Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Quick Tour of Sandals Emerald Bay

I have been to the majority of the Sandals & Beaches properties. I know the resorts really well. However, Sandals Emerald Bay was one of the resorts that I had never been to before. I had the opportunity to visit it for a couple of hours (yes, I said hours) and check things out.

I have heard in the past that Sandals Emerald Bay, located on the Bahamian island Exuma, is very quiet. It used to be the Four Seasons until Sandals took it over. I can verify that, yes, the resort is on the quieter side. It isn't loud or a party resort, like Sandals Montego Bay. It is fantastic for older travelers that don't want to be bothered with the Spring Break type of crowd. Frankly, it is the perfect resort for me and my husband-- We aren't big partiers at all. Sandals Emerald Bay offers a serene location, beautiful beach, excellent food and high quality service. All of the rooms at Sandals Emerald Bay are either Concierge or Butler categories. The Concierge service is now called "Club Level" instead of "concierge." The club lounge is a great place to relax, cool off, and get some work done if you have to work while you are on your vacation. (Something I unfortunately know way too much about.)

Speaking of working while on vacation, Sandals Emerald Bay offers complimentary wifi throughout the resort for all of their guests. Previously, guests would have to pay $14.99 for a day of service if they wanted to access the Internet. This is only if you have basic internet and don't use live stream services, such as Skype. (Personally, I have no idea how they would know the difference...)

The Red Lane Spa at Sandals Emerald Bay is the largest spa in the Bahamas. I wish I had enough time to get a service done. They actually had models set up with services, so that we could look on our tour and be jealous. They had outdoor treatment areas as well as indoor, and it was split for men and women. The prices are a little more expensive than what you get at home, but so totally worth it. They use Peuvonia products in Red Lane. Since all of the rooms are Concierge and Butler, everyone has 24 hour access to the plunge pools, saunas, spas and so forth in Red Lane. Plus, guests can also take advantage of the fitness room and personal trainers on site.

Sandals Emerald Bay is the only resort in the Caribbean - and perhaps the world - where you can swim with pigs. (Yes, pigs.) While I didn't have the opportunity to take advantage of such a unique experience - and, even if I had the opportunity, I question myself as to whether or not I would - we were greeted by a Caribbean Junkanoo band. They played music for all of the travel agents that arrived and danced. It was a very lively greeting, and quite fun.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Sandals resorts, it is all-inclusive. Actually, Sandals calls themselves "Luxury Included" because the resorts include so much more than what you would get at other "all-inclusive" resorts: all food, all drinks, taxes, tips, fees, water sports, activities at the resort, snorkeling and even scuba diving-- two one tank dives or one two tank dive PER DAY. Where else can you get that? No where. Trust me-- I know. I've been everywhere.

Sandals Emerald Bay is a great place for a wedding or renewal of vow ceremony, especially for a second marriage because it is so secluded. While the resort is big -- 294 rooms -- it still feels quite intimate. There is no doubt as to how luxurious it is, either. Couples can get married on the beach and have their reception at the secluded reflecting pool and garden (pictured to the right). The Red Lane Spa has a salon where brides and her attendants can have their hair and makeup done. Weddings My Way gives brides the opportunity to design their own weddings based on their own tastes and styles. Or, if they prefer, they can choose a Martha Stewart theme and have everything chosen cot them in the specific package.

Overall, I like Sandals Emerald Bay. I think my husband would really like it. Because of the golf offered on property, I think my mom would really like it, too. If you are looking for quiet luxury in paradise, Sandals Emerald Bay is certainly a terrific option for you.

If you are interested in booking a vacation to Sandals Emerald Bay or anywhere else, please send me an email or call 850.DAY.TRIP and I will personally help you plan your vacation! That is, of course, when I return home from paradise myself...

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013 Tour of Sandals

I'm not going to lie... It has been a few years since I have even considered booking Sandals due to personal reasons. I've taken the majority of my destination wedding business to Mexico, which I love. Let's just sum it up by saying that I had a personality conflict with someone at Sandals who is no longer with the company.

That being said, my wonderful Business Development Manager, Andrea, came to me with an offer I couldn't refuse:  A Bahamian tour of the Sandals properties plus two nights at Beaches Turks and Caicos. Now, I haven't been to Sandals Royal Bahamian since December 2004. I've never been to Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma. And I haven't been to Beaches Turks & Caicos since 2009.

