If you are ready for relaxation head to Xolumado.

Xolumado is a resort by Karisma located in the Riviera Maya. This resort opened in 2018 and is located just minutes from Generations. As a guest at Xolumado you have access to that Generations. You can head over to the beach, restaurants and enjoy the entertainment.

The accommodations at Xolumado are beautiful. You will stay in huts inspired by the Mexican culture, which is also infused throughout the grounds of the resort. The grounds are very tranquil and there is very relaxing music played throughout the resort. When you step out the front door of your hut you can lay in your own personal hammock and enjoy the lush greenery that surrounds you.

This is a smaller resort with just 41 cottages. The restaurant on this property is FANTASTIC!  Everything tasted incredibly fresh. There were plenty of food options for you to choose from and the menu changes daily. There is also a pool for you to enjoy and plenty of relaxing seating areas for you to relax and enjoying your surroundings.


Decisions, Decisions. Should I All-Inclusive on my trip and why?

There are so many components to consider for your trip and two of the major ones to think about is food and beverages when you are there. How do you decide?

The first thing to consider is what destination are you going to? If you are thinking of Mexico, or the Dominican Republic or Jamaica, the all-inclusive inclusions at each property are designed to wow the client and be a memorable representation of what each resort is about. The level of food quality and beverage quality is designed to be so amazing that if you choose to not leave your resort on your vacation will leave a smile on your face. Karisma resorts has Gourmet Inclusive offerings that you won’t want to miss. I have stayed at these resorts and the food is immaculate. The HardRock (Riviera Maya) is also known for it’s generous resort credit’s that is standard for every room. Resort credits are exclusive to every property and they do have rules for how to use them, but different amenities may include couples massage on the beach, romantic dinners on the beach, or even equipment rentals.

For Mexico, Dominican Republic and Jamaica there is true VALUE in having the all-inclusive option added. Aside from value, there is convenience meaning your do not have to bring your purse or wallet to the beach and usually you can eat and drink what you like, as much as you like and it is all taken care of already. The value still remains even if you day trip or leave your property.

However… There are always exceptions to the rule. Puerto Rico and Aruba are the top 3 places where experiencing the culture of the area is experienced by getting out and dining at the actual restaurants of the destination. Food is the soul of many of these destinations and experiencing the true flavors will always be a pleasant memory and make you want to come back. Aruba and Puerto Rico are especially wonderful destinations for that.

The attributes for not doing all-inclusive is that everything is close in the city. It is inexpensive and easy to get around via taxis and public transportation. What is really fun about Puerto Rico is the amazing local foods that you find in food trucks on the street!

Deciding to do all-inclusive or European plan starts with the destination you are at and deciding what is going to provide you with the most memorable experience with the most ease of accessibility.

Live Aqua in Cancun

Beautiful Resort … A Must Visit!

Beautiful relaxing resort that fills the senses with different essential oils burning throughout the resort on different floors and even in your room! Clean beautiful beaches and great restaurants! Breakfast buffet was tasty with lots of great options! Perfect for a quite get away to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, or a great retreat with friends!

A painting class you can organize before you travel for a group of yours!

Your Guide on What to Wear at Karisma Resorts

The luxury experience begins at Karisma Resorts from the moment you step foot on the property. You will receive impeccable service and hospitality throughout your stay. The luxury appeal at these resorts is exquisite and they even hold high standards for your attire when dining at the resort.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when you grab a romantic meal near the beach …

Suggested attire for breakfast and lunch:

  • Ladies: Sun dresses, elegant sandals, T-shirts and skirts
  • Gentleman: Long pants, formal bermuda, polo shirt, sleeved T-shirt, sandals or tennis shoes
  • Permitted: Shorts, sleeved T-shirts, flip-flops
  • Not Permitted: Swimming trunks, bikinis, swimsuits, tank tops, sleeveless shirts, baseball caps or any type of hat

Suggested attire for dinner:

  • Ladies: Dresses, skirts, long pants, shoes, Capri pants, elegant sandals
  • Gentleman: Long pants, collared shirts, casual shoes
  • Permitted: Formal bermuda, dress sandals
  • Not Permitted: Baseball caps, tank tops & flip-flops, sport shorts

You will certainly enjoy the Karisma experience for a romantic getaway and I would be happy to share my Karisma experience with you. Let me help you and your sweetie escape!

Spring Break Alternatives After Hurricanes Irma and Maria

We all know that the Caribbean has suffered a horrible hurricane season this year with the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Many of the destinations will take months and even worse case scenario, years to recuperate.

