July-September Issue | 2013
-magazine by Club Meliรก
Gran Meliรก Puerto Rico:
A Caribbean Gem
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July-September Issue | 2013
July-September | 2013
by Club Meliá
Regional Message Corner Gran Meliá Puerto Rico:
A Caribbean Gem
Onofre Servera Executive Vice President
Victor Charco VP of Operations and Strategic Projects
Sergio Faggiani Corporate Director of Administration and Finance
Yasmin Gomez Yaudie Barboza Angel Torres Contributors
Perspective Group Publisher
Hello my dearest members of Club Meliá, welcome back to your vacation home in Puerto Rico. For those who remember, I was the regional director back in 2004, and with the re-structure and re-opening of our sales center, I have re-joined and started a new era in services for members like you. I am honored and pleased to be back at my house, your house, our house at Club Meliá in Puerto Rico. These last few months we have dedicated ourselves to better the quality of your vacations and implement new changes, so that your stay meets the standards, quality and excellence that you deserve. From the moment that you make the reservation until the time of your departure, you will be pleasantly surprised to the added care, attention to detail, cordiality and professionalism of our Club Meliá staff, which has been fully trained to care for all of your needs. As we gear up for the new year, expect some exciting changes within our VIP area, now located within the Red Level area of the resort. With these changes, we add additional benefits to our members, including all of the Red Level benefits, like butler service. Not only are our services expanding, but so are we. Starting in 2014, we will be expanding our sales centers into the Condado area and the rest of the island. So if you live on the island and just want to stop to say hello, visit one of our outreach locations nearest your home. Our referral team is working diligently to make sure our members get the best in rewards for their referrals, starting with our options of $500 towards their maintenance fees or 125,000 Meliá Rewards points for every referral that joins the club.
Club Meliá by Meliá Hotels International 800 Brickell Avenue Miami, FL 33131 © 2013 C-magazine by Club Meliá, All Rights Reserved.
Our goal is to stay connected with our members, while offering you personalized support to help maximize the use of your vacation membership. Hope to see you soon. Your friend, Edwin Cintron Sales & Marketing Manager of Club Meliá at Gran Meliá Puerto Rico
6 Contents 6 Gran Meliá Puerto Rico: A Caribbean Gem
Located on Puerto Rico’s northeastern coast in Coco Beach, Río Grande, Gran Meliá Puerto Rico delivers top-notch, beautiful scenery and a relaxing escape from it all, just a short drive away from Puerto Rico’s capital and tourist mecca San Juan.
10 Latest Company, Resort and Industry News
New hotels and resorts, new technology tools and new programs to benefit education are just some of the wonderful and exciting things Club Meliá has in store.
12 A Taste of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has a variety of cuisines to match any taste or budget, with dishes that offer local fare to steak, seafood, and everything in between, from places all over the world. As such, we offer a small sampling of tastes to consider.
14 Club Meliá Options Take Members Anywhere They Want To Go
Take a tour around the world with Club Meliá Options, which allow owners to experience it all, without even having to use up the full value of their options (points). Points or options are another aspect of Club Meliá ownership that allows club members to use their membership flexibly, serving as tickets to a fantasy trip. Read on to find out more about the exciting destinations Club Meliá Options can take you to.
18 London Offers Visitors Much in the way 22 Going Places: Endless Possibilities with of Sights, Sounds, Culture, and Energy Vacation Exchange Club Meliá members looking to do something a little different can head to Meliá White House, located in London, where they can enjoy the sights, sounds and frenetic energy of England’s largest city in comfort and style.
21 Member Spotlight: Alma Lugo
Like other members we have featured, Alma Lugo is also a true spokesman for the Club Meliá brand and the vacation lifestyle it has provided. As an advocate of Club Meliá, everywhere she goes, she shares positive anecdotes about the benefits of Club Meliá membership.
There is magic in the possibilities that are opened up to us through travel. And with your vacation exchange membership through RCI, you can experience that magic any time you book a trip. Take a look at some of the fabulous destinations you can explore through RCI and signature selections by The Registry Collection.
The Gran Meliá Puerto Rico golf course.
Gran Meliá Puerto Rico:
A Caribbean Gem L
ocated on a lush peninsula on the island of Puerto Rico, Gran Meliá Puerto Rico is a true gem in the Caribbean, nestled on Puerto Rico’s northeastern coast in Coco Beach, Río Grande. It delivers top-notch, beautiful scenery and a relaxing escape from it all, just 19 miles from the hustle and bustle of Puerto Rico’s capital and tourist mecca San Juan. As a matter of fact, at just 25 minutes from luggage claim, Gran Meliá Puerto Rico is the closest resort to San Juan International Airport. And best of all, no passports are required for visitation from U.S. citizens. Rising up from the lush jungle that is the El Yunque rainforest, the villas and pavilions of Gran Meliá are surrounded by an oceanfront landscape of gardens, pathways and pools, where one can lounge with a cold tropical drink, or be a bit more active by playing golf on one of two adjacent courses, which are also home to the Puerto Rico Open, the only PGA Tour event hosted on the island, or tennis at the resort’s multi-court tennis facility. After a day of fun in the sun, treat your parched skin to a facial at the renowned YHI Spa at this award-winning facility.
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Recreational activities abound, with a lagoon-style swimming pool, water sports, and lighted tennis courts, all surrounded by a lush, tropical habitat. Gran Meliá Puerto Rico accolades include the following: Incentive Platinum Partners 2011, Gold Key Award 2011, Five Star Diamond Award, Four Diamond 2012, Diving & Resorts 2012 and Golden Apple Award 2012. Whatever one chooses to do on one’s vacation, this premier facility is the place to do it, whether it is relaxing on a Bali bed beside Puerto Rico’s largest lagoon-style pool, soaking in one of Gran Meliá Puerto Rico’s four whirlpools, or enjoying live entertainment at Gran Meliá Puerto Rico’s Avenue Bar. Renowned for its outstanding food, Gran Meliá Puerto Rico features six themed restaurants, with cuisine ranging from Caribbean, Italian, Asian fusion, and Mexican to fine international and Californian fare. Best of all, meal plans are available for all of these eateries. After dinner, members can relax with an exotic beverage in one of the resort’s many bars and
lounges, or enjoy a live show at Gran Meliá Puerto Rico’s own amphitheater. Other resort features include a piano bar and several swim-up bars, a nightclub, a lagoon-style swimming pool, a children’s pool, a supervised children’s club, and a game room. Truly, it’s no wonder that Club Meliá is the leading name in Spanish hospitality for over 50 years.
Accommodations at Gran Meliá Puerto Rico offer amenities that go above and beyond anything else offered at any luxury hotel in the area, with breathtaking views, and custom art and furnishings, and amenities. Gran Meliá offers visitors a plethora of rooms to choose from, with 479 oversized Junior Suites with an average guest room size of 520 square feet, 131 Red Level Suites, 59 Red Level Family Suites and six Red Level Ocean Front Garden Villas. No matter your needs, each accommodation offers gorgeous ocean, golf course or rainforest views, and all come to life with bold, bright colors, rich mahogany furniture and Spanish accents galore.
