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Hilton Hotels Revitalize the California Road Trip

April 20, 2017
CA-SF-SummOfLove_041217_306e2(c) Karen Rubin-DeYoungMuseum

Take advantage of Hilton’s California Road Trip program at Hilton hotels in San Francisco and join in the 50th anniversary celebration of the Summer of Love, with special tours of Haight-Ashbury and the Summer of Love Experience at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

ANAHEIM, SAN DIEGO, SAN FRANCISCO and SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. ––Summer travel is already underway In California and travelers from around the globe this summer can enjoy the ultimate Golden State adventure with Hilton’s “California Road Trip,” a destination package that inspires thrill-seekers and value-minded explorers. Discover an array of adventures and authentic experiences with rates starting at $149 per night.  The package highlights premier destination cities such as San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Anaheim and San Diego with special rates available through Labor Day Weekend 2017. To book, visit California Road Trip Package  and take a Virtual California Road Trip on Hilton’s YouTube channel.

Participating properties include: Parc 55 San Francisco—A Hilton Hotel, Hilton San Francisco Union Square, The Fess Parker—A DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara, Hilton Anaheim, Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines and Hilton San Diego Bayfront.

With the California Road Trip package, Hilton aims to provide guests added value inside the hotel with a variety of inclusions to make your trip memorable while highlighting California as a premier destination for family fun, exploration and adventure, and exceptional hospitality through a unique partnership with its local conventions and visitors bureaus.   

“With some of the best Hilton properties on the map, ‘California Road Trip’ is the ultimate vacation package for families and friends who want to create memorable experiences on the road with spectacular scenery, fun and adventure along the way,” said Steve Cowan, general manager of Hilton San Francisco Union Square and Parc 55 San Francisco.

The California Road Trip package, featuring exclusive rates and added value inside and outside the hotel, will be available for purchase beginning now until Labor Day at Hilton.com as well as on the Special Offers page of each of the participating hotels’ property websites.

The California Road Trip package features savings of more than $125 per night, with exclusive discount of up to 15 percent on Enterprise/Alamo and National Car Rentals, $25 food and beverage credit (available in MIX Restaurant only), complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, unlimited access to the hotel’s Health Club & Spa and a California Road Trip Road Kit featuring exclusive discounts on local entertainment and attractions. Room rates start at $149 per night, tax not included.

California Road Trip packages at a glance:

Parc 55 San Francisco—A Hilton Hotel and Hilton San Francisco Union Square package includes (Rates starting at $265):

  • The San Francisco CityPASS®program which covers unlimited cable car rides, admission to four top attractions, priced 42 percent less than the same tickets purchased separately.  CityPASS® ticket book contains helpful information, including insider tips, an attraction location map, attraction and transportation details, directions and money-saving coupons. Books are valid for nine consecutive days, beginning with the first day of use. Includes:

o   3-Day Muni Cable Car and Bus Passport

o   California Academy of Sciences tickets

o   Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure tickets

o   Aquarium of the Bay tickets

o   Option Ticket: Exploratorium OR de Young Museum + Legion of Honor tickets

The Fess Parker—A DoubleTree by Hilton Resort package includes (Rates starting at $249):

  • Tote bag, Visitors Guide, Vintners Association and Urban Wine Trail Maps, Downtown Organization Map of Shopping and Cultural Attractions, Waterfront Map, Two for One Santa Barbara Sightseeing Trolley Passes, a Santa Barbara Organic Granola Bar and bag of Santa Barbara Pistachio Co. organic pistachios.

Hilton Anaheim package includes (Rates starting at $149):

  • Tote bag, bottled water, granola bars, $10 Starbucks gift card, Visit Anaheim drawstring bag, visitors guide and map, Visit Anaheim postcard with exclusive deals and discounts on local attractions and dining.

Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines and Hilton San Diego Bayfront packages includes (Rates starting at $249):

  • Branded bag, San Diego Magazine Spring Visitors Guide w/ coupons, Where Map, Brewers Guild map, sunglasses and mints.

Located in the heart of San Francisco’s bustling Union Square, Hilton San Francisco Union Square is a high-energy, world-class hotel that features stunning views and international sophistication.  The hotel is steps from world-class shopping and under-the-radar locales rich with the history of theatre and jazz. Additionally, the hotel is convenient to the Powell Street cable car line, Moscone Convention Center, Chinatown, the Financial District, City Hall and the Civic Center. Featuring 1,919 guest rooms and 151 suites with city views, the hotel is home to a contemporary fitness center, one of the city’s only outdoor heated swimming pools and an array of food and beverage outlets with artisanal flare and modern atmospheres. Dining options include the grab-and-go marketplace, Herb N’ Kitchen, The Lobby Bar with signature hand crafted cocktails, gastropub Urban Tavern with international offerings and the 46th floor Cityscape Lounge with 360-degree panoramic views of the Bay Area and San Francisco’s most popular landmarks. As the West Coast’s largest hotel, the property boasts 134,500-square-feet of meeting and event space, including a 30,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, for scalable meetings from startups to Fortune 500 companies. For more information, please visit www.hiltonsanfranciscohotel.com. 

