Tag Archives: travel

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: Cozumel

Just off the Riviera Maya coast line is the charming island of Cozumel.  Ever since Jacques Cousteau filmed from the coral reefs near Cozumel in 1961, this island has been best known for world class diving opportunities on the Playacar Reef which is part of the Meso-American reef system.  Most resorts have dive shops onsite, and many are PADI 5-star certified.  Diving is typically not included in your resort package, but prices are reasonable.  For those not certified, abbreviated resort dive courses are available as well as full certification and advanced diver courses.

 

Secrets Aura Cozumel (adults only)

 

If you aren’t looking to scuba dive, the snorkeling is great.  In other words, you don’t have to don an air tank and weight belt to be able to enjoy the beauty of the coral reefs.  Most resorts have snorkeling right off the beaches.  Or, sign up for a catamaran snorkel sail.  This is great for couples as well as families (with the kids being good swimmers).

 

The beaches here don’t have the wide sandy ribbon like you find in Cancun.  Resort beaches range between narrow sandy to downright rocky (with a few exceptions, like Secrets Aura Cozumel).  However, since the island’s resort side faces back to the mainland, the tide at your resort beach will be gentle.

 

Cozumel Palace Resort

 

My favorite resorts in Cozumel by “travel style” are:

  • Grand Occidental Cozumel – for families and small groups looking for a quiet beach getaway.  This is an easy going 4 star all-inclusive, and prices well (good “bang for the buck.”)
  • Iberostar Cozumel – the best pick for divers who are looking for 3 1/2 to 4 star accommodations.  The resort is very close to the reef, on the southern end of the island.  Diving is at additional cost.  The diveshop (Dressel Divers) is very well run
  • Cozumel Palace – for those divers who are looking a bit nicer accommodations, this resort has a great dive shop and is a 4 1/2 star all-inclusive.  There is no sandy beach here, but just steps that go into the water.  Snorkeling is excellen
  • Explorean Cozumel – this is a new adults-only resort that includes sports and activities.  This is a great choice for the couple or small friends group looking for a little soft adventure. The resort itself has a quiet, boutique feel to it.  Access to beach at sister property next door (Fiesta Americana Cozumel).
  • Secrets Aura Cozumel – for the adult couple looking for a romantic escape.  This is a small 4+ star all-inclusive resort with lots of charm.  Plus, the beach here is gorgeous.

Flights from the US to Cozumel operate year-round out of the following cities, with connections possible from your departure airport:

  • DFW Dallas
  • Houston
  • Miami
  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Denver

​​Additionally, there are seasonal (December – April) nonstop flights to Cozumel from Chicago and Minneapolis-St Paul.

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**

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.

LeMeridien Bora Bora – pack your bags!

LeMeridien Bora Bora is a wonderful, 4 1/2 to 5 star resort set on a motu island and facing back to Mount Otemanu and Bora Bora’s famous lagoon.  This resort is best known for their sea turtles onsite (you can swim with them).   This resort recently (late 2010/early 2011) had underwent renovations.

LeMeridien Resort Bora Bora Video

Well, thank you Thomas Reynoird, Groups Manager at LeMeridien Bora Bora, for sharing the latest resort video.  It’s only 3 minutes long, but it certainly imparts a huge WOW factor — including the new interior of the bungalows, grand sweeping views of the resort, and great shots of real people (employees and guests).  I am left with a feeling like I just returned to the LeMeridien!  If you are considering this resort, you MUST watch this video.

And certainly, ask for a quote for your travel dates and I will be happy to put a quote together for you.  Bora Bora is located in Tahiti (French Polynesia), and is about 8 hours’ flight from LAX.  Bora Bora is an exceptional island experience on its own, and can pair well with another island for a 2 island itinerary for your honeymoon or anniversary.

~Happy travels!  Cindy Grant, CTA, travel consultant at Reconnect Travel & Expert Family Travel.  Located in the Dallas metro area (Plano, Little Elm, Frisco, Fort Worth, Texas area) with clients across the US.  972-625-6200
cindy@expertfamilytravel.com

Travel – it’s a mindset!

My 12 year old daughter and I are headed to Japan this summer.  While we are there, we’ll be visiting my 20 year old daughter who is studying in Kyoto for a year.  This is, by the way, my older daughter’s fourth trip to Japan.

Yesterday, the little one announces “this will be my first trip to Japan!”  Not my only trip, or my only chance…but first trip.

I was reminded of a client recently who said, “this trip to Tahiti we’ll focus on Bora Bora.  Next time we want to visit Taha’a and Moorea.”

And herein lies the difference between my clients who manage to travel and see the world and my potential clients who shop from time to time and yet never manage to take a trip.  It’s all a matter of mindset!  In order to travel, you need to make it a priority.  Otherwise, a jet plane will not whisk you away as you feign protest.  It’s all up to YOU to make the decision that you want to see the world, to relax on a beach (instead of the living room couch), to cross things off your bucket list.

So, where’s your next vacation taking you?

Happy Travels ~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant, Reconnect Travel/Expert Family Travel, DFW metro area 972-625-6200.

