Top 5 Travel Tips for traveling to Panama

As told by Ruth Daniels

I would consider myself a little bit of a “seasoned” traveler. I’ve been throughout the Caribbean Islands, to several vacation spots in Mexico, and the all over the U.S. So when I was thinking about going away, I definitely wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere a little more adventurous. My friends and I decided to go to Panama! I found that this booming Central American hotspot has much more going on than its namesake canal.

 

Photo Credit: Apple Vacations – The Westin Playa Bonita Panama

 

Here are my top 5 travel tips for going to this destination:

1.      Fly Non-Stop!

We left from DC where we flew out on Copa Airlines. It was a non-stop flight, which was really nice. They even had blankets and pillows and served meals on the plane! I can’t remember the last time I was on a flight that did that. It definitely added an unexpected touch of luxury.

2.      Private Transfers

For the convenience of Apple Vacations customers, all hotel bookings have private transfers included. Whether you are arriving at the airport or transferring between different hotels in our program, our local ground handler, Gamboa Tours, will provide a private air-conditioned transfer at a time requested by you. This makes booking a double (City & Beach) or triple center vacation (City, Rainforest & Beach) simpler and will ensure you get the most out of your vacation experience in Panama. It’s a really nice added touch, and one less thing to worry about while traveling.

 

Photo Credit: Apple Vacations – Trump Ocean Club Panama

3.      See everything! – Beach & City

We had heard through various contacts that the best way to experience Panama was to stay for a couple nights in the city, and then, spend a few nights at a beach hotel. The first 2 nights we spent at the Riu Panama Plaza. It’s in the financial district close to a lot of boutiques and shopping malls. I definitely came back with my bags a few pounds heavier! Our rooms were on the 17th floor and we had a breathtaking view of the city. From our hotel in Panama City we were less than 20 minutes from the Panama Canal and the Old City ruins. We went to Miraflores Locks and actually got to see a huge boat go through! It was neat to see the water levels change in the locks to get the boat through. The ruins were great too, because we got to see another historic side to Panama. Our last 2 nights were spent at the Sheraton Bijao where we spent some time on the gorgeous white sand beach and enjoyed the spa, bars and sun!

 

Photo Credit: Apple Vacations – Capuchin Monkey, Monkey Island Boat Tour

 4.      Monkeys!  (Technically, it’s the Monkey Island Boat Tour)

You can take a boat tour through secret waterways to find hidden islands where Capuchin monkeys and Howler monkeys can be seen leaping in the trees above! Occasionally, they become curious of visitors and venture down to take a closer look. This tour is roughly a ½ day and includes transportation, English-speaking guide and boat ride around the Gatun Lake.

 Last but not least…

 5.      The Panama Canal Tour

This tour begins at the Flamenco Resort and Marina. After a 45 minute motor coach ride to Gamboa, you will board a boat and enter the canal at Gaillard Cut, where the Chagres River flows into the canal. While traveling the Cut’s 8.5 miles, you will view the new Centennial Bridge. Next, enter Pedro Miguel Locks and then Miraflores Lake. Once in the Pacific Ocean, sail to the Flamenco Marina and disembark. On the way, pass under the Bridge of the Americas. Admire the Bay of Panama and Panama City’s splendorous skyline. The ½ day tour includes round-trip transportation, bilingual guide, Panama Canal transit with all fees, lunch on board, soft drinks and water. The full day tour includes in addition to the partial transit, you will enjoy a trip through Gatun Lake, which was formed by erecting the Gatun Dam across the Chagres River.

Now you can see why Panama is a top destination for adventurists, eco-tourists, history buffs, beach lovers, families and romantics.  What are you waiting for?!? Go find your paradise in Panama!

 

*Apple Vacations Representatives are provided by Gamboa Tours DMC, an independent destination management company operating in Panama and providing services to Apple Vacationers. All prices are per person in U.S. dollars. Prices and excursions subject to change without notice. Excursions operated by local independent suppliers. Some require physical activity. Please consider the nature of the excursion to ensure it is appropriate for your age and physical condition.

 

 

Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort – Perfect for a Destination Wedding.

Photo Credit: Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort – Destination Wedding in Gazebo

Sandos Cancun is a boutique resort just 10 minutes from the Cancun airport. Read my review. When I visited I immediately thought this is a perfect location for a destination wedding.

