Top 5 Best Luxury Beach Hotels In Punta Mita

Continuing our series of top 5 best beaches and luxury hotels around the world, in this article I pick the top 5 best luxury beach hotels & resorts in Punta Mita.

Direct flights from New York take 6 hours to get to Puerto Vallarta. Thomson Airways fly direct to Puerto Vallerta from the UK with a flight time of around 15 hours. You can also fly indirectly with KLM, Aeromexico, Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and Air France, British Airways, Aer Lingus, US Airways and Air Canada.

1. St. Regis Punta Mita Resort

For a little taste of paradise, and being totally spoilt while you’re there, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort in Mexico, pictured above, more than delivers.

Tucked away on one of the world’s most alluring beaches, this five-star luxury resort is surrounded by stunning tropical landscaped grounds that also house two Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses and tennis courts. There is also the luxe Remède Spa and a choice of restaurants. There are three pools, all are infinity pools and offer something quite unique; be it a beach-side location, a family-friendly approach or the exact opposite – an adults-only pool; take your pick. There’s even variety in the beaches too! A quiet adults-only area offers some peace and quiet or for adrenaline overload why not try the main beach and partake in some water-sports.

There are 120 rooms, suites and villas to choose from. All offer either ocean or garden views, a private terrace with an outdoor shower and all the usual amenities including a spacious bathroom, flat screen TV, WI-FI, minibar, robe and slippers, etc. The Luxury One and Two-Bedroom Villas get our vote as they are directly on the beach and include a private pool and jacuzzi as well as a kitchen. Not only is the beach location enviable, but the private pool has to be the perfect place to unwind at the end of the day.

2. Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita

As regular readers will know, we are also big fans of Four Seasons resorts at Luxury Travel Diary. This resort, in the Riviera Nayarit about 45 minutes north of Puerta Vallarta, will make you smile.

With two Jack Nicklaus golf courses, a house yacht, a substantial kids’ club, multiple beaches, beautiful rooms with a seaside-inspired decor and an expansive spa, this Four Seasons has everything you could wish for.

We like the golf carts that ferry guests around the sprawling property and the Shack Bar, which is really a wooden shack on Las Cuevas Beach. It feels a locals spot to fall in love with during a stroll on a beach and is the perfect place for a sunset margarita.

My favourite Four Seasons hotel in the world is Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel which I visited this summer and liked so much that I will return next summer. The Four Seasons Hampshire is one of my favourite country house hotels in England and the Four Seasons London Park Lane makes the perfect city break as does the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg. In Hawaii its hard not to love the Four Seasons Wailea on Maui and the Four Seasons Manele Bay on Lanai.

3. W De Punta Mita

The new W Punta de Mita W Hotels, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is perched on the ocean in the heart of one of Mexico’s most gorgeous beaches. The hotel is part of the multi-use oceanfront development, Los Veneros, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

W Punta de Mita brings a playfully stylish addition to this Mexican hot spot. 119 stylishly designed guest villas, include one 4,460ft2 Extreme Wow Suite, inspired by the Mexican flag. All villas and suites feature artisanal Mexican tiled floors and headboards fashioned from either surfboards or punctured tin, replicating the design found in local churches. A cluster of casitas called Ocean Escape Villas resemble a pre-Hispanic fishing village of the past. Meanwhile, Jungle Escape Villas feature private balconies allowing for intimate views of the surrounding natural beauty, including the bright red trunks of the papelillo trees and hanging vines of the forest.

4. Hotel Cinco

On the Pacific coast of central Mexico, directly on the white sand beach, is Hotel Cinco. In the town of Punta Mita, this hotel offers guests luxury accommodations with a relaxing beach atmosphere. Rooms are ultra modern, in an open loft-type style. Vibrant colours contrast with dark woods and marble floors. This is a place to laze on your balcony and watch the sun rise over the Pacific.

5. The Royal Suites Punta Mita by Palladium

The Royal Suites Punta Mita by Palladium is located an hour northwest of Puerto Vallarta. These suites occupy a lush patch of manicured jungle overlooking a private white sand beach a few miles inside the point at Punta Mita. This adults-only hideaway offers a memorable vacation spot within a larger, busy, all-inclusive resort. The 100 Royal Suites section has its own buildings, lobby, outdoor pool with grass palapas for shade, and beach, but everything else is shared with the Palladium and its 400 rooms. The Royal Suites Punta Mita by Palladium offers soaking tubs on balconies overlooking the ocean and a peaceful beach getaway.

You may also be interested in my top 10 white sand beaches in the world, my best honeymoon style overwater villas in the Caribbean, my 5 best luxury resorts in the Caribbean and my out of the ordinary Caribbean article.

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel (So You Don’t Get Kicked Off Your Flight!)

Proof Of Onward Travel Tips

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel

Travel Tips

Planning to travel internationally on a one-way ticket? You might have a problem. Some airlines and countries require proof of onward travel. Here’s how you can get it.

“Before you can board this flight, I need to see your proof of onward travel.” What?! But I’m traveling on a one-way ticket!

I remember the first time it happened to me. I was checking in at Boston’s Logan Airport for an international flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

Excited to visit Southeast Asia for the first time, and planning to spend a few months living in Chiang Mai as a digital nomad. I was flying one-way because, you know, I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay.

One month? Three? Would I even go back to the United States? Maybe I’ll travel to a different country after Thailand… overland. I simply hadn’t planned that far ahead yet.

However due to my American privilege, and my inexperience with international travel, it never once crossed my mind that this would be a problem.

Can’t I just buy another ticket when I’m ready to leave? Nope.

Proof Of Onward Travel Tips

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel

What Is Proof Of Onward Travel?

Basically, some countries want to make sure you aren’t attempting to move there on a tourist visa and never leave. It happens all the time here in the United States, and other countries too.

They are trying to prevent illegal immigration.

