- 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
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.
Perfectly Punta Cana
I just returned from a short trip to Punta Cana to visit the AMResorts (Secrets, Dreams, Now, Zoetry). I’m happy to report that Punta Cana’s better than ever, and is a great destination to consider for your next family vacation, romantic getaway, or family reunion trip.
Secrets Royal Beach is wonderful, as always. This adults only property sits on gorgeous Bavaro Beach, and next to sister property Now Larimar. Recent updates include an expansion of their Preferred Club Rooms. Secrets Royal Beach guests continue to enjoy exchange priviledges next door at Now Larimar (though Now Larimar guests do NOT have exchange priviledges at Secrets).
Zoetry Aqua Resort is expanding their room capacity, roughly doubling to about 100 guest suites. This property is so serene and inviting — a true haven for those looking for luxury and a relaxing escape. I can’t wait to come back with some of my own free time.
Opening in November 2013 is the brand new Breathless Resort. This adults only property is geared towards adult friends and adult family traveling together, along with honeymoon and anniversary couples who might prefer a bit livelier adults only setting. Stay tuned for more information on this property. And it’s available now for advance reservations, if you just can’t wait yourself!
Dreams Punta Cana, Dreams Palm Beach, and Dreams La Romanna continue to excel in offering all-inclusive vacations for families, couples, and small groups. Kids and Teens Clubs looked to be popular on my visits, and smiles abound on the faces of staff and guests alike.
Last but not least, Now Larimar was fun and vibrant, with great food and delightful evening entertainment. Now Larimar is a wonderful choice for small groups, weddings, and families with teens.
For my Texas clients, Dallas has direct flights to Punta Cana, but in the summer season only!
Stumped with a decision for your next extended family reunion? Maybe you’ve hosted at your house in the past, but the family has grown and you’re just out of extra bedroom and couch space? Or, you’re looking for something that is going to keep everyone (grandma, grown kids, little ones) happy?
A popular and growing solution is the all-inclusive resort gathering in Mexico or the Caribbean. An all-inclusive resort makes things so much easier. Food and drinks are covered, there are lots of ways to stay busy at the resort, and there are optional excursions for the more adventurous in the group.
This is especially good for extended families spread across the US. Everyone can arrive on flights from their departure cities, meeting at the resort for time to spend together. The toughest part, then, is deciding upfront the best travel dates and a budget that works for all.
If you are the family coordinator, here is how you get started in the process for planning your all-inclusive resort family gathering:
- Talk with each family to get a consensus on travel dates. If one party has limited time, they can always join the group for a portion of the stay (say, the first 3 nights), while everyone else enjoys a longer stay (say, 5 to 7 nights).
- Get an honest assessment of budget. Make sure everyone participating has given their input on budget — the lowest budget will generally determine the budget of the group as a whole.
- Get a headcount of family, by departure city, along with ages of children at time of travel.
- Does everyone have passports, or will be able to get passports in time for travel?
- Are their any limited mobility issues in your family? If so, a smaller resort might be a better fit.
- Discuss destinations. Playa del Carmen (south of Cancun) is a favorite, along with Jamaica and Punta Cana. Some of the other Caribbean islands can be a bit tricky to coordinate flight schedules, but it doesn’t mean they are impossible to coordinate.
- With this information, contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 972-625-6200. I can then put together package ideas to work with your family’s travel requirements.
- Review the options with your family members to pick your favorite resort option.
- Each “head of family” would then contact me directly with final details and to process payment.
- It’s that easy!
~Happy travels! Cindy Grant, Expert Family Travel. 972-625-6200. Located in The Colony/Frisco Texas in the Dallas metro area. We are located near Plano, Little Elm, Lewisville, and Irving.
On a remote island in the South Pacific’s Tuamotu Archipelago sits a gem of a resort, the Hotel Kia Ora. This island – Rangiroa – is a coral-sand strand of pearls that makes up the largest lagoon in the South Pacific. Rangiroa is known by diving enthusiasts, but is otherwise still a well kept secret for most American tourists.
