Portugal Group Trip October 9 – 14, 2022

Sunday, October 9, 2022

5:40am – Welcome to Portugal. Meet and Greet with our driver & guide at the Lisbon International Airport (LIS)

We will be directed to our private vehicle and transferred directly to our hotel for the next three nights – Hotel PortoBay Liberdade

11:30am – 3:30pm – Food Walking Tour in Lisbon with a local foodie guide

A big part of the beauty of Lisbon lies down on its citizens, in the way these people relate with the city, in the way they gather in the alleys and patios, in the way they taste their coffee and pastry side by side with beautiful monuments of singular architecture.

We’ll visit Bairro Alto, one of the most emblematic neighborhoods in Lisbon. Here, you can feel the “Fado” while the tram passes by. From the belvedere, we’ll be able to feel the heartbeat of the city and to admire its beautiful hills. We’ll continue our tour going down the hill to the area of Chiado, an important centre of commerce and cultural activity – it was here that writers and philosophers used to gather to discuss their ideas back in the early 20th century. In front of the historical “A Brasileira” café, we’ll pass by the statue of Fernando Pessoa drinking his coffee, watching people passing by. From there, to Baixa Pombalina, the historical centre rebuilt after the earthquake in 1755. The new wide streets and 5 floor buildings gave a new dimension and image to the city.

During our stroll along the city, the group will have the opportunity to stop and taste the local gastronomy. We will visit traditional stores, taste pastries and “petiscos” where the locals eat and end our tour with a toast with a glass of “ginjinha” (sour cherry liqueur) at a century-old tavern. Overall we will have 4 tasting stops and approximately 8+ tastings and several wines or beverages.

7:30pm – 11pm – Portugese Fado Night

Fado is Portuguese and was born in Lisbon. It was adopted by Portuguese culture and is now a symbol of Portugal, with a strong tradition in the historic districts of Lisbon. The three-hour show features talented artists – a singer and two musicians (Portuguese guitar and classical guitar) – performing Fado and the music that makes it the national song. It is said that Fado combines nostalgia (saudade), Portuguese pride, hope and conformism in a musical style epitomised by Amália Rodrigues. On account of these unique characteristics, Fado has now been declared part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This evening we will experience a portuguese dinner with a fado live performance.

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Iceland Group Trip October 8 – 12, 2022

October 8 | Arrival day | Reykjavík Food Walk & Sky Lagoon

 

Welcome to Iceland! A private driver will wait for the group by the arrival gates at KEF Airport upon arrival and take you to your Reykjavík accommodation. You’ll be able to leave your bags here while heading out to explore the downtown area of Reykjavík. At noon you’ll be met by our partners who’ll take you on a private Reykjavík Food Walk. This is a great way to get to know the culinary culture of Reykjavík as well as getting to know the city better. The 3.5 hour tour includes food from 5 restaurants in Reykjavík. No one will walk away from this tour feeling hungry! After the food tour you’ll be able to check into your accommodation at Hotel Alda to freshen up a bit and find your bathing suits, and then you’ll make your way to Sky Lagoon. Here you’ll have Sky Admission to the lagoon which gives you private changing and shower facilities. Their unique 7-Step Ritual will leave you invigorated and relaxed in equal doses. You won’t even notice the hours disappear as you make your way through their plentiful premises. Make sure to check out the in-water bar and waterfall!

Activities: Private airport transfer, Private Reykjavík Food Walk, Sky Admission to Sky Lagoon
Meals included: The food walk will provide a hearty feast!
Accommodation: Alda Hotel in their Deluxe Twin / Single rooms with breakfast

October 9 | South Coast Highlights, Northern Lights

This morning your private guide will pick everyone up from the hotel to embark on our south coast adventure. Firstly we visit Seljalandsfoss waterfall and then head to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. We continue our drive further east where we’ll soon start to see the spectacular glaciers and Iceland’s highest mountains. We make some further stops as we make our way to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, one of our favorite locations in Iceland. The lagoon will be sure to leave you in awe, with its icebergs floating around this enormous lagoon, and washing up on the black sand shores of Diamond Beach. After all this we come to our accommodation for the night at Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon. We have dinner in their restaurant which showcases traditional Icelandic dishes. The hotel is also in a great location for seeing the northern lights on a clear winter’s night and a northern lights wake up call option by the front desk staff.

