Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, October 2013 Issue
Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright 2013
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff
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Mr. PG, Prince George, B.C., Canada
Pacific Holidays Discounted Tours to Vietnam
|Tour operator Pacific Holidays expands its discounted tours to Vietnam. The company offers packages and tours designed to suit a range of budgets and preferences. All packages can be customized to fit your needs. Some tours offer discounts off their original price, which means you can explore Vietnam at a more affordable price.
One deal is the Vietnam Explorer tour, a nine day trip. The tour includes a visit to Ho Chi Minh City followed by a stay in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Highlights include Chinatown, the Reunification Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral and Binh Tay Market. The tour price starts at $2,499 per person, down from $3,499. This price includes airfare on China Airlines.
Another Vietnam tour option is the Vietnam Experience tour, another nine day tour that includes a visit to the mausoleum in Ho Chi Minh and a night in Halong Bay. For lengthier tours, the Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia tour offers 13 nights where you get to visit a variety of destinations and attractions.
Pacific Holidays Vietnam tours or 201/970-7698.
Brendan Low Season Savings to 30%
|Traveling in the off season is a good way to save on your next vacation. In addition to low demand, fewer crowds and saving on international airfares, independent vacations are the flexible way to enjoy an authentic vacation experience.
Brendan Vacations lets you take advantage of discounted rates for travel between November 2013 and March 2014.
The 30 percent savings reflects a combined average discount on available Independent Vacations during the 2013/14 Winter/Autumn season compared to the same itinerary during the highest/peak season travel dates. Savings vary by itinerary and prices are subject to change. The savings may be combined with other discounts and promotions.
Prices are land-only, per-person, based on double occupancy and reflect travel dates with the lowest vacation price.
These pre-packaged vacations in major European cities offer a choice of hotels, length of stay, sightseeing options, rail transportation between cities, and private airport transfers. Choose a program that suits your budget, pace and preferences. An English speaking local host will be on call 24/7.
- Barcelona & Madrid - 5, 6 or 7 Days from $1,010
- Rome & Florence - 5, 6 or 7 Days from $719
- Rome, Florence & Venice - 7, 8 or 10 Days from $1,240
- Madrid, Granada & Seville - 7, 8 or 10 Days from $1,272
- London and Paris - 5, 6, 7 or 8 Days from $1,132
- Amsterdam, Paris & London - 7, 8 or 10 Days from $1,698
Brendan Vacations or 800/421-8446.
Wynn Las Vegas 30% Off
|Book a room at the Wynn Las Vegas, through the vegas.com website, and you can get 30 percent off. You must book a room marked with the "30 Percent Off Your Stay Nonrefundable" offer at Wynn Las Vegas for two nights or more by Dec. 17, 2013, for stays through Dec. 24, 2013.
Rooms start from $125.95 per night for select Sunday through Thursday dates. The offer is based on availability and subject to change. Prices do not include taxes and fees.
The promotion must be booked at least seven days in advance. This reservation is nonrefundable and cannot be changed or canceled. The promotion is not combinable with any other offer and only applies to new bookings. Bookings must be paid in full at the time of booking.
Save 15% on Arctic Polar Bear Migration Tour
|G Adventures offers four days on the Canadian tundra to spot migrating polar bears. The trip saves you 15 percent on select departures through Nov. 5, 2013, which start from $3,060 per person, and were originally priced at $3,599.
This small group experience with a maximum of eight travelers includes:
- Arrival and departure transfers
- Tour of Arviat town
- Two excursions with Inuit guides onto the arctic tundra for polar bear and wildlife viewing
- Visit a traditional Inuit camp and enjoy a cultural performance, visit local artisan studios and centers for demonstrations, stories, tea and bannock in a local artists home.
- Three breakfasts
- Two lunches
- Three dinners
- Three nights’ accommodations
- Van/truck, walking, ATV or snowmobile/sled (weather permitting).
- Budget about $125 for meals and drinks not included.
Book airfare with G Adventures and save $100 when you use promo code: G13PLUSAIR100.
G Adventures or 888/800-4100.
Denver’s Mile High Culture Pass
|With the new Mile High Culture Pass, you can visit seven of Denver's most popular attractions for $52.80, a savings of more than $25. The pass can be purchased with a choice of three attractions for $25, for a savings of $12.
Included in the pass are Denver's top attractions such as the Denver Zoo, the Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, History Colorado Center, Clyfford Still Museum and the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art. Pass holders get a 50 percent discount on Denver B-Cycle, discounts to the Molly Brown House Museum and other attractions.
The seven attraction pass must be used within five consecutive days; the three attraction pass must be used within three days.
The Mile High Culture Pass is a printable ticket available online or at the Denver Visitor Information Center, 1600 California St. in downtown. Purchase and print out the pass. There is a limit of eight passes that can be purchased via the system at one time. The pass is activated at the first attraction visited.
If you plan to visit Denver, you can find hotel deals and packages at the Visit Denver website.
Mile High Culture Pass.
Early Booking Discount for Globus Africa Experiences
|If you are interested in exploring Africa, seeing herds of elephant or a pride of lions, you may get an experience of a lifetime in 2014, with Globus’ five small group discovery tours. These escorted vacations with 20 people or less, have six itineraries and start at $2,519. Early booking incentive: Book a 2014 Globus or Monograms Africa vacation early and receive a $500 per couple or $250 per person air credit.
Some experiences are: Visiting a local Maasai village; a bush breakfast in Serengeti National Park; visiting a local home, farm and school in the Mto Wa Mbu village; taking a Malay cooking class in Cape Town and getting within steps of a clan of wild meerkats to watch them play.
Globus' touring vacations of Africa range from 10- to 17-days and feature Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
With seven travel packages ranging from nine- to 20-days, Monograms (Globus' sister brand), introduces independent travelers to gorilla trekking in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a cable-car ride up Table Mountain and a stay on one of Zanzibar's remote beaches.
When you book any Globus family vacation to Southern or East Africa, the company will make a contribution to South Africa National Parks (SANParks) and its Honorary Ranger program to help SAVE THE RHINO by fighting the increase in rhino poaching.
Globus family of brands or 866/313-2855.
Free Air or $2,000 Savings on Scenic Cruises
|Scenic Cruises extends time with a 19-day Jewels of Europe River Cruise for the 2014 season.
Book a standard room and receive free flights (taxes additional) or $2,000 in savings per couple for balcony cabins, if booked by Oct. 31, 2013, for select departures on a space available basis.
Prices on the 19-day Treasures of Europe’s Waterways start at $8,670 per person, double occupancy and are all-inclusive with unlimited beverages with premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, all meals, personal butler service, all excursions, events and entertainment, Wi-Fi throughout the ship, daily minibar replenishment, airport transfers and all tipping and gratuities, whether on board one of Scenic Cruises luxury ‘Space-Ships’ or while touring ashore.
On a signature all-inclusive Scenic 'Space-Ship', you can experience the sights through “Scenic Enrich” and “Scenic FreeChoice” activities. “Scenic Enrich” immerses you in European culture with events exclusive to Scenic Cruises, including a private Viennese concert at the Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna and a dinner hosted by locals in historic locations around Hoorn, where you learn about everyday life in the Netherlands. “Scenic FreeChoice” choices combine the camaraderie of group travel with the flexibility of individual travel. In Budapest, you can relax in the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Spa; discover Budapest during a guided city tour; or visit a local village for a Pustza horse show. “Scenic FreeChoice” experiences are available in eleven cities and villages on this itinerary.
You have the choice of independent discovery by taking a self-guided walk or using one of the ship’s electric-assist bicycles. To assist you is the “Scenic Tailormade” GPS-guided handheld tour system that includes audio and mapping and comes preloaded with tours for food and wine, gardens and nature, history, arts and culture, architecture and more.
Scenic Cruises or 855/517-1200.
Big Cottonwood Season Pass
|Brighton Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort team up to introduce the Big Cottonwood Pass with access to more than 3,700 acres of terrain, 130 plus trails and 15 lifts all in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, near Salt Lake City. The SolBright Trail connects the two resorts.
For $999, this joint pass is valid at both resorts throughout the entire season with no blackout dates and includes night skiing at Brighton. These two resorts combined ensure the best of what Utah offers: powder, steeps, groomers, trees, parks, and pipes.
The Big Cottonwood Season Pass is available for a limited time and must be purchased before Nov. 2, 2013.
Big Cottonwood Season Pass.
Cruise Lines Post Alleged Crime Data on Websites
|As promised in a Senate hearing, major cruise lines are posting data on their websites about all crimes alleged to have occurred on their ships since late 2010. The companies voluntarily agreed to post the data. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise lines trade organization, released data that shows shipboard crime is far lower than crime rates on land.
Before the disclosure was announced by Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Adam Goldstein, the only crime statistics available to consumers were a list on a U.S. Coast Guard site of the cases that were closed by the FBI. Critics contend that system under-reported incidents and didn’t accurately reflect the problem. The cruise lines continue to link to that site.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s list of reported crimes shows one report between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2013, a sexual assault allegation reported by a passenger. Norwegian’s report notes that it carried 745,000 passengers and 27,500 crew members during that period.
Royal Caribbean’s statistics for Apr. 1 to June 30, 2013, show three thefts of more than $10,000 reported by crew members and one by an “unidentified” person. Also in that period, there were rape allegations by one passenger and one crew member. For the period from Jan. 1 through Mar. 31, 2013, there were two reports of assault with serious bodily injury reported by a passenger and a crew member, three thefts of over $10,000 reported by crew members, two rapes reported by a passenger and a crew member, and three sexual assaults alleged by a passenger and two crew members. In that period, the line carried 1.75 million passengers and a crew of 47,500.
Carnival Cruise Lines statistics for Apr. 1 to June 30, 2013, show one alleged suspicious death reported by a passenger, one theft of over $10,000 reported by an “unidentified” person, four rapes reported by passengers and a crew member, and three alleged sexual assaults reported by passengers and a crew member. In that period, the line carried 6,665,790 passengers and a crew of 48,253.
CLIA compared shipboard crimes to crime rates on land published annually by the FBI in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). The UCR’s rates nationwide for alleged violent crimes per 100,000 persons during 2010 through 2012 in the following categories were: Rape, 27.1; Aggravated Assault, 248.9; and Homicide, 4.8. The rates per 100,000 in these categories in the cruise industry, as reported by CLIA for 2010 through 2012, were: Rape, 5.9; Assault with Serious Bodily Injury, 3.8; and Homicide, 0.
$65 Senior Rates at Ohio State Park Lodges
|Five Ohio State Park Lodges, operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, offer senior rates this fall. The senior rate for a lodge room, Sundays through Thursdays, is $65 per night.
The five Ohio State Park Lodges are: Salt Fork State Park Lodge in central Ohio near Cambridge, Mohican State Park Lodge in north central Ohio near Loudonville, Punderson Manor State Park Lodge in northeastern Ohio near Newbury, Maumee Bay State Park Lodge in northwestern Ohio near Toledo and Deer Creek State Park Lodge near Columbus.
The $65 rate is available to people 65 and older on Sunday through Thursday nights through Oct. 31, 2013. Use promotional code “GO65.” Some blackout dates apply.
Fall brings cooler temperatures and vibrant colors. Four of the parks – Maumee Bay, Salt Fork, Deer Creek and Punderson – feature golf courses and all offer various water activities. Birding and fall foliage are popular in the parks along with hikes ranging from easy to strenuous. The lodges feature lobbies with fireplaces and seating areas, game rooms, indoor pools and family dining options.
All five lodges are open-year round. Xanterra also operates the marina and facilities at Geneva Marina State Park in Geneva-on-the-Lake in northeastern Ohio.
Ohio State Park Lodges or 800/282-7275.
BVI Thanksgiving Day Package
|Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, a private-island resort in the British Virgin Islands, has a “Thanksgiving’s on Us” package that blends the tropics and traditions.
Starting at $979 per night, the package includes a seven-night stay for the price of five, accommodations in a two-bedroom ocean view villa, a bottle of wine and four seats at a Thanksgiving Day feast at the resort’s restaurant. The “Thanksgiving’s on Us” package is valid for any seven-night stay that includes Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013. Additional dinners can be purchased separately.
The rate is based on availability and the free nights are already deducted from rate. For stays less than seven nights, rooms, suites and villas are available at the prevailing rates. The package must be booked in advanced and cannot be combined with any other package or promotion. A resort fee will be added onto the rate and a deposit is required.
Scrub Island Resort’s ocean view villas are on the island’s hillsides and feature living areas, kitchen, bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, private plunge pool or infinity edge pools and views of the Caribbean and surrounding islands.
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, features 52 accommodations and two-, three- and four-bedroom villas, a spa, restaurants, three private beaches and a 55-slip marina.
Thanksgiving Day dinner will be served Nov. 28, 2013, from 6 to 10 p.m. Caribbean flair will enhance the traditional feast.
“Thanksgiving’s on Us” package or 877/890-7444.
Early-Bird Ski Deals in Crested Butte, CO
|With autumn here, there are benefits to planning a Crested Butte, CO vacation in advance such as early-purchase deals for values and an expanded flight schedule with new Chicago air service and direct flights from Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Denver.
The ski season launches Nov. 23, 2013, for Crested Butte Nordic Center and Nov. 27, 2013, for Crested Butte Mountain Resort.
You can find winter deals at properties throughout the Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley all season long. .
Here’s a sampling of early-bird winter deals.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s (CBMR) Book Early, Save Big - save 20 percent off lodging when booking a minimum of four nights for the 2013-2014 winter season before Oct. 15, 2013.
To sweeten the deal, fly to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) and save up to $400 per person, per airline ticket when booking lodging and airfare by Oct. 15, 2013. To qualify, you must travel through Houston (IAH), Dallas (DFW) or Chicago (ORD) on at least one leg between Jan. 1 – Mar. 30, 2014. You’ll receive a $400 air credit when flying in on Mondays and Tuesdays and staying at Grand Lodge, Lodge at Mountaineer Square, Plaza Hotel or condominiums managed by CBMR Properties.
When traveling on other days of the week, CBMR offers a $200 credit per airline ticket. A $200 air credit will be awarded when staying in select room types at Elevation Hotel & Spa for Monday through Sunday arrivals. Information and reservations for both deals from Crested Butte Vacations 800/600-2803.
Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) has multiple daily direct flights from Denver (DEN) on United Airlines, daily flights from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) on American Airlines, and weekly Saturday flights from Houston (IAH) and Chicago (ORD) on United Airlines.
Ground transportation options make it easy upon arrival. At the airport, rent a car or reserve a seat on one of the shuttles operated by Alpine Express or Dolly’s Mountain Shuttle to Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. Once there, the free Mountain Express bus system travels between Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, stopping at downtown Crested Butte, the visitor centers, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Crested Butte Nordic Center and more.
Gunnison Valley RTA runs a free bus route several times a day between Gunnison, Almont, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte during ski season (ski equipment is allowed but no luggage), so you can explore the offerings of all four towns and find many lodging options.
Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association reservation hotline 888/559-0841. Destination information or 800/814-8893.
Up to 20% off BritRail Passes
|If you are heading to Great Britain this autumn and winter, you are in luck. Thanks to BritRail's Low Season Discount, you get even greater value when traveling with a BritRail Pass. With savings up to 20 percent off, this is a good time to explore England, Scotland and Wales, with the freedom to take unlimited train trips on each travel day. BritRail's Low Season Discount for 2013 is available for booking in November, December, January and February.
With passes tailored to suit your destination, length of stay and travel style, BritRail Passes offer convenience and flexibility.
The classic BritRail Pass is good for travel on Great Britain's National Rail Network. You can choose from more than 18,000 daily departures to more than 2,500 destinations. For a mix of city and countryside, the BritRail England Pass is the right fit. New to BritRail's Low Season Discount this year, the BritRail South West Pass covers travel from London, through the Cotswolds, along Cornwall and Devon's coastline, and onto stops in Wales.
BritRail Passes are available in a wide range of validities, including Flexi Passes valid from three to 15 days of travel to be used within two months. Or Consecutive Passes valid for travel from three days to one month. All passes are offered in first or standard class. With first class service you receive additional benefits on select trains such as free Wi-Fi, more spacious seating, at seat meals, free newspapers and free tea and biscuits.
With a BritRail Pass you can hop on and off trains at your leisure and keep a flexible schedule. A BritRail Pass even covers travel on Airport Express trains, the most convenient way to skip traffic from the airport to central London.
You must buy before you fly as BritRail Passes cannot be purchased in Britain.
Book the BritRail Pass with Low Season Discount, BritRail England Pass or BritRail South West Pass on at ACP Rail or BritRail or 866/938-RAIL before Feb. 15, 2014.
Wayfarers Early Bird Patagonia Discount
|Remote Patagonia is a new Wayfarers Walk and provides a walking vacation in some of the world’s most isolated, open spaces and unspoiled scenery.
The Wayfarers offer travelers $300 off and Friends (existing Wayfarers’ customers), $600 off the brochure price of $5,795 per person, for the Feb. 2, 2014 departure, which includes the five percent Friends loyalty discount. The price is based on two people sharing.
Wayfarers groups stay near the two main hiking hubs of El Chalten and El Calafate including four nights at the Eolo Lodge hotel with uninterrupted 360-degree views of mountains, glaciers and steppes.
The Perito Moreno Glacier, one of three glaciers still growing in Patagonia, is a highlight of the trip.
You can extend the Patagonia Walk trip with a stay in Buenos Aires in a traditional estancia or hike in the Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia.
As with all Wayfarers Walking Vacations, the tour includes a full-time team with a local guide and walk manager who specializes in getting off the beaten track and providing a cultural experience of the region, including its people, food and traditions.
Remote Patagonia, Walk Level 4, covers up to 12 miles per day on well- marked trails including some steep inclines/declines.
For the eight night Feb. 2 to 10, 2014 departure, the discounted rate for travelers is $5,495 per person (including $300 off brochure price). The discounted Friends rate is $5,195 per person (including $600 off brochure price) based on two sharing.
Wayfarers or 800/249-4620.
50% Off at Le Taha'a
|Tour operator Tahiti Legends saves you up to 50 percent on this six night value package that provides your own private overwater bungalow at Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa located on Motu Tautau islet in French Polynesia.
The resort includes 57 suites and villas with views of Bora Bora, three restaurants and a spa.
The price per person, based on double occupancy, starts from $2,999. Single or extra person (triple) supplements apply. Package rates include room tax and VAT.
The package includes:
- Roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui with airline fuel surcharge and U.S. airline taxes and fees included
- Inter-island air transportation on Air Tahiti
- Six nights at the Le Taha'a Island Resort and Spa in an overwater Taha’a suite
- Daily breakfast for two
- Floral bed decoration and split of champagne
- 15,000 in French Pacific Francs (about $166) Resort credit per room, per stay
- Bottle of water per person at turndown
- All transfers and baggage handling
- Room tax and VAT, air taxes and fuel surcharges
Travel is valid Nov. 12, 2013 to Dec. 14, 2013 and Jan 6, 2014 to May 31, 2014. The package must be booked by Mar. 31, 2014.
You can upgrade to a sunset overwater villa or beach villa from $469 per person or upgrade to a Bora Bora overwater from $619 per person.
Black out dates, seasonal surcharges, currency exchange fluctuations, and other restrictions may apply. Prices, itinerary and conditions are subject to change without notice.
Tahiti Legends or 800/200-1213.
New West Hollywood Free Trolley Service
|The City of West Hollywood launches “The Pickup Line,” a trolley service that offers free transportation to WeHo's nightlife and dining hotspots, while providing a green and car-free Los Angeles experience. The weekend nighttime trolley runs along Santa Monica Boulevard on Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. The line attracts more than 1,400 riders per weekend.
The PickUp Line is a four-mile long loop with stops every two to three blocks, offering a lift every 15 minutes. The goal is to provide an alternative to the automobile and bring a transit option to one of West Hollywood’s busiest nighttime districts.
The PickUp aims to steer riders to popular local venues. The soundtrack onboard is a mash-up of Derek Monterio beats, one of West Hollywood’s DJs.
Perks for The PickUp riders include VIP entry to The Abbey with no waiting in line to get into the gay bar; two-for-one Abbey breakfasts before noon; no cover and priority admission to Micky’s; free appetizer with entrée at Hugo’s; $1 drink at Fubar; and half off your first drink at Here Lounge. New perks will be added throughout the pilot program.
Visit West Hollywood
One Asia Pass
|The Council for Promotion of Tourism of Asia (CPTA) offers a One Asia Pass to tourists who visit CPTA member cities.
The One Asia Pass benefits for eight Asian cities include discounts and free gifts and free admission from attractions, hotels, shopping and sporting facilities.
The eight CPTA cities are Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Tokyo, Hanoi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Taipei and New Delhi.
To receive the free One Asia Pass you must complete the online application form. You need to enter a flight code and itinerary. If you haven't booked a flight yet, please get the seat first. One Asia Pass is not first-come, first-served, so you can take your time and come back after booking a flight.
Based on the information you fill in the form, your One Asia Pass will be issued. Print out your pass and keep it with your travel documents.
The One Asia Pass may be used two ways.
- Show your pass to the staff of the facility of your choice. Tell them in advance that you want to use the pass.
- Provide the campaign code on your pass to the staff of the facility of your choice. Hotels may require your campaign code on their application form.
One Asia Pass.
Resort at Glade Springs Pre-Pay & Save
|The Resort at Glade Springs, in Daniels, WV, offers a Pre-Pay and Save promotion with up to 44 percent off regular rates. Available Dec. 5, 2013 through Mar. 29, 2014, the savings come by pre-paying for your reservation. The promotion does not include ski lift tickets.
The promotion includes overnight deluxe accommodations and breakfast for all people in the room. Up to two children per room, 12 and under, stay and eat breakfast free, when staying in the same room as adults.
- Reservation must be booked at least 14 days prior to arrival
- The entire reservation must be pre-paid
- The deposit is non-refundable
- The promotion is not available for groups.
The promotion starts at $125 per room and is subject to availability. There are a limited number of rooms available for this promotion, which is only valid for executive suites.
Glade Springs honors active U.S. military personnel with a five percent discount from their normal rates. Available Dec. 5, 2013 through Mar. 29, 2014, rates start at $39 per person, per night, and are only valid for lodging in an executive suite. Rates include breakfast for all guests.
A valid active U.S. military ID must be presented at check-in. Reservation must be booked at least 14 days in advance of arrival and requires a two night minimum stay. Reservations must be pre-paid, are non-refundable and subject to availability.
The Resort at Glade Springs or 866/348-0921.
B.C. Roadside Attractions by Margo Pfeiff
| We've all seen them on highways and rural byways, massive roadside attractions that elicit a gasp or a guffaw — buffalo as big as locomotives, a helicopter-sized mosquito or a cowboy boot that would fit King Kong. Everybody loves a road trip and these kitschy, small-town landmarks are part of the fun. While they may not be a destination on their own, they offer a quirky target to aim for with the goal of exploring the surrounding region.
British Columbia has its share of mammoth landmarks and — since this is Canada — the Guinness Book of World Records' holder for the world's largest hockey stick (and puck), seems a good place to start. Recognized by the Hockey Hall of Fame, the 207-foot, 33-ton wooden goal-maker was created for Vancouver's Expo 86 and now graces the community center in Duncan, north of Victoria on Vancouver Island.
And when hockey fans need to refuel? You're in the heart of the Cowichan Valley , where produce is showcased weekly at the town's Saturday farmers market. A short drive from Duncan promises a mini-Provence, where you can navigate winding country roads along "Gourmet Trail" tasting routes, dropping in on cheesemakers, wineries, cideries and organic farms. If adventure is your game, head west of Duncan for hiking and paddling around Cowichan Lake; 20 minutes to the south, Shawnigan Lake is the site of the historic Kinsol Trestle, one of the world's largest free-standing wooden trestles at 614 feet in length and 150 feet in height. With views of the Koksilah River, the trestle is on a hiking/biking route that is part of the Trans-Canada Trail.
While Duncan is renowned for having more than 30 totem poles that stand tall along its downtown streets, the community of Hope, 93 miles east of Vancouver along the Fraser Valley, has its own wooden statue bragging rights. The town is an outdoor menagerie of more than 30 of Pete Ryan's giant chainsaw-carved bears, cougars, eagles, foxes and mountain sheep that you'll spot on a Carving Walk. Those critters in real life reside in the surrounding wilds since the town sits between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges with rainforests, alpine meadows and whitewater rivers to explore. Between Vancouver and Hope, the Fraser Valley is a fertile rural region where self-guided driving tours, Circle Farm Tours, lead to everything from hazelnut orchards and goat dairies to small wineries such as Township 7 and Domaine de Chaberton with its bistro — some of the Lower Mainland's best-kept secrets.
Serious wine lovers will want to continue 149 miles from Hope to the northeast to Kelowna and the Thompson Okanagan grape-growing/wine-making region where there is another quirky landmark worth searching out: a real pyramid. Summerhill Pyramid Winery is Canada's largest certified organic winery and owner Stephen Cipes places his award-winning products — mostly sparkling wines — into the cool pyramid as the final step in production. Bonus: visitors can experience the serenity of the winery's authentic, geometric chamber on a tour. Continue south along the vineyard-lined shores of Okanagan, Skaha and Osoyoos lakes, stopping for tastings at dozens of wineries en route. Some of the province's best reds ripen in the hot sun of Canada's only true desert just shy of the U.S. border in the Osoyoos region. And that's not all; winery touring and tasting — even by bicycle — is year-round fun, while opportunities to raise a glass mark the seasons, thanks to lively celebrations hosted by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.
East of the Okanagan Valley, the Rocky Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop along the highway through Revelstoke, Golden and Invermere to Fernie, communities known for their snow and prime downhill and heli-skiing. But there's another draw that is sure to captivate: 30 minutes from the slopes of Fernie, in the mining town of Sparwood, a colossal roadside attraction — the world's largest tandem axel dump truck. Sixty six feet long with 3,300 horsepower, its box can hold two Greyhound buses and a pair of pickup trucks — all at once. While here, be sure to explore the history of underground coal mining on a Sparwood Mining History Walking Tour and see antique mining machinery and giant murals around town. Surrounded by the Rockies, Sparwood is known for its fishing and has an extensive hiking and snowshoeing/cross-country ski network.
For one of the province's epicenters of world-class cross-country skiing, drive 280 miles northeast of Vancouver into the South Cariboo region to 100 Mile House whose surroundings have one of Canada's most extensive groomed ski trail networks, about 93 miles with warming huts en route. There are trails for beginners to experts, even an Adventure Trail for parents and kids. So it's logical that this is where you'll encounter the world's largest pair of cross-country skis. The poles alone tower 30 feet. During warm, dry, sunny summers the region's trails and backcountry are popular with hikers, bikers, campers and horseback riders.
Continue due north from 100 Mile House on Highway 97, the route of the original Cariboo Wagon Road through cowboy country, passing Williams Lake and Quesnel. Your journey will take you to the Northern BC city of Prince George, where the tight-knit community is saluted by Mr. PG, a 26-foot tall figure made out of fake "logs" (a nod to its forestry roots). Originally designed as an inclusion for the 1963 Grey Cup Parade in Vancouver, Mr. PG became a proud symbol of the city; he routinely took part in many parades that followed and has even been featured on a Canada Post stamp. Today, he sits permanently at the intersection of Highways 97 and 16, occasionally waving a flag to welcome folks to the outdoors, where summer beckons with hiking and biking and winter offers snow shoeing, cross-country, downhill and heli-skiing.
There are many more zany roadside attractions across British Columbia. Plan a roadside-attraction-themed road trip. Who knows what you might discover around the world's biggest fly-fishing rod in Houston or near Alert Bay's 174-foot totem pole, a contender for the world's tallest.
British Columbia's destinations and travel information.
30 Night West Indies Cruise from $2,759
|Cruise and Maritime Voyages offers a 30 night cruise on the Marco Polo that sails roundtrip from Tilbury Cruise Terminal, in London, England. The Nov. 3, 2013, cruise starts from $2,759 per person based on two adults sharing a cabin. A third or fourth adult person sharing the cabin is $1,619 each. The price does not include airfare to London.
The 800 passenger Marco Polo operate as “child free,” even during school holiday times. The cruise is for adult passengers only and teenagers 16 years or old at the time of sailing are accepted but must be accompanied by adult passengers.
The first port of call is Ponta Delgada on the “green island” of São Miguel in the Azores. The ship continues to Antigua, St. Barts, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Bequia, Mayreau and Barbados. The ship sails northbound stopping at Horta on the island of Faial in the Azores before sailing back to Tilbury.
The cruise includes:
- Cabin accommodation.
- Service from international crew.
- Traditional British and international cuisine.
- Afternoon teas and late night snacks.
- Welcome and Farewell Captain's cocktail parties
- Self-service tea and coffee 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Evening entertainment shows and cabarets plus daytime activities.
- Classical music interludes.
- Guest lecture program.
- Club Class - passengers play bridge, cards, backgammon, chess and more.
- Leisure facilities to enrich your time onboard.
- Porterage of your luggage at the port and all Port taxes.
Crew gratuities are automatically billed to your onboard account in the amount of $6.40 per person, per night.
Cruise and Maritime Voyages or 855/206-4897.
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