Looking of an All Inclusive Family Getaway? Review of the Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana #Giveaway

Nickelodeon Punta Cana

Your looking for an all inclusive family getaway … now the question is, how to choose a family resort … pictures on the internet? O.k fine, but remember that commercial you saw on television that shows that super delicious perfect looking hamburger and then you go to get it and it looks deflated and NOTHING like it did in the commercial … Right! You get it!

I guess you can call me a skeptic, but come on … I want to hear real people’s reviews and see real pictures, not the picture perfect images you see on websites of every child smiling and every parent smiling while they are all sipping of fruity drinks in the sun while nobody burns.

So that’s what I am here for! 

Let me first say, I was NOT gifted this vacation to the Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana, I was NOT given anything for free and nobody paid me to review it. I did however have a really good travel agent who helped us plan this trip and because I mentioned I have a blog she offered to add in a giveaway to my review.

So let’s get down to business (this is going to be a long one, but all details and little secrets/hints/notes are going to be in this post).

The Bus:
– First question people always have is how far is the airport from the hotel? 45 minutes is the answer. There was one stop prior to the stop at the Nickelodeon.
Hint: No need to grab your beers before getting on the bus, they have them on the bus waiting for you (for purchase of course).

Checking In:
– Upon check in, you are offered a glass of champagne (yes please) and kids are offered a green coloured smoothie (my kids wouldn’t go near it because they thought it was vegetables which it wasn’t).
– While the parents check-in, there is a clear glass room in the lobby for your kids that has a television playing Nickelodeon shows and toys to play with. This is to keep them from pulling on your bags yelling at you to hurry up while you are calmly trying not to yell at them to leave you alone for a minute while you make sure everything is correct on your reservation (nice touch Nickelodeon, nice touch!).

The Rooms (we had a 1 bedroom suite):
– We had a golf cart take us to our building where our room resided (the resort is quite large) and I have to say, the rooms surpassed my expectations.
– The bathroom was large and had both a stand alone bathtub that had a hand shower and there was a shower that also had a hand shower. Let me tell you, the hand showers are VERY convenient for when the kids come back from the beach covered in sand and you need to quickly get it off before heading to kids club or dinner.
– There are two big closets with lots of drawers, a master bedroom with sliding doors at both ends and a main living room with a pullout couch and television, a long table behind it and little stools for when you order room service, the kids can sit there and eat.
– The balcony is quite large and has a big lounger (seen below), two chairs and best of all … wait for it … it had an extendable drying rack BRILLIANT!!!!!! (how I didn’t take a picture of it is beyond me). I have to say that some of swim up rooms looked pretty awesome. One pool had a bar in it (who wouldn’t love that), but of course it is a significant jump in price.
Hint: if you want your room cleaned daily, make sure to touch the “clean up” button on the inside of your room which is not always visible right away. If the button is not pushed, your room will not be cleaned

IMG_2072

The Staff:
– The staff at the Nickelodeon were amazing!!!! They were happy, they were dancing and most of all, they were amazing to the kids (Orquid, Lizabeth, Christopher, Santa and many more were truly wonderful).
– The staff on the regular grounds (The Sensitori) were kind and mostly would say hi to everyone who walked by, but a good portion of the staff did not speak English and were mostly confused when you asked them a question. That being said, there were a group of staff members that went out their way to help you with special requests (like getting Rice Krispies at dinner time for your little one who won’t eat anything – thank you Randor) or serving you at your special beach dinner and make it a fun night for the adults (Alexander, you were a blast).
Hint: whether you are sitting at the beach or at the pools, there are always staff walking around offering you beverages at all times, make sure to bring money with you as tips go along way!