Government officials need to see proof that you plan on flying out, respecting the rules of their tourist visa. They want proof of onward travel to another destination.

So while you can technically travel on a one-way ticket, they also need some kind of official return ticket confirmation showing that you are leaving the country eventually.

They won’t necessarily care where that ticket goes, just as long as it’s out of their country.

Ticket Confirmation

Example Ticket Confirmation from FlyOnward.com

Airline Requirements

Many countries actually pass this responsibility on to airlines, meaning that it’s the airline check-in desk who will ask to see proof of your onward travel before they let you board the flight.

Because if they don’t check, and allow you on the flight with a one-way ticket, but immigration officials refuse to let you in, the airline will be responsible for the costs of flying (deporting?) you back to your home country, along with possible fines.

Some airlines are very strict about the proof of onward travel rule.

If you can’t provide proof, you won’t be allowed to board your flight. Or they’ll ask you to buy a return ticket from them right then and there — which can often cost hundreds of dollars.

Onward Travel Rules Suck!

I feel your pain. Why can’t they just make it easy and allow me travel on a one-way ticket, trusting me when I tell them I plan to leave in two months?

Some of us prefer to travel spontaneously, without plans!

Most long-term travelers are on a tight budget, trying to make their money last as long as possible. Or they aren’t exactly sure which country they want to visit next. Or they want to travel overland by bus.

Buying round trip tickets just isn’t in the cards for everyone.

Don’t take it personally though. These are their rules, and we have to respect them. We have the same laws for foreigners attempting to visit our country.

Luckily there are a few easy (and legal) ways to get around this proof-of-onward-travel requirement, so you can travel on a one-way ticket, and not be forced to pre-plan your entire trip down to the last detail.

Proof Of Onward Travel

Rent A Ticket Confirmation!

How To Get Proof Of Onward Travel

If you think you may need proof of onward travel during your adventure, there are a few legal ways to get around the rules without having to buy round trip tickets everywhere you go.

Rent A Return Ticket

My favorite option these days is to use the online service FlyOnward.com. For about $10, this company will go ahead and purchase a refundable airline ticket in your name, on their dime.

The ticket will then be automatically canceled after 24 or 48 hours.

While it’s active, you’ll be able to view a REAL flight reservation under your name, and show it to the airline check-in agent or immigration officer, “proving” your onward travel. Simple, fast, and cheap.

You can see an example of what the confirmation looks like here.

Buy A Super Cheap Ticket

Extreme budget airlines around the world can have some amazing flight deals. While the airline itself might not be the best, if you don’t plan on actually using the ticket, who cares!

Find the cheapest one-way ticket to a major city in the country next door, and eat the cost. Maybe $50 or $100.

This works best in cheaper areas of the world, like Asia or Latin America. Some examples of budget airlines include EasyJet, AirAsia, Volaris, etc. Click here for a full list.

Buy A Refundable Ticket

If you don’t mind waiting (sometimes months) to receive your refund, then buying a fully refundable, second one-way ticket is possible too.

To make it work, you’ll need to buy that second ticket before you leave for your destination.

Once you’ve entered the country, cancel your exit ticket, and wait for the refund. Just make sure to read the fine print — because some airlines charge cancelation fees, or only refund tickets using flight vouchers instead of cash.

Use Your Airline Miles

If you are a travel-hacking whiz and have accumulated a ton of points or miles on your travel rewards credit cards, you can use those points to book a one-way return flight and cancel it later.

Most of the time you’ll find that points are refunded right away, making it a no-brainer.

Forge A Ticket Confirmation

First of all, I do not recommend this method. If you get caught, it could end up badly. Especially if you try to show a fake piece of paper to actual immigration officials rather than airline employees.

Lying to immigration officials is illegal, and could land you in jail.

But if you’re too cheap to rent a real ticket for $10, you can use ReturnFlights.net to create a fake onward travel confirmation. Remember, use this option at your own risk!

Which Countries Require Proof?

Many countries technically require proof of onward travel, however they don’t always enforce the rule. To reduce your chances of them asking, it’s wise to avoid dressing like a bum/hippie with no money.

Business casual works best at airports if you want to avoid questions.

A few countries definitely require documented proof of onward travel. They include New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Peru, and the Philippines.

However depending on the airline you use, you might also get asked for proof before visiting countries like Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama. Do your own research to be sure.

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard!

Even though this rule might seem ridiculous, if you are a long-term traveler who prefers to travel on one-way tickets, you will eventually get asked for proof of onward travel.

I’ve probably been asked at least 10 times over the past few years.

Luckily there are legal loopholes around it. You just need to remember to get everything sorted in advance, before you find yourself stuck arguing with the airline check-in agent, about to miss your flight. ★

Tips for how to provide proof of onward travel when flying on a one-way ticket.
Tips for how to provide proof of onward travel when flying on a one-way ticket.

READ NEXT: How To Find Cheap Flights

Have any questions about proof of onward travel? Have you ever been asked? Drop me a message in the comments below!

The Top 5 Best Luxury Resorts In The Caribbean

Continuing our series of the best beaches and luxury hotels around the world, I have picked the top 5 best luxury hotels in the Caribbean.

1. Amanyara, Turks & Caicos

Set on the beautiful island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Amanyara (pictured above) is a secluded haven embracing the best elements of the Caribbean. It is no secret that Aman Resorts is one of my favourite luxury hotel brands and Amanyara is certainly one of the best luxury hotels in the world. You can also read my review of terribly romantic Aman Canal Grande Venice.

You will find some of the best beaches in the world on Turks and Caicos Islands and Amanyara resort is located along the pristine reefs of Northwest Point Marine National Park, acclaimed for some of the world’s best wall and reef diving. As you would expect from an Aman hotel, Amanyara feels ultra exclusive and offers a slick escape of silvery-topped pavilions, chic teak terraces, shaded loungers, centred on a huge infinity pool designed using volcanic rock with a conical bar. The overall feel is Asia in the Caribbean with a Zen and peaceful feel, many miles away from the jolly and colourful resorts on islands like Jamaica.

