Before we look ahead to 2022, we take some time to look back at 2021 and recap some of our favorite travel places and travel products.
Tamara’s Favorite Things for 2021
This post contains affiliate links, if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. All opinions are our own.
- Peak Design travel tripod https://amzn.to/3EUTXVz
- Yoozon self-stick and tripod with Bluetooth remote https://amzn.to/3e6J4Vf
- Bose Sleepbuds (new version) https://amzn.to/3s4fPKI
- Delsey Paris Clavel https://www.delsey.com/us/en/p/clavel-30_-exp-spinner-upright-403845830.html
- Vista Verde Ranch, Steamboat Springs, CO https://we3travel.com/vista-verde-ranch-review/
- Terramor Outdoor Resort, Bar Harbor, ME https://we3travel.com/terramor-outdoor-resort-review-glamping-near-acadia/
- Canaves Oia Epitome, Santorini, Greece https://yourtimetofly.com/where-to-stay-in-santorini-for-couples-canaves-oia-epitome-review/
- Virtu Suites, Naxos, Greece https://yourtimetofly.com/virtu-suites-where-to-stay-on-naxos/
- Torre de Palma, Alentejo, Portugal https://yourtimetofly.com/6-must-stay-at-wine-hotels-in-portugal/
Kim’s Favorite Things for 2021
- Kindle Unlimited (https://amzn.to/3q5Fv72) 6 mos for $30 or $9.99 / mo
- Audible (https://amzn.to/3F4XYqP) free 30 days then $5.95 / mo first 3 premium plus – then $14.95 / mo
- Knack Bag (https://knack-bags.pxf.io/ZdqLgR)
- Aerie Offline Leggings with side pocket (https://rstyle.me/+dmgDhgr9GEdzOEd3DyhtSQ)
- Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle (https://stuffedsuitcase.com/taste-washington/)
- Safari West (https://stuffedsuitcase.com/safari-west-santa-rosa/)
- Monterey CA / Hyatt Regency (https://stuffedsuitcase.com/things-to-do-in-monterey-with-kids/)
- Manor Vail Lodge
- Herdade da Malhadinha Nova
Full Episode Transcript
[00:00:00.190] – Kim Tate
Looking back on 2021, here are a few of our favorite things.
[00:00:16.170] – Kim Tate
Welcome to Vacation Mavens, a family travel podcast with ideas for your next vacation and tips to get you out the door. Here are your hosts, Kim from Stuffed Suitcase and Tamara from We 3 Travel.
[00:00:30.950] – Tamara Gruber
So Kim, happy New Year, happy New Year.
[00:00:34.150] – Kim Tate
I can’t believe it’s 2022. I know we can pretend it’s Happy New Year.
[00:00:38.920] – Tamara Gruber
Happy New Year to all of you guys listening.
[00:00:41.380] – Kim Tate
It’s going to be a busy end of the year. I can’t believe 2022 is here. I feel like in some ways, everyone complained about 2021. We were like, March, March, like, joking about how long March and April lasted. And now like, okay, it’s 2022. Where did 2021 go?
[00:00:59.930] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, it’s so much of a blur, but I recently put together a couple of Instagram Reels, and I was looking back at the travel that I did do in 2021. I’m like, you know what? It was actually a good year. And I feel a little guilty saying that because I know that we had more freedoms than others did when it came to our ability to travel last year. But it actually was a good travel year. We were able to not only finally do our big anniversary trip, but we did a big road trip in the spring, and then you and I had that amazing trip to Portugal in the fall, so it actually really rounded out.
[00:01:35.150] – Tamara Gruber
I agree to be a nice year in that respect. That just block everything else.
[00:01:39.810] – Kim Tate
I know the same thing. I was looking back on the year and kind of a little surprise like, oh, yeah, that happened that year. And that happened that year. It’s nice to see that we did get to have some good experiences, especially since we have the two kids that are going to be gone soon. So that was nice. But I thought that with 2022 being here and 2021 wrapping up, it would be a good time to kind of talk to our listeners and share some of our favorite things.
[00:02:10.020] – Kim Tate
And as we already laughed, we won’t sing it. But I think we’re all thinking of that song right now in our head.
[00:02:16.050] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah, I’m not singing that for a recording for sure, but yeah, I feel like we’ve done this in the past, but every year brings new things. Obviously, we’ve gone new places and seen we’ve experienced new hotels all that. But I feel like every year I get a little bit better. As a traveler, I have a chance to try some new products and you find one thing that you love, and then you find that next thing that you love. And so you end up with a pretty good kit of your travel, like, go to types of products.
[00:02:45.730] – Tamara Gruber
So what would you say are some of your favorite, like, you always pack it now kind of things.
[00:02:53.910] – Kim Tate
I went off on a little crazy, not necessarily tangible but sort of tangible. But I’ve been using Kindle Unlimited for a few years now, and so that makes first on my list because I don’t know if everybody knows about it. There’s probably a lot of people who are into ebooks that know about it, but traveling with books just really adds a lot of weight and space to your packing. And since I’ve joined Kindle Unlimited, I absolutely love it because I’m always finding books. There’s a lot available to read, especially if you’re in the romance chiclet genre.
[00:03:26.830] – Kim Tate
There’s a lot available, and it’s well worth it for me. I normally get some kind of like yearly payment deal that I’ve gotten on Black Friday before. Right now they have it where it’s normally $10 a month, and you can have ten books checked out at a time, I think. And then you just return one of the books and you can get new ones. And so it works really convenient. You’re not limited to the number of books you can read a month, and when I’m reading a lot, really, I can go through quite a few.
[00:03:55.860] – Kim Tate
So it works out well that way. But I know right now they’re doing an end of the year special. I don’t know how long as of recording this. They have six months available for $30, so you can do that or you can do a 30 day trial and then it’s like $999 a month. But I really love Kindle Unlimited.
[00:04:11.290] – Tamara Gruber
That’s nice. Yeah, I have always been a big reader, but I kind of slowed down a lot in some recent years, and 2020 took me a while to kind of get back into the groove of things, but 2021. I think I’ve read 70 books I use good reading challenge they give you. And so I’ve been able to see that I actually read a lot more than recent years and so I could use that. Although I will say I make really good use of the library, but the only good thing is recently I have been using just regular hardcover books because I used to have a Barnes and Noble nook, and it used to sync with Overdrive, which you would be able to download free ebooks from the library and overdrive.
[00:04:58.370] – Tamara Gruber
And then it just stopped working. And then I was just using overdrive on my phone. But then I got tired of reading on my phone because I was trying to break away from some screens and I’ve debated so many times. Should I just get the basic Kindle, like the paper white? I don’t want to color screen and all that. So maybe I’ll go that route.
[00:05:16.650] – Kim Tate
I use my ipad and I love it because my ipad works for everything and then reading on it is so convenient. So I really like my ipad and I do the same thing. I can borrow ebooks from my library, and now they have it available where you can actually get it through Kindle as well. You don’t have to just use overdrive. So if I am getting a book from my library a lot of times, I’ll use it with my Kindle app as well. So just a heads up.
[00:05:39.620] – Kim Tate
That’s becoming an option for a lot of people. Cool. So what about you? What’s one of your favorite things from 2021?
[00:05:45.930] – Tamara Gruber
I have a new thing for 2021. It’s something that I had my eye on for a while. And last year, Glenn was like, what do you want for your birthday or anniversary or something? And they come around the same time, and he’s like, You’re so hard to buy for. I’m like, what are you talking about? I always have so many things that I want, but I don’t want to buy myself. And so I told him about this tripod that I have my eye on, and he actually bought it, which I probably never would have broken down and gotten it myself.
[00:06:12.200] – Tamara Gruber
But it is amazing. And actually, you saw it when we were in Tempe and really liked it as well. But it’s called the Peak Design Travel tripod, and it comes in like, I think aluminum or carbon fiber fiber one the price point. You’d have to hit the lottery to hit that one. But I really love the aluminum one. It’s so much smaller than my other tripod. It’s also just so much easier to use and set up because I used to have one of those tripods where we had to kind of unscrew the leg, extend it and then screw it back to tighten it.
[00:06:43.040] – Tamara Gruber
And it just took forever. And the legs were always falling off and they were uneven, and it was really frustrating to use. So I hardly ever used it. And now I find I still don’t always travel with the tripod because I’m still not entirely comfortable, just like setting it up and using it when there’s a lot of people around. But it’s really great when I am working with a destination and I need to make sure I get photos with me in it or the way that we used it, like, for you and I, and it also has a little attachable clamp that you can use for your phone.
[00:07:12.840] – Tamara Gruber
So it’s not just for the regular camera, and that makes it even better. So I love it. It’s called the Peak Design Travel Tripod, and that one has been good.
[00:07:22.850] – Kim Tate
Yeah, I actually bought that after our trip together. The thing that was for me, I have a Manfrotto, which I spent a good chunk of money on. Yeah, mine was nice. It was the same kind of flip button legs, so the legs were really easy to open and use.
[00:07:39.230] – Tamara Gruber
[00:07:39.590] – Kim Tate
But it was just so bulky. And when I saw you pull out your tripod and saw the size of it, I was like, yeah, okay, that’s what I need, but yeah, it was nice. So I spoiled myself for my business at the end of the year and bought one of those. I’m just waiting for it to arrive. Still good.
[00:07:54.010] – Tamara Gruber
Well, nice little tax write off then. Exactly. Yeah, that’s good. What else is on your list?
[00:08:00.160] – Kim Tate
Well, mine is another. So going with the Kindle Unlimited. I’m also paying and using Audible and Audible membership, and I find that I really liked that when I was kind of walking and exercising. Of course, you and I have talked about our love for podcasts and our listeners love podcasts, obviously. But audiobooks. I find a lot of joy with them. And I also find that audiobooks that are more like self inspiring and self help. I like listening to, especially at the beginning of the day. Like, if I’m in the shower because it kind of gets me revved up for the day.
