Houston, we have lift off!

Airplane take-off

(Quick and easy destinations less than 4 hours from Houston, TX)

Extended vacations to far off destinations are exciting, but sometimes all you’ve got time for is a quick getaway closer to home. So, let’s take a look at the sunny international beach destinations accessible from Bush Intercontinental and Houston Hobby within 4 hours or less non-stop.

Jamaica: This island will always be a favorite. Jamaica’s Montego Bay airport provides access to the hotspots throughout the island, and Houston’s airports provide access to Montego Bay. Fly non-stop in around 3 hours from IAH on United and starting in November 2015, use Southwest Airlines out of Hobby.

Mexico: (Cancun, RM, Coz, Cabo, PVR) Houston’s airports provide easy access to destinations throughout our neighbor to the South.

Tulum Mayan Site
Tulum Mayan Site

-Mexican Caribbean: The always popular Cancun is just a 2 hour flight from IAH on United…and they operate flights daily. Southwest is beginning non-stop daily service to Cancun from Hobby starting mid-October. Cancun airport provides access to the entire Mayan Riviera, stretching from Playa Mujeres, just North of Cancun all the way down to the chill Southern beach town of Tulum, famous for its cliff-top Mayan site. If you don’t want to bother with the ferry from Playa del Carmen, take the non-stop flight on United down to Cozumel. This island off the coast of Mexico offers world-class scuba diving.

-Mexican Pacific: For fantastic vistas and true Mexican charm, check out the Pacific Coastal cities of Cabo San Lucas/San Jose del Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. United flies non-stop from IAH to Cabo in just under 3 hours. Southwest offers the itinerary from Hobby. Cabo, at the very tip of the Baja California peninsula, is famous for the popular Lands End Arch and some of the best whale watching (in season). Puerto Vallarta is accessible from IAH in just under 2 hrs 30 minutes via United and the non-stop is also offered on Southwest out of Hobby. It’s a charming colonial town with a rich history…and you can’t beat the spectacular “Mountains meet the Sea” views.

Beach Paradise in the Bahamas
Beach Paradise in the Bahamas

The Bahamas: Crystal clear water and white sand beaches await in the Bahamas. Plus, with easy flights from IAH on United to the capital city of Nassau, it’s doesn’t take long to find yourself on a pristine beach! As an added perk, you’ll clear US Customs at the airport in Nassau before your return flight saving an extra step (and time) when you touch back down in Houston.

Costa Rica: While I wouldn’t typically suggest Costa Rica for a short getaway, it is now in spectacularly easy reach from our Houston airports in under 4 hours! There’s so much more to the destination than a typical beach vacation that I don’t recommend anything less than a week. However, I felt it important to mention that in addition to United’s non-stop service to both San Jose and Liberia, Southwest is beginning service to these airport in the fall! San Jose, the capital, offers access to the central rainforests, volcanoes, and central coastal regions of this fascinating country. Liberia offers easy access to the Northern Pacific coast, a popular area for beach goers and surfing enthusiasts who are still looking to experience all the nature and wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer.

A Travel Consultant’s New Year’s Resolutions are a bit different….

As the holidays are upon us and 2014 is winding down, I find myself thinking about next year. Where do I want to go? What do I want to make it a point to see?

New Year’s Resolutions…..that promise you make to yourself to lose weight, eliminate credit card debt, etc. Sometimes you carry it through but all too often, that gym membership you purchased in January is cancelled by mid-February. For the past couple of years, I’ve been making a different sort of New Year’s Resolution. My resolutions have all been travel goals….and I’ve kept them!

Enjoying some beach time in the Riviera Maya!

In 2014, my travel resolution was to visit at least 2 new-to-me destinations. Sure, I was back and forth to Jamaica several times this year, but my wanderlust was starting to itch and I was yearning to explore. I accomplished both of my 2 new destinations this past September.

In early September, I took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to visit Mexico on a Destination Wedding focused FAM (familiarization trip for travel agents) hosted by AM Resorts. It may sound glamorous to be hosted by an all-inclusive resort company, but trust me…this trip was all work! In 4 short days, I toured 12 resorts from their ultra-lux wellness-focused Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, adults-only Secrets Resorts, family friendly Dreams and Now Resorts, and value-minded Sunscape Sabor Cozumel. That’s a lot of time spent on my feet and behind my camera! It was a wonderful experience and I developed great working relationships with resort personnel, wedding planners, and destination staff. I did get a bit of free time to lounge on the beach and was certainly wined and dined, but I need to go back again soon to explore on my own! Check out Three Wishes Travel on facebook to see my pictures of the resorts and the fabulous wedding set-ups!

Sunset on Seven Mile Beach

Later in September, my husband and I took the short flight from Jamaica to Grand Cayman to celebrate our 1st anniversary. We spent 11 nights visiting with family and experiencing all that Cayman has to offer. The family certainly showed us a great time. We drove all around the island, from West Bay down through Georgetown, across the South Coast to Bodden Town and all the way over to Rum Point. The island is rather small as this journey only took a couple hours, and we made several stops along the way.

Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach is pure beachy perfection with crystal clear turquoise water and plenty of white sand. It easily makes my personal list of top 10 beaches. We also got a chance to go deep-sea fishing with the cousins, visit Stingray City Sandbar to play with the famous resident stingrays, and I even managed a fantastic dive at the Kittiwake! Grand Cayman is a small island..a small island that is packed with friendly people, great restaurants, and tons of fun things to do.

So…..what should be my 2015 travel resolutions? What are yours?

Hanging out with the residents of Stingray City Sandbar

Announcing my membership with the one and only DWHSA!!!

Three Wishes Travel is a DWHSA Member

I’m so happy to announce that I’ve joined DWHSA, an elite group of vacation consultants focused on Destination Weddings and Honeymoon travel. Membership in this organization will  directly benefit you by providing me with fantastic tools for your wedding or honeymoon plans. When you make your destination wedding or honeymoon plans with Three Wishes Travel, you can be sure that you’re working with a true expert in this niche!

My 5-Night Carnival Triumph Cruise from Galveston

Vacations with a boyfriend or husband are great..but sometimes, it’s fun for the girls to have a getaway!

There were great rates on 5-night cruises last November and I decided to take advantage of them with one of my best girlfriends. With my home base in Houston, it’s really easy to cruise from Galveston and very inexpensive as well!

The cruise took us to 2 ports in Mexico: Progreso and Cozumel. Progreso is a gateway to some of the best Mayan sites in the Yucatan peninsula. Cozumel, an island off Playa del Carmen, is known as one of the world’s top diving destinations and features sandy beaches. Mainland Mexico and the attractions in the Riviera Maya are accessible by a ferry.

We opted to book an oceanview stateroom and it was a welcome upgrade from the basic inside staterooms I’ve experienced in the past. The picture window was large and let in some great natural light. It made the space feel a lot larger and turned our room into a relaxing sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the ship.

Food is plentiful on-board the Carnival Triumph. I don’t love buffets, and while those are always available on the ship for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we opted to eat in the main dining room for breakfast, Sea Day Brunch, and dinner each evening. For lunch, the pizza, burgers, and tacos were perfect, not to mention the ice cream machines cranking out the froyo and soft-serve all day long!  Carnival does a great job with menu variety at dinner. Feel free to order things you’ve never tried before but have always been curious about. On this cruise, I tried appetizers like escargots and frog legs!

One of the great thing about cruising are the people you’ll meet. I made some lasting friendships during this itinerary by participating in games and events on-board.  Don’t miss the live shows and comedians either! There are always two very funny comedians performing both adults-only and family-friendly shows at the Punchliner Comedy Club.

In Progreso, we pre-booked a tour of the Uxmal Mayan Ruins through Carnival Shore Excursions. This is an excursion that I would definitely recommend to any future cruisers. Chichen Itza is also an option from Progreso, but I think Uxmal is even more impressive and beautiful.

I normally dive when in Cozumel, but for this cruise, I arranged a day pass at the new Secrets Aura Cozumel instead. This all-inclusive, adults-only resort is on a stunning beach with great snorkeling right off shore. It would be a great upgrade from the basic scuba-focused hotels on the island. Unlimited drinks were a welcome change from the ship and I’ll say that we both enjoyed a few mango daiquiris. One of the regular guests we spoke to handed us a banana (to feed to the fish) as we were getting in the water with snorkeling gear…that was a lot of fun and really drew the fish over to us!

Cruising is a fun, care-free way to vacation. Plus, we have a number of cruise options from Galveston. Major cruiselines like Carnival (4, 5, and 7-night itineraries) and Royal Caribbean (7-night cruises) have been sailing from Texas for years. We’ve recently added Princess Cruises (7-night sailings) and Norwegian will be cruising from Galveston this fall! This week, Carnival announced the addition of 11 and 10-night sailing between Galveston and San Juan, Puerto Rico. These cruises will visit exotic ports such as Bonaire, Aruba, Grenada, Martinique, and others.

Have a question about cruising? Please ask me!

Visit me on facebook to see pictures from my cruise and shore excursions!

When a room is more than just a place to sleep.

“We don’t need a fancy room since we won’t be in it much anyway.”— I’ve heard (and read) this statement so many times. In some cases it’s true. On a short weekend getaway to New Orleans, you’re probably not spending much time in the room. It would be more worthwhile to spend your money on a standard room in a well-located hotel. However, when we’re talking about a more extended leisure vacation or honeymoon, don’t sell yourself (and your vacation experience) short by booking the cheapest room possible. The right room really makes the difference between a good vacation and a great vacation.

I recently had the opportunity to honeymoon in a Romeo and Juliet Sanctuary One-Bedroom Villa Suite at Sandals Grande Riviera in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This resort is a sprawling paradise of beach, pools, and tropical flora. With so much available to eat, drink, and do on resort, I think it would be impossible not to have a good time. However, our room really stepped it up! This room had all the bells and whistles. The bedroom suite had an expansive, modern bathroom with separate walk-in shower and over-sized jetted bathtub. Outside, there’s a very private courtyard with a pool, whirlpool, outdoor shower, and lounge chairs leading over to a separate living room area complete with couches, a dining table, and a full bar. All of this also comes with the services of your own butlers that can bring food and drinks or arrange spa treatments and excursions with a simple phone call! Though I love the beach…we were perfectly content to spend the majority of our time in the suite enjoying our private sanctuary. It made for an ultra-lux, care-free, and very special honeymoon experience.

Private courtyard in our Romeo and Juliet Sanctuary One-Bedroom Villa Suite
Private courtyard in our Romeo and Juliet Sanctuary One-Bedroom Villa Suite
Whirlpool tub and doorway to walk-in shower
Outdoor shower and view towards the bedroom
Living room couch and coffee table
King-sized four poster bed with doors to courtyard
Dining table, bar, and flatscreen TV in the living room
One of the dual vanities, it’s mirror image is on the other side

Sandals Resorts are my favorite all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean partly because of the amazing and unique accommodations that are offered at each of their resorts. They call these special suites their Love Nests..and it’s easy to see why. They’re all different, and there is a Love Nest that’s perfect for everyone.  They all come with butler service and luxurious in-room amenities, but it’s the special traits that make them…. Here are some drool-worthy examples:

Rondaval Suite at Sandals Grande Antigua
Rondaval Suite at Sandals Grande Antigua
Millionaire Suite at Sandals La Toc in St. Lucia
Millionaire Suite at Sandals La Toc in St. Lucia
Skypool Suite (under construction) at Sandals LaSource Grenada
Skypool Suite (under construction) at Sandals LaSource Grenada
Crystal Lagoon Swim-up Suite at Sandals Royal Caribbean
Crystal Lagoon Swim-up Suite at Sandals Royal Caribbean
Two-story Loft Suite at Sandals Negril
Two-story Loft Suite at Sandals Negril


Let’s look at some other examples of amazing rooms and suites that are definitely worth the upgrade:

  1. An Overwater Bungalow in Tahiti, the Maldives, or Fiji: You’re making the commitment to travel to an iconic destination that is known for its special accommodations. You might save a little money by booking a basic garden view room, but you’ll be missing out on a portion of what makes this destination so special to begin with. This is often a once-in-a-lifetime destination so take advantage of the full experience. Watch the fish swimming on the reef beneath you through the glass section in the floor. Step off the deck of your bungalow and snorkel with the rays.
    Overwater Bungalow at St. Regis Bora Bora with view of Mt. Otemanu
    Overwater Bungalow at St. Regis Bora Bora with view of Mt. Otemanu
  2. Any oceanview room on any Caribbean or Mexican beach vacation: You’re on a beach vacation and you’ve picked your destination specifically because of the crystal clear turquoise water and white sand beach. Upgrading your room to at least oceanview or oceanfront is absolutely worth it and, in my opinion, should be a no-brainer! Here’s why: You’ve come all that way to see the beach/ocean. Why not give yourself every opportunity to do so? Have your morning coffee on your balcony overlooking the calm, glassy waters that are common in the morning hours. Enjoy a glass of wine or champagne while getting ready for dinner.. Oh, and don’t forget getting ready for an early dinner without missing the sunset, since you can see it setting over the water from your room!

What other room upgrades have you had that really enhanced your overall experience?