Category Archives: Weddings and Honeymoons

Tahiti is For Romance

 

There’s no other place in this world that evokes the imagery and senses that Tahiti does. This is the land of Polynesian beauty, immortalized by Gauguin, and revised by Hollywood. Air perfumed by vanilla trees and tropical flowers, serene lagoons with crystalline water; this is paradise. Here is the perfect place to do everything or nothing at all.  All of the Tahitian islands beyond Papeete lend themselves to romance.

 

Romantic ideas to enhance your honeymoon or anniversary stay (extra charges apply/not available at all resorts):

  • Candlelight dinner for two on the beach
  • Breakfast for two delivered by canoe to your overwater bungalow
  • Traditional Polynesian ceremony to renew your vows beachside
  • Private motu island picnic for two
  • Helicopter panoramic tour of the island
  • Private dinner served on your overwater deck
  • Champagne en suite (1/2 or full bottle)
  • Massage for two at resort spa
  • Guided hike or jeep safari tour
  • Learn to dive together and get PADI certified

Overwater bungalows with their glass bottom floors are a favorite among honeymoon couples. Garden bungalows with private plunge pools offer seclusion as well. Mix and match with a multiple island itinerary.

 

Overwater Bungalows Close to Home

El Dorado Maroma Resort (Riviera Maya Mexico)
Looking for that overwater bungalow experience but are short on time?  El Dorado Maroma Resort, located in Riviera Maya just south of Cancun, offers Palafitos Overwater Bungalows in an adults only all-inclusive, luxury setting.  What a fun way to celebrate an anniversary or to relax over an extended weekend.  Prices start at around $1400/night for two adults (meals/drinks included, 3 night stay minimum).

It’s Tahiti Time!

 

Ah, my favorite destination of all…Tahiti.  Officially known as French Polynesia, this broad collection of South Pacific islands is about 2 hours due south of Hawaii.  With pristine, calm lagoons, beautiful views, ideal weather, gentle people, and tropical flowers perfuming the air this destination embodies the perfect beach destination.

 

If this is your one and only trip to Tahiti, I would recommend a combination itinerary of Moorea and Bora Bora, staying about a week.  Plus, you will either fly on a red-eye to get to Papeete the next morning (continuing on to Moorea) or you’ll need to stay one night in Papeete upon arrival.  If you have more time than a week, or if this is your second trip to Tahiti (lucky YOU!), I would recommend visiting one of the lesser known islands on your multi-island itinerary, such as Taha’a or Tikehau.

 

 

Tahiti is best known as a honeymoon haven; certainly, an overwater bungalow on a crystalline lagoon is romantic.  But Tahiti is also ideally suited for scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts.  And several resorts are family friendly.  Promotions can take the sting out of the price-points for a family traveling to Tahiti, but it will always be more expensive than destinations such as Mexico or Hawaii.

 

There are two negatives for Tahiti as a destination:  distance and budget.  The flight from LAX is about 8 hours, but is in the same time zone as Hawaii and doesn’t require that you cross the International Date Line.  There’s just no way around it:  Tahiti is relatively expensive for a vacation, especially when considering the “must do” accommodation — an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora.  There are a few ways to reign in the costs, and we can certainly talk about your options if you’d like to put together a Tahiti trip. Traveling in November, April, and May are better price-wise and some short-stay air promotions can make a vacation here affordable when budget is key.

 

I do recommend booking Tahiti 7-9 months in advance because flights and resorts fill up. Last minute packages are best booked with a bit of flexibility in terms of dates and resorts or room categories.

 

Our packages take the guesswork out of a Tahiti trip, and will include your flights, accommodations, breakfasts, interisland flights and transportation to the resort.  We can add travel insurance, dinner plans, and day excursions to fit your needs as well.

Destination Spotlight: Fiji

Dreaming of a Polynesian escape for your next vacation getaway?  Beautiful Fiji Islands in the South Pacific total more than 300 islands in a tropical, white sand paradise.  Coral reef diving and snorkeling are exceptional. Over 1,000 species of fish swim the grottoes and lagoons, and colorful birds and tropical flowers are everywhere.

 

Typical itineraries are for 2 islands for a 7 to 9 day visit, or 3 islands for a 10-14 day vacation.  Or, for a shorter stay maybe 1 island and 5-7 nights at destination.  Allow two additional nights for travel. Properties offered by Expert Family Travel range from 3 star moderate to 5 star luxury, and include family-friendy or adults only, from small boutique properties on remote islands to mid-sized resorts in Nadi on the main island.

 

 

From the US, you ‘ll fly through Los Angeles. There are also flights from Honolulu to Nadi three times a week.  This makes for a fun Hawaii-Fiji combo, but is not as cost effective as flights through LA.  Flights to Fiji are about 10 hours from LAX airport.  If you have plenty of time (say, 3 or 4 weeks), consider combining a Fiji stay with a tour of New Zealand or Australia (being 3 and 4 hours away, respectively).

 

Featured Specials to Fiji

 

Koro Sun Resort Package – from $2353 per person
Savusavu Island

7 nights – Garden View Bure – air from LAX

Includes roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles to Nadi on Fiji Airways, roundtrip airfare from Nadi to Savusavu on Fiji Airways operated by Fiji Link, 7 nights accommodations at the Koro Sun Resort & Rainforest Spa in an Garden view Bure, all meals, airport transfers and meet & greet with shell lei.

 

Travel dates 10/4/2015 to 11/30/2015 based on availability**

 

Qamea Resort and Spa – from $3393 per person

Taveuni Island

Fiji’s #1 resort (Trip Advisor)

7 nights – Beachfront Bure – air from LAX

Includes roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles to Nadi on Fiji Airways, roundtrip airfare from Nadi to Taveuni on Fiji Airways operated by Fiji Link, 7 nights accommodations at Qamea Resort & Spa in a Beachfront Bure, welcome arrival drink, continental breakfast from buffet, afternoon tea, tea & French press plunger coffee and juices at breakfast, daily maid and turndown service, sea canoeing/kayaking, snorkel gear, 3 x weekly scheduled guided snorkel trips, once a week scheduled village tour, Wednesday night Kava Ceremony, Friday night Meke, Sunday church services, Sunday hosted wine tasting, Qamea sports water bottle with free refills of Pure Qamea purified drinking water, and nightly entertainment, meet & greet with shell lei and all applicable transfers.

 

Travel dates 9/6/2015 to 11/30/2015 based on availability**

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.

~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.

Indian destination weddings now being offered

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 cindy@expertfamilytravel.com

Where to go next!

This month I thought I’d give you a nice, glossy overview of my top vacation destinations.

 

Dive Fiji for your next vacation

Mexico

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.​

Caribbean

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.

Tahiti

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.

Fiji

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.

 

Hawaii

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.

 

 

 

 

Western Europe

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

Costa Rica

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.

 

Cruises

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.

Trip to Punta Cana anyone?

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!

Resort Review: Hotel Kia Ora, French Polynesia (Tahiti)

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.

Month of Romance: Plan a special vow renewal trip with your spouse

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

 

 

Hotel Review: Blue Diamond Riviera Maya Resort (Mexico)

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.