[00:08:32.220] – Kim Tate
So Audible is kind of cool. For a while. I was really turned off them because they changed their whole plans. And now they have, like, a plus plan that’s a little cheaper than a premium plus plan. I’ve been on the plus plan. Let me just say, I don’t necessarily recommend it. So if you’re going to want to do audiobooks, just budget for the premium plus because the plus is really limited library of options. But yeah. So Audible is kind of a big thing for me. I tried for a while I tried an app called Scribe, and it’s like Scribd.
[00:09:04.120] – Kim Tate
So if you guys are, like, anti Amazon or trying to find something different, Scribe does ebooks and audiobooks. And so it’s like one payment and you can kind of get both sides of it again. For me, it was just too limited of a library to match as much as I want. So that’s kind of the other thing I named. And I think Audible is great for when you’re traveling. And you’re listening to audiobooks, too, like on the airplane or something.
[00:09:27.150] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. I need to get my mom to start to listen to audiobooks because she’s had a lot of trouble. She’s actually losing her sight. And so it’s really super frustrating for her. And she does like to read. And so I tried to talk to her about audio books, and she’s like, no, I can’t just listen to them. And I’m like, Well, maybe it’s time to give it another shot. So I was thinking about getting her subscription or something like that.
[00:09:49.900] – Kim Tate
I know they have right now. They have your first three. Like, if you sign up for the Premium Plus, you get your first three months free or something, and then it’s $15 a month. So just a little idea there cool. So what’s next for you?
[00:10:03.100] – Tamara Gruber
I’m going to say another tripod thing, and I’m going to bring it up. I didn’t realize that everyone wants to make these kinds of investments in a big, professional type of tripod. But there’s something that I bought on Amazon a couple of years ago, and I bring it with me all the time. It literally fits in my purse. It’s really tiny. It’s super easy to use, and even if you just want some family photos occasionally or something like that, it’s really helpful. It’s actually called the Yuzon Y-O-O-Z-O-N.
[00:10:33.600] – Tamara Gruber
And it’s a selfie stick as well as a tripod, so it can extend to be a selfie stick, or it can sit as a tripod. And it also has a little Bluetooth remote, which is great to be able to then take those pictures where it’s not just on a timer. And you’re doing something silly, and it’s been so useful. I used it around a friend of mine. She was like, oh, I need to get on those. And every time I use it, someone comments. It has drawbacks like, it’s not great on uneven surfaces.
[00:11:01.110] – Tamara Gruber
It only extends so high, but it does hold the phone in both a vertical or horizontal position, and it does the basics. And so I find it really useful. I feel like it’s one of the things that all of us aren’t great at getting, like, family photos. We’re often like, there’s everyone in the family except a mom or everyone except dad. So it’s just a nice way to be able to capture some of those memories with something that is not bulky and doesn’t take a lot of time to manage.
[00:11:29.780] – Tamara Gruber
So I’m going to go with my techie kind of one.
[00:11:33.150] – Kim Tate
It’s funny that you mentioned that because I have the exact same thing. I don’t know if I have that brand, but I have kind of a selfie stick tripod, and I actually just used it on a recent trip when I was by myself and having to get content for myself again like yours. My only limit is that it’s not that tall. So that’s why the peak design like a tripod. It goes all the way so you can get a much more at eye level type photo, whereas the other one is much lower.
[00:11:57.900] – Kim Tate
But if you’re sitting or something along those lines, it works really well. And yeah, I have a similar thing. I use it, I’ll use my Apple. Iwatch and I guess it’s not called Iwatch. But anyways, the Apple watch and see if I’m framed up. And then I can use that as a shutter as well. But I also have the Bluetooth remote. Yeah, they’re pretty handy.
[00:12:18.220] – Tamara Gruber
That kind of thing might convince me to finally get a watch.
[00:12:21.310] – Kim Tate
Yeah, I love it.
[00:12:22.180] – Tamara Gruber
I always try to offer that to me, and I’m like, I don’t need it. I don’t want another thing, like distracting me.
[00:12:27.960] – Kim Tate
It’s so nice for the selfie because you can use the good camera on the back of the phone, because the front camera when you can see it isn’t as good. So you can use the good camera on the back and you can put a three second delay. And so then you can make sure your frame and then hit it and then kind of do your little pose. So it works well. Yeah. It’s a good trick.
[00:12:46.110] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. About that. Yeah.
[00:12:48.620] – Kim Tate
It works out well.
[00:12:49.720] – Tamara Gruber
All right. So we’ve been very techy. Do you have any non techie things?
[00:12:53.610] – Kim Tate
Well, sure. I’ll go with one of my non techy things. I fell in love with a new pair of leggings, and I think I’ve mentioned it recently on one of the podcasts. But my daughter because of my teen daughter. She is absolutely in love with the brand called Airy, and they’re partnered with American Eagles, so they have a lot of, like, bras and undies and stuff like that. But they have these amazing leggings, and Lizzie actually prefers them over her Lululemon leggings and thinks that they’re just as comfortable and they don’t have show through or something.
