In November visited the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica. We all stayed at the all inclusive property of Riu Guanacaste. It usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes from the airport but Hurricane Hugo two weeks prior to our arrival had done extensive damage to the roads heading into Guanacaste. At first glance it was a very large resort and typical Riu style “u” shaped, with the lobby in centre, restaurants off to one side (best buffet I have ever had, food was delicious and great variety) and the evening entertainment area off to the other. Beautiful lush green pathways heading to the pool and beach, passing by a few iguanas basking in the sun. First impression, HOT, but what do you expect when the equator is only about 9 degrees away from Costa Rica. The beach as expected natural brown sand and murky water but the scenery was spectacular, just floating in the water and taking in the view was meditation enough for me. Again Hurricane Hugo had an impact in the water, there was a shift of tide increasing debris in the water, a few in the group got stung by pieces of jellyfish as they brushed by them. After a quick word with first aid on the beach, who were very quick to assist, suggestion use vinegar to relieve the sting. Although it deterred many from venturing into the water again others, myself included, still enjoyed the beach each morning.
On our third day we ventured out for an all day excursion to the Buena Vista Lodge, located in Rincon de la Vieja located in the Guanacaste Mountain range. Gorgeous scenery! Our day included a 2 hour bus ride each way, ziplining or canopy tour, 400 foot water slide through the rainforest, lunch, horseback riding with the day ending at the hot springs. All I can say is bucket lists were checked for many! Well worth your money and pre book prior to going so you pay in Canadian dollars. Excursions are not cheap, but on the beach at the Riu property there are many tour companies offers many of the same tours, worth a chat and great to support the local entrepreneurs, everyone very nice and eager to please. Be sure to check out the Diamonte Eco Park right next door to the resort, where you can see the local wildlife up close and get a chance to meet Lucy the famous sloth of Costa Rica. On our fifth day we had the opportunity to go off in a small group on a private boat, fish by hand, catching our own lunch and then a BBQ lunch on our own private beach. Survivor at its finest!
I did tour the Riu Palace Costa Rica as well, which is right beside. There is a market for both. Riu Guanacaste is busier, louder (was off season so a lot of locals at the resort) and much larger. The Riu Palace quieter, more polished and slightly smaller, but still grand in its own right. If you stay at the Palace you can use the facilities of both.
Costa Rica is a diverse country with so much to see and do. For sure put money aside for excursions as they are a must to get the full feel and experience of this beautiful country. I will for sure venture back as an individual, next time stay at a villa, rent a car and explore. Till next time Costa Rica, Pura Vida!
July 4, 2017
When you are considering having a destination wedding there are so many different factors to consider. First, which country are you going to have the wedding? Once you decide that, which resort? The whole process can be very stressful, especially when it comes to the legalities of a wedding. Do you have a Symbolic wedding or a Legal wedding? What is the difference?
The short answer is a legal or civil ceremony is recognized in Canada and a symbolic ceremony is not. It depends on the country you are planning to have your destination wedding and if you may have been married prior. When you have a legal/civil ceremony there is a lot of paperwork involved including translation of you documents, which can be both timely and costly. As well countries like the Dominican Republic or Mexico have a lot of red tape including required blood work in Mexico and the hasal is just not worth it. Countries like Jamaica, Bahamas and St Lucia would be a better choice for a legal ceremony as the process is much simpler.
In my experience based on the almost 60 destination weddings that I have arranged, over 70% of my couple choose to have a Symbolic Ceremony in destination and have a Legal Ceremony here at home prior or upon their return, picking a date that is special to them and they would celebrate anyway. Your experience will be just as memorable either choice you make.
Working with a Travel Agent that specializes in Destination Weddings, like Barefoot Travel, alleviates the stress as they know the legalities of both wedding options either Symbolic or Legal/Civil. We are here to help you make the best decision for you and will be with you every step of the way!
December 19, 2016
It is that time of year, where many of us are excitedly making travel plans to visit friends and family over the holidays. It is also one of the busiest most stressful times of the year to be traveling. Here are some tips to not let anything damper your festivities.
Traveling abroad, maybe somewhere warm, lucky you, remember the basics. So easy this time of the year to be distracted and forget the essentials. Make sure you have all travel documents prior to traveling.
Taking gifts away with you, consider the weight as you do not want to pay excess baggage charges, purchase small and smart. Consider wrapping your gifts once you arrive, to avoid a ruined wrapping job going through customs and a random security check.
Planning to take some festive cheer with you, remember maximum allowable for liquids is 100 ml and know the limits of what you are able to bring back with you.
You cannot control the weather, flights are always subject to change, be sure to check with your airline prior to leaving for the airport, including flight connections and the weather in the connecting city. Nothing to stress about as the weather is beyond your control.
Prepared your son’s favorite Christmas treat? Be sure to check you can fly with it to avoid it being confiscated at the airport.
Staying closer to home to travel, be prepared for longer than average car rides, with heavy traffic on the roads. If traveling by bus or train, remember to double check the holiday schedules.
Leaving your home over the holidays, be sure to keep it safe. Cancel any regular deliveries, set a timer for your lights, arrange for someone to clear your snow and keep your heat on to avoid any burst pipes.
Safe travels to you over the holidays and the very best for an adventurous new year in 2017.
Sarah, Barefoot Travel
November 23, 2016
One of the best gifts you can give your children is great memories. Family-friendly vacations are a fun way to share those future memories.
It is family travel vacation time. The busiest time of the year that families travel is between November and May to get away seeking some warmth.
Most suppliers increase flights, hotel rooms at resorts and destinations so that most needs can be met for all travellers.
Each year consumers are encouraged to book in advance, by offering Early Booking Bonuses (EBB) and Price Match Guarantees. Last minutes are more and more becoming a thing of the past, especially if you have a particular destination in mind and are looking for quality. Quality resorts are not last minute resorts.
The internet is a great search tool, but not a travel expert. It can be overwhelming with the amount of “family friendly” resorts there are. A Travel Agents role is to be educated on the resorts that will best suit your particular families needs and wants. We are here to work for you, the client, as we ultimately want you to book with us again.
All Inclusive are the way to go with families, everything is arranged, your flights, transfers and accommodation. Some resort at certain times of the year offer children travel “free” promos, the resort portion will be free or drastically reduced but the airfare still will need to be paid. Suggestion look for direct flights, less hassle with a family, shorter duration flights, especially if you have little ones and that offer a great children’s program so that you can get some down time while you are on vacation as well.
Plan and prepare ahead of time, speak to a travel expert and you will create a trip full of memories.
November 7, 2016
Recently had a conversation with a bride who planned her own destination wedding just this year, when she found out what my occupation was and that I specialized in Destination Weddings she practically burst into tears and said ‘Where were you last year when I planned mine? ” She was devastated, had had the worst experience from start to finish. There is no need for anyone to go through this, here are just some of the few reasons why if you are considering a destination wedding should have a Travel Agent help you each step of the way.
- There is no additional fee for a Destination Wedding Specialist assist you with your wedding. The company we book your wedding with pays us not the bride and groom.
- All Inclusive resorts are the most popular type of resorts to book your destination wedding, but they are not always seamless and without issues. There are hidden fees you would not know about, as well Travel Agents have relationships resorts and can get you perks which you would not get should you book on your own.
- Your guests may not all be seasoned travelers, so instead of you asking all of their questions you can direct them to your travel agent.
- You may have guests coming from all over the world, what a logistical and time consuming nightmare, not if you have an agent though, as that is their job.
- Book your destination wedding with a travel agent and they can get you a group price should you have a minimum of 10 adults traveling. You can not get this on your own.
These are only a few of the reasons to use a Travel Agent who specialize in Destination Weddings. Barefoot Travel has to date worked on over 60 destination weddings, assisting their couples every step of the way! www.barefoottravel.ca
October 23, 2016
Why would you choose Mexico as a Destination Wedding location?
Planning a wedding can be daunting, but planning a wedding in another country can be downright stressful and often overwhelming. While the extra work may leave you biting your nails, you’ll be able to get a relaxing manicure at the resort spa, and truly enjoy a beautiful big day that will make all of your hard work and strategy worth it.
A destination wedding means saving yourself from organizing a large, fancy church wedding with a guest list of 100+, and you will also have the opportunity to save a great deal of money. Of course, any Mexico vacation also means sun, sand and beach. Here are five Mexican destinations to consider for a destination wedding:
Cancun, Mexico’s premier destination location. Cancun’s 14 mile resort zone offers you plenty of options filled with excitement and romance. Having guests from all over the world, Cancun is very accessible from everywhere and a great choice for large groups gathering together for you special day. Top resorts to choose Hard Rock Cancun, Hyatt Zilara Cancun and Secrets the Vine Cancun.
Los Cabos, where the desert meets the sea, This formerly sleepy fishing village blends stunning views of the desert, mountains, and beaches on the Baja California coast. Famous for deep sea fishing and golf offering two championship golf courses. Los Cabos is considered to be one of the top destination wedding locations in the world. Resorts to consider Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos, Dreams Los Cabos and Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos.
Puerto Vallarta, found on Mexico’s pacific coast in increasing every year as a destination wedding location and no wonder with gorgeous landscape and romance of the old town feel of Puerto Vallarta. Do not miss is the Rhythms of the Night, one of the most romantic experiences you will ever have. Top resort picks for lovely Puerto Vallarta would be Casa Velas, Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta and Hilton Puerto Vallarta.
Rivieria Nayarit, has some of the most spectacular unspoiled scenery and by far Mexico’s most attractive destination, with quaint fishing towns and resorts from the understated to affordable luxury. Be sure to go on a whale watching excursion on Banderas Bay and Isabel Island which is an oasis for nature lovers. Resorts to stay Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, Marival Residence Luxury Nervo Vallarta and Royal Suites Punta Mita.
Manzanillo, located along the central Pacific Coast of Mexico overlooking the twin bays of Manzanillo and Santiago, Manzanillo is situated in a region with diverse natural landscapes. It’s a favorite destination for beach activities, ecotourism and adventure sports. Offers great day trips, one must see is the famous volcano Nevado de Colima and walks along the many unspoiled beaches. Top resort picks are Barcelo Karmina Palace Deluxe and Las Hadas Golf Resort and Marina.
Again and again, Mexico will surprise you with new experiences, so enjoy and remember… you’re in Mexico enjoying your wedding with friends and family creating memories that are going to last a lifetime!
October 5, 2016
Yes, Travel Agents still exist!
The reaction I get from people when I tell them, I am a Travel Agent, is usually mixed. I either hear “Oh, I always use a Travel Agent” or the other more common response is “Do Travel Agents still exist?” My answer to you is yes we do! We are actually more valuable to you ,the consumer, ,than you realize. I also believe, it is one of the most misunderstood jobs out there. I am hoping to clear up some of those misunderstanding and misconceptions about what the role of a Travel Agent really is.
- A Travel Agent does not cost you the consumer any more than if you booked directly online. We get paid by commission, you do not pay it, the company we book your flights, hotel, car rental, all inclusive vacation, cruise etc., pay us when we book your trip with them. So kind of a no brainer right, why not use a Travel Agent, you get expert advice for FREE!
- A Travel Agent provides you with customer service. The internet cannot do that. Yes it is convenient and right at your fingertips, but you can spend hours researching websites, TripAdvisor etc., but a Travel Agent has been to a lot of destinations, we tour hotels regularly, even when on our own personal vacations, we have other clients feedback to pull from, other agents as well, who will give us honest feedback on their own experiences. We are not going to send you somewhere that you are not going to get the best possible experience from, why would we, we want you to book with us again, think about it. Can the internet do that, no. Can you call the internet with questions, no. Do you know who you are booking with when you book online, now. But a Travel Agent can and is, we work for YOU the client and we are FREE!
- A Travel Agent is not a pushy sales person. We do not have sales quotas to meet. My job is to recommend a vacation that meets YOUR needs and wants, note mine. If you have found a property online that you are interested in, remember the internet should be used as a research tool only, I will be honest with you and if there is something better that will meet your needs and wants, I will recommend it. I want you to make the best decision for you and your family when deciding where to go for YOUR vacation. Again all this advice for FREE!
- A Travel Agent will save you time. Who has time to sit searching on a computer for hours and hours? Apparently a lot of you do, but why, when you can call a travel expert, a Travel Agent, in the field who will provide you with recommendations to meet your family’s needs or your while making sure you have the quality you deserve. And did I say it was FREE!
- A Travel Agent reads the fine print. We know the ins and outs when booking your trips with suppliers, airlines, hotels, cruise lines, it is our job to know. So you the client do not get a “surprise” and have to pay big bucks! We understand the rules and regulations and help to protect you the consumer and your investment. Yep, FREE again!
- A Travel Agent can specializes. Barefoot Travel specializes in group vacations. We negotiate group prices and price match with suppliers, create a booking reservations system, organize all the group’s travel plans which saves time and aggravation, as well create you a personalized website for your group. No need for you to plan your vacation, let alone 10 other people, who needs that headache! It is our job to look after all of the group’s travel plans and communication. FREE as well you ask, yes it is!
- A Travel Agent is your voice. Stuff happens when you are on vacation and even before you travel,, when this happens if you have booked online, who do you call? When you book with a Travel Agent all you have to do is pick up the phone and call, we are there to advocate and resolve the issue for you. Let us do the dirty work and sort it out for you. We know who to call and get any, or most, issues resolved in half the time it would take you to even get a hold of someone when you book online. And a again a reminder this service is FREE!
I love my job and yes, Travel Agents are still real! I get to assist my clients, help them create memories, check off their bucket lists and assist in making wonderful memories with family and friends to share for a lifetime. Why would I not love my job and why would you not use a travel agent for your next trip?
Cuba’s Best Beaches
Heading to Cuba the end of this month to stay at the Pullman in Cayco Coco to celebrate with family our vow renewal for 25 years of marriage. Picked Cayo Coco for it’s gorgeous beaches including Playa Pillar and their fishing options both ocean, lake and river.
From the crystal-clear waters to the vibrant culture, there is a lot to love in Cuba, and it doesn’t hurt that the temperature rarely drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The combination of beautiful weather and warm waters make Cuba a hot spot for beach lovers. The vast stretches of coastline offer plenty of sun and sand to enjoy; however, some places are better than others.
Playa Ancon is located on Cuba’s southern shore, just seven miles south of the charming Spanish colonial town of Trinidad. Whether you love the beach or the culture of Cuba, Playa Ancon can certainly satisfy. Those with love for sea life can enjoy the lush coral rocks, where nature enthusiasts can spot some local wildlife.
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, travel over to Trinidad, where the historic architecture can transport you back in time to the 1800s when Spanish conquistadors roamed the city streets.
Varadero Beach is one of Cuba’s most famous beaches. With over 12 miles of coastline, and dotted with lavish five-star resorts, it’s easy to see why this beach is so popular. Although Varadero beach is more than just buffets and sun-tanning, there are plenty of natural wonders to take in as well, such as the nearby sea caves and breathtaking coral reefs.
Guardalavaca is a former cattle-village turned tourist hot-spot. Beaches that were once reserved for farmers and their herds are now a popular sun-tanning location, lined with crystal clear waters and resort property. After a day of tanning, and wading into the warm Cuban waters, you can head on over to the seaside market, where you can find a wide variety of Cuban goods from authentic cigars to handbags.
If you like to vacation off of the beaten path, Playa Sirena may be your beach of choice. Located on a remote island, named Cayo Largo, Playa Sirena offers a refreshing respite from the constant luxuries of a resort. Getting to Playa Sirena can be a bit of a trek, however, once you get there, you’ll understand it was well worth the effort. One of the many attractions at Playa Sirena is the dolphin park, where visitors can swim alongside these brilliant sea creatures. The waters off of Playa Sirena are also incredibly calm, and since there are no hotels nearby, there are fewer crowds, meaning you can enjoy the shoreside in near-complete seclusion.
Contact Barefoot Travel to book your Cuba Vacation and get a complimentary travel guide to Cuba. Click here https://forms.gle/dCzq9C1aJCYfD2TP6
While the Riviera Maya offers truly stunning natural landscapes, the whole region can become
overwhelmingly hot and humid from June on through till October. The summer months may be
peak vacation time, but they can also put the unprepared tourist at risk for heatstroke. On the
subject of heat and summer, mosquitos are out in full swing during this season, which means an
increased chance of contracting conditions like the Zika Virus, Chikungunya, and Dengue Fever.
So, if you are planning to visit The Riviera Maya during summer, pack some bug repellent.
The subject of food and water is a hot-button issue for first-time travelers to The Riviera Maya.
For one, you shouldn’t drink the tap water in Mexico, as in some instances it will make you sick.
Instead, you should also ask for bottled water while in restaurants, since they’ll likely serve
unfiltered tap water by default. Street food is a potential danger as well, as there is no telling
whether or not a street vendor properly prepared the meal or adequately cleaned their cooking
While it helps to use a resort as a home base during your trip, you shouldn’t rely on it. Resorts
tend to upcharge for all of their goods and services and will try to convince you that you need to
use their expensive tour guides to explore The Riviera Maya safely. Instead, you should take
excursions off of resort property to get a genuine taste of Mexico. The Riviera Maya is not the
dangerous, crime-ridden place the news reports it to be. If you take a chance and explore the
Riviera Maya on your own, you’ll quickly discover all the raw natural beauty this fantastic place
has to offer.
All-Inclusive group getaways
All-inclusive resorts are such a good option for group trips because of the flexibility and freedom they offer. With beaches, pools and daily activities, there’s always something going on so everyone is entertained and occupied. There are lots of opportunities to leave the resort for fun group excursions too. It’s just a couple of the reasons why my clients love group getaways to all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean! If you’ve been considering planning one for a family reunion, milestone birthday, anniversary or any other occasion, I would love to help!