Archive for November, 2010

Riviera Maya Resort Launches Black Friday Travel Deal for 2011 Vacations

November 26, 2010


Xcaret, Riviera Maya

Fantastic cultural programs, such as at Xcaret, an eco-tourism park, await in Mexico's Riviera Maya

Black Friday deals are not just for retail shops anymore and the travel industry has jumped on board to offer travelers exceptional deals the day after Thanksgiving.

Hacienda Tres Rios Resort has recently reveled a Black Friday Special Offer for travelers planning their 2011 vacation.

The Black Friday Special Offer includes a 50% off the resort’s best available rate under the Endless Luxury, all-inclusive plan.

The one-of-a-kind, Endless Luxury, all-inclusive package includes unlimited food and drinks (including alcohol), taxes and tips, various recreational activities, free in-room Internet access, and luxurious accommodations for as low as $133 USD per person, per night.*

The vacation special also includes a complimentary 30-minute massage per adult and a one day’s car rental when booking 4 or more nights.

The vacation package applies when calling 800-494-9173 and mentioning the promotional code BLACK011.

The promotion also applies when reserving online at the Hacienda Tres Rios Specials and Packages page and clicking on the Black Friday Special Offer link. The vacation offer cannot be combined with other promotions.

Guests also have exclusive access to unlimited tours and visits at Tres Rios Nature Park, including the SenseAdventure tour. The park offers unique opportunities for guests to explore unspoiled nature and discover the region’s fascinating mangroves, sand dunes, and tropical jungles all on the resort grounds.

What distinguishes Hacienda Tres Rios from other resorts is its successful combination of strict sustainable tourism practices and quality services that exceed guests’ expectations of a Riviera Maya luxury resort and spa.

Hacienda Tres Rios Resort, Spa & Nature Park is located 45 minutes from Cancun International Airport and 15 minutes from Playa del Carmen. This Riviera Maya all-inclusive resort features a diverse range of world-class cuisine in all nine restaurants and bars on the property.

Offer applies to travel from January 1st to April 30th, 2011. The special offer is only available from November 24th to November 28th, 2010. To make your reservation, call 1.800.494.9173
Nestled in a 326-acre pristine nature park in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Hacienda Tres Rios is an endless luxury, all-inclusive resort in the Mexican Caribbean only 45 minutes south of Cancun International Airport. Opened in November 2008, Hacienda Tres Rios is the first of five resorts at Tres Rios Nature Park. The resort boasts 273 suites constructed using natural materials. At the forefront of sustainable tourism development, Hacienda Tres Rios creates amazing guest experiences while continuing to protect the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. The Tres Rios Nature Park is open exclusively to resort guests, and offers guided nature tours through mangrove forests, snorkeling in cenotes and rivers, and daily activities for children. For more information, visit the Hacienda Tres Rios Website .

For more about the Riviera Maya, see



Adventure Travel Company Mounts Adventure Tuesday as Vehicle for Holiday Sales

November 23, 2010

Here’s an interesting twist on the Black Friday/Cyber Monday retail bonanzas:

Adventure travel company ROW Adventures is mounting Adventure Tuesday™ beginning at 9 am Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday, Nov. 30.

ROW Adventures started the Adventure Tuesday™ idea in 2009 with exclusive adventure travel deals on a whitewater rafting trip to the Lochsa River, a family multi-day rafting adventure on the Salmon River and a land-based tour of the Galapagos Islands.

“After the 2009 economic downturn many adventure travel companies didn’t know what to expect going into the 2010 season,” explains ROW Adventures owner Peter Grubb. “We created Adventure Tuesday™ simply as a fun idea and unique way to hopefully spark some interest in bookings for the following year. We didn’t know what to expect, sent a out an e-newsletter on Monday night and within an hour on Tuesday morning we were literally overwhelmed with callers.”

This year Adventure Tuesday™ will be full of some of the same deals offered previously and some new ones but they are keeping the exact details secret. ROW Adventures, a company who started as a whitewater rafting company in Idaho, now operates adventures throughout the world in 17 different countries emphasizing water adventures. This means successful callers on this year’s Adventure Tuesday™ could get deals on yachting in Croatia, sea kayaking in the Galapagos or whitewater rafting in Idaho.

An e-newsletter will be sent out to all of those who are signed up to receive the ROW Adventures’ newsletter on Monday, November 29th, 2010 which will disclose the once-in-a-lifetime deals.  Sneak-peeks will be sent out to their Facebook fans leading up to Adventure Tuesday™.  Spaces are limited and ROW Adventures only asks that you keep calling until you get through.  First come, first serve and no messages will be considered as place in line.

To learn more about ROW Adventures, visit:; call 800-451-6034; or e-mail

To learn more about adventure travel and family adventures:

Sustainable Travel: Reconnect with your inner Mother Nature while giving back to Planet Earth

MSC Celebrates Holidays with Buy One, Get One Offers

November 23, 2010

MSC is celebrating this season with savings as guests can ring in the holidays on buy one, get one offers on 7-night Caribbean cruises during Thanksgiving and Christmas starting at $529 per person plus government fees and taxes (GFTs).

Get the second week free with the purchase of a 7-night Caribbean cruise for a 14-night, back-to-back, Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean cruise experience on bookings made by Nov. 30, which includes the Thanksgiving cruise on Nov. 21.

During this buy one, get one free offer, rates are as low as $40 per day on select 14-night, back-to-back Eastern Caribbean cruises and Western Caribbean cruises onboard MSC Poesia and departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Cruise itineraries include:


Philipsburg, St. Maarten; and Nassau Bahamas; Key West, Florida; Ocho Rios, Jamaica;

Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico departs Nov. 14, 28, and Dec. 12,   2010; rates from $529 (originally started from $1,058) for a $529 savings or more than 50 percent plus government fees and taxes (GFTs) of $117.07;


Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Nassau Bahamas; Key West, Florida; Ocho Rios, Jamaica;

Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico; departs Nov. 12 and Dec. 5, 2010;  rates from $529 (originally started from $1,058) for a $529 savings or more than 50 percent plus GFTs of $117.07.

A Christmas cruise is another holiday sailing option with “The More the Merrier” offer where guests obtain a second stateroom at 50 percent off when they purchase one at the regular price. Rates for the Dec. 19 cruise begin at $649 per person for the first stateroom and $324.50 per person for the second stateroom plus GFTs. Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West, Florida; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico. Offer expires Dec. 15.

Cruise-only rates are per person  based on double occupancy for U.S. and Canadian residents.

All cruises offer just a $100 deposit, and kids 17 and younger sail for just $99 as the third/fourth guest in a stateroom.

For more information about MSC Cruises, visit, call 877-665-4655, or contact a local travel professional.


November 4, 2010

From downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter to the beaches of La Jolla, Coronado and beyond, visitors to San Diego can find money-saving deals at top hotels during the 2nd Annual San Diego Hotel Week, occurring November 15 – December 15, 2010.

Approximately 80 area hotels are participating in this year’s promotion, which due to its popularity in 2009 has expanded into a month-long event.  Now visitors have more time to enjoy San Diego and its many seasonal offerings for a fraction of the normal cost.

A sampling of some of the special hotel offers are:

  • Buy two nights and stay the third night free at the luxurious Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego along San Diego Bay, adjacent to the popular Seaport Village shopping district.
  • Stay two nights and receive a 20% discount on room rates at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, nestled on a 15-acre peninsula in Coronado and featuring an award-winning restaurant, spa and marina.
  • Enjoy a 30% discount off room rates for non-refundable, advance purchase bookings at the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, located in downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, home to more than 140 restaurants and bars and 100 retail shops.
  • Book one room and receive a 50% discount at check-in on a second room at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, located next to the famed Torrey Pines golf course, home of the 2008 U.S. Open.

Additional deals can be found at a wide variety of San Diego accommodation properties including the Best Western Yacht Harbor Hotel, Capri by the Sea, Four Points by Sheraton San Diego, Handlery Hotel & Resort, THE US GRANT – A Luxury Collection Hotel, W San Diego and Welk Resorts San Diego.  Visitors can review all the promotional rates and packages and book rooms online at

During November 15 and December 15, 2010, guests to San Diego can enjoy a variety of special events and activities in addition to spectacular Thanksgiving feasts and shopping for the holiday season.  Notable events during these dates are:

  • The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, the region’s largest wine and culinary event, takes place November 17 – 21 and features an exciting roster of culinary activities held at venues throughout downtown San Diego.
  • Showcasing over 25 bands from throughout the United States and Canada, the 31st Annual San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival is held November 24 – 28 at the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley.
  • Cultural delights abound during the annual Balboa Park December Nights, occurring December 3 – 4 and featuring live entertainment, dance performances, children’s rides, free admission to Balboa Park’s museums, delicious foods from around the world and more.
  • The classic Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is performed live on stage at the Tony Award®-winning Old Globe theatre in Balboa Park during November 20 – December 26.

For a complete list of San Diego fall and winter events, visit

For more information on San Diego offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Web site,, or call (619) 236-1212  In San Diego, visit the International Visitor Information Center, located along the Embarcadero at the corner of West Broadway and Harbor Drive in downtown; the La Jolla Visitor Center, located at the corner of Herschel Avenue and Prospect Street in La Jolla; or the California Welcome Center, located at the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine.

More travel features at and

AT THE BOOTH App Brings Theater Ticket Discounts to Your Phone

November 4, 2010

Tony-Nominated® Producer and author of the popular blog,, Ken Davenport makes sure that Broadway buffs, musical mavens and gadget geeks have insider access to information on all the best shows with his AT THE BOOTH App, now available on Android in addition to an updated version now available on for iPhone users.

As featured in Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List,” AT THE BOOTH™ lists all the Broadway and Off-Broadway shows available at the TKTS® booth every day and at what price (50%, 40%, etc.). For 99 cents, AT THE BOOTH™ saves theatergoers time, money and frustration that are usually associated with waiting in those long ticket lines.

In addition to keeping theater-goers savvy with ticket-buying tips, AT THE BOOTH™ is also a complete Broadway and Off-Broadway directory. With info on EVERY Broadway and Off-Broadway show, along with reviews, cast photos, videos, synopses, performance schedules, running times, cast lists, recent headlines, opening and closing dates, full and group-price ticket information, and a full directory of Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters – including maps to help you get there – AT THE BOOTH™ even tells you how long the lines are!

The updated version of the AT THE BOOTH™ iPhone App, which will be the same version debuting on the Android Market, will feature the following additions:

  • Lottery/Rush info for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows
  • Info on nearby restaurants
  • Portrait/landscape viewing
  • Facebook or Tweet about the show you’re seeing directly from the show page

In addition to the latest updates from the TKTS® discount booth in Times Square, AT THE BOOTH™ provides the information to help you decide which show to see and how to save the most money on your ticket.


November 4, 2010

The Berkshires: Norman Rockwell's studio in Stockbridge, in the Berkshires, one of the attractions that can be visited during a stay at historic Rock Hall © 2010 Karen Rubin/

The weeks leading up to Christmas can be stressful, so Rock Hall Luxe Lodging, an historic luxury property located in the bucolic Litchfield Hills/Southern Berkshires, has created a pre-Christmas package, valid through December 23rd, that enables guests to prepare for the holiday season while also enjoying some rest and relaxation.

The pre-holiday package includes a VIP Coupon Book for the Lee Premium Outlets in Lee, MA (located 25 miles away) where guests can find a wide array of gifts for friends and family, as well as treats for themselves.  Guests also receive a certificate for a complimentary cut-your-own Christmas Tree at nearby Up Country Farms, which offers a selection of Blue Spruce, Balsam and Frazier Firs ranging from four to 12 feet.  In addition, guests can enjoy a Rock Hall Signature Massage (one per guest).  Those participating in the package will also enjoy a 10 percent discount on items in the Rock Hall boutique, which features unique gift items from across the globe.

Guests staying at Rock Hall over the eight nights of Hanukah (December 1 – 8) will enjoy complimentary homemade latkes (potato pancakes) each evening along with a traditional candle lighting and a gift bag filled with chocolate coins.

Rock Hall, which is listed in the the National Register of Historic Places, offers five luxurious guests suites featuring fireplaces, Wi-Fi, imported linens, down bedding, and flat screen TVs. The property also features screening, fitness billiard and game rooms, as well as marked hiking trails.  Local activities include alpine and cross-country skiing, antiquing, music, theatre, dance, film, outlet shopping and more.  On-site massage and private yoga, training and Pilates classes can be arranged with advance notice, as well as a horse-drawn antique carriage or sleigh-ride with door-to-door pick-up and drop-off.

Addison Mizner built Rock Hall, a 10,000 square foot manor house, in 1912 for Jerome Alexandre, of the Alexandre Steam Ship Lines fortune. The property’s grounds are attributed to a collaboration between the firm of Olmsted and Olmsted and Mizner with an impressive variety of specimen trees, perennial gardens and a wildflower meadow. This historic gem has been meticulously restored and is now one of the areas most luxurious and romantic lodging options, featuring in-season use of a 75’ heated outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, and a synthetic grass tennis court with ball machine.

The Pre-Holiday package starts at $550 per room per night midweek (for two guests) and includes the coupon book, tree and massage for each guest.  Cost for the Mizner Suite and Penthouse Suite is $625 per room per night.  Each weekend night cost is an additional $25 per room per night.  Additional guests may stay in the room (without complimentary massage or soak) for $75 per person.  All guests must be over age 12.

Rock Hall is located two hours north of Manhattan in the northwest corner of Litchfield County, Connecticut in the Litchfield Hills and Southern Berkshires.  It is 30 miles west of Hartford (location of the Mark Twain House, Wadsworth Atheneum and The Bushnell), 30 miles from Lenox, Massachusetts (location of the Tanglewood Music Festival), 35 miles from Becket, Massachusetts (location of the Jacob’s Pillow Festival) 14 miles from Torrington, Connecticut (location of The Warner Theater), 19 miles from Lakeville, Connecticut (location of Lime Rock Park and the Skip Barber Racing School), 3.5 miles from Norfolk, Connecticut (location of  the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Infinity Hall) and 25 miles from the Lee, MA Premium Outlets.

For more information and reservations, go to:, or email:

For more travel features, go to and


Ice Carvers from China Create Gaylord National’s ICE! featuring How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

November 3, 2010

ICE! at Gaylord National Resort

The welcoming portal to ICE! How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Gaylord National Resort in Washington DC © 2010 Karen Rubin/

You can easily imagine what it’s like for the elves at the North Pole when you peak inside the massive tents where 40 artisans from Harbin, China are at work in a 9-degree environment, creating all-new interactive ice sculpture world, “ICE! featuring How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” on view at Gaylord National Resort just outside Washington D.C. from Nov. 18, 2010 through Jan.  9, 2011.

Working with 5,000, 400-pound blocks of colored ice, custom manufactured at an Ohio plant and shipped to the 15,000-square foot structure, over a six-week period the artisans create 10 life-sized scenes straight out of the pages of the original storybook, all sculpted into full-color, with amazing detail that bring the Grinch story about how he learns the true meaning of Christmas into three-dimensions.

Chinese ice carvers work to create ICE! How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Gaylord National Resort in Washington DC © 2010 Karen Rubin/

The climax is a room with four two-story slides, entirely created of ice, which adults and children alike will delight in sliding down.

I watched as they worked – some with chain saws, some with chisels, and some with fine tools – the designs laid out in a 250-page book. When they are done, they will have craeted these famous scenes: The Grich’s frozen lair Christmas Eve in Who-ville; The Grinch creating his “ramshackle” sleigh, complete with “reindeer” Max; Mount Crumpit – where visitors can climb to the mountaintop and zip down ice slides to Who-ville; The Grinch stealing Christmas from the Who houses; and Christmas morning in Who-ville and the famous Roast-Beast Feast!

A work in progress: Chinese ice carvers work to create 10 life-sized scenes from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, this year's ICE! event at the Gaylord National Resort © 2010 Karen Rubin/

Some of the sculptures are illuminated internally by some of the exhibit’s specially designed LED tube lights, evoking the ice lanters of old Others are engineered to support thousands of visitors over the exhibit’s 50-day lifespan, such as the ice bridge in the snow forest, the towering Christmas Castle ice slides and the full-sized ice horse and sleigh.

A sneak peak at ICE! How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which will be on view at the Gaylord National Resort during its "Christmas on the Potomac" festival © 2010 Karen Rubin/

A few of the artisans remain behind in order to touch up their sculptures nightly – a spritz of water here, and chisel there.

A master ice carver from Harbin, China, works on the Nativity scene in crystal clear ice that concludes ICE! at the Gaylord National Resort © 2010 Karen Rubin/

ICE! visitors will also enjoy:

  • “The Art of Seuss” Exhibit – a renowned, museum-quality exhibit that features artifacts and memorabilia celebrating the art of Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel.  Highlights include lithographs, serigraphs and sculptures reproduced from Geisel’s original drawings and paintings. (Included with ICE! admission)
  • “From Harbin to WHO-ville” Display – learn about the making of ICE! and the artists who traveled halfway around the world – from Harbin, China – to create our amazing ICE! attraction. (Included with ICE! admission)
  • Meet the Grinch – in this special experience, visitors can meet the hairy, green guy himself and even pose for a photo with him! (Additional purchase required)

Some 185,000 people visited ICE! last year – 8,000 people a day – and more are expected this year.

All four of the Gaylord Resorts have ICE! but they all have different shows – in Nashville, Gaylord Opryland’s ICE! event is themed Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town®; the theme for the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando ICE! event is Twas the Night Before Christmas,and the Gaylord Texas Resort, in Dallas, has A Charlie Brown Christmas. And while there are other ICE! events in the world, these are the only ones in North America.

ICE! is open daily (hours vary), and is priced at $24-29/Adults, $13-18 for Children 4m $18-23 for Seniors (ages 62+), $21/Military Adults  and $13/Military Children. Tickets should be purchased in advance (since many popular days sell out) and can be purchased  online at; via phone at 301-965-4000; at the Gaylord Concierge Desk (Hotel Lobby) or ICE! Box Office (inside attraction).

But why not make it a real holiday, and stay over?

The Gaylord National is offering value packages for the Christmas Holidays which incorporate a visit to ICE!

The “Christmas Memories” Package provides for one night deluxe room accommodations, one ticket to ICE! and a Souvenir ICE! photo (one per room), daily self-parking and resort fee (a $40 value), for $99 per person, double occupancy (extra adult and child rates are available) The package is available for select dates between November 2010 through January 2011.

The “Grandparent Getaway” Package (because there is no better time than the holidays for grandparents to create lasting memories with their grandchildren),  provides two nights deluxe room accommodations at Gaylord National Resort, one ticket to ICE! and a Souvenir ICE! photo (one photo per room), one ticket to Breakfast with The Grinch, daily self-parking and resort fee for $203 per person, double (with extra adult and child rates available).

There are loads of other activities and entertainment that are all part of the Christmas On the Potomac festivities, and most are open to both resort guests and day visitors.

For more information, to purchase tickets, or make dining reservations, visit; call 301-965-4000 or 866-9-GRINCH (866-947-4624).

See more about Gaylord National’s “Christmas On the Potomac” at

–Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate