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Where to Go in Mexico

June 27, 2018
For many Americans, there’s a safety in familiarity – not necessarily in a bodily harm way as much as a satisfaction one. When we hear the words “New York” or “Los Angeles” or “Jackson Hole,” we have an idea of the kind of experience waiting for us, since these cities and towns are portrayed in our media every day.

But when it comes to Mexico, there can be some confusion. Which town has the most beautiful beaches? (Spoiler: All of them.) Is Cancun fast-paced or more laid-back? If I want to golf, where do I go? Which city is the right one for your donors?

This week, we wanted to help for a moment by trying to demystify the selection process. Each destination in Mexico is different in one way or another, and we want to show you those differences so that you can pick the right travel package for your non-profit fundraising auction. Make no mistake: What follows doesn’t mean that there’s no golf in Cancun, or that you should go to Puerto Vallarta for its old city, but hopefully this guide can point you in the right direction.

We start with Cabo San Lucas, and according to Golf Digest, this might be the best place to play the sport in the entire country (just be ready to spend time in sand traps). The top four courses in the magazine’s ratings are here, as well as six of the top 10. It’s also a great place for younger donors looking for nightlife, especially in its El Centro neighborhood, and it’s also a top-rated fishing destination, according to Sport Fishing magazine.

A little slower, a little quieter, Puerto Vallarta is a different experience for travelers who may be used to the bustle of Cabo San Lucas or Cancun. Recent development in the area have increased the number of residents, but there’s still the spirit of its village days here, especially on the cobblestone streets of Old Vallarta.

A well-established hub of Mexican tourism, Cancun has plenty to do for people of all ages. It’s very developed as a city, meaning lots of high-end resorts, restaurants and shopping, but for those lovers of natural beauty, there’s always the Gulf of the Gulf of Mexico at which to stare. IT’s also the closest town on this list to the historic Chichen Itza.

Off its coast, Isla Mujeres is a gem as well, and it includes Playa Norte, a beloved beach that is often mentioned in conversations about the best beach in the world. Cozumel is a more developed version of an off-shore island: Larger, but with some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the country. The former is for people looking for a truly laid-back vacation (Isla Mujeres is too small for cars), while the latter is for those who could spend an entire weekend snorkeling or scuba diving.

Welcome to … Winter?

June 20, 2018
Mitch-Stuart offers all sorts of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that take advantage of the summer sun, and after a long winter in much of the country, that heat is often greatly appreciated. But some of our favorite destinations during the summer months are in their winters.

The coldest season at our destinations in the Southern Hemisphere doesn’t much resemble the snowy peaks of the Canadian Rockies, of course. But it might be the best time to visit, with temperate climates and plenty of activities to do.

When is the best summer destination a winter one? Perhaps when it’s one of these locations.

With its proximity to the equator, Bali’s winter tends to look a lot like its summer. Average temperatures over June, July and August is in the low 80s, while in December and January, those peaks go just to the high 80s. In fact, the easier way of thinking about the island paradise may be though two seasons: High and Low. The winter, as it is, makes up Bali’s High Season, when demand is greater, and that’s with good reason; June, July and August are three of the island’s driest months. And there’s plenty to do no matter the season – your clothes will just stay drier during the country’s “winter.”

May, June, July and August are the only months of the year in Johannesburg, South Africa when the average temperature stays below 70 degrees. If that’s as “cold” as it gets, then the photo safari that comes with our “South African National Geographic Adventure” package is a comfortable way to see the natural beauty and range of animal life of the South African bush. And when combined with a wine tour in Cape Town, the trip shows off South Africa at its winter best.

Unlike many of our other Southern Hemisphere destinations, Queenstown, New Zealand does have a winter hue during our summer months. Average temperatures don’t quite hit 60 degrees in June, July or August, and skiing is a possibility for the season; local favorite Coronet Peak is a highlight, with its stunning views of the basin. For those who don’t do downhill speed well, go for an uphill hike on Bob’s Peak for a gorgeous vista of Queenstown – or take the gondola to the top and go on a luge (more of a modified sled) run on one of the mountain’s two tracks.

Gifts (That Aren’t Ties) for Dad

June 13, 2018
Holiday shopping can always be difficult, and it’s easy to slip into cliché with our gift choices: Mom gets flowers, dad gets grill stuff. We’ve talked before about the gift of travel as an option for Mother’s Day, so now it’s time to talk about dear old dad, and where he may want to go.
Using our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages, your supporters can take care of their holiday shopping while also supporting their favorite charity. Your donors may have an idea of the types of destinations in which their fathers want to head, but if not, we have some suggestions.
Do your donors have dads that love the golf course? Have those supporters bought their fathers every type of driver or rangefinder on the market? Maybe it’s time for a bigger gesture, like a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina (where more than one million rounds are played each year, on 24 on-island courses) or Palm Springs, California (which is said to be the highest concentration of golf courses in the world). There are more than 20 options in our catalog directly tied to golfing, meaning there are plenty of destinations to provide scenic greenside backdrops.
If watching golf (or other sports) is more of dad’s speed, your donors can send Pops on the road with a ticket to one of the world’s greatest sporting events. That might be walking the course at Augusta National Golf Club during Masters weekend, being in the stadium for Super Bowl LIII, or sitting either Grandstand or Clubhouse seats for the Kentucky Derby. And if dad is a fan of a team from far away, we can grab tickets to any regular season NFL, NBA, NHL, baseball or even MLS game in the country, too.
The culinary arts are represented in our catalog as well, and if dad’s always in the kitchen, your donors can help him up his game with private lessons in some of the world’s most scenic locations. He can learn about Italian cuisine in Tuscany, how to make that perfect dish to pair with his favorite wine in Napa, or from a master of French cooking in Paris. Those old cookbooks will come alive again when dad discovers how to alter and update recipes, or precise knifework to make prep easier. Plus, he’ll be able to reward his thoughtful son or daughter with a great meal; it’s a trip that has something for everyone.

Take a Hike!

June 07, 2018
Hiking is now the most popular activity for so-called “adventure travelers," according to Travel + Leisure. And even the more sedentary tourist can enjoy a walk to get to a stunning vista.
Some of our favorite destinations, though, are just too hot during the summer for hiking. Places like Palm Springs and Las Vegas have beautiful trails, but with temperatures often in the triple-digits, to explore may be to invite heat stroke.
So what does the outdoors-y type do when the calendar turns to June? Thanks to our catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages, you can always find a great trip for your supporters who hike that provides both awe-inspiring scenery and reasonable temperatures.
The mountains where skiers tread all weekend often make great summertime hiking destinations. Telluride is certainly one of those; the southwestern Colorado town tops out at a 77-degree average for the month of July, and the forests surrounding the village make for great shade, as well. The Wasatch Trail is a big attraction, with its large looped path heading out around its namesake mountain, while Bear Creek Falls is an easier hike that yields views of both the town and a spectacular waterfall. Also, watch for wildflower season; July is a peak bloom period for all sorts of flowers along the trails and elsewhere.
With an average high temperature topping out at 73 degrees in the month of July, the summer may be the best time to visit Banff for people who don’t care for skiing and snowboarding. And the number of trails available means that there will be opportunities for both the veteran hiker (Cory Pass is a particular favorite, its 13-kilometer trail leading to a striking view of nearby Mt. Louis) and the rookie (the Moraine Lake Shoreline path shows off a string of 10,000-foot summits in the distance, and only requires 3 kilometers of work). And that’s without mentioning the trails that pass by or start at the stunning Lake Louise, with its emerald-colored waters and wide portfolio of summer-friendly outdoor activities.
South of the equator, of course, winter is the season about to kick off, but that might be the time to take advantage of the charms of Port Douglas. June and July are the only two months of the year during which the average temperature dips below 80 degrees (79 in June, 78 in July). Those two months are also dryer, on average, than Australia’s summer (our winter) months. And between sweeping views of the ocean and the nearby Daintree Rainforest, the region’s beauty is on full display during June, July and August.