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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Finding a Unique Resort in Puerto Vallarta

Marival Residences & World Spa is an All-Inclusive 6 Golden Apple Resort. After visiting, the first impression from our staff was – WOW! The luxurious resort is not directly on the beach, but it is close enough to offer ocean-view suites. The resort has a private beach club, and it is only a short walk or shuttle ride away.

The resort is perfect if you are looking for a very luxurious and unique resort, for a longer stay, and also is also perfect for a smaller Destination Wedding. Marival Residences & World Spa is so much more than a hotel, it has everything to be your “home-away-from-home”.

Marival Residences offers penthouse suites which have roof-top private pools.  They also have a 3-bedroom villa with a private gazebo, full kitchen and private pool.  All suites and villas have washer and dryer.

Any Destination Wedding Bride will love the idea of a very intimate and lovely wedding in the backyard of a villa. And, Weddings are free (including judge fee) with no minimum room requirement.

The resort also offers many additional unique value added features including:

Unlimited Golf Greens Fees, 1 complimentary hotel offered excursion per person per stay (with additional excursions at only $30 per person)

6 of the area’s most popular excursions, including dolphin encounters, canopy zip lining and sunset sails are all part of the all-inclusive package.

8 complimentary hours of Nanny service per 5 night stay!

The average tenure of the employees at this property and the sister Marival resort is around 10 years. That is pretty impressive. This is an Apple staff favorite from the recent hotel visits. They all love, love, love this resort!

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Dining at Iberostar Cancun

 

I was pleasantly surprised on my vacation to Iberostar Hotels & Resorts with the many dining options and quality of food. I know a lot of people research dining at a resort before they go on vacation, so I wanted to share my experience with our “Juice” audience.

 

I tend to not commit myself to advanced dining reservations in resort.  I don’t like to be on a schedule, especially if I am away for a just long weekend or 3 night vacation.  So a good buffet is a requirement. This is also especially important when travelling with families, as we all know kids can be picky and when in a new country they may need to try a few things before they find something they like.  It’s also not as easy to keep to a schedule with kids, so dining at our leisure, with no reservations, is important.

The main buffet restaurant of Iberostar Cancun is Antigüo Laguito. The selection and quality of food at this buffet was one of the best I have been to.  It was a very large restaurant with both indoor air-conditioned seating, as well as outdoor dining. There was never a wait and the selection at this restaurant was over the top. At breakfast they had everything from Mexican specialties, to fish, to traditional “American” breakfast of cereal, eggs, pancakes and waffles. They even “dipped” donuts while you waited.  Made–to-order omelet stations were throughout the buffet. There was truly not a thing missing and everything was delicious. Lunch and dinner also had a huge variety including fresh fish, shrimp, steak, make-your-own tacos, made-to-order pizzas, a pasta bar and Mexican specialties. The variety didn’t change drastically each night so if you found something you loved, you could have it each night.  There were still enough selections that you could eat here but have something different each time– including dessert!   The staff brought drinks promptly to us and they were very attentive.  If you enjoy a good buffet, and you tend to stick to buffet dining in resort, you will not be disappointed.

One of my favorite restaurants was El Maguey Restaurant because of the unique food and the tranquil view. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have a Mexican specialties buffet for lunch each day with authentic carnitas, guacamole, fresh fish, cheeses and so much more.  When in Mexico…you should eat Mexican food! It was delicious and fun to sample local Mexican cuisine each day – again on our own schedule since it is a buffet.  It was a simple restaurant, but the views are stunning, as it is set right off of the beach.  Since it is right between the beach and pool, most guests dined in a cover up and casual shoes for lunch. However, it converts to “fine dining” for dinner.

For informal lunch dining there is also a snack bar that served burgers and sandwiches, so you do not have to miss any time out in the sun.

