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.


08 MAR 2017: The Iberostar Parisio Lindo in the Mayan Riviera didn’t invent hospitality, but the resort is a shining example of what hospitality ought to be.  Our example started when Daniel checked us in. Friendly, efficient, and fast - perhaps the best check-in person we’ve ever had. Then he called us to make sure everything was fine in our room half an hour after we opened the door. MORE

A friendly lively property in Punta Cana
08 FEB 2017: The secret of Secrets Royal Beach is not just the gorgeous powdery white sand with the turquoise water lapping at it. It isn’t the wide choice of entertainment and fitness programs, the spa, the restaurants, room service or comfy beds. The secret is the lazy river, truly the heart of this 463 room/suite resort. MORE

Canadians love Playa del Carmen
25 JAN 2017:  The Playacar Palace has envied real estate in Playa del Carmen. To the right, the famous shopping street 5th Avenue, with hundreds of stores and restaurants, turn to the left and walk the upscale residential neighbourhood of Playacar, and on the leafy street in between, a small Mayan ruin in a little park. But the best, their very best, asset is the stunning beach in front of the resort. MORE

A rep can make or break a trip
11 JAN 2017: The destination rep at the resort where you send your clients can be your important asset. These are the men and women who meet your clients at the airport when they arrive. You of course have explained the difference between the time share/vacation club sale’s people and the rep. MORE

28 DEC 2016: The food at Dreams Palm Beach in the Dominican Republic was delicious. As a newbie, years ago, I couldn’t figure out why agents on a fam ignored the food. Agent after agent over the years has said, “Sam, food is a personal preference.” Well it wasn’t just me who loved the food, over and over in reviews guests have raved about it. MORE

Sanctuary Cap Cana is a winner
14 DEC 2016: Your client wants a cottage on the beach. Her mother dreams of staying in a castle. Her sister and family just want a regular room very close to the pool. No problem, just book them all at the Sanctuary Cap Cana by Alsol. The 172 room, adults only property is winning all kinds of awards. MORE

The little touches count
30 NOV 2016: Punta Cana is no longer just a beach resort area. With 100,000 residents, it isn’t quite a city, but the way it is growing it soon will be. Bavaro itself is a centre with shopping malls, fast-food stores, drug stores, and banks. The first supermarket was greeted with cheers from the people who had arrived to buy condos, now there are more. There are also some fine restaurants, and bars. MORE

16 NOV 2016:  The Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana is a property I’ve heard a lot about in the last few years. A property that other hoteliers refer to with a bit of awe in their voice. "They have a great repeat clientele." And said one GM a few years ago “They have Paula Miller”. MORE

When dogs need emotionally supportive humans
19 OCT 2016:  You travel a lot, I travel a lot, and everywhere we go we come across stray dogs. Our hearts go out to them, and we wish we could help. Well a handful of animal lovers in Punta Cana three years ago didn’t just wish, they did something, and now you can help too. This group formed the only government registered non-profit animal rescue in Punta Cana. They all work in the Tourism industry. MORE

06 OCT 2016: The less you worry, the better the holiday. That’s what you tell your clients, right? I wrote that in my regular column for the Toronto Star in 1995! In 1997 I wrote a ‘Value for Money’ column for the Toronto Sun headlined, “All-inclusive resorts are not all alike.” I can’t believe I’ve been talking about all-inclusives for that long. Can you tell I’m house cleaning my files? MORE

Different and affordable
21 SEP 2016:  Your clients want something new and different, but they do not want to send their credit card spinning? Suggest Cartagena. I love this country. MORE

07 SEP 2016:  We always considered travel an important part of our children’s education so we took them with us whenever we could. Sure, there were plenty of times when we wished we’d left them at home with Grandma, but we struggled through, and they say they’re better for it. MORE

Take the kids or go adults only
24 AUG 2016: Do your clients think of HUGE resorts when they’re looking at a holiday in the Mayan? Some clients love them, the bigger the better, others want small and intimate, the smaller the better. MORE

27 JUL 2016: In today’s world, passengers look around carefully at the other passengers when they board. I once looked around at the passengers at the departure gate and saw four huge men pouring vodka from duty free into orange juice containers.  They were already rowdy in the lounge. Sure enough they were on my flight seated just behind me. I called a flight attendant over and told her what I’d seen. My colleague sitting beside me was horrified. “Now we’ll be late, and it is your fault.” MORE

13 JUL 2016: Have a nice vacation! That is what everyone including loved ones say when you’re packing for a fam trip. Meanwhile you know that in three days you’re going to see 21 all-inclusive huge resorts, and will be lucky to stick a toe in the beautiful pools, and that will be in the rush before dinner. Nice vacation indeed! MORE

29 JUN 2016: Have you noticed everyone wants to know about Cuba these days? What is happening people ask?  In a word: Lots! American Airlines are taking reservations for flights from Miami to Havana at a discount even though the approvals from the Cuban Government haven’t come through yet. The restricted round-trip economy fare from MIA to Cienfuegos is $285.16. It will serve as American’s inaugural commercial flight to Cuba. MORE

15 JUN 2016: Screw-ups happen, but it is how you fix them that matters. So, thank you Air Canada, you did a great job. When I hear people rant and rave about Canadian charter carriers, I am, to say the least, not sympathetic. I’ve never had a bad flight on Sunwing or Air Transat. And I fly dozens of times in the course of a year, mostly on charters. MORE

‘The time to visit Cuba is now!’ That’s Melia Resorts new ad, and is it ever true. People who say,“I went to Cuba once, or twice and know all about it,” make me laugh. I’ve been at least 50 times I think, and every time there is something new, and I certainly don’t know all about it. Sometimes I don’t even know the questions to ask. MORE

Finding a cheap and cheerful resort
04 MAY 2016: You’ve been asking me about good budget properties. You tell me you prefer to sell a 5-star because there are less complaints. But you know a lot of your clients can’t afford a five, and some frankly would be more comfortable in a cheap and cheerful property. MORE

Have you got what it takes
20 APR 2016: The first all-inclusive holiday I went on was way way back in 1982. My brother was taking Mom on a holiday, and at the last minute decided he needed some help. I had no idea what to pack, my closet was packed with “dress for success suits”, lots of old knocking around clothes to wear at the cottage, and the odd formal number for winter functions. I did the best I could, but my brother was embarrassed. MORE

06 APR 2016:  I know better than to buy a tour from a vendor on the beach, I really do. But this man was so nice, so sincere, and the price was right. The day trip to Nicaragua from Guanacaste province in Costa Rica was selling for US $190. The man offered it for $100, with the same itinerary. “And your friends can come too.” MORE

23 MAR 2016:  Well, you’ve got them all off for Spring break. It wasn’t easy. I’ve been chatting with some of you, and of course the subject of shall we say “ difficult” clients came up. Here are some of the strange requests, and the complaints you have to look forward to when they come home. MORE

09 MAR 2016:  You know how loyal Riu guests are. They’ll go anywhere as long as they can stay at a Riu. We’ve been at the Riu Palace in Costa Rica a few days, and what a happy place it is. There is no line-up at the front desk to complain, there’s no moaning at any of the pools, or at the buffet. I actually heard guests discussing how nice it was not to have Timeshare sales people at any Riu. MORE

Open and ready for company
04 FEB 2016:  Secrets Papagayo is open and ready for company. In fact I’ve never seen a resort so ready in only six weeks. For your clients who hate long transfers this property of 221 rooms is just 20 minutes from the Liberia airport. The nicest part of a small resort (and these days this is small) is that you run into the same people over and over again, but there is enough room to avoid the ones who annoy you. MORE

A different Dreams vacation
10 FEB 2016: Dreams Las Mareas is beautiful, just gorgeous. The landscape is a feast for the eyes, and the property is alive with animals waiting for a photo op. Tucked into the Northwest corner of the Guanacaste province area in Costa Rica just 15 minutes from Nicaragua border, this one-year-old 422-suite property is unique amongst the Dream properties. We loved it. MORE