At many resorts, when you check in you’re given something called a “towel card”. If the person who checks you in explains it completely you’re told that you use this card to exchange for a pool towel. When you turn the pool towel in you can either receive a new dry towel or a towel card. During your stay you are charged with the responsibility of keeping track of your towel card (or your towel).
Usually there is either one or several places throughout the resort where this exchange can take place.
When you check out, you are responsible for turning these towel cards back in. If you do not, then you are required to pay a fee, usually around $25, for each missing towel card.
The reason the hotels do this is to reduce the number of towels that go home in guests luggage.
Higher end resorts don’t usually have towel cards. High end resorts generally set towels on the loungers around the pool so that they are easily at hand for use by guests at the moment they need them.
So, now you know what a towel card is!
I flew up and back to Oklahoma City in the last 24 hours. My nephew graduated from high school and I wanted to be there for the event.
Anyway, I flew home in first class this morning (AAdvantage Gold Upgrade) and I was next to a nice enough guy. He wasn’t gross, didn’t talk too much and didn’t smell bad. He did, however, keep putting his foot on the arm rest of the chair in front of him.
His bare foot.
On the arm rest that belongs to the seat of someone else.
Am I the only one who thinks this is gross and completely unacceptable?
I can’t wait to hear your comments.
The answer to the second question is “Be willing to do what other don’t want to do.” What I mean by that is that to get a good price, you need to travel at the times when others don’t.
What this means is that (as an extreme example), if you go to Walt Disney World at Christmas time, you are going to pay top dollar (not to mention that it is going to be more crowded and harder to get around than at any other time).
Basically, if the dates you’re looking at are more expensive than other dates, it’s because either more people have actually booked for those dates or the airline / hotel / tour operator believe that more people WILL book on those dates.
It might not be a major holiday, it may just be that some random group is booking on the particular day that you’re considering.
Oh, and the answer to the first question? Home, at the end of every trip.
“We’d like connecting rooms, please.”
It’s a familiar and common request. A large party getting two rooms want to be nearby each other rather than being spread across the resort. Perhaps it is a family with teenagers. They want two rooms so they have more room, and they want two bathrooms, but they want to be able to supervise the kids, make sure they’re tucked in safe and sound.
The fact is, almost no resorts actually guarantee connecting rooms. There are some resorts, like many of the Riu Palaces, where the front doors are paired two by two so it is a higher certainty that you’ll be assigned rooms where the front doors face each other. The pair of front doors are down a short hallway, so it is almost like connecting rooms with private access between the two rooms.
At other resorts the connecting rooms are fewer, so its harder to get them.
There are resorts where they have a pair of connecting rooms as a specific roomtype. Take the Azul Sensatori, for instance. They offer a connecting oceanview suite room type. The room consists of two of their normal oceanview suites that have a connecting door. It bears noting that it is more expensive to get a pair of connecting rooms, in this case, than two separate rooms. The resorts know that when a family needs or wants a connecting room, they are willing to pay for it.
Another option is an all suite resort. Take the Marival Residences in Puerto Vallarta, for instance. The Marival completely consists of 1,2 and 3 bedroom suites. A one or two bedroom suite would be a great alternative to connecting rooms. What doesn’t work, though, is getting a suite instead of connecting rooms at a resort that consists mainly of normal resort type rooms. If the resort only has a handful of suites, they charge a premium for them. We have families or small groups of people all the time wanting us to price the suite versus the two rooms…it will be more expensive than two rooms. (Unless it is an all suite resort.)
Having said all that, when you do request adjoining rooms, the resorts really will do everything possible to assign them to you. It doesn’t serve the resort’s best interest to have your family spread across the resort. They want to make you happy. They really do.
What experience have you had with connecting rooms? Put them in the comments below.
With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, this is a question that we get quite a bit as people are making final preparations for their all inclusive vacation.
Technically speaking, tipping is included at all inclusive resorts. That said, there are several schools of thought on the subject.
Some people you’ll talk to say that you’ve saved all year for this all inclusive vacation and its ridiculous to think that you would give additional tips that are supposed to be included.
Then there are other people who say that you tip at home for good service and there isn’t any reason to think you shouldn’t do the same when you’re abroad at a resort.
As with many things, I think there are a range of right answers and you should decide what you are comfortable with.
If you’re asking my opinion (and I guess you are, since you’re still reading) I do think its both nice and useful to tip while you’re in a resort.
First, lets look at the useful aspects of tipping. When you’re spending the day by the pool or the beach, and there is waiter service going by periodically, think about who is going to get better more consistent attention? Would it be the person who is not tipping and all, or the person who tips a dollar or so every couple of drinks? Who is going to get the towel animals on their bed, or a couple of extra towels, or just more helpful enthusiastic service? Tippers, or non tippers? I’m not talking about a great deal of money here, just a dollar or two at a time.
Next, let’s look at the nice reasons to tip. The people who work at these resorts make very little money. One source I saw said that the minimum wage in Cancun is 51 pesos per day. These workers work very long days six days a week At today’s exchange rate that is just over $4.00 (not per hour…per day). While the cost of living in the resort areas is maybe slightly less than in major US metropolitan areas, you can see that $4.00 per day doesn’t go far no matter how you slice it. Tipping even a little helps these people make ends meet. What is a small amount for you can go a long way for the people who make your vacation special.
The mechanics of tipping: If you decide that you do want to tip, make sure you’re prepared. Before you leave, get a supply of small bills. The workers in Mexico seem especially amused by $2.00 bills. I try to get as many as I can from the bank before I leave. Regardless of what denomination you choose, make sure that the bills aren’t damaged or written on. If they are, they cannot be exchanged for pesos and will be worthless to the hard working recipient of your tip.
Either way you go, certainly don’t tip in situations where you don’t feel you’ve received good service. Tipping at all inclusive is truly optional and you should not feel obligated. Your tip should be a gift for great service, something you’re happy to give.
We are much more connected than previous generations. We are expected to respond to emails within a fairly short period of time. If we don’t check in on Facebook regularly people start to wonder if we’re dead, or at least gravely injured. Gone are the days when most people can go completely off the grid for any length of time.
Even on vacation, most people want to be connected at some level. These days, it’s a pretty rare person who disconnects completely, even for a 3 or 4 night trip. At Legacy Travel, we are frequently asked questions that relate to Internet access or phone service in destination.
So, what’s the answer? What’s the best and least expensive and easiest way to be connected while you’re at a resort in Mexico?
As in many of life’s quandaries, the answer is…it depends.
There are several different situations regarding Internet access depending on the resort you’ve chosen. Not so long ago, the most common Internet access at Mexico resorts was “none”. You still find that at a few resorts.
The most common situation now, though, is internet terminals either in a business center or in an area in or near the lobby. You either feed coins into the terminal itself which gives you a certain amount of time online, or you buy a code from the front desk that you type in to let you online.
Another common situation is to find free wifi in the lobby of your hotel. Of course, this only works if you brought your laptop along with you. Free wifi in the lobby is also handy if you want to access the internet via your iPad or iPhone.
The newest and most deluxe resorts now are starting to install in room wired and/or wireless internet.
If you have a smart phone that allows you to be online via the cell phone company, you want to be very very careful to discover how much that access is going to cost you during your trip. Call your carrier before your trip so you’re not caught by surprise.
What if you want to call home from Mexico? What’s the best way to do that without breaking the bank?
Again, call your cell carrier and find out the per minute charge for using your phone. Not so long ago, people purchased phone cards to make affordable calls from pay phones (not from the phone in your room) so they could check on things at home. Most of the time, the rate on your cell plan is not horrible for just checking in though, so most people don’t bother with phone cards any more.
My favorite way to call home lately is via the Vonage app on my iPhone. When I’m within the range of free wireless, I can make international calls for almost no cost at all.
A word of caution, you should never, ever, (except in case of emergency) call from the phone in your room. Those rates are highway robbery.
Now, the question of if you should be so connected while you’re on vacation? That’ll have to be the subject of another article.
No one likes problems on vacation. Vacation is supposed to be an escape from problems, not the cause of them. Sometimes, though, things do happen. Never fear, here are some things you can keep in mind to smooth your way.
1) Be protected. We tend to sound like a broken record in our office talking about travel insurance. I hate that it sounds to some people like the “protection” one is offered when you buy electronics at Best Buy. Travel insurance, though, shouldn’t be lumped into that category.
Says Personal Finance Authority Clark Howard: “Travel insurance policies should always be purchased when you are taking a cruise, a tour or traveling on a trip that requires pre-payment of thousands of dollars. Policies are designed to protect consumers in the event of illness or to provide a refund in the case of company, tour operator or airline default.”
Buy the insurance.
2) Be Polite. Your mother was right. You do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I can’t think of a single situation made better by being rude. Clerks you encounter along your way almost always have something they can do to make your trip better. Motivate them to help you instead of the guy screaming at them. Be a light in the darkness. It will pay off on vacation.
Don’t be taken advantage of though. Think “velvet over steel”.
3) Be prepared. Have everything in writing. Print out every confirmation and have it with you. If you’re expecting certain amenities included with your hotel rate, take a print screen with you. Hotels are absolutely notorious for advertising a spa credit or a food and beverage credit, or kids eat free, or any one of a million other things. In a significant number of cases, upon arrival at the hotel the front desk has no idea what you’re talking about. I truly do not believe it’s a matter of dishonesty. It’s more a matter of the marketing department and the operations department not knowing what the other is doing. Having proof will help the appropriate people track down the information they need to make sure you get the amenities you’re expecting.
