Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Dying Mema's Wish

Mema with her grandchildren
I recently had the privilege to plan a very special family vacation. When Marla contacted me initially, I had no idea how closely we would work together and how near and dear her family's special vacation would be to my heart. Mema took the whole family to The Reef Atlantis March 5-12 for an unforgettable family vacation as she is drawing near the end of her life. I have great admiration for Mema. Read Marla's touching testimonial below.
Family always came first with my mother-in-law. She set the tradition of a family vacation so all her grandchildren could be together for at least one week out of the year. When this amazing woman was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer, she fought with all her might until her doctors said any further treatment would be of no help. It came as no real surprise when we asked her if there was anything she wanted to do; she said she wanted to take a trip. Not just any trip, she wanted to take her whole family, all 15 of us, plus her caregiver to The Reef Atlantis in the Bahamas.
A friend of mine recommended Destinations. I can never express how grateful I am for all the work Sarah did to help us take this journey. She organized 11 expedited passports, travel for 4 families including 8 children and our severely mobility impaired Mema, lodging, meal plans and very good travel insurance-- all within three weeks of my initial contact to the office. Sarah went above and beyond to help make our Mema's last wish for a great family vacation come true.

I will without hesitation recommend Destinations to anyone who asks and even those who don't! - Marla Sheely
The Dolphin Experience
The view from their rooms
Marla's boys having fun at an Atlantis photo op

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ski Getaway in Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, the California side
Over the weekend my husband and I flew out west for a ski getaway at Heavenly. We flew into the Reno/Tahoe Airport and rented a car to drive to South Lake Tahoe. The drive took us just under an hour and was picturesque. Gorgeous pines capped with snow and mountains in the backdrop. Upon arrival at the hotel, we valeted the car (and never saw it again until we checked out). We spent 3 nights at the Marriott Grand Residence in South Lake Tahoe. We had a comfortable studio with a full kitchen. It was perfect for our needs, and best of all the resort was convenient to Heavenly Sports (ski rentals) and the gondola (15 minute ride up to the base of Heavenly). The ski shop was literally underneath our room, and the gondola was just steps away from there. We valeted our skis (complimentary) each afternoon when we came down the mountain. The last day when we turned our skis and boots in, we walked in our socks to our room because it was that close (and we may have forgotten our shoes, oops). There are plenty of things to see and do within walking distance of the Marriott Grand Residence in South Lake Tahoe: movie theater, restaurants, ice skating rink, grocery store, The North Face shop, ice cream, Starbucks, casinos, other shopping and much more.

Our studio

[Facts about the mountain]
Heavenly is home to 29 lifts and 95 runs. You can ski in Nevada and California. While California has the prettiest scenery with Lake Tahoe at the bottom, we preferred the blue runs on the Nevada side of the mountain best. Galaxy, Perimeter and The Pines are a few of our favorites.
  • 10,067' highest elevation in Lake Tahoe
  • 3,500' vertical unmatched on the West Coast
  • 4,800 acres spanning two states, most on the West Coast
  • Annual snowfall averages more than 30 feet a year
  • 5 mile descent longest on the West Coast 

Bill on the Nevada side

View from the gondola

Hot chocolate break in the lodge
On the first day I made one mistake. I followed my husband’s lead as he took an “off run” turn and we ended up on a black diamond full of moguls. He was up above me and managed to cut back over to the blue, but I was downhill with no hope of returning to the safe, secure blue so I just had to go with it. I made an embarrassing attempt at getting down the run. I ended up with my skis crossed at one point, and the next thing I knew there was a pack of kids skiing like pros through the moguls. To make matters even worse, the run was underneath a ski lift. At least no one knew me. I made my way to the bottom with little grace and no style, and Bill was waiting for me there. How nice.
No trip out west is complete without a stop at In-N-Out Burger, so we got our fix on the way to the airport. Bill had his burger animal style (are you familiar with the secret menu? Animal style translated means a mustard-cooked beef patty with additional pickles, cheese, spread and grilled onions diced up and mixed together on the grill before getting dumped on your burger.) and I preferred the traditional cheeseburger, no onion please. Their fries are the best.

We would return to South Lake Tahoe and Heavenly in a heartbeat.

Enjoyed sharing with you,
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