Sunwing Vacations officially brought a life-changing event to the table starting January 28th of 2019 — they’re now the ONLY Canadian airline to offer direct flights from Toronto Pearson’s Airport to Daytona International Airport! Dolphins, warm sandy beaches, and the Daytona Speedway are only a few of the factors that truly characterize the beautiful, refreshing atmospheres of Daytona Beach, Florida.
Where do I start? Daytona Beach is an experience unlike any other. I’ve been to a lot of hot weather destinations but this one with Sunwing was special. Why? It was the first ever direct flight that landed into Daytona from Toronto’s Pearson Airport — So I felt like I was stepping into an exclusive holy grail that marked history to say the least.
Although the plane was delayed due to Toronto weather, Sunwing gave us such a pleasant arrival, having us experience the ribbon cutting and being a part of the official launch — as being one of the first passengers to experience a direct flight from Toronto to Daytona! The Sunwing Staff waiting for us at the Daytona Airport gave us an extremely warm welcome.
Upon our arrival, the airport was decorated all around, with an orange ribbon, balloons, and even a Sunwing style red carpet-esque arrival (the carpet was orange!). The team at Sunwing then guided us towards our shuttle bus, our seats filled with goodies, snacks, and our itinerary for the day. First, we would stop at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach for lunch, followed by an Eco-boat tour, a stop at a national historic landmark, and we would wrap the day up with a dinner reception.
Our ride to the Hard Rock was truly the first time experiencing the atmosphere of Daytona. Sightseeing the Daytona roads, shops, palm trees, and communities. The beautiful oceanside view is also one you don’t want to miss while crossing the bridges.
Welcome to The Hard Rock!
After our short bus ride, was our arrival to the world-renowned Hard Rock Hotel.
The staff at Hard Rock were so incredibly welcoming! They were a big part of our trip and made our experience worthwhile. As soon as we got off the bus, big smiles were waiting as they were cheering at our arrival — they seriously made everyone feel like a rock star.
The minute I walked into the lobby I was immediately impressed at everything. The cleanliness, the staff, the size of the lobby, and mainly as a design lover — the interior design aspects. Their sleek, modern, yet edgy abstract designs and mini exhibits really captured my eyes. Hard Rock Hotels are undoubtely an iconic staple amongst the hotel and resort industry. If you’ve been to one, you know you can agree with me.
This specific hotel included a total of 200 guest rooms and suites, an oceanfront view, and a whopping 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The hotel interior design featured everything from a motorcycle installation, a signed wall with guitars, to wall art featuring Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Mick Jagger, and the Rolling Stones — they even had an exhibit with an outfit that Jimi Hendrix wore in Florida. The hotel has a cool, contemporary touch yet maintains it’s classic style capturing the aura of classic hard rock, of course.
We were treated to a delicious lunch, entailing everything from pasta, grilled chicken skewers, a variety of salad options, mac and cheese, and my favourite — cheesecake tartes for dessert! The lunch was held at their event space which also was detailed with stunning interior decor. The event space had a direct open view of the ocean, with an outside terrace if you wanted to feel the sun’s rays and get a closer view.
The Boat Tour:
Shortly after the lunch, we proceeded with our itinerary. Up next — the Eco Boat tour. The shuttle bus took us straight to a dock, to more of an upscale area as there were beautiful mansions along the water with their very own docks and boats. The area was a secluded body of water connected to the ocean, so it was a hub that was also the home of bottle-nose dolphins! We hopped on the boat, toured around the water and got to see sneak peeks of dolphins and their fins — they were very cute, but were a bit shy! The boat’s breeze and view were certainly refreshing.
Ponce De Leon
After the boat, we went to a nearby national historic landmark, the Ponce De Leon lighthouse. It’s a 175 ft tower with 203 steps – making it the tallest lighthouse in the United States. It’s an extremely popular Daytona location as it’s visited by 170,000 tourists per year. Yes — I climbed up all 203 steps (no, there wasn’t an elevator).
Out of breath, I finally reached the top, and the view was absolutely worth it. It was a stunning view of Daytona and the ocean. We were above the clouds, and even above the birds as I saw them soaring under us. They also had a souvenir shop that had everything from sweaters, to greeting cards, and Ponce De Leon jewelry.
Soon after we boarded the bus, we quickly stopped and pulled over for a minute as everyone was looking at the sky. At that moment, it was like time froze – everyone was in absolute awe with the Floridian sunset. Gleaming skies were filled with mixed hues of pink and orange, reflecting against the water.
After our quick sunset stop, we proceeded with our day and went on to the dinner reception at Rock Bottom – a restaurant and brewery located at ONE Daytona where we enjoyed delicious handcrafted brews and food! The restaurant was located amongst a strip of many other restaurants and small shops located across the beach.
Following our reception party, we boarded on the bus back to Daytona International Airport. On one hand, I was somewhat relieved to go home as I certainly was exhausted from a jam-packed day with so much exploring. On the other hand, the reality was I dreaded going back to freezing cold Toronto weather. I knew I would miss the warm breeze and palm trees of Daytona.
Upon our departure, Sunwing showered us with gift bags, coffee, and we were even treated to custom-made Sunwing and Daytona Beach cupcakes.
Our trip was short and sweet, yet Sunwing really made our experience at Daytona Beach worthwhile — the location itself a stunning place to visit with so much to explore, and so many great places along the strip to wine and dine. Daytona Beach is a perfect place to visit if you’re looking to relax under the sun and have some time to yourself, but to also enjoy daytime adventures and a night out on the town.
For more info on Daytona Beach, places to visit, and things to do – visit the official Daytona website at www.daytonabeach.com
Take a chance to explore Daytona Beach yourself and book your next trip with Sunwing! Why not? Visit their website at www.sunwing.ca ( Hint: They always have great deals going on – especially at this time of year!) Follow them on instagram @sunwingvacations.
While you’re there, you should also take a visit to the iconic Hard Rock Hotel. They’re located at 918 North Atlantic Avenue. Visit their website at www.hrhdaytonabeach.com, and check out their instagram at @hrhdaytonabeach.