Archive for December, 2010

Rosen Plaza Orlando offers group rates for East-West Shrine Game

December 20, 2010
Rosen Plaza Orlando

Rosen Plaza Orlando, business/convention hotel with family-friendly amenities, is welcoming Shriners for the East-West Shrine Game with group rates and other services © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Rosen Plaza in Orlando will serve as the headquarters hotel for the prestigious East-West Shrine Game from January 16-22, 2011, and is offering up special group rate for Shriners and fans of the East-West Shrine Game.

The hotel will also be the location for the annual Players Award Banquet on Friday, January 21, 2011.  The banquet includes the induction of some of the best NFL players in history into the East-West Shrine Game Hall of Fame.

As college football’s premier all-star game, the East-West Shrine Game brings together North America’s top players in a friendly East-meets-West battle to benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children, an international pediatric specialty health care system.

The Jan. 22, 2011 game marks the 86th anniversary of the legendary all-star college football matchup, which was established in the San Francisco Bay area in 1925 and is coming to Orlando for the first time ever.  Having hosted some of the country’s most prestigious football games – the annual Capital One Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl and Florida Classic, the nation’s premier HBCU event – Orlando was a natural choice for the East-West Shrine Game.

While the game will be held in downtown Orlando at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, the award-winning Rosen Plaza, located on International Drive, was chosen to host East-West Shrine Game executives and personnel, football players and their families, sponsors and fans.  Organizers of the game selected Rosen Plaza as the headquarters hotel from among many other Orlando hotels based on its luxurious accommodations and meeting facilities, its tropical resort setting, its reputation for outstanding guest service and its superior catering and dining options.  Rosen Hotels & Resorts and the Harris Rosen Foundation are also well-known for their multi-million dollar charitable donations and corporate social responsibility programs, facts that were not lost on the Shriners organization.

“We are very excited to engage in this partnership with Rosen Hotels & Resorts, as well as the city of Orlando,” said Ralph Semb, president and CEO of Shriners Hospitals for Children.  “We encourage our supporters all over the country to come out and enjoy this spectacular event. Hopefully, this will help the public have a better understanding of this great fraternity that represents the ‘world’s greatest philanthropy.'”

“We are thrilled to have been selected as the hotel of choice for the East-West Shrine Game and to have the opportunity to welcome some of the finest college athletes in the U.S. and Canada, their families, friends and fans, and of course, the Shriners organization,” said Victoria Hall, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Rosen Plaza.  “Being a very philanthropy-minded organization, all of us at Rosen Hotels & Resorts respect and admire the Shriners’ tireless efforts in children’s healthcare and we are proud to be a part of such a time-honored and beneficial event.”

Rosen Plaza is extending a special group rate for Shriners and fans of the East-West Shrine Game.  The Shriners organization also will offer complimentary shuttle service to and from the game on Jan. 22, 2011.  For reservations and information, visit www.rosenplaza.com or call 1-800-627-8258 and ask for the Shriners rate for the East-West Shrine Game.  Additional room nights are available upon request.  The rate is based on double occupancy, subject to hotel availability; tax and gratuity are extra.  These offers cannot be combined with other promotions or offers.

The 800-room Rosen Plaza provides its guests with resort-style luxury in a world-class vacation destination.  Guests at Rosen Plaza will enjoy accommodations in a deluxe room and a variety of amenities such as the outdoor heated pool and whirlpool and the Fitness center with “Life Fitness” cardiovascular and exercise machines and a full-range of free weights.  Four on-site restaurants include Jack’s Place, voted the number one restaurant on International Drive by Orlando Magazine, with casual fine dining. Café Matisse offers buffets as well as full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Rossini’s Pizza serves fresh pizza and Italian specialties to go. The Lite Bite is open 24 hours a day and serves deli sandwiches and snacks.

For entertainment, live music is featured on Friday and Saturday nights in Backstage Nightclub & Sports Bar, International Drive’s original nightclub.  The nightclub also features a live deejay on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, large dance floor, pool tables and dart boards, 50-inch LCD screen TVs throughout, free valet parking, VIP area, food menu and more.  The hotel is conveniently located on International Drive across the street from Pointe Orlando’s incredible dining and entertainment complex.  Other entertainment options include a 20-screen IMAX® stadium-seating theatre and popular retailers such as the Discovery Store, Brighton Collectibles and Artsy Abode.

For an additional charge, guests may enjoy golf or spa treatments at Rosen Plaza’s nearby sister properties, the award-winning Rosen Shingle Creek or spa at award-winning Rosen Centre. Each of the summer packages include complimentary transportation to Shingle Creek Golf Club, The Spa at Shingle Creek and Body & Sol Spa at Rosen Centre, as well as scheduled complimentary transportation to and from Universal Orlando® Resort, Sea World Orlando® and Wet ‘n Wild Orlando.

