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Travel News

Windstar with sails up

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Gourmet Festival in Puerto Vallarta

Mexico’s preeminent food and wine fest takes place in Puerto Vallarta this fall the 21st annual Festival Gourmet International November 16-21. The combination of high-profile guest chefs, exotic local flavors, and unique setting is a recipe for success. Attendees can expect cooking demos and wine, tequila, and mescal pairings, along with mariachis and fireworks to liven things up even more.

Hotels such as CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta are welcoming guests with special promotions during the festival. The property’s “Table for Two” package includes a Festival Gourmet dinner at Mikado Restaurant. CasaMagna is one of the few resorts in the world to produce a proprietary brand of tequila and grow their own blue agave. It produces five different tequila varieties. The resort’s tequila sommelier hosts weekly tastings in the La Cava wine cellar that are complimentary for Marriott Rewards members and US$15 for all others. The resort also offers 114 different tequilas by the glass.

There are boutique properties and B&Bs for those looking for a quieter experience. Hacienda San Ángel, located a few blocks behind the cathedral, is a lovely, romantic place with a beautiful rooftop restaurant. Another recommended hotel is Rivera del Río. It’s downtown; five minutes from Hacienda San Ángel, and the rooms are unique, luxurious, and colorful.

A 10-minute drive north of Puerto Vallarta, the adults-only Hotel Mousai on the Garza Blanca Preserve opened in January 2015. It’s the first hotel in the state of Jalisco to receive the AAA Five Diamond Award (for 2016).

There are many hotel options, activities, events, movie festivals, and cultural and music celebrations in Puerto Vallarta. It might be thought of as the little town that became famous when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton filmed Night of the Iguana there. But it has changed.

International News

Andes and Amazon in Ecuador

From lush rainforests to Andean countryside, Ecuador offers astounding biodiversity, rich cultural heritage, and a distinct wild beauty. The adventure tour company International Expeditions has a new program for 2016 that offers boutique accommodations—including a 17th-century hacienda—in the vibrant Andean countryside.

A four-night cruise deep into the Amazon aboard the all-suite M/V Anakonda gives a comprehensive immersion into nature and allows for almost daily nature walks and boating excursions. Guests will also have the opportunity to stroll through famed Quito, Otavalo, and quaint villages. The 10-day tour is priced from US$4,498 (eight days in Ecuador, two days travel time). There are only four 2016 departure dates: January 24, February 14, March 6, and April 17.

Cruise News

US$100,000 world cruise nearly sells out in a day

Nearly three-quarters of cabins on a 2017 around-the-world sailing unveiled last month by luxury line Regent Seven Seas were booked within hours of the announcement despite a price tag in excess of U$100,000 per couple. Now we know where the top one percent is taking their vacation in 2017: on a cruise ship.

Kicking off January 5, 2017, in Miami, the 128-day sailing on the 490-passenger, all-suite Seven Seas Navigator will be Regent’s first around-the-world cruise in six years, and it includes stops in more than 60 ports across six continents.

Fares for the trip start at U$54,999 per person, based on double occupancy (or U$109,998 per couple), for a stateroom that measures 301 square feet. Slightly larger 359 square feet staterooms range in price from U$129,998 to U$151,998 per couple. The largest suites range from US$211,998 to US$319,998 per couple. The fares include a pre-cruise hotel stay, first-class airfare to and from Miami, exclusive shore-side events, unlimited Internet on the ship and several other perks.

Operating three relatively small ships, Regent is one of several cruise lines that cater to the high-end luxury travel market. Parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings owns Regent Seven Seas as well as Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceania Cruises.

Deal of the Week

Solo traveler deals on Windstar Cruises

When booked by September 18, Windstar Cruises is offering exclusive solo travelers deals on the company’s most popular voyages. Solo guests can choose from 94 luxury voyages on 43 itineraries and the single supplement is waived or at a reduced rate. Among the discounted destinations are cruises to Panama, Costa Rica, Tahiti, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and more.

The company’s Waived Single Supplement features 14 itineraries such as “Dreams of Tahiti,” “Glitter and Glam of the Rivieras,” “Caribbean Delights and Panama Passages,” and “Morocco and the Canary Islands” cruises.

A 10 percent single supplement is offered on 15 different cruises including Windstar’s “Black Sea Tapestry,” “Classic Italy and the Dalmatian Coast,” and “Naturally Costa Rica” cruises.

A 15 percent single supplement is offered on 10 different itineraries including Classic Caribbean, Jewels of the Windward Isles, Spanish Serenades, and transatlantic trips. A 20 percent single supplement is offered on 12 different cruises including “Best of the ABC Isles,” “Culinary and Wine Delights” of Spain and France, and Tahiti and Tuamoto Islands.

The single supplement is 25 percent on six cruises including “San Juan and the Virgin Islands,” “Secrets of the Southern Caribbean,” and “Treasures of Southern Spain and Morocco” voyages.

All fares include an ocean view stateroom or suite, fine dining, onboard entertainment, and a complimentary local private event. This waived or reduced single supplement offer is combinable with Windstar’s Three Free Shore Excursion and All Inclusive offers currently running. Book now for your trip of a lifetime!

Judy Newell heads the travel company Perfect Journeys that specializes in crafting personalized cruise and land itineraries for couples, singles, families and small groups. She designs trips that are carefully tailored to suit client’s interests, ability, and budget. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any of the Travel News topics; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email or view the latest travel specials on the website where you can book your hotels, tours and cruises online.

Sources: Travel Agent Central, International Expeditions, USA Today, Windstar Cruises


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