Archive for March, 2014

Meritage Resort & Spa Celebrates Napa Valley’s Arts in April with ”Meritage Masterpiece Art of Relaxation’ Package

March 26, 2014
The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California, is offering its 'Meritage Masterpiece: The Art of Relaxation' package in conjunction with Napa Valley’s Arts in April.

The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California, is offering its ‘Meritage Masterpiece: The Art of Relaxation’ package in conjunction with Napa Valley’s Arts in April.

The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California, is embracing all that the Napa Valley has to offer by creating a true “Meritage Masterpiece” with The Art of Relaxation package. The package is being re-launched in coordination with Napa Valley’s Arts in April.

The Art of Relaxation package allows guests to dream big and paint their own masterpiece. Easels, canvas, paints and brushes, for two, are provided at check-in along with overnight hotel accommodations in a superior guest room or suite and multiple spa treatments. Experiencing The Meritage Resort and Spa goes well beyond its plush guest rooms. With nightly turndown service, a bottle of sparkling wine and a Spa Terra Welcome Amenity, guests will leave feeling rejuvenated. After a day of walking through the resort’s hillside vineyards or lounging in a cabana by the adults-only pool, guests can relax with two 50-minute spa treatments at Spa Terra which are included in this package. Choosing from a Terra Massage or a European Facial, guests will find themselves in a spa that is truly in the heart of the earth: the Estate Cave at The Meritage Resort. The award-winning spa includes a variety of treatment rooms including couples treatment rooms, a serenity lounge, his and her private lounges with steam grottoes and whirlpools, all within the hushed atmosphere of this one-of-a-kind environment. (See additional information about the package.)

“The Art of Relaxation package and Napa Valley’s Arts in April are both designed to allow guests to experience the true beauty of the Napa Valley,” said Sheri Thomas, director of sales and marketing for The Meritage Resort and Spa. “This package gives guests the opportunity to create their own art and soak in the spectacular views that are all around them during their stay. From walking in our hillside vineyards to visiting one of the hundreds of wineries throughout the valley there are plenty of ‘paintable moments’ and opportunities to make ‘Meritage Masterpieces.’ The best part though rests in the relaxation with a signature massage or facial at Spa Terra located in the ‘heart of the earth’ in the resort’s Estate Cave.”

The Meritage Resort and Spa is a four-diamond Napa Valley luxury resort set against a hillside vineyard. A destination unto itself, it features 322 Tuscan-inspired guestrooms and luxury suites, seasonal farm-to-table cuisine at the Siena Restaurant and wine tasting in the Estate Cave featuring Trinitas Cellars. Regain a healthful balance with curative treatments at Spa Terra—a lavish underground spa with steam grottoes, soaking pools, treatment alcoves and tranquil walls of water. The resort boasts the most comprehensive event and meeting space in the wine country, including the two largest ballrooms in the Napa Valley, the Estate Cave and three covered terraces. Crush Ultra Lounge offers guests a chance to relax with a full bar, sports entertainment and six bowling lanes. Far more than a place for relaxation, our unique property is an Old World escape from the ordinary. The Meritage Resort and Spa experience is the perfect blend of gracious hospitality, unrivaled amenities and peerless personal care. The Meritage Resort and Spa, We are Napa. TheMeritageResort.com.

The Meritage Collection is a new life and style collection from Pacific Hospitality Group, which includes independent hotels, resorts, wineries and golf courses. The Meritage Collection offers exceptional travel and one-of-a-kind experiences in four of California’s most spectacular locations—La Jolla, Napa Valley, Newport Beach and Santa Barbara. These design-focused properties are stylish yet welcoming, with creative restaurants, relaxed lounges and inviting social spaces. Experience hospitality in a whole new light. For more information about the Meritage Collection, visit MeritageCollection.com.

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Historic Lord Baltimore Hotel Reopens After Total Restoration to Grandeur

March 26, 2014
The historic Lord Baltimore Hotel reopens after a complete renovation that has restored its grandeur.

The historic Lord Baltimore Hotel reopens after a complete renovation that has restored its grandeur.

The Lord Baltimore Hotel, one of the crowning architectural jewels of Baltimore, Md. when it was built in 1928, reopens with a grand ribbon cutting on March 27 after being completely restored and transformed by Rubell Hotels

Every surface has been touched by craftsmen, artisans, artists and designers to bring the hotel back to life.

The grand French Renaissance landmark, a member of Historic Hotels of America, features 23 stories comprised of 440 guest rooms and suites, more than 20.000 square feet of event space, several dining and lounging spaces, one of the city’s only rooftop event spaces, and more. The landmark hotel is included in the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.

Rubell Hotels, a family-owned business well known for transforming architecturally significant historic hotels into affordable cultural hubs, acquired the property in March 2013 and immediately began applying the vision of owners Mera, Don, Jason and Jennifer Rubell – combining their love of art and architecture with a bright, modern feel. Interior designer Scott Sanders, formerly the lead interior designer at Ralph Lauren, who specializes in distinctive residential and commercial interiors for notable clients and properties, spearheaded the design, which typifies his “New American Style.” Inspired equally by classic men’s haberdashery and the six historical Lords Baltimore, Sanders has used traditional menswear fabrics in unconventional ways, resulting in an interior that seamlessly combines a fresh, clean modern look with all the warmth and grandeur of a historical property.

“Since the first time I laid eyes on the Lord Baltimore Hotel, I knew that I had to become a part of this architectural gem that is such an important piece of Baltimore’s history,” said Mera Rubell of Rubell Hotels. “Over the past year, my family and I have become immersed in Baltimore’s art, culture and community and it feels like a perfect fit.”

Upon entering the grand lobby, guests feel as if they are in a “social living room,” complete with a massive gold Murano glass chandelier, towering glossy white columns and intimate groupings of mid-century inspired lounge seating. Complimentary high-speed internet is available throughout the hotel as are 50” high-definition televisions with 60 complimentary HD channels. The LB Tavern, just off of the lobby, is a communal gathering space where guests can enjoy cocktails in a library-like setting. Seven large, multi-colored Candida Höfer photographs of libraries of the world, on loan from the Rubell Family Collection’s museum in Miami, are featured throughout this space, and additional lounge seating gives this corner of the hotel a chic and sophisticated atmosphere.

440 guest rooms and suites feature dark wood tones with clean lines, contemporary art, velvet drapes and plush mattresses that leave guests feeling like they are in a luxurious loft. Every guest room includes complimentary high-speed internet, a television with 60 HD channels, refrigerator, coffee maker, digital safe and bedside charging station. Four penthouses overlook the Lord Baltimore’s two rooftop areas, which feature a panoramic view of downtown Baltimore. The rooftop gardens and penthouses are available for private events. Guests can also enjoy the new state of the art gym with a range of LifeFitness equipment.

In keeping with the history found in every nook and cranny of the hotel, the Lord Baltimore’s updated Calvert Ballroom highlights the space’s original scenic murals, crystal Baccarat chandeliers, and six balconies, which are symbolic of the six Lords Baltimore. Sanders added a chic modern layer to the event space by choosing layers of gold textured wallpaper, platinum gray linen wallpaper with glossy white trim and a swirling array of gray, black and gold carpet.

“The Lord Baltimore Hotel highlights everything that is special about Baltimore – history, cuisine, art and architecture,” said Gene-Michael Addis, general manager. “From our modern yet comfortable guest rooms and suites to our unmatched meeting spaces and sweeping views of downtown, the Lord Baltimore appeals to everything that a guest or visitor to Charm City could ask for.”

The Lord Baltimore Hotel features unparalleled dining options including its signature restaurant, French Kitchen, which offers classic French fare in contemporary preparations. Inspired by the familiar bright colors used in Matisse paintings, Sanders transformed the historic Versailles dining room using a bright, modern aesthetic. Additionally, guests can enjoy the LB Bakery, a contemporary take on a small-town American coffee house, featuring house-made breads, pastries, salads and sandwiches.

Art exhibitions are planned throughout the public spaces and will highlight local, national and global artwork. Additionally, the hotel will feature a signature gift shop, SideShow, an outpost of the American Visionary Art Museum’s museum shop.

The Rubell family – whose Rubell Family Collection in Miami is widely acknowledged as one of the top contemporary art museums in the world – is known for its talent in discovering emerging artists, emerging cities, architectural gems and emerging neighborhoods. The Rubells believe deeply that the key to the economic success of a city is dependent on its cultural relevance. They often invest deeply in areas they feel have strong cultural potential, and their transformation of the Lord Baltimore Hotel indicates the beginning of what is sure to be a long-term commitment to the cultural life of Baltimore.

On Thursday, March 27, the Lord Baltimore Hotel will hold an official ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m. featuring Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore City Councilman William Cole and other dignitaries.

The Lord Baltimore Hotel is located at 20 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD, 21201. More information can be found at www.lordbaltimorehotel.com.

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Victoria Cruises Celebrates 20th Anniversary with 2-for-1 Pricing on Yangtze China Cruises

March 25, 2014
Victoria Cruises is kicking off its 2014 Yangtze River sailing season with special 2-for-1 pricing on all private balcony superior staterooms on its acclaimed Three Gorges Highlights program.

Victoria Cruises is kicking off its 2014 Yangtze River sailing season with special 2-for-1 pricing on all private balcony superior staterooms on its acclaimed Three Gorges Highlights program.

Victoria Cruises (www.VictoriaCruises.com) is kicking off its 2014 Yangtze River sailing season with special 2-for-1 pricing on all private balcony superior staterooms on its acclaimed Three Gorges Highlights program in celebration of the New York-based pioneer’s 20th anniversary carrying Western passengers along China’s most popular cruise experience.