Rosen Plaza is only 15 minutes from the Orlando International Airport.  For more information, visit www.rosenplaza.com.

For more stories about Orlando attractions, see www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

JANUARY IS LEARN-TO-SKI MONTH AT NEW HAMPSHIRE SKI AREAS

December 18, 2010
Waterville Valley, NH

Waterville Valley is one of the 37 Ski New Hampshire resorts offering Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month programs in January © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

During the month of January, Ski New Hampshire and its 37 member resorts will participate in a national program to introduce guests to the sports of skiing and snowboarding.  Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month is a program taking place across the United States that features special offers making it easy and affordable for people to learn to ski, snowboard, cross country ski or snowshoe, and for current skiers & snowboarders to enhance their skills by taking lessons from professional instructors.

Among the special offers being featured in New Hampshire is Learn to Ski & Ride Free Week from January 3-9. 2011.  During this week, 14 NH ski areas will be offering a limited number of free learn to ski or snowboard packages.  These packages include a free beginner lesson, free equipment rentals, and a free beginner lift ticket or trail pass to those who register in advance.  Participants must visit http://www.SkiNH.com/JanLearnToSki to register and download a Learn to Ski or Ride Free Coupon; they then contact one of the 14 participating areas to make a reservation for a specific day that week.  Participating alpine areas include Bretton Woods, Loon Mountain, Cannon Mountain, Waterville Valley, Wildcat Mountain, Cranmore, Gunstock Mountain Resort, Pats Peak, Ragged Mountain, King Pine and Black Mountain; participating cross country areas include Great Glen Trails, Purity Spring Resort XC & Snowshoe Reserve, Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center and Sunset Hill Nordic Center.

Every day of the ski season, New Hampshire’s ski areas already offer specially-designed learn to ski and ride programs to introduce new people to the sport. In addition to these learn to ski and ride packages, there will be many other special programs offered during January that normally are not available.

Among these offerings, guests will find savings on lift tickets for those who bring a friend to try the sport, special pricing on learn to ski or ride packages, and follow-up rewards for first timers who choose to hit the slopes or trails again.  Guests can visit SkiNH.com’s January Learn to Ski page for full details & offers at SkiNH.com/JanLearnToSki.

Visitors to SkiNH.com can also enter to win a learn to ski or snowboard weekend for two.  The grand prize includes two days of beginner lessons at King Pine and two nights’ accommodations at Purity Spring Resort in East Madison.  The second place prize includes two days of beginner lessons at Gunstock Mountain Resort and one night’s accommodations. Third place prizes include learn to ski or snowboard packages from Bretton Woods, Cannon Mountain, Cranmore Mountain, Granite Gorge and Pats Peak, with other areas expected to contribute even more in the upcoming weeks.  The contest runs from January 1-31 and winners will be notified the first week of February.

Nationally the program is being promoted by Glen Plake, Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month’s official spokesperson.  Plake, with his infamous mohawk, is one of the world’s most recognized skiers and ambassadors of the sport.

“For some good, healthy exercise, skiing and snowboarding are a great incentive to get outside and enjoy winter with family and friends,” said Alice Pearce, president of Ski NH.  “As our slogan says, ‘Humans Were Never Meant to Hibernate.'”

To learn more about Ski NH’s Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month events and New Hampshire’s 37 downhill and cross country resorts, visit www.SkiNH.com.

Ski NH is the statewide association representing 37 alpine and cross country resorts and more than 200 lodging and guest service properties in New Hampshire.  For more information on ski areas, lodging packages, and updated winter events at Ski NH resorts, call Ski NH at (800) 88-SKI-NH (800-887-5464) or visit the Ski NH website at www.SkiNH.com.

For feature stories on destination ski resorts, visit www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

Fun Freebies Add Value to Colorado Ski Country Destination Resorts

December 17, 2010
Crested Butte

Families visiting Crested Butte can take advantage of the free skiing for kids six and under, free Mountain Express shuttle from Mt. Crested Butte to Crested Butte and free fourth night of lodging (photo courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort).

Skiers and riders have a lot of options to get more out of their ski season this year as Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) resorts build in value to ski vacations with an assortment of free activities. From concerts, to races, to lift tickets, savvy deal seekers will find plenty of choices for fun and enjoyment offered completely free of charge.

Here are some highlights:

Arapahoe Basin’s May Concert Series is not only free but entertaining. Free concerts will be held in the base area every Saturday in May from 1pm-4pm. Guests are invited to follow spring skiing with libations and live music.

