About Travel Features Syndicate

Karen Rubin is an eclectic travel writer who has been spanning the globe for more than 30 years reporting on interesting, intriguing people and places to explore for magazines, newspapers and online. She publishes Travel Features Syndicate in newspapers and online including examiner.com, Huffington Post and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate and blogs at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. "Travel is a life-changing and an interactive experience that mutually benefits travelers and community." Contact Karen at FamTravLtr@aol.com. 'Like' us at www.facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

New Flights, Expanded Service Ease Access to Colorado Ski Resorts

Winter Park, Colorado. New flights and expanded airline service from major hub airports will make Colorado Ski Country USA ever more accessible to skiers and snowboarders from all over the world this winter © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Denver, Colo. –New flights and expanded airline service from major hub airports will make Colorado Ski Country USA ever more accessible to skiers and snowboarders from all over the world this winter. New service from San Francisco (SFO) and Washington, D.C. (IAD) and expanded options from Los Angeles (LAX) and Houston (IAH) will bring domestic and international guests directly into the heart of Colorado Ski Country more conveniently than ever before.

Whether a short drive from Denver, a direct flight from across the country, or a direct international flight from one of eight different countries, guests to Colorado resorts have easy, efficient and comfortable options available to land them at their favorite Colorado resorts.

DIA – The Global Gateway to Colorado Ski Country

Having expanded its international service with United Airlines’ nonstop flight from Tokyo in 2013, Denver International Airport (DIA) recently announced that United will commence daily service from Panama City, Panama in early December 2014. With the addition of flights to and from Panama City, the airport will now receive visitors directly from eight different countries – Australia, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, Panama, and the United Kingdom.

DIA is one of the busiest airports in the world, and benefits from numerous direct flights from all major cities from coast-to-coast in the US.

From DIA, travelers can reach seven resorts in less than a two hour drive; Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area, Winter Park Resort, Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Ski Cooper and Ski Granby Ranch.

Alternatively, once they arrive at DIA, visitors can easily connect to any of Colorado’s regional resort community airports, including Alamosa, Aspen, Durango, Eagle, Gunnison-Crested Butte, Grand Junction, Montrose, and Steamboat.

Direct Flights to Regional Airports

In some cases, additional flight options allow guests to fly right to a resort direct from their originating city. These regional hotbeds include nonstop flights from  Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Newark, Phoenix, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. With eight regional airports in mountain and resort communities, direct flights can put travelers slope side in no time.

Travelers headed to Aspen/Snowmass have some 150 direct and connecting flights fly weekly into Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. From the airport, it’s only six miles to Snowmass Village and three miles to Aspen.

United Airlines provides daily direct flights to Aspen/Pitkin County Airport from Houston, along with four daily direct flights from Los Angeles and 13 daily flights from Denver on peak days. This is in addition to the airport’s four daily direct flights from Chicago/O’Hare and two daily direct flights from San Francisco, bringing United’s total frequency up to 24 daily flights in and out of Aspen/Snowmass this winter.

American Airlines utilizes CRJ-700 aircraft operated by American Eagle to provide 63 seats with nonstop service from Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles each with daily nonstop service to Aspen. In addition, from December 18 – March 29 Delta will provide service into Aspen/Pitkin County Airport from Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Guests can find deals at www.StayAspenSnowmass.com and www.FlyAspenSnowmass.com.”

Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport services direct flights from Denver, Dallas and Houston, and Chicago/O’Hare. Through American and United Airlines’ extensive flight networks, guests can get to Crested Butte from anywhere in the world. Upon landing, shuttles are available to transport guests to resorts in the area such as Crested Butte or Monarch Mountain. Guests can also utilize rental car services from Hertz, Avis, or Budget.

United Airlines will have two nonstop round trip flights daily between Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport and Denver, while American Airlines will have one nonstop round trip flight daily between Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with an additional second service in the peak holiday period. In addition, United Airlines will provide daily service from Houston International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. (For detailed information, visit http://bit.ly/2014-15-CBMR-ski-flights.)

The Durango/La Plata Airport serves as Purgatory, Wolf Creek Ski Area and Silverton’s main portal for guests who are travelling lengthy distances. American Airlines offers daily nonstop jet service from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, US Airways offers service from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and Untied offers service from Denver International Airport. The San Luis Valley Regional Airport, which lies closest to Wolf Creek Ski Area, offers three nonstop flights to Denver International Airport.

Steamboat’s winter nonstop flight program will feature new nonstop service from San Francisco International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport, expanded nonstop air service on the Los Angeles and Seattle routes and an additional weekend Houston flight directly into Steamboat/Hayden Airport (HDN) for the 2014/15 winter season.

New for the 2014/2015 ski and snowboard season will be Saturday nonstop service to HDN from San Francisco (SFO) and Washington-Dulles (IAD). In addition, Los Angeles (LAX) and Seattle (SEA) flights will both add an additional day of service during the winter. A new Houston (IAH) overnight flight, arriving Saturday and departing Sunday, rounds out the new offerings for the program.  The resort’s upcoming flight program provides access from 11 major airports on key U.S. carriers – Alaska, American, Delta and United Airlines. In addition to the cities mentioned above, Steamboat’s winter flight program includes service from Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and New York/Newark.

