Sabor by Wyndham Resort - Cozumel, Mexico


First off, we had an awesome time! Thank you so much for working with Donna so we could experience such an amazing trip!!! The room we had was really nice/clean and spacious and was on the 3rd floor and all balconies had a hammock. I heard that for like $20 more a night we could have stayed on the 1st floor which has a wading pool right off of your balcony and then a water slide to the main pool...that would have been very cool to stay in! The sports director was fun and got people involved to play tequila water volleyball...we played that everyday! The restaurant for the Sabor hotel was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We tried the other restaurant at Wyndham and it was good (Vista Del Mar) but didn't like that you had to make reservations for dinner and it really wasn't in our control...we ate at 9pm like every night which is really too late. Some people we met couldn't even eat anywhere for dinner due to the restaurants filling up (3 to pick from) and they had to eat at the Wyndham buffet or snack bar and both of those and I hate to say this were awful...both were disgusting and I was glad that both of those were not associated with our Sabor hotel. The room service at the Sabor wasn't too bad for us (meaning ordering food), but 2 other couples we were with complained that it took 2 hours to get lunch and/or dinner. Ours only took about 35 mins each time, so I am not complaining about that. Other than that, the spa was really nice, our snorkeling trip was really fun, going into town was lots of fun. Both resorts were clean and the beaches were nice, overall I would say you should definitely recommend the Sabor Wyndham to others, but I wouldn't recommend just the Wyndham hotel to others that have kids.











~ Nicole



Hilton Mission Valley Hotel - San Diego, CA


My husband and I visited San Diego for a long weekend in May 2009 and stayed at the Hilton Mission Valley Hotel in Mission Valley. The hotel offered a $120 rate for the hotel, breakfast for 2, free parking, and free Internet. That was a great deal for us since breakfast was about $15-$20 per person and parking was $14 per day, so it was nice to get that all free.


The hotel was not bad, and it was located in a convenient location. It was across the street from a shopping mall and a lot of restaurants. It is located about 3 1/2 miles northeast of downtown San Diego and 6 miles from the airport. You could get almost everywhere you wanted to go between 10-15 minutes. We checked out Mission Beach, Downtown, Sea World, La Jolla, and a few other beaches in the area. Overall, we had a very nice stay and would stay here again to save money.













~ Michelle

Crowne Plaza La Concha - Key West, Florida


We recently went for a long weekend in late March to Key West. The weather was wonderful. Spring is a perfect time in Key West. 80's during the day but a little cold at night, 50's. Bring a jacket. We went with friends who have traveled Europe, the Caribbean and most of the US, but had never been to Key West. What a wonderful destination. On the second night our friends called Key West, New Orleans without the crime, fifth and smell and asked each other why it took them so long to get here. I would add Key West has what New Orleans has to offer and much more.


We flew to Key West this time. While you can fly into Miami and drive down, it is much faster to fly and once you arrive on Key West take a taxi. You do NOT need a car on Key West. Everything is within walking distance.


While the beaches are not the greatest, there is Smathers Beach which is nice with the bluest Caribbean waters, definitely not New Orleans. Plus you have every water sport imaginable that can not be found in New Orleans. We saw one group that circumnavigates Key West daily on Jet Skis and you can fish, sail, snorkel, dive, etc. They are many places to visit, Hemingway's Home, The Southern White House during President Truman's days in office, Mel Fishers Achoca Ship Wreck Treasures Museum, but if you are new to the island you have to do the Conch Train. This narrated tour last about an hour and a half and shows you the whole island and it stories. While on the Conch Train you will see areas of Key West you would like to return for further exploration.


We stayed at the Crown Plaza right in the middle of Duval street and right in the middle of all the action. The Crown Plaza is the only high rise on Key West at a staggering seven stories tall. They have a good roof bar called The Top and a great place to watch sunset from. There are many great hotel choices in Key West and you could really not go wrong. During the day we hit the pool or the beach. But it is at night when Key West comes alive. At least two nights you have to go to Mallory Square. It is all about the Sunset. Go at least an hour before sunset, if you want to see all the action. It is a block long water front area on the west side of the island and a perfect place to watch sunset. In Mallory Square they have many street performers, most notable of which is the Catman,. This wacky Frenchman has taught cats how to perform, jumping through flaming hoops to amazing leaps of faith. He has been there over 20 years and since we seen him he appears to have been smoking to much catnip, if you know what I mean. What a showman, strange, but a showman none the less. They guy on the 10' tall unicycle is the best act on at Mallory Square and have also been there over 10 years. Grab a cold alcoholic beverage at the Square, catch the acts and wait for sunset.


Now it is time to hit the streets. The thing to do now after sunset is called the Duval Crawl. Oh yes, you can drink on the streets of Key West. There is every type of food and music imaginable and some unimaginable. You have to try Conch (pronounced KONK) Fritters. The Conch is that giant slug that comes out of a Conch Shell. Can you say Giant Escargot? As you wonder the streets you will hear every kind of music. Stop, sit down have a drink relax, you’re in Key West. Some of our favorite stops are Sloppy Joe's, where Hemingway use to hang out, Hogs Breath, Papa Tony's, Jimmy Buffets first Margaritaville and Schooner Wharf Bar down by the boat harbor. You have to eat at the Conch Republic right on the water in the harbor. They have all the great tastes on Key West and an award winning chef. Now you want to get a flavor of the locals try and find The Green Parrot Bar. It is off the main Duval street, but not far. There you will find where the locals hang for some great musical entertainment and people watching.


