Archive for June, 2011

Wendy Wu Tours Sells Fully Inclusive 16-day ‘Wonders of China’ Tour Priced from $3,690 with Air

June 30, 2011

Wendy Wu Tours is offering packages to China fully inclusive of air fare, that feature the iconic places © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Wendy Wu Toursis offering an opportunity to become immersed in the history and traditions of China with fully-inclusive 16-day “Wonders of China” tours. Wendy Wu Tour packages combine many of China’s top sites with special touches: at the Great Wall – access at entry points away from the crowds and vendors; a cruise on the panoramic Huangpu River, which links the historic Bund and futuristic Pudong areas of Shanghai; and entry into the Great Mosque in Xi’an’s lively Muslim Quarter, to name a few.

The fully-inclusive prices for each tour cover all costs, including round-trip air from NY or LAX, all meals, excursions, stellar accommodations, a full-time Wendy Wu Tours Manager escort – even the visa fee, processing and taxes. Pricing for “Wonders of China,” which has 32 departures between May 22 and Nov. 9, 2011, ranges from $3,690 to $4,390 per person, double.

Highlights include both the sites that all visitors to China must see – Shanghai’s breathtaking Yu Gardens and Old Town; Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall in Beijing; the Great Pandas at the Chongqing Zoo; and Xian’s Terracotta Warriors and Ancient City Wall – as well as some that are not included in the mass market tours: an exploration of the unique 1920’s style shikumen buildings in Shanghai’s restored Xintiandi area; and Beijing’s Summer Palace are examples.

Meals and excursions play an important role on the tour — whether it is authentic Shanghai cuisine; Peking Duck, artfully carved at tableside; a traditional Shui Jiao dumpling meal followed by a performance of Tang Dynasty Dancing; the Islamic food markets in the Muslim Quarter; or a fascinating Chinese Acrobatic show in Beijing.

Group Tours have a maximum of 28 persons, comfortably ensconced in 49-passenger coaches for most tours. Single supplements are available as well as sharing opportunities. A new 68-page full-color brochure has been produced highlighting the many offerings, and a new North American website has been unveiled to serve the consumers and travel agents: www.wendywuschina.com. Wendy Wu Tours also offers Private Tours — fully-inclusive but offering more flexibility and excellent for small groups, reunions, family groups, alumni groups or just friends looking to have a nice private vacation together in a mystical land.

The prices include all costs aside from gratuity. All international flights (from NYC and LAX), fuel surcharges, taxes, accommodations in centrally-located superior-three- and four-star hotels, three meals a day, intra-China transportation, daily tours and entrance fees, evening entertainment, English speaking guides, a Wendy Wu Tours Manager escort – even the $190 visa fee and processing.

Reservations, brochures and information can be obtained from travel agents and Wendy Wu Tours, telephone (877) 993-6399; web site: www.wendywuschina.com.

See also:

HANGZHOU: CHINA’S CITY OF ROMANCE
Marco Polo’s ‘City of Heaven’ As Alluring as Ever

and slideshow

HANGZHOU: ANCIENT & MODERN COME TOGETHER IN CHINA’S RESORT CITY
and slideshow

ZHEJIANG PROVINCE PRESENTS MICROCOSM OF CHINA, OLD & NEW
Region Was Cutting Edge, Even in Marco Polo’s Time

Adventure travel leader Gap Adventures offers discounts on tours exploring SE Asia, West Africa, Ecuador, Morocco & Costa Rica

June 30, 2011

Adventure travel leader Gap Adventures is offering discounts on tours exploring South East Asia, West Africa, Ecuador, Morocco & Costa Rica, but you need to book soon:

South East Asia (ATBH, AVRL, ATCM, ATPC): Book by July 12 and receive 15% off a variety of South East Asia 12 to 15-day excursions, exploring Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Experience contrasting landscapes and cultures, visiting temples, caves, waterfalls, markets, and more, with opportunities to enjoy homestays in Mekong or Don Khong. (Promo Code: SEASIA15A, Travel by December 31, 2011)

West Africa (DGGU, DGWA, DVVT): Book by July 12 and receive 15% off a selection of 13 to 29-day tours exploring the captivating region of West Africa. Get really off the beaten track as you witness authentic voodoo ceremonies, come face-to-face with witches, and experience the Tonga Oracle. The Ghana Untouched tour was recently selected as one of National Geographic Traveler’s Top Tours of a Lifetime (Promo Code: WESTAFRICA15A, Travel by December 31, 2011).