Aspen/Snowmass plays host to a number of events throughout the season, including the X-Games, World Cup Races and concerts. All events at the four mountains are free.

Families visiting Crested Butte can take advantage of the free skiing for kids six and under, free Mountain Express shuttle from Mt. Crested Butte to Crested Butte and free fourth night of lodging.

Sitting at the edge of Grand Mesa, Powderhorn Resort provides breathtaking views of the valley. Guests can take in the scenery on a free, one-hour guided mountain tour. Tours are offered every Saturday and sign-up is located at Guest Services.

Guests at Purgatory now have the chance to experience the latest craze in winter sports—snowbiking. Purgatory Ski and Ride School offers free snowbike licensing, which guests will need to have before speeding down the slopes. Rentals are available at Purgatory Rentals.

Kids at SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch can go straight from the slopes to the sledding hill for more fun on the snow. The Sledding Area is fenced off from ski traffic and provides kids and adults alike with a perfect place to play when the lifts are closed.

For those who want to stay out of the cold, Telluride offers free gondola transportation between the resort, the Intercept Lot, and the core of the Mountain Village. The gondola runs seven days a week from 7:00am-midnight.

Wolf Creek’s “Fun Series” offers races of all kinds during the 2010-2011 season. Entry is free and open to skiers and riders of all ages and abilities. The fastest racers in each age and gender category will receive gold, silver, and bronze medals and eternal glory.

Steamboat has free skiing with Olympians Billy Kidd and Nelson Carmichael. Guests can get pointers from the best while skiing on Heavenly Daze or Nelsons’ Run. Grooming reports will let people know what days Billy is skiing at 1pm, as well as which Sundays Nelson is conducting his free clinic.

Free Skiing

Copper Mountain offers free snowcat rides to the legendary Tucker Mountain, where skiers and riders can access more than 273 acres and 1,200 vertical feet of terrain. Cats run on select days from 10:00am-1:30pm and depart from the base of the Mountain Chief Lift.

Echo Mountain wants to help parents pass on their love of skiing and riding to the next generation. Lift tickets for children age five and under are free with the purchase of an adult ticket.

Season Pass holders at Eldora can enjoy free access to the Nordic Center as well as more than 40 kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing. Just steps from the ski lift, Eldora’s Nordic trails meander through forests, snow-covered alpine meadows, and mountain peaks. The Nordic Center offers complete rental packages, lessons, and clinics.

For those who have never tried skiing or riding before, Loveland has a great deal. Guests who purchase a 3-Class Pass from Loveland Ski and Ride school will receive a free season pass to help them work on their turns all season long.

Monarch Mountain has free deals for skiers and riders of all ages. Children ages six and under, as well as seniors ages 69 and over, can ski for free all season long.

Guests at Silverton Mountain can earn free unguided ski days by volunteering for Boot-Packing Days. Those who want to participate should show up—with pants duct-taped to boots—at the base area at 8:45am on any of the scheduled boot-packing days and be ready to pack down snow with their boots. No experience is required but participants must have a beacon and probe. Each day of boot-packing earns a free day of unguided skiing.

One of Colorado Ski Country’s Gems Resorts, Ski Cooper offers Gems Cardholders one free season pass after completion of three lessons.

Guests at Sunlight Mountain who print a coupon from www.sunlightmtn.com can get a free child lift ticket with the purchase of two adult lift tickets.

 

When guests book a minimum of two nights of lodging at Winter Park between Opening Day and Christmas Day 2010, they will receive one free lift ticket per night booked. The “Ski Free at Winter Park” lodging package is available online at www.playwinterpark.com.

For Colorado Ski Country destination resorts trip planning information and tools, visit http://www.coloradoski.com.

For features on ski destinations, visit www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

Vision Airlines Launches Low-Fare Service Between Niagara Falls, Northwest Florida and Miami

December 17, 2010
South Beach, florida

South Beach, Miami. Vision Airlines has launched low-fare, non-stop air service between Niagara Falls International Airport and Northwest Florida Regional Airport and non-stop service to Miami International Airport. © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vision Airlines’ low-fare, non-stop air service between Niagara Falls International Airport (IAG) and Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) and non-stop service to Miami International Airport (MIA) takes flight today, Dec. 17, 2010, with rates starting at $79 each way.

Vision Airlines will operate flights twice per week (Friday and Sunday) using a Boeing 737 aircraft. This new service will provide leisure travelers from Canada and upstate New York a new low cost way to escape to the sunny beaches of Florida for a weekend or for the entire season. The company believes that “snowbirds” will flock to the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area on direct flights offered by Vision Airlines.

