Suite Spotlight – Beaches Turks & Caicos – Caribbean Honeymoon One Bedroom Concierge Villa Suite – LV1

Last Week, Beaches Turks & Caicos unveiled its latest suite offering in Caribbean Village.  We wanted to give you a bit of info and some first look pictures on this hot new suite.  The Caribbean Honeymoon One Bedroom Concierge Villa Suite – LV1 is located near the center point of the property, close to the Dive Shop and is just steps from the beach.

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These newly renovated one bedroom suites are located in the Caribbean village, on the first and second floors of the Parrot Cay Villas, just steps from the beach and clear aquamarine waters. Each suite is decorated with modern touches and includes a wet bar, microwave, and HD smart TV.

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The master bedroom is equipped with king size bed and HD smart TV, while the en-suite bath allows guests to pamper themselves with a freestanding soaking tub, dual control walk in rain shower, and dual vanities with back lit mirrors.

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These suites include concierge level service and a trundle bed to accommodate up to 5 guests. Units on the ground floor feature a furnished patio that walks out onto the resort gardens and beach just beyond, while second floor units feature a furnished balcony.

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For more information on the Caribbean Honeymoon One Bedroom Concierge Villa Suite – LV1 & to book your family vacation at Beaches Turks & Caicos, contact us today at info@island-breeze-travel.com or call us at 517-917-0510

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Staff Spotlight – Anthony Clarke – Team Nick Host – Nickelodeon Punta Cana

We recently returned from Nickelodeon Punta Cana. This is an all-new resort that sits in the heart of the Uvero Alto Beach area just north of Punta Cana. Getting there is easy and it’s only a 45 minute ride to the resort from the airport.

Nickelodeon Punta Cana caters to adults as well as families with kids ages 0-12 and has a wide range of activities for the kids at the attached Nickelodeon Place activity center which also features a waterpark with a lazy river. Pro-Tip: Be sure to catch the 3:00pm slime bucket dump!

Nickelodeon Punta Cana is well laid out and features several dining options that are sure to please everyone.  This is a Karisma property so their benchmark Gourmet Inclusive dining options are featured prominently here including restaurant options ranging from Asian specialties at Wok Wok to their soon to be famous seafood extravaganza over at Sugarcane.

Sugarcane at Nickelodeon Punta Cana

A very interesting concept at Sugarcane is their small dish display. Unlike a normal buffet, the chefs at Sugarcane prepare the food in the main area right in front of you and replenish as needed. By using this concept, you are always guaranteed fresh food options. Want spicy? Check out their Indian food station at Sugarcane!

For the sushi lovers, Wok Wok serves up tasty Asian dishes that are sure to please the palate.

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But all the well placed amenities, excellent food choices and awesome swim up pool bars cant take the place of exceptional staff because after all, it is the wonderful people who work tirelessly on property to make guests dreams come true that make all the difference. We had the chance to sit down with one of our friends, Anthony Clarke who just started working at Nickelodeon Punta Cana to get his thoughts on the new resort!

Nickelodeon Punta Cana
1. How long have you worked at Nickelodeon Punta Cana?

I have worked at Nickelodeon Punta Cana for less than a month.

2. Where are you from originally?

I am from Jamaica.

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3. What is your official title at Nickelodeon Punta Cana?

 Here at Nickelodeon Punta Cana I am a Team Nick Host.

4. Where can you normally be found on property and what are your day to day responsibilities?

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I can normally be found at Aqua Nick. I host all activities with Team Nick like Slime Time, Musical Pies or Spongebob Photo op and also breakfast with Nickelodeon characters.

5. What’s your favorite activity so far?

I really love the Mass Sliming with the live host.
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6. How would you define your approach to making sure the guests have a great time?

I aim to make sure the guests know whats happening on property and try to get their feedback.

7. Do you work at any of the special events such as Character Breakfasts?

 Yes I will host Pajama Jam starting tomorrow and also the Turtle Power breakfast with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

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8. These days, many travelers are looking for unique & authentic experiences on and off the resort but what are some of the other things you recommend to guests that they should check out while in the Punta Cana area?

 If you are interested in night time events off the resort, Coco Bongo about half hour away is really fun with acrobatic show dancing and more and there are also hang out spots within walking distance from the hotel. We call it the Plaza where you can enjoy the local music like bachata merengue or salsa. Plus there is Sona Island where you go by party boat for snorkelling picnic, ect. Its a real paradise but if you want to stay on property we have two sets of entertainment locations you can choose to enjoy. There are family shows at Nick Place and also late shows for the adults at Vino Vino.

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9. Most peoples lives are very busy these days and when on vacation, sometimes people like to cut loose a bit and have fun. What’s the silliest / craziest thing you have seen at Nickelodeon Punta Cana?

 Oh we play a game called Look What I Can Do today where everyone showed off their best dance moves and it got really silly especially with the Dads!!
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10. One thing we never have enough of, is quality time just being together with our families. What are some of the things that you see families enjoying together while at Nickelodeon Punta Cana?

 Families always enjoy getting a Private Slime where they get to have bragging rights for life.
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11. What are some of your favorite times of the year down at Nickelodeon Punta Cana and why?

 Everyday is so special for me. The hotel is always lively and i get to meet new people every day.
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12. What are a couple of your most memorable experiences working at Nickelodeon Punta Cana?

