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Air Canada Vacations - Travel Blog

17 Nov


12 New Things to See and Do in Orlando

November 17, 2015 | By |

With a whole new lineup of exciting attractions, entertainment and dining, there’s no better time to visit Orlando.


In the heart of Orlando’s tourism corridor, International Drive has seen great additions recently with exciting new retail, dining and entertainment options.

1. The newest complex is I-Drive 360, which, along with stellar dining options, has opened a trio of new attractions: The Orlando Eye (pictured), is a 400-foot-tall observation wheel providing breathtaking views of Central Florida; Madame Tussauds, the world’s most famous celebrity wax attraction, and SEA LIFE Orlando, delivering new underwater adventures. Restaurants such as the Yard House and Tin Roof: A Live Music Joint add to the experience.

orlando 1

2. Several new restaurants have opened on I-Drive including Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Lafayette’s Restaurant & Bar, known for its Southern cuisine and Itta Bena, fine dining and piano club.

3.  Orlando welcomes one of South Beach’s hottest dining and dance clubs with the addition of Mangos Tropical Café. With 55,000 square feet of entertainment space, this Orlando location will offer high-energy entertainment for a wide variety of tastes.

4. Nearby International Drive, The Florida Mall takes colouring to a new level with the opening of Crayola Experience (pictured). The 70,000-square-foot attraction will offer 25 hands-on activities for kids of all ages.

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5. “Restaurant Row”, on Sand Lake Road off International Drive, has an array of hot spots like Rocco’s Tacos Tequila Bar and Eddie V’s, and has just added The Whiskey, welcoming lovers of gourmet burgers, craft cocktails and rock ‘n roll fun and more than 100 brands of whiskey for the thirsty connoisseur.


6. Walt Disney World Resort is about to completely transform Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, doubling the number of entertainment, shops and dining options, including The BOATHOUSE (pictured) STK Orlando, and Morimoto Asia by celebrity Chef Morimoto.

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7. LEGOLAND Florida Resort will open a new land called Heartlake City this summer. The expansion will include a horse-themed disc coaster called Mia’s Riding Adventure, an interactive show titled ‘Friends to the Rescue’ and new shops inside the Heartlake Mall.

8.  Universal Orlando Resort announced a new groundbreaking attraction opening in summer 2016 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will honour one of the most monumental figures in movie history, King Kong. Guests can explore ancient temple structures while encountering hostile natives.

9. SeaWorld Orlando will unveil MAKO, a 200-foot-tall coaster (rendering below), which will complement an entirely new realm, reminiscent of a giant underwater shipwreck. With shark theming throughout, the new venue will provide plenty of heart-pounding excitement.

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10. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, opened in November, 2014, delivers a stellar lineup of entertainment for its second season: Broadway productions, Orlando Ballet and an array of music performances.

11. Orlando City Soccer Club Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team made its debut in 2015 with global soccer icon, Kaká. The Orlando City Soccer Club will kick off their next season in March 2016.

12. Two new restaurants are slated to join downtown Orlando’s already stellar dining line up, including: Two Chefs Seafood featuring comfort food and seafood from former chefs of Emeril’s Orlando and The Palm Restaurant; and North Quarter Tavern, a chef-driven neighbourhood tavern by the team behind downtown Orlando’s power-lunch staple, Citrus Restaurant.

Ready to see and do these 12 new things? Start planning your Orlando vacation today!


28 Oct


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Rick knows best

October 28, 2015 | By | No Comments

Rick McCauley is the Senior Director of Sales & Marketing for Barceló Hotels & Resorts. He travels a lot. And one of his most-loved escapes is the Riviera Maya. He takes us on a tour of his favourite places, and some of his top family-friendly features at the newly renovated Barceló Maya Beach Resort.

What’s the most exciting change at the resort?

My favourites would have to be the new Pirate Island Waterpark, and the bowling alley. The Maya Mall has new shops and we’ve added two great new restaurants. We’ve invested $50 million, so there’s a lot to see.

