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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, August 2011 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2011 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff

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La Quinta Corporation

In This Issue:
Chateau on the Lake Resort, Branson, MO

Chateau on the Lake, Branson MO

  • Kea Lani Renovation Rates Up to 50% Off
  • Dollywood Vacations Lodging Summer Fun Pass
  • Free Nights in Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Dive Cozumel This Summer
  • Special Rates at Henderson Hotels & Resorts
  • Shower-Before-Pool Prevents Water Parks Illness
  • Caribbean, Mexico Vacations Cheaper for Military
  • Chesterfield Palm Beach Hot Summer Special
  • Scenic Cruises Fly Free and Early Bird Savings
  • Club Med WOW Sale
  • Vision Airlines Flights to Grand Bahama
  • Cayuga “Your Age is Your Discount” Promo
  • Ski Lake Tahoe Six-Pack Lift Tickets on Sale
  • Low Fares for Crystal's NY to Caribbean Cruise
  • Americans Can Go to Cuba Legally
  • Eat Free When the Sun Doesn’t Shine
  • Smart Phone App for PA State Parks, Forests
  • Insel Air Intro Fare Sale $366.70
  • RESORT REPORT – Chateau on the Lake
  • Casa Colina’s Low Season Rates

    Kea Lani Renovation Rates Up to 50% Off

    The all-suite Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui offers discounted rates while the signature restaurant, K?, completes a major renovation. You may take advantage of rates up to 50 percent off all categories of accommodation. The two- and three-bedroom Villas at Fairmont Kea Lani are discounted up to 35 percent.

    Rates for the “Renovation with Aloha” package for suites start at $219 per night plus tax, reduced from a starting rate of $439 per night. Villas are $975 per night plus tax from the starting rate of $1,500 per night.

    The renovation of K? follows the 2010 renovation of all suites, villas and pool areas within the resort.

    The “Renovation with Aloha Breakfast” package adds a breakfast buffet to the reduced rates. The package includes accommodations in a one-bedroom suite or villa and breakfast buffet for two daily with tax and gratuity included. Rates for the “Renovation with Aloha Breakfast” package begin at $254 per night. Both packages are for travel Aug. 15 to Dec. 16, 2011.

    Along with the remodel to K?, the building’s exterior will be painted. During the renovations, all resort operations will continue and at least one restaurant will be open for breakfast and lunch, and two options for dinner. Renovation work will be scheduled 8 am to 4:30 pm, with no work on Sundays.

    Renovation packages are subject to availability, do not include taxes and may not be used with any other offer or promotion.

    Fairmont Kea Lani Maui or 800/659-4100.

    Dollywood Vacations Lodging Summer Fun Pass

    Dollywood Vacations offers a money-saving Summer Fun Pass, which provides cabin guests unlimited admissions to Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country in Pigeon Forge TN, for the duration of their stay.
      The Summer Fun Pass is $99 (plus tax, per person, ages four and older). For the duration of your cabin stay, a Summer Fun Pass entitles the holder to:
    • Unlimited admission to Dollywood theme park
    • Unlimited admission to Dollywood’s Splash Country
    • Free Qbot electronic line management device
    • Free reserved parking at both parks
    • Passport of Savings coupon book for area malls

    Valid through Sep. 3, 2011, the Dollywood Vacations Summer Fun Pass may be purchased at Dollywood Vacations or online at www.Dollywood.com with the purchase of cabin accommodations.

    Dollywood Vacations lodging are located near Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country with access to other points of interest in the area, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The cabins range from one to eight bedrooms with housekeeping and maintenance. Amenities include indoor and outdoor hot tubs, pool tables, game rooms, kitchens, outdoor grills and fireplaces plus views of the Smoky Mountains. The resort also includes a swimming pool, children’s playground and outdoor pavilion for gatherings.

    Dollywood Vacations Lodging or 866/857-2123.

    MosquitoMagnet.com - Shop Now!

