By Judy Newell
Mexico Travel News
Hotels with On-Property Nature Tours
For all the emphasis on comfy rooms and luxurious amenities, many hoteliers in Mexico know that what really draws visitors to their destination is its abundant natural beauty. Perhaps that’s why an increasing number of properties have made it easier for guests to connect with nature without even leaving (or straying too far from) the hotel grounds.
With on-site nature preserves, trained guides, and a variety of property excursions and activities for adults and children alike, guests can learn a lot about nature just steps from the reception desk.
Mexico’s Riviera Maya, on the Caribbean coast, is home to various hotels that make the most of their natural settings. Hacienda Tres Ríos is a resort set on a nature park crossed by—as the name suggests—three rivers, with bike and kayak tours among the options for exploring local beauty.
At Mayakoba, a property that includes Fairmont Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, and Rosewood Mayakoba, guests can travel via the Mayakoba Connection, an electric ferry service that navigates the waterways, with free ecological tours led by a biologist. Also on-site is the Mayakoba Nature Trail, which guests can explore by foot or bicycle, with the possibility of viewing more than 200 species of flora and fauna.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya, also on the Caribbean coast, offers a free ecological tour that includes a visit to the property’s mangroves to learn about native species such as sea grapes, sea lilies, coconut palm, and salt grass. Guests also visit the beach to learn about the artificial reefs that lie off the property’s coast and how sand dunes are built to prevent erosion. The last stop on the hotel’s tour is at the property’s cenotes, which are natural pools of fresh water, where the guide points out more of the region’s biodiversity.
Farther south, close to the city of Chetumal and the Belize border, Rancho Encantado Eco-Resort & Spa has just 12 cottages on a large ranch. Private and small-group excursions led by expert guides help visitors learn more about the local flora and fauna, which include more than 150 species of tropical birds and a variety of orchids. In the nearby state of Yucatan, Hacienda Chichen Resort is home to a private bird refuge and Mayan jungle conservation reserve.
Nature-focused hotels on the Pacific coast will be featured next week.
Mongolia’s Naadam Festival & Beyond
Very few travel experiences meet the criterion of being truly unique—this is one of them. From the humming streets of Beijing to the vast emptiness of the Gobi Desert, you’ll experience a world to which very few gain the privilege of access.
Sleep in traditional nomadic tents—with a note of luxury added. Be an honored guest at the Opening Ceremonies and Evening Concert of the nation’s biggest annual celebration. And leave everything you thought you knew about the world behind as you discover new vistas and new people in this remote and ancient land.
Experience: Beijing; Great Wall of China; Ulanbaatar; Gorkhi-Terelj National Park; Naadam Festival; Gobi Desert; and Flaming Cliffs. The 11 day tour operates July 4-14, 2016; from US$7,500 per person.
New French America Line to Set Sail on US Rivers
The world’s newest cruise line—intimate, exclusive, and elegant—invites you to sail from the charms of the Heart of America along the upper Mississippi, to the intoxicating Creole, Cajun, and French tapestry of the Deep South. From the River Crossroads of the Ohio River Valley, to the rugged beauty of Tennessee’s Wilderness Rivers region, the Louisiane will sweep you oﬀ your feet.
Her maiden voyage is August 22, 2016. As an inaugural offer, which expires June 30, the line is offering free pre-paid gratuities on all sailings—up to US$420 value per stateroom.
As the name suggests, the French America Line will feature French-inspired decor in the 75 staterooms that hold 150 passengers. There are also a full-service spa and five restaurants and bars on the ship’s four decks.
Five- to 10-day cruises are planned on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, and Red rivers as well as in Gulf Coast waterways. Its homeport will be New Orleans and all cruises include a stay in a hotel the night before the cruise.
Sample price: A 10-day tour from St. Louis to St. Paul, Mn., on the Mississippi next September and October, starts at US$4,599 per person, based on double occupancy. Port fees and taxes are additional.
Words of the Wise and Well-traveled
“It is better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times.”—Asian Proverb
Travel News, April 22, 2016
Deal of the Week
Morocco Imperial Cities
Just ten miles from Europe, Morocco is another world, never failing to amaze visitors with its mesmerizing and refreshing culture. Traveling Morocco is a uniquely diverse vacation experience blending cultural and architectural influence from Islamic, Arabic, African, and European locations. The romance and intrigue that inspired the timeless movie classic “Casablanca” is waiting for you in Morocco.
The jewels in its crown are Rabat, Meknes, Fez and, of course, Marrakesh: its four Imperial Cities, so called because each of them was once capital city of this amazing country with an absolute wealth of different things to experience.
This classic 7-day Morocco itinerary, from US$969 to US$1,119 per person depending on the date selected, uses all 5-star hotels. The package includes:
6-nights accommodations in 5-star hotels: 1 night in Rabat; 2 nights in Fez; 2 nights in Marrakesh; 1 night in Casablanca
Breakfast and dinner daily
Comprehensive sightseeing including entrance fees and guidance
Transportation provided by deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach
Services of a qualified English-speaking guide
Tours conducted in English or English and other languages.
Tour dates are available from April 17 through October 30, 2016. Call or email for the complete itinerary. Airfare is not included.
Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes personalized cruises and tours. She designs trips that are tailored to suit a client’s interests, abilities and budgets. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Her office hours are Mon-Fri, 11am to 4pm, Office 1A, Rancho Los Labradores, Car. D. Hidalgo. View the latest travel specials on the website www.perfectjourneys.net, where you can book your hotels, tours, and cruises online.
Sources: Travel Age West, Travcoa, French America Line, Foreign Independent Tours