After Irma, Harvey and the Others – Where Should You Vacation?

It has been a busy season when it comes to natural disasters in Mexico, the Caribbean and Southern United States. We’re sure you’re wondering if your favourite vacation destinations and resorts are where you should choose to vacation this winter.

Here is a list of destinations that we have received notifications about that are just fine or will be very soon:

 

MEXICO

Cancun & Riviera Maya

  • This area of Mexico and the Caribbean has seen no significant damage! All of your favourite resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya are open for business as usual.

Puerto Vallarta

  • This area of Mexico has not been affected by any tropical storms or the recent earthquake that hit the West coast. Feel free to visit whenever you like!

Los Cabos

  • The majority of resorts and hotels in this area of the Baja Peninsula are doing just fine. There are some that will need a week or two to open back up but you can confidently book your winter vacation packages to Los Cabos.

Huatulco

  • Although the recent earthquake was felt in Huatulco all tourist areas and hotels are ready to welcome you.

 

JAMAICA

  • All of your favourite resorts in Jamaica are open for business, unless closed for scheduled maintenance, and ready to serve you.

 

TURKS & CAICOS

  • Beaches Turks plans to reopen cleaned up and better than ever just in time for your winter vacation on December 14!
  • Club Med Turkoise is welcoming guests back to their resort as early as September 30, 2017.

 

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism reports that the country’s tourist destinations were not negatively affected by Hurricane Irma and are up-and-running as usual. All airports, seaports, highways, tourist attractions, and hotels in all major destinations, such as Punta Cana / Bávaro, Samaná, Sosúa, Cabarete, Puerto Plata, La Romana / Bayahibe, Juan Dolio, Santo Domingo and others are operating normally.

 

BAHAMAS

  • Nassau and Paradise Island were not impacted by Hurricane Irma. Your favourite hotels like Sandals Royal Bahamian, Atlantis Paradise Island, Melia Nassau Beach Resort and Sandals Emerald Bay and more are all open and welcoming guests.

 

FLORIDA

Orlando

  • Walt Disney World’s four theme parks have reopened with most attractions up and running. The Disney Resort hotels have returned to normal operation with the exception of Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas.    The two Disney water parks will reopen later this week.   Walt Disney World is known as one of the safest places to be during an emergency – you can safely plan your next Disney vacation as soon as you like!
  • Legoland Florida’s theme park is resuming its regular schedule today, Thursday September 14. Their water park will reopen soon as well.
  • Universal Orlando Resort is open for business with minor damage to report.
  • SeaWorld Orlando is back to normal as well.
  • Port Canaveral has resumed operations.

Miami

  • Power is returning to Miami neighborhoods as quickly as possible. Miami airport is open and hoping to return to full operations by the weekend.
  • The port of Miami re-opened to cruise ships on Wednesday.
  • Many Miami Beach hotels are currently open offering reduced rates for Florida residents who do not have power yet.

Fort Lauderdale

  • The Fort Lauderdale airport is up and running normally – however some delays are to be expected.
  • Port Everglades has been cleared by the U.S. Coast Guard and is open for business.

 

TEXAS

  • Downtown Houston is dry but may areas of Texas have a long road ahead of them before they will fully recover from the flooding and destruction.

 

ANIGUA & BARBUDA

  • In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the island of Antigua is pleased to report that no hotels have closed as a result of the storm, although a few of the properties had already closed prior to Irma for their annual renovations and general spruce-up, in preparation for the busy festive season. By supporting tourism in Antigua, your patronage will help to rebuild Barbuda.

