Thursday, January 29, 2015

Please Don't Ask To Pick My Brain

There are no worse words that a professional wants to hear than "Can I pick your brain?" Every time I hear that, I know it is going to be someone who wants my expertise and hard earned knowledge to book their own vacation.  My answer will be no and here is why.

Would you sit in your lawyers office and expect to pick his brain so you could take his advice and file your own lawsuit? Would pick your surgeons brain so you could do surgery on yourself? Of course you wouldn't.  You know they have had schooling and hands on experience that you don't have to enable you to do it yourself.  So why would you think that a travel professional doesn't go through training just as valuable  to make sure they book your trip properly without any problems and are there for you in the event something  happens, such as canceled flights or a bad room?

Do you know that travel professionals go school to becomes CLIA certified to sell cruises? Did you know that every cruise line has a course agents need to take to be certified and every year we have to take refresher courses to learn what has changed since last year for clients?

When you see we are "certified" to sell a destination, it means we have taken classes to learn about that destination so we aren't blindly booking hotels in a remote area where you may never see a soul that speaks English.  We then usually travel to these countries to enhance what we have learned on paper and experience it. It isn't free for us to go to these places either, we pay full price air and hotels for this too.

When you think we are off having wonderful travel adventures,  we have actually paid hard earned money to fly to many destinations and spend hours on our feet looking at hotels and hotel rooms so we know what hotels we should recommend to you. Lucky for you we've seen 5 star hotels as well as  dives that we would't put our worst enemy in. When you call to tell us you found a great price at XYZ hotel, we can tell you to stay away from it.   We aren't sitting poolside sunning ourselves, we are on our feet taking pictures, writing notes and making contacts at these resorts that we can call or email to make sure that your vacation is perfect.

Want to plan your own Destination Wedding?  Good luck with that.  We have done many of these types of bookings and we know the questions to ask the resort you are considering, we know how to get you amenities you might not get on your own, we can tell you the pro's and con's of signing a contract or not. Wouldn't you rather deal with simply planning your wedding and having a professional deal with your guests that think they can do better booking on their own,  that have unreasonable demands, or want to complain about how much it will cost them to get to the wedding ?  We do it all the time and can anticipate exactly what guests will do because we've never had a group of people without one or two  attending a destination wedding that doesn't complain from beginning to end about having to spend $3,000 to go to a wedding.

Are you all over the place about where to book your honeymoon? We've had clients who want Italy, then Bora Bora, then Spain, before they settle on Mexico. Tell us what you like to do, what you anticipate you will be doing on your honeymoon and your budget and we often can recommend a resort right off the top of our heads instead of you wasting hours looking online.

When we travel on vacation, we never just sit around working on our tan. We are constantly thinking of which client would like that particular resort or cruise ship, we are taking notes on things to do in the area, if the staff is friendly or not, if the food is good, how long and deep the beach is and if the rooms are childproof or if kids can easily open the doorknobs.

When we travel in foreign countries, we are writing down good restaurants to recommend, taking note of the best way to get from the airport to the hotel and how much a cab costs, From traveling ourselves, we know where the tourist neighborhoods are versus the better priced one you found that might be an hour away.

It has gotten so bad with "brain pickers" that many agents have instituted a "retainer" to start planning travel for a guest. You might be asked for a non- refundable deposit that the agent will apply towards the final payment of your trip. Why? Because they spend too much time planning itineraries to have people take that information we gave them and book on their own - often for the exact same price. With the deposit, if we have taken the time to prepare an itinerary for you and you decide to book it yourself - then we've been compensated for our time and expertise. If you book with the agent - you get it all back at final payment.

Why wouldn't you want an agent behind you to help if your flights are canceled, if you arrive at the hotel and are told it is oversold and there is no room for you or if the room category you booked is not the category you are given? We can often fix those types of things while you are standing at the check in desk.

If you think enough of us to want to "pick our brain" then you should be booking your trip with us so we are compensated for our knowledge and expertise.  It doesn't cost you any more for me to book your trip than it does you and you have my expertise and knowledge that I am more than willing to share as long as I am being compensated,  (And you don't pay me, the resort or cruise ship you choose does).

We are as schooled and experienced about travel as your lawyer is about law and your doctor is about medicine. Please treat us that way.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Is A Destination Wedding Right For Us? Things You Need To Know

What is a destination wedding?
A destination wedding is a wedding and honeymoon all rolled in to one that will celebrate your marriage in a place away from where you live. These can be held worldwide, but the Caribbean  and Hawaii are the most popular places. Europe, particularly Italy and Greece, are also becoming more popular for Destination Weddings. Your wedding can be just the two of you or it can be several hundred guests, depending on the place and budget.

Destinations weddings are generally less expensive and less formal and more intimate than a traditional wedding. Another benefit is that your wedding will be one that your guests fondly remember because it is so different than a traditional wedding.  

What are the minuses of a destination wedding?
There are no if’s, and’s or but’s – you are will have resistance from friends and relatives that will not be able to afford to travel for various reasons.  Couples may receive smaller or no gifts from those who attend due to the cost of travel. And you won’t have as many people as you might like attend. 

Is a destination wedding right for us and our guests?
For most people that plan a destination wedding having their family and closest friends there are important piece of the wedding.  Before you definitely decide to do this, you should run the idea to those who are closest to you that you really want to attend.  It is not unusual for people to balk, because it is an expensive undertaking for guests.  On our experience with destination weddings, only 25 – 30% of guests who say they will attend actually book once pricing is announced. Make sure to consider your closest family and friends when selecting a wedding destination.  Finding an affordable place to have the wedding will help to alleviate some of the objections that your family and closest friends may have about attending.

You may have a particular luxury 5 star resort that your heart is set on for your destination wedding, but that resort may be well out of the price range for your guests to attend.  Talking beforehand to get an idea of what they can afford to attend your wedding is important if you want to have as many as possible guests as possible be able to share your special day.

Many couples we have dealt with have had their wedding at a lower priced resort and then moved to their five star hotel after the wedding for their honeymoon in order to be able to have as many guests as possible be able to afford to attend. Remember, passports are necessary for travel outside the U.S. and it’s territories which will add about $130  per person to the cost of traveling. So unless it is just the two of you, consider the budgets of your family and friends to find the right location.

How far in advance should I plan my destination wedding?
9 – 12 months is an ideal time to start planning and securing rooms at the resort you are looking at. (Some hotels and airlines don’t have pricing for more than 11 months in advance).  

What are the legal requirements when getting married out of the country?
The requirements are different in every country but Promal Vacations will guide you with the correct information for the destination of your choice. Most require some form of ID (like your passports and birth certificates, divorce or death certificates if you were previously married) a marriage license application and some require the documents to be translated to the native language of the company you will be married in.  You will have the choice of a legal wedding or a symbolic wedding.  For a symbolic wedding, you take care of the legal requirements before you travel and you have a symbolic ceremony at the destination. That often saves money because you will not need the paperwork required for legal weddings.

Traditionally, the best way to help ensure that your guests can afford to attend your destination wedding is to plan in advance so they have plenty of  time to plan and budget accordingly. Consider the destination and time of year – peak travel times in the Caribbean, February – April and the summer when kids are out of school are the most expensive. Traveling September – early December will offer the best value.  We have an Installment Payment Plan that we offer that can help your guests save money in time to make their final payments on their vacation.

What Else Do I Need to Know?
One thing you will have to make a decision on is whether you want to sign a contract with a resort or not for guest rooms.  Signing a contract for the rooms ensures that there will be enough rooms held for your group and will offer your guests all the same price per night for their rooms. When you sign a group contract it usually requires that you have to make a deposit on each room to hold those rooms, which will be applied to your final payment on your reservation. You will also need to have a really good idea of how many guests will attend because you might be responsible for paying for unsold rooms if you hold too many and can’t sell them all.  This particularly can be a problem because guests price shop on the internet and the fixed price you contract for may not be the lowest price that guests can get and they book on their own – leaving you with many unsold rooms. Some hotels allow you to turn in unsold rooms at a certain time frame at no charge, some require you to sell, say 80% of the rooms you contract for and if you don’t sell them all, you might face a cancellation penalty.

Another way is to have guest book their rooms without a contract. The plus of doing this is that you don’t have to make a deposit for rooms, you don’t have to sign a contract for the rooms, and you aren’t responsible for unsold rooms. In addition, we can usually price match any prices guests find on the internet, thus giving your wedding group credit for the rooms towards any extra that the resort may offer you, such as a free room for so many nights booked, etc.

