Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Crown Jewel of Treasure Island Florida

This week I had an opportunity to visit Ocean Properties recently opened Residence Inn by Marriott located on St Pete Beach at Treasure Island. This is by any standard not your typical Residence Inn, it is the "THE CROWN JEWEL" of Treasure Island.
From the moment you enter the property a wonderful journey created by the Ocean Properties design team Michelle Mauricio and Paula Siegel begins. After a stroll on the beach I was greeted by General Manager Rick Willson and Shannon Cunningham, Director of Sales & Marketing. Also in attendance was St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau David Downing, Director of Public Relations and the new Executive Director, DT Minich who brings with him the expierience and expertise that helped make Lee County CVB one of the best in Florida.
This all new Residence Inn by Marriott offers 105 outstanding luxurious one, two and three bedroom hotel suites along with a great location, but what really counts is the colorful upscale ambiance, super service and of course the extra amenities such as free breakfast, free high speed internet, green energy efficient stainless steel appliances in fully-equipped kitchens, flat screen TV’s in every room and private balconies overlooking what appears to be a never ending beach.
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Within walking distance or a short drive, you will find a wide selection of restaurants, attractions and shopping. Tropicana Field, downtown St Petersburg and Raymond James Football stadium only a short distance away.
During our stay we enjoyed a hearty meal at Carino's , dinner at the Middle Grounds Grill is a must and I highly recommend the Veal Osso Bucco, but Shannon's choice of the Petite Filet was looking good.
TTRN also recommends : Crabby Bill's and The Hurricane
During a quick stop in Sarasota we visited with Erin Duggan Public Relations Director Sarasota & Her Islands Convention & Visitors Bureau over lunch at the Bijou Cafe. along with Kerry Morrissey and Christina Sorondo. Then a quick stop at the Lido Beach Resort to say hi to GM Shannon Burdge and Director of Sales, Karen Rangel who presented me with a copy of Stephen King's new novel. Ck out how you can win a trip for two for a 3-night stay at the Lido Beach Resort, along with a copy of the new Stephen King novel, set on the fictional island of Duma Key. The main purpose for the Sarasota stop was to attend a meeting of Longboat Key residents at the Hilton Longboat Key regarding local ballot questions 1 & 2 which would allow an increase of 250 new hotel rooms on the Key. The visit also presented an opportunity to have a pleasant chat with Matt Walsh Editor & CEO of The Observer who was covering the story.
NEWS ITEMS Second - Honeymoon - Ten Hot Spots for Summer A survey by ASTA polled 585 travel agency owners and managers to determine the most popular Second Honeymoon destinations and uncover other emerging travel trends for 2008. Hawaii was the most popular second- honeymoon destination with 24.4 percent share of the total response. Cruising was ranked number two. The third most popular second honeymoon destination, the Caribbean, Jamaica and Cancun, ranked fourth and fifth respectively, Europe, ranked number six, and Italy, ranked number seven, proving that interest in European vacations is still strong despite the current weakness of the US dollar. Mexico claimed the number eight position. Tahiti, and St. Lucia fell into ninth and tenth place respectively. American Airlines has expanded the range of features available on the mobile version of AA.com, providing more tools for travelers using Web-enabled devices. The new enhancements allow customers to book flights, view fare specials, request upgrades, enroll in the AAdvantage program, purchase Admirals Club one-day passes and change their flights for many domestic reservations. These additions complement the features in place when the mobile version of AA.com was launched earlier this year. This includes flight check-in, flight and baggage status checks, destination and weather information and AAdvantage member log-in. Throughout the year, American will add further mobile capabilities for travelers on the go, the airline said. For information: http://www.aa.com/ Hawaii, Rising costs of operations, such as the escalation in fuel prices, has led Hawaiian Airlines to increase its round-trip airfares for flights between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland by $30, effective immediately for travel starting on or after May 1.

Monday, March 10, 2008

On the Hotel Scene:

The Riviera Maya has a number of hotels in various stages of development.
Easily accessible from many cities throughout the U.S., the eighty-one mile stretch known as the Riviera Maya is situated in the Mexican Caribbean inthe state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Beginning eleven miles south of Cancun International Airport in Puerto Morelos, the Riviera Maya extends to Tulum, one of the most important archeological sites in the Mayan World. The region features the tranquility of uncrowded beaches, a vast network of under ground rivers, over 100 cenotes, the action of eco-adventure sports including kayaking, mountain biking, scuba diving, snorkeling, trekking, bird watching and deep sea fishing, proximity to many of Mexico's most significant Mayan archeological sites, the varied activities of the eco-archeological parks, plus golf courses, spas, shopping, gourmet dining and a range of accommodations to suit every lifestyle and budget. The Riviera Maya has been named a Top Destination in Mexico for four consecutive years by Travel Weekly (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007), one of the hottest beach destinations by Orbitz in 2008 and was also featured in the January 2006 issue of Travel and Leisure as "The Next Riviera."
Just Opened:
Must See Attractions:* Selvatica is a company that offers adventure activities and that has been recognized by Travel and Leisure magazine as "one of 35 great adventures in the world." Zip n Snorkel is the company's newest offering,with a small group guided tour through the Riviera Maya, with zip-lining through the jungle and snorkeling in Puerto Morelos along the region's beautiful reef. Visit http://www.selvatica.com.mx/ * Ah Cacao Chocolate Café promotes natural well being through the enjoyment of real chocolate and coffee all from Mexico. Aside from gourmet coffee drinks the recently opened Ah Cacao Chocolate Café offers an all natural menu of brownies, dark chocolate bars, chocolate mousse, dark chocolate cake and more, as well as a gift shop! Ah Cacao Chocolate Café is located on the corner of Playa del Carmen's famous Fifth Avenue and Constituyentes Avenue. For more information please visit http://www.ahcacao.com/. * Xcaret is an eco-archeological park located in Playa del Carmen. In 2008, the following new attractions will be introduced: A Mexican wine place with a wine tasting hall and a store, selling only Mexican wines and Henequen Hacienda, which will have a museum of Mexican art, a room for big events, Yucatan food restaurant, and demonstrations of henequen production (raw fibers from the henequen agave cactus are shredded, pulled, woundtogether made into rope). Visit http://www.xcaret.com/ .* Alltournative is an adventure company that is offering a new half-day for a small group of people called Rio Secreto, or Secret River. Equipped with helmets with flashlights, wetsuits and life jackets, the group descends to the underground river, where they have the opportunity to explore the hidden caverns, stalactites, stalagmites, corals and othernatural treasures, hidden in the underground world. Visit http://www.alltournative.com/ .
For more information on the Riviera Maya call 1-877-7GO MAYA, e-mail mailto:info@rivieramaya.com

Ten amazing adventures under $1,000 (2008 edition)

How much adventure can you get for $1,000? More than you might think. For less than the cost of a single night at the Plaza Hotel in New York, you can climb to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, trek to remote villages in the Peruvian Andes, or learn to sail a racing yacht. These and seven other trips that cost under a grand are offered in an article by Molly Feltner.