Krafty Travel. Find your happy place.

Sarah Krafty, owner of Krafty Travel is a travel agent located in Perrysburg, Ohio


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Well here it is the middle of August! Summer has flown by. Our two youngest children are back to school and this Saturday we take our oldest up to Central Michigan University. Our first fledgling to leave the nest!

The big news around the water cooler is that Krafty Travel has grown from just me to a “we.” I am pleased to introduce to you Tami Degner. Tami has joined the Krafty Travel team in an office managerial role. She will work remotely covering back office duties so that I can focus on taking care of you, our client.

Tami and I met in fourth grade when we were studying state capitols. We’ve been best friends ever since and now we can expand our geography studies to cover world travel. Tami lives in southern Michigan with her husband David of 27 years. They have two grown children, Hillary and Nathan. Tami absolutely loves searching for beach glass! She also enjoys reading, walking and exercise. Tami and David enjoy traveling and one of their favorite places is Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau, Bahamas. They are looking forward to an upcoming trip in October, once updates are done! You can contact Tami at 419-386-0425 or tami@kraftytravel.com. Reach out and say hello!

In early July, I traveled to New York City to experience the services of a preferred NYC supplier. It was big fun and a great opportunity to learn first hand what you can expect when using this supplier.

After New York City we hosted a river cruise info night with AMAWaterways. AMA is a favorite for many reasons. If River cruising in Europe or Asia is on your bucket list, let’s chat. Also, look for more travel info nights in the future. And with any luck, wine!

July ended with a fun weekend in Las Vegas at the Bellagio to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday. Vegas is a great getaway for a long weekend and perfect for groups. What celebrations do you have coming that need a Vegas getaway?

Thanks for keeping in touch. I can’t wait to send you somewhere real soon!
Sarah Krafty , Krafty Travel www.kraftytravel.com www.facebook.com/KraftyTravel www.twitter.com/sarahkrafty

You can get started with a travel assessment at form.jotform.us/form/41616930036147


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Wine Tours

A tour of any of the great wine country regions of the world is an opportunity to explore culture, history, cuisine and wine in a single trip. Without exception, the scenery is beautiful, the people passionate, and the wine — nothing short of phenomenal.

What is a wine tour? It’s a tour through a region that has developed a substantial vineyard and winery presence. Usually, a wine tour consists of visiting the wineries and tasting rooms to sample their current wines, often paired with food. Sometimes, a tour of the winery itself is included, and visitors can see where the wine is grown, processed, barreled, aged and eventually bottled.

Most people would first think of areas like the Napa Valley region of California or the Burgundy region of France as ideal locations for wine tours, and that’s with good reason, as those are outstanding locations. However, there are vineyards the world-over. For the majority of United States travelers, wine regions are within a few hours driving distance of their homes or an easy weekend fly-drive retreat, provding plenty of options. And if you are looking for a truly great epicurean vacation, you’ll pleasantly discover that the experience ends up being about much more than the wine.

A number of tour operators specialize in regional wine country tours. Chances are, your travel consultant has access to excellently priced tours of wine regions throughout the world, offering a variety of accommodations from luxurious villas to budget hotels. In many wine regions, wineries have formed “wine trails” to make it easy for visitors to find the participating wineries and to sample the wines. Often, tour operators can provide discounted passes to each of the tasting rooms at the different wineries. Along with a good travel consultant, you are sure to create experiences that would be hard to find on your own. On the best tours, you’ll discover small, unknown producers, meet top winemakers and in some cases, even receive an invitation into a home of a vigneron. Top tour operators can give you the opportunity to enjoy meals and tastings as guests of the estates – just one example of the kind of event often not available if you travel on your own, even if you visit the same cellars. However, many tour operators can even arrange independent, self-drive opportunities with the same privileges as their group tours.

Top Regions to Tour

If you want to tour some of the finest wineries and taste some of the world’s finest wines, certain regions are considered the regions to tour. They consistently produce excellent wines year after year, and some have been doing so for literally thousands of years.

Tuscan, Italy – Italy’s most famous wine region has over 157,000 acres of vineyards throughout its picturesque countryside. The Italians have been making wine for thousands of years, and Italy boasts the largest output of wine in the world. Its climate and soil are ideal for growing grapes, and nowhere is the setting more ideal than Tuscany. The region is most famous for producing Chianti, a wine that pairs naturally with most Italian foods.

Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone France – France has many wine growing regions, and each is worth a visit. The Burgundy region is especially popular because it is legendary for producing both excellent red and white wines. The rich history of wine making dates back to when the Romans first invaded the area. Visitors can tour old and new wineries that produce several well-known wines like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Beaujolais.

Australia – In the past few decades, Australia has emerged as one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world. Although many wineries have been around for over a hundred years, the public has only recently taken a serious interest in this region. More than 70 wineries in the New South Wales region are located just a few hours drive from Sydney. Wineries here are best known for producing excellent Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc.

USA – In the United States, the most popular region is certainly California’s Napa Valley, which is also one of the world’s newer wine regions. Its wine making history dates back less than 200 years, but those years have seen the birth of more than 260 wineries famous for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Not to be outdone, however, Oregon, Washington State and New York all boast thriving wine industries and vineyards. Smaller regions include the Texas Hill Country, as well as areas in Connecticut, Michigan and Pennsylvania.  In my state of Ohio there are over 90 wineries, many in the Lake Erie region.

Germany – German wines have historically been mostly white, made from Riesling grapes more suited to the northern climate. German wines are produced around the Rhine and its tributaries, and the vineyards are sheltered by mountains so steep that while they catch the most sunlight, they are difficult to harvest mechanically.  Germany’s 13 regions include Ahr, Baden, Franken, Hessische Bergstrasse, Mittelrhein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Saale-Unstrut, Sächsische Weinstrasse and Württemberg.

South Africa –  Cape Town is the trailhead of the South African vineyards. The local wine industry has become a global force, producing approximately 3% of the world’s wine production, ranking as 9th largest producer in the world. New wineries are opening at a fast clip. Pinot Noir and Reisling varietals are predominant.

But this list is far from comprehensive.  Chile, Spain, Portugal and dozens of other countries have robust wine economies where local vineyards have adapted varietals to changing climates and soil conditions.

Considerations

Tell your travel consultant if you would prefer to travel independently or with a fully-guided tour group. In an independent setting, your agent will create an itinerary of wineries to tour, as well as any special events to attend, transportation, and lodging. You will then be on your own to follow the itinerary, which offers a great deal of flexibility.

A fully-guided tour provides you and other travelers with a knowledge-packed tour of the wine region. You will not have to worry about transportation, and the itinerary will include fixed times to visit wineries and other attractions as well as some free time to enjoy the wineries on your own. A fully-guided tour is an excellent choice for those who are going to regions so large that the options can be overwhelming, or for those who would rather leave transportation and other logistics to someone else. In addition, most tour companies provide a multilingual tour guide able to speak both English and the language of the region.

Remember, too, that you can travel a little more creatively. Hike or bike your way through wine country, and have an experience you could never get from a car or bus!

Prepare for your journey by reading about the region and its wines. Your travel consultant will obtain any materials from your tour operator to assist your studies, including maps, itineraries or brochures. If you’re going to a region where you don’t speak the language, learn a few choice phrases in the language before you go as a courtesy to your hosts.

If you are planning to purchase a lot of wine while you are on your trip and want to ship it back home, research your home’s laws concerning importing alcohol from outside the country. Your wine could sit in customs for days or weeks before delivery, and in the heat of summer, wines could go bad while they are waiting to be delivered.

Many of the great wine regions offer seasonal festivals when it is time to bring out the new wines. Bigger wineries will hold their own festivals, while smaller wineries will often team with others in the region and have a festival where guests can taste the new offerings from all of the wineries in the same location. Travelers who time their wine tours right have a chance to experience a true cultural celebration. Many wine regions also offer activities such as spas, cooking classes, museums, arts and crafts festivals, music festivals and other events – just ask your agent what’s available.

Most wine regions also offer restaurants that showcase both local cuisine and wineries. Also note the growing trend for restaurants that allow you to bring a bottle of your own – visit wineries during the day and choose a favorite bottle or two to enjoy with your meal in the evening.

It’s impossible to come away from a wine tour without also getting a lesson in local culture. Most winery owners are not only passionate about their wine; they are also passionate about the land and region that supports their lifestyle. It is not unusual to hear about an immigrant family that bought a piece of property years ago and was told by their neighbors that they could never operate a successful winery on the land – and who eventually proved them wrong.

Those who choose a wine tour come away with much more than just a few new bottles of wine. They leave having experienced a deeper cultural appreciation of wine and those who make it.

What are you waiting for? Contact Krafty Travel and get started.

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Going to Graceland

Last spring we took a short trip to Memphis, TN.  We decided on Memphis because it is a drivable destination from northwest Ohio, getting us a little bit closer to warmth.  My husband, Mike is a big rock and roll fan, so Memphis made more sense to us than Nashville.  Plus, by staying in the states I could still be available to my spring travelers.

Once we made the decision to go, Elvis was all we could think about.  Mike went to the library and picked up a few books on Elvis.  He read them, and told me the highlights.  We watched Elvis YouTube videos,  Elvis’s 68 Special, a few Elvis movies, and bought an Elvis “best of” CD.  I hummed Paul Simon’s “I’m Going to Graceland”  nonstop.  It was kind of strange how much we were consumed.  Especially since we had barely even talked about Elvis prior to planning the trip.

It brought memories of childhood back to us.  I was 8 years old when Elvis died.  We were living in North Carolina at the time.  I remember sitting on my bed thinking about him and what it meant that he was gone.   I haven’t thought much about him at all in the years since.  Maybe 8 is too young to care about celebrities.  I was busy dealing with multiplication tables.

Even with all that hype before our trip, I thought I would think the whole Graceland thing was hokey once we were there.  We loved it.  We loved all of Memphis.  It seemed to be an aging city struggling to revitalize but there is a ton of history here, rock and roll and otherwise.  More than we expected.

Beale Street is an absolute must.  We loved the vibe, the constant music and walking the street with our Big A$$ Beers.  We went to Beale Street every day while in Memphis.  BB King’s restaurant was ok.  The food was great, the cover charge was high and service was, “eh.”  We enjoyed Flynn’s on Beale more.  We felt really welcome there and enjoyed listening to the music of Chris Gales, a super nice guy.

We toured Sun Studios, another must.  It’s a really strange feeling to stand in the same exact spot that Elvis and many other greats have recorded.  The actual studio has been kept largely unchanged.

We watched the march of the Peabody ducks which happens twice a day, every day at the Peabody Hotel.  Why they do it is sort of a ‘just because’.  Lots of people turn out for it.  It’s more waiting than actually seeing.  It’s strange.  I’m not sure I would say don’t do it, but I’m also not sure it’s worth the hype.  It is sort of “if you’re in Memphis, you HAVE to see the Peabody ducks.”  Well. Okay…

We visited the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  This was really eerie to see.  There is a wonderful memorial and museum there now.  We happened to visit on a Tuesday which is the day the museum is closed however there are many stations outside the museum with interactive information.

We toured the Gibson guitar factory.  This was pretty cool.  My husband is a bass guitar player.  I’m lucky we made it out of there without a new guitar.  I almost bought a ukulele though.  I’m still sorry I didn’t.

We took a river boat ride on the Mississippi.  When we talked about doing this, I had visions of a tour down the swampy bayou.  That was not the case.  You go 30 minutes against the strong current and then an hour and 30 minutes trying not to get swept away with the current going back.  We never left sight of the Memphis skyline. The guide was a great story teller.  It is 2 hours of history and funny stories in between 2 bridges of the Memphis waterfront.

