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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, April 2009 Issue



Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
http://www.geocities.com/tips2travel
travelnewsletter@aim.com
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2009 
All Rights Reserved.


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In This Issue:
No Name Pub, Big Pine Key, FL

No Name Pub

  • Mercedes Hotel Program for Vehicle Owners
  • New Rates, Packages at Longaberger Golf Club
  • Pet Sitter Selection Checklist
  • Kodak Sweepstakes
  • JetBlue Promise: Lose Your Job, Fare Refunded
  • Seabourn Savings to 65%
  • Air Canada "Grand Tour" with Europe Pass
  • Wyndham Weekender Offer
  • Fr.ee Activities in Sonoma Wine Country
  • Vacation Stimulus Package at Antigua Resorts
  • Top 10 Money Saving Travel Tips
  • Amarillo Visit May Net Cold Cash
  • Elegant Hotels Barbados Savings
  • Myrtle Beach Savings
  • Boyne Golf Gr8 Package for 2009
  • Pink Slip Getaway
  • Best of Barbados 2009 Packages
  • Fly Fr-ee to Europe with Select MSC Cruises
  • Kids and the Keys - Part II
  • Epic Season Pass at 2008 Price


    • Mercedes Hotel Program for Vehicle Owners

      Mercedes-Benz USA introduces a destinations program that provides Mercedes-Benz owners staying at specific properties with benefits that include fre.e use of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, welcome gifts and room upgrades. Vehicles and room upgrades are subject to availability.

      Through the Mercedes-Benz Owner's web site, you can view the participating resorts and benefits available. The properties include Calistoga Ranch, CA; Encantado, NM; The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, SC; The Montage Beverly Hills, CA; Rancho Valencia, CA; Stowe Mountain Lodge, VT; The St. Regis Aspen, CO; and Winvian, CT.

      The Destinations program is available to Mercedes-Benz owners and includes room upgrades and on-site hospitality credits for restaurants and spas. Mercedes-Benz test drive vehicles are available for f.ree use and as courtesy shuttles. Each Mercedes-Benz is equipped with an in-dash Global Positioning System (GPS).

      Mercedes-Benz Owner's website.



      New Rates, Packages at Longaberger Golf Club

      The Longaberger Golf Club, in Nashport, OH, delivers value to golfers in Central Ohio. The club offers value daily rates and stay-and-play packages for the 2009 season.

      Recognized as Ohio's No. 1 course in Golfweek Magazine's 2008 rankings, Longaberger Golf Club offers rates under $100 per 18 holes, with greater savings available depending on the season, time of day or stay-and-play package.

      Daily golf rates in 2009 include cart and full use of the 25-acre natural grass driving range, practice facility with target greens and a green for chipping, pitching and bunker play.

      • Rates Apr. 17 through May 10 - 18 holes $79, unlimited $99
      • May 11 through Oct. 4 - 18 holes $99, unlimited (w/lunch) $149, twilight (after 4 p.m.) $69

      Longaberger Golf Club offers stay-and-play packages that include multiple rounds at the club or opportunities to be paired with other courses in the greater Columbus area.

      The stay-and-play package includes two rounds of golf at Longaberger Golf Club and one night at The Place Off the Square in downtown Newark. Rates range from $125 to $225.

      The 9 Stars of Golf package includes one round at Longaberger Golf Club, one round at nearby EagleSticks and a night at the Comfort Inn in Zanesville. Rates range from $152.50 to $182.50.

      The Woven Trail package includes one round at Longaberger Golf Club, one round at Cumberland Trail and a night at The Place Off the Square in downtown Newark. Rates range from $143 to $188.

      Longaberger Golf Club or 740/763-1100.


      Advertisement
      Fr-ee Fun San Diego
      This savings-packed FR.EE brochure features almost 40 Fun, Fr-ee Things to do in San Diego. When heading to Southern California, attend concerts or visit a State Historic Park and keep that cash in your pocket.

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



      Pet Sitter Selection Checklist

      With the summer travel season fast approaching, vacation-bound pet owners may opt for a pet sitter rather than a kennel boarding facility when making plans for their four-legged family members. Benefits of at-home pet care include less emotional distress plus no exposure to kennel cough, Parvo disease and canine influenza virus.

      If you are avoiding kennel boarding and daycare facilities in favor of professional home-based pet care, be aware that all pet sitters are not created equal, states Paul Mann, founder and CEO of FETCH! Pet Care - a nationwide professional pet sitting and dog walking service.

