This summer I went on a 4 night Jamaica getaway to Secrets Wild Orchid with my friend Libby.
Secrets Wild Orchid shares their property with Secrets St. James. Each resort has their own set of rooms and their own main pool areas but they share the restaurants and the entertainment. You have access to both properties!
There is also a Preferred Club room section at each resort which offers an additional exclusive pool area and some extra amenities. With Preferred Club room status you also have access to the Breathless resort nearby.
I really enjoyed the nightly entertainment at Secrets and the fun activities at the pool. There was always something going on for us to take part in, especially in the evenings. We met a great group of people who we quickly became friends with!! Couldn't complain about the delicious drinks either!
Contact Stacey at (314) 439-5700 Ext. 128 or send her an email to
begin planning an amazing Jamaican vacation with Secrets!
This past July, my family and I traveled to one of my favorite places…Negril, Jamaica! This is the 3rd visit for me (check out my review of Couples Swept Away) and the 15th time for my boyfriend Scott. The biggest change for this trip was that we brought our three kiddos along for an adventure to this magical island. During these seven days, our blended family had a chance to come together to form stronger bonds and create amazing memories.
When beginning to plan, we really wanted to find a resort that would cater to a wide range of ages and interests between the five of us. My 7-year old daughter Grace lives to swim. Scott’s 16-year son Simon was interested in doing some water sports. Scott’s other son Oliver was going to celebrate turning 10 and wanted a unique experience to mark the occasion. And Scott and I wanted a place where we could have some time together but knew that the kiddos would be safe. Luckily we had stayed at the all-inclusive Hotel Riu Palace Tropical Bay in the past and it was the perfect choice for our diverse needs.
We booked our trip through Apple Vacations which included a charter flight from St. Louis to Montego Bay. Early on Saturday, July 7th we boarded our plan for a direct flight and landed around 12:30pm. We also made the very smart choice of selecting Club Mobay. This is a fast track service and is something we highly recommend whether traveling with your family or just as a couple. We were greeted by a representative with a warm smile and began out next steps through immigration and customs. At one point a very important customs form was torn and luckily for us, our representative caught it in advance. She completed a new one for us before we even got in line. If not for her, our form would not have been accepted and it could have caused a great delay.
Our next step was to board a bus and begin our journey to Negril which is located about 1.5 hours away from the airport. Along the way, I enjoyed watching Grace get her first taste of the scenery as it passed by our window. I could tell each time she saw the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea, her eyes would light up. She was ready to experience all that Jamaica had to offer!
At our resort, we were upgraded to a Junior Suite Oceanfront Connection room. This gave us the option of two rooms that shared a hall way which was a perfect option for us. It gave Scott and I a place to ourselves while our kiddos had their own room with a seperate bathroom (a MUST for a beach vacation). Once we unpacked and got settled in, the ocean was calling our name for an evening of playing in the waves.
The next few days we were able to check off a lot of To Do items from our list. For Grace, that included getting her daily fruit punch from the swim up bar which made her feel very VIP! She also enjoyed all the extra attention she received from the staff, especially an afternoon of making beaded bracelets under the shade of a palm tree.
Simon enjoyed a morning of snorkling along the reef. This optional excursion included a ride on a beautiful catamaran and the opporutnity of diving in two different areas. One spot even had a anchor and cannon from a pirate ship to explore! And for more adventure on the water Scott, Simon, and Grace took out kayaks which were complimentary at the resort for some sightseeing along the bay.
Oliver got his wish of something truly unique with a glass bottom boat ride. We were instructed in advance to bring along bread and bananas to feed the fish which quickly became a food frenzy! He also enjoyed living the life with loungers located directly in the pool. These were the perfect spot to watch the daily pool activities which included everything from games, to dance competitions, and even an amazing synchronize swimming performance!
For Scott and I, it was all about being with the kiddos and having time to relax and really enjoy the moments. Food options were plentiful and easy with the buffets that were available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After the kiddos had a full meal and safely in their room, Scott and I took time to enjoy the specialty restaurants located at the resort. The Italian themed restaurant was cute and served delicious lasagna while the Steak House had a beautiful view and my filet was cooked perfectly! After dinner, we would usually find ourselves in the martini bar to try some new cocktails or take in one of the evening shows such as the beach party complete with fire dancers.