Best of everything was Graceland.  It really was.  It’s a well oiled machine of tourism, and worth it.  We had to wait quite a while for our tour of Elvis’ home to begin but there are shops to see, food to eat and videos to watch and time seemed to pass quickly.  You do not have to get into the cue line until your tour number is called.  Once you do, boarding the shuttles that drive you across the street moves swiftly.  You are equipped with an iPad and headset.  John Stamos is the narrator.  The iPad magically knows which room of the home you are in and plays just the right music at just the right time.  You see home videos, interactive photos, hear Pricilla and Lisa Marie tell stories and listen to lots of Elvis. It is quite something to be standing in the rooms or see all of the jumpsuits and then hear his voice.

I can’t tell you how many times we listened to Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” or Paul Simon’s “Graceland” while we were in Memphis.  I think it was probably in the hundreds.  It added another layer to our fun, and hearing the songs still makes us smile.  I haven’t gotten off the Elvis high either.  It’s strange to me the impact of that silly 4 day vacation.   Elvis lives.

I’d love to chat more, look me up!

Beale Street Big A$$ Beer, Memphis Sun Studio, Elvis, Memphis Peabody Ducks, Memphis Beale Street, Memphis Elvis' Graceland, Memphis


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Canadian Travel Entry Tips

Happy Canada Day to our neighbors of the north!  Since today is Canada Day I thought it would be a good idea to share a few travel tips for entry when you visit Canada as a tourist.  It is not as simple as just showing up at the border and crossing over.

All US Citizens must have a passport book when traveling by air to Canada.  For land crossings, passport cards are acceptable.

It is important to note there are requirements for visiting Canada.  As listed on the Government of Canada website http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/apply-who.asp

To visit Canada, you must:

  • have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
  • be in good health,
  • convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country,
  • convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit, and
  • have enough money for your stay. (The amount of money you will need can vary. it depends on things like how long you will stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel or with friends or relatives.)

You may also need a:

  • temporary resident (visitor) visa, depending on your citizenship
  • and
  • letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada.

There are reasons of inadmissibility, in which you may be denied entry into Canada.  The main one that surprises some travelers is that you may be denied entry if you have DUI on your driving record.  I have heard from other agents the stories of clients on Alaskan cruises, where they departed the US at Seattle or ports in Alaska and once they arrived in a Canadian port they were detained, denied entry, or required to immediately deport home because of a DUI on their driving record.

This is not something to risk.  If you are planning a trip to Canada it is important to seek assistance with the Canadian Consulate to determine your eligibility well BEFORE you depart for your trip.

Visiting Canada is well worth the effort. Grab a double double and check out these options in Vancouver and Whistler area.  Have a safe trip and enjoy all there is to offer!

Sarah Krafty

Agent and owner of Krafty Travel, Perrysburg, Ohio.

 


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European Rail

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Earlier this month I had a wonderful couple traveling through Europe for 14 days.  Their trip was an adventurous one combining both independent and group activities.  They spent time in London, Brussels, Paris, Aix en Provence, Nice, Madrid and Bilbao.  They traveled between cities by plane, rental car and mostly by rail.

Rail Travel in Europe is one of the most interesting ways of criss-crossing the continent. For many years, travelers have enjoyed the convenience of boarding the train and relaxing as the small villages, large cities, countryside, rivers, houses and castles rushed by in a blurred panorama besting any travelogue. Getting a good grip on the complexities of the European rail system, the Eurail Pass system and the options available will help to ensure that your experience with the trains of Europe is the best possible value it can be.

Rail travel is a wonderful way to see Europe. The club and dining cars are highly social and a good way to meet other travelers. The traveler can take in the scenery without worrying about the stress of driving, directions and negotiating the round-abouts! Train travel allows you to move between cities easily with a minimal of concern for logistics. The train stations are often centrally located, adding to the convenience of traveling from city to city. If you are using one of the Eurail passes, you can get on and off of the train as you wish, making for great flexibility and the ability to explore spontaneously. You can watch the scenery go by, read a book or sleep…a great luxury at any price!

The Trains

Depending on the size of the rail station there will be vending machines, small cafes or many restaurant choices. Long distance trains typically have a dining or café car, but the regional ones may have only a cart that moves through the train offering sodas, candy and perhaps sandwiches. Many experienced travelers stock up in advance with snacks and light meals to eat on board.

Each train will have several cars, each of which will, in turn, be numbered. You may board the train at any point along the station embarkation platform and make your way through the train to your assigned car, if you have a reservation. Alternatively, you can walk along the outside of the train to your car, a preferable option to save time, especially if you have luggage. There will be a spot in your car to place luggage above your seat for smaller pieces and at either end of the car for larger ones. If you do not have a reservation, you can take any seat not already reserved and marked as such by a small slip of paper at the top of the seatback or otherwise indicated. While there are no luggage weight restrictions on most trains (there are notable exceptions such as the Eurostar) it can be difficult to maneuver through a train and around the departure platforms with a great deal of baggage.

There are two classes of travel on most trains, First Class and Second. First class will have three seats in a row while second class will have four seats together. First class tends to be more comfortable and less crowded, often less noisy. Second class is less expensive with a younger crowd having a great time! First class passengers may ride in second class, but if you purchase second class tickets, that is where you will ride unless you upgrade.

Tickets, Passes and Reservations

With a ticket or a railpass, a reservation is not necessary but is recommended in order to make sure that you obtain a seat. In other words, a ticket or railpass lets you ride on the train but does not guarantee a seat. You can make reservations at your train station on the day of travel.

There are a wide variety of tickets and passes, and it is not always easy to quickly determine the best combination of purchases to allow for the least cost and greatest flexibility. Purchasing your rail pass through a travel agent ensures that you will obtain the best possible value and the pass that best fits your needs. If you intend to travel over an extended period of time throughout a single country or through multiple countries, the best bet is typically a rail pass combined with one or more point to point tickets.

A Eurail Pass is a discounted ticket that permits multi-day, multi-country travel by rail. There are a number of different passes available with varying options on the number of permissible countries, the number of days of travel, and the length of time the pass is valid. In many instances, purchasing one of the varieties of Eurail Pass is a less expensive option that purchasing separate point to point tickets. Note that lost or stolen rail passes are non-refundable, but you can purchase insurance to cover loss or theft.

Railpasses must be purchased in the United States or Canada and are not available in Europe. Your travel consultant can assist you with the purchase and with selecting the right one for your planned itinerary. Local passes and some point to point tickets, conversely, are available only in Europe. A traveler can purchase a Eurail pass from six months in advance to right before travel, allowing time for delivery. Once purchased, a traveler has up to six months to validate the ticket for the first leg of travel. The rail passes sold in the United States are not valid for residents of Europe.

The standard Eurail Pass offers consecutive day travel in the first class compartments in 17 European countries. A traveler may purchase passes for 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months or 3 months. Before you board your first train, the Eurail Pass is validated at a booth in the train station. At that point, your time period begins to run. A rail-day runs from midnight to midnight. However, if you board an overnight train that departs after 7:00 pm local, then you will be using only a single day on your pass. If, however, you leave prior to 7:00 pm local or if your itinerary requires a train change before midnight, then a total of 2 travel days will accrue to your ticket.

Certain high speed trains will require a surcharge. Reservations must be made in advance, though your seat is “pre-paid” by virtue of having the Eurail Pass. The Eurailpass Saver offers an additional discount for two or more people traveling together. The countries included on the Eurailpass and the Eurailpass Saver is: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Note that Britain is not included on the Eurailpass.

The Eurailpass Flexi allows the traveler to break up travel in the same 17 country list into non-consecutive days, offering either 10 or 15 days of unlimited travel in a 2 month period. Like the standard Eurailpass, there is a Eurailpass Flexi Saver that offers additional discounts for two or more persons traveling together.

The Eurail Selectpass lets the traveler pick from among the list of countries to limit the number visited, choosing from 3-5 bordering countries along with the number of days traveling.

The passes are not valid for the Eurostar.

A wide range of regional and country passes are available which permit the traveler great flexibility in their itinerary. There are sixteen regional passes running through Austria, Switzerland, France, the Benelux countries, Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Denmark, Hungar,y Portugal and Romania.

There is also the Scanrail Pass covering four Scandinavian countries for varying number of travel days in a given period of time.

It is, of course possible to simply purchase tickets at the station on the date of travel. If you choose to purchase your tickets in Europe, go to the information desk at the rail station having already planned your trip from maps and the train schedules printed and posted at each station. Hotel concierges will sometimes assist you in putting together a point to point itinerary from the schedules they have in hand. Once at the train station, go to the information desk with your itinerary in hand, especially if you do not speak the native language. Indicate to the window attendant your destination, the time or train number, the class of travel you prefer and whether you want a one-way or a “return” (round trip).

Note that there are often much less expensive options available to the traveler if slower trains are used, or if the traveler inquires about student or senior discounts.

For overnight train rides, the traveler has a number of options. Overnight trains and hotel trains typically come equipped with sleeper compartments, couchettes and sleeperettes. Sleeper compartments are small, compact rooms with washbasins, soap, towels and electrical outlets. Typically two berths for sleeping are available with pillows and sheets. Stewards assist with your accommodations and with border crossings. Travelers can book a single, double or a triple compartment. Couchettes are compartments with between 4 and 6 berths with pillows, sheets and blankets. There are no accommodations for privacy, so travelers sleep in their street clothing. Sleeperettes are seats in the regular coach cars that recline.

Hotel trains have compartment rooms with tourist, first class and luxury class accommodations. Tourist class compartments include 4 beds and a common restroom facility outside the compartment. First class accommodations include one to two beds with an outside shared restroom facility. Luxury class includes a private toilet and shower inside the room.

Consider the rail for your next visit through Europe. Contact Krafty Travel then sit back and relax.

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A Quick Hop to Jamaica

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Our Crystal Lagoon Honeymoon Beachfront Penthouse 1 Bedroom butler Suite at Sandals Negril

In January 2015, I was invited to tour the recently opened Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Rose Hall properties.  The resorts had been under construction and were expected to be complete by December 2014.  There were some construction delays and by the time of my early January visit, things were not quite done.  We were offered vouchers to return once things had been completed.

I returned just a few weeks ago.  I took the opportunity to bring my husband along so we could enjoy some R&R.  Since our stay at the Hyatt Zilara was for only 3 nights, we started our visit with 2 nights at Sandals Negril.

Negril is a great destination.  The beach is long and walkable, the water is amazingly calm and the vibe is laid back and relaxed.  Just the way I like it.

Sandals Negril does not disappoint.  It is an intimate sized property, not a lot of walking from your room to the beach.  In fact, I don’t think you could get much closer.  The Beach Bistro and Bar is steps off the beach and my favorite Barefoot by the Sea is literally on the beach so you can dine with your toes in the sand.    The resort caters to couples and romance and is perfect for a honeymoon, destination wedding or special anniversary.

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Mike and I with Jerry, our butler

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Taking advantage of unlimited watersports at Sandals Negril

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My favorite restaurant; Barefoot by the Sea at Sandals Negril

We had an amazing room with butler service.  That was new for both of us.  It surprised me  (not really)  how fast we adjusted to the idea of a butler.   Our butler was reachable by a personal cellular phone and was available only during daytime hours (8a-10p).  He was there when we wanted him, and not when we didn’t.  Little touches included setting up dinner reservations for us, decorating our table with flowers and candles, reserving beach chairs for us with towels and a cooler full of Red Stripe and waters, bringing us a pizza and drinks on the beach (without us even asking), reminding us when it was time to head to the glass boat bottom tour so I wouldn’t have to check a watch, decorating our room and bed one of the night with flower petals, candles, a bubble bath and champagne, and arranging my transportation to Beaches Negril for a site inspection.

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Cookie Monster was waiting for me on my tour at Beaches Negril

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Lots of waterpark fun at Beaches Negril

We were sad to leave Sandals Negril, but after my site inspection there and at Beaches Negril we headed back to Montego Bay area for our 3 nights at Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall.  This is an adults only all-inclusive property as well.  It shares the grounds and many dining venues with their family friendly sister resort next door, the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall.

We were greeted warmly and taken to our rooms within minutes of our late afternoon arrival. I would have to say that my favorite thing about this property was our swim-up room and the food.  The food was pretty awesome.

We loved floating in the pool right from our swim-up.  We were fortunate that our swim-up connected to the main pool (although not the swim up bar.)  Some swim-up rooms at the property have a smaller, private pool.  Ours meandered out into the larger pool area.

The Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Rose Hall are built on the former site of the Ritz Carlton.  Some of the buildings are new construction.  One of the original structures is the ballroom and conference facility of the Ritz.  The property does continue with conference business.  We were there at the same time as an insurance conference.  The buffet was pretty crazy for breakfast one of the mornings because of all the conference attendees.  We solved that the next morning by eating at one of the a la carte restaurants.  Having many people on property in business suits and conference lanyards does take away from the resort feel, I think.  However the property is very pretty and well manicured with upscale modern furnishings.

The beach here is man-made.  It is 2 small coves with a pretty gazebo in between.  The water was much more wavy and rough in contrast to the glass-like Negril.

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The pool at the adults-only Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall

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Our swim-up patio

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Our junior suite swim-up room at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall

It was the beginning of hurricane season  during our stay.  We had beautiful weather in the morning and early afternoons, followed by afternoon showers most days.  It would generally clear up by dinner and the stars would be out in the evening.

Each property is very different.  Both are beautiful.  We discussed it and agreed that we would return to Sandals over the Hyatt properties, just because of the conference hotel feel.  It was not bad, just different.  We also really loved the unlimited watersports activities that were available to us (and included) at Sandals, and the focus on couples/romance.

I have photos of Sandals Negril, Beaches Negril and both Hyatt Ziva and Zilara in my photo albums on Facebook.  Check them out if you would like!


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60 Second Geography – Cancun and the Maya Riviera

The Yucatán coast has been a staple of travelers from the United States for forty years or more. The rapid development in and around Cancun became a model for the best and the worst in the ways in which tourism could enrich a population. This area was largely isolated from the rest of Mexico until the Mexican government selected the region for development.

  • The Yucatán’s Caribbean coast is more than 236 miles and stretches from Cancún in the north all the way to , on the border with the nation of Belize.
  • The northern half of the Yucatán’s coast is known as the “Maya Riviera” to the south, the “Costa Maya.” Between the two is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
  • South of Cancun development along the Mayan Riviera is on a smaller scale, with a greater understanding for the principles of sustainable tourism and a respect for native cultures.
  • The second longest reef system in the world runs much of the length of the coast. Playa del Carmen, Xpu-Ha, Tulum and the other magnificent beaches occur where there are gaps in the reef and the tidal action of the ocean’s waves pounds the reef into fine sand.
  • The reef provides great snorkeling and diving and the beaches are some of the world’s finest.
  • Ancient Mayan ruins dot the coast and are easily accessible from the resort communities along the coast
  • Inland, vast caves are present and under ground rivers run where travelers can explore with experienced guides.
  • The choice of accommodations is large and varied from cabins to all inclusive resorts or boutique hotels.
  • The ancient Mayan cities of Uxmal and Chichen Itza remain some of the best examples of the mysterious cultures, the vestages of which exist to this day in the native populations.

Ready to go to the Yucatán coast? Winter is just around the corner, contact Sarah at Krafty Travel and get started planning your trip.

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