Monday, June 28, 2010

Kayak Explore

There are so many great travel related websites online.  I am constantly discovering new sites, tools and tricks.  My favorite site for searching flights is Kayak, and I recently discovered their Explore tool.

You enter where you want to fly from, how much you want to spend, and when you want to go (either by season or month).  You can also get more specific by entering how long of a flight you want, and even the types of activities you want.  Then a map shows you the places you could visit within your criteria.

Then you can click on each of the prices for more details.

This is a really helpful tool, and can be very useful when trying to figure out where to go for your honeymoon.

What are your favorite travel sites?

Real Honeymoon: Playa Mujeres Mexico

I am very happy to share the amazing honeymoon of Adam and Jenny.  They recently went to Playa Mujeres, Mexico for their honeymoon and stayed at Excellence Playa Mujeres.  This is a gorgeous, adults only, all inclusive resort just north of Cancun.  I hope you enjoy reading about their honeymoon!

  1. Where did you go?  
Excellence Playa Mujeres in Mexico
  1. How did you decide on this destination?  
We wanted a very relaxing honeymoon, so we decided to focus on the Caribbean/Mexico for our destination.  After looking at probably over 20 resorts we landed on the Excellence brand.  They just seemed to have everything we wanted:  All inclusive, adults only, relaxing, secluded, and luxury.  Then we decided on Playa Mujeres because it was the newest of their resorts and just seemed to fit exactly what we wanted.
  1. Did you like where you stayed?  
We LOVED Excellence Playa Mujeres.  We stayed in a junior suite within the Excellence Club.  While the Excellence Club is definitely not necessary to have an enjoyable stay, we appreciated the extra perks such as the in room liquor and the private beach.  However, I think it would have been wonderful even if we hadn’t splurged for the Excellence Club.
  1. What did you think about the destination?   
The beach was beautiful and the water was very clear with the exception of a little seaweed that was not a bother at all.  It was quite warm since it was June in Mexico, but the beach provided a good constant breeze and the ocean was the perfect temperature to cool you off.
  1. What was your favorite part of your honeymoon?  

For me it was definitely laying on the beach and not really having to move since they would take your drink order, my husband would probably say the deep sea fishing we did with Aqua World.  They have an office onsite at the resort and you can book water excursions through them.

  1. Did the hotel provide any special honeymoon perks for you?  
Yes, with the proof of our marriage, they did a special in-room breakfast, a special dinner one night, a banner on our door noting that it was our honeymoon, champagne in our room, a special turn down service, and we received 15% off our spa visit for a couples massage.

  1. Do you have any suggestions for other couples going on a similar honeymoon?  
Bring lots of sunscreen with you as it is much more expensive on the resort and even though tip is included, we were really glad we brought plenty of ones to tip a dollar here and there.  From what we found, they don’t make much money and the service was really exceptional so it was worth it to us to tip a small amount even though it was definitely not required.
  1. What 3 words would you use to describe your honeymoon?   
Relaxing, indulgent, and romantic.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Real Honeymoon: Croatia

    I am so excited to share the honeymoon of Whitney and Stephen.  They recently returned from an incredible 10 day honeymoon to Croatia.  Croatia is a great honeymoon destination that many couples don't consider.  But it really has a lot to offer such as great beaches, gorgeous islands, history, culture and great food.  I hope you enjoy reading about their honeymoon!

    1. Where did you go?
    We went to Croatia and stayed in three different cities while we were there: Spilt, Dubrovnik and Hvar.

    1. How did you decide on this destination?
    Deciding where you are going to take your honeymoon is a tough decision because you have to decide what KIND of honeymoon you both want. We both knew we wanted to go some place neither of us has been before and we wanted it be unique. Ultimately, while researching Croatia, my husband fell in love with its history.

    1. Did you like where you stayed?
    We loved all the places we stayed. They each had a little different “flare” and we got excited every time we were going to a new hotel.

    1. What did you think about the destination?
    My husband and I both fell in love with Croatia and we have said we would really like to go back. It’s really a unique country because it felt like a mix of Italy and Greece.

    1. What was your favorite part of your honeymoon?
    Our favorite part was just walking around each of the cities and looking at the ruins and studying the history of each place. We loved to take a break from walking and sit at a little café, have a cappuccino and watch people walk by.

    1. Did the hotels provide any special honeymoon perks for you?
    They did! One of the hotels upgraded our room and each of the hotels provided a little welcome beverage for us, which was either champagne or wine.

    1. Who would you recommend a similar honeymoon for?
    I would recommend going to Croatia for a couple that does not just want to lounge on the beach all day, is up for an adventure and loves history.

    1. Do you have any suggestions for other couples going on a similar honeymoon?
    Don’t try to “over plan” things. My husband and I landed in Croatia knowing where we were staying and that was about it! At each of the places we visited, we would get recommendations where to go and what to see from the hotel or locals.

    1. What 3 words would you use to describe your honeymoon?
    Adventurous, Historic & Romantic

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Riviera Maya

    Riviera Maya, Mexico is one of my favorite honeymoon destinations.  Riviera Maya is the area between Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

    Here are some of my favorite things about this destination:

    -Quick Flight- It is a short flight from almost everywhere in the United States, and flights are pretty inexpensive.  This means less of your time and budget is spent on a long flight, and more is spent at the beach of a gorgeous resort!

    -Beautiful Beaches- I will let the pictures do the talking for this one!

    -Close to both Cancun and Playa del Carmen- If you want some nightlife or shopping, both Cancun and Playa del Carmen are very close.  I love downtown Playa del Carmen- 5th Avenue is filled with little shops, bars and restaurants, and there are fun bars right down on the beach.

    -Incredible Resorts- Whatever type of resort you are looking for, you will find it here.  There are all inclusive resorts ranging in price and size, smaller boutique style resorts, and high end luxury resorts.

    -Fun activities- You can do as much or as little as you want.  Most resorts offer complimentary water activities, or you can sign up for tours such as horseback riding, fishing, snorkeling, or a jungle tour.  You can also visit the Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza.

    My favorite resorts in this area are Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, The Royal in Playa del Carmen, Excellence Riviera Cancun, El Dorado Maroma, and Banyan Tree Mayakoba.

    Contact me for the best rates.

    All pictures are my own.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Online Review Sites

    Reading reviews about hotels online can be extremely helpful.  It can also be incredibly overwhelming.  How can so many people have such different opinions about the exact same hotel???  Here are some tips for sorting through reviews:

    -Think about what is most important for you.  Is it the location, the food, the pool, or something else?  Then search for those phrases in the reviews to see what people say about that specific aspect.

    -Don't read through every review word for word- just skim through and look for themes.

    -Don't just go by the ranking of the hotel.  Smaller hotels will never reach the top even if they have really positive reviews because they won't have as many reviews.

    -Do look at some of the other numbers such as the percentage of travelers that would recommend a hotel (I aim for over 80%), and also look at the breakdown of the types of travelers.  This will give you an idea of the types of guests that usually stay at the hotel.  For example, a hotel with a lot of family reviewers will most likely have a lot of kids.

    -Look at the dates when reviews were written.  If the last negative review was written a long time ago, you can assume those issues have been resolved.

    -If a majority of reviews are positive and there are just a few negative ones, ignore those.  Not everyone is going to be happy with every hotel.   But if a vast majority of people love it, you probably will as well.

    Trip Advisor is still the king, but there are a few other helpful sites I want to share.  Oyster reviews give you a great idea of what a hotel is actually like.  They clearly list out the pros and cons, and also compare the hotel to others nearby.  The pictures are really helpful as well.  The drawback- they only have reviews for a limited amount of destinations, and don't have every hotel.

    Another helpful site is  I use this site for hotels in Europe, especially smaller places.  The reviews are brief, but you can get a good idea whether people like the place and how the location is.

    Do you have any other favorite sites, or tips for sorting through reviews?

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Hotel in 9 by Design

    No one does reality television like Bravo.  The Rachel Zoe Project, Kell on Earth, Millionaire Matchmaker and all of the Real Housewives series- anyone with me???  And Bravo nailed it again with 9 By Design which follows Robert and Cortney Novogratz, their 7 (SEVEN!!!) kids and their business Sixx Design.

    On last night's season finale they celebrated the opening of Bungalow Hotel in Long Branch, New Jersey that Robert and Cortney designed.  I absolutely loved what they did with the hotel- so hip, unique and fresh.  Here is a peek inside the gorgeous boutique hotel:

    Incredible right?  If you are interested in staying here email me for the best rates.

    *Photos from Bungalow Hotel

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Utterly Engaged!

    I write for a fabulous online wedding planning magazine called Utterly Engaged.  If you aren't familiar with it you MUST check it out.  A new issue comes out each month and is filled with amazing pictures and great suggestions on how to get the wedding of your dreams without spending a fortune.

    The new issue was just released, and I am really excited to share my article!  It is about a honeymoon to Costa Rica that I planned for a really sweet couple.  Looks amazing right?

    Be sure to check out my article, and read the rest of the magazine!