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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, January 2015 Issue



Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
http://www.onthegopublishing.com/currentissue.html
travelnewsletter@aim.com
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2015 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff


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Happy 2015. May your travels in the coming year be frequent and rewarding.

In This Issue:
New River Gorge Bridge, Fayetteville, WV

 photo newrivergorgebridge_zps8b7aeb99.jpg

  • Love on the Rocks Winter Escape
  • Oxford Experience Learning Vacation
  • India From $1,499
  • Madrid’s Hotel Santo Domingo Winter Offer
  • Moscow Cultural Passport
  • Free Fun Along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route
  • Rangiroa Getaway
  • See the Northern Lights 2-for-1
  • Sun Country Nassau Savings
  • California Restaurant Month
  • Preferred Hotel Group Discounts
  • Italy from $1,299
  • Deep Blue Vacations Discounts
  • Spring Discounts in the Poconos
  • 2-for-1 Royal Botswana Safari
  • Kids Ski and Ride for Free in Colorado
  • Winter Getaway Package at South Seas Island Resort
  • American Airlines 2015 Mileage Promotion
  • WV Whitewater Rafting Redux
  • Blue Train Value

  • Love on the Rocks Winter Escape

    Carmel-by-the-Sea's Cypress Inn, a 1929 California property co-owned by Hollywood actress Doris Day, warms up winter with a Love on the Rocks escape.

    Valid Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, 2015, the two-night stay includes accommodations, kayaking for two, cocktail flight and chocolates at turndown. Rates start at $225 per night based on double occupancy with no resort fee and daily breakfast. The price does not include taxes and blackout periods apply.

    The Cypress Inn speaks to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The interior of all 44 rooms and suites fuses Hollywood with Spanish-Moroccan overtones with vaulted ceilings, courtyards and in-room fireplaces. Cypress Inn offers afternoon tea, a pet-friendly Yappy Hour, sustainable dining menu and Carmel's first Seafood Watch program participant.

    Cypress Inn or 831/624-3871.


    Oxford Experience Learning Vacation

    Take a learning vacation at the Oxford Experience, a summer program of one-week courses at England’s Oxford University that offers some 60 classes in archaeology, history, politics, art, music, houses and gardens, literature, creative writing, and sciences. The program takes place July 5 to Aug. 15, 2015, at Christ Church, founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525.

    The Oxford Experience is open to everyone. There are no requirements, no exams and no papers. Courses include the Georgian Home, Shakespeare and His World, The Age of Winston Churchill, Creative Writing for All, Beethoven His Life and Music, Understanding the Cosmos, and Oxford Murder. Classes are small (maximum 12 students) and tutors are friendly and approachable.

    A week of the Oxford Experience costs $2,027. Summertime students, who come from many countries, live in Christ Church dormitories. A limited number of rooms with private bath are available for an additional fee. You dine surrounded by portraits of Christ Church alumni, 13 of them prime ministers, in the Tudor Hall made famous by the Harry Potter films.

    The price includes tuition, accommodations, evening entertainment and lectures, a welcome reception and all meals. Once a week each student is invited to dine on High Table and on the final night everyone gathers for champagne in the flowering Cathedral Garden and a gala farewell dinner in Hall, where “diplomas” are distributed.

    Classes are held in the morning; in the afternoon tours of Christ Church and the city of Oxford are offered, and excursions to stately homes, cathedrals and museums. The Shakespeare class, for example, attends a matinee at London’s Globe Theatre. In the evening there are pub walks, whisky tastings, traditional morris dancing, wine and croquet in the Masters’ Garden and Evensong in the college chapel, which is also the Oxford Cathedral.

    The deadline for summer 2015 registration is May 1, but popular classes fill as early, so early registration is encouraged.

    The Oxford Experience or write to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA, U.K.

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    India From $1,499

    Tour operator World Spree offers a 12-day escorted tour of India starting at $1,499 per person that includes a roundtrip flight on Air China, five-star hotels, a jungle safari, 14 meals, all transportation in India, sightseeing and entrance fees, and professional English-speaking guides. The $1,499 price is for the Apr. 5 and 12, 2015 departures from New York. Departures are scheduled Mar. 5, 2015 to Apr. 17, 2016.

    The India tour covers the highlights and starts in Delhi. Here you’ll have a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi and tour its market, India’s largest mosque and Humayun’s 16th-century garden-surrounded tomb. In New Delhi you’ll see the tree-lined avenues and impressive buildings Edwin Lutyens designed for the British, and Mahatma Gandhi’s former residence.

    In Agra you tour the Taj Mahal and its gardens, a white marble monument built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife. An optional sightseeing tour of Agra and its Red Fort is also available.

    On the way to Ranthambore National Park, there’s a stop at the 16th-century “ghost town” of Fatehpur Sikri and at a park known for its rich bird life. Ranthambore offers a chance to track the royal Bengal tiger on a morning and evening jungle safari.

    In Jaipur, known as “the pink city,” you ride on an elephant to the Amber Fort. In the Castle Kanota, where the royal family still resides, you enjoy an Indian-style high tea. There’s time for shopping in this city known for its fabrics and handiwork. Two optional excursions are offered to the City Palace and the Birla Temple. The tour returns to Delhi and a farewell dinner. On the way home there’s an optional stopover in Beijing.

