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Caribbean and Mexico Archives - Air Canada Vacations

28 Jan

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Honour Your Freedom

January 28, 2019 | By |

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN INDULGENCE

Luxury resorts in the Caribbean

Honour your heart, and your freedom.

Bringing their rare brand of grandeur to the Caribbean with an adults-only, all-inclusive escape that’s a cut above anything you’ve tried, the Palladium Group’s TRS Hotels offer you truly unforgettable luxury through high-tech, low-stress, boutique-chic comfort in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Here, Infinite Indulgence is trademarked. Literally. Whether you’re spoiling your body in a hydromassage tub, feeding your soul with high-end culinary delights at countless gourmet eateries, or resting your mind while lounging poolside at the Ibiza-style Helios beach club, you’re constantly invited to properly please yourself, without limits.

Is life a little easier here? Your sumptuous escape into deep self-gratification is supported by the freshest tech — your bracelet is your room key and 24-hour butler service, show reservations or outdoor adventures are a text away. Every other fulfillment is already close at hand.

A NEW GEM IN THE MEXICAN CARIBBEAN

Crisp architectural design carved into the heart of the Cancún-Tulum corridor girded by rare Mayan ruins, refreshing clearwater caves, lush forest canopies, nature parks teeming with wildlife and one of the largest coral reefs in the world, this getaway opens itself to anyone seeking extravagant escapist bliss.

A salt water infinity pool on the cusp of the Caribbean, personalized concierge service customizing all your needs beachside, a decadent pillow menu letting you bespoke your bedtime — no wanderer comes back from
TRS Yucatán unsatisfied.

Sensual submersion is always at hand with the seductive spectacle and flavours of the Chic Cabaret & Restaurant. It lives here too. Is it worth a peek? Trip Advisor has named it the top-rated dinner theatre in the Caribbean. So, um, yes.

ESCAPE INTO EL ESTADO DE QUINTANA ROO

For a more intimate version of paradise, Sandals Halcyon Beach in Castries promises a sanctuary-style getaway in an unbelievably gorgeous setting. Let your worries float away as you stroll on a long stretch of unspoiled beach. Discover the all-new Beachfront Honeymoon Butler Suites with private pool sanctuary, spacious deck and lavish accommodations, where your personal butler can ensure you have everything you need, and more. Get out on the water with unlimited water sports and daily scuba diving for certified divers. When hunger strikes, sample the excellent dining options at Sandals Halcyon Beach’s six restaurants, along with premium house wines and spirits to keep you well-fed and super relaxed from start to finish.

 INCOMPARABLY IDYLLIC

Silver-white sands peppered with swaying palms along no less than 50 clicks of carefree and reef-rich, turquoise-blue perfection make this Dominican destination about as idyllic as it gets on the Caribbean Sea.

High-end international cuisine served à la carte at gourmet greats like Kusko, La Bohème and Capricho will keep your taste buds buzzing while the rest of your body sinks into the kind of relaxation that stays with you long after you’ve left the wide, placid shores of dreamy Bávaro beach. Still, if the near-mythic ocean setting doesn’t do it, the Jacuzzis in every suite of the TRS Turquesa just might.

Remain mindful that a signature, Ibiza-inspired beach club complete with refined snacks and thirst-slaking refreshments always ensures your downtime includes living it up. Do decide to have a drink delivered poolside
by wait staff privy to your every taste and whim.

TRS Turquesa

Private pools

TRS Cap Cana

AUTHENTIC ESCAPISM, ELEVATED

Salty sea breezes off the coast of a southern and secluded stretch of Punta Cana’s breath-halting beachfront make this brand new boutique-sized sanctuary a must for sun-hungry lovers looking to disappear into real relaxation.

Deep-sea fishing come sun up, lolling midday naps in a hammock for two above the sand, dancing to live Dominican rhythms long after the moon has climbed up to join the Caribbean stars: whatever you need to feel right isn’t just strongly suggested, it’s practically mandatory at TRS Cap Cana. Every selfish desire can be met here. And for those wanting to welcome true well-being with a beachside couples massage, consider the skilled staff of the Zentropia Palladium Spa & Wellness — they’ll easily turn you into a calm pile of smiles. Article_1400x500_image3

14 Dec

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Saint Lucia Excursions with Island Routes

December 14, 2018 | By |

SOUFRIERE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

Sail, soak and swim. Sail to Soufriere, where you can take in the vibrant colours and lush surroundings at the Botanical Gardens. Soothe yourself with a soak in the mineral baths, then head out for a rainforest walk before lunch. On your return sail, stop for a dip in a secluded bay.

DUNE BUGGY & ZIPLINE COMBO

Adventure awaits! Drive a dune buggy and tour Saint Lucia’s east coast to the Treetop Adventure Park in the heart of the rainforest. Zip through and above the trees along 12 adrenaline-inducing lines. When you’ve had your fill, hop back into your buggy for your return ride.

