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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, May 2005 Issue


Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
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ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2005 
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Heavenly Style
This bracelet is as beautiful as a heavenly vision. For some, the bracelet represents each layer in the foundation of heaven, a meaningful, spiritual reminder.

The 7" long bracelet is made from pearls and crystals that represents sardonyx, beryl and chalcedony, stones mentioned in the Bible. The 12 genuine multi-colored crystals beads and freshwater pearls are each separated by pewter spacer beads. Each crystal bead is faceted to bring out its color and sparkle. Rarely found in stores or jewelry shops, we sell the Heavenly bracelet for only $29. Order here from AAA Jewelry Outlet.


In This Issue:
Procession of ceremonial-garbed
Native Americans, Washington, D.C.

  • Book Early, Save 50% at Sandals, Beaches
  • Mandarin Oriental Intro Rates
  • Swing Through the Catskills
  • Hawaii Discount Vacations
  • Orlando Magicard Saves Money
  • W. Hollywood Art, Architecture Packages
  • 3rd Night Fr.ee at South Beach Clinton Hotel
  • Viral Cause of Traveler's Diarrhea
  • Ireland on Sale
  • Puerta Vallarta Summer Special
  • Take the Ache Out of Traveling
  • Classic Custom Vacations Family Getaways
  • F.ree Gas at B&Bs
  • Europe Flight Pass Program $99
  • Take the Grandkids to NY City Hotels
  • South African Airways $807 Inaugural Fare
  • Surfside Escape Special in B.C.
  • What's New in Washington, D.C. by Kay Douglas
  • Vegas.com Summer Manic Monday Deals

  • Book Early, Save 50% at Sandals, Beaches

    HURRY, BOOK BY MAY 10 -- Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island rolls out the red carpet for honeymooners and couples planning romantic interludes by offering 50 percent off new bookings made by May 10, 2005. Travel is valid Dec. 9 to 26, 2005 and Jan. 2 to Feb. 9, 2006. All-inclusive rates begin at $190 per person, per night with a three-night minimum stay. The resort offers Rolls-Royce airport transfers and personalized butler service. 800/SANDALS.

    Fab Family Savings -- When the big kids return to school, give tiny tots a vacation at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort & Spa. The resort offers 50 percent off for families traveling Sep. 1 to 30, 2005 for new bookings made now until further notice. Beaches Resorts makes travel with tots appealing by offering its exclusive Beaches Caribbean Adventure where families can play all day with their favorite furry friends from Sesame Street. 800/BEACHES.


    Mandarin Oriental Intro Rates

    To celebrate the opening of Mandarin Oriental’s first Hideaway Resort, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai, Thailand, the company offers introductory rates from $295 per villa, per night. This offer is valid until Sep. 30, 2005.

    Partially opened in December 2004, the resort sits on 60 acres 10 minutes east of Chiang Mai International Airport and 10 minutes from the city center.

    The design draws on the architectural and cultural influences of the historic Lanna Kingdom, dating back to the end of the 13th Century.

    The 64 villas differ in style, from golden-teak pavilions to rice barns. Several deluxe villas come with a private outdoor Jacuzzi, plunge pool or swimming pool. Three deluxe two-bedroom villas come with their own private swimming pool.

    Features include a spa, fitness center with wellness activities, the Oriental Culinary Academy teaches the art of Thai cuisine, and Kad Dhara, a traditional market village, offers shopping opportunities. A fr.ee-form swimming pool overlooks paddy fields. On property restaurants include French, Chinese and Thai cuisines.

    Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chiang Mai.


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    Tinsel Chains Below Wholesale
    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..


    Swing Through the Catskills

    Nine golf courses in New York's Catskills region are banding together to create a variety of golf packages offered until Oct. 15, 2005.