All is not lost for winter and Spring Break 2018, though. There are many destinations in the Caribbean that did not get hit by Irma or Maria. Mexico is also a very safe and still wonderful choice too.

As of the beginning of October, probably the worst hit is Puerto Rico where people are without food, supplies, water or electricity. Barbuda, Dominica, St. Maarten and the US. Virgin Islands were not devastated as badly, but it will be some time before they are back on track and functioning as per usual, although cruise ships are already preparing for docking at many ports of call that were hit.

What didn’t get hit is a very nice list. Two of the major destinations, with their non-stop flights out of Minnesota , were not devastated or even suffered one bit of damage are the Dominican Republic or Jamaica. Each of these islands have their own personality and distinctions that are very popular with American tourists looking for culture and gastronomy.

Other more remote Caribbean islands that were passed over were St. Kitts and Nevis, Bahamas, Haiti, Martinique, Antigua, St. Lucia and Aruba. If you are interested in Caribbean islands that are a little less accessible, but gorgeous and relaxing, the Caribbean is still an option.

Lastly, Mexico is still a fantastic choice for sunshine, white sand beaches and teal blue water. There are many activities to experience and the scenery is wonderful. Mexico’s welcoming hospitality is still intact, and the food and beverages are still top notch. Tourist safety is the number one priority for both American Travel Agencies and Mexico. You can have as much nightlife as you wish or as much relaxing as you wish, for safe memories that will last a lifetime.

Treat Your Culinary Desires on your Honeymoon!

Mexico is where it’s at for great culinary experience—thinking Peruvian, Italian and Asian food on your honeymoon!

The Riviera Maya is home to the El Dorado Maroma, Playa Maroma. It is where you will be surrounded by white sand beaches, teal blue water and swaying palm trees in the warm Mexican breezes. The property is gorgeous, lush with green foliage and flowers. The El Dorado Maroma is also home to it’s first of a kind in Mexico, Palifitos, over the water bungalows just like Fiji without the long plane ride.

So if you like diversity with what you eat, the El Dorado has plenty to keep your palate entertained. Lima Limon is a Peruvian style restaurant featuring signature cerveches and Peruvian style prepared meat and seafood dishes, and the presentation is just as beautiful as the white sand beaches … 5-Stars.

Mio Cuccina Italiana specializes in classic fresh fish dishes like Carpaccio and Frutti di mare and homemade pasta, daily in an intimate restaurant setting.

As for Asian, the staff at Kiyoko does a fantastic job with a selection of Sashimi, teppanyaki and other specialties. Chef will even customize a meal for you.

If the Caribbean is what calls you, there is plenty of opportunity for fabulous gastronomy as well.

Sandals is always a wonderful luxury go-to in Jamaica, but the Sandals Royal Plantation raises the bar for French inspired cuisine, Escargot, La Coquille du Pecheur, and of course nightly featured chef-prepared entrees. And of course the red wine will be flowing.

If afternoon tea is the experience you desire, scones, pastries and clotted cream served on fine china is available.

For a little more casual dining with high-end flair, try the Wobbly Peacock Gastro Pub. With traditional mahogany furnishings and an inviting atmosphere, The Wobbly Peacock features Confit Salmon and Lamb Rump as two classic Brittish entrees.

So whatever destination you choose in Mexico and the Caribbean, there are endless options for fantastic gastronomy to go with all of the beautiful beaches.

Earlymoons – What is that?

Why wait?

Today’s young couples are in a live-for-the-moment kind of mood, studies say, so it should come as no surprise that they are not waiting for the wedding to plan a vacation. Enter the new travel term: “earlymoon.”

You can probably thank Pippa Middleton and her new husband, James Matthews, who apparently introduced the trend to the world when they took a break from the stress of planning their lavish May wedding with a vacation in St. Barts.

And suddenly this month it is everywhere – on ABC news, on Good Morning America, in Conde Nast Traveler.
For most earlymooners, the new “experts” say, the point is to keep it simple and just relax.

Noting that 71% of engaged and newlywed couples say planning their wedding was more stressful than buying a home or finding a job, an ABC News story yesterday said “while honeymoons give newlyweds a chance to relax after their wedding, more and more engaged couples are taking a vacation even before their wedding festivities begin. Couples say the pre-wedding vacation, dubbed an ‘earlymoon,’ gives them a chance to de-stress and reconnect before tying the knot.”

