After Los Cabos Newton on path for MexicoArizona border

first_img Posted by Share Wednesday, September 7, 2016 CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico — Newton swept onto the Gulf of California after slamming the resorts of southern Baja as a hurricane before making landfall Mexico’s mainland and weakening to a tropical storm.And the storm remained on a path Wednesday morning that was expected to take it to the U.S. border with potentially dangerous rains for Arizona and New Mexico.Newton first came ashore near the Los Cabos resorts Tuesday morning as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph (150 kph), pelting the area with torrential rain as residents sheltered at home and tourists huddled in hotels. The storm broke windows, downed trees and knocked out power, but the area was spared the kind of extensive damage seen two years ago when they were walloped by a stronger storm.A shrimp boat capsized in rough seas in the Gulf of California, killing two people and leaving three others missing, authorities said. The boat had set out from the port of Ensenada and was bound for Mazatlan.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksAfter passing over the resort area, Newton headed northward up the sparsely populated interior of the peninsula and then sput out over the gulf during the night. Early Wednesday, its centre was about 10 miles (15 kilometres) southeast of Bahia Kino and was moving north at around 17 mph (28 kph) with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph).After passing over relatively little populated areas in Sonora, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Newton could push into southeastern Arizona in the afternoon and drop 1 to 3 inches of rain there and over parts of New Mexico through Thursday.“Heavy rain could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, especially in mountainous terrain,” the centre said.About 14,000 tourists were in Los Cabos during the storm, tourism officials said, and visitors began venturing out after Newton passed.“Just trying to make it through the day, with a little help,” Mark Hernandez, a visitor from California, said as he raised a can of beer at one of the few bars open in Cabo San Lucas. “We pray for the city of Cabo San Lucas. It was a rough one as you can see.”More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthPalm trees were toppled along the town’s coastal boulevard and some windows were broken. But there was calm in the city as firefighters cleaned refuse from the streets during the day.In 2014, Los Cabos suffered heavy damage to homes, shops and hotels when it was hammered by Hurricane Odile, which hit land as a Category 3 storm.“You know, it could have been a lot worse and I think we are very fortunate that it wasn’t as bad as Odile,” said Darlene Savord, another tourist from California. “I think that we are very fortunate and blessed.” The Canadian Press center_img Tags: Arizona, Mexico After Los Cabos, Newton on path for Mexico-Arizona border << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

New Orleans breaks tourism record set before Katrina

first_imgNew Orleans breaks tourism record set before Katrina Tags: America, New Orleans, Trend Watch The Canadian Press Tuesday, March 28, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>center_img Posted by Share NEW ORLEANS — A new study says New Orleans has broken a tourism record set before Hurricane Katrina, with nearly 10.5 million visitors in 2016. The record had stood at 10.1 million since 2004, the year before the hurricane struck.University of New Orleans’ Hospitality Research Center says last year’s visitors spent $7.41 billion dollars. That’s 51% more than the amount spent in 2004, and 5.1% above the spending record set in 2015.The study, made for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., was released Thursday.Mayor Mitch Landrieu says in a news release that he’s looking forward to 2017 being even bigger.Related: Beyond Bourbon St: Seven things to do in New Orleans when you’re not collecting beadslast_img read more

WestJet updates travel agent and companion discount program

first_imgWestJet updates travel agent and companion discount program Share Travelweek Group Posted by Tags: Agent Rates, WestJet, WestJet Vacationscenter_img CALGARY — WestJet is offering travel agents and one companion 50% to 75% off regular published Y fares, based on availability, for bookings made by Dec. 15 with no blackout dates.To take advantage of the special rates agents are asked to call WestJet’s Travel Support team at 1-877-664-3205, Monday to Sunday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. MT. Taxes and fees are extra.Fares and space are limited and subject to availability. The 75% discount on Y fares applies when G inventory is available. The 50% discount on Y fares applies when M inventory is available.Agents are asked to provide the following details at time of booking:Flight information (dates of travel and preferred/alternate flight numbers)Names and contact information of travellersAgency information (personal IATA/UFTAA code [VER# or ACTA#] and IATA/TIDS)A valid credit cardReservations are permitted any time prior to departure (based on availability) for domestic, transborder and international flights.A valid IATA/UFTAA and a valid 10 digit ACTA/verification number are required. The IATA/UFTAA ID card number is a mandatory field. “We will electronically verify your ACTA/verification number for validation. Please be prepared to show your IATA or UFTAA at the airport,” says WestJet.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upSome restrictions apply, including: travel agent bookings are non-commissionable and non-refundable; Plus fare seats may not be booked through the travel agent discount program; codeshare and interline bookings may not be booked through the travel agent discount program; and free seat selection is not included (but may still be purchased at the regular pre-reserved seat prices).WestJet Vacations has also sent out a reminder about its travel agent and companion (positive space) discount program, offering travel agents and up to three additional companions 20% off positive space air and hotel packages on one file (in one hotel room). Individual deviations are not permitted. The booking deadline for these special rates is also Dec. 15, with several blackout dates for the remainder of 2017, including: Sept. 4 – 5, 2017; Oct. 5 – 6, 2017; Oct. 9 – 10, 2017; Nov. 9 – 14, 2017; Dec.14 – 24, 2017; Dec. 26 – 31, 2017. Monday, August 28, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

