Jamie’s Ixtapa Island Excursion

Prior to travelling to Ixtapa, we had several people recommend Ixtapa Island as a good excursions for families.  We tend to stick close to the resorts with the kids when we travel as they are quite happy enjoying the pools and activities that the all inclusive resorts have to offer.  However, by mid week away, we thought the kids would be up for a change of scenery and started looking at option for a trip out to Ixtapa Island.  There were 13 of us all together, 6 adults, 7 kids aged 4-11.

Option1:  We discussed the excursion with our Westjet Vacations rep.  The cost was going to be $28USD per child and $40USD per adult (reduced from $45 USD if we paid cash and because we were a group).  For my family of 5, that would be just over $200 CDN.

Option 2:  Online booking is an option, but when checking Viator and Expedia they were a similar price of around $200 CDN for my family of 5.

Option 3:  We could go on our own.  The $200 CDN included transportation from our hotel to the water taxi, Roundtrip ferry/water taxi to the Island, lunch, one drink and reserved chairs.  We were pretty sure we could do this on our own for quite a bit less and Ixtapa is a pretty quiet place that we were comfortable exploring on our own.  The Taxi (15 minute drive) to the Ferry was $160 Pesos each way.  The Ferry (10 minutes each way) roundtrip was $50 pesos per person.  The restaurants will give you chairs/loungers/palapas for free if you are ordering food and drinks from them.  We were there for about 5 hours and lunch and a drink worked out to be roughly $200 – $250 pesos per person.  This was about $125 CDN for our family of 5 – almost half price of taking the tour.

It was very easy to manage on our own.  Taxi’s are plentiful, as are the water taxis.  There are several restaurants on the three main beaches and this way we were able to choose when we left and when we returned and we were more on our own schedule, which worked well for us.  We went to Varadero Beach, which was great for little guys wanting to swim.  It was very shallow and calm and the not quite as hot as the snorkeling beach as the sun took a bit longer to come around to that side.  From Varadero Beach, you can walk about 500 feet, through the restaurant to the snorkeling beach.  This beach wasn’t good for little guys to swim, but had tons of fish and great snorkeling for the older ones.  The location was good here, being able to easily go back and forth.  They had an outdoor shower and bathroom facilities and the food and drinks were good.  We were at the Lili Cipriani restaurant.

Coconut Shrimp

We really enjoyed our time at Ixtapa Island and being able to swim in the ocean as the shore break was quite rough on the main beach of Ixtapa and made it hard for kids (and some adults) to go in swimming.  I would definitely recommend spending a day of your vacation on Ixtapa Island.

Ixtapa Island fun

Ixtapa Island Beach

Jamie’s Bleisure Moment at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

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The hot topic in travel these days is “Bleisure”…the desire of business travellers to add on some personal or leisure time to enhance a business trip. I was attending a conference at the Grand Velas Resort in Puerto Vallarta and when looking into flight times, it worked out that I would have several free hours before the start of the conference. I decided to have my own “Bleisure” moment and plan something fun. I have been to Puerto Vallarta a few times before and I gave some thought to going into Old Town, maybe doing some shopping or finding a great restaurant, but I decided to play it by ear and see what I felt like, once I arrived. I realized very quickly after my arrival, where I wanted to spend my free time.

When you first pull into the lobby of the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, you are asked to take a seat in a comfortable chair and you are given a refreshing, chilled pineapple drink. Then the concierge asks the magic question “Would you like a Spa Representative to give you a little head and shoulder massage while we check you in?”…….Ummm – YES, please!

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After a long day of airports and travelling, this lovely woman from the spa appears and over the next 10 minutes, she gave me the best shoulder massage I have ever had. These folks at the Grand Velas know how to sell a product! When she asked if I would like to make an appointment at the Spa, it was impossible to say no.

The following morning, I found myself arriving at the spa. There is nothing better than walking into a peaceful spa area, full of the scent of lemongrass and instantly relaxing. The very helpful and gracious spa concierge led me to the changing area, followed by the different water therapy areas, which are included with any spa service. It started with a dry sauna that is infused with cinnamon, followed by a stay in the Eucalyptus steam room. Then you get a cold ice rub, guaranteed to help with your metabolism and circulation, before popping into a sensory shower. Next up a jacuzzi, then hot and cold pools. Throughout the steps, they give you special drinks for energy and well being. All of this took place in a women’s only lounge area filled with natural light, plants, waterfalls and soft music.

The 80 minute therapeutic massage combined aromatherapy, reflexology, acupressure and traditional deep tissue massage. At the end of the massage experience, you can spend as long as you like in the water therapy area, or relax on a lounger with some warm spiced tea.

The spa is fully equipped with everything you may need, from full shower facilities, to toothpaste and mouthwash, brushes, combs and hair products. It was so easy and peaceful and they truly have thought of everything. Two and a half hours after I walked into the spa, I walked out feeling like an entirely new person. It was time well spent and I was now refreshed, relaxed and ready for a few days of meetings and networking. A perfect combination of business and leisure.

Are you ready to start planning your own bleisure getaway?  Our team of leisure and corporate agents are ready to help with whatever it is you’re dreaming of.

