Steamboating Through America’s Heartland is Back on the American Queen

American Queen
Bookings begin today for America’s only authentic, overnight, paddlewheel steamboat, the grand American Queen.

There’s never been a better time to rediscover America.  And the Great American Steamboat Company has the perfect way to explore the heartland of our great nation—aboard the grand American Queen, the only authentic, overnight paddlewheel steamboat in America.

There’s no more unique way to experience the history, heritage and culture of America’s heartland than a voyage aboard a genuine steamboat.  Stroll through charming towns and vibrant river cities.  Explore historic ports of call like New Orleans, Natchez, Mark Twain’s Hannibal, Chattanooga and Pittsburgh, just to name a few. Along the way, you’ll learn about the great events and people that have contributed to America’s history and culture.

Fares will include:

  • Exciting voyages for three to 11 nights on the American Queen.
  • Shore excursions to fascinating river towns and cities.
  • One-night luxury hotel stay and transfers before or after your voyage included in price.
  • Complimentary bottled water and soft drinks.
  • Complimentary wines and beers with dinner.
  • An array of sumptuous dining options including regional cuisine by famed American Chef Regina Charboneau.
  • Captain’s Champagne Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner.
  • All regular shore tours included in the price of your voyage.
  • Hot and cold canapes at cocktail hour every evening.

The Ship: The Grand American Queen

The largest steamboat ever built, the grand American Queen is a gracious and elegant triumph of American ingenuity.

Although filled with today’s modern amenities, her rooms and accommodations display all the opulence of the American Victorian era. Glistening woodwork, fresh flowers and antiques adorn her interior spaces. Outside, lacy filigree evokes memories of the many stately river steamers that preceded her and so inspired her designers.

While on board, you can select a volume from the vast collection in the Mark Twain Gallery, the boat’s library. Or enjoy a sing-along in the Main Deck Lounge, and then tap your toes to a lavish show in the two-deck-tall Grand Saloon, the most elegant showplace on the river.

Check out their website here, then email Island Time Travel for a quote!



10 Hotels in Movies

Ever wonder what it would be like to stay in the same hotel as Bill Murray in Lost in Translation or wake up in a penthouse suite in Caesars like the guys from the Hangover? Well this is your chance. This is a list of ten hotels which were featured in movies and we can offer you a chance to live large like a movie star with one of our vacation packages.

Caesars Palace

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Movie: The Hangover (2009)

The true comedy of The Hangover begins when three friends Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis wake up in their Caesars’ suite without their groom-to-be friend Justin Bartha. Caesars Palace is famous worldwide for its magnificent beauty and impeccable service. This majestic Las Vegas hotel offers a 129,000 square foot casino, 26 restaurants and cafes, sprawling gardens and pools, a world-class spa, and the renowned Colosseum spotlighting world-class stars. Caesars will allow its guests to find out whether the tagline from The Hangover, “Some guys just can’t handle Vegas,” includes them or not.

St. Regis Bora Bora Resort

Location: Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Movie: Couples Retreat (2009)

St. Regis Bora Bora Resort provided a perfect setting for the Vince Vaughn comedy Couples Retreat where couples in struggling relationships come to this beautiful resort to try to fix their problems. From the Oasis Pool; to the central pool, with a swim-up bar; to the saltwater private lagoon, full of native fish and stingrays, St. Regis allows guests to dive into the many pleasures of paradise. Private villas offer guests a chance to experience one of the most beautiful and romantic islands in the Pacific.


Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Movie: Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004), & Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

The Bellagio is home to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s movies which were jam-packed with A-list actors such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. The hotel provides its guests with a retreat unto themselves, the 3,933 Guest Rooms and Suites are an extension of its AAA Five Diamond Award-winning Las Vegas hotel. Bellagio provides a Las Vegas entertainment experience for everyone, whether you prefer high-energy or a more intimate experience.

Park Hyatt Tokyo Hotel

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Movie: Lost in Translation (2003)

This five star hotel, located right in the heart of Shinjuku, one of Tokyo’s best known business districts, provided the main setting of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation featuring actors Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.  Occupying the top 14 floors of Shinjuku Park Tower, Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel overlooks Tokyo and the Kanto Plain all the way to Mount Fuji. Located in the Shinjuku district, this hotel is close to Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku Park, Nishi Shinjuku and areas of Shibuya and Aoyama.


Location: Miami, Florida
Movie: Goldfinger (1964), The Bodyguard (1992), & Scarface (1983)

Whether it was Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger, Kevin Costner protecting the star singer Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, or Al Pacino as the gangster Tony Montana in Scarface this beautiful hotel in Miami Beach has provided the movie industry with a perfect set location for many memorable films. Fontainebleau’s  striking design, contemporary art, music, fashion and technology merge into a vibrant new kind of guest experience. The 22-acre oceanfront hotel features signature restaurants by award-winning chefs; two chic nightlife venues; a two-story, 40,000-square-foot spa, expansive poolscape, a pristine Atlantic Ocean beach and state-of-the-art conference and event facilities.

