Zika-Free Honeymoons

Zika-free Honeymoon Destinations

Who doesn’t love a wedding? Friends and family come together to celebrate love, have a feast and dance late into the night. But if you’re the bride or groom, just making it to your big day involves a lot of planning and stress. You have to pare down that guest list and make sure you’re having the right people sit together for dinner. All those little touches throughout the night that wow your guests don’t just happen. There’s a lot of work that goes into it.

So it’s no wonder that after the ceremony and reception are over, you want to just hit the beach for a week and relax on an island somewhere with your new spouse. Of course, finding the right place for your honeymoon doesn’t just happen on its own, either. And with the spread of the Zika virus, even finding somewhere to relax has gotten more stressful for honeymooners who want to start families soon. Fortunately, there are still quite a few islands where you can spend a worry-free vacation that are Zika-free.

Bermuda

 

 

Thanks to its unique position in the Atlantic off the East Coast of the U.S., Bermuda has managed avoid the spread of Zika that has reached many Caribbean islands. Though it’s a bit too far north to be a year-round beach destination, high temperatures average between 75 and 85 degrees from May through November. The beaches are gorgeous, flecked with pink sand, and there’s no shortage of water-based activities, including caves and shipwrecks to explore.

 

Hawaii

 

 

You don’t even need passports for this one. With the variety of islands, you can make your honeymoon as active or slow-paced as you want. With an abundance of interisland flights that are less than an hour from takeoff to landing, you can island-hop with ease. So if you absolutely have to visit Pearl Harbor but then you want to get as far away from a city as you can, fly into Honolulu and spend a night there before heading out to one of the quieter Neighbor Islands.

 

French Polynesia

 

 

Lagoons and mountains and endless beauty pretty much sum it up. Just saying the names of some of the islands -- Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea -- conjures up images of tranquility. These islands were tailor-made for getting away from it all. The protected lagoons make for calm, clear waters that wash your cares away and make you forgot all about your embarrassing cousin who tried to ruin the reception. One other bonus: The French brought their cooking techniques with them when they came to the Pacific.

 

Seychelles

 

 

About 1,000 miles off the east coast of Kenya, the Seychelles pair well with a safari. The beaches are spectacular, the weather is consistently warm year-round and the locals love welcoming visitors. You’ll see plenty of things, including several bird species, you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. If you opt for cruising around the Seychelles, Virtuoso-preferred Crystal Cruises has a submersible available so you can even see things underwater you won’t see anywhere else on Earth.

 

Maldives

 

 

Southwest of India, the Maldives consist of nearly 1,200 islands that collectively form the lowest-lying country in the world. The highest point is less than 10 feet, and white-sand beaches make up a significant portion of the topography of the islands, each with its own coral reef. While the resorts (including 10 that are Virtuoso-preferred) are designed with sustainability in mind, rising sea levels threaten to erase the Maldives from the map. So, unfortunately, you may not have many more opportunities to visit this idyllic paradise.

Hawaii: Which island is best for you?

It’s the only U.S. state in the tropics, the most remote island chain in the world and actually made up of more than 100 islands. You can go SCUBA diving well below sea level and go to the top of what is technically the world’s tallest mountain (though most of it is underwater). There are great beaches and great golf courses everywhere, and the weather is just about perfect year-round. No matter how you slice it, Hawaii is pretty awesome. But which island is best for you? Off the eight main islands, Kaho‘olawe is uninhabited, Ni‘ihau is off limits non-Native Hawaiians and Moloka‘i has limited options for accommodations. That leaves five islands that vacationers commonly seek out, each with something unique in store.

Hawai‘i, “The Big Island”

By far the largest of the islands, Hawai‘i is made up of five volcanoes and could fit the rest of the islands inside it with room to spare. With Kilauea volcano erupting continuously since 1983 and occasional snow atop Mauna Kea, it is truly a land of fire and ice. Most of the resorts (including Virtuoso-preferred Four Season Hualalai, Fairmont Orchid, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Mauna Lani Bay) are along the Kohala Coast on the western, leeward side of the island, which gets only a few inches of rain year.

The eastern half of the island features rain forest, waterfalls, black sand beaches and Kilauea, where you can hike to flowing lava or through an old lava tube. On the bottom is South Point, the southernmost point in the U.S., and not far away is Papakolea, one of four green sand beaches in the world. In the north is a string of valleys bookended by the gorgeous Pololu and Waipi‘o valleys. On the west side, you can dive with manta rays and snorkel in the amazingly clear Kealakekua Bay. In the middle is the crowning jewel, Mauna Kea. With a summit 13,796 feet above sea level, it is above 40 percent of the earth’s atmosphere, making stargazing a must. Add another 20,000 feet of Mauna Kea below sea level, and it beats Everest by a few thousand feet.

Maui, “The Valley Isle”

There is a saying in Hawaiian, Maui no ka‘oi, “Maui is the best.” With the amount of activities packed into the island, it’s hard to argue. You can take the Road to Hana, one of the most scenic drives in the world, and go a little bit farther than Hana to the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe‘o Gulch. You can watch the sunrise at 10,000 feet atop Haleakala and bike down (for maximum enjoyment, go early in your trip before your body adjusts to the time difference). Explore the paniolo (“cowboy”) town of Makawao or take a tour of Kula Lavender Farm.

For more action, Maui has some spectacular hikes in ‘Iao Valley, which separates the western and eastern parts of the island, and in the rainforest along the Hana Highway. Kihei and Lahaina are great spots for novice surfers, and Trilogy has great snorkeling tours. Discover Molokini, visiting Molokini Crater just offshore, and the full-day Discover Lanai are favorites. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time for a luau. Old Lahaina Luau, great for families, and Feast at Lele are two of the best in the islands. The main resort area are Kapalua in the west (home to Virtuoso-preferred Montage Kapalua Bay and the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua) and Wailea in the south (where you’ll find Virtuoso-preferred Andaz Maui, the Fairmont Kea Lani and Four Seasons Resort Maui).

Lana‘i, “The Pineapple Isle”

Part of Maui Nui (“Greater Maui”) before a sea level rise a couple hundred thousand years ago and after that a pineapple plantation, Lana‘i is now 97 percent privately owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. As evidenced by the Trilogy tour from Maui, the snorkeling around Lana ‘i is world-class. With a population of just a few thousand, Lana‘i is a place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. The Virtuoso-preferred Four Seasons Resort Lana‘i and Lodge at Koele (once it reopens after renovation) are outstanding places to do just that. Activities include horseback riding, a 4x4 Jeep outing, clay shooting and cave diving.

O‘ahu, “The Gathering Place”

Home to about two thirds of the state’s population and the city of Honolulu, O‘ahu is not the place to go if you’re looking to get away from it all. If you’re looking for high-end shopping and dining, look no farther than Waikiki. You can’t go without visiting Pearl Harbor, but be sure to get tickets well in advance to avoid having to line up at 6 a.m. for them. The snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is excellent, but get there early before the parking lot fills up, or take a tour with pickup at your Waikiki hotel (Halekulani, The Royal Hawaiian and the MODERN Honolulu are Virtuoso-preferred). Learn to surf or just people-watch at Waikiki Beach. To see the pros on the big waves, head up to the North Shore, a 7-mile stretch that includes the world-famous Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach (the name says it all).

That isn’t to say you can’t find some peace and quiet. Virtuoso-preferred Four Seasons Resort at Ko Olina and The Kahala offer respite off the beaten track. The Byodo-In Temple is a replica of a thousand-year-old Buddhist temple in Japan and a good place to calm the mind. Just outside the urban center, there are great hikes at Diamond Head and the Makapuu Lighthouse trails.

Kaua‘i, “The Garden Isle”

What O‘ahu may lack in tranquility, Kaua‘i more than makes up for. The rainiest of the main islands, Kaua‘i is quite rural and its main attractions are natural phenomena. The middle of the island is covered by Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” going to depths of about 3,000 feet. In the northwest, the Na Pali Coast juts out of the ocean, its cliffs resembling the ridged cone of a citrus juicer. These features make Kaua‘i the best island for a helicopter tour that allows you to take in the full scope of its beauty. While the rain can put a damper on some days, without it you wouldn’t be able to go tubing through the irrigation system of a former sugar plantation or kayak down the Wailua River.