“Vision Airlines is excited to offer this new, low-cost air service to the community of Destin-Fort Walton Beach,” said David Meers, senior vice president for Vision Airlines. “It is our desire to continue to grow our service and route structure and offer tremendous value to leisure travelers. We are also excited to bring this super, low-cost service to the Miami market, as well. There is a need for affordable air travel to the South Florida market.”

Flights are weekly on Friday and Sunday; fares start at $79 each way.

“The addition of direct air service to Niagara Falls and Miami creates a tremendous opportunity for not just Destin and Fort Walton Beach, but for all of Northwest Florida,” said Michael Stenson, business development manager of Northwest Florida Regional Airport. “This new service eases travel expenses and time to our friends in Canada and New York with low fare, direct service to Northwest Florida, and will provide previously non-existent service to South Florida aboard a much larger 737 aircraft.”

For Okaloosa County residents, fantastic vacation destinations are only a short flight away.

Attracting visitors since the 18th century, Niagara Falls astounds viewers with its voluminous waterfalls and invigorating mist, offering unforgettable experiences, including the Maid of the Mist tour, turbulent cave encounters, multiple casinos and astounding light shows upon the falls. Additionally, a global mecca for dining, entertainment and shopping, Miami is now only an 85-minute, low-fare flight away on Vision Airlines.

Vision Airlines – headquartered in Suwanee, Ga., – began operations in 1994 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Today, the company operates a mixed fleet of aircraft including the Boeing 767, Boeing 737 and Dornier328 aircraft. Vision Airlines has been a premier charter airline and has been flying scheduled service for more than 2 years. The company has offices throughout the US.

For more information about Vision Airlines, visit http://www.visionairlines.com or call 877-FLY-A-JET.

Resort in Riviera Maya, Named ‘Wow Destination’ for 2011, Offers Last-Minute Travel Deals

December 15, 2010
Xcaret

Dancers re-create the ceremonies of ancient times at Xcaret, an eco-archeological park © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Riviera Maya was recently named a ‘wow deal destination’ for 2011, prompting airlines and resorts in Mexico to offer great vacation packages for next year. With this in mind, the Riviera Maya all inclusive, Hacienda Tres Rios, has launched a Last-Minute 2011 Sale which offers 30% off the resort’s Unrestricted Rate.

The Last-Minute 2011 Vacation sale also includes “kids stay free” accommodations for up to 2 children under the age of 12 for the ideal family vacation. As an added plus, the vacation deal includes a complimentary 30-minute massage per adult.

The offer is available ONLY from December 13, 2010 to December 17, 2010 when calling 1.800.494.9173 to travel in 2011.

The promotion also applies when reserving online at the Hacienda Tres Rios Specials and Packages page and clicking on the Last-Minute 2011 Vacation link. The vacation offer cannot be combined with other promotions.

The one-of-a-kind, endless luxury, all-inclusive package includes unlimited gourmet food and alcoholic beverages, taxes and tips, private beach, various recreational activities, free in-room Internet access, and luxurious accommodations.

Located 45 minutes from Cancun International Airport, the Riviera Maya all-inclusive resort features a diverse range of world-class cuisine in all nine restaurants and bars on the property.
Guests also have exclusive access to the Tres Rios Nature Park, which offers unique opportunities for guests to explore the region’s unspoiled nature all on the resort’s 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.

To plan your 2011’s Riviera Maya vacation, call 800-494-9173 (US & Canada) or visit the Hacienda Tres Rios website, www.haciendatresrios.com/riviera-maya/. Some restrictions may apply.

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 www.haciendatresrios.com

See: AUTHENTIC’: MEXICO’S RIVIERA MAYA IS BEACH DESTINATION WITH CHARACTER

See: SACRED MAYAN JOURNEY BRIDGES TIME ON MEXICO’S RIVIERA MAYA

Continental Airlines’ New FareLock Lets Customers Hold Reservations for Up to 7 Days

December 14, 2010

Continental Airlines has introduced FareLock, an option that offers customers the opportunity to hold reservations and lock-in ticket prices for 72 hours or seven days with no commitment to purchase a ticket. The new feature, offered for a fee on certain domestic and international itineraries, gives customers additional flexibility to plan their travels and avoid the risk of price increases or sold-out flights.

Customers may choose FareLock when booking reservations at continental.com and opt for a 72-hour or a seven-day hold. They may return to complete the transaction at any time between purchasing the lock and its expiration, or they may choose an auto-ticketing feature which tickets at the end of the lock period. FareLock fees, beginning at $5 for a 72-hour hold and $9 for a seven-day hold, will vary based on a number of factors such as the itinerary, number of days to departure, number of passengers on the reservation, and the length of the hold.