4) Be practical. Understand what your resources are. Does the agency have an in resort representative whose job it is to help resolve issues for you? If not an in resort representative perhaps at least an in destination representative reachable by phone? Many tour operators have a 24 during travel phone number intended for customers needing help on vacation. The best ones are staffed with people who are experts at resolving in destination issues. Are you able to reach your own agent by phone? Sometimes time zone differences make this difficult.
Another of the benefits of travel insurance is access to people 24 hours a day who are there to help you in various situations. Of course, your insurance people aren’t there to help you if you don’t like the room you’ve been assigned, but if your husband has just slipped by the pool and broken his leg, they’re you’re second phone call. (Right after calling for medical help, of course.)
What else? What techniques do you use on vacation to make your way smooth?
Are you planning your first trip to Cancun or the Riviera Maya? Or has it maybe been a while since you’ve been? Here are some things you should know to make the beginning of your trip as smooth as possible.
1) Bring a pen on the plane. The flight attendants will be passing out a form commonly referred to as a “tourist card”. You’ll need to fill it out. You’ll be the most popular one on your row if you have a pen. You’ll need your passport open to fill it out. Be sure you carefully keep track of your passport because if you misplace it or leave it on the plane you will have a big problem. Possession of your passport is really the only deal breaker in the whole process. You can make up for anything else, but if you lose your passport you have issues.
2) Properly fill out your tourist card. Hopefully it will be printed in English, but it may not. It could go either way. Read it carefully and fill it out correctly. If you’re arriving into Cancun, the name of the state is “Quintana Roo”. It can be abbreviated “Q. Roo”. Also remember that the format for writing a date everywhere but the US is day/month/year rather than the month/day/year format we use.
There will be a guy checking your tourist card right when you get off the plane to make sure it is filled out correctly. If it is not, you’ll have to stop right there and lean up against the wall and make your corrections. This will upset your evil plan of rushing down to passport control and being first in line.
3) Speaking of the line in passport control, it goes pretty fast. Don’t despair if you see a long snake-like line. It’s pretty much like Walt Disney World in that it moves fairly continuously. If you get bored, look down at the floor. Ninety nine percent of the women in the line have fresh pedicures. I roll my eyes at them in my head while I wait. Oops, you have a fresh pedicure too? Compare yours to theirs and see whose is better.
4) The next line you’ll encounter is customs. This is the line you wait in after you’ve claimed your luggage. Sometimes this line can move rather slowly. If you notice a substantial line when you enter the baggage claim area, make a deal with your traveling companion that one of you gets the bags, and one of you goes ahead and takes a place in line. You may encounter sniffing dogs while in this area. They are looking for drugs and/or unpackaged food.
5) After you leave the customs area you go through sliding glass doors and will go to your right (the only option). You’ll walk past a bunch of people who are trying to get your attention. Ignore them. They are timeshare people. They may say they are your transfer, or that they are representatives of your hotel. They are not. They are lying. Ignore them, and walk outside. Your transfer is waiting for you outside. If transfers were not included in your package, you’ll find the legitimate taxi drivers out there too.
6) Relax. Even if the lines are long, or the airport is a complete mad house, relax. You’ve just arrived into one of the most beautiful places on earth. You’re on vacation. Relax.
Recently we got a phone call from someone in a company who wanted to take 40 people to Las Vegas. It was a corporate trip of some kind, maybe the participants won an incentive. Maybe they were going to attend a conference. Maybe the company was betting next month’s payroll. I have no idea.
Anyway, point is that they needed to take 40 people to Las Vegas. Of course the secretary did her due diligence in looking at prices online before she called us. (This was not someone we already had a relationship with. She found us online.) She priced 2 people with air at the hotel they were considering. She made note of the price. Then she called to ask our assistance in getting all 40 people booked.
She was quite shocked to learn that the per person price for the 40 people was higher than the per person price for the 2 people she priced online.
Why was the price higher? It has to do with inventory control. Primarily, it’s the airline. They sell certain number of seats at a lower price on each flight, then the price for subsequent people goes up in stair steps until finally the last few seats on the plane go for quite a high fare. They aren’t going to sell you 40 seats for that loss leader price you see for the first two people you price. The group of 40 will get a per person price that is an average between that low price you see for the first two, and the really astronomical price you don’t see yet for those last few passengers.
Doesn’t it make logical sense, though, that the 40 person group would get a better price than what they would give 2 individuals? That does seem to make sense, but remember, we’re dealing with airlines here.
They wouldn’t have that flight operating in that market at that frequency if they didn’t already know from historical data that they could fill the plane up at the price that makes it profitable for them. If they didn’t already know that they could fill that plane up, they would have already moved it into a route where they could.
Or, they’d ground the plane.