Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC has issued an “Alert Level 2” for travelers visiting many popular destinations due to local transmissions of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The CDC issued its alert after the Brazilian health ministry confirmed a link between the disease and a high incidence of birth defects.

“Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon,” according to the CDC.
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika)
  • The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and vomiting.
  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
  • Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
  • Deaths are rare.
  • The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of deng and chikungunya, which are diseases caused by other viruses spread by the same type of mosquitoes.
  • There is no vaccine or medicine to treat Zika, but symptoms may be treated with plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration and taking fever reducers.
If you have a trip booked to one of the infected areas, you may be able to switch your destination or receive a refund.  Last week I was able to switch a client in her 2nd trimester to a different destination without any hassles.
There are precautions travelers can take to minimize their risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
While there is no vaccine or medication to prevent Zika, the CDC offers some tips on avoiding mosquito bites
    • Use insect repellents containing DEET.  Want a more natural approach? Essential oils including lemongrass and eucalyptus are natural repellants. Personally I’ve found good old fashioned Avon SOS works amazing too.  Apparently the mosquitoes of the Caribbean don’t like it anymore than ours do.  
    • Take garlic pills a week before your trip
    • Don’t eat bananas the week before you leave – mosquitoes love potassium!

Monday, August 1, 2016

A No Vacation Nation

I have traveled the world and want to share my experiences and best practices with you. Today I’d like to ask you a question – are you part of the No Vacation Nation?

Are you one of those workers who limit their happiness and success by assuming that taking vacation time off from work will send a negative message to their manager and maybe even cause you to be passed over for that coveted promotion?  New research says “RELAX”!  Taking that vacation can actually increase the likelihood of getting that raise or promotion.

According to Gary Oster, Managing Director of Project: Time Off, American workers are taking less vacation time than at any point in the last four decades because they think that it will negatively impact their manager’s perception of them.  But the opposite is true:

~ Taking a vacation actually Increases your promotion chances!
    People who take all of their vacation time have a 6.5% higher chance of getting a promotion or a raise than people who leave paid time-off on the table. 

~ A positive, engaged brain improves important business metrics
   Research shows that when the brain can think positively, productivity improves by 31%, sales increase by 37% and creativity and revenues can triple!  To be truly engaged at work, your brain needs periodic breaks to gain fresh perspective and energy.
~ Your manager will perceive you as more productive
    According to research done by the US Travel Association, managers associate personal happiness with productivity.  And most managers understand that happy, rested employees are more productive and collaborative.

~You’ve earned it!  Don’t voluntarily take a pay cut!
   If you’re a salaried employee and paid vacation is part of your compensation package, you’re essentially taking a voluntary pay cut when you work instead of taking that earned vacation time.  The work will still be there when you return and you will be in a better state of mind to tackle it.
So, start changing the conversation in your own workplace now by sharing this segment.  If you work in an environment that isn’t supportive of taking vacations, approach management and other workers about the benefits of taking that time off...Then, start planning your next vacation!  It's good for you and your career!    And, of course, even less stressful when you use the planning services of a trusted travel professional….I’m Jen Maki reminding you the internet is for looking and your Destination Diva is for booking!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Why Vegas? Why Not?

When you think Vegas what is your first thought? I bet you're thinking gambling and casinos, right! That’s ok that’s what most people think Las Vegas is. A lot of people say “Well I don’t gamble so I have no reason to go there for a vacation”. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Vegas is SO MUCH more than gambling. There are so many unique things to see and visit in Las Vegas that do not pertain to gambling. Las Vegas is home to some of the most AMAZING hotels and shows in the US.

There is literally something for everyone, of all ages in Las Vegas. Here are a few of the amazing things you can do on your vacation:

  1. Visit the sharks at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef,
  2. See the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio,
  3. Take in the glorious water show at the Bellagio Fountains,
  4. See fabulous shows such as Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil, Zarkana, that’s just to name a few,
  5. Take a gondola ride at the Venetian Hotel & Shopping while enjoying the sites,
  6. Have dinner at Top of the World (360 degree spinning views of the strip),
  7. Attend a baking class at the amazing Bouchon Bakery,
  8. There are numerous magnificent golf courses to enjoy,
  9. Explore Fremont Street and see all that it has to offer,
  10. If you're feeling extreme there are some great places to test your fears like the Stratosphere rides and coasters, or indoor skydiving,
  11. Would you like an opportunity to drive something you have never driven before? Dig This in Vegas allows you to drive bulldozers and excavators in a huge sand box. Or you could drive an expensive exotic car of your dreams around a track at Exotics Racing.