Located in the heart of San Francisco’s bustling Union Square, Hilton Parc 55 San Francisco is a boutique-style business-class hotel that features stunning views and universal sophistication. The hotel is steps from world-class shopping and under-the-radar locales rich with the history of theatre and jazz. Additionally, the hotel is convenient to the Powell Street cable car line, Moscone Convention Center, Chinatown, the Financial District, City Hall and the Civic Center. Featuring 1,024 guest rooms and 54 suites, with city views, the hotel is home to a contemporary fitness center, an array of food and beverage outlets and shared campus resources with neighboring Hilton San Francisco Union Square. Dining options include Cable 55, Michelin-rated Kin Khao Thai restaurant and Barbary Coast. As the third largest hotel in San Francisco, the property boasts 30,000-square-feet of meeting and event space. For more information, please visit www.parc55hotel.com.

The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort in Santa Barbara, an AAA Four Diamond property, is located at 633 East Cabrillo Boulevard, steps from the beach and within ½ mile of downtown in one of the world’s most perfect climates. The 360 room guest rooms, with their own balcony or patio, overlook the Santa Ynez mountains, 24 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens or the Pacific Ocean.  Over 44,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including the Parker Family Wine Experience and unique outdoor Plaza del Sol make this a quintessential California destination for weddings and events. 

Hilton Anaheim is located in the heart of Anaheim’s revitalized Resort District and conveniently situated in the center of Southern California. Hilton Anaheim is just a short distance away from world-class beaches, sports stadiums and concert venues, ultra-trendy boutiques, action sports, lifestyle and tony shopping centers. Hilton Anaheim is approximately a one hour drive to downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica and South Orange County and an hour and a half drive to San Diego.

The Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines offers a unique San Diego experience with a setting unlike any other in southern California. A coastal retreat situated atop the bluffs of La Jolla and overlooking the legendary Torrey Pines Golf Course and the majestic Pacific Ocean, sits the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. With each of the spacious 394 guest rooms featuring a private balcony or patio with magnificent views of the golf course, ocean or beautiful hotel gardens, the resort offers a genuine San Diego experience. Minutes from the beautiful beach communities of La Jolla and Del Mar and 12 miles from the San Diego International Airport, the resort offers a feeling of seclusion, yet remains close to everything San Diego has to offer. Located at 10950 North Torrey Pines Road La Jolla, CA 92037. For additional information, please visit: www.hiltonlajollatorreypines.com.

Hilton San Diego Bayfront, a 30-story, 1,190 room hotel, is located on the edge of the bay in downtown San Diego and situated on 12.79 acres of Bayfront land. The hotel boasts 165,000 square feet of meeting and event space, four restaurants, a 7,300 square foot health club and spa, 3,000 square feet of retail space, a 2,400 square foot business center along with San Diego’s first heated saltwater hotel swimming pool and nearly $2 million of commissioned public art. Hilton San Diego Bayfront is adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center and PETCO Park, located at One Park Boulevard, San Diego, 92101. For additional information, please visit www.hiltonsandiegobayfront.com. 

For more information about Hilton’s California Road Trip package, visit HiltonAnaheimRoadTrip.com 

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Record Visits to National Parks Generates $34.9 Billion, 318,000 Jobs for US Economy in 2016

April 19, 2017
CA-Yosemite-Tena_041517_505e2(c) Karen Rubin-MistTrail

Hiking up the Mist Trail alongside Vernal Falls in Yosemite Park during National Parks Week 2017. In 2016, America’s 417 National Park Service sites drew 331 million visitors and contributed $34.9 billion to the US economy © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, during National Park Week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that 2016’s record visitation of 331 million visitors at America’s 417 National Park Service sites contributed $34.9 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016 – a $2.9 billion increase from 2015. Zinke made his announcement while visiting the historic Presidio of San Francisco at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Zinke marked National Park Week by also visiting Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Channel Islands national parks.

According to the annual peer-reviewed economics report, 2016 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, the strong economic output is attributed to record visitation and visitor spending in “gateway” communities near national park entrances. The report also found visitor spending supported 318,000 jobs in 2016, with the vast majority of them defined as local jobs, including those in the hospitality, retail, transportation, and recreation industries.

“National Parks are America’s treasure which provide magnificent outdoor recreation opportunities and serve as economic engines for local communities. In my own hometown of Whitefish, Montana, I saw how the popularity of Glacier National Park led to growth of the local outdoor rec and eco-tourism industry. And while traveling to Sequoia and Kings Canyon last week it was exciting to see tourism towns dotting the road to the park,” Zinke said. “This report is a testament to the tangible economic benefits our parks bring to communities across the nation. Visitation numbers continue to rise because people want to experience these majestic public lands.”

Zinke continued, “With continued record visitation it’s time to start thinking about accessibility and infrastructure. Last week, it was great to see the team at Yosemite opening up areas with new wheelchair accessible trails. In the coming years, we will look at ways to make innovative investments in our parks to enhance visitor experiences and improve our aging infrastructure. To ensure visitors continue to have great experiences, we will remain focused on increasing access and addressing the maintenance backlog to ensure we are on the right track for generations to come.”

