Thursday, September 11, 2014
If you've ever tried to plan your own tropical vacation, you probably know that there are a LOT of choices out there. Unless you have a personal connection to a certain location or resort, it can be challenging to figure out whether a particular island or hotel will provide what you’re really looking for, or if you’ll really get your money’s worth.
Nashville travel agency 2Travel Anywhere is the trusted guide for Nashville's engaged couples. Owner, Carlie, has planned dozens of destination weddings and honeymoons in the tropics! She has visited and worked with Sandals/Beaches Resorts for more than seven years and shares her inside information on what makes Sandals so special.
Having personally visited every Sandals Resort, Carlie knows what she’s talking about, and is able to deliver a travel plan that will best suit your vacation needs. Check out my interview with Carlie below to see what options Sandals Resorts can offer.
What makes Sandals/Beaches so special?
Sandals Resorts have an incomparable showcase of quality, choice and welcoming hospitality. At the Sandals Resorts designed for two people in love, indulge in a variety of offering of quality inclusions and discover the standard by which every other all-inclusive resort is measured, anywhere in the world.
Sandals includes more options than any other all-inclusive on the planet. From endless water sports, including waterskiing (at certain locations) and the Caribbean's most comprehensive scuba diving program, to unlimited rounds of golf with complimentary greens fees, Sandals has a wide range of activities to choose from. Enjoy more dining choices with up to 15 restaurants included per resort, featuring culinary concepts and chefs from around the globe. Each resort includes a wide variety of entertainment options, with a variety of pool and beach parties, and upscale bars serving an endless supply of premium brand liquors and four exclusive varietals of Beringer Wines.
Luxurious accommodations provide up to 25 categories per resort, ensuring that you receive exactly what you’re looking for on your vacation. Each location also has signature "Love Nest Dreams Suites”, ranging from an exotic circular Rondoval, a beachfront bungalow, or a Millionaire Suite high atop an Oceanside bluff. Treat yourself to any top-tier suite and enjoy the discreetly attentive services of their personal butlers, all trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers.
How does Sandals differentiate its resorts from other options?
More quality inclusions and extensive choices so that the couple can relax and devote more time to enjoying time with each other. The resorts are made for love, have a profound respect for nature, and provide you with beautiful places to stay and play.
Why should a couple choose Sandals over another resort/chain/hotel?
Sandals has won every notable award in every category including World's Best. Sandals has excellent luxury, quality and exceptional service to every person who comes to their resorts.
Another reason I like Sandals is the dining. There's nothing more satisfying than discovering a new culture through a region's cuisine. Savory morsels infused with tantalizing spices. Internationally trained chefs authentic dishes that take you on a gastronomic expedition around the world without ever having to leave your resort. Nobody knows how to make delectable pastries better than a French chef classically trained in Paris, or risotto like an Italian Chef schooled in Tuscany. And no matter how hard you try, no one does prime rib and Yorkshire pudding quite like the Brits. Sandals searches the globe to find the finest of chefs from 32 countries.
What is included in a Sandals stay? If there are multiple levels of what's included, please provide a few examples from each price point - low/mid/high
While other resorts boast a variety of suites, what they really offer are a few standard suites with minor changes. Sandals Resorts offer the most extravagant and creatively designed suites in the islands, with 40 percent of the accommodation selection offering suite options. Millionaire bluff-top suites with 180 degree ocean views private pool and three- story sundeck, or an exotic Rondoval suite in-the-round, complete with private pool and outdoor shower- very similar to a bungalow. You could even stay in a Swim Up suite that allows you to float up to your private patio, or in any of the beachfront suites that are available. Regardless of which suite appeals to your sense of style, the interiors inside are as enticing as the views outside, offering something for everyone.
What can a couple expect from a stay at Sandals?
Anything and everything you ever dreamed. If you want to do everything on your bucket list or nothing but relax, they offer it all. At Sandals there are no schedules to follow or appointments to keep, just unscripted days and sultry nights for you to spend as you wish. Savor breakfast in bed. Evenings have beachfront fire pits to enjoy. Play in the ocean, stroll in the sand or laze in a secluded hammock.
How many Sandals resorts are there to choose from?
There are 15 different Sandals Resorts. I have personally been to each Sandals Resort, and each location provides different options and specialties.
Does Sandals offer different options based on what each couple wants? (i.e. romantic private getaway, family fun, lots of people around, secluded beaches)
Definitely! Sandals offers a variety of options, and truly has something for everyone. Family fun can be enjoyed at their special family-friendly Beaches resorts, and Sandals is adults only. Each resort specializes in making the most of your experience, and there are options to fit any taste.
As the leader in destination weddings and honeymoons, Sandals specializes in knowing exactly what honeymooners want. Since newlyweds spend nearly a third of their vacation in their honeymoon suite, Sandals designed sensuous suites that offer the utmost in privacy, and special added touches like specious bedrooms and plush beds, oversize spa tubs and separate showers built for two.
Are you able to take care of all booking for a couple's trip to a Sandals location?
Yes. 2 Travel Anywhere, LLC is a certified Sandals Specialist. We personally travel to Sandals a few times a year to share our experience with our clients to make sure they have the best trip that meets their expectation. Our prices are guaranteed to be the best rate for all Sandals Resorts.
How long have you been working with/visiting Sandals?
My husband and I have been traveling to all-inclusive resorts for the past 9 years, and experienced our first Sandals resort 7 years ago. We could immediately tell the difference between Sandals and other all-inclusive resorts we had visited. Once we feel in love with our first Sandals Resort in Antigua, we knew we had to go to every resort option! I have personally stayed at all the Sandals resorts and can provide any information a couple needs regarding their vacation desires.
To get one step closer to those clear blue beaches, be sure to contact Carlie to see how she can help you to plan your trip to paradise! She can be reached at 615-512-7764, by email at Carlie.Travel at gmail dot com. To see more fantastic photos, visit her website at 2travelanywhere.com.
We'd like to say Happy Birthday to Carlie!! Carlie is currently celebrating her 30th birthday while vacationing and exploring new places for honeymoons. What a dream life!
Thursday, September 4, 2014
I have yet to find many people who are as enthusiastic about Pinterest as I am. Whenever I meet a person who hasn’t heard of the popular visual discovery website — say, what? — I quickly describe it as, “The place of dreams!”
Even though Pinterest is a wonderland for those do-it-yourself, dreamin’ types like me, I’m very happy the Pinterest hype had not yet reached maximum levels at the time I was planning my wedding in 2011. While the website is helpful on so many levels, the ideas can be pretty darn daunting when planning an important day such as your wedding.
Sarah Willard, owner of Music City Events, has seen an increased amount of clients with preconceived wedding planning ideas straight from Pinterest. In fact, Sarah also uses the site to search for and visualize color palettes and other ideas. She says it’s a great way for brides to get inspired.
Sarah, owner and lead planner, Music City Events; Photo: Wedlock Images
“I think Pinterest can be a really great way to expand your horizon,” Sarah says. “A lot of people haven’t had a wedding before. There are so many ideas you can do with lighting, printed goods, and hairstyles and a lot of brides don’t have time to come up with all of the ideas on their own. Being able to see what others have done really can help.”
This experienced, Nashville-based event planner advises brides to share their Pinterest boards with vendors and let the vendors offer their professional expertise on how to tailor the idea into something unique to the bride and groom. She also warns brides to limit themselves to three to five projects — brides will have enough on their plates with all the planning as it is.
Above all, brides should be realistic with themselves when using Pinterest and incorporating DIY projects found on the site. Pinterest has a tricky way of convincing you that any DIY project is a great one to take on, but that’s not always true.
“Pinterest could very easily overwhelm a bride and set up unrealistic expectations,” Sarah says. “Not everyone is super crafty, nor do they have the time or money to do all these projects. Besides, projects can get expensive very quickly. It’s easy for people to think these Pinterest ideas are easy to accomplish, but not realize how much money goes into them.”
How do you use Pinterest during your wedding planning process? Do you find it more helpful or overwhelming? Tell us in the comments section below.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
There are only a few things that you actually get to walk away with after your wedding day: memories, pictures, gifts and most importantly, your gown. Believe me, I know trusting one of your most treasured and expensive possessions with a stranger is something that can keep you up at night. Thankfully, Oakwood Cleaners is here to calm your fears and make sure your wedding dress is not only spotless after your big day, but will also stand the test of time. Who knows, your daughter may actually want to wear your beloved gown one day!
To give us some insight on this process, we spoke with Rhonda Wernick, who is not only the owner of Oakwood Cleaners but is also a board member of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists! She helped us to understand some common fears that brides have during this process and also why it really is imperative to clean and preserve your gown.
Photo: Oakwood Cleaners
Why should brides get their gown professionally cleaned after their wedding?
Your gown means the world to you and you will never forget how you felt in it, and how it still makes you feel to this day. You danced, laughed, cried, drank, ate, hugged, all on the biggest day of your life. No matter how careful you are, your gown is a magnet for food particles, drinks and perspiration; there is ground-in dirt from hours of sweeping the floor. Even hugs from family and friends can transfer oil and dirt that can ruin your gown. If you want to keep it for the next generation then cleaning and/or preservation is a must.
What are some typical concerns that you hear from brides who are unsure about this process?
Some concerns that we commonly hear are: Who is cleaning the gown? Will it be sent away away? What kind of cleaning agent is being used? Will my gown be cleaned with other clothing or another gown? The gown is delicate or a family heirloom, what if something happens?
How do you calm those fears?
We begin the process by talking with each bride about any specific concerns that she may have (stains, damage, loose embellishments, etc.). Each gown is treated individually on a case-by-case basis, as if it were our very own. We will have the gown for two to four months and you can rest assured knowing that your gown will not be sent to a mass-production cleaning plant, we do all of our own cleaning and preservation in house. Finally, we have a pressing specialist on site who will carefully inspect the gown and make sure it is returned just as beautiful as the day you wore it.
Photo: Association of Wedding Gown Specialists
This certainly helps to ease my mind and I hope it does yours too! Oakwood Cleaners is a family owned business that has been in Nashville for over 15 years. They are Nashville’s only members of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists and are also certified couture cleaners, so you can have confidence in the fact that no matter what the fabric or difficulty level of the wedding gown, Oakwood will handle it with expert care.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
At our Smart Bride Boot Camp last winter brides wanted our thoughts on wedding insurance. Sarah Goude of Regalo Design shared with us a situation she encountered where the newly finished floors at a venue were damaged. With a repair bill in the tens of thousands of dollars, this couple was lucky to have had limited liability, escaping a major cost!
Photo: The Smart Bride workshop; The Collection
For many people, a wedding can be one of the single most expensive days in their lives. Just as you would have insurance for your other major assets, like your home or vehicles, having insurance for your wedding is something to consider. While we all wish for a perfect wedding day that goes on without a hitch, behind the scenes there is always a Plan B - just in case. Think of wedding insurance as a Plan C, to ensure that your financial risk is limited in an emergency situation, such as a fire, vendor bankruptcy or major injury. With multiple vendors, furnishings, locations and gifts to consider, the financial implications of any unfortunate event can be dramatic. If you’re a numbers person like I am, knowing that the investment you are making on your wedding day is protected (no matter what!) can provide great peace of mind in a time that is often very busy and stressful.
Venue Add-on Policy
There are several different options when it comes to insurance coverage for your wedding day. Some venues will require an application through their own insurer to protect their building and finishes. This is the option I went with for my wedding, and it was a very easy process that was included in our venue fees. Be sure to ask your venue about any requirements they may have, like not having lit candles and sparklers, or having a certain number of security personnel and licensed bartenders for your guests. This type of insurance usually covers anything that is the property of the venue, which can include tables, chairs, flooring or common areas, but does not usually cover any of your own property, like your dress, gifts or rentals brought into the space.
Current Insurance Policy
For many homeowners or renters insurance policies, a rider can be added to cover any expenses that you might be liable for. Calling your current insurer and requesting a quote is a great place to start, as this option is usually fairly affordable and easy to obtain. This type of insurance could cover a personal accident onsite, or the value of any rentals, decor or gifts that you have brought into your venue. A rider can also cover the use of the venue and its property, and some venues will require that you show a Certificate of Liability. If you are renting tables, chairs, serving ware, lighting or other expensive elements, you will want to check with your rental company to see if they require a certain amount of coverage while the rentals are in your possession.
Separate Insurance Policy
It is also possible to obtain a separate policy with another insurance company entirely to cover your wedding and related events (i.e. a rehearsal dinner). You can also take out a policy to cover non-refundable costs should your wedding need to be cancelled or postponed. You can tailor this policy to cover exactly what you want to protect, including rentals, gifts or vehicles. Liability insurance can also protect you in the event that a staff member becomes injured, or guests receive food poisoning.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to add your new sparkly ring to your insurance, as jewelry like an engagement ring usually requires a separate rider on your policy. Most policies will require a certificate of sale, or an independent value from a jeweler in order to set up this type of protection. Covering loss, theft or damage to your wedding rings, it is certainly worth taking the time to make sure your investments are protected for a lifetime wear!
Monday, August 11, 2014
When my husband and I were planning our wedding, giving our guests one heck of a fun, memorable party was one of our main goals. One way we went about doing this was choosing to have a live band for our entertainment. And let me tell you, it was one of THE BEST wedding decisions we ever made. Our guests still rave about it over a year later!
I know that a live band is not for everyone and for every budget, but if budget does allow and you are thinking about hiring a band to entertain your guests for the evening, you'll want to make sure you ask all the right questions to ensure you're getting the best band for your reception – and most importantly, one that will keep the dance floor packed all night!
We sat down with Blue Tone Music & Entertainment, (who are experts in choosing the right wedding band because they represent some of Nashville’s most popular ones!) to discuss some of the questions you should ask before signing on the dotted line:
Do they play a wide range of music?
You and your fiancé may absolutely love country, and only country, but your guests want to hear everything from “Friends in Low Places” to “My Way” and “Livin’ On a Prayer.” Make sure the band is versatile enough to entertain all tastes!
What instruments are included in the price?
Most bands have at least five pieces: piano, guitar, bass guitar, drums and a vocalist. While these five pieces can definitely translate into a great band, adding horns (saxophone, trumpet, trombone, etc.) can really add a special element to the evening – a really fun element! Just make sure when you speak with the band, you know what instruments are included in the price. If they don’t include an instrument that you want, just ask! More than likely it can be added.
How many hours will the band play?
Most receptions last three to four hours, in turn, most bands are contracted to play for three to four hours. If you are planning a reception that will be longer than four hours, make sure to ask the band about their hourly policy. In most cases, they will be happy to accommodate for as long as you need them for an extra fee.
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making the decision on which band to hire. If you have more questions or are considering hiring a live band for your reception, be sure to give Blue Tone Music & Entertainment a call at (615) 352-6358 or visit their website at bluetonemusicusa.com to get the planning process underway!