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Air Canada Vacations - Travel Blog

25 Jul

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Meet Miguel – ACV Varadero Rep

July 25, 2016 | By |

From travel tips to local recommendations, get the skinny from someone who knows Varadero best.

Miguel - Varadero rep

1. Name
Miguel

2. How long have you been an ACV destination rep?
Since December 2015

3. What do you love most about your job?
What I like most is the challenge to overcome any issue related to Customer Relations. The fact that one can learn something new every day from all kinds of different people and no single day, week, or month is the same, makes this job a very motivating one.

 4. How is Varadero different from Holguin, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, and Havana?
Varadero has more infrastructure than the other beach destinations in Cuba (Holguin, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco); we have 3 malls, many markets, a big number of night clubs, restaurants and bars, and a golf club. Havana is the top tourist destination in Cuba and it’s the ideal destination to experience city life, but not the beach. The beaches there are not comparable to the ones in Varadero. As Varadero is located only 140 km from Havana, it’s really the best choice for those who want to experience a little bit of everything: sun, beach, city and a local town’s real life.

 5. What is a surprising fact about Varadero?
Varadero is the closest destination to Havana, the capital city of Cuba; it takes only 2 hours by car or by bus. If one selects any other beach destination (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, or Holguin), the only way to have a round trip to Havana in 1 day would be by plane.

 6. Describe your perfect day in Varadero.
I would spend the day with my family, going first to the dolphin aquarium, followed by a swim in the ocean. Afterwards, we’d eat grilled fish and we’d end the day by taking jet ski rides.

 7. What local dish do you recommend and where is the best place to try it?
The best dish you can try in Varadero is lobster at Varadero 60.

 8. Where is your favorite spot to watch the sunset?
Any beach in Varadero is good for watching the sunset, but at Mansion Xanadu Terrace, it is unbelievable.

 9. Could you please teach us a few local expressions?

  • Una cerveza por favor. One beer please.
  • Cuanto cuesta ir hasta _________? How much is it to go to…?
  • Podria decirme donde se encuentra_________? Could you tell me where I can find…?

10. In your opinion, what is a must-do in Varadero?
Visitors should not miss the chance to enjoy a concert by Buena Vista Social Club. They perform once a week and it’s a unique opportunity to hear traditional Cuban music played by the absolute best.

 11. In your opinion, what is the best beach and why?
In my opinion, the best beach spot stretches from the Barcelo Solymar resort to the Sol Sirenas Coral hotel. The beach dune, here, is the biggest and the cleanest of all the peninsula. No rocks on the beach are seen in this area.

 12. Any tips for first-time travelers to Cuba?
Cuba is the safest destination in the Caribbean, but valuables still should not be taken outside unnecessarily. Don’t leave the hotel without bottled water, sun block and toilet paper. Do not rent scooters that are not covered by insurance and if possible, don’t rent a car if you don’t know the area since we have a shortage of signs and roads are not in the best condition.

25 Jul

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Nicole at the Spa

July 25, 2016 | By |

Nicole Simeone Volk manages all the IBEROSTAR spas in the Dominican Republic. She has devoted her life to creating the perfect spa experience and takes us into her world of healing hands and soothing spirits at Spa Sensations.

What is your personal spa philosophy?

I want to create a balance between body and mind for better wellbeing in everyday life.

What do you hope guests will take away from their experience?

An outstanding memory of their treatment at Spa Sensations which will help them to continue treatments at home and to come visit us again on their next vacation.

Are there signature treatments at each Grand Collection resort?

Every destination is different and although our Grand Collection brand is very consistent in quality and service, our guests do have local preferences. At IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraíso, the Mayan Sensation Massage includes the use of ancestral, ocarina music and volcanic stones. The Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee Sugar Scrub is the one to try at IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Rose Hall. And at IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Bávaro, the most popular is the Caribbean Ritual, a milk bath, body exfoliation, massage and honey mask.

Do you have a favourite treatment?

I love the Voyage to the East. It’s a deep massage inspired by ancient Indian principles for healing the body.

What’s the most appealing feature of the new Spa Sensations at IBEROSTAR Bávaro Complex?

The new pool area. I especially like to go from the Roman Bath at 28ºC to the Cold Well at 15ºC. It feels wonderful.

Do you have a recommendation for a first-time spa guest?

Try everything in one, the complete experience. The Spa Sensation Signature Massage offers a head massage, body massage and reflexology on the feet.

 

25 Jul

By

Star Resorts

July 25, 2016 | By |

From gourmet dining, personalized butler service and spectacular suites complete with pillow menu and free rounds of golf, everything here is created to spoil and pamper like never before.

IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Rose Hall
Montego Bay, Jamaica

This adults-only, 5-star, Jamaican paradise is all about never-ending service and endless luxuries. The Colonial-style architecture offers a stunning atmosphere designed for maximum comfort and pleasure.

