The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

coast with fresh seafood. Guests board small wooden boats to ex­plore the la­goon, man­groves, sea caves and stun­ning beaches.

DIN­ING IN AND OUT: Ex­ec­u­tive chef An­to­nio Tri­denti over­sees or­ganic menus in the ocean­view restau­rant and beach club, with loads of lo­cal fish in the off­ing. Try the red snap­per cooked in ba­nana leaf. Re­gional dishes in­clude paste­les en hoja de yuca (spiced chicken in a cas­sava-leaf cas­ing); leave stom­ach space for the baba juana with Do­mini­can liqueur, caramelised ba­nana, cof­fee and cin­na­mon.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Fancy a ca­reer change? Aman­era staff can tee up a three-day cigar­mak­ing course at a nearby cen­tury-old fac­tory. Af­ter­wards you’ll re­ceive a cer­tifi­cate from the La Aurora Ci­gar In­sti­tute. Or you might pre­fer a sim­ple fac­tory tour and one-hour train­ing ses­sion with mas­ter blen­der Senor Manuel Inao.

CHECK­ING IN: From $US950 ($1300) a night. More:

ALSO TRY: Tris­ara, Phuket; The Nam Hai Hoi An, Viet­nam; Banyan Tree Lang Co, Viet­nam; Aman­yara, Turks & Caicos.

CHRISTINE McCABE Costa Rica’s Na­yara Ho­tels is adding a year­round lux­ury tented camp to its in­ven­tory, the first of its kind in Cen­tral Amer­ica; in­spired by sim­i­lar camps in Africa, Na­yara Tented Re­sort, set high in the moun­tains, fea­tures 24 tented suites each with its own plunge pool filled from nearby hot springs • The big win­ners from the Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional/Star­wood Ho­tels & Re­sorts merger, forming the largest ho­tel com­pany in the world, are likely to be the mem­bers of the com­pa­nies’ pre­ferred-guest pro­grams, who will even­tu­ally have ac­cess to 1.1 mil­lion rooms in 5500 ho­tels across the world • Swire Ho­tels, op­er­a­tors of Hong Kong’s The Up­per House, will open an­other ho­tel next April as part of a $US2 bil­lion de­vel­op­ment in Miami’s Brick­ell dis­trict; the EAST Miami will fea­ture 352 gue­strooms and res­i­dences, all with bal­conies and views of the city and Bis­cayne Bay • In NSW, Best Western has bol­stered its Hunter Val­ley net­work with the ad­di­tion of the re­cently up­graded Hunter Get­away in Ruther­ford, 40km from New­cas­tle; the $1 mil­lion makeover of all 62 gue­strooms in­cludes LED tele­vi­sions and Ne­spresso ma­chines and ex­tras such as free Wi-Fi ac­cess.

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