Mexican Christmas – The Need For Travel Insurance

I often get asked…”Do I really need Travel Insurance? Will anything really happen to me?” I always answer – Probably not…..BUT what if it does? Do you want to be the one worried about medical costs and getting good medical care because you DON’T have insurance? I also get asked if I always take the insurance myself. That answer is EVERY SINGLE TIME. I know and have seen first-hand the devastation that not having travel insurance can cause. The parents whose son breaks a leg and now they are out thousands of dollars, or the ear infection that keeps you from flying home and costs you even more. I have witnessed how fog and a cancelled flight result in a $1000 claim and a broken arm without a cast – basically an X-ray and a prescription can cost over $700 USD.

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Monster Waves in Puerto Vallarta

This trip – with 12 family members reminded me of how quickly the unexpected can happen. My sister’s mother in law, on her 68th birthday, was tossed around by a wave and presumably hit her head on a rock on the bottom of the ocean. She was taken off the beach by some medics in a wheelchair and assessed. In the end, they suspected a possible fractured cheekbone and a possible fractured neck as well as a concussion. The medics shuffled around, looking a bit nervous, suggesting she go to the hospital, possibly in a taxi or a van, but preferably an ambulance. Once they found out she had insurance, there was a palpable feeling of relief. They called the ambulance, arranged for her to go to a good hospital where the doctors speak English well and she could be looked after.

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Private hospital room

The ambulance driver was familiar right away with Manulife and said the front desk of the emergency room would be as well. There were a few glitches with calling the Manulife numbers, but we worked that out and they were able to call us on our cell phones to arrange for care and payment of care at the hospital. After 4 hours of emergency care, Xrays and a CT scan, it was determined she had a concussion and a severely sprained neck, but no fractures. They would keep her overnight for observation…….and a bill at that point, after four hours was over $5,000 USD.

A $200 CDN policy for her ensured that she had complete coverage and upfront payment for every penny. It would also cover things like taxi’s back to the hotel, extra meals and if needed extra hotel stays and changes to flights home. She nearly lost her prescription glasses. If she had, that also would have been covered.

So….next time you wonder if you can afford travel insurance, ask yourself if you can afford to NOT have it. If you have work or credit card insurance, ask who you call if there is an emergency and if they will pay up front or if you have to pay the bill and HOPE to be reimbursed. Do they cover only yourself, or your family as well? If changes to your trip need to be made, are those airline fees and extra costs of staying in destination covered? Are there pre-existing exclusions? Or does it cover anything unexpected?

I have to say that being the travel agent for this trip, as well as participating and knowing that the injured person had the Premium Protection Plan, meant that I never doubted for a single moment that she would have excellent coverage for all of her medical bills.

So, from sunny Puerto Vallarta, Merry Christmas and remember to make sure that travel insurance and peace of mind are part of the gift of travel this year.

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The Beautiful Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

 

ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 30

December 08, 2018 – Apia, Samoa

The port that wasn’t!

On the north-east coast of Upolu, Samoa’s capital, Apia is famous for its relaxed charm, hospitable locals and should be easily explored by foot.  It is also home to the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.  The Scottish author’s former residence is apparently an enchanting estate, with a centrepiece lawn and perfectly manicured gardens. Stevenson’s mansion, substantially destroyed in the cyclones in the early 1990s, was lovingly rebuilt and opened as a museum in 1994 on the centenary of Stevenson’s death. It has rooms filled with antiques and sepia family photographs.

The ship docked in Apia but before we could get off, the Captain announced that the swells were too high and they would have to abort our stay in Apia!  Two of the ship’s ropes that secure it to the dock had already broken and the fear was damage to the ship if it rocked against the dock.  None of the ship’s tours had left the area yet and were cancelled.  Unfortunately, about 50 people had already disembarked.

This is all we saw of Apia…

The ship left the dock and maneuvered into the bay.  They deployed a ship’s lifeboats for tender and they tried to track down the passengers on shore.

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After a couple of hours, everyone was safely on board and we left.  The extra time is being spent with a gentle sail around an island before going on to Pago, Pago.

The good news is that we cross the International Dateline and we gain a day, so tomorrow is December 8 all over again.  We hope we have better luck on our second go with December 8!

 

Should Your Next Vacation Include a Butler?

Why your next vacation needs a butler, seriously.

Ok I know what you’re thinking, a butler, really?  I’m here to tell you that although there are ways that a butler on vacation could be used for over the top requests there are also a lot of ways that a butler simply makes your hard earned vacation just a little bit better.

I recently enjoyed two nights at the unbelievable Paradisus Playa Del Carmen – La Perla.  La Perla is the adults only section of this resort featuring modern décor, a hefty selection of a la carte dining and interesting bars featuring craft cocktails, multiple beaches and a pool that suites any vacationer’s tastes.  The La Esmeralda section is family friendly and equally spectacular.