The drawback to not having a contract is that there may not be enough rooms for all your guests if they don’t book early and the resort sells out, they may not all have the the same price (prices usually increase as the date gets closer to the wedding date for those who procrastinate) for the rooms.

Unless your or your guests purchase their trip 60 days or less before the wedding date, the answer is usually no. At time of holding a room, a room deposit is due. Final payment is generally due 60 days before the travel date and we have a payment plan that can help guests pay off the wedding in pieces after they first book the room. When it is time to book air, the air must be paid in full to guarantee the price
Yes. The resort or hotel will usually have an on-site co-ordinator that you will deal with directly to plan your wedding and reception at no extra charge.  These planners also have a list of local vendors that can help organize your perfect wedding as well. We set you up with the wedding co-ordinator and that is usually all you have to worry about – we take care of the rooms, air and transfers for you and your guests.
Who are we?
We have been in business for 13 years and are certified Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Planners.  We are members of the Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Association and our travel agency was won the Best Travel Agency Service Award by the Long Island Press for 2015. 

 Are there fees?
We work closely with our brides and grooms for hours to plan the perfect wedding and or honeymoon. We ask for a non-refundable  $250 deposit to begin the planning process that will be applied to the final payment of your trip – making our services free when you book your wedding and honeymoon with us.

As Certified Romance Travel Specialists, we have successfully planned many destination weddings and honeymoons and have visited many of the resorts we have special relationships with. You will have our cell phone numbers so you can contact us at any time, even if you get to the resort and have questions. We also provide a wedding website to keep your guests updated on the latest details of your wedding. All at no fee to you. So why not have us take care of your dream day? 

Call us at 516-608-0568

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Oceanview Room Has Only A Sliver of a View and other Misleading Room Categories

If you book a resort room that states it has an oceanview, what do you expect to see? Full ocean view? Partial oceanview? Sliver of a view?

In reality, your view could be any of the above.  When hotels advertise ocean view, your view might very well be a small sliver of ocean you have to stand on the bathtub to see.  Want a swim up room? That could mean you have to walk over grass to get to a pool in front of your building or it could mean you step out of your sliding glass door and right into the pool steps.

Unfortunately, there are no rules as to what the view must be and some resorts take advantage of that.  We once had a client call us from a resort in tears because her Rooftop Terrace Oceanfront Room wasn't directly on the beach and had trees blocking her view. The particular resort she chose for her honeymoon was built after the government of Mexico stopped permitting hotels to be built right on the beach and required them to be built further back to protect against hurricanes. Her room was in the building closest to the beach but was not true oceanfront. However, the resort considered it oceanfront because it did directly face the ocean and was the closest to the sea.

There are no standards, but this is what you may get:

Oceanview - any room that has any type of view of the ocean. Large or sliver.
Oceanfront - should be directly on the beach or the rooms closest to the beach
Oceanfront walkout - this room should be on the first floor and directly on the beach or in the building closest to the beach..
Swim Up room - has a pool that can directly be accessed from your room or a short walk from your door. Some of these are private pools, some are a large pool with lazy river type arms that go around the building your room is located in.  Most of these will be ground floor rooms, but more and more resorts are adding small plunge pools on different floors of new builds.
Garden view - view of the gardens or grounds
Pool view -  view of the pool, not necessarily a room right at the pool
Standard view - you may be looking at the parking lot

So how do you know what you are getting?  This is when a travel agent may prove to be your best friend to book with. First, try to find a travel agent who has either been to the resort you are considering or knows another agent who has been. They can tell you right off the top of their heads what your view could be.

Second, look at There are plenty of pictures taken by guests or employees that show what the views and rooms really look like. (You don't have to book your room there!). There are many resorts and there are plenty of pictures of both the rooms and views.

Don't rely on the brochure views of resorts you are considering. You'll never see a picture of 100 lounge chairs with towels on every one of them by the people who get up at the crack of dawn to reserve a chair nor will you see a picture of a beach or pool that is overflowing with guests.  You will see pictures of a beach with no one on it, or an empty pool, that you might only be able to experience at 6 AM.

