Sam Ion

Sam Ion is the single best resource tool you can find on All Inclusives. She knows more about them than pretty well anyone on this planet. She is well known, well respected, and writes informatively, interestingly and irreverently. She keeps readers up-to-date on specific resorts and on all inclusives in general. She knows what to look for, and tells you how to best keep your clients informed.

And, as for resort weddings –  she's got first hand experience. Sam recently swapped vows with her first husband for the second time at Sandals in Jamaica.

Her column Ion: Not Just All Inclusives runs on alternate Wednesdays.


30 MAY 2018: When your client winces about the cost of a trip, tell them some painless ways they can save money in order to spend a little more on destination. You'd be amazed on how much can be saved on money, yes, money. Avoid currency exchanges in tourist places like airports, train stations and hotels The cheapest is to make a withdrawal from a local ATM when you get there. They'll give a lower rate. MORE

Cuba is the place to be
16 MAY 2018: I’m back! Back from my favourite conference of the year - FITCuba 2018, the 38th edition which took place in the Cayos of Villa Clara, Cuba’s newest tourist destination. Where is it? 300 hundred kilometres east of Havana, and just as this area was a refuge for pirates in the 16th Century - today it is a refuse for tourists, who, like Ernest Hemingway in the 50’s find it a perfect place to unwind. This is the beach your clients dream about in February. MORE

02 MAY 2018: No, you won’t find kangaroos in the streets of Sydney, but you will find them in the Taronga zoo, just take the very pleasant ferry from Circular Quay. No other city in the world boasts a harbor quite like Sydney’s. It is, if that is possible, more beautiful than it seems in pictures. With a shoreline of 240 kilometers, there’s no better place to start to discover this city. MORE

Hanging in Oz
18 APR 2018: We flew to Sydney Australia, in February, for a two month visit with our children. We heard about a great return price, months ago, so got our agent to book it, and didn’t expect much for the price. Usually we stop and stay a couple of days somewhere to break up the trip. MORE

Hooked on Secrets Akumal
21 MAR 2018: It is no Secret that I love love love the Riviera Maya. It is also no secret that I think Secrets Resorts do a fabulous job. The best yet for us has been Secrets Akumal. Secrets Resorts are not cookie cutter properties, and they each seem to have their own distinct cliental.   MORE

Roatan is for divers
07 MAR 2018: Roatan has one of the best coral reefs in the Americas. The great Barrier Reef in Australia is number one in the world of course, but who that's whole day's flight, while Roatan is just under four hours from Toronto. For the longest time, divers kept it a secret, but the news is out.   MORE

07 FEB 2018: Honduras Shores Plantation is my happy place. I have such a feeling of peace the minute I arrive - and the longer I'm there the more mystical the huge 100- acre property feels. It's a family business, Canadian owned and managed. MORE

10 JAN 2018: Fairhope is the best kept secret in Alabama. Last summer when we joined Trusted House Sitters International, the plan was to find a warm place to dog and cat sit over Christmas. Our accommodation was free, we just needed to get there.   MORE

27 DEC 2017: This time of year, we think about people. There are a number of industry people who have had a huge influence on me over the years. But there are people who I've met travelling, who have had a lasting impression too, and taught me a lot.   MORE

And Puerto Escondido guarantees sunshine
13 DEC 2017: Your clients still think they're going to have room on their credit card in January after the shopping frenzy and want a holiday in the heat. They think all of the south is hot, hot, hot and you're going to disappoint them.   MORE

29 NOV 2017: "What is your favourite island Sam?" I’ll bet you get that too. Usually I bore them to death, and half way through my monologue to see if they’re still listening, I say, “I love the island of Mexico.” If they don’t correct me and walk away in disgust I know they’ve tuned me out. And usually I haven’t even mentioned resorts yet. MORE

Sell the Cayos with confidence
15 NOV 2017: “We are waiting for you!” And more important, Cayo Santa Maria is ready and waiting for your clients. Sunwing and the Cuba Tourist Board brought a whole planeload of travel agents to see if the resorts were ready last week. When the plane landed at Santa Clara airport it was greeted by a water cannon salute, and a large contingent of Cuban press.   MORE

Help is at hand
01 NOV 2017: I’m dyslexic and Tom gets lost in a swimming pool. Driving to Florida seems like a recipe for divorce, and we had already done that once. And we drove to Florida with the kids too many years ago to count. MORE

Something completely different
18 OCT 2017: We’ve become big supporters of the new “ Sharing economy,” though not all of it has worked for us. Love home swap, for instance wasn’t convenient for our lifestyle. Airbnb worked though, and we’ve rented airbnb’s all over the world, and rented our home to people from as far away as Singapore, and as close as Oakville. It has been a huge success, and we brag about being “super hosts.” We’ve used Uber, with mostly excellent results and now we’re trying Trusted House Sitters.   MORE

20 SEP 2017: Are you getting all kinds of requests on what to take to Cuba to help? I am. Canadians are so anxious to help their “Cuba family” through this crisis. For years when I’ve visited Cuba, I’ve hauled stuff that I hoped would help. You should hear Tom on this subject, he would point out he’s the one doing the hauling. MORE

Tips for smart and safe travel
06 SEP 2017: Here we go again! It’s the season when some of your clients are worried about going to Mexico, because it is "so dangerous." Funnily enough, it’s the clients who never ask the right questions. It’s the ones who want to know where to buy “the good stuff” and they don’t mean silver bracelets. It’s the ones who want to know which all-inclusive serves the best shooters.  I’m getting a lot of comments these days, and I’ll bet you are too. MORE

Not just divers love Roatan
22 AUG 2017: "Sam, we need some off the beaten track 3-star resorts to recommend. Please help." Well, if your clients love the water: as in being in it, on it, and particularly under it look at the Island of Roatan. The largest of the three Bay Islands, 50 km off the coast of Honduras, this is the second best barrier reef after Australia’s great barrier reef. I’ve been to Roatan a number of times, and the Great Barrier reef just once, but Roatan frankly was better for snorkelling.   MORE

09 AUG 2017: The Barcelo property in the Mayan has long been a really really big seller in Canada. It still is. Not only is it a big seller, it is a big resort. There are actually five resorts, total 2760 rooms, which to choose? Not only that, each of our wholesalers, offer different bonuses, and inclusions. WHEW! I have little time for some of my friends, that say, “Why, use an agent to book a no brainer like an all-inclusive resort.” This is where your knowledge and selling skills shine. And the fact that you’ve taken the time to know your clients and the resorts.   MORE

Not all All Inclusives are alike
26 JUL 2017: For those guests who say All Inclusives in the Mayan are all alike - talk about the Occidental at Xcaret Destination, and take note of the name change. As you know, this resort is now part of the Barcelo group. Those of you who sell it, should know it is better than ever. There has been a lot of money spent on renovations. The one that really impressed me is the wide path straight to the lagoon from the lobby. MORE

Setting the tone at the top
12 JUL 2017: If there was a competition for the best GM of All Inclusive resorts, Eric Frudenthaler would win hands down - AND he’s Canadian. The moment I met Eric, I was impressed, 12 years later I’m even more impressed. My first visit to an AM Resort was to Secrets Capri in the Riviera Maya in 2005. It came so highly recommended I was dubious - no resort could be that perfect. Eric was the GM.   MORE

Liked it then. Like it now.
28 JUN 2017: In the early 90’s I hadn’t been to Mexico. Ever. Back then, in my ignorance, I thought I’d just see the whole country in a week, so I could become familiar with where your clients vacationed. Well, after my wise advisor Martha Chapman, chair of Tourism Marketing International stopped laughing she thought about it and sent me to the Mayan Riviera, in the state of Quintana Roo. MORE

Exploring Eastern Cuba
14 JUN 2017: This year’s 37th FITCuba showcased Eastern Cuba, and focused on holidays, or just days away from the beach resorts. Many of your clients probably don’t know they can explore the island on their own, on a small tour, or by hiring a car and driver. Eastern Cuba has wonderful scenery, majestic mountains, arid desert, and stunning coastlines.   MORE

Good to be back
31 MAY 2017: I was one of the 150 international journalists who attended the 37th. FITCuba International Tourism Fair held every year in May and as usual Sunwing helped with air for the Canadian contingent. Both flights were on time, with cheerful helpful staff. My only complaint was that they were sold out of the macaroni and cheese. This dish is so popular, they usually run out long before the cart reaches the back of the plane. On the flight home, we were closer to the front, so did get to try it - It was just as good as it smelled.   MORE

Zoetry Aqua delivers even in the rain
03 MAY 2017: It poured. It truly poured. Add some wind, and it takes the sails out of the beginning of a trip. And that’s how we arrived soaking wet at Zoetry Aqua in Punta Cana. We were just outside the hurricane zone, so we were very lucky. Our pal Lee just an hour away, described how necessary it was to tie down his helicopter due to high winds.   MORE

05 APR 2017: Clothes for work have always been an issue for women. And women like us who travel both for work and pleasure find it even more challenging. The days of having to iron, before heading off to an evening, or a site inspection are over, thank goodness. So are the days of separate evening clothes, with Grandma’s “suck it in” undergarments. MORE