We start our tour of Gran Meliá with the Garden View Deluxe Junior Suite, an oversized accommodation decorated in the jewel tones of the Caribbean, capped off with views of the resort’s tropical gardens from a private terrace or balcony. Large sliding glass doors allow the area’s natural light to filter through the guestroom and into the small sitting area, where guests can relax or entertain. Sleeping options include one king size or two double beds. Amenities include room service, cable television, an in-room coffee maker, personalized wake-up calls, bath amenities, laundry, trolley transportation around the resort, complimentary transfers to the golf course, a pool concierge and an activity center, a babysitter service, pay-per-view movies and Internet access, air conditioning and ceiling fans, gaming systems, a sitting area and desk, an inroom safe, an iron and an ironing board, a hairdryer and a magnifying mirror, a direct phone line with voicemail, and a radio/ alarm clock. Visitors can also choose to upgrade to a Red Level Garden View Junior Suite, which offers upgraded amenities only available to Red Level guests, such as butler service, private check-in and check-out, a daily full breakfast at Café Soleil, access to the Red Level Lounge with Internet and coffee complimentary services, a complimentary daily Happy Hour, flat screen televisions, a radio/alarm clock with an iPod/iPhone dock, a full bathroom with premium amenities, upgraded room bedding and shower, and plush bathrobes and slippers. For those who want a view of the great big blue, there are ocean suites available for them to enjoy, starting with the Red Level Ocean View Junior Suites, which offer a spacious combined living and sleeping area with sliding glass doors leading to an outdoor balcony with beautiful ocean views. These suites offer a king size bed or two double beds, a separate living area with a sofa bed and a cocktail table, a comfortable working desk with an ergonomic chair, an armoire, marble floors, pinewood furnishings, an oversized marble bathroom, a soaking tub and shower, and contemporary Caribbean décor. Then there are the Red Level Oceanfront Junior Suites, which provide stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, king size beds, and warm, tropical décor. And, of course, both types of suites offer Red Level amenities, which include dedicated concierge and butler services, priority dining and spa reservations and unique resort amenities. For those traveling with children, the Red
Villa at Gran Meliá Puerto Rico.
Level Family Junior Suite is ideal, with pool or ocean front views, balconies with sliding glass doors, a small living area, two full beds, and a dining room and kitchenette. Services for this type of suite include a daily breakfast, butler service and a kids club, a welcome kit for children, family concierge services, priority booking for activities and restaurants, access to the Red Level Lounge with Internet and complimentary coffee, Clarins brand toiletries, a child’s dental kit, bathrobes and slippers, a family water ritual at the YHI Spa, a DVD player and movie menu, a video console and games, an LCD TV with remote control, a private balcony and loungers, a small refrigerator, a two-burner countertop stove, a microwave, flatware, dishes, glasses, pots and pans, a dining table with four chairs, a bar table with two stools, a rain shower, and a whirlpool. The Red Level Family Junior Suite offers all of this and more. Also available for family vacations is the Red Level One Bedroom Master Suite, a room decorated in avant-garde style and offering a terrace with a Jacuzzi and breathtaking garden and ocean views. Amenities include one king size bed or two full size beds, a bathroom with double sinks, a Jacuzzi and a separate shower, an independent living room, a dining room and a kitchenette, family concierge services, priority booking for activities and restaurants, satellite TV with remote control, a DVD player, a stereo system with a CD player, an LCD TV, a refrigerator, a two burner cooktop, a microwave, flatware, dishes, glasses, pots and pans, a bar table with two stools, a dining table with six chairs, two toilets, a rain shower, a whirlpool, and a terrace sofa.
Last but not least are the luxury Ocean Front Villas, which cater to discerning guests and offer the ultimate in privacy, offering opulent interiors, spacious areas for relaxation and entertainment, and five star services. Amenities include sliding glass doors leading to a furnished patio with direct ocean access, a private plunge pool and landscaped courtyard, an outdoor stone shower lined with tropical plants, a king size bed, butler service, private checkin and check-out, a daily full breakfast at Café Soleil, access to the Red Level Lounge with Internet and complimentary coffee services, complimentary daily Happy Hour, access to an adults-only private pool with Bali beds, personalized wake-up calls, laundry service, two 27-inch TVs with cable, a Bali bed and an outdoor breakfast area.
Gran Meliá Puerto Rico can be many things to many people, but it’s never boring, as guests can enjoy an array of fun and exciting activities at any time of day. Daytime activities include tennis, basketball, board games, water aerobics, yoga, volleyball, and meringue and salsa dance lessons. There are non-motorized water sports, such as kayaking and scuba diving. Or one can just sit back and relax poolside in a Bali bed, while pool concierge provides everything one needs. At night, Gran Meliá Puerto Rico comes to life with live music at the Avenue Bar, and an amphitheater with shows and nightly entertainment. For outside excursions, Red Glove Concierge Services can arrange activities that include horseback riding, rainforest hikes, mountain biking in the foothills of the C-magazine July-September 2013 7
rainforest, tours of Old San Juan, shopping and rum factory tours, deep sea fishing, bioluminescent ecotourism and snorkeling, to name a few. Red Glove Concierge Services can also arrange for car rentals, taxis, and airport transfers, so members can easily get where they want and need to go. For the little ones, there is an activities center and a Kids Club full of fun things to do for children of all ages, as well as babysitting services so their parents can enjoy some alone time. If putting around on the greens is what one craves, Gran Meliá Puerto Rico has two world-class 18-hole championship courses available, designed by PGA professional Tom Kite at Trump International Golf Club, which hosts the PGA Tour event on the island. Gran Meliá Puerto Rico guests receive discounted greens fees, tee times, private lessons and club storage. Five additional golf courses are also available within 30 minutes.
After a day of golfing, one can relax and enjoy all the pampering services that the 12,000 square foot YHI Spa at Gran Meliá Puerto Rico has to offer. Based on the four elements of nature, these include over 60 indoor and outdoor body treatments, such as hydrotherapy, water rituals, aromatherapy, facials, massages, wraps, sauna, steam, workouts and a beauty salon, all to be indulged in at one of nine deluxe treatment cabins, two of which are dedicated to couples, and an Eco-Spa with four massage beds in a private outdoor pool and three spacious Bali beds. And if one wants a beverage, there are even signature YHI Spa tea flavors to imbibe. At the accompanying wellness center, one can put fitness first with state-of-the-art equipment, a spa boutique and personal trainers to get whipped into shape.
Dining and Drinking
For a gastronomic adventure, Gran Meliá Puerto Rico is the place to go. It offers a wide variety of eateries to suit any palate. Specialties include magnificent dishes and culinary creations from across the globe, from Asian to Italian to everything in between, and of course, the best Puerto Rican cuisine the island has to offer. From gourmet dining to casual light snacks and exotic tropical drinks, there’s something to satisfy every appetite. And for a nightcap there are eight separate lounges and bars for drinking and enjoyment. Speaking of Asian food, we start with Nami Asian Bistro, which serves up three distinct 8 C-magazine July-September 2013
The pool at Gran Meliá Puerto Rico. traditions from the Far East, including sushi, teppanyaki, and pan Asian specialties. Then there is Tempo Steak & Pasta, which serves contemporary Mediterranean cuisine in a cosmopolitan and elegant atmosphere perfect for romantic evenings, intimate business dinners, and special occasions. At Café Soleil, one can feast on delicious breakfast and lunch options with a Puerto Rican flair while enjoying captivating pool and garden views. For dinner, an international menu of Caribbean flavors provides a unique taste experience, in addition to a tapas-style buffet. Also to be enjoyed poolside is Gran Meliá Puerto Rico’s Wet Pool Bar & Grill, which serves up light fare foods, tropical drinks and Caribbean favorites while sun bathing. For Puerto Rican cuisine, Pasion by Chef
Myrta is the place to be. This eatery is open for dinner, all prepared using fresh local ingredients by a local, awardwinning chef. Dining options include indoor and al fresco eating. For after dinner drinks, the bars and lounges of Gran Meliá Puerto Rico await, starting with Avenue Bar, a sensual and beautiful tropical chic bar located in the resort center. It features a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, with Bali beds, candlelight, and romance, making it the perfect place for cocktails and conversation, all while enjoying live entertainment. If you enjoy your drinks shaken, not stirred, then Gran Meliá Puerto Rico’s Martini Bar is where you want to be for pre- or post-dinner drinks. As an added bonus, it is conveniently located between the Nami and Tempo restaurants.
