Relaxing in Style at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Complimentary stay provided for review purposes.

By Lindsey:

About a month ago I fell viciously ill with the highly contagious puppy fever. I knew it was unreasonable as I already have two large dogs, a cat and a bunny; however no one is truly safe from puppy fever. In a silly attempt to cure myself I came across an ad for a red merle Aussie pup, and thus we brought home this little bundle of joy, little miss Merida.


Of course along with a puppy comes potty training, and with that comes getting up with a puppy in the middle of the night multiple times. Not to mention all the “No! No! Bad dog!” pretty frequently as little bit is quite a chewer, with her second favorite hobby of digging. Needless to say my sleep suffered a bit. Mack and I decided to give a staycation a try; after all it was our old dating anniversary.

We decided on Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa nestled in the lovely Texas hill country, with a Summer Citrus Massage for me.

Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

We also booked a hillside view room so our view looked something like this:

Hillside view

I must admit a large portion of our two night stay involved a good amount of catch up sleep, but eventually it seemed such a shame to let the full resort go to waste. We got out of bed and headed down to the 8212 Wine Bar & Grill for some brunch. My hangar steak salad with tomato jam and blue cheese was absolutely delicious in our table yet again set elegantly against floor to ceiling windows of the beautiful hill country.


Now we were really starting to relax and feel like we were on vacation. Since this was primarily a golf resort, and we are not at all golfers, we opted for some miniature golf action where we discovered if there was going to be a golfer between the two of us it would probably be me. Still excited from my ‘golf’ win I headed to the spa.


The spa here was truly lovely, several serene lounging areas, a wet and dry sauna, and an impressive soaking pool.


The massage was wonderful, staff friendly, and even the locker room was snazzy. I found Mack down in the pool and joined in the lagoon like Jacuzzi for and evening swim. We decided to stay in and order room service as to not disrupt my super tranquil level of relaxation. Instead of fine dining, what could be better than ordering just a bit of some guilty pleasure items, bring on the pizza and grilled cheese! Both were exceptional and even elevated despite two grown adults ordering off the kids menu at 11pm. We left the next day truly refreshed and feeling just as vacationed as if we had traveled to another city. Our first staycation thanks to Omni Barton Creek was a success!

The Ideal Vacation: The Ideal Look #IdealSummerFun

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Ideal Image for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I am living my ideal vacation at the moment, or rather something very close to it: Anywhere on the beach and I'm happy. I'm visiting my mom in Florida, she lives on the coast so we are right by the ocean and I'm in a swimsuit every single day. I would love to do this every year, just head off to the beach, the Carribean, Hawaii or pretty much any beach area. But I'm not always beach ready.

I'm not always ready for any type of vacation actually. And Ideal Image Laser Hair Removal is ready to help me and you get ready for any type of summer fun with 70% off Laser Hair Removal Services. With laser hair removal, you won't have to worry about waxing or shaving  and you'll be ready for ANYTHING!


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5 Fantastic Fall Things to Do In Montreal

Here are 5 great ideas for things to do this fall in Montreal!

imageGardens of Light

Don’t miss the chance to take your family to see gorgeous Gardens of Light at the Botanical Garden. Whether marveling at the stunning silk lanterns in the Chinese Garden or getting zen in the Japanese Garden, this is a truly enlightening evening escapade. September 5 to November 2.

Mini-express train in Parc La Fontaine

All aboard! The Mini-express electric train in Parc La Fontaine is a little locomotive gem. Climb into its colourful cars and quietly chug-chug your way through the leafy landscape, followed by a delicious lunch—indoors or boxed to go— from Espace La Fontaine Bistro. Rides offered from
11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and holidays until mid-October.

Redpath Museum


A “cabinet of curiosities”, the Redpath Museum offers a one-of-a-kind wonderland for everyone. Its permanent (and free) collection highlights natural history, world cultures and mineralogy, plus it has a dinosaur and mummy collection. Sundays features Discovery Workshops and informal guided tours of its Egyptian, mineral and biodiversity exhibits.

Raplapla studio-boutique

Give your little guy or girl a made-in-Montréal Raplapla doll that they will love forever. Stop by the cute and colourful boutique and browse their whimsical collection of hand-crafted dolls, stuffed animals, night owls and more that can be loved, hugged and carted around anywhere!


The Cave of Lascaux – Prehistoric Masterpieces
Montréal Science Centre
Until September 14, 2014
LAST CHANCE to step back in time to the dawn of humanity and discover frescos created 20,000 years ago, long before civilization’s humble beginnings.
DISNEY ON ICE presents Princesses and Heroes
Bell Centre
October 8 to 13, 2104
Watch Disney princesses and heroes come to life on the ice at the Bell Centre. Take advantage of your visit to stop by the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame.

Free admission for kids day at Ecomuseum Zoo
September 14, 2014
Right after back-to-school, have a nice break to the whole family. Free admission for kids under 15 years old, accompanied by a paying adult.

Travel & Join The Panama Canal’s Centennial Celebration


A constant staple on travelers’ bucket lists, the Panama Canal is a man-made masterpiece of pure engineering prowess and ingenuity that must be seen to be believed. And, during its amazing 2014 centennial and our 50th anniversary in 2015, Princess has an assortment of 11- to 20-day adventures — including two festive cruises on December 18 and 29 — starting from $899!*
The canal was meant to be seen from the sea, so be sure to book a balcony for the very best views. Look on in awe as each massive Lock opens and closes raising or lowering the ship, stroll the streets of Cartagena’s beautiful colonial Walled City — a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see Costa Rica’s lush rainforest and exotic array of wildlife including scarlett macaws.



RT Ft. Lauderdale
Coral Princess® or Island Princess®

11-day | 2014: Oct 7, 12, 18^, 29^; Nov 9, 20^, 26^; Dec 1, 7, 12, 18^, 23^, 29^;
2015: Jan 3^, 9, 14^, 25; Feb 5^, 16, 27;
Mar 10, 21^; Apr 1^
Ports: Ft. Lauderdale, Aruba, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Colón, Costa Rica (Limón), Ocho Rios, Ft. Lauderdale



^Grand Cayman or Princess Cays replaces Ocho Rios.



Between Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles
Island Princess®

15-day | 2015: Feb 19; Mar 6^
Ft. Lauderdale, Aruba, Cartagena, 2-Day Canal Experience (Full transit of the Panama Canal including the Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun Locks; Fuerte Amador), Costa Rica (Puntarenas), Puerto Chiapas, Los Angeles



^Puerto Quetzal replaces Puerto Chiapas and itinerary operates in reverse order.



Between Ft. Lauderdale and Los Angeles
Coral Princess® or Island Princess®

15-day | 2014: Oct 27; Nov 11;
2015: Jan 20; Feb 4^; Apr 12
Ports: Ft. Lauderdale, Aruba, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Costa Rica (Puntarenas), Nicaragua (San Juan del Sur), Cabo San Lucas, Los Angeles



^Itinerary operates in reverse order.



From Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles
Pacific Princess®

17-day | 2015: Apr 28
Ports: Ft. Lauderdale, Curacao, Cartagena, Panama Canal (Full transit of the Panama Canal including the Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun Locks), Puerto Quepos, Costa Rica (Puntarenas), Topolobampo, Cabo San Lucas, Los Angeles



MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa in the Seychelles “BEYOND All-Inclusive”

MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa in Mahé, Seychelles introduces the new “BEYOND All-Inclusive” concept beginning November 1, 2014. This new approach includes a myriad of services such as a dedicated butler, high-speed Wi-Fi, complimentary laundry service, all daily meals, soft drinks and premium alcoholic beverages as well as food a la carte on a “Whatever, Wherever, Whenever” basis. Additional activities introduced include morning Yoga or Qi Gong, non-motorized sports plus unlimited scuba diving.


Located on 30 acres of award-winning gardens on the main island of Mahé, MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa features 30 private villas, all with 180-degree uninterrupted sea views. While staying at MAIA guests can choose between two villa categories, the “Ocean Panoramic” villas or the “MAIA Signature” villas. Designed by leading architect Bill Bensley, each villa offers guests the perfect escape while vacationing at MAIA. Dotting the hillside are the nineteen Ocean Panoramic villas, each offering guests exquisite views of MAIA’s lush gardens and the blue waters of the ocean below. Additionally, the eleven “MAIA Signature” villas are located closer to the shore and provide guests direct access to the surf and sand. Guests booking the “MAIA Signature” villa also enjoy additional inclusions like early check-in and late check-out, their choice of Champagne as well as in-villa offerings such as daily private yoga, one-time mani-pedi, and a specially prepared barbecue.


Other experiences available for guests to book at an additional cost include private fishing and scuba diving excursions or scenic flights from MAIA’s on-site helipad to the surrounding islands. Guests who prefer to relax at the spa can visit MAIA’s Balinese-style spa, which offers an array of exotic treatments and features world-class Omorovicza products. The Gold Apres Soleil Facial is exclusive to the resort, as is the “20 Dancing Fingers” massage delivered by two members of the highly-trained staff, accompanied by flautist.

Things to do on an Evening Out in New York

There are some locations around the world that are on almost everyone’s list of places they would love to visit. New York is definitely one of these and this famous city is a fantastic place to have an evening out. For those that visit and plan to do this, the following are some of the top activities to enjoy.


The indoor arena Madison Square Garden is a prime center for special events in New York and a perfect place for an evening out. The Garden is a venue for all types of entertainment and whether you want to watch some professional sport, a music concert, a circus, or some other type of show, you are sure to find something to suit. The current venue is the fourth to bear the Madison Square Garden name and has been welcoming guests since the late 1960s. This, perhaps, is one of the reasons that sights and sounds of New York never fail to attract people to its lovely city.



Times Square goes by the nickname The Crossroads of the World and is a must-see location in New York. It is one of the busiest intersections in the world, with the flow of humanity passing by and huge electronic billboards having to be seen to be believed. It is also the center of New York’s Broadway District, so after viewing the square you can go on to enjoy a show. A visit to the Empire State Building is obligatory on a New York trip and this iconic building has stood in place since 1931. With observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors, it is the ultimate location for city views.


Dining in a restaurant with a view offers the chance to enjoy some good food and impressive city scenery. The sights of Central Park can be seen from the restaurant on the 9th floor of the Museum of Arts & Design, while Riverpark in the Alexandria Center serves favorite American dishes and looks out over the East River. For a view of the city’s evening skyline, visit the Mandarin Oriental’s 35th floor restaurant, Asiate.
The sights and sounds of New York are definitely something to savor and there is a huge choice of things to see and do on an evening out. Those shown above are just a few of the many options that are available in and around the city. This means that anyone on a New York vacation will fend plenty to make it an enjoyable experience.

Winding Down Summer With Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels

This is a sponsored post.

This summer has gone by in the blink of an eye. I spent 3 consecutive weeks on the road in July and August, attending BlogHer and visiting family and friends in California, doing a day trip in Washington, then heading on back-to-back trips in Arkansas and North Carolina for upcoming projects on MomStart. Suffice to say, I’ve been spending a lot of time in hotels recently! As Labor Day weekend quickly approaches, you may be plotting your own family vacation as the last hurrah of summer, so I wanted to point out Choice Hotels as a resource while your plan your travel.

Boasting nearly 6,400 hotels in the US and abroad, Choice Hotels are likely to have a location almost anywhere that your summer adventure takes you. They hosted over 67 million guests in 2013 alone – wow! Finding a room is easy: When you visit, you’ll find a search box where you can enter your destination and visit dates, which will show you what hotels are in that area. Choice Hotels is a franchise including 11 brands, ranging from Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites to Sleep Inn, Cambria, Quality, and more, which makes it easy to find a room. The Comfort Inn and Comfort Suites brands are also investing heavily in their franchises to add more value, taking feedback from 10,000 guests and franchise owners to get ideas on what would enhance their experience the most. Unsurprisingly, sleep and food ranked most important to travelers, so Comfort responded by rolling out 1.2 million new pillows into their rooms after choosing a favorite from the 100 pillow types they tested. That must have been a rough job. ;)

After guests finish a night of sleeping on their comfy pillow, they can also enjoy Comfort’s free breakfast buffet, with tons of filling and healthy options like eggs, meat, yogurt, fruit, and waffles. Did you know that Comfort is the only hotel where you’ll be able to have fresh flavored waffles made on the spot? Last year, they served approximately 25 million waffles – if you lined all of those waffles up side by side, you’d have 3,000 miles of waffles – almost the distance of traveling from Los Angeles to New York City. I think all travel should be measured in waffles, don’t you? And however many miles you’ll be traveling this summer, you’re sure to find a place to rest with Choice Hotels along the way.

#VacayGoneCrayCray Contest Reminder!

Don’t forget, there’s still time to share your funniest travel mishap story for a chance to win a cool $10,000! For more details and to enter, visit – but hurry, submissions close on August 27th!

Are you planning any end-of-summer trips? Have you stayed at a Choice Hotels location before?

Watch As Endangered Sea Turtle Lays Nest on Beach @harbourvillageb #Travel

Humans aren’t the only ones drawn to Harbour Village Beach Club’ serene, sandy shore. The resort recently welcomed what scientists believe is a repeat guest: a critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle, who laid a nest of about 100 eggs near where it likely hatched 17 years ago.


The hatchlings are expected to emerge from the eggs and scramble through the sand and into the sea between September 5 – 15. To capture the moment and help educate people about these magnificent creatures, Harbour Village is working with Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire to set up a live web cam and nightly watches near the nest beginning the week of August 18. Updates will be posted at

"This is something we want to share not only with our guests but with everyone interested in learning about sea turtles and how we can help protect them," said Jean-Marc Petin, General Manager of Harbour Village Beach Club. "We will catch the hatching live on camera, and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire will provide volunteers to sit with the nest each evening around hatching time to document the event and notify guests when to come and watch the turtles come out of the nest."

Harbour Village Beach Club is located on a four-acre private peninsula on Bonaire’s mainland. The nest, currently marked and roped off so as not to be disturbed, is located near the resort’s dive shop.

Bonaire is home to three of the seven species of sea turtles in the world: hawksbills, green turtles and loggerheads. Hawksbill turtles weigh up to 185 pounds and prefer calm, tropical waters near coral reefs. They come ashore only to nest. The turtle who laid the nest at Harbour Village came onto the beach on July 12. A Hawksbill turtle laid her eggs near the same spot in 1997. Since sea turtles usually return to next where they hatched to nest, local scientists believe the turtle was likely one of those hatchlings.

In addition to sea turtles, the Caribbean waters surrounding Bonaire teems with a wide variety of marine life. The island is designated as having the most pristine coral reef environment and most species of fish in the Caribbean by the NOAA and is consistently named Best Overall Dive Destination by Scuba Diving Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards. Due to the island’s leeward location outside of the hurricane belt, and its consistently pleasant climate, crystal-clear visibility prevails at any depth and gives an enthralling view of the undersea landscape. On land, Bonaire is also home to the world’s largest pink flamingo nesting grounds.

Dive sites just off Harbour Village’s shore include the shipwreck of the 60-foot "Our Confidence," located just 50 yards out, while another popular dive site, "Something Special," is also a short swim away. The resort also offers florescence night diving, allowing guests to use special UV lights to see the astounding array of florescent colors emitted by underwater animals and corals.

For more information on Bonaire and Harbour Village Beach Club, visit the luxury hotel’s website at or call 1-800-424-0004. To access the resort’s Turtlecam, visit :

Crystal Cruises Luxury Line Offering Infants Children’s & Teens Programs

For grandparents and families that want luxury travel with children or grandchildren, Crystal Cruises has made it an easy choice to cruise together in luxury, according to Ross Spalding, President-Crown Cruise Vacations.  Crystal offers one of the most comprehensive children’s programs at sea with outstanding offerings that exceed even the highest expectations.

Sophisticated cruise specialists at Crown Cruise Vacations provide exclusive offers, exceptional value & unparalleled service and can assist with any cruise information and booking.


Overview of the Children’s Program

Crystal Cruises’ extraordinary commitment to excellence and quality of experience applies to guests of all ages. Space dedicated to children is rare on luxury ships, yet Crystal has designed its ships to accommodate multiple generations. Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity offer spacious staterooms in a range of categories as well as suites, third berths, and connecting staterooms, child-friendly cuisine, highly acclaimed children’s programs on select sailings with activities for children ages 3-17, a Fantasia playroom, and a video arcade for teens. During holiday cruises, summer sailings and other selected itineraries, additional children’s activities are offered under the supervision of experienced Junior Activities Directors. For parents longing for some time on their own, all vessels offer in-stateroom babysitting.

The Facilities for Families
Many facilities on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity were designed with young guests in mind. Fantasia has supervised activities, tables and chairs for board games, arts and crafts, giant padded cubes, puzzles, and large-screen televisions with kid-sized stadium seating. Teenagers enjoy the Waves video arcade, which has Sony PlayStation® 2, Nintendo Wii™ and Xbox 360TM kiosks. The Library offers a selection of children’s books and videos for in-room viewing; children can also see recently released films in The Hollywood Theatre.

The Activities for Children

Crystal Cruises offers children a broad choice of organized activities and entertainment options. A daily Surf Runner newsletter provides details on the following day’s activity schedule, tailored by age group, available on cruises that typically have many children (summer cruises, shorter itineraries and holiday sailings):

  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Hide and Seek
  • Story Times / Ice cream / Pajama Parties
  • Stretch-ercise / Dress-up Playtime
  • Bridge / Galley tours
  • Cookie Baking / Pizza making
  • Fashion Shows / Coke-tails / card games
  • Karaoke / Special Artists’ Performances
  • Mask Parade / Trivia
  • Movies / Dancing
  • Mini Olympics / Relay Races
  • Pool Games / Paddle tennis
  • Water Polo / Swimming
  • Shuffleboard / Volleyball
  • Late Night Pool Parties / Teen disco
  • Trivial Pursuit Teen karaoke
  • Twister Popcorn Parties
  • Pizza Parties Computer University@Sea®
  • E-mail Services

The Children’s Dining

Crystal’s executive chefs and other culinary staff can prepare custom dishes and items comparable to those found on shoreside kids’ menus. Baby food, high chairs and booster seats are available on request. In addition to meals in the Crystal Dining Room and specialty restaurants, the Trident Grill & Ice Cream Bar serves complimentary hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and sandwiches as well as ice cream, non-fat yogurt and cookies throughout the afternoon.

Babysitting Services
All vessels offer in-stateroom babysitting for children over the age of 1. Arrangements can easily be made by contacting the concierge at least 24 hours in advance. Fees are $10 per hour for one child, $15 per hour for two children and $20 per hour for three children. To satisfy safety concerns, the maximum number of children/babies watched by one babysitter is three.

Family Savings

Children 11 and younger occupying the third berth pay 50 percent of the minimum fare when accompanied by two full-fare paying adults. Throughout the year, the line occasionally sets special promotions in which children can sail free when sharing a room with two adults.

Family Accommodations
Crystal Symphony offers ten connecting staterooms and 89 staterooms with a third berth available. On Crystal Serenity, there are 50 connecting staterooms and 154 staterooms with a third berth available.

Please note: Crystal Cruises is unable to accommodate children less than 6 months of age and reserves the right to restrict the number of those less than 3 years of age aboard the ships


Teen Program (ages 13 – 17)

Daytime Activities

  • Sony Playstation® 2, Nintendo® Xbox 360 and Wii Tournaments
  • Afternoon Games in the Bridge Lounge
  • Afternoon Movie in the Hollywood Theatre
  • CU@Sea classes in the computer lab
  • Golf Pro Educational Classes
  • Clue Hunt
  • Paddle Tennis
  • Table Tennis
  • Shuffle Board
  • Golfing Range
  • Fitness Classes with the Fitness Director (ages 16+) Library
  • Lectures – Destination and Special Guest
  • Backstage Tour
  • Galley Tour
  • Teen Trivia
  • Teen Bingo

Night Time Activities and Theme Nights

  • Poker Night
  • Texas Hold Em Tournament
  • Karaoke Night
  • Movie Night – in Fantasia or the Hollywood Theatre
  • Disco Night
  • Pictionary Night
  • Game Night in the Bridge Lounge
  • “Coke”tails – meet and greet for teens
  • Liar’s Club – hosted by the Cruise Director, for all guests on board. Check Reflections for time and location.
  • Liar’s Club – teen version hosted by the Junior Activities Director.
  • Pool and Hot Tub Party Hangout
  • Paddle Tennis Tournament
  • Casual Dining with Friends in the Lido
  • Toga Party
  • Destination Party – with themes planned according to where the ship is sailing
  • “What if” Conversation Starters
  • Five Minute Mysteries
  • Murder Mystery Night
  • Sail-away Party


  • Crystal Cruises is unable to accommodate children less than 6 months of age and reserves the right to restrict the number of those less than 3 years of age aboard the ships. There are no formal programs for children under 3.

Safety 1st Keep The Road Trip Car Organized #OurSummerJourney @Safety_1st

This is a partnered post and opinions are our own.

Unless you just started reading MomStart today, you already know I am a huge fan of road trips. I’m not afraid to just load up the family on a whim and travel somewhere. This year we’ve driving to San Francisco, The red wood forest, The Oregon Coast, LA, and Disneyland. We love road trips.

One thing I can say is that when we get back from road trips the car is a disaster. So we’ve recently teamed up with Safety 1st. to keep our car in better shape during our latest travels. We received a few organizational products, the Car Door Sanitation Station , the Just-in-Case Storage Station , and the Incognito™ Kid-Positioning Seat – Gray for review. They have helped so much. Not even ten minutes into our car ride today did my daughter start yelling eww grose Miles. I popped my head around and he had his protein bar melted in his hand playing with his truck at the same time. I was just thinking to myself, come on kid you know better than that. Really? I was grateful though that I had the Car Door Sanitation loaded up so I was easily able to grab some baby wipes and pass them back.


The kids love to color and draw and play with toys. Plus it’s nice to have snacks within their reach, the Just in Case Storage case has five different sections with pockets in a few of the sections allowing you to keep the car organized and the kids happy.


See Miles coloring:


We’re about to head off to Florida to finish off our summer vacations because school doesn’t start until September. If you are in the same boat as us, don’t be afraid to take a road trip and use Safety 1St to help you along the way.

Safety 1st would like to know your summer journey stories too. Let us know where you have been.


And Visit and like Safety 1St on Facebook to win a grand prize travel kit.