The 2014/2015 winter flight schedule provides convenient connections from more than 300 airports nationwide and worldwide. Airfares and packages are currently available for purchase through Steamboat at 1-800-922-2722 or www.steamboat.com/winter-flights.

On the Western Slope of Colorado, passengers arriving into Grand Junction Regional Airport will find themselves at Powderhorn’s lifts in under an hour.

Sunlight Resort, nestled in nearby Glenwood Springs, is accessible via Aspen/Pitkin airport as well as Eagle Airport, and Grand Junction Airport. The Sunlight Shuttle runs to and from Glenwood Springs, as does the Roaring Fork Transit Authority.

With nonstop flights from 10 metropolitan airports and nine major U.S. hubs, visitors can find flights into the Telluride-Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) on Delta from Atlanta, on United from Denver, Newark, Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles, on American from Dallas, on US Airways from Phoenix-Sky Harbor (PHX), and on Allegiant from Los Angeles and Phoenix-Mesa (IWA).

Perched on Tennessee Pass just outside of historic Leadville, Ski Cooper is a hidden Gem resort that is nonetheless easy to find: Eagle Country Airport is just over an hour drive from Ski Cooper.

Information about CSCUSA and its members can be found at www.ColoradoSki.com, on Twitter @ColoradoSkiUSA and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ColoradoSkiCountryUSA.

 

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Historic Hotels of America Presents its Most Haunted Hotels

Drop in any night to “America’s Most Haunted Hotel”: The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is host to a wide variety of spirits.

Washington, D.C. –  Historic Hotels of America invites travelers to visit America’s most haunted hotels. More than 110 historic hotels are still home to friendly hauntings. From spooky hotel tours and spirited stories, to real life hauntings, many members of Historic Hotels of America have great getaways in store for guests. Take advantage of fall themed packages available on HistoricHotels.org. Here are some tales for the traveler interested in haunted hospitality:

Admiral Fell Inn (1770) Baltimore, Maryland

The Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore has changed since the time when it was filled with crime-ridden saloons, brothels, and shipyards, but that doesn’t mean the spirits of the time have left. The Admiral Fell Inn is no stranger to ghost stories. Guests have often reported seeing floating sailors and disappearing butlers knocking on their doors. A hotel manager is also said to have heard a loud party after the hotel was evacuated during a hurricane. This comes as no surprise as parts of the building date back to the 1770s when it was a theater and boarding house where seamen, immigrants and “ladies of the night” would pass through.

To book your fall getaway click here.

1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (1886) Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is host to a wide variety of spirits, hence the moniker “America’s Most Haunted Hotel.” It is said that after the skeleton frame of hotel had been constructed in the 1880s that one of the Irish stone masons plunged to his death in what is now guestroom 218. This room proves to be the most spiritually active room in the hotel and has attracted television film crews for decades because of the quantity and quality of the ghost sightings reported. Throughout the history of the  hotel, employees have referred to this entity at “Michael,” a classified poltergeist due to the nature of the unexplained activity. Guests have witnessed hands coming out of the bathroom mirror, cries of a falling man in the ceiling, the door opening then slamming shut, unable to be opened again. The intrigue of this activity had drawn guests to specifically request the historic accommodations of guestroom 218 for the chance of experiencing something.

To book your fall getaway click here.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1887) Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island Club Hotel (1887) Jekyll Island, Georgia. Is it JP Morgan’s cigar smoke that you smell in Sans Souci? © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Sans Souci, one of the separate buildings of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel is a four-story structure that was designed by Charles Alling Gifford in 1896. It was originally a condominium with apartments for six members and their families. One of these members, J. Pierpont Morgan, was especially fond of the large porch which graced the front of his apartment and allowed a view of the Jekyll River. He was a cigar smoker and would rise every morning at 5:00 a.m. to have a smoke on the porch without criticism from others. Morgan was fond of large, black cigars shaped like Hercules’ club, and they say you’d know where he was there by following the trail of the smoke. Contemporary guests who occupy this third floor, north end accommodation usually are not up at 5:00 in the morning, but several guests who have arisen at that hour have faintly smelled the odor of a cigar wafting about when absolutely no one else had been awake and certainly not one smoking a cigar.

To book your fall getaway click here.

The Omni Grove Park Inn (1913) Asheville, North Carolina

For nearly half a century there has been the belief by many employees and guests that there is a ghost who roams the hallways of the Main Inn. She is referred to as the Pink Lady because of the flowing pink gown she wears. It is believed that this young woman was a guest in guestroom 545 in the 1920s and that she either jumped or was pushed to her death in the Palm Court, five floors below. No records exist that support any of these claims but it may have been hushed up to avoid negative publicity. Reports of her sightings still occur, some say they just see a pink mist, others a full apparition of a young long-haired beauty in a pink gown.

To book your fall getaway click here.

The Red Lion Inn (1773) Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA: It has been said that guests have awoken to the feeling of someone standing over them at the foot of the bed © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ghostly rumors continue to swirl at the inn which has seen the likes of many paranormal investigators and mediums. The fourth floor, in particular, has been said to have the most activity. Both cleaning staff and guests have claimed to see a “ghostly young girl carrying flowers” and “a man in a top hat.” It has been said that guests have awoken to the feeling of someone standing over them at the foot of the bed. Cold spots, unexplained knocks, and electrical disturbances have all been reported. Guestroom 301 is also known to be a haunted hot spot.

To book your fall getaway click here.

The Stanley (1909) Estes Park, Colorado

When precisely the strange events began happening at the Stanley Hotel has never been documented, but interesting occurrences are a part of the history of this hotel. Ms. Elizabeth Wilson was the chief housekeeper at The Stanley Hotel in its very early days. On the evening of June 25, 1911, during a storm, she was involved in an explosion that took place as she was lighting the acetylene lanterns that were the back-up system for the hotel’s electricity. Ms. Wilson was shot down in the explosion from what is now guestroom 217 to the floor of the MacGregor Room one story below. She was not killed, but her ankles were broken. Since the 1950s, it has been reported that she might take special care of people who stay in 217. Sometimes guests staying in that room encounter extra housekeeping services, including having their things put away or unpacked.

To book your fall getaway click here.

Promoting Cultural & Heritage Travel to Prestigious Historic Treasures

Historic Hotels of America was founded in 1989 by the National Trust for Historic Preservationwith 32 charter members and today, has more than 260 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated properties, but more than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented. To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance. For more information, visit HistoricHotels.org.

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AccuWeather Enhances Marine Weather App with By-the-Minute Forecasts

AccuWeather, Inc., a global leader in digital weather information, announced that their Marine Weather™ by AccuWeather app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch now includes the new AccuWeather MinuteCast®. The patented forecast technology gives users by-the-minute precipitation forecasts for the next two hours, highly-localized right down to a user’s exact GPS location, boat slip, or street address, and with Superior Accuracy™.

“Boaters within 400nm of the coast can use AccuWeather MinuteCast to help track and time storms that may be in their area,” said Steven Smith, Chief Digital Officer of AccuWeather, Inc. “MinuteCast includes precipitation type and intensity, and start and end times for precipitation. Users can even select a point on a nautical map or chart to get MinuteCast for that location, in addition to their current location. This type of detail and precision provides mariners with a level of insight into weather conditions they’ve never had before. AccuWeather provides this information exclusively in support of our ongoing dedication and commitment to helping improve safety and save lives everywhere.”

In addition to the exclusive AccuWeather MinuteCast, the updated app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch now offers worldwide buoy data, high and low tides for hundreds of locations around the United States, United Kingdom and Australia coastlines. Animated weather radar and maps are available for the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain and Australia, as well as additional maps that show sea surface temperatures and anomalies, and wave heights and surface winds. Wave heights and surface wind data are available for every three-hour time period through to 180 hours.

Tropical weather maps for the Atlantic and Pacific oceans include the window of movement of every named tropical system, severe weather watches and warnings, radius of the wind, storm surges, as well as storm history information.

Marine weather forecast information is available for the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain and Australia. For the United States, Marine Weather by AccuWeather includes all coastal regions, the Great Lakes, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Marine Weather by AccuWeather is a free app available from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.AppStore.com.

An ad free version of the app, Marine Weather Platinum by AccuWeather, includes ocean current predictions.

AccuWeather MinuteCast can also be accessed through www.AccuWeather.com.

 

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America’s Largest WW II Reenactment Takes Place at D-Day Conneaut, Ohio, Aug 22-23

GIs hit the shores of Lake Erie in authentic Higgens Boats, during D-Day Conneaut, America’s largest World War II reenactment, taking place Aug. 22-23, 2014.

Over 1,400 reenactors from all over the Untied States and Canada will converge on Conneaut, Ohio, August 22-23, 2014, to replay D-Day, making this America’s largest World War II reenactment.

D-Day Conneaut, which is free to the public, is a premier WWII living history event as well as a cultural, historical, and highly authentic reenactment of the days and weeks leading up to and including the Invasion of France. Three mock battles are fought during the reenactment.

You can explore fully working Allied and Axis camps complete with troops and their equipment, and view numerous living history displays with reenactors depicting medical units, weapons depots, field kitchens, the Red Cross, war photographers, and radio switchboards and communication stations.

You can watch demonstrations on tactics and firing of weapons including the only live firing German 88 in the United States and see the vehicles they used including a 1944 M4-A3 Sherman Tank, DUKW amphibious craft and working Higgins boats.

You are invited to meet WWII veterans who served and hear their stories. Last year over 125 WWII veterans attended the event as honored guests.

This year, as part of the ceremonies, there will be an official pinning of Legion of Honor. Dignitaries representing the Unites States, Canada, France and Norway who will address the crowd on Saturday, starting at noon.

On Friday afternoon there is an aerial show of the planes rehearsing for the main event on Saturday, when 3/4 scale T-51 Mustangs and a fully restored B-25 Bomber will fly over the beaches.

“Each year reenactors from as far away as California and Canada make the pilgrimage (at their own expense) to Conneaut to keep the stories alive and honor those who gave so much.”

With over 1400 reenactors participating, D-Day Conneaut is the largest US reenactment of the European Theater of Operations and D-Day Normandy invasion and now the largest WWII reenactment in the country.

Some 20,000 visitors are expected to converge on Conneaut for this year’s reenactment, which began in 1999.

The event occurs within the beautifully kept grounds of Conneaut Township Park, in Conneaut, Ohio, on the shore of Lake Erie, near the border of Ohio/Pennsylvania, just off Interstate 90.

Conneaut’s 250 yard long beach and sloping adjacent terrain, where the main battle reenactment takes place, bears an uncanny resemblance to Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Other areas of the park provide secluded venues for recreations of inland skirmishes between the occupying German soldiers, French resistance fighters, and Allied parachute and Glider infantry.

“D-Day Conneaut’s mission is to educate the public about the sacrifice of those who fought and those who died on the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944 and to encourage remembrance, honor, and respect for the soldiers of the Allied and Axis armies of World War II.

“Through the encampments, battle reenactments, lectures, displays and tours, the public gains an understanding of the events that occurred prior to June 6, 1944, and the sacrifices made during and after the invasion.

Visit the Schedule page to see a complete program schedule and listing of events in and around Conneaut, all designed to help honor and celebrate the accomplishments of “The Greatest Generation”. first-time visitors can also go to the First Timers link for some additional tips and information (www.ddayohio.us/first-timer.htm).

Reenactors are encouraged to camp with their unit  on site, but visitors can take advantage of numerous bed and breakfast inns and a few quaint motor lodges, plus a campground, that are located near the park/event.  For a list of other lodging options in the Conneaut area, go to everythingconneautohio.info/where-to-stay.

Further travel information is available at www.ddayohio.us/travel-info.htm.

For information, go to www.ddayohio.us.

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New York State Highlights Nifty New Attractions Across State for Travelers

The magnificent Hudson River Valley. There is still time to explore this summer and fall © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There is still time to take advantage of the many new and exciting activities available across New York State this summer and into the fall. With new thrill rides, dining venues and entertainment concepts, as well as new ways to explore the Empire State’s natural beauty and history, there are more reasons than ever before to explore New York State this season.

“New York State offers unparalleled opportunities to millions of travelers every season, and this summer is no exception,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “Both New Yorkers and visitors alike can enjoy a wide variety of experiences, from outdoor adventure to family-friendly activities to some of the very best cuisine. Supporting these local destinations provides a boost to local economies, and gives all visitors an opportunity to explore the best of what the Empire State has to offer.”

The variety of and accessibility to world-class attractions in New York is unrivaled, with something to do in every corner of the State. Visitors can dine in downstate Saratoga Springs, stay in lodging along Cayuga Lake, ice skate indoors on Long Island, and learn about the history of Lake George.

(See also: New York State Partners with ResponsibleTravel on Sustainable Travel Online Guide, Itineraries)

A sampling of some of the exciting new places to visit, stay and dine at across the New York State includes:

New Things to Do and Places to Go

Adirondacks

Extreme Supernova, a new thrill ride at The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George, takes riders on an adrenaline-pumping, pendulum-swinging, spinning adventure that takes them fifty feet up in the air and sends them head-over-heels with swings and unpredictable spins. The ride joins the park’s 135 attractions which include thrill and family rides and a water park.

Thanks to a land purchase by New York State, OK Slip Falls in Indian Lake, the highest free-falling cataract in Adirondack Park, is now open to the public. Square Eddy Rafting Outfitter is offering a “Hike In – Raft Out” expedition that explores the newly acquired New York State lands. Trips begin with an intermediate level hike to the top of the falls and then down to the Hudson River. Hikers are met with rafts and spend the rest of the day on the Hudson River running rapids and enjoying the float out.

Explore History Tours, which offers walking tours around Lake George’s historic locations led by guides in 1750’s museum quality period dress, has added evening tours this year. The evening tours depart on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and cover about ¾ mile in 1½ hours, accommodating people of all ages and fitness.

A new bicycle shop, LeepOff Cycles, now open in Wilmington on State Route 86, caters to mountain bikers and all types and levels of cyclists. Wilmington is known as a great destination for mountain biking with a network of well-maintained trails and scenic loops for road cycling.
Lake Placid keeps getting more interesting. Two new businesses illustrate its breadth of interests: Jin Jin’s, a women’s clothing boutique featuring stylish, comfortable clothing and a new branch of Saratoga Olive Oil offers flavored oils and vinegars as well as other gourmet products, most of which can be tasted on-site.

Indian Lake has added two specialty shops on State Route 30 in the past year: Kim’s Country Corner, a collectibles store which sells gifts and home decor and the Adirondack Pickle Ladies, which makes and sells handcrafted pickle products as well as home-baked breads, granolas, pies and other delectables.

Capital-Saratoga

Spa City Market, a year-round farmers market selling top local goods with live music and an entertainment/education section for children, takes place every Sunday from 10am-3pm, (indoors during the winter season) on the site of the historic Lincoln Bath House in Saratoga Springs. The summer, the market will also be held Tuesdays from 3-6 p.m.

Catskills

The iconic 1,300-acre Kutscher’s resort in Sullivan County, which starred in the movie “Dirty Dancing” and was one of the well-known Borscht Belt resorts, has been sold to Veria Lifestyle to be transformed into a healthy living resort expected to open in 2015.

Hancock-based international hunting and fly fishing guide Jim “Coz” Costolnick has added a Paddle and Peddle division to his company, Border Water Outfitters. The shop now rents Trex Hybrid Bikes for adults and children and provides suggested routes. Canoes and kayaks are also available. All rentals include mandatory safety equipment. Boaters can enjoy a day either on the Cannonsville Reservoir or on the waters of the Delaware River and the shop provides shuttle service for those using their own watercraft.

Finger Lakes

The best of New York’s agriculture, entertainment, education, industry and technology is coming to the fun-filled Great New York State Fair, Aug. 21 – Sept. 1, at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

The fair boasts more than 375 acres of animals, exhibits and displays, plus games of skill and new midway rides, including the RC48, the second-largest roller coaster in the country. Enjoy performances from some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood and Barenaked Ladies. Be sure to stop by the Taste New York Marketplace and tent to sample and purchase the best of New York’s culinary bounty.

Destiny USA in Syracuse has two new thrilling experiences:

WonderWorks Destiny USA introduces a new Apache Helicopter simulator, allowing those 13 and up to feel the power of navigating the skies in one of the Army’s most renowned machines.

Billy Beez, an indoor play/entertainment center themed around the adventures of a bee and his fellow rainforest creatures, leads kids through a fantastical journey. As they explore the rainforest, kids find a variety of play activities in addition to the park’s signature Rainbow slide, trampolines, obstacle courses and climbing walls.

Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures, an adventure park set in the forest canopy in Canandaigua, opened this spring with seven different courses offering varying levels of difficulty. Each course is made up of 12-15 elements such as zip lines, tightrope walks, rope ladders and bridges.

Roseland Bowl Family Fun Center, an 18,000 square-foot entertainment center in Canandaigua has recently expanded, adding laser tag, bumper cars and 30 new arcade games to its 44 bowling lanes.

Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley Distillers in Clermont, which creates distinctive spirits sourced from their farm and those of their neighbors, now welcomes guests for tours and tastings Fridays through Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. Housed in a 100 year old barn, the distillery centerpiece is a 60 gallon hybrid pot still, which places them among the Hudson Valley’s smallest farm distilleries.

Long Island

I.Fly Trapeze, which has been teaching trapeze for nine years at Eisenhower Park, has a new location at Long Beach near the boardwalk. Beginners can practice getting their legs on the bar and taking their hands off, and by mid-session may be ready to experience the thrill of a mid-air wrist to wrist catch with an instructor. No prior experience is necessary.

Adventure Park at Long Island, located on the forested grounds of the Henry Kaufman Campgrounds in Wheatley Heights, offers family fun for ages 7 and up. Opening June 21, the aerial forest adventure includes eight separate trails with five levels of difficulty. Each trail consist of “bridges” between tree platforms made of rope, cable and wood configurations creating over 130 unique challenges and incorporating 14 ziplines.

A new water ride at Splish Splash Water Park, Battle of Mutiny Bay, pits participants against roving bands of pirates and pesky sea creatures in a fun, interactive water battle as they wind through Mutiny Bay. Be prepared to get wet manning the water cannons and fighting off relentless water blasts from opposing cannons. The 96-acre water park, located in Calverton (near Riverhead) was voted one of the Best Waterparks in America by the Travel Channel.

The recently opened Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park, a 165,000 square-foot, world-class facility, has two indoor, NHL-sized skating rinks and an outdoor rink for summer roller and deck hockey leagues. Scheduled public skate sessions, a personal fitness/sports physical therapy training area, pro shop, private party rooms and a day camp are also available. The center will host figure skating competitions, curling events, speed-skating competitions, non-skating entertainment events and more.

Niagara Falls

The legendary Maid of the Mist first launched in 1846. And, for the first time it is only being offered on the US side. Back then, it was used to transport people, mail, luggage and cargo across the Niagara River. With the construction of a suspension bridge, the Maid of the Mist was re-branded as a Niagara Falls sightseeing adventure that is still operating. Go ahead and experience a Maid of the Mist excursion tour. Don a sporty blue rain slicker (provided) and enjoy an exhilarating 30-minute guided boat ride to the base of the American and Horseshoe Falls.

Thousand Islands

A new wilderness skill-building Adirondack Guide Series in New York State’s North Country gives boys and girls 12- to 18-years old the chance to learn and hone traditional skills of the Adirondacks. Five-day sessions in July and August, priced at $275, include shooting sports, wilderness backpacking and fishing with pros, some with overnight camping experiences. The series is offered by the Cornell University Cooperative Extension St. Lawrence County in Canton.

Club Rocky Top, a four room Adirondack Great Camp in South Colton, now offers dog sled rides (with carts) in the summer as well as the winter. Hiking trails and ATVs are also available to guests who want to explore the camp’s 600 acres of Adirondack wilderness and there’s a heated pool for unwinding afterwards.

New Places to Stay

Capital-Saratoga

Excelsior Springs, a new banquet hall and conference center, opened last year in Saratoga Springs. The facility, which can handle up to 250 banquet style, has a certified wedding and event planner on site and can be used in combination with the adjacent Courtyard by Marriot for larger meetings and conferences.

The new 48-suite Pavilion Grand Hotel, an elegant boutique hotel in the heart of Saratoga Springs, embraces Saratoga’s elegant past by reviving the name of one of the city’s elegant Grand Dame hotels. The hotel, which opened in May 2014, features a restaurant with Korean Fusion/American comfort food restaurant, spa and fitness center and roof-top garden. Its spacious accommodations include loft suites with roof top gardens, terraces and balconies.

A new Renaissance by Marriott is slated to open in 2015 across from the New York State Capitol in Albany. The luxurious 204-room hotel will connect via a walkway to the Albany Capital Center convention center.

Finger Lakes

The Rowland House, the newest of the Inns of Aurora, opened in May after an extensive renovation. Located along Cayuga Lake, Rowland House has twin parlors, a library and private dining room, all with working fireplaces and period details. The ten guestroom property, decorated with MacKenzie-Childs’ furnishings, also has an executive boardroom and a small outdoor Grecian temple that can be used for weddings.

Hudson Valley

A new 81-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites Montgomery, slated to open August 8, provides a pool, fitness center, hot express breakfast and a meeting room for up 30 attendees. The property offers easy access to the shops and restaurants of the historic Village of Montgomery and is well situated to host guests exploring the Hudson Valley and attending events at Winding Hills Golf Club.

New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York’s attractions feature landmarks such as Niagara Falls, the largest park in the continental U.S. in the Adirondacks and treasures such as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and the Corning Museum of Glass. New York State offers diverse activities for all: outdoor fun – fishing, hiking and boating, year-round festivals and exploring the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies. Visitors also enjoy the fine cuisine, beverage trails and farm-to-table fresh foods.

For more information, visit www.iloveny.com.

See also:

Journey by boat and bike along the Erie Canal: Macedon-Fairport-Pittsford and slideshow

Erie Canal journey by boat, bike: Exploring canaltowns from Pittsford to Albion and slideshow

Erie Canal journey: Albion-Medina bikeride is most scenic, illuminating and slideshow

Erie Canal journey by boat and bike: Palmyra, ‘Queen of Canal Towns’ and slideshow

A gal getaway hiking New York’s Hudson River School Art Trail and slideshow

Getaway on the Hudson River School Art Trail: Thomas Cole National Historic Site and slideshow

Getaway on The Hudson River School Art Trail: Frederick Edwin Church’s Olana and slideshow

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Consumer Reviews Reveal 20 Most Popular “WOW” Cruise Ships for Families

Enjoying the Flowrider on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, voted one of the 20 most popular ships for families © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas and Celebrity Eclipse top the list of the 20 most popular cruise ships for families.

The list is based on reviews from thousands of cruise travelers gathered between January and June 2014 by CruiseCompete, an aggregator of cruise bookings. (Read the actual ship reviews on CruiseCompete.)

  1. Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas
  2. Celebrity Eclipse
  3. Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas
  4. Holland America Eurodam
  5. Princess Cruises Island Princess
  6. Celebrity Solstice
  7. Holland America Ryndam
  8. Norwegian Epic
  9. Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas
  10. Princess Cruises Ruby Princess
  11. Holland America Rotterdam
  12. Disney Fantasy
  13. Princess Cruises Crown Princess
  14. Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas
  15. Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
  16. Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
  17. Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas
  18. Princess Cruises Caribbean Princess
  19. Celebrity Summit
  20. Carnival Conquest

For more information on cruise vacations, contact a cruise expert at www.CruiseCompete.com.

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Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Malaysia Eco-Experience Explores Southeast Asia’s First UNESCO Geopark

One of the creatures that might be encountered on the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia’s new family-friendly Mangroves & Eagles Safari through the dramatic Kilim Karst, Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Geopark.

The Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia now offers a family-friendly Mangroves & Eagles Safari through the dramatic Kilim Karst, Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Geopark.

Guest take a private boat from the Resort’s Serai beach and in just a few minutes are sailing past a maze of 550-million-year-old limestone cliffs, craggy rock formations and tangled mangroves.

The eco-adventure is led by one of the resort’s three resident naturalists through one of the world’s most accessible mangrove forests. The trip affords up-close encounters with majestic eagles and kites, mischievous macaques, fish that walk (mudskippers), colorful tree-climbing crabs, shy otters, elegant monitor lizards, coiled snakes and hundreds of sleeping bats. With the entire experience conducted from the comfort and safety of the Resort’s boat, this family-friendly safari offers an experience only pure nature can offer complete with Four Seasons-style commentary and refreshments.

With little intrepid solo explorers in mind, an hour-long kids-only Mangroves & Monkeys Safari has also been designed. Aboard a floating classroom, adventurers aged 4 – 12 (young-at-heart parents welcome too!) join the resort naturalists for an educational eco-experience to discover the magical mangrove world and watch the antics of hundreds of mischievous macaque monkeys.

The Resort also offers a Rainforest Immersion, a three-hour excursion to the uninhabited islet of Pulau Langgun, where the pristine rainforest encircles a karst lake. Here guests can ascend on foot through the vibrant rainforest, enveloped by thousands of plants and animals, before trekking downhill to the hidden sanctuary of Tasik Langgun – a freshwater lake in the middle of the jungle. To end this extraordinary experience, the return cruise takes in the intriguing Gua Cerita (Cave of Legends) – mythical home of a giant phoenix, a captive princess and a deadly giantess.

Back at the resort, the newly launched Geopark Discovery Centre serves as an educational tool for guests and the local community to learn about the Geopark’s key attributes, from the most complete Paleozoic sedimentary sequence in Malaysia to labyrinthine mangroves, lush rainforests and unique animal and bird residents. Through a series of exhibition boards, interactive presentations and display cases, the resort’s  naturalists guide guests through Langkawi’s natural environment. The Centre also inspires deeper exploration of local wonders, from the resort’s impressive rock-climbing outcrop to the animal-filled mangroves of the Kilim Karst Geoforest, as well as towering sea stacks and ancient salt-water lakes, linked to the sea by cave tunnels.

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi is a luxury Malaysian retreat in the Langkawi UNESCO Geopark, offering 90 pavilions and villas in tropical beachfront gardens, a family pool with private coves, plus a 55-m adult quiet pool, an expansive range of natural and outdoor pursuits and an immersive Geo Spa that draws on Langkawi’s natural healing energies. Dining options include three waterfront restaurants and the atmospheric Rhu Bar.

For reservations,  contact Four Seasons Resort Langkawi at tel: (60) 4 950 8888 or email: reservations.lan@fourseasons.com or visit www.fourseasons.com/langkawi.

 

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USTiA Quiz Tests Your Knowledge of Travel Safety & Health

Climbing Mt. Liamuiga in St. Kitts. USTiA’s TRIP site offers helpful hints on traveling safely outdoors and in national parks, in the US and abroad © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What services do US embassies provide abroad?

How can you recover from jet lag?

How do you ensure your safety in a new destination?

Where should you sit in a plane to avoid motion sickness?

These are among the questions in a “TRIP” travel quiz from the US Travel Insurance Association.  Based on information from TRIP, www.trip.ustia.org, — a consumer web site devoted to educating the public on “Traveling Responsibly, Informed, and Protected” — the TRIP savvy quiz helps travelers gauge their knowledge on practical matters  ranging from travel security to health.  Each question links to an article answering the question, and a key at the bottom of the quiz provides correct answers at a glance.

The quiz can be found on the TRIP website where readers can also access more than 100 travel articles and tips such as:

Difference between a Travel Warning and Travel Alert

Travel Safety in the Outdoors and National Parks

Which Items to Pack in Your Carry-On

How to Replace Your Passport if it is Lost Abroad

How to Minimize the Risk of Losing Your Checked Luggage

Five Simple Steps to Minimize Jet Lag

Tips to Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise Ship

An initiative of the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA), TRIP was created to empower people to travel safely.  An insider’s guide to travel health, safety and security, TRIP is a one-stop compendium containing helpful links to travel resources, reader polls, and a content library searchable by keyword.

The site was launched in response to a survey conducted for UStiA, where 60% of Americans said that safety and security concerns would influence their choice of an international travel destination. The same survey revealed that 46% of Americans rank health concerns as a factor when choosing a destination.

Being armed with the latest information provides a level of security and confidence for travelers, as does having travel insurance, advises the UStiA. Travel insurance can help protect your vacation investment in case you have to cancel or interrupt a trip for reasons such as illness or natural disaster.  In addition to covering situations such as illness and injury when on vacation, or delayed or lost baggage, comprehensive travel insurance also provides a wide range of assistance services. These can include evacuating travelers in cases of emergency, and help with obtaining replacement passports in case of loss or theft while traveling abroad.

To learn more about travel health, safety, and security and more information on travel insurance and a listing of UStiA members, visit www.ustia.org. Videos explaining travel insurance and medical evacuation are available by visiting the UStiA YouTube channel or by keying in ustravelinsurance on YouTube.

 

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Villas of Distinction Highlights Advantages of Villa Vacation Rental through Experts

A la Mer,on Great Cruz Bay, St. John, has 9 bedrooms, sleeps 22 and has 9 1/2 bathrooms, one of thousands of privately-owned villas in more than 50 luxurious destinations that can be booked through Villas of Distinction.

The travel planning experts at Villas of Distinction®, one of the world’s premier villa rental companies, share five travel advantages of booking a villa vacation through a travel expert:

  1. Don’t waste time endlessly searching. Many people just don’t have time these days to muddle through thousands of web pages searching for a vacation that fits one’s vacation desires. Villa Specialists are trained vacation experts that can match a client’s vacation requirements to the perfect destination and accommodations. Villa Specialists at Villas of Distinction have an average of 14 years’ of knowledge and experience, and work closely with Concierges who can take care of every detail of a villa rental from a client’s front door to the destination and back.
  2. Don’t wait in long lines at the airport and car rental counter. Another perk of having a Concierge team readily available during the planning process is that in select locations, the Concierge can arrange for a rental car to be delivered to the villa. Take the pre-arranged airport transfer and find a rental car in the driveway ready to explore the destination. Or take advantage of airport fast track (where available), which enables vacationers to depart the plane and meet a greeter who takes them to a special line in customs, makes sure the customs card is properly completed, sit in a well-appointed lounge with snacks and Internet access, and wait for their driver in the lounge.
  3. Don’t waste time trying to find things to do on vacation. Talk about adding value to the vacation planning process … a Villas of Distinction Concierge can plan a vacation from start to finish before the vacation even starts. From home to airport transfers; pre-stocked groceries; and villa yoga and massages to booking tours and excursions; golf tee times; chef services and restaurant reservations, customers won’t need to lift a finger or waste precious time planning the vacation.
  4. Don’t deal with crowds. How many times have family and friends complained about not being able to find a lounge chair at the pool or about the drunken neighbors fighting in the room next door? A vacation rental takes the stress of crowds and unruly company away from what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation. Villas not only provide the privacy of accommodations, but also the privacy of a pool and sometimes even a beach.
  5. Don’t miss out on quality time with family and friends. Sometimes people forget that a vacation is not only about getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but forming a deeper connection with family and friends through quality time. The layouts of vacation rentals allow space and privacy, but everyone is together in one location. It is especially convenient for large groups such as reunions or multigenerational travel, a popular growing trend. Imagine preparing a meal together and sharing it at one table overlooking a breathtaking view of the ocean or mountains. Or, watching a sunset together on the terrace.

The villa experts at Villas of Distinction wish everyone a mistake-free vacation this summer. For more information or to book a luxurious villa rental, call a Villa Specialist at 1-800-289-0900 or visit VillasofDistinction.com.

Villas of Distinction®, as part of World Travel Holdings, is a premier luxury villa provider with an extensive portfolio of thousands of privately-owned villas in more than 50 luxurious destinations including the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Thailand, Croatia, the Continental United States and many private Islands. For nearly 25 years, Villas of Distinction and its team of expert concierges have been helping travelers find their perfect vacation home without a membership fee. The company offers customized vacations to meet every imaginable need, with most villas featuring private pools, butlers, maids and chefs. www.VillasofDistinction.com.

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Cosmonaut training in Russia? Cruise Lines Offer New Surprises for Adventure Seekers

Crystal Cruises is featuring a Baltic cruise which includes a visit to Star City, Russia’s NASA and the opportunity to experience an actual Russian Cosmonaut Training course on advanced space equipment: the centrifuge, zero-gravity flight, or hydro-space program.

The trend toward offering travelers more intensive, authentic experiences that engage and enrich is moving through the entire industry.

Cruisegoers, for example, are increasingly opting for active, engaging experiences when they hit the seas or the rivers of the world.

In response, cruise lines are offering more ports of call in exotic locations, ships that feature an extraordinary range of action activities, and shore excursions that are original, exclusive and often impossible to organize on one’s own.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, offers a sampling of unconventional experiences that can be found on a cruise:

Alaskan Wilderness Family Expedition: An extreme 5-7 mile glacier hike may not be for every family, but adventure seekers who want an up-close view of Alaska’s wilderness, waterfalls and wildlife can take an extreme 5-7 mile glacier hike, Carnival Cruise Lines’ Laughton Glacier Hike does just that. Adults and children (ages 9 and up) are led by an expert guide on an Alaskan wilderness trek, complete with a scenic train ride and a traditional Alaskan meal.

Exploring One of the World’s Most Remote and Coldest Islands in the World: Hurtigruten, specialists in Arctic and Antarctic cruises, is the only cruise line that visits Jan Mayen, one of the most isolated islands in the world and home to a large population of polar bears. Excursion activities include learning Arctic winter survival skills or bush craft, including how to make a fire, fish, and throw a lasso in the harsh climate.

Traditional Junk Overnight in Vietnam: AmaWaterways’ cruise-and-land guests on the “Vietnam, Cambodia & the Riches of the Mekong” itinerary spend the night aboard a contemporary junk sailing UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. The most distinctive feature of junks, which were developed during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) and used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages, is their broad, fully battened sails. Guests enjoy dinner and breakfast onboard taking in the bay’s scenery including dramatic limestone cliffs and rock formations during this exclusive offering.

SCUBA Training and Certification in French Polynesia: For treasures underneath the sea, Paul Gauguin Cruisesm/s Paul Gauguin is the only luxury ship in the French Polynesian islands offering PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification onboard. Programs that are offered include the Discover SCUBA Diving class, or resort certification, and PADI Open-Water Diver certification. Children 10 years and older can apply for Junior Open-Water Diver Certification.

Saving the Coral Reefs of Bonaire: To help save and protect precious coral reefs that delight divers and snorkelers, Cunard has a new volunteer-excursion for 2014-2015 the Coral Restoration Dive Experience. The program (only for PADI certified divers) connects passengers with the Coral Restoration Foundation in Bonaire where they receive hands-on instruction on basic coral reef preservation.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Dracula: Oceania Cruises’ itinerary in the Greek Islands and Eastern Mediterranean includes a stop in Constanta, Romania, featuring a day trip to “Dracula’s Haunts and Best of Bucharest” in Transylvania, with a drive through the bucolic Prahova Valley and then on to Bran Castle, where the legend of Dracula was born.

Russian Cosmonaut Training: Guests looking to set their sights on space can do so sailing on a Crystal Cruises Baltic cruise to St. Petersburg, with a flight to Moscow and an overnight in Star City, the Russian equivalent of NASA headquarters during the 20th century “Space Race” – home to the largest centrifuge in the world. The excursion includes experiencing one of three actual Russian Cosmonaut Training courses on advanced space equipment: the centrifuge, zero-gravity flight, or hydro-space program.

For more on information on cruise vacations and to find a CLIA cruise counselor to plan a cruise vacation of a lifetime, visit www.cruising.org.

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