The U-Spa for kids is a new concept? How does that work?

It’s another experience for you and your kids to share. For kids, we’ve created a special ice cream pedicure, and our signature Imma Diva Facials. It’s just a lot of fun.

What can kids look forward to at the new kids clubs?

We have lots of supervised kids activities, like arts and crafts, walks on the beach, sand castle building and sports. There’s also lots of time for kids to just relax and be themselves, have fun and make new friends.

How did you make your Club Premium more family-friendly?

We’ve made our Club Premium rooms bigger and they’re all very close to the pool and beach so it’s really easy for families to go back and forth.

What’s your favourite meal?

That’s hard to pick. We have an amazing Mexican restaurant called Mexico Lindo and for Japanese we have the wonderful new Tokyo restaurant. They're both so good.

One thing we all have to try?

Definitely the FlowRider surf simulator. It’s great and it’s pretty easy to get the hang of it. 

One thing we should all bring home with us?

A lot of fantastic memories.


28 Oct


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Our 6 favourite things in Riviera Maya

October 28, 2015 | By | No Comments

We love the Riviera Maya, and the all-inclusive Barceló Maya Beach Resort is right in the heart of it. It’s on an incredibly beautiful stretch of beach and has something for every member of your family. Off the resort, fill your days with the heritage of the Maya and Mexico’s unmatched natural beauty.

Stay at 1 and play at 4

Stay at the Barceló Maya Beach Resort and enjoy complete access to all the restaurants, bars, swimming pools and beach facilities of the Barceló Maya Beach, Barceló Maya Caribe, Barceló Maya Colonial, and Barceló Maya Tropical hotels. It’s like four resorts in one!

Club Premium

Treat your family to a vacation unlike any other with this resort-within-a-resort experience. Enjoy a room close to the beach, personal check-in and checkout in the exclusive Club Premium Lounge, priority reservations at à-la-carte restaurants, spa and shop discounts, complimentary internet in select areas, and lots more vacation extras that will have everyone asking to stay another week.

Dolphinaris at Barceló

Dolphinaris at Barceló offers four unique encounters with these incredible animals. Learn about them, get to know them and even kiss them – all in an enclosure that is certified by the European Association for Aquatic Mammals.

Xcaret Park

This unique adventure celebrates the natural beauty of the Riviera Maya and the unique legacy of the Maya themselves. Discover underground rivers, animal encounters with stingrays, sharks and more, spectacular live shows and great restaurants. It’s an eco-archaeological adventure to remember.

Pirates Island Waterpark

This is fun for the whole family with a kids pool play area, and slides for the adventure-seekers in your family. Be sure to try your hand at the amazing FlowRider surf simulator. It really is a blast.


One of the most famous Mayan sites, this once-thriving port offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Maya, from commerce to faith and family. Bring your swim gear for a dip after your tour. It’ll be one of the best moments of your trip.

U-Spa and U-kids Spa

Over 1,500 m2 dedicated to pampering body and mind. Inspired by the deep spirituality of the Maya, the U-Spa offers the finest treatments including aromatherapy, reflexology and deep tissue massage. And with the U-kids Spa even your little ones can join in.


28 Oct


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Barceló and the Riviera Maya

October 28, 2015 | By | No Comments

Welcome to the Riviera Maya and the newly renovated Barceló Maya Beach Resort. The Riviera Maya is one of our favourite vacation destinations. You’ll find great food, great fun and incredible historical heritage. Plus, the beaches are long and warm and perfect for building sand castles!

Our friends at Barceló Hotels & Resorts understand this. Their Barceló Maya Beach Resort is the family resort you’ve been looking for, with activities, games and dining for every age. This place is so good, you’ll never want to leave.


07 Oct


6 Reasons Why Los Cabos is Your Dream Winter Escape

October 7, 2015 | By |

With the temperatures dropping, this can only mean one thing: it’s time to pick your winter vacation destination. If you haven’t discovered Los Cabos already, or if you need a quick refresher of just how wonderful it is, read on. Here are 6 reasons why Los Cabos is your dream winter escape.

1) Los Cabos is endless summer.

Los Cabos beach

Want to know what an average 350 days of sunshine each year feels like? Experience it first-hand by spending a day, or several, at a Los Cabos beach. To kick your vacation into high gear, visit Medano Beach – a lively hotspot with plenty of beachfront bars, restaurants, watersports and local vendors. For a more quiet and secluded setting, pack a picnic lunch and head to Chileno Beach. It’s a 15-minute taxi drive from downtown, a popular hangout among locals, and a fantastic place for snorkeling.

2) Los Cabos is pageant-winning beautiful.

El Arco Land's End

We’ve always had a soft spot for natural beauties and let us tell you, Los Cabos is definitely a stunner. Located at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, where the desert meets the sea, the views are nothing short of spectacular. Besides gorgeous landscapes and aquamarine water, there’s the iconic El Arco at Land’s End. This giant arch rock formation is a sightseeing must in Cabo! Get there by water taxi, glass-bottom boat, or take a sunset cruise. Pro tip: bask in the sun at neighbouring Playa del Amor (Lover's Beach) like the nearby sea lions.

3) Los Cabos is hobby heaven.

golf course

From golf to sport fishing, to adrenaline-pumping water activities, there’s always something to do in Los Cabos. For veteran golfers or even beginners, there’s the challenge of championship courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, and Greg Norman. For avid anglers, there’s an abundance of black, blue, and striped marlin in the Sea of Cortez (nicknamed Marlin Alley); join an experienced crew and you’ll likely encounter dorado, snapper, tuna, whales, dolphins and more.

4) Los Cabos is art treasure galore.

art Los Cabos

If you have an appreciation for art and craftsmanship, prepare to find truly unique pieces in Los Cabos. Visit a glass blowing factory and you’ll have a front row seat to watch the artisans work. From margarita glasses to hummingbird figurines, you probably won’t leave empty-handed. For a memorable evening, we recommend checking out the Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo. Happening every Thursday night from November to June, it’s a great way to meet local artists. Start in the music-filled main square and then stroll along the cobblestone side streets. There, you’ll find charming art galleries open late – and some even offer wine!

5) Los Cabos is family-friendly.

family Los Cabos

Travelling with kids? Los Cabos is your no-stress holiday destination. The trick is to stay at a resort that caters specifically to families, such as the Royal Solaris Los Cabos or the Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos. Both resorts offer supervised kids programs and as an extra perk, both belong to our PLAY collection of hotels. This means kids stay, play and eat for free, and everyone gets an exclusive flight experience; pre-boarding privileges, free seat selection and a $10 in-flight meal voucher.

6) Los Cabos is downright romantic.


Planning a special getaway for two? Los Cabos is the perfect backdrop. Not to mention it has a selection of spa resorts, where you can relax with a couple’s massage before dining by candlelight. Our top picks are the Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa and the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos; both resorts underwent extensive renovations and are newly re-opened. If you really want to heat things up, opt for the adults-only Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort. Bonus: All 3 resorts come with our Price Drop Guarantee – meaning you can get up to $800 cash back per couple if the price of your vacation package drops.

Want to know more about Los Cabos? Read more about Los Cabos and make your dream beach vacation a reality.


30 Sep


9 reasons you need to visit Cancun now

September 30, 2015 | By |

Cancun and the Riviera Maya is one of our most popular destinations. On the Caribbean side of Mexico, this area has great beaches, a unique Mayan heritage, lots of resorts to choose from and tons of activities. Here’s what we love most.

1) Xcaret Park

This eco-adventure park is a great day for everyone. Explore underground rivers. Share an encounter with a stingray. Take in a spectacular live show that celebrates Mayan heritage. And enjoy some traditional dishes at one of the great restaurants. This may just be the best day of your trip.

2) Tulum ruins


One of the 3 most important Mayan sites in the Mayan Riviera, Tulum was once a thriving port. A guided tour here gives you a unique glimpse into the daily lives of the Maya from commerce to faith and family. Be sure to bring your swim gear because you can go for a swim after your tour. It’s a really nice stretch of beach and the view of the ruins is impressive.

3) The sea turtles of Akumal Beach

If you’ve ever wanted to swim with sea turtles, this is your chance. This secluded bay is a popular feeding ground for a population of sea turtles and they don’t mind sharing. You can make your own way here or you can book a boat trip which includes snorkelling gear, snacks and drinks. The turtles are as beautiful as you’ve always hoped.

4) JOYÁ by Cirque du Soleil

Did you know Cirque du Soleil has built a permanent show tent right in the Riviera Maya? The show is called JOYÁ and it’s inspired by Mexico's history and heritage. It’s an experience that will engage your five senses as you follow the story of a naturalist and his granddaughter and their transformative journey to uncover the secrets of life.

5) Playa Del Carmen’s 5th Avenue


Playa Del Carmen is the heart and soul of the Riviera Maya and one of its biggest draws is the famous 5th Avenue. You’ll find lots of great shops with works from local artisans, and some great places to eat. At night, this pedestrian road really comes alive as patios fill and the air hums with the buzz of happy people and live music.

6) Cochinita pibil & sopa de lima

There is lots of really great food in Mexico. But two of the most famous Mayan dishes that any visitor to the Riviera Maya must try are cochinita pibil¾pork marinated in achiote, bitter orange and spices, wrapped in banana leaves and barbecued in a pit; and sopa de lima (lime soup) made of shredded, lime-marinated turkey or chicken and topped with sizzling tortilla strips. Delicious.

7) Golf

It may not be top-of-mind when you think about Cancun and the Riviera Maya, but these days you’ll discover dozens of excellent golf courses, laid out by world-renowned designers. So whether you're a novice or pro, you’re bound to find something to challenge yourself, plus many of these courses incorporate natural features so it’s a beautiful experience all around.

8) Cenote diving


The soft bedrock of the Yucatan peninsula erodes in the most spectacular way. Rain water seeps deep down and forms underground rivers, and in some places the surface layer has opened up giving access to this amazing network. The cenotes (these openings) were sacred places to the Maya, seen as doorways to the underworld. Dive in and go for a swim you won’t soon forget.

9) Temazcal

This is the Mayan version of the sweat lodge. It’s deeply spiritual and deeply relaxing. Your shaman will guide you through a ritual ceremony before taking you into the temazcal, which is hot and dark and filled with the scent of indigenous herbs. The experience is believed to relax and cleanse the nervous system, help to eliminate fat and toxins and stimulate the digestive and respiratory systems. If you’re curious, many resorts feature a temazcal as part of their spa programs.


Interested in these activities? Read more about Cancun and Riviera Maya, or see your Air Canada Vacations representation at your resort to book.


21 Sep


Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa

September 21, 2015 | By |

Two perfect worlds. One grand resort.

All-suite Mediterranean Oceanview Village

Winner of the coveted Six Star Diamond Award, this resort village combines all the grandeur and romance of a Mediterranean hideaway with the exotic charm of a Caribbean island.

Mediterranean 1 Bdrm. Butler Villa Suite with Private Pool Sanctuary

These are true one-storey villas in paradise. Each villa has an expansive private pool deck which leads to the plunge pool and whirlpool. These villas offer an escape to total romantic seclusion and include 24-hour room service as well as a personal butler.

Mediterranean Honeymoon Oceanview Club Level Suite

These spacious suites are the perfect sanctuary for newlyweds with panoramic views and stylish details. You’ll also enjoy the exclusive amenities and extra pampering of Club Sandals, including private check-in and a dedicated lounge.

Caribbean Beachfront Village

This truly is an authentic tropical oasis of secluded, private gardens and meandering seaside pathways. Enjoy gingerbread-trimmed cottages, cozy firepits and romantic hanging love baskets.

Caribbean Honeymoon Butler Rondoval with Private Pool Sanctuary

These gorgeous suites-in-the-round offer a unique romantic experience with private plunge pool (featured on the cover of this insert), mahogany bed, 24-hour room service and a personal butler. And all this just steps from Antigua’s best beach.

Caribbean Honeymoon Grande Luxe Poolside Walkout Room

Intimate moments abound in these stylish rooms. Dine al fresco on your poolside patio before taking a refreshing dip. Or snuggle in close in your four-poster king-sized bed. Then enjoy a relaxing soak with unique Red Lane® Spa bath products.


21 Sep


Antigua is an adventure island

September 21, 2015 | By |

Antigua’s 365 beaches, tropical rainforest, unique marine life and charming culture are the perfect backdrop for your Luxury Included® Vacation at Sandals, where fine dining and pampering are key.

Island Routes

Xtreme Circumnavigation

Get ready for an adventure right around Antigua. Your 45’ yacht sails past North Sound to Stingray City Marine Park for an unforgettable swim. After a buffet lunch at Green Island, cruise around Nelson’s Dockyard and snorkel at the Pillars of Hercules.

Island Routes

Antigua Rainforest Canopy Adventure

Twelve ziplines take the thrill seeker through the lush Antiguan rainforest at Fig Tree Drive. Enjoy an incredible view of the island before taking the “Stairway to Heaven” for a refreshing drink at the Canopy Café.

Gourmet Discovery Dining & Bars

From the authentic island dishes of Barefoot by the Sea and the fresh sushi of Soy, to the heart-warming Italian cuisine of Mario's, passions of the palate are served to absolute perfection at 11 restaurants for every mood. Plus, enjoy unlimited premium spirits at seven bars.

Red Lane® Spa

Reserve a massage on the beach or in the privacy of your room. Relax with a mud mask, unwind with a margarita and manicure at our spa, or do an entire beauty makeover. It's all about you.

*Spa services are additional.


21 Sep


I do, for you

September 21, 2015 | By |

Irose Gerald, Wedding Manager at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa has helped many couples tie the knot. She shares the ins and outs, tips and tricks of a destination wedding, and the real reason a wedding at Sandals is the best.

How early should I start planning my wedding?

From the moment the other person says yes! It’s fun to have something to look forward to and destination weddings are a lot easier to plan.

How easy is it to customize my ceremony and reception?

It’s very easy to customize everything. We have a wedding planning website that has themed packages with decorations, flowers and reception options. We also have pre-wedding planners who can help you.

Do most people write their own vows?

I’d say about 50%. Many couples stick to the traditional ceremony but have one or two moments that are special to them.

What do most people worry about, but shouldn’t?

Definitely the weather! We have many back up locations throughout the resort. But here in the Caribbean, rain is good luck. A sprinkle of blessings.

What’s the one thing people most often forget?

Music, especially a song for the first dance. But don’t worry, we have a lot of music on hand and reliable Internet service so you can get to your iTunes account.

Can you help organize activities for guests?

Of course. For today’s weddings, a big part of the experience is for friends and families to have fun. It’s their vacation too. Here in Antigua, we have adventurous activities like zip-lining and ATVs, or more low-key catamaran cruises.

Why is a Sandals wedding the best?

It’s unique, seamless and personal. We have the most picturesque locations, with everything included even your honeymoon, at the most romantic destinations throughout the Caribbean.


21 Sep


Discover the World’s Most Romantic Resort

September 21, 2015 | By |

Welcome to Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa set on Dickenson Bay, Antigua’s most famous and beautiful beach.

This graceful resort offers you two perfect worlds in one. The Caribbean Beachfront Village is a charming seaside garden oasis, while the all-suite Mediterranean Oceanview Village combines the best of a sophisticated, chic European resort with a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere. Enjoy both, because here, everything is included, including Gourmet Discovery Dining at 11 restaurants, endless activities, and spectacular accommodations.

Air Canada Vacations loves Antigua and a Sandals vacation is the perfect way to experience this island of rainforests and quiet roads, long history and special moments, and enough sun and sand to fill every day of the year.