Dec 8, 2013 / 5:00 am
Found 145 km south of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica is an island paradise that is known for its tropical beauty, leisurely pace and lively music scene. Jamaica is best described as a cultural melting pot influenced by a diverse population and thriving tourism industry. The crystal waters of the sea, lush tropical beauty and centuries of history lend themselves to a vacation destination favoured by holiday travelers and honeymooners alike.
Warm and humid all year round, the weather is fairly stable with only the occasional storm. As can be expected from any island destination, water sports are popular with miles of powdery beaches, reefs and many sunken ships to explore. Jamaica also offers some of the most spectacular and challenging golf courses, mountain hiking, shopping and local sightseeing.
With a variety of accommodation options there is a place to stay that will fit all budgets. From local B&B's to Luxury All Inclusive resorts, there's something for every style.
The "Cannot Miss" Spots:
Straddling grand history and dynamic modern culture, this capital of contrasts is Jamaica's government and commerce center.
With its "Hip Strip" booming with shops, restaurants and clubs, championship golf courses on lavish resorts, and legendary Colonial great houses - Montego Bay's natural beauty and man-made luxury make it a beloved destination. It's also of great popularity as one of the world's most well known locations for destination weddings.
Favorite destination for families, honeymooners and spring breakers. Negril's picturesque coast, lined with towering cliffs and bustling beaches, is home to many world-class all-inclusive resorts, as well as nightlife hotspots.
From the natural beauty of its waterfalls, rivers and beaches to the grandeur of its all-inclusive resorts, Ocho Rios is a favorite destination for all types of travelers, including eco-tourists, families, sports buffs, beach bummers and honeymooners.
From its days as the "banana capital of the world" and, as the best-kept secret vacation spot of Hollywood's rich and famous, Port Antonio's eclectic heritage and majestic landscapes make it the perfect destination for travelers seeking an authentic Jamaican travel experience.
Travel to the South Coast and you'll discover hidden treasures, serene beaches and some of the best seafood eateries in the world. Visit the crocodile-filled Black River and socialize with a welcoming people who love to share their culture and traditions with visitors.
To learn more about Jamaica or to start planning your own Jamaican Holiday, stop in to see your Travel Agent!
Nov 24, 2013 / 5:00 am
So if you see something online; why is it best to check it out with a travel professional first? Well, I could overwhelm you with 15 years worth of stories.... credit card fraud, didn't read the 'fine print', clicked the wrong box, showed up to no flight, overpaid, etc.
But instead of a barrage of negativity - especially when we all know perfectly well that the internet is a valuable resource for all travel plans - I'd rather point out the positives of using a professional Travel Consultant.
Planning a trip properly is the #1 key to successfully enjoying yourself while on vacation. Some people prefer to do all the work themselves: booking hotels, flights and excursions; usually doing so online.
With the world-wide-web of online shopping, it seems travel agencies may becoming a thing of the past. But is that really the case?
According to a global survey done by New Media UK, in 2012 only 30% of those who visited a online travel shopping site to make a booking said price was the reason they stopped shopping. But after price, functionality and site design were among the biggest stumbling blocks for prospective customers. Twelve percent of those who did not finalize a reservation experienced a booking problem, while 8% gave up after being unable to find the information they sought.
The statistics being what they are, a Travel Agent just might be what you really need ! And here's why....
Travel agents make their living on knowing the ins and outs of all steps of the process, from initial planning to when and where to go to the best deals and the latest travel trends. If you have questions, your travel agent will get you all the answers. Not only that, a travel agent is there as your support and guide should something go awry while you're on vacation IN your destination. Your travel agent will also be able to advise you on the different entry and exit requirements of each country such as passport and visa requirements.
When considering whether to book on your own or to use a professional, here are a few other points to ponder:
- What do you do if the hotel has lost your reservation?
- What do you do if the car rental agency has run out of cars?
- Do you have special requirements for your holiday such as a medical condition?
Specifically, who are you going to call? Who's going to help you? The hotel? The car rental company? Not booking via a Travel Agent means you're on your own.
If you book through a travel agent, all you have to do is make one simple phone call. And remember, most businesses are more likely to listen to travel agencies rather than an individual complaint, because they do not want to lose the relationship and repeated business that a travel agency provides.
Other benefits to using a travel agency are that you can tell your travel agent exactly what you want, including the type of hotels, activities and any special needs you have. And then the travel agent can take care of everything. If you are busy working and/or caring for a family, you may not have time to research vacations and select the best one, whereas a travel agent can do all the planning for you. And if you're not sure about what exactly it is that you want, the psychology of travel comes into play: a Travel Agent knows just the right questions to ask in order to fulfil a destination or travel style need you may not have known you had.
