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Travel agent's familiarization trip adventure

Karla Haygarth reflects on a recent trip to Mexico.
Denise Taylor, left, and Karla Haygarth both work for TravelOnly.

ALAMEDA - Karla Haygarth is an independent travel agent with TravelOnly and is based out of her house in Alameda.

She just recently attended a familiarization (FAM) trip with Playa resorts. She was one of the 12 chosen out of Canada by the company to go to Cancun, Mexico. The agents inspected Playa’s resorts so they become familiar and then return home to sell their resort.

Karla was very surprised to be selected as she had not sold that property yet but now after being there, she soon will be. The Playa resorts include The Hyatt Ziva’s, Hyatt Zilara, the Hilton All Inclusive, Wyndham Alltra, Sanctuary Cap Cana, The Jewel & Jewel Grande & Turquoize, which are also all inclusive.

They inspected eight resorts that were in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Cancun & Riviera Maya. All eight resorts were very stunning and the service was impeccable.

It does depend where you are visiting as many people want the gorgeous beaches but some resorts don’t have the beach; they are noted for their pools and rooms. That is why we say it is so important to work with a travel agent as they know or they have close contacts to find out for you. The travel agents will work with you from the start of your trip planning until you get home.

Our suppliers have been great to work with and now since COVID-19, most of the suppliers have a travel agent phone line. So, we are not having to wait on hold for the seven or eight hours like we were at the start. Travelling was hard hit by the pandemic as we all know but we do finally see it opening and it is opening quickly.

They are calling it revenge travel; people want to go now and get to destination where they can be pampered. They can eat, drink, lay by the pool or beach and then entertainment at night. They have missed this for a very long time. Many are not yet ready to do all the tours they just want to relax and take in all what the resort has to offer.

So, the resorts are noticing and making sure they have their entertainers and their service staff ready. The private transfer guy I used going to the resort was very kind and we discussed COVID. He said for seven months in Cancun there were no one on the beaches or in the resorts.

People would drive in their cars from place to place but no one was walking the sidewalks or beaches. He said it was very eery. We seen a wide variety of rooms for all types of people. They would always show us the lowest category room on our inspections and say “this is the worst room your clients can have” as we all would be in awe looking at the beautiful room. The resorts had many months to update and upgrade their resorts during COVID.

My travelling down to Cancun from Regina was very uneventful and that is a good thing. Regina airport is perfect for our small centres and is quite easy to get around. The lineups are quite minimal but I am sure we are going to see the lines getting longer as it moves into the colder weather. We have many booked for this winter and getting more every day.

I arrived in Toronto to catch my flight to go to Cancun and the immigration line was quite a bit shorter than when I traveled last December. The agents from Ontario said that Toronto airport has really picked up their game and hired staff. So, the nightmares we heard are no longer but as the winter months come nearer and the holidays, we can expect the travel population will double.

At one time there were many forms that people had to have filled out to enter other countries but even that is getting better now. I entered Cancun and going through customs all I had to show were my boarding passes and passport. I’m not saying it won’t change but for now it was very nice and pleasant entering Mexico.

I would suggest for anyone that is thinking of traveling this winter to please look soon and avoid disappointment. The product is going fast and there are deals out there but it won’t be the deals we saw pre-COVID. Flying has increased over COVID and so have tours but if you purchase packages, you will certainly see better deals.

So don’t be afraid to travel if your ready there are many people out there and if you practise safety protocol you will be fine. There are many people still wearing masks in the airport and on the planes and that is totally up to you. Lots of hand sanitizing stations throughout your travels so take advantage when you can and travel safe.

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