- Are you overdue a vacation where you can replenish your energy and senses?
- Has your focus been on meeting family and career needs for years, and feel you deserve some ME time?
- Does the thought of a pampering, tropical escape get you all smiley and giggly on the inside?
- Are you overwhelmed at the myriad of choices online, so that planning your trip only adds to the stress?
Who We Are
Reconnect Travel works with empty nested professionals who want their stress and worries to fade away without medication, therapy, or divorce attorney. We create unforgettable journeys that are relaxing, romantic, and make you feel young again. What separates Cindy Grant from the other travel consultants is that she has a gift for planning unforgettable trips that ignite the spark and replenish the soul. Now, isn’t that a lot more fun than therapy?
Cindy, thank you so much for making our Tahiti trip perfect. You were right, all the details were taken care of! And I loved the Hilton Bora Bora Nui, it was even better than you described. I can’t wait until our next trip, and I’m definitely sending my friends your way. You are awesome! – B and W Santos, Texas – June 2011
I had spent two confusing months going over resort reviews and websites when I found Cindy Grant. She was able to steer us to the perfect resort in Punta Cana for our anniversary trip, and it cost less than our budget, yay!! I can’t say enough wonderful things about her, she knows her stuff. – G Williams, Oklahoma — March 2012
Cindy was always available for our barrage of questions. There were 10 of us in the group and not one of us walked away from this trip with a bad experience. From the flights, to the transportation, to the resort – everything was orchestrated without a hitch. The resort was as beautiful as she described it would be. We would definitely recommend her to our friends and we will be using her again in the future. – J. S., Iowa — April 2013
Research is rough!
I just returned from a visit to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Pacific coast. This beautiful coastal area sits between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco on two scenic bays, surrounded by lush green mountains and coconut plantations. This is a great destination for folks who have already done the “usual” Mexico destinations and are looking for something different. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, two beachside towns on two adjacent bays are both charming, sleepy, and authentic feeling — especially when compared to Cancun & Playa del Carmen. Ixtapa has the larger hotels, while Zihuatanejo (still a tongue twister) has the best beach, Playa la Ropa.
Beautiful Playa la Ropa
My top picks for hotels in the area:
- Azul Ixtapa and Azul Ixtapa Grand – these sister properties (4 stars and 4 ½ stars, respectively) are great choices for families, groups, and adults. All-inclusive, multiple pools and restaurants, tennis courts, a convention center, and a view of Ixtapa Island just off the coast keeps you as busy as you want to be. Located on the “Hotel Strip” of Ixtapa and near Senor Frogs and shopping.
- Sunscape Dorado Pacifico – this 3 ½ to 4 star all-inclusive resort is great for families, friend groups, and simple destination weddings. While this hotel is “nothing fancy” the food is very good and the rooms are pleasant and comfortable.
- La Casa de Canta – switching gears, this is a breath-taking, small and intimate boutique hotel suited perfectly for a romantic getaway. Situated in Zihuatanejo and just above La Ropa Beach, you can enjoy views from your own private plunge pool. Gorgeous! Five star luxury. Meals not included.
- Viceroy Ixtapa Hotel – another 5 star gem. Located on the best beach (Playa la Ropa), this property is a bit larger than La Casa de Canta though equally as elegant. Perfect for couples and adult friends travelling together. Also an excellent choice for a destination wedding. Families are welcomed, though there’s not too much for kids to do here. Optional meal plans available.
Flights to Zihuatanejo require a connection from most major US cities. And, don’t forget passports are required. Weather is tropical year round, with high season occurring December through April.
What’s up in Jamaica
At last, families looking to travel to Jamaica will have quality options beyond just the Beaches Resorts! This is great considering the wonderful (and calm) beaches that Jamaica offers, and the great assortment of day excursions available for the active travelers.
So, here’s what’s new for Jamaica in 2014:
- Royalton White Sands – just east of Montego Bay (but not as far as Ocho Rios) sits this fantastic property perfect for families and couples. This resort opened this year after a massive renovation, and is hardly recognizable as the old Trelawny Starfish. It is medium in size with a great kids club, water park and spa (look for me in the spa). The resort is relatively compact, so getting around is easy. The less expensive rooms are on the small side but are smartly appointed. An excellent resort for reunions and destination weddings.
- Hyatt Ziva/Zilara Rose Hall – currently underway is a massive renovation project at the former Ritz Carlton Rose Hall. When complete (late 2014) the property will emerge as two properties – all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara. One side will be adults only & the other side will be family friendly. Expansion includes new pools and a dining and shopping area promenade. I anticipate it rating as a 5 star, and near some excellent golf options.
