For Travel Arrangements:

Reconnect Travel
Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant
Expert Family Travel
972-625-6200

Located in the DFW Metro Area, serving clients from the US and Canada

Welcome to my blog! I am a travel consultant, and specialize in creating the perfect dream vacation for empty nest couples who want a second honeymoon to reconnect with each other.

I offer tailor-made luxury and upscale vacation arrangements to the following destinations:
• Tahiti
• Fiji
• Hawaii
• Caribbean
• Mexico
• Costa Rica
• Bahamas
• Florida
• Western Europe
• Luxury and World Cruises

Contact me at 972-625-6200 or by email at cindy@expertfamilytravel.com for an appointment to create YOUR dream vacation.

Happy travels! ~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant

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A warm welcome to you

  • 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?

 

Testimonial

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

 

Announcing new all-inclusive plan for Bora Bora

Exciting news, Le Meridien Bora Bora will be offering a new all-inclusive plan in 2015!  This is great for the honeymoon couple who would like to have as much of their trip prepaid as possible.

LeMeridienBOB-water

Prices for 5 nights begin at around $4889 per person for mid-April through May.  Anticipate higher prices for summer travel.  Package includes:

  • Roundtrip air from Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui
  • Roundtrip interisland air on Air Tahiti
  • 5 nights Le Meridien Bora Bora, Overwater Bungalow Lagoon  View
  • Roundtrip boat transfer from the airport with flower lei greeting
  • Non-alcoholic cocktail and fresh towel upon check-in
  • Meals and beverages
    • Three meals daily (buffet breakfast, 2-course lunch and 3-course dinner or buffet)*
    • Drinks at the bar all day:  cocktails, beer, soft drinks, water*
    • Beverages with lunch and dinner:  one bottle of wine, soft drinks and water
    • Minibar:  6 drinks in the minibar (2 colas/2 waters/2 beers) on the first day and one refill every day afterwards
  • A 30-minute couple’s massage
  • Complimentary Internet access throughout the resort
  • A 30-minute sailing course
  • Exclusive free snorkeling experience with the biologist in the turtle area

We can, of course, add flights from your departure airport to Los Angeles roundtrip, and additional nights or additional islands to fit your taste.  Contact me at 972-625-6200 or cindy@expertfamilytravel.com to get a quote for your upcoming trip.

Living luxury in Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos are located in the Caribbean, just southeast of the Bahamas.  These islands are characterized by relatively high living standards, the US dollar, friendly English-speaking locals, clean water, and have a low crime rate.  The beaches here have some of the prettiest, powdery white sand you’ll ever see.  The waters are crystal clear and blue, and Grace Bay has calm waters that makes for great snorkeling.  Turks have some of the best diving opportunities, with extensive coral reef and also a 7,000 foot wall drop off.

The downside is that nothing here is cheap.  Food is flown in from Miami, and is about twice what you’d expect to pay.  Resorts are priced better in the low season which runs from May through mid December.    

Beaches Turks & Caicos

The only upscale all-inclusive resort on the island, and definitely the nicest of all the Beaches Resorts (the others are located in Jamaica), Beaches Turks & Caicos (located on Grace Bay) continues to delight families.  There are four villages in all, and the most popular among my family clients is the Italian Village featuring spacious family suites and a great pool.  For families with older kids, Key West Village is more laid back and quiet.  The water park is a hit with the kiddos, and the Kids Club takes babies.  Food here is very good for an all-inclusive, and diving is exceptional.

For those traveling without the kids, the best promotions are after Labor Day but before Christmas Break, except for Thanksgiving Week.

Amanyara Resorts

Worlds away from Grace Bay, this uber-luxury resort is a destination on its own.  Accommodations are located in bungalow-style “pavillions” and are set on picturesque ponds, oceanside, or have private gardens with their own plunge pools.

The service levels and food quality are about as good as it gets and will exceed your expectations.  The spa is fantastic.  Overall, the property has a very zen-yoga vibe to it.  Families are welcome, but it’s a pretty low key property and more suited to adults.

Regent Palms Turks & Caicos Resort

A luxury, full service condo-style resort set on Grace Bay.  The property is plantation-elegant without being pretentious.  The spa is considered the best in the Caribbean.  A great honeymoon/anniversary location or a luxury spa retreat. Junior Suites are gardenview; suites are 1-3 bedrooms and are oceanfront.

 

Grace Bay Club

“The” luxury resort in Provo, made famous among the jetsetters.  All suites are oceanfront, and nothing is less than 600 square feet.  Gorgeous beach, great food, luxuriously appointed rooms.  A great choice for couples, families, and small groups.

Gansevoort Resort

Trendy South Beach style upscale resort for the young at heart.  Perfect for a romantic extended weekend or for a girlfriends getaway.  Important to note is that the bathrooms are a little “less than modest” (open to the bedroom area and with glass enclosures) so I wouldn’t recommend for families.  Hip but not overly energetic.

Somerset Resort

A boutique style, luxury condo property with units ranging from 1 to 5 bedrooms. This is a great choice for the extended family that’s thinking of renting a beach-house.

Get your Group Going

Are you thinking about having your next family reunion at a beautiful tropical beach setting?  Maybe want to round up your circle of friends for an extended weekend getaway?  Or maybe you have a Happy Hour group that’s long been talking about heading to Italy together.  This is the best time of the year to put together your group for Summer and Fall 2015.  

Beaches Turks/Caicos for your family reunion or dive group

 

Here are some suggestions for your next group trip:

  • All-inclusive resort (Mexico or the Caribbean)
  • Escorted tour of Europe, Australia, or Asia
  • Luxury spa/golf/fishing resort (Caribbean, Tahiti, Mexico)
  • River cruises (Europe and Asia)
  • Soft adventure trip (Costa Rica, Machu Pichu, skiing, diving)
  • Walt Disney World Orlando for family reunions

To plan a group trip, decide among the participants who shall be Group Leader and then discuss travel dates, headcount, destination (or type of trip), any special needs to consider, and budget.  Then call me and we can discuss your options in detail.  Since groups take a bit more coordination, effort, and availability you will want to allow more time for planning than you would an ordinary (individual) trip.

Escape to Europe this Fall

Cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower pricing (especially on the flights) makes Fall a great time to visit Europe.  Here are some itinerary and travel style suggestions

Italy – independent or guided

Italy enjoys mild autumns, and the attraction lines are definitely shorter compared to July and August.

  • If you are looking to visit Rome, Florence and Venice these are easy to tour independently, together with high speed train reservations to connect the dots.  Visit all three, or focus on just one or two depending on time and budget
  • Want to cover more ground, or enjoy the convenience of a guided tour?  We have several escorted tour options that range from short and sweet to extended and thorough and from 3 star budget-conscious to 5 star luxury.

Spain – independent or guided

Spain also has relatively mild fall weather, though Madrid can get pretty chilly starting in November.  Madrid and Barcelona combine well for those independent travelers (using high speed train to connect).  But for the most part to see Spain in depth I recommend an escorted tour and between 1 1/2 to 2 weeks for travel.  And for those with 2+ weeks to spare, Spain Portugal and neighboring Morocco makes for a fun fall itinerary! Definitely add this to your bucket list.

Switzerland – trains and Alps

Hurray for Swiss efficiency.  My favorite way to experience Switzerland is with a train itinerary and maybe 3 key destinations to give you a little city and a little mountain countryside.  Switzerland’s fall is a little nippier than Italy and Spain, but still beautiful and surprisingly sunny in some spots!  Pack a sweater and some hiking shoes, and you’re good to go.  My favorite destination in Switzerland?  Lucerne.

 

Ireland – self drive independence

 

Ireland’s weather is unpredictable but rarely extreme, so for the most part you’ll get relatively mild temperatures in the fall.  The favorite way to tour Ireland is with a self drive itinerary.  For the adventurous, the B&B voucher plan allows for freedom with your schedule, though most clients prefer pre-reserved hotels on their itinerary.  Or, the easiest way to go is by escorted tour, and we have several shorter itineraries as well as longer in depth Ireland and UK-panoramic itineraries.

Whether you are looking to travel with a guided group, or travel independently I am more than happy to find something to fit you perfectly.  Just give me a call (or drop me an email) and we will get your travel plans well underway!

(photos:  courtesy Globus Journeys).

~Happy Travels! Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel.  Located in the Dallas Fort Worth metro area (Texas) Near Frisco, Plano, Little Elm, and The Colony.  972-625-6200.

Ixtapa: Authentic Mexican Flare

 

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 new in Jamaica

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.

A South Pacific Primer

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 cindy@expertfamilytravel.com

 

Let’s go to Costa Rica!

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 cindy@expertfamilytravel.com

The basics on Hawaii

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.

If scuba is on your bucket list…

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 cindy@expertfamilytravel.com.