 

CUBA

  • Information regarding the state of many of Cuba’s tourist areas like Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria is still limited at this time. We’ll work to keep you updated as we know more.   The following details regarding hotels in Varadero was found in the Havana Times on September 12.
    • Blau Marina Varadero – The hotel had to evacuate its guests yesterday morning. The Hotel received serious damage due to its location which is very exposed as it is located right on the tip of the peninsula. The main building suffered serious damage (roof, glass doors, etc.). Structural damage could be noted in the room buildings. The beach eroded due to the waves.
    • Melia Marina Varadero – Some rooms have broken windows and damage to the balconies but the biggest damage can be seen in the common areas of the hotel, especially in the lobby. The hotel is located on a hill so the protection against gusts of wind is minimal.
    • Grand Memories Varadero – The hotel suffered some damage due to gusts of wind. The lobby will require restoration work and it is one of the hotels that suffered major damage to the roof and common areas such as gardens and pool areas. According to reports from the General Manager approximately 40 rooms were damaged and have broken windows. In general, there is no great structural damage and the damage is considered moderate. Access to the beach is virtually blocked.
    • Memories Varadero – The hotel is generally in good condition. Some recovery work will be required in corridors, public areas and some rooms on high floors where roof leaks can only be repaired by replacing the roof in its entirety. The hotel has already re-opened the lobby bar without alcoholic beverages at the moment. Recovery work is being done quickly by the hotel staff to be able to re-establish regular services as soon as possible.
    • Paradisus Varadero – The hotel suffered extensive damage. Ceilings were blown off in some structures in the Family Concierge areas and will require considerable investment to recover. The main building was equally devastated; the new restaurant that was under construction near the beach collapsed.
    • Royalton Hicacos – This is another hotel that suffered major damage. The beach area eroded due to the waves. The restaurant on the beach also suffered extensive damage. The main buffet area is very exposed so it suffered serious damage especially to the roof. You could see a lot of rubble in the area. The Caribeño restaurant has broken windows. The Rooms area did not seem to have major damage.
    • Iberostar Varadero – The Hotel was severely affected. Part of the palapa-like straw roofs disappeared. The theater is partially destroyed. The palapa roof in some rooms was equally destroyed. The palapas around the pool were destroyed and there is debris in the area.
    • Be Live Turquesa – The hotel was evacuated so it was not possible to perform a complete inspection.
    • Playa de Oro – You could see broken windows in several rooms. The pool area was quite affected and the lobby area also has noticeable damage. The disco area has some parts of the roof collapsed. Landscaped areas have fallen trees. The restaurant is running and providing food service.
    • ROC Arenas Doradas – The hotel seemed in good condition. Some air conditioners were ripped off the walls but light damage can be recovered relatively quickly.
    • Meliá Las Antillas – The hotel is generally in good condition and without serious damage to its structures.
    • Blau Varadero – The hotel has a very solid structure however being a tall building it always receives some damage when a hurricane hits the area. The lobby was in good condition however the rooms on higher floors may have suffered some damage.
    • Starfish Varadero – The hotel was generally found in good condition. Lobby without noticeable damage.
    • Brisas del Caribe – The rooms were badly damaged. During the inspection visit you could see several tourists waiting to be changed rooms due to leaks in broken ceilings and windows. The lobby also suffered some damage.
    • Iberostar Laguna Azul – The hotel is located on a hill however it did not suffer serious damage considering its exposed location. Partial damage could be noticed on the roof of the restaurant in the beach area, some palapas destroyed.
    • Starfish Cuatro Palmas – The hotel was evacuated. Some structural damage could be noticed, mainly in the ceilings of some buildings. It was not possible to make a full visit since no staff were found on the property.

 

Keep in mind that clean up and repairs after a disaster can be very costly on a country.   Many of these destinations rely heavily on tourism and would greatly appreciate a visit from you and your family this winter. 

Reach out to our team for more information on these or any other destinations you may be interested in for your winter 2017/18 vacation.  We are here to help make sure you have the very best holiday possible.

Circle Drive  306-934-3400
Sutherland 306-955-1449

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Celebrating 2016

2016 has been a year full amazing travel experiences and adventures.   We thought we would share some of our favourite personal travel moments with you.   This is such an amazing world we live in and we are so happy that we get to share it with you!

Karen’s Visit to Club Villain at Walt Disney World

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“The one thing I have learned about Disney from my past trips is to never pass up a special ticket event. My favorite that I have been to so far is Club Villain. There is themed food and cocktails. A Dj and his dancers entertained us throughout the evening. We were given an opportunity to socialize with several diva Villains. There were no lines awaiting you to meet up with Maleficent, the Queen of Hearts, Cruela De Vil and the Evil Queen.  This is an event not to miss!”

Amanda’s Jamaican Vacation

“Beautiful water and great weather.  The Jamaican people are the friendliest and most accommodating I’ve ever been around.”

Correna’s Search for Charlie Brown in Hong Kong

“My great adventure in Hong Kong began when I tried to locate this Charlie Brown Café in downtown Hong Kong.  One piece of advice, do not think you can get by with land marks in Hong Kong.  There just happens to be a Rolex store on every block!   It was well worth the search!”

Casie’s Trip to Puerto Vallarta

“It’s fabulous”

Joanne’s Blue Lagoon Plunge in Iceland

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“Iceland is the perfect destination or people looking for the unexpected.  It has something for everybody.  I was lucky enough to experience the Aurora Borealis, take in geysers and glaciers and bath in the Blue Lagoon.”

Jamie’s Family Vacation to Kauai

“Kauai Hawaii. Land of flowers, sunny beaches and Jurassic Park movies. Poipu had perfect weather and we loved the quiet, laid back feel of this Island. “

Elena’s Romantic European River Cruise

“Life on the ship is amazing.  They say food fills the soul, well your belly will be happy also.  I went on the galley tour while on board. For a kitchen so small the meals are impressive. No soup or dressings are made from powders or pre-made starters, everything is from whole natural foods, it’s evident in every bite.

The cabins are comfortable and take your breath away.  I highly recommend paying the extra to upgrade your cabin from the lead in category. You may not think you’ll spend time in your cabin but when the sun comes up around 5am or you’re leaving port then you can just draw back the curtains and doze off and on while watching the views as you sail by.  Sailing past countless Vineyards and castle is great way to start your morning if you ask me.”

Kyra’s Family Camping Trip to Banff

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“I went to the beautiful Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.  I had never been to either of those lakes before and I just fell in love with how pretty they are!”

Heather’s Destination Wedding Travels

“In 2016 I was lucky enough to travel not once but twice for amazing, beautiful destination weddings.   My brother was married in Puerto Vallarta and a dear high school friend was married in Ucluelet, British Columbia.  The first trip was another amazing family vacation but even more special.  The second a bit of a high school reunion and a road trip with two of my very best friends.”

Stephanie’s Costa Rican’ Adventure

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“Kayak and paddle boarding on Lake Arenal in Costa Rica, with beautiful views of the Arenal Volcano is one of my favorite travel memories in 2016. “

Colleen’s Bucket List trip to Newfoundland

“Ales, Whales and Newfie Tales is what is waiting for you in Newfoundland and so much more.  We went for 2 weeks but could have stayed for a month.  The people, the hiking, the music, the scenery even their own winery are just some of the things that are waiting for  you.  From Iceberg Beer which you can only get in Newfoundland to the East Coast music heard at every pub it’s a must return destination.  Oh, yes don’t forget the Puffins. “

It has certainly been a memorable year.   We can’t wait to see where 2017 takes us and hope to share it all with you along the way.    If you would like any help planning your own amazing vacation please feel free to call our office at 306-242-TRIP (8747).   We would love to help you have amazing travel experiences too.

*If you enjoyed this blog and would like to continue to follow our team as they have amazing travel experiences check out our Instagram @UniglobeCarefreeTravel
https://www.instagram.com/uniglobecarefreetravel/?hl=en

Jamie’s Magical Disney World! Part 2

After having spent four days at Disney, I have come up with a bit of a ‘must do’ list plus some observations on staying onsite and using the Disney dining plan.

Must do:
Cinderellas Royal Table. The bill would have been $153.00 for three of us, or you can use two dining credits per person, which we did. Well worth it. There were five princesses who came to each table and spoke to each child. They signed autographs and took pictures. They made each kid feel special and Sydney was squealing in delight the whole time.

A Pirate’s League – by Pirates of the Caribbean – for about $35.00, your child can dress up as a pirate or mermaid and take place in a pirate parade. The cast members were great and the kids loved it.

A Pirate Adventure – leaves from the Port Orleans Riverside dock Thursday mornings, kids only… Read between the lines; This means mommy time! :-). Cast members take your kids on a two hour riverboat ride looking for treasure and even feed them lunch. A great deal for $35.00.

For adults, the Hollywood studios tower of terror is still my favorite ride.

For families, the Animal Kingdom safari is a must and fun for everyone. We saw tons of animals up close.

Fastpass, this is new since I was last here. I’m showing my age, but I love it. It has saved us hours of standing in line!

Tips:
Go early as soon as the parks open as it’s a lot quieter and wait times are next to nothing. By lunch it’s a zoo and a great time to start cashing in some fastpasses.

It’s quite expensive to eat out all the time at Disney. For the cost of a dining plan, you get great value. If you get the timing right, they often have free dining in the off season. We were lucky enough to have this and I bet it’s saved us $1000.00 easily this week on food.

If you have the deluxe dining plan, you should make reservations ahead of time if you want to get into the sit down restaurants.

Character dining experiences are great. Most only count as one dining credit and you don’t have to wait in line to meet the characters.

Stay for the fireworks shows. Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios are all different and all fantastic!

The wait times on rides during and just after the fireworks is next to nothing. A great time to go on rides if you have already seen the show.

If you plan on only doing Disney, stay onsite at a Disney hotel. The transportation system is awesome and it’s so easy to go back if you need something (including a nap!) The staff is awesome and everything is “Disney” and well done. No car rentals and parking fees etc.

Jamie’s Magical Disney World! Part 1

If you want to know why Disney is the most magical place on earth, you just have to look at a four year old’s face the first time she sees Cinderella’s castle. What a day!

I have been to Disney before but it’s the first time I have stayed at a Disney hotel and it’s the first time I have used the meal plan. There are twelve of us all together staying at the Port Orleans Riverside. Staff is great and check in is smooth. We are in building 18 near the restaurants and lobby. They put us in four rooms side by side, which is great and makes planning easier.

The first night when we arrived the food court at the hotel was very busy and figuring out the meal plan was a little chaotic, but we managed. We received the meal plan free as part of a Disney promo. A great deal since food is fairly pricey here. We each get two meals and a snack free daily and each meal has an entree side dessert and drink included. Portions are good and they have healthy options and sides for kids. The kids meals come with apples and grapes unless you specifically ask for fries.

The transportation to and from the parks is quick and seamless. We spent the day at the Magic Kingdom and were lucky it wasn’t too busy. We walked right on to our favourite rides all morning and by afternoon the wait times were only 10-20 minutes.

The kids were pre-booked into the Pirate League this afternoon. For $39 they got their faces painted, pirate sashes and swords, a bandana, earring and a gold coin or mermaid makeup, nail polish, necklace, hairdo and clip and sash plus take home makeup and nailpolish. The Disney Playmakers were fantastic and the kids loved it. It’s located right beside Pirates of the Caribbean.

After 6 hours at the park the kids were tired so we came back for a swim in the pool. It’s a nice pool and hot tub at the Riverside. We also checked out the arcade beside the lobby but it’s geared more for older kids.

Now off to bed. Tomorrow we attempt Animal Kingdom, plus a mini makeover and dinner at Cinderella’s Royal table. I have one excited princess on my hands!