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Fun Travels in Central and South America 

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Belize
Chile
Costa Rica
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Mexico
Peru
South America

NEWS

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Jam-Packed With Things to do and see and - is Gorgeous

G6 Hospitality Breaks Ground On New Estudio 6 Property in Puerto Vallarta

Quito Named Leading South American Destination at World Travel Awards

Tropic, Purveyor of Extraordinary Experiences, Invites Guests in Quito to Visit Artist Who Connects Dots between Colonial Past and Now

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba Opens In Peru's Sacred Valley of the Incas

Immerse Yourself in Romance on the Sea of Cortez at Luxurious CostaBaja Resort & Spa

Only 30 Percent of Cerulean Warbler Population Remains:
Ten-Year Landscape Conservation Initiative in Colombia Aims to Help Reverse Declines 

Ecuador’s Tropic Adds Second Train Journey To Portfolio of How to Discover The Andes and its People

Class Adventure Travel Launches New Tours to the Esteros Del Iberá Wetlands

There's So Much More to Peru Beyond Machu Picchu -- Vaya Adventures Invites Travelers To Venture ‘Beyond Machu Picchu’ For Seldom-Seen Wonders

Visit Cabo San Lucas hotels

There's lots happening in Belize.

ARGENTINA

Where to Stay

Faena Hotel + UNIVERSE

The FAENA HOTEL+UNIVERSE encompasses restaurants, bars, theater spaces, an exceptional wine cellar, world-class spa, 110 guest rooms and suites. It is the heart of Buenos Aires' burgeoning Faena Art District.

Faena Hotel + Universe is currently offering a few travel packages (mentioned below). If you are interested in making arrangements, please call 54 11 4010 9000 or visit www.faenahotelanduniverse.com

HONEYMOON PACKAGE:
Wedding season is upon us again. Whether you are looking for a luxurious retreat after a stressful wedding OR an adventurous honeymoon filled with new experiences, the opulent and seductive Faena Hotel + Universe in Buenos Aires holds all the solutions. Added to the heat and passion that the city is known for… This is a honeymoon that will certainly fan the flames of romance and desire.

With a choice of two decadently appointed suites, plus sumptuous couples treatments at Faena’s world-class spa, gourmet meals and cocktails at the hotel’s lavish restaurants and bars and even a decadent night at El Cabaret to see the renowned and sexy Rojo Tango show, the Faena Honeymoon package offers unrivaled service with an eye for custom details. Even before you check-in your own personal Experience Manager will help to arrange all details of the wedding night and days to follow according to your specific instruction, even providing creative suggestions to help make your trip extraordinary.

Package Includes:

Chauffer driver airport transfers
Deluxe accommodation in The Porteno Suite or Tower Suite
Honeymoon floral arrangement
Champagne and sweets turndown service
Three-course dinner for two in El Bistro with Argentine wines
Floral Lovers Bath: Aphrodisiac bath in a marble Jacuzzi surrounded with candles and rose petals followed by a massage for two
Breakfast in bed (or in El Mercado)
Complimentary access to the Gym, Swimming Pool, Sauna and Hammam
Chauffer driven car at your disposition for 3 hours to tour the city of Buenos Aires

Rate in El Porteno Suite- $1100 + 21% tax per night (2 night minimum stay)
Rate in Tower Suite- $2100 + 21% tax per night (2 night minimum stay)

FAENA DREAMS:
Achieving a state of equilibrium is vital to a good night’s sleep. You're invited to open your session with a restful pause in the Relaxation Room, where you can also enjoy a variety of cold infusions, fruit and nuts. Next you bask in the Sauna and Hammam to eliminate any toxins that have accumulated during the day and to prepare your skin for a soothing Aromatherapy massage with deliciously-scented sleep-enhancing Lavender and Melissa oils. To finish, a session of Pranic Healing will balance your Base Chakra and neutralize any remaining restlessness.
Approx. Duration: 4 to 5hrs AR$850 (US$265)

BELIZE

Where to Stay

Hotel Del Rio Makes A Splash With Its New "Best Dive Deal" Package

Travelers can save on their next underwater exploration with Hotel del Rio's new "Best Dive Deal." Located just half a mile from the Belize Barrier Reef – the second largest barrier reef in the world, Hotel del Rio offers a special package that provides guests with five days worth of diving accommodations when booking a seven night reservation. The "Best Dive Offer" costs $647 per person and includes overnight stays in a beachfront cabana, and transportation to and from the San Pedro airport. For more information, visit www.ambergriscaye.com/hoteldelrio.

Belize Conquers the Inconceivable: Affordable, Exotic and Fun Family Travel – For Under $75/Night

Families frantically searching for affordable and fun summer travel options will find Belize as their perfect escape, as the destination is offering stays for less than $75 per night – with each hotel promising good value, comfort and entertainment for the entire family. As one of the hottest emerging family destinations on the travel scene, Belize features an extensive selection of affordable hotel options, which can be accessed at Belize's Toucan Trail website, www.ToucanTrail.com. An assortment of hotels of this caliber is listed below, with rooms available for $75 or less per night, and enough activities to avoid boredom complaints from the kids:

Caye Caulker
Jaguar Morning Star Guest House: Named by Travel + Leisure as one of the emerging and affordable beach destinations for 2009, Caye Caulker is ideal for those families looking to enjoy a beach vacation with tons of activities for both parents and kids. Jaguar Morning Star Guest House sits in the middle of Caye Caulker, and is a short walk from the market, beach, restaurants and water activities including kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, manatee tours, windsurfing and has bike rentals on-site. Rising above the other roof tops, the rooms at this guest house have spectacular views of both the sunrise and the sunset over the water, and offer a constant breeze throughout the day.
• Price: $45 – $60USD per night
• Telephone: 011.501.226.0347 (ask for Allison or Joanne)
• Email: joanne@btl.net
• Website: www.jaguarmorningstar.com

Da Real Macaw: Located right on one of the sandy beaches of Caye Caulker, featuring thatched-roof cabanas, and beach-front porches Da Real Macaw is a beach family's dream come true. The property features rooms, cabanas, condos and apartments all located within 60 yards of the blue Caribbean Sea. From Adirondack chairs set out on the beach and hammocks swaying in the cool Caribbean breeze to wireless internet and cable TV, this guest house offers everything a family could want in either a traditional or modern summer beach vacation.
• Price: beachfront rooms and cabanas are available from $20 - $70USD per night • Telephone: 011.501.226.0459
• Email: derealmacaw@yahoo.com
• Website: www.derealmacaw.biz

Hopkins Village
Hopkins Inn:
Families desiring a laid-back, relaxing vacation will love this little inn tucked away under coconut trees and red hibiscus hedges, located right on the beach of Hopkins Village. Hopkins Inn's cabanas offer comfy beds, locally-made furniture and lots of windows to admire the picturesque Belizean landscape. The high, hardwood ceilings of each cabana gives off a cool and airy feeling capable of melting anyone's stress away. As with Jaguar Morning Star, Hopkins Inn offers water activities such as snorkeling, diving, canoeing, fishing and windsurfing, but also is located on the mainland which gives families the option of hiking, birding, inland tours and the chance to experience more of the Belizean culture.
• Price: starting at $49USD per night and includes breakfast
• Telephone: 011.501.523.7283
• Email: hopkinsinn@btl.net
• Website: www.hopkinsinn.com

Placencia
Sea Spray Hotel:
Twenty beachfront rooms and one cabana staggered along the Placencia shoreline form this cozy, family-friendly hotel. A variety of rooms are offered featuring double and single beds, ceiling fans, private showers, refrigerators, coffee makers, beach decks and hammocks overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Nearby, De Tatch Seafood Beach Bar & Grill serves some of the best cuisine in Placencia and offers Internet & email services. A variety of land and sea tours can be arranged by this family-owned and operated hotel and special rates make the rooms even more affordable throughout the summer.
• Price: $20 – $55USD per night
• Telephone: 011.501.523.3148
• Email: info@seasprayhotel.com
• Website: www.seasprayhotel.com

Cayo District
Midas Resort:
Located in the heart of the Cayo District, Midas Resort offers a lush jungle property with tons of family adventure opportunities, both on and off site. The resort has cottages, cabanas, casitas and suites available for families to enjoy a relaxing evening, following a full day of adventure in the Cayo district. Breathtaking Maya ruins tower above the tree tops, giving families the chance to experience educational trips together, while winding jungle rivers let visitors take exciting river rafting and tubing rides to cool off. Then, just few minutes away, the town of San Ignacio also offers families horseback riding, birding, butterfly farms, and jungle treks.
• Price: $49 – $79USD per night
• Telephone: 011.501.824.3172
• Email: info@midasbelize.com
• Website: www.midasbelize.com

Ka’ana Boutique Resort & Spa -- New Luxury Resort

Nestled in a valley between the Maya Mountains of Belize’s Cayo District, Ka’ana Boutique Resort & Spa opened its doors in April 2010.

Ideally located just outside San Ignacio near cultural, historical and eco-adventure attractions, Ka’ana Boutique Resort & Spa offers breathtaking scenery and luxurious accommodations. The boutique resort features 15 first-class cottages with spacious sitting area, LCD TV, large private bathroom and peaceful veranda.

Luxury resort amenities include La Ceiba, the resort’s fine dining restaurant; The Frieze Lounge and Wine Cellar, a popular attraction to both guests and local residents; and Ka’ana’s petite spa, which offers an assortment of massages and treatments to help guests relax and unwind.

Catering to those seeking both world-class accommodations and adventure, Ka’ana Boutique Resort & Spa also offers guests fully guided excursions to nearby rainforests, Mayan ruins and nature reserves. Tours include hiking, canoeing, bird watching, caving, horseback riding, mountain biking, etc. and can be tailored to fit the preferences of each guest.

With a perfect balance of luxury, adventure and relaxation, Ka’ana Boutique Resort & Spa is a haven for travelers seeking the ultimate Belizean experience. Located just 70 miles outside of Belize City, Ka’ana Boutique Resort & Spa offers 15 first class cottages, a swimming pool, gourmet restaurant and petite spa.

What to Do & See Plus Specials

Belize Sailing Vacations Expand Fleet To Include New Luxury Catamarans

Travelers looking to explore Belize in style will enjoy Belize Sailing Vacations’ newest expansion, which adds three new luxury catamarans to its fleet. These catamarans feature new and fully decorated double cabins that include private in-suite showers, air conditioning, large sitting areas and hardwood floors. The catamarans are also fully equipped with deck lounges, fishing rods and tackle, snorkeling equipment, kayaks, beach equipment and more. For more information about Belize Sailing Vacations, visit www.belizesailingvacations.com.

Belize Becoming Mecca for Family Edu-cations -- Five reasons why the destination is a top choice for family fun while learning

As one of the world's only Caribbean destinations rich in natural beauty both on land and at sea, Belize is quickly becoming known as one of the hottest places for family edu-cations. This new travel trend highlights getaways for families that offer unique learning experiences, embedded in the destination's rich culture and everyday life. From the cultural center of Punta Gorda, where Maya life is still alive and well, to the animal sanctuaries and expeditions of the central and northern regions, Belize offers distinctive learning opportunities sure to astound parents and children alike. The following is a list of the top five family edu-cations found in Belize:

Ancient Civilizations Brought Back to Life

The Maya Village Homestay program offers travelers the opportunity to stay with a Maya family and learn the customs of the ancient Maya culture. Visitors who take advantage of this cultural exchange program experience harvesting corn, working in the fields, making tortillas and cleaning laundry in the creek. Currently, there are over 20 families participating in the program, scattered throughout three local villages near Punta Gorda in Belize's southern region.

Be One With Belize's Butterflies and Iguanas

The lush tropical forests of San Ignacio house animal sanctuaries unlike any other destination. Nestled on the grounds of the Chaa Creek Resort in the Cayo District, the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm allows visitors to tour and observe every stage of a butterfly's life cycle, offering an unmatched interactive learning experience. Nearby at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, the Iguana Project aids and creates awareness for the threatened green iguana. Local and visiting families have the opportunity to interact with the resident iguanas before they are released back into the wild, in an effort to repopulate the riverbanks of Belize. 

Play Tag with a Crocodile

Families looking for a thrilling nighttime adventure will find just that in Lamanai Outpost Lodge's Crocodile Encounter. A two-hour guided tour after sunset allows families to cruise by airboat across the New River and experience crocodile catching and tagging with local researchers. The skilled guides even allow guests to assist with the data collection, used to expand our knowledge of the Morelet crocodile.

Explore Under the Surface

In Belize, exotic habitats found in the Caribbean Sea are never more than moments away. The Southwater Caye Marine Park is an ideal snorkeling and scuba diving location due to its close proximity to the mainland and incredible biodiversity that awaits explorers. Studied by the Smithsonian Institute for the past 30 years, the park covers approximately 62 square miles of blue Caribbean Sea and vibrant barrier reef. Families can scuba dive or snorkel along the unbroken stretch of the reef, which includes 10 major cayes, stalagmites, stalactites and a wealth of marine life and colorful coral wherever they turn.

Enjoy a Chocolate Experience Unlike Any Other

Cotton Tree Lodge provides a hands-on workshop designed to give families a practical education on processing cacao to make chocolate. Children and parents can work their way through the entire process of making their favorite sweets, from scratch, starting with the cacao fruit on the tree and ending with the chocolate in their mouths. If families would like to turn this into a weeklong event, the lodge also offers a package that revolves around the Cacao festival in Toledo, during which visitors will learn local Mayan chocolate preparation techniques, attend lectures on the history and politics of chocolate, meet members of the Toledo Cacao Grower's Association and attend a chocolate making workshop.

For more information on how you can be one with Belize, visit www.travelbelize.org.

CHILE

PATAGONIA

Where to Stay

Patagonia Connections--At the Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa

offers guests the rare opportunity to discover three pristine water sources all in one place. The three waters that converge here are: seawater from the Pacific Ocean, hot spring water bubbling up from the very core of the earth, and pure, crystalline water flowing abundantly from the falls near the lodge. At the all inclusive Puyuhuapi Lodge and Spa enjoy full body water treatments, skin treatments such as the Thalatherm, and three types of full body messages including the famous Puyuhuapi Massage, which incorporates various techniques such as, Thai, Quiro, or Indian with added aroma therapy to solidify the sense of spiritual and physical well being. Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa is situated in a tranquil sea inlet of the Ventisquero Sound, accessible only by sea within the protected shore of Dorita Bay, in Southern Chile. Despite its extreme remote location, the lodge offers all that is expected from a small luxury hotel: fine cuisine, comfortable accommodation and friendly service. Patagonia Connection offers an all inclusive four night “Body and Soul” Spa package.

In the solitude of the Americas, in a land yet to be tamed, and where nature is still pristine, find an unexpected destination…Puyuhuapi Lodge & SPA. Travel along the Austral Road, winding through a landscape of unique beauty cradled in the ever-present Andes Mountains. Upon arrival settle into a choice of 32 rooms and cabins which have been carefully designed and crafted from local timber, most with balconies and panoramic views of the bay or forest. Venture into an uninhabited space of wild beauty, rivers, waterfalls, and mountains, where birds, porpoises, and sea lions roam. Walk through the dense forests, visit the Queulat National Park with its Hanging Glacier, ride bicycle along the Austral Road, or explore the Dorita Bay in a boat or kayak. Spend a day on a Sea adventure aboard the luxurious Patagonia Express catamaran through the austral fjords, which lead to the San Rafael Lagoon, home to millenarian glacier. The complete spa offers a large hydro-massage pool, Jacuzzis, spring-water fountain, steam sauna, thalassotherapy sessions, relaxation massages, facials, and other treatments.

Patagonia Connection offers five amazing adventure packages.

Unspoiled Fly Fishing in the Solitude of the America’s

Puyuhuapi Lodge and Spa delivers experiences in a place of wild beauty. Its unique fly fishing program provides access to pristinely clear, gin colored salt and fresh waters that are rarely fished. The extensively trained professional fly fishing guides of Patagonia Connection can deliver rainbow and brown trout as well as salmon. In a land yet to be tamed, and where nature is still pure, travelers find an unexpected destination in Puyuhuapi Lodge & SPA, which is surrounded by fjords, native forests, waterfalls, mountains and glaciers. .

Connect with the Solitude of Patagonia

Experience the amazing Solitude of Patagonia with Patagonia Connection’s PC4 Package-Puyuhuapi's Secret. The four night, three day tour begins in the Aysen Region with the crossing of the Patagonian pampas to reach the city of Coyhaique for a quick lunch. The tour continues along the Austral Road with its extraordinary landscapes of ever green forest, great diversity and very few inhabitants. Here guests begin to understand the unique solitude this adventure provides. For the next two days discover Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa, surrounded by lush vegetation, and accessible only by sea, this remote lodge is where understated luxury and well planned simplicity combine to create a unique atmosphere. The lodge offers a variety of fascinating excursions in the rainforest and the Queulat National Park. Guests can wind down in the outdoor hot spring pools at the edge of the sea or in a full-service spa which includes a hydro massage pool. For the last full day board the Patagonia Express catamaran for a seven hour journey through the austral fjords on the way to the San Rafael Lagoon, home to a millenarian glacier.

For more information, check web site www.patagonia-connection.com.

COSTA RICA

What to See & Do

GOLFITO

An old steam locomotive sits silently on the edge of a majestic jungle. Remnants of the past remain in Golfito, but so do the building blocks for a promising future. The quiet town of Golfito, once a bustling port for Chiquita Banana, is moving out from behind the shadow of the now-gone banana company days to become the next adventure frontier in Costa Rica.

Jim Lynskey, Miami native and visionary developer, knows this to be true. During visits to the area, Lynskey was struck by the intense beauty of Golfito. The thriving rainforest, thickly forested hills, pristine beaches, calm waters and fresh, clean air enchanted him, later inspiring his selection of the town as the site for Bahia Escondida Bayside Residences, Marina Village and Yacht Club.

Located on the country's South Pacific Coast, Bahia Escondida is set in the midst of one of the most bio-diverse areas on the planet, as recognized by National Geographic. The beautiful nature surrounding the site, with its rich wildlife and adventure opportunities, summons eco-travelers and sport fishing enthusiasts alike. World-class fishing is a prime attraction, with an abundance of Pacific sailfish, marlin, dorado, tuna and in-shore species to be found in the local waters.

With only 450 residential units and a state-of-the-art, 217-slip marina, Bahia Escondida aims to preserve all that makes the area special by having a low-impact on the surrounding environment.

Looking Back

Built in the late 1930s by the United Fruit Company, now known as Chiquita Brands, Golfito enjoyed a magnificent heyday as the centerpiece of the banana production industry during much of the 20th century. Over ninety percent of the country's banana exports, in fact, were grown and distributed from Golfito's quiet shores during the 1950s.

Chosen by United Fruit executives for its calm, deep waters, Golfito provided a safe, natural harbor for loading the fruit company's Great White Fleet of banana boats, aptly named for their fresh white paint, which reflected the sun?s hot, tropical rays.
As United Fruit witnessed continued success in its Golfito operations, the company invested heavily in the construction of new roads, homes, schools, banks and hospitals, and with the help of the Atlantic Railroad, a project originally started in 1871 by one of United Fruit's founders, Golfito was transformed from a vast wilderness to a true banana republic.

In 1984, more than four decades after United Fruit made Golfito its home, the prosperous banana producer closed its facilities, which led, in turn, to economic hardship throughout the area. Subsequently, in 1990 after almost a century of service, the Atlantic Railroad was indefinitely suspended, due to further financial losses.

Moving Towards a Bright Future

The future of Golfito is now closely tied to the development of the new Bahia Escondida. The project will not only provide a unique luxury retreat for tourists but will also benefit the town financially by revitalizing its local economy. Jim Lynskey, the original visionary and president of Bahia Escondida's holding company, Hacienda El Dorado, says it best: "My mission is to help preserve and develop the area and to show the world all that Golfito has to offer, while simultaneously generating a source of income for the local people."

The first phase of the project, spanning a total of forty acres, will offer a new, high-tech marina and an enchanting waterfront village of shops, galleries and restaurants, all reminiscent of an authentic tropical plantation town. Also along the waterfront, luxury residential units will overlook the bay, where residents will enjoy first-class amenities such as the private yacht club, spa, fitness center, and sparkling pools.

The village's grand wraparound porches look out over a serene blue harbor. Palm trees sway softly in the light wind, while sport fishermen board their vessels for yet another excellent day of fishing. Gabled roofs and angled bay windows greet visitors at every turn. This peaceful atmosphere is the heart of Bahia Escondida and the embodiment of the Costa Rican mantra "Pura Vida," or "Pure Life."

Residents and visitors can enjoy life's simple pleasures at their own pace.
Future phases of the project will bring construction of the final 300 residential units. These one- to three- bedroom units will be set along a centrally located park, surrounded by priceless views of Costa Rica's lush, tropical rainforest and towering verdant mountains dotted with banana trees.

With a concierge service ready to coordinate excursions, airport transport and other exclusive conveniences for the residents and slip members, pleasure yachters and adventurers alike will surely be drawn to this charming retreat.

For more information, please visit www.becostarica.com or call 1-866-50-BAHIA.

Where to Stay

Rio Parismina Lodge Celebrated Its 25th Year!

SYes, there is no need to shovel snow! Here in beautiful Costa Rica there are sunny skies, lots of bait fish in the river mouths and beautiful flowering trees that line the banks of the Parismina and Pacuare rivers. The rivers are clear now and there is a lot of river action. The feisty Machacas are hungry and aggressively feeding. The Tarpon are schooling and are searching for those tasty sardines.

The Snook have been active too! Francisco, one of the resort's senor guides, and Melvin's son, Roy, landed over 22 Snook the other day. None of these wily Snook were giants, but a lot of fun on medium light tackle!

Dates are filling up fast, call 1-800-338-5688 to reserve your dates, or call your booking agent today. You can also email at jheidt@riop.com

LA FORTUNA/ARENAL

Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

Newly renovated in 2006 with a new spa set among the hot springs, Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort is also a new member of Leading Hotels of the World and a recipient of the four-leaf designation for Sustainable Tourism. The only "Leading Spa of the World" in Central America and a winner of Luxury SpaFinder's Reader' Choice Award, the Grand Spa has 11 outdoor treatment bungelows, a Yoga Studio, and an extensive menu of indigenous treatments including treatments in outdoor thermal river pools.

A three-unit Temazcal surrounded by the energy of the nearby Arenal volcano is overseen by the resort's own shaman. Individual bungalows; couples bungalows; and a special 'all-day bungalow' for adults or families, including meals and treatments, are offered. The resort's new Mexican chef shines with his signature private Gala Dinner in a private rainforest bungalow.

For more information check web site www.tabacon.com or call 011-506-519-1900.

ECUADOR

What to See & Do

Quito Named Leading South American Destination at World Travel Awards

World Travel Awards (WTA) – widely regarded as the “Oscars of the Travel Industry” – has named Quito, Ecuador the “Leading South American Destination” for the third year in a row. Winners in WTA’s Latin America travel categories were revealed on Oct. 10, 2015 at a ceremony in Bogota, Colombia; voters included travel industry members and travelers from around the world.

Quito Tourism, the government entity responsible for the promotion of Ecuador’s capital as a tourism destination, proactively campaigned for the award via media campaigns in Ecuador, Canada, the USA, Mexico and Europe, as well as on its web site at www.quito.com.ec.

Quito, which experienced an 8.5% increase in tourism arrivals from 2013 to 2014, also received numerous awards for its infrastructure. In addition to the top award, the Ecuadorian capital won for “South America’s Leading Airport” (Mariscal Sucre International Airport); “South America's Leading Luxury Train 2015” (Tren Crucero); “Ecuador’s Leading Boutique Hotel” (Hotel Plaza Grande); “Ecuador's Leading Hotel” (Swissôtel Quito); and “Ecuador's Leading Hotel Suite” (Presidential Suite @ Swissôtel Quito). Ecuador was also awarded WTA’s “South America's Leading Green Destination 2015” designation.

Mauricio Rodas Espinel, Mayor of the City of Quito, and Luz Elena Coloma, General Manager at Quito Tourism, were both on hand in Bogota to receive the top award. Quito will now enter the competition for WTA’s “Leading World Destination,” where it will vie against other world-class destinations such as New York, Rio de Janeiro and London. That ceremony is scheduled to take place on Nov. 8 and voting is still open at >www.worldtravelawards.com

Quito has received numerous accolades in recent months, including being named one of TripAdvisor’s Recommended Destinations, a distinction given to only 15 of the destinations included in the awards. The city also came in at number 11 on the site’s Top 25 Destinations -- South America list. In addition, “International Living” magazine named Quito one of the top three cities with the “Best Climate in the World,” and the city was lauded as one of 20 “Rising Stars” destinations worldwide in the 2015 Gogobot Awards.

It is also noteworthy that the Quito was a finalist in 2014’s New7Wonders Cities competition.

About World Travel Awards
World Travel Awards celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year and is acknowledged across the globe as the ultimate travel accolade. The brand aims to celebrate those organizations that are pushing the boundaries of industry excellence. The World Travel Awards global media partner network includes International New York Times, TV5Monde, CNBC Arabiya, Outlook Traveller, Khaleej Times, TTN, Best in Travel, Breaking Travel News and Travel Daily News International. World Travel Awards has a television audience of 300 million spread across 200 countries, while also reaching hundreds of thousands of print and digital readers each month through an extensive network of global media partners.

Follow on:  @visitQuito @VisitQuito 
For more information on Quito, please www.quito.com.ec/en/

Tropic, Purveyor of Extraordinary Experiences, Invites Guests in Quito to Visit Artist Who Connects Dots between Colonial Past and Now

Tropic’s “May We Introduce You” campaign spotlights ways to experience Quito (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) concierge-style that now includes a tour of Sara Palacios House and Art Gallery. Here Tropic’s guests may see exhibitions of local artists’ work vetted for quality and expressive power and thus some of the most interesting artwork being created in Quito.

While visiting guests are invited to play in the clay with a Quitena artist, Sara Palacios, whose work is linked with Quito Colonial Art. Guests tour her expansive garden with sculptures from a personal collection representing her efforts to preserve and restore the cultural and historic identity of Quito, something she has dedicated herself to for over 30 years.

To reach the workshop guests travel by taxi (approximately $20) to the rural parish of Nayón in northeast of Quito. Nayón has preserved its traditional ambiance thanks to a population that was isolated from its larger urban neighbor. Inhabitants here used to be the capariches: traders, street cleaners, transporters and distributors of water to the local population in the outskirts of Quito. Today the neighborhood is known for growing and selling decorative plants from all parts of Ecuador.

The Spanish Colonial home and workshop here overlook the countryside. In the garden the artist combined the conservation of trees and plants endemic to the area: guabo, faique, carob, walnut and fruit trees. Sprinkled among the living sculptures are her clay sculptures inspired by historic indigenous artifacts.

“For those with a more than passing interest in the arts this is an opportunity to learn at the hands of a master craftswoman,” says Jascivan Carvalho, Tropic’s owner and CEO. “A relaxed visit here is a very pleasant way to learn about the intricacies of sculpture in clay, and you will have an opportunity to view the artist’s two workshops.”

The first workshop Sara calls “muddy” and is where she produces sculptures in clay that arrives daily from different regions of Ecuador. Under her supervision guests will handle the clay and by following step-by-step instructions will create a small piece using the string or plate techniques. The second is the clean workshop where she uses techniques such as painting, printmaking, drawing and where she writes poetry in her spare time.

During the visit guests are invited to participate in ‘The Cathedral Spheres’, an exercise based on the artist’s reading of the legends, characters and images of the city and on the original spheres located in Quito’s Metropolitan Cathedral. The spheres offer an insight into how indigenous craftsmen managed to turn their work into a spontaneous and creative game, one that Sara has re-created. It’s an opportunity to link visitors intimately to the city and allow them to become part of its lore and historical presence.

Carvalho suggests that after “The Cathedral Spheres” guests visit the atrium of the Metropolitan Cathedral located in the Plaza de la Independencia in Quito’s colonial center to find their own spheres.

Concluding the visit is a sampling of ‘tamal’, typical of the city of Cuenca, a treat made from roasted corn flour pastry wrapped in Achira leaves. This is based on a homemade recipe handed down to the artist by her grandmother.

For more information please check web site www.destinationecuador.com/sara-palacios-art-gallery.html. The half-day tour is priced at $50 per person and can be booked through Tropic. The company’s “May We Introduce You” series of experiences may also lead Quito visitors to a high-end equestrian boot manufacturer, a gourmet cooking class and to an award-winning chocolatier.

About Tropic
Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability. Tropic is the 2015 recipient of National Geographic Society’s World Legacy Award in the category of Engaging Communities.

For information and reservations contact: Tropic / Phone: +593-02-2234-594 / 202. 657.5072 (US) / 593. 2. 222. 5907 (EC) / US Toll-free: 1.888.207.8615 / Website: www.destinationecuador.com.

Only 30 Percent of Cerulean Warbler Population Remains:
Ten-Year Landscape Conservation Initiative in Colombia Aims to Help Reverse Declines 

A ten-year effort carried out by three conservation groups has led to the establishment of a critical six-mile long by half-mile wide conservation corridor in Colombia that provides important winter habitat for the iconic Cerulean Warbler, a small but spectacular bird that has seen its population plummet 70 percent since 1966.

The effort was led by American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a leading U.S. bird conservation group; Fundación ProAves, one of the leading conservation groups in Colombia; and Fondo para la Acción Ambiental y la Niñez, a Colombian organization that focuses on community, youth, and environmental projects.

Nearly 3,000 acres of land were reforested to connect existing habitat, using 500,000 seedlings of 26 native species grown in nurseries established in the nearby Cerulean Warbler and Pauxi Pauxi bird reserves. More than 220 private landowners participated in the project by planting shade trees on their coffee and cocoa farms and cattle ranches.


The tree planting provides a “habitat bridge” between the two protected areas and targeted coffee and cocoa farms as well as planting native shade trees to promote more canopy cover. Silvopasture practices—the planting of trees in otherwise open cattle pastures—were used to benefit the health of cattle and business productivity as well as provide tree cover for birds. Eighteen conservation easements, the first in Colombia, were used to conserve remnant patches of native forest.

This initiative provides a protective corridor of habitat for a host of birds between the Yariquíes National Park, where the Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve is located, and the Cerro de la Paz mountain, where the Pauxi Pauxi Reserve is located.
Expeditions by ProAves to document the flora and fauna of the region supported the creation of the Yariguíes National Park, covering 194,810 acres, in 2005. In the same year, ProAves established a nearby 545-acre private Cerulean Warbler Reserve, and then in 2007, founded the Pauxi Pauxi Reserve, which is now 4,470 acres.

Background on Cerulean Warbler

The initiative was driven by the 70 percent decline in population of the Cerulean Warbler over the last 50 years. The species was formerly one of the most abundant breeding warblers in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. It’s now one of the most imperiled migrant songbirds in the Western Hemisphere.

Cerulean Warblers winter in the northern Andes in South America and breed from the Great Lakes region to Georgia and west from Wisconsin to Louisiana, with particular concentrations in the Appalachians and the hardwood forest regions of Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

Conservation work on the breeding grounds in the Midwest and Appalachia have helped the Cerulean Warbler, but as the birds lose winter habitat in Latin America, their declines have continued. The Cerulean Warbler isn’t the only bird in trouble. Declines have been noted for decades for many species of North American migratory birds that winter in Latin America, including Broad-winged Hawk, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Upland Sandpiper.

More than 150 Bird Species Benefit

The new conservation corridor initiative protects and preserves critical habitat for more than 150 species of birds including many migrants, such as the Golden-winged Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Canada Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstart, Swainson’s Warbler, and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. In addition, it provides habitat for the Gorgeted Wood-quail and Mountain Grackle, two species found only in Colombia and considered globally endangered, among numerous other endemic and threatened species.

This project includes a component to measure biodiversity success, such as changes in the population of Cerulean Warbler and Gorgeted Wood-quail. Currently, monitoring protocols are in place for reforestation of forest cover change using satellite imagery, which will indicate how much habitat has been created. This information will feed into the next phase of nurturing the growth of trees that have been planted and planning for the tripling of the corridor in the years to come.

This overall effort has occurred thanks to many partner organizations and donors, including Amos W. Butler Audubon, Elisha Mitchell Audubon, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, Southern Wings, Fondo para la Acción Ambiental y la Niñez, and others.

www.abcbirds.org/---American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere’s bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

www.proaves.org/-- Fundación ProAves was formed in 1998 out of the initiative of a group of dedicated Colombian conservationists interested in saving the Yellow-eared Parrot. The species was thought to be extinct until a small group of 81 were found in the Colombian Andes. Thanks to efforts by ProAves and others, the species’ population has now grown to over 2,000 birds. ProAves’ mission remains to protect birds and their habitats in Colombia through research, conservation actions, and community outreach.

Ecuador’s Tropic Adds Second Train Journey To Portfolio of How to Discover The Andes and its People

Ecuador’s award-winning ecotourism company, Tropic, recently added a second train to its portfolio of ways to explore Ecuador.

Called Tren de la Libertad (Freedom Train), the new route highlights landscapes in and around Otavalo, a market town rife with produce, animals, textiles and handicrafts as well as the smiles and chatter of its mainly indigenous people, the Quichua. Since pre-Inca days, Otavalo has been an important crossroads to the Andes; now this is where 28 guests may access the train for a high-altitude adventure pulled by a modern electro-diesel locomotive.

As with Ecuador’s other famous train, Tren Crucero (Cruise Train), a colonial motif presides surrounding cushioned seats and large windows for viewing. Tren Crucero, entered Tropic’s portfolio in 2013 offering a four-day/three-night journeys from Quito to Quayquil on the Pacific coast. See www.destinationecuador.com/quito-ecuador-train-tour.html

The trip embracing Tren de la Libertad spans two days and one night at $640 per person double. This includes transfers to and from Quito to meet and depart the train and sightseeing transfers enroute, a hosted tea, lunches, accommodation for one night and guide services. See www.destinationecuador.com/ecuador-otavalo-culture.html

On Day 1 guests are chauffeured early morning from Quito; in just over 90 minutes they climb 2,000 meters to 3,200 feet above sea level and into mountain ranges spliced with valleys that have been tilled for centuries. Arriving in Otavalo, guests may visit one of the country’s most visited sites, the craft market held daily at the foot of Mount Imbabura. Lunch follows in the artisan town of Cotacachi, famous for leather work and for Cuicocha Lake, a crater lake at the foot of Cotacachi Volcano.

