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Accommodations • Attractions • Events • Destinations • Wellness
Bliss in Maldives
Pass to a Fr iend
Summer 2 Edition - 2016
Maafushivaru - Maldives
Visit us FOR MORE thrilling stays!
A NEW WATER PARK EXPANSION FOR MORE SUN SOAKED MEMORIES. The coolest water park in town is getting even cooler. New beach-entry gradual slope pool. 2 new speed slides. 1,100 feet of lazy river. Unlimited opportunities to make a splash in San Antonio sun. Bring the whole family and immerse yourself in everything JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has to offer. For more memorable vacations and the most personalized service, choose the resort where Hill Country stays are more thrilling than ever. Visit www.jwsanantonio.com for more dives and slides at our newly expanded River Bluff Water Experience!
Table of Contents
21 Cool Things to do in Arlington, Texas
Texas 21 Cool Things to do in Arlington, Texas
Cenote Spa 28 8
Sanctuary at Camelback 30
Destination:San Antonio 12
Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel 32
The San Luis Resort - Galveston,TX
Texas Gulf Coast 18
Palm Coast/Flagler Beaches
Brackenridge Golf Course - San Antonio
Phoenician Resort - Scottsdale, AZ
Wellness Travel 23
Grand Cayman Islands 40
Talking Stick Resort 24
Viceroy ZihuateĂąo 26 About the Cover:
Maafushivaru - Maldives 43
Maafushivaru is a incredible getaway in the Maldives. Tons of incredible things to see, do and partake in. Certainly a bucket list adventure. (Photo courtesy of: Marie Hernandez, Seriously Travel) www.thehotelguide.com
Ride the Rio
elcome to San Antonio! Hop on a Rio San Antonio Cruises barge for a narrated tour of the River Walk. Visit our website to find one of our four convenient locations. For our Rio Taxi service, hail one of the checker-flagged barges for a trip to your River Walk Destination.
www.riosanantonio.com (210) 244-5700 â€˘ (800) 417-4139 4 www.thehotelguide.com
A Word From
ummer is certainly upon us and heading for the home stretch. With that being said, you still have time for tons of adventure across the globe. Here in the United States, you can’t go wrong with fun things to do in Arlington, Texas followed by an amazing array of adventure in San Antonio. We all have seen the increase in Wellness Travel and our section dedicated to that is also expanding. For instance, check out the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Tons of incredible amenities and a blissful way to experience your vacation. Don’t forget to visit the Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel in Israel. Packed with wellness offerings and more. Ever thought of going to the Grand Caymen Islands? Well, one of our contributing writers did an inquisitive feature on how to venture to the Islands on a budget. Great tips. Great insight and definitely worth the read. Travel is about experiences and we have some awesome contributions from a seasoned travel writer, Marie Hernandez and also Kerri Zynen. These two ladies take us to Maafushivaru in the Maldives and an incredible piece on a two-week Eurpean Vacation accompanied by a masterful photo expose. For great story ideas or to be a part of our “Experiences” section, send me a personal e-mail by clicking here. Looking for great hotel deals? Remember that you can book all of your travel from our website or by simply clicking here. Happy Traveling!
Edward R. Leos Publisher
Senior Travel Writer
Katherine Belarmino Nicole Connolly Gabrielle Gonzales Marie Hernandez Dr. Cacinda Maloney Travel Writers
Daniel Leos Illustrator
Deanna Barrett Lauren Leos Kerri Zynen Contributors
The Hotel Guide P.O. Box 592418 San Antonio, TX 78259
(877) HTL-GDE1 phone (210) 857-2003 firstname.lastname@example.org www.thehotelguide.com
Special Thanks to:
• Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority • Denver Convention & Visitor’s Bureau • Texas Department of Tourism • Texas Department of Transportation • Texas Hotel and Lodging Association • Texas Travel Industry Association • Las Vegas CVB • Austin CVB • Tyler CVB •GalvestonCVB • Houston CVB • Corpus Christi CVB • New Braunfels CVB • El Paso CVB • Lubbock CVB • Granbury CVB • San Antonio CVB
21 Cool Things to Do
By: Decima Cooper Mullen & Nikki Stephens
o you like to maintain a reputation as the “cool mom,” the “hip” host, and the friend who always knows how to plan a memorable outing? If yes to any or all, this rundown of semi-secret and “why didn’t I think of that?” things to do in the American Dream City is destined for your favorites list (or your refrigerator, if you like to keep it old school). Check this out, happiness pursuers, and let the good times commence: One: Book a bed & breakfast staycation If fine dining, spa treatments, and cocktails on the front porch swing sound like your idea of a good time, you can indulge to your heart’s content at the Sanford House Inn & Spa or the Thornton Inn Bed and Breakfast, located in historic Downtown Arlington. Pair an overnight stay (or two!) with a concert under the stars at the Levitt Pavilion, a show at Arlington Music Hall or a Texas Rangers game, and you’ve got yourself one sweet getaway. Two: Sample some chocolate soufflé at Cacharel Restaurant Since it’s hidden away at the top of an unassuming business building in the Arlington Entertainment District, you might not know that Arlington is home to Cacharel Restaurant, one of the finest culinary treasures in Texas. Book a reservation today for gorgeous views and fivestar cuisine in an elegant setting—and whatever you do, be sure and save room for the best chocolate soufflé you’re likely to come by in this lifetime. Three: Shop Texas’s largest Christmas store Decorators Warehouse is a true shopper’s paradise that offers an acre-plus of Christmas and holiday deco-
rations—and as a bonus, there’s the Rose Garden Tea Room or the store’s TV lounge when you’re ready for a break. Four: Explore historic cemeteries Intriguing destinations in and around Arlington include Arlington Cemetery, the Early African American Cemetery, “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott’s gravesite (the final resting place for the legendary lead guitarist for the rock group Pantera), and Lee Harvey Oswald’s gravesite. Five: Go a little gangster A little 1930s-styled gangster, that is. One of Arlington’s most interesting destinations is Arlington Baptist College, the former home of Top O’ The Hill Terrace, a famous Prohibition-era tea room and casino that’s full of incredible stories and wonderful historical photos. Anysized group tours are available by appointment. Six: Dig the Division Street dive bars Well-poured affordable cocktails, a little people watching, and a whole lot of atmosphere? Oh, yeah. Start at the far west end of Division Street near Highway 820 and cruise your way east through some of the divey-est joints around, such as Ozzie Rabbit’s, continued on page 10
FOOD IS THE UNiVERsAL Language
Located 15 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Arlington offers a world of unique flavors from â€œmom and popâ€? restaurants. No suit or tie required, because we offer a casual taste of Texas with an international flare. We celebrate our diverse and eclectic mix of food and events, like Texas Christkindl Market, one of the largest open-air holiday markets in the Southwest. Find out more about Texas Christkindl Market and Arlington at arlington.org/ftm.
