Archive for January, 2011

Crested Butte Mountain Resort has Fly Free, Ski & Stay Deals

January 7, 2011

From the resort that created Friends & Family Fly Free and the 100-Inch Special comes an offer so good it is only available for the month of January. Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) announces its $599 Fly, Ski and Stay deal, which includes a roundtrip flight into Gunnison/Crested Butte Regional airport (GUC), three days of skiing or riding at CBMR and a four-night stay at The Grand Lodge. CBMR has received 189 inches of snow so far this season and conditions are perfect for a post-holiday visit.

“This is one of our biggest and best deals of the season,” said Daren Cole, CBMR’s vice president of sales and marketing. “A note to all of those procrastinators who have been waiting to book a trip: the snow is incredible and this offer can’t be beat. What are you waiting for?”

CBMR’s $599 Fly, Ski and Stay deal must be booked by Jan. 31, 2011 for travel through Feb. 10, 2011. The offer is available for $699 between Feb. 11 and Apr. 4, 2011 (with the exception of Mar. 12 – 24, 2011). Prices are per person based upon double occupancy and taxes and fees are not included. Guests must fly into GUC on departure and return flights; this offer applies for select destinations based upon available airfare.

For more information or to book this package contact Crested Butte Vacations at 800-600-2803, www.skicb.com.

Colorado’s history has been punctuated by many notable events and happenings but none has been as fun-filled as the advent of skiing. Skiing arrived in Crested Butte 50 years ago this season and the resort is planning to make the most of this milestone. CBMR’s yearlong celebration of skiing and riding history in the Gunnison Valley includes the resurrection of time-honored events (many involving costumes – it IS Crested Butte, after all), community activities and the opportunity to honor prominent figures from Crested Butte’s past.

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 ski destination features, see www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

French Country Waterways Offers Upper Loire Valley Cruise Aboard 8-Passenger Princess

January 7, 2011

French Country Waterways, which has offered elegant vacation experiences aboard its own fleet of luxury canal barges for more than 25 years, is returning to the Upper Loire Valley in 2011, and using its luxury eight-passenger Princess on this itinerary for the first time.  The well-appointed barge, formerly the private barge of shipping magnate Daniel K. Ludwig, sails between Châtillon-sur-Loire and Montargis every Sunday from April 3 through Oct. 30.

Highlights of the sailing include a private cellar tour and wine tasting in the charming village of Sancerre; dinner ashore at the Michelin-starred Auberge des Templiers in les Bezards; a visit to the medieval town of Gien, a leading center for French faience; and a day trip – including lunch – to the magnificent Chateau de Chambord, the largest of the Loire Valley chateaux.  Guests are escorted via private motorcoach to and from Paris.  Prices for the weekly Sunday departures, April through October, range from $5,495 to $6,695 per person, double.

Guests aboard the Princess also enjoy a host of  luxury amenities that are par for the course on all of French Country Waterway’s cruises: creative cuisine prepared by talented young chefs, who blend classic cooking techniques with the trend to lighter fare; four-course candlelit dinners accompanied by Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines from Burgundy and other major French wine regions; all breakfasts, lunches and dinners, including one dinner ashore at a Michelin-starred restaurant; attentive service from a crew fluent in English and French; daily sightseeing excursions and private wine tastings; and time to relax on the sundeck and walk or bicycle along canal towpaths. Hot-air ballooning is also an option.

The Princess has four suites with king-size beds, a salon with large picture windows and well-stocked bar, formal dining room, separate library, powder room and canopied sundeck for relaxing and al fresco meals.  All meals are included on board, as well as the Michelin dinner and local lunch.  Wine is served at lunch and dinner as well at other time and other drinks from the well-stocked bar are complimentary.  The Princess chef shops in farmers’ markets and local bakeries each morning to provide guests with freshly baked breads, buttery croissants and local cheeses, produce, meats and fish to prepare his tempting menus.

The barges are available for individual bookings and for charter by families, friends and groups of eight to 12.  Special room rates are offered at several deluxe hotels in Paris for guests wishing to extend their stay.  Information, brochures and reservations can be obtained from French Country Waterways, Ltd., P.O. Box 2195, Duxbury, MA 02331; (800) 222-1236 in the U.S. and Canada and (781) 934-2454 in MA; or, visit www.fcwl.com.

 

Alpventures Top Secret Tours Introduces Trips to UFO Sites

January 7, 2011

Get ready for a close encounter of the atomic kind.

Alpventures Southwest UFO Discovery Tour includes a visit to Trinity Site, where the world’s first nuclear bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. The all-inclusive two-week tour in April and October 2011 will cover the history of UFOs in the American Southwest, while visiting significant locations connected to the phenomenon.

Tony Cisneros, Owner of Alpventures Top Secret Tours says, “UFO sightings have virtually become a daily occurrence. We are heading toward a global UFO event – I think we can all feel it is coming.”

Cisneros has guided hundreds of tour groups to World War II Battlefields throughout Europe since 1994 and has researched the UFO phenomenon for over 10 years.

The Southwest UFO Discovery Tour begins in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Destinations include Los Alamos, White Sands, Socorro and Roswell, where during the summer of 1947, a UFO allegedly crash-landed and was recovered by the U.S. military. The tour finishes with three days at Grand Canyon, Sedona and Phoenix, Arizona.

Alpventures Top Secret Tours visit famous UFO hotspots, paranormal sites, military bases and more.

Top Secret Tours
Browse Top Secret Tours
Southwest UFO Discovery Tour
Roswell UFO Tour
Area 51 Experience Tour
Beyond the Iron Curtain Tour

For information or to book, 888-991-6718, http://www.topsecrettours.com.

 

Scotland Launches Year of Events, Festivals, Activities Highlighting Active, Adventurous Destination

January 7, 2011

Scotland has launched a year of exciting activities and events with the announcement of Active Scotland. The year-long program of events, festivals, and activities will outline Scotland as a must-visit active and adventure destination and showcase the best of Scotland to the world.

Active Scotland builds upon on the success of Homecoming 2009
and the Year of Food and Drink – which runs until May 2011, in showcasing Scotland around a common theme.

On January 1, visitors and Scots came together to signal the start of Active Scotland at the Scottish capital’s famous One o’ Clock run – a fun run or walk from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Park and part of Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay celebrations.

Jim Mather, Scottish Government Tourism Minister, said: “Our diverse and beautiful landscape makes Scotland a fantastic destination to be active, whether you are visiting or you live here – and spotlighting this incredible selling point makes perfect sense.

“Through the Year of Active Scotland in 2011, the tourism industry will work together to promote the vast range of activities Scotland has to offer. From gentle coastal walks to long-distance treks through challenging terrain, open canoeing on a tranquil loch to the thrill of white-water rafting down a fast flowing river, or the fun of a family bike ride to the rush of mountain biking through forests – Active Scotland has something to offer those of all ages and abilities.

“Through Active Scotland we are aiming to sustain the momentum of the Year of Food and Drink. There are obvious links between eating delicious, healthy food and drink and being active – and we intend to exploit these opportunities as these two focus years overlap.”

Active Scotland appeals to everyone, from gentle walkers to adrenaline junkies. Moreover, Scotland’s diverse landscapes and cities make a fantastic destination in which to be active, while a growing reputation for adventure sports has put Scotland on the map as Europe’s Adventure Capital.

Scotland offer endless opportunities for adventure, from snowboarding and ice climbing in the mountains to canyoning in the water, and from skiing in the Cairngorms to mountain biking in the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, and Fort William, visitors are spoilt for choice. Not forgetting that visitors can get out and about in the Home of Golf, with over 550 golf courses throughout the country.

Whatever your choice of activity, Scotland is a fantastic visitor destination all year round, with activity experiences for all levels of ability, all within easy reach of major hubs and cities.

Scotland has a wide range of active and adventure-based activities taking place throughout 2011, the Year of Active Scotland, from much watched spectator events such as St. Andrews Golf Week and the Johnnie Walker Golf Championship, to Rugby events, the Mountain Bike World Cup, and Highland Games throughout the length and breadth of the country. Here are just some of Scotland’s active and adventure events for 2011.

MELROSE SEVENS
April 9
Scottish Borders
Rugby 7s was founded in Melrose in 1883. The game of rugby 7s is now played on an international stage from Hong Kong to Scotland and is testimony to its founder in the Scottish Borders town, Ned Haig. 2011 is the 128th playing of the Melrose Sevens and it is proposed to continue an extended tournament with guest teams coming from far and near.
Tel: +44 (0)1896 822993
www.melrose7s.com

ST. ANDREWS GOLF WEEK
April 10 – 16
St. Andrews
The St. Andrews Golf Week is an annual event for amateur golfers and is held in St. Andrews – The Home of Golf. The St. Andrews Golf Week was established in 1974 and continues to attract golfers from all over the world. In 2010, there were golfers from fourteen different countries including USA, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Scotland, Germany, Norway, India, Ireland, Singapore, France, and England.
www.standrewsgolfweek.com

O’NEILL COLD WATER CLASSIC SCOTLAND
April 29 – May 6
Thurso, Northern Highlands
Lying at 59 degrees north, Thurso is the most northern wave spot on the planet to host a professional surfing event, with waves which on their day can rival the north shore of Hawaii. With its inspired mobile format, the Coldwater Classic Scotland is free to choose between Scotland’s prime surfing venue and the fast reef break of Thurso East, the shallow hollow at The Bowl of Brim’s Ness, and the classic beach break of Strathy.
www.ONeill.com

THE SPIRIT OF SPEYSIDE WHISKY FESTIVAL
May 1 – 10
Speyside, Aberdeenshire
The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2009. Held each year during the first long weekend in May, the festival creates an opportunity for visitors to enjoy a visit to Speyside before the start of the main tourism season. The festival invites visitors to celebrate Scotland’s national drink through an inventive and wide-ranging program of whisky-inspired events, some educational, all of them fun. There are unique tours and tastings, many at distilleries not normally open to visitors, opportunities to meet whisky experts, matching food and whisky events, a local food fair, master classes and lectures, wildlife walks with whisky treats, art and craft, mountain biking tours, family fun days, and many more entertaining events.
www.spiritofspeyside.co.uk

THE DRAMBUIE PURSUIT
May
Highlands
The Drambuie Pursuit has always been an amazing experience. An epic journey for strong minds, wills and bodies. Just as Bonnie Prince Charlie inspired an army, changed history, and nailed the impossible because of something he truly believed in – we now want you to run in his footsteps for a cause that you hold dear. The Drambuie Pursuit is a once-in-a-lifetime, energy-charged adventure challenge across the Scottish Highlands, starting on the Isle of Skye and ending in Inverness. En route, you’ll compete in an array of exciting mental and physical challenges, including white-water rafting, abseiling, mountain biking, and kayaking.
www.drambuie.co.uk

HIGHLAND GAMES
May – September
Throughout Scotland
Around 100 Highland games and gatherings take place in Scotland each year. Each one has a mix of piping, athletic events, and Highland dancing.
www.visitscotland.com

EMIRATES AIRLINES EDINBURGH RUGBY SEVENS
May 28 – 29
Murrayfield, Edinburgh
The Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens is a rugby union sevens tournament, part of the IRB Sevens World Series, held at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. It has the honour of being the last event in each season’s IRB Sevens.
http://www.edinburgh7s.com

ANGUS GLENS WALKING FESTIVAL
June 2 – 5
Angus
The Angus Glens Walking Festival is a walking opportunity which will open your eyes, stimulate your senses, and reveal to you many of the hidden treasures of this enigmatic part of Scotland. The award winning 4-day festival is now engraved in the very fabric of Scotland’s outdoor activities calendar. Each year the festival includes evening entertainment, as well as walks to suit all tastes and abilities. Experienced mountain leaders, guide groups, countryside rangers, and estate managers support the walkers’ experience with their knowledge of local history, wildlife and farming.
Tel: +44 (0)1307 473168
www.angusahead.com/walkingfestival

UCI MOUNTAIN BIKE WORLD CUP
June 4 – 5
Fort William
A stunning celebration of two-wheeled action in the Highlands. The Fort William World Cup is one of 9 events taking place in Europe, Canada, and USA, from April to September. At a World Cup, riders can compete as individuals, for factory teams or for their National Teams, and there are few restrictions on entry other than a minimum standard of UCI points. Although the Olympics (XCO only) and the World Championships medals are the best recognized titles in mountain biking, they are both one-off competitions, whereas the World Cup overall title is the best reflection of performance over a range of different courses through the season.
T: +44 (0)131 555 3820
www.fortwilliamworldcup.co.uk

ROYAL HIGHLAND SHOW
June 23 – 26
Edinburgh
The Royal Highland Show is held by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, founded in 1784 to promote the regeneration of rural Scotland. Occupying almost a three-hundred-acre site right next to Edinburgh Airport on the western fringe of Scotland’s Capital City, the event is an annual “must” for the major herds, flocks, and studs across the UK, as well as being firmly in the calendar of a huge variety of businesses, which take trade stands to promote and sell their products. The 170th Royal Highland Show in 2010 attracted 187,600 visitors over 4 days making it an all time record for the event and ensuring it continues to be one of the UK’s top agricultural shows and Scotland’s leading international agricultural event.
T: +44 (0)131 335 6200
www.royalhighlandshow.org

BARCLAYS SCOTTISH OPEN
July 7 – 10
Loch Lomond
The Scottish Open has been played at Loch Lomond since 1996, just two years after the course was opened. In that short time, the tournament and the venue have grown in stature, with brilliant notices from the world’s best golfers, to become a highlight of the European Tour. The course nestles in 660 acres of the Clan Colquhoun Estate and is surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the mountains and loch. The course is criss-crossed by streams, awash with marshes and cloaked in fabulous mature trees.
T: +44 (0)141 887 2992
www.barclaysscottishopen.co.uk

JOHNNIE WALKER CHAMPIONSHIP 2011
August
Gleneagles, Perthshire
Diageo is proud to be the host and sponsor of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on its 11th anniversary. Held over The PGA Centenary Course, venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup, this is one of the leading events on The PGA European Tour International Schedule of Events and will welcome some of the best golfers in the world to one of the most beautiful places in the world.
http://www.johnniewalkerchampionship.com

COWAL HIGHLAND GATHERING
August 25 – 27
Dunoon, Argyll
The biggest highland games in the world, the Cowal Highland Gathering has all the traditional elements of a highland games. The Highland dancing competitions and the heavy events are always the crowd pleasers, especially tossing the caber! But is also a great family day out with lots of other entertainment on offer, including a food fair, with a focus on Argyll speciality produce.
Tel: +44 (0)1369 703206
www.cowalgathering.com

BRAEMAR GATHERING
September 3
Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire
Each year the village of Braemar in Royal Deeside, Scotland, invites people from all over the world “to come over the hills” to attend the Braemar Gathering and Highland Games. The gathering is always held on the first Saturday in September, and it is perhaps the most famous Highland Games anywhere. It features the finest Pipe Bands, pipers, Highland dancers, and athletes in a beautiful setting surrounded by hills. The patron of the gathering is Her Majesty the Queen. The Braemar Gathering has been regularly attended by members of the Royal Family since Queen Victoria first attended in 1848. Indeed, King Malcolm Canmore held games nearby almost 1,000 years ago so there is a long “pedigree.”
Tel: +44 (0)1339 755377
www.braemargathering.org

TIREE WAVE CLASSIC
October
Inner Hebrides
2010 marks the 24th anniversary of the Tiree Wave Classic – a festival which attracts top windsurfers from all over the world. The backdrop on the remote island of Tiree also pulls in photographers and film crews to capture stunning shots. The festival also incorporates an Event Village giving visitors the chance to try out new activities and hone their skills.
http://www.tireewaveclassic.org

www.visitscotland.com

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Celebrates 1,000,000th Butterbeer Sale

January 7, 2011

In celebration of selling its millionth Butterbeer inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort shared 1,000 complimentary Butterbeers with guests on the streets of Hogsmeade © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In celebration of selling its millionth Butterbeer inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando Resort shared 1,000 complimentary Butterbeers with guests on the streets of  Hogsmeade.

Butterbeer appears as a favorite drink inside the Harry Potter books and films and is only available inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It is a nonalcoholic, frothy drink reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch and is served cold or frozen.

Much has been written about Butterbeer since it made its debut on June 18, 2010, making it one of the most talked about beverages of 2010.  There has been much speculation about its secret ingredients – but Universal Orlando will not share the closely guarded recipe. Universal has implemented special security procedures to protect the details.

Butterbeer quickly became a guest favorite.   To help meet the strong demand, Universal Orlando added a fourth Butterbeer location within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

“You can see the excitement on our guests’ faces as they wait in line – and then the smile that comes with their first sip,” said Ric Florell, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Resort Revenue Operations for Universal Orlando.  “Butterbeer is not just a beverage. It’s an experience.”

 

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the most spectacularly themed environment ever created. It is the only place in the world where the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter books and films come to life.

 

See Inside Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter

and Wizarding World slideshow

Also Loews Portofino Bay Hotel Lets You Live Universal’s Theme Park Fantasy

 

 

Spectacular Famcations on the Slopes & Beyond in Gunnison-Crested Butte CO

January 5, 2011

In Gunnison Crested Butte, Colo., family merriment and total relaxation abounds in 1880s-era towns that are rich in history, charm and friendliness (photo courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort).

Take winter fun to the next level, Rocky Mountain-style, in Gunnison Crested Butte, Colo., where family merriment and total relaxation abounds in 1880s-era towns that are rich in history, charm and friendliness, and there are Fly Free and Rent Free deals that make the trip wallet-friendly, too.

At the Ski Area, Mt. Crested Butte

Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR, www.skicb.com) offers fun for all ages, even if you don’t ski! Of course there are plenty of options to cruise all levels of slopes on your own or with a guide/instructor, and skiing is free for kids age 6 and under.

The Adventure Park is for all ages with a covered ice-skating rink, bungee trampolines, rock climbing wall and lift-served tubing hill.  You also can tap into the magic of sleighride dinners to Uley’s Cabin pulled by a snowcat and daytime and moonlight snowshoe tours.

There are skiing and snowboarding lessons for youth and adults at CBMR, as well as through Adaptive Sports Center (www.adapativesports.org) for family members with physical and/or cognitive disabilities.  There’s also child care for the wee ones, not to mention Kid’s Night Out, available every evening from 4 – 8 p.m. for ages 4 – 12.  Dinner and access to the Adventure Park and tubing hill are part of the Kid’s Night Out activities.

During ski season, the Trailhead Children’s Discovery Museum will be open every day in the Outpost Building next to the Adventure Center from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Kids can enjoy an indoor playground, science experiments, art stations and several exhibits, with special events held every weekend at various times.  Admission is $6 per person.  For information and schedule of events, go to www.trailheadkids.org.

The museum and Crested Butte Music Festivalare teaming up to offer a Kids Rock winter entertainment series especially for families with children between ages 2 – 9.  The performances will be held on the four Saturdays from Feb. 19 – March 12.  Charlie Hope (singer), Wise Fool (puppetry, theatre & more), Jim Jackson (clown) and Jim Cosgrove (kid rocker) are currently on the schedule.The series will take place at 4 p.m. in the Mountaineer Square Ballroom in Mt. Crested Butte, except the Feb. 26 show will be at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts.  The cost is $5 per person for each concert.  For more information, go to www.crestedbuttemusicfestival.com or www.trailheadkids.org.

 

In Town, Crested Butte Area

The Crested Butte Nordic Center has cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and sledding all in one place. The Nordic Center grooms more than 50k of trails and offers instruction, equipment rentals and many events.  Use of the outdoor ice rink and sledding hill are free, and a pass is required to use the groomed trails. Call (970) 349-1707 or visit www.cbnordic.org.

If you’d rather not expel your own energy to get around and love horses and dogs, check out one of these great options.

  • Board a horse-drawn sleigh at Lazy F Bar Ranch south of Crested Butte for a scenic, 35-minute ride to a rustic 1950s cabin overlooking the East River and indulge in a five-course meal.  Visit www.lazyfbarranch.comor call (970) 641-0193.
  • Head out with Fantasy Ranch Horseback Adventures for a one-hour ride in the Almont area.  Halfway through the journey, warm up by the fire at Almont Resort with a cup of hot cocoa.  Visit www.fantasyranchoutfitters.com or call 888-OUTFITT.
  • There is nothing quite like being pulled by a team of dogs in the thick of mountain terrain capped with snow.  Dog sledding with Lucky Cat Dog Farm is one of those lifetime experiences not to be missed.  Visit www.luckycatdogfarm.com or call (970) 641-1636 for details about lunch tours and short tours.

Enrich your mind at the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, where there are displays about local history, including skiing, ranching, mining, local personalities and more. The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame also is located in the museum, along with a gift shop that all ages relish. Just down the street, catch a concert or art exhibit at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts and take in a little theatre at a production presented by Crested Butte Mountain Theatre.  Or get the creative juices flowing and paint your own pottery at The Pottery Place, which is part of The Studio Art School, which offers art classes for all ages.

Must-stops for young families on Elk Avenue are Pooh’s Corner and Petite Lavish, and teens love sitting on the floor on pillows or beanbags to eat gourmet pizza at The Secret Stash and shopping for the latest sunglasses at Shades of Crested Butte and styles at Retail Therapy.

Gunnison Gateway

Families looking for less-expensive lodging during the ski season or for an easy excursion from Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, check out Gunnison, home of Western State College.

Gunnison Valley RTA buses run several routes a day between Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte for only $2 per ride.  Enjoy a day at the Gunnison Recreation Center’s entire facility for only $4 for kids ages 5 – 17 and $6 for adults; kids under 5 are free.  There is an indoor pool with slides, rock climbing wall, gym, gymnastics room and game room.

You are never too old or young to learn how to ice skate.  The City of Gunnison Ice Facility at Jorgensen Park features three sheets of ice: an indoor NHL-size rink, outdoor Olympic-size covered rink, and outdoor frozen pond.  The admission cost for the indoor rink is $3 for ages 18 and older, $2 for ages 5 – 17, and free for kids under 5.  Skate rentals are $3 per pair.  There is no cost to use the outdoor rink and pond.  Check for public skate times at both rinks; the pond is dedicated to open skating. For the Rec Center and ice skating facilities, go to www.cityofgunnison-co.gov.

There is outstanding Nordic skiing and snowshoeing along backcountry routes and groomed trails at Hartman Rocks Multi-Use Recreation Area west of Gunnison.  This combined with VanTuyl Ranch, the Western State College practice field on campus and Jorgensen Park encompasses approximately 45K of trails groomed by the Gunnison Nordic Club.  Rent equipment at Gene Taylor’s Sporting Goods or All Sports Replay.

While downtown, don’t miss stopping by the Gunnison Arts Center. Younger kids also will request a stop at Circus Train while teens enjoy dining at Mario’s Pizza & Ristorante.  Don’t miss sweet treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Gunnison and Crested Butte.

Wallet-Friendly Family Vacations & Deals

When traveling by air to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) on United, Continental and American between December 16, 2010 and April 3, 2011, take advantage of Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Friends and Family Fly Free deal.  Buy two airline tickets and get the third free when staying in CBMR’s lodging properties for at least four nights. The maximum number of free tickets per itinerary is three (for a booking of nine tickets), and the maximum travel credit is $400 per free airline ticket.  There are no blackout dates, but the offer is based on availability and can end at any time. This deal cannot be combined with any other offers and is valid only on new reservations.

From Jan. 5 – Feb. 16 and Feb. 27 – March 10, 2011, Kids Fly Free on American Airlines when flying with a parent to GUC.  The child must be age 12 or under, and his or her birthday is required in order to confirm the reservation. The adult purchasing the full-fare airline ticket is responsible for all taxes, fees and charges for the child’s airline ticket. This offer is subject to availability, and all travel (inbound or outbound) must be completed on or by March 10, 2011.  Inbound travel from origin to Gunnison must commence between Sundays – Wednesdays; outbound travel from Gunnison to origin must commence between Mondays – Fridays.  The minimum length of stay is two nights, and the maximum length of stay is 30 nights. Other restrictions may apply.  For both Fly Free deals visit www.skicb.com and call Crested Butte Vacations to book at (800) 810-7669.

Black Tie Ski Rentals of Crested Butte not only comes to where you are staying and custom fits equipment and picks it up when you are done, they are offering a Kids Rent Free special.  With every paying adult (minimum two-day rental), one child age 12 and under rents for free.  This deal is subject to availability.  Call (970) 349-0722 or (888) 349-0722 or visit www.blacktieskis.com.

Vacation Packages & Visitor Information

To find out more, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association’s toll-free number (800) 814-8893 or visit www.GunnisonCrestedButte.com.  Find the Tourism Association on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gcbtaor follow on www.twitter.com/gcbta.  The Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport in Gunnison is served year-round by United Airlines and during the winter season by American Airlines and Continental Airlines.

About Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado

Gunnison-Crested Butte is nestled among almost two million acres of pristine wilderness in southwest Colorado.  Winter sports enthusiasts know the area for its world-class alpine skiing and snowboarding at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing.  Gunnison-Crested Butte is also a haven for outdoor summer activities.  In the warmer months, visitors can choose from recreational activities such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking, boating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, camping and horseback riding.  Year-round visitors enjoy distinctive restaurants, unique shops and stimulating cultural opportunities, and have a wide range of lodging options — from rustic inns to guest cabins and bed-and-breakfasts to full-service resort hotels.

Gunnison, county seat and a real western town, is home to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport, Gunnison Whitewater Park, Gunnison Valley Observatory, Pioneer Museum and Western State College, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional fields.  Both Crested Butte and Gunnison have thriving historic central business districts packed with shopping and dining opportunities.

Recognized as the “Official Wildflower Capital of Colorado” by the Colorado Legislature and one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” in 2008, Crested Butte is 28 miles from Gunnison and the site of rich mining, ranching and skiing heritage and home to the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.  Only three miles up the road is the resort village of Mt. Crested Butte, home to the ski area, an active base area, the area’s conference center, and outstanding hiking and biking trails.  Marbleis located in the Upper Crystal River Valley along the Elk Mountains and is the gateway to nearby Crystal, home to one of the most photographed mill sites in the country.Marble has seven sites on the National Register of Historic Places and is the location of the Yule Marble Quarry.

In Gunnison County, visitors will find the Curecanti National Recreation Area, where dinosaur fossils were recently discovered; the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water and home to the largest Kokanee salmon fishery in the United States; and The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, one of our country’s newest national parks.  Gunnison County includes the quaint and historic towns of Pitkin, Gothic, Tin Cup, Marble, Powderhorn, Almont and Crystal, plus the better-known communities of Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte.  Gunnison County is part of the West Elk Loop and Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byways.

For more Colorado and ski destination features, www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

Kids Fly Free to Telluride this Winter

January 5, 2011

Telluride Central Reservations is welcoming 2011 with a “kids fly free” deal on select American Airlines flights. Pair with Telluride’s $89 Stay and Ski package and be the family hero.

Planning a trip without the kids? Save $100 per ticket booked on select American Airlines flights through April 2. That means airfare can start as low as $148 from Chicago (plus tax and fees) or $246 from New York City (via Chicago, plus tax and fees), making a Telluride getaway even more accessible and affordable this spring.

Kids Fly Free: Make it a family affair in Telluride this winter, and take the kids along for free. Kids fly free on select American Airlines flights from January 5 – February 11, 2011.

  • Promotion applies to inbound travel on: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
  • Promotion applies to outbound travel on: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
  • Children 2–12 years of age fly free. One child free for each adult fare paying ticket. Ages 13 and over will be considered an adult and will pay the applicable adult fare.
  • Minimum Stay: 2 nights
  • Valid Dates: January 5, 2011-February 11
  • More Details: Book by January 26, 2011
  • The “Kids Fly Free” promotion is available only by calling Telluride Central Reservations (not bookable online): 1-888-605-2578.

$100 Off American Airlines Flights: Receive $100 off select American Airlines flights from or via Chicago on Saturdays for travel from January 1, 2011 – April 2, 2011. This offer is valid for the first 100 tickets purchased.

  • Terms & Conditions:
  • Book by January 31, 2011
  • Valid for travel from January 1, 2011 – April 2, 2011
  • Valid for the first 100 tickets purchased
  • Tickets are non-refundable
  • Promotion valid for flights from or via Chicago (ORD) to Montrose (MTJ) that leave or return on a Saturday
  • Not valid with other air promotions
  • The “$100 Off American Airlines Flights” promotion is available only by calling Telluride Central Reservations (not bookable online): 1-888-605-2578.

Telluride Central Reservations has Stay & Ski packages from $89 per person per night. Enjoy three days of skiing the legendary terrain of Telluride Ski Resort and stay for five nights in one of the many properties in the Telluride Central Reservations’ portfolio. 888-605-2578,  www.visittelluride.com

For more information about Telluride, visit www.visittelluride.com, or go to Facebook at Facebook.com/VisitTelluride.

For more ski destination stories, visit www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

 

Mystics, mediums, murder and mayhem abound during Cape May’s Sherlock Holmes Weekend, March 18-20

January 4, 2011

Cape May's bi-annual Sherlock Holmes Weekend, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), returns with a new mystery for 2011: The Case of the Surreptitious Ghoul. The first weekend will take place from March 18-20 and the next weekend will be in November (photo by: Joe Evangelista).

Cape May’s bi-annual Sherlock Holmes Weekend, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), returns with a new mystery for 2011: The Case of the Surreptitious Ghoul. The first weekend will take place from March 18-20 and the next weekend will be in November (photo by: Joe Evangelista).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s master sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, ponders the evidence to a baffling new mystery for 2011, “The Case of the Surreptitious Ghoul,” during Cape May’s Sherlock Holmes Weekend, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), Friday, March 18 through Sunday, March 20 (the next opportunity will be in November).

Join the famous detective and his partner, Dr. Watson, as they explore the Gothic Habitants of Underground London Society, or G.H.O.U.L.S. for short. Mystics, mediums, murder and mayhem abound in this bleak world. The duo will need your help as they peer deep into the darkness and face the fears that lie within.

Thoughout the weekend, participants will get in on the chase during the Search for Clues Tour, vie for prizes, and enjoy performances, lunch and an optional theatrical production.

Full weekend packages are available at $180 per couple or $95 per person. Overnight packages with accommodations are also available. Call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, ext. 185 for more information or to reserve your overnight package.

The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all. For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at www.capemaymac.org. For information about restaurants, accommodations and shopping, call the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May at 609-884-55

Read more about Cape May: CAPE MAY, NJ ROLLS OUT WELCOME MAT FOR FAMILIES-

Crystal Symphony Sets Course for First Ever Hawaiian Islands Golf Cruise

January 4, 2011

On Crystal Symphony’s first-ever Golf Experiences of Discovery to the Hawaiian Islands, golfers can tee off at three of the region’s most stunning courses, and perfect their swings with instruction from PGA pros on the way.  The 14-day itinerary conveniently sails round-trip from Los Angeles April 24, with play in Kauai, Oahu and Maui.  The courses, featuring some of the most spectacular scenery on the islands, include:

Poipu Bay Golf Course (Kauai) – Named one of the top courses in Hawaii by the likes of Golf.com and The Los Angeles Times, where one is just as likely to reach the surf as the green.

Ko’olau Golf Course (Oahu) – Listed as one of Golf Magazine’s ‘Top 100 Places You Can Play’, the course encompasses over 280 acres of plush forest, and poses a fun challenge for low-handicappers.

Ka’anapali Golf Resort (Maui) – The Royal Course at Ka’anapali has hosted greats from Arnold to Nicklaus, featuring broad fairways and sloped greens.

In addition to play at the destination’s top-rated courses, Crystal’s “Hawaiian Dreams” golf programming also features on board presentations and tips from former U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi and golf historian Jack Mishler.

The Crystal Golf Program includes onboard practice with brand new TaylorMade equipment – the No. 1 driver on the PGA Tour – cocktails, caddy and cart service on the greens, and complimentary cleaning and storage of golf clubs and golf shoes after each round.

The cruise calls in Hawaii/Hilo, Kauai/Nawiliwili, Oahu/Honolulu, Maui/Lahaina, Hawaii; and Ensenada, Mexico.  Promotional, Two-for-One cruise fares start at $4,955 per person, double occupancy, and include complimentary air transportation and $500 per person ‘All Inclusive – As You Wish’ shipboard credit. For more information and Crystal reservations, contact a travel agent, call 888-799-4625, or visit www.crystalcruises.com.

National Wildlife Refuges Host Winter Events

January 4, 2011

This winter, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride past an elk herd numbering in the thousands at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyo. © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It is always a good season to visit a national wildlife refuge. Go for a hike. Sight a bird. Restore your sense of wonder. The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife and plants. There is a National Wildlife Refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

Here is a sampling of upcoming refuge events:

Strap on Your Skis
Now thru mid-March — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Hike, snowshoe, x-country ski Horicon Refuge for wildlife watching & photography. Learn more about Horicon Refuge.

Take a Sleigh Ride
Now thru March, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily — National Elk Refuge, WY
Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride past an elk herd numbering in the thousands. Reservations needed. Buy tickets (adults $18; ages 5-12 $14; under 5 free) at the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, 532 North Cache Street, several blocks north of Jackson’s Town Square. Visitor Center hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Sleigh rides last about one hour, including the shuttle ride to and from the sleigh ride site. Accommodations for visitors with disabilities. Learn more about National Elk Refuge.

Join an Eagle Watch
Friday, January 7, and Saturday, January 8, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. — Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, OK
Learn about eagles, then take a hayride to an eagle hotspot to see eagles fly in to roost for the evening. Reservations are required. Wear warm, neutral-colored clothing. Bring a thermos or hot mug. Hot chocolate provided. To reserve, call 580-626-4794 or email: fw2_rw_saltplains@fws.gov. Learn more about Salt Plains Refuge.

Enjoy a Winter Nature Film Series
Friday, January 7, and every other Friday through mid-March, 1:30 p.m.Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Come out of the cold and enjoy a series of fascinating nature films. The series runs every other Friday until March 18. Learn more about Assabet River Refuge.

Enjoy Scout Day
Saturday, January 8, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. — Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, ID
Take a hike! Make a nature craft! Earn a wildlife badge! Meet other scouts (girl scouts, boy scouts, cub scouts) and have fun. Scout Day is held October through May, usually on the first Saturday of each month. Registration required. To reserve, call 208-467-9278. Learn more about Deer Flat Refuge.

Take a Hike with a Refuge Ranger
Sunday, January 9, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join a refuge ranger for a walk of the refuge and learn about our local wildlife. Some binoculars and wildlife guides are available on loan. Meet in the visitor center at 680 Hudson Road, Sudbury, MA. Learn more about Assabet River Refuge.

Enjoy a Wildlife Lecture
Tuesday, January 11, 7 p.m. — Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, ID
Talks in the Wild about Life Lecture Series are held October through May, usually on the second Tuesday of the month. Learn more about Deer Flat Refuge.

Enjoy a Refuge Tour
Sunday, January 10, 11 a.m. to noon — Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join a winter hike to discover the history of Parker River and Plum Island. View the last private home on the refuge and learn how the refuge was established to protect habitat for wildlife. Space limited to 10 participants. Meet at refuge Parking Lot 1. Learn more about Parker River Refuge.

Join an Eagle Watch
Friday, January 14, and Saturday, January 15, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. — Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, OK
See event description for Friday, January 7, and Saturday, January 8. Learn more about Salt Plains Refuge.

Take an Eagle Tour
Fridays through the end of February, 8 a.m. and noon — Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, TN
Join small free tours along Grassy Island Wildlife Drive, and enjoy close-up views of two active bald eagle nesting sites. Look out over scenic Reelfoot Lake, where you may see coots, bald eagles and a variety of waterfowl. The tour will also stop at our Long Point unit, where thousands of geese and ducks congregate to feed. Dress warmly. Tours last about two hours. To reserve, call 731-538-2481. Call ahead to request loaner binoculars. Learn more about Reelfoot Refuge.

Take Part in a Homeschool Nature Program
Friday, January 22, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Introduce your homeschooler to the art and science of tracking wildlife. Children, ages 6 to 10, will become wildlife detectives and explore the clues animals leave behind. Program will include both indoor and outdoor activities. Learn more about Parker River Refuge.

Attend the Galt Winter Bird Festival
Saturday, January 29, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Celebrate wintering Central Valley migratory birds at the Galt Winter Bird Festival. The festival offers exhibits, workshops and tours to local refuges, including Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. To sign-up for a tour, visit the City of Galt websiteor call 209-366-7115.

Take Part in a Homeschool Nature Program
Saturday, January 30, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Introduce your homeschooler to the art and science of tracking wildlife. Children, ages 6 to 10, will become wildlife detectives and explore the clues animals leave behind. Program will include both indoor and outdoor activities. Learn more about Parker River Refuge.

Take a Hike with a Refuge Ranger
Sunday, January 30, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
See event description for Sunday, January 9. Learn more about Assabet River Refuge.

Attend Winterfest
Saturday, February 5, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, MN
Free activities focus on how wildlife and people deal with the snow and cold. Try out snowshoes. Enjoy exhibits, nature crafts, face painting, food, sleigh rides, a bonfire and wildlife presentations. Learn more about Sherburne Refuge.

Go on an Owl Prowl
Friday, February 18, 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Explore the fascinating world of owls in New England. Hear a talk on owl characteristics and identification of owls in Massachusetts. Then head out on refuge trails to locate some local owls by sight and sound. Bring a headlamp or flashlight. Reserve a space by 4 p.m. Thursday, February 17; only 30 spots available. To register, call 978-562-3527, ext. 115 or 117. Learn more about Assabet River Refuge.

See a complete list of refuge activities and special events.