Client Review: Honeymoon at Sandals La Toc, St Lucia

I am so happy that we worked with you to plan our honeymoon.  I have told everyone I know to talk with you if they need help planning a trip.  Thank you again.

The Sandals La Toc was beautiful.  We stayed in the room with the ocean view, I bet you still have it on file, and it came with one room-service breakfast and one bottle of champagne (for our honeymoon), one couples massage (for staying at least 6 nights), and one Piton sunset cruise (for staying at least 7 nights).

When we got off the plane and went through customs, we were put on a shuttle bus with AC that took us to the resort.  The driver was very knowledgeable and gave us a little history lesson about the island.  The people in the airport who shuttled our bags to the bus loading area requested a tip.  Everyone else at the resort (with the exception of the massage therapists) refused tips per the rules of the resort.  Even at the restaurants… you just order, eat, and leave.

When we got there, we gathered near the entrance and had a welcome champagne cocktail.  Orientation took about an hour.  Then we went to our room and got ready for dinner.  There are 9 restaurants there!

All of the food was good.  We did not eat at the French restaurant because my husband didn’t have closed toe shoes along so we were not allowed in (since we were not dressed according to their dress code).  The closed toe shoe requirement is not clearly posted either… we had dress clothes along, which we wore to most dinners, but because of his sandals we could not go to the French place.  Make sure you tell them that a man must have dress shoes in order for the couple to eat dinner there!!  It is ok for a lady to have sandals though!!

We also did not eat at the Japanese and sushi restaurants because my husband isn’t a fan of that kind of food.
The French place and the Japanese place are by reservation only.  They fill up fast, so make sure to get on the list right away!!

Our favorite was the Neptune.  It is right on the ocean, open to the breeze.  We ate there for lunch and dinner one day!

The Pizza place was great too, and if you sit at Neptunes you can have the pizza too since they basically share a kitchen.  The pizza place is only open for lunch.

Armondo’s was the Italian place, we ate there for dinner 2 nights.  It was also my favorite!!!!  It is up the hill on “Sunset Bluff”.  We found the most amazing little sitting area on the bluff, just down the steps from the Sunset Bluff pool.  No one was ever there!!

The Pavillion was the buffet, open for all 3 meals, and everything was good there.

The Cricketers Pub was a nice piece of home in the tropics… basically an English pub like Houlihans.

Finally, the Pitons was a Caribbean restaurant that served a lot of local-type food… it was amazing.  I had this seafood bouillon that had a small octopus in it!!  It was good.

Eat a lot at meals because there isn’t anything open between meals (except snacks at the gift shop)!!  A couple of days I actually got really hungry in between lunch and dinner.

We went to the no-tax gift shop and got some gifts and clothes, and we went to the “locals” gift shop to get some other gifts.  We went into the resort gift shop to get some cigars and some snacks.  It was so nice to get a drink, have a cigar, and sit by the fire at night.

Friday nights they have a street dance.  We were on the Sunset cruise, so we didn’t make the street dance.

Saturday nights are steak night.  We didn’t make it to that either, since we wanted to spend our last night there at Neptunes with the gentle ocean breeze.

I LOVED the swim up bar.  I had never seen anything like that before.

The pool is busy.  There is another pool up on the Sunset Bluff, but since we weren’t staying up there we didn’t feel like walking up to that pool.  It was fun to walk around on the beach too, and swim in the ocean.

There are a lot of things to do there.  We would have golfed, but it was too hot for us.  The couples massage was incredible.  There are “playmakers” who walk around and try to get people to play games, trivia, etc.  There are also resort photographers who try to take your picture all the time.

We took a kayak out around the bay, that was super fun but we got super burned!!  We had SPF 70 and we still burned.

THE ONE BIG DOWN SIDE:

The beaches are not privatized in St. Lucia.  The locals DO hang out on the beach and WILL try to sell you ANYTHING no matter how many times you might have said NO before.  I was even asleep on a chair and one came and woke me up to tell me he made us a little thing out of a palm leaf for $20.  To avoid being hassled any more, I just gave him the money and we went back up the steps to the resort…. and stayed there.

For the most part, everyone is extremely nice.  The resort staff keep close tabs on you- for example one day we were going to go walk to town and look around, but they would not let us do that. In order to look around town you had to buy a “shopping excursion” for around $150/person.  There are a lot of cool-looking excursions… we wanted to do a zip line and hike the Piton Mountains but didn’t get around to it.

