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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter
Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, July 2010 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2010 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff

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In This Issue:
Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge

Multnoman Falls

  • Thompson's Water Seal VIP Sweepstakes
  • Get more for Less at Moab
  • Hurtigruten 25% Off in the Wake of the Vikings Cruise
  • Goodyear Summer Driving Tips
  • Pigeon Forge "Taking Vacation Back" Campaign
  • Chicago Free Events and Hotel Rates
  • $5000 Facebook Promotion and $109 Anniversary Deal
  • Up to Half Off at Castle Resorts & Hotels Hawaii
  • Eyeglass Paradise in Beijing
  • Summer Sale on Crystal European Voyages
  • AdventureSmith 2-for-1 and Run-of-Boat Specials
  • Kids Vacation Free at Occidental Hotels & Resorts
  • Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa BOGO
  • Fly Free to Miraval Arizona
  • Free Transportation on Baltimore's Circulator
  • 2AFRIKA 2011 Safari Sale
  • Eat, Stay, Love Special at Atahotels
  • Palace Resorts $1,500 Vacation Dollars
  • The ABC's of Portland, OR by Kay Douglas
  • Kids Play Free at Myrtle Beach Golf Courses

    • Thompson's Water Seal VIP Sweepstakes

      From the Everglades to the Cascades and from herds of buffalo to flocks of endangered birds, America's National Parks are a wonderland of stunning, unique scenery, wildlife and experiences.

      The Thompson's Water Seal 2010 VIP Sweepstakes salutes Very Important Places, offering the winner the chance to choose the National Park they would like to visit. That's 392 sites in 49 states. The sweepstakes prize, valued at $5,000, includes roundtrip coach class airfare for up to four people, hotel stay for four evenings, rental car for five days and $1,000 spending money. You can entry online until Oct. 4, 2010.

      Thompson's Water Seal offers two ways to help raise $75,000 for the National Park Foundation, for repair and preservation projects at America's National Parks:

      The company will donate $1 per gallon ($1 per bottle for concentrated formulas) for most of their line, when you purchase products for your deck makeover or home improvement project (up to $50,000).

      The Web site soon will include a "Donate Now" icon where the company will donate $1 per click (up to $25,000).

      Thompson's Water Seal VIP Sweepstakes.

      Get more for Less at Moab

      Consider Moab, UT if you are looking for a vacation value. For $10, you can explore Canyonlands or Arches National parks for seven days. For $25, you have unlimited access to these parks plus Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments for an entire year. Public campgrounds are available for a small fee or primitive camping is available in many areas at no cost. If you want a roof over your head, Moab has a variety of lodging properties ranging from hostels to resorts.

      From the Colorado River and thousand foot canyons, to the snow capped peaks of 12,000 foot mountains, Moab has something for hikers, bikers, rafters, golfers, four wheelers, hunters and fishers, sightseers, photo buffs, historians and heritage culture seekers. The following activities are free or for a reasonable charge with one of Moab’s tour companies.

      Hiking. The Moab area contains trails to suit any taste and experience level, from stream-side hikes (Negro Bill & Hunter Canyons) to spectacular sandstone arches (Corona Arch).

      Mountain biking. There are trails for mountain bikers of any experience level, from beginners looking for a scenic ride through canyons and mesa tops, to seasoned bikers looking for the ultimate challenge.

      Four-wheel driving. There are thousands of miles of jeep trails. Most are unmaintained relics from mining or prospecting. Except for the trails, there are few scars on the landscape allowing for some of the most beautiful back country exploring.

      Canoeing and kayaking. Rivers in the Moab area have a softer side. There are wide, quiet streams that, on clear days, reflect rock cliffs and sky, for calm water float trips in canoes, kayaks and rafts. Ken’s Lake, a manmade reservoir, is nearby for canoeing, kayaking and swimming.

      Movie museum and movie location tour. Since 1949 the Moab area has been a popular location for Hollywood movies. Movies range from John Wayne classics to Geronimo, City Slickers II, and Mission Impossible II. Thelma and Louise took their final leap into the Colorado River from the Shafer Trail under Dead Horse Point near Moab. Take a self-guide tour of movie locations and visit the Film Museum at Red Cliffs Lodge. The museum houses memorabilia from black and white film making to highlights from recent film projects. The museum is self-guided and open to the public daily at no charge.

      Self-guided auto tours. Moab is home to three Scenic Byways and one Scenic backway. Featuring arches, canyons, red rock formations, the Colorado River Gorge, petrogylphs, dinosaur tracks, historical bridge, movie locations and the LaSal Mountains, these routes offer diverse scenery and hiking opportunities.

      Rock art rour. The Moab area has many examples of Indian rock art. This self-guded tour discusses some types, dates, the artists and their cultures and how to take care of these irreplaceable sites. Directions are included to sites with easily accessible ancient rock art in the Moab area. All sites are accessible with a passenger car and a short walk.

      Dinosaur tracks. The self guided Mill Canyon Dinosaur trail guide contains traces (vertebrae, bone fragments and impressions) of a variety of dinosaur species. You can also view an old copper mill and the Halfway Stage Station, a rest stop for travelers during the turn of the century. The Copper Ridge Sauropod Tracksite, discovered in 1989, reveals a brontosaurus trackway and four theropods. The dinosaurs walked in several directions across a ripple-marked sand deposit that accumulated in an ancient river channel.

      Winter activities. The Manti-La Sal National Forest offers areas open to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and some snowmobiling. For skiers, the LaSals offer worked trails and back country terrain.

      Free family events. Throughout the year there are free events. March through mid-December, the Moab Art Walk includes artists and receptions.

      Moab Area Travel Council or 800/635-6622.

      VitaminMenu Free Ship One Stop Bannerbanner

      Hurtigruten 25% Off in the Wake of the Vikings Cruise

      Greenland climate expert Dr. Jason Box will be a guest lecturer on Hurtigruten's 14-day "In the Wake of the Vikings" cruise. This odyssey departs Sep. 26, 2010, from Iceland aboard the 318-passenger MS Fram. Book by July 31 and save 25 percent. Reduced fares are $4,743 to $9,316 per person, double occupancy. Book a suite and receive free roundtrip airfare from JFK or Newark Airports.

      Dr. Box, associate professor of geography at Ohio State University's Byrd Polar Research Center, has traveled to Greenland 18 times, studying and witnessing the effects of global warming, and offers considerable experience and insights into the island's geography and culture.

      With multimedia lectures and Q&A sessions, Dr. Box will provide a clearer understanding of one of the world's most discussed climate issues, global warming, and its effect on Greenland’s glaciers and climate. Other onboard experts from other disciplines, including geology, marine life, environment, history and culture, will also be on hand on landings and shore excursions so you can get close to the culture, wildlife and communities of Greenland's most isolated areas.

      Before boarding the MS Fram in Reykjavik, you can take in the city's museums and shops or sightsee among the glaciers, waterfalls and geysers just outside the city's boundaries. Four days are spent exploring the eastern and southern villages of Greenland. The ship then heads across the Labrador Sea, stopping in Newfoundland and then turning south to Halifax via St Anthony, Bonne Bay and Baddeck in Nova Scotia.

      The MS Fram offers views from lounges with panoramic windows and large outdoor decks. Public areas include an Internet cafe, a wellness center with saunas, work-out room and two glass-screened heated outdoor whirlpools. Open seating dinner is casual unless you want to dress up. All cabins offer TV, mini-bar and queen-size beds. Onboard bonuses include a free bottle of champagne, two free shore excursions, free wine with lunch or dinner and a free round of mini bar use.

      All sailings include three meals daily aboard ship, lectures, services of naturalist guides, specified land excursions and PolarCirkel boat landings, ship transfers, government fees, cruise taxes and port charges. Add-on airfares from dozens of North American gateways range from $100 to $600. Prices do not include airline fuel surcharges, air taxes and ticketing fees of $439 to $489.

      Hurtigruten or 800/323-7436.

      Goodyear Summer Driving Tips

      For millions of people summer vacation trips involve driving throughout North America.

      During this time of heightened driving, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company reminds you to practice common-sense automotive care prior to packing the suitcases and hitting the road.

      Goodyear officials urge you to take a few minutes to inspect your tires, or visit a local tire and service outlet for a check-up. The price of gasoline is an incentive to check tire condition and air pressure before heading off on any vacation journeys.

      According to Razvan Bosomoiu, Goodyear brand manager, "Underinflated tires increase vehicle fuel consumption, meaning that motorists may get more miles per gallon than with properly inflated tires. Tires should be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation printed on a vehicle's door placard or in the owner's manual, not the maximum limit stamped on a tire sidewall. The inflation pressure of tires should be checked at least monthly and before any long trips. In addition, motorists should avoid tires with insufficient tread depth or structural damage."

      The U.S. Department of Energy reports that every pound per square inch of tire underinflation wastes four million gallons of gas daily in the U.S. "An underinflated tire doesn't roll as smoothly or as easily as it was intended, so it uses more energy, robbing the vehicle of fuel efficiency. If motorists understood this, they might realize why tire maintenance is so important," Bosomoiu said.

      Goodyear offers additional automotive advice in advance of summer driving trips:

      Keep it filtered: Replacing a clogged air filter can improve a car's gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and help protect the engine from impurities.

      Don't overload: Don't try jamming too many extra items for an extended vacation. Check the owner's manual for the maximum recommended load details. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by one to two percent.

      Get tuned in: Before that long trip, visit a trusted automotive outlet and make sure your car is properly tuned. Regular vehicle maintenance can improve gas mileage by an average of 4.1 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

      Wear a cap: The gas cap must be tight and undamaged. Approximately 17 percent of the vehicles on U.S. highways have either misused or missing gas caps, causing millions of gallons of gas to vaporize into the atmosphere.

      Be smooth: Aggressive driving wastes gas and can reduce your fuel mileage by 33 percent on the highway and five percent in the city. Observe the speed limit.

      Many Goodyear retailers distribute tire care brochures and offer free tire inflation and tread inspections. Easy-to-find maintenance advice.

      Pigeon Forge "Taking Vacation Back" Campaign

      Do you know someone who can use $2,100 for utilities? Would cash for car or mortgage payments be a welcome relief for someone you know?

      Make that person's day with a nomination in Pigeon Forge's "Taking Vacation Back" campaign. The gateway city to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a $15,000 cash and travel package. The $15,000 July prize is to help one deserving family win big bucks for a year's worth of mortgage or rent payments.

      All winners - - and the people who nominate them - - also receive a two-night stay in Pigeon Forge, home of the Dollywood theme park.

      In 2006, Pigeon Forge conducted a similar campaign by giving away a tanker truckload of gas in response to unexpected jumps in gasoline prices.

      Participation in "Taking Vacation Back" is easy. The nomination process requires two clicks at My Pigeon Forge and a 100-word essay. Winners are determined by votes from visitors to the website.

      Pigeon Forge attracts more than 10 million visitors annually. It is home to Tennessee's most visited ticketed attraction, Dollywood, and more than a dozen theaters, family attractions and more than 250 outlet, craft and specialty stores.

      Its next-door neighbor, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the most visited national park in the U.S.

      "Taking Vacation Back,".


      Chicago Free Events and Hotel Rates

      There's no better time to visit Chicago than this summer. With activities and events through Labor Day, plus 77 diverse neighborhoods to discover, a visit to Chicago is affordable.

      Visitors and Chicagoans flock to the lakefront and downtown for family style entertainment, free festivals and city-wide celebrations all summer long.

      Lollapalooza happens every summer in Grant Park. The 2010 Lollapalooza Music Festival is Aug. 6 through Aug. 8, 2010 with headliners Soundgarden, Green Day and Lady Gaga.

      North Avenue Beach will be the spot for the largest free spectator event in the U.S. when the Chicago Air & Water Show returns Aug. 14 and 15, 2010. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights will headline the 52nd annual show along the lakefront.

      Celebrate Chicago's maritime heritage during Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2010 at Navy Pier, Aug. 24 through Aug. 29, 2010. It's an opportunity to sail away on 20 historic sailing vessels from around the globe.

      Daily at noon, through Sep. 21, 2010, Millennium Park offers free concerts, family programs and open rehearsals of the Grant Park Music Festival. One highlight is the noon Edible Audible Picnic which features the experimental sounds of local artists through Sep. 4, 2010.

      Neighborhood Scavenger Hunts take place until Aug. 31, 2010 and provide a free and challenging way to explore Andersonville, Albany Park, Chinatown, and Devon Avenue. Discover hidden gems and fun facts along the way with clues that can be picked up at any of the Chicago Visitor Centers or printed their web site.

      The Family Fun Festival returns to Millennium Park. Every day, through Sep. 3, 2010, family performances and hands-on activities take place in the Family Fun Tent, on the Park's Chase Promenade North.

      Other annual favorites include: the Chicago Dragon Boat Race for Literacy on July 24 in Chinatown; Fiesta del Sol July 29 through Aug. 1 in Pilsen; and the Bud Billiken Parade on Aug. 14, 2010.

      Beachgoers will find a variety of amenities, from bike rentals to concessions, at Chicago beaches. The Chicago Park District beaches are open until Sep. 6, 2010 and admission is free at Chicago's 26 miles of lakefront at any one of the city's 31 beaches.

      The Chicago Park District's open-air stage is home to dramatic, comedic and innovative performances. Theater on the Lake presents professional theater in a summer series that features eight plays in eight weeks. The 2010 season runs through Aug. 8, 2010.

      Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the country's last remaining free admission zoos.

      The InstaGreeter service is an offshoot of the Chicago Greeter program, offering free, on-the-spot "insider's orientations'" of neighborhoods for groups of six or less. You can go on a free, one-hour guided walkabout of the Old Town neighborhood. Located at the Second City comedy theater, the InstaGreeter Outpost operates 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday through Columbus Day. The Hyde Park InstaGreeter Outpost at the Hyde Park Arts Center operates on the same schedule.

      Approximately 34 Chicago hotels offer specialty packages during the summer months for reasonable prices at downtown hotels.

    • $ 99 The Ambassador East Hotel
    • $109 Days Inn Chicago
    • $110 Chicago Mart Plaza Holiday Inn
    • $139 Best Western Hawthorne Terrace
    • $149 Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile, Hotel Allegro, Hotel Burnham, Hotel Indigo Chicago Downtown, Hotel Monaco and Hotel Palomar
    • $150 Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown Chicago
    • $159 Chicago's Essex Inn
    • $169 Best Western River North Hotel and the Sax Chicago
    • $179 Hyatt Regency Chicago
    • $229 Embassy Suites Chicago-Downtown
    • $235 Sofitel Chicago Water Tower
    • $239 The Talbott Hotel
    • $275 Dana Hotel & Spa
    • $289 Swissotel Chicago
    • The Chicago Office of Tourism provides a seven-day-a-week Twitter Concierge Service offering advice and suggestions about the city. Visitor service representatives answer questions and provide information with a focus on free and discounted events and activities in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.

      Information on Chicago events and activities or 877/244-2246.

      $5000 Facebook Promotion and $109 Anniversary Deal

      As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, British Colonial Hilton Nassau invites Facebook fans to stage their most authentic Bahamian scene. Snap a photo or shoot a video of what you envision life in the Bahamas is like and submit it via email. The more creative the entry, the better chance of winning a prize package worth more than $5,000.

      The $5,000 prize package will include a $500 airline travel voucher, four night's accommodations for two in the Prime Minister's suite with access to the Executive lounge, two one-day excursion tickets to Harbour Island, Bahamas, and two tickets to the Dolphin Encounter experience.

      Submit Facebook contest entries to sales.nassau@hilton.com. The top 10 entries will be posted to the hotel's Facebook page. You must be 18 years or older and a Facebook fan of the British Colonial Hilton Nassau to be eligible. The photo must depict the perfect Bahamian vacation including sun, sand and sea. Photo must be entered by Aug. 31, 2010. Hilton Worldwide employees are not eligible. The winner will be selected on Sep. 10, 2010 by the British Colonial Hilton Nassau selection committee. More information is at the British Colonial Hilton Nassau Facebook page.

      You don't need to enter the Facebook contest to take advantage of the British Colonial Hilton Nassau's 10th anniversary deal starting at $109 per night. Valid through Dec. 22, 2010, the offer is subject to availability and does not include taxes, service charges, or gratuities. The rate is based on double occupancy and requires a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night stay. It can not be combined with any other offers and blackout dates may apply. Request the British Colonial Hilton 10th Anniversary special or booking code P2.

      British Colonial Hilton Nassau or 877/GO-HILTON.

      Up to Half Off at Castle Resorts & Hotels Hawaii

      Just in time for the summer travel period, Castle Resorts & Hotels' "Summer on Sale" promotion offers up to 50 percent discounts at 21 of its Hawaii properties.

      Why pay for two hotel rooms or pack four in a hotel room when a family can stay in a condominium with plenty of space to stretch out. Parents can enjoy separate bedrooms while teens and younger children can have their own space. Plus, condominiums offer full kitchens or kitchenettes, and washer/dryers.

      Condominium resorts operated by Castle Resorts & Hotels are on or near beaches and popular island attractions. Castle Waikiki Shore, the only condominium property on the Waikiki Beach, offers summer prices from $179 for a studio or $245 per night for a one-bedroom ocean view suite. The Castle Kamaole Sands on Maui is $139 per night in a one-bedroom suite. Castle Kiahuna Plantation offers the best condo value on Poipu Beach on Kauai with summer pricing from $169 per night in a one-bedroom suite. Located within the Waikoloa beach resort, the Halii Kai at Waikoloa offers two- and three-bedroom villas and townhouses from $268 per night.

      "Summer on Sale" prices are valid through Aug. 21, 2010.

      Castle Resorts & Hotels "Summer on Sale" or 800/367-5004.


      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

      Eyeglass Paradise in Beijing

      Travelers to Beijing may not be aware of the city's specialty market, the Eyeglass Market. According to the China Guide, an American owned travel company, the Eyeglass Market is a four-story mall in downtown Beijing overflowing with frames and sunglasses, from classic shapes to wild designs. Some shops offer buggy "swimming glasses." Contact lenses are on the fourth floor.

      Frames and lenses in the U.S. can be expensive, so people generally only have one or two pairs of eyeglasses. Beijing's Eyeglass Market provides a cheap solution with prices for basic frames starting at$15. The price is based on quality and there is an opportunity for bargaining.

      The Eyeglass Market will make lenses in 30 minutes and does on-the-spot prescription exams free of charge. The exam equipment is modern and there are plenty of technicians so shoppers don't have to wait. If you didn't bring your prescription, technicians can get prescriptions from your eyeglasses, if you don't want an eye exam. Additionally, the Eyeglass Market can make prescription sunglasses (even polarized lenses) with plenty of frames and styles to choose from. Different types of bifocals and gradient lenses are available too. All purchases come with a glasses case and cloth for cleaning.

      If a four-story mall is overwhelming, walk across the street. A new, smaller eyeglass market called Mingjingyuan sells the same stuff (at the same prices) in a more spacious, less crowded environment. Whichever market you go to, and you don't speak Chinese, prepare to punch numbers into a fat calculator, and offer a third of the price that was proposed.

      Forget about finding deals on authentic brands such as Versace and Prada. They are there, but high China tariffs on foreign brands make them expensive. If you find cheap Prada, it's fake Prada. Plus China has gazillions of its own brands, some of which sound faintly familiar: Titanic, Noble Playboy, Hollywoods, Pepsi.

      If you don't want to go it alone, the China Guide's shopping tours provide a private English speaking guide to help with shopping, bargaining and transportation. Trips to shopping markets can be combined with historical sights and a stop for lunch at a recommended local restaurant.

      Beijing Eyeglass City, East Third Ring Road, No. 64 Nanlu. Mingjingyuan Eyeglass Market, No. 43 Huaweibeili, north of Panjiayuan; (86-10) 8773-0786.

      The China Guide.

      Summer Sale on Crystal European Voyages

      Crystal Cruises offers savings for select September to November 2010 Mediterranean cruises: $4,000 per couple off its Penthouse accommodations, and business class air add-on fares from $899 per person for verandah stateroom guests.

      Book Crystal Serenity's butler-serviced Penthouse accommodations on select voyages by Aug. 31, 2010, and save $2,000 per person plus Crystal's 2010 promotional Two-for-One cruise fares, free business class air from many North American gateways (or take a $3,000 cruise-only credit), and $1,000 per person "All Inclusive - As You Wish" shipboard credits.

      Visiting cities throughout Italy, Greece, Croatia, Spain, the Canary Islands and more, the voyages are:

    • Sep. 29 - 9 days, Venice to Monte Carlo
    • Oct. 8 - 11 days, Monte Carlo to Athens
    • Oct. 19 - 12 days, Athens to Rome
    • Oct. 31 - 11 days, Rome to Barcelona
    • Nov. 11 - 11 days, Barcelona to Lisbon
    • Nov. 22 - 9 days, round-trip Lisbon
    • Book Crystal Serenity's verandah staterooms on the Sep. 29, Oct. 8 or Oct. 31, 2010 cruise and upgrade to business class air add-ons from $899, one way from more than a dozen North American gateways. Additionally, you receive Two-for-One cruise fares and $1,000 per person "All Inclusive - As You Wish" shipboard credits.

      Per person, promotional, Two-for-One cruise fares for the above voyages start at $4,525, while verandah staterooms start at $5,265, double occupancy. With the new savings, Penthouse fares start at $9,220 per person, double occupancy.

      Crystal Cruises or 888/799-4625.

      468x60_Graphic Banner_DropDownbanner

      AdventureSmith 2-for-1 and Run-of-Boat Specials

      AdventureSmith, the active travel company that matches adventure-seeking clients and small, expedition ships offers two better-bang-for-bucks offers in the Galapagos. The first is a two-for-one in a shared cabin; and the second is a run-of-boat special at a reduced rate when you select a departure date but agree that the vessel assignment can be made on the basis of available cabins at time of boarding.

      The two-for-one Galapagos Evolution cruise applies for the Dec. 2, 2010 departure in specified cabins and the Dec. 9, 2010 departure for all cabins. This program that waives the second fare can save between $4,395 and $5,695.

      The two-for-one Galapagos Grace cruise applies to the Aug. 19, departure in specified cabins, the Sep. 2 departure for all cabins, the Sept. 23 departure in specified cabins and the Dec. 2, 2010 departure for specified cabins. The two-for-one can save between $5,195 and $5,945.

      The Galapagos Run of the Boat special aboard the Grace or Evolution can save between $1,250 and $2,950 per person, depending on cabin category.

      AdventureSmith Explorations or 800/728-2875.

      Kids Vacation Free at Occidental Hotels & Resorts

      Two children age 12 and under can vacation free with a paying adult through Dec. 17, 2010, at Occidental Hotels & Resorts' all-inclusive Occidental Grand and Allegro properties. There's a maximum of two children (age 12 and under) free with one adult in a room. That's a saving of at least $60 per child, per night. Bucking the trend of one free child per adult, this is ideal for parents who travel solo, a teacher with summers off, or a mom looking to spend quality time with her daughters.

      In addition, the all-inclusive hotel chain offers low nightly rates for adults, starting from $53 per person (a savings of up to 53 percent), at beachfront properties in Aruba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico.

      Pricing below reflects starting adult rates valid for travel through Aug. 30, 2010, based on double occupancy. Adults traveling alone with children must pay a singles supplement. The kids free offer applies to travel through Dec. 17, 2010.

      Aruba: Occidental Grand Aruba $180

      Costa Rica: Allegro Papagayo $60, Occidental Grand Papagayo $100

      Dominican Republic: Allegro Puerto Plata $53, Occidental Grand Punta Cana - Every other night free.

      Mexico: Allegro Cozumel $60, Allegro Nuevo Vallarta $59, Allegro Playacar $61, Occidental Grand Xcaret $74, Occidental Grand Cozumel $87

      Occidental vacations are all-inclusive, so all resort activities (including the Kids Club) are included. Families can splash in the ocean, relax by the pool, participate in resort activities or take advantage of the Kids Club to give parents free time.

      Occidental vacations include unlimited meals and snacks, free-flowing drinks (with alcohol), SCUBA classes, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, pool volleyball, soccer, ping pong, darts, tennis, basketball, and dance classes. Supervised Kids Club and daily entertainment are part of the package, as are nightly shows, live entertainment and all taxes and gratuities.

      Travelers looking to add exclusivity can select Royal Club accommodations, a boutique-style resort within each Occidental Grand resort that provides personalized services and VIP amenities. The Royal Club upgrade provides extra-spacious rooms, personal concierge, hydro-massage bathtubs, luxurious linens and pillows (including a pillow-menu), Etro toiletries, evening turndown service, fruit basket, plush bath robes and more. Royal Club guests also get private check-in and check-out services, access to the Royal Club Lounge, pool, restaurant, and room service.

      Occidental Grand and Allegro properties kids free vacation or 800/858-2258.

      Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa BOGO

      The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, in Asheville, NC, offers historically low rates for a limited time. Buy a one night stay at the Grove Park Inn, and receive the next night free. Rates start from $199. A limited number of rooms and dates are available for this offer. The "Buy One, Get One" special is good for travel through Sep. 30, 2010.

      The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa overlooks Asheville's skyline and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Built in 1913, the Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places. Amenities include spa, club floor, fine dining, golf course, tennis, swimming, sports complex, retail shops, nightly entertainment and children's programs.

      The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa or 800/438-5800.

      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.

      Fly Free to Miraval Arizona

      Seeking serenity this summer? Treat yourself to a holiday at Miraval Arizona, the destination spa resort in Tucson. A "Fly Free" promotion offers significant reimbursements when you stay four nights or longer.

      Miraval's summer "Fly Free" promotion offers credit amounts based on the cost of pre-purchased airline tickets. Book a minimum four-night all-inclusive stay by July 31 and "Fly Free" to Miraval from anywhere in the U.S. Miraval will credit your account upon check-in up to $500 per person with the presentation of your flight receipt. Stays must be completed by Oct. 1, 2010.

      Your all-inclusive resort package offers a $130 resort credit per person, per night of stay towards your choice of Chill-Out spa services, private sessions with Miraval specialists, Chef's dinners, zip-line adventures, trail rides or rounds of golf. Rates are from $375 per person, per night (double occupancy) and include roundtrip airport transfers from the Tucson Airport, casita style accommodations, welcome amenity, three meals daily and full access to Miraval's resort amenities.

      With summer in the Santa Catalina Mountains, Miraval guests have a cultural calendar of art, music and adventure to choose from. Every Wednesday through August, the Summer Music Series treats guests to an evening of chamber music, featuring members of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Through October, the Artists in Residence program brings guests and local artists together for demonstrations including painting, sculpting and photography. The artists work in an open setting and their works will be on display throughout the property.

      Miraval Arizona or 800/232-3969.

      Free Transportation on Baltimore's Circulator

      Traveling around Baltimore got easier. The free and popular Charm City Circulator (CCC) adds a second route, the Purple Route, which runs from Penn Station into Federal Hill.

      The Purple Route is helpful as some of Baltimore's tourism attractions are along this route, including the Washington Monument, the Walters Art Museum, Maryland Science Center, Cross Street Market and the Baltimore Visitor Center. If you travel to Baltimore via Amtrak, you can pick up the Circulator at Baltimore's Penn Station.

      Not only is this service free, but the Charm City Circulator is efficient and environmentally friendly. Seven days a week, shuttles arrive every 10 minutes at the designated stops on each route. The Circulator fleet consists of 21 DesignLine 2009 EcoSaver IV LF Hybrid Electric vehicles - the first fleet of this type in a major metropolitan area.

      The north/south Purple Route provides a convenient way to explore Baltimore's attractions, museums and neighborhoods, and complements the Orange Route which takes you on the east/west sides of downtown.

      Circulator summer operating hours (through Oct. 31) are Monday through Thursday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 6:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 9 a.m. to midnight and Sunday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

      Visit Baltimore.

      2AFRIKA 2011 Safari Sale

      All of 2AFRIKA's Tanzania and Kenya safaris are on sale. A 10-day safari in Tanzania from $3,999 per person, is available from $2,149 per person based on a group of six. That saves each traveler $1,850 or $3,700 per couple, based on seasons and availability of services, and represents a 46 percent saving.

      The 10-day Body & Soul of Tanzania trip visits Arusha, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park, Olduvai Gorge, and Lake Manyara National Park. The price includes roundtrip airport transfers, all overland transportation, nine-nights' accommodation, 26 meals, 11 safari game viewing drives, national park/game reserve entrance fees and all taxes.

      With 12 safaris already on sale, a lesser-know South African safari will be introduced, giving travelers more options. Kapama Luxury Private Game Reserve in South Africa will feature "special introductory offers" available on the company website.

      2AFRIKA or 212/385-9770.

      $20 Off Promotion

      Eat, Stay, Love Special at Atahotels

      Atahotels created an Eat, Stay, Love offer in celebration of the book and the upcoming movie, which features three destinations including Italy.

      When staying four nights at one of Atahotels' hotels or resorts in Italy, you pay for three nights and get the fourth for free. This special also includes a free Welcome to Italy dinner at all locations except the extended stay residence properties. Atahotels has 22 four and five star properties in Italy for business and leisure travelers.

      This offer is valid for stays prior to Mar. 31, 2011. The fourth night free special must be booked by Sep. 30, 2010.

      Atahotels Eat, Stay, Love special.

      Palace Resorts $1,500 Vacation Dollars

      Palace Resorts, the company that provides all-inclusive resort accommodations, offers up to $1,500 vacation dollars to make a Palace Resorts stay a complete vacation getaway in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The $1,500 vacation dollars can be used on room upgrades, spa and beauty salon treatments, golf outings, romantic dinners, wedding packages and off-site excursions and tours. The combination of options is unlimited, allowing you to stay in any room category for five nights or more and mix and match dollars among available amenities.

      The vacation dollars promotion is available through Dec. 23, 2011 at all 11 Palace Resorts properties in Mexico and Moon Palace Casino, Golf & Spa Resort in Dominican Republic. When you stay five nights or more, you receive $1,500 vacation dollars per room, per stay. Stay three or four nights and receive $750 vacation dollars per room, per stay.

      With a room upgrade, you can choose an ocean view room, suite or the concierge level and family level rooms. The concierge level includes guaranteed ocean views, nightly turndown service, reserved beach chair with waiter service and other in-room amenities. The family level rooms, found at Aventura Cove Palace, Cancun Palace, Moon Palace in Cancun, Beach Palace and Moon Palace in Punta Cana, are connecting rooms allowing up to six guests, with an Xbox 360, mini fridge with kid-friendly drinks and snacks, children's bathrobes and slippers, and "little ones" room service menu.

      Up to $300 vacation dollars can be used at hotel spas for body treatments, hydrotherapy and beauty salons. Up to $1,500 vacation dollars can be used at Jack Nicklaus courses at Moon Golf Club and Riviera Cancun Golf & Resorts in Cancun, Playacar Golf Club in Riviera Maya, the new Cana Bay Golf Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, or nearby golf courses at Vallarta Palace. Vacation dollars can be used for private dinners in romantic spots such as the beach, terrace or pool side or a swim with the dolphins excursion or other tours.

      The vacation dollars promotion can be paired with the Kids 12 and under Stay & Eat Free promotion. Kids Stay & Eat Free is available with one paying adult at all Palace Resorts properties except adults-only properties, for stays three nights or longer booked by Aug. 27, 2010 for travel through Aug. 31, 2010.

      Palace Resorts all-inclusive accommodations start at $161 per person, per night, based on double occupancy.

      Palace Resorts or 800/635-1836.

      The ABC's of Portland, OR - - Article and photos by Kay Douglas

      view of portland & Mt. HoodAfter spending five days exploring one of the West Coast's most distinctive cities, I've compiled 13 good reasons (a baker's dozen) to visit the city, listed here in alphabetical order.

      Affordability: The New York Times profiled "Frugal Portland" a few months back, detailing the many low-cost (or no-cost) aspects of the city. Most notably, it costs nothing to ride the MAX light rail and streetcar system in the "free zone" (downtown Portland, the Rose Quarter, and Lloyd District). Venturing further afield, a one-day pass for Portland's excellent public transportation system is only $4.75, while a week pass costs $22.50. Portland is a practical place, with a demographic that skews young, which translates into plenty of no-frills, low-cost hotels and hostels, plus lots of wallet-friendly dining and entertaining options. Do what the locals do and grab a bite at a food cart or snack shack. These small, locally-owned businesses, often serving ethnic cuisine, have sprung up all over Portland, most notably around Alder Street, set up in groups or "pods" on street corners, parking lots, and along sidewalks. I opted for a quick lunch around SW 9th & 10th and Alder . For about $7 I ordered a papaya-based salad, barbecue chicken and rice at one of the Thai places. In addition to the Thai carts, which seemed a good value, there were also Vietnamese and Mexican carts. All the carts seemed to offer something tasty for around $5, including burgers and hot dogs. It depends on what type of food you like. Also note that whatever you buy in Oregon, there's no state sales tax.

      Athletic Activities: What's your favorite athletic pursuit? Mine's ice skating. The morning after my arrival in Portland, I got a great practice session in at a lovely indoor ink in the Lloyd Center, just a few blocks from my hotel. Avid hiker? With its exceptional parks, such as 5,155-acre Forest Park (literally a forest in the city) and Mt. Tabor Park's miles of meandering trails, the city offers plenty of hiking possibilities. A popular spot with runners is lovely Waterfront Park, with good views along the Willamette (rhymes with "dam it") River. Not to mention that pedestrian-friendly Portland, with its short 200-foot-long city blocks and compact, easily navigated downtown, is a walker's delight. Just outside the city are multiple ski resorts, rivers to kayak and fish, and mountains to climb. And if by chance you didn't pack your gym shoes or need a fishing vest, stop by a Nike or Columbia Sportswear shop - both companies are based in or near Portland.

      Waterfront ParkArts: Portland's vibrant arts and culture scene is progressive and eclectic, featuring everything from grand opera to cutting-edge theater. The city hosts the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi each Fourth of July weekend, not to mention nightly offerings of just about every kind of music you'd care to hear. I greatly enjoyed a performance by the March Fourth Marching Band, a group of 35 musicians and performers, the latter including stilt walkers, fire-eaters, unicyclists, contortionists, and a giant frog mascot. A musical reminder that one of the city's slogans is "Keep Portland Weird," the group often plays local clubs and venues and have a loyal following, making each performance something of a "happening." On the more conventional side, head over to the Cultural District, an area along Southwest Park Avenue, where many of the city's best-known museums and performance spaces are clustered. The Portland Art Museum boasts a large collection of 20th century Pacific Northwest art as well as an outdoor sculpture garden, while an impressive eight-story-high trompe l'oeil mural featuring scenes from the Lewis & Clark expedition graces the outside of the Oregon Historical Society. The district also contains several notable historic churches, the most striking of which is built in a Venetian Gothic style.

      Beauty: Portland has one of the most beautiful settings of any city in the U.S., with views of Mt. Hood in the distance (best viewed from the lawn of the historical Pittock Mansion up in Washington Park) and two lovely rivers, the Columbia and Willamette, converging just north of the city. Ten bridges span the Willamette River, including the world’s oldest lift bridge (Hawthorne). The hills that rise to the west of downtown are home to many lovely gardens, most notably the Portland Japanese Garden, while east of the Willamette the city fans out into several lively neighborhoods. A warm winter brought an early spring this year, making my March visit to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Eastmoreland a treat for the eye, with thousands of rhododendrons and azaleas, not to mention several small lakes or ponds filled with diverse waterfowl.

      Crystal SpringsBicycles: It's said so often that it hardly bears repeating, but Portland is the number one city in America for biking to work, according to the US Census Bureau of July 2007, and was voted the "Best Cycling City in the US" by Bicycling magazine, due in large part to the city's extensive system of bikeways and its bike-friendly culture. Renting a bike in Portland is an environmentally friendly way to explore the city, and there are a number of conveniently located bike rental shops, such as Waterfront Bikes on the corner of Naito & Ash, where two-hour ($17), daily ($40) or weekly ($100) rentals include a helmet, lock, handlebar bag, map, and light.

      Bookstores: Or should I say THE bookstore? Portland is home to Powell's, an overwhelming behemoth of a place that goes by the moniker "City of Books" with scarcely any exaggeration. I meant to go in and just have a peek at the travel guides, perhaps get a map for an upcoming trip to Tuscany, but my visit soon morphed into an afternoon-consuming expedition. There are more than a million new and used books spread over 1.6 acres at Powell's, not to mention the separate annexes for specialty books. Book lovers don't need to be told about Powell's. I'd been ordering used books by mail from them for years, but I was unprepared for the sheer scope of the place. First-time visitor tip: take note of which color-coded entrance you come in. If you check a bag as I did, you'll need to wend you way back to your entry point.

      Breweries: Portland is home to some of the country's finest micro-breweries, and they are of such profusion (40 and counting) and diversity that any "hop head" will be in nirvana. What I liked best about the places I visited was the atmosphere of relaxed congeniality, reminiscent of a British or Irish pub. Books lined the walls and conversation was a convivial hum in the Tug Boat in the Pearl district, while the evening crowd at the Lucky Labrador on Hawthorne Street chatted and strategized over complex board games. The McMenamin brothers, who have specialized in converting diverse properties into an empire of nearly 60 quirky hotels/cinemas/clubs/theaters, also produce some of the state's best-loved brews, including Hammerhead, Terminator Stout, and Sunflower IPA..

      Columbia River GorgeChinatown: As in many cities, Portland's Chinatown has morphed into something not entirely Chinese, or at the very least into something transitional, with the notable exception of the gorgeous Classical Chinese Garden, an island of tranquility in the heart of the city. This compact walled garden is a marvel of ingenious use of space and perspective. Be sure to take time to linger over a cup of tea in the lovely classical tea house in the center of the garden. It took me nearly a quarter of an hour just to peruse the tea menu.

      Cinemas: One of Portland's most appealing institutions is the repertoire cinema cum brewpub/pizzeria. These cinemas, many housed in glorious vintage theaters, show independent, second-run, and classic movies at a very reasonable price - $3, for example, at the Laurelhurst in the Hawthorne district. The seating in the cinemas is unique, with rows spaced very widely to accommodate a small fixed table before each seat. I'll make a confession: I stopped going to all but the big-screen special-effects-drive films years back because I found the modern theater ambience lacking. At the Laurelhurst I saw "Sleeper," a Woody Allen film released the year I graduated from high school, and I think I enjoyed it even more the second time around. It was just like the old days, but better.

      Multnoman FallsCoffee: Move over, Seattle. Portland is being hailed as the "new" coffee capital of the United States. Regardless of which city really deserves the title, there's little doubt that Portland's coffee culture is an integral part of the city. Some local roasters, like Stumptown Coffee, have produced more than a caffeine-induced buzz in the Pacific Northwest. Stop by Stumptown's flagship cafe at SE 45th and Division, as I did, to rub elbows with coffee connoisseurs and enjoy a cup of perfectly brewed, direct-trade, eco-friendly coffee. And it's no accident that the American Barista and Coffee School, the premier barista training and coffee education facility in the country, is based in Portland. This is a city that knows coffee and savors it.

      Columbia River Gorge: Faced with several tempting day trip options - such as Mt. Hood, Willamette Valley wineries, and the north Oregon coast - I opted instead for a visit to the nearby Columbia River Gorge and didn't regret it for an instant. Just an hour's drive from the city, the Gorge offers breathtaking views and one spectacular waterfall after another along scenic U.S. 30. One of the first stops I made was at Crown Point Overlook, which provides a sweeping 30-mile view down the gorge. Just a short distance on, Vista House, a distinctive octagonal structure on a promontory overlooking the river, offered similarly stunning views. But it was the waterfalls - going full blast with spring run-off - that really took my breath away. In one 10-mile stretch, a motorist can pull over and either see directly or take a short hike to a good half dozen falls, including Multnomah Falls, at 620 feet the second highest year-round waterfall in the U.S.

      Conservation: Portland's environmental accolades are almost too numerous to mention, but bear with me for a few: No. 1 in "Environmental Awareness" (CNN/Travel + Leisure, 2007), "America's Cleanest City," (Reader's Digest, 2006), No. 2 of "10 Greenest Cities in America" (MSN.com, 2007), No. 1 "Greenest City in America" (Popular Science, 2008). And that's just for starters. To get a real feel for how green the city is, take note of all the recycling bins and the fact that people use them. Watch people returning their empty bottles for a five-cent-a-bottle refund. (You'll see that five-cent charge added to each bottle you purchase, too.) But the urge to conserve goes beyond recycling in Portland. A future federal project downtown will construct an 18-story vertical garden on the side of an office building, for example. Not to mention that Portland is leading the vanguard of American cities in bringing back streetcars. Finally, on a visit to the World Forestry Center in Forest Park, I received an education in the management of one of the world's most vital resources - trees.

      food carts near Alder Cuisine: If exploring in and around Portland has made you hungry, then rejoice: you've come to one of the country's up-and-coming foodie spots. Portland's choicest restaurants base menus around locally grown foods, and many establishments cater to vegans and vegetarians or simply to those who want to eat healthily and sustainably. Check out some of the bistros and restaurants along trendy NW 23rd and 21st Avenues, for example, to sample some of Portland's best regional cuisine. Lunch at St. Honore Boulangerie on NW Thurman St. right off 23rd was reasonably priced. Great soup and, of course, superb bread.

      The Travel Portland web site is not only a source of information, it's a source for savings. Under the Special Offers tab, you'll find the current hotel packages listed by theme such as Arts & Culture, Culinary, Family-friendly or Indie Music to name a few.

      Helpful Resources: Travel Portlanditors & Convention Bureau and Travel Oregon.

      Kids Play Free at Myrtle Beach Golf Courses

      Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday has more than 40 Myrtle Beach area golf courses that are participating in the annual "Kids Play Free" summer golf program. The program includes free greens fee and cart and is open to any child 16 years of age and under when accompanied by a paying adult.

      Forty-six Myrtle Beach area golf courses are participating in the program. Among the Myrtle Beach area courses offering free golf to juniors are Grande Dunes Resort Club, Tidewater Golf Club River's Edge, King's North and Tiger's Eye.

      Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday is a non-profit trade association of 102 golf courses, 76 golf package providers and five golf schools in the Myrtle Beach, SC area.

      Click here for a list of participating courses or 800/833-8798.

      Had a good experience on a plane recently? Stumbled across the perfect place to stay, eat or drink? Tell us about it, email us here.

      PLEASE NOTE: All links are sent as clickable links. Some email programs such as AOL, Yahoo, & Hotmail change the links so that they are not clickable. If you have problems clicking on a link, just copy and paste the link into your browser.

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      Face-It Luggage Tags -- Your Face on Your Luggage There's no mistaking your luggage with the Face-It Luggage Tag. The durable, laminated tag displays your face and the phrase `This Face Belongs With This Luggage.`

      A Face-It Luggage tag makes it less likely for a stranger or thief to walk off with your luggage and helps you recognize your luggage at a glance in hotels or airports. Face-It Tags are also available for briefcases, portfolio books, backpacks, sporting equipment, musical instruments, bicycles and more. Face-It Luggage Tags.

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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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