Holiday Travel: Go Early! – Jessica Griscavage

Now that that the holidays are long past, I have been reflecting on my travel over the past few months. As a Travel Advisor, we always have a push for last minute holiday bookings. You would be surprised to know the number of people who want to travel either over Christmas (even more popular, the day after Christmas) through New Years. It is a time when many businesses are slow and children have their winter breaks. It’s wonderful to get away with your family this time of year; however, rates are at a huge premium and availability becomes limited very quickly. My suggest for you is to either book now, or consider traveling in early December.

Early December is a wonderful time to travel. It’s before the holiday rush, outside of hurricane season in the Caribbean, and you often get great value. Also, many destinations are decorated for the holidays. This past year, I had two opportunities to travel that certainly got me into the holiday spirit.

Late November I traveled to Disneyland in California. The parks were beautifully decorated complete with trees, holiday music, and “Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink.” Many attractions are upgraded with a holiday theme. For example, The Haunted Mansion is transformed with inspiration from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and “It’s a Small World” becomes a spectacular attraction with international holiday traditions.
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Consider Disneyland for a first time Disney experience. Everything is walkable, no need for transportation, and with just two parks across from each other it can be much more manageable for the first Disney experience. For those who have been to Disney World, it’s wonderful to experience Walt’s original dream and how it transformed.
I also traveled to the Four Seasons Jackson Hole in early December. The resort was warm, cozy, and full of Christmas spirit. There are so many activities to choose from – snowmobiling, dog sledding, animal safari and skiing.
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consider myself an average skier and felt completely comfortable on the mountain. Jackson does not have a big local drive market like Vail, which makes the mountain much more manageable. Before the holiday rush, you will experience a winter wonderland! 
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When you book the Four Seasons Jackson Hole through McCabe World Travel, you will receive the following amenities thanks to our Preferred Partner status:
  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per room, served through in-room dining or in the hotel restaurant
  • Food and beverage credit of $100
  • Upgrade upon arrival if available
  • Complimentary basic internet in all guest rooms, complimentary premium internet in all suites

 

Call us now to start planning your 206 holiday travel!

Do you Belize in Magic? – Erin Green

The “better Belize it” puns started as soon as the airplane landed!  I was lucky enough to spend a week exploring this relatively untouched country in October, with visits to three resorts owned by Francis Ford Coppola and his family.  All of the properties are very eco-conscious, feature fantastic food and wine, and are places where you immediately feel at home and part of the family.  I started at Turtle Inn outside of the small beach-side town of Placencia.  The cottages are spacious with wonderful porches to enjoy your morning coffee service, and most have views straight out into the ocean.

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Every cottage at Turtle Inn has a beautiful outdoor shower!

The first day there was quite a bit of rain, but it didn’t dampen our spirits at all!  We spent the afternoon exploring the restaurants and bars that make up Placencia and of course trying out a Belikin or two (the Belizean beer of choice).  Dinner was a really unique experience: Rijsttafel – a Dutch tradition of a sampling of over 20 Indonesian dishes.  This meal perfectly fits into the resort as the property is decorated in a Balinese style and the ever so welcoming and friendly General Manager, Martin, is Dutch.  It’s hard to decide if this meal or the following night’s beach dinner of a grilled lobster was better!

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The delicious Indonesian spread.

The real highlight of our stay in Placencia was our snorkel trip.  We went out on the Wild Orchid catamaran to the Belize Barrier Reef which is a part of the 2nd largest reef system in the world.  As soon as we jumped in the water we were surrounded by massive 70 year old sea turtles, nurse sharks, and sting rays… amazing!

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Swimming to one of Belize’s pristine cayes

After our time at the beach, we took a quick flight up to Blancaneaux Lodge, which is in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve.  As you drive in, you pass their massive organic garden which provides the majority of their produce.  This resort is completely off the grid, with their power coming from the river.  All of the cottages are surrounded by lush forest and you fall asleep to the sounds of running water.  At night the lit stone paths look like something out of a fairy tale.  Once again the rain tried to ruin our plans to hike to the falls, but the General Manager Bernie had something else in mind: A Coppola Wines tasting while one of the lodge’s guides gave us a fascinating introduction to Mayan history in preparation for some of the Mayan sites we were to see over the next few days.   Dinner was pizza made by chefs that are all sent to Naples to learn the art of Italian pizza making… so tasty!

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Rooms are decorated with handmade Guatemalan textiles.
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Private plunge pool over the rain forest

One of the activity highlights at Blancaneaux is an excursion to the ATM Cave.  Certainly for the adventurous, you hike 45 minutes to the mouth of the cave where you have to jump into a deep pool, swim into the cave, and then proceed to walk/swim/wade through chest deep water and tight spaces.  If the beauty of the cave isn’t enough to wow you, the cavern where you end up is mindblowing.  All around you are artifacts and skeletons left from the times when the Mayans used the chamber for rituals to bring rain.  The pots look like they are broken and scattered but in fact they are aligned by the Mayans with the constellations and were smashed to be sure they weren’t offering anything that appeared perfect to the Gods.  Skulls left from the sacrificed (it was a huge honor to be sacrificed back in the day!) are just inches from the path you are walking.  I still get chills thinking about it!

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It’s even an adventure getting to the ATM Cave!

The next morning came early as we were off to Guatemala to visit the ancient Mayan city of Tikal.  I never thought I was that enthralled by the history of ancient civilizations, but this visit and the fantastic guiding changed my mind.  I felt like I was in a movie set with towers of temples rising above 200 square miles of jungle that is the old city.  Only 20% of the ruins have been restored so there is so much more laying underneath the jungle.

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Mayan city of Tikal. Notice how few visitors there are!

Then it was off to the third Coppola property in Central America, La Lancha.  The ten casitas that make up the resort look over Lago Petén Itzá, which is a huge pristine lake.

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All the casitas at La Lancha have porches with hammocks to take in the view

Raised in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, I admit I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to lakes and I have to say this is probably among the cleanest and prettiest I have seen.  I had to pinch myself as I realized I was floating in an inner tube, drinking Coppola Sauvignon Blanc, and looking up at the howler monkeys jumping through the trees.  What a dream.

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View over Lake Petén Itzá from La Lancha

 

The three Coppola properties are a great way to see these beautiful, untouched countries and there are various packages that include the touring that I did while I was there, plus infinitely more options!   As members of Virtuoso, you receive exclusive amenities when you book through McCabe World Travel.  Call us today for more information!

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The best travel companions and an incredible trip!

 

Incredible India – Hannah Roth

Hello McCabe World Travelers! Hannah here reporting live from a whirlwind trip to India (finally got a free morning before our 11AM flight to Mumbai, the last city on our itinerary before we sadly have to depart to go back home to the states). It’s been a packed schedule, all so we can see as much as possible in our short 8 nights here…fitting 6 cities into such a restricted time frame is no small feat. My goal is to relay back to clients the tips, tricks, recommendations, and expertise to make your India adventure as amazing as mine has been

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A taste of Delhi traffic

 

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Tomb of Humayun

 

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A visit to Salaam Balak orphanage

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India is the kind of destination that seeps its way into your soul – the colors, the people, the religions, the architecture, the food! I knew going into this trip that it would be the kind of lifechanging experience that an adventure-seeker like me only hopes to have, and I was right on all counts. We started our journey in Delhi, a massive and teeming city. The traffic is almost as bad as in the DC area! We arrived to the Leela Palace New Delhi, a new building that was crafted with a true sense of place.
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The relaxing pool at the Leela Palace in Delhi
Our tour guide, Punim, was an absolute delight and helped ease us into the hustle of the city and the shock of a new culture. Greaves Tours does a magnificent job with coordinating all aspects of such foreign travel to make it a seamless and unforgettable experience. Stay tuned for some more India posts (there’s so much to tell and so much to see) and of course contact me at hannah@mccabeworld.com with any specific questions – I would love to chat!
By booking the Leela Palace through McCabe World Travel, a proud Virtuoso member, you will receive the following amenities:
  • Upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
  • Daily Buffet breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • A complimentary dinner for up to two people per room
    • once during the stay , excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities ( 3 course menu, with a minimum value of USD 100 equivalent ) at Jamavar our Indian Specialty Restaurant.
  • Early check-in/late check-out
    • subject to availability
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