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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, March 2005 Issue


Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
http://www.free-webspace.biz/tsa
travelalerts@wowmail.com
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2005 
All Rights Reserved.


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Shake-Up Your Style with Beads
Beaded chains are the hottest fashion look. This 16-inch necklace with scores of Iolite beads dangling half-way around a chunky, sterling silver chain is a must. Hand-made in Mexico, these exceptional necklaces have matching earrings and bracelets available. Dochroic Iolite stones show two or more colors, depending on how light strikes it surface, shimmering from violet to blue. Why pay $600 at a designer boutique. Snap up the beaded Iolite chain necklace for $165, matching 7 1/2-inch bracelet for $99 and matching post earrings for $49. Click here to order from AAA Jewelry Outlet.


In This Issue:
View from Grand Targhee Resort, Idaho

  • American Intro Fares to Chihuahua
  • Sunshine on Sale at Hyatt
  • Sanibel's New Looks, Special Rates
  • Homeland Security Biometric Exit Pilot
  • Snooze Before You Cruise
  • Midwest Airlines Has Tails Wagging
  • Auto Europe Early Booking Savings
  • Divi Tiara Beach Resort Family Packages
  • Hostel Takeover
  • Value Vacations to Rio
  • Airline Water Quality Poor
  • Fre.e Fuel for Houseboaters
  • DooleyVacations European Savings
  • Suite Deal, The Sands at Grace Bay
  • Mexico Spring Break from $389
  • Wimco 60% Savings on Caribbean Villa
  • Southwest Fares From Pittsburgh
  • The Quiet Side of the Tetons by Kay Douglas
  • Alamo Family Vacation Sweepstakes

  • American Intro Fares to Chihuahua, Mexico

    HURRY, BOOK BY MARCH 4, 2005 -- American Eagle launches new nonstop service between Dallas/Fort Worth and Chihuahua, Mexico on May 1, 2005, and offers special introductory fares to Chihuahua from select U.S. cities.

    To take advantage of the introductory fares, you must travel between May 1 and June 17, 2005, stay over a Saturday night and purchase tickets no later than Mar. 4, 2005. A 30-day maximum stay is allowed. Tickets must be purchased at least three days prior to departure or within 24 hours of making reservations.

    Intro fares are only available at AA.com. Bookings made on online earn up to 1,000 bonus frequent flyer miles and there are no online booking fees.

    Sample roundtrip intro fares to Chihuahua, Mexico. Fares do not include government- imposed taxes and fees.

    From Dallas/Fort Worth $246

    From Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Omaha, Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Tampa $299

    From New York (JFK & LGA), Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Newark, Philadelphia, Oakland, Raleigh/Durham, San Francisco, San Jose CA, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. $353

    Calling the reservations number for your travel arrangements incurs a fee of $5 per ticket, while making travel arrangements through American Airlines Travel Center or the airport ticket office costs additional $10 per ticket.

    American Airlines/American Eagle or 800/433-7300.


    Sunshine on Sale at Hyatt

    This spring, look for Sunshine on Sale at the Hyatt Resorts Caribbean in Dorado, Puerto Rico, Aruba and Key West, Florida.

    Starting Mar. 28, Hyatt’s Sunshine on Sale offers guests a fr.ee fourth or fifth night. For example, book a six-day vacation at Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort and the fifth night is fr.ee. The Sunshine on Sale offer is cumulative, meaning if you books 10 nights, two fr.ee nights apply. Room rates begin at $265 per night.

    At the Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort & Country Club in Puerto Rico, the fifth night is fr.ee from Mar. 28 to May 31. The offer is valid on all room types except Casita Dorada. Room rates begin from $285 per night. The resort recently completed renovations on all of its guest rooms.

    At the Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman Beach Suites you receive a fifth night f.ree through May 31. The offer is valid on one bedroom oceanview suites, which begin at $575 per night.

    At the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino, the fifth night is fr.ee from Mar. 28 to May 31 and valid for gardenview, ocean/islandview and ocean/poolview rooms. Rates begin from $265 per night.

    At the Hyatt Key West Resort & Marina, the fifth night is fr.ee Mar. 28 to Apr. 15. Rates start from $360 per night. From Apr. 16 to May 31, book four nights and the fourth night is fr.ee. Rates start from $280 per night. Both Sunshine on Sale offers are valid on cityview, courtyard, partial Gulfview and king salon rooms.

    Sunshine on Sale requires advance reservations and is subject to availability. Blackout dates may apply. Packages do not apply to groups of 10 or more rooms. Sunshine on Sale is combinable with package options and is not combinable with any other promotions.

