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Riviera Maya, Mexico – November/December 2015 – April Dalehite Smith

April attended a FAM trip (a trip to familiarize herself with several properties) in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This FAM showed her many resorts and wedding locations that she loved!! And now she wants to share her experience with you, in her own words and pictures:

Where did you travel?
I traveled to the Riviera Maya in Mexico, which is just south of Cancun. We visited several resorts including: Secrets Maroma, Barcelo Maya Palace, El Dorado Seaside, RIU Playacar, Secrets Silversands, Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, Dreams Riviera Cancun, Now Jade Riviera Maya, Generations Riviera Maya, El Dorado Maroma, and Azul Sensatori.

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What dates were you there?
I was there from Monday, November 30th – Friday, December 4th. So a total of 5 days, 4 nights.

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How long did it take you to get there?
The air time from Atlanta (where my layover was) to Cancun was about a 2 and a half hour plane ride.

Have you been there before?
I have never been to the Riviera Maya or even Mexico so this was a first for me.

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Tell us a little about your trip.
I went on this trip for work to not only learn about the area, airport, etc., but to also get a feel of different resorts around the Riviera Maya. This trip also focused on weddings so we were able to check out all the wedding venues at each resort and learn about the wedding packages they each had to offer. There were about 40 travel agents on this trip along with me! We all stayed at two different resorts during the trip and did site inspections at other resorts in the area over the 4 days we were there. We stayed at Secrets Maroma, an Adults Only resort, the first two nights and Now Jade Riviera Maya the second two nights. I loved Secrets Maroma! It had that romantic and intimate feel, yet there were many activities that you could do throughout the day. Now Jade was more family-friendly. This property was more active and had more of a condo feel you would find in Florida. So if you like the activeness of a vacation but also want all-inclusive, this would be a good property for a family. After visiting all the different resorts, we learned that they each have their own different benefits a person or group might want out of their vacation. There were resorts for more romantic getaways, and there were some that were more focused on children and some in between. It was definitely a great experience to see how each resort you go to has a different feel! Everyone at these resorts were very kind and generous to go out of their way to make sure we were all enjoying our stay and visit. All-Inclusive resorts are definitely the way to go for any family vacations or romantic getaways!

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Punta Cana – November/December 2015 – Heather Scobey

About a month ago, Heather and Gina traveled to Punta Cana to visit some beautiful properties. Here is a little about her trip in her own words and pictures:

Where did you travel?
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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What dates where you there?
November 30 – December 4, 2015

How long did it take you to get there?
We flew SouthWest from Memphis to Chicago (took 1hr 20 min) and Chicago to Punta Cana (took 4 hrs.)

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Have you been there before?
No, this was my first time.

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Tell a little about your trip.
I stayed the first 2 nights at Breathless Punta Cana. The food was wonderful. It is a very active resort. The second two nights were at Secrets Royal Beach, which is next door to the sister property NOW so I was able to go the restaurants and entertainment there as well. It is a very nice resort and you can find activity if want it or you can find quiet, if you prefer.

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What was your favorite part?
Definitely the scenery. The palm tree and soft sand were beautiful. And all the resorts by AM resorts were fantastic.

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Anything else you want to add?
The road from the airport to our resort as well as the roads between the resorts (the furthest being an hour and a half away) were all smooth and straight. Very nice atmosphere.

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Sandals Resorts Jamaica – August 2015 – Victoria Reisinger

In August of this year, Victoria and Audra visited all 9 Sandals/Beaches properties in Jamaica, while there on a FAM trip. Here is more about their awesome trip in Victoria’s own words and pictures:
Where did you travel?
All of Sandals and Beaches resorts in Jamaica! (Specific areas of the island: Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Negril and the South Coast)
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What dates where you there?
August 20-26, 2015
How long did it take you to get there?
About 2 hours 40 mins non-stop from Atlanta
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Tell a little about your trip.
Seeing all 9 properties (7 Sandals and 2 Beaches) really showcases just how unique each resort really is. Each property has its own “vibe” while all of them encompass the Sandals/Beaches brand. A step above all-inclusive; luxury-inclusive. From the rooms to the beaches at each property, there were so many things that I loved it would be impossible to write about them all. Even after only traveling to Jamaica twice, it somehow feels like a home away from home.
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What was your favorite part?
Getting to watch brand new over-the-water hammocks being put in at Sandals Royal Caribbean, and getting to experience the new speakeasy bar at “The Rabbit Hole” at Sandals Ochi. Such a cool element to the resort that no other Sandals (currently) offers!
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Anything else you want to add?
My love for Sandals and Beaches properties continues to grow each time I experience them firsthand, and I absolutely love getting to explain my experiences with clients who are traveling there as well!
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Punta Cana – September 2015 – Sandy Brewer

Sandy and her husband (along with Alice and her husband) attended a FAM trip to Punta Cana in order to familiarize herself with several resorts. Here is more about her trip in her own words and pictures:

Where did you travel?