    Free Nights in Myrtle Beach, SC

    Stretch your vacation dollars with a free night special offers in Myrtle Beach SC, known for family-friendly activities and 60 miles of Grand Strand beaches. The full list of Free Nights travel deals is online.

    Some Book 3 Nights & Get the 4th Night Free packages, based on availability:

  • Monterey Bay Suites - 888/255-4763 - free breakfast daily.
  • Breakers Resort - 888/428-1486 - with breakfast through Sep. 6, 2011.
  • Driftwood Lodge - 866/227-2127.
  • Ocean Reef Resort - 888/488-7403 - valid through Sep. 1, 2011.
  • Boardwalk Beach Resort - 800/535-2297 - Summer Fun in the Sun package.
  • Atlantica - 877/418-0413 - valid through Aug. 31, 2011.
  • Crown Reef Resort – 866/652-1294 - from $99 per night through Sep. 1. 2011. Ask for code MBF.

    Book 4 Nights & Get the 5th Night Free:

  • Springmaid Beach Resort valid through Aug. 31, 2011.
  • The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn - 866/764-8501 - valid through Aug. 31, 2011.
  • North Beach Plantation - 888/559-4813 - valid through Sep. 1, 2011.

    Book 5 Nights & Get the 6th Night Free:

  • Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort - 800/876-0010 - Summer Sizzlin package valid through Sep. 5, 2011.
  • Bay Watch Resort - 877/434-8997 - Free admission to water park and Diamond Back Adventure Camp. From $169 per night. Valid to Aug 31, 2011. Mention promo code SFN.
  • Camelot by the Sea Resort - 877/434-8997 - Free admission to water park and Diamond Back Adventure Camp. From $179 per night. Valid to Aug 31, 2011. Mention promo code SFN
  • By The Sea Motel - 843/272-5512 - Summer Super Saver.

    Book 5 Nights & Get 2 Nights Free:

  • Landmark Resort – 800/845-0658 - with Vacation Member Benefits card to local restaurants, shopping and entertainment attractions. Valid to Aug. 31, 2011.
  • Sea Watch Resort – 888/485-4939 - Valid to Aug. 31, 2011.
  • Beach Cove Resort – 800/369-7043 - for Executive Suites only.
  • Driftwood Lodge - 866/227-2127.
  • Monterey Bay Suites- 888/255-4763 - free breakfast daily for all staying in the unit.
  • Ocean Reef Resort - 888/488-7403 - Valid through Sep. 1, 2011.
  • Breakers Resort - 888/428-1486 - breakfast included. Valid through Sep. 6, 2011.
  • Caribbean Resort - 888/482-7061 - Valid through Sep. 3, 2011.
  • Compass Cove Resort - 888/432-9942 - Valid through Sep. 3, 2011.

    Myrtle Beach area or 888/Myrtle-1.

  • Dive Cozumel This Summer

    Cozumel, Mexico resorts offer combination packages for divers. Here are a few dive-tastic packages.

    Casa Del Mar Cozumel - five minutes from the Paraiso reef. The dive package includes four nights’ accommodations, days of diving, unlimited shore diving, breakfast. From $399 plus 14 per cent taxes for three night stays to Dec. 15, 2011.

    Park Royal Cozumel – three night dive package includes room with balcony, all meals, unlimited domestic and imported drinks, tax and service, activities program for adults and children during the day, two days dive (2 tanks) for certified open waters divers. Prices from $405 per person, per package, through Dec 20, 2011.

    President Intercontinental Cozumel Resort & Spa - Dive package includes three nights’ accommodations, Pool View room, welcome drink, daily breakfast, tanks and weights for shore diving, two days of diving, Certified Dive Master, tanks, weights and belt, purified bottled water and fresh season fruit on board. Prices from $503 per person. Available Aug. 18 to Dec. 22, 2011.

    The island of Cozumel, east of the Yucatan Peninsula, sits along the largest reef network in the Western Hemisphere, home to the Palancar Reef discovered by Jacques Cousteau in 1962.


    Special Rates at Henderson Hotels & Resorts

    Now is the time to visit Henderson NV and take advantage of offers at participating Henderson hotels and resorts. The offer is subject to availability and valid through Sep. 8, 2011.

    Aston MonteLago Village Resort - 866/564-4799 - Friends and Family Rate 20 percent off best daily rate. Studios or one-, two- and three-bedroom condos with kitchens. Mention discount code LOCALS.

    Courtyard by Marriott - Friends and Family Rate: 10 per cent discount. Mention discount code "LCGD".

    Comfort Inn - Friends and Family Rate: $65 Sunday to Thursday, $75 Friday and Saturday plus 12 per cent hotel occupancy tax. Includes continental breakfast. Mention code "HNDFF".

    Hampton Inn & Suites - 702/385-2200 - Friends & Family Rate: $59.

    Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham – 702/568-7800 - Friends & Family Rate: $45 weekdays, $55 weekends. Mention promo code GAS SAVER.

    Hilton Garden Inn – 702/322-9000 - Friends & Family Rate: 20 per cent off the best available rate. Mention code SOCIAL.

    Ravella, A Dolce Hotel & Resort - 800/265-3187 - Friends & Family Rate: $59. On Lake Las Vegas. Mention code NRR.

    SpringHill Suites by Marriott - 702/270-0995- Friends & Family Rate: $54.99. Free breakfast daily. Mention code CYHY.

    Sunset Station Hotel & Casino - 800/678-2846 - Friends & Family Rate: two nights for $125 with $100 hotel credit. Mention code My Vacation.

    TownePlace Suites by Marriott – 702/896-2900 - Friends & Family Rate: $59.99. Full kitchens and pet friendly. Mention code CYHH.

    City of Henderson NV.


    Shower-Before-Pool Prevents Water Parks Illness

    Water parks offer a chance for fun and to be physically active. That fun may come with the risk of getting infections from the water illnesses that affect more than 10,000 Americans each year. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of infection is to shower before playing at water parks.

    The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health asked parents of elementary school kids about their perceptions of water park risks and opinions about basic water park rules.

    The poll indicated that 64 percent of parents feel it is very important for children to not swallow the water at a water park, only 26 percent of parents think it is very important to shower before getting in the water.

    Most parents may not appreciate their role in preventing recreational water infections, as 28 percent of parents feel that water park staff alone is responsible preventing Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs).

    The poll shows that relatively few parents understand their role in preventing infections at water parks. "The 'shower before entering' rule posted at water parks nationwide isn't meant to be optional. Showering is a simple and effective way to reduce the spread of germs, including some germs like Cryptosporidium that are not killed with conventional levels of chlorine.

    Parents perceive the risk of infections from water parks as lower than the risk of drowning, when in fact, national data indicate that infections are more common than drowning each year.

    Water park staff and parents can work together to prevent infections. Staff can follow state-of-the-art steps to managing risks of cryptosporidiosis, which include treating with high levels of chlorine intermittently and using ozone or ultra-violet treatment technologies.

    Parents can follow these easy steps:

  • Wash thoroughly with soap and water (especially for young children in the diaper region) before swimming.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
  • Remind children not to swallow the water and to avoid getting water in the mouth.
  • Do not swim when sick with diarrhea.
  • C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health..

    Information on Recreational Water Illnesses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Caribbean, Mexico Vacations Cheaper for Military

    For active duty and retired U.S. military personnel who want lower-priced vacations, All Inclusive Outlet offers a $50 discount off the lowest price on any resort in its more than 275 resorts. All Inclusive Outlet specializes in all inclusive vacations to the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama.

    This Active Duty and Retired U.S. Military Personnel Discount runs through Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2011.

    Bookings must be made by phone at 888/403-2822. Mention “Military50” to receive the discount, which is available for new bookings made by Nov. 11, 2011. Military verification will be required.