Deals and Sell-offs
Your travel agent has the inside scoop on sales and deals in the travel industry. If you want to get the best bang for your buck, a travel agent is your best bet. Your agent works within your budget and will always be on the lookout for seat sales and other discounts. Agents have the resources to direct you to age specific discounts, early booking bonus promotions, low season travel dates, two for one deals, kid's fly free specials, discounted group booking specials and much more!
How do you find a good travel agent?
Choose one like you would a doctor, lawyer or mechanic. Get advice from friends and relatives who use an agent they trust. Since travel choices are personal decisions that reflect individual desires and lifestyles, you will want to visit or call several travel agencies to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider everything from the appearance of the office to the travel agent's willingness to listen to you and answer any of our questions. The best agents want to establish a long-term relationship with a client, not just make one sale.
The Great Debate on Man (or Woman) vs. Internet
It's good to keep in mind that computers are just machines and cannot do the best job for everyone. You should definitely call a travel agent if you:
- would prefer to trust an agent with years of experience, who knows all the tips and tricks, who asks all the right questions and who cares about whether or not you get what you pay for out of your vacation experience.
- don't have time to enter the same data repeatedly on every different website (this can be so overly time consuming!)
- have become frustrated with the online booking tools.
- don't trust the internet with your credit card information - fraud is extremely rampant in this day of modern technology so why put yourself at unnecessary risk?
- have a complicated itinerary, with multiple destinations, open-jaws, or stopovers.
- want a round-the-world ticket.
- are totally flexible, are flying halfway round the world, and don't care how you get there, just as long as it's the least expensive flights available.
- have different people flying together, only part of the way, or are part of a group.
- are not convinced that the internet has the best options for you.
- have special requests, such as unaccompanied minors, specific dietary requirements, or disabled passengers, or want to take your pet along.
- are wondering if you need a visa, passport or inoculations to enter the country you plan on visiting.
The question of whether or not to use a Travel Agent is ultimately up to you, but there are some very compelling reasons to do so. Booking a trip with a travel agent can save you both time and money as well as the headache and stress that may come from not using a professional.
Oct 27, 2013 / 5:00 am
There is a growing evidence base about the factors influencing good health and well-being. Researchers are using this evidence to develop effective health promotion and prevention initiatives for a variety of populations. One of these initiatives is Health Retreat Travel. Here are some of the world's top retreats to promote health, wellness and purification for both the mind and body. For more info on these top ranked retreats or to make a reservation contact your local travel agent.
Brenner’s Park Hotel & Spa, Baden-Baden Germany
One of Europe’s first spas, this is a grand hotel doesn't disappoint. Its enormous spa is divided into theme areas using specific products, such as Sisley botanical treatments, aromatic steam rooms, Finnish and Bio saunas (featuring colored lighting panels for chakra balancing) and a cool plunge pool. After you've finished your treatments for the day, head to the relaxation room overlooking a courtyard or stroll through Lichtentaler Allee park path which leads to the Museum Frieder Burda.
Baden-Baden is a beautiful little town where 800,000 liters of healing thermal waters flow from 12 springs each day. The ruins of the Roman bathhouses are preserved as a museum under the Römerplatz. A pass to the Friedrichsbad Roman-Irish bath above the ruins and other thermal-water day spas are a inexpensive and interesting option for visitors whose pocket books don't afford the Brenner's Spa features.
Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Arizona USA
The gold standard of detox retreats, Canyon Ranch has become synonymous with relaxation, rejuvenation and total luxury. The all-inclusive health resort and luxury spa caters to the rich and famous, offering the best in healthy cuisine, spa services, body work, fitness activities, and spirituality and meditation facilities. The resort also offers educational opportunities to help you make a long-lasting commitment to healthy living. One-week all-inclusive stays start at $11,740 per person
The Pritikin Program was founded more than 50 years ago by Mr. Nathan Pritikin, an engineer who became interested in health and nutrition after he was diagnosed with heart disease at age 41. It advocates regular exercise and a diet high in fibre-rich fruit and vegetables, and low in fat. Your stay at the center, starts with an evaluation by a physician that includes cardio-metabolic stress testing. There are exercises each morning with a group and workshops in nutrition, stress management and health. The food is plentiful and contains no butter, added salt or sugar. The minimum duration of stay is a week, but they highly recommend longer stays to experience the full benefits of all the facility features.