Credit Card Holds at Hotels and for Car Rentals - What You Need To Know Before You Travel

As  travel agents, we are fully aware that when arriving at a hotel, cruise ship or picking up a rental car a hold is placed on our credit card to ensure there is available credit.  Recently at a stay at a Sheraton, a few days after checking in we had an expensive breakfast at the one of the hotels restaurants.I was still surprised  as I was walking away after dining to see an American Express alert pop up on my cell phone saying a transaction of $100 had been made without my card.  When I looked at it, the hold was from the Sheraton.

I took my phone to the front desk to inquire about this additional hold and was told that anytime something is purchased from the hotel dining room, bar or room service they place an additional hold on the card over and above the amount of the hold they initially placed.

Think this is unusual? It isn't.  This happens at virtually every hotel, car rental and when you check in to a cruise ship, even if you have prepaid for your reservation in full.

When you check into a hotel or onto a cruise ship, they will swipe your card to authorize a certain amount for possible incidental charges. The amounts vary but it is usually the amount of the room (for a hotel) including tax plus a set charge of between $50 and $200 per day or just a daily amount on a cruise ship. (To be fair, sometimes a hotel only posts a $1 hold just to ensure that the card is not over limit). Car rentals are different and can place holds up to $1,000 or more. (More if you don't opt to take out their travel insurance package).

There can be an issue for travelers with this. When the hotel does this "authorization hold" with your bank, behind the scenes your bank waits for a charge of the same amount to come through, which it then deducts from your available credit and it drops the initial authorization hold. (As a former banker, I know all about this piece).

90% of the time, that initial authorization hold is not going to be the exact same amount as what your final charge ends up being.  So your bank gets the final charge, deducts it from your available credit, but that unmatched authorization hold is still sitting out there waiting for the matching amount to come through - resulting in a double hold.  Holds can remain up to a week to ten days on your card before dropping off because there is no matching transaction. Ideally, when the hotel processes your charge at check out, this initial hold should drop off also. But it doesn't always happen.

For this reason, you should NEVER use a debit card when traveling!  Having double holds can block all of the funds on your card and not only will you have no credit to charge anything else, but any checks you might have written than hadn't cleared before you left on vacation could possible be returned for insufficient funds because the funds are still being held. And if you are near your credit limit on your credit card, this can use up all available credit and you might not be able to charge anything else on your trip.

These holds are a pet peeve of travel agents, especially when we advise clients not to use a debit card for this exact reason.  I have complained to a hotel that the holds they are putting on are excessive and they will usually tell me "But we aren't charging it, we are only placing a hold". It doesn't matter, they are still using up your credit.

Are there ways to avoid the holds? You should ask your hotel or car rental company how much the authorization hold is going to be. If it is going to be more than the room cost, ask them to only hold the amount of the room plus tax or try to negotiate a lower amount.

Keep an eye on the amount of holds as you travel. If you can, sign up for automatic notifications from your bank or credit card company so you will get a message when a hold is placed. Use two credit cards - give the hotel one when you check in and use another when you check out (this defeats automatic check out though - you will have to go to the front desk to check out and give them the other card). This way you will have one card with the holds and one with the actual charge so neither card will have two holds on them.

If a hold remains for several days, call the hotel and ask them to remove the hold. They can do it, although it might take a day or two. But the best defense is an offense so keep this in mind when you travel because it could happen to you!

Quantum Of the Seas - This is NOT Your Mom's Cruise Ship

If you are a cruise junkie you may think you know exactly what to expect on your next cruise.  If you haven’t sailed Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Sea, I’m happy to tell you this ship takes cruising to a new level and one you’ll find hard to beat on any other ship.

This ship broke the mold of traditional cruising.  No main dining rooms, no more room keys to have to keep track of and  bumper cars and sky diving at sea will make you feel like you did on your first cruise – excited and not knowing what to expect. This ship takes the best of the Allure and Oasis of the Seas and matches them up with Celebrity’s Solstice class of ships for a whole new experience.

You’ll be on the ship in literally five minutes because you perform your online check in before you leave your house, including uploading a picture of yourself that will be added to your shipboard card when you arrive at the pier. You'll even be able to track your luggage with a smart phone app. Once in your room you will find a band to wear around the ship that does everything your key card used to do - open your cabin door, use for purchases on the ship, etc.  Add the Royal IQ app to your smart phone and you'll be able to change, adjust or expand your reservations and appointments right from your cell phone. (There will also be stations throughout the ship for guests who don't have smart phones).  You'll also have the most amazing bandwidth at sea on the Quantum - fast service, fast uploads and you'll be able to update Facebook and other social networks easily. 

The staff have tablets that allow them to do their jobs more efficiently, particularly in keeping track of your preferences. Like iced tea at dinner? All they have to do is find your preferences when you come into the dining room and they'll have it quickly for you. 

Journey to  the  Royal Esplanade and discover an avenue of experiences at the heart of Quantum of the SeasSM. This main deck  is lined with boutiques, clubs, restaurants and bars amidst whimsical works of modern art that will fascinate young and old. Around every corner, you'll find something new.  Between each end of the Royal Esplanade are countless ways to entertain yourself, from live performances to Latin music at Bolero's to pizza at Sorrento's.

Try out your first computerized cocktail at Bionic Bar - you'll find robotic bartenders that pour your drinks that are ordered via a screen you touch.  For larger than life thrills, try Two70 or the Royal Theater just beyond the Esplanade — two truly trans-formative venues that will take you to a different time, place and era. A revolutionary digital space, Two70°  spans almost three decks with 270 degree panoramic views that change at night into a totally different looking venue when the lights go down, the music comes up and aerialists, singers, dancers and acrobats perform.  The light shows and digital scenery will knock your socks off. They'll be an ice bar at sea here too!

Quantum features Dynamic Dining — a new world of culinary dining.  It's dining at sea that gives you more options than the traditional two main dining rooms. There are no more set dinner times, no assigned seating and no required formal nights. Instead let your appetite lead you to 18 different possibilities. Like five complimentary, full-service main restaurants, six casual restaurants and seven specialty restaurants including three with award-winning chefs at the helm.  Dress code at all restaurants is smart casual except The Grande which is formal every night for those who like to dress up. 

You'll be able to reserve tables with a new booking system in any of the four different venues (if staying in a suite you'll have a fifth option that is only available to suite guests or above). The waitstaff don't move from restaurant to restaurant, they remain in their assigned restaurant so they become experts at the food available in their venue. Each venue will also have their own beverage menu that compliments the food served in that restaurant. 

Complimentary venues:

 The American Icon Grill serves traditional comfort food from around the country - New Orleans Gumbo, New England Clam Chowder, Southern Buttermilk Chicken and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Chic is open for dinner and full or protein entrees, such as beef rib eye, lamb chops, and sea bass. Sauces that are made from scratch to compliment your entree.

Silk serves great pan-Asian fusion food. Open for dinner only.

The Grande is open for dinner and the formal restaurant on the ship - every night.  Every night is a special occasion with classics like Beef Wellington, Chicken a L'Orange or roasted scallops. 

Coastal Kitchen is the exclusive complimentary restaurant for suite guests that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In Royal Caribbeans words, Coastal Kitchen fuses Mediterranean influences with the unmatched riches of California's bountiful farmlands. This is a destination that exudes pure freshness.

 Casual dining includes , CafĂ© @ Two70°SM, Seaplex Dog House, , Windjammer Marketplace, Sorrento's, Cafe Promenade and Johnny Rockets (additional cost at Johnny Rockets, the rest are complimentary.

Entertainment is second to none.  Enjoy Mamma Mia, the first ship to host this musical onboard. Check Vistarama, which transforms the room into amazing scenes. Starwater as Royal Caribbean explains,  "explores human emotion as our muse brings together the magic of the stars and the mysteries of the seas for this awe-inspiring experience".  And finally, SONIC ODYSSEY |is an original production show taking guests into the next dimension of global sound.

How about a flight on Northstar? Situated on the top deck towards the bow of the ship, North Star literally takes you over the ship into the sky. Guests enter a  glass capsule that goes up more than  more than 300-feet above sea level. This 15-minute journey will provide breathtaking 360° views across the sea, ship, and exciting destinations we visit. 

Then there is RipCord, another first at sea of simulated sky diving. This sky diving simulator levitates guests in a safe, controlled environment so they can experience what it feels like to fly in a one minute flight. Seaplex is another ground breaking addition to the Quantum class of ships. Taking a Sports Court to a level never before seen at sea, this venue offers new complimentary experiences - bumper cars at sea, roller skating and a full size basketball court.  SeaPlex is not only the world's largest active space at sea, but also the most ground-breaking. Dream of being in the circus? You can even experience circus school here!

Quantum boasts the largest cabins at sea. For the first time, interior cabins will have a view with Virtual View, where the current sea view will be played on one wall of your stateroom so you an see what the weather is like outside. Quantum also will have the first solo cabins in the ship fleet for single cruisers.

There is finally a solution for large families sailing together. Quantum has connecting staterooms that can actually provide up to three bedrooms, bathrooms and balconies to accommodate larger families or groups of friends. Please note that these cabins will be kept out of inventory and only available to book by contacting Royal Caribbean or your travel agent because there are minimum passenger requirements to ensure these are used for families that need them.

Royal Caribbean hasn't forgotten the best of their Freedom and Oasis classes of ships and still has a rock climbing wall, FlowRider, Dream Works Experience, Royal Babies and Tot's Nursery, an outdoor movie screen and  the Solarium, the adults only pool area with a beautiful waterfall. There also will be a new indoor pool with a retractable room and the H2O zone. 

Quantum is sailing out of Port Liberty in New Jersey until May, 2015. She will them be moving to China and Liberty of the Seas will take her spot until Anthem of the Seas is completed and brought to New Jersey.

Check out the Quantum here and call us to book - we can find the best cabin for you. 516-608-0568.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hotel Review - Maswik Lodge, Grand Canyon Arizona

If you travel overnight to the Grand Canyon it is well worth staying on property for the convenience and the opportunity to experience sunrise and sunset in this magnificent setting. We stayed at the Maswick Lodge in Grand Canyon for one night and weren't terribly disappointed, despite some reviews we've read aout the property.

If you are even thinking about staying at the Canyon and would like one of the more upscale hotels, El Tovar or Bright Angel Lodge, which are on the rim of the canyon, you must make reservations at least a year in advance because these hotels do sell out.  We were too late for those but were able to get a reservation at the Maswik Lodge.  When some of our travel agent friends heard we were staying there, we got an "Eh" statement from them and while it wasn't luxurious, it was clean, affordable and we got the Canyon experience we looked for.

Check in was a breeze with extremely friendly employees. We were asked if a second floor room was acceptable but because there are no elevators and we had heavy luggage which I couldn't carry up steps, I asked if there was perhaps a last minute cancellation  at any of the other lodges. The girl at the front desk said "Let me speak to my supervisor" and upgraded us to a North side room from a south side on the first floor.  The South rooms do not have air conditioning, so it is well worth paying extra to go into the North rooms, which are closer to the Canyon.  Service was efficient and friendly.

Our room was in the Rosebud building and had two double beds. There was a refrigerator in the room, t.v. (not flat screen) and the decor was dated but it was clean.  It was a five minute walk to the Canyon edge.

The bathroom was extremely large and offered a shower chair in the bathroom for use for those who may be physically challenged. There were also many grab bars to get in and out of the tub as well as  grab bars next to the toilet.  There was a sink in the bathroom was well as a large vanity and sink outside the bathroom. The air conditioning was a little bit loud as was the refrigerator when we turned it on. Don't turn it on to a very high setting - our water bottle froze in it.

This resort has cafeteria style dining so don't expect a gourmet meal.  You will have plenty of choices. If finer dining is on your agenda, go to Bright Angel Lodge and eat there - there is a quaint restaurant on premises with decent food at a good price. There is also a large gift shop in the main building next to the tour desk and cafeteria.

We enjoyed the ease of walking five minutes to get the shuttle buses to go to different viewing areas of the Canyon and felt  the Maswik Lodge was a decent choice as long as you know what to expect.  Make reservations a year in advance if you'd like to stay at one of the more upscale hotels.

Sheraton WIld Horse Pass Hotel Review

For the golf lover or spa aficionado, the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler, Arizona is an excellent choice. Approximately 20 minutes from the  Phoenix airport, the picturesque setting and beautiful rooms are sure to please.

You'll be quickly whisked from your car upon arrival into the southwest style lobby for check in. Once you check in and turn around you'll love the view from the floor to ceiling windows of the pools, golf course and majestic mountains.

Our stay was in the Pima Section for Starwood Preferred Guests. The room was very spacious, with two queen sized beds, a huge bathroom with deep soaking tub as well as a nicely appointed separate shower. Bathroom amenities include shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash and lotion as well as a hair dryer. There is a makeup mirror as well at the sink.

