I am seeing amazing Australia & New Zealand travels package deals. Perhaps it is time to travel to Australia –the Down under Continent. Be amazed by the Great Barrier Reef to the rugged Out Back, the sophisticated multicultural Sydney to the Great Ocean Road with the 12 apostles. Australia is home to 15 World Heritage sites & 500 National Parks & the oldest culture on earth.
Or be wowed by New Zealand. This island country 2200 miles SE of Australia is a magical world if its own. The Lord of the Rings movies were filmed here & has put New Zealand front & center in the minds of the adventure traveler, mutigenerational families, honeymooners & nature lovers alike.
The city of Christchurch, on the south island, is the gateway to natural wonders including spectacular snowcapped mountains, pristine glacial lakes, deep fiords & expansive plains.
Auckland is the hip urban center with beautiful beaches, hiking trails & dozens of islands to explore. The north island also offers the Wine country, Tongariro National Park with its triplet volcanoes + thermal wonders in Rotorua & Taupo areas.
Australia & New Zealand are accessible via escorted tours, cruise itineraries & independent travel.
Flight time between Sydney & Auckland is just over 3 hours. Combine the countries or make it 2 trips.
Please give me a call for more information.
The Hard Rock Resort Punta Cana was more like Pop Rock Punta Cana, but we still enjoyed ourselves.
Traveled to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic over Christmas 2015 & stayed at the Hard Rock Resort for 7 NTS with my husband & 2 teenagers. Beside the annoying Caribbean pop rock which played continually we really enjoyed ourselves. This may be unfair but I expected to hear more rock & roll as we were staying at the Hard Rock Resort. (I did get to know the DJ at one of the music pools. He took & played requests...yeah!)
The resort is large & spread out but the placement of our room, a sand suite, in the center of the resort was a grand location. Pictures, quotes & paraphernalia of all kinds from current & past rockers filled the lobby, restaurants & suites. Our spacious sand suite, with a full Jacuzzi in the center, had an early picture of the Fab Four i.e. the Beatles relaxing in the sun…very cool. But, I never once heard their music played.
The resort has decent restaurants & bars and the restaurant by the beach “Isla” (open air) proved to be my favorite. We had the breakfast buffet & lunch their almost daily. The Mexican & Asian dining also deserve a nod! The resort offered nightly events like a beach party barbeque & a Michael Jackson show which were very fun. Prefect weather -Rained at night but in the low 80's every day.
Service at the Hard Rock was pleasant. The staff is very helpful & friendly considering how hard they have to work. Although gratuities are included a tip does bring a smile.
The main building furthest from the beach has the large air conditioned cool indoor mall which houses the shops, restaurants, gym & the spa. We used are Hard Rock points in the spa which was truly a treat. The Spa & service in it are excellent. All 4 of us had a massage via resort credit points + the 20% tax on the service.
If you seek beach, sun & sand then Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is for you. Walking the beach near the Hard Rock Resort was lovely & cleansing to the soul. You can walk for miles but swimming is not recommended for those who cannot handle the high surf in this area.
I would suggest this resort as destination for family vacations & destination weddings. There is a lot to do & many beautiful venues for a beach or gazebo wedding near the beach.
Tip-If you never take the resort carts & we did not. You can eat & drink as much as you want!
If you have not booked a winter getaway yet there are amazing travel packages still available for travel in late Jan, Feb, March & April, 2016.
Be flexible & recieve the best values.
Lert me help you escape. Andre' Leavitt, Time Travels inc. 651-771-5666
If you have vacationed in the Caribbean or the Riviera Maya in the last few years you have probably thought “what’s with all the seaweed washing ashore. “ It’s not your imagination there is more of it.
I found this article explaining the why from a local in Akumal MX & was both fascinated & dismayed. The Sargassun, brown alge (seaweed) is a vital source of survival for the fish & mammals that call the Caribbean Sea their home. But why is it increasing? Click on this link. I feel it is an honest perspective. http://www.akumaldiveshop.com/sargassum-the-what-where-and-why-of-this-seaweed/
Do not let this stop you from vacationing in the Caribbean & Mexico. This area is one of the most temperate & enchanting on earth!
Travel in the next few months Sept – early December is great time to take advantage of low season.
Time Travels Inc.
I had the opportunity to stay at Secrets St. James & Wild Orchid in Montego Bay Jamaica & was wowed. Just 20 minutes from the Montego Bay airport & close to downtown the resort is an adult’s only oasis. Beautiful suites, excellent food, top shelf liquor, water sports, good entertainment & that warm Jamaican hospitality & great service. The views at Secrets St. James & Wild Orchid are amazing because the resort sits on a peninsula in Montego Bay surrounded by water.
The upgrade to a Pref. Club OV suite did make a difference. It was grand. The perks of the St. James Pref. Club level are well worth the extra cost. A full breakfast daily, hors d'oeuvres though out the day & beverages right on the first floor along with the concierge. The Wild Orchid side is closer to the restaurants & the more lively side of the resort. The St. James Resort is more tranquil which I enjoyed.
This resort is great for honeymoons, anniversaries, destination weddings & adults who seek an upscale lively Caribbean Oasis with easy access.
Montego Bay has cleaned up its act very well. It is now a more safe, clean & tourist friendly place to be. I could not say that a few years back. I had a great time. 2 Thumbs up!!
I decided our Christmas present this year would be a family vacation over Christmas week at the Playacar Palace all-inclusive in Playa del Carmen MX. We loved it!!
I wondered if 3 restaurants, Japanese, Italian & the incredible changing buffet, would be enough for a 7 NT stay to satisfy 2 adults & 2 surly teens. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food, the presentation & the service at the Playacar Palace. If the resort is rated 4 to 4.5 stars the service is certainly 5 stars! The fact that Sapphire Bombay or the blue bottle is at served at all 3 bars will tell you that the liquor is also premium.
Being upgrade to a Sand suite made all the difference. A beach front walk out room is not only convenient with its own beach entrance, but it made for the wow factor in this vacation. The person who proclaims that the room does not matter has never had great one. In my opinion the room & the view on a vacation can make or break it.
The Playacar Palace is just south of the pier, next to Senor Frogs & 1 block off Playacar del Carmen’s famed 5th Avenue with numerous shops & restaurants. Playa del Carmen may no longer be a quaint town but it is a lively place.
We enjoyed walking 5th Ave a few times to witness the Christmas celebrations including Mayan traditions which were cool. But I must admit that I enjoyed returning to our Sand suite at the Playa car Palace, where I could sit outside on the terrace & listen to the waves of the Caribbean with blue bottle in my hand watching the passenger ferries come & go from Cozumel.
Is a travel agent necessary?
Truthfully, the answer is no. Given that I am a travel agent, this response may surprise you. I just want to be honest. Really, why would you need me? All the information you need to book a fabulous vacation is at your fingertips. All you need is the internet… time… knowledge… and/or a willingness to take a calculated risk. Super easy…wait, huh?! Before I totally have you thinking I’m ready to close up the shop, I would like to share with you why I believe my profession is still relevant despite the DIY-Expedia-Travelocity-Travelzoo era we live in.
First, I’m the most cost effective Executive Assistant you will ever have. I will work tirelessly to find you the best value in airfare. I will also recommend hotels that I have personally visited or ones that come from a verified source who has personally visited. I will answer all of your travel related questions, ensure you have the proper documentation to travel safely and freely, and I will be available should anything go array while you are at your travel destination.
Second, I’m going to save you time and money. Not convinced? Let’s translate your time into dollars. Imagine you decide to go to Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts in Orlando for your next family vacation. Did you know there are more than 25 themes resort hotels on the Disney property? If you spend a conservative 15 minutes looking over each hotel, doing a quick glance at reviews, and browsing prices or photos, that is 6.25 hours of time. Once you decide on your hotel, the next thing you want to examine is the airfare. I happen to have a fun trivia fact for you today: How many commercial passenger airlines fly out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International? The answer is 15. If you are going to do the airfare search yourself, I hope you will be asking yourself questions such as:
- Who is offering the best flight times at the best price?
- If I’m already a Frequent Flier with X airline is that going to offer better advantages for me than choosing another carrier?
- If I leave on a Tuesday is that really cheaper than leaving on the more convenient Friday?