 

Photo Credit: Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort – Gazebo for Destination Wedding

Cancun itself is a great place for a destination wedding not only because of the beauty, charm and history, but there are so many accessible flights in and out of the U.S.  It makes it easy for your guests to travel.  The resort is just 10 minutes from the airport, making it easy for guests to come in for a short stay if needed.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort – Destination Wedding on Beach at Sunset

It is a smaller resort, just over 200 rooms. A destination wedding in a smaller resort makes the experience more intimate. Even if you book a small amount of rooms, you still have a large share of the hotel.  If you book just 20 rooms  – that’s 10% of the hotel.  If you have a really large wedding party and group, you can even do a take – over of the hotel (book in advance!) They day I was there they were working on details for a bride who was doing a take – over of the hotel for her wedding.

 

 

Photo Credit: Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort – Congratulations on your nuptials!

There is perfect spa, for a little bachelorette time pre – wedding, and also a beauty salon on property, to get ready for the wedding.

There is a perfect gazebo to get married, really a unique and exquisite location. I thought this is ideal because you can get married at the beach, in a stunning gazebo, with a beautiful Caribbean blue ocean or sunset in the background without being actually on the sand.  Spectacular beach options and terrace options are also available for wedding ceremonies and receptions.

 

Photo Credit: Eileen Herncane – Bali Bed’s on Cancun Beach

There are many romantic spots at this resort for you to start your married life. Perfect “table for 2” at Seasons restaurant overlooking the Caribbean sea and private dining on the beach.  The food at this hotel spectacular and will not disappoint your wedding guests.  There are bali beds for 2 and swinging lounge beds that add to the romantic charm of the resort.

 

 

 

If you are planning a destination wedding, make sure you add Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort to the list of hotel to consider.

 

 

 

Showing off the Best Apple Advantages

I have to get this off my chest…Tuesday after a long weekend always feels like Monday! Between the gloomy weather and coming to terms that summer’s over, all I want to think about is my next vacation.  And I’ve got an idea! I’ve been listening to my sisters ask me “When are we going to take a Girls trip?” for months now. It’s time to show them all the relaxing amenities of an All-Inclusive Apple Vacation. Keep in mind, neither of them has actually been on an Apple Vacation yet, so I’m extra excited to be a guide for them. With all of these Apple Advantages, they are going to be really impressed!

Sanctuary Cap Cana - Dominican Republic

 

The Best Apple Advantages

  • Preferred Perks Plus – makes flying actually comfortable and I really like the non-stop transfers to your resort once you arrive.
  • Flowered Shirts – “A friendly face in a faraway place” is an understatement. You just have to spot the flowered shirts, a.k.a. Apple Reps, when you arrive and you’re all set for an easy drive to your resort. Here’s another little extra bonus, there are non-stop transfers with Preferred Perks Plus. Apple Rep’s are in every resort, so if you have questions about your departure or looking for fun things to do outside the resort, they’re the people to ask.
  • All-Inclusive – the best 2 words on any vacation. It’s definitely more relaxing when you’re lounging around the pool or on the beach and you’re not worrying about how much cash you have with you. Or when you’re going to a restaurant and there’s not bill to take care of at the end of your meal. It’s like a vacation for your wallet, and who doesn’t mind that?
  • AV-OK – Total Vacation Security Package. It’s necessary if you ask me, and completely worth it. If there’s a price drop in your vacation, you can get refund. If you need to cancel, for whatever reason, you can get a refund. If something happens in resort, you’re covered. AV-OK = Peace of Mind.
  • Last but not least, you’re in tropical paradise! All of the details I mentioned previously are wrapped up in a bow call an All-Inclusive Apple Vacation.  I think it’s a big relief for vacationers to really unwind and relax and not have to worry about organizing the small details that Apple Vacations has to offer. Vacationers can enjoy what they came to do – VACATION.

I’m sure my sisters will love their first Apple Vacation, and I’ll keep you posted how the trip turns out. In the meantime, while I’m stuck in my cubicle today, I’ll daydream about the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana or Mexico.

 

West Coast Mexico, Secrets Marquis Los Cabos

 

 

 

Does the Apple Vacations App Work in Destination? Yes It Does!

On a recent work trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, I think I found my new favorite destination and resort…Secrets Marquis Los Cabos!  The destination was beautiful – think desert meets ocean paradise – it was so gorgeous! And where do I start about the hotel Secrets Marquis Los Cabos – it was amazing, with huge rooms, the staff and service was off the charts and the food was to die for! Make sure you check out this resort if you come to Cabo – because you will be blown away!