My family always likes to try a Hibatchi restaurant on vacation when possible. They are usually family friendly, and especially good for groups. Naga Hibachi Japanese Restaurant  did not disappoint.  We did have to make a reservation, but we got the time we wanted and they took us promptly. We were with a group so we were the entire table. They chef was friendly and really entertained us while cooking. The food was wonderful and there were enough menu options for everyone.  We all ordered something different from steak, to shrimp to chicken. The kids were able to be part of the interactive cooking.  It kept them both occupied and entertained. My son still talks about this dinner. Delicious food and a great memory, makes this restaurant tops on my list.

There were so many dining choices at Iberostar Cancun, we didn’t make it to all of them. But there is always next time, so stay tuned!

 

 

Looking for a Spa Getaway? Try Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort

Photo Credit: Eileen Herncane Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort - Spa del Mar

Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort is perfect for a relaxing Spa Getaway for so many reasons.  When I visited Sandos,  I was amazed at how big the Spa was and the variety of treatment options available.  Sandos Cancun is a luxury resort so you feel pampered the moment you step in the resort. It is also a smaller resort – a boutique resort  – with a quite feel. Sandos Cancun is a perfect resort to relax, enjoy gourmet dining and tropical drinks.

Sandos Cancun offers a 15,000 square foot European spa with 14 individual treatment rooms for a full range of spa services, including seaweed applications, Swiss showers, massages, hydrotherapy, Celtic Showers, facials and more.  They have indoor and outdoor sections of the spa including Jacuzzis, saunas and relaxation rooms.  The spa is easy access right off the main lobby / by the pool of the resort.

If you need some R & R, or are looking for a perfect place for a spa getaway, Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort is a really great option.

Check out our gallery of pictures to get an up close look at the Spa:

Shopping for an Apple Vacation and want to know when to book?

Are you shopping around for an Apple Vacation and see a great price at a popular hotel and can’t decide what to do? Go ahead and book it! It may NOT be there tomorrow. Apple Vacations from time to time offers a one week, flash or 72 – hour sale for example. We are currently in the middle of a one – week sale to RIU Hotels and Resorts. And, it is truly a rate that expires at the end of the week.

RIU Hotels & Resorts go the extra mile to deliver the perfect ingredients for the perfect vacation...beautiful beachfront locations, upscale amenities and the highest level of personalized service.

I hear people say all the time “ I’m going to wait and see if the price goes down later”. Why take that chance?  It may not be available later, the seats may sell out, the hotel may sell out, or either of them can increase the rate at any time.  A better option is to book it and take AVOK plus with best price guarantee. If the rate happens to go down, you get a refund for the difference. Problem solved!

I always encourage people especially if they want a specific hotel, or have specific dates of travel to book as early as possible. With the new DOT rules, you also can place a 24 – hour courtesy hold on any air – inclusive vacation without penalty.

 

 

If you are a consumer or an agent, please go ahead and book a deal when you see it! So many times people call to say I want to book this offer, I saw it yesterday;  or I saw this price an hour ago, and it’s gone.  Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t delay, book your Apple Vacation today!

 

 

 

 

Family Vacation in Punta Cana

It’s that time of year again for our annual family vacation.  I have vacationed in Punta Cana before and completely fell in love with the people and the culture in the Dominican Republic. Warm smiles friendly attitudes and a care free environment are the staples of Punta Cana and I was not going to chance losing that going elsewhere. The hardest part about planning an all-inclusive vacation with a family of 10, is choosing the right resort.  It’s a bit of a task finding a place that caters an age disparity that ranges 10 to 65 years old.

Set on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic in Punta Cana, this resort offers 13 different outdoor pools with gorgeous views of the Caribbean Sea and a secluded lagoon.

With activities that range from arcades to casinos, The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was really a ‘no-brainer.’  The moment we stepped off the Apple Vacations van and set foot on the property the whole family was blown away by the aesthetics of the place. Flashy, yet controlled; spacious yet completely decorated in rock memorabilia, the Hard Rock is really a sight to behold. All the rooms are full blown suites equipped with Jacuzzis, personal balconies and stunning views. It really has a way of making you feel like a rock star. Something tells me that’s exactly what they were going for.