    While bookings must be made over the phone, there is information on more than 275 resorts and 16 destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico on the company’s website,

    All Inclusive Outlet or 888/403-2822 .

    Chesterfield Palm Beach Hot Summer Special

    Stay two nights at the Chesterfield Palm Beach and get a $60 credit to spend in the hotel’s restaurant and gift shop.

      Called the Road Trip to Paradise package, it includes
    • Two nights’ accommodations
    • Breakfast daily
    • 15 percent discount off food and beverage (exclusions apply)
    • Free wireless Internet
    • Free valet service

    The package starts from $185 per night (excluding taxes and gratuities) based on two adults in a Superior Queen room. A minimum two-night stay applies and the package is valid through Sep. 30, 2011.

    Chesterfield Palm Beach or 800/243-7871.


    Bed Bug Kit Banner

    Scenic Cruises Fly Free and Early Bird Savings

    Scenic Cruises’ European 2012 river cruising schedule is highlighted by early bird savings for departures reserved by Oct.31, 2011, subject to availability.

    A division of Scenic Tours, the 2012 cruise schedule includes the Rhine, Main, Moselle, Danube, Rhone, Saone and Nile.

    With all-inclusive itineraries and tour enrichment program, Scenic Cruises rekindles leisurely river travel while seeing and experiencing breathtaking landscapes, historic locations, and timeless art and culture.

    Scenic Cruises offers value with a variety of Early Bird savings. For example, the Fly Free to Europe offer allows a couple to save up to $4,390 on airfare when reserving a 21-day or more all-inclusive European river voyage and tour.

    Your floating hotel offers staterooms and suites with private balconies, superb cuisine, local entertainment and tour directors.

    From the time you arrive until you depart for home, there are no hidden costs. Scenic Cruises' all-inclusive fares include all sightseeing, dining, highlight events, optional tours, tips and gratuities.

    Scenic Cruises newest vessel, Scenic Crystal, will join the fleet in March 2012. Scenic Crystal will be the first to offer the 'Sun Lounge' where, at the press of a button, the private outdoor balcony becomes weatherproof.

    Scenic Cruises offers Fly Free and other Early Bird savings for the 2012 cruise season. Reservations must be made by Oct. 31, 2011, and are subject to availability.

    Scenic Cruises chartered the Sergey Kutchkin, Russia's newest cruise ship. A highlight of the Sergey Kutchkin is that 70 percent of the staterooms and suites have their own private balconies. Other features include a 58-square-metre Imperial Suite, cabins with en suite bath rooms, satellite TV, in-room safe, and mini bar.

    A Scenic Tours cruise director is onboard for each voyage, along with five expert English-speaking program directors.

    Scenic Cruises or 888/824-2418.

    Club Med WOW Sale

    BOOK BY AUG. 29 - - Club Med again offers its WOW Sale, featuring seven night all-inclusive vacations from $899 per person. The rate is based on double occupancy in a minimum category room with a seven-night minimum stay. The offer available is at select resorts and does not include airfare. Club Med Membership fees of $60 per adult and $30 per child are additional.

    For the first time, this offer is available for travel more than one year out, allowing you to book a vacation through October 2012. The earlier you book, the more you can save. To take advantage of this rate, you must book by Aug. 29, 2011, for travel through Oct. 27, 2012.

    A Club Med all-inclusive escape has everything included in one price. You get dining throughout the day and a full open bar with premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. You can take part in activities such as tennis or yoga at sunset, and enjoy nightly entertainment every evening.

    Club Med caters to families with family rooms and children-friendly activities including petit tennis, golf and circus school.

    Club Med makes it easy to travel with a baby with the Baby Welcome Program. Highchairs, cribs, strollers, bottle warmers, bathtubs and more are available upon arrival.

    Club Med or 800/ClubMed.

    468x60_Graphic Banner_DropDownbanner

    Vision Airlines Flights to Grand Bahama

    Vision Airlines will add flights to Grand Bahama Island starting November 2012.

