A true “gem” on the Riviera Maya

Paige and David were celebrating their 10th anniversary and — with three small children at home — they really needed someplace they could relax and unwind. When they described their ideal all-inclusive resort as small, non-touristy, authentic and with great food, the Blue Diamond Riviera Maya jumped to the top of the list.

Hi Ann,

We are delighted to provide a review of our trip to Mexico.  Our experience was so ideal we can’t imagine how it could even have been improved.

panorama of a boardwalk with palm trees and beach in the background on the Mexican Riviera

As you know, for this trip we were looking for a quiet, unhurried escape from our busy lives as parents of little children.  Blue Diamond was absolutely perfect.  We were greeted at the entry with cold juice and truffles while we waited to check in.  Because we arrived in the morning, our room wasn’t quite ready, so the bellboy took us by golf cart to the oceanfront restaurant where we had an incredible made-to order lunch brought to us by kind, personable staff we’d continue to see all week.  Here are the features we most loved about Blue Diamond:

  • The size.  Blue Diamond has about 125 suites, so even at full capacity not too many guests are around.  The resort itself is not large, but its design makes every part feel uncrowded, quiet, and serene.  The pool and beach areas are not expansive, but the spaces are comfortable and welcoming.
  • The design.  The resort is built into a jungle with a long, winding stone boardwalk providing one route from the lobby to the beach.  Rooms are tucked off to the side of the boardwalk all along the way.  Suites overlook either a cenote, which boasts native crocodiles, or a laguna. No ocean views except for the fanciest suites, but we didn’t mind as we actually didn’t spend a ton of time lounging in our room.  The style is simple, calm, and elegant – no faux-thatched roofing or bright Mexican decor – it looks classic and minimalist, while still being very comfortable.
  • The service. One of our favorite things about the resort is that we got to know the staff throughout the week because we saw the same people working in their areas.  Almost daily we had the same breakfast and lunch waiter (Pedro), the same dinner waiter (Juan David), and the same pool waiter (Jorge).  We also worked with one concierge and enjoyed getting to know the water sports director throughout the week.  It was really enjoyable to chat with the same staff throughout the week and to be remembered by them.  As the week progressed the staff knew how we like our coffee, whether to bring lime for our water, the answer to ‘more champagne?’ is always yes, and that we love sailing even when it’s windy.

two shots of tequila on a cribbage board by the pool in the Mexican Riviera

  • The extra touches. We loved having bicycles to ride from our room down to the beachfront and back; we also were offered rides in the patrolling golf carts anytime we were walking.  The concierge was extremely helpful when we told him we couldn’t sleep at night because our room was too warm – we eventually problem-solved this with a few extra fans in our room, and for our troubles they brought us chocolate covered strawberries and champagne one evening.  Alex, the water sports director, took us sailing a couple times and connected us with the parasailing crew.  We tried out the temezcal, the Mayan ritual sauna, which was an amazing experience.  They also had wine tasting and cocktail making classes and a free snorkeling trip in a group of only four guests, so it was personally guided by Alex.  We loved playing ping pong next to the beach, and whenever we asked for cocktails they were unfamiliar with, they spent quite a bit of time looking up the recipe and trying to capture what we had in mind.
  • The food. One of the things that appealed to us about Blue Diamond was that all the food is cooked to order so we would not be eating any buffet meals.  We were not disappointed by the quality of the meals!  The only limiting factor was that we got full too fast.  Our favorite meal was usually lunch because we loved their sushi offerings and their seafood soup.  We were also lucky to get seats at the Friday night barbecue, which they only do occasionally, where we enjoyed grilled scallops, lobster tail, crab, salmon, and more delicious seafood I can’t even remember.  Breakfast for us was usually an omelet, fresh fruit juice, and a side of smoked salmon – not to mention the roving tray of pastries.  And dinner was always delicious – steak and seafood were our top choices, and we always started with an order of the steamed mussels.  I could go on and on about the food ….  Another draw for us was that the restaurants do not require reservations, and we never had to wait for a table.  I loved the freedom to eat whenever the mood struck!
  • The room. We loved the comfortable king bed, the huge closet, the double shower, and the floor-to-ceiling windows.  Everything was beautiful, wonderfully cleaned by housekeeping each day, and so serene.

In summary, I would highly recommend Blue Diamond for anyone seeking a peaceful, restorative vacation.  It has a few evenings of entertainment, but is not a resort for those looking to mingle, dance, and party.  This is a great couples resort, an excellent place to escape from hurried life and to be pampered.  We would return in a heartbeat!  Thank you so much for helping us find Blue Diamond.