WestJet hands out the hardware at Travel Partner Awards gala

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: WestJet Travelweek Group Share WestJet hands out the hardware at Travel Partner Awards galacenter_img Friday, October 27, 2017 Posted by TORONTO — There were plenty of awards handed out at last night’s WestJet 2017 Travel Partner Awards event, all glittering and all showing off the success WestJet’s partners have seen selling WestJet and WestJet Vacations product to their clients.A total of 13 awards were given out, recognizing everything from Top Growth Consolidator for WestJet to Top Revenue Growth for WestJet Vacations.“Our travel partners play a significant role in the success of WestJet and WestJet Vacations and our annual Travel Partner Awards are just one way of saying we value you,” said Lyell Farquharson, Vice President, Sales and Distribution. “Every day, our TA partners help us deliver unforgettable travel experiences for our mutual guests, and we enjoy recognizing the dedication and support of the travel trade with this special evening.”More than 200 agents attended the event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto last night, where guests were treated to hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and a four-course meal. Sponsors included Bahia Principe, Barbados and AMResorts.More news:  Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTHere’s a list of the winners:WestJet, Top Revenue Growth: MeritWestJet, Top Guest Count Growth: Uniglobe WestJane Clementino and Lyell Farquharson with the winners of WestJet Vacations Top Guest Count Growth – TravelSavers (CNW Group:WestJet)WestJet, Top Growth TMC: American Express GBT and HRGJane Clementino (Director, Agency Sales) and Lyell Farquharson with the winners of WestJet Top Plus Sales Growth – American Express Global Business Travel (CNW Group:WestJet)Bahia Principe, Top Growth Sales: Red Tag VacationsWestJet Vacations, Top Revenue Growth: ExpediaWestJet Vacations, Top Guest Count Growth: TRAVELSAVERSAMResorts, Top Growth Sales: ExpediaWestJet, Top PLUS sales growth: American Express GBTWestJet, Top U.S. Agency: Voyages a la CarteBarbados, Top Growth Sales: Ensemble Travel GroupTop Growth, Online Travel Agency: PricelineTop Group, Incentive, Convention Sales: Uniglobe Premiere TravelTop Growth Consolidator: HuntingtonLyell Farquharson (Vice President, Sales and Distribution) and Robert Dungan (Director, Business Development) with the winner of Top Growth Consolidator, Huntington Travel (CNW Group:WestJet)Keynote speaker Ron Tite, Founder and CEO of The Tite Group, said the retail travel industry has seen plenty of upheaval but that travel agents are emerging from the fray stronger than ever. “The disruptors are the ones solving the problems that the establishment can’t or won’t solve – and we’re the establishment,” he said. The revolution started when people realized they could book their own travel: “We love the notion of power to the people, of DIY.”Guest speaker, Ron Tite. (CNW Group:WestJet)But over time all that do-it-yourself travel booking has created a power vacuum. “People want expert advice, they want speed and efficiency, they want expertise. That’s why use of travel agents went up in 2016. People are coming back.” He added to laughs from the travel agents in the crowd: “People [booking their own travel] realized, they don’t actually want your job. They thought they did. They don’t.”last_img read more

Exodus launches Expert Agent Certification Course

first_imgExodus launches Expert Agent Certification Course Wednesday, November 29, 2017 Share Tags: Exodus Travels TORONTO — Exodus Travels has launched its first-ever online agent training platform that will allow agents to be gain various certifications and earn exclusive prizes and benefits.The Exodus Expert Program provides agents with the training tools and resources needed to grow their business and learn more about the company, including its diverse range of adventure holidays. According to Sasha Andrews, Director of Industry Sales, agents can learn at their own pace with “bite-sized training modules and quizzes broken down by subject.”Exodus will continue to add specialist modules that agents can take whenever they want. Once completed, trained experts will be eligible for exclusive contest and prizes, priority access to fam trips, premium content such as downloadable images and videos, and the latest news and events from Exodus Travels.To coincide with the program’s launch, all agents that complete the program prior to Jan. 5 will be entered into a draw to win an Exodus tour of their choosing, valued at $2,500.More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesFor more information go to exodustravels.com.center_img Travelweek Group Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Intairs 12 Days of Giveaways includes gift cards Pandora jewellery

first_img Travelweek Group Share Posted by MISSISSAUGA — Intair wants agents to know that its 12 Days of Giveaways sweepstakes is on now, with a new prize given away each day through Dec. 19.The list of prize items includes: a Pandora airplane charm; $100 Visa gift card; a chance to win 10 Pack Intair Admin Fee Waivers; a Fitbit; $500 airline giveaway voucher; a chance to receive 3x Loyalty Rewards points; $20 Petro-Canada gas gift card; $20 Tim Hortons card; a chance to win one month with no ticketing fees; and a portable cell phone charger.Each day travel agents will have to complete a unique task to be qualified for a chance to win the prize. Multiple winners will be chosen each day of the giveaways. The first few days of the giveaways have already concluded, but there are still more chances for agents to win, says the TravelBrands company.“As Canada’s largest airline consolidator with over 80 airlines, we are looking forward to giving away these incentives for our agents,” says Frank DeMarinis, President and CEO, TravelBrands. “Intair has been experts in the airline consolidation business for over 31 years giving choice and value to travellers. Our 12 Days of Giveaways is a festive way of providing even more value to travel agents.”More news:  Kory Sterling is TL Network Canada’s new Sales Manager CanadaFor more information on the daily prizing and qualifications for entry visit travelbrandsaccess.com. Intair’s 12 Days of Giveaways includes gift cards, Pandora jewellerycenter_img Thursday, December 7, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Agent Incentives, Intair, Promotions, TravelBrandslast_img read more

The latest from airlines hotels as Hurricane Lane settles in

first_img TORONTO — The hotels are sandbagged and travellers are waiting for word about flights out as Hurricane Lane barrels north after dumping nearly two feet of rain on Hawaii’s Big Island.WestJet announced yesterday it was cancelling all regularly scheduled flights into and out of Hawaii for Aug. 23 and Aug. 24 and instead operated two, non-scheduled recovery flights out of Hawaii on Aug. 23, one from Honolulu and one from Maui.WestJet’s Aug. 24 cancellations are as follows:. WS1864 from Vancouver to Honolulu. WS1865 from Honolulu to Vancouver. WS1852 from Vancouver to Kahului. WS1853 from Kahului to VancouverWestJet adds that it has implemented flexible change and cancel rules for the above to allow passengers to change their travel dates/route without incurring the change/cancel fee. To review flight options passengers can call WestJet (air-only): 1-888-WESTJET (1-888-937-8538) or for WestJet Vacations: 1-877-737-7001. Passengers who have made air-only bookings through their travel agent are asked to contact their agent directly.WestJet’s current travel advisories are posted online here: westjet.com/en-ca/travel-info/advisoriesUnited Airlines cancelled its Friday flights to and from Maui. Hawaiian Airlines cancelled all Friday flights by its commuter carrier, Ohana by Hawaiian.Earlier this week both WestJet and Air Canada issued rebooking advisories for Hawaii destinations.The centre was still offshore but Hurricane Lane still lashed the Big Island with more than 30” of rain in about 24 hours. Its maximum sustained winds near 193 kph made it a Category 3 hurricane. It has now been downgraded to Category 2.More news:  Flights cancelled as British Airways hit by computer problemForecasters say the centre of the storm will move close to or over parts of Hawaii’s main islands late Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20 feet.About 320 kilometres north of Hilo, on the state’s most populated island of Oahu, employees of the Sheraton Waikiki resort filled sandbags to protect the oceanfront hotel from surging surf.Stores along Waikiki’s high-end Kalakaua Avenue stacked sandbags along the bottom of their glass windows to prepare for heavy rain and flash flooding.Police on loudspeakers told surfers and swimmers to get out of the water, saying the beach would be closed until further notice.The Marriott Resort Waikiki Beach in Honolulu designated a ballroom on the third floor as a shelter for guests and began removing lounge chairs from around the pool and bar area.At the Hilton Hawaiian Village, guests said hotel staff left a notice that the rooms will still have water and phone service, and a backup generator would power one elevator per building in the event of a power outage.Hurricane Lane is not projected to make a direct hit on the islands but officials warned that even a lesser blow could do significant harm. Some areas could see up to 30” of rain.More news:  Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJHawaii’s biggest hotels are confident they can keep their guests safe as long as they stay inside, said Mufi Hannemann, CEO of Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association.“The only concern is those that venture outside of the properties, that would like to hike on a day like this or who would like to still go into the ocean and see what it’s like to take a swim or surf in these kind of waters,” said Hannemann.Honolulu shopping malls and office buildings closed early on Thursday and planned to shut their doors Friday.The National Weather Service downgraded the Big Island to a tropical storm warning, meaning it expects sustained winds of 62 kph to 117 kph on the island instead of stronger hurricane force winds.But a hurricane warning remains in effect for Oahu and Maui County.The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992.With files from The Associated Press Friday, August 24, 2018 Travelweek Group Posted by Tags: Air Canada, Hawaii, WestJetcenter_img Share The latest from airlines, hotels as Hurricane Lane settles in << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Stop the presses You can now order pizza anywhere at sea

first_img MIAMI — Climbing walls and race car tracks on cruise ships have become run of the mill these days. But leave it to Carnival Cruise Line to really impress passengers with its new ‘Pizza Anywhere’ offering.Available through its newly enhanced Carnival Cruise Line Hub App, ‘Pizza Anywhere’ allows guests to satisfy their cravings at any time with the touch of a button. To place an order, they simply click on the ship’s map to mark their location, take a selfie to identify themselves, and select their desired pizza (margherita, funghi, prosciutto, pepperoni and quattro formaggi).And just like that, as if Pizza Gods truly exist, a cooked-to-order, piping hot cheesy pizza will be promptly delivered to their exact location!Pizzas cost a very affordable US$5 each (another selling point), which is automatically charged to guests’ Sail & Sign shipboard accounts.First available on Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista, ‘Pizza Anywhere’ on Hub App has now been extended to nine other ships: Carnival Victory, Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Dream, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Glory, Carnival Ecstasy, and Carnival Liberty.More news:  Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portal“At Carnival, we want to help our guests Choose Fun from the moment they book their cruise,” said Ron Dillehay, vice president of booked guest e-commerce and guest experience for Carnival Cruise Line. “The new features on the Hub App bring their vacation planning to the palm of their hand in ways that consumers have come to expect from great technology.”The upgraded app also allows guests to manage their booking, complete their online check-in and purchase a wide variety of items and experiences before departure, including shore excursions, spa treatments and specialty dining reservations.All that sounds great, but really, you had us at ‘Pizza Anywhere’. Order up! Travelweek Group Posted by Tags: Carnival Corporation, Carnival Cruise Line, Food, Pizza Sharecenter_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Stop the presses! You can now order pizza anywhere at sea Monday, February 11, 2019 last_img read more

