Beach Bum News
Beach Bum News

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Nowhere On Earth Like Simply Beautiful Saint Lucia

January 30th, 2012 | By sarah | Posted in All Inclusive Resorts, Honeymoons, Preferred Partners, Resorts, St. Lucia | 1 Comment

By: Beach Bum Kristin

I have a confession. I do not care to watch reality TV. GASP! I know, right? Reactions that I regularly get from friends are, “What is wrong with you?” “That is un-American.” “You are not normal.” That was UNTIL….The Bachelor. At first I started watching because the advertisements sucked me in. It seemed like every time I turned around there was yet another commercial featuring Jake without his shirt on. Oh my! The part that I loved the most though was the scenery. I was always intrigued to see where they would end up next. I was so excited when I found out they were going to be hanging out in St. Lucia, my favorite place on earth!

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The Beach Bums have been sending happy fellow Beach Bums to St. Lucia for over 10 years. And we have personally visited every corner of the island more than 40 times.

Whether you are planning your honeymoon, destination wedding, anniversary trip, or simply are just looking for somewhere to get away from it all, St. Lucia has something for everyone.  St. Lucia is known as the Hawaii of the Caribbean.  It features all of the same lush, tropical vegetation only with half the flight time, and you can enjoy the convenience of a luxury all inclusive resort too (not available in Hawaii). They even have their very own drive through volcano!  Sulphur Springs is the only known drive through volcano and is the eighth wonder of the world!

St. Lucia is one of the Windward Islands, located in the middle of the Eastern Caribbean chain. The island is 27 miles by 14 miles. Martinique is North of the island and St. Vincent is Southwest.  The capital city, Castries, is located on St. Lucia’s northwest coast. There are two airports in St. Lucia. Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) is on the Southern end of the island and serves as the main airport where large planes come in and out. George F. L. Charles Airport (SLU, formerly Vigie Airport) is the smaller airport on the Northwest side of the island. Only smaller prop planes and helicopters can fly in and out of this airport. A helicopter ride from UVF up to SLU is one of the best ways to see the island’s majestic Pitons, rainforests, volcano & banana plantations upon arrival!

Since February 22, 1979, St. Lucia has been an independent state within the British Commonwealth. Its terrain is a combination of high mountains, forests, low-lying lands and beaches. Mountain ranges run the length of the island and forests dominate the mountains, while jasmine, scarlet chenille and wild orchids provide splashes of color to the lush green slopes. The average annual temperature range is 75°-85°F.

Due to the fertile, volcanic soil, there is an abundance of fresh tropical produce on the island. St. Lucia is one of the leading banana exporters in the Caribbean. The food is one of the specialties of the island. Every time I visit I cannot get enough of their rich tropical fruits! I stock up on pineapple the entire time I’m visiting. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it! Every Friday night they have a fish fry in the fishing village Anse La Ray, that adds to the list of reasons why St. Lucia is so unique. There are three Sandals Resorts in St. Lucia that also have really awesome street parties once a week you won’t want to miss! Live entertainment mixed with authentic street food is the perfect combination for a fabulous evening! Make sure you check out other typical St. Lucian dishes while you are visiting: chicken backs, pork hocks, pig tails, tuna, mahi mahi, snapper, conch, plantains, green figs, and salt fish…Yummo!

If you have ever traveled to any other Caribbean island then you know that the people you come into contact with are much different than what you might encounter anywhere else.  I absolutely love the “no worries” attitude!  The St. Lucians are some of the most welcoming, warmest, and friendliest people I’ve ever met. They also know how to dance! Beware, though, they may try to pull you up on stage if you are staying at a resort where they offer entertainment. Keep in mind that they are on “island time.” So, shows may start later than stated on the show time schedule.

When traveling to St. Lucia, be sure and take the helicopter tour from the international airport (UVF) to the helipad at the regional airport (SLU). It cuts your travel time in half and this will be your first full view of the Pitons! Then once you land and get settled in, make sure you check the twin mountains out up close and personal. A visit to the Piton’s is on top of the list of “Top Five Things You Should Do in Your Lifetime.”  The view alone is classic, but actually being able to climb nearly 3,000 feet above sea level is priceless!  If you are a thrill seeker, then you should also consider: off-road ATV adventures through the mountains and banana plantations; zip-lining through the rainforest; mountain biking through the Errard waterfalls; deep sea sport fishing; and scuba diving at Pigeon Island.

Are you ready to check out all the majestic locations St. Lucia has to offer? Contact your Beach Bum travel concierge and they will match you up with the best resort for your personality. A few of our favorite unique resorts include: Jade Mountain, Calabash Cove, Ladera and Ti Kaye Village. Or, if you are looking for the ultimate luxury adults only, all inclusive vacation, Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Sandals La Toc and Sandals Halcyon Beach offer a wonderful escape.  What are you waiting for?  Book your ultimate Beach Bum Vacation today and soon you’ll be hearing, “Bienvenue a Saint Luce!”  Welcome to St. Lucia!

Not All All-Inclusives Are Created Equal

January 27th, 2012 | By sarah | Posted in All Inclusive Resorts, Preferred Partners | Leave a comment

By: Beach Bum Steve

An all inclusive resort is quickly defined by Wikipedia as “a resort that includes a minimum of three meals daily, soft drinks, most alcoholic drinks, gratuities and possibly other services in the price.” For the most part, this is an accurate description but even this definition doesn’t tell you EXACTLY what to expect when booking an all-inclusive resort.  Because it can mean an endless amount of things, we believe that using a Certified Travel Concierge can only benefit you, as it is our job to provide you with all the fine print that an online experience may not give you.

Having personally traveled to hundreds of resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean, your Beach Bum can tell you about their firsthand experiences, show you photos of resorts and explain the inclusions side by side. We want you to pause and ask yourself before hitting that “purchase” button online:  “Are you really getting what you expect at that “all inclusive” resort?  How do you know?  Who can you ask?” Ask us! We promise to help and we’ll hit the purchase button for you on the RIGHT Beach Bum Vacation!

Beach Bums Melissa, Hayley and Lisa experiencing a resort firsthand

We want you to envision the big travel day of your much-needed vacation. You got up when it was still dark outside, arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, managed to make it through security without losing anything, and endured a long flight. You finally land in your Caribbean destination, cruising through Customs and Immigration, and here’s where you find out that the “too good to be true deal” was in fact truly too good to be true.  Bummer!

Not only does your package not include transportation to and from the resort (how do you get a taxi in a foreign land?), but upon arrival at the resort you find out that if you want to eat at a nice restaurant, you can’t due to their very strict reservation policy. You will be eating at the buffet for your very first meal of the trip. Once you get up to your room, which was supposed to come with a king size bed with nice bedding, you find a stained polyester comforter and scratchy sheets adorning two twins pushed together made to LOOK like a king. What is going on? You want to complain but to who?  And what would they do?  The money is gone, the resort doesn’t care or they wouldn’t have done this to you in the first place!

budget resort room

 

Daily, the Beach Bums listen and learn from these sad stories that our clients have experienced somewhere else. We hate that our clients ever had to experience something like this and we strive to ensure it doesn’t happen to you. We work with preferred resorts that we know and trust; where we spend our own vacation time, and we work through issues if they arise with the staff we have established relationships with over the years. Nothing too good to be true here, in fact it’s tried, tested and true! 