Enjoy Key West!


~ Edward

Breezes - Curacao, Netherlands Antilles (FAM Trip from Agency)


The good and not so good written on airplane on the way home.  The dive shop, Ocean Encounters, the people that work there are wonderful I would say the best I have ever experienced in all my diving. Very friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.


The food was much better than I expected which we were grateful. They did run out of items before they would ever replenish them however. Getting something to drink was not an easy task. At the buffet they have a fountain drink dispenser but most of the time no glasses. I was so glad I brought my own thermal cup with me. NO water just for when you get thirsty. They do have some occasionally in buffet. There really should be water bottles around or a water dispenser somewhere since it is hot there and you get thristy and you need to consider dehydration. You would have to wait in long slow lines to get a small and I mean maybe 5 ounces of any drink including water. I always bring my own thermal cup and they were not allowed to fill it and it is probably a 12 oz cup. I would have to order 2 drinks to get it partically full. I would say that was the biggest complaint I heard. It was very warm in October when we were there and you should never have to wait in lines for water. There was no service in the buffet which was ok but they would occasionally come by and ask if you needed anything and you would order some ice tea or a coke and it would not get there until after you were finished eating. We did get into all the Ala carte restaurants and they were very good and the service was also very good. The pool bar was also the only bar by the pool that everyone was trying to get a drink of even water at so the pool part never seemed to be opened. Never saw people drinking at the pool bar but standing there trying to figure out if they could get a drink there. The big thing we noticed is they run out of everything even glasses and plates and do not think ahead to replace until it is totally gone or you mention you need "more plates". Several times at the bars we had to wait on glasses so the lines just got longer. Seems that there is no planning head on food items that run out also. They don't replenish until totally out so you might go to eat and get what they have left and then see other people eating more favorable food. That was the 2nd negative that was most noticed. So food and beverage need more help or a way to oversee consumption or plan ahead so items can be replenshed before running totally out. At the bar grill if you did not get there at 12:30pm then you did not get anything but a hamburger. The people working the grill where however very nice as was the bar but running out of items is not exceptable to people that have been waiting in line. I found it very odd that at the grill they don't just have burgers, chicken, fish cooking when they open. Instead you have to place your order, they cook for a couple of people at a time and then wait on the next few and so on and so on so you can wait a long time to get your food. Personal was not a problem they were friendly I want to add but it is like they cant think ahead or have been told to not cook for more than a few people at a time.


The rooms were ok and some people had air condition problems. One actually ended up changing rooms ever after waiting 2 days for service on the original room. They were brought a fan to two rooms to help out. We have a nice patio, beds were hard but ok, a couchand plenty of drawer space. Bathroom had a big shower and great water pressure ( my friend made that comment twice) in it and a few of those little ant type bugs but they don't bite.


The activites are running all the time at the hotel so easy to find something to do. The only problem I would say is that we got an oceanfront room and we where in the middle of them until midnight each evening. The night time activites that are that loud should be moved to another place besides the pool area because some people like to go to bed early to go diving or they just want to go to bed before midnight. I will not stay in an oceanfront room again for that reason. It is very close to everything but also all the night time activities.


The resort was clean, we had plenty of towels, room cleaned daily, grounds are nice.


The beach are is great for swimming, lounging, snorkeling and diving. We did lots of shore dives here with Ocean Encounters and that was included in our stay. You can even take a resort course and learn to dive while there. Again, the staff was awesome. There are catamaran rides, water trykes, snorkle gear and even a floating water trampoline for guest. There is a trapeze on sight where you can take lessons also.


That was the long story.


The short : rooms were fine, food was good, hard to get something to drink, dive shop excellent, and suggest to get an oceanview room over an oceanfront if you want it to be quiet at night. I would stay there again but in an Oceanview room. Remember to bring my thermal cup and hope the ice maker is working. Food was good, diving was easy and good, plenty to do, great beach, and with some training on food and beverage service this place could be a 4 star resort. I would say 3 now because of this.


Needed improvements: Staff needs to be taught to think ahead and get food, plates, cups out before they run out. Need organizational skill improvement. Need water readily available throughtout the resorts and in rooms. Should not have to wait in long lines for a drink of water on a hot beach day! Need to upgrade their glasses to a regular size so you dont have to order 2 or more at a time just to quinch your thirst. Had to get ice from the bar so to have cold water in your room you still had to wait in line for ice. Icemakers were all broken and waiting on parts except on building on the other side of pool area.


Fans in the rooms would be a bonus. Some rooms air did not work all that good and it would still get hot if you were moving around much. It would be great if each room got a check over occassionally on the air and what needed to be fixed so if you did not have to deal with this while on vacation.


Late night entertainment needs to be moved to disco so anyone wanting to go to sleep early can without so much noise. The speakers were turned up very loud and could be turned down to help too. People with small children would have a real issue getting them to sleep.


Some sprucing up on the outside like painting was being done while we were there and it looks like that was being taken care of.


There were 6 of us girls on this trip that have traveled together for 20 years. I am a travel agent and we have been many many places and found this the oddest place for food and beverage service any of us have ever been to.


~ Diane

Grande Bay VRBO #281076 - St. John, US Virgin Islands


My husband and I arrived at this Grande Bay studio and fell in love with it. It had everything you needed for a week’s stay on the island. Mini fridge, dishes, utensils, beach chairs, coolers, ice maker, iron, blow dryer, beach towels, and little extras like sunscreens, lotions, toothpaste, etc. The view from the balcony was great. You are high enough to see straight over the front building and see the wonderful water and St Thomas. The listing for this condo is completely accurate, as are the photos. The property was well maintained and the owner is very quick at responding. I would recommend this studio to anyone staying in St John. You cannot ask for a better location. You can literally walk to all the restaurants and bars in Cruz bay in less than 5 minutes and Mongoose Junction in less than 10. You won't even need a car for most of your stay. Getting taxies are a 3 minute walk from the condo (right by the ferry pier). Some of our favorite places to eat were next door at the Banana Deck, then across the street at the Beach Bar, and of course Woody's. Woody's had the best food at the cheapest price. We ate there multiple days. Our favorite beach is Cinnamon Bay but we also recommend Trunk Bay. You can’t go wrong at any beach on St John though. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world trust me. Last helpful little hint, take a day trip over to Jost van Dyke. You won’t be disappointed. Check out Foxy’s for the “scene.” You might even run into Foxy himself, we did! Then head over to Soggy Dollar bar for some painkillers and a wonderful relaxing day at the beach.










~ Michelle

Customer Reviews

Palazzo Hotel - Las Vegas, NV


My husband and I stayed our other 2 nights at the Palazzo hotel. I won 2 free nights at the hotel at a FunJet Trade Show. We were very impressed with the Palazzo. It was beautiful and full of luxury. The casino was small, but quite generous. My husband hit 4 A's a few times on video poker.


The location of the hotel was not bad. Everything we wanted to do was within walking distance. It had a walkway to the Venetian hotel shops where you could go to the food court or see shows located at the Venetian. We saw the Blue Man group. It started out slow, but ended up being a good show overall.


As for the hotel room, it was better and bigger than your average hotel room. It was done in extreme luxury and had marble counter tops and a sunken living room. The curtains were on a remote control, along with many other features in the room. The bed was comfortable and the hospitality was great. When the bellman brought our bags to the room he asked us if there is anything about the hotel or the room we had questions on. He came in and showed us where everything was and how to operate it. Very nice feature. Overall, I would recommend this hotel to someone who wants a luxurious or more private vacation. It is also good for business travelers or conventions.





















~ Michelle

Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino - Curacao, Netherlands Antilles


My wife and I just returned from a week vacation in Curacao at the Marriott. We had a great time! I used my Marriott points for the entire vacation. I was a little concerned by some reviews that since I wasn't a "paying" customer, we might not be treated as well, but that was definitely not the case. The Marriott is a beautiful resort all around - the pool, the landscaping, the lobby, the restaurants, the beach - everything.


As most people have already noted, it may be time for some renovations on the rooms themselves. They're not bad by any means, but you can tell this isn't a brand new resort. I've stayed in Residence Inns in the States that were very similar as well. Personally, I thought our room (#106) was perfect. Even though it was a resort view room, you could easily see the ocean and beach from our porch area, which was just steps away from the sand. Heads up- the maid service comes 2-3 times a day, so be sure to keep all valuables in the safe just to be on the safe side.


Everyone else is also right about the snorkeling right off the Marriott Beach - it is awesome! It's very comparable to snorkeling we've done in Cozumel. Tons of fish of all kinds on the reef right in front of the resort. The beach is very nice. We never had a problem finding some chairs, although if you want to camp out under one of the huts, you have to get there earlier. We brought some water shoes as most people have recommended, but I didn't really think they were needed. Especially if you enter the water right by the Boardroom Beach Bar, there are hardly any rocks and it is all sandy.


Definitely take advantage of the daily happy hours at the Seabreeze poolside bar (4:00-5:00) and the Boardroom beach bar (6:00-7:00). Normally, with drinks about $7 and after tax, service charge (10% - 15% everywhere on the island), and tip, you're gonna spend about $10 a drink. So during these half price happy hours, you can actually enjoy some drinks at a "normal" price.


From other people's recommendation, we checked out Hook's Hut our second night. It's a fun place to hang out. The food is absolutely wonderful! We were quite surprised about how delicious their food was - we went back a couple nights later and tried different dishes, and they were great too! Just don't get in a hurry when you're there. Like most other places on the island, speedy service is not one of their specialties. We also went to the Curacao Sea Aquarium one day. It was OK, but I think a bit overrated. It's just not that big of a place, and you see it all very quickly. Downtown Willemstad in a nice place to walk around for a day. There are some nice places to eat in the Rift Fort area where the new Renaissance Hotel is located.


We only experienced one little "hiccup" at the hotel. Somehow, another guest was unhappy with their room and requested to be moved to another room, and our room number got caught up in the switch. On that day, his $55 bar bill was on my room account. I had kept all my receipt copies from all the restaurant / bar charges as well. The front desk lady quickly fixed this cross up, and we never had another problem. I thought the entire staff was very helpful and friendly all week.


All in all, we had a wonderful time at the Marriott in Curacao, and would definitely return to this resort when we have the chance.








 ~ Jesse

Marriott Ko’olina Resort – Oahu, HI


I have sat down to write this email several times, but only now have finished it...


First, I want to say that we had an excellent time. It was long enough to have a relaxing pace to our whole trip and we did a ton of stuff. We never had that 'I am ready to go home' feeling.


The hotel seems like it is really a 4-star. I say that not to deflate you or to alter your opinion of your purchase, but to just prepare you for what you are going to get. I think mostly, you are paying for the lagoons. They are exceptional, almost like a giant salt water pool. We have stayed in a 5-star at the Omni in Austin and it was a step above this one. I would say the view is nice and the balconies are super. The furniture in the rooms was not anything to write home about and the bed kinda sucked.


We ended up staying on the 7th floor, room 726. We had a nice sunset view and were above the tree line. I think the 6th floor would have sucked for a view. We were on the west side of the building. If you look at the picture of the hotel from the lagoon, there are cascading terraces on the left. We are behind that section, overlooking a gazebo and the ray pond. The thing that was kind of annoying about that side of the building is that there is an event place down on the beach that has spotlights and the events have loud music. One night we had to listen to late 80s hits all night. The good thing about that side is that they have construction on the other side of the hotel where they are building a Disney resort.


We took the valet parking. I am not sure if parking it yourself is better. I got to where I wasn't tipping except on arrival, and I was only tipping two dollars. I did tip a lot when the guy took our bags when we first got there.


We arrived in HNL at 11ish and made it to the hotel at like 1pm. We didn't have a room until 3:30 as they seemed to bungle that one. We ended up being up for over 24 hours! We stayed up as late as possible, just to get used to the time change faster.


As for a gift, I am not sure what that means, but we did get a of fruit as one thing, and a bottle of champagne, strawberries and yogurt as another gift. I am hoping that is what they meant.


We thought we read that the wifi was free in the lobby; it is not. It costs $12.95 a day just like the network in your room.


The first thing I would tell anyone going to Hawaii is they should get a book from the 'Revealed' series of books on the island. We think 'Oahu Revealed' was the best thing we could have ever done.


On the west side of the island, in Waianae, further west on the highway than the hotel is a restaurant called Tacos and More. While it doesn't look like much, it had inexpensive food and drinks and is only about 15 minutes from the hotel. The mexican food is authentic and the service is exceptional. We went twice. Closed Sundays.


One exit up (exit 1a/b) from the hotel at Ko'Olina is a shopping area that has every modern convenience: a Costco and a Target. The mini-fridge was empty (we had to set it colder), so we purchased juice, pb&jelly, cold cuts, beer etc. A big purchase was a bottle of vodka from Costco. We didn't drink it all, but made a serious dent in it. We also got granola bars and two cases of water. We just about finished both cases of water during our 12 days. The water costs a little more than 2x what we pay here, ~$8.50, its imported! Also, there is a Safeway, a Zippys, Chili's, Subway and a McDonalds, not to mention some smaller places. I love Zippy's. We ate there the most, either there or in Honolulu. There is also a post office drop box near the Subway. Get gas at the Costco. Costco has water gear as well; purchasing it is cheaper than renting and the prices were the cheapest we found.


Polynesian Culture Center--we were disappointed in the PCC. I would say that part of the problem was we went on a Monday--we must have gotten the second string. It was kind of dull. I think the Samoan guy we watched was the best part and he later led the fire dancing group, which was awesome.


Some other highlights of our trip:


The Sky Tonight

The planetarium at the Bishop Museum has a program two Fridays a month called 'The Sky Tonight.' Essentially, a guy will walk you through what constellations can be seen in the sky over the course of the evening, then you go on the roof to look through his $2,000 telescope. You can also look through the planetarium's telescope at whatever you want. It costs $6ea and you have to make advanced reservations. We saw the rings of Saturn and I believe Io, one of its moons. I found this in the events calendar in Hawaii magazine before we left.

http://www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium/skytonight.html


Doris Duke's Shangri La

Doris Duke's winter home is open to the public for tours. Its well worth the $25 ticket to see her collection of Islamic art and the architectural pieces. The tour fills up fast, so it is wise to get your tickets before you go. I cant even describe how amazing this was!

http://www.shangrilahawaii.org/


Honolulu Academy of Arts

When you purchase the tour above, you also get free admission to the museum. We felt like we didn't have enough time to see all of the museum and we got there about when it opened and our tour was at 2pm. The collection of art from Asian cultures is excellent and as an added bonus, we ate in the modestly priced open air restaurant. We thought this was well worth it and are interested in going back and spending a full day there to see everything at a more leisurely pace.

http://www.honoluluacademy.org/cmshaa/academy/index.aspx


Walking Ghost Tour of Oahu

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, this tour was really enjoyable. They take you to several downtown sites and you learn lots of history about the islands. It was a lot of fun.

http://www.oahughosttours.com/tour.htm


Foster Botanical Garden 

I went here the last time I was in Oahu, circa May 1996. This place is beautiful. They have a newer green house with a wide variety of Orchids and a lot of really old/tall trees. Takes about two hours. Bring mosquito repellent.

http://www.honolulu.gov/parks/hbg/fbg.htm


Hike Diamond Head

This was a beating, but worth the view. Took us about 2 hours, with about 30 minutes at the top. Bring plenty of water and good shoes!

http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/index.cfm?park_id=15


Other things we did was go and see the turtles on Turtle Beach at the north shore. We went twice up that way. Don't forget drink margaritas at Cholos or get the best burger ever at Kua Aina.


Kona Brewing Company in the Koko Marina Shopping Center. The beer is fantastic and the food is pretty good. We went twice because it was so fun. Go at happy hour and the beer and certain appetizers are half off. The service gets kinda mediocre if its super crowded.


All in all, we had an excellent time. We didn't want to leave! I think when we go with kiddos, we will probably stay there, although I am interested in seeing the other islands. We are looking to go again in 2-3 years.


Thanks for helping us out!


~Michael

Excellence Playa Mujeres, Cancun Mexico


The honeymoon was excellent. Everything went smoothly as planned. The Excellence Resort was the best we had ever been to. The rooms, pools, service, drinks, etc were amazing. The only downfall was the food, it was only so-so. We never went hungry though. We are already thinking about going back next year. Thank you so much for helping us find that place and making all the reservations for us. It was a great experience and we couldnt have done it without you.


~ Clay

Riu Palace Punta Cana - Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (Wedding)


My name is Corryn Vigue. My wedding was June 1, 2013 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. My husband and I decided that we wanted a destination wedding, but didn't know how to go about it. I myself, did not know anything about an all inclusive resort let alone planning a wedding. Michelle Tarbush was referred to me via my friend who also did a destination wedding set up by her. After speaking to Michelle for the first time, I felt completely comfortable about what this would entail. She was very understanding and patient with me, and then again with my crazy family and friends booking each trip. The first move would be to get in touch with a hotel that could accommodate the amount of people we were expecting. I didn't have to worry about any of this. Michelle was able to pick a resort and go through the appropriate people with the date and time we wanted for our perfect wedding based on the converstaions that we had over the phone. Once everything was booked the hotel coordinator for my specific hotel arranged a meeting with my husband and myself. The meeting was for when we arrived at the hotel and we did the rest of the final wedding arrangements in person a couple of days before the wedding. A month before we left for the trip Michelle did a great job going over little details with me. Any remaining questions I had she was able to answer, as well as, give me a final count for the guests at my wedding. Over all I had a pleasant experience working with Michelle. She was very knowledgeable and if there was a question I asked that she didn't know right away she would find out the answer and get back to me very quickly. I would recommend that everyone have a destination wedding. I would suggest that they talk to Michelle Tarbush she is willing to work with venders to make it easy for you and price match for the best deal possible. Here are some pictures of my wedding, thanks to Michelle who was able to help set this all up.


~Corryn



Marriott Coronado Island Resort – San Diego, CA


This three story resort is spread along the Coronado Island water front facing Downtown San Diego. Most rooms facing the water offer nice views. It has a wonderful pool and bar outside with Tennis Courts and a great quite walkway along the San Diego Bay, but the bar inside and restaurant tried to go for the Feng Shui look, but left out the Feng. There are a lot of dinning choices on the island and you are not far from the beach, but it is a drive. You can take a Ferry from the property right to downtown San Diego that runs every half hour, to many restaurants and shops. All in all, for a little more money, I wish we would have stayed at the Hotel del Coronado not far away and on the beach.


~ Mike

The Royal in Cancun, Mexico


On entry to the Grand Lobby your bags are swept away and you are met with cold towels and directed to the check in desk. Quite an impressive entrance!! During check in they bring you a glass of champagne. After check in you meet your designated concierge, who tells you about the times of the shows each night, guides you through the hotels many attributes and helps you make dinner arrangement at one of the many restaurants for the entire stay or you can opt to get back to them with your decisions after you look around. The show the first night was a Mexican/Spanish style dance review about an hour long on the beach, followed by a DJ and dancing. We ate right on the beach while watching the show and the food was cooked in pots hanging over an open fire and on grills. What a great food presentation buffet style. Entertainment the second was a 50’s style dance review.


We opted after dinner and the show for a walk across the street, to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. What a blast. The waiters are part of the slapstick style dance show and then a live band. We have been to many Margaretville’s and this one by far was the best time ever, though smaller than most. We will go back, before we leave Cancun. Go from 8 to midnight for the fun. After midnight it is a so so Disco. Walked the beach to Hard Rock one day and it took about 30 minutes. Took a taxi back to the hotel after a few drinks, $9 US + $2 tip, check!