Caja to invest 20 million in improvements at San Juan de Dios

first_imgNo related posts. The capital’s San Juan de Dios Hospital will receive millions in aid from the government’s Social Security System (CCSS) orCaja. The investment will of ¢10,147 million ($20 million) will go toward 47 infrastructure projects and equipment.Caja Executive President Ileana Balmaceda said that the projects will include the equipping of 15 operating rooms at the medical facility.“In addition to these works, the Caja is working in 46 additional projects, some already completed, others are in progress, including the services of neurosurgery, urology rooms, hem dialysis and chemotherapy pharmacy,” she added.According to Balmaceda, the Caja is aiming with these projects to improve the hospital services and create a safer facility. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Colonial charm across the border

first_imgAs colonial tile roofs and jewel-colored homes rose to meet us, the sun shrank behind the looming Mombacho Volcano and it became clear – we weren’t in Costa Rica anymore.After a rainy, three-hour drive from Liberia, Guanacaste, we had finally crossed the border hassle-free and arrived at our destination: Granada, Nicaragua – the country’s oldest city. On the shores of Lake Nicaragua, this is a city shrouded in history and brimming with culture.I had been craving a cultural immersion for some time now, something a little more challenging than surfing and sipping mojitos on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast. With just a few days left before my Costa Rican tourist visa expired, a weekend trip to Granada seemed like the perfect excuse to both renew my passport and experience a different part of Central America. Founded by the conquistador Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in 1524, Granada would be the oldest city in Nicaragua if it didn’t battle for the same title with the northwestern city of León, which was actually founded in the same year, also by the same guy (Córdoba is also considered one of the founders of Nicaragua itself.)The city has done an impeccable job in reconstruction and maintenance over the years – the main Catedral de Granada has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, most recently in 1915. The Spanish government also helped with financing much of the city’s reconstruction, including sponsoring the recent project to turn the main drag, Calle Calzada, into a cobblestone, pedestrian-only pathway. With such meticulous preservation, the city retains its quaint colonial feel and the brightly colored chapels remain steeped in history.I awoke on the first morning to a heaping plate of the local staple, gallo pinto, scrambled eggs, fried cheese and plantains – a savory kick-start to a day of sightseeing in Granada. We hit the pavement on foot, the best way to get a close look at the elegant houses that line Granada’s city streets.Each worn wooden entryway is slightly different than the next, and the pastel painted homes contain open-air, European-style courtyards, often featuring elaborate gardens, water fountains and swimming pools. Kids play dodgeball in the streets and old men sip piping cups of coffee in front porch rocking chairs, chatting with neighbors.European backpackers and American tourist families seem to blend easily with the locals. Calle Calzada and its cluster of Irish pubs, Mexican restaurants and souvenir shops cater to travelers from around the world. But, wander several blocks south and you’ll stumble upon the buzzing Mercado Municipal, where local street vendors sell everything from knockoff Nikes and car parts to eggs and local cheeses. Suzanna Lourie Suzanna Lourie One of Lake Nicaragua’s Isletas.  A vendor in the Mercado Municipal. No related posts. The interior of Los Patios.  Suzanna Lourie El Zaguan serves up some very delicious steak.  The melting pot of modern Granada echoes the city’s rich history. Back in the colonial times, Granada achieved more grandeur than other cities due to its location on Lake Nicaragua, which connected it to commercial ports on the Atlantic Ocean. The city flourished as an important trading hub, sending goods throughout Central America from its shores. With its strategic port location, Granada grew with Spanish and other European influences shaping the same architecture, design and population of today.Today, Granada’s allure of church bells and Catholic processions in the streets blend with the international bohemianism of hip bars and European-style cafes. Always bustling with activity, Granada is a place where culture, charm and custom thrive, a can’t-miss experience in Central America.What to doWalk: First and foremost, break out your camera and explore Granada’s picturesque streets on foot. Look down as you’re walking – the eccentric styles and prints are fabulously intricate and no two are alike. Be sure to visit the main square or Parque Central, which sits in the shadow of the lemon-hued Catedral de Granada and boasts tiny peddler stalls of scrumptious street food and inexpensive handicrafts.Ride: On the Western edge of the Parque Central near the Hotel Plaza Colon, you’ll notice a row of horse drawn carriages waiting to whisk you off on a city tour. For around $15, a driver will trot with you down some of Granada’s streets you might not reach on foot – an informative and interesting way to see the city (roughly one hour). The driver will be happy to take you to any church, museum or sightseeing spot on your list. Haggle: You won’t want to miss out on the myriad vendors selling knickknacks and handicrafts throughout Granada’s street markets. Locals sell Nicaraguan T-shirts for under $5, woven bracelets and stone-crafted jewelry among other cute gifts to take home. Those seeking a more authentic experience will be pleased to know Granada is home to one of the best selections of antiques in Central America. Don’t miss these rare treasure troves:El Anticuario:Step back in time in Felicia Sandino’s historic haven, El Anticuario. Piled high with intricately carved wooden doors, aged bronze statues and worn mahogany trunks, Sandino’s shop feels more like a museum than retail store. El Anticuario’s courtyard is full of treasures – the rest of Sandino’s passion since she began collecting antiques in 1993. Each item is hand-selected and harbors its own piece of Nicaragua’s rich history. Sandino and her knowledgeable staff are friendly, helpful and known to give good deals when buying multiple items. El Anticuario, Calle Atravesada, Parque Sandino, 1 ½ cuadras al sur. 505-2552-4457. anticuariofelicia@gmail.com.Harold’s Antiques:Harold Sandino, brother of Felicia, keeps it in the family at his equally beautiful antique shop west of the city center. The pair has been in the collecting business for decades now and both El Anticuario and Harold’s Antiques are treasure troves waiting to be discovered. Ask at your hotel for directions. 505-8982-0597, 505-2550-0366, haroldsandino@hotmail.com Where to eat Suzanna Lourie City tours via horse carriage are delightful.  Pray: The golden yellow, classic colonial Catedral de Granada sits at the end of Calle Calzada on the east end of Parque Central. Originally built in 1583, the cathedral has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the years – most recently in 1915. Admire its stained-glass windows and towering chapels as you stroll around the central plaza and explore the many street stalls selling a variety of local snacks and souvenirs.Shop: One block south of the Parque Central, the Mercado Municipal is as authentic as they come. If you can work your way past the gritty street stalls, you’ll find everything from shampoo to sneakers. Jammed full of locals, the market isn’t as touristy as the main center and is relatively dingy once you’re in the thick of things. It’s worth a visit, but avid market-goers might want to check out the nearby handicraft hub of Masaya, a short cab ride away. Located one block south of the central plaza, Granada, Nicaragua.Pay respects: If you’re taking a horse-drawn carriage city tour, ask your driver to stop at the Cementario de Granada. Hauntingly beautiful, this sprawling cemetery dates back to the late 19th century and houses the tombs and mausoleums of some of Granada’s wealthiest families including several former Nicaraguan presidents. One popular highlight is the stone Chapel of Spirits (Capilla de Animas), a to-scale replica of the famous French version.Island hop: One of the most popular and worthwhile activities in Granada is a two-hour tour of Las Isletas – a series of 365 (so they say) tiny volcanic islands off Granada’s shore in Lake Nicaragua formed by an ancient eruption of the Mombacho Volcano (now inactive for centuries). Book with one of many tour companies or simply head down to the lake yourself and hire a boat yourself. The tour shouldn’t cost more than $15 unless you stop for lunch on one of the tiny island restaurants. Skip lunch on the lake and eat in town – the island restaurants are pricy in comparison and menus are limited. Cruise around in a panga or kayak and check out the beautiful island vacation homes of some of Nicaragua’s most famous families. With most islands only big enough for a single home, hotel or restaurant (one even boasts an old, cerca-1974, Spanish fortress), the Isletas display a fascinating and tranquil way of life. Suzanna Lourie From $5-a-night hostel dorm rooms to luxurious 4-star boutique hotels, Granada has plenty of accommodations for every budget and taste.Los Patios Hotel:Just outside the bustle of the main square, Los Patios Hotel is an oasis of tranquility located down the quiet street of Calle Corrales. Mediterranean design elements blend with traces of Granada’s rich Spanish colonial architecture in this one-of-a-kind, 5-room boutique hotel. Open-air patios feature large Moroccan lounge cushions, a lap pool and secluded spa – the perfect place to relax and unwind. One highlight is the breakfast (included) of gallo pinto (rice and beans), eggs, fried cheese and plantains or order the a European spread of various cheeses, breads, jams, crepes and eggs. Both come with fresh fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice and a choice of coffee or tea. Rooms start at $90/night. 525 Calle Corrales, Granada, Nicaragua. 505-2552-0641, info@lospatiosgranada.com, www.lospatiosgranada.com.Hotel Casa San Francisco: Still comfortable and slightly easier on your wallet is Hotel Casa San Francisco. Centrally located just off the main plaza near the San Francisco Church, Hotel Casa San Francisco is a well-priced, nine-room boutique hotel tastefully decorated with a cozy, homelike atmosphere. Rooms feature a private balcony, air-conditioning and safety deposit box. Rooms start at $65. Diagonal from the San Francisco Convent, Calle Corral #207, Granada, Nicaragua. 505-2552-8235, www.hotelcasasanfrancisco.com. Facebook Comments Granada’s tourist boom and bohemian expat community have given way to countless restaurants that feature everything from local Nicaraguenese cuisine to international Asian, Mexican and European dishes. With local Victoria and Tona beers averaging $1.20 at a bar and a full-fledged steak dinner at around $10, you won’t break the bank sampling some of the region’s best dining.El Zaguan:The best steak, hands down. Serving up mouth-watering local cuisine in a friendly, steakhouse atmosphere, El Zaguan deserves its reputation as one of the best dining spots in Granada. Tables are always full of tourists and locals hungry for the “Tipico la gran sultana,” a juicy tenderloin served with a heaping plate of fried cheese, plantains, mashed beans and cabbage salad for roughly 360 cordoba ($15). Each dish comes with a salad appetizer and warm bread freshly baked in the wood-fired oven. The menu includes other dishes such as pasta, chicken and “guapote,” a bass caught in the lake and served whole. Calle La Calzada, one block behind the Cathedral, Granada, Nicaragua. 505-2552-2522.El Tercer Ojo: El Tercer Ojo or “The Third Eye,” is an eclectic fusion restaurant born from Granada’s bohemian expat community. With tables draped in flowing scarfs, Buddha statues lining the walls and Hindu paintings adorning the walls, El Tercer Ojo brings guests into another world. The menu is wonderfully diverse and features specials such as 2-for-1 sushi on Saturdays and a happy hour that runs until 8 p.m. Snack on appetizers like a mixed meat, cheese and olive plate or mozzarella, tomato and basil served on a tostada. Entrees include a variety of sweet and savory crepes, sushi, meats, pastas and seafood dishes. Average entrée between $7-$11. Calle Arsenal, Granada, Nicaragua. 505-2552-6451.Euro Café: Located on the northwest corner of the Parque Central, Euro Café is a reliable stop for strong coffee drinks, smoothies and healthy snacks. Bring your computer and sit in the courtyard as you sip a coffee and sample a vegetarian panini or hummus and pita plate. A great choice for lunch.  Northwest Corner of Parque Central, next to Hotel Colonial, Granada, Nicaragua. 505-2552-2146. Where to staylast_img read more

