With 70,000 Tons of Metal's addition of New Jersey's Swashbuckle, Mastodon can't be far behind. These pirate-metal maniacs are the 14th act of an eventual 40. Each will give new, heavy meaning to the luxury cruise ship Majesty of the Seas when it embarks from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, and back to Miami, Jan. 24-28, 2011.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Inter-American Development Bank said Monday it has agreed to forgive $479 million in debts owed by quake-ravaged Haiti.
Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno said the bank's board of governors voted to forgive the debt and will offer $2 billion in financing to the Caribbean nation over the next 10 years.
"This commitment is good news for all Haitians, and will help heal the wounds caused by the earthquake," Moreno said at the inauguration of the bank's annual meeting in the Caribbean coast resort of Cancun.
Mexico's transport and communications ministry (SCT) is relaunching the concession tender for the Riviera Maya international airport in Quintana Roo state.
The new airport will cost some 3.2bn pesos (US$255mn), and will be the first entirely concessioned airport in Mexico, President Felipe Calderón said during a ceremony broadcast live from Tulum in Quintana Roo.
Bidding rules for the tender will be available from April 15, according to deputy transport minister Humberto Treviño Landois.
The new airport will occupy some 1,500ha located 130km south of Cancún airport, and is expected to handle 3mn passengers each year.
Cancun has united with more than 117 countries and thousands of cities and towns around the world that will turn off their non-essential lights for one hour
from 8:30 to 9:30pm – Earth Hour – on March 27th, to demonstrate in a symbolic, but forceful way, that governments, private initiatives and citizens should work together to make a difference in combating climate change. In Cancun, lights will be turned off at the Plaza Forum by the Sea, an icon of the city and the national tourist sector, where a large group of citizens engaged to this cause are expected to gather.
Monday, March 22, 2010
My previous trips to Cozumel have been spent mainly underwater, sucking air from a scuba tank and making google eyes at groupers and moray eels.
Not this time.
I have one day on the top side of this island, and I'm going to make the most of it.
We're looking for a little solitary non-confinement, so we keep driving past the reggae beach bar to a quaint little thatch-roofed palapa advertising cold beer and snacks.
It's in the middle of nowhere, and the sound of surf crashing is better than Mozart. We nibble ceviche and absorb the view, which is bursting with white sand and turquoise water, just like those TV commercials for Mexican cerveza.
The United States wants the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to cancel all of Haiti's debt, standing at some $447 million, US Treasury sources said on Thursday.
The United States also supports a "robust" increase in the bank's capital, the main issue on the agenda of its annual meeting in Cancun, Mexico, which was scheduled to start yesterday, one of the sources said, without giving a figure.
"What we have to work out is the manner in which Haiti's debt to this institution (IDB) is cancelled," another source said in a telephone conference with journalists, giving the figure as $447 million.
The US Senate last week unanimously approved a resolution calling for easing Haiti's debt burden to help with reconstruction efforts in the wake of the devastating January 12 earthquake.
The IDB estimates that Haiti's reconstruction could cost up to $14 billion.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
ACI World has named Cancun’s International Airport the top performing airport in the Latin America-Caribbean region. The selection process is a reflection of the region’s strong customer service culture, airport management commitment to service, delivery and the high quality of modern passenger facilities at the airport.
In addition, ACI also recognized Cancun with the ‘Best Improvement Award’, which recognized airports that have made the most progress in improving service quality. The 2009 passenger ratings show that despite the economic crisis, overall satisfaction at airports increased by almost three percent worldwide compared to 2008.
Cancun has been recognized as a leading airport that recognizes that the most important aspect of providing great service in an airport is the provision of a spotlessly clean terminal and a relaxed, open, friendly ambience. They also recognize that it is vital to address the basics first. Ten factors identified as essential for high customer service ratings are, by order of importance: the ambience of the airport, cleanliness of the terminal, comfort of the waiting areas, availability of washrooms, cleanliness of washrooms, courtesy and helpfulness of the airport staff, business lounges, ease of making connections, passport / ID inspection experience and good shopping facilities.
