A warm breeze on a sandy beach, a frosty margarita in hand, and tropical vibes all around you. Sounds dreamy, right? A travel designer can make this a dream come true while handling all the details so you can kick back and relax.
In this special edition of our Vendor of the Week, Travel Designer and Travel Specialist, Hillary and Ketti of Paradise Weddings & Travel chat honeymoon hot spots along with their favorite destinations. Keep reading to discover how they carefully curate your honeymoon, mini-moon, or destination wedding to make it extra luxurious.
Q: Let’s get to it, what’s your business’ specialty?
Hillary: I specialize in customized vacation planning services for honeymoons, destination weddings & vacations. I love to get to know each person, creating an itinerary that matches their “must-haves” and budget. I primarily plan trips to Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, Europe & the South Pacific.
Ketti: My specialty is in romance travel, such as destination weddings, honeymoons, and anniversary trips. I also work with a lot of social groups as well. I really enjoy working with larger groups and assisting with all the travel logistics!
Q: Where can we find you? (Location)
Hillary: I live right here in the Twin Cities and work with clients all over the country!
Ketti: Mexico! Just kidding. Maple Grove, I work out of my home. But can meet clients anywhere!
Q: Tell us when and how your business began.
Hillary: I was a destination wedding bride myself in April 2014. My colleague, Ketti Menne, was the travel agent for my wedding and she thought I’d be a great fit for the industry.
Ketti: I am celebrating my 10th year as an independent travel advisor.
Q: What makes your company unique from others?
Hillary: Paradise Weddings and Travel is unique because so many of our agents were past destination wedding brides. We have the personal experience of walking the same path as our brides & grooms. We pride ourselves on service from the heart.
Ketti: We believe in customization for each couple/client/group that we work with. We take pride in the first-hand knowledge obtained by our personal travels to so many destinations every year. We are not one size fits all company.
Q: How long have you been in the industry? What do you think has changed the most since then?
Hillary: Six years now and I am still loving what I do! I love to see how the interests of our travelers evolve with the trends. We are still seeing lots of bucket list trips for Millennials & Gen Z clients as well as Baby Boomers. Here in Minnesota, we have sustained a huge following of travelers who love the all-inclusive properties in Mexico & the Caribbean. It’s something warm to look forward to in the cold winter months!
Ketti: I would say that travelers want more unique experiences and really take the time to plan. In destination, travelers are looking for hands-on, customized experiences.
Q: Walk us through your average workday.
Hillary: Every day is different in this job! I’m usually checking in with clients to see how their vacation went, meeting new couples to talk about their destination wedding, or presenting custom proposals for trips around the globe. I also spend a lot of time researching destinations and educating myself so that I stay informed. Lots of phone, email, and Zoom calls! In-person is fun too when we aren’t under these current restrictions.
Ketti: The beauty of our workdays is that they are different every day. One day I could be working on a large wedding group reservation. The next day could include a bunch of phone calls. We cannot forget about meeting with hoteliers and vendors when they are in town and, of course, the personal travel experiences in destinations!
Q: What would you want couples searching for your business type to know?
Hillary: Travel Agents of the past have evolved so much. You may hear the term Travel Advisor or Travel Designer today. We continue to advocate for our clients in all situations from the start of planning, through the end of your trip. I like to think of what we do as a concierge service for trip planning. We know there are lots of ways to book travel but we strongly believe in the benefits of working with a “real live person”.
Ketti: Our first-hand knowledge of resorts in destinations is so valuable. Anything can look pretty online. Our expertise is so helpful when working with a travel specialist.
Q: How far in advance should a couple book with you?
Hillary: We work with clients sometimes over a year in advance. Flights typically come out around 10 months prior to your trip so that is another time people will reach out and get the best availability for flights and hotels. But we work with clients on last-minute trips as well!
Ketti: Depends on the trip. A destination wedding 12-14 months out. A honeymoon 6-9 months out. No longer than 18 months out from travel.
Q: What are the most popular locations for honeymoons and destination weddings right now?
Hillary: Destination Wedding couples continue to be drawn towards Mexico & Caribbean all-inclusive resorts because they offer the best wedding packages. Honeymooners are headed all over the globe – Hawaii, Mexico/Caribbean, Costa Rica, Europe, South Pacific, Africa.
Ketti: For Destination Weddings – Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. Honeymoons – Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, S. Pacific.
Q: What has been your favorite destination to visit so far and why?
Hillary: Good question!! I have a few favorites but top of my list is Bora Bora. The overwater bungalows were such a treat. It is like living in a live painting. So idyllic.
Ketti: I am such a Mexico girl. I love Mexico because of the culture, the people, the food, and the ocean!
Q: Where are you headed to next?
Hillary: I have a family trip for 30 planned to Playa del Carmen.
Ketti: Cabo, Mexico
Q: What are your other hobbies and passions when you’re not seeking out the best destinations for couples?
Hillary: I love spending time outside, especially at our family cabin. Minnesota summertime is the best!
Ketti: Spending quality time with family and friends. Working out. And traveling!
Q: Do you have any favorite podcasts?
Hillary: Yes–The Goop, Why Not Now, Unlocking Us and Oprah’s Super Soul
Q: Who’s your most played artist on your streaming service?
Hillary: Dixie Chicks
Ketti: Zach Williams
Q: Heels or flats?
Q: Mountains or Beach?
Q: Go-to cocktail (or mocktail)?
Ketti: Gin & Tonic
Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Hillary: A Princess at Disney World–I loved musical theater growing up
Q: You’re at brunch. Are you going for something sweet or savory?
Q: Go-to comfort food?
Hillary: Spaghetti and meatballs
Ketti: Chips & Dip
Q: Duck Duck Grey Duck or Duck Duck Goose?
Hillary: Duck Duck Grey Duck
Ready to book your honeymoon, destination wedding, or just a quick getaway with an experienced travel designer? Email Hillary at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ketti at email@example.com to begin your next adventure!
Leanne Kolodziej with her husband. Photo by Heidi Soll Photography For a ring as unique as you are, consider Jewelry by Johan....