Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, November 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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Bonsai at Monastic Heritage Center, Conyers, GA
Florida for Less
|Visit Florida offers Limited Time Deals through Nov. 30, 2013. The deals include discounts of 30 percent or more on accommodations and activities, including resorts, spas, museums, attractions, airboat rides, golfing and more.
In addition to deals, Florida has 825 miles of beaches that provides a low-cost way to experience what people come to Florida for.
Discover a beach waiting for you. Here are some worth finding.
- Key West - - Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico. Fort Zach, as locals call it, has clear water, a shaded picnic area and snorkeling around rocks not far offshore. The $6 admission even provides parking. Keep your admission ticket and re-enter for free at sunset for one of the best places to watch the Key West sunset.
- Miami Beach - - The beach at Lummus Park, across Ocean Drive from Art Deco hotels and restaurants, is the best place for watching beautiful people at play. Between Ocean Drive and the sand, Lummus has a grassy palm-tree-filled park with a promenade for bicycling, skating and strolling. Topless sunbathing is legal here.
- Fort Lauderdale area - - A long, wild beach lined with sea grass and sea grapes is 15 minutes south of Fort Lauderdale at John U. Lloyd State Park in Dania Beach. It is 2.5 miles long and most people cluster around the picnic area and lifeguarded swim zone. A long fishing jetty next to the Port Everglades channel lets you watch cruise ships or tankers come and go.
- West Palm Beach area - - To explore the beach at Peanut Island, you must arrive by boat. Take a shuttle from Sailfish Marina (98 Lake Drive, Palm Beach Shores) or a water taxi from Riviera Beach Marina (Slip 522, 200 E. 13th St. Riviera Beach.) This 80-acre park with guarded swimming and picnic shelters is a man-made island in the middle of the Port of Palm Beach. Its rocky shoreline has easy-access snorkeling. Colorful fish are viewable in waist-deep water. Snorkeling is best at high tide.
- Naples – Barefoot Beach makes you feel miles from highways and high-rises. It’s one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s southwest coast. You may find sand-dollars, shells or spot a bottle-nosed dolphin in the water. Gopher tortoises and their burrows are plentiful along the nature trail that runs between the sand dunes and the hammock.
- Fort Myers Beach - Lovers Key State Park is good for spotting wildlife. The 2.5 mile beach is lined with trees and vegetation that is full of bird life, including two bald eagle nests and osprey nests. Canals attract manatees in winter. The hard-packed white sand is perfect for beachcombing, with lots of shells and driftwood.
- Tampa area - Caladesi Island State Park is an isolated beach off Clearwater Beach and Dunedin. You must reach it by boat. The Caladesi Island Ferry, (727) 734-1501, departs from Honeymoon Island, and the trip often includes spotting dolphins. The park attracts birds – pink roseate spoonbills, frigates and ospreys. In the clear water, you can spot horseshoe crabs, live shells and stingrays. This is a natural beach, where sea grass is allowed to stay on the sand.
- Clearwater Beach - - Honeymoon Island draws crowds. Even when the parking lot is full, you can find solitude and nature. The 385-acre park has three beaches – one close to parking and concessions, a dog beach and the northern sand-spit beach. This northern beach won’t win awards for its sand -- it’s studded with rocks and seashells -- but it’s three miles long and extends into the Gulf of Mexico. The farther you walk, the more stunning the scenery and solitude.
- Jacksonville - - Huguenot Memorial Park on Fort George Island is the last beach in Jacksonville where you can drive your car onto the hard-packed sand. Its sand dunes are full of wildlife, gopher tortoises, sea shells, shore birds. The surfing is good and you can fish from shore or the fishing jetty. At low tide, the beach expands dramatically. Think about the high-tide line before you park your car.
- Pensacola - - Fort Pickens in the Gulf Islands National Seashore attracts folks for the Civil War-era fort’s self-guided or ranger-led tours. The fort is a sidelight to the seven miles of beach that wraps around it. Called Langdon Beach, on the Santa Rosa barrier island, the white sand is from fine quartz eroded from granite in the Appalachian Mountains. The beach is so big it can’t get crowded and it offers lifeguards, showers, bike, chair and umbrella rentals. If the fort provides shade and cool.
- Panama City - - St. Andrews State Park offers snorkeling. Even small kids can snorkel here in a calm, protected area where you can spot sting rays, fish, sea urchins, and starfish. The beach is lined with dunes and the park offers hiking trails to a lake where gators are often seen. Across the inlet lies a second part of St. Andrews, wild and undeveloped Shell Island. A shuttle service connects the two.
Pacific Delight Tours’ Journey of Two Cultures
|Pacific Delight Tours offers an 11-day “Journey of Two Cultures” program from $2,999, based on double occupancy. The package includes airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco (other gateways available upon request); intra-Asia flights; fuel surcharges, port charges taxes and fees; English speaking guides on all sightseeing tours; meals; and the USTOA Travelers Assistance Program.
The journey begins with a flight from the U.S. to Hanoi, Vietnam, where you stay at the Flower Garden Hotel before touring the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature and former "Hanoi Hilton" prison. You will also visit Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple and the Water Puppet Theater.
The program continues with a cruise on a traditional wooden boat cruise in Halong Bay and stay at the Royal Lotus Halong. You will explore Dau Go Cave before flying to Ho Chi Mihn City and check into the Moevenpick Hotel.
The city tour begins in Tay Ninh and the Cao Dai Great Temple followed by the Cu Chi Tunnels. A cruise along the Mekong Delta will call at the Cai Be Floating Market where you learn bonsai gardening at Hoa Phuoc Islet. Other highlights include the Hotel De Ville, Opera House and Notre Dame Cathedral.
The last stop is to Siem Reap in Cambodia to explore Ta Prohm temple and Choueng Kneas village, with a stay at the Sokha Angkor Resort.
Available departure dates include Nov. 4 and Dec. 2, 2013 and Jan. 6, Jan. 20, Feb. 3, Feb. 17 and March 10, 2014.
