Traveling

Vacations… The Best Way to Enjoy Your Time Off

vacation | thl vacations

A vacation is getting time off to rest from work, school, or simply from our daily life activity. The best way to spend this time is with loved ones in a fun and or relaxing environment. It could be by traveling to the exotic Hawaii with its beautiful beaches and amazing tropical weather or to Orlando with its exciting attractions such as Seaworld, Islands of Adventure and Walt Disney World. Going on a vacation is a great way to explore other countries and to learn from different cultures. A vacation can be taking a flight to a far away destination or it can be a road trip to a different city within close proximity.

 

Going on a cruise is a great option for a vacation as well. Cruising gives one the opportunity to travel around the world while enjoying the magnificent views of the ocean throughout your trip. On a cruise you have the opportunity to enjoy the amenities at all times of the day such as: parties, drinks, exquisite food and around the clock service.

 

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The concept of vacationing has developed over the past two centuries. Before having a vacation, either flying or cruising was a luxury that only wealthy people were able to take advantage of but vacations are becoming more affordable every year. There are a few things that one should do when planning a vacation. First set a budget, that way you don’t spend more than you can afford. Second do research before hand, that way you will know where to go according to your budget so you don’t waste time looking for things to do when you get there. Last but not least make a schedule; creating a schedule will give you enough time to do everything you want to do.

 

All-inclusive vacations are a great way to vacation. All-inclusive vacations are when one pays upfront for their accommodations as well as food, drinks and amenities. There are several resorts and cruises that offer all-inclusive packages so you won’t have to worry about where to eat, drink, explore or party. All-inclusive packages are great for vacationers on a strict budget because they know how much they will be spending on everything upfront.

 

resale | thl vacations

 

Buying into a timeshare resale is another great way to vacation. Buying a timeshare resale is less expensive that buying a timeshare from the developer. Owning a timeshare week is great because you have a set place to go to every year and you still have the option to use it in other parts of the world if you want to have a new experience. Having a timeshare is a great way to vacation for families because they offer all of the comforts of home such as a fully furnished living room and kitchen. Owning a timeshare is almost like having your own condo in the destination of your choice at a fraction of the cost. Talk to one of our travel agents today to see if owning or renting a timeshare is right for you.

Perusing Cruise Options

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 With WAVE season around the corner, cruise lines are gearing up to feature their best offers. To prepare for the wave of deals you’re about to see, here are some tips on benefits and features of cruising.

A cruise is a pleasurable way to travel as you sail to your destination or destinations. Taking a cruise is one of the most exciting ways to vacation, traveling around the world and having everything at your fingertips. Ask for it, and it will be there! Clubs, retail stores, beauty salon, spa, different restaurants, movie theaters, bars, pool, luxurious bedrooms and the best part is that it’s all inclusive (except alcoholic beverage). Some cruises do include alcoholic beverages for an additional fee but most of them do not and others, depending on the type of cruise, will charge you fee for an all you can drink package.

There are many cruise lines that offer a variety of different cruises, from one day cruising in the surrounding area up to months of traveling around the world. You can take a cruise from almost anywhere in the world. Each cruise line has different activities and amenities and all the cruises are different, but one thing that they have in common is their great customer service. Each employee makes a promise to give the best customer service in the world, making you feel like a superstar. Since there are so many cruise lines the best way to choose a cruise that will fulfill your dream vacation is by doing some research and working with a travel agent. They have a lot of activities and excursions to offer on and off of the cruise. If you like to explore they can take you hiking, snorkeling, swimming with the dolphins, etc. Otherwise you can just stay on the cruise ship and enjoy the various activities on board like contests, spa, gallery, shopping, shows, or just relax at the pool.

cruise activities | Thl vacations

One of the most important things that travelers should know is that they must have the proper travel documents. Most cruises require a passport, and depending on the places you are traveling to or your nationality you can travel with your birth certificate and state id. It’s important to talk to a travel agent before booking your cruise to be sure that you have the proper documentation to travel.

When preparing for a cruise you should pack carefully and bring appropriate outfits for each occasion, that’s the beauty of a cruise you can do everything while you are sailing. Bring a bathing suit for the beach and the pool; formal attire for dinner, sport clothes if you decide to go to the gym or play tennis or basketball. There is a bit of everything on a cruise for your enjoyment.

packing for a cruise | thl vacations

At moments you’ll forget that you’re on a ship until you leave your room and see that you’re surrounded by water. Before cruising was a luxury that not everyone could afford just wealthy people, but nowadays it has become very affordable and convenient to almost everyone. Imagine being on a ship that has everything you need as if it was a mini city. You can go to different restaurants, engage in exciting activities, and lodge in a comfortable environment all in the same place.

The Details on Travel Deals

amazing travel deals on the beach

amazing travel deals on the beach

Travel Deals offer package promotions for vacations that can make traveling easier, more convenient, save on budget and make luxury traveling more affordable.  Not all travel deals are about luxury travel but many are and they provide discounts that will save travelers money even with a higher end vacation. Many travel agencies also offer travel deals. The down side of some travel deals is that you don’t always get to choose the exact details- you may not get to choose which 5-seat car you rent or which hotel room you stay in.

Travel deal packages include discounts on a variety of traveling components such as airfare, car rental, hotel rooms for a certain number of nights, and sometimes dining, park and attraction tickets, cruises, entertainment and activities. Travel deals offer buying all of these at once at a discount. Some deals offer cheap car rental for booking a flight or flight and hotel.  Some deals offer free nights at a hotel for booking a certain number of nights.

family dining packages on vacation

Travel deals are packages that change with each offer and each company.   Some companies such as Hotwire.com, Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Cheaptickets.com, Travelocity.com, Priceline.com and Tripadvisor.com have a variety ways of searching and buying travel package deals.  Most of these companies are online and the reservations are made online. Some companies can be done over the phone or in person. Check out travel deals for both your own local city and for extended vacations at AAA, ASTA Liberty Travel or if you are a student look at STA and Student Universe.  All inclusive hotels and resorts also offer their own package deals.  Other less known but extremely helpful deal search sites are Hipmunk.com, Pinnr.com, AutoSlash.com. Bing.com/travel

Easy popular travel deals are often found with the following companies including Disney, AAA and Club Med. Disneyworld and Disney World Resorts offer package vacations including hotels, parks, dining options and cruises. Certain Hilton hotels offer nights free when a certain number of nights are booked.  All-inclusive companies such as family oriented Club Med and romantic getaways Sandals have resort, dining and activity packages. Many hotels offer nights free after booking a certain number like The Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri offers a free third night.  AAA offers discounts on local activities for example in Atlanta, Georgia AAA sells Georgia Aquarium tickets at a great discount from their original price.

all inclusive | thl vacationsThe final best travel deal is not made in the discounts or reservations but from your actual traveling. Many airline, travel companies and major credit card companies offer travel reward cards and loyalty programs.  Delta Airlines and AirTran Airways offer frequent flyer mile systems; the more flights you take with these companies the more your mile points add up to earning you free airline tickets. These programs just require registering.  These two airline companies and others offer their own travel credit cards that give flyer mile points, and discounts at hotels, car rental companies and restaurants. These discounts can be used locally and during vacations to build up your rewards.   Use programs like Award Wallet to collect and keep count of all yours and your families points, travels, rewards, credits and expiration dates.  Most importantly have fun!

Destination Spotlight: Modesto, CA

Modesto, ca THL VacationsModesto, originating as a stop on the railroad connecting Sacramento to Los Angeles, was founded in 1870. Since then it has grown into so much more:  Modesto ranks as the 18th largest city in the state of California. According to legend, the city was to be named after William C. Ralston, an early California financier. However, he declined the honor, and a Spanish-speaking railroad worker said that Ralston was “Muy modesto,” or very modest. Thus, the town was named Modesto.

