Dreams Tulum: Perfect For Whom?

In the travel business, we spend a lot of time asking our customers a series of questions to make sure we tailor our recommendations to their unique desires.  As I like to remind our front line sales staff:  prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.

And yet, ever so often, we discover a property so versatile, so accommodating that it is difficult to imagine there is anyone who would  not enjoy its disparate offerings.  I just returned from spending a few days at  a resort that pretty much annihilates the old adage “Jack of all trades, Master of none.”  As you might have divined from the title . . . sly devil that you are . .  I am referring to Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa.  The answer to the question posed by the title of this post is simply “whomever”.

DSC02392Dreams Tulum is an ideal selection for at least three categories of travelers:  families, weddings / honeymoons and meetings / groups.  (I can think of several other categories such as couples, golfers, etc. but since this is supposed to be a blog post and not an encyclopedia, I will restrain myself.)

FAMILIES

If you are still at that stage of life where little rug rats routinely crawl all over the furniture in your living room like a small rodent convention, than you are going to love this property.  For one thing, the resort has recently increased the number of connecting rooms in the Deluxe and Junior Suites category.  This gives Dreams Tulum the ability to confirm connecting rooms in advance, something very few other properties of this stature can do!

In addition, this property now offers Family Suites which come in configurations of 4,5,6,7, 10 or even 12 rooms.  They share a large living area and are all accessed through one master door.  There is an additional daily charge for this option.

DRETU_Explores Club    Dreams Tulum Camp Out Adventure

As do all the Dreams Resorts, the Tulum property offers an Explorer’s Club for kids ages 3-12.  This includes such activities as a camp-out adventure pictured above. There is a basketball court, kids can climb rope ladders to a playhouse, enjoy a rock climbing wall and much more.  Dropping your little munchkins off at the Explorer’s Club is not going to be a problem.  Picking them up at the end of the day to clean up for dinner might be another matter!

WEDDINGS AND HONEYMOONS

So how do you know if a given resort is serious about weddings and honeymoons?  The first clue is whether they have a wedding showroom!

DRETU_Wedding ShowroomThe second question you should ask is, “Do they have an onsite wedding coordinator?  The answer, of course, is . . . “Of course!”.  Finally, do they have several wedding options to choose from with enough flexibility to customize your experience?  Again, the answer is a resounding yes.

You can visit the Dreams Tulum Weddings page for answers to frequently asked questions, to better understand Mexico’s marriage requirements, to see photos of recent weddings, to get a checklist, to see their Pinterest board and a whole lot more.  Planning a destination wedding can seem daunting but our experienced agents will have you feeling undaunted before you can say “I do!”.

The resort also offers Honeymoon packages if you are getting married stateside, anniversary packages and vow renewal packages.  Not to mention, if you have your wedding at Dreams Tulum, you can even return on your first anniversary for complimentary nights!  How sweet is that?

So far as I know, there are no divorce or burial packages but you never know what might be on the drawing board at Dreams Tulum.

WeddingMEETINGS AND GROUPS

So what happens if you want to come to Dreams Tulum and bring along a few hundred of your closest friends?  (For me, that’s not a problem because the people who will admit publicly to knowing me would fit in a VW minivan but I realize that’s not true of everyone.)  Dreams Tulum is a perfect place for any kind of meeting or group.

Dreams Tulum Convention CenterAs a matter of fact, they have a dedicated website for just meetings and groups which you can access here.  That site has a two page fact sheet suitable for distributing to key planners or even all participants.  In the same way there are wedding planners, there are dedicated meeting planners.  There is also a layout guide for planning space utilization.  They have a very robust multimedia capability as well.

I realize groups travel together for a lot of reasons beyond business.  Every year Dreams Tulum hosts affinity groups, multi-generational family groups, Girl’s Getaway groups, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and conventions for left-handed, Bolivian unicyclists. OK, I may have made that last one up.

OK, I am out of time with no room left to give proper due to the beautifully appointed rooms, the Art at Dreams Tulumvarious decadent restaurants which I hold personally responsible for sending me into an eating frenzy or to the epicurean spa.

I will say this though.  Based on my experience, I feel comfortable promising that you will meet some of the nicest people if you visit Dreams Tulum.  As I was relaxing in the spa, I saw this lovely couple (see picture to the right) who were just hanging around the hot tub.  They seemed a little shy.  It was unfortunate my masseuse showed up at just that moment to lead me away to my treatment room because I could sense they were about to open up.  I have a rare gift for reading people.