    Golfers can choose to play at a different course every day, all within a 14-mile radius in Greene County, N.Y. Golf courses include: Blackhead Mountain Country Club, Catskill Golf Club, Christman's Windham House, Colonial Country Club, Rip Van Winkle Country Club, Sunny Hill Golf Resort, Thunderhart Golf Club, Rainbow Golf Club & Resort and Windham Country Club.

    Monday through Thursday packages start at $96 per person for four days of golf, and $255 per person based on double occupancy for four days of golf, lodging and breakfast. All packages include a special golf gift.

    Catskills Golf Courses.


    Hawaii Discount Vacations

    Fairfield Resorts, Inc. and Outrigger have joined forces to bring you vacation ownership opportunities in Hawaii. So if you don’t mind sitting through a presentation, you can get a discounted vacation packages to Oahu or Hawaii's Big Island.

    Make no mistake, you will hear a fine-tuned pitch as even their Outrigger Resort Club website states the offer “is being used for the purpose of soliciting sales of timeshare interests.”

    The Royal Sea Cliff Resort in Kona has condos with fully equipped kitchens, comfortable bedrooms, washers and dryers, and private lanais. Kona prices are seven nights for $679, six nights for $599 and five nights for $499.

    Oahu prices are seven nights for $539, six nights for $459 and five nights for $389.

    Outrigger Resort Club.


    Orlando Magicard Saves Money

    Save up to $500 with a fr.ee Orlando Magicard, the year-round discount card provided by the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau. The card is valid for up to six people with the maximum discount based on a family of four with an average stay of six nights.

    New for 2005, the card features discounts from national partners which allow you to receive savings outside of Orlando. These partners include Amtrak, Woman’s Day magazine, National Geographic for Kids, JC Penney Portraits, World’s Fair for Kids and Omaha Steaks.

    The card is valid at 114 area establishments including attractions, accommodations, restaurants, dinner theaters, ground transportation and shopping malls. The Orlando Magicard can be downloaded online.

    Orlando Magicard.

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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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    West Hollywood Art, Architecture Packages

    The West Hollywood Convention & Visitors Bureau extends a one-of-a-kind opportunity for travelers interested in art, architecture and culture. The Sights & Sounds Tour runs May 30 to Sep. 5, 2005. The promotion comes as Los Angeles gets set to host exhibitions such as Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.

    When you book the "Sights & Sounds" promotion at participating West Hollywood hotels, you will receive: special rates/packages at 11 West Hollywood hotels; fr.ee copy of TheLACardT ($39.99 value) with discounts to cultural institutions, restaurants and shops; discounts to "Architecture Tours L.A." with tours of unique, historically significant and off the beaten path architecture marvels; a summer arts event guide; and fr,ee copies of the West Hollywood city map and travel guide.

    If you’re in West Hollywood on June 4, 2005, you can enjoy the Avenues of Art & Design's 8th annual "Art & Design Walk." During the fr,ee event, art galleries, fashion boutiques, design showrooms and lifestyle shops open their doors for an evening of discovery. Cultural activities include "Italian Flag Throwing," performances and art exhibits.

    West Hollywood's proximity to LA’s "Museum Row," cultural institutions within West Hollywood and 30 plus art galleries, it is a central location to experience the region's cultural arts and architecture.

    Hotel packages start from $109 at Ramada Plaza Hotel & Suites and range to $299 for a junior suite at the Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas. You must book packages with the hotels directly.

    For a fr.ee arts guide and list of participating hotels, contact the West Hollywood Convention & Visitors Bureau 800/368-6020.


    Third Night F.ree at South Beach Clinton Hotel

    The Clinton Hotel and Spa's value package lets you enjoy two nights in a balcony guestroom overlooking the reflection pool and get the third night fr.ee. The package includes two boat passes around Bayside's Millionaire Mansions; VIP passes to the hottest night clubs; f.ree use of beach towels and chairs; a bottle of vintage wine; and late check out.

    The value package is available through Oct. 31, 2005. The midweek (Sunday to Thursday) package rate is $269 and $329 for Friday and Saturday night stays, based on double occupancy and availability.

