How to (safely) go on a Beach Vacation this Summer

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As we move into August and the scorching summer heat, a beach vacation sounds irresistible. Many Caribbean islands and parts of Mexico are opening their doors to American tourists this summer, but with safety regulations and protocols in place.

All of the islands have a few more entry forms you’ll need to fill out, they will take your temperature at the airport, and they require masks to be worn at all times in the airports and on all flights. Like the rest of the world, masks, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing are always encouraged but each destination also has its own twist on their coronavirus safety efforts. Here’s what you need to know about traveling to the beach this summer {and please keep in mind that this information is accurate as of July 20th and may evolve over the coming weeks}:

Cancun & Riviera Maya, Mexico

over water bungalows on punta maroma mexico
[Photo credit: Ann Petronio, Annie’s Escapes]

Getting There

The requirements for flying into Cancun are pretty minimal. Currently, there are no restrictions on air travel to Mexico from the U.S. However, when you arrive you’ll need to complete a COVID-19 risk questionnaire. All travelers must undergo thermal screening, and if you exhibit symptoms upon arrival you’ll have to go through further screening and a potential quarantine. When you depart you will have to upload a second COVID-19 questionnaire. This can be tricky with the Cancun airport wifi so it’s best to complete it before leaving your resort.

On Vacation

Once you’ve landed you’ll find that business openings are dependent upon strict sanitary protocols, social distancing, and hygienic guidelines. Bars, casinos, and nightclubs remain closed but hotels, resorts, and restaurants that have received the Clean & Safe Check certification can open at 30% occupancy to facilitate social distancing. Staff will always be wearing masks and gloves, and depending on the resort you may be asked to do a temperature check at check-in. Many hotels also have a new app that allows guests to scan a QR code to see the restaurant menu on their phones to limit contact. The most notable differences in your Cancun or Riviera Maya experience will be having no buffets, lots of cleaning, and social distancing markers.

two shots of tequila and cribbage on vacation in Mexico
[Photo credit: Paige Van Norstrand via Annie’s Escapes]

In general, masks are required in all public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. However, masks are not required in private areas like your hotel rooms and on the beach. The public beaches in the area are currently closed but resort beaches are open to their guests so you can still get plenty of sun and sand. If you’re looking for something more active, many water sports and private tours are still operating. Xcaret, Xel Ha, and Xplor are all open with limited capacity and required reservations.

The biggest focus in Quintana Roo is social distancing, so it’s still fairly easy to enjoy the warm sea and soft sand of these exquisite beaches as long as you’re far enough away from fellow guests.


stunning areal of the bay in antigua
[Photo credit: Rick Jamison via Unsplash]

Getting There

Antigua’s focus on the safety of locals and tourists means they are requiring everyone who enters to be tested for COVID-19. Knowing that your fellow travelers tested negative certainly offers greater peace-of-mind while relaxing on the beach.

Travelers heading to Antigua must upload a negative COVID-19 test certificate taken within a week before their arrival date. Every incoming traveler must be tested for COVID-19. So if they do not have a recent negative test certificate, it will cost around $100 to be tested upon arrival. Tests administered at the airport will take about 15 minutes to complete and results will be available within 48 hours (during which time you will have to quarantine at your resort).

Before traveling you must fill out traveler registration and traveler accommodation forms. Upon arrival, besides the regular immigration form, you will have to fill out a health declaration with coronavirus risk-related questions. When leaving the airport for your resort, you must use authorized certified ground transportation to help increase the effectiveness of contact tracing.

three beach chairs in antigua
[Photo credit: Danielle Acampora via Annie’s Escapes]

On Vacation

Antigua is taking the safety of locals and visitors very seriously so they can provide a safe environment for your vacation. There is strict mask enforcement in public locations throughout the island. Failure to wear a mask in public places and those places where social distancing is not possible can result in a fine up to $5,000 or 6 months in jail. Washing or sanitizing your hands before entering a new location such as a restaurant, grocery store, or hotel is also strictly enforced.

However, face masks are not required on the beaches when social distance can be maintained. While vendors and other staff will be wearing face masks and gloves at all times, beachgoers can enjoy the ocean unencumbered. All the beaches will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and there is a general mobility curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Guests are asked to, generally, stay inside their resort property and participate only in activities arranged by their resort. However, dependent on their negative test results, arrangements can be made to rent a car through the hotel.  


Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica
[Photo credit: Ann Petronio, Annie’s Escapes]

Getting There

All travelers to Jamaica must complete a Travel Authorization Screening within 5 days of their arrival date and present the result at the airport. The response is usually generated within 10 minutes after submitting the form. You will not be granted permission to travel if the COVID-19 risk is considered too great. On arrival, if you are considered high risk or exhibit symptoms, they may ask you to take a COVID-19 test and place you in quarantine until the results are available (usually within 48 hours).

Travelers from New York, Florida, Arizona, and Texas are considered high-risk and must have a negative COVID-19 test result from an accredited laboratory taken within 10 days of their arrival date before being allowed to board the flight.

enjoy a glass of champagne overlooking the resort pool and ocean with palm trees in Jamaica
[Photo Credit: Anne Marie McLaughlin via Annie’s Escapes]

On Vacation

Jamaica is asking that you remain within your resort bubble and comply with the face mask and social distancing requirements. They have created a “resilient corridor” on the north coast to manage the movement of tourists. Resorts and hotels in this corridor may only open after receiving a COVID-19 readiness certificate so you know they are following the 120-page hospitality guide. The hospitality guidelines include sanitation and temperature checks upon arrival, luggage sanitization, face masks and PPE for employees.

As long as social distance can be observed, masks are not required on Jamaica’s beaches. To help facilitate this, beaches will be restricted to 70% capacity with designated entrances. Like Antigua, there is a general mobility curfew on the whole island from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. but that shouldn’t affect your beach vacation too much.


ocean sunset with sailboat in Aruba
[Photo credit: Helen Pereira via Annie’s Escapes]

Getting There

Aruba has four main requirements for entry. Basic travel information, Personal Health Assessment, negative PCR test, and insurance. All of the forms and information are consolidated onto a digital ED card. Aside from the usual basic information, passengers must fill out a Personal Health Assessment with COVID-19 risk-related questions between 72 and 4 hours before boarding.

Residents from 20 high-risk states [AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, ID, IA, KS, LA, MS, NV, NC, OH, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WI, WY] must upload proof of a negative test result from an accredited laboratory taken between 12 and 72 hours before flying. Other states’ residents have the option of uploading the test or having one taken at the airport in Oranjestad for $75. If the test is taken at the airport then travelers are required to quarantine at their booked accommodation (remaining in their room and avoiding all contact with others) for 24 hours while awaiting results.

Finally, all travelers must purchase mandatory Aruba Visitors Insurance which costs around $15 per person per day and covers up to $75,000 in expenses should they test positive during their stay.

private beach umbrellas under the palm trees in aruba
[Photo credit: Paulo Evangelista via Unsplash]

On Vacation

The requirements to enter Aruba are greater than some of the other islands, but once there you can feel secure knowing everyone there has had a negative test result and you can relax at your resort. Like the other islands, hotels in Aruba are following protocols for extra cleaning, luggage sanitization, elevator safety, and contactless check-ins. Though social distancing and masks are not mandatory outside the airport, they are heavily encouraged in all public spaces.


couple enjoying their plunge pool in St. Lucia
[Photo credit: Nicole Fiero via Annie’s Escapes]

Getting There

Visitors to St. Lucia must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the past 7 days. They will also have to complete a travel registration form. At the airport, each passenger will be screened and their temperature will be taken. Anyone showing symptoms will be tested and quarantined at their expense. Travelers must also show confirmations for their stay at a COVID-19 certified accommodation before boarding the plane.

the ocean view from a beach-side cabana in St. Lucia
[Photo credit: Sara O’Brien via Annie’s Escapes]

On Vacation

To protect the locals and minimize risk, St. Lucia is restricting guests to an approved list of resorts that are cooperating with strict COVID-19 protocols, and is not allowing multi-resort stays (you have to remain at one property for the duration of your vacation). Throughout the properties, there will be sanitization stations and they have implemented strict cleaning protocols.

St. Lucia asks that you not explore the island on your own, but a small number of tours will be available through the resorts. Masks are required in public spaces and hotels are implementing limited contact check-in and check-out protocols. Additionally, hotels are required to check guests’ temperatures at each meal-time. As with the other islands, masks are not required on the beach as long as social distance is maintained.

Although a relaxing island vacation will require a few more steps than usual this summer, most of the Caribbean has seen low coronavirus numbers. That combined with their commitment to sanitization and testing should give you great peace-of-mind as you head to the beach. Fantastic resorts and all-inclusives usually mean you don’t want to leave your resort anyway. So, if you’re excited by the idea of soaking in the sun and enjoying the waves let us know and we can help you navigate the new rules and regulations for wherever you want to go!

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,


Palace Resorts deliver!

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One of the best parts of this business is getting the opportunity to go visit the destinations/resorts that I sell, so that I can better understand which one(s) might be best for which client(s). It’s something I’ve been doing for a dozen years or so, several times per year, and it never gets old. But my most recent “familiarization” (FAM) trip, to Mexico, was extra special. I was able to bring along the newest member of the Shared Adventures Travel team, and see it all through her eyes. Here is Christina’s report on our Palace Resorts FAM trip.

Picture Yourself at Palace Resorts

To better serve our clients, travel agents make the most of opportunities to visit desirable destinations and properties.  This past weekend was one of those opportunities.  Palace Resorts offered to host Ann and me for three days in Cancun to tour their exquisite portfolio of resorts.  Despite some unfortunate hiccups with flight reservations due to the most recent New England winter storm, Ann and I were able to make our way to Mexico – for her umpteenth and my very first – hosted familiarization (FAM) tour.

Palace Resorts did not disappoint.  Each property has its own allure, while still providing the consistent quality of amenities and service a guest can expect from the Palace brand.  Whether you are planning a family getaway, a romantic retreat, an adventurous escape, or a destination wedding, there is a perfect Palace resort just waiting for you to purchase your plane ticket!

To help you determine which Palace Resort is right for you, we have taken the time to break down the distinguishing features at each property:

Moon Palace

This sprawling resort makes the most of its acreage, only ten minutes from the Cancun International Airport.  Moon Palace has three distinct sections: Sunrise, Nizuc, and Grand.  Stunning, Palace brand caliber accommodations are available at all three.

Sunrise is a kids’ paradise while still providing the relaxation space for parents and couples.  Stay here for easy access to the new Surfrider, Palace Resorts’ kids’ area – the Playroom, multiple restaurant options, a nightclub, miniature golf, the WIRED Teens Lounge, and the golf course.  The 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature course is perfect for the golf enthusiast.  In addition to the greens, you can also find the massive Awe Spa, Moon Palace Arena, and the upscale Italian and Mexican restaurants that both require reservations.

Ann and I stayed in the Nizuc section of Moon Palace.  Nizuc offered peaceful paths along the beach, and beautifully landscaped grounds.  In this section of Moon Palace, there is a water slide, outdoor pool, two swim-up bars, fitness center, outdoor stage for nightly entertainment, four bars, and five restaurants – to name a few of the perks!  Our room had a balcony that overlooked the palms, manicured gardens, and the azure blue ocean.  It had a well-stocked mini bar, liquor dispenser, and a bottle of wine to greet us; CHI® bath amenities, hair dryer, and flat iron; bathrobes and slippers; Lavazza™ coffee; double whirlpool tub; and more.

If you would like to take advantage of the 1,975 feet of beachfront property and ocean views by having your destination wedding here at Moon Palace, then you will love the gorgeous gazebos in Nizuc.  Choose the open-air gazebo for your guests to embrace the Caribbean Coast with sight, scent, sound, and feel; or choose the gazebo enclosed with floor to ceiling glass that allows a completely air conditioned space for you and your guests to comfortably soak in the ocean front vista.  Always pictured your feet in the sand for your ceremony?  No problem.  Nizuc has that option, too!  Or if you’d rather wear those coveted Jimmy Choos, book the air-conditioned chapel and walk down a paved path past fountains and palms.  Another unique trait that this resort offers to its brides is the horses on site – so you can reserve your romantic carriage ride off into the sunset if you wish!

Currently, the final section of Moon Palace, the Grand, is under construction.  Part of the area is open for guests and Diamond Palace Members, and it is (amazingly) still quite tranquil despite the expansion that is underway.  Once the work is complete, there will be a colossal water park with numerous slides and pool areas, rooms with swim up pools, and more.  There will be ten restaurants and six bars in this section, nine outdoor pools (a couple of which are adults-only), five swim-up bars, bowling lanes, and a theater that seats 950 guests.  The Grand section of Moon Palace truly will be “grand!”

Overall, Moon Palace is a perfect retreat for couples, families, and friends of all ages.  Because of its size, you can craft the feel you want for your vacation.  It has the peacefulness of being set apart from the hotel zone in Cancun, while still offering the activity and excitement for those who seek it.  Also because of its size, you will have plenty of culinary options available – perfect for a longer stay.  The amenities and staff for destination weddings are unparalleled, as well!  Your wedding will be in the most capable hands so you can truly enjoy the biggest day of your life.  One final key feature to mention: Moon Palace is known in the area for its concerts, which are held at the large convention center on site.  So if you time it right, you can buy tickets for big names like Shakira!

Playacar Palace

Located in the heart of Playa del Carmen, Playacar Palace is a family-friendly 201-room resort that marvelously still maintains the feel of being adult-oriented.  Whether you like the nightlife and shopping available just steps away in Playa del Carmen or prefer to stay put and soak up the Caribbean sun, Playacar Palace has it all.  Right next to the resorts’ property are a number of restaurants, shops, and nightclubs, as well as the ferry port for trips to Cozumel.  Even with all the perks of this resort’s location, the resort itself is beautiful, so there’s no need to leave!  You will have plenty to enjoy between the beautiful beach, three on-site restaurants, four bars, an outdoor pool with a kids’ section, six spa treatment rooms, daily activities, and nightly entertainment.

Weddings here are gorgeous and can take place in a few areas to make the most of the views and resort amenities.  For instance, you can have your ceremony with your feet in the sand or on the built-in beach platform (perfect for wearing heels!); cocktail hour can be set up under the palm trees; and your reception can overlook the entire resort, pool, and oceanfront from an upper terrace.  There’s also a beautiful veranda in the midst of a landscaped garden inside of the resort for first look photos, pre- or post-wedding family photos, and more.  If you’re hoping to have a idyllic, relaxing wedding on the beach but still would like your ring bearers and flower girls involved, then this resort is perfect for you – family-friendly while still exuding romance.

Cozumel Palace

Cozumel Palace is not for the beach bums, though there is a small stretch of manicured man-made beach (and you can always venture to the other side of the island for some of the most gorgeous beaches in Mexico!) This resort is more suited for the adventurer.  The property has a pool specifically designed to teach scuba diving, an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean, and snorkeling gear for guests to experience the marine life off the dock of the property.  An Aqua Safari Dive Shop is right on site, and you can book excursions to Cozumel’s Palancar Reef and El Cielo Starfish Bay.  The resort is located only fifteen minutes from the Cozumel Airport and ten minutes from downtown and the ferry pier, so access to nightlife and excursions on the mainland of Mexico are easy to coordinate, as well.  There are 201 rooms, 44 of which are considered “Concierge Level.”  The “Concierge Level” is a feature of some of the Palace resorts, and they offer superior amenities such as L’Occitane® bath products, an aromatherapy diffuser, premium brand liquors, and more.

looking over the pool and beautiful blue waters of the Cozumel Palace in Mexico

If you’ve always pictured a wedding at sunset, this Palace property is perfect.  Sweeping ocean views that capture the sun setting in the west are yours for unforgettable photo opportunities.  There is a beautiful gazebo and roof deck for your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception.  The roof deck is not handicapped-friendly, but the other wedding areas are accessible.  The resort is also family-friendly to allow those little ones to attend your wedding.  Families can also take advantage of the loft-style bedrooms that offer soaring two-story windows, a king-sized bed downstairs, and two queen beds up a flight of stairs within the room.

Sun Palace

Located in the “hotel zone” of Cancun, Sun Palace is a small, pristine, adults-only option for the more budget-conscious traveler that still would like the experience of the brand-quality amenities that Palace Resorts offers its guests.  The hotel is located at the edge of the “hotel zone” and is only 15 minutes from Cancun International Airport.  Every room has an ocean view except for just a handful with lagoon views.  There are four restaurants, three bars, three infinity pools, an indoor pool, and ten spa treatment rooms on-site.  There are also daily activities – including paddle-board yoga! – and nightly entertainment.  The resort can host weddings, as well, with a ceremony on the beach and a terrace for cocktail hour and the reception.  And speaking of the beach, the beach Sun Palace sits on is gorgeous – it has electric blue waters and white “sugar” sand!  So if you are looking for a beautiful beach on a budget, Sun Palace may be a perfect fit.

Beach Palace

Just up the road from Sun Palace rests Beach Palace, a family-friendly, oceanfront property with something for everyone.  One of the most unique features of this property is the 360-degree view from the Sky Terrace.  If you are dreaming of a destination wedding in Cancun, then the Sky Terrace may be for you!  The terrace can fit 500 guests and has unrivalled views of both the Lagoon and Ocean.  Just below this terrace is an upper deck with a pool, bar, hot tub, and open area that can be rented for private events.  As for the resort itself, there are four restaurants and four bars, a two-story “Playroom Kids Club,” kiddie pool, water slide, nine spa treatment rooms, and a convention center for events.  The fitness center is top notch, as well, providing treadmills where you can watch your favorite Netflix shows!  The pool area holds a massive entertainment system for events, outdoor movies, and even video games.  So not only is Beach Palace perfect for a gorgeous destination wedding, but it can entertain kids of all ages!

Isla Mujeres Palace

The smallest of the Palace Resorts, Isla Mujeres Palace is an intimate retreat for couples and friends.  You’ll arrive on the resort’s own “Islander” boat (and avoid the public ferry to the island).  There is a dock where a resort staff member will meet you to help take your luggage to your room – does it get more beachy than that?  The dock also has a covered area for private dinners or wedding photos.  The beach is peaceful with hammocks and chairs at your disposal.  There is an outdoor pool and swim-up bar, multiple non-motorized water sports available for your use, meeting facilities and event spaces, and a restaurant that frequently changes its menu.  The chef even has her own herb garden for the freshest flavored dishes.

If you have a large enough guest list, you could potentially block all 62 rooms of the resort for your destination wedding.  You could have the whole resort for your own private celebration!

Le Blanc

Saving the paramount Palace Resort for last, the luxurious Le Blanc Spa and Resort is in a league of its own.  It is a high-rise, gorgeous property on Cancun’s well-renowned beach.  Even at near full capacity, the layout of the resort still felt spacious.   When you arrive, you will be greeted with refreshments and a heated spa neck-pillow.  Every room has butler and bell staff service – there is even an app you can download where you can request, for instance, your Jacuzzi to be run and waiting for your return from the beach.  Also, every room has upgrades – the liquor dispenser, Smart TV & Apple TV, BVLGARI® bath products, garment steamer, Espresso coffee marker, and a complimentary beach bag.  There are three pools (including two infinity pools and a lagoon-facing pool for the “sun-chasers”), two swim-up bars, an outdoor hot tub, event spaces, live music every night at the BlancLobby Bar and Lounge, five restaurants, and five bars.  The French restaurant requires reservations for its extensive seven-course tasting dinner, something you won’t want to miss.  If you hope to keep up your fitness regime, there is also a wide-ranging class schedule that includes spinning, yoga, Pilates, and TRX.  The superlative spa facilities include nineteen treatment rooms, hydro tubs, steam rooms, and hydrotherapy services.

This resort is adults-only to preserve its serene atmosphere – so if you’re looking for an unforgettable, sophisticated, exclusive wedding day, consider Le Blanc for your destination wedding.

Overall Impression

Palace Resorts delivers.  Whether you are a family hoping for a relaxing retreat, a group of friends ready for adventure, or a couple booking their dream destination wedding or honeymoon, you will be able to find the perfect Palace resort that fits your wish list.  As for me, I just will be hard-pressed to find a better FAM experience!

A special guest blogger’s feedback

I just got back from a very relaxing vacation at the El Dorado Casitas Royale (a resort that’s very popular with my honeymoon clients), and my husband was nice enough to write a “guest blog” post describing the experience from his point of view. Since he’s an all-inclusive “newbie”, and has not been to Mexico in many years, I figured his feedback would be more interesting to most people than mine.

“Your wife is a travel agent? Wow, you must get to go on some pretty cool trips.”

How right you are!

Even travel agents need to get away from it all, and this past week I was able to sneak away with Annie for a trip to El Dorado Casitas Royale, an adults- only resort just south of Cancun. I hadn’t been to Mexico in over 15 years, and had never spent any length of time at an all inclusive resort. Both were a pleasant revelation!

The flight to Cancun via Charlotte was easy as could be, and we were in Mexico in no time. Upon arrival at Cancun airport, one of the many perks of listening to my agent really came in handy. Annie had reserved a private transfer for us from the airport to the hotel. My Spanish is non-existent, and while the Cancun airport is modern and easy to navigate, having a driver to meet you and lead you where you needed to go took away whatever stress there might have been in getting out of the airport and to our resort.