This resort enjoyed a complete facelift in 2011, knocking this property up to the level of a luxury resort. General Manager Jerry Garcia brings charm and laid-back sophistication to this pleasant retreat. He has expert knowledge of what it takes to keep American and European tourists happy in the middle of nowhere. It is no fluke that the fruit and seafood are remarkably fresh, the activity board is filled with interesting excursions, and the resort grounds are pristine.
From the deck of your beach bungalow the surf is just steps away, and a hammock strewn between two palm trees beckoned for a midday nap. Tahitian neighbors border both sides of the property, and lazy entertainment could be had watching the locals in their fishing boats.
Hotel Kia Ora is recommended for divers and for beach lovers who are looking for the ultimate in South Pacific getaways. Families are welcome, but anticipate there being no kids’ clubs or lively diversions for your little ones. Clientele consists of seasoned travelers and a healthy return client base. This is an excellent choice for anniversary and honeymoon couples, as well as the executive who needs to sink his feet in the sand for a few days to recharge batteries. Bring along a good book or two and prepare to relax.
The 60 accommodation units include beach and garden bungalows, overwater bungalows, beach and garden bungalow suites, and deluxe beach bungalows.
For divers and snorkelers, Tiputa Pass offers a pass/drift dive toward the ocean with a variety of fish, eels, turtles, and sharks. Other diving and snorkeling opportunities abound, and the Hotel Kia Ora has reasonably priced off-site activities available during the course of your stay.
Dive center offers PADI instruction. Spa onsite. Snorkel gear and canoes are available for use.
If you ARE looking to cut yourself off from civilization, then you may want to consider as well the remote sister property, the Kia Ora Sauvage. Just ask GM Garcia about the Sauvage and his eyes will twinkle as he tells of the special magic of this place. The Sauvage is an hour’s boat ride from the Kia Ora, and has only 5 bungalows. The property has no electricity, and guests are given lanterns in the evening. While the Polynesian style accommodations are rustic and not luxurious, guests are still pampered in their own right. Delicious meals are prepared by the hotel staff, and there are activities planned to keep guests busy if they so desire. Bungalows have private bathrooms with heated water (hurray!). Plan on at least two nights at the Sauvage, though it is not uncommon for guests to stay a week or longer. The Kia Ora Sauvage and Hotel Kia Ora combine well for a varied itinerary.
To reach Rangiroa, you will need to first fly into Papeete, on the island of Tahiti. From there, you will take an interisland flight. Because of the flight schedules, anticipate that your itinerary may require a minimum of one night in Papeete upon arrival, and possibly one night returning. You can also combine Rangiroa with other Tahitian islands such as Moorea or Bora Bora.
To put your Tahiti package together, contact Cindy Grant, Tahiti Specialist, at Expert Family Travel. 972-625-6200.
It was 1983, the summer before my junior year in high school, and I was participating in an exchange program in Germany. It was my first taste of real travel, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
It was also my first taste of Nutella. The German kids were eating Nutella spread on toast as a breakfast staple, and I was soon seriously addicted. When I came back from my exciting summer in Germany, I had lively stories of biking in the Black Forest, riding the train to get to school, meeting some interesting and amazing people, and of course enjoying this delightful chocolate spread that I couldn’t seem to find at any specialty store in the US.
Yesterday, on a weekend in 2013, I ran into the corner Dollar General for a couple of things. Lo and behold, they were selling Nutella. Right there sandwiched between the peanut butter and jelly! You see, it’s taken 30 years, but Nutella’s become the American kid addiction today like it was in Germany when I was there so long ago. It’s been in the grocery stores and even Walmart for a few years, but it’s now sitting on the shelf in a basic-items store like Dollar General. Amazing.
This calorie-laden jar, though, reminds me not of satisfying a sweet tooth (we’ll take that as a given). It reminds me instead of exploring and discovering a world for myself. Of experiences and sights, smells and tastes that make each trip unique. It reminds me of a passion for travel that, once caught is very hard to shake. And also, that the world is changing. In 1983 Germany was the land of division (remember Berlin Wall) and of such mysterious concoctions as gummi bears and Nutella.
It reminds me that kids are not really too young to travel. And adults are definitely not too old. We are shaped by our journeys, and our world is as large as we allow it. I’m a travel consultant because, really, the end result is a very wonderful and exciting thing. Happy travels!
