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Travel:  Sandals Resort, Bahamas – The place where God lives

by: ellis j. still

February 1st, 2011 marks two and a half years that Tina and I have been married.  When I think back on the past 2.5 years, I can truly say that I have been having the most fun I have had my entire life.  Tina and I are not just husband and wife, but we are also best friends… partners in crime so to speak.  Sure – we both have friends that we have known for many years, but there is nothing like the friendship that my wife and I share.

But I digress… this post is about reflection on our honeymoon.  Sandals, a couples only resort, is a great brand, and is known for its exceptional customer service.  They certainly lived up to their expectations when we went to visit. Upon arriving at the Bahamas Airport, a Sandals representative picked us up in a Rolls Royce town car.  That pretty much set the tone for the entire ten days that we were there.

Everyone that was there had a pleasant demeanor, and the butler that was assigned to us managed to anticipate our needs before we even knew what they were.  Knowing that securing dining reservations were a challenge, she made dinner reservations for us at all of the fine dining restaurants for our stay.  She assisted with any questions or needs that we had, both on the resort and for off resort excursions.  She would also scope out a shaded spot on the beach for us in the morning and reserve it for us. 

We had all an all inclusive package, so every night we would order burgers at 2am (the burgers were ridiculously good by the way) and they would bring it to us (no charge and no tipping allowed).  The dining was 5 star quality both in taste and in presentation, and included dinners on the beach and on the marina.  All of the meals in general were excellent which surprised us (I have had my share of bad resort food).  There was a mixture of passive and active activities, and the resort has a separate private island that you have to charter a boat to get to.  The grounds were impeccably maintained and kept clean, with winding paths that takes you on a journey of discovery through the colorful flowering of vegetation

It was incredible how openly Christian the Bahamas Island was. The bus driver played Shekinah Glory Ministry, Fred Hammond, Kim Burrell, Karen Clark Sheard, Israel Houghton and the like on the bus loudspeaker system, with many people nodding and worshiping along with the songs being played.  

Wow.

The atmosphere was incredible… on a city bus, no less.

Likewise, we were curiously surfing radio stations in our resort suite when we noticed that there were many many public FM gospel radio stations for our listening pleasure, as opposed to one per regional market (if any) in the United States.

It seems like the entire Bahamas Island attends church on Sundays.  We inquired to our butler as to how do we get to Mount Tabor Baptist Church, whose pastor, Bishop Neil Ellis, had preached at our church in New Jersey not long before.  Our butler was surprised at our request.  She explained that going to church is commonplace for people who live in the Bahamas, but tourists seldom have such requests.  It was easy to get a ride to the church, with one of the ministers finding someone who lived near the resort who gave us a ride back.  

So in conclusion, it seems like our great experiences at sandals Bahamas was noteworthy because of the customer service at sandals Resorts. Yet also, the Spirit of the island as a whole (in which the resort was also covered) also played a significant role in our honeymoon experience as well.  However, I am not naïve to think that seediness does not exist in any given place, and I am sure that the Bahamas is no exception, but it is refreshing and reassuring to know that there are places where Christians are not only free to worship out in public, but where people are not afraid or embarrassed to openly pray and worship in public out of their desire for more of Him and without care of others.  Dr. Myles Munroe who pastors Bahamas Faith Ministries International also came to visit in New Jersey once said “I am From Nassau, Bahamas, the place where God lives”.

Maybe those of us in the United States should take field trips to the Bahamas in order to witness a demonstration that faith does not end and begin with Sundays.

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” Romans 1:16

Question: Where are you going on your honeymoon or next vacation? Are you taking Christ with you?

© 2011, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

__________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification.

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Travel: Doing Business at the Baltimore Harbor 
By: ellis j. still
 

 

Baltimore harbor has a history of being a destination place for vacationers from near and far. When I think about the harbor, I think about the back in the day spur of the moment road trips from Philadelphia, PA to the harbor, the nearby African American Wax Museum, countless all you can eat seafood bus rides, Phillips Restaurant, and the Fudgery experience inside the waterfront mall. But now I also know the Baltimore harbor as an efficient corporate center with a comforting atmosphere in which to meet with clients and do business.

Recently I hung out with my wife, Tina, for a few days at the Baltimore Harbor in Baltimore, MD. She attended a conference, and I had the opportunity to tag along, taking my office with me. We had been talking about taking a road trip to the waterfront for some time, and this provided us with an opportunity.

We stayed at the Marriott Hotel, which is within a series of newer corporate hotel developments that overlooks the water. The rooms were average, but the common spaces were exquisite. The combination of brown tones and marble surfaces provided for a rich feeling… almost like royalty. You can tell that the hotel decided to focus on the experiences outside of the guest rooms – since it is a conference center hotel, most of the guests’ time would be spent in the common/conference areas. However, the view from our room was astonishing, and I spent my days in my room working and conducting business while overlooking the Baltimore Harbor.

