Travel News

Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico News

Two New AAA Five Diamond Hotels in Mexico

AAA recently announced its Five Diamond list of top-tier properties. This year sees the addition of six new hotels, two of which are in Mexico.

Hotel Xcaret México, which opened in December 2017 in Playa del Carmen, is a new listing this year. The all-inclusive resort has 900 suites, the most over-the-top of which is the master suite ocean front; it’s a 24,760-square-foot space with ocean views, direct pool access, and amenities ranging from complimentary butler service, massages and body wrap treatments, to access to a private rooftop pool.

For dining, the resort has 10 restaurants and 8 bars. The rates at Hotel Xcaret also grant access to Grupo Xcaret’s five eco-friendly theme parks. There, guests can enjoy nature tours, water rides, biking and walking trails, live shows, and adventurous excursions such as zip lining, underground river rafting, and high-speed water slides. 

UNICO 20°N 87°W Hotel Riviera Maya in Akumal upgraded this year from a Four Diamond property to a Five Diamond one. A recent 30Under30 pick for one of the top destination wedding and honeymoon resorts in the country, it draws a younger, hipper crowd, with events like mixology classes and live painting demonstrations.

All spa treatments and nine beauty salon treatments are included in the resort’s all-inclusive rate for a 25 percent service fee. The property’s local host service can also arrange one of 11 tours to the surrounding area or unlimited golf at two nearby golf courses.

Five Diamond is AAA’s highest hotel designation, representing less than one percent of the nearly 60,000 Diamond-rated properties across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. To earn the rating, hotels must pass an evaluation that includes unannounced, in-person inspections, anonymous overnight stays for hotels, and a review by a panel of experts. All AAA Diamond Program hotels and restaurants are re-evaluated annually.

Cruise News

US Citizens “Should not Travel by Cruise Ship” Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The US Department of State on March 8 advised US citizens against traveling by cruise ship as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to spread across the world.

“US citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Department wrote in its warning.

“Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships,” the CDC wrote.

The CDC reports those with underlying health issues and older travelers should avoid cruise ships altogether, along with long airplane trips and crowded places.

As of March 9, there were more than 113,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and close to 4,000 deaths. More than 62,000 people, however, have recovered.

“Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 is occurring and countries are reporting both travel-related cases and community spread of the disease,” the CDC wrote. “In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking,” the State Department wrote.

International News

All St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Ireland Canceled

The Irish Government has canceled all St. Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland amid growing concerns over a coronavirus outbreak.

Ireland’s special Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 decided “the next phase of Ireland’s response to the global and national public health emergency arising from Covid-19.”

In a statement issued on March 9, the committee said, “Due to the unique nature and scale of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities, in terms of size, the mass gathering of local and international travelers, and the continued progression of community transmission in some European countries, along with the emergence of a small number of cases of local transmission in Ireland, the government has decided that St. Patrick’s Day parades, including the Dublin parade, will not proceed.”

The majority of the cases in Ireland are traced back to northern Italy, which has become the worst-hit nation after China regarding the amount of confirmed cases.

Flybe Ceases Operations

UK-based Flybe announced that effective March 5, 2020, they ceased operations and trading. Flybe was a low-cost carrier that also held the distinction of being Europe’s largest regional carrier.

Founded in 1979, the airline flew to more than 100 destinations in about a dozen European countries. It provided a reliable and quick transportation option between major European and British cities at low fares.

Words of the Wise and Well-traveled

“Forethought spares afterthought”–Amelia Barr

Deal of the Week

England’s Lake District: Inn to Inn

Walk through the heart of the Lake District, with lodging along the way at some of the Lake District’s most delightful country hotels and inns. Experience ever-changing spectacular views of fields, moors, woodlands. and mountains.

Tour highlights:

  • Scenic guided hikes with talks by Lakeland experts
  • A cruise across Coniston Water
  • A visit to Brantwood—home of John Ruskin
  • Views of Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop Farm
  • The beauty of Tarn Hows, with its thick conifers and clear lake
  • Ancient Roman ruins
  • The World Owl Center, the largest in existence
  • Splendid views of Grasmere, which inspired Wordsworth

Each day, you will be guided on a robust walk across vales and hills. You will walk four to nine miles per day with ascents of 600 to 1400 feet (you may also opt for only a half day of hiking). Sightseeing by minibus rounds out an appreciation of Lake District history and culture.

2020 departures: May 9-16; June 13-20; August 22-29. Price: US$3,950 per person based on double occupancy; US$425 single supplement.

Your trip price includes the following: 

  • Six scenic guided hikes
  • Seven nights lodging in charming country inns and hotels
  • Double-occupancy room with private bath
  • Seven sumptuous breakfasts and seven dinners
  • Seven packed or pub lunches
  • Lake steamer cruise
  • Sightseeing visits and admission fees
  • Talks by Lakeland experts
  • Luggage transported between inns

Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She custom designs journeys that are tailored to suit your interests, abilities, and budget. Please contact Newell for further information on Travel News topics and around-the-world travel; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores, Car. a Dolores Hidalgo. View the latest travel specials on the website

Sources: Travel Agent Central, USA Today, Irish Central, Ramblers