Sights: Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach
Breakfast: Hotel breakfast is included
Lunch: Not included
Dinner: 3 course dinner at Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is included
Accommodation: Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon in their Deluxe Twin / Single rooms with breakfast

October 10 | South Coast Highlights, Glacier Hike, Northern Lights

After a good night’s rest we set off on another amazing day. We make our way to do the glacier hike on Falljökull glacier. We are heading onto the glacier to hike all the way up to the astonishing ice fall of the glacier exploring the glacier textures, features, and walk on the bottom of its crevasses. It’s truly a unique experience. The glacier hike is about 2.5 – 3 hours in total from the time we leave the car geared up with the necessary glacier equipment until we’ll be driving away from the glacier. Once we come down from the glacier we start making our way back west, stopping by Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon for an easy walk along the featherlike ridges of the canyon. We then come to the roaring Skógafoss Waterfall before coming to our accomodation for the night at Hotel UMI.

Sights: Falljökull Glacier (glacier hike), Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Skógafoss waterfall, other sights as time allows
Activities: Private Glacier Hike with all glacier gear provided
Breakfast: Hotel breakfast is included
Lunch: Not included
Dinner: 3 course dinner at Hotel UMI is included
Accommodation: Hotel UMI their Standard Twin / Single rooms with breakfast

October 11 | Golden Circle, ATV Tour, Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse, Northern Lights

We have an exhilarating start of the day today as we meet with our partners for their ATV tour that takes us out on the vast black beach to see the DC3 plane wreck. From here we make our way into the Golden Circle, starting with a unique lunch inside the tomato greenhouse farm Friðheimar. Next we get to witness the force of Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most powerful waterfalls. From there, it is only a short drive to see the wonders of the geothermal area of Geysir, the original exploding geyser, and its surrounding steam vents. It’s here that we end the day by staying at the fantastic Hotel Geysir. The hotel only opened its doors very recently, and has numerous lounge areas to relax in and a fantastic restaurant on site.

Sights: ATV Tour to DC3 Plane Wreck, Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse, Gullfoss, Geysir
Activities: Private 1 hour ATV Tour, Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse Lunch (all inclusive lunch besides alcoholic beverages)
Breakfast: Hotel breakfast is included
Lunch: All inclusive lunch at Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse is included
Dinner: 3 course dinner at Hotel Geysir is included
Accommodation: Hotel Geysir in their Standard Twin / Single rooms with breakfast

October 12 | Departure day | Þingvellir National Park, Blue Lagoon, Airport Drop off

We leave our accommodation and first visit Þingvellir National Park which holds historical and geological significance being the site of the first known parliament in the world, where many of Iceland’s most important decisions were made. It is also a place of incredible beauty, sitting in the rift valley of the separating North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. From here it’s time to visit the Blue Lagoon where we’ll relax in the blue waters of the lagoon, the perfect way to end an Iceland vacation. After the lagoon we’ll have lunch at Lava Restaurant before your guide drops you all off at KEF Airport for your outbound flight.
Sights: Thingvellir National Park, Blue Lagoon
Activities: Blue Lagoon Premium entry, airport drop off
Breakfast: Hotel breakfast is included
Lunch: 2 course lunch menu at Lava Restaurant (by Blue Lagoon) is included
Dinner: Not included (in the skies!)

Tour Summary

Inclusions

  • Accommodation in the above mentioned hotels and room types, for a total of 4 nights with breakfast all mornings
  • Private South Coast & Golden Circle 4 Day Tour, in our luxurious vehicles, led by one of our wonderful guides for the duration of the 4 days
  • Private Reykjavík Food Walk
  • Sky Admission to Sky Lagoon
  • 3 x 3 course set dinners (at Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon, Hotel UMI and Hotel Geysir)
  • 1 x All inclusive lunch at Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse (all inclusive lunch besides alcoholic beverages)
  • 1 x 2 course set lunch menu at Lava Restaurant by Blue Lagoon
  • Private Glacier Hike (2.5 – 3 hours) with all glacier gear provided
  • Private 1 hour ATV Tour to DC3 Plane Wreck
  • Private airport transportation
  • Blue Lagoon Premium Entry
  • All taxes and booking fees
Exclusions
  • In-city transportation (such as taxi transfer to and from Sky Lagoon)
  • Lunches unless otherwise stated
  • Beverages unless otherwise stated
  • Covid testing (if still needed)
  • Flights

Pricing

  • $2699 USD per person (double occupancy room)
  • Single Supplement $499 USD

If interested, contact Amy at amy@charmandawe.com

Our Iceland Adventure

Home to both volcanoes and glaciers, Iceland has long been known as the land of fire and ice. Located just below the arctic circle, this small island country is filled to the brim with geologic wonders. Imagine spouting geysers, active volcanoes, toasty thermal pools, booming waterfalls, and magnificent otherworldly terrain. Opportunities are vast for both exciting adventure and sublime relaxation.

With all of this in mind, I couldn’t imagine a better destination for a group of women to explore and experience, disconnect and reconnect.

I eagerly started to curate an itinerary and I chose early October as the timeframe for the trip so that we would be traveling off-season while hopefully still being able to experience comfortable temperatures with a chance of seeing the northern lights.

The itinerary came together pretty quickly and before we knew it, October was here and it was time to depart.

After a quick non-stop flight from Boston, our group of fifteen women arrived into Reykjavik. In no time at all we were exploring the downtown streets and what better way to acquaint ourselves with the city than to enjoy a culinary tour. As an added bonus Miss Universe Iceland 2020 was our tour guide, and a phenomenal and fun guide she was!

After a full day and night spent in Reykjavik we met our private driver guide the following morning and headed south of the city to begin a new day of sightseeing and exploration. From our very first stop of the day until our last, every site we stopped at was spectacular, and to add a little heart pounding adventure into the day we rode out to a black sand beach (complete with a plane wreck!) on our own ATVs.

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The Grand Moon Palace – Cancun, Mexico

Mexico is one of my favorite destinations for the all-inclusive experience. In fact, it might be my favorite. The people, food, culture, history, and opportunity for outdoor adventure, continue to amaze me with each trip.

I’ve had my eye on the Grand Moon Palace for awhile. I’ve sent many clients to this resort and was excited to finally have the opportunity to experience it for myself (well, with my husband and children in tow). Would it live up to its #2 ranking on TripAdvisor and the rave reviews from my clients? Let’s find out…

After a painless 15 minute transfer from the airport, it felt as though vacation had started in no time.  Upon check-in, we were provided with our resort bracelets, which doubled as a room key; a detail which I learned to appreciate immensely, never having to search for a separate key card.

(The Lobby)

Opened in 2017, The Grand Moon Palace is the newest member of the Moon Palace resorts in Mexico. It is the high-end luxury resort option adjacent to its sister resorts (Moon Palace Sunrise and Moon Palace Nizuc).

We spent the first 3 days checking out the resorts amenities and I’m not sure we even made it to half of the property in that time. The Grand Moon Palace is immense in size with 16 restaurants, 9 bars, 9 pools, a waterpark, spa, bowling alley, and much more. At any given time there were at least a dozen options to keep busy or relax. Our room was located on the ground floor in building 88, a great location close to the lobby building and all of its amenities.

(Building 88)

One of my absolute favorite features of the resort was the SPA which was beyond amazing! Seriously, without question, one of the best resort spa’s I’ve ever experienced. I was able to enjoy both a facial and massage during the week. In addition, I took full advantage of the spa’s awesome hydrotherapy circuit and pool area.

(Spa pool with hot and cold plunge pools)

Where did my kids want to spend most of their time? The Kids Club, of course, with its arcade, mini-golf course, bumper cars, ropes course, laser games, two-story play structure, and on-demand snacks. The best part is that parents can drop their children ages 4-7 at a supervised playroom any time from 9am until 10pm at night.  My husband and I were able to enjoy glorious child-free meals multiple times during the week.

(Ropes course at the Kids Club)

And what about the food!? I would rate the food as very good to excellent. We appreciated the variety of restaurants (our favorite was the Lebanese) and our only disappointment was not being able to try them all. I also thought the child-size buffet section in the Grand Buffet Restaurant was a nice touch for pint size travelers and my kids definitely enjoyed getting their own food.

Ultimately, I would rate the Grand Moon Palace as an excellent choice for a range of travelers from couples to multi-generational families. The variety of activities is sure to please and the service was top-notch. I’m not one to travel back to the same hotel twice, but I am looking forward to my next trip to this hotel.

St. Lucia – One Destination with Limitless Inspiration

St. Lucia is a top destination for both couples and families. This incredibly lush island is home to the majestic UNESCO world heritage site Pitons, rainforest dotted by waterfalls, and beautiful palm-fringed beaches.

Located in the Lesser Antilles between Martinique and St. Vincent, St. Lucia remains one of the most active geothermal islands in the Caribbean. Travelers can even experience Sulphur Springs which is essentially part of a collapsed volcano crater (coined a “drive-in volcano”) in which visitors can relax in hot springs and thermal mud pools.

During our visit to St. Lucia my colleague and I had the pleasure of exploring the southwest portion of the island which is home to the town of Soufriere, the Pitons, and a handful of luxury boutique resorts including Ladera, Sugar Beach, Anse Chastanet, and Jade Mountain.

Our first stop of the day should have been for a leisurely hike on the popular Tet Paul Nature Trail which is a 45 minute loop with great views of the Pitons, but unfortunately, mother nature had other plans for us. Our trip coincided with the tail end of St. Lucia’s rainy season and it poured for a good 1-2 hours that morning.

After a quick change in plans we made our way to the adults-only Ladera Resort which is located approximately 30-40 minutes from the island’s Hewanorra International Airport (UVF). Perched on a volcanic ridge 1000 sq. ft above the Caribbean Sea and on 15 acres of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ladera is home to 37 open-air rooms and suites all with private plunge pools overlooking the Pitons.

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Saint Kitts and Nevis – A Warm and Welcoming Two-Island Nation

Saint Kitts and Nevis (officially the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis) are two mountainous islands located in the Lesser Antilles of the Eastern Caribbean. These two islands, separated by a 2 mile wide channel called “The Narrows,” are both of volcanic origin with the highest peaks of Mount Liamuiga located on Saint Kitts standing at 3,792 feet and Nevis Peak on Nevis standing at 3,232 feet.

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The White Barn Inn – Kennebunk, Maine

The White Barn Inn has been a beloved local landmark in the Kennebunkport area for over 150 years and it’s no surprise why. Part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, this legendary Inn boasts an award-winning farm-to-table restaurant (YES, it’s that amazing!), meticulously designed rooms with luxurious amenities and thoughtful touches (the mini-whoopie pies were a divine welcome!), a serene pool area, and a top-rated spa! Let’s not forget the perfect location halfway between town and the beach which are both within walking distance or a quick bike ride via the Inn’s complimentary bikes.

My husband and I enjoyed an amazing getaway to this historic and charming Inn. Here are a handful of pictures from our stay…

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