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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, July 2005 Issue


Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
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ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2005 
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In This Issue:
Approaching the Canadian Rockies

Approaching the Canadian Rockies

  • Walt Disney World Savings
  • Leno Tix
  • Free Passport From Sunburst Vacations
  • Britain Offers Value, Part II
  • New Sonesta Sao Paulo Hotel $69, Lima $55
  • Priority Club Bonus Points
  • Stay a Spell Coupons, Chances for Prizes
  • Stricter ID Checks
  • Eurotunnel Slashes Fares
  • Round Hill at Extraordinary Rates
  • Fly Free with Country Hearth Inns' Offer
  • El Al Business Class Summer Fares
  • The Right Sunglasses for Summer
  • Power Pass Expands Offerings, Adds City
  • Sea Pines Lowcountry Loafin' Rate
  • Win Prizes at La Quinta and Baymont Hotels
  • Riding the Rockies by Rail by Nicki Chodnoff
  • Air France Detroit Launch Offers Bonus Miles/Reward Tickets

  • Walt Disney World Savings

    HURRY, BOOK BY JULY 3 -- Thanks to a special offer that must be booked by July 3, you can save nearly 30 percent off the non-discounted price of the "Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining" this fall at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL. The vacation includes hotel room, theme park tickets and dining, all for one rate.

    The price of $425 per adult, based on adult double occupancy in a standard room, includes five nights at a select Disney Value Resort, admission to a WDW theme park on each of six days, the Disney Dining Plan providing one counter-service meal, a select snack and one table-service meal per person, per night of the package. You can choose from more than 100 WDW restaurants.

    If you arrive by air at Orlando International Airport, Disney's Magical Express service provides free roundtrip ground transportation and luggage delivery to your room.

    Other benefits include Extra Magic Hours, in which one of four WDW theme parks opens one hour early or stays open up to three hours later, allowing extra time in the parks to experience select attractions.

    Kids can stay, play and dine, too. With this package, you can add up to two children in the same room for $168 per child ages 3 to 9 or $209 per junior child ages 10 to 17.

    The "Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining" is good for stays most nights Aug. 21 to Oct. 4, 2005. The number of packages available is limited. You can get special pricing on packages with other lengths of stay or at Disney moderate- or select deluxe-category resorts. http://www.

    The Walt Disney Travel Company or 407/939-7713. Ask for booking code YMP.


    Fr.ee Leno Tix

    Universal Studios Hollywood teams with the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to provide visitors with tickets to the late-night talk show. A limited number of fr*ee Priority Seating passes for the following week's shows are distributed on Fridays on a first-come basis. The only other source of Leno tickets is the NBC "Tonight Show" box office.

    If you still want to see a taping of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, you can get tickets by mail or in person at the box office. Attending a taping is fr*ee.

    For the full Tonight Show experience, there's nothing like picking up tickets in person at the NBC box office which opens 8 a.m., Monday through Friday. On an "average" day, get to the box office by 6.30 am. Depending on the popularity of the guest and season (summer is usually busier), you may want to get there earlier. Tickets are distributed to family, friends, and other "VIPs" of the show, further decreasing the number of tickets available to the general public.

    Here are a few things to do before you line up at the box office: Dress appropriately; mornings, even in summer, can be cold. Bring a distraction such as a book, newspaper, radio, or friend. Bring more bodies to get more tickets; NBC limits 2 tickets per person. Bring money. The box office is inside the NBC store, so you may want to buy NBC show memorabilia. Even if you don't want to buy souvenirs, you might want to purchase tickets for the studio tour. (Note: Tonight Show tickets are fr*ee; studio tour tickets aren't). Bring a camera. Fans of NBC soap operas will recognize that outside the box office is the working set to Days of Our Lives.

    If writing for tickets by mail, send a self-addressed stamped envelope with a brief letter listing the desired date of taping and three alternate dates to: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno -- Tickets, 3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91523

    Here’s what NBC suggests or requires at the box office: You must arrive to wait in line before 4 p.m for the 5 p.m. taping. Sometimes the show tapes earlier if Jay has to dash off to Las Vegas or has other plans. Sometimes it tapes later. Most online sources suggest arriving early, by about 2:30 p.m. No cameras are allowed and the minimum admission age is 16 with I.D. required. Tickets are issued as "Ticket distribution is in excess of studio capacity," which means a ticket does not guarantee admittance!

    The NBC box office is at 3000 W Alameda Ave, Burbank, CA, 91505.


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    Fr*ee Passport From Sunburst Vacations

    Book a seven night vacation to any of Sunburst Vacation’s destinations and receive a fr*ee passport. You must book this offer by Aug. 30, 2005 for travel through April 30, 2006.

    By Dec. 31, 2005, a passport will be required for anyone traveling to the Caribbean or Bermuda as a way of improving US border security.

    The "Passport Rewards" was created in response to this new law. This new law affects all travelers including children. Any family purchasing an all-inclusive seven-night vacation will be reimbursed the cost of two children's passports.

    Lastly, as a bonus, for every Sunburst Vacation booked through 2015, you receive these travel benefits: in 2006 $50 vacation rebate per room, 2007 fr*ee travel gift, 2008 fr*ee resort experience or dinner for two, 2009 fr*ee roundtrip limousine service from your home to airport, 2010 fr^ee private island tour for two, 2011 fr^ee piece of luggage, 2012 fr^ee private transfers to your hotel, 2013 fr^ee one-day car rental, 2014 one f^ree spa treatment or round of golf, 2015 fr^ee passport renewal for two.

    Sunburst Vacations or 800/SUNBURST.


    Britain Offers Value

    Britain offers diverse experiences at affordable prices for U.S. travelers in England, Scotland and Wales. In part II of this article, VisitBritain, the national tourist office, highlights ways to save on accommodations, attractions, dining, entertainment and travel within the country.

    Attractions

    Museum lovers should take advantage of the fr.ee admission at the National Museums and Galleries in England, Scotland and Wales. There are 238 f.ree museums and galleries in London, 11 in Scotland and eight in Wales.

    The Great British Heritage Pass enables you to explore historic sites by allowing unlimited entry into nearly 600 castles, stately homes and gardens in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The pass costs $50 for four days, $75 for seven days, $95 for 15 days, and $130 for 30 days.

    The London Pass grants fr.ee entry to 50 attractions, and special offers such as discounts at restaurants and theaters. The pass also enables you to avoid lines at popular attractions. The pass has an option for sightseers to secure fr.ee access to public transportation on buses, tubes and trains. The one-day pass costs £12 (about $23).

    The Edinburgh Pass provides fr.ee access to participating attractions and public bus transportation around Edinburgh and the Lothians. The pass also gives discounts in shops, restaurants, theaters and a guidebook outlining special offers. The pass costs £26 (about $51) for one day, £34 (about $66) for two days, and £40 (about $78) for three days.

    The Cardiff Welcome Card offers unlimited discounts to top attractions, restaurants and shops in Cardiff, Wales. The card also enables you to travel around Cardiff and Penarth. The cards cost £7 (about $15) , £11 (about $21) and £15 (about $40), depending on the length.

    The Original London Walks uses knowledgeable and friendly blue badge guides to inform you about the history and interesting facts about London. The company has more than 300 walks through London, Explorer Days, one-day sightseeing tours to Bath, Cambridge, Canterbury, Cotswolds and Oxford, Hampton Court, Stonehedge and Salisbury.

    Dining options

    Savor fine fare at affordable prices with prixe fix three-course lunch and dinner specials at participating restaurants in Britain. Many restaurants offer lower priced dinner menus for early afternoon or ‘early-bird’ specials. In addition, restaurants located near theatrical productions offer pre- and post-dinner specials for additional savings on the fine dining experience.

    Gastropubs are the biggest things to happen to British food and drink in the last few years. They provide a relaxed alternative to traditional dining without compromising on the quality of food. Gastropubs are pubs serving high quality food. Noteworthy gastropubs include the Eagle (London), the Drewe Arms in Broadhembury (Devon), the Punch Bowl Inn at Crosthwaite (Cumbria), Crinan Hotel (Argyll, Scotland), the Harbor Inn, Bowmore, (Islay, Scotland) and the Foxhunter at Nant-y-Derry (Wales).

    Several chains such as Benjy’s, Boots, Mark & Spencers, Pret A Manger, and others have a wide selection of take-away food items at affordable prices. Look for tasty items such as sandwiches, salads, soups and such on the menu.

    Travel within Britain

    bmibaby, a subsidiary of British Midland Airways, is a low-cost airline with flights to Birmingham, Cardiff, Durham Tees Valley, Manchester, and Nottingham East Midlands. The airline is an affordable way to travel within Britain. For example, bmibaby has roundtrip flights from Cardiff to Edinburgh for £6 (about $15).

    BritRail provides value for money and the flexibility to explore and travel by train within Britain. BritRail has several pass options, senior citizen and student discounts, and 25 percent discounts during the winter.

    easyJet.com is a low cost airline carrier serving Britain and Europe. easyJet.com keeps costs low with online bookings, etickets, and e-mailing passengers travel information. For example, a one-way flight from London to Edinburgh can cost as little as £12.99 (about $25).

    Megabus.com, a low-cost bus service, offers online bookings for travel in Britain. For £1 (about $2), travel to and from Birmingham to London, Bristol to London, Cardiff to London, Portsmouth to London, Glasgow to Edinburgh and Manchester to Leeds.

    Ryanair is a low cost, no frills airline serving Britain and Europe. It is known for offering a limited number of fr.ee tickets if you cover costs for airport surcharges and taxes. Ryanair offers roundtrip flights from Glasgow to London for £.69 (about $1.33).

    Sample fares can change with the fluctuation of the dollar and do not include tax. The low fares are on a first-come, first-serve basis and must be booked online.

    VisitBritain or 877/899-8391.


    New Sonesta Sao Paulo Hotel $69, Lima $55

    Sonesta Hotels & Resorts' newest addition in Brazil is the Sonesta Sao Paulo Ibirapuera, located in Moema, one of Sao Paulo's most fashionable neighborhoods. The hotel offers 310 rooms, a business center, indoor valet parking, lobby/news shop, fitness center, indoor heated pool and massage room. Introductory rates, valid until Aug. 1, 2005, start from $69 per night and include breakfast.

    Another good Sonesta deal is at the Sonesta Posada del Inca Miraflores in Lima, Peru. Special rates, valid through Dec. 31, 2005 start at $50 per night for a standard single and $55 per night for a standard double, which includes a breakfast buffet.

    Sonesta Hotels & Resorts or 713/961-3000.

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    To get your Fr-ee Fun San Diego, click here to send us an email. We will email you a secure, Paypal payment link for the $1 handling fee. Once that’s received, we will email you the San Diego Fr-ee Fun brochure.


    Priority Club Bonus Points

    InterContinental Hotels gives its loyalty program members added incentive to travel this summer. Through Aug. 31, 2005, Priority Club Rewards members can earn 2,000 bonus points or 500 bonus miles for every second qualifying stay at any InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn and Resorts Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites worldwide. Guests at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites earn an additional 1,000 points or 250 miles for every qualifying stay. Members can earn a maximum of 20,000 bonus points or 5,000 bonus miles.

    To participate in the promotion, first register online or call prior to staying at any of the more than 3,500 locations worldwide. Enrollment in Priority Club Rewards is fr.ee.

    InterContinental Hotels or 888/560-5660. Indicate promo code 3238.


    Stay a Spell Coupons, Chances for Prizes

    Through Sep. 15, 2005, when you check into TripRewards affiliated hotels in the U.S. and Canada, you can receive a Bewitched movie- themed coupon booklet valued at more than $250 as part of the 'Stay a Spell' promotion. Affiliated Cendant hotels include Super 8, Days Inn, Ramada, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Wingate Inn or AmeriHost Inn hotel in the U.S. or Canada or any Travelodge hotel in the U.S.

    Coupon offers include a fr.ee car rental upgrade and discounts on shopping and entertainment. During the promotional period, TripRewards members can enter a sweepstakes for daily and monthly prizes. Every day during the period, TripRewards will give away gas cards valued at $100 each in the 'Stay a Spell' online instant win game. Four times during the period, TripRewards members can win one million TripRewards points.

    TripRewards members can redeem points for hotel stays, with no blackout dates, or partner rewards including airline tickets, resort vacations, electronics, home appliances, sporting goods, movie and theme park tickets and gift certificates from 46 retailers and restaurants. TripRewards membership is fr,ee.

    Cendant Hotel Group 800/367-8747.


    Stricter ID Checks

    What you need to enter and move around the U.S. may be subject to more restrictive rules in the name of homeland security.

    Drivers’ licenses may become more difficult to get. Passports may be needed more often. These may be the most significant changes in travel routines since Sep. 11, 2001.

    Some say the changes are geared toward controlling illegal immigration not fighting terrorism. Others argue that those two efforts are inextricably linked and that the U.S. has to start somewhere, given the number of undocumented people that cross the nation's borders every year.

    What may affect the most people is to make it more difficult to obtain driver's licenses. Historically, the rules and regulations regarding driver registration were left to each state, which totally issue some 70 million licenses a year. Today, getting a driver’s license usually requires simply proof of age, plus a few other basic forms of ID.

    Under the Real ID Act, attached to the $81 million emergency spending plan for Iraq and Afghanistan, applicants for driver licenses must prove they are in the country legally. They also must provide a valid Social Security number, home address, and photo identification.

    This step is controversial, decried as everything from a back-door attempt to establish a national ID card, to a way of making U.S. roads less safe by forcing undocumented workers further underground.

    Critics call it an anti-immigrant move more than an antiterrorism one. Homeland security changes should focus on priorities such as getting the FBI a computer system that works. Under the new rule, some of the Sept. 11 hijackers would have licenses.

    Driver's license changes may not be the only thing that will take more documents to obtain. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will require airlines to ask for passengers' full names and birth dates when selling tickets. Ticket-buyers won't be required to provide this information. But if they don't, there will be a much better chance of being pulled aside for extra security screenings before boarding.

    The full name and birthday changes are cited as a way to keep people from being confused with others who have the same or a similar name and are on terrorist watch lists, said TSA officials. It will also help them implement Secure Flight, a computerized passenger screening program set to enter tests this August.

    Also, new rules proposed by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security will require Americans returning from nearby destinations, such as Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, to show passports on reentry. Previously, returning from these destinations did not require such documentation.

    Under the rules, which haven’t been adopted, U.S. travelers coming from the Caribbean and Panama would need passports beginning Jan. 1, 2006. A similar requirement for return from Canada and Mexico would be phased in over subsequent years. Cruise lines and other modes of travel to the popular islands south of the U.S. are unhappy about this change.


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    Eurotunnel Slashes Fares

    Eurotunnel is overhauling its passenger shuttle service, the biggest change since the opening of the Channel Tunnel 11 years ago, with budget airline-style fares.

    Passengers will be able to book low-cost return fares from £49 per car if they buy their tickets early or travel at off-peak times. Frequent travelers can get a rate of £39 per car for an off peak single journey. There will also be more flexibility to change travel times once bookings have been made.

    The move will hopefully stop revenue shortfalls and declining passengers as the Anglo-French company tries to negotiations with creditors over its debt burden. Eurotunnel says that without a deal, it will be forced into bankruptcy by Christmas.

    Presently, the shuttle runs day and night with up to four trains an hour running in each direction at peak times. During heavy periods such as the summer high season the service is full. At off-peak times, trains may be five percent full, with three or four cars using a shuttle train that can transport up to 180 vehicles.

    Eurotunnel.



    Round Hill at Extraordinary Rates

    As Round Hill Hotel & Villas in Montego Bay, Jamaica, continues its "beautification" program, the hotel offers a full-service villa experience at extraordinary rates Sep. 1 through Oct. 7, 2005.

    Rates, all quoted European Plan, provide a great savings over regular rates. They include a two bedroom villa at $400 per night for up to four people (regularly $1,200 during winter); three bedroom villa at $600 per night for up to six people (regularly $2,120 during winter); four bedroom villa at $800 per night for up to eight people (regularly $2,540 during winter); and a five bedroom villa at $1,000 per night for up to 10 people (regularly $3,440 during winter). All rates include tax and service charge.

    For an additional $100 a day per person, all meals, cooked and served by the villa staff, will be included and each villa will be stocked with soft drinks, water, Red Stripe beer and red/white house wine. Other alcoholic beverages may be pre-ordered by guests.

    Each villa is set on a hillside in the midst of secluded tropical gardens with panoramic views of the sea. Each comes with its own staff and swimming pool.

    The restaurant and main bar will be closed during this period while Round Hill renovates its Pineapple House rooms. Balconies will be added to the rooms and bathrooms will be appointed by Waterworks. A new main swimming pool will be constructed at the same time. Room service or afternoon tea will not be served but other facilities, including the tennis courts, Spa, and beach bar, will be open. The new rooms will be available Nov. 1 and the pool will be available Nov. 20.

    Round Hill Hotel & Villas or 800/972-2159.



    Fly Fr,ee with Country Hearth Inns' Offer

    Stay three nights at any of the nation's Country Hearth hotels and you can purchase an airline ticket from $239 and receive the second companion ticket for fr,ee. It's all part of the chain's "Fly Fr,ee With Me" summer promotion, which runs through Sep. 1, 2005.

    Participation in "Fly Fr,ee With Me" automatically enters you into the Country Club frequent guest program, where in addition to the fr,ee companion airfare, members who stay 10 nights are awarded the 11th night for fr,ee.

    To receive a fr,ee companion air ticket, complete a "Fly Fr,ee With Me" registration form, available at all Country Hearth properties, and send it with your hotel receipts for three nights (from any Country Hearth hotel through Sep. 1, 2005). You will receive a certificate registration acknowledgment and easy next-step instructions for booking.

    "Fly Fr,ee With Me" is valid on most major airlines. In addition to coach and first class tickets, upgrades may be available. Travel must be completed within one year of the date of issue and blackout dates may apply. The promotion is subject to certain terms and conditions.

    Country Hearth Inns or 800/848-5767.


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    The pre-numbered, one-time use plastic padlocks are the perfect way to protect your luggage since they cannot be reinstalled once removed. That feature lets you instantly know if someone tampered with your luggage. Yet when TSAs at airports need to inspect your luggage, Baggage Guard Seals can be easily removed. A package of 10 Baggage Guard Seals is still only $9.95.

    Click Here to Order from On The Go Publishing.


    El Al Business Class Summer Fares

    EL AL, Israel' s national airline, offers summer savings for Platinum business class tickets between New York (JFK or Newark) that are trimmed more than 30 percent. From July 3 through Sep. 9, 2005, business class passengers pay $2,176 roundtrip (including fuel surcharge), per person, when flying nonstop on select flights from JFK or Newark to Israel.

    EL AL business class passengers enjoy amenities such as spacious seating, upgraded cuisine and access to full service lounges. After an expedited check-in, business class passengers can relax in the King David departure lounges in Terminal 4 at JFK and in Terminal 3 at Ben Gurion Airport, which feature a Business Center with private workstation equipped with telephones and computer modems.

    To receive the above fare on select flights, you must reserve at least 30 days prior to departure and must be ticketed within seven days of a confirmed reservation. Tickets are valid seven to 60 days and are non-refundable once issued. $79.65 applicable taxes are not included. Other restrictions may apply.

    EL AL or 800/223-6700.



    The Right Sunglasses for Summer

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology (the Eye M.D.s Association) urges Americans to protect their eyes by wearing sunglasses -- the right kind of sunglasses.

    Dark sunglasses may actually cause more harm than good if they don't have proper UV protection. When you wear dark sunglasses, your pupils enlarge to allow light in. If your sunglasses don't have proper UVA protection, you may be letting in the sun's harmful rays instead of keeping them out.

    Studies show that exposure to bright sunlight can increase the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration, both leading causes of vision loss among older adults. The more exposure to bright light, the greater the chance of developing these eye conditions, said Martin Mainster, M.D., Academy spokesperson.

    Here's how to protect your eyes:

    Select sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays. Don't be deceived by color or cost. The ability to block UV light is not dependent on the darkness of the lens or the price tag.

    Ideally, your sunglasses should wrap all the way around to your temples, so the sun's rays can't enter from the side.

    In addition to your sunglasses, wear a broad-rimmed hat to protect your eyes. Don't be fooled by a cloudy day. The sun's rays can pass through the haze and thin clouds.

    Even if you wear contacts with UV protection, remember your sunglasses.

    In addition to the damage caused by a lifetime of exposure to bright sun, you need to protect your eyes from acute damage caused by single outings on very bright days. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light reflected off sand, snow or pavement can damage the cornea, the eye's surface. Similar to a sunburn on your skin, corneal ultraviolet injuries are painful, but usually heal quickly.



    Power Pass Expands Offerings, Adds City

    Travel Fun Card Ltd. offers Power Pass as an economical way for tourists to see the most popular attractions in Las Vegas, New Orleans and Honolulu, HI. Expanded venues in Las Vegas and New Orleans provide more ways and places to save.

    Adding Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage, the Titanic Exhibit at the Tropicana, the IMAX Movie at the Luxor and the Atomic Testing Museum of Las Vegas, allows visitors to tour all of the city's top attractions. The attractions join participants such as Manhattan Express roller coaster at New York, New York; Madame Tussauds Wax Attraction; the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art; Star Trek: the Experience; the Luxor's King Tut Museum, In Search of the Obelisk and more.

    In New Orleans, Power Pass attractions now include Six Flags Great Adventure. It joins the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Audubon Zoo, Louisiana Children's Museum, Mardi Gras World and Natchez Steamboat Cruises.

    Power Pass Honolulu marks the first time an attraction card has been offered in an exotic locale.

    Using Smart Card technology, the credit card size Power Pass provides admission to visitor attractions. It minimizes the time spent buying tickets and waiting in line and maximizes savings through special discounts and offers.

    A complete listing of attractions and offers are on the Power Pass website.

    Power Pass.



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    Cheap Tix Chart
    Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theater productions, films, and sporting events. Discounts can be 50 percent or more. On The Go Publishing’s Cheap Tix Chart, still only $14, lists outlets in the U.S. and eight foreign cities that sell discounted, day-of-performance tickets. Click here to order the Cheap Tix Chart from On The Go Publishing.

    Sea Pines Lowcountry Loafin' Rate

    The Sea Pines Resort, along the southern tip of Hilton Head Island, welcomes summer with a Lowcountry Loafin' rate. Through Aug. 31, 2005, a two-bedroom villa starts from $189 per night, based on a minimum four-night stay. Advanced reservations are required, based on availability and the rate is non-transferable.

    The Sea Pines Resort offers five miles of Atlantic beaches, 23 clay courts, 54 holes of golf on three courses, 18 restaurants and more than 50 lagoons and lakes. Accommodations range from ocean-side villas, beachfront cottages, homes and the Four-Diamond luxury Inn at Harbour Town.

    The Sea Pines Resort or 800/732-7463. Ask for the "Lowcountry Loafin'" rate.


    Win Prizes at La Quinta and Baymont Hotels

    This summer, La Quinta and Baymont hotels say "thank you" by giving you a chance to win hundreds of prizes. Through Aug. 15, 2005, when checking-in, you will receive a web decoder with your room key that will allow you to play the "Instant Win" game online. Register at a designated website and use your decoder to determine if you are an instant winner. Each week, 100 prizes will be given away from La Quinta and Baymont.

    La Quinta Inn & Suites will give away Kodak EasyShare digital cameras, fr-ee seven nights of resort accommodations in popular destinations and fr-ee night certificates for any La Quinta.

    Baymont Inn & Suites will give away Dell DJs portable MP3 players, fr-ee seven nights of resort accommodations in popular destinations and fr-ee night certificates for any Baymont Inn & Suites.

    Everyone wins because once you register online, you will receive a coupon for$10 off your next stay when booked online that is valid until Dec. 30, 2005 and a f-ree 8"x10" print from Kodak Gallery.

    La Quinta Inn & Suites, Baymont Inn & Suites, Kodak Gallery.


    Riding the Rockies by Rail by Nicki Chodnoff

    Rocky MountaineerWhen Canada was four provinces strong, the country was brought together with two ribbons of steel: the transcontinental rail. Today, highways cris-cross Canada and rail travel has almost disappeared. But don't write rail travel over just yet. When traveling from the Pacific Ocean through Canada's Rocky Mountains, the 600 mile journey becomes more important than the destination when it includes the clickity-clack of a train rolling down the tracks and the lonesome wail of a train whistle.

    You can experience such a journey aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, on what's been described as the most spectacular train trip in the world. During two days, you pass ocean and desert, bridge countless rivers and breathtaking canyons and tunnel through awe-inspiring mountains. The final stop arrives much too quickly. To maximize sightseeing, the entire journey is made during daylight hours.

    Fraser ValleyAt daybreak, we boarded the train in Vancouver. As rush-hour traffic blocked city streets, the Rocky Mountaineer slowly slipped away headed toward the verdant Fraser Valley.

    For tourists, the vast majority from the United States, England and Australia, the vignettes of history coupled to the scenery are delivered by on-board attendants who present interesting and amusing trivia. Amazingly, only about 10 percent of passengers are Canadian.

    Gold Leaf CoachActivity on board the train: enjoying the scenery and wildlife, dining on fine cuisine and chatting with people from around the world. The GoldLeaf Dome Coach, a full-length, bullet shaped glass-domed car, offers unobstructed views of the panorama surrounding you and reclining seats with acres of leg-room. The RedLeaf coaches have only large picture windows, yet still offer wonderful views.

    RedLeaf guests are served meals at their seats, while GoldLeaf guests descended spiral staircases at the rear of the car to the dining level, where breakfast and lunch are served. Goldleaf dining is like a five-star restaurant with linen on tables, polished silverware, sparkling stemware and fresh flowers on each table. The menu offers three or four entrees, usually highlighting Alberta beef or West Coast salmon, Okanagan wines, beverages and desserts. The meals are prepared on the train by chefs in state-of-the-art galleys.

    Vestibules are located at the rear of each car, offering riders a chance to smell the fresh mountain air and take in the views. Like a few others, I spent much time riding there, sticking my head out looking for that perfect photograph, like a dog in the back of a pickup truck. Nature seems much closer on the train than when traveling by car.

    Since the train has no sleeper cars, we spent one night in Kamloops, a city in a semi-arid desert in central British Columbia. Nightlife for some passengers is an old-fashioned musical review about Billy Miner, a notorious American train robber apprehended near Kamloops in 1907. Others opt for dinner and an early light's out, preparing for the morning's early start.

    Day two starts with a parting of the ways. Some of the train cars follow the North Thompson River toward Alberta's Jasper National Park. The Jasper train passes Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at about 13,000 feet.

    Approaching the Canadian Rocky MountainsThe remaining cars continue toward Calgary during a day filled with anticipation of the mountains to come. The train serpentines through ranch lands and tiny railroad towns. We follow the South Thompson River through the picturesque lakes of British Columbia's Shuswap region. West of the Revelstoke, the train crosses the spectacular Stoney Creek Bridge 325 feet above the creek.

    High desert leads to alpine splendor. The Columbia Mountains with their granite castles start the precession, sculpted by relentless cascades of ice. We sweep past the Cariboo Mountains, the Monashees, Selkirks and Purcells as they straddle the Continental Divide before the winding trail into the majestic Rockies.

    The approach to Lake LouiseThe Rocky Mountaineer rises from sea level in Vancouver to the Continental Divide at Stephen, the trip's topographic high point at 5,331 feet. The last leg of the trip, as we pass through the village of Lake Louise toward the town of Banff, where our train ride ends, was the most spectacular. The magical mountain scenery surrounds you and the train seems to float by about the speed of a ripple caused by tossing a small rock in a placid lake.

    Yes Banff, our final stop, arrived much too quickly. Our new anticipation was staying at the stately Banff Springs Hotel and spending a day at Lake Louise.

    Rocky Mountaineer Vacations offer more than 40 different packages with a variety of destinations such as Jasper, Banff and Calgary.

    Rocky Mountaineer Vacations or 800/665-7245.



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    Air France Detroit Launch Offers Bonus Miles/Reward Tickets

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    Information & Credits

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

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