Costa Rica Quest (CRQ): Book by July 12 and receive 10% off this best-selling Gap Adventures trip. Soak in the warm waters of local hot springs surrounded by a tropical canopy, search for the elusive quetzal bird in the cloud forest, and watch the sun set over the Pacific during this action-packed, nine-day tour of Costa Rica’s highlights. This 9-day trip is perfect for adventurers with limited time who want to explore active volcanoes, follow a trail to the base of a waterfall, melt away in thermal springs or bliss out on a beach (Promo code: CRQ10A, Travel by December 31, 2011).

Highlights of Morocco (DCHM): Book by July 12 and receive 20% off this amazing 14-day journey from Casablanca to Marrakech. Hit Morocco’s highlights even if time’s a little tight. Wander through kasbahs, ancient medinas, spice markets, and cities pulsing with energy on this comprehensive trip. Climb onto a camel and explore the edge of the Sahara before admiring the views from the heights of the Atlas Mountains. Experience the energy of Imperial cities as you explore souks stuffed with exotic wares. Then take a moment to appreciate this amazing adventure as you camp under the stars among some of the world’s biggest sand dunes (Promo code: DCHM20A, Travel by December 31, 2011)

The Ecuador Experience (REE): Book by July 12 and receive 15% off Gap Adventures’ Ecuador Experience. For travelers who want to sample the region’s highlights without sacrificing some of its lesser-known gems, this adventure offers a great combination of must-see highlights and free time to explore. Travel from the Avenue of the Volcanoes to relaxing Pacific beaches and mountain hot springs in Ecuador. Visit the Amazon and a shaman for an incredible introduction to indigenous culture and witness lush jungles and exotic wildlife on this 18-day adventure in nature. Feel like a local during an Amazon homestay, and relax on Ecuador’s sun-kissed beaches (Promo code: REE15A, Travel by December 31, 2011).

About Gap Adventures

Gap Adventures is a world leader in the adventure travel industry offering small group adventures on all seven continents and beyond to more than 100,000 global travelers annually. The award-winning trips, which focus on culture, nature and active travel, are ideal for those with a sense of adventure – people who want to leave the beaten path and authentically immerse themselves in a local culture or environment to experience the real world in a sustainable manner. Demonstrating its ongoing cultural, social and economic commitment to responsible tourism, Gap Adventures established the Planeterra Foundation, as a way the company and its travelers can give back to the communities visited. For more information, visit www.gapadventures.com and www.planeterra.org.

For more travel features, visit

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

MSC Celebrates July 4 Savings with Special Pricing for Canada/New England, Caribbean Cruises

June 30, 2011

Departing from Fort Lauderdale, the elegant MSC Poesia takes guests on a variety of itineraries to some of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations and some not-so-often visited locales © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (June 30 2011)–Red, white, and blue rings in Independence Day on July 4, and MSC Cruises joins in the celebration by offering savings for one week on 4 to 14-night cruises beginning July 1.

Guests can book select MSC Cruises’ 2011-12 Caribbean and Canada/New England itineraries on MSC Poesia by July 8 for rates beginning at $499 for a 7-night cruise ($719 for a balcony stateroom) plus government fees and taxes. Receive up to a five-category upgrade plus a $100 per stateroom shipboard credit when booking a balcony stateroom.

This special July 4 pricing applies for the following 7 to 14-night Canada/New England cruises: Oct. 8 and 15 and these 4 to 7-night Caribbean cruises: Oct. 29 repositioning cruise from New York City to Ft. Lauderdale; Nov. 10, 14, and 19 (Baseball Greats); Dec. 30 (New Year’s Eve), Jan. 14 (Baseball Greats); and Feb. 18 (Baseball Greats).

Departing from Fort Lauderdale, the elegant MSC Poesia takes guests on a variety of itineraries to some of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations and some not-so-often visited locales. Cruise itineraries include destinations in the Eastern and Western Caribbean, including ports like San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Nassau, Bahamas; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Roatan Island, Honduras; Key West, Florida.

MSC Cruises’ Canada/New England itineraries featuring departures from New York City and Quebec City allow guests to visit the magnificent fall foliage, history-laden ports and big city bright lights, with calls in such locations as Newport, Rhode Island; Quebec City; New York City; Boston, Massachusetts; Bar Harbor, Maine; Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada; Sydney, Nova Scotia; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Rates are cruise only and subject to availability; government fees and taxes are additional.

For more information, visit www.MSCCruisesUSA.com or contact a local travel professional or MSC Cruises at 877-665-4655.

About MSC Cruises:

MSC Cruises is the fastest-growing cruise line with a fleet of 11 ships: MSC Magnifica, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica and MSC Melody. The fleet cruises year round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, US and Canada, South America, the Indian Ocean, and South and West Africa.

For more travel and cruise features, visit

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

Free Disney Ticket is Feature of Summer Package at Two Hilton Hotels in Orlando

June 30, 2011

Families can get a free Disney ticket with a two-night stay at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, through September 9 © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Two Hilton hotels in  Orlando – the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando – are offering special deals for families this summer – even a free Disney ticket

  •  SummerBlast! at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek (through Sept. 9) — a summer-long program filled with special events, like Radio Disney pool parties, DUCKTONA 500 rubber duck races in our lazy river, and other recreational activities. Most notably, it is providing a free Disney ticket for every two nights booked.  Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is located inside the gates of Walt Disney World® Resort. This new resort is filled with amazing amenities, including a lazy river pool, an award-winning golf course, a luxurious Spa by Guerlain and popular dining options.  To make a reservation, visit http://www.hiltonbonnetcreek.com/summer, or call 888-353-2013.
  • Enchanted Evenings at Waldorf Astoria Orlando (through Sept. 9) – a summer-long program filled with special events, like Martini Madness, WeirdScience Ice Cream social, Twilight Golf, spa happy hour specials and other recreational activities. Here, too, for every two nights booked at Waldorf Astoria Orlando, you get a Free Disney ticket. Waldorf Astoria Orlando is newest luxury resort, conveniently accessed inside the gates of Walt Disney World® Resort. Resort amenities include a zero entry pool, a separate private pool with cabanas, an awarding winning golf course, a luxurious Spa by Guerlain and popular dining options. To make a reservation, visit http://www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com, or call 888-353-2009.

See also:

Disney Still Has That Magic

Inside Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and slideshow

Springfield MO Hosts First Annual ‘Birthplace of Route 66’ Festival, Aug 13

June 30, 2011

Springfield, Mo. – The West Central Neighborhood Alliance is planning the first annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Mo.

The festival is set for noon-8 p.m. Aug. 13 on College Street west of Grant Avenue. Activities include live music, food, activities for kids, interpretive history, a classic car show and more.

On April 30, 1926, officials first proposed the name of Route 66, the new Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway that became one of the most famous roads in America. People from around the world seeking a unique look at American culture still travel the route even though it was officially removed from the U.S. highway system in 1985. Many portions of “The Mother Road” are still visible in Springfield, along with other sites and sights that were at their heyday when Route 66 was the main east-west route through the country.

“It is important that people realize the significance of Route 66 in the history of the city and the country, and that it was born here,” said David Eslick, a member of the Route 66 Association of Missouri and co-chair of the festival. “This festival will be a fun way to achieve that recognition.”

The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival is designed to celebrate and remember the role Springfield played in the Route 66 era. College Street, where the festival will take place, is on the original Route 66 byway.

Partnering with the festival will be Mother’s Brewing (Springfield’s newest craft brewery) and Bud’s Tire & Wheel (established in 1958 to distribute custom wheels to its Route 66 customers). More than 3,000 people visited Mother’s “Backyard” to celebrate its grand opening in May and raise money for Joplin tornado relief.

Tickets for the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival are $3 in advance at Machino’s, 1715 S. Campbell Ave., and Urban Districts Alliance, 304 W. McDaniel St. Cost at the gate is $5. Children 5 and younger are free.

For more information about the festival, call Urban Districts Alliance at 417-831-6200.

