Tag Archives: multi-generational travel

Planning Around The Holidays

Experience a magical time of Christmas in Europe
Experience a magical time of Christmas in Europe

Hope everyone is in a festive spirit and getting ready for a wonderful holiday! In addition to shopping and trimming the tree, TET has been busy checking out a host of  resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean and learning what’s new out there for couples in love, families looking to spend quality time, destination weddings your guests will never forget, girlfriend getaways, bachelor groups and MORE! To see pictures from our latest trips visit Total Experience Travel’s Facebook page There are plenty of albums to get lost in, and more to come.  Look for Jamaica in January!

Know someone getting engaged? Recommend a trusted travel pro for their honeymoon or destination wedding!
Know someone getting engaged? Recommend a trusted travel pro for their honeymoon or destination wedding planning.

Did you know it’s not only the holidays but, it’s engagement season? More couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentines day, than any other time of year.  Did you also know that more than 70% of couples choose an all-inclusive tropical honeymoon?  As a certified Honeymoon/Destination Wedding Specialist, I CAN tell you why!


Whether in the Caribbean or Mexico, there is an all inclusive resort for every style and budget. Ask me which is best for you
Whether in the Caribbean or Mexico, there is an all inclusive resort for every style and budget. Ask me which is best for you.

I will help YOU decide which resort and room is best,  be there for you from research thru return, add personal touches & perks –that only a live trusted agent can! Don’t listen to what those paid advertisements tell you, collaborate with someone you can trust. Pssst- it’s the same cost as doing it all yourself.

Christmastime is about the joy of giving. Give the best gift of all, the gift of travel!  It’s not to early to start planning for next Christmas and not too late to plan for that family Spring Break in 2017.  I have all kinds of wonderful recommendations; something to fit every style.

A favorite for FAMILIES and GROUPS – old and young! Books up fast – don’t wait to contact me.



Ask me about my new favorite family resort.



New Year's Eve in the Caribbean!
New Year’s Eve in the Caribbean! Don’t wait – contact me today!


Or the hottest New Year’s Eve party in the Caribbean! There’s still limited space for 2016 and it’s NOT too early to plan for 2017!



Still not sure where to go next year – read my latest Travel Tips with info on Alaska, traveling abroad, ship nightlife, and Disney cruises for inspiration.  Then, contact me to start planning! I am specialized in All Inclusive Resorts, Ocean & River Cruises, and Guided Tours because these vacations offer best values and are the kind my family and I love to take!  What I haven’t done personally, my clients or peers have.  In addition to expertise, I’m independent so, can be objective when planning a vacation that’s just right for YOU!  It’s a No Brainer

Chris Rakes - Travel Planner & Honeymoon / Destination Wedding Specialist
Chris Rakes – Travel Planner & Honeymoon / Destination Wedding Specialist

When you are ready to plan, plan with Chris 919.589.2437 / info@totalexperiencetravel.com

Happy Holidays from Total Experience Travel!
Happy Holidays from Total Experience Travel!



What does luxury travel mean to you?

Luxury Travel.  You may not miss it, but when you have it you will appreciate the heightened experience. Read below and contact me to see if, you agree!

Multigenerational family vacation
Multigenerational family vacation

A welcoming greeting and smile.  You are sure to notice and feel special when everywhere you go gracious staff are saying hello, asking about your stay and what more they can do for you.

Extra towels without asking. As every woman with chin length hair and longer knows, we need more than one bath towel! What a delight it is when housekeeping gives you multiple bath, hand and wash towels without ever having to request them.


Maid service twice per day with turndown service.   Who needs turndown service you ask?  Probably no one.  But, I can promise you that after two days if, it’s late, you’ll be looking for it! Coming back to the room to find those heavy shades drawn, your luxurious spa bath products restocked, and your silky soft bed linens exposed and ready for slipping in – will have you saying oohlala.

True mixologists who craft your cocktail.  I recently had a bartender who took a good 3 minutes to make me a Grey Goose Cosmopolitan. At first I thought, wow this is a process. Then I noticed he had my martini glass set aside filled with ice giving it time to chill, while he carefully selected and squeezed fresh ingredients. After a good shake and strained pour, I was expecting a lot. I was not disappointed! It was truly the best Cosmo I’ve had to date.

Choose from a variety of different a la carte dining cuisines and indoor or outdoor seating
Choose from a variety of different a la carte dining cuisines and indoor or outdoor seating

A la carte and fine dining. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had delicious and fresh food at buffets and made to order stations, no question.  But, when your vacation includes a la carte restaurants and you get to choose between French, Italian, Sushi, Indian, Mediterranean, Japanese Hibachi, Seafood or Steakhouse each night; that is quite a perk! When you can additionally count on the service and food being above average to exceptional, that is AWESOME!!

Waiters with recommendations. When you are a foodie like me, this means a lot to you.  Experienced discerning diners want recommendations and inside information from those who know the restaurant best. Waiters who are in tuned to what other patrons are ordering, what they are seeing and tasting in the kitchen, and familiar with chefs’ specialties offer an added valuable touch to the dining experience.

Exceptional service, drinks and food.
Exceptional service, drinks and food.

Good coffee.  I’m not a coffee connoisseur but, I know what I like.  I also know that Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee sells for about $20-$22 per pound. To be able to make this in my room at any time and order it at any restaurant is something I appreciate. For a coffee lover, it adds immeasurable value.

Premium liquor and restocked bars. As an all inclusive expert, the hesitation about watered down drinks is one I hear a lot. I tell my clients it’s not a mystery – expect to get what you pay for! I can personally attest to being at resorts where I watched as they opened new bottles of Grey Goose vodka in front of me. On more than one occasion, I’ve had to ask the bartender to put more mixer in my drink because it was too strong.  Do I think there are resorts where they water down their drinks? Probably. Do I know for a fact that there are resorts that allow you to choose from authentic premium liquors and use only fresh ingredients? Absolutely. No pun intended.

Children's programs for all run by capable competent staff
Children’s programs for all run by capable competent staff

Capable, fun and entertaining children’s programs for all kids. The best resorts have educated, trained children staff capable of attentively looking after every child, including those with special needs.  Should your child have a physical disability or behavioral disorder, you can relax and feel confident that your baby is having fun and in good hands.

Gourmet Concierge. I have an iron stomach so, this one isn’t for me. However, I recognize that there are a lot of people out there with dietary restrictions.  If you or anyone in your family has food allergies, food restrictions, etc., you need not worry.  A dietary concierge will sit down with you and customize daily menus. Each restaurant will be ready to serve you a delectable meal that meets your needs.

All Inclusive Luxury over the water bungalows
All Inclusive Luxury over the water bungalows

Think you can’t find luxury at an all inclusive resort or on a cruise?  Think again.  Ask Chris Rakes more. 919.589.2437

Top 5 Reasons to Sail Alaska in All-Inclusive Luxury

Alaska is a pristine wilderness with natural wonders that will take your breath away. From a spectacular, up-close view of the glistening ice towers that make up the mighty Mendenhall Glacier to relaxing amidst the rustic charm and Alaskan hospitality of George Inlet Lodge enjoying a delicious crab feast in Ketchikan, 2016 is the year to sail Alaska in all-inclusive luxury.

Below, we share our top 5 reasons to sail Alaska this summer.

No 1.
All-Inclusive Luxury

Alaska's majestic beauty
Alaska’s majestic beauty

The best way to enjoy the moments that matter most is to allow us to take care of every detail. With FREE Roundtrip Air, FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions, FREE Unlimited Wifi, FREE Unlimited Beverages, FREE Open Bars and Lounges and FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities, you can enjoy an unforgettable journey to Alaska where everything is included, without exception and without compromise.

No 2.
Best Value

Alaska's wildlife
Alaska’s wildlife

Get the most value out of your luxurious voyage to Alaska’s pristine glaciers and charming towns with our Sale Into Spring offer. Enjoy up to a $600 Shipboard Credit that you can use toward our premium amenities, such as a relaxing body treatment at the exquisite onboard Canyon Ranch SpaClub®, elegant gifts from our boutique shops and rare selections from our signature wine collection.

No 3.
Free Unlimited Shore Excursions

Alaska's exciting free excursions
Alaska’s exciting FREE excursions

With more than 40 FREE shore excursions to choose from, you truly can see it all from Seward to Vancouver. From a nature hike through the Tongass National Forest, to an unforgettable walk through Butchart Gardens, you will create endless memories during your voyage. In Skagway, climb almost 3,000 feet in just 20 miles during an exhilarating ride aboard the White Pass and Yukon Railroad through the Klondike. Become absorbed into a rip-roaring lumberjack competition while in Ketchikan and in Sitka embark on an ocean rafting adventure off of the volcanic coastline of Kruzof Island, where you can get an up-close view of towering cliffs where sea birds nest and fly into caves.

No. 4
The Most Luxurious Ships in Alaska

Alaska's most luxurious ships
Alaska’s most luxurious ships

Sail aboard all-suite, all-balcony –  most luxurious ships in Alaska and be enveloped in exquisite comforts. Watch whales breach from the privacy of your suite’s balcony. Relish the onboard ambiance that is so spaciously intimate, you never have to wait in line for anything. Indulge in being pampered by our onboard Chefs, and sip on exquisite wines, paired perfectly by our Sommelier. Delight in the convenience of FREE Unlimited Wifi throughout the ship and instantly share photos of your unforgettable summer with your friends and family back home. And for the younger members of your family, the Youth Programs offer FREE specialized activities supervised by a staff of experienced and enthusiastic youth counselors. There is something for everyone.

