Things are happening in the travel industry that you need to be aware of.
Starting on January 26 The CDC's new mandate is applying to all international travelers entering or returning to America.
Travelers will need to show the airlines the document that shows that they have been tested negative for Covid-19.
Here is the text from the CDC guidelines:
“Before departure to the United States, a required test, combined with the CDC recommendations to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for 7 days post-travel, will help slow the spread of COVID-19 within US communities from travel-related infections. Pre-departure testing with results known and acted upon before travel begins will help identify infected travelers before they board airplanes.
Air passengers are required to get a viral test (a test for current infection) within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19. Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board. If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.”
What these means to you:
· Antigen tests or PCR tests are approved. The antigen is less costly, and the results are ready approximately in 24 hrs. The PCR test results take approximately 3 days to provide results. This varies by country and laboratories.
· If you are traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean Islands to an all-inclusive property you are pretty much covered. Most of the well-known resorts’ brands like Sandals, Am Resorts, Couples Resort, Playa Resorts, etc. are offering a complimentary Antigen test.
· Some hotels allow you to schedule your test through their concierge before you departed from the USA, others schedule your test when you do your check-in at the hotel.
· You will take your test in Mexico and most of the Caribbean Islands from the comfort of your hotel and it will take few minutes of your time so you can enjoy your vacation.
· All destinations are working right now in ways to help you take this test with ease at the comfort of your hotel.
· The test after your return to America and the quarantine requirements are so far suggestions but not mandatory. The travel industry is working on eliminate this on your behalf.
As a travel advisor, I receive countless emails from different hotel chains in the Caribbean and I have been to many of their properties, but the chain that blew me away was Sandals and Beaches properties and that is why I have chosen to become a Certified Sandals Specialist.
I like to work with properties that deliver what they promise and that excel in their service to my clients.
What I love the most is that they have brought the all-inclusive concept to islands like Grenada, Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia; islands that are out of the beaten path offering an array of unique experiences.
Sandals Resorts even went a step further when they brought the over the water bungalows to their properties in Jamaica and St. Lucia. Now you don’t need to fly extra hours to Tahiti to have an experience like that!
When you are planning your destination wedding you want a place that satisfies your dreams but will also wow your friends and family that will join you.
You want them to feel that their effort to come to your wedding is appreciated and that you took them into account when you choose your property and the destination. At Sandals and Beaches Resorts they won’t be disappointed! They are the leading company in romance and luxury vacations!
I have been in their properties back in February 2019 and I can’t wait to take my family there!
I love the fact that they have a wedding department, yes as all the other hotels do, but the difference is that you don’t have to buy a package already created, you design your package, you select all the details of your wedding and customize it in any way that you want, you make it unique as you are!
Their team is experienced, and they offer a FREE WEDDING when you book your stay of a minimum of 3 nights or longer; this saves you money and you no longer need a wedding planner!
All their destination wedding packages include:
Did you know that you can test-drive your wedding? Yes! you can go to the resort that you have chosen at a minimum price starting at $250 per night per couple for a maximum of 3 nights, try the food that you plan to serve, and choose your wedding location. The best part is that your expenses will be credited back to you if you book 5 or more rooms for your wedding.
My favorite Sandals in Jamaica is Sandals South Coast which has been newly renovated and added Rondoval Swim-up suites. The Dutch Villa has received a facelift and is looking prettier than ever!
They have so many restaurants that a 7 night’s stay won’t be enough to try them all. The quality of the food they serve is above and beyond what a regular all-inclusive hotel offers, they will wow your senses from the way they present the dishes to the aromas and flavors!
Sushi on the Sand is one of my favorite stops, right there on the beach, you can be in your swimsuit eating there, super casual!
For a more sophisticated place and romantic night, my favorite is Bayside restaurant very close to the shore, you can enjoy the colors of the ocean and beautiful sunsets while you are dining, they serve French cuisine!
To close the night head to Latitudes Bar located on a pier in the middle of the ocean!
There are plenty of areas through all their properties that are great for couples to spend time by themselves, either in the ocean, in the gardens, or on the shores.
Of course, in times of Covid-19, they have Protocols of cleanliness, 18 touch points and social distancing measures that guarantee a safe stay for you and your guests.
When you start planning your destination wedding, I will love to assist you, let’s talk to see if we are a good match!
My father turned 80 years old last October and we celebrated at a villa rental in Costa Rica.
The big benefits that we loved from the villa rental were the following:
Thanks to our concierge we visited places like:
Depending on the date of your trip, the hour of your visit and your luck you will see wildlife, we went around 11 am and saw monkeys and blue crabs.
The entrance to the park for adults and kids was $16.
Our chef recommended a beach that is not well known but where he likes to take his children, it was 5 minutes ride from the villa, Biesanz Beach where we enjoyed kayaking.
Be careful when you practice kayaking on this beach, the waves can be high and rough.
For us it was our first time doing it, so we have some funny stories to tell about falling from the kayak when the waves hit us. I do not recommend doing it on a day when the ocean is rough like we did.
We tried a local restaurant on our own, Mira Olas Restaurant located at The Malecon in Quepos city. The food had the taste of being prepared homemade, super delicious, great service, and a lovely view of the ocean.
Quepos Farmers Market takes place every Friday night and is a good place to buy good coffee, fresh produce, and yummy bread.
To celebrate my dad’s birthday, Luis, the chef helped us buying the cake and preparing our father's favorite meal that is grilled pork with potatoes, corn, and grilled veggies!
We sang, danced, and celebrated all night long. It was the best trip ever for each one of us!
If you would like to go to this villa for your special celebration, just let me know!
Definitely Coronavirus is impacting our lives in many ways.
We are learning to be more proactive in taking care of our health and that includes:
We have to be aware that our actions affect others and that is in our hands to prevent spreading this virus. Let’s become a responsible citizens.
As a travel advisor I had to deal with clients feeling afraid to travel, clients looking into their trip insurance policies and clients canceling their trips.
Rest assure that my first concern is your well-being and health. I am closely monitoring all the development on regards of this virus. I will never recommend you travel to a destination that is not safe to you and your family. I will be the very first one on suggesting you to change your itinerary, reschedule your trip or cancel it.
I work with trusted tour operators that has the same vision and care for my customers and many of them are changing their cancellation policies to accommodate the traveler's needs.
Sandals for example has introduced a year-long no- penalty policy for valued guests that decide to revise a booking due to concerns related to COVID-19 (for 12 months from the original date of travel.)
Don't rely on what the media is portraying; there is too much sensationalism and media hype instead of true facts.
There are two places where you can find trustworthy information about the virus and one of them is the CDC and WHO . They update their information day by day so is your best source to keep yourself informed and to make decisions base in real facts.
Do not let this pandemic disease stop you from living your life in full. Be cautious and follow the recommendations of The CDC but keep up with your normal life as much as you can.
I have to start saying that I am normally a quiet and reserved person who doesn’t like to talk about her experiences in public.
My passion is to help people in different ways, as a travel agent I love to help couples with their honeymoon or destination wedding, and families crafting unforgettable vacations. In my personal life I like to help others with their spiritual life.
I know that you just got engaged and are super excited about it, the butterflies in your stomach each time you see him, how time flies when you are together and how hard it is to say goodbye every night until you see him again. We all have been there!
But building a life together is a different thing, there will be days that you won’t even feel like talking to him, times when you both will be mad at each other, arguments, frustrations, disappointments will come. How will you deal with it?
Let me tell you my story!
I came from Peru 16 years ago and met the guy that is now my husband on September 5th 2004. We met at La Madeleine, he was this super cute 6ft 2” tall guy with lovely eyes that blew me away with his very courteous manners. We met at 2.00 pm and spent the rest of the afternoon strolling the mall and later walking at White Rock Lake.
I felt secure with him even though i just met him, I saw kindness in his eyes and a trustworthy man so when he asked me to go for a walk to the lake I didn’t think twice and got in his car. Not smart at all, I would not recommend anyone to do it.
