Totem Travel (425) 821-4100   (800) 321-7907

How Do You Plan a Wedding at Sandals Resorts?


Adult only, all-inclusive Sandals Resorts are perfect for a destination wedding and a free wedding package comes with a three night stay at any Sandals Resort. So how do you plan a wedding at Sandals?

3 nights + 2 people = a free wedding at Sandals and everything you need is included. That means ceremony, bridal bouquet, boutonniere, music, photo, wedding cake and cocktail reception. Want a wedding web site and honeymoon registry? Included. Want to customize your wedding or add extras? No problem mon and stays of 6 nights or longer and wedding groups earn extra perks. So how do you start planning a wedding at Sandals?

Start with the wedding

 

  • Go to Sandals site
  • Click “Wedding and Honeymoons”
  • Click “Look Books” for inspiration from eight beautiful themes
  • Select colors, flowers, table decorations and extras
  • Choose the quantity you would like
  • The cost will be displayed.

When you’ve made your selections your total wedding cost is calculated.  And here’s a super cool feature! Play around to your heart’s content mixing elements from one theme with another. If your fantasy wedding doesn’t fit your oh so real life budget, go back and add or delete items.  You’re online so no stress, no sales pitch, just the information you need to plan a wedding at Sandals. Told you it was a cool feature!

Start with the honeymoon

 

With 17 Sandals Resorts there are choices to fit almost every honeymoon budget starting from about $1000 for two people staying 3 nights all inclusive. And remember, that includes a free wedding package! Totem Travel is a Sandals and Beaches Preferred Agency and certified Sandals Wedding Specialist. We’ve been to all the resorts and would love to help you choose the best all-inclusive resort, select the perfect room, find the best deal and create the wedding and honeymoon of your dreams.

Start with a Sandals Wedding Specialist

 

If you have questions about how to plan a wedding at Sandals Resorts and want help from an expert just call or email. Our Sandals Wedding Specialists are trained and certified by Sandals and all our services are free. The Sandals Specialists at Totem Travel have been to all the resorts, seen the wedding and reception set ups and can help with everything from resort and room selection to reserving your wedding, keeping you on track for documents and escalating to resolve challenges.

If you’re planning a destination wedding group, your Sandals Wedding Specialist will make sure you get all the bells and whistles you deserve like free rooms, upgrades and complimentary private functions. We’ll also act as a single point of contact for your guests, making reservations, answering questions and keeping you up to date as the group comes together.

     

OK I’m ready! What do I do next?

 

  • When you are ready to plan your wedding make a reservation at any Sandals Resort
  • Reserve a wedding date and time
  • Send out save the date cards, set up a wedding website or use social media to let everyone know your plans
  • Turn your wedding plans into a dream wedding come true!

Once your honeymoon and wedding time and date is reserved you’ll be assigned a pre wedding travel planner to help with everything you need before arrival. Once at the resort, you will meet with your onsite planner who will act as your personal wedding planner and make your special day and the moments leading up to it a breeze!

So call or email the Sandals Specialists at Totem Travel.  We have been recognized as one of Sandals top travel agencies in North America for more than a decade. We’ve been to all the resorts, do this every day and LOVE to help couples plan their wedding at Sandals whether for 2 or 200. Call us!

P.S. Sandals all-inclusive resorts are for adults but if you want to have children at their wedding no worries!  Beaches Resorts are for everyone and offer the same wedding options and easy planning process.

 

Totem Travel earns top Sandals agency awards in 2018


For more than a decade Totem Travel has been an award winning Sandals agency and one of Sandals’ top travel agencies in the United States. In 2018 Totem Travel was again named “Best of the Best” travel agencies in North America. Linda Martindell and Patty Houghton are both members of Sandals prestigious Chairman’s Royal Club and Platinum Sandals Specialists and Linda is a certified Sandals Wedding Specialist.

More importantly for clients, the Sandals Specialists at Totem Travel have been to all 19 Sandals and Beaches Resorts, we go back every year, keep up with all the changes, and provide expert advice and assistance at no extra cost. Totem Travel guarantees the lowest price on every Sandals package sold. We offer every special and deal you see online and more you may have missed.

     

We can help with a split stay that makes your dream of an overwater bungalow at a Sandals Resort affordable or put together an island hopping vacation. We offer bundled air packages with reduced deposits; can secure free nights for anniversary couples; take 10% off any reservation for military, police or fire fighters; assist with returning guest promotions; and plan a tropical destination wedding for 2 or 200.

So check out our blog posts about choosing the best Sandals Resort, comparing Sandals vs other all inclusive resorts or how to plan a destination wedding. Then call, email or request a quote if we can assist with an adult only all resort vacation, Sandals honeymoon or Beaches family vacation. We’d love to help!

P.S. Hot off the press… Beginning February 14 wine and beer will be available in all Sandals rooms free of charge. Club Level rooms and Butler Suites will continue to have a full bar setup with a selection of hard liquor, wine, beer, champagne, mixers, fruit juices, sodas and water.

What does a tropical island honeymoon cost?


Most couples get married in the summer and the majority of honeymoon couples choose a tropical beach honeymoon where the focus is on relaxation and romance. But weddings are expensive and budget may be a factor. So where can you go for a romantic honeymoon without breaking the bank and what does a dream honeymoon cost?

Here are some popular spots for exotic summertime honeymoons from $1K to $20K –

  • You have dreams of a lovely beach but a limited budget? Don’t stay home! Head to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic where $1000 buys 5 nights at a quality all-inclusive resort on a stunning white sand beach. Add airfare and voila! Instant, affordable, awesome honeymoon.  Hint: ask Uncle Al to get you there using credit card points or frequent flyer miles. He’s been sitting on them for years and loves you both to pieces.
  • At $1500 there are options in Jamaica and Puerto Vallarta for adult only all-inclusive honeymoons on the beach with 5 nights accommodations, meals, drinks, evening entertainment and lots of activities for two.
  • Want a longer honeymoon? Consider island hopping in Hawaii with a couple of nights on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu then a longer stay at a luxury resort on Maui’s famous Kaanapali Beach. 7 nights’ accommodations, transfers, car rental and daily breakfast should be about $2.5K traveling peak season.
  • For less than $3K, stay one week at a couples only Sandals Resort with everything included from gourmet dining to wine/beer/cocktails, land and water sports, entertainment, even snorkeling and scuba trips. You’ll find swim up bars, sexy firepits, hammocks and candlelit tables for two at every restaurant.
  • If butler service and a private pool or swim out room is on your wish list, St Lucia, Grenada or Barbados could be a great choice with options from $5.5K for a 7 night all inclusive honeymoon. These islands also offer unique open air “sanctuaries”, overwater bungalows and ultra-extravagant accommodations in the $12-20K range for one week.
  • Exotic islands in the South Pacific calling your name? From the west coast, a honeymoon package with airfare and 6 nights in a beachfront bungalow at an adult only resort in Fiji starts between $6-7K.
  • Glorious overwater bungalows overlooking Bora Bora’s shimmering lagoon with a view of Mt Otemanu and fabulous sunsets will set you back more. Figure $10K+ for airfare from the west coast and a 5 night stay.

So with tropical island honeymoons from $1K to $20K where do you start?

1. Begin with the dream and have fun visualizing the perfect honeymoon! Read blog posts and magazine articles, look at photos online, talk with everyone you know.

2. Make a note of every destination, feature or activity that made your heart race or put a starry eyed look on your face. This is your wish list.

3. Sit down together and talk about reality. How long can you be gone? How far are you willing to travel? What are you comfortable spending and what needs to be included in that budget?

4. Call or email a honeymoon travel specialist. When you share the fantasy, the reality and allow time for us to work our magic you may find your dream honeymoon really does come true!

Big sale on active adventure travel for 2018!


If you are thinking about an active vacation in 2018 and would enjoy hiking, biking, cycling, kayaking or a multisport adventure you can get a big discount off some truly awesome and surprisingly affordable small group tours if you book in March. So NOW is the time to shop and plan your adventure. With this pre sale notice you have time to browse all the available itineraries, talk to friends and travel buddies, call or email with questions then make your reservations in March to secure 15% off all G Adventures active tours. A small deposit will secure the sale price and hold space until closer to departure, so you even have time to save for the trip. Sweet!

Three super popular destinations I’ve explored recently are included in G Adventures’ early booking sale and I highly recommend they be added to your “must do” list.

  • Patagonia – do not miss the Moreno Glacier or Torres del Paines!
  • Machu Picchu and the Amazon – two incredible destinations you can do on the same vacation.
  • Mont Blanc – the finest in Swiss, French and Italian Alps hiking.

   

Other active adventures on my travel bucket list and on sale in March, are hiking the Dolomites in Italy, Iceland, and a hiking, kayaking and biking multisport adventure in Thailand. Still more destinations, like the Galapagos, are on sale in January and many classic itineraries in Europe, Asia and South American are 10-15% off for bookings made in April. You can even plan a private small group tour (all destinations) with discounts for as few as 8 in your party.

If you’d like more information on affordable small group adventure travel for all ages, vacations designed for 18-30 somethings or a small group guided tour in Europe, Australia, Asia or South America please call or email. I’d be very happy to share my experiences and help you find the perfect spot!

      

Secrets, Excellence or Sandals – Which is the Best All-Inclusive Resort for Adults?


A few years back we wrote a post comparing Secrets vs Couples vs Sandals Resorts but things change fast in the travel biz and new players have come on strong in the adult only all inclusive market. Having stayed at almost all the adult only resorts including Excellence, Iberostar Grand, Hyatt, El Dorado and aforementioned Secrets, Couples and Sandals, we are often asked which is the best all-inclusive resort for adults.  All of these resorts are quality brands with multiple locations. All have newer and older resorts, bigger and smaller hotels, simpler and more luxurious settings.  All have special features that may be on your wish list and all offer a range of room categories and prices with varying amenities and services.

So what if your destination is flexible and money is no object?   Which is the best adult only all-inclusive resort?  I still don’t have a quick answer because it’s like naming a favorite restaurant.  Mine would be Italian but you may prefer steak or sushi and choosing the best is difficult because they are totally different. That said, there are some broad generalizations we can make about adult only all-inclusive resorts plus specific recommendations for some best in category resorts.

Target Clientele and Special Inclusions

  • Excellence, Secrets and Iberostar Grand Collection are top choices for adults traveling with friends, families with adult children, singles and couples. These resorts allow 1-4 adults to share a room and have a choice of bedding in various room categories.
  • Sandals Resorts are best for couples planning a honeymoon, romantic getaway, destination wedding, vow renewal or anniversary. With 16 couples only resorts on 7 islands, Sandals has the broadest price range, largest selection of room styles all with king beds, includes free weddings at every resort and gives free nights for anniversaries.
  • Hyatt, a newcomer to the all-inclusive market, has adult only properties adjacent to family friendly resorts with select public areas and restaurants reserved for adults. This works particularly well for mixed groups and multi-generational families.
  • Breathless caters to adults seeking a livelier vibe and more nightlife.
  • Iberostar Grand has more organized group activities and a higher rate of participation than other adult all inclusives.
  • Couples has the Caribbean’s first unlimited spa service option with treatments included along with meals, drinks and other land and water activities. Couples also includes more off site tours.
  • Sandals Resorts includes the widest range of land and watersports, resort activities and evening entertainment. Activities like snorkel trips, tubing, waterskiing, scuba diving and golf are free at Sandals but cost extra elsewhere.

    

Beaches & pools

  • All of our favorite adult only resorts are beachfront but not all beaches are created equal, so it’s important to be specific. Our picks for best beach would be Sandals Emerald Bay and Iberostar Grand Bavaro followed by Secrets Akumal, Sandals Grande Antigua and El Dorado Maroma.
  • Excellence and Iberostar Grand have fabulous pools as do some Secrets and Sandals Resorts. Our best pool award goes to Sandals Royal Barbados with the Caribbean’s first rooftop pool plus stunning beachfront pool and hundreds of rooms and suites with private pool or swim up feature. Wowzer!

Restaurants and bars

  • All of these top quality adult only all-inclusive resorts have specialty international restaurants and a high standard of food quality and presentation.
  • All include alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages including beer, wine and cocktails with top shelf brands available.  Bottles of wine and champagnes are available for purchase.
  • Excellence and Secrets are known for no reservation dining.
  • Sandals Resorts can accommodate celiac and other dietary restrictions with an onsite culinary concierge at every resort.
  • In room bars vary widely. Only Sandals includes full size bottles of liquor, wine and champagne plus beer, soft drinks, mixers, fruit juice and water in Club Level and Butler Suites. Standard rooms include soft drinks, water and juice. Couples Resorts allow you to personalize a minibar with a selection of liquor, wine and beer but quantities are limited and champagne is not an option. Secrets Resorts include beer, soft drinks and water in every room and Preferred Club rooms add alcohol but no wine or champagne. Iberostar Grand offers a selection of wine and liquor in airplane sized bottles plus beer, soft drinks and water.
  • Room service varies within chains and even room categories. Excellence and Secrets earn top honors with 24/7 room service for all guests and a “secret box” for delivery and pick up without intruding on your privacy.

Rooms and services

  • Iberostar Grand has the most luxurious entry level rooms with shared butler service, jetted soaking tubs and more.
  • Most Excellence and Secrets Resorts are contemporary in styling and offer private pools and swim up rooms however “beachfront” rooms can be problematic as many are far from the beach and have a limited ocean view.
  • Sandals Resorts offer everything from standard rooms to “sand in your toes” beachfront rooms, overwater bungalows, swim up rooms and villas with private pools. The décor at Sandals runs the gamut from traditional to modern and services are provided at three levels – Luxury, Club Level and Sandals crème de la crème Butler Service.
  • Rooms at Couples Resorts can be minimalistic although we love the plantation suites at Couples Swept Away and every room has what you need to be comfortable

Hopefully this gives you a starting point to find the best all-inclusive resort for your adult only vacation, tropical honeymoon or destination wedding. For more information please call, email or request a quote. We’ve been to all the popular destinations, stayed at almost all the resorts and would love to help you choose the best adult only all-inclusive resort for you!

Big changes at Sandals Resorts for 2018


2018 will be an exciting year with big changes coming to Sandals Resorts. The award winning Sandals Specialists at Totem Travel have been to all of the Sandals and Beaches Resorts and after recent visits to Jamaica, Barbados, Turks and Caicos, Grenada and Exuma we are excited about the upgrades and innovations we saw. Major developments to consider when choosing the best destination for your honeymoon, wedding or adult all inclusive vacation include –

  • Sandals newest resort, Sandals Royal Barbados, opens with Sandals first rooftop pool, jacuzzi and bar. Royal Barbados will also have Sandals first bowling alley aptly called Lovers’ Lane and a gentlemen’s only barber shop.
  • A favorite resort, Sandals Grande Antigua, reopens on one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful white sand beaches.
  • Overwater bungalows at 3 resorts on 2 islands will be ready for romantic honeymoons and luxurious vacations. Plus Sandals opened its first ever overwater bar and overwater wedding venue with more to come!
  • An all new destination wedding program replaces Sandals’ free Beautiful Beginnings wedding and $1500 gift with a la carte customizable Aisle to Isle themes, Bells and Whistles.
  • Major enhancements, renovations and rooms debut at Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals South Coast and Sandals Halcyon. Look for swim up suites, beachfront private pools and overwater bungalows.

More changes include

  • New restaurants at many Sandals Resorts
  • Streamlined military, fire fighter and police discount program
  • New scuba and snuba watersports offerings
  • Relaxed dress code – dress jeans, collarless shirts and dress sandals allowed in fine dining restaurants.
  • Discounted insurance when bundled with airfare.
  • Changes to Signature Guest and on site Loyalty offers (P.S. always good but not always the best deal)
  • Expanded resort hopping options
  • More tour and off site excursions

What hasn’t changed?

  • Sandals remains adult only, couples only and ultra all inclusive
  • Sandals remains “best in class” with more inclusions and choices than other adult only resorts like Secrets, Excellence, Couples and more.

For more information or help choosing the best Sandals Resort for your honeymoon or adult only all inclusive vacation we hope you will call, email or come meet us at the Seattle Wedding Show January 13-14. We’d love to help!

London, Stonehenge, Bath and Beyond


Buckingham Palace, The Changing of the Guard, Big Ben and Tower of London are iconic must do experiences but there is also Churchill’s War Room, Westminster Cathedral, the British Museum, London theater and fabulous and inexpensive walking tours suited to a variety of interests. Outside the city you have a wealth of day trips and options whether you’re a Beatles buff thirsting for Abbey Road and Liverpool, curious about prehistoric civilizations, wish to explore an English castle, visit Oxford University or stroll through charming villages and English Country Gardens. It’s all available a few hours from London.

    3

Some of my favorite London extensions are Stonehenge, Bath and the Cotswolds. These can easily be done as a day trip from the city but if time permits, a multi day add on is even more enjoyable. Another popular option is to pop over to Paris via the chunnel or combine Ireland, Scotland and England for a more in depth visit to the British Isles.

    

When planning a trip to Europe the best approach is to start by listing what you’d like to see and do, set priorities, think about your overall budget and save trains, planes and automobiles for the next step. Another recommendation is to plan at least 3 nights in each destination and make location your #1 criteria for choosing accommodations. One and two nights stays are OK upon occasion and a few countries, like Ireland, lend themselves to a road trip but the major cities in Europe offer a wealth of interesting sights and you’ll want time to explore and enjoy them before moving on to the next adventure.

If you don’t know where to start, don’t have time to research options, find it difficult to set priorities or are simply constrained by time or money that’s where I come in! With expert advice it can be stress free and easy to travel independently in Europe and as Totem Travel’s Europe specialist I visit the continent every year. I know all the tips and tricks and will design a customized itinerary for independent travel throughout Europe based on your wish list, budget and timeline. I can also organize a city stay, recommend an escorted tour or suggest a river cruise suited to your specific needs so please call or email if you’d like assistance planning a vacation in Europe. It would be my pleasure to help you discover Europe your way!

New River Pool & Oceanfront Swim Up Suites at Sandals Montego Bay


The sexy new swim up suites and river pool at Sandals Montego Bay have been completed, newly renovated butler villas command a gorgeous oceanview and secluded location and affordable entry level and Club Level Rooms are steps from one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. So what’s keeping you from Jamaica mon? For years Sandals Montego Bay has had more returning guests than any Sandals Resort but like all well loved treasures it needed some TLC. Now, with a few million dollars of pampering, the resort is glowing with new life.

Minutes from the airport, Sandals Montego Bay is perfect for sun seekers that want to hit the beach soon after landing. The contemporary, light filled lobby is newly open to the turquoise sea so the moment you arrive you’re tantalized by glimpses of sparking water and beckoned to shed your winter clothes and embrace a barefoot lifestyle. Add a warm Sandals greeting with cool scented towels and tropical drink and you’re off to a great start to a romantic all inclusive honeymoon or vacation.

Beyond the lobby you’ll find a new Islands Routes desk ready book exciting adventures like ziplining or swimming with dolpins, spacious entertainment area and oceanfront bar. Old wood decks have been replaced with tile and incorporate cozy seating areas and romantic firepits overlooking the ocean. Restaurants have also been given a facelift but the big news is the brand new oceanfront river pool with swim out suites, beautiful new butler villas (previously called cottages) and luxurious Millionaire’s Suite. All are stunning and take full advantage of Sandals Montego Bay’s magnificent beach location.

    

On the left below is the view from the gorgeous new Romeo and Juliet Butler Villas at Sandals Montego Bay and on the right, the view from the all new Beachfront Walkout Club Level Room with Tranquility Soaking Tub. With all the enhancements MoBay is looking like a new resort but some things never change so here’s to the beautiful beach you’ve always loved at Sandals Montego Bay, the warm Jamaica sunshine and adult only all inclusive Sandals Resort service. Woohoo!

    

Need help choosing the best island or all inclusive resort for you? Have questions about Sandals pricing, specials and deals? We’ve been to all of the Sandals Resorts, guarantee the lowest price and will gladly help you compare Sandals vs Secrets, Excellence and other top quality adult only all inclusive resorts. Our service is free so call or email a honeymoon and all inclusive specialist and allow us to help you find the perfect spot for your next vacation.

 

Ireland in one week – Dublin, Kerry and Clare


If you crave an in depth Irish experience you’ll need weeks on the Emerald Isle but it’s possible to enjoy a great one week vacation in Ireland as long as you think about priorities and make choices before committing to flights and accommodations.

Rick Steves, Frommers and Fodors suggest different itineraries for a one week vacation in Ireland but we all agree that Dublin is the #1 priority and ideal place to begin your Irish vacation. The very diverse sightseeing choices include Trinity College and The Book of Kells, fascinating and sobering Kilmainham Gaol, fun but not so sober Guinness Storehouse and St Patrick’s Cathedral. You can do all four in one full day (start with jail and end at church) but more time will allow you to enjoy an excellent historic walking tour, National Gallery, St Stephens Green and the nightlife in Temple Bar. Most visitors should plan 2-3 nights in Dublin.

    

My #2 recommendation for first time visitors to Ireland would be County Kerry where you’ll find some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Killarney is an ideal home base to explore the Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Killarney National Park, Skellig Michael, Muckross House and Ross Castle. A 3 night stay will allow you to see most of these sights and stop at the Rock of Cashel or Cork en route from Dublin.

#3 on my list is County Clare with the impressive Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle and other worldly Burren.  Then, if time permits, add Galway before returning home after your one week Irish vacation. But a word of caution! Some of the most memorable experiences I’ve had in Ireland weren’t at a tourist attraction. They were listening to live Irish music and sharing tall tales with the locals. So make sure your itinerary includes time for a local pub or two and consider a whiskey tasting tour.  You won’t regret it!

   

If you’d like help planning your trip to Ireland or next European vacation please call or email linda@totemtravel.com. I’m Totem Travel’s Europe specialist and happy to help.

Sandals Overwater Bungalows open in St Lucia May 2017


Hot off the press! Sandals Resorts long promised overwater bungalows will open in St Lucia May 2017.

Jamaica’s first overwater bungalows opened at Sandals Royal Caribbean last fall and I was fortunate enough to see them inside and out shortly after opening. They are gorgeous and, for the moment, the only overwater bungalows in the Caribbean, but in my well traveled opinion Rodney Bay’s calm turquoise water is a far better setting for an idyllic overwater bungalow experience so I am thrilled to see overwater bungalows opening at Sandals Grande St Lucian this year.

Bora Bora still has my vote for the best overwater bungalows anywhere but there are no adult only resorts or truly all inclusive resorts in Bora Bora so that fabulous combination of features has been brought together along with Sandals butler service for those seeking a romantic couples only vacation, luxurious honeymoon or special anniversary.

And speaking of anniversaries… Sandals offers one free night in addition to all the other great deals for couples traveling within 30 days of their anniversary. Restrictions do apply but they are not onerous so call or email if we can help you plan a special getaway. Perhaps an overwater vow renewal ceremony is in order? Check prices and specials or call or email us with questions. We’ll make it happen for you!

Totem Travel 12305 120th Ave NE Kirkland, WA 98034
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved.