A Review of SECRETS Playa Bonita in Panama

Panama03

The following post is written by Adam from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.  Adam recently vacationed at the new Secrets Playa Bonita in Panama, and shares insider access to the resort, excursions and his overall travel experience booked through Boscov’s Travel.

After Melissa, my wife, and I spent a week at the beautiful Secrets Silversands in the Riviera Maya, and being impressed with the Secrets brand, we decided to pick another for this year’s vacation. We decided we wanted to go somewhere other than Mexico and set about researching the opening of the Secrets resorts in Costa Rica and Panama at the end of 2015. With the assistance of a Boscov’s Travel specialist, we chose to vacation at Secrets Playa Bonita in Panama, as it beats being in Reading, PA when all it does is rain lately.

After the flight and breezing through customs we were picked up by Gamboa Tours for our private transfer to the resort. The resort is about 30 minutes from the Tocumen International Airport (PTY), and Panama City itself is a sight to behold. Our driver did a fantastic job of providing a brief history of Panama as well as information of the more famous buildings that populate the skyline. Panama seems to be in a state of transition, there was a lot of new construction going on everywhere, as well as the demolition of a lot of older buildings.

After making it through the city and crossing the Pacific approach of the Panama Canal on the Bridge of Americas, we finally arrived at Playa Bonita. As always, it’s nice to be greeted with a cold towel and glass of champagne. I don’t know how much refurbishing Secrets did to make it different from the old InterContinental property, but it felt like a Secrets. The property itself was lush and very well maintained and being surrounded by a jungle really gave the resort a sense of privacy.

Panama01

As someone that has spent every summer going to the “shore”, I am always judgmental of other beaches. The beach at Playa Bonita is ideal for swimming in the early morning during high tide, but recedes about 200 yards come low tide. Before our trip we read reviews of the resort and a reviewer recommended water shoes if you wanted to explore the beach during low tide. I would also recommend it, it was interesting to see live sand dollars, crabs, oysters, and exotic fish while exploring the beach and rocks exposed during low tide.

During our stay we decided to take the Gatun Lake Expedition excursion. The expedition begins on the edge of Gamboa, crossing the Chagres River, up to the Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal, while traveling next to ships passing through the canal. This adventure gave us the opportunity to visit several islands occupied by capuchins and howling monkeys, as well as observe numerous bird species. They said there might be sloths, but alas no sloths. It was exciting to see how the canal operates up close. Again our Gamboa Tours driver did a great job of providing information about the area of Gamboa during building of the canal, as well as taking us through the town that was once occupied by American engineers.

Our experience during this trip was great and we appreciated the recommendation from the Boscov’s Travel specialist. First off, the staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to provide us anything when we asked for it. Second, the resort itself from our room to the grounds were beautiful and pristine. And third, the atmosphere by the pools and beach were relaxing and invigorating.

Panama02

Panama03

 

The only thing that didn’t sit well with us during our stay was the restaurant schedule. I believe because of occupancy they decided to rotate opening and closings of restaurants. I realize that the resort is in its infancy, so to speak, but I really felt that could have done a better job in handling the restaurants. Thankfully the resort had exceptional room service and was greatly appreciated on the nights we didn’t wish to have dinner at the buffet.

Overall, the resort is a beautiful with a few kinks that still need to be worked out. Once those kinks are worked out, I believe that Playa Bonita would be a desired destination for anyone wishing to cross off Panama on their dream bucket list.

Panama07

If you’re ready to book your next all-inclusive vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Travel Agents Save Consumers Time & Money

greece

There are a variety of reasons to book your vacation with an agency. From having experienced travelers who can recommend resorts, to special deals accessible only to agents, to no cost consultations, there are a myriad of reasons why you should book your next trip with a travel agent.

Now, there’s even more data to suggest that you should book with an agent. The American Society of Travel Agents recently conducted a study that shows travel agents save consumers an average of $452 per trip plus four hours in travel planning. Considering nearly half of consumers book their trip online, there are billions of dollars that could be back in consumers’ pockets if they would have chosen to book with a travel agent. You can view the report here.

If you’re ready to book your next adventure and possibly save upwards of $900 per couple, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Adventure Tourism & Travel: What’s the Right Tour for You?

154e86bc0b91759f6ff328aac9cc8101

Travel isn’t always about relaxation. More and more, our clients are asking about adventure tourism options. A 2013 report showed that the demand for adventure travel services were exploding at a rate of 65% growth year over year. Adventure tourists want to see the US and the world, and experience it through exploration of the culture and natural beauty inherent of the locale.

There are many options for adventure tourism and navigating the different tours can become overwhelming. From different locations to activities, to the single young traveler or the family that want to explore, there’s an adventure to fit your preferences. Below, we give you a snapshot of options available in this emerging trend.

Adventures by Disney:


Good for: Families
Destinations: Asia, Africa, Australia, Central America, South America, North America, Europe
Pricing: From $1309 to $8809 as starting price point (not including airfare)
Format: Experienced Disney guides give you insider access to the local scene. Experience activities to take you closer to the culture of the location. From a scavenger hunt in the Louvre to horseback riding in the Rockies, activities are family friendly and enhanced by the magic of Disney.
Learn more here.

G Adventures


Good for: Young couples, 21-35 year olds, young independent travelers
Destinations: All regions of the world; from New Zealand to the Polar regions
Pricing: From $229 to $11,999 as starting price point (typically not including airfare)
Format: Experienced experts guide you around regions and countries in small groups. Choose your adventure based on physical activity from light to demanding. Sail in Havana, explore Mayan temples, camp in the desert, take the polar plunge in the Arctic, dance in Brazil, traverse the Great Wall, or take game walks in Africa.
Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Guided Tours of Africa and Exotic Locales


Good for: Adults
Destinations: Africa, India, Vietnam, Cambodia
Pricing: Email sblum@boscovs.com or call Sue at 610-779-8272
Format: Take a jeep ride through the African Safari or barge ride with the locals along a river in Vietnam. See beautiful wildlife and unspoiled terrain in some of the most beautiful parts of the world. With seasoned Boscov’s Travel guide Sue Blum, you’ll visit cultures that will broaden your understanding of the world.
Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Exclusive Journey West Tours


Good for: Young adults through mature travelers
Destinations: Alaska, Western US, Southern US
Pricing: From $2187 (not including airfare)
Format: Take in the breathtaking scenery, rich cultural history and wide-open spaces that have made tours of the west some of the most talked-about tours that we offer. Typically 9 and 10 day tours, discover the US with an experienced Journey West Tour Director. Tours include the colorful Colorado and New Mexico in autumn with a hot air balloon festival, a tour through the wilderness of Alaska experiencing the wildlife of land and sea, tours of the National Park System, and a music tour from Nashville to New Orleans. Experience America like never before.
Learn more here.

If you’re ready to take on your next adventure, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Is Wedding Planning Stressing You Out?

2

Destination Wedding and Honeymoon ImageIf you recently got engaged, you’ll love booking your Honeymoon & Destination Wedding with Boscov’s Travel!

Boscov’s Travel is your first stop to anywhere in the world.  Trust Boscov’s Travel for exceptional honeymoon and destination wedding services to fit within your budget. We are with you from the beginning of the planning process to the end (and everything in between).

 1  2  3

Budget Friendly, All-Inclusive Options

Honeymoon Registry

No Interest Financing Options

Your honeymoon or destination wedding may not be as expensive as you think! Let us know where you want to go, when you want to travel, and your budget! We’ll give you options and a complimentary quote.

Boscov’s Travel offers a Honeymoon Registry! We offer registry cards so your friends and family can gift you with payment towards your honeymoon! Learn more here.

The monthly payment of your honeymoon can be less than your cable bill. Use a Boscov’s credit card and receive 12 months interest free financing. Learn more here.

Need more reasons to book with Boscov’s Travel?

 

If you’re ready for your complimentary consultation with one of Boscov’s Travel Honeymoon and Destination Wedding Specialists, email travelrequest@boscovs.com, call 800-755-8020 or direct message us.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Cruise News, from Boscov’s Travel

We’re in the midst of Wave Season, the time of year when cruising is on everyone’s mind! Typically the best time of year to book a cruise is this time period from January to March because of great deals and exciting new offers coming from cruise lines. Though Wave Season is coming to an end, there’s still time to book a cruise and save BIG whether you sail this spring or late fall. We’re here to bring you the latest cruise news and deals from some of our favorite cruise brands.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line just announced their exclusive premier island destination in the Caribbean, Harvest Caye.  Starting in November 2016, Norwegian cruise ships will sail to this 75 acre oasis. Relax on the beach in your own private villa, sing “Margaritaville” as you enjoy the libation in Jimmy Buffet’s Landshark Bar & Grill, swim with the fishes in the world’s second largest barrier reef, explore the ancient Mayan archaeological site of Nim Li Punit, paddle board on the crystal clear waters, or enjoy time in the pool.

