Friday, April 15, 2016

Five Must Do Activities in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

best things to do in playa del carmen
stunning sunrises in Playa Del Carmen
Oh, the sunrises in Playa Del Carmen. Watching the sun rise is one of my new favorite activities, and likely even beats watching it set. After all, when the sun rises, you are typically one of few people out and about and are able to have those quiet moments to reflect on your upcoming day. Watching the sun rise across the Caribbean is simply a stunning experience and an absolute must-do activity for anyone visiting Playa Del Carmen.

best playa del carmen day tours
When we visited Playa, we spent the day with Local Quickies and our day ended with a three hour catamaran ride on the largest catamaran in the Caribbean. The ride was everything I could have asked for and truly had something for everyone. Relax on the ropes on the front of the boat. Check out the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, and see them exactly as the Spaniards saw them hundreds of years ago. Listen to music. Eat fresh guacamole. Mingle with new friends. And of course, have a few cocktails with the open bar. Catamaran rides are certainly one of my new favorite activities for any vacation!

playa del carmen restaurants
Delicious, fresh baked bread at Chez Celine
Fifth Avenue is the main drag in Playa, and there are endless restaurants and shops. Chez Celine is an cozy cafe & bakery located on the far east end of the main street. Oh, was everything amazing! I ate there twice and I was able to sit both indoors and outdoors and had two vastly different experiences. Outdoors, I watched the people walk by and enjoyed the warm weather. Indoors, I was able to watch the bakers and the dedication that they put into each individual baked good. It was so impressive to watch, and there is no wonder Chez Celine is as popular as it is!

Getting the second shot on a barracuda!
Between my husband and I, we have had tons of different travel experiences. One thing we had never tried until visiting Playa Del Carmen is spearfishing, and I know that Nick is absolutely hooked by now. Spearfishing is a great way to experience fishing in a completely new way, and the best part is that you are also immersed in the water. Whether you actually get anything or not (which, trust me, you or somebody in your group will!) you will be able to see so much amazing wildlife underneath the ocean. My best advice is to just go!

to do in Playa Del Carmen
Colorful streets in Cozumel!
Despite having been to Mexico several times and having heard great things about Cozumel, I had never made it over to this quaint island. On one of our last days, we hopped onto the 30-minute ferry ride to go visit Cozumel. I'll be honest, as much as I loved it - I truthfully have enjoyed other places in Mexico much more! However, it is certainly worth a day trip to go explore somewhere new. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Custom Tailoring in Thailand: Tailor on Ten

where to get custom suits in Bangkok
Nick all suited up!
Two years ago while on our honeymoon, Nick and I were introduced to the world of custom tailoring in Thailand. While strolling the streets, it seemed that at least once every block, if not more often, there was a well-dressed man in a suit asking you to come inside for a custom tailored suit - or shirt, or jacket, or really, anything you could dream up. We decided to take a chance on it, and had some OK things made. However, we KNEW that things could be much better, so before this most recent trip to Thailand Nick performed extensive research to find out who the best tailor in Thailand is. If you have ever wondered where to get custom suits in Bangkok, you've found it right here. After researching tailors over a several month long period, once he received his new job offer, we booked our flights to Bangkok and off we went!

Tailor on Ten Bangkok
Outside of Tailor on Ten - hard to believe you are in the heart of Bangkok!
Now, just a quick discussion on why Nick wanted custom suits made in Thailand, and specifically selected Tailor on Ten. First, you get to pick every detail of them and the fit will be amazing. Second, designing custom suits in the U.S. can take at least two months (if not more), and range in price from $2000-$3000, or even higher. We were able to order six suits, thirteen shirts, and one sport coat - and the entire process was completed in one week for a fraction of the price (and time!) it would have taken in the U.S. Now, these are just a couple of the quick highlights - on to the rest of the review and reasons you should be ordering custom items from Tailor on Ten!

Fast forward past the 24 hour flight and a quick catnap at our hotel, and we arrived at Tailor on Ten for our first appointment. As soon as we walked in the door, we were greeted and asked if we would like a water or a beer to refresh ourselves from the heat of the day. The shop was cool, tidy, and lined wall-to-wall with more bolts of fabric and options for suits and shirts than I could ever picture!

As we were a few minutes late for our appointment (oops - taxis in Bangkok can take forever to get from place to place!), Danny, the guy who would be helping us was just wrapping another task up. We took a few moments to relax and cool off from the heat, and then I started looking at some of the fabric for suits. As somebody who initially had little to no knowledge of suits and fabrics - besides the fact that there is a wide range as far as quality and price goes - I really did not know what to expect. Anyways, on to the good stuff!

Nick working on selecting all of his options
Once Danny was able to assist us, we sat down and explained exactly what we were looking for, and what we had been thinking price-wise. One of the great things about Tailor on Ten compared to other tailors in Bangkok and throughout Thailand is that Tailor on Ten uses fixed prices, and there is no negotiation. Thus, you always know you will get what you are paying for and are not getting ripped off, like you may worry about at other places! We explained that Nick was looking for high quality suits and shirts that he could wear every day, and not only that they would look nice but also last him for a long time. After understanding what we were looking for, Danny gave us brief information and the highs and lows of each of the different suit fabrics that we could select from. He steered us away from some of the fabrics that would not be ideal for daily use, and towards exactly what we were looking for. For example, we had naively assumed we would be purchasing the most expensive fabric, as we thought that meant the highest overall quality and would last the longest. However, Danny informed us that based off the desire to have suits that would last a long time and be worn every day, we may want a more durable fabric and actually steered us to a cheaper fabric. Yes, you read that right - a salesperson listened to what we wanted, and instead of having us spend more money on something we ultimately wouldn't be happy with, told us the best option, even though it was cheaper in price! After determining the fabric type that we wanted, it was off to select colors!

where to get suits in Bangkok
the shirt fabrics we selected
Getting measurements. These two guys alone have over 40 years of experience!
Draping fabric to help envision how it would look as a suit
As a non-creative person, I had a very difficult time envisioning many of the bolts of fabric as suits or shirts. However, this is where Danny was great and was able to assist us in envisioning the final product. When we weren't sure about something, we were able to hold it up to Nick and get a better picture in our minds. After a deliberation process and selecting the final fabrics, it was time to get to the fun stuff- the details.

Now, beyond picking the fabric for custom suits, the cool part is that you pick every single detail. All in all, I would say that for each suit you select about 25-30 different details: the cut, how many buttons, the color of the stitching, the buttons, the monogram, the lining of the suit, the list goes on. For example, just in regards to the lapel you have three styles, two widths, and three button hole options to select from. It is a lot of different options to select, but at any point in the process whomever you are working with is able to guide you towards what will fit your style and the more traditional selections.

On the left, you can see all of the suits - right hand side is the inside of one jacket!
After we had made all of our selections for each suit jacket, pant, and shirt, we reviewed each of the selections made. Many other tailors in Bangkok would just take your selections and move on with the process- however, when custom designing suits, this is a mistake! When going through and double-checking, we found 2-3 things that we wanted to change. Whether we had made the wrong selection initially, or the wrong button had gotten pushed, you want to make sure that the custom suits you are designing are exactly what you want. After all, isn't it better to spend a few minutes double-checking and ensure you get what you want?

The attention to detail was like none other!
After all the selections were complete, we were finished for the day! The next step was to return late the following day. At that point in time, one shirt had been completed, and one suit (both jacket and pants) were ready for Nick to try on and see any adjustments that needed to be made. Again, many other tailors would not have you come back for this step in the process. However, by spending a few extra minutes trying things on, Tailor on Ten is able to ensure that every single item you order is exactly what you want and fits perfectly.

best tailors in Bangkok
Making sure everything fits perfectly
Even the slightest imperfection was corrected 
Besides the initial selection process and initial fitting, Nick returned once more to make fitting adjustments before the final day of our trip. At this point in time, every single item in our order was complete, so Nick was able to try every single item on. Any small detail that didn't seem quite right was noted and sent back for quick adjustments to ensure that the final suits and shirts fit perfectly. Some items simply fit differently due to different fabrics and materials being used, which is precisely why Tailor on Ten wants to see you try everything on to ensure you personally are happy.

best tailor in Bangkok 2016
Somebody's looking pretty happy with his results!
After the very final adjustments had been made, we returned to Tailor on Ten to pick up our entire order! The entire order was nicely packaged for us - shirts carefully folded, suits hung up - and the entire order presented in nice bags to take home. This step of the process, while potentially unnecessary - after all, we were just going to pack everything into a suitcase to sit for 36 hours - just goes to show how Tailor on Ten truly cares about every aspect of the process and wants to make a complete experience for every customer.

This is truly an experience that any businessperson should experience, and is something that is completely unique from every other tailor in Bangkok. When you go to Tailor on Ten, you know that you will be receiving friendly customer service, from people who actually care about your results. Finally, one last kicker about why Tailor on Ten is so fabulous - for any customer that they work with, they will log your measurements into their system, so that at any point in the future you can place an order with them! Their website is 100% user-friendly, and you are able to go through the entire customization process online. On top of this, you don't even have to have physically visited Tailor on Ten to order custom items - you can order online through their website! As a special perk, anyone that places an order (minimum amount $200) with Tailor on Ten between now and April 30, 2016 using the code "ANGELL" will receive free shipping on their first order!

All in all, we were incredibly happy with the entire process at Tailor on Ten. I'll be 100% honest - yes, you can find cheaper suits. However, you will absolutely not find the same quality, customer service, and level of care throughout every step of the process. If you've ever wanted a truly custom experience, look no further than Tailor on Ten. So - what about you? Have you ever purchased anything custom, let alone custom suits and shirts in Thailand? What was your experience like?

Having some fun before his first day at work!
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