Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bali


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:
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!

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!