Afternoon tea follows at Casa Mojanda Mountainside Inn overlooking Otavalo in the foothills of Mount Mojanda. An on-own dinner precedes bon nuit. This eco lodge offers bungalows constructed with adobe, non-endangered tree species and other sustainable materials. From here guests may hike to the lakes of Mojanda, horseback ride and mountain bike.

Day 2 brings guests by van and train from Otavalo to Ibarra and Salinas, waving enroute to people displaying handicrafts and textiles in the indigenous towns of Peguche, Quinchuqui and Iluman. The first stop is San Roque where from fiber derived from an agave, pita fiber bags are traditionally made for the transportation and storage of coffee and cocoa (sent by train to Guayaquil during the agro exportation boom of the mid-20th century). Andrade Marin is a short stop for a visit to the Textile Museum of the old Imbabura Factory, a faithful testament to the Industrial Revolution in Ecuador and its legacy for defending workers’ rights. Additional passengers board during the stop at Ibarra station enroute to Salinas. While descending 600 meters, passengers come to understand that building – by hand -- the tunnels and bridges through this turbulent landscape was an engineering miracle. 

Crops, cattle farms and stands of sugarcane zip by before a short stop at the Hoja Blanca Station to visit the Yachay interpretation centre, in the “city of knowledge”. Upon arriving in Salinas, guests enjoy a presentation of Afro-Ecuadorian dance with “Bomba” music, traditional to the “Valle del Chota” area. A hosted lunch featuring regional preparations and ingredients follows before an escorted drive back to Quito.

About Tropic
Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability. Tropic was the honored recipient of National Geographic Society’s 2015 National Geographic World Legacy Award for its work with Engaging Communities in both the Amazon and Galapagos.

For information and reservations contact: Tropic / Phone: 593. 2. 2401 748 (EC) / 1.888.207.8615 Website: www.destinationecuador.com/

Ecuador’s Tropic Teams with Pack for a Purpose -- To Bring Children’s Books to Remote Sites

Ecuador’s award-winning ecotourism company, Tropic: Destination Ecuador, is creating libraries for children in two diverse and remote communities that visitors may engage with while exploring Ecuador. Two libraries will be established in Ecuador’s Amazon jungle for children of the Huaorani, an indigenous people that until 1956 had no contact with the outside world. A third library will serve the Floreana Island community in the Galapagos.

Tropic helped to establish with the Huaorani community the Huaorani Ecolodge in Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Here an ancient and endangered people involve their community in showcasing for visitors their ancient traditions. Some 50+ children will have access to the two libraries.

Tropic’s interests in the Galapagos include a community-driven effort to encourage sustainable tourism here through, in part, Floreana Lava Lodge. Tropic will provide bookcases and other library-related furniture to create the Akinta Children Library.  It is the mission of Tropic, an award winning ecotourism company founded in Quito in 1994, to demonstrate that environmentally sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism can be a viable business model for rural and isolated communities such as those found in the Amazon and Galapagos.

To help facilitate the creation of an inventory of books, Tropic is teaming up with Pack for a Purpose, a nonprofit organization that suggests to travelers what kinds of supplies will be meaningful to bring to villages and communities they plan to visit. See: www.packforapurpose.org

Tropic’s guests can prepare for their upcoming trip and learn more about what to bring by hitting the Pack for a Purpose logo buttons on the Tropic website: www.destinationecuador.com/packforapurpose.html and on the logo link found on each individual trip page.

“We offer all visitors coming to the local communities of Floreana, Quehueri’ono and Nenkepare the opportunity to interact with local children and help build these small libraries in each community with books in English and Spanish,” said Jascivan Carvalho, Founder and President of Tropic. “We have needs in the categories of Arts and Recreation, Children's Storybooks, Early Childhood Development, Young Readers and Teenage Fiction.”

About Tropic
Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability.

For information and reservations contact: Tropic / Phone: 593. 2. 2401 748 (EC) / 1.888.207.8615 Website: www.destinationecuador.com/

Ecuadorian Reserve Expanded to Protect Last Population of Bird Species -- Protected Area Provides Lifeline for One of Earth's Rarest Birds

Fundación Jocotoco, an Ecuadorian conservation organization, has collaborated with American Bird Conservancy (ABC), and Rainforest Trust to purchase 104 acres of land that, although representing a small area, will help ensure a future for one of the world’s most endangered bird species. The purchase will expand Jocotoco’s Yunguilla Reserve in southern Ecuador’s Azuay Province, which was established in 1998 to protect critical habitat for the endangered Pale-headed Brush-finch. This bird numbers between 200 and 250 individuals and is found only in south-central Ecuador in arid areas between 5,250 and 6,890 feet in altitude.

After a 30-year disappearance, the species was rediscovered in 1998 in Ecuador’s Yunguilla Valley. At that time, the brush-finch’s total population was estimated at 30 individuals. To prevent its extinction, Jocotoco and ABC took immediate action to create the Yunguilla Reserve. The Yunguilla Valley is intensely cultivated wherever water is available, and much of the existing vegetation has been removed by grazing animals. Most of the brush-finch’s remaining habitat, which is approximately half a square mile in size, is protected within the reserve.

“We are humbled by the tremendous opportunity to protect the only known site in the country, and in fact, the globe, for this rare species. We are proud of our success to date and will maintain our vigilance to safeguard this species’ future in Ecuador,” said Rocio Merino, Executive Director of Fundación Jocotoco.

Because of intense conservation and management efforts, the reserve has successfully helped the Pale-headed Brush-finch rebound. Its population has increased significantly, and it is one of the few species in the world that has recovered from being critically endangered. Although the Yunguilla Reserve has been expanded several times since its creation, its size—380 acres before the recent purchase—offered limited carrying capacity for the Pale-headed Brush-finch.
Being restricted to a single site has left the Pale-headed Brush-finch vulnerable to external threats. Three large fires, spreading from neighboring agricultural land, have negatively impacted the survival and the reproduction rates of the species.

The recent purchase will create a new satellite protected area two miles from the present Yunguilla Reserve. Because the two areas are separated by a mountain ridge, the risks of fire affecting both sites at the same time will be greatly reduced. The sites are also connected by a water channel which will encourage the dispersal of brush-finches between them.

“Jocotoco’s effort to save the Pale-headed Brush-finch is a wonderful example of how successful wildlife conservation can be achieved with expert knowledge and dedication,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager for Rainforest Trust. “Rainforest Trust is excited to continue supporting this invaluable project as it continues to expand and develop.”

The Yunguilla Valley is one of many threatened habitats in the coastal dry forests of western Ecuador and northwestern Peru. The region is of high biological importance, containing at least 84 endemic species of birds, 19 of which are threatened with extinction.

American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere’s bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.

The Jocotoco Foundation is an Ecuadorian non-government organization established in 1998 to protect land of critical importance to the conservation of Ecuador’s endangered birds and associated biodiversity. The Foundation primarily achieves this by purchasing lands and managing them as ecological reserves. To date, the Jocotoco Foundation has established ten reserves protecting about 12,000 ha (approx 30,000 acres).

Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforest and other tropical habitats and has 85 projects across 22 countries.

Travel to the majestic Avenue of the Volcanoes in Ecuador

Formed by the clashes of the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, the Andes Mountains are a geographical accident at around 4,350 feet in length and astonish all those who have crossed it.  The impressive volcanoes on the Ecuadorean side feature Cotopaxi, a perfect snow-capped cone, the twin peaks of the Illinizas, and Chimborazo and the country's highest mountain, the summit of which is the furthest point from the center of the earth. Almost every mountain in Ecuador has a volcanic origin and some of them are permanently active.

Today, it’s possible to travel around the majestic Avenue of the Volcanoes without risk to visitors and locals and easily accessible thanks to Ecuador’s excellent highway system. Several iconic cities and attractions can be found on the road such as the UNESCO sites including Quito and Cuenca as well as The Middle of the World, Papallacta Thermal Springs, Cotopaxi National Park and numerous others. The Avenue of Volcanoes has much to offer to the outdoor enthusiast. Cotopaxi National Park is the most visited in the country, after the Galapagos Islands. Its highest point is the summit of Cotopaxi volcano, which at 19,347 feet above sea level is one of the most highly active volcanoes in the world.

Life in the Andes revolves around the traditional Andean communities, the height of the mountains and its diverse ecosystems that have determined the culture of the people who have inhabited throughout centuries in one of the most bio-diverse countries of the world. Visitors can observe a variety of flora and fauna that are unique to Ecuador. For the bold ones, adventure sports that can be practiced within the park are mountain biking, trekking and mountaineering. Another option that Cotopaxi Park offers is the visit to the thermal springs, the lake of Limpiopungo or the Pita River, which will leave anyone that admires the charm of the mountains in complete awe. This natural reserve is only two hours away from the capital; the entry is free and is open daily year-round.

Tours through the Avenue of the Volcanoes with opportunities to visit the local attractions and villages along the way are available through Destination Ecuador at www.destinationecuador.com. For more information about Ecuador, visit ecuador.travel/en.

MEXICO

CANCUN

About Cancun

Cancun is located in the northern part of the southeastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is Mexico's number one tourist destination and is known all over the world for its spectacular beaches, unique beauty and breathtaking turquoise waters.

Cancun's shoreline recently underwent a $71 Million Dollar makeover, that featured 1.3 billion gallons of sand to renovating the Hotel Zone's seashore. The most popular tourism destination in Mexico and Latin America has also added to its sun, beach, and nightlife, by creating a unique five-day route that will offer visitors a chance to experience adventure and interaction with nature. Cancun and the Treasures of the Caribbean invite travelers to discover the vast natural, cultural and gastronomical cultures of Puerto Morelos, and the four islands of the Mexican Caribbean: Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Cozumel. Cancun is a multifaceted destination that combines nature, historical Mayan Culture, glamour, luxury and world class tourism with the seduction for adventure, the passion for paradisiacal nature and the enchantment of gastronomical magic.

For more information, visit the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.cancun.travel; Twitter @CancunCVB, "LIKE” on Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cancuncvb; browse videos on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/cancuntravel and share your pictures of Cancun on Flickr site atwww.flickr.com/photos/22572360@N0760@N07/.

What to See & Do in Cancun

Cancun Is the Most Popular Choice in Mexico for Destination Weddings Among Americans

According to a recent study conducted by Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR) and the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau, of the 140,000 destination weddings held every year by Americans, Cancun is Mexico’s preferred wedding destination. 

An average of about 32 thousand American weddings are held each year in Mexico, generating almost $3 billion in economic growth, showing that Mexico is one of the fastest growing markets for destination weddings in the past years. Mexico is displacing the traditional beach wedding destinations, such as Hawaii; falling behind only by the Caribbean as the most popular destination, according to the Cancun CVB and (SECTUR).

Cancun’s popularity amongst American couples celebrating their weddings stems from the destination’s diverse tourism offerings such as: beautiful scenery, presence of specialized experienced wedding planners, perfect weather, tourism infrastructure, knowledge of the market, and its accessibility from the United States.

With such a tangible image of beach, sun, and sea, it’s no wonder Cancun is a preferred destination-not only for the bride and groom to host their nuptials-but also for the wedding party, who often consider the time away as their vacation. About 76% of couples who have destination weddings have open-air/outdoor weddings -with 56% opting for beach locations and 30% choosing resorts.

Currently, Cancun is investing in what they are calling “Romance Tourism.” With the average cost per guest at about $1,620 and the average cost for the wedding at about $18,400, equating to approximately $92,920 in total for the event; it is an excellent opportunity for Cancun and for couples planning to marry. Based on these figures, it is easy to understand how “Romance Tourism” and Destination weddings have become a $28 billion annual industry and continue to go exponentially; with more than 400% growth in the past 10 years. The growth in this segment is the result, among other things, of reasonable costs that still allow couples to add an exotic twist to the celebration.

Destination weddings are becoming more affordable than traditional weddings and are truly an unforgettable experience, not just for the bride and groom, but for all those involved.

About Cancun

Cancun is located in the northern part of the southeastern Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is Mexico’s number one tourist destination and is known all over the world for its spectacular beaches, unique beauty and breathtaking turquoise waters.

Cancun’s shoreline recently underwent a $71 Million Dollar makeover, that featured 1.3 billion gallons of sand to renovating the Hotel Zone’s seashore. The most popular tourism destination in Mexico and Latin America has also added to its sun, beach, and nightlife, by creating a unique five-day route that will offer visitors a chance to experience adventure and interaction with nature. Cancun and the Treasures of the Caribbean invite travelers to discover the vast natural, cultural and gastronomical cultures of Puerto Morelos, and the four islands of the Mexican Caribbean: Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Cozumel. Cancun is a multifaceted destination that combines nature, historical Mayan Culture, glamour, luxury and world class tourism with the seduction for adventure, the passion for paradisiacal nature and the enchantment of gastronomical magic.

For more information, visit the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.cancun.travel.

LA PAZ

Immerse Yourself in Romance on the Sea of Cortez at Luxurious CostaBaja Resort & Spa

Explore the depths of romance at stunningly beautiful CostaBaja Resort & Spa, a 5-star luxury retreat located beachside on the balmy, uniquely bio-diverse Sea of Cortez. Book two nights and enjoy a third night in this tropical paradise at no additional charge!

CostaBaja radiates romance with a sun-kissed setting on 550 acres of environmentally protected coastal lands that overlook a scenic mountain range, white-sand beach and the sparkling Sea of Cortez -- dubbed the "Aquarium of the World" for its vibrant marine life. The resort offers distinctively stylish hotel and villa accommodations with private, furnished balconies and terraces affording breathtaking views, along with exceptional service and world class amenities that include the region’s best destination spa, a 250-slip marina, Mexico’s only Gary Player-designed golf course and one of Latin America’s finest chefs.

Relax at one of the resort’s three designer pools or head out to explore the amazing Sea of Cortez, called the “Aquarium of the World” by Jacques Cousteau for its rich biodiversity. Glide by boat or kayak to nearby Espiritu Santo Island, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Bio-Reserves, where you can snorkel or dive amid schools of vibrantly colored fish and coral reefs and meet a playful colony of sea lions as enamored with you as you are with them. On land, explore ancient cave paintings dating to 10,000 B.C., experience an off-road desert excursion and visit a beautiful cactus sanctuary. Or, enjoy “Tee for Two” with a round of golf at CostaBaja’s unique, scenic Gary Player-designed course, featuring an innovative design that complements the unique desert-by-the-sea landscape while ensuring the preservation of the surrounding delicate ecosystem.

After a full day, enjoy a relaxing couples massage at the Espiritu Spa at CostaBaja. Spend the evening under a sky full of impossibly bright stars while enjoying sweeping ocean views and world-class cuisine. Onsite dining choices include Steinbecks, CostaBaja’s signature restaurant where one of Mexico’s top chefs, Alejandro Villagomez, works his culinary magic using local ingredients and seafood caught fresh daily. Inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who penned one of his books on a visit to the area, Steinbeck's is a unique open-air restaurant with an extensive range of wines from around the world and more than 400 labels of tequilas. Additional onsite dining spots include beautiful Mosaic restaurant’s indoor/outdoor breakfast buffet and additional, scenic venues at the golf club and beach and pool bars.

“Couples who stay with us,” said CostaBaja Manager Eduardo Herrera, “truly get to unwind and enjoy each other completely.”

For more information about Costabaja and its “Book Two Nights, Get One Free” offer visit www.costabajaresort.com,  call 877-392-5525 or email Tammy Petersen at Tammy@LMPInternational.com.

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, Offers Travelers Eco-Friendly Adventures on Land and at Sea

Known as the City of Peace, La Paz has become a sought-after vacation destination with travelers who want to connect with nature.  The capital city of Baja California Sur is the gateway to the Sea of Cortez, which is comprised of 244 islands, islets and coastal areas that together form one of the world's most diverse ocean ecosystems, prompting marine biologist Jacques Cousteau to dub it the 'Aquarium of the World,' and UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage Site. The most diversity underwater can be found in its rocky depths, less than 50 meters deep, mainly around the islands and coasts of the Peninsula of Baja California, considered one of the big five most productive marine ecosystems of the world.

Due to their richness in endemic species, the islands found within the Sea of Cortez are not only examples of evolution but have been and may continue to be important natural laboratories for research, teaching and outreach. The relative isolation of the islands has been making them attractive to biologists and tourists alike.

From the pristine natural landscape to all the wonder of Sea of Cortez, La Paz can be explored year-round, offering a unique eco-experience each season.

Sea Activities

Whale Watching, November - March

Each year, gray whales, orcas and humpbacks make a 12,000-mile journey to the waters surrounding La Paz. Magdalena Bay, Ojo de Liebre and San Ignacio are amongst the best places to whale watch in Baja Sur. In 2014, 2,107 whales were registered in Ojo de Libre, dubbed the 'sanctuary of the gray whale' with a total of 1,241 adults and 866 calves. The number of the blue whales registered this year surpassed prior ones with a record of two dozen.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling, All Year Round (Peaks in November)

The waters surrounding La Paz are home to 891 fish species (90 of them endemic), making up 39 percent of the world's marine mammal species and a third of the world's marine cetacean species. It comes as no surprise why the area is widely considered one of the top 10 places in the world to dive.