Making Memories in Mexico

Teens can be notoriously hard to please, and TWIN teens could potentially mean double trouble, but it sounds like the Moon Palace Cancun was the perfect solution to this family’s vacation dilemma. Plenty of activities for the girls, a relaxing spa treatment for Mom, and as for Dad — well — if the girls are happy, what more does he need?

Hi Ann

We had such an amazing vacation. We had such a beautiful ocean front view from our room. It was incredible. I also loved the big jacuzzi in our room!

view of the park and beach with palm trees in Cancun

All of the restaurants were great too. We loved the service everywhere at the hotel. Everyone was friendly and helpful! We loved all of the choices of restaurants available to us at both Nizuk and Sunrise. We never made it to eat at the golf course. We never had to wait to eat!

two women and a chef pose at the table in Cancun Mexico two young girls cheers their blended drinks with heart straws in Cancun

We tried to get a hibachi table  at Momo but in order to do that you had to wait in line before it opened, I waited in line about 45 minutes and by the time I got to the front the hibachi tables were sold out. They didn’t take phone reservations. It’s ok, though, we still ate there at a regular table and enjoyed it. So overall the food and service was excellent! We also loved the outside lunch buffets by the pool. There was even a food truck there by the pool bar. So good!

large pool with palm trees in the background in the Mexican Riviera people playing in the large pool of the Mexican Riviera resort

The resort credits were such great deals we did the Tulum Express tour and Ventura Park. Both were amazing! The park was great for us because it was close by to the hotel. It had zip lining and an adventure area plus an entire water park too. All of our food and drinks were included there too. And we rode on the only roller coaster in Cancun. Tulum was just breathtaking. We did the express tour and that was just enough for us. The transportation was a nice big coach bus. We were back by 2:30 to enjoy the resort.

two girls pose next to the Tulum sign in Mexico a beach cove along the Mexican Riviera

I also used the resort credit to have a facial. At the Awe Spa. That was so relaxing and again great service.

The shows at night were so fun. We saw a circus, Breakdancing, Michael Jackson and a Fire show. All top notch performances!

a family poses in front of small trees in the Mexican Riviera

We loved all the pools, slides, bars and flowrider too. My daughters rode bikes there. The transportation to get front Sunrise to Nizuk was very easy. We split our time equally between each section.

a body surfing experience at the moon resort in Cancun

The only downfall was the beach area.

We also went to Beach Palace for the day and that crystal blue clear water was just incredible. We loved that water!

Amstar was a great transfer to and from the airport.  We had no problems at all. It went very smoothly.

This vacation was awesome! Thank you for helping us! Now like you said back to reality but the memories will last forever!

Thank you,


Priceless Peace of Mind

Every honeymoon couples wants their “escape” to be magical, memorable, and stress-free, but with a life-threatening food allergy to contend with, the #1 item on Allison and Greg’s wish list was to be able to eat/drink at an all-inclusive resort without worrying about a medical crisis. We chose a Sandals resort in St Lucia, because of Sandals’ strong track record in accommodating special dietary needs, and they were able to relax and enjoy their honeymoon knowing that they were in good hands!

Hi Ann,

We had a fantastic time on our honeymoon.  I’ll break my email up into sections to make it easier!


The resort (Sandals Halcyon Beach) was perfect for us- quiet, romantic, and tropical.  It was exactly what we envisioned.

Dietary needs

Sandals was amazing with my dietary restrictions.  Within five minutes of arriving at the resort, the executive chef was waiting to meet me.  We discussed all of my concerns then and he went over the restaurant options and menus.  All of the waitstaff was extremely cautious as well.  The first question the servers asked was “are there any food allergies at the table” so even if I had not warned them, I would have been fine.  I ate great all week without being sick.

Sandals Honeymoon Registry

We did a lot of great excursions through the Sandals Honeymoon Registry, which I would definitely recommend.  They had prebooked everything for us, but were open to changing them if needed.  This took a lot of stress out of the registry process.  Unlike others, you didn’t have to estimate how much the excursions were, find a place to do them, get the money from the registry, pay for the excursion, and then book it yourself. Everything was taken care of.


The excursions/extras we did were: Zip Lining, Soufriere Jeep Tour, Piton Sunset Cruise, Couples Massage, and the Private Candlelit dinner.  We absolutely loved every single one.