When it was time to go home, we got on the shuttle bus and went back to the airport, and that driver was also very nice and knowledgeable.  I literally cried when we had to leave.  It was just so beautiful.  Like nothing I had ever seen before (granted the most tropical place I have ever been is Miami)….

We did not visit the Halcyon.  I do know it is a smaller resort with not as many things to do, but the one couple we talked to on the Sunset cruise were staying there and said it was “intimate and beautiful”.  You can take a shuttle to the other Sandals resorts and drink there, eat there, party there all day if you wanted.  You just can’t sleep there (since you aren’t checked in there)!!

I LOVE St Lucia.  I would go back right now if I could.  I have even looked up what it takes to work there, cost of living, etc.

Jody goes to Couples Tower Isle, Jamaica

I have been to Jamaica several times, and have visited one of my personal favorite hotels, Couples Tower Isle in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
On this trip, we took some ‘local’ advice and ventured over to the Blue Hole.  We hiked and were able to jump off the cliffs, swim under in the caves and jump and play all around this area.  It’s so beautiful in this area, an absolute must see if you’re in the area.  We have been to Dunn’s River Falls, and although pretty also, this place is a more local favorite.  And one of our new favorites too.

Couples Tower Isle is an adult only, couples only retreat in the Ocho Rios area.  The au natural island is one of the highlights of this resort.  It’s an oasis across the water, privacy is key, and full relaxation always happens here.  The food is top notch, never had better.  Top shelf liquor is always flowing.  Many other activities are included with your stay.  We like the catamaran tour, the shopping tour, daily snorkeling tours, resort certified diving, waterskiing, glass bottom boat tours (all included and complimentary by the way) and so much more that this resort offers. (The inclusions are always being enhanced and changing, so we can check what is included for your stay, so we gotta say ‘subject to change’)

Blue Hole
This picture is of us at the Blue Hole in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Client Review of Zoetry Agua Punta Cana

The Zoetry staff were excellent as was the resort itself and the food was to die for. The resort itself is very nice and the they do a great job of landscaping etc. Also we were very happy with our room which had a partial ocean view. The people who work there are outstanding. We can’t say enough good things about them. The food was also excellent. It was like eating in a nice restaurant every night.

Unfortunately for us the bugs were a problem and I don’t really think it was the mosquitoes. I don’t recall slapping a mosquito the entire time. I think it was mostly sand fleas or no-see-ums or something similar. Many people had the same problem but there were some that did not. So I guess it is a mixed review. We did have fun and would go back there if it were not for the bugs. Maybe it was the time of year or possibly we are more susceptible to bug bites or didn’t use enough repellant. The only other negative was that they did want you to attend a presentation regarding their vacation club. We had to say no a couple of times and then it was not a problem.

Thanks! Bob and Kathy, Chanhassen, MN.

Client testimonial for Jamaica

Excellent Bachelorette party and honeymoon!
We recently used Travel Leaders to plan our honeymoon as well as my bachelorette party in Vegas through your representative, Jackie Taylor and I wanted to send a review of her services for future prospects thinking about going with a travel agent (and Jackie, specifically). We had a GREAT experience! Jackie was so helpful when we were planning the bachelorette trip to Vegas, assisting us with coordinating multiple flights and getting us a great deal during a very busy weekend on the strip! She was wonderful in helping my husband and I plan our honeymoon. Jackie suggested a beautiful resort in Jamaica and we had an amazing time during our trip last week. We would have never considered Jamaica had Jackie not weighed in. She was prompt, fun, energetic, and caring during the entire process, which was stressful at times. We are so glad that we decided to use Jackie’s services throughout this past year and will definitely be reaching out to her in the future for our travel needs.

Laurie Enjoys the Activities at the Melia Caribe Tropical

Ever wonder what you can do at an all-inclusive resort?  Most resorts offer snorkeling, kayaking, sailboats and many other water toys.  Climbing walls are becoming more popular also.  When I recently stayed at the Melia Caribe Tropical in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic I also noticed that zip lining and an obstacle course was an option.  How fun!  I’ve never zip lined before since I have a fear of heights, plus didn’t want to spend a lot of money on an excursion I might not enjoy.  This was a wonderful way to do a “sample” zip lining (not over the tree tops, and not a long distance with fast speeds).  The men assisting the guests get harnessed up were very kind and understanding of my fear and my want to try to face and conquer it.

 

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This experience was definitely one of the many trip highlights.  Now, I’m looking forward to having a true zip line experience on my next vacation.

 

Punta Cana 2015 090            Punta Cana 2015 091       Family at the Melia 2015

Melissa visits Majestic Elegance & Colonial – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

I traveled to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in May 2015. There are so many things that I love about this destination!  The beaches are absolutely amazing!
When visiting the Majestic Resorts, I was very excited!!!  This was my first time visiting these two resorts, and I have to say I was quite impressed!!!  The layout of the resorts is pretty much perpendicular to the beach.  So most of the rooms are garden view or partial ocean view.
Each resort is divided up into two sections, the regular rooms and the club level rooms.

Even though there are 2 resorts side by side, they do not have exchange privileges.  You are either at one or the other, not both.  There is a little commons area back by the lobby with some shops and a sports bar, and in that area both resorts can use that area, but that’s the only area.

These are two of my favorite resorts, the staff is friendly, the rooms are spacious, and the beach is fabulous.

Colonial Resort Map Colonial (non club pool) Colonial Regular room Colonial Standard room Colonial Colonial Club pool Wedding gazebo Colonial Club lounge Door Decorations Colonial Club pool Colonial standard room jacuzzi in every room Garden wedding set up

Melissa visits Breathless Resort – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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I have had the wonderful opportunity to visit Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in May 2015.  I traveled with some of my fellow travel agents for the Apple Vacations Platinum Retreat.  We stayed at Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa.
I have assisted a lot of people to travel to this beautiful island, but I had not had the chance to visit myself, until now.  What a fun trip!!!!
Here is my opinion and feedback about the resort:
THE ROOM:  Our room was a standard room.  At this resort, that means a spacious junior suite.  We had a garden view, and our particular room overlooked the spa and gym.  The beds were soft and perfect.  The bathroom was very large, two sinks, separate toilet area and the shower was pretty open.  The balcony was great, and it had a hot tub out on it.
THE POOLS:  There were a couple different pool areas.  We hung out by the swim up bar mainly.  The resort brought in fun pool bikes for a spin class, it was fun!  The main pool, which was a little further from the beach, had the little waterfall by the Breathless sign.  Another swim up bar there also.  Both bars seemed to have lots of people around all the time.
THE BARS/DISCO:  I didn’t see every single bar in the entire resort, but we did get to visit quite a few, and the staff was friendly and the drinks were a-plenty.  The Disco is really fun.  The staff blends in with the group help to get people out on the dance floor.  There is a nice little outdoor seating area and outdoor bar right off from the disco, we enjoyed having that option to hang out as well.  The disco has theme nights, and we experienced their Erotic Party, which was staff dancing on poles and such but no nudity.  It was different, and not really for everyone.  The disco has different themed nights every night.
THE BEACH:  Gorgeous beach, basically exactly what I expected, wide beach as far as the eye can see.  They are building a resort next door, but until then, the beach is pretty deserted.  We walked up to Dreams, which took us approx 20 minutes to walk one way.  After the Dreams resort, more deserted beach and probably an hour walk from there is the Hard Rock.  There is a lot of undeveloped land still in the area, so there are stretches of beach that have nothing on them.  Breathless sits sort of on the end of a strip (I guess you could call it a strip) of resorts.
ATMOSPHERE:  Because of the group of travel agents with our group, I would say that the atmosphere of the resort was probably slightly different than what most people would experience.  There were small groups of bachelors and bachelorettes at the resort, and they were having a great time!  There was even a foam party in the pool, and the pool was jam packed with people.  Seems that when there is an activity going on at this resort, there are lots of people joining in on the fun!!  Out on the beach there was pole dancing one day and mud tug of war another day.  I think this resort is very open to many different lifestyles and not a great fit for conservative couples.
OVERALL IMPRESSION:  Loved the resort, loved the island, food was fabulous, people are great.  Not a bad thing to say about the whole experience.

Breathless Punta Cana Romantic Dinner on the Beach Gorgeous Beach Beautiful Beach Breathless Punta Cana Platinum Agency Awards

Client Review of Riu Palace Tropical Bay Negril

Hi Nora, Our trip to Jamaica was amazing!!!  Loved, loved the Riu Tropical Bay.  Great place for teenagers.  We took a day trip to Dunn’s River waterfalls.  Also went zip lining.  The food and staff were amazing at the Riu!  We will definitely stay at another Riu.  Could not believe how friendly everyone was and how safe we felt everywhere we went.  Lots of people trying to sell you stuff but if you look, tell them their stuff is nice and then tell them “no thanks”, they are very respectful.  Oh, my daughter’s favorite part of the trip was cliff diving at Ricks. 

Pool at Riu Tropical Bay Negril

Pool at Riu Tropical Bay Negril

Thanks again for your help,

Michelle R. of Maple Grove

 

Client Review – Majestic Elegance Punta Cana

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We had a super time!! It was so beautiful there, something to do all the time, that is if you wanted to. The Majestic Elegance was very nice, our rooms were clean, maids were there everyday to keep them perfect, one day they must have run out of bath towels during the daily clean so we got ahold of someone and they came right away with towels for us. One of the maids put a flower in my hair whenever she saw me, cute! Apple Vacations took very good care of us at the Majestic and were helpful when we needed help, our Apple Vacation man was “Anthony”! The whole bunch of us were able to go on a private Catamaran for an afternoon, that was a blast, everyone had a super time. It was the first time that the boys were snorkeling and they liked it. I stayed on the Catamaran and drank rum and coke when the rest went swimming, I don’t do water!! Did spend a lot of time on the beach with everyone tho and put my feet in. Some of us took the Out Back Safaria, that was also a super day, very educational for all of us and especially the boys.

The wedding was just perfect, beautiful, beautiful, pictures after the ceremony on the beach, appetizers after that, lovely dinner with a wedding cake and all. Great day, I had tears at the ceremony, but I guess that is only natural, they were happy tears!!

We ate at the Steak House, Japanese, French, See by Sea with others and of course breakfast everyday at the buffet and a couple of nights when we didn’t want much.

Shopped at Harrison’s Jewelry and purchased a ring and bracelet made with the native Larimar stone.  I always bring something back from a trip like this of the native product, this will be my last trip overseas so I sure had to get something!!

Thanks for all of your work!!!

Majestic Elegance Destination Wedding

The Majestic Elegance was great! Everything went great! The rooms were beautiful (although ours was a bit musty smelling which we didn’t really mind too much…we figured that comes with the hot, humid temperatures). The wedding was absolutely perfect. Short and sweet, which was exactly what we wanted. The majestic elegance has by far the nicest beach gazebo for a wedding. The meal we had that night for the wedding was great and the service that night at the Sea and See was excellent. We had a butler which we never really seen that much during our stay. Others in the elegance club raved about their butlers…we, on the other hand, weren’t overly impressed with ours. The flights went very well. Nobody had any issues at all.

I would also highly recommend the hibachi at the Elegance. It was by far the best place to eat… the steakhouse was good as long as you liked your meat done on the more med-med rare side. Sea and see had a great lunch and breakfast buffet as well as the other buffet on the resort. 10419006_10206568601918162_642615913578293444_n

 

When we arrived in Punta Cana we realized that purchasing those $10 travelers fee cards was a lifesaver. Others in our group waited a while in line before they made it through. The airport transfers went great as long as you were able to find one of the workers to cart your luggage and show you where to go. Otherwise I feel like we may have gotten lost haha! Navigating through the airport on the way home was a breeze. Very easy. Overall the trip was absolutely great. Everyone was very pleased with everything you did to prepare us. We would most definitely travel back to Punta Cana in the future

Thanks again Melissa!

Client Review of Riu Ocho Rios

Hi Nora!

I just got back from the Riu in Ocho Rios and I wanted to personally thank you for recommending this place to me! I had a MARVELOUS time!

The service was top notch! People remembered my name, served the dishes to the left of the guests, had conversations with me….I forgot I came alone!

The food was delicious and plentiful! Drinks served with a smile and singing bartenders! The MUSIC! Just impeccable!

The ocean view room was a perfect touch! I fell asleep to the sounds of waves and birds every night!

Club Mobay was also a very classy and handy service! The representative met me holding an impressive sign with my name on it and personally escorted me through customs. I was done in minutes! I got a refreshing drink at the lounge (very lovely as well) and learned about Jamaican culture from a very friendly bus driver.

The Riu took my breath away and Ocho Rios was a delight to the senses! Thanks again and I can’t wait to go again next winter!

