Less Wait, More Vacay

Summer is prime time travel season. Time for adventure, relaxation and making memories. However, if you've traveled during any peak time (read: summer, holidays, etc.), you know that sometimes it feels like, after all is said and done, you need a vacation from your vacation. The lines at the airport, the process of flying, the check in and check out wait times at your hotel - it can all be a little ...well...exhausting.

That's where our client Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto has the right idea. They realize how important and precious vacation time is for the mind, body and soul, and they want to give more of it back to you. Direct quote from Owen Perry, who is co-owner and president of the Villa Group, "We feel that vacation time is too important to be spent waiting in line."

So they decided to reinvent the hotel check-in process. Instead of going through the process of waiting in line once you arrive, providing your information to the front desk crew and picking up keys, guests of the gorgeous Mexican resort can bypass the front desk and head straight to their room, or even better, to the resort's turtle-shaped pool.

How are they able to do that? Guests of the resort instead have the option to spend 3 minutes while they're still in the comfort of their own homes to provide a checklist of items they would normally share in person (as well as any dietary restrictions, special occasion requests, etc.) and instead check in online, ahead of time.

It works much like checking into a flight online. Guests receive a unique QR code to show a bellhop once they arrive, who will be waiting with their room keys. The room keys are hassle-free as well. They're actually wristbands with waterproof smart chip technology. No more fiddling around in purses or worry that you might lose your hotel key while lounging beachside.

 Photo credit: Romy Raves

Photo credit: Romy Raves

Paired with a personal concierge that can help guests book all their meals and activities in advance, the pre check-in program is amazing for setting the tone for a truly relaxing experience, which is the resort's ultimate goal.

Have you experienced amenities at other hotels or resorts that have made your stay memorable? Tweet us and let us know, @CuratorPR! Follow us on Instagram too for more travel scenes.

Where in the World? A Curated Travel List

Summer is here, and that means travel is top-of-mind. Whether you’ve got time for a staycation or a weeklong getaway to somewhere exotic, traveling can help you feel refreshed and expand your horizons with each new destination you visit. It’s soul soothing really.

While I can’t leave out some incredible family trips (checking out the Egyptian pyramids – just wow), some of my greatest travel moments came from my time studying abroad in London. Being so central to everything in Europe, I had the opportunity to travel to amazing destinations like Barcelona, Paris and Edinburgh. But one of my favorite places was Santorini, Greece. The blend of white and blue buildings, the cuisine, the famous sunsets – it was a pure feast for the eyes and for the soul.

While I’d love to go back to Greece to explore the other Greek Islands and the monuments of ancient Athens, at the moment, my mind is on the souks and towers of Dubai.

I suspect I’m not the only one with the travel bug. Check out the list of Curator’s favorite destinations so far, and what’s topping our travel bucket list.

 

Favorite Destinations So Far

I can’t not-mention Darwin, Australia—I studied there for a few months back in college, and it was amazing—but my favorite spot at the moment is Kauai. I’ve been to the Hawaiian Islands probably close to a dozen times, but never that particular island. My wife, son, and I traveled there with a bunch of other parents and kids. I think there were 18 of us, total, all on the same flights. It was crazy. Anyway, the appeal of Kauai is that it’s so laid-back. Of all the islands I’ve visited, it felt the most relaxing. If you’re from Washington state, think of Eastern Washington if it were a tropical island. It’s all amazing hikes, great hole-in-the-wall places to eat, and ridiculous scenery everywhere you look.

Sadly, our trip ended with the Seahawks losing the Super Bowl, but even that was followed by finding a bunch of huge sea turtles on the beach that night. 

- Paul


Europe – went for my graduation trip to London, Paris and Barcelona. So fun to learn about other cultures!

- Anna


In February I took a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. It was an awesome experience and somewhere I’d definitely recommend to others looking for a warm getaway. The beaches were postcard perfect, the people were wonderful and the excursions we did were awesome — whale watching, rides through the jungle to get to hidden islands and visiting the capital, Santo Domingo was super cool. 

