Why Technology won't replace Humans for Planning Destination Weddings

Destination weddings require the human touch. Even though one can go the DIY way, there will always be a need for soft-skilled, personalized services.

To best execute weddings abroad, it's imperative to have specialized knowledge of each destination. It's also crucial to have dependable local partners (photographers, florists, musicians, etc.), and familiarity with native language and culture. There are even more intangible needs that still require human interaction, such as last minute additions, managing expectations, and collaborating creatively with vendors like photographers, videographers, and makeup artists.

Our company is almost as much of a destination wedding planner as international events specialists.

We should be well-acquainted with a destination to suggest unique details that customers haven’t thought of, such as fire dancers or customized sand castles, to make the day extra-special.

For venues: Each resort has its own distinct personality and capabilities, so we try to help clients choose the right venue for their needs. When it comes to wedding packages, clients’ needs don’t always match the wedding package a resort offers. That’s where we come in: to negotiate, plan, and execute with the resort’s management.

Prior to partnering with any resort, we conduct ocular visits or actual overnight stays to “test drive” the hospitality quality and inspect amenities, experiencing them firsthand as a client would. Having confidence in a resort is a prerequisite to recommending it to our clients.

Time and stress solutions: At first sight (online), you may think you’ve found the right resort, but photos can be deceptive, as it may have been a long time since the property has been renovated. The destination's management may lack the capacity to efficiently host a wedding and its travel group--and what about vendors outside the hotel? Questions consistently come up, like: how soon can photographers arrive? Will they need to be compensated for food, travel, and lodging too?

Looking ahead: Travel tech will accentuate the work of travel agencies. 3D virtual tours of your chosen hotel selections, and the ability of customers to view hotels' rooms and amenities, will help us better present hotels for our best client. Also, AR (augmented reality) tech like Instant translation makes work for our non-language speaking staff much easier.

Nonetheless, destination wedding travel will always need a human component.

 

A Guide to Boracay for First Timers

Boracay, the robust island in the Philippines that’s on par with Bali and certain islands of Thailand. You’ve heard of Boracay and might have already visited its neighboring Southeast Asian islands and beaches, but you’ve yet to see the destination that Conde Nast readers just selected as the best island in the world, along with its numerous accolades from Lonely Planet, Leisure + Travel, and many more. Most people who’ve been would describe it as, “amazing”, although a few might say, “crowded”. Boracay seems ideal for 20 and 30 -somethings, yet it has something for everyone to love. And you’re likely to return.

Accommodations

While there is no shortage of places to stay, you should insist on booking in advance- especially during Chinese New Year and Holy Week.

Boracay is divided into several districts: White Beach Stations 1, 2, and 3; Bulabog Beach, and Diniwid Beach. Station 1 is where some of the island’s top properties are tucked away, like the evergreen yet ultra-modern The Lind Resort, or the rustic, nature-inspired Sea Wind Resort. Station 2 is more dynamic with a wide variety of high-end to budget accommodations. Station 3 is less dense with a few B&B’s and a standout boutique hotel, Villa Caemilla. At Diniwid Beach, Wyndham’s Microtel sits beachside, quaint and cozy, while the famous West Cove Resort is nestled atop cliffs and boulders. Bulabog beach is frequented for water sports and doesn’t offer many hotels, but they’re inland and within short walking distance.

White Beach

Watch the world’s arguably most gorgeous sunset at White Beach. Acclaimed as the Philippines’ best beach (which says a lot for 7,000+ islands), see Willy’s Rock, lounge in the crystalline sands, get refreshed in its clear waters, and bask under the sun in a beach that stretches a few kilometers and is divided into three stations; whereas Station 1 and 3 are considerably tamer than Station 2’s section.

Food & Drink
Complementing White Beach’s sands are countless cafes and restaurants with tables placed right on the sand. For the ultimate dining experience, The Pig Out Bistro Restaurant is the island’s highest rated place to eat. A trip to the tropical island is not complete without sampling its very own seafood, and here, grub out as much calamari and shrimp as you desire. For another festive dining experience head over to Aplaya Beach Bar & Italian Restaurant. With sofas right on the sand, enjoy the island’s best pizza while nodding your head to the beats of local drummers. But if you want to imbibe on the best smoothies in Boracay, head up to the quieter café that’s commonly nicknamed Jonah’s, in Station 3, a Filipino favorite.

Nightlife

Notorious for its boisterous nightlife scene, Boracay is as alive at night as a party block in a major city, with two organizers leading the way. First, The Pub Crawl allows travelers from all cultures to enjoy drinks and dances with strangers-turned-friends, while navigating the bars of Boracay. Second, plan ahead for the next night to be spent in style on a yacht with The Manic Monkey Crew. But make sure to book in advance through each’s site/channel, or visit their spot in person to get an early bird discount.

Hidden Gems

Spending your vacation sunbathing on the shore is nice, and so is gallivanting White Beach; but Boracay has a plethora of fun things to that don’t take place on the beach. For land activities, there’s the new underwater sea tunnel, or hiking to Boracay’s highest mountaintop, and ATVing off road. Rent a Segway or if splurging, a helicopter! Go further into the waters by parasailing Bulabog Beach, or scuba diving lessons which are an absolute deal compared to your typical scuba course back home. Whether you’ve never tried or a seasoned diver, Boracay offers several options for scuba diving. For fist timers, try the Discover Scuba Course. After 3-4 hours, including one dive, you will know the fundamentals.

Daytime Activities

Though Boracay has plenty to venture, there’s more to explore outside of it than expected. Island hopping takes you on an Eco tour of snorkel sites amid thriving corals and marine life. You’ll see how Crocodile Island got its name, then delve through the caves of Crystal Cove Island (an unashamed tourist trap!) For the fearless, there’s cliff jumping at Magic Island, or take a moment of relaxation by gazing at the crystal blue waters at Puka Beach. Island hopping also offers lunch options of local savory seafood delicacies. A vacation to Boracay should include quality time in the water, but if you’ve already island hopped, check out the shopping at D-mall in Station 2. This sprawling area is where to buy gifts and clothes, get a temporary tattoo, a lava stone massage, and to find more to eat. It is the outdoor megamall of Boracay.

Romance

More than likely you’ll unexpectedly witness a beach wedding or even a proposal. Boracay is a hub not only for singles, but also highly regarded a perfect choice for romance travel. This is where cliché “long walks on the beach” with a blissful sunset backdrop, followed by a candlelit dinners come true. To impress your newfound date or longtime partner, book a dinner high above the shore, overlooking Diniwid Beach, at the award winning Nami’s restaurant. And if you really want to surprise with a proposal, work with a specialist like The Chariot Company to arrange a fairytale-like moment that’s situated on an oceanfront cliff, complete with fireworks and a live band, just like another romantic cliché you’ve only seen in movies.

Last Minute Tips

Trike (transportation) range from 50-200 Pesos. Traffic in the Station 2 area is heavily congested with trikes.  Book Southwest Tours for airport to hotel transports. Kalibo airport is 1.5 hours from Boracay’s boat station, where you’ll be transferred to Boracay from Caticlan port. Rainy season are the months of July to October. Tip your waiters if no gratuity is added. Respect the environment. Enjoy yourself!

 

 

Shipwreck Diving Adventures for Two

What is more romantic than exploring eerie sunken ships?

Whether you're a seasoned diver of a mere beginner, you and your significant other can embark on exclusive shipwreck dives off the coasts of Palawan island, located in the Philippines. 

Our first recommendation is a secluded island called, Sangat Island Dive Resort. This resort has been featured in a number travel publications such as Dive Magazine UK and Dive Log Australasia, and claim to have eleven historically important World War II Japanese shipwrecks "just minutes away from their doorstep."

Minolic Island of El Nido Resorts 

Minolic Island of El Nido Resorts 

Couples who stay at Sangat can take advantage of the "buy 10 dives, get 1 free" diving package and although this location is a haven for divers, don't worry if you've never tried. Novices are welcome, too, as they offer courses for beginners. The "discover scuba" or "open-water diver" certification is required.   

Sangat can also go all out for couples, especially ones looking to wed. Complementing the scuba diving couples package, they will organize private and romantic dinners for two; including private service, decorations. and a complete meal. Upon request, they will even organize an exclusive wedding-for-two or elopement ceremonies. 

Also worth mentioning, nearby Sangat are the diving eco-adventures at  El Nido Resorts' Apulit Island and Minolic Island. They're recipients of many travel industry awards, recently including Conde Nast Traveler's 2016 Gold List for Best Resorts in the World.

At Apulit Island, one can "Dive and discover sunken treasures just off the beach, with a Japanese ship wreck and a plethora of marine species to greet guests." In Miniloc, guests "Swim with the 1.5-meter jack fish and get up close and personal with a variety of marine species just at its house reef."

  

Ariara, a Castaway Island to Rent with Your Friends & Family

Ariara Island, Philippines 

Ariara Island, Philippines 

Ariara is a private island situated in an undeveloped and unspoiled part of the Calamian Islands in Northern Palawan, Philippines. The bustling tourism scene in Southeast Asia hasn’t reached it yet, so renting the entire island at any time of year is good from this perspective.

On renting the island:

The island is only let in its entirety; thus only available to one group at a time. If it’s a peak holiday period such as Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year or Easter more notice is preferable - approximately 6 months in advance - although this can vary both ways. At other times, usually around 2 months prior is the minimum booking period. Naturally to be certain the best thing is to check availability and book as soon as you know your travel dates.

Accolades in news media include:

  • The Times' Best Private Island
  • Architectural Digest: "Low impact design meets 5-star luxury" 
  • Harper's Bazaar: "Castaway's Paradise"

More information at

http://ariaraisland.com/