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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Another chance to win a trip

Week for two in Riviera Maya

Posted: 12/20/2008 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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The lucky winner of our Great Winter Escape Contest will enjoy a week for two, including airfare, at Karisma's all-inclusive El Dorado Royale spa resort, but it's not the only fabulous resort Karisma can boast about in the area.

The Azul Beach Hotel is perfectly situated -- 25 minutes south of Cancun, 35 minutes north of Playa del Carmen and 10 minutes north of Puerto Morales, the next up-and-coming resort area of the Riviera Maya, Signature Vacation's Pat Rachey says.

It's an intimate, 96-room resort hotel with lush vegetation on a spectacular stretch of white sand beach and crystal blue water.

Rachey says all rooms feature contemporary décor, complete with satellite flat-screen TV, mini bar, coffee maker, DVD player, and a balcony with garden or ocean views.

The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, with unlimited dining and choice of restaurants featuring seafood, grilled meats, Mexican-, Caribbean- and Asian-inspired cuisine.

"This hotel goes beyond the norm, with vegetarian, South Beach diet, low fat/low carb menus offered daily," Rachey says. "For families, there are lots of soups, sandwiches and specialty meals catering to the kids, plus brownies, cookies and ice cream. They even have an all lobster menu... and it is included."

Here are some other features of the Azul Beach Hotel:

-- 24-hour room service, with kids and adult favourites such as pizza and even popcorn.
-- Beach butler service, where waiters not only bring drinks, but snacks and towels, or anything else you might have forgotten and don't want to walk back for 30 seconds to reach your room. (It is that close.)
-- Tequila Lounge, complete with a frozen bar (its top is made of ice).
-- There are three pools, plus hammocks. Included activities are paddle boating, kayaking, cooking lessons, tequila tasting, yoga and dancing classes.

The resort has everything for kids, said Rachey, including baby strollers, cribs, heaters, beach games, colouring books and refrigerators for milk and medicine.

Jim Jones, a computer programmer from Vancouver, just returned with his wife and five-year-old daughter.

"The resort was beautiful, the food and service outstanding, and I love those beach butlers. They couldn't do enough for you. Staying in a small hotel has its advantages."

Another great property by Karisma is the Azul Sensatori, which just opened and already is getting rave reviews from guests who are amazed by the included features and themed areas, said Rachey.

Karisma sales director Sabrina

Filatow said the Sensatori "is designed

to allow couples, groups, wedding

parties, families and friends from all

generations to connect under the sun."

The Sensatori is a Tui Travel hotel

that is managed by Karisma, and is the

second Sensatori in the world, following

the success of a similar project in

Crete, said Rachey. There are plans to

build more Sensatoris outside Mexico

in the Caribbean in the next few years,

she said. Tui Travel is one of the

largest travel companies in the world.

It's based in the United Kingdom and

is the parent company of Signature

Vacations. Sensatori is sold exclusively

in Canada by Signature Vacations.

The Sensatori is located 25 minutes

south of Cancun, adjacent to the Azul

Beach Hotel.

It features an adults-only section

with an adults-only pool and restaurant.

It has a family section next to a

kids club and teen club, plus a Premium

Section close to the beach, with

added amenities and services.

Rachey said there are 438 suites in a

number of different categories, but all

feature contemporary Caribbean-style

décor, canopy beds, 32-inch plasma

TVs, DVD players, IPod docking stations,

in-suite Jacuzzi, mini bar, coffee

maker, bathrobes, rainforest showers

and oversized balconies or terrace.

Some of the room categories include

regular and luxury Jacuzzi junior

suites, swim-up junior suites, connecting

Jacuzzi ocean view suites,

family Jacuzzi suites, premium

category suites, plus honeymoon and

presidential suites. Each offers its

own unique features, and Rachey calls

the cost difference between each one

"very affordable" compared to other

quality resorts offering similar room

types.

"Our biggest problem with the hotel

right now is that we can't get enough

rooms to fill the demand. Except for

March, we are pretty much sold for

most of the winter season."

The family suites include oversized

suites with a private sleeping area

with a queen bed, double sofa bed, and

single sofa bed. The room will hold up

to two adults and three children, or

three adults and one child.

"There is something for everyone

and with each area separated, everyone

can get what they want," Rachey

says.

With the premium Jacuzzi swim-up

suite, guests have a private Jacuzzi

right outside their room, and can step

directly into a lazy river which crosses

in front of their terrace.

The hotel has six a la carte restaurants,

plus seven bars/lounges,

including three swim-up bars, a Mojito

lounge and roof garden lounge.

Following along the Gourmet Inclusive

theme, the Sensatori features

a choice of dining experiences, from

Caribbean bistro to le Chique, an

adults-only restaurant with multicourse

meals.

The Tapaz restaurant has oversized

tables for friends and families of all

generations to gather. Chefs not only

cook the food, but personally present it

to their guests.

The hotel offers a kids club in a

separate area for children four to 12

years, and a teen's club for 13 to 17

year olds. They have their own pool

area, spray playground, rock climbing,

air hockey, video games and much

more.

"The hotel is ideal for weddings,

groups, family gatherings, couples or

anyone wanting to have fun along with

fine dining and upgraded accommodation,"

Rachey says.

"The Sensatori is the latest in the

new trend of affordable, all-inclusive

hotels. Sophisticated travellers today

want all the modern conveniences like

plasma TVs and IPod docking stations.

A lot of people will pay a bit more for

the added luxury of a swim-up suite. A

few years ago, if the hotel had one or

two a la carte restaurants, plus a buffet,

it was a great offer. The new hotels

have five or six, and in the case of

Karisma, the food rivals any gourmet

restaurant. All of this without having

to pull out your wallet."

"I can't wait to see what they are going

to do next."

Let's go over the prizes one more

time.

The winners will be staying in a

garden view Jacuzzi junior suite at

the five-star El Dorado Royale, about

half an hour south of Cancun, and will

enjoy all the amenities included in the

resort's all-inclusive package. And if

they're Winnipeggers, they'll get limo

service to and from the airport from

Crown Limosine Service.

If you are the grand prize winner of

the trip for two in the sun, and also are

a seven-day Free Press home subscriber,

Journeys Travel and Leisure Super-

Centre, Donald Street and Wardlaw Avenue,

will have a $500 gift certificate

for you to get ready for the big trip.

And this year, the contest features

weekly prizes -- $100 gift certificates

to Ten Spa, the luxury, full-service spa

in the Fort Garry Hotel, and $100 certificates

to Dacquisto Restaurant, 1715

Kenaston Blvd. (Congratulations to Luc

Roy, our Week 2 prize winner).

All you have to do is read our contest

story each week, correctly answer a

question from the story, and you could

be our next weekly winner, or next

grand prize winner.

You can mail your entries to the Free

Press, or enter the contest online at

www.winnipegfreepress.com/contest.

And good luck!

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2008 E1

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