The Best Beach Holiday Vacation Destination for 2017: Aruba

Ever dream of sipping fruity cocktails on a white sand beach while working on your perfectly even tan? If you answered yes, that means you’re ready to plan a trip to one of the best beach vacation spots in the world!

Aruba’s main attractions are our beautiful beaches. Visitors from all over the world travel far and wide just to be able to spend some time on Aruba’s world-class white sand beaches and make a splash in the crystal clear turquoise waters.

Ready to make you beach vacation dreams come true?

Keep reading! In this blog post we will help you plan one of the very best Caribbean beach vacations possible.

Read the full article here:

http://www.aruba.com/blog/the-best-beach-holiday-vacation-destination-for-2017-aruba

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Top 10 Romantic Anniversary Trip Ideas

When you have a big anniversary coming up it may be difficult to plan the perfect celebration, especially if you feel pressured to plan one of your most memorable anniversary getaways to date.

It is no secret that Aruba is the most romantic island in the Caribbean. In fact, you may have heard of the One happy island hosting the biggest vow renewal event in the Caribbean on Eagle Beach last summer where over 160 couples renewed their “I Dos”, but we’re well-known for being the island that best stimulates warmth, intimacy and true love.

Aruba brings people closer together with its beautiful sceneries and romantic activities. If you want some help planning a romantic (weekend) getaway to Aruba, then you’ve come to the right spot, because below we’ve listed the top 10 romantic anniversary ideas for the One happy island!

Read the full article here:

http://www.aruba.com/blog/top-10-romantic-anniversary-trip-ideas

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Castle Tours and Stays: Knights to Remember

Who has not been captivated by tales of knights and dragons, of medieval feuds, battles and betrayals? Serving as the backdrop for each of these stories is a castle. Visiting a castle can provide a playground for the imagination, allowing the mind to revel in legend and lore. Walking through grand halls past suits of armor, torches and tapestries, one cannot fathom so many stories embedded in stone. More than a getaway from the stresses of everyday life, castles have the ability to transport visitors to another time.

Castles come in all states of repair. Many are still occupied and many more hang on in some state of ruin. Each has its own personality, calling out to some hidden part of our curiosity about times shrouded in mist. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the spirits of those who occupied the halls of Europe’s castles beckon to us, calling us by name.

This TRO report will provide you with a guide to the realm of castle tours and stays. Use it to begin your research into your castle visit and to work with your travel consultant in planning a vacation suitable for royalty!

The United Kingdom and Ireland are the traditional areas for castle stays and tours. Britain alone has several thousand castles, most constructed in the 11th through 15th centuries. Austria, Spain, Portugal, Germany and France likewise have many amazing properties scattered throughout their many provinces and districts offering both tours and hotel like accommodations.

Central Europe is a quickly growing castle market with highly competitive pricing. In particular, Hungary offers several properties constructed during the Baroque and Rococo periods, as does the Czech Republic and its sister state of Slovenia. If you have a particular destination in mind, ask your travel consultant to investigate the possibility of castle tours and vacations as an alternative to more traditional lodging options!

Castle vacations offer visitors the opportunity to indulge in a tranquil and intriguing escape, not to mention unforgettable scenery. In general, castle vacations fall into two categories: tours and stays. Both types are recommended for travelers of all
ages who have an appreciation for history, culture and beauty. But, a bit of planning is in order to make your castle experience the adventure it should be.

A good travel consultant can help you navigate the maze of castles. There are a number of important considerations, including the types of castle, the choice of rooms inside of the castles, the general condition of the properties and the number of guests permitted. Your travel consultant will inquire with regard to the standards of the tour company and how the company chooses the castles with which it works. For example, far too many tour companies include manor houses in their definition of “castles”, risking the disappointment of their guests. Your travel consultant will make sure that you obtain a match much closer to your preferences and will provide you with pictures of various properties along with a history to ensure that you will be in a castle of the period and age of your preference.

To better ensure an enjoyable stay and a high standard of quality, your travel consultant will choose a tour operator that that specializes in castle stays or at least visits its featured castles regularly. Some tour operators specialize geographically, while others offer castles in a variety of countries. Tour operators can give you the price of a stay, the size of the castle and its grounds, and the number of guests it can accommodate. They can be particularly helpful in arranging a stay if the castle booking system is not computerized, and most are not.

Tours of castles are rewarding trips into the past. Most tours will stay at each castle for at least a few hours, exploring the halls, stairways and grounds. Of course, the time allotted depends on the number of castles visited that day, the traveling time between them, and the castle’s visitation hours. To allow a longer visit your tour operator may try to arrange hotel accommodation nearby, but this is not always feasible in rural areas. Because of the large scale of many properties and their grounds, it is best not to try to squeeze too much viewing into too short a time period. If you time constraints are limited, choose quality over quantity and limit your tours to a few, select properties.

In terms of transportation, remember to be flexible. Though the tour will likely have a timetable, travel delays are common in the countryside. As a passenger, it is best to relax and savor the majestic views.

Remember that the better physical shape you are in for castle exploration, the more enjoyable your experience will be, especially when climbing to the top of a tower or getting lost in a garden labyrinth. Because of their age, castles generally cannot offer superior accommodation to disabled guests. Uneven floors, narrow passages and winding staircases can present particular hindrances. For these reasons, a castle tour that explores castle interiors may not be realistic for persons with certain disabilities. If you or a companion has a disability that might hinder full
enjoyment of a property, let your travel consultant know well in advance. There are some destinations that boast ground floor bedrooms and restaurants, disabled parking and wheelchairs for hire. Some castles have been converted to offer ramps (permanent and removable) and bathrooms with handrails.

Fortunately for we commoners, the high cost of maintaining these vast and elaborate residences has driven many castle owners to extend accommodations to the public. Many castles have been restored, leaving the medieval décor intact while adding modern amenities. Many castles and so-called “castle hotels” offer high-end and even luxurious stays for one night or for weeks on end.

It is possible to obtain exclusive use of a castle property with enough advance notices. “Exclusive use” of a property indicates that you and your party will be the only guests in the castle during your visit, essentially a charter of the entire property. There likely will be minimum stay requirements and charges for such usage, as well as some possible minimal usage of dining and banquet facilities.

So called “self catering” castle stays are those where the property is hired on an “accommodation only” basis. Meals and other services are not a part of the package price, although guests are sometimes provided use of kitchen facilities.

Room sizes for sleeping within castles vary, but in general are characterized by the familiar “double/twin/single/suite” nomenclature. Generally speaking, the better grades of rooms are typically larger with better furnishings and views. Likewise the styling of the bedrooms and beds will vary not only from castle to castle but from room to room. Not every room will have four poster beds and lush tapestries. If you have particular tastes and preferences, make sure to make them clear to your travel consultant well in advance of booking!

Dining is often a highlight of a castle stay. In some instances, not only will you have the opportunity to dine as the royals do, but you may be sitting next to one. Dinner can be an occasion for all guests to dine with the residing duke or lord. If this is the case, be sure to ask your tour operator about dress code. Some tours and stays include all meals while others include only one meal. Others may offer food on an a-la-carte basis. Determine the meal plans offered by the properties in which you are interested and make sure to include the cost of the meals in your final budget calculations.

Many castles have a variety of on site activities which may include horseback riding, fishing, falconry, trekking, cycling and croquet. Some castles even have tennis courts and putting courses. Check to see if advance reservations for these activities are needed. For visiting nearby towns, the castle’s staff may provide car hire. A great many guests hold their weddings at castles. Because this is an area of frequent inquiry, many tour operators have special packages available for wedding parties and ceremonies.

In some instances, castle property management has developed very elaborate tours and even roleplaying games or contests. Many castles have wonderful gardens, some of historical significance. Castle properties sometimes include garden mazes on their grounds. The mazes typically consist of high hedges formed into a walking path that turns in upon itself with many puzzle-like paths and circuits. Most mazes are constructed of hedges, but others are constructed of bricks, logs, concrete and other materials.

Many castles have dress codes for various times of the day or particular activities, while others do not. The dress code varies from castle to castle, but most have relaxed standards for daytime wear with slightly more formal requirements at dinner. Be sure to check in advance to ensure your comfort and conformity with any requirements.

