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Bryn Symonds, Author at Air Canada Vacations - Page 3 of 3

21 Sep

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5 Destinations You Have to Visit at Least Once

September 21, 2015 | By |

Whether you’ve travelled a little or a lot, these five places have got to be at the top of your list. They’re fun, lively, exciting and definite essentials for all world-travellers. And if you’ve been to them before, try them again. These places are always full of surprises.

1) London

London

Everyone loves to wander the banks of the River Thames, taking in the most famous landmarks like Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and more. For a great view of the whole city, try the London Eye; it’s a 30-minute ride that takes you up 400 feet. For something different, try a pre-show drink on Carnaby Street in the busy West End, a great street market in Portobello, or the spectacular Victorian Kew Gardens.

Where to stay: 

The President Hotel is a London classic with an attractive combination of location and style right on Russell Square. Enjoy easy access to The British Museum and a live jazz pianist every Friday and Saturday night.

The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is a beautiful, modern hotel within 10 minutes’ walk of London's key attractions, including Big Ben, the London Aquarium and the London Eye.

2) Paris

Paris

This city really is all about sidewalk cafés, good wine, and incredibly stylish people. The classic view from the Eiffel Tower is a definite must. The Louvre has an enormous collection of masterpieces, and when people tell you that it’s too big to do in one day, believe them. And be sure to visit Versailles. Amazingly, when it was built it was a day away by horse-drawn coach. Now, it’s half an hour by train.

Whatever you choose to do in Paris, just remember this one rule. Make time to sit back and enjoy being Parisian, if only for a little while.

Where to stay:

The Quartier Latin Hotel is right in the heart of the city giving you easy access to the Pantheon, the Sorbonne, Luxembourg Garden and Notre Dame Cathedral. This is a great choice for the traveller on the go.

The Auteuil Tour Eiffel offers a stylishly modern experience in a fantastic location, close to the Eiffel Tower. You’re right in the middle of everything with easy access to river cruises and public transport. 

3) Hawaii

Waterfall at the Blue Pools. Hana, Maui

Colourful, unforgettable and full of adventure, the islands of Hawaii are a must if you’re looking for great beaches, culture and fun. Plan a few days on each island; inter-island flights are so easy.

The Big Island is famous for its Volcanoes National Park where you can walk across lava fields and see lava boil into the Pacific. There is no end to the watersports, dining, and events in Honolulu on the island of Oahu where famous Waikiki Beach definitely lives up to its reputation. Maui, known as the Valley Isle, is often called the most beautiful island. It has an abundance of natural experiences but also offers great bars, shops and galleries. It’s a fusion of Polynesian charm and a modern vacation. 

Where to stay:

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is one of the best hotels in Hawaii. This iconic landmark offers a true island experience with fireworks every Friday, a Starlight Luau, and the longest stretch of beach along a hotel in Waikiki.

The Hyatt Regency Maui & Spa is part of the expansive Ka’anapali Resort complex giving you an unbeatable island vacation. Enjoy restaurants, lounges, free-form pools and an easy walk to the Whaler’s Village for shopping and lots more.

4) New York

NYC

It’s amazing that so much life, so much history and so much fun can fit onto the island of Manhattan, but New York manages it somehow. From Central Park to Wall Street, from the MoMA to street artists, and from a pretzel on the street corner to Michelin-star gourmet, whatever your New York looks like, you’ll find it in spades. And now that Brooklyn is enjoying a spectacular renaissance with a new authentic artisans’ movement, the sky’s the limit. Just stroll across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge for the newest New York experience.

Where to stay:

The Row NYC, just one block from Times Square, gives you a truly New York experience. The unique design is inspired by the city’s famous neighbourhoods. Plus, take advantage of Times Square’s first indoor food market, City Kitchen.

The Night Hotel Theatre District offers a truly contemporary boutique experience. Each of the 73 rooms at the Night Hotel brings the best kind of fun back into travel with trend-conscious design. 

5) Orlando

Orlando_option2

The most famous theme parks on earth are all in Orlando, like Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando® Resort, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, SeaWorld® and Legoland® Florida. The choices are endless. For something a little more off beat, try Gatorland, or the famous Kennedy Space Centre, where you can actually see the launch pads and vehicles that have taken people into space.

Where to stay:

The Ramada Plaza Resort & Suites International Drive is perfect for a theme park vacation. Wet ‘n Wild is only two blocks away, and there’s free scheduled transportation to Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.

The Liki Tiki Village is great for families. Located in Kissimmee, a quick drive from Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, this Polynesian themed resort offers an extensive water play area and lots of other great family-friendly features.

14 Aug

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8 Things To Do in Cozumel

August 14, 2015 | By |

There’s a lot to do in Cozumel. You might be staying at an all-inclusive resort or stopping off on a cruise. Whichever it is, be sure that you get out and get to know this Mexican island. It’s a gem, with lovely beaches, bright marine life and some really fascinating Mayan heritage.

1) Scuba dive

Scuba dive

Cozumel is actually the northern tip of a reef system stretching up from Central America. There are 19 popular scuba diving sites and on a good day, visibility can be up to 200 feet. Palancar Reef, Santa Rosa Wall, and famous Chankannab Reef are just a few of the most colourful and vibrant. There are gentle currents running parallel to many reefs, which makes for a drift diver’s dream. For more experienced divers, there are dramatic swim-throughs teeming with life.

2) Cooking classes

Cooking classes

Who doesn’t love Mexican food? It’s some of the tastiest in the world. And what better souvenir than a recipe or two, and some tips and tricks from the pros? Two popular choices are Kondesa Culinary Workshop, where chefs Omar and Cesar take foodies through some of their favourite Mexican recipes. Chef Oscar’s Mexican Cooking Workshop is another popular choice. You’ll prepare a three-course Mexican dinner as well as learn creative plating techniques.

3) The Money Bar

This is just a great all-round beach bar. The service is friendly. The view amazing. During the day, you can snorkel and relax in the sun with a cold drink. And at night, the party gets going. The ceviche is outstanding, especially followed by a cold Bohemia.

4) Isla de Passion

Isla passion

Perfect for a day away from everything. You can escape à deux, or bring the family. A 45-minute catamaran ride takes you to this private island where you can spend the day in a hammock, a swinging bed, or floating in the surf. For the more energetic, there are watersports including a water trampoline.

5) Temazcal Mayan sweat lodge

A spa experience that’s out of this world. This ancient Mayan tradition is based on the healing powers of heat. Your ritual begins fireside where your shaman will start breathing exercises and a guided meditation. When ready, you’ll enter the traditional sweat lodge where a combination of heat and healing herbs purifies your body, mind and soul. This is what rejuvenation truly feels like.

6) Faro Celerain Eco Park

Faro

One of the most famous landmarks on Cozumel, the Faro Celerain (lighthouse) guards the southern tip of the island and a sizable nature preserve. You’ll see exotic birds, crocodiles, iguanas, and tropical fish, especially if you follow one of the expert guides through the natural wonders of mangroves, lagoons, reef systems and coastal dunes. You can even climb the lighthouse for some pretty great views of the island and the ocean.

7) El Mirador

A lesser-known destination on the island, this one is definitely worth the effort. Beautiful rock formations and amazing snorkelling are just the beginning. There are quiet coves to sunbathe, a bar with hammocks and driftwood chairs, as well as places to get ocean-side massages and some fun souvenirs. Rent a car and make a day of it.

8) San Gervasio Mayan Archaeological Site

San Gervasio was a religious centre for the Maya, dedicated to the goddess Ixchel ("She of the Rainbows"), deity of midwifery, fertility, medicine and weaving. Many Mayan women would perform a pilgrimage to Ixchel´s shrine at least once in their lives. One of the most interesting buildings is the Temple of Hands, which is covered inside with many red handprints. While the significance of this ritual is unknown, it’s fun to speculate as you walk through the ruins; they haven’t been restored so you really feel like you’re walking back in time.

 

Ready to discover Cozumel? Don't miss these fantastic deals!

24 Jul

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Cuba’s 7 Best Beaches

July 24, 2015 | By |

The island of Cuba has some 300 beaches spread across 600 km, so choosing the best is no mean feat. How white is the sand? How soft? How turquoise and clear is the water? And what are the options if you’re looking for something a little more energetic than napping in the sun? These are our 7 favourites, but Cuba averages 330 days of sunshine a year, so you have plenty of time to explore.

1) Varadero

Varadero beach

Probably the most famous beach of all, Varadero’s soft, white sand stretches an incredible 20 km. It’s well developed so you’ll find lots of activities, watersports, and all-inclusive resorts offering stress-free vacations. Off the beach you’ll find intriguing caves and a chain of offshore islands surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. You’re also only 140 km from Havana, which means you can easily spend a few days in the historic capital. The streets and fortifications of Old Havana are a World Heritage site and well worth a visit.

2) Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo

Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo beach

Ernest Hemingway was enchanted by the towering dunes of Playa Pilar in the gorgeous Jardines del Rey archipelago. In fact, this area was the inspiration for parts of his book Islands in the Stream. Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, tiny islands joined to the mainland by a causeway, have immaculate beaches with excellent diving, snorkelling and tons of watersports. Playa Pilar is well known as the most beautiful of them all for its perfect white sand, swaying palms and warm clear waters. There may not be much traditional Cuban culture here, but you will definitely enjoy the mojitos and piña coladas.

3) Playa Flamingo, Cayo Coco

Playa Flamingo, Cayo Coco beach

This undeveloped beach on Cayo Coco will feel like your own little secret of white sand, and turquoise water. Cayo Coco is Cuba’s fourth largest island and has nine beaches over 22 km. There’s rich, indigenous vegetation here and over 150 different species of bird, including the graceful flamingo, hence the name of the beach.

4) Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos

Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos

These protected crescents of soft, warm sand are located on the tiny islet of Cayo Ensenachos in La Cayería del Norte. The land here drops off very slowly allowing you to wade out to 90 m or more in crystal clear waters. As an added attraction, the sea is calm here all year round, so there are no worries about getting red flag days (no swimming). Both beaches are incredibly beautiful, but Playa Ensenachos is closer to the resorts, which is perfect if you’re in the mood for something a little more upbeat. Playa Megano is more removed and is the spot if you’re looking for relaxation.

5) Playa Periquillo, Cayo Santa Maria

Playa Periquillo, Cayo Santa Maria beach

Cayo Santa Maria is part of a vacation area of three islets (cayos): Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas (a.k.a Los Cayos de Villa Clara), all of which are part of the UNESCO-recognized Buenavista Biosphere Reserve. There is great diving and snorkelling here as well as bird watching, especially on the south coast of Santa Maria, which is dominated by salt marshes and mangroves. Playa Periquillo is a low-lying crescent of white sand and warm water. The shallow waters are great for bonefishing and long, sun-filled walks. Further out are coral reefs and a wreck perfect for diving.

6) Guardalavaca, HolguinGuardalavaca, Holguin beach

Holguin is Cuba’s most attractive resort area. The beaches of white sand and clear water stretch forever, occasionally interrupted by secluded coves and some elegant resorts. The town is quite charming and history buffs will enjoy some of the island’s best pre-Columbian archeological sites. As to the name of this area, it does mean “guard the cow,” a possible malapropism of guarda la barca, “guard the ship.” This area was once a frequent target of pirates. The name, then, would be a call to arms.

7) Playa Paraíso, Cayo Largo del SurPlaya Paraíso, Cayo Largo del Sur beach

Playa Paraíso is the most outstanding of all the beaches on this secluded islet. There are no permanent residents on Cayo Largo, which means it’s very quiet, calm and undisturbed. There’s a thriving coral reef, lots of wildlife including iguanas, and beaches for days. On Playa Paraíso (literally paradise beach) there’s a beachside restaurant and not much else, which is really what it’s all about.

Is one of these beaches calling your name? For more information or to start planning your Cuban getaway, check out our Cuba travel page.

28 May

By

10 Reasons You Need to Visit the Lesser Antilles

May 28, 2015 | By |

If you find Venezuela on a map, you’ll also find a string of tiny islands going north. These are the Lesser Antilles and they ring the outer edge of the Caribbean Sea. They are small and unique, and places most people have never visited. Here are 10 reasons you should go.

1) English Harbour in Antigua

English Harbour Antigua

Antigua was an important part of the British presence in the Caribbean. The old fortifications make for a change of pace from the beach (if you need one). Nelson’s Dockyard has been nicely restored and Shirley Heights is a good walk with a rewarding view over the bay.

2) Rendezvous Bay in Antigua

Rendezvous Bay is the definition of idyllic. It’s the kind of beautiful that should only exist in art or the imagination. It’s long and soft and virtually empty. You can only get there by boat or a 90-minute walk through the rainforest. But it is more than worth it.

3) Arikok National Wildlife Park in Aruba

Arikok National Wildlife Park

20% of Aruba is dedicated to this protected area. You can rent a car and drive its 11 km of roads, but the best way to experience it is on a guided tour with a park ranger. You’ll see divi-divi trees, cacti, aloe and any number of birds and reptiles. The Arikok National Park conservation fee is $11 per adult (children under 17 are free of charge). The tours are free; they only need to be booked at least one day in advance.

4) Screaming Eagle Restaurant in Aruba

Food is huge in Aruba, and, as you might expect, seafood is top of the menu. The Screaming Eagle near Eagle Beach has a French fusion vibe and serves creations like tuna tartar with fried soft shell crab, and wakame salad with spicy papaya mayonnaise. They also have a nicely stocked wine cellar and a bartender who knows what he’s doing. Check out their menu and make a reservation in advance.

5) Seafood Friday in Saint Lucia

For most of the week Sant Lucia’s Anse La Raye is a tiny and endearing fishing village that makes for a relaxing afternoon of browsing the few stores and chatting over cool drinks. But come Friday night, locals from all over the island follow the coast road to the weekly fish fry. Street vendors roll out and the music gets loud. It’s a lot of fun but a bit wild later in the night.

6) Hot Springs in Saint Lucia

Hot Springs in Saint Lucia

Around Soufriere [su • frer], there are two popular places for a hot dip. The Sulphur Springs are known as the world’s only drive-in volcano and for their naturally hot swimming pool. The other place is the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens & Mineral Baths. It’s a Napoleon-era estate, and the European-style baths and gardens are very tranquil and open to the public.

7) Bean to Bar in Grenada

One of the hottest trends in Grenada is chocolate. The rich volcanic soil produces a unique bean. The current food trend of organic, ethical and authentic has also touched the island, giving rise to Grenada Chocolate Co. and the bean to bar philosophy. You can tour their farm and check out their blog.

8) Diving in Grenada

Diving Grenada

All of the islands of the Lesser Antilles have great beaches, clear water and spectacular scuba diving. Grenada has more than 50 dive sites, with something for all levels of experience. They also have a number of shipwrecks and a unique underwater sculpture park, which make for great photos.

9) Willemstad in Curaçao

Willemstad, Curaçao

The primary European influence in Curaçao is not English or Spanish, it’s Dutch, and you’ll find this distinction everywhere you look. Willemstad, the capital, is a lively port and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s full of colourful European architecture, an intriguing patois, and Dutch/Caribbean food creations you’ve never seen before, like keshi yená (stuffed Gouda cheese), and funchi (delicious fried corn bread), all available at Marshe Bieuw, the old market downtown.

10) Klein Curaçao

Klein, Curaçao

Curaçao has some great beaches, like Boka St. Michiel in a small fishing village, or Blue Bay not far from Willemstad. But by far the best is Klein Curaçao. It’s a tiny island two hours by boat from Curaçao. A day trip here is all about soft sand, snorkelling, scuba diving and beach barbecues.

 

25 Sep

By

What not to miss while in Jamaica

September 25, 2013 | By |

What not to miss

Appleton Estate Rum Tour

St. Elizabeth (near Negril)

Tour the famous Appleton Estate and Rum Factory, in continuous operation since 1749 and still using many of the traditional techniques and processes. Tastings of this out-of-this-world rum are included.

Bob Marley Jeep Safari

Ocho Rios

Enjoy a scenic drive to the quaint village of Nine Mile. Tour Bob Marley’s childhood home, accompanied by a Rastafarian guide. See the mausoleum where he was laid to rest.

Dunn’s River Falls Cruise

Ocho Rios

Experience an unforgettable day of fun and sun aboard Cool Runnings, a 75-foot catamaran. Cruise to a crystal cove for swimming or snorkelling, then dock at the magnificent Dunn’s River Falls.

Jamaica Jazz & Blues

Montego Bay

For the last weekend of January, Jamaica is the place to be for lovers of world-class jazz and blues. This famous festival attracts thousands of guests to sunny Montego Bay with names like Michael Bolton, John Legend and Dionne Warwick.

Contact your Air Canada Vacations representative at destination for more information or to book an excursion.

Fun facts 

  • Ian Fleming, creator of the character James Bond 007, had a home in St. Mary, Jamaica, which he dubbed Goldeneye. 
  • Jamaica was the first tropical country to enter the Winter Olympics. 
  • Jamaica is home to the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt.

Fast facts

  • Language: English is the official language. Jamaican Patois is widely spoken. 
  • Electricity: 110-120 Volts (same as Canada) 
  • Currency: Jamaican dollar (JMD). The US dollar is also generally accepted. 
  • Famous landmark: Dunn’s River Falls, a beautiful and ?awe-inspiring waterfall near Ocho Rios. 
  • More destination facts about Montego Bay

25 Sep

By

The best of Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and Kingston

September 25, 2013 | By |

Brighter Jamaica

​People just like you have spent many happy days on the Seven Mile Beach of Negril. Others have trekked up famous Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. Still more have browsed the markets in Montego Bay before enjoying a well-earned Red Stripe on a cool patio.

This year, with the arrival of Air Canada rouge, live it up with Kingston’s great nightlife then head to tropical Port Antonio for a dip in the Blue Lagoon, or the beaches made famous by Tom Cruise and his 80s classic, Cocktail.

Daily flights, tons of resorts and the experience to get you out and loving Jamaica.

That’s Air Canada Vacations. That’s your brighter Jamaica.

Sign up for our newsletter to get all our latest deals to Jamaica and more!

  • Montego Bay: Non-stop flights from Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Winnipeg

  • Kingston: Non-stop flights from Toronto

  • Connect through Toronto from 65 cities across Canada every day, year-round.

25 Sep

By

Sean Paul’s Jamaica

September 25, 2013 | By |

Grammy-winning dancehall and reggae artist Sean Paul shares his favourites from his home island of Jamaica.

Read More

01 Nov

By

The perfect swing

November 1, 2010 | By |

Built on the beautiful island of Great Exuma, Bahamas, The Emerald Reef Golf Club, designed by the famous Greg Norman, is a stunning 18-hole, 7200-yard, par 72 course. Taking full advantage of the landscape, the front nine take you inland, into the native vegetation of a mangrove preserve. The back nine run along the coast, offering astounding ocean views and the sights and sounds of breaking waves. You couldn’t ask for a more amazing location.

Voted among the best courses in the Caribbean by Travel & Leisure Golf, this course is truly a golfer’s dream. “I worked hard to integrate what was there before into the way the fairways are now, so it’s a seamless flow,” says Norman, who has won 91 professional events around the world, including 20 U.S. PGA Tour titles. The result is quite simply a fantastic course with six signature holes. And with five tee boxes, golfers, from the most avid to the most inexperienced, will find a thrilling game.

Holes 11 through 16 are especially beautiful as they run along the turquoise waters of Emerald Bay. The 14th has one of the most spectacular tee shots in the Caribbean, surrounded on three sides by water. Number 12 was Greg Norman’s most difficult to design and a guest favourite. The trick to this one? Don’t be fooled by the amazing views. Aim middle to the right side of the fairway. The approach will require a well-struck ball. And for the dog-leg on the 16th, aim for the right centre of the fairway. A well-struck tee shot can set up a short iron approach to this well-bunkered green, making birdies a real possibility.

Experience this all for yourself while staying at the world’s first all-butler, oceanfront resort, Sandals Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas.