Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Amazing Island of St. Lucia

It's one of Oprah's favorite places, it was featured on The Bachelor, is has been compared to the Hawaiian Islands and it is less than 5 hours by air from New York. St. Lucia is becoming the newest destination for travelers looking for a new island getaway. The island is north of Barbados and situated in between Martinique and St. Vincents.

This island has it all - beautiful beaches, an unbelievable rain forest, an active volcano, the spectacular Piton Mountains and wonderful resorts. The island is a year round destination but be prepared for sporadic tropical showers from June - November.

The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, which has a current exchange rate of very roughly $1 2.70 EC$. The U.S. dollar is widely accepted and a passport is needed for U.S. citizens. U.S. residents do not need Visas.

There are two airports, with Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) being the main airport the majority of airlines fly to. The Charles F.L. Charles Airport in Castries is the secondary airport.

St. Lucia is a romantic spot for honeymooners or couples yet offers plenty of family friendly resorts. You can indulge in romantic sunset cruises, ziplining in the forest, a Heritage Tourism Program, a trip to the drive in volcano, a rainforest tram ride or even a visit to Sulphur Springs for a soak in mineral mud.

There is a "Go Bananas" program for families from June 1 - Sept. 30. Kids can play, learn,eat and stay free at select resorts. Kids can experience a "mixology" session and learn how to make tasty banana beverages, receive a free excursion through a selection of available excursions, receive a discount St. Lucia card and booklet, a complimentary room upgrade and a complimentary St. Lucia souvenir.

We are St. Lucia Specialists and can answer your questions about St. Lucia and book your vacation as well. Take a look at St.Lucia's official website for plenty of info:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's Your Dream Vacation?

Please help us with one of our future newsletters! If money were no object - what is your dream vacation? What's on your bucket list?

For a long time, Hawaii was on our bucket list. We traveled to several islands in a week by doing an NCL cruise, the only 7 night cruise that does several islands. Checked that off.

A dolphin swim was another dream. Did that twice, once in Bermuda (wouldn't bother with that again) and once in Ocho Rios - excellent! (There are also good ones in Nassau, the Bahamas). Another one checked off the list.

What's left? Hmmmm...Australia/New Zealand. Thank you Oprah for your recent visit - while this wasn't on the top of our list, once we saw the magnificent scenery it moved up a couple of notches.

A month exploring Italy. Need to win the lottery for this one. While we have the time, we'd like to see not only the biggest tourist areas, but spend time exploring littler known areas and visiting the place of our family heritage, Calabria.

China - land and a river cruise - another must see. Terra cotta warriors, the Great Wall.

Ireland - fly drive. Stay in B & B's and a couple of castles along the way.

What is your dream? Please add your comments - we will be putting these together for one of our monthly newsletters. If you'd like to receive our newsletter - send us your e-mail address and we'd be happy to add you. We have one of the few newsletters that no one ever opts out of receiving because they love the information we provide!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Destination Weddings - What's Included?

A destination wedding can be a money saver for brides and grooms that live in our NY Metro area. A wedding easily exceeds $20,000 - then add on $3,000 - $5,000 or more for a nice honeymoon and you are talking about the equivalent of a down payment on a house for a one day event.

Having your wedding where you will be honeymooning can save thousands of dollars for a bride and groom. Depending on the resort you choose and the number of people who attend, you could have a win-win situation as well as an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

Many resorts provide a free basic wedding for the bride and groom based on the length of stay or number of guests. Depending on the number of guests attending, the room you choose may be upgraded or even free, saving you money on your own honeymoon. Let's take a look at what several resorts offer for weddings.

Sandals is the most well known all inclusive resort that now features beautiful Martha Stewart weddings. They currently have a free Beautiful Beginnings Wedding Package for those couple staying six nights or more in a Concierge category or higher. Included in the package is your personal wedding consultant, a marriage officiant, certified copy of your marriage license, a picturesque wedding location, one 5" X 7" wedding photo, a wedding gift from the resort, bouquet and boutonniere, a beautiful reception location, hors d'oeuvres and sparkling wine, document preparation, a two tier wedding cake, continental breakfast in bed, and government/administrative fees. This is good for the bride and groom and two guests.

What if you have more people than that who will attend? You would need to add on to the package at additional cost. There are also wedding packages you can upgrade to from the basic package with different themes - for instance, their Flutter of Romance package has decorations with butterfly themes, upgraded floral arrangements and an upgraded cake. This choice is currently an additional $1600 - $1800 depending on the resort. Photo above is of a table set for the Sandals Martha Stewart Seaside Serenade package.

At Almond Morgan Bay's St. Lucia property, they have a free "Wedding For You" for couples staying seven nights or more in a deluxe or higher room category. Included in this package is the clerk/magistrate, government fees, registrar/ceremony charges, taxes and gratuities, a decorated wedding location, bottle of champagne, single tired wedding cake, bouquet of local flowers, boutonniere for the groom, a wedding coordinator and postcards of the property. You can upgrade to a Treasured Wedding package that includes the above plus two toasting flutes, a two tired wedding cake, cascading bouquet of tropical flowers for the bride, recorded music on request, manicure and pedicure for the bride, 25 minute couples massage, decorated bedroom , celebration dinner for two, breakfast in bed the morning after the wedding and 24 photos. As of today, the additional price for this upgraded from the free Wedding for You is $1729.

With just about all resorts, if you stay less than the minimum required nights or do not stay in the minimum room category, you would have to pay for the "free" package.

With most resorts, you can add a reception for guests that includes food for an additional fee. Our experience has been that the costs average between $30 and $60 per person additional. With L.I. weddings charging an average of $100 per person and up for a reception - you would see a substantial savings. Floral table arrangements, music - extra, but the pricing is generally much lower than U.S pricing, depending on where you are being married.

Some resorts add perks for the wedding couple based on the number of guests attending. Some will upgrade the brides' room, some offer a free room for the bride and groom, etc. based on the number of guest rooms booked. Your travel agent can help to ensure you get all the pluses you are entitled to!

A destination wedding is one travel type that a couple should never do themselves. This is where the use of a travel agent who specializes in this type of travel is invaluable. The agent acts as the liaison between the resort and couple to ensure no details are overlooked. An agent can also help get more value for your dollar and may be able to pull strings to get an extra or two for you.

Most agents do not charge for their services. You will receive more value for your dollar using an agent than trying to wing a destination wedding on your own.

Keep an eye out for our next post about Destination Weddings - the paperwork needed for a destination wedding.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pre Cruise Hotel - Metropolitan Hotel, Vancouver - May 13, 2011

For those of you traveling on the Golden Princess Alaskan cruise May 14, 20111, we have a group rate at the Metropolitan Hotel for one night pre-cruise - May 13, 2011.

The Metropolitan is a wonderful hotel located on 645 Howe St. in downtown Vancouver. This is a 4 star rated hotel with consistently fantastic reviews on Trip Advisor.

We need 10 rooms booked in order to get the great rate we have. You must secure the room with a credit card and cancel by April 13 to avoid one nights room charge.

For pricing, please e-mail us at or call 516-608-0568.


We recently got a wonderful e-mail from a first time cruiser that booked a cruise with us. She was referred by her sister-in-law, who has booked several trips with us. She had never cruised before and was worried about everything from finding the right cruise line and cabin to how she would get back to the airport after her cruise.

She wanted to go the Caribbean and wanted a ship with plenty to do onboard. She looked at the pictures we have on Webshots of various ships we've either sailed on or toured and she decided that Royal Caribbean was the line she was most interested in. She and her husband were in their late 20's and were traveling by themselves. Her concerns of being bored on the ship were similar to my own concerns when I was deciding on my first cruise. After speaking to her and telling her of our recent experience on Royal Caribbeans Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, she decided to book the Allure of the Seas.

We contacted her last week to ask if she enjoyed the cruise and she was so enthusiastic! She loved everything about it, she said it was just as we described. We provide our first time cruisers with a "First Time Guide To Cruising" that tells them everything to expect, from embarkation to booking shore excursions, what to look for when deciding on a cabin, and what happens at disembarkation. She said that with that guide, there were no surprises and she felt comfortable knowing exactly what to expect.

We love first time cruisers. There is nothing more satisfying than sharing our knowledge with our clients. We explain everything, including how cabins are priced, gratuities, the onboard "cashless" system, and even such minute details such as asking the Cabin Steward to clean out the refrigerator if you have no intention of buying anything from the mini-bar.

Want to know what your first cruise will be like? Contact us!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

El Dorado Seaside Suites Review - Riviera Maya, Mexico

We recently had the pleasure of spending several nights at the El Dorado Seaside Resort located south of Playa del Carmen in Mexico.

The El Dorado Family of Adult Only Resorts in Mexico - El Dorado Royale, EL Dorado Maroma and Seaside each offer a different experience for guests. Royale as the largest, Maroma the smallest and Seaside is right in between.

El Dorado Seaside has 240 rooms and was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the most romantic hotels in the world. Rooms range from junior jacuzzi suites to swim up suites to Presidential suites at this fine resort. The rooms are very well appointed - every room category has a jacuzzi in the suite. Bathrooms are beautiful, with a separate toilet and shower and a large vanity with double sinks and room for all your toiletries. The king sized beds are very comfortable. The rooms are in very good condition, clean and well maintained.

The ambiance at this resort it what makes it so special. You can be as relaxed or as busy as you want to be. The beach is very nice and there are many beach beds available for use. There are three pools. The water is warm and the sand is clean. Kayaks and snorkeling are included and there are other excursions that can be purchased onsite (try a day at Xel-Ha!).

There is a great spa onsite - try a wonderful massage on the beach - it is an experience you won't forget.

Food is excellent - there are six restaurants available with some of the best foods we've tasted at an all inclusive resort. Liquor includes main brands - not just house brands that so many all inclusives provide without it costing extra for you.

The resort is in excellent conditions. The family that owns these El Dorado Resorts are always making changes and improving their properties and you might even see George working on the grounds with employees at one of the resorts!

Who would like this resorts? Any couple who wants a romantic retreat with fine food and great ambiance. It is perfect for honeymoons and destination weddings.

Take a look at our pictures here:

Right now, Funjet Vacations is offering free upgrades to a swim up suite for the price of an oceanfront room. Must book by March 30, 2010 - call us for more information - 516-608-0568.