Friday, September 29, 2017

Want my list of Top 3 Quiet All Inclusive Resorts?

I've visited a lot of resorts this year.

Click here to get my email highlighting the Top 3 All Inclusive Resorts.

Here's a sneak peek at one of them:

Breathless Riviera Cancun Review 2017

I have to admit it. I was a little intimidated to visit this resort. I had heard about the topless foam parties and sexy vibe. Not my typical Friday night. Then I stayed for three days.

Honestly? This resort knocked my socks off, but not my top. Don't worry, Mom.

The resort has three sections: Xcelerate, Allure and Xhale.

Xhale Section


Friday, September 22, 2017

Viking River Cruise Grand European Tour

I recently finished my training as a Viking Cruise Danube River Cruise Specialist. The Danube offers an amazing trip through Eastern Europe.  One itinerary that caught my eye was the Grand European tour. You can see from the map that it visits 4 countries over 15 days. 


You can explore:
  • Windmills of The Netherlands,  
  • World War II history in Germany,
  • Medieval castles, Austrian wines,
  • Classical music of Vienna, and
  • Beautiful architecture and culture of Budapest.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Travel Tip: Oils can ease the pain of traveling

My friend Amy introduced me to natural oils to help deal with some of the not-so-fun side effects of travel. I asked her to share with you her top oils for travel since they have been so helpful to me. 





I love to travel. Let me rephrase: I LOVE to visit people and see new places, all while making awesome memories with family and friends, but don't necessarily enjoy the plane, train and automobile frenzy of getting there, and the realization that I've left all my comforts of home, well, at home. 

Then I discovered essential oils. And? My travel woes have waned. Tummy troubles? There's an oil for that. Car sickness? There's an oil for that. Feeling maxed out after day three at the in-laws' house? There's (more than one) oil for that. Below is my top list of doTERRA essential oils that I carry with me when I travel and how they have helped:

DigestZen - This digestive blend brings relief for motion sickness, feeling over-full from a fabulous dinner, heartburn, and any other digestive issue you may encounter away from home.

Breathe - Do you get a stuffy head after being on a plane for hours? This respiratory blend can improve airways during and after airplane travel, and helps SO MUCH with snoring roommates.

OnGuard - This protective blend is great for boosting immunity and protecting yourself while traveling. I rub a drop on my palms throughout the day as I am exposed to other travelers and excessive environmental threats. 

Serenity - This restful blend is essential for getting good sleep away from home. Rubbed on the palms, chest or bottoms of feet, it aids in calming and relaxing.

Lemon - I travel with a stainless water bottle and add a couple drops of lemon oil to my water. Lemon is great for uplifting mood, energizing and purifying the body from the inside out.

Balance - This grounding blend is great for jet lag, balancing emotions from travel stress and keeping you tranquil even if you have three MORE days at the in-laws' house.

Additional questions or want to learn more how essential oils can help with your particular pains of travel? Please comment below! 

Holland America Koningsdam Review

Holland America Line (HAL) Koningsdam Review by Glenn Sparks


To understand the Koningsdam, you need to understand a little bit of the HAL history.   HAL has always been a cruise line that attracted an older clientele and as such their ships were oriented around this group. Their ships kept up the style of the ocean liners from the 1940’s and 1950’s.  When cruising became more mainstream in the 1970’s and 1980’s, HAL kept building ships in the same way.  And they were successful at doing it, building a fleet of 10+ ships that were very popular.   HAL was the very first mainstream cruise line to go to Alaska and that continues to be one of their most popular destinations as they have up to five ships sailing in that area seasonally.

HAL realized that to continue to be relevant in the cruise industry they would need to be able to offer something different and the they needed to attract a demographic.   The Koningsdam was a ship that would be the first ship in what HAL defined as the Pinnacle class.  The ship has a modern look, lots of glass and steel. Nothing illustrates this better than the three-deck steel sculpture that fills the atrium and is one of the first things you will see upon embarkation.  It is pretty spectacular to see, especially at night time as the lighting glistens off the shiny steel.     The ship also has the largest passenger capacity of any ship HAL has ever built.




I sailed on this ship during it’s inaugural season in Europe in July of 2016.  The ship had newly launched in April of this same year so everything was brand new.   The highlight of this ship is the specialty dining.  If you are an adventurous diner, then there are so many places to try out.  While the ship had a few low points (I’ll get to those later), specialty dining is not one of them.  I had meals that were some of the best meals I have ever had - on land or sea.  Some of the highlights are below.