From that day till now many things have happened in our lives. He texted me the next morning at 7:00 am just to wish me to have a lovely day. The following days we explored Dallas together, shared dinners and weeks later we were dating, months later we were living together and got married on October 21, 2005.
I met him when I was 37 years old, thinking that my life will be my career, husband and children were not in my plans, if anything I just wanted to have some company, nothing formal, just someone to go out and have a good time. But you see, God had very different plans for my life!
The first year of our marriage was idyllic even when we discovered how different we are, like black and white colors, completely opposites! To that we had to add our cultural differences, he is white all American guy and I am Peruvian with all my Hispanic heritage!
Our only child was born in May of 2009 and we were ready for him, we looked for him and it was the biggest accomplishment of our marriage. We were complete, we were a family!
But I have to say that many struggles arrived with my son, the lack of sleep on his side and mine, different expectations on how to take care of the baby send us a bill and we were struggling as a couple. I grew in resentment toward him because he didn’t meet what I was expecting from him as a husband and dad.
Years passed, we were together but there was something missing that I couldn’t tell what it was. In 2011 I visited the Lutheran Church where I live because a friend invited me to go with her and since then I have changed churches until I found home in Lakeshore Church.
The piece that was missing in my life, in my marriage was Jesus, the day I surrendered my life to Him was the happiest day I ever lived!
I understood my role as a wife and as a mother, I learned that we are all just people and we will have expectations that no one can meet, because we are imperfect; just humans and the only one that can help us to live our life in our full potential is God.
We can’t expect or even try to change our husband, believe me, I have tried and failed! Instead we have to change ourselves, and Jesus is that power that transforms the broken pieces of our life into a beautiful painting.
Allow him to change you inside out, make Him the very first guest of your wedding, you will see how many blessings He will pour on you both and how much wisdom you will have to do what is right in your marriage and in every aspect of your life.
I am not anymore the selfish, prideful woman that he married, I learned to honor my husband in all I do, to respect him no matter what, and to support his decisions even if I don’t understand or agree with them.
This year we celebrate 15 years of marriage and of course like everyone else we will face trials, but we are united, we both know that we are on this ride till the end of our life and that with God on our side, nothing will break us apart!
As a travel agent I have seen many couples planning their Destination Wedding or Honeymoon only to find out that few years later they split. That is extremely sad! Don’t become and statistic, fight for your marriage, but fight with the right tool, invite God to your battles and I can assure you that He will win them for you!
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” Eclesiastes 4:12
"4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Many couples today that are looking into Destination Weddings have to choose between a legal or civil wedding at the destination versus a symbolic wedding.
Legal or Civil wedding:
Is a wedding ceremony that is performed by a government official and is recognized by the government.
In Texas, United States you have to obtain a License to get married and to do it you and your love one just need to go to your city Courthouse and request the forms to get married. This license is valid for 90 days.
When you are in front of the clerk you need to provide:
The following people are authorized to conduct your Texas wedding ceremony:
All your officiant will need to do is fill out his portion of your marriage license.
In fact, you can get married right there at the Courthouse where you are filling out documents to obtain your license and leave the place already legally married, all in one day!
Is a ceremony where two people in love exchange vows, exchange rings and have the proper wedding with an officiant but it doesn’t have any legal benefits for the couple.
Many couples choose to get married in their origin country and do their symbolic ceremony at a Destination Wedding just to avoid all the legal requirements that each country has. In Mexico for example the weddings have to be performed in Spanish and translated by the hotel personnel and requires blood test and many more requisites that makes more complicated something that is so simple here at the United States
My advice to you, don’t waste time and money doing a legal wedding in the destination of your preference, do your legal marriage license in your origin country and just do your symbolic wedding at the destination, it will save you a lot of time and headaches!
Reference: The Knot Magazine
You finally have chosen your dream hotel and destination and now you need to choose the best option for you and your friends, let’s take a look!
Flexible group benefits:
Contracted group benefits:
When you are planning a wedding the best way to secure and lock the price for you and your guests is Contracted group; this gives you a flexible payment plan and secures the rooms for all your guests.
When you choose flexible group, you do not lock the price, and do not secure the room inventory that your group needs. This means that if uncle Julio waits until 2 months before your wedding to book his room, is very likely that he will end up paying a higher rate and have the risk that the room category that he is looking for is not available.
From experience I say that weddings have a lot to win booking contracted groups!
Reference: VaxVacations Groups
I visited Costa Rica to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday with my family from Peru and Germany.
It was my first time in the destination and my first time in a private villa with a chef!
As a travel agent I am used to going to all- inclusive hotels whenever there is one available, but this time my brothers preferred a villa instead of a hotel to just spend time together with no strangers around.
When you take your group to a villa, the experience is super intimate, there are no shows, no restaurant options, bar tenders, etc; but on the other hand this experience will let you deepen the bond with the people traveling with you.
In our case the villa came with a chef , Luis Arias that pampered us in many ways and with three cleaning girls: Tatiana, Cherys and Mayra. They kept the villa impeccable and even did our laundry!
Our concierge was fabulous, Ruddy Munoz Abarca, he did all the arrangements for our excursions and transfers.
We stayed in Quepos,which is located 2.5 hours from San Jose airport, if there is traffic it will take you at least 3 hours to arrive there.
The area is super nice and safe, you can go out walking to restaurants and bars. The beach is not easily accessed by walking,it is better to take a taxi or the local bus to go there, the closest beach to our villa was Biesanz Beach but is rocky on the left side so make sure that you just swim on the right side.
On this beach you can also do kayaking and snorkeling.
The food in Costa Rica is awesome, we enjoyed Gallo Pinto, fresh fruit, cheese, and avocado in our first breakfast and our chef prepared Caribbean Chicken on our last day that was spectacular! We ate grilled meats, fish, Costa Rica style ceviche and all the food was super yummy!
We enjoyed days on different beaches: Espadilla, Manuel Antonio and Biesanz. Each one is completely different.
Espadilla is a big beach where kids can run the waves in boggie boards, the waves are strong and even good for surfers.
Manuel Antonio was my favorite because is small, intimate and has white sand. Lovely for young children because it has no waves.
Biesanz beach is where you can do snorkeling and kayaking but the beach itself is rocky, you can get in the water to swim only on the right side but still have to wear swim shoes because of the small rocks.
The locals suggested that we go to Campesinos Eco Lodge instead of Rainmaker because we didn’t want my dad to walk long trails. The place was espectacular, just a short walk to the hanging bridge and another short walk to the waterfalls where you can swim.
For families with kids and elderly parents is highly recommended!
If you are in Manuel Antonio National Park area, visiting this park is a must! To see the wild animals it is better to go very early in the morning or at night with a guide, they know where to find them.
I enjoyed so much the diversity of flowers, the monkeys chasing us and the thousands of blue crabs!
Friday nights they have a small farm trade show in downtown, there you can buy specialty coffee, bread.
We just tried one restaurant that has a lovely location on the oceanfront , is called Mira Olas. Located in Central Avenue, just to the left of the name “Quepos” that is shown on the boardwalk that goes around the beach. The food was superb and we pay $13 dollars for 2 meals with natural passion fruit juice. The meal was a choice of meat: chicken, pork or fish, rice and black beans.
Costa Ricans also known as “Ticos” are extremely warm, happy and caring people, they do everything they can to make you feel welcome and they will go the extra mile to make sure that your stay in their country is enjoyable!
As my friends there say, “ Hasta la vista, PURA VIDA!!
If you want to look beautiful in your wedding day, you have to take care of the beauty of the dress, but most importantly is that the dress fits you very well. Your wedding dress should enhance your beauty and be according to your complexion and your personality.
Your ideal wedding dress has to feel beautiful and unique. There are a lot of weddings attires from princess dresses to trouser suits. There are also combinations with hats, veils, feathers, headdresses, and shoes, and each element adds up.
To help you to chose correctly, we give you some tips:
The goal is to create a hourglass figure.
When your body is shaped as pear or diamond, you need to enhance your shoulders with necklines like buttonhole collars also known as boat neck, drop shoulders and asymmetric lines. These kind of necklines are good for brides with a small breast too.