La Perla Junior SuiteI stayed in a Royal Service Junior Suite which was nearly as big as the apartment I share with my boyfriend and two cats.  The room is beautifully decorated with two white closets and plenty of drawers, a king bed with an aquatic themed headboard, a sitting area featuring a couch, coffee table, table and chairs and more.  The bathroom was something out of a dream with a shower big enough for a party with two rain shower heads that provided just the right amount of water pressure, a huge bathtub and more than enough space on the vanity to keep all of your necessities organized.  All of this comes standard in any junior suite at the Paradisus La Perla but since I was in Royal Service my balcony also featured a Jacuzzi.

When you have the Royal Service upgrade, a butler is a part of your package.  I was introduced to my butler at check in (which happens in the exclusive Royal Service lobby).  He took my bags and showed me to my room, pointing out features of the building like the small fitness centre exclusive for RS guests. After the standard “here is your safe and how to use it, here is the thermostat, here is the tv remote” he asked if I was on Whatsapp and when I confirmed he asked for my phone number.  From that point on we were able to communicate via text.   The next morning as I was enjoying a gourmet breakfast at the restaurant available exclusively to Royal Service guests Fernando, my butler, texted me to see what my plans were for the day.  I told him that since it was a bit windy I would rather be by the pool than the beach and that I would go find a spot soon.  He replied almost instantly letting me know that he had a bali bed by the pool ready for me.  What a treat! I quickly realized that the major benefit of having my own butler was that I had the freedom to simply send a text from the pool or my room to arrange a la carte reservations, inquire about spa services, request late check out etc. without having to get up and wander into a lobby to chat with the front desk or a customer services desk.  I consider my time very valuable and this is a service that I genuinely appreciated.

Other services available when you have a butler on your vacation at the Paradisus La Perla are:

  • preparation of whirlpool bath in your room if you wish.  Just shoot him a text and let him know when you would like to enjoy a bath on your balcony and he’ll have everything set up for you including bubbles and towels.  If you request some sparkling wine for your bath, they’ll be happy to oblige.
  • personalized coffee service in the room
  • free ironing of up to two garments per day
  • shoe shining services
  • booking of the tennis courts and other activities
  • personalized mini-bar in the room adapted to your taste
  •  unpacking and repacking of your suitcase
  • personalized wake up calls
  • And more!

Although an upgrade to a vacation that includes a butler may not be practical for every traveller or every trip, it’s certainly something that has value and well worth considering for your next special vacation.  You absolutely won’t regret it!

To book your next vacation to Paradisus Playa Del Carmen reach out to our team!

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Casie’s Living The Palace Life in Cancun – Part 3

Celebrating Day of the Dead in Cancun

45487667_551688051958954_7707979971347611648_nDay of the Dead is a Mexican celebration of life and death that takes place Nov 01 and 02. Palace Resort’s does an amazing job at showing their clients this special occasion.

In the lobby at the Grand at Moon Palace there is a display when you walk in including two Calacas, a colloquial Mexican Spanish name for Skeleton.

You will see colorful alters around the resort lobby areas. Alters are meant to bring the deceased spirits back. There are four elements; air represented by cut out paper, water represented by drinks, fire represented by candles and earth represented by seeds. They can either be two, three or seven steps tall. The seven steps are most sophisticated and the ones we saw more of.

While we were visiting the Beach Palace in Cancun we got to see so many beautiful alters! The hard work that is put into them blows my mind.

Grand at Moon Palace put on a special event for us. They had three alters and a table at the back where we could lay a picture of a deceased love one to celebrate their life. It was a little emotional but most of us saw the happiness in celebrating the life they lived.

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If you ever get a chance to visit Mexico during Day of the Dead I highly recommend going!  Here are a few more of my photos form this really amazing event.

That’s it from me on the Grand at Moon Palace Cancun.  If you would like to know more about this amazing resort or would like to book your own vacation please feel free to reach out to me here in Saskatoon at 306-955-1449 or casie@uniglobevacation.com.

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Casie’s Living The Palace Life in Cancun – Part 2

Grand at Moon Palace Cancun blew my mind away! If you have kids this is the resort for your family.

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The water park was my favorite! There are three slides, a wave pool, lazy river and a water park for the young ones. In the same area is the kids center which includes bumper cars, arcade games, glow in the dark mini golf and so much more! The kids Center was perfect for a rainy day. I may have had a little too much fun but my inner child definitely came out!

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Travel tips:

In order to ride one of the water slides you must be 5’3

Bumper cars are for 5-17 year olds

Once again, Palace Resorts goes above and beyond for their clients. If you have a child celebrating their birthday while on vacation they will throw a birthday party for them. Before your arrival let them know what kind of theme or color and what kind of cake they would like. The staff will do their best to accommodate it. While I was there they were throwing one that was Paw Patrol themed. Super cool! Such a small gesture that goes a long way for the little ones.