“FareLock is an innovative option for customers who need extra time to plan their travel before purchasing a ticket,” said Chris Amenechi, managing director of merchandising. “This new option is another way that Continental is giving our customers more choices and more control over their travel experience.”

The carrier will continue to offer its 24-hour flexible booking policy that allows reservation changes and cancellations with full refund without a fee within 24 hours of booking online or through the call centers. For customers choosing FareLock, the 24-hour flexible booking policy remains in effect upon ticketing, although the FareLock fee is non-refundable.

More information about FareLock is available at continental.com.

About Continental Airlines

Continental Airlines is a wholly owned subsidiary of United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL). Continental, together with Continental Express and Continental Connection, has more than 2,400 daily departures throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, serving 142 domestic and 131 international destinations. Continental is a member of Star Alliance, which overall offers 21,000 daily flights to 1,160 airports in 181 countries. Continental has hubs serving Cleveland, Guam, Houston and New York/Newark Liberty, and together with its regional partners, carries approximately 63 million passengers per year.

United Continental Holdings, Inc. became the holding company for both United and Continental upon close of the merger transaction. The two airlines will operate separately as they begin to integrate key customer services, marketing activities and airport processes. For more company information, go to continental.com and follow on Twitter and Facebook.

SOURCE United Continental Holdings, Inc.

VERMONT SKI RESORTS ARE FULL OF HOLIDAY CHEER

December 12, 2010

Stratton Mountain Resort is wonderfully welcoming for families © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The holidays make December all the more enticing in Vermont’s snowy mountains with festivals, events and good natured cheer emanating from the resorts. Here is a sampling of some of the resorts’ special holiday events and deals.

Families visiting Smugglers’ Notch Resort over the winter holiday periods will enjoy a full complement of package inclusions and special activities like bonfires and barbecues during Christmas Week and New Year’s.

Bolton Valley Resort created a line-up of fun holiday events for Christmas Week 2010 that are family-oriented and affordable and with all-inclusive packages that offer true ski-to-your-door lodging. Families will enjoy a holiday week filled with skiing and riding, fireworks and more.

There is no better time to come home to Stratton Mountain Resort than the holidays. The resort is keeping with tradition and has planned a season full of extraordinary events from the popular Ross Powers Boardercross Camp to the much anticipated Winter Yoga Cleanse.

Heading into the holidays, Killington Resort is decking the halls and celebrating with events, free learn to ski/snowboard days and attractive vacation package deals. Some highlights include the Rails 2 Riches Rail Jam and the celebration of World Snowboard Day.

The Mountain Top Inn & Resort, just 11 miles from Killington, is offering affordable winter packages for everyone. The resort features its popular Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Center, with an extensive trail system of 60km and decadent cuisine to enjoy after a day of outdoor adventures.

At Stowe Mountain Resort, buying lift-tickets seven days in advance saves money and adds value, even during the holidays. Stowe’s Vacation Rewards Program combines lift tickets with a menu of other on-mountain benefits, and many Stowe area lodges are combining it with a place to stay.

Okemo Mountain Resort celebrates the holidays with visits from Santa and a family New Year’s Eve celebration that includes a dance party and a fireworks display.

To sweeten your post-holiday travels, Ski Vermont has flight discounts and ski packages available. Visit www.jetblue.com/deals/ski-vermont and use promo code SKIVT for 10% off your flight between 1/5/11 – 2/15/11. This offer is available on trips booked before 12/18/10.

Read features showcasing ski destinations at www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

Crested Butte Mountain Resort offers 10 Tips for Trouble-Free Family Ski Trips

December 9, 2010

Crested Butte Mountain Resort's vacation experts have pulled together top family ski travel tips (photo courtesy of CMBR).

Family travel can be challenging and ski trips in particular, can be daunting because they require preparing for weather, multiple activities, logistics of getting kids dressed and to ski school on time. But there are ways to avoid the most likely derailments. Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s (CBMR) Vacation Experts have pulled together top family ski travel tips, highlighting ten ways to save money and maximize enjoyment this season – no matter the ski resort destination.

1. Pre-Book. Not just for flights and lodging anymore, pre-booking most trip details before arrival can save headaches at the rental shop, and certain disappointment at restaurants during peak periods and at ski and snowboard school year-round. It is also a good idea to pre-book activities as space is generally limited for outings such as snowmobile tours and dog sledding excursions. To help with this daunting task most resorts offer an information center or a resort concierge program designed to help guests make the most of their vacation – from booking logistical trip components to the fun stuff. These staffers know the area like the backs of their hands. They generally know hotel general managers, tour operators and restaurant owners personally and that can be key to a great experience and to snagging a table at the newest, hippest restaurant in town on the busiest night of the week. Crested Butte Vacations makes planning and executing a Crested Butte family ski trip – from flights to fondue – a breeze. To book a Crested Butte vacation with all the trimmings, call 800-600-2803 or visit www.skicb.com.

2. Do Some Research or Contact a Travel Agent. Resorts across the globe post a variety of specials and packages designed to entice skiers and riders. A little research can unveil a bounty of offers that will make a family ski trip a bit more affordable, such as Colorado Ski Country USA’s (CSCUSA) 5th & 6th Grade Passport Programs – free skiing at member resorts for fifth and six graders (http://www.coloradoski.com/Passes/PassportProgram/), or CBMR’s Parents Ski Free offer – one free adult single-day lift ticket with the purchase of a multi-day child or young adult lift ticket (http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/butte-specials.aspx?mode=detail&id=parents). No time for research? Ask an expert. A Travel Agent can be a valuable resource for traveling families. In addition to help with general booking needs, utilizing an Agent can mean the difference between a trip to remember and a trip everyone would like to forget. Travel Agents help with changed or cancelled flights, lodging recommendations and can even offer personal insight on renting a car versus using public transportation.

3. Ski-in/Ski-out. Resorts make it easy to get into town from the mountain (if it’s not in the same location), however traveling to the resort during morning “ski rush hour” can test anyone’s nerves – especially on a powder day. Solution? Book ski-in/ski-out lodging. Ski-in/ski-out lodging may be a bit pricier but it will make the morning rush a piece of cake and the kids will remember it forever. Getting the gaggle off to ski school on time will be no problem if lodging is located at the base of the mountain, where ski instructors meet students. And, if someone forgets a glove, goggles, lip balm, snack, or just a little break in the action, “home” is just a few steps away. With only one base area at CBMR, ski-in/ski-out options also mean problem-free meeting arrangements post-run or post-ski day. The resort offers a free shuttle to the Town of Crested Butte (just three miles away), which means no parking woes and a fun ride for everyone (Crested Butte’s buses are decorated by artists so each is unique, upping the fun-factor). For information about ski-in/ski-out lodging options and vacation reservations visit www.skicb.com or call 800-600-2803.

4. Reserve a Condo or Private Home. One of the best ways to save and create a comfortable home-away-from-home-base is to rent a condo. Better yet, rent a large condo or a multi-bedroom home with extended family or close friends (and take advantage of CBMR’s Friends & Family Fly Free offer at the same time: http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/butte-specials.aspx?mode=detail&id=test1). The option affords a full kitchen so meals are a refrigerator away, keeping little tummies full and saving valuable dollars for a special evening out or additional activities. Plus, everyone gets a little space (separate bedrooms, personal baths, etc.). Book lodging and lift tickets and discover some of the best rates of the season at any CBMR property with the resort’s Stay & Ski packages. Pricing starts at $110 per person, per night, and guests realize a savings of up to 15 percent off standard lodging rates and up to 20 percent off window lift ticket rates. Available while supplies last. Call 800-600-2803 or visit www.skicb.com for information or reservations.

5. Pack Smart. The condo has been rented, airline tickets booked and anticipation is building. Now it’s time to pack, a daunting task to be sure. Not to worry, CBMR’s Vacation Experts can help. Most importantly, bring layers – for everyone. Although that condo or private home rental will have a washer/dryer, no one wants to be doing laundry all day or night on a ski vacation. Include several pairs of long underwear – tops and bottoms – and socks, which will need to be washed after each use. Also include fewer, heavier fleece tops or warmer layers that won’t need to be laundered after every wear. One coat and one or two pairs of ski pants to interchange during the trip should round out ski wear needs. For evenings on the town, jeans are the norm. And, CBMR boasts a variety of retail options to assist with forgotten items or “that certain something” (http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/info/things-to-do/shopping-mtcb.aspx). In addition, pack only supplies needed for travel days and anything that cannot be purchased at the destination. Check options for shopping (groceries, supplies, etc.) prior to arrival in case the best stores are near the airport, versus in town (a great question for the resort concierge or Travel Agent).

6. Rent Equipment. As a continuation of the “Pack Smart” tip, don’t pack equipment. It adds bulk, baggage and one more thing to lose en route – especially with sets for each family member. With the quality of equipment stocked at most reputable ski and snowboard shops, there’s no need to lug gear. Opt for a demo package and test different skis, boards and boots daily. Guests who are attached to their equipment should bring boots only. The performance packages at ski and snowboard shops feature excellent options whether riding two planks or just one. Check on-line for pre-booking opportunities at the local rental shop. Visit http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/mountain/equipment-rentals.aspx for information on equipment packages and early rental reservations at CBMR.

