Jodi and Ryan, clients of Senior Travel Consultant Leigh Cardwell, recently returned home from their stay at the Valentin Resort in Playa del Carmen. Jodi planned the trip with Leigh as a surprise for Ryan and they had an amazing time during their relaxing stay. Check out their Rave Review and vacation pictures below!
"I cannot adequately explain how beautiful and truly amazing the Valentin Resort was. It really took all 7 days to take advantage of all the resort has to offer, but we could EASILY spend 2 weeks there and not get tired of a restaurant, the beach, the pool, etc. There is just always an incredible variety of things to do. We LOVED that the resort was so fitness-friendly as well – they had a good mix of activities on the schedule every day and Ryan definitely took advantage of more than I did. He took several of the classes offered and played water volleyball 3 or 4 times.
We decided to take 3 excursions since it was our first time there together. Ryan visited Playa del Carmen once before but he never left the resort he was at. I thought it would be worth getting out to see some different places and I am glad that we did. We had so much fun! We went sailing to Ilsa Mujeres, visited Chichen Itza, and went swimming in the cenotes. We also did some snorkeling but it wasn’t that great – the sea and currents were just too rough during the week we were there. Because of that, we skipped Cozumel. We’re okay with that, though, and may try that next time
We have decided that we are going to make this an annual trip and we are definitely going to stay at the Valentin again! We have blocked Feb 1 – 8, 2021 on our calendars already! Lol. We’re going to try to coordinate with some other couples to go with us as well. We met so many wonderful people on the trip and everyone who stayed at Valentin said they keep going back there because it is their favorite resort in the area. I believe them. Just Incredible!!!
We figure that next visit we will stay on the resort more and really get to know the staff. They were just so completely Wonderful!
Thank you again for all of your help in making this trip possible and a nice surprise for Ryan. The flights were easy, the transportation to and from the hotel was superb, all of the logistics were smooth and on time… We literally didn’t have to do any work or manage anything (other than our tequila intake!). This was easily the best vacation either of us has ever had!"
- Jodi M.
Ready to start planning your vacation to Playa del Carmen? Contact Leigh Cardwell today!
Call her 314-439-5700 ext. 131 or email her
Hannah and Mario, clients of Travel Consultant Christine Wolff, recently returned home from their stay at Now Emerald Cancun. They had an amazing time planning their trip with Christine and escaping the St. Louis cold for a couple days. Check out their Rave Review and vacation pictures below!
"My boyfriend and I wanted a quick getaway to a warm climate in Wintry February. I reached out to Christine through the Brentwood Travel website and she was so quick to respond, and really listened to what we wanted. She kept us informed of any updates to our travel plans and sent a very detailed information packet prior to our trip. We arrived, found our transportation easily, and checked in to our resort, Now Emerald Cancun, without any issues. Christine helped us secure a ocean view room with a balcony! The beach, the pools, the people, were exactly as we expected, and often times above our expectations.
I will continue to work with Christine, and I even referred my sister to her already!"
- Hannah W.
Interested in escaping the cold? Contact Christine Wolff today!
Call her 314-439-5700 ext. 134 or email her
Clients of Travel Consultant Christine Wolff recently returned home from their 4-night honeymoon in Cancun, Mexico. They had an amazing time staying at Secrets Maroma Beach. Check out their wonderful review of their time in Mexico and see their gorgeous beach pictures down below!
"Thank you so much [Christine] for the lovely card - it was such a nice surprise to come home to! The trip and resort wildly surpassed my expectations - it was truly the best trip my husband and I have ever had, and it has been difficult adjusting back to normal life...even 2.5 weeks later haha. Thank you so much for making this happen for us! There wasn't a single thing about the trip I would change (except for staying longer, of course). The resort was immaculate, the food was great, and every single staff member we interacted with was so nice and helpful. I would highly recommend this resort to friends and family. Thanks again for everything, Christine. I can't express how happy this trip made us." - Kayla W.
Ready to plan your perfect honeymoon? Contact Christine Wolff today!
Call her 314-439-5700 ext. 134 or email her
"Christine was amazing to work with! She made sure I selected the correct group trip for the first half of my Euro trip (Contiki®), and ensured all my flights and housing accommodations went exactly as planned. I was able to be off the cuff as my travel itinerary changed, yet she helped me work out all destination transitions seamlessly. Everything was more than you could hope for! I went through 12 countries in 8 weeks traveling alone and was completely comfortable the whole time. What an amazing experience to say the least! I would 100% go back to Christine and Brentwood Travel for my next adventure!" - Jack D.
Are you interested in a solo trip to Europe?
Call Christine Hakenjos 314-439-5700 ext. 134 or email her!
"We had an amazing trip to Cabo! This was our first time to Cabo, though we have been to other Mexican resorts. The weather was amazing. Other than getting drenched while getting to our transfer from the airport, we didn't see a single drop of rain the entire week. It was sunny and HOT, which is exactly how we wanted it. I don't know what the typical temps are for September, but I had been watching the weather all summer, and it seemed the week we were there was the hottest it had been all summer!
The landscape of the beach and mountains was incredible! I have been to Riviera Maya a couple times, but in terms of climate and scenery, I liked Cabo better.
Secrets Resort was beautiful! The staff was so friendly. We paid for the Preferred Club, and we are SO glad we did. The beach was too dangerous to swim, so we spent most of our time at the Preferred Club pool... doing nothing and drinking cocktails, which was exactly what we wanted. It was worth it just to have a quiet, secluded pool with more personal service where we got to know the staff better. Plus the view from the pool onto the beach and mountains was spectacular. And as someone who is often too cold to swim, I thought the pool temperature was just right!
One night we went on a Sunset Sail out of Cabo San Lucas. Our driver was friendly, and we stopped at the Baja Point to take a couple pictures. The sail was amazing. The drinks and food we got weren't much to write home about, but the staff made the whole outing really fun, and the views were amazing. We sailed out past the famous Arch and took pictures right at sunset, then sailed back. It was the perfect excursion for us because we wanted to spend most of our time doing nothing at the pool/beach.
Our favorite restaurant at Secrets was the Asian restaurant. We also enjoyed the breakfast and lunch buffets. The Italian restaurant had the most romantic and formal atmosphere, so we went there for our anniversary. Our server made sure we had a great experience, and he brought us a special anniversary dessert. Another perk of the preferred club was a la carte breakfast at Oceana, which looks out over the Preferred Club pool with a 180 view of the beach and mountains! I'm hungry for the french toast just thinking about it.
In the evenings, we usually checked out the nightly entertainment, which was actually really good! I've been to two other resorts where the entertainment was pretty over the top. At Secrets there was no theater, so they brought in actual entertainment teams (Mexican band, fire throwers, etc.) and there were really talented! We also usually sat at the Rendezvous bar (main lobby). The bartenders there made the best cocktails and were fun to watch. Plus the whole bar is inside a bird cage!
We loved our time in Cabo and definitely plan to return someday... wish it was next week!"
- Cheri and Patrick L.
Clients of Ashley Curry recently returned home from Spain. They had a great time seeing all the beautiful sites Spain has to offer! Keep reading to hear the details of their wonderful trip and to see their pictures!
"The transportation was perfect! All flights, trains and transfers (nice touch, by the way) were like clockwork. We never had to wait because everything and everyone on time. Having cars waiting to pick us up was a great de-stresser!
The hotel in Madrid was good. The rooms were smallish and our room had A/C issues, but the manager ultimately changed us out of the room after a day or two. The La Latina district was good as well. It was not the best area of Madrid, but convenient. We were able to walk to most places and we felt pretty safe!
The hop on/off bus was a great call! We used it as much to scope out the city as we did transportation. We got on it in the morning and stayed on it for the whole loop, talking about where we ultimately wanted to see later, then hopped as planned. This was a great way to learn a city. The high-speed train to Barcelona was a fantastic experience! Really puts Amtrak to shame. Mega-comfortable seating, flight attendants, food and drink service, internet, electricity, and super smooth 100+ mph ride. WOW!
The hotel in Barcelona was nearly perfect. It was in a supreme location, just one block off of Las Ramblas, the epicenter of life in the old city. When we checked in we were informed that they upgraded us to a full suite. When we got to the room it was a huge suite in a newly renovated section of the hotel with a private balcony. Really stunning! We ultimately decided the junior suite would better suit us, and it was perfect! A large bedroom, large bathroom with double vanity and large living room with the requisite pull-out couch. The room was on the 3rd floor and the bedroom windows faced the street. The street noise was pretty raucous but the room was fairly quiet.
We enjoyed the Hop on/off bus so much in Madrid that we did it again in Barcelona. Same way. Did both entire routes, got our bearings then set out to explore sites, among our favorites were Monjuic, Parc Gruell and if course - La Sagrada Familia. There's nothing I can say about La Sagrada Familia in less than 50,000 words so I'll just have to say, "bucket list". An awesome lifetime experience for me. We also toured other Gaudi homes. As was the tour to Montserrat. Our guide, Silvia was awesome! The winery /tapas piece was very nice but we would have opted for more time at the monastery at the expense of the vino. So much so that we actually considered going back in our own the next day. Couldn't pull it off.
Other highlights of the Barcelona leg included sampling many great dishes including Fiduea (Catalan version of paella using noodles instead of rice) botirarra and tomato bread. We also had our farewell dinner at La Barra, a recently Michelin starred restaurant in the W Hotel where we enjoyed among other things - stingray.
Thank you for your help putting this together!"
- Chris L.
Senior Travel Consultant Ashley Curry recently had clients return from a trip to Italy. They were excited to experience the beauty of Italy with their granddaughter, as the trip was to celebrate her recent graduation.
Read their rave review below!
"The cruise itself was amazing and we want to thank our Travel Consultant Stacey Hoehne for the wonderful dinner on our first night and the strawberries and champagne!
A highlight during our voyage was our balcony stateroom especially as it gave us the option to open the partition between our room and my parents which was fun! We also got up in the middle of the night while going through the inside passage and watched as we threaded that ship through a needle while sitting on our balcony in our robes. And it was a full moon that night!
One morning we were sitting out on our balcony and a humpback literally waved one of its fins at us. This was the first cruise that I’ve taken were you can see land all around most of the time. It was incredible when a momma brown bear and her 3 cubs were spotted on the shore and the captain would get us as close as he possibly could! And we spent many nights watching the sunset in the Crow’s Nest. The onboard naturalists were incredible and we all learned a lot about Alaska. The ship board credit also came in handy and we appreciated it. Food was good and service was great!
It really was a trip of a lifetime with my family and we all have awesome pictures of the trip and great memories. I believe that every single human being on this planet should see the many wonders that I saw in Alaska!”
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or send her an email
to begin planning an amazing Alaska Adventure!
July 21 -The Journey Begins
For the first part of our journey, we flew on Alaska Air to Vancouver. At the airport we got Canadian currency and flagged a cab to our hotel, the Radisson Park Inn on Broadway. Nice place. That evening we walked to Granville Island and enjoyed strolling. The hills going down to the water there like San Fran. Steep! We liked Granville and had fish and chips at a local place called Tony’s Oyster and Seafood. The area on our walk was right by the water and very nice.
July 22 – Bon Voyage
We were both very excited to board Holland America’s Westerdam. All the luggage & transfer to get on board and thru customs went well. It was really exciting getting to our state room on the ship. The Bon Voyage from Vancouver was grand. We stood on the top deck and next to us were two couples. We began to chat and the ladies said they were from St. Louis!
Emilie and I dined that night the first night in the main dining room of the ship, and I had shrimp Diablo. She had apple pie and I had crème Brulee’. After dinner we enjoyed the Main Stage entertainment on the ship. When we came back to our room, we watched a beautiful sunset. As we sailed out, everything seemed so quiet and tranquil. Our first experience on a ship. NICE!
July 23 – A Day at Sea
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up for this full day at sea. Had eggs Benedict in the main dining room and enjoyed meeting a wonderful couple from Tasmania! There was a tour group of around 25 folks from Australia. We loved this couple and ran into them throughout our sea/land journey all the way to Anchorage. We walked through the shops and a lovely art gallery. Had lunch with a couple from Toronto. There were afternoon lectures on the upcoming ports of call and then a 5:00 happy hour called “Sip & Savor”. Always looking for a cheap glass of wine, I personally enjoyed this event. The chief sommelier offers a tasting of the appetizer of the day and a glass of his choice red/white for five bucks. Appetizer – incredible! Wine – very, very good.
We ate in the main dining room and this is when we met Ann & Dennis from Rhode Island. I had escargot as an appetizer and they were incredible! I savored every bite! We enjoyed getting to know Ann & Dennis and a great meal. After the show we hit the main stage show which featured Jim Short, the Australian humorist.. Good show! As we turned in, we knew that we’d gain an extra hour of sleep as we cruised onward in the Inland Passage to our first port.
July 24 – Ketchikan, Alaska
It was neat to wake up, look out our veranda and see that we were docked! We came into port at 7AM. Had a nice breakfast and then had an hour to wander around downtown and look at a few shops. Ketchikan is the salmon capitol of the state and they also get lots of rain. They get an average of 180” of rain a season!
We enjoyed wonderful weather our entire trip. It never went over 74 degrees and we walked around Ketchikan in shirt sleeves. After our walk we got the shuttle to take us to our first excursion which was a one hour walk in the rain forest & a trip to the raptor center. Our guide in the rain forest was great!
After we got back to the city we had time to walk historic Creek Street and look inside the shops. We had a late lunch back on the ship with a lovely French couple from Montreal and then sat on the deck in the sun. It was 70 and an incredible day!
I enjoyed Sip ‘n Savor, and Dennis and Ann asked us to join them for dinner. I had crab legs for dinner and after dinner we saw the song & dance troupe again, on the Main Stage. After that we went to the Lincoln Center State to listen to the string quintet play a while. Turned in for sleep after a GREAT day.
July 25 – Juneau, Alaska
Right after breakfast I went to the Crow’s Nest and watched the ship dock. It was incredible to see how the captain came slowly into the dock and literally turned the ship around and had it bumped exactly parallel up to the dock! Our excursion did not leave until 2:00 so we had time to investigate Juneau. We walked for 2 hours and went into the state office building, walked by shops and spent a little time inside the state capitol. We got a great photo outside the capitol of William H. Seward, the guy who got Alaska from the Russians for $7,000,000. Since Emilie and I met 49 years ago in Seward, Nebraska, we enjoyed seeing the man for whom the Alaska and Nebraska sister cities is named.
We had lunch back on the ship and had time to sit on our veranda before our tour. Weather was perfect and 70 degrees! Our 2nd planned port excursion was a trip to Mendenhall Glacier and then a four hour whale watching trip. We only had about an hour at the glacier, but enjoyed seeing it, had a bear sighting and spent some time in the Park Service Visitor Center there.
Retiring to the ship, I had salmon for supper and then we stood on the deck before retiring. Great day! They say Alaska has 50,000 eagles and that 30,000 of them live in Juneau. We saw a number of eagles on our tour and near the ship. They say they are so plentiful in Juneau that the locals call them “crows”.
July 26 – Skagway
Cruising up the Inland Passage is so peaceful. The water is like a lake. We got right off the ship and hopped right onto a van that carried us out of the city and up a winding highway. We ended up in Frasier, British Columbia in Canada which was the 2nd time we needed our passports. Process was simple. Our guide stayed with us all the way and we saw lots of interesting terrain as we came back over the Dead Horse Pass and wound our way back toward Skagway.
About 5 miles north of town, we were dropped off the train with 15 other folks and three guides. The guides were young and friendly and two were EMT trained. The path into the Denver valley was very rugged with lots of roots and rocks. We had to go slow and watch all the time to avoid stumbling. Em & I ended up at the end of the group and before long the rest of our group was out of sight far ahead of us. One of the guides stayed back with us and walked with us; we really appreciated this young man and it felt like we had a personal guide as we walked at our pace.
That night at dinner I had seared kingfish with risotto and it was great. On the Main Stage we saw an incredible illusionist; he put on a phenomenal show! I’d seen this man on TV and he did some super tricks! My favorite was when he makes it snow like crazy on stage.
July 27 – Glacier Bay
This had to be one of the highlights of the cruise! Sailing into the area of the National Park, the water is like a mirror. The scenery is lovely. Tranquility. We had another picture perfect day for weather and just kept saying, “Wow!” The captain got us to four glaciers and at one of them he simply eased up near it, stopped parallel to it, and let the boat sit. For an hour we listened for the cracks and pops and then got our cameras ready. We saw the glacier calving four times and got great photos. The sound of this is really neat! Early that day, we’d picked up about 6 park rangers. They were on board, making presentations, answering questions and talking about what we were seeing. Before the captain turned the ship around 180, we literally sat on our veranda and watched all this happen.
New friends, Dennis and Ann invited us to their room for a glass of wine, and then we dined together in the main dining room. I just had to do it: steak and lobster! I thought the steak was quite good. After dinner we went to the Lincoln Center Stage where a five person string and piano ensemble played some great music.
July 28 – Day at Sea
We had no trouble with seasickness. Traveling thus far was smooth, you had to look out a window to tell we were moving. This was the day I had worried about…crossing the larger Bay of Alaska. This was the ONLY day we had rain and it really didn’t matter much. It was partly sunny most of the afternoon, 55 degrees and mostly calm sea. We stayed busy on the ship and had no motion problems.
July 29 – Disembark Ship in Seward, Alaska & Head North
We woke up early to have breakfast and to prepare to disembark. After breakfast it was fun standing on our veranda and watching the dock crews begin to unload all the luggage from the ship. They have this down to a science!
Our first stop was just south of Anchorage where we walked a bit at the Potter’s Marsh area…a large bird sanctuary. Having passed through Anchorage, we stopped for lunch at a very nice place in Wasilla. I thought that was some little town, but it is a huge bedroom community for Anchorage. On the way up to Denali, we had one more stop at an Iditarod race crossing. There was a small museum and gift shop, and one musher had his team there. Emilie was quite happy to hold one of the puppies.
July 30 – Day in the Denali National Park
We had a wonderful night’s sleep and awoke to another gorgeous morning. It was 54 degrees. Our wonderful travel agent Stacey Hoehne encouraged us to purchase a meal package at Denali. We did that and had a great dinner last night. Breakfast this morning was super! Emilie said it was the best biscuit she’d ever had; also loved the jam. With her eggs she ordered ham and the slab of ham was an inch thick! It has a huge piece, far more than she could eat. I had a splendid pecan waffle with delightful cinnamon vanilla syrup.
They say only about 30% of the tourists get to see Mt. Denali ‘cause of the clouds. It’d say we say the bottom 2/3 of the mountain. We saw one Dall sheep, a bear in the distance with two cubs, a moose with her baby and 14 caribou. Caribou were much more visible and close to the bus when sighted. In fact, when we stopped for a break, two of them walked down a roadway right behind the bathrooms where we were! We got back to the resort late and went straight to bed.
July 31 – Scenic Train from Denali to Anchorage
The train ride was another real highlight of the trip. If Glacier Bay was the high point of the cruise, this ride was the highlight of the land portion of our adventure. Luxury is the best word to describe them! The entire top of the upper seating area is glass to allow viewing. At the front of the car is a full bar. The dining car is beneath the seating area. White table cloths. First class, like on the ship.
There were hours of forested views and lovely lakes, mountains and vistas. We had a great bar tender and an absolutely fantastic guide in our car. She was a 4th grade teacher from Portland. Her ongoing commentary (along with the scenery) made these 8 hours fly by. This young gal was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. She had us laughing almost as often as that humorist on the ship.
To our surprise our Denali meal package included coupons for lunch on the train, dinner that night in Anchorage and breakfast the next morning. Nice surprise, as we thought we’d bought meals only at the resort! Sandwich in that dining car was fun and tasty.
Motor coaches took us from the train station to our hotel in Anchorage, the Westmark, downtown and owned by Holland. Like magic somehow our luggage again made it from our room in Denali to our new room here at the Westmark!
We had dinner in the hotel restaurant. Great service. Food good, but not out of the ordinary. We walked around downtown after supper and ran into Dennis & Ann. We walked about five blocks to a place called Simon & Seafood. We had a night cap and watched evening fall over the bay. The walk back to the hotel was nice, but then we had to say our final good-byes to our lovely, new friends and feel the sun setting on the last day in Alaska.
August 1 – Fly from Anchorage to Seattle
We enjoyed breakfast and there was light rain this morning. A nice motor coach took us to the airport for our 3 ½ hour Alaska Air flight to Seattle. Everything was on time and Meredith and the girls drove us home. Matt spoiled us with a glass of red wine upon our arrival and grilled steaks for us. Tacoma had lovely weather that evening and we sat by their fire pit and enjoyed talking and making s’mores.
August 3 – Home Again. Home Again…
All good things must come to an end and this was the concluding day of our vacation. Great adventure! Many, many memories. We’d taken over 250 photos, so I know we’re going to have a great photo album as well to remember these blessed and fun days! Great to be with family, to make pleasant new friends and to see so much of God’s beautiful creation!
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or send her an email
to being planning an amazing Alaska Adventure!
“I wanted to let you know how thoroughly we enjoyed our Windstar Cruise to the Greek Islands. By the second day the crew knew us by first names. We are always looking for new places to go so I'm shocked that I say 'I would do this same trip again'. We also thoroughly enjoyed the private tour that our Travel Consultant Mickey Gaona arranged for us in Kusadasi. Ephesus was our favorite part of the trip and I know our fabulous tour guide helped to make it memorable. We plan to do another journey with Windstar Cruises very soon.
Thanks for all you do for us!”
Do you have an upcoming celebration and what a unique way to mark the occasion?
Contact Mickey at 314-439-5700 Ext. 260 or email her to start planning an amazing trip!
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In the 63 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.