Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hotel Spotlight: La Concha Renaissance Resort (A Marriott Property) - San Juan, Puerto Rico

Hotel Spotlight: La Concha Renaissance Resort (A Marriott Property)
San Juan, Puerto Rico

I was recently in San Juan, Puerto Rico for an International Destination Expo/Conference. Despite the fact that I was occupied everyday with various networking events, speaker presentations and evening events; I was still able to sneak away and enjoy the island.

The La Concha Renaissance Resort is located in the Condado area of Puerto Rico, and is approximately 30 minutes (in good traffic) from the San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. The property is discretely ensconced on the "main drag" in Condado, situated on the most pristine, azure colored beach you can imagine.

Prior to visiting the property, I did cruise through Trip Advisors (which I rarely do), to check out some of the comments on the property. One of the main names that kept resonating within most of the comments was about the valet named Felix! I was able to meet him, and let me tell you, he was personable, helpful and always had a bright smile on his face, even though they were always busy in their car court. There was a wedding party, a conference, and other activities that kept the front desk and valets hopping; but I can tell you, they never missed a beat. All of the staff members were quick, efficient, and always willing to assist you (especially for those of us who always look like we are lost).

The lobby area is a wide, open space with various seating arrangements to accommodate individuals, small and large groups. Every evening, I would find myself on their outdoor patio in the Solera bar area enjoying a late night cocktail, and a bevy of people watching opportunities; especially since the lobby area turned into a quasi night club at night.

I stayed in both a double queen room, as well as a single king room during my stay. It is great to be able to experience several types of rooms during a visit, so that you can compare size, configurations and general space of the rooms. Both the double room and the king size rooms had ample space. Each room had a large desk area, comfortable chairs, large HD television and ample closet space, as well as a nice sized bar area. The bathrooms were clean and well laid out. There were no bathtubs in either of the rooms I stayed in; however, the shower was easily big enough for two people, ummm, not that I know that from experience! The bath products they provided were Aveda, and they replenished them on a daily basis, and I never ran out of towels.

The La Concha has a nice selection of restaurants from their Komakai Sushi Bar, Voga Italian Grill, Solera poolside restaurant, Sidewalk Café, and their signature restaurant Perla, located in the large Conch Shell facing the beach. I was constantly on the go, and had evening events to attend, so I was only able to have two meals while I was on the property. I split a burger and fries with my business partner, That Chick Dawni, and my last morning there, I also ate at the breakfast buffet they provided every morning, located at Voga. The buffet was an affordable $20, with a large selection of pastries, meats, potatoes, cereals (hot & cold), juices, fruits and an omelet bar too. I felt the price was good, considering the varied selection of items they had to chose from.

The property is a solid 3 - 4* property. I would recommend this resort to anyone traveling to the San Juan area that likes to be within walking distance of a lot of nightlife, restaurants, bars, high end shopping since the property is located mere steps from Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, and countless other small boutiques, and a place that simply never seems to sleep! Oh, and I forgot to mention, there is even a Casino on the property!

Valet/Entrance AreaLobby Seating Area
Room w/2 Queen Beds
Desk Area in Room w/2 Queen Beds
King Room
Living Room Area in King Room
Divine Pool Area

Relaxing Beach
Beds Overlooking the Beach!

*Photos by That Chick Té

Monday, April 11, 2011

Part 18 of Series: 101 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent

Part 18 of Series: 101 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent

I have been working with a client recently, and in one of our numerous conversations, I was discussing some things she should be aware of for her trip, as well as other general travel tips. After the conclusion of our conversation she said, "Thank you so much for all of the information. I've been searching on the internet, and I am in information overload; yet, you have given me clear, concise information, and I feel confident now going on my trip. People may not realize this, but planning a trip is a lot of work, and I'm glad to have you planning my trip!"

This is what I enjoy the most about my work. It's when the people I am working with understand, and value the time and work that I put into making their trip special, fun, and accommodating to whatever their budget may be. I do caution people that you truly DO, "get what you pay for," so while sticking to a budget is important for most of us, sometimes there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration too, and sometimes when you are embroiled in the process, you may skip those important factors.

What You Can Buy Later - New airline restrictions make packing for long trips hard. Travel experts can give you advice on what you might be able to purchase while you are on your trip to avoid having excess weight in your luggage beforehand.
Advice on Where to Go if You Get Sick - If you happen to be unfortunate enough to get hurt or fall ill while on your trip, your travel agent can help to you find you somewhere clean and safe for medical attention.
Trust - If you should have any questions after booking your trip you know how to reach your travel agent and can avoid the FAQ section on a website.
You Know How to Reach Them When You Need Them - Problems at the airport? Reservation issues at the hotel? Your travel agent is a phone call away from getting your problem solved.
Tips and Tricks - How early do you really need to be at the airport? What are the quickest ways to get through security? Your travel expert can advise you of the airport security levels the day of your trip and any new security checkpoints you may have to worry about.

photo from:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

I remember when I first read the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" I was probably in grade school, and I thought it was the greatest Dr. Seuss book ever written! Now that I look back, I can honestly say that book has impacted my life in more ways than I ever could have imagined. It is a book of hope, living, optimism, fun and spontaneity - something a lot of us could use more of in our lives.

In some respects, I can understand why a lot of people are not all too fired up to travel. With all of the news on the war, riots in Libya, cartel crimes in Mexico, safety issues with Southwest planes - the list is endless. I will not try to sugar coat any of these very real issues, but what I will say is that there are so many wonderful places in this world to go and see! Safety notwithstanding, travel is a way to go out and see the world, and in so doing, you learn so much about yourself. Some things you learn will be positive; some, not so much, but the experiences will last a lifetime, and can never be taken away.

During the past few weeks I've been plotting out my travels for the year, and it's a daunting tasks, because there is only so much time and money that I have, so I must make good use of both. In my selection process, I take into consideration places I've been before, and places I would like to go. In this business, it's imperative to stay up on the old places, as well as the new "gems" that are out there. Sometimes those "gems" are in our own backyards (so to speak), and some are in far flung places across the world. It is important to step out of our comfort zones and take a leap of faith. Yes, I know that is easier said than done, but I know in my life, the experiences I have learned the most from were not the easy and safe ones, but the ones that stretched me, and made me become the individual I am today. When I read about the individual who has packed up to hit the road on their own private exodus; or the families who have chosen to take their children out of school and travel the world - I say, "Kudos to them!" It is not necessarily the most practical thing in the world, nor can everyone afford to do it, but for those few who can, I tip my cap and wish them the best of luck, because they are embarking on an experience of a lifetime that will be filled with cultural education and a personal journey that can never be duplicated.

Happy trails my friends.

*photo of fountain in Tuileries Garden - Paris, France - taken by That Chick


Friday, April 1, 2011

March Madness Giveaway is Over!

Our March Madness Giveaway is over! The winner of the lovely down pillow will be notified!