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The Secrets of Mexican Wine

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The Secrets of Mexican Wine

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The Secrets of Mexican Wine

Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe region, just southeast of Tijuana, has been producing wine for more than 100 years – but you may have never heard of it.

The Mediterranean-like climate makes it ideal for growing grapes, and winemakers there are experimenting with wine grape varietals in a way that’s just not possible in the world’s bigger wine regions. Combine that with the fact that Mexican wine isn’t widely available in the U.S., and you’ve got a real secret on your hands.

For Jean Pierre Sorin, the general manager of Secrets The Vine in Cancun, wine has always been a big part of his life. He grew up in France, where his parents owned a vineyard, and came to Mexico in 2000. In the beginning of his time there, like many people outside of Mexico, he was surprised to learn about Mexico’s wine production. And now, you won’t find anyone more passionate about it than him. He does, after all, manage AMResorts’ most wine-centered property.

“Our wine cellar is incorporated into the life of our hotel,” he says. The 4,500-bottle wine cellar sits prominently in the heart of the lobby with a gorgeous wood table just waiting to host a wine tasting or pairing dinner.


Courtesy of AMResorts

The wine cellar features wines from all over the world, but the main country represented there is, you guessed it, Mexico. “I think it’s important to showcase Mexico’s wines a little more than those from other countries,” says Sorin. “Not only because we’re proud of it, but because the production of Mexican wine is very small and unfortunately not widely exported.”

It really is unfortunate that wines from Mexico are not easily available outside of the country because the winemakers in Mexico are incredibly innovative and take advantage of the creative liberties they’re afforded. “In France, it’s stricter about where you can and can’t plant certain types of varietals. Obviously some of that is based on the type of soil and the type of climate,” Sorin says. He says that the Mexican winemakers enjoy a bit more freedom in that and therefore plant different varietals in many different areas, “which is something completely unusual in the world of winemaking,” according to Sorin.

The allure of Mexican wine is starting to attract some big names. In 2017, Wine Spectator magazine awarded three of the restaurants at Secrets The Vine the Best of Award of Excellence, giving it two out of three wine glasses and making the resort the only establishment in Cancun with this recognition. And last year, renowned American winemaker Paul Hobbs came to Secrets The Vine for a pairing dinner – a really exciting event for the resort and its guests.

The Baja California wine region is bursting in popularity and production, and the innovative spirit of Mexican winemaking is spreading to other parts of the country. “We’re now finding some vineyards in the north near Ciudad Juarez, on the border of Texas, which is a completely different climate – very cold in winter, which works for some grapes and not others,” Sorin says.

This creativity is what drives the inventive nature of Mexico’s winemakers, inspiring travelers to think outside of the wine region box. “It’s not impossible to grow wines in other regions,” Sorin says. “You just have to try.”

Originally appeared in the spring 2020 issue of The Compass Magazine.

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4 Caribbean Dishes Worth Traveling For

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4 Caribbean Dishes Worth Traveling For

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4 Caribbean Dishes Worth Traveling For

The Caribbean is famous for many things. Sun, sand and surf come to mind, but these island destinations are also a hot spot for something you can really sink your teeth into: mouth-watering local dishes. Foodies rejoice, we’ve crafted a list of some of the most delicious dishes throughout the Caribbean so, put away the travel maps and start thinking with your stomach.

Aruba – funchi

Funchi is an Aruban staple. This side dish consists of cornmeal cooked in water, butter and salt. Legend has it funchi was stirred by old-time cooks throughout the centuries while repeating the words, “un pai mi, un pa bo, un pe.” One for me, one for you, one for him. Often referred to as Aruba’s polenta, funchi is boiled until almost completely stiff and served with soups and stews.  The dish is customizable and can be tweaked by the chef to be served sweet or savory.

Bahamas – cracked conch

Did you know you can eat conch (pronounced konk) meat? As entertaining as it is to hold a conch shell to your ear and “hear the ocean,” these mysterious mollusks are much better suited as a meal. Cracked conch is pounded, breaded and fried similar to a cutlet of meat. After the conch meat is sizzled to perfection it’s often paired with Creole sauce, a red, vegetable-based sauce, popular to Bahamian cuisine.

Cayman Islands – cassava cake (heavy cake)

 If things get better with age, cassava cake is on the brink of perfection. The recipe for this flavorful dessert began as a happy accident over 200 years ago. Rumor has it that an unknown 19th century chef was attempting to make sweet cassava porridge but got a little distracted in the process. Over time the cassava cake became a local Cayman Island favorite, so much so that many refer to it as the unofficial national dessert. At this point you must be asking, “so, what’s this thing made of?” Traditional cassava cake is made with shredded cassava, coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla and cornstarch. The result is a dense, moist cake with a gooey chew. It’s best experienced with a visit to the Cayman Islands for their annual Taste of Cayman Food and Wine Festival.

Cuba – medinoche sandwich

You’ve heard of the El Cubano (Cuban sandwich), no doubt, but the island is home to another, allegedly tastier, sandwich that’s almost exactly identical: the medinoche. Roast pork, Swiss cheese, ham and pickles, the medinoche is made with the exact same ingredients as a Cubano. So what’s the difference? It’s all in the bread. This popular sandwich is made using a soft, egg-based roll versus the harder, lard-based bread used in a Cubano. While swapping one type of bread for another may sound minimal, locals insist the medinoche has the Cubano beat. 

Let your travelers’ stomachs make the reservations next time they’re planning a Caribbean adventure with you. Food and fun go hand-in-hand with these amazing destinations.

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Treat Yourself to a Romantic Retreat

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Treat Yourself to a Romantic Retreat

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Treat Yourself to a Romantic Retreat

Secrets Resorts & Spas, part of the AMResorts collection, takes all-inclusive to another level.

These adult-only properties are both relaxing and filled with amenities. Known as the Unlimited-Luxury experience, guests staying at Secrets Resorts & Spas get to enjoy oceanfront views, elegant rooms, 24-hour room service, among many other things.

Visitors will find out what gourmet dining means when they indulge in the many restaurants offered on the properties, and they’ll enjoy unlimited premium beverages as well.

The Secrets Spa by Pevonia provides guests with several spa treatments to choose from, whether it’s hydrotherapy or a massage or facial.

From private beaches and swimming pools to lively entertainment and parties, there’s always something fun going on at these resorts. Guests can choose to join in on all the festivities or do nothing but kick back and relax with loved ones.

All of the properties deliver a retreat that’s both romantic and relaxing.

Visit the Secrets Resorts & Spas blog to learn more.

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Finding Relaxation at Breathless Resorts

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Finding Relaxation at Breathless Resorts

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Finding Relaxation at Breathless Resorts

Los Cabos, Cancun, Punta Cana and Montego Bay are all wonderful destinations for a vacation, and Breathless Resorts has a property in each one. Known for their adult-only atmospheres, delicious cuisine and endless entertainment, these resorts offer “unlimited luxury for the socially sophisticated adult.”

In addition to the activities and entertainment, though, these resorts help travelers to find the much-needed relaxation and rejuvenation they long for in a vacation. Guests can find several quiet areas around the properties to enjoy a peaceful time alone, and the staff is always available to assist with anything needed to make the stay more relaxing.

Travelers can kick back and spend time by the pool or on the beach listening to the waves crash in while sipping on their favorite refreshing beverage.

For the highest level of relaxation, visitors can plan to spend a day—or at least a few hours—at the spa. Say goodbye to stress and sore muscles by indulging in a relaxing massage or facial treatment. The resorts offer more than 30 treatments and therapies.

In addition to spending time in the spa, guests can also use the fitness centers conveniently located on the properties. Keep up with your own workout routine with the treadmills and weights available or join in on the classes at the resort during your stay.

