'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!
Of the survey respondents, 43 percent said world events such as terrorism, protests, and election results have had “little to no change” in their travel bookings for 2017 and 2018. Thirty-four percent of the respondents indicated their clients were placing a greater reliance on booking with a travel professional; 32 percent noted an increased interest in lesser-known destinations for their vacations; and 31 percent reported an increase in travel insurance bookings. Members could choose multiple answers for the question.
“These positive survey results tell us that in spite of some very challenging world events – both natural and manmade – most consumers are resolute in carrying through with their travel plans,” said Stephanie Turner, President & CEO of Brentwood Travel. “We’re particularly encouraged by the metrics that showcase a travel advisor’s expertise because this tells us consumers understand a professional’s value given our world’s ever-changing conditions.”
In addition, the appeal of experiential travel continues to resonate with consumers. When asked what is more important to the majority of clients – price or experience – the latter was the clear preference as 70 percent of respondents selected experience, compared to a distant 30 percent opting for price.
Survey results also indicate 2018 to be a banner year ahead across all travel segments, with 66 percent of respondents expecting total travel bookings to increase compared to an already strong 2017 where 64 percent of those questioned expect bookings to be up this year.
To find out how to book your next trip with one of our excellent Travel Consultants, please contact us at 314-439-5700 or via email.
What are the real facts about REAL ID? REAL ID has been around since 2005 and is a federal mandate requiring that every state must issue more secure ID cards to its residents. This will effect the type of identification needed for air travel but luckily there is time to get ready for this change for Missouri travelers.
For a license or identification card to be REAL ID compliant, the state issuing it must incorporate anti-counterfeit technology into the card, verify the applicant’s identity, and conduct background checks for employees involved in issuing driver’s licenses.
Starting October 1, 2020 every air traveler will need a REAL ID compliant license for domestic air travel. A new Missouri law took effect this past August and gives residents the option to receive a compliant driver's license well before this deadline takes place. Visit the Missouri Department of Revenue website for up-to-date information on how to apply for a REAL ID compliant card.
Right now travelers do not need to adjust their travel plans or rush out to get a new driver’s license or a passport for domestic air travel. Residents of all states are still able to use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card for domestic air travel.
The Transportation Security Administrator also lists 15 alternatives that will also be accepted at airport security checkpoints after the REAL ID mandate is in effect. And the Transportation Security Administration will not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States.
Even if you don’t have proper ID, Transportation Security Administration rules clarify that you may be allowed to fly. You will need to complete a form with your name and current address or may be asked additional questions to confirm your identity. The Transportation Security Administrator can also confirm your identity through a publicly available database.
If you are concerned that your state-issued driver’s license or photo ID may not be accepted by TSA, we recommend that you apply for a REAL ID compliant card ahead of your planned travel dates. Our experienced travel consultants are available at 314-439-5700 to help you navigate all of these upcoming changes.
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.
Our first step was finding the right company to do this with. There are only 500 trail permits admitted each day for the trail so you need a licensed guide for the trek. G Adventures was the right choice for us because we wanted a small group tour that was reputable and fit our needs. After about 50 trips to REI, I had all of the right gear to hike but I still needed the support of a great company to get me there.
I was more than impressed with how amazing the porters, cooks, and guides were along the trek. I still am not sure how the 5 ft tall porters could break down camp, pack up our tents, carry their body weight on their back, run past me on the trail, and have the next camp set up all before I arrived after carrying about 5 lbs on my back! The cooks prepared some delicious meals and even a cake for a Honeymoon couple on our trip!
Hiking the Inca Trail was truly an incredible experience for me. I know that this is not everyone's style of traveling so G Adventures also offers trips in more of a comfort level such as trips for younger travelers only, itineraries paired with National Geographic, family options and even Marine cruises.
What I enjoyed most about traveling with G Adventures was the small group experience and the special local touches. We visited the Ccaccaccollo Community and Women's Weaving Co-op where we saw the traditional ways of clothing making. We also had a beyond delicious lunch at the Parwa Community Restaurant in the Sacred Valley. These places were unexpected highlights made possible by G Adventures!
Part 2: Emily's G Adventure to Costa Rica
"Cathy Robinson put together a FABULOUS Alaskan experience for Elaine and me (Bruce).
