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Popular travel guide book series Lonely Planet has released their lists of “Top Ten Countries” and “Top Ten Cities” for the coming year.

Some of these “hot” destinations will be out of reach for most of us (Malaysia, Nepal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc.) but some are surprisingly accessible. According to the experts, this just might be the year to visit Germany, Greece, Portugal, Charleston (South Carolina), or Cork (Ireland).

I’m especially pleased to see two of my planned 2010 destinations on the list — I’ll be visiting Cuenca, Ecuador in May and Vancouver, Canada in July!

And, if you’re interested in the “Best Value Destinations” for 2010, Lonely Planet has a list for that too. It includes such popular spots as Mexico, London and Las Vegas. I absolutely concur that there are bargains to be found in all three of those destinations, so give me a call and we’ll have you on your way!

After the one-two punch that Mexico suffered this year (the drug violence and the swine flu scare) their tourism business was really hurting, so it’s nice to see some good news in the media:

The Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau recently reported that hotel occupancy for July was at 81%.

I guess the word is getting out that Mexico is still a great vacation destination, and there are some amazing deals to be had this year as hoteliers try to lure travelers back to Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and west coast destinations like Cabo and Puerto Vallarta.

I know I’ve been seeing rates at less than $1,000 per person (including air) for a one week stay in a nice all-inclusive in the Riviera Maya. How can you not jump at that?

In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere and missed this trend, destination weddings are huge right now, and Mexico is a very popular location for these events.

In Cancun and the Riviera Maya, it seems that just about every resort now offers wedding ceremonies in beachfront gazebos or right on the beach itself. The problem is that if you’re Catholic, and looking for a consecrated church or chapel, your options are much more limited.

But I have good news!  Real Resorts has opened Cancun’s only Roman Catholic resort chapel on the grounds of the Gran Caribe Real Cancun. The all-glass beachfront chapel, consecrated by the local Bishop,  is available to couples staying at the 477-suite family-oriented property, or at the adjacent adults-only Royal Cancun. The resort offers a broad range of wedding options, from the most simple intimate ceremony to a lavish celebration, and they can even offer weddings on Sundays (when priests are usually not available).

If you’re interested in finding out more, give me a call.

And, if you’re more interested in the Pacific coast of Mexico, fear not! I recently toured a lovely resort in Cabo San Lucas that has a beautiful little on-site chapel.   Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach feels like a Mexican hacienda, and the chapel, while not beachfront, is so authentically Mexican with its carved wood pews and quiet courtyard that I’d get married there in a minute!

Now that the swine flu hype is over, the cruise lines have returned to Mexican ports, and U.S. citizens have been given the “all clear” to return to destinations like Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos, there are some amazing deals out there!

Secrets silversands

I just got an email today about a “buy one night get one free” promotion at Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun — a sophisticated five-star, adults-only, all-inclusive resort. The promotion runs through the summer, and when I priced out a four-night stay in July (with air from Boston), it came to just $450 per person!

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway this summer, you need to give me a call. I toured this resort last September, and it’s a beauty. It feels like a little piece of South Beach transplanted from Miami to Mexico. And at those prices, it’s a steal!

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