More than 270,000 of the jobs supported by visitor spending in 2016 exist in the communities that lie within 60 miles of a park. These range from big parks like Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, which attracted 11.3 million people and supported more than 14,600 jobs, to smaller parks like Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in New Hampshire that attracted more than 42,000 visitors and supported 34 jobs.

CA-SF-MuirWoods_041317_755e2(c) Karen Rubin

A view of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge from the ruins of battlements of historic Presidio of San Francisco at Golden Gate National Recration Area.. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited there to announce that 2016’s record visitation of 331 million visitors at America’s 417 National Park Service sites and a $2.9 billion gain in the contribution to the US economy from 2015. © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“National parks like Yellowstone, Zion, and Gettysburg connect us with nature and help tell America’s story,” said Michael T. Reynolds, acting director of the National Park Service. “They are also a vital part of our nation’s economy, drawing hundreds of millions of visitors every year who fill the hotels and restaurants, hire the outfitters and rely on other local businesses that help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry.”

Visitor spending in 2016 supported 318,000 jobs, provided $12.0 billion in labor income, $19.9 billion in value added, and $34.9 billion in economic output to the U.S. economy. The lodging sector provided the highest direct contributions with $5.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 56,000 jobs. The restaurants and bars sector provided the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 71,000 jobs.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5%).

The report was prepared by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. It includes information by park and by state on visitor spending, the number of jobs supported by visitor spending and other statistics.

Report authors also produced an interactive tool to present data in full color circle and bar graphs. Users can explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.

National Park visitation grew by 7.7 percent from 2015 to 2016, the centennial year of the National Park Service celebrated with the Find Your Park campaign and promoted visits with such programs as admitting families with fourth graders for free.

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Park City’s Grand Summit Hotel to Undergo $15 Million Renovation and Join RockResorts

March 27, 2017
Park City UT_20170324_421e2 (c) Karen Rubin

A view of Park City’s Canyons Village in spring. Vail Resorts, which owns Park City resort plans a $15 million renovation of the Grand Summit Hotel at Canyons Village and to flag it as a RockResorts property © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Grand Summit Hotel at Canyons Village in Vail Resorts’ Park City mountain resort in Utah, will undergo an extensive $15 million renovation this spring and subsequent flagging as a RockResorts property. The renovations will bring the hotel up to par with both its unrivaled location at the base of the largest ski resort in the United States and the modern luxury its guests expect in a travel experience. The property will temporarily close from April 17, 2017 – in conjunction with the close of Park City Mountain’s ski and snowboard season – through mid-summer.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring the interior of the Grand Summit Hotel up to the same caliber as the world-class resort that’s just steps away from the property,” said Jim Dullanty, president of the Grand Summit Homeowner’s Association. “This transformation will undoubtedly elevate the experience for all of Grand Summit Hotel’s guests as well as the unit owners themselves.”

The renovation will include a complete overhaul of all 212 suites, including new interior finishes, furnishings, soft goods, appliances, artwork and technology. The property’s communal spaces will also be incorporated into the renovation, including the lobby and front desk, full remodel of the on-site spa, café and general store, and refresh of the conference and meeting spaces.

The interior design work will be conducted by Boulder, Colo.-based TRH Interior Design, which has also designed and transformed other Vail Resorts properties such as Crystal Peak Lodge in Breckenridge, Colo., as well as other luxury mountain properties such as the Westin Snowmass Resort and the Lumiere Hotel in Telluride.

Following the extensive renovation, the Grand Summit Hotel will be flagged as a RockResort.

RockResorts, a division of Vail Resorts, owns and operates a collection of premium properties, lavish RockResorts Spas and distinctive dining options in iconic mountain locations.

“We are thrilled to add Grand Summit to the RockResorts collection,” said Ron Neville, Vail Resorts’ vice president of hospitality. “The RockResorts brand represents the hallmark of casually elegant properties with exceptional service in our mountain resort locations. We’re looking forward to continuing to deliver extraordinary service and experiences to our guests at the Grand Summit.”

The Grand Summit Hotel sits majestically in the heart of Canyons Village at Park City. Its 212 lock-off suites provide guests with more than 290 lodging options, including hotel rooms, studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom suites and expansive luxury penthouses. Many rooms have balconies, fireplaces, double showers and full kitchens with service for eight guests. The Grand Summit’s heated outdoor swimming pool is an ideal place to relax after an adventurous day of exploring the outdoors year round. More information about Grand Summit Hotel can be found here.

RockResorts, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vail Resorts, owns and operates luxury resorts that offer casually elegant accommodations, lavish RockResorts Spas, renowned golf courses, award-winning dining and a variety of exciting outdoor adventures. The RockResorts collection includes The Arrabelle at Vail Square and The Lodge at Vail in Vail, Colo.; The Osprey at Beaver Creek and The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Colo.; and One Ski Hill Place in Breckenridge, Colo.

Vail Resorts, Inc subsidiaries operate 10 world-class mountain resorts and three urban ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Perisher in Australia; Whistler Blackcomb in Canada; Afton Alps in Minnesota, Mt. Brighton in Michigan and Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin. The Company owns and/or manages a collection of casually elegant hotels under the RockResorts brand, as well as the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning and development subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN). The Vail Resorts company website is www.vailresorts.com and consumer website is www.snow.com.
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Vail Resorts to Acquire Stowe Mountain Resort Vermont, Add to Epic Pass

March 27, 2017

Stowe Mountain Resort Vt

Vail Resorts is moving to complete the acquisition of Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont, which would be the company’s first resort on the East Coast, and would give East Coast skiers more of a reason to buy the Epic Pass.