"The purchase of Le Meridien Cancun Resort & Spa is a wonderful addition to the Sandos Hotels & Resorts product line and offers superior accommodations, a world-class spa facility, and a paramount location for our clientele," said Alex Ferri, director of strategy and development, Sandos Hotels & Resort.
"Le Meridien Cancun Resort & Spa will continue to offer the same superior service levels and quality amenities that guests have been accustom to, however it will now be operated by Sandos Hotels & Resorts," added Ferri.
Situated on the magnificent Caribbean Sea, Le Meridien Cancun Resort & Spa offers the ultimate in relaxation and enjoyment for guests. With a world-class 15,000 sq. ft spa facility, three-tiered cascading pool, and walking distance to downtown nightlife fabulous shopping, the resort is sure to exceed the needs of even the most discerning traveler.
THE Cancun and Isla Mujeres Underwater Art Museum is a step closer to becoming the world's largest underwater museum by adding three new sculptures.
The sculptures - Dream Collector, Man on Fire and The Gardener of Hope – were carefully submerged to a variety of different depths throughout the national park.
Created by British/Guyanese artist Jason de Caires Taylor, the sculptures were placed near natural reefs and marine life in order to create an artificial habitat.
Q: My sister-in-law swam with dolphins on a cruise excursion in Cancun. We're thinking about visiting Mexico in the spring -- not on a cruise -- and would like to try this. How do we find a good program? Are children allowed to swim, too?
A: Dozens of outfits in Mexico offer basic dolphin encounters -- in which participants shake hands, hug and kiss the dolphins, usually in programs that last 45 minutes and cost between $79 and $99. (All figures U.S. funds.)
Some companies also provide more personalized or all-inclusive experiences. Here are two organizations recommended by Mexican tour agencies:
- Dolphin Discovery operates dolphinariums in Isla Mujeres near Cancun; Cozumel; Puerto Aventuras in the Riviera Maya; Aquaventuras Park in Vallarta; and at Six Flags Mexico. The company is known for its all-inclusive packages, which may include transportation, breakfast, lunch, open bars, tours and other water-based activities. For example, Isla Mujeres has programs that feature snorkelling and kayaking at Garrafon Park; at Cozumel, visitors can snorkel the coral reefs of Chankanaab National Park; and Vallarta includes a water park with 10 slides and a playground area (park entrance fee is required)
Friday, March 12, 2010
Even if your college days are a distant memory, it's possible to travel on a student discount over spring break this year.
StudentUniverse, which has operated as an online travel agency exclusively for college students since 2000, expanded its discounts to recent college grads up to age 25 earlier this year. And StudentCity, which specializes in vacation packages for college and high school students, said that while it doesn't advertise the fact, its discounts aren't restricted by age.
"We specifically market to students but do not exclude the young at heart from travel on our tours," said Jacqueline Lewis, managing director at StudentCity in Peabody, Mass.
Some of the best deals come in the form of packages or group tours. A weeklong trip in late March to Cancun from Atlanta with a room at the hip ME Cancún was $2,014 for two on StudentCity.com, or $1,007 a person. The same trip on Expedia.com was $2,966 for two, or $1,483 a person, though cheaper rates could be found by selecting less convenient flights, requiring a longer layover on the way there and returning at midnight. And STA Travel is offering a weeklong Galapagos trip for $2,250 a person -- about $1,000 less than comparable tours.
Cancun is not just a winter and springtime getaway destination any longer.
At least that's what Frontier Airlines hopes. The carrier will extend its nonstop service from Kansas City International Airport to the Mexican resort into late August.
Frontier will operate two Kansas City-Cancun nonstop flights _ one on Saturday and the other on Sunday _ during the final weekend of April and first weekend of May.
Then starting May 8, Frontier will have one weekly Saturday morning departure to Cancun through Aug. 28.
"Extending our service over the summer now provides the Kansas City community with greater access to their favorite Mexican vactiona destination," said Daniel Shurz, Frontier's vice president of planning and strategy, in a statement.
What would I recommend in the Riviera Maya Mexico, you ask?
The Bluebay Grand Esmeralda in the Riviera Maya, built in 2007, is set on a stretch of more than 1,500 feet of sand, lots of room for everyone to have their own piece of sand.
Blue Bay is a solid four-star, according to Sunwing buyers who recommend it highly, and I would certainly agree. It has all the things a four-star requires -- coffee pot, fridge, iron and ironing board.
My room had much more than that. It was a swim-up two-room suite. Open the patio doors, wander out on your own deck, and climb down a ladder to a pool that went nearly all the way around the villa.
For people like me, who like to swim at night it is perfect, and never did I share it with anyone else. I probably used it five times a day.
A big plus in the nicely-decorated suite was the wide corridor with lots of closets. There were two bathrooms, one shower, and one tub. I was in a resort recently where there wasn't enough closet or drawer space, and we really only had carry-on, so this was a nice treat.
President Felipe Calderon named a travel industry executive as Mexico’s new tourism secretary, replacing Rodolfo Elizondo, who will take charge of organizing this year’s U.N. climate change conference in the Caribbean resort of Cancun.
The U.N. conference, known as COP16, is scheduled for November 29 through December 10.
Gloria Guevara, up to now the vice president and general director of the firm Sabre Travel Mexico, was sworn in Wednesday as Elizondo’s successor.
Calderon thanked Elizondo for “your great professionalism and your loyalty,” as well as for his efforts to help tourism recover from the crisis that beset it starting with Mexico’s Spring 2009 swine flu outbreak.
“The participation of councilor Elizondo was essential for tourism to recover after the health contingency,” Calderon emphasized.
“It was amazing!” That’s how Tracy Shober of Superior described her week at the Grand Palladium, an all-inclusive resort in Mexico’s famous Riviera Maya region.
“The area we were at had beautiful beaches,” says Shober. “We had this humongous strip of sandy beach for our resort. It had to be three, four blocks long – all sand, and they had lounge chairs laid out for you. You could walk in [the water] barefoot and snorkel right there off the beach.”
Shober certainly isn’t alone in her praise of this 80-mile stretch of fantasy-like beaches just south of Cancun. It’s currently the number one travel destination for Northlanders looking for a winter get-away.
“There’s a multitude of all-inclusive resorts that fit every budget, every lifestyle, some geared toward families, some are adults only.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Right-hander Tomokazu Ohka has reached an agreement to play for the Quintana Roo Tigers of the Mexican League, sources said Monday.
Ohka, who became a free agent after playing for the Cleveland Indians last year, is set to formally sign with the club in the coming days.
In 2009, Ohka, who turns 34 on May 18, went 1-5 with a 5.96 ERA in 18 games, including six starts. He had hoped to pitch in the majors this season as well but decided to ply his trade in Mexico after negotiations ended in failure.
Ohka joined the Boston Red Sox in 1999 and also had stints with the Montreal Expos, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays.
He has 51 career major league wins, second most by a Japanese player after former Los Angles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo's 123 victories.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Kayak.com is a great place to start. It's a simple search engine that checks several popular search sites at the same time. Plus it's simple design isn't cluttered with lots of graphics and advertisements. Let's say I'm searching for the best deal on a trip for 2 to Cancun, Mexico on April 2nd through April 10th. After searching through Vayama, Travelocity, Priceline and several airlines, Kayak's best deal was $470. The deal was found on Priceline.
We need to make sure we're finding the best deal online. Next stop, ITASofware.com. This site acts like a travel agent insider site that hooks you up with secret-underground deals. I've read several good reviews about this site but today I wasn't impressed. Once I signed up, ITASoftware searched and couldn't find any flights under $700. So, I checked out another site; CFares.com. For a $50 annual membership fee, you will get small rebates whenever you book a through them. Each rebate may only add up to be $10 or $20 bucks but if you're like me and fly multiple times a year, that money really adds up. I checked my Cancun dates and found a flight for $648 with the rebate. Not bad but not great either.
Web users can take a virtual vacation to the Barceló Maya Beach Resort with a colorful, 60-second video, just one click away on YouTube.
