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Megan Cheung, Author at Air Canada Vacations

23 Aug

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Meet Rodolfo – ACV Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara) Rep

August 23, 2016 | By |

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Planning a trip to Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara), Cuba? From travel tips to local recommendations, get the skinny from someone who knows it best.

1. Name
Rodolfo

2. How long have you been an ACV destination rep?
6 years

3. Describe Cayo Santa Maria in 3 words.
Secluded, charming, the perfect hideaway.

4. Why should people visit?
It has a nice temperature year round and it’s quiet. It offers an incredible colour of the ocean and there is fine sand all over the island for everyone to enjoy.

5. How is Cayo Santa Maria different from Varadero, Holguin, Cayo Coco, and Havana?
This is a quiet area, a little far from the city. However, there are two markets 15 minutes from every hotel and lots of interesting tours to discover the surrounding areas.

6. What is a surprising or little known fact?
I’ll give you both! Surprising fact: to get to Cayo Santa Maria, you cross a 48 KM causeway built in the ocean. Little known fact: there are fresh water lagoons as part of a national park to the eastern side of the island.

7. What local dish do you recommend and where is the best place to try it?
The Cuban congri  (rice and black beans cooked together with spices) is the most representative dish from Cuba along with the roasted pork and boiled manioc (yuca in Spanish). The best place is a casa on the main island; you can also try it during the jeep safari tour.

8. Where is your favourite spot to watch the sunset?
In the middle of the ocean on the Sunset Cruise.

9. Are you able to teach us a few local expressions?
¿Como estas?  = How are you?
¿Que bola? = What`s up?

10. In your opinion, what is a must-do in Cayo Santa Maria?
The catamaran excursion, which includes snorkelling in the world’s second largest coral reef and the best lobster lunch ever.

11. What is the best beach and why?
Megano beach at the Iberostar Ensenachos because of its horseshoe shape and because Cayo Santa Maria island shields it from the northern winds, so it looks like a natural pool.

Curious to know more about Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara), Cuba? Find out more on our website.

25 Jul

By

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.

05 Jul

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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.

18 Jan

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6 Fun Facts About Your Next Disney Cruise Line Vacation

January 18, 2016 | By |

With the winter blues creeping in, it’s time to experience something truly magical. We’re talking about a holiday on the high seas, a Disney Cruise Line vacation in fact.  With sailings to exotic destinations in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Alaska, and Europe, your whole family can delight in the comfort and service aboard a Disney cruise. Here are 6 fun facts to get you started:

1. Kids love Disney cruises and they’ll be entertained for hours.

kids activities

© & ™ Lucasfilm Ltd

In addition to special moments with Disney characters, kids can look forward to exciting clubs with Disney-themed activities and entertainment. There are also immersive, private clubs for tweens and teens, so there won’t be a single sullen teenager in sight! All included in the price of the cruise!

2. Parents enjoy Disney cruises because they can relax too.

While the kids are busy having fun in supervised clubs, grown-ups can let loose in exclusive adult areas. From a nighttime entertainment district to a fine dining restaurant, peace of mind is convenient and possible. And for those worried about missing a gym workout – don’t worry, there’s a state-of-the-art fitness centre, too.

3. A Disney cruise includes only the best entertainment.

musical

There’s never a dull moment, thanks to Broadway-style Disney musicals (found only on board) and first-run films (some in 3D!). We also love the themed deck parties and most voyages even have fireworks.

4. A Disney cruise features unique Rotational Dining: a mouth-watering experience with impeccable service.

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©Disney/Pixar

Throughout the cruise, guests rotate through 3 restaurants while accompanied by the same servers at each dinner. It’s a welcome, personal touch, and there’s never an up-charge for sumptuous menu items, like baked lobster tail and roasted rack of lamb.

5. A Disney cruise means convenience, comfort and legendary Disney service.

Guests are lodged in spacious staterooms (designed especially for families) where they can order 24-hour complimentary room service. And that’s not all – complimentary soda, coffee and tea are always available on the pool deck.

6. Most Bahamian and Caribbean sailings include a stop at a private island.

Castaway Cay is a Disney exclusive and a favourite among guests for its soft sand beaches and swaying palm trees.

If you’re ready to leave those winter blues behind, start planning your magical Disney Cruise Line vacation today!

As to Disney artwork, logos and properties: ©Disney Ships’ Registry: The Bahamas

26 Nov

By

7 Resorts for an Unforgettable New Year’s

November 26, 2015 | By |

Tired of the same-old, blasé New Year’s plans? We know the feeling – that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best places to ring in 2016. Exciting, luxurious, and boasting sand over snow, here are our top picks to kick-start your year.

1. Grand Bahia Principe Coba

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The Grand Bahia Principe Coba in Riviera Maya offers great value for the whole family. There’s a waterpark and shows for kids, a golf course and casino for adults, and a beautiful beach for all only a short distance away (and yes, transportation to the beach is included!). It’s also part of our PLAY collection, which means everyone gets an exclusive flight experience and kids stay and eat for free. If that’s not impressive, then try this: stay in exclusive rooms with prime locations, thanks to our Privileges program.

2. Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an

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Say hello to 2016 in style at the adults-only Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This resort exudes elegance with its minimalist, modern décor and supremely outfitted rooms. And what’s a romantic getaway without 24-hour room service, waiter service at the beach, or “After Golf” treatments at the on-site spa? We especially love the spa’s Vitamin Bar, where you can enjoy exotic natural fruit juices.

3. Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica

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The Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica is another excellent option for a family vacation. Situated right on the beach in Runaway Bay, there are 3 interconnected lake-style pools with 2 areas specially reserved for children. We’re also quite taken with the green spaces, tropical gardens and abundance of wildlife (keep your eyes peeled to spot long-tailed hummingbirds and green turtles). Bonus: Air Canada Vacations guests enjoy all the PLAY perks and access to an exclusive room section near the ocean.

4. Luxury Bahia Principe Runaway Bay

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The Luxury Bahia Principe Runaway Bay is an adults-only paradise and a definite contender for New Year’s. Since early this year, the resort has undergone extensive upgrades and by December 2015, there will be many new additions to experience firsthand. These include a new swimming pool, a swim-up bar, a lounge and “chill out” areas.

5. Meliá Jardines del Rey

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Treat your family to ultimate comfort at Meliá Jardines del Rey in Cayo Coco, Cuba. This 5-star beachfront resort has nightly entertainment, 3 swimming pools (don’t miss their pool parties with bubbles!) and designated activities and facilities for kids, including a playground and paddling pool.

6. Playa Costa Verde

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Another family favourite is Playa Costa Verde in Holguin, Cuba – and not just because it’s part of our PLAY program. Located directly on the beach, we particularly love the availability of snacks 24/7 (you never know when you’re going to get the munchies, right?), salsa dance classes, and introductory scuba lessons in the pool. Be sure to take advantage of the morning room service, which means continental breakfast delivered to your door!

7. Sol Pelicano

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The Sol Pelicano in Cayo Largo, Cuba, is a nature lover’s dream. Bring the whole family and check out their renowned turtle observation program, which includes egg-laying and the release of baby turtles. Combined with ecological excursions, this resort has everything to make your next family vacation an adventure!

With the holidays around the corner, there’s no better time than now to start making plans for New Year’s. Get started today!

07 Oct

By

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.

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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.

 

11 Sep

By

Quiz: What vacation type are you?

September 11, 2015 | By |

When planning a beach holiday, there’s one more box to tick off besides destination, hotel and location: vacation type. Don’t know what that is? No worries, we’re here to explain and help you find yours. Take this short quiz and you’ll be one step closer to finding the palm tree- and piña colada-filled vacation that’s right for you.

When on vacation, what does your perfect day look like?

  1. I like to get an early start and go snorkeling as a family, followed by an afternoon of golf while the kids enjoy fun activities.
  2. Quiet and soothing – I want to be pampered from head to toe. First up, a hot steam bath to relax and then a heavenly massage by the sea.
  3. It doesn’t matter what time I wake up because I’ll be ordering room service. I’ll probably head to the pool at some point and order a mojito from my lounge chair. If only I could live like this everyday…
  4. I’ll play tennis in the morning, soak up the sun in the afternoon, and enjoy a private hot tub at sunset.

How do you feel about kids?

  1. Love ‘em, of course! Vacations are all about creating lifelong family memories.
  2. Kids are great, but this trip is really about recharging my batteries.
  3. As long as they’re happy, I’m happy. Bonus if I don’t have to lift a single finger. I won’t say no to some alone time with my honey either.
  4. No, thanks! I want a holiday geared towards 18+.

It’s been 7 nights in paradise, your bags are packed and it’s almost time to leave for the airport. How do you feel?

  1. Wonderful! The week went by quickly because I was having fun with my family and I can’t wait until the next adventure together.
  2. Content, recharged and ready to take on any challenges at home.
  3. Amazing – I slept in because I had a late checkout and managed to squeeze in one last massage while my bags were packed for me.
  4. Sentimental and romantic. The trip celebrated my relationship with my partner and our bond is stronger than ever.

Now that you’ve finished our quiz, tally up your answers to find out which vacation type best reflects your needs:

Answer 1  >>  1 point

Answer 2  >>  2 points

Answer 3  >>  3 points

Answer 4  >>  4 points

So, what is your idea of the perfect vacation?

3-5 points >> Family Vacation

Allegro Papagayo Resort Family Vacation

Allegro Papagayo Resort

The happiness of your family is a priority and a vacation without your kids is unimaginable. To ensure everyone has a great time, be sure to check out our Play hotels (family-friendly resorts where kids stay and eat free) such as the Allegro Papagayo in Liberia, Costa Rica. Surrounded by beaches, rainforests and active volcanoes, this resort is the epicenter of adventure. From kayaking to nature excursions, there’s plenty to keep the kids active and entertained.

If you prefer to head to a Caribbean island, we recommend the Be Live Collection Marien in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. With a supervised kids club, take some time for yourself and head to the spa or play a round at the nearby Playa Dorada golf course.

No matter which hotel you choose, keep in mind that our Play hotels also come with exclusive flight perks: pre-boarding privileges, free seat selection and a $10 meal voucher for every family member. Your family vacation truly starts at the airport.

6-8 points >> Spa Vacation

Melia Resorts Cuba Spa Vacation

Melia Resorts Cuba

Where are the best indulgences found? Only at our collection of Spa hotels, of course.

Our top pick is the Melia Buenavista All-Inclusive Royal Service & Spa in Santa Clara, Cuba. Designed with total privacy in mind, this adults-only resort is an oasis for rejuvenation. Choose from a range of body treatments and massages at its full-service spa and we promise you’ll leave feeling invigorated.

If you want to spoil yourself and you’re travelling with children, we suggest the neighbouring Melia Las Dunas. This popular hotel provides the perfect balance as it’s tailored for families seeking activity and adults looking to relax. The supervised kids clubs arrange activities according to age, which gives you the chance to retreat to Spa Aguas Claras for a Japanese Shiatsu massage. The kids will be so busy, you’ll even have time for that much-needed pedicure.

9-11 points >> Luxury Vacation

IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso Luxury Vacation

IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso

You want the royal treatment and nothing less. That’s what vacations means, after all. For an unforgettable luxurious holiday, you will definitely want to stay at IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso. Located directly on the beach in Playa Paraiso, in the heart of Riviera Maya, this adults-only, dream paradise has 5 shiny stars attached to its name – and for good reason. At check-in, enjoy a warm welcome with champagne and a minibar stocked with your favourites. By mid-afternoon, lounge poolside and accept a cold beverage from your butler. For dinner, choose between 2 buffets and 4 à la carte restaurants, or perhaps make use of the 24-hour room service. Come bedtime, select the right pillow for your tired head from the elite pillow menu. Rest now because tomorrow will be busy – there’s a Par 72, 18-hole golf course on site, a casino and spa in the massive Complex Shopping Centre, and numerous sports to try.

For similar vacation ideas, discover our complete list of Luxury hotels.

12 points >> Adults-Only Vacation

Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville Don Pablo Collection Adults Only

Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville Don Pablo Collection

You want serenity, intimate moments and above all, a kid-free holiday. Whether you’re celebrating a honeymoon, anniversary, or traveling just because, Adults-only hotels are right up your alley. The Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville Don Pablo Collection in La Romana, Dominican Republic, for instance, caters to couples and guests aged 18+. With no less than 8 bars on its premises, local area tours (a visit to Catalina Island is a must!) and nightly entertainment, this resort provides the ideal setting to unwind and let loose. For something different, try merengue, bachata and salsa classes. For something more sensual, try the spa’s aromatic relaxation treatment. Deep breath in and exhale, it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Curious about what other vacation types exist? Check out our complete list of vacation types to find your dream holiday.

 

27 Apr

By

Why Hong Kong Will Be Your Best Trip Yet

April 27, 2015 | By |

Ready for adventure? Look no further than Hong Kong. This former British colony hits all the right notes, you can’t go wrong. City life, nature, exotic foods and more – just pack your suitcase and get ready to explore. It might seem daunting, but there’s no need to fret. We’re here to tell you why HK will be your best trip yet.  

First things first, prepare to meet the perfect blend of East swirled with West. The possibilities are endless, your travel needs can be addressed.  Perhaps you’re seeking bustling streets, lined with skyscrapers, designer stores and fresh foreign treats. Or maybe you’d prefer to visit markets in the Mongkok district; shop for jade, goldfish, flowers and bargain electronics. Think oriental culture with a slice of New York. Next stop – dumplings à la cabbage, mushroom and pork!

Hong Kong streets

Photo by Megan Cheung

If you’re a foodie at heart, Hong Kong will be your new heaven. From dim sum to late-night noodles, enjoy yummy dishes 24/7. But those are just snacks, who are we kidding? Feast on a traditional 10-course meal and you’ll be grinning. Salty, savoury, sweet and spicy; there’s steamed fish, Peking duck, no shortage of variety. Of course, “mom and pop” restaurants are a necessity too. Head to Kowloon for a menu authentic and true.

Hong Kong food

Photo by Megan Cheung

Now let’s talk about some iconic landmarks that you can’t leave without seeing. The Big Buddha on Lantau Island, in our opinion, is worth seeking. Sitting 34 metres high at the top of a staircase, this bronze statue is regal with panoramic views from its base. Lush mountains, historic temples and a neighbouring monastery are just a few finds, so make it a day trip and get there by a scenic cable car ride.

Hong Kong buddha

Photo by Megan Cheung

Another must-do is a visit to The Peak. We suggest walking as it’s great for your physique. Take Old Peak Road and set your own pace; it can be leisurely and enjoyable, even locals frequent this place. If you’re short on time, then hop aboard the tram. The visuals are stunning and there are no traffic jams. But why, you ask, must you climb to the top? One answer: the view is spectacular, it never stops! Whether taking photos by day or dining by night, The Peak is something you need to experience by sight.

Hong Kong city view

For something different and a lot more quiet, discover Hong Kong’s hiking trails and its natural climate. The Dragon’s Back, for instance, is a moderate half-day hike; a common spot for outdoor enthusiasts to paraglide and fly kites. It’s not just our favourite though – TIME magazine recommends it, so don't wait – just go.

Hong Kong hiking

Photo by Megan Cheung

Feeling inspired to make Hong Kong your next trip? Be sure to check out our website for a wide selection of hotel options and more activity ideas.

 

17 Feb

By

4 Tips for Planning the Ultimate Group Vacation

February 17, 2015 | By |

Nothing beats a holiday with your friends and family. Affordable, easy to organize, and memorable – group travel can be all these things with a bit of smart planning. Don’t believe us? Check out these 4 expert tips for making your next group vacation a reality!

1. Involve everyone in the planning process

You’ve proposed an awesome group vacation to your best mates, now what? It’s time to make some important decisions and remember, everyone’s opinion counts. Obviously, you’ll need to agree on the travel dates and destination. A truly successful group trip, though, will balance the interests of each traveller. Start by asking everyone to describe their ideal getaway and note down common traits. If you’re all beach bums wanting to stay at a top-rated resort, great! If there are strong differences, try to reach a compromise. In the end, make decisions as a team and everyone will be a happy camper.

Group travel

2. Discuss a budget

Money can be a sensitive issue, but it’s important to know how much everyone is willing to spend upfront. This will help narrow down the hotel choices, dining options and possible trip activities. It will also help avoid any unexpected surprises later on. Case in point: you don’t want to suggest a spur-of-the-moment scuba diving trip only to find out that no one can afford it. Or worse, you don’t want to be the one who’s sneaking glances at their wallet. Set a budget and minimize the awkwardness.

3. Take advantage of group deals

There are tons of benefits to travelling with your buds and we’re not just talking about taking poolside photos together. We’re talking about serious savings to be had. Do the research correctly and you’ll be able to score free flights, free rooms and free upgrades. Book by a certain date and you’ll find yourself rewarded with a discount. Just be sure to pay attention to what qualifies as a group. Usually, the magic number for perks to be applicable is 10 passengers, and this can include kids. We know what you’re thinking: “the more the merrier” has never rung so true.

4. Outline a trip itinerary

Once your group has chosen the must-dos and must-haves (Tip 1) within the set budget (Tip 2), it’s best to draft a potential itinerary. This especially helps if you foresee an action-packed trip or if you need to accommodate different interests. Keep in mind, you don’t have to spend every minute of every day together. Feel free to split into smaller groups or even venture off independently. You want to return home with wonderful memories, not the regret that you didn’t get to cycle along the coast because of poor planning.

Vacation activities

Need more help in planning your perfect group getaway? Don’t hesitate to contact our team of Group experts.

20 Jan

By

6 Caribbean Carnivals to Kick Off 2015

January 20, 2015 | By |

How do you transform a cold bleak winter into a bustling landscape of tropical delight? We recommend sashaying towards the pulsing Calypso beats and flamboyant dancers that await in these 6 Caribbean destinations. Primed for their best ever Carnival seasons, prepare to be rejuvenated by the grand street parties and passions of the everyday people. But hurry – the celebrations are heating up, so start practicing those savvy dance moves and check out these 6 Caribbean Carnivals before it’s too late.

Curaçao

Boasting one of the longest carnival seasons in the Caribbean, Curaçao knows how to keep the party going. The Dutch island officially jumpstarted its celebrations at the beginning of January and the good times will continue in the coming weeks. First up, local artists will compete during the five-day Tumba Festival (Jan. 26-30), an epic music battle where the winning Tumba (song) is crowned the 2015 Carnival anthem. February ushers in more fun and talent with a jam-packed parade schedule featuring extravagant costumes inspired by folklore, impressive floats and even specially trained horses. Be sure to catch the main daytime parade, “Gran Marcha,” on Feb. 15, and the night-time finale, “Marcha di Despedida,” on Feb. 17, the day before Lent. Locals ceremoniously mark the farewell by setting fire to a straw-filled King Momo, a traditional evil symbol that needs to be cleansed before the fasting period begins. Coupled with fireworks, this is one feast for the eyes that is not to be missed.

Dominican Republic

If you want the ultimate Carnival experience in the Dominican Republic, simply head to La Vega any Sunday this February. Centrally located between Puerto Plata in the north and Santo Domingo in the south, La Vega is a two-hour drive from either coast and home to the country’s most popular Carnival. See if you can spot the city’s famous characters, the “Diablos Cojuelos,” who flood the streets in bright costumes and elaborate devil masks. They may just catch you off guard with a playful whip of their "vejiga" (looks like a balloon) as you nibble on a frío frío (a snow cone).

Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe’s Carnival season started two weeks ago, but it’s full steam ahead until the last street party runs dry on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 18). While festivities can be found in every town, make your way to Pointe-à-Pitre and Basse-Terre for the biggest parades and celebrations. On the last day, expect the streets to be filled with black and white Carnival devils and be prepared for the crowd’s cries when King Carnival “Vaval” is cremated at night. Once he is laid to rest, let the late night dining and dancing begin!

Martinique

Up for a challenge? Test your endurance in Martinique this February when revelry takes over Fort de France. The island’s Carnival is five intense days (Feb. 14-18) of lively street parades, zouk music and indulging joviality. From cross-dressing brides to elected Carnival Queens, there is something new to discover every day.

Panama City

Photo by mashmuzik via Instagram

Photo by mashmuzik via Instagram

If you’re looking for a party that rivals the likes of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, then look no further than Panama City. Taking place from Feb. 14 and culminating in an extraordinary parade on Feb.17, Panama City’s Carnival celebration is one of the largest in the world. Catch all the action at the “Cinta Costera,” the waterfront boulevard next to the city’s busy Avenida Balboa, and you won’t miss a beat…or stay dry for very long. Sure, in true Latin American style, there are live salsa and reggae bands, but there is also at least one tradition unique to this Carnival: the “mojaderas.” By bucket, water balloon or fire hose, be prepared to get soaked in a Caribbean dance party.

St. Martin/St Maarten

One island, two different Carnival affairs. The northern French part, St. Martin, is the first to host the festivities (Jan. 30-Feb. 18) and you can count on glittery costumes, loud drums and dancing processions to take over the streets in Marigot. Sint Maarten, the Dutch southern side, then welcomes partygoers mid-April (April 16-May 4) for its own brand of merrymaking, complete with international concerts and a Carnival Village that offers a wide selection of tasty local treats (Johnny cakes, anyone?). Don’t miss the Grand Carnival Parade on April 30, also known as King’s Day in the Netherlands.

 

Ready to sway your hips and move your feet? Don’t miss a beat! Learn more about these Caribbean destinations now.