Watch: The Fray, Johnny Rzeznik & Josh Kelley Play Secrets Puerto Los Cabos

Apple Vacations and Chicago’s Morning Show, Eric & Kathy on The MIX, recently traveled to beautiful Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Resort & Spa for, “Chips, Dip and A Mexico Trip… CABO!”

To celebrate their 10th anniversary trip with Apple, they brought almost 300 passengers to resort and a few friends, including Johnny Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls, American Authors and Josh Kelley.

To watch more videos from the trip, check out the Eric & Kathy YouTube page, here!

Escape the Typical, Go Tropical – Costa Rica!

Costa Rica Beach View 2

Written By: AVDW Wedding Specialist, Amanda Martin

Are you searching for the next up-and-coming destination for your big day? Somewhere where you and your guests can relax and explore without breaking the bank? Then look no further than that little country South of Mexico, Costa Rica!

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Destination Wedding Trends: Go Green with Your Bling

Dreams Tulum Green Wedding Beach

As told by Apple Vacations Destination Weddings Expert, Ashley Surkin

We’ve all witnessed the steps being taken towards creating a healthier environment; many of us have even participated in these efforts. If you choose reusable bags over plastic or are the ruler of the carpool trend, why shouldn’t you consider the impact your destination wedding could have on global warming, pollution, loss of animal habitats, etc.?

In fact, one of the latest trends in the bridal industry is wearing the Green Bride crown with pride. Here are a few helpful tips for having an environment-friendly wedding day!

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Escape the Chill with Apple Vacations Spring SuperSale

Want to save up to 40% on you next vacation to Mexico or The Caribbean? Well you are in luck, because Apple Vacations Spring SuperSale is on!

We have all “chilled out” enough this winter and more snow is in the forecast for many states this week. There is no better time to head south to the warm and sunny beaches of Mexico & The Caribbean and start the spring thaw.

Apple Vacations is offering some great pricing to Mexico & The Caribbean. Here are 5 helpful hints to help you navigate the sale and get the best deal possible during our Spring SuperSale.

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An itinerary for Panama to maximize your vacation!

Gina West, one of Apple Vacations’ Regional Sales Managers, recently returned from Panama. We were able to get her first impressions and now here is a sample itinerary that’s she suggests when visiting Panama:

First stop, Panama City… it’s actually two cities in one.  The historic area of “old” Panama City is experiencing a renaissance. The ornate architecture of decade old buildings are being painstakingly restored to their original condition.  Old Panama City is invitingly charming and yet eclectic with small boutiques, shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and gathering squares.  While it’s still a work in progress, witnessing its rebirth leaves visitors with a strong desire to return again and again.

The newer part of Panama City is home to over 80 world banks, many corporate headquarters and hotels. Dozens of skyscrapers have gone up just in the past 10 years! The city is host to countless corporate conventions in the dozens of trendy, chic sky-scraping hotels.  Currently the 80-story Trump Ocean Club Hotel is the tallest building in Panama City with magnificent views of the new skyline as well as old Panama and the ships in the distance waiting their turn to enter the Panama Canal. A visit or stay in Panama City is a must.  There’s so much to see and do, great restaurants to visit, quiet or upbeat bars and lounges. Stay in one of the hotels in the newer part of Panama City for two nights but be sure to visit both areas during your stay.

Next, head to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort and the second lock of the Panama Canal is just a short 30 minute drive southeast of Panama City. The tranquil and serene Gamboa Rainforest Resort is located minutes from the Miraflores Lock (the second lock of the three that make up the Panama Canal). The All-Inclusive Gamboa Rainforest Resort, not yet 10 years old, possesses a casual elegance and charm that you feel the moment you arrive.  The panoramic view of the river and mountains gives this resort the look and feel of a spa retreat. Guests of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort unwind and relax as the pace is much slower than the pulse and energy of Panama City.  Treat yourself to this experience. The Gamboa Tarpen Club at the Panama Canal is connected to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Be sure to take the water tour into the canal which takes guests into the canal waterway and its surrounding tiny islands teeming with wildlife. This was my favorite part of my week in Panama. The tour guides on these small 10 passenger vessels are excellent and able to spot various species of wildlife that inhabit this area. Spending a few days at Gamboa Rainforest while in Panama is an absolute must.

Finally to complete your stay, plan on spending your last few nights at one of the beach resorts in Panama. There is a beach resort to fit every desire and budget. The Westin Playa Bonita is just 45 minutes southwest of Panama City. As you drive further south, the beaches of Panama get even better. From the understated luxury and elegance of the Panama Marriott Hotel to the charm and energy of the family friendly All Inclusive Royal Decameron, there are many great beach resort in Panama. Spending the last few days of your visit to Panama relaxing at the beach!   

There is so much to see and do in Panama, but the good news is it can be done in a week with a little planning. In fact, Apple Vacations offers a 7 night package that incorporates a little bit of each part of Panama. Spend some time with your travel agent to make sure your Panama vacation is the best fit for you. 

 I didn’t expect to fall in love with Panama as much as I did, but I did. Besides the diversity of what Panama offers, there was an intangible element of the Panama experience that I couldn’t quite put into words. I consulted Wikipedia and I found that intangible element. According to Wikipedia, in “a 2012 poll, it was reported that Panama City was the city with the happiest people in the world” – So there you have it! Perhaps the most compelling reason to visit Panama. 

Add Panama to your bucket list and visit the city with the happiest people in the world!

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Panama – From the pages of the history books to an amazing experience!

We get a lot of questions on Panama. It is a fairly recent addition to Apple Vacations product offerings. Gina West, one of our Regional Sales Managers, recently returned from Panama. We were able to get her to share her experiences with all of us. Now you can decide if Panama is right for you!

As a baby-boomer, in grade school, I learned the significance of this small country. It is barely more than a strip of land, the “isthmus” on the globe connecting North and South America. Until my visit, my understanding was simply this. A strip of land connecting two continents and home to the Panama Canal – a passageway critical to the world’s commerce and economy. Boy was I wrong! There is so much more to Panama than in our history books. The Panamanian Tourist Board should put me on their payroll as I have now become a self- proclaimed “unofficial ambassador” and passionate promoter of Panama. Panama should be on everyone’s travel or “bucket list” and here’s why…

 Besides the critical role that the Panama Canal plays in transporting goods from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the workings of the three locks of the Panama Canal is amazing to witness and i’s history is worth exploring. My fourth grade geography class came flooding back and I was in awe, as I watched a cargo ship carrying 1500 containers maneuver it’s way through the locks from the Pacific (to the south) to the Caribbean and Atlantic (to the north).  Even more amazing was seeing ship after ship stacked up behind it waiting for their turn. This 24/7/365 day operation is “business as usual” in today’s world of commerce but still one of the coolest and most amazing engineering feats ever accomplished. 

 I expected to be WOWED and impressed by the Panama Canal, and it did not disappoint. What I did not expect, was everything else that Panama has to offer.  I truly fell in love with this destination.

 In recent years, Panama has modeled itself, the government and lifestyle similar to The United States, so it’s no wonder that American travelers find Panama a very comfortable destination to visit. Panama has coin currency called the “balboa”. The value is the same as the U.S. dollar and the U.S. dollar is the standard currency used throughout Panama. Just about everything in Panama is up to U.S. travel standards. The accommodations are spacious and clean. You can drink tap water because the filtration systems are the same as here in the U.S.

 There is so much to do in Panama, and so many areas to visit. It is a city destination, is it a beach destination, there is a rainforest. You can dip your toes in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the same day! If you want to take a vacation to Panama, but are wondering just how to get the most out of your visit, here is what I would recommend: Plan to spend at least one week. But, don’t spend the entire week all in one place. There are three distinct areas in Panama and you should visit each.

Stay tuned to this blog and I’ll give you the sample itinerary that Gina recommends.

In the canal with the container ships! Trump Ocean Club Infinity pool on the 35th floor! File0505 Tamarin Monkey in the Gamboa Rainforest

 

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.