PITON SUNSET CRUISE

Kick back aboard a catamaran cruise. Enjoy cool cocktails and snacks as you journey to the majestic Piton mountains. Pause at Jalousie Beach for swimming and snorkelling below the volcanic peaks, then continue your cruise amidst incredible sunset hues and better views than you can even imagine.

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14 Dec

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Sweet Escape: Sandals Saint Lucia

December 14, 2018 | By |

Ultimate Comfort, Ultimate Vacation

Where better to truly soothe your soul than on Saint Lucia, and at a Sandals Resort at that? British,  French and Caribbean influences merge seamlessly; lush, green rainforest and the volcanic Pitons towering overhead give you that nestled-in feeling; and the warm breezes mingling with the clearest water keep you cool, refreshed and in the moment. Explore even more of the best of Saint Lucia with Sandals Resorts’ Stay at 1, Play at 3 program, giving you access to 27 restaurants, 23 bars, unlimited water sports and all the best nightly entertainment. Keep your golf game fresh at Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Club and Sandals St. Lucia Golf & Country Club at Cap Estate. And for more special extras, upgrade to Butler Level or Club Sandals.

Sandals Regency La Toc

The Emerald of the Caribbean

Escape to Castries, for beach, beach and more beach, plus three freshwater pools, coral bluffs and lush greenery over 220 acres of pure indulgence. Sandals Regency La Toc is home to the 2018 Five Star Award-winning La Toc Restaurant, and the resort’s nine world-class restaurants offer the best in international cuisine. Free green fees might just lure you to the on-site golf course. Sunset Ocean Bluff Village delivers the definition of seaside paradise, with butler service and mind-blowing views from your infinity pool. And if zero-entry plunge pools with waterfalls and whirlpools sound appealing (need we even ask?), the Millionaire Suites might just be the perfect choice.

Sandals Grande St. LucianGrand Views on Its Own Peninsula

When you daydream about Caribbean perfection, you’re basically imagining yourself here, at Sandals Grande St. Lucian in Gros Islet. The sheltered mile-long beach, the panoramic views and endless water sports…what more could you wish for? An over-the-water wedding chapel for the most romantic day of your life, perhaps? Twelve delicious restaurants serving the best food and drinks from around the world, or an award-winning spa? The Over-the-Water Bungalows, with glass floor panels, hammock and elite butler service for a more relaxing experience than you even knew was possible? You’ll find it all here, or you can hop over to other Sandals Resorts for even more of all the good stuff, transfers included!

Sandals Halcyon Beach

A True Garden of Eden by a Tranquil Sea

For a more intimate version of paradise, Sandals Halcyon Beach in Castries promises a sanctuary-style getaway in an unbelievably gorgeous setting. Let your worries float away as you stroll on a long stretch of unspoiled beach. Discover the all-new Beachfront Honeymoon Butler Suites with private pool sanctuary, spacious deck and lavish accommodations, where your personal butler can ensure you have everything you need, and more. Get out on the water with unlimited water sports and daily scuba diving for certified divers. When hunger strikes, sample the excellent dining options at Sandals Halcyon Beach’s six restaurants, along with premium house wines and spirits to keep you well-fed and super relaxed from start to finish.

10 Dec

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5 Things to Know Before Visiting Hotel Xcaret Mexico

December 10, 2018 | By |

Our favourite way to travel is by enjoying the natural surroundings and local culture, which we don’t often get to experience at resorts. Last month, we visited Hotel Xcaret Mexico with Air Canada Vacations and had an amazing taco-fuelled experience. It honestly changed the way we look at vacations as it has both of our favourite travel qualities and more. It immerses you in a world of adventure, Mexican culture, and all-inclusive fun!

Looking back, we wish someone had told us these tips before visiting, which is why we’re sharing them with you! The following are suggestions on things you can do, see, and eat around the hotel. This is what you need to know before you visit Hotel Xcaret Mexico.

Take Time to Explore the Property (Pick up a Map)

Bridge at Hotel Xcaret - Air Canada Vacations

The property is truly a park in itself with jungles, a winding river with coves and inlets, and tropical surprises around every corner. To maximize your time, it’s best to plan so you can cover the highlights during your stay. Our favourites included sunrise at the Catholic chapel, kayaking the river, discovering waterslides, and walking along the jungle paths.

chapel at hotel xcaret - air canada vacations

 

 

river shot - air canada vacaitons - Hotel XcaretFor an authentic beach experience, take the far-east suspension bridge from the chapel, over the lagoon, on your way to the beach hammocks. Unlike the other side of the beach, which can be rocky, this side is semi-private, quiet, and gorgeous!

Hote Xcaret Beach - Air Canada Vacations

Ask for a map once you arrive at the hotel, you’ll find it helpful to reference later during your trip. I found the map most useful for finding where each photo station was around the property.

The Magical Wristband

From the moment we got our wristbands, we knew we were going to love them! They allow you to take pictures of yourself at photo stations around the hotel and all parks. You can find each “Xelfie” photo station by using the hotel map.

You’ll get optimal camera angles without the hassle of carrying around bulky cameras or having to attempt your best photography skills. Simply tap your wristband on the photo circle, look towards the colourful “Xcaret Eye,” and say CHEESE! You can purchase the digital photo packages at the end of your visit for a reasonable price (starting at $58.99 for all photos of 2 people at both the hotel and 1 park).

Hotel Xcaret wristbands

Stop digging through your pockets and beach bag looking for your dreaded room key.  That won’t happen at Hotel Xcaret Mexico as your wristband serves multiple purposes, including being your room key.

It’s also waterproof and has an adjustable strap, which allows you to take it off when you need to. I appreciated this feature while I showered and slept, much more comfortable if you ask me!

All-Fun Inclusive®

What is All-Fun Inclusive®? Not only are your accommodations, drinks, and food included, but so are your excursions! Hotel Xcaret Mexico goes beyond the traditional all-inclusive resort and includes all 9 of their parks and tours in your stay. That means you could visit a different park a day for a week and still not have visited them all!

Xcaret park

This also includes your shuttles to and from all parks, with rides leaving every 20 minutes from the hotel lobby. Walk a few hundred metres east from the lobby and keep your eye out for the big pink Xcaret bus.

Hotel Xcaret bus tour

Xcaret Park

We visited the emblematic Xcaret Park which has over 50 different attractions to choose from. It’s a park that renews the spirit of Mexican culture and folklore through food, exhibitions, and celebration.

Grab an Xcaret passport to keep track of where you’ve visited and try to explore them all! There are 37 different “Xelfie” stations here and we hardly got through them during our visit. Remember to use the coloured lines on the pavement to guide you through each area.

Hotel Xcaret park

Xenses Park

Prepare to have your senses come alive as the Xenses Park is filled with optical illusions and fantastic Instagram opportunities.  This is the only half-day park available and you can’t miss it!

Xenses pinwheel

Thoughtfully designed, you immediately enter into the pinwheel room that’s a sensory celebration of rainbow colours. There are two circuits of activity from here and over 50 mind-blowing attractions, games, and sensory scenarios to cover. Our favourites included the town where you didn’t know up from down, and the Xitric garden where you could drink lemonade directly from a tree!

Everything’s Included

Hotel Xcaret Mexico is a one-stop shop for a complete vacation experience. When you book with Air Canada Vacations, it includes your flight, hotel accommodation, all transfers and 1 free checked bag per person. Your package even includes your meals at each park, plus a beer at Xcaret Park, and both tequila and beer at Xoximilco Park.

The All-Fun Inclusive® perks don’t end at the parks, as you’ll also enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service, tennis, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkelling, and access to the kids & family club during your stay.

The Food at Hotel Xcaret Mexico

There are ten restaurants, eight bars, and a room service menu that we didn’t even scratch the surface of. We’ve become passionate lovers of local foods since visiting Mexico several times over the past few years. So it’s no surprise that we loved the authentic flavours of the Mexican buffet, Mercado de la Merced. Most mornings, you’d find us here filling our plates with salsa verde, succulent chicken and beef tacos, and sipping on rich Mexican coffee.

For lunch, we loved the carefree vibe of Las Playas, near the main pool and directly in front of the lagoon. There are beautiful swings to sip your cocktail on and tables in the sand so you can sink your toes in and truly relax. Each dish we enjoyed here was an elevated version of a classic and we enjoyed it so much that we came back every day to try something new on the menu.

Food at hotel xcaret

 

The only problem we had during our stay was trying to choose what to eat for dinner. Our most noteworthy meals were the Teppanyaki table at Xin-Gao, the dinner and show in the theatre, and a special dinner at Ha’ restaurant.

Food Tips

Shadi was elated to discover the taco stand that was set-up in front of the main buffet each evening. You’d often see a line-up in front of this famous cart, which also included fresh cilantro and lime. There are no frills here, just authentic, generous flavours. We had a second dinner at this stand on the regular, they were addictive!

Another great find was the fruit stand that’s set up in the archway in front of the main pool. With so many fresh options at my convenience, I made it my goal to try a new fruit here each day.

Hotel Xcaret fruit stand

We walked by Cantina Los Faroles a few times but never had the chance to try their menu. We did, however, return after 11 p.m. to enjoy the nightlife and lantern light show around the bar.

Hotel-Xcaret-Resort-lanterns

Needless to say, we think you should add these restaurants to your culinary bucket list at Hotel Xcaret Mexico.

Sustainability & Mexican Culture

Everything at Hotel Xcaret Mexico is made with sustainability and the preservation of Mexican culture in mind. All elements of the resort are acquired through fair trade and are locally sourced. Many of the items around the hotel are also handmade, such as the handcrafted pillows, tiles, and hammocks.

The Rooms at Hotel Xcaret Mexico

As sustainability is a focus of the hotel, many things in the hotel are made from sustainable materials, such as the pillows, duvets, and coffee pods. The coffee pods are biodegradable and actually made of corn! My favourite feature of our room was that all of the amenities were eco-friendly. The materials are locally sourced AND good for the environment. The grape lotion smelled and felt amazing and I want to buy it by the tub!

From the hotel’s eco-integrative design to their contributions to the local economy, Hotel Xcaret Mexico constantly demonstrates its promise to practice sustainable tourism.

Bonus! Book with Air Canada Vacations

As Air Canada Vacations ambassadors, we travel with them often. What we love the most about booking our vacations with them is that we literally don’t have to stress about any travel details.  Air Canada Vacations takes care of everything from the flights, hotel, and even transfers at destination.

They’ve been around for over 35 years, so you’ve got peace of mind.  You also don’t have to pay for your first checked bag when you book a package with Air Canada Vacations (which we really appreciate). Air Canada and Air Canada Rouge fly to more than 40 destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, which is more than any other Canadian tour operator (which is amazing!).

Hotel Xcaret

What’s Next

The only thing left to do is decide when you’ll be going.  With flights leaving daily to Cancún from Toronto on Air Canada Rouge, and twice daily during winter, the time is now to pack your bags and escape the Canadian cold.

This blog post was written by The Vacation Couple, ambassadors for Air Canada Vacations. See what the Vacation Couple has been up to.

 

23 Oct

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Things to Do in Puerto Plata

October 23, 2018 | By |

Get ready for care-free floats in the pool with cocktails in hand, snorkelling off idyllic islands, and adrenaline-inducing exploration! The northern province of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic has become an increasingly popular vacation destination, because of its gorgeous beaches and laidback lifestyle. There are beach resorts all along the coastline where you can enjoy luxurious amenities and find the relaxation you deserve.

But don’t be fooled, there’s also a multitude of different experiences waiting for you in this lush Dominican paradise, including historic sites and immersive cultural opportunities. Consider a longer stay so you’ll have time to complete your growing list of things to do in Puerto Plata.

The balance of activities available to us was a nice surprise. As a result, we’ve compiled our recommendations into the top 5 things to do in Puerto Plata.

The Vacation Couple in Puerto Plata

Visit Paradise Island

On the border of the province, just off the coast of Punta Rucia, you’ll find one of the smallest islands in the world, Cayo Arena, aptly nicknamed Paradise Island.  You can spend the afternoon lounging, eating, drinking, swimming or snorkelling around this 2,000 square foot slice of paradise.

Visiting Cayo Arena is part of an all-day excursion available through Air Canada Vacations. Our tour included a VIP boat ride with unlimited drinks, coffee, and fresh fruit, as well as a delicious buffet lunch with lobster. Our day started with great music, friendly staff, and a floating champagne bar.

Once we arrived at the main attraction, Cayo Arena, we all found an area to ourselves. The sand was so soft that in certain places, it actually felt like walking in Jell-O! While we snorkelled, the fish were out in abundance and unabashedly swam by us in their natural habitat. No visit to Puerto Plata would be complete without a visit to Cayo Arena, an idyllic slice of paradise!

Jump Off Waterfalls

The Damajagua Waterfalls are a series of 27 cascading waterfalls in the Dominican jungle made by Mother Nature and the Damajagua River. You’ll strap on your life jacket and helmet before climbing up to the 7th waterfall to begin your adventure of climbing, sliding, or jumping off into the water below. For the faint of heart, there’s the option of taking stairs down, but we recommend taking the more exciting route and JUMPING!

You’ll only cover a quarter of the waterfalls in this 2-3 hour tour, so it won’t take up your entire day.  We recommend going early and enjoying your buffet lunch before carrying on with your day under the Dominican sunshine.  To balance our day, we visited a nearby beach before going back to our resort to indulge in all-inclusive luxuries.  This brings us to our next point, one of the most essential things to do in Puerto Plata…

Relax At an All-Inclusive Resort

The coast of Puerto Plata is filled with views of lush vegetation, rolling mountains and a gorgeous ocean with tons of marine life to explore. Staying at a beach resort ensures you’ll take advantage of all of Puerto Plata’s natural surroundings. We stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe San Juan, a short 10-minute drive from Rio San Juan.

This resort is part of the Spotlight Collection, which elevates your vacation with exclusive added values. I’m talking more à la carte dinners, in-room amenities, and 4,000 bonus Aeroplan® Miles per couple!

The Rooms

With 845 rooms across their grand property, this beautiful pastel community in the jungle feels open and airy.  Besides our beautiful balcony, the mini bar was a feature that we really loved as it had a variety of pop, juices, water, and beer that we could grab at any time.  Our room was located at the centre of the property, which made getting to the beach, pool, lobby, and most restaurants an absolute breeze.

The Food

Although Shadi and I love a sit-down meal at an à la carte restaurant (which we’ll get to soon), our true passion is buffets. And the main restaurant, La Brisa International Buffet, did not disappoint us! We were pleased morning, noon, and night at the selection of fresh foods served. Also, they had an ice cream bar, need we say more?

What to Do

With a swim-up bar and ample room to float around, the main lake-style pool is where the party’s at! We also enjoyed the quieter times at the other pools, as they gave us privacy and had direct access to the beach.

We had over 1.5 km of private beach at our fingertips, surrounded by thick, bright, and beautiful flora. You could wade in the water or take a stroll on the sand, and sunsets were truly magical here.

Take advantage of both the snorkelling and paddle boarding, as both are complimentary with your stay. Or you can go that extra mile and indulge in spa services with facilities that are adorned with Dominican touches. Who doesn’t love having a relaxing massage on the beach while listening to the soothing sounds of the sea?

Go on a City Tour

With a full-day tour of the city, you’ll be able to learn while visiting influential places. Here are our top things to do in Puerto Plata, city edition.

Mount Isabel de Torres

Chris the Redeemer statue

Riding the teleferico was an event on its own. It’s the only cable car in the Caribbean and allows for panoramic views of the city and coastline from 800m above sea level.

As we headed up Mount Isabel de Torres, the breathtaking views slowly presented themselves and the anticipation began to build. Once we reached the top, the large Christ the Redeemer statue was waiting for us with open arms.

During your time up here, we recommend wandering through the Botanical Gardens and taking in the surroundings. This colourful garden covers nearly 7 acres and features 600 varieties of tropical plants.

Brugal Rum Distillery

One of the most memorable experiences we had in Puerto Plata is touring the family-owned Brugal Rum Distillery. The Brugal family is the largest producer of traditionally made rum in the Dominican.

We toured the distillery with Jassil Brugal, a 5th generation brewmaster. Her passion for the process was apparent as she spoke to us. It was fascinating to learn about the aging process and see each step along the way. The tour ended with a rum tasting and a new appreciation for premium rums and the legacy of the distillery.

Central Park

Found in the centre of Puerto Plata city, Parque Central welcomes you with its surrounding palms and colourful pastel architecture. The main square is a beautiful place where locals relax and spend time with friends and family. You’ll find a café, and restaurant around the square, as well as bakeries, street art, souvenir shops, museums and the Atlantic Ocean just a couple of blocks away. Wandering these gorgeous streets should be at the top of your list of things to do in Puerto Plata.

Go Beach Hopping

Puerto Plata beachesWith over 100 km of beautiful beaches to choose from, it’s easy to find a spot to enjoy. We visited as many beaches as we possibly could which resulted in time at Playa Sosua, Cabarete, Playa Dorada, and the stunning beach at the Grand Bahia Principe San Juan.

Each beach seemed to have its own distinct personality, with Kite beach in Cabarete being one of the most memorable. We wandered along the shore admiring all the kiteboarders slicing through the water. One surfer stood out from the rest, and locals shared that he was a world champion kitesurfer. Watching him cut through the waves and do flips in the air is an experience we’ll never forget!

Why You Should Visit Puerto Plata

There are many more things to do in Puerto Plata, but these are our absolute favourites. It’s truly an experience like no other, with such a rich diversity of activities for you to choose from.  With so many different options for food, activities, and accommodations, you can craft the perfect combination for you.

Air Canada Vacations offers flights from Toronto to Puerto Plata weekly during the summer months and four times per week during the winter months. Plus, you’ll be receiving 1 checked bag per person plus all transfers from the airport to your hotel in your package price.

This blog post was written by The Vacation Couple, ambassadors for Air Canada Vacations. See what the Vacation Couple has been up to.

 

27 Sep

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Where To Stay in Saint Lucia

September 27, 2018 | By |

ROYALTON SAINT LUCIA RESORT & SPA

This oceanfront relaxation haven promises every possible stress-melting amenity. Luxury accommodations, upscale eateries, a top-notch spa coupled with impeccable 24-hour room service and an exclusive member’s only Diamond Club pool and Beach Bar means relaxation is assured here. Royalton even boasts an adults-only Hideaway section.

WINDJAMMER LANDING VILLA BEACH RESORT

Offering the ultimate all-inclusive family vacation spot where kids eat, play and stay free, Windjammer guarantees serious fun for everyone. Spacious two or three-bedroom family villas, complimentary waterskiing, wakeboarding, and activity-heavy kids clubs all add up to the perfect escape for your clan. Stay busy or take it easy all day in a swaying water hammock.

COCONUT BAY BEACH RESORT & SPA

Nestled into 85 truly luscious acres of Lucian beauty, one mile of which is nothing but private breezy beach, this award-winning all-inclusive escape boasts nine dining options, seven bars, five pools, and an 11,000 square-foot oceanfront spa where worries easily melt into the sea. With a 50,000 square-foot Kidz Klub and an epic onsite water park, it all adds up to playcation perfection.

BODYHOLIDAY SAINT LUCIA

Promising a restorative world-class respite from all of life’s troubles, this wellness sanctuary hidden in a secluded cove cradled by white sand beaches, tropical gardens and lush rainforests is the prime vacation spot for those seeking true rejuvenation of body, mind and spirit. Mountain hikes, five-star restaurants, indulgent therapeutic treatments, or playful water sports—it’s all here for your body.

