Mexico’s Luxe Villa – Staff included!

The View from the Villa
The View from the Villa

Picture yourself here, nestled between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco dipping your bod into this infinity pool and gazing out to sea. You there? Good. We wanted to collaborate with our readers to share in a mutual daydream. This is Casa Colina, one of Mexico’s finest off-the-radar villa rental retreats. This isn’t your bargain escape, but it is one that will promise to pamper and relax you in the finest of ways.

Casa Colina, located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico in Jalisco (one of Mexico’s safest states), is considered one of Mexico’s most stunning private villas, ideal for girlfriend getaways, bridal parties, honeymoons, couples getaways, and family reunions.

So, if you’re open to spending a pretty peso, families looking for that perfect getaway this summer can book at the ultra-luxe Casa Colina. From snorkeling and diving to horseback riding, there’s never a shortage of things to do in Mexico. The food, the beauty, the culture… we keep looking for a similar alternative nearby and we’re always hard pressed to find it. The level of service and the cuisine alone have its neighbors beat.

I could snuggle into this...
I could snuggle into this…

The secluded villa, with its own private entrance, staff and chef, has six impeccable junior and master suites with balconies, Jacuzzi tubs and more, making Casa Colina an ideal destination for small or larger-sized couples, friends, or families. Descriptions of Casa Colina’s guestrooms, which have panoramic views of the ocean and mountains, include:

Laguna Suite: Master bedroom suite with a California King bed, shower, Jacuzzi tub, private garden, breakfast table, and plush loungers.

Sueno Suite: Master bedroom suite with a California King bed, shower, Jacuzzi tub, outdoor shower, and private garden.

Oceano Suite: Master bedroom suite with a California King bed, shower, and a walkout balcony.

Luna Suite: Master bedroom suite with a California King bed, shower, and a walkout balcony.

Estrella Suite: Junior bedroom suite with a California Queen bed, shower, Jacuzzi tub, and walkout balcony.

Vista Suite: Corner bedroom suite with two queen beds, shower, Jacuzzi tub, and a walkout balcony.

Casa Colina
Casa Colina

In addition to its spacious rooms, Casa Colina has several on-site amenities including:

  • Expansive outdoor terrace area with infinity-edge pool, blue-tiled Jacuzzi, gourmet BBQ and plush lounge chairs and umbrellas.
  • Surround-sound home theatre with a 65” Panasonic plasma TV, satellite receiver and DVD player.
  • Fitness center with state-of-the-art machines and fold-back windows with views of the ocean and mountains. Chilled towels and water are also available.

Spend the morning and early afternoon lounging by the villa’s infinity-edge pool overlooking the mountains and ocean and dining on a gourmet lunch served poolside and created by the villa’s private chef. After lunch, staff tidy up the villa so mom and dad don’t have to lift a finger and can enjoy an afternoon of adventure, including:

  • Snorkeling, diving and fishing in the sea. Families can also kayak and horseback ride along the area’s miles of unspoiled beaches and breathtaking lagoons.
  • Visiting the five million-year-old Colima volcano.
  • Touring the quaint town of Barra full of local flavor and authentic shops, as well as seeing the surrounding areas including the famous Playa La Audiencia on Santiago Peninsula (the beach where Bo Derek’s movie “10” was filmed).
  • And golfing at the nearby AAA four-diamond Isla Navidad Grand Bay Resort where families can also play tennis and horseback ride and much more.

For dinner, return to Casa Colina for sunset cocktails and hors d’oeuvres arranged by the villa’s staff and then enjoy specially made dinner in one of Casa Colina stunning dining areas, including the chic indoor/outdoor Top of the World Palapa with a custom-built Estrella chandelier, fully-stocked bar and 250-degree views of the mountains and ocean and the Lagoon View Lounge with a hand-laid brick cathedral ceiling and Balinese furnishings.

After dinner, your staff can set up the villa’s entertainment system to play music out on the patio by the pool or they can pop in a movie for the family to enjoy Casa Colina’s surround-sound home theatre with a 65” Panasonic plasma TV.

Closest airports include regular domestic flights from Guadalajara (30 minutes) and Mexico City (50 minutes), and Playa de Oro International Airport is just 25 minutes away.

Nightly rates to rent the private Casa Colina villa high above the turquois waters of the Pacific Ocean, include a low-season rate this summer, through September 30, 2012: $2,900/night.

Mid season rate October 30, 2012 – November 30, 2012: $3,800 (also offered February 1, 2013 – April 30, 2013)

High season rate from December 1, 2012 – January 31, 2012: $4,800.

Rates include airport pickup and drop-off, chef, staff, laundry but exclude food, beverages and phone, which are charged at actual cost without markup. A 50% deposit to secure booking is required. Balance payable 14 days prior to booking. Security and provisioning deposit equivalent to one night’s rate.

Casa Colina also offers a 5% discount per room not needed. So, for example, if a group only had eight people in their party and required four rooms, they would get a 10% discount (5% per room).

Tel: 312-961-3280

Marrakech on my mind

The Great Getaway Medina
The Great Getaway Medina

Located in the heart of the meandering streets of the souk, The Great Getaway Medina is the perfect picture of what one might hope for on a trip to exotic Marrakech. An intimate six-room property, housed in a former Riad, the magic begins the moment you enter the grand circular courtyard with high columns and arches, detailed craftsmanship and fluttering white curtains.

Nothing like sitting in the floor in style...
Nothing like sitting on the floor in style…

The style is carried throughout the rest of this intimate abode with jeweled tones on walls and handcrafted furniture dotted around. But up on the roof is where it really feels like Aladdin’s paradise with views of the ornate historic part and the Atlas Mountains, and the aroma of spices wafting from the grill. Choose from kebabs or fresh seafood to Moroccan staples such as beef tagines with dried plums or home style terrines.

Marrakech on your mind too?

From 150EURO

The Westward Look: Great Memorial Weekend Deal

The Westward Look Pool
The Westward Look Pool

Some of my fondest memories of childhood include visits to the once dusty old cowboy town of Tucson, Arizona to visit my grandparents. Seeing them was always an experience. They lived in this crazy desert house with wallpaper printed with lush leaves and tropical trees so the living room always felt like a bit of an oasis in the dry desert. When we didn’t stay the night there, we’d hole up at the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa and something about the place always felt simply southwestern and cozy.

So, they’re inviting other vacationers to start summer off right in the center of the high desert too. On offer? A rejuvenating 3-day Memorial Day weekend at Tucson’s finest resort. You and your honey or whole family can do like we used to do. Swim, watch dive-in movies, DJs, drink specials, delicious seasonal dining…

The Desert Style of The Westward Look
The Desert Style of The Westward Look

Westward Look Resort will kick off the weekend fun on Saturday, May 26 with DJ music and drink specials at the Oasis Pool, one of three resort pools and a new summer poolside menu will keep hunger at bay without taking the family away from the outdoor fun. Poolside drink specials will continue throughout the weekend with dive-in movies will entertain the family at dusk on both Saturday and Sunday by the Oasis pool.

Also on Saturday, The Lookout Bar & Grille, one of the resort’s two on-site restaurants, will feature drink specials and live classic rock music from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The Lookout Bar & Grille serves up comfort food with a contemporary twist – such as the Prickly Pear Chicken Sandwich or the Sonoran Cobb Salad – in a casual indoor/outdoor dining atmosphere enhanced by mountain and city views. All weekend long, Lookout Bar & Grille will serve lunch and dinner, while the resort’s award-winning 4-Diamond GOLD restaurant will offer breakfast all weekend, and dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. GOLD’s Executive Chef James Wallace offers contemporary American cuisine enhanced with fresh herbs and spices (many from the resort’s own Chef’s Garden).

Only $100 per night! The resort is also offering an “Extend Your Weekend” incentive where guests who check in Friday and stay 3 nights receive a late checkout (6 p.m.) on Monday at no extra charge.

Sydney – An LGBT Mardi Gras Experience

Wave Your Equality Flag!
Wave Your Equality Flag!

In celebration and support of Marriage Equality and Civil Rights FOR ALL – regardless of gender, sexuality, color, creed, (or the religious institutions that attempt to use an omnipotent invisible power as an excuse to limit the rights of wonderful, loving human beings) – here is a brand spankin’ new post on Sydney, an LGBT Mardi Gras Experience by Max Kelerstein, social@Ogilvy’s Digital Strategist Extraordinaire and LGBT Travel Guru.

Kylie Minogue at Mardi Gras Sydney
Kylie Minogue at Mardi Gras Sydney

Ever thought about escaping winter’s bitter cold for some hot summer fun? If you answered with a resounding ‘yes’, like me, then you must consider going to Sydney’s Mardi Gras. Did I mention it’s all gay? I just came back from experiencing the gayest Mardi Gras celebration on earth and it all happens Down Under. This year, celebrated Australian artist and gay icon Kylie Minogue was the guest of honor – and although I’m not a huge fan – you can imagine how crazy Australians reacted at seeing her in the parade and ensuing parties. Previous years’ guests have included Rupert Everett, Margaret Cho, Adam Lambert, and Lily Tomlin, among others.

Just chillin in Sydney
Just chillin in Sydney

The celebrations last for about 2 weeks with a whole range of events including a film festival, concerts, cultural events, and must-see parties.  One of these was the Sydney Harbour Party, a 6-7 hour event on a beautiful venue that overlooks that stunning Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Then there’s the parade, similar to what a NY Pride parade would be. People from all over the world come to Sydney for this celebration, generating over A$30 million for the state’s economy. Not too shabby.

Besides the official Mardi Gras activities, the variety of gay bars and clubs around Oxford Street provided plenty of nightly entertainment. Midnight Shift, my favorite of the gay clubs there, had one of the best drag shows I have seen, featuring choreographed performances by three glamorous queens and two beautiful back up dancers. The beaches are also a must go and South Bondi Beach is the place to be seen, though for a more local crowd (and HOT surfers), follow the rocky path to Tamarama beach. Whether you get a tan at the beaches or you party the night away at one of the many parties and clubs, Sydney should be on your top list of places to visit for LGBT travel – just remember you need a visa (that’s very easy to get)… and plenty of sun block!

Max Kelerstein - LGBT Travel Correspondent
Max Kelerstein – LGBT Travel Correspondent

By Max Kelerstein

Twitter: @TheMaxK

If you’re interested in another LGBT travel story, check out my Tel Aviv post.