A luxury vacation is meant to whisk you away from the real world to a place where your most difficult decision is which gourmet restaurant to dine at that night, & the only responsibility you have is to apply some SPF before sunbathing on the beach. From the moment you arrive at Sandals Regency La Toc, your worries will melt away as you pass the mile-long entrance lined with towering palm trees. This glamorous all-inclusive resort on the stunning island of St. Lucia has everything you need to have a luxurious getaway.
Want a glimpse inside your potential paradise?
Regardless of where you stay, you're guaranteed a breathtaking panoramic ocean view, extravagant amenities & stylish decor. For the real royal treatment, though, there's no beating the Sunset Bluff Millionaire Butler Villa Suite. Imagine soaking in an aromatic alfresco bath drawn by your personal butler, or taking a dip in your private infinity pool or whirlpool while overlooking the Caribbean. After a long day of total relaxation, you can savor a glass of wine on your private terrace.
With eight restaurants to choose from, you can essentially eat your way around the world in a week. While they all have a distinctly different vibe & menu, each offers unparalleled service, phenomenal fare & a chic environment. When you're looking for elegant French ambience & cuisine, head to La Toc. Or, indulge in the sumptuous Italian dishes at Armando's. If you're craving Asian fusion, Kimono's has an extensive menu that is bound to satisfy your palate. Don't miss Neptune's for fresh seafood, & when you're looking for a place to enjoy a long casual lunch, Pitons fits the bill.
World class golfing
One of the highlights at this resort is the on-site golf course, which features lush rolling hills & nine greens. Don't be fooled by the magnificent fairways, though – they are narrow, making the course a challenge even for skilled golfers. Still, the course is accommodating to all levels, & you're bound to play more than a few rounds considering the fact that all sandals guests are treated to complimentary green fees.
Lounging in the lap of luxury
If you'd rather be basking on the beach than engaging in one of the exciting land or water sports offered on premises, you're in the perfect spot. Private cabanas allow you to get some shade by the pool while enjoying the phenomenal view in privacy. Need a refreshing cocktail or a snack? Don't move – the cabana concierge can cater to all your desires. A visit to this resort wouldn't be complete without a stop at the Red Lane Spa, so be sure to try the Signature West Indian massage, or the invigorating Caribbean Sea Mud Wrap to purge your body of impurities & nourish your skin.
On the whole, St. Lucia is a calm island in the evening. That doesn't mean you can't have a lively time once the sun sets here, however. Rodney Bay Village is packed with bars, clubs & eateries where you can get accustomed to the island nightlife. Once the sun goes down, these spots heat up with all kinds of excitement to keep you entertained, no matter your personality or preferences. Whether you prefer a low-key pub to kick back with a beer or an energetic club with pulsating music, there's a place for you to let loose on your luxury vacation to St. Lucia.
Here's where to head once night falls:
This horseshoe-shaped bar is one of the best late night spots on the entire island. Delirius serves up succulent seafood, eclectic & refreshing drinks & an impressive array of beers. This is also a great place for people-watching, as the bar is known to attract locals & beautiful people with its trendy vibe & crowd-pleasing DJs. All of the original martinis, mojitos & caipirinhas are made with fresh herbs & fruit. Be careful, though – the cocktails are known to pack a powerful punch.
The name says it all: This lounge & dance hall is always a party. With one of the island's largest discos, Pulse is sure to please any patrons with its two well-stocked bars & techno DJs, who spin basically all night long. There's even a VIP section with bottle service for high-rollers, which includes its own strobe-lit dance floor. Make sure to adhere to the dress code Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays, which forbids T-shirts, flip-flops, hats & shorts. It's definitely worth stopping by Pulse on Sundays, when you'll be greeted with complimentary rum punch.
If you're more of a laid-back vacationer who prefers to nurse a beer than dominate the dance floor, Shamrocks Pub should be your first stop on a bar crawl. Plus, any homesickness is bound to fade since you'll feel right at home at this Irish-style bar. Shamrock's may be a little quieter during the week, but still sees its fair share of regulars, many of which are local boaters. On weekends, though, the pub livens up with a rowdier crowd. After playing a few rounds of pool or testing your skills at the dart board, you can feast on some fish & chips or other familiar favorites. For a real treat, stop by on Wednesdays for live jazz. Or swing through on a Thursday, when live entertainment, karaoke & pool competitions transform the place with plenty of action.
It's inevitable that on a luxury vacation to Mexico, you will be in awe of the inspiring scenery as well as the wildlife you see around you. If these natural environments are not conserved, however, it will be impossible to observe the plant & animal life for years to come. That's why the term ecological tourism has become a buzzword in recent years. As travelers become more conscious of how they can support conservation efforts, they are increasingly dedicating their itineraries to doing so. Riviera Maya & surrounding areas offer a lot of options for ecotourism, thanks to the unparalleled geographic location & unusual environmental conditions, which produce lush tropical foliage & provide the perfect home for exotic creatures.
On your next vacation to this region, make a stop at one of these reserves & parks, which are dedicated to protecting the diverse plant & animal life:
This isn't just another Sea World – Xel-Ha is an aquatic theme park that also acts as an ecotourism development. The park is best known for a program that allows visitors to swim with the dolphins. However, there are a bevy of other thrilling activities, like the Sea Trek & Snuba, a combination of snorkeling & scuba, that allow you to see hundreds of colorful fish up close. You could also hop on the Zip Bike, which allows you to pedal through the jungle at 23 feet for 30 minutes so that you can get a bird's-eye view of the untouched landscaped once ruled by the ancient Maya.
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
It makes sense that Sian Ka'an means "gift from the sky" or "gift from heaven" in the Mayan language. Covering 2,500 square miles of breathtaking riverways, lagoons, coral reefs & unexcavated ruins, this is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, & serves as the home for hundreds of species of mammals & birds. Due to its 23 archeological sites set in the rainforest, this reserve has also been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. Visitors have the chance to go kayaking & fly fishing, learn about the environment on a land tour or even get involved in a conservation project. All proceeds go to fund the park's educational & conservation programs.
Parque Nacional Arrecifes Puerto Morelos
One of the top eco adventures to be had in Riviera Maya awaits at this park, which costs a mere $2 to enter. The best part? This hidden treasure has yet to be discovered by most tourists, so you won't be swarmed with other visitors while snorkeling, scuba diving or simply taking a tour. The Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative has worked to limit these activities to designated areas, & this is one of the only spots where you can do so.
One of the best parts about a family vacation in an exotic destination is that it gives you & your kids a chance to see animals that simply can't be found at home. However, if you want to get up close to any local creatures safely, you need to ensure that you're in the right environment with experts on hand. That's why Croco Cun Zoo is such an ideal place for the entire family. Located right in the heart of the Riviera Maya, this zoo offers a highly unique experience that lets you not only observe the animals but also interact with them. On your next luxury vacation to Mexico, make it a point to stop here & you're bound to make some memories you & your children will never forget.
Here's what you need to know:
Getting to Croco Cun is relatively simple. If you're staying in Riviera Maya, you can take a short taxi ride to the site. You can still make the trip easily from Cancun or Playa del Carmen, as both have a bus line that will take you right to the location. You also have the option of taking a Playa Express minivan – you'll find it opposite the main doors of the Cancun's bus station & across the parking lot.
Fortunately, Croco Cun is open seven days a week, meaning you can definitely squeeze in a visit whenever is convenient. Adults pay $28 for admittance, & tickets for children between the ages of 6 & 12 are just $18. If you have any little ones that are 5 or under, they get in for free. The best part? All the proceeds fund work on behalf of the wild animals.
So what is included in the ticket? A 60- to 75-minute interactive guided tour. Though that may not seem like much time, you'll squeeze in a lot of excitement. Afterward, you can stop at the on-site café for a crusty baguette sandwich, a fresh salad or just an iced coffee to refuel.
Along the way, a veterinary student will coach you on how to interact with the animals, including how to touch them, hold them & feed them in a safe manner. Meanwhile, the guide will teach you about each of the animals' distinct traits. The majority of the animals you'll find at this park are endangered species, so being able to observe them up close is truly a special treat. Whether you're feeding a peccary, strolling through a real crocodile den or playing with an affectionate spider monkey, this 150-acre nature reserve will not be forgotten by you or your kids.
It's relatively common to feel down in the dumps right after the holiday season. In fact, the first couple months of a new year are notoriously one of the most depressing times of year, as the excitement comes to an end & people head back to school, work & other obligations. Besides Valentine's Day, there is no major holiday in sight for a while – & even that occasion can prove to be a bummer for people who are single. Frigid temperatures & shorter days definitely don't help, either. It's no wonder so many people begin to consider planning a luxury vacation to get away from it all, relax & soak up some much-needed sun. Of course, a getaway to an exotic locale can help you to de-stress, but there's a way to reap even more benefits from your trip. If you really want a fulfilling vacation that gives you a fresh perspective on life, you might consider volunteering through Beach Bum CARES.
A recent study published in BMC Public Health revealed a strong link between volunteering & well-being. In fact, volunteers had a 22 percent lower mortality rate than non-volunteers. Beyond that, those who gave back also reported higher levels of happiness & self-esteem. So why the association? It could be because when you help those less fortunate, it makes you realize how much of an impact you can have on the lives of others. In other words, spreading joy to other people means you inevitably feel happier yourself.
So whether you're jetting off to the Bahamas, Mexico or Antigua, it might make sense to squeeze in some time with Beach Bum CARES between your sunbathing & snorkeling. The program targets impoverished areas & provides children with the materials they need to pursue their educational & career-related goals. The result? The overall economy of those communities can continue to grow.