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When you stay at the Grand you also have access to Moon Palace Cancun, transfers between resorts are complimentary. Over at the Moon Palace they have a flow rider that’s fun for kids and adults! You have the option to surf or knee board.

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Don’t worry adults they have not forgotten about you! You have the option to relax at the Adults Only Pool or treat yourself to the spa. There is also a golf resort on site! After all it is your vacation to enjoy as well!

Travel tip: don’t forget you can use your resort credits and only pay the tax on spa and golf.

Want to know more about this amazing resort?  Feel free to reach out to me here in Saskatoon at 306-955-1449 or casie@uniglobevacation.com!

Stay tuned for my final blog all about celebrating dia de los muertos in Mexico!

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Casie’s Living The Palace Life in Cancun – Part 1

Living the Palace Life

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If you want to feel like a prince or princess the Grand at Moon Palace is the place to be!

From being greeted with a welcome drink and flower upon arrival to the service everyday throughout the resort you will not be disappointed!

Ladies, Palace resorts make your life so much easier when it comes to packing. They provide Chi products including shampoo, conditioner, blow drier, straightener and even bubble bath for the jetted tub! There is also an amenities box in the bathroom and if you forgot anything I’m sure they have you covered.

Speaking of the ladies, check out the beautiful ladies washroom at the main lobby.  I imagine this is what it feels like to be a princess!

Palace resorts didn’t forget about the little ones either! The Awe Spa offers special “Awe Princess” services for 4-12 year olds. Services include manicures, pedicures and hair creations like braids or up-does.

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The service at the restaurants is outstanding! They greet you with a friendly smile and make sure to ask if you have any allergies. If you do, they are accommodating and make it a hassle free experience. If you don’t feel like leaving your room, room service is only a button away! Available 24/7 for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Need to be somewhere early in the morning and not sure if you’ll have time for breakfast? Just order room service the night before and tell them what time you’d like it.

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Life is so easy at the Palace!

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ROYALTON NEGRIL – Hotel Review

Casie recently vacationed at the luxurious Royalton Negril.  She stayed in the adults only Hideaway section.   Here is her hotel review.


Location: Directly on the beach about 1.5/2 hours from Montego Bay airport. We didn’t go into town so I’m not sure how long it would take. There is a little market across the street we walked too which was very convenient!

Beach: I found the beach at the Hideaway pretty small and secluded but not as nice as the amazing beach on the Royalton side. There was a bit of seaweed but nothing too bad and nothing more than expected travelling to the Caribbean in the summer.

Pool Areas: There are three pools throughout the resort, all infinity pools with swim up bars and a kids pool.

  1. The Hideaway one was nice since it was adults only but busy.  They did bring a couple options for lunch over to the bar. The day we were there they had chicken wings and jerk chicken wraps. They had water aerobics daily.
  2. Main Pool at Royalton was the biggest. They had lounge chairs in the pool. Right beside the bar is a grill. We only spent an hour at this pool because it was too busy for us.
  3. Diamond Club Pool in the Royalton section is where we went every day. They also had the lounge chairs in the pool and a couple fountains. There was a Diamond Club Beach Bar beside it. You could order food off the menu with good selection. They also had entertainment everyday here; trivia, dancers, steel drum band, dance lessons and water aerobics.
  4. Kids Pool had a waterpark with a bucket that dumps on you when it gets full.  It looked like a lot of fun.

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Restaurants: At the Hideaway there are two a la cartes, Ocean Bistro and Dorado. We went to Dorado a few times for breakfast and supper once. The food and service was great!

Royalton had the buffet. We ate breakfast here the first couple days. Food was as expected for a buffet.

We did two a la carte’s on the Royalton side, Hunter Steakhouse and the Italian. Both were really good! Service at the steakhouse was good but we did have to wait a while for a Mojitio.  The Italian also offered take away pizza throughout the day. The best pizza I have had at an all-inclusive!

Royalton had a cafe in their lobby. My friend got Gelato our first night. I had the soft ice cream and it was really good!

There was also a Sports Bar on the Royalton side. We went a couple nights.  This is also where the disco is but I don’t think it’s open every night. We only saw a DJ there once. There was food here too.

Room Service: We ordered room service a few times which was super easy! You can do it off the TV then they will call to reconfirm your order. Besides the long wait the food was good! My favorite was their chicken noodle soup. I ordered it every time! Their options were; fruit platter, shrimp, chicken noodle soup, wrap and sandwiches, Caesar salad and chicken fingers.

Room: We were in the Diamond Club Luxury Junior Suite Ocean View which was super nice!! The toilet and shower are separate with the double sink and bathtub in the open. We had two queen beds. Our wrist band was our room key which was very handy!

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I absolutely loved my first visit to Jamaica and staying in Negril.  If you are interested in the Royalton Negril or would like some help planning your next Jamaican vacation please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  You can email me at casie@uniglobevacation.com or 306-955-1449.

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