We did the 11 day Alaskan tour, with four days on land and a seven day Inland Passage cruise on the Coral Princess. Upon arrival in Fairbanks, we were greeted by Princess staff and received our welcome packet. We were surprised by the “Meet Me Onboard” request to send a suitcase ahead to the ship. We did NOT pack a separate bag for this, so we spent a lot of time ‘repacking’ one of our suitcases. That was a minor inconvenience, as the remainder of the trip was trouble free! Our luggage was delivered to our rooms by the time we arrived at the hotels/ship.
The Discovery III riverboat cruise was the best excursion of the trip. The ship was equipped with a great sound system and video monitors, so all onboard could see and hear all narration. There were fascinating bits of information. Iditarod training camp and fishing village info was easy to hear and see. We really enjoyed that.
The Tundra Wilderness Tour was awe inspiring! The vastness of Alaska was prominently displayed and we got to see several species of wildlife – from afar. We also got to see all of Mt. Denali. We joined the 30% club of visitors that got to see the entire mountain top.
The two Princess lodges were beautiful. They were rustic looking and very accommodating. We purchased the on land food package and certainly got our money’s worth. We could order anything on the menus, with no exceptions. All the food tasted great. The bus drivers for excursions were all courteous and explained in detail what we were seeing and some history of the area. Despite the rain, the train ride to Whittier was entertaining and visually stunning.
The Coral Princess was clean and the staff was VERY friendly and again, the food was really delicious. We did purchase the ‘all beverage’ package on the ship and that worked out well. We had no questions on any drink we could order including call drinks.
There was a lot of notice of invo-virus and signs to wash hands frequently. There were Purell hand sanitizers by all restaurants, shops, elevator lobbies and stairwells. However, they were not ‘forcing’ you to sanitize before entering restaurants – especially the buffet (sanitizing was mandatory on other cruise lines we have sailed). We recommend sanitizing hands before and after dining
They brought naturalists on board to discuss what we were seeing in Glacier Bay and as we entered and cruised the Inland Waterway. They were very informative and helped all to view humpback whales, sea otters and Orca killer whales during our journey.
The shore excursion disembarkments were well coordinated. We had no delays leaving or re-entering the ship. The meeting points on shore were well marked. Bus drivers to and from the excursions were informative and very helpful with participants with disabilities, or problems getting on/off the buses.
Our three shore excursions were:
This was our first trip to Alaska and our first time on Princess Cruise Line. We will not hesitate to recommend Brentwood Travel to our friends and we will have them coordinate our next major travel event."
Start planning your Alaska adventure by emailing Cathy or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 114.
Since I was 7 years old the one place I've wanted to see more than anywhere in the world is Paris, France. After 20 years of waiting, my wish finally came true and my husband and I traveled to Paris with Monograms, which is part of the Globus Family of Brands. It was hands down the most incredible week of my life and it lived up to everything I'd ever dreamed it would be and more.
My husband and I consider ourselves more of independent travelers - we like to do what we want, when we want. Monograms gave us the freedom to be the travelers we are while making the trip easier than we could've imagined.
When we arrived at Charles De Gaulle Airport it was madness. There were so many people everywhere and if it wasn't for the included airport transfer with Monograms we would've been completely lost. A Monograms rep was waiting for us with a "Welcome" sign and they took us straight to our hotel. During the car ride our driver was friendly and provided incredible advice about Paris and what we should do on our trip.
Once we pulled up to our centrally located hotel, Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacre Coeur, the Monograms Local Host, Julie, greeted us outside and escorted us into the lobby. Julie presented all the information we needed for our exciting week ahead and explained how to use the metro system for the easiest way to get around. Without her assistance we wouldn't have had such ease navigating the city.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
On our first full day at our leisure we decided to go to the Palace of Versailles. This is an absolute MUST when visiting Paris. This excursion actually turned into one of our favorite days of the whole trip. We purchased skip the line tickets in advance and I'm so glad we did. The wait was over 4 hours long for those who didn't! Our visit was a guided tour filled with the most incredible details you could imagine. The amount of knowledge the guides have is unreal and we learned so much during our tour.
The Palace is filled with gold, marble, elaborate fabrics, statues, paintings, crystals and everything in between. We couldn't stop taking pictures of every detail we saw - it was all so glamorous and ornate!
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
My husband and I are huge Disney fans so we naturally had to spend a day at Disneyland Paris! There are two parks - Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney Studios. We only had enough time for Magic Kingdom but if you're able to stay more than one day I highly recommend going to both.
Disneyland Paris is celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year so the whole park was decorated in blue. For those who have been to a Disney park before you'll hardly notice that many differences, they did a great job keeping everything consistent with the American parks. However, this is still in France so it was pretty fun to hear the French language worked in to some of the rides and songs!
Thursday, August 17, 2017
On this day we went to Giverny to visit the home of Claude Monet. This was one of the more important days on our trip due to the significance of Monet in my life. In first grade we did a year-long class project over France, where we studied French culture and art. I fell in love with Claude Monet and each student wrote a book about his life. After all these years I kept my book and I took it with me to his home.
The gardens and his home were absolutely stunning. As we walked around I couldn't believe how large the garden was and just how many plants and flowers were on Monet's property. We only had two hours in Giverny but we could've spent an entire day there exploring. I would go back in a heartbeat.
After the tour of the Palace we ran into "Bag O' Nails Pub" for a quick pint and fish and chips (when in Rome, right?) to energize and we then headed to Big Ben. We were very lucky to be some of the last people hear the tower ring as it's now silent for the next four years for refurbishment. After a quick visit we did some shopping for souvenirs on Oxford Street and then left for King's Cross Station. My husband and I also love Harry Potter so it was important to us to see where Harry and the gang entered the Wizarding World.
My week trip to Paris and London was the best week of my life and I wish I could've had time for more. Now that I've had a taste of Europe I can't wait to go back and see it all! I highly recommend this trip to everyone and traveling with Monograms is the way to do it.
Call one of our expert Travel Consultants to book your package with Monograms at 314-439-5700!
Missouri is well known as the Show Me State and we will receive quite a show on August 21, 2017. An eclipse extravaganza will cross through our state for a once in a lifetime experience.
A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely blocks the solar disk. During totality, it will get as dark as night. Missouri will experience as much as 3 hours of the partial eclipse and 2 minutes and 30 seconds of totality.
The Sun’s diameter is 400 times that of the Moon. The Sun is also about 400 times farther away. As a result, the two bodies appear almost exactly the same size in the sky. This truly remarkable coincidence is what creates a total solar eclipse.
You may experience strange things during a total solar eclipse. Shadows will look eerie and breezes may vanish. A 10°–15° F drop in temperature is not unusual. And bright stars and planets may be also be visible!
About five seconds before totality, Baily's beads will appear. They are little bead-like blobs of light at the edge of the Moon. They are created because gaps in the mountains and valleys on the Moon's surface allow sunlight to pass through in some places but not others.
A Brief History of Total Solar Eclipses
The word eclipse comes from ekleipsis, the ancient Greek word for being abandoned. Surviving records have shown that the Babylonians were able to predict solar eclipse as early as 2500 BC. The ancient Chinese were the first to document a total solar eclipse and explained their occurance as a celestial dragon devouring the sun.
The wonder of a solar eclipse lead to myths and folklore being created throughout many cultures. The Batammaliba people in Africa see each eclipse as an opportunity to end old feuds. The myth is that an eclipse is caused by fighting between the sun and the moon. When an eclipse occurs, the Batammaliba come together as a community and try to end their own fighting as a way of encouraging the sun and moon to do the same.
The last time a total solar eclipse occurred over Missouri was in 1442. The Osage people still ruled this region and Columbus had not even been born yet. The next eclipse over our area will be in 2505 which is 488 years away, making this viewing truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Protect Your Eyes During the Eclipse
A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime:
To learn more on eye safety during a total solar eclipse, click here. And be sure to follow us on Facebook on Monday, August 21 as we post live updates during The Great American Eclipse event.
"Cynthia Friedenberg's attention to the needs of her customers is outstanding. Last year I mentioned a desire to combine some time in London and cruise the Norwegian fjords. Months after that conversation, she contacted me with news of the perfect cruise to meet my travel desires.
Oceania had introduced a new 11-day itinerary, including five days visiting the fjords, departing from Southampton and returning to Southampton. My husband and I happily booked the trip.
Transfers went smoothly, our hotel in London was in a good location and lovely. The Oceana Marina offered a superior shipboard experience.
Thanks to the planning of Ms. Friedenberg, an outstanding travel agent, our entire trip was perfect."
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.