Shermanstravel Blog

Costa Rica

Out Escapes Gay Travel Flash Sales EventsSaving money: a trend that just won’t quit. And although pop culture tells us gays are the trendiest of the lot [buffs fingers on shirt], they’ve only just now got into the crowded flash sale game. Launching today with three week-long sales, Out Escapes carves a members-only gay niche from Jetsetter, Vacationist, Living Social Escapes, and Groupon Getaways, amongst others, with offerings given the LGBT stamp of approval, in addition to offering value-added perks above and beyond the discounts other sites may provide. Cool-with-it allies, you’re in luck, too; nobody’s going to ask whom you sleep with to sign up.

In dollar terms that means the possibility of free round-trip airport transfers, bottle of champers at check-in, comp meals, spa passes, and special guided tours. It also means group trips geared towards gays, like their last-minute Tel Aviv Pride package June 1-10, and an Events platform to securely buy tickets to circuit parties and social/charity outings not necessarily at a discount but again, with potential special perks like expedited club entry. According to the site’s co-founder/travel writing veteran, the ultimate goal is to become a full-service travel portal including a tongue-in-cheek Gay Tripper blog about fabbing it up the world over and social networking “Meet Me Here” component (live July 2012).

But for now, it’s all about the sales. Here’s a peek: Read more

Four Seasons Costa RicaLet’s say you want a warm-weather resort with all the standards: beaches, spa, assorted pools, water sports, tennis, golf. There are a lot to choose from. But now let’s say you also don’t want to travel far, and there have to be monkeys.

Lots of them. And coatis, parrots and deer. And nearby volcanic ranges. And deep-soaking tubs in the rooms and suites, with twice-daily housekeeping so you’ll never want for a towel or L’Occitane soap. Now the choice is the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica, sprawled across 99 acres of the 2,135-acre Peninsula Papagayo, in Guanacaste, on the Pacific coast.

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Arial view of Fairmont MayakobaBlack Friday bargains may lure intrepid shoppers, but it’s Cyber Monday that travel-savvy couples should be on the lookout for. A range of hotels around the country– as well as in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America – are offering 20 to 65 percent discounts on rooms for travel this winter and coming spring. The hitch: You have just 24 hours (from midnight to 11:59pm this coming Monday, November 28, 2011) to book them. Here are 10 great Cyber Monday deals that are primed for romantics: Read more

JetBlueOn November 17, JetBlue threw two parties. The first was at JFK’s Terminal 5, just before 9am, with cupcakes, coffee, smoothies, and a three-man steel band. The second was six hours later in Liberia, Costa Rica, marking the airline’s inaugural flight to the capital of the Guanacaste province, JetBlue’s second Costa Rican destination and 68th overall. That party was co-hosted by the Costa Rican minister of tourism, and started with water cannons over the A320’s fuselage, followed by three men on a marimba, a woman feistily playing a donkey jaw, and six youthful dancers in national dress, featuring lots of flouncy skirts and sashes. To promote the new four-times-weekly flight, the only non-stop to Costa Rica from JFK, one-way fares through February 15 are $119 for tickets bought by November 30, and surfboard surcharges are waived through December 17. (Catching wind of JetBlue’s plans, Continental launched its own daily directs from Newark one week before, but without the donkey-jaw, dancing, or promotions.)

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JetBlue PlanesBudget airline darling JetBlue has noticed those temps dropping, and they’re not leaving us out in the cold. The airline – currently the largest carrier in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic – is rolling out a bevy of new flights this week from New York City-area hubs that will have travelers lifting off to the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica all winter long (and beyond). Plus, they’ll launch their inaugural flight between San Juan, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten, providing a wallet-friendly new Caribbean island-hopping option in the region. Read on for the latest, and claim a sun, surf, and sand vacation from just $39 one-way, plus enter for a chance to win a JetBlue Getaways vacation, or nab a promotion to have your surfboard tag along on your next vacation fee-free. Read more

Age Discount Promo Adventure Travel

If you think adventure travel is just for the younger set, think again: A growing segment of senior travelers are looking to amp up their next trip with some adrenaline and adventure. And increasingly, tour operators are targeting this valuable demographic.

Case in point: Consider the incredible “Your Age is Your Discount” offered by Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality Resorts for six eco-luxe properties in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Back by popular demand, the promo works like this: The age of the oldest traveler in the room equals the percentage discount off the total hotel room rate.

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Parador Resort & SpaIn a country known for its ecotourism offerings, Costa Rica’s Parador Resort & Spa stands out for its sustainable travel practices without sacrificing on creature comforts. Set in the town of Manuel Antonio, about 2.5 hours from San Jose by car on the Pacific Coast, the resort’s 129 rooms and suites sport garden, jungle, or ocean views. Other facilities include three pools, four restaurants, a spa, tennis court and miniature golf, and close to a mile of nature trails. With the Costa Rica Mysteries package, you’ll enjoy three nights of eco-luxury lodging, a “Mysteries of the Night” tour of the resort’s jungle trails to view nocturnal wildlife, a tour of Manuel Antonio, and breakfast daily. Exclusive for ShermansTravel.com readers, Parador is cutting rates on this package by 30 percent. The special deal is available for travel November 1-30.

THE VALUE: Rates start at $125/night for this three-night package.

THE CATCH: The package is not available November 24.

THE DETAILS: Visit www.hotelparador.com or call 877-506-1414 and mention ShermansTravel.

WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights to Costa Rica.

For general trip-planning information, see our Costa Rica Travel Guide.

Costa RicaThere is no shortage of deals to sunny destinations in the summer months, but once winter rolls around hotel prices typically skyrocket. Not so this year at Barcelo Hotels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. The premise: the farther in advance you book your stay, the great the discount. Reserve a room more than 120 days in advance for 35 percent off; 90 to 119 days in advance for 30 percent off; 60 to 89 days in advance for 20 percent off; and 31 to 59 days in advance for a 15 percent discount. Reduced rates are available in Mexico and the Dominican Republic from November 1-April 30, 2012, and Costa Rica from December 24-April 30, 2012.

THE VALUE: All-inclusive rates at some of Mexico and the Caribbean’s top resorts start under $100 per person, per night.

THE CATCH: You’ll have to nail down your plans pretty far in advance in order to secure the best discounts. However, there’s no cancellation fee if something comes up closer to the date. There may be minimum stays around the holidays, and rates are much higher during those periods.

THE DETAILS: Go to www.barcelo.com to book, or call 800-227-2356.

WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights.

For general trip-planning information, see our Mexico Travel Guide, Costa Rica Travel Guide, and Dominican Republic Travel Guide.

Canyoneering Costa Rica dealIf you have yet to experience Costa Rica, the Central American country that’s one of the most world’s most enviable outdoor adventure playgrounds, here’s a can’t-miss deal to consider: a four-day, three-night package that includes hotel, transport within the country, most meals, and adrenaline-packed activities such as canyoneering, zip lining, rafting and horseback riding – all for just $599 (based on double occupancy).

That stellar price represents a savings of 33 percent offered by the outfitter, Tropical Adventures, along with its re-launch. The nonprofit organization, which was founded by Scott Pralinsky, an American adventure travel enthusiast who’s called Costa Rica his home since 2004, also has received plenty of praise for its authentic, volunteer-based programs, including a nod from National Geographic Adventure magazine as a Top 100 Volunteer Vacation in 2009.

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Lapa Rios EcolodgeWith age comes wisdom – and sometimes, huge savings on hotels. Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality is bringing back a popular promotion, whereby guests receive a percentage savings equal to the age of the oldest member of their group (be prepared to show ID!). All six Cayuga hotels (five in Costa Rica and one in Nicaragua) will offer the discount: Latitude 10 Beach Resort in Santa Teresa, Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the Osa Peninsula, Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn just outside San Jose, Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio, The Harmony Hotel in Nosara, and Jicaro Island Ecolodge near Granada, Nicaragua. Note that at Lapa Rios, an all-inclusive, the discount is capped at 50 percent, but for all other properties there is no limit to the savings you receive. If your 100-year-old grandpa wants to come along, that means your party stays for free! Standard rates at participating hotels range from $180/night to $480/night. The offer is valid on all stays from August 28 to November 15.

THE VALUE: The discount applies to the entire stay, and there is no restriction on length of stay.

THE CATCH: Summer and early fall are rainy season in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

THE DETAILS: Check out Cayuga’s website for information on contacting the individual hotels about the offer.

WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights.

For general trip-planning information, see our Costa Rica Travel Guide.

Take off to Costa Rica this summer and fall and enjoy a fourth night free at participating Marriott Resorts. Nightly rates at the Residence Inn San Jose Escazu start from just $120! Guests staying three nights will receive a fourth night free as well as daily breakfast for two adults and two children! Other participating Marriotts are available at an additional cost and include, Courtyard San Jose Escazu, Los Suneos Marriott, and the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose. Stay in the bustling capital of San Jose where museums, cafes, and parks are in abundance, or relax on long stretches of black sand beach in Herrradura, located on the central Pacific coast. Travel is valid through November 9, 2011.

THE VALUE: Depending on the resort, guests can save over $200 on the fourth night free. The breakfast is valued at $100 for two adults and $150 with two children.

THE CATCH: A three night minimum is required.

THE DETAILS: To book your stay, visit www.marriott.com, using promo code S29.

WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find low rates on flights to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Start planning your vacation with our Costa Rica Travel Guide.

Zephyr PalaceTo celebrate its 20th anniversary, Villa Caletas and its newer neighbor Zephyr Palace are offering every other night for $20, even for one of the over-the-top palace suites (usually priced from $550/night and up). The two properties are tucked away on a secluded hilltop in Jaco. Both afford tony views of the lush countryside and Pacific, have serious infinity pools (Zephyr palace pool pictured), and share a private beach (complimentary transport takes guests down through the jungle trails to the shore). Villa Caletas comprises 49 rooms and bungalows scattered amid the jungle, while the Zephyr Palace is a kind of otherworldly manse with seven themed suites (the African suite is right out of Africa, and comes with floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views and a private balcony with hammock and Jacuzzi). Both are popular wedding and honeymoon spots.

THE VALUE: Book a night in any room at Villa Caletas or the Zephyr Palace, now through December 20, and get the second, fourth, sixth, eighth (and so on) for only $20/night. Room rates start from $180/night at Villas Caletas and $550/night at Zephyr Palace.

THE CATCH: Traveling in Costa Rica in summer/fall could mean more showers, but the light sprinkles or sporadic showers are often times refreshing.

THE DETAILS: Email reservations@villacaletas.com or call 011-506-2630-3000

WE’VE GOT MORE: For more trip-planning info see our Costa Rica Travel Guide then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find great rates on flights.

Hacienda Santa InésIn the Wild West, scalps weren’t massaged – they were removed. Yet cowboy retreats from California to Costa Rica are trading leather for lavender and treating guests to some ranch-inspired pampering.

Hacienda Santa Ines, Costa Rica

The Ranch This winter, the 11-room Hacienda Santa Inés ranch debuted in a prime locale in Costa Rica – 5,000 feet up in the Tres Rios Mountain range. The 980-acre private estate features a 16-stall stable and lush gardens. ATV rides and trout fishing can be arranged.
The Spa Guests can book customized treatments 24/7 at the stone-designed spa, which is conveniently built beside the pool.
Signature Rubdown A four-hand massage targets specific muscle groups – upper thighs, glutes, calves – that take a beating on horseback. Villas from $12,000, including meals, drinks, and treatments; haciendasantaines.com
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Como Hotels & ResortsForget ashram-style deprivation: Nirvana and high thread counts go hand in hand at these well-appointed retreats that welcome the bendy yogi and the curious novice alike. Flowing classes, indulgent spa therapies, and dazzling surroundings? Just say om.

LESS THAN $1,500

A mountainside hideaway enables guests to explore Costa Rica as well as the inner self.
RETREAT In airy pavilions at Pura Vida Retreat and Spa overlooking the capital San José, instructors teach a variety of yoga styles, from slower, less flowing Iyengar to the more dynamic vinyasa and power flow varieties.
RELAX Guests with sore muscles can find relief at the spa, where therapists offer treatments such as Cloud Forest Magic, a holistic, deep-tissue massage that incorporates aromatherapy and a detoxifying steam for the body.
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road_less_traveled_finds_teens_and_families_volunteering_on_vacationSpend just five minutes with your teen while she’s forlorn or disengaged, and the idea of one of you leaving town won’t seem like a bad idea. And while that scenario’s not what Jim and Donna Stein had in mind when they began The Road Less Traveled, the couple has lured thousands of teens out of town – with and without their families – for vacations commingling adventure and community service.

Helping out the locals during vacation has been aggressively marketed in recent years with the buzzword “voluntourism,” but the Steins can’t be accused of being trendy, as they’ve been running their adventure trips combining recreation and camping and volunteering for 20 years.

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