Comparing All-Inclusive VS European Plan Resorts


When you think of heading on a warm weather escape you probably think all-inclusive—all meals and drinks included in your package! Most travelers go with this option as it takes away the stress of trying to figure out where to eat, wondering if the food is safe and what the cost will be. If you’re planning a destination weddings, an all-inclusive resort may be your best choice, it makes it easier for your guests that are not well traveled or adventurous. Most all-inclusive resorts in have many restaurant options to choose from. There are buffet style and specialty options, plus room service is typically included with all-inclusive plans.

European Plan

A European plan typically means that your accommodations only are included. You can sometimes find a rate that includes breakfast. If you choose this plan you will need to budget for tips, meals, drinks, activities and taxes. This is a good option for the more adventurous traveler, as they can get outside of the resort and explore the local cuisine. For your less experienced traveler this option may be more intimidating. You will pay room service as well.

Together let’s figure out what plan is right for you.

AM Resorts … No Wrist Bands, No Reservations and premium alcohol is included!

If these details matter to you on your all-inclusive vacations, AM Resorts is the company that provides these amenities at each of it’s resorts. With 41 luxury properties in 19 destinations, AM Resorts is embracing a competitive edge with its specialty catering to people of all ages.

There are 6 categories for AM Resorts that are designed to make everyone happy. All have usual amenities that not usual with other different companies.

  • Unlimited access to ala carte dining options, no reservations are required.
  • 24-hour room and concierge service
  • Pool and beach butlers
  • Daily refreshed mini bars
  • Daily activities and nightly entertainment
  • No wristbands


With all of these at all of the resorts, AM Resorts has an atmosphere to suit everyone.

Zoetry Wellness and Spa resorts: Treat your mind and body to slow down a little and take a minute to heal and be well. Zoetry is a premier spa resort that will capture your senses with healthy gourmet cuisine, relax your mind and body with specialized spa treatments and also provide the opportunity to experience ecotourism, arts and community stewardship activities.

Secrets Resorts and Spas: These upscale adults only properties provide world-class spas, gourmet international dining and beautifully appointed rooms provide a memorable experience for adults. 

Breathless is for the chic crowd that want to dress up and feel like you are out on thetown. Withthe younger, trendy themed adults only resort, luxury is combined with a nightlife atmosphere for great times for everyone!

Dreams is the resort where couples with children can come for a fun time. There is the explorer’s kid’s club, but there is also a teen club that provides supervised daytimeactivities and evening activities. Dreams is also a lovely setting for a wedding where the whole family is welcome.

Now is also for everyone in the family. While there are kids and teen club activities, Now properties focus on everything luxury for multi-generational families.

Sunscape Resorts and Spas is a high-energy, fun-filled designed getaway for friends and family alike. The price is nice, too.

With all resorts located on beautiful beach settings, AM Resorts let you pick your atmosphere, dine as you like and indulge without the tan line from a wristband. ENJOY!


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.

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of Rum!

What is my favorite ride at Disney World? Easy- Pirates of the Caribbean!! I can’t pinpoint what it is about this ride that makes it my favorite but it is a must do with every Disney visit.  You set sail on a voyage to a time when pirates ruled the high-seas and will escape through a shadowy grotto past the ghostly catacombs of fallen pirates. This ride is for everyone, any age and any height. There is one small drop down a waterfall towards the beginning of the ride so be prepared but after that just sit back, enjoy and sing along with the drunken buccaneers. Jack Sparrow pops up throughout the whole ride so be on the lookout, you just never know what he is going to be up to. When you are at Disney World next, head to Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom and try this ride out, you won’t be disappointed!!

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 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.


Punta Cana 2015 086


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

Dance15 076

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