Wednesday, March 15, 2017

BELIZE


Believed to be the heart of the Maya civilization, Belize offers travelers the life-changing opportunity to explore Mayan ruins at more than 1,400 recorded Mayan sites. Lamanai, Xunantunic, Caracol and Altun Ha are excellent archaeological sites to visit to explore what remains of the ancient civilization.

After visiting Mayan ruins, travelers can head to the Museum of Belize to see the largest carved jade Mayan object ever discovered as well as many other Mayan artifacts. The museum is housed in a former prison, making it an interesting destination in itself.

Travelers who want to be a bit more active have many choices when visiting Belize. Scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, caving…the list of adventurous activities in Belize never ends. Divers should head to Great Blue Hole, considered one of the best diving spots in the world. Located 43 miles from the mainland, the submarine sinkhole is over 900 feet across and 400 feet deep. Scuba divers can experience striking stalactites and many different species of fish. The Great Blue Hole is suited best to experienced divers, but snorkeling is very popular and enjoyable there.

Belize is home to other natural wonders, such as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which touches the coasts of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras as well as Belize. 185 miles of the reef are just off the coast of Belize (it stretches almost 700 miles in total) is home to 60 types of hard corals, over 500 species of fish and an abundance of other marine life. As the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.

Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and Belize’s most popular destination. It embodies a casual lifestyle full of watersports and the country’s best restaurants and nightlife. Travelers to Ambergris Caye can swim with nurse sharks and stingrays at Hol Chan Marine Reserve or watch a soccer game at the public field. There are many low-key and also active things to do in Ambergris Caye.

Traveling to Belize is quite easy for Americans, as it’s the only English-speaking country in Central America (English is Belize’s official language). Currency exchange is easy as well, as the Belize dollar is locked at $2.00 for every $1.00 U.S., making it easy to understand how much money is being spent. But exchanging currency is not always necessary, as many businesses accept American money.

Belize offers a wonderful mix of things to do and see which makes this a popular destination.  With more and more flights daily to Belize, it’s more accessible than ever before!  What are you waiting for?  Let’s get you to Belize before it’s an overpopulated tourist trap!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hawaii, So Many Islands How Do I Choose?




ALOHA!! Did you know that the state of Hawaii is made up of 8 main islands?  Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the Big Island of Hawaii. That’s a lot of islands to choose from…..which one do you spend your vacation on? Selecting the best one to visit can be a daunting task for first time visitors. (Just so you know you honestly can’t go wrong with any of them.)

Here are some highlights of 4 of the most visited Hawaiian islands to help you choose:

Oahu (The Gathering Place) is the most visited of all the islands. Oahu has the state capital of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the famous Waikiki Beach. Oahu has an amazing climate, inexpensive lodging, a large variety of shopping, a gorgeous mountain range and 3 of the islands best beaches. The famous north shore is a surfers paradise. This island sees about 4.7 million visitors each year.

Maui (The Valley Isle) is the second most visited island. Maui is often called "The Playground of the Wealthy". Maui caters to those looking for more expensive accommodations and privacy. With that being said Maui does have a very wide variety of resorts, hotels, condos, and private rentals available across the island. But don't worry if high priced accommodations aren't in your budget, Maui caters to all types of budgets. Maui features many spectacular beaches, volcanoes in the center of the island, waterfalls in numerous valleys, Hana Highway and lush green land to enjoy lots of outdoor adventures. Maui sees about 2.4 million visitors each year.
Hawaii (The Big Island) is the third most popular island for visitors. Many of the Big Island visitors say that the Kailua-Kona area has the most fantastic weather, abundant shopping, and loads of dining options. It also provides a wide selection of accommodations from high end resorts to condominiums. The Big Island features crystal clear waters that provide amazing snorkeling and diving opportunities, terrific beaches, several luxury accommodations and Hilo and the Puna region which house the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Big Island sees approximately 1.6 visitors each year. (I bet this number surprises you since it is the biggest island of them all. You would think there would be more visitors)
Kauai (The Garden Island) is the fourth most visited island. The island has more coastline filled with beaches than any other island in the chain. Kauai features beautiful mountain scenery, a variety of hidden beaches, incredible shopping and dining, Hanalei Bay, an abundance of sunshine, and Waimea Canyon (which Mark Twain dubbed it "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific"). Kauai sees 1.3 million visitors each year.
If Hawaii is your next travel destination and you still need some help deciding please give me a call and I would be happy to help you share with you about other islands in the chain that may be the best fit for you and your vacation.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Is It Safe To Go To Other Countries And Venture Off The All-Inclusive Property?


Generally speaking, the short answer is yes.  The long answer goes like this:

Be Smart - don’t get all liquored up at the swim up bar and then venture downtown.  In short, if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t try it abroad.

Be Calculated - know who your friends are and where they are.  If you want to go out, be sure to have the front desk call a reputable taxi for you and once you arrive at your destination, agree upon a meeting time and place for a seamless pickup and return.

Be Aware - always know your surroundings and stay close to travel buddies in busy crowded areas. Pick-pocketers and other scammers lurk in crowds.

Be Prepared - do have enough money to get around with and don’t forget to tip, especially your friendly taxi driver who got you safely from point A to B.

Be Nice - this seems so simple but it goes a long way regardless of which country you are in

Be Happy - if you spent money to stay inside of the pearly gates of your all inclusive compound, do just that.  All inclusives are designed to keep you busy with bars, pools, games of beach volleyball, tennis and even lawn chess not to mention the water sports and evening entertainment.

Be Proactive; check the US travel warnings before you depart so you know of any specific threats or things to watch for.

Be Protected by enrolling yourself and itinerary in the STEP program.  This will ensure if any threats or in climate weather delay your travels or put you out of contact, your family will still know your whereabouts, as will the US Government. WWW.STEP.STATE.GOV

For more information on this or any other topic please give me a call. I look forward to talking with you. 


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Legal How To's About Getting Married Abroad


Are you and your partner finally ready to tie the knot? If so, you may be wondering how to get married abroad.  Destination weddings are often the ideal route for many soon-to-be-married couples. They're exciting, fun, and allow for you and your closest relatives and friends to combine a vacation with a celebratory ceremony.  But before you buy those plane tickets and pack something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue, here's what you'll want to do first:
  • Do your research. Planning a wedding in general is a rather daunting task, and planning one abroad is going to be even more challenging. Make sure you either know what you're getting yourself into. Consider hiring a wedding planner, or seek help from those who've "been there, done that."
  • Have proper documentation. You should be prepared to show valid identification abroad, and proof of you and your future spouse's currently single status. In other words, you'll need proper documentation to get married in many foreign countries. This will likely include your passport and a birth certificate, but it may also require a divorce decree or an affidavit of eligibility to marry. Blood tests and parental consent forms may also be required, depending on your age and the country you're tying the knot in.
  • Make sure your marriage is legal in the country you're choosing. Just because you exchanged rings and said "I do" on some remote beach in St Somewhere does not necessarily mean that you are now legally married. Different countries set their own legal requirements when it comes to marriage.
  • Make sure you've fulfilled the residency requirements. Most countries will also have residency requirements for couples to legally marry within their borders. This may involve being in the country for at least a week or two, or perhaps longer; there may also be some kind of waiting period. Residency laws vary so be sure to check ahead of time.
  • Make sure your foreign marriage will be valid back home. In general, your foreign marriage, if performed legally abroad, will also be valid in the United States. However, you may still have to take extra steps to get your marriage abroad recognized in your state. Check with your state attorney general's office, the State Department suggests.
Are you dizzy from all of this?  No worries! I’d love to chat more about how I can help you with your Divine Destination Wedding abroad!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Breeze Through Customs #LikeABoss

The parting of the sea - the sea of people flocking to the passport control lines has begun to get a little more manageable and dare I say enjoyable.  That is, if you have Global Entry or the Mobile Passport app.  The Mobile Passport app is the latest and greatest download every international traveler should have on their smart phone prior to landing back on US soil.  It’s simple to get, simple to use and could very well allow you to love your next layover!

 Here’s how it works:


  1. Download the app from the App store or get it on Google Play

  2. Set up your profile; you can even set up your entire family on one device!
  3. Answer a few brief questions about your trip
  4. Submit to CBP
Once you are at your port of entry (airport or sea port), connect to wireless or wi-fi and submit your data to CBP. Remember: when you submit, you are confirming under penalty of law that your information is correct. Within a few seconds, you will receive a CBP receipt with an encrypted barcode. Your receipt will be valid for 4 hours.

     5) Breeze through Customs #LikeABoss

Follow the Mobile Passport Control signs to the designated Mobile Passport Control line. Show your passport to the CBP officer and scan the barcode on the CBP receipt. And that’s it!



Although the app won’t allow you to skip customs altogether, it will drastically shorten the time spent waiting in lines where officers bark orders such as “Don’t use your cell phones” or “NEXT!” or my favorite, “No videos or taking photos while in line”  Sir, with all due respect, we just got back from an epic vacation don’t kill the vibe!  

With all the time you just saved standing in line, you can go airport shopping, enjoy a few more minutes in the Sky Lounge or simply relax and smile knowing the worst part about vacation is getting to and from is getting just a little bit easier.  So, with that being said, where in the world would you like to go next?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

5 Reminders Before You Depart



There are so many things to remember before you depart on your divine destination.  I have put together a short list of the Top 5 reminders before you leave on your trip:

  1. Stop the mail.  Mail piled up is a sure sign that you are not home.  Deter burglars by stopping the mail altogether.  It’s easy peasy: simply go to www.usps.com → hold mail and request that the mailman delivers accumulated mail a day or two after your return.

  1. Turn down your thermostat.  No too low though!  Don’t turn it down lower that about 57 degrees to avoid freezing pipes.  In addition, if you have a programmed thermostat, make sure the batteries are new to prevent the furnace from malfunctioning due to a $2 dead battery.  

  1. Call your bank and credit card companies to let them know you will be traveling.  There is nothing worse than trying to purchase something abroad and the transaction declining because your bank thought it was fraudulent.
  1. Pack an extra duffle bag or suitcase or even nest a carry on into your checked bag so you can bring home your treasures! There is nothing worse than being “that guy” at the airport trying to avoid the overweight charges by shuffling stuff from one suitcase to the other.  Unless you have a hard fast rule of “no shopping” this will be the easiest way to bring back more than you brought.

  1. Don’t post your every move on social media, including posting pictures of the lovely beach scene if it’s a winter wonderland back home.  In addition, turn off your location on your cell phone.  Anytime you post on social media, it will show where you posted it from including photos, updates and even comments.  

For more on this topic or any other travel questions please contact me.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mount Cinnamon, Grenada

After traveling four flights and almost 15 hours later, I arrived a quick ride from the airport at what would be my home base for one night at Mount Cinnamon.  After the journey I had taken to arrive there, I lovingly nick named it Mount Zion instead!  Arriving in the dark made it impossible to imagine what I was about to witness once the sun rose, but trust me, it was awe-mazing!  

The sweeping 180 degree ocean views from the balcony of my villa were impressive but to watch nature “do her thing” was even more incredible.  As I was sipping my morning cup of Joe that I made in my colorful kitchen, I was enamored by the fact the rain would come down on the terracotta roofs yet only on one or two sides.  Unlike the cold grey damp downpours of Minnesota that soak you and chill you to the bone, the showers here were quite literally like sunshine and rainbows gently poured from the sky.  It’s obvious why the fauna is so dense and lush on this Caribbean island of Grenada when Mother Nature feeds the land with sporadic showers and lots of sunshine.  And just as fast as it started, it seemed to stop and then the sunshine came back out in its full glory.  I stayed out there for most of the morning, snapping photos, taking videos and sending them to my friends back home.  As jealousy and snarky comments filled my stream and screen, I digressed.  Quickly I felt the humidity rise as well as the temperature.  I wondered if my pasty white skin could handle the rays and if my body could handle the heat.  I was up for the challenge!

And challenge indeed it was!  I took a tour to see the rooms and amenities offered at Mount Cinnamon and although it’s a small boutique-like property, we climbed hills like goats and saved our conversations for inside the villas instead of during our cardio climbs.  This isn’t the best resort for the physically challenged, however, they do have golf carts that will take you to your room if you’d like.  We opted for the exercise.  If you are looking for a small studio style accommodations or plan to bring the entire family where you’ll need multi bedroom accommodations, there is a spot here that is perfect for you.  What I loved the most about these villas was the authentic caribbean style that was uniquely infused in each separate room.  My shower was lime green and decorated with the likes of frogs and lizards while others were pink and had more of a sea shell theme.  My favorite was the bright refrigerators that commanded your attention.  From cobalt blue, sunshine yellow to my favorite, retro orange, each room was unique with it’s own color scheme.  

Speaking of refrigerators, with most all rooms having a kitchen, dining in for at least a few meals a day is doable, but for those of you who hate to cook, especially on vaca, (that’s me!) there are a few restaurants on property.  My favorite room on the property wasn’t actually a room, but more of a residence, appropriately named Cinnamon Heights, as it is at the very tippy top of the property.  It comes with a state of the art kitchen that would make Martha Stewart jealous,

tons of space to entertain inside and out, an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean, outdoor showers and multiple bedrooms.  At 6,000 square feet of privacy, this would make a magical escape for a family reunion, small wedding party or even a girls getaway.  


I missed breakfast because I was enamored with the beauty from my balcony so I made sure to grab lunch before I had to check out.  I went down to the beachfront restaurant called Savvy, set directly on the best beach in Grenada, Grand Anse Beach.
 It’s here that I met a sweet waitress named Twainel.  I chose a table inside and out of the sun.  She knew there was a better seat in the house and encouraged me to come outside, under the umbrella where I could put my toes in the sand and get a better view of the sea.  She was eager to tell me all about the menu and to be honest, I was eager to try a classic rum punch with real shaved nutmeg in it!  She brought me my drink in a pretty tall hourglass shaped glass complete with a cute little umbrella.  Nutmeg infused my drink and also decorated the top.  It almost looked like sand next to the umbrella.  I was disappointed that I didn’t like the drink, mostly because I didn’t want to offend her, afterall, nutmeg is their claim to fame in the island of Grenada.  I politely (and very slowly) drank it while we chatted more about the local lifestyle, things to see and do, safety, politics and what you won’t find in Grenada due to the religious laws.  


Grenadians are some of the nicest people I’ve met on my journeys.  It’s also one of the safest islands in all of the West Indies.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Paradise was easy to get to, everyone would go.  Because of this, if you are looking for an unspoiled, true exotic island escape, consider Grenada and Mount Cinnamon for your next Divine Destination!