    Hyatt Hotels or 800/233-1234.


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    We still have 16-inch long, sterling silver tinsel-style chains. We must liquidate the 1.3mm wide chains that retail around $49. Now you can buy these chains below wholesale: $9.99 per chain -- when you purchase 2 or more chains, plus shipping and handling. Click here to order..


    Sanibel New Looks, Special Rates

    Sanibel's Signature Collection properties -- Sundial Beach & Golf Resort, Sanibel Inn, Song of the Sea and Sanibel's Seaside Inn -- re-open with new looks and special "Welcome Back" rates following extensive renovations.

    Welcome Back rates are valid Mar. 8 through Apr. 30 and start from $315 per night at the Sanibel Inn, $329 per night at the Song of the Sea and $299 per night at the Seaside Inn.

    Partially re-opened, Sundial Beach & Golf Resort offers a 25 percent savings on condominium accommodations while the main resort building undergoes renovations. The complete re-opening of the resort is slated for May 1, 2005.

    Sanibel Island offers 14 miles of shell-laden beaches, tranquil Gulf tides and 23 miles of hiking and biking trails. Sanibel Island is 19 miles from the new Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.

    Sanibel's Signature Collection or 888/4-SANIBEL.


    Homeland Security Biometric Exit Pilot

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security established check out procedures for foreign visitors departing from Newark Liberty International Airport. Before departing on their flight, visitors are asked to provide their two index finger scans and be photographed as a part of a pilot program to test and evaluate an automatic biometric exit process.

    US-VISIT procedures apply to all visitors (with limited exemptions) entering the United States, regardless of country of origin or whether they are traveling on a visa. Most visitors experience US-VISIT's biometric procedures -- a digital, inkless fingerscan and digital photograph -- upon entry to the United States. Now, if they leave from an airport or seaport that has an exit capability such as Newark, they must also check out.

    The exit procedures at Newark require foreign visitors to go though one of the following three processes. Visitors departing the U.S. will check out of the country at exit stations located within the airport. As with the process the visitors encounter upon entry at airports, their travel documents are read, their two index fingers will be scanned, their digital picture will be taken, and they will receive a printed receipt that verifies that they have checked out.

    The second alternative still uses the exit station but includes an additional step, verifying at the departure gate. Visitors will present the receipt at their departure gate to confirm that they checked out at the exit station. The workstation attendant will scan the receipt and then ask the visitor to place an index finger on the scanning device. Once the person's identity is matched to the receipt, the visitor will receive his or her receipt back and board the airplane.

    Another alternative is a biometric check-out process with a hand-held device used by a US-VISIT workstation attendant at the departure gate. In this process, visitors' travel documents are read, their two index fingers are scanned, digital pictures taken, and visitors receive a printed receipt that verifies that they checked out.

    To help the process run smoothly, foreign visitors will receive a printed card explaining the exit process from a Customs and Border Protection Officer when they arrive in the U.S. at one of the airports participating in the pilot. Also, directional signs are strategically located throughout the airport directing the visitors to the exit stations.

    The exit pilot program has been operating in Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, and the Miami International Cruise Line Terminal.

    US-VISIT entry procedures are currently in place at 115 airports, 15 seaports and in the secondary inspection areas of the 50 busiest land ports of entry. By Dec. 31, 2005, US VISIT entry procedures will be implemented in the secondary inspection areas of all remaining land ports of entry.

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


    Snooze Before You Cruise

    Vancouver International Airport is the first airport in the world to offer specially designed sleeping pods, allowing travelers to catch a few minutes shut-eye before their flight departs.

    Located in the international departures lounge, the pods consist of an ergonomic recliner capped with a sound-proof cocoon providing privacy. Nappers can drift off while listening to tranquil, relaxation-inducing music. A gentle vibration wakes the napper, who is then provided with a mint and fresh towelette.

    A 20-minute power nap in a pod costs $15 CAD (about $12 US)

    Vancouver International Airport or 604/207-7077.

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    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
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    Midwest Airlines Has Tails Wagging

    Midwest Airlines rewards pets that travel with their owners. The Midwest Airlines Premier Pet Program, the first of its kind in the United States, awards pets one fr’ee roundtrip flight after flying with their owners on three paid roundtrip flights or six paid one-way flights. Pet owners have 36 months to accumulate the three paid roundtrips or six paid one-way trips needed to earn a fr’ee roundtrip for their pet, a $150 value.

    Any person or pet living at the same address can combine their trips. Pets are accepted only on Midwest Airlines Boeing 717 and MD-80 aircraft, and Midwest Connect Beech 1900 airplanes. The Premier Pet Program applies only to owners and pets that travel together on the same flight; it does not apply to pets shipped as cargo or service animals.