So, I said yes, and here I am. I am actually typing to you right now from the Concierge Club Room at Sandals Emerald Bay. I don't have internet access since I don't have a room here. At this property, basic wifi is free to all guests. If you're going to stream on the internet (like Skype), there is a charge-- either daily or weekly.

I took a bunch of pictures, but they are all on my iPad. Tonight when I do a review of Sandals Emerald Bay, I will be sure to post my pictures. Right now, however, I don't have them. And to be honest, I don't want to write a blog entry without the pictures. I just wanted to let you all know what to expect over the next three days.

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Viva Mexico!

Okay, so I've really neglected this blog. I'm sorry. In my defense, I have been ridiculously busy. But, I should never neglect my readers.  This is going to be a short entry, just to let you know that I'm thinking of you, and I'm still doing destination weddings!

Joe & Theressa - 5/16/13
I have been in Playa del Carmen, Mexico since yesterday for the fabulous beach wedding of Joe and Theressa. Such a nice couple!! They were married today (May 16, 2013) on Pelicanos Beach at The Royal in Playa del Carmen. The staff at The Royal always does an amazing job, and this time was no different. Working with Elsa for the past several months through the Real Resorts Wedding Center in Cancun was fantastic-- She paid such close attention to detail, and was really easy to work with. Then working with the lovely and talented Lorena at The Royal itself was phenomenal. Lorena always does a great job, and Joe & Theressa's wedding was stunning... Pure Magic, and a whole lot of fun.

It is wicked late here, though, and I'm sunburned something awful. I'm going to turn in and write a whole lot more tomorrow-- I promise. Joe and Theressa are a great couple, and their friends and family were awesome. I look forward to sharing details and pics with you tomorrow.

Just call me "Lobsterwoman"

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is an IATA Certified Travel Agent and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jacquie & Manny: Little Hiccup

Jacquie and Manny's wedding was absolutely beautiful. I'd like to say that there were no hiccups, but I'd lie. After all, every wedding has hiccups. Fortunately, these hiccups were only little and were barely noticeable. That is, AFTER the power came back on.

One Big, Happy Family (the night before the wedding)
Yes, AFTER the power came back on. The wedding was scheduled for 4:00pm. At about 2:30pm the power went off. It came back on pretty quickly in my building, but was out for a little while in the other two buildings. Ingrid and I were leaving to head to Jacquie's room and to meet the photographer anyway.
Mine & Ingrid's Room-- 5316
In Jacquie's room, her future sister-in-law Patty was applying her makeup. I sat on the couch with her other SIL Tess. Ingrid went to get Jorge, the photographer. None of us used the bathroom or tried to get any water. Jorge and Ingrid arrived, and he wanted to take pics of the wedding details-- rings, dress, flowers, etc. Tess called her boyfriend J.R. and asked him to bring over the rings.
The Lovely & Talented Ingrid
So, J.R. came to the room with the rings and I answered the door. he asked me, "Do you guys have running water?" I thought it was an odd question...but, I didn't know the answer. So, I flipped on the faucet. It gurgled, but no water. The guys were in building one, Jacquie was in building three and our room as in building five, so I suggested that I head over to my room to see if we had running water so that the guys could shower. J.R. thanked me, I handed the rings to Jorge and off I went to our room.
No tenemos agua!
Well, we didn't have any water, either. It was a resort-wide issue. NO WATER. None. Well, except for the pool and the ocean... I even stayed in my room with the faucet on for 10 minutes to see if it would turn back on. No dice. I headed back to Jacquie's room at 3:30. The guys improvides and washed hair and whatnot with bottled water. Fortunately, the women didn't have to deal with it. And you know what I always say... A happy bride means a happy wedding!
No water here, either...
Still, the guys made it to the ceremony on time. So did all of the guests. So did the bride and everyone else. More on the ceremony soon...

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Jacquie & Manny: Rain, Rain Go Away!

When Ingrid and I landed in the DR yesterday, it was cold (well, for the Caribbean), windy and overcast. Immediately, we were nervous about the weather for the wedding. But, this isn't supposed to be rainy season in the Caribbean, much less the Dominican Republic, so we weren't that worried. The people that helped us with our transfer (with VIP Travel Services) told us not to worry-- Tomorrow would be raining in the morning, but would clear up after noon.

Overcast when we arrived to Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana on 3/7/12
Well, they weren't kidding. Ingrid and I woke up to what looked like a hurricane. Everything was SO wet everywhere! Men with squeegees moved the water around, trying to push it into the grass from the walkways. It was POURING. Ingrid and I went to breakfast when there was a break in the rain, but it was so windy. At least we won't have to worry about sunburns, eh?

