I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! Instead of taking a break from "labor," my husband and I decided it was a good idea to tackle some house projects we were putting off. It was very productive, and I feel so free by removing items off our check-list, but mostly I just feel sore :)
With all the hard work, I started daydreaming about what our Fall/Winter trip will be this year... and I'm thinking a nice relaxing beach might be the answer (after this labor-intensive weekend anyhow)! This lead me to my topic about finding the right resort to fit your expectations, as they are not created equal, even though on paper it looks like they are similar...
Think for a moment about the last time you wanted a bag of potato chips. Maybe you went to the store with your heart set on getting your favorite brand, but the store missed its shipment and you got stuck with another brand. You ate them, but they weren’t what you were hoping for in terms of quality and expectations.
Just like those two bags of chips were not created equal, the all-inclusive resorts available are not created equal either. In fact, the 4-star property on Avenue A in town could be completely different and perhaps even lower quality that another so-called 4-star property in the same town (even the same street!).
So, how can you keep yourself from getting stuck at a subpar “4-star” property that is 3-stars at best?! Let's find out...
Do Your Research
We live in a day and age where people are not afraid to tell the truth about the places they are staying. In fact, many people will post images and lengthy write ups about the resorts and properties they visit. They share the good, the bad, and the exceptionally awful. Where a resort can hire a photographer that stages one room for a perfect shot for their website, review sites let you see the gritty photos that keep it real.
However, don’t rely solely on reviews and take them with a grain-of-salt. You can’t truly compare apples to apples on experiences, since you don’t know the person writing the review and what their expectations were going in. Maybe they weren’t well informed of the location or quality of food/service, so they had something else in mind and were disappointed from their experience they had the prior year when they stayed at a nicer property.
It’s also important to consider the source in terms of who gave the hotel you are considering those 4-stars? Was it a known agency that issued them that honor? More and more, hotels and resorts in some parts of the world are dancing on the line of ethics by having no-name, or unknown agencies dub them “quality hotels” when they are not.
Consider the Brand
If you’re like most people, you have preferred brands that you use on a regular basis. Why? Because you expect a certain level of quality from them. Like those chips I mentioned earlier. You want that brand because you're used to what you will receive when you buy it. It’s often the same for resorts. Reputable hotel and resort brands maintain specific features for quality control purposes.
However, (there's another "but" coming) this isn’t always the case. Many brands have different owners and management companies across destinations, and while the concept is similar, the experiences may differ. The design of the hotels can be unique and while some have swim-up bar in the pool, private beach area or 24/7 premium coffee shop on property, the same branded resort down the street, may not have those options based on the layout of their property. The food quality can also vary between destinations, as it depends on how it’s grown locally and what they feed their plants/animals. The staff experience can also differ based on cultural customs.
Therefore, you really need to understand the brands, in order to know that depending on destination, you can expect certain features to be available across the board. And, good or bad, brands get reputations for a reason.
Eliminate the Guesswork - Hire a Travel Agent
Lost on how to choose the perfect all-inclusive resort for your needs and budget? That’s where a reputable travel agent like me comes in. We give you the truth about which properties have the best rooms, food, linens, alcohol, etc… Don’t get stuck in a so called 4-star resort with a room that looks more like a converted closet from your grandmother’s house, when you should be in an oasis that feels like heaven. You deserve better than that!
When you are ready to find the perfect resort to fit your style - call Destinations HD (913) 244-9195! We help match you to best all-inclusive resort for your needs, desires, expectations and budget. We take the time to listen and help you plan your ultimate getaway.
You can't return a bad vacation!
We are getting closer to the holiday season, which is a popular time to travel. Unfortunately, not every destination in the world is as safe as others, including the United States. With that in mind, we wanted to discuss safety while traveling, and give you some tips and information to consider when you plan your next getaway.
Know before you go:
One of the best ways to be safe while traveling is to do some research before visiting your destination of choice (or better yet, talk to your travel agent that specializes in that destination). Just a few things you may want to look into include:
Things to keep on your person include:
We’re not invincible on vacation, but we can travel smarter:
Unfortunately, things can happen on vacation that we don’t want to have happen. Here are a few additional things you can do to protect yourself:
If you have travel questions or concerns, we are happy to discuss them and help plan your ultimate vacation. Call us at (913) 244-9195, and we’ll create the perfect itinerary for you.
I can't believe it's August already! This summer flew by, don't you agree?! I've been seeing countdowns popping up online and in stores for the upcoming fall/winter holidays. It's got me daydreaming about a white Christmas... a sandy white one that is! Imagine playing in the sand of an all-inclusive beach resort, instead of shoveling snow this winter. This can be your reality, and I can help you make it so!
Embrace the dream of a sunny white winter...
Tan Lines Aren't Just for Summer
It’s no secret that come winter, everyone including the birds, wants to travel south. It’s warmer there, and it beats bundling up every morning to brave the elements!
If you too want to head south for the winter, it’s time to plan and book as soon as possible. You might be thinking, “What’s the rush?” - Here’s why you need to book now if you hope to escape the cold:
A beach vacation might be just what you need to prevent the winter blues from coming on. Which would you prefer - cold and icy roads, or a cold and icy tropical drink in your hand and toes in the sand? I’m betting you chose the latter ;)
This year skip all those pesky temperature drops and let us whisk you away to a better place. Destinations HD can help you design the perfect vacation for your needs. We’ve also got the inside scoop on the best resorts, as well as, any other information you might need to plan your ultimate snowy escape. Call us at (913) 244-9195, today!
It's almost been a month since my Mexico trip to scout resorts and I'm already trying to figure out my next getaway. Reality is just not as fun, is it?! :)
There is a saying that goes something like, “Travel is the only thing you spend money on, that makes you richer.” The trouble is most people spend too much time wondering if they can travel, when they should be wandering the planet instead! Travel has so many benefits including the fact it can improve your mental, physical, emotional and even your spiritual health.
Are you curious if you can travel more? Today, we’ll explore exactly how you can add more travel experiences to your life faster than you may have thought possible...
Stop Wondering and Start Wandering...
How to Travel More
The first thing people think of when it comes to traveling, is money. With that in mind, here are some money saving tips you can use to travel more:
With our daily careers and work life, some people find it very difficult to set time aside for travelling. However, you can still travel more by:
I just returned from Mexico doing resort site inspections at 12 different luxury resorts around the Riviera Maya and Cancun area - hopefully you saw some of those online at facebook or instagram. If you didn't, go check them out, as I saw some amazing resorts and now have an even longer bucketlist of more resorts I'm dying to stay at! :)
There is a new all-inclusive resort with a twist to the inclusive concept which opened last year, and I had the pleasure of staying there for the first 3 nights of my trip. I just wanted to share my remarkable experience with you about my new love...
UNICO 20°87° isn’t just a destination, it’s a journey! From locally-inspired gourmet dishes to exhilarating tours of ancient ruins, you will find more than your typical all-inclusive resort, you will enjoy the rich, warm culture of Modern Mexico!
This adults-only resort was everything I dreamed it would be and more! If you prefer unstructured schedules, natural elegant decor, quality food, premium drinks, fun, yet laid-back energy and romance - this resort might be for you!
This upscale resort is set on a natural eco-reserve along a beautiful white sand beach with dreamy views of the Caribbean Sea. Upon arrival, you are instantly embraced with the most enchanting aroma in the lobby. As you check-in, you are asked to personalize the scent of your own room, then your personal host ("butler") will escort you to your room and provide a personal tour. Here, you won't find entertainment staff asking you every hour to join them for archery, salsa classes, etc... Instead, you will enjoy pop-up activities, music and scheduled classes that you can leisurely join if interested or just relax and not be bothered.
The true luxury of this boutique resort begins with unlimited inclusions, such as unlimited golf, scuba diving experiences, spa treatments, local tours and beauty salon & barber services... that's right ladies, I said UNLIMITED SPA TREATMENTS!! Here you can find a variety of select tours and spa/salon services that are included with your stay! You just pay a 20% service fee for each service used (plus gratuity).
For example, if want to do the Xtreme Mayan Jungle Tour - which combines ziplining, rappelling into a freshwater underground river, and swimming through a series of underground caverns - you would normally pay $99 per person for this tour, but at UNICO 20°87° you only pay $19.80 for this incredible experience!
During my stay, I was fortunate to enjoy two spa treatments. The first one was their signature massage with FOUR hands, where I had two massage therapists working at the same time, melting my stresses away! OMG! This was incredible!! It felt like a synchronized dance with hands from head to toe. Each moment I continued to fade deeper into a blissful state with a permanent smile on my face. An experience I will dream about until I return and enjoy my next one :)
My other spa treatment was a relaxing Shaman Body Wrap with a gentle exfoliation treatment and cocoa wrap. This was my first body wrap experience and it was like three mini massages as each layer was applied. My skin was so hydrated and smooth after PLUS I smelled like chocolate :) There are a variety of spa treatment options that are included under the unlimited inclusion program, but they also have many others for an additional cost.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE...
Other included experiences worth mentioning are their redefined cultural tours. They created a few one-of-a-kind excursions (only available through this resort), which include unique and memorable adventures that will make your vacation truly one to flaunt! Their included tours range from a Wine Sunset Sailing, Snorkeling, Zip-Lining, Mayan Ruins, and so much more! You just pay the 20% service fee of the cost as I mentioned earlier. I had the pleasure to join their Sunset Sail with Vino tour... We had a lovely catamaran with around 30 guests from the resort and sailed down the coast enjoying wine, drinks and music before docking at a shallow lagoon for a perfect sunset photo opportunity, where we listened to music, and snacked on cheese and fruits before returning to the resort.
This resort is also located on the beach where many sea turtles come to lay their eggs. I was fortunate to be there during this season and stayed up late to tag along with the Turtle Conservation Team and was lucky enough to witness three different turtles nesting and watch them return to the sea. It was a remarkable experience to be a part of!
Also worth mentioning is their stunning wedding creations at this resort. If you are looking to elevate your destination wedding or vow renewal and offer a truly one-of-a-kind experience filled with personalized touches, locally-sourced dishes and artisanal cocktails PLUS a dreamy backdrop of the turquoise sea - look no further! They have gorgeous wedding options to make the ultimate event. This upscale resort will impress your guests and your wedding will be one that no one will ever forget!
There is SO much more to discuss about this resort and the one-of-a-kind experiences it offers, but I'm getting a little carried away already, so don't want to overload you at once! Let's schedule a time to chat about your next vacation and see if this resort might fit your expectations and desires! Call us today (913) 244-9195.
I hope you have been having an amazing summer thus far! I head to Cancun, Mexico next week to do resort site inspections at 12 different luxury resorts, so be sure to follow me on facebook or instagram for some vacation inspiration! I have an amazing resort line up to see and can't wait to share my experiences.
If you are thinking about putting together a group trip with your family or friends, I have a great idea below on putting that together...
When organizing a group getaway, there are many moving parts. Some of the things you'll have to think about include, but are not limited to:
All-inclusive means less hassle!
For group leaders trying to organize a vacation, hosting a trip such as this becomes remarkably easier when everything is included for one all-inclusive fee. With the exception of how people will get there, everything else is pretty much taken care of for you. The meals, the lodging, sometimes even alcohol - it’s all lumped into one sum so there are no surprises when it comes to budgeting.
Dining is just one example of complications you could endure while on a group getaway if you don’t go all-inclusive. Let’s say you go out together for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. What happens when the bill comes? First, there’s the awkward moment where everyone tries to remember what they ordered. Next, comes the calculations related to who owes what. And, inevitably you will have at least one or two people who doesn't have enough cash, and they’ll ask if you can spot them and pay you back later. For the group organizer that means you might end up being stuck paying for more than you initially planned on.
With an all-inclusive vacation however, everyone's meals are already included in the upfront price. If they happen to add on additional items that did cost extra money, you'll never have to worry about that - it will be charged to their room/cabin, and you'll be none the wiser.
Another benefit of doing an all-inclusive vacation for your group getaway is that much of the entertainment and/or excursions will be managed for you as well. Sure, there may be optional fees for adding on activities related to these excursions, but all of the organization of things like transportation, timing, and other particulars will be handled for you.
Imagine being able to just send one or two emails to your entire group letting them know who your travel agent is and your dates of travel, and then being able to just show up at the resort or on the cruise ship and simply enjoy yourself! No running around trying to track arrivals/departures, managing payments or handling any special requests/needs, as the itinerary is set up already and your travel agent is coordinating the behind-the-scenes details. No hassling with opinions from friends/family on what they want to eat because everything they could possibly want to eat is most likely already on the resort property or the cruise ship.
Make your trip even easier by hiring Destinations HD
You likely now see why all-inclusive is the way to go for your group travel. Want to make things even easier on yourself? Hire Destinations HD to manage the rest. When you book a group with us, we handle everything related to your trip on your behalf. We help match you to the all-inclusive resorts or cruises that fit your expectations and needs to assist you with picking the perfect one to make your group vacation the most memorable!
All you have to do is give us the contact information for the people in your party, and we take care of the rest! Their flights, accommodations, transfers to/from the resort, special requests, group tour/excursions, and any additional help anyone may need along the way. I manage your entire vacation, so that you can just focus on relaxing and enjoying quality time together!
As an added benefit of you being the group organizer, you may qualify for complimentary nights or even a completely free stay. To learn more about what resorts and cruises offer the best complimentary accommodations for group organizers, call us at (913) 244-9195 today. I can't wait to help you create the perfect vacation for your group!
Summer brings somethings to the air that often turns it into a "pop-the-question" season, so if you know anyone recently engaged or thinking about a destination wedding, so we wanted to give you a little information to think about.
Destination Weddings are not losing steam in terms of their popularity. However, just because something is popular doesn't mean it's the right choice for you. There are some important questions to ask before deciding to have a destination wedding of your own...
1. How Many People are you Inviting?
A destination wedding is typically much smaller than a traditional wedding. They are harder for people to get to, and typically require travel that some would deem too expensive or just don't have the time to take off work. An average size for a destination wedding is typically around 40-60 guests. Perfect for those looking to control the budget on all the wedding costs!
2. Do you Have a Dream Destination in Mind Already?
I find the hardest part for couples is choosing the location. If it's a place you want to honeymoon at, then getting married there too could be a great and cost effective idea, but if you're uncertain it could mean you have a lot more to consider.
Here is just a few things to think about when looking for a destination: weather, holiday events (local and in the destination which can increase cost), travel time depending on the age/health of guests, type of resort (all-inclusive, large, more intimate, kid-focused activities...), ease of getting there from the airports most guests would travel from, and the requirements for legal ceremonies)
3. What is your Budget?
Budget is undoubtedly a prime aspect that has to be considered before choosing the venue for any wedding celebration. You want a memorable day, yes. However, just because you want to get married at the same spot your celebrity crush did shouldn’t mean you're willing to go bankrupt for the occasion (and don't forget it may rule having very many guests if they can't afford it either).
4. Will you Need to Bring Certain Items with you to Get Married?
This is something people don't often think of, but if you're having a destination wedding you may want to forgo wearing the family heirlooms on your big day. Security is harder to control for expensive and priceless items when you're leaving the country. Also, keep in mind that some destinations ban certain types of materials (such as paper lanterns, fireworks, or silk flower petals) - therefore if you have an important tradition you require with a particular element, you need to find a destination that allows that.
5. Do you Care that your Wedding Might Not be Legal?
In many cases it's easier to have a symbolic ceremony in lieu of a legal wedding depending on the country you're getting married in. The laws in other countries don't always make it easy to marry your spouse to be, and the red tape is just more frustrating than most couples are willing to deal with. So, they marry in the states, and simply have a symbolic ceremony in their destination in which the recognize as their true wedding date with their friends/family.
6. Do you Want a Cake, Photographer, & all the Traditional Wedding Vendors?
It may be harder to hire certain vendors for your destination wedding if you aren't looking at an all-inclusive resort. Some couples also find it's difficult to hire local vendors since they can't meet them face-to-face until the day or week of the wedding. If it's at an off-site location, many times the couple will need to plan to arrive much earlier, so they can run errands and drop off items to the different vendors prior the wedding day. If you are looking for something less involved, an all-inclusive resort is an ideal option for one stop planning!
7. How's the Reputation of your Destination Venue?
This question is why it's critical you work with a reputable travel agent, like Destinations HD, that specializes in destination wedding group planning. You want your day to be amazing, without any issues, and not have your guests complain that the service, food or accommodations weren't worth the money. Some couples find it best to do a pre-site visit early in the planning to meet the wedding coordinator, see the wedding location(s), taste the food, etc... to ensure it's something they feel would meet their expectations. Having a professional that has knowledge and experience in the destination you are looking at, will help you narrow your options and help you focus on those resorts that will meet or exceed your desires.
To truly have enough time for planning (especially if want to do a pre-site visit) and to give your guests a reasonable amount of time to save and figure out work or daycare schedules, we recommend beginning the process at least 14-18 months prior to your ideal wedding date! Prime locations/dates at the better-quality resorts tend to be reserved over a year out, so if your date isn't flexible, but sure to plan early to get the date/time you want!
There are many other questions to ask and things to consider before jumping in with both feet. If you would like assistance in planning your destination wedding, call Destinations HD (913) 244-9195 to discuss more about our services and how we can make your destination wedding stress-free!
It’s almost here!!! If you haven’t heard by now, there is a new non-stop flight from Kansas City to Reykjavik, Iceland - making now the perfect time to explore this beautiful and unique destination!
The Icelandair inaugural flight from Kansas City takes place on May 25, 2018 and will offer three seasonal non-stop flights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, with easy connections between approximately 20 other European destinations, if you want to continue on within 7 days and see more of Europe. The return flight back to Kansas City will be on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. However, keep in mind that this route ends on September 29, 2018, but it is expected to continue again in 2019. Fingers crossed!
This flight is estimated at about 7 hours (eastbound) and under 8 hours (westbound). Take advantage of this nonstop flight while we have it in Kansas City – and just maybe we can keep it around if Icelandair receives enough activity!! Because of the limited flight schedule, it’s important to book early for this trip if you plan to experience Iceland this year (or next).
The two best ways to truly explore Iceland are via a bus tour and by cruising around the island. Let someone else handle getting you from place to place and relax while you check out all that this stunning destination has to offer. There are also some highlights on the island which you won’t be able to visit on your own, so only a cruise or escorted tour has access to these locations, which you don’t want to miss while you’re there!
Let’s take a quick look into these options…
Take a Bus Tour Across Iceland:
Tourists looking to see as much of Iceland as possible should consider a bus tour across the country. By doing so you’ll get to learn more about their culture, see more of their beautiful physical features, and take in a significantly higher amount of their breathtaking history.
There are several guided bus tour options to choose from. Once you’ve paid for your ticket, all the destinations on the tour are included. That is unless you take an excursion off the tour path. Some tours begin from a predetermined place, and for others the pickup point is the hotel where you’re staying (depending on availability).
You’ll explore iconic destinations such as the popular Northern Lights, the Golden Circle, the Gullfoss Waterfall, the Geysir geothermal area, and Þingvellir National Park. Visitors can also visit the glaciers where there are man-made ice caves.
Cruise the Island of Iceland:
Cruising around Iceland is considered one of the most convenient and enjoyable ways to see the best of the country’s landscape. On your cruise you’ll enjoy witnessing waterfalls, glaciers, geysers and more. Many tourists prefer cruising to bus tours because they feel it is easier to get from destination to destination, and takes less time to see the popular areas. The cruises are relatively affordable too, with the best deals occurring from June to September.
The trip begin from Reykjavik or Akureyri with stops in Siglufjordur, fishing port of Isafjordur and Heimaey Island. All of these destinations are enriched with their own stories to tell. Heimaey Island, for example, was all but destroyed in the lava flow of 1973.
Don't Forget to Visit Puffin Island:
Whether you decide to explore Iceland by land or by sea, be sure to include an excursion to Puffin Island! Puffin Island is better known as Akurey - a small island just near the coast of Reykjavik. Not that we counted, but believe it or not you can find as many as 30,000 Puffin birds nesting here! Tourists frequently flock to the island just to catch a glimpse of the beautiful birds.
The Puffins dig burrows in the island where they nest. The burrows provide safety and warmth which is ideal for their breeding. The females lay a single egg each year, between April and May, and both parents take turns incubating it. They will feed the fledglings for a month or two, and then desert them shortly after they are ready to leave the nest.
Some of the other beautiful birds in Akurey include black guillemots, seagulls, eider ducks, cormorants, kittiwakes, northern fulmars and arctic terns. Note: The island can only be accessed via boat, but there are several tours which can take you to view these magnificent creatures.
Ready to book your getaway to Iceland? Call Destinations HD today! (913) 244-9195
I can't believe it's almost summer - where did this year go to already?! With the upcoming graduations, mother's day, father's day, etc... I thought it would be a great time to think about gifts that will make a lasting impression.
Whether it’s for graduation, an anniversary, or some other occasion, these days "experiences" matter more to gift recipients than things. Sure, you can buy expensive jewelry, ties, or clothes, and your recipients may like it. The trouble is those gifts may sit in the drawer more often than worn. Instead, how about arranging a special vacation to create memories that will last a lifetime? If you can't afford a trip, make it as simple as just getting them a passport and having them think of the endless possibilities they can explore and they can plan something on their own!
Travel Is Better Than Stuff
Travel is memorable and gives pleasure that simply can’t be created from commercial goods. The truth is most people can’t remember gifts that were given to them for any given occasion, regardless of how much money you spent on them. But, ask them about trips they have been on, and they will likely be able to tell you with unbelievable accuracy the details of that trip!
Stuff comes and goes, memories are there forever. Traveling gives us stories to tell, and inspires new dreams within us. Travel helps us to share experiences in a way objects cannot.
Travel Yields Deeper Bonds
Consider for a moment what happens when you give the gift of an object. You hand it to the recipient. They may or may not light up with joy in the moment, but then it’s over. You have nothing further to discuss other than a comment if they wear it or use it from time to time.
Now consider what happens when you go on a trip... You can plan it together. You can visit the various sites together. You share the views, the culture, the food, etc... You’re experiencing the trip together. Then, when you get back you have memories to call upon together. It’s not a one-sided experience anymore. It’s something you can truly bond over.
As we travel and interact with new things, we are mentally stimulated. We ask more questions. We feel more engaged. We feel present in the moment, and more excited to be with those we’re experiencing the trip with.
Now, I know what you may be thinking - what if you give the gift of travel to someone, and you’re not going on the trip with them? You’ll still enjoy many benefits that you wouldn’t get to have with gifts of objects. For example:
Would you like help creating the perfect travel gift? Just call Destinations HD at (913) 244-9195 today and see how we can. We even offer travel gift certificates!
I just returned from my Europe vacation, but I haven't had a moment to get my thoughts together to write about those experiences yet. However, while I was there creating new memories, I was also reliving our River Cruise from a few years back. Europe is filled with so much history and culture, and I just love spending time there. If you don't have much time to jump around on your own, a cruise (ocean or river) is my favorite way to see as much as possible in a short amount of time - PLUS you don't have the hassle of lugging your bags between taxi's, trains, and hotels between all the cities.
For those reasons, I wanted to discuss River Cruises and how they are not all created equal. I've found that many people don't know how many River Cruise companies are actually out there and how much of a difference your experience can be between the products...
Just like any cruise line or hotel brand, there is a variety of options to choose from for your vacation. The sad reality is that you usually get the experience you pay for. While this is not to say that you have to spend a lot to get a great trip, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that there is a reason some river cruise lines tout themselves as budget-friendly. It's because they sometimes skimp on quality, entertainment and perks that you deserve to have a great river cruise! But, what makes for a great river cruise? What should you be looking for?
Here are a few things you should know before you book your next river cruise...
Destinations HD is a different, better kind of travel agency that offers a one-of-a-kind travel planning service!