Experience the Sandals & Beaches Resorts of Jamaica With Casie – Part 3

 

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Another great reason to stay at a Sandals or Beaches property is to support the Sandals Foundation! It is a non-profit organization launched back in March 2009 to help Sandals Resorts International continue to make a difference in the Caribbean. 100% of every dollar donated goes directly towards funding areas like education, community and environment.

One of the ways you can support Sandals Foundation is by bringing a backpack with school supplies, clothing, toys/games and books. When you check into your resort they will take the backpack from you and distribute the items accordingly. While you are on vacation you can get involved and give back with Reading Road Trip through Island Routes. Visitors can volunteer 2 hours of their time at one of Sandals Foundation’s adopted schools. You get to interact with the children and help them with their literacy skills. There is a nominal fee which includes cost of ground transportation.

Another way to support Sandals Foundation is simply by making a donation. When you are checking into one of their properties you can make a donation at that time or anytime online.

Jamaica is currently supporting the following projects; Great Shape Dental Eye Care Program, Marine Sanctuaries and Construction & upgrades to local schools. Each year volunteers include opticians, optical technicians, nurses and more from the United States and Canada to participate in the weeklong clinic.

Sandals and Beaches Resorts have also made an environmentally friendly decision to use paper straws only. If you do not like paper straws you can purchase a reusable straw at the gift shop on property. All proceeds go to Sandals Foundation.

Sandals and Beaches completely changed my perspective of what an All Inclusive resort can be.  If you’re looking for more than just your standard, cookie cutter hot holiday then give me a shout at 306-934-3400 or casie@uniglobevacation.com and we can start planning your Luxury Included vacation today!

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Experience the Sandals & Beaches Resorts of Jamaica With Casie – Part 2

After experiencing all the Sandals properties in Jamaica I believe there is a resort for everyone! Whether you want something quiet and intimate or busy and upbeat Sandals does it all for couples in love!

Sandals Negril Swimout Suite

Swim up Crystal Lagoon Beachfront One Bedroom Butler Suite at Sandals Negril

Sandals Negril would be my favorite. The Seven Mile Beach is breathtaking and the resort is so beautiful! We were lucky enough to experience a swim out suite which I highly recommend. Being able to step into the pool from your patio and just a few steps away from the beach, what more would you want? The main pool was closed but I have previously visited this resort and the pool is one of the best parts! Entertainment staff will always make sure you’re enjoying yourself. If you ever find yourself at Sandals Negril don’t forget to check out Kimonos, a Teppanyaki-style restaurant. The chefs make this an unforgettable memory! Spots are limited and reservations are required*

My second favorite would be Sandals South Coast. A very romantic, intimate resort but still exceeding expectations in nightlife. Latitudes is an over water bar that features 360 degree ocean views. Either relax by the fire pits or in a hammock suspended over the water where you can enjoy sunset cocktails. When the sun goes down continue the party at the Martini Bar where you can find a DJ and dance floor!

Sandals goes above and beyond to make your vacation one you’ll never forget! From beautiful views to inspired entertainment to amazing service you are sure to have a good time. Gourmet dining and premium drinks are also a bonus! Do you ever stress about how much to tip your bartender, server or maid? At Sandals all tips are included!

Which Sandals resort are you and your loved one going to explore?!

Sandals South Coast

Experience the Sandals & Beaches Resorts of Jamaica With Casie – Part 1

Hello from Jamaica! I just spent three nights at Beaches Ocho Rios and this is a resort every family needs to experience!

Pirate Island Water Park is fun for the whole family! It features eleven water slides including six kiddie slides allowing youngest guests to slip n slide their way into an unforgettable Caribbean vacation. This water park also includes a Treasure Isle Aqua-Play area and a kids zero entry kiddie pool. Kids even have the option to relax in their own lounger! Every Monday night there is a tweens and teens pool party!

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How cool would it be to get tucked into bed by Grover? That’s an option at Beaches Resorts! For an additional cost you can arrange a Sesame character to come read your kid a bedtime story and tuck them in. Mom and dad will have a tough time topping that experience!

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Beaches Resorts is the first resort company in the world to complete the IBCCES training and autism certification. They offer families with children (and adults) who have autism and other special needs specialized service, engaging activities and custom dining options. They have introduced a new Sesame Street character, Julia, who is a 4 year old with autism. She is there to remind other children that every child is special. Julia and her leader teach children that kids with autism don’t like loud noises and sometimes don’t reply but understand what is going on.

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When Beaches says they’re the resort for everyone they really mean it! Next on my adventure is Sandals!

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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