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Paradisus Playa del Carmen is Perfect For Everyone

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Paradisus Playa del Carmen is split into two resorts. There is the adults only side, Paradisus La Perla and the family side, La Esmeralda. Having two resorts in one is a huge benefit when traveling as adults only, families and groups and here is why:

Adults:

As an adult you have free range of most pools, restaurants, bars and other public areas in both resorts. An upgrade to the Royal Service on the La Perla side or Family Concierge on the La Esmeralda will give you full access to all areas including the pools, beaches and restaurants that are exclusive to these special room categories. As an adult you will have exclusive adult only spaces and restaurants. Even if you book on the family side you will be able to access these spaces but your kids cannot join you. This will expand your choices for restaurants, pool areas and beach sections. It is great to have the extra options. The rooms on the adult side are designed for romance. Be sure to take advantage of the bathtub that’s big enough for two!

Families:

The family side, La Esmeralda, still has many restaurant, beach and pool options. They also have some great inclusions for families. The water park is a great area for families to hang out. They have a large splash park that caters to both older and younger kids. There are plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas so everyone in the family can enjoy themselves and hangout in the same area. Parents can take advantage of the baby, kids and teen clubs offered at this resort. There is a daily schedule of activities that the kids can enjoy to give the parents a break. Even at the main pool area they have a pirate ship play structure. No matter which area you would like to hang out for the day there will be something for the kids to be entertained. If your family upgrades to the Family Concierge your room will have upgraded kids amenities (such as mini robes and slippers), plus your family will have exclusive access to the Family Concierge beach section.

Groups:

If you are planning a group trip or a destination wedding then this resort is perfect for you! Booking into either resort, you will be able to set up private events. Only two wedding can be scheduled in one day and they have a minimum of three hours between them. With both outdoor and indoor venues, your wedding will go off without a hitch, even if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. The wedding gazebo on the beach is my personal favorite. The bride can also look into booking the bridal suite. This is an exclusive area to get ready for her big day! Romance by Paradisus also specializes in same sex ceremonies. The wedding packages are diverse and have many inclusions depending of what kind of ceremony you are looking for.

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Where You Want To Be Married

As you can see, no matter what type of holiday you are planning the Paradisus Playa del Carmen is a diverse resort and would make an amazing vacation option!

If you have any questions about the Paradisus Playa Del Carmen, Paradisus Cancun or Melia Cozumel please feel free to contact me at 306-955-1449 or cordell@uniglobeyxe.com.  I’m ready to help you experience paradise.

Cordell’s Crazy About Cozumel

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Cozumel is a major cruise port but have you considered it as a vacation destination? Or even a day trip? The island is full of great experiences and I would highly recommend checking it out.  Here are my top three reasons you should put Cozumel on your list to visit:

  1. It’s easy to get to

Cozumel has its own international airport, which means that you can fly to the island. Depending on which city you are departing from, flying may not be your easiest way to arrive. The alternative is taking a ferry from Playa del Carmen. It will cost you 22usd for a roundtrip ticket. The ferry will take about 20 minutes in one direction. The ferry is very easy to catch as it runs every 30minutes. There is a bar on board and music. You can sit inside or take in the views from the top deck.

  1. Things to do

Once you are on the island there is plenty of things to do while you are there. Take in the shopping, bars and restaurants in the main town. Or if you are looking for a more active adventure, rent a car, scooters or 4×4’s and drive around the island. Cozumel is known for its water activities. If you love to snorkel or scuba dive then this is a perfect destination to visit. The island will also have kite-surfing, catamaran tours and fishing.

  1. The beaches and water

Cozumel is a small island but there are plenty of beaches to check out. If you rent a car you can easily find a piece of paradise to set up shop for the day and have it all to yourself. You can find the calm turquoise waters to snorkel and feed the fish. I stayed at the Melia Cozumel where the marine wildlife is right outside your doorstep. I was able to be in waste deep water and have schools of colorful fish swim around me. Be sure to bring a banana if you really want to attract the fish.

 

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The next stop on my trip around Mexico’s East Coast is Playa Del Carmen!  I can’t wait to tell you all about my experiences there.

Check out more photos and videos from all of our team’s travels here.

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

 

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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Heather’s Relaxing Stay At Paradisus Cancun!

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If you are seeking a vacation that is a delight for the senses then Paradisus Cancun is the place for you! From the moment you arrive the aromatherapy surrounds you creating a feeling of relaxation. The open lobby is a vine covered oasis with plenty of seating for families or groups as well as secluded spots for couples. This is a place you will want to spend your time in! Check-in is quickly handled in a welcoming plush, quiet, air conditioned room. Spacious rooms feature comfortable beds, plenty of storage, large cascading rain showers and minibars filled with soda, water, beer and snacks.

Gourmet dining is available at more than ten restaurants – there is something to suite every taste! In between meals you can enjoy a latte from the Nespresso coffee corner or grab a cold treat from the gelato shop. If you are looking for a little extra indulgence I would recommend renting a Bali Bed at Coco Beach Club where you will be treated like royalty with sparkling wine, a tray of fresh fruit, a menu full of delicious food and drink service.

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The spa features countless treatments available in a relaxing atmosphere. Guests in Royal Service rooms have complimentary access to the hydrotherapy circuit which is a refreshing treat after a hot day on the beach. Speaking of the beach, this is the highly sought after white sand and turquoise water that makes you feel like you truly are in paradise.

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Treat yourself to a little luxury on your next vacation at the Paradisus Cancun!

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