The epicenters of diving action are the Bay of La Paz; Isla Espiritu Santo, a protected island about 23 miles north of La Paz; and Isla Cerralvo, east of La Paz. In these waters it is common to spot giant mantas, whale sharks and hammerheads...not to mention a population of more than 500 California sea lions eager to greet visitors, often nibbling fingers and tugging on fins.

Sailing, Kayaking and SUPing, All Year Round

With its calm, transparent, azure waters, sandy anchorages, and average winds of 15 knots and 340-plus days of sunshine per year, the Sea of Cortez offers sailing enthusiasts unmatched yachting, cruising and sailing experiences. Visitors can also enjoy a guided kayak tour or paddleboard across the mangroves of Balandra beach, named one of Mexico's Best Beaches by Trip Advisor. For those bringing their own boats, the city boasts three marinas-Marina La Paz, Marina Costa Baja and Marina Palmira-that provide all the necessary services for vessels up to 250 feet long.

Sports Fishing, All Year Round

The Sea of Cortez, home to hundreds of species of trophy fish, including dorado, tuna, marlin, roosterfish and yellowtail makes for some of the best sports fishing in the world. Many international fishing tournaments are held in La Paz each year, attracting experienced anglers and tourists from all over the globe. La Paz has several world-class fishing outfitters that can provide everything needed for fishing excursions.

Companies such as Mosquito Fleet, The Moorings and The One Baja lease everything from pangas and cruisers to large yachts at reasonable rates.

LAND ACTITIVIES

Camping

The beaches surrounding the Sea of Cortez are an ideal setting for rustic camping in the untouched landscape, difficult to experience anywhere else. Punta Coyote and San Evaristo are located approximately 60 miles away from La Paz and directly in the foothills of the Mountain Range of La Giganta.

Hiking, Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding

There are numerous places where one can enjoy the panoramic sea views during invigorating walks and jogs through the trails carved through desert hills in and around the city of La Paz.

ABOUT LA PAZ:

La Paz, whose name means "peace," combines an authentic, small-town Mexican feel with the tourism services savvy travelers expect. Hidden away on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula approximately 135 miles north of Cabo San Lucas on the Sea of Cortez, the city is a gateway to one of the world's most unique and bountiful ecosystems, declared a World Heritage Site and dubbed by French marine biologist Jacques Cousteau the aquarium of the world. The city's rich cultural history, striking natural wonders, white sand beaches, turquoise waters and world-class sports fishing have made it a magnet for romantics seeking a secluded getaway, outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure and families in search of a kid-friendly place to explore. Outside selected La Paz as best weekend escape of 2013 and Beautiful Bride as one of the top six honeymoon destinations for San Diegans. Direct flights are available from Los Angeles on Aeromexico, while a new four-lane highway makes the drive from Cabo San Lucas only 90 minutes.


For more information about La Paz, please visit www.GoLaPaz.com, La Paz blog: www.PureLaPaz.com, La Paz on Facebook - www.Facebook.com/PureLaPaz
La Paz on Twitter www.Twitter.com/PureLaPaz

Where to Stay

CABO SAN LUCAS

Villa del Arco -- Villa's Group -- Is Open in Cabo San Lucas

The Villa Group has opened the Villa del Arco Beach Resort and Desert Spa is open in Cabo San Lucas. Stretching along the white sands of El Médano Beach - the safest swimming beach in the popular Baja destination - the upscale, family-friendly property lies adjacent to the ultra-luxurious Villa La Estancia and active Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa in a gated, private enclave owned and operated by The Villa Group.

This new Villa del Arco offers 231 deluxe oceanfront suites. Each of the one-, two- and three-bedroom suites features stylish contemporary decor with private entryway, marble floors, granite countertops, whirlpool tub, walk-in shower, large walk-in closet and spacious balcony. Deluxe studio and penthouse suites are also available.

Studios feature a kitchenette equipped with a refrigerator, stovetop, microwave, toaster, blender, coffee maker, dishes, cookware and utensils, while larger suites include a complete kitchen with full-size refrigerator.

Other in-suite amenities include individually-controlled air conditioning, ceiling fans, satellite TV with movie service, direct dial telephone with voicemail, wireless and high speed Internet access (surcharge), electronic safe, hair dryer, iron with ironing board, clock radio, washer/dryer (two- and three-bedroom suites), wet bar, daily maid service, turndown service (on request) and in-room dining.

Two large outdoor pools feature waterfalls, spa tubs, children’s areas, and views of the sea and offshore rock formations. One pool contains a full-sized replica of a Spanish galleon “anchored” for casual snacks, lunch and cocktails. Kayaks, boogie boards, snorkels and motorized personal watercraft are available at the on-site water sports center.

Other diversions include tennis courts and a year-round, award-winning Kids Club. A complimentary activities program for all ages includes beach and water volleyball, pool games, Spanish lessons and bartending classes.

In addition to the pirate ship themed El Bucanero, dining options include the gourmet La Perla with its elegant menu of fresh seafood, steaks and international cuisine presented in a gracious fine dining atmosphere. Guests can also enjoy El Faro, featuring oysters, sushi, fresh fish and a large selection of tequilas overlooking El Arco and the Sea of Cortez.

Villa Group Packages in Cabo San Lucas

With a cluster of villa properties located on a prime beach location in Cabo San Lucas, The Villa Group complex has created a selection of special packages. The trio of properties is situated in a private enclave overlooking El Médano Beach with an unobstructed view of El Arco at Land’s End.

Fresh from a $2.25 million renovation, the family-friendly Villa del Palmar offers homey conveniences in its air-conditioned junior suites and collection of 463 spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom suites – all with private balconies and complete kitchens. For recreation, the property features three tiered swimming pools, a whale waterslide, a spa with fitness center, two lighted tennis courts, a putting green, the year-round Kids in Paradise Club and daily activities held poolside or on the beach.

Dining options include nightly themed dinner shows at Las Tortugas or the fusion of Californian and Italian cuisines at Bella California. Villa del Palmar’s Family Fun Escape covers three nights in a one-bedroom suite sleeping up to four, daily breakfast buffet at Bella California, one themed dinner show per person, daily activities, two aromatherapy massages and in-room amenities (cookies or snacks and drinks) from $1,150 (USD). Additional nights are available from $254 each (room only). “Villa del Palmar is tailored to families,” noted Ricardo Orozco, Director General for The Villa Group Resorts Cabo San Lucas. “We're on the safest, best swimming beach in Cabo San Lucas, with all ocean recreation available right off our shore. And we feature an on-site shopping center with grocery store, deli, video rental and medical clinic. So everything is easy.”

A Romantic Escape package features three-night accommodations in a one-bedroom suite, fruit basket and bottled water upon arrival, sparking wine with strawberries, in-suite moonlight massage for two and a romantic dinner for two from $1,475 (USD). At the ultra luxurious residence-style Villa La Estancia, a three-night Gold Honeymoon package with the same inclusions plus in-suite check-in is from $1,875 USD, while the upscale, family-friendly Villa del Arco’s three-night Perfect Romance Package provides the same plus a certificate for a complimentary night on an anniversary stay from $1,770 USD.

The distinctive 156-suite Villa La Estancia is known for its ultra-spacious accommodations with wellappointed furnishings, generous amenities, gourmet cuisine and unrivaled hospitality. Lushly landscaped grounds with a freeform swimming pool, dancing fountains and whirlpool spas make this tranquil property a favorite with adults. Each of the one-, two- and three-bedroom units is stylishly decorated with marble floors, granite countertops, whirlpool tub, complete kitchen and spacious balconies.

Deluxe studios and spacious penthouses are also available. Villa del Arco Beach Resort & Spa offers 231 deluxe oceanfront one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with full kitchens, plus deluxe studios. Two large outdoor pools feature waterfalls, spa tubs and children’s areas. One pool contains a full-sized replica of a Spanish galleon “anchored” for casual snacks, lunch and cocktails. Kayaks, boogie boards, snorkels and motorized personal watercraft are available at the on-site water sports center. Dining options at the two properties include La Casona - the only restaurant in Los Cabos to feature Kobe and Angus Certified Beef – the casual poolside La Parilla, the gourmet La Perla, El Faro tapas and tequila bar, and the pirate boat themed El Bucanero.

About The Villa Group

The Villa Group is one of Mexico’s leading privately owned hotel, resort and real estate development companies. Their portfolio includes beachfront destination resorts, exclusive fractional and full ownership luxury real estate developments, and a secluded mountain top boutique spa retreat. The collection includes: Cabo San Lucas – Villa La Estancia, Villa del Arco, Villa del Palmar and Hotel Santa Fe; Puerto Vallarta – Villa del Palmar; Nuevo Vallarta – Villa del Palmar Flamingos and Villa La Estancia (scheduled to open in late spring 2007); Sierra Madre Mountain Range – Sierra Lago Resort & Spa. Additionally, Villa del Palmar and Villa La Estancia multi-property developments are scin Cancun (2008) and Loreto (2009).

For more information or reservations, call toll free from U.S. & Canada (877) 845-5247 or visit web site www.villagroupresorts.com.

Cabo La Estancia

Planning a vacation that will satisfy the desires of the entire family can often seem an impossible task. While the adults prefer some private time and relaxation, the younger members of the group crave activity and entertainment. Teenagers are often reluctant to join in the family fun, and require enticing activities in order to revive their youthful enthusiasm.

Cabo La Estancia, a luxury beach resort and spa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico provides the perfect solution to your travel dilemma. Featuring spacious and private villas perfect for families, Cabo La Estancia has all of the amenities you'd expect in a high-end resort for the adults, with plenty of activities, entertainment and adventures available for children and teens.

From the moment the family arrives at Cabo La Estancia, with its gorgeous panoramic views and luxurious ambiance, the stresses of life at home will fade - and the biggest question facing the group will be what to experience first. Located on Medano Beach, the only swimmable beach in Cabo San Lucas, the resort is in the perfect location for a dip in the cobalt blue waters, sunbathing, or fabulous water sports. The kids can dive into the resort's two breathtaking infinity pools while the adults enjoy a refreshing drink at one of the swim-up pool bars. A mini-mall located within Cabo La Estancia is perfect for some casual shopping or for picking up sundries or forgotten items. The full-service spa located nearby featuring a full menu of relaxing treatments will give mom, dad, and even teens the chance to take a break and get pampered, whether together or separately. Two fabulous restaurants are located within the resort: La Casona, for fine dining; and La Parilla, located poolside for more casual fare. Additional dining choices are located nearby.

When mom and dad desire some time alone for relaxation, a spa visit, or a quiet meal together, the resort features an outstanding program just for its younger visitors - "Kids in Paradise," located just next door at the property's sister resort, Villa del Palmar. Here, parents can elect to leave young ones ages 4-11 in supervised care for a full or half-day of fun and enriching activities designed just for them. Kids will take Spanish lessons, make piñatas, play mini-golf, splash in the pool, have an ice cream party, hunt for shells on the beach, and so much more as they interact with peers and create unforgettable vacation memories. Private babysitting services are also available at Cabo La Estancia and can be easily arranged. An additional charge does apply for both the Kids in Paradise program and private babysitting.

Beyond the resort, the Cabo San Lucas area offers so many exciting adventures for the family, and there is truly something here for everyone. Teens in particular will be charmed by many of these recreational options, which are a change from the typical vacation fare. Many of these tours are easily arranged at Cabo La Estancia; additional fees do apply. Some of the most popular choices for families include:

Horseback Riding - Commune with nature and choose from two available tours. On the one-hour ride, the family will delight in watching local animals in their natural environment on the trail, then finish the tour along the magnificent Bocana Beach. On the two-hour ride, you'll visit the San Jose Estuary, a famed National Park and bird sanctuary, as well as Bocana Beach and Costa Azul Beach.

Snorkeling - Experience a three-hour underwater adventure of a lifetime at the famous Santa Maria Bay, once described as the "world's largest aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau. Families can snorkel or kayak around this magnificent inlet.
Whale Watching - January through March is the peak season for viewing migrating grey whales from Alaska. A truly awe-inspiring experience, this is something the family will remember forever. Many local tour companies arrange these excursions.

4x4 Desert Safari - Join in on an adventurous 4 x 4 off-road adventure into the heart of the Sierra Mountains and expansive Baja deserts. Throughout the day, amazingly knowledgeable and fun guides will allow you to explore and experience the natural flora, fauna and wildlife of the region.

Boat Cruises and Sailing Charters - Visit the marina to choose from a variety of charter companies to arrange your personal tour. From Catamarans to luxury yachts, there is a rental here to meet your family's budget and size.
Sport Fishing Packages - With over 650 different species of fish swimming through these beautiful waters, Los Cabos is the sport fishing capitol of the world. Whether you are on your first fishing trip or a world class angler, the ultimate sport fishing experience awaits you here in paradise.

World-Class Golf - Natural desert terrain, abundant wildlife and the dramatic ocean backdrop make Los Cabos one of the world's most beautiful and challenging places to play golf. Your choices include championship courses developed by the most renowned designers in the game. Aficionados of the game say the ocean-side courses here are among the finest anywhere.

Water Sports - El Medano, the most popular and only swimmable beach in Cabo, offers an array of recreational activities for the entire family. Cruise through the sapphire waters together on Jet Skis or Wave Runners, or take in the view from above while parasailing. Take a kayak for an invigorating row to the arch at Land's End, grab the family and play a game of beach volleyball, visit the walking vendors to discover new treasures, or simply relax in a lounge chair and let the sounds of the waves soothe you.

Other options include renting an ATV, hiking, mountain biking, scuba diving, outback expeditions and so much more. The possibilities are limitless.

After a long day of adventure and activity, the family will look forward to retreating to the private villas at Cabo La Estancia, complete with all of the comforts of home. Each spacious villa offers plenty of room for the family to spread out and get comfortable, and features impeccable décor and high-end amenities. Choose the villa that best accommodates your group:

Two Bedroom - Three Bath Villas  - These luxurious 2100 square foot villas are perfect for a family of four. Mom and Dad will love the spacious master bedroom with ensuite bath featuring an oversized Jacuzzi whirlpool tub. The additional bedroom features two double beds, and the kitchen features a wonderful tiled breakfast bar.

Three Bedroom - Four Bath Villas  - With 2900 square feet of breathtaking elegance, the three-bedroom, four bath villas comfortably accommodate six people. The villa offers two master-bedrooms, each with is own romantic sitting area and ensuite bath featuring oversized whirlpool Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, make up area and dual vanities. The third bedroom has two queen beds, and the kitchen includes a tiled counter top with a breakfast bar.

Penthouse  - Pamper yourself and seven guests with approximately 5,500 square feet of pure elegance in the penthouse, comprising the entire eighth floor at Cabo La Estancia. Two master bedrooms feature breathtaking ocean views and a deluxe private bath. The third bedroom has two queen beds and an ocean view with private bath and dressing area. All bedrooms include luxurious linens and state-of-the-art DVD/TV technology. The gourmet kitchen features marble counter tops, top-tier cookware, table settings and stainless steel appliances. A private hacienda style patio offers an full kitchen including gourmet gas grill, sink, refrigerator, teak dining tables and outdoor stereo system, as well as fireplace. Relax and unwind in your fabulous hot tub on the deck with views of the water. The penthouse also includes an English-speaking concierge, who arrives daily except Sundays.

Cabo San Lucas is convenient and easily accessible with several airlines providing daily service. Cabo La Estancia is located on Medano Beach, the most popular and only swimmable beach in Cabo San Lucas.

For more information on planning your family's vacation to Cabo La Estancia, or to book the winter/spring special, call 310-577-8600 or visit web site www.cabolaestancia.com.

Los Cabos

Solmar Hotels & Resorts Offer "Hook & Cook" Program

Located at the southernmost tip of the Baja Peninsula at the exact point where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean,  Solmar Hotels & Resorts offers a "Hook & Cook" service for fishing enthusiasts and foodies alike.

Commonly referred to as "The Aquarium of the World," the waters surrounding the Baja Peninsula are home to an abundant array of fish and marine life, providing the chefs of Solmar's restaurants with an abundance of freshest seafood available. Now, guests can take this experience to the next level with Solmar's "Hook & Cook" program, which puts the guest in charge of his or her own meal as the hotel collection's team of chefs are able to prepare nearly any fish that a guest hooks themselves while out on the Sea of Cortes or Pacific Ocean.

\Each of Solmar properties offers a slightly different variation of this service. For example, at Grand Solmar Land's End Resort & Spa guests can have a catch prepared at a cost of $25 USD per person including tax (gratuity is not included) by simply completing a form, which can be obtained from the resort's concierge. Guests can choose between having their fish prepared cold or hot in a variety of ways such as ceviche, carpaccio, sashimi, fried, grilled, blackened, pan seared of tacos with soup and salad.

At Playa Grande Resort & Spa the "Hook & Cook" offering is $15 USD per person and provides the option of breaded, grilled or blacked served with soup or salad and seasonal sautéed vegetables, rice and flour and corn tortillas. Guests of Solmar All-Inclusive Resort & Beach Club can also partake in this program for just $12 USD per person with the options of fish being prepared in different ways such as breaded, garlic butter, tempura or grilled and served with rice and vegetables.

In keeping with environmental conservation and the destinations 'Catch and Release' initiative Solmar Hotels & Resorts will not pack or prepare any Billfish.

Guests interested in booking a fishing excursion can do so through the resort's on-site concierge or before arriving via the online concierge. For more information on Solmar Hotels & Resorts or to book a stay please visit ]www.solmar.com.

Located on Baja California's most exclusive and private beach, Solmar Hotels & Resorts offers guests privacy while still being able to enjoy the excitement of downtown Cabo San Lucas. The collection of five all-suite resorts offers guests the highest quality of service and hospitality. In the past year, two Solmar properties - Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa and The Ridge at Playa Grande Luxury Villas - were awarded the prestigious Four Diamond rating by AAA. Additionally, TripAdvisor recognized Solmar All-Inclusive Resort & Beach Club and Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa for receiving high ratings and guest reviews on this popular travel site. Additionally, Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa has been rated among the "Top 15 Hotels in Baja California" by Condé Nast Traveler's 2013 Readers' Choice Awards along with Grand Solmar Land's End Resort & Spa, which was also included as one of the "World's Best Hotels" for the second year in a row. For more information about Solmar Hotels & Resorts, visit www.solmar.com, follow on Twitter @SolmarResorts, Instagram and Pinterest and visit the resort's Facebook page.

About Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort, Los Cabos

Situated on 28 acres overlooking the Sea of Cortez, the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort, with 270 guest rooms each featuring the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed, whirlpool tubs and private terraces, is impeccably reminiscent of an upscale seaside village. The sprawling, Hacienda-inspired resort is home to five restaurants and five bars, four infinity and cascading swimming pools, the acclaimed Cactus Spa and Fitness Center and a broad selection of outdoor activities. Boasting Los Cabos’ largest meetings facility with more than 18,000 square feet of function space, Sheraton Hacienda del Mar welcomes meetings and special events of all sizes. A small chapel and beachfront locations are also available for weddings and the staff has extensive experience with multicultural wedding planning. For more information, please visit www.sheratonloscabos.com or call (011) 52-624-145-8000.

Tee Off In Paradise: Los Cabos Hotels Offer Amazing Golf Packages

With over 10 championship golf courses and several more currently in development, it is no wonder that Los Cabos draws golf lovers from around the world annually. An array of courses throughout the destination are designed by golf legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Tom Fazio and many others, who have recognized the potential and significance of the thriving golf scene in Los Cabos. The beautiful hotels and resorts have also recognized the importance of golf in their guests' vacation plans and have incorporated this favorite pastime into their incredible travel packages and promotions.

The following Los Cabos hotels and resorts are currently offering packages featuring complimentary rounds of golf or golf related amenities from now through the end of the year:

Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort & Spa,

located in the heart of Cabo San Lucas, offers guests the ultimate in leisure travel with the "Spa & Golf Package." This package features accommodations in a beautiful ocean view Junior Suite for a minimum of three-nights and includes a daily breakfast buffet at Maydan Restaurant for two, one round of golf at Cabo Real Golf Course, two special golf massages, three-day car rental through Budget Rental Car not inclusive of insurance or gas, free access to the fully equipped fitness center and complimentary use of the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi at the Saltwater Spa. In addition to the complimentary round of golf, guests will also have access to the Pro Shop, club rentals, putting green and a golf instructor who is available for lessons. For more information or to book this package, please visit www.casadorada.com.

The Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf & Spa Resort,

offers golfers the chance to play on a championship course of their choice. The Dreams Los Cabos "Golf Package" invites guests to enjoy a luxury one bedroom suite plus one free round of golf at either the renowned Cabo Real or celebrated Club Campestre Golf Course. Round of golf includes transportation to and from the course as well as a golf cart. Golf reservations must be made directly with the hotel concierge. Package price is $264 per person, per night and requires a minimum three-night stay, inclusive of all meals and beverages. For more information or to make reservations, please visit www.dreamsloscabos.com.

Temptation Resort Spa

Temptation Resort Spa officially opened its doors and welcomed guests in 2009

This is the second Mexico property for the new, adults only all-inclusive resort chain owned and managed by Original Resorts. An evolutionary concept in Los Cabos, the new all-inclusive 149-room and suite Temptation Resort Spa welcomes singles and couples to experience a contemporary take on the all-inclusive holiday.

A hip vibe is the hallmark of this beachfront resort where the adults only atmosphere allows guests to invigorate and refresh in a fun, chic and modern atmosphere. Temptation’s Cast Members lead the charge each day with fun adventurous activities from beach sports, pool games to tempting contests. Vacationers can choose to be front and center; sit back and watch the excitement or find an intimate spot to relax and recharge away from the crowds. The perfect place for singles and couples to meet, mix and mingle, Temptation Resort Spa offers guests unlimited options to unwind and delight in their Mexican vacation in the sun.

Amenities include three divine restaurants, five bars, disco lounge, roof-top infinity Jacuzzi lounge, a crystalline heated topless optional pool with swim-up bar complete with beachside and poolside cabanas, internet access, gym, full-service spa and nightly entertainment. The resort’s spa is equipped to provide guests with a heaven to luxuriate and pamper themselves with a selection of body and facial treatments masterfully executed by highly trained therapists.

Outdoors, the splendid weather of the BajaPeninsula beckons guests to the secluded beach area, dotted with lounging platforms built for two, made private with the addition of gauzy white curtains. The topless optional pool area is the heart of the resort, with its own batch of oversized chaise lounges, a swim-up bar and drink service all around.

Temptation’s exquisitely decorated rooms offer three categories – Deluxe, Jacuzzi Suites and Temptation Suites – all offering private terraces or balconies provide an ideal spot for a well-needed rest or even a romantic rendezvous. All rooms are beautifully decorated in an elegant red, white and chocolate brown color scheme, with crystal drop lamps. In addition, all rooms are equipped with a flat screen television with satellite channels, individually controlled air conditioning, coffee maker, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, mini bar, safety deposit boxes, electronic locks and 24-hour food and beverage service.

Gourmands will enjoy new gastronomic experiences including three dining options offering, buffet or à la carte menu choices, including three signature restaurants and five bars, each with a variety ofselected premium liquors. For the health conscious guest, a low-carb and vegetarian menu options are available at most restaurants.

Just 15 minutes from the LosCabosInternationalAirport, Temptation Resort Spa is steps away from great shopping and only 3 km (2 miles) from Los Cabos' colonial downtown area that is lined with trendy and traditional boutiques and is the perfect backdrop for romantic evening strolls.

Rates include accommodations, all meals, gourmet dining, all drinks and cocktails, daily activities, nightly entertainment, hotel taxes and tips.For more information and reservations, visit www.temptationresorts.com or call toll-free from the US +1-877-485-8367 (Canada 1-800-655-9391).

About Temptation Resort Spa
An evolutionary concept in Mexico, the new adult only resorts offers singles and couples to experience a contemporary take on the all-inclusive holiday in Cancun and Los Cabos, Mexico. A hip vibe is the hallmark of these two beachfront resorts where the adult only atmosphere allows guests to invigorate and refresh in a fun, chic and modern atmosphere. Temptation’s exquisitely decorated rooms in three categories feature private terraces or balconies. Guests will enjoy topless optional pools, multiple gourmet restaurants and lounges serving premium beverages. Temptation’s Cast Members lead the charge each day with fun, lively and adventurous activities. 

LA PAZ

Shape Up For Summer in a Beautiful Beachfront Paradise with CostaBaja’s Zumba Retreat

Set a new rhythm for body and mind with an unforgettably festive Zumba retreat at CostaBaja Resort & Spa that will leave you fit and refreshed for summer.

A 5-star beachfront retreat overlooking the balmy Sea of Cortez, surrounding mountains and a picturesque marina, CostaBaja will host a Zumba Retreat May 15-19, 2014, for guests looking to get in shape while having fun in our idyllic tropical paradise. The retreat will be led by Kim Stover, a professional dancer-turned-fitness-instructor who has earned the highest levels of Zumba certification. The popular dance-fitness technique is known for taking the work out of “workout” by mixing body sculpting movements with easy-to-follow dance steps derived mainly from Latin music and utilizes a variety of styles in its routines, including cumbia, meringue, salsa, reggaeton, mambo and calypso.  

“You don’t have to know how to dance to do Zumba,” Stover said. “It is an easy-to-follow workout in a laid back, party-like atmosphere. It’s like exercise in disguise, really, because you’re having so much fun that you don’t realize you are working out until you notice the results in terms of how much better you look and feel!” 

Priced at US$ 1,569 per person for a single room or $ 849 per person for a shared room, CostaBaja’s ZUMBA package includes:

5 days, 4 nights in a deluxe room
Buffet breakfast daily
Set menu lunch daily
Set menu dinner daily
4 days of Zumba programming
All drinks during the meals at the hotel restaurants
All Taxes and tips

CostaBaja Resort & Spa is just a two-hour flight from Los Angeles in peaceful La Paz, Mexico. It provides distinctive, accommodations and serenely in a gorgeous natural setting on the magnificent Sea of Cortez, known as the “Aquarium of the World” for its rich biodiversity. CostaBaja overlooks the resort’s magnificent beach, picturesque marina and world-class golf course with the Sierra de la Laguna mountains rising in the background. Among its other amenities is the Espiritu holistic wellness spa, three pools, a swim-up bar, multiple dining options that include an acclaimed restaurant led by one of Mexico’s top chefs.

For more information, please call 1 (855) 316 -7705 or visit the resort’s website at www.costabajaresort.com .

LORETOM

The Inn at Loreto Bay

The Inn at Loreto Bay, a 155-room resort located in Loreto, Baja Sur, Mexico, on the Sea of Cortez, has achieved silver-level status from the prestigious environmental certification program for travel and tourism, Green Globe. Having obtained bronze benchmarking in 2008, the Inn at Loreto Bay has further excelled in operating at the world's highest environmental standards, leading to the resort‚s recently upgraded standing.

To achieve this esteemed ranking, the Inn at Loreto Bay demonstrated high-level benchmarks in energy and water consumption, total waste production and community commitment. These key environmental indicators were evaluated by both an on-site audit and an off-site Green Globe accredited assessor in order to confirm the resort‚s active commitment to sustainability.

About Loreto Bay Resort:
Loreto Bay is an 8,000-acre seaside community neighboring the historic town of Loreto in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Loreto Bay community includes the 155-room Inn at Loreto Bay hotel with on-site fitness center and spa services, three restaurants, swim-up pool bar, 24-hour concierge services and golf, and plans for 6,000 authentic Baja-style homes, mixed-use buildings among pedestrian-friendly street and nearly 1,500 acres dedicated for a nature preserve. Visitors to Loreto Bay enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, golf and plenty of sunshine.

For more information on Loreto Bay homes, ranging from 1,090 to 3,109 square feet and priced from $365,000, and other Loreto Bay vacation opportunities call 1.866.956.7386 or go to: www.loretobay.com.

MEXICO's PACIFIC COAST

Where to Stay

Casa Colina ---

Celebrate a honeymoon, wedding anniversary, or special occasion at one of Mexico’s most romantic private villas, Casa Colina, located high above the blue turquois-colored waters of the Pacific Ocean between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. Couples can rediscover love and romance at this luxurious six-bedroom romantic retreat with its own staff, chef, infinity pool, Jacuzzi tub, and private security entrance.

Begin a romantic vacation with a sunset champagne toast on the villa’s expansive pool deck with panoramic views of the ocean and mountainous countryside and an infinity edge pool that can be adorned with floating candles and flowers. Continue the romantic celebration with a wine dinner prepared by the villa’s own chef and served in the “Top of the World Palapa” – a chic rooftop indoor/outdoor dining area with a fully-stocked bar and 250-degree views of the mountains and ocean, or in the villa’s elegant indoor gourmet dining room with a fireplace, hand-laid brick cathedral ceiling, Balinese furnishings, bar area, and enormous pocket doors that room up to the outdoors with views of the lagoon and mountains. After dinner, couples can relax by the pool or enjoy a moonlit swim or time in the villa’s heated Jacuzzi. Or they can simply retire to the villa’s surround-sound home theatre with a 65” Panasonic plasma TV and snuggle with a movie.

Other amenities at Casa Colina include a whole-house AV system available in each room and connections for iPod; state-of-the-art, whole-house water filtration system; wireless Internet service; and L’Occitaine toiletries.

The next day, couples can spend time on the pool deck while the villa’s staff prepares a delicious breakfast or they can enjoy their breakfast on the balcony of their guestroom. The rest of the day can be spent relaxing by the pool in a plush lounge chair with an umbrella, working out in the villa’s state-of-the-art fitness center, or indulging in outdoor gourmet BBQ. Poolside massages can also be arranged. Or couples can go to the adjacent award-winning AAA four-diamond Isla Navidad Grand Bay Resort, which has a full-service spa and salon and a 27-hole golf course created by Robert von Hagge.

Other activities near Casa Colina include:

• Spending time at the quaint and romantic beaches in Barra de Navidad or at the famous Playa La Audiencia on Santiago Peninsula (the beach where Bo Derek’s movie 10 was filmed).

• Touring the five-million-year-old Colima volcano, which is the most active volcano in Mexico.

• Horseback riding on the beach.

• Kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving in the Pacific Ocean.

Surrounded by lush landscaped gardens, Casa Colina’s spacious six guestrooms include impeccably designed and furnished junior and master suites with balconies, private gardens, Jacuzzi tubs, and views of the ocean and mountains. Guests might also find “romantic” surprises in their room such scattered rose petals, sparkling wine, and chocolate strawberries.

Descriptions of Casa Colina’s guestrooms include:

Laguna Suite: Master bedroom suite with a California King bed, shower, Jacuzzi tub, private garden, breakfast table, and plush loungers.

Sueno Suite: Master bedroom suite with a California King bed, shower, Jacuzzi tub, outdoor shower, and private garden.

Oceano Suite: Master bedroom suite with a California King bed, shower, and a walkout balcony.

Luna Suite: Master bedroom suite with a California King bed, shower, and a walkout balcony.

Estrella Suite: Junior bedroom suite with a California Queen bed, shower, Jacuzzi tub, and walkout balcony.

Vista Suite: Corner bedroom suite with two queen beds, shower, Jacuzzi tub, and a walkout balcony.

Located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico between Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, Isla Navidad is easily and conveniently reachable. It is serviced by regular domestic flights from Guadalajara (30 minutes) and Mexico City (50 minutes), and Playa de Oro International Airport is just 25 minutes away. By air, it is two hours from Houston and three hours from Los Angeles. By land, it is 180 miles from Guadalajara, 124 miles from Puerto Vallarta, and 492 miles from Mexico City.

For more information about Casa Colina, visit www.casacolinamexico.com or call 1-312-961-3280.

RIVIERA NAYARIT

Riviera Nayarit For Romance

It’s not just the endless white sand beaches, the Pacific sunsets and the elegant luxury resorts that explain the buzz about romance in Riviera Nayarit. The essence of Mexico’s newest tourism destination is its originality - the perfect blend of world-class comforts and luxury with extraordinary natural beauty and uniquely authentic culture, traditions and history.

Whether the occasion is a wedding, honeymoon, anniversary or any other romantic occasion, what will be remembered – what will make the moment enduringly vivid – is that, in a world increasingly globalized, plasticized and homogenized, Nayarit was a wonderfully real place, with distinctive character, energy, even passion.

This is a place where a growing number of internationally acclaimed brand names - Four Seasons, St. Regis, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus are making their mark. But it is also a place where timeless fishing villages with waterfront cafes are as charming as the endless, white sand beaches are beautiful. Where ancient history is as fascinating as the surrounding wildlife sanctuaries, and where visitors are treated to hospitality and service that are the product of residents’ continuing pride and appreciation for their unique heritage. And, all this is reflected in a choice of romance packages offered by a variety of hotels and resorts.

The choices for special romantic occasions in Riviera Nayarit range from full-service resorts fully competitive with the finest luxury properties around the world to intimate, local-flavored B&B’s. Whatever the choice there’s plenty expert help to arrange the details. A wide range of options are available honeymoons and romantic vacations.

The following are examples of some of the wedding packages offered in the destination:

Grand Velas Resort & Spa --

is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World and a recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award. A “Lounge Wedding Package” ensures total relaxation and enjoyment of the occasion by including a legal wedding ceremony; all preparations and floral arrangements; hot & cold hors d’oeuvres; a buffet menu for 50 people, including an especially prepared wedding cake; three hours of open bar and three hours of DJ entertainment. (Sample cost: 25-50 guests: US$13,940 + 15% tax).

Vallarta Palace--

offers an extra incentive to wedding couples with its “Free Wedding Package.”  Designed with stylish, contemporary flair, the resort wedding features: use of the elegant beachside wedding gazebo; beverages during the ceremony; dinner reservations for the wedding party; a candlelit dinner and breakfast in bed for the bride and groom; special room amenities; and the services of a wedding coordinator – for free, with a minimum stay of three nights. And no minimum number of guests is required. 

