Category Archives: Christmas

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – an Orlando favorite


Whether you are visiting Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and the new Volcano Bay water park opening in 2017 or not, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a fantastic place to park yourself when in Orlando. As an official Universal hotel that is connected to the parks via shuttle bus service, it certainly has a lot to offer if those attractions are your destination. Aside from that, the 1950s and 1960s decor is so much fun, you might just find yourself wishing we were still living in that era. When you call guest services for things like extra towels, the person on the phone will tell you to “have a swell day” before you hang up. They are all in when it comes to the theme, and I love it!


On the day my family and I checked in, everything was decked out for Christmas, which made it even more spectacular. The teals, oranges, blues, and crisp whites in the color scheme had me thinking I had just gotten out of one of those classic cars parked out front and left my gigantic hard suitcases in the back seat.


This lobby is actually one where you might spot a few Universal characters. We saw Scooby Doo wandering through when we first arrived. A few minutes later, we had the most delightful visit with Lucille Ball, who gave my son an extra “free piece of cake” coupon since it was his birthday. The employees and characters go the extra mile and make the place truly special – even down to the folks at the cash register in the gift shop.



There are several dining choices at the resort, but we tried Bayliner Diner, which is similar to a food court in that you have many choices, and Galaxy Bowl, because my son had become obsessed with the cosmic bowling on the first night, so we elected to just let him bowl while we ate there on the second night.  There is also a Starbucks, Swizzle Lounge for procuring your adult beverages, and the Hideaway Cafe near the lazy river.


What a beautiful Florida night this was (see picture above).

We were upgraded to a suite in the Starlight building, which was quite pleasant and welcome, considering I had just booked a standard room with 2 queen beds. We had a small living room, a tall kitchen counter with stools where we could eat, and a small kitchenette with fridge, sink, microwave and Keurig (because let’s face it, some modern conveniences are “the most”). There was a sliding door separating all of that from the bedroom, where we had 2 queen beds and a closet area. The sink and mirror were in the same room, but the toilet had its own room to the left, and the shower plus another sink had their own room to the right. Fantastic set-up with 2 televisions. The rooms do mostly have outer entry, like an old-style motel, but some have interior entry if you prefer that.





There was more to Cabana Bay Beach Resort that we didn’t even have time to explore, since we were there to enjoy the Universal Parks, too. Speaking of which, there are regular shuttles that run back and forth to the parks and City Walk every 10 to 15 minutes from 7am to 2am. You also get into the parks an hour earlier than the general population, since you are staying at one of Universal’s hotels. This also means you have some dining plan options at your hotel, if you are on the Universal meal plan.

This was such a fun place to stay. I think we would stay there again even if we were not going to the Universal parks, but just visiting Orlando for other reasons.

To book your stay at Cabana Bay, contact Azalea Travel, a proud member of ASTA and CLIA.

Christmas Quiz: How many days of vacation do you deserve?


(A picture of my favorite ornament…I got it on a trip to The King & Prince Golf and Beach Resort)

A Christmas Quiz:  How many days of vacation do you deserve when this holiday is over?

Let’s face it, not everyone considers this the most wonderful time of year.  Yes, there’s a lot of wonder, excitement, and festive activity going on.  And we get to celebrate the birth of Christ, which is the best part of it.  The carols are great, the decorations are fun to see, but the season does create a very large holiday to-do list on top of your regular to-dos.  So I have created this quiz to help you determine how many days of vacation you deserve after this season is over.  Get out your pen and paper, and let’s begin! Choose one answer for each question, and give yourself the corresponding number of points.

  1. How’s your Christmas spirit right now?
    1. Santa, stop here! Cookies and milk are waiting! (Give yourself 1 point.)
    2. Just tying up some last minute details today and listening to Christmas carols on the radio, and then I will be ready for egg nog tonight. (Give yourself 2 points.)
    3. My Fala lala la is all Jingle Belled out. Can I take down the tree yet? (Give yourself 3 points.)
  2. How many days off do you have for Christmas?
    1. None, really. I’m working or on call for Christmas Day and/or Christmas Eve. (Give yourself 3 points.)
    2. I have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day completely off. (Give yourself 2 points).
    3. I have more than just these two days off – I am one of the fortunate ones! (Give yourself 1 point.)
  3. How many houseguests do you have?
    1. My family is local or we are seeing them another time. (Give yourself 1 point.)
    2. I have up to 2 guests, or am visiting at someone else’s house for a few days. (Give yourself 2 points.)
    3. I have 3 guests or more descending upon my home for an overnight stay. (Give yourself 3 points.)
  4. Are you baking or cooking for others?
    1. Nope! They can find their own goodies. (Give yourself 1 point for this.)
    2. My spouse or significant other did that. (Give yourself 2 points.)
    3. Whew. 8 batches of fudge and now working on tomorrow’s side dishes. (Give yourself 3 points.)
  5. Last question…How’s the outside of your house looking?
    1. Scrooge lives here. I put up a wreath or nothing at all. (Give yourself 1 point.)
    2. Buddy the Elf came by and put a tasteful sprinkling of Christmas cheer on my house. (Give yourself 2 points.)
    3. Clark Griswold would be proud. (Give yourself 3 points.)

Now, tally up your points and see how you score:

5-7 points = Even if you love this time of year and make the best of it with store-bought baked goods and an easy schedule, you still deserve to decompress a little after it’s all over.  Get 2016 off to a great start with a quick 3-5 night getaway!  Take a cruise, spend a long weekend in NYC, or catch a flight to Cancun.

8-11 points = Perhaps you’ve suffered some aggravation at the hands of family, inlaws, outlaws, or otherlaws. Or maybe you just went out of your way here and there to make it a special Christmas. Either way, wouldn’t it be nice to escape and unwind? Take about 7 nights to recreate yourself and do something that you’ve always wanted to do. Is it Hawaii?  Maybe it’s Cuba? You decide!

12-15 points = There’s no doubt about it.  You’ve really put yourself out for others this season.  You’ve had to endure a holiday that maybe you don’t even enjoy that much for one reason or another. Nobody is more entitled to a break from the daily grind than you are.  10-14 nights, or more, are what this doctor of travel prescribes for you to recharge your batteries. This is a great length of time to do that European tour or river cruise you’ve always dreamed of. This is definitely a good time to do something more exotic or distant, like China, Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, or Australia.

Whatever your score, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Azalea Travel