travel

The Caymen Island's Caribbean Club

This is the view from our balcony. Every night we had a perfect view of the sunset.

This is the view from our balcony. Every night we had a perfect view of the sunset.

The Caymen Islands
This January Michael and I joined our friends for a spontaneous 4 day trip in the Caymen Islands and could have stayed forever. The island is growing at a very fast rate but it has in no way lost it’s special island charm. 
The direct flight from Toronto to Grand Caymen is a simple and quick 4 hour flight. Before we knew it we had left -30 degrees weather in Toronto and had arrived in paradise at a comfortable +28 degrees. 

Accommodations
We chose the beautiful Caribbean Club Boutique Resident Hotel to accommodate us for our quick getaway and we were not disappointed.  The hotel is located a quick 7-10 minute drive from the airport, right on the famous 7 mile beach. 

morning mimosas!

morning mimosas!

The Caribbean Club is truly a home-away-from-home and unique in its design.  This boutique resident hotel is pure class and every detail has been polished to perfection.  To say that this is simply a hotel does not give it justice as the Caribbean Club combines everything you need from a hotel with the added comforts and amenities of home that are usually missing in your standard hotel room.

What really struck me while we were there was the unique feeling that we didn’t feel rushed to leave our suite. You know the feeling you get when you stay at a standard hotel room, even the nicest ones, and you think “ok, where to next?” because you don’t want to linger in your hotel room for too long? This hotel offered a completely different experience - we didn’t want to leave! 

Our suite was an experience in and of itself and we never once felt ‘stuck’ or separated from the rest of our group since we were sharing the same suite with them. There was really no reason to feel rushed to leave the room because it was so comfortable, had the views, the food, the living room, the dining room, the balcony, and our friends! I thought that this would be an ideal place to return to when our own family grows and we have kids running around.

Within the one suite each couple had their own bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, sliding glass doors with access to their own sections of the balcony, wall to wall windows with a ton of natural light, and plenty of room to spare. There was so much space we never once felt like it was too close for comfort. It was the first time I have traveled with friends and shared a suite like that. Usually each couple gets their own room and the group gets divided up but this was more like a home… just better!

A Traveling Celiac
From a celiacs perspective, traveling and having access to my own kitchen is invaluable.  I have traveled to many countries and although I do my best to do my homework and communicate my gluten free needs when I dine out, nothing trumps having a kitchen of my own to make my culturally inspired gluten free meals in. Having the option to cook for myself if I don’t feel safe dining out gives me peace of mind and that is something worth paying top dollar for. 

Click here to see my top 5 favourite tricks for traveling celiacs!

gluten free menu

Restaurant Dining
Beyond the kitchen in the suite, there is an on-site top class Italian restaurant called Luca. Luca offers authentic Italian food with an array of options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike and they also provided me with an exclusive GLUTEN FREE MENU!

This is a dream for every celiac. Not only are they aware of what gluten free means, they actually have a whole separate menu for us and ensure that when you tell them that you are a celiac they consult with the head-chef and cook everything separately with extra caution regarding cross-contamination.  We were also told that if you let the restaurant know of your celiac disease in advance when booking the reservation, they will prepare you a gluten free dessert free of cross-contamination. Bonus!

Brunch
On Sundays Luca offers a first class brunch. People from all over the island line up to dine and enjoy the delicious buffet brunch. The restaurant makes up for the fact that there is a line by pouring everyone complimentary champagne while they wait. I can’t complain about that!

Caribbean Club Highhlights:
Every home amenity and detail was thought of.

The Caribbean Club has won some impressive awards this 2019.

The Caribbean Club has won some impressive awards this 2019.

- There is a fully stocked kitchen in every room with top quality appliances. I am talking dishwasher, fridge, oven and stove top, blender, dish ware, Tupperware for storage, glassware, food processor, cookware, etc… If you need it they’ve provided it.
- Laundry machines.
- Comfortable beds and pillows (which is hard to find when traveling, especially when sleeping next to a 6’4, 210lb man.)
- The balconies are expansive with incredible patio furniture. The sun bathing chairs were professionally dressed with really comfortable padding & decorated with a beautiful crisp white Caribbean Club sheet. 
- The hotel is west facing so every night we parked our butts on our balcony and watched the sun-set over the expansive horizon of turquoise water and white sand beaches.
- The water is nice and calm so swimming or floating around on floaties is no problem.
- Friendly staff.
- The boutique experience ensured that the beach was never overly packed and there were always plenty of beach chairs always available.
- Plenty of privacy.
- Fully serviced beach front with a delicious cocktail and hors d'oeuvres menu.
- Infinity pool - this was my first experience playing in an infinity pool and the views were spectacular.
- There is a grocery store & alcohol shop directly across the street from the hotel. There is also a market (Camana Bay) 1.1 km away.
- The Caribbean Club has been awarded 3 prestigious awards on Trip Advisor 2019 for
1- Top 25 Small Hotel in the Caribbean.
2- Top 25 Luxury Hotel in the Caribbean.
3- Top 25 Hotel for Family

Thank you to everyone who made our stay at the Caribbean Club Boutique Resident Hotel so very special. Michael and I made memories that will last a life time. We cannot wait to return, hopefully sooner than later! A special thank you must be made to our dear friend Mia Parres for the incredible hotel suggestion. See you in the sun again soon!