.PacificDelightTours or 800/221-7179.
Monteverdi Tuscany Nightly, Weekly Rates
|Monteverdi Tuscany, a seven-room hotel and three-villa complex in the village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro, Italy, features nightly and weekly rental rates through 2013.
The hotel offers four luxury rooms from about $433 per night, and three suites, from about $600 per night.
Weekly rates for the two-bedroom Villa San Pietro start at about $7,322, rates for the three-bedroom Villa Amiata start at about $10,650, and rates for the six-bedroom Villa Muri Antichi start at about $21,300.
All rates include daily breakfast, WiFi, lectures and performances from the Artist in Residence series and use of all hotel amenities, including a gym and infinity-edge pool.
Monteverdi Tuscany or 866/644-0787.
50% Off Golden Gate Hotel and Casino
|Vegas.com offers “50% off Your Stay” deal at Golden Gate Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Room rates start from $21 per room.
The offer is available through Dec. 31, 2013 for stays through Jan. 1, 2014. Blackout dates may apply. The offer is valid for new bookings only and has no cash value. If your qualifying booking is cancelled, the offer is void. The promotion may be changed or terminated at any time, without notice.
Established in 1906, the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino was recently expanded to add a tower with 16 suites, expanded family floor with a high-limit pit and a new lobby displaying artifacts from the hotel’s past.
All rooms have pillow-top mattresses, flat screen TVs, iHome clock radios, in-room coffee, cable TV, voicemail and computer ports.
50% off Your Stay.
Early Bird Rates in New York and New Orleans
|Plan early to find the best deals for holiday travel. New York City and New Orleans are two locations to visit during the holiday season. Here are two hotels with favorable rates.
The Wolcott Hotel, 212/268-2900, in New York City offers rates from $225 this holiday season. Steps from the Empire State Building, the midtown location lets you enjoy the holidays from the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, to window displays and holiday shopping.
The Wolcott Hotel features a Shopping Suite with a third room for shopping bags while accommodating up to three guests. The home-like lodgings include free breakfast, concierge services, fitness room, laundry facility, and an on-site gift shop.
Windsor Court Hotel, 888/596-0955, with the Papa Noel discount, you receive 20 percent off of the best available rate Sunday through Thursday and 10 percent off Friday through Saturday. Double occupancy rates start from $300 per night beginning Dec. 1, 2013.
One tradition is the Reveillon dinner, where you dine at the Windsor Court’s Grill Room. Throughout December (except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve), the Grill Room serves a traditional Reveillon dinner at $60 per person.
The hotel, with decorated lobby with a tree, wreathes and other holiday fare, is known for its afternoon tea service. From Nov. 29, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014, the Holiday Tea presents the tastes and smells of Christmas with gingerbread and cranberry orange scones, and a festive cocktail for $42 per person.
Book a Holiday Tea service online or call the Le Salon, 504/596-4773. Book a Reveillon dinner online.
Winter Season New Pass from Utah’s Resorts
|With 11 resorts less than an hour from the Salt Lake City International Airport, spend more time on the slopes and less time in the car. The upcoming season is the year of more: more pass benefits, more on-mountain activities, more gourmet food, more snowmaking, more high-speed lifts and more convenience for visitors.
Home to 14 ski resorts, Utah’s resorts step up the pass offerings for the 2013-14 season with better deals and more benefits for pass holders.
Day of Arrival Ticket Deal: Alta and Snowbird offer 50 percent off day tickets within 24 hours of arrival. You must register online before arrival.
Big Cottonwood Pass: Brighton Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort team up with the Big Cottonwood Pass with access to 3,700 acres of terrain, 130 plus trails and 15 lifts. The SolBright trail connects the two resorts. For $999, this joint pass is valid at both resorts throughout the season with no blackout dates and includes night skiing at Brighton.
Best Pass Benefit in the Wasatch: Alta, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort and Snowbird team up for a season pass. Qualifying season pass holders at the four resorts receive three days of free lift access at each of the other three mountains. With a Snowbird or Alta season pass you get free ridership on UTA Ski Bus Routes and Trax, 50 percent off day passes at Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Whistler Blackcomb, Durango Mountain Resort, Red Lodge Mountain, Homewood Mountain Resort, and Wachusett Mountain Ski Area and discounts to on-hill amenities.
Epic Pass: Now under Vail Resorts management, Canyons Resort Epic Pass is $709, with unlimited skiing and riding at Canyons, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Eldora, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. The pass includes five days at Verbier, Switzerland; Arlberg, Austria; and Les 3 Vallées, France.
Mountain Collective: Alta was one of the four inaugural destinations last season in the Mountain Collective and for the 2013-14 season has combined with Snowbird. The Mountain Collective is an alliance of independent resorts. For $379 those who join the Mountain Collective receive two free days and an unlimited 50 percent off lift tickets, plus lodging deals at: Alta/Snowbird, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and Whistler Blackcomb.
Powder Alliance: Snowbasin and 12 mountains in the west join forces to create the Powder Alliance. The 12 resorts offer three free days of skiing to pass holders from other participating Powder Alliance areas, plus special offers on lodging, rentals, and buddy tickets.
The Utah Transit Authority completed its TRAX line from Salt Lake City International Airport to downtown Salt Lake City. This new line provides transit to Utah’s urban core and Salt Lake’s Intermodal Hub skiers and boarders can find bus connections all the way up to the hill, and to Ogden and Provo.
The Ski, Stay & Dine Package allows you to enjoy Deer Valley Resort’s cuisine, accommodations, skiing and service with a 20 percent savings on lodging and lift tickets at participating properties. The package includes a $50 dining certificate valid any of Deer Valley Resort’s owned and operated evening restaurants.
Stay at Sundance Mountain Resort and Ski Free. Book a stay in a mountain cottage and receive two free lift passes per night of stay, also include night skiing and the Sundance Nordic Center.
Alta’s Sleep-around is an introduction to the lodging and skiing that Alta has to offer. With the package, you stay three nights at a different lodge each night. The move from lodge to lodge is seamless with daily breakfast, on-mountain lunch and dinner, three days of skiing, demo skis each day and a tour of the mountain on the first day. Only available Dec. 5 to 8, 2013.
$250 Cox & Kings Savings
|Cox & Kings offers a $250 per person credit towards any Escorted Discovery Group Journeys, booked before Dec. 31, 2013. Launched in February 2013, Cox & Kings’ Escorted Discovery Group Journeys offer guaranteed departures to 24 countries and operate with a minimum of two people.
Choose from trips with savings to Africa, Asia, India, and South America with departure dates through the March 2014. Prices begin at $1,435 per person.
Cox & Kings or 800/999-1758.
Save up to $1,000 with Wild Planet Adventures
|Wild Planet Adventures offers savings of up to $1,000 per person for the holiday season for new reservations only. Part of the fun on these international wildlife viewing expeditions is unwrapping nature’s mysteries.
Save $300 on a 14-day Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife Eco-tour Dec. 14 to 27, 2013 or Dec. 21 to Jan. 3, 2014 ($4,498). A nine-day tour comes with $200 savings ($2,998). Naturalists and biologist guides lead wildlife activities (including night hikes for nocturnal animals) in up to eight national parks and wildlife reserves. The program includes a sloth sanctuary, whitewater rafting, cloud forest canopy tour, volcano viewing, hot springs, kayaking with dolphins, snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence, and a hands-on wildlife rescue center.
$500 savings on 13 day ($4,898) and 19 day ($7,298) India Ultimate Wildlife Safari Dec. 17, 2013. It includes safaris to see tigers, leopards, rhinos and rare wildlife, by jeep, elephant, camel and rickshaw with cultural segments in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Delhi and Agra.
Hidden Thailand – Remote Rainforests & Islands comes with up to $300 savings on a 14-day ($4,798) program and savings of $200 for 11 days ($3,898). Depart Dec. 15, 2013. Explore remote corners of the country with wildlife, culture and beaches. Visit a lakeside wildlife sanctuary surrounded by limestone karst, safari in the largest national park, visit an elephant camp, Buddhist temple and night bazaar. Expeditions into a national park reveal clouded leopards, elephants, slow loris and four species of primates.
Save $500 per person in Borneo for a 12-day trip ($5,498 for families of four or more) departing Dec. 22, 2013 and $300 for a private group of two travelers ($6,098). Locales include the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, the Kinabatangan River at Sukau, the Danum Valley rainforest and the barrier reef of Sipadan with opportunities for encounters with Orangutans at a sanctuary and tracking in the wild, proboscis monkeys, Bornean gibbons, pygmy elephants, flying and gliding mammals and reptiles. Nocturnal expeditions will spot tarsiers and slow loris - two of the world's smallest and cutest primates.
Wild Planet Adventures 800/990-4376.
Welch's & Beaches Resorts Family Vacation Giveaway
|The makers of Welch's Fruit Snacks, partner with Beaches Resorts for a promotion offering to win a Beaches Resorts Luxury Included Caribbean Family Vacation in Turks & Caicos or Jamaica.
Through Jan. 31, 2014, Welch's offers an on-pack promotion where you visit its Facebook page and enter to win a four-day, Luxury Included Caribbean Family Vacation to beaches in Turks & Caicos or Jamaica.
Instruction for entry will be printed on Welch's Fruit Snacks boxes. Each participant, age 21 and older, will be asked to visit and "like" the Welch's Fruit Snacks Facebook page and provide basic information including name, age, and email address. In February, three randomly selected winners will be announced for a chance to escape on a Caribbean family getaway to Beaches Resorts. Ten secondary prize winners will receive $250 dollars and a year supply of Welch's Fruit Snacks. Eighty consolation prize winners will receive a one-month supply of Welch's Fruit Snacks.
The four-day, grand prize includes:
- Discovery Dining at up to 19 restaurants
- Land and water sports including snorkeling and scuba diving for certified divers
- Pirate Island waterparks featuring waterslides, swim-up soda bars and kiddie pools
- Supervised Kids Camps with certified nannies
- XBOX Play Lounge centers with games featuring Kinect for XBOX 360
- All tips and transfers to/from the airport.
Family Vacation Giveaway
Paradise Island Instant Savings
|BOOK BY NOV. 4 - - As the air gets cooler, you can take advantage of Nassau Paradise Island's offer for savings on fall and winter travel.
Book an air-inclusive minimum four-night stay package at any of Nassau Paradise Island's participating hotels by Nov. 4, 2013 and receive a $250 Instant Savings. Travel can take place through Apr. 10, 2014. Blackout dates are Nov. 27 to 30, 2013 and Dec. 26, 2013 to Jan. 1, 2014.
Nassau Paradise Island is convenient to many major U.S. cities, while offering an escape with white sand beaches, turquoise waters, resorts and casinos, gourmet dining and duty-free shopping.
The following hotels offer accommodations to suit every budget:
- Atlantis, Paradise Island
- Best Western Plus Bay View Suites
- British Colonial Hilton Nassau
- Comfort Suites Paradise Island
- The Cove Atlantis
- Graycliff Hotel
- Harborside Resort at Atlantis
- Marley Resort & Spa
- One & Only Ocean Club
- Paradise Harbour Club & Marina
- Paradise Island Beach Club
- Paradise Island Harbour Resort All-Inclusive
- The Reef Atlantis
- Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island
- Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino
- Sunrise Beach Club & Villas
- Wyndham Nassau Resort
This offer is valid for travel originating in the U.S. and Canada.
Nassau Paradise Island.
Aston “Hawaii 5-0” and “50+” Programs
|Aston Hotels & Resorts offers travelers age 50 and older savings of up to five percent off the best daily rate at all participating Aston properties in Hawaii, South Lake Tahoe, Lake Las Vegas and Orlando.
Valid year round, the “Hawaii 5-0” and “50+” programs make it easier to enjoy Aston destinations. Select Aston properties also offer value added amenities at check-in, such as a free upgrade (subject to availability), bottle of wine, or Aston souvenir items.
Grandparents traveling with children and grandchildren can book a multi-bedroom suite, villa or cottage to accommodate the entire family and take advantage of the “50+” program. Only one person in the party has to be 50 or older to qualify. With the Kids Stay Free program, kids of any age stay free at Aston condominium resorts. Kids 17 and under stay free at Aston hotels and children 12 and under receive free meals, admissions and gifts with the Aston Aloha Book in Hawaii.
The offer cannot be combined with other discounts plus blackout dates and some restrictions may apply. The program is subject to change without notice. One traveler must present valid picture ID with proof of age upon check-in.
Aston Hotels & Resorts or 866/774-2924.
Air Tahiti Nui Packages to Tahiti and Beyond
|An eight-hour flight from Los Angeles, the Islands of Tahiti offer 10 winter packages starting at $3,000 per person, including accommodations, international airfare and inter-island transportation.
Price includes roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles on Air Tahiti Nui, all carrier charges and government taxes. Price is based on double occupancy, two people travelling together and sharing a room. The $1.80 per person, per night local hotel occupancy tax is additional and must be paid by the user directly to the hotel.
All packages have limited space and dates at these prices. Prices subject to change before full payment s made. Other cancellation charges and conditions apply. The last date of sale is Mar. 31, 2014.
Sample package options include:
- Moorea Magic – from $1998 per person. Includes roundtrip ferry transportation from Tahiti to Moorea, five nights at the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa, lanai room with daily breakfast, all transfers and baggage handling.
- Bora Bora Over-the-Water – from $2898 per person. Includes roundtrip inter-island air transportation on Air Tahiti, five nights at the Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort in an overwater bungalow with daily breakfast, all transfers and baggage handling.
- Tahiti & Taha'a Overwater Suite – from $2998 per person. Includes roundtrip inter-island air transportation on Air Tahiti, two nights at the Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti, five nights at Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa, overwater suite with daily breakfast, all transfers and baggage handling.
Air Tahiti Nui Packages.
Zicasso.com Offers Free Nights in Fiji and Sydney
|Zicasso.com, the travel planning website, offers two free nights at the Radisson Blu Resort in Fiji and one free night in Sydney in their nine-day, Australia-Fiji package. In addition, Zicasso offers a buy one, get one 50 percent off on small group tour packages.
You begin your trip with two nights in Fiji before heading to Sydney. Prices for this itinerary begin at $1,999 per person based on double occupancy and include airfare from Los Angeles that includes all airport taxes and fuel surcharges, transfers, two free nights in Fiji at the Radisson Blu Resort with continental breakfast and one free night in Sydney at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel. Two nights free in Fiji is valid only when purchasing a four night hotel package in Australia. Package must be purchased by Nov. 30, 2013.
The $1,999 per person price is for the Jan. 16 to 31, 2014 departure and departures Apr. 1 to Aug. 31, 2014. Other departures are offered at additional cost.
Trip extensions can be customized to include other parts of Australia and Fiji.
You stay at the Radisson Blu Resort for two nights when in Fiji. During that time, you can explore Fiji at your leisure. Zicasso offers tours, for an added cost, such as a guided rafting and village visit, sailing to Tivua Island in an historic Brigantine rig tall ship, or a Sigatoka River Safari.
Your four nights in Australia, with one night free, is spent in Sydney at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel. You can explore Sydney on your own or with purchased tours from Zicasso such as surf lessons, mini coach tours, guided bike tours, bushwalks or climbing up the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A buy one, get one 50 percent off discount is available on small group tours such as the Blue Mountain day tour or the Sheep Station Tour.
Travelpro "Win a Trip to Vegas" Sweepstakes
|Travelpro, the inventor of Rollaboard luggage offers a “Win A Trip to Vegas” sweepstakes in celebration of CBS Films’ motion picture comedy “Last Vegas.”
The Sweepstakes winner and a guest will fly roundtrip to Las Vegas and stay at the ARIA Resort & Casino and see Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil. Additionally, the winner will receive two pieces of Travelpro luggage.
One trip for two to Las Vegas includes:
- Three nights in a corner suite at ARIA Resort & Casino
- Roundtrip airfare for two
- Two tickets to Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil at ARIA Resort & Casino
- Two pieces of Travelpro luggage
The sweepstakes runs through Dec. 2, 2013. To enter, register here. Visit this same site to view the complete sweepstakes official rules. No purchase is required to enter the sweepstakes.
Eight Legal Tips When Traveling Abroad - - By New York Justice Thomas A. Dickerson
Going on vacation? Here are eight suggestions that may help you avoid a nightmare.
- Determine the incidence of criminal activity, terrorism and, yes, pirates at your selected destination and avoid all three.
- Read the fine print in the brochures and travel contracts that you enter into and act accordingly. Typically, this will mean determining the risks involved, responsibilities disclaimed and the need to obtain appropriate insurance. Contractual clauses seeking to disclaim liability for the torts of independent contractors are nothing new and unless prohibited by statute are, typically, enforced. On occasion the courts may find liability shifting warranties of safety and assumptions of duties in brochure language. Recently, however, there has been an explosion of new travel contract clauses, e.g., requiring mandatory arbitration of disputes, allowing the filing of lawsuits in a selected and distant forum, applying foreign law, and seeking to limit recoverable damages.
- Be selective in the local sports activities (e.g., zip-lining, para-sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving) you participate in during cruise shore excursions or at foreign resorts. Typically, these services are provided by foreign companies not subject to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, and which may be uninsured, unlicensed, insolvent, and irresponsible. Worst of all, the cruise line or resort that recommends the local service provider and earns a commission doing so, may disclaim all liability for any injuries you sustain.
- If you cruise, do so on a cruise ship that touches a U.S. port since you are protected by U.S. Maritime Law which, inter alia, requires that each cruiseship/cruiseline be subject to The Center For Disease Control (CDC) sanitation inspections and must report to the FBI any incident involving "homicide, suspicious death, kidnaping, assault with serious injury (rapes)" and shall also "furnish a written report of the incident to an Internet-based portal maintained by" the U.S. Coast Guard and accessible to consumers. If you cruise elsewhere, such as the folks who sailed on the Costa Concordia, your rights and remedies may be governed by the Athens Convention or by foreign substantive and procedural law, not nearly as accommodating as that of the United States.
- Avoid flying on foreign air carriers, intra-country, since you may not be protected by the Montreal Convention and your recoverable damages, if any, may be very modest. In addition, many foreign air carriers are on the European Union's "Blacklist" which you should consult before you book.
- If you sustain a serious injury, avoid using the medical facilities on cruise ships, which consistently avoid liability for the malpractice of the ship's doctor. In addition, a cruise ship may involuntarily disembark you and transport you to a local medical facility with an uncertain outcome. Many assume when traveling abroad, that you are protected by the same safety standards and medical care available in the United States. The reality is quite the opposite. In many foreign countries the safety standards may be much lower; e.g., the plate glass in a Greek hotel lobby may be very thin; the windows in a Russian hotel may be less secure; a gas stove in a hotel may explode.
The quality of medical care may be much lower; e.g., a diabetic tourist may be misdiagnosed at the hotel and in a local hospital; a hotel guest may die from a heart attack because of a delay in calling for medical assistance. Best bet, use your evacuation insurance, get on a plane and fly home to the United States as fast as you can.
- Think carefully about entrusting your children to the day care centers of foreign resorts or hotels. In Flanagan v. Wyndham International, 27 guests entrusted their child to the "Kids Klub day-care program at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort in St. Thomas" only to have a child molested by an employee later convicted of sexual molestation. Taking your mother-in-law or another family member with you to watch after your children may be the best approach.
- Behave in accordance with the laws and customs of the destination country. For example, "In Singapore, which places a high value on order, prostitution is legal but careless disposal of chewing gum can invoke fines up to $500. Jaywalking and spitting result in similar fines. Singapore saves canings for more serious offenses, such as vandalism.
Be sensitive to another country's values. Raffi Nernekian, a Lebanese tourist visiting the United Arab Emirates learned when he was arrested for wearing a skin cancer awareness T-shirt depicting Posh Spice in her birthday suit. Nernekian spent a month in jail. And Ireland, the land of creative invective, passed a blasphemy law making it a 25,000 euro ($37,000) offense to say or print anything “grossly abusive or insulting” about any subject held sacred by any religion.
$99 Fare to L.A. En Route to Tahiti
|Through Nov. 18, 2013, travelers from 22 North America cities can purchase roundtrip tickets to Tahiti via Los Angeles for $1,514 for travel through May 14, 2014. This is due to a discounted $99 fare for the connecting leg of the trip to L.A. In Los Angeles, you board an Air Tahiti Nui Airbus A340-300 airplane for the eight hour flight to Papeete, Tahiti.
This "LA Cool to Tahiti Hot" promotion makes it easier to experience Tahiti and get a free stopover in Los Angeles on the way there or back.
"This special offer will save customers up to $500, depending on their city of origin," said Nicholas Panza, Vice President, the Americas for Air Tahiti Nui.
The "LA Cool to Tahiti Hot" promotion is $1,514 from the following cities:
- Washington DC/Dulles
- Mexico City
- Las Vegas
- San Diego
- San Jose
- San Francisco
- Salt Lake City
- Washington D.C./Baltimore
To take advantage of the "LA Cool to Tahiti Hot" promotion, tickets must be purchased by Nov. 18, 2013, for travel through Dec. 13, 2013 and Jan. 7 to May 14, 2014.
Air Tahiti Nui or 877/824-4846.
Eco-Tourist Attractions May be Greenwashing
|Eco-tourism is a hot buzzword for environmentally minded travelers, but the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) advises you to research attractions to ensure they are operating responsibly. Keep in mind the welfare of animals and the environment, and avoid those that are simply greenwashing.
Using the Cayman Turtle Farm as an example, Elizabeth Hogan, oceans and wildlife campaigns manager at WSPA, offers five tips to help you identify when an eco-tourist attraction is not as animal- or environmentally friendly as it claims. The turtle farm is a popular tourist destination in the Cayman Islands that alleges to focus on the conservation and the protection of endangered sea turtles. But it sells sea turtles for food and has a poor track record on animal protection issues.
- Avoid direct interaction with the animals. As a general rule, you shouldn’t be touching animals at an eco-tourist attraction. Whether it’s swimming with dolphins or holding sea turtles. Contact with hundreds or thousands of tourists can traumatize the animals being protected and compromise their health, sometimes in serious ways. Be wary of any eco-tourist attraction that encourages or allows this contact and know it may pose a health risk for you personally. For example, at the Cayman Turtle Farm, tourists are encouraged to handle the sea turtles, putting themselves at risk of contracting E.coli and salmonella.
- If there is a high entertainment to science ratio, stay away. Eco-tourist attractions balance science and entertainment. Unfortunately, some lean too heavily on the latter. If an eco-tourist attraction has too much entertainment, such as snorkeling with sea turtles in artificial ponds as the case at the Cayman Turtle Farm, it may not pay enough attention to welfare of the animals it’s protecting and the science of conservation.
- Don’t eat the animals supposedly being protected. Done properly, there’s nothing wrong with farming. But it’s different thing than conservation. Any eco-tourist attraction that tries to balance conservation of a species with selling it for meat is caught in a conflict of interest. At the Cayman Turtle Farm, it claims to be helping endangered sea turtles while selling sea turtle meat to local restaurants.
- Look for what trusted third parties say. Before you visit an attraction, spend a few minutes on the Internet to see what trusted third-party groups have to say. In the case of the Cayman Turtle Farm, WSPA and other animal and conservation groups express concerns about its policies and practices which are online and come up in any search on the farm.
- Ask you travel agent, cruise line and hotel concierge lots of questions. With the four points above in mind, question anyone recommending a visit to an eco-tourist attraction. Ask members of the travel industry to investigate the attractions they promote and provide proof that the property is operating with the animal’s and the environment’s interest at its core. If they can’t answer all of your concerns, look for other animal- and eco-friendly options.
WSPA says keeping these five tips in mind will help environmentally minded travelers avoid eco-tourist attractions that fail to meet industry standards.
Kalaloch Lodge Special Offer
|The National Park Service has allowed Delaware North Companies to open Kalaloch Lodge, located outside of Olympic National Park.
Kalaloch Lodge sits on an Olympic Peninsula promontory overlooking the Pacific Northwest coast. The lodge features 64 rooms spread between the main lodge, Seacrest Building and cabins. The location offers activities for all interests, panoramic ocean views and a menu inspired by its majestic Pacific Northwest location.
In celebration of Olympic National Park's diamond anniversary and the resumption of operations at the seaside retreat, Kalaloch Lodge offers a $75 special discount rate when you book a new reservation in a Kalaloch cabin, Seacrest studio, or Lodge View room by Dec. 29, 2013 for arrival by Jan. 26, 2014. Book online to take advantage of this offer:
Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts operates Kalaloch Lodge, including all lodging, food and beverage services and retail outlets.
Georgia Journey- - Article and photos by Nicki Chodnoff
| It’s easy to keep Georgia on your mind, when you ramble around the deep south. Stray from its capital, the bustling urban metropolis of Atlanta, and you’ll find history, nature, sprawling farms and empty roads throughout the state.
So get out of your comfort zone to explore the nooks and crannies of Georgia. The appeal of driving should be discovering the places you go through on the way to your final destination. Get in your car and feel the calmingly cocoon-like trance of a road trip. Along the way, do that southern thing. Chat with all the people you meet as if they were long lost friends. Here are some suggestions for your journey.
Uncle Remus Museum - 214 Oak St Eatonton, 706/485-6856 - This museum is off the beaten track in Eatonton, GA., but well worth a visit. If you remember the stories of Brer Rabbit and the crafty Brer Fox or Disney’s Song of the South, this museum is a wonderful reminder of the folklore and heritage of the antebellum South. The museum is in Turner Park, part of the original homestead of Joseph Sidney Turner, the “Little Boy” in Uncle Remus tales. The museum is built from three original slave cabins from Putnam County, much like the one Uncle Remus lived in. It started with Uncle Remus, a beloved character created by Joel Chandler Harris, who grew up in and around Eatonton during the Civil War era. Uncle Remus was an elderly slave who amuses a young boy by telling stories that bring the animals of the area to life. Harris got his inspiration and foundation by listening to the elderly story tellers who weaved enchanting tales at one of the plantations near Eatonton. Harris later put the stories to paper in his books and newspaper columns. The museum, through its docents, explains what you are seeing in terms of the museum artwork, wood carvings and artifacts and how it connects to the author.
Laurel and Hardy Museum - 250 N Louisville St 706/556-0401 - A small hometown museum in Harlem, GA., just off the Interstate, contains a wide range of Laurel and Hardy memorabilia donated and loaned to the museum. Harlem was the place where Oliver Hardy was born. The house where Oliver Hardy lived was torn down, but there is a plague at the site. Dedicated to perhaps the greatest comedy team of all time, it is the only Laurel and Hardy museum in the US. After wandering through the collection, stop by the small theater in the back that plays Laurel and Hardy 17 minute shorts. Ask for the movie of your choice, and it will be played for you by one of the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers. Their passion about “the boys,” as the volunteers like to call Laurel and Hardy, is evident as they love to share information. Appropriate for even the youngest members of your family, the movies will tickle everyone’s funny bone. They don't make movies like that anymore: simple, wholesome fun that stood the test of time. Make sure you put on a bowler hat and ask the volunteer to take your photo in the car with Stan and Ollie. If in the area during the first Saturday in October, be sure to take part in the Oliver Hardy Festival. Amazingly, there is no admission fee though donations are accepted.
Andalusia – Directions to Andalusia - Home of Flannery O’Connor. Considered by many to be one of America's greatest writers, she was born Mary Flannery O’Connor in Savannah, GA but lived nearly all her adult life in Milledgeville, GA. When 25, O'Connor developed lupus and died from the disease at age 39. In her brief life she wrote two novels and some of the finest short stories (32) penned by an American writer. Dubbed, the Queen of Southern Gothic, her fiction is filled with Catholic themes, violence and grotesque characters, creating a mystique around O'Connor which remains strong today.
When O’Connor developed lupus and returned to Milledgeville, she and her mother moved to the 500 acre family farm, Andulusia, where she lived until her death in 1964. Visit and see why she loved it so much. The farm was not only a place to live and write, but the idyllic country setting was an inspiration and a landscape to set her fiction.
You’ll find things are much like they were when Flannery lived there if you go on a self-guided or walk-in tour. After the death of Flannery’s mother, it’s been a slow process to rescue the house after years of neglect. The interior of the home looks much as it did when Flannery transformed what would be a living room into her bedroom/office. She usually wrote every morning and left afternoons and evenings for visitors and tending to her many birds. Many of the artifacts are the ones she used during her writing career. The upstairs includes two bedrooms, which O’Connor didn’t visit.
Comfortable white rocking chairs line the screened porch, where you are encouraged to sit and rock. This is the perfect place to let your mind wander aimlessly or meditate.
The property is as beautiful and serene as when O’Connor lived there. Beyond the house, there are several old buildings you can explore that are being restored as money allows. The Hill house, a modified mid-19th century plantation type cottage where resident farmers Robert “Jack” and Louise Hill lived, was restored in 2012.
In the yard, the O’Connor Association keeps three peacocks, caged. When Flannery lived here, she had a collection of peacocks that she loved.
To raise money to restore the property, Flannery’s books are on sale in the gift shop along with other souvenirs. There is no entry fee to the property. A suggested donation of $5 is appreciated. If you are creating your own Georgia literary trail, O’Connor is buried in Millegeville
Greensboro - Halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, Greensboro is home to Georgia’s second largest lake, Lake Oconee. Downtown Greensboro, known as Lake Oconee’s hometown, is a quiet, small town founded in 1786. Named after Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene, the town survived King Cotton, the Civil War, the boll weevil and the Great Depression. It keeps re-inventing itself.
The small, friendly downtown historic shopping district features the usual suspects: restaurants, antiques, art galleries, home décor and gift shops. You can also get entertainment with your shopping with the Greensboro Tale Trails. Stop at the Greene County Chamber of Commerce office, 111 N Main St., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a Tale Trails brochure. A few of the favorite tales are about “Oscar” the unknown dead man who was stored at the Big Store for more than two decades, the dog that had a charge account at the drug store and the mysterious marble slab beneath the streets of town.
You can also get a Tale Trails podcast on your smartphone and listen to the stories about downtown Greensboro at your own pace .
Old-fashioned service isn’t so old-fashioned. If someone from the Green County Chamber of Commerce is available, they’ll take you or find a willing townsperson to take you for a town tour. They’ll even assist you with genealogy research.
Entertainment is part of Greensboro’s mix. The former Greene County High School gymnasium was renovated and repurposed into a performing arts center called Festival Hall. Thanks to a partnership with the Oconee Performing Arts Center, entertainment includes concerts, comedians, magic and assorted productions in the downtown heart of Greensboro. The first entertainer to take to the renovated stage in May 2010 was John Lithgow.
Augusta - Georgia’s second largest and second oldest city is known worldwide for the Masters golf tournament and its coveted green jacket. Less known is that Augusta’s nickname is the Garden City for the beautiful yards filled with azalea bushes, dogwood and magnolia trees.
Few people realize that Augusta was the home of the "Godfather of Soul," James Brown, the childhood residence of President Woodrow Wilson and the birthplace of artist Jasper Johns.
Now you can schedule a James Brown pilgrimage to Augusta, which has two main sites associated with the singer regarded as the godfather of soul.
Your first stop should be the James Brown exhibit at the Augusta Museum of History, 560 Reynolds St. 706/722-8454. In addition to your James Brown quest, you can celebrate what brings many to Augusta - the grand tradition of golf. There are life-size bronze statues of golf greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, highlights of the evolution of golf equipment and the unique courses that helped make the region a golf mecca.
The James Brown exhibit features rare memorable and personal artifacts which vividly tell the story of Brown’s rise to worldwide fame. The singer’s life and legacy are told with interactive kiosks and cases full of memorabilia and personal artifacts that cover the 50-year career of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Video screens play Brown’s performances, offer oral histories from his famous friends and help give an understanding of why he was called “The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business.” A James Brown jukebox plays many of the 116 hits in his song catalog. Beyond the James Brown galleries, there’s an impressive collection of exhibits that run the gamut of Augusta’s long history.
Stop two in your James Brown pilgrimage will take you to a tree-lined plaza on Broad Street, a few blocks from the museum. The James Brown statue is Augusta’s most-visited James Brown attraction. Dedicated in 2005, before his death, this life-sized bronze statue shows how important Brown was to the city. Since his death, fans visit the statue to pay their respects, often leaving flowers, notes or mementos, which are collected for the family. Many of these items are on display in the exhibit at the Museum of History. Linger by the statue for a few minutes and you’ll see fans having their picture taken at the statue, which sits at street level, per Brown’s wishes. If you don’t have a camera or your cellphone can’t take photos, the Greater Augusta Arts Council installed the “James Brown Cam.” Dial the number posted on the sign next to the statue with your cellphone, strike your pose, and you can download a photo of yourself with the statue.
If the weather's nice, stroll along Augusta’s Savannah River on the downtown Riverwalk. One of the two Riverwalk walkways meanders along the riverbank and an upper walkway runs at the top of the levee. Along the way there are colorful gardens, a playground, an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and historical plaques detailing the city's history.
During the Industrial Age, Augusta had many canals serving its many factories. Most of the canals and factories are gone, but the Augusta Canal is part of a National Heritage Area that still powers some factories. The best way to see and learn about the canal is on a guided tour aboard a replica Petersburg cargo boat. The relaxing tour reflects on a bygone era along a scenic waterway where you'll see historic sites, nature, walkers, joggers and bikers on the old levee tow way paths converted into greenways. Boat tours include a one-hour overview tour, the more adult-oriented three-hour Sunset Cruise and Moonlight Music Cruise, where you're allowed to bring alcoholic beverages on board.
Click for more information on visiting Augusta, 800/726-0243.
Macon, GA - The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, 2321 Vineville Avenue, 478/741-5551 - If you were a fan of the music and lifestyle of the Allman Brothers band, this museum is a “must-see” as it takes you back to those simple early times. The three-story Tudor-style "Big House" where the band lived from the end of 1969 into 1973, is restored and contains an extensive collection of memorabilia, some which you can touch and feel. The “Big House” became the center of the band's world - where they practiced, wrote songs and met before going out on tour. It's where the wives, girlfriends and children remained when the band was on the road. This is where the songs "Ramblin' Man," Blue Sky" and "Midnight Rider” were penned and the last place Duane Allman visited before dying in a motorcycle crash in 1971.
Clothing and articles belonging to all band members, including Duane Allman and Berry Oakley are here. Upstairs, you'll see the famous large seven-head shower and Duane Allman's bedroom, decorated with personal items the way he had it when he lived in the house. You can get the essence in about an hour but can spend much more time if you read the exhibits and understand the chronology. Wonderful local volunteers and staff are happy to assist you and will enhance the exhibits with stories about the band. Make sure you get the informative handout describing the items on display. The gift shop has a great selection of T-shirt and concert posters.
Conyers, GA - Monastic Heritage Center, 770/483-8705.So many of us yearn to get off the high speed freeway of life and find a relaxing back road. Whether it is for few hours or a week, the Monastic Heritage Center will be a quiet, relaxing retreat.
The monastery is a Roman Catholic contemplative religious community that is part of the worldwide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappists.
According to Brother Calistas, the 40 Trappist monks who live there welcome guests of all faiths who want to rest and reflect, pray and meditate. About 80,000 visitors come through every year, whether to the church, the gift shop or on retreat.
Located on almost 2,000 acres, the monastery dates to 1944. The monks first lived in a barn on part of the old plantation and cotton farm. They spent 15 years building the Abbey Church along with other structures. Monastery projects must be self-sufficient so the monks started with agriculture and animal husbandry. They decided tourism as an easier way to pay the bills.
The Visitor and Monastic Heritage Center displays historical interactive exhibits and video on the monastic life past and present
A visit to the monastery can be as simple and de-stressing as walking along the paths and walking trails that lead to lakes, gardens and picnic areas. The large swath of undeveloped land make it one of the largest green spaces in the Atlanta area. Monks have identified more than 100 species of trees, 300 species of wildflowers, 200 types of birds and 89 types of butterflies.
Shopping is also possible at the Abbey Gift Shop and garden center. The Abbey Store and Garden Café is the largest religious bookstore in Georgia, and features Monk-made fudge, biscotti and fruitcake in addition to books, stained glass art, gifts and jewelry. The Bonsai Garden and Nursery offers a variety of miniature trees (bonsai) grown and cultivated by the monks. The monks also sell hand-made stained glass.
At the Gothic-style Abbey Church, you are welcome to join the monks at times of vespers (singing psalms) and community prayer throughout the day. For a more intense experience, you can visit for a private or organized retreat, which allows you to think deeply about your personal life and issues.
"You are free to follow your own schedule as well as to participate fully in the monastic schedule of the divine office: praying the psalms," according to the monastery's Web site, www.trappist.net.
Retreats, private or organized, offer meals and hostel-style rooms throughout the year.. Past retreat topics included: "Yoga and Christian Contemplation," "Joyful Challenges of Life after 50" and "Image, Faith and Photography."
Thomson, GA Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival If you are near Thomson, GA in mid-May, attend the celebration of the Blues that honors native son, Blind Willie McTell, May 2013 marked the festival’s 20th anniversary.
Born William Samuel McTell in 1901, Blind Willie lost his sight in late childhood. He became an accomplished musical theorist, able to both read and write music in Braille.
McTell was a major force in blues music in the 1920s and 1930s, recording more than 120 songs. He influenced the Blues, Jazz and Rock music scene as his songs: Statesboro Blues, Broke Down Engine Blues, to name two, have been recorded by the Allman Brothers, Taj Mahal and others.
The festival draws between 1,500 and 2,000 people each year, about the maximum the volunteer organizers can handle. People seem to like the festival, returning year after year. The prices are moderate. There are few places where else can you spend $25 for nine hours of top-rate music.
Grab a Bite
Greensboro, GA - If you’re the type of person that thinks you should eat dessert before dinner, then here are two places to try in Greensboro
The Potted Geranium Tea Parlor & Gifts, 201 West Greene Street, 706/453-4553 - Each room is beautifully and differently decorated in this downtown restored Victorian home that’s been turned into a tea parlor. In spring and summer, you can walk through the gardens and see all the flowers in bloom. Leave electronics at home and enjoy fresh, made-from scratch goodies strawberry soup, mini cherry pies and scones – all at fair prices. The gift shop carries English bone china, linens and jewelry.
The Yesterday Cafe, 114 North Main Street, 706/453-0800 - In downtown Greensboro’s historic district, Yesterday Café offers casual dining in a quaint atmosphere. They restored a storefront shop into a restaurant, complete with old photographs of locals on the walls. A favorite of locals serving home-style, good as grandma’s food. Don’t miss the buttermilk pie rated best in Georgia by Southern Living.
Bee's Knees Tapas, 211 Tenth St, 706/828-3600. A hip restaurant in downtown Augusta with a fusion-style multi-cultural menu. Other features include a bar with a wide range of drinks and a selection of many vegetarian-friendly dishes such as Miso soup, salads and entrees (known as big tapas) with a vegetarian option. This looks like a great date night spot but may not be a good choice for small children.
Where to Stay
Partridge Inn, 2110 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 706/737-8888 - If you want to absorb a bit of Augusta history, the 145-room Partridge Inn dates back to Augusta's historic days as a springtime playground of the elite. It is perched on the hill, overlooking downtown Augusta in the distance and lies across the street from the former Bon Air hotel. Some rooms with balconies give you that downtown Augusta view. Don’t expect the cookie-cutter sameness modern hotels and motels offer as the property was built in the 1890s, and every room is unique. Rooms are clean and comfortable but unique may mean awkward layouts and spaces in the bathroom and bedroom. If you want the more modern appointments the chains offer, the hotel may not be for you.
Kentucky State Parks Offer Military Discounts
|Kentucky State Parks offer lodging discounts to current and former armed services members with the “USA Military Discount” program to Mar. 31, 2014.
The program is available to those on active military duty, retired members of the military, veterans, members of the National Guard and reservists. Proof of military service is required at check-in.
With the USA Military Discount, lodge rooms start at $44.95 a night; one bedroom cottages for $74.95 a night; two bedroom cottages for $84.95 a night and three bedroom cottages for $94.95 a night. Tax is not included. Rates are good at 11 resort parks plus the cottages at John James Audubon State Park.
The rate is $5 more per night at these parks: Barren River, Cumberland Falls, Kentucky Dam Village, Lake Barkley, Lake Cumberland and Natural Bridge.
During April through October, current and former members of the military can get a 10 percent lodging or camping discount.
Kentucky State Parks have 17 resorts that offer golf, fishing, hiking on trails, scenery and full-service restaurants. Many resorts are near or include historic sites and museums and offer programs during the fall and winter, such as elk tours, eagle watching tours and entertainment.
This offer may not be used with other special discounts or packages. The discount is based on availability, for leisure travel only, and may exclude special events and holidays.
For online reservations use “USA” for the promo code through Mar. 31, 2014. During April through October, use promo code “military discount” when making an online reservation.
Kentucky State Parks.
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