Best Disney Restaurants for Every Occasion

Disney destinations around the globe are known for their family-friendly attractions. But what many visitors don’t realize is that Disney restaurants are also extremely popular, and some have even won numerous culinary accolades.

From award-winning chefs and character dining to exotic cuisine and themed dining rooms, restaurants at Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland in California, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line ships, and Disney Vacation Club resorts are earning high marks from diners.

Venture away from stereotypical theme park food and you’ll find a world of interesting and memorable menus. Visitors to Disney restaurants will encounter incredible seafood, mouthwatering steaks, and delights for all palates, including those that require special diets.

Dining at any Disney location will immerse you in the theme of the restaurant. If you’re looking for fun, you can find a down-home hoedown with barbecue eats and kick-up-your-heels entertainment for the entire family to enjoy. Or, if you’d like to dine abroad but don’t want to leave the continental United States, a trip to Epcot in Florida will provide numerous restaurants in the World Showcase that offer regional specialties from around the globe; the servers are even from the represented countries, working in Epcot on an international exchange program.

Want to dine with Disney royalty? Book a character meal with Disney princesses. Looking for a romantic ambiance? You’ll find it at Disney locations worldwide — including at Remy aboard the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream cruise ships, Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian Resort in Walt Disney World, and Napa Rose nestled in the Grand Californian Resort at Disneyland.

Whether you’re looking to impress, relax, or satiate a craving, Disney restaurants offer a multitude of dining experiences. Travel with us as we visit the top Disney restaurants around the world.

Best chance to “eat in a movie:” Be Our Guest Restaurant, Walt Disney World

Beast’s Castle from Beauty and the Beast houses Walt Disney World’s Be Our Guest Restaurant, a new dining addition to the Magic Kingdom. Diners are enchanted by three dining rooms — Belle’s book-filled library, the West Wing featuring an enchanted rose and a painting of the Beast that hides a surprise, and the elegant Ballroom with views of falling snow taken directly from the film — it’s a wonder of “imagineering!” This location is also notable as it’s the only spot to order an alcoholic beverage in the Magic Kingdom.

Best Disney-shaped food: Crystal Lotus, Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney visitors quickly become accustomed to having their food served in familiar character shapes, such as a smiling Mickey face. But at the Crystal Lotus in the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, even the dim sum is presented in the form of beloved Disney characters. As an award-winning Chinese restaurant, the atmosphere is elegant and the cuisine is outstanding.

Best bar/lounge : Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, Disneyland Resort

Believe it or not, Disney Parks and Resorts offer hundreds of themed bars and lounges that are kid-friendly and offer menus of food in addition to drinks. But tucked into the Disneyland Hotel, Trader Sam’s is undoubtedly our favorite. Named after the shrunken-head-peddling “Trader Sam” from the beloved Jungle Cruise attraction, this spot offers more than meets the eye. Look for Disney references in Trader Sam’s “artifacts” while enjoying the hilarious antics of the bartenders. This spot welcomes kids until the evening, when it becomes 21-and-over.

Best for meeting princesses: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Walt Disney World

Dining inside the iconic Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom is a royal experience. Guests enter into the two-story stone foyer to meet Cinderella, then proceed to the red-carpeted, winding staircase to the dining room of Cinderella’s Royal Table. You’re surrounded by finery, including royal flags, huge chandeliers, and stained-glass windows that look out onto your “royal subjects” who are playing their day away in the Kingdom. As you dine, Disney princesses (and sometimes a prince or two!) hobnob with each visiting family. Book dinner in the castle during the fireworks to get a unique view.

Best “fast food:” Plaza Inn, Disneyland Resort

Disneyland’s historic Plaza Inn is set on Main Street, U.S.A. within view of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Featuring Victorian décor and a gorgeous outdoor patio, this is a spot Walt Disney himself liked to frequent during his days in Disneyland. Whether you dine indoors or outside, your quick-service meal should absolutely include the cult favorite fried chicken with all the trimmings — it’s among the best we’ve had. And the desserts are well worth trying. The food and ambiance here are on par with many casual, sit-down restaurant offerings.