Nickelodeon Punta Cana Staff

The Food:
– Now I am a very basic (some like to call it “picky”) eater, but the crew I was with were not nearly as picky (probably the opposite) and we all found something to eat at every meal however the food was … just o.k. There was a buffet for dinner that we went to every night with the kids (Sugarcane) and it had lots of options (every night was themed food), but we didn’t particularly love the food there. Just an FYI not one buffet had chicken fingers … shocking really!
– There are two daytime buffets (the Lighthouse and Zest, the food at Lighthouse was MUCH better in our opinion – food seemed fresher there) and both typically had pizza, pasta’s, cheeses, salad type items, mini burgers and lots of breads.
– There was a bbq on the beach daily (not on the weekend though) which had fresh bbq’d burgers and chicken/beef skewers. The chicken skewers were very good and I basically had that for lunch everyday.
– Us adults went out every night for dinner (we had babysitters with the kids) and not one restaurant exceeded our expectations. That being said, the decor of the restaurants were unreal!
– Room service some nights was absolutely necessary, but it would typically take about an hour for the food to arrive. This is the only place you will find chicken fingers which were kind of worth the wait as they were actually delicious. On the other hand, they did not have plain or buttery noodles of any kind on the menu which yet again really shocked me. That being said, when I spoke to them and explained that my child eats nothing else and I couldn’t understand why this wasn’t on a menu in a kids resort they were able to accommodate me.
– The Character breakfast is a must! There is a surcharge for it, but I HIGHLY recommend it. The characters are all in their pajamas and the kids get to dance and hang out with them while eating breakfast.
Notes: Sugarcane is only open for breakfast and dinner. Zest is not open for lunch until 1:00pm on the weekends – I am telling you this so you don’t schlep your kids all the way to these restaurants like we did only to find out they were closed

The Beach:
– Having very little experience with beaches, I would say their beach was really quite nice. The sand was soft, the kids were able to hunt for shells and the water was pretty warm. That being said there were days when we couldn’t go in because the waves were too rough, but that didn’t seem to bother the them at all
– There are day beds along the back of the beach, these are available to use at no charge, but you have to book them 24 hours in advance and I believe you have to go to the day bed area to reserve it, you can’t book via phone.
– There are tons of seats with umbrellas, however they get snatched up pretty quickly so make sure to go get yours early. Late afternoon there is virtually no shade on the beach so load up with sunscreen
Hint: you don’t have to buy beach toys for $20 at the store (which, might I add, only includes a pail and shovel), just ask the guys at the towel stand for them as they have lots of them hidden back there, but make sure to return whatever you borrow so that others can enjoy. I wish I knew this ahead of time :)

Nickelodeon Punta Cana Beach

The Nickelodeon Kids Club (Just Kiddin’):
– I can’t begin to explain how great the kids club is
– It is situated in the Nickelodeon area which you would either get a lift to by their golf carts or take a family walk over there (it can be a little bit of a walk depending on where your room is located on the property).
– The age requirement is 4+ however younger kids are able to go, but they have to be accompanied by an adult so we hired one of their kids club babysitters and she watched my mini while he was there. Legit, my little guy couldn’t get there faster, he absolutely loved it. It is VERY clean, big, has video games for the older kids, televisions playing Nickelodeon shows, tons of Nickelodeon toys, a slide with a huge ball pit at the bottom and a giant tree house. They cook with the kids, do science projects and do all sorts of art projects (like making ninja pillows). My kids really had the best time there
– There are night hours (I think it is 7pm-9pm) where you can drop off your kids, some nights were themed like a pajama party and they would give the kids popcorn and show a movie (check the schedule for those nights)
– They also host a family night on the Saturday where they have a buffet open in the Nickelodeon area (normally they close that area at 5:00pm for the night – keep that in mind) and have a busker type show which was pretty cool. They say it starts at 7:30pm – DONT RUSH because the show doesn’t start until 8:30pm, however they do have characters out for everyone to meet prior (note: leave a little early so you can get on a golf cart and not have to wait in a long line – best tip of the trip right there)