Zip Lining

We did it with Tree Top, who is #1 on TripAdvisor.  This was through the Honeymoon Registry.  They were great. Everyone was assigned a “guide” who assisted during the excursion.  Our guide took great photographs and videos for us.  The zip lining course was awesome.  There were 12 lines, each of different heights, lengths, and speeds. I was totally petrified before doing it, but I got over it and had so much fun.  The views of the rain forest were gorgeous as well.

honeymoon couple zipline in St. Lucia

Soufriere Jeep Tour

This was from our registry as well and was our favorite.  We were picked up at the resort in a big open air jeep and were able to stand in the back. We viewed the Pitons, went to the Sulphur Springs, went to a waterfall, ate lunch at a local restaurant, and stopped in a lot of towns/villages.  We really felt like we got to see so much of St. Lucia.  The views were breathtaking and we had so much fun at each stop.

couple on their honeymoon in st. lucia

Piton Sunset

This was on our registry, but not purchased, so we used the Tour credit we got when we booked the honeymoon.  Also a very fun excursion.  We took the large catamaran out to the Pitons, snorkeled between the Pitons, and then sailed back.  The sail to the Pitons was relaxing and scenic, while the ride home became a party with a DJ and rum punch!

Couples Massage

One of the best massages I have had!  The massages are all done in gazebos outside throughout the resort.  It was very romantic, with candles that we got to pick the scent of, and take home for a souvenir.

Private Candlelit Dinner

A can’t miss!  The food was exquisite and the service was excellent.  You can choose to have the dinner on the beach or in a gazebo. We chose a gazebo because of the rain.  We had a private server.  It was a four course meal, with a bottle of champagne (and other drinks if you wanted) and a rose.  Very romantic!! We just loved it!


I know I voiced our concerns about the weather before we left.  It was definitely rainy! Not so much like Florida.  It rained almost every day we were there.  A few days it rained all day long.  Friday was a complete wash out, the towns were flooded, the shuttles were canceled between resorts, and the beaches were a mess with debris.  Even the locals were amazed with how much it was raining.  For this reason, I would probably not suggest St. Lucia during this time of the year, although of course overall we would highly recommend St. Lucia.  We made the most of our trip and didn’t let the rain affect us at all, but a lot of guests were complaining!


We had a good experience flying into St. Lucia, but the trip home was horrible.  The shuttle got us to the airport very early, so we waited forever!! Then when we landed in Miami, they didn’t have a gate for us so we sat on the tarmac for over an hour.  We had to rush through customs and security.  We made out connecting flight with honestly not a moment to spare.  We boarded, but then were delayed because of a missing lifejacket.  By the time we were at our house, it had been 14 hours of traveling!  We seem to always have problems with American Airlines like this and probably won’t fly with them again.

I hope this all helps! Let me know if you have any other questions! Thank you again for helping us plan our dream honeymoon!!!!

Having a blast in Barbados!

I am so appreciative when clients take the time to send me detailed feedback about their vacation — especially when it includes pictures of them enjoying themselves!  Chris and Christina obviously had an amazing honeymoon at the brand-new Couples Barbados, and I’m so glad to have helped to make it happen.

Dear Ann,

First of all, I apologize for my very delayed reply about the details of our trip!  I’ll start with our travels – flight/transfers/airport pick up.  Flight down to Miami was pretty typical (sadly no upgrades to first class by being honeymooners – haha!), and the layover was fine.  We did have a slight hiccup in our plane that had to take a “pit stop” in Puerto Rico to check on the engine.  Even though we were anxious to get to the island, we were at least better safe than sorry!

Once we arrived in Barbados, everything went flawlessly.  Thank you for the detailed itinerary!  We met our Couples Barbados representatives after retrieving our bags and had a pleasant ride over to the resort, courtesy of our friendly driver.  Barbadians are the friendliest people!

Christina 5

The resort was perfection.  The lobby was coastal-inspired and luxurious.  The facilities were clean, modern, and comfortable.  The walks between the buildings offered lush greenery and tropical flowers (and lots of palm trees – my favorite!).  Our room was unreal.  We had the most perfect lookout spot – a view of the main pool area and beach right in front of us.  It felt really private, too, even with rooms on either side of us.

Poolside relaxation

What a view!

What a view!

Multiple couples we talked to during our stay had been to Couples Resorts in Jamaica.  Each couple thought this new Couples Barbados Resort surpassed them all!  These opinions just made us feel all the more grateful!