[00:13:25.260] – Kim Tate
I don’t know how long you can wear them or wash them without it, eventually having see through, which is always an issue. But so far we haven’t had any issues, and she’s in love with them. And they make a pair of leggings that has side pockets. And so when I’m traveling, I absolutely love it because my cell phone can stick in there. Or if I want to have, like, an ID or if I’m going to go out for a run or something, I can stick stuff in there and it’s really useful.
[00:13:51.350] – Kim Tate
So I’m absolutely in love with those. And they’re fairly affordable and super soft and kind of nice feeling. And then they even make ones that Lizzie really likes. It’s like a Crosswave at the front. So it’s kind of a V form, and it makes you kind of look really cute. So that’s my non techy thing. It’s a clothing thing. And I think for flying when you’re not trying to look really amazing, they’re super comfy and paired with a nice soft T shirt and a cardigan. It’s like my go to flying outfit.
[00:14:23.610] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. To me, leggings. Why are they still making them without pockets? And why didn’t they do pockets from the very beginning?
[00:14:30.310] – Kim Tate
Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. I have a pair that I used to get that were Aries when they first came out and she fell in love with them, and they don’t have a pocket. And every once in a while, when I accidentally wear those, I’m like, why do I even still have these in my closet? I need to go not do this anymore because it’s a real let down. Like, where do I put my phone now? I mean, I have a cardigan with pockets, but still it’s not ideal.
[00:14:49.770] – Tamara Gruber
I hear you.
[00:14:51.330] – Kim Tate
Great. Yeah. So what’s next for you?
[00:14:53.650] – Tamara Gruber
Well, I know I said no tech, but I’m just going to quickly tell you that a couple of years ago, for a long time listeners, I was all about the Bose Sleepbuds.
[00:15:03.870] – Kim Tate
[00:15:04.150] – Tamara Gruber
They’re like the little tiny. I don’t know, like, just little headphone buds that go in your ear, and they really just are noise canceling to block out noise and snoring and stuff when you’re traveling. It’s especially helpful. And a couple of years ago, mine stopped working like they stopped charging, and I tried to get them replaced. And then it turned out they recalled everything, and they actually gave me a full refund, even though I’d had them for almost a year. So I got a refund from it.
[00:15:33.880] – Tamara Gruber
But I was so disappointed because it was like, the best product because I have a hard time sleeping, and I often need something to kind of block out sound. But everything else hurts your ears so much. It’s just so big. And so they came out again this year with a brand new version, and they’re smaller, and they work so far, no problems with the batteries or anything like that. And they work really well. And they’re pretty comfortable. I mean, obviously there’s still something in your ear, but from anything else that I’ve tried, they’re pretty comfortable.
[00:16:04.960] – Tamara Gruber
They have a whole bunch of sounds that you can play. So it’s like the same as, like a calm app or sleep sounds that you can play. The only bad thing is you can’t tie in, like, your own music or audio, but that’s okay because I tend to just use the sounds that they have anyway, and they have tons of different options. And so I would say anybody that has trouble sleeping because of noise, I would think that it’s worth the investment in the Bose Sleepbuds, the new one.
[00:16:30.400] – Tamara Gruber
[00:16:30.840] – Kim Tate
It’s funny that they didn’t fix that, like allowing you to use them as regular headphones as well, because I know that was a big complaint with the first version was people where they didn’t want to pack two sets of headphones. So it’s kind of surprising that they didn’t. I guess they really want to make it a separate product, not a competitor to their yeah.
[00:16:49.240] – Tamara Gruber
I just wonder if you have to build in some other sound stuff or whatever. Yeah, but they’re good, and they come in like a nice little case. And now that you have, like, AirPods and other things are fairly small, I feel like it’s easy enough just to have them in my bag.
[00:17:08.310] – Kim Tate
And I know that you like that they have such a long battery life, so that’s cool. Yeah. Well, speaking of bags, I’m going to mention my last little product because then I’m going to move on to some fun and cool places. But one of my favorite products that I’ve had for a couple of years now, and I keep going to it. I can’t tell you how many backpacks and travel bags I have. I mean, you know, how many we get at conferences and things and then having different totes and everything.
[00:17:31.250] – Kim Tate
And I still come back and keep using my neck bag, which is just kind of this backpack. It’s a random brand, and they gave me one again. It’s been a couple of years right before the pandemic, and it’s just really convenient. I absolutely love it. It kind of has a narrower feel, but you can expand it. And then it has this back zipper section, which, if I’m like, I used it in Portugal. I was able to put a coat or sweaters back there, and it then bulks up a little bit, but you still zip it down.
[00:18:02.950] – Kim Tate
So it looks really trim and kind of fitted on your back. And I love having that kind of extra space. It’s supposed to be enough for kind of a day and overnight or even a weekend kind of trip. People are saying, like, if you’re not needing a bunch of clothes that you could technically use it as a carry on and expand it out. So some people use it that way. I find that it’s got a great little hidden side pouch for my laptop that’s in the padded back.
