Travel Leaders Group’s 2015 luxury travel trends survey of 844 Travel Leaders Group owners, managers and frontline travel experts recently revealed that Cuba is among the top up and coming experiences and destinations for luxury travelers.
“The real destination to watch is Cuba, which already was appearing quite high on the list, even though the survey was launched prior to the President’s announcement of a process to normalize relations,” said Tzell President J.D. O’Hara in a statement.
“It shows how much pent-up demand there truly is for legal travel to Cuba, particularly among luxury travelers who want an authentic experience before the country undergoes rapid change and modernization as a tourist destination.”
In addition to Cuba, Africa Safaris, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Croatia and Vietnam were revealed to be among the top up-and-coming luxury experiences and destinations in 2015.
However, when it comes to the top luxury destinations outside of North America right now, Europe continues to dominate, with European river cruises, Italy, Mediterranean cruises and France filling out the top four for 2015.
“While there is an extensive list of ‘up and coming’ destinations which our luxury travel clients are booking that are more exotic, our high-end travel clients are very loyal to the upscale experiences and charms – both old-world and modern – that Europe offers,” noted Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben.
Australia, England, Baltic cruises, Germany, Ireland and South Africa round out the top 10 luxury travel destinations outside of North America.
Within North America, Travel Leaders Group’s survey revealed Mexico, Caribbean cruises, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica to be the top luxury travel destinations.
When it comes to the top regions of the world for luxury travel, Western Europe slightly edges out cruises and Southern Europe for the top spot, with 19.4 percent of surveyed travel agents pointing out that a majority of their luxury travel bookings are for destinations in Western Europe.
“The incredibly strong U.S. Dollar—versus the euro—is already having an impact on travel to Europe. Luxury travelers are savvy and, while they may spend more than the average American, they still want the greatest value for the money they’re spending,” said Patrick Fragale, President of Protravel International.
“While a trip to Italy may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many Americans, luxury travelers will go back time and time again for the rich culture, amazing history, incredible cuisine and unparalleled scenery. Because of the incredibly favorable exchange rate, plus the advantages that many luxury travelers have in terms of time and money, they are once again being enticed by Europe,” he added. Read more travel news at www.TravelPulse.com
Early January saw a ban lifted that prevented U.S. banks and credit card companies from doing business in Cuba, and MasterCard will be the first to take advantage of this new opportunity, the Associated Press reported via Foxnews reported. Starting March 1, the company’s credit card will be a completely legal form of payment on the island of Cuba.
The announcement comes as President Obama recently announced the U.S.’s intention to restore normal diplomatic relations with the communist island.
While general tourism is still forbidden by the half-century-old trade embargo, those visiting relatives or American students will enjoy the most immediate benefit. An act of Congress is required to open the tourist floodgates.
MasterCard cited guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury as helpful in getting the swipes accepted.
The kinks are still being ironed out, however. Purchase, NY-based MasterCard Inc., advised cardholder to contact their bank before hopping on the jet to Cuba and make sure the card will work on the island.
Read more travel news at www.TravelPulse.com
~ Receive $250 Instant Savings for Winter And Spring Travel ~
NASSAU, Bahamas, – A New Year’s resolution at the top of nearly everyone’s list is to travel more, and Nassau Paradise Island is making it an affordable resolution to keep for 2015. This winter and spring, travelers seeking a tropical getaway can take advantage of the latest Instant Savings offer for remarkable deals at some of the destination’s most popular hotels and resorts. Renowned for its powder white sand beaches and sparkling turquoise waters, Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas is an ideal location to escape the harsh winter. Plus, as far as resolutions go, relaxing on the beach beats a new gym membership any day.
Travelers who book a minimum four-night stay at any of Nassau Paradise Island’s participating hotels by Feb. 3, 2015 will receive $250 Instant Savings on air-inclusive packages. Travel can take place now through April 30, 2015.*
Nassau Paradise Island is convenient to many major U.S. markets, while still offering travelers a true Caribbean escape. With world-class resorts and casinos, gourmet dining, duty-free shopping and numerous historical and natural attractions, the destination has something for everyone.
The following participating hotels provide an array of accommodation options for every budget and style:
o Best Western Bay View Suites
o British Colonial Hilton Nassau
o Comfort Suites Paradise Island
o The Cove Atlantis
o Graycliff Hotel
o Harborside Resort at Atlantis
o Meliá Nassau Beach Resort
o One&Only Ocean Club
o Paradise Harbour Club & Marina
o Paradise Island Beach Club
o The Reef Atlantis
o Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island
o Sunrise Beach Club & Villas
This offer is valid for travel originating in the U.S. and Canada. For more information on these resorts, additional packages, or to book the Instant Savings offer, visit www.NassauParadiseIsland.com.
*Blackout Dates are March 29 – April 11, 2015
About Nassau Paradise Island:
Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas is known for having some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world, turquoise blue water, the Caribbean’s best entertainment and a spectrum of resorts from ultra-exclusive to family-friendly. This convenient destination is serviced by several non-stop flights from most major U.S. cities. Less than an hour from South Florida and less than three hours from New York City, Nassau Paradise Island is so close, yet feels like it’s a world away. Additional information about where to stay and incredible value-added packages may be found at www.NassauParadiseIsland.com.
Travelers can find reprieve from harsh winter weather when they fly south to Florida and Latin America with the help of special offers and packages from Hilton, Kimpton and Seven Stars Resort, including:
Hilton Caribbean & Latin America has rates starting as low as $99 per night, with $50 per night on-property credit for a culinary journey, to play a round of golf, spend the day relaxing at the spa, and more when travelers book its Leisure Escape packages at the following hotels:
· Hilton São Paulo Morumbi: Brazil’s marquis event, Carnival, stops the country for 5 days of explosive parades, glittering samba dancers and celebration. Now, Hilton São Paulo Morumbi will offer full authentic costumes and makeup to guests who stay for the festivities.
· Hilton Barbados Resort: With recently added direct flights between Bridgetown and both New York and Atlanta, an escape to Barbados is in reach. Travelers can take in stunning views from all-oceanfront guest rooms surrounded by two white-sand beaches. The resort features a sprawling pool complex, Kidz Paradise Club and the historic Charles Fort.
· Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico: Sun-seekers can catch some rays where no U.S. passport is required to travel. Set on a private peninsula with a secluded beach, Caribe Hilton is ideally situated between historic Old San Juan and the city’s contemporary Condado area.
The Kimptons of Florida Fly South for the Winter offers are available now through April 30:
· Surfcomber Miami: Offering two complimentary signature vodka cocktails from the Social Club, a Surfcomber beach pack, including a koozie, beach ball, sandals and lip balm, as well as two complimentary bottled waters. Rates start at $263 per night.
· Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa, Palm Beach: Offering two complimentary welcome cocktails at Brandon’s restaurant, 20 percent off services at the Tideline Spa and sunglasses to wear while soaking up the endless sun at the oceanfront resort.
· Vero Beach Hotel & Spa: Offering two complimentary pairs of sunglasses to wear on a beach stroll with two welcome mimosas made with fresh-squeezed Indian River County orange juice, and two bottled waters to cool off with afterward. Rates start at $280 per night.
· The Angler’s Miami, South Beach: Offering two signature Beach Bum cocktails “to-go” for a leisurely beach stroll, two complimentary bottled waters and one Angler’s take-home beach bag. Rates start at $279 per night.
Seven Stars Resort, located on award-winning Grace Bay Beach, is offering travelers who book by February 28, 15 percent off all room categories for travel through April 12. Favorite activities at Seven Stars include:
· Lady Tamara, a private-island drop-off excursion from Seven Stars’ 29-foot World Cat boat, is a popular experience where guests can enjoy a prepared picnic lunch, ice-cold refreshments, umbrella, chairs and beach supplies for a full- or half-day.
· Complimentary use of the resort’s Hobie Cats, kayaks and snorkeling equipment; complimentary bicycles; tennis courts; yoga; and fitness center.
· Sunny beachside massage offered by Spa at Seven Stars Resort, recently acclaimed as a ‘Top 25 Spa in the World’ by Condé Nast Traveler.
Riviera Nayarit’s Best Address Celebrates Fifth Annual Culinary and Golf Extravaganza with Exclusive Early Bird Pricing Available until January 31, 2015
PUNTA MITA, Mexico (January 29, 2015) – The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit Visitors and Convention Bureau and DINE, the real estate developer of Punta Mita, today announce the fifth annual American Express Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf Classic, taking place April 30 – May 3, 2015. The legendary four-day gastronomic and golf experience will feature some of the world’s most renowned chefs, wine personalities, epicurean experts, and exhilarating golf competition on Punta Mita’s two prestigious Jack Nicklaus courses. Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita and The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, located within Mexico’s most exclusive beach community along the shores of Riviera Nayarit, encourage guests to reserve their space early for the unparalleled event with an exclusive early bird package that is available now through January 31, 2015.
“We are beyond thrilled to celebrate the fifth annual American Express Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf Classic, a captivating destination event that brings together some of the top talent in gastronomy and golf,” said John O’Sullivan, general manager of Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita.
“In alliance with our partners in Punta Mita, the V Gourmet & Golf Classic is certain to be our most successful edition to date, underscoring our commitment to delighting our guests with signature destination events and memorable experiences throughout the year,” added Carl Emberson, general manager of The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort and creator of the event.
The 2014 American Express Gourmet & Golf Classic attracted 420 participants and raised more than $50,000 for acclaimed Mexican former professional golfer Lorena Ochoa’s foundation, which supports underprivileged children to reach a balanced life through educational programs, sports, healthy living, and self-esteem seminars, in addition to welcoming premier culinary talent such as Bravo’s Top Chef Masters winner and restaurateur Floyd Cardoz and Michelin-starred Chef Montse Estruch from El Gingle in Spain.
“At American Express, we are very excited to present once again this unique concept that brings together two of the most important activities for our cardholders, such as gastronomy and golf. This is a unique event in Mexico, especially for the quality that offers and the place where it is held. We are always seeking to provide unique experiences to our clients, and this is certainly one of them. We are sure that this edition will be successful because of the passion and knowledge of the team who leads the project,” said José María Zas, general director and president at American Express México, Argentina, Brazil and Latin America.
Building upon the success of the past four years, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita will welcome a talented group of international and Mexico-based chefs and culinary experts for the much anticipated fifth annual Gourmet & Golf Classic. With many prominent chefs, wine specialists, and tequila masters to join the culinary collaboration, the V American Express Punta Mita Gourmet & Golf Classic is sure to be an elegant celebration that marries the best in food and wine, catering to even the most discerning palates.
For golf enthusiasts, the American Express Gourmet & Golf Classic will feature the Punta Mita Cup, a two-day golf tournament played on Jack Nicklaus’ two signature courses, Bahia and Pacifico, which features the famous three-par “Tail of the Whale,” the only natural island green. Acclaimed Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa will participate in the weekend’s events as well as notable Mexican soccer star, Jorge Campos. Participants will have the opportunity to win a variety of exciting prizes with additional elements to include sunset sailing adventures and elegant evening galas with more details to be announced soon.
From now until January 31, 2015, guests are invited to take advantage of an exclusive early bird package, starting at $1,515 per person, per package for a three-night stay at either of the two luxury resorts. When booking the early bird package at The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort or Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, guests will receive daily breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by the weekend’s participating guest chefs, wine and tequila tastings, event giveaways, a farewell brunch, participation in the Punta Mita Cup or an alternative two 60-minutes massage per person per stay, and roundtrip airport transportation. Reservations for The St. Regis Punta Mita can be made by calling 877-250-8871 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations for Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita can be made by calling (866) 280-9490, via e-mail at reservations.PUN@fourseasons.com or at www.fourseasons.com/puntamita using the following promotional code FSHGLF.
For more information, please visit www.puntamitagourmetgolf.com or on Facebook
At Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Key West
Spacious Ocean View Suite Accommodations Include a Complimentary Bottle of Veuve Clicquot for Select Dates in February and March
KEY WEST, Fla. – Nestled along the largest private beach on the island, Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Key West, invites sun-seeking couples to toast their love with spectacular ocean views in a “Suite with a Veuve.” With the promotion, couples who book one of the resort’s well-appointed suites for two nights or more receive an in-suite bottle of Veuve Clicquot® Yellow Label Brut complimentary to enjoy on their beachfront Lanai or Balcony.
Upon entering spacious suite accommodations, guests find an extra sweet door hanger where they may decide what time they’d like their bottle of Veuve Clicquot® to be delivered to their suite. Additional available treats on the list include items like chocolate covered strawberries, assorted macaroons and a cheese plate – a perfect complement to the sip of bubbly. Afterwards, couples may choose to relax with a spa treatment inside the resort’s recently expanded spa facilities, or, dine by candlelight with Casa Marina’s signature “toes-in-the-sand” dining experience, among other options.
From arrival to departure, guests of Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort are welcomed by True Waldorf Service – a service initiative that assigns a personal concierge to each qualified guest who acts as their primary contact, before, during and – an industry first – after a stay, to guarantee every want and request is met.
Casa Marina participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only guest rewards program that allows members to earn Points & Miles® for the same stay and redeem points for free nights with No Blackout Dates at more than 4,100 hotels worldwide.
Suite rates start at $449. The “Suite with a Veuve” offer requires a two-night minimum stay. Offer is valid for travel from February 16 through March 6, 2015. All offers are subject to availability. For reservations, please visit the booking link at this link.
For more information on Casa Marina, call +1 888.303.5717 or visit www.casamarinaresort.com. To learn more about Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, visit www.waldorfastoria.com or http://news.waldorfastoria.com.
About Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts:
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is a portfolio of more than 29 landmark destinations, each being a true reflection of their surroundings in the world’s most sought after locations. Unified by their inspirational environments and unparalleled guest service, Waldorf Astoria creates unforgettable moments through the delivery of True Waldorf Service. Personal Concierges deliver unparalleled, bespoke service from the moment a guest books through check out. Waldorf Astoria is part of Hilton Worldwide, a leading global hospitality company. Experience Waldorf Astoria by booking at www.waldorfastoria.com or www.waldorfastoria.com/offers.
It’s never been easier for Americans to visit Cuba. At the direction of President Obama, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has introduced new general licenses within 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba that require no formal application, prior permission, nor post trip report to U.S. officials. Cuba Cruise now welcomes Americans on board by offering two easy ways to travel: book a comprehensive program with a U.S. tour operator partner, like Road Scholar and InsightCuba, or book directly with Cuba Cruise and register for a People-to-People Cuba Cruise program with U.S. non-profit organization Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FFRD).
“Our People-to-People Cuba Cruise program qualifies for the general license and is designed to immerse U.S. travelers in Cuban culture and history,” said John McAuliff, Executive Director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, and Coordinator of the Cuba/US People to People Partnership. “The exclusive cruise program circumnavigates the island, fostering genuine interaction and cultural exchange both ashore and onboard. It is the most accessible and affordable introduction to Cuba currently available to Americans.”
Educational activities available include Cuban-led dance and Spanish workshops; one-on-one cultural exchanges with Cuban crew and performers; day-trips to historical places of interests like Biran (the birthplace of Fidel Castro), Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos; onboard lectures and film screenings delivered by a University of Havana professor; and more.
How to Book
By joining the FFRD group on the cruise, Americans will receive a participant letter from the organization authorizing travel to Cuba under the new general license for people-to-people travel. The process is simple:
Book Cuba Cruise directly online (yourcubacruise.com), by phone (1-855-364-4999) or through a travel agent.
Register for the FFRD’s People-to-People group travel program online at tinyurl.com/P2Pcruise and receive a participant letter of authorized travel.
All visitors to Cuba require a Cuba Tourist Card, which can be obtained from most airlines flying to Havana or from Cuba Cruise on departure from Montego Bay. Travelers must provide proof of travel health insurance and passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of departure.
In partnership with Road Scholar and InsightCuba, both licensed and registered with OFAC, Cuba Cruise has and continues to successfully host groups of Americans onboard the cruise vessel since December 2013. During those comprehensive 12 or 13-day programs, Americans spend five nights aboard the Louis Cristal, embarking from Cienfuegos and visiting unique destinations around the island like the Isle of Youth, Havana, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba.
For more information about traveling aboard the Louis Cristal with Road Scholar, visit bit.ly/1wECxBn. For more information about InsightCuba, visit bit.ly/1wECHZx.
“We are experts at hosting both American and international travelers in Cuba,” says Dugald Wells, Cuba Cruise President and CEO. “When guests travel with us, they discover the country’s rich culture and history in unprecedented ways and engage with diverse Cubans from a variety of backgrounds, including musicians, dancers, service staff and academics. We are very proud to offer a safe, simple and comfortable way to experience Cuba and we cannot wait to welcome more Americans onboard.”
Cuba Cruise is experiencing a surge in interest from the U.S. and expects to sell out the remaining 2015 departures soon. Rates for the 7-night People-to-People Cuba Cruise, sponsored by the FFRD, start at CAD$782, plus port fees (CAD$178) and the cost of registration (US$75). Weekly departures from January 30 to March 23, 2015 are available to book now. Passengers can embark from either Montego Bay or Havana.
There’s never been a better time to visit Cuba. For more information about Cuba Cruise, visit yourcubacruise.com.
About The Fund for Reconciliation and Development
The Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FFRD) is a thirty year old not-for-profit organization based in in New York, working for normal US diplomatic, cultural, educational and economic relations with Cuba as it successfully did with Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
About Cuba Cruise
Cuba Cruise, launched in January 2013, is a revolutionary niche product affiliated with Celestyal Cruises and offers a unique opportunity to experience Cuba’s history, landscapes, and culture in a comfortable and seamless travel environment. Guests aboard Cuba Cruise spend their days experiencing the wealth of the region, beautiful beaches and a view beyond compare. From the impeccable service and delicious meals made with Canadian beef and fresh produce, to exceptional daily shore excursions using the best local guides and operators, this is a chance to experience a Cuba rarely seen. Cuba Cruise is enjoying another year of roaring success. The cruise sails every Monday from Havana and every Friday from Montego Bay from December 19, 2014 through to March 30, 2015.
Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa invites your clients to escape the cold and experience New-Fashioned Palm Beach Luxury!
Our AAA Five Diamond resort has recently been named a Top 10 Resort in Florida and now has newly re-envisioned rooms by Jonathan Adler.
Your clients can enjoy an Effortless Escape and receive up to $600 in resort credit for stays through April 19, 2015.
• Stay 3 Nights, Receive a $200 Resort Credit
• Stay 5 Nights, Receive a $400 Resort Credit
• Stay 7+ Nights, Receive a $600 Resort Credit
For more information about how your clients can experience New-Fashioned Luxury this winter, Spring Break and Easter, visit us online or call
877-741-6861 GDS Code: PH
* Not combinable with any additional offers and valid on new bookings only.
But one tour operator on Hawaii Island is going a step farther, combining the two travel trends with something just about everybody loves: chocolate.
As Hawaii’s reputation as a premier producer of cacao continues to grow, Home Tours Hawaii, the Big Island’s only culinary home tour company, is partnering with local farm owners to showcase the chocolate-making process.
As part of the tour, travelers set off to well known Kona cacao farm, Kokoleka Lani Farms, which produces Hawaii’s popular Madre Chocolate bars with its cacao. Travelers are given an intimate tour of the estate of local farm owners Greg Colden and Marty Corrigan, where they can sample tropical fruits grown on the farm, locally sourced and handmade cuisine, and—of course—the famous Madre Chocolate bars.
Guests will also learn about the history of cacao, how it’s harvested, how it’s created into chocolate and the types of cacao hybrids that grow in Hawaii. Travelers can even taste the raw cacao directly from the pods of the farm’s trees (if that’s not authentic, I don’t know what is).
For an added dose of authenticity and sustainability, the tour finishes at the Kona Natural Soap Company, a soap factory located on the farm that includes the winnowings of the roasted cacao and the seeds of the farm’s tropical fruits as ingredients in its soap.
“We are excited to be partnering with Home Tours Hawaii to offer this innovative cacao tour to showcase a unique commodity of Hawaii and allow guests to see a sustainable working farm where it is grown, cultivated and incorporated into both chocolate and soap,” said Colden, co-owner of Kokoleka Farms and the tour guide for both the farm and the factory tour.
“With the growing trend towards enjoying food from where it is grown, we encourage guests to taste the cacao from the trees, experience a ‘bean to bar’ chocolate and taste locally sourced cuisine,” added Home Tours Hawaii owner Lisa Christian, via a press release. “Visitors will immerse all their senses in the taste, smells and sights of a tropical fruit farm.”
Home Tours Hawaii is offering weekly tours now for $75 per person. Tours leave downtown Kailua Kona at 8:30 a.m. and return by 11:30 a.m.
To book, call Lisa Christian at 808-325-5772. Read more travel news at www.TravelPulse.com
Caribbean jazz festival season means fans of jazz as well as soul, R&B and hip hop genres will have multiple chances to see A-list stars in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. This year’s Tobago Jazz Experience is set for April with stars including Jenifer Hudson, Kool and the Gang and Jill Scott. – Brian Major, TravelPulse Caribbean editor
Music enthusiasts from around the world are invited to the island of Tobago to experience an electrifying fusion of home-grown entertainers and international superstars as the island celebrates its sixth annual Tobago Jazz Experience. In addition to music, the nine-day festival held April 18-26, 2015 exemplifies Tobago’s vibrant culture and history, unique gastronomy and visitor-friendly residents.
Festival-goers will take a musical tour through Speyside, Signal Hill, Scarborough, Castara and Pigeon Point Heritage Park. Each community will host multiple events and performances by both regional and international music icons including headlining Grammy Award winning artists Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson and Kool and the Gang. This year, major new initiatives are expected as the Division of Tourism and Transportation works to ensure continued improvement and innovation during the annual event. Secretary of Tourism and Transportation, Tracy Davidson-Celestine, is enthusiastic about the quality of acts planned for the week, mentioning that the Division wants to build on the success of last year’s festival, headlined by Grammy Award winning performer, John Legend.
The hotels, guests’ houses and bed and breakfast properties are all full during this time. This means waiters, taxi drivers, street food vendors, bar owners are just a few who benefit from the Tobago Jazz Experience,” said Mrs. Davidson-Celestine.
Against a backdrop of Tobago’s world renowned beaches and laidback atmosphere, Tobago Jazz Experience, now in its sixth year, offers visitors a chance to discover and explore the authentic Caribbean island while enjoying sensational performances. With its cove-filled coastlines, renowned diving sites and diverse gastronomy, visitors to the island are in for a treat with the vast number of activities and adventures the island has to offer.
For more information and ticket information, visit www.tobagojazzexperience.com.
Read more travel news at www.TravelPulse.com
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