A "Flu Free Guarantee"? Yes.

Got this e-mail promotion in my inbox this morning and it’s too good not to share. Maybe I will go to Mexico and lick some water fountains or something so I can get some free vacations in the future:

Zoëtry, Secrets and Dreams Resorts & Spas Offer “Flu-Free Guarantee;”
Three Free Vacations if Guests Contract Influenza A – H1N1

Mexico’s Decline in Cases Spurs Award-Winning Resorts to Offer Guarantee,
Aggressive Promotions and Irresistible Prices

PHILADELPHIA (May 11, 2009) – As Mexico’s Health Minister reports a continuing decline in the H1N1 cases, Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets Resorts & Spas and Dreams Resorts & Spas introduces a Flu-Free Guarantee* to help speed the country’s tourism recovery. Valid between May and December 2009, if a guest contracts Influenza A – H1N1 while staying at these resorts their next three vacations will be free of charge.

All Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets and Dreams Resorts & Spas follow the current American Hotel & Lodging Sanitation Measures and recently have taken additional heightened measures to ensure the highest level of sanitation and hygiene.

“The health and well-being of our resort employees and guests is a top priority for us. As a result, zero cases of influenza have been reported at any of our properties,” said Alex Zozaya, president and CEO of AMResorts, provider of sales, marketing and brand management services for Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets Resorts & Spas and Dreams Resorts & Spas.” “During the last few weeks, we have continuously encouraged travel to Mexico based on the real facts about the H1N1 virus, and the sanitary protocols in place at all of our resorts.”

The Mexican authorities’ recent lift on restrictions to all public facilities including restaurants and cafes, libraries, museums, churches, archaeological sites and more further supports AMResorts’ confidence in the healthy condition of the country.

“We are convinced the recent decline of cases and continued affirmation from the world’s leading health organization for unrestricted international travel will encourage tourists to quickly return to Mexico for its diverse and enticing tourism offerings, rich culture and competitive pricing,” said Zozaya.

* “Flu-Free Guarantee” H1N1 Insurance details:

  • Must be qualified as Influenza A – H1N1. Positive blood results in addition to certification of the doctor who performed the test are required
  • Applies to guests that booked May 8, 2009 through June 30, 2009 for travel taking place May 8, 2009 through December 20, 2009
  • Valid for same vacation (land only) to return once per year over the next 3 years and only for the original traveler plus one companion. Blackout dates and restrictions apply
  • Applicable to Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets and Dreams Resorts & Spas only

Irresistible Savings to Jumpstart Spring Travel Bookings

All Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets and Dreams Resorts & Spas are offering a host of irresistible special packages and promotions. Special promotion highlights include:

Spring Escapes:

Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts
• Up to 37 percent discount
Secrets Resorts & Spas
• Up to 55 percent discount
• $200 in resort credit
Dreams Resorts & Spas
• Up to 40 percent discount
• Up to $250 in resort credit
• Two kids stay free with two adults

Discounts are valid for bookings made from May 1 – June 15, 2009 for travel through December 23, 2009 (actual dates and offers vary by resort and can be booked directly on the brands’ websites)

May Madness:
All Master Agents who book in May for travel from June 1 – December 23, 2009 are eligible to win one year’s worth of gas or one of 14 Dell Inspiron™ Mini 9 Laptops.

Notes from Paradise

Yesterday, my birthday, was perhaps one of the best days of my life. Seriously, I don’t think I can remember a more perfect day.

It started calmly as I sat on our terrace drenched in bright warm morning sun, overlooking the beautiful ocean and resort, reading a book I had been waiting to read for a long time (A Thousand Splendid Suns). Once Damir was roused, we went to breakfast and had everything we wanted right in front of us. Then we were off to the beautiful sugary sanded beach, with a view of the vibrantly blue water, and we sat under a shady palapa. Damir went to play volleyball and I enjoyed the view, my book, and later a cold beer. And then a dip in the beautiful sea.

