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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter
Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, June 2010 Issue



Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
http://www.onthegopublishing.com/currentissue.html
travelnewsletter@aim.com
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2010 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff


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black freshwater pearl necklaceA Profusion of Pearls

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In This Issue:
Bok Tower at Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, FL

Bok Tower

  • Breast Cancer Survivors Can Win Free Stay
  • easyBus Service from Gatwick to Earl's Court
  • Win First Carbon Neutral Wedding to Cook Islands
  • Fee Free Days to America's Great Outdoors
  • Naples Beach Hotel "Summer Value" Rates
  • Save Nearly 50% with Doral Stay & Play
  • Houston CityPASS
  • Marriott Members Can Earn Up to 60,000 Bonus Miles
  • Denver Launches Bike Sharing Program
  • Six Nights in Beijing $555 w/Air
  • Eco-Hotel's Free Meals for Energy Savings
  • China Guide Discount Show Tickets
  • Up to Two Nights Free at Cotton Tree
  • Azamara Club Special Europe Promotion
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Travel Deals
  • Westin Resort Aruba "Suite" Savings
  • Win a Trip for Two to Bonaire
  • Sunshine State Summer Savings for Residents
  • Girls Can Have Fun in Polk County Florida
  • 42% off Arizona Biltmore's Ocatilla Package


    • Breast Cancer Survivors Can Win Free Stay

      Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport, ME seeks breast cancer survivors for a free weekend to culminate their signature Dime for Time program. Launched in January 2010, the Dime for Time program pledges a dime for each guest who stays at the Captain Lord Mansion through Oct. 31, 2010. Dime for Time funds will be donated to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer awareness and research programs.

      If a guest stayed at the inn before, the dime will be doubled. If a guest visited 20 times, the dime will be multiplied by 20. The culminating Dime for Time program will be a weekend-long celebration of survival, where breast cancer survivors and their guests will be treated to hospitality. Space is limited.

      Breast cancer survivors interested in attending the free weekend should send their stories and why they should win a free weekend via email to innkeeper@captainlord.com and the Captain Lord Mansion's Facebook page before Sep. 1, 2010. Facebook entries are limited to 100 words or less. Emailed entries may be longer. All emailed entries must include the name, address, phone number and email address of the sender for consideration. Entries must be offered both on Facebook and via email for consideration. Facebook fans will help select those to attend the free weekend. All entries on Facebook will be anonymous.

      Those breast cancer survivors selected will receive a free stay at Captain Lord Mansion, Nov. 19 to 21, 2010. Each survivor selected may bring one adult guest and together they'll be treated to accommodations at the inn, breakfast each morning, one free spa service at the in-house spa, and a luncheon with the American Cancer Society where donations from the Dime for Time program will be presented.

      The Dime for Time campaign was created to honor the sister of Captain Lord Mansion co-owner, Bev Davis, who died of breast cancer.

      Captain Lord Mansion or 800/522-3141.



      easyBus Service from Gatwick to Earl's Court

      easyBus launched a new 24 hour service between London's Gatwick Airport and Earl's Court/West Brompton. Departures run in 15 minute intervals round the clock and operate non-stop. The new service can be booked for all travel dates throughout the summer.

      The 24 hour Gatwick to London direct service takes one hour and five minutes. The easyBus stop in London is located at the entrance to the Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, 200 metres from West Brompton Underground and 500 metres from Earl's Court, Warwick Road Underground. There are good connections with the Piccadilly and District Lines and the West London Link overground service gives easy access to the whole of London.

      As with all easyBus London airport routes, prices start from two pounds Sterling one way for early bookers who buy online. easyBus offers the cheapest way of getting between central London and three London airports: Gatwick, Stansted and Luton.

      easyBus London airport routes.


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      Win First Carbon Neutral Wedding to Cook Islands

      Cook Islands Tourism Corporation (CITC) and Pacific Resorts Rarotonga & Aitutaki celebrate their commitment to the environment by giving away the first "carbon neutral wedding." Eco-conscience brides and grooms from the U.S. and Canada are eligible to win the wedding in the Cook Islands. The winning couple can bring four family or friends to celebrate. Prizes includes roundtrip airfare on Air New Zealand from Los Angeles to the Cook Islands, accommodation for the bride and groom plus four guests, and an eco-friendly wedding ceremony and reception.

      To enter, go online to the contest site. Brides and grooms must submit, in 50 words or less, why they are the "ultimate green couple." Entrants will be judged on pertinence to theme, creativity, and inspiration. The Carbon Neutral Wedding contest runs through June 30, 2010.

      In addition to the eco-friendly destination wedding, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation will offset CO2 emissions generated from all trip components including accommodations, transfers and the wedding itself.

      The Cook Islands are a nine-and-a-half hour flight from Los Angeles and a two-hour time difference from the west coast.

      Cook Islands Carbon Neutral Wedding contest official rules and contest entry..



      Fee Free Days to America's Great Outdoors

      To mark the launch of America's Great Outdoors initiative, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced free admission days to many of the lands managed by the Department of the Interior.

      All national parks, national wildlife refuges and many areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management will offer free admission on June 5 and 6, Aug. 14 and 15, Sep. 25 (Public Lands Day), and Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).

      America's public lands offer opportunities to engage in healthy, outdoor activities, whether for a few hours or a few days.

      More details about fee free days and activities are available for:
      National parks
      National wildlife refuges
      Bureau of Land Management areas.



      Naples Beach Hotel "Summer Value" Rates

      Check the affordable "Summer Value" rates offered by the newly renovated Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Southwest Florida's only beachfront resort offering an on-site golf course, spa and tennis center. The resort sits on the white-sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, has a new beachfront pool complex with two new pools (opened in February 2010), and it is blocks from Naples' shopping and dining districts of 5th Avenue and historic 3rd Street South.

      "Summer Value" rates start at $149 per room, per night, and include accommodations in a newly renovated room, free use of two reserved beach chairs daily for two; unlimited tennis; access to the resort's spa and fitness center (with use of the exercise room, whirlpool, sauna and steam room); valet parking; afternoon tea and cookies daily; and free morning admission for children ages five to 12 to the Beach Klub 4 Kids supervised child activity program. The "Summer Value" rate is available through Oct. 2, 2010.

      In addition, visit through July 13, 2010 and receive a free round of golf (greens fees) per person, per night (for up to two people in the room) on the resort's golf course. While greens fees are free with this special rate, there is a cart fee of $25 per person, per round.

      The newly remodeled guest rooms and suites feature furnished balconies or patios overlooking the Gulf, grounds or golf course. Standard amenities include a flat-panel television, in-room refrigerator, two telephones with voicemail, modem access, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, in-room safe, in-room coffee, climate control, and security keycards. High-speed wireless Internet access is also available.

      The resort's standard summer room rates start at $190 per night, and in the winter start at $325 per night.

      Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club or 800/237-7600.


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      Save Nearly 50% with Doral Stay & Play

      The Doral Golf Resort & Spa, in Miami, FL, invites golfers of all skill levels to take a swing on their famous fairways. Tee off where the pros do and save nearly 50 percent.

      The Championship Unlimited Golf package includes accommodations, 18 holes on the Red, Gold or Jim McLean Signature Course, free replay rounds on same day, daily breakfast buffet, one introductory golf clinic, golf bag storage and unlimited driving range usage. Available through Oct. 8, 2010, rates start at $109 per person, per night, based on double occupancy. Single occupancy rates start at $159 per night. Room-only rates start at $139 per night, based on availability. Rates are for a garden view guest room and do not include tax or surcharges. Use promotional code G4X.

      The TPC Blue Monster at Doral getaway includes a two- or three-night stay, 18 holes on the TPC Blue Monster and the Great White with free replays on the Red, Gold or Jim McLean Signature Course, daily breakfast, one introductory golf clinic, golf bag storage and unlimited driving range usage. Book a three-night visit and receive an additional round on the Red, Gold or Jim McLean Signature Course. Available through Dec. 23, 2010, seasonal rates start at $169 per person, per night, based on availability. Rates are for a garden view room and do not include tax or surcharges. Use promotional code G4Y.

      Located on 650 acres, the 693 room resort includes 96 suites. All accommodations include individual balconies or patios, guest-controlled air conditioning, direct-dial telephone with two-lines for high-speed Internet or fax access, electronic safes with charging for your laptop.

      Doral Golf Resort & Spa .



      Houston CityPASS

      With the Houston CityPASS, good times come with a Texas-sized discount. Visitors who use CityPASS experience the city's biggest attractions for almost half off regular-priced admissions.

      ouston CityPASS costs $39 for adults (a value of $74.96) and $29 for kids ages three to 11 (a value of $56.72). Inside each Houston CityPASS ticket booklet are discount admission tickets to Space Center Houston (NASA), Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science and Houston Zoo, and a choice between the Health Museum and George Ranch Historical Park, and a second choice between the Museum of Fine Arts and the Children's Museum of Houston.

      Houston CityPASS can be purchased online or at any of the CityPASS attractions. It is valid for nine consecutive days, beginning with the first day of use.

      CityPASS ticket booklets are available for New York, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hollywood, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California and Toronto.

      CityPASS.



      Marriott Members Can Earn Up to 60,000 Bonus Miles

      Marriott Rewards members, who choose to earn miles with the Delta SkyMiles program, can earn up to 60,000 bonus miles for stays this summer. Members will earn 5,000 bonus miles per stay starting with the second stay through Sep. 6, 2010, up to a maximum of 60,000 bonus miles. That's in addition to base miles earned. A stay is defined as consecutive nights spent in the same hotel, regardless of check-in or check-out activity.

      Registration for the promotion is required.

      Bonus miles with Delta can be earned through stays at more than 3,200 Marriott International hotels around the world, including JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott and Marriott Vacation Club.

      Marriott Rewards has no blackout dates and points can be redeemed for hotel stays, frequent flyer miles, cruises, car rentals and brand-name merchandise.

      Registration for Marriott Rewards Delta Miles.


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      Philadelphia Eagles boys growth chart thumb NFL Team Branded Growth Chart

      A great keepsake to capture a child's growth through the years and show your team spirit. Available for all 32 NFL teams plus the Ohio State University, the large growth chart (54" long by 15" wide) easily hangs on any surface with removable adhesive tabs. A pink version for all 32 NFL teams is available for girls. The growth chart comes with 14 removable footballs that adhere directly onto the chart. Footballs, placed at the child's measurement each year, include a place to write the date and child's age, when measured, and a place for a photo!

      NFL team and Ohio State University growth charts are available at ke specialties llc



      Denver Launches Bike Sharing Program

      Some 500 new, red Trek bicycles are available for sharing at 40 stations around the Mile High City, all part of Denver B-cycle, the nation's first citywide bike-sharing program.

      Each of the three-speed Trek bikes comes with a wire basket, built-in light and lock. Denver visitors can purchase a $5, 24-hour membership with a credit card at any B-cycle station. After becoming a member, riders can pick up a B-cycle from any station and drop it off at any other station. All rides of 30 minutes or less are free and rides up to one hour are only a dollar, with prices going up from there.

      "The purpose of the program is bike sharing, not bike rental," states Richard Scharf, president & CEO of Visit Denver, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The bikes make it easy to get around town from one spot to another. You can pick up a bike at the Colorado Convention Center and drop it near the Denver Art Museum. Then, after seeing the museum, you can pick up another bike and ride it to a station near your hotel. You never have to worry about what to do with the bike, because you leave it at each destination and then pick up another one," he said.

      The Denver B-cycle bikes will be equipped with RFID chips and computers to track mileage, calories burned and carbon offsets. Riders can monitor their personal fitness and see their contributions to the City’s greening efforts to lower carbon emissions.

      Popularized in Europe and Asia where there are more than 50 cities with public bike-sharing systems, Denver follows on the heels of two other cities in North America that launched successful bike sharing systems in the past year - - Montreal in the summer of 2009 and Mexico City in the spring of 2010.

      Bikes stations are located in convenient spots downtown near hotels, on the 16th Street Mall, by museums, at the Colorado Convention Center, in parks and at shopping centers. Other stations are located in nearby trendy neighborhoods like LoHi, LoDo, Highlands, Cherry Creek North, the Golden Triangle Museum District and Old South Pearl Street.

      Denver B-cycle bike-sharing program.



      Six Nights in Beijing $555 w/Air

      China Spree Travel offers a fall/winter deal. Their newest and best deal is $555 for an eight-day (six-night) Beijing Free Style package that includes roundtrip, non-stop transpacific airfare from San Francisco on Air China, airport to hotel transfers, centrally-located four-star hotel accommodations and daily buffet breakfasts. The price is $855 non-stop from New York/JFK.

      China Spree provides accommodations in the centrally-located Huabin International hotel. Since "free style" means you are more-or-less on your own, it's nice to have a hotel that's convenient to sightseeing attractions, restaurants and shopping. The 464-room Huabin International is a 10 minute walk to Tiananmen Square. Some rooms have a view of the Forbidden City. All rooms are equipped with LCD TVs with satellite channels, broadband Internet access, central air conditioning, mini-bar, telephone, hair dryer, coffee maker and in-room safe.

      Optional tours that include meals are available. Optional tours include stops at Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall of China, the Ming Tombs and the Temple of Heaven, a rickshaw tour of the city's hutongs, or traditional neighborhoods, with visits to a courtyard-style home and flower market and a meal with a local family.

      The $555 price is for departures Nov. 1 to Dec. 6, 2010 and January to mid-March 2011. Per person, double occupancy prices are the cash discount rate and subject to availability. They do not include departure taxes and a fuel surcharge of $319. Add-on air fares are available from other U.S. cities.

      China Spree or or 866/652-5656.


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      Eco-Hotel's Free Meals for Energy Savings

      A Danish hotel offers a free meal to any guest who can produce electricity for the hotel on an exercise bike attached to a generator. The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Copenhagen says the idea is to get people fit and reduce their carbon footprint. Guests staying at the Crown Plaza Hotel will receive meal vouchers worth $36 once they produce 10 watt hours of electricity. To produce 10 watt hours of electricity it takes roughly 15 minutes of cycling for someone of average fitness.

      The hotel already produces renewable energy with solar panels on its facade.

      The bicycles have iPhones attached to the handlebars measuring how much power is being generated for the hotel.

      The offer will be valid until April 2011. If successful, the electric bicycle meal program will extend to all Crowne Plaza hotels in the United Kingdom.



      China Guide Discount Show Tickets

      The China Guide offers discount show tickets to performances in Beijing including acrobatics, Kung Fu and Peking opera. Providing discount tickets helps you stay within budget while getting a chance to experience all that Beijing and China offers. These performances showcase China's history in a modern way that is entertaining for all ages. The China Guide offers prices below the box office rate for all shows any day of the week.

      The China Guide's discount ticket pricing includes an English speaking guide who will meet you at the theater and personally deliver the tickets. The more tickets you purchase, the bigger the discount. The China Guide can include nightly show tickets as part of a Beijing or China itinerary or book them independently.

      The China Guide is an American owned and operated Beijing-based travel agency.

      The China Guide.



      Up to Two Nights Free at Cotton Tree

      The Cayman Islands' first boutique cottage hotel, Cotton Tree, offers up to two free nights during 2010 stays through October 2010 - your sixth and 12th night is free. Individual cottages are $650 per night.

      Located on the northernmost point of Grand Cayman, 10 minutes from Seven Mile Beach, accommodations are in one of Cotton Tree's four 1,600 square foot, two-bedroom beachfront cottages that resemble fully-equipped houses. Contemporary furnishings include plasma TVs, appliances, a media library of books, music and DVDs; breakfast items pre-stocked in the cottages; WIFI and local calls; fresh fruit; bicycle rentals; Wii and roundtrip airport transfers. Amenities include a freshwater swimming pool, fitness center, yoga and spa pavilions. The complimentary nights promotion is available through Oct. 31, 2010.

      Cotton Tree or 345/943-0700.



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      Dallas Cowboys kleen kit thumb NFL Team Branded kleen kits

      Fight against bacteria and flu germs with National Football League team branded hand sanitizer kleen kits. Produced by ke specialties llc, a kleen kit consists of a 2 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, an 8 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer and a 40 count canister of wipes, available for all 32 NFL teams plus The Ohio State University.

      The 2 ounce bottle (TSA approved for 3-1-1 carry-ons) or 8 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer easily fit into a pocket, purse or back pack and the 40 count canister of wipes can be used at home, while tailgating or at work.

      NFL team and Ohio State branded kleen kits are available at ke specialties llc.



      Azamara Club Special Europe Promotion

      Azamara Cruises' special offer of two-for-one fares on all sailings through March 2011 continues, on bookings for select cruises made by June 30, 2010. You will receive an onboard spending credit of $500 per booking and a $500 per person ChoiceAir credit.

      The new offer applies to bookings for Azamara Club Cruises' European voyages through Nov. 10, 2010 on Azamara Journey, and voyages through Nov. 20, 2010, on Azamara Quest. The offer is applicable to new, individual bookings in North America, in all categories except Club Interior staterooms.

      When you take advantage of this offer, you receive new, inclusive amenities just introduced on both ships.

      Now, on every voyage of the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest you will be offered free, vintage red and white wines at lunches and dinners; bottled water, sodas, specialty coffees and teas, in public venues or in staterooms and suites; housekeeping, dining and bar staff gratuities; shuttle bus service to and from port communities, where available; entertainment and enrichment programs; specialty dining in Prime C and Aqualina specialty restaurants (free for suite guests; stateroom guests are charged a $15 per person cover); English butler service in suites; self-service laundry, and concierge services.

      Among the European destinations, this year there are nine first-time ports of call for Azamara: Bastia, on Corsica; Chania, Crete; Korcula, Croatia; Katakolon, Greece the gateway to Olympia, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics; Skiathos, Greece; Zakynthos, Greece; Trieste, Italy; Gijón, Spain; and Liverpool, England.

      Azamara Club Cruises or 877/999-9553.



      Blue Ridge Parkway Travel Deals

      As the Blue Ridge Parkway celebrates 75 years in 2010, Virginia invites you to join in the fun with travel deals on a classic road trip, where you can connect with loved ones, enjoy outdoor adventure and history. The parkway stretches 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains.

      The following is a sampling of Virginia's affordable travel packages celebrating the parkway's 75th anniversary. Packages are valid through Dec. 31, 2010.

      Natural Bridge Hotel & Conference Center, Natural Bridge, VA - The package includes one-night accommodations, breakfast and passes to Natural Bridge and Trail, Monacan Indian Living History Village and Natural Bridge Caverns and museums. Prices start at$129 per night for two people and $169 per night for groups of four.

      Best Western Waynesboro Inn & Suites, Waynesboro, VA - Features a 30-minute aerial tour by plane of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Eagle's Nest Airport(maximum three guests) and includes one-night suite accommodations with mountain views and breakfast buffet. Prices start at $139.99 per night, based on double occupancy.

      Mariners Landing, Smith Mountain Lake, VA - Book five nights at the standard rate and receive two additional nights free. This package includes furnished condominiums, lake access and daily express breakfast. Rates start at $156 per night and depend on room type and date of visit.

      Belle Hearth Bed and Breakfast, Waynesboro, VA - The B&B is in downtown Waynesboro, at the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Package includes one night accommodations, welcome basket, breakfast and dinner, private wine tasting, outdoor yoga facing the mountains, picnic lunch by the river and two 60-minute massages. Package starts at $385 per night.

      Shadow Mountain Escape, Luray, VA - These timber frame cabins rest on 15 acres bordering park land. All cabins include hand-crafted timbers and rock work. A pond, stream and nature trail offer outdoor recreation. This package includes accommodations for up to eight guests, a bonfire under the stars and a welcome basket filled with treats and jam. Price starts at $1200 for two nights.

      Click here for a complete list of package deals, and a chance to win a six-night vacation for four on the Blue Ridge Parkway or 800-VISITVA.



      Westin Resort Aruba "Suite" Savings

      The Westin Resort, Aruba, offers a "Suite Family" getaway, allowing mom, dad and the kids extra space to spread out and relax. Nightly rates start at $399 for an ocean view suite with one king bed and one full sleeper sofa, accommodating four people.

      The $399 nightly rate is per room, based on stays of four to six nights. Nightly rates start at $379 for stays of seven nights or longer. The offer is based on availability and does not include tax or service. The "Suite Family" package is valid through Dec. 18, 2010. Ask for rate plan SUITFB when booking.

      The package also includes a daily $100 food and beverage credit and a 50 percent discount off of additional resort view rooms, perfect for larger broods or inviting extended family along. Discount for additional rooms will be credited at check-in.

      While vacationing, children and families can take part in fun, adventurous and educational activities ranging from building sand castles and seashell hunts to iguana feeding and coconut bowling.

      Organized playtime for adults include a Taste of Aruba with Balashi Beer, Mix Your Own Mojito or Create Your Own Caipirinha.

      The entire family can reconnect with activities such as movies under the stars, fireside storytelling and stargazing, complete with professional telescopes. Daytime adventures include snorkeling, kayaking or visiting the nearby Arikok National Park.

      Located on seven and a half acres on Palm Beach , the newly refurbished resort features 481 guest rooms and suites, eight restaurants and lounges, the Casablanca Casino, a spa and nearby golf. The resort is seven miles from Queen Beatrix International Airport and five miles from downtown Oranjestad.

      Westin Resort, Aruba or 877/822-2222.




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      $20 Off Promotion

      Win a Trip for Two to Bonaire

      If you like to dive or snorkel among pristine coral reefs in the Caribbean or explore nature on a mountain bike or hike through a national park, then don't miss this opportunity to win a trip for two to Bonaire. Enter the contest online to be part of "Celebrate Our Planet Week." You can enter the contest through Aug. 1, 2010.

      "Celebrate Our Planet Week," part of Bonaire's fourth annual Bonaire Dive Into Summer program, is a week-long event taking place Aug. 22 to28, 2010, recognizes the importance of preserving the environment, particularly for Bonaire and their Marine Park.

      Log onto the official website of Bonaire and fill out the form to win a vacation for two people this August that includes a seven night hotel stay at Captain Don's Habitat Bonaire, six days of unlimited shore diving and free airfare on Continental Airlines.

      The four month Bonaire Dive Into Summer program, from June 1 to Sep. 30, 2010, features activities for divers, adventurers and sun seekers. It offers you the option to take part in special dives and clean-ups, eco-oriented activities and festivals.

      Located 68 miles east of Aruba, the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire offers year-round sunshine, low annual rainfall, pristine coral formations and a thriving fish population. Bonaire's eco-adventures include scuba diving and snorkeling, windsurfing, kiteboarding, mountain biking, sea and mangrove kayaking, horseback riding, landsailing, nature tours, hiking, bird watching, sailing, deep sea and bone fishing.

      Click here to enter the Dive Into Summer contest and contest rules.



      Sunshine State Summer Savings for Residents

      Ocean Properties, Ltd. Hotels, Resorts & Affiliates offers Florida residents summer savings at its 12 Florida-based Marriott hotels through Sept. 30, 2010.

      Floridians can enjoy special rates that include breakfast for two and late checkout. Children 12 and under get free breakfast as well. Rates are based on availability. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. When booking, request promo code FXL.

        You must show a valid Florida driver's license or other Florida ID upon check-in to qualify for the following rates.

      • Courtyard by Marriott Ft. Lauderdale/Coral Springs and Courtyard by Marriott Lake Buena Vista at Vista Centre $84 per night.

      • Courtyard by Marriott Boynton Beach $94 per night - In Palm Beach County near the beach, shopping, dining and more.

      • Courtyard by Marriott Naples and Springhill Suites Tampa/Westshore Airport $99 per night.

      • Residence Inn Delray Beach $110 per night - Steps from the beach and Atlantic Avenue boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and nightlife.

      • Courtyard by Marriott Bradenton/Sarasota Riverfront and Courtyard by Marriott Hutchinson Island Oceanside $119 per night.

      • Marriott Delray Beach, Marriott Hollywood Beach, Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort and Residence Inn St. Petersburg/Treasure Island Beach $135 per night

      Ocean Properties, Ltd. Hotels, Resorts & Affiliates Florida Residents Savings or 866/258-7249.



      Girls Can Have Fun in Polk County Florida - - Article and photos by Nicki Chodnoff

      trail ride Westgate River Ranch Cindy Lauper was right. Girls just want to have fun. But they want to have fun on a budget. So more girls of all ages are getting away to relax and de-stress with their female friends and relatives. The trend is known as a girlfriend's getaway and there is a way to getaway on a budget.

      That's where Polk County, which encompasses 2,000 square miles in central Florida, comes in. Just a short hop from Orlando Airport and the Magic Kingdom, you are always close to one of the county’s 554 lakes, gardens, wildlife and nature, scrumptious cuisine, shopping and golf and still stay within your budget. Like the ads say it is "Real Florida, real affordable." The county has more than 8,000 rental vacation homes and condos, fully furnished with two to six bedrooms. Or you can get more service and hospitality by staying at a bed and breakfast inn such as the Stanford Inn in Bartow.

      A logical place to start a Polk County getaway is at Outpost 27. Before you leave home, the web site can help you find accommodation deals, places to stay and lots of suggestions for things to see and do. Once in central Florida, Polk Outpost 27, on Highway 27 a half-mile south of I-4 at exit 55, gets you going with a video overview of the county and a taste of nature with a freshwater fish tank with fish from local waters and a putting green to practice your swing. Exhibits display the area's natural beauty and information on parks, wildlife viewing areas, water and recreational sports, attractions, the arts community and cultural offerings, history of the area's cattle and citrus industry plus places to eat.

      When spending time in Polk County, be sure to include a visit to Hollis Gardens. The 1.2 acre botanical garden donated to the city by the Hollis Family is within historic Lake Mirror Park in the heart of downtown Lakeland. The Promenade around Lake Mirror is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while Lake Mirror Park was dedicated in 1999 and Hollis Garden opened in 2000.

      Air boat ride at Westgate River RanchLakeland's marketing slogan is "Close to Everything and Away From It All" and that's how you feel spending time at Hollis Garden. The formal neo-classical European design garden is packed with beautiful plants that change to provide color throughout each season. This garden tells a story of Florida agriculture as you move through 16 theme rooms filled with Florida natives, annual hybrids, perennials, fruits, vegetables or herbs used as ornamentals. Flowers are organized into rooms of specific color, such as the red, yellow or white room. Neatly pruned hedges define the rooms with carpets of Bermuda grass.

      In addition to the thousands of flowering plants and historic trees there are water features and sculpture plus a commanding view of Lake Mirror. Along with a relaxing interlude, you may come away with a greater knowledge of plants. Hollis Garden is operated by the Parks and Recreation Department of Lakeland and the garden is free to the public and open Tuesday to Sunday. Plus you can arrange a free tour on weekdays by calling 863/603-6281.

      While in Lakeland, you'll notice swans everywhere: in the lakes and sculptures in front of businesses throughout the downtown. The unofficial mascot of Lakeland, the white muted swans found in many lakes are descendants from a pair donated by Queen Elizabeth in 1957.

      Polk County, Florida holds many surprises. Who knew that you can unleash your inner cow girl at an authentic dude ranch, Westgate River Ranch, in River Ranch, FL. In Florida's cattle country that's an hour from Orlando, you'll find the 1,700-acre spread off dusty River Ranch Road offering everything from the chance to join cattle drives, horseback riding, nature hikes, air boat rides, swamp buggy rides, barn dances and a Saturday night rodeo.

      Alligator in Kissimmee RiverOne of our Westgate River Ranch activities is a one-hour air boat ride on the Kissimmee River, where you can view alligators, bald eagles and deer. The headwaters of the Everglades begin at the Kissimmee River, which runs 300 miles to Lake Okeechobee in south Florida. The air boat ride is the real deal. It's all natural, nothing pretend or mechanical.

      Once the huge motors rev up, the air boat barely skims over the grass and water, it's like floating on air. We zoom around the river, quick turns kick up the spray as we weave in and out of grassy patches and past hidden coves. Our guide spots a mammoth alligator laying on the grassy banks, so we motor to the bank for a closer look. His monstrous jaw juts open revealing a toothy two-inch razor sharp grin. We must not look like an afternoon snack since the gator slithers off the bank into the water. We move on. While on the look out for wildlife we float among water lilies, pass cattle drinking and munching grass by the water's edge and snowy white egrets flapping six-foot wings.

      We next spend an hour horse back riding with Ray Duncan, a cowboy and rodeo rider with the scars and tales to prove it. Winding trails on Westgate River Ranch's 1,700-acres blend with the 100,000 acres of protected wildlife preserve that surrounds the ranch. Before we head out, Ray matches your mount to your riding experience. Sure and steady 12 year old Zeb was my ride. While Slow Bo was given to Angie, a novice rider. Ray trusts Slow Bo so much he said the only way you could fall off Slow Bo was to jump.

      Getting back to I-4 takes us to the Fantasy of Flight Museum. Owner Kermit Weeks assembled one of the world's greatest vintage aircraft collections . You start with a sight and sound immersion by walking down the fuselage of a paratroop plane and stepping out as if about to make a parachute jump. You walk through a series of exhibits taking you from man's earliest attempts to fly and the trenches of the Western Front in World War I.

      Outdoor hangar Fantasy of Flight MuseumLastly you are at an airbase as a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber "Piccadilly Princess" undergoes maintenance for its next mission. Reputed to be haunted, you can climb inside through the aft hatch and walk through the bomber. When you pass the waist gunner positions and hear the sounds of machine gun fire, you get the sense of what it must have been like flying in World War II on a bombing mission.

      Once you leave the tour, you can amble through the main museum which consists of two, large open-air hangars packed with around 40 beautifully restored rare aircraft. Some rare, some from the dawn of flight including a Mustang, a Spitfire and a Liberator bomber.

      As you enter the museum, you expect to stay an hour or two. You can easily spend most of the day taking in the tours of the wood shop, metal shop, trying the hang glider or hot air balloon demo, tram tours and flight demonstration.

      For the adventurous, open cockpit Stearman joy rides operate from the same airfield, but are a separate charge. During the flight, you can take the controls of the bi-plane and fly yourself for awhile on a 30-minute flight.

      One of Florida's original tourist venues, Bok Tower Gardens, is a blend of nature's raw beauty and the sculpted harmony of a formal garden created by Edward Bok, former editor and publisher of Ladies Home Journal. Designed by architect Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., the son of Frederick Law Olmstead who designed New York's Central Park, the gardens delight the senses with more than 128 manicured acres that became a National Historic Landmark in 1929.

      making citrus candy Davidson's of DundeeThe centerpiece of the gardens is Bok Tower, a 205-foot spiraling bell tower made of coquina stone and marble. Tiles on the tower depict birds, plants and Florida wildlife representing the balance in nature. Known as the singing tower, the art deco and neo-Gothic masterpiece houses a massive carillon, an assembly of cast-bronze bells that play melodies. Concerts from the 60-bell carillon are featured daily at 1 and 3 p.m., while inspiring recorded carillon music fills the garden every 30 minutes.

      Also on the grounds is the 20-room Pinewood Estate, built around 1932 as a winter retreat occupied several weeks during the winter. The estate is considered a fine example of Mediterranean Revival architecture and retains many of its original furniture and furnishings.

      Satisfy your sweet tooth at Lang Sun Country Groves, which started in 1951 as a family owned citrus stand. It's now so popular it's been featured on the Food Network and the Travel Channel. The gift shop, where you can buy and ship home fresh from the grove oranges and grapefruits, is next to the Taste of Florida Cafe. Be sure to try their signature dessert, grapefruit pie, or their equally delicious strawberry shortcake, a concoction of sweet berries under mounds of whipped cream. If you can still move after all that delectable dessert, you can tour Lang's citrus packing operation.

      If your sweet tooth just won't go away, one of the sweetest attractions is Davidson's of Dundee. They started by growing, packing and shipping Florida's tree-ripened citrus fruits. Glen Davidson started making candy by mixing citrus juice and sugar cane. Before long, people were asking for his citrus candy. Now an established part of the business, you can watch the citrus candy being made with wooden paddles on marble slabs as seen on the Food Network and the Home Shopping Network. They also make marmalade and jelly from their own fresh grown and packed citrus fruits. After watching citrus candy, marmalade and jelly being made, you can get some mouth watering samples.

      Of course there is shopping, a staple of many girlfriend getaways.

      Bok TowerBarn Antiques, the Stable Gifts and the Back Porch Restaurant in Lake Alfred seem like they are in the middle of nowhere, but once you get there it is worth the trip. Barn Antiques is a true antique store with great antique furniture and a wide selection of stain glass. Depending where you live, you may view prices as steep or a bargain, (note that they don't negotiate) but the pieces are unique. If you don't find the antique you are looking for, there is a decorator accessory shop and a garden center. If shopping makes you hungry, not to worry. The Back Porch restaurant is a terrific place to have lunch. Eat inside or outside with a water view. Food is served from a picnic basket and I found portions just right. Everyone seems knowledgeable and friendly.

      You can easily miss Lake Alfred's downtown area. but its architecture and antiques shops and specialty shops are worth the stop. Stores such as Potpourri Antiques and Lake Alfred General Store are filled with treasures from the past and unique gifts.

      A vibrant downtown in Winter Haven is again the heart of commercial and public activity. Restaurants, the downtown nightlife scene, shops and the library are some of the 77 businesses in the historic downtown business area

      These are a few of the many things to see and do in Polk County. I think you'll find, as I did, that Mickey and Minnie Mouse are minutes away, but you won't miss them.

      Vacation Home Wiki

      Staying at a vacation home is not exactly like staying at a hotel. It's probable that you won't have a dedicated desk, computer or business center. That work's great for leisure travelers, but may not be great for business travelers.

      Unless you pay an additional fee, you probably must make your own bed and there's no change of towels or bed linens. Our vacation rental in Victoria Woods in Providence Golf Club in Davenport offered by Contempo Florida Holidays, caters to British tourists. There were no wash cloths in the bathroom, no tissues in the house and amenities were sparse - only shampoo and soap. Before you decide where to stay, check out what they offer.

      In this part of the world, most vacation homes have a three-night minimum stay. If you're a golfer, some houses have golf course privileges included in the rental price so a golfer can play a round of golf for $20 per person, whereas the average tourist pays about $90 per person to play a round on that golf course.

      Another option is staying at a bed and breakfast. Stanford Inn Bed and Breakfast, a beautiful 1906 Victorian home in the quiet historic district of Bartow, has seven beautifully decorated guest rooms, each very individual and filled with antiques and collectibles. The quiet, centrally located inn can be home-base for your getaway.

      For more information, contact the Central Florida Visitors & Convention Bureau or 800/828-7655.



      42% off Arizona Biltmore's Ocatilla Package

      A getaway to the Arizona Biltmore can be what you want at a price you want with the resort's all-inclusive package. The package represents a 42 percent savings. Mention code P5 for the "Exclusive All-Inclusive" package.

      The package features accommodations and free amenities and services of Ocatilla at Arizona Biltmore, along with a program of summer activities and events.

        The package is $249 per night through Sep. 10, 2010 and includes:
      • Ocatilla Club room with the amenities of the Ocatilla Lounge
      • Continental breakfast each morning in the lounge
      • Lunch for two
      • Dinner for two
      • 50 percent off spa a la carte services
      • Free self parking
      • Resort charge

      Ocatilla is a "hotel within the hotel" where you enjoy the benefits of the Biltmore plus additional personal services and free amenities, including club accommodations, a private pool and the Ocatilla Lounge extras. These include light dining, snacks and wines by the glass, concierge services, chair massages and therapeutic turndown bath.

      Summer activities include wine tasting and cigar rolling to family options such as "S'mores" marshmallow roasts with a cowboy balladeer sing-along and "Dive-In Movies," where feature films are projected onto a large screen while you float in the Paradise Pool. The Kids Korral program offers supervised sports, games, arts and crafts for children five to 12 years old. A summer camp features tennis instruction by a USPTA pro, swimming, games and more for kids five to 16 years old.

      The resort offers eight swimming pools including the Paradise Pool with its 92-foot waterslide, swim-up dining, pool valets and private cabanas; two 18-hole golf courses and an 18-hole putting course; seven tennis courts; basketball; hiking; biking and a full-service spa and fitness center.

      Arizona Biltmore's "Exclusive All-Inclusive" Ocatilla Package or 800/950-0086.



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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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