The Grand Hotel

Location:Taipei, China
Movie: Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1994)

The Grand Hotel in Taipei was the location of the Academy Award nominated movie Eat Drink Man Woman. Supported by red columns and with golden roof tiling, the Grand Hotel stands much like a majestic 14-story palace. The hotel is equipped with 487 rooms which offer a birds-eye-view of bustling Taipei in the day and a serene city at night. The Grand Hotel offers a variety of dining choices, including Chinese, Western and Japanese restaurants.

The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa

Location: Lake Lure, North Carolina
Movie: Dirty Dancing (1987)

The Lake Lure Inn was one of the locations used in the romantic film Dirty Dancing starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. Whether you’re an adventurer seeking a “Dirty Dancing” themed cabin, prefer the nostalgia of the historic Inn, or just need a relaxing weekend laying by the pool the Lake Lure Inn has what you are looking for. From its boat rental service, to its perfect wedding scenery, the Lake Lure Inn will provide guests with a perfect vacation location.

Stanley Hotel

Location: Estes Park, Colorado
Movie: The Shining (1980)

Although the movie itself was not filmed in the Stanley Hotel, the book that inspired it was written about Steven Kings stay in room 217 of the Stanley. Whether you are a big Jack Nicholson fan or Steven King fan, the hotel will bring memories of The Shining to anyone who visits. The Stanley Hotel is a historic landmark hotel in a spectacular mountain-view location, offering old-world charm matched with the latest of modern amenities. Guests can take a ghost and history tour, use the full-service spa or just relax and enjoy the view from your room or suite. The Stanley Hotel sits 7,500 feet above the ordinary in beautiful Estes Park, an hour from Denver and minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hotel Des Mille Collines

Location: Kigali, Rwanda
Movie: Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Hotel Des Mille Collines is the hotel which was used by Don Cheadle as a shelter to save his fellow countrymen in Rwanda from genocide. The Mille Collines is a four star hotel with a fine setting and personalized service situated in a large exotic garden in downtown Kigali, Rwanda. Enjoy culinary delights and international cuisine in the top floor Restaurant “Le Panorama” with its magnificent view over Kigali.

Beverly Wilshire

Location: Beverly Hills, California
Movie: Pretty Woman (1990) & Beverly Hills Cop (1984

This five star hotel was where Julia Roberts and Richard Gere stayed in the romantic comedy Pretty Woman, and also where Eddie Murphy lived in the hilarious comedy Beverley Hills Cop. In the heart of Beverly Hills this historic hotel buzzes with vitality from dramatic renovations, blending tradition and trend. See-and-be-seen dining and glamorous events are balanced by quiet, personal comfort in the spa, the pool and luxury guest rooms.

Secrets Marquis Los Cabos to Open November 2011

AMResorts (Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets, Dreams, Now and Sunscape Resorts & Spas) will officially debut the adults-only Secrets Marquis Los Cabos in Mexico this fall.

The company will begin property operations on October 9, with a full rebranding to take effect on November 1.  The introduction of Secrets Marquis Los Cabos represents the
brand’s entry into the popular vacation destination of Los Cabos.

Secrets Resorts & Spas are adults only and offer limitless access to gourmet a la carte dining and premium beverage brands, 24-hour room and concierge services, countless daytime activities, live evening entertainment, fitness facilities, and much more.

Read the full article by Joe Pike from Travel Agent Central here.

Related: Resort Review: Secrets Capri Riviera Maya

Resort Review: Secrets Capri Riviera Maya

Secrets Capri Riviera MayaHad a very nice stay at Secrets Capri, and we would definitely go back, however we may want to try Silversands and Maroma Beach also, mostly because we like to try different places.  This was our first time at Secrets Capri, although not to Mexico.

Upon arrival in Cancun, getting through immigration and customs took 55 minutes; we learned from our transfer driver this process can take as long as two hours on Saturdays.  Our transfer from airport to resort worked perfectly with USA Transfers.  They provide very clear and detailed instructions on their confirmations, so we easily found Manuel waiting for us just outside the airport.  Waited just a few minutes for our private van and we were off to Secrets.  Both of our USA drivers (both from and back to airport) were courteous and asked us if the air conditioning setting was appropriate, but the driver on the arrival transfer stopped to get gas which delayed us a few minutes.

Upon arrival at 2:00 p.m., we were greeted with an enthusiastic “welcome home,” a cold towel, and champagne.  Room was not ready, so we had lunch at the buffet.  We checked back at 2:45 p.m.–still not ready.  I got the feeling that when they say your room will not be ready till 3, they mean it will not be ready till 3.  Check in at 3:00 p.m. took only a few minutes and we were escorted to our third floor room, a deluxe ocean view; great pool and ocean view with balcony.  A plate of fresh fruit, welcome letter, and bottle of champagne were waiting for us.  The bellman showed us how everything in the room worked, including the AC, light switches, and laptop-sized programmable safe.  Others have mentioned problems with their room AC, but ours was fine and got the room as cold as you wanted it.  Mini bar had three mini bottles of Corona, Coke, Coke light, orange juice.  On top of the mini bar was the coffee maker, three small bottles of liquor, small can of Pringles, and peanut M & M’s.  We did have to ask about robes (provided in every room), which were promptly delivered after mentioning it to the concierge for our wing of the resort; she also brought us some flowers for the room (nice touch).

Dinner first night at the Oceana (seafood) restaurant.  We sat outside and our server, Richardson, was great.  The salmon was wonderful.

Breakfast two of the days was at the Seaside Grill, outside table overlooking beach.  Great breakfast and excellent service by Jesus.  Had breakfast and lunch at the buffet two days, which was good and offered many choices.  There was a waffle/pancake and omelet station during breakfast.

Dinner second night at the Portifino (Italian) restaurant, which was very good.  We did have to wait about ½ hr to be seated.

Had lunch two days at The Cactus Club on the beach, which was fantastic – great fish tacos, pico de gallo, and hamburgers.  We highly recommend making a reservation at Himitsu for the hibachi grill – the chef was fantastic and very entertaining – this was the best meal we had at the resort and wished we had come here more than once.  Although the entire meal was excellent, the fried rice deserves special mention—best I’ve ever had at any hibachi grill type of restaurant.

  Secrets Capri Riviera Maya Cactus Club

Last day–lunch buffet by the pool.  They were making ceviche, fried fish, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chicken, and drinks that were put in either coconuts or pineapples—not sure what the drink was.

Secrets Capri Riviera Maya Pool View

Couples massage–$99 per person with coupon.  Upon check in, we had not been provided these coupons (in retrospect, I believe this might have been because our stay was only four nights), so the spa reservationist suggested we ask the concierge.  He promptly gave us some coupons, which saved us $80.  The spa is in a separate building and staff takes you there by golf cart.  Once there, they show you where the lockers and showers are and you change into a robe and then as you wait for your massage you can lay down on comfy loungers.  The massages by Corrina and Sara were fabulous and afterwards we went through the hydrotherapy treatments, which was so relaxing.

Oscar was one of the pool servers and deserves special mention – always coming around asking if we needed drinks.  The drinks were a little watered down but if you asked for extra shots you got them.  I think the drinks served at the lobby bar were better.  There was a room just off the main lobby called The Lounge, where appetizers were offered the late afternoon/early evening.

The beach was very nice—there are plenty of chairs and umbrellas.  Yes, the water in this area is not the deep clear blue you might find in Cancun, but green and nice and warm.  There is a lot of seaweed but the staff works diligently every day to keep it clean–always raking and sweeping. 

Pool chairs–while there always seemed to be chairs available, the ones with umbrellas were reserved by 7:00 a.m.  So if you must have a pool chair under a palapa, plan on being down there at 6:30 am or so.  There is no sort of “towel card” system–towels are already neatly rolled up on the chair, so if the towel has not been unrolled, you know it is still
available.  However this towel system results in many guests leaving their used towels on their chair and not turning them back in to the Water Sports desk or putting them in one of the baskets/containers, so by afternoon it is really difficult to tell which chairs are still in use.  I wish more guests would have the courtesy to take their towels off the chairs when they’re done for the day.  A suggestion would be for Secrets pool staff to routinely walk around the pool and remove used towels when there are no other associated personal effects such as flip flops, books, sunscreen, etc.

Pool floats–yes, as indicated in some other reviews of this resort, the number of floats is limited, but we rarely saw them all in use at one time.  We usually had no trouble getting a float when we wanted one.  Some rude guests would take them with them back to their chairs and try to save them.  People…the floats stay in the pool. They are not your personal “float for the day.”

If you’d like some professional photos taken, be sure to schedule a complimentary photo session (coupon provided upon check in for the session and one free 8”X 6” print).  Unlike other all inclusive resorts we’ve been to, they don’t have photographers taking candid shots at restaurants or other areas on the property.  For another option, they would
bring out various animals to the pool area and you could get your picture taken (squirrel monkey, macaw, iguana).

All staff members we encountered were very polite and always smiling and saying “My pleasure.” Everything at the resort seemed very clean—rooms were serviced twice a day.  Housekeeping does arrive quite early to service your room, e.g., around 8 am for the morning service and around 6pm for the evening turn down service, so be sure to activate your “do not disturb” light as appropriate.  There’s lots of marble, which means you need to be careful not to slip.  This goes for the pool area as well—tiles can be very slippery.  

Trip to Playa del Carmen:  Only 14 seats on Secrets’ free shuttle to Playa Del Carmen.  If you want to be sure you get a seat on this shuttle, set your alarm for 7:00 a.m. that day and call the concierge to make your reservation; this fills up very quickly.  Reservations can be made only on the day of the shuttle.  It leaves promptly at 6:30 p.m. and returns at 11:00 p.m.  The driver dropped us off in front of Coco Bongo, just one block over from 5th Avenue (no vehicles allowed on 5th avenue).  Be advised if you plan on visiting Playa and walking up 5th Avenue, the availability of public restrooms is very limited, unless of course you are dining in one of the restaurants.  There are many shops, restaurants, boutique hotels, and interesting sites to see.

Playa del Carmen

Overall, we loved Secrets Capri and would not hesitate to return.