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Mother’s Day Photo Opp!

Y’all know I”m a huge advocate for putting your phone down at Disney, and letting the professionals do their thing. I can’t tell you how many moments I would have missed if I had been messing with my camera, when Clare has run whole heartedly into a meet and greet with Pluto or Minnie! I LOVE being able to be present in that moment and not worry about not having a great picture.

I love to do this side by side because you can see, my angle INCLUDES THE PHOTOGRAPHER for crying out loud, and SHE knew exactly what to say, do, and position to make this picture magical.

We also LOVE visiting our bestie, Candi with Magical Pix when we are in Florida because she adds extra magic to our photos! Check out me and my Disney bestie Laura casting a Tink patronus in Diagon Alley!!!

So when it comes to Mother’s Day, AKA THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF THE YEAR YALL, why not trust your experience to a professional as well?

LOCAL FRIENDS: I have an amazing opp for you. I’ve partnered with Jana Gross Photography, to bring YOU some amazing magic, swag an fun this year.

Jana is doing something truly innovative and different. You’ll book your time-slot directly with her (I’ll paste her info below) to meet at a gorgeous historic home in Pflugerville, TX. You’ll get to chat with her beforehand about what to expect and how everything will work. She will be practicing COVID safe policies and is truly wonderful to work with!

You will receive a metal print (amazing) with the option to upgrade to more print packages. This session will last one hour, and will benefit ReWork Project.

Best part? It only cost $99. This is truly an amazing deal, benefiting one of the coolest non-profits around.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!! You’ll also get a SWAG BAG!

You’ll get a special Disney item from me, as well as items from:

Bluebonnet Picnic Company
Natalie Avila-Gonzales
Kimberly Michelle Kennedy
Rural Birch

It’s a win for EVERYONE!!

Contact Jana to book:
512-537-0609
jana@janagrossphotography.com

What are your Mother’s Day plans??

Thanks for reading!

Let’s Take a Trip to Sandals Montego Bay (MOBAY)!

Sandals Montego Bay is the flagship resort

I recently had the honor of being invited to Sandals Montego Bay (Mobay, as we like to call it), by my BDM for a Back to the Beach FAM event. What does that mean, you ask? It’s a learning event for agents and this one was to see the new safety and testing protocols that Sandals put in place, live and up close, as well as the experience the resort for ourselves.

I learned so much and now I want to share it with all of you.

Oh No, I Have to Test to Go and to Come Home?!?

This is the biggest question that I have received since the announcement was made about needing to test in order to come home. Let me calm your fears about the process, Sandals has you covered.

Step 1: 3 days prior to leaving for Jamaica you will need a COVID-19 test, this may be a rapid Antigen or a PCR test.

Step 2: 5 days prior to leaving for Jamaica you must log onto the Visit Jamaica site: https:/www.visitjamaica.com and fill out the application for your Travel Authorization form. You NO LONGER need to upload your negative COVID-19 results so don’t stress if you do not have them yet. Once you submit the application you will IMMEDIATELY be approved, yes immediately. Print the forms that you are emailed. YOU WILL BE DENIED BOARDING AT THE AIRPORT IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE NEGATIVE COVID-19 TEST AND THE JAMAICA AUTHORIZATION FORM WITH YOU.

It is important to keep in mind that everyone on your flight as well as at the Sandals Resort has tested negative as well:). The Resort is considered your place of quarantine by the Jamaican Government and you must stay on property or at Sandals Royal Caribbean. (You have the use of both resorts)

Step 3: Two days prior to departure you will receive a letter on your door, this letter will tell you the room number and time window to go for your COVID-19 test for your return home. The tests are done by the Jamaican government, they are paid for by SANDALS. The form you need to take with you is in the envelope, you need that form and your passport the day of the test. It is a rapid test much like a pregnancy test. You want one line not two!

They take 2 people into the room at a time and sanitize between each couple. You must wait for your results and they hand you the papers you take to the airport. The entire process took us about 30 minutes to complete.

I know what you are thinking…what if I test positive??? Well in the event you test positive, you get to stay in your room, so if it’s a swim up butler suite, it’s yours for another 10 days! They will bring you food and beverages and you will be allowed on your balcony area. The cost is 200.00 per night BUT it’s totally covered by Sandals insurance so guess what, it’s reimbursed.

Is it Safe/Clean?

Absolutely, hands down, totally sanitized, clean, and safe! Each room is totally sanitized and sealed after and you are the first to break that seal upon arrival. They clean EVERYTHING including the vents of your air conditioning unit.

There is hand sanitizer all over the resort and you must use it before entering restaurants and the gift shops.

Do you have to wear a mask? Only in the gift shop or enclosed locations like the club area to check in. The staff is in masks but you don’t have to be unless you want to be. The resort is all outdoors and naturally socially distanced. It is the most normal I have felt. **remember, we are all tested to be there and while we are there to come home.

Now the Fun Stuff…What’s Included in a Sandals Vacation??

Sandals Resorts include EVERYTHING! Room, food, top shelf liquor, entertainment, activities (even scuba diving if you are certified), transfers from the airport, and gratuities!

**not included: spa treatments, excursions such a catamaran cruises and tours, Butler gratuities (if you’re in a butler suite), and cabana rentals.

Food and Drink…soooo much

Sandals Montego Bay has 12 Restaurants, yes 12!!! You can eat at all of them, they are all included, I had many 2nd lunches and 2nd dinners to get them all in. Currently reservations are only required for 2 of the restaurants, Butches Steak House and Tokyo Joe’s.  The other restaurants are just walk up but I still make one at Soy’s to be sure I had a table inside.  

The 12 restaurants at Mobay are Bayside Restaurant, Oleander Room, Stew Fish, Cucina Romana, Tokyo Joe’s, The Cricketers Pint, Dino’s Pizzeria Italiana, The Mariner Seaside Bar and Grill, Café de Paris, The Jerk Shack, Butches Steak and Seafood, and Soy Sushi Bar. Where would you start?

The drinks, from coffee to any beverage you can dream up. My favorites, Dirty Banana, Purple Rain, Bob Marley!

The Rooms…

Holy Moly, where to begin, there are so many different types of rooms to choose from, I toured 5 and stayed in 2 different ones. I definitely have a favorite. The one that I absolutely love (and stayed in when I visited in October) is the Beachfront Swim-up Super Luxe One-Bedroom Butler Suite w/ Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub! This room features Room Service, Butler Service, Love Nest, In-Room Bar w/ Premium Liquors, private BMW Transfer, Free Wifi, and a Tranquility Soaking Tubs™ for Two. I also this beautiful pool that I could swim across and walk right onto the Beach.

I will upload some room tour videos but first here is a look at some pictures of our Butler Suite from October

Romeo and Juliet Suite
Crystal Lagoon club level swim up suite…yes there is a blooper at the end.
Millionaire Swim out Butler Suite
Oceanview Penthouse Club level jr suite with balcony tranquility tub
Oceanfront honeymoon walkout club level rooms with tranquility tub

Weddings and Retie the Knot Ceremonies

Did you know that you can get married or retie the knot at Sandals? There are multiple venues, some are FREEEE! Pictured above is the over the water chapel, it will cost you 750.00 to use this for your event. The floor has a glass bottom so you can see into the ocean.

There is also another chapel that can be used for 350.00 and a Catholic Priest will come in and perform the ceremony. This venue is also used as a backup in case of bad weather and will be at no charge should that happen.

You can be married anywhere on the beach or in any other wedding location for free. They even have a bridal room that you can use!

Contact me for more information about weddings!

Coming Home?

You all know me, DCL is my “home” and I am missing it terribly. That said, I have been to Mobay twice and it is like coming home! Although I didn’t have a butler for this FAM, I did see my butler Wilson and guess what, he remembered me! So did Stephanie from the spa, and Kayon from the bar, and Adam and Ray from entertainment!! It is just what I needed to feel relaxed and happy while the world is still upside down.

My Thoughts

I know some are ready to travel and some are not. I know some feel disconnected from spouses/partners because of the quarantine, homeschooling, Covid stress, etc.

If you are ready to travel and reconnect with your loved one, Sandals is a safe and romantic place to do it, it might be just what you need to reconnect or just have some alone time.

I leave you with some pictures. If you’re ready, I am here to help you plan!

Drop a comment below if you want to go to paradise!!

My Favorite Chocolate Frog Finds

You may or may not have seen that over on my Facebook Page, I have declared 2021 to be, “The Year of the Chocolate Frog.” Just seems obscure and delicious enough to provide some motivation for a more magical year.

To me, this means a year of more magic, more fun, more butterbeer, and OBVIOUSLY….more chocolate frogs.

In honor of this I wanted to share my top 5 chocolate frog finds. In no particular order.

  1. Chocolage Frog Trinket Box, $24.95

How ADORABLE is this?? I personally own this item and it is absolutely perfect in every way. It’s fragile, so be sure to handle with care, but this makes an amazing addition to your nightstand or decorative shelf for a touch of whimsy!

2. Chocolate Frog Plus, $21.95

I also own this item, and IT SMELLS LIKE AN ACTUAL CHOCOLATE FROG! It is adorable. The bottom part is made of thin cardboard so it’s not the sturdiest. I recommend buying this online to ship rather than trying to cart it in your suitcase home. Excuse me while I go enjoy the scent of chocolate…

3. Chocolate Frogs, 4-Pack, $49.95

Is there really an explanation needed? These are delicious, authentic and COME WITH THE TRADING CARDS! I love them. I recently got one I had never seen before…Jocunda Sykes.

“This witch is famous for the first ever Atlantic broom crossing.”

4. Chocolate Frog Ornament, 24.00

There are a few but this one is my favorite! I think I want to do a Honeydukes themed tree next year. Doesn’t that sounds SUPER MAGICAL?

5. Chocolate Frog Cloth Face Mask, $8.00

There are a few styles—it was honestly hard to pick my favorite, but I think this one wins. These are so cute. Be sure to click around on the site because the link about is to the size Large, and they come in a variety of sizes. If we have to wear masks, they might as well be MAGICAL!! Right?

Click here for ALL the official chocolate frog merch you can get online via the Universal Store. There’s a lot to choose from!

Do you have any chocolate frog merch? Let us know in the comments below!

2020…We Made It…My HONEST Thoughts About Walt Disney World Post Covid.

Laying on an empty Main Street at 3:00pm in July

Wow, what a year, I don’t even know where to start. I mean, it started off so well, my business was booming, life was great, we had just given our grandchildren a Christmas gift to go to Walt Disney World. What could be better?

Our family went on a Star Wars Day at Sea Disney Cruise in January, I took my sister-in-law on a Bahamian Disney Cruise in February. March came and my family was at Disney World and the unthinkable happened….it closed. Literally closed.

March 15, 2020

Just like that all of our lives changed, this virus shut everything down and I spent the next 5 months calling clients and cancelling trips, truth is, it’s still happening. The cruise lines are still suspended and Disneyland is still closed.

When the announcement was made that Disney World would begin to open in July I had a flurry of mixed emotions. I was super excited that there would be magic again, I was beyond thrilled for the Cast Members who had been out of work, BUT I was also very nervous. Why you ask? Because just like the rest of the country, there is a scary virus out there and was it going to be safe to go? Could I send my clients?

7/11/2020

I took it upon myself to go with fellow agents to the opening. I knew the protocols that were put into place and I fully trusted that Disney would keep me safe. The questions I had were the same as all of you…would it still be magical? No fireworks, no parades, no character interaction, no park hopping, was it really safe?

The answer to all of these questions is YES. IT REALLY STILL IS MAGICAL. It may be different but Disney hasn’t forgotten how to make magic.