De Librije - This was a pop-up restaurant experience that had a supplemental charge per person.  The Pinnacle Grill, which is a staple restaurants on all HAL ships, turned into a special tasting menu restaurant.  De Librije is a 3-star Michelin restaurant in Zwolle Netherlands and that ties in nicely with HAL’s heritage.  This was in the top three meals I have had in my life.    The Sweetbreads and Pork Belly were my favorite entrees.    Wonderful wine pairings.

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Sel De Mer - This is an ala carte restaurant serving mostly seafood.  The highlight here was the Salt-crusted Branzino.  A mild fish brought to life by the salty crust. The escargot were also delicious - served the way they come from the sea in their shells.

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Cooking  Theater (soon to be renamed America’s Test Kitchen) - This was an experience where you got to watch the chef prepare the four course meal.  

Dutch Cafe - The food here is included in your cruise fare.  They had great split pea soup here. Also their frites (or fries) were tasty.  This is also the coffee shop for your speciality lattes and cappuccinos.  

One of the low points on the ship is the main dining room.  We had arranged for anytime dining and when we showed up, it was going to be almost an hour wait for a table.  When I sailed it seemed as if the dining room was not prepared for the number of guests that were sailing.  We ended up leaving and getting a table at the Pinnacle Grill instead.  We ate at all specialty restaurants for dinner the rest of the 7-night cruise.  Recent reviews suggest that the dining room has gotten better.  But when the ship has all the great specialty dining available, that is hard to pass up if you like interesting entrees.  The service in each of the specialty restaurants was also attentive and friendly.  For me, these restaurants alone would make me want to sail on Koningsdam again.

Cabins on the ship are stylish but not showy.  We were in a Neptune Suite which was very nicely appointed.  Huge bathroom with double sinks and larger shower. 

 You also have access to the Neptune Lounge which has snacks during the day, coffee and soft drinks.  There is also an honor bar where you can make your own drinks and have them charged to the room.  The alcoholic drinks aren't covered by any beverage package you may have purchased.   I saw pictures of other suites and they were very nicely decorated in neutral tones.

The entertainment onboard is mixed,   There is a great BB King Blues Club where each night they had a rocking band that had the dance floor filled.  There was always nightly trivia.  There was also a dueling piano bar concept called Billboard where each night which got everyone singing.  This was also an area where they had light snacks being served during the entertainment Two of the entertainment venues weren’t my style and were a low point for the cruise.   Koningsdam designed a very different concept for the main show room called the World Stage.  It is a theater in the round instead of a traditional, elevated curtained stage.  The seats are set about 240 degrees around the stage.  

While the shows utilized the space, they weren’t very interesting.  There were some spectacular uses of lasers and lights during one performance.  The other venue I didn’t care for was the Lincoln Center Stage.  This featured violinists, and cellists in a chamber music setting.  I have nothing against this type of music and probably would have enjoyed it in a different setting.  My issue was it was in an open area that was a common area to pass through to get to other venues.  If you made even the quietest of noises, you could get a glance (or stare) from one of the other passengers watching the performance.  So it is great that HAL has some different entertainment, just seems  like it would be better in a different space.  I also saw this as something they needed to attract some of their long-term guests on this new ship.

We has purchased a beverage package so were able to have mixed drinks and wines included for the week.  We found service was excellent at most bars. My favorite was the Ocean Bar which is near the lobby.

Highly recommend the behind the scenes tour if you have time. It is done over two days (about six hours total) and was the most extensive tour I have done.  We were able to go down several decks in the engine rooms and also had a long discussion with the hotel manager.  Always so interesting to talk to these dedicated crew who have built their careers at sea.

The summary of this ship is to book it if you want the most interesting dining experiences at sea.  Don’t go if you want 24 x 7 entertainment as there still isn’t much happening after 10PM on most nights.    There are better ships such as Norwegian for that type of entertainment. 

If you want to explore if the Koningsdam is right for you, email us today. 


Pre-Cruise ideas for Seattle

Seattle  

If you choose a cruise out of Seattle, you are most likely going to arrive at least the day before your cruise.  If you have the time, give yourself a few days since there are many things to do.  Here are some top tips for this city.



Hotels

When choosing a hotel, be mindful that the closer you are to the piers, there will be more hills to walk.  Most of the streets that head down to the Pike Place Market and Pier area are as steep as some of the streets in San Francisco.  This is not surprising when you learn about Seattle’s history after the great fire of 1889.  The rebuilding effort literally built on top of what remained after the fire creating the topography we see today.