Yesterday at 4:00, there was another wedding (which I did not plan). Know what? The weather was BEAUTIFUL. Everything was set up perfectly and the bride looked fantastic. They say that rain is good luck on your wedding day... We're good with that, as long as it doesn't rain DURING the ceremony and reception!

Yesterday's wedding at 4pm

A beautiful & happy bride

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Jacquie & Manny: Greetings From The Dominican Republic!

A wedding set up the day we got to the DR
I have sent many clients to the Dominican Republic. I have had many weddings there, too-- including one of my independent agents, Jessica, last month. However, I have never had a client request for me to attend their wedding in the D.R. You see, everyone who plans a wedding with me has the option of having me attend their wedding. The ones that want to cut corners don't have me go, and my job is done before they leave. The ones that want to make sure they have me in their corner throughout their wedding ceremony and festivities usually know that they are going to bring me along immediately.

Such was the case with Jacquie and Manny.

First and foremost, I want to say that Jacquie should get the Bride of the Year award. Seriously-- I'm not pulling one of my sarcastic moments here Jacquie is amazing. Her husband, Manny, is one lucky dude. (That being said, Manny is also a terrific guy-- They're the perfect match.) Jacquie has been absolutely wonderful since starting planning her wedding in February 2011. She has been nothing less than wonderful... And she has actually apologized for being a Bridezilla! (We had a talk about what a bridezilla really is.) Jacquie even sent me a dozen cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake before she left for her destination wedding.

The first snag I hit was that NONE of the people that I usually travel with and use as my assistants were able to go. Ebony has a new baby she doesn't want to leave yet, Kira had a prior commitment, I'm using Christine next week in Vegas... The list goes on and on. So, I contacted the AFWPI (Association for Wedding Professionals International) and let them know that I would be happy to take someone to the D.R. with me if they wanted to learn how to do destination weddings firsthand.

Fortunately, Ingrid Wiggberg of The Party Makers sent me a private message pretty much immediately sent me an email saying she wanted to go. I knew Ingrid because she already took the AFWPI Destination Wedding Specialist Certification Course that I created and taught (and still teach). I was delighted that she was able to come. She even met me at the airport, and we flew together-- with an upgrade to first class!!
Candy & Ingred while checking in at Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana
Well, speaking of my fabulous assistant, she just informed me that she wants breakfast. So, off we go to the bufffet here at Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana. More coming soon!

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Exciting Events on Horizon

 I love Mexico. I have been a big fan of Mexico since attending Love Mexico in May of 2010. Sure, I had been to Mexico on my own vacations and booked clients there before then, but I really got to learn a lot about Mexico and meet some key people at the various Love Mexico events that I have attended since then. I have planned many different destination weddings in Riviera Maya and Cancun, as well as group trips to Los Cabos. I have personally been to Mexico more than a dozen times since October 2010.

Debi & John's wedding 7/30/11 at Gran Caribe Real (Photo by Cassandra Mooney)
The most recent wedding I created was at Gran Caribe Real in Cancun. It was AMAZING. I've got to give a "shout out" to my counterpart at Gran Caribe Real, Diana Rodriguez. If you happen to get married at The Royal Cancun or Gran Caribe Real (and you don't use my services), make sure you request Diana. The food was fantastic, the DJ was amazing, the bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, and everything went off without a hitch. It was a magical wedding, and I can't wait to work with Real Resorts again to make someone else's dreams come true. (By the way, I am SO sorry for not blogging sooner.)

Photo Montage by Cassandra Mooney, Blue Sky Photography
The main reason why I like Mexico as a destination for weddings is because of the value that both couples and guests can get there. While Mexico has a bad reputation in the USA for being dangerous, people must realize that not going to Cancun because of violence in Tijuana is like not going to Disney World because of violence in New York. People, you're not having your wedding at a taco stand on the border. And bridal couples would NEVER put their guests in danger. Be rational and open your minds to having (or attending) a destination wedding in Mexico.
John, the groom - 7/30/11 (Photos by Cassandra Mooney)
Because there is such a stigma attached to Mexico, I came up with an idea to help tourism to the country, as well as enlighten and educate people about destination weddings in Mexico. What is it? My lips are sealed. I'll give you a hint, though... It is going to occur on 12/12/12. And it's going to be BIG. But, that's all I'm going to say for now...

Candice Cain is the owner of the Candy Cain Travel Co. She is a Certified Sandals Specialist and a Destination Wedding Expert. Please feel free to email her for help with your destination wedding!