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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, December 2005 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
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ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2005 
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In This Issue:
Fairmont Empress Hotel, Victoria, B.C.

Empress Hotel

  • Singapore Airlines Savings
  • New Carrier MaxJet
  • 2Afrika Waives Single Supplement
  • EL AL Winter Packages
  • New York Ski Specials
  • In-flight Gambling, Fre.e Flights?
  • Delta Tickets for Life
  • Thunderbird Lodge Reduced Winter Rates
  • National Park Discounts during Quiet Season
  • Holidaze Ski Deals
  • Days Hotels Winter Rates in U.K., Ireland
  • $100 for $100
  • Outer Banks Getaway Card
  • Rosen Hotels “Orlan-Dough” Mega-Value
  • Ski Fr.ee in Jackson Hole
  • European Countries Urged to Improve 112
  • British Columbia's Grand Buildings
  • D.C. Winter Restaurant Week 2006
  • A Profusion of Pearls
    It's not too early to think holidays or treat yourself to this cultured stunner. Cultured black freshwater pearls interspersed with sterling silver lend a lovely luster to this spectacular necklace. The perfect accessory, the extender chain with matching pearl adjusts the necklace length from 15 to 18 inches. Unbelievably priced at $129.

    A matching 8 inch long bracelet for a mere $109 completes the set. Click here to order.

    Singapore Airlines Savings

    In-Transit Deal - Fly on Singapore Airlines and arrive at Singapore’s Changi Airport. While in transit, you can receive discounts of up to half off the airport's shopping, dining and lifestyle services. Many of the airport's other services will be available for fr.ee. You must present your Singapore Airlines boarding pass (valid for same-day travel) to take advantage of this offer at participating retailers. The promotion ends September 2006.

    Bali Deal - If you fly to Bali on Singapore Airlines, you can receive privileges and discounts at many locations around the island. Simply present your Singapore Airlines boarding pass within seven days of your flight to enjoy these discounts. The Bali promotion ends December 31, 2005.

    Singapore Airlines.

    New Carrier MaxJet

    MaxJet is the new carrier that offers discount business-class-only service from New York's JFK to London's Stansted airport. Roundtrip airfare which started at $1,558 plus taxes and fees has dropped to $1358 roundtrip plus taxes and fees. Other airlines are charging at least $2,382 roundtrip.

    The maximum stay in London is 365 days. Seats are limited and certain flights and travel days may be unavailable at the lowest prices, especially during busy travel periods. Tickets are nontransferable, but may be reissued for a $100 change fee plus any applicable difference in fare. Tickets are refundable for a $300 fee.

    The airline operates B767 aircraft configured with 102 business class seats with 60” pitch, upscale meal service, airport lounges and portable on-demand entertainment.

    The airline plans to begin service out of Dulles in December.

    MaxJet or 888/435-9629.

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

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

    2Afrika Waives Single Supplement

    2Afrika, a tour operator in Jersey City, NJ, that specializes in African safaris, is waiving single supplements on several itineraries. For example, the "Lions Share" safari, with roundtrip air from Washington, D.C. and six nights at four lodges in Kenya, starts at $2,715 per person single or double. Singles usually pay $600 more for departures Apr. 1 to May 31, 2006. Departures June 1 to 24 are slightly higher. Taxes are about $295.

    Starting Jan. 1, 2006, their “Affordable Tanzania Safari” will be available for the 2006 season. With 24 departures in 2006, each with a maximum of 24 passengers, the 13-day safari will cost from $2,695 plus tax. Certain times during 2006, you can depart from Newark, Boston, Washington Dulles, Miami, Los Angeles or San Francisco for $20.06 more.

    2Afrika or 866/462-2374.

    EL AL Winter Packages

    EL AL, Israel's national airline, offers winter savings packages for passengers flying from the U.S. to Israel through Mar. 2006.

    EL AL and Hertz offer a seven-day "Fly & Drive" package from New York (JFK and Newark), Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago for travel through Dec. 19, 2005 and Jan. 6 to Feb. 28, 2006. You can fly EL AL and choose a Hertz manual car rental with unlimited mileage for $1,134 from New York (JFK and Newark); $1,443 from Los Angeles; $1,305 from Miami; and $1,237 from Chicago. With a Hertz automatic car rental with unlimited mileage the cost is $1,188 from New York (JFK and Newark); $1,497 from Los Angeles; $1,359 from Miami; and $1,292 from Chicago. All "Fly & Drive" package prices include a fuel surcharge. Gas and insurance are not included.

    EL AL’s package to Israel includes tours of top religious sites for $1,499 (including fuel surcharge) per person, based on double occupancy (single supplement $175). Through March 31, 2006 (except Dec. 16 to Dec. 24, 2005), you’ll receive roundtrip airfare from the U.S. to Israel, seven nights in a first class hotel, daily tours of holy sites throughout Israel, and a traditional buffet breakfast with a choice of lunch or dinner daily. Daily tours will visit Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Jordan River, Masada, the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Bethlehem, and stops at attractions in Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and along the Mediterranean. The package is subject to availability and must be ticketed at least three weeks prior to departure. $79.70 taxes not included.

    EL AL has partnered with leading hotels in Israel for air/hotel packages for passengers flying from New York (JFK and Newark), Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. Reduced rates for children are available. ). A package with an EL AL flight (from (JFK and Newark) and five consecutive nights’ accommodations starts from $1,275 per person, double occupancy at the Regency Jerusalem Hotel (with fuel surcharge included). Other leading hotels include the Dan Panorama Hotels in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa for $1,285; the Holiday Inns in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat, and Haifa for $1,335; Sheraton Moriah Hotels in Jerusalem (Sheraton Plaza), Tel Aviv and Tiberias (Sheraton Moriah) for $1,385; Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv for $1,415 and the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem for $1,445.

    EL AL's weekly winter schedule includes 19 weekly nonstop flights from JFK and Newark, twice weekly from Chicago and Miami and five weekly flights from Los Angeles.

    Packages are subject to availability and must be ticketed at least three weeks prior to departure. Tickets, which are in "H" class, are valid six to 30 days and are non-refundable once issued. Up to $81.20 taxes not included. Cancellation/change and other restrictions may apply.

    EL AL or 800/ELAL-SUN.

    New York Ski Specials

    Located north of New York City, the Catskill Mountains attract skiers and snowboarders from across the Northeast every winter. In addition to early-bird discounts for season passes, deals are available for those planning a special trip or trying skiing or snowboarding for the first time.

    Hunter Mountain or 800/486-8376 -- For $46 get an all-area lift ticket, equipment rental, group lesson and lunch. The offer is open to all ladies, ages seven and up, every Wednesday through March (excluding Dec. 28, 2005). For less than $30 a day, the Beginner Try-Pak is for people looking to save money while learning how to ski or snowboard. For $89, get three separate visits which can be used any time during the season. It includes a lower mountain lift ticket, equipment rental and a group lesson, all on a convenient swipe card.

    Windham Mountain or 800/754-9463 -- Windham 1Cardholders are eligible for deals throughout the season, including fr.ee food and ski lessons and discounts on apparel. Ski during the week and the $30 Weekday Frequent Saver Card provides a 50 percent discount on weekend non-holiday lift ticket purchases throughout the season.

    Plattekill Mountain Resort or 800/NEED2SKI -- College students pay $99 for a season lift ticket when they sign up with at least three other friends. Passes must be purchased at the same time. Students must show a valid college I.D. and be 18 to 21 years old. This discount is available all season. Boy Scouts, members of the Armed Forces, and Fire, Police and EMS all receive $10 off a lift ticket on special discount days. Carload Day offers even steeper discounts.

    The 4th grade Ski and Ride Passport or 800/ILOVENY -- allows fourth graders to ski for fr.ee at many New York State ski centers, when accompanied by a paying adult. To receive a passport, fill out the application, include a copy of a report card and a check for the $15 processing fee. Application deadline is Mar. 1, 2006.

    Fun, Fr-ee Things, San Diego
    This savings-packed FR.EE brochure features almost 40 Fun, Fr-ee Things to do in San Diego. Attend concerts or visit a State Historic Park and keep that cash in your pocket by knowing what you can see and do for fr-ee.

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

    In-flight Gambling, F.ree Flights?

    Ireland-based Ryanair is exploring offering more fr.ee flights if it can generate enough revenue from in-flight gambling.

    Chief Executive Officer Michael O'Leary said the discount carrier gave away about a quarter of its seats last year and the success of gambling could see all of its fares eliminated.

    The airline expects to pick an online gaming operator to partner with and begin testing the system next summer. O'Leary predicts that if 25 to 30 percent of passengers chose some in-flight wagering, then it could add $85 million to Ryanair's bottom line.

    Passengers will be able to gamble using their mobile phones or supplied Blackberries, provided it can devise a payment system that allows it to debit a passenger's credit card before the plane lands. All the calls would be routed through an onboard mobile "sub-station" enabling the airline to get a cut of the call charge and a percentage of the takings.

    Ryanair launched its last fr.ee ticket offer in the beginning of November, giving away two million seats through January 2006.

    Delta Tickets for Life

    Delta Air Lines offers its U.S. frequent flyer customers the opportunity to enter the "Tickets for Life" sweepstakes and a chance to win a daily prize of 50,000 SkyMiles or the grand prize of 2.5 million miles and $25,000 cash.

    Here's how the contest works. You must enroll in the promotion online and provide your SkyMiles number. If you are not a member of Delta's SkyMiles program, you can sign up and enroll in the promotion at the same online address.

    One daily prize of 50,000 miles will be awarded each day until Dec. 15, 2005. To be eligible for the daily prize, you must purchase a qualifying roundtrip ticket on the daily prize date. For example, to be eligible for the daily prize on Nov. 5, 2005, you must purchase a qualifying ticket on Nov. 5.

    One grand prize of 2.5 million miles and $25,000 cash will be awarded in Feb. 2006. All SkyMiles members who purchase a qualifying ticket through Dec. 15, 2005, and complete travel by Jan. 31, 2006, will be entered into the drawing for the grand prize.

    At Delta’s web site, there are no ticketing fees and there’s a 1,000 bonus miles for every flown roundtrip ticket purchase.

    Complete official rules.

    Thunderbird Lodge Reduced Winter Rates

    Cooler temperatures mean deals at Thunderbird Lodge, the only lodging facility in Canyon de Chelly National Monument in northeastern Arizona. Rates for the 2005-06 winter season are reduced up to 43 percent off summer-season rates. Overnight visitors on Saturday, Sunday and Monday will also receive coupons for continental breakfast, 10 percent off canyon tours and 10 percent off gift shop purchases.

    The winter rates are in effect through Mar. 31, 2006. Rates per night are $58.50 for a single room, $65 for a double, $71 for a triple and $77 for a quad. Suites are available starting at $90.50. Rates do not include taxes.

    Thunderbird Lodge features 74 rooms equipped with comfortable beds, full bathrooms and cable television. The lodge sits on the site of a trading post built in 1896, and its cafeteria-style restaurant is located in the trading post's original building. The gift shop and rug room offer some of the region's finest examples of Native American jewelry, crafts and Navajo rugs.

    Thunderbird Lodge or 800/679-2473.

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

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

    National Park Discounts during Quiet Season

    As the country's national treasures settle in for the "quiet season," visits to Zion, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks decreases dramatically over summer season numbers. Xanterra Parks & Resorts, who operates lodges, restaurants, gift shops and activities in those and many other U.S. national parks and resorts, offers discount to visitors who prefer cooler temperatures and fewer visitors.

    Grand Canyon - Room rates at the South Rim drop by as much as 31 percent from summer rates. Room rates at the park's two off-rim lodges, Maswik and Yavapai Lodges, range from $72 to $83 plus tax. Summer rates for those rooms are $76 to $120 per night. Called the "Winter Value Rate," pricing is for single or double occupancy, and the cost for each additional person in the room is $9. Children 16 and under stay at no extra charge.
    xxxxAt the South Rim’s El Tovar, the romance package includes one night in a standard queen room, a bottle of sparkling wine, fruit basket and dinner for two in the hotel's dining room. The base package is $264 plus tax. Upgrade to a deluxe room or suite for an additional charge, based on availability. Mention "ROMA" when making reservations.
    xxxxBoth packages are available through Mar. 9, 2006, excluding Dec. 23, 2005 through Jan. 2, 2006. Grand Canyon Lodges or 888/297-2757.

    Zion National Park - Through Mar. 9, 2006, experience Southern Utah and "Zion in Winter" rates. The nightly rate for a Sunday-through-Thursday stay is $79 for a standard room and $89 for a western cabin. On Fridays and Saturdays, the rate is $89 for a standard room and $99 for a western cabin. The package, based on double occupancy, includes breakfast but does not include taxes or gratuities. Each additional person in the room is $10. The weekend rate applies during Dec. 22 to 30, 2005 and Feb. 17 to 19, 2006. This offer is not available on Dec. 31, 2005 or Feb. 14, 2006. Mention promotion code "WNTR" when making reservations. Zion National Park Lodge or 888/297-2757.

    Yellowstone National Park - The winter season begins Dec. 21, 2005, when Old Faithful Snow Lodge opens. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel opens Dec. 23. Rates per night at the Mammoth Hotel start at $75 per room without a private bathroom or $99 per room with a bathroom. Rates at the Snow Lodge are $161 for a lodge room, $121 for a Western Cabin or $83 for a Frontier Cabin, all with private bathrooms. The "Nordic Heaven at Mammoth" package includes a minimum of two nights’ lodging, two breakfasts per person, welcome gift, full-day ski rental, one ski drop per person, a one-hour hot tub rental, unlimited ice skating and skates. Rates start at $119 per person, based on double occupancy. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel closes for the season on Mar. 5, 2006. Old Faithful Snow Lodge closes Mar. 12, 2006. Yellowstone National Park or 307/344-7311.

    Death Valley National Park - Winter is the most popular season when temperatures are moderate and comfortable. The Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort in Death Valley National Park offers rooms discount for seniors age 60 and older. Seniors staying Sunday through Thursday receive a 10 percent discount off a room when they stay one night, 20 percent discount for two nights and 30 percent discount for a three-night stay. Some blackout dates apply. Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort or 760/786-2345.

    Holidaze Ski Deals

    Holidaze Ski Tours of Belmar, NJ, offers five winter ski packages from $905 per person, based on double occupancy, that include seven nights’ accommodations, roundtrip air, and transfers.

    The ski Val Thorens package, from $1,175 per person, includes roundtrip airfare between New York and Geneva, transfers to and from Val Thorens, seven nights at a three-star hotel, breakfast and dinner daily, local taxes and departure taxes and fuel surcharge. Departures Jan. 6 through Apr. 7, 2006.

    Ski and see Chamonix from $905 per person; Meribel from $1,009 per person; Courchevel from $2,168 per person and Val D'Isere from $995 per person. Like the Val Thorens package, the other four packages include roundtrip airfare from New York to Geneva, transfers to and from the ski destination, seven nights at a three- or four-star hotel, breakfast and/or dinner daily, local taxes and departure taxes and fuel surcharge. Departures start Jan. 6 and continue through Apr. 7, 2006.

    Holidaze Ski Tours or 800/526-2827.

    Days Hotels Winter Rates in U.K., Ireland

    Book and stay at participating Days hotels in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland through Feb. 28, 2006, and get rates from 35 pounds Sterling as part of the Days Inn Winter Sale.

    Spend a night, weekend or the entire week at any Days Inn, Days Hotel or Days Serviced Apartment and you are eligible for Winter Sale rates, based on availability. Book reservations online or contact the property directly.

    You must reference promotional code SSS for all bookings. Reservations at the promotional rate are non-refundable and must be booked at least 24 hours in advance of the stay. Special terms and conditions apply.

    Amenities at Days locations in the U.K. and Ireland include in-suite bedrooms with private attached bathrooms and power showers; satellite TV; 24-hour front desk; white duvets and fr.ee in-room tea and coffee. Days Hotels have fully licensed bars, lounges, in-house restaurants and a cooked or continental breakfast.

    Days Hotels.

    Protect Luggage with Baggage Guard Seals

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

    Click Here to Order from On The Go Publishing.

    $100 for $100

    Millennium Hotels & Resorts have a deal where you pay $100 for a guest room and get a $100 credit for food and beverage at the property. These packages are available at the Millennium Hotel in Cincinnati and the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville through Dec. 30, 2005, and at the Millennium Airport Hotel in Buffalo, N.Y., through Jan. 31, 2006.

    Millennium Hotels & Resorts or 866/866-8086.

    Outer Banks Getaway Card

    Get discounts on accommodations, food, recreation and shopping with the Outer Banks Getaway Card. The fr.ee Getaway Card is available when you request the 2006 official travel guide.

    The card, representing a partnership between local businesses and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, is valid Jan 1 through May 15, 2006 and again Sep. 15 through Dec. 31, 2006. Offers on the card are not valid on holidays and adjacent weekends and cannot be used with other promotions, specials, sales, coupons or discounts, unless specified.

    When making reservations, request the Outer Banks Getaway Card rate or offer. Your visit must be within the dates that the card is valid to get the discounts and your card must be presented at the time of purchase. Discounts are based on availability and are subject to change. Tax, gratuities and alcohol are exempt. Other restrictions may apply.

    The Getaway Card can be ordered on the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau’s web site, which also lists seasonal savings that are updated daily and attraction passes.

    Outer Banks Visitors Bureau or 877/OBX-4FUN.

    Rosen Hotels “Orlan-Dough” Mega-Value

    The Rosen Hotels and Resorts, in Orlando, FL, offer an Orlan-Dough Mega-Value deal with rates from $39.95 to $49.95 (plus 11.5% tax) per room, per night. The rate depends on the day of the week and is valid for travel through Feb. 10, 2006. Rooms include a "Semi-Suite," with two double beds and amenities you'd expect to find in a suite, including refrigerator, microwave and coffee-maker.

    The package also offers a Kids Eat F.ree Program, fr.ee transportation to many areas attractions, fr.ee in-room safe and the "Orlan-Dough Mega Value Pack" with two-for-one discounts at area attractions.

    Value pack 2-for-1 or half-price tickets include Universal's City Walk, Wet 'n Wild, Pirate's Dinner Theater, Capone’s Dinner & Show, Hawaiian Rumble Adventure Golf and Skull Kingdom. Shopping and dining savings are offered at Shogun Authentic Japanese Steakhouse, Ron Jon's Surf Shop, Orlando Harley-Davidson, Festival Bay Mall and Old Town.

    Located near most Orlando-area attractions, the offer is good at the four Rosen hotels including the Quality Inn International, 7600 International Dr., Rodeway Inn International, 6327 International Dr., Quality Inn Plaza, 9000 International Dr., and Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista, The participating hotels are pet friendly and accept pets for an additional $10 per day pet fee.

    Reservations are subject to availability. A credit card is required to guarantee reservation at time of booking.

    Rosen Hotels and Resorts or 866/337-6736.

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

    Ski Fr.ee in Jackson Hole

    The Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole, WY, gives skiers a chance to experience the Teton Range at discount rates through Dec. 2005. The resort has teamed with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Grand Targhee and Snow King Resort to offer “Ski Fr.ee" packages.

    The ranch's "Ski Fre.e Package" is priced from $150 per room, per night, based on double occupancy, a savings of more than 50 percent. The package includes accommodations with a fireplace, breakfast for two daily, lift tickets to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or Grand Targhee ( two per day).

    For added flexibility, you can create a personalized package by choosing your length of stay and ski areas with Spring Creek Ranch's Build Your Own program.

    Spring Creek Ranch’s accommodations are suites, studios with full kitchens, two- and three-bedroom condominiums and executive homes. In season, the resort provides a fr-ee shuttle service to town and to the ski areas.

    Spring Creek Ranch or 800/443-6139.

    European Countries Urged to Improve 112

    An emergency phone system, intended to help tourists in Europe, is not working properly according to the European Commission. Many emergency call handling centers for the Europe-wide emergency number, 112, need technology upgrades to handle the “automatic” emergency calls ( or eCalls) that vehicles will soon be able to make in the event of a crash, or if the driver is unconscious. eCalls could cut response times and save thousands of lives, but the technology is behind schedule, according to the European Commission.

    The 112 single European emergency phone number can now be called from any phone, fixed or mobile, across 25 countries of the European Union, but the service is not working as well as it should. There have been numerous complaints from tourists that when they call 112, there is no one at the other end who can speak English. In some countries, the resources are not in place to handle the multiple languages required. In others, the technology to locate cell phone callers geographically is not available and in many countries people are not aware that the service exists.

    The 112 call handling centers are meant to deal with automatic emergency calls from vehicles involved in road accidents. eCall systems can report the exact location of a vehicle to the emergency services, even if the driver is unconscious. New cars produced in Europe from 2009 should have eCall units installed under a plan between the European Commission and the automotive industry.

    According to EC statistics, if all cars in Europe were equipped with eCall technology, it could cut emergency response times in rural areas by up to 50 percent and in urban areas up to 40 percent.

    British Columbia's Grand Buildings By Sue Kernaghan, photographs courtesy of British Columbia Tourism

    Canada PlaceSoaring sails on a city waterfront, a wall of glass on the ocean's edge, ancient cedar long-houses and even an homage to Rome's coliseum. Unusual? Perhaps. Stunning? Certainly.

    A tour of British Columbia's grand buildings can uncover everything from little-known Art Deco gems, to some of the world's most innovative public spaces.

    Pan Pacific HotelA great place to start is on Vancouver's waterfront, at the city's iconic Canada Place complex. Home to the Pan Pacific Hotel, the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, and the city's main cruise ship terminal, this striking landmark mimics the look and feel of the cruise ships it hosts with a prow jutting four city blocks into the harbor and five white sails, made of Teflon-coated fiberglass, soaring into the air. Canada Place is the first glimpse many visitors have of the Pacific Coast metropolis and, since its construction (as the Canada Pavilion for Expo '86), it's been one of the most distinctive features of Vancouver's skyline.

    Before 1986, that honor was held by the Marine Building, a 1930 Art Deco treasure at the foot of Burrard Street. Inspired by New York's Chrysler Building, this was Vancouver's first skyscraper. Sea life, transport images, ocean waves, and other maritime themes decorate the 21-story exterior. Step through the polished brass doors to see the zodiac mosaic on the lobby floor, take a ride up the pretty retro elevator, and then walk across to the corner of Hastings and Hornby Streets to see the structure reflected in its neighboring high rises.

    "It's one of my favorite buildings," says Colin Wong, Director of Communications at the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. "It's reflective of the period, and really takes advantage of its view of the North Shore and the water."

    Making the most of the view is a recurring theme in BC's architecture. "We have lots of natural beauty around us and there's no need to shield ourselves from it," adds Wong. "We also try to be harmonious with our environment, so you'll see a lot of curves and natural organic shapes, rather than sharp edges, as well as buildings designed to blend well with the structures around them, and lots of natural light."

    Vancouver's Library Square building is a prime example of this organic approach. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie and opened in 1995, this spiraled post-modern complex takes up a whole city block and, for many Vancouverites, recalls the ancient Coliseum of Rome. Home to Vancouver Public Library's main branch, the complex has become a popular local gathering place.

    The master of public spaces, though, and the architect who's had the biggest impact on Vancouver is undoubtedly Arthur Erickson. Born in Vancouver in 1924, Erickson, with his singular use of modern materials, clean lines, and natural light, has helped define West Coast style.

    Anthropology MuseumHis best known works include the 1976 Museum of Anthropology, a long-house-inspired cliff-top structure at the University of British Columbia, where 50 foot high windows showcase a collection of towering cedar poles against a backdrop of water, mountains and sky. Erickson also designed Simon Fraser University on a Burnaby mountaintop, and Robson Square, an innovative three-block complex in downtown Vancouver.

    Straddling Robson Street between Hornby and Howe streets and completed in 1979, Robson Square's low profile, geometric stramps (stairs and ramps combined for easy public access), indoor and outdoor greenery and masses of water, including three waterfalls and a block-long reflecting pool, create a much more welcoming public space than the office block that was originally proposed for the site.

    At the south end of the complex are the Provincial Law Courts, where more than an acre of sloping glass (topped with greenery) provides natural light and a sense of transparency to the legal process.

    Bookending the north end of the square is the Vancouver Art Gallery. The city's original courthouse, this neo-classical structure was designed in 1911 by BC's other seminal architect, Francis Rattenbury. In the early 1980s, Erickson helped transform it into a gallery as part of his Robson Square design.

    Rattenbury, a young British immigrant, was based in what was, in his day, the vastly more important city of Victoria, where he was responsible for virtually all of that city's important structures, from the Crystal Garden (to re-open in 2006 as the BC Experience) and the CPR Steamship Terminal (now the Royal London Wax Museum), to the Parliament Buildings and the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Built in 1898 and 1908 respectively, the latter two complexes dominate Victoria's Inner Harbour.

    Parliament BuildingsRattenbury didn't stick to any particular style when designing the Parliament Buildings (he was just 25 years old at the time), but he certainly showcased local resources, using Vancouver Island stone, granite and slate for the facade, foundation, and roof respectively, and local copper for the buildings' 33 domes. Statues of historic figures dot the complex (that's Captain Vancouver atop the main dome, and Queen Victoria out front) and more than 3,000 lights outline the buildings at night.

    Fairmont Empress HotelAcross the way at the grand, ivy-draped Fairmont Empress, one of the chateau-style hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, afternoon tea in the Edwardian tea lobby is as civilized an experience as it was in 1908. While you're there, take a peak at the wonderful stained glass ceiling in the Palm Court.

    Another rich vein of Victorian and Edwardian architecture can be found in the pretty lakeside town of Nelson, in BC's Kootenay region. Nelson's more than 350 heritage buildings have attracted so much interest, the Architectural Institute of BC has added the town to its walking tour roster, along with Vancouver and Victoria (see below for tour details).

    Of course, BC's architectural history vastly predates colonial times.

    In Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, on Haida Gwaii (or the Queen Charlotte Islands), you'll find SGang Gwaay Llnagaay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the best surviving examples of a Northwest Coast First Nations village site. The site is remote and a guided tour is recommended.

    Also on the islands and rather more accessible is the Haida Gwaii Museum at Qay'llnagaay, near Skidegate. It's home to an excellent collection of Haida artifacts and is one of several BC museum buildings that echo the traditional Northwest Coast long-house style. These include Vancouver's Museum of Anthropology, the Museum of Northern British Columbia in Prince Rupert, and the Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre in Duncan on Vancouver Island.

    Ksan Native Village, HazeltonEnlightening insight into traditional First Nations architecture can be found at 'Ksan Historical Village, near Old Hazelton in Northern BC. Here, a re-created Gitxsan village of seven long-houses replicate a community that stood near the same riverside site for hundreds, or possibly thousands, of years. It's a lush, green and peaceful spot where the beautifully decorated post and beam structures work in harmony with the natural setting.

    It's this kind of harmony that many observers envision for BC's future buildings, with increased use of green space and respect for the environment.

    Says Wong: "One great thing about living in BC is that even in the cities we have a tremendous amount of green space and we've realized that even roofs can be green spaces. In a lot of newer buildings, you'll see trees on the top." Wong expects to see many more green roofs and rooftop gardens in the future. "One day I would hope that if they took a satellite photo of Vancouver all you'd see is forest."

    The Architectural Institute of British Columbia conducts architectural walking tours in Victoria, Vancouver and Nelson during July and August. The fee in Victoria and Vancouver is $5; the Nelson tours are fr-ee. For more information, contact the AIBC at 800/667-0753 (ext. 333).

    You can also drop in to the AIBC's Architecture Centre Gallery at 100 - 440 Cambie Street (at Pender Street), in Vancouver. Admission is f.ree.

    British Columbia Tourism or 800/HELLO-BC.

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

    D.C. Winter Restaurant Week 2006

    When it comes to dining out, Washington, DC is home to some of the world’s finest cafés, restaurants and talented chefs. During Jan. 9 to 15, 2006, many of the city’s most popular eateries offer special three-course, prix fixe menus at $20.06 for lunch and $30.06 for dinner, in honor of the year.

    Washington, DC Restaurant Week is produced by the Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corporation and Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. A complete list of participating restaurants will be available here by the end of December.

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

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

    CURE & CLEAN NATURALLY -- Throw out your harmful toxic disinfectants, cleaners, bleaches and insecticides! Cure and clean with the world’s safest all-natural sanitizer, Hydrogen Peroxide. You don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy store-bought preparations with their “secret ingredient” that turns out to be Hydrogen Peroxide. Get more than 30 powerful recipes using Hydrogen Peroxide as a foot soak, cold and flu killer, plant protector, and pet purgative for only $2. To order, send an email to: cpventures@hotpop.com with Order Hydrogen Peroxide Cure in subject line.
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    Live Among the Locals Forget about staying in a boring hotel. Live among the locals in a house or flat. Coach House London Vacation Rentals offers short term central London rentals with more than 60 properties that sleep from 2 to 12 people. Each rental comes with a neighborhood guide, breakfast provisions for the first day or two of your stay, a telephone help line, and what to do and see. Coach House London Vacation Rentals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Information & Credits

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

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

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