Today doing musical pies I had one Dad do SpongeBobs favorite by “Taking It Around Town” by smashing a Nickelodeon whipped cream pie in his face then taking it around his head! He was so into and he got really messy. Another Dad brought a toddler for her to show us her dance moves and she did a dance pointing to the ground and the Team Players followed along. It was so cute and everyone got a laugh!
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13. Why should someone who is considering a trip to Nickelodeon Punta Cana, but not quite sure yet, come there?

Nickelodeon truly gives more than is expected with well prepped staff and tons of activities. And the accommodations will definitely put a smile on your faces. It is great for families, singles and groups.  Once you get here, you wont want to leave!!

Thanks Anthony! We cant wait for our next visit down to Nickelodeon Punta Cana! For more information on Nickelodeon Punta Cana and to book your next trip down, contact us today at 517-917-0510 or email us at info@island-breeze-travel.com
 
We are Certified Karisma GIVC Travel Agents and Certified Nickelodeon Punta Cana Specialists.  For a limited time, we have a special offer! Bookings for Nickelodeon Punta Cana from Nov 4th 2016 to January 1st 2017, minimum 5 nights stay, you can get 1 of the following activities. – Private Slime for up to 4 pax (value of $50USD) – Private meet and greet characters (value of $250USD) – Character Breakfast for 2 adults + 2 children (value of $88USD).
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Sandals Ochi Beach Resort – Trip Report

Sandals Ochi Beach Resort – Trip Report

Recently, we travelled to Ocho Rios, Jamaica to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. We chose Sandals Ochi Beach Resort because of the wide variety of pools, restaurants & bars available on property.

Arrival – Club MoBay

We left on a Friday morning and upon arrival at the Montego Bay airport, we were greeted by staff from Club MoBay with a sign with our names on it which is a very nice touch and a great way to start the vacation!! Club MoBay staff checked our Jamaica Immigration documents and escorted us to the express lane at the Customs desk. After clearing Customs, Club Mobay staff escorted us to Sandals Arrivals Lounge.

Transport To The Resort

Sandals Arrivals Lounge has ice cold Red Stripe on draft and right next door, is Club MoBay’s arrivals lounge. If you opt for the service, Club MoBay has drinks & snacks available if you need a quick bite but you won’t be there very long as the ground transportation is pre-arranged. Normally, within 20 minutes max you will be on the transportation and heading to the resort.

Arrival At The Resort And Check In

Arrival was also very well organized. The resort staff uses iPads where you input your information, sign your name and if you want to, you can place a credit card on file for incidentals like Beach Cabana rentals, massages, photo shop and gift shop purchases. After check in, you are escorted to your room or suite by the bellman.

Suite 7317 – Butler Village – Honeymoon Oceanview One Bedroom Poolside Villa Suite (HV)

Our Suite in Butler Village on the hillside was in a great location. From our deck we had a view of the sea. The suite comes with a wet bar area where you have a sink, glassware, coffee maker, stocked refrigerator (Beer, assorted juices, coke, Sprite, bottled water) and premium liquor store (Absolute, Johnny Walker, Tanqueray Gin)     You also have a living room/sitting area with a flat screen tv, desk & table. You also have a patio door that leads out to a patio with a table & two chairs to enjoy our morning coffee! The patio also overlooks the semi-private pool we had access to.

The master bedroom comes with a four-poster king size bed and end tables on both sides. They also have a nice flat screen tv inside a dresser tv stand combo. Plush robes are also there for your use. The bathroom was a single sink with a tub shower combination and looked recently remodeled.

Property Layout

There are three distinct areas to the property being the Hillside, Riviera Side and the Ochi Beach Club. It is a large property overall but the resort has smaller transports that will take you up into the butler village area or in between the three main areas using their on site “Hop” busses. It’s very well organized and you don’t wait very long at all.    Food Choices

There are 17 different dining options on property. From Sushi to Italian, French and Caribbean, Tapas & Seafood. Lunch options are also plentiful, but be sure to check out Bella Napoli for their chocolate & fresh fruit Stromboli – it was outstanding!! We also enjoyed the Southern Table’s breakfast buffet. Lots of options including made to order omelets, bacon, sausage, eggs and my favorite, smoked Salmon & smoked Marlin.


 Bars

Several bars at the resort but our favorite was the Rabbit Hole. This is a 1920’s themed Prohibition era Speak Easy bar where you have to know where it is first off because there are no signs directing you to its location. Upon approaching it there are no well lit paths and you have to give the password to the doorman to gain access.

Sandals Ochi have gone to great lengths to re-create this iconic part of Americana and it’s a must visit on your next trip down. Once inside the Rabbit Hole, you will find the Speak Easy has been artfully constructed with all sorts of historical recreations from the era. The barmaids are dressed in flapper outfits and the bartenders come dressed in Bowler caps!



The drink selection. Is also unique and you won’t find the drinks featured in the Rabbit Hole in any other bar on property. Drinks like the Blackberry Bramble, the Ball & Chain, and the Moscow Mule were some of our favorites. Hendricks Gin, Knob Creek Bourbon Ole Smokey Moonshine & Makers Mark Bourbon are just a few of the featured liquors in the Rabbit Hole.

If you go, make sure you visit on a night where Mama is the featured performer. Mama sings some of the Blues favorites from the era along with several others from Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle and more.      Nightlife at Sandals Ochi Beach Club – The resort hosts several theme nights but every night you can find a lively crowd down at Ocean Beach Bar down on the riviera side. Dancing in the bar often turns into dancing in the sand and sometimes down into the water!    Karaoke is also featured in the Riviera Bar & nightly shows are available in the amphitheater. Ochi Beach Resort also prints a daily newspaper available in the lobby’s that give a nice rundown of the daily & nightly activities.

Beachside Cabana Service at The Ochi Beach Club

For our anniversary, we opted to rent one of the cabanas at the Ochi Beach Club. The cabana comes with your own Cabana Butler and the butlers are also trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers so you are getting the same outstanding treatment Butler Guests have come to appreciate. The cost is $125.00 for the day and it also came with a neck, shoulder & back massage from the ladies at the Red Lane Spa in our cabana.      Michael & Sharon, our Cabana Butlers took great care of us all day. Our drinks were always replenished and snacks just kept coming and coming! We can’t say enough good things about them. Daina, Natalee & Darren also took great care of us and even remembered what we liked to drink! Now that’s service!!

   Special Occasions. This is an area where Sandals Ochi definitely sets the bar high. Nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to see for our 24th Wedding Anniversary Surprise!

Suzette & the Night maid took great care of us during our entire stay however our 24th anniversary night was over the top. We came back to the suite around 6pm to get ready for dinner. Upon entering our suite we noticed rose petals on the ground leading into the master bedroom. Upon entering the master bedroom we found that our bed had been adorned with more rose petals, a bottle of champagne, two glasses and special lighting in the room! Soft music was playing in the background also.


 In the bathroom, the tub had been drawn and more rose petals were placed on top of the bubble bath.
After dinner, we enjoyed more of the property and came back to the suite and it had been made up again – this time with a nice after dinner cake with “Happy 24th Anniversary Mr. & Mrs. Brown written in chocolate on the plate.

Checkout – The checkout process is also very simple. Check over your end statement to make sure all the charges are accurate, pay with cash or your credit card on file & off you go! Transport back to the resort is also arranged and our driver was prompt.

Club MoBay Departure Lounge

Another must do and a great way to end the vacation, was Club MoBay’s departure lounge. In the lounge you will find an upstairs area and a larger downstairs area where all the drinks and food are included. The bar staff there takes great care of you . On the buffet menu you will find Jamaican Chicken, Pork & Vegetarian patties. You also will have sushi, barbecued chicken sliders, and macaroni salad along with a selection of dessert items.      We had a great time on the trip & the staff made all the difference. The people of Jamaica are warm, friendly and eager to share their beautiful country with visitors. 

For more detailed information and to book your next trip down to Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, contact us today at 517-917-0510 or info@island-breeze-travel.com

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Staff Spotlight – Miguel Forrest – Creperie Cook – Josephine’s Creperie – Beaches Ocho Rios

Ahhhhhh – Jamaica!!  With its impressive beaches, wonderful food, never ending supply of great places to stay and the wonderful welcoming people you meet at every turn, it’s hard to pick a place to call home base for your travels on and around the island.

Ten (10) miles east of the town of Ocho Rios and only 5 minutes away from the Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel, you will find Beaches Ocho Rios Resort and Spa.  This resort boasts an impressive 22 acre spread with 223 rooms and suites in just about any shape and size to fit most families needs.

One of the most important points for families trying to decide which resort fits their wants & needs for their family vacation, is food choices. Kids, as we all know can be very picky eaters but adults can be just as discerning.

Fortunately, Sandals & Beaches Resorts have a program called Discovery Dining where guests have the opportunity to discover and experience new and diverse cuisines every day from every corner of the planet.

We had the opportunity to stay at Beaches Ocho Rios Resort and Spa earlier this year where we sat down with one of their very best, Mr. Miguel Forrest at Josephine’s Creperie.

Miguel Forrest - Creperie Cook - Josephine's Creperie - Beaches Ocho Rios

1. How long have you worked at Beaches Ocho Rios?

I have been working here just over 2 ½ years now.

2. Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Oracabessa, St. Mary where I still reside.

3. Where can you normally be found on property and what are your day to day responsibilities?

I can normally be found at Josephine’s Creperie. My day to day responsibilities include ordering, checking and prepping all ingredients that will be needed to make my authentic French crepes and delicious desserts. I work closely with my team members and we order and prep for each in true team spirit.

Miguel Forrest - Creperie Cook - Josephine's Creperie - Beaches Ocho Rios

4. What is your official title at Beaches Ocho Rios?

I am a Grade 3 Cook.

5. What’s your favorite or most popular Crepe to make and what’s in it?

That would be Nutella Banana with a splash of Baileys; this is so because oftentimes guests return to the counter just to say how lovely it was. It is made using hazelnut spread, ripe bananas, Baileys Rum Cream served with a topping of whip cream and a cherry on top. The resort also caters to guests with special dietary needs. I even make gluten free crepes!!

Miguel Forrest - Creperie Cook - Josephine's Creperie - Beaches Ocho Rios

6. Do you work at any of the special events.

Yes, sometimes I do. I work wherever I am assigned. I love doing special events such as returning guest functions or travel agents functions because I get the chance to interact more with guests and to serve something different for them to enjoy. I also use the opportunity to tell them about my crepes as well.