Vail Resorts, Inc. in February entered an agreement to acquire Stowe Mountain Resort from Mt. Mansfield Company, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of American International Group, Inc. (AIG), for a purchase price of $50 million, subject to certain adjustments. Stowe Mountain Resort will be Vail Resorts’ first mountain resort on the East Coast and complements the Company’s network of 10 world-class mountain resorts and three urban ski areas.

This acquisition brings together Vail Resorts, a leading mountain resort operator, with AIG Global Real Estate (AIGGRE), a major real estate developer, which share a common vision for the long-term success of Stowe Mountain Resort as a premier, high-end resort for skiers and snowboarders on the East Coast. Vail Resorts is acquiring all of the assets related to the mountain operations of the resort, including base area skier services (food and beverage, retail and rental, lift ticket offices and ski and snowboard school facilities) at Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Other facilities such as the Stowe Mountain Lodge, Stowe Mountain Club, Stowe Country Club and certain real estate owned and held for potential future development will be retained by MMC.

“We’re thrilled to add Stowe Mountain Resort to our family of world-class mountain resorts. With the investments in both mountain infrastructure and base area facilities that AIG has made over the years, Stowe Mountain Resort has become the premier, high-end resort for East Coast skiers and snowboarders. We look forward to working with AIG to continue enhancing the guest experience and to ensure the resort’s long-term success,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.

Douglas Tymins, president and chief executive officer of AIG Global Real Estate, said, “Under Vail Resorts’ management, Stowe’s reputation as a premier ski destination with a commitment to excellent service will continue to grow. AIGGRE is looking forward to combining Vail Resorts’ tremendous mountain operations capabilities with our continued commitment to the development of the Spruce Peak community.”

Stowe Mountain Resort in Stowe, Vt., has undergone major capital and facilities improvements including the Spruce Peak Adventure Center, the new Meadows Quad on Spruce Peak, Evolution Stowe’s RFID tickets, passes and gates and the new Shops at Spruce Peak. Spruce Peak also has new high-speed lifts, new base facilities and gourmet restaurants. MMC will retain ownership of the renowned Stowe Mountain Lodge at Stowe Mountain Resort, a 312-room hotel and spa that has already been recognized as one of the greenest and most luxurious mountainside hotels in the world, and additional slopeside real estate opportunities.

This transaction is subject to Vermont administrative review. At closing, the purchase price will be adjusted for certain agreed upon terms, including a reduction (or increase) in the price by the amount that the resort’s EBITDA exceeds capital expenditures for the period from Nov. 1, 2016, through closing. Stowe Mountain Resort is expected to generate incremental annual EBITDA in excess of $5 million in Vail Resorts’ fiscal year ending July 31, 2018.

Vail Resorts plans to integrate Stowe Mountain Resort into its Epic Pass and other season pass products for the 2017-18 winter season, subject to the acquisition closing. With the Epic Pass, Vermont skiers and snowboarders will have unlimited access locally at Stowe at an attractive price as well as the best of the West at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Tahoe; and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada.

See: Vail Resorts Plans to Add Stowe Vermont to 2017-18 Epic Pass Giving Northeastern Skiers New Reason to Buy

Vail Resorts, Inc subsidiaries operate 10 world-class mountain resorts and three urban ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Perisher in Australia; Whistler Blackcomb in Canada; Afton Alps in Minnesota, Mt. Brighton in Michigan and Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin. The Company owns and/or manages a collection of casually elegant hotels under the RockResorts brand, as well as the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning and development subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN). The Vail Resorts company website is www.vailresorts.com and consumer website is www.snow.com.
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Lambert, Manfredi Advance in Gold Coast Arts Center’s ‘Your Big Break’ Talent Competition

February 12, 2017
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Julia Lambert is a finalist in the 5th Annual Gold Coast Arts Center’s Your Big Break Talent Competition © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Singer-songwriters Julia Lambert, Jaclyn Manfredi and the band Barely Know Her were winners of Knockout Round of the Gold Coast Arts Center’s 5th annual Your Big Break talent competition. Lambert and Manfredi, who won the judges’ tally, and Barely Know Her who won the audience vote, will go on to the finals on Saturday April 1.

The next round will take place on Saturday, March 11 at the Gold Coast Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, Long Island.

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Jaclyn Manfredi advances to the finals of the Your Big Break Talent competition April 1 © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Jaclyn Manfredi, 17, brings a sultry style reflecting jazz, blues and R&B influences, and has performed at the Apollo Theater. She was a finalist at the 2016 Your Big Break. Julia Lambert who used to perform with the band Nexus, is now solo and performed an original song, “Closer.”

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The band Barely Know Her was the audience favorite at the first round of Gold Coast Arts Center’s Your Big Break Talent Competition © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Barely Knew Her is a five-piece band from the South Shore with a solid horn section and an amazing drummer.

The other performers included Kayla Muro, a 17-year old who describes her music as “Alt Pop”; Sabrina Ali, 22, who has performed at the Bitter End and was a contestant at 16 years old on American Idol and The Voice (her grandfather was a Bollywood legend and her mother is an actress); Sydney Perruzza who did a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Speechless,” E.J. Carey who is a powerhouse who packs punch; Samantha Daniels, who has been performing since she was 16; Alex Mendes, who brings her classical training in opera and musical theater to a rich and impassioned performance that evoked in my mind Tina Turner.

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EJ Carey performs at Gold Coast Arts Center’s Your Big Break Talent Competition© 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The “Big Break” is not just a clever title. The young performers are competing for prizes that could well launch their career.

Winners are up for prizes including the chance to open for national acts at major venues like The Paramount, recording time at DCITY Studios and Online TV streaming opportunities, a feature on Reverbnation.com, musical equipment from All Music Inc. and ZOOM North America, a PR and social media campaign including management, booking and label services consultation with Rick Eberle Agency.

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Alex Mendes performs at Gold Coast Arts Center’s Your Big Break Talent Competition© 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mentors assigned to the finalists also work to help them hone their craft before performing at the finals. 2017 mentors are still to be announced but last year’s included singer/songwriter Ryan Star, John Hampson of Nine Days, and songwriter/producer Ido Zmishlany.

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Sabrina Ali performs at Gold Coast Arts Center’s Your Big Break Talent Competition© 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Judges are major players in the music industry including: ReverbNation.com’s Lou Plaia, All Music Inc.’s Guy Brogna, Songwriter Tara Eberle Drouin and Label Executives Stephen Marcuccio, Jerry Lembo, Linda Ingrisano, Mark Ambrosino.

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Headline duo of Katie & Lennon were both contestants in earlier editions of Your Big Break Talent Competition. Lennon still performs with his band, Youth Be Told, and Katie Zimmer performing on her own © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The evening was capped with a headlining performance by Lennon & Katie, a duo formed from past finalists, Lennon from the band Youth Be Told and Katie Zimmer who is now the lead singer in Youth Be Told.

Your Big Break is hosted by the Gold Coast Arts Center’s Acoustic Café and Love Revolution Org.

The contestants for Your Big Break were selected out of 1000 submissions in response to an open call for musicians age 15 to 25 who do not currently have a recording or publishing contract. The artists have to perform with a band or solo with an acoustic guitar or sing to a backing music track. There is no fee to submit.

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Judges for the 5th Annual Gold Coast Arts Center Your Big Break Talent Competition © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Arts Center is transformed into the Gold Coast Acoustic Cafe once a month, a music venue that showcases local up-and-coming talent as well as established music acts. With its black box theater performance space and a lounge in the art gallery, the Gold Coast Acoustic Cafe is one of the few small music venues around which makes for a special and intimate atmosphere for artists and audience alike, especially during Your Big Break. Other past artists who have performed in the headline slots have included: Iridesense, John Hampson of Nine Days, The Brady Brothers, and Sir Cadian Rhythm – all of whom are local musicians who have had major success in the industry, with hopes to further inspire the next generation of New York stars presented each year.

The next round takes place Saturday March 11 at the Gold Coast Arts Center. On deck to perform are Alex Norwood, Julia Hayden, Monique Thompson, Tessa field, Paris Ray, Taylor Hogan, Lydia Von Hof and Pocketphuzz. The headliner is Lem Payne Jr.

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Judges and performers at the 5th Annual Gold Coast Arts Center Your Big Break Talent Competition © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Doors open at 7:30pm for general seating and the first act will perform starting at 8:00pm each night. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for adults. Snacks are available for purchase.

Gold Coast Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck NY. Call 516-829-2570 or go to www.goldcoastarts.org.

 

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Regent Seven Seas Cruises Opens Reservations on 2018-19 Voyages

February 10, 2017
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Regent Seven Seas Cruises has just announced its summer 2018 through spring 2019 voyage collection, with 113 alluring itineraries aboard Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator, and the newly launched Seven Seas Explorer.

MIAMI – Regent Seven Seas Cruises has just announced its summer 2018 through spring 2019 voyage collection, with 113 alluring itineraries aboard Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner, Seven Seas Navigator, and the newly launched Seven Seas Explorer. These four luxury ships will call at some of the most fascinating destinations in the world, among which are 28 maiden ports and 23 breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage sites. Guests will immerse themselves in cultures, cuisines and traditions with the line’s free unlimited shore excursions on all voyages and through included three-night, pre- or post-cruise land programs on Asia and Africa sailings. Throughout, each staff and crew member delivers exceptional, personalized service to every guest, for which Regent Seven Seas Cruises is renowned.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ summer 2018 through spring 2019 voyages are now open for reservations.

“We’ve created a highly impressive array of voyages worldwide that will delight and awe our guests,” said Jason Montague, president and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “For the intrepid traveler, we also introduced a new Grand Voyage that delves into the Northern Atlantic and Arctic Circle, as well as our 13th annual World Cruise. There is no better inclusive-luxury experience than Regent and we look forward to sharing the world with our guests.”

Seven Seas Explorer Inaugurates Africa Voyages

Launched in July 2016 and recognized as the most luxurious ship ever built, Seven Seas Explorer returns to Europe for a second consecutive summer season in May 2018. The ship will sail throughout the Mediterranean, North and Baltic seas on seven- to 12-night voyages and make maiden calls at Portimao, Portugal; Lysekil, Sweden; and Bodo and Haugesund, Norway.

Seven Seas Explorer then commences its maiden Africa season on two epic voyages that showcase the continent’s west coast, a 24-night, Lisbon (Portugal)-to-Cape Town (South Africa) itinerary, followed by a 15-night, round-trip New Years voyage. The ship then heads west to South America for its vibrant rhythms, colors and cultures as it rounds the horn to Los Angeles via the western coast.

Chic Mediterranean and Authentic Caribbean

Seven Seas Voyager also will sail the Mediterranean in summer 2018, with many seven-night itineraries that include calls at some of the region’s most chic destinations, as well as maiden calls at Korcula and Hvar, Croatia; Saint-Raphael, France; Lipari, Sicily, Italy. The ship will winter in the Caribbean, alternating seven- to 12-night, Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, which travelers can combine to immerse themselves in the region. New Caribbean ports-of-call for the line are picturesque Port Antonio, Jamaica, as well as Charlestown, Nevis, the birthplace of U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

Remote Wonders of the Pacific and Australia

Seven Seas Mariner will offer a variety of adventures throughout the Pacific, starting with Alaska in summer 2018. The ship then charts the South Pacific in the autumn to Asia and Australia, presenting the grand cities and historic, cultural landmarks of the Pacific Rim and Southeast Asia, and calling at Broome, Australia, and Oarai, Japan, for the first time. From Sydney, travelers can join Seven Seas Mariner on the Grand Aussie Adventure, a new 36-night circumnavigation of the continent, sailing Dec. 15, 2018. 

Grand Arctic, Canada and New England, and the World

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ most intimate ship, Seven Seas Navigator, will offer three very distinct programs, starting with an 89-night, Grand Arctic Splendor voyage that begins and ends in New York. The Grand Artic Splendor voyage is comprised of six sailings that call at 63 non-repeating destinations in Canada and New England, Greenland and Iceland, North and Baltic Seas, as well as into the Arctic Circle to reach the White Sea. On this adventure, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., and Archangel, Russia, will be maiden ports.

The ship will then sail a range of unforgettable Canada and New England cruises between New York and Montréal to showcase the autumn foliage and exciting cities of Quebec and the Northeast U.S.

To kick off 2019, Seven Seas Navigator will embark on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 13th World Cruise, an epic 131-night adventure that calls at 62 unique ports across the Hawaii Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, Asia and the Mediterranean. Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 2019 World Cruise is comprised of seven distinct itineraries, calling at 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and making maiden calls at Kingfisher Bay (Fraser Island), Australia; Makassar (Sulawesi), Indonesia; and Puerto Princesa, Philippines.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is one of the world’s most inclusive luxury cruiselines with a four-ship fleet that visits more than 425 destinations around the globe. Regent Seven Seas Cruises is currently undergoing a $125 million fleetwide refurbishment that will elevate the level of elegance found throughout the fleet to the standard set by Seven Seas Explorer, which entered service on July 20, 2016, and has since been recognized as the most luxurious ship ever built. A leader in luxury cruising, the line’s fares include all-suite accommodations, round-trip air, highly personalized service, exquisite cuisine, fine wines and spirits, unlimited internet access, sightseeing excursions in every port, gratuities, ground transfers and a pre-cruise hotel package for guests staying in concierge-level suites and higher. Beginning in summer 2017, Regent Seven Seas Cruises also will include Business Class air for all intercontinental flights.

For more information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises or specific itineraries, contact a professional travel agent; visit www.rssc.com; or call 1-844-4REGENT (1-844-473-4368).

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Jade Mountain Club Named One of World’s Most Romantic Destinations

February 10, 2017
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Jade Mountain Club, Saint Lucia

The new National Geographic Society book, The World’s Most Romantic Destinations, names Jade Mountain as the recommended hotel for the island of Saint Lucia, one of the 50 featured locales.

“We are thrilled to be part of this definitive new travel guide,” said co-owner Karolin Troubetzkoy of the gorgeous coffee-table book, an inspirational planner for romantic trips such as weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries. “The very essence of Jade Mountain is the celebration of life and love, and our goal has always been to provide the utmost level in service and privacy for special occasions such as weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries.”

The resort is known for its intimate weddings, and its Celestial Terrace, one of the most popular locations, was used twice as the Final Red Rose Proposal in ABC’s The Bachelor. The hotel even employs a Romance Concierge to help with proposals, surprise gifts and other memorable moments during honeymoons and anniversaries.

Jade Mountain is set on a lush, scenic 600-acre estate overlooking the Gros and Petit Pitons, 2,500-foot twin volcanoes that have come to symbolize St. Lucia and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The resort’s cuisine, which the book deemed “exquisite,” is overseen by the highly acclaimed chef Allen Susser, who conceived the groundbreaking Miami restaurant Chef Allen’s and has won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Southeast Chef award.

