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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, May 2015 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2015 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff

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In This Issue:
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, WV

 photo transallegheny20front_zps9knmbgbu.jpg

  • Cambrian Lines Offers Discounts in Wales
  • Refund to Cruise Passengers in Mexico
  • $500 Savings on TourCrafters’ Italy by Train Package
  • Children Travel Free on Heathrow Express
  • Hilton Head Hotel Extended Stay Package
  • Free Air on Brand G Vacations Cruise
  • Myrtle Beach Summer Stay-and-Play Packages
  • Hurtigruten Summer Savings
  • Marriott International Millionth Mobile Sweepstakes
  • Free Car Rental with Hawaii Vacation
  • Nassau Paradise Island $250 Instant Savings
  • Calabash Cove 35% Off Plus Free Night
  • Tempest Tours Storm Chasers Discounts
  • Early Bird Ski Japan Specials
  • Great Safaris 50% Companion Discount
  • Round Hill Seasonal Offers
  • Sands at Grace Bay 4th Night Free
  • Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes
  • A Visit to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
  • Buccaneer, St. Croix Summer Family Packages

  • Cambrian Lines Offers Discounts in Wales

    Cambrian Lines offers discounts on several trips in Wales.

    The Cambrian Railways Partnership teamed up with some of the Great Little Trains of Wales to offer a 20 percent discount on standard day returns on these railways with a valid Cambrian Rail ticket.

    In addition to train service, many of the railways have amenities and attractions such as museums, shops, cafes, licensed bars and access to countryside walks.

    The Great Little Trains of Wales are a way to see some of the best scenery in the British Isles. All are narrow gauge steam railways and some have a history spanning more than 100 years.

      Some of the Great Little Trains of Wales include:
    • Corris Railway & Museum
    • Fairbourne Railway
    • Ffestiniog Railway
    • Talyllyn Railway
    • Vale of Rheidol Railway
    • Welsh Highland Railway Ltd (Porthmadog)
    • Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway.

    The 'Tip Top Trips' leaflet features 15 attractions in the county of Gwynedd who offer a 20 percent discount on admission or services for people who get there by bus or train.

    The 'Tip Top Trips' leaflet is available from local Tourist Information Centres and Staffed Railway Stations or you can download it online.

    The 'Cambrian Beaches and Bargains' leaflet features 19 attractions and beaches close to the lines who's admission is free or discounted to people who travel to them by train.

    The 'Cambrian Bargains and Beaches' leaflet is available from local Tourist Information Centres and Staffed Railway Stations and you can download it online.

    Cambrian Lines.

    Refund to Cruise Passengers in Mexico

    With offices in major cruise ports in Cozumel, Ensenada, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán, plus others, more than 98 percent of cruise passengers traveling to Mexico are eligible to receive an 8.9 percent refund on personal shopping expenses through MONEYBACK, Mexico's leading tax return company.

    More than four million cruise passengers are expected to visit Mexico in 2015. MONEYBACK provides a fast and easy way to get a refund.

    MONEYBACK offers cruise passengers an 8.9 percent refund of the total amount spent shopping in Mexico at any of the 6,000 affiliated stores. There is no limit when paying with credit card, but the minimum purchase required is $1,200 pesos (approx. $83 USD). Purchases in cash don't require a minimum but are limited to $3,000 pesos (approx. $200 USD).

    To file a refund, international travelers must request a VAT itemized invoice at 6,000 participating stores when making a purchase and submit it at the closest MONEYBACK office along with the shopping incentive refund form, credit card vouchers, copy of passport, cruise ID or immigration form and boarding pass, before leaving the country. In less than 45 days, cruise passengers will receive their refund directly to their credit card.

    MONEYBACK's tax refund service is an initiative created with Mexico's Ministry of Finance to increase tourism, incentive travel and shopping in Mexico.

    MONEYBACK's participating stores and locations.


    $500 Savings on TourCrafters’ Italy by Train Package

    With the dollar gaining strength and the euro losing it, traveling in Italy is a bargain this year. This is evidenced by the $500 per couple savings on TourCrafters’ 2015 Rome, Florence and Venice by Train package. Last year the same package cost $2,479 per person and this year it’s $2,229.

    The package includes an arrival transfer from airport to hotel, daily breakfast, four nights’ hotel accommodation in Rome, a 48-hour Hop On Hop Off bus tour, a walking tour of Rome, train from Rome to Florence, four nights’ hotel in Florence, a cooking class of Tuscan specialties with dinner, a full-day tour to Siena, San Gimignano and Chianti, a full-day tour to Cinque Terre, train from Florence to Venice, two nights’ hotel in Venice, and a walking tour of Venice.

    The four-star hotels are conveniently located. In Rome it’s the historic Hotel Quirinale. In Florence, it’s the Grand Hotel Baglioni, a former princes’ residence that overlooks the Duomo. In Venice, it’s the Hotel Royal San Marco steps from St. Mark’s Square.

    All prices are per person, double occupancy, do not include airfare, departure transfer or city tax, and are subject to availability. These prices are valid only on weekdays and are for four-star hotels. A package with three-star hotels is available at a lower price with lesser savings.

    TourCrafters Rome, Florence and Venice by Train package, and then click “Dates & Prices.” or 800/482-5995.

    Eurail New Pass Products

    Children can travel free on the Heathrow Express. The airport train’s 'Kids go free' offer is now a permanent fixture.

    This is part of the company's plan to increase the number of leisure travelers using the 15-minute service. The Kids go free offer applies to children under 16 accompanied by a parent or guardian.

    The Kids go free offer gives families heading abroad a break and welcomes families visiting Britain from overseas.

    Heathrow Express is non-stop train service between Paddington station and Heathrow. With its electric trains taking 15 minutes, every 15 minutes, it is the fastest, most reliable and most sustainable way to travel to and from Britain's hub airport.

    Heathrow Express.

    Hilton Head Hotel Extended Stay Package

    The Inn at Harbour Town, the 60-room boutique hotel at the Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head, SC, has an extended stay package with savings up to 15 percent for three- or four-night stays.
      The value offer includes:
    • 10 percent discount on three-night stays, 15 percent discount on four-night or longer stays
    • $50 resort credit redeemable for golf, dining and activities
    • Free valet or self-parking
    • Free adult bikes and reduced rates on children's bikes
    • Free internet service in rooms and resort areas
    • 10 percent off food and non-alcoholic beverages at resort’s restaurants and preferred reservations
    • 10 percent off full-priced items at the golf pro shops
    • Reduced rates at three golf courses, including Harbour Town Golf Links
    • Two hours of free tennis court time
    • Discounts on eco-adventures and activities
    • Free access to the resort’s fitness center and pool.

    On the southernmost tip of Hilton Head Island, the resort features five miles of beaches, 21 clay tennis courts, 14 miles of bike and walking trails, horseback riding, eco-adventures, water sports, outdoor pool and patio overlooking a golf course and the 605-acre Sea Pines Forest Preserve with wildflowers, wetlands and more than 130 species of birds.

    Sea Pines Resort or 866/561-8802.

    La Quinta Inns & Suites

    Free Air on Brand G Vacations Cruise

    Brand G Vacations offers a 10-day, all inclusive, all-Gay Costa Rica, Cartagena and Panama Canal cruise on Dec. 2 to Dec. 11, 2015.

    Book by May 15, 2015 and receive free airfare from Atlanta, Boston Chicago, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Canadian gateways include Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. For airfare arranged on your own, an air credit of $500 will be applied to your cruise reservation.

    When you book by May 15, 2015, you also receive paid gratuities, port charges, daily shore excursions and beverages that include beer, wine and house liquors 24-hours a day. The savings are worth more than $1,500.

    Rates start from $3,999 per person based on double occupancy.

    The ship departs from Cartagena and visits the San Blas Islands, sails the Panama Canal, visits the Darien Jungle and Coiba Island, Panama, proceeds to Golfo Dulce, Marenco, Isla Tortuga and Park Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica before disembarking in San Jose, Costa Rica.

    Brand G Vacations or 800/433-4303.

