After more than a year without traveling abroad, I finally went on a vacation to Jamaica, to be precise to Beaches Ocho Rios.
This was a family vacation that my son waited so long for and we have to say that we enjoyed our time there even though there were some struggles.
Our flight going to Jamaica was delayed for more than 2 hours due to a tropical storm; another tropical storm that became a Hurricane in Cancun (Grace) hit the island in the middle of our vacation and our flight back home was delayed again and we lost our connecting flight.
Airlines are struggling like everybody else in the travel industry, we need to carry a gigantic dose of patience with ourselves because there will be hiccups no matter how well we have planned our trip.
Jamaica has very specific regulations for travelers, when you choose to travel there make sure that you understand and follow their requirements.
At the time that we traveled, August 2021, we had to be tested for Covid 72 hours before our trip, I admit that is nerve-racking because the best test would be the PCR test but due to the high raise in Covid cases is hard to receive the results in the next 72 hours.
Another test that is approved is the Antigen test but must be done at one of the approved labs, have the CLIA or ISO certification number and that can be tricky.
To avoid problems, I did the PCR test that always comes with the laboratory information and CLIA certification, my results turned around in 48 hours.
I have to say that you need to be prepared with extra doses of grace and kindness because things are not like they use to be before the pandemic.
Everywhere you look or go is understaffed and you might find long lines at airports. None if you are wise and purchase Club Mobay Vip Arrival and Departure. They will wait for you and take you to the fast-track line where a customs agent is waiting for you; in few minutes you are at your lounge or transportation to your hotel.
Beaches Ocho Rios is a nice small hotel with a lovely beach but it does need a facelift, several areas of the hotel look worn out and old; rooms are comfortable and have several activities for families with kids of all ages. The Sesame characters brought real smiles to my son that never cared for them before.
We sat one evening watching families dancing around the main pool in a silent party. The neon headphones were awesome!
During the day we enjoyed the beach and water activities that the resort offers, definitely we want to do a private snorkeling trip again, that was an unforgettable experience for both of us!
We will never forget Sonia who was the companion of our captain; she took pictures and videos for us while we were snorkeling. Our captain, sadly I can’t remember his name was super kind, brought drinks for us and took us on an island tour, showing is the fishing villas, the area where sea turtles are released, the place where one of the James Bond movies was filmed and more!
We went to two different places to snorkel, is sad that in both places the coral reefs are dying but we still got to see and experience the marine life! Is fascinating to be able to see anemones, colorful fish, urchins, corals, etc.! Our captain allowed us to touch female sea urchins, told us never to touch the black ones (males), captured for us a lobster, and the cherry on the top was that he allowed my son to drive the boat on the way back to the resort!
I am a foodie and I love good food and like to try local dishes. In the past I never had any dish at Sandals or Beaches properties that I didn’t love; this time the food was not at the same level of variety and not as flavorful as before the pandemic, but I could notice that they were struggling with a lack of personnel.
We tried the Italian restaurant called The Venetian and I was not impressed, to me the food was just okay and my son that is a pizza lover was not happy with their pizza either. The ambiance is super romantic with candle lights, and I love the area where you can get different types of bread, cheeses, olives, prosciutto, and similar. The service was good!
La Parisienne is a small restaurant, you need to go there really early, at 5 pm to get you a table or make a reservation in the morning hours with your concierge. I enjoyed the Ragout aux champignons, an appetizer with wild mushrooms, garlic cream, and puff pastry that was tasty and looked great! We had to wait for our food for at least one hour, but we could see that they were very busy and with just two servers that were completely overwhelmed so we decided to enjoy our drinks and the nice ambiance while we waited instead of complaining, sometimes we need to show grace to people, understand that we are in the middle of a pandemic and everybody is doing the best that they can.
What we did to keep us safe and not catch the covid-19
We avoid crowds whenever was possible.
At the airport, we stay away 6 feet from the person in front of us while making the TSA lines, sat down at the empty area before boarding our plane, paid for the Club Mobay VIP at our arrival and departure and we wear our N95 mask all the time from the moment we arrive at the airport to the moment we arrive at our room at the hotel.
We choose outdoor activities
We stay on the beach in the empty area or just one more family with us and keep a distance of at least 12 feet.
The water park was more crowded but we found an area in the shade where nobody else was and my son waited for the water slides to be empty before he use them.