    The 88-room, 1930 Art Deco hotel in the heart of Miami's South Beach was designed by Parisian Eric Raffy. Its signature "corset motif" is found in everything from mirrors and guest room chairs to lobby banquettes and the futuristic lobby.

    Clinton Hotel or 305/938-4040.


    Viral Cause of Traveler's Diarrhea

    Diarrhea that can send you running from the beach to the bathroom is most likely caused by one of a family of pathogens called Norovirus (Norwalk-like viruses), at least in Mexico, the Caribbean island of Antigua and the Central American country of Guatemala, researchers report.

    Noroviruses were implicated in 65 percent of cases of traveler's diarrhea among tourists visiting those countries, according to a study. And the researchers added that the longer the traveler's trip south, the more likely it becomes Norovirus will catch up with them.

    The finding should spur new research into preventing this all-too-common problem, researcher Kellogg J. Schwab, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said.

    "Noroviruses are known to be a major cause of food and waterborne gastroenteritis outbreaks in domestic and unique settings, such as cruise ships, and also have been documented among military groups during deployment overseas," he said. "However, few studies have investigated the prevalence of Norovirus infection among civilians traveling from industrialized to developing countries."

    Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Schwab's team analyzed stool samples from 34 people who suffered traveler's diarrhea during trips to Antigua, Guatemala or Cuernavaca, Mexico. Nearly two-thirds of them had at least one stool sample that tested positive for Norovirus, the researchers found.

    The finding is relatively new, since molecular detection methods for these viruses have only recently been introduced into labs in the United States or other countries.

    The study noted that 11 of the Norovirus-positive stool samples also tested positive for E. coli bacteria. This suggests that dual infections among people with traveler's diarrhea may also be more common than previously thought. The researchers said their findings indicate a need for further research into the role of Noroviruses in traveler's diarrhea.

    The U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases has more about Noroviruses.


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    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.

    Ireland on Sale

    Tour operator Destination Europe Resources (DER) offers new transatlantic airfare with non-stop service to Ireland beginning May 1, 2005.

    Prices to Shannon from New York or Boston start from $299 and to Dublin from Atlanta or Raleigh/Durham from $378 during shoulder season: May 1 through 31 and Sep. 6 to Oct. 31, 2005. Regardless if you travel during shoulder season or peak season, the maximum stay is 30 days.

    Shoulder season pricing is also available from $397 from Chicago; $437 from Miami, Dallas and Houston; Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco from $404; Denver from $460; and Seattle and Portland from $485.

    Peak season rates to Shannon, June 1 through Labor Day, are $499 from New York or Boston; $580 from Chicago; $646 from Miami; $666 from Dallas or Houston; $660 from Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco; $616 from Denver and $699 from Seattle or Portland.

    Shoulder season prices to Dublin are available from Chicago and Miami for $448; Dallas or Houston $502; Los Angeles, San Diego ot San Francisco $472; Denver $518 and Seattle or Portland $484.

    Peak season rates are $636 from Atlanta or Raleigh/Durham; $618 from Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco; $648 from Chicago; $668 from Dallas or Houston; $662 from Denver and $699 from Seattle or Portland.

    DER.



    Puerta Vallarta Summer Special

    Villas Vallarta by Canto del Sol, the new all-inclusive resort on Puerto Vallarta's Banderas Bay, manages to retain the traditional ambiance of Puerto Vallarta. The former Golden Hotel, a low-rise building, blends contemporary and colonial Mexican architecture and offers 108 standard rooms, 23 one-bedroom suites and 21 two-bedroom suites. It is a best value for those on long-term stays.

    Their all-inclusive plan includes breakfast and lunch buffets and waiter-served dinners from a menu. There are also pool-side snacks and bar choices throughout the day. Non-motorized water sports, all meals, snacks, beverages, soft-drinks and domestic alcoholic beverages, cocktails, wine and beer are included in the plan. For the tennis lover, an hour of tennis is available on the eight courts each day.

    The European Program for independent travelers doesn’t include meals.

    All rooms feature a King size bed, color TV with international satellite service, telephone, a full bathroom with shower and tub, air-conditioning and a safe deposit box. One-bedroom suites sleep two to four guests, with a King size or two double beds, a living room with sofa bed and TV, a fully equipped kitchenette and a dining area for four. The two-bedroom suites can sleep up to six.

    Promotional rates through June 30 and Sep. 1 to Dec. 22, 2005, are $62 per person, per night, based on double occupancy, in a standard room with the all-inclusive plan. Rates from July 1 to Aug. 31, 2005 are $67 per person, per night.

    Villas Vallarta or 877/335-8288, Canada: 866/487-3415.



    Take the Ache Out of Traveling

    Whether traveling around the world, cross-country or to a neighboring town, loading your suitcase with everything you may need seems to be the norm. However, the heavier and larger the luggage, the more susceptible you are to orthopaedic injuries, including the back, shoulder and neck. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons urges you to use good judgment when packing, lifting and carrying luggage to avoid injury.

    According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more than 51,800 luggage-related injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices and clinics in 2003. After sitting for many hours in one position, injuries can include strains, pulls and tears while lifting luggage from baggage carousels, overhead or under-seat compartments. Injuries can also occur when carrying a heavy suitcase for an extended period of time or lifting and holding a bag incorrectly.

    "Lifting and carrying luggage that is too big or too heavy for a person's size and frame can put serious strains on their body," said James Weinstein, D.O., M.S., chair on the Council of Academic Affairs for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. "To minimize temporary or permanent damage to your neck, shoulders and back, it is important to bend at the knees, lift luggage with your leg muscles, not your back and waist. and avoid twisting and rotating your spine."

    The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers the following tips for lifting and carrying luggage:

    When purchasing new luggage, look for a sturdy, light piece with wheels and a handle.

    Avoid buying luggage that is too heavy or bulky while empty.

    Pack lightly. When possible, pack items in a few smaller bags instead of one large luggage piece.

    When lifting luggage, stand along side of it, bend at your knees, not your waist, lift with your leg muscles, then grasp the handle and straighten up. Once you have lifted your luggage, hold it close to your body.

    Do not twist your body when lifting and carrying luggage. Instead, point your toes in the direction you are headed, and then turn your entire body in that direction.

    Do not rush when lifting or carrying a suitcase. If it is too heavy or an awkward shape, get help.

    Do not carry heavier pieces of luggage for long periods of time. If it is too heavy, make sure to check luggage when traveling rather than carrying it on a plane, train or bus.

    If using a backpack, make sure it has two padded and adjustable shoulder straps. Choose one with several compartments to secure various-sized items, packing the heavier things low and towards the center. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder does not allow weight to be distributed evenly, which can cause muscle strain.

    If you use a duffel or shoulder bag, do not carry it on one shoulder for any length of time. Be sure to switch sides often.

    Make sure to carry all rolling luggage up flights of stairs.

    Click here or here for additional safety tips and injury prevention information, or call the Public Service line at 800/824-BONES.


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    Click Here to Order from On The Go Publishing.


    Classic Custom Vacations Family Getaways

    This summer, get out of town without sacrificing first-rate accommodations and premium services because you have children in tow. Classic Custom Vacations developed travel options that combine luxury and value.

    On Oahu, The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, on Waikiki’s widest stretch of beach, offers a village setting with restaurants, shopping, cultural activities, fireworks, entertainment, a spa and one of the largest pools on the island. Book five-nights and get the fifth night fr.ee; one category upgrade at check-in; a $50 dining credit per stay; and children 12 and under eat fr.ee with a paying adult. Rates for a five-night stay in a garden-view room begin at $649 per person, a savings of $527 over regular rates. Travel must be booked and completed by Dec. 14, 2005.

    In the United States Virgin Islands, Caneel Bay resort gives you two adjoining guest rooms when you book a seven-night stay plus a fr.ee children’s programs at Turtle Town, a Caneel Kids beach kit, fr.ee use of all non-motorized water sports and a sampler of “Embracing the Child in You” sessions at Self Centre, the property’s wellness center. Rates for a seven-night stay for two adults and up to three children begin at $2,401 for two garden rooms, representing a savings of up to $1,725 over regular rates. Travel must be booked by Oct. 31 and completed between May 1 and Oct. 31, 2005.

    Classic Vacations or 800/635-1333.



    fr.ee Gas at B&Bs

    As the summer travel season approaches, fuel prices are rising faster than the thermometer. To ease gas pains, BedandBreakfast.com members offer the popular "TANKS A LOT" program, in which guests enjoy everything from cash on their pillows, to gas cards, to discounted stays.

    All offers are based on availability during specific periods and consecutive-night stays. They do not include holiday periods, and may not be combined with any other offer. "Midweek" refers to Sunday through Thursday night stays. Be sure to mention the BedandBreakfast.com TANKS A LOT promotion when booking.

    Sample Deals - West - Madison Street Inn, Santa Clara, CA: The first 10 families to book the Family Suite once school gets out will receive a $25 Mobil gas card. The catch: Kids must accompany parents. The offer is good mid-June through August. 408/249-5541.

    Midwest - English Rose & Cushing Manor Inn, South Bend, IN: Stay two weekend nights and receive $25 for gas plus two passes to the nearby College Football Hall of Fame or the Copshalom Historical Home. 866/268-7790.

    South - Arlington Heights B&B, Natchez, MS: Through Oct. 21, get a bottle of locally made Muscadine wine and $25 deducted from your first night's stay to defray gas costs. 601/446-7244.

    Mid-Atlantic - Blue Rock B&B, Millersville, PA: Stay two or more nights and receive a 25 percent discount toward travel expenses. 717/872-7440.

    New England - Sugar Hill Inn, Sugar Hill, NH: Stay two nights through Labor Day and get back up to $50 for gas ( with a receipt). Stay four nights and your refund will be doubled. 800/548-4748.

    BedandBreakfast.com From the drop-down box, choose fr.ee Gas Promotion.



    American Express Caribbean Wide Savings

    Statement credits of up to $150, a Vacation Values Card with savings up to 30 percent on car rentals, excursions, cell phone rentals, dining, greens fees, shopping and a preferred exchange rate are featured in American Express' "Beyond the Beach" Caribbean program. Available at 17 destinations, the program is offered for travel through Sep. 30, 2005. Bookings must be made by June 30, 2005.

    "Beyond the Beach" is available to travelers who book qualifying vacation packages with any American Express travel office or affiliate using their eligible American Express Card. A qualifying vacation is a purchase valued at $2,000 or more per booking which comes with a $100 statement credit. Gold, Platinum and Centurion charge card members who book a package of $2,500 or more receive a $150 statement credit.

    Other exclusive features include buy-one get-one-fr*ee offers, a year subscription to Travel & Leisure magazine and double membership reward points.

    Participating destinations include Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, Cancun, Cozumel and Riviera Maya in the Mexican Caribbean.

    American Express Company.



    Europe Flight Pass Program $99

    Flying around Europe is quicker and cheaper than ever. Air Plus Comet has joined EuropebyAir's Flight Pass program, allowing travelers to fly from Madrid to Milan or Rome for $99 one-way this Spring.

    New spring destinations include Florence, Munich, Lisbon, London, Rome, Athens, Munich, Zurich, Venice and Madrid.

    The large EuropebyAir network, with 25 participating carriers, was enhanced by including London to Amsterdam and Frankfurt to Berlin. Participating airline DBA, acquired Germania Express with 22 routes, increasing the number of cities served to 250.

    Flight Passes are valid for on any of the 25 European based carriers participating in the Flight Pass program. All routes are priced at U.S. $99 each plus tax. Flight Passes are non-refundable, sold outside of Europe only and are not available for sale to European residents.

    Check the website for reservations, a network map and a list of all destinations.

    EuropebyAir or 888/231-9455.


    Take the Grandkids to NY City Hotels

    Apple Core Hotels, a group of five moderately-priced hotels in midtown Manhattan, celebrate family with a new package for grandparents and grandchildren. Available July 1 to 31, 2005, Apple Core Hotels’ "Take the Grandkids, Leave the Parents" package includes fr.ee Continental breakfast, four tickets to the Circle Line-Statue of Liberty Ferry and admission to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and the Statue of Liberty. Package rates start at $139 plus tax. Additionally, children under 13 stay fr.ee when sharing their grandparents' room, making a large room with two double beds an economical choice for families.

    Along with value-oriented accommodations, Apple Core Hotels in-room amenities include cable television with Movies on Demand and video games; fr.ee high-speed, wireless Internet access; telephones with voice mail, and coffee makers.

    Midtown Manhattan hotels are within walking distance of city landmarks including Madison Square Garden, the flagship Toys"R"Us, the Empire State Building, Central Park Zoo, Times Square, the American Girl Store, Rockefeller Center, Macy's and Fifth Avenue shops. Properties include the La Quinta Inn Manhattan (17 West 32nd St.), Red Roof Inn Manhattan (6 West 32nd St.), Comfort Inn Midtown (129 West 46th St.), Super 8 Hotel Times Square (59 West 46th St.), and the Ramada Inn East Side (161 Lexington Ave.).

    Apple Core Hotels or 800/567-7720.


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    South African Airways $807 Inaugural Fare

    South African Airways celebrates the July launch of its new route between Washington Dulles and Johannesburg, South Africa, with a special inaugural fare of $807. This special fare is valid for roundtrip travel in economy class and allows you the option of continuing service to Cape Town at no additional charge.

    The $807 inaugural fare is available on flights from Washington Dulles, departing July 2 through Aug. 15, 2005. A minimum five day stay is required, with a maximum stay of 30 days permitted. Tickets are non-refundable, not transferable and cannot be used for unaccompanied minors. Tickets must be purchased within 48 hours of making reservation, no later than Aug. 9. Fares do not include government imposed taxes, fees and charges of approximately $80 to $110. No frequent flyer miles are issued or upgrades permitted.

    South African Airways or 800/722-9675.


    Surfside Escape Special in B.C.

    The Surfside Escape special at Pacific Sands Beach Resort, located on the edge of Pacific Rim National Park, eight km (about five miles) south of Tofino, British Columbia, offers a mid-week deal that will have guests flocking to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

    Through June, you can choose between a beach-front two-bedroom villa or a one bedroom lighthouse suite at a special springtime rate for Monday through Thursday stays. All suites include kitchens, fireplaces and decks overlooking the waterfront property.

    The resort spreads over 45 acres along Cox Bay. Activities popular with guests include hiking, beach combing and whale watching during the annual grey whale migration in early spring. More energetic visitors can walk to Tofino and explore this artistic coastal village on a small harbor with funky waterfront eateries.

    Surfside Escape Specials start at $249 CDN per night (approx. $200) for the two-bedroom villas and $149 CDN (approx. $120) per night for the lighthouse suites. Stays of three nights or longer include fr.ee video rentals.

    Pacific Sands Beach Resort or 800/565-2322.


    New in Washington, D.C., Part I, story and photos by Kay Douglas

    Goddess of Liberty MarianneVisitors who haven't been to Washington, D.C. in several years will find exciting new museums and exhibits in the venerable capital city, which is experiencing an upswing after several somber years post 9-11.

    Last year marked the opening of two vibrant new museums downtown, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Marian Koshland Science Museum, while outside the Beltway at Dulles Airport, the massive Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a grand expansion of the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum, opened in December of 2003. Longer overdue, the World War II Memorial was dedicated on May 29, 2004, in a heartwarming celebration, and the Memorial has taken its rightful place as one of the Mall's major monuments. Additionally, 2003 witnessed the reopening of the National Archives, with state-of-the-art display cases housing the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and a complete revamping of the Museum of Natural History's aging mammal hall, the largest renovation the museum has undertaken since 1910.

    This month, we will explore the National Museum of the American Indian, the Marian Koshland Science Museum and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Next month’s article will focus on the World War II Memorial, the National Archives and the Museum of Natural History.

    National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)The National Museum of the American Indian -- The grand opening of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) last September was marked by a spectacular procession of native people in ceremonial garb and an entire week devoted to the First Americans Festival. So many visitors flocked to the opening ceremonies and to the museum that timed entry tickets were required as a form of crowd control for weeks following the museum's opening. Things are less hectic now, and visitors may enter this one-of-a-kind museum fr.eely. Take some time before entering to appreciate the outside of this unique building. It flows and curves in an organic manner and brings to mind southwestern cliff dwellings, with a sheltering overhang and materials that seems more wind-carved than man-made. Surrounded by pools of water, gardens, and even patches of Native American crops such as corn and squash, the building's exterior projects a timeless quality - even though it's practically brand new.

    Inside more wonders await. The interior is dominated by a vast round atrium, a sacred meeting place for ceremonies and dances. Eyes are drawn upwards along a series of progressive ringed structures forming a vast dome, culminating in a round skylight which floods the atrium with light. On the far side of the atrium, steps lead upward to each of the museum's levels.

    exhibit at National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)But the NMAI is much more than a pretty building; indeed, it was conceived as being for Indians as much as about them. It's a museum of living cultures, but it does double duty as a repository of nearly one million tribal objects. Of course not all of them are on display at any one time. In fact, the museum has been criticized for how little is on display and for the lack of context provided for the exhibits. Still, many displays are crowd pleasers, such as the display of gold objects from the New World and the darkened hall in which various Indian folk tales and creation myths are re-enacted on screens in intimate 'storyteller' spaces - a haven for restless children and tired parents alike. Another striking exhibit, Our Universes, explains the cosmologies and cultural philosophies of eight distinct indigenous groups. It's a fascinating look at how various Native Americans view the universe, but unfortunately it's housed in a rather small, convoluted space that doesn't lend itself to much visitor traffic. It's especially hard (or impossible) to navigate with those double-wide baby strollers favored by so many Mall visitors.

    The New Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport -- Space is emphatically not an issue at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located near Dulles Aiport in Chantilly, Virginia. This vast complex, named after its chief donor, is 10 stories high and three football fields in length and houses more than 103 aircraft and 122 large space artifacts. The recently completed Space Hangar contains the Space Shuttle Enterprise, flanked by space capsules, cruise missiles, Spacelab modules, rockets, and a galaxy of satellites and other space artifacts.

    Space Shuttle at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy CenterEntering the building from the parking lot ($12 fee for parking; entry fr.ee), visitors are immediately confronted with a striking tableau - what seems to be an aerial dogfight between two World War II-era planes. Below the dueling aircraft, a sleek R-71 Blackbird, the world's fastest and highest-flying "air breathing" aircraft, dominates the center of the building. Standing at the nose of the Blackbird looking beyond to the Enterprise in the Space Hangar, or looking to either side down the long aviation hangar filled with aircraft of every description provides one of those "wow" moments that lasts an aviation buff a lifetime.

    The museum is designed to display three levels of aircraft, with two levels suspended from the ceiling and another at floor level. Elevated metal walkways run along both sides of the Aviation Hangar, providing a 'bird's eye' view of aircraft. Stunt aircraft, vintage World War I and Word War II aircraft, modern fighter jets, numerous helicopters, and a variety of commercial and military aircraft are on display in the Aviation Wing. Some highlights include the famous (some would contend infamous) "Enola Gay" (a Boeing B-29 Superfortress), a gleaming silver Boeing 307 Stratoliner Clipper Flying Cloud (the first pressurized passenger airliner), the Dash 80 (prototype for the Boeing 707), and an Air France Concorde.

    Enola GayBut there's much more than aircraft and spacecraft at the new Air and Space Museum. Visitors can take an elevator to an observation tower to watch the air traffic coming into and leaving busy Dulles Airport, or take in an IMAX movie. There are flight simulators, a food court, and of course an impressive gift shop. Volunteers, including many retired pilots and aviation buffs, give guided tours and the staff generally goes out of its way to help and inform the public. Visitors who don't want to take on Washington traffic can ride a shuttle bus from the downtown Air & Space Museum to the Udvar-Hazy Center for $12 round trip. (Reservations are recommended; see website listing below.)

    The Marian Koshland Science Museum -- On a much smaller scale, but just as impressive in its own way, is the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences in downtown Washington. The 6,000-square-foot museum is short on space but long on content. What's striking about this museum is that it unapologetically presents complex and sometimes controversial scientific topics. Geared towards at least middle schoolers or older, this museum is a refreshing change from many other science museums, which typically are aimed at a grade school level. Here even a career scientist (such as my physicist husband) can find interesting displays that haven't been 'dumbed down' to the point of irrelevance.

    The first exhibit seen upon entering the museum is "The Wonders of Science," which explores such eternal mysteries as dark matter and the expansion of the universe. Next, the largest space is given over to an exhibit on Global Warming. The National Academy has taken an active political stance on this subject and this exhibit reflects the academy's conclusion: that global warming is a real problem that will become worse. State-of-the-art displays allow visitors to see how rising sea levels will affect different coastal areas such as Bangladesh, while impressive satellite imagery shows the changes over time in terms of development. The third and last exhibit, "Putting DNA to Work," explores how DNA technology is used by forensic scientists to solve crimes, by medical researchers to understand and cure diseases, and by plant geneticists to modify crops.

    Security Smarts -- The public face of downtown Washington has changed considerably in the past four years. Roads near sensitive buildings have been closed, armed guards and policemen are very much in evidence (Washington now has the biggest police presence of any U.S. city), and there are security checkpoints to get in every major and most minor public buildings. Save time by carrying as little as possible, foregoing the massive metal-detector-triggering belt buckle for the day, or designating one person to carry a backpack containing essentials. During peak periods, an 'express line' forms outside major museums for people who are not carrying bags or items which require searching.

    And please, don't be like the man I saw protesting vigorously to the guard who wanted the man to relinquish his seven-inch-long Bowie knife while he was touring the National Botanical Gardens greenhouse. Bear in mind that the rules for what can be taken into a Washington, D.C. museum or federal building are very much like those for boarding an aircraft.

    The National Museum of the American Indian

    Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum

    The Koshland Science Museum


    Vegas.com Summer Manic Monday Deals

    This Summer, Vegas.com cures the Monday blues with discounts when you depart at the beginning of the work week.

    A stay at the Egyptian-inspired Luxor includes nonstop airfare on America West and two nights on the Strip with an 8 p.m. checkout. Rates per person are: $148 from Los Angeles, $185 from Denver, $218 from Dallas-Ft. Worth, $268 from New York (JFK), $278 from Baltimore. An extra night costs $89 and if you’re traveling alone, the single supplement is $89

    The sample price is based on Monday departures July through August 2005 (except July 25). Prices do not include taxes and fees of up to $34 and Sep. 11 security fee of up to $10. When booking online, select the Luxor and depart on a Monday from any of the listed cities and the Manic Monday pricing will show up.

    Vegas.com.



    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.

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    Information & Credits

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