Best immersive theming: Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, Walt Disney World

For a truly unique experience, head to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests are often amazed as they walk inside a massive dining room imagineered to resemble a vintage drive-in movie at twilight — twinkling stars and all. But it gets better: guests are seated at “tables” that look and feel like 1950s convertible cars (two guests get the front seat, and two guests get the back in most of these cars). After the car hop takes your order, watch the clips on the screen featuring old news reels, silly horror flicks, and classic cartoons.

Best family experience: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Walt Disney World

Families looking for comfort food and an unforgettable experience for all generations will feel right at home at Pioneer Hall at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Inside, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue — an historic musical showcase that’s been going strong since Disney World first opened its gates — plays to sold-out crowds every night of the year. Fasten your kerchiefs and get ready to dig into all-you-can-eat buckets of fried chicken, barbecue ribs, cornbread, and decadent strawberry shortcake. Mom and Dad also get to indulge in endless beer, wine, and sangria. This is a tradition for many families who keep coming back year after year.

Best waterside show: Oceano, Tokyo Disneyland Resort

Oceano at Tokyo DisneySea in the Hotel MiraCosta offers a Mediterranean menu with a choice of a buffet or table-service experience in separate dining rooms. It provides a gorgeous atmosphere and a great view of the Mediterranean Harbor, but the main draw for us here is the epic water show “Legend of Mythica,” which can be thoroughly enjoyed from the restaurant’s exclusive viewing platform!

Best for special occasions: Napa Rose, Disneyland Resort

Napa Rose inside the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa offers a seasonal, market-inspired menu. There are tables tucked away in nooks and crannies for those hoping for a more private, romantic experience; but we also love to book the Chef’s Counter, where guests have a close-up view of the open kitchen and may get to sample a few of the dishes-in-progress. Either way, your experience will be capped with impeccable service, a top-notch wine list, and unforgettable food.

Most interesting atmosphere: Magellan’s, Tokyo Disneyland Resort

Magellan’s at Tokyo DisneySea is known for its stunning theme dedicated to explorer and navigator Ferdinand Magellan. “Props” themed to astronomy and exploration are featured throughout the fortress-like venue, which is centered on an Old World globe in a two-story dining room with balcony seating. While the elegant atmosphere is exceptional, the multi-course meals are also noteworthy.

Best steakhouse: Steakhouse 55, Disneyland Resort

This place is a classic. Located in the Disneyland Hotel, Steakhouse 55 exudes Hollywood glamor in a refined and memorable setting. Perfectly cooked steaks are the specialty of the house — there are no frills here! — and if you’re a meat and potatoes fan, you won’t leave disappointed. Ask the expert sommelier to pair a wine with your signature entrée, and don’t forget to save room for the towering 24-layer chocolate cake for dessert.

Best beach and ocean view: ‘AMA’AMA, Disney’s Aulani Resort

What’s better than sitting on a Hawaiian beach feeling the ocean breeze? Eating there, that’s what! Known for Hawaiian cuisine and sweeping ocean views, ‘AMA’AMA is located at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii. From the open-air tables, the view of the beach and Pacific Ocean are breathtaking. We recommend a dinner reservation at sunset.

Most exclusive: Club 33, Disneyland Resort

Club 33 is a members-only club with a years-long waiting list. Located in New Orleans Square of Disneyland, this hidden gem was designed by Walt Disney himself as a tranquil location to hold important meetings and entertain friends. If you want to dine here, you’ll need a reservation made by a member. But once inside, it’s a treasure trove of authentic Disney history. Walt and Lillian Disney shopped for much of the décor themselves, and some of the original “Imagineering” still remains. Be sure to ask for a tour when you’re there.

Best seafood: Flying Fish Café, Walt Disney World

This is a tough one to rank, as seafood can be great in so many Disney restaurants. But our pick for most consistently excellent seafood goes to Flying Fish. But what we love most is that the mouthwatering menu includes several incredible options for land lovers as well, so your group will find something for everyone here. Located at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort, this restaurant is situated along Crescent Lake and boasts whimsical décor, an open kitchen, and fresh seafood specialties.

Best way to eat in a ride attraction: Blue Lagoon, Disneyland Resort Paris

Swashbucklers (and hungry guests) should make reservations to dine at the “waterside” Blue Lagoon inside Disneyland Paris — the restaurant overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Serving exotic fish and Creole dishes, the moonlit atmosphere, twinkling fireflies, and boats floating by create an enchanting environment. You can get a similar experience at Blue Bayou in Disneyland stateside as well!

Best character dining experience : Chef Mickey’s, Walt Disney World

While it’s not necessarily the best food in any theme park, the opportunity to get autographs from all of the “Fab Five” characters is not to be missed for any new Disney character-hunter. Chef Mickey’s is in the middle of the main concourse in Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which means you’ll get to watch Monorails whooshing overhead as you sing and dance with your favorite pals — Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. The buffet food and copious desserts will please any young guest, and the grown-ups seem to enjoy it, too. Once you’ve done this one, you may prefer several of the other character meals for food and atmosphere, but snagging all five autographs in one meal will save you priceless hours waiting in line in the parks.

Article via USA Today.

What would an American-US Airways merger mean for you?

The boards of US Airways and American parent AMR have voted to merge. The deal still has some hurdles to clear, but the deal would bring big changes to many U.S. travelers if it closes. Here are some things you can expect in a merger between American and US Airways.

Is it safe to buy tickets on these airlines?

Definitely. It will likely take the airlines months to win approvals and close on the merger. And, even once (if) that happens, it still will take many months to combine operations. During that time, each carrier would continue to operate normally. That includes selling their own tickets and operating their own flights. Once the airlines are ready to combine, the newly merged carrier would honor all future tickets sold on either one.

What name would the new carrier take?

American in all likelihood. Although US Airways’ management will have many of the top jobs in the merged airline, CEO Doug Parker and other US Airways executives are on record as saying that they will assume the American name and brand. They’ve also said they intend to move the company’s headquarters from Arizona to American’s current location in Texas.

Are my miles safe?

This is one of the top questions people want to know any time there’s a merger. Fortunately, the answer is “yes.” Mileage programs are a key perk airlines use to hold onto their top customers, and the new “merged” American won’t risk alienating any of those customers by not honoring the “other side’s” miles in a merger. It would take several months – maybe even a year – from the time a merger closes, but the carriers eventually will consolidate their frequent-flier programs and merge the accounts of fliers who have miles with both airlines.

Which frequent-flier alliance will the carrier be in?

oneworld. US Airways is currently in the Star Alliance, but CEO Parker has been clear that the merged airline would hitch its wagon to the oneworld group that American helped found. Even other members of oneworld – such as British Airways’ chief Willie Walsh – have openly said American would have more to offer oneworld if it merged with US Airways.

Would the merger be good or bad for frequent fliers?

As with any merger, there would be changes that cut both ways. One of the most obvious improvements would be an increased number of international destinations available to frequent fliers.

More broadly, American’s AAdvantage program is widely regarded as one of the best loyalty programs in the world. The program has many options to earn miles, and AA is considered to be among the easiest U.S. airlines for redeeming miles for award tickets. American also allows customers the option to redeem miles for one-way award tickets by using just half the miles needed for a one-way trip – an option that would surely be well-received by US Airways’ frequent fliers if that carries over to the merger carrier.

As for US Airways, its Dividend Miles frequent-flier program is solid — if not among the world’s best. It does have its perks, though, such as low-mileage off-peak award tickets that give members great deals for winter trips to Europe.

The biggest fear would be if the airline raised the miles needed for award tickets, but observers expect the airline won’t make such a move, at least early on, as it tries to placate customers worried about the merger.

Will fares go up?

Yes, that’s likely on some routes. However, one recent study by professional services firm PwC US suggests that the two previous big airline mergers (Delta-Northwest and United-Continental) have not produced the across-the-board price increases many had feared. And, proponents of “consolidation” argue that creating a third big “global” U.S. airline could actually help keep fares in check by preventing United and Delta from becoming a duopoly that can dictate fares.

Reprinted from USA Today

Just back from Punta Cana, and we’re not sick!

We just returned from a nine-day trip to the Dominican Republic, spending a very nice week under the sun at Dreams Punta Cana and Excellence Punta Cana. We had excellent service, the food was very good, the beach was large, the ocean was inviting, the pool was crystal clear, and the people were top notch.

