Traveling Solo Brings Wonders of the World

It’s going to be a banner year for travel, according to a new survey of American consumers. That upswing includes people who will be traveling on their own.

Travel Leaders Group polled more than 3,500 people, and 96 percent indicated that they intend to take a trip for vacation in 2019, with 76 percent planning at least two or more leisure trips. And 36 percent say that their travels, at least in part, will involve solo trips.

Solo travel isn’t a one-size-fits-all option, and travel advisors work with clients to tailor a trip that meets their needs. According to the survey, 40 percent of solo travelers want to travel and explore independently, while 25 percent prefer to be part of an organized group journey. Thirty-five percent enjoy participating in one or more guided tours.

The top five U.S. destinations for solo travelers in 2019 are Florida, California, Hawaii, New York and Alaska. The top five international destinations are Western Europe, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom/Ireland, Eastern Europe and Australia.

Each of those destinations offers opportunities for solo travelers no matter what their style.

Travelers who want to explore on their own, and love urban spaces, will find lots of interesting neighborhoods in cities like New York, London and San Francisco. New York’s artsy Greenwich Village, San Francisco’s Italian North Beach and London’s trendy Notting Hill are just a few examples of popular places where you can browse in shops or relax in a café like a local.

Solo travelers who love to explore a culture through its cuisine, Italy is, obviously, a great place to indulge in everything from gelato to pasta to wine. But there are other destinations that many might not think about for a wine trip, like Australia. The country has more than 60 designated wine regions and almost every city there has an annual festival, like the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, March 8-24, with more than 200 events.

Art-loving solo travelers can admire the masterpieces in Western Europe’s museums at their own pace. This year’s highlights include an exhibit on designer Christian Dior, opening in February at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. In Paris, the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa, will pay tribute to Leonardo da Vinci on the 500th anniversary of his death, beginning in October.

 

For solo travelers who love the outdoors, plan a hiking trip in a national park, like Yosemite, in northern California. It’s easier than you think to find your own little spot to commune with nature. When you don’t want to be on your own, national parks offer lots of activities, such as photography walks and strolls with a naturalist.

If you’re a solo traveler who wants the comfort and camaraderie of a group journey, cruises are a good option, whether it’s the sunny Caribbean or breathtaking Alaska. In addition to voyages geared toward singles, some cruise ships have studios that are designed and priced for solo travelers.

For help planning a solo trip, contact us today.

Top Up and Coming Vacation Destinations

If you’re thinking about a different vacation experience beyond the usual destinations, consider some of the places that travel advisors have picked as the top up-and-coming international destinations.

Iceland is the top up-and-coming spot in Europe, according to the results of a survey of 1,000 North American travel advisors conducted by Travel Leaders Group as part of its annual trends survey. Peru topped the list for locations in Central and South America, with Thailand number one for Asia/Southeast Asia and Tahiti coming in at the top for the Pacific region.

For travelers who want to explore nature, Iceland offers a breathtaking landscape of mountains and glaciers, waterfalls and black-sand beaches. Enjoy a relaxing dip in the waters of the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa that’s just 40 minutes away from the lively capital of Reykjavik. Landmannalaugar National Park, in southern Iceland, is known for its hot springs and hiking trails. Take a tour from Reykjavik to see the northern lights, with September to April the optimal months for this dazzling nighttime display. Summertime, from April to September, is the best time for a whale-watching voyage off of Iceland’s coast.

Thailand draws travelers with its tropical beaches, ornate temples and ancient ruins. In Bangkok, the Wat Pho temple complex is known for its large collection of Buddhist images. You can spend all day browsing at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, with thousands of booths selling items from all over the country. The 18th-century Grand Palace complex, in the heart of the city, is a must for any first-time visitor. After a few days in Bangkok, head to one of Thailand’s beach resorts. Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island, offers lots to do in addition to sunbathing. Walk through the night market at Fisherman’s Village, go snorkeling at the Ang Thong National Marine Park and take a cooking class at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts.

The South American country of Peru is a natural destination for travelers interested in ancient history. You’ll want to visit the spectacular ruins of Machu Picchu, a 15th-century citadel built by the Incas high in the Andes Mountains. In Lima, the capital, learn about Peru’s history by visiting Museo Larco, with its collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. Spend some time in the upscale Miraflores District, home to shops, bars and restaurants. Take a walk along the Parque del Amor, known for its colorful mosaics, flowers and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.

Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, offering visitors both a relaxing beach vacation and plenty of water-based activities. You can relax and bask in the sunshine as well as enjoy swimming, snorkeling and surfing. Head to La Plage de Maui, on the island’s southern shore, for soft white-sand beaches and calm, clear water. Papeete, the capital, is a center for dining, nightlife and local crafts. Accommodations in Tahiti include overwater bungalows, with a staircase that will take you right to the ocean.

For help planning a trip to an up-and-coming destination, contact us.

Family Spring Break Planning Tips

The warm glow from a family vacation lasts long after you’ve returned home. With spring break just around the corner, here are some tips for planning a fun and memorable getaway with the kids.

First, decide what type of vacation you want to take. You’ll have lots of company if you’re traveling during a school vacation week, so start planning early and take advantage of the expertise provided by a travel advisor from Travel Leaders Group.

For example, if you’re thinking about Disney World, let your travel advisor book your stay at a Disney resort. It’ll give your family perks like the ability to get earlier access to the most popular rides. If a cruise is on your vacation bucket list, your travel advisor can help you decide which excursions to go on as a family, and which ones you may want to skip so that you can enjoy the ship at a time when there are fewer people onboard. Mexico and the Caribbean have excellent choices for all-inclusive resorts that offer amenities for the whole family, from kids’ clubs and waterparks to spas for the adults. Your travel advisor can help you explore all the options.

Once you’ve booked your trip, it’s time to get down to packing.

If you’re flying to your vacation, space in overhead bins is likely to be at a premium. Make sure that your luggage meets the airline’s size and weight restrictions for both carry-ons and checked baggage. Make color photocopies and digital copies of important travel documents, including your passport, the front and back of credit cards and health insurance information for you and your children. If you’re traveling internationally, bring a copy of your children’s immunization records. For safekeeping, pack all copies in a separate location from your identification.

The Transportation Security Administration allows each passenger one quart-sized bag of liquids and gels that are 3.4 ounces or smaller. But medications and certain items for children are an exception to the 3-ounce rule. Infant formula, breast milk and juices for infants and toddlers, as well as ice packs to keep them cool, are allowed through airport security checkpoints in higher, yet reasonable quantities. Just make sure you keep them separate from the items in your one-quart bag.

When traveling with young children, make sure they’re wearing comfortable clothing. If your child is young enough, consider giving him or her a ride to the security checkpoint and gate in a stroller. It’ll help keep them in tow and keep your stress level low.

Children age 12 and younger never have to remove their shoes or lightweight jackets at airport security, and they don’t need their own TSA Precheck boarding pass. They can go through the TSA Precheck with any qualified adult with whom they’re traveling. If you’re traveling outside the United States, children under 18 don’t need to get their own Global Entry, as long as they’re with a parent or legal guardian.

For help planning a family vacation, contact us today!

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.

Having a Destination Wedding? Should you pick up the tab for the wedding party?

When it comes to destination weddings, the tricky part is convincing your friends and family to spend a bunch of their OWN money to come to YOUR wedding. It’s unusual for the bride and groom to pick up the tab for their wedding party’s travel arrangements, but you may want to consider spending some extra dough to enhance the wedding party, and the other guest’s experience.

A great way to do this is to host a welcome reception, pay for a group activity (such as a group sailing excursion or city tour), pay for a bachelor/bachelorette party outing while in destination, or even have a nice post-wedding brunch the morning after the big event.

One thing to note, if the cost of your destination wedding makes it impossible for your best friend/maid of honor to attend, you may want to consider paying for or at least supplementing her travel costs.

The wedding couple should also consider putting together gift bags for their guests with destination themed goodies and keepsakes. Beach bags, beach towels, picture frames, sun block, sun visors etc. There are many companies that will personalize a large variety of goodies to hand out.

In conclusion, there is typically not an expectation to pay for your guests travel expenses, however I don’t know your guests or your finances (Hahaha). Ultimately, do what’s best for you and your wedding party!

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!!

Raving Review on a Hawaiian Family Getaway

hawaii-turtleI just wanted to let you know you did a great job for us in Hawaii.  We had a blast!  Mike’s flights worked out great and the timing of our flights meshing with theirs couldn’t have been better.  Mike and his family had a great time at the Sheraton in Kona and Mike got a chance to go night diving.  He said it was the experience of a lifetime.  We had lots of fun with the grandkids on Kauai and Maui.  Brecken (age 5) snorkeled like a pro without any instruction.  We found the best coral we have ever seen anywhere and huge schools of beautiful fish when we snorkeled off the beach in front of the Westin Ocean Villas (beyond the black rock) on Kaanapali and would recommend it to anyone.  It was not at all crowded, unlike the black rock (Sheraton) and the surf was more gentle too.  Brecken and Mike also took surf lessons on Maui from Maui Surfer Girls and they were excellent.  Brecken had a private 2 hour lesson and after a little practice on land went out on her own board with the instructor on a separate board and got right up all by herself.  She loved it.  When she got tired, the instructor put her on a board with her and the instructor caught the wave and stayed down and let Brecken stand up and ride the wave in.  We have a picture of Brecken and Mike riding a wave side by side.

Hawaii

Our “R and R” time in Honolulu after we sent the kids back home went really well too.  The Hotel Renew was a perfect choice for us although I would give people a little more heads up on how to just double park out front on the street to check in since there is no real place to pull in.  The staff was very helpful and friendly, the room good and the location was perfect for us.  We ate at some “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”  places around the island and actually spent most of our time away from Honolulu seeing some of the towns and beaches we haven’t been to before.  We ate at Nicos on Pier 38 just before boarding out flight back home.  A great ending for a great vacation.

 

Thanks for all your help with this adventure and we look forward to your help with the next one.

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: 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.

 

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.

Mandy Visits Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach

The Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach resort in Cabo San Lucas is gorgeous. It is a very large property and very spread out but there are golf carts running nonstop to take you where you want to go. This hotel has more of a Mexican feel to it, different from the contemporary resorts that are becoming more common. The Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach resort is not within walking distance of town so you would need to take a taxi if you wanted to check out exciting Cabo. There is a sky pool at this resort with absolutely amazing views and it would be perfect for a private party. There is also a chapel where you could have a legal wedding ceremony.

Rooms- very spacious with full kitchens

Beach- located on a private beach but it is not swimmable. However, you can take a courtesy shuttle to nearby Medano beach which is one of the best swimmable beaches in Los Cabos.

Overall impression- beautiful, large property, amazing views

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Mandy Visits Breathless Cabo San Lucas

Breathless is new to Cabo San Lucas and is located on Medano beach which is the safest swimmable beach in Cabo. You are also just steps away from the infamous Cabo San Lucas nightlife, restaurants and shops. All suites have private balconies with ocean or marina views. Breathless is more of a “party” hotel and what I like about it is that it is two separate buildings, one for the active nightlife and the other, quieter one, for sleeping. There is no swim up bar at this hotel but the infinity pool overlooking the ocean is gorgeous.

Rooms- if you have a room with a king bed it is positioned towards the balcony so the first thing you see when you wake up is the water. The rooms also have tablets that allow you to order room service and watch Netflix if you have an account but the tablets must stay in the room. All rooms also offer free Wi-Fi.

I was not able to check out any of the restaurants but there are 8 of them along with 4 bars/loungers.

Overall impression- clean, great location, friendly staff.

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Mandy Visits Secrets Puerto Los Cabos

Cabo San Lucas…the first word that comes to mind is Wow! This destination is amazing and I cannot wait to go back. Where else can you find the desert, the mountains and the ocean? I wasn’t sure what to expect being there was a hurricane not so long ago but I saw no signs of any damage. All of the hotels I toured were up and running as if nothing happened. What did I love most about this destination? The weather for starters- Cabo has 350 days of sunshine and very little humidity. Very little bugs- because it is a desert there are very few bugs. I saw no mosquitos the whole 4 days I was there. The water- it is such a pretty teal color and I wasn’t expecting that so it was a pleasant surprise.

While I was in Cabo I stayed at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos. This resort is amazing! It is adults only so if you are looking to get away for some “grown up” time I would highly recommend this resort. The beach is not swimmable due to the undertow but I loved sitting on my balcony and listening to the waves crash while sipping my morning coffee. Because I had small children at home I loved the unlimited connectivity feature of this hotel. All of my calls home were free of charge as was the Wi-Fi in my hotel room.  The resort is not within walking distance to town so if you wanted to check out Cabo Wabo you would need to take a taxi.

My room was amazing with a spectacular view from my balcony. Full ocean view and I could hear the waves crashing against the shore.

Because I toured many different hotels while in Cabo I wasn’t able to try out all of the restaurants at the resort but I did eat at Himitsu. This is an Asian restaurant with Teppanyaki tables available upon request and the food was great. The chef puts on a nice little show while preparing your dinner, all with a smile on their face.

Overall impression of this resort- clean, comfortable, very friendly staff.

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