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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What dates where you there?

September 7-12, 2015

How long did it take you to get there?

We flew on the nonstop charter out of Nashville and the flight was about 3 ½ hours.

Have you been there before?

No, this was my first time and I was very excites, as Punta Cana has become a very popular destination.

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Tell a little about your trip.

I was able to see 9 different resorts in order to help our clients choose the right resort for their vacation. We stayed at the CHIC Punta Cana and visitied RIU Palace Bavaro Beach, Iberostar Bavaro, Iberostar Grand, Majestic Elegance, Excellence Punta Cana, Majestic Colonial, Royal Suites Turquesa by Palladium, Palladium Bavaro and Royalton Punta Cana.

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What was your favorite part?

Being able to see all of the different areas, beaches and resorts in Punta Cana.

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Anything else you want to add?

There is definitely a large language barrier between the resort staff and the clients. Just be prepared for this and it will be okay.

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Secrets Silversands – May 2015 – Victoria Reisinger

Victoria and her husband traveling the Rivera Cancun, Mexico to soak in the sun at one of the beautiful Secrets Resorts properties. Here is more about her trip, in her own words:

Where did you travel?

Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Mexico

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What dates where you there?

May 20th-26th

How long did it take you to get there?

About 2.5 hours non-stop from ATL

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Tell a little about the resort.

The resort is only about a 15 minute transfer ride from the Cancun airport. Once you arrive everyone is extremely courteous and helpful. The rooms are more modern, but beautiful. There are tons of pools, including an infinity pool which was wonderful. The entertainment staff were incredible- they make you feel like family! The food and restaurant options were all great, as well as the service. There are plenty of daily activities to participate in if you want to stay active, or lounge by one of the many pools to relax. The beach was a little rocky, and staff are constantly battling the seaweed in that area, but they kept it clean and it was still enjoyable. The reef right in front of the property makes for decent snorkeling as well.

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What was your favorite part?

Probably getting to know the staff. They are incredible with names and really do make you feel like you’re family!

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Anything else you want to add?

If you are looking for a long, beautiful beach with clear blue water, this may not be the resort for you. However, everything else makes up for the lack of pretty beach! Even being a “beach person” I was fine being by the pool around the staff who make every day so much fun.

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Sandals Grande Riviera – January/February 2015 – Heather Scobey

Heather Scobey and her husband traveled to Sandals Grande Riviera earlier this month. Here is more about their experience in Heather’s own words and pictures:

Where did you travel?

Sandals Grande Riviera – Ocho Rios, Jamaica
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What dates were you there?

Jan. 31 – Feb. 4, 2015

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How long did it take you to get there?

2 hrs. 15 mins from ATL Once we landed in MBJ it was an hour and 45 min drive

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Have you been there before? 

This was my first time to this resort

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Tell a little about the resort.

Very friendly resort. Large property, golf carts are available to take you from hillside to Oceanside. Lots of updates happening but not disturbing.

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What was your favorite part?

I loved the warm weather in February. Looking at the beautiful green landscape and gorgeous blue ocean is good for the winter blues.

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Anything else you want to add?

Our Butler, Ramone, was fabulous. He made our stay perfect. He stayed hillside in the Butler Village Poolside One-Bedroom Butler Villa Suite.

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RIU Jamaica – January 2015 – Alice Johnson

Last month, Alice and her husband traveled to Jamaica to visit brand new, adult only RIU Jamaica. Here is a little about her trip in her own words and pictures:

Where did you travel?

Montego Bay, Jamaica

What dates where you there?

January 17-24, 2015

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How long did it take you to get there?

6 hours from Memphis, TN

Have you been there before? Yes If so, when?

Yes, I was in Montego Bay in 2013, but this was my first time to this resort.

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Tell a little about the resort.

The RIU Jamaica was nice.  Their restaurants were VERY good.  The down side of this resort was that the airport is very close to the resort so there was quite a bit of airplane noise daily-about 6-7 planes flew over every day. (plus side: short transfers to and from the airport!)

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What was your favorite part?

I would definitely have to say the food!

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Anything else you want to add? 

I would recommend this resort, as long as you don’t mind the airplane noise.

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Sandals Jamaica FAM – November 2014 – Victoria Reisinger

Victoria got the great opportunity to visit several Sandals Resorts in Jamaica last month! Here is more about her trip in her own words and pictures:

Where did you travel?

Jamaica; Beaches Ocho Rios, Sandals Royal Plantation, Sandals Grande Riviera Beach Golf and Spa, Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean and Private Island.

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What dates where you there?

November 16th-20th, 2014

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How long did it take you to get there?

Flight from Atlanta into Montego Bay was about 2 ½ hours. Transfer from Montego Bay to Beaches Ocho Rios was about 2 hours. Once we were back at Sandals Montego Bay, it was only about a 5-10 minute ride from the resort to the airport.

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Have you been there before?

No, this was my first time at each of the properties.