“A lot has changed since our first ship edged out of port in 1994,” said Larry Greenman, manager of public relations and customer service for Victoria Cruises. “The completion of the Three Gorges Dam, for example, has allowed us to build larger, more luxurious ships and venture into new territory with exciting, new excursions added to our program,” Greenman observed.

“We’ve also upgraded our five-star fleet and implemented technological enhancements to streamline operations for passengers’ convenience. In the culinary arena, we’ve added a la carte dining and continue improve our menus through our longstanding relationship with Celebrity Chef and Emmy award-winning host of PBS’s A Taste of History, Walter Staib,” noted Greenman.

“But while much has changed, one thing still remains constant after 20 years exceeding the expectation of discerning travelers – our knowledge and understanding of the Western passenger and our ability to cater to their specific needs with personalized service that is second to none,” said Greenman. “We remain the only American-managed company upholding Western Standards on the Yangtze River.”

Starting at $880 for the first passenger (second passenger is free when booked in conjunction with the 2-for-1 offer), Victoria Cruises’ most popular Three Gorges Highlights program is available in three- and four-night options (based on river direction) and encompasses views of centuries-old temples, pagodas and stone carvings nestled along the mist-shrouded Yangtze.

A standard shore excursion package is available for $90 for the first passenger (second package free with 2-for-1 promotion) and includes tours of the “Ghost City” of Fengdu and Three Gorges Dam as well as a scenic journey on a traditional sampan through Goddess Stream, surrounded by beautiful peaks and teeming with local wildlife from monkeys to mountain goats. Once just a brook, Goddess Stream is a recent addition to the excursion package made possible by the Three Gorges Dam, which raised the stream’s water level and extended its reach to the southern bank of the Yangtze, opposite Goddess Peak (Goddess Stream excursion may be substituted based on river conditions).

From an additional $200 per person (only charged to first guest with 2-for-1 promotion), passengers can upgrade to Victoria Cruises’ Executive Amenities Program featuring enhanced ship placement and a host of VIP additions including “white glove” service, access to exclusive ship areas, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access, enhanced dining privileges, shoe shine service and reserved seating for evening entertainment (must be reserved in advance).

For more information or to book, or for a list of tour operators which include the Yangtze River in their China programs, contact Victoria Cruises toll-free at 800-348-8084 or visit www.VictoriaCruises.com.

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CLIA Cruise Lines Offer Last-Minute Availability on Easter, Spring Break Sailings

March 25, 2014
Enjoy the thrilling zipline on Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island on Haiti's north coast © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Enjoy the thrilling zipline on Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private island on Haiti’s north coast © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Easter Bunny, parades, special Easter menus and egg decorating are just part of the festivities and family fun aboard select cruise ships exploring the world this April.

Here are cruises that are still available from the North American fleet of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) for Easter and Spring Break departures:

Follow the Easter Bunny

MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina has a 7-night departure leaving from Miami on April 19 visiting Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Road Town, Tortola; and Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas, with a variety of “Easter themed” activities. Kids “Easter hunt”, costume parades, Easter chef classes, chocolate Easter eggs and special Easter menus in the main restaurants make the week particularly festive. Seven-night departures from Miami on April 12 and April 26 visit Falmouth, Jamaica; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; Cozumel, Mexico, and the private island of Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas for other spring break options. An added plus, is that kids sail free year-round on MSC Cruises.

The Easter Bunny will pass out chocolates and will be available for photo ops on select Holland America Line’s April sailings. There will also be an Easter bonnet competition, egg decorating, a Jelly bean count and Easter mass. The Maasdam will sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale for an 11-day Southern Caribbean itinerary on April 11 with port stops in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Kingstown, St. Vincent; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-De-France, Martinique; Frederiksted; and the private island of Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. A 14-day Panama Canal sailing on Westerdam departing on April 15 travels from Fort Lauderdale, FL to San Diego, and will include Cartagena, Colombia; through the Panama Canal; with ports of call in Costa Rica and Mexico, ending in Cabo San Lucas. Also departing on April 15, the 11-day Adriatic Dream itinerary on Noordam departs from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, and includes the Strait of Messina, Italy; Greece and Croatia with an overnight and disembarkation in Venice, Italy.

Celebrate the Sun

Those who have suffered through the cold winter will be especially ready to celebrate spring in the sun. Disney Cruise Lines’ four ships will all be in the Caribbean this April. Disney sails from Port Canaveral with three options: a 3-night Bahamian cruise on April 18 on Disney Magic with stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island; a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on April 19 on Disney Fantasy with stops in St. Maarten, St. Thomas/St. John and Castaway Cay; and a 4-night Bahamian cruise with stops in Nassau and Castaway Cay on Disney Dream on April 20. Disney Wonder sails from Miami on April 18 on a 5 -night Western Caribbean itinerary with stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Norwegian Cruise Line is currently offering free Balcony upgrades, reduced deposits and e-coupons worth $300 on these Easter sailings: 7-night Mexican Rivera from Los Angeles on Norwegian Star on April 13; 7-night Western Caribbean from New Orleans on Norwegian Jewel on April 13; 3-night Bahamas from Miami on Norwegian Sky on April 18; 7-night Eastern Caribbean from Miami on Norwegian Getaway on April 19; 7-night Inter-Island Hawaii on Pride of America on April 19; 7-night Western Caribbean from Tampa on Norwegian Dawn on April 20; and 7-night Western Caribbean from Miami on Norwegian Epic on April 20.

