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Hotel Review: El Dorado Seaside Suites

Every so often I find a new gem of a hotel to love and this is it in the all inclusive category.

One thing to note is that while on this trip, all the beaches were filled with a quite invasive weed called Sargassum; read all about it here.

Needless to say all the hotels in the area tried to keep up with it but it seemed determined to take over all the beaches. This did not dampen the fun at the resort as there was the pool and of course my favorite hide out space on my balcony pool. I still had a fabulous time!

Hotel: El Dorado Seaside Suites by Karisma

Location: Riviera Maya, Mexico

Time of Visit: July 2018

Overview: Having visited the Cancun hotel zone many years ago  I much prefer the Rivieria Maya and Playa del Carmen area. It's more of a peaceful zone with lots of upscale all inclusive properties such as the Grand Velas, Banyan Tree Mayakoba and more. Additionally many of the attractions such as Tulum, Xcaret and Dolphinaris are all nearby. 

What I Loved: The swimout pools on your balcony were the best. They offer a peaceful oasis for swimming and a great  to view watch the morning sun. If you want something a bit more lively choose a room that has a swimup pool on the main level in the Infinity section. These pools are attached to the main activity pool, placing you right in the center of the action.  

You won't find the balcony swim out pools in the Palms section but many do offer the swim up pool attached to a lazy river. The Palms section is also just as nice and has the walkable and more swimable beach. 

Thinking about spending the day at the beach? Be sure to grab yourself a Bali bed and reserve it before breakfast. Don't forget to bring an empty beach bag to hold your bed so no one thinks it's empty. 

Accommodations: Very spacious rooms indeed. You won't feel cramped if you have 3 people in the room. Each room  comes with a whirlpool bathtub in the bathroom. 

In room whirlpool

In room whirlpool

Food: The buffets better known as the Gourmet Inclusive Experience were worth it. There was a variety of options everyday. If you want something other than the buffet try one of their a la carte restaurants. Although get there before 7pm as it can be a wait of 40 minutes or more for one of those restaurants. If you are looking to dine at 8pm or later choose one of the  buffets instead. 

Fun Fact: The produce is fresh because it's grown in the company's greenhouse year round. 

Appetizer from Mia Casa- an Italian a la carte restaurant

Appetizer from Mia Casa- an Italian a la carte restaurant

Spa: The resort has a very relaxing spa called the Naay Spa where you can go through the water theraphy. This was a series of body mud, followed by hot and cold steams before reaching the main pool and lastly the hot, warm and cold baths. Your spa butler will explain the purpose of each station and guide you along in the session. You should factor in an hour before your massage in order to enjoy the water theraphy.

Note: There are 2 spas one in Infinity section with no water therapy and one at the main building with the water therapy  

Things to Know: Leave the AC on in your room, no matter how cold it is especially  if you're in the Infinity section. If you don't the humidity will build up and cause you to have a very slippery floor.  Secondly, this hotel is an all-inclusvie adults only hotel, making it great for hotel for couples looking to rekindle their romance.  Lastly the walls are thin, I could the conversations in the next room. 

Sister Resorts: This resort is part of the overall Karisma Hotel brand with several locations around the world including Croatia, Jamaica and Dominican Republic just to name a few. I visited its other Mexico resorts such as the Casitas Royale, the Eldorado Maroma Suites and the Azul Properties in the surrounding area. The one thing that each property had in common was their proximity to the beach. Unlike the behomth properties you don't have to walk far to get to the beach from your room.

Still each had their own nuances. For instance, the Maroma Suites has the Palofitos, which are the overwater bungalows. I orignally thought the water below them was deep but it isn't and allows for a soak in the crystal blue waters and to view the small fish that wade in the water. Meanwhile a stay at the Casitas will allow you access to 3 resorts, Generations Riviera Maya and El Dorado Royale and so on. 

There's so much more to say about these resorts but it's  best  to experience them yourself.

Looking for more of our first hand reviews check out the following posts!