Photo Gallery:

Thanks for following along on our quick 4 day journey to the Caymen Islands!

xoxo Sending Love and Light
Lisa Marie Holmes

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Our Icelandic Engagement Photoshoot

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Engagement Photos In Iceland

Michael proposed to me on November 29, 2015. We followed that with engagement photos taken in Iceland August, 2016. We chose Iceland for our engagement photo shoot for several different reasons:
1- We thought that we would secretly elope first before having a formal Canadian ceremony; however, naïvely, neither one of us realized the amount of paperwork that needed to be done before we left so we decided that an engagement photo shoot would be a great way to make our trip extra special!
2- Michael and I wanted our engagement photos to be a little unconventional and different from the norm. Iceland is without a doubt one of the most rugged and breathtaking countries that I have ever been to. We thought that having Iceland’s dramatic landscape as the background of our engagement photos would help tell a tale of both love and adventure.
3- Neither Michael nor I had been to Iceland before but Michael’s ancestry can be traced back to the Vikings. Iceland is a Nordic country so we thought it would be really cool to explore some of the historical roots from his father’s side. Furthermore, as someone with a passion for healthy traveling, I was drawn to this country for its amazing reputation for hydrotherapy (my favourite!!). We spent 10 days soaking in beautifully preserved hot springs, cold springs, and hiking through the mountains. (side note - If you ever consider visiting Iceland, the country of fire and ice, please do so with a gentle foot and be aware of your environmental impact as this is a country that does everything it can to preserve its wildness and integrity.)

Our friend Jon staying hydrated as we spent 12 hours driving around Iceland searching for the perfect backdrop to our photos.

Our friend Jon staying hydrated as we spent 12 hours driving around Iceland searching for the perfect backdrop to our photos.

By complete coincidence I found one of Iceland’s most renowned photographers and we spent the day touring through glaciers, mountains, volcanoes, beaches, and flat lands with the very talented Jon Gudmundsson. It was an extraordinary experience touring through Iceland’s gorgeous vistas and we had the added benefit of getting a private tour with our photographer who is a local Icelander.


Homemade video of our 10 days in Iceland:

Video made by: ME! Watch until the very end, that is my favourite part ;)
These are some of our favourite moments from our trip to Iceland.


Our engagement photo gallery:


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Iceland will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was an honour traveling to this magical island country and doing it for the first time with my fiancé. Iceland for me will be remembered as a special trip for so many different reasons. It was the first time that Michael and I traveled and lived out of a car for 4 days together in a little Suzuki that he was literally too big for. He wasn’t able to stretch his legs out for 3 consecutive nights haha. It was spontaneous because we toured around the golden circle with no schedule or agenda. Everything we did was on a whim and as a result we created the best and most unexpected memories. We went sea angling, whale watching, hot spring hopping, ate authentic Icelandic cuisine, swam in the ocean, made friends with some locals, and hiked day and night (because you can do that when the sun doesn’t set in August). Lastly, taking our engagement photos with the beautiful Icelandic landscape in the background is so special as it marks the beginning of our lives together; full of adventure and love.

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xoxo
Sending love & light,
Lisa Marie Holmes

Follow me on my social media platforms for more fun, loving, healthy lifestyle stories and insight!
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"The World Is Your Gluten Free Oyster" - My Experience & Top 5 Tips On Traveling With An AutoImmune Disease

I was diagnosed with celiac disease (an autoimmune disease of the small intestines) when I was 17 years old. I was in high school at the time - grade 12, 2006 - and in those days “celiac disease” and a“gluten free” diet was unheard of. It was really difficult for me to figure out my health issues because of the lack of awareness, my age, and the fact that none of my friends really understood what I was going through. I often felt very alone.  However, like anything else in life, you have to rise to the occasion and with the support of some very caring and compassionate people in my life, I slowly got the hang of this new diet and lifestyle (shout out to the Hutton family in particular). 

By the time I was 18 years old I had begun to master the art of cooking gluten free. It was expensive, time consuming, and not always delicious - but at least my hair was no longer falling out, my skin stopped hurting, and I could think clearly again without the heavy brain fog weighing me down. It had been my dream since I was 13 years old to backpack through Europe so as soon as I had graduated from high school I took off and bought a one way ticket without any notion of when I would return - essentially I was forced to come home when my funds ran out after 8 months of hostel living. 