In the afternoon we made our way for a walk through Playa del Carmen and a beverage at Mosquito Blue. We shopped for souveniors and were glad to have a place so peaceful to return to after the crowded streets of PDC.

I napped.

In the evening I was told to be ready by 10-to-eight. And don’t be late. So at ten-to-eight I was ready per the instructions and left the room with my sweetheart. He led me to the beach, where the walk was lined with candles and torches, to a solitary table for 2 set by the sea, under the stars. We toasted my 35th year with champagne, and an incredible 4-course meal including some of my favorites (lobster!).

I cried, literally cried, at the beauty of the evening. And just didn’t want the night to end. I cried with thanks to be cared for and loved by such an amazing man. I cried that I should be so lucky to deserve any of this.

We returned to the room where rose petals, chocolates (as if I could eat another bite), and more candles led the way. True romance, like you read about in silly books, not something I ever really expected to experience for myself. All followed by a deep sleep, and waking a dawn for a walk on the beach on my own, watching the sun peak over the ocean’s horizon, to give thanks for a new day.

Already, though we have 2 days left to enjoy this wonderful place, I am dreading the trip home. Terrible habit I have– in the moment of enjoyment, fearing its passing too quickly.

Pictures to come.

Vamos en Mexico!

Tomorrow morning we leave for 5 (hopefully) glorious nights on the Riviera Maya, halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, at the Secrets Maroma Resort.

I can’t express to you how excited I am.

This is my first true vacation in a long long time– and my first ever with Damir. I think the last vacation I took, not including visits to see family or friends, work trips and weddings, would have been a short 32nd birthday trip to Key West back in 2006. Before that a trip for my 30th birthday with Erin to Las Vegas where we lived it up at the Ritz on Lake Las Vegas. Both were great trips, with fantastic memories. But neither trip included that extra sweet element of romance. Awww yeah. I’m going away with my baby. And not to some shabby place. We’re going here:

Awww yeah. This time tomorrow I will be on the beach with a fruity cocktail with my sweetheart by my side. The best part is that this new 5-star resort (no kids!) offers a super fantastic travel agent rate that I am only too happy to take advantage of. Niiice. Luxry vacation at rock bottom prices? Yes, please.

Back next week with stories and pictures!

Like that’s so hard

Bravo TV, arguably my favorite channel thanks to obsessions with Top Chef and Project Runway, is hosting a new show: “First Class All the Way”.

In Bravo’s newest series, First Class All the Way, Sara Duffy, founder of SRD International, a Los Angeles based multi-million dollar travel concierge business, takes viewers inside the world of high-end luxury travel while revealing the drama of keeping demanding clients content and making extravagant dream vacations come to life.

From my own personal experience as a travel planner and sometimes concierge working with a very wide spectrum of people: this is absolutely ridiculous. Why? Pleasing people who have lots of money isn’t really that hard. If a client is willing to pay whatever it takes to have the experience they want, the travel planner is on easy street, as long as they really understand what the client wants and they are creative enough to deliver.

Want a hard challenge? Try to make people happy who don’t have an unlimited budget to spend. Especially in a city like NYC. Like a client who wants to come during the busiest weekend of the year who wants to spend less than $200 per night AND be withing walking distance to Rockefeller Center AND in a hotel that isn’t disgusting. Now THAT is a challenge.

Bravo TV should make a reality show about that. Seriously.

PS: The people this lady has hired to represent her are absolutely terrible and stab each other in the back time and again. She should fire them all, or give them more work to do so they don’t have time to be so petty.

This made me laugh and cry. A letter and response from the archives.

May 1997
Fax To: Dad
From: Terra (somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean)
SS Universe Explorer
Re: Another change in plans….