- Azul Sensatori Jamaica – hugely successful in the Riviera Maya area, Karisma Resorts has landed in Jamaica. Azul Sensatori Jamaica is the end result of a gut & rebuild on beautiful Negril Beach. Recently-opened Azul Sensatori Jamaica gives us a much-needed luxury resort to the Negril area that is perfectly suited for families as well as couples. An elegant, boutique feel with 136 rooms.
- Riu Palace Jamaica – located in Montego Bay and just minutes from the airport is the new Riu Palace Jamaica. This opened earlier this year. The property has a fresh, South Beach boutique feel to it. Quiet during the day, but may be loud in the evenings since the property backs up to the Riu Montego Bay. Perfect for the upscale, nightclub type of adult. An excellent choice for a friend trip or a romantic getaway. About 230 rooms.
Happy Travels! ~Cindy Grant, CTA Travel Consultant at Expert Family Travel. Located in the Dallas metro area Texas (The Colony/Frisco). 972-625-6200.
Can’t decide where to go this year? Should you return to one of your favorite resorts or is it time to check a new destination off your bucket list? Here’s a short list of South Pacific destinations to generate some new ideas.
- Hawaii - generally experienced one island at a time, staying 5 to 8 nights. If you have 8 or more nights, a two island hopper might work for you. Staying in Waikiki (Oahu) means you can skip a car rental. But staying on Oahu’s North Shore or on the other islands (Maui, Big Island, Kauai) a car rental is definitely recommended. No passport is required, driving is easy, and the islands lend themselves to exploring on your own. Ideal for couples, families, reunions, and small groups. A little over 5 hours from LAX to Oahu.
- Tahiti/French Polynesia - everyone should visit Tahiti (and especially Bora Bora) at least once in a lifetime. There is nothing quite like an overwater bungalow in the lagoon facing Mt. Otemanu. High season goes from June through October, pricing higher than Low season November through May. You may need to stay your first night in Papeete before continuing on to your island destination. Typically experienced as a 1 to 3-island itinerary, staying 5 to 10 nights. Moorea is a less expensive alternative, or can pair nicely with Bora Bora for a 2-island itinerary. Lesser-known islands make for a great first escape or for a return visit. While families are welcomed in many resorts, most travellers are honeymooners, couples, and adult divers. Flight time from Papeete is 8 1/2 hours.
- Fiji - known for friendly faces and beautiful beaches. A 10 hour flight from LAX. Typical itinerary is for 7 nights for one island, or 9 to 12 nights for two islands. Depending on air schedule, an overnight in Nadi may be necessary. This is a divers paradise as well as a perfect spot for a honeymoon. Fiji is also family friendly. Only one resort offers overwater bungalows, and they are expensive and sell out quickly. Typical accommodations are beachfront bures (bungalows).
- Australia – best experienced as part of an escorted tour, or an independent multi destination itinerary. Allow 2 weeks minimum. Don’t forget, seasons are reversed.
- New Zealand – Visit either North Island or South Island if you have less than 2 weeks for travel. Or combine both islands if you can go 2-3 weeks or longer. An escorted tour makes things easy and efficient, or try a self-drive itinerary if you are independent.
- Cook Islands – for the “been there, done that” crowd. Cook Islands offer a sleepy, laid back version of Tahiti and Fiji. No luxury-level hotels and flight schedules are a bit more challenging (compared to other destinations).
- Cruise – rather experience the South Pacific by ship? NCL offers a one-week Hawaii cruise. Paul Gauguin offers 7 day and longer French Polynesia cruises. And multiple cruise lines offer the South Pacific on special itineraries on select days. Just ask!
Happy travels! Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel (located in Frisco/The Colony in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, Texas). Contact at 972-625-6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org
With its verdant rainforests, active volcanoes, hot springs, abundant wildlife, and beaches Costa Rica packs an incredible diversity in such a small country.
There are essentially three different types of Costa Rica vacations we offer.
- Guanacaste Beach Stay. Fly into Liberia airport and stay at one of the beachfront resorts on the Guanacaste area along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast line. Resorts range from moderate to luxury, some being all-inclusive resorts. Ideal for families, couples, and friends who are looking for a beach vacation with a few day excursions to explore.