Now back to The Royal. We got a corner King Suite with Jacucci for two in the room with a wrap around balcony, with views up and down the beach. The room also has a large two person shower, check! The beach is large and the sand is like sugar. Cancun has the bluest clearest water of anywhere in the world. There are lounge chairs in the pool and personal cabanas everywhere, both pool and beach. However, if you want one of the primo spots, you should be up by 6AM or earlier to put your marker on the chairs (hat, book, flip flop, etc) you want them for the day.


Amenities

Large Beach with sugar white sand, one of the best in the world, check!

Sand Volleyball, check.

Water Volleyball, check.

Jet Skis close by, not included.

Parasailing close by, not included.

Hammock on most balconies, check!

Premium Booze included, check!

Huge Pool and only 3’ to 4’ deep, nice and warm, check!!

Swim Up Bar, check!

Lounge Chairs in the water, check!

Personal Cabana’s included, check!

Swim Up Bar, check!

Wifi in Suites, check!

Swim Up Bar, check!

All Inclusive food and drinks, check!

Adult only. We saw three weddings in one day and many honeymoon couples. As many as 1/3 of the guests were from England, Ireland and Scotland.


Restaurants & Bars

Great bar and food options

Coffee Bar, nice!

Martini Bar, check!

Wine Bar, check!

Sports Bar, kinda, go across the street to Bubba Gumps or Outback for better Sports TV Bars.

Swim Up Bar, HECK!!!!!!! Meant to say HECK, check.

Room Service Menu, diverse.

Pelicanos Beach Restaurant – OK for breakfast and lunch. They try to get to artsy with the meals.

Spice – The place to go for Breakfast. Omelets, waffles, French toast, all made to your liking and a large buffet.

Asiana – Excellent, Asian cuisine as the name suggests!

Chef Plate – It is dining for only 18 people, with the Chef and one waiter. Classy, style dinners was like sitting at the Captains table on a ship. This Seven Course Meal is preset and offers no options or selection, unless you are a vegetarian. It was a beautiful dinner.

Maria Marie – We heard was great, but could not get a reservation.


Overall Opinion

5 Star Hotel, well 4 ½ in our book, but is absolutely fantastic. You cannot beat the Hilton Waikoloa on the Big Island, Hawaii, if the Royal Cancun is 5, Waikoloa is 6 STARS!!!. However, The Royal Cancun is a lot closer than Hawaii, so the cost to get here is less and food and drinks are included. Would stay here again, DOUBLE CHECK!!!!!!


Note

The shuttle services to the hotel area, called Lomas, are very nice air conditioned vans. However, a NON STOP only means you are the first to be dropped off at your hotel. It DOES NOT mean they will not wait for 20 minutes or more until the van is full. Next time we will pay for a private vehicle.


~ Edward

Rio Hotel - Las Vegas, NV


My wife and I stayed at the Rio hotel one night just to try it out (March 5, 2009). We also wanted to go to the Voodoo bar and what better way to go to a bar than at the hotel you are staying at. Even though the Rio was a little bit off the strip, we still loved it and would stay there again.


When we arrived at the Rio we had to wait in line about 20 minutes to check in (and it was about 10pm) which was horrible, but once we got to the counter it all seemed to go away because they upgraded us to one of their better suites. We were very excited because we only paid $60 and we got this amazing corner suite. Needless to say, when we walked in the room we were AMAZED. This suite was awesome and we wish that we had it for more than one night. It was bigger than most hotel suites and since it was a corner room we had views of the Las Vegas Strip and the mountains. Spectacular views! The room had flat screens, a bar, dining table, 1 1/2 bathrooms, spa tub overlooking the strip, a huge rain shower, and even TV's and radio in the bathroom. I have provided pictures below for you to see.


We didn't spend much time in the casino because once we got our room we changed and then headed straight to the VooDoo bar. We had a wonderful time. The bar was nice and the crowd was not out of control. We went outside to check it out and the rooftop terrace is HUGE. We took a few pictures and then ran back inside...it was too darn cold and windy. The views of the strip from outside were to die for. We wished it was warmer because it was way too beautiful out there. We will definitely go back there once it is warmer. It's a must see while in Vegas.











~ David


Treasure Island Hotel - Las Vegas, Nevada


Having stayed at Treasure Island for years we have come to love it and we have stayed at almost every hotel on the Strip. There are many pluses. First, they are right in the middle of the strip. If you decide to go downtown to the old Vegas, you are not far. It is a short taxi ride. You can walk across the street to the Venetian - Palazzo and Wynn and you are next door to Vegas' largest Mall. You can also take the Tram in the back of the hotel to go to the neighbor property The Mirage. Treasure Island was bought out in April 2009 from the MGM Group and to us the slots and play were looser. We got to take home more. The Pirate Show has been changed again. It is the longest running live free show in Vegas and hundreds arrive for each performance. If you are staying at Treasure Island, ask for the VIP area and show your room card. Our favorite food stops while in the hotel are the Kahunaville grill and the Isla Mexican Kitchen. Kahunaville has the Strips Best Flair Show, great island appetizers and free entertainment at night. If it is entertainment you desire you must see the first Cirque Du Soleil show on the Strip, Mystere. Mystere is still one of the best Cirque Du Soleil shows. The pool has a great island feel, but if it sun you desire go early, it fills up. We also recommend you ask for a room that faces the Strip South. It is the best view of the entire strip right down Las Vegas Blvd. Hey it's Vegas. If you don't ask, you won't get it. Enjoy!


~ Mike

Grand Sierra Hotel - Reno, NV


Grand Sierra Hotel - Formerly the Hilton. This hotel has been remodeled and is beautiful. It has a great SPA and exercise room. The food is great and the buffet is one of the best. It's connected to convention center, which makes it convenient. The hotel is close to the airport.


~ Pat

Riu Palace Riviera Maya - Playa del Carmen, Mexico


The trip to Playa del Carmen on October 1st was great. The flight was good and didn't take too long. The transportation to the hotel was adequate. As it was a large van that held about 12 to 15 people, we had a couple of other stops prior to getting to our hotel. The hotel - RIU Palace Rivieria Maya was beautiful. The service including the food and drinks were great. They had a nice beach, beautiful pool with a swim up bar and the rooms were very nice. The weather was good with a few showers and one downpour (luckily during the night). The time passed way to quickly. I would recommend staying a couple of days longer than our trip as you just start relaxing and its time to come home. We will definitely be going again.


~ Cindy


Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino


Lobby/Check-in/Casino

We arrived at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino 28 May 2010. The hotel has a very nice entrance and is a welcoming site after 8 hours of travel. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a glass of champagne. Check-in was pretty quick and we were upgraded to a partial ocean view room. We rented a car, which I highly recommend to get around the island, and parking at the hotel is free. The lobby was recently renovated and is very nice. The casino is connected to the lobby, though at the far end from the front desk. The casino is smoky, but what casino isn’t? We did not notice smoke anywhere else in the hotel. The casino was surprisingly large with many new slot machines and a good amount of table games. Above many of the table games were televisions, which is something that we didn’t expect as they’ve only begun to have these in Las Vegas. Cocktails in the casino were free when playing, which was nice. The casino did have $5 tables, which was nice and they also had a live band late at night over the weekend.


Room

Our room was on the north side of the north tower on the 6th floor (#650) and faced some construction, which will be the new Ritz-Carlton. The view of the beach was very nice. The higher room number you have, the farther down the hallway your room will be, meaning you will be closer to the ocean and have a better view. I would recommend trying to get a room on the highest floor possible and odd-numbered if you would like a view of the pool as well as the ocean. The patio’s are said to be the largest on Aruba and are very nice. Each has two chairs and a small table with plenty of room to spare. As for the inside of the room, it is very upscale. The bed was very comfortable and the television was a flat-screen. There is a desk with internet connection and a connection for you to display computer images through the television. The internet was about $15 per day, but worked well and was not too slow at all. There is also a small couch with coffee table. The bathroom was spacious with a double vanity and nice toiletries. The room also had a small wet bar which included a small refrigerator. I liked the room very much. It felt very new and comfortable.


Restaurants

There are multiple restaurants at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. We only ate at a few of the resort restaurants and tried to get out using our car to eat as much as possible. At the hotel, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse was very good. They had a full dinner meal for 2 persons for $99, which was very good. The sushi in the lobby was pretty good, though we felt we’ve had much better. Waves, which serves the beach and pool area, looked to have a good food menu, but we only ordered from the Waves “liquid” menu. Waves also had a happy hour from 3-5p and the lobby bar in the hotel has one from 4-6p. There is a dinner you can do on the beach, but it seemed crowded and lacked the romantic atmosphere due to all the beach-goers and kids. I would recommend renting a car and driving to nearby restaurants or walking to some of the closer ones. For instance, Hadicurari and Moomba Beach were both in walking distance and pretty good for their prices (much less than the resorts). Also, Smokey Joe’s, Iguana Joe’s and Charlie’s Pizza were all neat places to eat and not far by car. There were plenty more restaurants that we weren’t able to get to, but looked good, so I’d highly recommend getting out and checking them out if you can.


Pool

The pool area at the hotel is very nice. The pool is resort style with a waterfall, swim-up bar and volleyball net. There is a decent size area of space to lay in the pool that is only a few inches deep, which is nice to stay wet and cool out in the Aruba heat. The sun in Aruba is intense, so be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen with decent SPF ratings. The swim-up bar was nice and had Happy Hour specials every day from 3-5p. There were plenty of lounge chairs around the pool and a good bit of them had umbrellas if you needed a break from the sun. Towels were easy to get but you had to get them near the beach area.


Beach

My favorite part of the hotel is the beach. The hotel has probably the nicest beach on Palm Beach, partially b/c it is the last hotel on the beach (until the Ritz Carlton is built). There are an abundance of palapas on the beach. Some of them you have to rent ($20 per day), unless you want to get up very early to reserve one for free. We chose to just pay the day before. This allowed us to get a great hut at the front of the beach. If you’re planning to spend most of the day on the beach, you’ll need one of these huts. The heat is intense. The sand on Palm Beach is powdery white and very soft. The water is very clear and light blue. For being such a massive and long beach, I’ve never seen water more calm anywhere in my travels. There are basically no waves and no current. It is perfect for just relaxing. My only complaint about the beach is all the water sports that are going on off shore. The noise isn’t too bad, but it would be so much better if they weren’t there or farther down the beach where no hotels are. The boats and jet-ski’s also make the water more cloudy than it really is, which isn’t too bad because the snorkeling is not good off of the beach. Even so, the water is still so light-blue and clear, it’s amazing. If you want to snorkel, take the Jolly Pirates cruise. They’re a great crew and take you to 3 great snorkeling spots. The food and drinks were great and the crew really made the guests enjoy their time. Try the rope swing!


Service

From the warm welcome to our departure, the staff at the hotel were all very friendly and helpful. We were always greeted with a smile and a “Hello.” I believe the people of Aruba are naturally friendly and easy-going as we were treated kindly throughout our trip at and away from the hotel.


I would highly recommend this hotel if you find your way to Aruba!










~ David

Iberostar Cozumel - Cozumel, Mexico (Agency Review)


Just got back from Iberostar Cozumel. It was my first actually stay at the hotel. Visiting it years ago I was impressed with the beauty of it and finally had the opportunity to stay there. The hotel is set on the south end of the island and the last hotel before you get to the light house at the end of the island. It is an Eco friendly resort. The place is crawling with wildlife. Flamingos, turtles, tons of iquanas, and all kinds of birds. We saw parrots in the lobby visiting people and a macaw up in the trees near the lobby also. They are free to walk and fly where they want to be.


The pool is the center of activity. Large pool with swim up bar, volley ball net and lots of people watching going on there. The beach is one of the better ones in Cozumel. Lots of lounge chairs with plenty of shade to get out of the sun. It is an actually a walkable beach area and you can walk down to Allegro and Occidental or if you go the other way past a couple of beautiful beachfront homes. They have a beach bar and I did see a waiter getting drinks for someone there but I never saw one on the beach myself. The pool bar was generally full of people when we walked past.


Food: buffet for breakfast, lunch, dinner and 3 Ala carte restaurants. We managed to get a reservation one night that a friend got for us (since you have to sign up during dive times 9am - 1pm) We ate at the Mexicana restaurant and it was very good. The service was great and it was rather warm inside of it. Not really air conditioned but not outside so that could be improved. The hotel did not really have air conditioned restaurants. The food was a variety on the buffet and was just buffet food. Plenty of choices so you could get full. They had my favorite coconut ice cream so I never would complain about dessert.


Rooms: Small rooms with 2 beds and I have had harder but they were not soft. TV had more stations than normal in English I have experience at other hotels in Cozumel. The bathroom was nice. It had a window in it so you had sunlight so that was a plus. It has a large shower with bath gel and shampoo dispensers. We were located right by the 540pm shop near the beach so that was a plus. The rooms are all scattered on the property from the front to the ocean in 4 plex buildings. 2 up and 2 downstairs. Each have a small patio or balcony with one chair and a hammock that is not really a great one for laying in. (looks better than it feels) Air conditioning....well ours did not work at all when we got there. The ceiling fan did and after we called someone was promptly there and put it back on for us. I think the problem was actually the thermostat so he just turned it where it would stay on or off. So it was on and off on and off cuz when it was on it was really cold air which is good!


Service: It was great. Very accommodating. Very helpful and friendly. You could have a late check out for $10 an hour so since our flight did not take off until in the evening we took advantage of that. This was my first time to fly with apple vacations. You do need to pick up a voucher for your transfers back to the airport so I was glad we asked the guy at the tour desk. He quickly wrote us up one and we were ready for our ride back to the airport.


The reefs are 5 minutes or less away or so it seemed. IT is great for divers. Loved being so close to the reefs. The currents this week are wild and we would do 2 to 3 reefs every dive. We wizzed by lots of cools stuff and saw lots of turtles, some nurse sharks, and even little sand twisters ! You could duck behind a cluster of coral and catch your breath and take a good look and then be on your way again until you could stop to see something interesting. The water was pretty full of sand since it was crazy current week. But we had a great time with Alex at Pelegic Ventures. We got lucky and it was just Kelly, Alex and I so we played hard and long. Longest dive was 95 minutes! That is another story for another time!


I would definitely stay there again but it is not for people who don't like to walk. It is a long ways between rooms, restaurants, lobby, and the beach. The grounds are georgeous and the wildlife was really a nice added touch. Dressel Divers is the dive shop at the hotel and most other Iberostars. It was full of people and students. They do one tank dives and come back to the hotel. I was really glad we went with our own dive shop so we got one on one service. Their boats were full and run by European staff to accommodate all kinds of languages you find at Iberostar hotels.












~Diane