    Additionally, "human" members of the airline's frequent flyer program, Midwest Miles, may earn a fr’ee trip for their pets by redeeming 15,000 miles.

    Midwest Airlines.


    Early Booking Savings From Auto Europe

    Auto Europe, a leader in European car rental services, offers savings on early bookings for reservations made through Mar. 31, 2005 for travel through Dec. 31, 2005.

    The offers include a guaranteed fr’ee one-car class upgrade, from compact to intermediate, in select European countries. In Germany, reserve an economy class, Opel Corsa, normally $237 per week and receive a guaranteed fr’ee upgrade to a compact class, manual transmission Opel Astra, normally $279 per week. Upgrades are also available in Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

    In addition, travelers will receive up to 20 percent off any Mercedes Benz or sports car rental in Europe and up to 15 percent off any European car rental service at any of the 4,000 locations they service. Savings have never been greater for Ireland with car rentals beginning at $13.99 per day.

    Rates are subject to change without notice. All discount offers apply to time and mileage only. Offers cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount and are subject to change without notice.

    Autoeurope or 888/223-5555.


    Divi Tiara Beach Resort Family Packages

    Divi Tiara Beach Resort in Cayman Brac makes family vacationing affordable this summer with their Family Week Packages. In celebration of Cayman Brac Family Week, July 10 to 17, 2005, Divi Tiara Beach Resort offers special packages starting at $399. From Apr. 1 to Dec. 21, 2005, including Family Week, kids 12 and under stay and eat fr.ee. The kid stay and eat fr.ee special is valid for up to two children ages 12 and under staying at least seven nights in the same room with their parents and eating with at least one paying adult.

    Seven-night Family Week packages, including accommodations, breakfast daily, round-trip airport transfers and all taxes and service charges, start at $399 per adult, based on double occupancy. If family members scuba dive, Divi Tiara offers Family Week dive packages priced from $679 per adult and $309 per child. These packages include all of the above mentioned features plus daily two-tank dives. Per child pricing for dive package based on children ages 10 to 15.

    Cayman Brac Family Week passes, which include activities such as family snorkeling and cruises around the Brac, are $120 per adult and $99 per child. They are not included in Divi Tiara packages and must be reserved in advance when booking a Family Week package and purchased upon arrival.

    Divi Tiara Beach Resort or 800/367-3484.


    Advertisement
    Kutztown Festival -- July 2 - 10, 2005
    America's Premier Folklife Festival features 200 juried craftspeople, 2,000 locally made quilts for sale or auction, antiques and collectibles, folklife demonstrations, entertainment on 6 stages, children's entertainment and scrumptious food including Pennsylvania Dutch dinners, an ox roast and farmers' market. Be sure to visit. Kutztown Festival or 888/674-6136.

    Hostel Takeover

    If you want to increase your knowledge and learn a skill, yet have a tight budget, hostels may be your answer. Hostelworld, which lists more than 9,000 hostel properties in 155 countries around the world, offers its list of the top 10 hostels where you can learn something new on your travels.

    Some hostels have dormitory-style rooms that you share with others. If you don't want to sleep with strangers, check for hostels that offer separate rooms for couples or families. Rates are quoted in US dollars.

    Learn how to Salsa dance for fr.ee at the Hostel-Inn Tango City, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Two bed mixed dorms are from $14 per person, per night. Six to eight-bed mixed dorms are from $9 pppn. The hostel is in San Telmo, Buenos Aires' historical quarter. Fr.ee salsa dancing classes are every Wednesday.

    Learn Thai cooking at Seven Suns, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Cooking classes at the "Smart Cook Thai Cooking School" cost $18 per person. A twin-bed private suite starts from $12.15 per person, while a double-bed private suite starts from $20.80 per person. During the one-day Thai cooking course, you learn how to make authentic Thai-style fried noodles, chicken in coconut milk and more local delights.

    Learn how to horseback ride at the Galopp Horse Riding Holiday Village, Siofok, Hungary for $12 per half hour. Their four to five-bed private suite, which can accommodate a family, costs from $12 pppn. A twin-bed private suite starts from $17 pppn. Siofok is one of Hungary's most popular tourist. At the Galopp Horse Riding Holiday Village horseback riding lessons are given daily. When you learn the ropes, you can ride out on daylong tours.

    Learn how to scuba dive at the Waidroka Bay Surf & Dive Resort, Coral Coast, Fiji. Dive courses start from $227per person. Double-bed private suites start from $27.90 pppn. Waidroka Bay, meaning fresh spring water, on Fiji's largest island of Viti Levu, gets its name from the spring creek which flows through the surrounding rain forest. Not far from the resort is Sunset Reef for snorkeling and diving. The hostel/dive school on the bay offers fully certified PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) courses.

    Learn to speak Spanish in Spain at the Home Youth Hostel in Valencia. Their two-week package, which includes accommodations and an intensive language course through their affiliate Hispania, cost $390. If you want to extend your stay, four-bed mixed dorms are from $19.65 pppn; three-bed or twin privates are from $21.92 pppn; and single privates are from $31.74 pppn.

    Learn to ski at the Rocky Mountain Inn and Hostel in Fraser, Colorado. The $49 per day beginner package covers a ski pass, ski gear rental and lesson at Winter Park Ski and Snowboard School. The rate is $69 to $79 for intermediate skiers. The five-bed male/female dorms start from $22 pppn. The Winter Park Ski Resort is 20 minutes away on a fr.ee shuttle bus.

    Learn to kayak and rock climb at the Killary Centre, Leenane, Connemara, Galway, Ireland. It’s $48 for a three-hour session or $88 for the full day. Double-bed private suites start from $40.80 pppn. At the center, you can also learn archery (if you're over 18), try clay pigeon shooting and other activities.

    Learn to speak Spanish in Ecuador at the Secret Garden in Quito. The 20-hour course, which includes a three-course meal, is $120 and $240 for a 40-hour course that includes two three-course meals plus a fr.ee guided tour of Ecuador’s monuments. Six-bed mixed dorms are from $6 pppn. Double-bed or twin privates from $8 pppn; double bed private suite from $10 pppn. Spanish lessons are conducted by qualified teachers who teach in classrooms and bring students into the city center, educating them about the city's history in Spanish.

    Learn to make didgeridoos, play drums and twirl fire at the Arts Factory Lodge in Byron Bay, Australia. Double-bed privates start from $37 pppn while six-bed mixed dorms start from $25 pppn. The Lodge runs workshops where for $120 you can make a didgeridoo, a long wooden flute. $10 drumming classes teach African and Caribbean flavored rhythms, Fire twirling courses are fr.ee, massage courses are by donation and yoga courses are $7.75 per class.

    Learn to surf at Surfcamp Chale Gel & Susanne, in Guarda do Embau, Brazil. Stay less than 200 meters from the beach and learn to surf for $20 per day. Rates are $17 per night for four-bed private rooms.

    HostelWorld.



    Value Vacations to Rio

    FlySouthVacations offers a five-night Rio de Janeiro special that starts from $599 from Miami and includes roundtrip airfare. The package must be purchased by May 26, 2005 with travel valid Mar. 1 through June 9, 2005. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and advance purchase.

    The Rio de Janeiro special includes roundtrip airfare, roundtrip transfers, five nights’ hotel accommodations, breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges.

    Prices from other gateways include $649 from New York or Newark, $674 from Boston or Washington-Dulles, $699 from Atlanta or Chicago, $849 from Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas or San Diego and $899 from Seattle or Portland. Airport taxes and fees are in addition to the listed price. Additional gateways are available.

    FlySouthVacations or 800/234-5245.



    Airline Water Quality Poor

    You may want to rethink ordering coffee or tea on your next flight. The U.S. government found, for the second time in recent months, that water from a sampling of commercial aircraft galleys and bathrooms was not safe for use.

    Tests last November and December by the Environmental Protection Agency on a fraction of the thousands of planes in the domestic and international commercial fleet found samples failed to meet U.S. government drinking water standards.

    The EPA said the results of the latest testing showed the scope of the problem and reinforced the agency's decision to forge agreements with airlines to more closely monitor water systems and tighten sanitary measures. The agreements, which include testing protocols, are not fully in place yet. They will govern drinking water safety until new regulations are devised.

    The EPA warned that passengers with compromised immune systems or others who are concerned about water quality to request canned or bottled beverages and refrain from coffee or tea unless made with bottled water.

    Tests last summer found that 12 percent of 158 randomly selected aircraft operated by domestic and international carriers tested positive for coliform bacteria, which by itself may not pose a health risk. But coliform bacteria in drinking water indicates that other disease-causing organisms, or pathogens, may be present. Water on two planes tested last summer contained E. coli, a potentially deadly bacteria commonly associated with food poisoning.

    Tests last autumn found that water on 17 percent of 169 randomly selected planes was positive for coliform. E. coli was not found in any samples this time. The airlines were not identified.

    The fall tests evaluated samples from galleys and bathrooms of each plane. The summer analysis was not similarly controlled. Most of the positive samples from the second test came from aircraft bathrooms, the EPA said.

    The biggest domestic airlines again questioned the government's sampling results and countered that their water is safe. An airline industry group, the Air Transport Association, pointed out the new results produced no positive results for E. coli and called the agency's testing methods outdated.

    The trade group also said that airline drinking water comes from municipal supplies and that no government agency has reported any illness from water aboard commercial planes.

    Most domestic airlines serve bottled water on their flights.


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    Click Here to Order from On The Go Publishing.


    Fr’ee Fuel for Houseboaters

    Deposit by Mar. 31, 2005 -- Warmer weather brings out recreational houseboaters and Seven Crown Resorts is warming up the season with an offer of fr’ee fuel in April, May and June.

    Houseboat vacations booked for this period come with a fr’ee tank of gas -- for the houseboat -- which holds up to 200 gallons depending on the model, representing a savings of up to $500.

    The offer is good for all houseboat reservations made with a deposit by Mar. 31, 2005. Trips must be completed by June 30, 2005. To receive the fee gas, reservations must be made through Seven Crown's toll-fr’ee number, 800/752-9669.

    Seven Crown Resorts, one of the nation's largest houseboat vacation rental companies, has a fleet of 250 vessels at popular destinations such as Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, Lake Shasta and the California Delta.

    Seven Crown Resorts or 800/752-9669.



    DooleyVacations European Savings

    DooleyVacations.com, the newest online European vacation provider, offers air-inclusive European packages from $599 to France, Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom.

    Sample jaunts are valid for travel through Mar. 31, 2005. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy and include roundtrip airfare from the U.S., accommodations for four nights (except Ireland, six nights) and a car with unlimited mileage.

    France -- Escape to Lyon at the Hotel Axotel Perrache or Nice at Apogia Hotel from $599, including breakfast daily. Paris getaways are available from $799.

    Italy -- Be merry in Bologna at the Fiera Hotel, including breakfast daily from $649. The Caprice Hotel in Rome and the Olimpia Hotel in Venice are available from $699. Milan’s King Hotel starts at $749.

    Ireland -- For $599 spend six-nights in the five-star Adare Manor, a true Irish castle in County Limerick. You can stay in Shannon or Dublin for the first night, in a four-star hotel. The four nights in between hotel and castle will be spent at your choice of more than 500 farmhouse bed & breakfasts across Ireland. For $100 more per person, you can upgrade to private-bath B&Bs and an automatic car.

    UK-- Stay at the following cities in the UK: Jury’s Inn, Chelsea, London from $599; Jury’s Inn Manchester from $599; Jury’s Inn in Bristol or Edinburgh, Scotland from $649; Jury’s Inn in Glasgow, Scotland or Britania Adelphia in Liverpool from $699.

    DooleyVacations.



    Suite Deal, The Sands at Grace Bay

    The Sands at Grace Bay, a four-star resort in the Turks & Caicos Islands, offers two "suite" deals from Apr. 12 to Dec. 17. Book a one week stay with the "suite" deal promotion get the seventh night fr’ee. The deal gets sweeter June 1 to Oct. 31, when you get the sixth and seventh night fr’ee.

    Among six landscaped acres along a 12-mile beach, the Caribbean Plantation-style resort houses 116 suites. Features include spa services, an on-site dive shop and three fr’ee-form swimming pools. Two marinas and the 18-hole Provo Golf Course are a short ride away. The Sands at Grace Bay offers studios, one, two and three-bedroom suites. The studios and the suites have a kitchenette or fully equipped kitchen, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, cable television, in-room electronic safe and internet access.

    The offer is valid on all room types. Rates start at $165 per night. Room rates include fr’ee use of the fitness center, bicycles, tennis and non-motorized watersports such as kayaks, wind surfing equipment, snorkel gear and Hobie Cats. The promotion also includes roundtrip airport transfers, welcome cocktail, weekly Manager's Rum Party, chaise lounges and towels.

    Rates do not include a 10 percent government tax and a 10 percent service charge. The "suite" deal is not available with any other offers or promotions. Fr’ee nights are not transferable nor are they redeemable for cash.

    The Sands at Grace Bay or 877/777-2637.



    Mexico Spring Break from $389

    Go-today offers vacation packages to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta from $389, in time for Spring Break. There’s a choice of a five-day all-inclusive vacation or a three-night getaway.

    The five-night all-inclusive packages include roundtrip airfare, roundtrip airport to hotel transfers in Cancun only, all meals, maid and portage fees in Cancun only, hotel taxes including VAT and service charges. From Miami, the five-night package is $719 to Cancun and $829 to Puerto Vallarta. Travel to Cancun is valid Apr. 3 to May 30, with a purchase deadline of May 24, 2005. Travel to Puerto Vallarta is valid Apr. 1 to June 1, 2005 with a purchase deadline of Mar. 24, 2005 or Aug. 16 to Dec. 8, 2005, with a purchase deadline of Aug. 24, 2005.

    The three-night getaway packages includes roundtrip airfare, hotel taxes including VAT and service charges. From Miami, the three-night package is $449 to Cancun and $619 to Puerto Vallarta. Travel to Cancun is valid May 1 to 28, 2005 with a purchase deadline of May 24, 2005. Travel to Puerto Vallarta is valid Apr. 1 to June 17, 2005 with a purchase deadline of Mar. 24, 2005 or Aug. 16 to Dec. 8, 2005 with a purchase deadline of Aug. 24, 2005.

    Prices from other gateways are also available for the all-inclusive and three-night getaways. Air taxes, fees and surcharges are not included in package prices.

    Go-todayor 800/227-3235.



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    Cheap Tix Chart
    Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theatrical productions, films, and sporting events. Discounts can be 50 percent or more. On The Go Publishing’s UPDATED 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.

    Wimco 60% Savings on Caribbean Villa

    Fustic House in St. Lucy, Barbados, has new owners and the rate on this old-world villa has been lowered from $35,000 to $21,000 a week, a 60 percent reduction on the high-season rate (Dec. 15-Apr. 15). For those who can't get there by Apr. 15, additional savings will be available until Dec. 15, with the weekly rate lowered to $12,600.

    Fustic House provides ultimate privacy for a larger group (family or friends) with five bedrooms and a single room for an au pair in a Caribbean plantation-style villa and cottages on a 10-acre site surrounded by rolling pastures and fields of sugar cane. It offers distant ocean views from manicured gardens and is a short drive to several beaches. With ample grounds and rooms, Fustic House can be used for a special event or corporate retreat.

    Services can be added to the rental price which include a butler, caretaker/house manager, chef, twice daily maid service, security guard and more.

    Wimco offers 180 villas on Barbados and 1,000 throughout the Caribbean. Most of these offer savings of 25 to 40 percent over high season from mid-April to mid-December.

    Throughout the Caribbean, Wimco prices include accommodations and daily maid service. Wimco can tailor a property to suit your needs with private chefs, yoga instructors, yacht charters or simply a restaurant reservation.

    Wimco or 800/932-3222.


    Southwest Fares From Pittsburgh

    Southwest Airlines unveiled its fares to and from Pittsburgh. The airlines will begin its Pittsburgh service May 4, 2005, with flights to Chicago Midway, Las Vegas, Orlando and Philadelphia. They will offer direct or connecting service to 37 other destinations including codeshares with ATA to Denver and San Francisco.

    Southwest offers its biggest discounts with its advance purchase tickets. From Pittsburgh to Philadelphia or Chicago Midway is $29 one-way (only available for purchase through May 26, 2005) with Southwest's 14-day advance purchase fare. The advance purchase airfare to Orlando is $79 one-way.

    Unrestricted, everyday walk-up fares from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and Chicago Midway start at a $79 one-way. Southwest's fares top out at $299 one-way for cross-country flights to Phoenix, Las Vegas, and destinations on the West Coast. No advance purchase or overnight stay is required on unrestricted fares.

    Southwest Airlines or 800/435-9792.


    The Quiet Side of the Tetons -- Article and photos by Kay Douglas

    View from Grand Targhee Resort, IdahoPicture this: The majestic Teton Mountains forming a backdrop to a pristine valley. A river brimming with rainbow trout winding its way through wildflower-bedecked meadows. Lush grasslands and pine forests echoing with the bugling call of elks. To the north, Yellowstone National Park, with its geothermal wonders and cascading waterfalls. To the south, several vast National Forests.

    Sounds like Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, doesn't it? But the description also fits the western flank of the Teton Range on "the quiet side of the Tetons" in Eastern Idaho, an area boasting much of the same breathtaking beauty with one key difference: the crowds are all on the other side of the mountains.

    After landing at Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming, we're engulfed in a scrum of adventure-seeking travelers waiting impatiently for baggage in the cramped terminal. Later, driving through Jackson, we cut short a planned visit to the town as milling throngs of visitors and commercial bustle are not what we'd come out West to see. Unfortunately, this once laid-back town has become something of a tourist mecca, especially during high season. Had we known better, we could have flown into Idaho Falls for $50-$200 less (depending on day of week and season), bypassing much of the tourist frenzy.

