Book Before You Go!

One of the coolest things about traveling to new places for me is getting out there and exploring. And if you’re going to the Caribbean, the options are limitless! I know I always want to see and do as much as possible. Whether it’s a cultural adventure with a tour of a museum, a nighttime ghost walk, hike up a cliff in the middle of a rainforest to see a beautiful waterfall, or playing hide and seek with a fish in some coral while snorkeling, I want to come home having experienced something. And I want all of my clients to have that same chance. The best way to accomplish this is to go on tours and excursions when you are on your trip. I pride myself on finding that perfect moment for everyone who comes to me. Even my clients who tell me that all they want to do is read a book in a beach chair will positively drool when I talk about the opportunity to charter glass bottomed Catamaran that will take them to a private island for a day, complete with a picnic lunch.

Once I had a client who pulled me aside to tell me that he was going to propose to his girlfriend on their trip and really wanted to surprise her. I talked to the property manager at their resort and arranged a horseback ride along the beach to a secluded lagoon where they had a private candlelight dinner prepared by the resort’s award-winning chef. The whole thing went off spectacularly and they came in to see me after the trip so she could show off her engagement ring!

This is the biggest advantage a travel agent has over booking trips over the internet. Over the years, I have cultivated good relationships with various properties and travel services in the areas I specialize in. Concierges call me to let me know about new tour guides they’ve met, new excursions they have added to their roster, and new equipment acquired by their hotels. I find out about new nightspots and trendy new restaurants straight from the local source. Guides will sometimes work with me to tailor events especially for my clients because they know that if they do a great job, I’ll recommend their services to more people.

With a skilled travel agent like me, you can have everything pre-vetted by a pro, scheduled and paid for before you even set foot on the plane. Everything will be clearly documented in a daily itinerary with transportation and contact information for anyone hired, maps if necessary, and then there’s the best part: if anything goes wrong, you have an ally to reach out to that can straighten things out.

Once you get there, if you haven’t booked anything, you will end up having to arrange things yourself. If you don’t speak the language, it can be a real challenge and can lead to some serious misunderstandings. Also, if you are not staying at a resort with a concierge, you may wind up asking random locals like shopkeepers and restaurant staff for tour guide advice. I’m not saying that everyone will be out to take advantage of you, but for every great recommendation from a waiter you’re going to get some doozies; there will always be that guy who sets you up with his cousin who takes you in his rattletrap pickup truck to some horrendous backwoods swamp when you thought you were going to a hotspring.

That’s when you’ll remember that for the same price, I could have had you at an exclusive spa enjoying a massage right on the beach. Whoops.

Do yourself a favor and tell your travel agent what you’d like to do, then have them help you book some great excursions to add that personal touch to what will be a fabulous vacation!

My Top 3 Vacation Getaways

My Top 3 Vacation Getaways

I do a lot of travel booking for clients, but the trips typically fall into one of three categories: family vacations, romantic getaways, and bonding trips with friends. The best part about specializing in an area as great as the Caribbean is that there are so many wonderful locations that will fit the bill for my clients. I keep up to date on the best islands and resorts in the area and guide my clients accordingly. Today, though, I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you. Here are my top recommendations for each type of trip:

  1. The family vacation: Bahamas. There are so many resorts in the Bahamas that you can find something to fit your family’s budget. Atlantis is the absolute coolest place to take kids of any age. They have everything from available cribs and cots to kid’s camps and a program where the kids get to shadow the hotel marine life trainers. They have a tween/teen dance club, an arcade, and even a movie theater. Plus there’s the water park, kid pool, and the beach. If the idea of spending that much time in a kid-centered environment makes you concerned you’ll never get any sleep, here’s a tip: you can stay at their sister resort, the One & Only Ocean Club. You get all the amenities of Atlantis but get to stay in a fabulous resort just a free shuttle ride away. If you’re not into these, I also recommend Grand Lucayan Resort. It has everything—babysitting, kid’s club, super easy access to a fabulous beach, and stuff for parents too, like a golf course and spa.Everyone wins!
  1. The couple’s vacation: Jamaica. I could spend weeks talking about all great getaway locations available to lovebirds in the Caribbean, but there is a reason this laid-back island has its romantic reputation! There are accommodations appealing to every taste and budget. There are romantic and secluded places like Geejam in Port Antonio, which is so private and exclusive that there isn’t even a hotel lobby (yet you have around the clock room service, plus a private driver to take you wherever you may want to go); and classic all-inclusive places like Sandals or Couples Resorts, or lovely historic places like the Jamaica Inn, whose private beach is world-class.
  1. The Girls/Guy’s Trip: Puerto Rico. I know everyone thinks of Las Vegas for friend getaways, but Puerto Rico also has casinos and nightlife, along with the added bonus of being in the Caribbean instead of a tourist mecca in the middle of the desert. You get beautiful beaches, interesting night clubs, great water sports and more. And all without that “Vegas, baby!” attitude. This small island boasts some of the best, most consistent fishing grounds in the world, and you can catch everything from tuna and wahoo to marlins and sailfish. San Juan has a variety of hotel/casino options (my clients seem to like the Marriott’s Stellaris Casino, which even offers lessons for beginners). Then there are the golf courses, which are some of the best in the Caribbean. The courses at Dorado Beach, part of the TPC network, has been a winner for my clients in the past, so I usually recommend the Plantation Resort. If you’re looking for quality time with the girls and some serious pampering, there’s the Gran Meliá and the fabulous Ritz-Carlton in Dorado Beach. Both offer great spa services and are sure to leave you relaxed and refreshed.

Based on my experience, these are some of the best places to achieve the type of vacations my clients are usually looking for. Hope this was helpful!