(A little piece of my history and how I got into the business everyone thought was dead)
When I decided to open up my own agency, people couldn’t believe it. Travel agent is a thing of the past, everyone books online, people were shocked. I was the first one that booked online and with the amount of travel I was Expedia Elite Plus. And everything is fine as long as things go smoothly, but one thing you can predict in travel is that it’s unpredictable, things will happen and if you can’t go with the flow, you better have someone in your corner.
So I booked a trip for 6 in 2 suites in Roatan Honduras 4 adults 2 little kids. My little girl was 3. When we came into the hotel, it just didn’t look kept up. They gave us our rooms where the air-conditioning was leaking, and the glass door for the shower was broken and had jagged glass. How fun was that for a 3 year old! So I asked for a different room, it took hours but I got another room, with non broken shower door. However, the mattress was full of sand fleas, we looked like we had chicken P-O-X and when I turned on the water in the tub some green sludge started coming out instead of water. That was it! I was not staying there. Expedia Elite Plus has a special customer service number – as a matter of fact here it is:1-702-939-2635 you call internationally. 40 minutes on hold (with the charges per minute from the hotel (no cell signal) that ended up being a $78 phone call (never reimbursed). I was told there is nothing they can do because they can’t get a hold of the hotel management, they are closed. I told them I’m not staying there it’s not safe, they told me they can’t put me somewhere else until they hear from the management. So in the morning my husband took a taxi and found a great place we paid $2800 for the 2 suites and decided to deal with the Expedia later. I tried calling them twice more to let them know I checked out after 1 night (less than 24 hours) and I expect a reimbursement for the 6 remaining nights, they said I checked out on my own and they are not sure what can be done.
this is a photo of my little girl once we moved into the other hotel but you can tell a major bite mark on her chin by all the bugs in the other place
(by the way I wear OFF-Deep Woods as my Caribbean perfume because there are just bugs, this was infestation)
This is my baby sleeping in a clean bed, free of fleas
I decided to enjoy myself, stop wasting $$ on the phone calls that won’t result and to deal with it when I get back. To this day Expedia offers the same hotel in it’s inventory and my incident happened a 4 years ago. (I will name names if you comment or message me.)
When I got back it took 27 phone calls average call lasting about 90 minutes, I didn’t think I was out of line asking for the 6 nights back I was perfectly willing to pay for the one night I was there even if I didn’t spend 24 hours there. I received a partial refund after 8 months. Of course they offered it in Expedia credits which I refused and that delayed the refund another month for the corporate approvals. There was also some threaths on my side as I had a producer friend on the local news that wanted to do a story.
So after my little adventure, I decided I can do this better. I have opened several businesses before, did very well and decided to apply my know how to my passion. So my Cosmopolitan Travels, Inc. was conceived and born in 2010.
this was the smile I wanted to see on my customer’s faces, not bug bites and cries and misery
I decided to specialize in what I love: Caribbean, South Pacific, Hawaii, Mexico, Europe and definitely cruises and the newest most popular form of travel river cruises. I am also a romance travel specialist and can arrange destination weddings. I’m about to start including South Africa as my area of expertise soon, as well, because bucket list travel is getting more and more popular.
I take about 6 business trips a year to inspect the countries, hotels on my agenda and to become one with them, because once I see it and get a vibe I can match it to the perfect consumer. The hotel in Roatan was not for me and not a family place, even though at that time (not now) Expedia had ‘family’ listed on it. I was lucky to have a credit card that I can just charge a whole another $2800, but what if the family that saved and sacrificed ended up in that hotel? And couldn’t afford to pay for a whole another vacation? I used to take a minimum of 2 vacations a year, so my tolerance was higher. Can you imagine the disappointment and devastation if a family is on the nightmare holiday and have no idea when and if there will be another vacation next year. That family was the reason I got into this business, as I’m determined to do right by them. Of course I have favorite suppliers, hotels, but I’m not paid by any of them to promote them as my top pick and push the product. I don’t have 10,000 people clicking on my website daily, my customer is personal and I want him/her back. It’s a relationship like you have with your dentist, insurance agent, lawyer, doctor – except mine comes with a lot of fun attached. Trust is important to me.
Contrary to popular belief Travel Agents do not charge a fee. We are paid by the supplier, the same way an internet booking site is paid. Chances are we will cost about the same. I have been able to even be lower. And one of the very cool things hotels cruise lines love to work with us, as we are the ally, we will help if there is a problem. If we have close relationships they will even upgrade our clients for free, because they want more happy people. Chances are if I sent them I picked the right property and with a happy traveller we are all happy.
So now that the summer is over what should you do? Several very exciting news are on the horizon for our LA area. Princess Cruises is finally back in our port and has sailings to Mexico 3, 4, and 7 days. It has a 15 day sailing to Hawaii visiting all the islands, and I even have a family Spring Break Group on the Crown Princess sailing to Mexican Riviera Puerto Vallarta and Cabo April 12-19, 2014.
Mexico is another destination people ask me. “Is is safe? I’m afraid to go.” This year alone I was in Mazatlan in January, Puerto Vallarta June, I just returned from Cancun and Riviera Maya, going to Cozumel end of August and again to Puerto Vallarta in October. 2 of those trips I am accompanied by my little girl and I feel perfectly safe. If I can put it in the plain English – any country has dangerous areas. I know I’m living in LA now for 25 years, but I really haven’t been visiting South Central a lot and some places in the Valley I have reservation crossing Sepulveda.
Mazatlan, Mexico January 2013
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico June 2013
getting ready for a sunrise swim Cancun, Mexico July 30, 2013
Riviera Maya, Mexico August 3, 2013
and how great was this a world class chef Julio Gomez-Fraile and a world class sommelier Paul Sykes personally cooking for you at a Culinary Theater Experience at El Dorado Royale less than a week ago August 2013
I was walking the streets of Jamaica with my 6 year old and felt perfectly safe. Jamaica has changed a lot in the last 5 years, the roads are better and if you just saw it as a stop on a cruise ship you haven’t seen anything yet. Of course, I know I have no business in Kingston, and I would be as reluctant to visit Kingston as South Central. So I stay where I’m supposed to stay. I don’t just check in the resort and don’t leave, I want to go and see the stuff around me. I love street food (but as I have a weak stomach I try to eat it just the last day – just in case).
my little girl in Jamaica April 2013 in a hummingbird sanctuary
What do you do when you are thinking of a vacation next year? My best advice is book early! A year in advance is nothing. Deposits are small and refundable in full for a long time. You can make payments if booking with an agent, I even have bridal registry for honeymoons, and I can take payments for your reserved trip from your friends and send them gift certificates to present to you as birthday, anniversary, holiday gifts. Wouldn’t you rather have that then someone adopting a star in your name?
And most of all – SAY NO TO STAYCATION (when you take time off work and clean your garage or just stay home). This is the only life you have and it goes as a blink of an eye. I’m about to loose my father to Parkinsons and cancer. My heart is full that I took him to San Francisco (his favorite city in the world), Grand Canyon, Greece and Turkey even when maybe my money could have been better invested, because for the last 4 years he couldn’t travel – now, when I’m in the position to show him the world.
my father at his last trip with his one and only granddaughter 2009 Antalya, Turkey. Priceless.
(Do you really want to clean your garage and mow your lawn during your vacation time?)
I will never regret taking him everywhere even when I couldn’t really afford it because I know that is what he will remember forever and so will I.
How can I make your dream come true?
310-490-1893 cell (txt OK)
Labels: Bucket List, Cosmopolitan Travels, Jamaica, Mexico, Safety in Mexico, staycation