No. 5
Because You Deserve It

You deserve it.
You deserve it.

You deserve the very best. You will enjoy just as many enriching encounters aboard as you do ashore, from the company of like-minded luxury travelers to being pampered by a professional staff, you really can have it all. Expand your horizon by attending riveting lectures that bring the region to life in spectacular fashion, whether it is Terry Breen narrating your journey through the Inside Passage, or a Smithsonian Journeys Expert hosting insightful discussions.

Chris Rakes, River & Luxury Cruise, All Inclusive Expert
Chris Rakes, River & Luxury Cruise, All Inclusive Expert

This is your next favorite summer vacation.

Contact this travel and luxury cruise expert to start planning, today!  919.589.2437 / crakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

In partnership with Regent Seven Seas Cruises


Happy Holidays Spent in Cancun

Feliz Navidad y Feliz Ano Nuevo de la Peninsula de Yucatan Club Med

It’s been difficult finding time to blog and post this Christmas-New Years trip.  Clearly the gorgeous views and tropical setting are a big distraction.  But, the countless activities and spotty internet are mostly responsible keeping me away from work and helping me to enjoy a relaxing holidays vacation.

Club Med Cancun main beach area
Club Med Cancun main beach area

At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this Club Med experience.  A few days in however, its easy to understand why so many families from all over the world come year after year.  Having vacationed during the Christmas-New Year holiday break multiple times now, it’s certain this is a growing trend.  Christmas morning flights are packed and, the number of multi- generational families onsite is staggering. Grandparents, siblings and cousins having meals, playing cards and taking beach photos; alongside learning to sail, waterski and fly on the trapeze. The more grounded travelers like Steve working on their tennis game or playing some pick-up basketball. Others, like Kendall are learning to Salsa.

The resort property itself is extraordinary. Intentionally developed to create a camp-like environment, the grounds are sprawling. Outdoors is the primary focus and they are intent on keeping it pristine.  Water activity areas are part of a national park that they are careful to protect.  Landscapes are beautifully maintained with thatched roofed activity huts and restaurants scattered about lush vegetation and lookout points.  There is a lot of walking from one place to another if you are inpatient to wait for a shuttle or like us, prefer to be moving.  All buildings are low rise with walk through interiors that are wonderfully lit up at night.

Club Med waters are part of a national park
Club Med waters are part of a national park

A resort this size with so many activities requires a lot of people to keep it running smoothly and they employ a very large multi-cultural, multi-lingual staff to get it done right.  Workers are clearly evident everywhere, always happy to help and doing a wonderful job across the board.  Although we were surprised at first to realize, many don’t speak English.  Famous for the GOs (gentile organizers), their hospitality, patience and expertise skills are not exaggerated. These young adults are an impressive and like-able group who speak English fluently in addition to any native language.  Charlene, Claudia, Justin, Mao and Miguel are just some who helped to enhance our trip.

Due to the layout and small scattered buildings, crowds are not an issue even now during high season.  No fighting for beach chairs, towels or shade – there is plenty for everyone. The main beach gets a crowd; the others do not. If you want to get away from it all there are plenty of places to do so.  The beaches are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen and due to the way the resort sits on the peninsula you get both waves and very calm waters.  A favorite spot for us was alongside the sailing school; sitting under a thatched umbrella watching our kids get lessons.  Waitstaff (they call them Beachboys) provide beverage service at all locations.

View from our room in Aguamarine
View from our room in Aguamarine
This French owned company does a great job maintaining an authentic Mexican Mayan ambience.  And the French influences, especially where attention to food and drink is concerned are much appreciated. Can you say awesome  bread and pastries?!  Or, freshly made margaritas and mojitos?!
Excellent staff and special touches everywhere!
Excellent staff and special touches everywhere!

All said, the resort isn’t perfect or for everyone.  Some interior areas like the main buffet dining rooms, show their age.  The two outdoor pools aren’t mega-sized and no swim up bars.  Also, I imagine for some the brightly colored rooms can take getting used to.  Once acclimated however, you are likely to appreciate the spaciousness, cleanliness, native furnishings and special touches.  (Favorites for me, the overhead rain shower and panorama sliding door.)

Lastly, it is definitively both an international and family resort.  At the NewYears Eve party (impressively done) we greeted 2016 in 16 different languages.  On Party days, the main square feels like a raucous Spring Break bash with loud thumping music and people of all ages dancing, or participating in a foam party or holi moli.  (Not recommended for my clients looking for romance.)

Cancun at Christmas 2015
Cancun at Christmas 2015

The bottom line is that no matter what a destination offers in the way of attractions, local hosts are the true soul of any vacation experience.  In this way, Club Med Yucatan Peninsula in Cancun is doubly blessed.  Mexicans as a people are patient and courteous, and they understand that going the extra mile means repeat visits and new friendships.

Club Med being the first in the all-inclusive business has been perfecting the game for 65 years.  Being first in a destination also allowed them to purchase the prime real estate – and this is very clearly true at Club Med Yucatan.  You will not get a prettier spot in Cancun.  While only a short beach walk away from the Hotel Zone, stroll around the bend and you find yourself a world away.

Always polling others while out scouting properties, my favorite feedback came from 10 year old Nathan from Michigan.  Another football fan, we met him while watching the Carolina game on the big projector in the theater.  This is his extended family’s third year at Club Med Yucatan.  When asked what he likes best, he responded “I guess the same as everybody else  – the daiquiris! 
Dining New Years Eve at La Estancia
Dining New Years Eve at La Estancia

For more on Club Med Family vacations or any All Inclusive Mexican or Caribbean resort, CONTACT ME.  I’m an independent who is trained, experienced and happy to help you make the best choice! 919.589.2437 / ChrisRakes@totalexperiencetravel.com

Is the all-inclusive experience for you?

All-inclusive resorts are designed for relaxation. From the moment you step off the plane, everything is taken care of. Need a drink? You got it. Want to play a round of golf? The staff will arrange it. Just want to enjoy the beach or pool? They’ll guide to you to cozy cabanas complete with drink and snack service. While all-inclusives may sound like a dream vacation, consider the following before you book.

Palm Trees and Tropical Breezes
Palm Trees and Tropical Breezes


  • You’re busy, and you want to relax, but don’t have the time to spend shopping around for hotels, airfare, or activities. All-inclusive resorts take the stress out of planning a vacation. Book your trip, and the resort handles the rest.
  • Often your flights, airport transportation and activities are included with your booking – making your arrival and departure as stress-free as possible.
  • Since you’ve paid up front, you’re less likely to stray from your budget. You won’t need extra money for tips and other typical vacation expenses.
  • Forget about cooking, grocery shopping, or figuring out where to eat; all your meals and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are
    Refreshing poolside and beach-side drinks
    Refreshing poolside and beach-side drinks

    included in your booking fee. Resorts typically offer a few different dining spots for travelers as well.

  • All-inclusive vacations are great for groups and couples alike. With adult-only and family-friendly options, you can choose as much alone or together time with your companions as you desire. Plus, many family-friendly resorts  have special clubs to keep kids occupied.


  • When you book an all-inclusive, you’re committing to staying on a resort, which can be claustrophobic for some travelers. If you are the type of traveler who likes spontaneity and experiencing local flavor, skip the all-inclusive option and plot out your own path.
  • Check with the resort to make sure the offerings work for you.

    Resorts vary in size
    Resorts vary in size
  • All-inclusive activities are available, but are limited and first come, first served. You may end up spending more money on things you want to do outside of the resort.
Chris Rakes - Cruise, Tour, All Inclusive Expert and Honeymoon & Group Travel Specialist.
Chris Rakes – Cruise, Tour, All Inclusive Expert and Honeymoon & Group Travel Specialist.

Whether you’re an all-inclusive traveler, or are looking to blaze your own trail, the vacation you want is waiting for you. Use a trusted Travel Pro to help you decipher best options and book your bucket-list experience, for the same price as booking direct.

Family Vacations Generate Life-long Memories

The Benefits of Multi-Generational Travel

Total Experience Travel can help with multi-generational travel

Some of the earliest and best memories we have are from family vacations taken when we were young.  In fact, vacationing with extended family actually builds bonds and encourages communication between the generations.

According to a Harris Interactive & US Travel Association survey, over 60% of children who traveled with their extended family reported that they feel closer to them, and 65% say they like to recall stories about what they did with their grandparents.   Both adults and children say they cherish these memories.

Many parents and grandparents plan vacations with the purpose of creating memories, and a full 76% believe that these experiences are worth the time, effort, and money expended because they give children experiences that will last a lifetime.  These memories will be recorded in our minds and hearts and, of course, shared on social media.  They will be passed down from generation to generation, often sparking the desire to recreate similar memories.

Given the time constraints of today’s busy families, the distances separating them,  and the improved health and activity levels of seniors, multi-generational travel has become increasingly popular and families are reaping the benefits.

  • Children are exposed to unique experiences
  • Long-distance relatives gain the opportunity to reconnect
  • Strong family bonds are developed, especially with grandparents
  • Memories created will provide a source of enjoyment for a lifetime

Whether you visit a beach in the tropics, cruise the ocean, or stay closer to home, the multi-generational travel experience will help build relationships and create lasting memories as the various generations reconnect to each other.

What are your fondest vacation memories?  Share them in the comments section below!

This holiday season, give your family something to look forward to, and gain the benefit of giving them something to look back on!

If you are ready to start planning a multi-generational travel experience, please Contact Us.