See applicable sailings and learn more here. Going on now through April 10, 2016, choose 2 Free at Sea offers when you book a balcony or stateroom. Free at Sea offers include limited beverages (open bar), specialty dining, shore excursions, or free wi-fi (all other bookings choose 1 offer). PLUS friends & family sail free and pay reduced deposits. Learn more here.

Ready to book? Call us at 800-755-8020 or visit boscovstravel.com (bookings can be made in person or over the phone).

Royal Caribbean 

Harmony of the Seas, the World’s largest cruise ship, is launching this May in Europe. From May until October, guests will have the opportunity to experience the best that the Western Mediterranean has to offer. Sail from Barcelona, Spain and visit ports in France, Italy and Spain. In November, the vessel sails to her permanent home in the Caribbean with departures from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Onboard, guests will experience big, bold adventures in perfect harmony.  Activities for the family include a kids aquapark and family-friendly sports zone. For the more adventurous, fly across the ship on the zip line, hang ten on the FlowRider surf simulator or plunge down a 10-story slide.

hm-slides-hero

Harmony of the Seas features seven neighborhoods including Central Park, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Boardwalk, Entertainment Place, Royal Promenade, Youth Zone and Pool & Sports Zone. Take in a comedy show or an aqua show in the Aqua Ampitheatre. Enjoy Columbus, The Musical!, multiply your thrills with Grease, or collaborate with friends to find hidden clues and Escape the Rubicon!

Break out the hashtags and post online with Voom, the only high-speed internet at sea. For the over 21 crowd, have your cocktail shaken or stirred by the Bionic Bar featuring two robotic armed bartenders.View the ship’s amenities here and get a sense of its size below: Harmony_Infographic

Going on now through April 4, receive 30% off every guest on every ship (yep, even the Harmony!). Learn more here.

Ready to book? Call us at 800-755-8020 or visit boscovstravel.com (bookings can be made in person or over the phone).

 

Other Cruise Deals

Celebrity Cruises – Spring Sale! For a limited time, receive fares from $799 + get free drinks + up to $300 to spend on board. Discover why Celebrity Cruises was voted Best Premium Cruise Line for the past 8 consecutive years. Learn more here.

Boscov’s Travel Select Cruises – Cruises curated from Boscov’s Travel Specialists with direct transfers from local Boscov’s locations. Earn on board credit and sail with confidence. Learn more here.

If there’s another cruise line you’d like to sail with, let us know and we can help you book it!

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

Planning a Summer Vacation?

Planning a summer vacation can become stressful. How much should you budget? What’s the availability of the rental? Will there be activities for the kids? Do you need to bring towels and bedding? Will you cut your vacation short to avoid the traffic? How far away do you want to be from the beach?

One of the benefits of booking an all-inclusive vacation is that the planning is done for you! Costs are upfront, so there is no need to budget above the initial price.

If you’re thinking about a vacation to the shore this summer for you and your family, now’s the time to consider ‘The Shore Without the Chores.’ With Boscov’s Travel and Apple Vacations, the vacation for you and your family to Mexico or the Dominican Republic may be less than half the price of a trip to the shore. With no cooking, no cleaning, and no laundry, it’s worth comparing an all-inclusive vacation to what you’d spend at the shore!

SWOTC 2016_2[2]

Download the flyer here – Shore-Without-The-Chore-Flyer-Apple-Vacations-March-2016

Dreams Sands Cancun Resort

Dreams La Romana Resort

Ready to book your vacation? Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury).  View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com or view more Apple Vacation packages here.

A Mom’s Perspective on Universal Studios & Walt Disney World

Stephanie, one of our customers from the Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania area, recently booked a 12 day trip with her family to Florida. Stephanie, her husband and three children took in all the sites and experienced both Universal Studios and Disney theme parks.