7. Don’t Over-Book. This is hazardous for both the kids and the adults. To avoid meltdowns from either age group, check out the destination’s events calendar and research activity options prior to travel. Select three potential options for each day of the trip and let the family select one for each day…and then be flexible. The daily option selected by the family should be the first priority. The rest of the day can fall into place around that activity. And, make sure to accommodate everyone’s first choice at some point during the trip. The resort concierge can help with activity and event options and with booking. CBMR’s resort concierge can be reached at 800-600-2803.

8. Take a Lesson. For those who have never seen snow, been on skis or snowboard, or were once subjected to tips from a significant other or well-intentioned parent, take a “learn to” lesson. Most resorts offer a learn-to-ski or -ride option and they generally include lesson, lift tickets, and sometimes even rentals. The learning curve is shorter and the time spent honing new skills is much more enjoyable. Note: January is “learn-to-ski” month in Colorado. Know how to ski or ride? Wondering why anyone would suggest taking a lesson now? First and foremost, instructors are the best mountain guides and they love to share secrets for making the most of a ski day. Taking a lesson also allows access to the coveted “ski school lane” at the lift maze. Beware: the experience is addictive. CBMR offers private lessons, child and adult group lessons and a variety of special ski camps, including the Beginner Adventure Lesson: special full-day lesson-and-lift packages geared toward aspiring skiers and snowboarders, age 18 and over. And, anyone can save five percent with early on-line booking by reserving space for a Beginner Adventure Lesson at least seven days in advance at http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/mountain/adult-group-lessons.aspx.

9. Take a “Rest Day.” By day-four everyone will need a break from the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. slope sliding extravaganza that is the mission of most ski vacationers. It may be the only family ski trip of the year, and getting in full days may be important to all, but more fun will be had on rested legs (and mental wellbeing) than on an exhausted – and sore – rear end. Plan a fun, less physically-demanding activity away from the slopes. Try snowmobiling, dog sledding or horseback riding. Check out the local museum, or the local shops. Enjoy a long, leisurely breakfast, attack a puzzle or bake cookies. Explore a nearby town, meet the locals, take a nap. Try a sleigh ride or learn to drive a snowcat (CBMR introduces the Snowcat Driving Experience: http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/info/things-to-do/snowcat.aspx). No matter the destination, alternatives to skiing and riding are abundant. If all else fails, build a snowman or a snow fort and go sledding. Let the kids take the lead and enjoy following along.

10. Let Kids Be Kids. Any ski destination provides a great environment to let kids have a little freedom. This works especially well with tweens and teens. Let them explore town on their own and encourage them to choose activities for the family to try – or maybe they’d like to test a skill by themselves. Many resorts have activity centers at the base of the mountain, like CBMR’s Adventure Park (http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/info/things-to-do/adventure-park-winter.aspx). Kids can move between base area lodging and the Adventure Park with ease, sampling ice skating, rock climbing, lift-served tubing and bungee trampolines. CBMR also boasts the Trailhead Children’s Museum in the base area, which features playful adventure, art, science and discovery for young children and parents (http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/info/things-to-do/summer-trailhead.aspx). The experience and the thrill of independence will make heroes of parents and wonderful memories for everyone.

Nestled in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte is committed to preserving the pristine landscape and mountain lifestyle. With vibrant Victorian store-fronts and expressive local characters, the small historic town remains true to its heritage and radiates an unparalleled welcoming and inviting spirit that celebrates a simpler life and time. Thanks to a widely diverse landscape, whether beginner or burgeoning national champion, outdoor enthusiasts of all levels will find a new challenge with each visit. From world-class mountain biking, to legendary skiing and snowboarding, to a secluded fly-fishing experience, Crested Butte is one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets. This season, Crested Butte celebrates 50 years of skiing and riding with a year-long celebration, Crested Butte-style. www.skicb.com

For more information about Crested Butte’s lodging, conference, meeting facilities, and special packages, call Crested Butte Vacations, (800) 600-2803 or visit the web site at www.skicb.com. For information on ski area real estate opportunities call (970) 349-4999 or (877) 805-6109 or visit the website at www.cbliving.com.

For more family ski destination stories, go to www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

 

HAYDEN PLANETARIUM PREVIEWS TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE AT WINTER SOLSTICE PARTY

December 8, 2010

While at the American Museum of Natural History, be sure to see Brain: The Inside Story © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium invites visitors to preview the stars of the winter season and the total eclipse of the Moon which takes place early the next day, during its Winter Solstice Party on Monday, December 20 from 6:30-8 pm. Parts of four continents will be treated to a view of a total lunar eclipse early on the morning of December 21, and Hayden Planetarium astronomers say the view from New York will be the best of its kind until the year 2014.

Join astronomers Steve Beyer, Joe Rao, and Ted Williams, as well as members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, as they prepare prospective eclipse watchers for the lunar show on the final full night of the autumn season. The evening’s festivities will include hot cocoa and, weather permitting, observations of celestial objects through telescopes and binoculars on the Rose Center for Earth and Space’s Arthur Ross Terrace. There will also be a simulation on the dome in the Hayden Space Theater of this year’s winter solstice eclipse using the world’s most advanced star projector, the Zeiss Mark IX.

A total lunar eclipse occurs only when a full Moon, the Earth, and the Sun are in a direct line that allows the Earth’s shadow to fall on the face of the Moon. In the New York area, the eclipse will officially begin on December 21 at 12:29 am as the Moon begins to enter Earth’s outer, or penumbral, shadow. But viewers will not notice any dramatic changes in the Moon’s appearance until1:33 am, when the partial phase of the eclipse begins and the Earth’s dark shadow–called the umbra–starts to slowly creep over the face of the Moon. At 2:41 am the eclipse will reach totality, but sunlight bent by our atmosphere around the curvature of the Earth should produce a coppery glow on the Moon. Totality ends at 3:53 am and the Moon will completely emerge from the umbra to return to its full brilliance at 5:01 am.

Unlike an eclipse of the Sun, an eclipse of the Moon presents no hazards to the viewer. No precautions to protect the eyes are needed. The last total eclipse of the Moon seen in New York occurred on February 20, 2008, and there will not be another until April 14, 2014.

Winter Solstice Party admission is $15; $13.50 (Museum members, students and senior citizens). Tickets can be purchased online at: http://www.amnh.org/calendar/category/Hayden-Planetarium-Programs/

Also see the blockbuster exhibit on view, “Brain: The Inside Story”

Tips for Traveling with Children This Holiday Season from America’s travel agents

December 6, 2010
Coco Key Hotel & Waterpark, Orlando

A great family holiday begins with choosing a family-friendly resort like CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort-Orlando. An ASTA travel agent can recommend vacation destinations tailor-made for your family's interests and budget, find great deals on airfare and hotels © 2010 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), which represents retail travel agents, has some recommendations for families headed off for holiday travel.

Anyone who has spent part of their holiday travels with cranky children in tow knows how important patience and preparation can be. So what can frazzled parents do before hitting the road or taking to the skies to make sure their little ones are happy? Check out TravelSense.org, ASTA’s consumer Web site, for helpful travel advice on everything from traveling with kids or with grandkids to traveling with pets and contact a local ASTA travel agent.

Among the tips are:

  • Keep planning simple: Traveling with kids in tow involves many details. To make the process easier, consider using an ASTA travel agent, who can recommend vacation destinations tailor-made for your family’s interests and budget, find great deals on airfare and hotels, and fill you in on the latest airport security news.
  • Make getting to your destination fun: Use time traveling together for zany sing-alongs, family storytelling sessions and scavenger hunts. Parents can draw up a list of things you might expect to see from a car or plane, such as two-toned cows, a car toting a Christmas tree, or a man wearing a red hat, then have the kids vie to see who spots the items first. For the ultimate treat, splurge on a portable DVD player, and watch a new holiday movie in transit
  • Pack a fun bag: Assemble a bag for each child containing stickers, paper and washable markers, posable figurines (that don’t have a lot of pieces), magnetic games and puzzles and a pillow. Or, for a special treat or when chaos reigns, consider a portable DVD player just for long trips. If you use these particular bags for trips only, they’ll remain novel, and kids will look forward to the journey.
  • Break up the trip with frequent stops: Playgrounds, indoor fun centers, and family restaurants are good bets.
  • Make a memory box: Bring an empty shoebox along to store items you’ll collect along the way, such as seashells, rocks, funny postcards, and marked-up road maps. When you get home, label the box with the trip destination and date, and you’ll have a great souvenir of your time together.

“Traveling with cranky kids over the holidays can make even the merriest parent feel like saying ‘Bah, Humbug’,” said ASTA President and Chair Chris Russo. “Working with a professional travel agent to plan your holiday get-away means parents will have one less thing to worry about when packing up to hit the slopes or visit grandma.”

To locate a travel agent near you, visit TravelSense.org’s Find a Travel Agent directory.

For features about great family destinations and resorts, visit www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate.