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Island Hopping between Anguilla and Antigua in the Caribbean


CapSnorkelTrip

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Many of our honeymoon clients want to island hop between islands in the Caribbean which isn’t always as logistically and financially easy as it seems. One nice and easy combination is Anguilla and Antigua. Anguilla has unbelievable white sand beaches and has some very luxurious and romantic resorts like Cap Juluca. Cap Juluca is where I sent one couple looking to start their honeymoon off with that “picture postcard” idyllic beach destination. You can either fly into St. Maarten and ferry over to Anguilla or fly straight into AXA.

Then after staying a few nights on the gorgeous island of Anguilla, you can just grab a hopper flight on LIAT to Antigua from Anguilla and then return to the U.S. from Antigua. This particular couple wanted to spend the last nine nights of their honeymoon in a more social all inclusive couples only atmosphere so they picked Sandals Grande Antigua. On Antigua you have lots of “off resort” activities and sites to see like the historical Nelson’s Dockyard and English Harbour which you can see if you take our favorite tour on Antigua that takes you completely around the island by boat with stops for swimming with rays, snorkeling and more. It is a perfect way to cap off a special anniversary or tropical honeymoon vacation.

Here is a quick look at my client’s feedback on both Cap Juluca and Sandals Grande Antigua:

Thank you, our wedding day was absolutely perfect! And our honeymoon was truly amazing…thank you so very much for all of your help!!

We loved both resorts, but Cap Juluca was definitely our favorite. The beach there was just unreal. I have never seen such crystal clear and calm water and white sand for such a far stretch of beach. It was breathtaking. We were updated to a second-story luxury room (I’m sure thanks to you!) and it was truly amazing. I went to sleep to the sound of the ocean and woke up to bright blue water outside my window/private patio. We ended up renting a car while we were in Anguilla and enjoyed exploring the tiny, beautiful island it is. We are in love – Cap Juluca is now our “special place” – the island is almost like a secret…it’s so gorgeous and not crowded. The only downside was that we couldn’t really eat for under $100, so we felt like we couldn’t order as many drinks as we wanted, since it was expensive.

Sandals Grande Antigua was fun because while we got to rest and relax on quiet Anguilla, we got to have a little more fun on Antigua. We met more couples and had fun eating and drinking way too much since it was all included! While the beach was beautiful as well, it didn’t compare to Cap Juluca.

Thanks again for your advice, work, and help, Patty. Our honeymoon was perfect! Lisa & Ben

Another solid island combination for couples seeking both a romantic and quiet ambiance, combined with an active tropical experience are the islands of St. Lucia and Grenada. Both have “Couples Only” All Inclusive Resorts which include all your water activities and provide a romantic, yet social setting. The beautiful island of St Lucia offers three Sandals Resorts where you have lots of fun active activities like ziplines, ATV, hiking, waterfalls etc. and in December Sandals will be opening a new resort called La Source on the peaceful and tranquil island of Grenada. So if the idea of a quiet peaceful setting for a few days paired with a more active experience is the combination you are looking for, give us a call and we can work through a few island combinations that fit nicely together and meet your expectations.

We have three Caribbean Specialists in the office and all three of us are also Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club Agents. We visit the islands and the resorts every year to keep updated and do not charge any extra fees for our services. You can view some of our packages on our website www.totemtravel.com , but please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-321-7907. We are happy to help!

 

YS Falls And Other Popular Tours From Sandals Whitehouse


Then off to fun playing in the falls

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I just returned from another trip to Sandals Whitehouse which sits all by itself on the South Coast of Jamaica. I often have clients that are looking for this type of secluded area, but are worried about not having enough things to do “off the resort”. I can tell you there are plenty of things to do from Sandals Whitehouse and one of the more popular tours is YS Falls which is only 45 minutes from the resort.

My husband and I chose the YS Falls/Zipline Tour because the Black River area was closed. This tour was not only a highlight of our trip and very fun, but I thought the $71 per person tour price was an exceptionally good deal considering zipline tours all by themselves are usually in the $80 per person range. My only hesitation was that I’m really scared of heights, but I decided to go for it and go outside my comfort zone. Wow, I’m so glad I did.

We were picked up at Sandals Whitehouse at around 9am and had a fun tour guide that we called “Mommy”. As we made the 45 minute drive to YS Falls, she taught us a little Patoi (language Jamaicans speak in addition to English), let us know about the little parishes we passed through and gave us a general overview of the area.

Once we arrived, we got suited up in zipline apparel and the guides went over the safety information so we all felt very safe and excited to get going! The first zipline takes you directly across the top of the falls. Again, for me this was the scariest because I’m not only scared of heights, but had never done anything like this before. The second line is fun because you bounce through the jungle up to the spot where you are now at the top of YS Falls. Let’s just say, the third zipline is worth the whole trip. You basically zipline all the way down the falls and it is so thrilling. There are two more short zips you make before offloading your gear and moving on to the waterfalls. You get to jump in the falls, rope swing in, and basically just enjoy some time in the beautiful setting. This tour is great! You are back by 2pm and ready to eat lunch.

A tour many guests were raving about when I was there was Floyd’s Pelican Bar Tour. Sounds like a blast and is probably the most popular tour from Sandals Whitehouse, so you may want to pre book this tour before you leave. An Island Routes boat takes you from the pier about 45 minutes out to Floyd’s Pelican Bar which is on a sandspit in the middle of the sea. You are fed a lobster and fish feed and get to enjoy drinks and music. There are also stingrays to swim with. Everyone who came off the boat had huge smiles on their faces, so another tour you might not want to miss.

Other fun “off resort” activities from Sandals Whitehouse are the Appleton Rum Estate Tour (who doesn’t like a rum tour), horseback riding and if you are interested in immersing yourself in the local community, they even offer the Reading Road Trip tour for $20. Basically your $20 gets donated to a local school and you get to go take over a local classroom for a bit and read to the kids.

When you add in all the fun activities included at the resort (ie. Water skiing, snorkeling, diving, paddle boards, windsurfing, sailboats, kayaks etc.), you will not be bored. We are here to help with both choosing the best Sandals Resort for you and help with off resort tours as well. Just give us a call at 1-800-321-7907 and ask for Patty, Linda or Sandi.

 

New all inclusive Couples Resort open on Dover Beach In Barbados


Couples Resorts which is a family owned chain that operates four “couples only” all inclusive resorts on the island of Jamaica has opened a Couples Resort on the island of Barbados. Couples is the first “adult only” all inclusive resort on the gorgeous island of Barbados. Couples Resorts International took over the Almond Casuarina Beach Resort located on 10 acres on the white sand Dover Beach late last year. The Almond Resort had been operating as a family all inclusive resort on the island of Barbados and now as of May 31, 2013, it officially COUPLES BARBADOS!

Couples Barbados spent quite a bit of money to transition the resort from kid friendly to “romance” friendly. Changes were made to the pools, rooms, dining areas and spa which combined with the stunning white beach and turquoise water should be a big hit with couples looking to getaway to another romantic destination. Like the Couples Resorts in Jamaica, water activities such as diving and snorkeling will be included and some fun tours like guided hike to see the green monkeys, swimming with sea turtles, a visit to Oisten’s Fish Fry etc. will be offered as well.

Couples Resorts is currently offering a fantastic promotion for those who are travelling between June 15, 2013 and January 1, 2014. If you stay 7 nights, you get an instant $1000 Air Credit which is a straight discount off your room. On this current promo, an oceanfront room during summer 2013 is only $2311 for 7 nights! Or if you can only stay 5 or 6 nights, you still get a $500 Air Credit.

Barbados has always been a hidden gem in the Caribbean and popular with beach and water lovers alike. Air service on American Airlines is fairly affordable from most U.S. cities. With Sandals “Couples Only” All Inclusive Resorts opening a new Sandals in Grenada and Couples Resorts in Barbados, I’m excited to have two new fun and romantic destinations to recommend.

We have three Caribbean, Couples and Sandals Specialists in the office and we are happy to help you choose the best destination for your special trip to a tropical destination. Give us a call at 1-800-321-7907 or you can request a quote form on our website at www.totemtravel.com and we will get in contact with you via email. Happy Travels

 

 

Best spot for a small destination wedding Victoria House Belize!


Victoria House Wedding (1)

Destination Weddings are growing in popularity and there are so many fantastic destinations to choose from. Some of the more popular destination wedding venues are Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean, Couples Resorts in Jamaica and various “adult only” properties in Mexico. But if you want a unique destination and are planning a smaller wedding (5-20 guests), then you might want to consider Belize and specifically Victoria House Resort on the island of Ambergris Caye.

Last year I sent clients of mine to check out Belize and Victoria House specifically, as a possible option for their destination. They came back so excited about the resort and the island, so we proceeded to get them booked. Victoria House offers a variety of accommodations for guests from basic hotel room type options, to casita suites and even several villas with multiple bedrooms with private plunge pools and kitchens. When you pick a smaller boutique resort like Victoria House, you get a very personal atmosphere where everyone knows your name on the first day. The service is amazing and my client’s wedding day and all the details were totally taken care of by the Victoria House staff. They were happy to be able to relax and be laid back on their big day, knowing everyone was taken care of just as they wanted. Here are their comments once back from Belize:

The wedding and accommodations at Victoria House exceeded our expectations. Victoria house was able to accommodate our every request, especially Tony’s mom who likes to cook her own food (even on vacation, so it was nice to have the kitchen). Javier was a great coordinator and made sure that everything we wanted or had requested was taken care of. The wedding was laid back and pretty much stress free. (Except for when it rained in the morning but it cleared up quick.) Two hours before the wedding and we were still lounging by the pool. =)

Everyone had a great time and we can’t thank you enough for helping us with all the arrangements! You are truly awesome! Melissa and Tony

Like most resorts in Belize, Victoria House is not an all inclusive resort so if you are looking for a resort that is not all inclusive, this destination is a great choice. The island has a tiny town called San Pedro which is home to many great local dining establishments. There are very few cars on the island so most people either walk or get around by golf carts!

A few other reasons to get married in Belize are:

  1. It is easy (no blood test required like Mexico)
  2. Documents are in English
  3. From an activity standpoint, Belize is home to some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world, as well as Mayan ruins, jungle caves etc. located in the interior of Belize.

We work with clients from all over the country with all kinds of budgets and wish lists for their dream destination wedding. Give us a call at 1-800-321-7907 or you can email us by filling out a Request A Quote form on our website www.totemtravel.com . We have destination specialists for many parts of the world and we are happy to use our expertise to help you get the experience you want and at the best price!

 

Top 10 Spots for a Honeymoon include Europe, Hawaii & Caribbean


Greece

According to US News Travel Section, the top ten spots for a honeymoon in 2013 are Europe with 5 cities in the top 10 list, the Caribbean with 3 islands on the list and Hawaii with 2 islands in the top 10 honeymoon list.

#1 this year is Santorini, Greece followed closely by Maui, Hawaii. Greece and the Hawaiian islands have always been popular destinations for honeymooners and have consistently been in the top ten honeymoon lists. Crete bursts in on the scene and grabbed the third spot followed by another Hawaiian Island, Kauai. Rounding out the top ten honeymoon spots in 5th and 6th place are two other exciting cities in Italy, Florence and Venice. Both European cities are very romantic and remain popular each year. Florence and Venice are followed by some stunning islands in the Caribbean, Turks & Caicos, Martinique and St. Martin-St. Maarten.

A top ten honeymoon list could not be complete without the always romantic and popular, Paris France. What a way to complete the top ten! If none of these destinations appeal, we have lots of other suggestions including an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, adult only resort in Fiji, all inclusive resort in St. Lucia or a treehouse in  Belize  to name a few. We have specialists and packages available for all these destinations and work with honeymooners every day.

Our destination specialists  can help you find the best spot for your honeymoon at all budget levels, so just give us a call at 1-800-321-7907 or you can fill out a request a quote. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Destination Wedding at Dreams Villamagna All Inclusive Resort


Dreams Villamagna Wedding Photo 2

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Many brides struggle with the desire to have the beautiful destination wedding that they have always dreamed of while maintaining the hope of having all their friends and family in attendance. Sometimes it seems impossible to have both. The reality usually sinks in after they have picked their destination and it comes time for guests to start booking their flights and accommodations to attend the wedding.

I work with these brides every day and one year ago started working with a wonderful couple from Seattle that took my advice about planning a destination wedding  that not only met their dreams, but would be easy and comfortable financially for all their friends and family. As it turned out, they ended up having more friends and family than they expected and as you can see in the third photo in the slideshow, a good time was had by all.

This particular couple picked Dreams Villamagna All Inclusive Resort in Riviera Nayarit just north of Puerto Vallarta. For couples from the westcoast, Puerto Vallarta is easy to reach by air and not too expensive. Dreams Villamagna has some of the features of a high end luxurious resort without the high price tag. All the rooms are suites and very spacious and it is common for the resort to offer “Resort Credits” to be used for spa services, wine upgrades etc. For folks that will have guests who have children, The Dreams Resorts allow children and have supervised kids programs so everyone is happy!

The folks at Dreams will work with you on all the details/documentation you need for your ceremony and once you arrive, all the paperwork will be done and they will step you through the next step of the process, your ceremony! There are various venues at the resort to choose from for your wedding and your wedding coordinator at the resort will take care of every little detail, right down to the napkins and place settings. So you don’t have to worry about any of those things and can enjoy the resort and your guests leading up to the ceremony.

Please call or email if we can help with ideas to make your dream destination wedding a reality. In addition to Mexico we work with all inclusive resorts throughout the Caribbean, Fiji and Tahiti and have specialists on staff for all the most popular honeymoon destinations.

 

Sandals Caye – Private Offshore Island


Sandals Caye
Click here for more photos of  Sandals Caye

I just got back from Sandals Royal Bahamian and had a great time.  I spent my entire last day on Sandals Caye which is the private offshore island from Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort.  You access the island via a boat the resort operates every 30 minutes.  A schedule is posted at the pier.

Café Goombay on the island is open for lunch between 11am-3pm and you can also dine in the evening a couple days a week from 6:30pm-8:30pm.  I was lucky to get to have dinner over on the island one evening and with the candles and lighting, the atmosphere was magical and very romantic.  Loved it!

The reason I chose to spend my last precious hours at Sandals Royal Bahamian out of the island is because thanks to a hurricane in 2011, the island’s back side now has an amazing white sand beach.  Another man-made improvement since the hurricane is that Sandals put in these new sexy red and brown lounge chairs around the pool.  If you think you can just sit for a second, forget about it.  These new chairs are extremely comfortable.   Sandals has also put in a large amount of beach beds so if you want to cozy up on one of those either in the gardens on island or beachside, you shouldn’t have trouble getting space on one.  You can also arrange to have a spa treatment out on the islandJ

I really like how spread out the various sun/beach spots are on the island, as it is much bigger than the private offshore island at Sandals Royal Caribbean, so you are able to enjoy some space and privacy.  If you have your own snorkel gear, make sure you bring it over to the island with you, as there is some fantastic snorkeling off the back side of the island.  I found out that you can’t just check out the equipment at the water sports desk and take it over, but hopefully this is a policy that will change.

Along with the new renovations made at the Balmoral Tower, Sandals Caye is an excellent reason to choose Sandals Royal Bahamian.  And there is even a new dolphin encounter going in on Sandals Caye so booking a dolphin encounter will easy!

I often have clients ask for my help choosing the best Sandals,  and if having a romantic offshore island is on your wish list, then Sandals Royal Bahamian just might be the best Sandals for you.  We have three Sandals Specialists in the office, so give us a call at 1-800-321-7907, and we will help you find the best one for your next special trip.  Just ask for Patty, Sandi or Linda.

Updates at Royal Davui Island – Fiji



Click here for more photos of Royal Davui – Fiji

Royal Davui is one of our favorite private island resorts in Fiji. The island resort is all about romance, luxury, gorgeous architecturally designed private vales (villas) with plunge pools and quiet island life in the Fijian islands. Royal Davui is the perfect locations for a special anniversary, honeymoon or much needed escape if your budget allows.

As one of the top agencies selling Fiji in the United States, we are often visited by the remote island owners and managers whom we have strong professional relationship with. It’s great to see them every year so we can give them our client feedback on their resort and see what is new on their island. Chris Southwick from Royal Davui recently stopped by and had some exciting news!

The Deluxe Vales now have heated plunge pools, so both Deluxe and Premium Vales have the heated pools. This leaves the only difference, size of vale (the Premium Vales are a little bigger) and the Premium Vales have the sunset view.

Royal Davui has created a new “Love Shack” on the island which can be reserved for any couple wanting a private area with open air daybed nestled into the hillside with a wonderful view of the sea.

Finally, the last bit of big news from Royal Davui is that the ever popular “Sand Spit Picnic” can now be pre-booked as part of a romance package with spa treatments and sulus. There are only two times of year that the Sand Spit cannot be accessed, but now you can be assured of getting to experience this wonderful, private and romantic escape during your stay.

We have two Fiji Matai Specialists in the office so just give either Linda or Patty a call at 1-800-321-7907. Or you can email Linda at linda@totemtravel.com for more information about Royal Davui and other Fijian Island Resorts. You can also view our blogs, reviews and sample packages on our website at www.totemtravel.com We are happy to help you discover the magic of this fabulous destination.

Where To Zipline On Your Vacation


For most people on vacation, a white sand beach and crystal blue water isn’t the only thing on their wish list. Add to that list, fancy pools with swim up bars, good food, cultural experiences and fun activities to nearby. One of the more popular activities that clients always ask me about is ziplining.

Where in the Caribbean, Mexico or the world can you Zipline? Well, there are many fantastic destinations that have ziplines available nearby. Let’s start with Mexico. You can zipline in Puerto Vallarta which is located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The Ziplines in Puerto Vallarta are located up in the hillside jungle and lots of fun. On the Caribbean side of Mexico, a fun spot to Zip Line is on Isla Mujeres where you can zipline over the ocean at Garrafon Park. There are also many spots to zipline south of Cancun if you are staying in the Playa Del Carmen or Tulum area. Combine a nice all inclusive family vacation at a resort like the Iberostar Quetzal with a zipline/Mayan ruin excursion and you will have great memories to last a lifetime.

Heading south of the Yucatan into the countries of Belize and Costa Rica you can zipline in Belize from resorts located in the interior area of the Cayo District. Or in Costa Rica activities like ziplining can be found in the Arenal area where there are some amazing resorts with gorgeous views of the Arenal Volcano. Be sure to travel sometime between November and April when the weather is at its best!

The Caribbean is full of islands with zip lines and some of the more popular islands for honeymoons that have zip lines are Jamaica, St. Lucia and Antigua just to name a few. Combine a nice honeymoon stay at one of the many romantic Sandals Resorts with a fun zipline tour and you will have the perfect honeymoon. In Jamaica, you can zipline at Mystic Mountain in the Ocho Rios area. In St. Lucia you have Treetop Adventures or in Antigua, the very popular 12 ziplines and rope bridge. You can find the cost of ziplining in the Caribbean on the website for Island Routes.

The Fijian Islands are quickly becoming a favorite destination for honeymooners and families who want to avoid hurricane season in the northern hemisphere. May through October is the best time to travel to the South Pacific and yes, you can zip line in Fiji! 🙂

The adventurous can also zipline in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Or you can do the famous “bridge climb” in Sydney. These are just some of the most popular destinations where you can zipline, but there are still more. Let us know if you need help with your trip planning and don’t forget to ask us about ziplines! We have three destination specialists in our office, so just indicate what part of the world you are interested in by filling out a request a quote form on our website and we’ll get back to you!

 

Review Of Couples Tower Isle in Jamaica



Click here for a slideshow of Couples Tower Isle in Jamaica

Couples Tower Isle is a popular choice for couples looking for an All Inclusive getaway at an affordable price. The resort is a Traveller’s Choice Award Winner for 2012 and is one of four Couples Resorts  in Jamaica.

If you are looking for a no frills “couples only” all inclusive with good food quality, more than two dining choices and are willing to give up the luxuries like a Jacuzzi tub in your room, butler service etc., then this resort might be for you. The main difference I noticed between the rooms at Couples Tower Isle and a resort like a Sandals Resort, is you have fewer room categories at Couples and each room is decorated in a more basic chic/modern way in terms of furnishings. The walls have less artwork and there is a minimal amount of furniture etc., so the rooms are just more simple versus the traditional dark wood furniture you find at Sandals Resorts. You won’t find any four posted king size beds at Couples, but this becomes a “taste” issue and it is nice to have this more modern style as an option because some people might find it more appealing.

The other nice thing about Couples Tower Isle is the resort’s location in the Ocho Rios area. Most couples who choose Jamaica for their honeymoon or vacation travel do so because they want both beach time and a destination with lots of activities to do off the resort. Couples Tower Isle’s beach is smaller, but still very nice and you are only 10-20 minutes from a good portion of the most popular activities in Jamaica. Couples Tower Isle even includes many of these fun things to do such as, Dunns River Falls Tour, glass bottom boat tour, shopping excursion to Ocho Rios etc. Activities are scheduled each day of the week. If you want a resort with a long and gorgeous beach, you are far better off picking Couples Swept Away or Couples Negril which are both in the Negril area where it is all about the beach.

As far as dining options at Couples Tower Isle, you have several nice choices and the food is excellent. While there are no a la carte dining choices for breakfast, you have several nice options for dining in the evening. Eight Rivers, Bayside, The Patio and The Verandah are all good. Eight Rivers is the most formal and requires reservations as well as Bayside.

Another unique feature that Couples Tower Isle has is their private island which is for Au Naturel sunbathing. No gawkers allowed, as everyone who steps foot on the island must be au naturel. So if you are looking for this type of experience, Tower Isle is a great choice and one of a kind.

We always get calls asking which is the best Couples Resort? Which is the best Sandals Resort? Or which is better Secrets, Couples or Sandals and the answer is always, “that depends on what you are looking for” as they each have their unique qualities and there is always one resort that suits each couple best. We can help you find the best resort fits you as a couple and your special trip. Just give us a call at 1-800-321-7907. We know the resorts well and are happy to helpJ

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