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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, January 2006 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2006 
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The Leather Connection
Bring out your hidden fashionista with this spectacular two-strand, 15-inch black leather necklace. Hand-crafted in Mexico, the bold sterling toggle clasp is accented with quartz, turquoise and jade micro-beads. A cherry quartz drop is the perfect complement to this beautiful and extraordinary necklace. Unbelievably priced at $49.

Click here to order.

In This Issue:
Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio River Walk

  • 40% off Suites at Silverado
  • 60% Savings on Merrion Packages
  • Ski Fr-ee at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
  • IATA Disputes French Airline Tax
  • United Award Ticket for 40% Less Miles
  • Renovated Southern Cross Club Package
  • TSA Changes
  • Timeshare Trivia Sweepstakes
  • Ithaca Snow Guarantee, Save with Snow
  • Budapest Winter Package
  • 2-for-1 Alaska Travel Guide
  • AmericInn $10,000 Sweepstakes
  • Maintain, Don’t Gain
  • $899 Singapore Luxury Package
  • New Packages, Flights to Aruba
  • London Superior Class Vacation $529
  • Footloose in Fiesta City by Kay Douglas
  • American Shorter Flights, Fewer Miles

  • 40% off Suites at Silverado

    The Silverado Resort in Napa Valley, CA, dropped the price of its junior, one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. The reduction represents more than 40 percent off the summer-season rates. The reduced off-season rates are in effect through Feb. 28, 2006.

    Per night Sunday through Thursday rates are $185 for a junior suite, $200 for a one-bedroom, $260 for a two-bedroom and $320 for a three-bedroom suite.

    Friday and Saturday night rates are $250 for a one-bedroom, $300 for a two-bedroom and $370 for a three-bedroom suite. Summer rates range from $290 to $560. Rates do not include taxes and surcharges.

    The 280 condominium units and private cottage suites surround the fairways of the resort's two golf courses. Each suite includes a kitchen, dining area, balcony or patio.

    Silverado Resort features a 16,000-square-foot spa, an exercise facility and full-service salon; tennis courts; swimming pools; volleyball courts; basketball courts; jogging trails; and 10-speed mountain bikes for rent. The resort offers two restaurants.

    Silverado Resort or 800/532-0500.

    60% Savings on Merrion Packages

    The Merrion Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, offers an opportunity for golfers to play the championship K Club course, the first golf course in Ireland to host the prestigious Ryder Cup.

    This two-night Merrion Golf Package, at €510 per person, based on double occupancy, includes chauffeur-driven transfers to and from the K Club, a round of golf per person, accommodations in the hotel's garden wing and Irish breakfast daily.

    Available through Mar. 31, 2006, the Merrion Hotel offers savings of up to 60 percent off the normal room rates of €390 to €410 per night and the normal charges for golf, breakfasts and amenities. All rates include taxes and service charges.

    If golf is not your forte, the hotel’s Winter Escape package is valid to Feb. 28, 2006. The special rate of €250 is good for two people sharing a superior queen room in the garden wing and includes breakfast the following morning.

    The Merrion Hotel or 800/628-8929.

    Give a Jaguar -- An Amber Jaguar -- The remarkable face of a jaguar is hand-carved onto a lovely piece of cherry amber that's 33x20 mm in size. The dramatic pendent hangs on an ultra-chic 18" natural-colored leather necklace cord with a sterling silver clasp. Boy will this turn heads.

    High-style boutiques and jewelers charge $500 or more for this glam piece. It's yours for only $125 plus shipping & insurance. Click here to order.
    At the home page, click on the amber category.

    Ski Fr-ee at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

    Lift tickets are fr-ee with two hotel packages at the ski-in/ski-out Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa, in Beaver Creek, CO. You have the option of five or seven-night stays, with lift tickets interchangeable between Beaver Creek Resort, Arrowhead or Bachelor Gulch Ski Resorts, all connected by chair lifts. In addition, ski fr,ee package participants may ski in Vail, eight miles west of Beaver Creek.

    Both packages include a 10 percent discount at the Park Hyatt's Allegria Spa and are offered on select dates through mid-April.

    The five-night stay includes four days of skiing for two adults. The seven-night stay includes six days of skiing for two. Prices, based on double occupancy, offer substantial savings.

