Finding Paradise at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana

Late afternoon, I am gently floating at the edge of the perfect infinity pool, overlooking the beautiful beach of Zoetry Agua Punta Cana. All I can hear are the gentle waves of the ocean, some birds screeching and the distant chill out music. The peace and calm is incredible. Until, all of a sudden, a dark, saddled horse flies along the water’s edge. Shortly after, a rider is coming in sight, trying to catch the escaped stallion. A fleeting glimpse of excitement before everything becomes still again. But wait, there sprints the resort’s heavy set security guard towards the resort grounds. What is going on, I wonder and then I see. The dark stallion has taken a drastic turn and instead of continuing to run along the beach, decided to escape through the middle of Zoetry’s beautifully manicured grounds.

zoetry agua, pool, punta cana, honeymoon, ocean, aavexplorationsThis is the most excitement and action I got to experience during my time at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana. But then again, the people that stay here are looking for anything but excitement and action. It is an oasis of tranquility and relaxation, and it is beautifully done. Guests stay here because they want to escape the hectic world, take a holistic approach, both via organic food as well as spa indulgences.

The resort grounds are beautifully lush with swaying palmtrees and many flower bushes. Three story palapa buildings containing luxuriously spacious suites, sprawl out along meandering pools. Zoetry Agua reminds me of Tahiti. But wait, we are in the Dominican Republic, not far from all the mega resorts that call Punta Cana their home.

zoetry, agua, punta cana, aavexplorations, allinclusive, palapazoetry agua, zoetry, punta cana, swim up, all-inclusive, aavtravelEvery suite at Zoetry Agua has a wonderful outdoor area and people here like to enjoy the privacy of their rooms. Who can blame them though, they are truly gorgeous. Some are laying out reading books. Some are engaged into a loveable embrace chatting away. Some are here with friends, gathering in one of the suites’ swim-up pools.
zoetry agua, all-inclusive, penthouse suite, aavtravelzoetry agua, punta cana, beachfront suite, plunge pool, aavtravelThe world seems perfect and there is nothing to worry about. Guests at Zoetry Agua keep to themselves but are friendly when engaged. The suites are great, spacious, every comfort provided. I really enjoyed the subtle, Balinese style décor, the Bulgari amenities as well as the awesome steam wand provided. I also liked that there was a decent hair dryer. My daughters and I have an ongoing discussion about how often toilet paper is of bad quality at hotels. Well, I am glad to report that Zoetry has excellent toilet paper.
zoetry agua, punta cana, penthouse suite, dominican republic, aavtravelDespite all the beauty, arriving on a Sunday was not ideal. Much of the resort staff is off and service is very slow. During my 4 hours along the beach and pool area, I was not once offered a drink. I ran into some guests that had been there for a while and they told me that this had been the first day it happened. And they were right, come Monday beach waiter service was readily available. There was way more staff visible around the property, eagerly cleaning and taking care of all guests’ needs. Always a smile, always a friendly hola. A truly welcoming atmosphere.
zoetry agua, punta cana, beach, oceanfront, all-inclusive, aavtravelMany of the staff do not speak enough English and oftentimes have trouble answering even the most basic questions. Personally, it is something I like, as it makes you engage more with the local culture, learn some words in a different language, and use your hands and feet to communicate. It is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding.
zoetry agua, piragua restaurant, punta canaThat evening I went to dinner at Piragua. The menu looked exciting and I opted for a tuna sashimi, followed by a pumpkin cream soup. Main course was chicken on a lemongrass sauce with couscous. The sashimi was good, very thinly sliced, almost like a carpaccio. It had slightly too much soy sauce. The pumpkin cream could have been excellent, but unfortunately was lukewarm. The chicken skewers were served in a Teriyaki sauce which, since it was supposed to be lemongrass, I didn’t expect. The food tasted good with the exception of one skewer that was undercooked. The passion fruit chocolate mousse combo was excellent but lacking in presentation. All in all I would rate my food experience as good, not excellent, but still better than many other all-inclusive resorts. Breakfast was a similar experience. Some ingredients weren’t in the omelet I ordered which still tasted fine. The bacon was overcooked, the sausages good but cold. Again, I didn’t eat badly but since this is a luxury all-inclusive resort, I expected more.
zoetry agua, breakfast, egss, all-inclusive, aavtravelAll around, I had a wonderful stay at Zoetry Agua Punta Cana and would go back in a heartbeat. The property is so beautiful, the pool area absolutely stunning and the beach peaceful, secluded and well maintained. The relaxing atmosphere of the resort is hard to come by at an all-inclusive and it is wonderful not having to worry about being able to snag a palapa, or find a great chair by the pool. With only 96 rooms it feels like a privilege to stay here. I also loved that wifi was easily available and reliable throughout the property.

