Checking Out the Iberostar Grand Paraiso

After four nights at the Valentin Imperial Maya, my boyfriend and I spent a few nights just down the road at Iberostar Grand Paraiso. This is one of the fanciest and most expensive resorts that I sell to clients, so when I won three nights at a convention last year, I intended to take full advantage. Needless to say, my expectations were HIGH. Read more

4 Nights of Bliss at Valentin Imperial Maya

Well, I’ve found my new favorite resort. My (lucky) boyfriend and I spent half a week at the amazing Valentin Imperial Maya in August. I’m a travel agent and we sell this resort quite frequently, so I had enough points to score four nights in a Diamond Suite. To get an idea of what this place looks like, here’s a Youtube video I found of the room. Read more

Tequila tasting and a mini-tour of downtown Puerto Vallarta

During my Funjet Mega Fam trip to Puerto Vallarta in late February we went on a tour to Mamá Lucia, a tequila factory run by the Leyva family in Mismaloya. To get here you take a lovely bus trip around the mountain area which provides gorgeous views of the bay and lush greenery. Our guide was one of the youngest family members and he seemed almost too young to educate us about tequila, but he certainly knew his stuff. First, the agave plant has to almost come out of the ground, showing its large root called the “pineapple” because of its resemblance to the fruit. The root is then roasted, smashed, and fermented. Some of the tequila is aged for fifteen years before being distributed. We tried several different kinds and even in many flavors, such as almond and even a condensed milk-type flavor which was very nice to sip. I had no idea that tequila comes in so many forms! Read more

Two hours in Bucerias

If your favorite thing to do on vacation is to shop, then Bucerias should be your first stop on the way to your resort in Puerto Vallarta. Close to the airport and downtown, Bucerias is crawling with vendors, many of them slimy and over-complimenting in order to dig into your pockets, but you might find some real gems. From jewelry to dining ware to the typical shot glass you can barter your way and get a good haul for less than $30.

During our Funjet Fam Trip in Puerto Vallarta we just stopped here for a couple hours during our free time. It’s within 10 minutes from our hotel, the Riu Jalisco. Aside from shopping there isn’t really much to discuss about my time there. It was hard to walk around without the vendors calling you into their shops because they had “exactly what I was looking for” and of course, how convenient, they were having a sale that day. I really had to barter but got some good deals eventually. I suppose another way to think about it is that they probably need the money a lot more than I do.

Lovely, lovely Sayulita

Wow. Just wow. I returned yesterday from my Funjet Mega Fam trip to Puerto Vallarta where travel agents from around the country gathered to tour several of the resorts in the area and see some of the sights (many more blog posts to come following this trip). Not only were the resorts amazing but scheduled into the week was a visit to Sayulita, a perfect little town a little north in the Banderas Bay popular for surfing and shopping. In comparison to Cancun, I instantly felt like I was in authentic Mexico. It wasn’t overly touristy or commercialized – or at least not yet – and the locals in the shops were welcoming yet not pushy. I would definitely consider it safe to be there by myself during the day and highly recommending spending a day there. Read more

My First All-Inclusive Experience

It’s been quite a while since I’ve actually sat down to write out a whole post! I keep meaning to take an evening and focus on my blog, which has turned into a spotlight for other travel bloggers lately since I don’t actually travel very much these days. Plus, having a full-time job takes up a lot of, well, time! And I don’t typically feel like sitting in front of the computer again after doing so all day.

Anyway, I started working at a travel agency a few months ago and went on my first trip to learn more about a few of the resorts we sell down in Cancun, Mexico. It’s definitely great having a job that sends me abroad to fun places, even if they are work trips; I have to experience them for myself in order to sell them properly. The bonus is that I got a welcome drink and got to try several food and cocktail samples at each resort 🙂

Here are my reviews of the eleven different all-inclusive resorts I toured while in Cancun/Riviera Maya:

Sandos Caracol (family resort)

I’d have to say that Sandos Caracol was the most unique resort that I saw in that it was so eco friendly to the point that it calls itself an “eco-experience”. It has animal sanctuaries on the property as well as actual Mayan ruins and cenotes, kind of ponds/underground caves. I literally felt like I was in the jungle here. Some of the paths are natural dirt paths that wind through the property, which is filled with lush trees and even a few families of monkeys!

El Dorado Maroma (adults-only)

From what I remember (and a lot of these are blurring together) this was a smaller resort but I really enjoyed this one. The sand was perfect – white and silky with a lovely blue ocean right in front of it. I would be very happy to stay here. The grounds were also full of lush tropical trees and the restaurants seemed great. Definitely would recommend this one!

Generations Maroma (family)

Small, small, small! While the adults staying here have access to the El Dorado Maroma on property, the children are stuck staying in this tiny place. Nothing wrong with it, but it seems like there wouldn’t be enough to do for the kids.