 

 

The Hard Rock features luxurious accommodations, fine dining at nine restaurants, seven bars, thirteen pool with four swim-up bars, casino and spa.

 

The resort also offers a magnificent state of the art Spa and an elegant full service Casino. And when you're hungry, you'll have a choice of 9 different restaurants, wireless Internet service, a sports bar, 24-hour room service and much more.

The resort is home to 9 restaurants, 3 deli/snack bars, 15 bars, 15 pools, lounges/nightclubs, arcades, a spa, a casino, and a variety of shops.  Plenty to keep a large family like mine completely entertained. There are also a plethora of excursions available through the Apple representative on site.

 

When the sun goes down, Hard Rock knows how to rock. The fun has just begun. You can go check out a rock show, or bet against lady luck at the casino. Perhaps you want to test your own rock and roll voice at the Karaoke, dance the night away at the club, or sit, relax and have a drink at one of the many lounges. The possibilities are endless and so is the fun.

 

The majestic Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana brings the Palace brand of uncompromising, all-inclusive luxury to its newest destination - one of the most beautiful beachfront locations in the Caribbean.

 

This vacation reminded me why I love Punta Cana so much and why its growing in popularity as the years pass. With great people, great food, spectacular service, beautiful scenery and incredible beaches its not hard to see why Punta Cana is becoming THE place to vacation.  Don’t overlook this destination next time you are in need of a great vacation!

Happy travels…

Iberostar Cancun

On my recent trip to Mexico, I wanted to get back to where my love of Mexico started, so I stayed in Cancun at Iberostar Cancun.

In the midst of Mexico's leading destination, the IBEROSTAR Cancún Hotel runs along the powdery beaches and pristine turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

 

It really is a hotel welcoming all. I travelled as a group with friends and my family, but there were couples, families, singles and even a bachelor party!

This Cancún resort features an array of services and amenities to meet the needs of any Cancún vacation.

The hotel itself has a great presence when you drive up. It is a beautiful high- rise, set right on the beach.  When we pulled up, my friend’s son turned to her and said “mom the Jersey shore has nothing on this place!” You check-in to a beautiful lobby and the “heart” of the hotel is the lobby bar – Las Palmas. It was always buzzing, day or night. The elevators and restaurants and even the convention center are all off of this lobby bar.  We found ourselves starting out here or often meeting friends here.

The rooms at Iberostar Cancun are nice and clean with more than plenty of space for a family of 3. They had a fridge in the room and our room had a great view of the ocean and even a balcony.

 The highlights of this hotel for me were:

The beachfront IBEROSTAR Cancún stands with theatrical appeal below the cerulean sky and has been recognized with awards and accolades for over 10 years and it also was recently awarded the AAA Four Diamond Award.

1 – The pools!  I love a good resort pool as that is where I spend most of my time. Iberostar Cancun did not disappoint. There were 7 amazing pools cascading one into the other ending at the infinity pool at the beach – beautiful!

2 – Super FUN pool bar. Around 3 PM every day, resort guests would all seem to migrate there after a day on the beach, golfing or at an excursion.  People mingled, the staff interacted with everyone and it was a lively fun place to meet people.

3 – The food. There was such a variety of restaurants!  I had no complaints. I tend to like the buffets in resort.  This way I am not on a schedule and can eat when I please and I can try different things.  The main buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner was really good.  At breakfast they made fresh donuts in front of you! They also had a make-your-own omelet stations. The food was similar each night for dinner, with different stations so you could decide what you wanted – make your own pizza and pasta, fresh fish, steak, fajitas and shrimp could all be found for dinner each night.

4 – Space to roam. When we stayed there, the resort was quite full. However, there was plenty of space wherever we went. We never had to wait for a table to eat or for a drink.  There was always a beach chair or cabana to be found.   I loved this!

5 – The nightly shows. They were a lot of fun and a great way for us to start out each evening.

Stay tuned for future blogs on some more unique things you need to know about Iberostar Cancun

An impressive architectural jewel with a key location facing the turquoise water of the Mexican Caribbean.