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Caribbean-JamaicaAs any agent worth her (or his) sea salt knows, selling Jamaica in the winter is a breeze, especially when the chilly winds start blowing up north. However, even a perennially popular destination can’t rest on its laurels. To ensure Jamaica stays on the vacation radar, a new slogan and advertising campaign - Jamaica - Get All Right - has been launched by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). “Our vision is to convey Jamaica as a place where visitors feel an undeniable bond to the destination,” said John Lynch, director of tourism. “A place where they can ‘Get All Right.’"

Published in January - February

Asia-Thailand
Near southeast Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Sankampaeng Hot Springs’ souvenir stand is crowded with locals purchasing raw eggs. A strange Thai tradition? Not really. They cook the eggs in the springs and have a picnic. 

Most Chiang Mai vacationers visit the most popular attractions, such as the elephant camps, the hill tribes and the magnificent hilltop temple, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. But Destination Asia guide, Khemruthrai (Kim) Sirsak, shows me hidden gems like the springs, Royal Park Rajapruek, Chiang Mai’s ancient lost city and an Edenesque lunch spot.

Published in January - February

Caribbean-TurksClassy and classic, Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are not about big crowds and noisy nights. Sitting extraordinarily pretty southeast of Miami, below the Bahamas and east of the Dominican Republic, the forty islands and cays that make up TCI have come a long way since Club Med opened in the early eighties. The main tourist center of Providenciales, or Provo, is the big draw with Grace Bay, one of the most stunning beaches in the Caribbean. Diving in the third largest barrier reef in the world, dining at eateries that take food seriously, and celebrating the iconic conch every way imaginable are keeping arrival numbers high. “Many of our visitors are return visitors, but we’re also attracting record numbers of new visitors to our shores,”  said Ralph Higgs, director of tourism.“For a small country, we are extremely popular and are looking forward to a banner year ahead.“

Published in January - February

Latin-Belize
Belize offers two realities: Jungles where you can hear the roar of howler monkeys and stay in rooms that make you feel like you’re at luxury summer camp - where you can disconnect from 24-hour media and other noise pollution, and the glowing aqua shore where you can lean against palm trees on a beach that retains its wild outlines and enjoy a pina colada. Belize offers both those experiences. Start in the jungle with rigorous hiking, biking, swimming, bird watching and other activities and end the trip with relaxation, snorkeling, a fishing excursion perhaps or a trip to a high-end spa.

Published in January - February

Latin-Colombia
Nearly 1,000 cruise industry representatives of 15 major international cruise lines attended the 20th annual conference of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), hosted by Proexport Colombia at the convention center in Cartagena de Indias in September 2013. Also present were members of the U.S. and Latin American press, who toured areas of the country as part of Colombia’s “Magical Realism” campaign.

Published in January - February

Europe-ITALY
Americans are fast becoming aware and choosy about wellness. They practice some “good habits” at home and try now, more than ever, to infuse their vacations with some of the same. According to SpaFinders’ latest surveys, an overwhelming majority of respondents indicated they would choose vacations in which they could at least follow a healthy regimen, although not necessarily a hard adventure or extreme sport, but to try not to undo all of their at-home routines. They are looking for balance and enjoyment, but not necessarily excess.

Published in January - February

Europe-SpainMadrid is still the number one destination for American travelers to Spain -- both for tourism and business. Based upon a recent four-day visit, I can appreciate the city’s ongoing popularity.

Since the 15th century, when Christopher Columbus sailed under the auspices of the King and Queen of Spain, the country has left an indelible footprint on world history.

Based on its colonization of Central and South America, the Spanish language is the national language spoken in a dozen countries outside of Spain.

Not only is Madrid one of the world’s most impressive cities with its unique and monumental buildings and museums, its wide boulevards, and impressive parks and gardens, the city offers more than four hundred hotels, including seven with the highly-coveted 5 star rating.

Published in January - February

 

USASand dunes, slot machines, shrimp served up in seemingly endless ways, and Southern hospitality. The Gulf Coast is much more than that, of course, including resiliency and history.

The Gulf Coast suffered mightily from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A storm surge as high as 38-feet in spots reached as far as 12 miles inland from New Orleans and across Mississippi, devastating everything in its path - from high-rise resorts to Antebellum homes and fishing boats. Tourism is as important to the Gulf Coast as shrimping, and the rebuilding began immediately. Today, the numbers for both tourism and fishing are equal, if not ahead, of pre-Katrina.

Published in January - February

 

USA-NY
Ask any New Yorker where to go and they’ll tell you... because there’s no running out of options in this city. Here are a few suggestions from a native.

For better deals on hotels than what you may have already, speak to the GMs of hotels on a Sunday after 4 p.m. (a slightly quieter time) and ask for a lower rate or value-added services.

Depending on the length of stay, suggest your clients purchase a CityPASS (www.citypass.com), which offers free and discounted admission to attractions (Circle Line), sights (including the Statue of Liberty) and museums (including MoMA, the Met and the Guggenheim). 

 

Published in December

Europe porto
In September, I married the only girl I’ve had eyes for since we were kids. It was not a small wedding - both of us being the oldest of our generation, that was out of our hands - and while we relished in all the small details that we knew would make the weekend special for everyone coming, it also became increasingly important to us that we approach our honeymoon differently. It turned out what we both wanted was to be aimless, to burn our guidebooks, to wander without obligation, and to treat ourselves to surprisingly good meals in places we had never read about on the internet.

Published in December
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