Arriving in El Salvador was easy. We flew TACA and were happy to discover the airport is the best in Central America and is due for a $260 million expansion.

Even though Spanish is the language of the country, it is easy to make yourself understood. Many speak English and the guides do a great job.

Another giant plus is they use the U.S. dollar as currency.

Our first two days were at the beach at the all inclusive Decameron Resort. This was relaxing with everything you would desire and approximately 1 hr, 45 minutes from the airport. The coastline was breathtaking.

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Next we moved to the Radisson Plaza Hotel in San Salvador, about a 90 minute drive. Since we were attending a meeting about meetings, we had the opportunity to visit many hotels in the city, the Sheraton President, Real Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, and the Hilton Princess as well as their Convention Center and Art Museum. San Salvador is indeed ready and eager for meetings, incentive programs and tourists. The staffs in the various hotels were well-trained and friendly. Transportation was smooth and timely. Two of our events were in state-of-the-art shopping centers. And, the programs covered everything from cultural to classical. The people of the country were friendly and eager for visitors. It is easy to understand why so many businesses and countries are investing in this destination.

The President of El Salvador greeted us as well as the Minister of Tourism on our opening night’s function.

Norm visited the Mayan ruins of Joya de Ceren and a short distance away are the pyramids of San Andres. I ventured into the old city craft market. It was quite large and well guarded as this is the one area of the city that safety is an issue. If I were doing it again, I would take the tour to the volcano or a coffee plantation.

The highlight of our trip was the afternoon spent with our friend French Master Chef Herve Laurent. In addition to meeting his son, Andrew, he took us to visit his successful School of Culinary Arts, http://www.scarts.cjb.net/.

Herve then drove us an hour into the countryside where we visited the colonial town of Suchitoto, and the wonderful inn, Los Almendros de San Lorenzo, for lunch. What Pascal Lebailly has done for Suchitoto is its own story. A shortened version is he used the town people to renovate and build on to his inn and restaurant as well as the art gallery across the street where he features local artists. He also has had Herve develop his menu and train his staff (all local). Pascal does customized tours for 2-6 people. He will also pick you up at the airport and customize your tours. He is the one responsible for bringing the economy back in this charming town. http://www.hotelsalvador.com/. Now there are additional inns. It is quite safe and charming and we look forward to returning and discovering more. Since the town sits at the edge of Lake Suchitlan, I believe it will be one of the interior towns to be developed.

The best thing about El Salvador, the people – friendly, hard working, and looking toward the future.

We plan to return for a week so we have time to discover more.