 

 

 

British Virgin Islands: where to stay

The British Virgin Islands has long been a favorite destination for the luxury yacht and barefoot sailboat crowds.  But where to stay?

  • Bitter End Yacht Club — a 4 star upscale resort that caters to couples and families. The marina here can dock 18 yachts, and sailing is a favorite activity here.
  • Brisas Creek Resort – a luxury resort on Virgin Gorda that’s perfect for a romantic getaway.  Member of Relais & Chateaux, 31 suites.
  • Scrub Island Resort — this luxury 5 star resort will become part of the Marriott Resorts family in 2012 (part of their Autograph Collection).  Resort offers 67 rooms and villas, and a marina with 60 slips.  Very boat-oriented!
  • Long Bay Beach Club — the best option if you’d like to stay on Tortola.  Upscale/4 star, and family/couple-friendly.
British Virgin Islands appeals to dive and snorkel enthusiasts and beach lovers too — it’s not just for the boat bunch.
Happy Travels! ~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant, ReconnectTravel.com 972-625-6200

When to travel where…

Europe:

  • Price/Seasonality:  High season goes from June to mid September, when trans-Atlantic air is at a premium.  Low season is during the winter.  Mid season is fall and winter.
  • Weather:  Weather is best from mid Spring to mid Fall.
  • Best time to travel:  Mid September to mid-October is best in terms of pricing and weather.
Hawaii:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season is June thru April, then Christmas/New Years Weeks, and the two weeks around Easter.  The remainder of the year is Mid season.  Hawaii has no true Low season.
  • Weather:  Gorgeous year round.
  • Best time to travel:  Any time in the fall to mid December and late Spring (after Easter).
Tahiti:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season is June thru October, and then Christmas/New Years Weeks.  The remainder of the year is Mid season, with no true Low season.
  • Weather:  Rainy season is December thru February.  Weather is lovely year round.  Because they are in the South Pacific, our winter is their summer and is slightly warmer than the other half of the year (we’re not talking a big temperature difference).
  • Best time to travel:  November, then March thru May.
Caribbean and Mexico:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season kicks off for Christmas holidays and continues thru Winter Break, Spring Break, and Easter.  The remainder of the year is Mid season.
  • Weather:  While year ’round tropical weather is in order, hurricane season is from June thru October.
  • Best time to travel:  May and November will give you the best prices out of hurricane season.  Hurricanes can happen on the Pacific coast of Mexico, too.
Walt Disney World/Orlando:
  • Price/seasonality:  Any time schools are out, attendance is up at the Disney Parks.  High season is during Spring Break thru Easter, Memorial Day to Labor Day (summer break), and Thanksgiving.  Peak season is over Christmas/New Years weeks.
  • Weather:  Summer is hot.  Spring and Fall is glorious.  Winter can be mild to downright cold.
  • Best time to travel:  September, October, and May.

Irene damage results in resort closures

Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort, located in Nassau Bahamas will reopen Sep 28.  This is an adults only, couples only luxury resort with its own private island.

Breezes Bahamas Resort, located in Nassau Bahamas will reopen Nov 1.  This is an adults only moderate all-inclusive resort that is ideal for singles traveling together or a couple looking for an economical, all-inclusive getaway.

Beaches Turks and Caicos, located in Turks/Caicos will reopen Oct 6.  This is a resort for families, couples, and singles, is all-inclusive, and has an exceptional diving and snorkeling program.

Sandals Great Exuma Bay Resort survived Irene with no damage, and continues to be open (with some great recent upgrades to their restaurants and additional suites, I might add!)  This is a luxury, adults-only couples-only all-inclusive resort.  All accommodations are suites with butler service, with excellent diving and water sports available.

Winter paradise in trendy St. Moritz, Switzerland

Picture-perfect Alpian wonderland St. Moritz has long been a favorite winter destination for the well-heeled. This Swiss resort town offers sun, snow, and clear blue skies, luxury resorts, fine dining, and a wide array of winter sports to keep you busy. And there’s also a stylish casino located in the Kempinski Grand Hotel.

There’s no shortage of winter activities in St. Moritz. Chose from skiing, cross country skiing, ski and snowboard schoools, the Olympic Bob Run, Curling Center, Cresta Run, horseback riding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, an indoor pool, sledging, paragliding, hang-gliding, and golf.

St. Moritz has five luxury hotels, all of which offer exceptional service, accommodations, and scenery:

  • Badrutt’s Palace Hotel
  • Carlton Hotel
  • Kempinski Grand Hotel des Baines
  • Kulm Hotel
  • Suvretta House

There are also four star upscale and three star moderate hotels available.

To get to St. Moritz from the US, fly in to Zurich or Milan and take a train in to St. Moritz. Or, if you’d like a multiple destination itinerary consider taking one of the Swiss scenic trains that services St. Moritz. Glacier Express goes from St. Moritz to Zermatt (and reverse), while Bernina Express goes from Chur through St. Moritz to Lugano (and reverse). Scenic trains require advance reservations.

~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant ReconnectTravel.com 972-625-6200