where are US travelers visiting this Fall?

a flower lei on a beach in Hawaii

Many of my clients have been reaching out lately.  I think so many of us is so tired of this virus and just need an escape somewhere!  You might have seen social media posts of friends or others traveling and exploring new places.  You have seen news articles and media sharing actually how safe it is to travel.  Maybe you’re still on the fence though because you are just not ready to travel yet.  And it is ok.  but if you are curious where everyone is comfortable traveling to, I’ll share that my top 3 requests are : Hawaii, Mexico, and private home rental within driving distance.

This past few weeks has been all about Hawaii for me! Not only am I filling more requests for traveling to Hawaii, I feel I’m also becoming an expert of Covid-testing for Hawaii! As of Oct 15th, Hawaii has been allowing visitors to bypass the 14 days quarantine with a negative covid-test pre-arrival. It has been a slight challenge with many visitors. Changes happen weekly but mostly in the right way and to keep island residents and visitors safe. I think that’s great! And, I’m here to help you with it all!

I attended a 2 day Hawaii Virtual Conference last week with all the islands, hotels, and tour suppliers.
Normally, we would meet in San Jose with some lovely immersive island music and dance experience. But a zoom will have to do this year. I still get to hear all the New Updates for all the islands so that will be helpful in planning your future getaways. I’m excited for what’s in store for you when you feel ready to travel again.

Just to quickly summarize, beginning 11/24/20, in order to not have to quarantine in a hotel room for 14days upon arrival to the islands, all travelers MUST take a Covid test within 72hrs of their flight departure, and MUST have a negative Covid-test result BEFORE they board their flight.  They cannot wait for results while they quarantine anymore.  Everyone will have to quarantine 14 days or the duration of your intended stay if you do not have a proof of  negative Covid-test before you take off.    You must also be tested by a specific list of test partners that is approved by the State of Hawaii, or again, your results will not be validated.

There are a couple more requirements that I can share with you when you’re ready to plan.

Hawaii has been welcoming visitors from US and Japan, and will be welcoming Canadian visitors mid Dec with a similar testing Safe Travels protocol.

I’ve also created a simple guide.  Click on the image and check it out.  It has a quick overview of all the islands, and different ways to see and experience the islands,  plus, a few pages dedicated to traveling to Hawaii during the pandemic.   I hope you find this resource helpful.  And that you can use it to plan your next Hawaii family vacation!

woman performing a hula dance
Let me also share this lovely video of Hawaii with you. It’s a beautiful story of the legacy of Hula dance. Or you might enjoy this article: Building a Hula Legacy. Enjoy! Keep dreaming of your next family vacation in the beautiful islands.

Great ways to see our US National Parks for your next family vacation

Family hiking in Yellowstone National Park

I know many of us enjoy traveling overseas to foreign countries and experience different cultures and local customs.  We get excited visiting iconic sites and creating lifetime memories. But we often forget to take advantage of visiting our own national parks in the US.  Without a passport or long haul flight, it is easy to do and can provide a great family vacation.   Let me show you how to elevate your experience though.  Forget packing your family into the car and do a road trip.  Drop the DIY vacation.  Instead, use a tour operator.  Join a guided tour.  Preferably one that is small group of no more than 12 guests, or better yet, one just for your family, or maybe your own multi-generational family group.  Or another family or friends you enjoy traveling with.  Form your own exclusive tour.

Let me share a few benefits of joining a small group or private guided tour:

1. They can do it better.
You can do all the driving, plan out the lodging, figure out where to eat or what to see or where to hike. But imagine having someone do it all FOR YOU.  And not just anyone, but someone who has experience leading tours every day and know the ins and outs. They're the experts of the destination you're visiting. They can take care of all the details so you can truly      have a vacation.  Doesn’t that feel good???

family hiking in Yellowstone National Park
family hiking in Yellowstone National Park, pc: Austin Adventures

2. The Guides
Guides from great tour companies are passionate about sharing their knowledge and ensuring you have a trip of a lifetime.  They keep the trip fun. They can share about the history of the parks and knowledge of the wildlife and plants you came across. And they can also tell you the best restaurants in town.  More importantly, they show you the best way to see the parks and sites given the limited vacation time you have.  They know the best hikes and bike rides, the best spot for your pictures for the Instagram post, the hidden gems.

3. Connections
In these times of traveling during a pandemic, you want to travel with guidance.  A tour operator who has the behind the scenes access to information or partnerships with a hotel or a sought after activity provider.  Or even insider connections with National Park Service.  Let someone take care of the details so you can enjoy the moment and be present. Someone who takes care of the safety protocols and provide a stress free experience.

Maybe this is something you can consider for next summer vacation. It’s great for our mental and physical health to spend time outdoors.  Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Bryce/Zion, what’s your pick?  I have partnerships with some great tour operators. I work with the best and I know you can trust.   Some of these small group scheduled tours are very popular and already beginning to get booked up for 2021.  I can design custom itineraries. RV guided tours.  Or I can set up a luxury home stay with guided activities for you based on your wish and interests.  I know you miss traveling.  I hope I can send you on another adventure soon.  Reach out if you want to get started with planning.

Private Home and Villa Rentals for your next Family Vacation

Mexico Villa Rental

a family gathering over the holidays

I know many of us are really getting tired of the same view at home, plus, we long to spend time with our extended families.  Grandparents want to see their grand-kids.  Cousins want to hang out. Siblings want to wine and dine and catch up in person vs. over Zoom or Facetime.  What if you can do that?
Plus, how are we going to handle the Turkey and all the holiday trimmings for our festive holiday meals?
Perhaps you can consider having a small get together of maybe 12 or less family members over the holidays at a large home rental that can fit everyone.  I recommend prior to the gathering, everyone try to be extra careful with hygiene and social distancing for 2 weeks.  You can even get Covid tested first before the gathering to give yourself more peace of mind.

I don’t arrange Air B&B or VRBO rentals for my clients.  It’s mostly because there is just no way I can guarantee the quality and service of each rental.  If something has to go through me, they have to be vetted and secured and that I know you will have access to a great customer service team should any unexpected issues arise.  I’ve been partnering with multiple villa rentals service providers over the years.  I have a large inventory and access to many home rentals throughout the world.  Most only work through travel advisors and not direct with consumers.  These companies have strict policies that they make each homeowners abide by, before they let them join the rental program.  Even before Covid, the cleaning standards are high, and now each has agreed to even more to keep guests safe.

10 Reasons to consider a private home & villa stay:

  1. It’s just you and your family, not thousands of strangers.
  2. Large portfolio of vetted, inspected, guaranteed and managed properties to choose from.
    ( 2 bedrooms to 12 bedrooms; amenities like private pools, gym, arcade, home theatre)
  3. Many villas feature impeccable landscaping and views, outdoor spaces, interior design and furnishings, and more.
  4. Each home is cleaned and staffed by professionals and maintenance team.
  5. Some homes come with Your Own Villa Concierge who is committed to providing around-the-clock personalized services.
  6. Explore the local attractions, national parks, best beaches, and more. We can arrange everything you need to craft a truly unique experience designed around your wants and wishes.
  7. Arrange your own cooking classes, pizza party, wine tasting, private chefs, even yoga classes in your villa!
  8. We can stock the villas with groceries pre-arrival, and provide on site staff like chefs, nanny, head housekeeper, driver and gardeners.
  9. Security: many villas are in gated communities and also some has night watchman
  10. A unique way to celebrate with your family and make memories that last.

 

Ideas for your next villa.

United States:

There’s no need to travel far for the getaway of your dreams! We have coastal and mountain homes with amazing views and hiking trails throughout California, fun themed homes in Florida, and mountain retreats in Colorado and Utah for your next ski trip.  And of course, now that Hawaii is lifting quarantine with a negative Covid-test starting Oct 15, it’s always a good idea too!   I can find the perfect villa for you. A one-of-a-kind getaway may only be a short flight (or drive) away.

Mexico:

The easiest international destination to travel to currently.  No testing required. And only a short flight from US airports, with consistent reliable flight schedules.  You can land and be transported straight to your villa for your week long stay.  We can arrange private services for your snorkeling trip or sunset cruises so you can enjoy the view and warm water that is Mexico.  Just make sure your passport is not expired!

Caribbean:

Turks & Caicos, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua are already open to visitors for a few months now. More islands are considering reopening their borders to international travelers soon.  Whether you’re looking for a 1-bedroom couple’s retreat or a sprawling seaside estate for the whole family, I will help deliver that to you.

Villa in Mexico facing the ocean
pc: Villas of Distinction
kitchen and dining room in a rental villa in Colorado
pc: Villas of Distinction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More affordable than you think.

Villas can accommodate larger groups so you can have more share the cost.  The cost per person is often less than a hotel room or a resort stay. You get far more space. Food & Beverage expenses are significantly lower.  You can have a more personalized experience with more privacy.

I have suppliers offering attractive promotion.  Some are offering up to $2000 destination credits for you to use during your stay.  Some villas even offer 1 or 2 free nights stay.

Peace of mind booking policies:
Most villas now have a more flexible payment terms policy. Most have late final payments due date and a more relaxed cancellation policy. Plus, I can always recommend travel insurance policy to protect your vacation investment.

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Do you feel ready?  Or still have concerns or lingering questions? Please reach out to me to get started before all the inventory is gone.  If you want to explore some more before contacting me, here is a link for your to preview some homes.

Remember, it is always my wish to help you plan an effortless vacation and one that you can cherish the memories forever. Renting a villa is simple and I’m here to help guide you along the way. Start Planning!

 

Mexico, Caribbean, Tahiti and Hawaii opened for travel during pandemic

image with title of Global Safe Travel Protocols , hashtag Safe Travels

The pandemic has impacted our travel industry like little else in our lifetime yet travel always comes back. It’s not purely a luxury ‘item’ anymore – it’s a way of life to stay connected to family, friends and our sanity.  There is something extraordinary about travel. Exploring new places and sharing new experiences together help brings us closer.  Though most cruise lines have decided to pause sailings until at least Sep 15, a lot of destinations have opened up to tourism again.  Let me share here what it’s like for some of these destinations. You know the beach is calling you!

Hawaii Waikiki Beach

Mexico.  Although you may hear Mexico still has a large number of virus cases, their beach towns have kept things under control and has been welcoming travelers since June 1. They have achieved seal of approval from the World Travel and Tourism Council as a safe destination by following straight global protocol guidelinesGlobal Safe Travel Protocols

This is a great option with a short direct flight from most US cities. No Covid testing is required to go. Just a health form.  Of course, anyone not feeling well should stay home. There will be health screenings and temperature scans at airports. Regular precautions like face masks and frequent hand washing will be the new normal.  I’ve attended many trainings of different resorts and with the tourism board of Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta area and I feel most confident of this destination.  Hotels & resorts have elevated their cleaning measures to meet our even higher expectations now.  They are also required to have only 30% occupancy now. Dining and pool areas will be less dense.  Buffet serving formats will be changed if it’s available. Occupancy will slowly increase as things improve.  There are many amazing resorts here. You can have hotel rooms to suites to villa style stay. Lots of space to spread out.  In the Fall, there is also the turtle nesting season if you want to observe it.

Caribbean.  Many islands are also beginning to open up. Some islands require a negative Covid-19 test or quarantine. Some also require travel insurance and a travel declaration form submitted prior to arrival. Lots of variations here, so best to consult your friendly travel advisor.

Tahiti.  Opening July 15. Again, a negative Covid-19 test within 3 days of arrival is required. Officials can conduct random tests a few days after arrival. Some resorts are not opening right away.  Since there are already limited number of hotels here and not every hotel is open, expect limited availability. Flight schedules are also limited. The nonstop flights from SFO is now gone.  But still have nonstop from LAX.

Hawaii.  Hawaii was never closed, but it was requiring a 14day quarantine upon arrival. Beginning Aug 1, that requirement has lifted.   Travelers will need a negative Covid-19 test within 3 days of arrival. Once you get there, it’s paradise!  I also have lots of lodging options that can align with your comfort level.

So, what does all these mean? What if someone reserves a trip and then as it gets closer to vacation, got tested positive for Covid-19? Well, just like all other times, you should have travel insurance.  A few travel suppliers I work with have now implemented flexible cancellation policy as well as good insurance coverage options.  I will not let you leave home without one as I will always watch out for your safety and travel investment.

COVID-19 virus testing differs by location. Many testing locations require an appointment and a doctor’s order while some Urgent Care locations permit walk-in or drive-thru testing. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has partnered with several pharmacy and retail locations to accelerate testing in more communities across the country. HHS provides links for testing locations.

If you’re feeling ready, flights and hotels are ready to give you that nice vacation you know you so want to have.  Please reach out to me to discuss your options and get further clarity on different entry requirements or how to travel safely. Start Planning!

Family Travel ideas for June or when you feel safe

view of pool at Club Med Florida all-inclusive resort

I know in the last few months, a lot of hotels and resorts have been using the time wisely to renovate, update their properties, and to train their staff in new cleaning protocols.   They’ve implemented changes from registration to dining to housekeeping.  All are eager to welcome back travelers.  As of 5/24/2020, I know Hawaii is still not ready for visitors and asking us to wait until at least July.  Mexico and Canada travel restrictions also in place until June 22 and may extend.  Caribbean islands are moving targets also.  Some like St. Lucia, Grenada, Turks & Caicos are the most active islands trying to reopen borders. However, some hotels still need to sort out the guidelines for reopening.  The wait continues.

A lot of US options though are available.  Want to share a few ideas for you, if you wish to travel cross country to new places or to cure your “just get me out of here!!!” syndrome.

Club Med, Sandpiper, Florida—this is THE ONLY ALL-INCLUSIVE resort in the USA.  They plan to reopen with reduced capacity on June 12. The property is known for the recreational facilities and amenities. You’ll love all the sports they offer—tennis academy, golf, pickleball, and watersports of all kinds. This is in a secluded spot and you will have their “beach” all to yourself. This Club Med is not on a beach, like most of their other resorts, but it is on a river and there is a beach area.  Here are a few pictures from my last visit in Nov of 2018.  Give me a call if you want to learn more this hidden gem.

Florida Keys are also reopening some resorts.  I miss the key lime popsicle and all the delicious lobster rolls found here.  You’ll have to fly to Miami to pick up a car and drive as service to Key West airport will be limited.  Breaking up the stay in Key Largo and Key West will give you a mix of tranquil escape and modern culture.  Ask me about another adults (15+) only hidden gem that gives you a feeling of a true island getaway. It’s only accessible by boat or seaplane. 4 acres of beach and luxuriously appointed beachfront bungalows that exudes a sense of tranquility.  You may feel like you’re in this idyllic island in the South Pacific.  Here’s a shot. Do you agree?

View of a terrace of a suite at Little Palm Bungalows Resort, Florida
Little Palm Bungalows Resort, Florida

Another area that offers great combo of beach and city will be South Carolina.  Spend a few days in Charleston, where you can learn much about the Revolutionary War and also enjoy a city with great food scene and golf. Then, tag on a few beach days at Myrtle Beach, or Hilton Head Island.  Some resorts have a real private beach just for their guests. I enjoyed my stay at the Westin on my last visit. There are a few other resorts I can recommend too.

I know some National Parks maybe reopening and is very popular. So, they may not get you away from the crowds.  Also, check if each city has restrictions for out of state residents and also if businesses like shops, restaurants and bars have resumed opening before you go.

Hope this inspires you and give you some ideas for when you feel like traveling again.  And of course, know that I’m always here to serve you and make it easy for you by not just figuring out the logistics, but giving you some local tips and recommendations for must see and do! Start Planning!

How travel will change because of the Covid-19 pandemic

Items needed for Travel during pandemic: mask, sanitizer, passport

So, the past few weeks, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from hotels, airlines, and cruise lines about their plans in cleaning and what they’re doing to reassure travelers so they can feel safe to travel again.

TSA security check points will enforce social distancing so we should allow more time for this clearance and arrive airport earlier for check in.  TSA is also allowing up to 12 oz of hand sanitizer in your carry on bags.  All other liquids, gels and aerosols should still be under 3.4oz or be in your checked baggage.

Airlines said they will be stepping up cleaning protocols with deeper and more thorough cleaning in between flights.  Some will temporarily block off the middle seat to give travelers more space.
Most airlines will require crew and passengers to wear a masks.  Delta Airline said they will now board passengers seated from the back to front. I always think that is a great idea and I hope it stays.  It’s just more efficient!

Marriott cleaning room with electrostatic sprayer

Hotels will have a “New Normal” too.  Marriott CEO said they will use new technologies like electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant to sanitize surfaces in guest rooms, lobbies, gyms and other public areas. The company is also testing ultraviolet light technology for sanitizing keys for guests.  Food service outlets continue to find new ways to implement safety measures.  We will likely not see a buffet for some time. They may also impose reduced capacity at restaurants and lounges to give guests more space.

Parks such as Disney and Universal Studios plan to reopen at 50% capacity.  There will be more sanitizers available for guests to use.  This might be true with many other attractions and museums.

Sometimes, change is good too. We always want a cleaner cabin, cleaner room, less crowds.