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OK, I’m Here . . . So Now What? Cancun and the Mayan Riviera

Some travelers get so caught up in their destination (where do I want to go?) and their domicile (where do I want to stay?), they forget to ask themselves “What do I want to do when I get there?”.  In fact, that question should probably precede the previous two.  If your definition of a perfect vacation contains certain “must do” items, you might want to travel somewhere that offers those specific activities.

Wow, are you blown away by my mastery of Aristotelian logic?  Don’t try this kind of insightful thinking at home without an open copy of The Organon next to you or you might bruise your little gray cells!

This post starts a new category on this blog called “OK, I’m Here . . . So Now What?” in which I will inform you about things to see and do in various destinations.  Let’s take Cancun and the Mayan Riviera as our first example . . . especially since that is the only thing I am prepared to write about at the moment.  On September 7th I published a

Picture of a Mayan Calendar

This is either a Mayan calendar or an Oreo cookie, not sure which.

post called Cancun:  A Bundle (or Unbundle) Of Fun in which I promised  to provide you more information about this precise subject very soon.  OK, very soon is a relative term. Compared with say the Mayan calendar’s “baktun” which divides history into periods of 394.26 years, the past few months have been a mere heartbeat.  Speaking of the Mayans, the world didn’t end last Friday while I was out Christmas shopping, did it?  I would be extremely upset to find out that while I was being jostled in line at Bath And Body Works by a tattooed teenager with a nose ring , I missed the entire apocalypse!

There are way too many tour options and activities (over a hundred) to list them all here so I will just mention a few and then point you to this awesome site where you can research, dream and even book to your little heart’s content.

Camel Safari   (No, this is not a misprint from a tour of North Africa.)

Be honest, haven’t you always wanted to ride a camel?  I’m not saying you dream about it at night because frankly, that would be a little weird.  But wouldn’t it be nice, when there is a lull in the conversation at your next cocktail party, to be able to throw out a totally random comment Camel Safari in Riviera Mayaabout camel riding in Cancun?  This is a unique experience specially designed for travelers with a taste for the exotic.  If vacations are all about experiences outside your normal routine,  unless you recently traded in your Dodge Ram pickup for a dromedary, this should certainly fit the bill.

XPLOR Tour

This is described as “A totally wild adventure where you will drive an amphibious vehicle, go over the exotic vegetation on a zip line, and swim in an ancestral cenote.”  Personally, I think it would be even wilder if you swam in the exotic vegetation and zipped over a cenote in an amphibious vehicle but that’s just me.  Actually, I have done this activity.   One small Extreme Canopy Adventurecautionary note.  When the guide tells you that should you come in a little “hot” on your zip line run, don’t worry, he will be on the platform on the other end to catch you before you wrench your knee careening into an unforgiving tree . . . well . . . let me translate for you.  What he really means is if you are young, cute, petite and female, he is there for you.  If you old, male, scruffy and a little above your fighting weight, you should count on a loud “¡Olé!” coupled with a dexterous sideways jump that would make a Spanish bullfighter proud.  If you have to ask what the heck is going on in the picture to the left, you don’t have any business signing up for this adventure.

Delphinus Trek

Interacting safely with dolphins, under water as if you were a diver, is simply unmatched.
You will appreciate them from a unique and different point of view thanks to secure underwater breathing equipment that can be used by anyone.  By anyone, I am excluding people like me who are claustrophobic in small, confined places such as Cowboy Stadium, Notre Dame and Yellowstone National Park.

Delphinus Trek, Riviera Maya

Are you are ready to peruse a list of over one hundred tour and activity choices as well as nifty transfer options to and from the airport?   Just follow this link and explore to your heart’s content: Travel Leaders Cancun ActivitiesWhen you are ready for some help selecting the perfect resort for you, just visit Travel Leaders / Main Street Travel.  And finally, when you are desperately bored and find yourself craving even more mindless drivel, just come back here.  As you have probably discovered by now, we can deliver drivel by the dump truck load around here.

Cancun: A Bundle (or Unbundle) of Fun

Let’s suppose, just for the sake of knocking out another killer blog post, you are a bit of a Mexico travel newbie and you are thinking about going to Cancun and/or the Riviera Maya.Riviera Maya Map  Whoa . . . let’s stop right there because we are barely past the first sentence and we have already encountered the first potential toe stub.  You know for a fact you have heard of Cancun and you are pretty sure you have heard of Riviera Maya . . or was it the Mayan Riviera . . . or perhaps Playacar . . . or maybe Playa del Carmen?

Fortunately for you, I can resolve this little mystery, if not in a heartbeat, for sure in a short burst of atrial fibrillation.

Cancun – Properly speaking, this is the resort town on the north-east coast of the Yucatán peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo.  Don’t even try to pronounce the state.  You will only sprain your tongue!

Riviera Maya or Mayan Riviera –  this is the tourist district that has grown up south of Cancun along Highway 307 which parallels the Caribbean coastline of that state we have agreed we not to pronounce.   It used to be called the Cancun – Tulum corridor but someone decided that sounded too much like a dingy hallway in a cheap hotel.

Playacar and Playa del Carmen – Playacar was the original development south of Cancun built around what was then a tiny fishing village called Playa del Carmen.

Assuming you are more interested in a nice vacation than a history/geography lesson, here is pretty much all you need to know.  Both Cancun and “everything south” (feel free to use whichever of the aforementioned terms rolls most easily off your tongue) are served by the same airport and essentially are one giant destination, not that you will get their respective tourist boards to admit it!

In this particular blog I am not going to address the question of which destination might

Cancun Beach

Cancun Beach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

better suit your particular fancy.  I will leave that for another post.  Instead, I will answer the question that is hinted at in the title:  to bundle or nor to bundle?

Let’s assume you are astute enough to know you should avail yourself of the services of an experienced travel agent.  If you are not yet convinced,  surely you will be after you read yet another stimulating blog post coming soon about that very subject!  I am like Jimmy Durante sans the patrician nose, “I got a million of ‘em.”

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. As I count them, there are three possibilities.  Keep in mind I flunked logic so I could have overlooked something here.

Possibility One:  Fully Bundled

Travel agencies (retailers) work through middle-men (wholesalers) called tour companies whose role it is to assemble all the components of a great vacation into one irresistible package.  These elements usually consist of an airline ticket (scheduled or charter), a hotel package (European, American or All-inclusive plans), a transfer (airport/hotel/airport) and perhaps some activities, tours or excursions.

Possibility Two:  Partly Bundled

Let’s suppose you have amassed more frequent flier miles than a middle-eastern diplomat.  Or maybe you work for an airline and plan to use your airline passes so you don’t need any help with airfare.  Conversely, you could be invited to stay in some patsy’s over-priced, under-utilized time share condominium and you don’t need hotel accommodations but do need an airline ticket and transfers.

Possibility Three:  Unbundled

For this scenario, let’s assume you suffer from stage four masochism and you delight in making things a lot harder than they have to be just for the sheer delight of it.  You decide you are going to get on the net and research every component separately.  Two days and several stiff drinks later, you emerge from your home office with that glassy-eyed, glazed look that only comes from information overload coupled with the paralysis of analysis.

We tolerant travel counselors are not here to pass judgment on any of these approaches (OK, maybe a smidge on the last one).  What we would like you to know is that we can render invaluable service whether you need a lot of help from us or just a little.

Here, let me prove it.  For our final scenario, let’s assume you win two free tickets to Cancun in a golf tournament hole-in-one contest.  Next, you win a seven night stay in a five-star, all-inclusive resort as a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars”.  Finally, your next door neighbor, to whom you recently donated a kidney, just happens to operate a fleet of limos in . . . “Who would have ever guessed?” . . . Cancun, Mexico or all places.

Cancun Sunset Dinner Cruise

Sunset Dinner Cruise

But what are you going to do when you get there?  What tours will you take, in which activities will you partake, which excursions will you book?   Not to worry.  We can even help with even that one small, yet critical, piece of the puzzle.  Click here to peruse a couple of dozen exciting activity options and once you have made your selection, you can just book it online.  See how easy that was?

I intend to devote an entire upcoming post to all the exciting things there are to see and do in this one-of-a-kind destination!  Why don’t you take a second and subscribe at the bottom of this post and be assured of not missing a thing?

Maui On The Move: Travel Trends According To You

Each fall, Travel Leaders Group conducts a survey of travel agents across the United States called, appropriately enough, the Fall Travel Trends Survey.  Travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents are asked which destinations are trendingTravel Leaders Fall Travel Trends Survey upward in the months immediately ahead.  What should make this survey of particular interest to you is that the agencies are asked to base their answers not on speculation, personal preference or even yours truly’s highly sought after and quickly discarded opinion but on actual forward bookings.

According to the news release of September 4th, “This survey was conducted by Travel Leaders Group from July 30 – August 23, 2012, and includes responses from 871 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with – for the first time ever – those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group’s Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Results! Travel, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.”  What this means is that this year’s survey is based on a much broader sampling than in the past and thus is even more authoritative than ever!

You can read the entire survey here but I thought I would share a few highlights for those of you who live in mortal dread of inadvertently booking a vacation insufficiently “hot” (in the popular, not the climatological sense) to render your in-laws and nosy neighbors overwrought with envy.  I mean, what is the point of a great vacation if you can’t tantalize friends and taunt enemies, right?

Maui wavesIf that is your objective, than you’d better be planning to motor over to Maui (figuratively speaking, of course. I don’t recommend you try it literally.)  Here is an interesting little tidbit.  In last year’s survey, Maui was the top recommended domestic destination.  Apparently, a lot of you were paying attention to your trusted travel advisors, always a sound practice, because this year Maui jumped three spots to number two on the hit parade, a close second to Las Vegas.

For the serious jet setters among you, what does the international scene look like?  If the survey were a flower garden (never mind the fact that you would need a trowel to fill it out), Caribbean cruising and Cancun would be classified perennials.   Nonetheless, the survey did offer a couple of surprises.  Mediterranean cruising rose (pun intended) to number three on the list and European River cruising blossomed (that’s it, I promise) into the top ten.

That last result is not the least surprising to those of us who ply the travel trade.  River cruising, whether in Europe, China or Vietnam, is experiencing a boom.  I took a Rhine River cruise a while back and it was one of the best vacations I ever experienced.  Not to worry, I plan to post about it very soon.  As a quick aside, it is strange once you start blogging how you no longer have personal experiences, you only have potential blog posts!

I encourage you take a moment and read the entire Fall Travel Trends Survey news release.  You can peruse the entire domestic and international top ten list,  discover the average cost of airfares to various popular vacation destinations and even take a behind-the-scenes peek at the level of optimism we in the travel industry harbor going forward.

This is the most authoritative survey of its kind in the industry, exactly what you would expect from the Travel Leaders, the industry leading travel company.  That didn’t sound self-serving, did it?

Side Trip to the Sensational: A Remarkable Resort

In the travel industry, unique is a term that gets bandied about a little too casually.  In the most literal sense, I suppose, every hotel or resort is unique in the same way that every fingerprint and snowflake are.  But I think what we all intend to convey when we employ that shopworn adjective is a hotel or resort that is distinctive, idiosyncratic and exceptional.  Today I want to tell you about a resort that richly deserves the appellation because it meets all three of those criteria.

Mexico golf course

El Camaleon Mayakoba

On a recent “business trip” to the Riviera Maya south of Cancun (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) I decided to solicit a side trip to a resort I had heard raves about but had never visited.  I am referring to the Rosewood Mayakoba.  One of its primary attractions for me, and this will come as no shock  to either of my friends, was the fact that the resort lays claim to El Camaleon Mayakoba, a signature Greg Norman, 7000 yard, 18-hole championship golf course.  It is the only golf course in Mexico with the distinction of hosting an annual PGA Tour event, aptly named the Mayakoba Golf Classic.   So naturally, when this . . . ahem . . . “business meeting” (you gotta love the travel business) found its way onto my calendar, my first action was to send off an obsequious email to the Director of Sales requesting an opportunity to tour the facility and, oh, by the way, would it be possible for me and a few friends to experience a round of golf.  I am happy to report that my request was met with a generous offer for a round of golf for four (at a discounted rate) followed by a lunch and one-hour tour given by Renata Moreira, Director of Sales and a delightful soul.

One of the unique (there’s that word again) features of the property are the canals that runMexico resort throughout.  In fact, this picture to the right shows the lobby area on the upper level.  When you check in, you descend the steps and are delivered to your room in one of the water taxis you see in the picture.  The canals give the resort a special ambiance, particularly at night when there are lights all along the banks.

Just six weeks ago, Rosewood announced the opening of Sense, A Rosewood Spa, named a best spa by readers of Conde Nast magazine.  In their own words, “The 17,000-square-foot Sense spa is ensconced on its own island melding water and earth to reflect the nurturing soul of the Riviera Maya.”  It can nurture me anytime it cares to!  Follow the Sense link for a full press release about this newest addition.

If you visit, you will probably want to while away more than a few hours at Agave Azul, Tequila, Library and Raw Bar.  No, that’s not a typo.  I presume it refers to the sushi, not the dress code!  Check out the three pictures below.

Mexico resort   Mexico resort        Mexico resort

There are two other incredible Rosewood properties in Mexico and I will tell you about both in my next post.  I know checking out 5 star hotels sounds wonderful but it is really quite grueling.  I am fighting to keep a straight face.  If you long to check them out too, you know how to reach me.  What is your favorite luxury resort in Mexico?