    Myrtle Beach Summer Stay-and-Play Packages

    Mystical Golf, owner and operator of the Witch, Man-O-War and the Wizard courses, offers two summer stay-and-play packages for “golf buddy” vacations.
    • June 1 to Sep. 9, 2015, the three-day Gold package starts at $96 (per person, per day, taxes included) and includes:
    • Three rounds with cart on each of the golf courses
    • One free round (course selection during booking process)
    • Three nights’ lodging in three-bedroom golf villas (four beds)
    • Free iHOP breakfast daily (available 24 hours per day)
    • Free steak dinner at Logan’s Roadhouse (includes non-alcoholic beverages, taxes)
    • Lunch and two beers free at the course each day
    • Free daily range balls
    • Fifteen dollar gift card toward a golf shirt
    • Instant replay round for cart fee only
    • Extra night stays available at moderate cost per person

    Over the same timeframe, the Silver package starts at $86 (per person, per day, taxes included) and features all the attributes of the Gold package except the free round, daily breakfast and steak dinner. Both stay-and-plays offer one free golfer for booked groups of 20 or more players.

    The Witch sits on 500 acres of cypress groves and wetlands. The par-71, 6,702-yard course has 4,000 feet of bridges winding through swamps (front nine) and rolling hills (back nine.

    Man-O-War’s back-to-back island greens and water features touch every hole. The par-72, 6,967-yard layout is offset by straight-forward shots and bent-grass greens.

    Reminiscent of courses in Scotland and Ireland, the Wizard at par-72, 6,721-yard presents deep bunkers, mound-framed fairways and elevation changes.

    Mystical Golf or 843/282-2977.

    Hurtigruten Summer Savings

    Hurtigruten offers incentives for select Summer 2015 departures to Greenland aboard the MS Fram.

    Save up to 38 percent with Hurtigruten’s Unspecified Cabin Guarantee - available when booking inside, outside or suite cabin categories. Or reserve an inside cabin and get a free upgrade to an outside cabins. And if air is booked through Hurtigruten, receive a $250 per person air credit.

    Hopes, hardships and heritage of the Intuit culture headline the Glaciers & Ice excursions on June 2 and July 3, 2015. During this 12-day journey, you have the opportunity to dog-sledge, hike among religious ruins and kayak. Weather permitting, activities are scheduled as part of daily landings that include Inuit towns and villages such as Qassiarsuk, a community with 56 people, known for the settlement of the Viking Erik Raude.

    Special fares for these dates are $5,982 per person, double, for cabins and $9,018 for suites.

    Beginning June 23, 2015, the 12-day Greenland: Climate and Ice itinerary allows you to collect data for a working Greenland ice sheet weather station with Dr. Jason Box. Back on board the MS Fram, Dr. Box will explain Arctic climate change and analyze results of the data collection. New ports include Qasigiannguit, Illorsuit and Qullissat. Early booking rates start at $6,550, representing savings of more than $4,000 per person off regular fares.

    The 12-day voyage to the “Land of the Midnight Sun” departs June 13, 2015, explores the Disko Bay area along Greenland’s northwest coast. Gain tips from photography experts while shooting landscapes, fjords and icebergs. Opportunities include Arctic landings in Polarcirkel boats, dog-sledging and seeing breaking icebergs. Along the way, you will be welcomed by Intuit communities, including Upernavik, a sparsely populated settlement. Reduced pricing begins at $7,195.

    Built in 2007, the 127 cabin MS Fram offers modern accommodations, casual dining and an intimate ship setting. You can relax in lounges, work out in the gym or sit in the on-deck Jacuzzi while passing icebergs.

    Hurtigruten or 877/301-3117.


    Marriott International Millionth Mobile Sweepstakes

    To celebrate its millionth mobile check-in, Marriott International holds a sweepstakes across its portfolio of brands.

    Through Dec. 31, 2015, Marriott Rewards members who check-in using the Marriott mobile app before a stay will be automatically entered to win Marriott Rewards points. To enter, you must be a Marriott Rewards or Ritz Carlton Rewards member and use the Marriott Mobile app to check-in for a stay at 3,000 Marriott brand properties in the US, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands that offers mobile check-in.

    With the Marriott Mobile App, check-in is simple. You can check-in after 4 pm the day before your arrival and you will receive an automatic notification when your room is ready. The mobile check-in feature is part of the free and updated Marriott Mobile App available in the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.

    Download the app here.

    Free Car Rental with Hawaii Vacation

    BOOK BY MAY 3 - - An ongoing deal from Pleasant Holidays could be the bait to make you visit.

    Pleasant Holidays’ current promotion is a deal that includes a free Hertz rental car. Book the package by May 3 for a travel through the end of July.

