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Looking to book your all-inclusive beach destination wedding in the Bahamas, Carribean or Mexico? Look no further for a Travel Agency Dallas. We handle river cruises, honeymoons, Disney vacations and so much more! As a Sandals and Beaches Resorts Preferred agency, we love the Caribbean. Premier Craft specializes in sheet metal forming, fabrication and design work. They are skilled in waterjet, cnc cutting, plasma, sheet metal, metal fabrication, architectural copper, decorative copper, custom fabrication, metal fabrication, gutter, heads, downspout, metal forming, roofing metal, shear, break metal, brake metal.
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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Grand Velas Riviera Maya - Stay Here. You will thank me.

I spent the day doing a site inspection at this resort I had never sold before and never been to - Grand Velas. I'm very sorry about both of those things. I should have been recommending it all this time and I will now make it a point to stay here as soon as I can!

From the moment you pull in from the main road just north of Playa del Carmen you will be impressed. It is lined with perfectly manicured gardens and foliage. It felt a little like Alice in Wonderland.

There are 3 sections to this property, Zen, Ambassador and Grand Class. The first 2 are family friendly while Grand Class is reserved for adults only

This section sits in the mangroves and is very calming. They feature rooms on the ground floor overlooking a koi pond with a small plunge pool. This section has the new sports bar called KOI. It opened in April 2014. Think upscale with a huge TV. They stay open until 3am and they are not within ear shot of the rooms so is perfect for late nights.

To travel between the sections they have 1st class vans that travel back and forth. They seemed to arrive every couple minutes. Normally a resort does a golf cart type system but this was air conditioned and when it started raining we didn't get wet!
They do not allow walking from Zen to Ambassador due to safety with the vans running back and forth and there's only 1 stretch of road. If you are a jogger they have an employee follow you on an ATV with water and cold towels - at no extra cost. Sounds like being part of the Presidential family!

This is the family friendly section with an ocean view.
This section features many restaurants as well as a piano bar and karaoke bar for nighttime entertainment.
For an additional $150 per night, Grand Velas will guarantee adjoining rooms for your family. One room being a King and the other with 2 Queens. A maximum of 4 people (or 4 plus infant) per room with 3 of them being adults.
Traveling with an infant? Grand Velas takes it to the next level and does not only provide cribs in the room but also baby food, strollers, high chairs, bottles, teething rings all at no additional cost.

This is the adults only section that runs along the ocean. They are the most luxurious accommodations with the large patios and some with plunge pools. There are 90 suites that are 1300+ square feet.

All the rooms come with luxury amenities including L'occitane bath products and interior Jacuzzi tubs. The bed linens are all top notch. Picky about thread count? Don't worry. You will love their beds.
They stock your in room bar with soda, juice, wine and chocolate milk for the kids. They also have a wide variety of snacks they replenish daily for you.
I loved the little details like a thatch beach bag to use during your stay and mosquito spray. This is something you don't find everywhere else.
Grand Class at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

I could make an entire blog post about the food at Grand Velas. It's just wow. I am somewhat of a Foodie. I'm not sitting at home eating Duck Confeit but I like good food.
This is a restaurant where everything is fresh. Even at the buffet, they make everything fresh for that meal. You are not going to find last nights pork chops turned into a casserole for breakfast like at many of the all inclusive properties. At the buffet restaurant they also have the option of ordering off a menu so you never have to eat off a buffet if that is not your thing.
To me here's a reason to stay here: Grand Velas is the only all inclusive in the world to have a AAA 5 Diamond restaurant. This should say something about the level of food this property has. It is a Spanish with Mexican flair. You don't receive a menu. The waiter comes out and tells you about your 8 course experience. This is not for everyone but it is something everyone should try and why not? You're on vacation.
Reservations are required and I can do them for you in advance so it isn't something you have to worry about on vacation.

The Spa is huge and impressive. It was awarded Best Spa in the World in 2010 by Virtuoso. They have a wide variety of services and even have the fish feet service. I stuck my hand in the water with the fish and they came right over to me. I don't think I would enjoy this but some people might want to try it. They package it with a chair massage.
The spa also features a bridal suite which comes at no additional cost to the bride. She just pays for the cost of the services she choses.

I could go on and on about this property. They had a very fun teen club with XBOX Kinect and several game nooks. The kids camp was smaller but seemed to have some fun things.
The grounds were immaculate and the staff was friendly and helpful. The waiters are spot on and are there offering coffee after your meal and bringing chips and salsas to the table.

Please go here. You will thank me! Call me at 405-418-4180 or contact me via my website at

Hard Rock Riviera Maya - the Good and the Bad!

I am actually typing this blog post sitting in my room at Hard Rock Riviera Maya. It's raining today so my blog might turn slightly jaded.

The resort has 2 sides. Hacienda is the family friendly side and Heaven which is adults only. You can walk from one lobby to the other using the pathways along the rooms or down by the beach. The only difference to know when you go from one building to the next is the color of the building changes. They also put up a sign that says "hey you are rocking too close to the adults side" to playfully remind kids and visa versa.

The Bad
-The food here is very middle of the line for the price you are paying to stay here. They seem to put their money in the entertainment and activities instead of in the quality of the food. It's not horrible but not one of the better food ones in the area from my experience. At breakfast and lunch you only have the option of buffet which is disappointing. I wish they had 1 or 2 options during the day ala carte. They do have cooking stations at the buffet restaurants and I did have really good fresh corn tortillas made into street tacos but I would say that was the only buffet meal I enjoyed. If I was here for 7 nights I would be getting irritated. The restaurants at night are hit and miss like most all inclusives. If they could just master steak (even at Golden Corral level) I would be happier.
-Everything is severely overpriced. When you stay at this resort you get a resort credit. They allow you to use your resort credit for gift shop items, spa, golf, tours and that sort of thing. The prices are jacked up. You still have "free" money (that you pay 20% tax on) but it's not as good of a deal (it never is though, right?) as it makes it seem. The spa prices are more inflated than other equal level properties so when you run out of resort credit the prices are a bit out there.

The Good
-The staff here is top notch. They seem to be hustling for your drinks or food and all very personable and friendly.
-There are tons of activities. There's an obstacle course and a rock climbing wall on land. They hand out snorkel equipment and kayaks for the water. There's good music by the pool.
-There's actual nightlife! Most all inclusives shut down at 9:30pm or so or they have a lame fire dancer while everyone sits around and forces themselves to watch or go to bed. Hard Rock has a full blown high end night club that opens every night at 11pm. It's huge and one section has a pool in the middle. It's very Vegas.
-The beach. I think I could put this on Good and Bad but I am choosing Good. There is a huge rock wall that blocks off the waves from coming in. It has created a calm peaceful and really pretty (in my opinion) beach. There are fish and I floated the day away on my little raft. This beach is not idea for someone who likes to play in the waves or is a beach runner (I am neither) so I thought their beach was great.
Fish swimming in the clear water at Hard Rock Riviera Maya

Adults only swim up pool bar at Hard Rockbet Riviera Maya Heaven
It is a nice resort. It's clean and fun but it's just for the right group. Give me a call and I would love to talk to you about the Hard Rock All Inclusive Resorts. I have now been to all of them.
405-418-4180 or check out my website

-Weddings here are gorgeous! They have palapas over looking the water and also a Catholic chapel. It is perfect for any size group. They have Collin Cowie designed wedding collections or you can choose custom. I was very impressed with the wedding locations. This is an ideal Destination Wedding location for large groups. There is something for everyone and your guests won't be bored in the evenings. Your childless friends and couples can stay on the adults side and the ones with kids on the Hacienda family side. Perfect!

Wedding palapa at Hard Rock Riviera Maya


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hard Rock Vallarta

I just returned from a 3 night trip to Hard Rock Vallarta with my high school friend, Jenelle.
Here is my full review of the resort experience -

Check in process is easy. Our room wasn't quite ready yet so they took all our info and then we went and had lunch and came back. Buffet is typical above average all inclusive buffet with a wide range. They had cooking stations where they were grilling fajitas or fresh fish or steak and then of course a little bit of everything else.
Once to our room, we has an ocean view room. It was a great view of the pool and the ocean. No complaints from me. This is called "Gold" by the hard rock standard. They don't have full balconies. You have to be concierge (diamond) to have a full balcony but no big deal to me.

The rooms all have huge 2 person Jacuzzi tubs. This hotel use to be Vallarta Palace and this is standard with the Palace Resorts. I don't think Hard Rock would have had these if they built the hotel from the ground up because it's kind of weird when it's not a super couple-y type hotel. Oh well!
Rooms are standard hotel room size. Bathrooms are kind of small. There is a nice full length mirror in the closet and light. The rooms have a mini fridge stocked with cokes, beer and juice. There is also a liquor dispenser (does anyone actually use these?) if you just didn't get enough booze throughout the day. ha!

The hotel is easy to navigate. Some restaurants down by the ocean and some more off the lobby. We ate at the Japanese restaurant and the Brazilian. I thought the Brazilian could use some work. They had a small buffet set up with salads and sides. The mashed potatoes tasted instant which makes me crazy. They had the big skewers of meat that came around. It was ok. It wasn't Texas de Brazil by any means.  Japanese was good. A wide selection. I had grilled curry mahi mahi which was excellent. The restaurant doesn't have the hibachi grills which everyone seems to have these days so that was a little disappointing. All the restaurants had excellence service.

The pool area at the hotel is great. A good size swim up bar and some activities going on. They had some silly games as well as water aerobics. There are a few slides for kids (one more just for toddlers) and the kids (as well as me) had a fun time with that. There were waterfalls and rocks and it was a pretty pool area. Great service by the pool. They had a wood fired pizza that was open 11am - 6pm with plenty of topping options (but go get ranch at the buffet if you need it!) and there was a snack bar with guac and pico and all the other junk food things you can think of that you need to be eating in your swimsuit.

At night they had different things going on. Each night was different whether they had a live band or karaoke. They had a DJ most nights in the sports bar. The resort was not full by any means so some of these things were a tad on the boring side but would have been more fun if they hotel had more guests.

The resort has a nice salon with spa treatment rooms. I opted out of doing a spa treatment here. I prefer to do them when I can do the whole spa experience. I want to be waited on with cucumber water and sit in the sauna and steam room before while listening soothing music and smelling aromatherapy type stuff. They don't have that. They have a sauna and a steam room at the gym so you can use it everyday if you want so if you like to work out on vacation and use the sauna, you are in luck! Me, not so much.
But (and this is a huge but) if you stay here and have to pay (mine always seems to be free) they give you a resort credit you can use at the spa. If I had a free massage with my room I would still be all over that. I just don't want to pay fancy resort prices for a massage if I don't get the whole spa experience if that makes sense.

The resort is located in Nuevo Vallarta or Vallarta Nayarit. People call it both. It's located right next door to Paradise Village which is the marina where tours leave out of with Vallarta Adventures (my favorite tour company!) so it's a good location if you want to be up there (about 20 minutes from downtown). It's across the street from a pharmacy and a casino. I didn't visit the casino but I know some of the wedding groups at the hotel were doing that. It's literally across the street but it looked small. It was in a strip mall.

So basically it's a nice resort. It's perfect for weddings because it's not too romantic but not too much of a party. It has something for everyone. Good service, pretty good food and pretty beach!

Call me if you want to go! I would love to send you! 405-418-4180

Monday, February 3, 2014

Love Disney Cruises even with a toddler!

Right before Christmas my little family decided to take a Disney Cruise. Most people probably said behind our back "Her son is only 1, he won't remember it." or "Her son is not old enough to even participate in the activities". Well, both of these things are CORRECT but WE LOVED IT.
And here's why.......
I have been on many cruises. This was actually Jack's second cruise at the ripe old age of 16 months. We sailed on Carnival when he was 8 months. Carnival does do a good job. I have no problems with Carnival but Disney just does it better, as we all would expect right?
From the moment we arrive there are people there to help. Me, the travel agent didn't have my bags tagged or even my paperwork with me (this is par for the course) and did that matter? Nope! They found us on their list and tagged our bags for us. There were 2 check in lines. One line for regular joes and one for Disney Club members. The lady says "just go to the shorter one since you have him". Sweet.
Disney Cruise ship

Disney Cruise cabin. You can't sit on the couch with a pack n play in the room!
Pluto got down on the floor with the kids.

They had a Pack N Play in our cabin. It did make it tight. I don't think 2 infants/toddlers requiring Pack N Plays would be able to do a standard size cabin. The cabin steward knew our names and esp Jack's name. Little things like "Hi Jack!" when we came out of our cabin each day made us feel special (that sounded a lot sappier than I am normally). Another great thing is the cabins have 2 bathrooms. One is a toilet and sink and the other is a mini bathtub and sink. Normally cruise ships have 1 tiny bathroom that I joke you can sit on the toilet and wash your hands in the sink while leaning over to wash your hair in the shower. This made it possible to give Jack a bath instead of trying to hold him in the shower like on Carnival. Awesome!
Another cool thing they do is wave phones. There are 2 in your cabin. If you drop your kids off at camp they will text you with anything. Like "They want to be picked up" or "can they eat lunch early?" or whatever. You can bring it with you and call your room from wherever. It's pretty sweet. All cruises should have this.
Great waitstaff on the ship!
For dinner each night Disney has you move from dining room to dining room. Each one has a different theme so you get to experience them all. The cool part (and this is different from every other cruise line) is your waitstaff comes with you. We got to know our waitstaff, where they were from, one had a 5 year old daughter at home in the Philippines and they got to know us. They would have stuff out for Jack. His high chair all ready with crayons and bring him chocolate milk which was a big treat for him. Some people say they don't want an assigned dining time and I understand it but the experience and memories of making friends with the waitstaff totally outweighed any of that for me. We did go to Palo (the adults only fine dining which was soooo good. Imported balsamic from Italy and oh I could go on and on) one night and the next night they were like "We missed you!" and I felt bad. I wish we could go back and have the same staff!
They had Mickey ice cream bars for dessert for kids.
Disney had a show each night in the main theatre. They did a whole production of Toy Story which was really well done. I was a tad on the bored side and I heard other people say the same thing. Not Disney's fault but maybe Toy Story just wasn't suppose to be on the stage? They also had a magician which was great, very entertaining. They had a show at the end of the week called "Disney Magic" and it had little scenes from tons of different Disney movies. Cinderella, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin.....the list goes on and on. It was great. Jack loved it. They even made it snow.

One night and they do this on every cruise, was pirate night. Everyone dresses up. Adults, kids, the characters - everyone. Well except for us because I am horrible at my own vacations and did not read up on it before I left. People were having so much fun with it. At the end of the night they had a big dance party on the top deck with a little show and Mickey rides a zipline across the top of the ship and then fireworks went off. Pretty impressive. It wasn't until 10pm so Jack was falling asleep.

They had different fun stuff throughout the week at night. One night I made Jack stay up for the Donald Duck Salsa Dance Party. He wore a sombrero and danced with all the kids in one of the smaller theatre. Adorable. Jack was dancing and was so tired he was falling over so we didn't stay long.

Selfie with Mickey. Everyone has one, right?

There were adult comedy nights so always something to do. I didn't attend one due to lack of babysitter but I'm going to guess they were awesome. They had the comedian do family friendly during the day and I can only imagine.

One of my favorite parts was stopping at Castaway Cay. This is Disney's private island. They pull right up. Everything is right there. They even have a kid camp on the island for kids starting at age 3.
They served BBQ and burgers and had ice cream and fruit stands. Everything included. The beach was beautiful. They had specific places to snorkel and renting the equipment was $15 if you did it in advance or $25 day of. This was for all day. There were little shops with beach toys and t-shirts. If you do a Disney Cruise, make sure this port is on the list!
Castaway Cay had calm water which was perfect for kids!

Castaway Cay character photos

My husband said his favorite part (which I hope is partly a joke) is they didn't have someone in the dining room rationing out the bacon like on Carnival. They let you serve it up yourself and have as much as you want.

Here are my tips -
1. Bring pirate stuff for the family
2. There's not a casino so no worries about having a huge onboard account!
3. If you want to decorate your cabin door, bring magnetic stuff. People did this and it was way cute.
4. Any kids in diapers can only play on the splash pad - no baby pool
5. Bring an umbrella stroller to go around the ship in if you have a little, they don't provide these.
6. There are washing machines and dryers onboard if you need to wash clothes. Bring your own soap if you like the hypoallergenic kind like I do.
7. No babysitting in the cabins, you take them to the nursery which was a disaster cry fest for mine so maybe bring a babysitter :) It's now about $9/hr.
8. If you want a cabana at Castaway Cay - reserve as early as possible. They were full so we didn't get to have one. (about $500 for the day I think)
9. Wait until the end of the week to do pictures with the characters. The line was next to nothing by then.
10. Soda is included in the dining room and at the buffet but not if you order at a bar or at the theatre.
11. Eat as much bacon as you can!

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