Palladium Vallarta Resort:  

Understanding the importance of eco-friendly tourism, the Palladium Vallarta Resort took into account its beautiful surrounding jungle environment when constructing the hotel – maintaining the indigenous flora and fauna. With this in mind, those seeking to marry and help protect the environment are offered the “Premium Wedding Package” which includes: wedding coordinator services; an upgrade to ocean view or Royal Suite for a nominal extra charge; decorations and floral arrangements; a wedding cake and beverage for up to 10 people; dinner in the a la carte restaurant, breakfast in bed the morning after and a special spa service for the wedding couple. (For 10 people: US$2,000).

Villa Varadero:

 For romantics looking for less frills and intimate coziness, Villa Varadero, with its B&B style, is certain to please. The hotel’s wedding package includes: on-site wedding coordinator; decorations such as a ceremonial arch,  red carpet aisle, floral table arrangements; the bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere; and a wedding cake. Dining and accommodations are arranged separately. (Cost: US$1,000)

Other ideal choices for romantic escapes in Riviera Nayarit include the Four Seasons Resort, Punta Mita, for the ultimate in luxury; Marival Grand & Club Suites, with its distinctive lively character, and, opening this summer, the Riu Palace Pacifico, one of the destination’s newest full service resorts.  

About Riviera Nayarit
Riviera Nayarit is Mexico’s newest travel destination stretching along 100 miles of pristine Pacific coast framed by spectacular mountains to the north of renowned Puerto Vallarta. Mostly undeveloped, the destination extends from  the resorts of  Nuevo Vallarta to the  historic, colonial town of San Blas, including exclusive Punta Mita and the spectacular Banderas Bay. The region features luxury resorts and eco-tourism boutique hotels, world-renowned surfing, four professional golf courses, rare native wildlife including sea turtles and tropical birds, mountain and island adventures, shopping for local artwork and traditional Huichol handicrafts, charming fishing towns and miles of serene beaches.

For more information, visit: www.RivieraNayarit.com.

Desert Spa Grand Opening

Opening in conjunction with the new property, the Desert Spa offers guests a vast menu of indulgent and invigorating treatments. From signature facials and body wraps to relaxing massages and therapeutic services, the facility indulges The Villa Group guests by fine-tuning mind, body and soul.

Designed in Mexican hacienda style, the Desert Spa complements its natural setting with earth tones, ample natural light, and the scents and flavors of Baja. Among its many attributes are generous hydrotherapy centers for men and women including a spacious Jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, cold pressure showers, body temperature pool, steam room and sauna.

In addition, 17 treatment rooms, two exclusive VIP suites with private Jacuzzi and shower, a full-service beauty salon and extensive menu of exotic treatment services will set the stage for the Desert Spa to be a haven for health, beauty, decompression and rejuvenation.

Within the Desert Spa, a 4,500 sq. ft. fitness center features seven treadmills, four elliptical bikes, three stationary bikes, 10 strength training stations, a multi-purpose station, four free weight stations, a Yoga/Pilates studio with classes, lockers and showers.

Using a line of desert-inspired products created exclusively for the Desert Spa, therapists wrap, bathe and pamper guests with extracts of agave, lime, cactus, melon and vanilla. By blending fruit and herb extracts native to the Baja California area, the Desert Spa's natural body products have been selectively developed specifically for the restorative and nutritive powers they possess as well as for the enjoyment of the guests.

For more information or reservations, call toll free from US & Canada (877) 845-5247 or visit www.TheVillaGroup.com

Playa Del Carmen

El Dorado Royale--

is Mexico's premier adults-only, all-inclusive beachfront resort for couples, honeymooners and newlyweds. Luxuriously romantic, stretching along a secluded beach, it provides indulgences from gourmet cuisine, to hot tubs and hammocks in every junior suite, to a full service spa. (Guests aged 18 and older are considered adults at this resort.) The resort boasts 9 swimming pools, spa, fitness center, sauna, steam rooms, beauty center, Jacuzzis, bicycles, car rental, shopping arcade, dry cleaning/laundry service, recreational activities, sports center, watersports, scuba diving, nightly entertainment, deep sea fishing, 6 restaurants, 6 pool bars, 10 bars/lounges, concierge, tour desk, currency exchange, medical services, shuttle to Cancun Clubs. (Please note that certain activities and services are available for an additional cost.)

Room amenities include air conditioning, ceiling fans, private bath, shower, color satellite TV, private terrace with a hammock and amenity kit, mini-bar with soft drinks, radio/alarm clock, safety deposit box, hairdryer, iron/iron board, and coffee maker.

The El Dorado Royale offers the following restaurants:

El Cocotal Restaurant - Elegant air-conditioned restaurant with additional outdoor dining opportunities. Serving breakfast, Brunch Saturday & Sunday and dinner. Chef's menu changed daily. Dress code required: Pants or Bermudas, t-shirt with sleeves, any kind of shoes except beach sandals.

La Isla Restaurant - A la carte International Cuisine. Open-air Palapa restaurant. Features continental breakfast, international breakfast, lunch and Dinner a la Carte. Reservations are required and there is a dress code.

La Carreta Restaurant - Authentic Mexican Cuisine. Open for dinner a la carte. Non-smoking restaurant. Dress code required: semi-formal pants or Bermudas, t-shirt with sleeves, any kind of shoes except beach sandals. Reservations are required.

Ditalia Restaurant - Contemporary Italian Cuisine. Open for dinner. Air-conditioned and outdoor dining opportunities. Non-smoking restaurant. Dress code required: semi-formal pants or Bermudas, t-shirt with sleeves, any kind of shoes except beach sandals. Reservations are required.

Kampai Restaurant - Fine oriental Cuisine. Outdoor dining. Open for dinner. Smoking and non-smoking section. Dress code required: semi-formal pants or Bermudas, t-shirt with sleeves, any kind of shoes except beach sandals. Reservations are required.

Jo Jo's Caribbean Seaside Grill - Lunch services and afternoon grills. Caribbean delights served from late afternoon. Dress code required: pants or Bermudas, t-shirt with sleeves, any kind of shoes except beach sandals. Reservations are required.

La Cabana Pizza - Wood oven pizzas served to order with your choice of toppings, and a selection of Angus burgers, kosher hot dogs and freshly tossed Caesar salad.

Fuentes - Take 5 open kitchens, plasma TVs showing footage from cameras all over the kitchens, expert chefs with rotating menus of grill, pasta, seafood, tapas and stir fry. Add oversized teak tables and fine china and a beach view and you've got the most interactive dining experience under a 90-foot vaulted palapa roof. Guests are invited to interact with expert chefs at each open kitchen, and learn from recipes on display and cooking techniques for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Opening mid-April 2006.

24-hour room service available plus a multitude of Bars are also available, including:

Bar Los Papagayos - This bar is open from 9am until 2pm. This is a swim-up bar nestled among the Casita Suites section serving up your favorite drink.

Healthy Bar Los Cotorros - This bar is open from 9am until 4pm. Enjoy fresh tropical fruit drinks, fresh fruit and healthy treats at this delightful bar with swings. Located at the relaxing pool across from the saltwater pool.

Swim-Up Bar Los Pericos - This bar is open from 9am until 5pm. This is a swim-up bar with swings, located at the Casita Suites section. Feel the fresh seaside breeze at this bar as you enjoy your preferred cocktails.

Bar Los Pelicanos - This bar is open from 9am until 5pm. This swim-up bar with swings, located at the Casita Suites section.

Bar Los Tucanes - This bar is open from 9am until 5pm. This swim-up bar located between the lobby and La Isla Restaurant.

Beach Bar - This bar is open from 9am until 11am. Located at the beach near the main pool. The Beach bar is a popular hangout throughout the day but really gets going in the evenings. It is perfect for an after dinner drink or just for relaxing with friends while enjoying the soothing sounds of the waves.

Swim-Up Bar La Isla - This bar is open from 7am until 6pm. This bar is located at the main pool.

Swim-Up Bar Colibri - This bar is open from 9am until 5pm. Swim-up bar with swings located at the Casita Suites section.

Lobby Bar - This bar is open from 10am until 2am. Serving premium beverage selection. Spectacular view of the Caribbean Sea.

Bar Las Guacamayas - This bar is open from 5pm until 2am. Swing Bar. Located in between La Carreta and La Fontana for cold Mexican beers, cheladas, exotic cocktails with tropical music under a traditional palapa.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

For more information, call 1-800-680-2858.

Puerto Morelos

Ceiba Del Mar Beach & Spa Resort

It's been said the only thing certain in life is change. Whether positive or negative, major life changes can put a great deal of stress on anyone, resulting in tension in both the mind and body. Now, at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, a tranquil retreat located just 20 minutes from Cancun Airport, you can experience a unique escape designed to rejuvenate both mind and body - the Spa Renewal Program. This escape, in combination with the resort's other unique attributes, will have you feeling ready to face the world with a fresh outlook. From personalized spa treatments using Bio-tensor technique, to the cleansing Temazcal Ceremony, to the resort's private meditation palapa, Ceiba del Mar offers the ultimate opportunity to revitalize your spirit - and handle the stresses that life's changes can bring about.

Ideally situated on a stretch of secluded powder-sand beach, at the edge of a picturesque fishing village, this hidden gem in paradise features an ambiance of luxury and comfort, beautiful Mexican and Mayan architecture and warm hospitality. Ceiba del Mar combines unspoiled white beaches, relaxing Caribbean waters, and a stunning natural landscape with suites offering ocean views, a unique holistic spa and unparalleled amenities and service.

The cornerstone of your life-enhancing getaway is the resort's aromatherapy Spa. Surrounded by the beautiful sapphire Caribbean Sea and the deep green of the surrounding jungle landscape, the Spa is the ideal refuge to harmonize mind, body and spirit. Ceiba del Mar offers the ultimate personalization of services during your renewal escape. Using Bio-tensor technique, the spa therapist chooses the most relaxing and healing of more than 50 essential oils to use during each treatment to best suit your personal needs.

A unique concept of the Spa at Ceiba del Mar offers the best of the Holistic approach to wellness. Treatments and state of the art equipment work together to offer therapeutic benefits to restore vitality, youth and harmony in guests. Ceiba del Mar Spa now features state of the art Vantage Bio Energetic Evaluation equipment. This new equipment conducts a comprehensive evaluation of a person's energetic health and balance. This process involves electrical conductivity points (meridian points) on the skin typically on the hands and feet. This completely non-invasive method is helpful in gaining valuable information about the body's vital function and provides feedback to help restore each system and meridian to an appropriate balance. The Vantage Bio Energetic Evaluation equipment is an excellent tool to measure the improvements in your wellness during your stay at Ceiba del Mar.

If peace of mind and revitalization is the goal of your escape, you will not want to miss participating in Ceiba del Mar's unique Temazcal Ceremony. This ancestral indigenous ritual is performed in efforts of communicating with nature to ask for cleansing and renewal of the senses. In a terracotta hut at sunset on the beach, volcanic stones and aromatic herbs are used to create a naturally rejuvenating steam bath perfect for purifying your mind, body, and spirit.

Perhaps a bit of meditation, to reach a higher level of tranquility is desired. Stroll down a wooden walkway, surrounded by beautiful and peaceful Mangroves, to Ceiba del Mar's high-platform meditation palapa. View the colors of the sunset as you are surrounded by the singing birds, and reflect on the paradise surrounding you. As you commune with nature, you will feel the effects of the experience, bringing harmony to soul and spirit.

When selecting your accommodations for the Spa Renewal Program, you'll choose from 88 luxury rooms, including 37 suites and 7 penthouses, all with breathtaking ocean views. All of the rooms feature fabulous amenities including private balcony or terrace, international cable TV and DVD/CD player, enhanced turn-down service, cotton robes and slippers, twice-daily maid service, mini-bar, ceiling fans, and exclusive bath amenities.

If you feel the urge for more active endeavors, there is plenty to satisfy your urge here. Take a dip in one of the two outdoor pools or Jacuzzi. Indulge in one of the daily Yoga, Pilates or AquaFit classes. Hit the tennis courts for a spirited game, or rent one of the resort's bicycles for a scenic ride. Rent a kayak to explore the beauty of the sea. Two fabulous restaurants, exclusively for Ceiba del Mar guests, are on-site: Xtabay, offering an expansive breakfast buffet and creative Mexican-inspired cuisine for dinner; and Arrecife Grill & Lounge, featuring grilled and wood-fired oven specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The resort's Terrace Lounge offers a selection of sushi, carpaccio and tartars as well as a fully stocked bar and music for after hours entertainment.

Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort was created by architect Luis Segura, who fell in love with the secluded, white sand beaches of the fishing village Puerto Morelos. The hotel originally opened in 2001, and was later fully renovated after Hurricane Wilma. This exclusive resort features 88 units, including 37 suites and 7 penthouses, all with ocean view. The unique holistic SPA, two restaurants, the Terrace Lounge and two bars compliment the resort, located just 20 minutes from Cancun Airport.

For more information on Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, or for a complete listing of accommodations and pricing for the Spa Renewal Package, visit web site www.ceibadelmar.com or call +52 (998) 872-8060.

PUERTO VALLARTA

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Jam-Packed With Things to do and see and - is Gorgeous

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board has announced that the final month of 2015 will top a successful year with over 90% occupancy rate. 2015 has already been Puerto Vallarta’s most successful year since 2008 with an average occupancy rate of 65.04% from January to November. An average of 12,326 rooms were occupied on a monthly basis with 1,793,760 international visitors coming to the city during the same period, an increase of 282,975.

Five new properties have opened in Puerto Vallarta in 2015 including Casa Kimberly, Garlands del Rio and Sunscape Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa. Three new convention spaces have also opened up.

Latest Events

All is set for the 22nd Gala Vallarta

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board and the Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau will host the 22nd edition of Gala Vallarta from January 27-29, 2016. One of Mexico’s leading tourism industry events, Gala is designed to provide local hotels and DMC’s the opportunity to do business with international buyers. Over 200 local providers will participate in this year’s Gala Vallarta and welcome some 130 international buyers representing 60 companies to Puerto Vallarta. To date, the three-day event has reported almost 900 pre-established one-on-one business meetings.

Turtle release in Puerto Vallarta

Anyone who has ever participated in the releasing of turtles at one of Puerto Vallarta´s beautiful beaches has always left with a pleasant feeling and great memories.

Vallarta cacao & chocolate festival

Engage your taste buds, minds and imaginations for a chocoholic’s dream weekend. Money may not grow on trees, but who needs that if you can grow your own chocolate? Event entry is included in regular garden admission (adolescents and adults 80 pesos, children 20 pesos).

Puerto Vallarta Artwalk

Puerto Vallarta has established itself as a vibrant center of art creation, exhibition and promotion. An important contribution to the city´s art scene is Puerto Vallarta´s ArtWalk which is held every year during the months of October through May.

"Welcome Patricias" sweepstakes --

offers the chance for 25 Patricias to win an All-expense trip for two to Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit-Manzanillo. In an effort to communicate that the Vallarta-Nayarit-Manzanillo area is fully operational post hurricane Patricia and promote travel to the region; the Mexican Tourism Board has launched a sweepstakes entitled “Welcome Patricias”. Americans and Canadians whose legal first name is Patricia can enter to win one of 25 all-expense paid trips for two to the Mexican Pacific.
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Night-Time Visits and the Illumination of Tulum's Archeological Zone

Visitors are now able to experience the site due to the illumination of the site's most emblematic monuments. There are new evening tours being organized in the archeological zone of Tulum, enhanced by audio guides in different languages. The goal of the new project is to attractively present the history of this archeological site and to expand the operating schedule to accommodate the increased number of visitors.

According to the statistics of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Tulum is the second most visited archeological site in Mexico. For foreign tourists, Tulum is the number one archeological site in Mexico based upon the number of recorded visits; it also receives the greatest amount of visitors in the state of Quintana Roo. Before initiating this project, INAH had evaluated numerous proposals that presented finding more improved methods to preserve the historical monuments, to increase the attractiveness of Tulum to the visitors, to provide more in-depth historical information and to offer overall higher standards of services.

The manager of the INAH for Quintana Roo, Adriana Velásquez Morlet, explained that evening tours invited visitors to walk along illuminated paths that lead to the main monuments, including monuments in the center of the archeological zone, the Castle, monuments in the Interior Premises and the northern part of the walled area, which includes the House of Cenote, the Temple of Paintings, the House of Halach Uinic (or Great Lord), the House of Columns and some other structures that belong to the House of Chultun.

The illumination has been carefully designed to guarantee that the monuments are safe and protected, and at the same time, permit visitors to enjoy them.

The installations were made by strictly observing the regulations of the National Board of Archeology, in that no excavations were made, the cables were placed on the surface, and the installed lights were hidden in the rocks in order to avoid any negative impact to the archeological zone.

The lamps used for evening illumination were LED-type (light-emitting diode) lamps, semiconductor devices of greater resistance and durability than traditional incandescent lamps and safe for archeological monuments and the environment. LED-type lamps are more resistant to the effects of the environment; they do not generate heat, are easy to turn off in case of hurricanes or rain storms, and consume very little energy.

The representative of the state's INAH explained that prior to every evening visit an audiovisual presentation introduces tourists to the site. Also, in order to learn more about the history of the pre-Spanish period, visitors can add an audio guide to their tour (for an additional cost added to their admission ticket). The audio guides, created by incorporating Tulum‚s archeologists‚ research, provide information about Tulum‚s history, descriptions of the monuments, as well as help in identifying them.  Ms. Velásquez stressed that the profits received from visitors who use audio guides would be used for preservation and maintenance of other historical sites of the country.

