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  • Apple Vacations 2017 Crystal Award winners - Best of the Best

    9/14/2017 11:12:08 AM Link |  | Add comment


    Apple Vacations has announced the 2017 Crystal Apple Awards!


     


    The award winners are as follows:


     


    Best Destination: Huatulco, Mexico


    Best Hotel Chain: Secrets Resorts & Spas


    Best Staff & Service (Mexico): Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso


    Best Staff & Service (Caribbean): RIU Palace Jamaica


    Best Staff & Service (Central America): Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica


    Best All-Inclusive Family Resort: Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia


    Best All-Inclusive Adults-Only (18+) Resort: Paradisus La Perla Playa del Carmen


    Best Entertainment: Hard Rock Hotel Cancun


    Best All-Inclusive Dining Experience: Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana


    Best All-Inclusive Resort: Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall


     


    Congratulations to all the 2017 Crystal Apple Award Winners!

  • 14 New All Inclusive Resorts

    5/22/2017 11:30:49 AM Link |  | Add comment


    14 new all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Mexico. At each property, the upfront rate includes lodging, meals, beverages and activities.


     


     


    Now Onyx Punta Cana, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic -- All accommodations at this 5-star retreat feature an outdoor whirlpool on the balcony or terrace; ground-floor suites have direct swim-out access to a pool. Guests can choose from nine restaurants and 10 bars. You'll also find five pools and movies at the beach. Opened November 2016.


     


    Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, Cancun, Mexico -- About 10 minutes from downtown Cancun, this 4.5-star resort provides an on-site water park, infinity pools, a children's club and a teen hangout. Golfers receive complimentary transportation to the Playa Mujeres Golf Club, along with free green fees. Opened November 2016.


     


    Secrets Cap Cana Resort & Spa, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic -- Head to a kids-free escape at this 5-star property within the gated community of Cap Cana. Enjoy 24-hour room service, evening entertainment, oceanfront bars and beach barbecues. Sailing, kayaking and windsurfing are among the complimentary activities. Opened November 2016.


     


    Royalton Blue Waters, Montego Bay, Jamaica -- A lazy river meanders through this 5-star property, while private cabanas edge the pool. The resort offers 11 restaurants, including a jerk hut selling traditional Jamaican favorites. A small water park and children's club entertain young guests. Opened November 2016.


     


    Riu Reggae, Montego Bay, Jamaica -- Next to the Riu Palace Jamaica and Riu Montego Bay, this all-inclusive beachfront resort offers a no-kids setting. The 4.5-star property has infinity pools, a spa, several restaurants and bars, a nightclub and sports like tennis and kayaking. Opened November 2016.


     


    Dreams Dominicus La Romana, La Romana, Dominican Republic -- All accommodations at this 4.5-star resort have furnished balconies or terraces, and Preferred Club swim-up suites provide direct access to a pool. The Explorer's Club hosts campouts and treasure hunts for the kids, while adults can take advantage of the spa and on-site dive center. Opened December 2016.


     


    Grand Velas Los Cabos, Los Cabos, Mexico -- Two-Michelin-star chef Sidney Schutte heads up the signature restaurant at this Sea of Cortez resort; called Cocina de Autour, it serves a tasting menu of eight to 10 courses. Lodging at the 5-star property includes wellness suites that come with an exercise bike and in-room massage. Opened December 2016.


     


    Paradisus Los Cabos, Los Cabos, Mexico -- Formerly Melia Cabo Real, this 5-star property has a small swimmable beach, seven restaurants, a spa and gym. Though the resort is family-friendly, it does have a section of kids-free accommodations known as Royal Service (these rooms come with butler service and a private pool and beach area). Opened December 2016.


     


    Royalton Saint Lucia, Castries, St. Lucia -- Nestled in a private cove, this 4.5-star resort offers the Royal Spa, a fitness center and supervised activities for kids and teens. Stop at the Beach Grill for Caribbean dishes or reserve a spot at the Chef's Table for a seven-course tasting menu. The 4.5-star Hideaway at the Royalton Saint Lucia is a 94-room "resort within a resort" for vacationers age 18 and older; guests have access to all of the facilities at the larger Royalton Saint Lucia. Both opened February 2017.


     


    The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun, Cancun, Mexico -- Situated within the larger Moon Palace resort, the 5-star Grand offers a nightclub, eight new dining venues and around-the-clock in-room dining. Try out the six-lane bowling alley or treat yourself to an afternoon at the spa, which has a hydrotherapy circuit, steam and sauna rooms and 60 treatment rooms. Opened February 2017.


     


    Breathless Montego Bay, Montego Bay, Jamaica -- A vibrant nightlife and high-energy events are the focus of this kids-free, 5-star spot. The 150-suite resort offers in-room tablets, a rooftop pool and bar and a beach scene that encompasses a bar and grill, fire pits, cabanas and theme parties. Opened March 2017.


     


    Royalton Negril Resort and Spa, Negril, Jamaica -- This 4.5-star resort boasts reservations-free dining at restaurants like Calypso, which specializes in West Indies fare, while a "sports event guarantee" assures that major games are broadcast at the Score Sports Bar. The gym provides fitness classes, or you can head to one of the poolside Bali beds or the white-sand beach. Within this property is the 4.5-star Hideaway at Royalton Negril Resort, which is kids-free and has its own infinity pool, bar and beach area. Opened April 2017, both resorts are on the site of the former Grand Lido Negril.

  • Top Romantic,Golf,Spa and Family Resorts

    12/16/2016 1:44:27 PM Link |  | Add comment


    This week, we will  highlight tropical resorts for those looking for a romantic escape or family vacation, as well as great choices for golfers and spa lovers. All promise beautiful beaches, water sports and a relaxed atmosphere. Most of them are all-inclusive, which means that the upfront price includes your room, meals, snacks, drinks and many activities. Click the links for more resort information or to shop for a great rate.


     


    Romantic Retreats


     


    Escape to a romantic beach destination, where features can include candlelight dinners on the beach, in-room Jacuzzis and honeymoon packages that provide perks like a room upgrade or complimentary Champagne.


     


    Some resorts cater just to couples, like Couples Resorts in Jamaica; Sandals Resorts, with 15 properties in locales like Antigua and St. Lucia; and Isla Mujeres Palace and Sun Palace in Cancun.


     


    The Royal Suites by Palladium are no-kids retreats with an intimate ambience and personalized butler service, complemented by full access to the dining venues, bars and activities of the adjacent Grand Palladium resorts. Five Excellence properties offer a no-kids atmosphere. Lavish accommodations include suites with rooftop terraces and plunge pools.


     


     


     


    Family Resorts


     


    Looking for a place where the whole family is welcome? Many of our family resorts have daytime children's programs run by experienced counselors, with activities built around crafts, nature, sports and games.


     


    The Beaches resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos offer age-appropriate activities at the Kids Camp; teens can try out the Xbox Play Lounge or Scratch DJ Academy. Three Hard Rock all-inclusives offer the Music Lab Experience, where guests 12 and older can shoot a music video or mix tracks.


     


    The Azul properties in Mexico and Jamaica have family suites or two- and three-bedroom accommodations, depending on the property. Family Deluxe Junior Suites at Melia Caribe Tropical in the Dominican Republic come with a king-size or two double beds, plus a sofa bed and either a rollaway bed or bunk beds.


     


    Another popular choice is Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, with its huge outdoor water park, aquarium and expansive facilities for young vacationers, including the 14,000-square-foot Crush lounge for teens.


     


     


     


    No-Kids Resorts


     


    Prefer not to hear the pitter-patter of little wet feet around the pool? Try a no-kids retreat. The minimum age for most of these resorts is 18, although guests ages 13-17 are considered adults at a few properties. Our travel counselors can verify the age restrictions at any resort that interests you.


     


    Some top choices include the tranquil Secrets properties and the Iberostar Grand resorts, as well as the elegant, minimalist Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun and the El Dorado resorts on Mexico's Riviera Maya. If you're looking for a livelier spot where participation in activities is encouraged, try Breezes in Nassau, Bahamas (here the age limit is 14.)


     


    The Hotel Riu Palace Antillas is our only no-kids, all-inclusive resort in Aruba; you'll find no-kids Riu properties in a few other destinations, too. Barcelo Hotels & Resorts, a popular all-inclusive resort brand, has one no-kids haven, Barcelo Bavaro Beach in the Dominican Republic.


     


     


     


    Golf Resorts


     


    Tee off in a tropical destination: Our golf resorts offer a course on the property or nearby. Transfers to the courses typically are provided, and some hotels waive green fees.


     


    Moon Palace Cancun in Cancun boasts 27 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus; an on-site golf academy uses high-tech teaching tools for lessons. Nicklaus also created the par-72 course at the Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana; it offers a basic, free 20-minute program with a golf pro every day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.


     


    Barcelo Bavaro Palace in the Dominican Republic is home to The Lakes, where fairways wind through mangrove forests and around 25 lakes. At the Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal in Costa Rica, golf architect Robert Trent Jones II crafted 18 holes on rolling terrain with views of the Pacific and tropical forests.


     


     


     


    Spa Resorts


     


    Our spa resorts offer saunas, steam rooms and face and body therapies. They typically have good exercise facilities, a beauty salon and perhaps fitness classes and personal trainers.


     


    Zoetry resorts focus on wellness and tranquility. Guests have access to state-of-the-art fitness centers, complimentary wellness consultations and healthy gourmet cuisine made with locally grown ingredients.


     


    Enjoy your treatment outdoors at the Yhi Spa at Gran Melia Puerto Rico Golf Resort and the Miile Spa at Excellence Riviera Cancun. At El Dorado Royale in Playa del Carmen, you can book a sunrise couples massage on the beach. The spa at Secrets St. James Montego Bay provides an evening "moon and stars massage" for two near the waves.


     

  • Top All Inclusive Destinations

    9/21/2016 10:13:37 AM Link |  | Add comment

    Here are the most popular destinations for a tropical all-inclusive vacation. We have also listed three of our top-selling all-inclusive resorts in each locale -- Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico's Yucatan Coast, Mexico's Pacific Coast and Costa Rica.

    At an all-inclusive resort, accommodations, meals, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and most activities are wrapped into a single rate that you pay upfront. All-inclusives are great for people who want the resort itself to be their destination and who want to simplify meal planning and transportation after arrival. Since gratuities are included, guests don't have to worry about having cash on hand to tip the staff.

    Below are the most popular all-inclusive destinations, along with three top-sellers for each. 

    Jamaica


    Jamaica is a Caribbean playground of pristine beaches, lush forests, fertile valleys and green mountains. Most of the main tourist areas and resorts are situated along the north coast. Activities include gliding down the Martha Brae River on a bamboo raft, investigating island history at sites like the Rose Hall plantation and cooling off in Dunn's River Falls, a series of terraced cascades and lagoons.

    Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa, a 4-star retreat in Montego Bay
    ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios, a 3-star property in Ocho Rios
    Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, a 5-star no-kids resort in Montego Bay

    Dominican Republic

    The Dominican Republic is one of the most affordable resort destinations in the Caribbean, and it's a prime spot for outdoor recreation. Golfers are drawn to courses designed by legends of the game, and fishing enthusiasts compete for marlin and sailfish in tournaments. Snorkelers and divers can explore coral reefs and shipwrecks. Windsurfing and kiteboarding are popular activities as well. But many come to the Dominican Republic simply to enjoy its broad, sandy stretches -- Punta Cana has some particularly superb beaches.

    Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe, a 5-star getaway in Punta Cana
    Melia Caribe Tropical, a 5-star resort in Punta Cana
    Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana, a 5-star hotel in Punta Cana

    Mexico-Yucatan Coast


    Whether you want nonstop nightlife, white-sand beaches or beautiful nature preserves, you'll find it here. Lively Cancun offers powdery beaches alongside nightclubs and shopping venues. Many hotels can arrange daytrips to see the Mayan site of Chichen Itza, about two hours away. More resorts are located along a 60-mile stretch of coast dubbed the Riviera Maya. This region is home to Playa del Carmen, where you can visit the Xcaret eco-archaeological park and stroll the pedestrian-only section of downtown's Fifth Avenue; Cozumel, famous for its world-class diving and snorkeling; and Tulum, known for its beachfront Mayan ruins.

    Iberostar Cozumel, a 3.5-star resort in Cozumel
    Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, a 4-star property in Playa del Carmen
    Excellence Riviera Cancun, a 5-star no-kids getaway in Cancun

    Mexico-Pacific Coast

    Mexico's Pacific Coast offers plentiful recreational opportunities and many all-inclusive resorts, particularly in Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. The Los Cabos region encompasses Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. It's notable for "El Arco," a natural rock arch that serves as a gateway from the ecologically rich Sea of Cortes to the Pacific Ocean, and for its golf, fishing and shopping. Puerto Vallarta is home to a thriving arts scene, with many galleries showcasing the works of Mexican artists. Prime whale-watching season in both Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta runs from December through March.

    Hotel Riu Santa Fe, a 4.5-star hotel in Los Cabos
    Iberostar Playa Mita, a 5-star resort near Puerto Vallarta
    The Royal Suites Punta de Mita, a 5.5-star no-kids retreat near Puerto Vallarta

    Costa Rica


    Costa Rica is a haven for travelers who love nature and outdoor adventure; roughly a quarter of its territory is preserved as a national park or conservation area. Hummingbirds and butterflies hover at hibiscus flowers, howler monkeys bellow from the treetops and iguanas may bask in the sun not far from your poolside lounge chair. You can swing through forests on a zipline, take a boat ride down a wildlife-rich river or snorkel along pristine beaches. Most of our Costa Rican all-inclusive resorts are in the northwest Pacific coast province of Guanacaste.

    Hotel Riu Guanacaste, a 5-star resort in Guanacaste
    Hotel Riu Palace Costa Rica, a 5-star retreat in Guanacaste
    Dreams Las Mareas, a 5-star getaway in Guanacaste
      

  • Passports need 6 months Validity

    8/11/2016 3:55:24 PM Link |  | Add comment

    Six Months Validity Rule

    Six Months Validity RuleWhen traveling to an international destination most people know that a U.S. passports are required to enter an international destination, but what is unknown to the traveler is that some countries would need to have enough validity of passport to travel to the county which is known as the six months validity rule for visitors.

    This rule is in place so that if the un-expecting visitor needs to stay for a period up to six month his/her passport would be valid to leave the country.

    What is the 6 Months Validity Rule?

    The Six Months Validity Rule is imposed by foreign countries, and not by the United States. It simply means that your passport should be valid for more than six months before you would be allowed to enter a foreign destination. This rule is imposed by some of the countries we have listed below.

    Countries with 6 Month Validity Rules

    AlbaniaAngolaBahamas

    BahrainBelizeBolivia

    BotswanaBrazilBrunei

    Burma (Myanmar)BurundiChina

    Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)Ecuador (including Galápagos Islands)French Polynesia

    GuyanaHondurasIndonesia

    IranIraqJamaica

    KenyaKiribatiKenya

    MexicoMadagascarMalaysia

    MauritiusMozambiqueNamibia

    New CaledoniaNicaraguaOman

    PalauPapua New GuineaPhilippines

    Saudi ArabiaSingaporeSt. Lucia

    TaiwanTajikistanTanzania

    ThailandTimor-Leste (East Timor)Trinidad & Tobago

    TurkmenistanUgandaUkraine

    VenezuelaVietnamZambia 

  • 6 Brand New Resorts

    5/14/2016 9:19:31 AM Link |  | Add comment

    There's something special about vacationing at an all-new resort. Today, we will tell you about six brand-new resorts.

    Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya -- This 5-star resort offers a no-kids ambience on a white-sand beach in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. It's all-inclusive, with six specialty restaurants, a buffet venue and three pools. Golfers can enjoy complimentary green fees at the nearby Riviera Maya Golf Club. Some suites have private pools. Opened November 2015.

     

    Breathless Cabo San Lucas -- Sporting an ultra-modern design, this all-inclusive resort offers a no-kids escape with an active nightlife in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It's a 5-star spot with trendy oceanfront bars, dance parties, themed evenings and late-night gatherings at the pools with DJ music. Opened December 2015.

     

    El Dorado Seaside Suites, by Karisma -- This all-inclusive, no-kids resort is about 25 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. All rooms are oceanfront, and each has either a swim-up terrace or a balcony with an infinity pool. Perks at the 5-star property include Bali beds on the beach, 10 restaurants and the Náay Spa. Opened December 2015.

     

    Nickelodeon Hotel & Resorts Punta Cana -- Nickelodeon's first international hotel is being developed with Karisma Hotels & Resorts, known for its "gourmet inclusive" experiences. The 4.5-star, all-inclusive property in the Dominican Republic will have just over 200 rooms and four villas -- including one inspired by the "pineapple under the sea" inhabited by favorite Nick character SpongeBob Squarepants. Scheduled to open May 2016.

     

    Riu Republica -- Riu will add another no-kids retreat to its portfolio of all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Guests at the 4.5-star Riu Republica will find an array of activities and amenities, from fitness classes, snorkeling and scuba lessons to a wellness center and Italian, Asian and steak restaurants. Scheduled to open June 2016.

     

    Riu Reggae -- Next to the Riu Palace Jamaica and Riu Montego Bay in Jamaica, this all-inclusive beachfront resort will offer a no-kids setting. The 4.5-star property will have infinity pools, a spa, several restaurants and bars, a nightclub and sports like tennis, windsurfing and kayaking. Scheduled to open December 2016. 

  • Looking for a Themed River Cruise - Call us at 847 593-6700

    3/6/2015 1:50:24 PM Link |  | Add comment

    American Queen Steamboat Company operates a large selection of themed cruises on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. They focus on a variety of topics, like Southern culture, the music that developed along the rivers, gardens, Oktoberfest and Mark Twain.

    Food and wine cruises explore a region's culinary traditions, and passengers are invited to participate in tastings, food pairings, onboard cooking demonstrations and discussions with experts. Wine cruises in Europe focus on the vineyards and wineries along the Danube, Rhine, Douro, Seine, Saone and Rhone rivers, and along waterways in the Bordeaux region. Avalon and AmaWaterways have beer-tasting cruises. In the U.S., American Cruise Lines offers wine cruises in the Pacific Northwest.

    Fall foliage cruises take place along the Mississippi River, the Hudson River and other North American waterways, when riverbanks are ablaze in brilliant hues of crimson, gold and orange.

    Christmas markets cruises take in the famous outdoor holiday bazaars of Europe. You can stroll among decorated stalls that sell handcrafted ornaments, toys and woodcarvings and enjoy treats such as gingerbread, grilled sausages, roasted chestnuts, warm pretzels and mulled wine. You also can celebrate aboard a New Year's Eve river cruise.

    Tulip time cruises are in March and April, when the flower fields of the Netherlands peak in color. A highlight of these itineraries through Holland and Belgium is a visit to Keukenhof Gardens, an 80-acre park planted with more than 7 million bulbs.

    Music cruises celebrate a variety of genres. Look into the lives of composers like Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss and the Old World cities that inspired them. There are itineraries that stop in Vienne, France, during its world-renowned July jazz festival, and departures devoted to opera. Some Mississippi River cruises explore America's musical heritage, with sailings centered on bluegrass, country, the blues or the songs of Elvis. 

  
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