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Get Peace of Mind With an European Guided Tour

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Traveling to European cities is a check off of the “bucket list” for many people.   This is the type of vacation that you want to make the most of your time since it’s not likely you will be traveling back to this location often.  For this reason, it’s valuable to book a guided tour.  The guided tour provides you with structure to make sure you visit all the great sites and experience the culture that makes the city famous.  It also gives you the time for you to explore the city yourself.

Here are the main reasons why you should book a guided tour:

  • The guided tour handles all the logistics so you can have peace of mind
  • VIP Access to the top attractions- This saves you 2+ hour waits in line
  • Personal Tour Directors – Your local guide, concierge and translator all in one
  • Transportation included-  No need to ask locals which subway to take or speak to a cab driver who doesn’t speak your language
  • Top rated hotels that are centrally located to all the major attractions
  • Special exclusive culture experiences such as dinner with an Italian family
  • Some meals are included
  • The prefect combination of free time and planed activities

Bottom line, if you want peace of mind and the best value, I strongly suggest booking a guided tour.   We have great partnerships with various tour operators that make your vacation wonderful.

Which Hawaiian Island is Best For You?

Hawaii is a beautiful island island.  The question I get the most is “which of the various islands should I visit?” .  The answer all depends on why you are visiting Hawaii.   Hawaii has adventure, romance, culture, nightlife, shopping and more.  They also have valuable flights where you can do some island hoping.   If you want to see the most islands, you can take a cruise and you don’t have to worry your food, beverages and accommodations because they are included  in the cruise.   Here is a brief description of  some of the popular Hawaiian Island cities so you can make a choice for your next vacation:

Hawaii – Maui, Hawaii

Relax on Maui’s beautiful and secluded sandy beaches or wake up early to watch the sun come up at Haleakala, the sleeping volcano, rising more than 10,000 feet above the sparkling waters of the Pacific. Shop and dine in charming Lahaina, wind through a tropical paradise along the road to Hana, or visit the IMAX theater for an exciting journey through Hawaii’s history.

Maui also offers the lush, green Iao Valley State Park, some of the state’s finest golf courses, and gorgeous white- sand beaches and recreational pursuits ranging from horseback riding to sailing.

Hawaii – Oahu, Hawaii

For many travelers, their introduction to Hawaii and the start of a great vacation begins on Oahu. You’ll probably spend most of your time along Waikiki Beach, but beyond the beach you’ll discover much more to do-deep-sea fishing for mahi or marlin; hunting for souvenirs in open-air markets and high-rise shopping centers; and dining at a wide variety of excellent restaurants. Be sure to experience a traditional luau with Polynesian dance performances and dinner buffet, or take a sail while enjoying dinner off the shore of Waikiki. Visit the inspirational and emotional Arizona Memorial. Snorkel in Hanauma Bay. Take a lazy stroll in one of the tropical parks or hike the crater’s interior at Diamond Head State Monument. Or, do as many others do, and make Oahu the first stop on your Hawaiian vacation before heading off to Kauai, Lanai, Maui, or Hawaii’s Big Island.

Hawaii – Lanai, Hawaii

On Lanai, there’s everything from petroglyphs, rock formations, and 4-wheel drive trails to outstanding beaches, watersports, golf and much more. The Luahiwa Petroglyphs are one of the most exciting and interesting collections of such ancient writings in all of Hawaii. Hulopoe Beach Park is a marine sanctuary rich in sealife and the ultimate place for swimming, snorkeling, and tanning.

Hawaii – Big Island/Hilo, Hawaii

Twice the size of all other Hawaiian islands combined, the Big Island of Hawaii features striking black- and green-sand beaches, orchid farms, two active volcanoes, and a snow- covered mountain during the winter. Visit Volcanoes National Park and see preserved footprints in an ancient lava flow, and, if you’re interested and lucky enough to be there when one is happening, view an active lava flow from close up. For tamer sightseeing, visit Hulihee Palace, King Kalakaua’s summer palace, built in 1838, used by Hawaiian royalty until 1916, and now a museum. Or sample Kona coffee where it is grown and milled, and macadamia nuts where they are cracked and canned.

Hawaii – Kauai, Hawaii

Secluded beaches, fragrant flowers, cascading waterfalls, and an unhurried pace make the Garden Island of Kauai a tropical paradise. Numerous geological surprises await you including Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and Mt. Waialeale, located within a tropical rain forest. There’s also the rugged Na Pali Coast, which can only be viewed by helicopter or boat. Elsewhere on Kauai you’ll find familiar views – Lumahai Beach, where parts of South Pacific were filmed, the mystical Hanalei Bay, breathtaking Bali Hai and the waterfalls used in the opening scenes of Jurassic Park.

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Hawaii is a beautiful island and I hope this helps you find out which island(s) is the best fit for you on your next vacation.