For more information about Springfield, visit www.SpringfieldAdventures.com or call the Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-678-8767.

For more travel features, visit

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

Lighthouse Bay Resort, Barbuda, offers ‘All in the Family Together Reunion’ Package on Private Island

June 24, 2011

CODRINGTON, Barbuda –

Family and friends looking for the ultimate private vacation escape will enjoy the getaway of a lifetime at Lighthouse Bay Resort (www.LighthouseBayResort.com) in Barbuda with the seven-day/six-night “All in the Family Together Reunion.”  Privacy is paramount with only nine suites allowing groups of up to 20 people to virtually “own” a private island for a week with luxurious accommodations, superior service and 17 miles of pristine pink sand beach.

The seven-day/six-night “All in the Family Together Reunion” package includes the entire island buyout of Lighthouse Bay Resort which features nine suites, all meals and drinks, and use of a private fresh water pool.  In-room amenities include: flat screen satellite televisions, iPod alarm clock CD players, complimentary international telephone calls, personal laptops and iPads for guests’ use while on property, and Wi-Fi Internet connection.  For added convenience, complimentary laundry service is available for all guests.

Other highlights of this package include the following for all members of the group (except where noted):

  • Day charter complete with lunch, snorkel and sail gear
  • One hour of horseback riding
  • Group cooking class with Chef Lennox
  • Beach BBQ and bonfire
  • Personal photographer and commemorative album with photos

 

The “All in the Family Together Reunion” package is available through Aug. 31, 2011 and Nov. 1 – Dec. 17, 2011 with all-inclusive package rates starting at $114,999 for up to 20 people.  Transfers to the resort can be arranged for an additional cost to the package.

Exclusivity and seclusion take on new heights at Barbuda’s five-star Lighthouse Bay Resort.  Situated on its own private island upon a narrow stretch of land between 17 miles of unspoiled pink sand beach and the clear turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea to the front and the blue-green serenity of the Codrington Lagoon to the rear, privacy is guaranteed as the property is only accessible via S.V.G. (St. Vincent and The Grenadines) Airlines or helicopter.  With only nine beautifully appointed suites, guests enjoy unparalleled pampering and comfort with virtually no interruptions.

Gastronomic pleasures are unrivaled at Lighthouse Bay as fresh, innovative cuisine and personalized daily menus include homemade breads and pastas, seafood and seasonal foods, all combined by the resort’s highly-trained executive chef to create a truly inspired dining experience at each meal.

Lighthouse Bay’s location on a private island is ideal for relaxing and renewing at the beach or by the freshwater pool while taking in the spectacular scenery.  Guests who want to venture off-property can visit the world’s largest frigate bird sanctuary or enjoy sailing, fishing, horseback riding and other active pursuits arranged by the hotel staff.

For more information about Lighthouse Bay, call 1-888-214-8552 or 1-646-688-2903 or contact the resort’s USA Representative, Wendy Friese, at 212-616-5032, visit www.LightHouseBayResort.com and www.facebook.com/lighthousebayresort, or e-mail: info@lighthousebarbuda.com.

 For more destination features, see:

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

 

Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel Ranked Among Top 10 Hotels in the U.S. by US News

June 24, 2011

The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville's historic grand hotel, was named by U.S. News named number six on its Best Hotels in the U.S. list, making it the only hotel located in the Southeast in the top 10 © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville’s historic grand hotel, was named by U.S. News named number six on its Best Hotels in the U.S. list, making it the only hotel located in the Southeast in the top 10.

After reviewing over 850 hotels in various destinations throughout the United States, U.S. News released this list of the top 10 percent, which has a total of 86 Best U.S. Hotels.

With the “Best Hotels” list in its inaugural year, the U.S. News team used a variety of criteria to review the hotels that made the list. According to U.S. News, “With an unbiased methodology, U.S. News evaluated close to 1,000 luxury hotels across 49 major U.S. destinations, analyzing ratings and awards from travel experts as well as user ratings. The result: rankings of the best hotels in each of those destinations.” The “Best Hotels” list will be updated annually. Additional information about The Hermitage Hotel’s ranking can be found on the U.S. News Travel Guide website here: http://tinyurl.com/3bppmfp

“It is a credit to the efforts of our tremendous staff that we continue to receive such distinctions as the U.S. News Best U.S. Hotels ranking,” said Greg Sligh, The Hermitage Hotel’s managing director. “Our guests consistently tell us that what separates and elevates their experience here is the genuinely friendly treatment they receive from our team members. They each feel like a valued family member.”

Other hotels on the Top 10 list include: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, Trump International Hotel & Tower, New York, Four Seasons Hotel, Las Vegas, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Central Park, New York, The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, and Elysian Hotel, Chicago.

In addition to the U.S. News Ranking, The Hermitage Hotel remains the only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Award winning hotel in the state of Tennessee and in five of the eight contiguous states.

About The Hermitage Hotel and the Capitol Grille

Opened in 1910, The Hermitage Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America, has been woven into the history and memories of Nashville and her residents for over 100 years. In keeping with a deep respect for Nashville and the state of Tennessee, The Hermitage Hotel is committed to preserving the region’s heritage by putting into practice the traditions that make hospitality synonymous with The South.

This commitment extends to protecting the state’s historic and scenic landscapes through a relationship with The Land Trust for Tennessee. This relationship began in 2008 when a program was created in which guests may donate $2 for every night they stay in the hotel. To date guests have donated over $150,000.

The relationship was furthered in 2010 when the Trust graciously allowed the Capitol Grille to create a substantial period garden using sustainable practices on the property at Glen Leven. Glen Leven is an historic 66 acre farm located just 5 miles from The Hermitage Hotel and owned by the Land Trust for Tennessee. The Hermitage Hotel is the only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel in Tennessee and five contiguous states.

The commitment to preservation continues in the hotel’s Capitol Grille and Oak Bar. Relaxed, low key, and known as the place for Nashvillians “in the know”, the Capitol Grille is the best example of a regionally inspired southern steakhouse in Nashville. Chef Tyler Brown has found the best source for heritage breed beef which now graze on the grasses at Glen Leven. The farm at Glen Leven also provides the vegetables that are used in all seasonally planned dishes. Chef Brown is actively involved with Share Our Strength, an organization whose mission is to end childhood hunger by 2015, and the Chef’s Move to Schools program, an offshoot of the Let’s Move program. Also, by supporting the Southern Foodways Alliance, the team at the Capitol Grille works to assure that the recipes and methods passed from generation to generation are not lost. The Capitol Grille is Nashville’s only Forbes Four Star and AAA Four Diamond restaurant.

The Hermitage Hotel is the most likely location in Nashville to find a Who’s Who of the entertainment world. Guests have included Tom Cruise, Jon Bon Jovi, Scarlett Johansson and the Jonas Brothers, among many others.

More information about the hotel can be found at: www.thehermitagehotel.com and www.facebook.com/#!/hermitagehotelnashville.

See also:

NASHVILLE’S RICH HERITAGE: Country Music’s Capital Shows Penchant for Classical

 

Idaho’s Top 10 Family Summer Adventures

June 24, 2011

In Idaho, a “family vacation” means a no-stress, low-cost adventure that parents and kids of all ages will never forget. When planning your family’s trip to the Gem State, consider incorporating a couple of the top-10 family-friendly adventures into your itinerary. Fun times will follow.

1.  Bike the Hiawatha Trail – In northern Idaho, the Route of the Hiawatha is a 14 mile bike path along an old 1900’s railroad route. This trail takes riders through ten tunnels and across seven high trestles and across the Bitterroot Mountains to the Idaho/Montana border. Families can rent bikes and bike trailers from the Lookout Pass Recreation Area, the operator of the trail. Day tickets are only $9 for adults and $6 for kids. Taking snacks or a picnic is a good idea for keeping the energy levels up.  (Check out this video for a glimpse of what the Route of the Hiawatha has to offer!)

2. Learn to Cast Your Own Line – The Snake River runs throughout Idaho and some of the best fly-fishing in the world is in the Ketchum and Sun Valley area. Local outfitters like the Silver Creek Outfitters offer highly customized, guided trips, usually for two people – the perfect father and son outing.

3. Learn to Ice Skate in the Summer – Central Idaho is home to Sun Valley, the tucked-away Idaho resort town that’s famous for being the first destination ski resort-in the nation. But Sun Valley is a blast in the summer too. Against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, kids can learn to ice skate on the Sun Valley Resort’s outdoor ice skating rink. Or watch Olympic medalists and world-class figure skaters perform on Saturday nights, July 2 through September 3 during the Sun Valley Summer Ice Shows.

4. Explore Craters of the Moon – East of Sun Valley, the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve is a sprawling 750,000 acres of lava flows. Kids can pick up a copy of the Lunar Ranger booklet at the visitor center, complete its activities throughout the day and earn a Lunar Ranger badge. Craters of the Moon National Monument is an endless playground that will fuel kids’ imaginations and give them plenty of rare geography to explore. Video:

5. Ride a horse in the Wild West – Saddle up! Many Idaho outfitters and guest ranches offer horseback riding lessons and trail ride experiences. Lewis & Clark Adventures of Gibbonsville, in central Idaho, takes families on horseback and rafting tours along the same route that Lewis and Clark traveled with Sacajawea. This trip pairs adventure and education as kids and parents learn about the land and the history of the pioneers who explored it.

6. Actually, DO Feed the Bears – Visit Yellowstone Bear World in Rexburg, Idaho for some up-close and personal interaction with the wild. Here, visitors can bottle feed bear cubs with the assistance of professional keepers. Curator tours take visitors through the park in a secure,  open-top vehicle. Rocky Mountain elk, bison, moose, wolves and bears are just a few of the wild animals that roam the park. Video: www.greatidahogetaway.org

7. Ride Whitewater Like a Pro – Idaho has more miles of whitewater than any other state in the contiguous U.S. The Idaho Whitewater Guide is an online resource for family-friendly trips and outfitters that can get you in the raft and on the river.

8. Float the Boise River – A pleasant surprise smack in the middle of Idaho’s capital city, the Boise River runs right through downtown. A favorite summertime activity for locals and out-of-towners is to float this pristine, crystal clear river. Epley’s, a local outfitter, rents rafts and tubes and offers shuttle services that take rafters between the put-in and take-out locations. Alcohol is prohibited on the river, allowing for a family-friendly environment.

9. Bruneau Dunes State Park – Climb up, slide down, and run around.  At 470 feet, Bruneau Dunes has the tallest single-structure sand dune in North America. The dunes offer countless physical, fun challenges and endless exploration.  The small lakes at the base of the dunes are fun for frolicking and fishing.  And if you camp for a night, don’t miss the chance to see the stars from the Bruneau Observatory located right in the park.

10. Take a Dip in Nature’s Hot Tubs – Idaho has more natural hot springs than any other state. Often, getting to the hot springs is half the adventure. Near McCall, the Burgdorf Hot Springs are located around the old town site of Burgdorf, which was settled in 1870 and is now considered a ghost town.  Families can rent cabins and stay for the night, soak in the hot springs and explore the wide-open natural surroundings. Better known, the town of Lava Hot Springs earned its name from the local hot springs where Indian tribes gathered for centuries. Today visitors enjoy the odor-free mineral pools and an indoor mineral spring swimming pool with family recreational facilities like a poolside climbing wall.

For additional ideas on how to have an active, inexpensive, adventure-filled family vacation, visit www.greatidahogetaway.org or www.visitidaho.org.

See more travel features at:

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

St Lucia’s New State-of-the-Art Attraction, Our Planet Centre, Promotes Environmental Conservation

June 24, 2011

Our Planet Centre entrance with hologram globe

Saint Lucia recently unveiled a new state-of-the-art visitor attraction, Our Planet Centre, designed to engage visitors on environmental conservation in a fun, interactive way through the use of new wave technology.  Opened June 2011, the multi-million dollar Our Planet Centre will donate all proceeds to local environmental projects on island.

“Our Planet Centre seeks to promote awareness of conserving the earth’s environment and we believe that Saint Lucia, with its unspoiled beauty and unique variety of species, is the ideal place to start leading our conservation efforts,” said Sarah Adams, Executive Director of Our Planet Centre.

