Valerie Sondergeld, CTC, DS, LS
Interests & Specialties
A veteran of the travel industry, Val has been with Central Travel for 42 years. As you might expect, she has traveled the world, but her specialties and interests lie in the Caribbean. She visits at least one or two islands every year. She is a member of exclusive GI Vacation Consultant program with El Dorado Spa, and Azul Hotels by Karisma which are adults only and family-friendly resorts and great for honeymoons, wedding destinations, romance, anniversary and family vacations.
Val and her husband went to Couples Negril, Jamaica in November 2015 to renew t40th-anniversary wedding vows. She has first-hand experience and can assist you with this special celebration!
Val is very familiar with Couples Resorts and has stayed at all resorts at least once and at Couples Negril three times. She has arranged several weddings at the Negril location and holds the Couples Resort certification. Val has recently completed Princess Cruises "Alaska Expert" program. She also holds the prestigious Commodore status with Cunard Academy. Val is located at the Central Ave location in Toledo.
Ms. Sondergeld has experienced all the major islands of the Caribbean at least once during her years in the business. In addition to a Certified Travel Consultant (CTC), she is a Certified Sandals Specialist, Aruba Specialist and has attended the American Airlines Caribbean Travel Mart that takes place in San Juan each year. She has completed both Cancun and Puerta Vallarta specialist courses with each tourism board. Many resorts offer perfect honeymoon and anniversary packages, and Ms. Sondergeld will help you find the one that is right for you. Ms. Sondergeld is also a Certified Honeymoon Specialist and over the years she has helped couples plan destination weddings in Jamaica, Hawaii, Cabo, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. She loves planning romantic getaways for all types of clients. As a Certified Sandals Specialist, she is particularly knowledgeable about the Caribbean Sandals Resorts, and has personally visited and stayed at many of these resorts. Val also loves to cruise and is a NCL University graduate, a Princess Cruise Commodore, a graduate of Royal Caribbean’s University of WOW and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises Specialist Program.
MY RECENT TRIPS
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Paris and visited several hotels. My favorite was our host hotel Sofitel Le Faubourg. This property is a Chic boutique type hotel with only 147 rooms and suites with contemporary design but with look and feel of 18th century. It is in an excellent location to major store for shopping (expensive!) and an easy to walk to Opera area and Lafeyette Galleries which is a department store for some shopping. The US Embassy is close by and the street is guarded but no problems walking by it.
Our rooms were deluxe room category that has one double bed, 270 sq. ft., TV, CD player, minibar, safe, work desk, free Wi-Fi and Hermes toiletries. Buffet breakfast included each morning and was very good with wide range of food to choose from (croissants were awesome). There is a gourmet restaurant at hotel for lunch and dinner but we did not eat here for either. There is 24 hour room service, a spa and fitness center. The bar in the hotel had a fireplace and very Parisian style. There are a few local café/restaurants nearby as well.
General thoughts on Paris:
Our tour by Walks (which is Signature) of Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle (stain glass is a must see) and the Concierge was excellent. Violet, our tour guide, was extremely knowledgeable, personable and funny. We all learned so much on the tour and would recommend it to anyone. Walking tours are great way to see the sights and plan ahead! Max on this tour is 15 and have headsets to hear the guide.
The metro is easy to use for major tourist sights, but difficult to use for smaller areas. Uber was relatively inexpensive and much easier to get around. A private transfer to Charles de Gaulle is the ONLY way to go. The traffic was crazy and our driver was great. Allow every bit of 3 hours with security tight and it does take time to get through it all.
Stop and enjoy a pastry and coffee. Taste Paris and take in sights that are like no other!
More Adventures from Valerie Sondergeld, CTC, DS, LS ...