Cindy Grant, Expert Family Travel/Reconnect Travel located in the Dallas Texas area near Frisco, Little Elm, Irving, Plano, Carrollton, Fort Worth. Contact 972-625-6200
February is Romance Month, with Valentine’s Day sitting prominently in the middle! of the calendar! This year, consider planning a special vow renewal vacation for you and your spouse. Make the trip for just the two of you, or extend the love by inviting friends and family.
My favorite locations for vow renewals are
- Bora Bora (Tahiti) at Bora Bora Pearl Resort or Hilton Bora Bora Nui
- Riviera Maya at the Dreams, Now, Secrets, and El Dorado Resorts
- Cabo at Secrets Marquis and Riu Palace Resorts
- Jamaica at one of the four Couples Resorts
- Moorea (Tahiti) at the Moorea Pearl Resort
- Maui at one of the gorgeous beach locations
- Cancun at the vibrant, luxurious Live Aqua Cancun Resort
If you are interested in planning your own vow renewal vacation, or even have plans in the near future for your own destination wedding, just let me know and we can look at the options that will best fit you.
Happy travels! Cindy Grant, CTA Expert Family Travel. Located in The Colony/Frisco Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth metro area) 972.625.6200
Christmas and New Years are behind us, the decorations are put away. Now what the next two or three months will be is cold weather, bleak skies, and slippery walkways.
So, no wonder mid January through mid March is the time to escape the cold weather and head to the tropics. If you are entertaining the idea of getting away for a week (or even a weekend), here are some suggestions:
-Cancun Mexico — offering all-inclusive resorts in the moderate to luxury range. This destination is more suited for adults, but there are still some family friendly options in the Hotel Zone for all price points. If you haven’t been to Cancun in the last decade, the biggest changes are the addition of some top-of-the-line luxury resorts.
-Riviera Maya Mexico — still reigns my favorite destination in terms of the quality of the resorts and the best “bang for the buck” in the upscale and luxury all-inclusive market. There are resorts here that range the size ranges (from tiny boutique to huge mega-campus). Plus, you can’t beat the flight times from the US.
-US Virgin Islands — a great tropical choice if you don’t have time time or energy to get your passports before heading south. Resorts here range from 3 to 5 stars, mostly without meal plans. Anticipate needing one connection with your flights each way, so a longer (4 nights or more) stay is best suited.
-Disney Cruise Lines — now with four ships instead of two, your options are double! Winter itineraries depart from Port Canaveral (Orlando), Miami, and Galveston (Texas). If you can travel during a week that schools are normally in session, pricing is pretty good. Spring Break and Easter dates are pretty full (and pricey).
-Tahiti — this is actually Tahiti’s low season and their summer. So if Bora Bora is on your bucket list, maybe this is the year you get to go! If you are looking to travel within the next 3 months, having some flexibility on travel dates, island, and resort will help (since space does book up early, especially with the overwater bungalows in the 5 star resorts). This is an ideal second honeymoon suggestion.
-Hawaii — A little bit of luau, plumeria in the air, and beachfront walks can do wonders to alleviate the winter doldrums. Maui is a great “first visit” choice, but you’ll need to rent a car. If you want to avoid driving, Oahu is your best option. Kauai is a little more adventurous (and by that, I mean more outdoorsy stuff to do). Big Island is where you get to see the active volcano. Stick to one island, unless you have at least 8 days to vacation.
Cabo, Mexico — Cabo is quite popular in the winter. The weather is milder (in the summer, it can get hot), and this is the season for whale watching. Cabo is also known for golfing and nightlife. New on the scene are some great 4 and 5 star all-inclusive resorts. I’m personally staying at the Secrets Marquis Los Cabos later this month — I can’t wait! A great choice for adults wanting a little luxury and to replenishment, and there are also some great family friendly choices.
US Virgin Islands
Now, these are just a few suggestions. There are many others…in the Caribbean, South Pacific, Central America…so just ask!
I just returned from a short stay at the 3 ½ star all-inclusive Ocean Coral and Turquesa Resort, located in Riviera Maya (south of Cancun airport). I’m happy to report that this resort is a great choice for my clients who are looking for an inexpensive vacation option that is friendly on the budget.