* * *

Dad- Help! I need some advice. I have just received an offer to stay on the ship for 2-4 more months working in the same job but doing Alaska cruises. Pay is $225 per week+ room + board + return flight ticket home after (more than I make now). I can’t decide…Part of me says yes because: 1) would love to see Alaska. 2) since passengers are all adults, it would be a good way to get feedback on my hotel idea (and get support?) 3) good experience. But: 1) I am so tired. 2) Since it would be a “real cruise” I would have to dress up and be much more formal than I have to be now. 3) Since the routes up Alaska are repetitive it could get boring. If I decide yes, I will send you the $$ to cover my bills and insurance. I can’t do another 4 months, but 2 is very tempting. What do you think? I need to respond ASAP, so any feedback would be great. I am so torn! I miss and love you– Terra

May 1997 (same day)
Fax To: Terra
From: Dad
Re: Another change in plans….

* * *

Finally got your fax. My advice – Go for it! I’ll miss not having you home as expected. However, it sounds like a good opportunity. Love, Dad

The Boxes

Our trip to NC was nearly perfect, the only complaint was the mediocre weather. We had been hoping for one last week of summer, but we got an early week of fall. We had the perfect balance of activity, day trips and just lounging around time. It was also really fun hanging out with Dad and Jan.

Highlight for me was getting a chance to visit with my old friend from high school, Colleen, who has settled into a beautiful home near Raleigh with her hubz and 3 beautiful daughters under the age of 5. I hadn’t seen her in 12 years! Oh, and the food. Man, we ate good. Weight watchers was no where in sight, but that’s OK, I have returned committed to getting back on track.

The boxes. Those boxes I put away over 10 years ago with so many miscellaneous treasures. I expected much of the items I rediscovered…The herd of stuffed animals:

…A million maps and memorabilia from when I sailed around the world with Semester at Sea:

…15 photo albums, thousands of negatives and letters galore. I miss the art of the written letter, now replaced by email. Those letters are so precious to me. Thanks to all of you who took time to write me (Steph and my Dad are tied for first place for letter writing–honorable mention to Penny):

…Tons of school stuff like my high school yearbooks and my college graduation cap (I was an Italian major):

But the creme della creme were the Barbies. I had totally forgotten about the Barbies, complete with their awesome 70s outfits, bad home haircuts and even a Barbie wardrobe and kitchen set:

3 of the boxes made it back with us to NY, mostly the photo albums. The Barbies were left to be rediscovered another day.

Breathe Deep

Tomorrow we leave for vacation.

I had so wanted to take a “real” vacation involving a flight to somewhere new, pretty scenery and fruity cocktails. Just the two of us: our first real vacation with no secondary agenda. But then, an unexpected new car purchase, an unexpected oral surgeon expense (thanks to no dental), and hopefully a wedding on the horizon, all made it just too much of a stretch right now. Alas. We are still getting the hell out of Dodge. And by Dodge, I mean this nutty little corner of the world: Long Island.

We need it.

We are getting in the new car tomorrow and driving South to North Carolina. All I know is destination #1 is to see my Dad and Jan. They’ve lived down there a good 3 or 4 years now, and this is my first trip to their home. Amazing, I know.

Beyond the obvious happiness to see them, I am really excited about a few boxes of nearly forgotten belongings that I haven’t seen in about 10 years (due to their various moves, and mine). I have no idea what I stored in these boxes when I packed them up upon graduating from college. I suspect many many photo albums, some boring old yearbooks, a stuffed animal or two, and God knows what else. It will be like my own private Christmas where 22 year old Terra left presents for 34 year old Terra. Sweet.

Maybe I will get to Raleigh to see old H.S. friend Colleen, or maybe we will go further East to the Outter Banks. Maybe we’ll just hang with my folks. We have No Plan.

It is strange not to have a plan. I do so much travel and event planning for others now that I dread doing my own. And it’s both a blessing and a curse that Damir doesn’t take on the planning himself. In theory I wish he would, but I think I might be too much of a control freak to leave him to it in peace. So, we both win, I guess.

I left the office tonight in knots of stress. Feeling like I left too much undone, too many questions not fully answered. I walked the 12 blocks to Penn Station with tightness in my chest, barely noticing the beautiful crisp fall evening. But then, upon descending into the bowels of the station, I chanced upon this awesomeness:

Man, these guys went at it for a good 10 minutes, I filmed the last few on my blackberry, so sorry for the shitty quality. But can you see how fun they are? They made me wish I could play an instrument. That I hadn’t quit the flute in the 4th grade after I slammed it in the car door in the grocery store parking lot. That I didn’t quit the guitar in the 7th grade after getting discouraged that I would never be the next great Singer-Songwriter. If I had experienced music being played like this, with such abandon and in birkenstocks, maybe I would have stayed with it. Ack. Probably not.

Anyway, it made me breath again and realize it doesn’t matter where we go as long as I have my baby by my side.

A little of this, a little of that

It has been a funny time lately. Things have been busier than usual as I have had actual social commitments! *Gasp! Shocking, right?

My sister and her hubs were kind enough to trek down to NYC for a Saturday night to take Damir and I out for a celebratory dinner. It was fantastic! We started with drinks in Bryant park and then up to the Upper East Side for dinner at a cute spot called Vespa. Full and tipsy, we took a long walk back towards Midtown to grab a nightcap at St. Andrews Pub and then called it a night. Damir and I actually ended up staying in the city as well at a sweet little historic hotel (an engagement gift from my company as it turned out), which was a rare and lovely pleasure. The following morning we grabbed some coffee and breakfast sandwiches and had a mini-picnic in Central Park. All too soon they had to get back in the car and head back to Boston… but it meant so much to me that they came. Really.


And then I was invited to a bridal shower! Damir’s cousin is getting married this September and I was kindly invited to his bride’s shower, though I didn’t know anyone other than the bride and the groom’s sister-in-law who I see quite often, out of the 30 or so present ladies. Can you believe this: it was the first bridal shower I ever went to. No joke!

I am not certain about the whole bridal show plus bachlorette concept. Which for me is probably a good thing since all my gal pals are now so dispersed, I doubt I could get more than 5 close friends into a room at the same time. That’s sad. But maybe not THAT sad since I don’t think I am the shower-type. I’d rather do what my sister did: have a big gal-only party with lots of good wine and fruity cocktails.

I suppose if you have attended dozens of showers, when it comes time to yours you might feel entitled. I don’t mean any disrespect to the ladies who love showers. And it isn’t that I had a bad time last Saturday; it was nice to meet new people and everyone was very friendly. It just isn’t for me to be the center of attention opening up present after present while others sit in a circle around me and watched for my reactions; it would make me uncomfortable.

I’d rather open the loot in private.

And we are back.

Dallas was so much fun I couldn’t bring myself to blog about it last week:

A) Because I spent last week in a coma of exhaustion, finally getting about 12 hours of much needed sleep this past Friday night.

B) It kind of makes me sad to blog after a much awaited event, because it means that it is really over and in the past.

It was great to stand up with Ms. Ashbloem and Mr. Davey and witness their union. I particularly loved their vows and will have to see if they’d let me plagiarize all or some in the event I ever take that big leap. It was also great fun to see old friends from the Amsterdam days. But what I loved best about their wedding was that it really did represent who they are as two fun people. They only included the traditions that represented them, and the originality of the wedding, from start to finish, made it special.

Damir and I got to enjoy Dallas and had a beautiful room at the Fairmont Hotel. We didn’t do too much tourist stuff, other than visit the Aquarium which we both liked a lot. They had an odd inmate: a leopard. Why is there a leopard in an aquarium? They had him (her?) caged right in front of the flock of flamingos, with just a clear plexiglass of separation. Isn’t that on the same plane of water-boarding?

In the end it was a fun and exhausting trip. Just when we were so happy to escape the heat of Texas, we come home to near 100 degree temps. Thanks for that, Mother Nature. But at least it means it is beach season here on Long Island and that is a happy thing indeed.

Big D

Damir and I are off tomorrow for this girl’s wedding:

Awwwww yeah. If I know this girl, and I think I do, this will be a wedding like none other. Pictures to follow.