Our travels and ideas for planning your next trip!

Sandals Wrap

Sandals and Beaches resorts are a class of their own!  Known worldwide for their 5 star resorts in the Caribbean and more quality inclusions than any other resorts on the planet!!   When Gordon “Butch” Stewart offered me the opportunity last December of having my car wrapped with Sandals and Beaches advertizing, I jumped at the chance.  Here I am with Mr. Stewart last December in Antigua.  (OK, so he offered the wrap to 160 other agents too and had his picture taken with them as well, but, hey, this is me and it is him.  I’m just getting to know more Sandals up close and friendly.)

   

I absolutely LOVE having my car wrapped!  Thought I would share the experience with you.  Here is my car in the garage last week in snowy Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  BEFORE…   Eric from Sir Graphic out of Spokane arrived early in the morning, before I even had my first cup of tea.  My husband, Gene, welcomed him to our warmed garage.  By the time, I got my first glimpse, one side of the car was already done.  Wow!

 

             

Isn’t it beautiful?  Doesn’t it just make you want to be there?  Give me a call or email and I will make it happen for you.  Let me take the stress of putting together your honeymoon, destination wedding or vacation.  Let me take the stress, you take the beach! 

Anne DelVecchio, Your Travel Consultant

(208) 964-3578    4anne@dreamalongtravel.com    www.dreamalongtravel.com   http://www.honeymoonsbyannemarie.com

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For a whole lot less dollars, experience the brilliant aqua marine water caressing silky white sand, Caribbean charm and the all-inclusive pampering of Sandals resorts at the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua.  These lesser known resorts, owned by Sandals, and located in both Jamaica and Antigua, are incredible gems for those folks willing to forgo the five-star Sandals or Beaches resort for a more colloquial, homey type of vacation. And I must say, guests at the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua were more than satisfied.  On my visit in December 2011 to six Sandals resorts, the Grand Pineapple Antigua was the only resort with “no vacancy”!  We met one woman who has been coming to the Grand Pineapple Antigua from Brittain for the month of December for twenty-five years!!

The two-story bungalow style resort is located on its own private little cove for carefree swimming and sun soaking.   Warm, friendly staff greet you with a cool scented towel and refreshing drink as you arrive.  What a “cool” touch.

Take a stroll through the lovely gardens, read a book from your bungalow porch, or sip a frosty drink under a shade tree…. My husband and I would choose this resort in a minute.  Families are welcome though children’s programs are limited.  Make your own family fun on the beach.

 

Weddings at the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua are complimentary with a seven night stay in an ocean view room or only $899 with a shorter stay.  This includes the flowers, cake, government fees and ceremony costs.  Select the garden gazebos for your wedding, then family at home can watch the ceremony on a web cam.  Isn’t that great! 

Or choose the hilltop gazebos overlooking the stunning blue waters.  There is a steep walk up to this sweet vista so be prepared.  

Of course, couples may wish to choose the beach for a wedding, after all it is the Caribbean.  Or maybe, just for relaxing on a beach chair.  This is a small resort and cove so expect company on the beach, especially during the sunshine hours.  Speaking of beach, non-motorized water sports are included. Doesn’t that water bike look fun?

 

See the hilltop gazebos up on the cliff!

Of course, sumptuous food is always a priority on vacation.  And though the dining rooms are more like a summer camp facility than a fine restaurant, the food is wonderful.  There are three restaurants, the pool side grill, the main dining room and the “Outhouse”.   

Hike up that promontory past the hilltop gazebos to discover the “Outhouse” and I promise you will not be sorry.  The ambiance is pure shack!  Grab a stick, write your thoughts or name and hammer it on.  A part of you will always remain in Antigua.  Spend a while savoring those lip smacking ribs and chicken while you are there.  

 

Two rooms became vacant while we were at the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua.  After staying at the luxury Sandals resorts, these rooms appeared basic, rather like a typical hotel.  Clean, charming and simple.  The pools are reminiscent of the 1960 era.  But hey, I’m here for the fun, sun, water and affordability.  Throw me in this folksy place anytime!

    

Scenic, friendly and serene…the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua is calling me.

If you want affordable, if you enjoy a smaller resort with a 1940’s feel, if less than perfect but funky, lovely, warm and friendly is fine with you perhaps the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua is calling you too.

See you on the beach,

                                            

Hello Anne,

I’ve been giving it some thought since we’ve been back from Jamaica about the entire experience and I have to say that the resort, Couples Sans Souci, was completely beyond expectations.  Overall we enjoyed every aspect of the resort that was offered, from the room service, daily stocked mini bar, cuisine, Dunn’s river, water sports, weather, everything.  The non-alcoholic smoothie station they have next to the mineral pool and workout room is out of this world.  The mango and strawberry-banana shake are so tongue tantalizing I sometimes forgot about the rest of the resort and even made special trips from my room just for the shakes. 

 

 

We had spent the first day getting a feel for the resort and planning our stay and roughly came up with a game plan of what we’d like to do the rest of the stay.  We were trying to get out as much of the Jamaican vibe as we could, trying to experience what Jamaica had to offer.  One particular day we were going to learn the soca dance and when we had shown up nobody was to be found, we waited a few minutes, then left.  We were next to the beach so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Other days there were activities that we had also wanted to participate in but had a conflict with other activities, then one thing led to another and we missed out on those.  So we didn’t get to do as much activities as we’d hoped.  So I guess in a nutshell for first time travelers traveling anywhere for the first time, it may be difficult to take in everything in that a place has to offer and the sooner you realize you can’t do everything, the more fun you’ll have doing whatever you’ve done.  You just have to plan to make another trip.     

One critique, if you can call it that, was an activity we did sign-up for giving them our room number.  We signed up three days in advance to go scuba diving.  Scuba was at 11 am but you had to go through a small course before at 845ish am.  We had fun the night before dancing and stayed up late.  We needed breakfast and time for it to digest so we order breakfast in bed early at 6 am.  December is one of the rainy months in Jamaica and sometimes makes for rougher seas.  So we go down to the water activities station only to find that the water activities for the day have been canceled.  Now the thing is, is that when it comes to scuba diving, is that you can predict the under water conditions from the weather the night before and the morning of.  And with their experience and expertise (resort scuba instructors)they knew before hand the scuba was going to be out of the question.  So making my point, with them having this knowledge and this being an activity that guests actually sign up for with a room number it would’ve been nice to been given a heads up instead of going through all the effort of waking up early, getting ready, and marching down there to find out its canceled.  They could’ve called and notified us since they had our information on hand.  That was a little irritating personally, maybe its just me.  So another activity we missed out on.  I know above I wrote we enjoyed the water sports and then you read this, but the following day the weather was perfect and we took full advantage, going sailing, snorkeling, and glass bottom boat ride.  So in the end the water activities were very eventful and worth it.  Surprisingly I didn’t expect the water to be as salty as it was.

    

There really is just so much that I could jot down about our experience but It’d just be easier for me to tell you verbally so if you have any questions at all I’d be happy to share more of our experience with you or other people thinking of couples or couples sans souci in particular.  Again, I’d definitely recommend Couples.  We spoke with a number of other guests from all over the country staying there and they say that the extra amenities that Couples offers, you’d have to pay extra at other resorts, yet the price for couples was comparable if not better.  And comparing Sans Souci to the other Couples, many said that the geographical location of Sans Souci compared to the others was the best and there favorite.

 

    

It was pretty easy to have the airlines change Ann’s name on the reservations.  I wonder if we could’ve booked the flight and all reservations with her married name even though the flight was booked before the wedding and we didn’t fly till after the wedding, to avoid any future delays.

    

It would’ve been best if we’d reconfirmed the swim with the dolphins before we left for Jamaica because there was a little difficulty in finding the reservations on their part and also once we arrived at Dolphin Cove at the front desk they could’nt find our rsvp for about 15 minutes.  Even though we had the confirmation papers from GoGo with the Swim with the Dolphins information.  That by the way was an awesome and forever memorable experience which we are completely happy with.  Also how often are you going to get the chance to partake in an event like that so we had to purchase the CD and DVD combo to share our experience.  That by the way was $110, fyi.  It was an unexpected purchase and took most of our souvenir money.

   

