Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Plotting the Perfect Itinerary
In life, there are pantsers and there are plotters. Pantsers like to live by the seat of their pants (hence the term ‘pantsers'), winging it as they go with the flow and see where the universe takes them. Plotters, on the other hand, plot out their tasks, their grocery lists, their errands and practically everything else in life, making sure they don't skip a thing.
To plan the perfect travel itinerary, it helps to be a serious plotter (like most travel agents are). But to truly enjoy that well-plotted itinerary, you need to have a little pantser in you (like most travel agents do!). Here are three key tips to plotting the perfect, seamless itinerary:

Give Yourself Time

An overly-ambitious planner would schedule an event for every second of every day, creating an itinerary that maximizes time but leaves no room for error or even improvisational exploration. So prioritize your sightseeing, choose only those at the top of your list and give yourself plenty of time to get there and enjoy these fantastic sights. Also realize that there are many factors you cannot plan for—such as traffic, missed connections or local events that shut down streets—so the more room you leave in your daily schedule, the less stress you'll experience completing it.

Include the Minor Details
Most people think their itinerary consists only of flights and hotels. Not so. It should also include travel time to the airport and from the airport's parking lots to the terminal. And let's not forget travel from the destination airport to your hotel, time to eat during your trip, and time to leisurely catch a connecting flight if your first one is delayed. Only by thinking of all of these various factors will you be able to create a seamless itinerary.

Add an Extra Day of Nothing
Regardless of how well-planned your vacation is, everything changes once you arrive at your destination. You may become ill or need time to shop if your luggage is delayed. Maybe you learned on the flight over about an incredible new restaurant you want to try but didn't schedule. Or perhaps a storm douses your plans for an all-day outdoor activity. The best thing to do is add an extra day of nothing at the end of your schedule, which will give you a cushion to do the things you might have missed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dreams Puerto Vallarta December 2012

Just returned from my first visit to the Pacific side of Mexico, along the beautiful coast of Puerto Vallarta. This resort, to my surprise has become a new favorite of mine! I traveled with my husband and another agent and his wife from 3D Cruise and Travel.

A short 20 minute cab ride from the airport, all local cabs are safe and can whisk you away to the resort for @$22 USD. The ride to the resort actually takes you through the streets of downtown Puerto Vallarta. It's hustle and bustle by day, with many locals, cruise ship passengers and tourists alike. The locals pride themselves with "living with the tourists" as one of our cab drivers told us. The cobblestone streets were interesting to say the least, but lots to see and do with shops, restaurants and markets at every turn. Be ready to sit in some traffic, but still not a difficult commute.

This resort sits about five minutes on the outside of town. Even with it's close proximity, it feels secluded and quite it's own little paradise. We were dropped off out front and handed our champagne and cold towel- only to be recognized by the e-concierge, Bethy who had spoken with me on Facebook. She made sure we were comfortable, and escorted us through to the Preferred Club lounge for check-in. The agent was wonderful, and even upgraded us to the Penthouse Dream Suite!

The Preferred Club at this hotel is located it's own separate high-rise with only PC members accommodations. The lounge itself is none other then a small snack bar and a few bottles of liquor. It doesn't offer it's own bar or waiters. A staff member is own duty here, if you wish for a certain beverage they will make their way to the outside bar. The real perk to this Preferred Club is the rooms. They are currently updating the older tower, all with spectacular views, but the PC accommodations are terrific.

Our room, along with our friends room which was a Preferred Club Junior Suite were all very well appointed. The bed was amazing, and faced the patio with ocean views. Balconies are large, including a table and chairs, plunge pools in the Dream Suites. All rooms equipped with comfortable couches and chairs, flat screen TV's, soaking tubs and large rain head showers. I think the biggest treat was the sound of the surf even with the patio doors closed in the evening.

After taking a charter to Los Arcos, and seeing a nice tour of the bay, we realized that this resort offers the best beach in the area. While the winter months do offer strong surf at times, the beach size, views and lack of peddlers make it top notch. If you are a beach person, this is the place!

Pools are small, although the larger of the two with the swim-up bar is heated. Bartenders aren't to adventurous with drinks, but do serve the usual. The Adult pool was a bit disappointing in size, included built-in loungers, but empty during out stay due to the freezing water temps.

The dining experience here was what set this place apart in my opinion. With the exception of a lack luster Italian experience, the food here was some of the best I've experienced at an all-inclusive. To take that up another notch, most of the restaurants were open-air and had spectacular views of the beach and mountains. The main buffet, the World Cafe didn't look impressive, but did offer nice choices and were always hot. This also included theme nights, my favorite being the Asian cuisine offered during the Monday Night football party on the beach.

Nightlife is dull, the Rendezvous bar located off the lobby is the hot spot for an after dinner drink. They do have an older restaurant turned into a disco at night, but was empty and lacked a DJ. One thing to note, this resort doesn't offer top shelf alcohol. Most the of speciality drinks, martinis, etc were disappointing.

Overall, we all very much enjoyed our visit here and found ourselves wishing we hadn't split the week with another property. The summer months I see this not an ideal local for couples, but in the late fall and early winter months, a perfect quiet getaway. You will have to go into town for nightlife, but certain evenings with their theme parties gives it just enough to not be boring.

Hoping to return soon!

-Kim Gulick
3D Cruise and Travel Agent

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Top 10 Reasons You Need A Girlfriend Getaway

I'm sure you have a million reasons why you can't possibly get away for a day or two with the girls--
you have that covered. What we will go over in this article is why a girlfriend getaway is not a luxury but
a necessity in today's soceity where women are expected to multi-task from dusk to dawn (not to
mention all the stuff we have figured out how to do while we are sleeping).
Top 10 Reasons You Need A Girlfriend Getaway
1.You have something to celebrate! Be it a special birthday (29, AGAIN!) a great new job, or you have recently unloaded a heavy weight (boyfriend or those 10 extra lbs. you've been carrying around) what better way to celebrate than with the women who probably helped you get to where you are today.
2.It's time to branch out and try something different. You've had countless days of the same routine; wake up, feed the kids, get ready for work, commute, work, come home, make get the picture. Time to change your routine even if it is only for 2 or 3 days. Trust me you will feel recharged and re-energized maybe upon return you will appreciate your routine or maybe you'll tweak it a little.
3.Travel with no extra baggage meaning boyfriend/husband and kids. Yes they are the center of your universe but taking time to charge your battery will make you a stronger person and that helps everyone
4.You are way to serious, responsible and you frown too much. It is so fun to let your hair down and it also gives your frown lines a rest!
5.It will give you the push you need to take yourself out of the comfort zone. You would think about rock climbing or zip lining on a work day in lovely suburbia but put you and a couple of friend on a resort weekend in Sedona and you'd be game for anything. Especially if you are promised an hour long massage when it is over.
6.Release yourself from the guilt. It's hard to feel guilty for doing something for yourself and being self-indulgent if you are not actually looking at the people you feel you are neglecting. Try not to phone home either! You deserve this and there is no need to make excuses!
7.Being a woman in today's society is a marathon not a sprint--most women will spend 17 years caring for children and 18 years helping an elderly parent. Is 1 weekend a year going to hurt? No, in fact it will help you build reserves for the rest of the race.
8.You could potentially be saving over $1,000. The cost of 1 therapy session twice a month for 1 year could be as much as $1,700. Plan a Girlfriend Getaway on a budget as small as $200 can be just as therapeutic and just way more fun.
9.You need the sleep. According to a 2004 Harris Poll conducted for Tylenol PM, almost 70% of the women polled said they get 6 hours of sleep or less per night during the work week. A couple days away from the rat race with the girls would provide a great opportunity to catch up on those zzzzzz's.
10.You don't have time for all the self-help and how-to books that are piling up on your nightstand. Instead of spending all those hours pouring over books, go away with the girls for great conversations. It could fill a book all the advice, tips and life lessons your girlfriends have to offer. Whether you need advice on losing weight, dealing with a colicky baby, a moody teenager or a difficult boss chances are your friends have been through it and can tell you what worked for them and what did not.
We have just laid out 10 fantastic reasons to take a Girlfriend Getaway. Here is our guarantee--do it once and you will be planning your next one before the trip is even over.