#BeachThursday – Top 5 Dreamy Beaches

A common question I hear at Apple Vacations – Where is the best beach?

Sit back, relax and imagine warm, tropical breezes tickling your skin as I take you on a tour of the Top 5 Dreamy Beaches to go to on an Apple Vacation!

1. Bavaro Beach - Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Named one of the top ten beaches in the world by National Geographic, Bavaro Beach is an immense stretch of beautiful white sand beach, dotted with swaying tropical palms and bordering along warm turquoise waters. Bavaro boasts a majestic coral reef for diving and other water activities.

Photo Credit: Apple Vacations - Bavaro Beach - Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

 

2. Playa de Los Muertos – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta‘s golden beaches and indigo waters invite carefree bayside relaxation. The famous Playa de Los Muertos (“Dead Man’s Beach”) is named for a legendary story that this stretch of sand was a hub of pirate activity during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Photo Credit: Apple Vacations - Playa del los Muertos - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

 

3. Waikiki Beach – Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki is most famous for its beaches. With Diamond Head as your backdrop, the calm waters of Waikiki are perfect for a surfing lesson.

Photo Credit: Apple Vacations - Waikiki Beach - Oahu, Hawaii

 

4. Maroma Beach – Riviera Maya, Mexico

Often nominated as one of the best beaches in the world, Maroma Beach is Mexico’s most exclusive beach hideaway. Determined to preserve its ecological balance, Maroma is a world away from the Yucatan hot spots’ hustle and bustle. Set against 500-acres of lush jungle, the beach is a pristine stretch of sand slipping in the calm turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

Photo Credit: Apple Vacations - Maroma Beach - Riviera Maya, Mexico

 

5. Playa Tamarindo – Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Located in the northwest of the country on the Pacific side, Guanacaste is known for its beautiful beaches, incredible bird watching, excellent surfing and superb snorkeling.

Photo Credit: Apple Vacations - Playa Tamarindo - Guanacaste, Costa Rica

 

 

Let’s Get Personal – Apple Vacations Tradeshow 2012

 

I was invited to go to the Apple Vacations Trade Show that took place in Chicago on September 11, 2012.  It was my first time at the annual travel extravaganza and I was in store for a big treat. For travel agents that haven’t had a chance to go yet, I highly recommend it, there’s so much to learn!

Picking up a Golden Apple Award

Let me start with rough agenda, the day broken into a few parts:

  • The Golden Apple Awards Luncheon
  • Followed by the #AVTS13 trade show – this year’s theme – Let’s Get Personal
  • Finished up with the Crystal Apple Awards presentation at the end of the night

It’s a jammed packed day of travel news, travel agents, and travel talk!

 

The Golden Apple Awards are given to the top hotels in Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii. For those of you that don’t know, the Golden Apple Awards are given to individual hotels based on achieving high levels of excellence for their staff and service. I was lucky enough to sit at table with a couple of our beloved social media brand advocates who were tweeting updates during the whole day using #AVTS13 to keep the industry up to date in real time as awards were announced. I really enjoyed the key note speaker, Arnie Weissmann, the editor in chief of Travel Weekly. He gave an interesting and impactful speech of how the Travel Agent is back and better than ever. Golden Apple Awards were picked up at their tables, pictures were taken with Jeff Mullen, President of Apple Vacations and then we hit the trade show floor!

Apple Vacations Tradeshow 2012 - Let's Get Personal

 

Apple Vacations Tradeshow 2012 - Social Media Content Sharing

WOW! In no time the tradeshow was packed with at least a thousand travel agents and Apple team members alike. This year’s theme is “Let’s Get Personal”, and Apple made that more apparent than ever this year.  With representatives from over 100 hotels, airlines and tourism boards, travel agents had a chance to meet new contacts and say “Hi” to familiar faces.  Don’t forget, it’s also another learning opportunity to see “What’s New” with Apple Vacations for 2012-2013. I overheard travel agents being particularly happy to be among the first to pick up a supply of our 2013 Catalogs.

 

Tim Mullen, President Apple Vacations, announcing Crystal Apple Awards 2012

 

Finally, at the end of the day, the Crystal Apple Awards were announced by Tim Mullen, President of Apple Vacations. The Crystal Apple Awards are among the most coveted honors in the travel industry, chosen by hundred of thousands of Apple Vacationers who complete our Vacation Satisfaction Questionnaires. The final award given out was Destination of the Year, presented to Riviera Nayarit. We definitely want to congratulation all our 2012 Crystal Apple Award Winners!Click Here to see the Best of the Best–> http://applev.ac/QFYO0p

 

A note to Travel Agents:

We offer convenient tradeshows and seminars on a regional basis. Many of our events are by invitation only, so if you don’t see opportunities in your area below, be sure to contact your local Apple Vacations Sales Manager for more information.

