Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Most Excellent Newlywed Gift Idea

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A Most Memorable Christmas Gift To Each Other –
Newlywed 1

 

I just received an email from a new bride. I had helped with the Honeymoon to St lucia earlier this year so naturally she turned to me for another idea. This is just so cool – had not heard of doing this before, but I LOVE the idea. In her own words, here is part of what she wrote me…

“instead of Christmas presents this year we would each plan out a vacation idea to present to one another and then decide on which one to take. We have to do a whole presentation with every detail planned, including little things like how we get to airport and where we eat and what we do (of course we won’t have to follow the plan exactly when we actually take the vacation, its just to give the other a big picture idea of what we could do). So we each get to plan whatever kind of vacation we want for whatever date we want in 2012 and then whichever one we agree on on Christmas morning we will then book as our Christmas present”

How much fun is that? Great idea, huh?

Give the gift of a memory that will last – give the gift of an experience to share together – give the gift of an adventure – give the gift of travel….

If this sounds like a great idea to you too, and you would like a little help with the process – turn to “Your friends….in the travel business” – EZTravelPad is here to help!

What are the Most Popular Honeymoon Destinations Today?

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Blog, Caribbean, Dining, Honeymoons and Weddings, Luxury, Mexico, Romance | No Comments

Is the most popular choice the right choice for YOU?

With so many choices for Honeymoons these days, how do you know what is the right choice for you?

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is it about the perfect sunset photo shoot on the perfect beach?

 

Caribbean? – Hawaii? – Mexico? – Florida? – South Pacific? – Europe?

There are many, many possibilities for destinations to choose from when you are thinking about your Honeymoon or Destination Wedding, and there are many factors to consider-

  • How much time can you afford?
  • What do you want to experience?
  • How does budget play into it?
  • Do you need a passport?
  • What about safety?
  • Resort – Tour or Cruise?

EZTravelPad can help you quickly narrow down your choices to the most suitable, and offer you expert advice as to what else you should be thinking about – after all, an expert knows more- right?

So what are the most popular choices for Honeymoons these days?

Well, in my experience the vast majority of couples that I talk to want to experience something unique- something that neither of them have experienced before so that they can make new memories together, and in general it is usually ranked something like this-

  1. Tropical – Romantic – Beach
  2. Cruise
  3. Close to home – a romantic Bed & Breakfast 2-8 hour drive from home
  4. Tour Europe

So let’s look today at #1 – Tropical resort This can mean Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, South Pacific, somewhere even more exotic…

By far – about 80% of EZTravelPad clients choose either Caribbean or Mexico. Many people make their selection based on preconceived ideas about safety – affordability – beauty – status.

Obviously safety is a paramount concern. Nothing is more important to EZTravelPad – and all of our travel partners – than your safety! Many people see negative press about Mexico or specific Caribbean islands and rule them out. I am not here to change anyone’s mind – I am here to help you make the best choice possible given your particular wants, needs and desires. I happen to love Mexico, and the value that it presents to the US traveler, so would urge you to consider it – or if not, then it’s a really big world with plenty of other choices!

Budget & Value-

Sometimes price and value are confused. At EZtravelPad we always strive to acheive the maximum value for our clients. One of the best ways to acheive MAX value is by selecting an all-inclusive resort. Most all-inclusive resorts are located in-

  • Cancun / Riviera Maya area of Mexico
  • Jamaica
  • Dominican Republic

At an all-inclusive resort (and there is a very wide variety ranging from budget to luxury) typically food and beverages plus entertainment and non-motorized water sports are included in the price.

Some resorts – such as Sandals Resorts also include motorized water sports such as water sking & scuba diving- even golf….unlimited! Sandals Resorts are very good and are located in Jamaica, Bahamas, St Lucia and Antigua

Palace Resorts are another great choice. Palace Resorts are located in Dominican Republic and throughout many areas of Mexico. Palace offers $1500 in resort credits that can be used for scuba, tours, spa, romantic dinners, golf & more. This is a great value and allows MAX flexibility & choice!

There are some other great choices as well…

BUT– all-inclusive resorts are not necessarily for everyone. If you are the type that wants to get out and experience the destination to it’s fullest – meet the people – eat the food – live the culture, then an all inclusive resort experience is probably not the best choice. If you are the type who likes fine dining offering tremendous choice and is not afraid to pay for it, then a more “Americanized’ resort may be your best option, and they exist EVERYWHERE.

You may be interested in a destination like Hawaii or South Pacific or Europe where all inclusive resorts simply do not exist – no worries, at EZTravelPad we are completely familiar with all types of EP resorts- from high-rise in Hawaii to private-island in French Polynesia. Consider this- will the OTA (online travel agency such as Expedia, Orbitz, etc) personally email the sales manager at the resort and let them know to expect you – and what to expect from you? Unlikely

Choice

So is your Honeymoon or Destination Wedding all about the beach?