    World Spree’s hotels include the five-star Crowne Plaza Gurgaon in Delhi; Agra’s Trident Hotel; the lakeside Ranthambore Kothi; and the Le Meridien Jaipur.

    All prices are cash-only, are per person double occupancy, and are subject to availability.

    World Spree Incredible India tour or 866/652-5656.


    Madrid’s Hotel Santo Domingo Winter Offer

    The Santo Domingo Hotel, in the heart of Madrid, provides a winter offer.

    Room rates for this winter offer are from 75€ with VAT included.

    Its location allows you to combine art, culture, leisure, food and shopping. Additionally, the Santo Domingo Hotel offers five types of rooms that are themed rooms, customized with murals by several artists.

    Each room creates a distinct atmosphere: New York, a Caribbean beach hut, the jungle, the inside of an aquarium, Don Quixote hunting an impossible dream, a Dali-esque space and others.

    Eating well in Madrid is easy and the Santo Domingo hotel’s Sando Restaurant offers a tasting menu for 49€.

    There’s also the Cuevas de Sandó cocktail bar located in a 16th-century cave.

    Santo Domingo Hotel .


    Moscow Cultural Passport

    Visitors to Moscow, Russia have a new way to see its cultural landmarks and save, a “cultural tourist passport.” According to the developers, this pass will allow you to save up to 80 percent off the original price of tickets to museums and exhibitions in Moscow.

    The passport is valid from one to five days and gives a discount of 40 to 80 percent on 74 museums and more than 100 events in Moscow. It also allows visits to temporary exhibitions. Plus you don’t have to stand in line for tickets due to the QR codes on the cards.

    There are three passports to choose from: the “Tourist” passport, which offers three visits for 590 to 990 rubles ($13-$22); the “Traveler” passport, with six visits for 990 to 1,690 rubles ($22-$37); and the “Discoverer” passport, with 12 visits for 1,690 to 3,690 rubles ($37-$82). Without the passport, entry to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts would cost 300 to 450 rubles ($7-$10).

    You can buy the plastic card passport at nine tourist information centers in Moscow, at the Belorussky, Leningradsky, Kievsky, Paveletsky, Kursky, and Kazansky railway stations; the Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo airports; and the State History Museum. After buying the card, activate the passport on the Voxxter website (which is in Russian), the company which developed the passport.

    Or you can purchase the pass on the Voxxter website (which is in Russian), pay online, and print the ticket or save it on any electronic device. When at a museum, the clerk will scan the QR code and allow entry to the museum.

    Before the cultural passport was developed, Moscow offered two other cards for tourists: the MoscowPass and the PrimePass. The advantage of the new pass is that you can choose from a large number of museums and the list continues to expand.

    The PrimePass costs 1,099 rubles ($24), is valid daily and allows you to visit five sites plus the Moscow Zoo, the Moscow Planetarium, and the Documentary Film Center. In addition, the card acts as an unlimited ticket for all types of city transport.

    The MoscowPass offers three rates – for one day, for three days, and for five days, from 999 to 2,499 rubles ($22-$55). It includes a walking and bus tour, a cruise on the Moscow River, entry to 14 museums, and discounts at several restaurants.

    You can get information about and order the PrimePass and MoscowPass in English. The MoscowPass has an English-language website, while the PrimePass has a mobile app and promises to launch an English-language. At press-time, an English-language website was not available.


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    Free Fun Along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route

    The California Highway 1 Discovery Route, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles in coastal San Luis Obispo County, spans more than 101 miles of Pacific coastline. The highway winds through 10 towns, seaside villages and wine country.

    Here are some of the free activities.

    Arroyo Grande Valley:
    Santa Manuela Schoolhouse – The historic one room schoolhouse was built in 1901.

    Arroyo Grande Hiking – From Lopez Lake to Big Falls Trail and Cougar Trail

    Paulding History House – Home of the first resident medical doctor in Arroyo Grande.

    Avila Beach:
    Bird Watching - The area is an official California Bird Sanctuary with protected pelicans, long-billed curlews, finches and sparrows.

    Avila Beach Aquarium - See live shark and jelly fish feedings.

    Watch the Harbor Seals – Be amused while listening and seeing the harbor seals and sea lions that use the lower level of the Harford Pier as their hang out.

    Cambria:
    Nitt Witt Ridge –A California Registered Historical Landmark, the two-story, terraced home belonged to Arthur Harold Beal, a Cambria pioneer.

    Highway 46 Scenic Drive – Boutique wineries share the countryside with farm houses and fields of poppies and lavender.

    Chinese Temple – The last Chinese Americans left Cambria about 1916. Warren family members purchased their property.

    Cayucos:
    Cayucos State Beach – Known for its fishing pier, beach and historic buildings, many from the prospering old town.

    Hike Estero Bluffs – A coastal hike along the ocean. Free docent-led hikes with the local Cayucos Land Conservancy are available.

    Cayucos Mural Tour – murals on historical and environmental topics that characterize Cayucos.

    Edna Valley:
    Edna Valley Hiking – Cerro San Luis Obispo Trail

    Old Edna Town site Self-Guided Tour – Founded in the late 1800s, Old Edna Town, adjacent to the original Edna Train Depot, was once a bustling center for early farming and ranching families.

    Bird Watching - Many birds live here year-round. Other species visit during their annual migrations along the coast.

    Los Osos & Baywood Park:
    Tide Pool Exploring – The rocky shorelines of Montaña de Oro are home to pristine tide pools.

    El Moro Elfin Forest – Adjacent to the Morro Bay Estuary, the 90-acre natural area supports more than 200 species of plants, 110 kinds of birds, 22 species of mammals and 13 species of reptiles and amphibians. Free docent led walks monthly.

    Central Coast Polo Club – Weekly scrimmages during the season are free to the public.

    Mesa and dunes complex.
    Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center Docent-Led Walks – In addition to the Dunes Center, there are docent-led walks, California State Parks walks, hikes and lectures through the Pismo Nature Center.

    Luffa Farm – Open Wednesday through Sunday year-round, tour the farm and buy natural luffa or herbal bath products.

    Oceano:
    Oceano Surfing – Waves for surfing, kite surfing, wind surfing and boogey boarding.

    Clam Digging– Go clamming. Clamming hours are 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

    Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve

    San Simeon & Ragged Point:
    Pico Creek Surf Spot – Locals’ favorite spot at the north end of downtown San Simeon.

    Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay –Interactive exhibits, educational activities, and a Citizen Science program where you can participate in research.

    Ragged Point Beach – Half-mile trail to the black-sand beach is steep with a 400 foot change in elevation.

    California Highway 1 Discovery Route .


    Rangiroa Getaway

    Escape to the Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa on the remote South Pacific island of Rangiroa, Tahiti, with this five-night promotion. The per person price is from $2,999 and includes honeymoon amenities and daily breakfast for two. The package must be booked by and is valid for travel through Dec. 13, 2015.
      What's Included
    • oundtrip international airfare from Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui
    • Roundtrip interisland air transportation on Air Tahiti
    • One night at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort in a Garden View room
    • Four nights at the Hotel Kia Ora Resort and Spa in a Beach Bungalow
    • Daily breakfast for two adults
    • Honeymoon welcome present in Tahiti
    • Honeymoon bottle of Rangiroa wine in Rangiroa
    • Welcome flower lei
    • All transfers and baggage handling
    • Room tax and VAT, air taxes and fuel surcharges included.

    Tahiti Legends or 800/200-1213.


    See the Northern Lights 2-for-1

    Sail along the Norwegian coastline and across the Arctic Circle in search of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights on the 800 passenger Marco Polo.

    This cruise, code P504, leaves London Tilbury on Mar. 2, 2015, on a 14 night journey. A twin inner cabin starts from $3,249 per person, down from the brochure price of $6,179 per person. Plus this is a two-for-one offer where the second person in the cabin sails free. A third or fourth person sharing the cabin costs $759.

    In addition to the chance to view the Northern Lights, the cruise stops at the following Norwegian ports: Alesund, Tromso, Honningsvag, Alta, Sortland, the Vesteralen Islands, Andalsnes and Bergen before returning to London Tilbury.

    Cruise and Maritime Voyages or 855/206-4897.


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    Sun Country Nassau Savings

    Enjoy the beaches and resorts of Nassau and Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Book by Jan. 12, 2015 for travel Jan. 16 through Apr. 5, 2015, and save up to $200 with Sun Country Vacations.
      Use promo code SCV509 and save:
    • $50 on vacations of $1499 - $2499
    • $100 on vacations of $2500 - $4999
    • $200 on vacations of $5000 or more

    Sun Country Vacations offers flights to the Bahamas this winter with Thursday, Friday, and Sunday non-stop flights from Minneapolis/St. Paul and a wide range of hotels.

    • A flight and hotel package provides:
    • Free seat selection
    • Roundtrip transfers between airport and hotel
    • Assistance of a local representative while in destination
    • Uflex Vacation Protection Plan
    • Ufly Rewards points to earn tickets faster

    To provide more savings, kids stay free at the Atlantis Paradise Island Beach Tower, the Atlantis Paradise Island Royal Tower, the Atlantis Paradise Island Coral Tower, the Reef Atlantis and the Cove Atlantis. The kids stay free offer applies up to two kids, 11 years of age and under, when sharing a room with two adults.

    Sun Country Vacations or 877/411-1177.


    California Restaurant Month

    January offers 31 days of culinary experiences throughout California during Visit California's fifth-annual California Restaurant Month.

    More than 30 destinations statewide feature celebrity chef events, wine-pairing specials, prix-fixe dinners and seasonal offerings.

    "Dine and drive" itineraries were created by Visit California, and there are food and wine travel ideas available at the official restaurant month website.

    Below is a list of confirmed California Restaurant Month 2015 destinations. Additional destinations may be added.

      Northern California:
    • Berkeley Restaurant Week Jan. 22 - 31, 2015
    • El Dorado Epicurean Jan. 18 - 25, 2015
    • Lake Tahoe Made with Altitude Jan. 9 – 16, 2015
    • Manteca Restaurant Week Jan. 11 - 17, 2015
    • California Restaurant Month Marin County Jan. 1 – 31, 2015
    • Mendocino County Crab, Wine & Beer Festival Jan. 16 – 25, 2015
    • Nevada County Restaurant Week Jan. 23 – Feb 1, 2015
    • Oakland Restaurant Week Jan. 15 - 25, 2015
    • Sacramento Dine Downtown Restaurant Week Jan. 15 - 24, 2015
    • San Francisco Restaurant Week Jan. 21– 30, 2015
    • Suisun City Waterfront Restaurant Week Jan. 16 – 25, 2015
    • Vacaville Restaurant Week Jan. 16 - 25, 2015
    • Santa Cruz Restaurant Month Jan. 4 – 30, 2015
    • San Luis Obispo County Restaurant Month Jan. 4 - 29, 2015
    • Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Week Jan. 25 - 31, 2015
    • Stockton Restaurant Week Jan. 16 – 25, 2015
    • Tuolumne County Restaurant Week Jan. 18 - 24, 2015
    • Yosemite/Mariposa County Chef's Holidays Jan. 14 – Feb. 4, 2015
      Southern California:
    • Dana Point Restaurant Week Jan. 10 – 16, 2015
    • Dine Out Escondido! Jan. 19 – 30, 2015
    • Irvine Restaurant Week Jan. 9 - 15, 2015
    • dineLA Restaurant Week Jan. 19 – Feb 1, 2015
    • Manhattan Beach Dine MB Jan. 25 – 30, 2015
    • Dine Newport Beach Restaurant Week Jan. 19 – Feb 1, 2015
    • Dine & Discover Oxnard! Jan. 10 - 25, 2015
    • Pasadena Cheeseburger Week Jan. 11 - 16, 2015
    • San Diego Restaurant Week Jan. 18 - 24, 2015
    • Santa Monica Eat Well Week Jan. 4 - 11, 2015
    • Temecula Valley Restaurant Month Jan. 1-31, 2015


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    $60 Off Winter Travel Discount Sale


    Preferred Hotel Group Discounts

    The Preferred Hotel Group has winter and other discounts at 650 independent hotels and resorts worldwide.

    Flight Credit and Breakfast - North America - Receive up to $150 flight credit on check out, free breakfast for two, free internet and 2000 Iprefer points when you book the Flight Credit and Breakfast offer at any of 13 hotels across the US and Canada.

    Preferred Winter sale - Get up to 30 percent or a free night at 113 hotels worldwide. The offer is subject to availability and taxes are extra. The offer is valid for stays until Feb. 10, 2015.

    Stay More, Save More offer - Receive 20 percent off the best available rate with a minimum four night stay, 25 percent off with a seven night stay, or 30 percent off with 10 nights or more at 16 participating Asia Pacific hotels

    When you book at the Preferred Hotel Group website PreferredHotelGroup.com, you will get the best rate with their price match guarantee and a member rewards program accepted at 500 plus hotels worldwide.

    Preferred Hotel Group or 866/990-9491.


    Year-Round Deals in California's Tuolumne County

    You can find a deal in Northern California's Yosemite Gold Country (Tuolumne County). Explore this area of California with authentic Gold Rush history, wine country, recreation and scenic vistas.

    Vacationland Values is an ongoing discount program designed for visitors. Check out deals by going online to . Deals may change, but the program is ongoing. For instance, A Lovely Place Inn in Twain Harte, 209/586-2583, offers a 10 percent discount for stays of three or more nights.

    To take advantage of the deals, head to one of two Visitor Centers (Sonora or Chinese Camp) and pick up a Vacationland Values key card and the list of current deals. Then show the card at participating businesses. Special values are on lodging, dining, shopping and attractions.

    Tuolumne County is in California's Gold Country and High Sierra regions. Fifty eight percent of Yosemite National Park lies within the borders of Tuolumne County, a two hour drive south of Sacramento, two hours north of Yosemite Valley and 2 and a half hours east of San Francisco.

    Tuolumne County California or 800/446-1333.


    Deep Blue Vacations Discounts

    Deep Blue Vacations’ dive travel vacations offers discounts on some of their trips.

    Go on a 14-night tour of the Turks & Caicos Islands onboard the Turks & Caicos Explorer II. With dives at Dive Grand Turk, South Caicos, French Cay, West Sand Spit, West Caicos and Northwest Point (weather permitting).

    The rate is from $4,390 per person, based on double occupancy for the May 16 to 30, 2015 trip.

    The package includes: 14 nights live-aboard accommodations; up to five dives daily; three meals daily except one evening meal; between-dive snacks; towels, linens, etc.; use of tanks, weights and weight belts; all air fills.

    Buddy Dive Resort Bonaire Spring Special offers 50 percent off food and three extra one-tank boat dives free. The spring special is valid for travel Apr. 11 to May 30, 2015, and cannot be combined with any other special.

      Rates are:
    • $1174 per diver, $859 per vacationer based on double occupancy in a studio
    • $1255 per diver, $940 per vacationer, based on double occupancy in a one bedroom apartment
    • $1043 per diver, $728 per vacationer, based on four people in a two bedroom apartment
    • $952 per diver, $638 per vacationer, based on six people in a three bedroom apartment
    • The special includes accommodations for seven nights
    • Rental vehicle (double cabin pick-up truck or van) for seven days (insurance extra). one vehicle per unit
    • Fifty percent off food bill at Blennies (up to $75 max discount per person)
    • Daily breakfast buffet
    • Welcome drink and free “Manager's Rum Punch Party”
    • Airport transfer and all government taxes
      Diver rate also includes:
    • Six boat dives
    • Three additional boat dives free
    • Six days of unlimited air fills
    • Free unlimited nitrox for nitrox certified divers

    Curacao and Ocean Encounters Early Bird Deals – Special rates plus $200 added values

    Aug. 30 to Oct. 30, 2015: $1311 per diver, $832 per vacationer, Book by Apr. 25, 2015

    Oct. 31 to Dec. 23, 2015: $1358 per diver, $878 per vacationer. Book by Apr. 25, 2015.

    Rates are per person based on double occupancy in Garden View rooms. Room upgrades, transfers, additional dives and specialty dives may be tailored to suit.

      Early bird deals include:
    • Seven nights’ all-inclusive accommodations
    • All meals and drinks including alcohol
    • Onsite entertainment
    • Hotel taxes and service fees
    • $200 resort coupons per room for spa treatments, romantic dining or wine purchases.

    Resort coupons must be redeemed at time of service. Resort coupons do not hold any cash or commercial value, are not refundable and non-transferable. They are not applicable for tips.

    Deep Blue Adventures or 888/266-2209.


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    Spring Discounts in the Poconos

    The Pocono Mountains region of Northeastern Pennsylvania covers 2,400 square miles with many events and attractions open year round.

    Here are some of the best vacation rental deals and specials available in the spring off-season through Pocono Vacation Rentals.

    New three bedrooms, two bath vacation chalet that sleeps 10 at 16 Eliot Lane, Towamensing, PA, Apr. 16 to June 15, 2015 $495 per weekend or $695 per week. An extra night is $95. Owner Mike Jones 856/303-1338.

    Lake Wallenpaupack three bedrooms, two bath house that sleeps eight. Special full week rental $875 valid Jan. 5 through Mar. 15, 2015. Owner.

    Three bedrooms, two bath house that sleeps eight in Brier Crest Woods, Blakeslee, PA. Through Mar. 18, 2015, weekend rate $700, weekly rate $1,150. Owner Tracy Buchanan 609/397-4347.

    Pocono Vacation Rentals.


    2-for-1 Royal Botswana Safari

    Great Safaris debuts its new Royal Botswana Safari with Victoria Falls. The itinerary offers 12 days of safari adventures and accommodations in Chobe National Park in Botswana and at Victoria Falls, known as the “smoke that thunders.”

    Great Safaris provides an introductory offer. If you book this tour by Jan. 31, 2015, you receive two bookings for the price of one. The regular land program is priced from $8,695 for travel Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, 2015, and Nov. 15 to Dec. 23, 2015.

    The price starts from $9,795 for travel Apr. 1 to May 31, 2015, and Oct. 15 to Nov. 14, 2015. This special is not combinable with other offers. International airfare is not included.

    This special includes internal Botswana bush plane flights from Kasane to the safari camps and to Maun. All meals and drinks on safari in Botswana are included with al fresco dining with views of the Moremi Game Reserve. The offer also includes internet access and satellite TV in Botswana and daily game viewing activities, including night game drives.

    Your journey starts and ends in Johannesburg with the first stop to Victoria Falls, with a guided tour of the Falls and surrounding rainforest then a sunset cruise along the Zambezi River.

    At Chobe National Park in Botswana, beasts roam free so you will encounter herds of buffalo, elephant and zebra, prey for lions, cheetah and leopards. Daily game drives led by guides in open safari vehicles with some nighttime game drives. Animal viewing for morning and evening game drives in Moremi Wildlife Reserve include big cats, antelope, rhino and buffalo.

    Great Safaris or 800/409-7755.


    Kids Ski and Ride for Free in Colorado

    In Colorado Ski Country getting kids on the slopes for free provides affordable family ski vacations. From waiving a lift ticket fee for kids under a certain age to free lift access, Colorado resorts provide families an opportunity for a well-priced ski vacation.

    Kids under five or six years of age can ski for free at many Colorado resorts. Children five and under ski for free all season long at Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, Loveland, Ski Granby Ranch, Steamboat, Sunlight Mountain Resort, Telluride, Ski Cooper, and Winter Park. Children six and under ski for free all season long at AspenSnowmass, Crested Butte, and Monarch.

    Here are some kids ski free packages and promotions.

    AspenSnowmass - Kids ski and stay free in March and April with a minimum three-day purchase. Kids ages seven to 12 ski and stay for free with the purchase of an adult three day or longer lift ticket. Kids ages seven to 12 rent equipment for free with the purchase of an adult rental. Book by Feb. 19, 2015 for travel Mar. 15 to 31, 2015. The package must be booked with Stay AspenSnowmass.

    Copper Mountain - Copper's One. Two. Free! package features a third night free on lodging, a third day free on lessons, and kids ages 12 and younger ski for free. This package includes a 33 percent savings on tubing sessions and Woodward Copper freestyle lessons. Copper is confident this is the lowest priced lift/lodging package and will honor if you find a lower price.

    Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, 800/525-0892 – The kids ski free package includes four nights of lodging, three days of lift tickets for mom and dad, and free kids' lift tickets. The package includes 25 percent off on lodging.

    Loveland – The three-class pass is for kids ages four to 14. Pre-purchase or complete three full-day lesson packages and receive a free unrestricted season pass to keep practicing skiing or snowboarding for the rest of the season. Children's full day lesson packages include the lesson, lift access, equipment rentals (ski or snowboard) and lunch.

    Steamboat – The Kids Ski Free and Grandkids Ski Free programs allows children 12 years of age and under to ski free the same number of days as their parents/grandparents when parents/grandparents purchase a five-or-more day adult lift ticket. Seniors (ages 70 and older) must purchase an adult ticket to be eligible for this program. Each qualifying purchase allows one free child per paid parent/grandparent. Kids also rent free when parents or grandparents rent equipment for five or more days.

    Additionally, one child (12 and under) is eligible to receive a free season pass when a parent or legal guardian purchases an adult Steamboat Season pass. Each additional child or teen in the same family can purchase a special priced Family season pass.

    Sunlight Mountain Resort - Book the Ski Swim Stay package and kids 12 and under can ski for free.

    Telluride Kids' Discovery Week - From Jan. 31 to Feb. 7, 2015, kids ages five to 14 ski free, stay free, and receive free lessons. Based on two adults and two children ages five to 14 in a junior suite at the Inn at Lost Creek, this package saves $100 per person, per night. Based on availability; some restrictions apply.

    Colorado Ski Country.


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    Winter Getaway Package at South Seas Island Resort

    Along the shores of Captiva Island in Southwest Florida, South Seas Island Resort offers a “Winter Getaway” package. Available through April 2015, stay three nights or longer and receive $25 per day in resort credits (up to $100) towards resort activities and restaurants, where kids eat free with purchase of an adult entree. Rates start from $179 per night.

    You also receive a coupon book with $250 in savings for family activities at the resort.

    South Seas Island Resort’s activities include guided family kayak tours, a nine-hole golf course, tennis, and spa services. Year-round tropical weather provides access to watersports including parasailing, waverunner rentals and banana boat rides.

    South Seas Island Resort is set on 330 acres and includes three pools within the resort pool complex. Skully’s Family Interactive Center provides a fun and educational atmosphere, featuring a creative corner, turtle tot program, Skully’s Arcade, and family lawn games.

    South Seas Island Resort Winter Getaway package or 800/533-5553.


    American Airlines 2015 Mileage Promotion

    American Airlines will reward a bonus mile promotion in 2015. AAdvantage and Dividend Miles members will receive bonus miles based on the distance flown, the fare purchased and your elite status level.

    American will reward members of the AAdvantage or Dividend Miles programs with bonus miles for purchased First or Business Class tickets on all eligible flights marketed or operated by American or US Airways. The promotion applies to all travel between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015.

    Eligible flights include AA and US-marketed and operated flights (including codeshare flights between the two carriers), and AA or US-marketed, partner-operated flights, including British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines and Qantas.

    Until the company merges the frequent flyer programs in the second quarter of 2015, eligible flights for Dividend Miles members will include all AA and US-marketed and operated flights (including codeshare flights between the two carriers).

    The airline's promotion provides bonus miles in addition to base mileage and elite status/class of service bonuses. The amount of bonus miles earned will depend on your elite status level and the length of the flight.

    Bonus Miles Earned Per Flight Segment:

    Executive Platinum or Chairman's Preferred status members who buy first or business class tickets in F,A,P,C,J,R or D class receive 12,000 bonus miles for long-haul flights and 1,000 bonus miles for medium or short haul flights of 3,000 miles or less.

    Discount business tickets in Z or I class receive 3,500 bonus miles for long-haul flights and 500 bonus miles for medium or short haul flights of 3,000 miles or less.

    AAdvantage Platinum or Gold status members or Dividend Miles Platinum, Gold or Silver status members who buy first or business class tickets in F,A,P,C,J,R or D class service receive 6,000 bonus miles for long-haul flights and 500 bonus miles for medium or short haul flights of 3,000 miles or less.

    Discount business tickets in Z or I class receive 1,000 bonus miles for long-haul flights and 2500 bonus miles for medium or short haul flights of 3,000 miles or less.

    Regular status members who buy first or business class tickets in F,A,P,C,J,R or D class receive 3,000 bonus miles for long-haul flights and 250 bonus miles for medium or short haul flights of 3,000 miles or less.

    Registration for the promotion is not necessary, as all bonus miles will be automatically added to your account after the eligible flight is complete.

    As previously announced, beginning Jan. 1, 2015, bonus miles for AAdvantage members on Business Class tickets on American and US Airways will increase from 25 to 50 percent to align with what Dividend Miles members receive today.

    American Airlines .


    WV Whitewater Rafting Redux - Articles and Photos By Nicki and Harold Chodnoff

    New River Bridge photo newrivergorgebridge_zps8b7aeb99.jpgThomas Wolfe was right. You can’t go home again. Over time, things and you change and you don’t recapture the feelings you had in the past. However, coming home or coming back can foster pleasant surprises.

    We encountered such a pleasant surprise last June when we went back to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Years ago, more than we care to remember, we had a fabulous, exhilarating experience whitewater rafting on the New and Gauley rivers. We rafted with Class VI Whitewater Rafters. After a divine day of rafting, we had a celebration dinner at the then newly opened Smokey’s Restaurant with its commanding views of the New River Gorge.

    Fast forward to 2014. Today Class VI Whitewater Rafters is part of Adventures on the Gorge. In addition to an extensive variety of whitewater rafting trips appropriate for families up to adrenalin junkies, AOTG offers other adventure experiences for climbers, zip-liners, hikers and mountain bikers and a bridge walk under the deck of the New River Bridge. Plus, conveniently, they added accommodations.

    This time around our whitewater rafting was family style. Our dilemma was how to keep our two granddaughters equally delighted as one is an eight year old and the other a jaded 18 year old. AOTG came through. Their family rafting trips (appropriate for kids as young as six) give you the option of rowing a one- or two-person ducky, an inflatable kayak-like watercraft, or seated as a passenger on a raft with the guide.

     photo 2personducky_zps1f32d8b1.jpg The rapids along the 13 mile Upper New River trip, through some of the most beautiful and remote looking country in the eastern United States are mild, going up to Class III. At most they dip the raft a foot or so and splash a lot of water. And between the rapids you have a peaceful paddle with stretches of river that looked mirror-smooth and calm on our rafting day.

    On a sunny Tuesday, we checked in and took a 20 minute bus ride along remote country roads to our put in point on the Upper New River. Once off the bus, everyone headed to their watercraft – raft or ducky. You made your raft or ducky choice during the check-in process. Our eight year old Elli, started the day in a two-person ducky with grand pop while 18 year old Kendall opted for independence and a one-person ducky.

    As it is early June, the warm sun contrasts with the cool river once on the water. It is easy to understand why the deep, river gorge is considered a national treasure with its tree-lined banks and rocky cliffs. Our flotilla consists of 20 or so duckys, occupied by families, and was kept in check by two seasoned guides. Other than our group, we had the river to ourselves. Weekdays seem like the best time for a family to visit since the area is less crowded and deals are better.

    Shortly after we set out, we encounter some of the lazy rapids on the Upper New River. Ranked in the lower end of the rapids spectrum, mostly Class II on a scale of I to VI, the gentle rapids give everyone a gentle sense of adventure and let everyone get use to paddling and staying together as a group. Our guide Kiera, from her vantage point on the raft encourages the group to “follow the bubbles. Let the river do the work for you.”

     photo viewfromnewrivergorgebridge_zpsa83f2133.jpgAfter the rapids, we meander down the river. As we float by, Kiera points out the overgrown areas on the banks that were once coal mining towns. The towns now are memories, colorful stories kept alive by the river guides such as the 14 year long card party played just east of the now ghost town of Thurmond. Ripley’s Believe It or Not claimed it to be the world's longest-lasting poker game.

    After a morning of easy rapids and calm pools of water, we stop to rest for a much-deserved and well-prepared picnic lunch on the banks before we set out for the somewhat bigger rapids ahead.

    The morning’s smaller rapids allow kids to test their skills and get the knack of “surfing” West Virginia style, albeit a gentler version. Safety is emphasized. Guides are well trained, certified and wear safety gear. As important as safety and skill, our guides are also entertainers. They tell stories of their time on the water and jokes. Kiera had a particularly beautiful voice and loved to sing while paddling.

    Kendall started the day at the head of our group and still had the lead position as we headed to the Class III rapids. At this point, Elli left the ducky and got into the raft with guide Kiera. As we approached the first larger rapid, Elli had butterflies in her stomach and a wide-eye apprehensive look on her face. By the end of the rapid, which lasted less than 30 seconds, apprehensive turned into an ear-to-ear grin and the butterflies were history. From that point on, Elli was a rapids junkie coaxing Kiera to go for the rapids whenever there was the smallest wave or ripple.

    canyon rim swimming hole photo canyonrimswimminghole_zps5412ab53.jpgAfter a full day of rafting, it occurred to me on the bus ride back to AOTG, not once did either grandchild ask for their phones, beg to play a video game or music or say, “I’m bored.” That in itself seems like a miracle.

    Thinking back to when we first visited the New River Gorge area, adventure was the mainstay. AOTG, as the New River Gorge area, evolved from a rafting company to a resort on the rim of the gorge. They transitioned from a one- to several day rafting getaway to a well-rounded vacation destination that expands to families. AOTG added restaurants and lodging, with three restaurants, including an expanded Smokey's on the Gorge that spreads to a cantilevered deck over the gorge with spectacular views. There are also bars and a bandstand for live entertainment.

    Lodging options at the property range from camping sites to fully furnished cabins that have kitchens and hot tubs. We stayed in a three bedroom cabin with a hot-tub, outdoor fire-pit and picnic table. For little more than what hotel accommodations would cost, we had the luxury of spreading out in a lovely woodland setting. And it was in walking distance to the Canyon Falls swimming hole, places to eat, the Canyon Rim store and Canyon Rim Village where most of the rafting and other tours depart.

    Being close to the Canyon Falls swimming hole was a distinct advantage. Each afternoon or evening, after a day of exploring or rafting, the kids headed for Canyon Falls to swim for hours. Calling it a swimming hole doesn’t do it justice. Right on the rim of the New River Gorge, the pool has stonework, waterfalls, fountains, handicapped access and a splash park for younger kids.

    around the firepit photo aroundthefirepit_zps096dd952.jpg Our days would end by the outdoor fire-pit each evening, roasting marshmallows. We’d relax around the fire and talk about the day’s adventures and what was in store for the next day.

    All-inclusive West Virginia vacations are available at AOTG (May 1 through October 1) so you pay one price for lodging, meals and the adventures of your choice. Pay by the day, as many days as you want, then choose your lodging, meals and activities which can include guided whitewater rafting, canopy touring, fishing, rock climbing and mountain biking tours.

    One of the newer area attractions is walking under an engineering masterpiece. Now you can walk under the 3,030foot long, four-lane New River Gorge bridge. The bridge completes U.S. Route 19 and slashes the drive time across the deep New River Gorge to less than a minute. Previously it took 45 minutes to drive down narrow mountain roads to cross the New River. Since the bridge has no super structure and a low highway profile, the passengers in the nearly 20,000 vehicles that cross the bridge on an average day may not be aware of the beautiful gorge beneath them.

    Bridge Walk opens the New River Gorge Bridge for casual crossings 12 months a year. You walk on the 24-inch-wide steel maintenance catwalk 851 feet above the gorge which crosses the bridge's truss structure 20 feet beneath the center of the highway. Since the bridge was completed in 1977, climbing onto the maintenance catwalk in the dark of night had been a rite of passage for local daredevils.

    The tours are two to four hours in length and limited to people who are 48" or taller, 10 years or older and able to wear a harness with a maximum waist of 52" and leg thigh of 34" circumference.

    After checking in at Basecamp, you are shuttled to the Canyon Rim Visitor's Center. A short path leads to where you enter the catwalk. Before beginning the tour, you are fastened to the safety cable making it impossible to fall from the bridge.

    view from Smokey's Restaurant deck photo smokeysdeckoverlookinggorge_zps0e7be165.jpgBridge Walk is physically easy and a sensational experience. Views from the bridge are at first terrifying before they become astonishing. Along the entire walk, there are incomparable vistas: the continuous cliffs, creeks and waterfalls of the gorge, the ancient New river where you may spot whitewater rafters come through Fayette station rapid, and a ribbon of railroad tracks along both banks where you can occasionally see a train make its way through the winding gorge.

    Hawks and turkey vultures soared on the breezes that swirl around you. There's plenty of time for conversation and questions.

    One certainly gets a sense of the bridge as a living structure. The rust-colored steel trusses vibrate as highway traffic rumbles by 20 feet overhead. Interestingly, those vibrations are more pronounced over the trusses that reach the ground and nearly vanish over trusses anchored to the elegant 1,700-foot arch than spans the river basin itself. Then all becomes almost silent.

    The intricate under bridge geometrics provide insights to the extraordinary engineering required to design and erect this structure. Our walk guide explains how steel plate was cut, shaped and welded into huge, hollow box beams that were assembled on site and then hoisted into place and bolted together. We hear how maintenance crews inspect the entire structure every other year, and how preparations are being made to replace the hundreds of thousands of bolts, which hold it together.

    Although the New River Gorge area and Class VI River Runners were far different than our earlier experience. Both matured and aged well, getting better with time.

    Adventure on the Gorge or 855/379-8738.

    Where to Eat

    If you have time to explore Fayetteville, check out Pies and Pints, 219 W Maple Ave, Fayetteville, WV 25840 - 304/574-2200.

    A selection of more than 20 beer styles, including gluten free beer and 18 different pizza pies await. Beyond the tried and true cheese and Margherita pies, pizza combinations stray from the norm: red grapes, gorgonzola and fresh rosemary, Sriracha shrimp with pineapple, scallions and mint, black beans, jalapeños and crème fraiche.

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    Blue Train Value

    The Blue Train, luxury rail in South Africa, offers values for travel between Jan. 10 and Mar. 31, 2015. You can choose between two offers when you travel on board between Pretoria and Cape Town or vice versa.

    One free night at Camp Jabulani within the Big Five Kapama Game Reserve in Hoedspruit. The experience includes game drives and meals (excluding beverages and elephant back safaris). Camp Jabulani's interiors blend with the rugged African bushveld, providing comfort that makes you feel at home.

    OR

    Two free hotel nights in Pretoria or Cape Town, with breakfast included and a one way transfer between the hotel and station. Options include the Sheraton or Castello di Monte in Pretoria or the Westin or Taj in Cape Town.

    These values are valid on new bookings only.

    The Blue Train.


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