A Casa del Mar villa at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
In addition to its wealth of historical, cultural and natural riches that have long attracted North Americans, Latin America has more than its share of niche-market offerings. For some clients, one of the following examples could be the be-all and end-all for a trip there, while for others it may be the item that tips a scale in a destination’s favor.
For die-hard ski enthusiasts who can’t wait for the North American slopes to open in November, the ski season in Chile is well under way. Improvements in the region include refurbished rooms at Portillo; new slopes, new adult and children training section and a gondola
installment at Valle Nevado; an additional lift in the Olympic Park Valley area at El Colorado, as well as a new section at the Colorado Chico snow park, called Urban Park; Parque Nieve, a program offering more affordable options for skiers at Farellones; and the new Alta Parva Snowpark by Acer on the Tortolas slope at La Parva, which has also expanded artificial snow production by 20 percent. You can find more news and package information at www.ski.com/chile-resorts and www.chileanski.com.
Golfers take note: To celebrate the resort’s 10th anniversary, Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo has launched a “Nocturnal Golf” tour with a private guide. Priced at $95 per person with a maximum of four players, the experience starts at 6 p.m. and includes a practice round at the driving range, plays at holes one and nine, plus a walk to Nacascolo Beach. The resort’s Golf Club is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, so golfers may catch a glimpse of nighttime wildlife such as howler monkeys and iguanas. The program is available until November 23.
In Colombia, the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course at TPC Cartagena at Karibana has generated some buzz since it opened less than two years ago, and now it is preparing to host a new PGA-sanctioned Web.com Tour in 2015. Part of the Karibana Beach Golf Condominium project, the course is also available to guests of the Occidental Grand Cartagena.
As part of its “May We Introduce You” campaign, ecotourism company Tropic has a treat for chocoholics: a 90-minute tasting tour at the new showroom of Ecuador’s indigenous chocolate company, Pacari, that made a clean sweep of the dark chocolate field in a 2013 international competition in London. Pacari is the first single-origin, 100 percent organic chocolate made entirely in Ecuador. The new tasting room scheduled to open at the end of the year is in Quito’s trendy, bohemian La Floresta neighborhood, home to several restaurants and boutique hotels.
Each guest on this tour receives a complimentary gift box of chocolate. Prices start at $107 per person for groups of two to four. (Current booking special: $54 per person through September.)
Global Volunteers, a private, non-profit organization partnering with local leaders in communities around the world, has launched International LGBT Volunteer Vacations and People-to-People programs. Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru are among the locales for these programs, offering LGBT tourists an opportunity to promote tolerance and understanding around the world as they enjoy cultural activities and work and share side-by-side with others from different ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientations, gender identities and religions.
When an Argentine Cardinal ascended to the Throne of St. Peter in March 2013, Buenos Aires launched a series of guided bus and walking tours of sites linked to the new pope. While these are still available for curious visitors, serious pilgrims among your clientele may prefer “Argentina: In the Footsteps of Pope Francis,” a nine-night program from 206 Tours.
Some highlights of the itinerary include Flores, birthplace to Pope Francis; Our Lady of Mercy Church, where he was baptized, and the adjoining school, St. Joseph’s, where he took his first communion and attended classes; Maximo of San Miguel College, where he studied and later taught philosophy and theology; Seminary Chapel, his former living quarter; and Lujan Cathedral, where more than six million pilgrims would travel each year to be blessed by then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. A number of other religious, historical and cultural sites are visited as well.
Departures are scheduled for December 2, 2014, and April 21 and December 1, 2015. Price is $4,299 per person based on airfare from New York (add-on fares from other cities are available) or $2,999 land-only. Also included are first-class hotel accommodations, most meals, sightseeing/admissions fees, tango lessons, services of professional local Catholic guides, daily mass and other spiritual activities. A Catholic priest is available for spiritual guidance.