Feathered leafy trees hang over a stream that gurgles from the earth and then slips and falls over ancient rock. This water has, over the last 10,000 years, etched grooved spouts and rugged steps into that stone. Hot enough for an idyllic soak, the water then slides down and becomes a stream flanked by moss and greenery.
Late spring 2014 saw the opening of a new Sandals resort in Grenada, and the addition of the new Key West Village at Beaches Turks and Caicos. As usual, these openings were celebrated in grand style with celebrities and dignitaries in attendance, and grand opening parties in true Sandals/Beaches style, featuring name brand entertainment, excellent food, free-flowing spirits and fireworks.
All about upscale indulgences, hyper-attentive service and pampering over price points, vacationing like a VIP is a grand guilty pleasure. Delivering above expectations, luxury in the Caribbean runs the gamut from personal chefs on private islands and butlers who pour afternoon tea to seaside suites that leave no stone unturned. “Our region continues to deliver by embellishing our natural paradise with offerings that easily exceed the standards of elegance,” said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). “The Caribbean has much to offer in terms of luxury, even in an economy that is making a slow return to a steady state.“
A melting pot on bold display with more than a hundred nationalities calling the cosmopolitan island home, Curacao is below the hurricane belt making it a popular choice for travelers who can do without the angst of weather delays. Thirty-eight curvy beaches ring the coast and with a pastel-painted promenade, delightfully narrow streets and gabled colonial architecture in the capital city of Willemstad, Curacao is Caribbean chic at its finest. www.curacao.com
The first images that come to mind when thinking of a Mexican holiday are beaches and guacamole, but there is so much more to this beautiful country. And while those quintessentially Mexican vacations are a great way to unwind and chill out, the Spanish Colonial cities in the interior of Mexico are filled with not only culture and history, but are chock full of adventure.
Belize remains one of Latin America’s lesser-known destinations and one of its best kept secrets. From beaches to rainforests, from Mayan ruins to the world’s second largest barrier reef, Belize has a plethora of offerings for the outdoor and soft adventure enthusiast. What your clients won’t find in Belize are large, name-brand resorts. What they will find are smaller, most often family run, more intimate hotels, inns and lodges offering a high level of personalized service. To me, the real appeal of Belize is its compact size and the ability to combine both sides of its tourism product, coastline and rainforest interior, in a one-week trip.
Holding onto a raft through level three and four rapids, while spotting orioles jumping from branch to branch, is one way to find relaxation. Another is taking a lazy, day-long excursion on the sea with plenty of time for swimming, snorkeling and fishing. In Costa Rica, both the adventurous and languorous sides of relaxation are easy to find. Interspersed with these activities, the country’s rich cultural history can be experienced, from museums in the capital, San Jose, to visits with indigenous cacao growers in the country.
Whether it’s fairy-tale castles or Bavarian beer fests, cuckoo clocks or a celebration steeped in centuries of history, Germany is rich in local traditions that your clients can be a part of. And the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) will be supporting your efforts as you plan trips that include these time-honored folk festivals, Christmas markets, regional dishes, traditional dress, handcrafts, music and culture. Based on surveys showing that a region’s traditions and history are among the top criteria international visitors consider when choosing a vacation destination, the GNTB has put the Traditions and Customs theme at the center of its 2015 global sales and marketing activities.
Panoramic views of waters ranging between royal blue and turquoise amid the archeological ruins of ancient Greece and Turkey is hard to top-unless, of course, you’re experiencing all this with a cruise ship as your base. JAX FAX visited seven Greek islands, Turkish ports and Athens on Louis Cruises in July, seeing first-hand the local culture, quaint island villages, ancient ruins and swimming in the pristine Aegean Sea. The seven-day Louis Cruises’ Idyllic Aegean cruise program was experienced onboard the Louis Cristal, a 480-cabin ship with two restaurants, two bars, a cafe, casino and amenities like a pool and jacuzzi, gym, spa and massage room, duty free shop and medical center. With so many excursions at each port to experience, however, it is the destination that takes center stage.
Here’s the scoop on Croatia. The country has fabulous ice cream. Don’t worry about the calories. You’ll burn them off climbing the steep cliffs along the scenic Dalmatian Coast or walking the national park paths and the medieval cobblestone streets. One thing you need to know: those ancient towns like Sibenik (pronounced Shiv-n-eek) and Split are stony and steep with lots of steps. Exploring them is like working out on a Middle Ages Stairmaster. But do it, because they are fascinating places.