Utilizing cutting edge technology, Our Planet features the largest mirror-sphere in the world, producing a giant kaleidoscopic display for video screening; a hologram recorded specifically for Saint Lucia by Prince Charles; multiple touch screen displays; a simulation hurricane room; as well as a “NASA Room” designed specifically by the NASA team to stream weather information.  Visitors will have the experience of learning more about the island of Saint Lucia with an interactive floor about endangered species of Saint Lucia and even the wonder of viewing the never-before-seen Castries harbor through a snowstorm with the use of snow machines.

“As the first center of its kind in the Caribbean, Saint Lucia wholeheartedly welcomes the opportunity to educate our community and visitors on the necessity of environmental conservation to preserve our island’s natural beauty, from the coral reefs to the rainforest and the UNESCO World Heritage Pitons,” said Louis Lewis, the Director of Tourism for the Saint Lucia Tourist Board.  “We look forward to being a model for other centers of this kind to open worldwide.”

The attraction is funded primarily by the German Government with support from other corporations including Marks & Spencer, Hilton Group of Hotels, and the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA).

Our Planet Centre is conveniently located at La Place Carenage in the Castries harbor.

For more information about the island of Saint Lucia call 1-800-456-3984, or visit www.saintlucianow.com.

About Saint Lucia

One of the Windward Islands of the West Indies’ Lesser Antilles, Saint Lucia (pronounced Saint LOO-sha) is nestled halfway down the eastern Caribbean archipelago. The “Helen of the West Indies,” Saint Lucia is known for its natural beauty and diverse attractions, including the signature Piton Mountains – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – a tropical rainforest and one of the world’s few drive-in volcanoes. Culturally rich offerings include the bustling marketplace in the capital of Castries, quaint fishing villages along the coastline, and the annual Saint Lucia Jazz festival. Saint Lucia’s wide range of accommodations includes world-class five-star resorts, all-inclusive resorts, intimate inns and value-oriented properties.

For more travel articles, visit:

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

Marking 1st Anniversary of ‘Wizarding World,’ Universal Orlando Lets Guests Share their Memory and Have Chance to Win a Trip

June 24, 2011

On Saturday, June 18, Universal Orlando celebrated the one-year anniversary of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. To cap off the celebration, Universal launched a “Share Your Story” tab on its official Facebook page where guests can share their favorite memories – or the memories they hope to make – of the most spectacularly themed environment ever created © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

On Saturday, June 18, Universal Orlando Resort celebrated the one-year anniversary of the most spectacularly themed entertainment environment – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where the wonder, excitement and adventures of the Harry Potter books and films come to life.

Universal Orlando commemorated the anniversary at 9:23 a.m. – the exact time The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened on June 18, 2010.  After taking part in a countdown led by the Hogwarts Express conductor, guests and team members celebrated in the streets of Hogsmeade while “snow” confetti and gold streamers fell from the sky.  Guests also enjoyed complimentary Butterbeer, cauldron cakes and Chocolate Frogs.

“We’re so excited to celebrate this milestone with our guests,” said Bill Davis, president of Universal Orlando Resort.  “It’s been an incredible year for us and our guests, and we look forward to creating more exciting memories with them in the years to come.”

Universal Orlando also created a virtual celebration by launching a new “Share Your Story” tab on its official Facebook page.  The all-new tab gives fans the opportunity to interact with one another and share favorite memories and photos from their visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – whether it’s tasting Butterbeer for the first time, watching their daughter as she’s selected by the perfect wand or soaring above Hogwarts with their family.

Every U.S. resident who shares their story will automatically be entered to win a VIP trip to Universal Orlando Resort this fall. Now through July 15, Universal will give away two VIP trips each week – one to a guest who has experienced The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and one to someone that has never been.

If fans have not been able to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they can share why they aspire to on the “Share Your Story” tab as well.  U.S. residents who share their stories on the tab will be automatically entered into a contest where they can win a trip to Universal Orlando Resort this fall.  To take part in the virtual celebration, share their stories or read other fans’ stories, guests should visit www.Facebook.com/UniversalOrlandoResort.

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter features multiple themed attractions, shops and a restaurant – all faithful to the films.

For more information about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.universalorlando.com.

See also:

Inside Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and slideshow

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