Archive for July, 2014

Passenger Group Calls on Airlines to Disclose Routes That Fly Over Conflict Zones

July 31, 2014

Following the missile strike that downed MH-17 as it flew over eastern Ukraine, FlyersRights.org, the largest US-based airline passenger organization, has called on all airlines to provide passengers on international flights with detailed route maps on their web sites, so passengers can decide whether to take such flights for themselves.

“Airlines should no longer be able hide behind weak and ambiguous international regulation and confidential warnings that are not shared with passengers,” Paul Hudson, the group’s president and longtime member of the FAA and TSA advisory committees on aviation safety and security stated.

“After the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, it came to light that governments and airlines had received specific warnings of a likely bombing, but chose to hide this knowledge from passengers and flight crews, those actually at risk. Now it has been revealed that some airlines were flying over eastern Ukraine despite danger warnings that were not shared with passengers.”

“Today despite known dangers and the MH 17 shoot down, passengers are not being informed of dangerous flights over or near numerous conflict zones with missile systems capable of shooting down commercial airliners at over 30,000 feet. Such areas in addition to Ukraine and Russia, include Syria, Iraq, Egypt-Sinai, Israel-Gaza, the China Sea, North Korea, Pakistan-Afghanistan. Other conflict areas are known to have anti-aircraft weapons capable of downing low flying aircraft including Libya, Yemen, and Mali.”

“An emergency meeting of the UN International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) is being held to discuss the situation, but passenger representatives have unfortunately again been excluded from meetings between airlines and regulators, as they were previously after the mysterious disappearance of another Malaysian airliner over the Indian Ocean.”

See: flyersrights.org

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Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Highest in Guest Satisfaction Among Economy/Budget Hotels

July 31, 2014

Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham®—part of Wyndham Hotel Group and parent company Wyndham Worldwide—once again has been ranked highest in guest satisfaction in the economy/budget segment by J.D. Power in the 2014 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.

Within its segment, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham ranked highest in six out seven factors measured by the study, including: reservations, check-in/check-out, guest rooms, hotel services, hotel facilities and cost and fees. This marks the 12th time in the last 13 years that Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham has been ranked highest in its segment by the study. It was previously ranked highest in its segment for 10 consecutive years between 2002 and 2011, and then again in 2013.

“Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham is a leader in the economy space thanks in large part to a focus on innovation, design and quality,” said Patrick Breen, brand senior vice president for Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham. “As a brand that regularly competes with hotels in not only in its own segment but with those in the segments above it, it’s a great honor to once again receive this distinction. My sincere gratitude goes out to our hotel owners and their staffs.  It’s their commitment to providing exceptional experiences that has allowed us to build such an enviable reputation over all these years and it’s their continued dedication that will allow us to keep raising the bar.”

With more than 310 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and the Philippines, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham is one of the few economy hotel chains that requires every hotel that joins its portfolio to be newly constructed, resulting in exceptional levels of both consistency and quality.

This summer, as part of its “Microcation” contest, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham is giving travelers the chance to win their dream getaway in the form of two million Wyndham Rewards® points. For official contest rules or to enter, visit www.facebook.com/microtel. Travelers can also save 20 percent off the best available rate when they book their own Microcation: three consecutive nights at any participating Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham hotel. For full terms and conditions or to make a reservation, visit www.microtelinn.com.

 

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4-Star Villa le Barone, Chianti, Italy, Features Wine-Tasting & Cooking Lessons

July 31, 2014
The charming 28-room hotel Villa le Barone is set amongst the timeless landscape of Chianti, and has been in the famous Della Robbia family since the 16th century.

The charming 28-room hotel Villa le Barone is set amongst the timeless landscape of Chianti, and has been in the famous Della Robbia family since the 16th century.

Villa le Barone, the four-star luxury hotel in Panzano, Chianti, in the heart of Italy’s scenic region of Tuscany, offers guests the chance to enjoy a day of wine tasting and cooking lessons while vacationing in one of the most glorious and scenic regions of Tuscany.

What better place to enjoy a Chianti wine than in Italy’s own Chianti Region? Villa le Barone offers a memorable “Gastronomia Toscana” (Enjoy Wines and Tuscan Gastronomy) package which includes a welcome bottle of Prosecco and fresh flowers in the guestroom, an itinerary with or without a driver to explore the Chianti region, a large buffet breakfast, Tuscan dinner and a complimentary bottle of Chianti Classico or a free bottle of local grown extra virgin olive oil (agroqualità) as well as an option to take a local cooking class.

“When Villa le Barone was a farm at the beginning of the 20th century, it produced Vin Santo, and the grapes were hung in what is now the Garden House,” explains Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, proprietor and descendent of the generation of family who have owned the historic hotel since the 1600s. “The traditional dessert wine possesses a beautiful amber color and touched with a lovely smell of dried fruit, apricot, honey and acacia flowers.”

“A good meal in Tuscany concludes with Vin Santo (Holy Wine) and Cantucci (sweet almond cookies) and is quite a treat,” adds Corso Aloisi de Larderel, co-proprietor of the 28-room historic villa. “Dinner under the chandeliers of our restaurant or on the terrace of our hotel is the right time to dip the cantucci into the Vin Santo in the Tuscan tradition.”

Set in the heart of Tuscany, between the historic cities of Siena and Florence, Chianti is noted for its wine, food, landscape, culture, and its inspiration for poets and painters, with its rolling hills of vineyards, olive trees, woods, farmhouses, and castles. Individual churches are surrounded by dark cypresses and impressive monuments throughout the quaint villages of the area.

From July 15- August 31, 2014 and October 1 – October 13, 2014, the Villa le Barone’s Gastronomy di Tuscany (Enjoy Wines and Tuscan Gastronomy package) ranges from €960 (approximately $US 1,305/$CA 1,340) for a classic room to €1160 (approximately $US 1,580/$CA 1,680) for a Historic Room or Junior Suite, for two people for three nights.

From September 1-30, 2014, prices range from €1000 (approximately $1,360) for a classic room, to €1210 (approximately $1,645) for a historic room or junior suite for two persons for three nights.

The cooking course is an additional €100 Euros (approximately $136) and includes two hours with a Tuscan cook, a souvenir apron and the meal that you have actually prepared to enjoy. Car and driver for a day trip through Chianti is an additional €380 (approximately $517).

Rich History

Villa Le Barone was built as a tower in the middle ages and was the seat of a Baronetcy, hence the name “Le Barone.” During the Renaissance, the tower was torn down and converted to a Villa, surrounded by its agricultural estate, where the renowned Della Robbia family spent summers.

After the World War I, Marchesa Maria Bianca Viviani Della Robbia managed Villa le Barone as a wine and olive oil estate. Maria Bianca was the granddaughter of François de Larderel, a French 18th century industrialist, who discovered and developed the use of geothermal energy in Tuscany.

Marie Bianca’s daughter, Duchess Franca Visconti, converted the Villa into a charming boutique hotel, keeping the refined and elegant atmosphere of a private house, while offering all the contemporary comforts and amenities.  Villa le Barone is now the property of Duchess Franca Visconti’s heirs, whom you will meet when you stay at Villa le Barone.

The charming 28-room hotel Villa le Barone is set amongst the timeless landscape of Chianti, and has been in the famous Della Robbia family since the 16th century. The swimming pool, tennis court, fitness trail, fitness room and terraces are set amongst large rose gardens, with views over the surrounding countryside, olive groves and the vineyards of Chianti Classico. In the old winery, the restaurant serves traditional Tuscan food and of course, the world-renowned local Chianti wines.

For more information about the “Gastronomia Toscana” (Enjoy Wines and Tuscan Gastronomy package) or to simply learn more about the local wines in the area, to book a reservation, or to learn more about the variety of recreational activities one can enjoy at Villa le Barone, visit www.villalebarone.com.

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TerraVelo Tours Announces High-End Luxury Camping, Cycling Trips in Utah, Wyoming, California; Families Too

July 24, 2014
For 2015, TerraVelo Tours is offering dedicated family tours in Wyoming and in California, welcoming children as young as 8.