zoetry agua, punta cana, all-inclusive, aavtravelstefanie pichonnat aavtravelWritten by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is a Honeymoon & Destination Weddings Specialist. She is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

 

 

Maui: The Magic Isle – Ka’anapali, Lahaina & Hana

kapalua, maui, sunset, hawaii, aavtravel The second largest island and likely the most popular one. Maui is known as the paradise of endless sunshine and glorious beaches. It will surprise you to know that it has a smaller population than you would imagine! Small towns and resorts spread throughout the island. Maui’s beaches have repeatedly been voted as some of the best in the world. If not the beach you can always explore the majestic peaks of the West Maui Mountains or venture into the lush green rainforest of Waihe’e Valley. No visit to Maui is complete without a drive along the road to Hana. Take your time to truly enjoy this magical experience!

Maui Attractions:

‘Iao Valley State Park – This peaceful and lush area centers around Kukaemoku, a towering rock that soars 1,200-feet high and is best seen in the early morning. The State Park offers plenty of hikes that will take you through rich foliage, natural pools and mountain views.

iao valley, iao needle, kukaemoku, maui, aavtravel, hawaiiiao valley, maui, aavtravel, hawaiiWhale Watching:  – During the wintertime (December – April) on the Auau Channel (between Maui, Lanai and Molokai) is one of the absolute best places in the whole world to go whale watching. If that’s one of the main activities you want to do on your vacation, this is your place.

Maui Beaches – There are over 80 beaches to choose from on the island, with a total of 120 miles of shoreline. Makena State Park is one of Maui’s largest beaches. Lazing in the sun, swimming, surfing, beach-combing, how amazing is that?

maui, beach, kapalua, aavtravelHaleakala National Park – Maui’s highest peak on the island. Can you imagine watching a sunrise with your loved one at 9, 740 ft atop the Haleakala crater?

haleakala, volacno, sunrise, maui, hawaii, aavtravelhaleakala, volcano, maui, hawaii, aavtravelHistoric Lahaina Town – This former whaling village has been transformed into more than 40 art galleries and restaurants. If you are on Maui during whale watching season you will likely join an excursion departing from Lahaina Harbor.

Road to Hana – Over 600 turns and 54 bridges will take you along the world-famous Road to Hana. It is an unforgettable experience! Make sure you take the time to slow down and enjoy the ride – you will find picture opportunities around every corner. At the end of the journey you will find the town of Hana. Make sure to stop by the charming Hasegawa General Store, a local institution since 1910.

maui, black sand, beach, hawaii, aavtravel

maui, hana, aavtravel, hawaiiHonolua Bay – is famous for its Big Wave surfing during the winter time

Tedeschi Winery/Maui Winery – Ever wonder what Hawaiian wine tastes like? This is your opportunity!

Snorkeling at Black Rock – Kaanapali Beach is one of Maui’s finest and Black Rock provides some great fish watching.

maui, coastal, hawaii, aavtravelWritten by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
STEFANIE
PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

 

in conjunstephanie jellett aavtravelction with

STEPHANIE JELLETTE

Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at stephanieljellett@gmail.com

Sandals La Source Grenada – the sizzling hot all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean

Grenada has been on top of my bucket list for a long time. I was hooked ever since I first tasted an authentic rum punch with a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg at a traditional Grenadian restaurant in Zurich Switzerland in 2002. My friend Yvonne who invited me there, had traveled to many Caribbean islands at the time. She insisted that Grenada was the fairest and friendliest of them all. Little did I know, it would take less than 15 minutes for me to fall in love with this beautiful island.

grenada, rum, aavtravelGrenada – also know as the Spice Island – is located South of the hurricane belt, making it an excellent option for summer wedding couples looking for a Caribbean honeymoon without the hurricane threat. GND – Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport – is slightly outdated but fairly large and very convenient. Much better than many of its Caribbean neighbor islands. The airport’s runway has water on both sides which provides a little extra thrill when landing.

grenada, airport, sandals, stefanie pichonnat, aavtravel As soon as you get out of the airport you will start noticing the green rolling hills, long swaying grass, flowers and palm and fruit trees. What a great way to be welcomed to this lush island! You also immediately notice the rock–dark and very distinctively volcanic. The drive from the airport to Sandals La Source Grenada is less than 10 minutes, which is an extra perk after a day of travel.

Arriving at Sandals La Source literally means driving down a hill into a village. The lobby is airy and very welcoming. Sandals La Source is made up of several villages. Unlike other Sandals properties these are very sleek, almost a bit Asian inspired. There is a nice mix of rondovals, two-story cottage looking buildings, as well as a few high rise buildings.

sandals, grenada, pink gin, aavtravelWith the exception of the “Pink Gin Village” (pictured above) all buildings at Sandals La Source were built from scratch. No expense was spared to create some of the most luxurious and at times, sexy accommodations. Everything there is for a romantic, but also fun-filled vacation. The new building blocks are off the beach. Some have views of the distant ocean, some overlook the rolling hills, some overlook the beautiful gardens and pools. A couple of romantic rondovals cluster in the middle of the property. Those offer the ultimate in privacy and romance and offer a charming focal point with their thatched roof tops.

sandals, grenada, rondoval, aavtrave;The Pink Gin Village is located closest to the beach. It consists of the the original “LaSource Resort” which Sandals bought in 2013. Each building has several floors and the rooms were beautifully redone. The balconies are fairly small but the sound of the ocean carries right into these rooms. Just imagine laying in bed and falling asleep to the gentle sound of the waves.

sandals, grenada, pink gin, beach, aavtravelAs with all Sandals resorts there are many inclusions; from gourmet restaurants, bars, land and water activities as well as entertainment. Sandals Grenada will keep you busy! Here are a few things that deserve to be highlighted in particular:

Workout
If you are a fitness buff you will love finding this brand new, state of the art fitness center. Numerous treadmills, elliptical and weight stations await, all overlooking the beautiful lush gardens of Sandals La Source. A wonderful, air-conditioned area to burn some extra calories.

sandals, grenada, fitness, workout, aavtravelSushi
You might think, did she really just say sushi? Absolutely.  True sushi lovers know that this particular delicacy can be a hit or miss at an all-inclusive resort. Not at Sandals’ La Source. Soys sushi chef, Berwin Barraca, makes some of the best sushi we’ve ever had. So if you are a true sushi lover, this might just be your all-inclusive resort.

Butch’s Steak House
The newest addition to the Sandals restaurant family. The first ever Steakhouse at a Sandals resort, serving some fantastic meat. Expectations were high, given that it carries the Sandals Chairman and Founder’s name. It simply had to be good and truly did not disappoint!

Bathrooms
Yes, bathrooms. Some of the most spectacular might I add. You might just end up spending a couple of hours!

sandals, la source, grenada, bathroom, aavtravelThe resort is wonderful no doubt, but what about the island?
Air lift to Grenada is still limited but both, the islands’ government as well as the Sandals & Beaches management are working on getting more airlines to service Grenada. Either way, you simply need to make it to this beautiful Caribbean paradise. If not convinced yet, allow Zach and Morgan, both students in Grenada, tell you more.

stefanie pichonnat aavtravel

 

Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Certified Sandals & Beaches Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

Where to Stay in Fiji? Vomo Island Resort — A Romantic and Active Island Getaway

Just 15 minutes north via helicopter or seaplane from Nadi International Airport on the main island, Vomo is a luxurious island resort with endless possibilities. Vomo is the northernmost island of the Mamanucas, just before the Yasawa island chain begins.  Mount Vomo is located on the its eastern side, and those who dare to conquer it can get a breathtaking 30 degree view.

vomo island resort fiji

Your Stay
There are four different types of accommodations to choose from on Vomo. There are 28 luxurious beachfront villas with a personal deck and a place to lounge. Imagine waking up in paradise and only being steps away from the sandy beach. There are also private hillside and garden villas that are below the lower slopes of Mt. Vomo and offer breathtaking views of the gardens, island or ocean.  Both the beachfront and private villas sleeps either three adults, or two adults and two children.

Vomo Fiji aavtravel The Royal is your own private getaway of true Fijian style living. With a maximum of six guests, there are three ensuite rooms, separate dining, kitchen and living areas, entertainment space and a great outdoor oasis–with your own private pool. Does it get any better than that?

Vomo Fiji aavtravel If you need more room, The Residence offers up to eight guests their own private island lifestyle at their own compound. There’s a full kitchen so you can cook up something yourself or choose on-site catering. There’s also indoor and outdoor dining, entertainment area, and there’s a free 24 hour butler service. Another perk, you’ll get sunset canapés and a bottle of champagne on arrival.

Vomo Fiji aavtravel

Kid’s are welcome in paradise
At Vomo, they understand that family is important. Which is why the resort is family-friendly. There is a “kid-village” facility (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) specifically for the children. All ages are welcome, but children under four are to be accompanied by a parent or a ‘baby butler’ (an additional charge). If you are there with your children and want to enjoy the spa for a couple hours, the staff at the kid village will keep them entertained with group activities, treasure hunts and crafts. The kid village is a complimentary service available during the day and into the evening. You can relax and know that your kids are having just as much as you are!

vomo fiji pool aavtravelThe Fun Never Ends
At Vomo, you can have endless amounts of fun–on land and the water! From building sand castles on the beach, splashing around in the pool, windsurfing, Hobbie Cats, paddle boarding, single and double kayaks (also glass bottom kayaks!) and who can forget snorkeling?! You can snorkel off the beach or go on a guided excursion offered everyday at 11 a.m. Snorkeling around Vomo and the close by private island is absolutely spectacular! Hands down some of the best we’ve ever experienced. The new PADI Dive Centre is great for all levels of experience–beginner to advanced–and they offer an array of courses.