The Casitas is part of the El Dorado Royale, an adults-only resort. While we love our kids and travel with them frequently, sometimes you want to get away from it all. The Casitas was a perfect location to get away and unwind. We were welcomed at the front desk of the El Dorado Royale with champagne, and later transferred via golf cart to the Casitas section of the hotel for our room assignment.


Our room may have been the most “basic” of the categories offered in the Casitas section, but it was one of the most comfortable and well laid out of any that we have visited. It had all the amenities, including a Jacuzzi, a screened in porch with a day bed, a mini bar, an outdoor shower, and a rain shower that made me want to renovate my bathroom at home!

IMG_0793_9328_edited-1 IMG_0787_9322_edited-1

As an “all inclusive newbie” I was concerned that I would be underwhelmed by the food, but I was told by my favorite travel agent that Karisma resorts prides itself on their restaurants, and nothing in my experience led me to think otherwise. We did tend to gravitate towards the restaurants and bars in the Casitas section of the resort. Kampai is done on a Pacific Rim theme which you would think would somewhat limit its menu, but during the course of our stay we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner here, and always found plenty to enjoy. D’Italia is, as the name would suggest, an Italian restaurant, and the meal here was probably my favorite of the trip. We were disappointed that due to a scheduling conflict of my making (more on that below) we were not able to eat at Fuentes ( a culinary theatre), but we met several people who thought it the best of the best. I may have started out high up on the all inclusive food ladder, but I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the food was quite good.

By far the best part of the Casitas experience for me was all of the spaces that you could visit to lay out and sun without feeling the least bit crowded. If you’ve ever been on a cruise ship during peak season and had to get up earlier than you do at home just to save a deck chair, you’ll appreciate the variety of options available throughout the day to find that perfect space to sit and read, sun worship, or enjoy a cocktail or two.  Whether it be the several pools with swim up bars or the daybeds on the beach, we never had trouble finding a prime spot to sit and enjoy the beautiful weather.



I did also learn one of the many things that make my wife’s job difficult. Not knowing better, I would have assumed that all Caribbean resorts on the water have great beaches. Not true! While the physical  plant and grounds of this resort are some of the nicest I’ve seen, I was surprised to see that it would not be the best choice for someone who loved water sports or the feeling of talcum powder sand between their toes. Not being much of a beach goer myself, this was of no consequence to me, and I was happy to spend my limited time at the beach sitting in a day bed reading a book. Annie explained that there are resorts nearby that do offer better beach experiences, and it’s one of the things she asks her clients about when deciding what resort(s) to recommend. Who knew?!


Annie unfortunately not only married a lawyer (who probably asks more questions than he should) but a non sun worshipper who has been known to get antsy even in the most gorgeous of locations with the best of company if he sits still too long. Luckily, not only is my wife a talented travel agent, she’s an accommodating sort who knows I would rather be standing in the hot sun in a remote location fishing than laying at the pool at a gorgeous resort. (If you can’t tell by now, she’s also the smarter of us two!). Given this, she made arrangements for me to spend two days at Pesca Maya lodge near Ascension Bay. For those interested in light tackle fishing, I can’t recommend a trip there highly enough, and if you have an interest, please check out my TripAdvisor review here:

Having married the girl of my dreams many years ago, I was not terribly interested in the destination wedding facilities of the resort, but my wife has a passion for all things relating to her business, and we spent part of a day checking out the multiple venues available at the resort. I was surprised to see the variety of spaces available. From small chapels and courtyards to larger spaces and docks overlooking the water, there really did seem to be a location to fit every couple’s personality.


Lastly, a word about the Mexico I visited versus what I’ve heard and seen in the media. Yes, they speak a different language (although literally everyone I met was bilingual), and there are parts of the country that you would not want to visit. But I can say from experience the same things about many parts of this country. You can get mugged or worse in Orlando, no matter how Disneyfied it becomes, yet I wouldn’t give visiting there are a second thought. It is a source of much frustration to travel professionals that many travelers write Mexico off as a destination solely due to media reports of drug violence and the like. I saw or experienced nothing in our time there that would give me the slightest hesitation about visiting Cancun or the Mayan Riviera.

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)