Royal Caribbean International‘s Navigator of the Seas sails April 20 from Galveston, Texas, on a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary, calling at Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. Allure of the Seas sails April 20 from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on a 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary, calling at Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private island on Haiti’s north coast. Enchantment of the Seas sails April 18 from Port Canaveral on a 3-night Bahamas cruise, calling at Nassau and CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private Bahamian-island. Guests also can combine a cruise aboard Enchantment of the Seas with a 3- to 4-day stay at Universal Orlando Resorts, enjoying savings and inclusive Universal Express Unlimited ride access among many more theme park privileges.

Cultural Odyssey

Guests of Paul Gauguin Cruises’ m/s Paul Gauguin can combine sun with culture when they travel to Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands on a 14-day cruise departing April 12 from Papeete, Tahiti. They’ll experience a true glimpse of the Polynesia of the old including Bora Bora, Moorea, Taha’a (Motu Mahana), and Huahine.

Tauck River Cruising has limited space on its 10-day April 18 departure of “Belgium & Holland in Spring” aboard the ms Treasures. The itinerary begins with an included overnight in Brussels before embarkation in Maastricht and sailing to Amsterdam. Special experiences along the way include Keukenhof Gardens and the Rijksmuseum, a scenic Amsterdam canal boat cruise, the Netherlands American Cemetery, a culinary experience at Chateau Neercanne, chocolate and beer tastings, and a private dinner at and tour of the In Flanders Fields Museum to observe the WWI Centennial.

Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit departs April 19 on a 16-day repositioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona. Ports of call include Bermuda, the Azores, Malaga, Cartagena and Valencia. There is still availability on Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria during the 12-day Transatlantic Crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton, England on April 16.

Guests dine on Master Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s cuisine while sailing through Japan with Crystal Cruises during the 15-day “Skyscrapers & Shoguns” itinerary. Starting April 16, Crystal Symphony sails from Beijing to Tokyo, with a 3-day overnight land program in Beijing included, followed by visits to Shanghai (two nights docked locally), Nagasaki, Osaka (local overnight), Shimizu, and, finally, Tokyo (local overnight—a rare call for the cruise line.) The cruise is also available without the Beijing land program, and as a shorter 7- or 8-day “Getaway.”

For expert advice, travelers can turn to a CLIA Cruise Agent, who stays current on the latest offerings and trends and is an expert in helping clients selects a cruise of their dreams. To find a CLIA Cruise Agent or Agency in your area, visit www.cruising.org and click on Vacations and use our Cruise Expert Finder.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association with representation in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. CLIA represents the interests of cruise lines and travel agents before regulatory and legislative policy makers. CLIA is also engaged in travel agent training, research and marketing communications to promote the value and desirability of cruise holiday vacations with thousands of travel agency and travel agent members. CLIA’s Associate Member and Executive Partner program includes the industry’s leading providers of supplies and services that help cruise lines provide a safe, environmentally-friendly and enjoyable holiday vacation experience for millions of passengers every year. For more information on CLIA, the cruise industry, and CLIA-member cruise lines and travel agencies, visit http://www.cruising.org. CLIA can also be followed on the Cruise Lines International Association’s Facebook and Twitter fan pages, and CEO Christine Duffy can be followed @CLIACEO and cruising.org/ceoblog.

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Alys Beach, Florida Opens Ticket Sales for 7th Annual Digital Graffiti Festival, June 5-7

March 23, 2014

Tickets for the Seventh Annual Digital Graffiti Festival, Alys Beach, Florida’s signature annual event, to be held June 5–7, 2014 will be placed on sale on Monday, March 24, 2014.

During what has become a weekend extravaganza event, the community of Alys Beach located on Scenic Highway 30A on the Gulf of Mexico in Northwest Florida, opens its doors, courtyards, and pedestrian paths to groundbreaking digital artists from around the globe. At this innovative, one-of-a-kind live art exhibit, the iconic white walls of Alys Beach are transformed into “blank canvas” screens onto which various forms of newly created digital art is projected.

For 2014, the world’s first outdoor projection art festival has expanded adding a new offering on Thursday night — an exclusive behind-the-scenes, informative tour lead by DG 2014 Curator Brett Phares beginning at 8 p.m. Friday evening includes activities and a meet-and-greet gallery stroll featuring some of digital artist finalists, who will be on hand to answer questions and discuss their work on display. The excitement continues on Saturday with the live festival exhibit lighting up Alys Beach beginning at 8:30 p.m. and ending with the must-not-miss poolside party of the season at Caliza Pool, featuring music and video mixing by DJs and VJs, light bites and cash bars.

All access weekend passes are available for $200 per person and includes admission to the event on all three days, an official Digital Graffiti evet t-shirt and Tervis tumbler. Tickets for Friday night are $50 per person for adults and $20 for children (12 and under). Tickets for Saturday are $75 (for adults and children). VIP patron tickets are $100 and include an official Digital Graffiti t-shirt and a refillable Tervis tumbler. Proceeds to benefit The Alys Foundation, which supports select local charities.

Tickets are limited; pre-purchased tickets are highly encouraged. Tickets will be available for purchase online beginning March 24, 2014 at digitalgraffiti.com and in person at the Alys Beach Bike Shop, The Alys Shoppe and Fonville Press in Alys Beach. Digital Graffiti will be presented rain or shine.

Come for the festival and enjoy all South Walton has to offer all along Scenic Highway 30A. Luxurious multi-bedroom homes are available for vacation rental in Alys Beach. For details and rates visit alysbeach.com or call toll-free to 1(866) 732-9276.

Staging Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach gives artists a large-scale canvas to explore the intersections of art and architecture, while creating entirely new art forms. Once darkness falls on the weekend, the town will be set aglow as artists compete for  $10,000 in cash prizes. A panel of judges will select five award winners including Best of Show; Best in Florida; Curator’s Choice; and three Honorable Mentions.

In just a few short years Digital Graffiti has become irrevocably linked to Alys Beach. “Watching our beautiful, stark, white washed walls and roofs become completely transformed by the colorful and evocative swirling pieces of digital art is truly an inspiring experience, says town architect Marieanne Khoury-Vogt. “The projected vivid images that mold and melt against the backdrop of our sculptural architecture are fascinating to observe.”

 

One of the most beautiful new towns in the world, Alys Beach is located in Northwest Florida on Scenic Highway 30A, along what The New York Times said “May be the best beach in the continental U.S.” The resort town’s extraordinary architectural vision drew inspirations from both Bermuda and the family courtyard homes of Antigua, Guatemala. Alys Beach was founded in 2004. When complete, it will be home to 900 villas and courtyard homes, as well as restaurants, parks, shops and other resort lifestyle amenities. Alys Beach is the first Fortified…for Safer Living® community in the world, and all homes are built to Florida’s Green Home Designation Standard. For more information, visit alysbeach.com.

Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach is one of the world’s first outdoor projection art festivals. This innovative, one-of-a-kind dynamic event celebrates the many possibilities found at the intersection of art and architecture. During the three-night event, dozens of digital artist finalists from around the globe are invited to showcase their original work and vie for cash prize awards in a juried art competition. Utilizing the latest technologies, the finalists’ art is projected throughout the town on its iconic white walls.

Follow the event on Facebook, Twitter @Alysbeachfl, Instagram @Alysbeachfl and You Tube/AlysBeachFlorida. Join the conversation at #digitalgraffiti.

For information on Digitial Graffiti 2014 and an event overview video, visit digitalgraffiti.com.

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Belmond Charleston Place Hotel Offers Hands-on Master Craft Program to Learn Building Arts

March 23, 2014

Belmond Charleston Place Hotel is offering a  rare opportunity to experience the traditional building arts that make this city so special. The exclusive “Charleston Building Arts Package” includes a two night’s stay at Belmond Charleston Place with breakfast for two, a hands-on plaster lesson at American College of the Building Arts (ACBA) and admission for two to the Nathaniel-Russell House to see examples of plaster work and other building arts at their finest.

Guests will begin by touring the college, the only liberal arts college in the U.S. teaching traditional building arts. Participants will learn about each of the trades taught –plasterwork, masonry, stone carving, timber framing, ironworking and carpentry ­– and background on the college. Then, guests will join students for a rare opportunity to create plasterwork as it has been done for hundreds of years. World-renowned instructors will lead guests through making castings (pouring plaster into molds to create beautiful designs), creating and shaping intricate crown molding and even building a plaster souvenir.

Participants also get a “master class” by visiting a magnificent example of traditional Charleston architecture featuring numerous building arts at the Nathaniel-Russell House (51 Meeting St.). Here, guests can observe some of the finest examples of plasterwork, ironwork, carpentry and masonry.

The “Charleston Building Arts Package” is offered starting at $380 per night. Package includes a plaster lesson for one, admission to the Nathaniel-Russell House, two nights accommodation and breakfast for two daily. Additional ACBA sessions available.  ACBA plaster lessons are available Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. until April 17, 2014 (Fall package dates to be announced). To inquire or to book, contact 800-383-2335 or visit charlestonplace.com/build and use the promo code “build.”

The American College of the Building Arts is the only four-year liberal arts college in America educating and training artisans in the traditional building arts to foster exceptional craftsmanship. For more information, visit: buildingartscollege.us.

Belmond Charleston Place Hotel

Consistently ranked among the best hotels in the world by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure magazines, Belmond Charleston Place Hotel evokes the feeling of a grand, 17th century residence, from its lush personal suites to the Italian marble lobby with its signature Georgian Open Arm staircase and 12-foot crystal chandelier. The staff of the hotel is dedicated to indulging its guests with the finest in Southern hospitality, and has become the choice of celebrities, princes and politicians.  Guests can enjoy the hotel’s full service European-style spa and horizon-edge swimming pool with retractable glass roof. Belmond Charleston Place is centrally located, surrounded by historic homes and buildings, and within strolling distance of the city’s delightful shops, galleries and restaurants. To book, please call 800-383-2335, or for more information, visit www.charlestonplace.com.

Owned and operated by Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., Belmond is a global collection of exceptional hotel and luxury travel adventures in some of the world’s most inspiring and enriching destinations.  Established over 30 years ago with the acquisition of Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, its unique and distinctive portfolio now embraces 45 hotel, rail and river cruise experiences in many of the world’s most celebrated destinations.  From city landmarks to intimate resorts, the collection includes Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg; Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa, Riviera Maya; and Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara.  Belmond also encompasses safaris, six luxury tourist trains including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and three river cruises. Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. also operates ‘21’, one of New York’s most storied restaurants (belmond.com).

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USS Hornet Museum to Host Splashdown 45 Festival July 26 Featuring Famed Apollo 11 Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin

March 23, 2014

SAVE THE DATE – In celebration of the 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969, when humans first walked on the moon, the USS Hornet Museum will host Splashdown 45. This ever-popular festival, which also commemorates the daring, safe recovery of the astronauts and their command module by the aircraft carrier USS Hornet CVS-12, will take place Saturday, July 26, 2014 from 10:00am to 5:00pm, followed by an evening reception from 6:00pm -10:30 pm. All events will take place onboard the carrier at 707 W. Hornet Ave., Pier 3 in Alameda, CA. Special guest speakers include Apollo 11 astronaut and best-selling author, Buzz Aldrin, one of the first two men to walk on the moon. Aldrin will be available to sign copies of his acclaimed book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration. Festival guests will also have an opportunity to meet Aldrin and other significant guests during the USS Hornet Museum’s VIP cocktail reception and dinner in the evening. A press conference with Aldrin is being planned.

The aircraft carrier USS Hornet CVS-12 recovered the first two NASA missions that landed humans on the moon, Apollo 11 and Apollo 12. The ship is the largest surviving artifact from these events, which are acknowledged to be among the most important in human history. The USS Hornet Museum is now a registered state and national historic landmark and home of the largest collection of Apollo space mission artifacts on the West Coast.

“All visitors are welcome to join the USS Hornet Museum in commemorating one of the greatest technological achievements in human history,” said Randall Ramian, USS Hornet chief executive officer. “As we remember those significant events of the past, we will also look to the future of the U.S. space program. This includes the Museum’s commitment to educating future astronauts and aerospace scientists through our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and other youth education programs.”

While this year’s one-day event will again celebrate the various sciences and technologies connected with past space exploration programs – particularly Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo in the “space race to the moon” during the 1960’s – representatives from NASA and other private companies will also join Buzz Aldrin in discussing upcoming U.S. space exploration plans for missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond. In addition, numerous other Bay Area organizations will showcase important space-related artifacts and youth activities.

“We are pleased to announce that the USS Hornet Museum is once again bringing a world-famous ‘moonwalker’ to the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Bob Fish, Hornet Trustee, Apollo curator of the USS Hornet Museum, and author of Hornet Plus Three: The Story of the Apollo 11 Recovery. “Our Splashdown events have become nationally-recognized for our special guests, experts panels, and onboard activities. The USS Hornet Museum hosted over 3,500 guests for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 and we anticipate capacity crowds again this year.”

Other Splashdown 45 activities scheduled aboard the USS Hornet Museum – the Bay Area’s premier sea, air and space museum – include hands-on science activities, a portable planetarium, moon rock displays, specialized Apollo-themed tours, and interactive exhibits.

Proceeds from Splashdown 45 will help fund further development of the USS Hornet Museum’s community outreach activities, such as its youth education program, merit badges for Scout programs, and more.

The USS Hornet Museum, a popular tourist destination for families located in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to inspiring people of all ages. Through field trips and live-aboard experiences, the USS Hornet offers educational programs focusing on naval history, science and space technology. A registered state and national historic landmark, the ship is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and permanently berthed at 707 W. Hornet Ave., Pier 3 in Alameda, CA. Ample free parking is available across from the pier. The USS Hornet is also a unique, unforgettable venue available for corporate events; trade shows and expos; private parties and big band dances; and TV and film productions. For more information, ticket prices and event planning, visit:  http://www.uss-hornet.org or call (510) 521-8448.

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Junior Golfers 12-17 Golf Free at Magdalene Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Tobago

March 23, 2014
Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort in Tobago provides juniors aged 12-17 with free golfing, making it the perfect destination for families seeking to introduce their children to the sport or families who already play together.

Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort in Tobago provides juniors aged 12-17 with free golfing, making it the perfect destination for families seeking to introduce their children to the sport or families who already play together.

Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort in Tobago (www.MagdalenaGrand.com) provides juniors aged 12-17 with free golfing, making it the perfect destination for families seeking to introduce their children to the sport or families who already play together.  Junior golfers must be accompanied by an adult to pay for use of a cart (US$32).  A local golf pro is available upon request to offer lessons and the driving range and chipping greens are also available for use by juniors.

The Tobago Plantations Golf Course is a Par-72, 18-hole course woven into the landscape of Tobago Plantations Estate, a gated community of luxury villas, condos and bungalows.  The recent US$2 million refurbishment project, which was completed in December 2013, upgraded the course to Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) standards.  In addition to enhancements on the course, the resort purchased new golf carts, pro shop merchandise, and food and beverage equipment.

Opened in 2001, the golf course has been modified to utilize indigenous plants and increase the habitat diversity for wildlife.  There are characteristic pot bunkers sunk into the greensides and a Par 4 that heads out on the peninsula where the Atlantic Ocean breeze comes into play and golfers can enjoy panoramic views of Scarborough, the capital of Tobago.  The course played host to the 2004 Senior European Tour.

The Tobago Plantations Golf Course is a PGA-designed course created by Bob Hunt and Marcus Blackburn of PGA Golf Management Ltd., a design, development and management arm of the Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain and Ireland.  The course meets Championship standards and is a certified member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System, an environmental program offered by Audubon International.  In addition, the course has received certification for its environmental planning.

Adult golfers can hit the links at Tobago Plantations with the following daily rates and multi-day packages:

Nine holes for US$48 (daily rate)

18 holes for US$72 (daily rate)

Two-day, two 18-hole rounds for US136 per person

Four-day, four 18-hole rounds for US$260 per person

Seven-day, seven 18-hole rounds for US$432 per person

Six-day, 12 18-hole rounds for US$740 per couple

10-day, 20 18-hole rounds for US$1,160 per couple

Magdalena Grand guests can take lessons through the on-site golf academy with a half-hour lesson (US$50 per person), one-hour lesson (US$90 per person), nine-hole playing lesson (US$150 per person) and 18-hole playing lesson (US$270 per person).

Golfers can practice their short game on the pitching and putting greens while enhancing their swing at the driving range with small and large buckets of balls available for US$5 and US$10, respectively.

The club house, situated between the first and tenth tees, features a pro shop, club room lounge, shoes and club rental, changing rooms, classrooms and golf bag storage.  The club house restaurant – Fairways Bar & Grill – offers a comprehensive food and beverage menu.

For further details about golf package options, email golf@magdalenagrand.com, call 868-387-0288 or visit http://www.MagdalenaGrand.com.

Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort

Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort features 178 rooms with 22 one or two-bedroom suite combinations.  The spacious suites offer a private balcony, hot tub and parlor containing a pull-out sofa-bed.  The resort’s two-bedroom suites have a king-size and two double beds while the resort’s one-bedroom suites include the option of either one king-size or two double beds.

All of the resort’s beautifully appointed rooms feature spacious marble bathrooms with shower and tub; deluxe toiletries, bathrobes and slippers; pure cotton linens; central air conditioning; ceiling fan; iron and ironing board; salon hair dryer; mini refrigerator; coffee/tea maker; safe; high-definition flat screen IP televisions; complimentary wireless Internet access; and IP telephones.

Magdalena Grand features three swimming pools including an adults-only pool; Tobago Reef Masters Dive Center with its own training pool; daily guest activities program; day and nighttime tennis; bicycles; room service; concierge service; a business center; 24-hour fitness center; beauty and spa treatments at the Equilibrium Face & Body Clinic Ltd.; tour desk that can arrange off-property excursions; convenience store; gift shop; and secured parking.

Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort is a 15-minute drive from A.N.R. Robinson International Airport in Tobago and is situated on the Tobago Plantations Estate, a gated community of luxury villas, condos and bungalows.

For more information, call the resort directly at 1-868-660-8500 or toll-free from the U.S. at 1-866-353-6222. E-mail reservations@MagdalenaGrand.com for reservations.  Visit http://www.MagdalenaGrand.com,http://www.facebook.com/MagdalenaGrand and http://www.twitter.com/MagdalenaGrand.

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France Returns to Eurail Select Pass; Select Pass Re-launches as 4-Country Pass

March 7, 2014
France is rejoining the Eurail's Select Pass, making it a four-country Eurailpass © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

France is rejoining the Eurail’s Select Pass, making it a four-country Eurailpass © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Traveling in France with a Eurail Select Pass will be possible again from April 1, 2014. After a one year absence of France in the Select Pass offer, SNCF, the French rail operator, today announced their decision to rejoin Eurail’s revamped Select Pass.

“We are happy to welcome SNCF back to the Eurail Select Pass. France is a top tourist destination of strategic importance to the European rail network and, as such, of great significance to our Eurail Pass product. With France rejoining the Select Pass prior to the start of the high season, I have no doubt the Eurail Pass Portfolio will offer our overseas customers once again the most comprehensive way to explore Europe by rail,” says Silvia Görlach, Eurail Group’s Sales & Marketing Manager.

Revamped Eurail Select Pass

The Eurail Select Pass in its current format will cease to exist from April 1, 2014.  Instead of having the option to choose any three, four or five countries, the Eurail Select Pass re-launches as a Four-Country Pass only. Customers can tailor-make their own pass by selecting four out of 26 participating countries in which to travel, provided that they are directly connected by a participating Eurail railway or shipping line.

Three, Four and Five Country Select Passes in its current format will still be available for sale until March 31, 2014, not including France. Starting on April 1st, only Four Country Select Passes can be purchased, with France as one of the 26 Eurail countries to choose from.

Eurail Group offers four types of Eurail Passes as part of its product portfolio to those residing outside of Europe: the Eurail Global Pass valid in 24 member countries, the Eurail Select Pass, the Eurail Regional Pass and the Eurail One Country Pass. The Eurail Global Pass continues to be the most popular pass in the Eurail portfolio. It covers nearly the entire European continent and gives travelers the largest variety of countries to choose from. Travelers can still take advantage of the special Eurail “Early Bird” promotion which offers non-European residents free travel days on Eurail Global Passes purchased by March 31, 2014.

Eurail Passes are available from a worldwide network of Authorized General Sales Agents. Visit www.eurailgroup.org/eurail-vendors.

Eurail Group G.I.E., the organization dedicated to the marketing and management of the Eurail Passes, is wholly owned by over 30 participating railways and shipping companies. In addition, Eurail Group has many benefit partners, including hotels, transport companies and museums, which offer their services either at a reduced rate or free of charge to rail pass holders.

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Join Conservation Efforts for Endangered Cheetah in Serengeti at Four Seasons Safari Lodge

March 7, 2014
The Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Serengeti, as a supporter of The Cheetah Watch Campaign run by the Serengeti Cheetah Project and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute enables its guests to participate in this important project.

The Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Serengeti, as a supporter of The Cheetah Watch Campaign run by the Serengeti Cheetah Project and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute enables its guests to participate in this important project.

Imagine being able to contribute to conservation efforts to track and identify endangered cheetah in the Serengeti.

The Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Serengeti, as a supporter of The Cheetah Watch Campaign run by the Serengeti Cheetah Project and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute enables its guests to participate in this important project.

The Cheetah Watch Campaign aims to involve visitors in the monitoring and conservation of cheetahs, whose numbers are slowly declining due to poaching and loss of habitat. Visitors to the Serengeti are encouraged to submit their cheetah photos and, with the help of their guide, notes on location and behavior to the Project.

The Project’s 30-year study of these endangered cats has resulted in much of what we know today and developed our understanding of these majestic creatures.

Through its Discovery Centre, the Lodge encourages its guests to load their cheetah photos onto its iMac, which are then sent to the Cheetah Project, which uses each cheetah’s unique spot pattern to identify the individuals that were sighted and then send the guests a brief history of that cheetah.

Since starting the Campaign at the Lodge in late 2013, guests have submitted more than 30 cheetah sightings, resulting in the identification of 10 new individual cheetahs to the Project.

“At the Discovery Centre, guests are able to contribute to this essential research, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of cheetah ecology,” Discovery Centre Manager Oli Dreike says. “The Cheetah Watch Campaign plays a vital role in helping researchers to understand and conserve these beautiful cats, and it is really easy for guests to take part in if they are lucky enough to see cheetahs during their stay in the Serengeti. It’s incredible that our guests have helped to identify so many new individuals for the Project in such a short period.”

Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti

The 77-room Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti opened in December 2012 and is particularly well-suited for first-time safari travelers, extended families and groups. It includes 12 suites with plunge pools, five free-standing villas with private swimming pools, a spa with six treatment pavilions, three restaurants, a Kijana Klub for kids and teens and meeting facilities. Two active watering holes on the property allow for magnificent animal viewing at peak times of day and every room has an elevated open-air sundeck providing direct views over the Serengeti. Suitable for guests of eight years and above, Four Seasons Safari Lodge is also home to its own Discovery Center featuring museum quality exhibits and a lecture hall for guests to learn about the local wildlife, environment and culture. (For more information visit: www.fourseasons.com/serengeti; follow Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.)

Founded in 1960, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has followed a targeted course of expansion, opening hotels and residences in major city centers and desirable resort destinations around the world. Currently with 90 properties in 35 countries, and more than 50 projects under development, Four Seasons continues to lead the hospitality industry with innovative enhancements, making business travel easier and leisure travel more rewarding (www.fourseasons.com).

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