To encourage interest amongstwWeb users and to introduce them to all of the offerings only a Barceló all-inclusive vacation can provide, Barceló Hotels & Resorts has launched an eight-episode online video campaign, showcasing its five-in-one property in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
Each high definition film will tell a visually enhanced story of the resort and its key features, all within 45 to 60 seconds in length. The videos, which were produced in late 2009, will be released on a bi-monthly schedule to such popular social media sites as YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo.
The campaign officially launched with the first Webisode, a resort overview, debuting on February 17, and a second Webisode on all-inclusive offerings on March 3. Future episode topics include: delectable dining (March 17); water sports and adult activities (March 31); destination weddings and honeymoons (April 14); groups, meetings and conventions (April 28); family “togethering” (May 12); and eco-friendly fun (May 26).
Monday, March 8, 2010
Apple Vacations is offering a Spring Break—Family Style sale, with 40 percent off packages to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and Cancun and Riviera Maya, Mexico. Three-, four-and seven-night packages from Buffalo-Niagara are available.
For example, seven nights at the Occidental Grand XCaret in Riviera Maya, leaving April 6, costs $1,198 per adult double, including round-trip air to Cancun, hotel, all meals, drinks, tips and airport transfers. Kids stay and eat free and pay reduced airfares. Book by March 24 for most April departures.Info: (800) 517-2000,
Seventh- and eighth-grade students at Emmaus Lutheran School have a new Spanish teacher; she lives in Cancun, Mexico.
Twice a week Tere Alvarez teaches a half hour of Spanish to Greg Rehberg's class; she commutes, via Skype. Skype's online newsletter describes their service as “a peer-to-peer Internet telephony service that is free for Skype-to-Skype calls.”
So they call their teacher in Mexico through their classroom computer using their Skype program. She in turn teaches them through a Skype link on her computer. Both parties have microphones and video camera links. The link in the classroom is projected onto the classroom SMART board.
Alvarez can hear and see the students when they ask questions and she calls on them by name. She sends them homework and lesson sheets through the link, and they can download them quickly enough. It is similar to the lag a real teacher would have while handing out assignment sheets in class. The students can read aloud, and she can correct their pronunciation.
Winter may soon be coming to an end (finally!), but we still have a ways to go before we can apply some tanning lotion and enjoy the “dog days of summer.” So, why not skip town now and wash away your winter blues in Playa del Carmen, Mexico?
From now through April 30, ResortsandLodges.com is offering a knock-out dealthat will allow couples to stay at the all-inclusive, 3.5-star Real Luxury Playa del Carmen resort for just $30/person/night — taxes and tips included! With this all-inclusive plan, you will be able to gorge yourself while sipping tasty margaritas (or downing straight Jose Cuervo, however you roll). Plus, you will be granted access to the resort’s exclusive beach club, and also tour a nearby attraction of your choice.
On February 23, representatives of 32 nations in the Western hemisphere gathered in Playa del Carmen on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula to discuss formation of a new political forum. The new organization doesn't yet have a name, but for simplicity, let's call it the Council of Latin American and Caribbean states (CLAC?). Some covering the event seized on the fact that the new forum will exclude the United States and Canada. Is this bad news for North Americans hoping for regional stability and a market-friendly Latin America? Not really.
We've learned some important things about Latin America in recent weeks. We learned that one of the most market-friendly countries in the region, Chile, is a resilient place. Despite an earthquake 500 times stronger than the one that devastated Haiti on January 12, there will be a peaceful transfer of executive power on March 11 from a president of one party to the president-elect of another. And despite the kind of breakdown in public order you'll find in any country following a catastrophe of this scale, Chile has the economic and political resources it will need to rebuild.
Profits from copper sales, which are unlikely to be affected much by the quake, provide Chile with about $16 billion in savings. Its government can also tap financial markets to finance an increase in state spending on disaster relief. The country is also blessed with some of the most efficiently run governing institutions in Latin America.
If you want to spend spring break enjoying tropical coral reefs or jungles, then Riviera Maya, Mexico is the perfect place for you.
Riviera Maya is the new hot spot for college “spring break-ers”. It’s affordable, fun and has beautiful weather.
Fly into Cancun’s airport and head south to Riviera Maya to find the second largest barrier reef in the world, beautiful lagoons that are perfect for snorkeling and cenotes (natural pools of clear water that are completely swimmable). Also, don’t forget the nightlife.
While enjoying a few days of fun-in-the-sun, spend a day interacting with Mexican culture in the theme park, Xcaret, snorkel in Xel-Ha, the largest natural aquarium in the world, and tan on the Akumal beaches.
Where to eat? Ah Cacao Chocolate Café serves food directly from the Mayalands of Mexico and was featured on the “Rachael Ray Show” and Ajua Maya is a five star dining setting featuring fresh lobster, USA Angus Beef and 100 percent authentic Mayan and Mexican cuisines all served live by Wild Fresh Mayans to the music of Terra Verra.
For four days, four friends can stay at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar for only $555 per person and enjoy the luxuries of not just one resort, but four. Guests are welcome to dine, visit and watch shows at either the Paraiso del Mar, Paraiso Beach, Paraiso Lindo or Paraiso Maya, which are all in walking distance of each other.
In addition, guests receive full access to the common areas with a shopping center, modern spa with humid areas, Temazcal, hair salon, 28 cabins for treatments, the Underground, a convention center and a golf course.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Portuguese metallers MOONSPELL have been confirmed for the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise, which is set to sail from Miami, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico on January 24, 2011 and return four days later.
The festival billing is shaping up as follows:
ULI JON ROTH
SAXON will play two unique shows. One night they will perform the "Wheels Of Steel" LP in its entirety and on a different night, for the second show, they will play "Strong Arm Of The Law" from start to finish.
70000 Tons Of Metal will sail Monday, January 24, 2011 aboard the Royal Caribbean "Majesty of the Seas" from Miami, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico and will not return you to the real world for four days until Friday, January 28, 2011.
If you’re in college, you’ve been counting the days until spring break begins. But not all students have the money to book a trip in advance. If you’re looking for some last-minute deals that fit within a budget that’s already strapped by books and dating, here are some low-priced getaways sure to provide an escape worth bragging about.
CANCUN VACATION RENTAL DEAL: I saw a two-bedroom condo with a pool that sleeps six for $105 per unit per night, or $735 for the week, for travel before March 26. Prices went up to $1,155 for the week of March 27-April 4. Note: You have to contact the owner through the website to find out if it’s available.
During a stay at the luxurious Valentin Imperial Maya resort, one of Riviera Maya’s newest adult-only, all-inclusive resorts, guests are sure to enjoy impeccable service, deluxe accommodations, rejuvenating spa treatments and above all else, a culinary trip around the globe. With seven à la carte and two buffet restaurants featuring international fare, Valentin Imperial Maya’s executive chef, Jorge Hidalgo effectively transports guests from the white sand beaches of Playa del Secreto to explore the gastronomy of Italy, France, Japan and more via an unmatched selection of inspired signature dishes.
February saw 85 percent of its 28,000 rooms filled, a sign of Cancun's speedy recovery from 2009, when 1 million fewer visitors came than in a typical year. The relatively high occupancy seen in February is expected to go even higher in March when more universities are on spring break.
"We're back to normal levels after having seen tourism practically paralyzed last year," said Quintana Roo state assistant tourism secretary Dario Flota.
"I was expecting a good party but it went above and beyond," said Duranti while sunbathing with two other friends on the beach of the Oasis Hotel. "There is always a party on the beach and you can party all day and party all night!"
In 2006, The Playboy Club at the Palms Casino Resort reopened, and this year new entertainment-oriented clubs will open in Miami and Cancun. Rather than create stand-alone venues as it had in the past, the new Playboy Club model will piggyback on existing hotel, casino and entertainment resorts.
To promote the reemergence of the clubs, Playboy is hosting “The World’s Sexiest Party” on June 10, 2010, at 50 locations around the world. From Las Vegas to Johannesburg, Hong Kong to corporate HQ in Chicago, Playboy is promising the party of all parties. A countdown clock is ticking now at a dedicated site. Tickets and additional information will be available there as the big day approaches.
Airport delays are a good thing to keep in mind especially if you're planning a trip to escape the winter weather blues. There are some good deals to be had especially when it comes to booking a hotel room.
Book an All-Inclusive Stay and Enjoy Savings of up to 30%: Wyndham Palace properties in four of Mexicos top resort destinations -- in Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Isla Mujeres -- are offering a 20 percent discount on all-inclusive nights booked by April 30 for stays through Dec. 23. Rates include unlimited fine dining, 24-hour room service, non-motorized water sports and live shows every night.
Viva Wyndham all-inclusive resorts are offering 30% savings with rates beginning at $60 per person when booked by March 31 and completed by December 16 in a selection of vacation paradises in the Bahamas, Mexico and Dominican Republic.
Monday, March 1, 2010
During the Second Plenary Session of the Summit on Latin American and Caribbean Unity, Mexican President Felipe Calderón reported that one of the agreements reached by the 25 Heads of State and Government was to create the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States as a regional space comprising all the states in the region.
“We are showing the world that despite our legitimate and understandable differences, Latin American and Caribbean nations have decided to unite, find the mechanisms for understanding each other and resolve our differences. And we are quite clear that there are far more things that identify and link us than those that divide and separate us,” he said.
The President declared that the consolidation of this mechanism marks a decisive step in the institutional history of the region since the region’s participation is decisive in overcoming challenges and solving the problems faced by mankind.
“I am convinced that the hour of Latin America and the Caribbean is only just beginning. Through this new mechanism, we will strengthen our voice in the concert of nations in order to become key players rather than mere spectators of what is happening in the world,” he declared.
At a specially convened press conference held during the 11th Special session of the governing council/ global ministerial environment forum Bali, Indonesia, Yvo de Boer the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, spoke on a positive note with reference to Mexico where the next COP16 is scheduled to be held from 29 November - 10 December.
He said, “ the Copenhagen Accord is an important tool to invigorate the negotiations ahead. We need to move forward from here and spend 2010 implementing the architecture for Cancun, Mexico. In the Copenhagen Accord, foundations for a new architecture was laid, with arrangements for 30 billion $ short-term funding, for sustainable forest management till 2012. Many smaller island countries face the impacts of Climate Change and so a review will be taken in 2015 as to whether the goal of 2 degree Celsius is realistic. Infact a lot had happened in Copenhagen but there was insufficient time for countries to move forward on decisions in the end.”
De Boer in reply to a western nation journalist’s question, was emphatic when he said, “ India and China have clearly indicated that they support the Accord and have also revealed the targets that they will implement in their respective countries. In fact China is not waiting for funding but going ahead setting its own targets and supporting itself on its national mitigation goals. India too has voluntarily announced its own country targets.
Three Franklin Lakes families met on the Riviera Maya, Mexico, for February break last year. The D'Alessandro, Flink and Marden families stayed at the Iberostar Tucan Hotel, which is a great family resort. The hotel grounds were so clean and beautiful.
The hotel is in a jungle setting teeming with wildlife at every turn. The food was excellent, the beaches beautiful and the ocean so blue. We rented a catamaran for the day for all 17 of us, and went snorkeling and boating. We even stopped for lunch on another island.
Tip: Bring plenty of sunscreen and enjoy the moment!
A much-needed legally binding agreement on commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will apparently not be the focus of the next major round of global climate change talks this year.
Rather, money, specifically that which will flow from rich countries to poorer countries, is likely be the focus of discussions when representatives of 180 countries meet for the 16th Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, in November.
Minister for the Environment Gusti Muhammad Hatta said in Bali on Friday that there was little chance of reaching a legally binding agreement during the Mexico talks.
“ [The conference] won’t be setting up a high target for a legally binding [result] because it’s going to be a difficult one to achieve, but we will want to make sure the talks go down effectively with specific issues, such REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plan] and even financial issues,” he said.