vomo stand-up paddle board, aavtravelThere’s plenty to do on land as well to keep you busy. As a guest you have access to the tennis courts, gym, hiking and jogging trails, badminton and volleyball nets. There’s also a 9 hole-par 3 golf course on the island. So for golf lovers, you won’t have to worry about letting your swing get away over your vacation. And what a better way to spend a beautiful morning out on the course, underneath coconut trees?

vomo fiji golf aavtravelFor additional costs, there are also other activities available at Vomo, such as: deep sea fishing, sunset cruises, island hopping tours, Fijian village tours and trip to Cloud Break for surfing.

Vomo Fiji aavtravel A Personal Touch
Vomo can even be booked for private hire, like a destination wedding, special occasion or corporate event. Imagine having a whole island for just you and your guests! The staff at Vomo will be at your service to make sure everything is perfect, just for you. 

Or to add a little romance into your stay, you can book a private picnic for two on the sister island, Vomo Lailai. The best part? You’ll be dropped off with a gourmet picnic, chilled drinks and a two-way radio, and it’s only a two minutes away by boat. You can stay as long as you like! When you’re ready to return back “home” you can just radio in and staff will come pick you up, or simply just swim back. It’s your own little deserted island.

Vomo Fiji aavtravel Vomo is one of the more “lifestyle” oriented resorts in the Fijian islands. Almost a bit hip if you like. US viewers might even recall the resort being featured in the “The Bachelorette” Season 7. Here is a short clip of the final Rose Ceremony where Ashley stands at the beach with Vomo Lailai (little Vomo) in the backdrop.

Aren’t those drift wood flower decorations just gorgeous? Fijian resorts are generally a wonderful option when it comes to destination weddings. Perfect to elope to!

Another famous guest of the island was Prince Albert of Monaco. Him and his new wife stopped there on their honeymoon.

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Written by STEPHANIE JELLETT
Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at stephanieljellett@gmail.com


in conjunction with AAV Travel’s Fiji Expert


stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
STEFANIE
PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the South Pacific Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

Beaches – Turks and Caicos

The Turks & Caicos Islands, a British Dependent Territory comprising 40 islands and cays, lie at the southeastern end of the Bahamas chain, 575 miles southeast of Miami and 90 miles north of the island of Hispaniola.

Arriving at Providenciales (Provo) airport is very special. Provo is the largest and most developed of the Turks & Caicos Islands. The airport is very small, no buzz but warm and welcoming smiles upon arrival. Only 12 days of rain per year make for a very dry climate and vegetation is scarce. Since most everything on the island is imported it is a very expensive place. For example a gallon of milk costs approx. US$ 8.00.

The drive to Beaches takes about 20 minutes. Along the way you will see houses and strip malls. What will strike you the most when you enter the gates to Beaches are the lush tropical gardens. The owners of Beaches have taken great care into bringing many beautiful plants to their resort so that it will truly look tropical and gorgeous.

Beaches Turks & Caicos

Beaches Turks & Caicos is split into three sections which are all very different. The Italian Village is the newest addition. The resort offers 16 restaurants, 13 bars, a wonderful waterpark catering to little ones as well as older children and adults with some great water slides and a surf simulator. As an all-inclusive resort, Beaches Turks is truly an all-rounder. It is a great place for families, destination weddings, larger family getaways… Anyone will find something to do, and no one will feel left out.

The beach is white sand with crystal clear turquoise blue water. Since the resort is large you will always find a quiet area or nook if you are not too much into action. There are 3 large pools, numerous swim-up bars and much more. At night there is Club Liquid which is available to children and adults until 10pm, and after that adult only. There are several adult only restaurants and bars, incl. karaoke bar and mock casino gaming. Smaller children will be entertained by the Sesame Street day and evening programs.

Whilst you can book Sandals resorts online I strongly recommend using a travel professional, preferably a Sandals certified specialist (such as us). There are several reasons for that.

One being that not all resorts are created equal and that there is a reason why some price higher than others. Also, not every resort is for everyone. In Beaches Turks’ case you also have the choice between three villages which ultimately are very different.

Sandals also has numerous room categories and finding the right one for you can be very confusing.

Another reason not to hesitate to use a travel professional is that Sandals offers a Best Price Guarantee, meaning that no one, not even the booking engine, can offer a different price on their product. What does that mean for you? You can get the expert advice without worrying about price. No matter where you book, it will always be the same.

Feel free to contact us with any questions, and make sure to check out our photo gallery

Certified Sandals Specialist

Gordon "Butch" Stewart and Stefanie at Beaches Turks & Caicos