La Compagnie Announces New York City to Paris All Business Class Flight

Photo: La Compagnie

La Compagnie set to take off July 2014

A new French and fledgling airline that goes by the name of La Compagnie has announced the launch of a new low cost trans-Atlantic route between New York City & Paris, France. The name “La Compagnie” translated to “The Company” will offer an exclusive seating class and an exclusive route. La Compagnie will operate with all business class seats and will begin operation July 11 from Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, France and starting July 12 from Newark Liberty International. The New York City – Paris route is the only route La Compagnie will offer and has vowed to “democratize business class” La Compagnie also stated it will be “French in spirit, global in appeal’.

La Compagnie was created by Frantz yvelin and Peter Luethi, businessmen who wanted an airline for business people. Yvelin stated that “It is time to bring business-class air service back to where it belongs where personalized service is offered at respectable fares”. He also mentioned that it will have “French style and American dependability”.

The carrier did not disclose it U.S price structure yet and will not do so until it receives regulatory approval. However, a sample rundtrip fare posted in France said it would run about $1,200 US Dollars per person. La Compagnie will begin its services with a redesigned Boeing 757-200 fitted in the airlines signature baby blue hue.
The company could not reveal U.S. price structures until it receives regulatory approval, but sample roundtrip fares posted in France run about $1,200 USD per person for two people roundtrip.

The plane will offer four to five weekly flights throughout the summer, with scheduled departures out of Paris at 5:50 p.m. arriving in Newark at 8:30 a.m., and out of Newark at 9:45 p.m. arriving in Paris at 11:15 a.m.
The interior design offers 74 “lie-flat” seats creating a 2×2 configuration throughout a single aisle cabin with no dividing class curtain. Overhead luggage bins are ample, according to the airline, and the interior cabin is “sleek and stylized with leather headrests and armrests in La Compagnie’s signature baby blue.”

La Compagnie’s next Boeing 757-200 aircraft will be delivered in December 2014. Each flight will be crewed by two pilots and three flight attendants fluent in international languages.

In-flight amenity kits include Caudalie cosmetic products, as well as in-flight meal service with menus created by Christophe Langree, the Michelin-starred chef of Hôtel Matignon in Paris, which serves as the official residence of the Prime Minister of France. La Compagnie’s fleet will also be equipped with complimentary WiFi Internet service, and all seats will have personal Samsung tablets uploaded with an assortment of books, magazines, music and movies.

Viking River Cruises Exclusive Experience

A week in Provence on the Rhone River

One of the most important aspects of travel is the anticipation. I was lucky enough to represent YTC this year on the 2014 Viking Platinum Circle Cruise. This cruise is unlike any other program. The Viking Sales Team charters the river vessel so they can show their gratitude for the support and success that the top producing Travel Partners within the industry have given the past year. The itinerary, shore excursions and events are custom designed just for the Platinum Circle partners. The entire sales staff is on board to host this event.

Breath taking views Breath taking views

Arrival in Avignon a walled city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses the largest Gothic building in Europe, protected by the city walls 18 feet thick. Wonderful walkable city to explore.

The anticipation after arriving was huge as the next day 14 ships were to be christened. Four more to be added soon in the coming months. This will bring it to a total of 18 new long ships in 2014. This like last year set another record christening for long ships from one company. I stayed on the new Viking Hermond and it was Christened as well. The celebrations was like none other hosted at Pont-du-Gard one of the major attractions of Southern France.

Arles was the next stop 45 minutes away. Plenty of sites to see in and around this most amazing Roman City. It is a breathtaking example of Romanesque architecture. Known for its quality of light Van Gogh painted 300 masterworks during his stay from 1888-1889. Many of his works can be found at the Old Arles hospital. Not to be missed is the Carrieres de Lumiere. This in the heart of the Alphilles range. A cave of white limestone and bauxite have been transformed into a multimedia show. I was able to experience the works of Gustav Klimt. The experience is hard to explain so here is the web-site to take a look yourself http://www.carriereslumieres.com. I would highly recommend this to everyone. Several different artists are featured throughout the year.