We’ve heard all about the bad experiences. Many resorts don’t offer a relaxed check-in experience, and then expect you to find your way to your room while towing your own luggage. Talk about setting a bad tone for your entire vacation. Some all inclusive resorts have limitations on when you can eat your included meals, sometimes only between the confines of 6am- 11pm. What do you do if you have a late night craving? I guess that must wait until morning. Often times, budget resorts offer buffet restaurants with little variety which creates an especially boring food experience. Many times, reservation-required dining also means there is a limit on the amount of times you can actually eat there, depending on how many nights you stay. And, we’re pretty sure the online booking engine isn’t going to explain that to you before you book. Room service is limited, an extra cost or even non-existent at some resorts. Premium liquors do not exist or if they do – they are an additional charge.  Who wants well vodka in their straight up martini?  We surely do not. The list definitely could go on but we’ll stop there.

Unfortunately, many resorts are all about quantity over quality. They prefer to pack in the customers and charge less rather than charge a little more and provide quality service, amenities and staff. Many clients come to us and say they “don’t care” where they sleep as long as there is a beach, but the truth is that you have to spend a lot of time in that room sleeping, showering, spending romantic time and getting ready for dinner. Let’s get real here, readers! People spend MORE time in their room than they do ANYWHERE else on vacation; it is the go-to place between all the other vacation experiences. The room is important and many resorts do not put a lot of effort into accommodations, leaving out amenities like refrigerators, comfortable bedding, extra pillows, aromatherapy, conditioner for your hair, lotion, a safe for valuables, or walking space between beds. Let’s be honest, the room MATTERS and if the resort believes you don’t care about the room, they will definitely not make an effort to make it more comfortable for you.

luxury resort room

Some people say they don’t care as long as there is a swim up bar, but what one must keep in mind is that if the drinks are watered-down or do not taste good, and if the pool is small and crowded, this experience will not be what you pictured.

We also hear that people don’t care about food because they aren’t big eaters, but you still need three meals a day.  If those meals are cold, unseasoned, inedible, or allergy-requirements cannot be accommodated, you may very well have a miserable vacation. If all those things REALLY didn’t matter then there would never be a negative Trip Advisor review or a complaint, because every resort out there can offer an uncomfortable bed, a sliver of sand to lay on, a watered down drink to sip and a cold buffet meal much easier than putting some effort into the quality of those items. Most resorts do mediocre very well, but when you go on a Beach Bum Vacation, we want to ensure that mediocre is not on the itinerary and we can assist in ensuring that quality comes into play on every vacation if you avoid the resorts that don’t offer it.

Beach Bums touring the kitchen at Palace Resorts

Your Beach Bum travel concierge offers the ultimate “all inclusive” vacation experience whether you are planning a destination wedding, honeymoon or family vacation. We are passionate about what we do, how we do it, and follow a process to guide you in the right direction when choosing a destination and resort. We pride ourselves as being fully inclusive and available from beginning to end and when we choose properties to recommend to you, our valued client, we don’t want there to be ANY surprises upon arrival.  Traveling isn’t perfect and it’s sometimes a challenge but when it comes to the INCLUSIONS that a resort offers, we strive to know what each resort offers our client and ensure that you have all the knowledge available to make the perfect vacation decision for you.

The Beach Bums have had their own experiences (good and bad) and based on consistency in the areas that we deem important for our clients precious vacation, we have found partners in the industry that have raised the bar on the all-inclusive experience, exceed expectations, and continually provide our clients with unforgettable happy Beach Bum Vacation experiences!

Ask yourself one question:

Do you want a mediocre all inclusive vacation or do you want a Beach Bum All Inclusive Vacation?

Wordless Wednesday

January 25th, 2012 | By sarah | Posted in Bahamas, Beach Bum Vacation | 2 Comments

Value For Your Money

By: Beach Bum Hayley

Value (val yoo); the worth, importance, or usefulness of something to somebody.

How valuable is your time away? You work so hard, often receiving as few as 7 to 10 vacation days all year! Using your vacation time wisely is hardly an understatement! You look forward to, expect, hope for, and deserve maximum satisfaction during your precious time off.

