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!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lucky In Love

So you are lucky in love, eh? Well, join the club!  Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the US with over 80 THOUSAND marriage licenses issued annually!  I had heard it is the easiest place to wed since there are little restrictions. Unlike marrying abroad, you don't have a waiting period, there are no blood tests and they do ceremonies 24 hours a day 365 days a year! Here you can marry as young as 16, same sex is recognized and this IS a legal marriage recognized around the world! As I traveled to Sin City for a conference geared towards romance travel experts, I decided to walk a mile in the shoes of someone looking to tie the knot in the famous city.  It was insanely eye opening to say the least!  Allow me to share with you…..



Upon landing in Las Vegas I was welcomed with blazing sunshine and endless options for couples looking to wed.  A quick google search gave me a one sheet on “How to Get Married in Las Vegas”.  Because it seemed to be as easy as 1-2-3,  I decided to see for myself.  A short and inexpensive Uber drive to the Marriage License Bureau from the hotel off the strip was about $7.  This office is open from 8am - midnight every day of the year to accomodate the demand. Once inside, the TSA looking lines show proof that thousands come here annually but it was fairly quiet for a Monday.  Only 2 couples were in line (plus a bun in the oven!) and this proved to be a very fast process with so few people.  If you want to ensure a faster process, you can go online, fill out the application and walk down the expressway to marriage bliss.  
Today, all lines were expressways!  Either line is a lucky double sevens ($77) for your license; cash is preferred but cards are accepted for a 3% fee.  Once your license is printed you take this to the officiant and exchange your vows.  If you haven’t had the foresight to book a chapel, no worries!  There are plenty of people outside the building who are passing out their congratulations and fliers.


After the hardest part is done, taking the first step, the natural second step is to toast yourselves!  Just a short Lyft away (don’t bother to hail a cab, they are not willing to make the short trip) you can have a glass of bubbly, order some food or even zip line down Fremont Street hand in hand!  


My curiosity is heightened by the ease of holy matrimony here.  I mean, what many lament for months over was done in nano seconds in comparison!  I proceeded to use my dear friend Google again and search the nearby wedding venues.  No surprise, the map was peppered with options that made it look like Vegas had the chicken pox!  A quick online reservation form showed me that they were accepting reservations as soon as, well, within the hour!  
 A short 2 block stroll, I found myself in a trendy area called Container Park.  Here I saw a clean assortment of dining, shopping and of course wedding venues.  A stark contrast of the ways of Fremont Street I just came from.  On the third floor was a chic and trendy boutique called Lucky Little Chapel.  It is here where you can wed in your jeans for as little as $99 (and 8 professional photos!) or go all the way and fancy yourself up with traditional wedding attire.  Everyone here was super sweet, professional and fun!  A minister will lead you through vows or you can say your own.  In as little as 10 minutes later (probably less) you can walk out legally bound in a marital institution.  Afterall, marriage is an institution, right?  The marriage certificate you will receive is just a souvenir but the real deal is available online about 10 days later.  In addition, your photographs are delivered via email using dropbox inside of 5 minutes.  


 
In conclusion, I can tell you I truly had no idea how easy (and inexpensive) it is to get hitched in Vegas.  Honest.  But being the romance expert who does tons of Destination Weddings annually, I figured I should really know more about this!  I also learned that you can marry just about anywhere you dream of wearing anything you’d wish!  They have endless options, costume shops and ministers who are just as open minded as the couples who request them!  I asked a local wedding planner what was the craziest request ever and she said: a couple wanted to wed in a parking ramp at 1:00am on New Year's Eve and the officiant had to dress up as Lady Gaga….wowsers!  For those looking to say “I do” on roller coaster, or plunging off the side of a hotel to drive thrus or even at a fast food chain - Vegas does not disappoint!  


If you’d like to consider tying the knot in Vegas, I’d love to help you through this journey!  Bringing a group?  I can ensure your friends and family’s travel is coordinated, they get the best value and your events from the night before to the morning after are all seamlessly coordinated so you can focus on your wedding day!  All you have to do is pack your bags! I'll look forward to chatting with you soon!
jennifer@4divinedeals.com | www.4divinedeals.com


Thursday, April 20, 2017

5 Treasures In Mexico City



I would like to share with you 5 amazing things to do in Mexico City, Mexico. There are always tourist attractions to visit like everyone else that goes to Mexico City sees. But why not make your trip extra unique and see Mexico City differently than the other visitors?

1.  Walking Tour
If you are up for walking and taking in the sites, you can go an a professionally guided walking tour of Mexico City. The real Mexico is hidden along side of all the landmarks and tourist sites. On the walking tour you will get the behind the scenes view of what Mexico City has to offer. This tour will reveal a rich blend of people, their culture and their lifestyles.
2.  Salón Los Angeles
Do enjoy dancing and good cultural music? This is just the place for you. When you walk into Salón Los Angeles you will be engrossed in Latin American entertainment. The large open dance floor invites you to feel and enjoy the rhythms of the music and all that it has to offer from salsa to the cumbia, you will enjoy the vibe here. Their slogan is ‘Whoever doesn’t know Salón Los Angeles, doesn’t know Mexico’.
3.  The Market
Visit Mercado de Medellín. Medellín is a neighborhood market that offers a glimpse of what is being lost as time moves on.  Stalls filled with vendors selling fresh spices, fresh fruit juices or sheets of chicharrón are ready and waiting for you. For a traditional lunch at the market, look for Los Canarios. They have been serving grilled meats, like sliced filet mignon a la tabla since 1968. In the market you are sure to find something to love.

4.  Maximo Bistrot
A subdued elegant corner bistro that is run by a young husband-and-wife team. With an open kitchen and a handwritten daily menu you will soon learn that this is not your typical restaurant. They set up Maximo Bistrot to showcase fresh produce from in and around Mexico City. The service is excellent and reservations are required.

5.  Sunday Bikes
Sunday mornings bring something special. The Paseo de la Reforma which is Mexico City’s grand boulevard, is closed to car traffic and becomes a bike/walking highway for a few hours. This is a wonderful sight, people pedaling past some of the city's most famous attractions. You can join in the fun too. Stop by one of the communal EcoBici bike places or talk to your hotel desk to make a reservation to rent a bike for the event. But think ahead as the EcoBici’s are not open on Sunday’s.  And if you're not good on a bike no worries along the bike route are many volunteers manning junctions, repair stations and medical tents (just incase) or you could walk.  

For more information on Mexico City, Mexico or any other destination please contact me.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What is the most extravagant trip you have ever booked for someone?



The most extravagant trip I have ever booked for someone had all the bells and whistles and spared nothing when it came to expense.  The reason?  My client felt he had waited too long to take this trip that his wife had dreamed of for so long.  “She always wanted to go to Hawaii”, he told me.  But life got in the way.  His business was launching and then expanding and becoming extremely successful, however, ironically enough as his business success grew, his personal success plummeted.  He got older, fatter, and wiser.  Hey, don’t we all?  And this year he was going to make it memorable - he was going to surprise his wife with the ultimate birthday gift and I Love You More gesture - So I booked a multi-island itinerary, a second Honeymoon per say.  We incorporated a day trip to the waterfalls by helicopter, explore the Road to Hana and even go zip lining through the rainforest!  Each night there was something to look forward to; whether a luau or a candlelight dinner on the beach.  Each day had some sort of surprise sprinkled in from a romantic couple’s massage to a relaxing beach day with no expectations.  He was so proud of himself for hiring me to arrange the details; he said it was so easy he, “wished he would’ve done it sooner!”

So I made the reservations for the B&B where they would stay for the weekend, he picked up flowers from a local vendor I suggested, wine and a Hallmark card and off they went with two completely different intentions in mind.  Upon checking in and uncorking the wine, he simply couldn’t contain himself.  He had to give her the birthday gift NOW!  So he excitedly told her that he had something very special to give her and it just couldn’t wait.  She then surprised him by saying she too had something to give him.  As they exchanged Hallmark cards, they couldn’t be more polar opposites.  One said, “I love you now let’s go to Hawaii” while the other said, “I don’t love you anymore, let’s get a divorce.”

A little too much too late?  I’m afraid so.  An isolated story? Not a chance!  In fact, although this story is a hybrid; made up of many true stories I see day after day.  This isn’t about one client in particular, but many I have worked with.  The moral of the story is don’t wait.  Just do it.

If you have any questions on this topic or any other travel topics please contact me.

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.