About Brad Panik

Associate Director of Sales for Apple Vacations

Reflections of a Magical Journey to Cartagena, Colombia

Hilton Cartagena, Colombia

Hilton Cartagena, Colombia

This is the time of year that many of us reflect back over the past 12 months to recall very special moments and experiences.

For me, one of those experiences was a business trip to Colombia, South America.

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Apple Vacations’ 2012 Platinum Agency Retreat

What do 165 participants, 3 nights & temperatures in the 80’s all add up to?


Apple Vacations’ 2012 Platinum Agency Retreat – Secrets The Vine Cancun


Apple Vacations’ 2012 Platinum Agency Retreat. Secrets The Vine Cancun hosted, NOW Jade had us over to Sip, Savor & See. A Town Hall Meeting updated everyone on what’s happening at Apple Vacations, Amstar & AM Resorts. Site Inspections, Optional Excursions, Pool/Beach time and cocktail receptions rounded out the rest of the time. A pool side gala, featuring entertainment by Il Divo, brought the Retreat to a close.

A wonderful event, a great group of agents and 100 million reasons to say Thank You to each of them!

Check out my pics to see a more up close view of the event!

Sharing my favorite Secrets

Some years ago I stopped being wowed and impressed by resort hotels.  Not because they aren’t wow-able or impressive, just simply because I’ve seen (and enjoyed) my share.  From the ordinary, to the extraordinary.  From the “I think I’ve been here before”, to the “I have GOT to stay here”, I’ve seen my share.  I’ve learned to keep an open mind, an objective opinion, and a sort of blasé attitude.  But then again, I’m the one that walked into St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and exclaimed “nice church”.   So, no one was more surprised than me at my jaw dropping reaction when I arrived at Secrets Marquis Los Cabos.


This seaside escape is an all-suite, all ocean view resort featuring unique, one-bedroom casitas each with their own private pool.


From the exceptional view of the Sea of Cortez upon arrival, to the understated elegance of the lobby, to the world-class art and statuary throughout, I immediately knew that this property was special.   Everything about this resort exudes class:  the food, the service, the amenities, the amazing views and vistas everywhere you turn.   Although just over 230 rooms, it has an intimate feel.  Think Zoetry at a Secrets price.  The staff takes pride in their jobs and their commitment to service and it shows, in the most unassuming ways.  For instance, I tore my “Do Not Disturb” sign and, although still usable, it was replaced.

Secrets Marquis Los Cabos, a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World, offers adults Unlimited-Luxury® for the first time on Mexico's Baja Peninsula.

The rooms are quite well appointed and a good size.  If you go, and you must go, be sure to book a beach view or beach front Casita, 1670 sq. ft. of pure luxury.  If the room size isn’t enough, the roof top lounge & plunge pool, with sea view, will blow you away.   If that isn’t enough, the fresh coffee, fruit plate, and pastries delivered to your room each morning, along with the nightly turndown service, are sure to fulfill your “vacation like a celebrity” fantasies.  Speaking of celebrities, it was rumored that George Clooney, as well as Cindy Crawford, have homes within view of the resort.


Property features and extensive art collection of specially commissioned works by leading Latin American artists.


While vacationing on the same beach as George may sound glamorous, this portion of Cabo’s “corridor” section does not have a swimmable beach.  No worries though, the seemingly endless infinity pool more than adequately makes up for it.  Complete waiter, concierge and food service is provided pool side.  And it’s not unusual to see the Food & Beverage Manager passing out skewers of fresh fruit and bottled water throughout the day.   Towels are plentiful, require no towel card, and are laid out on what seems like 1000 chaise lounges.   As daytime descends, and the pastel sunset takes over the skies, the evening begins.  Whether you opt for a romantic pool side dinner by lantern light, or at the elegant French gourmet restaurant, your palate will be pleased by the excellent assortment of culinary delights.  Evening entertainment is low key and includes live music or a movie under the stars.  Often during the week you can jump on a van into downtown Cabo San Lucas where you’ll get a taste of the nightlife that Cabo is known for.  If you’re lucky, you might spot Sammy Hagar or Jack Nicholson who have homes nearby.


First Secrets Resorts & Spa located in Los Cabos. Member of Leading Hotels of the World. World-class Marquis Spa named as one of the Top Spas in Mexico spanning over 15,000 square feet & showcasing spectacular Sea of Cortez views


As the sunrise creeps into your ocean view room, you truly feel energized and refreshed when you awake.  Aside from the descriptions of food and rooms and pools and art, there is a “genuine feel” to this hotel.  An energy all it’s own.  “Magical” is the closet adjective that I can find.  Whether you are planning a day by the pool, a treatment in the world class spa by Pevonia, a quick jaunt into the colonial town of San Jose del Cabo or a tour of the marina at Puerto los Cabos, Secrets Marquis Los Cabos is the perfect spot to call home in Los Cabos.  And since it’s just 20 minutes from the airport, you’ll feel like you are worlds away, but in the middle of it all.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been wowed and impressed by a resort hotel.

Well played Secrets Marquis Los Cabos.  Well played.

A Man with a Plan and a Tan

As Associate Director of Sales, one of my favorite annual projects is working with my colleagues in Chicago to plan the Crystal Agency Retreat.  This event honors our National Crystal and Crystal Apple Agencies across the Country for their outstanding accomplishments and partnership with Apple Vacations.  In past years, retreats have been held in Punta Cana, Cancun, Jamaica, Riviera Maya & Puerto Vallarta where we provide the agents with airfare, hotel accommodations and full VIP treatment for 3 to 4 days.  This year’s event proved exciting as we added a new destination to the retreat line up – Los Cabos, Mexico!  As you can imagine coordination of air, hotel, transfers, excursions, cocktail receptions, dinners & entertainment for 36 passengers can be harrowing.  But working with the professional teams from Amstar, AM Resorts as well as our airline friends at Frontier, Delta & United, everything operates like a well -oiled machine and make our efforts appear seamless.


Crystal Retreat – Secrets Marquis Los Cabos


Apple Vacations Crystal Agency Retreat - First Secrets Resorts & Spa located in Los Cabos. Member of Leading Hotels of the World. World-class Marquis Spa named as one of the Top Spas in Mexico spanning over 15,000 square feet & showcasing spectacular Sea of Cortez views, a Leading Spa.

In future posts, I’ll go into detail on the wonderful hospitality of Secrets Marquis Los Cabos and the incredible destination of Los Cabos.  For now, I’ll concentrate on the retreat itself.  Aside from the cocktail receptions, gourmet dinners and general camaraderie around the pool, this event affords us one on one exposure to Apple’s top selling agencies.  Conversations touch on a myriad of topics and give our Executive Management and Sales Staff the opportunity to strengthen an already solid relationship as well as take back to Headquarters any ‘hot ticket’ items in the agent community.  It’s also a time for reunion as 75% of agents have been attending the retreat faithfully for the past few years.  It’s also a joy to welcome new faces to the event and watch recent Crystal Agency recipients enjoy the fruits of their labors. 


Although there is play, a lot of play, there’s work too.  Site inspections, presentations and harder tasks, such as deciding what excursion to take today.  There’s also time for one on one business discussions and updates from the sales rep for whatever hotel we’re hosted by.  It’s also a time for agents and Apple Staff alike to get to know a hotel property, destination and each other.  A former boss once told me ‘it’s all about the relationship’.  If nothing else, the annual Crystal Agency Retreat emphasizes Apple’s commitment to our Travel Agent partners and our genuine desire for their continued success.  That in itself makes all the planning worthwhile.

Secrets Marquis Los Cabos, a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World, offers adults Unlimited-Luxury® for the first time on Mexico's Baja Peninsula.