A Real Beach Bum photo at Le Taha'a in Tahitian Islands

Beach Bum Vacation receives many trip requests that ask for a vacation or honeymoon… that is “as inexpensive as possible” or “somewhere warm, as long as it’s cheap.” Hey, we get what you’re trying to say but what you need to be seeking and asking for is “the best value for my money.”

Cheap (cheep); of little account; of small value; shoddy. Who wants to spend $100 for that, let alone $2,000 or more?! Cheap trips typically result in the traveler wishing they never went away at all due to poor food quality, lack of service, unclean environment, rundown accommodations,  overall disappointing, unsatisfactory experience. What a waste of valuable time and money!

As a Beach Bum Travel Concierge it’s our duty to ensure you understand the difference between a seemingly attractive, inexpensive package and a terrific value for money. Let’s face it, there are so many options out there these days. The internet is so overwhelming and can make your travel planning an extremely daunting task. How can you possibly know what’s what when they all appear so enticing, inviting and attractive?

Beach Bums in Action

Top Five: BEST Value For Money Tips!

Tip #1: Seek the guidance of a Beach Bum Vacation Travel Concierge! Our knowledge and expert advice is at absolutely NO cost to you!

We’re friendly and fun, we enjoy what we do, we definitely know what we’re talking about, and we love being a part of planning the perfect travel experience for you and your travel companion(s) so you will enjoy sharing the Beach Bum travel experience with your friends and family!

Tip #2: Look for resorts that are consistently reviewed at least 4 (out of 5) star by past guests. We will share past guest reviews and feedback with you as well as provide you with our personal tried and true experiences.

Tip #3: Look for resorts that include added values such as golf green fees, room service, water sports, tours, excursions, spa credits, complimentary room upgrades, candlelight dinner on the beach, catamaran cruises etc. These items truly add to your vacation/travel experience. When not included these features can amount to BIG $ so to have them included is a tremendous value for your money!

Beach Bums on a Sunset Catamaran Cruise

Tip #4: Look for packages vs. trying to piece your trip together. You’ll get more for your money and it’ll be more convenient. You’ll also have the option to make payments instead of paying in full at time of reserving.

Tip #5: Go All Inclusive! You will inevitably save exponentially. There are so many necessary elements of a vacation that you may not be considering when reserving your room and airline tickets (i.e. alcoholic & non alcoholic beverages, bottled water, gratuities, airport transportation, water sports, entertainment, activities, tours, excursions, food, snacks, room service, mini bar purchases…) All of these items add up more than you would imagine. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll save money by traveling non-inclusive because you “don’t drink alcohol” or are “not a big eater.” $5-$10 for a bottle of water is par for the course ladies and gentleman. Stress-free planning is knowing how much your vacation is costing upfront, without any hidden surprises. Not having to bring your purse or wallet to the swim up pool bar or constantly sign off on a credit card “tab” whilst on your honeymoon is a priceless experience.

Beach Bums Ziplining

All Inclusive is truly the best value for your money when considering where you want to spend your vacation, honeymoon, family reunion, destination wedding OR corporate group incentive trip. All Inclusive is often misinterpreted or unappreciated; negative stigma from the days of old portrait ideas that you’ll only receive domestic, watered-down drinks, reheated leftovers at the daily buffet… Sure these places (who will remain nameless) still exist! We will tell you if you’ve got one of these culprits in your realm of consideration; trust your Beach Bum, they won’t steer you wrong! Over the years the All Inclusive package has been perfected by select brands that combine luxury, top notch accommodations, excellence in service, & gourmet a la carte fine dining. These are the best in their class offering YOU the VERY BEST in quality, value for money and overall experience! These outstanding brands include; El Dorado Resorts, Azul Resorts, Sandals Resorts, Beaches Resorts, Couples Resorts, Royal Resorts, Gran Caribe Resorts, & Palace Resorts.

We very much look forward to helping match you with the very best valued Beach Bum Vacation for YOUR money!

With Truth, Honesty & Sincerity,

Beach Bum Hayley & Co.

Giving Back: Responsible Travel and Voluntourism in the Caribbean and Mexico

January 20th, 2012 | By sarah | Posted in Beach Bum Cares | 1 Comment

By: Beach Bum Lisa, President of Beach Bum CARES

Do you find yourself interested in visiting exotic locations and giving back to the local community?  Are you interested in helping build a school, deliver school supplies or deliver computers to schools who are in need? It took a few movie stars to make it popular, but people are ready to start traveling responsibly and give back to the local communities where they vacation. “Voluntourism” and responsible travel are not just mere ideas, but are calls to action! I love that these calls to action are “in” now partly because of movie stars (thank you Angelina Jolie and countless others) but also because we are waking up to realize that the world is ours!  Not just our neighborhood, not just our state, but the world! With technology at our fingertips, these once “remote” issues and third world countries are not so far away anymore. We realize that what affects them affects us. I predict that the 21st century will see a huge increase in voluntourism – people taking a stand and making the choice to travel responsibly and give back.

Babonneau Secondary School Donation Visit - St. Lucia, August 2011

Beach Bum Vacation has actually been participating in voluntourism and giving back to the Caribbean and Mexico for several years now.  In 2009, a few of the Beach Bums decided to create a nonprofit agency, Beach Bum CARES.  In the middle of 2010 we received our 501c3 status from the government and by the end of 2011 – we have donated close to $20,000 worth of supplies to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America!! It has been an amazing journey!! From computers to sporting equipment, crayons, textbooks, curriculum material, printers, to groceries, to concrete & wood to help build a school – together with many Beach Bum Vacation clients we have made a positive impact on the areas we vacation to and this is only the beginning of long term partnerships!

School Donation Visit to Roker's Point Primary School in Great Exuma

Beach Bum CARES’ mission is to provide Children and their families Aid, Relief, and Educational Supplies. We will change the world one person at a time by targeting areas with a lower socio-economic status in the Caribbean and Mexico, determining specific needs of the children and their families, and delivering these goods resulting in measurable improvement in graduation rates and the percentage of students pursuing employment and/or higher education, thereby improving the overall economy of the community.

Beach Bum Carey at Casa Hogar - Donation Visit to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Everyone involved in Beach Bum CARES is a volunteer.  No paid positions, no motivation other than just doing the right thing. Is it working? Just ask our partner school in Jamaica… “We don’t have words to tell you how much we appreciate all you folks are doing for us. You are like the fairy godmother in the fairy tales we used to read as children. Certainly, you are God-sent.” I cried when I read this one line in an email we received recently from the Faith Academy.

Beach Bum CARES trip to Jamaica in December 2011 to help build Faith Academy

So how can you get involved?

  1. You can donate money – yes, we’ll come right out and say it – We want your money!! More importantly we want the educational supplies we can purchase with that money!! That’s what we give. You can donate funds at www.beachbumcares.org or www.crowdrise.com/BeachBumCARES.
  2. You can donate supplies – we are always looking for new and gently used educational supplies (teachers, students, and administration), sporting equipment, tools, and technology pieces such as laptops, mice, cameras, etc.  We’ll find a great home for it. What is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
  3. You can deliver the supplies yourself –  just get in touch with us about two months before your next vacation to the Caribbean or Mexico and we will arrange for you to visit one of our partner school or orphanages. We take care of the organization and transfers, all you do is donate the supplies and your time.
  4. Let us know when you’re ready for physical labor! We are going to start taking trips to continue to build a school in Jamaica. Let us know if you’re interested, and we can let keep you in the loop about our next trip.

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated their time, money, and energy already! We couldn’t do it without you! We are all family. We all live in the same home. To get a little Bob Marley on you, “One Love, One Heart, Let’s Get Together and Feel All Right!” Only together can we succeed.  Let’s do it!! Let’s take this responsibility!

To find current information, find us at www.facebook.com/beachbumcares and www.beachbumcares.org

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