Not far from Na Pali is the Virtuoso-preferred and stunning St. Regis Princeville. If you prefer to set up shop on the sunnier south shore, the Virtuoso-preferred Grand Hyatt Kauai has lush grounds and a great stretch of beach and proximity to Poipu Beach Park, considered one of America’s best beaches.

So where to travel next?

Off the beaten path travel experiences

So you’ve been up to Machu Picchu, seen all of the big five on safari. You’ve marveled at the beauty of Lake Louise and split a week between London and Paris. You’ve lived out all your Hobbit-related fantasies in New Zealand and been to every cat café in Japan. Yet, you still can’t shake this wanderlust. You need a new adventure, but where haven’t you been yet? Consider these off-the-beaten path destinations for each continent (except Antarctica; you should probably stick to the beaten path there).

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South America: Uruguay

Tucked between much larger neighbors Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is a haven of estancias keeping gaucho culture alive and long-stretching beaches around Punta del Este, where the Atlantic and the Rio de la Plata meet. Uruguayans consume more meat per capita than the Argentines and produce plenty of wine to pair with it. Montevideo is the southernmost capital in the Americas -- just edging out Buenos Aires -- and juxtaposes colonial architecture with modern nightlife, offering you an opportunity to get familiar with the unique Uruguayan take on the tango. The three Virtuoso-preferred hotels -- Carmelo Resort & Spa, Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco & Spa, and Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio -- are in different areas, forming the perfect trio to explore the country.

Africa: Uganda

 

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For those who have seen all there is to see on safari, Uganda offers something new: gorilla trekking. Journey into the ominously named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and spot these massive creatures in their natural habitat. The wonders of the animal kingdom continue in Kibale National Park, where chimpanzees roam from tree to tree, and Queen Elizabeth National Park, where it’s lions that are climbing the trees. Birders can spot more than 400 unique species. The Nile, the world’s longest river, has its source near Jinja, flowing north out of Lake Victoria.

Asia: Myanmar

Captivatingly beautiful, Myanmar is best experienced on a cruise along the Irrawaddy River. Itineraries begin and end in the capital, Yangon, where Virtuoso-preferred Belmond Governor’s Residence and The Strand Yangon are wonderful places to spend extra time before or after your cruise. Virtuoso-preferred cruise line Avalon Waterways embarks in Bagan, where you can watch the sunrise over thousands of temples and pagodas or take a hot-air balloon ride over them. You’ll continue upriver through experience local life in places such as Amarapura and Mandalay before debarking in Bhamo, where you’ll have a trishaw tour before flying back to Yangon.

Australia: Tasmania

Being isolated from the rest of the world gave rise to Australia’s unique wildlife, landscapes and indigenous cultures. So imagine how different Tasmania, separated from the Australian mainland for thousands of years, is from what you’re used to. Tasmanian devils, glow worms and echidnas, oh my! Virtuoso-preferred Islington Hotel is a great base for exploring the capital, Hobart, home to the Museum of Old and New Art, described by owner David Walsh as a “subversive adult Disneyland.” Soak up the natural beauty at your own pace during a stay at Virtuoso-preferred Saffire Freycinet on the island’s east coast with an oyster breakfast knee-deep in an estuary or canoeing with a guide at the mouth of the Moulting Lagoo.

Cuba May 2017

In May, I had the good fortune to travel to Cuba with International Expeditions, a tour company that offers cultural tours of Cuba.   I expected ten days of old cars, rice & beans and rain every day. Was I in for a big surprise!

The afternoon before our departure for Cuba, our group of twelve met in Miami where we were introduced to Angel, our expedition leader. We were briefed on what to expect during our trip. We completed the paperwork for our visas and had plenty of time to ask questions. We were provided a light dinner and our group had a chance for introductions and getting to know each other a bit.

The next morning, following breakfast at the hotel, we boarded a bus for the airport where we were very efficiently guided through our visa processing and check-in for our flight to Cienfuegos, Cuba. Just a few minutes before our scheduled landing we were informed that due to severe weather in Cienfuegos, we were being forced to return to Miami! We sat on the plane in Miami for a little under an hour and headed back to Cienfuegos, arriving about three hours after our originally scheduled time. We were met by our Cuban guide, Gustavo (Gus), who would remain with us for the rest of our trip. During the short bus ride to the Hotel La Union Gus gave us a little information about what to expect the following day. Because it was getting a little late, he also took our dinner orders, which he phoned in to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel was very quick and efficient, as it would be at each hotel during our trip.