There is so much more that Las Vegas has to offer that I can not even begin to list here. So when you are looking to plan your next vacation don’t rule out Vegas because it could be the destination of your dreams.

For more on a Las Vegas vacation or any other destination vacations please contact me.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What’s the big deal about a honeymoon?

Just like you wouldn’t skip the wedding cake you shouldn’t skip the tradition of the honeymoon either. Honeymoons teach us the art of being intentional. It’s easy to blow off a honeymoon for hundreds of reasons, but by making sure this happens is telling your spouse they are valuable. It’s also another way to show your commitment to your spouse.

Honeymoons teach you how to have fun together. Laughter is good for the soul. As my late grandma Effie used to say “If you can’t have fun stay home”. Imagine enjoying a new cultural experience together like learning a tribal dance in Bora Bora. By letting your guard down and allowing yourself to get silly together, you are also creating memories that will last a lifetime. You're not a dancing queen? How about the art of glassblowing in Cabo and bringing home your handcrafted treasured souvenir? What a great way to remember your first journey as husband and wife.

How can we afford it? How can you NOT afford it? With unique free resources out there like a honeymoon registry, your friends and family can actually defray the cost of your honeymoon by depositing monetary gifts into your account. As stated before, if you dream of Hawaii but can only afford Mexico, make it the best Mexico experience your budget affords. Hawaii can be your goal for your 10 year anniversary and something you work toward as a couple. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Friends With Benefits

      I know you got excited when you saw the topic title didn't you? Well this is not about those types of friends with benefits. What is more fun than traveling with friends? This is a chance to hang with your best friends in style and comfort whether on a River Cruise or Luxury All- Inclusive Resort.  What better way to share memories and take a break from the stressors of life?

     When traveling with a group there are extra specials inclusions waiting for you because you travel with a tribe.  Private transfers from the airport to the resort are offered to ensure the party begins on the right foot and nobody is left behind.  A welcome cocktail party sets the tone and group dinner reservations ensures nobody misses a thing.  Getting your rooms nearby or even together in a block of Villas could be just the special touch your group needs to connect through a community atmosphere.  Throughout the vacation a commemorative photo shoot will leave you with your own 5x7 to remember your group getaway.

The biggest surprise to most of my groups is the exclusive group discounts I can offer them.  From discounted package rates to free air seats or rooms, the more you have, the more you save.  

To book your next great vacation with friends give me a call. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What Is a Butler and What Do I Do With One?

A Butler is a person, perhaps man or woman, who have been trained to anticipate your every need.  This doesn’t mean they are weirdly following you around during your vacation; think Alfred, Batman’s Butler.  Instead, many of today’s luxury resorts provide you with a cell phone that will dial directly your Butler to assist with any of your needs.
Alvroy the Butler saying hello &
giving you a cell phone to keep in touch
 Now I know what you may be thinking, trust me, as a Midwest girl I shovel my own sidewalk and kill my own bugs but it’s so much more than that!  The biggest thing you need to do before booking a Butler Suite is have the right mindset.  They are not your slave but they are there to enhance your vacation experience.  How?  I’m glad you asked; read on:

A Butler will check you in IN your room!  Chances are you’ve been traveling quite a few hours to get to Paradise, so this is a nice way to begin your vacation and they will generally pop a bottle of champagne or make sure your favorite cocktail is available to enjoy ensuite.  From there, your Butler will offer to unpack your luggage and even iron a few pieces for you.  Of course, they will also recommend making dinner reservations so you won’t need to eat at the same places nightly, or worse, the buffet!  Again, it's so much more than that; many times they will escort you to dinner and even spruce up your table with fresh flowers while others may only have a salt and pepper shaker on theirs.  Have you ever experienced the frustration of not being able to find a beach chair because they’ve been “reserved” by other guests who never seem to show up?
Your Butler can reserve your beach cabana or lounge chairs prior to the mad rush of sun worshippers but get this- they will stock your own personal cooler with your preferred beverage of choice and never stop the supply!  Does your spouse like to sleep in while you are an early riser? Ask your Butler to bring you a continental breakfast early so you can enjoy your morning with meditation or even read the newspaper before your other half wakes up and you can go to breakfast together.  Do you like to golf?  Your Butler will set up your tee times for you and even pack a little cooler for you to take with as well.  Plan to do an excursion while on vacation?  Most couples do an average of three excursions during a week’s stay.  The Butler will know when you are arriving back to the resort and will most likely surprise you with a little something like a snack tray of cheese and crackers and fruit to nibble on while you freshen up for dinner.  Since vacation is a great place to unplug and reconnect with the one you came with, the Butlers will try to assist you in your reconnection and relaxation with special touches like a romantic bubble bath waiting your return from dinner complete with a bottle of champagne chilling on the side of the bed.

Bubble bath awaiting your return
If you have a special surprise you’d like to pull off such as a proposal, trust me when I say your Butler has your back!  Talk to her or him about your wishes and they will help make it come true.  Although they don’t guarantee she’ll say yes, they will make you look like a rockstar!  I know they have just as much fun helping you to pull it off as you will celebrating the “mission accomplished”!  

Now in many of today’s luxury resorts they say tips are included.  However, the Butlers and the Spa are able to receive a tip.  This should go without saying, however, I think it’s an important point to bring up.  You will go to a coffee house and order a coffee and leave a tip.  And at the car wash you leave a tip.  Each time you dine out you leave a tip.  Did the person do much of anything that special?  Did you even catch their name?  Now imagine getting to know your Butler so well that you know their name but they know your name, preferences, likes, dislikes and even what time you’ll be back from your excursion, day at the beach or even dinner so they make a conscious effort to anticipate your every need that will enhance your stay by the little special touches they sprinkle throughout the vacation.  Don’t you think that’s worth a tip?  Of course it’s discretionary but considering the effort they put into enhancing your vacation, show them your appreciation in your tip.  Many of my clients (especially men) say, “What will I ever do with a Butler?”  And by their return they are pouting and saying, “What will I ever do WITHOUT my Butler?”  

Do you have a milestone Anniversary coming up? A Honeymoon to plan? Just receive a promotion at work? Perhaps now is the time to consider upleveling your next vacation by booking the Butler Suite. You won't be disappointed you did! Want a personal reference to some of the best in the business of butler service? Ask us! We'd be happy to personally recommend and request one for your next Divine Destination!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The War On Mosquitos; Is It Real?

For many Americans, the fear of Zika has successfully destroyed their plans to take a dream honeymoon to somewhere in the tropics.  I feel just as strongly as the news does to fill your head with fear, except I want to give you a different perspective, one that has personal experience behind it.  

 I’m generally the one with legs that look like I just contracted the mumps AND measles when I return from Jamrock.  In fact, one time I had a guy serenade me with an impromptu song called ‘The Girl With The Polka Dot Legs’ as others leisurely floated down the Martha Brae river, I was swatting like crazy trying not to capsize our little bamboo raft.  That was in November.  Fast forward to today.  I just returned from a two week hiatus in Jamaica, the land I love just as much as their mosquitos love me.  However, something was very different on these last two trips.  I did the same precautions as always: no bananas prior to travel (bugs love the potassium) no fruity hair and body sprays and bug spray instead of cologne; it’s the new body musk.  This is my typical defense that only scratches the surface of keeping the biting buggers away.  However, this time I noticed that I did not need to do this, in fact, I didn’t even SEE a mosquito.  So I asked what they were doing differently.  Turns out, the resorts are responding to Zika and the fear factor of young couples on their Honeymoons that they have decided to spray the grounds twice daily.  This has been incredible.  I can honestly say that I never saw a mosquito the entire trip nor was I ever even bit! 

And then there was last night on my deck.  WOW.  What a stark difference. The mosquitos were like small birds with an appetite like a bear just coming out of hibernation!  They were intense and not giving up, even after 10pm when they generally go to bed with full mosquito tummies.  I gotta say, Zika is everywhere now and from what I experienced in Jamaica compared to my own backyard, if I were concerned about where I’d contract something from a mosquito, it’d be here at home vs abroad.  

So remember, if you know how to repel mosquitos, you'll be fine repelling them anywhere.  Don’t let the hype you hear online or in the news suck the confidence out of you from missing out on what potentially could be the best vacation of your life.  Because quite honestly, that bites!  

If you are ready to talk about your next mosquito free vacation, please reach out to us!  We'd love to help design your next Divine Destination.  Simply drop us a line at jennifer@4divinedeals.com or to schedule your complimentary vacation consult, go to www.4divinedeals.com and let's chat!