    The flights will originate from Ft Lauderdale, FL, Louisville, KY, Richmond, VA, Raleigh/Durham, NC and Baltimore/Washington airports. Additionally, direct flights (one-stop, no change of plane) will be available from Destin/Ft Walton Beach.

    Flights will begin the week of Nov. 14, 2011. The new fares will start from $99 roundtrip from Ft Lauderdale and from $149 each way from the other cities. Three night package will be offered from $299 per person (double occupancy).

    Vision Airlines will add Richmond, Raleigh/Durham and Baltimore/Washington when service to Grand Bahama Island begins in the fall.

    Vision Airlines or 877/FLY-A-JET..

    Cayuga “Your Age is Your Discount” Promo

    Pack your bags because the Your Age is Your Discount promo is at all six Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality resorts and hotels in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

    Your Age is your Discount promotion means what the name implies; the age of the oldest traveler equals the total percentage discount off the hotel room rate. Bring 100-year-old Aunt Ethel and the stay is 100 percent free.

    Valid for stays Aug. 28 through Nov. 15, 2011, the promo can be applied to room rates at Latitude 10 Beach Resort in Santa Teresa, Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn outside San Jose, Arenas Del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio, the Harmony Hotel in Nosara and Jicaro Island Ecolodge near Granada, Nicaragua. Due to Lapa Rios Ecolodge’s all-inclusive status, there is a maximum 50 percent discount in place.

    Although activities vary at each resort, they can include spa services, yoga, adventure tours, hiking and watersports. Adults love the no-traffic and kids get in touch with their wild side with the surrounding jungles teeming with birds, monkeys and more.

    Your Age is Your Discount cannot be combined with any other promotion and does not apply to existing reservations.

    “Your Age is Your Discount” vacation.

    Ski Lake Tahoe Six-Pack Lift Tickets on Sale

    Ski Lake Tahoe resorts offer the Ski Lake Tahoe six-pack lift ticket. Valid at all seven resorts and priced at $299, this transferrable lift ticket offers flexibility and savings for people planning a winter vacation to Lake Tahoe for the 2011-12 winter season.

    A limited number of Ski Lake Tahoe six-pack lift tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The six-pack lift tickets are valid throughout the 2011-12 season (see blackout dates below) and do not have to be used on consecutive days. The lift tickets are fully transferrable to family and friends.

      The Ski Lake Tahoe six-pack lift ticket includes:
    • 1 ticket valid at Heavenly, Kirkwood or Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe
    • 1 ticket valid at Heavenly or Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort
    • 1 ticket valid at Kirkwood or Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort
    • 1 ticket valid at Alpine Meadows or Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort
    • 1 ticket valid at Squaw Valley USA, Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort or Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe
    • 1 ticket valid at Squaw Valley USA or Alpine Meadows

    You can only use one voucher per six-pack redeemable per resort, per day. Holiday blackout dates include: Nov. 26 to 27, 2011; Dec. 25, 2011; Jan. 1, 2012; Jan. 15 to 16, 2012; and Feb. 18 to 19, 2012. Lift tickets cannot be resold.

    Ski Lake Tahoe Six-Pack Lift Ticket .


    Callpod Inc.

    Low Fares for Crystal's NY to Caribbean Cruise

    Crystal Cruises marks down its Oct. 25, 2011 New York to Miami Caribbean cruise with savings up to 67 percent off brochure fares. Fares for the 12-day sailing on Crystal Symphony start at $2,995 per person, including $1000 per couple "As You Wish" shipboard spending credits.

    Sailing from New York, ports of call include Bermuda, St. Maarten, Antigua, Aruba and the Cayman Islands. The cruise offers free workshops and classes including digital filmmaking from Travel Channel Academy founders; insights from Shelby Coffee, formerly editor of the L.A. Times; and U.S. State Dept. Senior Foreign Service Officer Robert Warne. Animal lovers can help care for stray donkeys via Crystal's "You Care, We Care" voluntourism excursion in Antigua.

    Crystal Cruises or 888/799-4625.

    Americans Can Go to Cuba Legally

    For the last 50 years, most Americans have been prohibited from traveling to Cuba. Now you can start packing! Insight Cuba, the provider of legal people-to-people travel to Cuba has been reauthorized by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to send Americans to Cuba. When the Obama administration reversed the previous administration’s policy and posted new travel regulations allowing people-to-people educational travel, Insight Cuba was among the first to submit its application for a new license.

    Anyone can reserve a spot on a travel program to Cuba from August 2011 through September 2012. There are six new itineraries, which can be found on Insight Cuba’s website, that provide access to people and places the average traveler rarely sees.

    Insight Cuba hand picks experiences for its groups, which are kept small (maximum 16 participants). The comfort level is high, with four- and five-star hotels and all meals included. Prices (per person, double occupancy) cover ground transport, domestic flights in Cuba (where required), all entry fees, professional guide services, U.S. Treasury Department license and Letter of Authorization, and travel insurance.

    Seven night trips start from $2,495. A three night weekend trip to Havana start from $1,695. A single supplement is $300, $200 for the Weekend in Havana. Altogether there are more than 130 departures.

    Insight Cuba or 800/450-CUBA.

    Eat Free When the Sun Doesn’t Shine

    Yuma, AZ has an average of 350 days of sunshine a year.

    Back in the day, Yuma hotels boasted that they offered “free board every day the sun doesn’t shine.” In honor of Arizona’s Centennial celebration, the whole community will renew the historic offer for 12 months.

    The new “free board” campaign will provide free meals at participating restaurants for registered guests of participating hotels. An officially sunless day – “Code Gloom” – will be declared by a committee of the Yuma Visitors Board staff, board members and meteorologists as of 5 p.m. and announced to the public when hotels place a life-sized cutout of an umbrella-toting Yuma Mayor Alan Krieger in their lobbies.

    Hotels then will validate and date-stamp “free board” certificates which will be good until 5 p.m. the next day for a free meal (or $10 discount) at variety of restaurants.

    Other area businesses have tie-in specials, discounts or giveaways, with free tastings at the local winery and free admission to the Yuma Territorial Prison Park and Museum.

    Yuma Visitors Bureau or 800/293-0100.

    $20 Off Promotion

    Smart Phone App for PA State Parks, Forests

    The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources partners with the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation and ParksByNature Network to offer a state parks and forests mobile app for smart phones.

    The app will allow you to search for park and forest locations; activities and events; get directions; share photos and make a reservation.

    The software has both free and paid versions that are available through the Apple App Store and Android market. The paid version, which includes additional GPS features, costs $3.99.

    The free features are: search by activity; search by park, forest or region; current park and forest events; news, alerts, and location weather updates; park information such as hours; maps of facilities, trails and campgrounds; state park or forest history; directions; contact information; and online reservations.

    Apple link Android link .

    DCNR Pennsylvania state parks and forests.

    Insel Air Intro Fare Sale $366.70

    BOOK BY AUG. 13 - - Insel Air introduces their new service from Charlotte, NC to Bonaire on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire is 68 miles east of Aruba.

    The booking window for the introductory fare of $366.70 is valid through Aug. 13, 2011, for travel until Dec. 14, 2011. The fare includes government taxes, surcharges and the Bonaire airport departure tax. Seats are limited and sample fares may not be available on all flights.

    The flight will depart from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (CLT) and arrive into Bonaire International Airport (BON) via Curacao (CUR).

    Insel Air.

    Tourism Corporation Bonaire or 800/BONAIRE.

    RESORT REPORT – Chateau on the Lake, Branson, Missouri – photos and article by Kay Douglas

    Chateau on the Lake, Branson MO IN A NUTSHELL: This imposing AAA four-diamond resort just outside Branson provides a wide spectrum of amenities in a lovely lakeside setting. Chateau on the Lake features 301 guest rooms decorated in French country style, large outdoor and indoor swimming pools, several hot tubs, a full-service private marina, tennis courts, a well-equipped fitness center, walking trails, a 14,000-sqare-foot spa housed in a separate building, large conference and small meeting facilities, gift and clothing shops, play areas and a children’s activity club, a small movie theater, pet-friendly rooms, and a full range of dining options.

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The resort’s stunning Ozark mountain setting is echoed in the extensive use of stone and natural materials throughout the buildings. A signature effect is the sky-lit atrium in the center of the lobby, featuring a meandering stream filled with koi, a waterfall, and numerous full-sized trees and shrubs. The outdoor theme in the lobby is enhanced by the use of large garden umbrellas, soft patio-style lighting, teak benches, and bird cages. Outdoors, the landscaping is similarly impressive, particularly the cascade-style entry garden.

    My companion and I took a glass-sided elevator from the atrium up to our spacious ninth-floor lake view king room. We were immediately drawn to the panoramic view from the balcony of Table Rock Lake.

    At each stage of our check-in, we were cordially welcomed by doormen, porters, and the reception staff.

    Chateau on Lake Atrium lobbyWHO WOULD ENJOY IT: Playing up successfully to its prime natural setting, the resort will appeal to those seeking a relaxing experience or a memorable getaway. The resort offers special packages tailored to romantic rendezvous, girlfriend getaways, spa retreats, and relaxing family vacations.

    With its proximity to several notable golf courses and its lakeside marina, Chateau on the Lake is also a good choice for golfers and water sports enthusiasts. And since there are meeting rooms, a catering and event staff, and a variety of intimate gathering spaces, the resort would be an ideal spot for an upscale family reunion, wedding, or other special gathering.

    However, in my opinion, those who are planning to spend time primarily on Branson’s entertainment strip are missing the point of this resort, which is less about glitz and razzle-dazzle than appreciating a serene natural setting.

    STAYING IN: Taking full advantage of the resort’s ambience, I spent time walking on nature trails and kayaking out on the lake when I wasn’t sitting on the terrace overlooking the lake or, most memorably, enjoying an afternoon at the spa.

    I booked a blissfully soothing 50-minute massage, which wasn’t cheap at $115 (plus 20 percent service charge), but in hindsight I could easily have taken full advantage of the spa’s amenities and given the entire day over to relaxation. The spa truly is a stress-reducing haven, with eucalyptus-scented steam rooms, luxurious lounge areas, an outdoor Roman-style whirlpool bath, yoga studio, and hair salon. The Spa offers an appropriately light lunch menu as well.

    Chateau on Lake Marina In the evening, after dinner in the upscale Chateau Grill, I took a relaxing swim in the outdoor pool, charmed by antics of tiny tree frogs who were hopping about poolside and loudly serenading visitors. A nightcap in the posh Library lounge, with its cozy groupings of overstuffed leather chairs, was the perfect end to the evening.

    STEPPING OUT: The Chateau’s concierge can arrange any number of excursions in downtown Branson’s famed entertainment district, which is about 10 minutes away by car. There are also activities on the lake that are highly recommended, such as renting a boat or taking a cruise on a sailing catamaran. Another option is to take advantage of nearby golf courses, one of which, Branson Creek Golf Club, has been described as “the Pebble Beach of the Midwest.”

    Chateau on Lake guestroomBANG FOR YOUR BUCK: I’ve already sung the praises of the Spa, but here’s even better news: resort guests can enjoy its steam rooms, lockers, showers, lounges, relaxation rooms, whirlpools and other amenities for a $25 flat fee.

    The Chateau also offers several notable freebies: free afternoon and evening G- or PG-rated films in a cute downstairs cinema, not to mention free use of non-motorized watercraft (kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats) at the Marina.

    Room rates vary considerably depending on room type, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that a lower-floor standard room midweek in early September, for example, runs $119 ($107 with AAA or AARP discount). A lake view king room such as the one I stayed in ranges from $143 (with discounts) up to $269, depending on day of the week and season. Clearly, a savvy traveler with some flexibility could opt for off-peak times and get a fairly good deal.

    An especially appealing promotion this summer through Sep. 1, 2011, offers three nights for the price of two on Sunday through Thursday night stays, with certain restrictions on types of rooms available. There are also a number of packages, such as a Bed and Breakfast special, that can offer significant savings.

    Chateau on Lake view from lakeside room balconyRAVES AND RAZZES:

    Raves: I think it’s already pretty clear that I was smitten by the setting of the resort and its “upscale outdoorsy” ambience, but I’d like to single out the gorgeous stonework throughout the facilities as being especially noteworthy.

    A number of the staff went out of their way to be helpful, such as the doorman who offered a bottle of ice-cold water when I came in huffing and puffing after a brisk walk. The no-smoking policy throughout the hotel and no-cell phones rule in the spa are also commendable.

    Razzes: The indoor pool reeked of chlorine. Luckily, the outdoor pool did not.

    Much as I was struck by the appealing-sounding menu at both the Chateau Grille and Atrium Cafe, I was a little taken aback when my food arrived as I found the sauces both over salted and too sweet. However, in contrast my companion’s food was quite good, in line with what one would expect from a four-star resort, leading me to conclude that there were anomalies on the menu, and I had somehow had the misfortune to select them.

    PRACTICALITIES: Visit Chateau on the Lake’s website, for booking and specific information on packages.

    Note that as of 2009, Branson now has a new local airport serviced by AirTran, Sun Country, and in September 2011, Frontier Airlines.

    Casa Colina’s Low Season Rates

    Casa Colina, a villa on Isla Navidad near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, offers low season rates that make staying more affordable. Through September 2011, low season rates begin at $2900 per night, nearly 50 percent off high season prices of $4900. Mid-season rates of $3800 per night are valid Oct. 1, through Nov. 20, 2011 and Feb. 1, through Apr. 30, 2012.

    The six-bedroom Casa Colina offers a five percent discount per bedroom not used during a guest’s stay during low season. For example, if you had eight people in your party and required only four rooms, you would get a 10 percent discount for not using the two other bedrooms. Rates include airport pickup and drop off, private chef and staff, and laundry services. The villa’s staff is onsite every day. Rates exclude food, beverages and phone charges.

    Casa Colina is on a hillside with 360-degree views of the countryside and sea. The villa’s outdoor area includes an infinity-edge pool, Jacuzzi, BBQ, and lounge chairs and umbrellas. Inside, there is a surround-sound home theatre with a 65” Panasonic plasma TV, satellite receiver, DVD player, fitness center, chilled towels and water and fold-back windows with views of the ocean and mountains.

    Dining options include meals prepared by a private chef, dinner on the terrace with candles floating in the pool, the indoor/outdoor Top of the World Palapa with fully-stocked bar and views of the mountains and ocean and the Lagoon View Lounge with a brick cathedral ceiling.

    If you want to explore the area near Casa Colina, the villa’s staff can arrange day trips including the beaches in Barra de Navidad and the Playa La Audiencia on Santiago Peninsula where Bo Derek’s movie 10 was filmed. You can also see the Colima volcano, the most active volcano in Mexico, or go horseback riding on the beach.

    Golf enthusiasts have access to the Isla Navidad Grand Bay Resort, near Casa Colina with a 27-hole golf course; lagoon-side tennis courts; horseback riding; water sports such as kayaking and Hobie Cats; and deep-sea fishing available year-round at the Grand Bay Aquatic Club.

    Junior and master suites have balconies, private gardens, Jacuzzi tubs, and views of the ocean and mountains. Guestrooms can be tailored for families with children or couples.

    A 50% deposit is required to secure booking. Balance is payable 14 days prior to booking. Security and provisioning deposit is equivalent to one night’s rate.

    Casa Colina or 312/479-2874.

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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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