A Grand New England Tour

Do the colored leaves of autumn fall foliage bring back memories or give you a sense of necessity to wander, to take a long way home, to add the detour to your trek?

New England landscapes are bold, full of impressionist colors that will delight and energize you.  Add to that stories by Ken Burns and you may awaken the visionary in you.   Taking a tour should be an excursion for the mind and body with visual excitement and we’ve added exclusively filmed vignettes by filmmakers Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan that will share personal stories and take you behind-the-scenes of their films.

Do you love American history, the places where it was made, then re-made by poets, painters, and icon-makers? Do you get teary-eyed or chicken skin thinking about the Revolutionary heart of Concord, the Berkshire retreats of Norman Rockwell and Edith Wharton, and the Gilded Age mountain resort at Bretton Woods?   We take you on the road through lush forests and fertile fields sweet with fragrant air, rich in tradition and brimming with antique charm.  You can search out the elusive soul of New England from Boston to Bar Harbor, from fishing boats to the summit of Mount Washington and the wilderness of Acadia National Park… in the taste of fresh lobster, mom’s memories of lobster rolls and maple syrup.

If you haven’t considered a tour of Fall Foliage with a Grand New England tour,  let us lead you on an American discovery with 12-days, leave the driving to us with hotels, meals, and guides sharing and creating memories with family, friends and making new friends.  No passport required, bring your journal or we’ll provide you one to press leaves, write poems and keep memories fresh!

Pamela (PJ) Ott, Director of Adventure





A Mayan Wedding Ceremony or Vow Renewal in Cozumel, Cancun and Mexico

Renewing your wedding vows and declaring your love should be breathtaking and one of our special venues that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience is indulging all your senses with a special Mayan Wedding Ceremony!

A Mayan Wedding Ceremony

Enjoy a special private ceremony just for you and your partner or invite guests along to witness this wonderful event with you.   The backdrop can be jungle, with white sand beaches and Caribbean Sea, Our Cozumel Mayan Wedding Vow takes place in a private area at Chankanaab Park.  Our Mayan Wedding Vows can take place on beautiful beaches along the Riviera Maya and gardens as well.

The shaman, a traditional healer, will bless your union in front of the four Mayan elements, asking for the energy of the universe to be present, and giving you both a bond of energy and everlasting love. Your spiritual ceremony can be in English or Spanish followed by the opportunity to rejuvenate the body and soul in a traditional Mayan steam bath, or temazcal to use the pre-Hispanic Mexican name.

Later, in Cozumel, you and your guests can enjoy the rest of Chankanaab Park, including the Pre-hispanic Eco Tour, tequila center, beach, coral reef and all the facilities including restrooms, hammocks, palapa shades, beach chairs, swimming pool, showers and more.

To top it all, we’ve struck a deal with a top local wedding photographer and can offer digital photography of your beautiful event at a heavily discounted price. From paying just $170 to have photos of the ceremony and the first part of the steam bath, or pay $250 and include a 30 minute photo shoot with amazing park back-drops too.

Note: There is no requirement to be married and gay and lesbian couples are also welcome to take this ceremony.

Those looking to marry or renew their vows at a more typical beach ceremony may also be interested in multiple options we have along with all-inclusive resorts with group rates and benefits we negotiate that include free rooms based on group size, private receptions, private events and much more. From beach to chapel, park and underwater, what will your wedding look like?

It’s about having choices, about having your budget regarded and guests taken care of.  Some of our options do only one wedding a day, so if you’re heart is set on a special date, today is the day to begin your planning, not tomorrow when that date is already been reserved by another bride who called first.

Subscribe to our Bliss Brochure and see some of the many venues we can give you and mix and match!  http://www.destinationweddings.travel/

Pamela (PJ) Ott, Director Of Romance                                                          503-260-0557, pj@wildsidedestinations.com

*You can have a featured destination wedding expert from The Official 2015-2016 Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Directory on your team!