Viviers, offers a mix of architectures of Romanesques and Gothic , this charming little city is walkable from the ship. Medieval streets with a Castle. Beautiful views of the sounding area and the Rhone River once you reach the top of the city. Not to be missed.

Vienne, the center piece of Vienne is the 13,000 seat roman theater on the slopes of Mt. Pipet. Most of its Roman monuments are still intact today. Julius Caesar transformed this once Celtic region into a Roman colony in 47 B.C. Many sites to choose from within the city to take in. A must see

Lyon is known worldwide for its fine French cuisine and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the most beautiful exciting and interesting cities I have ever been to. So much to see and do in two days’ time was just not enough. From the Romanesque architecture, to the new modern city, museums and gothic churches you will be amazed by this beautiful city of lights.

To put an end to the trip we were treated to a Gala Reception and dinner at the Chapelle de la Trinite the first baroque style church built in Lyon between 1617-1622. Classified as a historic monument. It was transformed into a beautiful venue for our last evening.

Viking River Cruises has great destinations, expert tour guides, state of the art ships, good cuisine, great service and at a remarkable value being all-inclusive. The new long ships are well appointed with understated eloquence.

-Patty Eriksson

 

 

 

Your Travel Center Experts throughout The U.S. Join Travel Leaders for Major A Travel Convention in Atlanta

Today it was announced that Your Travel Center from the Travel Leaders location at 414 South Mill Avenue  just returned from one of the most highly-anticipated travel industry conventions of the year – the Travel Leaders National Meeting, which convened at the recently renovated, sparkling Hyatt Regency Atlanta November 14-16. The exclusive invitation-only event in Atlanta drew close to 700 of the industry’s best travel agents and leadership from all travel segments. Colin Weatherhead represented Tempe’s Travel Leaders at the convention.

 “Our Tempe-based clients are by far the biggest beneficiaries of our representation at the Travel Leaders National Meeting, largely because of the wealth of knowledge we’re able to share and contribute, ultimately allowing them to ‘Travel Better,’” noted Chris Weatherhead who serves as Chief Information Manager for the Tempe Travel Leaders. “Not only did the Travel Leaders National Meeting afford the opportunity to learn the very latest innovations within the travel industry – including from the best airlines, cruise lines, hoteliers, tour operators and car rental companies – but it enabled us to get up close and personal with one of America’s most visited cities: Atlanta. Everything learned while on the ground in Atlanta only helps us serve Tempe residents even better.”

This marks the first time the major travel industry convention has convened in Atlanta since its meeting in late 2001. Atlanta is currently ranked as the 17th most popular domestic destination that Travel Leaders travel agents nationally are booking for 2013 – ahead of such popular destinations as Boston, Dallas, New Orleans, Seattle and San Diego.

“Considering the vast number of Tempe residents who fly through Atlanta by virtue of its status as ‘World’s Busiest Airport’ and hub for Delta Air Lines, along with all our customers who make the city a destination for a mix of business and leisure travel, it is essential that we remain knowledgeable about this world-class city and its immense airport,” Weatherhead explained. “Our favorite experience while in Atlanta was visiting the luxurious area of Buckhead.  I enjoyed it because gaining knowledge in luxury travel is what differentiates ourselves from others, and would strongly recommend it to our clients whose travels include Atlanta.”

Travel Leaders of Tempe is affiliated with the national travel powerhouse, Travel Leaders Group – which had sales of approximately $18 billion in 2012.  Travel Leaders Group is a leader in both the retail travel agency space and corporate travel, and it consistently ranks as one of the top travel companies nationwide. “Travel Better” by visiting the experienced travel agent experts at the Travel Leaders location at 414 South Mill Avenue or online at ytc.com or simply call 480.496.0160.

Apple Vacations Platinum Agency Retreat 2013 June 1-4, 2013 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Apple Vacations Platinum Agency Retreat 2013 June 1-4, 2013
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

 Sat.  – June 1

I left on Frontier at 6:45 AM for our 3 hour flight to Denver and it left on time.  Frontier plane was comfortable.  They do give earphones if you are choosing to purchase the TV access.   Mileage members get free access with their card, but I was not sure what status you had to be.   In Denver we had a 3 hour layover and arriving that early in the morning there were not many people yet.  We ate breakfast on the 2nd level at the Mesa Verde and it was very good.  It was quiet up here and I saw people napping already at that hour.

