You Can Afford a Luxury Villa Vacation!

In the not too distant past, luxury accommodation in exotic locations was something that only the very rich could enjoy. Air travel to far-away resorts was absurdly expensive, and cruises were exclusive to the wealthy. Nowadays, we have cheap air travel and budget cruises to thank for the ability to travel to truly exotic and exciting places, and there is so much choice that the only problem may be deciding just where to go. If you want a holiday that combines sun, sea and sand plus culture, you could do no better than to try Puerto Vallarta, a very special resort in Mexico.

Located on the Bay of Banderas, a very beautiful stretch of the Pacific Coast, this amazing city has become one the very best vacation locations in Mexico, and is home to magnificent beaches and many other attractions, and with excellent accommodation options too. We recommend you have a close look at the many vacation rentals in Puerto Vallarta, as there are many excellent villas, sleeping a wide variety of numbers, in some of the most prestigious spots along the bay.

Luxury villas can be either self-catering or part-catered – the latter usually with two meals served a day – and they come with a daily housekeeping service. The main advantage is that you get absolute privacy, and the convenience of not having the restrictions of a hotel, so you can come and go as you please. It’s an excellent idea for a family holiday, or indeed a romantic break for two, and the city welcomes tourists in a friendly and open fashion. You will find your villa is within easy walking distance of the beach and the main amenities of the city, so you have that added convenience too.

Puerto Vallarta Beaches

Few places in the world have better beaches than Puerto Vallarta, and the sheer choice is amazing. There are secluded beaches that offer a private bathing experience – Playa Las Caletas, for example, is a stunning beach that was once the private hideaway of the film director John Huston, who fell in love with the place when filming, and is now a nature reserve – while others are bigger and wider expanses of soft sand beach, such as the wonderful Playa Las Animas, which – as with many other beaches – also features a series of excellent restaurants.

The beaches are often lined with palm trees, so you get the advantage of shade when things get too hot, and you can take a dip in the wonderful, warm and clear blue waters of the bay whenever you wish. In fact, the bay is perfect for snorkelling, and the amazing rock formations that rise out of the water, and any one of many reefs close to the shore, provide the ideal habitat for a wide variety of exotic and very beautiful sea creatures that are unique to the region.

You may also want to take a boat trip and enjoy some sea fishing – the local cuisine, as we shall see, is based around the stunning fish that are caught here – or in the right season you can watch whales in the bay, which is an experience that you will never forget. But, there is more to Puerto Vallarta than the beach, and the city itself has plenty to offer.

Culture of Food

You cannot visit Mexico without trying the local food – not to mention enjoying a tequila in one of the fine bars – and Puerto Vallarta has its own specialities. Check out the excellent restaurants along the Malecon, the famous boardwalk along the sea front where you can enjoy wonderful sculptures and views of the bay – or perhaps head to the charming Old Town, and don’t leave without trying the local favourite, grilled red snapper in a delicious sauce with garlic and spices. Another favourite is raw fish of several varieties, plus scallops and shrimp, served in lime juice, which is utterly delicious too.

Food and culture go hand in hand in Puerto Vallarta, so you should also try the many other local dishes that make up many a menu. If you choose a self-catering villa, you can also shop at the bustling local markets, where you will find wonderful fresh fish, fruit and vegetables that you can cook on your outdoor equipment back at the villa. You can also visit local museums and galleries, where you can learn more about the local history of the region.

If you travel beyond the city, you can find stunning waterfalls, rivers and the nearby forests, and there are many special places to visit that you will certainly enjoy. This is a slice of Mexico that is quote spectacular and tranquil at the same time, so make the most of your time here.

Choosing a Villa

You will find the greatest choice of rental accommodation in and around Puerto Vallarta, so whether you are looking for a small villa suitable for a couple or a bigger one suitable for a large family – or indeed two families – there is something for you and your available budget. You will also enjoy the finest locations in the business, with a short walk to the beach and very fine views, and the facilities will be very much to your satisfaction.

Have a closer look at the many available villas – you will see that the rental rates are very reasonable – and be sure to book a Puerto Vallarta holiday that you, your partner and your family will never forget.

Best Ways to Discover New Fashion

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Every fashionista wants to keep their game on point and always forward. However, how exactly do you find next season and abstract pieces? If you’re interested to know, this is the article for you.

The first place to start is with sample sales. These are where designers visions which aren’t well received are sent for sale. And while they might not appear on the rack at the official store, they are certainly made by the brand and are, in fact, a product of their image.

Discounts sites like the Groupon Coupons page for Express are a great way to come across up and coming designers who may not be local enough to you to have a visible presence. By utilizing coupons sites, more and more smaller houses and becoming accessible to those who are looking.

If you enjoy socializing, then this is the tip for you – do more of it! Attend as many fashion events as you can and speak with as many people as possible. Networking like this is a great way to find out the latest scoops on which styles are coming into fashion and even where to get a glimpse of what’s to come. This can help the fashion-minded person prepare their wardrobe and accessories in anticipation.

When planning your social events, don’t allocate all of your time to established designers. Look for design competitions, and college runway shows where you can find up and coming designers who will be good to know as they are taken into production after they complete their studies or win a competition for the same.

If you prefer physical shopping, then a trip to the suburbs is what’s in order. New designers will still be starting small and can’t afford the prices to rent stores in cosmopolitan areas. If you have exhausted all of your local stores, it might be time to start broadening your search.

Nobody said that staying ahead of the fashion game was easy, but with some cunning tips and a sharp mind, it’s something you can accomplish while looking good doing it!

Top 5 places to stargaze in the world

Here is a lost of 5 of the best places to stargaze across the world.

Connemara, Ireland

This is an absolute gem of a place for people to go star watching as the skys are clear from urban light. In the village there is a lot of accommodation for stargazers as well as some nice little country pubs to visit in the evening before you stargaze.

Wiruna, New South Wales, Australia

This area holds a party each year called the south pacific star party where stargazers from the across the world come and celebrate.  If you are travelling in Australia and are into stargazing, we would definitely recommend you give this area a try.

Scotland

Scotland has one of the darkest skies in Europe and you can even see the northern lights from here if the weather conditions are correct. If you head to Edinburgh you can visit the Royal Observatory which provides yours and astronomy evenings. There are many “dark sky” areas all over the country.

 

 

Don’t forget to pack essentials like your travel telescope that will fit nicely into your suitcase. View a list of the best ones here.

Medical Tourism – 5 Reasons Why it is Worth Considering to Travel Abroad for IVF

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Medical Tourism

For several years a new branch of the economy is developing fast and it includes is tourism linked with treatment. Medical tourism is defined as travel aimed at therapy, rehabilitation and recreation. It involves a trip outside of your region or country to stay in the clinic to improve your health. Patients today are increasingly mobile and with great ease they travel between countries, selecting the best and most specialized clinic and doctors. Trips for therapeutic purposes are gaining in popularity. There appears a steadily growing number of facilities that advertise their services abroad and specialized portals. Medical tourism is a huge, rapidly growing market. Especially in terms of infertility treatment the country of residence does not determine the country of treatment. So why do patients choose foreign clinics and travel to them? There are many reasons for reproductive tourism including In Vitro Fertilization abroad and here are some of them.

Availability

Due to domestic legal regulations or simply traditions and common beliefs some methods of infertility treatment may be impossible to undergo in some countries. There are restrictions in terms of who can receive the treatment, what scope of therapy is permitted. At the same time in other countries the variety of procedures may be widely available for a broad spectrum of patients. Also other countries might be able to present patients with better offer when it comes to availability of cells used for procedure or additional services, tests and medical procedures. Patients also choose places with short waiting time for treatment and instant accessibility of consultations and procedures.

Medical standards and efficacy

People decide to travel for top-quality healthcare services and best care possible. If they feel. their home country does not offer sufficient standard they can easily travel elsewhere. Especially when it comes to fertility tourism patients tend to choose clinics that are most trustworthy, well-reputed and of best standard. Facilities with highly qualified medical staff, cutting-edge equipment and procedures and well adjustment to foreign patient’s needs.

With high quality of procedure there comes high efficacy. IVF success relies on a well experienced lab team and advanced clinic. People usually choose clinics of both top-quality and documented high success rate of IVF treatment.

Price for quality

One of the most important factors is the price: treatments centres in some countries may be 40-80% cheaper as their standard is very high. For example Poland offers foreign patients qualified medical personnel, well-equipped offices and very competitive prices – treatment in the number one facility INVICTA Fertility Clinic is few times cheaper than in Western centres. Standard IVF program in INVICTA that includes eggs collection, embryo transfer and medical consultations costs 1625 EUR. Meanwhile treatment in a British clinic reaches 3500-4000 GBP which means around 4 to 4,6 thousand Euro for the same scope of procedure. Even including the costs of travel and accommodation it may still be cheaper to visit Poland instead of paying three times as much for single cycle.

Vacation

Last but not least people wish to spend nice leisure time in good localisation as they undergo treatment. Both beautiful cities as exotic landscapes are what attracts tourists among which there are also medical tourists.

Saved by an App

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A recent trip across the pond could have ended in disaster were it not for the free apps I used to undo the calamity of my poor planning.  For example, I was advised to get a sim card for a local number once I got to my host country, but I was not told – or didn’t understand what it meant – that your phone must be ‘unlocked’ in order for it to work.  So imagine my surprise when I paid good euros for a card that I couldn’t use.  I worked around that by using my Starbucks app to locate the nearest store, and used their free wifi to get in touch with a friend who helped me remedy the situation.

I made a smart move, however by using the Groupon app to make purchases from Vista Print before I left home.  I got great deals on business cards and had phrases like “take me to Hotel Du Jour” printed up in different languages according to the country I was in and where I was staying.  They made great ice breakers, and more than once helped me get back on track when I’d been dropped off in the wrong location by an over-zealous taxi driver.

Evernote is so useful I don’t know how I lived without it.  I use it when I’m travelling to save notes, contact info, and hastily scribbled info so that I have it at my fingertips when I arrive at my destination.  I love that I can add notes, images and keep them all neatly in one place.  The search feature is really useful when you’re not sure which file you saved a phrase or idea in.  It will highlight all files that contain that tip, so you don’t have to open and close files searching in vain.

Another problem I ran into was dealing with currency exchange rates.  There are tons of apps available for that, but I’ve found XE to be the one I turn to when I’m dealing with a questionable situation and don’t want to get scammed.  It will tell you if the rate you are being offered is the best so that you can complete the transaction, or make a polite get away.

Investing in my Kindle app has been the best money I’ve ever spent in that category.  Well, it’s free, but still, to me, on a long flight, it’s worth a million bucks.  I have lots of books stored on it and can easily pick up where I left off between flights, or when I need something to help me go “nite-nite” in a strange land.

What Not to Miss in Doha

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Doha, the sparkling pearl of the Persian Gulf is a hotbed of wealth, grandeur and deep routed Qatari traditions. Ten years ago, Lonely Planet described Doha as one of the most boring cities on earth. I am sure the Sheik of Qatar and his aids care little about Lonely Planet writer’s opinions on their capital.

Nevertheless, over the past decade positive changes have been made, including a boost in the rejuvenation of historic sites and exciting new projects, including the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which have rapidly projected Doha onto the world stage. This was cemented when it was officially recognised as one of the New7Wonders cities in 2015.

With direct flights from an increasing number of UK cities and numerous Qatar Airways promo codes floating around there has never been a better or cheaper time to head to Doha, so let’s take a look at some of the best attractions in the area.

Museum of Islamic Art

Designed by IM Pei who also designed the Louvre in Paris, the Museum of Islamic Art is a must see when in Doha. Perched on its very own manmade island, the museum boasts the largest collection of Islamic art in the world with its pieces originating from 3 different continents.

If you are not incredibly interested in art, the building itself, complete with its own virtual moat, is enough to warrant a visit. Perched like a modern fortress on the edge of the bay with skyline of Doha twinkling in the behind it, this building is a microcosm for modern Doha; grand, modern and strikingly impressive.

For art enthusiasts, the 1st and 2nd floors are home to the museum’s permanent collection of delicate textiles, exquisite ceramics and ornate jewellery. There are informative 40 minute free tours in both English and Arabic on Thursdays and Saturdays and an impressive café and outside seating area if you would like a break.

When visiting the museum, like most attractions in Qatar, make sure you dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees to ensure you get in.

Souq Waqif

When you think of a middle eastern market, images of exotic jewels, colourful spices and beautiful rugs spring to mind. It’s hard to find traditional souks nowadays in the ultra-modern cities of the middle east.

However, after a fire in 2003 destroyed the site of its original souk, Doha decided to completely refurbish the market to resemble its historic glory days in the early twentieth century. Even the onsite police men wear old fashioned uniforms from the 1940’s. Keep your eyes peeled for the traditional porters, who cart around shoppers purchases in wheel barrows, a tradition which has been around for centuries.

An Aladdin’s cave of marvels you could spend hours wondering the narrow alleyways of the Souq Waqif. Bursting with Arabian spices, perfumes and traditional dress this is the souk offers a glimpse into Qatari life prior to the oil boom and all the modern luxuries it brought with it.

Falcon Souq

Considered more than just a sport, falconry is firmly cemented as part of the national identity of the vast majority of Qataris. Dating back over 5000 years ago, the sport which involves the hunting of quarry by trained falcons, may seem rather brutal. Despite this, it is something that is so entrenched in Qatari culture it would be wrong to completely ignore the sport while you are there.

Such is the importance of Falcons in middle eastern culture that most of the airlines operating in the area, including Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad, allow falcons to travel in the cabin with their owners. They even have a hospital dedicated solely to caring for sick and injured falcons.

The Falcon souk is a great way to see the magnificent birds of prey. Located next to the Souq waqif, people trail the souk looking for the perfect bird. The best time to go is Thursday evenings when the most amount of activity occurs. Any budding vets or animal enthusiasts can find the falcon hospital located next to the souk.

Make sure you stay in a centrally located hotel or serviced apartment in Doha to ensure quick and easy travel around the city without the hassle of having to wait on taxis to get everywhere.

The Future Is Now – Sport Simulators

As advancements in computer processing speeds and efficiency continue to climb, programmers and engineers have had no trouble finding new and creative applications for their newfound capabilities. Video games have become more immersive and realistic than ever, but some innovators have decided to take things a few steps further. Virtual reality (VR for short) was once a cumbersome, blocky, and overall un-impressive experience that saw limited success in the late ’90s. There was very little “reality” in the earlier versions of virtual reality; however, advanced computing and graphical processing have completely changed the landscape of the industry.

Modern systems have found value beyond the entertainment arena. VR is now widely used in simulators for aeronautics, law enforcement, and Olympic athletic training. Advanced simulators employ sensors, large format screens, and realistic replica interfaces to produce ultra realistic environments. Simulators such as these are priceless assets allowing for repeated training in controlled situations, helping the user to hone their skills in the relative safety and comfort of a simulator.

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Sport simulators have become quite popular, both for entertainment as well as for serious athletic preparation. There are simulation tools for nearly every non-contact sport and even a few for contact sports. At The ROX: The Olympic Experience at the Richmond Olympic Oval, patrons are given the opportunity to bobsleigh, kayak, racecar, ski-jump, or sit-ski an actual Olympic course through VR. The ability of modern sport simulators to bring challenges and experiences from around the world into a single location has an impact that is game changing.

It is now also common to find virtual golf pubs offering golfers the opportunity to play a full round of golf within the walls of a small restaurant or bar. Virtual Reality can provide young people who would normally have little or no access to a given sport the opportunity to experience it firsthand; aspiring athletes an affordable resource to continue pursuing their passions; and performing artists or extreme athletes the opportunity to develop and innovate new movements and tricks with a lower level of risk for injury. The opportunities for VR games and programs are immense. If you’re planning a vacation in or near Richmond, B.C., take a look online at the vast number of immersive activities available for you and your family. Visit http://therox.ca if you would like to try out these incredible simulations yourself at the world’s only interactive attraction endorsed by the International Olympic Committee.

The same appeal that allows competitive athletes to pursue their dreams is also an attractive dynamic for casual thrill seekers. How many people would otherwise have the opportunity to ski the alps or run with the bulls? Sports simulators grant this opportunity to people from any background in any part of the world. This type of unique experience also makes sports and other simulators a great choice for team building events and corporate workshops, allowing participants to face fears and compete with one another in a friendly, safe environment. It is an immersion experience that will not soon be forgotten by anyone. If you’re planning a trip to B.C., where else can you find the opportunity to kayak, sit-ski, and bobsleigh, all in one afternoon?

When reflecting on the advancements in VR technology and the progression of modern sports and other simulators, it seems amazing the amount of progress that has been made in the last 20 years. As developers continue to innovate this technology, it will serve to offer all of us better and more realistic experiences, allowing participants to live their lives to the fullest. For some, it just may motivate and inspire them to make their “virtual reality” experience a “reality”. If you’re interested in an Olympic-themed day of interactive activities and simulations, consider a visit to The ROX.

Holiday in Spain? 10 reasons why you should book a holiday villa rather than a hotel

If you’re considering booking a holiday in Spain for you and your partner, friends or family, you’re truly spoilt for choice. Head to the Spanish Costas for endless sun, sea and sandy beaches all along the Mediterranean Sea and take advantage of a developed tourist industry that caters for every taste and preference.

Package holidays are the traditional way for us Brits to travel to southern Spain, and there are good reasons why this has become so popular over the decades. It’s easy – the holiday company sorts everything out for you. From the moment you step on to the plane, it’s all organised: flights, transfers, hotel rooms, meals, amenities, entertainment. Any problems and a holiday rep is on hand to help. For those holidaymakers who like structure and routine, who want no responsibility or decision making, preferring just to turn up and relax, it’s perfect.

However, there are limitations, and some of them may be deal breakers:

  • Resorts can be noisy and impersonal. They cater to the mass market, with a programme to match. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach that may not be what you’re looking for.
  • Hotels can be crowded places, especially in high season. How relaxing is it to have to queue up for breakfast or have dinner at the same time as all the other hotel guests?
  • Hotel rooms can be small. Imagine a family of four spending a 2-week holiday in a cramped hotel room with en-suite shower and tiny balcony.

Why don’t you consider the alternative? A Spanish villa holiday is a cost-effective option that provides you with all the flexibility that a hotel based package holiday simply can’t offer. No more scrambling around for sun loungers or sharing pools with other holiday makers – with a self-catering holiday villa you get all the peace, quiet and relaxation to do exactly as you please.

Here are our top 10 reasons why renting a Spanish holiday villa may give you the best holiday you could wish for.

  1. A holiday villa will give you much more space than a hotel room. Depending on the size of the villa, there will be several bedrooms, separate private bathrooms, large dining and reception areas, your own fully equipped kitchen, an outside terrace (usually with a private pool) and a garden.
  2. You have exclusive use of all the facilities: your own private pool, no noisy neighbours, no set routines, no sharing with other holidaymakers, no compromises or disturbances. You’re free to do whatever and whenever you like in the privacy of your home from home.
  3. A holiday villa provides the perfect balance needed for a relaxing holiday in the sun: space to share and space to be yourself. Get away from the tourist scene and discover the local area on your own terms, or simply relax in peaceful tranquillity. The choice is yours.
  4. Customise your holiday accommodation to your needs and for your convenience. Air conditioning, private swimming pools, satellite TV and a dishwasher may come as standard, but why not ask for a villa with breathtaking views and full internet access? Private gym? Housekeeping services?
  5. A holiday villa is the ideal choice for families, friends and any group of people who want to spend some time together. Planning a family reunion, a wedding celebration or a yoga retreat? Renting a luxury Spanish villa may be the most suitable, practical and relaxing holiday environment for you and your group.
  6. Holidaying with young children can be challenging at the best of times. A Spanish villa rental is a family friendly option, with plenty of safe space to play while the parents relax nearby. Most villas can be fitted with cots and highchairs, stair gates, inflatable pool toys and anything else you may need.
  7. Self-catering in a fully equipped modern kitchen will give you the opportunity to sample local delicacies bought at markets, rustle up a simple lunch for the kids, or stick to your preferred dietary regime without the need to compromise. If you don’t fancy cooking, take your pick of local restaurants and dine out in style.
  8. Holiday villas are rented on a weekly basis. Considering the space and amenities you’ll be getting, as well as the lower running expenses and overheads compared with hotel accommodation, they offer exceptional value for money.
  9. Add to that the price saving you will achieve by cooking for yourself and your group rather than eating out every mealtime, and you could save yourself a pretty penny there too.
  10. Renting a holiday villa in Spain means you have the freedom to shop around for the best deals for the most suitable flights, car hire and travel insurance. The growing popularity of low cost airlines has made flights to many holiday destinations cheaper than ever, making self-catering villa holiday in Spain a competitive alternative to traditional package holidays.

Written by Mike James, an independent content writer working with Marbella’s longest running real estate agent Panorama.es