Four Reasons to Visit Dreams in 2012

Written by Matthew Long, LandLopers.com

As I learned when I visited a Dreams Resort & Spa for the first time, there are
a lot of reasons to spend a vacation there. I expected some of them,
beaches, comfy rooms, etc, but other features frankly surprised me. Here
are my four top reasons why I intend to visit another Dreams in the
very near future.

Photo Caption: Mattew Long

1. Luxury - Most of us only get a few weeks of vacation time a year, and
it’s important to get the most out of our time off. For many of us, that
means relaxing, detaching and even a little pampering. All of these key
travel points are found in abundance at Dreams Resorts & Spas. As soon as you
first arrive and are given a welcome glass of champagne, you know that
you’ve arrived. Every need and want is seen to and if you want to relax, I
can’t think of many places more suited for well-appointed down time. My
favorite spot at the Dreams Puerto Vallarta was in the beachside hammocks,
gently swaying along with the ocean breezes. The margaritas didn’t hurt
either.

Photo Credit: Matthew Long

2. Activities - Relaxing is great, but if you’re active like me there’s
only so much lounging you can do before cabin fever sets in. That’s why
every evening when the list of activities for the next day was released, I
was like a kid at Christmas waiting eagerly for the new things to try. Not
unlike a well-run cruise ship, Dreams puts together an extensive list of
fun and interesting things to do every day, from language lessons to sea
kayaking. There’s also an extensive program for kids, including the
Explorer’s Club and the resorts do a masterful job of coordinating
activities for children that are engaging and entertaining.

Photo Credit: Matthew Long

3. Food - I’ve been to other all-inclusive resorts, and at some the food
frankly suffered. At one in particular, every meal was a buffet and if you
wanted to eat at a premium restaurant, you had to pay extra. I wasn’t sure
what to expect at Dreams, but was thrilled to learn that all food,
everything, at Dreams is included. There’s a buffet at breakfast, but for
lunch and dinner you can choose from a wide variety of amazing restaurants
without having to make reservations. My favorite was Portofino, an Italian
themed restaurant that also seemed to be their most popular. Even with its
extreme popularity, I walked right in and didn’t have to wait before
enjoying an impressive and delicious meal. A small perk some guests may
not realize is that everything at the coffee shop is also included, so you
can get your fancy coffee and pastry fix if you need it.

Media Credit: Matthew Long

4. X-Factor - There’s an x-factor in travel, an indefinable quality that
can’t be categorized or explained, but you know it when you feel it.
That’s how I felt while staying with Dreams; I just knew it was a place
for me and that I would absolutely return. Maybe it’s the mixture of
service, quality and commitment to guests’ needs, or maybe it was the
beautiful location. Most likely, it’s a combination of everything, all
contributing towards a feeling of happiness, contentment and knowing that
I was at the right place.

About our guest blogger:

Matthew Long, Editor-in-Chief and creator of LandLopers.com, has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Matt is a Lonely Planet Featured Blogger, a contributor to many other travel sites and publications including Dabble Magazine. Matt’s site LandLopers.com is listed in the Top 100 Travel Blogs, Top 100 Independent Travel Blogs, Most Influential Online Travel Personalities and Washington Flyer’s Top 100 Travel Blogs. You can also find him on Twitter: @LandLopers and Facebook: Facebook.com/LandLopers

Fact or Fiction: The Truth about All-Inclusive Resorts

Writen by Matthew Long, Landlopers.com

I’m guilty. I’m guilty of forming opinions about certain experiences before I actually do them. I know I’m not alone, because whenever I talk to someone about travel I hear the same refrain, “Oh, I don’t like all-inclusive resorts, well I don’t think I do, I’ve never actually been to one.” I get so confused when I hear statements like that because vacationing at all-inclusive resorts is one of my favorite travel styles. So I’m here to set the record straight, address some concerns I have heard and share with you the best ways to truly enjoy an all-inclusive vacation. 

Photo Credit: Matthew Long

1. As active as you want to be - As an active, independent traveler, I always make sure that there’s plenty to keep me occupied when I travel. A popular misconception of all-inclusive resorts is that aside from the beach and pool, there’s nothing to do. Like any other travel style though, guests can be as active or as lazy as they want, depending on their mood. I recently visited the beautiful Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, which works hard to keep guests entertained. Sure, there is an amazing beach and several pools and believe me, I made good use of them. But they also help you coordinate city tours, snorkeling excursions, whale watching expeditions – anything you want to do, you can have arranged. You can even stay active without even leaving the resort itself. Every day at Dreams there was a full schedule of events for every interest and activity level, from Spanish lessons, baby turtle releases and jet skiing. Of course a day or two doing nothing but lounging by the pool isn’t bad either.

Photo Credit: Mattew Long

2. What about the food? – Food is important when we travel, in fact it may be the most important part of the travel experience. We all have to eat and we want every meal to be good and hopefully memorable. Not every all-inclusive resort is made the same, which is why I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food offerings at the Dreams Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta. First, Dreams doesn’t rely on endless buffets to feed people, sacrificing quality for quantity. Yes, there are buffet options for breakfast and lunch, but guests aren’t limited to those choices. At lunch and dinner, the amazing Dreams restaurants are open for delicious and reservation-free dining. Every day during my stay I was constantly surprised at how good and interesting the food was. There were regional favorites, standard classics and innovative new dishes created by the chefs just for the Dreams experience. The minds behind the Dreams menus realize the importance of food in the travel experience and instead of giving it a marginal position, they have elevated it to the forefront where it belongs.

Photo Credit: Matthew Long

3. Luxury – When one thinks of luxury, images of private planes and huge yachts come to mind, but what doesn’t always (but should) come to mind are all-inclusive resorts. I was skeptical too, but Dreams Puerto Vallarta convinced me that a popular resort and luxury travel can definitely walk hand in hand. Luxurious rooms, high quality amenities and great food are all necessary for a memorable luxury travel experience, but the most important factor are the employees. Hotels and resorts don’t get a lot of breaks and one bad experience with one guest can ruin their name. For high-end luxury properties, it is crucial that their employees are perfect, nothing less is really acceptable. Dreams realizes this and everyone I met inPuerto Vallarta epitomized this devotion to creating a quality and memorable vacation experience for their guests. Whether it’s someone handing you a towel as you walk out the door, or a concierge who goes to great lengths to help you with a travel challenge, the interactions all combine to create a feeling of individual care and attention.

Photo Credit:Matthew Long

4. What about kids? – This is a double edged sword. Vacation goers divide into two camps: those with kids and those without. The guests with kids want to make sure they aren’t alone and that there’s plenty for their children to do while on a trip. Those without children sometimes don’t want to be bothered by a lot of screaming kids when they vacation. I kept this in mind as I walked around the Dreams Puerto Vallarta property and I was honestly impressed by what I saw. There were plenty of kids, but it was never overwhelming and for most of the day they were occupied with the Explorer’s Club for Kids, any one of the countless activities or hanging out at the family friendly pool area. I also saw plenty of couples who were perfectly content in the adults only pool area, the beach bar or just on snoozing next to the roaring ocean. From a personal point of view, I myself was never bothered or inconvenienced by the presence of kids and was happy to see so many of them truly enjoying their time at the resort. Managing expectations for these two very different types of travelers is a challenge for any property, but it seems to me that Dreams has mastered it. 