TEXAS Stumpy’s, Caves Lounge, and Milo’s. (Before you head out, don’t forget to designate a sober driver or arrange a ride. ) Seven: Do a little hoop dreamin’ When the super women of the WNBA Dallas Wings needed a home for their brand new team, they came straight to Arlington—of course! You can catch the ladies’ action late spring and summer at UTA’s College Park Center, where there are also plenty of things to do before and after the game in the College Park District or in Downtown Arlington. Eight: Disc golf, anyone? Disc golf fever is all the rage at beautiful Veterans Park, where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy the satisfaction of this addictingly fun sport. While you’re there, you can also check out the park’s hike/bike trail, the equestrian trails, nature area and wildscape gardens. Nine: Go kayaking on Lake Arlington Discover a different kind of outdoors experience on the Lake Arlington Paddling Trail, where novice and experienced kayakers alike can enjoy some quality alone time or some watery group adventures. Ten: Strap on those skates Ever noticed that everything’s more fun when you’re on wheels? Check out Arlington Skatium, where old school wooden rink nostalgia meets up with 21st century bells and whistles—and that means good times for kids of all ages (and kids at heart). Eleven: And speaking of good times on wheels… There are more of them to be had when you take an Arlington Segway Tour, where you’ll roll through scenic and iconic destinations like Globe Life Park and the always impressive Stonehenge-esque Caelum Moor stone sculptures of Richard Greene Linear Park. Twelve: Plan a luxury Texas Rangers outing Those super-affordable grandstand seats are all kinds of fun, but there’s nothing wrong with splurging once in a while and enjoying air conditioning, flat screen TVs, private restrooms, or all-you-can eat grub in one of Globe Life Park’s luxury suites, the Hyundai Club or the Cholula Porch. Thirteen: Break off a piece of inner peace Say “Namaste.” The Arlington Yoga Center offers walk-in classes, bundled packages and unlimited monthly yoga, with instruction in a range of multiple yoga disciplines. Beginners are always welcome. Fourteen: Scale the Iconic Oil Derrick at Six Flags Over Texas It’s possibly the most instantly-recognized image of our fair city, but have you actually ever been to the top? Offering stunning 360-degree views at 300 feet from the ground, the legendary Oil Derrick is a truly bucket list destination for anyone who lives in or visits Arlington.
Fifteen: Go behind the scenes at a world-class stadium Check out everything from the locker rooms to the press boxes to fine art exhibits and more when you take an up-close tour at the venues the legendary Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys call home, Globe Life Park and AT&T Stadium. Sixteen: Class it up with a little culture What’s made up of talented artists from around the world, known for frequent performances of beautiful music, and likes to call the historic Arlington Music Hall home? It’s Symphony Arlington, and we can just about guarantee you’ll be glad you spent an evening getting to know them better. Or mosey on down to the Arlington Museum of Art, where the nationally-coveted Vivian Maier: Lost and Found exhibit showcases the work of a posthumouslydiscovered photographer by hobby and nanny by trade. The discovery of her amazing photo collection spawned a documentary that’s currently showing on Netflix and a national traveling exhibit that’s making a summer stop here in Arlington. Seventeen: Discover the joy of live theater Broadway musicals, comedy classics and contemporary dramas are available each season at Theatre Arlington, one of the area’s finest (and most affordable) performing arts destinations. If you’ve never been, you’re really missing out… Eighteen: Take a swing in Paradise Beautiful Tierra Verde Golf Course offers 250 acres of sweeping vistas, water features, sculpted fairways and challenging play—and yet it’s one of the most affordable golf top-tier golf destinations in the area. Be sure to stay for breakfast, lunch or dinner at Ventana Grille, the clubhouse restaurant. Nineteen: Do some drive-by history Free history and air conditioning —you can’t ask for more than that. Take a trip back to a fascinating past without leaving the comfort of your car when you go on this self-guided Historic Buildings Tour, which includes stops at Arlington’s better-known historic destinations and a few spots that might surprise you. Twenty: Find some unexpected fun at UT-Arlington And you thought that UTA was just a place to get an excellent education. That’s true, but it’s also the home of the UTA Planetarium, the UTA Fine Arts Gallery, the College Park District, and tons of exciting college sports action. Twenty-one: Grab some famous grub Did you know that Arlington is home to a fair share of restaurants that have earned profiles on national food and travel shows? “As seen on TV” destinations that are oh-so-worth checking out include J. Gilligan’s, Prince Lebanese Grill, Jamaica Gates Caribbean Grill, A Taste of Europe, and Sprouts Springroll. Arrive hungry…
HOP ON HOP OFF: 18 Bus Stops Departures every 20 minutes 9.30am to 5.30pm BUY TICKETS
Bus Stop 1 - SA Visitors Center 216 East Crockett St., The Alamo, 78205. Call Us: 210 224 8687
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San Antonio, Texas Summer Fun = Educational Experiences
o need to put the brakes on learning during the summer months. Keep young minds active with exciting and entertaining activities that provide a bit of education, too. Whether your child is passionate about animals, art, nature or history, you’ll find the perfect blend of leisure and learning to make your San Antonio visit even more memorable! Museums This summer Witte Museum visitors can explore even more thanks to a $100 million expansion. From now-Sept. 5, explore historic culture at the Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed exhibit, and for kids, the permanent H-E-B Body Adventure exhibit features four floors of fun activities with themes relating to health IQ, empowerment and wellness. For a look at the life of more recent Texans, the new South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte features interactive displays and intriguing stories about the cowboys, settlers, Native Americans and others who shaped our state from 1850-1950. The DoSeum, San Antonio’s Museum for Kids, is an interactive learning laboratory for all young children allowing them to learn through play and helping them become creative problem-solvers through hands-on activities. The DoSeum offers exhibits unlike any other children’s museum in the country, including an interactive robot named Baxter, a spy academy filled with math challenges, an interactive puppet parade, a musical staircase, an ADA-accessible treehouse, a Children’s River, and a significant outdoor exhibit area with plenty of shade and water features. Texans are a diverse group, and the Institute of Texan Cultures is a great place for kids to gain an appreciation of the various cultures that contribute to the makeup of this great state’s population. The Briscoe Western Art Museum is devoted to the art, history, and culture of the American West, with a contextual emphasis on San Antonio, South Texas, and the Southwest. History Close to 300 years ago, five Spanish missions were established in San Antonio. While the Alamo is the most
famous, the other four, Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission San Juan and Mission Espada are equally captivating. All five have received UNESCO World Heritage status. To give kids a better understanding of the 1836 battle at the Alamo, don’t miss the 42-minute film, “Alamo: The Price of Freedom” at the Alamo IMAX Theatre in Rivercenter Mall. Outdoor/Eco Learning Chill out with an intriguing underground tour of stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, chandeliers and soda straws in the stunning Natural Bridge Caverns, where you can choose the level of adventure that is just right for your family. Paved pathways, a lake with ducks and turtles and a popular restaurant are three great reasons to visit San Antonio Botanical Garden. See, smell and touch plants found in regions from South Texas to Japan. Explore and tour cave and attractions at Wonder World Park. See the Earthquake Cave and experience the devastations of a major earthquake close up. Animal Interactions While visiting SeaWorld San Antonio, take the animal lovers in your family on a behind-the-scenes tour for interactive experiences with water-loving residents such as penguins, sea lions, dolphins and beluga whales. Open 365 days a year, the San Antonio Zoo is situated in an old limestone quarry and is home to more than 8,500 animals of 779 species. The San Antonio Aquarium provides an up close chance to learn about jellyfish, sea horses, colorful corals, stingrays, sharks and more. Info? Click San Antonio Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
The San Luis Resort
Paradise in Galveston, Texas r’s
iscover unparalleled luxury at The San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center, a year-round beachfront resort on Galveston Island. Recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award® since 1999, the 32-acre property offers lavish accommodations, breathtaking Gulf views, and unmatched personalized service. Along with its 250 guestrooms, the 16-story resort recently opened the all-new Villas at The San Luis Resort, elegant suites unlike anything else on the Gulf Coast. Meticulously designed to create a highly personalized experience, the five 800-square-foot suites are nestled in lush surroundings in a quiet corner of the resort. Villas staff are on hand from the moment guests arrive to ensure a perfect stay. Great Amenities In addition, The San Luis has more than 10 dining
options to satisfy any appetite, including its award-winning restaurant, The Steakhouse. Guests may work out or indulge in a relaxing massage at the full-service spa, salon, and fitness center, or do some retail therapy at Style, a high-end boutique. Two swimming pools and a swim-up pool bar add to the tropical ambience. And just beyond the resort are Galveston’s 32 miles of sun-drenched beaches, opulent historic sites, and famed shopping. Whether for meetings, weddings, a family vacation or a romantic getaway weekend for two, The San Luis Resort can accommodate guests’ needs efficiently, graciously, and completely. More Info For more information on this incredible Texas resort, visit them online at www.SanLuisResort.com.
250 Guestrooms with views of the Gulf of Mexico H2O Poolside Ultra Lounge with Firepit Award Winning Restaurant, The Steakhouse
• Private Cabana Rentals • Luxurious Spa San Luis • NEW Luxury Villas
Spa San Luis
5222 Seawall Blvd Galveston, TX 77551 • 800.392.5937 sanluisresort.com • villasatsanluisresort.com www.thehotelguide.com
Texas Gulf Coast Rocks
orking hard, following the rules, and being responsible are all key to being successful in life. Every now and then, however, it’s nice—even healthy—to let your inner child loose for a little play date and bring your kids along. There’s hardly a better place for that than the Texas Gulf Coast. There, families will find numerous ways to engage the imagination and tickle the fancy. A few of our friends with children visited over the summer, so we had the opportunity to revisit some popular kid-oriented destinations. The Bay Area Galveston Island (45 minutes south of Houston) is a historic, beautiful, and ideal destination for family fun, but there are two great attractions at the halfway point that make for memorable stops. Even pulling into Space Center Houston was exciting. Out on the lawn was a replica of the space shuttle Independence piggybacked on the enormous and historic 747 jetliner that ferried the actual shuttles into space. One of the area’s top attractions, NASA’s Johnson Space Center draws more than 800,000 visitors a year.
All the exhibits orbit around space science and exploration. There was an interactive display showing what it would be like to live on the International Space Station, and we all felt dwarfed but delighted by the huge Saturn V rocket. The Stellar Science Show was an amusing way to learn about space, thanks to an entertaining host who explained complex “science stuff” in a way that we mortals could understand. A five-minute drive down NASA Parkway was Kemah Boardwalk. This unique attraction looked just like an old-timey amusement park, and was right on the water between Trinity and Galveston Bays. The brave ones in our group went directly to the Boardwalk Bullet, a 96-foot-tall wooden roller coaster, while the rest of us opted for the Double-Decker Carousel, where we could choose to ride on dragons, sea monsters, or unicorns. After lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., we went to the Stingray Reef to pet and feed live stingrays, and walked through the rainforest exhibit to see but NOT pet and feed snakes, scorpions, and tarantulas.
Galveston Island The only thing difficult about going to Galveston is to narrow down the possibilities. As a treat, we checked into the Hotel Galvez—a luxurious historic hotel on the Galveston Seawall with a great pool area, plus courtesy bikes and helmets for tooling about the town. Right then, however, we were ready to get wet, so we headed to Schlitterbahn Waterpark, a 33-acre water wonderland of slides, chutes, rapids, and water coasters. After a twirl on the Loopy Luge, we were tubing along the Kristal River discussing the delightful “Schlitterbahn Experience” with another guest. We talked about the original park in New Braunfels, the one we’d been to on South Padre Island, and my fellow floater said the state’s newest Schlitterbahn was soon to open in Corpus Christi. After a walk along the Seawall and a free round-trip ride across Galveston Bay on the old Bolivar Ferry, we had pizza—and a few games of Uno—at Board Game Island, a deli-style café on The Strand, a historic avenue near the harbor. On Sunday morning, we all indulged in the Hotel Galvez Sunday brunch, named one of “Texas’ Best Brunches” by Southern Living. Then it was off to the Pleasure Pier. Designed to resemble the original Pleasure Pier that opened in the 1940s, the current 1,100-foot-long wooden pier was filled with rides, midway games, and another roller coaster—the Iron Shark—with its loops and curves visible for miles either way down the beach. We all rode the Pirate’s Plunge, a log flume ride www.thehotelguide.com
with two drops of more than 40 feet, but I—a proud but safe wimp—watched as the others rode the Texas Star Flyer and the Sea Dragon. The Coastal Bend About three hours south of Houston is one of our favorite sections of the Gulf Coast. Anchored by Corpus Christi, the region offers beaches, bird-watching, dolphin sightings, and history lessons—specifically in the form of a 910-foot-long, World War II-era aircraft carrier. The USS Lexington was commissioned in 1943, and saw action in nearly every major operation in the Pacific theater. Now in permanent residence in Corpus Christi Bay, the ship is open for tours. After we explored all 20 of both the vintage and modern aircraft on its deck, we went below to see how sailors experienced day-to-day life on the ship. Ready for some waves, we took the short drive to Port Aransas, a picturesque beach town that’s especially welcoming for families. Not only does it have a long, sandy shoreline, but it’s also full of fun, kid-oriented activities. We rented a couple of beach buggies and cruised around town, stopping to get our pictures taken inside the giant shark mouth at the Destination Beach & Surf Gift Shop. After lunch, we signed up for Sandcastle Building Lessons and, together we created our own “beach town.” Courtesy of www.TravelTex.com.
Beauty of Old Brack
18 Reasons to Tee It Up at Brackenridge Golf Course by: Brett Bell hen it comes to golf few W destinations, can match what San
Antonio has to offer. Superb golf courses, world-class accommodations, family-friendly fun on and off the course, exceptional weather all year-round, succulent dining and so on. The only conundrum – how to experience all that the Alamo City has to offer. Thankfully, one golf course in particular – Brackenridge Park or “Old Brack” – allows visitors to easily check off many of their “must-do in San Antonio” boxes, while providing 18 resounding reasons why golfers should tee it up every time they’re in San Antonio:
1. Centennial Celebration – This Sept. 16, Old Brack will celebrate its 100-year anniversary, with events occurring throughout the year and in 2017. A special logo commemorates this anniversary, and is featured on apparel and other items. 2. A Tillinghast Treasure – Noted golf course architect and recent World Golf Hall of Fame inductee A.W. Tillinghast designed Brackenridge Park’s original layout. Old Brack was one of Tillinghast’s few designs in Texas – he’s known more for such noted layouts as Winged Foot, Baltusrol, Bethpage Black and San Antonio’s own Oak Hills. 3. America’s Best – Golfweek ranked Brackenridge Park as one of the top-50 municipal courses in the United States. Other publications have tabbed Brackenridge Park as one of the best public layouts in Texas. 4.
George Washington Was Here – No, not the for-
mer president. Local businessman George Washington Brackenridge donated the land on which the course now sits. Legend has it he once hunted bears here. 5. Walk Where Legends Walked – During its infancy, Brackenridge Park was the site of the Texas Open, now the Valero Texas Open on the PGA TOUR. Among those who played in this event at Old Brack – Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. 6. A Road Runs Through It – The course changed significantly in 1968 when State Highway 281 was built. That construction eradicated the original back nine, and now vehicles speed through areas where fairways and greens once sat. 7. A River Runs Through It – Course architect John Colligan revamped Old Brack in 2007 and re-routed the back nine so that the famed San Antonio River could come into play. 8.
Mount Rushmore in Texas? – Adjacent to the
Brackenridge Park clubhouse is the Borglum Studio. Here, sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the heads of the U.S. Presidents on Mount Rushmore. 9. Walk of Fame – Old Brack is also the site of the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. Near the 17th hole is the Texas Golf Walk of Fame, a walkway that connects the Brackenridge clubhouse and Borglum Studio with exhibit monuments dedicated to Hall of Fame members. 10. A Perfect 10? – Noted Texan and Masters champion Ben Crenshaw touted the par-3 10th as his favorite hole in Texas.
TEXAS 14. Center of Attention – Besides the attractions, the golf course is only minutes from downtown San Antonio, the Riverwalk and many hotels. It’s also 10 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the posh resorts on the north side of town. 15. Hip to Be Square – Colligan wanted to restore many of the course’s original design elements in his redesign, including Tillinghast’s signature reef bunkers and square greens. The reef bunkers – hazards that cut across the hole – can be found on Nos. 3 and 8, while the most notable of the six square putting surfaces is the Utah-shaped seventh green.
11. Family Fun – If the family doesn’t care for golf, there are many other places around the course for them to enjoy. Within a five-minute drive sits the Witte Museum, the DoSeum, Kiddie Park, the San Antonio Botanical Gardens and the San Antonio Zoo.
16. Hungry? – Golf always works up an appetite, and there are some Alamo City favorite eateries nearby. The barbecue is great at the Smoke Shack and Augie’s Barbed Wire Smokehouse, while the burgers are delicious at Sam’s Burger Joint and Burger Boy.
12. Train Yourself to Ignore the Train – There’s always a buzz around Brackenridge Park, which may or may not be a good thing. On the front nine, it’s easily to get distracted by the joggers or the train that blows its whistle as it transports zoo patrons around the park. On the back nine, it’s the cars that zoom on the highway that grabs golfers’ attention.
17. Pan American Roots – Founded in 1938, the Pan American Golf Association called Brackenridge Park its home course. Just down the street from Old Brack sits the PAGA Clubhouse, where the organization’s archives and museum are housed.
13. Aim at the Tower of the Americas – Next to the Alamo and the Missions, the Tower of the Americas is a landmark of which people recognize San Antonio. It’s also the aiming point for tee shots at the third hole. www.thehotelguide.com
18. A Fabulous Finish – The finishing hole at Brackenridge Park is a dandy, a par-3 over water to a square green. Old Brack is one of a handful of noteworthy U.S. courses that end with a par-3. Others include Oak Hills, East Lake in Atlanta and Congressional in Washington D.C. 21
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Wellness Oasis in Scottsdale
Talking Stick Resort
nown for its world-class amenities and accommodating staff, Talking Stick Resort is the premiere destination for wellness travel. The AAA Four Diamond property is independently owned and operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and is located in Scottsdale, Ariz. It has 496 deluxe rooms, 12 restaurants and lounges, a nearly 300,000-square-foot casino, two nearby championship golf courses, more than 113,000 square feet dedicated to indoor/outdoor meeting space, a spa and four pools. The venue touts the perfect blend of entertainment and relaxation options, offering everything from headline acts in its 650-seat Showroom to a pool area complete with luxury cabanas and various opportunities to unwind. The Spa... Nestled on the resort’s 14th floor, The Spa at Talking Stick Resort features signature treatments that cater to the mind, body and soul and also pay homage to the culture of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Featuring raw Pima cotton poultice, The Spa’s signature Peaceful Healing treatment includes a soothing rhythmic pressure, warm oils and steaming desert herbs that put the body at ease. The River Walk treatment relieves achy muscles thanks to the use of heated stones harvested from Arizona’s Salt Rivers. To improve emotional health, diminish physical pain and restore balance, the experts at The Spa at Talking Stick Resort offer cranial sacral therapy. Spa providers use light but firm hand placements that extend from the lower spine to the top of head, alleviating trauma and injury. The Reiki massage, which is also offered onsite, stimulates the immune system and has been known to improve sleep quality, increase energy and reduce stress. Vacationers can also take advantage of Talking Stick Resort’s 24-hour fitness center. The state-of-the-art facility
includes elliptical, bikes, weight machines, treadmills and floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing fitness buffs to enjoy breathtaking views of the Sonoran Desert as they complete their routine. Delicious Food Additionally, the resort offers fare less than 600 calories. Dishes include a Skuna Bay salmon entrée at Orange Sky, the property’s culinary jewel; baked salmon with apple compote and quinoa at Wandering Horse Buffet, a restaurant featuring a wide selection of meals on the casino floor; a Mediterranean chicken salad at Black Fig Bistro, an express service that offers appetizers and soups; a big shrimp cocktail at Ocean Trail, a 19seat Cajun food bar; Thai salad at Blue Coyote, a restaurant boasting a casual dining experience; grilled Atlantic salmon with steamed broccoli and brown rice at The ARENA Poker Room, the largest poker room in Arizona; and ensalada mixta at Blue Coyote Cantina, an eatery showcasing a southwestern-inspired menu. With its array of health-conscious dining options, invigorating spa treatments and entertainment offerings, Talking Stick Resort is the ultimate destination for wellness travel. Visit: www.TalkingStickResort.com.
The Pulse of Medical Travel
· · · ·
Discover options for higher quality more affordable healthcare in the U.S. or abroad Learn about new options for treatment not yet available in the U.S. Explore destinations for health and wellness programs offering spa vacations and more Understand what employers and health plans are doing to make medical travel a new option for you and your family
For Free www.medicaltraveltoday.com www.thehotelguide.com
| www.usdomesticmedicaltravel.com 25
iceroy Zihuatanejo is the wellness center of this popular destination with its unparalleled, multi-faceted program to create happiness, health and wellness while on vacation. ‘Way to Wellness’ is directed by Edward A. Taub, M.D., a wellness pioneer and leading authority of the discipline, whose Wellness Medical Institute developed “The Wellness Solution” based on Nobel Prize science. “The goal of ‘Way to Wellness’ at Viceroy Zihuatanejo is to help participants manage stress, which is the major problem of our times,” said Dr. Taub. “The program guides guests to happiness, health and wellness by enabling them to enjoy a more active, vibrant and rewarding lifestyle.” Nobel-Prize Winning The components of the precedent-setting program are mindful meditation, healing spa treatments, hatha and aqua yoga, exercise, sports and beach activities, along with cooking classes and healthy cuisine. A key to the success of the program is nitric oxide, an odorless gas molecule found everywhere in our body. Dr. Taub is the co-author of the bestselling book “The Wellness Solution” with Dr. Ferid
Murad, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that nitric oxide is our body’s “signaling” molecule that determines whether we stay healthy –or not. Perfect Setting Viceroy Zihuatanejo (www.viceroyzihuatanejo. com) is the perfect setting for Dr. Taub’s wellness program with its emphasis on a healthy, vibrant lifestyle and the exceptional skills and training of the staff who conduct, teach and direct the many activities and classes. Dr. Taub coordinates with key staff members to certify them as wellness practitioners, and visits Viceroy Zihuatanejo periodically to personally conduct seminars and lectures. “A health-conscious, wellness lifestyle is being practiced and ever-more actively pursued by a growing number of people,” said General Manager Martin Kipping. “With ‘Way to Wellness’ guests
donâ€™t have to leave their healthy lifestyle and values behind when on vacation. To the contrary, our program is an opportunity to deepen their commitment to good health and mindfulness, and increase positive results.â€? At Viceroy Zihuatanejo, wellness is a lifestyle: The exquisite cuisine is prepared with fresh, locally produced ingredients, and there are full vegetarian and vegan menus; a full array of water sports is offered; the location is along a pristine coastline with miles of white-sand beach for swimming, long walks or runs; guests can choose from an array of beneficial classes, from yoga and Tai Chi to alternative medicine, work out in the air-conditioned fitness center, play tennis or swim in three pools. www.thehotelguide.com
The Way to Wellness package for two people, available through Oct. 31, 2016, starts at $395 per night with Continental breakfast and a choice of two activities daily. For more information and reservations: 866-905-9560, email@example.com www.viceroyzihuatanejo.com Nestled on one of the most beautiful and pristine white-sand beaches on Mexicoâ€™s Pacific coast, Viceroy Zihuatanejo has 48 luxurious suites and guestrooms, 600 feet of gorgeous coastline, two gourmet restaurants, a bar with sushi and ceviche menus, an intimate spa in a lush tropical setting, a fitness center and an array of activities.
inner of the ‘Best of Year 2015’ award for its Cenote Spa, Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort is the ideal relaxing retreat to disconnect and recharge with a wellness getaway this Summer. With a design inspired by cenotes – important geological features found in the Yucatan Peninsula that are believed by the Mayan people to cleanse and purify the soul – the Cenote Spa offers an array of signature services that are inspired by the Mayan culture, including the Mayan Bliss massage, Agave Utstal Repair treatment, and the Gift of the Gods Obsidian Hot Stone massage. The spacious 6,000 sq. ft. spa is equally exclusive with only eight treatment suites and specialty facilities including hydrotherapy stations, a eucalyptus steam room, fiber optic chromotherapy showers, and a rejuvenating fitness center. Perfect Healing Power The healing power of water and the earth’s elements can be absorbed in the Cenote Relaxation Area. Specifically, the ‘In Ha’ package provides a unique and authentic renewal experience by starting off with a Janzu Massage in the Cenote Relaxation Pool to promote a deep state of relaxation and dramatically decrease muscle tension. Meant to resemble a return to the womb, this process can be beneficial in easing insomnia as well as releasing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual blockages. After the Janzu Massage, the treatment continues with a 90-minute Signature Energy Balance Massage that combines three techniques (Shiatsu, Lomi Lomi, and Swedish). During this part of the experience, guests listen to a playlist of delta waves that further lead to achieving full relaxation. The experience culminates in a healthy lunch menu exclusive to the spa lounge and a lavender essential oil patch as an amenity to take back to their room for continued relaxation. The Lavender Sleep Formula patch is aromatically relaxing, calming and normalizing. In this blend, lavender, chamomile and jasmine act in concert to help clear thoughts and quiet the mind to allow for natural sleep. This refreshing experience costs $385 USD per person.
Romance Package For a more romantic spa experience, the Romance Package is designed to celebrate love and union with a special couple’s experience that kicks off with an Energy Balance massage that is highlighted by wine-infused essential oils (Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, or Champagne) that are used as aphrodisiac enhancers during the massage experience. After the 60-minute massage, the couple is invited to rinse off in the chromotheraphy shower, which serves to activate the body’s seven chakras. Following the spa treatment, the couples will delight their palates with a private, romantic Ixchel dinner in the mystic-enhanced atmosphere of the Cenote Sanctuary, curated by the culinary team from The Grill at 1 26. While seated around the waters of the Cenote with floating candles illuminating the space, guests will have the option of three exclusive menus designed for seafood aficionados, meat lovers, or vegetarians, inspired by Ixchel, the God of Love. The Romance Package costs $575 USD per person. A 72-hour reservation notice is recommended. For more information or to make a reservation, visit: playadelcarmen.grand.hyatt.com.
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Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain
transformation at the legendary Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain resort is complete, revealing Spa House. The private mountain home enclave offers groups of up to 16 a totally unique spa escape in Scottsdale, Arizona’s desert oasis. Ideal for retreats, special occasion getaways and corporate gatherings, Spa House emphasizes the whole mind and body focus of the resort’s award-winning Sanctuary Spa. The 3,500-squarefoot home features a treatment room for massages (spacious enough for couples) and a movement studio for private classes and personal training with yoga mats, Pilates reformers, indoor cycling, free weights, and other equipment. These complement an open-flow home design with a full kitchen and
dining bar, dining room, and living room that opens to a spacious wrap-around patio, an outdoor pool and expansive lawn. The home’s four bedrooms can host up to eight travelers, and it is neighbored by four newly constructed Terrace Suites that accommodate up to an additional eight guests for a true retreat experience. Notable elements of the 900-square-foot suites include private outdoor showers and 350-square-foot private patios with daybed (in select units), dining table and gas fireplace, framed by 12 foot high glass walls that let the Camelback Mountain views sweep in. Exclusive to Spa House Spa House’s private perch and unique environs on Sanctuary’s 53-acre property make it ideal for specialized programming, from water aerobics in
the private pool to sunrise yoga or astronomer-guided evening stargazing on the courtyard lawn. A Spa Concierge is at the ready to provide counsel and organize therapies both in-home and at the Sanctuary Spa. And a dedicated Sensei in Residence ensures one of Sanctuary Spa’s most elite healers is on-call to perform a selection of highly specialized treatments that are performed exclusively by Sensei therapists. Bringing wellness to the digital age, an in-home kiosk offers Skin Authority Virtual Coaching to Spa House guests. The complimentary educational chats with certified skin coaches help guests customize a skin health plan and navigate products. Conversations can continue at home thanks to the My Skin Authority mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices. This ensures the holistic impact of Spa House follows guests long after they depart the resort. Designed for the home’s fitness center, a dedicated menu of Spa House classes includes Awake sunrise stretch, Energy cardio drum, Clash indoor cycling, Breathe meditation and more. In-room, there is a special menu of only-for-SpaHouse experiences and deliveries, from a bedtime aromatherapy massage for hands and feet to a meditative coloring book with pens, as examples. Guests will also find a Sanctuary Superpower www.thehotelguide.com
minibar of specialty snacks with healthy delights like raw nuts, organic dark chocolate and coconut water. By the bath, an assortment of aromatherapy bath salts afford a restorative soak, and at the bed, custom journals are offered to jot reflections. Turndown is customized for Spa House guests, including a personal card with a calming sentiment or balancing yoga pose suggestion, as examples. Inspired by Sanctuary Spa’s celebrated Satori Wellness Retreats, a multi-day Spa House Satori program can be customized to meet any group goal, from mental and emotional wellbeing to physical development or restoration. During a Spa House stay, all of Sanctuary’s facilities are at guests’ disposal, including the celebrated Sanctuary Spa, fitness center, championship tennis courts, world-class drinks and dining of elements restaurant and jade bar, and Arizona’s most magnificent infinity-edged pool. Spa House opening rates through May 31, 2016 range from $2,900 (home only) to $5,400 (home and casitas). Summer rates through Sept. 10, 2016 range from $1,900-$3,600, depending on use of the neighboring casitas. There is a two-night minimum stay required. For more information or to reserve Spa House, please visit www.sanctuaryaz.com. 31
One of Israel ’s Finest
Elma Arts Complex Hotel
lma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel is a 92-room luxury spa resort perched atop the lush and majestic precipices of Zichron Ya’akov at the southern tip of the Carmel Mountain Range overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel features Israel’s most state-ofthe-art auditorium (replete with 25 acoustic banners allowing the space to be acoustically customized, a wide variety of video, audio and lighting capabilities and a pipe organ designed by Orgelbau Klais), an unparalleled Israeli art collection displayed in several gallery spaces and a world-class spa, all housed within the meticulously restored Brutalist architectural-style building created by Yaacov Rechter in 1968. A stay at Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel fuses together a one-of-a-kind musical and cultural experience within a distinct architectural and natural landscape unique to the Carmel Mountain region of Israel. The hotel’s 92 rooms are divided into seven categories: Standard Room, Artist Room, Classic Room, Deluxe Room, Panoramic Room, One-Bedroom Suite and the Premium One-Bedroom Suite, each of which is dressed with calming palettes that flatter the prisms of sunlight that waltz through the private terraces. Arts and Culture Facilities at Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel include: • Elma Hall, a 450-seat concert and recital space, designed for acoustic excellence by the world renowned Arup group from Germany, hosting top-tier symphonies, musical artists and performers from Israel and around the world. • The Cube, an intimate reconfigurable performance space that seats 150 people designed to
foster a connection between the performer and the guests. • The Elstein Galleries, located on the upper level of the building, consisting of three expansive exhibition spaces that incorporate climate control and flexible lighting systems, allowing for the display of works in varying-mediums, and showcase artworks from the private collection of Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel owner Lily Elstein. Dining Options Oratorio restaurant designed by Baranowitz and Kronenbergarchitecture serving Mediterranean-style cuisine sourced from local ingredients across the region, and featuring a menu of savory dishes such as: Oven Roasted Whole Sea Bass; Oxtail Tortellini; Handmade Tagliatelle and Organic Chicken, Mediterranean Masala & Grape Seed Oil. All dishes are perfectly paired with wines from Israel and around the world. Italian style espresso bar open all day serving coffee, tea, pastries and fresh squeezed juices.Poolside restaurant and bar offering light entrees and refreshments until the evening Spa Facilities Holistic spa treatments ranging from Traditional Swedish and Deep Tissue massages to a “Chakras Massage” and “The Strength of Tenderness” experience in one of eight rooms that incorporate musical healing methods into each session. Indoor heated lap pool with floor to ceiling windows. Olympicsized outdoor swimming pool with stunning views of Zichron Ya’akov and the Mediterranean Sea. For further information and to book your stay at Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel, www.elma-hotel. com.
Florida Here we Come
Palm Coast/Flagler Beaches
hen considering incredible beach destinations, Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches, Florida, is a must-see. Hotels here have history and charm, making it easy to set the scene for memorymaking. Breathe in fresh ocean air and bask in the sea breeze at the charming, 1950s A1A Motel or set up camp with the whole family, including Fido, at Si Como No, a Flagler Beach Retreat. Just across the street from the beach and fishing pier, The Tropical Bird and Bee welcomes guests to an ocean oasis. Great Beaches Quality waves make Flagler Beach a surfing mecca for experts and novices, alike. Bring your own board, or rent one to hang ten like a pro. Local surf shops offer lessons and surf camps are held each summer to teach the basics. Flagler Beach is home to the Tommy Tant Memorial Surf Competition each fall. All that seaside fun makes way for lick-your-lips eats, which coupled with hometown service and scenic views, culminates in a winning combination when it comes to satisfying hunger pangs in this beach side town. Brightly-colored restaurants dot the coastline, ready to serve up friendly service alongside good eats. Grab a cup of Joe at the BeachHouse Beanery, the neighborhood coffee joint, or linger over conversation and a scrumptious breakfast at the Funky Pelican before strolling along the beach. Kick off your flip flops and dig your toes into the sand at the Golden Lion, where choice menu options, like the fish tacos, and spectacular mixed
drinks keep locals and tourists alike coming back for more. Come and See Us Affordable and free options for entertainment have been luring visitors to Flagler for decades yet the peaceful, eco-friendly, Old Florida charm of the area is vastly undisturbed. www.VisitFlagler.com.
URBAN. There’s always something NEW TO DISCOVER in Downtown Orlando. Be ENTERTAINED with a Broadway show at the new performing arts center. TASTE local flavor while dining outdoor at one of our award winning restaurants. EXPLORE local art at a nearby art gallery. INDULGE in retail therapy with boutique shopping. UNCOVER Orlando’s rooted history with a walking tour.
AND WITH EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENTS TO DISCOVER,
YOU’LL WANT TO KEEP COMING BACK. downtownorlando.com www.thehotelguide.com
Luxury in Scottsdale
The Phoenician Resort
ince it first opened its doors in 1988, The Phoenician has set the standard for luxury and service in the Sonoran Desert. The AAA Five Diamond resort is a visual masterpiece, spanning 250 acres of lush gardens and dramatic desert terrain against the spectacular backdrop of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona. Tons to Offer Everyone But what truly sets The Phoenician apart is the remarkable diversity guests will find here, allowing them to create the travel experience of their dreams. Accommodations range from luxurious guestrooms to residential-style casitas. Dining can be a casually elegant affair, as found at the Italian-inspired Il Terrazzo; as informal as a refreshing salad enjoyed poolside; or as memorable as a romantic feast just for two under the stars. The world-class recreational offerings of The Phoenician’s golf, tennis and spa facilities are balanced by the more unconventional pleasures of touring the resort’s fascinating Cactus Garden or exclusive $25 million art collection; or feeding Koi at Necklace Lake Lagoon. Spacious, Elegant Accommodations The Phoenician offers guests a choice of 643 spacious accommodations from guestrooms and luxury suites to casitas with private entrances. In the main resort building, there are 450 beautifully decorated guest rooms, plus 12 luxury suites and two expansive, 3,000 square-foot presidential suites. The intimate Canyon Suites, nestled against Camelback Mountain, is a boutique resort within the resort offering guests enhanced signature services, such as a personal wake-up call served with a choice of freshbrewed tea or coffee in a sterling silver set, a seasonal amenity presented by Executive Chef Paul Carter and a Canyon Ambassador to take care of the guest’s every desire. The Canyon Suites features 20 guestrooms, 38 luxury suites and two presidential suites, as well as its own secluded “edgeless” pool and cabanas. A short stroll from the main building adjacent to the Necklace Lake Lagoon, the casitas include an additional 119 guestrooms and suites offering doorstep parking and private entrances. Award-Winning Dining The Phoenician offers seemingly endless dining options that are as diverse as they are inspired. Among the nine restaurants is Il Terrazzo, featuring authentic American-Italian cuisine; and J&G Steakhouse, showcasing a bill of fare created by world-renowned Chef
Jean-Georges Vongerichten. For a more casual experience, the charming Café and Ice Cream Parlor serves tempting treats and light meals in a family friendly atmosphere; and the Oasis and Canyon Grills present a variety of poolside favorites; while a complete lineup of signature burgers, appetizers and desserts await at the Relish Burger Bistro. For a more traditional experience, relax to the rich temptations of Afternoon Tea in the Lobby Tea Court. Another popular gathering spot, the Thirsty Camel Lounge, serves luxury spirits, light fare and rare cigars with live piano or saxophone adding to the ambience. And for private dining, The Praying Monk offers an intimate, Renaissance-inspired setting for small parties. World-Class Leisure Pastimes At The Phoenician, world-class recreational options abound. The golf club offers 27 holes of championship play on three, nine-hole par 70 combinations designed by Homer Flint and Ted Robinson, Sr., while the 11-court Tennis Garden is the only resort facility in the Southwest to offer four playing surfaces. Guests in search of enlightenment can indulge in an array of pampering and rejuvenating spa treatments at the 22,000 square-foot Centre for Well-Being, or learn about the resort’s many treasures – both natural and cultural – with guided and self-guided tours of the two-acre Cactus Garden and The Phoenician’s $25 million art collection. More info? Visit them online at www.thephoenician.com.
Capture the moment, as well as the imagination. With elegant accommodations, award-winning cuisine, a stunning golf course and a lavish spa, The Phoenician is where your highest expectations are met and always celebrated in style.
LIFE IS A COLLECTION OF EXPERIENCES LET US BE YOUR GUIDE thephoenician.com/offers 800 888 8234
RELISH BURGER BISTRO
IL TERRAZZO J&G STEAKHOUSE
THE CENTRE FOR WELL-BEING
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“Sounds of Summer”
s September approaches each summer, vacations and getaways can start to dwindle. But on Florida’s Historic Coast, August and September are the best time to savor summer. And the desire to keep summer going strong is the spark that started Sounds of Summer, an inaugural festival in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach that delivers so much fun and entertainment, there’s no reason for visitors to stay home and call it quits on summer. Tons to Do There are more than 100 things to do during Sounds of Summer, with Sing Out Loud as the feature event. The Sing Out Loud Festival, presented by Community First Credit Union, is a celebration of music featuring free concerts by Brandi Carlile, The Indigo Girls, Booker T. Jones, The Travelin’ McCourys and more than 130 additional local and national acts, 150 hours of music, spanning three weekends August 26 through September 11. The concert locations include downtown St. Augustine, St Augustine Beach, St. Augustine Amphitheatre, Ponte Vedra Beach and more. Get the complete schedule and information at www.singoutloudfestival.com. ”The Sing Out Loud Festival is a true St. Augustine celebration of music that spans as much of the musical genre spectrum as possible, showing the world what this community has to offer!” said Ryan Murphy, Director of the St. Johns County Cultural Events Division. “This festival is an all-inclusive celebration. And by all-inclusive, I mean it encompasses as many musical genres as possible, from the guy with a laptop kicking out crazy electronic music to the five-piece Americana jam session. Best of all, to offer this celebration of music to the community for free is exceptional and it is truly because of the commitment to improving the quality of life through the arts by Community First Credit Union as well as our partnership with the St. Johns Cultural Council and the Tourist Development Council.”
Andy Witt, Executive Director of the St. Johns County Cultural Arts Council, echoed those sentiments. “Sounds of Summer demonstrates that St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach have so many fantastic events in August and September for locals and visitors alike” said Witt. “The inaugural Sing Out Loud festival of music combined with art, culture and heritage activities in August and September makes this a great place to be.” Arts & Culture Events Along with Sing Out Loud, more than 100 arts, culture and entertainment events are scheduled from August through the end of September on Florida’s Historic Coast. Highlights include: Castillo Centennial celebrations; film and performing art productions such as the Broadway classic Godspell; the free Black Heritage and Civil Rights Walking Tour; St. Augustine’s Founding Day heritage event and the Lincolnville Festival; culinary events including the Spanish Wine Festival; sporting events such as The Feel the Love 5K and the World Golf Hall of Fame’s Road to Rio. There are also lifestyle events such as St. Augustine Fashion Week and the Florida Heritage Book Festival. More Info... See the Sounds of Summer calendar of events at www.soundsofsummerevents.com
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Enjoy on Mid-Sized Budget
Grand Cayman Island
rand Cayman has a reputation of being one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean. But I have good news for you! You don’t have to be rich to go on vacation there! But apparently after meeting with their Minister of Tourism, they do seek out the high-end tourists. In fact, I was quite taken aback during my meeting with the Deputy Premier & Minister for District Administration Moses Kirkconnell and the Councilor for Tourism and Transportation Joseph Hew from the Cayman Island Government who stated that their target tourist makes $200,000 a year from the USA and Canada! “In our summer season, we need our visitors to make over $200,000 a year and in winter they need to make over $300,000,” Kirkconnell told a group of travel writers. “We have an extremely targeted marketing plan and we basically look at pockets of wealth. Our core business is the United States and North America – parts of Canada – and we look at the pockets of wealth and attack that by zip code.” I do realize there are two extremes in the Caribbean – one is to open the flood gates and let them all in at a cheap price and the other is to keep the invasion of tourists down to a less-than-horde proportion, but charge them a lot. There are plenty of islands that use this model to either control the onslaught, like Turks & Caicos, St. Barts, Anguilla, and of course, Grand Cayman. Or at the other end, you find the flooded areas that make a buck-fifty off each of them, like Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas. I do get it, but let’s be smart about it and see how we can get around the affordability factor in the Cayman Islands. One of the issues the Cayman Islands does have is that virtually everything has to be brought in by ship. I
am talking everything from a bottle of water to almost all types of supplies. So you can see what a challenge it is for them to keep things affordable. However, after speaking to a colleague who writes for a magazine for travel agents, he says that arguably the only story that hasn’t been written up much is how to enjoy Grand Cayman Island on a mid-sized budget. I am here to tell you and your family how to do it, since I believe it is completely worth going! The Cayman Islands are a much better choice for vacation in my humble opinion than the Bahamas or Jamaica. Those islands are filled to the brim with tourists from the cruise ships to the all-inclusives that never let you leave their resorts for exploration. The Cayman Islands are a completely different experience. The weather is warm year-round with the average highs holding steady in the 80’s! The early spring months though are their most popular months to visit. There is plenty for individuals, couples or families to do from Sting Ray City to Rum Point to visits to turtle farms, shopping and of course, amazing diving and snorkeling or just relaxing on the beach.
How to Enjoy Grand Cayman Island on a Mid-sized Budget: 1. Stay at vacation rentals or low cost hotels that serve breakfast . 2. Since most of these vacation rentals or low cost hotels have kitchen facilities, they are a HUGE money saver for travelers in the Caribbean. When virtually all the food has to be imported from Florida, this can save on the cost of eating out. 3. You can also stay on the East End and pay significantly less, not everything is along 7 Mile Beach, despite what you read. I prefer to split up my vacation and stay in both, as they are like two different vacations wrapped up in one. The east end is quieter and less crowded. For recommendations of a Vacation Rental near 7 mile beach or the East end: I suggest you take a look at TripAvisor’s expansive list of vacation rentals available, as I found several under $250 a night for a family of four. For recommendations of a low cost hotel along 7 mile beach: I can recommend The Comfort Suites, which is a Choice Hotel franchise as a value-based property that has hotel rooms from studios to two bedroom suites. They have kitchen facilities and a free breakfast. Not only that, they are literally 75 steps from 7 mile beach (I counted). Sure the aesthetics are basic, but the genuinely happy service, high occupancy rate and the latest 2.8 million dollar overhaul in 2014, plus the next $1 million dollar one that will begin this September helps to create a fun and warm atmosphere. Don’t forget that breakfast and Wi-fi are included. Recent dates show it renting for $130 a night, but the average rental price is $192 per night. It is www.thehotelguide.com
considered to be a 3.5 star hotel and accordingly has no spa or high-end dining, but instead a pool and a local bar. The Comfort Suites has found its success is not being a Westin or Ritz, but instead an affordable option on 7 Mile Beach, one of the most expensive locations on the island. I did want to mention that it is beach adjacent and not beach front, since there is a condo blocking its view, however, it is literally steps down a sandy lane with lounge chair access for its guests. According to the general manager Thomas Mason, “We offer a fantastic value” and he says they “target a lower income bracket.” They have been quite successful since they have one of the highest occupancy rates on the island. For recommendations in the East End for a lowcost alternative hotel: I can recommend Turtle’s Nest Inn – this is a beachfront alternative to the large hotel chains. We loved our 2 bedroom suite with a kitchen. They also have all the snorkeling gear you need, all for borrow, not even check out, and this ocean front property has an amazing reef right out in front. So, what IS there to do when you get there? I already mentioned Sting Ray City, Rum Point, visits to turtle farms, shopping, diving and snorkeling, and just plain ole’ relaxing on the beach. But there are also things like the free art museum called the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, and the Pedro St James Castle. That right there should do you for at least a week! For more information, visit www.PointsAndTravel.com. Written by: Dr. Cacinda Maloney, Points & Travel 41
A Unique Maldives Paradise
by: Marie Hernandez; www.SeriouslyTravel.com
aafushivaru is a 25-minute flight over the Atolls of the Maldives. On the first day of my visit the weather was clear giving me panoramic views of gorgeous azure waters, crystal clear as far as I could see. After landing in the middle of the ocean near a floating landing pad I was greeted personally by one of the managers of the resort I would call home for the next week. A beautifully cared for wooden boat took us the short trip to the long planked walkway leading up to the reception area, adding to my anticipation for the experiencing that lay ahead. As we walked toward reception the manager explained the layout of the resort, where I would have my meals, where the all-important spa was, and where to go for activities. The resort has a unique booking system where guest can “do it yourself” on convenient iPads which I thought was brilliant! Along the walkway I saw reefs teaming with marine life and was told that some of the island’s best snorkeling could be found off the water bungalows. I was thrilled to see a baby black tip shark happily swimming in the shallows. I stepped off the wooden walkway into soft white sand and an ever-smiling staff. I was immediately handed a cool towel and tropical drink to enjoy while the check in process was taken care of. I found myself immediately relaxed; I think the fact that the common areas, including reception, was in the sand…how could you not be peaceful?! Luxurious Villa I was shown to my over water bungalow; this is what I’d been dreaming of all my life! This was my ‘get’, my travel dream and here I was, wandering around a luxurious water villa, comfortably and lavishly decorated and literally on a shallow sandy reef. Maafushivaru has three types of villas – Beach, pool and water. Each one catering to various tastes and budgets. The lush tropical vegetation that surrounds the resort along with it’s thatched roofs, and it’s small size is perfect for couples, families, and yes, even solo travelers.
Delectable Meals Mealtime is a gastronomical affair and the buffet style Cuisine Gallery offers endless options, even catering to those with dietary limitations. I’m a gluten watcher, avoiding it as much as possible. I let the head Chef know about this before hand and was delighted to find him walking me through the buffet at each meal, ensuring that I chose the correct dishes. Breakfasts were one of my favorite times as I enjoyed fresh and perfectly made Cappuccinos from the Library Lounge, a wonderful coffee house and actual library (which is also in the sand!) adjacent to the restaurant. I made it a habit of borrowing one of the various genre books each morning and leisurely enjoying my coffee and breakfast. Each night the restaurant offered a different cuisine from Mexican, to Italian, to Asian. The options were endless, plentiful, and fresh. In addition to the buffet restaurant and it’s infinite choices the resort is home to 135° East a Teppanyaki and Sushi restaurant servicing some of the freshest seafood I’ve ever had. Its house in a quaint over water open kitchen thatched roofed building a very short walk from the water villas. 43
Spa Life... If you follow me you know that I’m all about spa treatments. Nothing completes a resort stay without a relaxing and rejuvenating spa. Maafushivaru Spa offers a plethora of exhilarating, tranquil treatments by professional, friendly masseurs. I spent a couple of hours indulging in the Coral Voyage, one of the Voya signature packages where I was pampered from head to toe. Spending a couple of hours at the resort spa is a must for all guests. Water Excursions The resort is located near one of the Maldives best snorkeling and diving sites. From excursions to local islands to swimming with manta rays and whale sharks there is something for anyone looking for a bit of adventure while staying at Maafushivaru. The dive masters were professional and knew just where to go to see awesome marine life. They were also a blast to spend the day with and I made quick friends with all of them. After a day of snorkeling I indulged in a cocktail making session with the staff. It was fun concocting my own mixture of tropical fruits and liquor and of course I got to drink my creations! Fun Times One of my favorite activities was the Movie Under The Stars. On certain nights the personnel sets up bean bags in the sand and a current movie is shown on a big screen. Cocktails and popcorn are served to make it the perfect experience. Lonubo, an exquisite deserted island just across from the main resort, is Maafushivaru’s unique little secret. The gorgeous private island is solely for Maafushivaru guests to enjoy.
Complimentary boat trips in the morning and afternoon can be organised by the staff for those who want to sunbath, snorkle, or enjoy even more privacy. Private dinners can be booked and overnight stays for honeymooners and special occasions are encouraged. A luxurious couples spa experience is included in the price making it a must for couples. As is the case with everything in life, all good things come to an end and so did my stay at this one of a kind floating paradise. As the staff wished me a fond farewell and the boat carried me to my sea plane, I already felt a pang of regret that my stay wasn’t longer. I will however be back. My short experience was one of the highlights of my travel life so far and I won’t forget it any time soon. Love the Property I can’t recommend Maafushivaru enough. The gregarious and expert staff make the resort feel personal and guests will feel as if they are the center of attention. I travel often and have visited many wonderful islands and resorts but this particular one has fondly imprinted itself in my memory. For more information or to book a stay: Maafushivaru, South Ari Atoll, PO Box 2015, Malé, Republic of Maldives Phone: +960 668 0596 | Fax: +960 668 0524 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
European Vacation Two Weeks of Pure Bliss
by: Kerri Zynen
lifelong dream recently came true when a few good friends, my boyfriend Rojo and I booked tickets for two unforgettable weeks in Spain and France. We had never been and I immediately began to wonder, where does the first-time Europe traveler begin to prepare? That is a daunting question for those who have never made the voyage across the Atlantic to the diverse continent full of history, culture and awaiting adventures. Doing the Research We dove headfirst into research by reading every blog and review we could find. I constantly searched Google, overanalyzing every decision because I didn’t want to miss anything. Eventually I realized you just have to CHOOSE. There’s no way to know what the perfect decisions are going to be, and there’s not enough time to try and figure it out. So, we embraced the unknown, figured out the essentials and started our journey. To begin the trip, we hopped on a bus to downtown Dublin during a layover in Ireland. We ended up at a lively pub with delicious fish and chips, refreshing Irish beer and traditional Irish music surrounding us. It was my first taste of spontaneity and the beginning of a magical European adventure. Destination: Spain In Madrid we stumbled upon a Spanish improv show, explored the busy city streets and discovered “churros con chocolate.” We got lost (literally) in the narrow stone roads of Toledo, Spain, and after a stop in the local market, cooked breakfast while overlooking the entire town. In Granada, Spain, we wandered around the Alhambra’s palace and gardens, captivated by the
incredible Moor architecture. We saw a bullfight in Seville, a truly intense experience, especially when the matador was nearly gored by the bull! We witnessed a traditional Flamenco dance, also in Seville, and I will never forget the passion in the dancers’ eyes. We shared Spanish tapas dinners and sipped on the most delicious Sangria we’ve ever had. In Barcelona, we discovered the whimsical architectural style of Gaudi through Park Güell and the Sagrada Família. Eiffel Tower One of the greatest highlights of the trip was our visit to the Eiffel Tower. Rojo and I found an area with music playing and we snuck past the professionals to dance in the corner. We joined our friends on a ledge watching the Tower sparkle and change colors as we talked the night away. We sipped on wine from the bottle and laughed for hours. We attended a EuroCup soccer game in Paris and chanted with the roaring crowd, an unforgettable experience. We strolled through the ornate Palace of Versailles and its gardens with umbrellas to shield us from the rain. We even maneuvered to the front of the crowd at the Louvre to get a selfie with Mona Lisa! Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff For the next adventure, I will remind myself not to stress over the decisions leading up to trip. While it’s important to be prepared, the magic of the trip is not about selecting the best-reviewed restaurant or the top tourist attraction. The magic of the trip is in the journey, the spontaneity, the people, the laughs, the breathtaking scenery and the unexpected. No Google search or travel book can prepare you for those things. 45
European Vacation by: Kerri Zynen
The Visual Journey