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Montego Bay, Jamaica – May 2014 – Gina Baumgardner

Gina Baumgardner visited Jamaica last month on a FAM, to get familiar with several Jamaican properties. Here is a little about her trip, in her own words:

Where did you travel?

Montego Bay, Jamaica

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What dates where you there?

May 15 to May 19, 2014. Thursday to Monday.

How long did it take you to get there?

We took a Charter flight from Nashville so the flight took approximately 3 hours .

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Have you been there before? If so, when?

Yes, In October for a family vacation and two years ago visiting Sandals resorts.

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Tell a little about your trip.

The charter flight on Miami Air was probably one of the best flights I have been on. Staff was fun, complementary drinks, movie each way and it was on time! The flight times were perfect also if driving from Memphis. There was plenty of time to get to Nashville for the 12:00 pm flight on Thursday and we arrived back around 5:30 pm on Monday which allowed time to get home without it being very late.

We stayed at the RIU Montego Bay which was very nice! Great lay out of the property, very well kept, food was good, the entertainment was very good, the beach was nice and large with lots of palm trees. Beautiful large pool area. This resort is very close to the airport, it took us only 10 minutes to get to the resort. Note: Since so close to the airport Be aware that there are planes that fly over this resort occasionally.

I toured several All inclusive properties in Jamaica. Royalton White Sands, Iberostar Resorts, Secrets Wild Orchid, Secrets St James, Sunset Beach, Hilton Rose Hall, Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton and Jewel Runaway Bay.

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What was your favorite part?

As always The Beach and the Jamaican Hospitality are my favorite part of being in Jamaica.

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Anything else you want to add?

Would recommend RIU Montego Bay for a fun weekend getaway . It’s a great resort for singles, couples and families. Going Thursday to Monday was perfect. Of course I always want to stay longer.

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Riviera Maya, Mexico – May 2014 – Debora Forsythe

Debora traveled to the Riviera Maya last month for a FAM (to familiarize herself with multiple properties). Here is more about her trip, in her own words:

Where did you travel?

Riviera Maya….approx. 30 miles south of Cancun (approx. 45 minute ride)

What dates where you there?

May 15th – 18th

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How long did it take you to get there? 

2 ½ hours each way on the Vacation Express Charter flight!

Have you been there before? 

Yes, several times over the past 4 years

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 Tell a little about your trip and the resorts.

We stayed at the 1.  Grand Riviera Princess – (NOT adults only…but should be) 😉 Very nice large resort as far as the grounds and rooms with lots of walking….food & service was ok…..definitely a party atmosphere and they are not very good at cleaning up the trash on the beach or pool areas during the day.  Would only recommend this resort as a “singles” type of vacation or very budget conscious request.  Adults Only part of this resort opening Sept. 1, 2014.

2.  Riu Palace Mexico – Typical Riu with purple/gold/orange contemporary styles; nice beach located near Playa del Carmen!

3.  Playacar PalaceAdults Only – LOVED this resort…..great beach!

4.  Royal Playa del CarmenAdults Only – LOVED this resort and is very active and great beach too!

5.  Sandos Caracol (not Adults Only) – Very eco-friendly large resort; if they love animals and nature and like to walk a lot then this is their resort. 

6. Sandos Select (Adults Only) portion of the resort listed above.

7.  El Dorado MaromaAWESOME Adults Only resort; perfect for Honeymooners or Anniversary couple looking to chill and relax; not crazy active; very laid back – beautiful resort and beach.

8.  Iberostar Paraiso Grand – Adults Only – huge resort, very opulent, lots of walking to get to beach unless you stay in beachfront resorts located on the beach past main pool. 

9.  Valentin Imperial Maya – Adults Only – large resort – Mangroves between resort and beach so very limited view of beach, but LOVED this resort; very authentic Mexican Hacienda style of resort.

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 Anything else you want to add?

Highly recommend El Dorado Maroma; Royal Playa del Carmen; Playar Palace and Valentin Imperial Maya for sure!

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Maui, Hawaii – May 2014 – Sandy Brewer

Sandy Brewer, along with er husband, traveled to the beautiful state of Hawaii this month. Here is a little about their trip in her own words:

Where did you travel?


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What dates where you there?

May 13 – 18, 2014

 How long did it take you to get there?

14 hours from Memphis to Maui.

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Have you been there before?

Yes, 20 years ago

Tell a little about the resort.

We stayed at the Westin Resort and Spa on Kaanapali Beach. Great beach area. There are several hotels in that area that has a great beach such as the Sheraton, Marriott and Kaanapali Alli. The Hyatt was a beautiful property but the beach is not as large.