If you decide to spend just 15 minutes each looking at five of the major airlines, or go to a one-stop search engine to play around with various departure and return dates, this is going to consume a minimum of 1.25 hours of your time. We are already at 7.25 hours in to your vacation planning, and you haven’t even booked yet! (Just in case the fares drop tomorrow). Take the 7.25 hours and multiply this figure by your hourly wage to see what you are costing yourself! Time is money and you should value it more! If you still prefer to think in terms of the money you are saving by doing this all yourself, note that you’ve just given up a week’s worth of lunch hours to conduct your search…or a week’s worth of sleeping in an extra hour. That time has to come from somewhere! Don’t sacrifice. Professionally planning travel is my job so you don’t have to stop doing yours.
Finally, I have a lot of amazing connections and access to deals that I would love to share with you. If you want to tackle this aspect of the travel planning process, more power to you. There are even helpful articles that will advise you on the many Shameless Ways to Get An Upgrade. If none of these approaches resonate with you, then let me help you get the upgrade, deal, or discount without the uncomfortable or awkward exchanges. Your vacation should be spent relaxing and carefree. I’d be honored to make that happen for you.
Sometimes people ask what we think of the Riu Hotels & Resorts brand. The truth is, they are decent; even good I would say. You have clean rooms, a lot of food and drinks, and a consistent brand. You can trust what you will be getting will be the same from location to location. Although if you are looking for true 5 star food, accommodations and shows, we may need to look elsewhere.
Recently representatives from Time Travels Inc. have visited many of the Riu locations in Jamaica, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic to tour and experience what the Riu has to offer. Overall, we realized there are very clear differences for each class of hotel, within the Riu brand.
- ClubHotel Riu: The club hotels, such as the Riu Tequila in Playa del Carmen, is a basic resort. There is typically one pool, and the rooms are nice but nothing over the top. The food - well there is a lot of it, but after a day or two, you start to run out of decent-tasting options at the buffet. They do have 3 a la carte options, and if the hotel isn’t full, you’ll be able to get in for a dinner – in which you will find decent food as well. Overall, a great option for friends looking to relax, or a quick budget-oriented get-away.
- Hotel Riu: The hotels are very nice. They can range in style and size. The food tends to be very similar to the ClubHotel, however there are frequently more options for a la carte. A lot of times the pools have some upgraded lounge chairs, and thing tend to be renovated a bit more frequently.
- Riu Palace: The Riu Palace is definitely a Palace. There are a LOT of rooms, and more of the new ones tend to be modern, like the one in Punta Cana. It is clean, fresh, with a lot of options for food. Food at the Palace is a step up from the other Riu brand hotels, in my opinion. However I would be concerned about getting into specialty restaurants if the hotel is full – as well as space to even fit around the pool! The Riu Palace is definitely a good choice for a consistent brand, relatively reasonably priced, and could be used for a girl’s trip, a family trip, or a romantic getaway.
Overall, the Riu brand is fantastic option for many different types of travels. Contact us at Time Travels, Inc to discuss specific requests and expectations for your next vacation – we can place you with the right hotel and type of accommodations so you get the exact vacation you were looking for!
As I was out for a run on a crisp early fall morning, Uncaged by Zac Brown Band cycled through on my playlist. I was already at mile two and my mind still hadn’t found the freedom to let go of the pesky stream-of-consciousness chatter brought on by yet another hectic work week. I was starting to worry that running as my mental refuge was failing! However, once ZBB’s opening lyrics rang out, something deep inside gave way and I was finally able to hit a new stride, both physically and mentally:
Gonna lift to the great wide open
Wanna set my spirit free
Won't stop till I reach the ocean
Gonna break these chains holding me
A wave of energy rushed through me and my steps felt a little lighter. I decided in that moment a little vacation was necessary. Adventurous new thoughts consumed me. Zac Brown has the right idea. There are absolutely so many reasons to not stop till I reach the ocean! I’d recently read an article in the Huffington Post titled, that provided several valid motivations to contact the travel agent to book the airfare and reserve the accommodations. The author’s chiding about the brain spending too much time in the task-focused mode resonated with me. It’s a guilty habit of the Type A personality that I am. As a result I don’t spend enough time daydreaming. Apparently, this could actually be harming my productivity and overall ability to think creatively and improve work process! Since I still had a couple miles left and was eager to be thinking of something other than undone items from last week’s to-do list, I allowed my mind to drift towards thoughts of sandy beaches, room service, rum, and relaxation.
Though my heart was pounding from the run, I swear I was breathing easier. The article informs that vacationing provides a rejuvenating effect and it’s necessary to be away from the day to day labor and routine. Based on the happy vacation memories that were now snapshotting their way through my brain, I guess I have to agree there is something truly uplifting about escaping from the norm. Another awesome piece that has been written to explain why travel is essential comes from a March 2000 essay by Pico Iyer: “Why we travel.”
Iyer writes: We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate… …And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more…
Uncaged thoughts spur me on. Hopefully those of you reading this don’t need further convincing to contact Time Travels Inc to start planning your getaway. This Labor Day we celebrated and honored the social and economic achievements of American worker. We work hard. Having a Monday off is something to fully appreciate…having a full week off is even better!
Guest Blogger: Angela Lockhart, Avid Dreamer & Traveler.
Destination weddings are an ideal way to tie the knot. In addition to being a cost effective option compared to traditional nuptial expenses that can average around $30,000 excluding the honeymoon (2013 statistics from theknot.com), destination weddings are fabulously low maintenance. This allows the bride and groom to focus energy on what really matters most- each other! This monumental day should be celebrated in a joyful, carefree manner. Like the idea but not sure where to consider? Check out the following possibilities:
· The Royal Lahaina Resort, Maui, Hawaii- Get married ocean front with sea turtles as witnesses. Imagine reciting your vows while overlooking the sparkling waters. Finish with a toast of sparkling champagne, and then be carried off into the tropical setting sun…
· Sandals Royal Plantation, Ocho Rios, Jamaica- Enjoy minimal planning and all inclusive packages. (Go ahead and toast to your wedding vows as many times as you want.) Every wedding should be this relaxed!
· Winnetu Oceanside Resorts, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts- Elegant and quaint. East Coast sophistication. Ocean view with indoor/outdoor reception area.
· Sheraton Sand Key Resort, Clearwater Beach, Florida- Professional and gracious staff to meet your every need. Prompt communications every step of the planning process. Walk the aisle over an impressive stretch of sugar white sand beach.
· Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California- According to TravelChannel.com, this hotel “has been an American icon since it opened in 1888.” Unlimited options abound for wedding photo backdrops, budget, and breathtaking beachscape. Guests will have a blast!
· Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa, Riviera Maya, Mexico- A most incredible perk includes “when 10 rooms or more are booked for a minimum of three nights each, the wedding couple stays free!” The date must be saved by October 31, 2014 to take advantage of this offer.
· The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, South Carolina- Channel your inner southern belle and be ushered into wedded bliss among ancient and majestic oaks, an exquisite labyrinth of rivers, islands, and natural beauty.
· Central Park, New York City, New York- 843 acres of manicured park greens surrounded by the vibrant city skyline. The hotel and reception options are limitless. Start spreading the news, you’re getting married today!
· Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada- This is not your ordinary Chapel of Love. The fountains are breathtaking, the rooms are luxurious, flights are easy, and entertainment options abound. The hotel offers 11 different wedding package options from as little as $1500 to as much as $25,000. Your guests will RSVP with Y.E.S.
· San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara, California- According to their website, wedding packages are customized for intimate events in one of the Ranch's romantic cottages or fragrant gardens. In fact, many bridal couples reserve all 41 accommodations for family and friends. Your fairy tale wedding should take place amid rustic elegance and a story book gorgeous setting.
Now that you’ve been inspired, what are you waiting for? Call the experts at Time Travels Inc today and explore the possibility of checking everything off your wedding planning to-do list at once!
Want to be healthy while traveling? Don’t we all! Each and every day many of us work hard to keep on track when it comes to health and wellness, and the moment we step foot on a plane, heading for vacation, all that effort seems to crumble. But it doesn't have to! Check out http://yogalift.com/blog/ for some awesome thoughts on this topic.