Archive for the ‘caribbean travel’ Category

Best Destinations for Ecotourism

Montserrat Volcano

Montserrat Volcano

Ecotourism is no longer trend that started in the 90’s to describe responsible travel to largely untouched areas. Now, it has largely realized its aim by creating an industry of conservation that offers clear benefits to the local community.  Recently, it’s become even more popular as traveler demand has driven a desire for destinations that are eco-friendly and modeled after sustainable practices. Plus, there’s nature and for those who can afford it, they want to escape. These destinations also often offer a bit more in terms of cultural activities and a means to learn more about the soul enriching ways of a local community.

With this in mind, we’re featuring three destinations that inspire: Montserrat, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica –  with unspoiled beaches, uninhabited areas, and archeological sites that can only be accessed by hiking, biking or kayaking.

Lime Tree Cottage 1

Lime Tree Cottage – Montserrat

MONTSERRAT

With its mountainous terrain, hiking the trails on Montserrat is the best way to see the untouched areas of the island. Additionally, diving excursions allow visitors the unique opportunity to see beautiful volcanic rock formations and vibrant marine life that now thrives after the 1995 eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano.

Montserrat’s villas offer prime accommodations for couples, families, friends and even colleagues who long for an affordable upmarket Caribbean getaway with all the amenities of home. The secluded destination provide visitors with the ideal opportunity to experience a traditional Caribbean vacation in tranquil surroundings and away from large chain resorts, crowded beaches and traffic-jammed streets.

Most of the villas offer airport and ferry transfers, car rentals, stocked kitchens, housekeepers, baby-sitting services, cooks, and  villa-specific organized activities during your stay.

http://www.visitmontserrat.com/villas/

Rates start @USD $1,000/per week

From mid-April through mid-November for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom villa with a housekeeper, swimming pool, wet bar, wireless internet, washer and dryer. These villas are perfect for visitors looking to immerse in Montserrat’s volcano-viewing experience (considered a modern-day Pompeii), rich Irish heritage, bird-watching, hiking trails, aquatic adventures and more.

Argyle Waterfall_Main Ridge Rainforest

Argyle Waterfall – Trinidad & Tobago

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Unlike its Caribbean counterparts, Trinidad & Tobago’s biodiversity is most similar to that of Venezuela. The best way to see its local flora and fauna is by hiking through its many trails, especially the Northern Mountain Range of Trinidad that was once attached to South America and the Main Ridge Rainforest in Tobago, the oldest protected reserve in the western hemisphere. The underwater scenery in Tobago is just as spectacular as it boasts more than 300 different species of coral, especially the largest brain coral in the world.

brain coral - credit Oswin Browne.jpg

Brain Coral (c) Oswin Browne

Acajou Hotel, Trinidad

This small, eco-friendly, family run hotel is situated in a little fishing village called Grande Riviere located on the beautiful and dramatic northern Coast of Trinidad. Flanked by the wide expanse of vegetation on the steep hills of the Northern range, Acajou (the French for ‘tropical wood’) offers travelers the opportunity to be one with nature, view it’s beauty in its simple majesty, rest to the soothing rhythms of the ocean, meditate on its treasures or simply have a unique candlelight dinner. The hotel is built as a group of traditional cottages nestled between the beach, a crystal clear river and mountains covered by lush rainforest. Influenced by Indonesian, Polynesian and Japanese architecture, the cabins are made of local and imported woods, including bamboo and are designed to create a feeling of complete privacy.

www.acajoutrinidad.com or call 868.670.3771

Asa Wright Nature Center Lodge, Trinidad

The original estate house of the former coffee-cocoa-citrus plantation has been beautifully remodeled over the years as a comfortable headquarters where guests gather to watch the incredible bird-life from the fabled verandah. Your observation time there is punctuated by a high tea in the afternoon and ends with a traditional complimentary rum punch cocktail as the sun sets over the Arima Valley. This main house and its several cottages nestled nearby in the lush flower-filled grounds are your home for one of the world’s best birding adventures. Not your classic Caribbean resort, the Centre’s “swimming pool” is a natural grotto on a free-running rain forest stream where guests can relax and escape from the tropical heat. All of the cottages feature rooms with private verandahs and guests can also retreat to their private oasis to observe the brilliantly colored birds found on the Centre grounds.