Ready to go? Ask us how we can get you there by dropping us an email at info@tripstravelagency.com

Until next time, keep traveling!

KJ

Guest Blogger Series: Creating Great Vacation Photos

This guest post was written by the talented Laurelle Farrell of AR Images

We can all travel and take a few snapshots, but what if you want to come home with artwork that stands the test of time? Here are my tips and tricks to capture images that will find a home among your walls and photo albums. Travel photography is a very deliberate art, so don’t forget to plan ahead of time.

Make the Time:

DSC01192.jpg

Scheduling your day too tightly will lead to rushed photographs. If there is an area where you know you will want to stop, make sure your have time in between excursions or tours.

While planning landscape photos try to arrive early in the day or close to dusk. This will allow for the best lighting.

Communicate:

Your spouse or travel companions may not want to wait as you create artwork. Make sure they are aware of any time when you may be absorbed in your camera for a while. They just may choose to find a local coffee shop while you create your art.

Pack with Care:

You may have a whole arsenal of lenses and flashes at home, but do you want to carry it all? Pick one or two lenses to bring with you that will cover your bases. A wider pick such as a 17mm -55mm will have you covered for landscapes and cityscapes. A standard 80mm fixed lens will give you some zoom without being bulky. A 50mm 1.8 will give you speed and versatility within an extremely lightweight lens. Get to know your location. If you feel a longer zoom is needed a 70mm-200mm is a great versatile choice.

Murano Italy, Nikon D3S Nikon Zoom Nikor 177-55mm 2.8

Murano Italy, Nikon D3S Nikon Zoom Nikor 177-55mm 2.8

Keep it Safe:

Packing light will help you to not be overloaded as you may want to keep your gear on your person at all times. If you do leave gear behind be sure to lock it in your hotel room safe. Call ahead of your travel date to ensure that any items you wish to bring will fit in this space.

Mix it Up:

We are lucky enough to not be held back by fear of wasting film. Change your angle. Get higher and lower. Play with your focus points and depth of field. You won’t ever regret having too many photos, but you may regret wishing your composition was just slightly different.

Know your surroundings:

Headed to the beach? You won't want to take your removable lens off in any location with sand or high winds as you will risk damaging your camera’s sensor. Either stick to one lens or travel with a smaller point and shoot for days when a DSLR isn’t practical.

San Juan Puerto Rico Nikon D3S Nikon Nikor 50mm 1.8

San Juan Puerto Rico Nikon D3S Nikon Nikor 50mm 1.8

Break up with Auto Mode:

Burano Italy, Nikon D3S Nikon Zoom Nikor 17-55mm 2.8

Burano Italy, Nikon D3S Nikon Zoom Nikor 17-55mm 2.8

If you’re still using your camera's fully automatic functions you may want to consider a class as you prepare for your trip. Learning how to creatively control your aperture and shutter speed will give you the ability to create the images your desire.

Your camera’s auto mode is only looking to absorb the proper amount of light. Often times this leads to slower shutter speeds that you will not be able to hand hold. Not knowing how to control this could lead to blurred images that could otherwise have been avoided.

 Best of luck with your travel photography!


About Laurelle

Laurelle Farrell is owner and principal photographer at AR Images where she specializes in wedding and lifestyle portraiture with a strong emphasis on custom album design. In addtion to her photography work, Laurelle is co-owner and executive director of Timeless Bridal Creations, an alternative bouquet company offering individually handcrafted alternative bouquets. She teaches several photography courses throughout the Boston area and earned her certificate in professional photography from Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts

3 Steps to Taking Time Off

Now that you’re done with the holiday’s it’s time to start thinking how you will use those vacation days for 2018. 

Why now you ask? Well if you're like most Americans you only get 2 weeks for vacation and not enough sick days for all the "mental health" days you will need to counter the burnout.  Combat any and all burnout by planning time off early and wisely. 

Here are 3 easy steps for making the most of those vacation days.

