Friday, July 28, 2017

Crystal Unveils New ‘Getaways’ For 2017 Ocean And River Sailings #Cruise

Crystal is expanding its numerous options for travelers seeking to explore the world in award-winning luxury, as the company unveils brand new “Crystal Getaways” for both Crystal Cruises and Crystal River Cruises. The Crystal Getaways – which span the globe to include the British Isles, Western Europe, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe along the Rhine River – are shortened itineraries of existing longer voyages, allowing travelers to experience Crystal’s celebrated luxury with less commitment of time and additional savings.
“Luxury travelers continue to seek unparalleled service, amenities and experiences when they explore the world, even with limited time,” says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez. “Crystal Getaways allow travelers to enjoy a standard of luxury, excellence and unforgettable adventures, without stressing their calendars – while also realizing tremendous savings on the all-inclusive Crystal Experience.”
In all, 17 abbreviated Crystal Getaways have been added to Crystal’s 2017 roster of worldwide voyages, exploring the lush islands of the Seychelles, the UNESCO-recognized wine country of Bordeaux, the grandeur and innovation of the United Arab Emirates, the coast of the Cape of Good Hope, and the sparkling Christmas markets of Germany, Austria and Hungary. The 2017 Getaways include:
Crystal Cruises
• August 13, Honfleur to Liverpool, 5 days, Crystal Symphony
• August 18, Liverpool to London/Dover, 6 days, Crystal 
• August 25, London/Dover to Bordeaux, 6 days, Crystal Symphony
• August 31, Bordeaux to Lisbon, 6 days, Crystal Symphony
• November 22, Dubai to Abu Dhabi, 4 days, Crystal Symphony
• November 26, Abu Dhabi to Port Louis, 13 days, Crystal Symphony
• December 1, Mahé/Victoria to Port Louis, 8 days, Crystal Symphony
• December 6, Fort Lauderdale to Barbados/Bridgetown, 8 days, Crystal Serenity
• December 9, Port Louis to Maputo, 7 days, Crystal Symphony
• December 14, Barbados/Bridgetown to Charleston, 6 days, Crystal Serenity
• December 16, Maputo to Cape Town, 6 days, Crystal Symphony
Crystal River Cruises
• November 17, Amsterdam to Nuremberg, 7 days, Crystal Mahler
• November 24, Nuremberg to Budapest, 9 days, Crystal Mahler
• December 3, Budapest to Nuremberg, 9 days, Crystal Mahler
• December 12, Nuremberg to Amsterdam, 7 days, Crystal Mahler
• December 19, Amsterdam to Nuremberg, 7 days, Crystal Mahler
• December 26, Nuremberg to Budapest, 9 days, Crystal Mahler

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Antigua And Barbuda Sign Agreement With Airbnb #Airbnb

Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Director of Tourism, Canada, Colin Skerritt, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Walton Aubrey Webson, Minister Michael, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Director of Tourism, US, Kim Jack Riley, Mr. Sullivan, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, CEO, Colin James.
The Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, and Airbnb have signed an agreement to help drive diversified and sustainable tourism to the islands and begin dialogue about a framework for taxation on accommodation. This is intended to assist hosts to be able to pay accommodation taxes through the platform and contribute with their local community and government, as has been the case in over 275 jurisdictions around the world. The platform has been consistently collaborating with several Governments in the Caribbean, as well as the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), as the region acknowledges the growing importance of home sharing in the local economy and for residents to participate in the bounty of tourism.
“Today is an important step in further strengthening the tourism industry in Antigua and Barbuda by signing this partnership with Airbnb. The tourism and services industry is continually evolving, and Airbnb is the largest game changer in the accommodation sector. By working with them, we will ensure that Antigua and Barbuda is interacting with the full spectrum of visitors,” said the Honorable Asot A. Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy at the signing.
“We are proud to work with Antigua and Barbuda to assist in the creation of new economic opportunities for the local economy and offer genuine experiences for travelers. Our joint efforts will highlight the culture, heritage and hospitality of local residents,” said Shawn Sullivan, Airbnb’s Public Policy lead for Central America and the Caribbean.
In Antigua and Barbuda, there are over 500 active listings listed on the Airbnb platform and a typical host has annual earnings of about USD $ 5,700. The number of guest arrivals to the islands in the last 12 months has grown by 53%, and groups tend to stay about six nights.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts Named The Dominican Republic's Hotel Chain of the Year #GoDomRep


Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia

With the highest hotel capacity in the Dominican Republic, Bahia Principe’s diverse, value-driven properties set the stage for a variety of experiences

 The Dominican Association of Tour Operators (ADOTUR) and Dominican Republic’s Popular Bank have named Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts 2017’s Hotel Chain of the Year.  The leader in all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts captures the Dominican Republic’s idyllic appeal and offers more accommodation options in the country than any other hotel brand.

Since the debut of Grand Bahia Principe San Juan in 1995, the Bahia Principe brand has flourished in the island country. Today, the Dominican Republic is home to 14 Bahia Principe properties and over 7,000 rooms. Each offers upscale, yet approachable, accommodations with opportunities for excitement and relaxation, appealing to travelers from all walks of life seeking singular resort experiences including: adults-only, multi-generational, off-the-beaten-path, health-centric or lively. With Bahia Principe, there’s truly something for everyone with a presence in Samaná, La Romana, Rio San Juan and an expansive seven-property complex in Punta Cana.

“Bahia Principe is honored to be recognized for our ability to provide guests with singular experiences based on their budget, interests and needs,” said Helen Montijano, VP of Sales & Marketing for the U.S. and Canada. “With more than two decades of experience providing all-inclusive vacations in the Caribbean, the brand understands that every guest is different and has worked tirelessly to create a portfolio of hotels that offers travelers the opportunity to experience happiness in a way that is aligned with their specific desires.”

There is a reason Samaná is considered one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. The peninsula offers unique must-experience natural sites like Los Haitises National Park featuring a wondrous display of Dominican flora and fauna and Salto del Limon, a cascading waterfall regarded as one of the country’s most alluring sites. For health-conscious travelers seeking a balanced vacation Luxury Bahia Principe Samaná offers everything needed to relax, refresh and feel rejuvenated. This adults-only boutique property features the brand’s exclusive WE Wellness Experience. Based on three pillars, We-Care, We-Balance and We-Train, the program combines wellness, cosmetic treatments and sports activities to enhance the travel experience including activities such as Zen Yoga, meditative sessions, anti-stress coaching and athletic activities with a certified trainer. With only 149 rooms, guests enjoy an exclusive experience and personalized service.  

For families, Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo has the best of Samaná. The resort’s Family Junior Suite and Family Master Suite accommodations offer the opportunity to stay connected on vacation with extra amenities for younger travelers including bath kits and a specialized minibar with juices, shakes, milk and soft drinks. Families who want a more exclusive experience can opt for Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa. Nestled on the opposite side of the peninsula, the property offers plenty of opportunities for enjoyment and outdoor adventure within a more intimate and peaceful atmosphere. 

For guests who seek luxury and seclusion: the one-hotel island Cayo Levantado is home to the brand’s hidden treasure resort. Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado is Samaná’s most upscale hotel with only 268 rooms. Guests here can enjoy serenity by the property’s two private beaches or by taking in the exquisite natural surroundings of beachfront Villa Playa accommodations that feature a balcony or terrace with hammock and outdoor whirlpool.

La Romana
Halfway between the capital city of Santo Domingo and the tourist mecca Punta Cana, La Romana is charming and serene, with attractions like Altos de Chavon, a colonial village with cobbled streets, and Isla Catalina, a SCUBA diving hotspot.

The brand’s La Romana complex features two resorts: Grand Bahia Principe La Romana, is ideal for families with a pool designated for kids and dedicated activities. The adults-only Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville, is a quaint, colonial oasis with luxury perks like butler services and access to the brand’s La Romana Golf Club, a 27-hole executive course at Playa Nueva Romana, including an executive par 3, 9-hole course which will open in August. It´s the perfect choice for golf enthusiasts.

Rio San Juan (Puerto Plata)
Located on the northern coast, Rio San Juan’s Playa Grande and Playa Preciosa beaches are a favorite among surfers. Grand Bahia Principe San Juan, the brand’s first paradise, offers the perfect formula for enjoying the essence of the Caribbean with a one-mile private beach made for unwinding in style.

Punta Cana
Just as perfect for family bonding as it is for alone time with a significant other, Punta Cana personifies the ultimate Caribbean escape. Bahia Principe’s newest resort in its Bavaro complex, Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia, offers activities and amenities where multi-generational groups don’t have to leave the property to enjoy a comprehensive vacation experience. Younger travelers will be fascinated by the fairytale castle in the center of the property and adults will be hard-pressed not to let out their inner child. 

Four additional family-friendly properties located in Punta Cana include Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda with prime beachfront accommodations, Grand Bahia Principe Bavaro and Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana, the brand’s largest properties featuring 744 and 756 rooms, respectively, and Grand Bahia Principe Turquesa, home to a sprawling waterpark and a unique kid’s spa.

The brand also offers adults-only accommodations in Bavaro for those who prefer a more intimate setting. Aptly named, Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Blue is situated on the destination’s beautiful azure waters and Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Green faces its lush gardens.

No matter which property guests choose, they’re able to see, hear, taste and feel the Bahia Principe difference: a commitment to placing the guest’s needs above all else.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Spain Road Trip: San Sebastián To Valencia

Guggenheim Museum
Basque in glory … Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. Photograph: Gonzalo Azumendi/Getty Images

San Sebastián (or Donostia in Basque) is one of the most elegant coastal towns on the Iberian peninsula. It’s also a mecca for foodies, with more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than anywhere in the world except Kyoto. For a town with fewer than 200,000 inhabitants, it has a lot to offer. Install yourself in Hotel Niza(doubles from €85 room only) and take a walk along the seafront to the Peine del Viento (Comb of the Wind), a sculpture by local artist Eduardo Chillida. There’s an open-air sculpture park dedicated to his work in the nearby town of Hernani.Eat standing up in any of the pintxo bars in the old town – Gandarias (fish main from €14, Kalea 31 de Agosto) is especially good – or take a five-minute trip on the tiny ferry across the mouth of the river from Pasaia to San Juan and dine at Txulotxo(five courses from €35) which does superb fish and seafood with a view out to sea. The San Sebastián area also boasts some of the best surf in Europe, and you can hire everything you need along the seafront or at the resort town of Zarautz about 10km west of the city.
On day three head to Bilbao and Frank Gehry’s spectacular Guggenheim Museum. It’s only an hour by motorway but if you have the time, pick up the coast road about 25km west of San Sebastián and enjoy Basque cuisine at family-run Restaurante Egaña (menu of the day €12) in the port of Lekeitio. Carry on to Bilbao via the lush mountains of the Balcón de Bizkaia. There’s a fine collection of Spanish art in the nearby Museo de Bellas Artes. Check in to the Iturrienea Ostatua Hotel (doubles from €75 room-only). Meat lovers shouldn’t miss a chuletón (T-bone steak) at Asador Ibañez a 10-minute walk away on Calle Ibanez de Bilbao. For something more sophisticated, try Cascanueces, slightly further away at Heros Kalea 21, which, as well as traditional dishes, offers adventurous fare such as a tataki of red tuna or monkfish with wild rice.
San Sebastian.
 San Sebastián. Photograph: Getty Images
Head south and follow the Ebro river from Miranda del Ebro to Haro, the heart of La Rioja. After a night in Los Agustinos (doubles from €72 room-only), a converted 14th-century convent, take the N232 along the Camino de Santiagopilgrim route (although in the wrong direction) and stop at Frank Gehry’s extraordinary remodelling of the Marqués de Riscal winery (tasting €12.00pp). Visit to the winery and tasting of 2 wines)at El Ciego before heading to Logroñowhere, in the early 17th century, the Inquisition interrogated 7,000 suspected witches. Check in to elegant Hotel Marqués de Vallejo (doubles from €70). Dine almost anywhere along Calle Laurel and you won’t go far wrong, but if you like barbecued beef and lamb head straight for Asador El Muro, five minutes’ walk from the hotel.
The Frank Gehry-designed hotel at the Marques de Riscal winery.
 The Frank Gehry-designed hotel at the Marques de Riscal winery. Photograph: Getty Images
Stock up on Rioja in Logroño before setting off on day six. Have lunch in the Plaza Mayor in Estella at either Bar Astarriaga or Restaurante La Cepa and then carry on through rolling farmland to Pamplona, capital of the ancient kingdom of Navarre and famous for the running of the bulls in the second week of July. Stay a couple of nights at Hotel Europa (doubles from €87 room-only), which has a one-star Michelin restaurant if you’re feeling flush. Otherwise, pintxos here are just as good as in San Sebastián, especially in Bar Gaucho on Espoz y Mina. Pamplona specialities are smoky piquillo peppers sold in jars or tins and patxaran, a liqueur made from sloes.
 Olite and the royal palace of Charles III Photograph: Asunción Idoate Iribarren/Getty Images
Day eight takes you 44km south to Olite, where Charles III of Navarre built his architecturally random palace. After a night in the modest Hotel Merindad de Olite (doubles from €58 room-only), which is built into the Roman wall, leave behind the green of Navarre and head for Zaragoza and the harsher terrain of Aragón. Once a Muslim city-state and one of Spain’s oldest settlements, the city is now a sprawl, but the old town boasts the (Christian-Arab) mudéjar-style Aljafería Palace and the colossal Basilica del Pilar on the banks of the Ebro, which is where you’ll find the Hotel Don Jaime 54 (doubles from €45) just off Plaza del Seo.
Tombs at the Mausoleum of the Lovers, Teruel.
 Tombs at the Mausoleum of the Lovers, Teruel. Photograph: Alamy
On day 10, the road to Teruel runs across a stark landscape to the heart of España profunda, the Spain of heat and dust and castles and endless internecine wars. Its outstanding mudéjar buildings are testament to Teruel’s glorious past but in recent times its citizens have felt so neglected they launched a campaign under the slogan “Teruel exists”. At the time there was only one major road to it, and it is still the only town of any size in Spain without a direct rail link to Madrid. The town has its own bull run in July, called the Vaquilla del Ángel, produces some of Spain’s finest jamón, and is home to Dinopolis, one of the world’s largest dinosaur museums. Romantics should also visit the Mausoleum of the Lovers, a memorial to an unrequited 13th-century love affair. Treat yourself to a couple of nights in the Parador de Teruel (doubles from €90), a mansion built in imitation mudéjar style, which is just out of town and en route to your next destination.
 Albarracín Photograph: Emma Lee/Getty Images
Albarracín stands high on a hill above a meander of the Guadalaviar and is so inaccessible it would have been easy to defend back in medieval times. Even so, in the days when it was an Arab fiefdom, it was enclosed in a crenellated wall. Spend part of day 13 wandering the steep, narrow streets of this extraordinary town perched amid rocky, mountainous terrain.
The journey ends on the shores of the Mediterranean in Valencia, Spain’s third city, and the capital of paella. Visit the aquarium (€22) and Santiago Calatrava’s Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències .
A paella pan store in Valencia, Spain
 A paella pan store in Valencia, Spain Photograph: Alamy
No two Valencianos will agree on what constitutes the perfect paella but many of them recommend Casa Carmela on the seafront. The restaurant has been serving paella in the traditional way, in a big paellera in the middle of the table, since 1922 and is prized for its paellas’ soccorat, the crunchy crust of rice at the bottom of the pan.
Total distance: 732km
 Iberia flies to San Sebastián from Luton. Ryanair flies to Biarritz and easyJet flies to Biarritz and Bilbao (both about an hour’s drive away) from Gatwick and Stansted. Valencia is served by British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair from London airports. Ryanair also flies from Glasgow to Valencia.