The 5 things I LOVED about Dreams Puerto Aventuras

Tulum, Mexico

As told by Liz Bondelid, Apple Vacations E-Commerce Merchandising Coordinator

When March rolls around, it seems like it’s time for the brutal cold to start letting up. Philadelphia had other plans, with snow days and wind chills in the first week of March this year. Leaving my coat behind as I left for the airport, I wondered what it felt like to be warm again. By the end of the day, I had sand in my toes, saltwater in my hair, and a margarita in hand.

From beginning to end, I was blown away by everything I encountered at Dreams Puerto Aventuras – and no, I never mentioned to anyone that I work for Apple! If I have to narrow it down, let me give you a taste of my favorite things there.

Continue reading

TRAVEL TIPS TO ENJOY YOUR APPLE VACATION TO CANCUN!

Phancation Logo

 

I cannot count the number of times I have been on an Apple Vacation. Each one has been unique and memorable. I can’t wait to add my trip to Riviera Maya this January to the list.  I will be on an Apple Vacation to Now Sapphire Rivera Cancun for the Phancation!

If you have never been to Cancun, here are my top 10 tips to have a successful trip.

1 – Get to the airport early.  For international flights, you should be there at least 2 hours prior to departure. I am always one of the first people to check-in.  You are never sorry you arrived early, but you could be sorry if you arrive late and miss the flight!

2 – Don’t forget your VALID passport.  Also, it must be valid for 6 months from the date of travel.  You will be denied boarding if you do not present this at check-in.

3 – Don’t forget the sunscreen. This is not the Jersey shore and the sun is STRONG! Apply frequently.  Missing a day of vacation because you are stuck in the room nursing sunburn is just not fun!

4 – Pack wisely.   Don’t pack too much and make sure you pack a carry on or easily accessible bag so you can hit the ground running and start your vacation! Most hotels have a check-in time of 3:00PM. However, flights usually arrive in the morning.  Expect that your room will NOT be ready when you arrive. Have a bag ready with a swimsuit or something to change into, so you can start your vacation right away.  Changing-rooms will be available and the bell man will hold your bags. Also, restaurants will be open for lunch. Resort maps will be available so you can explore and enjoy the property.

5 – Pack valuables such as jewelry, electronics and important medications in your carry on.   Then, leave them in the in-room safe when you arrive in resort.

6 – U.S. currency is widely accepted in Mexico. I, however, always do bring small bills in the form of $1’s and $5’s. This is beneficial when you make a purchase so you are not receiving too much change in pesos. Also, when you want to tip, you have small bills available. Tipping is included in the package price, but if I receive exceptional service, I tend to tip the waiters or drivers when appropriate.

7 – Don’t eat anything on vacation that would make you sick at home.  Whenever and wherever you travel, your system may react to new foods or drinks introduced.  To prevent any problems, I tend to be pro-active rather than re-active. I eat yogurt (Activia) the week before I travel.  I also make sure I have any over the counter medications with me in case I need them.

8 – Stay hydrated. Bottled water is readily available at the resort and included.

9 – Wear appropriate footwear. Hotels in Mexico & The Caribbean do not have carpet. Because of the climate, they are marble and tiled.  Be careful when near the pool or in the lobby or your room especially if there has been rain!

10 – Turn your Smart phone data off (to airplane mode) and make sure you check with your carrier on any charges you could incur if you use your phone in Mexico. Texting is usually very expensive.  My carrier has a minimal charge to use my iPhone in resort, but I have to sign up for it before I leave (and turn it off when I get back).  When I am in resort, I tend to use my iPad and communicate with family via the computer for FREE.

Puerto Vallarta – Enhance the Experience

Puerto Vallarta has become a hugely popular international vacation destination.  Somehow, it magically combines all that is wonderful about Mexico; its people, its diverse cultures and architecture, its sheer beauty and its food and drink! From the bustling old village to the plush resorts of Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta has so much to offer. So when I visited last September, I knew I was going to have a lot of “MUST- DO” activities.  Without question I knew I was going to the Malecon. I wanted to take a walk on the cobblestone streets and visit the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe that is on nearly every post card from Puerto Vallarta.  I made a promise to myself that I would really embrace this destination and get out of the resort. I usually opt for the infinity pool or nice spot on the beach under a palapa. Not this time – I booked 3 excursions during my 4 day trip. (Plus a spa treatment at Pevonia while I was at Secrets Vallarta Bay).

Small Fishing town

Sayulita – Small Fishing & Surf town

My first excursion was to a fishing town on the coast of Puerto Vallarta/Riviera Nayarit/Nuevo Vallarta. We drove alongside the Banderas Bay, the Sierra Madre Mountains and arrived in Sayulita. It’s a laidback seaside surfer town. While walking around I saw tortillas being made from scratch for fresh fish tacos, visited a shop with some majorly cool Day of the Dead gear and had a piña colada on the beach while I watched blue-green waves crash in front of me.  Excursion #1, success!

 

Turtle Release

Turtle Release in Puerto Vallarta

It’s not just tourists that like the beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Sea turtles love them, too. I couldn’t wait to check out the Turtle Release at Dreams Villamagna Resort & Spa – Here’s how it worked…. A staff member explained how to handle the turtles with care. Everyone lined up parallel to the ocean and was instructed to walk 3 feet toward the water. Everyone was to release their turtle and step back to watch. It was hard not to smile as everyone observed these tiny turtles make their landmark journey to the sea. Excursion #2, success!

 

For my last excursion, I really got out of my comfort zone! I swallowed my fears and tried to brace myself for what I just agreed to with the Canopy Tour – Ziplining!  I could handle riding a mule back up the hill, it was getting down the hill on a metal wire that was freaking me out! O.M.G. I was so nervous, excited and filled with adrenaline at the same time.

Puerto Vallarta Ziplining

Puerto Vallarta Ziplining

“fly through a thrilling series of zip-lines, rappel down waterfalls, traverse jungle bridges and finally splash through streams and natural river pools. With some of Mexico’s highest and longest zip-lines, at almost 1,000 ft long and 250 ft high, it’s no wonder we call it one the greatest adventures on earth.” -Amstardmc.com

I still can’t believe I actually went through with it! But I have proof. Excursion #3, success!

Needless to say – I LOVE PUERTO VALLARTA. I highly recommend going and I can’t wait to go back. But please take my advice; get out of the resort and experience all of what this destination has to offer!

Dream Wedding

When you picture your dream wedding, what do you envision? Do images of crystal clear waters, soft white sand, and a tropical paradise come to mind? If so, then Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa is perfect for your special day! One of Apple Vacations Destination Weddings’ most revered resorts and November’s “Destination of the Month,” Dreams Riviera has it all.

Photo Credit: Dreams Riviera Cancun

Photo Credit: Dreams Riviera Cancun

Nestled in the secluded Riviera Maya, Dreams Riviera incorporates the best of both worlds. Its prime location makes it especially attractive for both younger couples and families. Half an hour away from Cancun yet minutes away from Playa del Carmen, this resort is within close proximity of the area’s best attractions and landmarks. Tropical gardens, a beach setting suitable for a photo shoot, and limitless activities combine to create a truly unique and magical destination wedding experience. Looking for a quiet evening with your new spouse? Take a walk to the on-site spa for ultimate relaxation. Want to head out for a night on the town? Enjoy the many authentic waterfront restaurants, bars, and shops. Theme parties, live entertainment, nightclubs, euro-bungee jumping, an ocean trampoline, yoga, cooking and dance lessons, Spanish lessons, bocce ball, ocean kayaking, and tennis are just a few of the activities at your fingertips when staying at Dreams Riviera.

Photo Credit: Dreams Riviera Cancun

Photo Credit: Dreams Riviera Cancun

When it comes to reciting your vows, Dreams Riviera has it covered. Whether you want to gaze into your lover’s eyes and say “I do” on the beach at sunset or in a lavishly decorated and extravagant indoor venue, your wedding is sure to be memorable. Make a statement and provide your guests with a vacation and wedding they are never going to forget.

Your day is special—Apple Vacations Destination Weddings and the Dreams Riviera Cancun resort are here to make sure your wedding runs smoothly and stress-free. Book with us today!

Photo Credit: Dreams Riviera Cancun

Photo Credit: Dreams Riviera Cancun

‘Dia de los Muertos’ is a grand celebration of life itself!

The Day of the Dead is otherwise known as ‘Dia de los Muertos’ or ‘All Soul’s Day’ and can be traced back for thousands of years. This day is held to honor and remember family members and relatives who have passed away. During the day on November 1st and 2nd, people gather together to pray for lost loved ones. Altars are created to honor the dead and gifts are taken to the graves of the departed. The essence of this beautiful ritual is to lovingly and happily remember the dead relatives, their life, and in this way, give meaning and continuity to human existence. Here are some great places in Mexico that really embrace the Day of the Dead tradition:

Mural from Secrets Hualtuco Photo Credit: Stephanie Diehl, Travel Designed

Mural from Secrets Hualtuco Photo Credit: Stephanie Diehl, Travel Designed

1. Huatulco

Huatulco is one of Mexico’s newest and very unique tourism development areas. The state of Oaxaca has a rich cultural history and guests of Huatulco can take full advantage of interesting opportunities to experience some of Mexico’s charm. Although the Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico, Oaxaca has become known for the ornately richness of its celebrations.  The festivities begin a week before November 1st with the commencement of the “Plaza de los Muertos”, an elaborate initiation held in each city market, and a contest is held to judge the best of the city’s ofrendas.

 

2. Cancun & Riviera Maya

Marketing department at Apple Vacations

Traditional Day of the Dead Face Painting – Photo Credit: Jeff Farinosi

Xcaret is normally a hybrid action-eco-archeological-adventure park about an hour south of Cancun. From October 31-November 2, it transforms into an all out Day of the Dead celebration a.k.a. the Xcaret, “Life and Death Traditions Festival”. For those that really want to embrace the culture, complimentary face painting stands are set up through the park.

 

3. Los Cabos

Encompassing the two towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Lose Cabo, The Day of the Dead Festival is a key festival in Los Cabos throughout the Mexico. Families and loved ones pay their respects by creating spectacular altars that are elaborately decorated with photos, candles and food offerings. The altars are then displayed in the towns main square of Plaza Amelia Wilkes, where the best decorated alter is granted a prize.

 

Dia de Los Muertos skulls - Photo Credit: Travel Designed, Stephanie Dieh

Dia de Los Muertos skulls – Photo Credit: Travel Designed, Stephanie Diehl

4. Puerto Vallarta

There’s plenty to do in Puerto Vallarta to feed your adventurous spirit. Often called the “crown jewel” of the Riviera Nayarit, Sayulita, a small fishing town located just 35 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, has become a popular destination. The roots of Mexican culture are deep and complex, as is evident even in a place seemingly as simple as Sayulita: once a fishing and farming pueblo, now a magical, compelling tourist destination. Sayulitans set up alters around town to honor the deceased and there are lovely masses held in the cemetery.

 

5. Ixtapa Zihuatanejo

A varierty of learning opportunities await you in and around Ixtapa for those who enjoy experiencing the real destination behind the resort.  Ixtapa Zihuatanejo hosts a complete festival with lectures about the tradition, photographic exhibitions, traditional dance and music.  Building “altars” with flowers and tokens of the deceased is part of the tradition.  Local vendors will compete for the “Best Altar.” Activities start at the Zihuatanejo Bay with lighting of the area.

Have you visited Mexico for Day of the Dead? Where did you stay?  Feel free to share your comments and stories about your experiences with Day of the Dead traditions in the comments. Or continue this conversation on our facebook page!

Special Thanks to Travel Designed by Stephanie for letting us use her great photographs!

Secrets The Vine – Best Resort Hands Down in Cancun!

As told by Erin Miller, Apple Vacations Business Development Specialist

My Husband and and I were really excited to get away with some of our close friends. Since we were only going for a short stay we had to be a little picky about where we were going to stay. I mean, who wants to spend their vacation being transferred from airport to hotel and vice versa?!

Here was our criteria:

Adults-Only – Check

Close to Airport – Check

Beautiful Beach – Check

Delicious Gourmet Food – Check

Tropical Libations – Check

Where did we end up?

Secrets The Vine. Here’s my quick review our fabulous trip to Cancun, Mexico.

The overall ambiance is impressive. When we arrived in the main hotel lobby, I looked all the way up at this massive glass building in front of me, and I thought to myself, WOW! The chic atmosphere and upscale décor was so unique, I could tell I was going to like it here.

The infinity pools and the beautiful white sand beach was just what we needed. The super attentive wait service was incredibly welcoming and they were always right there if we needed something. My personal favorite restaurant was the Blue Water Grill. In particular, I recommend the Ahi Tuna, just scrumptious!  All the restaurants were great. In fact we were eating so much we wanted to hit up the gym. I was blown away with the view yet again. The gym is on the 12th floor and has a breathtaking ocean view. What a nice distraction to look out at beautiful blue waves crashing onto the white sand while working out!

The accommodations were pretty fancy too! Our room was very spacious and contemporary. Our room had a great view of the Marina and the Ocean. Two beautiful views in one room!

One night, we ventured downtown to visit Coco Bongo Cancun for some fun and excitement. It was just a little five minute bus ride from the hotel. Super convenient!

I have to admit, we really had an amazing time and we can’t wait to go back!

Unlimited Luxury for All

As told by Jeff Farinosi, Senior Graphic Designer

I have a SECRET to tell you NOW (whispering): you can call me AMResorts’ #1 groupie. The past 5 trips I’ve taken were all at Secrets and NOW Resorts if that tells you something! During my travels I’ve been in relationships and have also been FREE (happily divorced) in others! Besides my relationship status changing, my love for AMResorts has not.secretsbanner

Most people would throw a label on Secrets Resorts as being mostly catered for couples and romance. That is far from the truth. They are wide open and friendly to any type of human being or group of people. Whether a Dolce & Gabbana cologne-doused metrosexual or a gun-rack-in-the-back-of-your-pick-up-truck redneck, you’ll see all sorts or personalities sharing and enjoying the public areas together, whether it’s the lobby or the swim-up bar. I ought to know since I accompanied the metrosexual, the redneck and his wife on a few of my trips! At the end of the trip, all of them wanted more with no complaints.

So when selling the Secrets brand, I say go for it and describe that the resorts cater to all and not just the ones deeply in love. There are plenty of opportunities to get romantic and the resorts are overall quiet when compared to the kid-friendly resorts. But there’s never a feeling of being a “third wheel” when staying at a Secrets Resort & Spa.

nowbanner