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Iberostar Playa Mita Best Kept Secret Amongst All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico


With the high cost of living, education and health care, families are finding it hard to afford much need family vacation time.  I work with all kinds of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico from budget to very upscale, and I have found a nice option for families who want an overall quality vacation experience without spending a fortune.  What constitutes a quality vacation?  If you talk to a mom, she will probably stress the importance of yummy food choices that she doesn’t have to prepare, nice beach and pools and it wouldn’t hurt to have a spaJ   Most dads would want anything that makes mom happy including exceptional customer service and golf. Kids just want to have fun activities and programs that keep their interest.  The Iberostar Playa Mita in Puerto Vallarta has everything to make mom, dad and kids happy, so you should definitely check it out.

There are many resorts that are super inexpensive, but offer awful food and boring buffet dining options or have terrible customer service.  I would suggest you save your money rather than compromise. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, fun and pleasurable.  The Iberostar Playa Mita is about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta and can deliver a really nice vacation for the entire family without putting too much strain on the pocket book.

The resort features a main pool with infinity edge and swim up bar which looks out to the beautiful Pacific Ocean.  You can also catch the famous Puerto Vallarta sunsets from the rooftop bar with glass of wine in hand before you meander to dinner.  The kids have their own pool and the kids programs at the Iberostar Resorts are outstanding.  Children ages 4-12 have their own section of the kids club with a special teen’s club for kids ages 13-17. Age appropriate activities go on all day for each and the program is free.  Also, kids age 12 and under are free at the resort, so you just need to buy them an airline ticket!

Under the Iberostar All Inclusive Plan, all meals and snacks are included, as well as unlimited imported & domestic drinks.  Each room is stocked with a mini bar, robes and slippers just like the fancy places. Two of my favorite restaurants for dinner at the Iberostar Playa Mita are Tsuba which features Japanese show cooking (it is a show and dinner all in one!) and the gourmet French restaurant which designed to make you feel like you are in a rail car travelling through France.   There is also a Steak House and Mexico restaurant for a la carte dining in the evenings.  If you want a good old American hamburger during the day, check out the beach grill. The burgers are delicious and HUGE!

     

Dad will enjoy the Litibu Golf Course designed by Greg Norman which is right next door while mom enjoys one of the special spa offerings in the full service spa.   For those who want to work off beer or chips and guacamole calories, no problem!  The resort has a gym with all kinds of equipment and a nice view out to the golf course.

Because of how inexpensively this resort prices out, it also makes an excellent choice for a destination wedding.   Keeping your guest’s budget in mind, the Iberostar Playa Mita makes a three night/four day attendance very doable even for those on the tightest budget.   The Iberostar Resorts only perform one wedding daily, so your magical moment will be special and executed by one of their wedding professionals.

How inexpensive is the Iberostar Playa Mita?  A typical one week all-inclusive accommodations for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids age 12 or under) is around $1500 total for the week.

We have a lot of favorite resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii.  We help find the perfect spot that ticks off items on your wish list and stays within your preferred budget and don’t charge fees to use our services.  So take the stress out of planning and scouring the internet, give us a call, email or request a quote.  We are happy to help your family enjoy the vacation you deserve!

Best All Inclusive Resorts for Families with Infants & Young Kids


Have you been dreaming about an all-inclusive family vacation but worry about the hassle of traveling with young children or a baby?  Do you have to drag all the equipment and accessories that go along with infants on your vacation?  The answer is no.  The Azul Resorts operated by the luxury chain Karisma  Resorts, give families travelling with infants or young children some fantastic and valuable perks that take the hassle out of travelling with kids. These perks are currently offered at all four Azul properties (three in Riviera Maya Mexico, and one in Jamaica), as well as their Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana.

If you are travelling with an infant, wouldn’t free baby amenities like cribs, bottle warmers, sterilizers, baby baths, changers, strollers, bath robes, baby sleepers, baby monitors, high chairs and pack n’ plays make travelling with baby SO MUCH EASIER?  As well as these things being included, the Karisma Resorts also offer Gerber baby food in all restaurants or from room service. Wow!   Other family all-inclusive resorts will have to take notice!

If you are travelling with children age 4-12 years old, The Azul properties have the Azulitos Playhouse to keep your children entertained.  They offer daily themed activities, as well as supervised activities. Daily activities include things like face painting, sandcastle building, cooking classes, piñata parties and the Nickelodeon experience.  Kids love the character meet and greets as Sponge Bob or Dora the Explorer roam the property and integrate with the kids, posing for photo ops.

There are also kid’s movie nights with popcorn and dinner and exclusive gym programs for the active kids.  Fun things for your children equates to some relaxation time for mom and dad.  Yippee!  Win! Win!

You can experience these perks for kids at any of the Azul properties.  The Azul Beach Resort is a smaller more intimate resort located just south of Cancun providing a quiet and intimate setting.  If you would prefer a larger resort with more pools, dining, then Azul Sensatori , which is also just south of Cancun, has a lot to offer including three pools: a family pool, adult only pool and the premium section pool.  There is a kid’s splash pad and waterslide and three swim up bars.

Are you looking for multiple bedroom accommodations for your family?  Azul Fives which is located just on the north side of the cute town of Playa Del Carmen would be a great family vacation choice, as this specific property has lavish one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom suites that accommodate 6 adults and up to 8 persons total.  Suites this size are a rare find in Mexico! Also great for larger families with teenagers.

The Azul Sensatori Jamaica is on the beautiful Negril Beach where you have white sand and calm clear water, plus luxurious accommodations and family suites.  The resort is located right next to one of our favorite adult only all-inclusive properties, Sandals Negril.

Karisma Resorts offer gourmet dining at both their “adult only” all-inclusive resorts called the El Dorado’s, as well as their family all-inclusive resort options.  So whether Jamaica, Mexico or Punta Cana is your preferred destination, you will be eating like a king and also be enjoying top shelf liquors, all included. 

Joining the Azul/Karisma Resorts offering a top of the line family all-inclusive resort experience at high standards are a few of our other favorite chains like Beaches, Iberostar Resorts and the Hyatt Ziva Resorts.

We specialize in family vacations to Mexico and the Caribbean where you have all-inclusive resorts at all different price points and amenities to choose from.  We are happy to help you find the resort that translates into a happy, fun, relaxing and special family vacation.  We do not charge fees to use our services and take advantage of our expertise, so give us a call at 1-800-321-7907 or email us.  We are here for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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!

Upscale Luxury Family All Inclusive Resort – Review Of Finest Playa Mujeres All Inclusive Resort In Mexico


I really enjoyed this new resort which is located in a new area just 15-20 minutes north of Cancun.  Finest Playa Mujeres is part of the Excellence Group of Resorts which we have been sending clients to for years (Excellence Playa Mujeres, Excellence Riviera Cancun, Excellence Punta Cana and Excellence El Carmen).  Their “adult only” All Inclusive properties offer a quality adult only vacation experience with a high level of service and overall vacation quality.  So when I had the chance to experience their family friendly resort, I had high expectations.  Let’s just say, Finest excelled!  If you are looking for an upscale family all-inclusive resort, Finest Playa Mujeres will meet or exceed all your expectations.

The location is a big plus since it is just a short cab ride into Cancun, but out of the way of all the craziness of the city.  I find it also nice for those who have already been to Cancun and Playa Del Carmen and want to try a new area or for those with limited vacation time, this Playa Mujeres location is ideal.

     

The minute I stepped on property, I knew that Excellence Group had delivered a solid upscale family friendly all-inclusive experience.  All the details were in place from the stunning grounds to the wide variety of dining choices.  I hadn’t even gotten to see any of the rooms, beach or pool and I was already excited about what I was seeing.  As I walked along the pathways, the oasis of pools and landscaping was beautiful and all fringed by a 2 mile white sand beach.

