Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's raining, now what? Part #2

Continuing on with the top things to do on your vacation when it rains:

6.  Exchange to other resorts - Depending on your resort, you may have exchange privileges to the other sister properties. This exchange privileges will allow for a variety of dining options, entertainment revues, pools and different atmospheres. Check with your concierge to arrange for the transportations to the sister resorts; many times it is complimentary, but may follow a schedule.

7.  Fitness center - Well, I cant say I utilized ours while I was here, but the facilities are state of the art! Want a fitness profile? Trainer for the day? Need to burn off the unlimited amount of Coronas from the night before? Head to the gym!

8.  Sports bar - This venue proved to be particularly fun! Not only did I find new friends to hang with, but the game was always on and the crowd was lively! It was here I was able to find my favorite American greasy food such as chips, burgers, nachos and pizza!

9.  Dine around - Not to spend so much time focusing on food, but for so many, the value of an all inclusive comes in the fact that everything is included; that means food, beverages, snacks, even the tip! For a day that is particularly long and dreary, why not mix it up a bit by doing the dine around program. Start with a signature drink at the lobby bar followed by an appetizer at the first restaurant. Continue the night by eating each course at a different restaurant and finish up with dessert and a fabulous Vegas style show at the resort's theater. We saw Elvis to Grease to a traditional Mexican revue; all were top notch!

10.  Sleep! - Do you know how relaxing it is to listen to the sound of rain? Coming from Minnesota, listening to rainfall is virtually impossible unless you are absolutely sure there are no rips or tears in your window screens! The Mosquitos that come out with rainfalls are as big as helicopters therefore, many a storm is missed and not enjoyed. We never saw a mosquito or fly or any insect come to think of it while we were in Mexico. Therefore, we slept with the balcony doors wide open and listened to the rain while enjoying the ocean breeze!As we make our final decent back home, I'm filled with great experiences, I'm well rested and I don't have to deal with painful sunburns or scaly skin!

Despite all of this, I had a wonderful time and look forward to my return. This time, I'm taking mi familia so they too can experience the wonderful people, hospitality and experiences of Mexico that I have had the opportunity to enjoy. The Mayan calendar predicts December 21, 2012 not as the end of the world, but a new beginning. If you haven't been to Mexico in awhile, consider this destination for your next vacation. Whether you are dreaming about an adults only getaway or that family vacation with the kids and even Grandma, you will find the perfect location and be treated like royalty by the Mexican people. Need help finding the perfect resort? Give me a call, drop me a line or tweet me a message. Adios, it's time to "shut off all electronics, make sure my seat back is in its upright position and my tray table is stowed".

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's raining, now what? Part #1

As I announced my departure and eagerly packed my bags for Cancun, I anticipated long days in the sun with my iPod set to sexy Latin music, endless mojitos and my Midwestern complexion taking on a new shade of pink. Soon after this daydream, I checked the weather channel and to my horror I saw my entire vacation was forecasted to be 85 degrees and 60% rain! With hopes that the meteorologists were just a inaccurate as ours here, I pushed the forecast far from my mind. It quickly reared it's ugly head the minute the pilot announced the current conditions upon our decent into the gateway of Mexico; Cancun. So, for the next four days I was faced with "Plan B". Can you believe that I was able to thoroughly enjoy my trip, despite the lack of vitamin D? What did I do you ask? Well, I have put together a list of things you can comfortably do if the sun isn't shining her beautiful rays. Of course, there are plenty more things to do, but with only four days, this is a start.

1.  Shopping - Did you know Cancun rivals Las Vegas with their amount of shops and upscale boutiques? Whether you are searching for the newest Coach clutch or just want to roam the halls and window shop, there are plenty of shops to see. Another convenient option for shopping for souvenirs is duty free at the airport ( my personal favorite).

2.  Swim with the Dolphins - What a magical experience! To touch, kiss, hug, hold and be pulled or pushed through the pool with such gentle giants is truly a must do experience for everyone, regardless of your age. When I was being pulled around by two 600 pound dolphins I've never felt such exhilaration! My only regret is not choosing to be pushed up and out of the pool by these surprisingly strong animals during the foot push. I witnessed people say, "I'm scared, Eeekkk, OMG that was SO awesome!" all within 10 seconds of doing the "foot push".

3.  Snorkel- I talk about what to do in the rain and for some you may think its weird to do water sports in the rain. The rain in Cancun is very warm and light and my thoughts are, if you're wet already, what is the difference? Did you know some people say some of the best sightseeing in Cancun is under water? Did you know there is an underwater museum? Have you heard about the fresh water cenotes? These are just a few treasures you an see while snorkeling in and around Cancun.

4.  Connect with friends and family via wifi - In our resort, The RIU Palace Peninsula, the lobby offered free wifi 90 minutes per day. That is just enough time to get your electronic fix, update your status, upload photos and simply reconnect with those loved ones back home. I unfortunately didn't learn of the wifi until the last day so be sure to check with the front desk. After seeing how many copies of "50 Shades of Grey" were in women's beach bags and consistently sold out at the resort gift shop, I am willing to bet that many took advantage of the free wifi to down load the copy to their Kindle! It was all the rage and and a very fun conversation starter wherever we went. "What page are you on? Have you gotten to Chapter 10 yet?"

5.  Spa- The resorts have the most incredible spas, don't they? I love how you can walk from your hotel room down to the spa, enjoy your treatment and blissfully walk back to the room, the balcony, the bar, wherever. The bummer of a spa back home is the driving afterwards; it just seems to undo all of the relaxing a spa treatment can provide.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Check please...

So weve been talking about the debate whether to check your bags or carry on. Surprisingly, this last go around on facebook (www.facebook.com/4divinedeals) showed a unanimous vote to pay the fees and check your bags. As I sit here comfortably checked in, purse stowed and ready for my flight, I'm so glad I'm not "that person"! You know, the one who's dragging on an overstuffed suit case, trying to cram it into the over head bin. And for what? Was it really to save the $20-25 bag fee? Could it be mistrust; fear the airline won't deliver their precious cargo to their final destination? Whatever the reason, I can see the overhead bins are bursting at the seams. The flight attendants have already had their upper body work outs completed by 5:03am! We will be leaving later due to the hassle of stowing bags therefore a missed connection is imminent for some poor soul (hope it's not me; I've got a Mojito with my name on it once I arrive into sunny Cancun!) And honestly, does it really speed much up? Whether we wait for our bags on the carousel or wait for you to stow your bags on the aircraft, it's a horse a piece. So if given the choice , I will opt to lighten up and check my bags! Just remember the rules: under 40#, 3 oz or less on liquids in a clear plastic bag for easy identification and a total of 45 linear inches (14x9x22)

So, as I sit back and enjoy my flight to Cancun, I say, "Adios!" from 35,000 feet!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spring Parody

As spring is taking its sweet time arriving, I decided to take advantage of the sunny afternoon which was foreshadowed by an extended forecast of clouds and cool weather and go for a walk. As I set out with mans best friend, I quickly realized today was 'Garbage Day'. As I walked the rural area into town I must've seen five or more different colored garbage bins and two different garbage trucks passed me giving me the "windblown" au natural look. How could so many companies be doing the same thing: collecting garbage?! Mind blowing to put it mildly but then I really began to think about it and it boiled down to one question: Why? Was it because of price? Because of the color of the bin? Could it be because one company was the first to pick up or was it because the company went the extra mile (literally) to drive down their long driveway to do the dumping vs the other company who required the neighbors with equally as long driveways to bring theirs to the curb? And to think some don't use a company at all; the DIYers who recycle and have "dump runs" or "recycle runs"!

Then it hit me: this is no different than booking your travel! For example, I Google searched "vacation"- that yields about 716,000,000 results!! So how do you choose which one to go with? Is it all about price? Or a flashy website teasing you with sales? Do you like to get it done quickly? Or are you like the people with the long driveway who look for value or service and can be confident knowing that a little more time was taken to go over the details therefore getting a unique tried and true itinerary that's not cookie cutter? Do you like to know all of the details are taken care of and you're only concern is getting to the airport and breeze through the TSA lines?

Anyone can DIY, but is it as effective, does it save you time, money and stress or do you wonder if you really got the best value? (Only 47% of Americans do by the way.) My advice would be to choose a professional and I'd encourage you to choose a local company. Your money stays local and it's a win win for the community, the company and ultimately you! Start by asking for a referral from your friends or associates at work. From there look in the yellow pages, google search, yelp or even Facebook. As they say, "The Internet is for looking, your travel agent is for booking!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Calling All Savvy Brides!

As I begin to finalize the last minute prepping for the 24th Annual Duluth Bridal Show I'm reeled back in time to when I was a newly engaged bride to be myself! 14 years ago I had stars in my eyes and nothing but pure bliss simply with idea of getting married. I remember pouring over the Internet (dial up of course!) for hours as I searched and clicked on the Top 10s of virtually everything Bridal. With blood shot eyes and a notebook full of ideas I would slip off to sleep and dream of the "Big Day"! I even kept out of town guests in the loop with a newsletter!

Thankfully since then I've adopted a simpler and smarter way of doing things. In fact the motto I hold near and dear to my heart is: 'Do what you do best and hire the rest'. This way of life has saved me from frustrations and expensive mistakes of trying to do everything myself, not to mention the stress I've avoided along the way. Brides take heed: planning for your wedding day is NOT the time to play SuperWoman! There are experts out there in all things Bridal just waiting for you to tap into their super powers! I know you can bake but really, do you want to risk baking cupcakes for every single guest on your list? And we know you're quite the photographer from your 1.2 million mobile uploads on Facebook. And ironically enough, there are just as many brides to be who think they can be the travel agent as well when it comes to blocking hotel space for out of town guests and booking their Honeymoon. Why would you WANT to do it all? Will you really save that much money? Don't you want to relax and ENJOY your first day of the rest of your life? Grab your Mom or BFFs and come down to the 24th Annual Duluth Bridal Show at he DECC this Saturday, January 14. Talk to the experts, sample their cupcakes, look at their photos and then decide for yourself just how much you want to DIY or relax knowing you don't have to come from Royalty to have your own 'happily ever after'. In the end, 14 years later, what I remember is not what I did myself, but what the experts did. The delicious (and gorgeous) carrot spice cake with sinfully good cream cheese frosting, my simple yet elegant wedding gown and the professional photo album; these are just a few of what I will cherish forever.