      If you plan to hire a home-based pet sitter, here’s a Top 10 checklist for selecting a professional pet sitting service:

      • Locate a pet sitter in your area using a reputable source, such as at www.FetchPetCare.com
      • Check all of the company's references – at least three should be voluntarily provided
      • Ensure the company is fully bonded and insured
      • Confirm that your sitter has undergone a criminal background check and has received proper training
      • Pre-interview a sitter with your pet(s) present to observe interactions and establish a "comfort level" for both you and the pet(s)
      • Clearly state how you would like the sitter to use his/her visit time in terms of walking, playing, feeding, cleaning, etc.
      • Verify that the sitter can accommodate your pet's daily feeding and walking schedule and your desired vacation schedule, even during the busiest holidays
      • Ensure the company offers seven-day per week telephone and email availability
      • Provide medical and behavioral history about your pet(s) and veterinary and other emergency contact information. Gather all necessary supplies, including food, vitamins, and treats in one central location
      • Ensure the company has "backup" measures in place should your sitter have an emergency that prevents them from completing your assignment

      If a pet owner takes a few steps before entrusting Fido or Felix to another, they can enjoy peace of mind that their pet - and their home - will be well cared for. “A touch of due diligence is key to ensure owners find a highly trained, reliable and well-screened animal caretaker to best meet each pet's unique needs, and its owner's expectations,” Mann said.

      FETCH! Pet Care



      Kodak Sweepstakes

      Eastman Kodak offers a sweepstakes that will award 10 nature photography experiences to people who buy Kodak Professional Ektar 100 film. Each winner can bring up to three guests to enjoy a package that includes a four-night stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. In addition, each winner will get behind the scenes access to Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park and the Nature Conservancy's Disney Wilderness Preserve, and workshops with award-winning professional nature photographer Eddie Soloway.

      Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is an African Lodge-style resort set in a 33-acre wildlife preserve, where more than 30 species of wildlife roam amid three tropical savannas. In addition to their stay, behind the scenes access to African wildlife and photography workshops, winners will take part in an early-morning safari with Disney wildlife photographers, receive workshop guidance from Eddie Soloway and meet well-known Florida nature photographer Clyde Butcher. The package also includes roundtrip domestic airfare for four, airport transfers, a $200 gift card and a supply of Kodak film.

      Anyone who purchases three rolls of 35mm or a five-pack of 120 format Kodak Professional Ektar 100 color film through July 31, 2009 and mails in a proof of purchase will receive a $5 rebate and automatically be entered for a chance to win.

      Kodak Professional Ektar 100 film is the choice for applications such as nature, travel, fashion and product photography, where the emphasis is often on color.

      Kodak Sweepstakes information, terms and conditions.



      JetBlue Promise: Lose Your Job, Fare Refunded

      New York-based airline JetBlue offers the JetBlue Promise Program, boosting your confidence to book travel by honoring a full refund to anyone who experiences involuntary full-time job loss prior to their trip .

      If you book your flight by June 1, 2009 and lose your job before your flight, you may be eligible for the program. Customers must notify JetBlue and request a full refund at least 14 days prior to the first date of travel. The customer, who purchased the flight and is listed as a traveler on the itinerary, can request a refund for up to nine people traveling on one reservation. JetBlue's fares are usually non-refundable, but the JetBlue Promise Program provides a special option for possible refund in the original form of payment.

      The JetBlue Promise Program is valid for bookings originating in the United States and excludes group bookings, Getaways vacation packages and cruises. Purchases made with JetBlue Gift Cards or vouchers, TrueBlue Award Travel or travel certificates are not eligible.

      More information about the restrictions that apply and how the program works, including the required Eligibility Letter and further instructions, are online.

      JetBlue Promise Program or 800/538-2583.



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      Seabourn Savings to 65%

      The Yachts of Seabourn are reducing the fares on European cruises in 2009 by 50 to 65 percent off the published brochure fares. The new fares start from $2,999 per person for a seven-day Mediterranean voyage, based on double occupancy.

      On the line's brand-new 450-guest Seabourn Odyssey, which will be the first new ultra luxury vessel in more than six years when it debuts June 24, fares start from $3,299 per person, double.

      The adjusted fares apply to 49 voyages of seven to 16 days, departing between June 13 and Oct. 24, 2009. The savings vary by suite category, departure date and length of voyage.

      Yachts of Seabourn or 800/929-9391.



      Air Canada "Grand Tour" with Europe Pass

      Air Canada revives its Grand Tour of Europe tradition with the “Europe Pass,” the newest member of its growing family of flight passes.

      Air Canada makes it easier to make multiple trips from Canada to Europe through the year with the “Europe Pass.” When you buy the “Europe Pass” you have a choice of up to nine major European cities, depending on the season, to European destinations Air Canada flies to from Canada.

      The “Europe Pass” is valid for one year from the time of purchase. It is available with six flight credits (three roundtrips) for a single traveler or eight flight credits for up to two travelers (four roundtrips for one or two roundtrips for two) and comes in three types, Executive First and two Economy Class versions.

      The “Europe Pass” is available for purchase in Canada and the United States for flights from four zones covering Eastern and Western Canada and the Eastern and Western U.S. Prices begin at $2,994 for travel from Canada or $2,394 for travel from the United States, including applicable taxes for six flight credits for an individual traveler. The “Europe Pass” is valid for travel between Canada and Europe or between most of Air Canada's U.S. destinations and Europe, but not flights within Europe.

      Until Apr. 17, 2009, those purchasing the “Europe Pass” can get a bonus pass offer of two or four flight credits anywhere in their originating North American zone from $378 plus applicable taxes (US$425, taxes included for travel from the United States).

      Air Canada.



      Wyndham Weekender Offer

      The Wyndham Garden Hotel Manhattan Chelsea invites you to double your fun at half the price with their Weekender offer. Book a room at the published price and you have the choice of 50 percent off a second consecutive night or half off an additional room on the same night. Valid for Friday through Sunday night stays through Apr. 26, 2009, this promotion allows you to extend your time in New York, or share the getaway with family or friends.

      Room rates start at $189 per night, are based on availability and do not include tax or service. When booking, ask for Weekender package.

      Located in West Chelsea near attractions such as the Empire State Building, Union Square, and Madison Square Garden, the Wyndham Garden Hotel Manhattan Chelsea is situated for sightseeing in New York City. The recently opened 124 smoke-fr.ee room hotel offers fr.ee wireless and wired high-speed Internet access, 32” LCD televisions, alarm clocks with MP3 and iPod capability, ergonomic desk chairs and a 24-hour fitness center. The hotel also offers Cafe E.R.L, which serves quick bites for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with Starbucks beverages and beer and wine in the evenings.

      Wyndham Garden Hotel Manhattan Chelsea or 212/243-0800.


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      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.



      Fr.ee Activities in Sonoma Wine Country

      In tough economic times, a vacation in Sonoma's wine country that centers on fr.ee, or almost fr.ee, activities is just the prescription. Sonoma County is known as a great value in addition to great wine and fresh food.

      Here are a dozen f.ree things to do.

      1. Within the county are 13 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs, or appellations), regions with unique soils and climates that allow certain grape varieties to grow particularly well. Visit the AVAs as many wineries in the county offer fre.e wine tastings. Those that charge a minimal tasting fee (usally $5) apply it to the purchase of a bottle. Search all wineries here.


      2. Visit Sonoma County's agricultural heritage. Get a Farm Trails map and visit a farm, nursery or ranch. Seasonal adventures include summertime berry picking, apple farms, pumpkins and gourds in the fall. If you can't visit a farm go to a farmers market. Most are seasonal, but some are year round, including the one at the Santa Rosa Veteran's Building.


      3. Enjoy the scenery at Western Hills Nursery in Occidental. It’s a botanical gem with unusual or hard-to-procure varieties of herbaceous plants, vines, shrubs and trees, many of which are seen nowhere else in cultivation. This array is arranged in a way to delight the senses. Water and man-made features complement the cultivated environment.


      4. See a live seal show in Jenner. Throw your kayak or canoe into the Russian River at Duncans Mills and paddle to the mouth of the river to get close to the seals and sea lions that sun themselves on the beach. Don't get too close, they are wild animals and should be treated as such.


      5. Bodega Head is the rocky headland that forms the entrance into Bodega Harbor. The harbor side provides a popular crabbing area along the jetty, and hiking trails on the ocean side allow access to sandy coves and scenic blufftop views. The high cliffs offer excellent vantage points for observing migrating gray whales. Goat Rock, near the mouth of the Russian River, is known for its scenic shoreline and easily accessible sandy beach. Picnic tables and restroom facilities are available. Goat Rock beach is home to a colony of harbor seals. Due to the protected status of the seals, no dogs are allowed on Goat Rock Beach.


      6. Check out LandPaths for off-the-beaten-path hikes on preservation land.


      7. Stroll through the grounds at Paradise Ridge Winery and the Marijke's Grove Sculpture Garden, a wooded grove nestled among ancient oaks and on a ridge overlooking the Russian River Valley.


      8. Christopher Queen Galleries, in Duncans Mills, specializes in early California paintings and contemporary art. The downstairs salon features contemporary representational art depicting landscapes, figural, still life and genre. Open daily except Tuesdays, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.


      9. Sonoma County Art Trails Open Studios allows you to visit artists in their studio. See how established and emerging artists work, and talk to them about their inspiration and motives. This annual event takes place over two weekends in October.


      10. Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, an 805-acre park, features a magnificent grove of ancient redwoods, a large outdoor amphitheater, self-guided nature trails and picnic facilities.


      11. The Robert Ferguson Observatory, in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, offers public viewing for f.ree or $3 a person. Take the PlanetWalk, a scale model of the solar system that fits in the boundaries of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.


      12. At the end of Dry Creek, Lake Sonoma is one of the prime recreational areas in Northern California. Warm Springs Dam forms 2,700-acre Lake Sonoma with water for canoes, sailboats, motorboats, fishing and skiing. Some 40 miles of trails are available to horseback riders and hikers.

      Sonoma Country, located 30 miles from San Francisco, features more than 250 wineries, 100 organic farms and 50 miles of Pacific coast.

      Sonoma Country or 800/576-6662.



      Vacation Stimulus Package at Antigua Resorts

      Elite Island Resorts offers a "Vacation Stimulus” package to Antigua this spring and fall with savings up to 60 percent. Through June 30, 2009 and Sep. 1 through Oct. 31, 2009, you can vacation with an all-inclusive nightly rate, based on double occupancy, starting at $229 for a Hillside suite at the Verandah Resort & Spa; and $259 for a club suite at St. James's Club & Villas.

      Elite Island Resorts' nightly all-inclusive rates include all meals, top-shelf liquor, non-motorized water sports, entertainment, tax and service charges. Both resorts cater to couples, families and singles. Children may stay at $60 per night, with a maximum of two children sharing a room with their parents. Additional adults sharing a room are $75 per night.

      The Verandah Resort & Spa, an eco-friendly resort adjacent to a national park, is situated on 30 waterfront acres along the northeast coast of Antigua. Villa-style suites feature verandahs with ocean views, flat-screen TVs, king-size beds, Internet access, and soaking bathtubs. The resort features two white sand beaches, kayaking and hiking.

      St. James's Club & Villas, on a 100-acre peninsula on the southeastern coast of Antigua, is rimmed by two white sand beaches. There are four swimming pools and a marina. Accommodations offer water views and privacy amid the palm trees and greenery.

      Elite Island Resorts or 800/345-0356.


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      Click Here to Order from On The Go Publishing.


      Top 10 Money Saving Travel Tips

      The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), which includes long-standing member Nicki Chodnoff, recently polled its members to discover the top 10 tips on how to save money traveling. Members are some of the top professional travel journalists and photographers in the world.

      “There’s never been a better time to travel,” states SATW president Bea Broda. “With the economy the way it is, there are deals everywhere – and the Internet has made them easy to discover,” Broda says.

      Here, from people who travel for a living, are 10 practical ways to save money on vacation travel, with selected comments from SATW members:

      1. Travel in the off-season or on the edges of popular seasons. - “Traveling in the off-season saves big bucks on hotels and transportation, but there are other pluses too, such as fewer crowds and hence shorter lines at museums, churches, restaurants and so on.” Susan Farlow, fr.eelance travel writer


      2. Use local bus/metro transportation for city stays. Ask about multi-day specials and special one-day tourist cards. Some international rail and travel cards must be purchased before you arrive in that country. Look at transportation web sites for the cities and countries you will visit. For instance, the Visitor Oyster Card, good on all public transport in London, must be purchased before you arrive in London.


      3. Using public transportation is not only less expensive than car rentals or cabs, but can also be ‘green,’ helping a community keep open streets and clean air,” Martin Hintz, fr.eelance travel writer

      4. Picnic instead of eating every meal in restaurants. Visit markets, bakeries, local shops and delis…but avoid uncooked street food and wash fruit with bottled water.


      5. “Shopping at local markets is not only a less expensive way to eat, it can be healthier (who needs all those sauces?). You get a local’s view of the area and you can try lots of interesting foods and then eat them in parks and gardens.” Christine Loomis, fr,eelance travel writer/editor

      6. Eat your big meal at lunch when prices are cheaper and go light on dinner.


      7. Use public transportation between airports and cities. Don’t rent cars in a city and pay for parking. If traveling to the countryside afterwards, pick up your car at the end of your city stay.


      8. Make your first stop the local visitors center and collect coupons, brochures, fr,ee maps, etc. Ask the staff about insider tips – fr,ee days at museums, matinees, fre,e parking, and money saving programs. Visit the web sites of convention bureaus and state tourism offices before your visit. They often offer special rates, coupons and discount information.


      9. Stay in accommodations that offer f,ree breakfast and that have a refrigerator so you can store snacks.


      10. Go to less well-known destinations. Getting off the beaten track is cheaper and more fun.


      11. Do a home swap or rent a vacation home rental rather than a hotel. “Renting a real home in a small town, or better, village, gives you a chance to feel that you live in the place – you meet more people, find out more about how they live and more about their culture,” Catherine Watson, fr,eelance writer


      12. In cities, stay at business hotels on the weekends where there are often better room rates and restaurant deals. Shop for hotels near, not on, the biggest street. When booking your room, ask, “Is this the best rate available? Do you have any specials at the moment?” Also ask if they offer discounts for AAA, AARP or other membership programs.

      The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).


      Amarillo Visit May Net Cold Cash

      If your spring or summer travels bring you through Amarillo, TX, it may net you $1,000 in cold cash.

      Through Sep. 31, 2009, stay a night in an Amarillo hotel, motel or B&B, send in a copy of your receipt, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for $1,000. Stay two nights and your name will be entered twice; stay three nights and get three entries - - up to a maximum of 10 entries for 10 nights. No purchase is necessary.

      There will be 10 drawings during the summer, so a total of $10,000 will be given away.

      Amarillo is a great value, with bargain pricing for accommodations, attractions, restaurants and shopping.

      Amarillo has an abundance of things to do, from TEXAS, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum and the Amarillo Dillas, to name a few.

      The Amarillo Chamber of Commerce employees and their families, and Amarillo hotel, motel and B&B employees and their families, are not eligible for this contest. Go here for complete rules.

      Amarillo CVC.



      Elegant Hotels Barbados Savings

      Elegant Hotels Group makes travel to Barbados more affordable with special offers that must be booked through May 2009, for travel through December 2009. Discounts are up to 45 percent at five Caribbean beachfront hotels and resorts dotted along the west and south coasts of Barbados including Turtle Beach Resort, Crystal Cove Hotel, Colony Club Hotel, Tamarind Cove Hotel and The House.

      Families are a focus at Elegant Hotels Group. The first child stays fre,e at the family-oriented properties. Additional savings are offered at the all-inclusive resorts, Turtle Beach Resort and Crystal Cove Hotel, where the child rate applies to age 16 and under, instead of the former ages 12 and under. This is a 30 percent savings for families traveling with children in this age group.

      Here are details on the savings and values for 2009:

      • Turtle Beach Resort: Save up to 45 percent on new bookings for travel through Dec. 19, 2009. Special offer rates start at $242 per room, per night. This all-inclusive 164-suite resort features private patios or balconies.


      • Tamarind Cove Hotel: Save up to 40 percent on new bookings for travel through Dec. 21, 2009. Rates start at $200 per room, per night and you receive a $100 resort credit when booking five nights or more. Each of the 110 guestrooms and suites feature a private balcony or patio with a pool/garden view or ocean view.


      • Colony Club Hotel: Save up to 40 percent on new bookings for travel through Dec. 14, 2009. Rates start at $241 per room, per night. The restored private club has 96 guestrooms and suites. There are four lagoon-style swimming pools meandering through seven acres of tropical gardens and a tennis court.


      • Crystal Cove Hotel: Has 88 guestrooms tucked into gardens filled with frangipani and bougainvillea. Save up to 30 percent on new bookings for travel through Dec. 14, 2009, to the all-inclusive resort. Rates start at $295 per room, per night.


      • The House: Save up to 30 percent on new bookings for travel through Dec. 14, 2009. Rates start at $465 per room, per night. This adults-only sanctuary offers 34 suites and is next to the acclaimed restaurant Daphne’s.

      These promotions are valid for new bookings only, require a three-night minimum stay (Colony Club Hotel requires a five-night minimum stay) and subject to availability. Restrictions and blackout periods may apply.

      Elegant Hotels Group or 888/996-9947.



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      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 Publishings 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.

      Myrtle Beach Savings

      Myrtle Beach, SC offers value accommodations and 60 miles of activities for every interest, be it on the beach, in historic communities, or on the golf course.

      Popularly known as the Grand Strand, it stretches from Little River to Pawleys Island, comprising 12 distinct cities along the South Carolina coast.

      Below are a few of the deals in the Myrtle Beach area this spring.

      • Barefoot Golf Resort - Perfect your golf swing with the Stay & Play Spring Deal Breaker. It includes three rounds of golf on Barefoot Resorts’ Norman, Love and Fazio courses with carts included. The three night stay at Premier Resorts at Barefoot Resort is $560 through May 10, 2009. Rates are per person based on quad occupancy.


      • Beach Colony Resortt - - 800/222-2141 - - the Spring Beach Breaks two-night package starts at $130. This includes an oceanfront, one-bedroom suite and two local attraction tickets (Ripley’s Aquarium, Brookgreen Gardens and Alligator Adventure). The package is valid through May 2, 2009. A surcharge applies to holidays and weekends.


      • Breakers Resort - - 888/302-1952 - - Spring Fling packages offer a stay two nights and get the third night fr,ee, stay five nights and get the fourth and fifth night fre,e and stay seven nights and get your fifth, sixth and seventh night f-ree. Starting at $65 per night, this deal continues through June 4, 2009, and is not available Easter weekend or Memorial Day weekend.


      • Dayton House Resort’s Blooming Experience package - - 866/467-4229 - - includes: ocean view accommodations, two tickets to Brookgreen Gardens, dinner for two at the Sea Captain’s House Restaurant. The package is valid through May 15, 2009.


      • Elliott Beach Rentals’ Spring Vacation Bailout - - 800/525-0225 - - gets you 50 percent off oceanfront homes and condos. Valid through May 30, 2009, at check-in you receive tickets and coupons for area attractions. Blackout dates: May 9 to17 and May 21 to 26.


      • Landmark Resort’s - - 800/845-0658 - - Spring Beach Breaks two-night packages start at $119 and include two-nights’ accommodations and two tickets to local attractions. A surcharge applies to holidays and weekends. Certain restrictions apply.


      • La Quinta Inn & Suites - - 866/446-3210 - - Swing into Spring includes a four night stay and five rounds of golf including cart for $538 per person through June 1, 2009.


      • Marina Inn at Grande Dunes - - 866/353-9418 - - Spring Family package includes accommodations in a grande guest room, breakfast daily, four show tickets and a welcome basket on arrival. Rates, good through May 31, 2009, start at $419 for two nights, based on a family of four. Larger accommodations are available at a surcharge.


      • The Winds Resort Beach Club - - 800/334-3581 - - in Ocean Isle Beach, NC, offers a Take a Break package for two weekday nights for $99 per night. The package includes a room with wet bar and refrigerator, breakfast daily, use of bicycles and discounts to area restaurants and shops. The Take a Break weekend package is $104.50 per night (two-night stay required) and includes the same amenities as the weekend package.

      Myrtle Beach or 888/Myrtle-1.



      Boyne Golf Gr8 Package for 2009

      Boyne Resorts, golf destinations in the Midwest with 162 holes of golf, offers its Gr8 Escape unlimited golf package for 2009.

      The Gr8 Escape includes unlimited golf on seven courses, accommodations, breakfast and dinner daily, cocktail parties, an optional scramble, casino voucher, unlimited practice and range balls.

      Premium fr-ee options include 18-holes at Bay Harbor Golf Club, which alone costs $159 to play on; a 50-minute Swedish massage, three 50-minute golf lessons, a Lob Wedge and a $75 food and beverage credit.

      Lodging for the Gr8 Escape is at Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls, MI or Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, MI. Rates start from $555 for a three-night stay or $855 for five nights, a savings of more than half off! The value of playing 36 holes of golf per day is $924. The package requires Sunday check-in and double occupancy and is available May to October 2009.

      Boyne Golf Gr8 Package or 800/462-6963.



      Pink Slip Getaway

      Leslie and Brian Mulcahy know the challenges of being unemployed. They went from being guests in 1992 to unemployment and a new career as innkeepers at the Rabbit Hill Inn, in Lower Waterford, VT, two years later. Now they hope to provide others the rejuvenation they found dealing with the uncertainty and anxiety of unemployment.

      Downsized workers have the time to travel, but the Mulcahys understand they don’t have the resources. America’s four million unemployed need a break to help them regroup and regain confidence. In response to the unemployment epidemic, Rabbit Hill Inn will give away getaways to unemployed workers; one per month from April through July and again in November and December.

      If you or a spouse has been unemployed for more than six months, the 19-room Rabbit Hill Inn wants to hear the story. Dubbed the Pink Slip Getaway Giveaway, Rabbit Hill Inn will award one couple with a rejuvenating two night getaway, including accommodations, a candlelight dinner and a rabbit’s foot for good old fashioned luck.

      To be eligible for the getaway, send a letter or email by June 1, 2009 explaining your story in one page or less to:
      Rabbit Hill Inn Getaway Giveaway
      P.O. Box 55
      Lower Waterford Road, VT 05848
      email

      The Pink Slip Getaway will include:

      • Two nights lodging (Sunday – Thursday, non-holiday) for two people in one room on a space available basis.
      • Romantic dinner for two on one evening
      • Candlelit breakfast each morning
      • Afternoon tea and pastry daily
      • Signature turndown service nightly
      • All gratuities, service charges and taxes
      • A good old fashioned rabbits foot keychain for luck

      Pub charges and transportation to the inn are additional.

      The getaways are offered to U.S. residents, 25 years or older, who are not employed by or related to Rabbit Hill Inn. All letters must be received no later than June 1, 2009. One letter per person is allowed. Duplicate entries will eliminate you from consideration. Pink Slip Getaway recipients will be notified by email or phone. Pink Slip Getaways are not transferrable and may not be combined with any other offers or promotions. Pink Slip Getaways will be scheduled no later than Dec. 24, 2009, are subject to availability and blackout dates may apply.

      Rabbit Hill Inn or 800/76-BUNNY.



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      Best of Barbados 2009 Packages

      The Best of Barbados package is back with bigger savings and more hotel partners. From June 8 to July 3, 2009, you can book a Caribbean experience for spring travel May 1 to July 15, 2009, or fall travel Sep. 1 to Dec. 18, 2009.

      The Best of Barbados program allows you to customize vacations with your travel agent, selecting options from a full range of hotels, attractions and activities.

      You can take advantage of the following with the Best of Barbados program:

      • Air credit of up to US $300 per person
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      • Fre-e breakfast daily
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      Best of Barbados 2009 or 800/221-9831.



      Fly F-ree to Europe with Select MSC Cruises

      BOOK BY APR. 30, 2009 - - For a limited time, MSC Cruises offers fr-ee roundtrip airfare from select gateways with its 2009 seven-night Europe itineraries this summer.

      The 2009 Europe Fre-e Air promotion is available on flights from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago O'Hare, Miami, JFK, Newark, Tampa and Orlando. Rates (including cruise, roundtrip airfare, air taxes and airport transfers) on select sailings begin at $1,199 per person, double occupancy.

      The offer includes select Eastern Mediterranean sailings on MSC Poesia, MSC Musica, MSC Opera and MSC Armonia sailing roundtrip from Venice; MSC Orchestra's Northern Europe itineraries sailing roundtrip from Copenhagen; and Western Mediterranean itineraries of the new MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida (which debuts this summer) sailing from Barcelona.

      Bookings must be made by April 30, 2009. A $250 per person non-refundable deposit is due at time of booking.

      MSC Cruises.



      Kids and the Keys, the Journey Continues Part II - - Article and Photos by Nicki Chodnoff

      Keys deerAs we travel 30 miles eastward towards the mainland from Key West, we arrive on Big Pine Key. As we drive down a sandy two-lane road with lots of scrub undergrowth, scrawny pines and barely any traffic, as if on cue, we spot a small white-tailed Key deer grazing on the side of the road. To follow the Keys attitude, the endangered Key deer even seems low-key. As the deer spots us, it glances up and then continues eating.

      Our travels to Big Pine Key takes us to an area near where Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge and Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge overlap. On the back roads of Big Pine Key you’ll spot a giant yellow kayak in front of the marina at Old Wooden Bridge Fishing Camp. When you do, you know you’ve reached Big Pine Kayak Adventures. The draw is Bill Keogh, a photographer, guide and naturalist who’s an expert on the Keys ecosystem.

      No Name Pub

      To start exploring the ecosystem, Keogh sets a plastic kayak in the boat for each person in the group who is kayaking. With our small group in the boat, we head for open water, where thick seaweed sometimes pokes through the water and we’re told can trap errant kayaks.

      We quickly pass under a large concrete bridge that leads to No Name Key, the only inhabited island in the Florida Keys without electricity, according to Keogh. A black cable under the bridge delivers the necessities -- cable and telephone service. Living the green life, residents use solar power and generators for electricity.

      Once we passed No Name Key, we didn’t see any more human development on the two-hour tour. Keogh stops the boat, in what looks like the middle of nowhere, unloads the kayaks and leads the kayaking group to a sea grass flat -- a bed of swaying sea grass and then to the mangroves near Big Pine Key.

      Once the kayaking group gets the lay of the land and knows where to paddle, Keogh heads back to the boat with the few of us who opt to stand onboard. As we look at the calm, glass-like water, Keogh reveals that the water is buzzing with activity. He points to a loggerhead turtle lazily swimming near the boat and identifies the long, slender shimmering fish meandering by as a baby barracuda. Once we are use to looking past the water’s glare and just beneath the surface, we easily spotted jumping fish and turtles. In the distance, where the flats are carpeted with sea grass, we spot a heron stalking a fish. It darts its head down, then with a beak full of fish, it tilts its head back and straightens its neck to swallow. Between taking in the wildlife, interesting conversation and enjoying the bright, warm sun, we munch the fruit and drinks brought along.

      Feeding tarponAll too soon our time with Big Pine Kayak Adventures is over. We head to No Name Pub, in Big Pine Key. The rustic eatery, in the same spot since 1936, looks like little has changed over the years. As close to the Keys of yesteryear as you get, it still supplies locals with plenty of beer and pizza. The food is good, but the rough bar look is even better. The place is off the beaten track and hard to find, even though they advertise the pub is only one-and-a-half miles north from U.S. 1. Once you find the place, you will never forget it. The walls, ceilings and just about every place you don’t sit on or eat and drink from is covered with $1 bills, signed by the previous owner. As we leave No Name Pub, we get another treat. We spot Key deer wandering around nearby homes from the parking lot.

      One of the classic Keys experiences is feeding the tarpon at Robbie's Marina on Overseas Highway on Islamorada Key. For $3 you get a bucket of small dead fish and more fun than you ever thought you could have feeding fish. Walk to the dock and you’ll see 50 to 100 husky tarpon, some six foot long, hanging around for their daily meal under the docks. For your first try, and to get use to the size of some tarpons, toss a fish in the water. It’s pure drama. The tarpon lunge for the snack, roiling the water like a whirlpool. And thieving pelicans do their best to snatch the food out of the tarpon's jaws. Once you know what to expect, give it a try. The easiest approach is to kneel or lay down on the dock and hold the dead fish by its tail about an inch or two above the water. The tarpon will jump out of the water in a flash of silver and green to grab the fish from your hand. If your kids are too young to feed the tarpon, they’ll still feel like they’re part of the action watching the feeding spectacle.

      Theater of the SeaThe classic story, as told on Robbie’s web site, is that Robbie and his wife Mona started feeding one tarpon that seemed to struggle in the shallow waters near their dock 18 years ago. Naming the tarpon Scarface, Robbie lifted the fish to free it from the bank and saw that its right jaw was torn open. Hoping to revive the tarpon, Robbie placed it in the oxygen-rich shrimp tank and had the fish sewed up with a mattress needle and twine. After several days of force-feeding, Scarface gained weight. Six months later Scarface was released. But he kept coming back for the free meals, sometimes bringing a friend. Soon more and more of the fish began to appear.

      It seems kids really like attractions that haven’t changed much over the years. Maybe it’s the connection of experiencing something like their moms and dads or grand moms and grand pops did many years ago. Theater of the Sea, in Islamorada, is one of those places. Established in 1946, the lush, tropical, 17-acre attraction is one of the world's oldest marine zoos. Recently refurbished, it’s still a throwback that doesn't try to compete with larger, modern parks. Inexpensive and intimate compared to larger parks, their low-key, entertaining and educational shows with parrots, sea lions and dolphins plant the seeds about conservation, ecology, anatomy and physiology. Visits just seem much more relaxed since you don’t feel like you are always rushing to the next attraction. Interactive programs include dolphin, sea lion and sting ray encounters that you don’t need to book well in advance. If it’s a spur of the moment stop, you may be able to interact with dolphins with just a few hours' notice. Other to-do and see options include a ride on a glass-bottom boat, twice-daily four-hour adventure and snorkel cruises or sunbathing at a lagoon-side beach.

      injured turtleKids and adults will love the special patients at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. What was an old 1950s motel is now a sanctuary for injured sea turtles. Since it opened in 1986, the hospital has hosted more than 750 sea turtles with a variety of illnesses and injuries.

      Informative, interactive and you help a great cause, a 30-minute presentation by a passionate guide gets you started on your tour. The explanation details the different kinds of turtles, what the hospital does, how it runs, and the most common ailments that bring turtles to the hospital. Ailments run the gamut such as flipper amputations caused by fishing line and trap rope entanglements, impacted intestines caused by eating plastic bags, balloons and fishing lines. Then you see the turtle emergency room and operating room and learn the most common surgery is removing viral tumors called fibropapilloma.

      Next on the tour is what everyone’s been waiting to do - go outside and actually see turtles in the motel’s old swimming pool and learn what brought them here. Each summer the tanks fill up with more than 100 injured and disoriented hatchling sea turtles. They are nursed back to health and released as soon as possible. The most obvious ailment is a puffed shell, caused by boat collisions, which prevents turtles from diving for food. Weights are added to aid the turtles in submerging. At the end of the tour, everyone gets pellets to feed to the turtles. It’s hard to tell who enjoys this more, the adults or the kids.

      Florida Keys History of Diving MuseumThe ancient activity of diving is showcased in one of Florida’s newer museums, the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum in Islamorada. The 6,000-square-foot museum displays an extensive assemblage of diving equipment and artifacts collected by retired physicians Joe and Sally Bauer during the past 40 years. You don't have to be a diver, or even get wet, to enjoy this small, personal museum.

      You can learn about the evolution of scuba-diving equipment. The gallery takes you from the naked, breath holding pearl divers of 2,700 B.C. through the early development of diving machines, the diving helmet and today's SCUBA.

      If you ever wanted to see diving helmets, this is the place. Every country that ever made a helmet is represented and there are many. Kids will like the exhibit that tests how long they can hold their breath and sitting inside Halley's Diving Bell, one of the earliest types of equipment for underwater work and exploration.

      After we leave Islamorada, we head back to the mainland. Our Keys exploration is nearly over, having started at Mile Marker (MM) 0 in Key West. Mile Markers are the small rectangular green and white signs the Florida Department of Transportation posts to let you know your relative location. You subtract two MMs for the approximate number of miles between two known locations. So if you subtract MM 127, Florida City at the junction of the Florida Turnpike to U.S. 1, from Key West MM 0, you’re a mere 127 miles from Key West.

      There were many places and things to do that we didn’t have time to experience during our Keys visit. We’ll have to save them for our next visit.

      The Florida Keys or 800/FLA-KEYS.



      Epic Season Pass at 2008 Price

      PURCHASE BY APR. 9, 2009 - - A $49 down payment locks Vail Resorts’ Epic Season Pass at the lowest price ($579 for adults, $279 for children) for the 2009-2010 season. The $49 is due by Apr. 9, 2009, with the remainder due in the fall.

      The Epic Season Pass lets you ski and snowboard at all Vail Resorts - Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly and Arapahoe Basin. The pass is good at all 128 chairlifts and 722 trails from opening day in the fall until closing day in the spring, including every holiday in between with no blackout dates. The Epic Season Pass is non-transferable and non-refundable.

      Epic Season Pass purchasers receive exclusive offers and promotions for lodging, dining, ski rentals, equipment, ski school and special events for the 2009-2010 ski and snowboard season as part of the Epic Pass Club. All Vail Resorts season passes use the "easy scan" process that gives you the option to keep your pass zipped inside your jacket while getting "scanned" in lift lines.

      Epic Season Passes.



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

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