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Travel News


By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Lo de Perla, a Seaside Garden

Near the coastal town of San Pancho, the orchids and other exotic flowers grow at their own pace, misted by the sea breeze and tucked away in the tropical jungle. The Lo de Perla Jardín de la Selva (Lo de Perla Jungle Garden) is the creation of Alejandro de Perla, a visionary and nature lover.

The garden is located at Las Lomas Ranch, near San Pancho, the cultural capital of the Riviera Nayarit, which can be reached from the Riviera Nayarit via Federal Highway 200.

Here visitors will admire more than 800 native orchids hanging from the trees, as well as 120 different fruit trees, bromeliads, ferns, lianas, and fabulous mushrooms. This is also home to about 25 mammals, 30 reptiles, 120 birds, 300 multicolored butterflies, and thousands of insects.


Puerta Vallarta’s Restaurant Week
Those looking for a foodie challenge to try as many of Puerta Vallarta’s restaurants as possible will find a bargain with the city’s Restaurant Week, taking place May 15–June 10, lasting 25 days.  In its fourteenth year, the festival will showcase 59 participating restaurants.

All participating restaurants will offer three-course menus (with three different options) at fixed prices, tips and beverages not included. This year, many of the participating restaurants will also offer three menu price categories: 269, 399, or 466 pesos, which in some cases represent up to a 50 percent discount.

International News

Hainan to Open Visa-Free Entry

Hainan, known as the Hawaii of the East and located in southern China, opened 30-day, visa-free entries to visitors from 59 countries, including the US, Canada, and Mexico, starting May 1.

The new visa policy follows President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hainan and his vow to make Hainan a pilot zone for reform and opening up a national ecological experimental area and a center for international tourism.

Luxury 17-Story Underground Hotel

The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental, also nicknamed “Deep Pit Hotel,” is being built beside Tianma Mountain in the Songjiang district of Shanghai. Constructed by British InterContinental Hotels Group with an investment of 555 million Chinese Yuan Renminbi, the hotel will have 19 floors—17 below ground level and two above it.

It is being built in an abandoned quarry that plunges 80 meters below ground level, featuring 336 rooms and an underwater restaurant. Construction work on the ambitious project started in 2013. According to the hotel, it will open in late May this year.

Cruise News

QE2 Opens as Floating Hotel

Retired luxury ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 recently celebrated its soft opening as a floating hotel in Dubai.

At 963 feet long and 13 decks high, the QE2 has hotel rooms ranging from 183-square-foot cabin-style standard rooms to two 818-square-foot Royal Suites, which have private verandas and dining rooms.

The hotel, owned by Dubai’s PCFC Hotels, combines 1960s-era  period furniture and memorabilia with modern amenities, while the lobby has a museum commemorating the ship’s history.

Docked at Dubai’s Mina Rashid, the hotel has 13 restaurants, five of which are now open. Guests can seek out an English pub experience at the Golden Lion, while the ship’s Yacht Club serves afternoon tea. The QE2′s Queens Grill features re-creations of 1969-era dishes.

The QE2 made its maiden voyage as Cunard’s flagship in 1969. The ship carried about 2.5 million passengers on its 1,400 voyages, including more than 800 transatlantic crossings, before being retired in 2008.

The QE2′s official grand opening will be in October.

Free Pre-cruise Package on Cuba Sailings

Pearl Seas Cruises is offering a one-night, precruise hotel stay and transportation to the ship on all new bookings of sailings out of Fort Lauderdale on its 11-night Cuba Cultural Voyage itinerary.

The Cuba Cultural Voyage itinerary has 11 departures scheduled from November 2018 through March 2019. Rates start at US$5,380 per person, double occupancy.

The itinerary circumnavigates Cuba and features stops in Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Casilda, El Cobre, and Santiago de Cuba.


Words of the Wise and Well-traveled

There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.—Aldous Huxley


Deal of the Week

Explore West Africa

Immerse yourself in the rich culture, history, and beauty of Ghana or Senegal with one of SAA Vacations air-inclusive packages, starting at US$2,999.

Ghana, situated on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, is one of the leading countries in Africa. Known for its lush forests, diverse animal life, and miles of sandy beaches, Ghana is a fascinating repository of cultural heritage.

Explore and learn more about this country with the “Introducing Ghana” package, starting from US$2,999, or book a more in-depth holiday with the “Ghana Historical Tour,” starting from US$3,299.


Senegal is known as the “Gateway to Africa.” From its rich natural heritage, French influence, colorful art scene, and a wide variety of plant and animal life, it’s no wonder it is a popular tourist destination. Senegal is home to Goree Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for the infamous “Door of No Return.”

Explore the best of Senegal including the historical significance of Goree Island with the “Discover Senegal” holiday, starting from US$3,399 or “Explore Senegal and the Gambia,” a 10-day adventure starting at US $3,999.

All Ghana or Senegal packages include nonstop international flights on South African Airways from Washington DC-Dulles Airport, hotel accommodations, and on-site tours. Price is per person based on double occupancy. Valid for departures from Washington Dulles (IAD) April 1–May 31, 2018 and August 11–September 30, 2018, with the same itinerary available at higher prices during other travel periods. Other departure points and domestic flights within the US can be booked.


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 your interests, abilities and budget. Please contact Judy for further information on Travel News topics and around-the-world travel; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949-300-3682; email Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores, Carr a Dolores Hidalgo.  View the latest travel specials on the website


Sources: CVB Riviera Nayarit, CVB Puerta Vallarta, China National Tourist Office, The Guardian, Travel Weekly, South African Airways Vacations


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