iMi Travel Journal – Summertime is here!

Written By: Helen Benefield Billings

I know what many of you are thinking. How can I possibly consider taking off for the beach or otherwise this summer? It just doesn’t seem appropriate. Well, I say it’s time to toss this shy phase to the side. Get that monkey off your back. I encourage each of you to get out there and indulge your desire for travel and wanderlust. Explore the wonders of nature and enjoy some fun in the sun. Help stimulate the economy in our great country and around the world!

peterislandPeter Island, British Virgin Islands – Lush tropical landscapes, total relaxation and one of the prettiest beaches anywhere make this resort a top pick for that much needed summer trip. Summer rates start at $590.00 per night for double occupancy, Ocean View rooms. Rate includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. And did I mention the cuisine is out of this world? Conch fritters anyone? Perhaps a Painkiller will do the trick to clear the stressful cobwebs clouding your mind. Try mixing 1 oz. orange juice, 4 oz. pineapple juice, 1 oz. coconut cream with 2 oz. of your favorite dark rum and sprinkle nutmeg on top. Instant gratification! www.peterisland.com

Dana Point, California – Perched atop a 150-foot bluff overlooking the Pacific, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is featuring its very own distinctive Beach Bailout Package in an effort to stimulate the economy while enjoying luxurious ocean front surroundings. Rates begin at just $379 per night for deluxe accommodations. Guests will receive a welcome amenity upon arrival of a Beach Pail that includes a VIP Shopping Passport from South Coast Plaza, as well as, a Silver Anniversary card giving 15% discounts at various restaurants, bars, The Spa and Gift Shop. As far as food and drink are concerned, you just can’t go wrong with the Friday Night Seafood Buffet in Restaurant 162°. I remember with a smile our memorable meal here several years ago. Prior to dinner, you may wish to indulge in a specialty cocktail at The Bar with its dramatic ocean view and incredible West Coast sunset. Consider a Watermelon Rain made with Ketel One Vodka, Watermelon Juice and a Watermelon Sugar Rim. Sipping, not gulping is highly recommended! www.ritzcarlton.com

bocaBoca Raton, Florida – Blackstone’s newly renovated jewel by the sea Boca Raton Resort & Club, is offering an enticing Unlimited Golf Package. Rates start at $440 per night and include a Full American Breakfast Buffet daily, as well as, Golf Greens Fees at the resorts’ two 18-hole championship courses. Golf cart fees and free admission to the Golf Clinic are also part of the package. With 11 dining options to choose from on property you’ll never go hungry. Be sure to check out the newly opened sushi restaurant, Morimoto – Iron Chef Masahuru Morimoto’s first restaurant in the Southeast region of the country, currently making a colossal splash on the Boca dining scene. While you’re waiting on a table, try a Morimotini with Belvedere vodka, Junmai sake (with hints of honeyed walnuts) and cucumber slice. Arigatou, Chef Morimoto! www.bocaresort.com

Scottsdale, Arizona – Dazzling and modern are just two adjectives that aptly describe the Mediterranean inspired InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa. Presently offering The Ultimate Golf and Spa Getaway during summer months, guests will receive a 4th night free while enjoying 2 rounds of golf or 2 – 60 minute Joya Spa treatments each day. Also included in the package is a guided hike up Camelback Mountain and breakfast daily. Choose from a selection of healthful and fresh tapas offered at Mbar while sipping your favorite libation such as the Spanish Mojito. Fig and star anise (fennel seeds) give this cocktail a Moroccan twist. I can’t think of a cooler way to beat the desert heat! www.icmontelucia.com

marrwailea_maluhiaswimmer2Honolulu, Hawaii – The iconic “Pink Palace of the Pacific” is back and more exquisite than ever. The Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach, part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, received a facelift and after a lengthy closing, is once again welcoming guests into its fresh and inviting cocoon of Hawaiian warmth and comfort. The famous Mai Tai Bar is still on the scene – the unrivaled spot for people watching just steps from the beach. Signature restaurant, Azure, is serving up fresh local cuisine to the delight of diners in an open air setting. In celebration of its re-opening, the 1927 package (the year it originally opened) is being offered with rates beginning at $19.27 for one night based on a four night stay. Additional nights are from $450 for the Royal Grove Room category. Package amenities include dinner for two at Azure featuring a special chef’s menu and Mai Tai’s for two at that fabulous beach bar I just mentioned. I say, pink looks fabulous! www.royal-hawaiian.com www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury

maluhianight4Maui, Hawaii – The possibilities for fun and relaxation are endless at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. The hotel is currently offering the Hawaiian sand dollar package which includes daily breakfast for two and a fourth night free. With an oceanfront setting, amazing sunsets and the sublime Mandara Spa you’ll never want to leave this slice of paradise. Don’t miss dinner at Mala overlooking the water where classical Mediterranean and Pacific rim fare is the order of the day, or perhaps a dip in the Maluhia serenity infinity pool (adults only) at dusk with your special someone. Maui No Ka Oi! www.marriott.com

Washington, DC – See the sights of our nation’s capitol and shop till you drop while staying at Georgetown’s esteemed landmark Latham Hotel. This pet-friendly hotel is heating up for the summer with rates starting at $159 per night for an Executive Room. Foodies prepare to be wowed by visionary Chef Michel Richard’s highly decorated restaurant Citronelle. An eclectic kaleidoscope of preparations continues to surprise and fascinate diners with its open kitchen centerpiece and array of influences from French to Asian and American. Cuisine at its finest for both sides of the aisle! www.thelatham.com www.citronelledc.com

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and helpful tips regarding travel. It’s my passion in life and I’m happy to share it with you. Helen@iMiAgency.com