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February Birthdays 
for our 
ActiveTravels members!
Debby Freeman
Judy Glassman
Sarah Hellerstein
Joan Zackin

February Anniversaries
for our 
ActiveTravels members!

Matt & Cullene Bury
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 Vacations are precious investments of time with your loved ones.  

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exceptional suggestions on all kinds of destinations

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there for you 
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Editor's Letter,
February 2017

Dear valued members!

We just booked a cruise for a couple headed to Antarctica in January of 2018. That comes on the heels of a safari booking for Botswana in September 2018. You might think that these folks are crazy to book so far in advance. In fact, they're smart since they want to knock off destinations on their wish list and they know there's only a limited supply of cruises headed to Antarctica, a small number of safari lodges in Botswana's Okavango Delta. There's been such a surge of traffic to well-known destinations of late that Barcelona and Rome are both considering limits this year to the amount of people entering the city each day. And I can't tell you how many people we could not help last summer when they came calling to find lodging in Iceland at the last minute. The country was essentially sold out. Give us enough advance notice and we can make your dreams a reality, with far better flight and lodging options.
Having missed connections in Miami, Heathrow, LAX
and a slew of other cities, I'm always excited to see new direct flights like the Emirates flight from Newark to Athens that started this month. Delta is now flying direct from Boston to Montego Bay starting on February 25th. Direct flights have opened both coasts of Mexico to a number of new beachfront locales. Getting to know these locales a bit better is our main feature in this newsletter. We also pick our favorite hotels in another popular locale, Lisbon, take a quick escape to Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, and describe how Flight Fox can work magic with your airline miles.

Rachel DeLong
Last, but certainly not least, we'd like to introduce you to Rachel DeLong and Mack Kingman, our two new assistants
Mack Kingman
. Rachel is a young mother of two who has lots of experience in the world of travel while Mack is a senior at Lasell College who recently became the first woman in school history to be honored with All-American status, thanks to her exemplary soccer skills. We are so pleased to have them aboard!

Wishing you safe and h appy travels!

Lisa & Steve
Break It Down: 
Mexico's New Beachfront Getaways
Thanks to a weak peso, an increased number of direct flights, and a decline in crime, Mexico tourism has surged these past two years. The result is a number of new beach destinations to check out on both coasts. Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta will always be the mainstays, but there are a growing number of destinations that have become more and more popular for our clients:
Maroma Beach
Quite possibly the most exquisite stretch of beach on the Yucatan, Maroma is a resort hideaway intent on preserving the ecology of its 500-plus acres of beach and rain forest while taking luxury to unprecedented heights. Maroma is a mere 30 miles south of Cancun, but thankfully remains worlds away from this spring break hot spot's pace and lifestyle. Belmond and Secrets are two of the best resorts on Maroma Beach.
Holbox Island
Holbox is a slip of an island north of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea meet. Think of Tulum 20 years ago: white beaches, warm ocean waters, coconut palms and not much else. Stay at  Casa Las Tortugas, a collection of thatched-roof bungalows where activities include the requisite morning yoga class. It's a good 2 ½-hour taxi ride from Cancun to the tiny port of Chiquilá on the Yucatan Peninsula's north coast, and a 25-minute ferry crossing over to Holbox. So the folks who venture here want to get away from it all.
Punta Mita

Ancient inhabitants considered this northern tip of the Bay of Banderas sacred ground. Today the point where the Sea of Cortez, the Pacific Ocean, and Banderas Bay meet has evolved into Mexico's most exclusive residential resort development, with the Four Seasons and St. Regis located here alongside two world-class Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses. The beaches are white, the waters crystalline, and it's only a 45-minute drive northwest of the Puerto Vallarta international airport.

The antithesis to splashy Punta Mita, Sayulita, pronounced "Si-you-li-ta" is a little beach town 25 miles northwest of Puerto Vallarta. Originally a surfers' destination because of its consistent break, the beach town is now home to a sizable art colony, which is apparent in the artisan shops and the brightly painted walls and murals around town. Yoga shops, health food cafes and taco stands vie for attention on the narrow cobblestone streets. Stay at the boutique beachfront property, Playa Escondida, where Season 2 of the Bachelor in Paradise was filmed.

A short drive from overdeveloped Zihuatanejo, on Manzanillo Bay (roughly midway between Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta), the village of Troncones offers everything that adventurers want in a beach retreat. It's an eco-tourism destination that thus far has avoided the eye of major developers. Beyond surfing, there's horseback riding on the beach and hiking in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Settle into a kayak for a trip through Capire's Estuary where pelicans and other birds look for lunch in the gentle waters. Or stroll the beach looking for endangered sea turtles that emerge from the water to lay their eggs in the sand. Many visitors choose to rent private villas, like the one at  Casa de Oro, equipped with kitchens and easy access to the beach.

Dubbed Costa Chica ("Little Coast"), the 75-mile stretch between Puerto Escondido and Huatulco features gorgeous, unspoiled beaches the color of champagne. The Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains, dotted with coffee plantations, practically tumble down to the Pacific, forming a glorious backdrop. With no fewer than nine bays for beachfront resorts, Huatulco is distinguished by golden sands, private coves, and clear water. The jewel of luxury resorts in the area is Secrets Huatulco, the flagship property of Mexico's most successful hotel group, AMResorts. The laid-back feel of this resort town will change when the new highway from Oaxaca is finished, cutting travel time in half. So the time to visit is now. 
Hotels We Love:
Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is a charming small city where you can walk and explore it's neighborhoods and sights with ease. There are the old neighborhoods of the Alfama and the Bairro Alto where you'll get lost amidst the medieval winding, narrow streets. And, don't miss the trendy shopping and restaurant district of Chiado, home to the iconic Cafe a Brasileira, where Portuguese artists have been meeting for more than 100 years.

Bairro Alto Hotel
Housed in an 18th century building, this 55-room hotel is exceptionally located right in the heart of the city and offers lovely views of the bridge and harbor. The rooftop terrace bar, open during the summer months, offers panoramic views of the city and is a draw for tourists and locals alike. Great restaurant onsite too! A nice perk is their complimentary walking tour of the neighborhood.

Located in a snazzy residential neighborhood where embassies and celebrity mansions can be found is this elegant property. The 109 room hotel is surrounded by gardens and sits atop a hill so you can see the river and the city at once. Its ornate ceilings and refined decor offer an excellent backdrop for its daily and elaborate afternoon tea offering over 40 different types! A nice feature is their free-form pool and summer snack bar, lawns and shade trees. An indoor pool and great fitness club is also featured.

With only 20 rooms, this eclectic boutique hotel offers charm, a great location, and a friendly staff. This is an intimate retreat with a cozy sitting room, a lovely outdoor garden with olive and pine trees, and some roaming peacocks. Be forewarned: taxi drivers dislike intensely the hairpin turns and steep ascent to the hotel. And, the last 300 feet is for pedestrians only. Thankfully, the staff will retrieve you and your bags in a golf cart! Children younger than 12 can stay and eat for free.

For chic 21st century style, try Marriott's Autograph Collection's Fontecruz Lisboa. This cutting edge hotel has Portuguese art sprinkled throughout its 72 rooms and public spaces. The two bars are stylish: one offers champagne and the other, known as The Bar, offers three meals a day, regional wines and tapas, focusing on Portuguese and Iberian dishes. The rooms have high ceilings and all the modern amenities. Ask for one with a balcony.
Deal of the Month: 
February Vacation at Boston's 
Hotel Commonwealth
With February vacation week just around the corner, Boston's Hotel Commonwealth is offering a special staycation "Sale" in honor of the new Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale (#41). From 2/18 through 2/26, families staying at the hotel will receive the first night at a discounted rate of $199 and the second night (or second room) at an extra special "Sale" price of $41. It's the perfect time to get out of the house and spend a few days exploring everything Boston has to offer, from the MFA's new "Make Way for Ducklings" exhibition to ice skating at Frog Pond. Also included in the promotion is valet parking for one vehicle ($53 value), a special welcome gift for each child, and for those that stay 2/24 & 2/25, a double-feature movie night in the hotel's new ballroom.

Contact ActiveTravels if you are interested!
Tried & True Travel Tips:
Flight Fox

When booking a flight that is more complex than your typical roundtrip, things can get a bit tricky. Now, you can use this new website, called Flight Fox, where you plug in your destinations and dates of travel and from three to five experts will attempt to find the least expensive and most convenient options for you. 

One of our members used their service and told us that they came up with routes and options that saved them thousands of accumulated miles and close to $3,000. What really got our attention is that they will work with your miles and utilize them to save you money and accumulated miles.

There is a cost involved but it's reasonable. If you need flight help, it's $50 for Economy flights for up to 4 people. If you have multiple stops on your flight itinerary, they will charge you an extra $25. If you need help with using your miles, it's an additional $50.

If you use their service, let us know how it goes. And, remember, you can always ask ActiveTravels for help with flights. We charge a $35 flight booking fee per person. We have some really competitive rates for Business Class flights, too! Have to toot our own horn!

Quick Escape:
Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona

A 2-hour drive from the Phoenix airport, Enchantment Resort is smack dab in the middle of one of the most spectacular settings in America. Nestled against the
red rock walls of Boynton Canyon without any other signs of civilization beyond the property, this is the quintessential Arizona landscape one dreams about when booking a trip to the southwest. Tall, serrated mountain ledges, once home to a Native American settlement, is now an ideal playground to hike, bike, and unwind at the world class destination spa, Mii Amo

The free-standing casitas are spacious, furnished with an adobe-style fireplaces and balconies to savor the vista every morning as the hot Arizona sun illuminates the rock. At night after dinner, everyone heads outside to look at the stars while sitting around the fire pit. The pools and game room attracts families, the spa package is ideally suited for a 3 or 4-night girl's getaway, and the junior suites are perfect for honeymooners. The resort will arrange an airport transfer for you if you don't want to make the drive. This place is worth the splurge, especially in the spring when the weather is best. 

Give ActiveTravels a shout if you want to plan a fun-filled trip to Sedona, Arizona.
©2017 Active Travels