Summer round-up

Prepare for the year's busy third quarter with our summer round-up!

While school is out for some, we know a lot of you are still hard at work – and so are we (though with the odd summer BBQ and rounders match here and there!) And while normal booking seasons and patterns seem to have been completely turned upside down so far this year, the end of summer usually marks the beginning of a second ‘busy season’ for many operators. In preparation for what will hopefully be a busy 3rd quarter for sales enquiries, we round up all the latest news from our Latin America partners.

Reaching new heights in Quito

The rooftop terrace at the Illa Experience Hotel was already a pretty special spot, with guests being able to head up at any time with a glass of wine while taking in the sweeping views of historic Quito, and memorable sunsets over Panecillo Hill. This area has recently become even more of an attraction however, as Illa has just opened up the a second part of the rooftop, creating an even more spacious and panoramic terrace. As well as enjoying the extra space for leisurely breakfasts or relaxing sundowners up here, hotel guests now also have the option to select a dish from a hand-picked selection of the most authentic local restaurants in the San Marcos neighbourhood and have dinner on the rooftop. This is not only the perfect option for those who do not venture too far after a busy day exploring the city; it is also yet another way of supporting the local community of San Marcos, a very special neighbourhood and one that has been passionately supported by Illa from the very outset.
July has also been a busy month for the team at Illa as they were named Ecuador’s Leading Boutique Hotel for 2019 at the World Travel Awards. These international awards are sometimes referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of the travel industry, and given that the hotel only opened its doors in December 2017, this achievement really does feel extra-special for everyone involved.

Showcasing the beauty of Patagonia, off-peak!

We have long been extolling the virtues of visiting Patagonia Camp in the shoulder season months. September and October bring colourful spring flowers, whilst melting snow and warming temperatures bring an abundance of wildlife. At the other end of the season, autumn really comes alive in Patagonia from April onwards, with brightly coloured leaves starting to illuminate the lush forests surrounding the camp. These months also generally see fewer visitors on the walking trails of the Torres del Paine National Park itself.

With one of the longest opening seasons of all properties in the region (5th September 2019 right through to May 24th 2020 next season) Patagonia Camp is one of the best places to enjoy the splendours of this region in Spring & Autumn. Combine this with lower rates during September, October, April and May  and you get an experience of Patagonia that is rewarding in more ways than one!

In case you are still struggling to convince your clients on the wild beauty of visiting Patagonia off-peak, Patagonia Camp have launched this brand new video showcasing the Autumn season.

A more relaxing journey to Machu Picchu

Anyone who has caught the train to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo station in the Sacred Valley will know the busy surroundings here can sometimes feel a little chaotic, and certainly not always the most relaxing start to your journey. Inca Rail’s own separate waiting area has therefore been a welcome option for those catching the train from the Sacred Valley, but the operator has just unveiled a newly refurbished – and significantly expanded – private waiting room for their passengers. Just steps from the main station, the new lounge features three separate areas with ample space to relax, enjoy complimentary refreshments and WiFi. Luggage can be stored free of charge here and they’ll even lend you a smaller bag for just the items you require for the Machu Picchu visit, meaning you can travel extra-light! Guests can avoid the hustle and bustle for as long as possible before being called to the platform by an Inca Rail representative at the perfect moment to board their train.

All work (and some play) at Matetic Vineyards

The team at Matetic Vineyards continue to take advantage of the quieter winter months to further improve the guest offering for the season ahead. Guest rooms and bathrooms are being given an extra sparkle,  and Chef Gloria continues to be busy; she has just put the finishing touches to a brand new vegan menu at the restaurant. Meanwhile the wine & tours team have been getting creative with some additional activities to complement the existing programme. Visitors can now try their hands at a new ‘Blending in Action’ activity, where – guided by Matetic’s expert sommeliers – participants will experiment with wine blending to create their very own signature wine, with all efforts judged and a winner announced at the end! Guests on a 3-night all-inclusive stay at La Casona also have a new activity included in their programme, a ‘blind-tasting’ activity to really put their newly acquired knowledge to the test! Further details of all programmes and activities for tours can be found here.

Getting ship-shape in the Galapagos

The team at the Galapagos Sea Star Journey were also celebrating success at the World Travel Awards this month, winning the accolade of ‘South America’s Leading Boutique Cruise’ for the 3rd year in a row! Never ones to get complacent however, the team are proceeding with the forthcoming dry-dock for the Sea Star Journey as planned. From August 29th to November 8th 2019 the vessel will be undergoing a full maintenance programme which includes the installation of new motors (to be quieter and even more fuel efficient), new generators as well as a complete refurbishment of all the suites and ship interiors. In the protected Galapagos archipelago itself only very limited work can be done on vessels, in order to preserve the precious natural ecosystem here. The time away from Galapagos in dry dock is therefore the perfect opportunity to catch up on tasks like painting the hull, as well as the more technical work on engines and generators. The crew of the Sea Star will also be having intensive training courses while the yacht is in dry dock, ensuring they are up-to-speed and ready to go the extra mile once guests return again from November.

Late summer celebrations in Belize

We often find ourselves talking about some kind of festival in Belize, whether that is lobsters, chocolate or a notable national event – but this is because Belize is that kind of place, and this is one of things that adds to its charm! Looking ahead, September is often referred to as the ‘month of festivals’ in Belize. These begin on the 10th to mark the Battle of St George’s Caye, kicking off a 2 weeks period of festivities which culminate in Belize Independence Day on September 21st. Independence Day is massive in Belize, with carnival parades and parties taking place across the country. Ambergris Caye is no exception; houses are decorated with blue, white and red flags and carnival processions pass through the streets of San Pedro, leading up to the famous ‘Jump-up Parade’ where the whole town turns up to party. These celebrations are supremely friendly, welcoming young and old, locals and visitors alike, so a wonderful thing to get involved in if you are in Belize at this time.

Of course September is low season in Belize, with the ‘official’ rainy season running from August through to November. Like other destinations in Central America however, people do still visit at this time as rain is often restricted to tropical showers in the morning and overnight. Average temperatures are a very pleasant 27°C, and at Victoria House Resort & Spa – the perfect place to base yourself for September festivities – you can take advantage of the free night offer throughout this season.

New levels of luxury coming soon to Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano region

With 46 years in operation and a dedicated member of their product team out on the road in Costa Rica at all times, it is no no wonder that Swiss Travel Costa Rica are the DMC of choice for those looking to be the forefront of everything happening on a destination level in this amazing country. Their latest tip is a particularly exciting one; a new five star hotel opening soon, offering luxury in nature in the sought-after Arenal Volcano region.

Amor Arenal promises to offer something a little different to the standard tourist fare on offer in this popular Costa Rican destination; enjoying a privileged location far from the the tourist bustle of La Fortuna town, the hotel’s 31 stand-alone ‘casitas’ are surrounded by rainforest, close to the foothills of the imposing volcano. All casitas feature their own thermal plunge pool, as well as incredible rainforest views from every angle – including from the shower! The rainforest can also be enjoyed from the trails leading from the hotel, to be explored on foot or on horse back. More thermal pools can be found in a secluded area within the hotel’s grounds, as well as a spa and a yoga platform overlooking the canyon stream. Amor Arenal is due to open by the end of September promises to be a welcome addition to the region!

For further information on any of these stories as well as resources, images or product training please contact Scarlett on 01242 506444 or 

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