Category Archives: Blog

Breeze through Immigrations next Vacation

By | Blog, Mexico, Travel Tips | No Comments

Don’t Miss Your Place in Line – Get to Immigrations quickly on your next trip

I see it just about every time I arrive in a foreign airport….people completing their immigrations forms that were incompletely filled out when they could have easily done so while on the plane – so to the back of the line they go!

What did they do wrong? Most of the time they simply failed to complete the bottom portion of the form – the part that gets detached by the immigrations officer and given back to them to hold onto until they depart the country

Here’s what the form looks like-

20140512_144847

 

Notice that there are 2 sections highlighted with the yellow border?

Many people make the mistake of completing the top portion, but not the bottom portion and they have to stop to complete before moving on to the immigrations line – dang paperwork!

So while you are on the flight, after the flight attendant has handed you the immigrations form to complete….read the instructions carefully and complete it entirely as instructed – each country’s is a little different, but this example from Mexico is pretty consistent – if you have questions ask your flight attendant or ask your seat neighbor and speed through the line quicker!

Oh – and don’t forget your EZTravelPad pen – you’ll need it because loaners are scarce!!

Just one more piece of advice from “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad

Loews Don CeSar Resort in St Pete – Perfect for a Destination Wedding in the U.S.

By | Blog, Honeymoons and Weddings, Luxury, Romance | One Comment

For a Destination Wedding at Florida’s Sunset Capital it’s Loews Don CeSar Beach Resort

Don CeSar Beach Resort – a Loews Hotel in St Pete Beach is a perfect spot for a U.S. based Destination Wedding. Stately, Classy, Gorgeous, and with a first class spa, this is a wonderful choice for discriminating couples interested in tying the knot beachside…

Don CeSar Exterior 1

If coming in with a low budget is something that you want to accomplish for your Destination Wedding then this might not be the first choice, but compared to other more modest resorts in the area Don CeSar is surprisingly affordable.

Your Destination Wedding is in Good Hands

When putting together a destination wedding there are a few things to think about- location & reputation, capabilities and quality. Don CeSar has you covered, with 3 wedding coordinators on staff preparing to host over 400 weddings this year, rest assured that you are in good hands. If the service and attention to detail is anything like I experienced there recently I couldn’t be anymore comfortable in suggesting this as a great spot to tie the knot.

Offering exemplary service at every turn, you will not be disappointed by the staff, by the facilities, or by the dining options….

don cesar 2
Flatbread topped with shredded island chicken, black bean spread & vegetables – Potato & plantain chips served with traditional guacamole and pineapple guacamole – Yum!

For some people a grilled chicken breast over a rice pilaf is just fine- others require something a bit more interesting. A more interesting menu is what you will find at Don CeSar, but is doesn’t stop there. The spa features 16 treatment rooms as well as a private deck overlooking the gulf – oh, and it smells like heaven when you walk through the door of the spa! Body toning water aerobics and beach yoga are complimentary for all guests.

Beach Resort = Beach + Pools

Beachside pools offer full service including complimentary refreshments (Italian ice, frozen grape kabobs, smoothies, chilled towels , etc) plus a full menu of activities include volleyball, beachball dodgeball, cannonball contest, and lots & lots of pool pampering are all in store for you if you stay for a few days.

Putting a Price on Service

How can you put a price on service? It’s the little things that mean so much – like the general manager stopping to have a chat – or walking into a restroom that smells of mint and eucalyptus – or being greeted by smiles from all the staff….lots and lots of staff can you put a price on that? Would you want your wedding celebration to be anywhere that offered less?

don cesar 3
view of Don Cesar from beachside – looking great from every angle

My reason for stopping into Don CeSar was to find a Destination Wedding and Honeymoon resort located in Florida that I could feel good about recommending. I found it. So if a Florida based Honeymoon or Destination Wedding is something that you want, let EZTravelpad help guide you there – or wherever else your heart desires. After all, it’s your special day – but it’s not your responsibility to plan it all.

What Travel and Tourism Will Be Like in 2050

By | Blog | No Comments

What WILL Travel and Tourism Be in 2050?

