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Berlin

The first time Jack and I planned a winter trip to Berlin, our friends and family thought we were crazy. Despite the freezing temperatures, the holiday season in Germany’s capital is magical – it’s why Jack and I have gone back to Berlin each December for the last 3 years.
Now to answer the question, why Berlin in the winter: Bratwurst and Gluhwein! Actually there is so much to this city. To be prepared we packed our parkas, hats, scarves, gloves and winter boots and set off to Berlin for a quick trip.
One of the things that draws us back to Berlin year after year are the Christmas markets. Every Platz has another Christmas market, filled with food stands, crafts, beer and mulled wine (Gluhwein). What we find is that the local community go to these markets to visit with friends over a meal, a drink, and to buy unique gifts such as handmade hats, olive oil wood products, and so much more. As I write this I can still smell the bratwurst on the open grill with the peppers and onions being placed on a roll.

Berlin is a city filled with food but also rich with history and culture. We were ready to walk off some of the bratwurst so we strolled down the lovely Unter der Linden. If you need a quick break from the cold — and feel like you need a bit of American comforts — there’s a Dunkin Donuts along the way.

Filled with caffeine from Dunkin Donuts and still full from bratwurst, we made our way to the Museum Island on the Spree River — which always seems to look closer on the map than it really is!

Museum Island, an island in the middle of Berlin where you can explore five different museums. At this UNESCO World Heritage Site you can see a bust of the Egyptian queen Neferiti, the spectacular Pergamon Altar, and the breathtaking Ishtar Gate.
After spending some time on Museum Island we we headed to the Reichstag, Germany’s Parliament building. I highly recommend your purchase your ticket in advance, which will save you time waiting in line out in the cold. Prior to climbing to the top up a ramp, grab the audio guide as it will tell you what you are looking at on the way up and then back down. The building is magnificent and a quick trip. I’d recommend 30 minutes and you will be off to the next site.

From the Reichstag, we took a 10-minute taxi ride to see the Schloss Charlottenburg Palace. The palace is beautiful with many original furniture pieces. Similar to the Reichstag, be sure to grab the audio guide as it explains the family tree and what each room was used for during a particular time period.

I can’t recommend Berlin enough. It’s a charming city filled with cultural influences from across the globe. The food and the history alone are enough to keep us coming back year after year.

 

The Grand at Moon

Surprised. Delighted. Excited. These are just a few of the words that immediately come to mind after my husband and my recent stay at The Grand at Moon Palace near Cancun, Mexico.  When planning our most recent trip to Mexico, I was not exactly thrilled to be spending time at a family resort without our family. That thought quickly disappeared as we stepped into the breathtaking lobby at the Grand at Moon Palace. After a quick and efficient check-in process, we were whisked away to our palatial room.

Spacious rooms await 

There are 5 different room categories for you to book at the Grand at Moon Palace. The Grand Family Deluxe room category is the perfect option if you want to be guaranteed a connecting room with your children. If you are looking for a unique family experience, try the Grand Swim-up suite where you can dive into the water off your private patio. The Grand Deluxe resort view or garden view are also spacious rooms with a large jacuzzi whirlpool in your room. Every room category offers a large, comfy sitting area for you to unwind after a long day at the pool or on the beach.

Activities for days

Even if you don’t opt for the Grand Swim-up suite, there are pools everywhere throughout the resort. You could even pick a different one each day! The white-sand beach is full of lounge chairs with cushions and plenty of umbrellas. Bar service at the beach was always available and quick. Not to mention, there are 12 bars throughout the resort so you’re never far from a daiquiri or margarita.

While you’re enjoying your margarita beach-side, your kids will be having the time of their life at the kids club. When we toured the kids club, I had the impossible choice between a bag of popcorn or a red velvet cupcake. As we continued the tour of the kids club, we moved onto the virtual reality sports arcade, bumper cars, and the ropes course. The kids club is the ultimate oasis for your kids to escape boring adult talk.

Delicious dining options for the entire family

With 14 restaurants, I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to try all of them during our short 3 day stay.

Problem solved! I downloaded the Palace Resort App and could determine what restaurant was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was also really helpful that we could peruse all the menus in advance. Obviously if you’re traveling with young kids this is a great method for making sure there are plenty of options for those picky eaters.

If you prefer a la carte dining versus the buffet there are many options. For instance, you could order off the menu for breakfast at the Lebanese restaurant or you could experience Peruvian food for lunch and then enjoy dinner at the French restaurant aptly named Le Chateau. If you’re looking for an adults-only restaurant Le Chateau is the place for you. At the Boulangerie (the coffee shop), you can pick up a handmade piece of chocolate, a specialty coffee or even a yummy crepe.

All the restaurants have a kid’s menu and offer signature drinks for adults. In addition to the dining options mentioned above you can also enjoy other cuisines like Caribbean, Mexican, Italian, Asian, steakhouse, tapas and the Grand Buffet. We were blown away with the dining options at the Grand at Moon Palace. Not only are there plenty of options to please the whole family but the food quality and depth of flavors is quite impressive.

Service that rivals any boutique resort

The service at The Grand is what impressed me the most. If you needed to get up from the table, your napkin was immediately folded. Those of us who wear black colored clothing are grateful for a black napkin versus a white napkin. When we ate at the Grand Buffet my dish was always carried to my table. No detail is too small for the staff at the Grand at Moon Palace. They are attentive, friendly, and accomodating to ensure your vacation is excellent.

After feasting my way through the resort’s delicious dining options, I thought I should spend some time in the fitness center. Again, I was blown away. It was huge, clean, and had all of the most up-to-date equipment. There is a spin room and a yoga room with classes throughout the the day.

Added bonus

Another added bonus to this fabulous resort is the resort credits. The longer you stay, the more resort credits are available to you (up to $1500 per room). The resort credits can be used for excursions, golf, upgraded wine, or at the spa. You can put some of the credit toward your family swimming with dolphins or treat yourself to a day filled with pampering at the tranquil spa.

As you can probably tell from my glowing review, I loved our stay at the Grand at the Moon Palace. The resort spared no expense and no detail is too small for the incredible staff. I can’t recommend this resort enough as the perfect family getaway with plenty of activities and dining options for all ages.

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