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7 Top U.S. Hotels on VAX for Summer Travel

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7 Top U.S. Hotels on VAX for Summer Travel

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7 Top U.S. Hotels on VAX for Summer Travel

Warm weather is just around the corner and these popular U.S. hotels are ready to accommodate travelers’ sizzling summer travels. Whether it’s exploring the bustling streets of Manhattan, enjoying a screamin’ good time at a Universal theme park or going birding in Hawaii, these hotels are the hot places to be amongst agents on VAX.

1. MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

In-room Wi-Fi, fully stocked minibars and enhanced housekeeping – there’s a reason the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino is one of the most popular hotels on the Vegas strip. Something that sets the MGM Grand apart from the rest of the fabulous hotels in the area is their specialized wellness rooms. Each wellness room comes equipped with an air purification device, aromatherapy, dawn simulating alarm clock and a Stay Well Shower Infuser. Of course another perk offered by this famous hotel & casino is the on-site entertainment including acts from Cirque du Soleil and the Naked Magicians.

2. Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, Surfside Inn and Suites, Orlando

Opening in June 2019, Universal’s Surfside Inn and Suites is the perfect spot for vacationers to kick back and enjoy the summer heat without breaking the bank. That’s right, Surfside Inn and Suites will be Universal’s most affordable property, making it a great lodging option for families of all sizes. The property will feature a relaxed and easy vibe with a colorful surf theme woven throughout each room. Guests can also look forward to tasty on-site food options including a full-service food court, a pool-side bar, coffee shops and pizza delivered directly to visitors’ doors.

3. Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Miami

A modern hotel located in the heart of Miami, the Fontainebleau brings travelers a unique mix of contemporary art, music, fashion and technology. Visitors can enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze and the breathtaking views this beachfront resort has to offer or they can relax indoors with HD TVs, cozy cotton robes and an in-room private bar. Of course it wouldn’t be a night out in Miami without visiting a few clubs. Luckily, Fontainebleau has three energetic venues on-site: the Live Nightclub, Bleaulive and the Bleau Bar, to satisfy every type of party animal.

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4. Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, Honolulu

Boasting the widest stretch of beach in the island of Waikiki, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is a favorite among island visitors year-round. In addition to having the perfect spot for visitors to soak up some sun, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort also offers unique experiences like Camp Penguin, the resort’s children’s program; a wide array of local wildlife and art as the resort is home to over 60 species of exotic birds, waterfowl, turtles and fish; and the Waikiki Starlight Luau, an extravagant on-site luau showcasing authentic Hawaiian dining and dance.

5. Universal’s Aventura Hotel, Orlando

Looking for the best place to stay during a Universal Orlando vacation? Well, look no further than the ever-stylish Universal Aventura Hotel. The Aventura is within walking distance of Universal’s Volcano Bay and features fantastic views of all three Universal Orlando theme parks. In addition to theme park convenience, guests who stay here are also offered exclusive park benefits and free transportation throughout the destination. One unique perk the Aventura Hotel offers is a pool-side fire pit where travelers can spend the evening recalling the day’s adventures and planning what’s next for tomorrow.

6. Wyndham, New Orleans

Travelers won’t stray far from the action at this snazzy hotel situated at New Orleans’ bustling crossroads of Royal and Canal Streets. Visitors can enjoy fresh made beignets at Café Beignet just two blocks away, make the short trek to Jackson Square or kick back and enjoy some good tunes at the House of Blues New Orleans a few minutes east. After a long day of exploring the city’s major attractions travelers can return to the Wyndham and enjoy the French Quarter’s only indoor heated hotel pool. Transportation is easy too, as visitors can make use of the Wyndham’s on-site valet parking or opt to travel via historic streetcar right outside the hotel doors.

