Beaches and Sandals

Beaches and Sandals
Beaches All- Inclusive Resorts: My exclusive partners for family destination planning

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spotlight on: Beaches Turks and Caicos

I had a wonderful time during a site inspection at Beaches Turks and Caicos. I was very impressed with the 19 dining options, the gorgeous beach and the great pools. Even though this is a family resort, I could very easily see my husband and I really enjoying a vacation there. 

For the families, the amenities are amazing: kids' clubs for all ages, a water park including a lazy river, great shows, and suites from those that include bunk beds up to  4 bedroom villas to accommodate the extended family. 




While I was there, I also had a chance to interview the Chef in charge of accommodating guests with food allergies. I was really impressed with their program. Guests meet with Chef Marlene to go over their meals and she makes sure all the restaurants have the proper items for when the guest arrives. Because Beaches restaurants all use different kitchens, many allergies can be accommodated. Here's the interview: 




To plan your family's Beaches vacation, contact me at Angie@TripswithAngie.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Best Solo Vacation I ever had!

Cindy wanted a way to celebrate her 40th birthday solo! We picked a cruise on the Norwegian Getaway because it offered studio cabins, lots of activities, and a mix of pampering, fun, and great ports to visit. 

"Best solo vacation I have ever had….

The Norwegian Getaway set an entirely new standard for luxury and service.  Upon arrival I found my cabin colorfully decorated complete with a birthday cake.  The ship was truly a destination in itself.  The food was amazing and the entertainment possibilities were endless.  I enjoyed all of the islands, but St. Maarten, was by far the friendliest and most picturesque. After 7 nights, I didn't want to leave the ship. Thank you Angie for all of your recommendation's and professional advice along the way.  You made my 40th birthday a memorable one!"





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Top Ten Ways to Choose a Caribbean All Inclusive Resort



1.  Where do you want to go? – Are nonstop flights important? Do you want to explore jungles? Go zip-lining? See whales? Snorkel or scuba dive? See ruins? Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic have the largest assortment of all-inclusive resorts.  

2. Time of Year – When are you traveling? The rainy seasons change slightly depending on the islands. I also check to make sure all your “must do” activities are available. For instance, Jamaica severely limits water sports around Easter. 

3.  Kids? – Are you traveling with kids? Does the resort have rooms with separate accommodations? What is the kids’ programming? Are you trying to avoid kids? Some resorts are adults only.

4.  The Distance from the Airport – Depending how long your trip is, you may want a resort within 30 minutes of the airport. If you are staying for 7 nights, you may not mind an hour’s drive.

5.  The Beach  - Is a beach important? Do you want to swim or just relax with a great view? Some beaches are unsafe to swim because of currents. Other beaches are very rocky so you'll need water shoes.

6.  Dining - How many restaurants are available? Are they buffet or a la carte/ sit down restaurants? Do you need reservations?  

7.  Drinks - What type of alcohol is included? Some resorts only include domestic beer and spirits. Other resorts include wine, imports, and higher-end brand name spirits. What's your favorite drink? We want to make sure the resort offers it.  Some resorts also provide a mini-bar in the room. Is that something you'd like?

8.  Activities - Some resorts include scuba diving and snorkeling trips. Others have that as an extra charge.  Some resorts shut down in the evenings while other resorts have night clubs and piano bars. 

9. Room Location- Many resorts offer categories of rooms by the view: garden view, pool view, ocean view or ocean front.  It’s also important to check the room location. Are you okay overlooking the stage that hosts a 9 pm nightly show?  Is it important to be near dining, the beach or the pool? 

10. WiFi – Not all resorts have wifi. Other resorts charge for wifi or only have it available in the lobby. 

Does this seem a little overwhelming? That’s why I’m here to help. I can easily and quickly walk you through all these options. Just email me at angie@tripswithangie.com

Monday, October 27, 2014

Client Review: Lia's Disney Vacation




I planned a Disney vacation for Lia, her husband, her 4 year old and her 2 year old. We set up a monthly payment plan so she could just book it and forget it. I checked in with her after her trip and asked her about her trip. Here's what she said:

"It was amazing, thanks for asking!  I can’t believe how much I’d like to go again!

Here are the biggest factors that played into our successful experience:

1.       I think the smartest decision we made was to stay at a Disney resort.  It made the airport transfers, luggage, park transportation, meal plan, etc. so seamless. 

2.       The technology was also a huge blessing!  No lines with the fast passes, no wallets once we connected our credit cards to the bands, we were on the app all day long making adjustments to our plans and using the GPS map to check wait times, etc.  It really allowed us to use our time more efficiently.

3.       I’m glad we used a lot of the dining plan on character meals.  I would recommend this to anyone, as it helped us avoid spending our time in lines or our fast passes to wait for character meet and greets!

4.       Also, I didn’t really realize we were traveling during the Disney Halloween timeframe (just never occurred to me) and that was a special experience that we took part in at the last minute!

I’ll definitely reach out when we can afford to go again (in a million years :))."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Vacation Planning FAQ: When is the best time to book a vacation?



A lot of this is your personal preference. Some of my clients book one - two years in advance to be able save up and having something to look forward to. Some clients call me two weeks before they want to leave. Here's my general advice: 

For cruises - the sooner you can book the better. For most fares, the deposit is refundable so you have nothing to lose by reserving a cabin. I monitor the rates for my cruise clients to make sure they are getting the best price or the best upgrade. Right now,I personally have cruises on hold through 2016 because I loved the price and the promotion. 

For resort packages - Flights don't become available until 330 days from departure for many airlines and even less if you want to fly Southwest or JetBlue. If you want a specific resort or a specific room it's important to book early. If you are open - you can wait until about 6 - 8 months from date of departure. The availability of last minute deals really depends on the city you are depart from and the time of year so message me for more specific details. 

For Disney - Book early. You lock in the room you want.I monitor all promotions and can adjust your booking if the rate drops. 

How far out do you like to book vacations? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Great Vacations - at no additional cost to you.

Life can be complicated. Vacation planning shouldn't be. Let me design great vacations for you and your family - at no additional cost to you. 


TripswithAngie@Gmail.com

813-501-3106 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Traveler Review: 3 Night Bahamas Cruise on the Enchantment of the Seas

My husband and I recently took a 3 Night Cruise to Bahamas on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas. I asked him for his review: 

Returned today from the three night and was so impressed with this ship. Had a great cruise. The crew was so friendly and the cruise director staff so much fun. Overall I give the cruise an A. Some individual impressions:

Cabin - We had 3508 Oceanview (Forward Starboard). Very spacious and was impressed with all the storage space. The only negative and I imagine it is the same in all cabins is the extremely tight space in the shower. One false step, and you are taking a header towards the sink!! I am 6' 4" and had a very challenging time. Our cabin steward Mark was so attentive.

Dining - Mixed reviews depending on the venue. Most surprised by the Park Cafe. It was a great place for embarkation lunch (no crowds) and I loved the selection of salads, sandwiches and carved meat (although they never seemed to have the "famed" roast beef when I stopped by). Even great little breakfast sandwiches. 

Main Dining Room was excellent. 

First time on any ship for My Time Dining and was a little nervous on how it would work. I was surprised you could make reservations ahead of time for the whole cruise. So we had "unassigned late seating" at 7:30 each night - and one night moved it up to 6:30 based on that day;s events we wanted to attend. Had the best assistant waiters and bar waiters on any cruise. Food in Main Dining Room was overall very good. Usually the waiter's recommendations panned out except for the bay scallops which were tasteless morsels of rubber doused in butter. But had an amazing beef tenderloin dish the second night. The finest beef dish I have had on a cruise.

I'll be as kind as I can on the Windjammer buffet and the Coco Cay BBQ lunch. They are truly uninspired. For as much work and planning seems to go into the MDR and Park Cafe (and I assume Chops), the buffet lacks much creativity except for the small hidden station of Indian which more often than not was not replenished. Food quality wasn't terrible in Windjammer - but I could have closed my eyes and guessed what dishes were waiting for me: Lasagna, stroganoff, nachos. The food at Coco Cay was worse. Luke-warm ribs, chicken and burgers. Very little flavor. I wish they would have offered some sort of spicy BBQ sauce for those that like some flavor. Didn't ruin my day of course. 

Live Music - Lots of opportunities to see bands and performers. The NEXUS band was my favorite. They were usually in the Centrum most evenings.


 The lead singer has an amazing voice. We stayed one evening for the piano entertainer (Beau??) in Schooner Bar. He was talented but instead of singing real words to any songs he made them up. There also was a band that mainly played in Boleros which was excellent. 

The last night they were playing all sorts of different traditional dance songs (like Waltz and Tango) for this group that were very accomplished dancers. As an aside, this cruise I saw the most amazing dancing from passengers. Really inspiring me to take some classes. 

Other Entertainment - Marc Walker is an exceptional cruise director. Funny and informational at the appropriate times. His staff always looked like they were having fun.

 I don't know his name but the Entertainment Manager led a very infectious deck party which is now the most impressive deck party I have seen on a ship (Norwegian Star has led that category). The trivia contests were very challenging!!

Embarkation - Very smooth. Waited in a line for about 15 minutes before getting to the counter. One tip. If they suggest you go to the non-Crown and Anchor dedicated lines, they may be right. We went to the Platinum line and then saw people who were behind us in security boarding the ship. It seems this sailing has lots of repeat cruisers which made those lines loner. But I also heard the CD say there were over 1000 first-time cruisers. In any regard, the premium lines aren't always shorter.

Debarkation. Woke up at 7:15 to our arrival. Quickly packed our things, and we were out in the parking lot by 8:20 (skipped breakfast).

Overall, a wonderful cruise. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

For more pictures of the cruise, visit my facebook page:  www.facebook.com/funtripswithangie