It is almost too late to book a vacation trip. Here’s where an expert recommends going

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You’re vaccinated, Delta is down, and you’re finally planning that vacation trip with friends. You run Kayak and search for five star hotels in Cabo San Lucas only to find outrageously expensive leftovers. Whoops.

According to travel expert Cynika Drake, many key destinations for American travelers booked weeks, if not months, ago. Drake, president of Lavish Lifestyles Concierge, a New York-based global travel and event planning company, suggests booking your hotel or villa right away for the ‘holiday season’, the period covering Christmas and New Years Eve. Year.

Taking an example, Drake recently helped a client search for a villa in Turks & Caicos. “He’s 99% reserved,” she says. “I even checked with 4 and 5 star hotels. It was still a 3 star hotel and it wouldn’t work for my clients, ”she said. In the end, Drake found two villas due to last minute cancellations since Turks & Caicos changed their entry requirements to only allow fully vaccinated visitors.

“These went quickly. Turks & Caicos is currently one of the hottest markets and there are only a few villas and hotels on the island, ”she said.

The vacation period has long been notoriously difficult and expensive to book, even with planning a year in advance. Some consumers have mistakenly assumed that the pandemic may have dampened travel, but it is having the opposite effect.

“This year we have seen holiday travel almost double compared to last year. People are eager to travel after being stuck indoors and many people have postponed their vacations for this winter. So you have people who don’t usually travel who choose to travel this holiday season, combined with those who postpone their holidays until this winter. Time is running out now, especially in popular markets such as the Caribbean and Mexico. “

Drake recommends four spots, sorted by price, for those with no plans to consider.

  1. St. Barts
  2. Antigua
  3. Saint-Martin
  4. Mexico

Saint Barthélemy or Saint-Barth, has a certain I do not know what, says Drake, that’s why it remains one of his favorite vacation spots. It highlights the islands’ abundant beaches, including the secluded saline beach which allows for social distancing. “A lot of times you’ll be the only person there,” she says. For guests who like to explore, she recommends hiring a car to drive around the 11 mile island and stop at seaside restaurants. “You can literally drive the whole island in 30 minutes,” she says.

St. Barts is a popular winter destination, but Drake believes the multitude of last-minute cancellations she’s witnessed will allow the persistent traveler to secure a villa or hotel room. Tracking cancellations is a service that professional travel agents like Drake will manage.

Drake’s tip: “Be prepared to put in 50%, which in many cases will be $ 30,000 or more for St. Barts during the holiday season. During this period, villa rentals generally have a minimum of 14 nights, although some allow 10 nights.

Antigua is next on Drake’s list, not least because of its selection of boutique 5-star all-inclusive hotels. She recommends this Leeward Island with remnants of its British colonial past, to guests seeking a luxurious experience and wanting to be surrounded by other people, not just their travel partner or family. Antigua has some of the finest beachfront villas it has visited; Additionally, visitors can spend a day sightseeing in nearby Barbuda.

Drake’s tip: You need a daily car or driver in Antigua, unless you are staying on the property for the duration of your trip. Reserve a rental car as soon as you book your accommodation.

Saint-Martin offers more economical villas and hotels. Depending on where you are staying, walking to various locations is possible including Dawn Beach. Drake appreciates that the island has both a Dutch side (Sint Maarten, to the south) and a French side (Saint Martin, to the north) to explore. This means that French wines, cheeses and foie gras can be found while exploring the beaches, towns and coastline of the north.

Drake’s tip: “The water is calmer on the Dutch side, while the French side is ideal for kitesurfers.

Mexico is one of Drake’s favorite destinations as Mexico lends itself to so many different vibes, from all-inclusive luxury to bohemian chic. Drake’s favorite places in Mexico include Playa Del Carmen and Puerto Aventuras for villas by the sea. Tulum for bohemian chic resorts. Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta for those on the west coast looking for upscale accommodation and a short flight. For those who appreciate beautiful Spanish architecture and the art scene, San Miguel de Allende and Mexico are the best choices.

Drake’s tip: “Your best bet for accommodation while on vacation is Mexico. It’s a bigger market than the Caribbean and there are a lot more hotels and villas.

Given the difficulties of booking during the holiday season, consider managing your trip through a travel agent or advisor. For example, when last minute cancellations occur, the management company contacts the people on the waiting list, and it can become a bidding war. In other words, whoever can transfer the money the fastest can book the villa. An advisor will stay on such situations for his clients.

As Drake explains, agents have relationships with villas and hotels and, as a result, are given inside information about what’s available or what will come to market, from villas to hotel suites.

An officer is also keeping abreast of changing travel requirements during the pandemic.

Plus, as Drake puts it, “who wants to spend hours researching hotels and villas? Negotiate prices and think about routes? We do! As travel counselors, we live for it!

“Save the time, money and headache of planning your trips and let a professional do the work for you. Figuring out what to pack will be your toughest challenge of the day, ”she says.

Contact Drake through his website Lavishlifestylesla.com; follow her travels on Instagram at Lavishlifestyleconcierge.

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