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Why Does A Room Category Matter?

I hear it a lot!

“It doesn’t matter the room, I won’t be in there anyway!”

Truth is you will be in the room and let’s talk about it. I have stayed in super swanky suites and I have stayed in dumpy hotel rooms.  Yes it matters!  Sleep is important.  People sleep better when they are in comfortable settings.  Wouldn’t you sleep better in this room? Can you imagine the dancing and singing you do in the Shower?

I even sound better singing in a nice shower! LOL

 

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What makes a resort different?

Resort management that stays near the property and takes pride in what they offer to guests. From the suites to the dining options all the way to the welcoming staff!  If a resorts cuts back on the rooms that you do see and sleep in, think about what you don’t see that they are cutting back in.

Just “chew” on that for a minute.

I am writing a series about room categories and showcasing different resort that I have stayed in. Yes the FABULOUS and the GOOD!

When you see room categories don’t get scared! Call me and let’s get you in the room that is perfect for you! Don’t overpay for what you don’t need but don’t stay in a dump either!  Room Categories will not always explain what is in the suite or tell you that the OCEANFRONT suite you are paying for really isn’t that close to the ocean!

                            There is a difference between an Oceanview Suite and a Oceanfront Suite.                                   There is also a difference between an Oceanview and a PARTIAL oceanview.  There are some rooms that are loud, you will be sorry! Those are the cheapest in a resort! I will never sell you a room or suite that you don’t want. Mainly because I think a budget is the most important vacation topic.

 I don’t want any client disappointed.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!

Be sure & follow my blog for all the exciting room categories that you don’t want to miss!

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“I Want the Lobster, the Kind That’s Already Dead”

…   …   …   And my face drops in humiliation!

DSC_0600When traveling with kids you must be ready for a little of everything. You just hope you recognize that look in your kids face when they are fixing to do something truly & remarkably dumb. At least to give you the chance to defray the situation before utter humiliation is upon you.

We are blessed with a 17 yr old daughter and 14 year old son. We have always had a great time together.  Since they are getting older it has become easier to travel with them.  You start to notice their  maturity level rises each time. So when this conversation came up I was shocked.

August 2015 we took the kids to Beaches Negril Resort in Jamaica. Oh WOW is all I can say.  The resort boasts a fabulous kids water area with two huge water slides among many other kids activities. The life guards in charge of these areas are usually pretty laid back. I’m sure they’ve seen all kinds of stupid things that kids try to pull coming down the slides. I would walk over and check on Connor. Ask if he needed some “guidance?” I got a very casual “Yah, Mon he’s fine!” To which I was relieved and was able to settle back and enjoy my beach habitation. The glorious kids water park was right next to the beach and made it easy for me to keep an eye out. What marvelous planning on someone’s part!

This was truly a great vacation and everyone was doing what made them happy!

Truth is we like to eat!  We eat a good dinner then have a great room service for a 4th, 5th  or 6th meal of the day. We’re on vacation, whose counting?  This night we decided to go to the fanciest restaurant at the resort. Couldn’t help but think about how really uncomfortable this would have been on vacations in the past.  But I was feeling good about this and the vacation had gone well so far.

We walk in and to see a beautiful piano playing. It was an elegant domed shaped restaurant with dimmed lights. A very nice and upscale setting. Almost unexpected for a family resort.  Got to our seat and was started to look at the menu. A large family that we had eaten with the night before was already enjoying their dinner.  We had not noticed them until a loud man hollers, “Houston we have a problem!” This was due to the fact we were from Houston. Kind of embarrassing, but it was good to see them one last time since they were leaving early the next morning.  Time to order, and then it happened. Connor ordered the lobster.  Being unsure as to how it would be served, he then added with a cracking and unsure voice “the Lobster, you know the kind that is already dead.”

Because who wants to chase a lobster around your plate when you are starving?

I remember just closing my eyes and wondering what just happened. The waitress was very amused and so was the table beside us.  I knew exactly what he meant, we have all seen the live lobsters in restaurants where you pick out the one you want.

What do you say after that? Because something must be said…

So when you are traveling with kids, expect the unexpected.  Give them a little room to make mistakes and do something out of your comfort zone. If we have made a mistake, we learn from them. Then, maybe then we can’t call them a mistake call it a learning experience? When we travel we have these preconceived notions of how the vacation will be and the things we will do. But do those really happen every time? That is why it is called an adventure.  Don’t plan out every minute.  Take time to relax and just soak in the atmosphere.  Whether it is a beach with waves crashing or a fancy restaurant and your kid orders DEAD LOBSTER! Embrace the funny things, that is what your memories are made of.

Get out there, live, experience the world & order the dead lobster!  

Studies Reveal Health Benefits of Vacations

Take that vacation to lower risk of heart attack and depression, or move near a park for better mental health.

Beautiful Sandy Beaches of Negril Jamaica

Traveling with my family on the beautiful beaches of Negril, Jamaica.

I have been saying this for years!

Underground of the Rose Hall in Jamaica

Wendi, Connor and Payton at the Rose Hall Plantation in Montego Bay Jamaica.

Recharging our battery!

Martin and Wendi enjoying a beautiful day in Jamaica. Kids are snorkeling and having fun while we relax. Everyone is happy!

We are all built with an “internal battery.” It drives us, excites us and inspires us.  When we live our day to day lives sometimes that passion needs a little recharge.  That is what vacation does for you.  Also, gives you insight and many learning experiences that you can’t find in a book.  Get out and see the world around you.  –Wendi

“If you want to be healthier, take more vacations and live near a large park, according to two separate studies. Vacations are linked to decreased risks of heart attack and depression and even promote brain health, says a study from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies with the Global Commission on Aging and U.S. Travel Association. Moving closer to green space improves mental health immediately and is sustained over long periods of time, according to a University of Exeter Medical School study in Britain. “These findings are important for urban planners thinking about introducing new green spaces to towns and cities, suggesting they could provide long-term and sustained benefits for local communities,” the study said.”

This story originally appeared on Fortune

Sometimes You Just Need to Drive on the Wrong Side of the Road

hold on y'all!

Can you see Martin back there?

“I want to stay down here in the Caribbean sun, drive a little while on the wrong side of the road. Get this laying low off to a flying start.” –Kenny Chesney

Antigua Flag

Antigua Flag

We have all felt that stir crazy feeling.  You need to go and need to go now! The sun and beach bed calls to me about every month and a half. My sweet hubby doesn’t understand that it is rude not to answer when a beach bed calls. HaHa

When you finally get that chance to go, live a little.  Take a tour of the island with a local. Do what they do, eat where they eat.  They have a passion for the destination they call home and can’t wait to share it with you.  And if you are lucky, they may sing for you along the way.  Let’s face it island people are happy and very entertaining!

ATV tour took us to the highest part of the island.

ATV tour took us to the highest part of the island

While in Antigua last month we did the ATV tour offered thru Island Routes at our Sandals Resort.  It was a great opportunity to see the island and it’s scenic areas.  Also, it filled my need to drive on the wrong side of the road.  We were given a quick lesson on the ATV’s (most of us knew what we were doing but others did need it) and we were off. Traveling from the North East of Antigua on old cane roads, passing through old estates and rural farm lands to arrive at the the historical Monks Hill overlooking the scenic harbours of the South Coast with neighboring islands on the horizon. This is the ultimate riding experience traveling along dirt tracks and animal trails, while enjoying the natural beauty of the island’s interior.

If you are comfortable with renting a car- DO iT and experience driving on the left side of the road. If that seems impossible, do an ATV tour.  You will see parts of the island that is not accessible by car. Isn’t that what everyone one wants?  Something that you don’t do everyday?

Hard to drive and snap pics.  Sorry for the poor quality.

Hard to drive and snap pics. Sorry for the poor quality.

Loved it.  I had to tell them "Mind your momma and read your Bible." Why ?? I don't know it was one of those things I knew I would regret not doing when I got home.

Passed these kids playing cricket in their front yard. Loved it. I had to tell them “Mind your momma and read your Bible.” Why ?? I don’t know it was one of those things I knew I would regret not doing when I got home.

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Palm tree plantations!

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Overlooking the English Harbor. You could see other islands in the distance.

I caught this neat picture as we drove off.

The Passport Meltdown is Coming & How to Save Yourself

11846621_603834069756538_1223411357202161072_nRemember The Passport Crisis of 2006 & 2007?

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Almost 10 years ago it became a requirement to have a passport.  Which lead to a long processing times for passports.

Guess what? 

All of the passports from the crisis of 2007 will now be expiring in the next 18 months!  And to confound the situation there are some changes with the ability to add visa pages that will force people to apply for passports.

Did you know that 125 million US citizens have passports?

Go find your passports NOW and check the expiration dates.

WHY? Because some countries require passports to be valid for 6 MONTHS beyond their arrival back into the US.

What you need to know:

  1. Two options will be available: Passports will come with either 28 or 52 pages with no difference in cost. Get the 52 pages. You never know when you will come into some money and fill that passport up!
  2. The travel industry is back! That means more people are traveling. Hence longer processing times
  3. Passport cards are wallet-sized passports can only be used for land and sea (NO FLIGHTS!) travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.  Passport cards are smaller and less expensive.  I advise a passport book!
  4. Passports ages are:
    1. 16 yrs and older are adults – passport is valid for 10 years
    2.  15 and under are children – passport is valid for 5 years (yes that includes newborns. If they are breathing they have to be packing a passport!)

Let’s talk money!

  • New, replacement or renewal of a passport book: $110 if age 16 and older; $80 if under the age of 16.
  • New, replacement or renewal of a passport card: $30 if age 16 and older; $15 if under the age of 16.
  • Expedited service (optional): an additional $60.00 per application.
  • The acceptance or execution fee of $25 is paid to any U.S. Passport Acceptance Agency

******* This is Government stuff y’all- It can & will change  ***************

How to save yourself?

Go & renew or apply for passports now.  

Don’t wait until you feel a vacation “itch” coming

The Passport process is not hard. May take a little preparation but it is so worth it!

Do not miss out on your opportunities to see beautiful places because you are afraid of a passport process!

Wishing you 80° & Palm Trees! — Wendi

What are some of your favorite passport stamps? Share them with us!

Jamaica Mon!

Had to have some Bob Marley and Jerk Chicken

Grenada

Grenada! Who has been there?

Long Live “Road Worker Orange”

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Connor waiting for a flight in Miami.

Family Travel…

A couple of weeks ago we travelled with our family to Jamaica from Houston.  Being a parent I over pack and over think.  My 14 yr old son Connor loves the color orange.  It is just about ridiculous.  So the time came to lay out clothes for our early morning flight, he had all orange clothes set out (notice I was able to switch out the shorts.) I am talking head to toe!  It was late and not worth the argument.

We arrive the IAH airport and the lines are long, people are everywhere.  Multiple check in lines forced us to “divide and conqueror.” Here we go, we will NOT miss this flight.

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Waiting to take off. Have I told you I hate selfies? But had to do the airport check in thing!

I lost Martin (hubby) and I lost Payton (17 yr old daughter). In record time, they were missing.  But not my sweet little “Connor Mon” decked out in full orange.  He was easy to find and always where we needed him to be.  My theory on the “Road Worker Orange,” has changed.

It reminded me of a family that had gone to Disney World with us several years ago.  They all wore Lime green shirts the entire time.  We did not have to look hard to find them. Just look for a cluster of lime green and there they were!

Think about this post the next time you plan to travel to heavily populated areas.  Pick a color that is easily seen or everyone wear close to the same color.  People may look at you funny when you are all together but guess what? You are ALL together.  Not frantically searching for each other. Airports can be weird and stressful.  Kids with phones look down and never know where you have gone.  While they are aimlessly walking thru an airport, you are frantic! Not a good way to start or end a vacation.

 Wishing you 80° & Palm Trees

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Leaving Beaches Negril. It was so early and the camera was fuzzy. My babies were easy to find at all times!

Have You Seen The New Jamaica?

The main pool at Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall. (Photo credit: Playa Resorts & Hotels.)

Two Hyatt hotels announce their new opening dates and you’re invited to explore them.

The openings of Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, after an $80+ million renovation of the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall property, has been pushed back from Nov. 1 to Nov. 23.

The Basics
Hyatt Zilara, with 234 suites, will accommodate adults. Hyatt Ziva, with 387 rooms and suites, will serve couples, groups, and above all, families. Most rooms in these properties in Jamaica have an ocean view. Playa has almost tripled the former Ritz-Carlton’s beach area—there will be swim-out suites, nine restaurants, a staff of more than 1,000, watersports, tennis, a kids’ club, and some innovative firsts.

What Makes These All-Inclusives Different?
“This is not business as usual,” says Froemming, who promised “the first six-star product in the English-speaking Caribbean.” Here’s how he plans to make this resort different:

  • Island Routes personnel will greet arriving guests at the airport, expedite them through Customs, offer them snacks, register them while they’re still at the airport, and get out of the airport in 15 minutes. Yes, 15 minutes.
  • Zilara/Ziva will have exclusive use of a 100-ft. Island Routes catamaran for family, adults-only, and group cruises.
  • Adult guests will get a free round of golf at the legendary White Witch and Cinnamon Hill golf courses; this offer is good through 2015.
  • Carnivore alert: The restaurants will include the first Brazilian churrascaria on a Caribbean island.
  • Other restaurant news: Froemming aims to keep every restaurant open seven days a week. Evening options also include a one-of-a-kind rooftop Moroccan lounge.
  • “Zilara will have the only spa in the Caribbean that’s on the beach,” says Froemming. “A full-service spa, not just a few massage tables.”
  • Moving beyond the farm-to-table trend, Zilara’s beachfront spa will offer a “Table-to-Table” service whereby couples enjoy late afternoon treatments and then step out onto the sand, where they’ll linger over a candlelit dinner for two under the stars.

Modern and luxurious bathrooms at Rose Hall Zilara. (Photo credit: Playa Resorts & Hotels.)

Introductory Rates
“Travel Agents have as much importance than ever,” says Froemming. “Because our product’s extra value needs to be explained. We are not using price as a sales vehicle.”

This winter, Zilara and Ziva are offering introductory rates: At Zilara, a 480-sq.-ft. suite with a king bed, fully stocked bar, whirlpool bath, and terrace will range from about $480 to $540 per couple. At Ziva, a 493-sq.-ft. room will cost approximately $450 to $480 per couple, or $616 to $672 for a family of four. Rates include taxes and gratuities, and children under 3 stay free.

For more information, call Wendi 281-377-3488 x 101 or email Wendi@AiTravelHut.com

 

 

Beaches Resorts

DSC_0205Beaches Resorts in the Turks and Caicos Islands

I have been to many resorts and felt the warmth of the island people and locals.  I just got back from Beaches Turks and Caicos. All I can say is WOW! The pristine beaches were some of the best I have ever seen.

Sandals and Beaches resorts owner Butch Stewart values the  Travel Agents.  I don’t know of any other resort that would Charter flights for 3 days to make sure the agents know what they are selling to their clients.  I was with 140 other agents getting first hand knowledge of these wonderful resorts. We were on 1 of 9 of these chartered flights from all over the US. Mr. Stewart has educates Travel Agents far more than any webinar or workshop ever could.  He spends $80M dollars a year on advertising and at the bottom says, “Call your Travel Agent.” So my question to you is… If you have never used a Travel Agent, what is holding you back? My expert advise is waiting for you. And know that advise doesn’t come with a price! 🙂

I have heard people say that Beaches is for kids. We spoke with several couples who were there on their honeymoon and they were very impressed with the inclusion and service. I have to say, my “husband, man child” was with me and he had a total blast!  Don’t count the Beaches Turks and Caicos out if you are looking for a couples getaway.  A destination wedding at this resort would make everyone happy!

If you are thinking about a Sandals or Beaches vacation or Destination Wedding I want to be your Vacation Consultant.  As a Certified Sandals Specialist, I am here to work with you, your friends and family to make sure everyone is getting the room category they are wanting.  These resorts have at least 10+ categories at each resort.  Let me explain to you the differences to ensure your fabulous getaway in the room and location that you desire.

Wishing you Calm Seas and Palm Trees!

The next 2 post will talk about the Sandals Resorts in the Bahamas.  You won’t want to miss it!

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