Our first morning in Cuba we went for a walk through the areas around the hotel. We had a chance to visit a farmers market where vendors were offering a variety of fruits, vegetables and meats. While there were a few of Cuba’s famous classic American cars in the area, the more common modes of transportation seemed to be bicycles, horse-drawn carriages and beat-up, old Russian cars.

Our first day continued with a stroll around public squares in a more modern section of Cienfuegos where our guide, Gustavo, explained the history behind many of the buildings, statues and monuments. This was followed by a wonderful private performance by a local professional choir group. Their talent and vocal range was truly outstanding; everyone in our group seemed very impressed! Later in the day, on our way to Trinidad, we visited an old sugar plantation originally owned by Edwin Atkins, a wealthy businessman from Massachusetts. We were given a short tour by the woman in charge of a soon-to-begin restoration project. She also runs the village elementary school located on the same property. We continued on to Trinidad where we visited a well-known pottery studio owned by the Santander family. We also had a chance for Gustavo to take us a walking tour of some areas in Trinidad.

All this was during our first day in Cuba!

To be continued…

7 Fun Facts About Ireland

Ireland is a beautiful, lush, and lively place to visit! As we celebrate St. Patrick's Day in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, I wanted to share some fun facts about The Emerald Isle, courtesy of Diamonds In The Rough Golf.

Ireland Fun Facts

1. The three most famous symbols of Ireland are the green Shamrock, the harp, and the Celtic cross.

2. The ancestral language of Irish people is Irish Gaelic.

3. Nowadays, 1.6 million people claim a self-reported competence in Irish, but only 380,000 fluent speakers remain. Many Irish family names start with "Mac_" or "O'_", which means, respectively, "son of _" and "grandson of _" in Gaelic.

4. Ireland's oldest pub is Sean's Bar in Athlone. It was founded some 900 years ago.

5. The Irish consume in average 131.1 liters of beer per year - the 2nd highest per-capita consumption after the Czech Republic.

6. Famous Irish breweries include Guinness, Smithwicks (Kilkenny), and Harp Lager. Kilbrittain Castle, County Cork, is the oldest inhabited castle in Ireland. It is thought to have been built by the O'Mahony Clan circa 1035.

7. The Woodenbridge Hotel which opened in 1608, is the oldest hotel in Ireland. It is located in the Vale of Avoca, County Wicklow.

Bridal Shows and Honeymoons Plus Try VirtualHoneymoon!

In the wedding industry we have what is known as the " bridal season." This is the timeframe where many young ladies receive engagement rings from Christmas to New Year's to Valentine's Day. This is also the time of year that you'll find these ladies going to bridal shows to learn more about the services of local wedding professionals and what they have to offer.

At a bridal show you can meet with wedding photographers, florists, bakers, linen supply companies, party favor vendors, DJ's, invitation representatives, photo booth rental companies, ice sculpturers, representatives for wedding reception locations, hair and makeup artists, wedding gown and tuxedos rental companies as well as a honeymoon travel advisor!  

Just about anyplace in the world can be made into a honeymoon! Some couples prefer to travel and explore exotic lands, while others want to relax, sun themselves, and enjoy some fun activities. Most popular honeymoon destinations from New England are: Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Mexico.  Exotic destinations are Tahiti, Hawaii, and St Lucia.  And other festinating spots are Alaska, Iceland, Costa Rica, Italy and Greece.

Where is your dream honeymoon location?  Have fun with this Virtual Honeymoon Tool!

7 Tips For Traveling With Kids

Traveling with your children is a wonderful opportunity to share an experience, explore and learn about new places, and just spend some time together. Now that school's out for the summer this is a great - but prime - time to travel and vacation. 

Before you book your flights, consider these tips for making your summer travel fun for you and your kids.

1. If you have older kids, let them help plan the trip. Talk about places they might want to go, activities they might want to try, and sights they want to see! You're much less likely to have a moody child if they've helped pick out the tours or activities on the itinerary.

2. Bring entertainment for the travel. This is the time to loosen any restrictions you have on screen time. Watching a movie on the plan with a tablet and headphones is a great way to make the time pass and reduce "when are we going to get there" conversations. Choose headphones made specifically for kids as they have volume controls that don't allow the volume to get dangerously high.

3. Consider all-inclusive resorts. Most all-inclusive packages include meals, drinks, snacks, and sports packages. This can be really helpful when you have kids in your group.

4. Look for hotels or resorts with specific kid packages. Many hotels and resorts will have a kid center or kid's activity zone that may include babysitting, games, and other recreational activities so you can take a snorkeling lesson while your child is safe and having fun.

5. Bring children's medicine. It's a good idea to bring your own children's Tylenol, cough medicine, and antacid. If they end up with a fever, cough, painful scrape, or upset stomach you don't want to risk trying to dose down on an adult medication. This also includes sunscreen and bug spray. 

6. If you're traveling internationally, plan ahead with passports, which can take up to three months. Remember that children's passports expire in five years. It can be stressful and expensive trying to expedite a forgotten passport.

7. Try some new things and keep some things familiar. It's exciting and fun to try new cuisines and new activities but sometimes a familiar meal and a low-key afternoon help to rejuvenate before the next adventure.

Whether you're looking for a beach vacation, a cruise, or a DisneyWorld  trip, I can help you plan a perfect kid-friendly get-away! 

Why Jamaica?

Looking to plan your next vacation or destination wedding and can't decide on a location? Jamaica is a fabulous option to consider! Why Jamaica? Here are 8 reasons:

1. Beautiful Beaches for Miles

Home to some of the Caribbean’s most impressive beaches, Jamaica offers a vast expanse of spectacular white sands. With breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, mountains, and crystal blue waters, the beaches are the perfect place to relax on vacation. Consider Whitehouse, & Montego Bay as wonderful beaches to enjoy. Or the famous Seven Mile Beach with amazing sunsets!

beaches in Jamaica

2. Tropical Climate & Weather

If you like tropical weather, then Jamaica is for you. Jamaica is a tropical destination where you can put on a bathing suit and enjoy an island with an average temperature of 81˚ all year round!  

3. Enjoy Local Cuisine

Jamaica is well known for its exotic and locally sourced food. You may have heard of jerk-seasoned dishes, which is native to Jamaica. And while you're here you have to try the national dish of Ackee and Saltfish, a locally grown fruit sautéed and served with onions, peppers, tomatoes and salt cod. Delicious!

4. Perfect for Nature Lovers

If you love to experience nature, you'll be delighted with the new experiences and adventures to take in while visiting Jamaica. Known for their exotic wildlife, the area bird species and flora will astound you. And if you dream of swimming with the dolphins, you can in Ocho Rios!

Jamaican sunset

5. All-Inclusive Resorts Abound

The easiest and greatest way to experience Jamaica is with an all-inclusive resort. Vacation packages with all amenities and activities included give you the freedom to immerse yourself in the culture and island while on a refreshing travel. Whether you're traveling on a budget or searching for the luxurious side of the island, you're sure to find an all-inclusive package that fits your needs.

6. Child Friendly Resorts & Activities

Traveling families know the importance of making sure children can and will enjoy the vacation just as much as the adults do! That being said, the adults need to have some fun themselves, too.

Many resorts in Jamaica offer childcare for the days and nights when parents need a little alone time. Don’t worry about dreary childcare in a room filled only with crayons and paper. Kids are on vacation too, and you want to make sure it stays that way!

7. An Island Rich in Culture

Still asking yourself “why visit Jamaica?” Jamaica has a proud and astounding culture, embracing the land and the lifestyles they lead. One of the greatest aspects of Jamaica’s culture is the friendly and welcoming nature of the locals. You won’t feel like a stranger when you arrive at the island; the locals will welcome you with warm hearts. Visit the island with a schedule a tour, and don't miss out on the Bob Marley House in Nine Mile.

8. Destination Weddings

It's easy to have a destination wedding on a friendly island with no blood tests required, where you only have to arrive 2 days prior to the ceremony, and with so many resorts to chose. From large all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels to villas, your destination wedding in Jamaica will never be forgotten.

destination wedding in Jamaica

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by Planning a Trip to Ireland

Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day by Planning a Trip to Ireland!

What better way to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day than to plan a trip to Ireland? Ireland is a warm and inviting country full of emerald green pastures, friendly folks, plenty of beer pints and is a wonderful place to make memories.

Ireland is an excellent choice for couples, families, or groups of friends looking for adventure. The members of your party will play a part in determining where to go and how you want to see this beautiful country. You may want to drive yourself with a self-guided vacation or select a stress-free escorted motor coach tour with C.I.E. Tours International. You might choose to stay in a bed and breakfast, castles or manor houses, or different hotels. Many people choose to spend one or two nights in one place before moving on to another in order to travel around the country and see as much as they can. The type of trip and length of stay that you're planning will help determine the best places for you to stay.

There are so many amazing sites to see in Ireland: The Blarney Stone, Ring of Kerry, Dingle, The Cliffs of Moher, Dublin, Giants Causeway. You probably won't be able to see everything in just one trip, but building the right itinerary will allow you to see the places that are most important to you without being exhausted and missing out on what Ireland has to offer. The best landmarks and sites are hidden from the main tourist routes, so let's work together to plan the right itinerary!

Maybe you have ancestors from Ireland and want to reconnect the past to the present; maybe you're a Game of Thrones fan and want to see the heart of the Seven Kingdoms, the wicked Lannisters, and the honorable Starks; or maybe you just want want to raise a pint in honor of Saint Patrick. Whatever the reason, Ireland is a wonderful place to plan your next trip.

Our mascot, Marco, recently took a trip to Ireland and he had a wonderful time!

Want to see what Marco saw? Contact me today and we'll plan your trip to Ireland!

10 Reasons Why a Local Travel Agent is Well Worth the Trip

Should You Work with a Local Travel Agent?

With so many online travel sites, daily coupon deals, and big-name agencies out there, is there really a benefit to working with a local travel agent? Absolutely!

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It might be hard to resist that email advertising a weeklong escape for short money, but there are a lot of reasons why you should work with a local travel agent. Here are 10 of them.

10 Reasons Why a Local Travel Agent is Worth the Trip

  1. If the "good deal" is what's catching your eye, keep in mind that seasonal price swings are a local agent’s year round specialty. Knowing when to go where at the best prices can make a huge difference in your travel plans and their costs.
  2. Your travel agent gets to know you personally and takes the time to learn the things that make you a happy customer. From the best places to discover to the ones worth avoiding, your agent knows what will make you happy and will plan your trips to be the best they can be for you.
  3. Your travel agent has the perspective of the whole trip: transportation, hotels, cars, sightseeing, shopping and all the details that go into making any trip go smoothly.
  4. If you run into a problem while traveling you have someone to call who can guide you on how to fix it or make the fixes for you.
  5. Want to plan a trip but not sure where to go? Your travel agent is a library of travel information to help you get a feel for where you want to go.
  6. Your travel agent will guide you through the tough choices: charters versus scheduled carriers, car rentals options, special discounts, family travel packages, tour operators and more. And a travel agent will always work to get you the best deals because their reputation is on the line.
  7. Time is money, and your local travel agent will save you time by preparing your itinerary and making all the telephone calls for your information and reservations.
  8. You get the most up-to-date information.Your local travel agent knows travel and with so many choices, your local travel agent can guide you through the maze of information and help you make the best travel decision while saving you money.
  9. When you use a local travel agent, you are supporting a local business, and that’s good for your local economy.
  10. You receive the personal attention of a local travel agent who is dedicated to making your trips the BEST trips.
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I love what I do because not only do I love travel, I love making it easy and accessible for my customers. Want to learn more about how I can help you plan an amazing trip within your budget? Contact me at marisa@sensationaltravel.com.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya | Luxurious All Inclusive Resort

Grand Velas Riviera MayaLuxurious All Inclusive Resort

If basking in the sun on pristine beaches while enveloped in luxury is your idea of a perfect vacation, then Grand Velas Riviera Maya Mexico Resort is the place for you! Grand Velas is easy to get to - it's located just 35 minutes from Cancun Airport - and it's perfect for couples, weddings, and families.

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The Riviera Maya in Mexico is a spectacular destination because of its turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, nightlife, shopping, and golf. Grand Velas adds a layer of pampering and splendor with its world-class spa, named "Best Spa in the World" by Virtuoso in 2010. 42 treatment suites with services that span from massages to facials to hydrotherapy means you'll find the relaxation or rejuvenation you deserve.

The accommodations at Grand Velas live up to the title of luxurious with large suites that include 2 double beds or 1 king, a sitting area, and views of the ocean from your private terrace. This is where I want to start my day with a cup of coffee and then sit and unwind before dinner. All rooms include large TVs and wireless Internet, but this is the place to unplug so I hope you don't use them much!

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For those that like to sit and bask in the sun, in addition to the ocean or the zen garden you can enjoy three huge swimming pools with plenty of chairs to relax. There's also a children's pool. Yes, the Grand Velas is luxurious enough for a romantic couples getaway but it's also family-friendly with kid's activities and a kids club.

From the amazing service to the delicious food rolled into an all-inclusive resort, Grand Velas Riviera Maya is a stellar vacation spot. If you want to know more about this resort or you're ready to book your vacation, contact me at 978-745-2575 or marisa@sensationaltravel.com.

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Family Travel and New Year

When the holidays are over and you have begun to miss your family & friends do you think about next year?   Perhaps a family reunion in 2016 where you can spend a week and not just a few hours with love ones.  Something to think about?  Marisa of Sensational Travel can help! All inclusive resorts offer a stress-free experience for families of all ages where your meals, snacks, drinks, entertainment and activities are all prepaid. They are located everywhere in the Caribbean and Mexico.  Just unpack once and start the fun to build memories.

Perhaps you want to plan a family reunion for grandparents, children and grandchildren who are spread across the United States.  How wonderful to explore a new culture, volunteer in a country and  still enjoy some pool or ocean time while on vacation.

Resorts offer special savings and amenities for groups starting at 6 rooms depending on the time of year you travel.

Sensational Travel handles all the reservations, payments, questions and we provide a dedicated web page for family & friends. We have emergency service for you prior or during your trip.  Offer trip insurance for those unforeseen events that may prevent you from traveling.  And we have been assisting families for over 30  years.

Contact Marisa@sensationaltravel.com to begin to research the best group travel for 2016

Honeymoon Destinations

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Newly engaged couples I meet at New England Bridal Shows are constantly asking me where is the popular destination for a honeymoon. It remains the top three are; Jamaica, Punta Cana, D.R. and Mexico mostly the Mayan Riviera area. Why: These three top destinations for honeymoons offer the best value for young couples who want beach & sun while getting most for their money.

Which resorts to consider?

In Punta Cana there is the Excellence Resort, Zoetry Resort, Majestic Elegance Resort, HardRock Resort and Breathless Resort that are the most popular.

In Jamaica, Couples Resorts offer free tours in their room packages and the well known Sandals Resorts for their luxurious accommodations. Here you can chose between Ocho Rios for the variable of tours and Negril for amazing sunsets.

In Mexico, there are many resorts to chose from from the larger resorts such as Moon Palace Resort to smaller Playacar Palace Resort to the luxurious LeBlanc Resort. Hard Rock Resorts for music lovers. RoyalHideaway Resort or Karisma El Dorado Seaside Suites Resort where both offer exceptional service. In the Manyan Rivera there are many tours and activities honeymooners can enjoy or just relax on a beautiful beach.

Choices are numerous and it is wise to use a travel professional to make sure the selection is best. Contact marisa@sensationaltravel.com for stress-free planning.

Free Honeymoon?

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Alaska Adventure Sept 2013

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 Day 8

Today was an exciting day since we drove from Hotel Alyeska to Whittier and was to experience a narrow tunnel in the mountain that is one way to reach Whittier, Alaska.  They time the one-ways on the hour to let tourists and residents in/out of Whittier.  I was told the digging out of the tunnel was amazing since two teams began the job and when they meet halfway were only off by 6 inches! 

When we arrive into Whittier it was howling with white caps on the Prince William Sound and our boat was small, only 22 passengers.  Lazy Otter Charters was wonderful and we had a great captain, Captain Mike, owner of the charters with shipmate, Debbie, that both did a great job.  It turned out to be smooth sailing and we looked for wildlife and glaciers.  Another sunny day and we had a great time with a delicious lunch onboard.  Best item for lunch??  Smoked salmon spread on bagels along with sandwiches, cookies, ships and drinks.    Journey thru the tunnel just in time brought us to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center with our private tour guide, Scott.   Here you can drive around the center to view the animals or leisurely walk from area to area.   Animals roam freely in very large enclosures from bears, caribou, musk ox, moose and bisson.  This is a wonderful place to explore and a worthwhile visit from Anchorage.

Alaska Adventure Sept 2013

Alaska Fall FAM

Alaska Fall FAM

Day 7 

Another early morning as we drove from Anchorage to Girdwood for about 2hrs by Turnagain Arm, a very scenic drive hoping to spot Beluga Whales, no luck.

Our tour begins with the Pinzguaer that is a unique vehicle that goes off-road and into the mountains & mines.  We went to Crow Creek Mine that offers gold-panning during the summer months and weddings on the weekends,  a very pretty location.  Today our stay for the night and lunch is at Hotel Alyeska; favorite ski resort for Anchorage Residents.  I elected to go on the Winner Creek Gorge guided tour and as told it was a moderate hike for a few hours.  Well, four hours later and very sore I managed to complete the hike, a proud moment!  The fun element was the gorge and hand-tram basket that I rode over the deep gorge.  Did I look down?  Yes, you bet I did!

Alaska Adventure Sept 2013

AWE Fall FAM

 

 

Day 6

 

Early morning with the group to the popular breakfast diner, Snow City Café, and of course it was salmon cakes for breakfast!  The Alaskan Museum was a wonderful way to spend the morning and it features all the tribes of Alaska and rotating exhibits of all types of art.  Delightful lunch at Muse at the Museum allow museum goers to taste one of the local chefs fine cuisine without venturing outside.  Early afternoon we drove to the Rust’s Flying Service for a great adventure of 3hrs to view Mt McKinley or correctly named “Denali”.    Denali means “the High One” for Athabascan Indians north of the Alaska Range. Strapped in and praying all would be fine, we departed, soared and view the majestic mountains of Denali.  As a surprise we also landed on a glacier lake, all alone, and walked the glacier beach.  It was a wonderful experience to remember and a highly recommended way to see the mountains.  Our tour didn’t end since we were off to the Alaska Zoo, just outside of downtown Anchorage, where you can secure a free shuttle to the zoo.  Here many animals are rescued and exhibited naturally.  By late afternoon the group was hungry and we were treated to the Glacier Brewhouse for another wonderful meal, salmon burgers!

Alaska Adventure Sept 2013

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Day 5 

A beautiful day in the Alaskan City of Anchorage began with breakfast at Sizzlin’ Café, next door to the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel.  Very friendly staff, quick service and amazing eggs Benedict with smoked salmon.  Here is the destination for salmon lovers!  Alaska serves many different types of salmon and for breakfast it is no exception.

Then the fun begins with Salmon Berry Tours for a scenic city tour and chocolate tour with tour guide, Brett.  We visited Flattop Mountain for the views of the city, sample chocolate truffles and embraced liquid silk, a yummy hot chocolate drink.  We learned many Alaskans own a seaplane or floatplane.  We visited some of the locations of the 1964 earthquake.  Tonight we dine as locals at the Bears Tooth Theatre for great food and off to Chilkoot Charles for drinks and a visit to the “Birds Nest”. 

Alaska Adventure Sept 2013

ImageDay 4

 

Unfortunately the last day at DenaliNational Park was the day it rain, shall I say poured all day.  The sled dog tour to see puppies was canceled and I spent the morning  working from our cozy log cabin with time to purchase a lunch for our motorcoach ride back to Anchorage.   Early evening check into the Sheraton Anchorage with modern rooms and convent location.  Also good locations are the Westmark, Hilton, and Captain Cook Hotels.  Tonight a short walk to Humpys’, very popular place with the locals, where the burgers are big and the place serves over 49 different types of beer.  My selection was a raspberry/hard apple beer, very tasty.