UPDATE: Mamas, just fyi… if you’re booking a trip during 2018 (even if the trip isn’t scheduled until after the year is over), feel free to use this special code to get $100 off the cost of your trip booked through BlueSun Vacations. Here’s the discount code you can use: BLUESUNMAMAS18. Here’s the phone number to use: 479-957-9647 . (Happy traveling!)
Woo-hooo! Our vacation countdown is in full swing, mamas. Shannon and I are taking our husbands to the beach next month to celebrate our 10th work anniversary of running nwaMotherlode.com. Full disclosure: We’ll be staying at a beautiful resort called El Dorado Maroma at no cost because we’ll be touring and writing about our experience there, but we are paying our own transportation costs for the trip.
We’re using BlueSun Vacations (founded in Fayetteville five years ago) for all the vacation planning and bookings. (Click here if you missed last week’s post about why we’re using a travel agency like BlueSun for this trip.) Through our research, we learned that travelers pay the exact same amount for booking through a travel agent like BlueSun than they would if they did all the legwork and bookings on their own with a website like Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, etc.
Since the cost is the same, we’re more than happy to let a true travel professional (called “BeachMasters” at BlueSun) handle all the planning, research, bookings, and detail management for us. Our BeachMaster’s name is Matt Brelsford (fun guy in the cool hat), and he has made this whole vacation on-ramp so much smoother and more enjoyable. He booked the resort, the airline tickets, filled us in on how to get our passports expedited, and has told us so much about this beautiful place we’re about to go. (He has been there himself and personally recommended it.)
Each travel agency is different, but BlueSun prefers to specialize in beach vacations. If you love the sun, a fruity drink, gorgeous scenery, or the laid-back vibe of island life, they can get you to a gorgeous spot. Here’s a list of BlueSun’s specialty destinations, which are home to some of the best beaches in the world:
- Dominican Republic
What’s the planning process like?
BeachMasters go through a series of steps while planning an epic vacation, and the first step involves an interview. But that interview is not just basic things like “When do you want to go?” Our BeachMaster, Matt, asked us things like “What did you like most about your favorite vacation you’ve ever taken?” “Do you want a family-friendly resort or one that’s for couples only?” “What are your favorite things to do on vacation?”
Once they’ve collected those insights from their guests, they suggest a particular destination and resort that fits best with what the guest is looking for. Matt said some guests have specific ideas of what they want, and others call him up and say something like “I have this much money to spend for a trip to celebrate my anniversary. Plan something for me.”
Regardless of how hands-on a guest wants to be, one of the biggest perks of using a service like BlueSun is that you only have to deal with ONE person, who keeps track of all the details surrounding your trip. You can reach that person via phone call (with none of those annoying automated answering services). Or you can call the BeachMaster’s cell phone, send an email or a text.
What about the costs?
As we mentioned above, there is no extra charge for using a travel agency like BlueSun. Matt said they are always crystal clear about vacation costs because they want guests to know exactly what to expect. With the all-inclusive resorts where many of BlueSun guests go, the vast majority of costs are built into one price. The only things that represent an additional charge are:
- Travel insurance
- Fees for checked bags on flights
- Extra excursions at the resort
Note: Matt told us that one of the biggest perks of using a travel agency like BlueSun is the ability to take advantage of special deals that only travel agents are offered. For example, BlueSun has a relationship with a vacation wholesaler which often provides exclusive promotions on certain trips. They make those promotions available to BlueSun, which then makes those trips available to guests at lower prices.
Is travel insurance really worth it?
- Help cover medical costs if you are injured or sick during an overseas trip. (This is important because some insurance plans don’t cover medical care needed overseas. You should check on your plan before you travel.)
- Allow you to reschedule with no change fees if bad weather (like a hurricane) happens at the time of your planned trip.
- Reimburse you for any damages done to your luggage during your trip.
- Allow you to cancel the trip completely with no questions asked.
Travel insurance typically adds about $100 to $120 per person onto the cost of the trip. But it does give some peace of mind to know that, if you or someone in your family gets sick or injured the day before the trip, you can cancel with no worries about losing a lot of money or paying big change fees. As most moms know, it pays to “expect the unexpected.”
Where are the mamas going?
On the advice of our BeachMaster, Matt, we’re taking our husbands to an all-inclusive resort called El Dorado Maroma which is located on a powder white beach in the Riveria Maya area of Mexico. Most of the people who work at BlueSun have visited this resort in person, and we hear nothing but incredible things about it.
We’ve also read a ton of reviews about the resort posted by other travelers, and the reviews are stellar! We’re especially impressed by how many reviewers mention the level of customer service and how the staff at the resort really do go above and beyond to make sure their guests have an incredible time. We know that, no matter how pretty the beach is, it’s really people who make the biggest difference in the quality of a trip.
Here are a few more photos of where we’re heading next month. We’ll admit that we’ve been staring at these photos lately, looking forward to the day when we’ll be in a lounge chair with a great “beach read” novel, a fruity drink perched nearby, and nothing but time on our hands to enjoy these gorgeous views.
According to BeachMaster Matt, the food at El Dorado Maroma is incredible and a favorite among foodie travelers. Below is a photo of one of several restaurants at the resort.If you’re planning to book a trip during 2018 (even if you’re not actually traveling until 2019), you can use the discount code we have for BlueSun guests. It will give you $100 off! The discount code to use is BLUESUNMAMAS18. For more info about BlueSun or to talk to your very own BeachMaster about vacation plans, call BlueSun at 479-957-9647 or click HERE to visit the BlueSun website.