All Inclusive Nuevo Vallarta – Marival Residences & World Spa


I learned about this incredible, luxurious, all-inclusive resort at an all day event put on by WESTA, the consortium that my host travel agency belongs to.  I have to say, I was blown away!  When I checked out the prices, especially with the 40% off special they are offering right now, I was even more excited to let my clients know about this fabulous resort which is located in the heard of Nuevo Vallarta, just 10 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta airport. 

The 1 – 4 bedroom residences start at 1400 square feet, sleeping 3 – 11 guests.  There are only 162 residences total, so you won’t feel crowded like you do in some mega-resorts.  The 7 villas, each with a private pool, have three bedrooms and are an incredible 3940 square feet.  Although this is a fully all-inclusive resort, the residences do include a full kitchen and all the modern comforts & amenities you would find in a luxurious home. 

Marival Residences & World Spa the inclusions:5 star Gourmet Dining in your choice of 3 restaurants.

  • All beverages, including national & premium brand drinks.
  • Featured house wines at the Brunello wine bar
  • Complimentary water, soft drinks & beer in rooms.
  • UNLIMITED rounds of golf (not including cart fee).
  • One FREE tour, with additional select tours for $30 per person (catamaran sailing, Zip Lining, City Tour, Dolphin Encounters, etc.)
  • PrivateVIPBeach Club with full food & beverage service & concierge services.
  • Second all-inclusive resort included with exchange priveliges at Marival Resort & Suites including free shuttle service.
  • Kids 0-6 stay free. 

Also available for additional fees are the Melange World Spa, beauty salon, tennis lessons, babysitter service, and Bug’s Kids Club. 

Additional amenities include:

  • Bathrobes & Slippers
  • Luxury bedding & pillow menu
  • Private adults only pool
  • Kids pool
  • Flat screen TV’s & IPOD docking station 

Marival Residences & World Spa has some Perfect Perfect Romance packages, starting with a FREE Wedding Package valued at $2500.  The package includes judge fees & Nwedding certificate; decorated location; tropical wedding toast with Margaritas & Martinis, Bride’s bouquet & Groom’s bouttoniere; 3 course dinner for wedding group; 30 massage for the bride & groom; and more.  Honeymooners and Anniversary couples will also merit special treatment. 

That is a start of what you will experience when you visit Marival Residences & World Spa.  

And, I don’t want to forget to mention, that they are offering some special amenities to travel agents that are members of WESTA – including a $100 Spa Credit.  

(One of the vendors I met with on Saturday represents a Luxury all-inclusive resort in Nuevo Vallarta, with suites starting at 1400 square feet.  Not only are all your meals and beverages included, but you get unlimited golf at 3 difference courses PLUS one free tour with additional tours at only $30 per person.  And exclusive benefits for members of my consortia include a $100 spa credit and room upgrade if available.  I always learn so much at these events!  I want to go now.  Oh, and did I mention, they are offering 40% off for winter and spring stays.)

Perfect Paradise Vacations can get you all of these amenities and disounts.  Call 206-433-0721.

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Aloha Beachside B&B – A Little Bit of Hawaii in The Pacific NW


Aloha Beachside B&B Located in Wauna

I had a little time off a couple of weeks ago and decided to do some exploring in my local area.  I had seen signs for the Aloha Beachside Bed & Breakfast, but had never actually seen it.  I wasn’t sure exactly where it was, but it turns out I had driven right past it quite often.

I pulled in without having made an appointment, hoping that I would be able to take a look around.  The owner, Lalaine Wong, being full of the Aloha spirit took the time to show me around, even though she was in the midst of cleaning up after a busy weekend. 

I learned that there are 5 rooms at the Aloha Bed & Breakfast, and all come with a full breakfast.  There are 3 rooms in the main house, and 2 more in the Cabana which is below the main house closer to the beach.

The best room in the main house is the King Kamehameha Room which has views out over the water (even from the tub in the huge bathroom) and direct access to the deck.  This is also called the Honeymoon Suite.  My next choice would be the Queen Liliokalani room which has a nice chaise lounge and working fireplace.  This is a small room near the front door, but it does have it’s own private bath.

The views from the deck on this level are stunning. 

Aloha Beachside B&BAloha Beachside B&B

If you’re traveling with family, the Ohana Room is downstairs and includes a queen bed plus 2 twins; a full living room; a full kitchen and dining area.  It also has a working fireplace. 

The Cabana would be the perfect place for a family or 2 couples traveling together.  It has 2 bedrooms and a shared living room, full kitchen and dining area.  There is a small gazebo outside which would be a perfect place to sit with a book and relax for awhile.  There is also a natural waterfall that can be seen from the deck of the Cabana. 