The Queen Anne neckline enhances shoulders too, but requires a long neck and stylized face.
Bodies shaped as rectangle have to enhance both the shoulders and the lower body to create the hourglass figure.
In the other hand, inverted triangle bodies should use V necklines; it can stylize the upper body and it is fine for big brides and for brides with short or wide neck.
A round neckline is good for this as well, especially if the bride has a big bust. Additionally, there is the heart neckline which should be worn with a wide skirt.
In same way, skirts must help creating an hourglass figure as well. Brides with hourglass bodies can wear skirts with the following cuts: mermaid, trumpet or straight, but brides with pear and diamond bodies should wear a straight or A cut that have to be loose on hips.
Brides with triangle and inverted rectangle shaped bodies should wear A cuts or pleated skirts to delineate their waist and give volume to their hips.
Take these tips and look radiant in your wedding day.!
Book Colour Me Beautiful, 1984 by Carole Jackson
La Costa Verde´s Beach Circuit
“La Costa Verde, as it is known popularly, has about 20 beaches that cover the capital districts of Miraflores, Chorrillos, Barranco, San Miguel, Magdalena Del Mar and San Isidro. Lima is one of the few capitals in the world with access to sea and beautiful cliffs, which are an important tourist attraction.
These beaches have activity all year, although it has a greater number of bathers during the summer months. In ”la costa verde” there are many recreational activities for tourist, such as: surfing, paragliding, soccer, volleyball, concert areas, restaurants, social clubs, as well as areas for fishing.
The beaches of the South Asia Boulevard
The Asia Boulevard is the most exclusive one of Lima. This complex has branches of the most important businesses in Lima, such as restaurants, bars, lounges, nightclubs, department stores, cinemas, supermarkets, hairdressers, shoe stores, jewelry, decoration and fashion, but the beaches have rough surf, so you need to be cautious.
Here on the picture is Cantuarias Beach.
A postcard cove. This beach has thick white sand, and it’s surrounded by restaurants and nightclubs. It’s located a little over half an hour away from the capital.
It’s similar to El Silencio beach. This beach has a semicircular coast with a calm sea and thick white sand.
It’s ideal for surfers! The surfer community knows it as Pico Alto. It is located at Km 40 of the Highway called Panamericana Sur.
This beach is modern and its residences fill the seascape with color. The beach is curved and long and its sea is rough. It is at Km 40 of the Panamericana Sur
Punta Hermosa Beach
This beach is traditional, and has several pleasant beaches, with mostly soft waves. Punta Rocas stands out with its beaches being ideal for surfers. On this beach a surfing championship takes place annually and usually ends in a youth music concert.
San Bartolo Beach
It's the biggest beach in the south of Lima. It's beaches are perfect to practice sports, such as: fishing, surfboarding and sea kayaking. On December 8th, the Immaculate Conception festival is celebrated here. It is located at Km 51 of Panamericana Sur
Here a picture of the sunset on this beach.
Santa Maria Beach
It is an exclusive family beach. It has luxurious residences and modern apartments. There are beaches like El Cangrejito and Embajadores, nice and small quiet beaches shaped like a half moon. You can also find here the Yacht Club and the Club La Esmeralda.
Although, we must recognize that the most famous beaches of Lima are undoubtedly in south of city, we can not fail to mention one of the most emblematic beaches of Lima;Ancon, which has historical value and tourist potential. Few decades ago this beautiful beach was considered one of the most exclusive in South America. One can not fail to mention its historical value for all Peruvians, because it was where the famous treaty of Ancón was signed, which put end to the bloody war of the nineteenth century between Chile, Peru and Bolivia. If we go further back, we see that in pre-Columbian times different cultures have converged here, one of the most outstanding is the Chancay culture. So when you visit Ancón you must visit its museum. This area has several beaches with a calm sea as well as some with many waves.
Santa Rosa Beach
This is the most exclusive beach in Northern Lima. It has beautiful summer residences and restaurants that are full during summer season; the beaches are generally calm.
Author Rossana Jeri
Bilingual English -Spanish Travel Agent