Gluten Free Crèpe 2017, Nice, France

Gluten Free Crèpe 2017, Nice, France

My passion for travel, Europe, and all things gluten free has only grown since the days of my teenage years and backpacking adventures. We are fortunate enough in Canada and the United States to now have a better understanding of what celiac disease is and the gluten free options have exploded! The struggles I once had before gluten free became a trend have long since passed. In Canada the grocery stores are lined with gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegan, alternative this and alternative that food options… It is amazing to see how far we have come in the last 11 years since my diagnosis and I feel very blessed to have learnt many delicious recipes along the way. However, for those of you with celiac disease or who follow a strict gluten free diet, traveling to foreign countries where you don’t speak the language, can’t translate the ingredients at the grocery store, don’t have a kitchen to cook your own food, or are even unsure if they are familiar with what gluten is - it can be very scary. Despite my diagnosis in 2006, I have not let it stop me from traveling the world. From Italy to France to England, Scotland, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Costa Rica, the US, Turks and Ciacos, India, Colombia, the Netherlands, and even Kenya - I have always made gluten free work for me. Not every country understands what it means to eat gluten free, but often times a little research and preparation can go a long way.  I won't deny that this has been one heck of a learning curve for me and there is risk with every meal you don’t make by hand yourself - but I won’t, I CAN’T, let the fear of being “glutened” slow me down. Traveling with an autoimmune disease is possible and often times it has introduced me to off the grid delicious restaurants that the typical tourist would miss out on. 

Here are my top 5 tips on successfully eating/drinking your way around the world GLUTEN FREE!

GF pasta and risotto

1- Carry a little card in your wallet at all times that has pre translated version of something along the lines of: “I am looking for something to eat that is gluten free - I have celiac disease.” Also, learn how to say "Gluten Free" in their language: French: Sans Gluten, Italian: Senza Glutine, German: Gluten Frei, Icelandic: Glútenfrítt, etc... OR Download a translator app on your smart phone that can be used offline so when you go to the grocery store you can look up all of the ingredients. This was most helpful for me in Iceland!

2- Stay at/rent an AirBnB that has a kitchen so that you can cook your own food. I always feel more confident when I have the control to cook my own food and ensure its safe from contamination.

3- Fruit Fruit Fruit is always a safe option! If all else fails, go to a local supermarket and buy yourself some fruit! There are so many different varieties of fruit around the world that it is fun trying new things and you will get all the nutrients you need from fruit! 

4- Before you depart for your vacation, Google some gluten free restaurants and get their address ahead of time.  That way you are prepared with some safe restaurant options upon arrival. 

5- Pack your own snacks! This little trick helped me get through some tricky times in both India and Kenya where celiac disease doesn't really exist! I loved my dried fruit and nut bars!

The world is your gluten free oyster ;) Don’t let your dietary needs slow you down. Do your research, prepare yourself, and enjoy the adventure! 

Bon Appétit!!

- Sending love & light xxx

Instagram: @lisa.marie.holmes

Facebook: @ Lisa Marie Holmes

Twitter: @lisa_m_holmes - going to have to change that name soon! 

veggies

The Ice Breaker

HEY THERE GORGEOUS! Thanks for checking out my first blog post EVER! I really didn’t know how to launch my website/blog so I figured an introduction is a great place to start.

You already know my name… Okay I shouldn't assume anything. Quickly now!! My name is Lisa and I have graduated from both the University of Western Ontario and the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. I have a special interest in herbal medicine. I live for travel. I have an autoimmune disease. I love yoga and isometric training. I’m a napper. I am marrying my best friend. I am from Burlington, Ontario but now live in Toronto. I have a younger sister. My favourite colour is white (I know not a colour... but just think about it!). I love cheese. I hate traffic. I’ve filmed a television show.  My dream job/ultimate goal is to travel the world exploring different hydrotherapy spas/healing centres and acquiring knowledge about unique traditional healing techniques. I love learning about different cultures, medicines, history, and ancient traditions. As of right now, I am focusing my attention on this blog and sharing all of my knowledge and experiences with YOU! This blog will focus on health and wellness as a whole with an emphasis on natural and alternative medicine AS WELL as lifestyle content including fashion, food, travel, love and life.

Just like you, I am trying to live my life with passion, adventure, and authenticity and do it with a smile on my face and grace in my heart.  My goal for this blog is to inspire people to live their truest and most fulfilled life. I want to make you laugh, teach you something new, open your third eye, take you on vacation with me, and create a positive community that supports one another. I have so much to learn, so many mistakes to make, and lots of pains to heal… why do it alone? Join me on this journey of self growth, love, and life - It’s a wild ride baby!

Please feel free follow me on my social media handles and private message me any personal requests you might have regarding topics of interest to you! I will do my best to get to all of them in a timely manner. Thank you for your support!

- Sending love & light xxx

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Facebook: Lisa Grant

Twitter: grant_lisamarie