We arrived into Puerto Vallarta and met our group in the customs/immigrations line.  We took a shuttle bus to Secrets Vallarta Bay.  Nice lobby and they had desks set up for the group to check in.  Upon check-in we were offered the opportunity to schedule a 0:30 minute spa treatment (compliments of Apple and hotel as part of the Platinum retreat).  Our room number was 1511 (5th floor in building #1 number 11) and it was beautiful.  It was a large room with 2 beds, a big Jacuzzi tub, 2 sinks, and curtains around the bathroom area for privacy if needed.  There shower had frosted glass around it with a rain shower and normal handheld option too.   Our room had a view of the pool & ocean.   We were provided with a bottle of wine & fruit.  Drinks (mini-bar) were replenished every other day.  Once we settled into the room we went exploring the property for a while before the cocktail party.   Secrets Vallarta Bay is connected with limited access to the Now Amber.    Secrets is adult only & Now Amber is for everyone, making this a good resort for a destination wedding that wanted adult only but have the need for families with children.   With the connection in the front you could walk into either the Now or Secrets lobby otherwise the only other way to get to Now Amber was via the beach.   The beach had many rocks piled up on our side (looked like the tide washed them all up) so that was a bit disappointing.   The properties offered water sports activities like water trampoline, water inflatable mtn. climbing, and others.   You could also access motorized water sports at additional charge.   There seemed to be a lifeguard stand on the beach too.   There were vendors on the beach, but they seemed fairly quiet and had to stay behind an area of the beach unless a guest wanted to see some of their wares.  Secrets had some swim out pool rooms, 2 pools (main & activity) and 2 jacuzzi pools.  Plus, a swim up pool bar.  You were able to use the restaurants (no reservations required) at the Now facility.  Both properties have a few gift shops (some higher end) in them, the nightclub is on the Now Amber side and the spa is on Secrets.   There was an Apple Vacations welcome cocktail party along the pool/beach area and then we were able to eat at any of the restaurants, which we chose Capers Italian.   It was very pretty.  They gave a small appetizer of spinach quiche.   I also tried the sea food risotto and it was very good (rich).

The hotel property is gated and security seemed fairly good.

Sun. – June 2

Had breakfast at the market café buffet and it was a nice spread.  Next Connie & I were confirmed on the Vallarta Adventures dolphin signature swim which the shuttle left at 9 AM.   The facility is in the Riviera Vallarta area about 20 minute rides.    The facility had pool areas for the dolphins (looked like a swimming pool) and where the activities would take place.  We had two dolphins and I liked that one dolphin was busy with an individual and the other stayed with the group to pet.  The dolphin that I danced with was named Nouba.   We danced, kissed, got to be pulled hanging on to the dorsal fin, and then got a belly ride too.   We were in the water about 1 ½ hours.  This was a different experience than the dolphins I swam with in the Bahamas (more natural setting).   When we got back to the hotel we at the Oceana restaurant.  I tried jicaima (looks like sliced potato) and it was good plus ate fish tacos (ok) and empanadas.  We sat at the beach for a little while but it got a little cooler.   Then we were transferred as a group to the Dreams Villamagna (Riviera Vallarta area) for dinner and a show.   The hotel itself seemed fairly plain; however as we rounded the bend to the outdoor event; the beach and grounds were spectacular.  The private event was excellent from the decor to the entertainment at the end of the evening.   We ate outside along the pool area and it was very pretty.   They had an ice bar (made themselves by stacking blocks of ice) which melted quite quickly.

Mon. – June 3

Connie and I went on the site inspections.

Occidental Grand Nuevo Vallarta –

  •  Royal club has full room service while others have continental room service
  • 21 years old and renovated in 2011
  • Minibar is refilled every other day unless in royal club then done everyday
  • Al a carte restaurant reservations can be done at any time.   Apple vacation customers get 1 Royal club dinner and they were wristband
  • No 6 or 7 floor because this is the Royal club Suite.    Cost is $55 per night to upgrade to Royal club.
  • Wide beach
  • 39 royal club rooms, 4 suites, 4 master suites, and of these rooms 101 have double beds.  Total 269 rooms
  • Difference between Royal club rooms and regular are that the Royal club has the home theater, alarm clock DVD player.
  • No balconies in the hotel except for the lowest floors that have little patios
  • Italian restaurant is called Los Olivas.  Sounds like Apple vacation customers get unlimited access but others get 1 reservation
  • Offer kayaks, boogie boards, and more
  • Kids club for ages 4-12 years old.  Small theatre and small gym

Marival Residences (all-inclusive)

  •  Have disco here
  • Penthouse rooms on the top floor and it’s a 2 bedroom suite.  Has a kitchen and washer/dryer.
  • No swim-up bar
  • 1 block to the beach
  • There is a spa, Deli shop, and Japanese restaurant on property but these are not included in the cost.  These are in the Plaza area
  • They have an adult only Jacuzzi
  • 4 cabanas that are first come first serve
  • Has a zero entry walking area (it didn’t go into the full pool)  & splash area and small kids playground
  • Open 3 ½ years with 169 residences and considered intimate upscale
  • 1 bedroom suite has 1400 sq. feet and the largest room has 3900 sq. feet
  • $125 per person can have a private chef come into the room and cook (dining experience).
  • Unlimited golf fees but mandatory caddies (about $59) at the Vista, Marina, Flamingo, & 1 other golf course
  • Get 1 tour per person per stay at the property and then additional tours are $30 per person.  Unless the sunset sail this is $40.  They said the dolphin swim was $30 too
  • No minimum of rooms for the FREE wedding (value worth $2500).  There is a doctor’s office on site
  • Free nanny up to 8 hours (has to be done in 1 time shot) if staying 5 nights or longer
  • For travel agents:  After the 1st booking you get 3 nights for free for 2 people plus there is a cash back bonus
  • Swimmable beach is at the Marival (the sister property) and there are large golf carts that take you to the beach club (5 minutes).    This would the disadvantage…..not directly on beach.    But remember if you are on a large property it could take you up to 15 minutes to walk to the beach

Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort

  • First all-inclusive Hilton in Mexico
  • Opened in 2012 (new) – used to be the Krystal
  • 24 hour room service but there is a charge (like $7)
  • Le Dulce French & La Catrina Mexican are al a carte restaurants and there are no limits to the reservations.  Fireside buffet (very elegant inside decor)
  • Family pool area
  • Rooms have balconies or patios, some with Jacuzzi and some with swim outs
  • Calmer water here
  • Big gym for workouts but no instructors

Nuevo Vallarta (like town) is an area in the Riviera Narita

On June 3rd there was an Apple vacation sales meeting that offered a panel discussion.  Mark Mann (VP Apple Vacation, John Tarkowski, Matt Mullen (AMResorts) were on the panel.   Luis with Amstar spoke about the Apple vacations relationship for tours & transfers.    Here are some things that I learned…

AMResorts

  •  AMResorts offers brands: Zoetry, Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Now, & Sunscape
  • Secrets Vine opened in Aug. 2012 and has been very successful.  This property offers the most beachfront rooms
  • Sunscape Curacao – offers a complimentary shuttle to downtown.  On best beach in Curacao (1500 sq. ft).  4 al a carte restaurants
  • Secrets Aura Cozumel is 15-20 minutes from downtown with 178 suites.  Luxury adult only.  Most of the bottom rooms are swim out
  • Sunscape Sabor Cozumel just opened (renovations) and offers unlimited fun
  • December 2013 Secrets Puerto Los Cabos will open and be 10 minutes East of San Jose.  500 suites ocean/beachfront.   Property is beachfront
  • Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica – 2 hours from Liberia and scheduled to open end of 2014.
  • Breathless Resorts & Spas – adult only oceanfront resorts.  Sleek & modern.  Unlimited passion but not like hedonism.  Entertaining/activity.  Driven activity – hip bars – lively nightlife – singles