www.asawright.org

Cuffie River Nature Retreat and Ecolodge, Tobago

Located on the island of Tobago, this small yet intimate lodge is equipped with ten rooms, two of which are executive suites. Each has been tastefully furnished with private balcony. The design of the building has been carefully chosen to facilitate natural lights and air currents. Low wattage bulbs and solar lighting are also used throughout the grounds.  Conservation of water is of great importance given that the property uses rain and spring fed systems and successful practices have included short flushing toilets, rationalized washing and towel changes only when indicated by guests. To further maintain its natural ambiance smooth faced clay blocks and tile are used while furniture and other fixtures are all made from locally manufactured products. The lodge is situated on the edge of Tobago’s forest-the oldest in the western hemisphere. It is surrounded by bamboo groves, fresh water springs, exotic flowers and wildlife.

www.cuffieriver.com or call 868.660.0505

Footprints Eco Resort and Spa, Tobago

This 62-acre property is a designated nature preserve with hiking and bird watching trails galore. With the use of materials such as teak, wallaba slabs, and native recycled hardwood the resort has maximized the consumption of local, yet natural building materials. All rooms are equipped with solar water heaters, gas stoves and photovoltaic lighting. The hotel grows fresh organic herbs and vegetables throughout the property and prepares breads, ice creams, cakes, sauces, and even condiments, fresh daily. Surrounded by the virtually untouched Culloden Reef that begins a few feet from the shoreline of the property and is available for guests to snorkel and scuba dive, the resort offers the comfort of a modern hotel in a purely natural setting.

http://footprintsecoresort.com 

Footprints also makes properties as environmentally sensitive, and in connection with our environment, as possible by:

• Using traditional architecture, and reclaimed, recycled and local materials to a maximum

• Waste management  for grey water, runoff water, sewerage waste, and solid waste

• Fresh water conservation measures including sea water pools

• Kitchen waste and yard waste composting to reduce solid waste and provide organic fertilizer for gardens

• In-house organic garden produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, chicken, and honey for restaurant use to reduce food miles

• Bird and butterfly gardens with local wildflowers, fruit, food, and forest trees to attract wildlife and support the recovery of beneficial insects, such as butterflies and honeybees

• Support for local fishermen and farmers by showcasing local ingredients and traditional cuisine.

As they say, “Food shares the story of our culture through a medium that everyone can enjoy.”

Kariwak Holistic Haven Hotel, Tobago

A holistic haven and hotel, Kariwak Village has carved a distinctive niche with its award winning 2 acre garden bursting with tropical shrubs, foliage and flowering trees filled with bird song, dominated by the thatched roof ajoupa and its teak floor … the venue for Tai Chi, yoga, gentle stretching exercises, Buddhist meditation sessions and similar holistic activities. The Kariwak kitchen is supplied with abundant fresh herbs from the garden, those same herbs are lovingly transformed into delicious Caribbean meals which are served with a friendly smile in the open air restaurant.

www.kariwak.com or call 868.639.8442

Diving in Costa Rica

Diving in Costa Rica

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica’s ecotourism is one that enthusiasts cannot miss, featuring lush forests, thriving ecosystems and breathtaking waterfalls only accessible by foot. Just like Montserrat, Costa Rica has underwater volcanic rock formations which are home to various species of fish, rays, turtles and white-tip reef sharks alongside vibrant coral reefs.

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of Costa Rica’s tourism industry. For that reason, the Costa Rica Tourism Board introduced the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program in 1997. This program differentiates businesses of the tourism sector based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural, social and economic resource management. Visitors who choose to visit CST designated tourism companies such as hotels, tour operators and car rental companies support businesses that take proactive measures to avoid the negative impacts on the environment, culture and society. There are currently 346 hotel, tour operators, car rental agencies and theme parks certified under the program here, so check it out!

http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/sostenibilidad.asp?tab=0

The Only Major Resort in the Caribbean to Use Solar to Replace Their Energy Consumption

The View Ain't Too Shabby Either

The View Ain’t Too Shabby Either

We could use a Caribbean vacay right about now and we’re particularly fond of eco-friendly resort options like The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa, St. Maarten too. Not only the first Westin hotel or resort in the world, but also the only major resort in the Caribbean to complete and utilize solar panels to replace its energy consumption throughout the resort. Can you believe that? Namely, that it’s the only major resort doing this in a such an ideal location. Get with the program, hoteliers! This game changing move allows the resort to produce six to eight hours of its own power during peak times.

Installing the panels

Workers Install Solar Panels at The Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa

In fact, the resort began taking advantage of the island’s abundance of sunshine in 2007 with the installation of solar panels to heat the water used in the property’s guest rooms. The resort’s owner, Columbia Sussex Corporation, working with OneWorld Sustainable, completed the installation of 2,602 Lightway solar panels for a total system capacity of 755 kilowatts.

The completed solar system will produce approximately 1,223,000 Kilowatt hours per year. This is enough electricity to power – get this – 111 average sized American homes. The system will avoid 1.9 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions or the equivalent of CO2 emissions from energy used by 43 homes annually, or 707 acres of forest preserved from deforestation by carbon sequestering.

An Ocean View Room

An Ocean View Room

Dan Szydlowski, Regional Director, says it best. “With sunshine nearly guaranteed year round, we saw only positive attributes to making this capital and environmental sustainability investment.”

So, a shout out to the Westin… and a reminder to other hoteliers to get enLIGHTened!

$345/night

 

 

 

Virtue or Vice at the Viceroy Anguilla

Viceroy Anguilla Beachfront

Viceroy Anguilla Beachfront

Thirty five lush acres, 3,200 feet of beachfront land along Barnes and Meads Bays, bluff-top villas with full kitchens and butler service. SOLD! I’m talking about the Viceroy Anguilla offering contemporary beachfront, sophisticated townhomes, and lavish resort residences. Renowned for its remarkable design, superb location and exceptional amenities, the resort draws jet-setting travelers from all over the world.

Chillin Poolside

Chillin Poolside

At Viceroy Anguilla this fall, guests will now also have the choice of being naughty or nice with the new “Vice or Virtue” packages as part of the Viceroy Hotels and Resorts special offers. These limited-time travel packages will deliver up everything from healthy and beneficial to wickedly wonderful amenities and experiences for guests who book during the September – October window using code vicevirtue.   At Viceroy Anguilla, guests will experience its Enjoy the Excess –Vice package, or the Breathe Easy—Virtue package.

A room at the Viceroy Anguilla

A room at the Viceroy Anguilla

Enjoy the Excess – Vice

This lavish (and when we say ‘lavish’ we mean it) package includes private charter air to the island, a five-night stay in one of the resorts 4,800+-square-foot, four-bedroom Beachfront Villas featuring a full gourmet kitchen, dining room, living room, four marble bathrooms featuring a deep soaking tub and oversized walk-in shower. Outdoor living includes a private pool, chaise lounges, a spa pool, an outdoor grill, a cabana and two outdoor showers.

Viceroy Anguilla Spa

Viceroy Anguilla Spa

Bring seven loved ones for $150,000 and enjoy:

  • Private Charter Air provided by Tradewind Aviation (For 8 people originating in choice of gateways New York, Atlanta, Dallas or Chicago)
  • Four bedroom Beachfront Villa accommodations for 5 nights for up to 8 people
  • Two private Chef Dinners prepared in the Villa
  • Choice of daily spa treatment
  • Breakfast and lunch daily

Stay October 5, 2013 – March 31, 2014; not available December 15, 2013 – January 2, 2014.

Viceroy Anguilla Patio

Viceroy Anguilla Patio

Breathe Easy –  Virtue

Experience a relaxing retreat and a daily $100 credit and daily breakfast for two. The $100 credit may be used toward feel-good-for-you perks including spa treatments, healthy island fruit drinks or fitness classes including spinning, and yoga. While at the Caribbean resort guests may also partake in a bevy of complimentary land and water activities certain to add to their overall wellbeing.

Viceroy Anguilla Restaurant

Viceroy Anguilla Restaurant

Starting at $450/night

·         Daily Breakfast

·         $100 resort credit

viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/vicevirtue

And let me tell you… these photos don’t do the joint justice!

If you’re also in the mood for other chic one-of-a-kind experiences, try out any one of the Viceroy properties in Abu Dhabi, Beverly Hills, Maldives, Miami, New York, Palm Springs, Riviera Maya, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Snowmass, St. Lucia and Zihuatanejo with forthcoming openings in New YorkIstanbul, Dubai and Bodrum, Turkey.

You can’t go wrong, you jet set junkie.

 

Ecotourism: Environmentally Friendly or Greenwashing?

A Pipe Breaks Killing 300 Turtles (c) WSPA

A Pipe Breaks Killing 300 Turtles (c) WSPA

In recent years, we all know that eco-tourism has become a hot buzzword for environmentally minded travelers, but these days, groups like the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) advises tourists to research visitor attractions to ensure they are operating responsibly, keeping in mind the welfare of animals and the environment, and avoid those that are simply greenwashing.

So, using the Cayman Turtle Farm as an example, Elizabeth Hogan, oceans and wildlife campaigns manager at WSPA, put together a list of five tips that can help tourists identify when an eco-tourist attraction is not as animal- or environmentally friendly as it claims. We’ll admit, this news comes at a great time as we can’t always tell at first look what programs are legitimately helping versus those that are simply greenwashing.  What’s the problem with the Cayman Turtle Farm? It’s a popular tourist destination that alleges to focus on the conservation and the protection of endangered sea turtles, but it also sells them for food and has a poor track record on animal protection issues.

1)      Avoid direct interaction with the animals.

As a general rule, you shouldn’t be touching animals at an eco-tourist attraction. Whether it’s swimming with dolphins or holding sea turtles, this kind of contact with hundreds or thousands of tourists can traumatize the very animals being protected and compromise their health, sometimes in serious ways. Be wary of any eco-tourist attraction that encourages or allows this kind of contact and know it may also pose a health risk for you personally. For example, at the Cayman Turtle Farm, tourists are encouraged to handle the sea turtles, putting themselves at risk of contracting E.coli and salmonella.

2)      If there is a high entertainment to science ratio, stay away.

Eco-tourist attractions must balance science and entertainment. Unfortunately, some lean too heavily on the latter. If the eco-tourist attraction you’re considering has too much entertainment, such as snorkelling with sea turtles in small artificial ponds as the case at the Cayman Turtle Farm, it may not be paying enough attention to welfare of the animals it’s supposedly protecting and the science of conservation.

3)      Don’t eat any of the animals supposedly being protected.

Done properly, there’s nothing wrong with farming. But it’s a very different thing than conservation. Any eco-tourist attraction that tries to balance conservation of a species with selling it for meat is caught in a conflict of interest. At the Cayman Turtle Farm, it claims to be helping endangered sea turtles while simultaneously selling sea turtle meat to local restaurants.

4)      Look for what trusted third parties have to say.

Before you visit an attraction, spend a few minutes on the Internet to see what trusted third-party groups have to say.  In the case of the Cayman Turtle Farm, WSPA as well as other animal and conservation groups have expressed concerns about its policies and practices which are online and come up in any search on the farm.

5)      Ask you travel agent, cruise line and hotel concierge lots of questions.

With the four points above in mind, come armed with questions for anyone recommending you visit an eco-tourist attraction. Ask members of the travel industry to investigate the attractions they are promoting and provide proof that the property is operating with animal’s and the environment’s interest at its core. If they can’t answer all of your concerns, look for other animal- and eco-friendly options.  WSPA says keeping these five simple tips in mind will help environmentally minded travelers avoid eco-tourist attractions that fail to meet industry standards.

“Ultimately people want to do the right thing and eco-tourism sounds good, it feels good, and people like the idea that they are helping make the world a better place while they are on vacation,” added Hogan. “But it’s not that simple. Luckily if you know what to look for it’s fairly easy to spot problem places even if no one tells you.”

To learn more about WSPA’s campaign to end sea turtle cruelty visit: http://www.StopSeaTurtleFarm.org.

Fabu Family Eco Adventure Deal – Cancun

Whale Shark!

This just in! From June through September, hundreds of whale sharks gather in the waters just a short boat ride from the Villa del Palmar beachfront resort in Cancun – one of the top two places in the world to see these incredible ocean-dwellers. The family-friendly beach resort, which opened last December, is currently offering a Whale Shark Adventure Family Package Deal at great value, with massages included (helloooooo, Cancun!) and two children under 12 staying and eating for free.

  Whale Shark Eco Adventure Package Deal at Villa del Palmar Cancun

5 Days / 4 Nights
Seasonal (June-September) 

 

 

Villa del Palmar

Package Includes:

• 5 Days and 4 Nights in a luxurious One Bedroom Ocean View Suite
• 2 50-Minute Relaxing Massage per room, per Stay
• 10% Off additional Massages
• Up to two children under 12 stay and eat free (sharing room with their parents)
• 2 Whale Shark Tour passes
• Round Trip Transfers
• Welcome Cocktail upon arrival
• All Meals, Snacks and Beverages + Premium Brand Alcoholic Beverages
• Complimentary Internet access in your room
• 6 times daily shuttle to Downtown and Hotel Zone Shopping Centers
• Complimentary use of Water & Land Toys: Non motorized water sports
• Daily Theme Nights
• Taxes and gratuities

Price: $1,598 total package

www.villapalmarcancun.com

SustainableTrip.org

Sustainable Trip For Savvy Travelers

A bit of news from our friends at The Rainforest Alliance. A portal for sustainable travel! Now travelers looking for sustainable vacations in Latin America and the Caribbean can find them at SustainableTrip.org.

A database of hotels, tour operators, and restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean, have been certified by a third-party sustainable tourism certification program, verified by the Rainforest Alliance, or recommended as being sustainable by a reputable organization.

The site, available in three languages – in English as SustainableTrip.org; in Spanish as ViajeSostenible.org; and in French as VoyageResponsable.org. Initially launched in 2005 as the Eco-Index of Sustainable Tourism, SustainableTrip.org features a robust search engine and an in-depth profile for each business that includes information about amenities and rates, a description of the area and activities, a Google map of the business’ location, photos, videos, and actions that the business is taking to demonstrate sustainability. Interested parties can subscribe to a monthly email newsletter that includes links to new or updated hotel profiles. The site also features “News for the Savvy Traveler” and detailed info rmation about sustainable tourism.

The launch also coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable tourism program which helps tourism professionals improve the sustainability of their businesses based on the principles of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.  Initiatives include adopting ecosystem and water conservation measures, reducing energy use, supporting local economies, hiring from within the community and reducing costs. The Alliance also works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, businesses and consumers worldwide are involved in the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily.

www.rainforest-alliance.org

www.sustainabletrip.org

Mustique, Now That’s Chic

Mustique Island... Bareback, baby!

Bareback and in a bikini. Tell you, tell me! I’m ready for my Mustique vacay.

Luckily, the private, ultra-exclusive
island of Mustique is offering a ‘Summer Sizzler’ package you won’t want to miss.

A small private island in the West Indies, Mustique is actually a group of islands called the Grenadines (most of which form part of the country of St Vincent and the Grenadines). Attracting a number of celebrities (just like you), the big dogs who’ve visited include: Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Kate Middleton, Prince William, Pierce Brosnan, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. So clearly, you’re next.

The island is petite and discrete; covering 1,400 acres with several coral reefs, tortoises, herons, and a year-round population of only about 500 living in the villages of Lovell, Britannia Bay, and Dover. And, the good news is this right here… starting right now through September 4, 2010 (maybe they’ll even extend it a bit if you say you saw it here first), book a room at the Cotton House, the island’s only hotel, and receive 2 nights free, plus up to a $500 hotel credit to use on luxe amenities like a spa treatment or dinner at Veranda Restaurant. The ‘Summer Sizzler’ package includes:

* Stay 7-nights, only pay for 5-nights  get 2 nights for free!
* $500 hotel credit for double-occupancy or $250 resort credit for
single-occupancy
* Daily breakfast
* Airport transfers to/from hotel
* Welcome cocktail

The starting rates for this offer are $520 per night for a cottage at single
or double-occupancy. Rates are exclusive of a 10% service tax, subject to
availability and require a seven-day cancelation policy for full refund.

Mustique's Luxurious Cotton Island Hotel

A little bit about Mustique:

A renowned 1,400-acre private island in the Grenadines and long favorite hideaway for the world’s most discriminating travelers.

Scattered around the island are 72 super swanky, yet island dreamy designer villas, each with its own distinctive architecture and atmosphere. Available for weekly rentals, these villas range in size from 2 to 9 bedrooms from $4,250 to $150,000 a week, including a full staff and vehicle.

The only hotel on the island, the Cotton House is an elegant West Indian-style plantation estate with 17 luxe rooms, cottages and suites, 11 of which feature private plunge pools.

www.mustique-island.com
www.cottonhouse.net

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