Go Green!

It’s easy for an organization or an individual to say they are “Going Green”.  I recycle, use incandescent light bulbs, keep my heater at 68 degrees in the winter; but, I know I could be doing more . . .

I’m going to introduce you to several organizations that truly take “Going Green” to a new level.  For those of you that strive to protect our environment (and, for those of you like me that do what you can), I hope this inspires you!

Costa Rica – Sustainable Tourism

This country is one of the leaders in balancing its overwhelming tourism with its fragile and beautiful eco-system.  To further that end, the Costa Rican Tourism Board has implemented the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program.  This program differentiates businesses of the tourism sector, based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural and social resource management.  Based upon the below criteria, a company can rate from a level of 0 to a 5.

  1. Physical-Biological Parameters: Evaluates the interaction between the company and the surrounding habitat.
  2. Infrastructure and services: Evaluates the management policies and the operation systems within the company and its infrastructure.
  3. External Clients: Evaluates the interaction of the company with its clients in terms of how much it allows and invites the client to be active contributor to the company’s policies of sustainability.
  4. Socio-economic Environment: Evaluates the interaction of the company with the local communities and the population in general.

All partners of Apple Vacations in Costa Rica participate in this Sustainable Tourism program so that the beauty of the country will be available for future generations to enjoy!

Dominican Republic – Blue Flag Beaches

The Dominican Republic boasts 11 – yes, count them – 11 Blue Flag Beaches!  What is a Blue Flag Beach?  A Blue Flag Beach is designated as such based upon strict criteria . . .

  1. Environmental Education and Information
  2. Water Quality
  3. Environmental Management
  4. Safety and Service

This rigorous criteria guarantee that you will be vacationing on one of the cleanest and safest beaches of the world!

Costa Rica – Day 4

Hello, Everyone!  Below is my final day in Costa Rica.  It’s been a fantastic adventure!  I hope that each of you has the opportunity to experience this destination for yourself!  I also encourage you to check out the various programs that Apple offers – There’s something for everyone! Pura Vida!

JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa – This EP resort is one of the newest in the area at only 15 months old.  Absolutely stunning property!  Resort features 310 beautiful rooms with flat screen TV’s.  No front desk but rather an intimate air conditioned room with three individual desks for more personalized check in/out.  Free WIFI throughout the entire property or there’s a Business Center with Internet access for a small fee.  Resort offers 2 bars, 6 restaurants, a huge wine cellar, 24 hour room service and a Catholic chapel.  Guests can golf nearby for $80 including the cart or take a class – Yoga, Dance, Pilates, Language or Cultural.  HUGE Spa – Voted by Travel Leisure as the Best and Biggest Spa in Central America!  This resort is truly a winner!

Barcelo Playa Langosta Resort & Casino – Great value!  Resort is located in the Tamarindo area.  GREAT SURFING!!!  Features 998 rooms, 5 bars, 2 restaurants (had lunch here and the food was really good), on site casino and a large theater with a different show every night.  Grounds are extremely lush.  Very nice beach (waves are pretty intense) and nice pool.  There is a surcharge for top shelf liquor.  I would say this is a great resort for anyone looking to be close to the nightlife in Tamarindo or anyone wanting to surf. Continue reading

Costa Rica – Day 3

Hola, my Friends!  Here is Day 3 . . .

Playa Hermosa Bosque del Mar Hotel / 5 Apple – I would say that this boutique resort is what Frank Lloyd Wright would have created had he built a tree house.  It’s a charmer!  Lovely open-air lobby.  Resort offers recently remodeled large junior suites decorated with a modern flare.  Features 1 restaurant and 1 bar, nice pool area with a jacuzzi and free WIFI.  Beach is quite large with lots of shade!  This resort is featured in the Deluxe option of Apple’s 7 Night “Discover Costa Rica” escorted tour.  Love it!

Excursion:

The famous Costa Rican Zip Lines – the Canopy Tour!  Arrived at the jungle area and was greeted by the English speaking operator for Congo Canopy Tours.  Headed up hill to an open air building to suit up – fitted out with a harness, gloves and hardhat.  Headed further up hill to the first platform via a suspended bridge over a beautiful river gorge.  The operators gave me easy instructions on what to expect and how to handle myself.  Then, my first jump!  WOW!  If you have never experienced this particular type of excursion, you have to add it to your bucket list!  It’s invigorating and exhilarating!  Zipping down a line at 25 miles per hour is something you will NEVER forget!  My excursion included 9 lines (one was over 900 feet long) and several more suspended bridges.  There were monkeys everywhere (probably laughing at me – HA)!  The only thing I would suggest is to remember that there is some climbing involved – not an excursion for anyone with mobility issues.  A FANTASTIC experience!!!

Host Hotel – Night 3: Continue reading

Costa Rica – Day 2

Apple Vacations offers escorted vacations to Costa Rica!  The 7 night escorted “Discover Costa Rica”  tour is one of many specialized tours created for you!  You will fly into San Jose and stay 2 nights, transfer to the Arenal area and stay for 2 nights and then transfer to the Guanacaste area to relax on the beach for the final 3 nights.  This tour includes specially selected excursions throughout!  Travelers have the option of choosing the Deluxe or Luxury version of hotels.

Arenal Nayara Hotel Boutique / 5 Apple – This resort is a component of the Deluxe version of the “Discover Costa Rica” tour.  The resort boasts beautiful views of the Arenal Volcano and the surrounding countryside.  This little jewel features 44 suites and rooms nestled in a tropical jungle paradise.  Apple clients will receive the Deluxe Casita Suite that features an indoor/outdoor shower, jacuzzi, hammock on the balcony,  iPod docking station, and DVD player with free movies.  Heated pool with pool bar and pool cocktail tables.  One open air restaurant and bar, free WIFI, free International calling and a mountainside spa!  There’s even a state-of-the art Wine Bar available for guests to sample the 32 different varieties of wines from around the world!  I sampled the 2004 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay – Tasty!  Lots of walking up and down hills.  Wonderful property! Continue reading

Costa Rica – Day 1

lirGreetings from Costa Rica! Or, as they say here – “Pura Vida” – Pure Life!

Getting Here:
Flew from Philadelphia direct to San Jose via Atlanta on Delta. Was met outside of Baggage Claim by a Swiss Tours representative who “tagged me” with a Swiss Tours badge. Customs/Immigrations was super fast and very easy in this very modern and air-conditioned airport. My air-conditioned transfer bus was waiting as soon as I stepped outside.

The Transfer:
Got the opportunity to see a bit of San Jose. This capital city offers everything you’d expect of a big city – many cultural attractions, lots of dining and great nightlife! The transfer to the Arenal area (about 3 hours) went by quickly as my guide gave me some great background information on Costa Rica while we drove through stunning vistas of misty mountains, valleys, sugar cane and coffee plantations. I have arrived in the “Green” season – end of April through the beginning of December. The weather is cooler and wetter. Stopped at a local place on the way called El Jardin (about an hour into the transfer) for a great lunch with the locals! Continue reading

The Value of Apple’s AVOK!

I was speaking with one of my Travel Agent partners recently and the conversation turned to Apple’s AVOK – our vacation protection.  The travel agent had clients who declined to purchase Apple’s AVOK for their upcoming vacation.  The travel agent explained the importance of not only having the ability to cancel the vacation in case of an emergency but also the protection that AVOK provides while the client is in destination in case of a medical emergency.  Still, the clients declined.

The clients departed on vacation and were having a wonderful time until about midway through their stay.  One of the passengers had a heart attack.  Of course, she was rushed to the hospital for treatment.  Finally, a week and thousands of dollars later, she was released to go home.  Not only were the clients responsible for medical bills but also the additional nights that they had to stay and the flight home.

Bottom line is that all told the clients were responsible for over $16,000 additional out of pocket!  So, when you do the math that great vacation value of $1000 per person for a week inclusive wound up costing $9,000 per person!  For a minimal investment of $49 to $99 per person, the burden of those additional expenses would have been the responsibility of the insurance company!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $16,000 lying around.  Of course, no one wants to think that something bad may happen but there is always the unforeseen to consider!  Protect yourself and your bank account!

Hotels in Cancun’s Riviera Maya

Recently, our Philadelphia Sales Manager, James Reese, visited Cancun’s Riviera Maya.  Here are a few of the hotels he visited…

Gran Bahia Principe Coba – This resort has full exchange privileges throughout the Bahia complex in Riviera Maya!  1080 Spanish themed Junior Suites with mini bar.  Apple Vacations clients receive preferred check in and buffet!  Fantastic shopping plaza located in the complex!  Shuttle service runs constantly throughout the resort.  This section of the resort offers 1 Buffet and 3 a la carte restaurants with more options available throughout the complex!  This resort has something to offer for everyone!

Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa – A resort with two distinct personalities!  You can choose between the newer Junior Suite rooms or the traditional Hacienda rooms – Both unique and full of character!  This resort boasts 431 rooms, 7 restaurants, 7 bars and even a Catholic chapel!  No dining restrictions or reservations are required!  Top shelf liquor and American beer!  Phenomenal Explorer’s Club for children, a magnificent Spa and convention facilities.  Enjoy a stroll through the lush landscaping on your way to see a movie on the beach!  Guests can walk almost two miles of unspoiled beach to view Mexico’s ancient past!  When booking with Apple Vacations, non-stop transfers are automatically included!

BlueBay Grand Esmeralda – Located on a beautiful stretch of beach, this resort offers 979 rooms, 6 enormous a la carte restaurants, 1 buffet and 3 bars with pool service.  This resort features a large open air theatre with a different show every night, a complimentary gym and 24 hour room service.  Also offers a concierge and elevators in every building.  Lovely beach – very shallow and crystal clear with an abundance of shade and a fantastic view of Cozumel in the distance!