The Hotel Riu Palace Tropical Bay is truly a beautiful property. The decor is bright and colorful and I love the view out the open air lobby straight towards the ocean. Beach access is easy and we always found plenty of lounge chairs and tables for our gear. The resort is centrally located along Bloody Bay (named after a particularly fierce pirate battle) and offers amazing vantage points to soak in the views, especially the picturesque sunsets!
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When clients of Maggie Groene wanted to spend a getaway at the beach, she knew Cancun would be a fantastic choice. Brandon and his roommate Bertin enjoyed 6-nights at the all-inclusive Grand Oasis Sens resort, a beachfront retreat on the Caribbean Sea.
‘I had an amazing time in Mexico! I really enjoyed it and the place was so beautiful and everyone was so kind. Thank you so much for helping us have a great vacation. I know for sure I'll be messaging Maggie soon for the next trip!’
Clients of Sue Deibel just returned from the Now Onyx Resort and Spa in Punta Cana and shared a rave review of their experience. Located on a remote beach along the Atlantic Ocean, this sprawling all-inclusive resort features balconies or terraces with hot tubs for an ultra luxurious escape.
“I just wanted to let you know how amazing the Now Onyx resort was last week. From the minute we checked in, to the day we left, the staff, the accommodations and the food were impeccable. We had our room cleaned daily and also in the evening if we preferred. The staff greeted us at every turn and the restaurants were first class! This by far was the best resort I have ever stayed and I've been traveling to Mexico, Punta Cana and Jamaica for years. We will definitely return.
If you want to travel to the Dominican and want to stay at a topnotch resort Now Onyx is the place to be! We cannot wait to book again very soon!”
'Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya was incredible. Upon our arrival they offered an upgrade to the ocean front Imperial Suites. We took it and were so glad we did! Our rooms were on the 1st floor and walked straight out to the beach. We also liked that they were in a very quiet area and we felt we got a great deal.
We spent most of our days at the main pool. There were constant activities and you could choose to do as many as you wanted. The swim up bars were terrific and had top shelf liquor available. No one even thought of leaving the property of this all-inclusive resort.
The restaurants were amazing! They had great nightly entertainment and you could go to more than one restaurant a night if you wanted. We did appetizers at one place and main meal at another.
Everything involved with this trip was so smooth! Frontier Airlines was great and the Cancun airport has been totally renovated and was awesome. Transportation to the resort and back was also seamless.
A big thanks to our Travel Consultant Sue Deibel for everything. Highly recommended and we will return!'
"Booking our trip to Mexico with Stacey Hoehne was really easy. I gave her a couple dates and a price and she got exactly what we wanted. It was even a little under budget!
We stayed at Secrets Capri in Cancun. We really liked that it was a smaller resort and there was always plenty of space by the pool and on the beach. There was rarely a wait for any restaurants or the bar and all the employees were extremely helpful.
Stacey answered all my questions leading up to our trip and provided valuable information and advice we needed for our first trip to Mexico.'
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or email her and start planning an all-inclusive vacation to paradise!
This past October, my boyfriend Scott and I went on a trip to Negril, Jamaica to experience the pure luxury of Couples Swept Away. This is my second trip to this magical island and my boyfriend’s 14th time and we were spoiled and pampered at this all-inclusive resort perfectly located on Seven Mile Beach.
Traveling with Apple Vacations to Jamaica made our journey easy and relaxing. We were able to take a non-stop chartered flight from St. Louis to Montego Bay with XTRA airways. The flight was 3.5 hours and we landed around 12:30pm, right on time to make the most of our first day in Jamaica.
We decided to use Club Mobay which is a fast-track service and is something we highly recommend. Our meet and greet representative, Wayne, met us right at the entrance to the airport with a warm smile and our names easily visible on a large sign. He then guided us through the lines of people waiting through immigration, customs, and the baggage claim and straight to a private lounge where we waited for our van.
The lounge also had a kid friendly area for families complete with toys and electronics which I know I would I would have used if we had our kiddos along for the trip. We had enough time to enjoy a cool drink and some yummy snacks when we were told our van was ready to take us straight to our resort.
The ride to Negril only took about 45 minutes and we listened to reggea music and watched the beauty of the island unfold before our eyes. Once we arrived at Couples Swept Away, I knew right away it was a place designed to please the eye and soul. The colors of the lobby were soft and serene and the sound of palm trees blowing in the breeze was hypnotic.
We were invited into an open air room with comfy chairs and given glasses of champaign which made us feel very VIP. A representative of the resort gave us an overview of the property including the location of their six restaurants and how the resort worked on a cashless system. In other words, we were encouraged to lock up our wallets in the safe provided in our room as they would not be needed during our stay.
We were then given the key to our garden verandah room and took one of many lush paths to discover our new home for the next week.
Our room was very tranquil and featured high ceilings, ceiling fans, and a large covered porch that had an amazing jungle view. It was just a quick one minute walk to the beach were we were always greeted with the turquois water of the Caribbean. There were plenty of beach chairs available as well as large rafts that could be brought straight out to the water to float on the waves. As much as Scott loves being on the beach, the sun is not always very kind back to him and he was relieved to find several shady areas with straw-covered umbrellas.
The food at Couples Swept Away was a major highlight during our stay. We loved the options at the full buffet for breakfast which included omelet stations as well as traditional Jamaican dishes such as fried plantains. A real treat was Seagrapes Cafe which served vegetarian options and was located beach side. The sweet potato chips were addictive and we also discovered delicious coco bread which is stuffed with cheese and peppers and served with a ginger chutney sauce.
For dinner, we tried two of the specialty restaurants: Lemongrass and Patois Patio which served delicious Meditterrian entrees. Lemongrass was our favorite and required a reservation which was easy to schedule with a quick visit to the front desk. The food was ala cart and Thai inspired and the flavors and portions were all spot on. The view was just as equally incredibly as it looked over the pool and was lit with lanterns and tiki torches.
Even though we never left the resort, there were plenty of activities for us to try. Excursion schedules are posted daily and you just need to sign-up one ahead to take part. Scuba diving has been on my travel to do list and the resort offered a FREE class to get a taste. We started out getting suited up and had a lesson of essential skills in their pool. Once we completed that and felt comfortable, we were led to a shallow area near the beach where we saw starfish. It was a huge thrill!
We also enjoyed a glass bottom boat ride out to the reef. Our guide was very entertaining and informative on the types of sea life we were able to see including all types of coral, sting rays, and even a sea turtle which can be rare to view. During the day there was a menu of classes offered throughout the resort including basket weaving, wood carving, jewelry making, and morning yoga.
We also enjoyed the martini bar which always had a fun crowd watching the bartenders make a variety of mixed drinks. The martini bar also had a perfect view of the dance floor where different entertainment groups including reggae bands, dancers, and steel drummers would perform nightly.
One evening, we enjoyed a bonfire on the beach which included wine tasting and live guitar music. It was a perfect and romantic way to end a day in paradise.
I would highly recommend Couples Swept Away as a place for couples to unwind and reconnect. The people were incredible friendly and we enjoyed making instant friendships with other guests and the staff at the resort. No matter where you were, you could hear singing and laughter and I felt like it was a place where I belonged and wanted to stay for a long time.
Call one of our expert travel consultants at 314-439-5700 and be swept away to Jamaica with Apple Vacations.
We loved our week in Cabo with daughter Tammy and son-in-law Kent. We stayed at the beautiful Secrets Puerto Los Cabos in a swim out room. Everything was perfect including the accommodations, service, food, weather and traveling companions. Cabo is like Palm Springs with an ocean. And the non-stop charter with Apple Vacations was a huge bonus.
My husband (who does not swim) loved having the private pool area. Only 6-7 rooms share each swim out pool. We were in preferred club and the service by Ada and her team was amazing. Our room and bathroom were spacious and well appointed.
Each night we ate in a different restaurant. They were all wonderful in their own way, but our favorite was Himatsu, the Japanese restaurant and Miguel, our waiter, was amazing. Food here was superior and we loved the Marketplace. The breakfast and lunch buffets were fresh, tasty and offered great service from the wait staff.
If you like golf, swimming, yoga, a quiet pool or a busy fun pool, this property has so much to offer. This is the place where you can golf, fish, snorkel, workout, bike, shop or do absolutely nothing.
You can also participate in so many activities off the property. One night the hotel arranged for those who wanted a shuttle into the town of San Jose del Cabo. There was a nominal charge per person for the transportation. It was a just nice excursion to do.
I have traveled the world and stayed in many hotels of all types and styles. I highly recommend this lovely property for adults only. It was a relaxing escape.
Travel Consultant Mickey Gaona traveled to Secrets Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic in late May and was amazed by its beauty, quality of service, and variety of activities. This adult-only resort is located only 20 minutes from the airport and provides an all-inclusive and luxurious experience.
Mickey was impressed immediately with the resort’s lobby with its dramatic view straight to the ocean. Her four night stay included a swim out room with a king-size bed and relaxing chaise lounge positioned perfectly in the water. Bungalows and ocean view rooms are also available throughout the resort.
Secrets Cap Cana offers a wide range of varieties. In addition to the large buffet, there are seven specialty restaurants which include French, Italian, Japanese, and seafood options. There is also a different vibe to both pool areas. One was quiet and calm and the other more active with live music performed in the evenings.
Water sport activities such as kayaking and sail fishing are included within the resort. Golf courses in the area are easily accessible via bus transfer. And an onsite casino is in the beginning planning stages.
The decor of the resort is unique and features wood furnishing and follows current style trends. During her stay, Mickey was able to view different banquet settings including an elegant yet rustic dinner directly on the beach. ‘Every sight is beautiful and Secrets Cap Cana would be a perfect venue for a wedding,’ Mickey recommends.
To hear more of her review and to book an all-inclusive escape, email Mickey or
contact her via phone at 314-439-5700 ext. 260.
It's hard to decide what you should and shouldn't pack when heading to a new destination. Unfortunately, you usually learn the hard way when you either end up with way too much stuff, or standing in line in the resort gift shop to pay way too much for something that is suddenly very necessary.
Libby and her friend spent a week in Costa Rica, and both of them had to roll the dice when packing for their trip. There were definitely some unnecessary items that made the trip, but Libby has a few recommendations of things that ended up being really helpful along the way...
Keen makes a pair of shoes called Uneeks. They are made for both men and women, and come in a ton of different colors. What makes them so "unique" is that they are made of just a sturdy sole and two lengths of paracord that are knotted and wrapped to cover your foot. They are certainly odd looking... the jury is out on whether they are cute in a weird way or just plain strange, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For as comfortable and functional as these are, I don't mind looking a little goofy.
My friend and I both bought a pair for our trip, and I can't imagine what we would've done without them! They worked as hiking shoes when we were trekking through the jungle (after we thoroughly bug-sprayed the shoes and our feet), and as water shoes when we were whitewater rafting and constantly switching between being in the raft and swimming in the water. There is razor-siping on the soles - meaning little lines cut into them, that allow better traction, so we had no issues with slippery rocks or other wet surfaces.
These shoes are so comfortable, and because they are made of paracord they stretch around your foot without a long break-in period. This one pair of shoes did the work of three others, so it also kept us from overpacking shoes that we'd only wear once the whole time.
Waterproof Phone Pouch
I have a lifeproof case for my iPhone that makes it waterproof and drop-proof, but my worry was more the fact that I didn't have a way to tether my phone to myself. I wanted to be able to take photos while doing all of my fun excursions, but not at the expense of my pricey and very necessary cell phone. I found these waterproof pouches online for a cheap price, and they had great ratings for how easy they are to use and how waterproof they are.
I brought one along with me when we went whitewater rafting and during our jet ski tour. I was able to put the strap around my neck and tuck the pouch in between my chest and my life vest, and when I wanted to use my phone to take pictures it was easily accessible. I had brought a Go Pro-type camera with me for another excursion, but it's hard to snap the perfect picture when you aren't as familiar with the camera. I was able to whip out my phone and take amazing pictures without being afraid of it getting lost or wet.
Photos taken through the waterproof bag:
This was one of the most debatable things on our packing list before we actually left. One excursion we did, a four-part adventure combo, recommended that we wear long pants for the day. Not sure if you've heard, but Costa Rica is HOT! The idea of running around all day in long pants sounded miserable to us. However, since we knew we would be battling bugs, and because of the nature of our activities (a zipline harness biting into your bare thigh doesn't sound like a fun thing), we decided to take their advice.
We each ended up finding a pair of tan, linen pants. The fabric is really light and breathable, and the wide-leg cut of our pants allowed air to flow easily.
We were immediately glad that we went with the long pants. Most people on our tour had shorts on, and right off the bat they were swatting at their legs and whining about bugs (insects in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle? Who knew?). Plus, everyone was feeling the burn after wearing the zipline harness and going horseback riding in shorts. We probably looked odd at first, but we stayed cool and were prepared for anything the day could throw at us.
For more advice about Costa Rica travel, contact one of our specialists
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
In the 60 years since Brentwood Travel was founded in 1957, we've grown into the largest, full-service travel agency in the Greater St. Louis area. No matter what your travel needs may be, our consultants will be able to assist you.