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#TravelTuesday Gaylord National Hotel Review

Everyone and their mother (including my own) knows how much I LOVE holiday decorations!  LOVE them.  They mean so much more to me than having a pile of stuff under the tree.  In fact, my oldest son is really remembering my love of decoration.  

It's awesome because when I ask him what he wants for Christmas, he never knows..but for 3 weeks in November he BEGGED me to put the holiday lights up!  Super cute.  So, the weekend before Thanksgiving we started to put things up.  That's what I love about the holiday.  And something that carries over from my childhood. 

Decorations and experiences are always my favorite - so to get the chance to take a trip with the kids to explore ICE at Gaylord National was a no brainer!  When I first heard about ICE!, I was going to college in Kentucky.  Nashville, TN was our closest hot spot city and there is a Gaylord Hotel location there as well.  My girlfriend shared with me that she was going there and I became obsessed with getting there for a visit myself!

So, I did!  Quite a few times!  And what's great is that each year has been just a little bit different. 

This year, their them is Frosty the Snowman. It brings a whole new meaning to Christmas on the Potomac!

gaylord_national_holiday_ice_review

Top 5 Holiday Faves at Gaylord National

1) GINGY!!  We make a gingerbread house every year.  It's something Boston mentions all year long too!  The price for the Gingerbread House is a little high (approx $50) but the experience is well worth it!  Not to mention - they are GOURMET holiday houses. Yum!

A photo posted by Joey Fortman (@joeyfortman) on

2) THE ICE! Yes!  Believe it - these awesome artists (40 of them to be exact) fly in from Harbin, China to make this spectacular! Seriously!  They work an entire month to rock this exhibit of awesome!  This year they have a new live carving zone, called The Frostbite Factory.  Brrrrr right?  To say the least, 5,000 blocks of ice weighing in at 2 million pounds.  Yeah.  Cold is an understatement!

Yeah! One of my Top 3 Fave Family Holiday Escapes! #RealMomTravels #Philly

A photo posted by Joey Fortman (@joeyfortman) on

3) THE SCAVENGER HUNT!  Ok, so the true 'competitive' person comes out with this one.  I LOVE these Instagram/event scavenger hunts.  This one was adorable to see many of the kids get excited when they found the Reindeers in random places.  My fave was the one in the ceiling where you check into the hotel!  Look for it in the loops! 

4) THE GLASS MEGA-TREE!  So where do you get a 60 foot tall, 7,000 pound glass tree?!?!  Have someone make it of course!  It's only the world's ONLY suspended synthetic glass Christmas tree made of 108 hand creafted pieces of green holly leaves, 11 red berries and one big mega gold bow on top!  There is a nightly tree lighting show that families can love & the tree rocks the fountain show beautifully too!  It's a must see.

5) THE CHARACTERS!  Gaylord National has a partnership with Dreamworks and so many of your favorite characters come to life everyday!  There is a 'DreamWorks' Madagascar Crack A Lackin' Cook-in Character Breakfast available for about $30 for adults and $20 for kids 3-12.  Under 2 is free.  Yes, it is a little pricey, but your kids get entertained by King Julien, Alex the Lion and their friends!  We didn't do the breakfast - but we did see the characters walking by.  That was pretty cool to see Hudson my almost 2 year old have a light up face!! So cute.  The other times we went, I went NUTS over the GREEN chocolate fountain.  Granted, everything was Shrek related...so I get it - but they didn't have green chocolate this time.  BUMMER, right?  Cause of COURSE this mama goes for the chocolate fountain!!! It still tasted amazing green or brown. ha

A photo posted by Joey Fortman (@joeyfortman) on

Ok, so those are my Top 5 Faves on this trip.  Have you ever been to Gaylord National?  Where is one of your favorite places to travel to take in the holiday festivities?

A video posted by Joey Fortman (@joeyfortman) on

Coming up next:  Christmas in Hershey!  As an ambassador we get to go there again!  I sure love to travel.  And add Christmas awesome to it? HEAVEN!

Travel Tuesday: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Travel Tuesday: Beaches Turks & Caicos

WORD. I can't even begin to tell you how freaking excited I am about this.

Travel Talk with my travel loving friends.  AND I'm traveling to paradise in 14 days.. but who's counting. 

The Sweetest Place on Earth

The Sweetest Place on Earth

Hershey:
The Sweetest Place on Earth

Chocolate.

Just say the word, and I am there.

One of the things I absolutely love about living in Philadelphia is my proximity to Hershey, PA. That's right, Chocolate Town!  I have had the pleasure of visiting many times over the past several years, and I'm heading there again this week as I am what every chocolate lover dreams of.. A HERSHEY AMBASSADOR!  Rough job, I know.  But SOMEBODY has to do it. 

I always look forward to my Hershey visits. No, not just because I can stock up on the best chocolate on the planet!  But I love that Hershey is a family-friendly destination. For locals who can't quite swing a big vacation, Hershey is the perfect "staycation." There is so much to do, including Hersheypark (Boston LOVE the chocolate characters!!  The pic to the left is from our 1st ever visit to Hershey.)

Thrill lovers: did you know Hersheypark has 12 rollercoasters? Epic! They also offer live entertainment as well as kid-focused rides for even the smallest chocolate lovers.

Hershey, PA offers more than just the theme park, though. Visitors can head to ZooAmerica, with over 200 animals on 11 acres. There is also a large educational component. Keep the learning going through the summer! Kids can learn about the history of Hershey at The Hershey Story and get the whole scoop on how chocolate is made at Hershey's Chocolate World (and pssst: you didn't hear it from me, but after the informational tour they may or may not give out chocolate samples. SCORE!).