Nevertheless, while modest is in the name, Modesto is not modest about its attractions, as it is home to the critically-acclaimed Gallo Center for the Arts, the Prospect Theater Project, the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, the State Theater, the Modesto Nuts, a Colorado Rockies Minor League Baseball affiliate, and the Amgen Tour of California. The Xclamation Festival, also known as X-Fest, has become the city’s largest entertainment and cultural gathering. It is an annual festival that takes place on the streets of downtown Modesto, usually on the first Saturday in August. Founded in 2000 and organized by Chris Ricci Presents, the day is known for its Mardi Gras party atmosphere, concert performances that go all night, and a motto of “Good Times, Downtown.” It features 50 bands on eight stages in eight hours. It is 21 and over only, and has bragged of crowds that average 15,000 people, the capacity limit set by the city of Modesto. In 2009, however,  X-Fest had an estimated 16,000 attendees enjoying music and food on the streets of downtown.

modesto x fest thl vacationsDowntown Modesto is known for having a variety of great restaurants and fun night life attractions. It also hosts a multi-venue Art Walk year around on the third Thursday of every month. This walk is free to take, and maps for it are available. Modesto has hosted many music festivals, such as SummerFest, a downtown summer concert series.

Another Modesto attraction is the McHenry Mansion, built by hand in the early 1880s by Robert McHenry, a local rancher and banker. The mansion is included on the National Register of Historic Places, and tours of it are available. Then there is the State Theatre, dating back to the 1920s. It was renovated in recent years, and serves as a local performance arts center and as a movie theater specializing in independent and foreign films. Sports fans will love to know that the Modesto Nuts MLB team is the main attraction for locals between Easter and Labor Day.

McHenry Mansion thl vacationsIn 1973, Modesto was immortalized by George Lucas in the film American Graffiti, in which Ron Howard, Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss starred. Lucas’ film paid homage to teenage life in Modesto in 1962 based on his own experiences growing up there. Ironically, most of the movie was filmed elsewhere, because the Modesto city council refused to let Lucas film Graffiti in Modesto. Since then, the city of Modesto has realized the strength of its connection to the award-winning film, and is now planning and preparing new tourist attractions and events for American Graffiti tourists. An annual festival paying homage to the movie, Graffiti Summer, is held in Modesto and lasts the entire month of June, when it draws thousands of visitors and car enthusiasts, along with hundreds of classic and antique cars.

Holiday Travel: Top Destination For The Holidays!

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There is always a new travel destination on the horizon. Expanding from the east coast to as far as Hawaii, it’s going to be hard for anyone to decide which the best place to go is. Holidays, though, is not really the best time to experiment with your getaways due to the costs and hassle risks, so we have a few recommendations for you to narrow down the list.

 

 

1. The Perfect San Fo.

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Hop on the cable car and feel the wind brush your face every so gently. San Francisco, California, lets you see and experience things like everything was taken from a Hollywood movie. The district of Marina‘s proud chic bistros provides a picture-perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge as you dine, making the experience more romantic for you and your partner. Take a cruise down the Noe Valley which boasts unique and peaceful boutiques.

 

2. Hawaii is Pure Love.

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Even just the name, Hawaii, gives anyone a brief vision of the fancy cocktails with cute mini umbrellas, the beach and of the grass skirts. Of course, the infamous Waikiki beach is typically what you would think of when you think of Hawaii, with its soft, smooth sand and its exceptional surf. Yet, if you really want to experience Hawaii, we suggest that you take some time and visit the peak of the 350-acre volcanic crater, the Diamond Head. You may also ride the bike and hit the road or visit the art museums for a cultural experience.

 

3. Your New York, Everybody’s New York.

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It would be impossible to experience all of New York in one visit, so we suggest that you go straight to the must-sees: The Statue of Liberty, the iconic Empire State Building, the celebrated Metropolitan Museum of Art, the renowned Central Park, and the Time Square. When you’re done checking off the list, we recommend that you thread the beaten path and stopover at one of the city’s library or indulge in the Upper East Side for a one of kind dining experience.

 

 

Holidays only come once a year and usually they are costly and stressful. If you’re going for a travel getaway this Holiday, we propose that you book your travel ahead of time to avoid the hassle to truely experience a relaxing vacation. Book your reservations now via THL Vacations via http://www.thlvacations.com.

Destination Spotlight: Clearwater

Visit Clearwater, Florida

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Clearwater Beach has beautiful beaches, tropical environment and picturesque sunsets. It is agreat romantic getaway and an entertaining family vacation.

Clearwater’s best offer is its beaches.  It is voted the best beach on the Gulf Coast, with clear water, large sand areas and activities including parasailing, boating, fishing and swimming. The beaches in Clearwater are a great family vacation; during Spring Break the city is a large party scene. The beach has swimmers, suffers and sun bathers alike. Clearwater beach has great sunsets.

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Pier 60 on Clearwater beach offers rides, waterslide, games and entertainment for kids.The pier area has street performers and local vendors selling beach fare, woodcarvings, inexpensive jewelry, shells, etc. There are several sweet shops, hot dogs stands and restaurants within walking distance.

Visit Clearwater Municipal Marina and take daytime, dinner, family, sailing or snorkeling cruises. Cruises show history and wildlife including commonly seen dolphins. Try Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise a party cruise with bright lights,and loud karaoke music.The harbor also offers deep sea fishing outfitters and fresh seafood.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a non-profit working animal hospital for injured marine animals including sea turtles, coral reefs and stingrays.  Exhibits, presentations and animal encounters happen daily. CMA is home to the famous dolphin, “Winter”, who has no tail.

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Head to the South Beach of Clearwater and visit Bird Island. You will see large flocks of White Ibis, Blue Herons, Double Crested Cormorants, and Sandhill Cranes. Head to the north beach and visit wild Caladesi Island.  The island has 3 miles of beaches, nature trails and seashell hunting. Rent kayak and paddle to Island, go on kayak tour or go by boat.

Clearwater city has miniature golf courses, movie theatres and other entertainment.  Clearwater has plenty of beach shops along the water. For retail shopping try Westfield Countryside Mall or Northwood Plaza with chain retail and restaurants.

Dining in Clearwater consist mostly of beach grills and bars offering seafood, burgers and beers.  Try crowded Frenchy’s restaurant, Cooter’s, Rumba or The Bait House. For something fancier try Crabby Bill’s, Chore, Caretta’s or Clearwater Wine Bar & Bistro. There are a number of waterfront, burger and pizza restaurants.

Nightlife in Clearwater has several clubs and bars. Enjoy spots like Shipwreck, Shephard’sTiki Bar & Wave Nightclub, The Brown Boxer Pub and Crabby’sBeachwalk to name a few.

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Clearwater is packed full of lodging-ranging from small local motels to 5 star hotels and residential homes or condos. Good motels in the area are Coconut Grove, Frenchy’s Oasis and Chart House Suites. There are large chain hotels and luxury hotels ranging from Holiday Inn to the Wyndham Garden and the Redington Ambassador.Clearwater is 30 minutes from the Tampa International Airport.

Nearby cities Largo, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and larger Tampa have plenty for a day trips including Busch Gardens amusement park, water parks, The Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo, restaurants, live music and nightlife.

Destination Spotlight: Mexico

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Mexico has long been a traveler’s favorite hot spot due to the sheer number of different things to do, see and eat. Whether you are making a day trip through San Diego to Tijuana or plan to fly directly to the coastal paradise of Cancun, the possibilities for your Mexican adventure are endless.

No matter what your interest, Mexico has many stunning destinations that are sure to please every taste and budget. Due to its perfect coastal climate, the beaches in Mexico are a top pick for sun lovers and sporting types, with snorkeling, surfing and parasailing always on offer. Clear and temperate ocean water makes scuba diving among the wildlife of the country’s many reefs a truly magical experience. Swimming with the dolphins in Punta Mita is also not to be missed!

If sea life isn’t your thing, Mexico also has many ancient ruins to explore. Among the top places to visit archeological sites in Mexico are Quintana, Chiapas and the Yucatan peninsula. For a special treat, check out Teotihuacan right outside Mexico city; its Pyramid of the Sun is one of the largest in the world.

Riviera Maya, or the Mayan Riviera, in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula is known for its vast number of all-inclusive resorts and smaller boutique hotels. A top draw in this area continues to be the Belize Barrier Reef, a perfect spot for underwater exploring.

Given its location in Central America there is really no “best” time to travel to Mexico, at least in terms of weather. If the beach is your destination, you’ll find tropical breezes almost every day of the year. However, weather isn’t always everything. Like most vacation destinations, crowded conditions do not make for the most pleasant experience so it’s best to stay away from Mexico during the major Christian holidays and Spring Break. If crowds are your thing, though, be sure to visit during one of the popular festival periods, such as Day of the Dead or Fiestas de Octubre in Guadalajara, where you can listen to mariachi bands and drink tequila until the cows come home.

And what vacation would be complete without a sampling of the local fare? Mexican food is famous all over the world and thousands flock to the source each year just to eat, drink and be merry. Things like peppers, beans and corn form the base of a wide variety of European-inspired dishes, and don’t forget to wash it all down with an ice cold Mexican cerveza, or beer.

Whether you are a beach bum, sea creature or history buff, you’ll always find something to do. Vamanos a Mexico!

Destination Spotlight: San Francisco, California

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                  Visiting the city of San Francisco is truly a treat, from the moment it welcomes you as you drive over the iconic Golden Gate bridge. San Francisco, which is Spanish for Saint Francis, is the leading financial and cultural center of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. It was founded on June 29, 1776, when Spanish colonists established a fort and a mission named after St. Francis of Assisi. The California Gold Rush of 1849, from which the city’s football team gets its name, pushed the city into a period of rapid growth, making it into one of the largest cities on the West Coast. During the 1960s it became ground zero for the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, marking San Francisco as a center of liberal activism.

The city still has a tremendous homosexual population, making it a great place to stay if you’re gay. You can take a trip back in gay history at the Castro Theatre, an iconic movie palace dating back to the 1920s that houses small, independent films. There’s also the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender gathering in the nation, centered at the foot of San Francisco’s historic city hall, where Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, once stood and addressed the gay community over thirty years ago. It’s a gathering of exhibitors, artists, and performers that could only happen in San Francisco.

To learn about San Francisco’s gay history and culture, take a two-hour tour that winds through one of the city’s most famous districts. Or come out to Dolores Park, nicknamed the gay beach and one of the most popular parks in San Francisco. It is located at the intersection the Castro, Mission District and Noe Valley, and is known for its spectacular views of the city.

And one can’t forget the gay club scene, with nightclubs in every genre to suit a variety of tastes. They include The Lookout, Yoshi’s Jazz Club & Japanese Restaurant, the California Academy of Sciences Nightlife, the Badlands, The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko, and Harry Denton’s Starlight Room.

If you’re straight, San Francisco has lots to see and do as well. You can enjoy some of the finest cuisine and wine in this epicenter of epicurean delights, and check out some culture at Palace of Fine Arts. There are diverse neighborhood festivals to enjoy, featuring live music and fun. You can see San Francisco from a seat on a double-decker bus tour, or ride a cable car for fun. You can visit the largest Chinatown outside of Asia for some cheap souvenirs and great food. Or you can take a ferry ride to The Rock, also known as Alcatraz Island, which once housed a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison in 1868, and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. During that time, it held some of the most dangerous and infamous criminals in the U.S., including Al Capone. In 1972 Alcatraz became a national recreation area, and it became a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

And there is a straight nightlife too, with live music, bars and lounges for every taste, huge dance clubs and stand-up comedy venues.

Destination Spotlight – Arizona

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You can discover all the Grand Canyon State’s unique destinations when you
plan a trip to Arizona. Besides the Grand Canyon itself, top places to see include
No trip to Arizona would be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon,
easily Arizona’s most distinguishable landmark. Stretching 277 miles, the Grand
Canyon’s steep, rocky walls descend more than a mile to its floor, where the
Colorado River runs a swift southwestern course. Visitors can enter the park from
either the north or south rim, or stop at its western edge to check out the
breathtaking Havasupai Falls and the town of Supai, which are also accessible
through the Hualapai Indian Reservation.
In Flagstaff, one can take a tour of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a
sprawling, sandy preserve that borders Arizona and Utah. Located inside the Navajo
Nation, ancestral home to the Navajo, one of the largest Native American tribes in
the United States, Monument Valley is near the Four Corners area, another must-see
spot. Once a flat basin, Monument Valley is now part of the Colorado Plateau, a
region characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the tallest reaching
1,000 feet above the valley floor, which is made up largely of Cutler siltstone, a rock
formation found only in the Southwest. As such, it serves as a symbol of the Old
West, and a favorite shooting location for Hollywood films, starting with the John
Wayne flick Stagecoach.
While in the Four Corners area, you’ll want to stop by the Painted Desert, an
area of the badlands stretching from the Grand Canyon National Park into the
Petrified Forest National Park. Much of the Painted Desert’s gray and red banded
cliffs are within the Navajo Nation. But those aren’t the only colors you’ll see, as the
desert’s 93,500 acres contain every color you can imagine, from deep purples to
fiery oranges and coral pinks. Afterwards, you’ll want to stop by the Petrified Forest,
one of the world’s largest and most colorful collections of petrified wood. The area is
especially known for its fossils, some of which date over 225 million years ago.
Another symbol of the West, in the form of western technological progress, is
the Hoover Dam. Built during the depths of the Great Depression, the Hoover Dam
project offered hope to thousands of desperate people looking for work, as well as
promising to transform the Colorado River into a hydroelectric power source, which
it did, in addition to turning arid Southern California into the nation’s produce
basket. The Hoover Dam is located in Black Canyon, between Arizona and Nevada
on U.S. 93, about a half-hour from Las Vegas, at the bottom of Lake Mead. It offers
breathtaking and spectacular views that will leave you in marvel at what a
mankind can accomplish. A tour is the best way to see how the dam operates
firsthand. Another must-see destination is Lake Powell, a 186-mile-long body of water
offering spectacular views of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. With a
surface area of 162,700 acres and 1,960 miles of shore, Lake Powell is highly sought
out for fishing, boating, and water sports.

Luxury Vacation Destinations

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Los Cabos is located at the southern tip of Mexico‘s Baja California Peninsula. The area started off as a fishing town but has now developed into a tourism mecca. The beautiful weather, luxurious resorts, sport fishing, golf courses and convenient location attract many celebrities. Los Cabos is a magnificent place to enjoy whale watching. Whales visit the area in winter due to the warm waters. 

 

Steamboat Springs CO steamboat-springs

 Steamboat Springs, CO is internationally known as a famous winter ski resort destination.  It is located in the upper valley of the Yampa River, along U.S. Highway 40 just west of the Continental Divide and Rabbit Ears Pass.  The area is home to natural hot springs that are located throughout the area making it extremely popular among tourists. Steamboat Springs offers a variety of winter activities such as dog sledding, skiing and snow boarding.

Scottsdale AZ

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 Scottsdale, AZ has grown to be a more popular destination among tourists with deep pockets. Downtown Scottsdale has even been described as “a desert version of Miami’s South Beach” by The New York Times and as having “plenty of late night partying and a buzzing hotel scene”.

St. Maarten

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Saint Maarten is an island in the northeast Caribbean, located east of Puerto Rico.  The island is one of the Caribbean’s most exciting vacation destinations! Tourists flock to this exotic luxury destination because of the gourmet food, world class duty free shopping, vibrant nightlife, exotic beaches, year-round warm climate and the cosmopolitan atmosphere with a Caribbean twist.