Nevis – An Unspoiled Caribbean Gem

This is the time of the year that many people head south to escape the worst that Minnesota’s winter can throw at us.  While Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic remain the most popular destinations for Minnesotans heading to the Caribbean, they are starting to suffer from the problems of overtourism and crowds.  For people seeking a more serene, authentic experience, the good news is that there are lots of excellent options available.  The island of Nevis, part of the southern Caribbean nation of St. Kitts & Nevis, is a perfect example.

Located about a five hour flight from Minneapolis, Nevis is a small, unspoiled, relaxing island of approximately 36 square miles and about 10,000 residents.  Non-stop flights to the neighboring island of St. Kitts are available every Saturday during the winter/spring season, or daily connecting flights are available through Miami.  From the St. Kitts airport, it is 30 minute transfer by taxi and water taxi to Nevis, and you’ll truly feel your stresses and worries vanish as you make your way to the island.

Visitors to Nevis will find high quality, luxurious accommodations scattered throughout the island. For the luxury-minded traveler, there is a stunning Four Seasons Resort located on a beautiful stretch of beach, boasting a Robert Trent Jones II golf course, a comprehensive family program (including babysitting service), and the top notch service you’d expect from Four Seasons. 

Other accommodations are equally luxurious, yet offer a far more intimate setting.  The Montpelier Plantation and Nisbet Plantation resorts are two of my favorites, each offering a distinctive island experience paired with superb cuisine.  Each occupies the site of a former sugar plantation, with charming accommodations in a highly private, uncrowded setting.  I am reliably informed that the rum punch served at Montpelier Plantation is the best in the Caribbean, and I can say from personal experience that the Johnny Cakes (similar to a fried pancake) at Nisbet Planation are outstanding!

There are no all-inclusive resorts on the islands, which encourages guests to leave the property and discover authentic regional cuisine in a variety of nice restaurants, none of which is more than a 20 minute drive from the resort.  Nevis boasts some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean, many offering open air or even beachfront dining.  The annual Nevis Mango and Food Festival, held in July of each year, brings chefs from around the world to compete in a series of competitions designed to showcase local food and produce.

Pleasant beaches surround the island, offering relaxation or a chance to go for a swim.  Snorkeling, scuba diving, and other water sports are readily available throughout the island.  For the active traveler, biking around the island can make for an enjoyable day.  Fancy a bit of cricket?  The island’s well-regarded home team hosts matches throughout much of the year.  Looking for a unique destination for a wedding or honeymoon?  Nevis offers some very romantic options.

Nevis is also an island rich in history.  The American founding father Alexander Hamilton was born on the island, and his birthplace is a museum that doubles as the island’s local parliament assembly.  The capital, Charlestown, is a charming mélange of Georgian English architecture mixed with bright Caribbean colors.  Elsewhere on the island, remnants of the once-dominant sugar industry can be seen, offering insight into Nevis’ unique history. 

The island’s residents, called Nevians, are friendly and welcoming, and very eager to share their special island with visitors.  If you’re looking for a unique destination to visit next winter, you’ll definitely want to put the island of Nevis on your list of places to go!

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!

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