Today, Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Sketchandtravel.com & Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest, Brett Wyatt, author of You Decide Travel Guide.
Good day Brett and thanks for participating in our interview.
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
I discovered that I was destined to be a traveler when I was 18 years old living in Del Rio Texas and I began to experience the wonders of Mexico. At 18 years old, I thought I knew everything so making new discoveries was quite a shock for me. Each new day was like a treasure hunt when I was on the road. Not that I would admit it to anyone, but there was a lot out there that I hadn't seen and every little bit I was exposed to made me just want more. Soon, I went to work as a roadie for a musician and lived in Eastern Europe for several months as she toured.
A few months in Japan sealed my fate that I would never be really good at punching a time clock. Over the last 16 or so years my constant need to fly somewhere several times during the year, made it difficult to hold down a real job as my employers had the ridiculous notion that I should be at work every day. I needed to find a way around that so I applied and got a job with an airline. I actually held this job down for several years enjoying the perks of free flying and the discounted accommodations that came along with it.
During these years I attended college and, after a distracted 12 years, earned my Master's Degree in History. For the last few years I have been writing the You Decide Travel Guide series of books that started with one book on Loreto in Baja Mexico and has grown into the 6 books currently offered. I have two terrific sons that are now old enough to start exploring with me and the greatest and most supportive wife in the world.
Could you tell our readers something about You Decide Travel Guide and what differentiates these travel books from others dealing with the same topic?
The biggest difference with our guides is that we are the only guidebooks focusing on many of the destinations we cover. Instead of a paragraph or a couple of pages in one of the other guidebook series that try to cover the entire world, we provide an entire book on each destination.
Additionally, we cover hotels ranging from ultra budget all the way up to deluxe. Most lodging options are given two full pages of coverage in each of the guides, which try to offer as much information about them as possible. This theme is carried throughout the books, whether the discussion is dining, activities or places to see. Our title is "You Decide" Travel Guide and I want the travelers using our guides to know that they are not being told what to do, but being given all the options so that they can make their perfect trip plans their own.
If you had to choose 10 of the most romantic venues in Mexico, which ones would you choose and why? Briefly describe each.
That is an awful lot of romance, but I will throw out some ideas. My definition of romance involves being alone with the one you love in amazing or intimate surroundings. These places include special hotel rooms, memorable restaurants and even remote sights that take some dedication as a couple to get to.
*** Romance in Puerto Vallarta is easy to find. Try booking the Rhythms of the Night tour that takes you and your significant other across beautiful Banderas Bay to Las Caletas beach where you will find torch lit walkways to romantic candlelit tables. The Banderas Bay crossing occurs at sunset, which is another fantastic reason to experience this lovely cruise. After you enjoy your romantic dinner at Las Caletas beach, you are entertained by a local dance show, before dancing your own way back to the pier on your return cruise to Puerto Vallarta.
*** Manzanillo has lovely beaches in beautiful private bays all up and down it's shoreline. If you are lucky enough to visit during certain times of year, you may have the opportunity to experience glowing sand. During a nighttime stroll along the beach, each step you take disturbs the sand causing a soft green glow reminiscent of a starry sky. In reality, these are simply bioluminescent dinoflagellates, and they are actually trying to protect themselves, but that description deflates what is really a very romantic stroll along the glowing sand beach, so let's stick with the first description.
*** The JW Marriot Hotel in Cancun was host to my bride and myself a couple of years ago. We cashed in about a zillion hotel points and leveraged my wife's platinum elite status with Marriott to make our way into a $400 a night suite for six nights. For a couple of young lovers from the hood back home this was like heaven.
The bathroom was as big as most hotel rooms and included a giant bathtub and a separate shower. The bedroom had an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea and had a bed that should make most hotel beds in Mexico seem like stone. There was another room just as large as the bedroom with another balcony and if that wasn't enough we had a guest bathroom just off the foyer. This was the first time I was able to be the big shot and take my bride who has supported me through thick and thin to a place I felt she deserved. Holding her on our balcony as the sun set was definitely in the top few of our most romantic memories.
*** Another place to mention in Cancun is for those whose idea of romance is peaceful together time, and that place would be Secrets Capri Resort and Spa, just south of Cancun. Turn on the romance with the crystalline aqua Caribbean waters, the soft elegant white sand beaches, and, of course, the couples-only resort itself. Hide in the lush gardens, relax by the shimmering pool, or play at any of the many eco-friendly activities provided by the resort. Secrets Capri Resort and Spa is all-inclusive thus taking any extra thought and planning out of your vacation experience.
*** Canipole Restaurant in Loreto. In the shadow of the old mission building, this lovely and secluded hideaway boasts elegant surroundings and food that is handmade from scratch with pride by the owner, Sophia. To eat here, you cannot be in a hurry, as Sophia strives to make each person's meal perfect, and perfection cannot be rushed. Enjoying the quality time and surroundings makes the time spent here well worth it.
*** The One and Only Palmilla in Cabo: My pocketbook only allows for an escorted tour of the facility but wow. You expect Brad Pitt or George Clooney to walk around a corner at any time. It isn't the fact that a luxury suite cost about $2000 dollars a night that makes this place romantic, but what they do with all those $2000 dolllars that they collect. It is a haven that makes my high end trek to Cancun a couple years ago seem like a trip for a pauper. Sunsets holding each other close and hearing the surf just yards below you while in the total privacy of your patio and knowing that your every need is being catered to is quite a heady feeling. If you have the means then make sure you visit here at some point in your traveling future.
*** The Posada de las Flores in Punta Chivato Baja takes a bit of work to get to unless you have your own airplane. Honestly, besides losing yourself in your lovers arms and an occasional game of tennis or a swim in the Sea of Cortez, there is not a lot to do except just be alone with the one you love. Before it was practical for tourists to explore in Baja, celebrities including John Wayne made their way to Punta Chivato to enjoy the sun away from the rest of us. The great thing about this place is that it is now possible for the rest of us to get there and we, too, can escape from the rest of the world.
*** Ignacio Springs Yurts in San Ignacio, Baja: I don't know really what it is that makes me like this place so much. These lakeside, yes I said lakeside, Yurts are very deluxe and transport you even further from home than just the 550 miles south of San Diego that you traveled to get there. They have breakfasts that past guests rave about. It is so isolated and quiet that you can truly leave your worries back at home and just enjoy a retreat as a couple. There is a small town up the road that has a historical mission, and this is the launching point for many of the tours that take people to see the grey whales each year.
*** The Misol Ha waterfalls in Chiapas. If you are dedicated and have an equally dedicated partner, then this is an adventure that you should take at some point. Being remote to the point of being beyond everything is quite a feeling, and if you don't have to drag your lover to these falls then the bonding that will result should guarantee a positive outcome for you.
*** Finally, if you are in Huatulco make sure to try out the horseback riding. It is definitely a step up from most towns where you can simply ride up and down the beach. Here you can ride through the jungle and make your way down the Rio Copalita which is a favorite of white water rafters. The setting makes you feel like you are one of the explorers from past centuries. Storm activity over the last few years has greatly expanded the beach where this river meets the ocean so there is plenty of room to ride and explore near these lovely waters.
What are your most 5 most favorite destinations in Mexico and why?
Mexico is so varied and there are so many options that this question is tough. I will let you know about 5 of my favorites, but know that there are dozens more.
***Loreto: This town is really my first love in Mexico. I made my way there by bus many years ago and returned several times as I put together the first You Decide Travel Guide. Through hard work, and being social beyond my comfort zone I was able to establish friendships with the locals that last to this day.
With daily service from LA or San Diego, Loreto is terrific for those people who want to visit a quieter Mexico. You will not find the time share guys walking up the street asking you if you are on your honeymoon and want a free jeep and breakfast. The pace is slow and the scenery and opportunities to explore nearly unlimited.
It isn't really a choice for the spring break crowd, so if this sounds good you should definately do some research on this great Baja town that is on the eastern side of the peninsula about a third of the way up from Cabo.
*** The Copper Canyon: Imagine a canyon that is deeper than the Grand Canyon and takes up a good portion of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The railroad that passes through this famous canyon travel over 400 miles and allows people to see scenery that will stay with you for a lifetime. High bridges, tunnels, native villages and even forest of pine trees make this trip one that you absolutely must bring a camera on.
On this trip you will see things that you never imagined finding in Mexico. There are many nearby activities include river rafting, fishing, hiking and mountain biking just to name a few. For as remote as it sounds it really isn't that hard to make your way to. You can fly into Los Mochis in about an hour from several southwest US cities. This is an adventure trip and after you tire, there are many amazing hotels.
*** San Felipe: Just a road trip away from Southern California or Arizona, this town is on the Sea of Cortez near its northwestern shore. Known for wild spring breaks, as part of the famous Baja off road races and for its fishing it is a great place to visit. Whenever I visit it reminds me of the road trips my family took through the western United States when I was young. Most of the hotels are not 5 star or even 4 but the town has a charming character.
For a small beach side town, the over 60 restaurants will keep you fed for as long as your adventure lasts. There are a few attractions of interest, but most people just come to enjoy some beach time or to find a retirement home south of the border. It is close, but feels like a world away when you arrive.
*** Los Cabos: For the traditionalists out there that say Los Cabos is too American, that is exactly why I recommend it. Some people take a trip to "real Mexico" and find out that it isn't all it's cracked up to be.
They return home and tell everyone that Mexico is a horrible place and that they should never go. Los Cabos is different in that you can be at the marina, that could for all practical purposes be in San Diego, one moment and then just walk up the street and you are in traditional Mexico. Los Cabos is actually two cities at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, but they are a great place to take a first timer to Mexico or someone a bit more high maintenance.
They can take in as much Mexico as they can handle and then settle back into 'San Diego mode' to keep the peace in their mind. Many people who try this approach and enjoy the portions that are more Mexican will be emboldened for a more authentic trip sometime in the futue.
***Cancun: If my recommendation of Cabo didn't already alienate you enough to find something else to read, I am also suggesting that you visit Cancun. I really enjoy Cancun not only because of the awesome white sand beaches and striking Caribbean blue waters, but also because it was the first place I was able to take my wife on a truly magnificent vacation.
We really didn't seek out much of historical interest in the town itself, but day trips to the pyramids and the jungle were easy to find. Really what I liked about Cancun did not have anything to do with it being in Mexico, it was that I was able to shake off our middle class roots for a few days and live like we never did back home.Whether your fantasy is to be rich for a week or a jungle adventurer for a day, this is a great place to escape for a vacation.
Can you explain some of your research techniques, and how you found sources for your books?
My research technique has primarily taken the form of long days hiking in Mexican towns going to every restaurant, hotel and intriguing road stop. Pounding the pavement harder than anyone else and not giving up until I have found what I came to learn is how I figure we can do best by our readers. As for the sources, having wanted to be looked at as an original, I have always tried to go right to the source whether that be for pricing or details on the cave painting tours in rural Baja, or the hot springs that can only be visited during low tide.
When I find myself in a position of needing a source that I can't find myself, such as for weather, I look as much as possible to official government sources or, for example, in the case of history I look at several scholarly works on the subject and cull out what I think the real story is. Ninety nine percent of the guides, though, come from a template that I have created and whenever I start a new book I make my way to that town and fill in the blanks until a book emerges.
What is the biggest reward of life as a travel writer?
My biggest reward is not having to punch a time clock and spending more time with my family. Also, who can forget the opportunity to travel and share my experiences doing so?
In the last year or so have you seen any changes in the way publishers publish and/or distribute books? Are there any emerging trends developing?
Having never been published by a traditional publishing house, I have limited experience in that arena, but I can say that having received my share of negative answers to query letters there is hope for writers who want to have a book in print.
In the past you could spend money to have a vanity press print your book, then you can try to sell them to all of your friends and finally your children would inherit 10 cases of them after your passing. For me at least, this approach didn't seem to fit well with my personality. Of course I want to leave a legacy, but honestly my wife would prefer if we could pay our bills right now.
People who tackle the job of writing a book can see it for sale on Amazon.com or other book outlets by going through many of new Print on Demand providers. While most of these people will not sell more than those who took the vanity press route this is the first time that "regular people' could actually write a book and have it available to the world.
Myself, I took the power away from the guy who says "no" at the traditional publishing house. Nobody will promote your book and spend the time and money necessary to make it as successful as you would like, except for you. I have no secret belief that I am the next Stephen King, but I do know that I can make a resource for people that will be a consistent steady seller. If you have enough of those you can pay those bills and keep a happy home.
As a follow up, will you be using the Internet to promote your books? If so, how?
I have my web guy, Leon, working constantly to build our web presence. I have a note pad next to my bed and it isn't uncommon for me to wake up in the wee hours of the night and write down some new domain name that I want to buy. Filling up those sites with content is a full time job, but the returns have far outweighed the costs. Building relationships with other companies on the web in the form of exchanging links or cross promoting products has also been a successful strategy for us.
The spring of 2007 will also see the launch of our series of informative websites featuring travel information on Baja. The flagship site will be ExperienceBaja. com.
What is next for Brett Wyatt?
Short term plan is to become the go-to guy for Mexican Travel. Being a one man show for so long and spending all of my time writing has kept me rather isolated. Lately, people have started to take notice of the books and I am very excited to see the new opportunities that it will create. Starting on the mainland of Mexico this Spring,
I am planning on eventually covering at least another 12 destinations in Mexico along with accompanying travel videos. When I am not pounding the back streets of Mexico, I plan on spending as much time with my wife and two sons as possible. Being a husband and a father is an adventure that provides me inspiration, perspiration and an occasional dose of exasperation, each one of these being an adventure to treasure.
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
I love hearing from people traveling to Mexico. Some have questions about a specific destination or want my opinion on a south of the border political happening or rumor that they have heard. Honestly, I am not in the business of planning peoples trips for them (at least not at this point), but I really do enjoy being able to help travelers as they embark on their adventures. If you do have a question or a thought for me, please let me know and I will try my hardest to come up with a worthy response. If you have an idea for an upcoming book in the You Decide Travel Guide series, please let me know that as well.
Thanks once again and good luck with all of your books.
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