I just read an interesting article by Bruce Hodge of Goway Travel about some predictions for what travel and tourism will be like 35 years from now- quite different, no doubt. Think back 40 years ago- no Disney World….Cruise ships were rare, and strictly for the well-heeled – as was going on Safari. Flying overseas was also for the wealthy. All-inclusive resorts were very, very rare. Touring meant spending endless hours on buses with rigid schedules and limited photo opps. Sailing to Antarctica was strictly for the most adventurous scientist – now it is widely available for the leisure traveler!

So what predictions were made? here are a few beauties which may, or may not become a reality

  • High-Tech Ceramic Fuselage on planes could make plane transparent for better passenger viewing
  • Space Tourism offering both orbital and sub-orbital flights
  • High Speed Rail (I think this guy isn’t from the U.S.) becomes mainstream
  • Airship Hotels will become the new cruise ship offering flights low and slow with breathtaking views
  • Space Hotels (ok, thinking probably not the Super 8 chain)
  • Beaches and Resorts you know today may need to relocate to higher ground due to rising sea levels
  • China will be #1 destination & there will be more Chinese tourists worldwide than any other nationality
  • Book Years in Advance for Top Tourism Sites and Monuments (due to increased population growth – very likely)
  • Wilderness and Wildlife areas of today largely gone – several huge managed areas available to get back to nature
  • Small Ship and Boutique Cruises to Exotic locations much more common
  • Virtual Tourism has arrived and you can simulate most any experience

Do I believe that all of these predictions will materialize? Probably not, but many most likely will due to factors such as global climate change and global population growth. Many are inevitable, and as the global economy expands, once poor and remote countries will no longer remain so. Spreading Democracy will mean fewer wars and fewer countries that are inaccessible. Could you have imagined vacationing in Russia or China or Vietnam in 1970? Oh, you will be vacationing in Cuba and Iraq in 2050 – most likely LONG before that!

What does this mean to you? Hang on for the ride! If you want to see The Great Migration in East Africa

or experience certain glaciers you better plan to go soon because 40 years from now they may be a fading memory…

Oh, and the last prediction was for travel agents. They WILL still be around, but may be referred to as “Lifestyle Managers” – I like that…. see you in 2050, when EZTravelpad will still be “Your friends….in the travel business”

Murphy’s Laws – of Flying

By | Blog | No Comments

When Flight Goes Wrong Blame Murphy

Who was this Murphy character anyway? Many of his “laws” are just not to my liking!

I received this in my inbox recently and thought I would share – if you fly for fun or business I’m sure you can appreciate….

MURPHY’S TRAVEL LAWS! 

1.    No flight ever leaves on time unless you are running late and need the delay to make the flight.

2.    If you are running late for a flight, it will depart from the farthest gate within the terminal.

3.    If you arrive very early for a flight, it inevitably will be delayed.

4.    Flights never leave from Gate #1 at any terminal in the world.

5.    If you must work on your flight, you will experience turbulence as soon as you touch pen to paper.

6.    If you are assigned a middle seat, you can determine who has the seats on the aisle and the window while you are still in the boarding area. Just look for the two largest passengers.

7.    Only passengers seated in window seats ever have to get up to go to the lavatory.

8.    The crying baby on board your flight is always seated next to you.

9.    The best-looking woman on your flight is never seated next to you.

10.  The less carry-on luggage space available on an aircraft, the more carry-on luggage passengers will bring aboard.

Vahine Private Island in French Polynesia – a Review

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

Vahine Private Island Resort is Paradise in French Polynesia

Have you ever dreamed of living on your own private island – away from everything and everybody?

Well you can almost accomplish just that at Vahine Private Island Resort – named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the world’s Top 25 Escapes, and with good reason.

To get there from say…Chicago would go a little like this- Flight to L.A. Change airlines and take Air Tahiti Nui to Papeete, Tahiti. Change airlines again (may require an overnight in Tahiti) to fly to Raiatea to catch a boat transfer to the small island of Vahine -about a 30 minute boat trip from Raiatea past Tahaa to Vahine.

Alternately, you could fly from Tahiti to Bora Bora & catch a private helicopter to Vahine from Bora Bora

 

Vahine 1

arriving by boat you can expect to be greeted by Sophie (or another representative) who may be waiting with a cool fruit cocktail beverage and refreshing towel. I found the entire staff to be completely charming.

As the name suggests, this island is very private. There are a total of 9 guest bungalows so you and your travel partner will comprise more than 10% of the total number of guests on the entire island!

Finding a solitary place to relax is no problem….

Vahine 2

 

As you can see below, the chef and his staff do not have state-of-the-art culinary equipment to prepare our lunch, but often times excellent and low-tech are a good fit and I can assure you that our dining experience was excellent

Vahine 3

 

Simple- grilled meats and seafoods, ceviche, fruits – all extremely fresh and prepared to perfection.

Vahine 4

 

Sometimes the food at a restaurant is excellent, but the ambiance is sub-standard. Not this time…as you can see in the background, this restaurant has a killer view of Taha’a and is completely open air and just steps from the beach

Vahine 5

 

So the place is beautiful, small, private with a top-notch staff and excellent food – but how are the rooms you may ask? Well this should give you a sense……….

Below is a deluxe beach bungalow as viewed from the exterior – charming!

Vahine 6

The deluxe beach bungalow is a bit larger than the standard beach bungalow. In both cases the bungalows are located on the water (as opposed to over the water)

There are 3 standard, 3 deluxe, and 3 over water bungalows, so the choices are not overwhelming….but the authentic Polynesian construction and decor are. Simply Irresistible

Vahine 7

 

The 3 Overwater bungalows located out in the lagoon that separates Vahine from Taha’a actually have a view of the island of Bora Bora in the distance – one of the best views in all of French Polynesia

Vahine 8

So this is supposed to be a review- right?

Ok then, enough with the niceties….

How’s the pool? – There isn’t one

Is the ice machine close to the room?  Nope

Are you close to any “Hot” nightspots?  Absolutely not…..

Is the lounge a good place to go dancing at night?  Not really

Is there a better place to escape from it all for a few days and become one with nature in paradise? Maybe not….

Is there a better place for a Destination Wedding? Well, there certainly aren’t many other places that are this quaint and allow you to rent the entire resort! Even if you are not exchanging your vows on Vahine it would certainly be a wonderful place for part of your Honeymoon….

Vahine 9

This is French Polynesia. This is about sleeping until you wake up (around dawn) then enjoying the day to it’s fullest – snorkeling, swimming, windsurfing, kayaking, paying a board game with your mate – or reading a book in the quiet solitude of the South Pacific

Then of course there are other activities that might cost a few $$ – activities such as

  • Visit to a Pearl Farm or a Vanilla Farm
  • Get a massage
  • Tour neighboring islands
  • Scuba diving
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • and more…

The best way for many to experience French Polynesia is to spend a few days at 2 or 3 different islands. Spend some time on Tahiti and Bora Bora or Moorea – and spend some time at a place that is totally removed from the rest of the world…..

For more info contact someone who has been there and can offer the best advice available – EZTravelpad is here to help every step of the way!

 

 

 

A Most Excellent Newlywed Gift Idea

By | Blog, Romance | No Comments

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?

popular honeymoons 1
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?

popular honeymoons 2

the party?

popular honeymoons 3

the food?

popular honeymoons 4

 

the tranquility?

popular honeymoons 5

the adventure?

popular honeymoons 6

the spa?

popular honeymoons 7

the service?

popular honeymoons 8

the destination?

popular honeymoons 9

the room?

popular honeymoons 10

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.

 

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…)

Reviewing Secrets Capri Resort

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

Reviewing & Touring Secrets Capri Resort – Riviera Maya near Playa del Carmen

capri 1

The smallest of the Secrets brand resorts along the scenic stretch of beach south from Cancun, Mexico known as the Riviera Maya may just be the best. Unless you are looking for more, bigger, mas, grande then Capri really is a great option.

With a scant 290 suites (by comparison some other resorts in the neighborhood are 10x larger or more!) Secrets Capri offers a great balance of choice and convenience. It’s not over-the-top fancy like some resorts. There are not 20 choices of room categories. What there is though makes up for it. With 6 restaurants and 5 bars the small property offers much.

This is a good resort for a romantic getaway, an anniversary celebration, a Honeymoon or a Destination Wedding as well. At a resort like this with less than 600 guests even a small wedding party of a dozen or so will not feel lost – in fact the entire staff will likely know who is getting married and who the guests are! You can choose from a beach wedding in the sand, or something a little more stately like in this awesome gazebo

capri 2

Check out this short video tour to get a better sense of rooms, beach and overall feel

Restaurant choices include a la carte such as

  • Himatsu – Asian
  • Oceana – Seafood
  • Portofino – Mediterranean
  • La Riviera – Mexican
  • Seaside Grill – as the name implies
  • Cactus Club – Taco & Ceviche Bar

Secrets (along with their new Breathless brand resorts) is an adults-only brand from AMResorts which also offers additional family friendly brands such as Dreams, Now and Sunscape as well as the Wellness & Spa boutique resorts named Zoetry

There are Secrets Resorts located all across Mexico as well as in Dominican Republic and Jamaica. You can see the Secrets Capri brochure at this link

So how do you know which resort is the best fit for you? What is the best way to research your next vacation?

Simple – OUTSOURCE it to your travel consultant (travel agent).

A travel agency should be able to insure that you receive the best value (value = price + service), but more importantly your travel consultant should work hard to make sure they understand what it is specifically that most interests you. Your travel consultant should act like your personal shopping concierge understanding what you want to achieve then presenting the best options to save you incredible amounts of time and frustration!

Don’t have a travel consultant that you work with? Then contact EZTravelPad and see why we consider ourselves “Your friends….in the travel business”

 

Awesome Adventure Cruising with Un-Cruise Adventures!

By | Adventure, Blog, Cruise | No Comments

 

Cruise in Alaska on a Small Ship Offers Unparalleled Experiences

un cruise 1

Size Matters

Many people have experienced the wonders of Alaska on a large cruise ship doing a 7 night itinerary either southbound, northbound or perhaps a round trip on the inside passage – large ships with entertainment and casinos can be a great way to see many of the wonders of of largest of these United States of America – but few have experienced the intimate nature that can only be realized from a small ship cruising Alaska

Itineraries that range from 7 nights to 21 night are available from April until September

There are several companies who offer amazing vacations of discovery that range from adventure to luxury – from wildlife discovery to nature hikes  – to interacting with locals who are completely off the beaten path in areas that simply are unattainable on a larger ship

un cruise 2

 

One such option is Un-Cruise Adventures formerly known as Innersea Discoveries or American Safari Cruises
Un-Cruise adventures range in style from

  • Active Adventures
  • Luxury Adventures
  • Heritage Adventures

you can even charter your own vessel on ships that range from as few as 22 guests to a maximum of 88 guests on the largest ship in the fleet

A Heritage Adventure is a completely unique experience aboard a Victorian style replica of a coastal steamer which is scheduled for a greater quantity of shore visits and port calls and where on-board presentations are delivered by knowledgeable historians and characters appear in period costume.

Fine wines, Premium spirits and micro brews are included as well as the freshest excellent cuisine

Active Adventures are defined by play – be it in the water, in the woods – or even in the mud. The outdoor activities include more outdoor guides on staff to help with kayaking and stand up paddle boarding – hiking and treking – glacier viewing, glacier hikes, whale watching, wildlife observation & Polar Bear Plunge….all this and more are experienced on a daily basis

Luxury Adventures are slightly different in that although the itinerary might be similar Premium wines, Premium liquors and Micro Brews enhance the gourmet cuisine and finer dining which is served over several courses. Cabins are larger and more luxuriously appointed, the full bathrooms often feature jacuzzis and heated tile floors, Temperpedic memory foam beds and more… Fitness equipment, Saunas, On-deck hot tubs and even complimentary massage enhance the Alaska experience in ways you never thought possible

un cruise 3

Take the Kids on a an unforgettable adventure – let them kiss an iceberg up close and personal!

Take your spouse on that special trip that none of your neighbors, co-workers or Facebook friends has ever experienced

Have a 1-of-a-kind Honeymoon experience

Take yourself to new heights of discovery….experience!

For more info on this or other vacation options get with “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad