Joanne’s Top 5 Beaches

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Are you dreaming of a beach vacation?  Imagine warm sun, a light breeze and the sound of the ocean meeting the shore.  When it comes to breathtaking beaches, Joanne has sure seen some perfect ones.   Here are her top 5 sandy spots and a few hotel suggestions for each.

Palm Beach, Aruba

Joanne Aruba 2018

This two-mile long stretch of powder white sand is home to water sports, palm trees, casinos, hotels, beach bars and so much more.  The water is calm and it’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset.

Want to stay right on Palm Beach?  Plan your next vacation to the RIU Palace Aruba, Barcelo Aruba or the Ritz Carlton Aruba.

 

Pigeon Island Beach, Saint Lucia

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Pigeon Island was once a true island but has now been connected to the Northern part of Saint Lucia by a causeway.  This island is now a national landmark full of history and beauty.

If you’re considering a stay in Saint Lucia ask your travel agent about Sandals Grande St Lucian, Royalton Saint Lucia or Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa.

Dickenson Bay Beach, Antigua

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This bay is located on the Northwestern coast of Antigua.  This super popular beach has shallow, calm waters and white sand and is a great spot to visit a restaurant, do some water sports or even stay.

To stay at Dickenson Bay you’ll want to book Sandals Grande Antigua, Blue Waters Hotel & Beach Resort or Rex Halcyon Cove.

 Maroma Beach, Mexico

Joanne Maroma

Located in the Riviera Maya this is one of the easiest beaches on Joanne’s list to access.  Known for it’s white sand and crystal clear waters this is one of the top beaches in Mexico.

Staying in Maroma could mean choosing the ultimate luxury of over water bungalows at the El Dorado Maroma by Karisma, indulging at the Secrets Maroma or enjoying the Catalonia Playa Maroma.

Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana

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If you are headed to Punta Cana there’s a good chance you’ll be staying on Bavaro Beach.   This 10km shoreline is known for it’s white sand and turquoise waters and has many hotels and resorts to choose from.

Some awesome resorts you may want to check out on Bavaro Beach are the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Barcelo Bavaro Palace or Majestic Mirage Punta Cana.

Although travelling is not currently recommended we know that we will travel again in the future.  If any of these beaches caught your eye and you want to learn more about them and the vacation options near them, Joanne would love to chat with you.  You can reach her at joanne@uniglobeyxe.com.


Want to see more photos from Joanne and the rest of our team’s travels?  Check out our Instagram @uniglobeyxe.

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!

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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Jewel Runaway Bay For Kids & Kids at Heart – Karen’s in Jamaica

As I mentioned, I’m all about experiences.  This one is for the children that we love in our lives. I had the chance to visit the Jewel Runaway Bay and it is THE resort for kids. Jewel Runaway BayThere is a water park with a zero entry pool and a splash playground for the little ones. It has fast water slides for the big ones and adults that want to have fun. Then there is the lazy river for the whole family. There is even a snow cone station!  I was also super impressed with the amount of life guards that were placed around the pools.  It’s so nice to see that they take safety seriously.

There is also a ranch! At the ranch there are outdoor movies, horse carriage rides and laser tag, both in the day and at night. The kids clubs are broken up into age categories and daily activities are available for ages 18Months until 17 years. There are so many amazing activities I can’t even list them all. Everywhere I go I always very carefully check out the activities for kids. This resort has more than I have ever seen and cannot wait to take my own kids.

I’m home in Saskatoon now and back to work so if you would like more information on amazing vacation options in Jamaica or anywhere else in the world give me a shout!  I would love to help you plan your next getaway.   You can reach me at 306-934-3400 or karen@uniglobevacation.com .

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The BEST Thing at Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall – Karen’s In Jamaica

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I often talk about how important experiences are to me and the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall did not disappoint. The very first place I found when I arrived at this resort was the sweet shop – BiteZ.  And guess what? It was close to my room!  It was love at first sight.  BiteZ has all of the sweets you could imagine with cookies, cakes and ice cream. They have an amazing display with so many things it was hard to pick just one. They also serve ice coffees; my favorite. The best part of it all would have to be the chocolate fountain and all of the treats available to dip in it!   All of this is included with your stay. Sometimes if you are lucky you can come across a chocolate making class as well! Find this great place early in your trip and you will find yourself turning down desserts with your meals just so you can visit BiteZ.

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JERK CHICKEN – KAREN’S IN JAMAICA

34687021_10160753410730508_6633330577808293888_n Jerk Chicken.jpgWhen I go on vacation it is not always about the place I sleep.  I want an experience that I can take home. Today I made that memory.  Today at the Zoetry Montego Bay I visited their jerk chicken shack. Now, everyone has told me before going that I must try this in Jamaica. I will be honest, I was skeptical. I have tried many dishes around the world that blew my mind. This did not disappoint. Not only was the food so amazing that it would go on my list of top 5 meals of all time but it was the experience that made it for me. Everyone was there to welcome me and show me around the “kitchen” The music was playing in the background and the view was top notch. I have a video of this to share with everyone when I return if you want to see more. So far this is my favorite Jamaican moment.

I’m off to the Hyatt Zilara later today.   I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Zoetry Montego Bay Resort Tour

Club Mobay & Why You Need It – Karen’s In Jamaica

Club Mobay, what it is and why it is important on your next trip to Jamaica.

34560481_10160750333405508_2766241066435739648_nI want to tell you about my experience today and I think you will find this service very valuable. Upon arrival at the Montego Bay airport as I exited the plane and walked down the ramp there was a kind lady waiting for me holding a sign with my name. Once I introduced myself she asked me to follow her. She whisked me to the front of all of the lines.  It was like being at Disney and having a fast pass when everyone is waiting in the regular line for hours.  All this time this kind lady was getting to know me and the things I like to do.  She was giving me tips on excursions, restaurants and where to shop.  It was like having my own tour guide before I even left the airport. After helping me through customs and making sure I had everything filled out properly she brought me to the Club Mobay lounge.  I was met with food and drinks while she went to go and see if my transfer had arrived.  Now, my transfer hadn’t arrived and if I had gone out there it would have started my trip off on a bad foot.  The club Mobay staff made sure that I was well taken care of and then arranged for my transfer to pick me up. Once my ride was there they escorted me out and put me in the car. An invaluable service for an experienced traveler, a new traveler or just if you want to make sure you are taken care of.  I would recommend this service for every trip to Jamaica.

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COLLEEN VISITED UTILA, HONDURAS

Recently we were in La Ceiba Honduras and decided to take the ferry over to the island of Utila and I am very happy that we did.  Utila is a very small island about ½ hour ferry ride from La Ceiba that is your perfect island getaway.  It is only 11.2km long and 3km wide so it makes it easy to walk almost anywhere.  It is known for its great diving as it is situated on the edge of the Mesoamerican reef which is the second largest living coral reef in the world.  I was told that it is also the least expensive place to get your PADI dive certification.

 

IMG_2189 (2)When our ferry pulled up to the dock we were met by different dive companies picking up passengers and hotels looking for customers.  We already had a reservation at the Jade Seahorse so we just jumped into a Tuk Tuk and we were off.  Because the island is so small, there are no cars.  Only Tuk Tuks, bikes or motor cycles.  We had heard great things about our hotel but we were not prepared for the beautiful artwork that makes up the grounds at the Jade Seahorse.  At the back are the 6 cabins that you can rent, each with its own decor and art work.  I say cabins but they all had a fridge, air conditioning, basket of toiletries and floor fans.  We stayed at the Fantasea which is on the top floor with roof top patios that have views of the ocean.  You would have to see it to believe it.  If you are not staying there, you can come in and have a look around.

 

The island is known for its greatIMG_2203 (2) restaurants and night life.  With names like Rehab, Relapse and Skid Row Bar and Grill it makes you think there is a theme there.  Utila is very inexpensive!   Beer is around $2.00 and suppers are no more than $20.00 .  If you are looking for someplace new to go where the water is fine and the living is easy, you should check out Utila.  We will definitely go back!

 

 

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Correna’s Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Royal Princess – Part 2

We arrived into St Thomas this morning. It is a beautiful island but you can still see some of the damage caused by the hurricane this past summer.

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Here is a little tip for you if you are looking for Wi-Fi. There is the tourism office right at the cruise port and they do offer a lot of information as well as free Wi-Fi!  This is a hot commodity as Wi-Fi can be expensive on the ship. I was able to help a couple who were trying to use WhatsApp instead of having to pay the higher rates with their cell phone provider. When in doubt about using other services like WhatsApp, iMessage or Skype through Wi-Fi instead of your cell phone data talk with your tech savvy friends and family before you leave. They will be able to fill you in for sure.

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After Irma, Harvey and the Others – Where Should You Vacation?

It has been a busy season when it comes to natural disasters in Mexico, the Caribbean and Southern United States. We’re sure you’re wondering if your favourite vacation destinations and resorts are where you should choose to vacation this winter.

Here is a list of destinations that we have received notifications about that are just fine or will be very soon:

 

MEXICO

Cancun & Riviera Maya

  • This area of Mexico and the Caribbean has seen no significant damage! All of your favourite resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya are open for business as usual.

Puerto Vallarta

  • This area of Mexico has not been affected by any tropical storms or the recent earthquake that hit the West coast. Feel free to visit whenever you like!

Los Cabos

  • The majority of resorts and hotels in this area of the Baja Peninsula are doing just fine. There are some that will need a week or two to open back up but you can confidently book your winter vacation packages to Los Cabos.

Huatulco

  • Although the recent earthquake was felt in Huatulco all tourist areas and hotels are ready to welcome you.

 

JAMAICA

  • All of your favourite resorts in Jamaica are open for business, unless closed for scheduled maintenance, and ready to serve you.

 

TURKS & CAICOS

  • Beaches Turks plans to reopen cleaned up and better than ever just in time for your winter vacation on December 14!
  • Club Med Turkoise is welcoming guests back to their resort as early as September 30, 2017.

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism reports that the country’s tourist destinations were not negatively affected by Hurricane Irma and are up-and-running as usual. All airports, seaports, highways, tourist attractions, and hotels in all major destinations, such as Punta Cana / Bávaro, Samaná, Sosúa, Cabarete, Puerto Plata, La Romana / Bayahibe, Juan Dolio, Santo Domingo and others are operating normally.

 

BAHAMAS

  • Nassau and Paradise Island were not impacted by Hurricane Irma. Your favourite hotels like Sandals Royal Bahamian, Atlantis Paradise Island, Melia Nassau Beach Resort and Sandals Emerald Bay and more are all open and welcoming guests.

 

FLORIDA

Orlando

  • Walt Disney World’s four theme parks have reopened with most attractions up and running. The Disney Resort hotels have returned to normal operation with the exception of Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas.    The two Disney water parks will reopen later this week.   Walt Disney World is known as one of the safest places to be during an emergency – you can safely plan your next Disney vacation as soon as you like!
  • Legoland Florida’s theme park is resuming its regular schedule today, Thursday September 14. Their water park will reopen soon as well.
  • Universal Orlando Resort is open for business with minor damage to report.
  • SeaWorld Orlando is back to normal as well.
  • Port Canaveral has resumed operations.

Miami

  • Power is returning to Miami neighborhoods as quickly as possible. Miami airport is open and hoping to return to full operations by the weekend.
  • The port of Miami re-opened to cruise ships on Wednesday.
  • Many Miami Beach hotels are currently open offering reduced rates for Florida residents who do not have power yet.

Fort Lauderdale

  • The Fort Lauderdale airport is up and running normally – however some delays are to be expected.
  • Port Everglades has been cleared by the U.S. Coast Guard and is open for business.

 

TEXAS

  • Downtown Houston is dry but may areas of Texas have a long road ahead of them before they will fully recover from the flooding and destruction.

 

ANIGUA & BARBUDA

  • In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the island of Antigua is pleased to report that no hotels have closed as a result of the storm, although a few of the properties had already closed prior to Irma for their annual renovations and general spruce-up, in preparation for the busy festive season. By supporting tourism in Antigua, your patronage will help to rebuild Barbuda.

 

CUBA

  • Information regarding the state of many of Cuba’s tourist areas like Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria is still limited at this time. We’ll work to keep you updated as we know more.   The following details regarding hotels in Varadero was found in the Havana Times on September 12.
    • Blau Marina Varadero – The hotel had to evacuate its guests yesterday morning. The Hotel received serious damage due to its location which is very exposed as it is located right on the tip of the peninsula. The main building suffered serious damage (roof, glass doors, etc.). Structural damage could be noted in the room buildings. The beach eroded due to the waves.
    • Melia Marina Varadero – Some rooms have broken windows and damage to the balconies but the biggest damage can be seen in the common areas of the hotel, especially in the lobby. The hotel is located on a hill so the protection against gusts of wind is minimal.
    • Grand Memories Varadero – The hotel suffered some damage due to gusts of wind. The lobby will require restoration work and it is one of the hotels that suffered major damage to the roof and common areas such as gardens and pool areas. According to reports from the General Manager approximately 40 rooms were damaged and have broken windows. In general, there is no great structural damage and the damage is considered moderate. Access to the beach is virtually blocked.
    • Memories Varadero – The hotel is generally in good condition. Some recovery work will be required in corridors, public areas and some rooms on high floors where roof leaks can only be repaired by replacing the roof in its entirety. The hotel has already re-opened the lobby bar without alcoholic beverages at the moment. Recovery work is being done quickly by the hotel staff to be able to re-establish regular services as soon as possible.
    • Paradisus Varadero – The hotel suffered extensive damage. Ceilings were blown off in some structures in the Family Concierge areas and will require considerable investment to recover. The main building was equally devastated; the new restaurant that was under construction near the beach collapsed.
    • Royalton Hicacos – This is another hotel that suffered major damage. The beach area eroded due to the waves. The restaurant on the beach also suffered extensive damage. The main buffet area is very exposed so it suffered serious damage especially to the roof. You could see a lot of rubble in the area. The Caribeño restaurant has broken windows. The Rooms area did not seem to have major damage.
    • Iberostar Varadero – The Hotel was severely affected. Part of the palapa-like straw roofs disappeared. The theater is partially destroyed. The palapa roof in some rooms was equally destroyed. The palapas around the pool were destroyed and there is debris in the area.
    • Be Live Turquesa – The hotel was evacuated so it was not possible to perform a complete inspection.
    • Playa de Oro – You could see broken windows in several rooms. The pool area was quite affected and the lobby area also has noticeable damage. The disco area has some parts of the roof collapsed. Landscaped areas have fallen trees. The restaurant is running and providing food service.
    • ROC Arenas Doradas – The hotel seemed in good condition. Some air conditioners were ripped off the walls but light damage can be recovered relatively quickly.
    • Meliá Las Antillas – The hotel is generally in good condition and without serious damage to its structures.
    • Blau Varadero – The hotel has a very solid structure however being a tall building it always receives some damage when a hurricane hits the area. The lobby was in good condition however the rooms on higher floors may have suffered some damage.
    • Starfish Varadero – The hotel was generally found in good condition. Lobby without noticeable damage.
    • Brisas del Caribe – The rooms were badly damaged. During the inspection visit you could see several tourists waiting to be changed rooms due to leaks in broken ceilings and windows. The lobby also suffered some damage.
    • Iberostar Laguna Azul – The hotel is located on a hill however it did not suffer serious damage considering its exposed location. Partial damage could be noticed on the roof of the restaurant in the beach area, some palapas destroyed.
    • Starfish Cuatro Palmas – The hotel was evacuated. Some structural damage could be noticed, mainly in the ceilings of some buildings. It was not possible to make a full visit since no staff were found on the property.

 

Keep in mind that clean up and repairs after a disaster can be very costly on a country.   Many of these destinations rely heavily on tourism and would greatly appreciate a visit from you and your family this winter. 

Reach out to our team for more information on these or any other destinations you may be interested in for your winter 2017/18 vacation.  We are here to help make sure you have the very best holiday possible.

Circle Drive  306-934-3400
Sutherland 306-955-1449