Nickelodeon Punta Cana Kids Club

The Nickelodeon Pool:
– This pool is every kids (and adult if you are a kid at heart) dream … honestly. I just watched all the kids running around having the best time and wished they had something like this when I was a kid. There were slides for little one’s (oh and at the bottom of the slide they had some sort of padded ground so they didn’t hurt themselves – someone was thinking ahead) and they had bigger slides for the older kids.
– The whole water play structure has a million things for kids to do on it, be careful you don’t get caught under the big bucket that fills up and spills over (it just missed me lol).
– The pool is just under knee high on adults so you can figure out on your child how deep, my mini who is very little could walk throughout the pool no problem
– Part way through the afternoon everyone gathers around and they have slime time! The staff dance and sing and then they choose random room numbers to be slimed (yup we were chosen – to see us getting slimed check out my Instagram account terri_babylishadvice). Not to worry though if you don’t want to do it, you can opt out. It’s just green water and my son loved it!
Note: This pool closes at 5:00pm (just so you know and  you don’t make the mistake we did showing up at 4:30pm and having to deal with a meltdown because they couldn’t go in)

Nickelodeon Punta Cana Pool

Babysitters:
– Thanks to our amazing travel agent, she had pre-arranged babysitters for us prior to going on the trip which was a huge help
– Our babysitter was the same person that my mini was with during kids club and my boys absolutely adored her (thanks Orquid) which worked out well because I thought the boys would revolt against me when I told them a babysitter will be coming in. As soon as they heard it was Orquid they both got so excited, in fact they wanted us to leave.
– I can’t recall exactly how much babysitting was, but I would say around $20 an hour
– For those who want to get babysitters but are anxious, the babysitters take your phone number should anything go wrong and you are literally minutes from your room.
– We still keep in contact with our babysitter, she FaceTime’s the kids all the time, they miss her
Note: all the babysitters were certified (for those who are weary about leaving their kids with strangers).

Got a Baby?:
– Not to worry they have you covered! Let them know ahead of time what you need and it will be in your room waiting
– Cribs they have, monitors, strollers, sterilizers, bottle warmers, pack n’ play, baby baths, high chair, sleepers and more

The Grounds:
– For starters the property is really big but they take care of that by having golf carts constantly going through the grounds giving lifts to all who need
– The resort is VERY clean! There are staff members at all areas constantly taking care of the property
– There is music playing throughout the property during the day which I thought was a nice touch
– There are personal concierge desks every hotel block so if you have any questions, they are the one’s to go see
– It seems there were little surprises throughout the property i.e. there was a “sewer” that appeared to be a sewer but when you stepped on it, the Ninja Turtles started talking … MIND BLOWN!

Nickelodeon Punta Cana Grounds

Characters:
– I often saw commercials of places like this where characters are walking around the property greeting the kids and pictured it to be kind of like a mosh pit. NOT TRUE. There are set times of day and locations where you can come meet your favorite Nickelodeon characters. Our kids got to meet Sponge Bob and the Pink guy (sorry i’m not caught up with the names of all the characters), Dora the Explorer and Boots, Marshall and Chase and the three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
– I was pleasantly shocked how organized the meet and greet’s were. For the morning meet and greet, the characters are in a room where families line up to meet them (or if your my kid, you charge in front of everyone and photobomb someone else’s pictures with their kids – he couldn’t contain his excitement the first day). The afternoon’s the characters were outdoors but in a specific spot and again you need to line up to meet them
– There is a photographer there taking family pictures with the characters, but not to worry they don’t have a “no phone’s or photo’s” rule so we took pictures with our phones

Nickelodeon Punta Cana Characters

Night Life:
– What night life? True story. At 10:00pm the place essentially shuts down, restaurants are long closed, music shuts down and the bar is done (make sure to stock up)!
– At about 8:00pm(ish) the main food area has live music, clowns on stilts and entertainers come out to entertain the kids
– We brought cards to entertain us at night (if you are need of some good card games let me know)

My Travel Agent:
– For these kinds of trips I always look for a travel agent to help out as they know different properties, they have reviews and can get you all the information you need including deals (I get very overwhelmed looking on websites)
– We used a wonderful agent who reached out to us at the right time and she was extremely patient with our many many requests. Now remember, she wasn’t dealing with just 1 person, she was dealing with 3 os us all of which had individual questions, special requests with dates, times, rooms etc and she handled us beautifully 
– For whatever reason, the day before we left I tried checking in and it kept saying that there were no reservations – well, I obviously panicked and wrote her (on the weekend, a long weekend at that) and she immediately wrote back to me assuring me there were no issues and telling me what to do
– She checked in while on the trip, when we had issues with something there she called the hotel and dealt with them right away and immediately after the trip she checked in to see how it went (I mean … come on … that’s service)
– Booking through a Gourmet Inclusive Vacation Consultant & Nickelodeon specialist (as Mandy is) gets you as a guest special perks when booking at a Karisma property
– For those interested in going on a trip and need assistance I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend calling her, you will not regret it!
Contact Information: Mandy Delve The Travel Network mandy@thetravelnetwork.com 

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
Yup that’s right, there is a giveaway! Enter to win: four (4) days, three FREE (3) nights Gourmet Inclusive® stay for two (2) people in a Leading Room Category at the Azul Beach Resort Rivera Maya by Karisma (it has the Nickelodeon Experience). Here’s how to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Certificate will be issued upon receipt of winner’s name and it will be valid for one (1) year from March 1, 2017. Blackout dates may apply

 

Get Ready to Run Walk Wheel and Roll

Threetobe

Do you know Three to Be? If you don’t than you should because it’s an amazing non-profit organization who’s “mission is to support and advance the development of innovative research, therapies and education for children with neurological disorders and their families.” and boy have they done wonderful things!

So what are you doing on Sunday May 24th? No plans, great! Bring the whole family to Run Walk Wheel and Roll which is a fun event for adults and kids. This amazing event gives everyone the opportunity to participate whichever way they want, whether it be going for a 1K walk, 3K stroll or 5K run (or whichever way you want to do it), there is something for every ability.

It only costs $15 per participant! When you register you can set up a page to share with your family and friends to encourage them to make a donation to this wonderful cause AND it doesn’t stop there … with each entry, your name is entered into a draw to attend the Finale of Big Brother Canada and receive an exclusive tour of the house where you might see the Final 3 house guests! (ummm A-M-A-Z-I-N-G). The top fundraiser will also have a chance to win a trip for two to St. Lucia (airfare not included) staying at the luxurious Windjammer resort!

See below for more information for the location of the event.

Run Walk Wheel and Roll

REGISTER HERE

SPONSOR HERE

 So whether you are runnin’, walkin’, wheelin’ or strollin’ make sure to come out and join in the fun while supporting an amazing cause.

Check Three to Be out:
on Facebook
on Twitter

T.
xo

Fall has Begun at Kidville

Kidville Canada

It’s funny how we wait all year for summer to come and then as soon as summer arrives, us parents immediately have to start planning our kids programs for Fall. Of course we want them to be outside as much as possible to soak in the last little bit of decent weather, but as we all know, one minute it’s Fall and the next, you look outside and there is snow on the ground. Is it just me or is there is no gradual weather change anymore?! Speaking of which, it is officially freezing outside (yes I just used the word freezing to describe mid September, but hey three days ago it was 28 degrees and now it is 8) so time to start moving those playdates and music groups indoors.

Since Kidville opened in Toronto, I was very curious about their classes as I had been to multiple birthday parties there and I loved so many aspects of it, but since I work full time and am not in walking distance it wasn’t possible for me at the time to attend classes.

Mid-summer, I was asked to have some friends attend a class at Kidville called Rockin’ Railroad for review and since I was on maternity leave, I happily accepted and honestly speaking I can not say enough great things about the class and facility. Let me start off by saying that this is not your standard music class where you have a music teacher singing the Alphabet song and Twinkle Twinkle with some little puppets on their fingers.

Kidville Toronto

 

This music class has a 4 piece children’s band playing fun, upbeat music and they have every tool in the box to keep the little one’s engaged throughout the entire class. Everything from big puppets, books, bubbles, hand instruments and big drums teaching your children tempo, rhythm, word recognition, and sound identification. Truly what more can you ask for in a music class.

Kidville Toronto

 

After music class, we were all invited into their amazing indoor play-space/gym and all I have to say is WOW! Basically it is a giant padded play room where kids can play in a safe environment. They have a mini zip line and climbing wall for the older children and a lot of large geometric padded shapes for the little one’s to play in/on and explore.

Kidville Toronto

 

The cleanliness of the facility is amazing; no shoes for both the adults and the kids and there is a ‘must wear socks’ rule which I appreciate (so no bare feet – yuk).

We loved our experience at Kidville and I am absolutely certain you and your little one(s) will as well. Fall session has JUST begun, so make sure to check out all they have to offer because they have great, one of a kind programs that nobody else offers!  Call Kidville at (416) 483-7070 to learn more and to register today

Happy playing
T.
xo

African Lion Safari Review and Enter to WIN!

African Lion Safari Review

You can’t tell me that every time you hear “African Lion Safari” you don’t sing the jingle in your heard (or in my case out loud), it’s so catchy!!!

To tell you the truth, i’ve always know about African Lion Safari, but wasn’t sure I wanted to go simply because I was scared my car would get wrecked by the animals (well that’s what the rumour was), so I just figured it as a place I would never see … BIG MISTAKE!!! I had the opportunity to go this past weekend (which I was going to pass on originally) and honestly speaking I want to go back again it was so much fun. Let me tell you about my experience:

First let me say that I thought we were driving into Jurassic Park with the big caged entrance and my girlfriend and I couldn’t stop laughing (we tend to laugh when we are uncomfortable). Within the first two minutes, we saw gorgeous lions (males and females) honestly 10-15 feet from our car and the kids went CRAZY!!!!!!!! For the nervous parents out there (ya that’s me) windows always have to stay closed and there are staffed trucks driving around dissuading a lion from approaching a car … eek.

African Lion Safari Review

No zoom on these pictures

RUMOUR CONTROL: there is a sign that says MONKEY BYPASS and that is your opportunity to pass by the monkey area and head straight to the next animal. Now, our plan was to bypass the monkey’s, but amongst our excitement from seeing the lions, we saw the bypass sign as we were driving by it … oops. It is true, the monkey’s do climb and play on cars, but from what we saw, they really gravitate towards the pick-up trucks. I think we secretly hoped that a monkey would climb on our car, but that was not the case (probably a good thing) and there were no damaged cars! As a side note: there is a bus that you can go on to take the tour if you are truly worried about your car (additional cost).

African Lion Safari Review

That’s not our car :) – Again, no zoom

The boys saw Giraffes (including a baby one), Zebras, Rhino’s and Gazelle’s, but the best was the Ostrich which crossed the road right in front of us and then walked right over to our car and started tapping at the window and made everyone laugh hysterically.

African Lion Safari

It doesn’t stop there! At 12:30 daily, there is an elephant swim where everyone gathers along the fence to watch all the elephants take a dip. I recommend going early to this because it’s hard to find a spot where the little one’s can see. Lucky for us, there was a kind lady who let the boys go in front of her so they could see and they swim along the edge and play in the water.

African Lion Safari Review

Now the biggest reveal … African Lion Safari has THE BEST WATER PARK EVER!!!!!!!!!! Who knew????!!!!! How come with everything I have heard, nobody has ever talked about this INSANE water park???!!!! I wish there was a video tape of all our reactions when seeing this water park for the first time because it must have been classic. Great for kids of all ages and there are so many interactive things to play with! One note: for the water slides and the tropical pool (I just named it that), there is a height restriction which accompanies a green wristband.

African Lion Safari Water Park

We ended our day there because that was a lot of excitement for one day (my guy passed out at 7:15pm) but there is so much more to do there: Bird and animal performances, Boat cruise, Scenic railway tour and a petting zoo … next time!

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
Thank you to our friends at African Lion Safari, they are giving away a family pass for 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) to one lucky reader! The contest is open to residents of Ontario only. Here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy safari’ing
T.
xo