This property sits next to the El Dorado Royale and Generations. It is nestled in the romantic setting of the coastline and the palms and beautiful gardens and pools surround it. This property shares the wonderful culinary experiences that I highlighted in the last blog for the El Dorado Royal as well. The outstanding accommodations at this resort are the shining stars here. The casitas give clients a very authentic and exclusive hideaway from the rest of the Royale property. Guests will enjoy a higher level of luxury and personal service. This is an adults-only resort is a perfect escape for couples, wedding parties, honeymooners, and small groups that like to travel together.
These intimate Casita Suites include private pools and Aqua del Amor, which are exclusive outdoor showers right within your personal suite. Guests have a personal concierge that will make their stay complete from providing restaurant and tour reservations and helping you arrange anything you need to make your stay more memorable. From the Gourmet Inclusive Experience, the memory foam pillows, and the customized signature scents in your suites are more of the highlights you can enjoy during your stay here.
When staying at this resort you guests can enjoy all restaurants and amenities at the neighboring El Dorado Royal and Generations, however they are not able to have access to the Casitas.
This property also has the largest spa of the three properties where guests can enjoy such experiences as the Water Journey and the Mayan Spa Ritual.
Between all 3 properties they can accommodate 12 weddings each day! There are 6 Bridal Suites above the spa and the brides can choose many options with Karisma’s Memorable Moments packages.
I was able to tour this lovely property and enjoy a fabulous lunch during my visit. Based on my experience guests will not be disappointed with dining venues at this property!
In fact, guests can enjoy complimentary Tequila Tasting each day at 2:30 and a wonderful highlight of this property is their Culinary Dinner experience! This gastronomic experience is included in your stay. This 3 hour culinary journey is located in a large theater like restaurant that features an open kitchen and large video screens for guests to watch the chefs preparing the meal. The chefs interact with the guests during the meal educating and celebrating the evening meal. The meal begins around 7pm and lasts until 9:30pm. Wine pairing is not included but can be added for $55 per person. There are three different menus through each week, so guests can enjoy this many times during their stay! Nearby guests at Generations may enjoy this experience, but it is limited to adults only. This would be good date night if a family is traveling together at Generations Resort.
Generations resort, El Dorado Royal, and El Dorado Casitas are all connected on this location. Golf carts run throughout all the properties for easy transfer services.
This resort sits on the beautiful beaches in Riviera Maya. This adults only resort will allow guests to rest and recharge. This the Mexican authentic beauty of this place and the Mayan Spa rituals that guests can enjoy in the Naay Spa. Water journey ritual, ancient Naay ritual, beachfront massage, and wedding spa rituals are some of the wonderful treatment experiences that guests can book while staying here. This was one of my favorite inspections and do intend to return and enjoy personally in the future!
I personally stayed here for 3 nights last September while touring many of the other Karisma hotel properties in Mexico. This boutique hotel is incredibly inviting, and the staff are very happy to assist you in any way. Upon our arrival we are asked to sit down in the main lobby area, and they offer us a mimosa, champagne, or water while they are getting our room details ready for us. When they brought over our room keys, they asked us to look at few items that they customize our rooms with. The first was the type of pillows we liked. They had selections for us to feel and we could choose more than one type as well. Then they had a selection of handmade soaps for us to have in our showers, again 3 different options for us to each choose and lastly the type of essential oil fragrance we would like to have on our pillows at turn down. These little things made the welcome even more special and the stay was wonderful!
There are only 148 suites at this property, making it very cozy. We never had to walk far to get to anything. 6 restaurants, 4 bars, 5 pools and a spa make this boutique resort shine. They also offer a Nickelodeon experience at their Azulitos Playhouse for those with young families.
One of our favorite spots was the tequila bar, Agavero. This bar allows you to try over 30 different house infused tequilas and there are optional premium tequilas that you can try at an additional expense.
Each morning I would wonder down to the Blue restaurant and enjoy a lovely breakfast while enjoying the warm breezes coming in from the Caribbean Sea. This open-air restaurant was the perfect place to wake up with a hot coffee and warm hospitality.
Rooms at this property are wonderful and there really is not a bad place to be at this resort. I do recommend anything that has a view of the ocean but if that is not in your budget it is a very short walk to get to that gorgeous beach. The rooms are spacious and offer large bathrooms with lots and lots of closet space. The resort offers many activities on property from beach volleyball to cooking classes. Nearby guests can enjoy swimming in cenotes, deep sea fishing, shopping in nearby Playa Del Carmen, or golfing. Of course, you could also do nothing at all but enjoy the ambience of this resort and renew your soul while you relax.
Would I consider going back to stay here again, yes. I would and I would recommend it to those wanting a smaller more intimate resort with a great beach and really good food.
Our first Karisma brand we are highlighting this week is the Azul Properties! These are family friendly and offer boutique hotels with adults only areas and Nickelodeon experiences for young families at some properties! These all-inclusive experiences, they call it Gourmet Inclusive® because it far surpasses any other all-inclusive. Escape where the pampering feels limitless, the ease is everywhere, and unforgettable playtime always pops up out of the blue. Enjoy accommodations that are designed for modern luxury. Savor gourmet discoveries at every meal. And watch time seem to slow down, just so you can soak up a world of perfect Caribbean moments.
Today we will look at Azul Beach Resort Negril by Karisma. This resort is located on the famous Seven Mile beach of Negril on the west coast of Jamaica. The Gourmet Inclusive® Experience is included on this property, and it features 283 ocean view rooms and recently added 147 suites in their Premium Section. This contemporary resort with that laid-back Jamaican feel is designed to allow couples, groups, wedding parties, families and friends from all generations to re-connect while enjoying the unlimited activities and services during their stay!
There are 6 Gourmet Inclusive® restaurants and 2 Gourmet Corners that every palate will enjoy! And no reservations required anytime! On property guests can also enjoy the Vassa Spa featuring over 9400 sq. feet of Zen and rejuvenating experiences! Guests may enjoy luxurious treatment suites including their signature Kids Suite offering Perfectly Pink Spa treatments to young female visitors, a Couple Suites, a Master Suite and a Bridal Suite for that special one in a lifetime experience. Vassa Spa also feature a boutique, Beauty Salon and Hydrotherapy facilities.
We hope more Karisma properties begin to appear in Jamaica as this is a wonderful addition to the Negril area!
Last week I was fortunate to travel on this beautiful new ship with Holland America Line! Here are a few highlights we enjoyed while on board!
Being that we were born in the 70’s, my husband and I really enjoyed the new venue, The Rolling Stone Rock Room! We found ourselves between here and the BB Kings Blues Club (also a favorite of ours) each evening!
The ship is beautifully decorated, and we really loved the artwork on board. From the glass sculpture by the casino of David holding a cell phone to the portraits of Frank Zappa, Dave Grohl, and Bob Dylan portrayed as old sailor uniforms. The music theme on this second Pinnacle Class ship is beautifully highlighted throughout the ship with art, design, and with the staff.
We stayed in a Vista Suite on this sailing. These cabins offer a little more square footage than a balcony cabin. We enjoyed the extra space and the large balcony. My husband likes to sleep in when we are on vacation, so I would get up and dress for the day, grab a piece of fresh fruit that was complimentary in our cabin and would sit out on the balcony each morning. There is nothing more refreshing than alone time on your private balcony watching the sun come up and the gentle roll of the waves. We also enjoyed the flat screen tv that was hung in front of the bed, as we like to watch all the just released movies at the end of our evenings on board many nights. I know this sounds silly, but we have been on many cruises and in cabins where the tv is position in places in the cabin where we can't seen it if we are laying in bed.
The staff on board was terrific. They all were the first staff on the ship and helped in the completion of the ship load in when she first sailed out from build. They are extremely proud to be part of all of that and it reflects in everything they do on board! We had great service throughout the ship but there were areas that they were implementing some new technology and I think it was slowing them down as it was new to them. Other than that, it was the same wonderful service we have come to love on Holland America Line.
I would recommend the Nieuw Statendam, or its sister ship, the Koningsdam, to any client looking for a great ship to sail on. I have a secret or two about these ships that I would be willing to share but only for those that are booking their cruises with us! We found a few gems that are definitely staying in my playbook for future Holland America Line cruises!
Our itinerary this week was round trip from Ft Lauderdale, and we visited Grand Turk, San Juan, St Thomas, and their private island Half Moon Cay. A great week out of the cold and in some wonderful Caribbean warm waters! A much-needed break from the office!
Yes, that seems to be the case. I recently had a client come to me with some travel planning and they asked if it is ok to book air through a certain online booking engine that I will not give the name of. I advised them that we can get the same air fare pricing if not less with our in-house air desk. I told them I would compare with the online engine and what we can get on our side as a courtesy to them. What I found was astonishing to me and I believe all clients should understand what they are getting into when they book their own air through a third-party online booking engine.
As I went through this third-party website, I noticed a few items that I thought would be helpful to give guidance on in this focused attempt to help our clients understand the value we bring to them.
Below is the screen shot of a portion of the check-out page on the third party site. Take a close look at the image below of what you see if you are on this site to finalize your air booking. Does it make you feel like you are not getting the best service for the price you are paying? Guess what, you’re not. In fact, this site feels that you should have to pay more to get great service. Isn’t that supposed to be included? And I really like how they term customer service as support.
They will only support you with the standard package for up to a $250 cancellation fee per ticket. What happens when the cancellation fee is over that amount? There is no jumping the queue in the standard service, which this sounds like long hold times is the norm at this company. But you can pay for it and then they will jump for you. Notice the fine print that says most people pick the top package to get the best service. Now I understand this is their business model, but what the heck! When did it become ok to have to pay for first class service (or support in this model)? But I digress.
The long and short of it, you get the standard limited customer service for free. However, for $12.95 per person you can purchase faster customer service and for almost $40 per person you can get the fastest customer service when something goes wrong or needs addressed. Does this bother you? It did me. Why does a travel planning service engine charge a client for customer service? Isn’t this what the travel industry is, a service focused industry?
The other item I saw was the price drop assurance. Most clients do not know this but when you purchase air it is non-refundable for most fare classes, excluding first and business. But you can cancel or change your air within that 24 hrs. with our air desk for no change fee. If you are flying Southwest, they will price match if the price lowers. This site will charge you for that same service to the tune of $5.99 per person. Again, their policy and they are a business but not clear to the consumer.
Here is where I toot our horn…When you book with Carson Travel you will only ever be charged a fee if you are booking air independently and that is for ticketing or if you decide not to take your trip after we have been doing travel proposals for you. We will never charge a client for service. I think this is the biggest slap in the face to the consumer. They are telling you that you are not good enough for good service, and you should have to pay for it. If a change in flights occurs prior to your departure, we receive a notice and let you know. If that flight change is unacceptable, we work with the airline to get the best option for you or change to different flights, until a solution is found. No fee needed. If something happens during your travel, and you give a call to help in getting you from A to B, we do our best to work with the airline schedules to get you the best option possible, as quickly as possible. Sometimes this is in the middle of the night and believe me when I say that we worry about you! We want you to have a wonderful trip and when air goes badly, which we almost never can control, we know how that affects the over mood of your travel.
What if you are booking your entire trip with more than one third-party online booking engines. They don’t talk to one another. If you booked your air through one online booking engine and your cruise with another, then you need to reach out to both. You will spend countless hours on the phone with both and will be exhausted and frustrated. When you book everything through one company, again preferably Carson Travel, we have your entire trip planning in house and we will do all that for you. No extra fee. And if you need to file a travel insurance claim, which more than likely you glanced over on the online booking engine, we file that on your behalf. And guess what, no fee.
You spend a lot of work days getting to your wonderful getaway. At Carson Travel we value you as a client and we want you to have a wonderful travel planning experience and travel experience. Any company in my view that asks you to pay them in order to feel that value is not worth your dollar. Why do you trust a third-party online engine that is telling you that you must pay for better service when you should get that complimentary? Something to consider when booking your travel on you own.
We are pleased to have partnered with Richland Source and their membership campaign! When you become a member with Richland Source, you will be entered into a drawing for a Carson Travel Gift Certificate for a land vacation, valued at $2500!
Richland Source is one the best venues we have for the latest updates on what is going on in our local community. Help support this local brand and you could possibly end up winning a great travel gift certificate!
To be entered, you need to become a member with Richland Source, fill out the associated travel survey, and BAM! Your entered in the drawing! Don’t wait, consider a Richland Source membership today! There are several levels to choose from. Then tell your friends and family! $2500 can be Disney World family vacation, an All-Inclusive Resort stay, a ski vacation, a honeymoon, or a weekend away with your best friends! The best part, you get to decide! The winner will be announced next February 2018! Just in time to plan that summer or late fall vacation!
Here is the link to see more about this wonderful opportunity!
Leigh Ann Arnholt
Planner, Traveler, Giver, and Strong. Love making great things come together for people!
Good Morning! We are getting a lot of questions about the Caribbean with the last two hurricanes devastating many of them. Today we received a great deal of information regarding all those that were affected. This should help in answering many of your questions about what is open and what is not. Many thanks to Mark Travel Corp for giving us this information! One of our preferred partners!
To Our Valued Travel Partners:
To those affected by either Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria, we want you to know that we are thinking of you and we are here to support you. As an organization that has been family owned and operated for over 43 years, we consider each of you to be a member of our extended family. And when tragedy strikes you, it strikes all of us as well. During these challenging times, we encourage you to keep the conversation going with your Business Development Manager or Specialist and rely on them for support with issues you and your clients may be facing.
For all our valued travel agents, we want to give you a brief update on the status of several Caribbean islands that were affected by the hurricanes:
Please note: Aruba, Bonaire, Bermuda, Barbados, Curacao, Grand Cayman, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis were not impacted by either Hurricane. All hotels are open for business and all off-site venues are operating normally.
The Mark Travel Corporation
Last week I was invited to a whirlwind tour of the Memphis Downtown. I was very surprised at the amount of changes and innovations that are happening in this wonderful city! I stayed at the Sheraton Downtown. This hotel was perfect location for any type of meeting or convention that may be going on. It is attached to the Memphis Convention Center and one of the benefits for our corporate clients is that when you contract with the Sheraton you can also contract with the Convention Center. The executive chef for Sheraton is also over the Convention Center and we had a chance to meet him and experience his wonderful "made from scratch" menu's a few times! Another benefit to contracting with them is you get him all to yourself for both properties!
The downtown itself is really reinventing itself. With the addition of the Bass Pro Shops in the downtown and the rich history of music and culture they are all coming together to make Memphis a new place that is full of wonderful experiences. We did get to tour the beautiful Big Cypress Lodge that is inside the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid. The rooms and conference meeting spaces are all rustically furnished and are spotless. Very clean and polished. This is a great venue for smaller meetings and groups!
I did get to enjoy the Memphis in May festivities. Reminded me of tailgating at OSU at times. I did enjoy it but I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I knew someone that was competing. That was an amazing experience where people from all over the world come in to compete in different BBQ competitions. Everything I ate was delicious! I highly recommend a stop at Central BBQ. Again a highly rewarded BBQ restaurant in Memphis. Melt in your mouth BBQ! We will be doing a group tour in 2018 to this area but for our corporate clients give us a call as Memphis could be your next great meeting location!
Leigh Ann Arnholt