[00:18:28.670] – Kim Tate
And then it’s got a zipper portion on the bottom, which is where I put my MacBook charging cord. And if I’m bringing a big camera, my camera charging cords, it’s got kind of the special cords pocket on the bottom. And then it’s got a great water bottle holder that actually can zip shut. So I can’t tell you how many water bottles I’ve not that many, but a couple that I’ve lost because they’ve gotten snagged on something, or they’ve fallen out of my little elastic holder. And so there’s just a few things that I’ve just really fallen in love with about this bag.
[00:18:59.530] – Kim Tate
And like I said, it is a little narrower and trimmer, but it’s perfect for what I need, which is normally just my cords and my ipad and my laptop and some snacks. And then if I want to open the backup and zip it, expand it out. I can add some clothes and stuff back there. So I’m in love with the knack bag.
[00:19:18.730] – Tamara Gruber
That sounds perfect. Actually, Glenn was just looking for a new bag because he started a new job and they gave him a larger laptop. So now it doesn’t fit in his old bag. And the company sent him a backpack as well. But it doesn’t have a water bottle in that slot, and that does drive us crazy. And it’s a little smaller, too. So I gave them, like a messenger bag because same as you like, I’ve gone through a gazillion different bags trying to find the perfect one.
[00:19:44.270] – Tamara Gruber
I’ve been pretty stuck on my Tortuga bag the last couple of years. It works really well, and I like that it slides over the handle of my role, too. So it’s like, super easy to transport through the airport. But I’m going to take a look because maybe that would be a good gift for him.
[00:20:00.780] – Kim Tate
Yeah. And I think they have a larger size also that holds, like the 17 inch laptop. So if you do want something that’s a little bigger, and they have accessories. Now they’re coming out with a whole line of like, they’ve got packing cubes now that are sized for it. And I just really like it. And they have a new series. I have the series one. That’s the original one, and it has kind of a front zipper pouch that’s really easy for accessibility, but it’s limited space wise.
[00:20:25.320] – Kim Tate
And so I think they redesigned it for the series too, but they still make both series. It’s just kind of depending on the look you want, but I just keep going back to it and I really like it. So yeah, definitely. I mean, I would highly recommend it for him.
[00:20:37.210] – Tamara Gruber
Nice. Yeah. Well, I’ll mention a bag, too, since we’re going into bags, mine much, much better.
[00:20:44.070] – Kim Tate
I did see it actually. Now I know which one you’re talking about.
[00:20:46.640] – Tamara Gruber
I think anyone that’s followed me very much on Instagram, or I probably have mentioned it on the podcast before, but I was gifted a very large suitcase. It’s by Delc Paris. It’s the brand, which has very stylish, very nice bags. It’s called the Clavel, and it is a 30 inch bag, which I had at one point very large, like, too many bags that Glenn and I actually had ended up just donating and getting rid of because we could never manage to keep it below £50. We felt it was kind of like useless to have such a big bag that you can’t fill.
[00:21:24.260] – Tamara Gruber
And I will say you’ll definitely go over £50 if you fill this bag as well. Yeah. But what I liked about it is that it was extremely lightweight. So the bag itself because a lot of bags are built for durability, of course, but they can actually weigh more than you think when I think about, oh, I have £50. I’m thinking that I can pack £50, not that I can pack £40 and have a ten pound bag. I feel like if anyone is going maybe on like a ski trip, especially because you know, how all of your gear gets so big, but it’s not necessarily heavy, but you have your ski pants and your jacket and all that.
[00:21:57.590] – Tamara Gruber
It would be perfect for it. And what I really liked about it, it is a hard shell, which I’ve never used a hard shell before for a large bag like that, because usually I like to put it up against a wall and I just keep the top open. So it’s definitely tricky to do something like that. But what I kind of liked about this one was that the top portion of it is smaller and has a netted zipper section. So I put all of my toiletries brush, like loose things, like not clothing as much like up there.
[00:22:26.560] – Tamara Gruber
I had stacks of clothing in the actual bag, so instead of having to use having to roll to really fit it in there, I was able to just kind of like nicely place my stuff, which were a long trip, was really helpful because I had organized by, like, outfits for each day. And so instead of like we’re moving all the time. So instead of constantly digging through the bag or unrolling because rolling is great. But when you’re moving a lot, it’s hard. There’s certain ways of packing that work better for trips when you’re going and you’re unpacking and you’re staying and other things work a little bit better sometimes when you’re moving around.
[00:23:01.550] – Tamara Gruber
So whether you set aside your packing cubes for certain days or however you organize yourself. But I found it helpful for me. So I would recommend that one if you want a really big bag for that type of thing.
[00:23:15.120] – Kim Tate
I think it’s tricky that people don’t always think about that they want the big bag, but they’re not considering that most Airlines £50 is your limit. It’s not like it’s cheap to go over the £50 either for me, like $150.
[00:23:31.870] – Tamara Gruber
So now that we’ve talked about some of the products, what about places? I mean, we’ve got to some really amazing hotels and destinations this year. Do you have some favorites?
[00:23:42.630] – Kim Tate
Yeah. I think that I actually want to kind of mention one of my hometown hotels that I stayed at the beginning of kind of last year, and that was the Pan Pacific Hotel in Seattle. And the reason I’m mentioning this one is because normally I recommend and always stay in downtown Seattle, that’s near Pike Place and a little more near some of the shopping centers and things. But the Pan Pacific is up by Seattle Center, which is right next to the MoPOP Museum, which is really awesome.