Harem Escape, Marrakech, Morocco
This luxury Moroccan getaway for women comes with everything you could want in a wellness getaway: Yoga, meditation, spa treatments, organic fine dining, a gorgeous setting and poolside lounging. Harem Escape describes itself as an "oriental paradise where [guests] are encouraged to leave behind the stresses of the world" and it's undoubtedly the perfect place for stress relief. The intimate property containing just nine rooms is nestled on 24 acres of desert grounds just outside the vibrant city of Marrakech.
Ananda In The Himalayas, Uttarakhand, India
A luxury hotel and spa in the foothills of the Himalayas just might be the perfect place to recharge your health and lower your stress levels. At Ananda in the Himalayas, guests can spend their days practicing yoga and meditation, eating organic health food, and exploring the tranquil forests surrounding restored Viceregal Palace. Try the yogic detox or stress management package for a wellness immersion.
Bad Wörishofen, Germany
Bad Wörishofen, a whole spa town about 85 kilometres west of Munich. Sebastian Kneipp, a priest who discovered the curative effects of its water in the late 1800s is the proprietor of this town, which is solely dedicated to health, wellness and purification. People came from all over the world to benefit from Kneipp water therapies, which use alternating warm and cold water to stimulate circulation. Father Kneipp had a holistic approach to well-being, prescribing daily exercise, medicinal herbs, meditation and a nutritious diet to his patients.
The town features an attractive pedestrian zone,expertly manicured gardens, outdoor concert area and a museum portraying Kneipp’s life and achievements. An outdoor orchestra also performs three times a day. You could spend days at the enormous South Seas Therme Bad Wörishofen. Under a huge glass dome, you can swam in turquoise thermal waters surrounded by natural palm trees. Or soak in pools enriched with brine, sulfur, calcium, iodine and selenium. There are multiple themed saunas, including one called Backhäusle where you can actually bake your own bread.
Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort, Costa Rica
Tabacón, in central Costa Rica, is surrounded by tropical rainforests and is near Arenal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Rainwater, which enters the earth through fissures on the surface, is heated by magma, creating wonderful natural thermal springs both on the spa’s property and all around the area. In between spa treatments and fine meals, you can enjoy hot-spring pools surrounded by exotic gardens, thick tropical vegetation and waterfalls, within view of the volcano. Upon arrival you are met with a nutritionist to go over meals for the week based on preferences and body type. A chef from India prepared the meals, which are largely vegetarian and delicious. Most packages include several spa treatments in an open-air bungalow set in the lush gardens of the thermal spring area where you can listen to the sounds of the waterfalls, the birds and the rain.
Health Retreat Destinations
Oct 13, 2013 / 5:00 am
Guyana is one of the few Caribbean countries that is not an island and, is the only South American nation whose official language is English. Known as the "Land of many waters" Guyana is bordered by Suriname, Brazil, Venezuela and to the north by the Atlantic Ocean; with it's 215,000 square kilometers (83,000 sq. mi.) housing a population of over 770,000.
More than 80% of Guyana is still covered by forests, making it an excellent hiking area for the adventure seeker. Approximately eight thousand species of plants occur in Guyana, half of which are found nowhere else so it's a horticulturists dream come true !
Guyana has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world with 1,168 vertebrate species and over 1,600 bird species. With Jaguars, Tapirs, Bush Dogs, Anteaters and Monkeys this tropical paradise is an excellent place for both the bird watcher and animal lover.
Kaieteur National Park, including the Kaieteur Falls is the most famous of the country's features. The Kaieteur Falls is the world's largest single-drop waterfall by volume and a spectacular sight to see on your journey through this country. Another ''must see'' is St.George's Anglican Church located in the country's capital Georgetown. It is the second tallest wooden church structure in the world.
Guyana offers an extensive range of accommodation types including resorts, hotels, rental homes and Bed & Breakfasts. For full cultural immersion a traveler can find many food shops and eateries dishing out local cuisines such as: roti, curries, pastries, cakes, soups, Brazilian style cuisines, Chinese cuisines, salads, BBQ cook-up, metamgee dishes, pepperpot cooking, bakes, and seafood dishes. Their two most famous beverages are Banks Beer and El Dorado Rum which usually becomes a favorite quickly among visitors.
With a variety of festivals going through the year there is always something to experience from comedy festivals, to motor racing, fishing and food - there's something going on every week of the year.
For more details on traveling to this diverse and beautiful country, pop on in to see your local Travel Agent!
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- Luxury travel: not for the faint of wallet! May 6
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