my evening flight wasn't so bad...it was delayed a couple hours but it was nice because I was able to catch up on my emails, reading, and watching lifestyle YouTube videos I subscribe to. Plus I had a whole row to myself on the plane!
Where we Stayed
THINGS to DO
Like I said before, I don't think Vegas is the most kid-friendly but we were able to find some things to do.
We only had a few days in Vegas and we were able to get the kids to experience a few things that one would do in Vegas their first time around (sans the clubs, strip shows, drinking to their hearts content, and tables/slots). ;-P
Most days, we walked around because you never get a dull view. There's so much going on, that the kids are always looking around and taking in all the lights, music, costumed characters, and flashy buildings.
We took them to one of the many buffets in Vegas - one in particular, "Cravings Buffet" located in the Mirage. We only ended up there because we were all ravenous and it was close by - diagonally across the street from the Palazzo. I admit, the food didn't taste the best but it satisfied our hunger. The kids wanted to eat a bit fancier but we didn't quite have the time - we were on a schedule!
The interior was pretty nice for a buffet - every wall seemed to have some architectural element to it and there were splashes of gold everywhere. Each food section was separated by continent (i.e. Asia, South America, etc.) and type (i.e. desserts, beverages, etc.)
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
This was fun - the kids loved that they could take photos with the different wax celebrities. I was solo on this one - hubby needed to work on one of his real estate deals and went back to our hotel. So, naturally, I took one for the team. Madame Tussaud's is always going to be a fave go-to of mine anytime we're in Vegas. They change out their wax figures periodically and it's always fun to see who they have the next time you visit (still hoping for the royal family to make their debut...particularly Meghan Markle - whom I have a major GIRL CRUSH!)
Located right outside the Venetian, you're greeted with a photo op (which you have the option to buy prints at the end of the tour) then you follow the pathways to get to your fave celebrities.
We met up with some family that happened to be there the same time we were. We saw the Jabbawockeez show together at MGM Grand. I personally haven't seen them perform in a few years so it was nice to watch them again with the kids.
We gave the kids a few options to choose from between this, Michael Jackson, and a magic show. Ava and I chose Michael (although, I could've gone either way) and the boys chose Jabbawockeez. We were beat but I'm glad it didn't disappoint.
It was a more intimate and cozy venue than last time but it was perfect because we all had a great view.
I wish I could've taken some photos but the performers made it very clear to the audience before they started that flash photography and video were off-limits. The show consisted of different dream sequences that tied in together and the performers interacted with the audience quite often so the kids loved that. One thing they require is that they're entertained for the most part. Safe to say, the Jabbawockeez fulfilled that requirement!
Before the show started, a photographer walked around taking photos of people. Once again, prints were available for purchase at the end of the show. Normally we wouldn't buy photos but the kids wanted something to keep for remembrance.
Gondola Ride - Venetian
On our last full day in Vegas, the kids wanted to do the famed gondola ride so we walked over next door to the Venetian to indulge them. The lines were pretty long to get tickets and the actual ride took about 15 mins or so to loop around the indoor canal. Gondolas can accommodate up to 4 people so we had to split up - the boys with their dad; Ava and I with a newly married couple (how romantic for them, right?!).
We were, of course, serenaded by the gondola drivers/operators...whatever you call them. It must be nice to be able to sing all day. :-)
Bellagio Fountain Show
The creme dela creme to our last night in Vegas...after our gondola ride, we walked all the way to the Bellagio to catch their fountain show (these run every half hour in the evenings, although, you may want to check the time frames per day because it varies).
We were able to see the Bellagio from the Palazzo/Venetian area but we found out soon enough how close but so far it was. Although it was late afternoon, temps were about 104 degrees (so this made our walk seem longer than it was) and there were a handful of drunk people (a couple of them belligerent). Ava, my youngest, was getting anxious, frustrated, and really not feeling the atmosphere.
On a hot evening, the fountain show is great because not only is the water show beautiful, the mist from the water refreshes you from the heat. We all loved it and instantly felt energized!
Last Day - Wedding Work!
The day of the wedding was all business for me and my assistant, Josette. We were dropped off at Caesar's Palace in the early morning and we set up in one of their bridal suites. While I went to work, the kids were able to sleep in. Later, their dad took them to the pool one last time to cool off some more.
My assistant flew in the night before with her boyfriend to help me with this party of 10. We checked them into Treasure Island across the street from the Palazzo.
The morning of the wedding, Josette did the prep work and touch ups, while I did the rest of the face. It made the whole thing go pretty smoothly. Initially I was supposed to make over all faces on my own but that was going to push it. My call time was at 8 a.m. and they all had to be ready by 1 p.m. Yikes! Thank God for Josette!
Once touch-ups were done and clean-up was complete, we went back to our hotels to check out and my family and I headed straight to the airport. Josette stayed behind to enjoy the rest of her time in Vegas. Yes - I make sure my assistants get some fun in when they work with me!
Heading back home
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