7. Riu Plaza, New York Times Square

Take any trip to the Big Apple to the next level with a stay at the fabulous Riu Plaza New York Times Square Hotel. Nestled in the heart of Manhattan, Riu stands out above the rest with five-star amenities, cutting edge design and luxurious on-site dining and entertainment.  Due to this hotel’s great location it’s recommended that travelers take a few days to explore nearby attractions such as Central Park, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall and the fine shopping on Fifth Avenue. After visiting all the hot stops in Manhattan travelers can hop on the city’s main subway lines for even more NYC fun.

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6 All-Inclusive Sustainable Resorts in Mexico

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6 All-Inclusive Sustainable Resorts in Mexico

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6 All-Inclusive Sustainable Resorts in Mexico

You want it all, but you don’t want it to come at the expense of the environment. We get you. And so does Mexico. They’ve been in the eco-friendly game for years, so there’s no shortage of sustainable resorts to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort by Karisma

You might come for the breathtaking views of the Riviera Maya or the luxury of the Gourmet Inclusive® experience, but either way El Dorado Royale’s Passion for Sustainability program means you can feel good about living the good life. The program ensures that hotel operations follow Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria and both local and national regulations. Plus, the resort’s Green Team manages water, flora, fauna, energy usage, and waste to minimize the property’s impact on the environment as much as possible. Did we mention the resort has a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ greenhouse farm that provides fourteen tons of vegetables per month?

2. Iberostar Playa Mita

This Green Globe Certified gem on Mexico’s west coast is the perfect place to kick back in the breeze. The resort’s Think Green program is all about sustainability. Take that refreshing shower you enjoy at the end of a relaxing day on the beach or the golf course for example. You can thank the sun. And the resort’s forward-thinking to heat half their hot water with solar energy. Extending their care to the ocean, the resort developed a sea turtle conservation program and participates in the International Coastal Cleanup—tidying up miles of public beach.

3. Royalton Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

Since opening in 2014, this luxe resort has made it a priority to be an all-star of sustainability by rigorously recycling, utilizing solar energy, and composting right on site. They’ve managed to keep over three tons of waste out of local landfills, so, even though it’s a pretty big deal, it’s no surprise they’ve been awarded the Travelife Gold certification. To clean up the air, they’ve developed a tree-planting program. Which should help you sleep pretty dang good at night. That, and their DreamBeds™.

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4. Hotel Xcaret Mexico

This sleek, nature-inspired resort isn’t in Riviera Maya. It is Riviera Maya. Rivers wind through the lush grounds. Secret coves wait to be discovered. The beach is pure bliss. Hotel Xcaret Mexico blends perfectly into the already perfect Riviera Maya landscape. So even though they’ve only been open since December 2017, they’re already top-dog of sustainable Mexico resorts. A little proof? Not only is it the first resort in Mexico to receive the first EarthCheck Certification in Planning and Design, it’s the first resort in the Americas to receive the certification—they’ve met EarthCheck’s standards before, during, and after construction. And it doesn’t hurt that they grow over 130,000 plants native to southeast Mexico each year for reforestation in and around the Xcaret eco-archaeological parks.

5. Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort

 

The AMResorts Collection has 25 of their resorts certified with the Rainforest Alliance. Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort is the latest property to join the certification. In order for a company to be certified, they must follow several key principles: Sustainable management planning, quality management, human resource management and a food and beverage safety program. They have implemented Earth Day celebrations, beach clean-ups, on-site recycling to limit excess water, and more to fulfill the certification’s standards. Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort is also certified by Travelife Gold.

6. Sandos Caracol Eco Resort

 

Swim in a cenote, go on a birdwatching tour, plant a tree—and feel great about it all because this all-natural, all-inclusive hideaway is Travelife Gold certified. Recycling, water conservation, environmental education, organic gardening, composting, and caring for endemic flora in their on-site nursery is all part of a day’s work for Sandos Caracol Eco Resort. In their Royal Elite rooms, the water is heated by solar cells and you definitely won’t find any plastic water bottles around. But don’t worry. They hook you up with drinking water from refillable jugs.

Turns out you can pamper yourself and have a positive impact on the environment at the same time. Plan your all-inclusive, eco-friendly getaway today.

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The 8 Most-Popular Costa Rican Hotels on VAX

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The 8 Most-Popular Costa Rican Hotels on VAX

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The 8 Most-Popular Costa Rican Hotels on VAX

Gorgeous beaches, vibrant rainforests and dramatic volcanoes await in the fabulous sunny getaway that is Costa Rica. Here are a few Costa Rica hotels and resorts VAX agents love for their travelers to enjoy as they check this exciting destination off their bucket list.

  1. Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica

    dreams las mareas costa rica

    Travelers can live in unlimited luxury at the Dreams Las Mareas. Situated in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, this fabulous resort is on the outskirts of luscious green jungles and mountaintops with a palm-studded beachfront view. Dreams Las Mareas welcomes travelers of all ages and is popular for its on-site watersports, live entertainment and outdoor bars and lounges. Families traveling with little ones can take advantage of the hotel’s Explorer’s Club, a fully supervised children’s program with tons of fun activities, or the Core Zone, a trendy teen-focused group with nightly social events, mixers and discos.

  2. Riu Guanacaste

    couple dining outside at Riu Guanacaste

    Located on Costa Rica’s west coast in the region of Guanacaste, the Riu Guanacaste is in a prime location for beach bodies, ocean enthusiasts and fans of ecotourism. This resort takes pride in its ability to guarantee travelers maximum well-being during their stay with its on-site freshwater swimming pool, Jacuzzi, gym, sauna, beauty treatments and massages from the Renova Spa. As an all-inclusive resort, guests staying at the Riu Guanacaste have their pick of a wide variety of quality cuisine prepared by expert chefs at each of the hotel’s buffets and themed restaurants. The Riu Guanacaste is also perfect for business travelers as it boasts five fully equipped conference rooms for all your business needs.

  3. Riu Palace Costa Rica

    woman on a balcony at riu palace costa rica

    Also located in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste region, the Riu Palace Costa Rica sits on the edge of the beach of Matapalo. The Riu Palace Costa Rica offers a variety of beachside activities such as diving and fishing in the Pacific waters. This region of Costa Rica is also well-known for its volcanos and abundant greenery and travelers can catch a ride with one of the several ecotourism companies that stop at the Riu Palace to pick travelers up for guided adventure excursions. This resort is all inclusive and travelers can enjoy the on-site buffet or the four different themed restaurants around the hotel.

  4. Secrets Papagayo

    room at secrets papagayo

    Just a short 20-minute drive from the Liberia International Airport, Secrets Papagayo is nestled along Guanacaste’s breathtaking Papagayo Peninsula. Secrets Papagayo is an adults-only resort with a romantic atmosphere for travelers looking for their own private getaway. The hotel offers 24-hour dining and bar options, some of which even have themed parties. Those looking to live on the wild side will be happy to find that Secrets Papagayo is just minutes from Coco Beach, one of Guanacaste’s top spots for nightlife.

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5. Planet Hollywood Beach Resort

view of pool and planet hollywood beach resort

Costa Rica’s only hotel with authentic Hollywood memorabilia, at Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, everyone vacations like a star. Planet Hollywood is happy to offer what they refer to as “Star Class,” an A-list club where travelers are treated to exclusive amenities and extraordinary service such as access to specialty clubs, bars and events and complimentary access to the on-site hydrotherapy pool. Guests won’t have to worry about living off the map while on vaycay either with Planet Hollywood’s “Plugged-In” philosophy. Just log in to the resort Wi-Fi and download the PH Mobile App for resort maps, free calls to North America and Europe and info on daily events and activities.

6. The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal

lobby at the westin golf resort and spa

Where exotic forests and pristine beaches meet, the Westin Golf Resort & Spa is a secluded resort in Costa Rica’s North Pacific Riviera. Totaling 2,400 acres, the Westin Golf Resort & Spa has lots to offer including a lagoon-style pool, a WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio, championship golf and even tennis courts. The hotel is also near tons of local attractions including a number of national parks and other popular beaches. As implied in its name, the Westin Golf Resort & Spa is the choice hotel for golf enthusiasts, boasting a challenging 18-hole course. Teeing off in beautiful Costa Rica is a memory travelers won’t be soon to forget.

7. Occidental Papagayo

restaurant at occidental papagayo

Travelers will love the spacious and bright rooms at the Occidental Papagayo, a fantastic 5-star hotel owned by the Barceló Hotel Group on Costa Rica’s west coast. After a long day of kicking back at the pool or exploring in the jungle, travelers can relax in the resort’s beautiful outdoor gardens and enjoy local flora and fauna. The Occidental Papagayo also offers luxury dining options with superb views; travelers can choose from two international a la carte restaurants, a fully-stocked buffet and a nifty snack bar. Once vacation comes to an end, visitors can rest easy knowing they can hop on the resort’s excellent transportation service ensuring travelers’ commute back to the airport is stress-free.

8. Occidental Tamarindo

view of pool and ocean at occidental tamarindo

Surfers, explorers and honeymooners alike will find the Occidental Tamarindo in Guanacaste to be the perfect spot to stay during their Costa Rican adventure. The combination of secluded white-sand beach and exotic surrounding vegetation makes for the perfect backdrop to every sunset. The Occidental Tamarindo has something for travelers of all kinds with local tours, an on-site golf course and even a beauty parlor. Animal lovers will want to visit nearby Marino las Baulas National Park where the majestic Leatherback turtles come to shore to lay their eggs each year.

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5 Resorts Family Bloggers Love

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5 Resorts Family Bloggers Love

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5 Resorts Family Bloggers Love

Need some travel inspiration for your next family vacation? One of the best places to get it is Instagram – the social media platform is so visual, it makes it easy to really see what a resort or destination looks like. And now, family bloggers are expanding their reach to Instagram to supplement their blog posts with stunning photos. Read on to see six family bloggers’ recent vacations and the family-friendly resorts they chose.

1. Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real

Top Flight Family, a family of four living in New York, travels to some pretty incredible destinations like Dubai and Hong Kong, and even though they have “luxury” in their handle, they hit up some more attainable destinations, too. Think Montego Bay, Aruba and Cancun. They recently stayed at Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real in Punta Cana and took full advantage of the water park, kids’ club and dining options (the resort has nine restuarants!).

2. Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina

The family behind The Traveling Child has created a delightful Instagram account full of the happiest smiles you’ve ever seen. And of course their kids would be happy when they get to stay at super fun resorts like Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina in Fort Myers! The property is huge (12 acres!) and surrounded by nature, with Matanza Pass (a protected natural area) on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. What makes this resort perfect for families is the choice of studios as well as one- and two-bedroom accommodations. The Traveling Child loved the resort’s movie nights with free popcorn and fun activities like scavenger hunts and crafts during the day.

3. Iberostar Selection Paraiso Maya

The Jetsetting Family truly lives up to their name, having visited Vietnam, Australia, Malaysia and more with their two little ones. But they don’t always travel far and recently visited Iberostar Selection Paraiso Maya in Playa del Carmen. The resort has the only wave pool in the Riviera Maya along with an exact replica of Chichen Itza and an amazing lazy river, which the Jetsetting Family took full advantage of in their visit.

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4. Encore Las Vegas

Yes, Vegas can be family-friendly. Nadia of the funwithmama Instagram account stayed at the sister resort of Wynn Las Vegas with her family of four and never ran out of things to do. Even the city’s transition from day to night is enough to captivate kids. Need more convincing? Check out the #vegaswithkids hashtag.

5. Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Kelly and Aaron of the No Man Before travel and adventure blog recently had somewhat of a staycation on California’s Mission Bay at this lovely California retreat. There are plenty of room choices, including bungalows. The resort is a great fit for families, with a kids-only swimming pool (plus four other pools to choose from), a lagoon with a sandy beach area and a mini golf course. Plus it’s a 5-minute drive to SeaWorld Sand Diego.

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5 Must-See Caribbean Beaches

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5 Must-See Caribbean Beaches

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5 Must-See Caribbean Beaches

Forget the failed Fyre Festival. The Caribbean has so much more going for it, like these five must-see Caribbean beaches.

1. Cabarete’s Kite Beach

Watersports like kite surfing and boarding, windsurfing, and paddle surfing thrive at this beach. Whether you’re a pro “kiter” or attending kite boarding lessons on the beach, the atmosphere at Cabarete’s Kite Beach in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic welcomes all. Planet Ware ranked it No. 7 on their list of top-rated beaches in the Dominican Republic. Feel strong eastern Atlantic winds during the day and fall asleep to calm, crashing waves at night. It’s perfect for small groups or solo travelers looking to meet people. It’s crowded during the day with onlookers mesmerized by the colorful kites in the sky and gnarly waves washing along the clean and crisp coast.

2. Flamenco Beach

Laid-back vacation vibes get better when you’re island-hopping. After imbibing piña coladas, fly or take a ferry boat to Flamenco Beach next. Culebra, a small Spanish Virgin Island off the Northeast coast of Puerto Rico, measures 7 miles by 4 miles. Shallow, vibrant and color-changing waters promote chromotherapy, aka color therapy, for every visitor. It’s a perfect playground for honeymooners and families seeking an off-the-grid experience. In addition to winning the Blue Flag award for contributing to a more sustainable coastal future, it made it on Coastal Living’s Top 10 beaches in the Caribbean list.  

3. Grace Bay Beach

Grace Bay Beach, located in Providenciales along the Northeast coast of Turks and Caicos, is a nature-lover’s paradise. Go parasailing or stroll along 12 miles of sandy shores and you’ll notice that rocks, seaweed and pollution are barely there, just like the waves. Once famous for the third-largest barrier reef, this beach took No. 1 in 2018 and 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards from TripAdvisor. It’s located in Princess Alexandra Land and Sea National Park where visitors discover a thriving ecosystem filled with bottlenose dolphins, iguanas, turtles, tropical fish and nearly 60 coral species.

4.Playa Norte

To feel a real bohemian atmosphere next time you’re in Cancun, take a 20-minute ferry ride to Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres. Seafood is sold on every corner of the 5-mile-long island and locals are bicycling or walking everywhere, which creates the ultimate beach vibe. TripAdvisor reviews say relaxing at Playa Norte is No. 1 on the list of things to do in Isla Mujeres. Some say the turquoise sea is as calm as a lake, which makes sense as to why Tortuga Granja (a turtle sanctuary) is so successful there.

5.Seven Mile Beach

Sunsets in Negril are stunning, but the star attraction is the Seven Mile Beach. Despite the name, it’s closer to 5 miles, but don’t worry about a thing because there’s plenty of space and golden sand for everyone. From snorkeling and scuba diving to cliff jumping or soaking up the hot Jamaican sun, this beach is a Caribbean wonderland. Since it ranked No. 8 in 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards from TripAdvisor, there’s no doubt behind it being defined as an “ideal tropical paradise.”

Do you have any favorite Caribbean beaches? Let us know in the comments below!

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20 Delicious Experiences That Should be on Every Foodie’s Bucket List

BRAVEHEROES Travel

20 Delicious Experiences That Should be on Every Foodie’s Bucket List

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20 Delicious Experiences That Should be on Every Foodie’s Bucket List

Do you love food so much that you would literally travel… for food? You’re not alone. There’s nothing we love more than eating our way through a destination. So much so that we have an epic range of Real Food Adventure trips all around the world. To celebrate them, we’ve collated a definitive list of must-have foodie experiences. They’re a little different, they’re culturally immersive, and they’re all available on our food trips.

Enjoy drooling…then start booking!

1. Harvest farm-fresh vegetables and make a traditional gozleme (Turkish stuffed flatbread)

Where: Bodrum, Turkey
Trip: Turkey Real Food Adventure, day 4

2. Bake Macedonian pastries in a village cooking class

Where: Janche, Macedonia
Trip: The Balkans Real Food Adventure, day 7

3. Indulge in a vegan street food breakfast in Delhi

Where: Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India
Trip: India Vegan Food Adventure, day 2

4. Join a traditional Japanese tea ceremony

Where: Kyoto, Japan
Trip: Japan Real Food Adventure, day 11

5. Make Moroccan salad at a cooking school that empowers underprivileged women

Where: Marrakech, Morocco
Trip: Morocco Real Food Adventure, day 11

6.Tour Phnom Penh’s markets with a local chef

Where: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Trip: Cambodia Real Food Adventure, day 4

7. Sit down to a home-cooked meal (with vodka!) with a family in St Petersburg

Where: St Petersburg, Russia
Trip: Russia Real Food Adventure, day 2

8. Try the real KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) paired with maekju (Korean beer)

Where: Seoul, South Korea
Trip: South Korea Real Food Adventure, day 1

9. Learn all things coffee on a local Peruvian farmstay

Where: Coffee farmstay, near Huayopata, Peru
Trip: Peru Real Food Adventure, day 6

10. Visit a tahini factory and learn how to make knafeh (a traditional Arab dessert)

Where: Nablus, West Bank, Palestinian Territories
Trip: Israel & the Palestinian Territories Real Food Adventure, day 5

Brave Heroes Members Only Have Access to Cheap Flights & Hotels

We are part of the family own and operated by first responders. A percentage of our sales allows us to support other first responders and military organisations. We provide a 100% free membership to Fire Fighters, EMT s, Police Officers, Military families and employees of qualifying non-profits.​

11. Enjoy Iranian cooking at a local family’s home

Where: Yazd, Iran
Trip: Iran Real Food Adventure, day 5

12. Enjoy Vietnamese home-cooking with a local family in the Mekong Delta

Where: Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Trip: Vietnam Real Food Adventure, day 10

13. Make pasta from scratch like a local in Italy

Where: Bologna, Italy
Trip: Italy Real Food Adventure, day 3

14. Explore the local farms and cooking of Rajasthan

Where: Bijaipur, India
Trip: India Real Food Adventure, day 7

15. Learn the art of khachapuri, Georgia’s irresistible cheese bread

Where: Tbilisi, Georgia
Trip: Armenia and Georgia Real Food Adventure, day 9

16. Harvest your own spring onions to make Taiwan’s iconic scallion pancake

Where: Yilan, Taiwan
Trip: Taiwan Real Food Adventure, day 6

17. Sample port in… you guessed it… Porto

Where: Porto, Portugal
Trip: Portugal Real Food Adventure featuring Galicia, day 3

18. Browse a Sri Lankan fish market for the freshest seafood around

Where: Negombo, Sri Lanka
Trip: Sri Lanka Real Food Adventure, day 2

19. Dive into spicy Szechuan hotpot like a local

Where: Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Trip: China Real Food Adventure, day 1

20. Take a taco (and tequila!) crawl in Mexico City

Where: Mexico City, Mexico
Trip: Mexico Real Food Adventure, day 1

Ready to dive straight in to the culinary adventure of a lifetime? Check out Intrepid’s range of tasty food trips. 

Save with exclusive discounts only available for BraveHeroes Members!

BraveHeroes Agents have access to many exclusive travel resources that are offering special discounts to First Responders and Military Families. our Agents will find the best deal from Available resources and share the itinerary through e-mail.