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Little CajunMama (LCM) and I decided that we needed to get away from our men folk and take a girls trip. I was looking forward to spending quality one on one time with my daughter. She was excited to just GO (her favorite word). We both love the sun and beach, but needed someplace that would enable me to relax and yet also provide activities for a ten year old. My friend Denise told me about her visit to Cheeca Lodge, a 27-acre luxury resort that was ideal for couples and families.
We flew into Miami and had arranged for a ride with Emerald Transportation. I didn’t want the hassle of renting a car and navigating through Miami traffic. LCM imagined herself as a tween tv star and having a “driver”. The drive from Miami to Islamorada took about two hours, so of course my little tween star fell asleep on the ride. As the car slowed and turned into the drive of Cheeca Lodge, her little head popped up and her eyes were big as she looked around.
Cheeca Lodge is set on the Atlantic side of Islamorada and offers a variety of lodging, from deluxe rooms to bungalows. There is an onsite spa near the adult pool, a number of restaurants, tennis courts, a small golf course, a family pool, a kids club, water sports, and of course a beach. Now, be aware, the Florida Keys are full of coral and rocky shores. If you are looking for a pristine white sandy beach that slowly dips into the water, then you will be disappointed. However, there is a man-made lagoon that provides a safe place for little ones to snorkel on the property.
Our room was a courtyard view, but it was newly renovated. There was no need for us to have an Ocean view, which costs more, because they only time we would be spending in the room was to sleep. LCM was excited to see that the bathroom had a soaking tub with doors that open into the bedroom. She thought it was cool.
I signed LCM up for Camp Cheeca, the property’s little people activity center. My plan was to take advantage of a spa treatment to start the trip off. This is what she had to say about Camp Cheeca in her travel journal:
My mom and I got to go on a mother daughter trip to the Florida Keys. We stayed at Cheeca Lodge Resort.
My favorite part was Camp Cheeca. Camp Cheeca is a really cool place. At first I didn’t want to go because there were probably going to be 5 year olds. But, it turned out the kids are all ages. You do arts and crafts, swimming, fishing, and so much more!
But besides Camp Cheeca they had tennis, snorkeling, kayaking, a lot of stuff. The food was excellent and I made some friends and we did everything together! And also they had a sunset cruise. Where you go and watch the sunset on a big boat. If I could go to Cheeca Lodge again, I would. –LCM
We really did have a wonderful time together. One afternoon, I took her on her first kayak trip. She was nervous, but once we were out on the water, she loved it.
Cheeca Lodge does charge a $39 resort fee, but when you look at all that is included in that fee, it really isn’t that bad. It even includes wifi, which at some hotels can cost as much as $24 a day. Plus, greensfees at the golf course are included. Cheeca also offers a variety of kid entrees at each restaurant, and at an affordable price also. The average kid’s meal was $5US, and the adult prices weren’t too bad for a resort either.
There is so much to do and see in the Florida Keys, but this trip to Cheeca Lodge was about mom and daughter. I have special memories with just my daughter and I know that when she grows up, she will always remember this special trip that was just about us.
Update 01/01/2009: Cheeca Lodge experienced a fire in the main building on New Year’s Eve. The Resort is temporarily closed for renovations. We’ll update this page when the resort reopens for business.
It is time for another random giveaway at TravelingMamas.com. This one is sponsored by The Traveling Channel. They know how much we love Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, so they sent us a few goodies, which we are passing along to one of our readers.
Tomorrow night a new episode of No Reservations airs, and I would like to say I would be in front of the tv watching, but I’m going on a special trip to the Florida Keys with my daughter for a few days. My fingers are crossed that all the tropical weather will stay away while we enjoy some mother/daughter time.
This episode of No Reservations is particularly special because Tony travels with the FAN-atic casting call winner, Danya Alhamrani, to get a real taste of Saudi Arabia. She’s a 33 year old Saudi Arabian woman who won a chance to show Tony around her country. You can learn more about this episode at The Travel Channel’s official site.
And now for the winner of our random giveaway. Congratulations to Donna Kozar. Be sure to check your email so we can get your mailing address to send your Travel Channel gift pack.
Remember to visit TravelingMamas.com for travel information and first-hand accounts of destinations, and Boycott the Staycation.
Everyone knows my home state, Louisiana, is near and dear to my heart. It also makes me feel so good to see New Orleans really starting to bounce back and bring in the visitors. An upcoming event, Tales of the Cocktail, is considered to be one of the most spirited events of the summer. Hehe. I like that. Spirited.
Ann, founder of Tales, invited me to Commander’s Palace last week to debut The CajunMama Cocktail to a few notable bartenders in the area. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. These are professionals, and a mixologist I am not. The actual purpose of the gathering was to learn how to properly mix a Sazerac, the official cocktail of Louisiana. So as an official Sazerac Ambassador, I invite all of you to New Orleans to partake of this potent libation that offers a taste of Louisiana history in each sip.
I’m partial to the sweeter things in life, so of course The CajunMama Cocktail is on the sugary side of things. This drink is perfect after dinner or for an evening with a breeze. I’ve put together this video to show you how simple it is to enjoy this rich cocktail. Garnish with flakes of Godiva Chocolate for added richness.
The CajunMama Cocktail:
1 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
1 oz Kahlua
4 oz Half and Half
Stir ingredients. Serve over ice in a crystal old fashioned glass. Garnish with Godiva Chocolate flakes. Enjoy!
If you watched the video, you’ll notice I mentioned a random giveaway for Boycott the Staycation. Yay! The winner for this giveaway is SavvyHousewife. Congratulations.
Ko Olina. Just the word emits sighs from people when I asked for directions, as if I would be visiting a sacred place.
“Oooh. You are going to Ko Olina? Niiiiiiice!” was the typical response from locals on Oahu.
I was so excited. I had a rental car and I took off to explore the west side of Oahu, a place I had yet to experience, since during my last visit to Oahu I got LOST. The drive was very easy from Honolulu International Airport. I turned off at the Ko Olina exit and made it to a guard gate.
“What the heck place was I going to?” I thought, just as the guard waved me through.
Paradise. That’s where.
Ko Olina is a gated resort community located on Hawaii’s west side and was once the playground for Hawaiian Royalty. Seven tropical lagoons gently fold into the pristine shoreline creating serene sandy beaches, tranquil turquoise whispers of the mighty Pacific, and endless opportunities to linger in paradise. And linger was just what I wanted to do.
I checked in to my studio room at Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club and was excited to see a small kitchenette topped with granite counters. The bed was stacked high with fluffy pillows and my balcony view of the ocean was breath-taking. I began to relax as soon as I dropped my bags.
The Marriott Ko Onlina Beach Club isn’t just a hotel, it is also part of the Marriott Vacation Club. Visitors can choose to lodge in a studio (like me), a one bedroom complete with dining room and full kitchen, or as big as a three bedroom villa that can comfortably sleep ten.
This place is set up perfectly for anyone, from romantics to entire families. Plus, the rooms are so quiet, I didn’t hear any neighbors. I didn’t feel like I needed to leave for anything.
Travelers can purchase supplies along their route to Ko Olina, or take advantage of the many restaurants and stores. There are spa services offered inside the fitness center, and me being me, I just had to indulge in a lomi lomi massage. And I was so glad I did. I chatted with Gabriella about Ko Olina, and she admitted to me that her parents who live on the island like Ko Olina so much, they purchased a few weeks for themselves. Now if that isn’t a statement of how wonderful the place is, I don’t know what is.
I spent some time enjoying the gorgeous crescent shaped beaches sunning myself in one of the chair cabanas that are available for rent. The double chairs were all taken and I settled for a single, which I must say was very awkward . The rope that holds the shade up ends up right between the legs. Yup. A rope, right between the legs. Did I say, awkward? Next time I would go for a sunburn in a regular chair, but it sure did feel cool to sit in one of those things with the shade covering me like a celebrity. Supa Stah!
Nearby the beach area is Kolohe’s Beach Bar and Grill. It was the perfect break from the sun to sit at the bar and sip on a cool concoction of spirits. I didn’t drink too much because I didn’t want to spoil my dinner. After the stint with the beach chairs, I went to Chuck’s Steakhouse for a wonderful meal, complete with an enticing view of the pool and beach areas.
After dinner that evening, I took a stroll down the beach walkway and sat under a palm tree gazing at the stars. I could see so many at Ko Olina. I kept thinking that it was such a different feel from Honolulu and Waikiki, which definitely has that city feel, yet with a laid back attitude. Ko Olina really felt like paradise.
My time spent there was too short, so I’ll have to plan another visit, with Mr. CajunMama in tow. We can enjoy the view, the atmosphere, and of course spend time with each other. Or we could even return with the entire family. The kids would enjoy the pool, beach, and just being in Hawaii. Marriott’s Ko Onlina Beach Resort is definitely a little slice of paradise for couples and families to enjoy.
We said there would be prizes throughouth the month of July and anyone who commented during this period would be eligible to win. This is the first of many random giveaways for our readers.
Congratulations goes out to Lindsay, who commented on the LUSH Giveaway about her childhood vacation to the the Grand Canyon and also to Michael who commented on our Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations post.
Lindsay will be getting a gift certificate to Cracker Barrel Restaurants that is good for dinner for two at any of their nationwide locations. My family likes to stop at Cracker Barrel when we go on any road trip. Their official website offers a handy map to help travelers plan their route and stops along the way.
Michael is the lucky recipient of Gloria Gaynor’s Greatest Hits CD, which includes the classic hit song, “I Will Survive.” This is the perfect theme song for any parent contemplating that summer road trip.
Congratulations to our random winners. Be sure to check for an email on where to send a mailing address. Don’t worry, you’re still eligible for other great prizes being given away this month. Remember to Boycott the Staycation and make some travel memories.