The pool is a great feature of this luxury hotel. Lined with timber decking, Amanyara’s infinity pool is a 50m pool that sparkles by day and becomes a star-speckled mirror by night. With views of the Atlantic (February to April, you can spot migrating humpback whales), this pool, surrounded by loungers and the perfect place to enjoy the sunset

Beyond this, the Amanyara private beach is a half-mile-long stretch of powdery soft white sands sprinkled with oversized loungers. To the South you will find rocky inlets and sandy coves

2. Amanera, Dominican Republic

Also an Aman resort but this time in the Dominican Republic, what makes Amanera different is the fact that it offers the first golf-integrated Aman with the highest number of oceanside holes in the Western hemisphere. Amanera will also offer extensive dining, spa and recreational facilities, as well as a beautiful beach and that magical Aman touch that makes these hotels so exceptional.

Amanera is centred around the essence of Aman: the sense of peace that the brand was founded upon (Aman is the Sanskrit word for ‘peace’), the harmony that each resort has with its location, the feeling of discovery that each Aman stay offers and the embrace of belonging that comes with the warm, personal atmosphere that pervades each Aman.

3. Four Seasons Resort Nevis

As regular readers will know, we are also big fans of Four Seasons resorts at Luxury Travel Diary. This resort only gets slightly marked down because it’s not possible to fly direct to the island of Nevis. This remotely located Four Seasons Resort Nevis sits on a large, attractive beach, basking in the near-perfect weather of this little-known wonder in the Caribbean West Indies. Almost all rooms have beautiful mountains or ocean views, and come with private balconies. Relax in one 3 pools, rejuvenate in the award-winning spa, or play golf to dramatic Caribbean views or simply relax on the golden beach and let the lapping of the waves drift you to happiness.

My favourite Four Seasons hotel in the world is Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel which I visited this summer and like so much that I will return next summer. The Four Seasons Hampshire is one of my favourite country house hotels in England and the Four Seasons London Park Lane makes the perfect city break as does the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg. In Hawaii its hard not to love the Four Seasons Wailea on Maui and the Four Seasons Manele Bay on Lanai.

4. Sandals Montego Bay Overwater Villas, Jamaica

In December, Sandals unveiled its first five all-inclusive over-the-water villas in in Montego Bay, in the Caribbean. These are their first honeymoon style overwater bungalows (pictured above) and each comes with a private pool, Jacuzzi, glass floors, and a personal butler. The glass panels in the villas’ floors illuminate at night and show sea life swimming underneath (see picture!). The deck boasts not only the small infinity pool but two outdoor showers, an oversized over-the-water hammock, chic white sun loungers and a shaded circular swing chair. The villas also have 24/7 room service and two dedicated butlers.

The resort’s private island, the setting for the fantastic new suites, is located moments from the shore of the main resort, and features an authentic Thai restaurant and a casual beachfront grill, a pool with a whirlpool and swim-up pool bar, along with a secluded private beach.

Sandals Montego Bay Overwater Villas, Jamaica also features in my top 5 best romantic, honeymoon style overwater villas in the Caribbean.

5. Parrot Cay By Como, Turks & Caicos

Once a wild, uninhabited island, now a luxury, whitewashed wellness retreat, Como Parrot Cay​ is a colourful Caribbean destination for the honeymooning A-list. This private Caicos island boutique hotel has an award-winning spa and a mile of unspoilt, uninhabited and unforgettable beach. The private island offers over 1,000 unspoilt acres edged with powdery soft beach. All rooms and suites have whitewashed interiors furnished with soft, cotton-covered chairs, airy four-poster beds and teak furnishing. Private villas have their own pools and direct beach access.

You may also be interested in my top 10 white sand beaches in the world, my 5 best family resorts in the Caribbean and my out of the ordinary Caribbean article.

Top 5 Best Luxury Beach Hotels in Oman

Continuing our series of top 5 best beaches and luxury hotels around the world, in this article I pick the top 5 best beach hotels & resorts in Oman.

The best time to visit Oman is between November and the end of March. Nothing feels better than fleeing the British winter and finding yourself amid the delicious hot sands of the Omani desert, with starry skies above you, and crystal clear waters lapping at your toes.

1. Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara

Famed for the riches of its frankincense groves, coconut-fringed beaches and a profusion of tropical greenery during the summer monsoon season, Salalah, on the south coast of Dhofar, offers travellers an emerging destination of breathtaking natural beauty. Situated between a long, scenic beach and freshwater lagoon, Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara Hotels Resorts & Spas (pictured above) is a luxury resort with a contemporary Middle Eastern ambience framed by lush tropical gardens, 750 palm trees and of course, a glorious beach.

The resort’s 40 Premier and Deluxe Rooms come with balconies or terraces that overlook either the Arabian Sea, the lagoon or the garden. 8 one-bedroom Villas and 88 one and two-bedroom Pool Villas offer separate living areas, with Pool Villas benefiting from private temperature-controlled swimming pools. The exclusive three-bedroom Royal Beach Pool Villa is the epitome of luxury, boasting commanding views of the sandy bay and idyllic lagoon.

There are three main restaurants serving local Middle Eastern cuisine as well as international dishes and a short walk away is the awe inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site, Al Baleed Archaeological Park.

Slip out of your beachfront villa, surrounded by towering palms, into the languid ocean. Al Baleed Resort Salalah is a serene retreat under the Oman sun.

2. Six Senses Zinghy Bay

Just a couple of hours’ drive from Dubai, this isolated but oh-so-peaceful eco-luxe hotel feels like a rustic, ancient Omani village with a touch of the Flintstones. Sandy paths lead between stylish daybeds and palms to villas with private pools, outdoor showers and butlers who will buggy you around the resort.

There’s a playground, tennis courts and an excellent children’s club (free for four-year-olds and above) which will introduce them to crab-hunting, marine biology and movies on the beach, with popcorn and more than 40 different flavours of ice cream.

For couples the Sense on the Edge restaurant, hidden up in the mountains, offers exquisite food and expansive views. For health junkies, hike or bike in the mountains, yoga on the rooftop or choose from a number of hardcore health bootcamps. In the spa, treatments are decadent but results-driven and holistic.

Six Senses Zinghy Bay is a world away from the Disney-esque vibe of Dubai. Relax in front of the dramatic sandstone Al Hajar mountains with the waters of the Gulf of Oman gently lapping at your toes in splendid isolation.

3. The Chedi, Muscat

The Chedi Muscat, part of Leading Hotels of the World, is a stylish retreat meticulously designed to be part Philippe Starck, part Lawrence of Arabia, with still reflecting pools and perfectly positioned palm trees. Even the grains of sand here seem to be aligned in perfect formation.

‘Club Suites’ are spacious, white-painted bungalows or villas, spread among the palms and fountains. All have black marble sunken baths, Bose hi-fi system, satellite TV and fresh plates of fruit and Arabic pastries daily. The laundry service is complimentary and so is the minibar. Enjoy a delicious room-service breakfast any time till noon.

There is a family pool, the Serai pool and the adults-only Chedi pool, an infinity-edged number adjoining the beach where cocktails at sunset are de rigueur. The treatments at the Balinese spa are excellent. The food is also excellent; The Restaurant has won numerous international awards for food and design.

Take a boat trip to watch dolpins, play a round of golf of simply lie on one of the perfectly arranged loungers sitting perpendicular to the waters of the white sand beach while the palms and trees rustle behind you.

4. Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort And Spa, Muscat

Oman’s largest new hotel encompasses three hotels set around one uninhabited bay. All 680 rooms have sea views and private balconies or terraces; there are pools, restaurants (including the Middle Eastern-themed Al Tanoor, a South American restaurant Samba and ship-themed restaurant Sultanah), watersports, bars, a nightclub, a promenade area and designer shops. This is very much a bustling resort town created around a single hotel brand.

Al Waha, the least expensive of the three, is aimed at families and offers interconnecting rooms and a free Little Turtles club for 3 to 12-year-olds. Al Husn is the six-star option, with a helipad, a private beach and a private pool. This hotel is inaccessible from the other hotels.

Activities include a spa, scuba diving, snorkelling, dolphin and whale watching trips, and a strolling around the marina.

5. The Grand Hyatt Muscat

The Grand Hyatt Muscat is a business hotel at the heart of the diplomatic centre of Oman, but that shouldn’t put the leisure traveller off. For those with families in tow, we would recommend staying in the Shangri-La above, as there are many more activities on offer to amuse children. However, for the more sophisticated traveller, the Grand Hyatt has a great gym, nice swimming pool and private beach, so there are enough leisure facilities available. Rooms are a decent size, but in need of a refurb – however, they are clean so they are still pleasant to relax in.

If you prefer to be over the water take a look at my top 5 best overwater villas in the Caribbean, my top 5 best romantic honeymoon hotels in the Maldives with private pools and my top 5 best luxury hotels and resorts in the Maldives.

Review: Condor B767-300ER Business Class Frankfurt to Seychelles

In this trip report I review Condor B767-300ER Business Class from Frankfurt (Germany) to Mahe (Seychelles). For those who have not heard of Condor Airlines, Condor Flugdienst GmbH, branded as Condor, is a German leisure airline based in Frankfurt. It operates scheduled flights to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and the Caribbean.

On October 22nd 2016, I flew Business Class in a Boeing 767-300ER of Condor Flugdienst from Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) in Germany to Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) in the Seychelles. Condor is Germany’s third largest airline based on fleet size and passengers flown. It is a subsidiary of the British Thomas Cook Group, but still partners with its former parent Lufthansa through the use of the Lufthansa Group’s Miles & More program (the flight earned me 3000 miles) and its business lounges at Frankfurt Airport. Since Condor has a reputation for offering European holiday makers inexpensive vacation packages to long-haul destinations, I did not expect a lot. But I was pleasantly surprised by the overall experience, especially the food, which was among the best I ever had in a plane.

I paid 950 euros for a one-way ticket from Brussels to the Seychelles via Frankfurt (the return flight was with Emirates and Qantas). Condor is one of the few airlines that allows you to book online one-way journeys for half the price of a return ticket. The flight from Frankfurt to Seychelles was in Business Class, although the Brussels-Frankfurt leg (operated by Lufthansa) was in Economy. Condor still partners with its former mother company Lufthansa to transfer passengers to its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, but when you book an intercontinental Business Class ticket with Condor from a connecting point in Europe, you will always end up in Lufthansa’s Economy Class for the intra-European leg.

950 euros for a one way ticket in Business from Europe to the Seychelles is not a bad deal. Only a few airlines serve the Seychelles which include Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air Seychelles which I have reviewed, Air Austral, SriLankan, Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenya Airways. New airlines are launching flights to the islands. Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines have recently started flights from Doha and Istanbul respectively, and Austrian Airlines will offer weekly direct flights from Vienna from autumn next year. In addition, Air Seychelles, the nation’s national carrier, is launching a new route to Düsseldorf.

Condor does not have its own lounge at Frankfurt International Airport but its Business Class passengers have access to the business lounges of its former parent Lufthansa. Lufthansa has more than 10 lounges at its hub. You can read my review for the Lufthansa Busines lounge near gate B24 in Terminal 1 (non-Schengen area), which is close to the Condor boarding gates.

Condor Boeing B767 Business Class Cabin

Condor’s Boeing B767 comes in two versions. The most common version has a total of 214 seats – 30 in Business Class, 35 in Premium Economy, and 180 in Economy. These aircraft are mostly deployed on routes where demand for Business Class seats is high as those serving the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles. The less common B767 variant features a higher density 259 seat configuration, with 18 seats in Business Class, 35 in Premium Economy, and 206 in Economy.

No matter what version you fly in, the Business Class seats in Condor’s B767s are always located in one single cabin in the front of the plane. Although they don’t have the youngest fleet in the industry, Condor completed a fleet-wide refurbishment of its Business Class cabins a couple of years ago and it shows: the B767 Business Class was bright, airy and modern. During the retrofit, the cabins were equipped with LED mood lighting, which is similar to what you experience on modern planes such as the B787 and A350. It create nice effects in a wide range of colours.

The seats, placed in 2-2-2 seat configuration all face forward. All seats offer aisle access, except for the window seats where you will have to crawl over the legs of your neighbour if you want to reach the aisle. See seat map of Condor’s B767.

The Best Business Class Seat On Condor Planes
Although comfortable, the Business Class seats on Condor’s B767 represent a dated product. While many airlines now offer flatbeds, Condor opts for angled lie-flat seats with a 170 degree incline. This is probably due to the fact that Condor mainly caters to holiday destinations and therefore somewhat lacks steep competitions from other airlines, hence allowing them to maintain a somewhat inferior Business Class seat product.

The seat has a 152 cm (60 inch) pitch and is 48 cm (19 inch) wide. The seat layout is quite simple, with the seat and entertainment system controls located in one arm rest, while the moderately sized tray table is located in the other arm rest and needs to be pulled out for any use. In front of the seat is the entertainment screen which offers around 30 movies, 50 TV series and documentaries, and a good selection of music. There was storage space on top of the screen and a large compartment below for your feet. If you wish to use your own electronic devices rather than the seat built-in complete system, the seat has USB ports and electrical outlets.

With a press of the button, the seat reclines to an angle of 170 degrees, hereby creating a bed of 180 cm (70 inch) long, whereby your legs disappear in the box below the entertainment screen.

All seats in the cabin, except for the first and last row, are quiet good, especially for couples. Make sure to prebook your seat online since Condor flights are often fully packed.

The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a small screen though between seats that can be raised for added privacy.

Window seats don’t offer direct aisle access and passengers seated in the first row may be bothered by the noise of the galley and passengers going to or returning from the lavatories. I suggest avoiding the last row of Business Class, which is close to Premium Economy bassinet seats. Window seats in the last row are missing a window.

Amenities

Upon boarding, your find a comfortable blanket and pillow on your seat to enhance your sleeping comfort. Before takeoff, the crew also hands out amenity kits, which come in the form of an etui, a small ornamental case featuring a map of the globe. The content was rather disappointing and not different from the essentials that you get in Economy Class on many airlines. I have reviewed the best First & Business Class airline amenity kits in the world (Condor definitely does not feature in this list!).

Food

Upon boarding, I was offered the choice between a glass of Champagne, water, or orange juice. I received a refreshing hot towel to wipe my hands and face. I was also served a soft drink (with ice and lemon) and a small bag containing an assortment of cold nuts.

Soon thereafter, dinner was offered, all served on a single tray. Food was terrific and among the best I ever enjoyed on a flight, including First Class. The quality, quantity, presentation, and service were all top-notch. The Condor in-flight menu read as follows:

Starter: mixed platter with
creamy cheese and herb dip
chicken breast with herb crust, bulgur & mango salad, and curried crème fraiche
avocado parsley mousse , quinoa salad, scampi skewer, and smoked salmon filet
seasonal leafy green salad with thousand island dressing
Main course: Red snapper with mustard sauce, grilled vegetables, and potato mash with chives
Dessert: Passionfruit champagne tartlet on peach ragout
90 minutes prior to landing, breakfast was served. It featured:

Freshly sliced fruits
Beef salami, turkey ham, Emmentaler, and rocket cream cheese
Frittata with cheese and parsley
Bircher muesli
Bread roll – croissant – chocolate Danish pastry
Butter – jam – Nutella – honey

It is worth noting that the Condor B767 does not have a walk-up bar in Business Class or WiFi on their planes.

You may also be interested in my top 10 Best Business Class airlines for long haul travel and my comparison of Emirates vs Etihad vs Qatar Airways: Best Airline In The Middle East in my Airline Reviews section.

Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert

Condor Airlines

The Best Honeymoon Style Overwater Villas In The Caribbean

Continuing our series of the best beaches and luxury hotels around the world, I have picked the top 5 best romantic, honeymoon style overwater villas in the Caribbean.

You may not have realised, but there are overwater villas or bungalows all over the world. I have already written about the best overwater bungalows in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Now we look at the overwater villas that you can stay in, which are only a short flight from the US mainland, in the Caribbean.

Sandals Montego Bay Overwater Villas, Jamaica

In December, Sandals unveiled its first five all-inclusive over-the-water villas in in Montego Bay, in the Caribbean. These are their first honeymoon style overwater bungalows (pictured above) and each comes with a private pool, Jacuzzi, glass floors, and a personal butler. The glass panels in the villas’ floors illuminate at night and show sea life swimming underneath (see picture!). The deck boasts not only the small infinity pool but two outdoor showers, an oversized over-the-water hammock, chic white sun loungers and a shaded circular swing chair. The villas also have 24/7 room service and two dedicated butlers.

The resort’s private island, the setting for the fantastic new suites, is located moments from the shore of the main resort, and features an authentic Thai restaurant and a casual beachfront grill, a pool with a whirlpool and swim-up pool bar, along with a secluded private beach.

The resort itself is situated only a few minutes away from the airport in Montego Bay with a free shuttle to and from, making the resort easy to get to.