[00:24:11.840] – Kim Tate
And they were doing a taste Washington event there, and I was able to go be hosted there, and they put us in kind of a corner suite room that had a view of the Space Needle. And I just was realizing that if you’re visiting Seattle and you kind of really like a luxury hotel and you’re eager to be near the Space Needle or Seattle Center, which is near some of those main museums. And of course, the chihuli is there and the Space Needle itself and everything.
[00:24:40.820] – Kim Tate
I think that hotel is really awesome, and I just still am thinking of being able to watch and see the Space Needle at night and everything. And it was really cool. And the hotel itself is just beautifully done. And the customer service there is lovely and it feels kind of small. It’s not like a massive, massive hotel, but it is a good size, but it feels a little small and nice. So that’s when I was mentioning that it was kind of one of my earlier ones.
[00:25:07.180] – Kim Tate
[00:25:07.440] – Tamara Gruber
It’s kind of like if you go to Paris to be able to have a view of the Eiffel Tower, like something iconic like that.
[00:25:13.140] – Kim Tate
Yeah. I mean, I think that some of the other ones downtown have great views of, like the water and the sound and the wheel and all of that. But this one kind of has that iconic and just location wise, if that’s kind of where you’re looking.
[00:25:25.490] – Tamara Gruber
[00:25:26.490] – Kim Tate
So what about you? What’s one of your favorite places of 2021?
[00:25:30.290] – Tamara Gruber
Well, I’m going to go kind of in chronological order, but one of my favorites was one of the first trips that we took of the year, and it was to Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado, in Steamboat Springs. That was part of our massive big College road trip. But that was the relaxation part of it. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much. But I love a Ranch vacation. I just think it’s such a great thing for families, and it really lets you just disconnect. And there’s plenty of space and things to move around.
[00:26:01.130] – Tamara Gruber
And I never really thought about it as like a winter destination unless you’re going, like, really holiday time. And then I picture the sleigh rides and things like that. But we had a great time, like it was March, and so it was spring break, which is a little bit cheaper to go out there. It’s right before they close for the season, and there was still snow. So we’re able to do snow showing and crosscountry skiing and horseback riding. So there are plenty of snow tubing, there’s plenty of activities.
[00:26:30.630] – Tamara Gruber
And what I really loved about that hotel, too, was just the food. I mean, everyone you had either a cabin or a suite, but you have your own family space. The service was great with that. It was nice to have that space to spread out. And then the Lodge itself is gorgeous, and the food is just so top notch, but also so much of it, and so just served in such a friendly way. And it just was a great experience. Every time you went to the Lodge, you’re going to have this great meal.
[00:27:01.130] – Tamara Gruber
And it wasn’t all about ultra gourmet, like, sometimes it was fish and chips, but it was just then started with a soup and it finished with a homemade cookie or whatever it was. It was all very delicious. So do you have another? Yeah.
[00:27:15.460] – Kim Tate
I think for me, one of the trips that really stood out to me and the girls and I took a big long road trip down to California again for spring break. And along the way, we stopped in and had two nights in Monterey, California, and did some fun things around there. And you and I have talked about this, and I’ve talked about that trip, but I did really like our Hyatt Regency stay there just because the property itself is interesting, because a few of the hotels I’ve been at before near Monterey were in Cannery Row, and it’s more of a busy feel.
[00:27:46.660] – Kim Tate
And around a lot of the action. The Hyatt Monterey or the Hyatt Regency in Monterey is on a golf course, and it’s a little more detached, but it’s still really close to Cannery Row and all the Carmel by the Sea and all these other areas that you want to access. So we liked our stay there. They have some great pool spaces. And then, of course, they have fire pits. And at night people are doing s’mores and marshmallow cooking and things like that. And they have a renovated lobby that was just really beautiful.
[00:28:17.020] – Kim Tate
So I think that was one that stood out to me, and I don’t know if part of it was just the hotel or if I just want to also just bring up the trip. That road trip still is one of my girls’favorite things to do. And we’ve loved it. And stopping in Monterey is just such a beautiful space, and there’s a lot of nice activities to do around there. So I think that one really stands out in our mind.
[00:28:38.450] – Tamara Gruber
I know we’ve talked before about how more hotels are doing more when it comes to the public spaces and hangout things like those fire pits and such are really great. But it actually makes me think of one of the places that I wanted to mention, which is Terra Moore Outdoor Resort. It’s one of these glamping resorts up in Bar Harbor near Acadia National Park in Maine. But it is my favorite of all the ones that I’ve seen it so far, and it definitely has that resort feel because the Lodge, the Lodge, is gorgeous.
[00:29:09.510] – Tamara Gruber
It has a really nice restaurant and bar fireplaces screened in porch. There are telescopes you can borrow. There were games and then outdoors, of course, there’s fire pits, there’s a pool, there’s a hot tub, there’s just all these really cool outdoor spaces. And then I also really liked the Glamping tent that I stayed in as well. Definitely had the best bathroom of any of the ones that I have stayed at. I had, like this huge walk in shower where you didn’t have to pull a cord or anything like that.