Breathless Punta Cana – 750 suites on the North side.   613 sq. ft.  for the Allure suites.  Opulence Club jr. suites (special perks & privileges)

  • AMRagents.com   become a master agent
  • Sip Savor & see dining experiences.
  • Zoetry can eat at any resort.  Secrets & Breathless can go to Now and Sunscape.  Now can eat at Sunscapes.  Sunscape can only eat at Sunscapes resorts
  • ****NEW****unlimited connectivity – free wifi and can call home (USA)
  • 31 hotels now and plan to have 40 by 2015.  Now Pearl PVR & Breathless Riviera Maya

Amstar

  • Are in Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and coming soon to Hawaii
  • Been in business 22 years
  • Apple Leisure group –  sister company with AMResorts

Other

  • Apple purchased Travel Impressions and should be complete by 6/31/13.
  • Jan. 2013 Bain Capital invested in the Apple Leisure Group
  • Charter product is growing more:  MSP/DFW to Liberia  & PVR; LAX to Huatulco; Fall MSP to PUJ.   2014 Denver to MBJ; JFK to CUN, LIB, MBJ, CABO, PUJ
  • Lower deposits on published air – $150-$200
  • Seat selection for F9 & AS (offered now but at additional costs $9-$25).   I don’t remember what they said about the Air Tran seats
  • 4.0 access (web bookings) – now can book chargers outside 370 days of travel
  • 24/7 after hours for emergencies (855-572-9893)
  • Trip TV (videos) has 441 videos.  Have excursion videos now too.   Can get thru dimension portal.  Going to be put in Apple Café so they will be easier to find

That evening was the Gala (held in a NOW Amber ballroom).  The event was very nice; food excellent and the evening entertainment included a 4-part live performance that included music and acrobatics similar to a cirque de soleil event.  If you are planning a function at any of these resorts, there is a variety of performances outside the room that will delight and entertain your audiences.

Tues. – June 4

We took our time getting ready because our flight is at 4:20 PM.  We met Susan    , our Apple vacations representative, had breakfast and then 4 of us grabbed a taxi and went to the old town Puerto Vallarta to walk and shop.  We stopped at the church of Guadeloupe.

Then we went back to the hotel ate lunch and then was picked up for our 1:50 PM shuttle transfer.  Customs went very quickly because there wasn’t anyone in line.

-Connie Miller
http://www.ytc.com

Clouds and Cloudberries

IMG_0482 We all generally have expectations of a part of the world we have not visited before, gleaned from our school geography classes, documentaries, postcards received or just simple imaginings. I was absolutely certain about what to expect on the west coast of Norway in July; a bright blue sky, views from the deep fiords of towering mountains capped still with a little snow, gleaming glaciers and of course the midnight sun.  On arriving in Geiranger, our first port of call in Norway, I was stunned by the drama of the landscape……yes, here they were, the mountains towering high above the fiords and the diminutive town sitting on the tiny piece of flat land available. IMG_0518 We drive to a number of spots in the area navigating many hairpin bends, Mt. Dalsnibba being the highest point and because it was only slightly cloudy, we really did see the Norway we were expecting. IMG_0650 After this relatively successful weather day, things took a slight turn for the worse. One of the highlights of Honninsvag in the far north of Norway, is visiting the North Cape and it was definitely a spectacular spot, but boy was I glad to be wearing thermals under my fleecy pants and a hooded down jacket with a wind proof rain jacket on top.
IMG_0627A quick sprint to the edge of the cliff, some hasty photography and then back into the Nordcapp center for the movie and serious troll shopping! I should add that the area reminded me very much of north west Scotland and Honningsvag is a delightful small town, like a tiny Oban.
IMG_3609At this point let me mention the midnight sun or lack thereof. Sure it was light ALL night and at times the vistas were beautiful, especially seeing the North Cape area from the ocean, but we only caught mere glimpses of the odd ray of sun desperately trying to peek from behind the clouds and fog. I had expected to actually see the sun at midnight.
IMG_3600 Instead I was treated to days and nights blended as one into many shades of gray which I began to realize had their own special beauty: swirling clouds, wispy strands of mist and fog, dark silhouettes of the tall mountains and cliffs, and the ever changing hues of the choppy ocean and the lake like deep fiords. We visited a number of spots on the coast of Norway, all exhibiting their own special character and landscape: bleak tundra, verdant forest, emerald green pastures, abundant wild flowers, sheer rock faces and waterfalls cascading from precipitous heights.
IMG_0568IMG_0788As we sailed we could see colorful homes scattered by the fiords on flatter land cocooned between the deep waters and the steep mountain sides.
IMG_0674 IMG_0587
The towns here mostly dominated by the fishing industry and to some extent, tourism, are wonderful to stroll around and enjoy, with their colorful houses and quaint streets.
IMG_0758I loved the way many people decorate their windows with a hanging lamp, flowers and other pretty items. From seeing the splendid views in the Geiranger area when the clouds had just cleared, to spotting some bright cloudberries nestled in the grass we certainly obtained a good overview of this part of the world.
IMG_0764 If the skies had been clearer I would have seen that famous midnight sun but would I have observed so much? Perhaps I would have been so absorbed by the immense views and high peaks that I might have missed the subtle details of my surroundings and instead of spotting the cloudberries I might have squished them beneath my unsuspecting feet.

Your Travel Center Loreto, Mexico Review

Your Travel Center Hosted a VIP FAM Trip to Loreto Mexico hosted by The Villa Del Palmar at the Islands in Loreto from June 26-29th

Photos of the resort 

Photos of Loreto, Mexico

Agents attending were a mix of IC’s, Partner Agencies MVT and YTC office employeesand Management.

Those attending:

  1. Robin Sanchez
  2. Patty Eriksson
  3. Mary Emrich
  4. Judi Walker
  5. Jane Scarcello
  6. Roselie Kellogg
  7. Brandon Perkins
  8. Jill Robbins
  9. Csilla Takas
  10. Karen Ensign

 Loreto in the Sea of Cortez

Alaska Airlines flew us non-stop from Los Angeles to Loreto and the flight was on time and very pleasurable. Free drinks were served on this two hour flight which truly surprised me.

The flight was very smooth and upon arrival in Loreto we were greeted by our tour guide who took our bags and loaded them on the van right outside the terminal and drove us to The Villa Del Palmar Resort about a 45 minute drive from the airport. This property is set on 1800 acres all suite resort with excellent service, style and warm hospitality. Upon arrival our group was greeted with cold towels, and refreshments to cool us down.

The highlight of the trip was when I was escorted to my one-bedroom suite fully equipped with full kitchen, sunken Jacuzzi tub, two full showers and washer and dryer and full sea and pool view on my double balcony. All meals were included with full open bar. The presentation of the meal was totally relaxing and unrushed. The meals were hosted by the main managers of the hotel and they were very informative of all the hotel has to offer.

Sightseeing was also provided to our group each day and two hotel inspections. We did a boat excursion to the outer islands of Loreto with excellent snorkeling on the reefs.

To my amazement a free 25 minute spa treatment was given to each of us in their fully equipped fitness center/full –service health spa. I took advantage of that amenity on the last day before we were driven back to the airport at 11:00a.m for our non-stop flight back to Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines. I would highly recommend this property to families looking for simple relaxation and to men who like a fishing weekend get-a-way.

-Rosalie Kellogg

Villa Del Palmar and Loreto, Mexico

The resort at Villa Del Palmar is far enough from the town of Loreto. To be remote, but amazingly all-encompassing for most needs. Upon arrival. To the resort their skilled staff caters to all needs starting with settling in to your. Massive 1 bedroom suite (1,300 sq. ft.)!

Then on to spa, food and activities.The variety of activities is what makes the resort appropriate for all types of vacationers – Sun worshipers can soak up the sun in 1 of 5 pools; active vacationers can kayak, paddle board, fish, hike, Snorkel or scuba right from the property. In the near future, guests will be able to golf next to the property.

Photo: Loreto, Mexico

Loreto, Mexico

Did I mention disco? – about a 4 minute drive from the main building is and intimate dance facility with private DJ. Then, and only, then if your energy is abundant, you can take 1 of 3 scheduled complimentary shuttles into the town of Loreto for the authentic Mexican fishing village experience and shopping.

-Jane Scarcello

The Alaska/Horizon flight LAX to Loreto is about 2 hrs, and it’s good thing because the lavatory is so small it does not have a sink but the two in a row seats on both sides of aircraft is nice.

The Villa Del Palmar resort was really lovely, we had one bedroom suites that were spacious, very nice furnishings, full kitchen for those not on the meal plan or just handy if you wanted to keep snacks, beverages etc. combined clothes washer & dryer, Jacuzzi bathtub, Rain Showers. Awesome View.

It’s located about 30 minutes outside of town, they offer a shuttle and car rental on the property, however if you are a hiker or water/beach person you could easily stay at the resort for a few days without going into town.

The town is very, very clean and feels like Mexico rather than an extension of the U.S. no McDonalds or fast food places, not too populated and lots of activities to choose from, fishing, snorkeling, horseback riding and more. I will have no problem recommending the destination or the resort. Hope to get myself sometime.

-Csilla Takacs

Loreto was a very interesting area to visit. The highlight is certainly being out on the water in the Sea of Cortez – which Jacques Cousteau calls the World’s Aquarium. Having dolphins swim along with our boat was very exciting. This area appeals to divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and anyone wanting to see all the sea life.

The desert terrain was also a highlight for me. The dramatic hills and cacti were beautiful and made a dramatic backdrop for the Villa del Palmar resort. The resort was great – rooms were huge and comfortable. Service was very good, and friendly. Only drawback is the remote location – not for everyone. But it is perfect for people wanting to relax and stay mostly at the location. I would go back.

Thanks for this opportunity. I enjoyed it.

-Mary Emrich, CTC

 

Loreto Fam, Jun 26-29, 2013


Loreto as a destination, advantage for travelers:
• Short flight from LAX, 2.30 hours
• Modern airport, Customs a breeze, unless you get stuck behind someone with a problem. There is only one machine to x-ray luggage and only one Customs official to process travelers through, but as there is only one flight arriving at a time, and not many flights arriving at all, no problema!
• Quiet, laid-back, safe, clean
• Beautiful desert scenery
• Absence of “big box” American stores, no American fast-food restaurants, it feels authentic and foreign, which is how a trip to Mexico should feel
• Reasonable prices in local stores for food and gifts
• 18-hole golf course available at Nopolo
• Great for fishing, whale watching (in season), hiking and getting off the grid!
• Cultural experiences at the missions of Loreto and San Javier; cave paintings near Loreto; proximity to the capital of La Paz for travelers with a rental car
Loreto as a destination, drawbacks for travelers:
• The same things that give Loreto its charm may be a drawback for some travelers. Clients expecting the nightlife and high energy of Cabo, Cancun and PV will find little of this in Loreto.
• Travelers expecting white sand beaches may be disappointed. Beaches in Loreto proper and on the mainland are mostly dark sand and/or pebbles. Guests must travel to the islands of Loreto for white sand beaches.

Villa del Palmar, advantages for travelers:
• New resort, 3 dining options plus room service, beautiful and spacious rooms, nice spa, plenty of non-motorized water-sport options offered in the bay, video and game arcade for kids, disco for adults (open Thurs-Sat only in season), fitness center, business center, tour desk, concierge services, mini-market with food supplies and gifts, transportation services
• Rees Jones-designed golf course to open in 2014 with 9 holes. Completion of full 18-hole course TBA
• Hiking trails on property, great views of the surrounding area. As a weekly hiker, I appreciated this!
Villa del Palmar, disadvantages for travelers:
• The 45-minute drive to the town of Loreto may be a drawback for some travelers, especially fishermen who want to get out at first light, or guests who want to dine in town or shop for the day
• The large main pool is too shallow and therefore not refreshing for people who need to escape the heat. This is a minor complaint, but when it’s 100 degrees outside, guests want a comfortable pool, and the Villa del Palmar may not be able to offer that in the heat of high summer.
• Entrance to the property from the highway is very unimpressive at this point. I’m sure this will change after the golf course is completed, but the sooner VDP can pave the road, do some landscaping on the entrance road, and get rid of the construction equipment that’s very visible on the drive in, the better!

• At a resort of this caliber, a nicer store with local jewelry, pottery, clothing, etc is warranted. The mini-mart is well-stocked with food items for guests with families and kids, but an upscale boutique (or 2 or 3) would be welcome.

-Karen Ensign

La Paz & Loreto Baja Mexico Review

A Report by Rhea Woofter of Your Travel Center & Photos Provided by Lindsay Taylor of Alliance Travel Partners

Ever been to Espiritu Santo Island?  I hadn’t until an invitation from Evelyn St Germain of League Marketing Group was offered.  Five travel consultants from Southern California were invited and hosted by Evelyn, Aeromexico , Costa Baja Resort & Spa and Fun Baja Excursions.  I packed my bag on June 20th for a three day immersion in La Paz Baja California Sur.  

Photo: Mission in Lareto Mexico

Historic Mission Style Building in Mexico

We arrived on Aeromexico’s inaugural non-stop flight, compliments of Mauricio Buitrago in a little over two hour’s flight time.

The aircraft is an Embraer EMJ which seats 88 in coach and 11 in business class.  After passing passport control, Jesus Alvarado of Fun Baja met and transported us to the Costa Baja Resort in a new 9 passenger minivan.  We were greeted by Eduardo Herrera, General Manager, and after check-in, taken to our individual accommodations.

We were invited to a poolside reception hosted by Eduardo, where about 20 travel writers, photographers, local representatives and travel consultants were in attendance.

We got our first taste of the delicious food prepared at Steinbeck Restaurant and the that followed convinced everyone that the food was indeed excellent!  Service was outstanding as well.

Photo: Yummy Gourmet Mexican Cuisine

Yummy Gourmet Mexican Cuisine dinner

Our on-site inspection on Friday was thorough and informative.  The Costa Baja is four stories with hotel room accommodations.  Condos and villas are located throughout the property as well as a beautiful green, Gary Player Signature golf course that opened in 2010.  Rooms are well appointed in earth tones that blend nicely with the surroundings.  Seeing desert landscape with cacti/cactus’s meeting the Sea of Cortez was a first for me.

The Costa Baja has a marina which accommodates smaller boats and large yachts complete with helicopter pads.  The property is not on the beach and a bit spread out but golf carts abound.

Photo: Sunset Sail in Mexico

Sunset Sail in Mexico

On Saturday, Jesus escorted us on a boat ride to the sea lion sanctuary, where anyone who wanted, could snorkel among the sea lions!

Photo: Mexico Fish

A Spiky Blow Fish?

This was incredible because they came so close and didn’t seem to be upset with the humans.   Dolphins followed our wake but unfortunately, no whales to be seen.  Afterwards, we were taken to Espiritu Santo Island where the beach was beautiful, lunch was served, and free time to enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding and swimming.

Photo: Party on the Beach in Mexico

Party on the Beach in Mexico

Saturday night, just the six of us were treated to a wine-paring dinner hosted by the food and wine director, Engelbert (yes, that is his name) Rios.  It began with Mexican sparkling wine which was quite good with a smoky flavor.

Engelbert is a wealth of information and very entertaining.   After dinner, he invited us to tequila taste at Steinbeck’s bar.  There is a “tequila museum” there with hundreds of fine tequilas, some over 100 years old and in various shaped bottles.

Photo: Mexican Mountainside

Mexican Mountainside

La Paz has a certain “innocence” and is a great alternative to Cabo.

People are friendly, and the city is safe and quiet with lots of fresh seafood restaurants.   Great for a short getaway to relax,  and beginning 01JUL13, MLT Vacations will begin selling packages from LAX on Aeromexico’s non-stop flights.

Photo: Old Mexican Bell Tower

Old Mexican Bell Tower

On Sunday, arriving 2 hours before flight time was a fortunate decision.

Everything we carefully packed in our checked luggage was taken out and searched by the TSA’s – clothing, shoes, cosmetics, gifts, etc.  The same procedure occurred once at the gate with our carry-on bags/purses.