“We were met with champagne and macaroons at the hotel [and] enjoyed some really nice dinners,” the story quotes one earlymoon couple as saying. “It was just us being able to enjoy each other’s company and just relax with no burden of kind of anything else weighing us down, especially all the pre-wedding planning.”

In a June story on earlymooning in Conde Nast Traveler, How To Be Married author Jo Piazza suggested the goal should be to “get out of the pre-wedding madness and remember why you are marrying this person in the first place.”

Go away “before the invites go out,” Piazza suggested, as many of the big decisions and stressful moments happen at the two-month-out mark. “Take a pause on planning before this time. You’ll be recharged and ready to tackle the big decisions when you return.”

Client Review of Grand Velas Vallarta (Riviera Nayarit)

 

I meant to email you earlier this week. It was FABULOUS! We loved it. The beach was amazing, the food was fantastic and the service was totally awesome. It will be hard for us to go anywhere else. It was a bit smaller which was a nice change. Grounds and rooms were very nice as well. Even the transportation was seamless this time! We loved the adjoining rooms as well – that worked out perfect. They had a really cool fire show one night and live music on other nights. Really hard to pick on anything. I can’t say enough about the food. Wow – for all inclusive, blew every other place away by far – Chateau briand, sea bass, steak – all fabulous. Poolside fajitas – amazing. Even the “non-reservation” restaurant changed it’s menu and options in the buffet. They had a bbq night one night which was really nice too. We can name at least 4-5 staff members by name who were exceptional but everyone was so friendly and helpful. Just awesome. We had a fabulous time. Thank you!!!

Sherri B.
Plymouth, MN

OverWater Bungalow – Closer than you think!

I had the pleasure of seeing overwater bungalows in person is so much more awe-inspiring than in a picture. We visited Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma, and it was stunning. If this is on your bucket list, I highly recommend saving a little bit on airfare, by flying into Cancun, and staying in one of these amazing overwater bungalows at El Dorado Maroma.

Now is the time!!!


The bathrooms are beautiful, with the Jacuzzi soaking tub indoors and out on the balcony!


With the full seclusion here, you can relax and truly escape the crowds and enjoy each others company!


There is something about being able to see the water from the inside of your room.  Absolutely beautiful.  (yes, you can put the rug over the top to cover it up if you prefer.


Beds face the sliding glass doors so you can see outside at all times.
 

Everything about the bungalows makes you want to just kick your feet back and relax.

Honeymoon at Barcelo Maya Grand Resort

My clients recently returned from the beautiful Riviera Maya, Mexico.  They stayed at the Barcelo Maya Grand Resort, and upgraded their room to the Junior Suite Ocean Front Club Premium.  They also upgraded their airport transfers to ‘private’ which for this resort is well worth the upgrade!!  Here is what they had to say:

Hey Melissa!!

Thank you so much for planning out all the details for our honeymoon! We had such a great time and will be planning on returning again in a few years! The flight was good we had enough time to make it to  our transfers on the way there and home. Having the private transfer to the hotel from the airport and then back on the last day was so great! The driver when we first got to Cancun was so nice and talked to us all the way to the hotel! It really made us feel comfortable and welcomed to have that great initial experience! We already decided we would have a private transfer when we travel next time. The hotel was very nice and our room was perfect! We would do Premium room again they were updated and really modern. You could see the ocean and the pool from our balcony! They did a great job with cleaning and restocking our fridge each night. We liked how everything was at the hotel. You could go snorkeling, they had dolphins, the spa, and of course all of the swimming pools and swim up bars! We really like the restaurants which was a nice break to eat at instead of the buffets for every meal.  They had entertainment every night as well and stuff going on during that day you could do or just watch while your in the pool:)

We had a lot of fun and thank you for all your help again!

Splashing around at Memories in Punta Cana

Here is a client review of their family vacations to Memories Punta Cana, all inclusive resort in Dominican Republic.

Flights- Sun Country Charter—no issues, I always try to fly with Sun Country because there has never been any problems.

Transfers- We had a few issues with the transfer company, they seemed to not understand that we purchased nonstop transfers to and from the airport. After about 20 minutes trying to explain this to them we were on our way to the hotel. The area outside the airport where you get into your cab/bus/shuttle is always so busy but the guys who run the Island Sun transfers are very good about finding your ride in a timely manner.

Hotel- Memories Splash Punta Cana- We upgraded to the Diamond Club. This was our second year staying at this hotel, we love it here. I definitely will go with the Diamond Club again. The extra perks that you get are so worth the extra money. Some of the benefits that you receive with diamond club are: Room location is much better, you have your own personal butler, premium alcohol at the bars that serve it, private pool, private beach access, priority reservations at the ala cart restaurants at the Royalton and priority check in and check out. We did encounter a few minor issues during our stay this year, they were much busier this year that the year prior so this might explain some of the issues we had. 1 issue we had was 2 times in the buffet we were seated at a dirty table, several times in the buffet area no one ever came over to offer us water or take our drink orders. Towels at the pool where hard to come by, we often had to wait several hours to get one. This year we also had difficulty getting a chair by the pool, we had to get up every morning by 6am to go to the pool and save 3 chairs, by 7am they were all spoken for. Housekeeping was never consistent, some time they stopped by in the am and sometimes they came by to clean in the late afternoon. None of these issues will prevent us from going back, they were all pretty minor in our opinion. Staff at this hotel are amazing. They are so friendly and go out of their way to make your vacation amazing. Many of the staff remembered us from our stay last year, I couldn’t believe it since they see so many people daily. This hotel is the perfect fit for my family, it has enough going on to keep the adults happy and definitely enough going on to keep my 12 year old busy and happy. Some of the great things about this resort are: The staff, the cleanliness, the water park, the entertainment, the beach and the ability to use 2 resorts, the Royalton is next door and this is where the beach is located. The 1 thing that I love most about Memories is that it is not too large and not too small. Something else which is great is they have 3 ala cart restaurants on site and you do not need reservations and there is not limit as to how many times you can visit. The Royalton also has ala cart restaurants that you can eat at but you do need reservations and they charge a fee, its $15 per adult and $10 for kids. So for the price and the amenities offered this is our choice for hotels in Punta Cana.

Excursions- We bought 2 excursions this year while on vacation. The 1st one we did was Zip Lining. This was amazing. We had the opportunity to see so much of the beautiful country side and mountains. As we traveled to the mountains to do the Zip Lining we went through many small villages and had the opportunity to see how the locals live and see their way of life. We also did a day on Saona Island, this was my 2nd visit there and this place is truly beautiful. The catamaran on the ride to the island had some mechanical issues but it was not anything to complain about, we still made it there in 1 piece. The speed boat ride back was great and we stopped in the natural wadding pool out in the ocean to spend time with the star fish.

Travel Agent-I have known my travel agent Kristi(Ali) for more than 10 years both professionally and personally. She has been amazing to work with, she never seemed to get frustrated with all my many emails with questions and requests for price adjustments when I noticed a sale happening. I have referred several friends and family to Kristi because I know she will treat her clients like family and get them the best vacation for their money. Thank You Kristi!!

Mountains or Beach … Puerto Vallarta is the place to be!

13709979_1232022230150193_4714941814747452933_nI had the opportunity to join Funjet Vacations to experience Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.   This picturesque town located between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains is a popular travel destination. It offers beautiful beaches, cultural activities, water sports, and more. The Grand Fiesta Americana is a stunning property perched on the golden shores of the Pacific Ocean and just east are the tropical rainforests of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Located just six minutes from the Historic Downtown District.

At Grand Fiesta Americana you can enjoy 14 restaurants and bars with all types of cuisines, from Asian to your traditional Mexican meal.  If you are a seafood lover you must check out La Cevicheria. I highly recommend their ceviche …it  is out of this WORLD!

Their accommodations are top notch. You’re not lacking space, that’s for sure, and be sure to indulge the beautiful ocean views. You can also admire the simply breathtaking red sunsets from your balcony. There’s nothing better then enjoying a cocktail with an ocean breeze in Grand Fiesta Americana open air Mojito bar. Imagine listening to the crashing waves getting ready to start your day or the sound will slowly put you to sleep at night.

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Client Review: Ocean Blue and Sand in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Thank you Kristi for finding us a perfect get away for our family.  Your patience with my indecisiveness was much appreciated.  I was so busy with work, family and activities that I really didn’t have time to plan our trip.  You listened to what we wanted and made it happen in a very short time frame,  The resort was perfect for our family.  It was everything we wanted…beach, pool, great food, entertainment, wonderful staff and sunshine.  We loved Punta Cana and can’t wait until we can go back!  Thank you for everything!

Mandy Visits Puerto Vallarta

In June 2016 my husband and I took our first trip to Puerto Vallarta and we had a blast! On our flight down we upgraded ourselves to first class and this is the way to go. If you have never done it I highly suggest you try it. All you can eat and drink, bigger seats and more leg room. We stayed at the RIU Jalisco and were told we had the best view in the hotel- full ocean view! It is such a treat when you come from a cold weather state to open your shades in the morning and see the ocean and hear the waves. The hotel is very large so there could be a lot of walking depending on where your room is located. The food is yummy, the hotel is clean and the staff is friendly.

