My Top Four Holiday Getaways for Procrastinators

Have you been thinking about planning a last minute getaway for the holidays? Did your excitement suddenly disappear after a few internet searches of your favorite hotels showed no availability or ridiculous prices with crazy 7 to 10 day minimum stays?  Nick Running Travel is here to help with our favorite last minute locations for travel over the holiday time period.


Ready to try something new this holiday season? Belmond’s amazing Grand Hotel Timeo, which normally closes prior to the holidays is open until January this year.  Because of its southern location Sicily offers a mild winter climate for those looking to escape the harsh winters and enjoy a new part of Italy.  Belmond’s hotel, the first hotel to be built in the city, gazes out across the coast towards Mount Etna.  Bask in manicured gardens, savour sensational cuisine and fuel your imagination with cocktails on the Literary Terrace—just like generations of celebrated guests before you.  As a preferred partner of Belmond, Nick Running Travel Clients get perks like upgrades, free breakfast, and up to $200 of resort credit.



What better place to go for the holidays than the city of lights!  They beauty of Paris is most often shown during the night hours so what better time to go then the shortest days of the year.  Ice Skating rinks and Christmas Markets also help you enjoy the holiday spirit.  My favorite hotel for this time of year may also be the best hotel in the city.  Four Seasons George V boasts one of the most famous decorative lobby displays in the world designed by the amazing Jeff Leatham.  Make sure you book your stay with Nick Running Travel for Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits.



While people are flocking to Hawaii or the Caribbean, Mexico remains a bargain for travelers who know where to look.  Many places in the tropics this time of year have 7 to 10 night minimum stays on top of astronomical room prices.  When paying high prices you might as well get your money’s worth with a top of the line all inclusive experience.  Grand Velas Riviera Maya only requires a 5 night minimum stay, and for the holiday time period kids ages 4-17 are free.  That’s a great value for families looking for a little sunshine.  Booking with Nick Running Travel gets you complementary one way airport transfers and $100 spa credit.


French Polynesia

While there may not be hotel availability in your favorite Caribbean or Hawaiian Island, maybe think a little bit farther away this year.  Below the equator in French Polynesia it’s currently “rainy season” which means no minimum stays over the holidays at the best resorts (like the Four Seasons Bora Bora).  While Nick Running Travel can’t guarantee weather, who cares if there is a few hours of showers while you lounge in your overwater bungalow.  Make sure you book your stay with Nick Running Travel for Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits, and if you are interested in other French Polynesia hotels make sure you reach out to take advantage of all the benefits we can provide for your preferred hotel.


Site Visits of 6 Riviera Maya Properties

Following my recent visit of the All-Inclusive Grand Velas, I was lucky enough to visit 6 other properties in the Riviera Maya that all offer something completely different for my clients.  I have listed these properties in the order visited and feel they all offer a unique experience that I would recommend to any client.

Viceroy Riviera Maya

The Viceroy is a SUPER boutique property offering only 41 rooms and suites. This is the place to be if you are looking to relax in peace and quite and enjoy your surroundings.  Every room includes a plunge pool and most include and outdoor shower.  I would recommend this location to anyone who is interested in the “jungle” feel of the Riviera Maya as the Ocean and Partial Ocean view rooms are not nearly as private as other room categories.  My favorite are rooms in the jungle as you literally could relax in your room all day without seeing another person.

Nick Running Travel Perks:

·       Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

·       Full breakfast daily, for two in room guests

·       $100 USD Equivalent Resort/Hotel credit, to be utilized during stay

·       Early check-in/late check-out , subject to availability

·       Complimentary Wi-Fi

Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa

The Belmond is my recommendation for anyone who wants traditional Mexican styling along with a great beachfront. Just like the Viceroy the Belmond is small (63 rooms), however unlike the Viceroy which a majority of the rooms are in the jungle the Belmond is all right along the beautiful Maroma beach.  During my visit the ocean was notably calmer and the beach better than any of the other resorts I visited.  The Ocean View Suits and Junior Suites looked amazing and had a great combination of updated fixtures with Mexican styling. This small resort also allows the surrounding nature to thrive as during my visit a group of monkeys were swinging from treetop to treetop delighting the guests.

Nick Running Travel Perks:

·       Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

·       A full breakfast daily for two in-room guests

·       $90 for rooms and $200 for suites hotel credit

·       Maroma floral bed decoration on arrival

·       Early check-in/Late check-out subject to availability

·       Complimentary Wi-Fi

Rosewood Mayakoba:

I would classify the Rosewood as a great all-around hotel, especially focused on large private suites with views of the lagoon or jungle.  The Rosewood provides butler service to all rooms, and while at the beginning it was something I didn’t think use, It turned out that they were very helpful.  From planning dinner, coordinating time for turn down and room service to mixing my welcome drink in my room, the butler was amazing and greatly exceeded my expectations.   They truly know your day to day schedule and it showed.  The Rosewood would be my recommendation for anyone looking for an extremely high level of service, multiple dining options and anyone who wants space and privacy.

Nick Running Travel Perks:

·       Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

·       Buffet breakfast daily for up to 2 in-room guests

·       $100 USD Equivalent Spa Services credit

·       Welcome tequila amenity

·       Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

·       Complimentary Wi-Fi

Andaz Mayakoba:

The Andaz kept with its traditional minimalist style at their brand new Mayakoba property.  While I didn’t love the Jungle or Lagoon view rooms I felt the beachfront rooms were great, while also being super close to the 2 amazing restaurants near the pool.  I would completely recommend this location to the younger crowd as there seemed to be a very good atmosphere to lounge as well as a great bar area to have drinks into the night.

Nick Running Travel Perks:

·       Upgrade to the next room category on arrival, subject to availability

·       Daily breakfast buffet for two.

·       $100 USD Resort credit, per room, per stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)

·       Complimentary Wi-Fi

Banyan Tree Mayakoba:

The Banyan Tree is a very imposing and grand property from the moment you walk into the lobby.  The main lobby area is surrounded by water and in the middle is the famous Banyan Tree.  As imposing as the lobby is though the rest of the resort is very subtle and relaxed.  The resort is done in an Asian styling which may be weird to many guests in Mexico but it is very well done.  I personally loved the private pools (no plunge pools here these things are huge!).  This resort is perfect for those who like the Asian style décor and a swim up pool bar!

Nick Running Travel Perks:

·       Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

·       Complimentary International buffet breakfast

·       Resort Credits ranging from USD $100 to USD $200 per villa, per stay (Resort credit amount varies depends on the villa categories)

·       Preferential green fees at El Camaleon Golf Course, a PGA championship course

·       Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

·       Complimentary Wi-Fi

NIZUC Resort and Spa

NIZUC is definitely a unique property.  If you are looking for a sleek, sexy couples hotel this is the spot.  While its larger than many other places on the Riviera Maya, it has a separate adults only pool and restaurant.  I loved the black pools, night lighting and service.  You are never more than a few seconds away from a picture perfect view.  Also, because it is located near Cancun, they also offer guided tours of one of the underwater museums weekly and its only 10 minutes from the airport.  In my opinion this is the perfect hotel to pair with a more jungle themed trip to the Rosewood, Viceroy or Banyan Tree.

Nick Running Travel Perks:

·       Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

·       Daily Breakfast for two

·       One-way airport transfer (valid on arrivals only)

·       Hydrotherapy session for two, once during stay

·       Welcome Amenity in suite: a bottle of tequila and dried fruit

·       Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

·       Complimentary Wi-Fi


Grand Velas, My First Luxury All Inclusive Experience


I’ve always been someone who avoided All-Inclusive resorts, after hearing stories of cheap buffet food, poor service and drunk crowds doing shots, it never seemed like something that would appeal to me.  Thankfully the team at Grand Velas Rivera Maya heard my concerns and decided that I needed to come visit to find out what All-Inclusive could be.  I spent a wonderful long weekend there enjoying all there was to offer, and walked away impressed by three main things;

1.       Food and Drink
One area that most All-Inclusives fall short in, is the quality of food and drinks.  However Grand Velas is different. They take the food and dining options very seriously.  Amazingly, they have 2 AAA 4 Diamond restaurants and 1 AAA 5 Diamond restaurant that are open for dinner, included in the price.  Breakfast was delivered via room service to my room daily, and there was nothing better than enjoying breakfast outside on my deck looking out at the ocean.  Drinks at the bars and restaurants were made with high end liquor, and the wine list was decent.  It was so refreshing to never see a price, yet still know that I was getting a quality product.

2.       Hotel Grounds
Grand Velas Rivera Maya is practically 3 hotels in one.  There are 3 completely different areas, all connected via shuttles and all provide completely different experiences.  Ambassador Class is the family area, near the beach and with large kid friendly rooms and a giant resort pool where the whole family can play.  Grand Class is 100% beachfront rooms with plunge pools, a quiet pool with a swim up bar and is closest to the AAA 4 and 5 star dining options. Finally Zen Class is located in the jungle and includes an amazing calm and relaxing pool away from the crowds. 


3.       Rooms
I stayed in the Grand Class area and my room was huge with over 1,000 SF of useable area.  I had an amazing plunge pool that allowed me to watch the ocean from the privacy of my deck.  During my stay I also got to check out rooms from the Zen and Ambassador Class, and while different, they all offered amazing space (over 1,000 SF) and fit the environment perfectly.  Even though the Zen rooms were not on the water, the plunge pools overlooking the jungle seemed like the perfect location to relax.

After returning from this trip I can recommend Grand Velas to my clients without hesitation.  I feel this resort is best suited for families, couples or groups who care about having great food while enjoying the stress free environment that comes with All Inclusive resorts.  Best of all, Nick Running Travel clients receive upgrade on arrival, if available, complementary one way airport transfer, $100 Spa Credit and a bottle of Mezcal in your room on arrival.