Our first night, the resort offered a manager’s welcome cocktail hour and a beach BBQ for dinner.  Both offered amazing food!  Just the beginning of weeklong “good eats!”  Chris and I never tired of the food options.  The three restaurants offered a variety of options and changed their menu choices frequently.  One advice for future travelers: bring a few nice outfits and, specifically for guys, bring a couple of dress pants.  One of the restaurants, the Dover, had a dress code requiring nice shoes, long pants, and classy dresses.  Your other clients that had written about their experiences with the restaurants were helpful with our planning (reservations, types of food options, opening hours, etc.).  I would definitely include that information for future travelers, as well.  The service at the restaurants was wonderful, too – we always had a full glass of wine!

Christina 13

We loved the swim-up pool bar and beach waiter service.  To only have to stick a flag in the sand to get free drinks??  Yes, please.  We also took advantage of the room service and had breakfast delivered one morning.

Another drink, please :)

Another drink, please 🙂

Like the other couple before us, we also took advantage of the private dinner on the beach.  The extra money for this was definitely worth it!  What other time in your life can you have a personal waiter serve you food under the stars?  I would highly suggest the experience.  We signed up for this night (and other excursions) through the front desk.  When you sign up, you choose the menu you’ll have for the night.

Romantic dinner on the beach.

Romantic dinner on the beach.

We also (thanks to your advice!) brought a copy of our marriage license and were able to receive a free honeymooners’ “couples massage.”  This was just an awesome perk – I’ve always wanted to try something like that!

One of my favorite nights was a resort “event night” on the beach.  The staff set up an outdoor movie night under the stars – with popcorn, drinks, and comforters spread out on doubled-up beach chairs (a make-shift bed/sofa)!  It was such a cute idea – so fun and romantic.

Excursions!  So many to choose from – it made me wish we had scheduled three weeks on the island!  Our first excursion was a combination tour of Harrison’s Cave and a wildlife reserve.  Both were incredible!  The cave was massive.  I would have never thought we could be taken on a trolley into the depths of a cave.  It was also very informational about the geological and geographical make-up of the island.  Following the cave we were able to feed monkeys, pet turtles, and observe many other wildlife animals in the reserve.  Overall, the excursion was a great one.

Harrison's Cave

Harrison’s Cave




We also went on the included catamaran sunset cruise.  The crew was HILARIOUS.  That alone makes this excursion one you don’t want to miss out on!  Each crewmember was just having a blast – dancing to music, making jokes, getting others to join in a dance party.  Then of course, we saw a number of sea turtles!  Snorkeling with the turtles in the tropical waters was a definite highlight – just don’t forget a waterproof camera!

Catamaran sail

Catamaran sail

Everyone we ran into kept raving about Oistins on Friday night, so we obviously didn’t miss out on this event, either.  We tried some local swordfish and watched some great local dancing on a large stage.  The whole night was really entertaining and gave us a feel of Barbadian life.

Our final excursion was zip lining through a gully with two comical guides.  Chris and I had a personal tour through the gully – no one else joined us on the day of!  This made the zip lining all the more fun – no waiting in lines!  And we have some fabulous pictures and videos from the experience.  A perfect place to cross zip lining off the bucket list!

Ziplining fun

Ziplining fun

The only downer I can think of: the shower didn’t stay at the temperature we wanted; most of the time, it just had a mind of its own!

Other wonderful aspects about Couples Barbados:

– Yoga was offered every morning in a beautiful open pergola

– A fitness center, exercise classes, and tennis courts were available (with tennis lessons offered!)

–  People often played games on the beach (football/soccer, cricket, volleyball, etc.) – these were open to everyone

– A variety of entertainment was offered every night – with very talented performers!

– Rocking swings and hammocks were scattered around the property – just fun and relaxing perks!

– Pool and ping pong tables were available in the main lounge area

– Again – just a great staff of people that were incredibly gracious and fun to see every day

Overall, our whole honeymoon could not have been better.  Travelers will not be disappointed here!  For us – nothing could beat the atmosphere of the resort, the service, the people, the excursions, the beautiful scenery, the amazing weather, and, for me, my handsome husband (he’s not included for other travelers! Ha ha!). 

So thank you again, Ann!  We feel so blessed to have gone to Barbados – and to this newly opened resort! – for our honeymoon.  We are so grateful that you found this perfect spot for us!

I’ve already recommended you to a number of other friends of ours looking to plan trips!

Thank you again!!!

Chris and Christina

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)