Then there is Coco Lounge, which offers patrons a taste of the Caribbean with tropical music and cocktails.
Red Glove Meetings
Gran Meliá Puerto Rico can make any meeting a memorable success, with stylish space and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and technology. The resort offers 36,918 square feet of indoor meeting space and open air venues, which includes a 11,946 square foot ballroom, a multi-purpose foyer and 14 breakout and banquet rooms. There is also high speed Internet and Wi-Fi access in public areas, all set in idyllic surroundings. Best of all, a team of bilingual meetings professionals is ready to assist with innovative ideas, solutions and expertise as part of Red Glove Meeting Services, an amalgamation of the internationally-recognized concept of premier white glove service coupled with the glamorous ceremony of the red carpet, in an icon of timeless luxury and avant-garde flair that could only be found at Gran Meliá.
Planning a wedding in Puerto Rico? Then Gran Meliá Puerto Rico is the place to be, providing the region’s most accomplished staff of certified planners that can take all the work out of planning that special day, handling all details, major and minor, while providing thoughtful and unexpected touches to make it truly memorable.
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island commonwealth of the United States of America. For Americans, this is ideal, as they can travel to Puerto Rico without a passport to see all the sights it has to offer. These include Caja de Muertos, a protected, uninhabited island off the southern coast of Puerto Rico that is home to many sea turtles; the San Juan National Historic Site, which includes the San Cristóbal, San Felipe del Morro, and San Juan de la Cruz forts; Mona Island, a secluded isle that is home to many flora and fauna, and can be seen by appointment; and the Rio Camuy Caverns. A must-see is the El Yunque National Forest, the largest remaining tract of tropical dry coastal forest in the world, designated an international Biosphere Reserve in 1981. It spreads out over a mountain, and offers numerous varieties of plant and animal life, including indigenous wildlife like the endangered Puerto Rican parrot and the local Coqui tree frog. The rainforest offers many hiking trails to the Yokahu tower, a
The entrance to Gran Meliá Puerto Rico. great place to see the forest from above. Additionally, there are also two trails that lead to the La Mina waterfalls, where one can swim in cold refreshing water. Then there are the bioluminescent bays near Fajardo and in Vieques, which are also not to be missed. Microscopic organisms in the water make the bays glow like fire. Taking a kayak or boat tour during the new moon is the best way to see them, as they are difficult to see during a full moon, and impossible to see in full sunlight. The bioluminescent bay in Lajas is one of the most popular, as it has many kiosks and restaurants there for visitors to enjoy, as well as boat tours. As far as things to do, Puerto Rico offers plenty, from surfing to golfing to sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving, windsurfing, horseback riding, rock climbing and repelling, hand gliding, and windsurfing and parasailing, to name a few. Area visitors can also discover local flora and fauna by going bird-watching, or further exploring the area’s natural rivers and caves. In metropolitan San Juan, there are many luxury hotels with casinos like Las Vegas, and bars and nightclubs galore. For those who like to drink, visiting the Bacardi factory might be a fun respite. Visitors can take a tour of the facility and learn about the history of the rum and how it is made, as well as how the company’s famous logo came to be. Finish off the day with a complimentary drink at the factory bar, and sample a unique flavor you may not find elsewhere. The Bacardi factory is only a short drive from Old San Juan, the Spanish colonial
district of San Juan. It contains many popular tourist sites, fountains, plazas, and pretty architecture that is both colorful and unique. As far as cuisine is concerned, Puerto Rico has plenty, with the most diverse culinary offerings in the entire Caribbean, from American to Puerto Rican to everything in between.
About Meliá Hotels International
Meliá Hotels International was founded in 1956 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and is one the country’s leading hotel chains, in addition to being one of the world’s largest resort hotel chains. It currently provides more than 350 hotels and 87,000 rooms in 35 countries on four continents under its brands: Gran Meliá, Meliá, ME, Innside, Tryp by Wyndham, Sol and Paradisus. Its product and service portfolio is complemented by Meliá Club, the only vacation club operated by a Spanish company. In 2011, the family company founded by Gabriel Escarrer Juliá took on the brand name that represents its present and its future: Meliá Hotels International. Club Meliá In 2004, Meliá Hotels International introduced the concept of building lifelong memories with a shared vacation membership club that offers all the conveniences and lavish amenities of a luxury, world-class resort, plus the value, flexibility and choice that vacation membership offers. It now has over 27,000 members, and growing. To find out more, please visit www.clubMeliá.com. C-magazine July-September 2013 9
Latest Company, Resort and Industry News
Keep up to date with the latest news and happenings from our resorts. Read below to find out more about the amazing things Club Meliá has in store for members.
Meliá Hotels International renews its commitment to academia • For the last 11 years, the hotel group has held an agreement with the Universitat de les Illes Balears in Spain for the financing of education and research in the field of tourism. • This year, Spain’s leading hotel company has further strengthened its links with academia following the renewal of the Meliá Hotels International Chair in Tourism Studies. • This joint initiative was set up by President Gabriel Escarrer in 2002 in collaboration with the Universitat de les Illes Balears (UIB) in Spain, with the aim of encouraging quality and consolidating education and research in tourism. • Coinciding with World Tourism Day, Meliá Hotels International has presented
an overview of the activities funded by the chair during the 2012-2013 academic year. • These activities have centered mainly on entrepreneurship, integrating students into the corporate world, responsible tourism and the internationalization of professionals working in the sector. • Key activities carried out during the year include the financing of the tourism sector’s first school of entrepreneurship, the first edition of the “Tourism Research Award,” and the financing of training actions related to social responsibility, business ethics and sustainability. • Another key activity is the funding of “Internationalization Grants” for internships in the company’s hotels located in
the Dominican Republic, Malaysia and Mexico, thereby highlighting the importance of international experience as a competitive advantage for professionals working in the hospitality sector. • The company has also announced its major lines of action for the current academic year, designed to boost the integration of students in the corporate world at the final stage of their education. • Meliá Hotels International, a world leader in social responsibility in the tourism sector, has strengthened its ties with multilateral organizations and the public sector, focusing much of its attention on universities and academia as crucial actors in defining sustainable and responsible tourism for the future. Palma De Mallorca Cityscape
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INNSIDE by Meliá launches new Dusseldorf property in MedienHafen • INNSIDE by Meliá, pioneers of the designled business hotel movement in Germany and moving to Manchester, U.K. in 2014, launched its third property in Dusseldorf on Monday, September 16. • The brand’s concept seeks to blur the boundaries between business and lifestyle hotels. • The colorful 17-story building, The Colorium, designed by leading British architect William Alsop, consists of over 2,000 colored glass panels, and is one of the architectural highlights of the city. • The hotel is situated in the most attention-grabbing area of Dusseldorf, the former industrial harbor and warehouse district, MedienHafen, lined with famous Gehry buildings. • Dusseldorf itself is known as the Knightsbridge of The Rhine, largely due to it being the fashion capital of Germany. • The 134-room hotel includes nine suites and occupies floors five through 14. • It will open following a nine-month project carried out by renowned Spanish interior designer Alvaro Sans. • Behind the high-impact façade lies a calm aesthetic, with black, white and silver tones and clean lines prevailing. • The rooms are light, spacious and comfortable, being well-appointed with state-of-the-art technology for business travelers, who will make up 80 percent of the clientele at the hotel. • Exceptional dining is a feature across all
The Coloruim, Dusseldorf
INNSIDE by Meliá properties, and The View Skylounge Restaurant and Bar on the 16th floor will not disappoint. • It has 360-degree views across the port and city, and is set to become a hotspot for locals and international travelers. • The chef, Markus Streiber, formerly at Intercontinental Hotels and Movenpick and nominated for the coveted Hospitality Career Award in 2010, will serve a fusion of local and international dishes, surprising and delighting guests with mouth-watering creations, such as
poulet fermier noir and turbot and chorizo with risotto. •D usseldorfers know how to party. As such, The View will host a number of DJs and live acts each month, starting with internationally-celebrated DJ Aleksey and singer Sua Amoa. •G eneral Manager Markus Vergin, who has worked in various roles at INNSIDE by Meliá, including sales and marketing director, will lead his team to deliver friendly and efficient yet informal service to guests.
Meliá adds new tools to website for booking meeting packages • The new “Meeting Packages” section allows users to easily get quotes for their events with prices per person. • The Meliá Hotels International meetings and events team continues to develop innovative tools for organizing events and meetings in company hotels. • The latest is a booking system at http:// www.Meliá.com/meetings for “Meeting Packages,” one of the company’s top products designed to make it easier to book simple meetings with basic services and fixed prices per person. • In the “Meeting Packages” section (or directly at www.Meliámeetingpackages. com), users can choose their destination, indicate the number of attendees, and immediately see all hotels and package prices per person. • After selecting the hotel and filling in the form, the website will confirm availability
and budget any additional services the client needs, such as accommodations, audiovisual services or food and drink not included in the meeting package. • The system helps organize events in more than 120 company hotels in Europe, Asia, America, Africa and the Middle East, and includes all the basic services such as a meeting room, lunch, two coffee breaks, screen, flipchart and writing materials, all at fixed prices from just 45€ per person. • Customers may also include additional services as needed, getting a tailormade budget which helps control the costs of the meeting. • In addition to this new section, the website also includes a tool to check special rates and offers for groups (“Opportunity Dates”), a section for weddings and honeymoons with
information on specialist hotel programs, and access to the online directory of meetings and events hotels and the Mas Amigos Reward program for travel agents and meeting planners.
Meliá La Reconquesta, Spain. C-magazine July-September 2013 11
hile Puerto Rico may be a U.S. territory, its culture and cuisine is without a doubt Latin American, with a Caribbean flair. Nevertheless, the American presence can still be sensed, in the feel of the island and in the food. Furthermore, as a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the world, Puerto Rico offers a variety of cuisines to match, for any taste or budget. As such, menus can stretch far beyond Latin American and Caribbean cooking: Italian, French, Asian, and American are a few popular subtypes. The following foods and eateries provide a taste of what Puerto Rico has to offer.
No discussion of food in Puerto Rico would be complete without examining the Latin American subtype. In Puerto Rico in particular, this kind of cuisine has its roots in the cooking traditions and practices of Spain, Africa and the Amerindian Taínos. In the latter part of the 19th century, the American influence was added to the mix with the ingredients used in preparation. Favorite dishes include mofongo, a combination of mashed plantains, seasonings, and a filling of either vegetables, meat, or seafood simmered in tomato 12 C-magazine July-September 2013
sauce; lechón, a roast suckling pig dish; arroz con gandules, pigeon peas with rice and sofrito sauce; asopao, a savory chicken and rice gumbo; and fried snacks such as cuchifritos or alcapurrias, a kind of fried turnover; frituras or almojábanas, cheeseflavored rice fritters; bacalaítos, codfishflavored fritters; and buñuelos, or yam fritters, to name a few. These types of foods can be enjoyed at a variety of eateries around the island. Ajili Mójili and Raíces are just a couple of recommended picks.
This high-end eatery is located in a two-story building on the Condado Lagoon, and is known for serving comida criolla, or authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Locals often frequent this eatery into the wee hours of the night for a taste of homemade delights like mofongo, arroz con pollo, or chicken and rice; medallones de cerdo encebollado, or pork loin sautéed with onions; carne mechada, or beef rib-eye stuffed with ham; and lechon asado con maposteado, or roast pork with rice and beans. For drinks, only local beers are served, by an attentive staff well-versed in describing menu items in colloquial English to guests unfamiliar with native or Latin food.
This casual eatery located in Old San Juan is popular with tourists, notably for its authentic taste of Puerto Rican cuisine such as meat turnovers, stuffed fried plantain fritters, codfish fritters, plantain soup, chicken or shrimp asopao, coconut flan, guava cheesecake, and mashed cassava. This eatery’s premier specialty is its variety of stuffed mofongo entrees, served with chicken, shrimp, breaded pork, skirt steak, or Creole-style mahi mahi, all of which are served in a rustic Puerto Rican setting outfitted with local arts and crafts. Adding to the authentic Puerto Rican feel are the members of the wait staff, dressed in folkloric attire. Traditional Puerto Rican music and live salsa on Thursday nights further complements the experience.
Just as one can surely find Wal-Mart in Puerto Rico, one can find American food influences everywhere, with a plethora of places serving casual American favorites like burgers, fries and hot dogs to more sophisticated tastes like steaks and chops. Old Harbor Brewery Steak and Lobster House and El Hamburger are just a couple of the options available to pick from.
Old Harbor Brewery Steak and Lobster House
Located in Old San Juan, this high-end eatery is San Juan’s only microbrewery, and serves tavern fare in an upscale mariner setting. One can wash it down with one of five types of handcrafted house beers, or seven seasonal beers. Dinner specialties include top-quality steaks served with a choice of sauces, and a la carte sides like Lyonnais potatoes and asparagus with béarnaise. As far as the lobster is concerned, it is fresh Puerto Rican spiny lobster, which is lighter than Maine lobster, served with sauce options such as citrus beurre blanc, coconut, and almond-spiced rum. Other specialties include rich and hearty French onion and lobster bisque soups.
This no-frills burger stand is located in the Puerta De Tierra area of San Juan, and is open until 1 a.m. weekends. It offers delicious grilled burgers and hot dogs, cold beer, and golden French fries and onion rings, all served with a selection of fresh condiments at its perch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Locals often frequent this ramshackle wooden hut after a night at the bars, a day at the beach, or a quick workday lunch, so local color can definitely be found here, as can palm trees, undeveloped coastal bluffs and balmy ocean breezes.
Throughout the year, Puerto Rico gets so many visitors from all parts of the globe, who come from near and far to enjoy the sights and sounds of the island, each bringing their native cuisine. Speaking of far, our next batch of outstanding eateries hail from the Pacific, serving up an elegant medley of Asian specialties that span the continent, from Chinese to Japanese and everything in between.
This high-end Condado eatery is the new home of Puerto Rico’s “Iron Chef,” who mixes local flavors with Asian ingredients to deliver a uniquely flavorful fine dining experience. Situated in an Art Deco town house overlooking an oceanfront park, Budatai features a stylish exterior with wallsized windows and a roof-top terrace offering great views and oversized tables and leather chairs. Signature dishes include sesamecrusted pork-wrapped asparagus with a soy mayonnaise, the geisha roll, a sushi specialty of lobster, cream cheese, jicama, and meringue; soy-glazed salmon with coconut hash, veal sirloin with lobster mashed Asian potatoes, lo mein with chicharon de pollo, or deep-fried chicken, and a karate pork chop. The second-floor features a bar and lounge
that for the hip and young is the cool place to see and be seen.