[00:29:42.290] – Tamara Gruber
Unfortunately, I was there by myself, and I just stayed one night, but I was glad to experience, and I hopefully can bring the family back sometime.
[00:29:49.630] – Kim Tate
That’s cool. Yeah. You had some really great outdoor and glamping experiences this past year, so I’m sure people are looking for more of those. Your sites got some great links on it. Well, speaking of the outdoors and outdoorsy places, one of the places that we went to in the summer was Vale, Colorado. And of course, it’s a very outdoorsy place. And going to Vale, which most people think of as a ski town in the summer was a really neat experience. And while we were there, we stayed at a place called Manor Vale Lodge.
[00:30:17.990] – Kim Tate
And the reason it stands out to me, I think this is just what people really are looking for and think about a lot of times with ski village places. But even in the summer, being kind of in one of these destination places is really convenient. And this Manorvale Lodge, we actually could walk in and out of downtown. But we are a little outside of the downtown. So it was nice because we were right next to one of their big parks, and it was very calming and pretty and nice.
[00:30:46.440] – Kim Tate
And of course, these rooms are you can get multi bedrooms or we had a one bedroom and it had bunk beds in the living room, but it had a full kitchen and they do the grocery shopping service for families. I think that those kind of destination type places that have those kind of rooms are so convenient and especially when we were there, I think we were there for four nights, and it’s just extremely convenient being able to have kind of a home base where you can grab breakfast in the morning instead of having to go out or if especially after skiing or something or after a big tiring day, you can have lunch or dinner in the room.
[00:31:24.490] – Kim Tate
And we really liked that place. And I liked how it was right next to the park and kind of next to this pretty little Creek. I don’t know if it was a river or Creek and it had a bridge. And I don’t know, I just thought it was great. And I loved the accessibility into downtown Vale, but without having to be like right in the downtown area. So that was what I wanted to mention.
[00:31:43.470] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. I feel like this past year has really driven home to me that I love hotels that are very accessible to the outdoors. I’m very turned off right now by a high rise hotel with long hallways and things like that. I’m going to cheat a little bit and combine two together and say, like I loved both the hotels that we stayed at when we were in Greece because they had that kind of enter from the outside, but not motel like, obviously with wonderful opportunities to just kind of flow throughout the resort.
[00:32:19.820] – Tamara Gruber
But one was the Cannabis, Aya epitome hotel in Santorini, and the town of Aya is like, very expensive. And there are some luxury brands, and the Cannabis is one of them. And I stayed at this property, which is one of their newer properties, and it’s not in town, but it’s just slightly outside of town. But you can walk to town or you can walk down to more of the waterfront. And I just loved the use of the outdoors, the use of the natural volcanic stone. And it was a gorgeous luxury hotel, amazing service, amazing food.
[00:32:57.320] – Tamara Gruber
It was just such a I don’t know. It was such a reset for us to get there and be like, this is what travel should be, because we had gone through so many kind of poor travel experiences in the US as the US is kind of ramping back up. So if you’re looking for a special place to stay. And it’s definitely not just for couples. We saw families with teens and families with toddlers. There definitely take a look. It’s got a high price point, but not as high as some of its sister properties.
[00:33:27.290] – Tamara Gruber
And the other one that had a much more affordable but affordable for luxury property. Price point was on the island of Naxos, which is just cheaper in general and less crowded, which is definitely a positive. So if people are looking to go to Greece and don’t want to deal with the crowds of a Santorini, we stayed at the Virtue Suites in Nexos, and it was right across from an amazing beach. So it was about ten minutes from the main town, but there was a little town.
[00:33:53.370] – Tamara Gruber
There was some small restaurants and beach bars and that kind of thing. But we just love that property because it had such a nice aesthetic, like the decor was just very kind of earthy, but airy and light, and it was just a very small boutique property. And so I just really love those boutique properties. And so another one that I’d recommend for sure.
[00:34:18.170] – Kim Tate
[00:34:18.910] – Tamara Gruber
[00:34:19.140] – Kim Tate
I know that was a great trip for you guys and that you really researched and found some good properties. So I think that we should wrap up with kind of our big trip that you and I just did because Epic Travel, who we worked with for our Portugal trip, they really know the hotels in Portugal, and they had us staying at some amazing places. And I know both you and I could probably do a whole episode on the hotels of Portugal. But for this top 21 list, I thought you and I should just name our favorite.
[00:34:47.850] – Kim Tate
So what’s maybe your favorite, like what’s a property that stands out to you or a place that stands out to you from our Portugal trip.
[00:34:55.210] – Tamara Gruber
I’m kind of glad that we are also doing these Portugal episodes where we’re breaking down like region by region, and we’re able to talk about each of them because it’s really hard to just pick one because we stayed at so many properties and so many were amazing. But I will go for one. That just I don’t know why it touched me so much, but I just really enjoyed it. It’s called the Tory de Palma, and it’s in the Alentejo region. There’s not that much around, but you’re basically in a historic palace type of property where you can actually go up the spiral staircase of the tower and watch the sunset and have a nice little cocktail as you’re watching the sunset.
[00:35:34.590] – Tamara Gruber
But the property is arranged so that the rooms are actually in what I think were like stables or other quarters. So it’s like one level buildings, like around the courtyard. And so you just kind of again had that open air walk into the room, and you and I actually shared a room there. And we had I think it’s just like a junior suite, but each of them are decorated a bit differently. And so we had this nice living space with the bathroom off of it and then the bedroom off of it as well, which would really work well with families, especially if you have families with younger kids.
[00:36:07.830] – Tamara Gruber
And you want it to all be in one room because they could do, like, the day bed as well as the bedroom. And I just found that the people there were super nice. It just had a really nice, very relaxing vibe to it. They had a really nice pool overlooking the vineyards where I ended up taking a little 1 hour nap one day, I think. And they have a stables. We did a nice little carriage ride. And then as we were going out to our picnic, we saw just one of the little cults, I think, just kind of roaming around, which is such a neat experience.
[00:36:40.920] – Tamara Gruber
And then, of course, they have a winery there as well. So we were able to do, like, a tour of the winery and wine tasting. And they do, like wine blending classes. And I just really liked it. So I don’t know, it’s hard to pick. We did so many great ones, but that one just had something very unique feeling about it.
[00:36:58.040] – Kim Tate
I agree. I think that property was amazing. I’m glad that you brought it up. And I think for I’m a points person, and I always love talking about credit cards and points. And for those of you that are like me, it is a Marriott property, and the fact that you could get this amazing destination with Marriott Points, I think, is pretty awesome. So just a heads up there.
[00:37:17.500] – Tamara Gruber
Yes, much better than the 50,000 points to stay at the courtyard next to an airport. What about you? Which did you pick for Portugal?
[00:37:26.040] – Kim Tate
Well, for mine. I actually picked a Alentejo hotel as well, which we haven’t gotten to talk about. So this will help narrow Alentegio episode a little bit, because you guys will have already heard of these. But I picked the HERDAD del Malhidina Nova, and yeah, like, spelled out right now you can go to vacation, mavens to get the link. But this hotel for me, I think the thing that stood out to me is just, I don’t know, some of those sunsets and the location and the rolling Hills with those trees.
[00:37:58.250] – Kim Tate
I know you got a picture of that. I looked over my pictures. I didn’t quite frame it the way you did, but it captures that area so well and surrounded by the vineyards. And I just fell in love with that property. And I think the sunsets really did it for me and the night skies as well. That property is in the Alentejo region. I guess I don’t even know the name of the city, so you would have to look it up, but it feels like it’s kind of in the middle of the countryside, and it has a couple of different properties types that you can stay at.
[00:38:28.720] – Kim Tate
And they’re basically like kind of estate homes. And then they’ve turned these estate homes into kind of rooms in the houses. So if you get a room, you’re sharing the house with other people or you can rent the whole house itself. But they have beautiful pools on site. And I still remember having breakfast that one morning that I was by myself because a lot of people that I was traveling with, none of you guys were breakfast people. But I got up and had my coffee and the fresh honey because they have an apiary there, and they had the most delicious honey I’ve ever had.
[00:39:01.590] – Kim Tate
I felt like I could just eat it out of the tub. And I sat there and watched birds flying around the pool, and people were relaxing poolside. And I was having a nice breakfast with fresh croissants, and it was amazing, and I just fell in love with it. So that’s the one that stands out to me. And I think it’s just the vacation, mavens, if you truly want kind of a laid back, lazy morning and just kind of relaxation, I think that’s a great property for that.
[00:39:30.250] – Tamara Gruber
I thought for sure you would say it was because of the wine, dessert, wine harvest.
[00:39:35.460] – Kim Tate
Yes, I know it was delicious. And that was one of the other reasons it does have a great wine. But I felt like we had so much amazing wine while we were in the Alentejo. So that’s definitely something that’s known for.
[00:39:46.810] – Tamara Gruber
The good news is we actually have an episode coming up where we’re going to be going into a deep dive of Valentino as well as the Algarve regions. And we’re going to do that with our friend Rachel from Epic Travel, and so she is truly the expert just gave you a little taste of what it was like there. And you’re intrigued. Then make sure you check out that episode too soon.
[00:40:10.700] – Kim Tate
Hopefully, you guys have enjoyed listening to us dish on some of our favorite things for 2021. Feel free to email us or share with us if you guys have something that you fell in love with in 2021, we’d love to have you comment and share that. So you can either email us at podcast, vacation, mavens. Com or you can always DM one of us on Instagram. Mostly it’s at the Suitcase or at westtravel.
[00:40:32.540] – Tamara Gruber
Yeah. I’d love to hear what your favorites were from 2021. Then we can do a little summary of that in the next episode. All right. Well, happy New Year, everyone.
[00:40:41.460] – Kim Tate
Happy New Year. And we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye.