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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, January 2016 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 877
Logan OH 43138
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2016 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff

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Cheap Tickets! Save up to 70% and get extra $30 Off. Use Coupon Code: SFAIR30. Book Now

Happy 2016. May your travels in the coming year be frequent and rewarding.

In This Issue:
Center Family Dwelling, Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Harrodsburg, KY

 photo center20family20vertical_zps3qtekovx.jpg

  • The Colonnade Hotel Frosty Fridays Package
  • Free Bike Rental for 2016 Bali Mountain Bike Tour
  • Jin Jiang Hotels Winter Promotion
  • Grand China Tour from $6,099
  • Cook Islands 5 Night Honeymoon Package
  • Ecela Travel and Spanish Language Learning
  • Welcome Winter with Millennium Hotels
  • WV State Park Discounts
  • Alaska Airlines Free Skiing and Flights
  • Tips for Traveling with Heavy Luggage
  • Holland America View and Verandah Promotion
  • 52% Off Yangtze River Cruises
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort Intro Offer
  • Airstream 2 Go El Paso Branch
  • 70% Off 10 Day China Highlights Tour
  • French Country Waterways Incentives
  • Wyndham Extra Holidays 15% Discount
  • Low Airfares to Antigua and Barbuda
  • Seeing the Sights at Shaker Village
  • MSC Cruises 2 for 1 Balcony Sale

  • The Colonnade Hotel Frosty Fridays Package

    The Colonnade Hotel, in Boston’s Back Bay, celebrates winter’s with its cold weather package, Frosty Fridays. The two-night weekend deal where the Friday room rate is determined by the 5 p.m. temperature reading by the National Weather Service has a special rate of $299 for Saturday. The package is subject to availability.

    This year, you can receive second night savings and pay the outside temperature on Friday night plus receive that same amount discounted from the second night’s $299 room rate. So, if the temperature is 18 degrees at 5 p.m. on Friday night, you pay $18 for your room on Friday night and a further discounted rate of $281 for Saturday night.

    For the first time, the Colonnade Hotel will offer Frosty Friday package options catering to couples and families. Through Mar. 25, 2016, you can customize your visit by selecting one of the following Frosty Friday packages:

      Frosty Fridays for Families:
    • Overnight accommodations for four
    • Choice of: admission and ice skating rentals for four at Boston Common Frog Pond or tickets for Old Town Trolley Tour
    • “Make your own” hot chocolate bar, with marshmallows, cinnamon sticks, candy canes, caramel and milk
    • Free overnight parking in the Colonnade’s onsite garage.
      Frosty Fridays for Couples:
    • Overnight accommodations for two
    • Reservation for two at Brasserie JO for wine and cheese pairing
    • Choice of: admission and ice skating rentals for two at Boston Common Frog Pond or tickets to Skywalk Observatory
    • Free overnight parking in the Colonnade’s onsite garage.

    Colonnade Hotel or 617/424-7000.

    Free Bike Rental for 2016 Bali Mountain Bike Tour

    SpiceRoads Cycle Tours offers free bike rental for its Bali Mountain Bike Adventure tours in 2016. To take advantage of this offer book the seven-day adventure before Jan. 31, 2016.

    The Bali bike adventure takes you to Batur Crater and various canyons. The ride goes along dirt tracks, through lava deposits and on to tarmac roads. The diversity of the area is immense from lava fields to beautifully-crafted rice paddies to gorgeous beaches.

    This seven-day tour includes five days of cycling from 18 to 22 miles per day with a total of 105 miles. The trip is recommended for riders who have some off-road experience. This tour is mainly on jeep tracks and single trails. While the off-road riding is not that technical, some experience is recommended.

      2016 departures
    • Apr. 10 to 16, 2016
    • May 1 to 7, 2016
    • June 5 to 11, 2016
    • July 10 to 16, 2016
    • July 31 to Aug. 6, 2016
    • Sep. 4 to 10, 2016
    • Oct. 16 to 22, 2016

    The Republic of Indonesia grants visa-free entry to citizens of 30 countries including the U.S. and Canada.

    The tour costs $1,250 with a $450 single supplement). Bike rental is free.



    Jin Jiang Hotels Winter Promotion

    Jin Jiang International Hotels and its member hotels kick off the "Go with All Your Heart" promotion. Through Feb. 29, 2016, you receive a 15 percent room rate discount, hot drinks, discounts for the buffet and free room upgrades.

    Jin Jiang International Hotels and its 33 member hotels in 14 provinces and cities across China provide convenient accommodations for business or leisure travelers.

    In China the winter chill is already in the air. Although a large snowfall is a somewhat rare phenomenon in most Chinese cities, when the snow arrives, those cities are covered with the white stuff. Bathing in a hot spring and skiing are the most popular activities among tourists.

    All the Jin Jiang hotels taking part in the promotion have hot springs or skiing facilities nearby.

    Reservations are available until Feb. 29, 2016. The promotion is subject to designated room types. A deposit equivalent to the room rate for one night is required.

    Jin Jiang International Hotels.

    Grand China Tour from $6,099

    Oriental Tours and Travel offers a 16 day Grand China tour from $6,099 that includes airfare with stops in Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Guilin, Hong Kong and Macau. The Tour Code is PHM16.
      The package includes:
    • Roundtrip airfare from your gateway city to Beijing
    • Inter-China flights Beijing to Xian; Xian to Shanghai; Hangzhou to Guilin;
    • Guilin to Hong Kong; Hong Kong to Beijing
    • Airline taxes and fuel surcharge
    • 14 nights’ accommodations – three nights at the Grand Hyatt Beijing,
    • One night at the Westin Xian, two nights at the Fairmont Peace Shanghai, one night at the Hyatt Regency Suzhou, one night at the Intercontinental Hangzhou, two nights at the Shangri-La Guilin and four nights at the Langham Place Hong Kong
    • All transfers
    • English-speaking guides
    • 34 meals: 14 breakfasts, 11 lunches, nine dinners
    • Sightseeing in air-conditioned motor coach
    • All admissions and entrance fees

    Oriental Tours and Travel or 800/830-8747.

    Cook Islands 5 Night Honeymoon Package

    Tahiti Legends offers the Cook Islands Retreat package featuring the Royale Takitumu Villas. Package number CST#1005294-40.

    The five night honeymoon package to the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands includes free daily breakfast and romantic honeymoon amenities. The package is valid for travel through Mar. 31, 2016 and prices start from $2,675 per person, based on double occupancy. The offer is subject to availability plus black out dates, minimum stay requirements, seasonal surcharges, currency exchange fluctuations, and other restrictions may apply.

      The package includes:
    • Roundtrip International airfare from Los Angeles on Air New Zealand
    • Early Check-in at 10AM
    • Five nights at the Royale Takitumu Villas in a one bedroom VIP beachfront villa
    • Free daily breakfast
    • Honeymoon Amenities: free bottle of sparkling wine and fruit basket
    • Late check-out
    • Welcome flower lei
    • All transfers and baggage handling
    • Airline taxes, fuel surcharges, room tax and VAT included.

    Tahiti Legends or 800/200-1213.

    Valentin's Day 40% off + $30 coupon

    Ecela Travel and Spanish Language Learning

    Learning a new language doesn't have to be rote memorization or countless hours in classrooms – that's the message from Ecela, a Spanish language-learning program focusing on practical knowledge, cultural immersion and travel.

    Ecela is geared toward people of all ages and backgrounds and has no prerequisites with respect to language fluency. For basic grammar instruction, classes top out at eight students. Conversation classes have no more than four students. This ensures each student receives the personalized attention necessary to succeed and thrive. All Ecela teachers are native Spanish speakers.

    Ecela's founders believe that everyone should learn a new language in the best possible way – immersion. Making the program affordable is part and parcel with that goal. Class prices are the same at each school starting at $165 per week for the partial program. Discounts from five to 33 percent are available for programs longer than two weeks. Ecela keeps costs in check through homestay program where students are matched with a host family. A homestay with breakfast and dinner is $220 per week in Peru, $250 per week in Chile and $285 per week in Argentina.

    With six locations across South America, Ecela allows students to move from one location to another, soaking up local history, culture and attractions. Some students pursue their studies at a single location, while others combine language learning with travel.

    Ecela affords opportunities to immerse yourself in local cultures. Optional, extracurricular activities include local guided tours, dance classes and cooking lessons.

    Ecela or 347/329-5506.

    Welcome Winter with Millennium Hotels

    This season, Millennium Hotels and Resorts invites you to embrace winter whether "Snow or Shine." With 10 percent off Best Flexible Rates, free breakfast for two and Internet privileges, a seasonal getaway awaits in cities from Los Angeles to Boston.

    You can warm up to winter with rates from $75 per room, per night ($95/night in gateway cities) including New York City, Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis. If you prefer sunshine to snowflakes head west to Los Angeles.

    Additional properties offering the "Snow or Shine" package are located in Anchorage, Boulder, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Durham, Nashville and Scottsdale.

    The "Snow or Shine" package is valid through Feb. 29, 2016.

    Millennium Hotels and Resorts or 866/866-8086.

    WV State Park Discounts

    West Virginia State Parks offer discounts

    WV50 – Jan. 1 to 31, 2016, seven WV State Park Lodges offer $50 room rates for standard rooms, as available. WV50 cannot be combined with other discounts, packages or specials and the rate is subject to taxes. The WV50 rate is not available Jan. 15, 16, and 17, 2016, at Pipestem.

      The seven park lodges are:
    • Cacapon Resort – 304/258-1022
    • Chief Logan Lodge – 304/855-6100
    • Hawks Nest – 304/658-5212
    • North Bend – 304/643-2931
    • Pipestem Resort – 304/466-1800
    • Twin Falls Resort – 304/294-4000
    • Tygart Lake – 304/265-6144

    Cracker Jack room rates at Pipestem Resort State Park 304/466-1800 means 50 percent off room rates, Sunday, Monday, and/or Tuesday nights during: Jan. 4 to 30, 2016; and Feb. 3 to Mar.31, 2016. If you want to stay longer at Pipestem's McKeever Lodge, you can receive a 20 percent discount for Wednesday and/or Thursday night(s) during the valid Cracker Jack dates. Advance reservations appreciated. Walk-ins welcome as available. Ask for a Cracker Jack of a discount.

    Veteran's Appreciation – Receive 50 percent off accommodation rates Nov. 1 to 13, 2016, as available, at West Virginia state park lodges and cabins.

    A year-round 10 percent discount is offered off standard lodge rooms, standard cabins and standard campsites at West Virginia State Parks. Discount cannot be combined with other discounts.

    West Virginia State Parks.


    Alaska Airlines Free Skiing and Flights

    With Alaska's Fly 2, Get 1 for the Tax offer, you can make the season last longer with this program.

    Fly two roundtrips to a qualifying ski destination this winter, and get a discount code good for a third roundtrip ticket to any of those destinations. You'll have to cover the taxes and fees starting from $21. The offer is valid for Mileage Plan members. Registration is required prior to the first qualifying flight and must be completed by Feb. 5, 2016. Once registered, you must fly four qualifying nonstop flights from any Alaska Airlines city (excluding Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Prudhoe Bay) to SUN, GEG, MMH, HDN, GUC, RNO, BZN, YYC, YVR, SLC, FCA, YLW, ABQ, RDM, or ANC by Feb. 23, 2016. Travel must be credited to your Mileage Plan account by Mar. 1, 2016. Flights must be marketed and operated by Alaska Airlines. Not valid on free or award travel.

    With "Fly Alaska, ski free," you can ski free at 10 resorts this season. Participating mountains include: Alyeska Resort, Big Sky Resort, Big White Ski Resort, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Mammoth Mountain, Mt. Bachelor, RED Mountain Resort, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Snowbasin Resort, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows Resort, Steamboat Ski & Resort, Sun Valley Resort and Whitefish Mountain Resort. Show your boarding pass at any of these destinations for free skiing and ski deals. See site for details. www..