Showtime Travel

sales@showtimetravel.com

(770) 495-8855

Source: Delta Vacations, NCL

Fun Adventures in Liberia, Costa Rica

I had a great time vacationing at the Riu Palace in Costa Rica.  The new resort is a good fit for those who are 1st time all-inclusive vacationers.  My family enjoyed the spa, the pool entertainment and the personal service.   The great adventure tours outside of the resort were amazing as well.  We toured through the different small cities and countryside on ATVS.  We also took a river tour on the Tenorio River where we got a chance to see crocodiles, iguanas and the elusive white face monkey.  The Costa Rican people were nice as well and take great pride in their country.  Unlike some countries in the Caribbean, there was not a lot of soliciting of tourists.   The Costa Ricans main source of income comes from farming.  Their top crop is sugar cane followed by corn.

Overall, we enjoyed our time in Costa Rica.   If you interested in eco-tourism and adventure, this is the place for you.   Just remember to bring your bug spray!

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How To Best Use a Professional Travel Consultant

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A professional travel consultant is a valuable resource if used correctly.  If you are like most hard workers, your vacation time is limited so it’s important that you use your vacation time wisely.  Most Americans only receive two weeks’ vacation time if they are lucky.  And let’s face it; most of that allotted time is not used for your personal/family vacation.   Our motto at Showtime Travel is “You deserve a luxury vacation” because we assist many who want to maximize their vacation experience by using the services of a professional travel consultant.  Today I am going to give you 4 quick steps on how to best use a professional travel consultant.

Recognize Their Value:

Professional travel consultants are trained and certified by various travel suppliers and destinations to offer you the best service.   They also have a vast network which can include: travel consultants, clients, resort mangers, cruise directors, tour operators, business development managers and more.  When you hire a professional travel consultant you are privy to this network.  This network allows the travel consultant to better serve you and to resolve issues quickly.

I was able to get some of my guest upgrades for special occasions because of my strong network relationships.  It’s always a pleasure hearing their surprised response when they get back home.   I also was able to resolve issues quickly.  I had a client whose name was mistakenly omitted from the list for her transfer from the airport to the resort.  She didn’t have to call a call center and hope to get it resolved.  She contacted me and in a few minutes she was on the way to resort.  This type of personal service is invaluable and gives you peace of mind as you travel.

Time Commitment:

Using professional travel consultant also saves you time.  Most travel consultants have a service fee which is a mutual agreement that acknowledges the commitment, time and expertise that will be provided to customize your personal travel package.   There is a misconception that a travel consultant just gives you a quote.  A professional travel consultant will set a consultation time to discuss your travel goals and provide you with a proposal based on your request.  That research takes times and there may be a lot of “back and forth” until the right destination/resort/cruise is chosen.

Research:

To help expedite the process it’s ok to have done some of your own research.  Some of our clients have specific idea where they like to travel and others may rely on a few suggestions.  It’s fine with either case but lean on the professional travel consultant’s knowledge and expertise when it comes to making a decision.

I have clients who like to bounce ideas to me for Caribbean group getaways.  Sometimes we find out that the specific destination that they initial chose is not a fit for their group.  Although some of the informational you receive online is beneficial, it is not always correct, especially reviews.  I make sure that each client knows the pros and cons prior to making their decision.

Incentives:

Once you have made your decision on your vacation, ask your professional travel consultant if there are any incentives or promotions that you may be eligible for.   A lot of suppliers have great incentives if you get some of your friends and family to join you on your vacation.  Some of the incentives may be resort credits, discounts, complimentary dinner, room upgrades and even a free night stay.  Keep in mind not all suppliers may have an incentive during your vacation time but it never hurts to ask.

In conclusion, a professional travel consultant provides a valuable service for your limited vacation time.  Just like other service oriented professions, i.e. attorney, mechanic, hair stylist, etc., you can attempt to try to do it yourself; but why?  Don’t take a risk with your time because time is something you can never get back.

Author: Belvin Baldwin II – Showtime Travel -www.showtimetravel.com

Top Things You Should Know Before Booking An All-Inclusive Island Resort

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I have booked many people at various all-inclusive resorts.  Most of the people like to stay in Mexico or the Caribbean islands.   Prior to booking any client I want them to know every all inclusive resort is the same.  Here are the “Top things You Should Know Before Booking All Inclusive Resorts”

Not All Islands Have The All Inclusive Options.   I have had many all-inclusive resorts requests for Hawaii.  Too bad Hawaii doesn’t have the all inclusive options.  There are many islands and destinations that do not have the all-inclusive option.  The top destinations where you will find a variety of all-inclusive options are Cancun, Mexico area, Jamaica, and The Dominican Republic.  There other islands that may have all-inclusive resorts but not as many options at the aforementioned destinations.