 Ok, getting back on topic….the Apple Vacations On The Go App! I am sure many of you have young kids or family members at home that you need to stay in contact with, even if you are on a vacation! Well, this Apple Vacations App is perfect for you!  I was a little unsure if the “Traveler Connect” portion of the Apple Vacations On The Go App was going to work. The only reason I was unsure was because I know it’s been tested on the east coast of Mexico, like Cancun & Riviera Maya as well as Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, but I wasn’t sure if it was tested and worked here in Los Cabos, where I was.

  Well, it worked perfectly, I was so happy! I could call home as much as I wanted to check on my baby boy, I think I called home too much my husband was starting to get a little irritated as to why I kept calling 4-5 times a day!

Secrets Marquis Los Cabos Infinity Pool & Ocean View

I was shocked on how easy the “Traveler Connect” was to use – I am not very tech savvy so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to use it. Boy was I wrong – you just have to make sure the person you are going to text or call has the App Downloaded & you must give them your booking # to sign in with. After that, you both create a profile for each other & make sure you both are “Friends” then you can call or text as much as you want! (A little too much in my case.) Important that you know; You have to be located in a WIFI Area in your hotel to access the Traveler Connect feature. Also, don’t forget, if you purchase this APP you can post all of your vacation photos to Facebook & Twitter and all your friends and family will be jealous of how much fun you are having on YOUR Apple Vacation! Don’t forget with this Apple Vacations App you have access to vital travel info, one touch calling to your Apple Rep, & it even allows you to check your flight status, book excursions, check the weather outside & even get discounted local offers at vendors like Starbucks…..all within this one app! So what are you waiting for download the Free Apple Vacations On The GO App & Corresponding Traveler Connect for only $14.99 today and stay connected with your loved ones!

 

 

 

 

Get The App - Stay Connected!

 

Living the Life at Secrets Silversands

My husband and I needed a vacation, badly. Choosing to go to Mexico was a no brainer, mostly because last year we went to Punta Cana. But if you haven’t noticed, Mexico’s a big place and there are a lot of destinations to choose from! There’s Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Cozumel, and Cancun to name a few.  So, we live on the east coast, and wanted a direct, non-stop flight, something close (only a 3 day, 4 night jaunt) so we chose the beautiful beaches of Cancun, specifically Riviera Maya. The next few decisions were easier. We wanted adults-only, gorgeous beach/pools, and spa. ONE word – Secrets. Plus there are 3 of them in the Cancun vicinity. We went with Secrets Silversands, and it was the perfect choice!

Secrets Silversands brings a brilliantly contemporary atmosphere to Cancun's famed Riviera Maya. Surrounded by warm crystal waters, this all-suite Unlimited Luxury ® resort features 433 sumptuous suites, everyone is a showcase of modern luxury and elegant appointments.

Preferred Perks PLUS - Frontier Airlines Introductory Rate $39

Let me jump to the vacation…

We packed our bags, and were ready to go! It was a little exciting for our first Frontier plane ride. I’d like to add that we opted for the Preferred Perks, and in my opinion it’s totally worth it. I watched a couple shows on Bravo, (YES – Frontier has direct TV) and bam, we were there, in gorgeous, sunny, Cancun Mexico. We hopped in our non-stop transfer, arrived at Secrets Silversands in 20 minutes, stepped out of the car and were greeted “Welcome, home”.

The next few days were nothing less than lying by the pool, (there are 8 to choose from, I might mention), relaxing under a palapa on the

Savor Mexican a la caret cuisine in a traditional authentic ambience.

beach, eating fresh avocados or guacamole with every meal, and sipping delicious tropical libations. I have to say that the food at Secrets Silversands is better than you can imagine. They have 9 restaurants, which are beautifully styled, have excellent customer service, and extremely scrumptious fare. Secrets Silversands has an extremely active entertainment program. You can do Yoga on the beach in the morning, join a game of beach or pool volleyball during the day, and there’s always something fun going on at night like a band playing or dance show.

My husband and I decided to go for a couples massage at their elegant SPA by Pevonia. WOW! We had access to the spa’s private pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna for the entire day and couldn’t wait for our late afternoon Swedish Massages. We had the most relaxing time, and afterwards we lay in the meditation room to continue the relaxation. It was completely dreamy and all my stresses easily drifted away.

Over the course of the 4 days we swam, we slept, we ate, we drank, and we relaxed. The vacation went by quickly, as they always do. But it was really a great time and I highly recommend it!

Secrets Silversands is nestled on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and lies a mere 15 miles south Cancun and about 20 minutes from the Cancun Inernational Airport. This all-suite haven is surrounded by coral reefs and adventurous attractions

Oceana Seafood Grille Situated directly under a giant palapa with a beautiful view of the ocean, serving a la carte seafood specialties in a quiet romantic and seaside setting.

 

Here are a few tips

  • If you like seafood try Oceana, delicious shrimp tacos and ceviche. There are 9 Restaurants, 8 bars and 24/7 room service.
  • The expansive 12,000 square foot Secrets Spa by Pevonia is Amazing! I highly recommend it!
  • Rooms are spotless and ultra-chic - amenities in each room include Sitting area with sofa, Bathroom with jacuzzi for 2, satellite TV, CD/DVD player, MP3 docking station, Internet dataport ($), Minibar, hair dryer, iron, telephone, room safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Vacations LOVES Travel Agents!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and again … Apple Vacations LOVES Travel Agents!

Mark from Dreamers Travel after getting some new window swag.

Mark from Dreamers Travel after getting some new window swag.

We dedicate each May as Travel Agent Appreciation Month. We just announced the Travel Agent Appreciation Month prize winners! Agents, make sure you log on to the NEW Apple Vacations Agent Cafe to check them out.

Check out some pictures of Travel Agents from Travel Agent Appreciation Month 2012.   

Glenside Travel after enjoying lunch for their office.

 

2012 Crystal Retreat in Los Cabos

 

2012 Crystal Retreat in Los Cabos

London Calling Visiting London Rock-N-Roll Style

When visiting London on an Apple Vacation, you of course should still visit great historical landmarks, including Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Tower Bridge.  The majesty and history is unparalleled.  But depending on what interests you the most, there are a world of unique tours and landmarks to add to your visit as well.

Everyone who knows me knows I LOVE music. I love, love, love a live concert, music and musical landmarks even on vacation. Every time I have been to London I have attended a concert or added musical highlights to my sightseeing.  There is so much rock history in London, it would be impossible to see everything, but here are some highlights I suggest.   You’ll truly stand in amazement when you are in a location where famous lyrics were written or written about, bands were formed, historical concerts were played and unfortunately where many famous musicians’ journeys came to an end.  

If you are heading to London this summer, there is an amazing concert to kick of The Olympics that I would LOVE to be at! The show will be at London’s famous Hyde Park and will feature headline acts from all four nations of the UK, with Duran Duran representing England, Snow Patrol appearing for Northern Ireland, Stereophonics for Wales and Paolo Nutini will play for Scotland. The concert will be on July 27 to coincide with The Olympics opening ceremony.  On one of my trips to London (many moons ago),  I saw Duran Duran play the very first concert at the London Arena.  The energy of a band playing in front of their home country, was something I’ll never forget.

If you will not be in London in July then check out the schedule for the O2 Arena when planning your trip. O2 hosts many concerts and shows and in itself a musical landmark to visit.

One of the most famous musical highlights in Londonis the famous Abby Road Studios. Originally a Georgian townhouse built in the 1830s, Abby Road Studios is the most famous recording studio in the world.  It is most notably associated with the Beatles, who recorded many albums and singles there between 1962 and 1970. The Beatles 1969 album Abbey Road was named after the street where the studio is located, as the studio was only renamed Abby Road Studios in 1970.  The cover photo for that album is

London - Abbey Road, taken by Eileen Herncane

recreated on a daily basis by fans from all over the world.  It is still an active recording studio, and as a matter of fact the official song for the Queens Diamond Jubilee was recorded in Studio One.

Rock and Roll sightseeing in London you can also find where Bob Geldof conceived Band Aid and Live Aid, where and how the Sex Pistols formed, the Clash’s neighborhood, the late homes of Bob Marley and Freddie Mercury and where Jimi Hendrix recorded. For Rolling Stones fans you can stop at the legendary Edith Grove apartment   - where it all began. You can also eat at Bill Wyman’s Sticky Fingers restaurant where you can see incredible original Stones nostalgia throughout the restaurant.  It took me longer to walk through the restaurant looking at all the memorabilia than it did to eat.  

London - Sticky Fingers, taken by Eileen Herncane

If music is not “your thing”, stay tuned for future blogs on other exciting sightseeing ideas to enhance your Apple Vacation to London.