Going Local: Wedding Favors for the New York Wedding

Hosting a wedding in New York City can be an exciting and creative affair. The city has so much to offer: from rooftop weddings overlooking the Hudson to more intimate affairs in a hotel library or Central Park. With an infinite number of venues, caterers, planners, and designers, the opportunities are endless.

There is also the fear for some that it has been done before. If you choose the Big City for your wedding, there are many ways to make it unique and personal despite NewYork’s enormity. Specially curated wedding favors have been highlights of the occasion for celebrities, and what better way to showcase the emerging local culture, and stay away from the kitschy, touristy trumps than by gifting local New York products.

Here’s a list of perfect favors to give your guests, something they’ll actually want to keep.

1. Edibles.

I was inspired by Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz’s adorable sugar cookie gifts: Perfect for any season and able to match any theme. When in New York, I suggest Eleni’s cookies. Founder and Baker in Chief Eleni began in media and editorials, but, realizing her passion for baking, switched careers and I’m so glad she did. Since 1997, she’s been creating personalized treats available locally and nationwide.

For another sweet treat, check out Anarchy Jams in Brooklyn. Anarchy produces eight varieties of fresh, local spreadable edibles using old and new techniques. Founder and CEO Laena McCarthy grew up making traditional jams with her family in New York’s Hudson Valley.

And of course, it wouldn’t be summer in New York without Sigmund’s Pretzels, a New York institution at bars and late night scenes. Opened in 2009 in the East Village, they expanded in later years to a wholesale bakery, now found across the city at various venues. Get one kind or a variety and package them with a cute tag.

2. Cultural Fancies.

Jason Priestley and Naomi Lowde gifted Fortnum & Mason teas to exhibit her family’s English heritage. For gifts from local artists and craftsmen, I suggest checking out A Wincy Glass ’N Design based in Westbury, New York. Artist and owner Wincilla Edwards was propelled into the industry by her life-long love of drawing and painting, and her hand-painted champagne and wine glasses are a classy gift.

Similarly, Riles & Co. based in the East Village, NYC, creates hand-poured, all-natural soy candles with a vintage flair. Started in January 2014, by Cristina Toff, these candles make adorable gifts.

A happy alternative? TheLittleRagamuffin’s Cold Process Custom Soaps, based in Altamont, New York. All of their soaps are made the old fashioned way using the cold process method and a combination of natural and organic vegetable oils as well as organic herbs from their farm. With customizable (and oh-so-sweet) labels, you can get a bit creative as well.

Lastly, I’d suggest checking out Matchbox Wedding Favors from TeaandBecky. Their personalized wedding favor matchboxes are beautifully foil stamped with a phrase and are double sided with the bride and groom’s names and wedding date. Customizable to your own wedding colors, there are many options to choose from.

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GETTING MARRIED IN A MAGICAL LANDSCAPE ‘Expect the unexpected’ by Gwen Cover

jokulsarlon-glacier-lagoonJökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (Iceland’s Iceberg Bay)

Forget debating over the benefits of the sun, fresh food and the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean when Iceland can offer a wedding destination that is unique, stunning and picture perfect beyond your imagination.

Couples who choose to have their ceremony in Iceland will have a vast choice of adventure with breathtaking backdrops.

Not for the faint-hearted, but for the bride and groom who are super excited to have an Iceland wedding adventure on an island of active volcanoes, snow-covered glaciers, hot springs and mountains near geothermal pools.

Affectionately named the ‘land of fire and ice,’ this beautiful North Atlantic island can cater to your fantasy of an epic wedding day.

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The question is . . . what type of ceremony would match your fantasy?

Here are some suggestions and tips to consider!

You can opt to wed in a romantic countryside church in a valley among the backdrop of tranquility and natural surroundings. You would need to book 6-12 months in advance as there are few small romantic churches in Iceland due to their small population (just over 328,000). Therefore, careful planning, especially in the summer months is advised in order to have the church of your choice.

northern.lights.at.hotel.budir.iceland

Above – Northern lights at the famous black church for Iceland Weddings.  Budir Church Wedding Snæfellsnes Peninsula (and below).

budir.church.weddinghttps://www.hotelbudir.is/weddings/

hellnar seaside church

 Hellnar Church Seaside Country Church Snæfellsnes Peninsula.http://icelandweddingplanner.com/?attachment_id=3547

The vibrant and artistic hub of downtown Reykjavik (pronounced Rey – ka – vik) – the capital of Iceland – is also a popular choice for ceremonies.

Below is the majestic Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Cathedral (the official church of Iceland), the tallest and most prominent building in Reykjavik. There are specific requirements to marry in this church and so to avoid disappointment, you would need to plan at least 12-18 months in advance and consider the help of an Iceland wedding planner.

Reykjavik's-churchhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallgr%C3%ADmskirkja

If you would rather have your epic wedding day outdoors, there are numerous options to explore. A few are mentioned below.

Your ceremony can be set against a 60 feet stunning waterfall such as the Seljalandsfoss below.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

The fabulous advantage of this waterfall is that you can walk behind and marry right in front of it. The practical issue to overcome is the noise level. The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is remarkable with a roaring natural sound. For your guests to hear the exchange of your wedding vows, you will need a microphone and speaker system. No kidding!!!!!

seljalandsfoss-waterfall.ann

http://icelandweddingplanner.com/?s=Seljalandsfoss+Waterfall&submit=Search

There are also safety factors to consider, such as wearing appropriate shoes so as not to slip on the rocks and taking an umbrella and coat to protect yourself and your guests from the waterfall sprays. With planning and good advice, you will marvel in the splendor of your surroundings and have wonderful memories of your wedding day.

Another outdoor ceremony can be arranged in the expansive moss lava fields that have grown over volcanic rocks for thousands of years.

Hotel ION – The luxury adventure hotel amidst the moss lava fields.

ION_17http://ioniceland.is/

Or on a magical black sandy beach on the shores of Reynisfjara beach, often referred to as Vik beach, if you like the ocean, the wind, puffin birds (if you are fortunate to see them) and the sand.

Vik Beach

http://icelandweddingplanner.com/?s=vik+beach&submit=Search

Skardsvik beach - Snaefellsnes peninsula

Skardsvik beach – Snaefellsnes peninsula

Below is a Basalt rock cave at Vik beach (Hálsanefshellir Cave) where you may have a spiritual Icelandic wedding ceremony inside.

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Be daring and consider having your ceremony in the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon (Yeah…try pronouncing this!!) in southern Iceland as featured below.

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And not to mention the stunning location in Iceland’s Iceberg Bay. Officially known as Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.

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As you can see, there are many surreal backdrops to choose from.

What about the weather you may ask?

Ignore the misconception that Iceland is covered in snow. It is an island of all weathers where rain, snow, wind and sunshine can be experienced in one day!! 

The temperature can range from somewhere between 35-55 fahrenheit. Therefore, expect to cater for the unexpected by being prepared.

Engage the help of your family and the relevant professionals. Learn a little about the culture. Have faith. Do your research. Have a Plan B. And budget wisely as Iceland is a very expensive island. You will be unable to control all potential worries (such as a volcano eruption) but working alongside a wedding planner will ensure plans are in place to cater for eventualities.

Imagine having your wedding day in the early morning of the daylight hours or under the midnight sun. Simply magical!

The summer months of June, July and August are bright with daylight up to 22-24 hours. You could be eating your wedding breakfast and enjoying your reception at a seaside restaurant under the midnight sun.  How awesome is that!

Or you can opt for the quiet, snowy tranquil dark hours of the winter months with less than 4 hours sunshine each day? And maybe have the chance to observe the Northern Lights at the same time.

Hotel ION – the Luxury Adventure Hotel

ION_18

http://ioniceland.is/

Whichever location and time of year you plan to have your ceremony, your epic wedding adventure in stunning Iceland will be magical.

Have a wonderful experience as you say “I DO” with dreamy memories to last you a lifetime.

About the Editor:

Gwen Cover is your Life Design Friend. She provides the space for smart women to nurture themselves, connect with their inner wisdom/beauty, have mind pampering treatments and reinvent their careers. She is highly sought after by private clients and business owners throughout the UK/London. Her clients describe having ‘aha moments’ creating a road map for a new lifestyle and perhaps more importantly, plenty of adventure along the way.

Cover resides in London, England where she runs a successful business through coaching, workshops, writing and kindness retreats named the Life Design Salon.

 Many thanks for the permission to use the Photos above courtesy of :

Iceland Wedding Planner and Photography Team

http://icelandweddingplanner.com/

https://icelandweddingplanner.com/iceland-wedding-planning/

Photos by Miss Ann

http://www.photosbymissann.com/

Hotel ION – The Luxury Adventure Hotel

http://ioniceland.is/

Hotel Budir – Weddings at Hotel Budir

https://www.hotelbudir.is/weddings/

Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallgr%C3%ADmskirkja

Subject: See Attachment, YOU’RE INVITED! E-Invitations For the Modern Couple

The tech age has certainly changed the bridal industry and the traditions surrounding the big day. A lot of things have been made easier: you can browse for your dress, preview venues, research caterers and wedding planners, even thoroughly vet your bridal party’s progress all from the comfort of your sofa. The online marketplace has also opened up some new phenomena that are certainly altering tradition— namely, online invitations.

No, I am not talking about those silly JibJabs your uncle or co-worker is obsessed with. As of 2014, there are a number of sites that specialize in wedding e-vites. These are sophisticated, high-class designs to fit any theme and are perfect for international or large weddings, eco-conscious and new-age couples. The sites are virtually stress-free and make it easy to save time for other elements of the wedding, like cake tasting.

Here are the top three:

1. Paperless Postpaperlesspost.com

This site is the pioneer in online invitations. It’s perfect for the creative bride who has an idea and needs an easy way to put it into fruition. Offering a number of gorgeous motifs, the site has everything from save the date to bachelorette party and rehearsal dinner invitations, allowing you to match the invitations or pick from a few variant designs. The aesthetics of these invitations are so realistic and beautiful you will feel like you can pick them up off the screen. Perhaps the best thing about Paperless Post, however, is that you can personally create and edit invitations online in a matter of minutes. You can choose from over 50 font types, alter the alignment, sizing and color. If you have some family that require more tangible invites, the site will allow you to create a mixture of online and print cards.

2. Evitepostmark.com

Similarly, Evite offers several types of invitations in an array of styles and with equal flexibility. When you select an e-vite, you can choose the color, whether or not you want it to come in an “envelope,” choose the liner and stamp, customize the font, wording, and size. What’s particularly unique is that you can insert text cards for additional information as well as up to 6 photo cards to include, perfect for the couple who’s taken engagement photos and wants to show them off. The site also allows you to easily import your contact list and save drafts — in case there are too many options to choose from immediately.

3. Celebrationscelebrations.com

Need a bit more direction but want to know you’re getting a great design? While there is less editing potential here, Celebrations allows talented artists to post unique invitation designs for a variety of wedding-related events. You can narrow your search by color and style, from “hand drawn” to “textured” or “retro.” The site also allows you to choose from one or two image ports as well as offering the ability to send print in addition to digital invites with RSVPs included. With hundreds of options to choose from, you certainly won’t feel limited.

Getting Away From It All in Dazhai Village, China

When we say that we want to “get away from it all,” how much of that do we truly mean? Sure, most of us are able to do without simple conveniences like our cars or televisions for a few days, but what about truly escaping? Forgoing our cell phones, computers, and even the convenience of paved roads, all in the name of “getting away?” I never thought that I was one of those people. I have never had a desire to unplug. Now, this could possibly be due to the generation I come from; I was born during the rise of the computer. I’ve never known a life without a computer or mobile device, so I’ve never felt overwhelmed by them, or felt a need to get away from them. For me, they are simply matters in the facts of life. Luckily for me, I inadvertently put myself in a situation that would change my perspective on what it means to unplug. When I put a visit to the Dragon’s Backbone rice terraces of the Dazhai Village in Southeastern China on my agenda, I had no clue what I was in for, and boy do I thank myself for it.

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | www.VictorAmos.com

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | http://www.VictorAmos.com

My journey starts in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong. I had an extremely ambitious plan for getting my English-only speaking self from Hong Kong, across the Chinese border to Shenzhen, then on a flight to Guilin, followed by a bus ride to Guilin’s very distant train station, onto another bus to the Longsheng rice fields, ending with an hour-long hike up a mountain to my accommodations in Dazhai… all in less than 12 hours. Sometimes, ambition born of ignorance can make for the most incredible experiences. I didn’t know it at the time, but embarking on a trip like this, all in one day, not knowing a word of any Chinese language, was really a fool’s errand. I, however, was blissfully unaware, and more importantly, unafraid, so I pressed on. 

My journey started with an hour-long bus ride, from the city-center of Hong Kong, to the border crossing city of Shenzhen, in mainland China. I’d purchased a ticket upon a bus that would drive me to the border, have me disembark for immigration, then re-embark once I’d cleared immigration, and carry me on to the airport. Once I’d made my way to the airport in Shenzhen, it was a short, one hour and twenty minute flight to my hub-city of Guilin. While I was able to traverse this leg of my trip with relative ease, once I stepped off the airplane in Guilin, I became acutely aware of the adventure I had set myself on.

One thing that is unique about traveling to Guilin, which is different from my travels to other places in the world, is the lack of English. Signage baring a familiar alphabet was scarce, and the usage of a familiar word was as almost completely absent. Even with my Chinese phrase book in hand, the simple task of finding the correct bus to the train station was tumultuous. After several rounds of Pictionary with the myriad of bus drivers waiting outside of the airport, I was able to find someone who could understand my scribblings of a Thomas the Tank Engine-esq friendly-faced train, and I was set on my way.

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | www.VictorAmos.com

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | http://www.VictorAmos.com

Once I arrived at the Guilin train station, I was set in the center of a parking lot, and pushed into a sea of unfamiliarity. This juncture was different from the last, however. While at the airport I found people running away from me, here I found people pouncing on me! “Longsheng! American!” Hands pointing exuberantly at pictures of rice terraces and happy tourists soon came to encroach upon my bubble of confusion; all baring different prices and different destinations within the rice terraces. I was overwhelmed,  so I escaped to a phone booth where I could be alone with my thoughts, and more importantly, my notes. Luckily, I’d been archiving weeks and weeks of research into my Evernote app, and was prudent enough to print them before leaving Hong Kong. I knew that I needed to get on a bus to Longsheng, and I knew how much I should pay, but how was I to communicate this to the drivers? I took a deep breath and decided that I was going to make this situation work. But before I could even cross the sidewalk back into the parking lot, I heard something familiar! “Excuse me sir. Sir! Are you headed to the rice terraces?” I had never wanted to so hug a stranger like I did in that very moment. They were a group of French tourists headed the same place that I was, and they noticed my obvious disorientation and bewilderment, and invited me along. After some haggling with a driver, we crammed our 11 bodies into a 10-passenger van, and set course for the rice terraces.

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | www.VictorAmos.com

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | http://www.VictorAmos.com

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you whether the drive from Guilin took us 1 hour, or 10 hours, but I can tell you that it was exhausting. After being mentally drained, dropped in a vastly unfamiliar place, and crammed into a glorified rickshaw, I was just happy to be in-motion. Nothing else mattered. I closed my eyes and awoke to a paradise so majestic, I could have mistaken it for a multi-billion dollar set from a movie. Waking up in the valley of hand-carved rice patties was unlike anything I had ever seen, and it immediately put my journey into perspective. It felt like I was standing at the end of Earth, a place untouched by time; surely my journey, for all of its difficulties, had been worth it.

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | www.VictorAmos.com

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | http://www.VictorAmos.com

I began my ascent to the Dazhai Village with an interesting encounter. As I’m rolling my suitcase up the path, a little old lady comes running after me, grabbing my bag! It was not an unexpected experience, but it still caught me off-guard. In my research, I’d found that locals make their entire economy from tourists, and one of their industries happens to be portering your luggage up the mountain for you. Equipped with straw-and-leather baskets strapped to their backs, these women (who could not have been any younger than 50) hike with the agility of a teenager up the mountain with your belongings. At first, being a healthy, grown man, I felt a bit silly relinquishing my bag; but after 10 minutes of climbing a narrow, stone-paved path up a mountain, it all made sense. 

After meandering through a string of small villages for almost 30 minutes, I finally came to a river crossing that sat in the shadow of the Dazhai Village. I was 15 minutes way from reaching the destination I had dreamt about for months. I gathered my breath, collected my thoughts, and made the final climb to what would be my home for the next three days.

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | www.VictorAmos.com

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | http://www.VictorAmos.com

There are no hotels in the Dazhai Village, so I had arranged my hostel online in advance. For a mere $11.00 USD per day, I would have my own room, comprised of only a memory-foam mattress, a small bathroom, an air conditioner, and an incredible view! What more could I ask for? I settled into my private room and began the process of decompressing. Just having made it to such a remote place was a huge boost for my ego. It is amazing how enduring strife can make overcoming that much sweeter. I lay down, closed my eyes, and drifted away for the night.

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | www.VictorAmos.com

copyright 2013 Victor Amos | http://www.VictorAmos.com

There is no fancy lap pool here, no breakfast buffet, and no list of tours and excursions to go on. No, this place is quite possibly the most opposite you can get of that. This is where you come to do nothing. Visitors fill their days with hiking the area, reading, and engaging with other travelers. Each morning, I would head downstairs to the common area, where I would sit, order everything on the left side of the menu, and have conversation with other visitors for hours on end. We would then fill our afternoon by hiking to the smaller villages and lookout points situated on the almost endless bounty of terraces. It is the definition of “being with nature.” Aside from sending a few pictures to my friends and family using the horrendous (and extremely governmentally-restricted) internet connection, I never once thought about my trappings of modern culture in America. I did not care about the time, or the weather, or the score from the game, or any of that. I was living in the moment.

Journeying to, and staying in the Dazhai Village is an experience that draws an oxymoron from you when trying to relay your feelings. It was like I did everything and nothing at all. I mean, how can one go through an experience like this and not be changed on some level? In my adult life, there have been few experiences that have challenged me like this trip has, but it has shaped how I view myself, how I deal with and overcome adversity, and how getting away from convenience can make one a better person.

Victor Amos
Editor At Large

Reykjavik, Iceland – Honeymoon Experience Of a Lifetime

Close your eyes, imagine a place as green as Ireland, with the most dramatic water falls like Iguazu or Niagara.  Think of the most beautiful sheep of England, simple beaches and a volcanic landscape like no other, with peaks and valleys.  Open your eyes and you will be in Iceland.

IMG_0263_2 IMG_0268_2

There are so many interesting and a vast variety of things that make Iceland such a wonderful experience that I don’t know where to begin, but I shall try.  This past June while visiting the breathtaking country, the sun apparently did set but it never became dark.  One glorious evening, we were casually strolling, exploring the hot spots of the region, and we stopped at one of the local restaurant and ran into a bar at 12:00am; we couldn’t conceive that it was still daylight outside nor that it could possibly be that late.

Two of the most alluring things about Iceland are Reykjavik (pronounced rey-ka-vik) as a city and the beauty of nature all around you in Iceland. Reykjavik is the capital and a harbour city which boasts the most spectacular views, but although being a city, it provides you the comfort of a small town. Reykjavik is a city of 32,000 inhabitants. Everything from fine dining to fish skewers to Thai food is available. While we had consistently good dining experiences, the main surprise was the cost. While their main exports are wool and lamb,  almost everything else is imported, hence the incredible cost of everything there. Be forewarned, prepare yourself for an expensive but worthwhile trip!

The natural environment will blow your mind. It is an active volcanic island comprised of sand, lava fields, mountains and glaciers. The most alluring part of Iceland has to be the landscape. The natural beauty is astounding from the terrain of volcanic moss to the hot and cold thermal waters that are hard to describe but beats any jacuzzi you’ve ever sat in.

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The famous Geysers, which derive from the Icelandic verb to gush, eruptions can happen infrequently depending on the geyser but will often gush boiling water metres high in the air.

One of the strangest experience is walking on the moss-like greenery that has grown over the volcanic rock and feels like stepping on broccoli but with a sinking effect. The juxtaposed views of green landscapes and ice capped mountains is exhilarating.

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The country has made a significant recovery since its meltdown in 2008 – no pun intended. There is evidence of this when you see the number of tourists, fine dining restaurants and a booming clubbing and bar scene that was fraught with people queuing to get into the various venues.

Reykjavik has just hosted the world’s most unique music festival, Summer Solstice which reigned over Reykjavik, for the first time from June 20-22, 2014. What made it different? The sun did not set over the three days and there was straight sunlight for 72 hours. The festival attracted over 10,000 people to their Icelandic shores to listen to the likes of Massive Attack, Banks, School Boy Q, Disclosure, Múm and close to 150 other artists.

The Reykjavik fashion scene is cool, trendy and stylish all wrapped up in one. Along the main road Laugavegur there is plenty of shopping for those of us who cannot resist.

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One of my favourite stores, Kiosk, is also located on the main street, Laugavegur in the heart of Reykjavik. This store is a co-op collective with creations of 9 Icelandic designers, all who take turns to work the counter and sell their designs.  Their gorgeous clothes and accessories range from silk to organza to quirky prints. Pop in, you are bound to meet one! Kiosk, Laugavegur 65, www.kioskreykjavik.com. There are many fabulous designers, too many to name but one that made a distinct impression is Eggert, http://www.furrier.is/photo-anders-engstrom/, a furrier with edgy designs, colours and stunning outerwear.

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Fine dining exists here just as it does in most major cities.
Mar Restaurant, http://www.marrestaurant.is/, is located not far from the waterfront and serves a great seafood soup, delicious fish and good lamb.

Nauthóll, http://nautholl.is/, has the most idyllic view of the beach, cool but relaxing décor and the best gin and tonics I’ve had in sometime with a little pepper added for garnish! The food is straight from the farm to the table. Healthy but sophisticated. Be sure to order any of the salads and the fish is pretty amazing too. It’s a little outside of the city centre but well worth the ride.

Nautholl Restaurant Nauthall Outside Fish dish IMG_1518

Thursdays are American vintage car day where you will see bikers dressed like hells angels and cars from “back in the days” that will peak your interest. Let’s not forget their piece de resistance, the largest church in Reykjavik, the Lutheran church, Hallgrímskirkja. The design, is said to have been built to resemble lava.

Grill Markt, http://www.grillmarkadurinn.is/, presents a décor that is both cozy and welcoming, a beautiful bar downstairs along with cozy booths around the back and nice size tables for groups. You could have mistaken the ambiance for any trendy New York restaurant even playing some rap songs from the 90s. But the menu was the most adventurous with Whale, Reindeer and Lobster mini burgers. Puffin is eaten here as well but it seemed to be out of season therefore not on the menu. The grilled red fish was firm and yet full of flavour.

If you are non-European and more specifically non-Scandinavian, you will be inclined to find the costs of everything outrageous. That being said, this is an experience you are unlikely to experience anywhere else and worth every penny or in this case every króna.

Photos courtesy of Aimee Sealfon and Michelle Lowe

Destination Dominican Republic

They say that mamajuana is an aphrodisiac. A traditional drink of the Dominican Republic, made of rum, red wine, honey, and herbs and spices, it is a very potent drink. It is served one shot at a time. They also say it will cure whatever ails you. They say you have not experienced the Dominican Republic until you’ve had mamajuana.

So visit Puerto Plata and take a shot. Puerto Plata is a very old city, founded in the 1500s. It is the home of one of the country’s greatest heroes, Gregorio Luperon, and reminders of its history mingle everywhere with its future as a burgeoning tourism destination in the country. Travelers are increasingly attracted to Puerto Plata for its tropical location and inexpensive accommodations. You can book beachfront all-inclusive resort for 5 days, which can go for less than $400 total during the low season (May-August).

Many of the resorts in the area have some sort of timeshare setup, and the staff may pointedly court you for membership. Feel free to decline the sales pitch up front unless you are truly interested; it will not affect the quality of your stay.

Be prepared to tip frequently, beginning when you land at the airport. There will be a band playing merengue at your gate, with a tip basket set up in front of them. Porters will aggressively try to carry your luggage for you. If you don’t want them to do so, don’t hesitate to say so. If you allow them to do so, they will expect a tip. US dollars are accepted widely and may be more convenient for tipping purposes than Dominican pesos, which come in much larger denominations.

Your resort may be all-inclusive, but by all means venture away from it. Book an excursion, or ask guest services for recommendations for places to go. They can also help you arrange transportation.

I took a cable car ride up the mountain that towers over the city, Pico Isabel de Torres. Do this activity early on a clear day, so that you can enjoy the view of the city and sea sprawling far below you. Atop the mountain, there is a statue of Christ the Redeemer, a smaller replica of the one that towers over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

View from Mount Isabel

View from Mount Isabel

 

The Brugal factory, where one of the most recognized brands of Dominican rum is manufactured, is worth a visit. In the shop, you can sample – and buy – all sorts of rum. I bought 2 large bottles of dark rum to bring home. Two is the limit that you can bring into the airport from outside, but you can purchase additional rum in the airport’s duty free shop.

 

Brugal Rum Factory

Brugal Rum Factory

 

I also enjoyed a stop at the Camilo Brugal Art Gallery to view the work of local artists. The gallery is located near the city’s main plaza, very close to the Cathedral.

Dama Morena by Jorge Severino

Dama Morena by Jorge Severino at Camilo Brugal Art Gallery

On my last night in Puerto Plata, some fellow travelers and I decided to venture out for dinner. At home in New York City, I work in a vibrant Dominican community and regularly enjoy eating Dominican food. My fellow travelers and I ended up at a nearby restaurant called El Secreto, where I savored the best mofongo – mashed green plantains – and fried chicken that I’ve ever tasted. It was tender and flavorful and the perfect way to cap off the visit.

Puerto Plata’s tourism industry is not yet as developed as that of Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic’s top tourist destination, but that is to the advantage of the traveler who seeks an excellent deal. The beach, the mountain, and the sun are all there waiting for you. As is the mamajuana.

Choosing Your Wedding Paradise- 10 Reasons to Think of The Cayman Islands

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The wedding is over and you both said I do.  The last of all the vendors are paid, your TSA friendly bags have been packed and you are honeymoon ready.

So why should you choose the Cayman Islands?

Located in the western portion of the Caribbean Sea, the British territories are made up of three islands: Grand CaymanCayman Brac and Little Cayman. The population is approximately 56,000 thousand people, a mix of African-European descendants. The area is said to have about 120 nationalities, with English the primary language.

The islands are governed by the Queen of England, with an appointment every four years. The people on the island depend totally depend on tourism from the ships, hotels and visitors to support the economy. George Town, once a swamp territory, has quickly become a destination playground for the well-to-do.  Not known for party scene, the capital represents relaxing and pleasure for those looking for peace away from fast city life.

While visiting the main island, we had the pleasure of being taken around by one of the locals, Miss Babeth Shelley, our fiery Jamaican entrepreneur who filled us in on what’s what on the islands.

 From politics to beaches and to news we got an ear full.  We heard the back story of how the town of Hell received its name and saw it up close up and personal.

Aside from lounging in our resort air conditioned room, pool side bar, full service restaurant, beach side water activities include kayaking, jet skiing, sailing we also enjoyed good old fashion snoozing on the hammock by the sea. The property is on the 18 hole golf course club ran by the Ritz Carlton if your looking to relax or work on your swing, while tanning in the heat of the sun.

So if you seek a honeymoon hot spot, the Cayman Islands may just be the cure the doctor ordered for your winter blues for those who endured this last torturous season.

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Seven Mile Beach

 

Here are our top 10 reasons to go:

1.  Based on your origins of travel and preferred airlines, there is a flight everyday. Many of them are from Miami, which is just over an hour away, and many airlines also fly direct.

2. There are over 120 nationalities on the island. English is their primary language because it is a British colony.


3.  They accept foreign currency if you don’t have time to exchange your money.  

4.  Access to hotels range from luxury 7-star hotels to affordable resorts that are all-inclusive and family friendly for every wallet size.

5.  The food is magnificent.  Fresh fish from this island makes for healthy eating.

6.  The beaches, specifically Seven Miles Beach, is rated number four in the world.

7. If you’re a golfer, the courses are groomed just right for your next game.

8.  If you enjoy water activities, you have your choices of snorkeling, surfing, diving and swimming with dolphins.

9.  Night clubs and DJs are plentiful from the traditional restaurant and bar scene to a more planned list of seasonal activities (check your calendar or the tourism board).

10. The beaches are perfect for laying in the sun with a drink and do nothing.

As a bonus to your list of of things to do, Cayman Island Fashion Week for all you fashionistas courtesy of  Guavaberry Marketing-Cindy Rosan-Jones and Terry Donovan. www.caymanislandsfashionweek.com

 

For more information visit: Websites: www.caymanislands.ky | www.caymankind.com www.divecayman.ky

All images are courtesy of Victor Amos.

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Holiday Inn Resort Grand Cayman

Seven Mile Beach

Seven Mile Beach