Tulum's night-time tours began this year in May and are currently organized for groups of 40 people and last for about 45 minutes. The schedule will vary according to the season, and the frequency will be gradually increased.

Easily accessible from many cities throughout the U.S., the eighty-one mile stretch known as the Riviera Maya is situated in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Beginning eleven miles south of Cancun International Airport in Puerto Morelos, the Riviera Maya extends to Tulum, one of the most important archeological sites in the Mayan World. The region features the tranquility of uncrowded beaches, a vast network of underground rivers, over 100 cenotes, the action of eco-adventure sports including kayaking, mountain biking, scuba diving, snorkeling, trekking, bird watching and deep sea fishing, proximity to many of Mexico‚s most significant Mayan archeological sites, the varied activities of the eco-archeological parks, plus golf courses, spas, shopping, gourmet dining and a range of accommodations to suit every lifestyle and budget. The Riviera Maya has been named a Top Destination in Mexico for by Travel Weekly, Orbitz and Travel + Leisure.

For more information on the Riviera Maya, visit www.rivieramaya.com.

Mazatlan Discovery Weekends

Herman Melville, Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck would tell anyone an all-inclusive trip to Mazatlan for $185 per person or $250 per couple is more than a steal. They spent hours on the coastlines and in the downtown streets of Old Mazatlan soaking in the culture and personality of this beautiful Pacific Coast town.

Now consumers can too, and they can do it resort-style and on a budget! Mexico Alive®, a Puerto Vallarta-based real estate development company, recently launched Discovery Weekends® in Mazatlan.

Discovery Weekends offer:

An all-inclusive three-night / four-day resort stay in one of Mazatlan’s El Cid Resorts, including all food and beverages
A tour of the historic city
A sunset cruise
An authentic Mexican fiesta
Tours of a variety of properties available to purchase for those who decide to make Mazatlan a permanent vacation, retirement or investment spot.

Mexico Alive’s Discovery Weekends average 40 guests and $3.5 million in sales per weekend event, and baby boomers dominate the scene. In addition to boomers, Discovery Weekends also attract retirees looking for a less-expensive lifestyles and investors seeking smart ways to re-build their retirement savings. Savvy investors have discovered how self-directed Individual Retirement Accounts are the key to unlocking consistently appreciating international real estate in exotic locations.

For more information about Mexico Alive’s Discovery Weekends and vacation home buying opportunities in Mexico, visit www.MexicoAlive.com; www.GetIntoMexico.com; www.ElCid.com; or www.TomKelly.com

Where to Stay

G6 Hospitality Breaks Ground On New Estudio 6 Property in Puerto Vallarta

G6 Hospitality, known for its iconic economy lodging brands, Motel 6 and Studio 6 in the U.S. and Canada, announced the ground breaking of its brand new Estudio 6 property in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. This is the second Estudio 6 property under development in Mexico.

To celebrate the ground breaking, G6 executives hosted a special event that welcomed a unique blend of attendees, including high-ranking national and local authorities, local and national press, special guests from major businesses in the region, as well as members of the local community. “We are very excited to begin the development of our second Estudio 6 property in Puerto Vallarta, a destination known worldwide for its beautiful beaches and unique attractions. Our brands will offer travelers the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this charming location at an affordable price,” said Jim Amorosia, President and Chief Executive Officer of G6 Hospitality.

The Estudio 6 in Puerto Vallarta is scheduled to open during the second half of 2016 and will be located in the heart of the pacific coast destination known for its beaches, history and nightlife scene. The rooms will feature elements of the company’s award winning, modern Phoenix design. Once completed, it will offer suite-type rooms with fully equipped kitchenettes, microwave, stovetop, coffee maker and refrigerator, expanded work areas, HDTVs with premium channels, free Wi-Fi, laundry, and on-site parking. These services combined with a strong brand promise of clean, comfortable rooms and great service at affordable prices makes it the perfect option for extended-stay-seeking travelers.

In 2014, the company announced the introduction of its two new brands in the Latin American market – Hotel 6 and Estudio 6 – with the signing of a development agreement with Latina Promohoteles, a division of Promodesa Commercial, headquartered in Mexico. With an investment of nearly 63 million pesos, the new Estudio 6 will feature a seven-story building with 114 rooms. "We have found the perfect balance between cost, superlative facilities and high quality service, which is what ultimately will differentiate us from other alternatives in the area,” said Juan Carlos Gonzalez Vice President of Latina Promohoteles. “Additionally, this property will be the only hotel in the area to offer comfortable and spacious rooms aimed to meet the needs of extended-stay travelers.”

G6 Hospitality was ranked one of the Top 10 Hotel Companies by Hotel Management Survey published in September 2015. With its established network, ambitious renovation efforts in the US, and the strong appeal of its Motel 6, Studio 6, Hotel 6 and Estudio 6 brands, G6 Hospitality is positioning as the leader of the economy lodging segment in the U.S., Canada and soon to be in Latin America.

For more details on franchising with G6 Hospitality or to learn more about the G6 Hospitality’s brands, please visit www.g6hospitality.com/franchising

About G6 Hospitality LLC
G6 Hospitality LLC owns, operates and franchises over 1,200 economy lodging locations under the iconic Motel 6 and the extended stay Studio 6 brands in the U.S and Canada, and Hotel 6 and Estudio 6 brands in Latin America. Headquartered in Dallas (Carrollton), Texas, G6 Hospitality was rated one of the top ten hospitality companies according to the Hotel Management 2015 Top Hotel Companies rankings list, which evaluated over 260 hotel companies. For more information please visit G6Hospitality LLC.

About Hotel 6
Hotel 6 is the newest brand introduced by G6 Hospitality exclusively designed for Latin America. Keeping with the promise of G6 Hospitality’s iconic American brands, Hotel 6 will offer a clean, comfortable room and great experiences to travelers in the region. Hotel 6’s standard offerings include free breakfast, access to internet and parking. Access the latest news at www.g6mediacenter.com or inquire about development opportunities at www.g6hospitality.com

About Estudio 6
Estudio 6 is the extended stay brand introduced by G6 Hospitality and designed to offer the affordable comfort of furnished studios, low weekly rates and accommodating hotel amenities in Latin America. Estudio 6 properties will be conveniently located nearby major business complexes and shopping areas, offering the best choice of lodging for extended stay travelers. Access the latest news at www.g6mediacenter.com or inquire about development opportunities at www.g6hospitality.com

About Latina Promohoteles
Latina Promohoteles is a subsidiary of Promodesa Commercial focused on the development of hotels in Latin America. Created in 2014 and headquartered in Mexico City, Latina Promohoteles starts operations with an aggressive growth plan for the Hotel 6 and Estudio 6 brands with the purpose of strengthening the commercial and lodging offer in key markets throughout Mexico and Latin America.

VacationsFiesta.com Offers Luxury Hotel

VacationsFiesta.com is the official Web site for the Fiesta Americana Vacation Club. Fiesta Americana Vacation Club guests have full access to all resort amenities and services, including swimming pools, gym, beaches, concierge and more. Located on the Pacific Ocean's crystal Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta is a popular paradise for celebrities. The mix of nearby mountains, tropical jungles and stretching beaches makes Puerto Vallarta a prime location for wildlife observation and outdoor activities. Inspired by the surrounding natural beauty, the area's world-class art - combining Mexican tradition with contemporary international cultures - has also become a visitor favorite and can be seen at art festivals throughout the year.

PERU

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba Opens In Peru's Sacred Valley of the Incas

Inkaterra, Peru's leader in luxury sustainable tourism, is delighted to announce the opening of its sixth property, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Immersed in the countryside in a gorgeous area of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba opens with 12 rooms set in the Casa Hacienda, including a three-room "Owners Suite," and spans approximately 100 acres. With architecture and interiors inspired by the area's cultural history, the contemporary hacienda-style hotel was designed by Denise Guislain-Koechlin with the support of her husband, Inkaterra's founder and CEO, Jose Koechlin. Mrs. Guislain-Koechlin was in charge of the hotel's layout, surrounding gardens and all interior décor, which includes custom-made furniture and the use of rare pre-Columbian textiles that adorn the property's high walls.

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba overlooks a vast panorama of the Sacred Valley, with all rooms featuring views of the valley and surrounding mountains, immersing guests in open space, serenity and relaxing solitude. At approximately 9,515 feet in altitude, guests will also experience one of the  best climates in the Cusco region.

The property features a 10-acre organic plantation where guests are welcome to pick their own produce. Crops include red, black and brown quinoa, artichokes, a unique Urubamba giant corn, purple corn, colored potatoes, lima beans, onions, beans and broccoli.  Traditional medicinal herbs are also farmed and include lemon balm, rosemary, sage, green grass, mint, chamomile, cilantro and anise, among others. All crops are completely "carbon-free," farmed with traditional hand tools and oxen as was done centuries ago.

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba offers a variety of excursions and activities, such as bird watching (there are over 30 bird species on the hotel grounds), star gazing, horseback riding, and the rare chance to ride a traditional llama cart.

This summer, 24 stand-alone luxury casitas will be unveiled, which will be laid out amongst the property's native pepper trees, high grass, cactus and wild flowers.

For more information, visit www.inkaterra.com.

There's So Much More Peru Beyond Machu Picchu -- Vaya Adventures Invites Travelers To Venture ‘Beyond Machu Picchu’
For Seldom-Seen Wonders

The power of persuasion can fill up our travel bucket lists, crowding out possibilities for exploring equally extraordinary but not as well-known places. While Machu Picchu ranks high among must-sees, less heralded regions of Peru offer their own particular intrigues.

Vaya Adventures (www.vayaadventures.com), an expert in designing premier bespoke vacations in South America, acknowledges that Machu Picchu is justifiably the country’s largest tourist draw.  But for scenery and culture seekers who want to go to the next level of exploration, the rest of Peru is a goldmine. Three examples are Choquequirao, Lake Titicaca, and Peru’s seldom-visited North.

“The Choquequirao archaeological site is a remote 15th century Incan citadel in southern Peru currently being reclaimed from the enveloping jungle. It is accessed via a two-day hike (starting from a village some five hours from Cusco) on a magnificent and entirely different Inca Trail. This is an alternative to the standard Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu, affording breathtaking Andean scenery en route to another stunning hilltop sanctuary, but with one difference: zero crowds,” says Jim Lutz, Vaya Adventures’ founder and director.

“Then there is Lake Titicaca, which displays vibrant ancient cultures around the world’s highest navigable body of water (in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia). Here, visitors experience the many traditional cultures living around the lake as they have for centuries,” says Lutz. Varied options exist for exploring this area, from rustic homestays with local residents to active kayaking and hiking explorations to five-star amenities at Titilaca Lodge, a Relais & Chateaux.

Travelers accessing Lake Titicaca through Puno may want to schedule their visit during one of the two major events celebrated there annually. In February there’s the two-week Virgen de la Candelaria, one of the greatest religious folk festivals in South America. In early November (1st & 2nd) families to pay homage to their departed relatives during the Day of the Dead observance.

“Another place that is still off most people’s radar that is well worth considering is Peru’s Northern Coast and Andes region. This is one of the most exceptional and least explored areas of the country that offers spectacular ruins of several pre-Incan civilizations,” Lutz adds. These magnificent ancient kingdoms include the Royal Tombs of the Lord of Sipan, the massive ruins of the Kuelap Fortress, the unique site of Karajia with its striking funerary towers, and the colorful cliff-side mausoleums of Revash.

“Due to their remoteness and the comparative fame of Machu Picchu, these sites rarely see tourists. Visitors can experience the ruins with unparalleled privacy and tranquility. This route through the northern region of Peru also takes you over the eastern crest of the Andes Mountains into the upper Amazon Basin, allowing you to experience the varied vegetation and gorgeous scenery of the country, as well as see some of its charming colonial and Andean villages,” he says.

These regions of Peru can be explored year-round. Per person rates including lodging (double occupancy), meals, ground transportation, private guide services, and entrance fees starts at around $2,900 for 8 days. For more details please see web site www.vayaadventures.com/peru-beyond-machu-picchu/

For more information, trip planning, availability and reservations please visit www.vayaadventures.com or call 800-342-1796.

About Vaya Adventures
Jim Lutz, a Harvard graduate and former lawyer, founded Vaya Adventures in 2004 out of a desire to share his passion for South America with others. This private custom-travel company leaves no stone unturned when it comes to understanding the history and culture of the regions its guests visit, thanks to extensive first-hand research and an expansive network of contacts in each destination, including the finest private guides. Vaya Adventures emphasizes accommodations, restaurants, and neighborhoods that reflect the best of the local culture, studiously avoiding the generic, the touristy, and the corporate. Through low-impact tourism and a sustainable supply chain, Vaya Adventures strives to create a strong positive incentive for the preservation of both historic and natural environments in South America. Lutz is also President of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association, an organization of over 40 companies working to promote conservation and sustainable tourism in the Galapagos Islands.

Inka Terra Association (ITA) Opens Rolin Island Fauna Rescue Center in the Peruvian Amazon

Inkaterra, through its partner NGO, Inka Terra Association (ITA) has launched a rescue center on a secluded island across the Madre de Dios River from Inkaterra's Reserva Amazonica. The 55-acre island has been developed into a rescue, rehabilitation, and re-introduction facility for wildlife confiscated by INRENA (National Institute of Natural Resources), Tourism Police, and the National Ecology Police of Peru (formerly Green Police).

The island refuge -- also known as Isla de los Monos or "Monkey Island" -- is located adjacent to the Tambopata National Reserve and provides an ideal setting to restore the health, eating habits and behavior of wildlife in a semi-captive setting in the wild. The natural island setting gives the center a controlled environment that allows ITA and its partners to monitor and research specimens before re-introducing them to the wild.

The creation of the center came as a result of research findings conducted on the region's fauna. In 1989 a University of Kansas study (with support from the National Geographic Society) found 13 primate species in the region. A 1998 TReeS-Ramos-Tambopata assessment found only six species present in the area. The rapid drop in population -- from 13 to 6 in a nine-year span -- raised concern over the future of Tambopata National Reserve's primate population and prompted ITA to focus its efforts on the rescue and protection of its current primate inhabitants. As a result, the Rolin Island project prioritizes work with four of the region's most affected species: Brown Capuchin (Cebus apella), White Fronted Capuchin (Cebus albifrons), Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri boliviensis) and the Saddle-backed Tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis).

The Rolin Island Fauna Rescue Center is comprised of various medical and research facilities. It includes an Interpretation Center for visitors wishing to learn more about the Island's wildlife and ITA's conservation initiatives.  Guests from Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica can take advantage of the center in guided half-day excursions through a system of observation and feedings trails that include sloth and reptile viewings.

For more information on ITA and the Rolin Island Rescue Center, visit www.inkaterra.com/ita-peru/index.html.

ABOUT INKA TERRA ASSOCIATION:
ITA is an NGO founded to conserve the environment, ecosystems, cultural and archaeological natural resources, and maintain an ecological equilibrium while preserving Peru's cultural identity. Since its creation in 2001, ITA´s sustainable development initiatives have brought an array of programs carried out at INKATERRA RESERVA AMAZONICA (Tambopata, Madre de Dios) and INKATERRA MACHU PICCHU (Machu Picchu, Cusco). Its strategic partnerships and agreements with institutions throughout Peru and the world have established a network in which private business profits are invested in the conservation, education, and social development of native communities.

ABOUT INKATERRA:
Inkaterra is a Peruvian organization with more than 30 years of experience in sustainable tourism initiatives. It focuses on preserving and rescuing Peru's geography, nature, customs and cultures and sharing them with the world.

It currently operates INKATERRA MACHU PICCHU, a 12-acre property at the base of Machu Picchu Mountain; INKATERRA RESERVA AMAZONICA, located on the Madre de Dios River; and INKATERRA LA CASONA, a newly opened 11-suite boutique hotel in the historic city of Cusco.

SAN MIGUEL

Casa De Sierra Nevada and Sazon Cooking School

The ultimate pairing for travelers with a penchant for cooking is at Sazón, the cooking school in an 18th century colonial mansion, and Casa de Sierra Nevada, the famed Orient-Express hotel.

At Casa de Sierra Nevada guests will enjoy one of 33 rooms housed in five “casonas” - colonial mansions -- each featuring five to seven guestrooms or suites, surrounded by cloistered outdoor courtyards with fountains, small gardens and al fresco corridors. Each guest room is architecturally unique and is furnished in its own individual décor. All capture the rich history of the area with decorative touches such as hand painted Talavera tiles, bovedas - curved or domed ceilings, canterra fireplaces, polished copper sinks or original paintings by local artists.

Sazón is a cooking school and retail store. The word derives from the verb “sazonar” meaning “to season or spice.” 

The cooking school offers a variety of programs ranging from two hour cooking classes on local specialties and tours of the market to week-long culinary packages.

Sazón's retail space offers hand-blown glassware, vivid textiles, and artful pottery created exclusively for Sazón by Mexico's master artists. The store also offers traditional Mexican cazuelas, molcajetes, and signed folk pottery along with some of the latest kitchen finery and gadgetry. 

A lavish central courtyard - just off the retail spaces - has a kitchen herb garden, a soothing fountain, and an open dining room with a massive stone fireplace.