Accomodations are not lacking in Hershey, and I can attest that the Hershey Lodge is fantastic for families. If you want to take it to the next level, check out The Hotel Hershey!  We are MEGA excited about staying at Hotel Hershey as we've only stayed at the Hershey Lodge in the past. Check out their awesome packages, as well. There are great seasonal and year-round offerings that make a stay at Hershey all the more sweet.

Also? I may be a little obsessed with the fact that Kate Gosselin lives nearby. Because. KATE GOSSELIN.

I digress.

So whether you are near or far, take the scenic ride through the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania and make your destination the Sweetest Place on Earth!

Check our twitter, Instagram and Facebook stream for our overflowing amount of images from our experiences.  I promise to share unique shots at our favorite sweet spots!

What is YOUR favorite Hershey memory?

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****Yes, as an ambassador I get some SWEET deals! Some of the activities are comped in result of my ambassadorship with Hershey, PA.  But of course - the REAL mom is always going to be real.  Now, back to my chocolate dream.

Hotel Hershey in #HersheyPa

Our Hotel Hershey Adventure

Our Hotel Hershey Adventure

Checkers anyone?

Checkers anyone?

Hudson chilling by the fish pond!

Hudson chilling by the fish pond!

Yummy.  SOMEONE likes the chocolate checkin!

Yummy.  SOMEONE likes the chocolate checkin!

I'm still pondering what I like to call 'awesomeness' of my trip to Hershey, Pa with my family last week. 

We had an absolutely amazing time!  This isn't the first time I took my family to Hershey but I have to tell you that it's a game changer in my most favorite places to visit!  

You all know I just love and adore traveling.  It's such an amazing focus for my family to be able to experience life throw the lens of opportunity.  Yes, I know that not every family can travel.  In fact, my own family never traveled.  The only travel I remember as a kid was a Branson, Mo trip from hell! ha.  No joke.  It was beyond brutal.  

So it's something I swear by with my own kids.  Travel when you can!  So when the opportunity for me to work with Hershey, Pa as one of their ambassadors opened up I was all over the idea of getting to experience the sweetest place on Earth!  After all... who wouldn't want to sip hot cocoa, make smores and smell the pumped in whiff of cocoa in a glorious hotel for a couple nights!?!?!  

I was totally down. 

So when we arrived to the hotel, my family thought I was THE COOLEST mom on the planet when the desk supervisor gave us each a big Hershey's Candy Bar.  Amazing right?  LOVE that part about Hershey. 

*Minor note - NEVER visit this town if you are on a diet.  SERIOUSLY.  Never do it to yourself!!

I'd love to share with you my TOP 5 Faves of Hotel Hershey:

-- The check in.  Really.  The fact that we get chocolate bars when you check in?  LOVE.  And dear old Hudson LOVED it too!

-- The pool area!  They recently went under a huge renovation and the pool at Hotel Hershey had taken me totally by surprise!  When we got out there it was close to 5pm and I wasn't sure what the crowd would be like.  About 10 minutes in we were greeted by an awesome brass band that just so happened to come out of nowhere!  It was awesome!  The random entertainment with a huge touch of flare went a long way. 
So much so that I was convinced we had to be out there everything!

-- The Chocolate Spa.  I really don't even know what to say aobut this.  I personally treated my husband and I to treatments, lunch and a little down time.  It was awesome to know that my kids were being well taken care of while we were being well pampered of course.

 -- Cocoa Clubhouse.  This was a huge surpise to me.  I mean, I have honestly looked at booking this hotel many times in the past - but I never did it.  Not sure why - but out of this experience I am 100% convinced that the Cocoa Clubhouse is a deal maker for me and my family.  This is an awesome space where parents can comfortably drop off their kids and head out to enjoy some private time.  Ahem.  Like we did! ha.  We put our oldest (whose 6) in the Clubhouse and because our 17 month old isn't potty trained and he's still a little dude we had to pay for a sitter that the hotel can provide.  Great right?  I won't lie.  We spent more on the sitters & spa than we did the entire trip.  It definitely was not cheap, but I can tell you that was really the best part of our trip!  My husband and I got a chance to connect and our kids got a chance to really play.  Worth every penny in the end. 

-- The History.  Seriously - I am 100% the sucker when it comes to gorgeous properties with a long line of history to it!  I mean, the major chains are great and purposeful, but when you have the opportunity to be apart of something special - it just has so much more amazing life to it.  And Hotel Hershey is no stranger to amazing history.  One of my most favorite parts of the hotel was the gorgeous photography seen all around the facility.  The photography told amazing stories about the life of the location.

OVERALL REVIEW:  The Hotel Hershey is by far one of the most beautiful properties I've ever stayed at.  Yes - it is very pricey.  But you really have to weigh out the pros and cons.  For us, I'd pay that in a second because of all the amazing amenities that comes with it.  But if you are planning on not spending much time at the hotel then you may want to think about the Hershey Lodge or something more in your budget.  I honestly would have been completely content with not even leaving the hotel!! ha. 

More great #HersheyPa info coming soon!

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DISCLOSURE:  I am a Hershey, Pennsylvania ambassador.  Yes, that does include some amazing perks including two nights stay & entry to some area attractions.  I paid out of pocket for the spa & sitters AND the extra night.  But it was worth every penny!  Thanks Hershey!