Below is Stephanie’s recap of her trip, as well as her tips for any families traveling to Florida amusement parks.

Universal Studios:

I am really glad we took four days to experience Universal Studios as we were able to re-ride our favorites and have some down time to swim in the pool. The hotel was beautiful. In the evening at the hotel, they had movies by the pool and a Hawaiian dancer and flame-thrower as entertainment. It was fascinating to watch and we were surrounded by the beautiful, tropical atmosphere. At the pool, a staff member frequently came around with fresh, warm towels and cucumbers for loungers to place on their eyes (thank goodness my kids were in the pool, they probably would have eaten them!). We were treated very well. The parks were within walking distance of our resort, and each morning and evening we had the opportunity to walk through the tropical gardens to go from hotel to the park.

Untitled design (11)
Scenic Hotel View at Universal Studios

The rides at Universal Studios and Island of Adventure were definitely more intense thrill-rides than what Walt Disney World generally offers. This was certainly better for the older kiddos. A great tip is to have lanyards to hold the tickets and my husband kept all the tickets in one lanyard making it so much easier in Universal Studios. This way, there was no waiting to find everyone’s tickets to show for the express lines and to take a train between the parks (Walt Disney World has the Magic Band wrist bands making it much easier). In terms of meals, we did stop by Mythos at Universal’s Islands of Adventure to eat, and though the online menu did not catch my eye, I am glad we stopped as they had more choices than listed online and the food was to die for!

 

Disney:

Then it was onto Disney. It was our third time there and we stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. The hotel will certainly be our choice next time as well. It was everything that I was hoping for… everything Disney! The family suites were perfect for us. The little kitchenette was even stocked with paper plates (with Mickey Mouse printed on the border of course), paper bowls, plastic-wrapped utensils, a can opener, tea, coffee, paper towels, and cups. It is amazing how they think of everything when designing the resorts. The pool area is next to the laundry area which is adjacent to the “Drop Off Bar.” I have never seen so many people happily do laundry (of course, while enjoying the drinks)!

Resort-B
Disney’s The Art of Animation Resort

I highly recommend making reservation at Beauty & the Beast’s Be Our Guest. It is magnificent! When you look out the windows, it appears as if it is snowing and the food was amazing.

MK-Be Guest-B
The Beast’s Dining Room at “Be Our Guest” Restaurant in Magic Kingdom

We went on our trip in late November, the week before Thanksgiving. The crowds were not bad during our vacation until the Monday before the holiday when you could tell that the Thanksgiving vacationers had arrived.

Walt Disney’s transport to the airport from the hotel was wonderful. We did not have to worry about transporting our luggage and the bus ride was nice.

It could not have been a better vacation and I’m happy our family got to experience both Universal Studios and the Disney parks. I certainly think Disney is more entertainment, Universal much more thrill ride, Magic Kingdom remains our favorite park. We did see the start of Avatar area being built at Animal Kingdom and the Disney Star Wars expansion in Disney – we look forward to experiencing it once it is completed. After our 12 days in Florida, I was wondering how soon we can get back! Thank you to Boscov’s Travel and Kerri from the Selinsgrove location at Susquehanna Valley Mall for all of her work… everything went absolutely flawless.

 

Tips:

Ordering the photo pass online ahead of time seemed expensive but was worth it! They made video clips, including story lines from various rides showing our family as we navigated around the park. The number of pictures we received was really great and I did not have to always worry about stopping the kids to get the perfect picture.

Epcot-B

Ordering Garden Grocer, a grocery delivery service, was fantastic! I got a text when the groceries were delivered to our Walt Disney World Resort. Yogurt and milk were kept in a fridge at front desk.  The website even offers a breakdown of resorts what will likely fit in the fridge, since each resort has different refrigerator sizes. Garden Grocer does offer a discount if you order 30, 60 or90 days ahead of time.  It really was worth it.

We regretted not bringing our stroller for this trip since we have a four year old, and the cost to rent for more than a day is crazy. When we were about to rent the stroller for an additional day, we saw umbrella strollers for sale for just $40. They had a cup holder, mesh bag for items, and a small canopy. We bought one and saved a lot of money instead of renting for an additional few days. It served its purpose and because of its relatively small size, we did not have trouble getting around people. It provided enough room for a four year old to rest and for us to place a few items in it as well.