Photo Credit: Matthew Long

5. Local community - Travel isn’t only about relaxing on the beach and getting away from it all. A truly great trip is about exploration and education; learning more about the local destination you are visiting. This is always at the top of my list and was honestly a concern as I began my stay at Dreams. Fusing local culture and color though is integral to the Dreams experience, as I soon learned. My first encounter was my first night at the resort when the evening entertainment was a Mexican dinner followed by a show of Mexican dancers, singers and other assorted performers. I know what you’re thinking, it sounds hokey, but it really wasn’t. The food wasn’t Tex-Mex, it was real, honest to goodness (and delicious) Mexican cuisine, and the entertainment wasn’t of the Disney variety, it sparkled with local pride and talent. Throughout the weekend I was amazed at the infusion of the local Puerto Vallarta community at the resort with local artists, menu additions and interactions with staff. It’s also very easy to hop in a cab and spend the day or evening in downtown Puerto Vallarta itself, combining the best of both worlds.

I hope this has helped dispel some misconceptions about the all-inclusive experience. I love them for their ability to fuse relaxation, luxury and exploration all in one great travel adventure.

 What’s your favorite aspect of the all-inclusive experience?

About our guest blogger:

Matthew Long, Editor-in-Chief and creator of LandLopers.com, has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Matt is a Lonely Planet Featured Blogger, a contributor to many other travel sites and publications including Dabble Magazine. Matt’s site LandLopers.com is listed in the Top 100 Travel Blogs, Top 100 Independent Travel Blogs, Most Influential Online Travel Personalities and Washington Flyer’s Top 100 Travel Blogs. You can also find him on Twitter: @LandLopers and Facebook: Facebook.com/LandLopers

Mayan Mythology Draws Visitors to Mexico in 2012

By Angela Dollar, Travel with a Purpose

Tulum ruins by m_reger courtesy Creative Commons license

The allure and mystery of the Maya, an ancient civilization whose descendants continue to inhabit southeast Mexico, will be a special draw for tourists this year. The ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar is said to mark December 21, 2012 as the end of an era, which many interpret as an “end of the world” prediction.

The creators of that calendar are long gone, but ruins of their once-mighty empire still remain. Travelers will explore fascinating ruins from the ancient Mayan civilization throughout the Mexican regions of Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Campeche.  

Several of the Dreams properties are situated in the heart of the Mayan world. Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa is located only 5 short minutes from the inspirational beachfront archaeological site.-the only beachfront ruins. Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa, Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, and Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa all provide excellent launching pads for travelers planning their own exploration of this fascinating culture and region. Dreams Cancun even has a Mayan ruin site on property!

Visitors to the infamous Chichen Itza archaeological site, a perennial favorite hosting an average of 4,000 people a day, will enhance their experience with the new Palace of Maya Civilization, opening just a few miles away from the site. Chichen Itza is thought to be one of the largest Mayan cities, and it contains an excellent array of architectural elements indicative of the ancient Mayans, including ball courts, temples and cenotes (naturally occurring freshwater sinkholes).

Among the most beautiful of Mayan sites, the ruins of the walled city of Tulum stand sentinel on a breathtaking ocean cliff along the Riviera Maya. This site served as an important trading port for the Maya, and is filled with frescos and stucco figures portraying the deities thought to have protected this seaside fortress. The magnificent coastal setting allows visitors to take a cooling dip in the surf after their archeological explorations.

Though their original empire crumbled, the Maya people themselves did not disappear. 2012 will be a year to highlight Mayan culture and travelers in the region will have the opportunity to witness ceremonies, visit indigenous villages and immerse themselves in the cultural traditions that live on today.

The thriving Yucatan capital city of Merida was built by Spanish conquistadors atop the ancient site of the Mayan city of T’ho. Original carved Mayan stones were used as their building blocks, and can still be seen today in places such as the walls of the city’s main cathedral. Merida is honoring its Mayan heritage with the opening of the Museo del Mundo Maya in June, which aims to showcase not just the ancient world but also celebrate the active, thriving Mayan culture of today.

Community-based tourism will also bring travelers into the homes and villages of today’s Mayan people for a firsthand taste of their culture. Activities range from hands-on cooking classes, learning local crafts such as hammock making, and lending a hand on community education and building projects, providing great opportunities for travelers to make a personal connection with the Maya of today.

Angela Dollar is in love with the world and all its cultures and landscapes, and is passionate about sustainable travel’s ability to preserve and protect them. Read more of her writing on the Travel with a Purpose blog at Wanderlust and Lipstick.

Dreams Resorts & Spas Launches Guest Blogger Program

Dreams Resorts & Spas is excited to launch a new guest blogger program. We are excited to give you a different perspective on our resorts and destinations. Our first partnership is with Matt Long, a reputable travel writer of Land Lopers.com. This Friday he will be arriving in Puerto Vallarta to experience Unlimited-Luxury® and the west cost of Mexico for the first time. 

Matt will spend four days at Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa getting the same exceptional treatment that all of our guests receive.  During his trip he will have the opportunity to visit nearby sister-resort, Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta. After his trip he will be contributing informative blog posts here for you to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a guest at Dreams Resorts & Spas. We look forward to his firsthand stories that will come out of his trip to Puerto Vallarta this weekend.  

He is really looking forward to our partnership and shared some details with his readers on his site. He said, “I’m an active traveler and so I will be exploring the local areas as well to see what’s there and whether or not it makes for a truly great travel destination. True to form, I will highlight the best and worst of the experience so that you may make well informed travel and vacation decisions.”

Read more about our new partnership with Matt on his website Landlopers.com. He will be doing some live tweeting from the resorts. Follow him on Twitter at @LandLopers to learn about his adventures as they are happening!

Dreams Huatulco Spa – A Dream Come True!

By Guest Blogger Stephanie Diehl

In the midst of all this family fun at Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa, my husband Terry and I were able to sneak away for some alone time at the Dreams Spa by Pevonia. I took a tour of the spa (which was my FAVORITE part of the hotel inspection) in the morning and insisted Terry come with me to at least partake in the hydrotherapy circuit.

The hydrotherapy circuit is like a water park for adults. First you will change into your swimsuits after removing all of your jewelry; you will find robes and slippers to use in your locker.  Ulysses, our spa attendant, led us to the sauna for 15 minutes of dry heat followed by the steam room. In between we rinsed off in a tepid shower. We were given ice chilled washcloths and our choice of infused water to keep hydrated. Hydration is an extremely important factor to a successful spa experience. The next step was to slowly walk through 2 pools of stones, one with warm water and one with cool water. This is the reflexology pool, the treatment helps with circulation.  I have to admit, it is not easy to walk on the stones but it did make my legs and feet feel good. After the reflexology pool we were escorted into the hydrotherapy circuit pool. This is where the fun begins!

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There are several fountains with various levels of water pressure to massage your body followed by several stations of bubbles like a Jacuzzi to sit, stand and lay in while the bubbles massage your entire body. This area takes a minimum of 30 minutes to complete. The next step is to relax in the whirlpools of warm and cool water. This is followed by a series of showers. There is a bucket shower which dumps cold water which is followed by a rainfall shower, ending with a pulsating shower. Now it is time to dry off, take a snack of dried fruit and nuts with your choice of bottled or infused water and relax in the relaxation area until your treatment. If you are having a treatment the hydrotherapy circuit is included in your package, otherwise daily or weekly passes can be purchased. I would recommend at least 45-90 minutes to experience this unique relaxing therapy.

Terry went to play with the kids at the pool while I indulged in a chocolate scrub and Swedish massage. This was my first chocolate exfoliation, something I had been dreaming of trying for a long time and now my dream has come true! I was scrubbed from the neck down with ground cocoa beans in a moisturizing exfoliation cream. This was followed by a shower and a Swedish massage. I felt sorry for my massage therapist as I was REALLY tight. I was having trouble keeping my mind free and clear- my thoughts kept going to the children and what was scheduled for the day. But she worked her magic and by the end of the session, I was completely relaxed! I managed to steal a few more minutes for myself in the relaxation area prior to cleaning up in the locker room, which was completely stocked with shower gel, shampoo, and all the toiletries I needed to pull myself together.

I highly recommend time in the spa whether traveling with children or not! It is important to indulge yourself with quiet time and the spa is the perfect place for this. A la carte treatments and packages are available. Be sure to check the Sundial newsletter for the daily spa specials. Couples massages and packages are also offered. The spa is a wonderful place to reconnect and relax together. At the very least, take time to try the hydrotherapy circuit. The spa at Dreams Huatulco is an oasis for relaxation that should not be missed!

About the blogger: Stephanie Diehl is a professional travel consultant with over 15 years of experience in this travel industry. She has developed a thorough understanding of what constitutes as quality travel planning and has expertise in planning many types of travel, specializing in destination weddings and honeymoons. Visit her website for more information: http://traveldesigned.com/.

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Guest Blogger: Stephanie Diehl

From time to time, we ask travelers of our resorts to tell us what they think about our properties. In this blog, Stephanie Diehl, professional travel consultant and frequent visitor of Dreams Resorts & Spas, tells why she doesn’t hestitate to travel to our properties.

Why I Don’t Hesitate

No matter which resort or destination, I find consistency throughout the brand. Though each property is unique, there are certain elements I always find. Each resort includes 24-hour room service in EVERY room category. Depending on the size of the property, there are typically 5-8 restaurants per property. Restaurants choices include a beachfront or poolside grill for snacks, Seafood, French, Italian, Mexican and Asian influenced cuisines served at ala carte restaurants. The quality and freshness of the food as well as presentation exceeds what has become the norm of all-inclusive resorts. Every Dreams, Now and Secrets resort has a buffet, the ultimate in buffet dining with several cook to order stations. None of the restaurants require reservations!  Premium and domestic liquors are served at the bars and restaurants.  Pool and beach service can be found at all resorts. Looking for a romantic, private dinner on the beach? For a nominal charge private dining on the beach can arranged and for more discriminating palates specialty wines can be purchased.

There is consistency in the amenities each resort offers.  The entertainment staff has a variety of land and water activities for young and old alike to be enjoyed both day and night. There are world class spas at each Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resort and all Secrets, Dreams and Now Resorts & Spas. You will also find an Explorers Club for the children at all Dreams and Now Resorts & Spas. The staffs are American Red Cross certified in CPR and First Aid and there are age appropriate, engaging activities for the children. Mom and Dad are only a cell phone (or pager) call away (provided by the hotel). There are babysitters available for a nominal fee for children under 3 and those late date nights. There are even camp outs and movie nights for the kids.  All of the resorts either have or are near dive centers and championship golf courses.  At the properties in Mexico yoga is now offered. Of course, you NEVER have to wear a wristband at any of the these properties!

The consistency continues throughout the properties with all the spacious rooms and suites being well appointed in décor and amenities. A daily refreshed mini-bar is included in ALL room categories at the resorts.  I can’t think of a single thing not provided for your comfort and pleasure. Robes and slippers, turn down service, safes, irons and ironing boards, hair dryers, quality toiletries, coffee makers will always be found in your accommodations, no matter what category is reserved.  Satellite televisions, alarm clocks with mp3 docks, CD and DVD players are also found in every room category. EVERYTHING you would ever want when traveling! Jacuzzi tubs can be found in most suites.  For more personalized service, each resort has Preferred Club levels with even more added amenities, upgraded mini-bar, internet access and private lounges.

I don’t hesitate to recommend Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts and all Secrets, Dreams and Now Resorts & Spas because the service starts the moment you arrive. Always greeted with a warm smile, champagne or bottled water and a cool cloth. The entire staff aims to please and serves with pleasure.  Best of all on the rare occasion when there is a complaint, the staff is empowered and the management has responded to rectify the mishap. That is why I don’t hesitate to recommend these great properties!

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