THE BIG DAY

As told by Kelly Re, Destination Wedding Specialist

You’ve been dreaming of your wedding day since you were a little girl.

Don’t lie.

It’s been planned down to the smallest detail: the floral arrangements, the venue, the decorations, the dress, the wedding party. And your husband, well…I guess he’s in there somewhere too.

Every bride wants to make her day special, an event to remember for a lifetime.

Some couples go the traditional route. They surround themselves with close family members and friends and get married in a church or at the Justice of the Peace. Other couples choose to embrace more extravagant options—ritzy venues, expensive cakes, etc.

So, what’s a memorable medium? Believe it or not, there is a way to be kind to your wallet while still satisfying your taste for lavish indulgences. You can make your day special in a totally unique, affordable, and personal way that is tailored to suit a bride seeking even the most unusual experience.

How, you ask?

A destination wedding.

Destination weddings are amazing because they epitomize what it means to make a statement. It’s a vow ceremony, reception, and honeymoon surrounded by your family and besties all rolled into one. Apple Vacations Destination Weddings prides itself on delivering phenomenal service and insuring the wedding-planning process goes as smoothly as possible. You will be matched with a dedicated team of wedding specialists and guest coordinators to ensure efficiency and productivity.

Whether it’s a low-key island in the Caribbean, a scenic beach in Mexico, or an adventurous resort in the Bahamas, your destination wedding is guaranteed to be one of the best and most memorable experiences of your life. And Apple Vacations Destination Weddings  will be with you every step of the way, making sure your wedding is not just the wedding of your childhood dreams, but better. Get started today!

Still need inspiration? Check out our Destination Wedding Pinterest Board!

 

 

Apple Vacations suggests you Ask An Agent!

A recent article came out. “9 things Travel Agents won’t tell you”. It was not a supportive article for the Travel Agent community and suggests “buyer beware”. I am here to say to the writer, Anne Roderique-Jones, you got it wrong!!!   I’ll address your 9 points.

#1 – They’re making commission. Well, yes this is true. That is how they are compensated for their expertise. Do you expect them to book your trip, provide first-hand experience, check flights, research, put you in the right resort for your wishes, work with your budget, walk you through the details, procure your tickets, and make dining recommendations and reservations for free? A Travel Agency is a business and they do get compensated for their services. I think that is a “no brainer”.  Any reputable agency will NOT sell you a vacation they do not truly think you will enjoy – no matter what the incentive is out there for them. They want you to be happy, so that you and your friends and family use them again and again. They make a living on repeat business. I challenge you to take the commission an agent makes, and divide it by the time they put into planning your vacation. Would you work for that hourly rate?

#2 – They can’t book all Airlines. WRONG. An agent can book anything. They do not get commission on most airlines, but most agents either book that part as a courtesy since you are booking the rest of the trip with them, or charge an up-front service fee to get you the airline you want.

#3 – They lie about their experience? Most agents I know love to travel. That is why they are in fact an agent. FAM trips are an essential part of the business. Agents jump at the chance to go. Apple Vacations runs them all the time, and they always fill up quickly. Good agents have been to the destinations they sell, multiple times. Agents are also a close community, and if one agent in an office has not been to a location or resort, someone in the office or their network most likely has. They share information (good and bad), details, photos and tips. They also take webinars, go to tradeshows, attend seminars and trainings. To question the integrity of “ALL” Travel Agents is unfair when I continually see so many agents continually traveling and educating themselves mostly on their own dime and time.

#4 – I am not sure why you think agents are inflexible. Call an agency … standard protocol is … what can I help you with, location, dates and are you flexible? Yes, an agent may recommend different departures to save you money, or get you better flights. The bottom line is agents present options. If you are flexible, and the best rate is what you want, let them know.  Again, they are a service industry and if they know a day later may give you a better flight time or price, then take advantage of that knowledge.

#5 – Insurance may not be necessary? I find this to be an irresponsible statement. Trip protection is ALWAYS recommended. We never get complaints from Travel Agents or vacationers that took trip protection and had to cancel for an emergency or unforeseen reason, and got their money back or were able to rebook at a later date. Really, we never received one. However, we have heard from vacationers when something unforeseen did occur and they could not travel. We never want to see anyone lose their hard earned money and we certainly don’t like when customers are unhappy when a trip cannot be changed.  Therefore, we always recommend trip protection. Also, trip protection has numerous benefits in addition to cancellation. It covers you in resort, medical, baggage, trip interruption and unforeseen circumstances. The statement you made would better be phrased “What trip protection is right for this vacation?” as there are many plans available. Any good agent WILL and SHOULD recommend trip protection and will walk you through your options. A vacation is an investment, and like any investment it should be protected.

#6 – Only use an agent for a special occasion trip? Isn’t every vacation a special occasion? If you are spending your hard earned money and taking the time away from work or responsibilities, don’t you deserve the best your money can buy? Please, don’t lower expectations before you even book. A vacation is an event, an experience, and we hope to always not only meet but exceed all of your expectations on every vacation.

#7 – On – Line sites now offer refunds and cancellation policies. This is correct, new DOT rules that came out last year, allow all customers to cancel any flight booked within 24 hours of booking (if the flight was booked more than 7 days prior to departure date). This is a new industry standard no matter where – or how – you book. I also think this is one of the #1 reasons to USE a Travel Agent. They have relationships with airlines, resorts and wholesale companies such as Apple Vacations.  Because of this, they understand the fare classes, room categories and terms & conditions when booking. They are EXPERTS. Lean on their expertise, don’t criticize it.

#8 – They won’t find the best price? Go ahead, challenge them! What do you have to lose?

#9 – Sign up and use a travel rewards club. It’s a good idea to use credit card points, Apple Vacations has a card. But one club or card most likely can’t take care of all your travel needs. I suggest you find a travel agent you like. Get to know them, and let them know you. They will learn your preferences and expectations. If an agent knows what you like, what you don’t, who you typically travel with, when you like to go and what is important to you; they will know what you are looking for in a vacation. When you are ready to travel, they will know what vacation is just right for you!

There are also so many key reasons you SHOULD book with an agency.

There are sometimes unforeseen circumstances that affect your trip. Let’s say you book your trip yourself. You are enjoying this amazing vacation, but in the days before you are about to come home, you find out your home airport is closed due to weather (snow, bad winds, tropical storms) and your flight is cancelled, do you want to enjoy your last days of vacation or do you want to be on hold with an airline for hours and negotiating a last minute rate with the hotel? Travel Agents don’t get a rain or snow day! They are working long into the night, placing calls, researching flights, waiting on hold to assist their clients and get their travel plans back on track.

Do you want to be the first to know about a sale or promo code? Many times Travel Agents get a “sneak peak” to these. Do you want inside tips and personal reviews? Do you want a professional looking out for you and taking care of you? Using their “pull” to get you free upgrades and perks. Making sure you don’t get bumped from a reservation due to a hotel or airline or car overbooking. Making sure you don’t book an impossible connection. Making sure you get proper compensation when vacations do not go as planned. I could go on and on. The bottom line is Anne; I think you placed an unfair stereotype on an industry that does not warrant it. I am sorry if you had a bad experience. I personally know many, many, many, many, many agents who are all hard working, ethical, knowledgeable and professional. They are a true resource when booking your vacation. I’d be happy to recommend one for your next vacation. I am proud to know them, be in the industry with them, and call many of them both colleagues and friends. Go ahead and Ask An Agent when booking your next trip. I know I will!

 

Ask An Agent

Aloha Friday – Step Up Your Stay at Starwood Resorts in Hawaii (Mexico & the Caribbean too)

We are in the final booking week of Sunsational Savings at all Starwood Resorts!

Book by July 22 and travel July 1-December 15, 2013 and bask in the splendor of Starwood Resorts on the sun-drenched beaches of Mexico, the Caribbean and the Hawaiian Islands. Apple Vacations offers the most convenient and affordable ways to get there.

Apple Vacations is celebrating Starwood with a host of exclusive value-added extras like guaranteed room upgrades, complimentary breakfasts, food and beverage credits, spa discounts and more!

Click here for specific resort details.

And check out our Pinterest board featuring Starwood Resorts here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta

Located on the spectacular setting of Banderas Bay in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico is Dreams Villamagna – a 6 Golden Apple, AAA Four Diamond, Pacific ocean-front resort with majestic views of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Dreams Villamagna has two 10-story luxury towers and caters to families, couples and singles. The resort is located about 25 minutes from the airport. These are the facts you can also find in a brochure.

Here is our first–hand impression of the resort…It is a stunning picturesque hideaway. If you are a frequent Dreams Resorts & Spas vacationer, you’ll notice there is a very different esthetic here than other Dreams Resorts. This resort has a very modern luxurious feel to it with clean lines and sleek amenities. When you walk in the lobby you’ll notice it includes only the essentials – a few shops, a nice bar area and comfortable lounge. Everything is finely appointed.

The resort is high–rise architecture with elevators, so everything can be found within close walking distance. Rooms have either a Mountain View or an Ocean View and they are junior suites, which are actually larger than most junior suite standards. Rooms also each offer a Jacuzzi on the balcony, stocked mini fridge, coffee maker, iPod docking station and “Secrets Box”.

Unlimited-Luxury® — where everything is included is a trademark of AMResorts including Dreams Resorts & Spas. They offer 24-hour room service and 5 restaurants and lounges and reservations are never needed.  Wristbands and towel cards are also not required.  A must is a visit to the rooftop Sushi Bar with incredible views!!!

The meandering pool starts at the lobby and goes all the way to the beach – this makes the resort very picturesque and offers plenty of space to swim.

*** Recommendation *** Upgrade to the Preferred Club located on the 7th and 8th floor. When you upgrade to a Preferred Club room, you will receive exceptional services and world class amenities including: Impressive Ocean Views, Preferred Status & Amenities, Concierge Service, hot and cold afternoon appetizers (in room on request), complementary suite wireless internet access, exquisite desserts, fresh fruit and fine liquors in the Preferred station located at the same floor, daily complimentary newspaper, upgrade mini bar service upon arrival and upgraded bath amenities. You will Love it and thank me later!

Also remember, the “Sip, Savor and See” program is offered by AMResorts and this hotel is included in the program. Guests can “Sip, Savor & See” at all AMResorts in the region. You can enjoy dinner, live entertainment and cocktails at a “sister property”. If you are in resort for a week, this is a great way to get out and experience another resort.

Stay tuned to The Juice for more Puerto Vallarta reviews including “The Secrets Box – Do you know what it is?”

 

 

Say YES, YES, YES to the Dress!

We have all heard of “say YES” when picking out the dress.  I am here to remind you to say YES to the dress when leaving for the airport.

You have done a lot of planning and have the Destination Wedding of your dreams just a few short days away, PLEASE have a check list of what you will need with you for the event.

It sounds simple, maybe even silly, but learn from the experience of others. The most important things are sometimes overlooked.  Don’t let it happen to you!

When I was on my honeymoon, a couple I met in resort did NOT actually get married as planned during their Destination Wedding. He forgot the proper documentation.  They wound up doing the service and none of the guests knew.  A few days later on an excursion they told me what happened. They were so stressed out all week because of one little piece of forgotten paper on the kitchen table.

On another more recent vacation, a woman in front of me in line at airport at check–in, as she was checking in, realized that no one brought her dress. A call home to a neighbor (over an hour away) confirmed it was still hanging in their living room.  She went into complete panic mode as a good Samaritan tried to reach the airport before the flight took off. How could they forget this big dress hanging right in front of them? The reason why they are going on the trip?

Travelling is something that can be stressful, especially if it is for an important event, or if travelling is something you do not do often.  And quite honestly most things you can buy in resort if you forget them.  My advice is, a month before you go – make a check–list! It can be rather small but list the things you need to have when you leave for the airport. Check the list before you shut the car door and don’t assume anyone has done anything on that list for you.

And don’t forget:

1 – Passport – You are not going anywhere without it.

2 – Paperwork for your service.   You will have planned this well in advance, but ensure you have any paperwork the wedding coordinator or judge or celebrant advised you need.

3 – The DRESS. Please, please, please don’t forget the DRESS

 

The flip side of a Destination Wedding…I’ve been invited, should I go?

 

So you are so excited that your son/daughter/cousin/friend/niece/nephew got engaged! You are very happy for the beautiful couple.  They then announce that they are having a Destination Wedding! How exciting!

Your opinion is about to come right out of your mouth. STOP and think before you say anything and remember these simple tips.

1 – Think before you give your opinion. The bride and groom may be having a Destination Wedding because that is what THEY have dreamed about their entire life.   It is the Bride and Grooms wedding, not yours.

2 – Make a decision if you can go and stick to it.  There are a lot of factors to decide on, such as, can you afford it? am I physically able to go? can I get off of work? Make a decision and let the bride and groom know. The number of guests they have will lend to different locations and venues within the resorts where they can schedule their events. They need an accurate # of guests.  The sooner they know this number, the better.

3 – Don’t complain! Don’t decide to go and then tell everyone about the sacrifice you are making. You are an invited guest and don’t let your comments make it back and upset the bride and groom.

4 – Don’t get up the next morning after the wedding and look for the bride and groom. Leave them alone!  I am speaking from experience here. They day after my wedding I had at least 10 people call or knock on our door to say good bye and tell us what a great time they had.

5 – Do enjoy yourself.  Reconnect with friends and family. Take advantage of the extended time with loved ones.  A Destination Wedding is no ordinary wedding.  Go with the flow and have a great time!

 

With Apple Vacations – It’s Always Summer!

In Mexico and most of the Caribbean the weather differential is not as drastic as it is in the Mid – Atlantic region. For example, the winter months, Cancun is usually in the high 70’s to low 80’s and in the summer, it is in the 80’s and 90’s. Today’s forecast in Cancun is 88 degrees.

But, you can really experience summer any time when you travel to Mexico and The Caribbean.

Many vacationers like to plan a vacation to Mexico & the Caribbean, because that is when it is cold in their hometown. They want to escape the snow and freezing temperatures.  It makes sense and it is definitely Apple Vacations busiest time of year. Who doesn’t want to post beach pictures and send updates of them enjoying the sun while their friends and family are home in the cold?  I know I love to.

But don’t forget, summer is also a great time to take a vacation to Mexico and the Caribbean. The days are longer – giving more daylight for beach-time, pool-time, activities and excursions.  The kids are out of school, so it is a perfect time to take families without missing school days.  Also, because there are more children in resort in the summer, they typically plan more activities to keep the kids entertained.

If a family vacation is not your speed, there are plenty of Adults Only Resorts waiting for you this summer with great deals in Mexico & the Caribbean.

No matter when you travel, with Apple Vacations – It’s Always Summer in Mexico & the Caribbean.  

Check out these great deals and see if any fit into your vacation plans:

We have rates up to 50% off currently to select Secrets Resorts and Spas and great rates also to Iberostar Hotels & Resorts. Click here to see them and other great summer vacation options.