I don’t know exactly how to put it, but these are some things that I’d recommend or would find useful in future traveling by plane and visits to Jamaica.  I did my best to think about what we’d need along our travels but didn’t think of everything, I didn’t know what to expect.  I’d suggest even if you don’t use it, to have on hand: ear plugs – lets be honest, the screaming kid on even a two hour flight would get on just about anybodies nerves, or better yet an iPod or mp3 player if you have one.  It may not block out all the noise but it helps muffle at least.  Also an eye face mask to block out any light especially if you have to sleep in the airport entrance to catch the morning flight or while on the plane, some times the lights can be bright.  Snacks, snacks, snacks!  Who in there right mind will willingly pay $8 for a sandwhich that you make at home for $2 tops.  Wow, are those airport prices enormously expensive.  There are so many snacks you can bring from home that will save you a bundle.  Also we’ll definitely invest in that neck pillow, for some reason the plane ride can be pretty tiring and it would’ve been nice to have one.  Games, we brought regular cards and uno cards that kept us pretty entertained both on the plane and waiting for the next flight so time went by a little quicker.  Bring water shoes or aqua socks especially for Dunn’s River excursion.  You can rent them but who knows who’s feet have been in them and you only get one use out of them so its a waste of money.  Closed toes are the best, I had sandals, open toed, and continually had rocks in my sandal for the excursion.  Swim goggles are small and easy to carry and would’ve been nice to look under water while swimming around at the beach to see whats underwater.  Didn’t have any need for it but people recommended bug spray so we had some just in case.  If you don’t have one purchase your underwater camera here locally, rite aid has it for $9.  It cost $20 at the gift shop.  When traveling abroad or just in general have a pen to fill out the custom forms, otherwise you’ll be waiting to borrow one since the flight attendants don’t carry any.

Cash, i’d say a few hundred worth or depends on what you plan on doing.  I’d bring at least $20 in ones, $20 in fives, $40 in tens, and the rest in $20’s.  I was a little caught off guard with the tipping ettique and I’m not a big tipper anyway.  Though we didn’t have to worry about tipping at the resort, any excursions to and from, its customary to tip your driver or tour guide.  Just remember you worked hard for that money so don’t feel bad if you don’t tip big. 

There are so many vendors trying to sell you the same thing as the next vendor.  Everything is negotiable it seemed, so don’t be afraid to barter the price with them, your biggest weapon is walking away because the next vendor down probably has the same stuff and they want your money.  These Jamaican’s have been doing this a while and are good with working with your emotions and psychy making it hard to walk away sometimes, but you have to stand strong.  You can find great deals by bartering and shopping around, not hastly buying the first one you see.  Also with the smaller bills you have more le-way* when bartering.  Unlike here, the sale of liquor isn’t regulated by the government.  We purchased a few bottles marked at $28 each for $15 each.   A side note on the liquour too is that you can bring back 2 liters per person, which is equivalent to 3 fiths, to the states but keep in mind that you’ll have to check it at the airport, depending on the airport will cost you an additional $25 that wasn’t on your mind at the time.  Especially if you brought carry-ons to avoid those extra charges. Also, beware that some places charge tax between 8.5% to 18.5% so if you have cash you may avoid tax, depends on the place.  Using a credit card may also cost you an additional percentage by the credit card company for foreign transaction fees and by the shop for them processing it.  Cash is the best option in my opinion, don’t be flashy and use some common sense and have fun with it.  Also cash gives you a budget on how much your going to spend and once you’ve reached that limit then you know it.

Alright, I hope you find some useful information in what I’ve written.  If you have any other questions I’ll do my best to answer them.  I brought back a few brochures about activities if you’d like them for your collection too.  Well that’s enough for now so I hope you enjoyed the pictures and we’ll talk with you later.

Thanks,

Brent and Ann

P.S. The layover wasn’t that bad in North Carolina.  Ann brought a blanket and kept warm. Used sweatshirts as pillows.  For me the eye face mask would’ve been helpful though.  They kicked us out of the terminal so we had to sleep inside at the entrance of the airport. It was cozy though.  Would do it again to save money and add to the experience.

(Note from Anne: They elected to take a flight that gave them an overnight in North Carolina but did not get a hotel.)

Sandals Royal Bahamian

Hello Wanderer,

Today, I am posting my visit several weeks ago to the Sandals Royal Bahamian in the Bahamas on the island of Grand Bahama, near the town of Nassau.  This is a perfect location for couples, brides and honeymooners who would like a smaller, more intimate resorts.  It has a charming British ambiance, with tea served in the afternoon everyday.  Come with me on a tour of the Sandals Royal Bahamian.

       

Dreaming of a wedding, wouldn’t it be just perfect in this garden gazebo. 

To complete the English ambiance, a guard in the “tropical whites” iconic to the Bahamas, stands at attention.  Think the British have it hard, these guys are standing motionless in 80 something degree weather.

The Wine Bar has tasting lessons for those of us who enjoy a fine glass of wine.  Then we can amble on into one of the fine dining establishments to sup.

     A night cap in the pub and a bit of English style pool will do.

After and evening of fine food and drink, a good night’s sleep in Sandals premium beds, the butler will make our coffee and bring us breakfast.  Then imaging you and your honey wandering down to the pool for a quick dip, then off to the private island to laze away the day.

   

   

    Here I am with my travel agent friends partying on the island.  Take me back…

Cheers from Anne!

Sandals Emerald Bay

Last week I visited four Sandals resorts in the Caribbean with 160 other travel agents.  Four resorts on three different islands in four days.  Whew!  They treated us royally, fed us superbly and walked us until our feet ached.  I took lots of pictures so that you can get a view of these four resorts from an ordinary point of view (not a professional photographer).  Come stroll with me through the grounds of the first resort, Sandals Emerald Bay.

In case you have never been, let me acquaint you with Sandals.  These are couples only, luxury included resorts, which means all food, wine and licquor is included.  Sandals is the most well know, upscale resort in the Caribbean.  Butch Stewart, the owner of all Sandals resorts likes to say, “More inclusions than any resort on the planet.”  Each resort has its own personality and style.  I hope my notes will help you decide which Sandals of the four I visited suits your vacation dreams.

First stop, Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Personality: Quiet, Serene, Pristine Beauty, Isolated, A Place to soak in the sun, play in the silky sand, or just relax away from crowds and cities.

We were welcomed by a Junkanoo band, native to the Bahamas.  Cold fragrant towels and a bottle of water.

 

Then we wandered through the villas and bungalows, gazed at the blue sky and perfect white beaches.  The sand was so soft, white and wonderful, I brought a cup of it home with me.  It sits in a dish with shells so I can dabble my fingers in it and dream of the Caribbean.

 

   Doesn’t this look like a fun water toy…just ride it into the water.

Here is a view of a room decorated with a honeymoon welcome and a bungalow with an ocean front view.  Sandals offers butlers with some suites, complete with cell phones to call him/her at your whim.  “James, a fresh towel and a tequila sunrise by the pool, please.”

    This is the view out the bungalow window.

  Every Sandals resort comes with a Red Lane Spa.  Treatments are an extra cost, yet how wonderful to rejuvenate with a spa treatments.  Every detail is attended to.

For weddings, Sandals offers Martha Stewart packages.  Set up here is the “Natural” package.  Couples can be married in the gazebo or on the beach as well.

 

If total rest and relaxation in a serene location is calling you, grab your honey and fly to Sandals Emerald Bay.

Next stop, Antigua,

Anne

If Airlines Sold Paint

This is an amusing story I thought you might enjoy.  On Wednesday of this week for one day, I bought a flight for $65 that ususally costs $134.  It is wonderful when one can grab a deal like that but frustrating all of the rest of the time.  We are so used to it, we don’t even blink but look at it through renewed eyes.  What if it was paint?

If you were to buy paint from your local harware store the conversation might go something like this:
Customer:  “Hi, how much is your paint?”
Clerk: “We have regular quality for $23 a gallon and premium for $32.  How many gallons would you like?”
Customer: “Five gallons of regular quality, please.”
Clerk: “Great!  That will be $115 plus tax.”

However, if airlines were in the business of selling paint the conversation would go like this:
Customer: “Hi, how much is your paint?”
Clerk: “Well, sir, that all depends.”
Customer: “Depends on what?”
Clerk: “Actually, a lot of things.”
Customer: “How about giving me an average price?”
Clerk: “Wow, that’s too hard a question.  The lowest price is $9 a gallon and we have 150 different prices up to $200 a gallon.”
Customer: “What’s the difference in the paint?”
Clerk: “Oh, there isn’t any difference, it’s all the same paint.”
Customer: “Well, then, I’d like some of that $9 paint.”
Clerk: “Well, first I need to ask you a few
questions.  When do you intend to use it?”
Customer: “I want to paint tomorrow, on my day off.”
Clerk: “Sir, the paint for tomorrow is the $200 paint.”
Customer: “What?  When would I have to paint in order to get $9 paint?”
Clerk:  “That would be in three weeks, but you will also have to agree to start painting before Friday of that week and continue painting until at least Sunday.”
Customer: “You’ve got to be kidding!”
Clerk: “Sir, we don’t kid around here.  Of course, I’ll have to check to see if you are elegible to buy paint.”
Customer: “What, all I want to do is buy some paint!”
Clerk: “Sir, there is no point in getting upset; that is just the way it is. By the way the price just went up to $12.
Customer: “This is crazy!  I will just go somewhere else to buy paint.”
Clerk: “That won’t do you any good, sir.  The other paint stores have the same policies.  You might as well just buy it here while the price is $17.50.

Thank you for flying – I mean painting – with our airline!

It is your very special day — let Princess make it truly extraordinary!

Imagine you and your sweetheart holding hands while you affirm your love for one another aboard the original “Love Boat”.  Yes, Princess was the cruise line upon which the “Love Boat” TV series was filmed inspiring “Tie the Knot Wedding at Sea by Princess”.  Traditionally, ship captains were able to marry couples when in international waters.  Yet for more than 100 years, getting married upon the high seas had ceased to exist.  In 1998 Princess Cruise Line introduced their Weddings at Sea.  The very first year, 58 couples were married by Princess captains.  Since then more than 4000 couples have chosen this romantic option.

Three soul-uniting choices are available while cruising aboard Princess.

1) At Sea – Invite your guests to sail with you to extend the fun, then get married At Sea, in the chapel or on the deck.  The captain will marry you once you are in international waters.  82% of couples choose this option.

2) Harborside – Your friends and family may join you aboard ship the morning before you set sail for a Harborside Wedding or Vow Renewal by a local clergy, then you sail away blissfully alone for your honeymoon.  10% of couples choose this option.

3)  Ashore – Sail away to your dream destination, then get married ashore by a local clergy. Choose from ports of call in the USA, Canada, Mexico or Caribbean. All the arrangements for the shore wedding are handled by a wedding planner.  8% of couples choose this option.

Everything is provided for Weddings at Sea including music, bouquet, cake, photos, champagne and a wedding coordinator for only $2250.  A vow renewal ceremony is only $285.  What an incredible deal!  This basic package, of course, may be upgraded to suit your every wish and dream.  Since your honeymoon is the cruise itself, the whole affair is less than a wedding at home!  (Cruise cost is extra.)

Wedding Packages by Princess

TIE THE KNOT AT SEA

  • Wedding Chapel or ideal onboard location
  • Candlelit ceremony
  • Captain to perform ceremony
  • Special vows at sea
  • Wedding coordinator onboard*
  • Ceremony music (pre-recorded)
  • Two fresh floral arrangements to adorn the ceremony location
  • Rose bouquet (one dozen)
  • Boutonniere
  • Photographer**
  • Videographer***
  • One 16×20 canvas wall portrait (unframed)***
  • 9″ Wedding cake
  • Bottle of champagne
  • Two Princess keepsake champagne flutes
  • Keepsake wedding certificate

Tie The Knot At Sea Prices

Package Price:          $1,800

License Fees:             $455

(witness fee may apply)

TOTAL:      $2,255

*Available on “sea” days only.  Details, special requirements and upgrades may add onto the basic price quoted.

TIE THE KNOT HARBORSIDE

  • Priority check-in and boarding for couple and guests
  • Wedding Chapel or onboard location
  • Non-denominational officiant
  • Wedding coordinator onboard
  • Ceremony music (pre-recorded)
  • Romantic vows
  • Two silk floral arrangements atop two pillars
  • Rose bouquet (one half dozen)
  • Boutonniere
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • 9″ wedding cake
  • Bottle of champagne
  • Keepsake wedding certificate

TIE THE KNOT ASHORE

  • Beautiful beach or garden ceremony location
  • Non-denominational officiant
  • Wedding coordinator
  • Exotic island vows
  • Bridal bouquet
  • Boutonniere
  • Photographer
  • Transportation for bridal couple
  • Specialty cake for two
  • Bottle of champagne
  • Keepsake wedding certificate
  • Additional roundtrip transportation service for guests from $20 per person
  • Cake and champagne service for guests from $15 per guest

Prices for Tie the Know Harborside and Ashore vary by destination.  For price information, work with your travel agent or wedding coordinator.

EXQUISITE TOUCHES TO FULFILL YOUR DREAM

Many additional features are available.  If you can dream it, Princess will be happy to make it come true.

-Fresh custom flowers                       -Conch shell                   -Custom cakes                       -Dining receptions                      -Hor d’oeuvres bar                        – Ice sculpture                  -Wine packages                      -Champagne waterfall                     -Live musician                   -Spa and Salon services                         -Tuxedo rental                 -Bridal party dinner                      -Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

     

What do you think?  A Cruise Ship Wedding is a wonderful possibility.  If this fulfills your dream, I would be delighted to assist you.  Just give me a call or email me at (208) 964-3578 or 4anne@dreamalongtravel.com.  Princess pays me, so I cost you nothing at all.

Enjoy Dreaming,