There was a large closet, dresser with eight drawers, large flat screen t.v., desk and chair, and a chair and ottoman. Also in the room was a small balcony. Depending on your view, you can hear the waterfalls throughout the property on quiet days.

There are three pools and a water slide on property besides the beautiful golf course and Aji Spa. There is also a walking trail that runs 2 miles in some pretty desert surroundings (but beware of rattlesnakes and scorpions).

The resort offers three restaurants - Hanyo Grill, located by the pool has a small menu and drinks during the afternoon, Ko'Sin offers breakfast, lunch and dinner indoor or out, and Kai is a AAA five  star restaurant.  Food is rather pricey, with breakfast averaging $15 per person, a hamburger starting at $14 and dinner entrees at Kai starting at $42.   We learned to take the shuttle to the nearby casino for meals that were a fraction of the cost of eating at the resort (but of course not anywhere near the experience).  There is a Starbucks that was open from 10 AM to 2 PM. We wished it were open all day, as we really missed our afternoon cup of coffee. Room service was the only way we could get coffee after 2 PM.

The resort offers a shuttle service that goes to the Golf Course,Rawhide Old West Town,  the Casino and shopping outlets. They say the shuttle arrives every 20 minutes but we didn't find that to be the case - twice we waited 45 minutes or longer to be picked up and one day from the casino, after waiting 45 minutes, the Casino Operator offered to bring us back to the hotel at no charge.

There is a nearby Equestrian Center for those who ride.  When you make an appointment to ride, the Center will send someone to pick you up.

The pools were beautiful however on our stay in early November, we couldn't use them because they are not heated and the water was extremely cold. There was a small hot tub that we saw some people in.

There also is a small boat that picks up every half hour Wednesday - Sunday from 2 PM to 10 PM and goes to Rawhide. (There are signs that say it goes to the Casino but apparently the original casino was on the river very close to the Sheraton but was demolished when the new Casino was built more inland). You can get on the boat simply to take the boat up and down the river. The boat shuttle is free.

This resort is an excellent choice for a conference. While we were there two other conferences were being held and the space is so huge that there was plenty of room for all three. The staff also does an outstanding job when an outdoor venue is needed for either a wedding or conference events. Service and food were very good.

The resort has a $29 per day resort fee that give you free wi-fi as well as the shuttle service and pool use.

There is a Hertz desk on property but until the last day of our stay when we were picking up a car, it was unmanned. We saw a commotion at the front desk with a woman who had ordered a car pick up on Sunday and the car was not delivered and another couple we were with dropped their car off on Thursday there and found they were charged an extra $100 per day on their bill because there was no one there to check it in. The hotel advised us that the desk was manned up until January  when the clerk there quit and has been unmanned since.  When we picked up our car on a Monday, the Hertz rep. told us they are only at the resort on days that they know a car is being dropped or picked up but they are considering hiring a rep. to be there full time.

Service at the resort was good, but we did notice a few things that should be addressed. We arrived on a Thursday for our conference and we noticed that there were bits of Styrofoam littering the carpet outside the Pima elevators on the ground floor. We spent the rest of the weekend walking past that foam until I called the front desk on Sunday to tell them that it was there and that it should be vacuumed. It was promptly vacuumed after that but that meant that carpeting isn't maintained daily.

We also had a small issue with service at our $38 breakfast. We waited quite a while to get a cup of coffee and we weren't given any utensils to stir the coffee with.  We had to wait until our breakfast was served about 10 minutes later to ask for utensils. When we arrived home and opened our online bill we discovered we were charged an additional $22 by the restaurant for food that we never had. Unfortunately, you can't call and get someone in the billing area - I had to leave a message requesting to see a copy of the signed bill and was contacted back about five hours later to be told it would be credited back on our bill and that the signature on the form was not mine.

We also were given incorrect information by one of the bellboys when we asked about the shuttle going to the Casino and he told us it didn't stop at the Casino, which we later discovered was incorrect. Minor issues but we felt that a four star resort shouldn't have issues as such.

We did not experienced the Spa but it is located in a pretty  area and had many choices of treatments at the going rate of other spas. There is also another small outdoor pool behind the spa.

We did see some children here and there is a kid's club but in our opinion there is just not enough for kids to do here and the food costs would be prohibitive to most families with kids.

As an adult haven, the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass is a great choice for a relaxing vacation.