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Return trip to Hawaiian paradise

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Fifty years of incredible family memories. One brief reunion trip with hotel mix-ups, dead hearing aids and hiding beers in paper bags.

For years my Dad and my sister and I had talked about taking a trip to Hawaii to commemorate our first family visit in 1968. My mom died in 2003, but the three of us wanted badly to go back to a place we first visited as a group 50 years ago, when I took a look at those verdant, deep green hills and that brilliant water and saw my first hula and fell in love.

We made it happen earlier this year, reliving distant, fuzzy memories and creating plenty of new ones on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Big Island.

The Outrigger Reef on Waikiki Beach was our first hotel in 1968, so that’s where we started our Hawaii 50 party. We have blurry photos of my sister and I on stage in Waikiki in ’68 with Don Ho, who used to play in a restaurant in the old International Market Place. He loved to call kids up from the audience to help him sing Tiny Bubbles, which he did with my sister and I that year. When the song was over he kissed me on the top of head. I was 12 years old and thought it was the worst moment of my life.

Don is no longer with us, and they recently reopened a posh new version of the marketplace, with lush landscaping and great food. My sister and I posed for a photo with the Don Ho statue they’ve installed. Looking back, I should’ve planted a smack on his forehead for old time’s sake.

The next day we drove up the windward coast of Oahu, enjoying the small villages and thick patches of jungle and towering mountains swathed in a hundred shades of green. We stopped at the Shrimp Shack for a casual lunch of shrimp and mussels with rice and ate at rickety tables outside Ching’s grocery store. They don’t let you drink beer outside the shop unless you hide it in a paper bag, so we carefully concealed our alcohol in the hopes of avoid a trip to the Oahu hoosgow.

Later that night we upped the readings on the style meter with a fine dinner on the lanai at The Moana Surfrider, toasting the memory of my Mom and revelling in the tinkling sounds of an ukulele as the sun dipped into the ocean.

From there it was over to Maui for two nights at the Mauian on Napili Beach. We stayed in a single room on our ‘68 trip; my sister and I in twin beds and my Mom and Dad on a folding cot. The cot collapsed with a roaring thud at least twice in the middle of the night on that first visit, sending Mom and Dad tumbling to the ground in a flurry of swear words. This time my sister had her own room and I shared a unit with my Dad. I took the couch, which managed not to budge an inch during the night.

The final leg of the reunion was on Hawaii Big Island. My Dad thought we had stayed at the Hilo Hawaiian in 1968 so that’s what I booked. It wasn’t until we arrived that my sister told me we had actually stayed at The Orchid Isle. As it was, we couldn’t have stayed there as the property was demolished years ago.

We loved the relaxed pace of Hilo and did some sightseeing along the coast. My Dad, who’s 86, loved that my sister and I did the organizing, while he got to go along for the ride.

On the other hand, he also had his hearing aid batteries die. I was navigating small roads outside of Hilo with my iPhone as I drove. My Dad was in the back seat with one of those crummy rental car company maps they give out and kept insisting I was going the wrong way.

“Shouldn’t you be on Highway 130?”

“I want to take 132.”

“What? The map says you should take 130.”

“I know, Dad. I want to take 132.”

“But…”

My sister was in the front seat, nearly killing herself with laughter.

Seemingly before our reunion had even really started, it was time to go. There were warm alohas all around and huge smiles. We’d relived old memories and found many new ones to talk about over family dinners.

I’d love to do another family trip. But I think I’ll pack extra batteries.

If you go

SLEEPING

OAHU The Outrigger Reef is a warm, breezy spot right on Waikiki Beach. Tons of great shops and restaurants are nearby, and there’s a large pool. outriggerreef-onthebeach.com/

MAUI The Mauian on Napili Bay is a beautiful, quiet, family-run spot with a small pool, beautiful gardens, shuffleboard, a nice gazebo and gas bbq’s. It fronts directly on Napili Beach, one of the best stretches of sand in the state. mauian.com/

HAWAII BIG ISLAND The Hilo Hawaiian is a nice property on the water (but not the beach), with fine views and a pretty park next door. There’s a nice pool, as well. castleresorts.com/big-island/hilo-hawaiian-hotel/

DINING

OAHU They’ve done a remarkable job with the new International Market Place in Waikiki. I miss the tacky old one a bit, to be honest, but this is a gleaming, fresh spot with everything from fine dining by the likes of Roy Yamaguchi to the new Street Food Hall by Michael Mina, where you’ll find everything from poke burritos to succulent ribs. shopinternationalmarketplace.com/ Outdoor dining at the Moana Surfrider is both an elegant and relaxing experience, with the sounds of a local Hawaiian band accompanying the ocean breeze and those famous Hawaiian sunsets. marriott.com/hotels/travel/hnlwi-moana-surfrider-a-westin-resort-and-spa-waikiki-beach/ In Honolulu, don’t miss Leonard’s, a wonderful bakery that sells hot, fresh Portuguese malasadas (like doughnuts). leonardshawaii.com/home/

MAUI They do a variety of excellent seafood dishes at The Sea House, located inside the Canadian-owned Napili Kai Beach Resort, just a few steps from The Mauian. The views of Napili Beach are tremendous, and sunsets are sensational. seahousemaui.com/ Whalers Village Shopping Centre in nearby Kaanapali is home to Hula Grill, where you’ll find fun, casual food just steps from the water. Try the fish tacos. hulagrillkaanapali.com/

HAWAII BIG ISLAND We enjoyed a fine, casual meal at Lucy’s Taqueria in Hilo. The grande burritos are roughly the size of a fire log. lucystaqueria.com/ Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill is a fine spot for seafood. http://jackiereyshilo.com. Ken’s House of Pancakes in Hilo serves humongous portions at breakfast and is filled with hungry locals. kenshouseofpancakes.com/

WEB SURFING

For more information, visit gohawaii.com/ca

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

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Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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