This Chinese restaurant combines Polynesian themes with an Americanized version of Chinese food that is both flavorful and wellsuited to Puerto Rico’s tropical climate, with a massive menu full of unique eats such as grilled lobster with garlic-flavored cheese sauce, blackened salmon, beef teriyaki, and honey chicken, all served in an al fresco setting. There is also an indoor dining area, and a small bar and lounge for after-dinner drinks and mingling.
An unlikely yet popular subtype cuisine in Puerto Rico is French, with restaurants serving up succulent entrees and rich and decadent deserts that can’t be beat. Standout French eateries include Augusto’s Cuisine and Boulangerie Tradición Francaise & Bistro.
This upscale Miramar eatery provides European flair in the lobby level of a 15story hotel. Menu items are made with fresh, quality ingredients, and include delightful specialties like lobster risotto, rack of lamb with aromatic herbs and fresh garlic, a cream-based soup of the day, such as corn and fresh oyster soup, and veal medallions served Rossini style in a Madeira wine sauce. Speaking of wine, this restaurant has one of the most extensive selections in Puerto Rico.
Boulangerie Tradición Francaise & Bistro
This French country cafe is located on the edge of a pretty Santurce neighborhood, just a few blocks from Condado beach.
It specializes in pastries and baked goods that draw crowds from near and far, all served with decadent French roast coffee. There are also hearty weekend breakfasts and brunches, gourmet sandwiches and pasta dishes for lunch, and delicious French dinner options, all served with a delectable wine selection.
While it may seem an unlikely combination, Italian cuisine in Puerto Rico is a popular dining option that can’t be beat. Eateries in this genre span the gamut, from the economy to the exquisite, like the following restaurants mentioned below.
Located across from Hotel El Convento in Old San Juan, this upscale eatery is Puerto Rico’s finest Italian restaurant, serving a variety of homemade pasta classics. Signature starters include warm goat cheese with pesto and calamari stuffed with shrimp and fresh white fish, while specialty entrees include pheasant breast alla Cacciatora, baby veal chops in white wine and rosemary, and rack of lamb made with fresh herbs and a rich red-wine sauce, all ideally paired with wine from the restaurant’s cellar. Homemade desserts are also a delicious must-try.
This casual Old San Juan serves traditional Sicilian and Italian fare, such as osso buco, an Italian casserole of veal containing marrowbone and traditionally served with risotto; homemade ravioli, calamari with polenta, chicken contandina, and arancini di spinachi fritti, or spinach balls with rice, ricotta cheese, and pink sauce, an old Sicilian specialty. C-magazine July-September 2013 13
Club Meliá Options
Take Members Anywhere They Want To Go
ake a tour around the world with Club Meliá Options, which allow owners to experience it all, without even having to use up the full value of their options (points). Club Meliá Options come with highly personalized service available from a Club Meliá member services representative via phone or email. So don’t delay in taking your dream vacation of a lifetime with Club Meliá, an international shared vacation membership club with properties located in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and Europe. Club Meliá offers a
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana is the name of a region in the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic that is home to a coastline of sandy white beaches and lush tropical beauty. That, and its proximity to other major resort areas make it a top Caribbean destination. Despite its deserted nature, Punta Cana is a close drive to many of the sights and sounds of the Dominican Republic, starting with Santo Domingo, the first European settlement of the Western Hemisphere. While there, one can visit the first Cathedral of the Americas, or the Alcazar de Colon, the palace of Christopher Columbus’s son, Diego. Next is Altos de Chavon, a modernday artist’s village resembling a 16th century Mediterranean town that is home to a 5,000 seat amphitheater, an archeological museum, craft workshops, artist’s studios and a plethora of galleries and restaurants. To get back in touch with nature, one can embark on a safari excursion and Dominican Republic tour, to see the natural scenery and life in the Dominican Republic, visiting homes and sugarcane plantations in the area. For more natural splendor, one can take a day trip to Saona Island, set in the natural reserve of The Parque Nacional del Este, where one can relax on powdery white beaches, or go sailing in turquoise Caribbean waters and maybe see a dolphin or two. Additional wildlife can also be witnessed at Manati Park, an animal lover’s haven. Afterwards, visitors can stroll along the gorgeous tropical gardens, take pictures of amazing orchids and tropical plants, and buy some local crafts in the souvenir shops. Area activities include snorkeling, either on one’s own, through an aquatic tour, 14 C-magazine July-September 2013
points-based approach to ownership, with a wide range of options based on the membership point plan, or option plan purchased, and backed by the unit type purchased. Points or options are another aspect of Club Meliá ownership that allows club members to use their membership flexibly, serving as tickets to a fantasy trip. Club Meliá members can vacation at any home resorts, Meliá resorts, or other Meliá destinations through the Club Meliá Network. All they have to do is choose
a destination based on the amount of vacation options they have available, talk to a representative to set it up, and go. Members can use their options to go anywhere they wish; ask your network vacation guide for details on how to maximize your Options, convert to Meliá Rewards or deposit into RCI in order to travel within the network. The following pages offer just a taste of all the exotic locales and sumptuous resorts one can visit with Club Meliá Options.
Real, Gabi Beach at Paradisus Palma Dominican Republic.
The YHI Spa at Meliá Caribe Tropical, located in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. or at Marinarium, a unique water park where one can experience some of the best snorkeling the Dominican Republic has to offer. Scuba diving is popular as well, as is swimming with dolphins. Or one can journey to the bottom of the sea with Seaquarium, a unique tour that provides visitors with diving helmets, allowing them to walk the bottom and gain a spectacular view of underwater flora and fauna. Other fun activities in the region include rafting on the Rio Yasque, the longest river in the Caribbean; helicopter and Segway tours, and horseback riding, on either a beach or through the mountains.
Where to stay:
Paradisus Palma Real, located on the beachfront of Bavaro Beach, one of the most beautiful and sought-out beaches in the world, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It provides visitors with spades of natural beauty, lush tropical gardens,
and a balmy island climate. This deluxe luxury, all-inclusive resort provides much for visitors to keep themselves occupied: a YHI Wellness Center, Royal Service, fine dining, the swimming pools, a casino and other services. Meliá Caribe Tropical, also located on Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana. This resort offers club members comfortable facilities, a wide range of activities and entertainment, and the superior quality of services with its exclusive Royal Service. There are tons of amenities to delight patrons of all ages, for a vacation full of family fun: eight outdoor pools for adults and children, fine dining with international cuisine and theme nights, a delightful activities program for children and adults, workshops, parties, musicals, live music, and evening shows for everyone, the YHI Wellness Spa, and a Flintstone adventure park complete with sports, arts and crafts and cookery workshops for everyone to enjoy.
Marbella is located in southern Spain, in the Costa del Sol region, which is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca. It serves as a popular international tourist attraction, due mainly to its temperate climate, important archaeological heritage, several museums and performance halls, and popular events throughout the year. Attractions include Old Town (Casco Antiguo), Ermita del Santo Cristo, Constitution Park, the Golden Mile of Nueva Andalucia, San Pedro de Alcántara, the district of Las Chapas, and beaches galore. The old town of Marbella (Casco Antiguo) includes the ancient city walls and the two historical suburbs of the city, the Barrio Alto and the Barrio Nuevo. Architectural highlights inside the walls include the Plaza de los Naranjos, the town hall, the mayor’s house, and the Chapel of Santiago, the oldest church in Marbella, dating back from the 15th century.
Near San Pedro, at the mouth of the Guadalmina River, one will find some of the most significant archaeological sites in Marbella: the early Christian Basílica de Vega del Mar, the vaulted Roman baths of Las Bóvedas (the Domes), and the watch tower of Torre de Las Bóvedas. Nearby is the important archaeological site of Cerro Colorado.
shopping malls, high-end restaurants and upscale bars studded with luxury yachts. At night this area comes to life with luxe parties and hip nightclubs galore.
In the district of Las Chapas one will find traces of the Phoenicians dating to the early 7th century BC. A notable tourist attractions in this area is the Ciudad Residencial Tiempo Libre (Residential Leisure City).
Where to stay:
For those who want to take a break from history, Marbella has 24 beaches to explore and enjoy. These include Artola beach, one of the few nudist beaches in Marbella; the popular beaches of Venus and La Fontanilla, and the award-winning Puerto Banús and San Pedro Alcántara beaches.
Next is the Ermita del Santo Cristo de la Vera Cruz (Hermitage of the Holy Christ of the True Cross), built in the 15th century and enlarged in the 18th century.
We then head to the Golden Mile of Nueva Andalucia, which is actually a stretch of four miles containing some of the most luxurious residences of the region, including the Palace of King Fahd, and some landmark area hotels.
Constitution Park is a small botanical garden filled with fountains and a collection of 10 sculptures by surrealist Salvador Dalí located on the Avenida del Mar, which connects Old Town with the beach. It also houses an auditorium of the same name.
Last, but certainly not least, is nearby Puerto Banús, located in the area of Nueva Andalucía, to the southwest of Marbella on the Costa del Sol. Puerto Banús is a luxury marina and shopping complex that offers visitors an amazing medley of expensive
Area activities include the Puerto Banus Street Market, held every Saturday. It is one of the largest markets on the Costa del Sol, featuring a plethora of goods for sale. Meliá Marbella Banús, located in the exclusive area of Puerto Banús, in the famous Golden Mile. It close to the beach and many of the most elegant shopping and leisure facilities in all of Europe, with a perfect location for seeing Marbella as well. For its members, Meliá Marbella Banús provides 203 excellent rooms with two double beds, amazing dining locations, free high speed Wi-Fi internet, exclusive The Level service, three outdoor pools, a wellness area with an indoor heated pool, a sauna and a Turkish bath, one tennis court and two paddle tennis courts, a children’s play area, meeting rooms, and underground parking.
La Palapa Restaurant at Meliá Marbella Banus, Spain.
The pool at Meliá Marbella Banus, Spain. C-magazine July-September 2013 15
Tenerife, Canary Islands
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, offering visitors a taste of spectacular beaches, lively nightlife, lush forests, sprawling deserts, rugged mountains and volcanoes, and exotic flora and fauna galore. As such, it’s no wonder that Tenerife is a popular destination for many a European traveler. A popular tourist destination is El Teide, a volcano on Tenerife that is the highest point in Spain and in the Atlantic islands. Visitors can take a 10 minute cable lift to the top for amazing views of the island. Next is the Parque Rural de Anaga, a great place to go hiking and witness Tenerife’s natural beauty. At the Pico del Inglés viewpoint, one can get a gorgeous panoramic view of the island, including its black sand beaches, Taganana, Roque las Bodegas, and Almáciga, which are just waiting to be explored. Other parks worth seeing include the Loro Parque Zoo, an animal protection foundation and animal park; Jungle Park, which offers a bird of prey show that is a must, and water parks Siam Parque and Aqualand.
long winding mountain roads with amazing scenery. For this reason, cycling is also popular as great way to see the island while simultaneously getting some exercise. Nature is definitely the main attraction at Tenerife, as nature-based activities abound on the island: scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, wind surfing, speed boat parascending and Jet-skiing. Popular land-based activities include hiking and biking. And of course, lounging on the beach is a must. For shopping and culture, visitors can head to Santa Cruz, which has a big market on Sundays, museums and art galleries. Nearby La Laguna has a space museum and planetarium, and Puerto de la Cruz
offers a beautiful botanical garden that is not to be missed. Last but certainly not least is the gorgeous old town of La Orotava.
Where to stay:
The Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora, which combines the natural beauty of Tenerife with unfettered luxury. Located with majestic El Teide as its backdrop, this resort provides members with endless relaxation and fun, superior service and facilities, five restaurants, Red Level services for adults only, the YHI Spa, four adult swimming pools, two children’s pools and a pool for babies as well. It’s no wonder that in 2012 Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora was named the Best Resort in Spain by Condé Nast.
For those who opt to rent a car, Tenerife offers some beautiful island drives along Red Level terrace restaurant at Pala cio De Isora, Tenerife.
The swimming pool at Gran Meliá Palacio De Isora, located in Tenerife, Canary Islands. 16 C-magazine July-September 2013
Fall into savings
with Club Meliá Options
Haven’t booked a vacation this year, or still have some options left over and don’t know what to do with them? Don’t let those options go to waste! Call a Club Meliá Network vacation guide now and make a reservation to receive a 20 percent discount on the amount of options it would take to book your vacation at any of our home, resort or urban collection resorts. That’s right, 20 percent less options! This means you can book that last minute vacation getaway this fall, or perhaps indulge a little on more space.
Hurry, this offer is only available if you book your vacation and your stay is completed prior to December 15, 2013 for use of your 2013 Options. But that’s not all! Can’t stay before December 15th… if you make a reservation for 2014 by December 15, 2013, we will provide you with a 10 percent discount off the standard Options required for week vacations in 2014 (holiday* weeks are excluded from this offer). All vacations must be completed by December 15, 2014.
*Holiday weeks excluded refer to and are not limited to: Christmas Week, New Year’s Week, Holy Week, Easter Week, Memorial Day Week, July 4th Week, Labor Day Week and Thanksgiving Week. Always ask your vacation guide prior to making reservation. Club Meliá is currently working hard to add clubs to our collection, such as the following luxury resorts and hotels listed opposite. If any of these destinations are saying your name, don’t delay, call today.
C-magazine July-September 2013 17
London Offers Visitors Much in the way of Sights, Sounds, Culture, and Energy
oisy, vibrant and multicultural, an amalgamation of frenetic energy, ideas, and people: These are the words one would use to describe London, the capital and largest city of both the United Kingdom and England. With a population of 8 million people, 14 million in the London metropolitan area overall, it is also the largest city in Western Europe and in the European Union. Situated on the River Thames in southeast England, London is also an international capital of culture, education, fashion, finance, politics, and trade, making it an ideal vacation destination for any time of year.
Major area attractions that are mustsees include Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the Queen; the London Eye, the world’s third largest observation wheel, located on the South Bank of the Thames and offering wonderful panoramic views of London; Marble Arch, a white Carrara marble monument designed by John Nash and located at the intersection of Oxford Street and Park Lane in Mayfair; Piccadilly Circus, London’s entertainment heart; St. Paul’s Cathedral; Tower Bridge, the iconic 19th century bridge located by the Tower of London, the city’s first royal fortress and 900-yearold home of the Crown Jewels, guarded 18 C-magazine July-September 2013
by Beefeaters; Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster, including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the seat of UK government and the setting for royal coronations since 1066; and Trafalgar Square, a large public square commemorating Lord Horatio Nelson’s victory against Napoleon’s navy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Besides the above-mentioned London landmarks, the city of London is also home to an amazing collections of museums, many of which have no entrance fees, allowing visitors to easily make multiple visits. Some notable museums include the British Museum, home of the Rosetta Stone and the world’s largest collection of mummies outside of Egypt; the National Portrait Gallery, which, as its name indicates, contains portraits of notable figures from British history; the Victoria and Albert Museum, a 150-year-old museum that was named in honor of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, containing a vast collection of decorative arts from around the world; Tate Modern, home to contemporary and modern art collections from across the globe; Tate Britain, a gallery housing the Tate collection of British art from 1500 to the modern era; and the Natural History Museum, home to 70 million specimens of extinct and existing species. Especially
popular with visitors are the Darwin Centre, dinosaur exhibits, and a studio dedicated to BBC wildlife personality David Attenborough.
Things To Do
As far as things to do in London go, there is no shortage of activities to keep visitors entertained. Highlights include walking through London’s many parks, listening to live music, watching a football (soccer) match, or a guided walking or bus tour. More adventurous types may want to venture out and explore the city on their own. A good city walk could start at Paddington station, heading through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James Park before crossing Trafalgar Square. Another great walk is through Regents Park, which is filled with cafes, bars and tennis courts, terminating into the London Zoo, a must-visit attraction. As far as live music in London goes, it is one of the world’s best cities for seeing concerts, with venues running the gamut from small pubs to major concert halls, all featuring one act or another every week. For great nightlife, there are plenty of pubs, bars, lounges and nightclubs in and
around central London to suit any taste, with different districts specializing in different sounds. The Farringdon/Hoxton/Shoreditch area has many clubs playing drum and bass and house and trance music, with clubs in this area often featuring top DJs. The area around Mayfair is the place to see and be seen, while the Camden area is home to clubs that play Indie, metal and rock music. Football fans will be happy to hear that London has over 15 professional clubs for their viewing enjoyment, enabling visitors to witness true passion for the game in its mother country. If one journeys to London during the third weekend of September, one can explore many of the city’s most interesting buildings during the London Open House Weekend, when several hundred structures that are not normally open to the public are available for viewing. Last but not certainly not least, one must not forget shopping in London, an experience all its own.
We start our shopping tour at Spitalfields Markets, home of the original London fruit markets. At this current site, shoppers can
Longsford Bar at Meliá White House, London. find clothes and vintage kitsch, among other things. Next are the flagship shops of Oxford Street, and Regent Street, home to Hamleys, London’s flagship toy store, and the London Apple Store. Bond Street is home to some of the world’s most luxurious designers, as is Tottenham Court Road and Westfield. Beauchamp Place is where celebrities and royalty shop, while Westminster is where some of the world’s best tailors can be found. For the bargain shopper, the outlets of Covent Garden are the place to be. Nearby Charing Cross Road is a book lover’s haven, and Soho and Camden Town offer alternative music and clothing, while
Chelsea is noted for housewares. Last but not least is Knightsbridge, home to the world-famous Harrods department store. The shop’s 330 departments offer a wide range of products and services, and its 32 restaurants offer various types of cuisine. Quite a lot for one store!
As far as eateries are concerned, London has plenty to suit any taste or budget, ranging from fast food to exclusive fine dining. One can try authentic Cockney cuisine of fish and chips, pie and mash, bangers and mash, green pea and ham soup, jellied eels, and other seafood.
The entrance hall at Meliá White House, London. C-magazine July-September 2013 19
The Level Buffet at Meliá White House, London.
As London is a major global metropolis, it offers visitors several ways to get in, starting with its six airports: London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London City, London Stansted, London Luton, and London Southend. Of these, London Heathrow and London Gatwick are the most trafficked. In addition to London’s official airports, of which two are actually located within Greater London, there are a few other regional airports in the UK that are conveniently accessible from London: London Ashford Airport, also known as Lydd Airport; Southampton Airport, Bournemouth Airport, Birmingham International Airport, Oxford Airport, Kent International Airport and Shoreham Airport. Each of these offers a growing number of budget flights for the cost-conscious traveler. For high-end fish and chips, try Super Fish near Waterloo station. Some other great areas to go for food include Upper Street Head, Stoke Newington Church Street, and Charlotte Street. Indian food in London is especially common, so there is hardly an area without at least one Indian eatery. Drummond Street in the Euston area is one such place that has a nice mix. Tooting, East Ham, Wembley and Southall are great for authentic and cheap Indian eateries as well. For European cuisine, head to Lordship Lane in the southern suburbs, which also has several award-winning gastropubs. Croydon has a few more international delights, with South American and European eateries. Brick Lane in the East End is famous for Bangladeshi curries, while Brixton is famed for African and Caribbean
cuisine. Needless to say, Chinatown off Leicester Square is excellent for Chinese, while Edgware Road is popular for Middle Eastern food. Kingsland Road is good for inexpensive Vietnamese, and Finsbury Park is ideal for those craving Greek and Turkish dishes. For vegetarians and vegans, London has a plethora of places serving healthy and organic specialties, such as the Hare Krishna vegan restaurant located just off Soho Square. Halal and Kosher places are also common, from burger stands to fine dining establishments. Whitechapel Road, Brick Lane Bayswater, Edgware Road and Paddington are where many Halal diners can be found. For Kosher cuisine, visit Golders Green, Edgware and Stamford Hill; for great Kosher delis, Charing Cross Road is the place to be.
The Superior Room at Meliá White House, London. 20 C-magazine July-September 2013
For transfers directly between London’s airports, taxis are surely the fastest route, followed by direct inter-airport bus service by National Express. Buses between Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton run at least every hour. Once in the city, travelling between the airports and London proper is relatively easy due to the large number of public transportation links that have been put in place, as there are plenty of buses, taxis, and trains, as well as the London tube/underground, London’s subway system.
Where To Stay
Meliá White House, located next to London’s popular Regent’s Park, in charming Marylebone. Area attractions like Oxford Street, High Street, Piccadilly Circus, the London Zoo and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum are all a short walk away. Meliá White House is also conveniently close to many underground/tube stations, making famous sites like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London a mere few minutes trek. Amenities at this amazing accommodation include a 24hour front desk, concierge services, a gift shop and newsstand, shops, shoe shine service, wake-up service, Internet, babysitting, laundry and dry cleaning services, valet parking, a sauna and spa, a fitness center, restaurants and bars and tennis, to name a few that serve to make every stay as comfortable, relaxing and convenient as possible.
n our ongoing series of interviews with special Club Meliá members who have been loyal beneficiaries of our vacation products, we now turn our attention to Alma Lugo, a longtime Club Meliá member. Like other members we have featured, Lugo is also a true spokesman for the Club Meliá brand and the vacation lifestyle it has provided. As an advocate of Club Meliá, everywhere she goes, Lugo shares positive anecdotes about the benefits of Club Meliá membership. Lugo has been a member of Club Meliá since August 2006, when she first purchased a unit at Sol Meliá Vacation Club in Puerto Rico. Located in the highly popular Coco Beach area, this resort combines superior luxury in a renowned Caribbean setting with premier facilities, top-notch spa treatments, a challenging fitness program, and relaxed ambience, all surrounded by the lush and beautiful tropical foliage of the El Yunque rainforest and picturesque white-sand beach lapped by crystal-clear turquoise waters. Lugo purchased her first unit because she felt the amenities, features, and destinations Club Meliá had to offer were more than worth the price. A member for close to two decades, Lugo has stayed with Club Meliá since because “I like the way they treat me.” “I love that you are not assigned a specific
week for vacation, and I love the diversity of hotels that Club Meliá has,” Lugo added. Since that first initial purchase, Lugo has upgraded to a three bedroom suite purchase in Puerto Rico. She certainly makes regular use of that unit and the Options associated with it, taking several vacations throughout the year. “If I stay in Puerto Rico, I spend several weekends at the vacation club,” Lugo said. “If I can take a long vacation, I usually go to Europe for 15 days.” Since 2006, Lugo has used her Club Meliá Options to travel to Club Meliá properties in Orlando, Fla.; Cancún, Mexico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Greece, Germany, Italy, and many cities in Spain. “I really like Palma Real at Punta Cana, but one of my favorites is ME Madrid,” Lugo said. A native of Puerto Rico, Lugo currently resides in Manatí, Puerto Rico, a municipality located on the island’s northern coast, where she works for Puerto Rico Supplies Group, one of the largest food distributors in Puerto Rico. In her time off, she regularly enjoys vacations at Club Meliá resorts with her daughters and grandson. And as Lugo can pass on her Club Meliá benefits, she regularly does that as well, to her daughters and close friends.