Aloha Beachside B&B

There are charming touches throughout the property, including a bench at the entry to the cabana. 

Aloha Beachside B&B – Great Choice for a Romantic Getaway

If you are looking for a place close to home to just get away for a night or 2, Aloha Beachside Bed & Breakfast is a great choice.  It is close to Gig Harbor with it’s charming waterfront full of galleries, shops and restaurants.  It is about an hour from Seattle, but will make you feel like you are an ocean away.

Enjoy the Aloha Spirit – Visit Aloha Beachside B&B

And remember, Perfect Paradise Vacations can help you with your plans to stay here.

A Day in Gig Harbor?


Have you been to Gig Harbor lately?

It’s a fun place to spend a sunny day or two.  There really is a lot to see and do in this charming little town.  You can stroll along the waterfront exploring the interesting shops and art galleries.  They have their Art Walk on the first Saturday of every month with spotlighted artists in the galleries.  You can spend most of the day just poking around, from the antique mall, to Java & Clay. to looking at the boats in the marina. to checking out the Harbor History Museum and much more.

If you want to get out on the water you might want to take a tour with Destiny Harbor Tours.  Captain Tom Drohan is an expert on the history of the area, and makes it fun and entertaining.  You will go out of Gig Harbor, under the Narrows Bridge.  Narrows Bridge - Close UpYou’ll also cruise by the interesting community of Salmon Beach and past Point Defiance Park before turning around and heading back to Gig Harbor.  If you’re lucky you might see some eagles Bald Eagleor harbor seals.

Back on land, you’re probably getting hungry.  If you’ve brought the kids, Kelly’s Espresso and Café is a great place to eat.  It’s bright and friendly with a varied menu so there’s something for everyone.  If you like Mexican food, El Pueblito is right across from the water on Harborside Avenue.  If it’s just the grownups, you will definitely want to go to The Tides and sit out on the deck of this historic eatery.  You might also want to venture up the hill away from downtown and check out The Wine Studio – a charming, warm and inviting wine bar and shop.  They have tastings on Friday night and Saturday afternoons.  You might also check out Gig Harbor’s own 7 Seas Brewery.  Both of these are located next to The Inn at Gig Harbor, a good choice if you decide to stay the night (which after tasting wine and beer might be a good idea).  You can book this hotel as well as the Best Western Plus Wesley Inn and Suites on my website.

There is a lot more to do here.  There are parks and beaches, which are always fun for the family.  You can drive out to Key Peninsula to visit Blue Willow Lavendar Farm. There is the Maritime Gig Festival in June, the Gig Harbor Food and Wine Festival in July and more.  Outdoor music in the park on Tuesdays and Movies in the Park on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer.  A good place to find all the happenings is at www.gigharborguide.com.

So get out and play tourist in your own Pacific Northwest.  I love to explore out area.  We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful place with so many exciting places to see and things to do.

Ruby Princess – Day 7 – At Sea


Our last day was at sea. I really do enjoy sea days and like to have the last day on the ship be at sea so that I can just relax.  I started out this day by going to a Culinary presentation in the main theater and then a galley tour.  It was really interesting.  Of course, I didn’t take notes, but besides demonstrating how to make a simple pasta dish and a Caesar salad with dressing, they also told us how many eggs, bread rolls and some other staggering statistics from the kitchen.  The galley we toured serves both of the main dining rooms.   

After this I headed out to the pool with my niece, her son and boyfriend.  We had some cocktails and got some sun.  They had a lot of fun stuff going on right next to us including a cocktail making competition and ice sculpting demonstration.  I won a free cocktail – yay!!  At some point we went up and played miniature golf – it’s a pretty lame course, but a way to kill some time.  We also found the “video arcade” with 4 ancient games in it that evidently eat your money.         

This day was pretty much like our other at sea day.  I’m going to finish this post with my overall review of the Ruby Princess.

I hadn’t cruised in about 4 years and this was my first time with Princess, and I have to say I was a little disappointed.  Since I’ve come back I’ve done some research and it seems that I am not alone – the overall cruise experience on the “mass market” cruise lines seems to have gone down in the last few years.  The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship with a lot of great things.  I loved the International Café; Vines Wine Bar could have been more enclosed to make it feel more special, but the service was good; the Crown Grill was incredible; Princess Cayes was a nice alternative to having a 3rd sea day; the entertainment was good; the internet café had plenty of computer and the speed was much better than in the past; the Trident Grill made good burgers; the adults only Terrace Pool was a plus as well.  On the down side, I found the food in the main dining room to be uninspired – the preparation was good, but the choices were not very interesting; the overall service on the ship was lacking – although my room steward, Henry, was very friendly and did a good job; the Casino had a sign up one morning that it would be smoke free that evening, but when I went in people were smoking; I didn’t like the big screen over the Calypso Pool with movies & concerts playing all day – it was too noisy for me and this was where the comfy lounge chairs were – although I thought Movies Under the Stars at night was a great idea. 

I just did not feel the WOW factor that I’ve had in my previous 5 cruises.  I will definitely not set my expectations so high the next time I go cruising.

That’s it for the cruise.  We were back inFort Lauderdalethe next day.  We stayed over one night at theCrownePlazanear the port/airport.  It was really nice and comfortable and in a very convenient location.  I would recommend this hotel.  We rented a car and drove down to Miami to check out South Beach.  Had a little lunch and walked on the beach.  It was very windy and a little overcast, but still warm.  This was a nice relaxing end to our week.

Ruby Princess – Day 5 – St. Thomas


I’ve been to St. Thomas several times before, but I do love it so was excited to go back again.  This time the plan was pretty much the same as in the past – a little shopping, then head to the beach.  I woke up not feeling great – a little too much rich food, I think – so I decided to skip the shopping and just meet up at Lindbergh Beach.  It was nice to sleep in a little, have a light and leisurely breakfast, and get off the ship after most people had already gone.  It was a little strange when I was walking out of the port area (which always has some shops and such for those who don’t want to venture too far) to see all the Christmas trees and decorations.  It just didn’t feel like Christmas was approaching with the sunshine and 80 degree weather. 

I had a little trouble getting a taxi because I was alone and the trip to the beach was only $4 per person.  In the islands it often costs so much a person and the drivers weren’t going to make anything off of me.  Finally one driver said he would take me – and he had a full size van.  It’s a quick trip and most people were already off the ship so he was good with it.  By the time I got there the family was already there.  Dennis (or Jacques as I’d started calling him) was out swimming with his goggles on looking for fish.  Danielle was at the bar ordering Red Stripes – thank goodness she saw me in time to add one to her order.  I pulled a chair up next to theirs, paid my $6 to the gentleman who was in charge, drank a little beer, then headed into the water. 

When we found this beach 5 years ago, it was pretty unknown and deserted.  More people have found it, but it’s still much less crowded than some of the more popular beaches on the island.  Last time there were 2 vendors, this time none.  The area we sit on is in front of the Island Beachcomber hotel.  There is a great little bar there for drinks and lunch.         

Right behind the beach is the airport, but there are not a lot of flights so the noise is not a problem. 

This hotel is adjacent to the Best Western Emerald Bayand the beach on that side is a little more crowded.  I would definitely consider staying at the Emerald Bay in the future.  I have had clients stay here and after seeing the beach the first time I understood why they enjoyed it so much.    

One of the great things is that this is a nice little cove which is great for swimming.  You can go quite a ways out and still touch bottom – it’s all nice and sandy with no drop offs.  We spent several nice hours here drinking beer, swimming, sunning and having a little lunch.  The only fish we really saw were close to shore – there were a bunch of silver fish about 4 – 6 inches long, when one would come up to you suddenly there would be a bunch of them.  Kind of freaky.  There were a couple of sailboats moored in the cove – I seriously considered swimming out and stowing away on one so I wouldn’t have to come home.              

The taxi drivers on these islands are great.  They know when the ships leave and they start coming around to the beaches an hour or so before you really have to leave to make sure that everyone gets back.  I guess they know that we are going to lose track of time.  We rode back in one of the open air jitneys – this is my nephew wearing the cool sunglasses he bought in town that morning.     

Although we had a fabulous day at the beach, we were looking forward to that night because we had reservations at the Crown Grill.  I’ve always been one of those people who couldn’t understand why, when there is so much fabulous food included with the price of the cruise, anyone would want to spend $20 – $30 to eat in the specialty restaurants.  I decided that as a travel consultant I should try it so that I could advise my clients as to whether it was really worth it. 

We started with the appetizer – most of us had scallops and foie gras.  I’d never had foie gras before, and frankly didn’t like it so passed it off to Dennis.  The scallops were fabulous though!  I had the goat cheese salad which was really tasty.  For the main course my nephew ordered a 22 ounce Porterhouse, my niece and I ordered the Maine Lobster Tails (we didn’t notice the plural and thought we were getting one 4 ounce tail).  This is what we got! 

Amazing.  And we still had dessert to come.

We were at the restaurant for 2 ½ hours.  The service was wonderful – we really enjoyed this experience.  I am a believer now!  This was a fabulous dining experience.  For $25 per person ($12.50 for my 12 year old nephew), you can’t beat it.  I will always recommend that my clients try the specialty restaurant at least one night during their cruises from now on.

I think I’m going to need to spend a week on St. Thomas so that I can see some other beaches, take the ferry over to St.  John and see what else it has to offer.

The exciting life of a Travel Agent


As a travel agent, you probably think I travel all the time.  Oh, how I wish I could.  But who would take care of my clients and book their trips if I was traveling?  And my dog would miss me.  And then, there’s that pesky part time job that pays the bills during slow travel months.  Instead, I spend a lot of time reading travel magazines – both mainstream and industry publications; taking webinars and classes offered by tourist bureaus, hotel/resort companies, The Travel Institute, etc.; and of course, watching The Travel Channel.

This past weekend we had a rare, for us this summer, beautiful warm weekend.  Normally I would spend the whole weekend outside enjoying the sun, but this weekend I was suffering from a toothache and 2 sleepless nights.  I did get some pain meds from my dentist on Saturday (thank you so much, Dr. Fisher!) but still had very little energy by Sunday afternoon.  So, I turned on the Travel Channel and they had two great back to back episodes that featured beaches in the United States.  Since I specialize in tropical destinations and beach vacations I tuned right in, and took notes.  I wanted to share some of what I learned.

The first episode was on Extreme Beach Experiences and first aired in 2007.  Here are some beaches you might want to check out depending on your interests.

Sand Dollar Beach at Big Sur,CA.  This made the list for Surf Kayaking which utilizes a modified kayak to ride the waves like you would in surfing.  It looked pretty amazing and I would love to go to watch, but don’t think I would try it.  This is on a beautiful, long stretch of beach at Big Sur, and you find the entrance at Los Padres National Forest.  The best time to go is September.

Extreme Happy Hour can be experiences at Shooters Waterfront Café inFort Lauderdale on the Intercoastal waterway.  This sounds like a pretty happening place if you are into a party – million dollar yachts, fresh seafood, daily specials, entertainment, special events and best of all, great people watching!

How about some Extreme Snorkeling on the North Shore of Oahu.  North Shore Shark Adventures will take you out (best time is early morning) to “swim with the sharks”.  Don’t worry, you will be safe in the shark cage they put you in before they start throwing bloody bait into the ocean around you to attract the sharks.  I think this is something I might be willing to try.

Newport Beach, CA offers extreme body boarding at “The Wedge”.  The waves break at a depth of 1 – 2 feet so if you wipe out, you may seriously wipe out.  One of my friends told me the did this when she was a bit younger, and it is pretty crazy.  I might watch, but won’t partake. 

For extreme sports, Huntington Beach, CA has it all.  The Travel Channel said they have Beach Games during the first 2 weeks of July, but I can’t find it on their calendar.  However, there are tons of events going on all the time – surfing, volleyball, skateboarding contests, music & entertainment. Huntington Beachhas been known as “Surf City, USA”.  Definitely a fun place to spend a few days anytime.

You might also want to try some extreme swimming (read very cold) at the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska.  You can also do extreme salmon fishing on a river near here where your guide will be equipped with a loaded gun in case a brown bear wants to challenge you for your catch (this one you can do as an excursion from your cruise). 

The second episode I watched was about the 10 best Florida beaches.  This originally aired in 2003 so some things may have changed in the last 8 years.  But, I would still love to visit a few of these beaches.  I’ll just list them briefly:

#10,Daytona Beach– 23 miles long, best for activities such as surfing; rides and fun on the boardwalk; biking, ATV’s or golf cart rides on the beach; or just drive your car onto the beach til you find your spot and spend the day.  #9, Sanibel Island – one of the best places for shell collecting in the world – great sunsets, relaxing, and friendly people.  #8, Panama Beach – best for Spring Break – 500,000 come then – 26 miles long – 19,000 hotel rooms and the businesses cater to the Spring Break party crowd during March – the other 11 months it’s a quiet, cozy beach town.  #7, Sandspur Beach on Bahia Honda Key – secluded, quiet, relaxing – 3 miles of beach.  #6, Smathers Beach on Key West– this spot is closer to Havana than toMiami– it was built with imported sand from theBahamas– volleyball, sunsets, nightlife on famous Duval Street.  #5, Clearwater Beach near St. Petersburg on the gulf is a boaters paradise with soft, white sand.  #4, Lovers Key – secluded for romance – boating, canoeing, biking – outside Fort Myers.  #3, Palm Beach– the playground of the rich and famous – high end shops – rub elbows with the wealthy.  #2, Siesta Key Beach on the gulf coast near Sarasota– the white, sugary sand is the softest you will find – volleyball, swimming, watersports – and sand sculptures.  #1 is no surprise –South Beach, Miami.

So, that’s how this travel agent spend the last, beautiful, sunny weekend we had here in thePacific Northwest!