As one of Central Travel’s top producers for Delta Vacations, I was part of an incentive award trip this January to the Riviera Maya. We did site inspections at Ocean Riviera Paradise, Hotel Xcaret, Unico 20° 87°, Zoetry Paraiso De La Bonita, Generations Riviera Maya, by Karisma and our host resort was the beautiful Grand Velas Riviera Maya. All resorts were 4.5 – 5 Star properties and we saw all room categories in each resort. There is certainly something for everyone in the Riviera Maya!
I enjoyed the Zoetry Paraiso De La Bonita very much. Part of the AMResorts collection, it is a luxury boutique resort and focused on wellness, serenity, and romance. A small hotel, along a private beach and 14 acres of tropical gardens, the architecture has the Mayan feel. 100 rooms that include the addition of Impression section of the resort that just opened Dec 2017. Every suite has a name, not a number with colors different in the rooms. All rooms have a living room and bathroom with a sunken bath for two, private terrace (some have private plunge pools) and handmade beach bag.
Dining options like AAA Four Diamond at La Canoa, Kaax with Mexican, El Chiringuito which is on the beach for more casual open –air and Oceanside and open for lunch/dinner for a more casual dress. Room service also available.
The Spa, which is Thalasso is a certified spa and guests receive one Temazcal steam room ceremony per guest and a Thalasso Seawater experience per guest. They also have a private marina with a 48-foot catamaran – each guest receives a one-hour sunset sail. Also, daily shopping excursions by boat to local fishing village included.
There are two dining options with Unami which is Asian Fusion and Chef’s Table – you may even do your own cooking. I would be happy to assist with your next journey!
I had the opportunity to visit one of the lovely Spice Islands of the Caribbean, Grenada. Located in the southeastern Caribbean just north of Trinidad and South America, Grenada is home to one of the Caribbean’s most picturesque capital cities. With its unspoiled landscapes, it has the perfect balance, appealing to the interest of adventure lovers, beach dwellers, or couples looking for a romantic destination.
On this picturesque and petite island, you can go for a swim in the crystal clear waters of Grand Anse Beach to trekking through the rainforest of Seven Sisters Waterfalls, all within a day. This English-speaking nation has some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean, so, even if you happen to get lost, you will surely encounter other aspects of our vibrant culture and hospitality!
Working with the Grenada Tourism board, I scheduled several resort visits while there including; LaLuna Beach Resort and Villas, Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel and Spa, Radisson Beach, Spice Island Beach Resort, Mount Cinnamon Resort and Beach Club and my favorite, Sandals LaSource. We were upgraded to the Pink Gin Oceanfront Honeymoon Penthouse Club Level and on the 6th floor which had beautiful views of the beach. You definitely want to stay in the Pink Gin area if you are a beach lover.
Delta Vacations offers excellent packages to Grenada and efficient connections via Atlanta in the winter months. I have been to almost every island in the Caribbean, Grenada is certainly one of my favorites!
I have returned from a lovely sailing on the Harmony of the Seas with Royal Caribbean International, the newest addition to Royal Caribbean's award-winning Oasis Class fleet.
The world's biggest ship with the world's best features just got even better. There's no turning back once you take the plunge 10 stories into the mysteries of the deep on the tallest slide at sea, Ultimate Abyss, as well as the exhilarating multilevel Perfect Storm Slides. The enhanced the unique experiences that have made Royal Caribbean the best cruise line overall 12 years in a row has gotten even better.
Let the kids explore Splashaway Bay, take a tree-lined stroll through Central Park, or find your own haven in any of the other seven iconic onboard neighborhoods. Then sip a post-dinner cocktail crafted by a robot in the unique Bionic Bar, or sit back and watch for the first time at sea, Broadway's hit Musical Grease. You’ll love the entire experience!
I thoroughly enjoyed my recent Romantic Danube sailing on the Viking Longship Torsailing from Nuremberg to Budapest. During this 8-day journey, I encountered the grand cities and quaint villages along the celebrated Danube River and explored both sides of Hungary’s capital, traditional, hilly Buda, and cosmopolitan Pest. I had the opportunity to witness Vienna’s imperial architecture and tour medieval towns in Austria’s Wachau Valley. The food was amazing and we savored the tastes of authentic dishes, learn about local legends and I certainly understand why Strauss immortalized the “Blue Danube” in his waltz!
At end of Viking cruise, we took a flight on Czech Air to Prague and spent two nights at the Best Western Plus Hotel Meteor Plaza – it was a perfect location to Town Square. I arranged for our group to have two private walking tours of Prague with our Ensemble on location provider, Joann VIP Travel. We did an afternoon walking tour on our day of arrival and a morning walking tour the next day visiting all the major sights; Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Strahov Monastery and Josefov, the Jewish Quarter. Our guide was amazing! Our evening ended with group farewell dinner together at Zvonice Restaurant. This restaurant is located in old Bell Tower about a 2-3 block walk from the hotel. The venue was amazing! After dinner, we went to the 10th floor of Tower (top floor) to view the city lights – a great ending to a wonderful trip!
Oceania’s newest addition, Sirena is well worth the wait! Sirena was formerly the Ocean Princess and after $40 million in dry-dock, she became part of Oceania fleet Apr 27th. With just 684 staterooms she is the perfect mid-size ship. Nearly 70% of cabins have a private balcony. The ship features a fitness center, spa (Canyon Ranch), 6 bars and lounges and a casino.
The Grand Dining Room has open seating for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Lunch transforms into Jacques Bistro—like a casual Parisian eatery serving Chef Jacques Pepin’s signature dishes. Two other dining options for dinner are Red Ginger and Tuscan Steak. Country Club casual is the dress so no suits required for the gentleman or gowns needed for ladies. There was never a crowd or waiting line to get on/off the ship. We only had to tender into Santorini—all other ports were docked with close to walk to town or had complimentary shuttle provided.
My itinerary was Greek Charms starting in Athens, Santorini, Katakolon, Corfu, Montenegro, Split Croatia) and ended in Venice. I experienced several excursions and would be happy to assist you on your next Greek island sailing. Oceania is a wonderful option for clients looking to move up from the traditional large ships. The ship is intimate, luxurious, exceptional personalized service with the country club casual ambiance—loved it!
In May of 2016, I stayed Breathless Punta Cana. This exciting all-adult destination in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic combines captivating beauty and chic style with non-stop adventure and Unlimited-Luxury®. While at Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa, mix and mingle with people from around the world or reconnect with those that mean the world to you. Featuring 750 ultra-contemporary suites with private terraces, Breathless Punta Cana is the epitome of luxury and excitement.
The resort boasts gourmet unlimited dining and no reservations required at all nine restaurants. Stunning pools and white sand beach, nightly entertainment, daily activities and spa. For added luxury stay in the X-Hale Club where every room has their own whirlpool on the balcony and exclusive club lounge/private beach area and more!
I have experienced a great vacation in Jamaica at Sandals Whitehouse Resort! Why Choose Sandals Whitehouse Resort? If you want to experience an award-winning, all-beachfront oasis in the heart of a 500-acre nature preserve on the undiscovered South Coast of Jamaica, stay at Sandals Whitehouse. Perched along a pristine 2-mile stretch of alabaster beach, this impressive resort features all rooms and suites set directly on the beach. Designed with European influences, its architecture including the Grand Piazza pay homage to the romantic cultures of the Netherlands, France & Italy.
We stayed in the Dutch section on the second floor which provided beautiful views of the sunset each evening. The Dutch section is centrally located and our favorite area. Each section has its own pool. The Dutch side offered a perfect size pool/Jacuzzi area. There is no swim up bar but food and beverage service were excellent. The beach in this area has some small rocky area in water but not bad.
There are seven scintillating gourmet restaurants to choose from, each waiting to delight and surprise you. It's a global culinary extravaganza – and you'll never even have to leave to resort to enjoy it all. Our favorite was Eleanor's - Caribbean cuisine with white-glove service which spoils you royally amidst surroundings that transport you back to the old plantation houses of yesteryear Jamaica- complete with a turning waterwheel and a stone-enclosed fireplace.
In November of 2012, I traveled to Couples Negril. My last visit there was three years ago and it’s still my favorite resort in Negril. This all-inclusive, adults-only romantic getaway sits on a stretch of pure white sand beach with inviting Caribbean waters.
The central cluster of restaurants, grills, and bars encourages you to mingle with fellow guests over cool tropical drinks, freshly prepared local red snapper or a spirited game of pool volleyball. Always ready for the next adventure, Couples Negril offers an endless array of activities such as snorkeling, sailing, scuba, tennis, yoga or simply frolicking in the waves. For quieter moments, indulge in a massage treatment on the beach or a late night bonfire under the stars. Couples Negril is also a great place to have your destination wedding or renewal of vows. Sound inviting…I’m happy to plan your next getaway!
Riu Palace Antillas, Aruba - Adults Only
In October of 2014, I visited Aruba and stayed at the Riu Palace Antillas. Located on the white-sand shores of Palm Beach, the Riu Palace Antillas is a fantastic all-inclusive, 24-hour, adults-only resort is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the sun!
This oceanfront resort offers a spa and beauty salon, complete entertainment program and water sports such as windsurfing, snorkeling, and kayaking. Enjoy colorful Caribbean cuisine at the buffet restaurant and taste a world of flavors in the four themed restaurants. For refreshing cocktails, dancing and casino games, there are also several bars throughout the property.
Rent a jeep for the day and explore – a great way to see the island!
I loved my experience at Club Med Ixtapa Pacific - great resort! The Club Med all-inclusive resort of Ixtapa Pacific is located in Mexico, on the Pacific Coast, 161 miles north of Acapulco. Situated 4 kilometers to the west of the Zona Hotelera, this is one of the few Club Meds offering special programs for infants and toddlers, and as such attracts the family trade, much like its Cancun colleague.
A heavenly Mexican hacienda-style family resort nestled between the Sierra Madre & the Ocean. This upscale family resort is perfect when traveling with babies and children. It is also the best destination for Spa lovers, beach and sports vacations.
Whether you just want to relax, or participate in every activity, this resort will satisfy your every needs. Both children and adults alike can decide when and what they would like to engage themselves in throughout the day. Sports, fitness classes, discovery programs and more are at your disposal.
In July of 2012, I experienced a Uniworld River Cruise on board the River Countess. The Rhine Discover itinerary from Nuremberg to Basel is delightful along the Rhine and Main Rivers. River cruising allows you an up close, intimate view of villages and castles to medieval towns and grand cities that are not available on ocean cruise ships. Never wait in long lines to get on/off the ship, never tender to a port and never experience rough water - only smooth and peaceful sailings. The River Countess holds just 134 guests with world-class dining and shore excursions included at each stop. River cruising with Uniworld – you’re going to love the experience!
Finally, I had the chance to take my commodore cruise with Cunard on the QM2!
Our cabin, 12015 was inside on deck 12, 157 sq feet and lots of storage and bigger bathroom area than the normal. Deck 12 also has the Pavilion Pool/bar –which is enclosed for cooler weather time. We dined in the Britannia Restaurant.
There are several bar/lounges to choose from and offering a variety of entertainment from jazz, pianist, singers, classical—all wonderful and great to enjoy before or after dinner.
All the shows onboard were excellent - even a Royal Academy of Arts doing Canterbury Tales. Several daily activities are offered—some at small cost like watercolor classes ($35.00). Also, Illuminations is where the Planetarium is—a definite must to do during the cruise.
The full-service spa onboard and nice size gym was great. Dress onboard is pretty casual during the day (even nice jeans/shirt is fine) but in evening is a bit dressy – especially the three Formal nights we had.
A transatlantic crossing is one of those bucket lists things a lot of clients have and I must say, you should take the time to experience one. The Queen Mary 2 was a delightful trip!