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.

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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!

Honeymoon Planning – Help!

Aloha Juice Readers!

 Hawaii

It’s been quite some time since my last post, but it’s good to be back.  I haven’t been lounging beachside, I’ve been off planning a wedding.  Thus far things have been pretty easygoing – not too much stress.  That was, until it came time for the honeymoon.

I know, of all things to stress about, the honeymoon?  I work for a travel company.  This should be a cinch right?  Wrong!  The number one question I have been asked this entire time is, “where are you going on your honeymoon”?  This is supposed to be THE trip.  The trip of a LIFETIME. That’s some pretty serious pressure.

So, after some serious back-and-forthing, we’ve made just a few decisions:

Now what?

Maui, Hawaii

Readers, this is where you come in.  Tell us what you think!  Any Honeymooning words of wisdom?  Where did you go? Have you been to Hawaii?  Can you offer a recommended “must see”?

As the trip gets closer, you’ll be able to following along with our planning, and your recommendations will become our reality!  And who knows, maybe we’ll drop you a few postcards along the way.

Mahalo for your help!

Shannon

 

The Big  Island

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.

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Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta & Now Amber Puerto Vallarta

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Secrets Vallarta Bay

Everyone wants to tell us about Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta & Now Amber Puerto Vallarta. Both Resorts have so much to offer and are Apple employee favorites!  James Reese, our Philadelphia Regional Sales Manager just returned and here is his review for you!

Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta & Now Amber Puerto Vallarta are both beautiful 6 Golden Apple Resorts.  They are “sister resorts” separated by a lush, landscaped knoll that runs from the main building to the ocean. 

The rooms at each resort are warm and inviting. All have a coffee maker, laptop size safe, in-room Jacuzzi tub, DVD player, iPod docking station, stocked mini fridge, Secrets Box and Incredible Views. Of course, the standard 24-hour room service, no restrictions or reservations for dining and no wrist bands. 

The beach is a little bit rocky but the pools more than make up for that! 

From The Secrets Resorts side, some may expect to hear families from the Now Resorts side – NOT SO!  Both sides are perfectly defined and each offers its own unique pool settings.

Secrets offers Bali Beds throughout the pool area. Both resorts have ample pool side lounge chairs.  Between the two, there are  9 Restaurants and 5 Bars.  Complimentary WiFi  available throughout the resorts.  One thing of note at Now is that there is COMPLETE PRIVACY available for the bathrooms in the suites for families.  Guests staying at Secrets have full exchange privileges at Now while adult guests at Now can use all facilities at Secrets.  Complimentary Greens Fees for Golfers.  Lovely Spa!

I was thoroughly impressed with these resorts!  Be sure to hit either lobby to enjoy the sunset!  Incredible!

In addition to our nationwide scheduled air service, Apple Vacations offers exclusive vacations flights to Puerto Vallarta from Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Lansing, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. And new for Winter 2014 we will add flights from JFK, Philadelphia, Rockford and St. Louis! Getting to Puerto Vallarta just got a lot easier!

 

 

A Return to Puerto Vallarta

Joyce Malkenson, our Cincinnati Regional Sales Manager, just returned with the team from Puerto Vallarta.   We were able to get her impressions of Puerto Vallarta.

I was so excited to be visiting Puerto Vallarta.  It had been years since I had been there, but I had strong memories of how much I loved this destination and how truly distinct it was.  I stepped off the plane and was immediately impressed as to how modern the airport was and how easy it was to navigate.

As soon as we began driving toward the resort, I was instantly reminded of the unique charm and beauty of this destination.  Charming is the operative word……..from the cobblestone streets of the waterfront area to the unique shops and restaurants you are enticed.  There is no lack of things to do if you want to spend time away from the resort and in fact, I recommend a day and an evening exploring all the town has to offer.

Pulling up to Secrets Vallarta Bay/Now Amber was breathtaking.  From the moment I walked in to the entry and felt the bay breezes and saw the inviting lobby bar, I was hooked!  Clean, light and airy is the feel throughout these properties.  The suites only add to the building enthusiasm.  You open the door and see immediately out to the lapping waves of the bay and the incredible pool areas.  The suite itself is all about comfort and openness and I wanted to jump onto the beautiful chaise lounge and immediately relax…so I did! The room has amazing views from all angles, a Jacuzzi tub and a huge, fluffy bed.  This was one of the nicest rooms I have ever experienced.

