Top picks in Florida travel

A run­down of des­ti­na­tions that have re­cently won awards.

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Rod Stafford Hag­wood SouthFlorida.com

Ev­ery­one knows that South Florida is a trav­eler’s par­adise with a va­ri­ety of tourist ex­pe­ri­ences, tours and re­sorts that are so much fun even lo­cals take part.

Here’s a run­down of SoFlo des­ti­na­tions in Mi­ami, Key West, Boca Ra­ton, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach and Singer Is­land that have re­cently won travel awards.

Key West makes a great trip ac­cord­ing to TripAd­vi­sor

Cool-to-kitschy Key West was named one of “Amer­ica’s Top Des­ti­na­tions for Travel Ex­pe­ri­ences,” ac­cord­ing to TripAd­vi­sor.com trav­el­ers. Florida’s south­ern­most point landed at No. 3, right be­hind Kauai, Hawaii, and Se­dona, Ariz. It’s worth not­ing that in the “Best Des­ti­na­tions in the World for Ex­pe­ri­ences” re­leased in Oc­to­ber, Key West came in at an im­pres­sive 10th place, mix­ing it up with in­ter­na­tional tourist pow­er­houses in Costa Rica, Nor­way, New Zealand, Rus­sia and Greece.

Specif­i­cally, trav­el­ers re­sponded to the Conch Repub­lic’s Sun­set Sail in Key West with cock­tails and hors d’oeu­vres (KeyWestSe­bago.com), Small Group Kayak and Snorkel Eco Tour (Hon­estEco.org) and Para­sail­ing in Key West (KeyWestSe­bago.com).

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to TripAd­vi­sor.com.

Ever­glades Na­ture Tours gets GetYourGuide honor

Red­lands-based Ever­glades Na­ture Tours was named “Best Ac­tive and Ad­ven­ture Tour” in North Amer­ica in Novem­ber by GetYourGuide.com.

“Our tours are small groups, less than 10 peo­ple go out on a small boat,” ex­plains Mer­ijo “M.J.” Gon­za­lez. “And we take you … up to 97 miles on a trail. We don’t talk over the mo­tors. Our mo­tors are quiet; we’re not scar­ing the wildlife. We teach peo­ple about the veg­e­ta­tion, an­i­mal life, In­dian cul­ture. I say it’s an ed­u­ca­tional tour, but it’s a fun [and] in­ter­ac­tive tour.”

Gon­za­lez, who co-owns the com­pany with her hus­band Capt. Ozzie Gon­za­lez and Capt. Erik Lorentzen, says they also give walk­ing, swamp buggy, ca­noe/kayak, game trail, hunt­ing/fish­ing and pole/flat bot­tom boat tours. And even bet­ter, the GetYourGuide win has been good for busi­ness. “I would say we’ve seen about a 5 per­cent in­crease in book-

ings,” she adds.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to Ever­gladesNa­tureTours.com or Awards.GetYourGuide.com.

Condé Nast Trav­eler gives ma­jor props to Palm Beach County re­sorts

Six re­sorts in the Palm Beaches have been rec­og­nized as the “Top Re­sorts in Florida” in the Condé Nast Trav­eler’s 31st an­nual Read­ers’ Choice Awards. Of the 30 prop­er­ties named, the ones in Palm Beach County in­clude:

No. 10: Boca Ra­ton Re­sort and Club in Boca Ra­ton

No. 11: Eau Palm Beach Re­sort and Spa in Manala­pan

No. 14: Palm Beach Mar­riott Singer Is­land Beach Re­sort and Spa in Riviera Beach

No. 18: Boca Beach Club in Boca Ra­ton

No. 24: The Break­ers in Palm Beach

No. 29: Four Sea­sons Re­sort Palm Beach in Palm Beach

Jorge Pes­quera — the pres­i­dent and CEO of Dis­cover The Palm Beaches, the tourism mar­ket­ing cor­po­ra­tion for Palm Beach County — says that the re­gion did well in the sur­vey re­leased in Oc­to­ber be­cause they have been at it for a long time.

“The Palm Beaches has some of the world’s best ho­tels and re­sorts, and we’ve been of­fer­ing unique, best-in-class ex­pe­ri­ences for trav­el­ers seek­ing the ul­ti­mate in lux­ury since the mid-1890s,” he ex­plains in an email in­ter­view. “Here, you can im­merse your­self in lux­u­ri­ous ac­com­mo­da­tions, fine din­ing, high-end shop­ping, and up­scale spas -- all within a glam­orous set­ting of the At­lantic Ocean and South Florida’s pic­turesque In­tra­coastal Wa­ter­way.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to ThePalmBeaches.com or CNTrav­eler.com/rca.

Look­ing for a luxe spa? Check out Mi­ami’s Man­darin Ori­en­tal

ForbesTrav­elGuide.com sent out incog­nito in­spec­tors to stay at dif­fer­ent re­sort prop­er­ties in or­der to de­ter­mine dif­fer­ent “Most Lux­u­ri­ous” win­ners. In this first an­nual ver­i­fied list that came out in Novem­ber, the Spa at Man­darin Ori­en­tal is one of 30 spas in six coun­tries that won an award (out of 269 spas el­i­gi­ble world­wide). But Osa Mallo, the di­rec­tor of the Man­darin’s spa and well­ness pro­grams, says this is just the lat­est recognition from Forbes.

“The Spa at Man­darin Ori­en­tal, Mi­ami has been rated a Forbes Five Star Spa for a decade, con­sis­tently pro­vid­ing qual­ity treat­ments and ser­vice to our guests,” she says in an email in­ter­view. “Ser­vices range from $160 for a sin­gle 50 minute mas­sage to $1,860 for a full day Cou­ples ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Mallo says that what makes the Spa at Man­darin Ori­en­tal in Mi­ami so lux­u­ri­ous is that it “… is an oa­sis on the se­cluded Claughton Is­land [among] the hus­tle and bus­tle of the down­town Brick­ell area. Span­ning over three floors, the Spa at Man­darin Ori­en­tal of­fers 17 treat­ment in­clud­ing six lux­u­ri­ous spa suites on a pri­vate floor. The suite floor fea­tures spa­cious treat­ment suites with sunken tubs and amaz­ing views of Bis­cayne Bay and the Mi­ami sky­line. Soft hues and ex­quis­ite ma­te­ri­als were used to cre­ate the am­biance such as bam­boo floors, Span­ish mar­ble and rice pa­per ac­cents, along with ki­mono dec­o­ra­tion and fra­grant in­cense.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to Man­dari­nOri­en­tal.com.

EVER­GLADES NA­TURE TOURS

Ever­glades Na­ture Tours was named one of the best tours in North Amer­ica by GetYourGuide.com.

BOCA RA­TON RE­SORT & CLUB

The Boca Ra­ton Re­sort and Club is one of six re­sorts in the Palm Beaches rec­og­nized by Conde Naste Trav­eler as “Top Re­sorts in Florida.”

DREAMSTIME/TNS

This is the South­ern­most Point marker in Key West. The Conch Repub­lic was named one of “Amer­ica’s Top Des­ti­na­tions for Travel Ex­pe­ri­ences” by TripAd­vi­sor.com.

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