El Niñorelated flooding causes snake invasion beach closures in Argentina

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica nearing record rainfall for May First nine months of 2015 shatter heat records worldwide High tides expected along Pacific coast this week More than 3,000 evacuees remain at shelters as rains continue over Costa Rica ROSARIO, Argentina — An invasion of poisonous snakes washed downriver in recent floods forced authorities to close beaches to summer holidaymakers in northern Argentina, officials said Monday.Floodwaters in the Río Plata and Río Paraná carried a species of water lily and with it countless crawling, slithering creatures, south to beaches at the mouths of those rivers near Buenos Aires.“We are raising awareness of the risk and danger present today. There are otters and species of snakes that are poisonous,” said Matías Leyes, an official in the coastal town of Quilmes, south of the capital.“The beaches of Quilmes have been closed as a precaution. We were cleaning up the coast during the week and while doing so we saw the snakes under the water lilies.”Inland river beaches were also closed over the weekend in the northern city of Rosario.Locals there spotted displaced animals such as otters, a wild boar and a fox cub as well as snakes, scorpions and stinging insects.Water covered the beaches and even the terraces of seaside bars in Rosario, as summer temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius.“It is dangerous because when there is not much beach there is more risk of coming into direct contact with rodents or snakes, whose dens are all flooded,” said Gonzalo Ratner, a top civil defense official in Rosario.Experts have blamed severe flooding in recent weeks in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay on the El Niño extreme weather phenomenon. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Malaysia firm says hightech farms can help poor

first_img Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Iris says the “Rimbunan Kasih” villages are environmentally friendly. It says construction of the houses requires no timber or concrete, and that its farm technology cuts waste. Water is recycled from fish tanks to the mechanically irrigated vegetable pots.Najib is expected to launch the first village before the end of the year as part of efforts to bring better wages to rural regions, where official data show about 8.5 percent of Malaysians live in poverty. In rural parts of peninsular Malaysia, the government considers families earning less than 743 ringgit ($242) a month to be living in poverty.The poverty rate is far lower than the 58 percent in 1970, but there has been little improvement since the 1990s. So far, villagers in the project have comprised the country’s majority ethnic Malay Muslims as well as a small number of indigenous tribal people, all of whom make up the bulk of the country’s rural poor.___Some see the project as a model for how the corporate sector can become more closely involved in Malaysia’s anti-poverty efforts.Tan hopes he can also drum up interest in other countries in Asia and Africa for such villages, as well as potentially build integrated farms in refugee camps. Associated PressPULAU MANIS, Malaysia (AP) – For one Malaysian widow, moving to this experimental farming village represented hope for a brighter future for her seven children. Her new neighbor, also among the first to settle here, sought an easier life after years of low-paying, back-breaking plantation labor.The corporation that built this rural community two years ago sees it as part charity, part test kitchen. The villagers _ 80 families in all _ live for free in low-cost bungalows and work on a high-tech hydroponic farm, a setup the company hopes to replicate elsewhere. Top Stories 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Mohd Khanif Yusop, a professor specializing in agriculture and land management at Malaysia’s Putra University, said the project must strike a balance between being cost-effective and producing lucrative crops.“In spite of the costs of the hydroponic system, it’s possible for you to market high-value crops at a high price,” he said. “But then, if your lettuce is more expensive than the lettuce imported from China, then it won’t be sustainable.”Tan acknowledges there have been problems: A few villagers were reprimanded for failing to show up for work, while another struggled with a drug addiction.But residents of Pulau Manis and the second village in nearby Padang Rumbia district told The Associated Press they are happy with their new homes and feel safe. Villagers in Padang Rumbia are nurturing a sense of community by organizing soccer games and get-togethers to spruce up the neighborhood.Asked how long he hopes to stay, Padang Rumbia resident Hanif Abdul Hamid grins and replies: “Until they kick me out. Why should I go anywhere else?”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix By early last year, families selected by Pahang’s welfare and religious authorities left behind their cramped wooden shacks to move into three-bedroom, brick-and-mortar houses built in neat rows on bare land surrounded by vestiges of palm oil plantations. Grocery shops and a school are nearby, but it’s nearly an hour’s drive to the closest major town.Iris also constructed plant nurseries where many villagers now tend to cabbage, tomatoes, rock melons, okra, lettuce and chili peppers. Iris sells the produce in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city, as well as in neighboring Singapore.Iris uses technology it calls the “autopot system.” Each plant is in its own pot that regulates the delivery of water and nutrients, using less water than other farming methods. The company says it is “absolutely certain” the villages will be profitable from crop earnings and sustainable in the long term, though it was unable to provide specific projections.___Among the residents is Faizal Zulkifli, a thin, darkly tanned father of three. His bungalow is almost indistinguishable from his neighbors’, with a rust-tainted motorcycle, papaya tree and a clothesline filled with sarongs and sweat pants in his front yard. His living room is sparsely furnished with a worn-out couch and a table topped with baby formula and fruits. ___A few months after the Pulau Manis village was completed, Iris began building a similar village about a half-hour drive away. Early this year, another 50 families moved into the second village, which features space for raising chickens and water tanks where thousands of freshwater fish are now bred.It wasn’t long before Malaysia’s federal government took notice of both villages, which Iris says cost a total of 16 million ringgit ($5.2 million) to develop. Tan, the Iris executive, gave Prime Minister Najib Razak a tour of one of the villages.Subsequently, government officials agreed to fund the construction of at least five more villages by Iris in various Malaysian states, each costing about 25 million ringgit ($8.2 million). The project is known in the Malay language as “Rimbunan Kasih,” loosely translated as “Canopies of Love.”Each upcoming village will contain 100 houses and wide-ranging farm facilities, as well as community halls, places of worship and computer laboratories.There will be other upgrades: The 1,000-square-foot (100-square-meter) houses will be better insulated and can be constructed faster, within 10 days instead of four weeks, with Iris using its own building panels made of Styrofoam and mineral compounds. Tan said it is “not unlike making a house out of Lego blocks.” 0 Comments   Share   It’s far from a luxurious existence, but it’s better than what his family had when he worked on a palm oil plantation.“I remember when we lived before in a house with no electricity, no tap water,” he said, carrying his year-old son while taking a break from his work doing farm equipment maintenance.He said his work is a cinch compared to his old job loading heavy bunches of palm oil fruits onto trucks.Norlailawati Yusof feels much the same way. She used to work as a housemaid in another Pahang province, earning 15 ringgit ($5) a day. Now she makes three times that much working on Iris’ farm.Norlailawati, whose husband died of pneumonia several years ago, prunes vegetables planted neatly in mechanically irrigated pots inside a plastic-shaded, nylon-walled nursery. She says the morning heat and the menial chores rarely faze her, since she considers it a blessing to be earning a steady salary.And her present working hours _ seven hours a day, six days a week _ feel less demanding, enabling her to devote more time to her children.“I don’t worry so much anymore,” says Norlailawati, who wears a flowing Muslim headscarf and a loose-fitting dress while working. “I can afford to send my seven children to school.” Four benefits of having a wireless security system Sponsored Stories “We thought that we should do something different, instead of just donating money,” said Tan Say Jim, managing director of Malaysian technology firm Iris Corp. “Even if we give you a little money, you’ll still be poor. We wanted to really touch lives.”The government is now involved in a plan to build similar villages across this Southeast Asian country, where nearly one of 10 people in rural provinces lives below the official poverty line.___The idea for the village began at Iris, a company whose interests range from passport computer chips to agricultural equipment, much of which is in use at Kampung Pulau Manis and a second village set up this year.Collaborating with a local Islamic bank for charity work, Iris executives brainstormed a plan to develop homes and a farm on 25 acres (10 hectares) of abandoned land that state authorities offered in Pulau Manis district, in eastern Pahang state.Malaysia’s government regularly encourages companies to conduct “corporate social responsibility” programs; in recent years, these ranged from oil-and-gas company BP helping to manage a sanctuary for endangered turtles to toothpaste manufacturer Colgate providing oral care travel kits to Muslim pilgrims bound for Saudi Arabia. Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day 4 sleep positions for men and what they meanlast_img read more

Climate of fear engulfs Burundi ahead of polls

first_imgBUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — The head of Burundi’s journalists’ union spends all but half an hour each day in a tiny room in an undisclosed location in the capital in fear for his life, as this central African nation is engulfed in turmoil over the president’s decision to run for another term.Alexandre Niyungeko says he received death threats after publicly opposing the president’s plan to run again. Like dozens of other human rights activists, journalists and opposition officials he has gone into hiding to protect himself from what he says are death squads backing the government. Niyenguko, the head of the journalists’ union, said he went into hiding after he was told that members of the ruling party’s youth wing were planning to kill him.After he gave an interview on TV about the coup saying it was the consequence of Nrurunziza’s candidacy, he received dozens of messages telling him his days were numbered.He then moved his family to somewhere he hoped they would be safe and chose another location for his own hiding place.“It’s a shame and irresponsible to see security forces and intelligence service attacking media daily, as if there were no laws,” he said. “I feel like a father who is unable to protect his own children.”Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Even the vice president of the country’s election commission doesn’t feel safe and fled the country over the weekend. Spes-Caritas Ndironkeye left for Canada without notifying her boss, said commission spokesman Prosper Ntahorwamiye.The media in particular has been targeted, with grenade attacks against four independent radio stations and a TV station, leaving just the state-owned media on the air. Journalists who witnessed the attacks charge that it was done by government intelligence officials and police.“I am deeply worried by the extremely tense situation in Burundi. We are receiving alarming messages from human rights defenders and journalists fearing for their safety,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said recently.Burundi, a country of 10 million people which exports mostly coffee and depends heavily on foreign aid, experienced an ethnic-based civil war from 1993 to 2003 which killed at least 250,000 people.The current violence has led to a mass exodus of more than 90,000 refugees fleeing the country since the protests began, many of whom fled violence before.Presidential elections are slated for June 26, but regional leaders on Sunday called for the poll to be postponed to create an environment more conducive to the polls. Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milkcenter_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes How do cataracts affect your vision? Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Comments   Share   A climate of fear has engulfed Burundi as attacks against those opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza are on the rise.“The life of anyone who opposes Pierre Nkurunziza is in danger. People are being assassinated here and there,” leading opposition figure Agathon Rwasa told The Associated Press.The protests, which have left 20 dead and hundreds injured, came to a head on May 13 when an army general announced a coup against the president while he was out of the country at a regional summit about the crisis in neighboring Tanzania. The attempt was defeated in 48 hours and has been followed by a spike of attacks on anyone opposing the president.On May 23, opposition leader Zedi Feruzi, who had called for the protests, was killed in a drive-by shooting that also killed a bodyguard and wounded a journalist. A day earlier two people were killed in a grenade attack on a marketSome neighborhoods in the capital are now experiencing almost daily running battles between police firing live bullets and stone-throwing protesters who vow not to leave the streets until the president drops his candidacy. Protesters barricade their neighborhoods at night and stay awake in fear of late night attacks by police or pro-government militia.last_img read more

Romania Parliament to vote on tax cuts that president nixed

first_img Top Stories Comments   Share   Mesa family survives lightning strike to home President Klaus Iohannis refused to pass into law the tax cuts on June 17, saying they could lead to “domestic and external risks,” including unsustainable economic growth.The measures included a proposed sales tax cut to 19 percent from 24, salary tax cuts, and a reduction of fuel taxes, all scheduled to take effect at the start of next year.The tax cuts are important for the embattled ruling party to boost its popularity ahead of 2016 Parliamentary elections.Prime Minister Victor Ponta was indicted on wide-ranging corruption charges on July 13 related to work he did as a lawyer in 2007-2008. In May, acting chairman Dragnea was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence for defrauding an election to impeach the former president. Both Ponta and Dragnea deny wrongdoing.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The vital role family plays in society New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s center-left ruling party will recall Parliament from its summer recess to vote on a redrafted series of tax cuts after the president refused to pass the previous proposals into law.Acting chairman of the governing Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, said Monday that Parliament would debate and vote on the new measures on Aug 24-25, after consulting with central bank officials about their viability.center_img Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility How do cataracts affect your vision?last_img read more

Leading Hot els of the World

first_imgCondé Nast Traveler UK named eight members of The Leading Hotels of the World to its just-released “Hot List 2011” of the ‘World’s Best New Hotels’.The eight new hotels listed are Vidago Palace Portugal, Setai Fifth Avenue New York, Hullett House Hong Kong, Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hotel Fasano Punta del Este, The Royal Mansour Marrakech, The Taleon Imperial Hotel St Petersburg and Principe Forte dei Marmi Italy. These hotels share a common standard in their artful blend of high style as well as a strong sense of place. For more information on The Leading Hotels of the World visit lhw.com or contact your travel professional. Vidago Palace Hotel Portugal Source = The Leading Hotels of the Worldlast_img read more

TQ ATEC to work closely together through MoU

first_imgOne of Queensland’s star attractions:the sea turtle Queensland tour operators look set to benefit from a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Tourism Queensland and the Australian Tourism Export Council at last week’s ATEC Symposium on Hamilton Island.  The MoU will see the two organisations work more closely together, with TQ chief executive Anthony Hayes saying the partnership would provide new business opportunities for the state’s “second largest export earner”. “ATEC is a key link in the chain which helps our tourism operators market and sell their product to the more than two million international visitors who come to Queensland each year,” Mr Hayes said. According to the TQ boss, ATEC also provides valuable opportunities for tourism operators to network with inbound wholesalers as well as participate in industry development initiatives.     ATEC services, workshops and familiarisations will likewise receive the support of TQ, with ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani saying the closer ties would bring “great benefits to ATEC members both in Queensland and nationally”. “ATEC supports the tourism industry through networking, education, advocacy and industry development and strong collaborations with state agencies are important in the delivery of many of our programs,” Ms Mariani said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Asian stars promote travel down under

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Two of Asia’s most famous celebrities have been recruited by Tourism Australia to promote the destination through online initiatives, music video clips and chatter.Commencing promotion this week with a new online drama series shooting in Victoria, Tasmania and NSW, Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy explained that Taiwanese pop sensations, Show Lo and Rainie Yang’s combined 25 million fans online and up to ten million from Great China would help advocate Australia to one of Australia’s fastest growing markets.“Show Lo and Rainie Yang are extremely popular within Greater China,” Mr McEvoy said.  “Their appeal, magnified through this new online drama series, will create a great platform for us to promote the very best of Australia.“This campaign is another example of the power of advocacy through social media and digital platforms in tourism marketing, allowing us to reach an international audience through the web which they are actively using to plan and book holidays.”Working with local tourism operators including Tourism Victoria, Tourism Tasmania and Destination NSW, Show Lo and Rainie Yang will commence filming a series of short destination videos alongside each of the drama show’s five episode.Show Lo said he would also use Australia as the backdrop for a number of music videos from his new forthcoming album while Tourism Australia will commence online promotions linking to the two stars’ duration down under on its social media site as well as a direct mail campaign and activity with airline partner, Cathay Pacific. According to Tourism Australia, the China market is currently worth up to $3.6 billion to the industry with a 20 percent growth in arrivals from the region in 2011 compared to 2010.The new online drama is expected to broadcast on online platform, Tudou in April this year. last_img read more

Coalition to freeze antitourism tax

first_imgThe Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) and the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) stand behind the Coalition’s commitment that the PMC will remain unchanged during the first term of Government. The Coalition’s new Tourism Policy, which calls for a freeze of the Passenger Movement Charge (PMC), has received overwhelming support from Australia’s leading travel industry organisations. “This announcement today is terrific and places export tourism front and centre as an important element in our national economy,” Ms Mariani said.  “The move to include tourism as part of the trade portfolio, which has previously been bundled with the unrelated and often competitive resources industry responsibilities, is a much better fit and illustrates the valuable export opportunities tourism brings to the Australian economy.” Numerous red tape reductions, a focus on foreign affairs and trade, improved visa considerations for the burgeoning Chinese market and other industry-approved initiatives have the Coalition as the preferred party for tourism organisations leading into the 2013 election this weekend. Source = ETB News: P.T. ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani said the Coalition’s new policy also provides a key funding platform to help build and support the country’s export tourism. AFTA and ATEC support the Coalition’s decision to leave the PMC unchanged. “The PMC has been the current Government’s budget ‘play thing’ and they have used it to top up consolidated revenue for years,” AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury said. “It is an anti-tourism tax and the industry can now have a level of certainty about the applicable level for the next three years.” The Labor Party have suggested that the PMC be indexed to inflation every year.last_img read more