The highlights of the trip came at night when I sat on the balcony looking over the pool area— the many pools were lit up and the turquoise colors were amazing.  A special light near the water reflected on the backs of the perfectly aligned beach chairs and it all looked like a piece of artwork.  You could see the whitecaps and hear the waves lapping and it was always a perfect ending to each wonderful day.

Having the two resorts side by side, one for adults only and one for families provides a perfect venue for any wedding, reunion or family group.  I will be recommending them to everyone I can. What a great resort! 

Thanks Joyce! Stay tuned to this blog for a review of Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta & Now Amber Puerto Vallarta from our Philadelphia regional sales manager.

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RIU PALACE BAVARO – A Beachgoer’s Paradise

Rob, one of our very own Marketing team just got back from vacation at Riu Palace Bavaro in Punta Cana. It sounded so great, we asked him to blog all about it for us.

We were greeted upon arrival at Riu Palace Bavaro with high-fives and tropical drinks. Check-in was quick, which was great because we couldn’t wait to get to the beach. Great start to the vacation!

Our room was very modern with great amenities: comfortable king size bed, flat screen tv, in-room Jacuzzi, rain shower (the best!), mini-bar with wall mounted liquor dispenser for rum/vodka/gin/scotch. From the balcony there was a striking view of the resort with the Caribbean Sea on the horizon. We got into a habit of ordering room service for snacks and having a few drinks on the balcony after the sun went down before we’d head out for dinner.

The Beach…Oh man… what a beach! I’ve often visited resorts where the beach was very small, or a little rocky for my taste, but this beach is huge with fine sand. Instead of having palapas for shade, there are towering palm trees that provide ample shade if you want to lounge all day without worrying too much about the sun. On our 3rd day at the resort, we fell asleep under the palms and didn’t leave the beach until the sun went down. It was as close as you can get to a perfect beach day. The Caribbean Sea was quite warm and we would swim or float around for an hour each day. It was peaceful.

The Pools … We spent a lot of our time at the “Taino” pool sitting in the whirlpool or laying on the water loungers. We never had to get up early to reserve a chair and there was always space at the swim-up bar to get a drink. The pool was surrounded by about a dozen canopy beds where you could take a mid-day nap while enjoying the breeze and Caribbean music.  In resort, a lot of times the pool is too noisy and crowded for me; this was serene and perfect.

The Coffee-Shop … We’re city dwellers accustomed to having several café’s within a few blocks walk at all times. It’s a bit of an essential part of my weekend morning routine. It was exciting that Riu Palace Bavaro had their own coffee shop “Cappuccino” where they had a menu of coffee drinks and delicious little pastries. I recommend the macchiato with a couple shots of Irish whiskey.

The Restaurants … Riu Palace Bavaro has 5 restaurants to choose from. We ate breakfast each morning at their international buffet “The Montecristo.” We particularly enjoyed the fresh fruits, breads/meats/cheeses, and the omelet making station. One evening we also enjoyed dinner there with some champagne and Caribbean musicians performing table-side. We made reservations our 3rd night for the a la carte fusion restaurant “Krystal” where we were greeted with champagne and given a tableside bucket with libations. The meal was served in 4 courses. We had for openers: Beet Gazpacho, Peanut Brittle, Ahi Tuna; Appetizers: Dome of Salmon, Summer Vegetable Rolls, Beef Carpaccio; Main course: Red Snapper, Grilled Shrimp with Vegetables; Dessert: Apple Pie a la mode, Chocolate Truffles with a Raspberry Meringue Macaroon. I’d definitely recommend eating there.

The Casino… We were given $40 in coupons to gamble at the casino in the Riu Palace Macao, but it seemed we used up all of our luck on the beautiful beach weather.

The Bars … Our favorite bar at the resort was “The Daiquiri” (Lobby Bar) where we would spend most evenings drinking dirty martini’s made by Elise. We tried many of the specialty drinks including blanc & mint martinis, mumbumbas (Caribbean mudslide), caprinhas, mojitos and of course piña coladas. The “Taino” swim-up bar served us well at the pool and the beach. I recommend having a gin & tonic on the beach as it keeps you feeling much better than the sugary drinks.

THANKS Rob for a great review! I know I will add Riu Palace Bavaro on my list of places to stay in Punta Cana.