And the cost of a night in one of these overwater villas? Well you can book 3 nights for US$8814.10/£7115 including standard Sandals online discounts. If you book for a week or more you may get a lower price, but for shorter stays it appears that the rate will be around US$3,000/£2,421 per night.

Sandals Montego Bay Overwater Villas, Jamaica also features in my top 5 best luxury hotels in the Caribbean.

Sandals South Coast Resort, Jamaica

Sandals South Coast Resort also on Jamaica in the Caribbean is in the planning stages of building 12 overwater bungalows. Sandals South Coast will be Sandals’ next destination for the recently introduced ‘over-the-water’ villas like those at Sandals Royal Caribbean adding 12 over-the-water bungalows to the destination. Sandals South Coast will also be introducing Sandals’ first dedicated over-the-water bar, named Latitudes, where you and your honey can enjoy a cocktail in your hammock suspended above the Caribbean Sea. And if you don’t feel like getting out of the water to get that drink, the Bar-Tender, a floating, ocean-based swim up bar, will make its way by while you’re right in the ocean. You will also be able to tie the knot overwater with a new over-the-water wedding chapel, with breathtaking 360-degree, panoramic water views and a glass floor aisle. This resort also offers 2 miles of white sand beach along with a wide selection of water sports, including snorkelling and scuba diving.

Expect to pay around US$3,000 per night for a stay in these overwater villas.

Rosewood Mayakoba Overwater Suites, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Located near Playa del Carmen, 40 miles south of Cancun, the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort has 18 Deluxe Overwater Suites which sit above a mangrove lagoon. Each suite is large and comes with a heated plunge pool. These were the first honeymoon style overwater bungalows in the Caribbean. At less than an hour away from the Cancun Airport, these overwater villas are easy to get to.

Low season online specials from US$938/£757 per night High season online specials from US$1,708/£1,379 per night.

Azul Paradise Resort Overwater Retreats, Isla Bastimentos, Panama

This Eco-friendly resort is located on the Caribbean side of Panama, which means that you can climb down the ladder from the deck and into the Caribbean. Rooms here include a private wooden deck, air conditioning, a private bathroom, a glass floor cutout, wooden floors throughout and snorkel gear. The Azul Paradise Resort is a more rustic and earthy experience than the luxury options above. This means you can stay without breaking the bank. Rates are offered on either an all inclusive stay or one that include 3 meals a day.

Prices here are comparatively cheap at Isla around US$385/£311 per night.

El Dorado Maroma – Riviera Maya, Mexico Overwater Bungalows

Located on the Atlantic coast of Mexico in the Riviera Maya region, the El Dorado Maroma resort offers 30 overwater bungalows as well as 128 land rooms. Each overwater room offers guests a private deck, stairs that lead directly into the ocean below, a large bedroom with a glass floor cut out and a jacuzzi.

Overwater rooms are also adult only and guests will also find a number of restaurants, bars and activities at the resort. The spa offers a range of treatments and massages with a focus on traditional Mayan herbal practices.

Prices start at US$1,330/£1075 per night.

If you prefer to stick with the Maldives, discover my best romantic honeymoon hotels in the Maldives with private pools. my 5 of the best luxury resorts in the Maldives, along with my top 5 best places to travel and my best wilderness lodges in the world.

Top 5 Best Romantic Resorts For Couples In Thailand

Thailand offers white sand beaches, clear blue sea and dramatic tropical landscapes. My top 5 best romantic hotels and resorts for couples in Thailand picks out the perfect hotels to spend your honeymoon, valentines or just a week in paradise beside the beach or your own private pool.

1. Crown Lanta Resort

Koh Lanta is a peaceful and culturally rich island that is just a stones throw from Phi-Phi and only an hour and a half from Krabi International airport. Koh Lanta remains relatively unspoiled with miles of white sand beaches and nearby dive spots. Here rugged tree-covered hills give way to the mangroves and traditional villages.

Crown Lanta Resort & Spa which also features in my top 5 best hotels and resorts on Koh Lanta (also see photos above), extends across 22 hectares of gentle hills which lead down to cliffs overlooking the sea. The resort takes advantage of the stunning views across the ocean and Phi Phi Islands. An small but perfect, private white sand beach can be reached by steps and there is also direct access to the famous 3km long Klong Dao Beach.

Ocean Private Pool Villas offer a private swimming pool and breathtaking panoramic views. Enjoy the tastes of Thailand at the on-site restaurants, and be pampered at the rejuvenating Infinity Spa or laze around the two pools. In the evenings, sit beachside at the Reggae Bar and enjoy a beer as the sun goes down.

You can bid and win a stay here in our Luxury Travel Auction.

2. Keemala Phuket

Keemala is nestled amidst lush flora on the rainforest encrusted hills of Phuket. Overlooking Kamala village and out to the Andaman Sea, this member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World is hidden away from the crowds and offers a serene retreat.

38 Pool Villas offer pretty thatched roofs, huge four-poster beds, outdoor bath tubs and private lap pools. All rooms overlook the rainforest, mountains and Andaman Sea. Over and above your own private lap pool, you will find the resort’s main freeform pool and Jacuzzi flanked with sun loungers. There is also an hourly shuttle to Kamala beach.

The Spa here is beautiful with eight treatment pod and dining here simply could not be more romantic in intimate dining pods which are dotted around the swimming pool and next to a cascading waterfall.

Keemala is just 3-minutes drive from Kamala Beach and not far from the liveliness of Patong Beach, but feels a world away. In fact this luxury resort is often compared to Avatar’s Pandora and the Shire from Lord of the Rings. It is a paradise that must be experienced.

3. Banyan Tree Phuket

This exceptional resort is perfectly romantic with some the best pool villas in Thailand. Arranged in the style of a tranquil Thai village, the resort’s stunning villas surround a sparkling lagoon and feature an open-air bath and a private sundeck with jet pool or private swimming pool. Banyan Pool Villas offer a serene setting in landscaped gardens while the Banyan Lagoon Pool Villas overlook the tranquil lagoon.

This tropical fairytale sits to the side of Bang Tao Bay which always sparkles. Facilities include swimming pools, 3 km of sandy shores, a championship 18-hole golf course and a choice of five sumptuous dining restaurants. Try dinner on a long tail boat in the middle of the lagoon for a truly enchanting experience.

4. Amanpuri Phuket

It is no secret that I love Aman Hotels. You can read about my recent trip to Aman Grand Canale Venice which was also utterly romantic.

Amanpuri is tucked away in Surin beach alongside the holiday homes of the rich and famous on Phuket. The beach can only be reached via the hotel or by boat, keeping it almost completely private.

A towering Thai pavilion sits at the Amanpuri’s centre, fringed by lush jungle and facing onto a vast black-tiled swimming pool with a glorious view of the Andaman Sea. A stone staircase leads to Pansea beach, a rustic-chic restaurant, more swimming pools, a watersports centre and tennis courts. An excellent spa is tucked away on the other side of the resort, overlooking Bang Tao beach.

Amanpuri’s rooms exude Thai elegance. Garden pavilions are secluded, with a walled garden, sunken bath and outdoor shower. Pavilions 103 and 105 have the most striking sea views. Pick a Garden Pool Pavilion for utterly private dips in your own plunge pool.

5. Six Senses Yao Noi, Phuket

Six Senses Yao Noi is one of the most luxury resorts in Asia with a price tag to match. 56 pool villas will appeal to your inner child. They feel like you are staying in a luxury tree house. Perched on a cliffside, with jaw-dropping views over Phang Nga Bay’s fantastical limestone pinnacles, these rustic villas with palm leaf roofs, provide generous personal space and utter luxury.

Also on offer is a superb Six Senses Spa. Having tried a few treatments at the Six Senses in Puente Romano in Marbella, I can vouch that Six Senses offers some of the best Spa treatments in the world. Expect an amazing experience and gongs!

Laze by the infinity pool which is so perfect that you feel you might swim right off the edge. Eat at the split-level Dining Room is surrounded by natural vegetation and a waterfall, drink on a day-bed in the main house, stay as long as you can afford.

Read my other top five best articles to discover the best beaches and luxury hotels around the world including my 5 best luxury hotels in Thailand with private pools or infinity pools, my best destinations in Europe and my best wilderness lodges in the world.

Review: Virgin Australia “The Business” Best Business Class Cabin

When choosing the best business class airline in the world; Virgin Australia’s new “The Business” Business Class cabin often comes top. “The Business” has rolled out on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ER planes and I review this new Business Class offering below.

Virgin Australia “The Business”

Virgin Australia’s new business class has been fitted to each of the five Boeing 777-300ER international long-haul jets flying from Sydney to LAX and Brisbane to LAX as well as the Sydney to Abu Dhabi leg.

From the moment you enter the super-luxurious business class cabin you will understand why this cabin is rated so highly. The cabin offers a brand new in-flight bar, some of the most comfortable seats in the sky and some of the widest and most comfortable 80-inch (203cm) long beds. These also boast 28 of width inches when you lower the chair’s left-hand armrest.

There are 37 individual suites in the newly refurbished cabin, the 1-2-1 layout is arranged in a reverse herringbone, with aisle seats facing outwards towards the windows and the centre two seats facing inwards towards each other, see seat map. A large cocoon stretches around the seat providing more privacy, and there are dividers between centre seats. Each seat has direct aisle access and a 18-inch touchscreen entertainment screen.

For sleeping, Virgin’s cabin crew will come around and fit your seat with a soft, plush mattress pad and will give you a duvet. The two pillows on your seat are soft and firm so you can use either, as you prefer.

Lighting is in Virgin’s signature purple tones, which is relaxing. Storage is made up from five small compartments and each business seat has its own overhead storage bin. Passengers are allowed two 115cm, 7kg carry-on bags or rolling hard-side luggage.

Virgin “The Business” Bar

The bar is situated in the middle of the business class cabin, with bulkheads on either side to separate it from the business seats. The bar is surrounded by seven seats with room to stand, so you could hold a meeting or meet other luxury travellers if you get bored of watching movies alone and sleeping.

Amenities on Virgin Australia

The noise-cancelling headphones are good, there’s always a bottle of water handy, and the amenity kit comes from Mandarina Duck (pictured in scroller above) and sized pyjamas from Julie Grbac. You can see how this compares to other airlines in my 10 best First and Business Class amenity kits.

Food on Virgin Australia

This is perhaps the only bit of “The Business” that falls below par. In fact, the Middle Eastern Airlines including Etihad, Emirates and Qatar offer much better food than Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia’s business class dinner and breakfast service is fine, but noting fancy. Hearty Australian grub rather than gastronomic fine dining.

Starter options include garlic bread, tomato soup, king prawns and of course a bread basket.

Expect a main course choice which reads similar to the following (bearing in mind menus change):
Moroccan spiced lamb and sweet potato on date couscous with almond, preserved lemon and mint.
Pork fillet on parsnip puree with roast eschalot, caramelised apple and broad beans.
Barramundi with black bean sauce, snow peas, rice and spring onions.
Eggplant, zucchini and blue cheese lasagne with basil and toasted pine nuts.
Dishes are matched with good Australian wines.

Following is a cheese board or more traditional desserts and if you are still hungry, roasted mixed nuts, chocolate, sea salt crisps and Australian green olives can all be ordered from your seat or at the bar, as can the following ‘lite bites’:

Chicken and leek toasted sandwich.
Ham, paprika and Manchego cheese croquettes with corn and capsicum salsa.
Mezze plate of dips with spiced flatbread.
Artisan cheese plate with grapes and fig paste.

For breakfast expect a variety of juices, fruits, cereals, bakery items, Nespresso coffee, tea and your choice of main dish:

Fig and apricot Bircher muesli with cardamom and pistachio.
Spiced plum on toasted banana bread with almonds and coconut yoghurt.
Scrambled eggs with tomato relish.
Sides of bacon, celeriac potato cake, smoked salmon, field mushrooms, wilted spinach and marinated feta.

You can also opt to enjoy your full breakfast at the bar or take a simple continental option in the bar area before the proper breakfast service begins.

Conclusion

Virgin Australia’s “The Business” offers a superb cabin and seat, service and bar, but the food lets the airline down. If you are a gourmet or simply like your food, you may prefer to travel Business Class on one of the Middle Eastern Airlines. I have written about which Middle Eastern Airline is best in Business Class. For comparison, you may also wish to read my review of Qantas in First Class.

Review: Lunja Village Hotel, Resort & Aquapark, Agadir

Name: Lunja Village Hotel

When travelling with children, a safe, quiet resort with plenty to entertain them is key, but the luxury traveller in you need not miss out either; enter the Lunja Village Hotel, Resort & Aquapark in Agadir, Morocco! Morocco is the ideal destination for some winter sunshine with kids; short flight times, beautiful beaches and plenty to keep you all occupied. The city of Agadir is found in the foothills of the Anti-Atlas Mountains; known for its golf courses, huge fine sandy beach and seaside promenade. British Airways, easyJet, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines, and Thomson Airways all fly to Agadir-Al Massira Airport (AGA), with flight times from London coming in at 3 hours and 40 minutes, the resort is then just an hour from the airport.

Resort

Lunja Village overlooks the ocean, tucked between the sea and the mountains in a wonderfully peaceful spot. Set on 5 hectares are 104 chalets, a hotel with 180 apartments and a second hotel with 210 luxury suites. Other facilities include outdoor swimming pools, restaurants and bars, a water park, kids club, tennis courts and a multi-sport field. The resort is clean and comfortable throughout, with a modern and bright design; the resulting mood is uplifting and cheery, perfect for families.

Accommodation

When it comes to accommodation you have a choice of a chalet, apartment or a suite. All sleep 4 across 2 bedrooms and include either a terrace or balcony overlooking the sea, mountains, gardens or swimming pool. There is also a large living area with a sofa and flat-screen TV and a fully equipped open plan kitchen (with fridge, oven, coffee machine, kettle, toaster and electric cooktop) where you can cook your own meals with groceries purchased at the onsite mini market. There is also a bathroom, safe, Wi-Fi in public areas and free parking. The chalets would probably get my vote as they offer a little more space and privacy.

Restaurants & Bars

There is a wide range of restaurants and bars at Lunja Village, including a colourful tearoom (Riad des Saveurs), a 200-seat International restaurant (Le Gourmet), an ice cream parlour, 2 bars and 4 swimming pool snack bars which serve light meals and hot and cold beverages throughout the day; ideal for some refreshment while you relax by the pool and watch the kids play.

Pool & Activities

The water park has to be top of the list for on-site entertainment, with two large water slides and set in beautifully landscaped gardens there’s something for all the family. For a true break, why not give the kids some freedom at the well-staffed Kids Club, available for 4 to 10 year olds; inspiring activities and welcoming facilities mean that they’ll want to keep coming back, giving you that extra bit of time to relax, knowing that they’re happy and safe. There’s plenty to visit in the local area too. The resort is 30 minutes from Agadir City itself and 10 minutes from Taghazout; which is known as the Surfers Paradise. Agadir City has a reputation as the chilled out, trendy city of Morocco; with wide palm lined boulevards and Parisian inspired pavement cafes, restaurants and bars, it’s a far cry from the craziness of Marrakech and is much more suited to families. Learn to surf, play some golf or simply relax on the gorgeous beaches; one of which is just 5 minutes from the resort. There’s also quaint fishing villages, Berber jewellers and local markets to explore.

For a family break with all the facilities that you require on holiday and all the comforts of home, Lunja Village is a beautiful resort to visit for a relaxing break for you and a fun break for them!

Lunja Village Hotel

Review Of Lufthansa Business Class Lounge At Frankfurt Airport

Lufthansa has more than 10 lounges at its hub in Frankfurt Airport, and this review and photos covers its lounge near gate B24 in Terminal 1 (non-Schengen area), which is close to the Condor boarding gates for the Condor Business Class flight I was about to take to the Seychelles.

The lounge is located up a spiral staircase, one floor above the terminal’s main concourse. Boarding passes are checked by a security point below the staircase. The lounge itself is quite large and has the size of a donut: the food stations are placed at the centre of the donut while the seating areas make up the outside of the donut. Although the lounge itself has large floor-to-ceiling windows, it does not have a view to speak of, since there is a large corridor between the windows and the tarmac. The decor, with its soft and relaxing colours, has a corporate, contemporary look, featuring a combination of designer seats and more comfortable loungers. The lounge has been built with the business traveler in mind, since large portions of the space feature tables with power outlets and small work cubicles.

I visited the lounge in the early evening, and the food offerings were quite decent (see pictures). The buffet offered plenty of cold and hot items, such as salads, sandwiches, broccoli cream soup and beef stew to name a few. In addition, some Lufthansa staffers walked through the lounge with trolleys and handed out small bites (e.g. Wiener schnitzels) to guests, a highly appreciated feature. Wine offerings were limited, although there was not shortage of other alcoholic drinks, including German beers.

Interestingly, I have also reviewed Lufthansa’s Business Class on the A350 which is the airline you are most likely to take from this lounge.

You may also be interested in my top 10 Best Business Class airlines for long haul travel and my comparison of Emirates vs Etihad vs Qatar Airways: Best Airline In The Middle East in my Airline Reviews section.

Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert