Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Travel Tips

1.  If you arrive at the airport early, always check the departures board for delays or other flights to your destination. I just walked on a delayed flight that will get me in 2 hours early.

2. When leaving on a trip - most people remember to adjust their thermostat, but you may also want to turn off or turn down your water heater depending on the type you have. No sense continually heating water you aren't going to use.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spotlight on: Secrets Cozumel

 I love Cozumel. It's a small island off the coast of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It has a fun downtown, ruins and a lot of fun beach bars on the "wild" side of the island. A great all-inclusive adults only option for people looking for peace and quiet is the Secrets Cozumel resort. 

Secrets Cozumel 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Let's Talk About Destination Weddings

One big decision you have to make when you decide to have a destination wedding is whether you are going to have a cultural ceremony or a legal ceremony. 

You can have a religious, non-religious or civil ceremony. For instance, Sandals Montego Bay has a chapel you can rent for only $200 to have a more traditional ceremony. 

The other considerations are the legal requirements to get married. Most Caribbean islands have residency requirements, state mandated fees and documentation requirements you must meet prior to your ceremony. Some countries even require a blood test. 

Wedding Documentation Requirements – These can vary, but in general, you should be prepared to provide these documents at least 60 days in advance. 

  • Must be received 60 days in advance 
  • Original state issued birth certificates
  • All pages of all court certified final divorce decrees if applicable 
  • State issued death certificates with related marriage certificates 

Residency Requirements – You must be in the country for a specific period of time before your ceremony. 

  • Jamaica: 48 hours including weekends and holidays 
  • Bahamas: 48 hours not including weekends and holidays. 
  • Antigua: 48 hours must include 1 business day, does not include holidays, No Sunday weddings 
  • St Lucia: 72 hours and does not include weekends or holidays. No Sunday weddings  Sandals offers an Express Wedding Option for $150 
  • Turks and Caicos: 48 hours, not including day of arrival, weekend or holiday 
  • Grenada – 72 hours prior to apply for license then another 3 days to get the license  Sandals offers an Express Wedding Option for $190 
  • Barbados – 48 hours not including weekends and public holidays 

As a travel agent, I can help you navigate these legal requirements to make sure your destination wedding is amazing…..and legally binding. Email me at tripswithangie@gmail.com to start planning! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Update on the impact of Hurricane Odile on Cabo San Lucas

After Hurricane Odile slammed into the Los Cabos as a Category Three, much of the area is in catastrophic disarray. Below is what you need to know about Los Cabos, the resorts, and guest relations.
-The airport is still closed, and no official announcement as to when it will reopen has been issued.
- Many Hotels are impossible to get or exit due to water level being very high, and it is very dangerous to try with a regular vehicle.
- Regular electricity is off completely, and hotels are running on generators where possible.
- Secrets Puerto Los Cabos, Secrets Marquis, Dreams Los Cabos and Zoetry Casa del Mar report all clients are safe and sound on property, and their executive teams are accessing the property damage.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Spotlight on: Over water Bungalows

French Polynesia has a lot of options when it comes to the coveted over water bungalows, but not all over water bungalows are exactly the same. 
For instance, some bungalows are on a 3 foot lagoon made specifically to house bungalows. Others are in deeper ocean water where you can jump in, snorkel or kayak from your own dock. 

Here’s a peak at some great over water bungalow options: 
1. Le Meridian Tahiti – This property has some of the largest water windows in the bungalows as you can see from the picture. It’s also has the advantage of being in Papeete- close to the airport. Because of the flight schedules, most visitors have to overnight in Papeete either on their arrival into Tahiti or upon their departure.  It’s also a great fit for a couple where one partner wants the seclusion and luxury of the over water bungalow, but the other partner wants access to other excursions on the Tahiti mainland. 

Le Meridian Tahiti 

2. Le Meridian Bora Bora – The bungalows here are situated on a lagoon. The hotel houses a turtle rehabilitation program where you can schedule a time to swim with the turtles.  All non-motorized sports are included. Breakfast is included.  
Le Meridian Bora Bora 

Le Meridian Bora Bora 

3. LE TAHA’A Island Resort and Spa  - This resort provides a different, more authentic experience than some of the other luxury resorts.  You get to the resort, you take a 35 minute flight from Tahiti then 35 minute boat ride.  The resort is not on the island of Taha’a, but 85% of the staff are from there. The over water suites are 970 square feet with a large wrap around deck and access to a 4-6 foot deep lagoon. The resort has three restaurants and breakfast is included. Vanilla is an incredible restaurant suspended among the trees.  An underwater coral garden near the resort offers great snorkeling. 

Le Taha'a Resort 

Le Taha'a Resort 

4. Hotel Kia Ora Resort and Spa – This beautiful resort in Rangiora, French Polynesia has some great bungalow options: a beach front bungalow, a completely private bungalow with private plunge pool, and an over water bungalow.  

Hotel Kia Ora beach front bungalow 

Hotel Kia Ora Private One Bedroom Villa with Plunge Pool  
Hotel Kia Ora Over Water Bungalow 

All photos are courtesy of the resorts. 

To start planning your amazing French Polynesian getaway, email me at tripswithangie@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Let's Talk about Group Travel

Coordinating a group trip may not be a difficult as you think. Whether it's a destination wedding, extended family getaway or just a group of friends headed to a new location, here's the first few questions I usually ask: 
1. Warm, cold or doesn't matter

2. Timing - Which months make the most sense? How long does everyone want to be gone? Do you want an option where some people could stay longer than others? 

3. Activities - What is one or two things everyone likes to do?

4. Togetherness - Do you want to do everything together or create itinerary where people can do things on their own?

My experience is that once we have a general sense of those answers, we can pretty quickly narrow down some great options. Getting everyone to commit can be tough until you make the first booking, then once everyone knows it's a sure thing, more people get on board.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top 5 Reasons to Have Me Book Your Vacation

"Why would I use a travel agent when I could just book online?"

Great question!

1. You are already paying for my services. Most resorts, travel companies and cruises build commission into the price of the vacation. If you book through Expedia, they get the commission. If you book direct through the hotel, they keep it as extra profit. If you book through me, I get it. Now think about the level of personalized service you get. I help you choose the best vacation based on what your family wants, answer all questions, and I am one email or text away if anything goes wrong.

2. You are not sure where you want to go. Online search engines aren't very helpful when your criteria are February, warm, lots of things to do. But after a couple more questions, I can quickly narrow down to options for you to consider. 

I can also help if you do know where you want to go. Several of my clients come to me with the exact itinerary they want. They love getting my personalized service and being able to email one contact to get any questions answered.

3. Cruise Promotion Double Check - You are booking a cruise and don't have the time or desire to monitor prices. Cruise prices change frequently. Each week, I monitor the prices to identify opportunities for additional savings or a possible upgrade. 

4. You want the best value. Value and price are not the same thing. You want to make sure you are getting the best value for your vacation dollar. All hotels and airfares are not created equally. The low base rate may mean lots of extra charges later or you could upgrade to a more luxurious experience for a small change in price.

5. You are organizing a group.  You want a professional to guide you through the decision making process to make sure everyone's preferences are accommodated. Click here for more blog posts on organizing groups.

How to know that you won't be a good fit for my services:
  • You love chasing the lowest price. I focus on planning the highest value vacations with vendors I trust to deliver. If you love spending hours on the internet trying to chase the lowest price even if that means 7 hours flight layovers or a few cockroaches in your room, I am not going to be helpful.
  • You are only booking flights within the USA. I do charge a fee to book  flights since flight only reservations do not include a commission. For flights within the USA, we have access to the same fares. m
  • You are traveling to very off-the-beaten path locations.  My focus in on Disney World, the Caribbean, cruises, and bucket list trips. I can't be an expert in everything. If your dream trip is hiking through small villages in Bolivia on your own, then I can't be much help. You can always email me to see if where you'd like to see how I can help.
If you have any questions, email me or set up a time to chat.