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Aly Smalls’ 2023 Travel Awards: Best Hotels, Experiences & Products of the Year 

Aly Smalls’ 2023 Travel Awards: Best Hotels, Experiences & Products of the Year 

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This is just something a little fun and light-hearted that I like to put together each year, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

I’m rating my favorite hotels, experiences and announcing the most popular travel gear according to you! 

I don’t know about you, but I love when new things inspire me to travel.

Sometimes I plan an entire trip around a cool hotel I found or a type of experience or place I had no idea even existed.

So that’s what I hope to share from these awards…perhaps something in here will provide a little ‘travelspiration‘.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!

2023 Hotel Awards

Here’s a quick peek at the winners:

  • Best Beachfront Hotel: Costa Dorada, Bucerias, Mexico
  • Most Extreme View: Glacier View Lodge, Jasper National Park, Canada
  • Most Unique Stay: Glenora Inn & Distillery, Cape Breton, Canada
  • Most Expensive: Fallsview Marriott Niagara Falls, Canada
  • Most Surprising Hotel: The Bungalows Hotel, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Hotel with the Coolest Theme: Cadillac Motel, Niagara Falls, Canada
  • Most Cozy Cabin: Tekarra Lodge, Jasper National Park, Canada
  • Best Hot Tub: Miette Hot Springs Bungalows, Jasper National Park, Canada
  • Most Historic: Blomidon Inn, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Best Hotel Pool – Courtyard Mazatlan Beach Resort, Mexico
  • The Grandmother’s House Award: Harbourview Inn, Smith’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Most Laid Back Stay – Lakeside Resort, Watkins Glen, New York

Best Beachfront Hotel:

Costa Dorada, Bucerias, Mexico 

Just outside of Puerto Vallarta is the community of Bucerias – well known for its superior 5-mile beach.

In April, we stayed at Costa Dorada, an older hotel/condo building, but with the most incredible view of the beach & ocean. 

It was affordable, in a great location and had lots of amenities – we found it was the perfect type of accommodation in between an all inclusive resort and an Airbnb. 

Here’s my video tour of Costa Dorada (if anything, you’ve GOT to see the view)! 

And you can check prices & availability here.

Most Extreme View:

Glacier View Lodge, Jasper National Park, Canada

Renowned as the most beautiful road in Canada (and maybe even the world), the Icefields Parkway is a scenic 235 km highway that connects Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Along this incredibly scenic highway sits the aptly-named Glacier View Lodge. 

This unique and remote lodge is the only hotel in Canada overlooking a 10,000 year old massive glacier. 

Your stay also comes with a welcome reception with complimentary appetizers and specialty drinks.

We also opted to go with the ‘after hours’ tours of the glacier and skywalk experience – breathtaking to say the least!

One of my favorite videos we put together was traveling along the Icefields Parkway (including a stop at the lodge) – you can watch it here.

Most Unique Stay:

Glenora Inn & Distillery, Cape Breton, Canada

Nestled in the hills of the Cape Breton highlands behind angelic white gates lies the oldest single malt whiskey distillery in North America, The Glenora – a Scottish whiskey distillery and a small inn. 

When we first pulled up, it was almost as if we had been transported to the Scottish Highlands.  

As if Scotland magically appeared in Nova Scotia, Canada we arrive at our accommodations for the night. 

If you dream of visiting Scotland but can’t make it there anytime soon, I invite you to consider the enchanting world of Cape Breton.

Most Expensive Hotel:

Fallsview Marriott Niagara Falls 

I ‘hummed and hawed’ for weeks trying to decide whether or not paying $600 per night for a room with a view of Niagara Falls was worth it. 

Turns out, it was. Am I glad I did it?

Mostly – the view was phenomenal and better than I expected.

Would I do it again? Hell nah. One time is good 😂

The Fallsview Marriott is one of the 2 best hotels for rooms with a view of Niagara Falls.

If you’re curious about our view, check it out in my Niagara Falls video (which got barely any views?? 😢😢)

Most Surprising Hotel:

The Bungalows Hotel, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

This was a cozy little hotel just outside of the busy marina-area in Cabo San Lucas.

It didn’t look like much from the outside, but as soon as you walked through the gates, it was like entering a lush oasis.

16 rooms surround the courtyard pool, each room has a hammock, and breakfast was served under the adorable thatched-roof palapa.

I have a quick video tour of this hotel here if you’d like to see more of it.

Or you can check prices & availability here.

Hotel with the Coolest Theme:

Cadillac Motel, Niagara Falls, Canada

The Cadillac Motel is reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s roadside inns and reminded me of something you would find along Route 66.

We stayed here for $70 CAD on a weekend in high season in Niagara Falls!

Most Cozy Cabin:

Tekarra Lodge, Jasper National Park, Canada

If you ever visit the Canadian Rockies, you must stay in a cozy mountain cabin. It’s the best way to soak up the magic of the mountains. 

The cabins sit peacefully on a ridge overlooking the confluence of the Athabasca and Miette Rivers – surrounded by majestic mountain peaks.

Walking out the front door of our cabin, just steps away we were treated to magnificent views and a serene atmosphere.

Best Hot Tub:

Miette Hot Springs Bungalows, Jasper National Park, Canada 

This one’s kind of a joke, but it’s true, you’re literally steps from a world class hot spring in the middle of an epic mountainous valley. 

I made a cozy video of our stay at the 2 cabins above, take a look here.

Most Historic:

Blomidon Inn, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada

I almost named this one the Titanic award – and after a walk-through of this place, you’ll see why. 

A long, flower-lined winding driveway leads to the stately entrance, onto the wooden front porch outfitted with rocking chairs which are the perfect spot to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail.

Originally built in 1881 as a private residence, the Blomidon Inn is like a time capsule of 19th century artistry and elegance.

It’s located in Wolfville, Nova Scotia in the heart of Annapolis Valley. Annapolis Valley is known for its bountiful orchards, fertile farmlands, and world-class vineyards. People visit the Annapolis Valley primarily for its reputation as a premier wine and culinary destination.

In this video, you’ll see why this area of Nova Scotia was one of our favorites, and such a hidden gem place to visit in Canada.

Best Hotel Pool:

Courtyard Mazatlan Beach Resort, Mexico

We all love a good hotel pool, and the Courtyard Mazatlan Beach Resort was the big winner this year. 

Infinity-style, heated, overlooked the famous Mazatlan three islands, and had a great swim up bar. 

View more about the Courtyard Mazatlan Beach Resort here!

And watch my complete Mazatlan Travel Guide video here!

The Grandmother’s House Award:

Harbourview Inn, Smith’s Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada

When you take a look at the Harbourview Inn, it’s easy to see why it won the Grandmother’s Award! 

You can see this warm and inviting bed & breakfast as part of our tour through Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Known as the Land of Vineyards, Orchards and Tides (the tour of the B&B starts at 3:35 if you’re curious).

Most Laid Back Stay:

Lakeside Resort, Watkins Glen, New York

This year, I fell in love with Watkins Glen in Upstate New York.

This area had some of the most pristine natural beauty and high octane energy! It’s nicknamed where mother nature meets mainstreet.

Here you’ll find Watkins Glen State Park, the geological masterpiece for hiking and waterfalls; the international race track, and Seneca Lake, lined with incredible wineries. 

We stayed at Lakeside Resort, a small property with cabins and a few lodge-style rooms.

Each night there were bonfires, chill live music and yard games for guests to relax and socialize. It felt like we were hanging out in a friend’s backyard and it was a blast. 

Checkout the Lakeside Resort here

And have a peak at my video about visiting Watkins Glen and upstate New York here.

Top 5 Watched Videos on my YT Channel: 

8 Little Known Travel Hacks for Flying Carry-on Only (Secret Packing Tips)

7 Cheap Places to Live & Retire in Mexico (that nobody talks about)

Top Things to do in Nashville Tennessee 2023 (Nashville Travel Guide)

24 Secret Flying Hacks You Didn’t Know You Needed

16 Things to Do in Victoria, BC, Canada (the brunch capital of Canada!) Victoria, British Columbia

My Top 5 Most Read Posts on My Travel Blog:

20 Things You Should Pack for an All Inclusive Vacation

28 Essential Travel Items That Are a Complete Game Changer

What Pools Are Open in Las Vegas During Winter?

52 Better Things to Do in Las Vegas Besides Gamble 

55 Best Drinks to Order at An All Inclusive Resort (Mexico & Caribbean)

2023 Travel Experiences Awards

  • Best Taco Tour – Juan More Taco Tour  
  • Favorite Outdoor Adventure – Sandboarding in Cabo San Lucas 
  • Coolest Experience – Drive the Glen, Watkins Glen, NY
  • Wettest Experience – Cave of the Winds, NY
  • Best ‘Touristy but Worth it’ Experience’ – Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls
  • Best Road Trip – Cabot Trail, Canada
  • Cutest Town – Naples, NY
  • Most Scenic Tour – Cabo Arch Sunset Cruise 
  • Best VIP Treatment Tour – Sayulita, Mexico
  • Best Waterfall – Egypt Falls, Canada 
  • Best Water – Columbia Icefield, Canada
  • Best Hike – Skyline Trail & Watkins Glen (tied)
  • Favorite Drink – Coffee Margarita at the Red Apple, Bucerias
  • Best Brewery – Church Brewing, Wolfville, Canada 
  • Favorite Wine – Baco Noir from Niagara Falls 
  • Most Unique Wine Tour – Captain Jim’s in Finger Lakes, NY
  • Favorite Winery Experience – Taste Bud Flight at Fox Run Vineyards
  • Most Unique Winery – Lacy Magruder & Castel Grisch, NY (tied)
  • Favorite Diner – Penn Yan Diner, NY
  • Best Sunset – Mazatlan, Mexico

Most Popular Travel Products 

I’m always looking for new travel gear & gadgets that make my travels go smoother, easier, more fun, or sometimes, just more stylish.

2023’s most popular product you guys bought: travel pouches!!

  1. 17 Pack Travel Pouches for Toiletries, TSA Approved, Travel Size Refillable Portable Containers for Shampoo Conditioner Lotion Soap Liquids
    $8.39 ($0.93 / Count)

    These take up less room than bottles and allow you to bring a bigger variety of liquids!

    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/18/2024 10:47 pm GMT
  2. Lanzom Women Wide Brim Straw Panama Roll up Hat Fedora Beach Sun Hat UPF50+
    $29.99 $24.99

    This is the best selling beach hat on Amazon! It's big enough to protect you from the sun, but small enough that it doesn't get in the way - you can also squish it down to pack away and it doesn't get flattened.

    Buy Now
    03/19/2024 06:03 am GMT
  3. Travel Duffel Bag, Sports Tote Gym Bag, Shoulder Weekender Overnight Bag for Women
    $29.99 $21.49

    This is my number one travel bag. It's small enough for your second carry-on item (fits under the seat) but large enough to fit enough for a weekend trip. It has an internal wet pocket if you need to travel with a wet swim suit!

    Buy Now
    03/19/2024 04:12 am GMT
  4. Polarized Sunglasses for Women Vintage Retro Round Mirrored Lens
    $16.99

    These are the perfect sunglasses for a beach vacation - I have 3 pairs! Lightweight, polarized and are such a great price.

    Buy Now
    03/19/2024 07:04 am GMT
  5. Wet Dry Bags Waterproof Reusable with Two Zippered Pockets Travel Beach Pool Daycare Soiled Baby Items Yoga Gym Bag for Swimsuits or Wet Clothes
    $9.99

    These are a must for a beach vacation or cruise when you use the pool on the last day before your flight home and your swimsuit is still wet.

    Buy Now
    03/18/2024 11:38 pm GMT
  6. BAGSMART Toiletry Bag Travel Bag with Hanging Hook, Water-resistant Makeup Cosmetic Bag Travel Organizer for Accessories, Shampoo, Full Sized Container, Toiletries
    $31.99 $22.39

    The #1 best-selling toiletry bag on Amazon! It now comes in 12 different colors.

    Buy Now
    03/19/2024 10:08 am GMT
  7. Airplane Foot Hammock (Memory Foam), Perfect Airplane Footrest to Relax Your Feet | Foot Hammock for Airplane Travel Accessories
    $14.99 ($14.99 / Count)

    A must have for feeling so much more comfortable when flying in economy. Elevating your feet changes the game!

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    03/19/2024 07:14 am GMT