To reach San Miguel de Allende fly into either Mexico City (a three and a half hour drive) or the Guanajuato-Leon Airport (one and a half hour drive.) The Guanajuato-Leon Airport has direct flights from Dallas, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. 

For additional information or reservations from the USA: 011-52-415-154-7671 or toll-free 1-800-701-1561. To view on-line visit web site www.sazonsanmiguel.com or www.casadesierranevada.com.

About Casa de Sierra Nevada

Opened in 1952, Casa de Sierra Nevada, located a few blocks from the main city square of San Miguel, has 33 rooms spread among nine 16th to 18th century Colonial mansions including: Casa del Parque, a former fort in the 17th century which became a customs house catering to the silver trade; and Casa Principal, the former residence of San Miguel de Allende's Archbishop in 1580, now an official historical landmark. Centuries old architecture and individually designed buildings and guest rooms combined with genuine Mexican hospitality create a true residential feel. 

About Orient-Express Hotels, Trains & Cruises

Orient-Express Hotels, Trains & Cruises is a hotel and leisure company providing luxury travel experiences for discerning travelers. Founded in 1976 when the company acquired the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Orient-Express owns or has investments in 49 businesses: 39 highly individual hotels, two restaurants, six tourist trains and two river cruise operations, operating in 25 countries worldwide. For additional information, please call 1-800-237-1236 or visit www.orient-express.com.

SAN PANCHO/SAN FRANCISCO

Hotel Cielo Rojo Boutique Hotel Opens

The Hotel Cielo Rojo in San Pancho/San Francisco, a quiet beach town retreat just thirty miles north of Puerta Vallarta, offers pristine, clear water beaches for swimming, sunbathing and surfing. Natural beauty and old-world Mexican charm means donkeys share the cobblestone streets and roosters are your wake up call. 

Featuring modern Mexican architecture decorated with art, photography and antiques, the hotel also has a restaurant -- Azucena -- serving healthy, Alta Mexican cuisine.

For more information contact Jennifer Gross at jennifer@evolutionarymediagroup.com

VERONA

The Spa at Verana

The Vision

The very intimate Verana hotel occupies an exquisitely serene setting perched above the Bay of Banderas amid the swaying palms of the Valle del Sierra Oriental, just south of Puerto Vallarta. So, it’s only natural to wonder what spa would befit this dramatic intersection of tropical splendor, chic-yet-rustic architecture and pampered luxury on the very roof of Mexico’s southwestern coast.

The answer is the Spa at Verana – and it rises to the challenge beautifully. Owners and creators Heinz Legler and Veronique Lievre have fashioned a destination oasis that perfectly embraces Verana’s blend of earthy simplicity and understated elegance, delivered with exquisite attention to detail and unabashed service. Taking their cue from the unadulterated setting and commitment to creating as natural and holistic a guest experience as possible, the two have crafted one of Mexico’s most remarkable places of personal respite.

Treatment Philosophy

The Spa at Verana’s striking indoor-outdoor orientation maximizes its jungle setting – as well as every guest experience. While many of the most compelling treatment spaces are outdoors, subtle design cues and lush plantings ensure complete privacy without detracting from the natural drama.

Also befitting the Spa’s locale, Legler and Lievre have pledged themselves to administering treatments and proprietary product inspired by indigenous ingredients grown on property or found naturally in the neighboring coastal jungles – including volcanic stone, coffee, coconut, banana, avocado, lemongrass and botanicals used in facials, body washes and scrubs. The result is a harmony of body, soul and nature simply unheard of at conventional spas.

Guests begin each Verana treatment with a soothing footbath ritual while sipping a custom blend of herbal tea amid ocean breezes and aromas of lemongrass, plumeria and other jungle succulents. From there, respite-seekers can opt for facials, scrubs, body washes, massages, yoga and a number of innovative treatment packages – or take advantage of a Spa at Verana exclusive: a Watsu massage, an experience similar to receiving a Zen Shiatsu in a warm water womb.

Facials and Scrubs

All treatment facials include a deep cleanse, exfoliation, masque, emolliating hand and foot massage. The Honey & Citrus Facial combines pure honey with citrus juice and a cucumber recovery to tighten and replenish, while the Banana & Avocado Facelift targets sun-damaged skin with a creamy, customized mask based on two of nature’s most vitamin-rich offerings. So natural is the Organic Facial, guests can actually see and feel the fresh fruit pulp, herbs and other indigenous ingredients in the mask as it cleanses, hydrates, exfoliates and nourishes.

Scrubs at the Spa follow the same emphasis on natural ingredients and are followed by an effleurage massage to ensure maximum relaxation. Options include the Salt Glow & Ginger Scrub, combining the warmth of ginger with exfoliating sea salt, and the Coconut & Sugar Scrub, culminating in a stimulating bath of warm coconut rinse leaving skin creamy, healthy and invigorated.

Body Washes, Massages and Baths

Body washes and massages begin with a soothing scalp and foot massage. The Banana De-tox Wash uses bananas to draw-out impurities and yogurt to tone and moisturize the skin, while the Cucumber Cooling Wash pampers guests who may have indulged a bit too much in the Mexican sun with a cucumber- and aloe-infused treatment designed to cool and begin the healing process.

Offering guests a true customizable experience, the Jungle Massage, administered in the Spa’s private massage hut, is an integrative experience blending the latest deep-tissue, Swedish, Shiatsu, hot-stone or Thai massage technique fused with aromatherapy. To maximize guest options, a 30-minute version is also offered.

Baths at the Spa take on dramatic flair thanks to imposing stone walls that magically transform into a romantic backdrop of flickering candles and star-filled skies after sunset. The Healing Bath, given in the Spa's plein-air, Japanese-style soaking tubs, calls upon essential oils, bath salts and herbs to relax and release toxins, while the Starlight Aromatherapy Bath, a deep-water, nighttime experience creates the ultimate interlude for romantics; milk and honey infused water, illuminating candles and fragrant flowers offer a private sanctuary for couples seeking an alluring oasis.

Watsu Massage

Guests can enjoy the sublime art of Watsu massage—a soothing type of massage that takes place in waist-deep water, warmed to body temperature. Its name derived from a combination of the words “water” and “shiatsu.”

Floating into blissful states of relaxation, guests are held in warm water by a technician who gently twirls and massages the entire body, first one way then another, taking your body through a series of passive stretches and twists to accomplish deeply restorative and therapeutic effects on the body.

The buoyancy and support of the water allows the spinal column to be moved in ways that aren't possible on land. Akin to Zen Shiatsu, this warm water therapy encourages emotional equilibrium while promoting trust and connection.

Yoga

Protruding from the hillside near the pool, the private yoga deck seems to float mid-air, proving a dramatic backdrop for personal exercises and mental escape. Accomplished instructors guide guests through a series of morning, afternoon and private poses for those seeking clarity and emotional harmony.

His and Her Packages

Customized packages offer something for every guest, whether seeking companionship or a solo escape. Designed for a romantic evening, the Romance package facilitates unencumbered languishing in the complete privacy of a striking candlelit, aromatherapy bath while stargazing amid the aromas of plumeria and lemongrass. Unlimited dips in the Watsu pool offer the finishing touches to restoring romance in this epic setting. Meanwhile, the Wellness package blends yoga with an organically inspired facial, wrap and Thai massage for the ultimate detox, while aptly titled Happiness delivers on its promise with an assortment of the Spa’s most deliciously popular treatments, including the Coconut & Sugar Scrub, Banana & Avocado Facial and Milk & Honey Bath.

For more information, check web site www.verana.com

RIVIERA NAYARIT

Riviera Nayarit is Mexico's Newest Destination

There’s a great new destination in Mexico and now it has a name: Riviera Nayarit. With the launch of this exciting destination, comes an amazing transformation of 100 miles of Pacific coastline north of Vallarta which will take place in the next decade. Already this spectacular new destination has over 12,000 hotel rooms, two-thirds of which are four-star to five diamond; four major golf courses and protected ecotourism.

At Tianguis Acapulco on March 27, 2007, the Governor of the Mexican state of Nayarit, Mr. Ney González, officially named this new destination Riviera Nayarit, delineating its location from the Rio Ameca at Nuevo Vallarta to the colonial town of San Blas including the exclusive resort enclave, Punta Mita.

Riviera Nayarit’s official logo features its mascot, the sea turtle which is a protected species in the region.

Riviera Nayarit’s official web site, www.VisitRivieraNayarit.com will provide travelers with key information so that they can plan their vacation accordingly. Information on the web site will include features on the region’s attractions like eco-tourism and major events.

New developments that are taking place in Riviera Nayarit include:

A major new resort area called Litibu which will inaugurate a Greg Norman golf course in December

An elegant St. Regis Resort in Punta Mita

A second Jack Nicklaus designed golf course at the spectacular Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita

A new marina and future resort development at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.

Hugging 100 miles of Pacific coast north of Puerto Vallarta and protected by the dramatic Sierra Madre Mountains, Riviera Nayarit blends the timeless authenticity of Mexican culture and hospitality with the latest in tourism facilities and services. The Four Seasons and St. Regis are among the hotel companies bringing a new level of luxury; superstars like Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus are redefining the game of golf here. An extraordinary abundance of wildlife from giant manta rays and whales to protected sea turtles and rare migratory birds draw both vacationers and experts from around the world. And, with ambitious plans for new resorts, hotels and recreational facilities, Riviera Nayarit is well on its way toward making a major impact on North American tourism.

For visitors, the gateway to Riviera Nayarit is Puerto Vallarta International Airport, only ten minutes away from Nuevo Vallarta. Most of the region’s current tourism facilities are located on Banderas Bay, one of the world’s largest bays, which is also renowned for its extensive variety of water sports from diving and snorkeling to sailing and deep sea fishing. 

Riviera Nayarit is also fast-becoming one of Mexico’s foremost golfing destinations. Renowned professionals and designers such as Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Robert Von Hagge, Jim Lipe and Joe Finger have created aesthetically pleasing golf courses with varying degrees of difficulty. Among the highlights is the El Tigre Golf Club at Paradise Village designed by Von Hagge; the Jack Nicklaus designed course at the Four Seasons Golf Club in Punta Mita; and the Mayan Golf Resorts Vallarta by Lipe.

Ecological wonders abound on this “slice of heaven on earth,” like whale watching on a catamaran, viewing of sea turtle preservation efforts and snorkeling in crystal clear aquamarine waters to get closer to colorful coral reefs and underwater species. Precious ecological sanctuaries for rare birds are located in Islas Marietas and La Tovara National Park. In Las Caletas and Banderas Bay, visitors can even swim and interact with friendly seals. For outdoor adventurers the rich natural habitat that is Sierra Madre beckons culminating in a visual hike and 2,000 feet stop above sea-level.

North of Banderas Bay and Punta Mita are miles of seemingly endless white sand beaches, the somewhat bohemian surfing town of Sayulita and friendly fishing villages where new tourism facilities will be developed in the next decade. Driving along the thickly forested and scenic two lane highway north of Punta Mita to San Blas, visitors cannot resist stopping in colorful roadside markets to sample homemade candies, fresh juices and succulent tropical fruits.   

Riviera Nayarit’s cultural history dates back thousands of years, encompassing four ethnic traditions, including pre-Columbian cultures and the Huichols. Nayarit’s excellent preservation of its culture can be seen in its native Huichol tribe who have preserved their rich culture and ancient beliefs through their art. The Huichols are renowned for the detailed bead sculptures that contain elaborate symbols borne out of their culture and shamanistic traditions. Mexcaltitan is a small island of floating mangroves that is reputed to be the birthplace of the Aztecs. Archeological sites with hundreds of petroglyphs and vestiges of ancient villages remain still waiting to become accessible to visitors.

For more information on Riviera Nayarit visit www.VisitRivieraNayarit.com.

About Riviera Nayarit

Riviera Nayarit is Mexico’s newest travel destination stretching along 100 miles of pristine Pacific coast framed by spectacular mountains which unfolds minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport. Mostly undeveloped, the destination extends from  the resorts of  Nuevo Vallarta to the  historic, colonial town of San Blas, including exclusive Punta Mita and the spectacular Banderas Bay. The region features luxury resorts and eco-tourism boutique hotels, world-renowned surfing, four professional golf courses, rare native wildlife including sea turtles and tropical birds, mountain and island adventures, shopping for local artwork and traditional Huichol handicrafts, charming fishing towns and miles of serene beaches.

Long Sought After Bird Spotted in Peruvian Nature Reserve

The extremely rare Long-whiskered Owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi), a species that wasn’t discovered until 1976, and until now was only known from a few specimens captured in nets after dark, has been seen in the wild for the first time by researchers monitoring the Area de Conservación Privada de Abra Patricia – Alto Nieva, a private conservation area in Northern Peru. The sighting is considered a holy grail of South American ornithology and has not been accomplished in thirty years, despite the efforts of hundreds of birders.

The species is among the world’s smallest owls. It is so distinct that it has been named in its own genus: Xenoglaux meaning “strange owl” on account of the long wispy feathers or whiskers that stream out from its wild-looking reddish-orange eyes. The owl inhabits the dense undergrowth of mountain forests in a remote part of northern Peru.

The Long-whiskered Owlet has previously been captured by researchers on at least three occasions, but until 2002 nothing was known of the bird’s natural history. At that point, calls were recorded from a captive bird, but its biology still remained virtually unknown. Last month, researchers Geale and Juvenal Ccahuana, rangers of Abra Patricia and monitors of the MNBCA program from Alto Mayo, encountered the owlet three times during daylight hours and recorded its calls frequently at night. Several photographs were also taken of a bird captured in a mist-net and later released onto a tree branch where it posed for photographs before disappearing into the night. These additional photos are available at www.abcbirds.org/whiskeredowlpic.htm.

The northeastern section of the Peruvian Yungas, comprises habitat for 317 resident bird species, of which 23 are considered globally threatened. The conservation area also protects much of the known habitat for the endangered Ochre-fronted Antpitta, and has been declared a priority by the Alliance for Zero Extinction. Other endemics in the area include the endangered Royal Sunangel (a hummingbird), the rare and recently-described Johnson’s Tody-Tyrant, and the endangered Ash-throated Antwren.

Several songbirds that breed in North America such as the beautiful Blackburnian Warbler also use these forests during the winter. Other migratory species include the Broad-winged Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Swainson's Thrush, and Alder Flycatcher. In total, 29 neotropical migrant species use this area, of which 13 are of conservation concern. Nearly 98% of the reserve consists of well-preserved stands of typical Yungas forests, and it is also considered a rich area for orchids.

ABC’s work in the region is supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Conoco Phillips, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Robert Wilson. Birdwatchers wishing to search for the owl should contact Hugo Arnal at American Bird Conservancy (see: <http://www.abcbirds.org/>www.abcbirds.org). Access is strictly limited to small groups and the chances of success though better than in the past are still considered very low for anything but the luckiest groups.

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is the only 501(c)(3) organization that works solely to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC is a membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

SOUTH AMERICA

Class Adventure Travel Launches New Tours to the Esteros Del Iberá Wetlands

South American based tour operator, Class Adventure Travel (CAT), announced an all new destination for 2015, Esteros del Iberá. Specializing in tailor-made
tours with year-round departures throughout Central and South America, Class Adventure Travel now offers three tours, combining the majestic Machu Picchu and Iguazu Falls with the Esteros del Iberá wetlands.

The Esteros del Iberá wetlands are home to some of South America’s most iconic wildlife such as the capybara and caiman, and stretches across 3.2 million acres of the Province of Corrientes in Argentina. Iberá, meaning ‘Brilliant Water’ to the local Guarani population, encompasses a vast protected wetland (Esteros) and offers a refuge within the boundaries of the reserve. Esteros del Iberá wetlands!

Accessibility to the wetlands has, for years, been very difficult, alienating this vibrant habitat from curious travelers. This firm is thrilled to start offering tours throughout the wetlands as a part of its destination portfolio, allowing adventurous travelers an opportunity to explore this breathtaking landscape and take part in a new and exciting experience.”

As Argentina’s largest natural reserve and the second largest body of fresh water after the Pantanal in Brazil, the Esteros del Iberá wetlands are a haven for wildlife spotting and outdoor activities. Just as diverse as the wildlife on display, there are a number of unforgettable ways to see the wild animals in their natural habitat and explore this stunning environment. Activities include boat trips, horseback riding with local gauchos, twilight safaris and bird watching. Class Adventure Travel Owner & Team Leader Marc Harrison explains, “2015 is the year to visit." The CAT offers three lodging levels, including comfortable bed and breakfast options (Comfort Package), unique boutique dwellings (Superior Package), and world class luxury accommodation (Luxury Package).
CAT Esteros del Iberá Tours
Buenos Aires, Iguazu & Esteros del Iberá
(9-day Tour, starting at $3,899)
Buenos Aires, Esteros del Iberá, Iguazu & Rio de Janeiro (11-day Tour, starting at $4,599)
Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu, Esteros del Iberá
& Buenos Aires (14-day Tour, starting at $5,999)

About Class Adventure Travel
Established in 1997, Class Adventure Travel (CAT) is the Latin American Travel Expert. CAT has headquarters in Austin, Texas plus six regional office s throughout Latin America. Its passionate group of international travel specialists creates tailor-made, authentic vacations throughout Latin America. For more information go to web site www.cat-travel.com/

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