Archive for the ‘sports travel’ Category

US Tour Operator Association Members ‘Go for the Gold’ with Packages for Olympic Game Enthusiasts

March 16, 2012

Greece (Photo by Sven Olof-Lindblad/Lindblad Expeditions)

As the 2012 Olympic clock counts down in the heart of Trafalgar Square in London, anticipation for this year’s games continues to build, inspiring travelers to join the celebration. In addition to tours to London and Great Britain this summer, US Tour Operators Association (USTOA) members capture the spirit of traveling to an Olympic destination with an exciting array of tour programs that include sites from past Olympic Games held around the world.

“It’s a big year for tourism in London and throughout Great Britain and there are still plenty of opportunities for travelers to visit in 2012,” said Terry Dale, president of USTOA. “Past Olympic sites serve as fascinating destinations as well, especially in an Olympic year, and USTOA members offer sports fans and travelers in general the opportunity to experience the legacy of these historic games all over the globe.”

From Beijing and Whistler to Olympia in Greece, cradle of the Olympic Games beginning in 776 BC, below is a sampling of USTOA member offerings:

Olympic Destination Highlights:

  • “Greek Odyssey,” a nine-day family program from Adventures by Disney, begins with private guided tours to some of the greatest archaeological sites in history: Athens, the sacred Acropolis and Olympic Stadium, Panathinaiko, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896. Reconstructed from the remains of an ancient Greek stadium that dates to 566 BC, Panathinaiko is the only Olympic Stadium made from white marble. The program continues through Santorini to Spinalonga and Karouzanous before departing from Crete. Insight Vacations’ “Glories of Greece” eight-day tour, available April through October, also highlights a visit to Olympia featuring a special tour of the original Olympic Games site including the Gymnasium and Olympic Stadium.
  • “Norway’s Fjords & Arctic Svalbard,” from Lindblad Expeditions, is a 16-day expedition aboard the National Geographic Explorer, with departures on May 27 and August 13. The exploration of the Norwegian coastline includes a stay in Oslo, site of the Olympic Games in 1952, noteworthy for a number of “firsts” including the return of Japan and Germany to the Games following the aftermath of World War II, and the first triple jump in an international skating competition performed by Dick Button of the US. Also of note: the May 27 departure features guest lecturer Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler, author of the 1998 Winter Olympics ACCESS Guide for ABC-TV and founder of the Media Development group who launched the “1996 Guide to the Atlanta Olympics.”
  • Tauck’s “Grand Autumn New England” available September and October, includes a visit to Lake Placid, New York, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games and the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex where guests will learn about the athletes who medaled there and enjoy a ski jumping demonstration. This 11-day itinerary begins in Boston and travels to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York, additional highlights include private Tauck schooner cruise on Boothbay Harbor in Maine and a behind the scenes tour of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory.
  •  “National Parks of America,” a 12-day program from Collette Vacations offer travelers a two-night stay in Salt Lake City, Utah, host of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Various departures from May to October showcase Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canyon, and the great Sioux Nations Territory before seeing Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument.
  • SITA World Tours offers a number tour vacations to China that include the home of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. SITA’s “Essence of China with Yangtze River Cruise” is a 12-day tour from Beijing to Shanghai, with a four-day cruise on the famed Yangtze River. Among the ancient attractions included in Beijing are visits to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City – the 250-acre Palace with 9000 rooms which opened to the public in 1949 – and the Summer Palace. Not so ancient sites include the Bird’s Nest, the Beijing National Stadium built for the Olympics and recognized world-wide for its unusual nest-like design.
  • The majestic Blackcomb Mountain in the mountain resort of Whistler, British Columbia, was the venue for the bobsled, luge and skeleton competitions during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. With multiple departure dates through September, Globus’ “Spirit of the Rockies” 12-day package through the Canadian Rockies begins in Vancouver and includes the Rocky Mountaineer train over the Continental Divide to breathtaking Banff National Park. From Lake Louise, it’s on to spectacular towering peaks and hanging glaciers of Jasper Park Lodge and then Whistler before returning to Vancouver.
  • Travelers can experience “Barcelona at Its Best” with go-today’s six-night vacation package to the home of the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, noteworthy for being the last Summer Games to be staged within the same year as the Winter Games. Available March through October, optional sightseeing tours include Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium and Ring.
  • Goway Travel’s “Sydney Plus” is a five-day program available April 1 – March 31 with two nights in Sydney, home of the 2000 Olympic Games, before traversing the Blue Mountain Range to the Hunter Valley, home of Australia’s major wine producing areas. The visit to Sydney offers an in-depth and active couple of days, including guided walking tours, Sydney Harbour cruise and visits to the Opera House, Watson’s Bay and Taronga Zoo.

The member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow travelers unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.

For more information on USTOA, visit, call 212-599-6599, or email

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Champion Surfer Opens Surf School at Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa; New Package Includes Lesson

March 14, 2012

Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa is making it easier to “hang ten” with the introduction of a new surf school and vacation package!

Champion long board surfer Kai Sallas continues his father’s tradition of surf instruction with the creation of Pro Surf School Hawaii, located at Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. His long history and love for the sport began when he was 12 years old, stemming from dad Jr. Sallas who taught young Kai and helped revitalize the surfing culture as one of the original Waikiki Beach Boys. Now, the oceanfront resort is offering a value-added Surf Package for guests to enjoy the waves and learn to surf with Kai and his professional team!

“With Pro Surf School Hawaii now on-site, our guests have the perfect opportunity to learn water safety and surf techniques, tailored to his or her skill level,” said Michael Nisky, general manager of Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. “Our beachfront location is especially convenient for guests to practice the skills they have learned, with a safe surf break just a quick paddle away.”

Starting at $244 per room night, the Surf Package includes the following for two people:
o Deluxe guest room with lanai (balcony)
o Two-hour surf lesson by professional surfers – includes surfboard, leash, rash guard, and booties provided
o Two-day surfboard rental

A minimum three-night stay is required. Children must be at least 11 years old and know how to swim. Valid through December 25, 2012. Based on availability, restrictions may apply. For reservations, visit or call 1-800-367-5370 and quote promotional code SPO.

Located in the tour lobby of Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Pro Surf School Hawaii also offers lessons in stand up paddle and surf tours. It is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit or call (808) 343-9667.

The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa fronts one of the best stretches of Waikiki Beach. Conveniently located in the heart of Waikiki, the hotel offers 1,310 refurbished guest rooms and suites with private lanai providing spectacular views of world-famous Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach. Other amenities include Kuhio Beach Grill, featuring the best in Pacific Rim cuisine; Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar and d.k Steak House; Arancino di Mare Italian Restaurant; newly transformed Moana Terrace, offering live Hawaiian entertainment nightly; Seattle’s Best Coffee; Paul Brown’s Spa Olakino * Salon; Pro Surf School Hawaii; two freshwater, heated swimming pools; 10-person whirlpool; new 24-hour fitness facility; business center with 24-hour Internet access; high-speed and wireless Internet access throughout the resort’s guest rooms and public spaces; shops and boutiques; and Hawaiian cultural activities. For more information, visit Follow Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on Twitter @marriottwaikiki or like us on Facebook at

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London hotels website offers discounted rooms for Six Nations Final Rugby Clash in Twickenham in February

January 27, 2012

The major booking website for London hotels,, has announced details of discounted rooms at select London hotels, close to Rugby Road and Twickenham Stadium, for fans travelling to the Six Nations final in February.

The match takes place on 26th February, between England and Wales. England come to the tie as reigning Six Nations champions, while Wales are fresh off a major semi-final in the 2011 World Cup. Kicking off at 4pm, anticipation for the match is high, with Wales currently on top form, and expectations for England as high as ever. The hosting nation are the current holders of the Six Nations trophy, but Wales have picked up a number of neutral fans since their good run in the World Cup, and the young side has been winning plaudits from all corners. It promises to be as close a contest that the Six Nations has ever witnessed.

Tickets are available directly from To help travelling supporters stay close to the action on the nights before and after the game, has released limited double rooms at reduced rates at top London hotels.

Among the discounts, the Continental Hotel has a number of double rooms within its four-star premises. Starting from just 50 pounds (a 78% discount), rugby fans can stay within a half hour’s walk from Twickenham Stadium.

Almost as close, the Richmond Hill hotel is less than two miles from Twickenham Stadium. The Richmond offers a 78% discount on selected double rooms. Starting from 63 pounds per night, the Richmond is a modern hotel set in a 17th Century building. One of the finest London hotels in the area, this four star is available at the discount only when you book through See their website for more information

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HOJO Hosts Facebook Sweepstakes to Award Ultimate Harlem Globetrotters Fan Experience

January 19, 2012

Fans of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters now have a chance to win a 3-day/2-night trip for four to Tampa, Florida, to see the Harlem Globetrotters perform live at the St. Pete Times Forum with the Howard Johnson® hotel brand and its “Globetrotter Getaway” sweepstakes.

Now through February 15, 2012, Wyndham Rewards® members who “like” can enter for a chance to win the trip which includes airfare, hotel accommodations, $250 for travel expenses, select Harlem Globetrotters merchandise and a private meeting with the Harlem Globetrotters.

“Howard Johnson has always been about fond memories, happiness and making people smile,” said Rui Barros, Howard Johnson brand senior vice president. “With this latest opportunity, we’re continuing that tradition, providing one lucky fan with the experience of a lifetime.”

In addition to the grand prize, five first prize winners will each receive 16,000 Wyndham Rewards points, redeemable for one free night stay at any participating Howard Johnson hotel in the U.S. or Canada.  Five second prize winners will each receive an autographed Harlem Globetrotters jersey. Full sweepstakes terms and conditions are available at

Howard Johnson International, a member of the Wyndham Hotel Group family of lodging brands, is a global chain of primarily midscale and economy hotels featuring single, double and suite accommodations. All properties in the U.S. and Canada, and most properties in other regions, offer complimentary high-speed Internet access, expanded cable television, in-room coffee and weekday newspaper. Select hotels offer complimentary Rise & Dine® continental breakfast and allow pets.

Howard Johnson hotels participate in Wyndham Rewards, the world’s largest lodging loyalty program as measured by more than 6,500 participating hotels throughout 36 countries worldwide. For more information about Wyndham Rewards, visit

Reservations and information are available by calling (800) 446-4656 or by visiting All Howard Johnson hotels are independently owned and operated.  Howard Johnson International is an indirect subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN). For more information about hotel franchising opportunities visit

Gunnison-Crested Butte see best rafting season ever for Gunnison River Festival

May 27, 2011

The community raft race at the Gunnison River Festival. This year's event takes place June 23 – 26.

Just as what goes up, must come down, Colorado rivers are rushing with whitewater after record snowfalls this past winter and local outfitters in Gunnison-Crested Butte are expecting one of the best rafting seasons ever due to snow pack in the Taylor River Drainage that is approximately 150 percent of normal levels.

Not only is there great rafting and kayaking, ranging from Class I to IV for guided trips on the Gunnison and Taylor Rivers, but you’ll see amazing tricks at the Gunnison Whitewater Park, the annual Gunnison River Festival which takes place this year June 23 – 26. Some of the toughest kayaking in the United States is on the Crystal River in Marble, ranging from Class II to V+.

“We’re really excited about the water levels and should have great levels all year long. It also opens up some routes for the Upper Upper Taylor in an area we call Lottis Creek, with Class III and IV water that hasn’t been doable for the last couple of seasons,” says Matt Brown, co-owner of Scenic River Tours with offices in Gunnison and seven miles up the Taylor Canyon,

“We are now offering raft trips every day.  The Taylor River is running higher right now than all of last year and summer flows may be at the highest level we’ve seen in 14 years.  Some think this is scary, but it actually makes the river less technical and smoother to navigate since the rocks are under water and it’s more fun because of the bigger waves,” adds Mark Schumacher, owner of Three Rivers Resort & Outfitting in Almont,

Gunnison River Festival, June 23 – 26
For a unique blend of hardcore and lighthearted outdoor recreation for all ages, don’t miss the ninth annual Gunnison River Festival.  Where else can you find a mix of USA Freestyle kayaking, a costume river parade, downriver raft race, hooligan race, kayak enduro, raft rodeo, foam boat and Strider Cup bike races for kids?

Gunnison Whitewater Park, redesigned in 2007 and 2008 and with a new feature and footbridge added in 2010, serves as home base for the festival at the corner of Highway 50 West and County Road 38.  Add in Taylor River near Almont and Oh-Be-Joyful Creek near Crested Butte and there is serious fun to be had on area waters.

The USA Freestyle Kayak (USAFK) tour returns to the festival in 2011 with a national point series. Classes include cadet (youth), open men/women and pro classes.  Also, National Whitewater Rafting paddlers will join the North Bridge Paddle Race.  “This brings a new element of great kayaking and rafting to our event as we are now part of the pro tour.  Freestyle kayaking is making an effort to become an Olympic sport by 2020,” says event organizer Angie Mauldin.

For costs, information, and registration forms, visit or call (970) 596-7094.

The following schedule is subject to change.

Thursday, June 23
• Go With The Flow Yoga on the River, 6:45 p.m. – Whitewater Park
• Event registration and live music by “Red Lady String Quartet,” 5 – 7 p.m. – IOOF Park

Friday, June 24
• Vendor’s Arena/Demo Expo, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Whitewater Park
• Sunset Concert with live music by “Better Late Than Never,” 6 – 8 p.m. – Whitewater Park
• Go With The Flow Yoga on the River, 6:45 p.m. – Whitewater Park

Saturday, June 25
• Registration Booth, Opens at 8 a.m. – Whitewater Park
• Community River Parade, 9 a.m. – Northbridge to Whitewater Park
• Downriver Raft Race, 9:30 a.m. – Northbridge to Whitewater Park
• Opening Ceremony, 10 a.m. – Whitewater Park
• SUP Downriver Race, 11 a.m. – Whitewater Park
• USA Freestyle Kayak Races, all day – Whitewater Park
• River City Fun Zone for kids featuring interactive and educational activities to understand watersheds and underwater life, foam boat races and a Strider Cup bike race. Opens at 11 a.m. – Whitewater Park
• SUP Surf Comp, 2 p.m. – Whitewater Park
• Raft Rodeo, 2 p.m. – Whitewater Park
• Hooligan Race (competitors race in boats made from non-boat materials such as inner tubes, kegs, barrels, etc.), 3:30 p.m. – Whitewater Park
• Live Music by “Simpler Times,” 4 – 6 p.m. – Whitewater Park
• Raft Sprint Race, 5 p.m. – Whitewater Park

Sunday, June 26
• Registration, Opens at 8 a.m. – Almont
• Taylor Canyon Endure, 10 a.m. – Whitewater Put-In to Confluence
• Upper Taylor Downriver Race, 10:30 a.m. – Whitewater Put-In to South Bank
• Lower Taylor Family Float, Noon – 5-Mile Put-in
• Barbeque and live music, 4 p.m. – Almont Resort, Almont

Adventure Packages
Dinner Float Trip
Enjoy the area’s only dinner cruise, Rocky Mountain style!  Start out at Three Rivers Resort in Almont by 4 p.m. and enjoy a 10-mile scenic float trip on the Gunnison River to Garlic Mike’s Restaurant for a delicious Italian dinner. You will receive the float trip, vehicle shuttle and a voucher for Garlic Mike’s (tip is extra). The total time required is approximately three hours.  The trip is available seven nights a week with at least 24 hours notice and a minimum of four people.  For prices and reservations, call Three Rivers Resort at (888) 761-3474.

Lodging & Rafting Deal
Save on lodging and rafting when staying two nights or more at Three Rivers Resort in Almont from May 1 – June 10 and Aug. 15 – Sept. 30.  For only $100 per person, receive two night’s lodging in a lodge room or small, one-room cabin and one Upper Taylor whitewater raft trip each.  Price is based on two-person occupancy and does not include lodging taxes.  This offer is not valid with any other offers or existing reservations and can be booked by calling (888) 761-3474.  Other lodging options and custom packages can be arranged.  Visit

Rock & Raft Package
Scenic River Tours is offering a new Rock & Raft Package, featuring a full day of adventure that includes lunch by the river.  Participants will whitewater raft the Taylor River until noon, stop for lunch, and raft some more before stopping to rock climbing in a new area being developed by Scenic River Tours.  Wrap up the day with more time on the water.  For more information and the cost, call (970) 641-3131 or visit

Visitor Information & Personalized Vacation Packages
To find out more about Gunnison-Crested Butte’s calendar of events and personalized vacation packages, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association’s toll-free number (800) 814-8893 or visit  Find the Tourism Association on Facebook at or follow us on  The Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport is served year-round by United Airlines with flights from Denver.

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

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

Recognized as the “Official Wildflower Capital of Colorado” by the Colorado Legislature and one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” in 2008, Crested Butte is 28 miles from Gunnison and the site of rich mining, ranching and skiing heritage and home to the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.  Only three miles up the road is the resort village of Mt. Crested Butte, home to the ski area, an active base area, the area’s conference center, and outstanding hiking and biking trails.

Marble is located in the Upper Crystal River Valley along the Elk Mountains and is the gateway to nearby Crystal, home to one of the most photographed mill sites in the country. Marble has seven sites on the National Register of Historic Places and is the location of the Yule Marble Quarry.

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

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