So 2018 has been an amazing year for me, I had so many trips with friends and family, we went to some new places and revisited some of my favourites, all leading up to my wedding and honeymoon of a lifetime. 2019 has a lot to live up to!
Here is a summary of the highlights; three long haul trips is more than I usually do, I tend to have a big trip in January of every year and go to New York to see my family in June, our honeymoon in October was a nice little bonus.
I rang in the New Year in Disney World, Florida with Danny, my Dad, my sister and my New York family. It had been 10 years since I’d last been; it was Halloween and I’d had a great time taking my cousins around the Magic Kingdom. My youngest cousin is now 13 and wanted to go on all the “scary” rides, but I still had a great time pointing out all the kiddy rides I had taken her on last time (not sure she appreciated it as much!).
Danny, my dad, my sister and I had hired a villa in Davenport (about a 30 minute drive from Disney) as we were staying for a couple of weeks, my New York contingent stayed at The Grand Floridian for 3 nights before heading back home as my youngest cousin went back to school. My other cousins then moved out of their hotel and joined us in the villa for a few more days.
We had a great time shopping, having movie days, cooking and just generally chilling out. We had never done this kind of holiday before and it was a bit of a revelation, definitely the best way to go away with lots of you (providing you are all fairly relaxed and get on well!).
I am definitely planning more of these types of holiday and am currently trying to find the best companies to rent amazing villas round the world from, I will let you know when I find one!
Related Post: Family Villa Holiday: 5 Reasons to Ditch the Hotel
This was just such an amazing trip and not for the typical reason that the scenery was so amazing etc, (which just to be clear, it was), but because my entire family came together for my hen weekend. There was 13 of us and everyone I wanted to be there was; my mum, my 82 year old grandma (how amazing is that!), both my sisters, my mother-in-law to be, my three aunts (my dad’s brothers wives/partners), my three cousins and my friend, Emma. It was just amazing, everyone got on so well and it was also great for everyone to meet/reconnect before the wedding.
We stayed at the Sandhotel in Reykjavik (highly recommended in every way); I actually had a bit of a challenge finding a nice hotel there, they are few and far between, although I have seen a couple of new openings in the last year that suggest this is changing.
It was a beautiful boutique hotel, perfectly located with everything within walking distance. I booked through Mr & Mrs Smith as they had a 30% discount on rooms there, I have seen the offer a couple of times since as well so keep your eye on it if you would like to get a good deal as well!
We spent one day experiencing some of Iceland’s most infamous sites on a private Golden Circle tour and the other relaxing on a girly spa day at at the Blue Lagoon.
Iceland was truly fantastic, but more so for me because of the people I was with and the reason we were there; not a trip I’ll be forgetting in a hurry.
Related Post: Three Days in Iceland: A Complete Itinerary
New York & The Hamptons
So this is somewhere I have been almost every year my entire life as my aunt, uncle and 4 cousins live there. We all try and have an at least one “Smith Summit” a year where my Dad and his 3 brothers and their families all get together and this is a common location for them!
My family actually live in Long Island, a 30 minute train ride from Penn Station in New York, however they also have a beach house in Southampton which can fit all 14 of us quite comfortably, so for the last 5 years or so we have tended to spend most of our time there.
New York is my second home, I actually lived with them for a bit around 10 years ago and I have great memories of spending my summer holidays with my cousins here growing up. It’s a really relaxed holiday where we have beach walks, go for lunch, go shopping (obviously) and then all get together in the evening and take it in turns to cook out on the deck.
By the way, gorgeous beaches is not something you generally associate New York with if you’re a Brit, but there are plenty, particularly in The Hamptons!
Burgh Island Hotel is a 1930s, Art Deco style hotel on an island that is only accessible by sea tractor in high tide (you can walk across the stretch of beach in low tide). My uncle hired out the hotel for a long weekend to celebrate his 60th birthday in very glamorous style; we did a murder mystery, went paddle boarding and swimming in the sea during the day (it was one of the many boiling hot weekends we had during that summer) followed by a relaxed lunch at the island’s own pub, the Pilchard Inn.
We also had a fabulous 1930s themed evening where we all got to dress up, drink cocktails overlooking the sea and a meal with the most fantastic band in the evening.
Related Post: My 2019 & Plans for 2020
This was the location of my wedding weekend (yes I know it’s not supposed to last that long, but I got to to extend the fun!) and we stayed for 3 nights at The Slaughters Manor in Lower Slaughter.
I’m going to keep this relatively brief as I don’t think I can ever write down just how amazing this weekend was, but the venue was fabulous, a 17th century manor in a French chateau style. It was our third full “Smith Summit” of the year and with everyone having reconnected/met on the stag and hen, everyone just gelled and generated the greatest atmosphere.
We had all of the bedrooms for 3 nights and exclusive use on the day of the wedding; the first night we had a drinks reception and buffet with my closest family and friends, the Saturday was spent with the boys playing golf and the girls shopping and lunching in Cheltenham and the Sunday was the main event! These photos were taken by my amazing photographer, Samuel Docker.
The day after our wedding we went on our honeymoon to Oman. An absolutely fabulous, surprising and under the radar destination, we started at The Chedi in Muscat, moved onto Alila Jabal Akhdar 2,000 metres high in the Al Hajar mountain range, spent a night in the desert in Wahiba Sands Desert Night Camp and ended our trip at the Shangri-La Al Husn hotel just outside of Muscat.
It was a truly amazing and luxurious trip with some of the best scenery I have ever seen. If you think of the Middle East and think of Dubai, Muscat is the exact opposite. Oman is a country of calm in a relatively unstable region, the crime rates are low and we found it to be a very authentic experience as it is still not a well known destination, so if you are looking for something I bit different, I would encourage you to consider it.
Related Post: Oman Itinerary: Muscat, Mountains & Desert
It was truly an incredible year and an unusual one for me in terms of travel, as so much was geared towards the wedding. I got to see my extended and widespread family lots as well, including my American contingent 5 times!
If you have any questions about any of these places or would like any recommendations, please get in touch!