  • AAA Four Diamond award-winning resort
  • Intimate boutique hotel flare
  • Just 20 minutes from Montego Bay airport
  • Many oceanview rooms thanks to the resort’s unique u-shaped design

IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Bávaro
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Located on the stunning Bávaro Beach just 30 minutes from the Punta Cana airport, you’ll find this exclusive resort filled with every pleasure imaginable.

  • World-class, two-storey, oceanfront spa
  • Sweeping, on-site golf course designed by P.B. Dye
  • Greco-Roman-inspired architecture for timeless grace and style
  • Access to all 3 IBEROSTAR sister properties and their amenities, located in the Bávaro Beach Complex

IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraíso
Riviera Maya, Mexico

No expense was spared in creating this all-inclusive, all-suites playground reserved exclusively for adults. Stunning architecture, three unique pools, and worlds of flavours await those fortunate enough to find themselves here.

  • AAA Four Diamond award-winning resort
  • 18-hole golf course on site designed by P.B. Dye
  • Elegant and engaging Neo-Renaissance-style architecture
  • Secluded villas ideally designed for honeymooners

25 Jul

By

The Grand Collection

July 25, 2016 | By |

IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts delivers an unsurpassed vacation experience with their exclusive Grand Collection.

Escape completely to a world of refined gourmet dining, exquisite suites, luxurious spa treatments and championship golf. Indulge in impeccable service surrounded by graceful architecture and luxurious state-of-the-art facilities.

It’s all waiting for you at these exceptional adults-only resorts on the best beaches in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. And with non-stop flights aboard Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge, your getaway starts the minute you’re onboard.

05 Jul

By

Meet Katerina – ACV Varadero Rep

July 5, 2016 | By |

Get the skinny on Varadero from someone who knows it best – our on-site destination rep, Katerina!

Katia (1) resized

1. Name
Katerina

2. How long have you been an ACV destination rep?
Since December 2014.

3. What does your role involve?
Be available to try and help the customer in whatever they might need. Give information briefings, provide assistance and offer tour info.

4. What do you love most about your job?
Meeting and helping different people every day.

5. Describe Varadero in 3 words.
Relax, safe and fun.

6. What is a surprising fact about Varadero?
16 km of white sand and amazing blue water.

7. What local dish do you recommend and where is the best place to try it?
Grilled lobster at Varadero ’60.

8. Where is your favourite spot to watch the sunset?
At the Varadero Golf Club.

9. What is a must-do?
The Crucero del Sol excursion – it’s a full day trip by catamaran with open bar, seafood for lunch, dolphin encounters, snorkelling, and a visit to the beautiful island Cayo Blanco.

10. Where is the best beach?
Downtown, by the Barcelo Solymar hotel and near the Aguas Azules resort. Those are places where you can find really white sand and large beach areas.

05 Jul

By

7 Family Adventures in Florida

July 5, 2016 | By |

Florida has some of the best beaches in North America and has long been a favourite winter destination for Canadians. But these days, there’s so much going on all year in the Sunshine State that the best answer to the question, “When should I go?” is quite simply: as often as you can. Enjoy theme parks, astronauts, surfing lessons and more.

1. Theme Parks

Orlando is the world capital for theme parks. Your family will love all the famous rides and attractions at Walt Disney World® Resort, SeaWorld Orlando®, Universal Orlando® Resort, and LEGOLAND Florida.

2. Bike Shark Valley in the Everglades

Did you know you can bike through the Everglades? There’s a 15-mile paved cycling path known as Shark Valley that winds through these vast wetlands to an observation tower and back. For a different take on The River of Grass, try an airboat tour. We’ve got lots of choices from Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

3. Swim with Manatees

Manatee

These gentle giants can grow as big as 12 feet long and weigh up to 3,500 pounds, but they’re still safe to swim with even for a young swimmer. Manatees love Florida’s Crystal River and gather there from November to March. You can book a convenient, family-friendly excursion from Orlando. 

4. Innertube the Ichetcuknee

InnerTubes

There’s nothing quite like lazing down a refreshing river and Ichetucknee Springs State Park in North Central Florida is one of the best. It’s safe, well organized and offers you a close-up view of some spectacular wildlife. We have 37 hotels in nearby Jacksonville so you’re bound to find something to fit your style and budget.

5. Learn to Ride the Atlantic Blue Crush

Did you know you can learn to surf in Florida? Head to Fort Pierce, about an hour south of Cocoa Beach, for dependable waves that are just the right size for beginners. There are quite a few surf schools as well as rental outlets. Catch the life-size wave and surfboard sculpture at Cocoa Beach Pier, a thrill without the spills.

6. Lunch with an Astronaut

Who didn’t want to be an astronaut when they were a kid? At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex you can actually have lunch with one of these heroes, like John Glenn, Jim Lovell, Story Musgrave, or Jon McBride. Enjoy a buffet lunch with 30 to 100 other visitors as you listen to one of these great space travellers. Ask questions, shake their hand, get an autograph and a picture. The Space Centre is on Florida’s central east coast, not far from Orlando or Cocoa Beach.

7. Theatre of the Sea in the Florida Keys

Paddleboard Icon

If sea creatures are on your must-see list, then Miami and the Florida Keys are your destinations. Theatre of the Sea in Islamorada lets you swim with rays, sea lions, and dolphins in a salt-water lagoon. The Miami Seaquarium has unforgettable dolphin encounters and helmet diving that lets you get up close to an amazing tropical reef exhibit.

Ready for a fun family adventure in Florida? Check out our website to start planning today.

17 Jun

By

6 Places You Have to Visit in the USA

June 17, 2016 | By |

The USA is full of surprises and wonders that should be on everybody’s bucket list. Family fun in Florida. Amazing adventures in Hawaii. And colourful charm in California. Here are 6 places you have to visit.

ORLANDO_Magic-Kingdom-Fireworks

1. Orlando

The Theme-Park-Capital-of-the-World will never disappoint with world-famous Walt Disney World® Resort, SeaWorld Orlando®, and Universal Orlando® Resort and tons of others choices. Discover great shopping and golf at more than 150 local courses. And be sure to check out the new dining and entertainment options on International Drive.

Where to stay

The Liki Tiki Resort by Diamond Resorts is a beautiful resort-style hotel with amenities for the whole family including a water park. Plus, you’re only minutes from Walt Disney World® Resort, SeaWorld Orlando®, and Universal Orlando® Resort.

At the International Palms Resort, you’re right in the heart of the theme park action of Orlando. Your family will love the free shuttle service to the parks, and great deals on dining.

HONOLULU_surf

2. Honolulu

The heart of Hawaii, the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu is bursting with island magic. Try surfing or snorkelling at Waikiki Beach. Hike Diamond Head Volcano. Or make some colourful friends at the Honolulu Zoo. Enjoy it all with a tropical breeze and the easygoing spirit of the islands of aloha.

Where to stay

The beachfront resort-style Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa has everything you need for a great vacation including restaurants, a spa, a pool and live entertainment. Plus, Waikiki Aquarium and iconic Diamond Head Volcano are close by.

The vast Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort boasts Waikiki’s best stretch of white-sand beach and 22 acres of lush tropical surroundings. Enjoy daily activities, great dining options and luxurious rooms.

MAUI_BluePools Waterfall

3. Maui

Maui is marvelous. No island can boast the incredible diversity of this beautiful place.

Scenic Hana Highway winds through the deep pools and soaring waterfalls of Oheo Gulch. Mt. Haleakala towers above. Snorkellers discover incredible colours and diners delight in a rich and delicious food culture. It’s one adventure after another.

Where to stay

The AAA Four Diamond Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa offers you 40 acres of tropical gardens just minutes from the famous Whalers Village shopping complex. Enjoy 7 restaurants and bars, a water slide and kids’ lagoon, snorkelling and kayaking.

The completely refurbished oceanfront Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa delivers a stylish vacation of modern luxury and conveniences including a new restaurant, Humble Kitchen, by world-renowned chef and Hawaii native Roy Yamaguchi.

Los Angeles

4. Los Angeles

The City of Angels can make any dream come true. From the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Rodeo Drive, to the cooling mountain air and rambling wine country, whatever you’re looking for you’ll find it. And if family comes first, you’ll find theme parks and activities for every age.

Where to stay

One of our most popular hotels in California, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach offers spectacular amenities and great restaurants including Watertable, one of the top 100 Best Restaurants in America. Plus, scenic Orange County is just minutes away.

The Holiday Inn Anaheim at the Park is a great, affordable choice if you’re going to Disneyland! Enjoy the hotel’s facilities or head a few minutes down the street to all the restaurants, shops and entertainment of the Downtown Disney® District.

MIAMI_BeachUmbrellas

5. Miami

Miami is alive with a vibrant art scene, great shopping and activities for everyone. Hit the beach for long lazy days in the year-round sunshine, or go cosmopolitan with gourmet dining and a jumping nightlife. Miami is golden.

Where to stay

In stylish South Beach, the Eden Roc Miami Beach is an upscale oceanfront hotel with a glamorous pool scene. You’re just a 10-minute drive from Lincoln Road’s world-famous shopping.

The ultrachic beachfront W South Beach is across the street from the sophisticated Bass Museum of Art. Discover the hotel restaurants, lively poolside grill, opulent lobby nightclub, and rooftop basketball and tennis courts.

San Francisco

6. San Francisco

The City by the Bay is as beautiful and inviting as you’ve always imagined. Lose yourself in the shops, art galleries, restaurants and theatres around Union Square. Cross the famous Golden Gate Bridge. And be sure to wander through the Victorian architecture of picture-perfect Alamo Square.

Where to stay

Centrally located near Union Square, the upscale Westin St. Francis is just a 10-minute walk from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Enjoy a sophisticated steakhouse, cozy cocktail bar, and a serene beauty and wellness spa.

The contemporary Parc 55 San Francisco – A Hilton Hotel is just a 2-minute walk from Westfield San Francisco Centre Mall and offers a hip Thai restaurant, a gym, and a business center with free WiFi.

Ready to book your vacation in the USA? Get started today.

15 Jun

By

All in for Grenada

June 15, 2016 | By |

Sandals® LaSource Grenada gives you more: more dining, more service, more style, and more fun. Everything you could ask for to make this a truly unforgettable Luxury Included® vacation.

Endless Pools

You’ll always find a refreshing place to relax with three freshwater swimming pools and two river pools. The ocean-side infinity pool blends seamlessly into the horizon, and the Pink Gin Pool boasts a living room in its centre. It’s the perfect place for a late night cocktail.

Butler Service

In top-tier room categories, your butler, trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers, will take care of everything like dinner reservations, excursions, even unpacking your bags. Throughout your stay, your butler is only a phone call away with your very own butler cell phone.

Rooms beyond Imagination

Discover accommodations designed to deliver the most awe-inspiring experience ever. Swim-up suites boast patios that open to an infinity-edge river pool, and Skypool Suites, top floor suites of the Italian Village, feature infinity-edge plunge pools that blend seamlessly with the distant horizon.

Unlimited Water Sports

Sandals are the only resorts in the Caribbean to include unlimited diving for certified divers. Explore Grenada’s spectacular dive sites that include well-preserved wrecks and colourful reef systems. Above the waves, enjoy unlimited kayaking, snorkelling, paddle boarding and more.

Health & Wellness

Sandals exclusive Red Lane® Spa* offers the finest in Caribbean-inspired treatments with nine treatment rooms, a beauty salon and a steam room. Looking for a little workout? You have access to a state-of-the-art, air-conditioned fitness centre, 24/7.

(*additional cost)

5-Star Global Gourmet™

Savor an epicurean adventure that takes you from the passionate palate of Rome and the sophistication of France, to the delectable bounty of the sea and the Caribbean’s first true steakhouse. The world is yours at 10 delicious restaurants – all included.

15 Jun

By

The Sandals of Tomorrow

June 15, 2016 | By |

Sandals® LaSource Grenada truly is the Sandals of Tomorrow, taking innovation beyond the realm of imagination to create a resort unlike anything you have ever seen. General Manager, Peter Fraser, takes us on a tour of this unique resort in the heart of Grenada’s exclusive Pink Gin Beach.

What are some of the unique innovations that set Sandals LaSource apart?

The resort has three distinct villages each housing a unique innovation. All three have Tranquility Soaking Tubs™ for two, the Italian Village is home to our Skypool Suites and the Pink Gin Village has a living room in the pool.

How does the choice of villages improve the vacation experience?

Each village has a unique ambience and great service. You can go from stylish and sophisticated to upbeat and vibrant in one vacation.

For you, what is the highlight of these innovations?

The stunning architecture allows for many niches of privacy. The resort never appears crowded and has a sense of exclusivity.

What’s your favourite dish at the steakhouse?

I love the Wagyu striploin. It’s a massaged beef, slightly grass fed but mostly corn fed which gives it a little sweetness. It is just the right size when you are discovering all the courses on the menu.

What’s the best scuba diving site in Grenada?

Monument Park. It has these beautiful underwater sculptures. The Flamingo site is also spectacular and has lots of seahorses and tropical fish.

For you, what is a must while visiting Grenada?

A visit to the Carenage with its quaint buildings and historic architecture makes for a nice walk around. From any point in St. George’s you can get a breathtaking view. And of course, a visit to the rainforest to see the Mona Monkeys at Grand Etang National Park.

15 Jun

By

Sandals LaSource Grenada

June 15, 2016 | By |

Welcome to a world that defies convention, where there are pools in the sky and living rooms in swimming pools. Sandals® LaSource Grenada is an exotic island paradise designed to deliver a vacation beyond the unexpected.

Discover impeccable accommodations, graceful service, elegant dining and so much more. Fill your days with explorations of Grenada’s amazing scuba diving sites, lush rainforest and irrepressible local charm.

It’s the best of everything coming together to create a whole new vacation experience.