Tree Tops Resort, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Secrets Aura Resort and Spa, Cozumel, Mexico
Riu Palace Resort and Spa, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Here you will find both our upcoming (above) and previous travel destinations (below).
We hope you find the information useful as you decide your next vacation.
Feel free to contact us with any questions about the destinations or resorts.
Check back often to see updated content and new destinations!
Gatlinburg, TN and the Smoky Mountains
Our spotlight takes us to the Smoky Mountains. This will actually be our first ever trip to this area. We are using our vacation club to stay in a condo and enjoy the area. Full review will be published in early September.
For our honeymoon and first real trip as a couple, we went to Jamaica and stayed on the north coast. At the time in 2001 (YES, we know it was 20 years ago), the particular resort was a SuperClubs brand and was the Grand Lido Sans Souci Resort.
They have undergone a major restructure and rebranding, but the service, food, and overall all inclusive vibe had us hooked. This particular resort is now Couples Sans Souci.
In July 2003, we went back to Jamaica and decided to stay in the Negril area. We chose Couples Swept Away mainly for the spa and fitness amenities this particular resort offered.
A very nice resort with great service and food. However, back then there were no televisions in the rooms which may be an issue for some. Not surprising given the focus on wellness for this resort.
In November 2014, we came back to this island paradise. This time we stayed at what is now called Sandals South Coast. This was a nice area and resort. It lived up to the Sandals brand expectations.
At the time of our stay, they did not have the over the water bungalows. This is a developing area of Jamaica that will likely see growth in the coming years.
Our first trip to the Dominican Republic was in July 2011 to the Punta Cana area. We stayed at Excellence Punta Cana. This was an excellent resort as the name implies with top notch service, food, and attention to detail.
We also met a real estate agent on this trip to investigate purchasing a condo. We saw great locations and units, but decided it was too saturated with all inclusive resorts to be a profitable vacation rental. We definitely recommend Milos Korac, for area real estate needs.
We went on a Royal Caribbean cruise in September 2007 with a stop at the port of Labadee, Haiti. This is your typical tourist port with shopping, beach access, and other typical items.
It is actually a beautiful area and country, but we were struck by the utter poverty you could see as the ship sailed close to the coast.
On the same cruise in 2007, we also stopped in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We explored the city of San Juan and saw some of the beautiful island. We felt very safe and had no concerns while exploring the city.
Hopefully, things have rebounded after the destructive hurricanes in recent years.
We went on a Royal Caribbean cruise in September 2007 with a stop at the port of Philipsburg. This is a beautiful island and is very unique with the two very different Dutch and French sides. It is basically visiting two islands in one.
We decided to stay somewhere off the beaten path and decided on Antigua in July 2008. This was our first time at Sandals Resorts and we stayed at Sandals Grande Antigua. Very nice property with large guest rooms.
Sandals did not disappoint with service, food, spa, and overall amenities. The beach is very nice and the water is great. The only real negative was how long it took to fly out to the island. Once we arrived, it was all rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
In June 2004, we decided to try another SuperClubs property. We stayed at Breezes Resort and Spa located in Nassau right on Cable Beach. This property is still under the SuperClubs umbrella.
This is a small property with a nice beach and the food was outstanding. There were many recent high school graduates at the resort when we were there. This was not too much of an issue as we were a bit younger then. Winning some money at the nearby casino was definitely a highlight of the trip.
We decided to venture off the beaten path and landed in Costa Rica in March 2009. We researched and decided to look at purchasing vacation condo units. The Puntarenas region (central Pacific) is a hidden gem. There are no resort developments outside of thLos Suenos Marriott. The Jaco area is primarily all vacation condo developments.
We ultimately purchased a luxury condo in July 2009. We bought here due to the central location, easy access to all the activities, and lack of resort competition.
Although we did not purchase a condo in this area, we certainly explored the region in detail. From Coco Beach to Flamingo Beach to Hermosa Beach, the views are stunning with lush tropical rain forest around you.
Visitors fly into Liberia International Airport and are a short transfer away from rejuvenation. This area has numerous all inclusive resorts (including Secrets and Dreams) and smaller boutique getaways for both the beach lover and the jungle adventurer.
Way back in July 2005, we made our first trip to the Riviera Maya area of Mexico. We stayed at the Spa Palace Resort. We purposely chose this resort for the spa and wanted to focus on revitalizing and relaxing. The spa did not disappoint and was first rate.
This particular location is no longer a Palace Resort brand and is now a Hard Rock property.
We also took the opportunity to make our first visit to the Mayan ruins at Tulum. The ocean view is certainly something you will remember.
In November 2019, we stayed at Secrets Capri in the Riviera Cancun area. It was probably the lowest level Secrets Resort at the time of our stay. The physical facilities needed a lot of work evident by the leaking roofs. The service and food were very good and the resort was smaller so easy to navigate. That also made it popular with an older crowd. This property is no longer part of the Secrets brand.
While in the area, we also visited Secrets Maroma which is a top notch resort.
In September 2020, we visited Secrets Playa Mujeres Resort and Spa. We were impressed by the resort's attention to detail and cleaning protocols amid the pandemic. Of course, the resort was at reduced occupancy and not all the services normally in place were operating. However, there is a Dreams (family oriented while Secrets is adult only) right next door so we had privileges to use their facilities as well. Like getting two resorts in one.
We took a cruise to Isla Mujeres which we recommend.
Our first time to Cozumel was in December 2020. Yes, the sunsets are more beautiful than the photo suggests. We stayed at Secrets Aura Resort and Spa. This is an older resort which is undergoing updates. It is a lower level Secrets but we had a great time. Our room was ocean front and great snorkeling right there.
We definitely recommend taking a tour of the island. Very easy to rent a vehicle or use a tour company to navigate the island.
Fly directly into Cozumel if possible.
Although we have not specifically stayed in Cancun, we have been through the area. They call it a "hotel zone" for a reason and we have decided to stay in areas a little less crowded with more resort-like properties.
However, for those of you that like everything at your finger tips and a bit more party atmosphere, Cancun is a great destination.
Our first trip to the Cabo area was in October 2017. We stayed at the Marquis Los Cabos Resort. This property was formerly under the Secrets brand but was independent when we stayed there. Top notch in every aspect and the spa was outstanding. The ocean is not swimmable, but the beach was nice.
We began working with a real estate agent on this trip to investigate purchasing a condo. Her name is Suzanne Bruinsma and we absolutely recommend her, if you are interested in purchasing in the Cabo area.
Our next trip to the Cabo area was in April 2019. We stayed at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Resort. Puerto Los Cabos is a development just to east of San Jose del Cabo. This area is a bit less hectic and more laid back than the town of Los Cabos itself which is about 30 minutes away.
This property is also top notch in all aspects and the grounds are beautiful. We thought enough of this property that we decided to join Unlimited Vacation Club while on this trip. We very much like the Cabo area.
We visited Puerto Vallarta in May 2021. We took my parents on this trip as well. We stayed at Secrets Vallarta Bay Resort and Spa. This resort is more hotel-like and we were on the penthouse floor. Seeing those views in person is worth the trip down there.
We had a great week. The town is very safe and was an easy walk from the resort. Highly recommend this area.
We stayed at Secrets Huatulco Resort and Spa in June 2022. It was a birthday and anniversary getaway. Really interesting area located on the south Pacific coast of Mexico. It appears to be an up and coming tourist region but definitely has a traditional Mexican vibe.
There are several protected bay areas and thousands of acres of protected rainforest. It can be a bit difficult to get flights down there, but is worth the trouble.
We are members of Unlimited Vacation Club. This vacation club uses the AMR Collection as destinations and it is part of the Apple Leisure Group. Zoetry, Secrets, Dreams, and Sunscape are some of the resort bra. Destinations include Mexico, the Caribbean, and recent expansion in Europe. Contact us for more information.