Alma Lugo pictured with her grandson, Diego, in the lob by of Gran Meliá Fénix durin g Christmastime. With such enthusiasm and endorsement for Club Meliá resorts and vacation destinations, it’s no wonder that Lugo and her family members are undeniably true champions of the Club Meliá brand and the vacation lifestyle it provides. “As we continue to evolve as a club, it is fascinating to have members share in their success with planning vacations using their membership,” said Victor Hugo Charco, vice president of operations and special projects. “From Europe, to the Caribbean, to the United States; Alma and her family have showcased the power of not only our product within her family’s life, but the importance that vacations have to all. Even more important is her notion that if she can’t use her weeks, she shares them with her daughters, again showcasing the power of the membership year after year. Our product may not be perfect, but Alma and her family continue to provide us with the support to help make the product better. Looking forward to seeing the Lugo family soon!” ME Madrid, a favorite of the Lugo family.
C-magazine July-September 2013 21
Endless Possibilities with Vacation Exchange
emember what it was like to be a kid, dreaming of the choices and opportunities that lay out before you? The possibilities of your future felt endless. Dr. Seuss told you: You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. -Oh, the Places You’ll Go! While we all may lose some of our childish innocence, there is still magic in the possibilities that are opened up to us through travel. For most of us, exploring a new destination is one of the only times that you can revisit that butterfliesin-the-stomach, too-excited-to-sleep wonderment that you experienced constantly as a child. And with your vacation exchange membership through RCI, you can still “steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Take a look at some of the fabulous destinations you can explore through RCI and The Registry Collection’s Signature Selections by RCI.
All eyes are on Brazil thanks to several upcoming world events hosted in the beautiful Latin American country. But visitors here will find more than tourist attractions and sporting events: The traditional culture and cuisine are what bring the country to life, and Brazil offers a wide variety of ecotourism, adventure and beach destination options. Some of the country’s hotspots include Costa dos Coqueiros, Paraná, and the hidden pearl on the Atlantic coast, Itacaré in Bahia.
Las Vegas, the United States
Revelers in search of high-energy excitement can visit Las Vegas, Nev., a renowned resort city that bills itself as “The Entertainment Capital of the World.” Shimmering above the desert haze is the famous Las Vegas Strip, a 4.2-mile stretch featuring various casino-hotels that boast some of the best gambling, shopping, entertainment and fine dining in the world.
Some of Mexico’s most visited spots include Cabo San Lucas, the Mayan 22 C-magazine July-September 2013
Riviera, Puerto Vallarta and Cancún, all of which are world-renowned for their breathtaking beaches, authentic regional cuisine and tranquil atmospheres. Beyond taking in the region’s extraordinary natural beauty, you may also choose to explore it hands-on through zip lining, scuba diving and snorkeling.
The southernmost country on the continent of Africa gives visitors inspiring landscapes and cultural experiences that make for truly once-in-a-lifetimes trips. From safaris to wine routes and tours of Robben Island, visitors get the full subSaharan experience in just one country.
Some great destinations to consider include Cape Town, Sheffield Beach, Durban and Zimbali.
Florida, the United States
Endless summer skies and comfortable weather may be one of the greatest allures of the Sunshine State. Families with children flock to Orlando to feel the magic of its many famous theme parks, or to venture to the southern interior to experience the amazing wildlife, flora and fauna of Everglades National Park. If relaxation is the ultimate goal, Daytona Beach can provide an outlet, with its endless pearly-white beaches and adventurous motorsports.
Spain and the Canary Islands
Located on the Costa del Sol of the Mediterranean, the city of Málaga, Spain, enjoys a subtropical Mediterranean climate and an extended summer season. Archeological remains and monuments underscore the city’s 3,000 years of rich history and culture. Farther off the northwest coast of Africa are the Canary Islands, with the largest and most traveled being Tenerife. Visitors will relish the spectacular beaches, lush forests and lively nightlife of the area.
The United Kingdom and Ireland
As the first European stop in a flight over the Atlantic, Ireland and the U.K. offer a whole new world just a few hours away. Visit Great Britain, best known for its castles, cathedrals and picturesque countryside. Or, tour Ireland, famous for its lush green scenery, history (both new and old), and its charming pubs.
A true paradise on earth, Bali is considered by many to be one of the best islands in the world (despite some tough competition). Vibrant culture and friendly people welcome visitors to the beautiful island, where a backdrop of striking mountains meet the sparkling waters below. Here, travelers can parasail, jet ski, explore the surrounding islands on cruises, take submarine dives, or simply bask in the warmth of the Indonesian sun on the white sand beaches. There are even more amazing destinations that you can explore at RCI.com or TheRegistryCollection.com. Take some time today to browse the options – maybe even make a new bucket list, and reawaken that child-like excitement as you begin planning your next great adventure.
Four Tips to Get You on the Vacation of your Dreams
With more than 4,000 property options in the RCI exchange network, your travel wish list can be quite extensive. To help you get to your most desired destinations, there are several “tricks of the trade” to make the most of your exchange membership. 1. Deposit Early This is one of the most important tips for utilizing the full potential of your vacation ownership. By depositing early, you receive the maximum possible value for
Want Even More Vacation Options? RCI Has You Covered Along with the flexibility to exchange vacation ownership, RCI offers members opportunities to enjoy additional vacations throughout the year. These options come with a best rate guarantee to ensure that members are getting amazing value.
Extra Vacations getaways: Extra Vacations getaways offer the opportunity to book additional week-long vacations at RCIaffiliated resorts. You can book similarly to a traditional hotel stay yet still enjoy the spacious, resort-style benefits and amenities that are the hallmark of vacation ownership. Last Call vacations: For the spontaneous, RCI members can pay cash for clearancepriced vacations at the same great RCIaffiliated resorts offered to members through RCI Exchange or Extra Vacations getaways. These typically become available less than six weeks before check-in. RCI Cruise and Travel Packages: RCI offers several cruise options and complete travel packages. You can either use the exchange value of your vacation ownership toward the purchase of a cruise vacation, or purchase Cruise Extra Vacations getaways at RCI member-only special rates.
your vacation ownership. So, as soon as you decide not to return to your home resort or a resort within your vacation club, deposit your week. You do not need to know where you want to go next – just deposit your week, and explore from there.
3. Rely on the experts RCI guides are a wealth of knowledge on travel destinations, and experts on the RCI exchange system. Speaking with one of these guides can help you better understand the RCI exchange system, and it just might inspire you to try your next vacation destination.
2. Consider off-peak season travel Are you looking to exchange into a very popular resort or destination? Consider going during the shoulder season, particularly times when school is in session. If you have flexibility in travel dates, use broad searches to expand your options.
4. Start an Ongoing Search Let the RCI system do the work for you. Instead of searching at various times for multiple days, insert your search criteria and RCI’s system will alert you when there is availability. You can even start multiple searches to further expand your options. C-magazine July-September 2013 23