Saturday, 7 December 2013

To Book Now or To Wait...that is the question

So often we as travel agents are asked "when is the best time to book my sunny beach vacation?"  The truth of the matter is that there is no one answer to this as so much depends on the travelers expectations and flexibility. 

If you have to request your holiday schedule well in advance, maybe even looking a whole year ahead as some do, then you're best to book as early as possible.  Take advantage of the early booking discounts that are typically offered through the summer months and into the fall.  It may require full payment several months before you even intend to travel but the savings is worth it!

If you have several options as to when you can go (ie: say a 5 or 6 day window to departure) and you're not set on any one destination or resort then you're a prime candidate to wait it out for the last minute sell offs.  Deep discounts are often available when tour operators have not been able to sell all the air seats or fill the hotel rooms.  With this option you need to be ever mindful that there is never any guarantee that your "first holiday choice" will still be available or that it will be the perfect resort for you.  It's a gamble but if you're so inclined, then why not save!

Now, that said, here is my own personal prediction for how the 2013/14 winter season is going to play out.  The tour operators have secured their contracts with the hoteliers nearly a year in advance and have negotiated prices based on the US dollar.  This is very advantageous with our current strong Canadian dollar.  All of the banking experts have been long suggesting that our Canadian dollar will weaken and if that happens the tour operators will be forced to add a currency surcharge to recoup their costs.  Add to that the ever increasing price of fuel and it's the perfect storm!  I anticipate seeing prices taking a sharp turn upward to cover the increased fuel costs and the stronger US dollar. 

So, what does all this mean?  Simply put, the sooner you book, the more likely you are to get a better price.  If there is an early booking discount, take it!  If you have the option to secure your vacation well in advance, seize the opportunity because my best guess is that prices will continue to soar once we hit the peak of the winter selling season.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


This past winter I travelled to St Maarten/Saint Martin and without a doubt one of the highlights was the amazing cuisine!  With it's deeply routed French and Dutch tradition, every meal was presented with a true European flare making it a feast for the eyes before even having a single bite.

Our home base was the Beach Plaza in Marigot,  on a very swimmable beach, a short stroll to the Marina or the downtown area.  Having a car rental for our entire vacation certainly made getting out to try the many incredible restaurants around the island easy!  Following you'll find a few of our favorites based on the various locations:


Tropicana - located along the inner marina it was just a 4 minute walk from the hotel.  Reservations are a must and well worth any effort to find an opening!  The Tropicana came highly recommended to us by several long time vacationers to the island and it did not disappoint.  The proprietor is quite the character!

For a quick lunch or to pick up items to take to the beach for a picnic, there is Sarafina's directly across from the fresh foods market. 

Nettle Baie:

Unless you're very ambitious, you'll want to hope in the car and drive to Nettle Baie, home of the Dreams Beach Club.  Opened in the winter of 2012/13, this club offers beach chair rentals, double loungers and an extensive lunch menu including sushi.  The whole setting of the Dreams Beach Club is a Miami sort of vibe - very modern and sleek!  The beach and waves were great so plan to enjoy the day in this location rather than just stopping in for lunch or dinner.

Grand Case:

Here you'll find everything and anything for food!  From the five star, seaside restaurants to the local BBQ pits, it's a sure bet for a fantastic and authentic island experience! Once per week the entire main street area is closed off to traffic and becomes a pedestrian only street fair corridor.  Both sides of the street a lined with small boutiques, local arts, crafts and restaurants by the dozen!  Again, reservations on the street fair night are recommended but as you continue to walk I have no doubt you'll find something amazing and with a table just for you!

Unfortunately, poor forethought on my part meant we were not able to be seated at L'Estament at a reasonable hour but we did try 3 other incredible options that week.  Spiga, Le Tastevin and Ocean 82 - each are highly rated and offer their own style and charm.

Grand Case also offers a unique gathering place for locals and tourists alike sitting at covered picnic tables enjoying a casual and inexpensive option.

Simpson Bay:

Being the Winnipeg Jets fans that we are, we HAD to find a place that would be airing the game!  SPN Sports Bar in Simpson Bay was exactly what we had in mind!  Owned and operated by a fellow from Montreal, it was warm, welcoming, and so much fun!  Catering mainly to American travelers, usually the big screens are of NFL but they were more than happy to accommodate hockey crowd and switch it over. 

On almost any beach you visit regardless of the French or Dutch side, you're sure to find a BBQ shack offering up tasty delights sure to keep your tank topped up until the next food adventure begins!