The plans were all set — a group had scheduled a girls trip to Mexico last May to celebrate a 40th birthday.
But then the pandemic hit and the best-made plans went awry. For Crista Miller, the next seven months were a journey in themselves. Thank goodness she had Kansas City-based Acendas Travel advisor JoAnne Weeks along to help.
“Poor JoAnne,” Miller said. “She is an absolute rock start in dealing with all the changes we had to make. I don’t know what we would have done without her.”
After the initial postponement, Miller and her daughter Carsyn settled on January as the makeup date. However, between May and January, Weeks’ skills were put to the test. First, she was diligent over a five month period to finally get funds moved from the original booking to the new one. Then, Miller was told her resort was moved out of the original family of brands, thus Weeks had to find them a new resort. She was able to upgrade them to a five-star resort and all appeared set. But their charter was cancelled and they scrambled for space on American. Finally, on Jan. 12 it was wheels up to Riviera Maya.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost everything we do, so there was no blaming anyone,” Miller said. “Still it was a frustrating situation and if it were me doing it, I probably would have given up. But JoAnne was so organized and persistent.”
It was good for Miller that she did not give up. Her stay at the Secrets Akumal was the perfect tonic after being somewhat locked down for seven months. She gives kudos to the workers from those in the United States at the airport to those in Mexico at the airport, resort, and the off-site restaurants and stores.
“I was blown away by the service. They were so good to us,” Miller said. “They knew the experience was going to be a bit different, but they did everything they could to make it seem like normal. I went down there thinking all we could do was sit on the beach and have a drink. It exceeded my expectations. Everything was great.”
Miller said distancing and masking was observed in close quarters, but not when walking around or on the beach. She estimated the resort was at 40 percent of capacity. The restaurants were rotated in terms of availability, but Miller believes it was more because of staffing and the number of guests being below capacity. Any concerns she had were alleviated quickly.
This was Miller’s first trip to Mexico, but she had traveled internationally in the past. And despite doing everything on her own on those travels, she concluded her days of being an amateur travel agent were over.
“I will never ever not use a travel agent,” Miller said. “Travel is changing and especially as we deal with Covid and coming out of it, there will be issues you need to deal with. I was just really impressed by JoAnne. She was recommended by a friend and that may be some of the best advice I’ve ever received.”