Miguel Forrest - Creperie Cook - Josephine's Creperie - Beaches Ocho Rios

7. Beaches Ocho Rios sits in the heart of some of the best water & land based excursions on the northern coastline of Jamaica and you probably get questions from guests all the time about things to do. These days, many travelers are looking for unique & authentic experiences on and off the resort but what are some of the other things you recommend to guests that they should check out while in the Ocho Rios area?

The Island Routes desk here on property makes that really easy for me as they have already handpicked some of the best tours in the area. There is so much to name, my favorites are:- Dunn’s River Waterfalls by boat, swimming with the dolphins, the Sandals Foundation Reading Road Trip and the Mystic Mountain tour.

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8. Most people’s lives are very busy these days and when on vacation, sometimes people like to cut loose a bit and have fun. What’s the silliest / craziest thing you have seen at Beaches Ocho Rios?

My colleague made a crepe for a couple , they were happy and came to the counter asking for the chef to come outside and take a picture with them. The wife was about to take the picture when the husband scooped and lifted my colleague for the pictures. What was really funny, they were almost the same size and he had a big challenge holding up the chef with his arms and knee for the picture, while everyone laughed.

Greek Village - Beaches Ocho Rios

9. One thing we never have enough of, is quality time just being together with our families. What are some of the things that you see families enjoying together while on property?

There are so many things I see family enjoying together. Some are:
· dressing up in the evenings and taking pictures to make a family album
· families dancing with their children at the Sesame Street Stage Show and our Sesame Street Parade
· swimming and competing with the children at the waterpark
· Private candlelight dinners on the beach.

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10. What are some of your favorite times of the year down at Beaches Ocho Rios and why?

Some of my favorite times would be:-
· Summer – allows for much more activities and interaction with the guests
· Christmas because the property is all dressed up with lights, music and creates a festive and happy mood for all.
· Reunion Week – the time to see most of my little guests and adult guests who return. Time to catch up on what each other have been doing.

Miguel Forrest - Creperie Cook - Josephine's Creperie - Beaches Ocho Rios

11. What are a couple of your most memorable experiences working at Beaches Ocho Rios?

Most memorable experiences working at Beaches Ocho Rios:-
· Going out on Sandals Foundation off property activities and giving back to the community
· For my guests to come back to the counter to say thanks for a delicious crepe.
· When my guests call me the ‘Crepe Master’.

12. Why should someone who is considering a trip to Beaches Ocho Rios, but not quite sure yet, come there?

Everyone should come to Beaches Ocho Rios because it is the #1 Family Luxury All-Inclusive Resort. There is something for everyone to do from kids camp, Xbox®, waterpark, beach, watersports activities, day time and night time activities and nightly shows.

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There is also an option of six restaurants to choose from and many bars. Most importantly, we the team members are the most friendly and professional staff to be found on island.

Miguel Forrest - Creperie Cook - Josephine's Creperie - Beaches Ocho Rios

For more information on Beaches Ocho Rios, give us a call at 517-917-0510 – check us out on the web at www.island-breeze-travel.com or email us at info@island-breeze-travel.com

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Staff Spotlight – Jose Vargas – Vibe Manager – Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya is not your average tropical beach destination resort, that much is clear from the very second you set foot on property at the resort.

Rock music fills the air and the sights & sounds of Rock & Roll’s long history invade your eyes & ears like a kid entering a candy store!!

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But who is responsible for such a cornucopia of thought provoking sights & sounds?

In this weeks feature blog post, we would like to introduce you to Jose Vargas, the appropriately titled “Vibe Manager” at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya who’s job is to create experiences for the guests both musical and cultural that really keep them begging for more, so they know they’re at a Hard Rock Hotel and not a Holiday Inn.

Vibe Manager - Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

1. How long have you lived in The Riviera Maya?

I officially arrived in November of 2013, I started working for the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in September but spent two months training at our sister property in the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana).

2. Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Southern California, just outside of Los Angeles. My family is originally from Mexico. I spent the last 8 years of my life working in the entertainment industry producing various events and concerts for music and lifestyle marketing agencies.

Jose Vargas

3. What department do you work in and what are your day to day responsibilities? Do you work at any of the special events.

My department is VIBE, which is essentially part management. Actually I’m the only person in my department. It can be said that my role is to work with all departments to make sure that Hard Rock brand and culture is well represented and executed throughout the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

I’ve been here for a little over 8 months and I can honestly say that each day has been different. On any given day I can have back to back meetings, spend my time out in the guest areas making sure daily activities and music is all on par, or working with a department on trying to improve on any type of service.

I’m the brand ambassador for Hard Rock and everything music culture, so with every event onsite I’m involved in one way or another. From over-all logistics to brainstorming ways to tie in music or activities to enhance on the overall guest experience.

**Editor’s Note – We were on property at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya for the Grand Opening and really enjoyed the live music at the Heaven Swim Up Bar – what a great experience!! Dancing in the pool with a drink in your hand when the sun is shining and not a care in the world!!  Cheers to good living and its something you wont see at other resorts!!

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4. Where can you be found most of the time?

If I’m not in the office, it may actually be a little hard to find me. I’m the only person in the staff that doesn’t wear a uniform. So a lot of times guests will think I’m another guest and not a manager. You can find me in the various hotel areas checking out the vibe and music.

Jose Vargas - Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya - Vibe Manager

The idea is that I should be able to experience everything from a guest point of view and find/think of ways to make it better. Whether that be with music or another form of kick ass service. When I’m not at the hotel you can find me out and about at a bar, club, concert, or any other popular hang out. As the brand ambassador and expert on music culture its my job to know the local artists, trends, managers and try to bring those experiences to the hotel.

Jose Vargas - Handling the Details

**Editors Note – We saw you all over the resort, attending to details, making sure things were to standards….seems like you were everywhere!!! We don’t know of any other resorts that have a person like you. Very nicely done Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya!!

5. What are a couple of your most memorable experiences working at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya?

There have been so many already in such a short amount of time that I’ve been here. Off the top of my head three come to mind… first one would be the moment I actually touched down and landed in Cancun, I remember thinking to my self, I’m really here. I knew I was starting a new chapter in my life and the whole thing kind of hit me at once. The others were our opening events, the soft opening or “re-flagging” day as its known in the hotel industry was memorable just because it was the first time we were able to feel the change in vibe in the hotel.

The biggest memory so far would have to be the grand opening that we just had with Jon Bon Jovi. Even if you didn’t like the show, the logistics and planning that went into the concert and after parties were second to none and really set the bar for what the hotel has to offer. It brought all staff together and showed off what our hard work in past months was really paying off. I’m very proud to say that I am part of this team.

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**Editors Note – now that’s something you don’t see on vacation……..ever!!! We ran into several guests on property who were flat out amazed to see this type of planning. Two live performances….all free for registered guests staying at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya!! We had a great time at both shows & the after parties were outstanding!! We cant wait to see what you have planned for the future!!

6. From the moment you walk into a Hard Rock Resort, it’s clear that this is not your average resort. What is your favorite activity or event that takes place down at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya?

My favorite thing that we have at our hotel would have to be our new Rock Star massage services. Hard Rock is rolling out with this new brand of music infused massages where music is projected from a speaker that hangs over the massage table. Additionally vibrations from a subwoofer type speaker that is mounted under the table are felt throughout your body.

All the while you have an expert masseuse that moves in motions that go along with the music you are hearing and feeling. The music you hear is carefully curated by music experts that take you on a journey of familiar songs and some new ones that still trigger moments bliss and peace. Its an surreal experience and I recommend it to everyone I speak to.

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7. These days, many travelers are looking for unique & authentic experiences on and off the resort. What are a couple of the must-do experiences that you tell guests about when they are on property with you.

I can on about all the different things that guests can do while on site at our property. But offsite, it’s a whole nother world (no pun intended) we are talking about… the area is well known for its archeological sites along with its various nature parks and attractions.

Most of our guests go off site during their stay to visit nearby Mayan ruins, or swim with dolphins, or snorkel/scuba dive in the various reefs nearby. You really cant go wrong with any of the above options. There is so much to do here, its one of the reason we have guests that come multiple times a year and yet never have the same experiences.

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8. Why should someone who is considering a trip to Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, but not quite sure yet, come there?

We’ve put a lot of work into our new property, both aesthetically and with our style of service throughout all departments and areas of the hotel. We take pride in being able to wow guests with everything from our gourmet food, newly redesigned pools, trendsetting spa treatments, to the exciting nightlife and entertainment. Simply put, our job is to provide our guests with authentic experiences that rock!

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**Editor’s Note – we really enjoyed Club Heaven. This is a unique nightclub that you wont see anywhere else. The size and thought that went into it have to be seen first hand. So if you want a nightclub that really delivers a great experience, be sure to check out Club Heaven.

Photo Credit - Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

Photo Credit – Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

Another area we are looking forward to seeing is the all new bar / DJ area near the far end of the Heaven section out on the waters edge at the Hot Tub by the sea. So many places and spaces on property that stand out – the hard part, will be picking out our favorite spot!!

Thanks for sitting down with us Jose. We really appreciate it and we are looking forward to coming back to see you.

For more information on the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya and to book your VIP experience, contact us at 517-917-0510 or email mark@island-breeze-travel.com

www.island-breeze-travel.com

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Trip Review – Sandals LaSource Grenada

We wanted to share a freinds experience with you from her recent trip to Sandals LaSource Grenada

I recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of nights at Sandals LaSource Grenada. All that I can say is WOW! This is the most incredible hotel I have ever experienced in the Caribbean – all-inclusive, EP, etc. The architecture, service, features, facilities, food & beverage – the best ever! It is a 225-room boutique hotel.

My room was 3603 – an Italian Oceanview Penthouse One Bedroom Skypool Butler Suite with Veranda Tranquility Soaking Tub (PSKY). It was on the top floor of the Italian Village. Imagine an almost 1,000 square foot one bedroom suite with a large living room, butler pantry, bedroom and bathroom.

Italian Oceanview Penthouse One Bedroom Skypool Butler Suite with Veranda Tranquility Soaking Tub (PSKY)

Italian Oceanview Penthouse One Bedroom Skypool Butler Suite with Veranda Tranquility Soaking Tub (PSKY)

Italian Oceanview Penthouse One Bedroom Skypool Butler Suite with Veranda Tranquility Soaking Tub (PSKY)

The living room encompasses a butler pantry, sofa and chairs, an indoor dining table, and a large flat screen HD LED smart TV (which can be used to get Island Routes info, order prints from Snapshots, get hotel info, purchase movies, etc.) It also opens to a large balcony with two lounge chairs and a soaking tub. The tub has special pipes and fills up at an incredible 27 gallons a minute.

The luxurious bedroom features a king size bed, another large, flat screen HD LED smart TV. The bathroom includes two large Carrera marble vanities, a Kohler claw footed tub, and a frosted glass shower again enclosed in frosted glass. The bedroom also opens up to your very own private infinity pool, with an incredible view of the ocean and the capital, St. Georges.

 All accommodations in the Italian Village and South Seas Villages are just steps away from the pristine Pink Gin Beach.

 The entry-level room, South Seas Premium Room with Veranda Tranquility Soaking Tub is in excess of 400 square feet and classically appointed, including a king size bed, large flat screen HD LED smart TV. The Pink Gin Beachfront Walkout Club Level Room has steps that lead right out to the beach. The Rondoval ,Millionaire Suites and Private Pool Sanctuary Suites have to be seen to believe!

The food – phenomenal. One night I had dinner at Butch’s Chop House (our first ever steak restaurant in the entire company). It looks just like a New York City world-class restaurant. I ordered the Wagyu Sirloin; during Christmas, I went to a famous steak restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale and ordered one for $58 (just for the steak) and the steak I had at Sandals LaSource blew it away. I also had an incredible s ’mores cheesecake and carrot cake; we all agreed that the carrot cake was the best we have ever tasted.

The sushi at Soy was incredible. The executive sushi chef was a consultant for a cruise line and owns a handful of sushi restaurants in L.A. I felt guilty for not receiving a bill on the way out.

Neptune’s and Le Jardinière were fabulous and we also sampled some great desserts at Café de Paris. The pizza at Dino’s is also incredible.

The Pink Gin Pool, with the fire pit, is a must-see, as is the swim up pool bar in the South Seas Village.

The fitness center is incredible. It has floor to ceiling windows and state of the art cardio machines that face a reflecting pool.

What’s most impressive, is the attitude of the staff. The friendliest and most helpful staff you will ever experience anywhere in the world.

For more information about Sandals LaSource Grenada – contact us at info@island-breeze-travel.com or call 517-917-0510

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Staff Spotlight – Odayne Ewart – Butler – Beaches Turks & Caicos

We tend to write about Turks & Caicos quite often. The reason for that is because we truly love the place. Of all the wonderful places & spaces we have visited, Turks & Caicos feels like our second home and we love sharing the island with our friends.

One of our favorite resorts down there, is Beaches Turks & Caicos. From its seemingly never ending beachline which is perfect for romantic strolls along its talcum powder soft white sand beach to its crystal clear waters that lure snorkelers & scuba divers from near and far, the small island of Providenciales is a beach & water lovers paradise.

Recently, Beaches Turks & Caicos underwent an expansion with the addition of Key West Village. The resort looks even better and now boasts an impressive 19 restaurants to choose from.

One of the very unique and highly sought after services at the resort, is Beaches signature Butler service. Pro tip: Beaches Turks & Caicos suites that feature Butler service tend to sell out first. If you are considering butler service, contact your travel agent well in advance to place your $400.00 deposit. We recommend placing deposit 12-16 months prior to travel on the butler suites.

Beaches Resorts Butler team are trained exclusively by the Guild of Professional English Butlers and while on property at Beaches Turks & Caicos recently, we had a chance to sit down with Odayne Ewart, a friend of ours who is on the butler team.

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

Odayne Ewart – Butler – Beaches Turks & Caicos

1. How long have you lived in Providenciales?

Odayne – I have been living in the Turks & Caicos Islands for 7 years.

2. Where are you from originally?

Odayne – I am originally from Whitehouse, Westmoreland, Jamaica.

3. What is your job here at Beaches Turks & Caicos and what are your responsibilities?

Odayne – My job is a Butler! As a personal butler I take care of all needs of my guests that are legal within the hotel policy and the country law.

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

6:30 A.M. – O.D. is on the job, getting the Cabana ready for his guests.

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

4. How long have you been with Beaches Resorts?

Odayne – I have been working with Sandals and Beaches for 9 years. I started off as a Bartender and now as a proud Butler.

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

**Editors Note – Odayne taught me how to make a Chocolate Martini and it has become a standard drink request at our home bar when we have friends & family over. If you have Odayne as your butler, ask him to make you one!! Those kind of skills need to be experienced first hand!! Here’s a shot of O.D. running the bar at the Chocolate Martini party a few years back!

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

5. Did you receive any special training to be a Butler at Beaches Turks & Caicos?

Odayne – I was trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers with Robert Watson who is the founder.

Editors Note: The Butler experience is clearly a much more personalized level of service and the training that Butlers go through to deliver this service to guests is intense. Candidates for the Butler team are hand selected to attend the training. We have no doubt about why Odayne was asked to become a Butler. O.D’s upbeat personality and willingness to go the extra mile was apparent from the first time we met.

All butlers trained by a Guild Certified Trainer are awarded a Guild Foundation certificate on completion of the training. Their performance and development is monitored by The Guild over a period of two years.

Once they have successfully completed this period they are awarded Associate Membership of The Guild. After a further three years as an Associate Member they qualify for Full Membership of The Guild.

For more on what you can expect from your Sandals Butler, take a look at this link: http://www.beaches.com/difference/butler-service.cfm

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

6. What can one of your guests do to make the most of their Butler Experience with you?

Beaches Turks & Caicos has a wide range of activities, from beach activities, to pool activities to waterpark and further more, the Entertainment Team has a large activity list that involves the guests on a daily basis and Island Routes provides some of the greatest tours on the island. More information on the tours offered by Island Routes can be found here.

7. Although I wont ask you to disclose all of your secret Butler surprises because those are things just for your guests to experience & enjoy, what is one of your favorite things to do for your guests?

As a butler you have to be creative. Everyday I try to invent something new, however there are some basic techniques of a butler that is displayed more often than others, eg. Towel fold at pool and beach, decorated dinner table, bubble bath etc. There are several other surprises that I will do, which I can’t expose before the guests actually come on vacation because to do a WOW, it means that you do something that the guests will never expect…

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

8. Most peoples lives are very busy these days and when on vacation, sometimes people like to cut loose a bit and have fun.  What’s the silliest / craziest thing you have seen at Beaches Turks & Caicos?

As you know, Beaches Turks & Caicos is a family resort with a lot of kids around. However some areas are adults only. I witness a lot of silly and crazy stuff but guess what????………. What happens on vacation normally stays there..

9. Where can you normally be found on property?

Since its a very large property I don’t find myself in one spot. However, if I am taking care of 3 families and they are hanging out in 3 different villages I try to be at a central location, otherwise I will mostly stay in the village that my guests 3 rooms are since I have to make sure that my rooms are clean and the in suite bar is always re stocked. On the other hand we give our butler guests a cell phone so they can reach me anytime. If the guest should leave the phone in there suite, they could go to the closest lobby area and the agent there will locate the butler for the guest. We have you covered from the time you arrive, till you leave!

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

10. Even though all of your guests are stars at Beaches Turks & Caicos, who are some of the celebs you have taken care of at the resort?

As you know all of our butler guest are VIP, some famous faces are; Shaquil Oneil, Dwayne Wade, Michael Jordon, Mark Brown etc…

Editors Note: I’m not too sure on that last guy, but thanks for the shout out O.D. ;0)’

11. Providenciales features some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world and most of the activities there focus on water related activities. What are some of the must-do activities that you recommend to your guests?

Beaches Turks & Caicos has a wide range of water sport activities that I would recommend like kayaking, water bike, stand up sail boarding, wind surfing etc. All these activities are included in the guest package.

Odayne Ewart Butler Beaches Turks & Caicos

12. Why should someone who is considering a trip to Beaches Turks & Caicos, but not quite sure yet, come there for a vacation, wedding or honeymoon?

Beaches Turks & Caicos has one of the best beaches on the planet and to be able to capture that background in your wedding pictures, why not!! Further more, we also offer a free wedding!   We also do some of the most romantic candlelight dinners on the beach, no honeymooner will want to miss a moment like that. And if your are a big fan of diving …WOW.. Nowhere like Beaches Turks & Caicos.

I have been working here in Beaches Turks & Caicos for over 7 years and each year its getting better. It is such an environment that captures the heart, mind and soul of all human beings that are blessed enough to visit this island. Even though I live here, I can’t get enough of such a wonderful resort on a such unique island. Our Chairman Mr. Gordon Butch Stewart along with the CEO Mr. Adam Stewart set the foundation for people around the world to discover some of the treasures of the Caribbean…… It is almost impossible to write a modern book of tourism without mention the world famous and number 1 family all inclusive resort – BEACHES TURKS & CAICOS.

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Beaches Turks & Caicos – Key West 2 Story, 2 Bedroom Concierge Suite

The new Key West Village at Beaches Turks & Caicos is a wonderful addition to the property. The new village adds another 3 restaurants to the property and a myriad of new lodging choices. We recently stayed at the property and in this blog post, we would like to focus on our lodging in the Key West 2 story, 2 bedroom Concierge Suite. Big thanks to our friends at Beaches Turks & Caicos for placing us in such a wonderful suite!

Beaches Turks & Caicos Key West Village

Key West Village - Beaches Turks & Caicos

Key West Village - Beaches Turks & Caicos

These suites have rich furnishings representing Key West. The living
room and dining room with a breakfast nook feature a fully equipped
kitchen with stainless steel, state of the art appliances, a large flat screen
TV and a dining table for 4.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Key West Village

Bedrooms feature a king size bed, double beds, a trundle and a flat screen TV. The bathrooms come equipped with a combination tub and shower and granite counters. The suites are two story and some feature a spiral staircase. Suites also boast a balcony.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Key West Village

Beaches Turks & Caicos Key West Village

Location: East Village and West Village inside Key West Village

1336 Square Feet – sleeps 6 people.

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Staff Spotlight – Omar Fletcher – Bartender – Sandals Whitehouse

Sandals Whitehouse sits on the lush & largely untouched south coast of Jamaica in an area where for many of the locals, time stands still.

The Stewart family saw this untapped area as a vacationer’s paradise…and they were right!!

What the Stewart family built here is a European-style Beach Resort and Spa, featuring three authentic architecturally designed villages – Italian, Dutch and French.

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They also brought the world class, Red Lane Spa with ten extensive treatment rooms and an oversized spa courtyard.

The suites at the resort are also fantastic and they overlook the 2 mile beach on Jamaica’s south coast where its a true beach walkers paradise.

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All of this is wonderful, but the real stars of Sandals Whitehouse, are the staff. The men and women of Sandals Whitehouse work tirelessly to bring the guests an experience that exceeds expectations day after day.

In this blog post, we would like to introduce you to one of their star crewmembers. Omar Fletcher is a mixmaster of the highest caliber and after hearing from Omar, we think you will agree. Seriously!! The guy has skills!!    sea

1. How long have you worked at Sandals Whitehouse?

Omar – I have worked at Sandals Whitehouse for 6 years.

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2. Where are you from originally?

Omar – I am from the Parish of Westmoreland and specifically the Savanna-La-Mar area.

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3. What’s your favorite / signature drink to make and what’s in it?

Omar – My favorite drink to make is called the “Island Cooler”. This drink contains pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, coconut rum, our very popular White Appleton Rum and Blue Curacao.

**Editors note – this one just made the home bar list!!

martini bar

4. Where can you normally be found on property?

Omar – I can normally be found in the Martini Bar….The best bar on property!!

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5. The beach at Sandals Whitehouse is a beach worshippers trinity of sun, sea, and sand and its great for long beach walks but what are some of the other things you recommend to guests that they must-do while in the Whitehouse area?

Omar – We have two great tour areas down this way.

YS Falls  is a package tour area example. In one part you have the falls ,zip lining,horse back riding and you can have lunch there. One of the best parts, is its all local foods. The ride takes 45-50 minutes from Sandals Whitehouse.

There is also a Appleton Rum tour. You  can also book lunch there and while on tour, you see how Jamaican’s used to make sugar and then turn it in to rum back in the 17 century.  There’s also an opportunity to taste all the rums and they actually have up to a 50 year old rum that is valued at about $5000 USD a bottle.

Another option is 1 hour from Sandals Whitehouse to the Pelican Bar and that’s also a tour on the catamaran boat from the resort. You can also head south and visit the Whitehouse community. There is also a Guest House on the south coast where you can learn about the history of slavery.

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6. What are some of your favorite times of the year down at Sandals Whitehouse and why?

Omar – I really like November because we have more people down here which means more fun for the guests and the staff.  December is also a great time because of Christmas season and we get to showcase traditional food and entertainment.

January is another wonderful month down here because of New Years Eve and we throw a great party with a lot of champagne.  The staff can also break lose that night which makes it that much more fun.  February we have reunion week. And there’s also April because its a great time with great weather.

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7. Why should someone who is considering a trip to Sandals Whitehouse, but not quite sure yet, come there?

Omar – Sandals Whitehouse is a complete dream come true. Its the kind of place where you can come & re-energize your life, your relationship with the one you love and free your mind from work when the stress of it all just makes you want to give up. So come to Sandals Whitehouse, visit with me, exhale, and let your mind be free for a while.

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NEWS RELEASE – BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 18th October 2013 – Sandals Resorts International (SRI), parent company of Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts, today applauded the Government of Barbados following the announcement of a deal which will result in opening of two resorts in the country.

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SRI and the Government of the Barbados reached the agreement following months of negotiations that will see the Caribbean’s leading resort company open the former Couples Resort in St Lawrence as a Sandals Resort as well as managing a new Beaches Resort set to be built on the site of the former Almond Beach Resort in St Peter.  

According to Sandals Resorts Chairman, Mr. Gordon “Butch” Stewart, the 10-acre former Couples property will open as a Sandals Luxury Included® Resort and will honor all existing commitments with guests who had booked to stay at Couples up until November 6th

Beach in Barbados

Stewart commented, “We are delighted to announce the opening of, not one, but two of our first ever resorts in this wonderful country of Barbados. Barbados and its people are so rich in culture, charm and personality and has been one of the leaders in Caribbean tourism for decades. We have been in discussions to bring our award-winning brands to this country for some time and are thrilled that negotiations have now been successfully concluded.

“In the former Couples Resort, I strongly believe that we have acquired one of the most beautiful properties in the entire island and we cannot wait to bring the full Luxury Included® experience here. We have been voted the world’s best time and time again and have more luxury inclusions than other resort on the planet and we promise to give the people of Barbados a resort to be proud of.”

Upon opening as Sandals Barbados, the resort will offer a selection of 280 luxury accommodations that range from beachfront suites to exquisite rooms situated in the resort’s lush tropical garden. A program of enhancements will be launched in order to ‘Sandalize’ the property immediately.

**Editors note – Pricing is up and available for immediate arrivals at Sandals Barbados. There is also a 300.00 air credit being offered.

In addition to the opening of Sandals Barbados, SRI also announced that an agreement has been reached with the Government of the Barbados regarding the building of a brand new Beaches Resort at the site of former Almond Beach Resort in St Peter, Barbados.

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“Since it first launched over 16 years ago, Beaches has captured the hearts and minds of holidaymakers everywhere and I can assure you that what we’re planning in Barbados will become one of the most sought after resorts in the entire world.”

“We are a Caribbean company that has been in business here for almost 33 years and no one knows this region like we do. It is an exciting time for Barbados and its people not to mention those looking for the best vacation experience imaginable. We believe the best days of Barbadian tourism lie ahead.

Sandals Resorts International’s arrival into Barbados marks another milestone of exciting expansion that has seen the recent opening of the Key West Village at their flagship Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos as well as the hugely anticipated opening of Sandals LaSource Grenada in December.

Barbados Specialist Certification CSS2013WMS

For more information and to book your trip to Sandals Barbados, please contact mark@island-breeze-travel.com or 517-917-0510

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