December 2, 2009

Cheap All Inclusive Vacation in Cancun

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

cancunThe high season in Mexico starts in mid-December and with it, come the hordes of tourists looking to have fun and escape the colder climates. The idea of spending a week in such an exotic place like Cancun makes us cringe at the idea of spending a bit too much money. But, if you are keeping the eyes open for deals, you’ll be happy to know that you won’t need to pay an arm and a leg for your dream vacation. Four Days in Cancun for prices starting at $408 per person.

The offer is valid for Jan 7 to Jan 11, 2010 and does not include the airfare. You’ll be staying in a resort suitable for families, located 25 minutes from the airport. The all inclusive hotel offers 332 rooms and is located close to important shopping centers in Cancun. There are four restaurants located within the resort and they cater for many tastes (Mexican, Spanish, sea food).

Since the offer doesn’t include the flight, it’s important to book your flight to Cancun in advance as well. Don’t forget that we are in the middle of the high season and the flights are bound to be crowded and more expensive than during the rest of the year.

How about other vacation packages?

The entire Caribbean area comes to life as soon as the high season kicks in, although many destinations are popular among tourists year round. Caribbean vacation packages are abundant at this time of the year and the tour operators are making sure to add as much as possible to the package. The simplest package comprises the flight and the accommodation, which typically saves quite a lot of money. Then, many hoteliers (or tour operators) throw in additional services which enhance the value of the package, yet keeping the price low.

Is it wise to choose the packages?

This is one of those simple questions with complex answer. Why? Let me explain. First of all, because you need to know how the packages are created. Tour operators typically buy the services “in bulk” which means they rent seats in charter planes and rent hotel rooms at prices below the market levels (and benefit from discounts which are not available to the general public). For the travelers, this should mean that they hit jackpot and can spend a lot less on vacation. Well, not so true. Tour operators want to make some profits as well, so they do add their profit rate to the rack price and that’s where you need to be careful.

If you found an interesting offer which seems a bit too good to be true, make sure to do some research on your own. Look for a flight to Cancun (or wherever else you are planning to go) and then look for similar hotels as those in the offer. Is the price higher than the package? Then, you have hit jackpot and you can book the package and wait to leave on vacation. Is the price lower if you were to book on your own? Then, invest some time and create the vacation of your dream without paying a premium for the agency’s trouble.

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December 1, 2009

Marrakech: cheap and warm winter destination

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 8:53 am

Marrakech mainFor the vast majority of Europeans, winter conjures images of cold, gloomy days, dark nights, cold rain and, in some cases, quite a lot of snow as well. And there aren’t few of them who would rather be in a warmer place at least for couple of days (ideally, for the duration of winter, but that’s day dreaming, unfortunately).

One of the cheap winter destinations for Europeans is Marrakech. The Moroccan city is blessed with subtropical weather which means the temperatures stay at a balmy 21C all winter long. The beautiful city is an excellent choice for those who want to stay in a warm place, close to home, and which won’t break the budget either.

There are plenty of things to do and see in Marrakech and you are guaranteed not to get bored. Djemaa El-Fna is the center of the night life (but not in the terms you know it in other parts of the world). The square is packed with dancers, musicians and stalls selling a wide variety of goods. The souks (or the markets) are located just by the side of Djemaa El-Fna. You can buy anything and everything here (so be careful if you are an impulsive shopper!). And since you’ve just discovered the Medina, you might want to stay in a Riad, a Moroccan house with an internal courtyard. Many traditional houses have been turned into hotels which welcome tourists.

Planning the budget

Morocco is a popular winter vacation destination especially among Brits, so it’s not hard to find family vacation packages . However, they are geared toward the resorts located by the sea and there aren’t many chances to find packages focusing on Marrakech.

So, there is nothing wrong with planning the vacation on your own, although it might require a bit of patience. Finding flights to Morocco is easy and there are plenty of them departing from big European hubs. You should remember that the airport in Marrakech is not the largest in the country (Casablanca is). However, many European carriers offer affordable flights to Marrakech.

Most cheap hotels in Marrakech are located in the old part of the city, which makes for a unique experience. Look for the word “Riad” which, as mentioned earlier, indicates that a traditional house has been converted in a hotel. Do remember that some are better maintained than the other and you need to be prepared for pretty much anything. There are, however, many budget places in the city which surely pleases all types of travelers.

Things to do in Marrakech

Marrakech olivesThe Medina is a lively place every day of the year but if you are looking for something special, you are pretty much out of luck during this time of the year. There are many festivals going on throughout the year, but in December you don’t have too many choices.

The Olive Festival takes place in Rafai (Fez) in mid-December. You get the chance to witness traditional olive-picking techniques.

Where to stay

There are many budget places to choose from and if you are looking for an authentic experience, then the Riads should be your first choice. Just like in the case of traditional hotels, Riads range from very affordable to downright expensive. Obviously, the budget dictates where you’ll be staying.

Amour de Riad is located 3 minutes from the main square in Medina. There are 5 rooms available for the guests, all with private bathrooms. Breakfast is included in the room price and there is wi-fi within the property. Room rates start at €15 per person per night in a standard double room.

Riad Elixir is located in the Medina and is, indeed, a traditional place reconditioned to keep all the Moroccan elements alive. It offers 5 bedrooms and 2 lounges. Each room has ensuite bathroom and AC (or heating, depending on the time of the year). Room rates range from €50 to €120 per night, depending on the type of the room and time of the year. The entire guesthouse can be rented for €250-€380 per night (10-14 persons). The rates include breakfast.

Riad Ma’ab is located in the Medina and offers a casual and comfortable home to return to after the fun you have in the exotic old city. The souks are just 5 to 10 minute walk away. The room rates start at €60 per night (opening special rates). The high season runs from mid-December to early January.

Riad Orangeraie is located in the Medina, in an ancient Moroccan residence which was transformed to be a charming hotel. It offers 7 bedrooms and two patios (a garden patio and a pool patio). Room rates start at €130 per night.

Hostel Riad Marrakech Rouge is located in the heart of Medina, just few minutes from Place D’Jeema El Fna and the famous souks. There are 10 bedrooms for the guests to use. The breakfast and linen are included in the room price. The guests can ask to learn how to cook traditional Moroccan food. Bed prices start at €9 per night per person.

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