Azores Rural Tourism New Packages With Air and Country Inn Lodgings From Just $629

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Four years ago Azores Express rolled out a simple air and land package program to the Azores with six hotels on two islands. After an overwhelming response Azores Express decided to try something different, so this week the company announced a new kind of package, featuring bed and breakfasts, country inns, and manor houses.

Rural tourism is a great way to enjoy the Azores. It gives a local perspective, and closer relationship with the natural beauty of the islands. Country estates, called Quintas in Portuguese, and rural farmhouses restored as bed and breakfasts are a unique way to better understand this special place.

"People who take advantage of our packages tell us they want to go back," say Nuno Puim, Executive Director of Azores Express. "But many asked if we could add a more rural, local component to complement the modern hotels we have offered."

The new Azores country inn package offers six unique properties to choose from on four islands. Azores Express is offering round-trip air from Boston, and six nights lodging with breakfast starting at just $629 per person. Price is for travel from Boston direct to the Azores (with inter-island air include where applicable). The flying time is just four hours. Taxes are not included in the price. Rooms, as these are inns and B&B's, range from rooms to individual houses. Breakfast is included. Friday departures are available, for an additional $80 per person. Direct flights from Boston to Portugal's Azores Islands will depart from September 2007 through October 2008. For just a few hundred dollars each way, passengers can upgrade from coach to SATA Comfort Business-Class. All packages must be booked by phone, by calling Azores Express at 800-762-9995.

The Azores are the closet point in Europe to North America. The islands were created by volcanic activity hundreds of millions of years ago, building an environment that is both unexpected and varied. From the 7,700-foot peak of Pico island, to the blue and green lakes at Sete Cidades on São Miguel, the Azores offers a lush and sculptured landscape. This ocean-enveloped land enjoys a mild climate year-round (between 57°F and 71°F).

São Miguel
São Miguel, with its lakes, geysers, and quaint seaside villages is the main island in the Azores, and the one where all flights from Boston land in the fall, winter and spring. Here guests have the choice of three special properties:

Set near the sea on the northern coast of São Miguel, the Quinta de Santana offers seven double rooms and three apartments in six houses that recreate a typical village. The Quinta has a pool, and gardens. There is also a restaurant specializing in grilled fish. The Quinta is minutes from the fishing village of Rabo de Piexe, and near crater lakes, golf, and hiking.

The Estalagem Senhora da Rosa is a rural inn set on the outskirts of Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel. The Estalagem includes 28 rooms, an elegant restaurant, bar and game room. The property is exquisitely decorated in a classical style. Outside, fruit trees, orchards, flowers and a pineapple plantation make the Estalagem a special place.

Located right in the city of Ponta Delgada, the Hospedaria Cardeal is an inn that opened just three years ago. This inn is surrounded by a beautiful garden with local plants, trees and flowers from the island. The inn offers all private rooms, with television, parking, and breakfast, as well as airport transfers, and car rental service. There is a bar for guests, as well. And it is just minutes to the center of the city.

Pico
Pico island is not only Portugal's tallest point at some 7,700 feet above sea level, it is a wild and amazing place with hiking, UNESCO World Heritage vineyards, and whale watching and whaling museums.

Set on the northern coast the Aldeia da Fonte is a recreation of typical Pico village, but with a belief in ecological tourism. All the guest hoses are built with traditional local styles using only regional natural materials, such as basalt volcanic rock. The hotel provides with 32 charming rooms and apartments, each with a typical Azorean decoration that includes antiques. The restaurant, "Hocus Pocus" offers a cuisine that goes from regional to vegetarian and international dishes. There is also a health club. The hotel offers rent a car service as well.

Faial
Faial is fame for its harbors where yachts from around the world meet, as well as its rolling countryside, and the site of a 1958 volcanic eruption.

The historic Quinta da Meia Eira offers distinctive lodgings in ten houses, surrounded by fields that run down to the sea. The two houses date back to the nineteenth century, and were completely renovated and restored. The farm's agricultural land is diverse, but mainly dedicated to cattle breeding and dairy production, complete with l agricultural displays.

Terceira
Terceira is lively cultural island. Its main city Angra do Heroísmo has been classified since 1983 by UNESCO as a World Heritage City.

The Quinta da Nasce-Água is situated less than two miles from Angra do Heroísmo city. The Quinta was the first rural tourism project in the Azores. The palatial Main House has 14 rooms, a Presidential Suite and a Junior Suite. The house itself is from the 19th century and set in the middle of a large and luxurious garden that features a number of old and rare species of flora, a swimming pool, Turkish bath and a golf practicing range. The rooms themselves are large, well equipped and provide luxury and comfort.

The volcanic genesis of the Azores is unmistakable. Thousands of years of vegetation cannot hide the deep craters, some of which are filled with deep lakes today. Geysers and sulfur springs are common. The Azores are also known for their rolling landscapes, sprinkled with tiny settlements of whitewashed or black stone houses. The hillsides are planted with vineyards, tea, and fruit orchards. Some coastlines are strewn with black rocks, rugged and often plunging hundreds of feet into the emerald sea. But, there are plenty of welcoming bays, natural pools, beaches, and inlets for swimming and sunbathing (the water temperature is warm enough year-round). Watersports, fishing and whale watching are widely available. Equally popular is yachting, horseback riding, cycling and hiking.

Azores Express has connected New England with the Azores and mainland Portugal for more than 20 years. Today it offers direct flights on wide body A310 aircraft to São Miguel, the main island in the Azores archipelago. Connecting flights from São Miguel to Lisbon, Porto and/or the island of Madeira are available. The carrier is part of the SATA Group.

For more information and reservations, contact Azores Express at 800-762-9995, http://www.Azores-Express.com.

São Miguel:
Quinta da Santana, São Miguel $629-$929
http://www.virtualazores.com/quinta-santana/index_e.html

Estalagem Senhora da Rosa, São Miguel; $719-$899
http://www.estalagemsenhoradarosa.com/en/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

Hospedaria Cardeal, São Miguel; $659-$829
http://www.hospedariacardeal.com/en/

Pico:
Aldeia da Fonte, Pico $809-$999
http://www.aldeiadafonte.com/en/

Faial:
Quinta da Meia Eira; Faial $829-$989
http://www.meiaeira.com/eng/acasa.html

Terceira:
Quinta Nasce Agua; Terceira $939-$1,159
http://www.quintadanasce-agua.com/ingles/

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