A leading positive aspect of the harbor is that it is very walkable, and on the harbor, there are many restaurants to choose from. Most are fine dining which was great, but if you just wanted a quick burger or sandwich, you would be hard pressed to find one. We went out to eat with Tina’s company’s vice president and director of customer service one evening, and the service, presentation and food was first-rate. There are normally attractions to choose from on the harbor, but due to it being a work day, many were closed at the time that we were in town.

The retail mall on the Harbor seems to be suffering as a result of the surrounding and growing new development. The first thing that we did when we got into town was eat at Phillips restaurant, and while we were there, we noticed that the Fudgery, a long time staple in the harbor mall, was active as well. But I also noticed many vacancies in the mall, including more than half of the food court.

I think that it is good that the new development has brought in an infusion of fine dining and corporate experiences. Yet also, I think that more has to be done to foster an inviting atmosphere towards non-corporate patrons. Care has to be taken that the area has a mixed clientele in order to thrive for the long haul. Homogeneous urban planning can kill a place, but well balanced and thoughtful planning will allow it to thrive for everyone. Here are five reasons to spend some time at Baltimore Harbor:

  1. You can impress your clients
  2. The food is great
  3. You can go on a boat ride on your lunch break
  4. A great serene atmosphere in an urban environment (no… the two are not antonyms)
  5. You really need to get out of the office

Question: What are you doing to improve the mental health of your business? If you are an author, what are you doing to recharge your writing?

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

__________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

Ocean City, NJ Bed & Breakfast: A great place to recharge your batteries

By: ellis j. still 

This past week my wife had a super-secret-surprise for me for my birthday. In the weeks leading up to my birthday, she would refuse to tell me what it was, but she did tell me that the surprise was a place and that we would be there from Sunday June 13th through the 16th. So, I’m thinking road trip out of state… New York, Philly, Poconos, Baltimore, or maybe Washington DC. But then she told, me that the place that we were going to was dog-friendly, and that we will be bringing Peanut with us. At this point, I was really clueless. Other than Staybridge Suite Hotels, where could we possibly go that accommodates pets? Is there a Chuck-E-Cheese for dogs? So we get into the car, she drives, I fall asleep in the passenger seat, I wake up at our destination, and we are in Ocean City, NJ at a really cool Bed & Breakfast. 

This was the best birthday mini-vacation ever. Ocean City has the same kind of calmness as North Carolina, beaches and boardwalks within walking distance, good restaurants, and a boardwalk carnival if you are in the mood for some activity. Likewise, there were many dog owners in the city, and there is even a beach that is dog friendly. There’s an informal social thing early in the morning when dog owners walk their dogs and the dogs get to meet and greet each other (sniff each other’s butt) with their owners in tow.

Ocean City Mansion (http://ocmansion.com/ ) is where we stayed, and Nancy is the best. This was the first time Tina of I ever stayed at a bed and breakfast, and Nancy, the Innkeeper,  made us feel right at home. The house was a mansion that was built in 1896 that has been well maintained over the years, yet has all of the modern amenities in order to make your stay pleasant. Our suite was complete with a Jacuzzi, an alcove bed, and was Peanut friendly as well. Every morning Nancy cooked a different breakfast for us and we ate outside on the front porch as we read the morning newspaper in the calmness of the outdoors.  That in itself is a novel idea. Who has time to sit and eat breakfast before work anymore? Breakfast at the mansion pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day, with more relaxing and quiet on the front porch, or a series of power naps in our suite.

I.   So.   Needed.   This.

Our lives tend to be constantly in hustle and bustle mode such that we rarely take the time to slow down and replenish ourselves. A quiet and relaxing four day vacation with the woman of my dreams two hours from my home… it just doesn’t get any better than that.  My first experience with a Bed & Breakfast was definitely a good one, and we plan on making this a habit every year since our birthdays are five days apart. This was a great start to my week. The second half was also great, but that is a different blog post  :- )

Question:  When was the last time you slowed down to recharge your batteries? Have you ever thought about visiting a Bed & Breakfast in your area?

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

____________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

Las Vegas: A Nice Weekend Getaway

By: ellis j. still

My wife and I just came back from a mini vacation in Las Vegas this past weekend. It was part of a family thing, where a bunch of family members met at Vegas to honor Tina’s uncle by blessing him with money to do what ever he wanted with it (he decided to put the majority of it in the bank instead of gambling it away). This was my first time to the city, my wife’s fifth. She goes quite often for her company for conferences and the like. I, myself, did not see what the big deal was… think that it was just an assemblage of hotels with casinos in them. Neither of us gambles, so I really did not expect much.

I was pleasantly surprised. The entire strip is an assemblage of novelty resort hotels… a multitude of focal points. Every hotel had a specific theme to it, with matching architecture. Everything from resorts shaped like an Egyptian pyramid, Paris – complete with a miniature Eiffel tower, New York – which was encompassed by a roller coaster that you can ride, a family oriented hotel which had circus acts 24 hours a day, and many many other resort attractions.

If you do not feel like walking, there’s a monorail that can take you close to your destination along the strip. However, the monorail system is broken up into two systems that does not include stops near many of the major destination areas. If you are pressed for time or have a disability related to walking, it is good to do your research ahead of time before riding. Also, the airport is directly adjacent from the strip, yet Tina and I had challenges getting to our hotel once we landed. It would be good if they extended the monorail system to include the airport, which would make it a lot easier on travelers. Lastly, there is a bus system in the area, but the bus stops lack signage or any other indicator as to which bus would take you where.

At nighttime, Las Vegas takes in an entirely new personality. The lighting designs are spectacular with every resort hotel, with some that have beams of light that shoots up into the stars. There are public light and water shows, and sidewalks are designed for couples taking a romantic stroll on a star lit evening. Tina and I also went on a timeshare presentation, so we were able to hook all of our family members up with half priced tickets to dinner, and on our final day we ate for free at a reeeely expensive restaurant in Paris.

On the flip side, there are seedy activities that exist as well. Prostitution is legal in Las Vegas and like any city, they have their share of nightclubs and the like. However, you have to search these things out in order to partake in them… meaning that your mindset dictates what you choose to partake in. before going to Vegas, I thought that it was an evil place to go, but it really isn’t… it’s what you make of it, like anyplace or anything else.

Public transportation notwithstanding, overall we had a great experience. Tina and I did not come close to seeing everything we wanted to see, and we will definitely be back one day. This trip has inspired me, where my new goal in life as a designer and entrepreneur is to one day build a roller coaster in an inner city downtown center  :- )

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

____________________________________________________

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like what you read and you are not yet a Subscriber to my blog, why not subscribe now? All posts are original, there is no fixed schedule, so you would not have to check my blog regularly, and you will be receiving an authentic review of books, organizations and life experiences as a husband and entrepreneur. If you change your mind, it is easy to unsubscribe. Once you sign up, visit your email inbox to verify your email address. Check your spam folder if you don’t receive any verification emails. Thanks!!!
ellis

Cove Haven: A real treat for couples   

by: ellis j. still         

My wife and I decided to do something different for Thanksgiving last year… we decided to spend the holiday weekend in the Pocono Mountains. There’s this resort called Cove Haven (owned and operated by Caesars’ Palace) for couples only that Tina’s sister referred us to that we have been meaning to try, so we figured that this would be as good a time as any.     

Getting there was no small feat. Both Tina and myself had to work the day we were scheduled to leave, so we got stuck in rush hour traffic. Likewise, the deeper you get into the Pocono Mountains, the more you are on these one-lane dirt roads in the woods with no streetlights. There was a serious snowstorm that was quickly approaching, so we were hard pressed to get there as soon as possible. We somehow beat the storm, and we arrived at our destination unscathed.     

Getting signed in was fast, and upon approaching our room, I got especially nervous because from the outside, the rooms look like the equivalent of one of those cheesy pay by the hour hotel establishments. When we went inside, I was pleasantly surprised. The room was split-level, with a wood-burning fireplace on the upper level, sleeping and dining on the lover level, and a heart-shaped hot tub, steam room, and our very own private indoor swimming pool tucked away next to the sleeping area. I’m thinking to myself… it just does not get any better than this. The only challenge was that the room smelled like cigarettes, but a call to the front desk brought someone out almost immediately, and the small was gone for the rest of our time there.     

The resort is on a campus-like setting, with shuttle busses running on demand to get you anywhere on site. The first few days we stayed inside the room except for meals, since many people are asking us when are we going to start having kids. After the third day we ventured out. They have a vast variety of activities at no additional charge on site such as indoor miniature golf, archery, pool tables (I won three games in a row), arcade games, ice-skating, basketball, Wii games, and these weird European bowling-like games. If there was enough snow we could have taken some snowmobiles out. They also have live shows in the evenings ranging from comedy to live music.     

There was also a recreation center right on the lake, which included more arcade games, pool tables, at least two swimming pools, and boating docks. There are also multiple wood decks outside adjacent to the lake for sitting and contemplating… an ideal place for Tina or anyone else who likes to write.     

The resort is semi-inclusive, with breakfast and dinner included in the price, and lunch on your own. The meals were interesting in that host / hostess sits four couples per table. The goal is to get people to mingle socially. I really enjoyed the conversations. One couple at our table the first night was a really excellent witness to others at our table. The guy had had several brain surgeries and was so excited to tell his story about how God kept him. I learned a lot from them in terms of alternative ways of telling people about what Christ has been to them while not pouring it on. We actually kept in touch – they are from Connecticut, and hopefully we plan to visit at some point.     

So, on a scale of one to five, I give Cove Haven two thumbs up :- ) It was a wonderful experience all around. However, Tina did contract the Swine Flu while we were there, and it had fully manifested that Sunday after we had gotten back home. But this was not a function of the resort, but moreso of the fact that it is just the was it is today – whenever you get a group of people together, that is the risk you run. This was a good trip if you want to stay in the regional area. It had a little bit of everything, was relatively inexpensive, and was within a three-hour drive. I look forward to visiting the resort again sometime in the future. For more information about the resort, see http://www.covepoconoresorts.com/resorts/covehaven.aspx

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved

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