5 Eco-Resorts To Unplug For Luxury And Love

It’s with passion we reveal these 5 luxurious eco-resorts for an ultimate romantic, unplugged, destination wedding or honeymoon getaway!  Planning your special event, honeymoon, wedding or proposal, begins with “it’s never to early” because availability dictates who gets the bragging rights to stay and who doesn’t. With first-hand experience discovering these destinations, it’s with pride we watch them continue going green paired with glam at the same time! Make it an unforgettable honeymoon or anniversary.  Propose to that someone special!  Leaving a smaller footprint is an elevating experience. From escaping the rat race, thawing your buns to starting a new relationship, life is important, don’t settle for seconds. So, for your consideration, five of our favorite destinations!

1. Costa Rica, El Mangroove. Combine a virgin mangrove forest and a sandy beach, then smack dab in the middle, we offer you El Mangroove. We call it Bohemian – Chic! 17 acres and a certified hideaway for romance in the Golf of Papagayo. LEED*-certified hideaway, 85 suites with in-room hammocks and see-through showers with paneling made from local sugarcane. A sweeping outdoor pool, spa bungalows with private gardens, open-air massage decks and an all-inclusive meal and beverage option.  With sustainable operation and design, community initiatives include English classes for local children, beach clean-up days and donating organic waste to a nonprofit pig-feeding project in nearby Playa Panama. (wedding photo above)

2. British Virgin Islands, Oil Nut Bay back from last year’s hurricane, on Virgin Gorda “in harmony with nature.” Arrive by boat or helicopter, a partner in legalizing solar power, and using renewable resources to run everything from air-conditioning, water heaters, “turtle friendly” public lighting, and desalination plants. Get around by bike or electric golf cart only, for your pleasure pool, spa, restaurants, and educational Nature Center. Multi-bedroom villas for couples and families coming this March! Wedding here have been published in Wedding Style Magazine!

3. Fiji, Malolo Island – paradise! Book starting next month, Six Senses Fiji brings signature eco-luxe style to Fiji.  2,100-feet of private golden sand beach, did I mention secluded?Disconnect with distractions including a Wellness Village, spa pampering treatments, make-your-own-products “alchemy bar,” and a treetop yoga pavilion! Get wet with snorkeling and surfing nearby reef breaks or stay dry with tennis. 24 suites and villas, our Fijian thatched roofs, private pools, and lots of outdoor lounging space. Extensive sustainable and conservation practices, extra-green touches like 100 percent solar energy powered by Fiji’s largest microgrid, using Tesla batteries. And then there’s our Six Senses Wedding Teams!

4. Panama, The Resort at Isla Palenque .. get your vacation dates confirmed. A Private Island Sanctuary! Opening June 2018, eight beach suites and six villas. You’ll never be crowded here! Arrive by boat, we include your transfers and three meals a day!  Plus untouched beaches, wilderness trails, and shimmering ocean views. A remote and exotic feels, great for groups or a family getaway.  Committed to pristine and wild, only 5% tamed, the rest is a nature reserve for you to find your Tarzan and Jane! Hikes, canopy tours, kayaking, bird watching treks, and fishing excursions.  Explore and unexplore, say I DO with nature in the raw.

5. Belize, Itz’ana Resort & Residences-one of our original and favorites destinations from 23 years ago (our 10th Anniversary!) Yes, we practice what we preach!  Born in adventure, refreshed by luxury! Pairing rainforest and reef, Itz’ana infuses sophisticated design (by NYC-based Samuel Amoia) with relaxed, tropical charm. Based on 3 pillars of sustainability: Nature Conservation with carbon-neutral villas and organic, farm-to-table cuisine; Health & Wellness for guests and community; and Arts & Heritage honoring Mayan traditions and art forms.  A Belize region offering Mayan ruins, underwater caves, coral reefs, and the world’s only jaguar reserve.  Toast to your future around their negative-edge pool.

Our pairing of romance and celebrations with luxury, adventure and our Tarzan and Jane, a little on the wild side culture are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Other a’la carte options include all-inclusive, butlers, double jacuzzis, limo and private transfers, if you can dream it, we can make it real! Got your own twist for a wedding or honeymoon?  We can’t wait to hear it!

* LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Pamela (PJ) Ott, Director of Romance

… a little on the wild side, always on your side!

503-260-0557, http://www.destinationweddings.travel

Choose An Ocean Cruise OR A River Cruise, The Differences

What are the real differences between choosing an Ocean Cruise or a River Cruise you’ve asked. There are vast choices and vast differences. Knowing those differences will help you find the perfect cruise for you, your family and any celebration! This comparison is a case where bigger may or may not be better. Both have world-wide itineraries, so what do you want to do and where do you want to go?

First and foremost, an Ocean Cruise is usually aboard a large ship, nowadays, they carry from 3,000 to 4,000 passengers. Believe it or not, there are some ships that when filled count up to 6,000 bodies aboard.

Taking a River Cruise means a much smaller ship and filled, will be from 150 to 225 potential new best friends. A tentative staff and other passengers with similar interests and more intimate.

The next big difference will be your itinerary, will you be stopping in different countries and islands or will you be gliding down a river visiting different cities, towns and villages? For example, ocean cruises like in the Caribbean have Eastern, Western and Southern itineraries. These are identified by the stops and the islands in a designated area. For river cruising, we’ve got the U.S. with Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee and one of our favorites the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest. For International rivier cruising, bring your passport and try a river cruise in Europe, the Mediterranean, Russia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam or Africa?

What’s your idea of entertainment while you’re cruising? Do you want a big production, maybe Las Vegas Style and a Casino or do you want to meet local artists, have small performances and musicians, maybe experience local dance groups and bicycle through towns to your next port?  An Ocean Cruise, because of it’s size and passengers will be loaded with activities day, night and in-between aboard the ship. From race tracks to zipping, shopping and rock climbing walls. Drink packages are available for adults and children. River Cruises focus on where you are, the country you are in, the customs, sights, food and wines.

Speaking of food, there’s plenty of it on both. The Ocean Cruise is going to offer more options because there are more passengers. A main dining room and other options to satisfy different passengers and usually the cruise line has branded special cantinas, bistros or restaurants. River Cruises generally has a buffet for breakfast and lunch, restaurant menus with local flair and a great dining room experience in the evening. You’ll have meals that include some local favorites that represent where you, wine tastings and experiencing the food and culture of that country.

Which one is right for you? Bigger or smaller? Do you want to wake up in the morning to a new island and sail with the ocean as your backdrop in the evenings, or watch endless scenery as you cruise closer to shore on a River Cruise? River Cruises have the “dock and walk” aspect and smaller crowds with a more intimate experience whereas Ocean Cruises often arrive at a ports-of-call complex, may tender in. To explore the destination with specific hours in port, you will need to hire a taxi, book excursions prior to sailing with your cruise specialist and deal with larger crowds getting off and on the ship. Opposite of this is experience the heart of a country with quaint villages and historic sites, meeting and making friends with the locals.

Both cruise options make wonderful honeymoons, you unpack once and let the adventure begin.  Prebook excursions and get the most out of your time whether at a special historical stop to propose or a port with a special excusion you want. Destination Weddings can occur in most countries and islands but venue time must be taken into consideration and completing legal documentation before cruising is ideal.  A note to couples and brides: symbolic island or ports-of-call weddings cannot be deciphered from a legal one by guests unless you confess! A Proposal Package will require less time and the site or venue can be on ship or in port, at a special site or on a specific excursion.

Like the sound of both, it depends on why you are cruising, your lifestyle and the differences vary by ship, size and brand.  Choosing your priorities and deciding what you both place the most value on will help fine-tune your choice of ship, itinerary and preference!  We have group specials and benefits on both!   Ask about our Small Ship Cruising experiences and UnCruise Cruising (excursions and alcohol included)!  Want adventure, want Costa Rica, Fiji, Tahiti, want zodiac boats, whales and firewalkers with culture and nature? Another comparison for another time! Take me up on a one-time complimentary consult (value $150) which may be combined with a $100 booking credit if booked within two months of this post!

Pamela (PJ Ott
Director of Romance
Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialist

What Will Your Wedding Design Look Like?

What will your wedding design look like?

We are gathered here together to witness the beginning of what will be with friends and angels, family and loved ones, to celebrate one of life’s greatest moments, to recognize the worth of love and the adventure of the most intimate of human relationships – a destination wedding!  What will your wedding look like? What is your style and how will you make your dreams come true?

Did you know that there are hundreds of wedding venues, locations and styles for you to consider? Your imagination is your only limit and we’ll loan you ours! We call it Wedding architecture: the discovery and perception of remixing memories and experiences you’ve had together, combining romance and adventure, it’s colors, being bold, being bright, it’s something borrowed and something white. It’s edge of your dreams reality, edge of your seat venues, parties with all the right notes, a symphony of love!  You don’t want to orchestrate all those details, you don’t’ want mom (sorry mom), friends or family to try maneuvering through those waters and cliffs, do you? It is a mission and there is reconnaisance already done for you!

Customizing any wedding means giving it a twist with the wave of a wand and blowing bubbles on the beach at sunset, choosing bubbling champagne or sparkling wine, riding camels on the beach and releasing baby turtled at night under the stars! There’s romantic beach dinners by the surf with your feet in the sand, it’s 24-hour room service, it’s an intimate couples’ massage.  Above all, it’s what you’re dreaming of, maybe a photo you’ve saw in a magazine, it’s inspiration for your wedding venue and your honeymoon planning!

You might want to start with a Research Dream Quiz where multiple choices stimulate each of you separately on venues, ideas, favorite things, flavours, what gives you your hygge, then together compare your responses to see where that magic can go! Whether it’s wedding, vow renewal, proposal, anniversary, there’s no limit to the memories you can make with help.

~ a barefoot on the beach wedding venue
~ an all-inclusive adults only soiree
~ a wedding photo shoot standing on an all-crystal-stairwell at sea
~ a boutique luxury wedding with family and friends
~ an eco all-inclusive venue with Mother Nature
~ a wedding in the sky with 180 degree views of the sea
~ your toes in the sand at a ports-of-call wedding in the Caribbean
~ an underwater wedding with your dive buddies
~ a post underwater splash and trash the dress, a water wedding party photo venue (meet Sebi, a partner of ours)

Pamela (PJ) Ott,  Author & Writer, DWT


Wedding Flowers On A Budget with PJ

When it boils down to say the top 10 wedding expenses, flowers are not at the bottom of the list. That being said, as you review your budget, there is a lot of room for cutting in one area to add to another.  Don’t let anyone tell you what you have to have, weddings are untraditional and personalizing your wedding means numbers have a new life and you are calling the shots.

There are many reasons to look closer at flowers, floral and decor. Let’s face it, first off, if you’re partial to a specific flower, it doesn’t mean it’s in season when you want your wedding.  The costs can drive up your wedding budget to import, ship and heaven knows there’s always the risk of maintaining flowers as well as the stress of hoping they arrive on time and in good shape to begin with.

We think you’ll fall in love with our time proven suggestion, love the budget break and even realize you can have more floral and decor than you thought you could have. Consider your loving bouquets, centerpieces and arch, aisle and chair markers a loving mix of fresh flowers and and beautiful crepe paper and satin flowers! You won’t be disappointed in your final showcase and paper flowers with step by step instructions as well as floral professional and their designer tips online are available to you so start delicately tossing your flowers, greens and ribbons together!

Talented flower designers post and demonstrate sharing their skills and you can practice, even have a brides’maid evening where everyone gets together to sip a cocktail and create the paper flowers for their bouquets and table centerpieces!  You can do this in advance saving the fresh flowers for last minute.  Having brides’ maids or the wedding party participate in making their bouquets also gives them a chance to share in your wedding experience and then keep their bouquet after the big event!

Cruise weddings and ports-of-call wedding couples can learn in advance the ins and outs and usually do a combination with satin and paper flowers premade as no fresh flowers can retun to the ship. A great excuse to spend more on your dress or photographer, it just makes sense!  More than one bride has shuffled aboard with secrets below her sash, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Consider celebrating not just one day, but 7 days of celebrating!  With money saved on flowers, added special moments with friends creating bouquets, bouts, wrist corsages and hair halos, insist they come along!  Family time is deluxe, flowers you’ve made for centerpieces and celebration are now gifts of time and you savor the moment, relax, splurge and indulge, knowing your flowers are forever and so are your memories!

Pamela (PJ) Ott, Director of Romance

Destination Wedding Leader,

Wedding Designer & Architect

3 Types of Champagne to Shop For!

Let’s get a little guidance on Champagne or sparkling wine shopping! We thought we’d narrow it down to 3-Popular Types of Champagne so when you’re going out to compare and purchase you have at least the appearance of some wisdom!

Have a special occasion, wedding, party, toasting affair and want to look savvy when you are serving your champagne? We’re here to help you and sharing some advice we found because, “all bubbles are NOT created equally!” Champagne incites happy thoughts, new beginnings, it’s opulent, symbaritic. In lieu of having an extensive class, we’re going to focus on three different choices, champagne, prosecco and cava. (no not kava like in Fiji! – that’s another blog by PJ)

To start with, if it says “champagne” on the bottle, you’ll always know where it was made and where it came from: France.  But not just France, a special region called Champagne – easy to remember right? And no one else can label their bubbles Champagne either.  In this region specific environmental factors, or terroirs, occur that affect the crop’s behavior from farming practices to habitat, plus there is a time honored and closely regulated process used in this region. Always revered at a special occasion and respected, Champagne is well “Champagne” and you can’t go wrong and raising the bar at your bar, literally, will be notice for your toasts or special occasions! Revered in the wine world, champagne is mostly produced from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes. Expect almond, citrus and stone fruit flavours with an elegant bubble structure. Fine, persistent bubbles is usually an indicator of higher the quality. $30-$300

In February, I was in Venice for a Wedding & Romance Forum at the same time as Carnival and the Italian specialty Prosecco was in the house! Prosecco is an Italian white wine which also has a controlled designation of origin, the Glera grape, formerly known as Processo, can be spumante, frizzante, or tranquillo. Other grape varieties may be included.  Made from Prosecco grapes, I prefer their fruity and florals with an aging process that gives a sweeter and lighter flavour with less-spritzy bubbles. You could say less persistent bubbles and sound versed!  Just before Christmas, I found Prosecco on sale at CostCo. It was twice as much at a retail outlet I found later that day. I’m not sure inventory is always available at CostCo, but ask for it! I was thrilled to buy it, along with my memories from Venice and at an amazing price! usually $12-25

Lastly, a sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen status from Catalonia, also produced in other regions of Spain. Cava is made the same way as Champagne but with different grapes. The Macabeo grape gives a bubble and sparkle that is more floral and fruit-forward. It can be white or rosé. The Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel·lo are the most popular and traditional grape varieties for producing cava. So if you want something as close as possible to Champagne, Cava is your choice and you could call it a “value bubbly.” The Macabeu grape tastes simple with faint floral aromatics, a lemony flavor with a slightly bitter finish that tastes similar to green almonds. The Xarel·lo (sounds like ‘Cheryl-ooh’) grape, is much more aromatic with rich floral aromas with notes of pear/melon. The third grape, Paralleda, is blended for its excellent high acidity and zesty citrus flavors. Together these three Spanish grapes create a balanced fruity sparkling wine that’s less sweet than Prosecco but not as nutty as Vintage Champagne.  Ooops, what is a Vintage Champagne you ask?

The main difference between a Vintage and non-Vintage Champagne, is not that the vintage is old but that it is made from the grapes of only one year’s harvest, whereas non-vintage Champagne is a blend of different years’ harvest.   Champagne Houses and growers provide a continuous house style through the blending of various vintages, to create the yearly non-vintage Champagne.  Whereas a good quality year, will produce a typically fuller, deeper Champagne, making it a vintage year.  So, Vintage Champagne must be made 100% from the year indicated on the label.  Ooops again, what is a Champagne House?  Think:  Veuve Cliquot, Moet-Chandon, they are large champagne houses that purchase grapes, even cases of bulk wine from independent growers.

So, get out there read those labels on all that bubbly in front of you. Take home a few varieties and chill out. Literally, Champagne, Prosecco, Cava should be served chilled (50-57-degrees), not cold. You do want your investment to speak to you and your guests with full wisdom, that means allowing it to release it’s full range of flavors, fruits, notes and nuts! Please your palate first, price second!

Pamela (PJ) Ott
Travel & Destination Wedding Expert

* thanks for a few tips Carmen Collins, photos from tuula

For travelers who dream in color