The accommodations offered on property will fit any family comfortably.  You have your choice of regular junior suites with are nice and spacious and can even come with your own private pool or they have Family Suites which are an excellent choice for families with multiple kids.  This type of suite is hard to find in Mexico or the Caribbean. The family suites at Finest have a bedroom with two individual beds and another room with a King bed, so parents can have their privacy.  Of course the resort also offers luxurious story rooftop suites and an Imperial Suite so you can go as upscale as you like.  They also offer their Finest Club experience which gives you private check in and check out, a private lounge with concierge services, private pool bar, VIP toiletries and upgraded minibar, room service menu and more.

When you are not in your room, your kids can enjoy either the Imagine Kids lounge in the main lobby or the Imagine Kids club conveniently located in a central location where you can drop off your kids while you enjoy some “adult only” time.  The kids club has all kinds of activities and of course a water park where your kids can be supervised while they have a fun time.   In addition to all the kids programs and waterpark, you have 12 swimming pools overall and 4 are heated.  In the center of it all, you have the fun Aqua Bar where you can swim up and sip on a margarita or drink of your choice.

And you won’t be bored at the resort because the list of activities available at Finest goes on and on. They have everything from kayaks, windsurfers and paddle boards, to yoga, cooking lessons, beach volleyball, basketball, bicycles, table tennis and more. Or you can get your daily workout in at the Fitness Center which is equipped with all the latest equipment.   Need I mention the fabulous spa?  They have one and if pampering is what your vacation calls for, no problem!

Another quick mention of the dining options because I really think this is a huge asset for this property.  There are 9 various dining options on property and only one is buffet.  You have everything from Duke’s Lobster & Seafood, a Steakhouse, Italian, French, Mexican and Tapas to the spectacular Shoji which feature oriental flavors from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and China.  Something for everyone, even the pickiest of appetites and Finest can handle dietary restrictions with ease, for example gluten free.

We work with a wide variety of resorts throughout the Caribbean and Mexico including other upscale family friendly resorts like Beaches Resorts, so please call, request a quote or shoot me an email. We can find the best fit for you and your family and do it at no extra cost!

 

 

 

 

Best All Inclusive Resorts for 2017


Caribbean Journal’s article on the Best All Inclusive Resorts for 2017 included many Totem Travel favorites and while their top 25 list includes a mix of adult only and family friendly properties small and large it was dominated by resorts in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. This is great news for clients seeking an all inclusive vacation or honeymoon from Seattle as these destinations have good air service from the west coast as well as other U.S. gateways. Score!

With that in mind here are 10 of our favorites that also made the Journal’s list for best all inclusive resorts in 2017

  • Grand Velas – the service and food at Grand Velas Riviera Maya is at the highest level anywhere and yes, the resort is drop dead gorgeous.
  • Zoetry Agua Punta Cana – an intimate resort with sexy rooms and health conscious gourmet dining
  • Galley Bay Antigua – as Billy Crystal would say the beach is mahvelous!
  • Sandals Royal Caribbean – brand new and stunning overwater villas and bungalows
  • Le Blanc – an upscale choice in Cancun perfect for foodies and nightlife
  • Sandals Barbados – getting to Barbados is a little more difficult but the weather is awesome in the fall when other areas worry about hurricanes
  • Secrets Maroma – great beach, great service, nearby snorkeling, adult only
  • Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Rose Hall Jamaica – one is for families the other for adults and both at Hyatt standards
  • Beaches Turks and Caicos – the Disney standard for family all inclusive. It simply doesn’t get better.
  • Couples Tower Isle – new spa villas include treatments along with all other inclusions.

Still not sure which resort is best for your all inclusive getaway? We have been to them all and go back every year. Our service is free and we always guarantee the lowest price available so please call or email and let an all inclusive resort specialist help you plan the perfect vacation.

 

 

 

My new favorite adult only all inclusive resort in Mexico


I just can’t keep it a secret!  Secrets Akumal “Adult Only” All Inclusive Resort on the Caribbean side coastline of Mexico is one of my new favorite resorts for couples looking for a vacation sans kids or honeymoon couples looking for a tropical and romantic ambiance.  There are so many things I really like about this special property and  the resort not only compares nicely with other strong resort chains like Excellence, El Dorado’s and even Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean islands, but the location offers some unique and hard to find attributes.

Secrets Akumal opened last year and if you check out the reviews, the secret is starting to get out and everyone is in love with this beautiful resort.   Every detail has been thought of from the infusion of natural elements with modern amenities to the oceanfront infinity pool with the Caribbean as the backdrop, to the serene grounds with walkways and koi ponds throughout the property.  If you want to get away to paradise, look no further.  The charming fishing village of Akumal is just a ten minute walk down the beach if you want to access deep sea fishing or just take in the culture of the area.  Also only 15 minutes away are the Tulum ruins where you can explore and be marveled by the ancient Mayan people and how they lived.

     

Have ever noticed how most All Inclusive resorts in Mexico will say that non-motorized water sports like snorkeling are included, only to find out that means the will lend you a mask and fins so you can snorkel from the beach.  White sand and blue water is pretty, but without a reef system, that is about all you will see.  Secrets Akumal is located on a beautiful white sand protected beach with a large reef system just offshore.  You can actually check out a mask and fins or a glass bottomed kayak and see all kinds of colorful fish and even sea turtles which are known to frequent the reef.   So while you don’t have a snorkel boat that goes out to a reef daily like at the Sandals “couples only” All Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean, you can still enjoy snorkeling just a few flips of your fins away from your beach chair.

And like their other Secrets properties in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Dominican Republic, Puerto Vallarta and Costa Rica, Secrets Akumal excels at offering a high level of service, and a nice variety of gourmet dining options.     The resort even comes with a unique beach bar where you can sip on your margarita sitting on your chair swing!  They thought of everything!

I have seen hundreds of resorts in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean and Secrets Akumal is on my top 5 list without question.  Linda and I love it when we find a new favorite or rediscover an old favorite that is back on top again like Sandals South Coast, so call or email us and we will share our knowledge and help you plan your next getaway at no extra cost!

Top 5 Adult Only All-Inclusive Resorts with Butler Service


Looking for an adult only all-inclusive resort with butler service? Here are the 5 best butler service resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico plus a suggestion for the ultimate in pampering and butler service in Tahiti.

Sandals Royal Plantation – This 74 room gem is 100% oceanfront, ocean view butler suites with peacocks strolling the manicured gardens, afternoon tea on a shaded verandah, top rated spa, caviar bar and butlers offering champagne or spritzing guests lying by the azure sea. Butler not close enough to hear your thoughts? No worries, he or she is on call at the touch of a button!

The vibe at Royal Plantation is decidedly chill but when it’s time for action, guests enjoy a plethora of complimentary water sports or head to the 18 hole golf course where greens fees are free for Sandals Resort guests. Also complimentary are resort hopping privileges at Sandals Ochi, which BTW, provides some of the most affordable butler service accommodations anywhere. No wonder “The Bachelor” chose these resorts for his very special proposal!

Iberostar Grand Bavaro – This stunning adult only all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana is built around a magnificent lagoon fronting miles of white sand beach and turquoise water. Every opulent room features a marble bath with jacuzzi for two and walk in rain shower, luxurious linens and pillow menu, elegantly furnished sitting area and fully stocked minibar.

At check in butlers meet with guests and offer assistance with restaurant reservations, tee times and spa services and butler service is available throughout your stay. Noteworthy resort features include a wide range of organized activities, golf course, shipboard bar and oceanfront ocean view exercise facility with top of the line equipment.

El Dorado Maroma – An intimate boutique hotel tucked away on the peaceful Mexican Riviera, El Dorado Maroma is the antithesis of sprawling mega resorts.  Low rise buildings are built near the sea and beach butlers serve tropical drinks and snacks to resort guests lazily ensconced in comfy beach beds. Soon butler service will be expanded dramatically when the resort opens Mexico’s first overwater bungalows called “palafitos” complete with private pool, outdoor shower, 24/7 room service, private restaurant and more. Wow!

Sandals La Source Grenada – One of Sandals newest resorts, and one of its best, Sandals La Source has a number of unique butler service suites plus excellent service provided by a top quality team under exceptional management. Our favorite butler suites include the SkyPool in the Italian Village, South Seas One Bedroom with Private Pool and South Seas Rondoval with Private Pool. All include the service of a guild trained butler who attends to your every need day or night. Grenada also earns a “best food” vote with specialties enhanced by locally grown spices and creative preparations offered in a wide variety of restaurants.

Paradisus La Perla – Modern with generous sized junior suites, this adult only all-inclusive resort is one of the few in Playa Del Carmen to offer personalized butler service.  With Royal Service, you will not only enjoy a butler to discreetly attend to all your needs, but a private lounge for check in and check out, ala carte restaurant for breakfast and lunch exclusive to Royal Service guests, private pool with swim up bar and private beach area.  And while you relax poolside, your butler will bring the mojito of the day.  Finicky about your food, no problem! This resort can please even professional chefs, as we have sent them with glowing feedback.  Butler service, elegant resort, Playa Del Carmen location, this adult only all-inclusive resort has it all!

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St Regis – While not an adult only all-inclusive resort, St Regis Bora Bora is decidedly adult oriented and meals can be included as part of a vacation or honeymoon package. At St Regis Bora Bora, the superb service begins with check in on a private yacht and continues with butler service greeting upon arrival. In fact, butler service has been a hallmark for years at St Regis and we suspect an inspiration to many other resort groups such as those mentioned above. Dining at St Regis is as inspirational as the exotic Tahitian setting with Lagoon by Jean Georges setting the bar with Villa Mahana for best restaurants in the South Pacific.

So if your travels take you to the Caribbean, Mexico or Bora Bora and butler service is on your wish list please call or email for further assistance. We’ve stayed at all the resorts recommended plus many more and would be delighted to help you plan the perfect, pampered getaway!

 

Staying healthy and fit on an all inclusive vacation


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Indulge yourself or diet? You can do both on an all inclusive vacation!  Shape up, warm up , chill out and exercise. On your next vacation you can start the road to fitness with yoga on the beach,  fine tune your golf or tennis game with a pro, keep your sculpted beach bod in perfect form with state of the art equipment or morning run and still have hours to relax and enjoy the good life. It’s all possible on an all-inclusive vacation. But will a never ending supply of beautifully prepared meals and desserts plus fun, fruity, calorie packed cocktails tempt you off your diet? Or will vegetarian meals and low carb restaurant selections be difficult to find? Not if you choose the right resort!

The best all-inclusive resorts cater to a variety of guests and can easily accommodate most dietary needs and restrictions. They also offer health conscious food and drink choices and numerous opportunities to stay fit while enjoying a relaxed getaway. Some resort groups, such as Zoetry, focus on health and wellness as part of their luxury inclusions. Others, including Sandals and Beaches Resorts, guarantee diet and allergy friendly foods at every restaurant. So you’ll find it easy to manage a low cal, low fat diet or enjoy a gluten free resort vacation without extra effort or expense.

So what’s most important to you? An awesome tennis program, the latest pilates equipment or miles of beach for walking or jogging? Here are some of my favorite “stay fit while indulging” choices after decades of vacationing at some of the best all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean:

  • Panoramic oceanview fitness center with state of the art equipment and sunken chaise lounges surrounded by cushy, canopied pool beds at Iberostar Grande Bavaro Punta Cana.
  • Kick your butt Boot camp, fabulous frozen mudslides and hammocks slung over a meandering river pool at Excellence Playa Mujeres.
  • Oceanfront, feet in the sand, feeling the  vibe yoga and gourmet dining with fat grams and calories discretely noted at Zoetry Agua.
  • Zumba with a hunky instructor and 12 miles of beach for long walks plus gluten free brownies and beer at Beaches Turks and Caicos.
  • Health bar with yummy fruit smoothies, an Olympic size pool for laps and breezy oceanfront verandah suites with plantation shutters at Couples Swept Away in Jamaica.
  • Pilates, spinning and decadent crème brulee at The Royal in Playa Del Carmen.
  • Water aerobics, scuba diving and wakeboarding plus low cal and gluten free choices at Café de Paris and a 90 minute East Indian spa treatment at Sandals Whitehouse.

By watching portions, staying active and choosing wisely I’ve returned from dozens of all inclusive resort vacations with nary an extra pound. You can do it too, so happy travels!

 

 

 

Which Resorts Offer Free Weddings?


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With the cost, stress and hassle of getting married stateside increasing every year, many brides are looking to cut their costs and stress levels and get married in Mexico or the Caribbean.  I can’t say I blame them, as it is pretty hard to turn down a free wedding in tropical paradise!  Yes, I said free.  Sandals Couples Only All Inclusive Resorts which are on the islands of Great Exuma, Nassau, Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, St. Lucia and Antigua offer free weddings to couples without having to book a particular room category or stay for 7 nights. There are no room category restrictions at Sandals and the minimum night stay for the free wedding is only 3 nights.

The resorts take care of everything from flower details to decorations etc. and you can customize your own wedding through Sandals Wedding design website.  You will be given a personal wedding coordinator to work with when you first reserve your wedding space and then when you arrive on property, you will also be assigned a personal wedding coordinator who will hold your hand through the entire process and make sure your dream wedding comes true!  Because there are so many Sandals properties and each couple has different things on their wish list and their own budget requirements, we suggest these steps when you start the planning process:

  • Reach out and give us a call (-1-800-321-7907), shoot us a quick email, or Request A Quote on our website. Let us know your dates of travel, budget, originating city if you need help with air, what things are on your wish list and the target budget you would like to stay under.

We will use our experience at the resorts (we have been to all of them and travel to them often) to match up some of the better options given your wish list, time of year you are travelling and budget.

  • Once you have picked the perfect resort for your wedding, we will get you booked and help you reserve your desired wedding date and time. We will put you in touch with your Sandals Wedding consultant and act as your advocate should you need additional assistance in any way.

Your Sandals wedding consultant will set up a planning session and go over all the legal requirements for getting married (varies with each island) and help you get all that in order.  Then they will help you customize your wedding to make your wedding day and details just how you want them.

  • You arrive at the resort, all relaxed and ready for your special day! Your onsite wedding coordinator will take care of everything for you.  No worries!!

It just takes these three easy steps to plan a free destination wedding.  If you have guests, we can set up group codes for your guests as well. If you want something more elaborate than the basic wedding which is included, you can opt for a fancier package or add things to the basic package. Since Sandals are “Couples Only” Resorts, if you have families with children who might want to share in your special day, then Beaches Family All Inclusive Resorts would make an excellent choice and also offer the same free destination weddings as Sandals Resorts.

Other resorts in the Caribbean or Mexico that offer free weddings require at least 7 nights booked in a specific room category or higher in order to receive the complimentary wedding. This is never the entry level room category so you end up spending more money to save money.  Resorts like Secrets “Adult Only” Resorts or Dreams Family Resorts offer this option, so if you had planned on staying in a nicer room category for 7 nights anyway, these resorts are still a good option in addition to Sandals.  Otherwise, most resorts have basic wedding packages that start around $850 USD, but to get a free wedding, take a look at Sandals or family friendly all inclusive Beaches Resorts.  They often run promos that give you a $1000 Weddingmoon credit. So you get the free basic wedding ($500) and an extra $500 that you can use towards specific things related to your wedding/honeymoon. Government fees vary depending on the island, but you can even use part of your Weddingmoon credit towards your government fees at Sandals. Sandals Resorts run promos all the time and we can help you take advantage of any current promo that comes along.  Our job is to work with you to help find the best Sandals Resort for your wedding and provide counsel and guidance throughout the entire process. Free is great, but we also want your special day to be everything you dreamed it would be without stress and worry.

So if you are thinking about the possibility of a destination wedding, give us a call (800-321-7907) or send a quick email.  We have three Sandals Specialists in the office and we all work with weddings all the time.  We do not charge any additional fees to use our services and we would be both happy and honored to help plan your special day.

 

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