    Alaska Air.

    Tips for Traveling with Heavy Luggage

    As families pack their suitcases to hit the road, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reminds you to practice caution when lifting heavy luggage.

    According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were more than 72,900 luggage-related injuries in 2014.

    "Individuals are at high risk for back, neck and shoulder strains when carelessly handling heavy luggage," said orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Nitin Khanna, MD. "Instead, always be cognizant of the way you are lifting heavy luggage to avoid painful injuries."

      The AAOS offers the following tips:
    • When purchasing new luggage, look for a sturdy, light piece with wheels and a handle.

    • Pack lightly. When possible, pack items in a few smaller bags instead of one large piece of luggage. Many airlines restrict carry-on luggage weighing more than 40 pounds.

    • When lifting luggage onto a platform or into a car trunk, stand alongside of it. Bend at your knees, not your waist. Lift with your leg muscles, then grasp the handle and straighten up. Lift your luggage close to your body.

    • When placing luggage in an overhead compartment, first lift it onto the top of the seat. Then, firmly place your hands on the left and right sides of the suitcase and lift it up. If your luggage has wheels, make sure the wheel-side is set in the compartment first. Once wheels are inside, put one hand on the luggage and push it to the back of the compartment.

    • Do not twist your body when lifting and carrying luggage. Instead, point your toes in the direction you are headed, and then turn your entire body in that direction.

    • Do not rush when lifting or carrying a suitcase. If it is too heavy or an awkward shape, get help.

    • Do not carry heavier pieces of luggage for long periods of time. If it is too heavy, make sure to check luggage when traveling rather than carrying it on a plane, train or bus.

    • If using a backpack, make sure it has two padded and adjustable shoulder straps. Choose one with several compartments to secure various-sized items. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder does not allow weight to be distributed evenly, which can also contribute to muscle strain.

    • Carry, don't drag, your luggage when climbing the stairs. Instead, take the elevator.
    American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

    4 Star hotel Deals! Get $60 off with Coupon Code HWIZ60*

    Holland America View and Verandah Promotion

    Holland America Line has a "View and Verandah" sale to entice you to book a 2016 or 2017 cruise. The offers include free stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off select shore excursions and savings on Collectors' Voyages if booked by Feb. 29, 2016.

    As part of the promotion, depending on departure and ship, book an inside stateroom and be upgraded to an outside stateroom. Book an ocean-view stateroom and be upgraded to a verandah, representing up to $300 per stateroom savings.

    Select Collectors' Voyages also are eligible for up to 25 percent off, a savings of up to $3,198 per stateroom, under the View and Verandah promotion. Collectors' Voyages combine back-to-back cruises to form a non-repeating longer itinerary that provides a more in-depth exploration of a region. For example, receive an upgrade to a verandah category and save $1,299 by booking an ocean-view stateroom on next year's 29-day Pacific Treasure and New Zealand Discovery Collectors' Voyage sailing roundtrip from Sydney, Australia. The cruise departs Nov. 22, 2016, aboard ms Noordam. In Europe, the ms Eurodam's 24-day Magic of the Mediterranean Collectors' Voyage departing May 30, 2016, begins at $2,499 per person for a verandah stateroom (upgraded from ocean-view), a savings of $850.

    Reserve select shore excursions prior to your cruise and receive up to 10 percent savings if booked by Mar. 15, 2016. This date is extended beyond the View and Verandah offer deadline. More than 1,500 tours on all cruise itineraries will receive the savings.

    Holland America Line or 877/724-5425.

    52% Off Yangtze River Cruises

    Victoria Cruises offers up to 52 percent off Yangtze River cruises this winter. Private balcony staterooms for a three- or four-night sailing between Chongqing and Yichang start at $470 per person, based on double occupancy, in January and February 2016, representing a savings of $510 per person.

    You can upgrade to a private balcony superior stateroom with luxury amenities for $670 per person, based on double occupancy, also a savings of $510 per person. Luxury amenities include "white glove" service, access to exclusive ship areas, free Wi-Fi internet access and enhanced dining privileges.

    By booking the Shangri-La suite from $1,510 per person, based on double occupancy, you receive more spacious accommodations with luxury amenities, saving $1,050 per person.

    Winter special sailings sail downstream on Thursdays and upstream on Sundays. Offering a way to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Victoria Cruises also offers additional special sailings with downstream departures on Feb. 8 and 9, 2016, and upstream departures on Feb. 11 and 12, 2016 with an additional surcharge of $200 per person, based on double occupancy.

    Victoria Cruises or 800/348-8084.

    Loews Sapphire Falls Resort Intro Offer

    Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, the newest on-site hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, offers travel agents an introductory offer for their clients.

    Agents who book by Jan. 31, 2016, for stays July 14 to Dec. 15, 2016, can offer their clients rates from $120 per night for a seven-night stay and $144 per night for a four-night stay in a standard room. Additionally, if you take advantage of the offer through a travel agent, you will receive free breakfast for two (per room, per night) each morning of your stay.

    Loews Sapphire Falls Resort offers early theme park admission, free water taxi and shuttle bus service to the theme parks and Universal CityWalk, free merchandise delivery to the hotel and resort-wide charging privileges with your room key.

    Reservations are being accepted for stays beginning July 14, 2016.


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    Airstream 2 Go El Paso Branch

    Trailer rental firm Airstream 2 Go opened an El Paso, TX branch and offers seasonal Texas Two Step trips from that location through April 2016.

    Either book Take It & Go rates and follow your own route plan or fully customize an itinerary and plan out all evening stopovers and a full range of daily activities.

    Through an exclusive partnership with Texas bootmaker Lucchese, all custom itineraries will include a visit to the company's headquarters in El Paso, where each group of travelers will receive one pair of Lucchese Boots, shipped overnight to their Airstream trailer by Zappos.com.

    Take It & Go rates start at $1,920 for three-day packages with the 23-foot trailer and $2,280 for the 28-foot trailer; eight-day, custom itineraries begin at $6,080 for the 23-foot rig and $7,000 for the 28-foot vehicle.

    Airstream 2 Go or 800/780-9880.

    70% Off 10 Day China Highlights Tour

    Nexus Holidays offers its 10 day China Highlights tour at 70% off, with fares from $649 per person including airfare and taxes. The $649 rate is offered on the Feb. 10, 2016 departure. There are limited spots on the Mar. 4, 2016 departure priced at $599 per person.

    The trip allows you to explore the Forbidden City and Great Wall in Beijing, Bund in Shanghai and Suzhou, Hangzhou and Wuxi all in one trip.

    Departures are from Los Angeles or San Francisco with Air China or Hainan Airline. Other departure cities are available at an added cost.

      The tour includes:
    • Roundtrip airfare
    • Domestic flights within China
    • Eight nights in a five star hotel
    • 18 meals
    • English-speaking guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees
    • All transfers and transportation.

    Prices are based on twin share accommodations and the single supplement is $380 per person. The package price is based on airfare availability. Use code: NHTZ07 when booking.

    Not included in the tour price are the China Visa fees, any insurance and tips of $100 per person.

    Nexus Holidays or 888/797-7899.

    French Country Waterways Incentives

    French Country Waterways, an American-owned company offering barge cruises along France’s canal system, offers incentives to reserve space on April 2016 departures on any of the company’s Burgundy itineraries.

    In addition to $600 savings per couple, you receive a free one-night stay at a luxury Paris hotel the night before your cruise departs. Rates in the April shoulder season start at $4,195 per person on the 18-passenger Esprit and $5,895 per person on the 12-passenger Adrienne and Nenuphar barges. Rates are based on double occupancy. Staterooms booked for single occupancy will receive a $300 discount. Other restrictions apply. All trips depart on Sundays and last six nights.

    The Adrienne and Esprit travel the Burgundy route, cruising the Canal de Bourgogne and the Canal du Centre near the Côte d’Or wine region. Highlights include a walking tour of Dijon; a visit to Beaune; a wine tasting in Chassagne-Montrachet; and dinner at the Lameloise restaurant. The Nenuphar takes the central Burgundy route. Activities on this itinerary are a private wine tasting in Chablis, visits to the Abbaye de Fontenay and château of Ancy-le-Franc, and dinner at Le Relais Bernard Loiseau.

    Each barge is a floating hotel staffed by an English-speaking crew, one of whom is an accomplished chef. Buffet breakfasts include fresh breads and pastries picked up in the villages along the way. Dinners are served in the dining room, and lunches are served there or on the sundeck. Throughout the journey, you are offered more than two dozen different wines, many from Grand Cru or Premier Cru vineyards, and countless French cheeses.

    Besides the daily excursions, you can hop off the barge to walk or cycle along the canal towpaths, explore the French countryside, take photos or mingle with locals. Hot air balloon flight (an additional fee applies), allows you to see France from land, water and air.

    French Country Waterways or 800/222-1236.

    Hawaii with NetTrips.net

    Wyndham Extra Holidays 15% Discount

    Wyndham Extra Holidays, a subsidiary of Wyndham Vacation Ownership, offers a discount of 15 percent off your next vacation at a new Club Wyndham Plus resort — Wyndham Desert Blue in Las Vegas, NV.

    Book by Jan. 31, 2016, for travel by Sep. 30, 2016. Mention code NEWBLUE when booking. A two-night minimum stay is required and the offer is valid for new reservations only. Reservations are subject to availability and not valid over holidays and special events.

    Wyndham Desert Blue is minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip, shopping and dining. When you're ready to relax, Wyndham Desert Blue has a pool, whirlpool spa, pool bar and grill and fitness room.

    Wyndham Extra Holidays or 800/670-3620.

    Low Airfares to Antigua and Barbuda

    The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority along with the Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism plans to increase air service from the North American market.

    Antigua and Barbuda are experiencing record low airfares during the busiest time of the season, when travelers are eager to escape winter.

    You can now find fares to Antigua and Barbuda from $280 roundtrip including taxes and fees on United, American Airlines and JetBlue from New York (JFK) and Newark (EWR). JetBlue’s entry-level $280 fare will be available through March 2016. Low fares with flight times of less than four hours make Antigua and Barbuda an easy to reach getaway.

    Historically known as one of the less affordable Caribbean destinations to get to, this shift in price is expected to increase visitor arrivals and travelers will get more for their money.

    Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) and Barbuda (Bar-byew’da) are the largest of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Antigua & Barbuda comprises 108-square miles and 365 white and pink sand beaches. Antigua’s history and topography provide sightseeing opportunities: Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort commissioned by the British, Betty’s Hope, one of the first full-scale sugar plantations on Antigua offers a chance to step back in time by visiting the restored mills. Devil’s Bridge, at the eastern tip of the island in Indian Town National Park, is where Atlantic breakers have carved out a natural limestone arch.

    Antigua & Barbuda.

    Seeing the sights at Shaker Village – Article by Nicki and Harold Chodnoff, photos courtesy of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

     photo fall20at20historic20center_zpsovjxoaoq.jpgIt’s 10 a.m. on a beautiful November day as we walk the path to the initial orientation at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, KY. Sunlight streams onto the autumn-hued trees making them look as if they were on fire. Shafts of sunlight illuminate the heritage buildings in the Historic Centre and makes them glow on what can be described as a picture perfect pastoral scene.

    By all appearances this can pass for utopia and that’s what the Shaker community tried to achieve. Pleasant Hill was one of roughly 20 Shaker settlements in the United States within a broad utopian movement (including Quakers, the Amana Colonies and the Harmony Society) that rose out of Protestantism in the 1700s and stressed glorifying God using intense physical movements. The Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill historic site uses self-guided tours, costumed interpreters, exhibits, talks, demonstrations, exhibitions, and hands-on activities to explain the community that, between 1805 and 1910 — peaking at 491 members in 1823, was among the most successful of the Shaker communities.

    The name "Shakers," originally offensive, derived from the term "Shaking Quakers" a mocking description of their rituals of trances, trembling, shouting, dancing, shaking, singing, and glossolalia (speaking in strange and unknown languages). The group’s official name, which they used after arriving in America from England in 1774, was the United Society of Believers in the Second Coming of Christ.

     photo center20family20vertical_zps3qtekovx.jpg Hard work was the simple-living Shakers mantra. Shakers worked from dawn to dark, banding barrels, building things, tending animals and gardens of medicinal herbs and food stuffs. Along the way they invented things like the wooden clothespin, the flat broom, the circular saw and the washing machine.

    Women worked in the communal laundry, food preparation and broom-making. Men crafted handsome chairs and cabinets or worked in the 3,000 acres of farmland (now striped with hiking trails) that still surround the bucolic site. Known for cattle breeding and seed innovations, they were among Kentucky’s savviest agricultural businessmen. Costumed demonstrators show how community necessities such as brooms and woodworking were made at heritage craft workshops that change seasonally.

    Shakers were godly. Days were filled with constant prayer and confession of sins to other Shakers. Apart from trips to town to market their renowned gadgets and produce, Shakers kept pretty much to themselves. The outside world was evil.

    Shakers were teetotalers. After the mid-1840s, sobriety was strictly practiced.

    Shakers were celibate. Like other Shaker settlements, residents were required to sleep in single-sex dorms and practice celibacy. As families joined the colony, men parted from wives, brothers from sisters. Buildings had two front doors and hallways were wide enough so men wouldn`t accidentally brush against women. Our guide said that elders spread powder on floors between the rooms and checked for footprints in the morning. For many members, the appeal of utopia faded when they realized potential partners were prohibited.

    Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill gives you a fascinating window on Shaker ways. Nearly 30 original buildings survive. Restorers preserved the solid simplicity of the architecture and the peacefully pastoral setting.

    Special events and daily craft demonstrations celebrate the Shaker legacy. You can even eat Shaker food and sleep where the Shakers slept; overnight lodging is possible in many of the original Shaker dwellings. This may be the only place in the nation where you can stay overnight in original Shaker buildings.

     photo weaving20at20center20family20dwelling_zpsa2obwhjr.jpgAs you approach the Historic Centre area, hand-stacked stone fences part to reveal the village today. Suddenly, it`s the 19th Century.

    A self-guided walking tour includes 14 restored buildings. Among the buildings open to explore is the Meeting House. Here’s where Shakers got their worship thing on each Sunday and worshipped for "as long as the Holy Spirit moved them” which could be all day. The white clapboard building, with separate doors for men and women, is dominated on the first floor by a large, wood-floored hall with benches around the perimeter and on each side of the room.

    We sit on hard benches listening to our guide explain about Shaker life. I couldn’t imagine sitting on that bench more than 30 minutes let alone the whole day. Our guide was monotone and dry but others in our group who were here before told us that some guides perform chants, dances, arm sweeps and heavenward glances. That sort of performance would make a hard bench seem a little more comfortable. We didn’t get the full blown experience as our November visit was after the main April through October visitor season. The Shakers wrote thousands of hymns, most notably "Simple Gifts," popularized by Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring."

    If you are strapped for time, along with the Meeting Hall focus on the Centre Family Dwelling, the imposing 40-room limestone building built in 1834 where 60 to 80 adults lived dormitory style as a family. Pleasant Hill's largest building reveals much about Shaker life and now houses reproduction furniture, a kitchen and exhibits on Shaker occupations, including furniture-making and working textiles.

     photo Shaker20Village20meeting20house_zps0y7fmszk.jpgShaker founder Ann Lee, known as "Mother Ann," said, "Put your hands to work, and your hearts to God." Work was a sacrament, an expression of devotion to community and to God, so Shakers attempted perfection in all things. So a Shaker chair builder believed the beauty of any object was in its function, in its utility. In trying for perfection, the chair builder would not include the touches that society deemed as beautiful and got to the pure essence of a chair. Perhaps the 19th-century world didn't see Shaker furniture as beautiful, but it's admired today for its spare lines and fine craftsmanship. It is sought by antique collectors and furniture makers copy the style.

    But even though the Shakers pioneered important concepts including gender and racial equality, farming technologies and a reverence for nature, it wasn’t enough to keep this community alive. Internal politics and the unpopular celibacy policy slowly eroded membership.

    A handful of residents remained at Pleasant Hill in the early 1900s, while many other Shaker villages had long-since shuttered. Quietly disbanded in 1910 before its faded buildings were revived as a nonprofit historic attraction, Pleasant Hill stands as one group’s attempt to achieve heaven on earth.

     photo meeting20house20dancing_zpseyrxjtvc.jpgWhether staying overnight or an afternoon, indulge in a hearty meal at the Trustee's Office Dining Room. Lunch was a delicious experience. The cornbread was hot, cole slaw comes as a side and seed-to-table (one step beyond farm to table as the facility grows produce from their own seeds) dining means a bounty of fresh summer vegetables grown on property. Save room for Shaker lemon pie, a cross between marmalade and lemon curd which most people seem to either love or hate.

    There is a myriad of demonstrations, activities and performances at the Historic Centre, farm and preserve that change by the season. The daily schedule will give you an idea of the variety of daily activities. More is scheduled during the prime visitor season of April through October.

      Some additional activities include:
    • The 1,000-acre Nature Preserve at Shaker Village is one of the nation's most successful wildlife habitat management areas. It's a birdwatcher's paradise, with more than 200 species of breeding and migrant birds. It offers a 40-mile trail system for hiking and biking.

    • Dixie Belle River Boat: Cruise through the Kentucky River Palisades on a paddle wheeler and learn why the waterway was vital to the Shakers. Admission: $10 adult; $5 children 6-12; free for children 5 and younger. Cruises depart from Shaker Landing.

    • There are evening hay rides, wagon rides, shopping with signature oval boxes, tightly-sewn brooms, reproduction Shaker furniture and other gifts.

    Nearby Harrodsburg is a hamlet with its own charms. Founded in 1774, it's the oldest town in Kentucky. Old Fort Harrod State Park contains a full-scale replica of the original fort and pays tribute to the first permanent English settlement west of the Alleghenies.

    There are several area bed-and-breakfasts brimming with Southern hospitality, including the Beaumont Inn, 800/352-3992, where we spent the night. Built in 1845, it was originally a school for young ladies and later known as the Daughters' College. Its popular eatery, the Old Owl Tavern, was named for the owner's Kentucky Old Owl Bourbon distilled along the Kentucky River before Prohibition.

    Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

    Harrodsburg, Kentucky Tourist Commission.

    Sixt Car Rental

    MSC Cruises 2 for 1 Balcony Sale

    Book a balcony stateroom on the MSC Divina and your guest sails free. You must book by Feb. 28, 2016.

    Book select Caribbean seven or 10-night cruises sailing out of Miami between Apr. 23, 2016 and Mar. 25, 2017 and get two-for-one rates on balcony staterooms. It is part of the cruise line’s new WAVE promotion. You pay full price for a balcony stateroom with prices starting at $999 and the second guest in the same cabin sails free. The offer is good on 20 Caribbean itineraries on the 3,500-passenger MSC Divina.

      Plus kids 12 and under sail free on sailings departing between:
    • Apr. 23 to May 28, 2016
    • Aug. 27 to Sep. 10, 2016
    • Oct. 8 to Nov. 19, 2016
    • Dec. 6 to Dec. 16, 2016
    • Feb. 4 to Feb. 25, 2017

    MSC Cruises or 877/665-4655.

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