    The Hawaii Vacation sale includes a free mid-size Hertz rental car for up to five days (valid through June 7 and again Sep. 8 to Dec. 20, 2015) and a one-category car upgrade for up to seven days, only open to those visiting between June 8 and Sep. 7, 2015.

    To be eligible for the free rental car, you must purchase a three night stay at a participating hotel and roundtrip transpacific airfare.

    You can choose from 37 participating hotels and resorts on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii.

    In addition to the car rental, the Hawaii vacation packages include round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations and all the taxes, from $555.

    Pleasant Holidays or 800/742-9244.


    Nassau Paradise Island $250 Instant Savings

    Plan a trip to Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas, as their $250 Instant Savings Promotion returns. If you are planning to visit throughout 2015, take advantage of the Instant Savings offer for deals at some of the destination's most popular hotels and resorts.

    Book a minimum four-nights at any of Nassau Paradise Island's participating hotels by May 20, 2015 and receive $250 Instant Savings on air-inclusive packages. Travel can take place now through Dec. 18, 2015 while blackout dates are Nov. 22 to 27, 2015.

      The following participating hotels provide accommodation options for every budget and style:
    • Atlantis, Paradise Island
    • Best Western Bay View Suites
    • British Colonial Hilton Nassau
    • Comfort Suites Paradise Island
    • The Cove Atlantis
    • Graycliff Hotel
    • Harborside Resort at Atlantis
    • Melia Nassau Beach Resort
    • One&Only Ocean Club
    • Paradise Harbour Club & Marina
    • Paradise Island Beach Club
    • The Reef Atlantis
    • Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island
    • Sunrise Beach Club & Villas

    This offer is valid for travel originating in the U.S. and Canada.

    Nassau Paradise Island $250 Instant Savings.

    Calabash Cove 35% Off Plus Free Night

    Calabash Cove Resort & Spa in St Lucia offers a summer sale. Book four or more nights at this beachfront resort and receive 35 percent off off-season rates plus a fifth night’s stay at no additional charge. Make reservations by May 31, 2015, for travel through Sep. 30, 2015, to take advantage of this offer,

    The boutique resort feature ocean views from your porch or balcony. Choose from teak and mahogany Water’s Edge cottages on the beach, Swim-Up suites and Sunset Ocean View junior suites. All accommodations feature private Jacuzzis and many offer private plunge pools, hammocks and outdoor rain showers.

    Calabash Cove amenities include a secluded beach with loungers, a boardwalk, use of free kayaks, pool with a 40-foot infinity edge and swim-up bar, and full-service spa with treatments. Calabash Cove is home to Windsong Restaurant and C-bar with cocktails and wines from the Calabash Cove Cellars.

    Calabash Cove or 800/917-2683.

    Tempest Tours Storm Chasers Discounts

    If you ever dreamed about chasing violent weather storms in Tornado Alley, Tempest Tours may have a trip for you.

    Tempest Tours operates trip during prime tornado season through early July.

      Storm Chasing Tour Discounts and Savings
    • Discounts of $100 to $200 per person ($200 to $400 off per couple) for back to back booking storm chasing tours. Their Storm Lover's Special of $200 off your total for the season applies when you book two or more scheduled tours. Plus you receive free lodging for in between nights on consecutive tours.
    • A $100 discount is offered to return guests and you receive $100 for each new guest you refer. The referral discount is not available for double or group bookings or for members of the same household.

    Like airlines and hotels, Tempest Tours occasionally offers last minute deals one week prior to each tour. Last minute deals are posted on their registration page.

    Tempest Tours or 817/274-9313.


    10% Off Mosquito Magnet Accessories - Use Code MMACCTEN

    Early Bird Ski Japan Specials

    Ski Japan has opened its early bird specials for the 2015-16 ski season.

    Receive up to 20 percent off accommodation rates at cottages, townhouses, resort homes and apartments for your next snow holiday in Japan for selected dates.

    Book and pay by July 31, 2015 for accommodations Dec. 12 to 18, 2015, Jan. 23 to Feb. 4, 2016, Feb. 15 to 21, 2016, and Feb. 22 to Mar. 11, 2016.

    Book by Oct. 30 2015 for Nov. 28 to Dec. 11, 2015 and Mar. 12 to Apr. 24, 2016. Blackout dates are Dec. 19, 2015 to Jan. 22, 2016 and Feb. 5 to 14, 2015. Discounted rates are available while accommodations last.

    Ski Japan.

    Great Safaris 50% Companion Discount

    Great Safaris offers several itineraries in 2015 that offer a 50 percent companion discount.

    The Gift of the Nile itinerary is 12 days in Egypt that includes a Nile River cruise. The 50 percent companion discount is off the regular land rate. The Gift of the Nile discount is valid through the end of 2015 and is not combinable with any other offers. Some restrictions may apply.

    When booked by June 30, 2015, for travel through Oct. 15, 2015, the Tanzania Adventure offers a 50 percent companion discount. The safari includes stops at Lake Manyara, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

    The World's Greatest Romantic Adventure itinerary is an 11 day South Africa safari. Book the Romantic Adventure at any accommodation level and your companion travels at 50 percent off the regular land rate. The offer is valid for travel through Dec. 5, 2015 and holiday/seasonal supplements apply.

    Great Safaris or 800/409-7755.

    Round Hill Seasonal Offers

    Round Hill in Jamaica is one of three or four special Caribbean resorts that captivate. Their Forever Summer package, offers the fourth night free and a $100 resort credit. The offer also includes free WiFi and daily afternoon tea. Book by May 31, 2015 for travel through Dec. 16, 2015. Prices start at $399 per night and black out dates include Sep. 9 to Oct. 9, 2015 and Nov. 22 to 29, 2015.

    Round Hill’s Linger Longer and Save package gives you two free nights when you book a stay of seven months or more. The package also includes free WiFi, daily afternoon tea and a glass bottom boat ride. Book by May 31, 2015 for travel through Dec. 16, 2015. Prices start at $399 per night and black out dates include Sep. 9 to Oct. 9, 2015 and Nov. 22 to 29, 2015.

    Round Hill or 800/972-2159.

    Health to Happiness

    Sands at Grace Bay 4th Night Free

    Grace Bay Beach at the Sands at Grace Bay in Turks & Caicos offers a fourth night free deal combined with the resort’s reduced low-season rates from $195 per night for stays through Dec. 19, 2015.

    In addition to off-season rates and the fourth night free, you receive added-value amenities and freebies during your stay, such as: free use of watersports equipment including kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, snorkel gear and Hobie Cats; bicycles for island exploration; a Tuesday Manager’s cocktail party; three free-form swimming pools; and a tennis/basketball court.

    The resort’s studio and suite accommodations feature kitchens and appliances, dining and living room areas, screened-in balconies, washer and dryers (in most units) and free Wi-Fi.

    The fourth night free promotion is valid for new bookings made on all room categories at the Sands at Grace Bay, for consecutive stays of four nights or more started and completed through Dec. 19, 2015. The free night is not transferable or redeemable for cash, and is not applicable for groups.

    The Sands at Grace Bay.

    Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes

    Win a Disney Diamond or a Cinderella glass slipper, or a private excursion and dinner in Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park. Those are a few of the prizes that will be awarded during the Disneyland Diamond Days sweepstakes, part of the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration that begins May 22, 2015.

    Celebrating the 60th anniversary, Disneyland Diamond Days awards daily prizes as part of the Diamond Celebration. Each daily prize package includes an individualized tour of the parks with preferred access to select attractions, dining and VIP viewing at some of the new nighttime spectaculars. Daily prize winners must be present on the Disneyland Resort premises at the time of entry and at the time of prize redemption to enjoy the experiences. Theme park admission is not necessary to enter or win the sweepstakes. The sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. states, D.C., Mexico and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are age of majority as of date of entry. Specific prizes to be awarded in the weekly sweepstakes will be announced online the preceding week.

    In addition to the daily prizes, Disneyland Diamond Days will offer a weekly opportunity to win prizes and experiences. One prize is authentic diamonds, custom-engraved for Disney. One- and two-carat Disney Diamonds will be awarded throughout the celebration, and some will commemorate dates with significance to the Disneyland Resort. One-carat Disney Diamonds will be paired with a stay in the Disneyland Dream Suite.

    The Disneyland Dream Suite is a private apartment above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in New Orleans Square inside Disneyland. It was created using designs intended for a private apartment for Walt Disney. An overnight stay, including a view of Disneyland after park guests depart, is an experience enjoyed by a few prize winners.

    Weekly prizes include: a crystal Cinderella slipper with a diamond-and-topaz pendant; a private party in Fantasyland, a cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat, or a tailgate party in Cars Land. The available prize will vary each week.

    Full official rules will be available on May 22, 2015.

    A Visit to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum by Nicki and Harold Chodnoff

     photo transallegheny20front_zps9knmbgbu.jpg The massive building loomed before us as we came walked down the long drive toward the front doors. As we entered the facility on this gray June afternoon, the horizon sparked with lightning, thunder pounded as if someone was playing a drum and the sky opened up to soak the coal-rich hills of West Virginia with rain.

    Maybe it was the gloomy day. If ever there was a place that looked like the perfect setting for a horror novel, we were standing in front of it: the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV, formerly the Weston State Hospital.

    Nearly a quarter of a mile long and carved from native sandstone, the imposing Victorian-era mental hospital treated and mistreated, housed and incarcerated generations of the ill and the misunderstood.

    Dressed in 19th century nurse's garb, tour guide Sarah meets us in the grandiose, turquoise lobby, the only part of the building that visiting family members were allowed to see during the years patients were admitted.

    On weekdays, the historic tours are given every hour on the hour and every half-hour during weekends.

    Sarah leads us through the four-story building crowned with a majestic clock tower. By day, historical and sometimes architectural tours are offered. By evening, visitors can wander through the darkened corridors in search of the ghosts and spend the night.

    Constructed from 1858 to 1881, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was built following the Kirkbride plan, an enlightened for the time system of asylum design developed by 19th-century psychiatrist and mental-health advocate Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride.

    Kirkbride advocated open space, fresh air, sunlight and seclusion from urban pollutants sometimes considered the cause of certain mental illnesses. So the asylum had staggered, long rambling wings for an abundance of therapeutic sunlight and fresh air.

     photo sarah20leading20tour20of20first20floor_zpshws0cgqc.jpg Patterned after a country estate, the asylum was surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods, gardens and farmland. Patients were encouraged to work and help make the facility self-sufficient.

    Kirkbride advocated humane treatment of the mentally ill. As you walk through the first floor wing, the bright and airy 10 foot x 10 foot private patient rooms that held one patient per room looked as if they were part of a hotel. In the first-floor day room toward the center of the ward, the most trustworthy patients were allowed to use the singular door and go outside.

    The higher and further into the facility that we went, the worse the condition of the patient and in later times the worse treatment of the patient. As time moved on, funding declined and overcrowding, a lack of public interest, a lack of oversight plus many treatment fads led to scandalous conditions, neglect and incidents that fuel newspaper headlines and nightmares.

     photo first20floor20day20room202_zpsafdpf3wa.jpgSarah’s lecture on the history of the treatment of mental illness was riveting. Treatments once considered state of the art and now considered horrifying were routinely administered such as electroshock therapy, lobotomies and cold-water baths by doctors using ice picks or other “medical” tools. Patients who couldn't be controlled often were caged. It was chilling to picture children living their lives caged for their own protection and for that of others.

    The hospital repeatedly changed hands during the Civil War, ending up with West Virginia when it became a separate state. Originally intended for 250 patients, it housed nearly ten times that many during the 1950s.

    Sarah stops to point out the auditorium in the middle of the second floor, where the town's first movie was projected and the high school held its proms. It's a reminder that the asylum was once the lifeblood of Weston, a town of 4,200 in Lewis County that still feels the economic blow of the asylum's closure 20 years ago.

     photo crumbling20upper20corridors_zps5qjxdpha.jpg The hospital closed in 1994 and two decades later, much of the building's interiors could pass for Hollywood horror movie sets. Walking down the crumbling upper corridors, paint curls from the walls like badly burned skin. Narrow, rusty pipes cling to the ceiling and wood doors hang open at odd angles. It doesn't take much to imagine evil things lurking around the corners, behind the doors or in ceiling vents, watching or waiting to pounce.

    Some guides talk more about ghostly encounters. Sarah sticks mostly to the history of the place since we were on the historical tour. The history seems as chilling as the ghost encounters. Children with Downs’ syndrome or cerebral palsy were locked away, along with people with diabetes and epilepsy.

    Women were many of the incarcerated victims since they were considered chattel (property) in those days and didn’t have control of their lives. So if a husband wanted to control his wife’s inheritance, by golly, he had her deemed insane and locked up in an asylum for life.

    In fact, it didn’t take much to be locked up behind the facility’s walls. Reasons for admission from 1864 to 1889 included laziness, egotism, cold, indigestion and trouble.

     photo tala20-20doctors20quarters_zpsxlfkc8gw.jpg When we reached the seclusion cells, which once housed violent patients, Sarah pointed out the thick metal ring embedded deep in the wall. Patients were shackled to the ring so nurses could attend to them without fear of injury. We tested the heavy metal mesh of the inner door by pushing against it and it wouldn’t budge.

    Sarah said there were decades when the federal government packed rooms full of disabled veterans because they had nowhere to send them.

    To contrast most of the stark patient areas, Sarah took us through the plush superintendent’s and doctors living quarters. All staff lived on premises, from the janitors to the superintendent. Other than the doctors and superintendent, living quarters were sparse and cramped. In the tight nurses’ quarters, small rooms contained four beds for nurses. Eight women lived in each small room. Since they worked in shifts of 12-hours on, 12-hours off, two women shared a single tiny bed, one sleeping while the other worked and only got one day off a month. Nurse qualifications were more about appearance than education. Sarah recited the job description for nurses: must be 21 or older, unmarried, no children and plain looking. Nurses could only wear brown, black or dark blue clothes.

    After the hospital closed, would-be developers floated plans to rehabilitate the historic property. Some planned to turn it into a resort, a hotel or a casino. The plans never worked out and the property remained unused and decaying for more than a decade.

     photo afea0b07-870a-47dd-b23a-8e112838799d_zpswky1w3ts.jpg In 2007, Huntington businessman Joe Jordan bought the property at auction for $1.5 million and brought his children on to help him turn the former hospital around.

    Since her father purchased the property, Rebecca Jordan Gleason said they've been steadily making improvements, taming the wild growth on the grounds and repairing what they can or removing what they can't. Just keeping the lights on and taking care of basic maintenance costs a fortune for something the size of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

    After your tour is over you can go into several museum rooms of artifacts, stuff left when the facility was shut down, and an art gallery featuring patient pieces.

    If you are looking for more intrigue, sign up for overnight ghost hunts, lasting until 5 or 6 a.m. You’ll explore rambling wings of dark, dank corridors, the medical center (the onetime site for shock treatments and lobotomies), forensics quarters and geriatrics buildings. You’ll be in good company as paranormal investigators such as Syfy's “Ghost Hunters” and the Travel Channel's “Ghost Adventures” went looking for spooks and spirits. Now tourists have a chance to glimpse an apparition or encounter with disembodied voices and sounds.

    Proceeds from tours are used to restore and stabilize the massive property.

    Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum or 304/269-5070.


    Buccaneer, St. Croix Summer Family Packages

    St. Croix’s historic Buccaneer Resort offers summer family packages. Families booking two rooms get additional savings with the second room half off when traveling with children 18 and under plus kids (ages four to 12) stay free and get a free breakfast.

    Elizabeth Armstrong’s grandparents founded the Buccaneer in 1947 and the resort is celebrating its 68th anniversary in 2015. Armstrong is the Buccaneer’s owner and general manager.

    In the U.S. Virgin Island, three beaches provide the backdrop for days of snorkeling, kayaking, and lounging. The Buccaneer offers family-friendly amenities including connecting rooms and free kids camp with trained counselors, indoor and outdoor activities such as crab races and a treasure hunt, lunch and its own clubhouse.

    Other parent pleasers include free breakfast daily, free use of snorkels, floating mats and kayaks, a weekly party with steel pan music and Mocko Jumbie dancers, and welcome fruit and rum punch upon check in.

    With 138 rooms and suites, family accommodations come in several varieties. Each guest room fits up to five people, two adults and three children. Family cottage suites feature two bedrooms and one bath and a front lawn. Accommodations are in the pink Great House. Two swimming pools, three restaurants, a spa and fitness center, and a boutique make it a self-contained destination resort.

    The Buccaneer or 800/255-3881.

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