JAMES CLUB MORGAN BAY

A vibrant blend of refined and refreshingly casual, this all-inclusive resort is characterized by pristine, romantic beachfronts offering lazy, sun-soaked days in loungers or exciting sailing adventures. Want to hit the links instead? Cap Estate Golf Course is mere minutes away. And Saint Lucia’s capital city of Castries is just next door should shopping and nightlife be in order.

BAY GARDENS BEACH RESORT & SPA

Lagoon-style swimming pools, bubbling Jacuzzis, and free passes to Splash Island, the Caribbean’s first inflatable open-water sports park on Reduit Beach only steps away from Bay Gardens, this spot is perfect for wet and wild family fun. With edible  access to a collection of top-shelf resort eateries and restaurants in Rodney Bay Village next door as well as free spa treatments* it’s also all-inclusive luxury, guaranteed.

Saint Lucie Family Vacation

*Conditions apply.

 

27 Sep

By

Saint Lucia Travel: Let Her Inspire You

September 27, 2018 | By |

VOLCANIC WONDER

Caressed on all sides by aquamarine seascapes and pristine, palm-fringed beaches, the volcanic wonder that is Saint Lucia also boasts lush rainforests tucking much of the island’s looming mountains and plunging valleys under a dense emerald blanket. But her iconic Pitons, captivating twin peaks rising majestically out of the sea, truly define her rarefied geography.

Offering the Caribbean’s only drive-through volcano, restorative mineral mud baths, reef-rich waters that beg for snorkelling escapes, quaint fishing villages peppered with colourful boats, mesmerizing music festivals, award-winning luxury resorts and world-class culinary delights, Saint Lucia provides unforgettable getaways leaving no traveller unsatisfied.

What to do

What to do in Saint LuciaSEA, SUN & SAND

For sun-kissed waterskiing, bumping banana boat rides, or a refreshing cocktail at dusk it’s hard to beat the golden, family-friendly sands of Reduit Beach. For the snorkeller set, it’s the unspoiled offshore reef of jungle-adjacent Anse Cochon or the cliff-backed edges of Smugglers Cove to peep technicolour rainbows of marine life. Seasoned divers will find their sanctuary in the volcanic outcroppings and famous Key Hole Pinnacles submerged off the Bay of Soufriere—do keep an eye out for brightly speckled peacock flounders and parrot fish.

Those seeking a truly rare shoreline event can camp overnight on Grande Anse during nesting season, from March to August, to spy protected leatherback sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand.

SUPERNATURAL NATURE ESCAPES

Saint Lucia NatureTowering almost 3,000 imposing feet above sea level, Gros Piton and its smaller sidekick, Petit Piton, are UNESCO World Heritage hot spots and not-to-be-missed excursions for the outdoorsy type. A winding hike through Caribbean flora to the panoramic summit of the Pitons will forever etch itself into your memory. For family treks, the Tet Paul Nature Trail never disappoints—an aptly named Stairway to Heaven handily showcases the divine allure of the island.

Family adventure is on hand both high and low. While a rainforest Aerial Tram tour will glide you effortlessly up and over crawling forest canopies, an intimate bike escapade to Errard Falls amid a serene rainforest leads to its refreshing waters and cascading falls.

INFINITE ISLAND FLAVOUR

Harbouring world-class chefs who’ve creatively exploited an abundance of homegrown tropical fruit and ocean-to-plate seafood, vibrant Rodney Bay is punctuated with over thirty refined restaurants sure to satisfy every one of your taste buds. Saint Lucia is a true sensory experience no foodie will forget.

At the other end of the culinary spectrum is the “Friday Night Fish Fry”—an electric weekly street feast in Anse-La-Raye—where paper plates of lobster, grilled snapper, and Caribbean BBQ are all an easy grab. While colourful boats line the beachfront, musicians, residents, and local artists fill the streets for outdoor concerts with improvised dancefloors. Bring comfy shoes—the party often spills over until sunup.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Wedding in Saint LuciaCradled in the heart of the Lesser Antilles, romance is simply a matter of course here. No matter where you land, Saint Lucia’s vistas of matchless natural beauty guarantee an unparallelled lover’s retreat. Guided walks through rainforests amidst birdsong, galloping on horseback over virgin sands, plunging into a secluded private pool with the Pitons providing that quixotic backdrop, slinking into a swaying hammock built especially for two as the orange-pink sun melts into the horizon with champagne in hand—love comes easy here.

Giddy honeymooners or life-long partners—all are seduced by Saint Lucia’s infinite charms. Unsurprisingly, many come to her golden shores to tie the knot too.

NON-STOP CULTURE FEST

From French colonial architecture and the artisanal handcraft of vine-woven baskets to traditional bright plaid dresses still honoured by the descendants of the Carib people, Saint Lucia is a constant cornucopia of culture and tradition.

Promising five explosive festivals in one running from January to October, the Soleil Saint Lucia Summer Festival offers Food & Rum, Jazz, Carnival, Roots & Soul and Arts & Heritage events letting you immerse yourself in local culture all year-round.

But the “Jump Up” block party that goes off without fail every Friday night in the fishing village of Gros Islet is a surefire way to sample serious Lucian culture—charcoal-grilled street treats, spiced rum and resonant Caribbean bass lines fill the ocean air long after the stars have come out.

 LUCIAN REJUVENATION

Saint Lucia yogaWith a mind to restore his troops through the therapeutic powers of hot, mineral-rich springs flowing forth from Soufriere’s volcano, King Louis XVI ordered baths built on Saint Lucia in the late 1700s. Today, the rich history of restorative healing continues.

Visitors can indulge in the height of spa treatment splendour by caking their faces, and the rest of them come to that, in a purifying mud mask at Sulphur Springs. Or soak in Louis’s restored baths at the nearby Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens.

Self-care gets elevated at the Rainforest Spa on Sugar Beach—which lives up to its name—tranquil treatments take place in gazebos perched on stilts above a gushing stream on the forest floor below.

02 Aug

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Best Reason to Visit Jamaica: Jamaican Food!

August 2, 2018 | By |

Vacations often leave you looking slimmer, from all that on-the-go action and exploration. A trip to Jamaica might not be so kind to your waistline, considering the country serves up some of the best dishes in the Caribbean. Here are our picks of the Jamaican cuisine you need to try!

Jerk around

Jamaican allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg–these are just a few of the ingredients found in the jerk seasoning that defines one of Jamaica’s most iconic dishes: jerk chicken. Sweet and spicy, perfectly grilled, the flavourful meat is traditionally served with rice and beans or bammies, a tasty fried flat bread of sorts. Of course, you can also get jerk pork, jerk fish, jerk…lobster (!). Find jerk dishes anywhere, from street vendors to your resort’s restaurant.

Patty cake, patty cake

What’s not to love about the Jamaican patty? It’s perfectly golden, flaky and filled with delicious, seasoned meat (or vegetables). This sublime snack is actually a product of colonialism: a derivative of the Cornish pasty brought over by the Brits, spiced by Indians with cumin and curry and kicked up by Africans with cayenne pepper. While awesome on its own, you can try it like a local and stuff a patty in some sweet coco bread for a unique Jamaican sandwich.

Feeling fruity

It’s not all starch and meats. Being a tropical island, Jamaica is ripe with exotic fruits you might have never heard of. Most often eaten with saltfish, ackee is the island’s national fruit, an alien-like cluster of black seeds and spongy yellow flesh. Kind of like a tropical potato, breadfruit can be roasted, steamed, mashed or fried and makes for a superb side-dish. There are countless others that sound as colourful as they look: the grape-like, gelatinous guinep, the juicy June plum, heart-shaped sweetsop, spiky soursop, and something called the Stinking Toe. Okay, we haven’t tried that last one, but you can do the honours!

Liquid lunch

You’ll need something refreshing to wash all that down. Try sorrel, a red drink brewed from hibiscus blossoms, often spiced with cinnamon and ginger, or punched up with some of that famous Jamaican rum, if you fancy an extra kick. Savour the soda suited for the sun: Ting, offering just the right amount of grapefruit-flavoured fizz to cool you down. Finally, you really can’t leave Jamaica without trying a hot cup of Blue Mountain coffee, one of the world’s best brews from Jamaica’s highest mountain.

What’s next

Yum, all this is Jamaican me hungry! Any of these dishes can be tasted in the Jamaican destination of your choice. Montego Bay, or “MoBay,” is a hip city and a popular spot for dreamy, waterfront hotels. It’s a great base to explore the spectacular shores and paradisiacal settings of the idyllic resort town of Negril or former fishing village of Ochos Rios. Meanwhile, Kingston is the cultural heartbeat of Jamaica, sitting at the foot of the dramatic Blue Mountains. Hot travel tip: Book your winter vacation to Jamaica with us by September 9 to get $600 off per family and 8 days of free airport parking!

Savour the flavours of Jamaica! 

26 Jul

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Top 6 Hotels in Barbados

July 26, 2018 | By |

Where to stay in Barbados

Sea Breeze Beach House

Sea Breeze Beach House Barbados
Tucked away on the southern coast, this newly renovated 4-star resort boasts two spectacular beaches, an adults-only Jacuzzi and a commitment to food culture that reinforces Barbados as the culinary capital of the Caribbean.

Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels

Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels Barbados

Focused on pampering families against a backdrop that is as elegant as it is exotic, Turtle Beach ensures fine, authentically Bajan fun, food and hospitality for all. It’s also part of our Spotlight Collection, so every stay comes with exclusive perks.

The Club, Barbados Resort & Spa

The Club, Barbados Resort & Spa

Be it by high tea in the afternoon, high-end dining in the numerous culinary amenities on site or highly soothing days in their signature Spa & Salon, The Club will leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated. This adults-only escape is also part of our Spotlight Collection.

Accra Beach Hotel

Accra Beach Hotel

Oceanfront rooms giving way to pristine, powdery beaches are a mainstay here — as is every other amenity you’ll ever need. Be sure to schedule a drink at dusk to enjoy their signature Sunset Bar as day gives way to night… then hit the lively Lagoon Pool Bar.

Port St. Charles

Priding themselves on luxury accommodations, Port St. Charles lets you experience Barbados like a local with access to every extravagance. Whether you need a water taxi for pickup, a stocked fridge for tomorrow’s brunch, restaurant reservations for tonight, or a fully catered dinner party at your villa — it’s all on offer here.

Sandals Royal Barbados

Sandals Royal Barbados

Offering 24-hour Butler Elite service, swim-up suites, and a roof top pool and bar overlooking the Caribbean Sea, this all-new, adults-only resort is tucked away in the famously lively St. Lawrence Gap of bountiful Barbados. You’ll have full access to incredible gourmet eateries, a wellness spa, unforgettable nightlife, and every luxurious amenity your mind can hope to summon.

26 Jul

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Barbados: Savour the Sublime

July 26, 2018 | By |

Warm and fuzzy
Surrounded by the characteristic white-sand beaches and coral-dense, turquoise waters that define the varied isles and atolls peppering the Caribbean Sea, the spirited island of Barbados is a treasure trove of cultural and culinary variety sure to fulfill every traveller’s expectations of their idyllic dream destination. Fun fact: this paradise was named after the bearded fig trees once plentiful on the island.

Best Barbados beach

What to do

Map your memories by mood
Test your ocean mettle against local surf pros in the south. Golf from dusk until dawn in the island’s centre. Sneak away to explore the rare wonder of tiny sea creatures, nestled in secret water caves, in the north. Punctuate a breezy moped ride across eastern sea-cliffs at sunset with a night of dining and dancing in the south and west. Barbados has every experience on offer. Unsurprisingly, should sipping on a sweet, tall glass of Mauby Drink while unwinding in a swaying hammock be more your speed, the island is sure to oblige.

Golfing in Barbados

Mood: From golden feels to platinum feels

Home to Holetown, the epicentre of Barbadian history, the Platinum Coast is aptly named. A sprawl of sparkling oceanfront sands are its defining draw. Rainbow reef gardens, plentiful leatherback sea turtles and a sunken barge off Brighton Beach also make it a snorkeller’s sanctuary. Still, those content to stay sun-dappled on the surface can spend the day sea-sprayed on water skis instead. For infinite shopping, nightlife and native nibbles, the sizzle of the St. Lawrence Gap is just south of the strip.  Also, Rihanna’s from around here, so there’s something enchanting in these waters…

Diving in Barbados

Mood: Mysterious bliss for the naturalist

Named after the hungry anemones that populate its colourful, coral floor, the clandestine water grotto of the Animal Flower Cave atop the northern tip of Barbados is a mere rental car away. Enjoy the Caribbean breeze on your skin by bicycle instead and head to the stunning sea cliffs of Cove Bay — consider that the ride isn’t complete without a stop at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve to grab a selfie with a green monkey.

Barbados Animal Flower Cave

Mood: Elegant adventure and sport

If your tastes are more equestrian in nature, seek out the pristine Ape Hill Polo Club in the verdant parish of Saint Andrew. Or head out for a trek through the Scotland District — an explorer’s wonderland and, remarkably, the only part of the submarine Caribbean mountain range stretching from Trinidad to Puerto Rico that remains well above water. Stroll through rows of sweet-smelling mahogany boughs on Cherry Tree Hill pausing only for refreshments and energizing ocean views. The refreshment? Satisfying sips from freshly split coconuts — they’re an easy grab in these parts.

Horseback Riding in Barbados

Mood: Lushness, love and lunch

Taking its name from the frothy surf that licks its eastern shores, the swells of the Soup Bowl offer a romantic backdrop for an intimate beachside picnic. No basket? No worries. Tuck into some traditional food at the local restaurants on the sea cliffs of coastal Bathsheba. Dining at dusk overlooking the ocean always proves unforgettable, but a well-timed day trip to this region will end in sightings of seasoned surfers dominating waves along the shoreline. Do leave a little time to escape inland to six full acres of tranquil floral forests at Andromeda Gardens, the botanical beauty of this coastal region.

Best swimming Barbados

Mood: Turf and surf

Informed by an eclectic blend of influences from the African, Indian, Irish, and British islanders who’ve graced its shores, Bajan cuisine is a sensory indulgence with a sharp Creole flair. Snack shacks and fine eateries abound on the Christchurch boardwalk but local fare at Oistin’s Fish Fry, an authentic outdoor market, is a must-taste. Burn it all off at one of the many surf schools on the southern strip, or by hitting the links — the Barbados Golf Club offers leisure activities inland. But do save room for a cocktail or two after dining, surfing or golfing: Barbados is hailed as the proper birthplace of rum.

Best food in Barbados

Book your trip to Barbados!