Posts Tagged ‘cheap hotels’

Que Rica… Colombia!

El Penol Lake near Medellin - Colombia

Colombia is a destination ready for discovery. From its beautiful landscapes, rich heritage, cosmopolitan cities, and mouthwatering cuisine, Colombia is rumored to be THE next hot destination in Latin America. Listed below are the top reasons to fall in love with the passion of Colombia, and a million reasons for wanting to stay. So what inspires you?

  • Coasts: As a destination where the sand is caressed by two oceans, Colombia’s privileged location allows its visitors to enjoy over 2,900 km of coasts on two oceans and the Caribbean Sea. Talk about the ultimate beach vacation! Long, tranquil beaches between jungles and the sea line most of the Pacific coast, while the Caribbean coast contains wide beach beaches, large resort complexes, and various shops and restaurants. Make sure to experience the country’s diving adventures. Go to the depth of Colombia’s colorful seas. Bordered by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, there is a world that is designed for the delight of divers under the sea. The famous Seaflower Biopsphere Reserve around the Island of Providencia contains the world’s third largest reef park, and is a global haven for spotting the sea’s shiny starfish, crabs, angelfish, corals, sponges and various other species in strange shapes and vibrant colors.

Colombia Coffee Farmer (c) Neil Palmer - CIAT

  • Coffee: Recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2011, Colombia’s Coffee Triangle is known for producing the world’s best coffee. Let the aroma and the taste of coffee surround you, while getting to know the beauty of the key regions. Keeping in tradition with its diverse culture and landscapes, Colombia pays tributes to its roots by containing food that is a mixture of Indian, Spanish, African and Arabic cuisines. Every region is has its own gastronomy, related to its natural resources. Delight in the ocean’s bountiful harvest in the Caribbean region; Savor the meats, potatoes, beans and corn in the Andean region; Enjoy the Pacific Coast’s abundance of rice, lentils, and rice; and appreciate the veal, manioc and various fishes in the Orinoco River region.

Colombia's Amazon (c) Jill Robinson

  • Nature: In a land where the earth breathes, The Amazon is the traditional destination of scientist and scholars who want to learn to talk with nature. Containing the world’s second longest river the largest tropical jungle on the planet, Colombia’s shares the Amazon Rainforest with Brazil and Peru. Enjoy the fauna and flora of the jungle by zipping between trees, or hiking along the forest various jungle paths. 90 percent of Colombia is Nature, while 10 percent of Colombia’s territory is protected by nature reserves– including 37 national parks, 12 fauna and flora sanctuaries, two natural reserves, and one parkway—11,000,000 hectares that encompass beautiful scenery, a variety of climate and soils, floras and fauna, and 230 civil society natural reserves. Talk about Biodiversity! Colombia contains the world’s largest collection of amphibians, butterflies and flowers. It also holds the title of containing the world’s second highest number of bird species (containing 1,865 bird species). From June to November the country turns into the homes of hundreds of bird, whale, and marine turtle species that visit the Colombian Pacific coast to mate, feed, and take rest on their migratory journey.


  • Vibrant Cities: Colombians are festive by nature, and always seek opportunities to celebrate their cultural heritage. From the colorful Barranquilla Carnival every February and Medellin Flower Fair every August, to the much acclaimed Cali Fair, there is always a reason to celebrate. Colombians take pride in the rich cultural life contained within their cities walls. From cosmopolitan Cartagena, modern Bogota, passionate Cali and progressive Medellin, each one of  Colombia’s cities offers its guests something different and unique. Known for their warm and friendly spirit, the people of Colombia are ready to open their arms to the whole world. Seeking to show the world its true face, Colombia’s passion for developing its global status in the world is the ultimate driving force for their authentic energy and dynamic spirit.

There’s even more to be discovered in person. With a booming tourism sector, Colombia is ready for you.

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

Sicily’s Eco Steal

Relais Torre Marabino - Sicily, Italy

This just in! Essential Italy is offering reduced rates in May at this fantastic eco-hotel in Sicily. For stays from May 15th -31st. If you  stay 5 nights and pay 4 nights on all types of rooms.

£135.00/night for 4 nights and £110.00/night for 5 nights B&B

(FYI – Usual price is £145/night)

Relais Torre Marabino

This small hotel is just a short distance from the sandy beach at Pozallo. The building dates back to the 1500’s and is now home to an eco-friendly and intimate hotel where all 7 rooms have been furnished and decorated originally; with each one given a different name of a wine produced in the cantina at Torre Marabino. The views across the Sicilian landscape from all rooms are, in one word, enchanting, and produce from the hotel’s farm is used in the kitchen. Did we also mention that they make their own fabulous organic wine – yep, the label is Torre Marabino.

Location: Ispica 3km, Siracusa 60km, Catania 110km, Palermo 302km, Modica 18km, Taormina 165km, Noto 22km, Pachino 20km

Italy on Valentine’s Day, Anyone?

Puglia, Italy

Here’s one amazingly cheap and romantic Valentine’s Deal in Italy!

Essential Italy are offering a Valentines Offer for January, February and March at this beautiful B&B in Puglia. Just £70 per room per night on a B&B basis for a minimum 2 night stay.

Masseria Due Torri, Monopoli, Puglia

A traditional 17th century stone farmhouse set in the heart of the Pugliese countryside which has been converted into a wonderfully comfortable B&B with apartment accommodation.  The elevated location is perfect with fantastic views of the countryside and the sea. The recently finished room renovations are surrounded by lovely gardens with impressive age-old olive trees which encompass the pool.

Price: £70 per night B&B per room for a couple with private use of the main hall and sitting room with log fire, and a bottle of the finest Prosecco and chocolates on arrival. During Jan, Feb and March for a minimum stay of 2 nights. Packed lunches, suppers and taxi services also available.

Flights: RyanAir fly from London Stansted to Bari. Return prices start at £90 per person.

Location: Monopoli 4km, Castellana Grotte 6km, Fasano 12km, Alberobello 10km, Bari Airport 50km, Brindisi Airport 70km

Essential Italy

Tel: 01223 460100

Santa Barbara, CA: Eco-Cabin Retreat

Bjorklund Ranch: Peachtree Eco-Cabin


As they say, it’s no walk in the park, but we disagree. We think a long hike in the woods with your honey is the best way to endure the ups and downs of any long-term love affair (just don’t get any wise ideas, ya hear?).

So, for some much needed couple time with no distractions, Eco-Adventurer’s advice is to take a weekend (or longer) and spend it at a hidden Swedish eco-cabin in the Santa Barbara mountains. We’re not lying when we say, this is one secret gem we’ve been hesitant to share. Namely because… we want this sweet spot available the next time we’re in town.

Picture this: an eco-friendly cabin, an outdoor shower, an outdoor tub that you heat by lighting a fire beneath, and a deck overlooking a large expanse of mountains with near total privacy. Plus, it’s cheap!

The Stairway to Heaven (aka. The Stairway to the Outdoor Shower)

Granted, the outhouse is an outhouse, but the Bjorklund Ranch cabins (and yurts) are clean, comfortable and make for a rare Swedish retreat nestled into the California mountain side. The cabin, completely private and quiet, is also surrounded by fruit trees, a creek, and a view of the ocean.

Rental Includes:

  • Deck with great views and a BBQ grill
  • Wood burning stove with firewood provided
  • Private, outdoor shower under the deck
  • Exterior smell free composting toilet
  • Bio-compatible soaps
  • Jacuzzi (short walk to shared jacuzzi)
  • Optional Spa Package can be purchased

Rates/Conditions (rates include tax)

  • Mon – Thurs – $125 per night
  • Fri – Sun  – $145 per night

All rates are based on Double Occupancy and, trust us, if you don’t have a unique, truly loving experience… ain’t no amount of nature gonna help you weather those storms! This is one piece of natural bliss we certainly won’t forget.

Limoneira, CA: Sustainable Farm Tours

Limoneira Sustainable Farm Tour: Miniature English Sheep!

Sure, we’d never heard of Santa Paula, California or Limoneira before, but when we received word about The Limoneira Company Citrus Ranch Tour we got hungry and thirsty, hankering for an outdoorsy farm visit. With sensory delights like acres of avocado and lemon orchards, colorful stretches of crops, and a look back into farming history with period ranch photos and original packing ‘fruit crate’ art, we thought it sounded like a really nice break away from the rat race. The tour also shows guests what modern farmers are doing to become more sustainable.

Citrus Ranch Tour guests view a 5.5-acre ‘solar orchard’ that supplies power to Limoneira’s lemon storage facilities. Weeds are kept in check naturally around the solar panels by… get this… English miniature sheep. Miniature sheep! Guests will also stop by Limoneira’s 10-acre green recycling yard where green materials are naturally composted into mulch and then distributed in the orchards.

The one-hour tour takes place in a courtesy van with limited walking for the old folks. Beverages included (lemonade anyone?). The best part? It’s only about an hour and twenty minutes West of Los Angeles near Oxnard and Thousand Oaks!

Cost: $20 adults, $17 seniors and $5 children (special price for children through 2010)

For those looking for local accommodations:

Glen Tavern Inn & Restaurant
(805) 933-5550
134 N Mill St
Santa Paula, CA

3.7 miles from Limoneira Company

Santa Paula Inn
(805) 933-0011
111 N 8th St
Santa Paula, CA

3.6 miles from Limoneira Company

Ecuador’s Eco-Lodge in the Clouds

Built in the Ecuadorian cloud forest outside of Quito around previously existing trees, the Mindo Eco-Lodge is about as authentic as you can get, allowing guests to rest in open-air areas, protected from the rain by an arcade running all around.

On the roof, you’ll find a terrace with a panoramic view of la selva (the jungle, baby!), while an onsite restaurant serves up local and Italian, dedicated to residents so it’s never going to be very crowded or noisy.

But the best part about the location is the bird watching along the trails of their Reserve.  With the assistance of a local guide specialized in bird watching in the Cloud Forest of Mindo, he will follow you along the trails showing the main characteristics of the Cloud forest so you can leave knowing all about the Velvet-Purple Coronet, the Antthrush, the Long-wattled Umbrella bird, and a bit more about the jungle than when you came.

Wherever possible, they use local services and encourage guests to buy local products as well. Providing employment of local population and guides, they’re respect the typical regional architectural style and thus, they’ve reflected it in their building; natural woods, thatch, and the occasional vibrant fabric reminiscent of the local tribes. Though we wouldn’t say this is ‘roughing it’, it certainly isn’t your five star marble experience, but that’s why we like it.

In terms of green techniques, energy and water efficient methods are place, along with waste prevention. “We garden with traditional and native species to maintain the local environment and also offer guiding services with attention to sustainability and offer information on sustainability in promotion material,” their manager explains.

To that end, they have environmental, nature, and local cultural education activities for visitors and environmental seminars for Ecuadorian schools.

How to get there, you ask?

By bus: Take a bus from the Terminal Terrestre bus station in Quito, any bus bound for Pacto, Puerto Quito, San Miguel de los Bancos or Mindo is ok. When the bus reaches Nanegalito tell the driver that you want to stop at Km72 (Primero de Mayo).

They will be waiting for you there. Of course, you’ll have to call before leaving Quito.

By car: Leave Quito on the new highway to Esmeraldas via Calacali. Travel to km 72. At Km72 turn right and follow the road for 3 km and You’ll reach the sign of the entrance of the Reserve.

Transfer service: This might be the easiest way for weary gringos. You can book their Transfer Service and they’ll come pick you up in Quito wherever you prefer.

Tours in the Cloudforest of Mindo, from US $200 – US $500 (3-6 days)

Guided tours to the beauty and mystery of the Cloudforest of Mindo. Depending on length of trip, we have a day dedicated to birdwatching, a day to visit the Ceremonial Site of Tulipe (los Yumbos) and the Garden of Butterflies in Mindo.

Birdwatching in the valley of Mindo, Ecuador, from US $550 – US $850 (6 days)

We’ll walk the Reserve trails and walk along the Mindo River, a great place to birdwatch. Species include Velvet-Purple Coronet, Giant Antpitta, Rufous-breasted Antthrush and Long-wattled Umbrellabird, amoungst others. We visit the Ecoroute El Paseo del Quinde, the Cloudforest of Reserva Ecologica Pachijal, the Lek of the Cock-of-the-Rock and bird sanctuaries in Milpe and Rio Silanche.

Birdwatching in the Cloudforest of Mindo, from US $125 – US $300 (2-4 days)

Birding packages accompanied by a local guide and a specialised, licensed guide for those who want to come to Mindo to watch birds, as main activity, due to the fact that Mindo is one of the best known places all over the world for birdwatching. Depending on tour length, take excursions to the lek of the Cock-of-the-rock, the Ecoroute Paseo del Quinde and the Birds Sanctuary of Milpe.

A Collage of Andean and Tropical Ecuador, from $1600 (12 days)

Why not try our Adventure & Community tourism package, combining the diversity of nature and scenery exploring the trails of the Cloud forest with the culture of the Ceremonial Site of Tulipe and traditional shops selling handicrafts in Las Tola. Bird watch in Mindo and relax on the beach at the Ocean of Rio Verde. Regenerate in the falls at Playa de Oro, dance to marimba music and sail the Santiago river. Finish off the tour at Otavalo’s market, the largest indigenous market in South America.

From US $50 – US $100 per person per night.

Prices depend on number of people in the group and there are discounts for children.

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