At the Romance Travel Forum, I met with 50+ providers on a global level representing a diverse range from boutique luxury resorts such as Hermitage Bay, Hotel Chocolat and Reef Resorts to Tourism Authorities of Hawaii, Thailand, Aruba, Dominca, Puerto Vallarta, Guatemala and more. There were also top wholesalers in the mix who provide tremendous value in terms of the packaged vacations they offer with the best hotels around the world.
The Forum provided many opportunities for networking with other agents, the best in the business! These agents know how to plan destination weddings and honeymoons! We shared best practices and there were so many take-aways which I intend to put into practice immediately in my business.
The evening event at Secrets Maroma was spectacular! The theme was Havana Nights and the party was on the beach. The photos below show how beautiful the property is and party was a blast!
I spent last week at the Romance Travel Forum in Cancun, Mexico. What an amazing experience it was!
There was a rigorous selection process to be admitted into the forum, and I was delighted to be offered a spot in this group of high-achieving travel agents.
We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya during the week. This resort has so much to do and there is definitely something for everyone in your party! The pools are a blast with DJ’s, snack bars, and even foam parties. They also have an awesome nightclub, Club Heaven, with a live DJ and pool, and the newest addition is Woodward, which is home to all sorts of fun indoor lifestyle sports like foam pits, indoor snowboarding and skiing, and a Ninja obstacle course, just to name a few!
While this resort is all about fun and music, let’s not forget their beautiful spots for destination weddings - just take look at the photos below!
Our evening was spent at the new UNICO resort which was simply stunning. The adults-only resort has a more modern feel and suites have plunge pools for added luxury. They take pride in their restaurants and culinary offerings and their wedding and event spots are truly special. The photos below give you an idea of what I am referring to.
The week kept getting better, so keep reading!
Our second day in New York was a busy one because we were only there for the weekend and wanted to fit in as much as possible. We love dim sum and found a great little restaurant called Dim Sum Palace on W 46th St not too far from our hotel. It is cozy inside but felt very authentic. We ordered our favorites including shrimp dumplings, spicy Sichuan won tons, bamboo shoot dumplings, Chinese broccoli with black olive sauce and Lo Mein noodles. I don’t get to eat dim sum often so it is always a special treat and I can’t wait to go back and eat there again!
After lunch, we headed to the Empire State Building and luckily did not encounter long lines. It was a cool day but we had clear skies and the views were AMAZING. Just take a look at the photos below!
After a little shopping at street stalls where we got a deal on pop sockets, which seems to be the new craze in iPhone accessories, we went back to our hotel to make a quick change for the evening. Afterwards we headed to a favorite pizza restaurant which has a relaxed but trendy atmosphere and great cocktails, B Squared at 679 Ninth Ave. We ordered the Marge with Soppresata which is the best pepperoni pizza you will ever eat!
From there we took an Uber to the Lincoln Center to see My Fair Lady. Lauren Ambrose was simply perfect as Eliza and Harry Hadden-Paton as Mr. Higgins was equally gifted. I have to say I loved it!
Every time I’m here I have such a great time and I leave with a list of things I want to do when I return! It won’t be long!!!
I’m always up for a visit to New York City and this time was no different. The minute I stepped off the jet bridge I felt a surge of excitement and anticipation for what was ahead. There was a buzz in terminal C’s trendy bars and restaurants as we met up with other family members arriving from Atlanta.
We jumped in an uber and headed to our hotel in Times Square. We were ready to head out to dinner and made our way to the famous Joe Allen restaurant. The ambiance is classy with exposed brick walls lined with posters of Broadway plays, tables covered in white tablecloths and cloth napkins. The dinner menu consisted of the classics and did not disappoint. I chose escargot and steak frites while my husband had mussels and calf’s liver.
Afterwards we headed to an Irish pub close to our hotel and enjoyed a few drinks and live entertainment. They were playing some classic rock favorites and the crowd was fun and relaxed. When we headed back to our hotel in the early am hours, we had fully enjoyed our first evening in the city and were excited about the next day!
Just because you are on a beach vacation doesn’t mean your activities are limited to sun, sea and sand. We decided to add a little pizazz to our trip by making it date night at the restaurant Passion by Martín Berasategui. Berasategui is a Basque Chef and currently holds 8 Michelin stars, more than any other Spanish chef. After our dinner last night, I would say he absolutely deserves them!
The walkup to the restaurant is impressive. We walked across a little bridge and approached rustic double wooden doors outside of which sits a small table set with old fashioned champagne glasses, each one containing a single rose petal. There was also a bottle of champagne chilling in a silver bucket. The hostess greeted us there and poured us each a glass of champagne.
When she led us into the restaurant it was stunning! The décor was stark white accented by ruby red sconces on the walls and pillows lining the white banquettes. To add to the splendor there were gorgeous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It all made quite an impact!
We opted for the 8-course tasting menu. Each course was exceptional but a few standouts were the truffle ravioli, beetroot ceviche with fresh tuna and black garlic, and roasted sirloin steak over endive jam. Each course was paired with a different wine to complement the food including two more sparkling wines, an outstanding (and atypical) white rioja, and a rich, luscious cabernet to go with the steak.
Of course, all great meals end with dessert and this one had two! A pineapple macaron served with saffron leaf gelatin and hazelnut ladyfingers with cinnamon ice cream, caramel almonds and vanilla toffee. Historic!
On Caribbean Getaways, we try and experience one day out on the water, taking in the beautiful shoreline from the ocean. There is nothing better than looking out to the horizon from a catamaran or boat on the Caribbean sea, and snorkeling to catch sight of colorful fish and sea turtles.
Yesterday was that day for us. We booked an all-day excursion and were picked up at 7:35am to start our day at sea. We were with a small group, 17 people in total, and had plenty of room on a 60 foot catamaran, to stretch out and enjoy the day. Our daughters found their spots on recliners at the front of the vessel, while we found shadier spots to shield us from the sun. Our first stop was at the site of the Atlantic Princess Wreck where we got to feed the fish and have them swarm toward us. It was a unique experience to be sure! We moved on from there to another spot where we got to swim above sting rays and starfish – another exhilarating experience.
After the snorkeling stops we were taken to Saona Island, which is located in the National Park of the East, where we had access to an open bar and had time to relax and enjoy the views and the beach while the divers in our group went off for one last dive. When they returned, we had a buffet lunch on the beach with barbecued chicken and pork, pasta, potatoes and salad.
Once back on our ship we had one final stop to wade through the shallow turquoise waters with drink in hand and snack on chips and salsa. We chatted with our family and others in the group as our day was winding to a close. Back on board, our crew got us up and dancing to la Macarena as we headed back to land.
A full day of sun, sea and relaxing in the Caribbean – what could be better?
Our resort has private cabanas which are perfect for days by the pool. They are fully shaded, large enough for 4 guests to share and conveniently located by the bar, restaurants and the grill, which is open all day for burgers, pizza and other bar foods. The other great feature of this resort is that there is uninterrupted wifi throughout the resort. So as I type this blog, I am sitting in my cabana and sipping on a pina colada! Not a bad way to do a bit of work!
By the way, as my husband get caught up on our emails, my teenage kids are off at the beach or the gym and we are comfortable in the knowledge that they are safe and can send us texts if they need anything.
There are numerous restaurants at the resort, two buffet style and many others that take reservations. Our dinner the first night was the buffet which is conveniently located near our rooms. I will say that while I was a little skeptical of the buffet, I was pleasantly surprised and can say without hesitation that the quality of the food was very high. It included New York strip, lobster tail, and fresh grouper and all of these cooked by a chef on a grill right in front of you after you made your selection. There was also a salad bar, fish soup and other entrees to choose from in the buffet. But the fact that they had a grill and could prepare surf and turf right there while you waited was something special.
There was also a dessert station which had no less than a dozen delicious types of cakes and sweets and of course, fruit. There is always fresh fruit available at every meal. Melon, pineapple, cantaloupe, passion fruit, papaya, star fruit, watermelon, guava, and fresh coconut…what have I missed?
Great high quality options and a great end to our first day here!
First Impressions of The Reserve
This week I am in Punta Cana with my family and while I am still working in a sense, it's fun work to be sure! I get to write about the fabulous resort where we are staying while spending time with my family and enjoying a break from our hectic schedules.
Punta Cana is in the Dominican Republic, which occupies the east side of the island of Hispaniola and is situated right in the middle of the Caribbean between Jamaica and Puerto Rico. It is an easy 3 hour flight from the U.S.
Upon our arrival, we had a private transfer to our resort where we were greeted by friendly staff and taken to a very comfortable sitting area to enjoy refreshments while they checked us in.
After check in our concierge led us to our rooms. I had booked a two bedroom master suite because we have two teen girls and a teen son and our past experience was that a little privacy goes a long way toward avoiding sibling battles while on vacation. Our suite was spectacular and did not disappoint!
In essence it was two suites which were connected. We were on one side with our own sitting area, private bedroom, jacuzzi bath and shower and sitting room with private balcony. The other suite, which was adjoined to ours, had a bedroom with two full size beds, a bathroom with jacuzzi and double sink, and fully separate living/dining room with a sofa bed where my son slept. The space was unbelievable and the girls could have their privacy and my son could have his.
Sometimes it costs a little more to "splurge" on a suite but the additional cost is generally minimal in the overall context of your vacation, and the benefits in terms of family comfort and enjoyment are definitely worth it!
Last week I attended a travel presentation where Kelvin Russell, the local Beaches Resorts BDM, spoke about the latest updates at the resorts.
Many people have heard of Beaches resorts and know they are luxury all-inclusives. You may know that Beaches is for families and has kids clubs for all ages and activities for families to enjoy together while on vacation. But did you know that there are quiet, romantic areas for adults to enjoy time away from the kids? With up to 21 restaurants and 10 swimming pools, there is always something to do, either with your family or your significant other.
We also learned that Beaches now has an autism program with staff trained to care for children on the spectrum. This is wonderful news that is worth sharing!
Beaches resorts are in Turks & Caicos, Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Negril, Jamaica and soon will be open in Barbados and Antigua! With so many options to choose from, Beaches is definitely worth considering for your next Caribbean Beach vacation!
Last night I attended a dinner hosted by a supplier and the featured destination was Puerto Vallarta. I love what I do because there is always something new to learn about travel destinations and I can never get enough of it!
So what stood out about Puerto Vallarta? It has some of the most beautiful sunsets anywhere, it is a foodie's dream and one can experience real Mexican culture as well as have a luxury vacation all in one place.
We focused on Villa Premiere which is a boutique hotel for adults only in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. It is romantic and intimate with only 80 rooms and suites. There are rooms with jacuzzis and spectacular views so if you have a romantic celebration, this must be in your consideration set.
Another bonus is that it is located just 5 minutes from the famous sea-side boardwalk "El Malecon", a historic downtown area with restaurants, shops and many other activities to enjoy.
What I loved about this hotel and destination is that you can have a little of everything, luxury, beautiful views, culture, and fabulous dining! What's not to love?