    We waste no time driving to the barebones one-room cabin we've rented near Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park ($109 per day plus taxes). We'd been lucky to snag a cabin in August, even with several months advance booking, since budget accommodations are as rare as hen's teeth in this area. The three days we spend based at Grand Teton are enjoyable, but prominent memories include elbowing our way with scores of other hikers along a trail to Inspiration Point, creeping through Yellowstone in a long procession of cars, and joining a throng of fellow tourists gawking at a lone moose in a meadow.

    Cabin in Driggs, IdahoIn marked contrast, once we drive over the Teton Pass into Idaho, it seems we've got the entire glorious Teton Valley to ourselves. Just 45 minutes' drive from bustling downtown Jackson, the quiet, unpretentious community of Driggs serves as our Eastern Idaho base. Here we've rented a luxurious three-bedroom "Teton Flyer's " cabin through Grand Valley Lodging for $180 per night. It seems like a splurge after our Spartan accommodations at Colter Bay - but isn't, considering what we get for our money. The cabin sleeps eight and includes a spacious living/dining room area with big, overstuffed couches, a long polished wood dining table, cable TV, DVD player, stereo, a fully equipped modern kitchen, a washer and dryer, two well-appointed bathrooms, and sweeping views of the mountains from the high-ceilinged living room. A cabin of this quality would no doubt cost much more on the "other side" of the Tetons. Along with virtually no crowds, expect significantly lower prices on the western side of the Tetons. In fact, many service workers employed in Jackson, priced out of the local real estate market, commute from Eastern Idaho towns such as Victor, Tetonia, and Driggs.

    Driggs' claim to fame is as an outdoors adventure center, and it lives up to its reputation. Outfitters in Driggs can set you up for a wide range of adventures, be it horse packing along the historic mountain trails of the Jedediah Smith Wilderness Area or fly fishing in the renowned trout streams of Eastern Idaho. Hikers have a wide choice of trails throughout the valley as well as in three National Forests and the two nearby national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Mountain biking, hot-air ballooning, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, show-shoe trekking, and driving along scenic byways are other popular ways of touring this idyllic area.

    Hiking at Grand Targhee ResortWe begin our five-day exploration of Eastern Idaho at nearby Grand Targhee Ski and Summer Resort. While famed for its winter downhill skiing, the resort offers multi-seasonal diversions, with extensive hiking trails, horseback riding, tennis, swimming, spa treatments, and adventure activities such as a ropes course and climbing wall. We take the Dreamcatcher chairlift ($8 for adults, $5 for kids 5-14, under 5 fr.ee), ascending 2,000 vertical feet to the summit of Fred's Mountain at 10,000 feet. This high vantage affords a panoramic view of four famous Teton peaks clustered together, but we practically have the view to ourselves. A small group of fit Elderhostel trekkers are the only people we meet hiking along the mountaintop ridge. We make our way back down to the resort, gingerly descending a track of treacherously loose rock debris on the slope, which takes its toll as my husband and son both take tumbles onto the sliding gravel.

    On another outing at Grand Targhee, we opt to stroll the cross-country ski paths through gently rolling mountain meadows blooming with countless wildflowers. This less challenging alpine hike provides lovely views out over the peaceful Teton Valley below.

    Harriman State Park, IdahoEastern Idaho has a number of state parks that are low in profile but high in WOW factor, such as Harriman State Park, about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Driggs. There's a modest $4 daily use fee for motorized vehicles entering Idaho State Parks, regardless of the number of visitors per vehicle. Harriman State Park is located in Island Park, an impressive 23-mile diameter crater formed when a volcano collapsed in ancient times. Harriman State Park, 4,330 acres of high-country meadows and unsullied forests, sits in the center of Island Park, which has been designated a wildlife refuge. It's a haven for trumpeter swans and sandhill cranes, as well as home to deer, elk, moose, and many other wild creatures. Once a private game reserve and working cattle ranch owned by the wealthy Harriman and Guggenheim families, the Harriman Ranch was later deeded over to the State of Idaho. Today the legacy of careful stewardship in private hands makes it one of the best places to view wildlife.

    View of Silver Lake on Trial Ride, Harriman S.P.Silver Lake Trail, part of the extensive trail system at Harriman State Park, skirts a placid lake frequented by ospreys and eagles. There's a good chance you'll spot a moose, as we did, feeding in stands of tall pines near the shore or hear the bugling of bull moose at sunset. We walk past the historic ranch buildings and along a section of Henry's Fork River, famed among anglers for its superb fly fishing. Sure enough, as we cross a wooden plank bridge over a narrow section of the stream, we spot an immense trout lurking in the shadows below.

    We're so impressed by Harriman State Park that we make reservations the following afternoon with Harriman Ranch Trail Rides, a friendly outfit run by Tom Angell and family. For the two-hour trail ride, which cost a very reasonable $26.50, each person is matched with a suitable horse. A seasoned rider, I'm given a horse that needs "a little handling," but in truth all the soft-mouthed gelding needs is a light touch with the reins. My husband, son, and niece, all novice riders, are given gentle mounts with tolerant dispositions and none of the usual rental stable vices.

    Tom's knowledge of the local history and fauna is impressive; he's descended from original homesteaders to the area and knows every inch of the terrain. He leads our group of mostly greenhorn riders along wooded trails and through high meadows, all the while regaling us with 'old timer' tales of the heyday of the ranch, back when presidents, movie stars, and other famous folk were frequent guests. We spot more moose, as well as elk, on this two-hour ride, which is tailored to the wishes of the group, finishing with a 'walking race' across an expansive meadow. The goal is to walk fast yet not break into a disqualifying trot. I'm well out front, matched stride for stride with a teenager on a lanky Palomino, when his horse picks up a trot near the finish line and I win.

    Moments later, still chuffed with my victory, I find myself dangling helplessly from the side of my horse, having accidentally caught the strap of my fanny pack on the saddle horn while dismounting. Tom laughs as he comes to my rescue - some 'experienced' rider! Just plain forgot about that pesky saddle horn, I tell him; that never happens to me back East. Tom's amused look takes this "English" rider down a peg.

    Another thing that never happens to me back East is being able to motor blissfully along for mile after mile with virtually no traffic. Driving the scenic byways in Eastern Idaho proves to be one of the highlights of the trip. Teton Scenic Byway begins in lovely Swan Valley and heads east on Idaho Rt. 31 through the town of Victor before turning north on Idaho Rt. 33 running along the western flank of the Teton Range. The mountain views contrast with the rolling farmland, with banks of scudding storm clouds heightening the effect as they cast shadows on the fields of ripening wheat and send flashes of lightening over the dark pines of the Targhee National Forest.

    The Snake RiverAt Ashton, we take Mesa Falls Scenic Byway to Upper and Lower Mesa Falls, the last two undisturbed falls of consequence in Idaho. At Upper Falls, the Snake River becomes a raging torrent as it plunges 110 feet, sending plumes of mist high into the air. The Upper Falls are easily viewed from paths and platforms not far from the road, while the Lower Falls, which drop an almost equally impressive 85 feet, can be seen from the Grandview Campground and Overlook.

    Cave Falls, WEST side of YellowstoneWe take advantage of the fact that we're not far from Yellowstone's "back door," traveling approximately 12 miles along Cave Falls Road from Ashton, where we reach the park's western boundary. This part of Yellowstone contains an astonishing number of waterfalls, not to mention plentiful trails and campsites, yet it's so sparsely visited that we find a 'honor system' in effect for collection of the park entrance fee when we pull into the parking area near Cave Falls, the starting point for our short hike to Bechler Falls.

    Each evening, after a day of exploring, we return to our lovely cabin in Driggs for a quiet supper. We don't particularly miss the fancy restaurants or nightlife found over in Jackson, but one evening we do take in the local Driggs scene at the Spud Drive-In, where we watch a memorably cheesy movie under the stars. An immense concrete Idaho potato perched on the bed of a flatbed truck is the Spud's trademark, along with its summer independent film festival and its Gladysburgers, delicious hamburgers prepared just as Gladys Davis, the original owner of the Spud, used to make them.

    On the last full day of our trip, we're torn between renting bikes to pedal through Teton Valley or whitewater rafting on the Snake River, but the kids lobby enthusiastically for getting wet and the river wins. The best whitewater action is south of Jackson, so we book a trip with Jackson Hole Whitewater. After driving back over the Teton Pass into Wyoming, it's somewhat perplexing to be back among the crowd assembld at the rafting company's headquarters, where we're herded into large vans that shuttle us to the putting-in point on the river. All sense of being cramped disappears, however, once we're out on the Snake, racing through churning rapids bearing names such as "The Big Kahuna," "Lunch Counter," and "Rope." It's an adrenaline-packed adventure.

    At the end of the trip we all agree that it was a wise move to spend the bulk of our time in Eastern Idaho, which shares the same spectacular scenery as neighboring Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks but attracts only a fraction of the number of visitors. With these parks and several pristine national forests on its very doorstep, the Teton Valley makes an ideal base for travelers who want to experience all the adventure but few of the hassles this region has to offer.

    For more information contact the Teton Valley Chamber of Commerce or 800/932-3222.


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