Transportation

Lyft and Uber ride sharing are available in the city and quite handy especially if any of the typical Seattle rain is part of your day.  Seattle also has Light Rail and streetcar for as part of their public transportation system.    If you have a more leisurely schedule, this will be a good option and they do offer a visitor pass for a small charge which gives you unlimited travel for a single day on the light rail and streetcar system.  Seattle is also known for their ferry system which can take you to some of the nearby islands or just out on an evening dinner or cocktail cruise.

If you only arrive one day before your cruise:

Book a dinner reservation before you arrive for your first night.  Seafood is king in Seattle and there are many great places, but they can book up fast.  One recommendation is Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56.  The oyster menu is an entire page and includes recommended wine pairings.  Don’t be intimidated by all the choices.  Ask your server for the oyster bar to pick a few different ones.  When I went, we ordered two dozen and had 8 different kinds and many that I would have never tried.



If you arrive early enough in the day and enjoy interesting museums, check out the Pop Culture Museum.   They have many special areas including a large collection of famous guitars and an exhibit showcasing many sets and props from science fiction movies and television.  They also have the best Star Trek exhibit I have ever seen with representation from all the television series.  

When I went there was also a special separately priced exhibit for the Muppets.  These special exhibits rotate during the year.

The morning of your embarkation, check out the Pike Place Market.  You can choose to visit a couple of different ways.    If you want a more leisurely approach, take a walk to the market and start at the Gum Wall.  From there you can walk in many different directions finding indoor and outdoor vendors.  Indoors is where you’ll find the famous Pike Place Fish which you have probably seen on television.

Outdoors you can find vendors of all sorts selling fish, produce and other goods.  If you want something more structured and to learn more about how the market works and operates on a daily basis, take one of the many tours that are offered.   I recommend Savor Seattle and the VIP tour they offer.   It is a smaller group and you will get into the market area before the official opening to the public avoiding some of the crowds.   After the tour, head back to your hotel to get your bags and head to the cruise port for your sailing.

If you arrive two or three days before you cruise, here are some add-ons

The Space Needle is a 600 foot structure with an observation deck 520 feet up in the air.  It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and has remained ever since.    It also has a rotating restaurant.  It is a must for anyone who wants to get a great view of the city, Mount Rainier and the surrounding area.  Keep in mind that on cloudy and rainy days, your views won’t be as good.  

Bainbridge Island is one of the islands you can get to by using the Seattle ferry system.  It is about a 40 minute ferry ride where you may be able to see Mount Rainier on you way.  Once you get there, there is an area close to the terminal where you can rent bikes if you want to ride around the island.  It is a very bike-friendly place.  You can also walk into the main town in about 20 minutes.  

The Underground Tour is available if you want to know more about how Seattle rebuilt after the fire in 1889.  You get to actually walk under the existing city streets and see what buildings and structures are still there - just underneath the new Seattle.  It is very much like walking through a time capsule.

If you want to explore a another fun city, Portland Oregon is only a 4 hour Amtrak train ride.  You would definitely want to be able to stay overnight to really get a taste of what the city has to offer.  There are some great restaurants and breweries.  Highly recommend taking a ride share to Alberta Street.  This street has several blocks of interesting eateries and makes for a fantastic pub and food crawl.

This article was written by Glenn Sparks, our cruise reviewer here at Trips with Angie. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. 






Thursday, September 14, 2017

Le Blanc Spa and Resort Review

Le Blanc Spa and Resort is an adults only all inclusive resort in the hotel zone of Cancun, Mexico.

This is a fantastic resort. This is a good fit if you are looking for a relaxing vibe, great food, great service and a great beach.

It's important to know that a lot of the rooms do not have balconies and most views are over the pool or next door hotel unless you are in the higher level suites.


For pricing and availability, email me.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Traveling during Hurricane Season




Hurricane season runs June – November for both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. As this year has shown, August - October tend to be the most active. These months have lower pricing to entice travelers to visit Florida, the Caribbean or Mexico during this rainy season.

So what can you do if you want to travel during hurricane season to protect yourself?
Buy Travel Insurance – I always recommend travel insurance and I always buy it for myself. Travelers are currently stranded on Caribbean islands due to cancelled flights. Resorts are charging them for the extra nights. Travel insurance covers these types of expenses. Cancel for Any Reason insurance would give us the option to change your trip location if bad weather is predicated.

