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Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Treehouse Hotel Offers Eco-friendly Stay

An eco-friendly hotel along Mexico’s gorgeous Yucatan Peninsula called the Papaya Playa Project just debuted a completely alternative vacation experience in the form of a luxury treehouse in the jungle.

Located in the small coastal town of Tulum—roughly 80 miles south of Cancun—Papaya’s extravagant two-story treehouse used local timber and ancient Mayan building methods to achieve high marks in sustainability and to look as natural against its setting as possible. The finished product is utterly stunning. The balcony and windows offer panoramic views of the jungle and the sea.

Famous for its eco-conscious elegance, the Papaya Playa Project lies on a half-mile stretch of the Caribbean. A member of the Berlin-based Design Hotels group, it has 85 casitas and cabañas.

The property prides itself on sustainable design features and offers yoga, tai chi, and meditation sessions, as well as massages and other spa treatments.

International News

First Champagne Vending Machine in the US

Las Vegas is known for having lavish and over-the-top things for guests. Now one hotel is taking the simple vending machine to a whole new level.

The Mandarin Oriental is now home to the first champagne vending machine in the US. In order to use the machine, you have to purchase a USD$20 gold coin at the front desk and prove you’re at least 21 years old.

World’s First Private Animal Terminal

We human travelers have airport lounges, wine bars, massage chairs, and in-terminal yoga classes. Our pets have a crate and water.

In an effort to improve equality among the species, the world’s first privately owned animal terminal and quarantine recently opened at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The ARK at JFK offers round-the-clock service to animals with flight plans.

The USD$65 million center occupies a hulking 178,000-square-foot cargo building that is intimate enough for a kitten and roomy enough for a Belgian draft horse. The ARK caters to travelers who send their animals as cargo. The Pet Oasis, part of the ARK, welcomes pets arriving, departing, or between flights for an accommodation fee starting at USD$125.

Before takeoff, owners can drop off their animal at the facility, which will prepare the pet for travel—a preflight walk and survey of the crate for airline compliance. The staff will transport the pet to the aircraft and coordinate the departure with the airline to minimize wait time.

On arrival, the staff picks up the four-legged traveler from the airplane and handles the customs details. Once at the Oasis, dogs receive full-on pampering treatment: bath, meal, fur-coat brushing, and a stroll on a wide strip of lawn. The staff also cleans the travel crate and tucks the pup into an individual kennel until his ride arrives. Cats are also fed and groomed.

The Equine and Livestock Export Center is dedicated to horses and livestock scheduled for transport. Who travels with their horses, you might ask? Generally such travelers are breeders, jockeys, and grooms. The center serves as a rest area for inspection before horses travel internationally from the United States.

Meanwhile, the Equine Import and Quarantine area will care for horses that have just landed and are subjected to a three- to seven-day quarantine, per USDA orders.

In a separate section of the building, the Aviary will house birds required to undergo a 30-day quarantine. The ARK has built specialized habitats for birds of all wing stripes, such as waterfowl, gulls, and parakeets. A vet clinic is also on the horizon, as is Paradise 4 Paws, a luxury pet resort.

Cruise News

G Adventures Acquires Swan Hellenic Cruise Line

Small group adventure travel company G Adventures has announced the purchase of British cruise line Swan Hellenic after the line’s parent company, All Leisure Group, folded in January.

Swan Hellenic owned the 352-passenger Minerva cruise ship. G Adventures is planning on restarting voyages in 2018.

Oceania’s Endless Wave of Cruise Deals

Good towards all its 2017–2018 sailings, Oceania Cruises has extended specials through March 31, 2017. Included are airfare and unlimited complimentary internet access, plus up to eight free shore excursions, complimentary house beverage package or up to USD$800 in onboard credit. A premium economy air option is also available for only USD$99 for select cruises.

Words of the Wise and Well-traveled

“Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.”—Matthew Karsten

Deal of the Week

Cunard Line ‘Three for All’

Is a limited time promotion through April 26. Enjoy up to 30 percent off launch fares, plus up to US$1,000 onboard credit per stateroom, and alternative dining credit. Plus, free gratuities on select Mediterranean voyages. This promotion is available on transatlantic crossings, Mediterranean, Europe, Iberia and Canary Islands, New England and Canada, and Caribbean.

Sample 2017 itineraries, inside fares, per person, in US dollars:

Transatlantic crossings: seven-night cruise December 8 from US$949; Mediterranean: seven-night cruise July 15 from US$949; Northern Europe: 13-night cruise July 1 from US$2,049; Iberia and Canary Islands: 10-night cruise November 6 from US$1,299; New England and Canada: five-night cruise July 1 from US$1,099; Caribbean: 12-night cruise November 26 from US$1399.

Don’t Forget

Judy Newell will present a free seminar on “The Great Migration,” Thursday, March 16, at 3pm in the Sala Quetzal of the Biblioteca. She is sponsoring a private safari to Kenya and Tanzania on August 2–21, 2017.

Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She designs journeys that are tailored to suit a client’s interests, abilities, and budget. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any Travel News topics; cell phone 415-111-8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; e-mail Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores, Car. a Dolores Hidalgo. View the latest travel specials on the website


Sources: Papaya Playa Project, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, The Washington Post, Travel Pulse, Oceania Cruises, Cunard Line


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