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What was your favorite part?

Loved going into the old town of Lahaina (Front Street)

Anything else you want to add?

You really need a car in Maui. So nice to be able to get out and ride and site see. Eating out is very expensive. Breakfast for 2 is at least $40 – $50 if you eat at the resorts. Eating out at local restaurants is a little more reasonable for breakfast and lunch. Dinners are pretty pricey but food was always really good. Also, all beaches are public so going to the local parks and beaches is a lot of fun – hanging with the locals

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San Jose, Mexico – March/April 2014 – Heather Scobey

One of the agents in our office, Heather Scobey, traveled to San Jose, Mexico at the end of last month/beginning of this month for a girls’ getaway! Here are some highlights from her trip:

Where did you travel?

San Jose, Mexico (about 30 from Los Cabo)

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What dates where you there?

March 28 – April 1

How long did it take you to get there?

One hour from MEM to ATL and 4 hours from ATL to SJD but you gain 2 hours so I arrived at noon even though I left Memphis at 6:00am. I loved that.

Tell a little about the resort.

I stayed at the brand new Secrets Puerto Los Cabos. It was fabulous. It is a long layout and my room was furthest from the entrance to the beach but I didn’t mind the walk. It is a non-swimmable beach but a 15 minute walk and you can go to the swimmable beach. The staff was excellent and the food was delicious.

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What was your favorite part?

My favorite was laying by the pool. Secrets has plenty of activities by the pool if you wanted to join in. The entertainment staff was very friendly and knowledgeable.

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Anything else you want to add?

I went to downtown San Jose with a group from the resort one night and we visited 3 restaurant/bars. It was a lot of fun. Another day we took a taxi into downtown Cabo. We ate at CaboWabo and walked around the marina. There are tons of places to eat on the marina and plenty of shopping. 

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London, England and Paris, France – March 2014 – Mo Mobley

One of the agents in our office, Mo Mobley, traveled to London and Paris earlier this month along with her daughter! Here are some highlights from her trip:

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Where did you travel?

London and Paris

What dates where you there?

March 6-12, 2014

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How long did it take you to get there?

It was a 7 hour flight from Minneapolis to London. We took a 2 hour and 20 minutes Eurostar from London to Paris. On the way home we had an 8 hour flight from Paris to Minneapolis.

Have you been there before?

Yes! I was an exchange student in London when I was in college….many, many years ago. We were visiting a friend of mine. And I have also been back 2 other times.

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Tell a little about your trip.

In London we stayed with a friend.  In Paris we stayed at the Marriott Rive Gauche. It was a great hotel in a great location! It was right across from a metro station.

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What was your favorite part?

I love London period!!! I love the parks, walking along the river and the museums.

I loved Paris. This was my first time to really explore Paris. I loved the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame. My daughter, Erin’s, priority was to visit the Lock Bridge (Pont Des Arts Bridge) where we added our lock to the collection.

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Anything else you want to add?

I am ready to go back!!

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Aspen, Colorado – January/February 2014 – Gina Baumgardner

Where did you travel?

Aspen, Colorado

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What dates where you there?

January 29th to February 2nd 

How long did it take you to get there?

7 hours From Memphis with a plane change in Houston. 

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Have you been there before? 

Yes, I have skied  Lake Tahoe but never anywhere in Colorado. 

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 Tell a little about your trip.

My trip to Aspen was amazing. I stayed at the Hotel Jerome which is an old historic hotel from the 1800’s.  I had one of the best hamburgers ever at the J Bar which is located at the hotel. The skiing, the dining the shopping and the nightlife are all right there at the base of the Mountain.   The town was beautiful during the day with all of the snow and also at night with all  of the city lights.  We toured several wonderful resorts including The St. Regis, the Westin at Snowmass, Wildwood, Limelight, Little Nell and Viceroy.

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What was your favorite part?

The skiing!  

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Anything else you want to add?

Aspen is also a great place for non skiers. I was there in the winter but the summertime there is supposed to be even more wonderful.  I hope to go back someday in the summer time. 


DisneyWorld – February 2014 – Alice Johnson

One of the agents in our office, Alice Johnson, traveled to DisneyWorld earlier this month along with her husband and 2 of her sons! Here are some highlights from her trip:

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What dates where you there?

February 13-17, 2014

Have you been there before?

Yes, 2011

Tell a little about the resort.

We stayed at the All-Star Music Resort. My sons were marching in a parade at Epcot. The resort has been renovated in the last few years-new bedspreads, shower curtains and mini refrigerators in every room.

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What was your favorite part?

Visiting the parks and seeing the new Fantasyland was the highlight of my trip. We were able to get a reservation at Be Our Guest which is the newest restaurant at Disney World. It is an exact replica of the Beast’s Castle from Beauty and the Beast. It was beautiful.

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Anything else you want to add?

The My Disney Experience smart phone app is AWESOME!! The new wristband technology makes everything very easy.

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Universal Orlando – January 2014 – Alex Smith

Alex Smith, along with her husband, went to Universal Orlando in January! Here is a little about their visit, in Alex’s own words:

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When were you there?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tell us a little about your visit.

I have been to Walt Disney World many times, and the last time I was at Universal Orlando was when I was 7! So, I was really excited to go check it out!

There are many areas to Universal. First of all, there are 2 parks: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. We started out with Islands of Adventure, which has many themed areas. The Dr. Seuss area was really cute and looked as if you had stepped into one of his books. They also had a Jurassic Park area and Marvel Comic area .

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But the section my husband and I were most looking forward to was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!! It was amazing! Every detail was exactly like it is in the movies. They did a great job at making you feel like you were in Hogsmeade Village. They had Hogwarts robes for sale (and about 75% of the people walking around were fully decked out in them). Also, you can get your very own wand!

I would have loved for this section to be larger because it was so cool, but the good news is, they announced in November 2013 that they will be adding Diagon Alley to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  It will be opening Summer of 2014!

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Next, we walked on over to Universal Studios. This park is laid out to look like a Hollywood set. They have different streets that look like they could be used for different movies. It is really cool!

I felt like we could have spend all day at this park because there is so much to experience and look at. We did the Shrek 4D and Despicable Me 4D experiences. They were really cute!!

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Anything else you would like to add?

There are several rides for younger kids, but overall I feel like Universal is better for pre-teen and older.

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St. Lucia – January 2014 – Debora Forsythe

Debora Forsythe, along with her husband and a couple friends, went to St. Lucia in January! Here is a little about their trip, in Debora’s own words:

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What dates where you there?

Jan. 26th – Feb. 1st



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How long did it take you to get there?

5 ½ hours each way



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Tell a little about your trip.

Arrived at the St. Lucia airport and was whisked away via Helicopter Transfer to the resort, which is the BEST way to travel in St. Lucia to avoid the 1 ½ hour ride to the resort!  My husband and I, along with friends of ours, stayed at the Adults Only/ All-Inclusive beautiful Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Resort!  Can’t say enough about the beautiful Caribbean Sea view and the calm ocean waves!  The main pool was very active for those that like that sort of thing or if you prefer quiet you can go to the other quieter pools.  Food was awesome and especially Gordon’s on the Pier… fantastic meal!  We sailed on the Hobie Cats, rode the Jet skis, and took in an island speedboat tour that was phenomenal, which included sailing almost the entire island west coast, shopping, snorkeling, volcano mud bath, warm mineral springs bath, lunch and drinks!



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What was your favorite part?  

The resort and ocean! It is an awesome view!!



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Anything else you want to add?

Visited Sandals LaToc and is perfect for NON-beach people as the surf is very rough most of the time, so you can’t do the Sandals included beach activities all the time.  This resort is beautiful and is quieter with slightly older crowd than Sandals Grande St. Lucian.  I also visited Sandals Halcyon Bay, which is a MUCH smaller but very nice resort with a better beach than Sandals LaToc and would be perfect for honeymooners, couples and older couples who prefer a much more laid back, quiet environment in a smaller resort type of atmosphere.



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Emerald Bay – December 2013 – Alex Smith


Alex Smith and Heather Scobey went to Great Exuma, Bahamas in December for the STAR awards hosted by Sandals! Here is a little about their trip, in Alex’s own words:

Where did you travel?

Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma, Bahamas

What dates where you there?

December 4, 2013

How long did it take you to get there?

We were already in Turks and Caicos, so our flight was a mere 45 minute hop over to the island.

Tell a little about your trip.

The resort was to die for. The neutral colors throughout the resort give off such a serene feeling. Sandals Emerald Bay is full of a quiet, relaxing, peaceful vibe that made you want to lay on the beach with a good book and the neon water as your background.




 I loved that there was so much to do, all within easy walking distance. 

The beach was full of watersports equipment. A few steps away is a restaurant on the beach that has the best conch fritters. There were also some beautiful tennis courts, that could be lit up at night.  For dinner, La Parisienne would definitely be my choice. It is full of beautiful decor and their scallops are the best I have ever had.

And of course, if you want to do nothing at all, the pool and beach are always available for lounging.