But *gasp* it’s the Dominican Republic! It’s on the same island as Haiti! It’s the epicenter of worldwide malaria outbreaks! You can’t drink the water! It’s where pirates were based for Pete’s sake!

Oh my, if I had a nickel for every time someone said to us, as an agency, that they didn’t want to travel to the DR for one reason or another, I’d have quit the business long ago, bought a catamaran, and sailed off into the Caribbean sunset…along with several bagfuls of extra nickels.

I was there with my family (wife, two kids, and parents) for an entire week. And you know what? No one got sick…no one was mugged…no one contracted malaria, or dengue fever, or the plague, or whatever other rumors may be out there… It was just an excellent vacation week in one of the Caribbean’s hidden gems, Punta Cana. And this was my kids’ fifth trip to the Dominican, without even a runny nose.

But *gasp* you’re in the travel business, you know how to avoid the plague, the pirates, the earthquakes! Well, not entirely. I do know how to avoid the pirates, yes, but that’s another story.

No, we all drank the water, we all had showers and brushed our teeth with the water from the tap, we all had some type of frozen drink (using the ice, another terrible rumor…anyway, can you imagine a frozen margarita without ice? *Shudder*). We even, and I love this rumor, ate actual salad that had probably been washed in water!

Yes, it’s true that many people get sick on vacation – and you may be one of them, and it may have happened in Punta Cana. However to immediately chalk that up to unfounded scary rumors about the destination is unfair to the destination, the hotel companies, and maybe most importantly the people working in those destinations. And they are rumors, not facts. Don’t drink the water? Puh-leeze. If that were true, and drinking the water/eating the ice or salad made people sick on a consistent basis, the hotels, and the destination, would have gone under years ago. Seriously…if Montezuma’s revenge struck even 1% of people traveling to Cancun, they’d close up shop before you can say Chichen Itza…or Chicken Pizza.

Think about it…the hotel we stayed at has 600 rooms, and were over 90% full, averaging just over two people per room. That’s (brain ticking and smoking) somewhere around 1,200 people here…each week. At this hotel alone, which is one of over thirty 4-star and up resorts we feature on our site. So (brain still smoking) let’s call it 16,000 people per week (keeping in mind only at hotels we send guests to, so I’m shooting low) during peak time. Keep calculating…call off-peak 60% occupancy (and I’ll have to do the complex math for what weeks are peak…trust me), that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 600,000 guests per year. Guess how many people contracted malaria (the ‘big’ media scare for the Dominican Republic) in the resort areas during the last so-calledoutbreak year” of 2004? 5,000? 1,000? Maybe 600, or one-tenth of one percent? Nope, you’re still a little high. It was 17. Yep, 17. Which is less than one-third of the number of cases reported every year in Florida.

Do you know what causes most sicknesses while on vacation? I’ve actually asked several on-site nurses in different destinations over the years…I’m by no means a doctor, but I sometimes have to play one (along with weatherman) for our clients. Most guest illness is caused by overdrinking combined with oversunning. Yes, the five mojitos at the pool bar, combined with the six beers on the beach, added to the three glasses of wine at dinner, topped off with tequila shots in the lobby bar that night, all heaped on top of that funny burnt smell you’re giving off (SPF-4 will work, right honey? It’s what we use in Wisconsin!) is probably what made you sick. NOT the bad ice, the mosquitoes, the lettuce, not even brushing your teeth in the sink.

Could you get sick? Absolutely. The same way you can get sick at Disney World, or skiing at Aspen, or at the craps table in Atlantic City (don’t ask). We’re not saying you can’t get sick in a foreign country; what we’re saying is in most cases it’s not contaminated food or impure water.

Our advice? Go easy on the booze, heavy on the sunscreen, and even heavier on the water (most of the resorts we handle provide plenty of purified bottled water). Love those mojitos? Who doesn’t – but order one, plus one bottle of water. When you finish the mojito, order the second round while you drink the water. You’ll enjoy your week MUCH better.

Oh, and one last suggestion. Don’t think the burrito you’re getting at the Mexican restaurant is the same burrito you got at your local Taco Bell, and don’t think the jalapenos piled onto your nachos are the same ones you got out of a jar in your fridge. Take the food in moderation, your American stomach may not be accustomed to the ‘true’ local foods and spices.

Your thoughts always welcome!

Review of Azul Sensatori

Azul Sensatori at NightWe’re just back from an amazing week at one of our top resorts, the luxurious Azul Sensatori by Karisma in the Riviera Maya. Beautiful property, nice location, gourmet dining, lots of fun for the kids, below-average beach, plenty of pools, and above all some really great people. Ready to wade through the entire review?

Overview:
The landscaping of Azul Sensatori is gorgeous – this resort really has come a long way since it opened in late 2008. Palm trees and hibiscus flowers are everywhere you look, lawns are lush and green, and low lighting provides a beautiful scene each night. Azul Sensatori, although having almost 500 suites, is not so large as to need a golf cart, and guests can walk from one side to the other in five minutes – so getting dressed for dinner and walking to the restaurants doesn’t require another shower after arriving!
Azul Sensatori SuitesSuites:
Azul Sensatori is an all-suite resort, even the least expensive lead-in category, featuring jacuzzi tubs, minibars, 24 hour room service, LCD televisions with DVD players, and in-building concierges. Very modern decor – bright greens and oranges, modern artwork, very squared-off architecture. Oddly enough unlike some luxury competitors, Azul Sensatori doesn’t offer jacuzzi tubs on the balconies/patios, with the lone exception of the Premium Swim Up, which has a jacuzzi tub flush with pool level. Most suites have some type of oceanview, but some being set back or lower floors will be obstructed (if you want oceanview, book an oceanview category which will be closer to the beach and higher floors).
Azul Sensatori PoolsPools:
Three distinct pools run throughout the M-shaped Azul Sensatori – the Family Suites pool, the Premium pool, and the Adults-Only pool, and each have their own swim up bar. Numerous Bali-style pool beds surround each pool (although unfortunately, the beds and chairs in the Family Suites section do tend to ‘fill up’ with guests’ items early in the morning). Waiter service around the pools throughout the day make it unnecessary to leave your chair for anything you’d need. In the Premium section, pool concierges bring around drinks and towels, plus gourmet bites at noon. They also will set up your chair or pool bed with towels upon request – a very nice feature for the upgraded categories.
Beach:
Azul Sensatori BeachWell, the good reviews had to end somewhere, but this isn’t the fault of the resort (unless you can blame them for choosing to put their resort here). Very narrow stretch of beach, small swimmable area, and good amount of seagrass (depending on season as with any resort). Azul Sensatori has done a good job in using what they have – a full-service beach grill with covered seating, many beach beds and chairs, beach waiter service, and beach night shows a few times a week, including an amazing fire and water Caribbean show, but the beach is certainly not why you’d want to come to Azul Sensatori. Some resorts can be termed a beach resort or a pool resort – this is a pool resort by far.

Dining:
Breakfast in Spoon (the main restaurant) gave a choice of ordering from a menu a la carte (with a fairly limited number of choices), or the ‘food display’, as Azul Sensatori terms their buffets. The restaurant was packed on our first trip in, but plenty of waiters to handle it, and our coffee cups and water glasses never quite hit empty. The buffet is on the small side, not a wide selection (and we noticed it didn’t vary much during the week); those hoping for traditional Mexican dishes or sauces may not be 100% satisfied, but the omelets, fresh fruits, and sweet rolls may make up for it. Breakfast was a 7 out of 10. Lunch was basic (they could use more sandwiches), and dinner was above average (a nice basic alternative to the specialty restaurants).

Azul Sensatori Tapaz RestaurantTapaz is a Spanish-style tapas restaurant, serving small unique bites throughout the dinner with no menu. Really unique architecture with the ‘natural’ stone walls and ceiling, family-style round tables with a rotating platform in the middle to pass food items around the table, and the kitchen being in full view to watch the chefs prepare the dinner. We had five courses: three of small appetizer-type foods (crazy-spicy chipotle chicken chips, lamb meatballs, veal turnovers, calamari skewers, among others), then a main course (ours consisted of pork ribs with a tomato sauce, filet with a mustard sauce, sweet and sour pork, and a beef brisket), followed by several dessert selections. Plan ahead – this dinner takes a while, not a short sit-down-and-eat-and-leave meal, and some picky eaters may walk out hungry because of the limited selection. Our waiter (Chris) was excellent and very attentive (he went to another restaurant to retrieve a pinot noir we asked for), and service throughout the restaurant seemed quite good. An 8 out of 10 (some delays and only above-average food bring down the rating a bit, but service bumps it back up).
Zavaz for lunch was perhaps a bit more than we expected – more of a dinner menu than a lunch menu, but our party was more than satisfied with the food quality. Some of the best dining we had was the lunch portions of salmon, grouper, chicken breast, even the scallops and shrimp at the salad bar. Again the Azul Sensatori staff provided excellent service (sensing a theme here?), beautiful location overlooking the pool and ocean. Very limited menu choices (only 6 to choose from), but they do offer that salad bar plus a food display of 3-4 entrees. Nice kids menu – you can tell Azul Sensatori really caters to the family market. Lunch at Zavaz was an 8 out of 10.
Azul Sensatori Le Chique RestaurantLe Chique is an incredible experience that absolutely every guest should take advantage of! Azul Sensatori’s adults-only restaurant is the only one on property that requires reservations, and they will not seat a party more than four to maintain the intimate and relaxed atmosphere. They also won’t seat much later than 8PM, as the best feature of this restaurant is the set menu. The standard dining experience consists of an 8 course gourmet dinner spread out over two hours, with such menu items as gazpacho with chili oil in a seaweed bubble, pate, smoked duck (in a smoky bowl), soups, and more. Incredibly interesting, and a very fun experience, especially with your choice of ten different house wines. For those looking to go all out, Le Chique offers a 14 course wine-pairing dinner ($95pp additional) which is closer to four hours, adds extra course and gourmet bites, and is paired with 5-6 different wines depending on the fare – not to mention several of the dishes are brought to the table by the head chef or sous chef. Easily a 10 out of 10.
Sienna is an authentic-looking Italian cellar, complete with brick walls and a massive candle display, serving excellent regional Italian dishes. We had top notch service and the menu offered many different choices, from chicken to beef to fish to pasta (of course), along with several soups and salads. Again, access to ten different house wines. Great experience, an 8 out of 10.
Zocalo, the Mexican restaurant, may have been our party’s favorite (if it wasn’t for the children in the party, Le Chique would have won hands-down!) as we dined there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Excellent Mexican dishes, a nice food display spread for all three meals, great views over the pool, nice cantina outside for drinks, and a special brick oven pizza kitchen for lunch and dinner. Highly recommended, another 10 out of 10!

For more information, client reviews, current specials, and pricing for Azul Sensatori, click here.

Why Travel All-Inclusive?

I was fortunate enough to spend this past weekend in Punta Cana and experienced some really fantastic resorts. Beautiful suites, huge lagoon-style pools, white sand beaches, evening entertainment, casinos, and top notch staff.

But maybe my favorite part of the trip? The incredible variety of restaurants and bars. Scallops, shrimp, lobster, swordfish, chateau briand, roast duck, the list goes on…not to mention top shelf drinks and wines (I know, it’s a tough job sometimes…)

It wasn’t until I got back and went out to dinner that I realized what I truly appreciated about my trip – the all-inclusive aspect! At an all-inclusive resort, I had my choice of any of the fantastic entrees on the menu, none of which had prices next to them. I could pick from four different house wines, or a handful of local beers, or even just a sparkling water…without worrying about them showing up on the bill later.

And it wasn’t just the cost – it’s the freedom of trying new things! I had no idea I hated mussels, but apparently I do – no worries, I’ll skip the rest of those and order a different appetizer of beef carpaccio! Never had a caipirinha, I’ll try one…oops, not for me…how about a mai tai? Nope, that didn’t work either…next?

The features of an all-inclusive, the ‘unlimited’ dining, snacks, and drinks are something you might take for granted…until it’s time to pay the bill at your local restaurant. Contrary to some perceptions, paying for an all-inclusive plan isn’t just for the alcoholic drinks; it’s also for incredible varieties of non-alcoholic mixed drinks, snacks day and night, and gourmet dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…the freedom to try new things.

So I ask…how in the world do people travel to the Caribbean/Mexico, and not go all-inclusive?

Is anyone as addicted as I am to mobile connectivity?

Hi…my name is Steve, and I’m a mobile addict. That’s the first step, right? Admitting you have a problem? Wait…is it really a problem?
In today’s day and age, being connected is easier and more convenient than ever. I honestly can’t leave the house without my iPhone; I’d probably feel less-stressed leaving my wallet or shoes at home. That’s because I just know that if I’m out without it, that will be the time I need to use it most. And I’m suffering with the lowly, one-year-old, nearly-antiquated iPhone 3GS – I can’t imagine my separation anxiety if I had the iPhone 4! (On a related note…I’m waiting until the world-ending iPhone 4 antenna issue is fixed before I upgrade).

Working from the beach...But there’s a method behind my madness. Having such connectivity allows me to stay in touch with my office, my clients, my suppliers, from wherever I am. I don’t need to be strapped to a desk – and more importantly, people don’t need to wait to get a hold of me. It’s near-instant response to problems, questions, concerns, etc. – and isn’t that a good thing?
Yes, I admit…it’s sometimes sad to be pecking away at the 3 inch keyboard during dinner, or at my son’s baseball game, or while horseback riding in the Costa Rican rainforest (tough job I have, I know), but if the ultimate result is a satisfied client, a fixed problem, a saved sale? In the long run it’s worth it…it’s about efficiency. (And to you Blackberry users out there…I dare you to book a client’s reservation from that browser…go iPhone, or go home…)
Today’s world isn’t the flourescent-lit cubicle, the 9 to 5 commute, the suit and tie, the endless conference calls. Today’s world is tweeting from the wifi-enabled Airbus 321 30,000 feet over the Gulf of Mexico, typing up a letter from a beach bed overlooking the Caribbean, taking care of a client’s reservation from the mojito lounge…all of which I’ve done. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What are your thoughts?
-S

Berwick Travel Launches Social Media Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Berwick Travel, a leading online travel agency specializing in all-inclusive packages to Mexico and the Caribbean, has announced a new social media program called “Berwick Connections” to enhance direct and timely communication between agency and travelers.

To launch the Berwick Connections campaign, a series of giveaways and incentives will be offered for online users on Berwick Travel’s core social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress blog. The agency will also offer unique content on these social media sites to further consumer awareness for the brands. “Social media gives us an excellent avenue to connect with our loyal clients,” said Steve Umstead, Director of Marketing for Berwick Travel. “These tools allow us to communicate as much as to listen, enable us to push time-sensitive promotions and news to our clients even faster, and engage in a public dialogue in near real-time.”

Berwick Travel has partnered with Karisma Hotels, a leading hotelier with the luxury brands El Dorado Resorts & Azul Hotels in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. The launch will include a giveaway incentive of four free nights at Karisma’s flagship family resort, Azul Sensatori, valued at over $1,900, randomly given away to one follower of the social media platforms. The winner will also receive a 14 course wine-pairing dinner at Azul Sensatori’s exclusive Le Chique adults-only restaurant, a $190 value. Clients who join by July 31st can increase their chances by following multiple platforms, as well as uploading reviews, photos or videos of their stays to Berwick Travel’s Facebook page.

“We feel Karisma has one of the best grasps of the social media landscape in the industry, and is very active online with their followers,” says Umstead. “We’re happy to have them help us launch this new program, and support us as we go forward.”

“We value and respect the relationship and loyalty we have with Berwick Travel,” says Mandy Chomat, VP of Sales & Marketing for El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels and Azul Hotels by Karisma.  “As one of our top GI Vacation Consultants with amazing knowledge of our unique product, Berwick Travel has been able to sell many unforgettable vacations to our beautiful resorts.  We are very proud of Berwick Travel’s initiative to launch marketing efforts in the social media space. Consumers that follow Berwick Travel will now be able to get exclusive offers, firsthand knowledge of the product and up to the minute information on deals, new hotels and destination information.”

The Berwick Connections launch runs throughout the month of July, and can be seen at www.berwicktravel.com/connections. More information on Berwick Travel can be found at berwicktravel.com, and Karisma information at karismahotels.com.