For 2015, TerraVelo Tours is offering dedicated family tours in Wyoming and in California, welcoming children as young as 8.

TerraVelo Tours, offering fully-inclusive luxury mobile tent camping travel for both avid and casual cyclists has just announced 2015 seven-day itineraries, which expand beyond their initial Utah tours to add journeys through Wyoming and Northern California.

  • Wyoming Mountains, Geysers and Bison cycling tours include stops at Grand Teton National Park , Jackson, Yellowstone National Park including Old Faithful, Norris Geyser Basin, the Hot Springs Loop, the unique landscape of Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar River Valley. Tours depart late June-July, and early-mid September.
  • The California Oceans, Vineyards and Redwoods tours encompass stops at Point Reyes National Seashore, Santa Rosa, Sonoma , Napa, Armstrong National Redwoods Preserve, Salt Point State Park, sunrise yoga followed by a cycle through the Avenue of the (Redwood) Giants, and an optional ride up the “Lost Coast.” Departures are late May-June and August.

“TerraVelo Tours combines moveable luxury camping with an exhilarating cycling itinerary, suitable for cyclists of all levels,” states David Levine, co-founder of the luxury cycling tour company. “Our bicycle tours bring together a maximum of 12 guests for intimate dinners, amazing food and enlightening conversation, complemented by luxurious camping and amenities. Our guests are cared for by ten staff members, the highest ratio among bicycle tours.”

“Just get yourself to the airport, and we’ll take care of the rest,” adds Rebecca Martin, Levine’s partner and co-founder. “Airfare, excursions, a masseuse, even the toothpaste are included in the experience. A private chef and sous chef will accompany us, preparing all our meals and snacks during each seven-day adventure. Our accommodations every night will be in luxurious, elegant tents, adding to the beauty of the scenery while providing supremely comfortable shelter. This is unheard of in our cycling world!”

  • Guests will be outfitted with a rental carbon fiber specialized Roubaix Expert Ultegra or similar high-end carbon fiber road bike and helmet; those preferring to ride their own bike can simply bring it to their local bike shop where TerraVelo will have it shipped, delivered and assembled, ready to ride when the guest arrives, and shipped back to the bike shop upon departure.
  • Each of the luxury tents simulates an upscale hotel guestroom, outfitted with Tempur-Pedic mattresses; Frette linens; down comforters; rugs; furnishings from ABC Home & Carpet and Mitchell Gold +Bob Williams; Turkish bath towels; and Molton Brown toiletries and sundries.
  • Each night’s Camp will include: a full-time personal chef and sous chef who will prepare all meals; a dining tent; sunrise yoga; laundry service; evening entertainment including live music and campfire. On two evenings, a masseuse will provide 30-minute massages; on other nights, guests will enjoy educational sessions from a visiting astronomer and/or geologist who will share insights on the gorgeous night sky, landscape and vegetation.
  • A Lounge tent with a sofa, club chairs, board games including chess, backgammon, playing cards; books and a fully-stocked bar; shower and restroom facilities complete the mobile accommodations.

The 7-day tour packages include all food, beverage, accommodations, and roundtrip airfare from the Continental United States. These exhilarating itineraries are $7,850 per person, double occupancy, with guests’ choice of one King bed or two singles.

Family-Friendly Tours Attract All Generations

For 2015, TerraVelo Tours will host dedicated Family Tours in Wyoming and in California, welcoming children as young as 8.

“As a mother of two active children, I know what a joy it will be for parents – and grandparents – to watch their children explore the splendor of our national parks,” said Martin. “We will tailor activities to suit them, to assure a memorable experience for all ages.”

Parents and grandparents are encouraged to visit the TerraVelo Tours website and note the Family Focused tours scheduled in 2015, which feature designated children’s counselors; activities including movie night, cooking demonstrations and archery lessons for children and youngsters 8 to 15. Children’s rates are $5,850 with single bed accommodations in parents tents; youngsters 16 and over pay the adult rate.

TerraVelo Tours provides the busy professional, avid cyclist, and lover of breathtaking scenery, with an all-inclusive luxury camping escape with bicycling, horseback riding, massages and other amenities available to create life-long memorable experiences.

For more information or reservations visit www.TerraVeloTours.com or call 888-801-1446.

For more information, visit www.terravelotours.com.

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New Walking Tour Explores Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace

July 24, 2014

Context, organizer of critically acclaimed walking tours, expands its program in Vienna with Gilded Ambition: a Tour of Schönbrunn Palace, a walk within the spectacular interiors of the Habsburgs’ summer residence and a close consideration of the interwoven history of the Habsburg Monarchy.

Built at the end of the 17th century by Emperor Leopold I, Schönbrunn Palace is situated within an expanse of glorious gardens, and home to almost 1500 exquisitely preserved rooms, many of which are open to the public. The palace provides a unique platform for understanding a complex history, and exploring the lives and loves of a long line of Habsburg monarchs. Each room is adorned with ancient artwork and fine furnishings that reveal an intricate and compelling storyline about those who lived there.

Gilded Ambition guides visitors through the lives of successive Habsburg monarchs, uncovering narratives and provoking discussion and consideration of this hugely influential family. Led by a local expert, the 2.5-hour walking seminar goes beyond standard show-and-tell tours, to instill a deeper understanding of the complex narratives and geopolitical influences revealed by the palace and its interior.

The tour also connects the past with the present, revealing how the Habsburgs’ legacy, as manifest in Schönbrunn Palace, continues to speak to modern day Vienna, its culture, its people and their outlook.

“Schönbrunn Palace is Austria’s most popular tourist attraction, yet we wanted to create a unique way to experience it.” says Natalie Holmes, Context’s Central Europe manager and co-creator of the tour. “The tour joins the dots between this magnificent monument, its complex historical significance, and its modern-day legacy.”

Gilded Ambition: a Tour of Schönbrunn Palace lasts 2 1/2 hours and is available daily. Group walks cost €65 per person, plus €14.50 (adult), €8.50 (child 6-18) for palace entry. Private tours cost €280 per party. As with all Context walking seminars, groups are led by a credentialed expert and limited to six (6) people maximum.

Founded by National Geographic writer Paul Bennett and designer Lani Bevacqua, Context Travel, which is based in Philadelphia, is a network of English-speaking scholars and professionals, including art historians, writers, architects and gastronomes, who organize and lead walking seminars in twenty-four (24) world cities, including: Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Paris, London, Edinburgh, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., Istanbul, Athens, Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and Kyoto. A certified B Corporation, Context Travel was named one of the fastest growing American companies in 2011 by Inc Magazine. Travel + Leisure has called Context one of the top European tour companies for its innovative approach to travel and the depth of its programs. To learn more about Context, visit the website at: www.contexttravel.com.

See also:

On the Danube Bike Trail: Seeing Vienna by Bike and slideshow

Jewish Heritage Preserved in Vienna, Austria and slideshow

 

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Lark Hotels Opens Stylish, Hip 21 Broad on Nantucket

July 24, 2014
Lark Hotels' 21 Broad has just opened on Nantucket, bringing the hotelier's stylish touch to the island.

Lark Hotels’ 21 Broad has just opened on Nantucket, bringing the hotelier’s stylish touch to the island.

Lark Hotels expands its “designer hotel meets historic property” concept with the grand opening of Nantucket’s 21 Broad, which began welcoming guests July 19.

Boasting designs by Boston’s award-winning Rachel Reider Interiors, 21 Broad is a fully renovated, 27-room hotel located within a 1876 structure and just a minute’s walk from the Steamship Authority and iconic island restaurants.

21 Broad pampers guests with luxuries such as a steam and massage room, gluten free artisan pastries and eco-friendly vitamin C showers, which de-chlorinate the water and leave the skin silky smooth.

21 Broad, which is owned by Bruce A. Percelay, is Lark Hotel’s second collaboration with his Boston-based real estate development company and joins Percelay’s chic sister property 76 Main, which opened last summer and is the only hotel on tony Main Street in the heart of Nantucket town.

Like all Lark hotels, guestrooms and common areas at 21 Broad display a hip and stylish decor, which infuses the historic architecture with bold, yet playful designs. Interiors blend an “Urban meets Nantucket – Modern meets Broad Street” feel all the while keeping the integrity of its 1800s structure. Reider has created the designs for most of the Lark Hotels collection. Textures and colors at 21 Broad blend a “white on white” palette with pops of bold colors mixed with woods, large striking art pieces, earth toned linens and sea grass.

Guest amenities and services at 21 Broad include spa services, a guest lounge with games, turntable with vinyl collection, landscaped outdoor courtyard with fire pit, iPads and iPod docking stations with a white noise feature, 40” LED Smart TVs, in-room Keurig coffee makers and refrigerators, personalized concierge service, complimentary wireless internet, and guest discounts for online purchases at vineyard vines, the official outfitter of 21 Broad and all Lark Hotels.

Set in six coveted seaside locations – Kennebunkport and Portland, ME, Nantucket, MA, Portsmouth, NH and Newport and Narragansett, RI – Lark Hotels embrace the locations they are in, but in playful, unexpected ways. Think “sense of place” with imagination and a touch of mischief. Each Lark Hotel invites guests to experience modern luxury in the heart of an iconic destination, to feel the pull of a nostalgic getaway while surrounded by today’s amenities and to find attentive service when they want it and privacy when they don’t.

For additional information on 21 Broad, visit www.21broadhotel.com ;or call 508-228-4749.

For information on Lark Hotels and the “On a Lark Club,” visit www.larkhotels.com.

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/LarkHotels
Instagram: @larkhotels

 

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Southern Living Taste of Charleston & Charleston Restaurant Week Events Set for September

July 24, 2014

Charleston, SC, known for being a culinary mecca, is hosting two of the city’s most highly-anticipated culinary events this September.

Charleston Restaurant Week is set to take place from September 3-14, 2014. The city-wide event features nearly 150 casual and fine-dining restaurants offering specially-priced menus and offers. As the event draws nearer, more participating restaurants will be added and the September Restaurant Week menus will be added and updated. Reservations are strongly suggested where accepted. (Participating restaurants can be viewed on the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association’s website.)

The 34th annual Southern Living Taste of Charleston will take place September 26-28, 2014. The weekend features a variety of events including: Taste: Iron Chef, where local chefs compete at the Culinary Institute of Charleston at Palmer Campus in a heated head-to-head battle; Taste: Sweet & Southern, an upscale event on Historic Charleston Harbor at Harborside East; and Taste: The Main Event, a showcase of samplings from more than 50 local restaurants that takes place at picturesque Boone Hall Plantation. During the Main Event, guests will enjoy demonstrations and vignettes from Southern Living, live music, a children’s area, the legendary waiters’ race, and much more.

The Southern Living Taste of Charleston is a charity event and raises money for local charities including The Ronald McDonald House, Hollings Cancer Center, Hospitality Heroes, Shriners Hospitals for Children and Charleston County Schools Science Materials Resource Center. Tickets for all Taste of Charleston events are now on sale and can be purchased online through the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association’s website, or in person at the Downtown Charleston or Mt. Pleasant Visitor Centers, Boone Hall Farms or any Southcoast Community Bank.

The GCRA will host two more foodie events in January 2015. Charleston Restaurant Week will take place January 7-18, followed by the Lowcountry Oyster Festival coined the “World’s Largest Oyster Roast,” which will take place on January 25. For more information about these and other events orchestrated by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, visit CharlestonRestaurantAssociation.com.

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O.A.R.S. Pairs Wine, Gourmet Dining With Multi-Day Rafting Expeditions

July 24, 2014
O.A.R.S.’ Wine on the River Series pairs vineyards and gourmet presentations with multi-day rafting expeditions.

O.A.R.S.’ Wine on the River Series pairs vineyards and gourmet presentations with multi-day rafting expeditions.

Due to popular demand, veteran outfitter O.A.R.S. has announced a second departure of their six-day gourmet wine tasting trip on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River Sept. 5–10.

After selling out the company’s scheduled departure on Aug. 27, this brand-new trip combines world-class scenery and renowned whitewater with chef-prepared gourmet meals, award-winning Idaho wines from Ste. Chapelle Winery and blue-ribbon trout fishing.

Chef Eric Conte from Gnosh restaurant in Moscow, ID, will return for his second trip of the season with O.A.R.S. with a locally focused and seasonally minded menu. Conte is Idaho-raised and takes pride in using the ingredients and products that grow in his own backyard.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho is the flagship program in the company’s season-long Wine on the River Series. The per person price for this trip is $2,282 and includes a scenic flight to the river, six days of rafting and five nights of comfortable camping, professional river guides and fishing guides, all rafting and expedition equipment, dry bags for personal gear, fresh and healthy breakfasts and lunches plus chef-prepared gourmet dinners and an assortment of Idaho wines. The trip begins and ends in Salmon, ID.

Guests from San Diego wrote about their experience on this trip from last fall, “We booked the Wine on the River trip down the Middle Fork thinking it would be a little more relaxing (late-season water levels, wine tasting each night). Our expectations were exceeded in every way!”

They were blown away by entrees of grilled Idaho trout with wild blackberry/nectarine salsa, Rocky Mountain Elk steaks with zinfandel demi glaze and caramelized shallots and more complemented with appetizers, side dishes and desserts such as Dutch Oven apple crisp with cheddar cheese and crème anglaise.

“That the chefs were able to produce this kind of food in the middle of nowhere is astonishing to say the least, and we are pretty accomplished foodies. Five stars in every way!” they added.

Other Wine on the River trips pairing choice vintages with river adventure and remarkable cuisine include a three-day/two-night Aug. 12 departure on California’s Tuolumne River featuring Boyle MacDonald Wines and Chef Chip Roberts at $949 per person; and a five-day/four-night departure on Sept. 14 on Idaho’s Snake River through Hells Canyon (the deepest gorge in North America) with Foppiano Wines and Chef Aaron Woo. The per person rate is $1,695 and this trip also includes a scenic flight from Lewiston, ID, to Halfway, OR, with spectacular views of Hells Canyon below.

O.A.R.S. has been providing whitewater rafting vacations since 1969, handling some 500,000 guests. Over the decades, the company has set the standard in first-class rafting, sea kayaking and multi-sport adventure, with destinations and unparalleled experiences on over 35 rivers and coastlines around the world. O.A.R.S. caters to active travelers of all ages and abilities with more than 75 itineraries, including one-day and weekend escapes. In 2013, for the seventh consecutive year, Condé Nast Traveler recognized Mindy Gleason, O.A.R.S. Reservation Manager and International Adventure Travel Consultant, as Condé Nast Traveler’s standalone Top Travel Specialist in the River Rafting category. In 2013 Outside, America’s leading multimedia active-lifestyle brand, named O.A.R.S. one of the top two outfitters in the world in its annual Active Travel Awards recognition program.

 

For more information, availability, reservations and a copy of the 2014 O.A.R.S. Adventures catalog call 209-736-4677 or 800-346-6277, email info@oars.com, or visit: http://www.oars.com/.

Follow O.A.R.S.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/oars_rafting
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OARS.rafting
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/oarsweb
Blog: http://www.oars.com/blog/

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Spend Holidays in Italy with Tourcrafters’ 6-Night Holiday Package for $1265 with Airfare from NY

July 17, 2014
The Vatican in Rome at night. Tourcrafters has 6-night holiday package in Italy for the holidays for $1265 including air fare from New York. © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Vatican in Rome at night. Tourcrafters has 6-night holiday package in Italy for the holidays for $1265 including air fare from New York. © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Why not have a vacation over the holidays and spend Thanksgiving or Christmas in Italy? TourCrafters has put together a very affordable week-long Roman Holiday package that starts at only $1,265 and includes round-trip air fare from New York to Rome, six nights’ accommodation at the Hotel Rome Garden, daily buffet breakfast and fuel surcharge.

Rome is a delight any time with attractions like the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Vatican Museums, and restaurants and cafés galore, but it is especially appealing over the holidays. On Thanksgiving, which is not an official holiday in Italy, everything—stores, museums and restaurants—is open and some restaurants even serve tacchino (that’s Italian for “turkey.”)

At Christmastime the city is dressed up in holiday splendor. Piazza Navona offers a Christmas market complete with carousel, the smart shopping street Via Condotti is aglow with lights, there’s an enormous Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia and St. Peter’s Square displays a famous nativity scene and another huge lighted tree. TourCrafters can arrange an optional tour of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums (Sistine Chapel) or even an optional excursion to Naples (pizza’s hometown) and the ancient ruins of Pompeii.

The 3-star Hotel Rome Garden is special, too. It’s an elegant 19th-century villa located in a residential neighborhood that is close to a choice of good restaurants.

TourCrafters also has a 9-day/7-night Holiday Package to Rome and Florence that costs from $1,339 and includes airfare from New York to Rome returning from Florence, four nights at the 3-star Hotel Rome Garden, SMART class train from Rome to Florence, three nights at the 3-star Hotel Meridiana in Florence, daily buffet breakfast and fuel surcharge. (TourCrafters can provide add-on air fares from many other U.S. cities.)

Both packages offer daily departures from November 1 to December 28 but the packages must be booked and paid in full by August 28. The prices stated are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability. They do not include airport taxes of $109, city taxes (which must be paid in euros directly to the hotel) or the weekend supplement. The fuel surcharge is included but is subject to change by the airline.

For more information about the Rome and Rome & Florence holiday packages, visit www.tourcrafters.com, click “Special Offers” and then “Deal of the Week” For reservations, call 800-482-5995.

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Eurail ‘Free Roaming’ Summer Promotion Provides Free Roaming SIM Card

July 17, 2014

The first 2,500 Eurail Select and Global Pass customers who register their pass purchase on www.eurail-roaming.com can apply for a Eurail Free Roaming SIM Card© 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The first 2,500 Eurail Select and Global Pass customers who register their pass purchase on http://www.eurail-roaming.com can apply for a Eurail Free Roaming SIM Card© 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Eurail launches the “Free Roaming” summer promotion and makes it easier for pass holders to stay connected with friends and family while traveling in Europe. The first 2,500 Eurail Select and Global Pass customers who register their pass purchase on www.eurail-roaming.com can apply for a Eurail Free Roaming SIM Card. This offer is valid on all categories and classes of the passes purchased from July 7 to September 30, 2014 or as long as supplies last.

“Eurail is committed to adding value to its’ Eurail Pass products. The free Eurail SIM Card offer is one more customer cost-saving initiative to help pass holders stay connected while traveling in Europe. This promotion offers our customers the unique opportunity to avoid costly Wi-Fi or roaming charges,” explains Silvia Goerlach, Eurail Group Sales and Marketing Manager.

The Eurail Free Roaming offer includes a prepaid, pre-activated +44 (United Kingdom) and +1 (United States) SIM Card which provides free incoming calls(a surcharge of € 0.20 per minute is charged for US numbers) and 200 minutes of free Wi-Fi at selected Premium Hotspots. Additionally, the customer can freely combine up to 100 minutes of international calls, 300 text messages or up to 100 MB of data as long as the prepaid credit lasts.

Once the prepaid credit has expired, the customer can recharge the Eurail SIM Card, and take advantage of the same attractive Eurail Roaming conditions. These are offered via telecommunications partner Global Roaming, which works with 67 operators in Europe and is one of the worldwide leading providers in mobile communication services. The Eurail Roaming SIM Card has coverage in 30 European countries, including all those participating in the Eurail Pass program.

The Free Roaming Summer Promotion is valid for holders of a Eurail Global Pass, valid in 24 member countries or a Eurail Select Pass valid in four Countries. The Eurail Global Pass continues to be the most popular pass in the Eurail portfolio. It covers nearly the entire European continent and offers travelers the largest variety of countries to choose from.

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 thirty participating railways and shipping companies. 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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