Thursday, November 2, 2017

5 Reasons You Need to Visit Cancun in 2018

With all of the fake news out there, me always looking for a chance to prove something wrong, I couldn’t wait to visit Mexico and see what all the commotion was all about!  My seatmate was scared about the unknowns.  As she put it, “with all the $hit going on out there, I don’t know why I’m even going!”  I tried to assure her she’d be fine and as long as she didn’t do the wild and crazy things people from Green Bay do, she’d be fine.  She smiled and corrected me - she wasn’t exactly a cheesehead, just had a Green Bay zipcode.  Funny enough, upon our return, our paths crossed again in the airport as we were getting ready to board our flight back to the Midwest.  I asked her how she enjoyed her vacation.  Her reply?  I barely remember what she said because her facial expression said it all.  She had fun!  She got a tan, had her first tequila shot, went ziplining and even made plans to do it all again very soon!  With a smirk on my face I also asked her about the cartel and tainted alcohol - she sheepishly blushed a little and said how silly she felt for letting that all almost prevent her from going altogether. It was like she was set free from her own fear factory.  I was so happy for her!

So if you’ve ever thought about going to Mexico but dismissed it for one reason or another, I’m going to share my Top 5 reasons you should visit Cancun ~

1) Weather
My weekly forecast for Cancun wasn’t as bad as my home forecast for 10” of snow in October but I’m not going to lie, I wasn't excited about the 85% chance of rain each day.  Turns out, my brain can’t seem to remember in between trips to the tropics that 85% chance of rain means something completely different than 85% chance of rain back home.  In the tropics, it rains almost daily.  The difference is that it’s a light rain most likely accompanied with sunshine at the same time.  And it’s so short that it’s like a quick shower to cool off the fauna and give them a little drink before the next round of blissful sunshine and warm temperatures.  So yes, it did rain almost everyday but did it ruin my vacation? Not a bit.

2) Food
When you visit an all inclusive resort there will be more food than you can (or should) consume during your stay.  However, the food has come a long way since the beginning of the all you can eat concept.  In fact, more and more resorts are doing away with the buffets and limited a la carte dinner options.  Now you can find mostly reservation free dining and menus that are full of variety.  Because there was so much goodness on these menus, we found it way more fun to simply tell the waiter to serve us what he thought was the best.  Since we didn’t know what much of it was anyways; what’s the difference between a tostada, enchilada and tacos? Nothing.  They are all fabulous!

3) Off Property Activities
Most travelers I send away are looking for more than 7 days of beach time.  They enjoy the pool activities, water sports and even nightly entertainment but they are looking for more local infusion to some level.  Not everyone wants to visit an orphanage or school but if they do, I can make it happen.  But if you are looking for a unique experience such as swimming in an underground cave or riding a camel or even snorkeling throughout an underwater museum that is here in Cancun as well.  While I was here, we went to a Cirque du Soleil show.  Very Vegas-y without the gluttony of Vegas.  In fact, it had a nice Spanish flair to it.  Joya was a 90 minute show full of acrobatics, dance, singing and even a few comedic antics.  The bottle of champagne and delicious appetizers from from fresh shrimp to gourmet chocolates was a nice touch too.  I highly recommend this for groups or even a night out as a couple.

4) New Resorts
If you’ve been to Cancun in the last 5 years you need to come back because so much has changed!  The resorts have been refurbished.  The resorts have changed management and even names.  The resorts are better than they’ve ever been!  The resorts of before boasted multiple buffets, multiple rooms and hundreds of lounge chairs.  The resorts of today boast multiple restaurants that you order from a menu a la carte and in one evening you could dine around the world!  Asian, Italian, Brazilian, Mexican, Lebanese and even Peruvian!  The rooms today offer expansive bathrooms, aromatherapy and pillow menus, even two person jacuzzis either on the balcony or in the room!  Paired with 24 hour room service, unlimited wifi and calls back to the US, there’s not much room for some to even leave their room!
5) People
At the end of the day, a resort with all the amenities, an impeccable weather forecast, a peppering of extra activities and food whenever and wherever you want it does not make it a good vacation.  The people who work in the tourism industry are!  From the driver who brought me to the resort and we chatted the entire way from talking about news headlines to weather to Trump, he was very kind and his smile was a sincere “welcome to Mexico”.  The ladies who tidied up my room each day and left me handmade chocolate on my pillow were oh so sweet that I even left behind a few pieces of clothing and jewelry for them.  Our waiters, servers, front desk, bartenders and even bellmen were all a pleasure to see and interact with.  Never once did I feel like I was bothering them or they were having a bad day.  No attitudes, only gratitude.  Sometimes I think more people should take a vacation just to see how other employees interact with customers.  We could learn a lot!  

Viva la Mexico!  And when you have your vacation time off, give us a call or drop us a message - one of out travel experts would love to send you on your very own Divine Destination!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

What is the difference between booking with a travel agent and booking through Expedia?

Booking with an agent allows you to:

  1. Tell them what you are looking for in a vacation; the good bad and unknown; a good agent will steer you in the right direction, especially since they probably have first hand experience.  Yes we all have access to Trip Advisor, however, in my opinion, I have a Trip Advisor Pro account; I am connected with hundreds of travel professionals around the world who are very candid about their experiences.  In fact, in our office we have our own little Black Book, or list of resorts on a “Do Not Sell” list because we don’t want our clients to waste their hard earned money and precious vacation time on sub-par experiences.

  1. Secure the vacation with a small deposit and make payments like lay away.  No, lay away didn’t go out in the 80s in fact, that’s one of the best ways to pay for your vacation! Instead of paying for it all at once leaving your credit card smoking, you can secure your trip with as little as $50/pp and pay as you go.  As long as it’s paid off by the final payment, most agents don’t care if you have a payment plan set up or not.

  1. Get special extras without having to pay for them including hidden discounts.  There really isn’t much that brings more joy to me after knowing my clients have had a great vacation except for when I am able to delight them with extras that they knew nothing about.  Like a bottle of chilled sparkling wine awaiting their arrival in their suite or even a selection of handmade chocolates with a note to say “hope you are enjoying your trip” when they are halfway across the globe.  The best is when I can say “thank you” for your loyalty and even service by offering discounts for returning guests or military personnel.

  1. Check in like a rockstar and not just a number since a good agent will have contacts in the resort setting you apart.  There are not many worse words to hear after traveling all day than to  hear, “We’re overbooked”.  That commonly happens on the airplane and the hotel when people book online with some suppliers.  When you trust your trip to an agent you can rest easy knowing your seat and pillow will be waiting for you.  In addition, we like to alert the resort of our VIP clients (you) who are arriving so they too can be ready to greet you like the VIP you are.

  1. If the price drops so does your balance.  If the price drops or a sale presents itself offering a better value than previously booked, we are able to rebook and pass the savings back to you.  We are notified of the sales so you don’t have to watch for them.  Once we had a sale that dropped the rooms by $500!  That’s a lot of swimsuits, sundresses and strappy sandals at!

  1. If you have a problem, “yo I’ll solve it!”  The world is an imperfect place, even in the most perfect looking destinations.  Thankfully, if you should experience a problem, you are never left to your own devices to figure it out.  You have access to a destination help line 24/7 in addition to me!  So when the ocean view room overlooks the dumpster, or the pre arranged shuttle leaves without you or you realize your passport has expired and you are scheduled to leave in 24 hours, you can breath a sigh of relief knowing that you have an agent in your corner.  

These are just a few of the reasons why you should consider having us book your next trip. I look forward to talking with you and booking your next dream vacation!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Have You Ever Dreamed Of......

Have you ever walked on Roman roads, sailed down the rivers of kings and felt the strange become the familiar? Have you ever taken a journey that brought the world to life and somewhere along the way did the same to you? Have you dreamed of taking a vacation that was as easy as simply packing your bags? A vacation where every Last Detail has already been thought of and all you have to do is wake up and enjoy each and every day? If you’d like to answer “Why yes, I have” come journey with us on a River Cruise and see the fascinating people, places and things along the world’s legendary rivers of Europe, Asia, and Egypt as well as the Galapagos Islands.  Did you know that you could travel for FREE just by being a group leader?  By being a group leader, you will help grow a group, however, you won’t need to be a travel agent!  Divine Destinations can take care of those details, simply chose the itinerary you want and start telling your friends!  Want to host a “sneak peek” party complete with wines and cheeses from the region?  We’d love to help you enhance your party and get your group together so you can travel for free!   Ready to get started?  Call us at 218-348-2825 and we’ll look forward to designing a new European experience for you – on the river!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


The island of Bali is a well-known tourism destination in Indonesia. Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the triangular area of tropical marine waters with an incredibly high biodiversity of marine species, containing at least 500 species of reef-building corals. This makes for world-class diving where travelers can explore beautiful and unique reefs right off the coast of the island. Other popular water activities include surfing, sailing, yachting, white-water rafting and sport fishing.

The climate in Bali is fairly even year-round. In low elevations, daytime temperatures can vary between 70 and 90 degrees, with temperatures becoming much cooler in the mountains. From December to March, the west monsoon can bring heavy rain and high humidity but rains tend to start in the late afternoon or evening and pass quickly. From June to September, humidity is low and it can be cool in the evening. There is typically not a lot of rain during that time of year.

The volcanic nature of Bali has created beautiful black sand beaches, but travelers looking to enjoy white sand beaches will be happy, too, since the southern part of the island has beaches with fine-grain white sand..

While the rest of Indonesia is largely Muslim, Bali is dominantly Hindu. Visiting a Hindu temple in Bali is truly extraordinary and easy to do. Customary law requires that every village construct and maintain at least three temples, giving travelers many opportunities to experience this integral part of Hinduism.

From world-class scuba diving to the many amazing Hindu temples, Bali has something for every traveler. Just one visit will show travelers how beautiful the island is and make them yearn to come back to learn even more about this exotic island and its culture.

If you would like to book your next vacation to the exotic destination of Bali give me a call and let's start planning.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Where is one of the best locations to go that isn't filled with tourists all the time?

Avid vacationers always ask me where are the best places to go that are NOT the usual tourist destinations. I like to tell them Offshore Islands. This week I would like to share with you some of my favorites.

Mexico - Isla Holbox
This is the Mexican island that time forgot. Frequent visitors here would like to keep it a best-kept secret, but word has trickled out about its beautiful beaches and car-free streets. Isla Holbox is about 40 miles northwest of Cancun, and you can drive to Chiquila and take a 20-minute ferry ride or charter an air taxi flight from Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Honeymooners rejoice in the stripped-down feel of the island, with its sand streets, low-rise buildings and back-to-basics, bohemian feel. This is a holiday spot with tons of personality. Cars aren’t allowed on the compact island (it’s just a mile wide), so visitors and locals get around by golf cart, bike and moped. While the main town is worth a gander and spending the day soaking up the sun on a tranquil beach is enticing, there is also a whole natural world above and below the waterline. Holbox is home to more than 150 species of birds, including exotic beauties you only see in picture books, and adventurous honeymooners can kayak through the mangroves or the shallow waters formed by the sandbars to see them.

What to do: Isla Holbox is located within Mexico’s largest ecological reserve, Yum Balam, and there are dolphins near the reefs, pink flamingos, and pelicans in the shallow lagoons, and endangered wildlife such as nesting turtles and sea swallows that find sanctuary here. Giant whale sharks visit these waters from June to September, and swimming with them is a singular experience. Most boat tours include a trip to Isla Pasion and a visit to Yalahau, a fresh-water cenote perfect for a refreshing dip.

Where to stay: Colorful CasaSandra is truly a home away from home. Fully embracing the notion of “barefoot luxury,” the boutique hotel’s 18 rooms are filled with locally made furniture, hand- woven linens and world-class artworks. Rene Redzepi, the chef of Copenhagen’s Noma, currently regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world, is a fan of the fresh fish and seafood served here, and the wind-kissed, thatched palapitas (small day beds) are just steps from the ocean.

Isla Mujeres:
For decades, Isla Mujeres served as a quick day-trip destination for couples holidaying in Cancun, but the colorful island’s soulful allure has beguiled discerning honeymooners, who now spend their entire getaways here. Only eight miles from Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a destination in its own right, with beautiful beaches that rival those in Riviera Maya, and crystal- clear, turquoise waters that cast a tantalizing spell on beach lovers. An underwater sculpture museum draws curious scuba divers, and an important archaeological site in Punta Sur adds a dash of history for a well-rounded experience.
What to do: Adventure-seeking couples can get up-close and personal with whale sharks that congregate here between June and September. The whale sharks are gentle creatures that can grow as large as 60 feet. Have a shark phobia? Visitors can instead choose to stay aboard the charter boat and watch these magnificent creatures swim in the clear waters below.
Where to stay: The zen Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres is a beachside sanctuary with 35 spacious oceanfront suites — each with a private terrace and outdoor Jacuzzi — drenched in sunlight. Most honeymooners find it hard to leave their suite, let alone the sublime beach, infinity pool and Thalasso Spa with outdoor seawater hot tub.
Cozumel indisputably reigns as the island for overnighting honeymooners, and with very good reason. The pristine waters here are just as alluring as Mexico’s most ancient Mayan ruins. Snorkeling and scuba diving is a major highlight, thanks to Cozumel’s coral reef — one of the largest in the world — and white-sand beaches framed by the picture-perfect blue sea. Less than five percent of its 189 square miles is developed, which gives it bona fide island charm: authentic, family-run shops, pastel buildings and a quaint town square. Most visitors hop on rented scooters to explore small Mayan ruins, the lush marine park and art galleries.
What to do: Don masks and fins for some daytime fun snorkeling in popular spots like Chankanaab lagoon, known for abundant marine life, and Paradise Reef, a gorgeous protected area with exotic fish, lobster and even octopus. Experienced snorkelers head to San Francisco Reef, a shallow wall dive that’s home to friendly sea turtles. For day excursions, it’s easy to coordinate with your hotel or even hire a driver.
Where to stay: The 220-room InterContinental Presidente Cozumel Resort Spa is the only five-star resort on the island. Its excellent location within the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park on a half-mile of sugar-white beach means guests have unlimited access to some of the most thrilling swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving on the island.
For more  information on these locations or help booking your next vacation please contact me. I look forward to talking with you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

What have you done for me lately?

Hi I’m Jen Maki with Divine Destinations.  I run an award winning travel agency and for the past 9 years I’ve been traveling the world which allows me to share some travel tips with you.  Today’s travel tip is, let the experts do what they do best – get you the best value for your vacation dollar!

I once had a bride who was trying to keep her Honeymoon budget to a minimum.  So she went online and found a “deal” that included flights out of MSP, no transfers to the resort (which of course means she has to hail a cab in a foreign country) and then a standard ROH room.  She asked me if I could price match that.  I was happy to do so, as we will gladly price match ANY package you find online plus give you a $50 credit towards your next vacation, however, before I did that, I showed her the package I was able to design for her:

The package I was able to put together included flights from Duluth, a private transfer which included a driver holding a sign with their name on it which made it super easy to find where to go and saved precious vacation time by getting them to the resort faster, once they got to their resort, a complimentary upgrade was waiting for them along with a bottled of chilled champagne in their room.  Because they were celebrating their Honeymoon, they also received breakfast in bed with mimosas, a complimentary candlelit dinner on the beach, a hot bubble bath with sparkling wine and rose petals in the room, a couples massage and late check out the day of departure.  The price difference between the two packages wasn’t a lot but it did prove to be a big difference in value.  Remember, a cheap price isn’t always a good deal.

Your Honeymoon will be your first trip together as Mr/Mrs, so it’s better to leave your special vacation to the experts, after all, this is one trip you will remember the rest of your life.  Make it a Divine Destination to remember!
Are you ready to get started planning your picture perfect Honeymoon?  Go to our website and click on the “Get Started Now” icon on the top right corner.  Then fill out the quick and easy travel questionnaire and then set a time where we can chat more about the Honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of.  I make dreams come true.  Don’t wait – let’s get started today!