Top Shelf Alcohol Is Not At Every All-Inclusive Resorts.   The complimentary alcohol option at all-inclusive resorts is a big plus for some people.  If you plan to take advantage of this option, you need to know what type of alcohol your resort offers.  Some all-inclusive resorts only provides local brands and have a limited option while other resorts will have the premium brands with a touch of local flavor.   The best thing is to ask your travel agent in advance so there will be no surprises.

Dinning Choices One of the top questions I hear at all inclusive resorts is “How is the food?”.   Everyone has different taste so what I think is a good steak dinner, you may think is horrible.   To counter attack the food dilemma is to have a lot of options.  If an all-inclusive resort has many dining options, it usually will have a restaurant that will satisfy your palate.  Some of the top all-inclusive options will serve a variety of cuisine such as: French, Italian, Japanese(Hibachi), American, Mexican, etc.  Also, a good all-inclusive resort will have 24 hour room service to satisfy that late night craving.

Activities  Not everyone goes on the vacation just to lay on the beach and to gain a few pounds at the buffet.  If you are an active person, find out what type of activities are offered at the all-inclusive resorts.  Most all inclusive resorts offer non motorized water sports like kayaking.  Some all-inclusive resorts include complimentary golf and scuba classes.  If you are fitness buff, make sure that your resort has a gym and find out what type a fitness classes are offered.  Some of my clients took their first Zumba class while on vacation.  If you have children, find out what type of activities are included.  Some all-inclusive resorts offer children activities from toddlers to teens. The children activities can include everything from hanging out with their favorite cartoon character to learning how to DJ like a professional.

Night Life   Night life is different for everyone so make sure you find out what is provided.  Some all-inclusive resorts will have live bands, comedy performance, Vegas style shows or local entertainment.  Some couple resorts will have entertainment specific for those who are on a romantic getaway.  There is also the casino option for those who want to hit it big.   Night life doesn’t have to be at the resort.  Find out if there are any local bars, restaurants or night clubs that you can visit that are close to the resort.

All Inclusive resorts can be very enjoyable if you pick the right resort.  It is important that you discuss your plans with a travel agent prior to making your first deposit.  Proper planning will make your all-inclusive vacation a dream getaway with many memories.

Belvin Baldwin – Travel Consultant – http://www.showtimetrael.com – (770) 495-8855

The Top 5 Things You Need to Organize a Group Trip

I have helped my people who try to organize group travel with their family, friends, club members, co-workers, etc..  In the travel industry, we call this person a group leader.  The group leader has the best intentions but with out proper planning a group trip can turn into a nightmare.

It’s always a pleasure to travel with a group that has a common interest.  There are many advantages to group travel which can include discounted rates, special incentives, exclusive amenities and in some cases complimentary rooms.    So the question is how can YOU organize a group trip to to take advantage of these group rewards?

Here are the top 5 things you need to organize a group tip.

1. Travel Consultant

A travel consultant can help you filter through the many travel suppliers and destinations to find the right fit for your group.  He or she will be able to provide you with incentives and advantages that the travel supplier can provide your group.  Also, a travel consultant will give you peace of mind and ease because he or she can relieve you of all the travel payment collections and travel questions.

2. A Purpose

There are many reasons people travel with groups.  Each successful group trip has a very well defined purpose for the trip.    The purpose of the group trip can be to celebrate, learn, explore, raise funds, and/or just to have fun.  The group members need to know the purpose of the group trip so they can plan accordingly.

3.  A Group with a Pied-Piper

I have come across some group leaders that are a part of a group but they are not group leader potential.  Each group has a person where a majority of the group follows and respects his or her’s advice.  We will call this person the Pied-Piper.   The Pied-Piper may not be the person who thought of the vacation but this who the group will follow if  he or she goes on the group trip.   It is key that the Pied-Pier takes an active role in promoting the group trip.

4. Commitment

A group trip has to have a certain amount of travels to be considered a group.  If you don’t reach that set group amount,  various penalties and/or rate hike may occur.   So it’s important for the group organizer to get a  strong majority commitment on the destination, budget and the number of committed travelers.   By getting these three factors, it will help you in reserving the right amount of rooms which will insure you meet your minimum group space requirements.

5. Communication

You have to have a medium that the group will follow where you can promote the group trip.  Past groups have used a e-mail database, website, social media, newsletters and more. Whichever medium that you use, make sure that group consistently follows it.

By following these 5 tips, you will be on your way to organizing a successful group trip.

These tips were given by:

Showtime Travel www.showtimetravel.com
(770) 495-8855

2013 Travel Choice Award Winners for Best Hotels

The 2013 Travel Choice Awards on TripAdvisor.com can assist you in selecting your next vacation.  Many travelers write reviews on TripAdvisor.com which has made it a source in choosing various hotel properties and destinations.  Although some of the reviews may seem over the top and or bias, there is no denying that a lot of travelers view TripAdvisor.com’s reviews prior to making any vacation buying decision.   We strongly suggest that you use a profession travel agency as your top source when customizing a vacation; preferably Showtime Travel :-).  Travel agencies can assist you in filtering opinions from facts which will help you customize a vacation specifically for your needs.

 

 

How to Avoid Super Bowl Travel Scams

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Every year you hear about the poor soul who bought a fax Superbowl ticket or spends thousands on a bogus sports travel package.  Here are some tips to help you avoid these sports travel scams.

• Check the tickets. Make sure when booking a sports package that the arrangements include tickets to the desired sporting event. The U.S. government’s ‘Truth in Ticketing’ rules, require that a tour operator advertising a Super Bowl travel package that includes a flight and game tickets must have the game tickets in hand or have a written contract for the tickets before they can even advertise.

 • Do your homework. Book tour packages through a travel agent or tour operator affiliated with a professional organization, such as ASTA. For example, ASTA notes it is the only travel trade association with a Consumer Affairs function that can mediate some disputes for consumers and ASTA member travel agents. Check to see if the company is an ASTA member at ASTA.org. Also, check to see if there are any complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.

 • Protect yourself. Make sure the tour operator participates in a consumer protection plan. ASTA’s Tour Operator Program (TOP) helps travel agents and consumers identify ASTA tour operators that meet certain standards, the Society says. The criteria require that the tour operator be in the business of operating tours for the past three years; have a $1 million Errors & Omissions (E&O) policy naming travel agents as additional insured; and adhere to the ASTA and TOP code of ethics.

• Read the fine print. Get information about the tour package and tour operator in writing. Read the information carefully and ask your travel agent to explain all the details.

ASTA also offers suggestions when evaluating any travel offer to help avoid being a victim of a travel scam:

• Retain a healthy dose of skepticism. Be extremely skeptical about unsolicited e-mail, postcard and phone solicitations saying you’ve been selected to receive a fabulous vacation or anything free. Be especially wary of firms requiring you to wait at least 60 days to take your trip.

• Do your homework. Some offers might sound great on the surface, but be sure to read the fine-print. Certain offers impose so many requirements and restrictions, such as black-out dates and companion fees, that you will either never have the chance to take the trip or you will end up paying more than had you made the arrangements on your own or used an ASTA travel agent.

• Run a “background check.” You should vet the companies from which you purchase travel services. You can do this by checking to see if they are members of ASTA or by searching for the company on the Better Business Bureau’s Web site. Other sites to check are www.complaintsboard.com and www.ripoffreport.com.

• Keep private information private. Never give out your credit card number unless you initiate the transaction and you are confident about the company with which you are doing business.

• Get the facts. You should receive complete details in writing about any trip prior to payment. These details should include the total price; cancellation and change penalties, if any; and specific information about all components of the package.

• Follow up. Once you have the complete details of your trip, contact the hotel and transportation companies on your own to make certain the reservations have been made.

• Know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. High-pressure sales presentations that don’t allow you time to evaluate the offer, or which require that you disclose your income are red flags to be heeded.

• Protect yourself. Always pay with a credit card if possible. Even legitimate companies can go out of business. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit card customers have the right to refuse paying for charges for services not rendered. Details of the Fair Credit Billing Act can be found at the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site.

If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your local Better Business Bureau, your local or state Consumer Affairs Office, state attorney general’s office, or e-mail ASTA’s Consumer Affairs department at consumeraffairs@asta.org for information and assistance. For more travel tips, visit ASTA’s consumer Web site, www.TravelSense.org.

source: TravelAgentCentral.com

Why You Should Visit St. Thomas USVI?

I had a chance to visit St. Thomas and enjoyed this Island.  The island has culture, beautiful scenery, duty free shopping and no passport needed if you are an US citizen.

St. Thomas combines the natural beauty of the Caribbean with the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the United States. Here you’ll discover breathtaking white-sand beaches perfect for all of your watersports dreams or for simply sitting underneath the shade of a palm tree scanning the horizon of one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. You’ll also find elegant dining, upscale resorts, exciting nightlife, challenging golf, and world-class duty-free shopping. St. John is more serene and adventurous with many natural sites to see. On St. Thomas there are also many historical and cultural activities for travelers to enjoy.

Stay Cool at “Magic Ice” in St. Thomas

We had the pleasure of having a complimentary drink in Magic Ice in St. Thomas, USVI.  Magic Ice is a Ice Bar that has a variety of beautiful ice sculptures showcased through out the bar.   This Scandinavia-inspired attraction is rated by Tripadvisor as the the #1 thing to do in St. Thomas.  This sub-zero experience is well worth it.  There is a cover charge which get you a complimentary shot and shot glass.  View our video interview and pictures to get more details on Magic Ice before your next trip to St. Thomas, USVI.

http://www.magicice.vi/

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