Beach at Ocean Coral and Turquesa Resort
With a renovation of the rooms, this resort could easily become a 4 star upscale property. However, the rooms currently are a bit “rough around the edges.” While the rooms are very large (think: junior suite with a sitting area) and include a separate shower and tub, there are some 3 star quality annoyances you must be willing to forgive. The tile is a bit scruffy, the shower mechanics are lacking (and you might get the oscillating hot/cold water effect, so be quick on the feet), and the curtains are a bit “bolder” than you would select for your own homestead. On the plus side, there is a stocked mini-fridge, a safe, and a late-model flat screen with enough channels to find *something* to watch in English.
My room at the Ocean Turquesa Resort
What is really neat about this resort is that there’s always food and drink being served SOMEWHERE onsite. The poolside bar stays open ‘till late (I think 1 am), and then Route 66 (which is a hamburger joint) serves food and drink in the wee hours of the morning. Also, this isn’t one of those resorts that require you to stand in line in the morning to make dining reservations that night. The bartenders are friendly, and I love their coffee specialties. The waitstaff is a hit-or-miss, so in the restaurants expect average service.
The beach here is nice and wide, and gets raked in the morning for sea grass (which grows offshore). The pools are large and clean, and overall the energy at this resort is positive and refreshing.
The specialty steakhouse has way too many food items with surcharges , and free WiFi is located only in the lobby/main building area (and not in the rooms). However, this resort generally is priced so low, you can overlook the shortcomings.
If you are looking for an adults only escape from the world, where you are pampered and spoiled, and travel time is short and sweet, let me recommend Blue Diamond Riviera Maya, located just south of the Cancun airport in Mexico.
This 5 star luxury, all-inclusive resort treats guests to excellent food and drinks with unrivaled service levels not typically found in the all-inclusive market. There are 128 suites total spread out over 36 total acres, set along the coast in a tropical jungle, complete with a cenote and mangroves.
If you are looking for a party scene, this is NOT the place. Also, you’ll need to be in the mood for some walking (though you can call the front desk and they’ll send a golf cart to shuttle you around). There are also bicycles for your use to get around the resort, if you are so inclined.
The suites are simply stunning, with views of the cenote, jungle, mangroves, or beach. And the beach is worth the walk — white powdery sand, great service, and relatively private. No trip here is complete without a relaxing couples massage, and the spa (at additional cost) is a huge 25,000 square feet. Room service itself is free, but has a $20 service fee along with a waiter who sets up your en-suite dining table, and stands outside your suite ready to serve your next course at the ring of a bell. How often do you see that!
Prices here start at about $480 per night per couple all-inclusive, so it’s definitely in the luxury price category. However, considering the quality of the rooms, service, and food it’s definitely a treat well worth the price tag. For an escape from the crowds and to replenish the mind, this is my new favorite resort in the Riviera Maya area.
~Happy Travels! Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant, Expert Family Travel. 972.625.6200 DFW metro area (Texas) serving clients nationwide.
As they do every year, the humpbacks are back in Maui. These beautiful creatures make their way to the warm waters of Maui from mid October through the end of May for their mating and calving season.
Maui is a great place for you to enjoy a week or so over the winter months. Add a whale watching day excursion out of Lahaina (the ort city in Maui) for your chance to get up close and personal to these gentle giants.
In Maui, boats are allowed to come up to within 100 yards of the whales. And oftentimes the curious whales will approach the boats, getting even closer than the 100 yards. The peak of the whale season is in January, though you have a good chance of seeing them any time during the season.
And of course, Maui is a year-round tropical destination. So, if you head to Hawaii in winter, you’ll still be able to enjoy bathing-suit-friendly weather, sun, and gorgeous beaches! All I can say to that is ALOHA!
Interested in planning your next whale watching trip to Maui? Contact me by phone or email to get the planning process started.
~Happy travels, Cindy Grant Travel Consultant at Reconnect Travel/Expert Family Travel. 972.625.6200. Located in The Colony Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area (near Frisco, Plano, Carrollton, Lewisville). email@example.com