Recommend May 2016 - (Page 50)

PHOTO COURTESY OF DISCOVERY COVE® 2016 Escape to Discovery Cove onsitereview Melissa Bryant While visiting the Discovery Cove allinclusive day resort on a recent press trip in Orlando, I underwent a digital detox as a result of a depleted phone battery and MIA portable solar charger. Relieved of my ability to post, tweet or text, I was able to look up and truly enjoy this melting pot of land and sea, where the resident animals-exotic birds, a cuddly kinkajou, tropical fish and a three-toed sloth-were just as diverse as the park's flora-palm trees, sky-high bamboo trees and rainforest vegetation. It was this type of retreat that the team behind Discovery Cove desired for guests in July 2000 when they opened the theme park. "Discovery Cove is kind of an escape from the chaos of a vacation," says Tim Swan, director of sales for SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando. "This is probably the elite experience for people that come to Orlando on vacation," due, in part, to the resort's capacity limit of approximately 1,300 guests, required reservations for certain excursions, and all-inclusive amenities, including freshly prepared breakfast and lunch, snacks, 50 may 2016 alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for guests 21 and over, a wet suit or swim vest, towel, souvenir snorkel and eco-friendly sunscreen. Following a brief check-in at Discovery Cove's luxurious reception, I met my VIP cabana host Todd, and suited up for fun. "Shark Tank" If there was only one takeaway I could relay from my visit, it would be to upgrade your clients to a private cabana. Not only does the package come with a personal cabana host, but it also provides a secluded oasis tucked away behind lush foliage and comes fully equipped with a mini-fridge, snacks, a locker, rolled towels, chaise lounges and a hammock. The cabana host gave me a full tour of the grounds before walking me over to The Grand Reef for a swim, while imparting bits of knowledge he'd learned from working in the park for seven or so years. At The Grand Reef, I swam beside schools of fish and over a cownose ray the length of my body, before paddling right up to a tilted plexiglass wall overlooking a shark tank. Recommend the SeaVenture excursion, an underwater walking tour in The Great Reef that takes participants, wearing dive helmets, up to a large panoramic window in full view of sharks, and features one-on-one touches with schools of fish and cownose rays. "Everything we do, from a zoological perspective, has to have some tie back to populations around the world," says Stewart Clark, v.p. of Discovery Cove. For instance, 5 percent of the proceeds from SeaVenture go back to the park's Rising Tide initiative. The program, a collaborative effort between Discovery Cove and universities from around the country, is working to cut down the amount of wild-caught fish sold in pet stores by collecting and hatching eggs from fish in The Grand Reef. In the Dolphin Lagoon another success story is taking place. Who Says You Can't Teach an Old Dolphin New Tricks Between interactive, training and husbandry (health check-up) sessions, Discovery

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend May 2016

Editor’s Notes
Hotel Desk: On the Waterfront
Tour Talk: A Peek at Our Peaks
All-Inclusives: Raising the Bar
Onsite Review: Puerto Vallarta’s Hotel Scene
Onsite Review: Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
Onsite Review: Iberostar Playa Mita
Onsite Review: Moon Palace Jamaica Grande
Hotel and Experience Pairings
New Properties Beckon
Onsite Review: Cambodia
Southern Africa’s New Enticements
Onsite Review: Rail Europe
New Frontiers in Travel
Innovation on the High Seas
Mountain Resort Vacations
What’s New in Orlando
Onsite Review: Escape to Discovery Cove
Official Florida Travel Industry Education Program–Family Course

Recommend May 2016