1) Schedule It  

I always say if it’s not on my calendar it doesn’t exist. The same goes for vacation if you don’t schedule time off you won’t get time off. January is the month to pull out your calendar and start looking at possible dates and destinations. While you may not know where you want to go for that entire 2-week vacation time pick one week for your big vacation and spread out 2 days here, 1 day here and so on along the way. Don’t forget to leave days open for weddings, birthday trips, bachelorette parties and more.  

2) Use Holidays Wisely

If you’re not getting paid overtime for working a holiday, always plan to travel around established holidays such as Martin Luther King Day (Monday, January 15, 2018), Memorial Day ( Monday, May 28, 2018). The holidays observed on Monday’s make it easy because you already get an extra day added to the mix. You can easily tack on a Friday as well to make it a 4 day weekend

It does get a little trickier on holidays like Independence Day which lands on a Wednesday this year.  Even holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas can be tricky when everyone in the office wants the days leading up to them or after them off. If you can't get the day before these holidays off, fly early on the day of, prices are usually cheaper then. 

3) Book Early

Booking early gets you the best options. Booking last minute at last minute deals gets you what’s left. But here’s the thing the travel industry is gradually moving away from last minute deals and rewarding those who book early with preferential rates, special packages and more. This is especially true with cruises on most of the popular routes. You’ll more likely find the best deals in January when the industry pushes its biggest sales and biggest incentives. Sometimes the early rates may be non refundable, which makes it a good idea to buy good travel insurance should you need to cancel the trip. 

In the end it all boils down to using your time wisely, making the best of your vacation and having time to rest, relax and rejuvenate. 

Happy Travels!!

KJ

KJ is the owner of Trips Travel Agency. She loves to travel and creating bespoke itineraries for her clients. She is currently learning as much as she can about the beauty of Colombia and all that it offers. Need help planning a trip, send a request to info@tripstravelagency.com




 

The Case for Travel Insurance

You've booked the flight, hotel, tours and restaurants. But have you protected your vacation investment? Investment what investment you say.  Well consider the scenarios below.

Scenario 1: Traveler A doesn't by travel insurance and travels to an island and falls ill with food poising. Client A sees a doctor and receives a bill for $1000

Scenario 2: Traveler B books cruise and gets hurt on the island and needs to be evacuated by helicopter to the nearest hospital. Client B bought travel insurance. 

Using these easy scenarios it's easy to see that Traveler B gets covered for their medical evacuation because they bought travel insurance. 

Travel insurance is one of those items that no one thinks of purchasing until something happens. But did you know that travel insurance protects you in case you miss a connecting flight, lose luggage or get sick? Some, not many will cover you should you decide to not go at all on your trip! Let's delve into why you need it and should buy it.

  1.  It's required:
    • Many tour companies especially the adventurous tours require travel insurance and will require proof of it. Some may even require it to cover altitude sickness 
  2. You have a known pre-existing medical condition:
    • Knowing you have a pre-existing medical condition, it probably is a good idea to get travel insurance. Who knows what kind of medical attention you will need on your trip. If you need to see a doctor overseas medical insurance comes in handy. Just submit the receipts (in English) to get reimbursed. 
  3.  Your work schedule is unpredictable:
    • Have a schedule that is constantly changing but booked that family trip? This is the time to buy travel insurance especially if many of the components of the trip are non refundable. Some companies have options for those who need to cancel a trip because of work. 
  4. It's extra protection:
    • Usually if insurance doesn't cover it all, check to see what the policy says. This rings true for lost luggage. Most airlines already have an amount they will reimburse you should they never find your luggage, but they have a maximum amount. Travel insurance can be used to cover any overages. In this case it may be a good time to say take a picture of the contents in your luggage just in case you have you have some expensive items.  

Keep in mind every travel insurance product is different. You should thoroughly read each policy to make sure it covers what you're looking for it to cover. Policies have time restrictions on when you should purchase insurance to cover different components like pre-existing medical conditions, be sure to ask what those rules are.  Looking to cover a particular reason call the insurance company and ask so you can get a general idea.

Happy travels and stay safe!