El Dorado Seaside Suites (adults-only)

This El Dorado Seaside Suites seemed very nice as well. I can’t remember very much of it to be honest other than there’s a nudist resort inside this resort, if you’re into that sort of thing. Maybe I’m not too interested in this place since my tour guide wasn’t as exciting or friendly as the ones at the other El Dorados. Oh well!

El Dorado Royale (adults-only)

Out of all of them, including the ones I stayed at, I liked the El Dorado Royale the most. It’s a huge resort, on the same property as El Dorado Casitas Royale and Generations Riviera Maya, and guests have access to both other properties as well. It’s an adult-only property which means no children taking up my stool at the swim-up bar or whining at the table next to me in the romantic restaurant. I also liked that it was the only resort with a culinary theater, which to me is an added bonus. The only problem here is that the beach isn’t swimmable due to protecting the coral reef, but you can go to the Casitas section for swimming.

El Dorado Casitas Royale (adults-only)

Small but expensive huts that’ll get you access to the Royale and Generations Riviera Maya resorts on property. They’re right on the swimmable beach and each “pod” of huts has its own swim-up bar. Lovely little area.

Generations Riviera Maya (family)

This was probably the best family property I saw. It’s clean, new, and every room has an ocean view. Only problem is that children staying here can’t go to the Royale or Casitas Royale on property but their parents can. Restaurants were good and the pool was lovely. Right on the beach.

Azul Fives (stayed here two nights) (family)

I stayed here and wasn’t too excited about it. I took a Jacuzzi bath in my room and a lot of dirt came out of the air sockets, so there was a ton of leftover gunk in the tub when I was done, which made me feel pretty gross. I left it for the cleaning service to clean and came back the next day to a lot more soap and shampoo in the bathroom area, haha! On the plus side, I got a free one bedroom suite all to myself. *boom baby*

Azul Beaches (family)

Meh. I wasn’t impressed with this Azul either. It seemed old and not up to my standards. If I’m going to pay so much I’d prefer staying somewhere newer. It does have charm, though.

Moon Palace Sunrise (stayed here 4 nights) (family)

I heard a lot of complaints while here but I thought it was a great property. The Italian restaurant was fantastic and the service was great. My room was always clean. The tub was clean and the free bottle of wine was really good – I even brought it home to share! I’d buy it if I could. It’s a huge property with three resorts (Sunrise, Ninzuc, and Grand) and everyone can access all three, I believe. You definitely want to try staying at Sunrise as it’s the biggest and has the most stuff to do.

Hard Rock Café Cancun (family)

It was fun to tour and look at all the musicians’ outfits (including Britney Spears!) but I would never stay there. It’s way too loud for my preference and the rooms were so outdated. The hallways made me feel like I was back in a dormitory and it had a haunted look about it. I’d never recommend it to anyone.

Here are some tips for traveling to Cancun/staying at an all-inclusive:

  1. Keep your hotel information (address, number of nights, etc) ready so you can fill out your immigration card on the plane – don’t forget to bring a pen!
  2. Schedule your excursions as soon as you get there but do some research before hand so you have an idea of what you’d like to do.
  3. You don’t need to tip while you’re there – you’ve already paid for it! America is obsessed with tipping and while you certainly can give a few bucks to the bellboy or maid, I couldn’t believe I saw people carrying around their wallets by the pool just to be prepared for tips. You’re just paying for it twice.
  4. Know if your resort requires reservations for restaurants (and avoid these resorts because a lot of them require you to get up early every morning to wait in line for restaurant reservations!). Same with reservations for beach chairs (really).
  5. Also know if your resort charges for top-shelf liquor (again, really).
  6. The Chichen Itza tour is a full-day experience but will be worth it if you’re a religious history nerd.

My next work trip is in December touring some of the Sandals resorts! Can’t wait to see how different the vibe between Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Jamaica vs Mexico is! A girl could get used to this 🙂

 

 

 

 

Azul Fives stay and tour of Tulum Mayan ruins

I have been anxiously waiting to write this post all week but am just getting to sit down with it right now! I recently got a job at a fantastic travel agency in Wisconsin and am loving it! My boss believes that the best way to learn is by doing, so she courteously sent me to Cancun, Mexico to attend the Mark Travel Corp Summit, which is a three-day long conference on everything the Mark Travel Corp has to offer. They are partnered with Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations, TNT Vacations, Blue Sky, and United Vacations. We sell a lot of their product in our agency and have a great partnership with them, so I was thrilled to attend the conference! And what a fantastic company they are – it’s a family-run company that clearly supports and invests in their travel agency. They put on a great conference for us all and had fantastic evening entertainment at the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun and another night with a fabulous Vegas-themed party to which they flew in actual celebrity impersonators and Vegas show girls! Read more

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