Vacationing in Jamaica was a dream come true that almost didn’t happen for the Kucera family. Anthony and Amy had been planning a trip to Jamaica for months with travel advisor Rhonda Porter and were flying high when the coronavirus pandemic threatened to ground their travel plans indefinitely.
Thanks to Porter’s firsthand knowledge of Jamaica, careful planning and attention to detail, the Kuceras and their three children were able to travel to Jamaica safely and make lifetime memories together.
Even COVID Couldn’t Keep the Kuceras From Vacationing in Jamaica
Months ago, Anthony and Amy Kucera walked into the Travel Design Lounge in Omaha, Nebraska and asked travel advisor Rhonda Porter where they should go for a relaxing family vacation. Never having traveled out of the country before, they only knew they wanted to go somewhere warm and relaxing that wasn’t a tourist trap.
Rhonda suggested Jamaica and the rest was history.
“We had originally booked our vacation at the Jewel Runaway Bay, which was a family-oriented resort and somewhere we knew we could get a taste of the local culture. Then COVID-19 happened and the entire country of Jamaica closed,” says Anthony. “the Jewel decided to close through June, but we still wanted to take our trip before the fall. Rhonda was on it right away and found a new property for us, the Melia Braco Village, and a different set of dates. She rebooked our trip without us incurring any fees or penalties.”
The Kuceras would have to change their travel dates one more time, 25 days out from their departure, when the Melia decided to remain closed until after their travel dates. Rhonda found another property, the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, and was able to rebook their hotel and flights without any additional costs. Her diligence and communication helped the Kuceras feel confident about visiting Jamaica during the pandemic.
Planning a Trip to Jamaica Would’ve Been Impossible Without Rhonda
“This was our first time using a travel advisor and it definitely won’t be our last,” says Amy Kucera. “Rhonda had visited Jamaica before and made recommendations for our family based on firsthand knowledge. She made sure we’d be comfortable, safe and taken care of.”
Rhonda even took care of the Kucera’s dietary needs, ensuring they’d have delicious local cuisine that fit their restrictions.
“When Rhonda learned that our daughter is vegan, she called the hotel to find out what options they’d have to make sure her dietary needs were met,” says Amy. “Had we been able to leave the resort, which unfortunately we weren’t due to the pandemic, she had local restaurants lined up for us with vegan dishes for our daughter. Little things like that are the reason we used a travel agent as we wouldn’t have done it on our own.”
The Kuceras’ family vacation included accommodations and activities for two teenagers and a sevenyear-old. They needed an experience tailored to everyone, providing freedom, relaxation and entertainment, and Rhonda delivered.
“It was great,” says Amy. “They were all entertained, which is the toughest thing for us to find in a vacation. There was always something to do or try. Because it was all-inclusive, if someone didn’t like something, it was easy to order something else. All the staff was amazing, even the individual who drove us to and from the hotel. It was one of the most relaxing trips we’ve taken.”
Anthony says every member of his family loved the trip for their own unique reason.
“As parents, we never could find one place that all of our kids would be happy visiting. They all loved this trip for different reasons. Our teenagers could safely walk around the resort in the evening by themselves and have their own experience, while during the day we could eat meals, swim in the pool and relax on the beach together.”
Despite not being able to enjoy any excursions because of the pandemic, the Kuceras were surprisingly satisfied with the laid-back pace of their trip, enjoying it more than they thought they would.
“Because the hotel was only at about 15% capacity, we were able to have one-on-one conversations with a number of the staff, which gave us a window into the local culture, which we really wanted,” Amy says. “While we weren’t able to do many excursions, we did get to go windsailing, and there was something very peaceful and pleasant about being on island time.”
Hotel Staff was Friendly, Accommodating
Despite having to enforce mask mandates and social distancing requirements, the staff were always friendly and easy-going, says Amy.
“We enjoyed so many conversations with hotel staff about their lives. When we forgot to wear our masks somewhere, they would gently remind us in a way that wasn’t off-putting in the least. They never made it feel like an inconvenience and we never felt like we were being put upon to adhere to the safety protocols.”
The coronavirus pandemic introduced a number of uncertainties to a trip that was already the family’s first international adventure, but with Rhonda’s help, they felt confident and prepared.
“At the time we went, we didn’t know whether we would have to take a COVID-19 test upon arriving or quarantine, as the Jamaican government wasn’t requiring that of everyone at the time,” says Anthony. “However, Rhonda prepared us so well for everything we might experience at customs that we really felt comfortable and were prepared. She even recommended that we get our passports early, and we’re so glad we did as once COVID hit, the process would have taken so long that it might have prevented us from traveling to Jamaica at all.”
Already Planning Their Next Vacation
The minute the Kuceras were checking out, they were already planning their return trip to Jamaica.
“Our seven year-old told us she wants to live there. The vacation was amazing in large part because of the work Rhonda put in to it,” says Amy. “If you’re on the fence about whether or not to use a travel advisor to plan a vacation, consider it. No matter how much you know, there’s always someone who knows more. It was the best decision we ever made.”
Are you ready to make travel plans? Explore your options with a Travel and Transport travel advisor today. We’re confident we can help you plan an amazing adventure.