Often situated in the lush countryside, castles are not always easily accessible by public transportation. Consequently, hiring a car is often a good option, and can be arranged by your travel consultant. Car access also enables you to visit nearby towns and attractions. Remember to map out your journey beforehand and be prepared for slow and bumpy country roads.

As many castles have narrow staircases and elevators are few, smaller luggage is advisable. If you are going on a castle tour, there may be an extra charge for bringing additional luggage. You will also want to find out if your destination offers log fires or central heating, and pack according to your destination and season. As usual, pack only what you need. You do not really want to carry more that you must, and there will almost always be more than ample opportunity for shopping along the way!

What child wouldn’t jump at the chance to live like a prince or princess, to slay imaginary dragons on the castle grounds, or let down fantastical hair from an actual tower? Castles indulge children’s fantasies as well as those of adults. Though not all castles are child-friendly, many will accommodate young ones. Your tour operator should be able to tell you which sites have designated family rooms, interconnecting rooms and/or rollaway beds. Certain castles also provide play areas, children’s menus and early dining hours. Those properties that are chid friendy vary with the minimal acceptable age, so be sure to check if your party includes persons less than 18 years of age. As previously noted, make sure that the properties you visit will accommodate any physical limitations of members of your party.

The cost of a tour or a castle stay varies widely with the country in which the property in located and the special amenities each property offers. As your travel consultant develops your itinerary, make sure to provide your optimal budget to ensure the final costs are in line with your expectations. Accommodations and castle entry fees are usually included in the price of the tour; airline tickets are not. Your travel agent can find the best possible air values given your destination and season of travel. Many tour packages include breakfast and dinner in the itinerary. In general, you will need money to pay for lunches, snacks, drinks and of course, shopping.

When pricing your stay, remember to take into consideration any Value Added Tax (VAT) levied by many countries in Europe and elsewhere. Because VAT is often as high as 20% of the cost of an accommodation or good purchased, the amount is often not insignificant! Many travelers assume that VAT is refundable. However, this is typically not the case for services such as transportation, accommodation, food, gas or any other goods or services consumed within the country itself. Ensure that the price you are quoted includes all taxes and other fees.

Castles are the stuff of dreams. Fulfill yours today!

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Aruba’s Black Friday Deals – Cyber Monday Vacation Packages 2017

The holidays are coming up fast and the weather is colder every day; now is the time to start looking for Black Friday travel deals! A Caribbean getaway is the only remedy to those winter blues, and since Aruba has the sunniest days in the Caribbean the only logical next step is to book your Aruba trip. The perfect weather is not the only reason why Aruba is the #1 vacation destination. Our pristine white sand beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. Traveling to Aruba is a breeze with the multitude of direct flights headed here. Speaking of breezes, the trade winds are constantly blowing to keep you cool and comfortable, so there really is great weather all-year round. But if you are looking for a discount, the best time to book is NOW; check out our top Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals, to get your dream vacation going!

Read the full article here:

http://www.aruba.com/blog/aruba-black-friday-deals-cyber-monday-vacation-packages-2017

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Thailand: 5 Travel Hacks

By Aly Shirley 

Thailand has made its way onto many travelers’ destination lists and it’s no surprise why! Before you make your way to the Land of Smiles, here are 5 travel tips for venturing through Thailand:

Read the full article here:

http://blog.avantidestinations.com/blog/five-travel-hacks-for-thailand

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Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort & Spa in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

All deals include taxes/fees and end 11/22!

 

Grand Sunset Princess All Suites Resort & Spa

in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

 

What’s Included:

Hotel/Airfare/Round Trip transfers

24-hour All-Inclusive

9 restaurants (7 a la carte, 2 buffet)/snack bar/nine bars

12 pools (8 for adults/4 for children)

Air and Hotel Taxes are included in the total package price

 

Rockford International Airport – Cancun via Swift Airlines

7nts $929            (WE/FR) Jan 12, 19, 24

7nts $949             (FR/SA) Jan 6, 26, 27

7nts $1079           (WE) Feb 21, 28 Mar 7, 14

Chicago International Airport – Cancun via Frontier Airlines

3nts $549             (SU-TU) Jan 7 – 30

3nts $579             (WE-FR) Jan 11, 12, 17 – 19, 24, 26, 27

4nts $649             (SU/MO) Jan 7 – 29

7nts $899             (MO-TH) Jan 8-11, 15-18, 22-24

7nts $929             (TH-SU) Jan 7, 12, 14, 19, 20, 21, 25

7nts $949             (TH-SU) Jan 4, 5, 13, 26-28

7nts $1029           (MO-TH) Feb 21, 26 – 28 Mar 1, 5-7

 

Milwaukee International Airport – Cancun via Swift Airlines

4nts $679             (MO/SU) Jan 14, 21, 22, 28, 29

7nts $929            (MO/WE/TH/SU) Jan 3, 7, 15, 17, 18, 22 ,25

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Book your Royal Caribbean Cruise by December 8, 2017, and Receive up to THREE Great Offers!

 

 

Book your Royal Caribbean cruise by December 8, 2017, and receive up to THREE great offers!*

  1. Buy One Guest, Get Second Guest 50% Off
  2. Receive up to $100 Onboard Credit
  3. Receive a FREE Specialty Dining Credit!

Contact our agency today for more information! Hurry, this offer ends soon!

†Sailings 5 Nights or Less: Interior/Oceanview receive $25 per stateroom, Balcony/Suite receive $50 per stateroom; Sailings 6 Nights or Longer: Interior/Oceanview receive $50 per stateroom, Balcony/Suite receive $100 per stateroom. ‡Up to a $65 value, valid for Balcony stateroom category or higher on sailings
7 nights or longer on Oasis of the Seas®, Allure of the Seas®, Harmony of the Seas®, or Anthem of the Seas®. Book by December 8, 2017.

FEATURED SAILINGS

8-Night Bahamas Cruise

Bahamas Cruise
Roundtrip from Cape Liberty, New Jersey on Anthem of the Seas®

Inside Stateroom from only $662* | February 9, 2018
Other dates and categories are available at varying prices.

Itinerary includes: Cape Liberty, New Jersey; Orlando (Port Canaveral), Florida; CocoCay, Bahamas; Nassau, Bahamas; Cape Liberty, New Jersey

7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise

Western Caribbean Cruise
Roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale on Allure of the Seas®

Inside from only $869* | March 25, 2018

Other dates and categories are available at varying prices.

Itinerary includes: Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; Fort Lauderdale, Florida

7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise

Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Harmony of the Seas®

Inside from only $959* | August 4, 2018

Other dates and categories are available at varying prices.

Itinerary includes: Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Labadee, Haiti; Fort Lauderdale, Florida

7-Night Western Mediterranean Cruise

Western Mediterranean Cruise
Roundtrip from Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy on Symphony of the Seas®

Inside from only $1381* | July 15, 2018

Other dates and categories are available at varying prices.

Itinerary includes: Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy; Naples (Capri), Italy; Barcelona, Spain; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Provence (Marseilles), France;  Florence/Pisa (La Spezia), Italy; Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

*Non-refundable deposit booking (“NRDB”) cancelled prior to final payment due date will receive a future cruise credit in the amount of the deposit minus a $100 per person service fee (“FCC”). FCC is non-transferable and expires after 12-months from issue date. $100 per person service fee applies to changes to NRDB ship or sail date. Deposits made toward Guarantees and Grand Suites and higher categories are non-refundable and are subject to NRD Booking Terms. Cruise must be booked between November 1, 2017 through December8, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST the “Offer Period”. Offer applies to sailings departing on or after December 1, 2017. Offer includes 50% of cruise fare of second guest who must be booked in the same stateroom as a first guest who books at full fare (“BOGO”). Offer also includes 25% cruise fare savings for 3rd guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests. Deck the Holidays Deals Offer provides onboard credit for guests who book a holiday sailing departing from December 19, 2017 through December 31, 2017 and December 18, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Offer includes an onboard credit determined by category booked and sailing length: $25 to spend onboard for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5-nights or less, $50 to spend onboard for Balcony and Suite on sailings 5-nights or less, $50 to spend onboard for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6-nights or longer and $100 to spend onboard for Balcony and $150 to spend onboard for Suite on sailings 6-nights or longer. Additionally, booking made during Double Up Sale (November 1-5, 2017) provides onboard credit and instant savings. The amount is determined by category booked and sailing length: $25 of instant savings and $25 of onboard credit for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 5-nights or less, $50 of instant savings and $50 of onboard credit for Balcony on sailings 5-nights or less, $75 of instant savings and $75 of onboard credit for Suite on sailings 5-nights or less, $25 of instant savings and $25 of onboard credit for Interior and Ocean View on sailings 6-nights or longer, $75 of instant savings and $75 of onboard credit for Balcony on sailings 6-nights or longer, $200 of instant savings and $100 of onboard credit for Suite on sailings 6-nights or longer. Deck the Holidays and Double Up Sale Offers exclude China departures. NRDB that are booked six months or more prior to the cruise departure date are eligible to receive a per stateroom onboard credit (“OBC”) in the following amount: for sailings 5-nights and less, $25 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, and $50 OBC for Balcony and Suite; and for sailings of 6-nights and longer, $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $100 OBC for Balcony and Suite. OBC is in USD, has no cash value, is non-transferable, not redeemable for cash, and will expire if not used by 10:00 p.m. on the last evening of the cruise. Offer excludes China departures. All other charges, including, but not limited to, taxes, fees and port expenses, are additional and apply to all guests. BOGO does not apply to third and higher occupancy guests.BOGO Offer is combinable with NRDB OBC, promotional OBCs and instant savings, NextCruise Offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefi ts. Deck the Holidays and Double Up Sale are combinable with NextCruise Offers, NRDB OBC, and restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but is not combinable with Shareholder benefi ts and Crown and Anchor discounts. BOGO50 bookings made for China departures are combinable with NextCruise Offers and Crown and Anchor balcony/suites discounts only. All Offers are not combinable with any other Offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates. After the Offer Period, the Offer will be removed from the booking if the guest cancels and reinstates the booking or rebooks into a new booking on the same ship and sail date, applies a fare change, or changes the ship or sail date of the booking; certain other changes to the booking may also result in removal of the Offer. Offer applies to new, individual and named group bookings confi rmed at prevailing rates. Individual reservations may be transferred into an existing group, assuming required criteria are met, though full deposit will be required at time of transfer. Failure to apply the required full deposit amount may result in the cancellation of the booking. Single occupancy guests paying 200% cruise fare are eligible for full amount of Offer; single occupancy guests paying less than 200% cruise fare are eligible for a prorated amount of the Offer. Offer available to residents of United States and Canada. Prices and Offer are subject to availability and change without notice, capacity controlled, and may be withdrawn at any time. Refer to www.RoyalCaribbean.com for complete terms and conditions. Royal Caribbean International reserves the right to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions and to change or update fares, fees and surcharges at any time without prior notice. ©2017 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Ships’ registry: Bahamas. 17059185 • 10/24/2017

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Switzerland Scenery

By Megan Ball 

Switzerland is one of those special places where I just don’t know enough words to properly describe how beautiful and wonderful a country it is. On my last trip to Switzerland I was brought to tears at the beauty of the Verzasca Valley and actually said out loud “I don’t understand how this place is even real” whilst taking in the view from atop Mt. Stanserhorn in the Lake Lucerne region. The scenery is stunning, the air is clean, the food is delicious – I could go on and on, and these words don’t even do the country justice to how truly magnificent a destination it really is. Switzerland is a great choice for independent travelers due to its efficient and easy-to-use public transportation system, as well as its great diversity. In one country you can areas that are distinctly different from one another in their language, scenery, architecture, and food. I am so excited to give you a sneak peek at three new Regional Highlights we’ll be offering in 2018 that highlight the diversity of Switzerland.

Read the full article here:

https://goo.gl/teFrrs

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10 Reasons To Use A Travel Agent In 2017

By Cheryl Rosen 

In this season for giving thanks, we at Travel Market Report want to thank all the professional, smart, caring travel professionals who have supported and befriended us this past year.

In their honor, we bring you 10 reasons why you should always use a professional travel agent—and this year more than ever.

Read the full article here:

http://www.travelmarketreport.com/articles/10-Reasons-To-Use-A-Travel-Agent-In-2017?platform=hootsuite

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