Friday, July 27, 2012

"Secrets From A Travel Agent"

Week 5: Cruising to Alaska

   We have a little secret and we would love to share it! Have you thought about cruising to Alaska? It's the end of July but it's not too late to book a cruise this year. Many travelers don't realize that now is the best time to book an Alaskan cruise. This is the time of year that cruise lines need to fill vacant cabins. Although these are late bookings for the season, many major cruise lines have hot deals to fill these cabins. There are lots of great deals to be had but keep in mind that cruise rates change day by day depending on how the cruise lines fill each sailing date. Now is the time to book an Alaskan cruise for 2012!

Image courtesy of Alaska cruise guide

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Hot and Happening Spots"

Week 4: Bora Bora

   "This is one of the premier South Pacific destinations. It has come to symbolize romance since Christian Fletcher fell for the lovely Tahitian noblewoman, sparked the famous mutiny and put the area on the map as a spot where romance blooms like plumeria blossoms."
   "And the St. Regis Bora Bora is one of the premier spots of the fabled lagoon that has fascinated visitors to French Polynesia since early explorers first set foot on the island."
   "The property sits in unspoiled surroundings on Motu Ome'e, off the main island of Bora Bora, facing the legendary beautiful waters for the which the region is famous. With the views of Mount Otemanu and the fabled and pristine beaches of the area, the St. Regis is a magical place."
   "Here, the overwater villas, which offer the ultimate in seclusion, boast a terrace with outdoor shower, gazebo dining area, and deck chairs, not to mention captivating views of powdery white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Indoors, a living room and separate bedroom combine enchanting Polynesian details and are furnished with the latest amenities, including a Bose Sound System and WiFi."

Quoted from Recommend magazine June 2012 vol. 27 issue number 9 page 24

Image courtesy of Bora Bora

Vogue's Featured Cruise Port

Castries, St. Lucia

   "See the beautiful coastline of St. Lucia from the deck of a catamaran. You'll have an unbeatable view of the scenery and get an exhilarating ride, too."

Other Fun Things to Do

"Take a tour of St. Lucia's green mountains, banana valleys, rain forests, fishing villages and the town of Soufrière. Drive by bus through Castries, Cul de Sac, the Roseau banana plantations, and the fishing villages of Anse-La-Raye and Canaries. Then board a boat for a relaxing ride back down the scenic coastline to Anse Cochon for swimming in beautiful crystal-clear waters.
Hike Soufrière, home of St. Lucia's most famous landmark, the towering Pitons, a set of primeval twin peaks topping 2,000 feet. Then take a relaxing dip in one of the warm sulfuric pools full of special nutrients."

Sporting Adventures

"Troll for blue marlin and other big game fish on a challenging deep-sea fishing adventure."

Shopping for Bargains

"The best duty-free shopping in this port is near the harbor in Castries at the Spanish-style complex of Pointe Seraphine. Fine china, crystal, perfume and leather goods are found there.  Designer jewelry and watch brands are available at great savings, including Caribbean Hook, Honora, John Atencio, John Hardy, Kabana, Roberto Coin, Starnight, Alfex, Cartier, Concord, Gucci, Maurice LaCroix, Michele, Movado, Wenger and more. The outdoor market on Jeremie Street offers a wide array of straw goods. The best known products are the hand-silk-screened and hand-printed fabrics and fashions created by local craftsmen."

Local Currency

"The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD). U.S. dollars, credit cards and traveler's checks are widely accepted."
For more information visit:
Image courtesy of "Castries, St. Lucia" image

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Secrets From A Travel Agent"

Week 4: River Cruises

   Have you ever thought of taking a river cruise? River cruises have become increasing popular among travelers recently. Unlike typical cruises, river cruises are more intimate with ships accommodating fewer passengers and can sail into smaller ports in cities along many rivers of the world. These cruises usually hold between one and two hundred guests and call on ports that have docks near or sometimes in the center of towns and cities. 

Photo courtesy of
   The many advantages river cruises have over "big ship" cruising are not just less passengers. With fewer people on board, guests truly experience personal luxury. These cruises have a greater staff to guest ratio than "big ship" cruising, which translates to more a more personalized travel experience. The feel aboard these vessels is country club casual. Nearly all cruise fares include shore excursions, bottled water, beer, wine, soft drinks, and specialty coffees. With these inclusions, guests don't feel as though they are being "nickle and dimed" on the little "extras" that big ships charge for. 

Photo courtesy of
   If you are thinking of taking a river cruise, now is the time to plan and book your trips for 2013. Here's the secret: cruise operators are now offering 2 for 1 cruise fares and sometimes 2 for 1 airfare depending on the itinerary and dates for 2013. Destinations for river cruising are numerous including: Europe, Asia, Egypt, Russia, and the Galapagos islands to name a few. Taking a river cruise is a truly unique and enjoyable experience that should be on your travel wish list.     

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vogue's Featured Cruise Port

Basseterre, St. Kitts

   "With dormant volcanoes, golden sand beaches and gorgeous green hills, St. Kitts is a beautiful backdrop to your Caribbean adventure. Discovered in 1623 by the British and settled by the French in 1625, the island's deep colonial history is reflected in the abandoned fortresses, as well as its landscaped gardens, city squares and architectural details."

The One Thing You Don't Want to Miss

"Whether you're a history buff or just want to take in the scenery, be sure to visit the 350-year-old estate, Romney Manor, once owned by a British earl. The beautiful grounds include magnificent gardens, exotic plants and an amazing African Saman tree, which covers half an acre and is believed to be as old as the estate itself."

Other Fun Things to Do

  • "Explore Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. Climb to the top of the main hill to take in amazing views of St. Eustatius and Sandy Point Town.
  • Walk through Independence Square. Now a small public park, it was built in 1790 for slave auctions and council meetings.
  • Visit St. George's Cathedral. While originally christened Notre Dame in 1670 by the French, it was destroyed more than once and was most recently rebuilt in 1869 in typical Georgian style."

Sporting Adventures

"With this island's dormant volcanoes and rugged mountains, hiking is a popular activity. And of course with turquoise-blue Caribbean waters, you can spend the day snorkeling, swimming or fishing."

Get a Taste of Local Flavor

"If you're looking for a wide range of island flavor, St. Kitts is for you. Chances are you'll come across all sorts of culinary delights stemming from West Indian, Creole, Indian, and French cultures. Typical dishes include roast suckling pig, shellfish and a variety of locally grown produce such as yams, breadfruit and papaya."

Local Currency

"The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD). U.S. dollars, credit cards and traveler's checks are widely accepted."
For more information visit:

Image courtesy of "Photo of Basseterre, St. Kitts cruise ship terminal"

"Hot and Happening Spots"

Week 3: Monte Azul Boutique Hotel, Costa Rica

   "Costa Rica has no shortage of special experiences: in the rainforest, by the sea, and among the local communities of the most engaging ticos, the Costa Rican people. The destination is also masterful in mixing luxury lodgings into its adventurous and eco-friendly vacations; cultural enrichment can be harder to find, though.

   However, Monte Azul Boutique Hotel, perched high on a 125 acre nature reserve in the Talamanca Mountain Range along the Chirripo River in south-central Costa Rica, seems to touch all bases. Guests are accommodated in spacious casitas, surrounded by gardens and birds galore, and furnished with queen-size or twin beds, big bathrooms, lots of original fine art, a compact designer kitchen, free WiFi, and garden patio. Its 6-night, all-inclusive Food, Nature + Art package features a fiesta of hands-on, involving activities.

   The outdoor adventurer can go ziplining, white-water rafting, spend a day at the beach, and take a guided tour through the Chirripo Cloudbridge cloud forest reserve with a visit to its research station. During a cheese making workshop, food lovers visit a sustainable home dairy and learn to milk a cow before getting involved in cheese making with the family. Or they can learn about producing organic coffee at the Las Orquideas plantation and visit the local farmers market or public market in San Isidro to help Monte Azul's chef select the ingredients for a cooking class, as well as instruction on making bocas (traditional Costa Rican tapas). Before becoming a boutique hotel, Monte Azul was established as a Center for Contemporary Art and Design, and today the art center remains part of the many guest activities including a workshop in the fun and fascinating technique of monotyping with laureate Costa Rican artist Alvaro Gomez, or learning to make paper."

   "The resort is located three hours south of San Jose via the Pan American Highway and 1.5 hours from the Quepos Airport (XQP) near Manuel Antonio National Park."

Quoted from "Recommend" magazine July 2012 vol.27 number 10 pages 30 and 32

Photo courtesy of Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Friday, July 13, 2012

"Secrets From A Travel Agent"

Week 3: "Saying "I do" in the Caribbean"

   According to Recommend magazine, "Because Caribbean weddings are so popular in the U.S., it's generally easy to tie the knot in the islands. Still, whenever possible, couples marrying in the Caribbean, along with their travel agent, should work with resort wedding coordinators to ensure they meet all the legal requirements mandated by their respective island nation. Each island has different legal requirements. Some islands require the bride and groom to be in the country a certain number of days before applying for a license; others allow couples to apply for a license remotely. Most islands require passports, birth certificates and proof of marital status to issue marriage licenses."
   One of the best kept secrets, if you are thinking of having an island wedding, is that June is the most popular and expensive month to plan your event. Depending on your schedule and budget, it may be worth exploring other months to get married in an island getaway. Also, because June is a very popular month, you may want to start planning now for June 2013. Resorts only offer a certain availability and you don't want to miss out on the perfect venue to hold such an important occasion.

Quoted from Recommend magazine June 2012 vol.27 number 9 page 62
Photo courtesy of

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Hot and Happening Spots"

Week 2: Island Weddings in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Most island weddings occur in the month of June. If you are thinking about an island wedding, try a different month of the year or start planning now for June 2013.

Secrets St. James Montego Bay, Jamaica

   "The energy of Montego Bay is never too far away from the adults-only comforts of this resort and its private stretch of beach. Secrets St. James Montego Bay captures the spirit of a lively Jamaican getaway and adds great alternatives and perks for a wedding."
   "Small wedding groups can enjoy a ceremony in a gazebo right over the sea, with the island's Blue Mountains as a backdrop, while larger parties can hold their nuptials on a gazebo in the sand. Regardless of their choice, the rich blue waters are always one of the star attractions. Couples have several packages to choose from, each of which includes the services of the onsite wedding coordinator, the cake, a 15 percent discount on all spa treatments, and free anniversary nights."
   "The bride and groom also have lots of touches and details they can add to their wedding for an extra fee to make their wedding all the more special. The most popular addition at this resort is a steel drum band to infuse the whole affair with an island feel. Another romantic choice-a bonfire on the beach."

Quoted from "Recommend" magazine June 2012 vol.27 number 9 pages 58 and 60

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Secrets From A Travel Agent"

Week 2: "10 Important Tips to Follow When You Travel"

1. Alert your credit card providers. Before you leave, alert your card providers about where and how long you'll be traveling. This can help the fraud department with bogus charges. 

2. Stop your postal mail.

3. Weed out your wallet. Take only the essentials such as a Driver's License and just two credit cards--one to carry and one locked in your room's safe. Do NOT carry your Social Security card. Men, keep your wallet in a buttoned breast pocket or buttoned pants pocket. Women, wear a handbag with wide straps and locked clasps diagonally across your chest. Do not hang your bag on a restroom door. Always be careful with your identity abroad.

4. Do not take your checkbook. Do not take any bills or private papers either.

5. Consider a temporary credit freeze. Identity thieves can't open accounts in your name while you're away, but it doesn't stop you from using your credit card. Call Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It's tedious and costs a bit but a good idea for a long stay way.

6. Carry a spare. In addition to your "real" wallet, carry a spare wallet with a few dollars and maybe some old useless keys or bogus information inside. If you're accosted, hand over the "spare" wallet. The crook will see some money, etc. and run away. You run the other way too!

7. Use safer ATMs. Debit cards are best left at home. Bank "lobbies" are better monitored and less vulnerable to devices that robbers use to capture your important information.

8. Be careful with hotel computers. Do not access financial data on hotel or other public computers or on public Wi-Fi networks. You never know what identity stealing devices are out there.

9. Beware of "Front Desk Fraudsters". A late-night call to your room from a clerk asking for your credit card information may be a ruse by an identity thief. Call the front desk yourself.

10. Keeping your home safe while you travel. Bring in any outside furniture. Non-refrigerated foods should be put in air-tight bags/containers. Empty the ice tray and turn off the automatic icemaker. If you have any combustibles in the garage--e.g. propane tanks--get rid of them. Replace batteries in fire alarms, thermostats, security systems, and battery operated items. Unplug televisions and computers to prevent damage in a storm. Close all drapes/blinds to keep the heat out. Put your houseplants outside so the rain can reach them, or find a trustworthy friend. Notify the local authorities that you will be leaving so that they can keep an eye out on your place. If you have a trustworthy neighbor, you might leave them a key in case of an emergency. Consider asking or paying someone to check your premises inside and out.

All of these tips are very valuable and you many want to consider them before your next trip. Remember, be a safe and smart traveler!

Parts of this article were taken from AARP magazine and a Scripps newspaper article June, 2012.
Image courtesy of "Travel Icons"

The Official Office of Vogue Vacations... where the planning of stylish trips happens!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Hot and Happening Spots"

Article 1: Honeymooning on the Amalfi Coast, Italy

 "The beautiful Amalfi Coast was created by the gods for love, Italian-style. This is, after all, that stretch of Italian coast that runs from Salerno to the Isle of Capri- a one-time playground for Renaissance princes and counts, as well as today's celebrities and wealthy elite."
   And every man wants to be a prince for his princess on their honeymoon, so why not check out an elegant 12th century Italian villa where you belong, all tucked away in the hilltop village of Ravello and perched high on the cliffs 1,000 ft. above the sparkling Mediterranean, overlooking some of the coast's most picturesque fishing villages.
   "Today that palatial parsonage is operating under the name of Palazzo Sasso hotel, a stunning five-star deluxe property and part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts collection- truly a royal honeymoon hideaway where couples will be spoiled and pampered like the royals who lived there yesteryear."
   "This is not the kind of place for couples who sniff at traditional elegance. All rooms and suites are decorated with handmade Vietri tiles, antique carpets and furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries". Guests can expect brass accessories and appliques, Frette linens and Bulgari amenities. "The Spa, located in the Pallazo gardens, offers a full menu of massage and beauty treatments, plus Turkish steam bath". 
   For honeymooning couples, you'll want to check out some of the property's suites and jr. suites that promise the most unforgettable stay in this beautiful property- accommodations that are as unique as the honeymoon memories they'll bring home with them. "For the ultimate honeymoon stay, the Nfinito Suite is the hotel's penthouse suite with gorgeous views over the Amalfi Coast from its expansive terrace, which has a jacuzzi pool and large dining area. Perfect for the new lord and lady."   

Quoted from "Recommend" magazine June 2012 vol. 27 number 9 page 56