Costa Rica Travel Tips – (Part 2)

View of Arenal Volcano from Nayara Resort

Welcome to Part 2 of my inspiring trip through the Rain Forests of Costa Rica.

We enjoyed a very relaxing stay at the beautiful Nayara Hotel, Spa and Gardens.  The hotel is a destination in its self – gorgeous gardens and numerous birds, kept us busy snapping photos and a spectacular view of Arenal Volcano from every veranda.  One morning, we spent a few hours on the veranda just listening to the sound of the rain and the sights in the rain forest – it was one of the most relaxing moments in my life.

We left La Fortuna and headed north to Tenorio Volcano National Park.  This park is home to the Celeste River waterfall and the beautiful blue waters created by various minerals from the volcanoes.  We hiked for several hours and enjoyed a picnic lunch at the water’s edge – pure heaven.   Our last night was spent at Celeste Mountain Lodge. Respecting the environment, the owners have created a unique and comfortable eco-lodge with many recycled materials. A nice way to end an amazing week.

Other valuable Tips:

  • While driving around Costa Rica, be sure to experience one of the many “sodas”.  This is a family owned restaurant, offering local dishes and a real local experience.  Prices are usually very moderate.
  • Pack plenty of sun screen, bug spray and a rain jacket.
  • Pack your camera and a big memory card and the battery charger or extra batteries.  You will find yourself taking lots of pictures.  Keep a zip lock bag handy to keep your camera dry during hikes to waterfalls or the general moisture in the rain forest.

Our week had come to an end and no one wanted to go home, but we all agreed, we would come back soon.  A special thank you to Swiss Travel for making our journey so special – opening our eyes to nature and showing us the beauty in the smallest things – Pura Vida! I think that Costa Rica has something for everyone from eco-tourists looking for adventure, to couples desiring a romantic beach getaway, to families seeking fun-filled days. It’s no wonder why so many people visit Costa Rica!

Costa Rica Travel Tips – (Part 1)

I just returned from an amazing week in Costa Rica with friends, it was one of my best vacations in recent years. Costa Rica has so much to offer, whether you are looking to relax or take on a new adventure

Keel billed Toucans - sited on the road to Monteverde

We started our week with two nights in Monteverde. The drive from Liberia takes you through beautiful, green meadows with grazing cattle and higher into the mountains you pass coffee plants hugging the hillsides. If you are lucky, as we were, you will view several varieties of birds, including colorful toucans. The small town of Monteverde is casual with a variety of restaurants and accommodations. Tip – be sure to sample the local ice cream, the cows are known to have sweeter milk that makes it delicious.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve provided us with a full morning of hiking in the most peaceful setting imaginable. We saw a variety of plants and birds and an amazing view at the Continental Divide. The overall beauty is just hard to put into words. Our afternoon was spent walking the hanging bridges in Monteverde. This experience gives you a chance to see the forest from the top looking down. Tip – be sure to pack your binoculars, it’s the best way to see the birds and monkeys.

Trail in the Monteverde Cloud Forest

For the next four nights, our journey continued with a drive around Lake Arenal to the town of La Fortuna. This is the center of activity for visitors to the Arenal Volcano. Tip – Don RuFino in downtown La Fortuna is an excellent place for lunch or dinner – atmosphere is casual but the food is elegant.

In the Arenal area, we enjoyed a variety of activities including:

Bird watching – we did a special hike in El Silencio Reserve. Tip – get up early to see the birds when they are active, we started our hike at 6:00am. Over the course of 7 days, we saw 45 different types of birds, including hummingbirds, toucans, Montezuma Oropendola, woodpeckers, Collard Aracari, Emerald Toucanet, Swallowtail Kite, Rufous Motmot, just to name a few.

Zip lining – you can’t go to Costa Rica without doing at least one zip line adventure. Not only did we have the thrill of zipping over the rain forest but we saw Spider monkeys and a variety of birds.

Rappelling through waterfalls in the Arenal area - yes this is me

Rappelling through waterfalls –as if jumping backwards off a ledge isn’t enough, imagine doing it through 5 waterfalls in the mountains of Costa Rica surrounded by the beautiful rain forest. This was my first experience at rappelling and that first 165 foot drop was a blast!

Arenal Hanging Bridges – this reserve has 17 bridges with great bird and monkey viewing opportunities, waterfalls and the lush rain forest.

La Fortuna waterfall – this spectacular 210 foot waterfall is worth the hike down to – Tip – be sure to wear your swimsuit, the water is cold but swimming at the base of the waterfall is memorable.

Thanks for reading the first part about my fabulous trip to Costa Rica and I hope you’ve enjoyed all the little tips throughout my journey. Stay tuned for more Costa Rica Travel Tips!

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