- Chelsey


When I travel, I love being in big cities. Istanbul is my favorite place I’ve ever visited. I loved how different it was from anything I had ever experienced. Amazing history, great food, and gorgeous water views.

-Ann Marie


My wife, kids and I love to travel together. But one of the best trips we've taken in a long time was a recent trip just my wife and I took to Charleston, SC. We fell in love with the city, it's food and culture scene. It's a truly unique place and we can't wait to go back.

-Scott

 

On the Horizon

Antarctica. Because people who like to brag about traveling always say, “I’ve been to every continent, except Antarctica,” and if I went, I could say, “Oh, yeah? Well I’ve been to Antarctica.” 

-Paul


I’d love to go to Italy. Florence and Rome are at the top of my bucket list for sure! 

- Anna


On the top of my bucket list, I’d love to visit Bali and a number of places in Thailand. If you can’t tell, I like the beachy destinations!

-Chelsey


Visiting Yellowstone National Park with my family. As crowded a destination as it has become, Yellowstone is still such a great place to learn about U.S. History, geology and wildlife. 

-Ann Marie


We've been trying to go to New Orleans Jazz Fest for the last few years but haven't been able to make our schedules work. We vow to make this happen soon.

-Scott


Got any other must-see destinations that we’re missing out on? Tweet us @CuratorPR!

Scenes from San Diego

It's nice to be able play tourist in your own city. As a native San Diegan, sometimes I need to take five from my day-to-day and really take a look around at the beauty that's in my own backyard. So here are my favorite curated scenes from my hometown, and Curator's second home.

  Downtown San Diego views after a storm.

Downtown San Diego views after a storm.

 La Jolla on a warm day.

La Jolla on a warm day.

 Hot air balloons on the horizon in North County.

Hot air balloons on the horizon in North County.

 View of the boardwalk and shoreline from the Crystal Pier Hotel in  Pacific Beach .

View of the boardwalk and shoreline from the Crystal Pier Hotel in Pacific Beach.

 Patriotic florals at the Flower Fields, next to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets.

Patriotic florals at the Flower Fields, next to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets.

 Skyline views from the 19th hole in Balboa Park.

Skyline views from the 19th hole in Balboa Park.

Looking to visit San Diego? Tweet us your travel plans @CuratorPR!

Travel Tuesday Inspiration

Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to explore new places and fill my soul with a little bit of adventure. I love immersing myself in different cultures and experiencing local offerings, sights and traditions.

If you’re currently in “explore mode” like me, here are some of my favorite #TravelTuesday quotes for inspiration:

And if you’re looking for a picture perfect getaway, check out the Villa Group family of resorts throughout Mexico. You especially will not be disappointed in Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto if you aspire to focus your vacation on equal amounts adventure and relaxation.

What are your favorite travel quotes and destinations? Tweet us @CuratorPR!

Behind the Scenes: Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta

As part of our work with the Villa Group, a collection of beachfront luxury resorts throughout Mexico, we organize FAM (which stands for “familiarization”) trips so members of the media can experience all they have to offer.

Typically, we work with the Islands of Loreto, their newest resort known for its “million-star” sky, but we kicked off the New Year with a new adventure - a trip to Puerto Vallarta.

The purpose of this press trip was to display the vibrant new look and feel of Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta, which recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation boasting vivid colors, elaborate textures and Mexican pop culture-inspired rooms.

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The suites meld bold pinks, turquoises and indigo, popping against white walls and Frida Kahlo-inspired touches. It’s the perfect blend of traditional Mexican charm and modern style. Needless to say, it’s spot on for vacation mode!

In addition to the suites, other areas that received makeovers were the new resort entrance, which now showcases intricate fountains, and the free-form pool, which provides the ideal spot to lounge and relax.

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The group of journalists who attended came to the resort a number of years ago, but noticed the changes instantly and were impressed with the improvements. We discussed the new look and feel of the resort as we dined on traditional Mexican fare at El Patron restaurant. 

El Patron is just one of the dining options available to guests at Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta. There’s also La Trattoria, which specializes in authentic Italian food, and The Market restaurant, which serves a buffet breakfast and carefully prepared seafood and international cuisine for lunch and dinner. They even have themed nights, ranging from Mexican fiesta to a Decades show. We were treated to an open-air opera performance, with the lights of the city reflecting off the Bay of Banderas in the background.

During our FAM trips, we love to let our media guests get a feel for the cultural and adventure offerings of the destination itself, in addition to the resort. One of the most memorable parts of this trip was our whale-watching excursion, led by a biologist from Ecotours de México. On our excursion, we encountered more than 15 different Humpback whales, who were putting on a show for us as they breached and slapped the surface of the water with their pectoral fins. We even eavesdropped on them singing underwater!

What’s also great about Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta is its prime location, just minutes from the airport, and the Malecón – the heart and soul of the city. We explored this seaside promenade after our whale encounter, and came across a variety of art sculptures overlooking the bay (the one pictured below is called “Searching for Reason” by Sergio Bustamante), and checked out the Old Town Farmers Market-Tianguis Cultural, a “producer-only” market.

After walking around the city, surrounded by culture, art and vibrant hues, the colorful upgrade to Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta made perfect sense. It is a reflection of a community that celebrates living life to the fullest.

While brief, we were able to offer our special guests a taste of the region and hospitality of the area. The great part of wrapping up a FAM trip is hearing about the experience from another person’s perspective. Check out some of the stories below, with others expected soon!

•    Huffington Post
•    Examiner
•    WatchBoom

Questions about FAM Trips? Tweet us @CuratorPR!

My Favorite Photos from Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto

Earlier this month I wrapped up my last press trip for the year to Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto. If you haven't yet heard of the Islands of Loreto, check out my previous post on the top 10 reasons to love this place. It really is a hidden gem - something so special it's hard to describe in words. Luckily, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why I'm sharing my favorite personal shots from this year's press trips for you to enjoy!

E-mail me at noelle.ibrahim@curatorpr.com if you want to learn more!

Top 10 Reasons to Love the Islands of Loreto

Part of my role at Curator is to work with our Villa Group client to raise awareness about the amazing destination of the Islands of Loreto in Baja California Sur, specifically the Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto. About four times each year, I have the privilege of gathering a group of adventurous journalists and writers to accompany me on a journey to the Islands of Loreto, where we immerse ourselves in paradise. The toughest part of the trip is convincing everyone to return home – no joke!

Here are my Top 10 reasons for loving the Islands of Loreto, as illustrated through photos, though in no particular order (too difficult to choose!).

1. Gorgeous views of the indigo waters of the Sea of Cortez and majestic Sierra de la Giganta mountain range from every angle.

VDPL Views

2. Unique sunsets every evening, each one more beautiful than the next.

VDPL Sunset

3. A culinary experience that will leave you craving more. Every meal is cooked with love.

Amazing cuisine

4. Once-in-a-lifetime encounters that take you up close and personal with nature. Jacques Cousteau dubbed the area “The Aquarium of the World,” after all.

One with Nature

5. Accommodations that make you feel at home, and then some.

Home away from home

6. A genuine and attentive staff that truly wants to make your stay the most memorable experience possible.

Staff

7. The beautiful star-ladden sky. Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is truly the first “million star” resort I have experienced.

Million Star Resort

8. Endless opportunities to relax and rejuvenate. “Disconnect to re-connect” is the motto.

Relax

9. Unrivaled opportunities to be adventurous, whether it is stand up paddle boarding, clear-bottom kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, exploring the islands… the spirit to explore is encouraged!

Adventure

10. The magic of feeling like you have discovered a hidden gem in the world, that you can carry with you in your heart.

Paradise

If you’re interested in learning more about the paradise that is Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, contact me at noelle.ibrahim@curatorpr.com!

Tips for Healthy Travel

So far 2014 has been a year of creating healthy habits for myself. On most days you'll find me at a barre class and sipping on some sort of kale-juice cocktail. When you travel, some healthy habits can be thrown out the window, but I’ve learned a few tricks to keep them up while I’m on the road. 8b58cfd4e4d111e2a16822000a9e076a_7

Tip 1: Sweat once a day

It’s hard to find time in your travel to work out, but as the overused saying goes, “you never regret a workout”. When you first check in, take a walk to scope out the hotel gym. It’s helpful to mentally prepare for your workout when you know what equipment you have to work with. If your hotel doesn’t have a gym and you’re willing to try a new form of exercise, Google local fitness studios. Most fitness studios offer free classes for first-time attendees, so it won’t take any extra money away from your travel budget!

Seattle tips: I can’t go long without a good sweat at Flybarre or Flywheel in South Lake Union, and your first class is free!

Tip 2: Know your surroundings

With an upcoming trip planned to Tigard, Oregon, for Whole Foods Market’s newest store opening, I contemplated the possibility of packing my Breville juicer. Every morning, I start the day with a green juice and it’s a healthy habit I don’t want to lose! Seeing that I’m traveling with Whole Foods Market, getting my green juice intake won’t be impossible, but for other trips I suggest researching local juice bars near your hotel. When you do research prior, you can make it part of your trip plan and keep your healthy habits intact.

Seattle tips: If you’re visiting Seattle here are some of my favorite juices to try! Juicebox in Capitol Hill, Jujubeet in Bellevue and Vital Juice (available in all Seattle Whole Foods Markets). Here's also For The Glow guide to Seattle smoothies. Happy sipping!

Tip 3: Enjoy a healthy balance

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see quite a bit of green juice photos accompanied by wine, fries and pizza. I’m a big fan of a no-diet and just living with a healthy balance mentality. Choose what works for you, but I say your vacation should also reflect this! If possible, go light on breakfast if you know there’s a big dinner planned or hey, go all out and don’t beat yourself up for it!

Seattle tips: After you enjoy the juices listed above try visiting Le Zinc in Capitol Hill for moules frites or Serious Pie in South Lake Union for pizza; plus, their kale salad is amazing. How’s that for balance?

Have your own traveling tips or green juice recipe? Tweet me maybe @brookeandersen.

Head in the Clouds: Aspirational Travel

With vacation season upon us, and today marking National Tourist Appreciate Day, I thought it would be the prime occasion to reflect on my personal travel aspirations. I love exploring new places and immersing myself in unique culture that can only be experienced through travel. I truly think travel enriches both the mind and heart, and personally, it inspires me. While I have been fortunate to enjoy opportunities to travel abroad, there are some destinations that are at the top of my must-see list at the moment. Credit: Alliance Abroad Group

THAILAND

Authentic Thai food, amazing beaches and culture in abundance. This is what comes to mind when I think of Thailand. I have been dreaming about a visit to Thailand for some time, welcoming the opportunity to sit on the scenic beaches, explore the Grand Palace and temples, interact with elephants and take a jungle trek through lush scenery.  This amazing destination would be a feast for the eyes, and then some.

Credit: TripAdvisor

DUBAI

To me, Dubai represents opulence, in the best way possible. We’re talking the world’s only “7-star” hotel (Burj al-Arab) towering above the Persian Gulf, the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa) and the stunning Palm Islands (yup, in the shape of a palm tree). Not to mention all the shopping opportunities, including luxury shopping centers like the Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Centre and the city’s various souks (markets). I’d love to marvel at the architecture of this booming cosmopolitan city. 

Credit: Me

GREECE

While studying abroad in London, I had the amazing opportunity to take weekend trips to some of the most exciting destinations in the world, including Paris, Barcelona, Dublin, Edinburgh and the Greek islands of Crete (the largest Greek island located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea) and Santorini. With the warm ocean breeze, genuine hospitality, delicious Mediterranean food and stunning sunsets (the small town of Οία, perched atop the caldera on Santorni Island is famous for them), Greece easily became my favorite getaway that summer. Though I only spent a weekend there, I absolutely fell in love with Greece, and vowed to return to visit both the culturally rich Athens, and the rest of the Greek islands.

If you have any travel tips or must-see spots at any of these destinations, Tweet me at @heartNsd.