- Custom Itinerary. Fly into either San Jose or Liberia and visit multiple areas tailor-made to fit you best. Rainforest + Volcano + Beach is the most popular combination. You can concentrate your interests (such as canopy tour, hiking, and white water rafting for soft adventure; cloud forest, rain forest, and turtle time for an eco adventure). Included in your itinerary is transportation so you don’t have to rent a car. We can also arrange your day tours. Great for a honeymoon or a family with older kids. Custom designed for groups.
- Guided Vacation. We offer several great escorted tour options in the moderate to upscale range. This is by far the easiest way to explore Costa Rica and all its marvels. We even have a speical Family Experiences tour for families with kids ages 5 and up.
Happy Travels! ~Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel located in Frisco/The Colony Texas (in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex). Contact at 972-625-6200 or email@example.com
If you are thinking of a beachy destination that’s perfect year-round complete with swaying palm trees, friendly locals, and the scent of plumeria in the air, let me suggest one of the islands of Hawaii. The hard part, of course, is deciding which island to visit.
- Oahu is the island where you’ll find the majority of Hawaii’s population (in Honolulu), world famous Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. This island is a great choice for folks looking for nightlife and shopping, and for those who prefer not to need a car rental on their trip. There are some great hotels and resorts in all quality categories, so this can be a great choice, too, for those on a budget.
- Maui embodies all things “Hawaiian” and is my top pick for first time couples and families to Hawaii. Hotels, resorts, and condo properties run the range from economy to luxury. You’ll want a car rental here.
- Kauai is a bit more rugged and sleepy than Maui. This is a good choice for active couples, active families with teens, and also for couples who really just want to relax the entire time of their trip. Accommodations range from economy to luxury (hotel and condo). Car rental strongly recommended.
- Hawaii (aka “Big Island”) is home of the active volcano, and Volcano National Park. It is also the largest island, with a diverse range of climates. Because the island is so large and the active volcano is on the other side of the island from the hotel area, a car rental is a must. Hotels and condos range from economy to luxury, with the best resort beaches located at the luxury resorts.
- Lanai – a very sleepy, quiet island. Great for the couple who really just want to get away, and for the couple who have travelled to Hawaii before. Luxury accommodations only.
- Multiple islands – if you have at least 8 nights to spend in Hawaii, you can consider a two island hopper stay. Or, perhaps a 7 night Hawaii cruise (you’ll want to arrive the night before for ease of travel and comfort). And there are escorted tour options for those of you who would like to maximize their time, with 3 and 4 island itineraries.
The Hawaiian Islands are about 5 hours’ flight from Los Angeles, and do not require a passport. Driving is easy enough, and all islands lend themselves to lots of exploring and things to do. Hawaii is perfect for honeymoon couples, young families, and extended groups in a range of sizes and ages. There are no all-inclusive resorts in Hawaii, though sometimes the hotels are offering a breakfast-included rate. Just be sure and ask about your options when booking your Hawaii package.
Whether you are a seasoned, advanced scuba diver or a newbie looking to try it out for the first time, a dive vacation can be a great option for your next getaway.
- Cozumel – located just off Mexico’s Yucatan coast, the island of Cozumel lets you experience world famous Palancar Reef with drift dives of all experience levels. Graet snorkeling opportunities as well. Accommodations range from economy to upscale, but with no true luxury resorts on the island. All-inclusive options available.
- Grand Caymans – located in the Caribbean, and easy striking distance from the US. Known for great wall diving as well as wreck dives. A total of 365 dive sites covering all experience levels. Incredible visibility and beach quality, too. Accommodations from economy to luxury. A few all-inclusive options, but most hotels & resorts with no or limited meal plans.
- Bonaire – if you are an advanced diver and are going with a dive buddy, this is a great choice. Located in the Caribbean and part of the ABC Islands (south, close to Venezuela). Simple two and three star accommodations along with a pickup truck rental and you are good to go. Many DIY beach dives for the independent-minded.
- Belize – Famous for Ambergris Cay and the Great Blue Hole. Dive options more suited for the intermediate and advanced diver. Try “Shark Ray Alley” for a highlight of your trip. Fly into Belize City, with regional flight service to San Pedro. Accommodations range from simple, 2 stars to upscale. Nothing here is all-inclusive.
- Galapagos – for the true dive enthusiast, a Galapagos live onboard dive ship experience to see whales, sharks, and other marine wildlife. Strong currents in the area means you should be a good swimmer and advanced diver.
- Fiji – dive a little, dive a lot. Fiji is gorgeous above the water as well as below. This destination is perfect for honeymooners and families. Those in the travel party who are not divers can find plenty to keep them content back at the resort. Dive opportunities for all levels. Accommodations range from 3 star moderate to 5 star luxury. Meal plans available.