We choose outdoor breakfast and lunch
We ate breakfast every day at Josephine’s Creperie, very few guests were there around 9 am
We ate lunch at Bar. B.Q where we tried the jerk chicken or at the Bayside restaurant that offered buffet lunch that was served by the staff only so guests didn’t touch utensils.
In all the restaurants they have a host that makes sure to give you hand sanitizer before you are seated.
Dinners were indoors but the hotel makes sure that occupancy was limited and there were more than 6 feet between tables, we feel safe eating indoors at night. We wore our masks all the time unless we were eating.
We constantly sanitize our hands
I had a hand sanitizer with me all the time and it gave me peace of mind that we disinfect our hands every time that we touched a high traffic area or before we eat anything
Build up our immunity
A month before our trip we started taking vitamins that promote immunity like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Elderberry.
We wore our masks all the time
No matter what outdoors or indoors we wore our masks when we were around a crowded area.
Is a different way of travel but the beauty of the destination and the time bonding with my son was priceless and completely worth it, it shows us that is possible to travel and be safe while you are doing it.
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!
My family reunion in Costa Rica 2019
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!!
Lomo saltado is a popular, traditional Peruvian dish, typically served with white rice. The dish originated as part of the "chifa" tradition, the Chinese cuisine of Peru, though its popularity has made it part of the culture. Like many others dishes in Peru, it is one of the favorite ways to mix cultures that influence Peruvian cuisine . As a Peruvian it is one of my favorite dishes and the best part is that I can prepare it here in the USA where I have lived since 2004.
Prep 30 m
Cook 20 m
Ready In 50 m
Peruvian Lomo Saltado
How to make Lomo Saltado
Summer is here and for me summer means beach! I grew up in Lima, Peru with gorgeous beaches 30 minutes from home. I have so many great memories about it and I thought that whenever you are planning your family getaway, your annual vacation or to celebrate a special milestone, you should check this lovely vacation home.
When you book this property, you are also helping others in need while you are vacationing. I just absolutely love that about this place!
Here come the comments made by Mary Liechty, owner of this property:
“We wanted to purchase a vacation home because we have been going to Siesta Key for more than 20 years. We decided that besides talking to a realtor we should also talk to a local rental agency. "What are the first things people ask you when they want to rent a home on Siesta Key?" "How far is it from the beach?" "How many bedrooms does it have?" "How much does it cost?"
After we heard what people most desire we decided to buy the biggest condo that was closest to the water. So our three bedroom, three bathroom condo meets all the requirements for what people look for on this often rated #1 beach in the United States. Then we decked it out with the most wonderful "coastal living" decor we could imagine. We even added some unique art projects to help the space pop. Crescent 502
Our condo community, The Crescent, is wonderfully small, but boasts two pools and a sleepy atmosphere to match the "Siesta" environment of Siesta Key. There is a little village on the north side of the island but even that is laid back and rarely gets too busy, except for a bit of night life. Sparkly clean beach, powder sugar white sand and an extremely lovely view make this a great location to either rent or own. Besides all the beach activities you might like to indulge in are the other fun Florida things that might entice you during your stay. Visit the everglades in an airboat, just a short drive away. Enjoy swimming with manatees. Go shopping on the famous St. Armand's Circle. Walk through the spectacular John & Mabel Ringling art museum and mansion, Ca'd'zan. You can even enjoy tons of great meals in the wonderful assortment of restaurants in the Sarasota area. Don't miss the Amish Restaurant called Yoder's. Their pies are to die for.
Owning a condo on the beach has some perks, I mean you can go to the beach whenever it isn't rented. You can take family and friends and enjoy a lovely shared time. It also has some responsibilities. Of course, there is upkeep, maintenance and you have to pay an agent or a leasing site if you want to rent it out. We decided that we would rent our condo and set it up to be a business from the beginning. We figured it would be great to have other people make our mortgage payment for us. However, one of the things we have had the most fun with is donating our condo to our favorite charity and watching people give more money to them than we could ever collect as rent. That is very satisfying.
If you wish to visit the beach check out Crescent 502. If you want to buy a vacation home find out where people want to be, and then buy that. It has been a fun and profitable investment for us”
This article was provided by Mary Liechty
If you are planning a family reunion or some special milestone celebration and are looking for the option of vacation home, my friend Mary Liechty, has a beautiful property for your family to enjoy!
This is what Mary has to say about it:
“We live in Texas. We know hot!
Therefore, years ago my husband and his brother bought a home together in the mountains so that we could escape. The brothers are very close and we both have good sized families. We wanted something that would hold everyone. Well, it did at least before all the kids started having our grandchildren. We decided that being a little outside the busy town atmosphere of Breckenridge suited us just right so our six-bedroom, seven-bathroom house is just south of town on the border with Blue River, Colorado. We love the view from the balcony overlooking the summit.
Right from the start we knew we wanted to rent our lovely home and set it up to be a business that we could also enjoy ourselves. We used a popular listing agency everyone has heard of. It has been quite successful. When you want to take a vacation, you expect to pay a certain amount of money for the rooms you will stay in. You also expect to go out to eat for every meal. When you rent a home, this is not the case. They are often the same price as your accommodations alone. You could shop and buy either limited food for a quick breakfast or even more to provide several meals and eat out less. It almost doesn't matter what you end up spending for your groceries - it is never as much as would be spent to go out to eat all those meals. Then there are the living areas, the media rooms, pool tables and maybe even some outside amenities like a hot tub or a pool. Not many hotels can let you spread out and relax like a house can.
The location for a vacation home is quite important and Breckenridge is a great town. It has so much to offer no matter what season of the year you want to go. In the winter, of course there is amazing skiing and snowboarding because Breck has a terrain park and one of the biggest ski areas around. You can also sled, snowmobile, dog sled and even do some ice-skating at the arena on the south side of town. In the summer a whole new list of things is available from hiking or mountain climbing (several 14ers are quite close to Breck), to white water rafting, mountain biking, or horseback riding. The town plans so many activities during the year - parades, international ice-sculpture, art shows, music festivals...the list could go on. The lovely Blue River runs right through the heart of Breckenridge and you are never out of sight of the majestic mountains that tower over everything.
Although there are multiplied thousands of homes available for rent in Breckenridge or other locations, you probably won't blame me if I shamelessly promote our lovely mountain home. You can visit 36 Wagon Road LLC anytime there is availability. You can see many lovely pictures of the inside of our home on this site and check the calendar to see if the dates your group would like are open. If you have been thinking about renting a vacation home I encourage you to take the plunge. Most of the owners are very nice folks and I'm sure your group will have a great time.”
Here is her Facebook page where you can contact her for more information
This article was provided by Mary Liechty from 36 Wagon Road LLC.
Planning Your Child’s Trip
As you prepare for the trip make sure to:
5 Car games for your family trip
This graphic is courtesy of Melisssa from Rockwall Dodge. You can find out more about their service at https://www.rockwalldodge.com
Based on the information provided to me by my host agency, KHM Travel Group and my experience booking my customers trips I will say:
Winter Months: From December 21 to March 19th 2018
If you don’t mind the cold weather this is the best time price wise to go to Europe and South America. In Europe it will be winter like here but in South America it is Summer and you can enjoy their beautiful beaches.
All the Caribbean will have great discounts during these months, some resorts offer 40%, 50% sometimes even more when running a promotion.
Best value weeks for winter travel:
Spring Months: From March 20th to June 20th 2018
During the Spring months you can still have a very good value for your investment since you will be travelling before the peak season, that time here in America is all summer.
Europe and South America start their peak season in these months, to take advantage of the extra perks and good prices, make sure you book your trip at least 6 months prior to your trip.
Cruises offer great promotions, so it is probably the best time to go on one.
During this Spring Break there will be many promotions for the Caribbean but to take advantage, look for them around November or December to get the best value for your investment.
Summer months: From June 21st to September 21st
This is the busiest time of the year for travel. Book your family vacation at the end of December no later than February to make sure that you take advantage of the early bird discounts, kids stay free promotions and so on.
Peak travel: All summer
Best value weeks:
Fall months: From September 22nd to December 21st
After the summer peak season, hotels will have wonderful discounts and extra perks during this time, for me in particular is the best time of the year to take vacations with your friends and loved ones.
Best value weeks
Hurricane season June 1- November 30
Peak Season Calendar in Travel Agent Portal. Khm Consulting Inc.
Tips traveling with children
I have experienced all the facets of traveling with children. I have traveled with my few months old baby, with a toddler, preschooler and with a school age kid. All of them are different, each requiring attention to detail to make sure that you have a good family vacation from the moment you start to the time you return.
Traveling with Babies: I would consider a baby from new born to 2 years old
Traveling with Toddlers: I would consider a toddler from 2 to 4 years old
Traveling with young kids: I would consider kids from 5 to 7 years old on this group.
Traveling with older kids: I would consider kids from 8 to 18 years old on this group.
Bilingual English -Spanish Travel Agent