There are in fact characters and mini parades that pop up, called cavalcades. You never know when one is coming, the music suddenly changes and BOOM, here comes a cavalcade! Character dining is coming back…slowly…and although the character interaction is different, it is still fun.

Safety: you are in the “Disney Bubble”. Everything is constantly sanitized, even the buildings on Main Street! You can find hand sanitizer all over as well as hand washing stations throughout the parks. Quick service dining is ordered and paid for via the My Disney Experience app, making everything touch less.

Was it crowed? This is a very common question. No, right now the parks can be at 35% capacity and you need a park reservation. This means that you can’t be turned away at the gate as long as you have a reservation. There is plenty of room and space to walk around and stay social distanced. Masks ARE required. No mask NO entry.

Should you go to Disney World? Absolutely yes. If you are comfortable traveling, you won’t regret it. I have had amazing feedback from my clients that have traveled. I have personally been there 4 times since July. It is stress free, it takes a lot less planning. Enjoy the pictures of my magical adventures post covid!

Are you as tired as I am? My 2020 perspective on Traveling a COVID World, the UO Edition.

I’m tired, ya’ll. This year has taken it all out of me, and then some. I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but I’m always hopeful at the restart and reset of a new year.

But if you’ll indulge me for a minute, I want to share some bright spots with you post COVID.

Let’s start where it all began.

I’ll never forget being on the Disney Dream, our last full day at sea, before heading home, and the Captain coming over the loud speaker. Everywhere. Everywhere on the ship.

In the Staterooms, on deck, in the theater. Everything paused for those few minutes that seemed to last forever, when he told us a world wide pandemic had been announced.

It was shocking.

We knew things were not all well when we decided to board the ship, but this took my breath away. And honestly? I really didn’t want to get off the next day. HA!

Protocols and changes went into place IMMEDIATELY. Disney is so good at this. At keeping people calm and cool and smiling. So grateful. I looked around at each family member I was travelling with, and you know all those thoughts start bombarding every side of your brain and it’s a mixutre of, ‘What if this is the last time we are all together?” and , “How will this change our lives?”

We had no idea that nine months later we would be fighting this things, STILL.

But as COVID progressed and the pandemic has raged on, parks and entertainment found a way to bring back the fun, SAFELY, with extreme caution.

I was NOT the first to jump on the bandwagon, I’ll be honest. After seeing trip after trip and reschedule after reschedule, I was really disheartened. Travel is my LIFE. This is what I do to clear my head, REST, disconnect, and care for myself.

I finally got on a plane in late August and didn’t tell many people. I didn’t even really post about it on my page, but I figured if there was anywhere that would be okay to visit, it would be Disney or Universal. And let me tell you–I was BLOWN AWAY by the protocols Universal had put in place.

Note that we were by ourselves on a bridge, drinking coffee, and stationary. This was a safe spot for us to pull down our masks for a fun picture, safely and within protocols!

You see, many of their Reps (we call them UReps) got on Facebook and began to interact with us. They made posts, made us laugh, gave us purpose, and provided glimpses of hope and excitement with live, real time, information on how things were going at the parks. How they would make a great come back and reopen. IT WAS GLORIOUS.

I’ve been three times since August, to visit Universal Orlando. On these visits I have frequented Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, City Walk, and MANY of the resorts including Hard Rock, Portofino Bay, Royal Pacific, Surfside and Cabana Bay.

Did they do everything perfectly? Honestly, no. My first stay at Hard Rock was a little unnerving (and slightly gross) because we all had to put our trash in the hallway to be picked up. They only picked up once a day so it could be sitting awhile. Due to COVID, maid services can not enter your room–this is right and safe, but it took us ALL awhile to adjust to this new normal.

But yall, THIS IS NEW. IT IS A PANDEMIC. We are all trying to figure this out, and make the best of what we can. I did not see this at the other four resorts I stayed in. And even tho maid service wasn’t running, they were doing everything else AMAZINGLY well.

My favorite thing was the texting. At check-in, they texted your phone to welcome you, and you could text ANY question ANY time of day for a quick response and turn around. They were 100% on their game, and told me where I could get sunscreen, when the gift shop opened, how much the tubes were to float in at the Lazy River, sent me extra shampoo up–it was GOLD. I adore this feature and hope they keep it around forever. We even checked out via text.

Room Service was also up and running. This is not the case many other places–they safely deliver to your door in to-go containers and never skimped on the extras and condiments. Very well done, Universal!

I have been in park on crowded days and empty days. They were all amazing. One of the most frequent questions I get is, “If I go, will it still be magical?” My short answer is ABSOLUTELY.

The first time seeing Diagon Alley was monumental for me. It was everything my Harry Potter loving heart had hoped for. Up until this year I had only been to Hogsmeade (I KNOW YALL!). The butterbeer, the fishy green ale, the constant epic music playing in the background made me feel like at any turn I was going to run into Ron, Harry and Hermione so we could talk about Snape’s latest potions assignment and what we were going to wear to the Yule Ball. It was everything.

Right before Christmas, right at dusk, we were visiting the Universal Orlando park, rounding the corner near Jimmy Fallon, where the Macy’s Balloon exhibit stood, and the Holiday Tribute Store beckoned. Christmas lights were strung everywhere, donning each building in the most festive way. Cocoa in hand, it truly and completely gave me the chills. It was beautiful, and my cup felt full for the first time during the pandemic. Pure joy.


There are so many more moments that stand out. Taking pics on the ET bike. Screaming and laughing so hard on the Simpsons Ride. Clare riding minions for the first time. Casting spells. Eating chocolate frogs. Hogsmeade at NIGHT TIME, quiet and full of wonder and hope. It gave us an escape. A mental break and put the world on hold for just a moment, while we immersed ourselves into fantasy and PLAYED.

“Okay, it sounds like it’s still magical, but is it actually safe?” I always say I feel safer going to Universal than I do my own grocery store. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s how I feel. You see people cleaning everywhere, dolling out the sanitizer into everyone’s hands before you step onto any ride, temp checks, distancing and markers everywhere. Also, the mask free safe zone? GENIUS and totally necessary. Love these.

Now hear this for SURE. You will ALWAYS have the human factor. There are guests that don’t care or read, or just don’t understand. That is just going to be a given. Some days we saw workers enforcing lines and distance, other days we didn’t. We almost always saw Universal Reps reminding people to wear masks. Everything is clearly marked, checked and employees are all wearing masks and in a lot of cases shields and gloves as well.

“Should I wait, if it’s my first time to visit? I want to be able to experience all the things.”

Honestly, GO. You will love having the break, you will get epic pictures wearing masks that will go down in your Facebook memories forever to remember this insane year by and that we SURVIVED ALL THE THINGS, and you’ll really enjoy the lower park capacity. You will. You will be spoiled with shorter wait times.

Not every single ride is open, and not every single restaurant is serving, but to me it hasn’t been enough to put me out. We have tried so many things we normally wouldn’t have, if I’m being honest. We were more relaxed, took the parks at a slower pace, and enjoyed taking in some epic scenery and details we normally would not have noticed.

I hope this helps you decide. Yes, this is my life, my business, my livelihood. But if you’re ready to travel again, I can honestly tell you, from someone who never leaves her house—it’s as safe as it can be, it’s still as MAGICAL as it can be, and you will not regret it for one minute.

You don’t have to just take my word for it. Here’s what my clients are saying:

“This was exactly the mental health break we needed.”

“It felt so good to immerse ourselves in a whole other world for a week. Even though we were wearing masks, it felt so normal.”

“I kind of prefer COVID themeparks to regular times. The crowds were so low and everyone was just so happy to be there.”

“I’m so glad our memories of this awful year won’t just be sitting at home. It was different but worth it.”

Have you traveled post COVID? Let us know in the comments!