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the party?

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the food?

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the tranquility?

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the adventure?

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the spa?

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the service?

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the destination?

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the room?

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How you answer those questions plays a very important role in determining which will be your best choice, and it is very difficult (if not impossible) to make the right choice based on the price and photos you find on the internet.

Adults Only vs Family Friendly

Often times Honeymoon couples want their Honeymoon experience to take place at an adults only resort. There are great options here, and again, Sandals leaps to mind as they are exclusively for adult couples only. Honeymoon couples make up the majority of guests at a Sandals Resort. Sometimes, particularly if a Destination Wedding involves children, then the adults only aspect is not possible. in that case there are still many, many choices- but I want to suggest that a primary concern at that point should be service – you want your most important vacation to go flawlessly and a more service oriented (and often higher end) resort may be the best choice.

How Can You Make The Most Informed Decision?

Here is the best advice you will receive- work with a travel professional….especially a travel pro that specializes in Romance Travel. In most cases the cost will be the same as you would achieve doing things yourself on the internet or going directly to the resort/airline/cruiseline….plus you will most certainly experience a higher grade of service and impartial advice to help you make the best choice.

Experience

Experience can mean many things. Is someone who has worked behind a desk for 20+ years your best source for feedback? Is your cousin, who went to Jamaica on her Honeymoon the best source for info? My belief is that experience is best when it’s broad, and part of that broad base of experience is only achieved by getting out and seeing – getting out and experiencing destinations and resort brands first hand – on the ground.

I have personally spent 33 days out of country this year alone- in 5 different countries – 8 different islands – visiting well over 60 different resorts, all in an effort to help my clients make the best choice possible when it comes to THEIR most important vacation. It’s hard work, but it is so rewarding!

At EZTravelPad we work with select wholesale vacation packagers – and directly with resorts to insure that you achieve the best possible value AND service. Work with a travel pro that you trust, that knows the destinations, and that understands what it is that you are trying to experience. At EZTravelPad we like to think of ourselves as “Your friends….in the travel business” – so when it’s time to make your plans make the call or send the email – you’ll be glad that you did.

 

St Regis Resort in Bora Bora, French Polynesia – a Review

By | Honeymoons and Weddings, Luxury, Romance, South Pacific | No Comments

St Regis – The Name Says it All

There are few brand names in the world that evoke images of  quality, elegance and opulence the way that St Regis does. For over 100 years and since it was opened by one of America’s wealthiest men, John Jacob Astor IV, The St Regis Hotel in New York has been one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

St Regis became a Sheraton in 1966, then Sheraton was acquired by Starwood in 1998 and it wasn’t long before Starwood began expanding the brand worldwide. One St Regis brand resort – the St Regis Bora Bora in French Polynesia, has an entrance and view that may be familiar – ever see the mediocre flick “Couples Retreat”?

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Truly one of the most impressive views in the world as the sun sets over the Island of Bora Bora….

This was the view that Vince Vaughn & company took in as they first arrived at their resort renamed “Eden” in the film.

You may remember some of the other shots in this post since various locations were used in the filming, so if staying in a resort that was used as the backdrop is a bonus for you, this place may be for you.

 

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This private “plunge” pool is a part of the villa where a little known couple recently Honeymooned- I think they said their names were Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman if I remember correctly – perhaps you’ve heard of them?

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The private patio pictured above and below are also part of this luxury villa that is available if your pockets are very, very deep….

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The St Regis in Bora Bora is one of over a dozen St Regis properties worldwide that stretch from New York to Aspen to Bora Bora to Abu Dhabi and beyond.

After visiting several luxury resorts throughout French Polynesia I have had time to reflect on my thoughts regarding St Regis Bora Bora. Actually my feelings are mixed.

I suppose I think that St Regis Bora Bora has one of the most impressive views in the world, but equally impressive are the Four Seasons and Le Meridien located in close proximity

I also think that the St Regis sported the largest and most luxurious overwater bungalows that I visited (pictured below)

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I also am confident that the bathrooms in the overwater bungalows (pictured below) were the most luxurious and offered a view of Mt Otemanu from the tub and shower-

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I know that the buffet offered on the night of their Polynesian Show was impressive

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I may never again drink from a prettier coconut…

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Overall is is difficult to poke holes in a tried and true luxury experience- From the Jean-Georges restaurant on site named Lagoon – to the view – to the grounds – to the bungalows, St Regis exudes luxury and status – yet, I was left a little cold.

Our small group of travel agents were treated like Kings at every other resort we visited throughout French Polynesia. We were wined and dined by the managers at nearly every resort we visited… world-class resorts, some with equally world-class reputations, but not at St Regis. Although we enjoyed the completely engaging company of a lovely associate, upper management was curiously absent. Although we enjoyed a wonderful Polynesian buffet, the Polynesian show was substandard compared to other shows we enjoyed elsewhere.

So is St Regis somewhere I would recommend to a client? Probably

Would St Regis Bora Bora be a good choice for a Destination Wedding? Of course, and they are kid friendly

Would St Regis Bora Bora be a good choice for a Honeymoon or Romantic celebration? Absolutely – the price will keep most families away and it is a completely lovely destination with world-class services and amenities

So my humble advice is this- If value is your motive there are better choices in French Polynesia.

If you want to stay away from the Riff-Raff (as if there were any riff-raff in French Polynesia) then this might be a good choice….until Octomom or The Kardashians decide they need a vacation…..then all bets are OFF

In any case just remember that EZTravelPad is here to help you sort it all out

Awesome Breakfast Spot in Cancun’s Hotel Zone

By | Blog, Dining, Mexico, Travel Tips | No Comments

Breakfast at the Dolphin Aquarium in Cancun

 

awesome breakfast 1

 

It’s tough to beat a leisurely breakfast at a great restaurant – or a good restaurant in a great location. I’m not sure I have been anywhere quite this good before. Imagine sipping your morning coffee on a bright, warm but comfortable morning in paradise –

now imagine that you are spending your morning breakfast just a few meters away from the dolphin experience at Cancun’s Interactive Aquarium

 

See the video to get a look

 

The Juga de Limon is located at the La Isla Shopping Center along the “7” in the hotel zone of Cancun, Mexico. It’s hard to believe that a good breakfast (full breakfast) in such a great location is available for only $10.50..try it – you will not be disappointed.

When you are ready for more tips and insights into making your vacation the best that it can be, check with EZTravelpad – we are here to help (oh, and there’s also that best price guarantee thingy…)

Karisma’s El Dorado Royale Resort & Spa – a Review

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Caribbean, Honeymoons and Weddings, Mexico, Romance | No Comments

El Dorado Royale- Reviewing an Adults-only All-Inclusive Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico

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Recently I had occasion to spend a few days with my wife at El Dorado Royale, an adults only all inclusive resort south of Cancun, Mexico along the Mayan Riviera – or Riviera Maya. The verdict? Very good – read on for more of the review……..

El Dorado Royale is conveniently located only about 25 minutes from the international airport in Cancun and is comprised of 2 sections – El Dorado Royale and El Dorado Casitas. The 171 Casita suites are larger and feature private plunge pools and swim-up pools as well as mostly being located in closer proximity to the beach. Interested in experiencing a luxury suite with an outdoor shower? This may be right for you!

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Casita Suite at El Dorado

El Dorado Royale features 476 suites that all include 2 person in room jacuzzi tubs. There is no separation between the two resorts in one, all guests are welcome to use the facilities, bars and restaurants in either section.

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Jacuzzi Jr Suite at El Dorado

El Dorado is the adults-only brand of Karisma resorts, a resort chain that also includes the family friendly brand – Azul.

The adults only nature of this all inclusive resort makes it a perfect destination for Honeymoon couples and a great place for a Destination Wedding if there will be no children involved

Since I specialize in Honeymoons and Destination Weddings this was much more a business trip than a vacation (although I did celebrate a significant birthday while there). We spent alot of time checking out the wide variety of restaurants, bars and entertainment options. The highlight? Cuisine

Gourmet Inclusive

Karisma Resorts market themselves as “Gourmet Inclusive” meaning that they pay particular attention to the details of both food and beverages offered. With 10 restaurants and 13 bars (10 of them are swim-up bars) you certainly don’t need to go far to satisfy whatever appetite you have – and the quality of the offerings is quite good. In fact, many of the vegetables and herbs served are grown right on the property in a series of greenhouses that offer a plentiful wealth of organic food choices. Locally grown just doesn’t get any more local than this! BTW- I recommend checking out the tequila tastings – I never even knew that there was a tequila that was almost like Bailey’s Irish Cream!

Video

See more of El Dorado in this short video tour from our trip

Pools and Entertainment

With a wide variety of water sports, tennis courts, complimentary bicycles and 13 swimming pools you are certain to find plenty to do – and that doesn’t even mention the activities that are abundant – from water volleyball to water polo and plenty of other diversions, boredom is not an option- but relaxing sure is (had a couple of mid-afternoon naps and loved it).

In considering the service, quality, amenities and price I would have to rate this as one of my favorite resort stays. Sure, there were a few hiccups, there always are – but the attention to detail and willingness of the staff to go the extra mile was evident on a daily basis. A couple of the meals and dining experiences were only above average, others were very, very good.

So what does it mean to go the extra mile? Like I mentioned, I did celebrate a birthday while there, and that afternoon not only did I return to a drawn bubble bath with rose petals floating – but I also found this on the bed…

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So is this the right resort for everyone? Of course not. So how do you know if it’s the right resort for you? Ask your travel professional. If you don’t have one then give EZTravelPad a call – we would love to hear from you and we would love to help!