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Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Moon Palace wraps up US$22 million renovation

Palace Resorts completed a US$22 million renovation of the Nizuc unit of the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort. The Mexico resort is comprised of three sections, which include Moon Grand, Sunrise and Nizuc.

The renovation touched virtually all aspects of Nizuc, including 120 rooms, the main lobby, swimming pool, food and beverage outlets, gymnasium, beauty salon and Tortugas Ballroom.

The lobby was enhanced with what Palace calls “irreverent” touches, such as elephant tusk chandeliers and “whimsical” glass fixtures, and was designed to incorporate European and Mexican design influences.

The renovation also includes a new Irish bar, The Pub, which is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of this year. Other new enhancements include a mini-golf course and kids club, The Playroom.

The Nizuc renovation is part of a larger renovation program. Last year Palace unveiled a US$55 million Sunrise renovation and announced plans to construction a massive 140,000-foot convention center that will host the May 7 kick-off of the annual Tianguis Turistico convention.

Marriott to develop 20 hotels in Mexico

Marriott International’s presence in Mexico is about to get a whole lot bigger with the announcement that the company is partnering with FibraHotel to open 20 hotels throughout the country by 2016. The first six hotels will add 800 rooms to the 23 properties already operated by Marriott in Mexico. Marriott is so optimistic that it opened a development office in Mexico City.

“In the past five years we have seen a strong emerging Mexican middle class eager to travel,” said Craig S. Smith, president of the Caribbean and Latin America at Marriott. “Economists predict that by 2020, Mexico’s economy will be among the 10 largest in the world, truly reinforcing the fact that we are living the Mexican Moment.”

FibraHotel’s portfolio of properties includes 49 hotels and 6,500 rooms in 22 Mexican states.

International News

Ecuador: World’s Leading Green Destination

Ecuador was recognized as the 2013 World’s Leading Green Destination at the 20th annual World Travel Awards, held last month in Doha, Qatar. Ecuador was recognized for the natural beauty and extraordinary biodiversity found throughout the country’s four regions: the Galapagos Islands, Pacific Coast, Andes, and Amazon.

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry.

Nothing says Valentines Day like, uh, gorilla safaris

Volcanoes Safaris is offering a package that pushes the boundaries of romantic travel. Encountering the rare mountain gorilla may not be everyone’s idea of a romantic vacation, but couples are increasingly investing in

an adventurous shared experience.

Volcanoes Safaris is a specialist in expeditions to track and encounter the rare mountain gorillas, only a few hundred of which survive, all in one mountain rainforest area that crosses the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Volcanoes Safaris operates four lodges, such as the Virunga Safari Lodge, 7,000 feet high at the top of a mountain that is part of a chain of volcanic mountains that define the Virunga Massif, a giant natural reserve that is parceled off between Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It is the only place in the world where the mountain gorillas can still be seen. There are only a few hundred of them left.

New routes to Machu Picchu after landslide

A landslide on the Hiram Bingham switchback road leading up to the Machu Picchu archaeological site has disrupted access to the historical site. Heavy rains caused the landslide that blocked the road, preventing shuttle buses, which normally provide tourists with access to the site, from reaching the historic ruins.

Buses will provide transportation from the town of Aguascalientes, at the foot of the mountain leading to the site, to an area called Puente Ruinas from where tourists can use a pathway to reach the ruins. Hiking the path, the site can be reached in about one and one half to two hours.

The municipality of Machu Picchu is providing medical tents and specialized personnel for tourists who are suffering symptoms of altitude sickness or have other emergency medical needs.

Cruise News

Past guest offer on AMA Waterways

AmaWaterways announced a very special offer for guests who have sailed with them in the past. During April and May they can cruise the majestic Danube, enjoy the lush river valleys of the Rhine and Mosel, see the famed tulips of the Netherlands, or experience the romantic Seine from Paris to Normandy.

Book the best available stateroom on select cruises for only US$1,899 per person. Act fast to secure a Balcony stateroom for this price and save up to US$2,250 off the brochure rate.

Deal of the Week

2-for-1 river cruises in the Pacific Northwest

American Queen Steamboat Company announced the exciting inaugural season of luxury river cruising in the Pacific Northwest aboard the newly refinished American Empress. You can enjoy pristine nature and historic sites from the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River. The first seven voyages of the April and May inaugural season are available at a special two-for-one rate.


Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys, which specializes in custom-designed independent tours, cruises and travel for couples, singles, and groups of friends. Perfect Journey’s next small group tour is “Argentina & Chile for Wine Lovers” in October 2014. Contact Judy by cell phone at 415-111-8765, by email at, or view the latest travel specials on the website

Sources: Travel Pulse, Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador, AMA Waterways, American Queen Steamboat CompaNY


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