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Tell a little about the resorts.

Each resort was so different from the other, and had their own charms. It was exciting to see the differences, from the intimate feel of Royal Plantation to the greatness of Grande Riviera- Sandals and Beaches resorts do such a great job at knowing what guests want to see at each property. They pay close attention to the details- from babysitting services at the Beaches resorts, to the romantic feel at every turn at each Sandals resort- it makes you want to keep coming back.

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What was your favorite part?

Touring the private island at Sandals Royal Caribbean was really exciting to me. It just adds that extra “wow” factor when staying at this resort, and is so easy to get to since they  constantly have a boat going back and forth.

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Anything else you want to add?

The staff at every resort in Jamaica were absolutely incredible. So accommodating and fun! They all make you feel at home while on vacation, and definitely are a huge factor in why guests keep returning.

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Sandals MegaFAM – Sandals Emerald Bay, Beaches Turks and Caicos, & Sandals LaSource – October 2014 – Victoria Reisinger, Alex Smith, Alice Johnson, & Sandy Brewer

Victoria, Alex, Alice, and Sandy  just returned from a Sandals MegaFAM that visited Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas, Beaches Turks and Caicos, and Sandals LaSource in Grenada. Here is more about their trip in their own words and pictures:

Where did you travel?

Sandals Emerald Bay (Exuma, Bahamas), Beaches Turks and Caicos, and Sandals La Source (Grenada)

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What dates where you there?

October 29th-31st, 2014

How long did it take you to get there?

About 3 ½ hours from Nashville to Bahamas, then about 1 hour 25 minutes to Turks and Caicos; then from Turks and Caicos to Grenada- about 2 ½ hours. Back to Nashville from Grenada was about 5 ½ hours.

Have you been there before? If so, when?

Victoria: No, this was my first visit to each of the 3 resorts.

 Alex: I have visited both Sandals Emerald Bay and Beaches Turks and Caicos, but was SO excited to see Sandals LaSource.

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Tell a little about your trip.

Victoria: Although our visit to Sandals Emerald Bay was very quick, the overall feel of the resort is very romantic. The beach is absolutely beautiful and the staff was phenomenal.

Beaches Turks and Caicos is a much larger resort, but each section makes it feel a bit less overwhelming. Food and staff were amazing here as well- loved the Sesame Street parade- great resort for families!

Sandals La Source was breathtaking. From the entire resort as a whole, to the lush grounds and million dollar views- it is one of a kind. The beach is mixed with black sand and large shells wash up on the shore line- very cool.

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 Alex: Sandals Emerald Bay was just as amazing as I remember!  The stunning, white sand beach and delicious food is top-notch here!

Beaches Turks and Caicos is so fun!! So much to do here for ALL ages! Your family can spread out or stick together, but this resort is truly like 4 resorts in one.

Sandals LaSource. Where do I start?! It is so exotic and the only word to describe the rooms is “sexy!” Seriously, the perfect honeymoon or anniversary spot! On top of that the sand is mixed with volcanic sand and gives the beach a cappuccino color. The best part: the resort is only 2 and a half minutes from the airport!! And you never hear a plane. Everyone should put this resort on their bucket list.

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What was your favorite part?

Victoria: As hard as it is to choose one part, I’d have to say looking out from the balcony of the penthouse butler suite with the infinity pool in Sandals LaSource. It is a view I still dream about!

Alex: There were many aspects that were my favorite, from the food, to the pool, to the entertainment, but one thing that really stuck out was the service. Everyone was beyond accommodating and friendly. 

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Anything else you want to add?

Victoria:  I cannot wait to go back and bring my husband! 

Alex: I would STRONGLY recommend the Italian Oceanview Penthouse One Bedroom Skypool Butler Suite with Veranda Tranquility Soaking Tub at Sandals LaSource in Grenada!!

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Carnival Breeze – October 2014 – Debora Forsythe

Earlier this month, Debora and her family took  Carnival Cruise to the Caribbean! Here is more about her trip in her own words and pictures:

Where did you travel?

Departure Port: Miami, FL…..Ports Visited:  Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico

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What dates where you there?

Oct. 4th – 11th

How long did it take you to get there? 

Flew into Miami on Oct. 4th , day before the 6 day cruise

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Tell a little about your cruise. 

Carnival Breeze – very nice ship, good food, entertainment was good, STYX Live Concert on the ship was awesome!!!

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What was your favorite part? 

Tranopy Excursion (Chairlift, Ziplining, Bobsled) in Ocho Rios & Snuba Excursion in Cayman…water was beautiful! (Both excursions booked through Carnival)

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Anything else you want to add? 

Took a taxi to Paradise Beach, which had a beautiful pool and palm tree beach where we paid $3 per person for access to their facilities (wifi, beachchairs & umbrella, etc.) They only ask you to spend $10pp minimum on food or drinks; food and drinks reasonable priced.  Short walk down the beach to Carlos & Charlies and ate a great lunch!

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