    From Apr. 3 to15, 2006, the five-night package is $1,099 per room; the seven-night package $1,499. Packages are subject to availability and based on double occupancy.

    The ski and spa package includes the following: a choice of one 50-minute massage, a 45-minute holistic facial or manicure/pedicure; one 50-minute fitness class or a 90-minute "Snowshoe Journey" group excursion; a half-day ski excursion on Beaver Creek Mountain; one full day lift ticket and one night’s accommodations. Prices start at $$998 per room (plus tax) through Apr. 1, 2006 and $597 per room Apr. 2 to 16, 2006. A single occupancy package is also available.

    The Signature Spa Package one night's stay plus: one 50-minute massage; one 45-minute holistic facial and one manicure/pedicure combination. Prices start at $459 per room, per night, based on double occupancy. This package is offered year round.

    Park Hyatt Beaver Creek or 800/778-7477.

    IATA Disputes French Airline Tax

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) attacked the proposed French airfare surcharge to help world poverty. IATA said the development tax on aviation is misguided, and France should address the real problems of trade barriers with developing countries.

    The tax levy was adopted by France's upper house of the parliament, the Senate, paving the way for a July 1, 2006 launch. The French parliament is comprised of the lower house, the National Assembly, and the upper house, the Senate. The lower house has already passed the bill.

    The tax will apply to air travelers flying from France. The tax amount will depend on the type of ticket and distance traveled, ranging from US$1.20 to US$47. A passenger flying economy-class within Europe from a French airport will pay 1 euro and 4 euros for flights beyond Europe. Business and first-class travelers can expect to pay "multiples of 10," a government source said.

    The French government is hoping to generate US$236 million a year for health programs aimed at helping the world's poorest countries with African countries getting the bulk of the funds collected. The fight against HIV/AIDS is reported to be among the top priorities.

    IATA said airlines already contribute substantially to development through trade, bringing visitors to under-developed countries and transporting goods around the world. The real focus of development aid should be on European farm subsidies that work against developing countries. Through the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) France receives 11 billion euros in subsidies, a quarter of which (3.3 billion euros) go to five percent of France's farmers who are the largest and richest.

    An IATA official noted that the French Government doesn’t understand the needs of the developing world nor what’s going on in its own backyard. Airlines and passengers already contribute 726 million euros (US$855 million) to France through excessive aviation taxes and charges.

    French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told the UN General Assembly that more than 66 countries support the campaign for a development tax on air travel. Algeria, Brazil, Chile, Germany and Spain are sympathetic to an airfare surcharge. The United Kingdom wants to divert some money already collected in taxes on travel. The United States is opposed, arguing that airfares are already heavily taxed and an additional development levy would put a greater burden on air travelers than the general population.

    United Award Ticket for 40% Less Miles

    -- United extends the time through Feb. 28, 2006, when Mileage Plus members can redeem a Saver Award and travel for as much as 40 percent fewer redeemable miles than usual. For a United economy-class Saver Award ticket, you need only redeem 15,000 miles, which normally costs 25,000 miles. Members interested in flying first- or business-class need 30,000 miles for a roundtrip Saver Award ticket that normally costs 40,000 miles. The offer applies to qualifying short-haul, non-stop flights booked online within the 48 contiguous states and between the U.S. and Canada on United, United Express and Ted. Short-haul flights are up to and including 750 air miles each way.

    Qualifying sample flights to and from United's hub cities include travel between: Chicago and New York, Washington, D.C., and Toronto; Denver and Las Vegas, Dallas, and Phoenix; Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Reno, and Phoenix; San Francisco and Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Seattle; Washington, D.C. and New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.

    United Airlines

    Fr-ee Fun, San Diego
    This savings-packed FR.EE brochure features almost 40 Fun, Fr-ee Things to do in San Diego. When heading to Southern California, attend concerts or visit a State Historic Park and keep that cash in your pocket.

    To get your Fr-ee Fun San Diego brochure, for a $1 handling fee, click here to send us an email.

    Renovated Southern Cross Club Package

    One year after Hurricane Ivan demolished four of its beachfront bungalows and severely damaged its piers, the Southern Cross Club Fish & Dive Resort, on Little Cayman Island in the British West Indies, completed its post-storm reconstruction.

    During the rebuild, upgrades include a new 500 sq. ft. open-air dining pavilion, a new seaside mini-spa, five new beachfront bungalows and revamping its power, water and waste systems to comply with the United Nation's Green Globe 21 (GG21) eco-friendly standards.

    To commemorate the completion of construction, the resort introduces an Adventure Travel package for new and returning guests who book a seven-night trip by Dec. 31, 2006. Guests will be charged 2003 rates and will receive a $960 activity credit (per couple) that can be used towards any professional fishing or dive-related activity provided by the club. Kayaks and island bikes are fr-ee for all guests.

    Packages start at $650 per person for a three-night stay including all meals, service charges, and airport pickup on Little Cayman Island.

    Southern Cross Club Fish & Dive Resort or 800/899-2582.

    TSA Changes

    Airline travelers can expect more random screenings, fewer prohibited items and a workforce focusing on more serious threats, such as explosives. These changes are part of an update to security procedures announced by Transportation Security Administration Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley.

    With federal air marshals on planes, bulletproof cockpit doors, armed pilots and 100 percent screening of checked baggage, the threat of a terrorist taking over an airplane has lessened since the 2001 attacks. The biggest concern now is explosives.

    Airline passengers will be allowed to carry small scissors and tools onto planes, reversing a rule that allowed confiscating sharp objects at airports since the Sep. 11 terror attacks. Scissors longer than four inches, tools larger than seven inches in length and all crowbars, drills, hammers and saws are still prohibited. Lighters continue to be banned from the cabin of aircraft and in checked baggage.

    Passengers will continue to walk through a metal detector and have their carry-on and checked baggage screened. This may include a brief additional search of your or property. Examples of this additional screening include: explosive screening of shoes, hand-wanding of passengers, enhanced pat down searches and inspections of carry-on bags. These searches will be generated at random and will take only about a minute to complete. They will allow Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to better screen passengers for explosives and other threats to the aviation system.

    Transportation Security Administration.

    ResorTime.com Trivia Sweepstakes

    ResorTime vacation rentals offers the Timeshare Trivia Sweepstakes that tests your timeshare knowledge and gives you a chance to win $25,000 in prizes including week long vacations, weekend getaways, or a 30G MP3 player.

    To play the game, go to the sweepstakes website and answer multiple choice questions about timeshares and ResorTime.com. You are then automatically entered into the monthly drawing. To help players, all the answers can be found on the website. You can play each week as new questions are added every week.

    For more chances to win, have your name entered up to five additional times each month. All you need to do is enter the email addresses of up to five friends who will be invited to play the game. When your friends play, you get another entry in the sweepstakes.

    There is no purchase necessary to play the sweepstakes which ends Mar. 31, 2006.

    ResorTime.com represents more than 300 resorts and condos located across the county that feature spacious living areas, fully equipped kitchens and multiple bedrooms. Most resorts offer amenities such as swimming pools, hot tubs, and recreational activities, depending on the location.

    Timeshare Trivia Sweepstakes rules.

    Face-It Luggage Tags -- Your Face on Your Luggage
    There's no mistaking your luggage with the Face-It Luggage Tag. The durable, laminated tag displays your face and the phrase "This Face Belongs With This Luggage."

    A Face-It Luggage tag makes it less likely for a stranger or thief to walk off with your luggage and helps you recognize your luggage at a glance in hotels or airports. Face-It Tags are also available for briefcases, portfolio books, backpacks, sporting equipment, musical instruments, bicycles and more. Face-It Luggage Tags

    Ithaca Snow Guarantee, Save when it Snows

    Ithaca, New York, gears up for Jack Frost by offering the first-ever Snow Guarantee, to encourage travelers to visit the region at one of the most picturesque times of the year in the Finger Lakes.

    When you stay at participating hotels through Mar. 31, 2006, and request the Snow Guarantee when booking, you will receive one percent off nightly room rates for every inch of snow that falls during your stay (10 inches equals 10% off). The more it snows, the more you will save. Snow Guarantee rates are priced per night, based on double occupancy, and do not include tax or service. Blackout dates apply.

    Finger Lakes Region hotels will offer additional perks to make in-room cocooning more fun. Unlimited hot chocolate, coffee and tea, fr-ee in-room movie, a list of local restaurants that deliver and a fr-ee bottle of wine are part of most Snow Guarantee rates.

    • Participating properties include: A Cayuga Lake County Inn, $150, Unlimited hot chocolate, coffee and tea. Fr-ee breakfast in bed, fr-ee bottle of wine and in-room movie.
    • Courtyard by Marriott, $109, Unlimited hot chocolate, coffee and tea.
    • La Tourelle Resort & Spa, $125, Unlimited coffee, tea, hot chocolate and fr-ee in-room movies.
    • Super 8 Motel, $70, Unlimited hot chocolate and coffee and fr-ee cable with HBO.
    • The Federal House, $125, Unlimited hot drinks of your choice and fr-ee in-room movie.
    • The Hampton Inn, $119, Unlimited tea, coffee, hot soup and homemade cookies, fr-ee in-room movie, bottle of wine, fr-ee hot breakfast bar daily and high speed internet access.
    • The Holiday Inn, $149, Unlimited hot chocolate and popcorn with fr-ee in-room movie and $10 in downtown dollars.
    • The Inn @ City Lights, $125,Unlimited hot chocolate, coffee and tea.
    • Turtle Dreams B&B, $90, Unlimited hot chocolate, coffee or tea, fr-ee in-room movie, bottle of wine.

    Ithaca Snow Guarantee or 800/28-ITHACA.

    Budapest Winter Package

    TourCrafters makes Budapest, the Hungarian capital, affordable and easy to visit with their five-day/four-night “Budapest Hot Deal” package. Prices start at $579 and include roundtrip transatlantic air, four nights at the Hotel Ibis Emke, daily breakfast, hotel service charges and taxes. The package is valid for travel through Mar. 31, 2006.

    The recently renovated Hotel Ibis Emke is in the heart of Pest (Buda is the hilly side, Pest the flat side) and offers shuttle bus service to and from the airport. All rooms feature mini-bars, satellite television and hair-dryers. Non-smoking rooms are available on request.

    The $579 price is for Boston departures. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy, are subject to availability and do not include airport taxes or fuel surcharges. Departures from New York are $639, Washington D.C. $677, Miami $704, Chicago $664, Houston $744 and Los Angeles and San Francisco are $804.

    TourCrafters or 800/482-5995.

    2-for-1 Alaska Travel Guide

    The 2006 edition of the Great Alaskan TourSaver features more fishing, flightseeing, wilderness lodges and access to Alaska's national parks than ever before -- all at 2-for-1 savings. The 2006 edition is available online for $99.95.

    The Great Alaskan TourSaver features more than 150 2-for-1 activities, tours and accommodations. Their website has a complete list of this year's 2-for-1 Alaska travel savings and includes a directory of fr-ee wireless wi-fi "hotspots" around the state.

    This year's favorite offers include: a 2-for-1 National Park cruise of Kenai Fjords National Park with Renown Tours; 2-for-1 accommodations in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park at Kennicott Glacier Lodge; 2-for-1 tour to Valley of the 10,000 Smokes in Katmai National Park; 2-for-1 cruise/tour of Glacier Bay National Park; 2-for-1 flightseeing of Mt. McKinley with a glacier landing from Talkeetna; 2-for-1 jetboat tour of the Copper River; 2-for-1 package with fly-out, at Denali Wilderness Lodge; and 2-for-1 halibut fishing charter in Seldovia with Alaska Treetops.

    Great Alaskan TourSaver.

    Protect Luggage with Baggage Guard Seals

    The pre-numbered, one-time use plastic padlocks are the perfect way to protect your luggage since they cannot be reinstalled once removed. That feature lets you instantly know if someone tampered with your luggage. Yet when TSAs at airports need to inspect your luggage, Baggage Guard Seals can be easily removed. A package of 10 Baggage Guard Seals is still only $9.95.

    Click Here to Order from On The Go Publishing.

    AmericInn $10,000 Sweepstakes

    To celebrate the franchise’s growth and reward guests for their patronage, the AmericInn hotel chain offers the $10,000 giveaway sweepstakes. To be eligible for the cash grand prize, you must register at AmericInn's website before Jan. 31, 2006.

    No purchase is required to register for the $10,000 giveaway. Just follow "The AmericInn $10K Giveaway" link on the home page and fill out a short entry form to be eligible for the cash grand prize. You can increase your odds of winning by revisiting the site and entering their information once per day until Jan. 31, 2006.

    The contest is open to legal residents of all 50 states and the District of Columbia who reached the age of majority.

    Winners will be selected in a random drawing from all eligible entries received on or about Feb. 1, 2006. The winner will be notified by phone or e-mail, at the Sponsor's discretion. Odds of winning will depend upon the total number of eligible entries received.

    For the winner's name, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to AmericInn Sweepstakes Winners List, AmericInn International, LLC, 250 Lake Drive East, Chanhassen, MN 55317. All requests must be received by Jan. 31, 2006.

    AmericInn or 800/634-3444.

    Maintain, Don’t Gain

    On your vacation, sensational sweets and tempting treats will likely surface. Sodexho, the leading provider of food and facilities management in the United States, has tips to stay trim and help avoid vacation weight gain.

    • Eat breakfast. It jump starts your metabolism and provides you with fuel so you won’t be tempted to graze through the morning.
    • Don’t skip meals to save calories. You’ll only be tempted to rebound later at the buffet.
    • Take control of portion sizes and increase the number of smaller portions per day. You can build up a bank of extra calories for a special event by reducing your daily intake by about 100 calories (approximately one slice of bread) for a week.
    • Add 10 minutes to your normal exercise routine every day to burn off extra calories.
    • Drink plenty of water, especially before a big meal. It will fill you up and prevent overindulgence.
    • Keep a diary of what you eat and drink, even if it’s just through your vacation. The act of recording your intake will raise awareness and help identify any triggers for over consumption.
    • Liquid calories count, enjoy them in moderation. One five ounce glass of wine has about 100 calories, a 12 ounce regular beer contains 150 calories and 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits has 100 calories.
    • Seek lower calorie options at the appetizer buffet. Crudités of vegetables and fruit, or shrimp and scallops with cocktail sauce are wise choices.
    • Step away from the table. Listen to your body, and when it tells you it’s full, believe it.

    Sodexho USA.

    $899 Singapore Luxury Package

    Globotours offers savings to Southeast Asia with their Luxury Singapore Escape package from $899 per person, based on the double occupancy. The package is available through Mar. 31, 2006. Government taxes and fees are not included. Booking is subject to availability plus change, holiday/seasonal supplements, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

    The package includes roundtrip economy class airfare from Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York on Singapore Airlines; four nights at the Ritz Carlton Millenia, The Oriental or Grand Hyatt; half-day city tour; roundtrip airport/hotel transfers; service of local host for optional tours and shopping suggestions; city maps and shopping guides; service charges and hotel taxes and $200,000 Flight Insurance.

    The offer is valid for weekday flights only. Add-on airfare from other domestic cities is available as are extensions to Tokyo, Bangkok or other Asian destinations.

    Globotours or 800/988-4833. Use tour code: SINDELUXE.

    Cheap Tix Chart
    Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theater productions, films, and sporting events. Discounts can be 50 percent or more. On The Go Publishing’s Cheap Tix Chart, still only $14, lists outlets in the U.S. and eight foreign cities that sell discounted, day-of-performance tickets. Click here to order the Cheap Tix Chart from On The Go Publishing.

    New Packages, Flights to Aruba

    Continental Airlines launches new nonstop Saturday service to Aruba from LaGuardia International Airport. The Saturday flight takes off at 7:50 a.m. and arrives at 1:20 p.m., giving you the chance to enjoy most of the day.

    Various tour operators offer travel packages to kick off the new service. Below find several packages. Rates are per person, based on double occupancy.

    Travel Impressions -- Packages include roundtrip airfare, seven-night’s hotel accommodations, hotel tax and service, and roundtrip airport transfers in Aruba. Blackout, weekend, and holiday peak season surcharges apply.

    The Mill Resort - includes fifth night fr-ee, valid Jan. 4 to Mar. 31, 2006, $919 Hyatt Regency - valid Jan. 3 to Feb. 13, 2006, $2159
    Occidental Grand Aruba, all-inclusive, valid Feb. 1 to 28, 2006, $2425

    Liberty Travel -- Five-night travel packages include taxes, roundtrip air based on a Saturday departure and roundtrip airport transfers. Packages are valid for travel Jan. 16 to Mar. 31, 2006 and must be booked by Feb. 23, 2006. Availability, holiday blackouts, peak period surcharges and other restrictions apply.

    Wyndham Aruba Beach Resort $1615
    Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino $1795
    Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino $1839

    London Superior Class Vacation $529

    HURRY! BOOK BY JAN. 12 -- Go-today.com extends the purchase deadline on its London Superior Class vacation package.

    Book by Jan. 12, 2006 for travel through Mar. 11, 2006, with a six-night hotel stay at superior class hotels such as the Harrington Hall Hotel, located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

    Priced from $529 from New York, the London Superior Class sale includes roundtrip airfare, roundtrip minibus transfers from airport to hotel, six nights’ hotel accommodations in London with continental breakfast daily, hop-on/hop-off sightseeing tour, hotel taxes and service charges.

    The package is available from other gateway cities including: $569 from Boston, $570 from Philadelphia, $599 from Washington-Dulles, $629 from Atlanta, $649 from Chicago or Miami, $699 from Dallas or Houston, $709 Los Angeles or San Francisco, and $789 from Seattle or Portland, OR. Air taxes, fees and surcharges are in addition to package price.

    London Superior Class Supersale or 800/227-3235.

    Footloose in Fiesta City -- story and photos by Kay Douglas

    San Antonio River WalkThere's always something to celebrate in "Fiesta City," as San Antonio is popularly called. Famous for its signature Fiesta held each April over 10 days, the city showcases its cultural roots -- and its love of a good party -- throughout the year with events such as the Texas Folklife Festival, Cinco de Mayo, Oktoberfest, the Holiday River Parade Lighting Ceremony, and a brace of celebrations feting the music, art, and food of the region.

    If all this sounds a bit frantic, don't be alarmed. San Antonio is also a terrific place to kick back and relax. Quiet, less-touristy stretches of its famous River Walk, lush botanical gardens and manicured parks, and scenic historic Spanish missions provide ample opportunity to pause and reflect, while excursions to nearby Hill Country coax visitors from the city out into wide open spaces dotted with working ranches and up-and-coming wineries.

    I was in town November 2005, for the New World Food & Wine Festival, which showcases the city's finest chefs and restaurants as well as wines from across the Americas. Daniel Jacob, festival chair, emphasized what sets San Antonio's food and wine festival apart: "Quality, not quantity."

    At the festival's black-tie gala at the Westin Riverwalk, a phalanx of chefs prepared a banquet spotlighting the cuisine of the Oaxaca, featuring exotic dishes such as wild boar tenderloin paired with wines from Argentina and Chile. Even more memorable was an intimate luncheon prepared by Executive Chef Jeff Balfour at Citrus, a feast for the mind and the senses as winemakers and wine enthusiasts discussed subjects as diverse as Chardonnay trends and physics.

    Texas wines and foods came to the forefront at several festival events, most notably "Totally Tejas," a grape-stompin', steak-grillin', booty shakin' extravaganza held at Rio Cibola Ranch. And for international appeal there was Hemisfare, an evening event featuring 100 wines plus a smorgasbord concocted by dozens of chefs that amply supported San Antonio's claim to being a prime gateway to the cultures and cuisines of Mexico and Latin America.

    Institute of Texan CulturesAside from its festivals, visitors to San Antonio should visit the Institute of Texan Cultures to further explore the state's rich cultural heritage. The Institute has exhibits for 26 distinct ethnic groups that make up the Lone Star State. Upon entering the building, I was immediately drawn to a lively display of footwear - primarily boots - worn by famous Texans, ranging from Laura Bush's immaculate red-white-and-powder-blue sneakers to Don Henley's scuffed cowboy boots.

    Later, while exploring the hall devoted to German immigrants, I was drawn to an elaborate bandstand, where I learned that the fusion of European polkas and waltzes with Mexican ranchero music ultimately led to the distinctive sound that San Antonio still celebrates in its annual Tejano/Conjunto Festival.

    San Antonio also celebrates Dias de los Muertos on Nov. 1 and 2, a Mexican traditional holiday that commemorates departed loved ones, hoping to entice their spirits back to earth through offerings made at an ofrenda (altar) festooned with colorful paper decorations, playful skeletons, and favorite foods of the loved ones.

    At the Institute of Texan Cultures, an ofrenda dedicated to Americans who have died in Iraq struck a poignant note: MREs, an American flag, dessert camouflage caps, and aluminum mess kits were arrayed near the more traditional offerings of pan de muertos (bread fashioned in the shape of skulls or bones) and candles lit to guide the spirits to the altar.

    The AlamoSan Antonio's missions offer a window onto the city's past, symbols of the time when the might of the Spanish church and state combined to push an empire north. Four of the five Spanish missions are part of the National Park Service's Mission Trail, located along a nine-mile stretch of the San Antonio River just outside town. However, the most famous mission, San Antonio de Valero, better known as the Alamo, is at the very heart of the city. No visit to San Antonio is complete without stepping inside the hushed interior of Texas' most famous shrine, which is open to the public every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas. Take time to view the nearby Wall of History or listen to a volunteer speaker in Alamo Plaza give a stirring account of the famous battle.

    Besides the Alamo, San Antonio's most-visited area is the River Walk, a widely-heralded triumph of urban planning that today serves as the city's chief tourist magnet. Its shaded walkways along the downtown stretch of the river are popular with out-of-town conventioneers and locals alike.

    Acenar Sunday Mariachi BrunchFor a morning excursion, consider taking a breakfast cruise on the river. Reasonably priced cruises depart from several area restaurants. I enjoyed an egg dish containing corn tortilla strips and chiles prepared at Zuni Grill as the flat-bottomed barge glided along the river. The tour was narrated by an enthusiastic guide who pointed out area landmarks along the way, and spotting yellow-crested night herons roosting in the moss-draped trees near the river. For landlubbers, I can recommend the Sunday brunch at Acenar featuring a lively mariachi band and positively addictive blood-orange margaritas.

    Along River Walk you'll also find la Villita, an historic arts village containing numerous shops, galleries, and restaurants. Take in a fr-ee performance at la Villita's outdoor stage or watch glassblowing demonstrations by local artisans. Dedicated shoppers will also want to check out El Mercado, a hub of bargain-hunting activity that features several notable restaurants (check out the colorful murals in Mi Tierra Café and Bakery), open-air food stalls, street performers, and fr.ee events year round.

    La Villita arts villageWhile taking in the River Walk, however, don't forget to look up - at San Antonio's unique architecture. The San Antonio Conservation Society was largely responsible for saving the river itself, which was once slated to be paved over, and also had a hand in preserving many of the city's signature buildings. Today, almost a century's preservation work stands as testimony to their foresight, with architectural gems such as the Bexar County Courthouse, the Tower Life Building, and the Fairmont Hotel (the heaviest structure to ever be moved, according to the Guinness Book of Records) gracing the city's skyline.

    One long-term project of particular note is the renovation of San Antonio's historic downtown theater district. Two of the city's landmark theaters, the aptly named 2,500-seat Majestic Theater and the Empire Theater, host theatrical and musical events. Not far from the Empire, a third theater is currently undergoing renovation, the Aztec. It's slated to become one of River Walk's premier attractions, with a fr-ee special effects show held several times daily, not to mention performances on the theater's original 1925 Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

    Nix Professional BuildingA fourth historic theater, the Alameda, is as emblematic to Latinos as Harlem's Apollo Theater is to African Americans. When it opened in 1949, the Alameda was the largest theater in the U.S. to feature Spanish-language films and performing artists. The campaign to restore the Alameda envisions the theater at the heart of a Latino art and cultural zone that will also encompass the new Smithsonian-affiliated Museo Americano. This vibrant new museum will chronicle the Latino cultural experience in America.

    Come for its festivals; come for its rich cultural history; or come simply for its warm Texas-style hospitality. Whenever you come to San Antonio, you're sure to find something unexpected.

    San Antonio Visitor & Convention Bureau or 800/THE ALAMO.

    Silky Travel Jewelry Roll
    A must have for travelers. Our silky travel jewelry roll comes in a random assortment of single-color jacquards, solid colors and two-color brocades. This handy travel jewelry roll measures 8 1/2 x 11 inches when open and closes to a compact 8 1/2 x 4 inches. Our exclusive design offers a place for everything with one deep pocket, a ring bar and three zippered compartments. Price $40. Click here to order from On The Go Publishing.

    American Offers Shorter Flights for Fewer Miles

    American Airlines makes it easier to take to the skies when booking your next award trip. With short-hop MileSAAver awards, you can fly roundtrip on nonstop routes under 750 air miles one way within the continental United States and Canada for a reduced number of AAdvantage miles when booking award travel on American’s web site.

    Available for travel through Feb. 28, 2006, economy class roundtrip awards are available for 15,000 miles, a 10,000-mile savings. First- or business-class roundtrip awards require 30,000 miles, a savings of 15,000 miles.

    Awards are valid for nonstop, short-hop flights operated by American Airlines, American Eagle or AmericanConnection carriers.

    AAdvantage members can check award availability using the AAdvantage HotSpots calendar online. The green color indicates the best opportunity for MileSAAver award availability.

    American Airlines.

    Have you had a good experience on a plane recently? Stumbled across the perfect place to stay or eat or drink? If you'd like to tell us about it, email us here.

    PLEASE NOTE: All links are sent as clickable links. Some email programs such as AOL, Yahoo, & Hotmail change the links so that they are not clickable. If you have problems clicking on a link, just copy and paste the link into your browser.

    CURE & CLEAN NATURALLY -- Throw out your harmful toxic disinfectants, cleaners, bleaches and insecticides! Cure and clean with the world’s safest all-natural sanitizer, Hydrogen Peroxide. You don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy store-bought preparations with their “secret ingredient” that turns out to be Hydrogen Peroxide. Get more than 30 powerful recipes using Hydrogen Peroxide as a foot soak, cold and flu killer, plant protector, and pet purgative for only $2. To order, send an email to: cpventures@hotpop.com with Order Hydrogen Peroxide Cure in subject line.
    Classified Ads

    EASY IMMIGRATION TO NEW ZEALAND -- Thinking about making New Zealand your part-time or permanent second home? It is fast and easy! Read the 'New Zealand Immigration & Relocation Report' and transform your future today. Wake up to a new life.

    READING THIS AD? THEN WHY NOT PUT YOUR AD HERE! Reach more than 180,000 travelers who want to learn about your services or products. Click here to get the scoop and reserve your spot today.

    Live Among the Locals Forget about staying in a boring hotel. Live among the locals in a house or flat. Coach House London Vacation Rentals offers short term central London rentals with more than 60 properties that sleep from 2 to 12 people. Each rental comes with a neighborhood guide, breakfast provisions for the first day or two of your stay, a telephone help line, and what to do and see. Coach House London Vacation Rentals.

    NATURE'S MIRACLE PRODUCT -- in today’s computerized world, we’re still using a product discovered by chance more than 10,000 years ago -- VINEGAR!! Throw out toxic cleaners and insecticides that pollute! Save money and save the environment by using vinegar, one of the world’s safest all-natural products. Get more than 150 powerful recipes using vinegar for cooking, health care, gardening, pet care and household uses for only $4. To order, send an email to: cpventures@hotpop.com with Order Vinegar Care in subject line.

    Gambler's General Store -- The world's largest gambling superstore with slots, video poker, dice, craps, roulette, books, software and more. Gambler's General Store or 800/322-CHIP.

    FR!EE PEARL Necklace & Bracelet -- Direct from a famous jewelry workshop. Limit 4 necklaces and 4 bracelets per person. ACT RIGHT NOW. click here to order.

    DINNER AT 35,000 FEET What meals will you get on your flight? See behind the scenes at airline catering. Preview first- and business-class menus and pictures of actual airline meals, photographed and contributed by passengers. More than 330 airlines represented. Learn what your meals will probably be.

    RVShark, the online recreational vehicle publication features raw reviews of RV parks based on real RVers' experiences. RVShark includes RV for sale listings and an RV parks for sale section. RVShark is fr.ee.

    Herd ostrich, ride horses or gather eggs -- at a family farm in Pennsylvania, the relaxing alternative to a camping vacation. The 25 family farms roll out the red carpet for families and are found in all corners of the state. Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association or 888/856-6622.

    Information & Credits

    The Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, P.O. Box 91033, Columbus OH 43209, edited by Nicki Chodnoff, is published monthly.

    Tell Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter readers about your products and services. Click here for rates and information.

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