EcoRepublic members combine luxury, adventure

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MIAMI -- An Andean hideaway by a cloud forest, a seaside lodge sited between a reef and a rain forest, a dive resort that studies dolphins up close and an ecolodge along the route of the Maya.

These are among the accommodations offered by member properties of the EcoRepublic group, whose membership has recently expanded to include three new hotels in Latin America.

Joining the EcoRepublic family are two properties in Argentina: the 124-room Del Glaciar Hotel, at the tip of the continent in Ushuaia, and the 20-cabana Yacutinga Lodge outside Iguassu Falls. The third new member is the 60-room Mariposa Hotel in Quepos on Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

The EcoRepublic group made its debut in 2002, placing under one sales and marketing umbrella a dozen small to midsize Central and South American lodges, resorts and hotels as well as two expedition-cruise ships.

Now expanded to 19 participants in nine countries, EcoRepublic members are selected for their comfortable to luxurious facilities as well as their commitment to deliver the greatest comfort and the finest nature-travel and soft-adventure experiences in their respective environments, according to Ernesto Ruben, the group's president.

Although the company does not book its members' individual room nights or packages, Ruben said, "We present to the travel agent community a central travel-planning source for superior products and destination information."

Sales tools include a catalog with descriptions of member properties, with photos, amenities and activities available. Also featured are special-interest highlights for each lodging and destination, ranging from archaeological sites and bird-watching to jungle hiking, mountain biking, diving and fishing.

The EcoRepublic Web site expands on this information and enables agents to check availability and pricing of a property or cruise; book directly with each EcoRepublic member; and keep up-to-date with seasonal and special-interest packages.

The hilltop Mariposa Hotel in Costa Rica, for instance, is offering a four-night Romantic Escape to Manuel Antonio package, priced from $739 per person, double.

In addition to accommodations, the program includes a guided visit of Manuel Antonio National Park as well as a day cruise to view dolphins, whales and other marine life.

The Inn at Robert's Grove is one of six EcoRepublic lodging choices in Belize. One of six EcoRepublic members in Belize, the Inn at Robert's Grove in Placencia invites anglers for a four-night fishing program, which includes three full days of bone fishing in the flats, trolling along the outer cayes and fly-fishing along the coast.

The plan is priced starting at $1,214 per person, double, and includes accommodations and meals.

While agents must book directly to member hotels and cruise lines, EcoRepublic also offers a customer service center of travel consultants, available to assist throughout the planning process.

Agents receive 10% commission on all arrangements booked with EcoRepublic members. For more information, call (877) 777-7167 or (305) 466-5652; e-mail [email protected]; or visit the Web at www.ecorepublic.com.

To contact reporter Carla Hunt, send e-mail to [email protected].

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