 

Benita N. from Elk River

Melissa visits Sandals Negril

Sandals Negril

This was our first experience at a Sandals Resort.  For years, I have been selling these resorts, and happy client after happy client kept coming back and raving about their experiences.  I have the utmost confidence in the Sandals resorts.  I feel that they are consistent, they focus on couples and romance, and the adult only atmosphere.  On this trip, we were celebrating our 10 year anniversary.  First trip we have taken in a very long time, and my hubby’s first experience at an all inclusive resort.

THE ROOM: At Sandals Negril, we had the pleasure of staying in a One Bedroom Penthouse Suite with butler. We had 2 butlers. The four poster bed, with white duvet cover, and pillows you could sink your head into for the night, was awesome. There was a plasma flat screen tv facing the bed, and another plasma slat screen tv in the living room area. The living room area had a couch and chair, coffee table and a table with chairs in the corner. The bathroom had a double sink, jacuzzi tub, walk in shower, and small separate toilet area. Huge bathroom area, plenty of room to move about. Our balcony was also very large, another couch out there, and table and chairs, and a nice drying rack for our wet clothes. Another drying rack inside. The view from our balcony was picture perfect.
I also had the opportunity to see two other room types at Sandals, the Millionaire Honeymoon Penthouse One Bedroom Suite with Whirlpool, and the Honeymoon Concierge Beachfront Walk-out room.
The Millionaire suite was almost identical to our room. It overlooked the gardens area, and was not as quiet as our room. The main road was not that far away, so I’m guessing at times, this room could be a bit noisy from the traffic.
The Honeymoon walk out was exactly what I would expect from a Sandals. Furnishings very nice, direct access to the beach from the little patio, fridge in room, and flat screen tv.

FOOD: We tried most of the restaurants. They all had very good food. Our first night was the main buffet area, and we watched the entertainment, and ate dinner. On your first night in a new resort, it’s always hard to know what to do, and what to eat first. But the buffet was good.
We ate at the Beach Grill the next day, ordered some of the more casual food, quesadillas, fish, fries, burgers, etc. All of this was good, hard to mess that up.
We dined at Barefoot by the Sea the next night. The service was S-L-O-W, the food was good, fancy, but really good. But it took a long time to dine…. And although the service was great, it was just slow….this took some getting used to, to vacation on Jamaican time…
The next night we ate at Sundowners. Again, very good food. Service was much quicker here, so we enjoyed that.
The next night we ate at Kimono’s, this was our favorite. It’s dining teppanyaki style, where they cook the food in front of you. It was nice, because everything they cooked, we all got to eat, we didn’t have to choose which meat we wanted. Food was great, service was perfect.
The last night we dined at the regular buffet, we didn’t want to race to a dinner reservation or anything, and even the buffet was great. Some of the food was cooked to order, and we had tons of choices.
We did not try the 4C’s italian restaurant, heard good things, but it just didn’t fit into our schedule.

BUTLER SERVICE: For those that have never had a butler before (myself included) this service was so much more than I had anticipated. Our butlers made it clear that if there was anything at all that we wanted or needed, to just call them, and they could make it happen. They gave us our own cell phone to ring them anytime. We had breakfast out on the beach, lots of room service, they helped us order up a cab, and take a little shopping trip. They even went as far as let us use their own personal cell phones to call home, that is amazing!!!
Every time they made a dinner reservation for us, we had our own reserved table, always decorated with flower petals, and our name on it. And always the best table in the room. Even when we went to the buffet and no reservations could be made, our butler told us to call him, and he made sure we got a sunset view table.

OVERALL IMPRESSION OF JAMAICA: OK, so we didn’t leave the resort too much. Why would you, when you are staying at a Sandals and have butlers waiting on your every need? No big reasons, in my mind….ha ha ha. We went down to Beaches Negril, and walked down to the Grand Pineapple. This area of the Negril beach has a much wider beach, and much busier than our little area of Negril. More beach vendors, more people, more action.
This area of Negril reminded me a lot of Cancun actually. Busy, lots and lots of resorts, and not a ton of security. I was able to walk by and in any of these resorts I wanted. The all inclusive resorts had wristbands, but the little mom and pop type resorts didn’t. I am sure that some of the resorts in this area of Negril attract people that want the smaller-feel resorts, but it was not what we liked.
We did go down to Rick’s Cafe. It’s pretty fun to watch the cliff divers jumping. We did not jump. I can see that this would be a lively place to party when the sun went down. There is even a pool you can swim here. Music is great, crowd is fun!

Sandals Negril