When I am in a new location I like to take a tour to really get to know the destination so one day during our vacation we did this. Puerto Vallarta is not as Americanized as other Mexican destinations which allows you to have a more cultural experience. We visited a church that was built by the local residents who donated whatever material they had at home to build it. It was gorgeous! We also visited a flea market where we did a little bartering for our souvenirs and then visited a fourth generation home where organic tequila is made. I am not one to drink tequila but this tequila is yummy! Nice and smooth:-)

During one of the evenings we did an excursion called “Rhythms of the Night” and I highly recommend this tour.  I would describe it as Mexico’s version of a luau- you take about an hour long boat ride, where you are served unlimited snacks and drinks,  to the cove of Las Caletas. You dine under the stars at your own private beachside table bathed in the soft glow of candles. After dinner you walk over to the theater and the show begins. The dancers tell the story of ancient civilization through movement and music. Take my word for it, you don’t want to miss this show!

When you are ready to plan your adventure to Puerto Vallarta let me know, I am happy to help!

 

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Client Review: Iberostar Paraiso Maya in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

It was great and we wouldn’t think twice about returning.

As a reminder, we were a group of 6 that ranged in age from 5 to 77.  Everyone was thrilled with the vacation.  Here is a quick summary:

  • We emailed in advance and were able to make room requests (ground floor) and secure dinner reservations for the first two nights prior to arriving (our room request was also honored)
  • The rooms are spacious and the beds are comfortable.  This is the only AI I have been to where the beds aren’t hard and generally miserable.
  • When we arrived we had fresh flowers in our rooms, a fruit tray, and (as returning guests) a bottle of tequila.  A few days in t-shirts we delivered to our room with the Iberostar brand and “We’re Back” imprinted on them.
  • We ate at the a la carte restaurants all seven nights.  When we arrived, the front desk concierge made our reservations for the five nights we weren’t able to make in advance.  Some or all of us dined at the Japanese, Steak House, Mexican, Seafood, Italian, French, and Gourmet restaurants. The French restaurant was the least favorite because of slow serve and too much air conditioning.  We ate at the seafood restaurant twice.  The first time the food tasted good but was served cold.  Only when prompted by the restaurant manager the next day did we mention this.  We didn’t complain.  The next time we were there he met us and bent over backwards to ensure we had great service and hot food.  In the morning we ate all of our breakfasts at La Marina.  The staff were great and brought me a piping hot cappuccino as soon as they saw me coming.
  • All the bartenders were great.  We enjoyed before and after dinner drinks and the bartenders quickly learned what we liked and mixed great drinks using premium brands (Bombay sapphire, Absolut, Remy Martin, Courvoisier, etc.).  Service around the pool and on the beach was great.  We brought insulated cups and never got attitude about filling them.
  • Housekeeping was fantastic.  They cleaned the rooms and refreshed towels twice a day.  This is the only AI I have ever been to where I don’t mind walking barefoot on the floor in my room.  There is never sand, grit or dirt.
  • We enjoyed the nightly shows and recommend them
  • Paige participated in Lucy’s Club (the kid’s program) on multiple occasions.  They seemed to be having so much fun that she asked to go.  She loved it!  One day she made tie-dyed t-shirts and one day dressed as a pirate and when on a treasure hunt.  At night Paige participated (and performed) in the 8:00 p.m. kids programs.
  • We never had trouble finding chairs by the pool or on the beach.  Also, while we had read that there was a lot of seaweed on the beach, that was not the case while we were there.
  • Dan and I got massages and enjoyed the spa services.  They are spendy … but a great way to relax on vacation.
  • I had read in advance that the hotel was pretty aggressive in marketing their new preferred guest program.  On our first day the main desk concierge tried to rope me in to the “presentation”.  She offered us a meal at The Grand and free massages.  I politely declined and made it clear that none of us wanted to spend 90 minutes of our vacation on the pitch.  That was the one and only time it was brought up.  No one else in our party was even approached.

We love this resort and hope to return soon.  This was the experience of all six in our party.  I will say that we tried to tip all staff generously.  However, I do not think this determined the level or quality of service we received.  There were others who tipped nothing and they appeared to be treated equally well.

The favorite thing about the trip was definitely the resort.  It is a 9 or 10 out of 10 in our book.

Thanks so much for your patience in helping us book this trip.  You are definitely my go to person.