Category Archives: Family

Hit the Seasonal Fast-Forward Button

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Ah, March. Those of us who reside in the Northern Hemisphere, can already see the soft glow of sunlight at the end of the long winter tunnel. We say to ourselves, “I made it! Spring is on the way!”

But when we look out the window, we notice the wind blow through bare tree branches dripping with rain. Then we step outside to feel the warm sun, only to receive the sting of the still-frosty air on our faces. Reluctantly, we wrap our scarf tighter around our necks. Sigh. It’s still winter.

Meanwhile somewhere else in the world looks like this:

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And people are sipping on drinks that look like this:

Costa Rica travel

Before you say to yourself, “that’s not fair”, take a moment to imagine your feet outside of wooly socks and rain boots, toes sinking in the sand, a ripple of seawater washing over them. The setting sun still feels warm on your skin.

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Despite the remaining cold and dark days, March is the perfect month to hit the fast-forward button and begin dreaming about summer in Costa Rica or Ecuador. During this time of year, planning your dash down south is a clever way to cheat the seasons and kick-start your warm, summertime soul.

What are you waiting for?  Fast-forward to summer and contact our expert Trip Designers today.

 

GreenSpot.travel kicks off tenth anniversary celebration, welcoming new president and managing director

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Tamarindo Beach, Costa Rica

Press Release:

GreenSpot.travel, a leading experiential travel designer for custom eco-luxe vacations, has kicked off its tenth anniversary celebration with the announcement that the company has expanded its team, welcoming Jeremy Sampson and Selena Solis to senior leadership positions.

Other announcements for this year include the recent expansion of trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, the planned unveiling of a reimagined website featuring GreenSpot’s growing list of destinations, and a special-access custom anniversary trip to be announced in coming weeks.

Galapagos Islands travel

In his new role with GreenSpot, Sampson oversees operations, destination development, and implementation of the company’s marketing strategy. A travel industry veteran who has worked in more than a dozen countries, Sampson balances a diverse set of cross-functional management skills with experience in sustainable tourism, social enterprise development, and community engagement. Sampson joined GreenSpot after a five-year stint at international NGO Sustainable Travel International, where he was most recently vice president of partnership development.

Solis, a native Costa Rican born and raised in San Jose, has worked in the travel industry for more than 25 years, focusing on trip operations and travel planning for upscale travelers and special interest guests, making her an essential asset to the team. Before joining GreenSpot, Solis managed an inbound tour operator and spent time exploring Nicaragua while working at Morgan’s Rock Ecolodge. In her new role, Solis oversees in-country operations for GreenSpot Costa Rica.

Ecuador HummingbirdSampson and Solis join a staff that includes company founders Irene and Richard Edwards, both of whom are Conde Nast Top Traveler Specialists for Costa Rica and continue to play integral roles at the company. GreenSpot is also a 2016 Trusted Travel Expert for Costa Rica on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List.

“We are thrilled to have Jeremy and Selena join the team,” says Irene Edwards. “Their expertise in the tourism industry, strong leadership skills, and deep commitment to meaningful personal and professional relationship building make them both valued assets to our team as we evolve.”

While Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua have been GreenSpot’s geographic focus to date, the company is thoughtfully expanding based on customer demand and enthusiasm for exploring new places. New destinations recently launched include Iceland, the Yucatan Peninsula (Mexico), and Ecuador and the Galapagos. All destinations were selected based on extensive research and relationship building that align with GreenSpot’s values, including high standards of quality and social responsibility.

GreenSpot was founded on the idea that travel should support conservation and the well-being of destination residents. The GreenSpot team has deep experience in sustainable travel including community engagement, enterprise development, and best practices in responsible tourism.

“Our wish is that travelers are able to learn about conservation, biodiversity, and culture while experiencing just the right mix of adventure and relaxation they desire from a getaway,” says Sampson. “GreenSpot makes a point of getting to know the communities, companies, and local business people we work with, and we only recommend accommodations and activities that we have experienced and are aligned with our values.”

About GreenSpot.traveltree frog, Costa Rica

GreenSpot partners with travelers through its patented Trip Design approach to design customized vacations and unrivaled ecotourism experiences in destinations like Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Iceland. GreenSpot trips inspire meaningful exchanges with people and places, and leverage the top-rated boutique hotels, eco-lodges, and activity providers. As a result, GreenSpot clients embark on vacations that align with their values, including high standards of quality and social responsibility. GreenSpot has been a Condé Nast Traveler Top Costa Rica Specialist since 2006 and is included on Wendy Perrin’s 2016 WOW List as a Trusted Travel Expert for Costa Rica. www.greenspot.travel

Ecuador: Why 2016 is the Year to Go

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Why 2016 is the year to go

Have you been postponing those New Year’s resolutions? What about the one where you finally book that trip of a lifetime? Procrastination is not usually your friend, but if you’ve been putting off a dream trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, waiting until now might have been a blessing in disguise.

Ecuador has always had a lot going for it, but the destination has stepped up its game in recent years, and last October it was named South America’s leading tourist destination at the World Travel Awards!

Here are a few reason why we think Ecuador is a 2016 hotspot:

Better Accessibility with New Flights

Starting in February, discount airline Jet Blue will fly nonstop from Fort Lauderdale to Quito. Also, Ecuador’s premier airline, TAME, recently introduced nonstop flights from New York to Guayaquil. Flying to Ecuador only takes a few hours from the southern USA. You can get there easily from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Atlanta and New York. And if you’re headed to the Olympics in Brazil this year, you could seamlessly make Ecuador a stopover!

Quito’s Renovations

Ecuador’s capital city is complimenting its UNESCO heritage charm with some 21st century renovations. A handy new metro system* is opening this year, conveniently carrying people from the bus station to all of the important and historic districts across town. Coupled with a new, conveniently located airport and revamped train station, there is a fresh glow to Quito’s old-world appeal. Many colonial treasures remain in the heart of this city, surrounded by towering mountain peaks and volcanoes that call out to adventure enthusiasts.

Quito, Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Increase in Galapagos Penguins

Unlike their cold-water-relatives, Galapagos penguins are special because they have adapted to the warmer climate of the islands. Expert conservationists created shady nesting sites for this extremely rare and most endangered penguin species, and this has resulted in a doubling of their population. If you’ve ever wanted to see them, or perhaps even swim with them, you now have twice the opportunity!

Galapagos Islands cruise

Galapagos Islands Family Cruise

The Cultural Experience you Crave

There is a growing desire for more authentic and meaningful holiday experiences like the ones we offer at GreenSpot. This means travelers are seeking out destinations with significant cultural draw. Ancient traditions are alive and well across Ecuador. Stumbling upon authentic cultural encounters is as easy as strolling through a bustling market. Strike up a conversation with weavers who are making Panama hats – which are not only a hot fashion trend, but are in fact Ecuadorian.

authentic Ecuador town

Colorful Ecuador

Go Green in 2016!

For Ecuador, ‘going green in 2016’ is not just a catchy rhyme. Their Ministry of Tourism has recently adopted sustainability standards for the country’s tourism sector. This means that the country recognizes the importance of working toward sound tourism policies and will actively protect Ecuador’s heritage so that future generations can benefit from it. Also, responsible-minded travelers have plenty of award-winning, green hotels to choose from in Ecuador.

Ecuadorian hacienda

Ecuadorian hacienda

Contact us to discuss your 2016 dream trip to Ecuador.

*Updated January 25, 2016: Sadly, like many transportation and construction projects, we have received news that the completion of Quito’s new metro has been delayed.  However, it is coming and we will keep you updated!

Ten Incredible Things to do in Ecuador

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10 incredible things to do in Ecuador

Ecuador lies in a privileged location, right in the middle of the world. This allows for mega-biodiversity to exist within a relatively small country. Not only can you travel from the mountains to the jungle in the same day, but you also have the opportunity to be exposed to thousands of species of plants, birds, insects, mammals and other creatures. In fact, the country is often described as a collection of four worlds in one, made up of the coast, Andes Mountains, Amazon Jungle and Galapagos Islands.

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Compiled of numerous protected areas, visitors can experience this rich flora and fauna first-hand while enjoying a wide range of activities, from wild adventures like river rafting and mountain biking to peaceful bird watching, horseback riding and cooking classes. For those who delight in wildlife and cultural tradition, a Galapagos cruise combined with a trip to Otovalo Market (South America’s largest!) while staying in a beautiful hacienda in the highlands, might be the perfect combination.

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Here is a list of 10 incredible moments you can enjoy on a GreenSpot trip to Ecuador:

Galapagos Islands Cruise

The Galapagos Islands receive an abundance of well-deserved hype, so they pretty much speak for themselves. Even a wildlife novice can’t help but enjoy the close encounters with dancing and whistling Blue Footed Boobies or the opportunity to swim and frolic with penguins and sea lions, all  while cruising from island to enchanted island in the comfort of a luxurious vessel.

Galapagos travel

Horseback Riding in the Andean Highlands

Donning chaps and a poncho, take a ride like a true Ecuadorian chagra through pristine valleys of the Andean Highlands. As Cotopaxi Volcano looms in the distance, you have the chance to walk, trot, or gallop your way across the open terrain, on the outskirts of Cotopaxi National Park.

horseback riding Ecuador Andean Highlands

Downhill Mountain Biking in Cotopaxi National Park

If horseback riding is a bit tame for your wild spirit, you are sure to enjoy a thrilling bike ride through the extraordinary beauty of Cotopaxi National Park. Wild horses and wild flowers surround the rugged trails as you bump your way down the mountain, returning to a cozy hacienda at the end of the ride.

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Hike!

There are countless opportunities for hiking on mainland Ecuador and even short hikes throughout the Galapagos Islands. Whether it’s along the craggy foothills of the Andes, through the verdant rainforest, or over volcanic lava rock, we highly recommend packing those hiking boots and meandering along Ecuadorian trails.

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Shop at Otavalo Market

Woven textiles, panama hats, jewelry, and ponchos are just a few of the items that might tempt you at this marvelous bazaar of artisan goods. However, it’s the vibrant colors and display of cultural pageantry that you’ll take home and cherish for a lifetime.

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Kayak Through the Amazon Jungle

Imagine the jungle sounds that will surround you as your kayak glides through the twisting tributaries of the Amazon. Binoculars around your neck, there is no better way to observe the abundance of wildlife that inundates the rainforest.

Kayak Amazon Ecuador

Explore Quito’s Historic Plazas

Founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, Quito is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sitting at a little over 9,000 feet, the air is crisp and skies are blue as can be. Quaint alleyways, pigeon-filled plazas, and ancient architecture are found around every bend, and there is enough to see to fill a few days of wandering.

Quito Ecuador

Visit the Middle of the World

Don’t pass up the opportunity to straddle the equator. It isn’t every day that you have the chance to stand with each foot in a different hemisphere. This is possible at the Middle of the World Monument, not too far from Quito.

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Stay in a Beautiful Hacienda

Ecuadorian haciendas frequently date back to the 16th century and have generations of stories to tell. Many are still working farms, and you can soak up the atmosphere and chagras (cowboys) way of life, as you learn about their history and enjoy the surrounding gardens and fertile land.

Hacienda Cusin Ecuador

Get to Know the Locals

As a tour operator with a mission to create meaningful connections with people and communities, we consider this to be a vital part of any travel experience. The hospitality of the Ecuadorian people makes it easy and enjoyable to discover the soul of this country through personal encounters with the local people.

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All of this and more can be found in our sample Ecuador itineraries. As always, we can customize your trip to suit your desires. We’d love to talk to you about your Ecuador travel dreams. Contact us to find out how we can help you get there.

Sunset Saturdays (aka #SunsetSaturdays)

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Costa Rica sunset

Photo courtesy of GreenSpot traveler, Eric Asch

sunset and palm trees

Palm trees: A sunset’s best friend

Every day, in every part of the world, the sun falls below the horizon. This happens rain or shine, in summer and through winter. We might be stating the obvious; however, the spectacle of a truly beautiful sunset is something that most of us do not take for granted. In fact, I wonder if you can remember some of the most striking sunsets you have seen in your lifetime. I bet you can. You might even be able to remember what you did that day or something that made that moment special. Maybe you have spent time chasing a sunset or put a lot of thought into the best place to see the sun go down. You might even have a picture of a sunset that capped off a special day.

The beauty often requires no filter and perhaps the most splendid can be seen amid stormy skies, when the colors can reflect upon the clouds. Yet, most people would agree that it is less about the photography and more about the moment. It is true that each sunset is unique in color and hue, yet they are also unique to each onlooker. We are most interested in what is happening on the other side of that vibrant glow…a couple holding hands; friends sharing cocktails; a family relishing a much needed break; the traveler reflecting on the adventures of the day…

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Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand

For example, the photograph to the left is a favorite of mine. Usually the one pressing the shutter, I am rarely the subject of a photograph, yet my husband snapped this picture of me (left), gazing at the sunset on the Thai island of Ko Pha Ngan. I remember, I was not only captivated by the beauty of the sky, but by the overwhelming gratitude I had for that moment. This photograph always reminds me of that feeling.

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Costa Rica sunset

A sunset often generates a sense of tranquility that many of us wish we could capture more often. This is what Sunset Saturdays are all about. If you can’t be on the beach, with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand, we hope to offer you the next best thing: A moment to daydream. You might be reminded of a beautiful sunset you have witnessed in the past (and we hope you might send it our way!) or you might be dreaming up your next adventure, to a place where sunsets blaze orange and red every night. For a moment, you can transport yourself there. Breathe and surrender to the daydream, conjuring up ways to make it a reality.

Let us help you get there! And when you do, please send us a photo! We hope that the next sunset photograph we receive is from your happiest of places.

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