- Australia – Great Barrier Reef is the ultimate in diving experience. Allow a minimum of 2 weeks to enjoy your diving, plus add some land sightseeing to round out your stay. Live onboard ships or dive-centric resorts. Accommodations range from 2 star economy to 5 star luxury.
- Rangiroa, French Polynesia – this atoll island is known for their huge lagoon teeming with tropical fish and clear waters. The most awesome experience here, though is “shooting the pass.” Ride the tide at Tiputa or Avatoru Pass, and see rays, reef sharks, tuna, barracuda, and maybe even hammerhead sharks. You can experience this either by diving or by snorkeling. Stay at Kia Ora Resort, which is upscale to luxury. Breakfast & dinner meal plan included.
Happy travels! Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel (located in Frisco/The Colony in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, Texas). Contact at 972-625-6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great news! AMResorts (Secrets, Dreams, Now, and Zoetry) and Palace Resorts now offer Indian destination weddings at their all-inclusive resorts, located in the Cancun/Riviera Maya in Mexico. Onsite wedding staff are onhand to make sure your wedding fits your exact wishes perfectly. AMResorts and Palace Resorts continue to offer symbolic, religious, interfaith, and legal wedding ceremonies as well as vow renewals.
Expert Family Travel can arrange your destination wedding in your choice of several locations, whether you are a party of 2 or a group of 1,000. We can coordinate your guests’ flights and travel dates smoothly and professionally, making your dream wedding a reality. Contact us today to get things started. Expert Family Travel is located in Frisco/The Colony Texas in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. We have clients located across the US and Canada. Contact us at 972-625-6200 or email at email@example.com
Last month I had the great fortune of enjoying a trip to Puerto Vallarta hosted by Travel Weekly magazine and Mexico Tourism. Honestly, it has been a couple of years for me, and in the past I had been so busy with hotel site inspections I hadn’t had time to fully experience the destinations’ local offerings.
But on this trip I was in for a treat. The first day we were whisked away to Las Caletas Beach Hideaway, which included a 45 minute scenic catamaran ride en route. The beach here is gorgeous and unspoiled, and you can pick your pleasure, whether it is snorkeling, exploring the jungle nature walks or just vegging out in a hammock. And the food was tasty, mmm!
We also enjoyed a late afternoon stroll along the city’s Malecon, which is a picturesque boardwalk among fun art sculptures and eclectic shops. This is a great place to watch a sunset, and the dining venues are sophisticated and varied.
On day 3 we explored the northern end of Banderas Bay, going into the quirky surfing village of Sayulita. I skipped the surfing lesson (because I value my life) and opted instead for the zipline, horseback riding, and ATV adventure. The zipline course was safe and expertly run (two important elements in any zipline operation) and we were all wet and muddy and exhilarated in the end. Fun!
December marks the start of the humpback whale watching season (which ends mid-March), and is a great experience if you happen to be traveling during this time period.
All-inclusive is the way to go here if you are looking for the best bang for the buck, even if you decide to dine downtown on one of your evenings out. Luxury clients will love the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit and the adults-only Secrets Vallarta Bay, both of which are all-inclusive. Or, for true luxury there’s the Four Seasons and St. Regis in trendy Punta Mita (meals not included). For my upscale clients, Now Larimar is all-inclusive, family friendly, and with easy access to the downtown area. Or, in the Riviera Nayarit area there are the Riu and Marival Resorts. And, the brand new Iberostar Playa Mita opens this week, promising to be a great resort option for those looking to stay on the northern edge of Banderas Bay.
Secrets Vallarta Bay
Something new in the area (since I’ve been there) are casinos. I didn’t visit, but I’m curious to hear reports, since Mexico has traditionally been a “no casino” sort of country.
Flights are offered to Puerto Vallarta year round. For my Dallas area clients, we have charter service in the summer season, which equals the best pricing out of our market.
No wonder Cancun and Playa del Carmen have become Texas’ favorite beach destinations. A nonstop flight less than 3 hours will wisk you away to a tropical location set on the Caribbean. The all-inclusive resorts here range from economy to luxury but for a honeymoon you’ll want to stick with the upscale and luxury resorts. Resorts also range from small & boutique to large and sprawling to fit your travel style and preferences.
What is an all-inclusive resort? Your meals, alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, onsite entertainment, and non-motorized watersports are included in your stay. And with most upscale-luxury and luxury resorts 24 hour room service and beach butlers are included as well. Airport transfers are provided in your package with Expert Family Travel, and offsite day activities can be arranged prior to your departure.
Many folks are overwhelmed at the choices, and information on the Internet is contradictory and causes more confusion. Your best bet is to work with a travel agent who knows these resorts first-hand, travels frequently to inspect the resorts, and can recommend the right resort to fit your personal taste and budget. Plus I don’t charge a fee (except for destination weddings).
Riviera Maya and Cancun are popular for friend or family group get-togethers. All-inclusive resorts provide meals and drinks for everyone during their stay and makes it easy planning. Flight options from most US airports into Cancun makes travel easy, too for multiple departure cities.
What is there to do in the area? Zip lines, swim with the dolphins, golfing, nightlife, shopping, scuba, snorkeling, and even camel back riding for starters! Enjoy some of your days at the resort, where your biggest decision that day is what tropical drink to order from the swim-up bar.
Happy travels! Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel (located in Frisco/The Colony in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, Texas). Contact at 972-625-6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month I thought I’d give you a nice, glossy overview of my top vacation destinations.
Dive Fiji for your next vacation
For the best bang for the buck, Mexico reigns supreme. You can opt for an all-inclusive resort, with your meals and drinks included. Great pools, beach, and onsite activities to keep you well entertained, along with off-site day excursions. On the go or relaxed, it’s your choice!
- Cancun – Hotel Zone is lively and active. This is a great choice for adult friend trips and for couples who love night life.
- Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen). A great mix of adult only and family friendly all-inclusives. And the range of moderate to luxury resorts means a resort that fits your style and budget.
- Los Cabos. Set on the tip of the Baja Peninsula on the Pacific side, where the desert meets the sea. Great for couples, families, and friend getaways.
- Puerto Vallarta. On beautiful Banderas Bay. Combine some resort time with exploring downtown and some excursions such as zip line and you’ve got yourself a great vacation.
A wide range of island experiences with gorgeous beaches and fun cultural explorations.
- Jamaica. Home of the popular all-inclusive Sandals, Couples, and Beaches Resorts. You’ll also find other all-inclusive resorts here as well as some boutique resorts.
- Punta Cana. This growing resort destination is located on Dominican Republic, and has become a primary player in the all-inclusive market. Family friendly and adults only options, in a wide range of style and budgets
- Other islands. Not everyone is looking for the mega resort. If you prefer a quiet, small resort maybe Barbados or Turks and Caicos is your style.
Okay, so who doesn’t have Bora Bora on their bucket list? This can be your once-in-a-lifetime milestone trip. I do have clients who make Tahiti a regular vacation destination. It is such a treat! Imagine an overwater bungalow with pristine blue waters. The epitome of relaxation. Suited best for couples, but families enjoy this destination too.
Beautiful. Exotic. Friendly. If you’ve got at least a week, Fiji might just be the fit for you. This is a great location for scuba and snorkeling.
I recommend a minimum stay of 5 nights in Hawaii, though 7 nights is better. Pick from Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island. Or, if you have more time for your vacation, a two island combination might work best for you. Polynesian paradise without the need for a passport. On Oahu you don’t need a rental car. On the other islands, renting a car is recommended, but driving on the islands is very easy and stress free. Hotels range from economy to luxury. And it is easy to explore on your own.
Walt Disney World (Orlando)
A “must see” for families, but Walt Disney World can also be a great vacation for adults. A few days in a Disney Deluxe Resort, top notch dining reservations, and some awesome park time can make for a fun, romantic getaway. I recommend staying in one of Disney’s Resorts, and these range from the Value to Moderate to Deluxe properties. Or, opt for a cabin for your family, complete with kitchens.
Trade in your flip flops for some good walking shoes for your next vacation to Europe. These vacations are divided into two categories:
- Escorted Tours. The easiest way to see your favorite country, or multiple countries. You are traveling in a group with a guide, and all the driving and planning is taken care of for you.
- Independent Tours. For the free spirited who prefer to go on their own. We can put together a single city package, a rail package, or a self drive — all depending on your itinerary and personal preferences
Recent resort growth in Costa Rica has been in the all-inclusive market, along the Guanacaste area on the Pacific coast. There are now several moderate, upscale, and luxury options for families and couples. Or, if you prefer a more adventurous itinerary, we can set up a multiple itinerary tour (either with a group or independent) for some volcano, rainforest, and beach time.
We offer cruises in many regions across the globe in categories from moderate to luxury. Cruising can offer an easy itinerary option if you want to see multiple countries without having to move from hotel room to hotel room. Plus the ship is sometimes a destination in itself. Cruising is also a great option for family reunions and large friend groups.