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Cayo Coco / Cayo Guillermo Archives - Air Canada Vacations

26 Nov

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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!

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.

26 Jun

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The true Cuba

June 26, 2015 | By |

Some things in Cuba are so classic they never go out of style and really should be part of every trip.

Endless beaches

With 330 days of sunshine every year and more than 500 km of soft sand spread across 400 beaches, Cuba has earned its reputation for some of the best beaches in the world. Enjoy lots of watersports, relaxation and fun in the sun. Kids will love it too because most of the beaches are sheltered, calm and warm.

Eco-tourism

With about 25% of the island protected either as National Parks or Nature Reserves, there is a growing trend for getting out and exploring. Try hiking, trekking, cycling, horseback riding, caving and cave diving, bird watching, or nature photography—whatever will inspire you and get you feeling connected.

Classic cars

An estimated 60,000 vintage cars are still in Cuba. As a proof of the ingenuity of the Cuban people, since no new parts have been shipped to Cuba since the early 60s, they either manufacture their own replacement parts or repurpose parts from older Soviet vehicles to keep them running. The cars are beautiful labours of love.

Timeless music & culture

The warmth and charm of the Cuban people is alive in their music. The rhythms of Son Mambo and Cha Cha Cha are celebrated and shared. So too is the architecture, faith, art, literature and cuisine—all a fusion of indigenous, African, French, Asian and Spanish influences.

Old-school rum

Maestros Roneros (rum masters) have been refining their knowledge and skills for generations. The result is a world-famous tradition of quality and taste. Visit the Museum of Rum in Havana or Barrita el Caney in Santiago de Cuba, and be sure to ask for a sip of extra old for a new taste experience.

Storied streets

Cuba has more World Heritage Sites than any other Caribbean country. Extraordinary historical cities are scattered throughout the island. Havana Vieja and its impressive fortifications, the historic centre of Cienfuegos, the town of Trinidad in the province of Sancti Spiritus, and the winding streets of Camagüey should top any must-see list.

 

26 Jun

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The new Cuba

June 26, 2015 | By |

Since 2014, Eloy Govea Rodríguez has been the Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto. Originally from Cuba, he shares his unique perspective on this island and what you can look forward to when you visit.

How has Cuba changed over the years?

Tourism in Cuba has grown a lot in recent years. We now have 10 international airports and resorts for every kind of traveller with lots of facilities and options. But we’ve also worked to preserve our culture and heritage. We have 10 World Heritage sites, 257 national monuments and 332 museums.

What will surprise us most about Cuba?

Over a quarter of the island is protected, which means you can experience some really amazing natural habitats.

Why does Cuba have such enduring appeal?

The people! Cubans are very friendly and happy to share their culture.

What’s the best place to visit in Havana?

Havana was recently declared one of the New Seven Wonder Cities so there’s a lot to see. I definitely recommend Old Havana. Those old streets are very charming.

What can families look forward to most?

Families will love how peaceful and safe this island is. You can visit with even the youngest traveller and they’ll have a great time.

One thing we all have to try?

Combine the beach with the cities. Cuba has incredible beaches but get to a city centre to experience the music, the life of the island.

What’s the best part about a vacation in Cuba?

You mean aside from everything I’ve just mentioned? Maybe the fact that Cuba is still

very affordable and only three and a half hours from Canada.

One thing we all have to bring home?

Cuban cigars, of course. Cuban rum and music are also great.

 

26 Jun

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Cuba: What’s old is new again

June 26, 2015 | By |

Cuba has a life, an energy, and a passion that are truly unique. A vacation here is a journey along endless white-sand, a trip down a cobblestone street, and a night on the town with locals helping you find the island rhythm.

Cuba has changed a lot in recent years and the vacation options have grown along with it.

Air Canada Vacations now flies to six destinations across the island and offers resorts for every style, from quietly simple, to grand luxury, with decadent rooms and superior service. You’ll also find family-friendly resorts on calm beaches with features like waterparks and more, making this a truly affordable family destination.

Welcome to the island.

 

12 Jun

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Where to Have the Best Cocktails in Cuba This Summer

June 12, 2015 | By |

Cuba is largely known for its beautiful beaches, culture, history, cigars and Che Guevara, but also – for its cocktails! Cuban cocktails often bring to mind thoughts of vacation, the beach and fun in the sun. And we’ll let you in on a little secret: the best Cuban cocktails can be found in none other than… Cuba. Let’s take a look at where to have the best cocktails in Cuba this summer:

1) A mojito at Valentin Perla Blanca – Cayo Santa Maria

What sounds better than sipping the most famous Cuban cocktail on a beach in Cayo Santa Maria (near Santa Clara)? If interested, we recommend stopping by Valentin Perla Blanca, a chic, adults-only hotel that has no less than 10 bars, one of which is a mojito bar. This refreshing cocktail made of rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water and mint goes down smoothly and comes in different variations for different tastes. This is definitely the place to savour the perfect mojito against a tropical backdrop.

2) A Presidente at IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul – Varadero

The Presidente gained its popularity during the Prohibition of the United States of the 1920s, and was named in honour of the Cuban president of the time. The drink may vary from bar to bar, but the main ingredients remain the same: dark rum, curaçao, white vermouth and a dash of grenadine. In Varadero, and specifically at the IBEROSTAR Laguna Azul, the Presidente is delightful – a must while watching the hotel’s evening entertainment. The hotel also features a cigar bar. A Presidente and cigars  now that’s Cuba.

3) A daiquiri at Melia Las Dunas – Santa Clara

Ernest Hemingway’s favourite cocktail knows many variations, but the original (made of rum, maraschino liqueur, cane sugar, lime juice and crushed ice) can be sampled at Melia Las Dunas, preferably while you dip your feet in the pool to cool off from the hot Santa Clara sun. To make the most of your stay, try simmering down with one of these cocktails after a tai chi class by the pool. If you’re not into tai chi, you can opt for snorkelling, windsurfing or kayaking. Relaxation and fun guaranteed!

4) A Ron Collins at TRYP Cayo Coco – Cayo Coco

If you want to taste a really good Ron Collins, the Cuban version of the American Tom Collins, head to TRYP Cayo Coco. This cocktail, made of rum, sugar, lime-flavoured soda water and ice, pairs perfectly with lobster and shrimp at the hotel’s seafood restaurant. One of the many advantages of this hotel is that it allows you access to its sister hotels in Cayo Coco: the Sol Cayo Coco and the Sol Cayo Guillermo. You stay at 1, but play at 3! That gives you three times the opportunity to try a Ron Collins.

5) A Cuba Libre at Blau Costa Verde – Holguin

When you think about Holguin, you probably think about its white sand beaches. But Holguin is also a warm city where you can enjoy Cuban music, food and the overall lifestyle. If you’re staying at Blau Costa Verde, you’ll have access to their nightclub, which offers unlimited drinks until 2:00 a.m. It’s your chance to sample a delicious Cuba Libre (rum and cola, garnished with a lemon wedge) the drink got its name in 1902 when the country was freed from its Spanish colonial rule.

 

Ready to tantalize your taste buds with these Cuban cocktails? Don’t put off your Cuba vacation any longer – start planning today! And if you’re really in a hurry to sit back on a lounge chair on the beach, cocktail in hand, take a look at our last-minute deals for some awesome prices.

 

02 Apr

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Top 10 Resorts to Check Out This Summer

April 2, 2015 | By |

Trying to find the newest, hottest resorts to stay at this summer? Search no more, as we have shortlisted the top 10 resorts to check out this summer in Mexico and the Caribbean. These include some brand new and recently renovated properties, as well as properties that have been newly added to the Air Canada Vacations lineup. From villa accommodations to boutique hotels, these are 10 resorts you definitely want to check out.  

1) Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria (Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba)

Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria

Snack La Caleta

The beach at Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria is an absolute pièce de résistance, with its pure white sand and turquoise water. If you want to maximize your intake of ocean views, make sure to dine at the Mediterranean Aire de Mar Restaurant, or stop by Snack La Caleta, a poolside snack bar that also overlooks the Caribbean Sea. A variety of activities are on offer at this resort, including non-motorized water sports, 2 tennis courts, a kids club and a yacht club.

2) Beach House Turks and Caicos (Providenciales, Turks and Caicos)

Beach House Turks and Caicos

The 21-suite Beach House Turks and Caicos is a boutique hotel with an intimate setting. As a guest, you are entitled to dedicated lounge spaces on stunning Grace Bay Beach. Ranging from 1,150 to 1,580 square feet, guest suites feature a kitchenette, as well as a balcony or terrace with a day bed. The on-site Beach House Restaurant is a popular dining spot in Providenciales and showcases a creative Caribbean and contemporary menu. For additional dining options, you can take a shuttle to the hotel’s 2 sister properties, Alexandra Resort and Blue Haven Resort.

3) Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Vallarta (Riviera Nayarit/Nuevo Vallarta)

Bel Air Collection Nuevo Vallarta

Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Vallarta has your wellbeing in mind. Its Asian-style spa is perfect for some R&R: in addition to various spa treatments, it offers daily yoga and meditation, as well as a special low-calorie diet program for the health-conscious. Its infinity pool overlooking the beach does nothing but inspire relaxation, and a variety of special services like tea time and a nightly turn-down service with petits fours adds to the serene experience offered by this resort.

4) ACOYA Hotel Suites & Villas (Willemstad, Curaçao)

ACOYA Lakefront Villa

Lakefront villa

Lush lodging is the name of the game at ACOYA Hotel Suites & Villas. Deluxe rooms feature a private patio surrounded by a tropical garden. Suites range from 2 to 4 bedrooms and are appointed with a large private balcony, fully equipped kitchen, living room and dining area. Featuring a garden, pool or lake view, villas come fully furnished and offer the ultimate private sanctuary. On-site amenities include a swimming pool, a spa and fine dining at Restaurant Seasons.

5) Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall (Montego Bay, Jamaica)

Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall Spa

The new, adults-only Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall is the epitome of luxury. Stylishly decorated, each guest room features handcrafted furniture, a furnished terrace, designer toiletries and plush bathrobes. Dining is a regal affair as well with access to 3 exclusive restaurants, as well as 6 restaurants that are shared with its sister property, Hyatt Ziva. When you want to go for a swim, you can choose from a total of 14 pools, including 9 swim-up pools and 5 whirlpools, and when you’re in the mood for relaxation, indulge in a service at the oceanfront spa.

6) Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)

Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta

Lobby

It’s amazing that Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta can provide an oasis so close to bustling downtown Puerto Vallarta. The hotel lobby itself is like a mini sanctuary, housed in an enormous palapa and adorned with a calming, rushing waterfall. The resort is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains and it offers a beautiful private beach on the Bahía de Banderas, the second largest bay in the Pacific Ocean.

7) Be Live Collection Canoa (La Romana, Dominican Republic)

Be Live Collection Canoa La Romana

Be Live Collection Canoa offers a convenient location in La Romana, right on Bayahibe Beach. It also facilitates day trips to neighbouring Del Este National Park, where you can explore over 400 caverns (some of which contain ancient pictographs), a variety of flora and fauna and Saona Island. The resort’s amenities cater to all ages: a lagoon-shaped pool, multiple dining options, a spa, fitness centre and kids club make it perfect for either a couple’s getaway or family vacation.

8) Point Grace (Providenciales, Turks and Caicos)

Point Grace Beach

Featuring a remote location on the point of 19-km Grace Bay Beach, the 28-suite Point Grace offers a quiet, peaceful setting. Appointed with British Colonial architecture, this boutique hotel offers guest suites that are over 1,000 square feet in size, and that include a kitchen, terrace and upscale bathroom. It is also home to 2 Caribbean restaurants, as well as the oceanfront Thalasso Spa which incorporates the properties of sea mud and sea water into its treatments.

9) Meliá Jardines del Rey (Cayo Coco, Cuba)

Melia Jardines del Rey

Opened in January 2015, the Meliá Jardines del Rey is a beautifully styled hotel that blends contemporary décor with a design that emulates a sugar cane plantation. It is home to 9 restaurants, 6 bars and a sweet corner called Macao, which offers a variety of ice cream and snacks. There is a boulevard that extends from the lobby to the beach, and guest rooms are located in 3-storey bungalows.

10) Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

akumal-bay-beach

Though Akumal Bay Beach & Wellness Resort is now sporting a brand new look after a recent renovation, it has preserved what is at its core: a laidback, beachy vibe and unspoilt natural surroundings. Rooms are now ultra-sleek junior suites with outdoor hot tubs, but have retained their main focal point: an amazing view of Akumal Bay. The resort also offers pop-up beach bars and access to a world-class snorkelling site that is home to sea turtles and a beautiful coral reef.

 

Looking for more resorts like these? If you did not get a chance this past season, you may still wish to look at our Top 10 Resorts To Check Out: Winter Edition, or consult our full listing of properties in the Caribbean & Mexico.

 

01 May

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Cuba, from tip to tip

May 1, 2013 | By |

From tip to tip, every part of this great island offers a unique mix of history, music, art, passion and beauty – as unique and warm as the sun in the sky.

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