Be flexible  - These are not the months to book your “dream once in a lifetime” Caribbean vacation. We may be able to use waivers and change your destination for a land based trip or a cruise line may offer an alternative itinerary. If your trip would be RUINED if you aren’t able to go to a particular location or port, don’t plan it for September or October. 

Book airlines with lots of flight options – Many of the discount airlines like Frontier, Spirit and Allegiant offer one flight per day. This is a disaster during hurricane season. You want to book an airline that will give you options. For example, Trips with Angie clients are currently honeymooning at El Dorado Maroma. They were scheduled to be on a Delta flight home through Atlanta tomorrow. Once it looked like the storm was going to hit Atlanta, I switch their route to flights through JFK. I could only do this because Delta flies these routes several times a day.

Book with a travel agent – Hey! That’s me! Seriously, over the last week, I rescheduled flights and vacations. I continue to monitor upcoming trips for impact. All of this for no additional cost to the people who booked their trip with me as travel agent commission is built into the price of most vacation packages. You are already paying for my services – why not use them?


Please email me if you have any questions.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Spotlight on: RIU Palace Macao

RIU Palace Macao is an adults all inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It's part of a 5 resort RIU complex. Guests at RIU Palace have access to the Splash World water slides, RIU Bambu family resort, and RIU Naiboa. 

This resort has a good price point. The beach is the main draw. It has a quiet vibe.




If you'd like to find out if RIU Palace Macao could be right for your next vacation, schedule a time for me to give you a call.

What's the difference between Majestic Colonial, Majestic Mirage and Majestic Elegance?

Majestic Elegance is a family all inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Three Majestic resorts sit side by side: Majestic Colonial, Majestic Mirage and Majestic Elegance.

They do not share privileges. You cannot visit the other resorts. They do share a kids' club including a small splash park.

Majestic Colonial has the most family rooms and is the most family friendly of the three resorts.

Majestic Elegance has the most club rooms. Club Rooms at Colonial and Elegance are adults only. This means Elegance tends to be more geared toward adults.

Majestic Mirage is an all club level resort. The rooms are twice as large This is the only resort of the three where you can reserve a club level family room. This resort is quieter. It's a resort that allows kids, not a resort geared toward kids.

Some of the key features of these resorts:

Spotlight on: Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro

Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro is an adults only all inclusive resort on Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

This resort is part of a larger complex with other Iberostar resorts. The resort has luxurious feel. All the rooms are suites. One key feature is a large pirate ship with a disco in the hull.

Previous clients have raved about the service and the accommodations.

Take a peek:






If you'd like to find out if Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro could be right for your next vacation, schedule a time for me to give you a call.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Spotlight on: Chic Punta Cana

Chic Punta Cana is an adults only all inclusive resort. This resort has a fun, sexy vibe. The evening entertainment includes mermaid shows and pole dancing lessons are available.The resort also has an oxygen bar where you can pay $1 per minute in case you had too much fun.

The resort is on a small footprint so it's easy to get around.


I recommend reserving one of the poolside cabanas for $129 or trying the Culinary Experience for $99 per person including wine pairings if you are looking for an extra special experience.

Take a look around:





If you'd like to find out if Chic Punta could be right for your next vacation, schedule a time for me to give you a call.

Spotlight on: Nickelodeon Punta Cana

Nickelodeon Punta Cana is a family all inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Here's what sets this resort apart:
  • Family resort for adults who don't like kids' resorts. 
  • Upscale dining 
  • Great Aqua Park and Sports Area - across the street from the rooms, pools, and beach 
  • Large Suites 
  • All first floor suites are swim up suites 
  • Character dining for an additional fee 

Join me on a full resort tour: 





If you'd like to find out if Nickelodeon Punta Cana could be right for your next vacation, schedule a time for me to give you a call.

Spotlight on: Excellence El Carmen

Excellence El Carmen is an adults only all inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. 

The features that make this resort stand out are: 

Wow
Suites 
As you'll see in the video below, the Swim Up Suite and the 2 story Rooftop Terrace Suite with private pool are both amazing. 

New, Modern 
The Excellence El Carmen is one of the newer resort in Punta Cana. It has a modern look. 

Great Dining 
The no reservations dining policy gives you the chance to explore all the different restaurants. I recommend upgrading to the Excellence Club so you have access to a la carte breakfast and lunch. 

One thing to know is that the beach has strong waves which may limit the water sports available. 

Take a look: 




If you'd like to find out if Excellence El Carmen could be right for your next vacation, schedule a time for me to give you a call.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spotlight on: Dreams Sands

Dreams Sands is a family resort in the hotel zone of Cancun. 

This is a compact high rise resort on a small, great stretch of beach. The water is shallow for 100 yards. The volleyball net is actually in the water.  This is a perfect property for family with young kids. The compact footprint, the shallow beach, and the rooms without balconies are great amenities. 

This is also a great resort for a girlfriend getaway for ladies who just want to hang out in the water or by the pool. The resort has family suites with 2 bathrooms, one king bed, two double beds, and can add a rollaway bed. 

This resort comes in at a great price point. 

Take a look. 




If you have any questions, please email me.  I am Master Agent for these resorts. If you'd like to take advantage of my free vacation planning services, set up a time to chat.  


Spotlight on: Now Sapphire

Now Sapphire is a family all inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. 

One unique feature of this resort is that buildings with the rooms are separate from the pools and dining. The 12 buildings each with 12 rooms are steps from the beach. The Oceanfront Preferred Club rooms are truly beachfront.  The adults only pool is behind this buildings and very quiet. Bali beds here are included, but require a reservation. 

This resort is a great choice for adults and families who value quiet when they are in their room because none of the rooms overlook the busy pool and dining areas. 

Take a look around: 




If you have any questions, please email me.  I am Master Agent for these resorts. If you'd like to take advantage of my free vacation planning services, set up a time to chat.  

Spotlight on Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita

Zoetry de la Bonita is a small all inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The 90 suites are well-appointed and have names based on where the owners have traveled. Each room has one detail that was purchased in the city the suite is named after.

It's been a 5 Diamond resort for 14  years - a recognition of exceptional service. It has a focus on wellness and is very quiet. This is a resort for travelers who like pools ore than beaches. The beach is narrow and has a bit of sea grass. The suites are gorgeous! 

Take a look around:




If you have any questions, please email me.  I am Master Agent for these resorts. If you'd like to take advantage of my free vacation planning services, set up a time to chat.  

Spotlight on: Secrets the Vine Cancun

Secrets the Vine Cancun is an adults only all inclusive resort in the Hotel Zone of Cancun.

The first thing that struck me about this resort is that it felt like I was in an upscale Vegas hotel - great lobby bar, shiny decorations, sports bar. It is so different from other all inclusive resorts. The beach is great. It's worth upgrading to Preferred Club to get access to the infinity pool on the 22nd floor.

A couple things to know about the resort: no swim up bar and the balconies are not super private. Because the resort is a high rise, the dividers between the balconies are open to allow air through.

I recommend this resort for a long weekend since it's close to the airport and has a fun vibe. This is not an overly romantic resort so it's a good fit for friends traveling together. For those looking for romance, the honeymoon suite is fantastic. Take a look: 




If you have any questions, please email me.  I am Master Agent for these resorts. If you'd like to take advantage of my free vacation planning services, set up a time to chat.  

Spotlight on: Secrets Maroma

Secrets Maroma is an adults only all inclusive resort on Maroma Beach - one of the best beaches in Mexico. 

This resort stands out to me because:
  • It sits on a gorgeous beach. 
  • The resort has a luxurious feel and is very quiet. 
  • The resort has lots of spaces to get away and read a book or grab a nap.




If you have any questions, please email me.  I am Master Agent for these resorts. If you'd like to take advantage of my free vacation planning services, set up a time to chat.  



Spotlight on Secrets Capri Riviera Maya

Secrets Capri is an adults only all inclusive resort south of the Cancun airport. It's a smaller resort - 291 rooms. All the rooms are Club level. This resort has a relaxing vibe. It's easy to get around. The beach is eroded, but the sand is soft. It does get seaweed depending on the currents. If you'd like to read a client's review, click here. 

Take a look around: 



If you have any questions, please email me.  I am Master Agent for these resorts. If you'd like to take advantage of my free vacation planning services, set up a time to chat.  

Spotlight on; Dreams Tulum

Dreams Tulum is a family all-inclusive resort in southern Riviera Maya, Mexico.

The amenities that really stand out to me are:

  • Mexican Colonial vibe
  • Amazing Spa cabins
  • Teen Activities
  • Great coffee shop with Preferred Hacienda suites above
  • Connecting Suites
  • Waiter service at the Preferred Club Swim Up Suites
  • No other resorts close by



If you have any questions, please email me.  I am Master Agent for these resorts. If you'd like to take advantage of my free vacation planning services, set up a time to chat. 


Friday, August 11, 2017

Spotlight on: Secrets Akumal

Secrets Akumal is an adults only all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

This is a modern resorts on a nice beach with off shore snorkeling with TURTLES!! That's right, you can grab a mask, wade out into the ocean, and hang out with turtles.

It has a modern luxury feel. The pool scene is a little quiet since many people prefer the beach. It's a great choice as long as you don't mind the hour and a half ride from the airport. 

Join me on a tour:




If you have any questions, please email me.  I am Master Agent for these resorts. If you'd like to take advantage of my free vacation planning services, set up a time to chat.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Walt Disney World Coming Attractions


Disney announced lots of upcoming changes to Walt Disney World:

Hollywood Studios

No scheduled date: Mickey’s and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will take the place of The Great Movie Ride. This will be the first ride themed after Mickey and Minnie.
2018: Toy Story land is schedule to open in Summer 2018. Slinky Dog Dash will be a family coaster attraction where you’ll zip, dodge and dash around many turns and drops that Andy has created to really make Slinky and his coils stretch to his limits.

Alien Swirling Saucers will also be a new attraction at Toy Story Land. It’s designed as a toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, inspired by the first “Toy Story” film. Aliens are flying around in their toy flying saucers and trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle with “The Claw.”

Model of Start Wars Galaxy Edge

Secrets Playa Mujeres and Dreams Playa Mujeres

Playa Mujeres is an area about thirty minutes north of the Cancun airport. It's becoming very popular because the beaches tend to have less seaweed. Isla Mujeres - an island just off the coast - blocks some of the current. 

Secrets is an adults only all-inclusive resort and next door is Dreams Playa Mujeres - a family all-inclusive resort.

Secrets Playa Mujeres
The resort kept the natural mangroves. The lobby and most of the restaurants are together, then the mangroves and then the beach. This means you have to take a golf cart between the rooms and the restaurants. I like how the restaurants are centered together with bars outside. It creates a great nightlife. The piano bar and disco can be lively depending on the crowd at the resort. The pool has a live band near the pool.

Dreams Playa Mujeres
This is a large family all-inclusive resort. The pools are lively. Kids enjoy the water slides and splash park. I recommend getting Preferred Club to have access to the lazy river. It also have villas that can sleep 6 people located around the lazy river. It's a great choice for all ages - including teenagers. 

If you are an adult, you have access to both properties.

Join me on a quick resort tour:



Questions? Email me.

Spotlight on: Dreams Riviera Cancun

Dreams Riviera Cancun is an all-inclusive family resort south of Cancun, Mexico in Riviera Maya.

What stood out to me at this resort was:
  • Friendly staff 
  • Great entry level rooms 
  • Feels small even though there's 486 rooms 
  • Swim  up bar in an infinity pool 
  • Option for guaranteed connecting rooms 

This resort is a good choice for families, groups of friends or couples. It has six restaurants plus a buffet. Four of the restaurants are inside - a plus for the steamy, rainy summer.

One challenge when traveling with kids or a group is getting a guaranteed connecting room. This resort offers to  guarantee connecting rooms for a fee.

Preferred Club gives you access to the best room locations, a day pass to the Spa, and a private beach area.

Join me on a tour:




If you have any questions, email me. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Spotlight on: Breathless Montego Bay

Breathless Montego Bay is an adults only resort with a party vibe - think daily foam parties.

It's a small high rise resort with a great pool area. The beach club is across the street and you have full access to the Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets St James resorts next door.

Preferred Club is worth it because you get access to a rooftop pool and bar. You also get access to the rooftop restaurant for lunch.

Join me on a resort tour:

If you have any questions, email me.

Spotlight on: Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, Montego Bay Jamaica

Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall is a family friendly resort near Montego Bay, Jamaica. It's next door to a sister adults only property - Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall.

The resort has a huge pool, kids' programming, a large plaza for evening entertainment and two small cove beaches. One of my favorite spaces is the Moroccan rooftop bar.

I was also impressed to see the bar waiters delivering jerk chicken and pizza poolside.

Join me on a resort tour:




If you have any questions, email me.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Spotlight on: Zoetry Montego Bay

I have to be honest - I fell in love with this little resort. It's not going to be for everyone. It's small - 49 suites. The beach isn't great - it's small and rocky. So what makes me love it so?

The Staff: Everyone I encountered said hello. They seemed genuinely happy I was there. They were friendly. One small thing was that I stayed one night and then came back a couple days later for a group event. Seeing the staff's faces light up with recognition made me feel very VIP. 

In addition the staff, the food was great. I appreciate the resort has three restaurants available for dinner. Depending on occupancy, they may not be open every night, but it's nice to have some variety. I like that the small size means that the guests get to know each other. 

The other pro for this resort is what's included. Besides the normal inclusions of your food and drinks, Zoetry offers a 25 minute foot massage to each guest, a motorized snorkeling trip (once per trip), and, if you stay57 nights or longer, VIP arrival and departure service. Plus if you stay in a swim out or master suite, you get to take a boat ride to the Secrets resort for dinner and then a car back. 

The vibe is incredibly relaxing. The resort is open to all ages. It tends to be most adults because there's no kids' program. Out of all 49 suites, only 4 have double beds. 

This is a great choice for a relaxing getaway. It would also be a great choice for an incentive trip. I plan incentive trips for leaders in direct selling businesses like Rodan and Fields. The small size means you could take over restaurants for just your group or even the whole resort. 

Join me as I show you around: 




If you want to explore if Zoetry Montego Bay is right for you, email me or schedule a time for me to call you.

Monday, August 7, 2017

What's the difference between Sunscape Splash and Sunscape Cove?

Sunscape Splash and Sunscape Cove are two family all-inclusive resorts in Montego Bay, Jamaica. 

Sunscape Splash is a 10 floor high rise. Sunscape Cove is the preferred section made up of two story buildings. 

These resorts deliver a very good value for their price point: 
- Unlimited a la carte dinner with no reservations required at Sunscape Splash 
- A la carte Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Sunscape Cove 
- Walk out beachfront room at Sunscape Cove 
- Kids' club for ages 3 - 12 
- Core Zone hang out area for 12 and up 
- Lazy River with water slide 
- Adults Only pool 


A few things to know: 
- Splash does not have room service. Cove has room service from 7 am - 11 pm. 
- No pool at Cove 

Overall, I think this resort would be great for groups or a destination wedding with limited budgets. The Cove walk out rooms are great. The lazy river and kids' club will keep the kids happy. 

If you have any questions, email me.



 

Spotlight on: Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets St James, Montego Bay, Jamaica


Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets St James are two adults only all-inclusive resorts right next to each other in Montego Bay, Jamaica 

Below is a comprehensive tour of the two resorts. Secrets St James is closer to the spa. Secrets Wild Orchid is closer to the restaurants. All guests have full access between the two resorts. 

What I love about these resorts: 
  • Active nightlife - The resort has a great plaza area with outdoor seating for the restaurants and an outdoor stage. It makes the evenings very lively. The resort also has an air conditioned disco for those who enjoy dancing to the wee hours. A jerk chicken cart begins making the rounds each day between 11 pm - 2 am for the late night crowd. 
  • Great Preferred Club - The Preferred Club here is worth it. You'll get access to a Preferred Club pool and beach area. The buffet can get very busy so I like eating a light breakfast in the Preferred Club lounge. 
  • Comfortable junior suites - These junior suites have the best Jacuzzi tub. It's so relaxing. 
  • Active pools with swim up bars - If you want quiet - you head to the Preferred Club pools. If you want active, head to the main pools. Both St James and Wild Orchid have a main pool with swim up bar that hosts activities during the day. I also like there's a front pool with an infinity edge that's not connected to the swim up bar pool. 
  • Close to the airport - The resorts are about 25 minutes from the airport. 
The Trade-offs
  • Minimal Beach - This coast of Jamaica has a big problem with erosion so the beach is small. It can be a little rocky. You also have to watch out for jelly fish. 
  • Adequate dining - The dining is decent. It may not be the best meal you ever ate, but you will enjoy most of what you try. 



If you'd like to see if these resorts are right for you, email me or set up a time to chat. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

USA Series: San Diego

San Diego is the eighth largest city in the US and 2nd largest city in California, it is located 120 miles south of Los Angeles adjacent to the border with Mexico. Known for its mild year-round climate, natural deep-water harbor, extensive beaches, and long association with the United States Navy. There is plenty to see and do here.


The San Diego Zoo located in Balboa Park not far from downtown, is one of the most famous Zoos in the world. This zoo was the pioneer in the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats. This zoo is home to over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies. It is open every day of the year including holidays. The Zoo also operates the San Diego Safari Park. The Safari Park is located approximately 32 miles from the Zoo in Escondido, CA. It is visited by 2 million people annually, houses over 2,600 animals representing more than 300 species, as well as 3,500 plant species.




Balboa Park is also home to many other Museums and Cultural Experiences including, The Fleet Science Center, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego History Museum, San Diego Model Railroad Museum, Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego Natural History Museum and many, many more.

The region is well known for its many excellent craft beers, some of which are being offered nationally and internationally. A few breweries are within walking distance around the downtown area, not far from the Embarcadero or Convention facility, these include Ballast Point, Stone and Karl Strauss to name a few. Other are just a short cab ride away.

Speaking of the Convention center and Embarcadero, Seaport Village located in between the two, is one of the best places for tourists and convention goers to shop for souvenirs. This fun, outdoor shopping area is filled with unique shops and restaurants as well as typical souvenir stands. In the center of Seaport Village is a hand-carved Carousel dating back to 1895. The Carousel is open daily and rides are just $3.

Located just down from Seaport Village on the Embarcadero is the USS Midway and Museum. The USS Midway was America's longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, from 1945 to 1992. Approximately 200,000 sailors served aboard the carrier, known for several naval aviation breakthroughs as well as several humanitarian missions. A self-guided audio tour, narrated by former Midway sailors to more than 60 locations, including sleeping quarters, engine room, galley, bridge, brig, post office, pilots' ready rooms, officers quarters, and primary flight control. Other features include climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits, videos, flight simulators, and a narrated audio tour for kids.

Coronado Island is accessible by car or for more relaxing experience while enjoying views of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline take the 15-minute Ferry ride from the Embarcadero. The Ferry will deposit you in an area with restaurants, shops and a small beach. If you want to explore more of the Island, take a bike along with you on the Ferry, otherwise you will likely want to drive over the bridge to the island. Coronado Island is also home to Loews Coronado Bay Resort. The hotel situated on it’s own 15-acre peninsula offers stunning views of the San Diego skyline. The resort also has 439 luxury guest rooms and 37 suites, it features three heated pools, a hot tub spa and sauna. The Crown Landing restaurant serves unforgettable Southern California Coastal Cuisine and the Sea Spa is known for it’s signature spa treatments and therapies. 

Back near downtown San Diego located on India Street between Beech and Laurel Streets is Little Italy. The area is reputed to be among the best Little Italy’s in America. Many restaurants have great happy hour offerings of great food, wine and beer at lower prices. If you are visiting the area on a Saturday, check out the region’s largest farmer’s market. Come to shop or for breakfast or lunch from one of the many street vendors. The market is open from 8 am to 2 pm, go early as it is extremely popular. The area is walkable from the Cruise Ship terminal and many downtown hotels.

"Old Town San Diego”, a 10 minute Trolley ride from the Santa Fe Depot in Downtown, contains historic buildings and renderings from San Diego’s long historic past. Also you will find a large concentration of Mexican restaurants, shopping and several bazars.

Moving north up the coast to La Jolla is Birch Aquarium a world renowned Scripps Oceanographic Institute - It is located overlooking La Jolla Cove from the north and the Pacific Ocean. Guest will enjoy hands-on encounters as well as the many exhibits.

Situated on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific on the north side of La Jolla is Torrey Pines, golf lovers won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to play here, make sure to make reservations in advance of your visit as it is a very popular place to play. Tiger Woods won the US Open here in 2008. Torrey Pines will play host to the U.S Open again in 2021.

Hidden gems can be found in nearby scenic Temecula. The area boasts over 40 craft wineries. Due to the weather, topography and soil, a greater variety of grapes and therefore wines are available here than in Napa Valley. You can do it as a day trip, as it is a little over an hour from downtown by car, or plan an overnight at one of the area’s unique family owned hotels or more popularly known chains, and then from a prearranged mini-bus be shuttled among a number a wineries before being returned back to your hotel at day’s end. If there is a beer lover in your group, Temecula also has several craft beer breweries to try. "Old  Town Temecula" has a number of  unique boutique shops to check out.

The San Diego area is also conveniently located near several popular theme parks including Sea World, Legoland in Carlsbad, and Disneyland in Anaheim. 


Travel Tip- October is Kids Free month at the Zoo and many museums in the San Diego area.