Architect and owner Nick Troubetzkoy’s story began in the 1970s, when he opened Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain’s sister property, as a pioneering eco-conscious hotel. In 2007, after many years of planning and construction, Troubetzkoy opened his labor of love: Jade Mountain, an intimate, luxurious resort at the top half of the property.

Troubetzkoy’s bold architectural vision helped bring to life extraordinary details like dramatically suspended bridge walkways (instead of hallways) and extravagant suites called “sanctuaries,” each missing a fourth wall. The book specifically called out the “aptly” named sanctuaries saying, “there’s nothing between you and your Pitons panorama … Marvel at the scene from the sumptuous, mosquito-netted bed, elegant sun loungers or private infinity pool.”

With their incredible panoramas, massive infinity pools that seem to float over the Caribbean and handcrafted furnishings sourced from local materials, each room is a majestic, sweeping space that’s a true work of art. These sanctuaries provide an unforgettable stage set for the wedding, honeymoon or anniversary of a lifetime.

Jade Mountain has received numerous other accolades, including several Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and placement on Travel + Leisure’s T+L 500 and World’s Best Awards lists, the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, American Express Travel’s Top 25 List and BRIDES magazine’s rundown, “The 10 Best Honeymoon Resorts in the Caribbean.”

For reservations, call 800-223-1108 or contact Jade Mountain at 1-758-459-7000, e-mail jademountain@ansechastanet.com, www.jademountain.com.

 

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Valentine’s Gift of Travel: 10 Romantic Adventures for Lovers

February 10, 2017

 

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What could be more romantic than experiencing the Northern Lights in Iceland together? Big Chill Adventures offers that trip (photo by Mindy Cambiar)

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many have romance on the mind. If you are looking to rekindle old flames or charm your significant other with something extraordinary, consider these romantic retreats. From “glamping” in Wyoming to touring France by bike, here are 10 adventures that will make capture your hearts. Consider gifting the romantic trip for a future date, with so much to look forward to.

Bike Across France – Ride & Seek has introduced a romantic cycling tour in the Provence region of France highlighting some of the most beautiful villages as ordained by the group Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Guests will visit a number of classic destinations such as St Remy de Provence and the Vaucluse. From Venasque to Les Alpilles to Glanum, this is a dreamy tour of Provence.

Rocky Mountain Glamping – Hike, ride horses, fly fish, snowmobile, x-country ski, and play cowboy at the 25,000 acre Red Reflet Ranch in Wyoming. The ranch is both working ranch and luxury resort.  Gourmet dining offers ingredients from the ranch’s butcher shop, organic greenhouse and gardens.  From cattle drives to branding, the true western lifestyle thrives at Red Reflet.

Robinson Caruso Island Retreat – Retreat to the mystical Chilean island where marooned explorer Robinson Crusoe once lived. Hear the legends of pirates and treasure as you hike through deep forested ravines, cascading streams, and along jagged coastlines in this World Heritage Biosphere Reserve. Enjoy active excursions such as snorkeling, hiking, diving, horseback riding, and fishing, by day. Return to the comfort of your Robinson Crusoe Island resort by night.

New Zealand Food & Wine Adventure – On this exclusive luxury food and wine tour hosted by Frontiers International Travel President, Mike Fitzgerald, guests will experience New Zealand’s charming mixture of refined lifestyle and adventure. Discerning travelers will visit some of the most scenic coastal and inland areas of New Zealand, while enjoying a variety of outdoor activities, fine dining, and world-class wine.

Trek with Gorillas in Rwanda – Encounter some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world on a Gondwana EcoTours trek into the lush forests of Rwanda. Intrepid travelers will also track chimpanzees and the golden monkey, and likely come across elephants and African buffalo.

Escape to Romantic St. Petersburg – Forget Paris or Rome. Join MIR Corporation in St. Petersburg where you and your lover can peruse Fabergé eggs, attend world-class ballet and opera performances, walk the halls of luxurious palaces of the czars, and stand before “The Dance,” a joyous painting by Henri Matisse.

Après-Ski Retreat in Montana – Rent a luxurious cabin at the Moonlight Basin community in Big Sky, Montana and find active pursuits paired with food and drinks. Ski beautiful terrain that isn’t open to the public, sample hors d’oeuvres and après-ski drinks by a campfire, snowshoe to the clubhouse by starlight, and then sit down for an exquisite wine-paired dinner.

Wine Cruise on the Douro River –  On this romantic cruise with Adventure Life, guests will visit a fairytale castle from Portugal’s Romantic period, dine with breathtaking views from a 14th century monastery, take in art from the 12th century to modern times, and taste plenty of wine – including at a family-run estate and a terraced vineyard.

See the Northern Lights in Iceland – Big Chill Adventures offers an opportunity to explore the southern part of Iceland, known for its glaciers, icebergs and black sand beaches. Highlights include dogsledding, trekking glaciers, snowmobiling, spelunking, and soaking in geothermal hot springs.

Discover the Silk Road and Tibet – Explore the Tibetan Plateau on a splendid circular route that embraces the sacred cities of Tsetang, Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse. Ride the high-altitude train from Lhasa down to Lanzhou, and onto Western China and the Kashgar Animal Market. Along the way, visit Dunhuang’s UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves and Turpan’s lush Grape Valley.

 

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Romantic Getaways: Fall in Love Around the World with Red Carnation Hotels

February 9, 2017

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.– The Red Carnation Hotel Collection offers the perfect romantic rendezvous for lovers around the world. Rekindle passion in London, discover the true meaning of romance in Dorset, create unforgettable memories in Guernsey or Geneva. Florida’s tropical Palm Beach is ideal for a beachside escape, while South Africa’s stunning scenery boasts a multitude of indulgent activities.

Every Red Carnation hotel sets the scene for tender romance – rose petals and candles, Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, delectable dining and exquisite turndown surprises – each capturing a unique Valentine’s Day experience.

  • London, UK: Hotel ‘41’ overlooks the Royal Mews and grounds of the Buckingham Palace – A Night under the Stars
  • Dorset, UK: Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa is located within the glorious countryside in the picturesque village of Evershot – Valentine’s Hideaway
  • Guernsey, The Channel Islands: The Old Government House Hotel and Spa is in the heart of St. Peter Port sitting proudly just up the hill from the main shopping street and a five-minute walk from the picturesque quayside  – A Valentine’s Break
  • Geneva, Switzerland: Hotel d’Angleterre has unrivalled views of Lake Geneva’s Jet d’Eau – Romantic City Escape
  • Palm Beach, Florida: The Chesterfield Palm Beach is located in the heart of Palm Beach, just two blocks away from the world famous Worth Avenue and moments from the beaches – Sweetheart Package
  • Cape Town, South Africa: The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is situated above the Atlantic Ocean and flanked by the majestic Table Mountain National Park and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range – The Perfect Proposal

The Red Carnation Hotel Collection has additional luxurious packages to ensure your Valentine’s Day getaway is one to remember.

Red Carnation Hotels are a collection of family-run, award-winning boutique hotels in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA.

Each hotel is a landmark of history and tradition; from the recently restored Ashford Castle in Ireland, to the Milestone, a historic mansion hotel in the heart of London, to the truly iconic Oyster Box in South Africa – our hotels are unique and characterful with a personal approach to hospitality.

With a peerless reputation for exquisite fine dining, leading spas and sumptuous surroundings, we pride ourselves on delivering warm, thoughtful and highly personalized service.

For more information about The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, visit www.redcarnation.com.

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What Could Be More Romantic Than Surprise Getaway to New England Inns

February 9, 2017
Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA

Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA has a Date Night Package © 2017 Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

From the mountains of Vermont and cultural hub of Massachusetts to the canals of Amsterdam, what could be more romantic than surprising your special someone with a last-minute Valentine’s Day escape?

The Inn at Manchester, Vermont 

For couples still looking for a special Valentine’s Day getaway, the Inn at Manchester’s Fireside Romance package helps set the mood for a romantic winter escape. Lovebirds can sip on cocktails in the Inn’s cozy living room-style pub, discover the peaceful charm of Southern Vermont, and relax by their own private fireplace.

Available through March 31, 2017 based on availability, the Fireside Romance package includes: two nights’ accommodations in a room with a fireplace;  full breakfast daily; Vermont chocolate and a bottle of wine upon arrival. Prices start at $255 per night in a suite, based on double occupancy. Valid on new reservations only. Call 802-362-1793 to book.

The Inn at Manchester is located at 3967 Main Street, Manchester, VT. For more information, visit www.innatmanchester.com.

 Romance in The Berkshires

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Berkshires transforms into a picturesque New England destination for travelers looking for a romantic winter getaway. Two renowned Berkshires properties – Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, and  Porches at MASS MoCA in North Adams – invite guests to rekindle the romance with value-added Date Night packages:

Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA: Red Lion Inn’s warm lobby fireplace has been welcoming travelers since 1773, and this winter will welcome couples looking to rekindle the romance. The inn’s Date Night package includes overnight accommodations, a $50 dining voucher, a bottle of wine and a box of locally-made chocolates.  Rates start at $210 Monday-Sunday and $280 Friday and Saturday based on double occupancy. Available until May 25, 2017.  To book, visit www.redlioninn.com.

Porches Inn at MASS MoCA, North Adam, MA: Guests can discover of the art of romance at the Porches Inn at MASS MoCA. The Date Night Package includes accommodations, two tickets to MASS MoCA, and a three-course dinner for two at the Gramercy Bistro, Pera Mediterranean Bistro or The Williams Inn restaurant. Rates start at $287 per night Sunday – Thursday and $337 per night on Friday and Saturday based on double occupancy. Available through May 18, 2017. To book, visit www.porches.com.

 The Dylan – Amsterdam 

For couples looking to take their romance international, The Dylan, the refined luxury boutique hotel centrally located in Amsterdam’s trendy “nine streets” shopping area, welcomes couples with sweet poetry.  On February 14, Amsterdam’s Poetry Pusher will create personalized poems for couples on an old fashioned typewriter based on each couples interests and likes.

Available February 11-19, 2017, The Dylan’s Valentine Package features, one overnight stay; Dylan buffet breakfast; the hotel’s signature High Wine experience; a special Valentine gift and poem created by the “Poetry Pusher” (customized poem for guests staying on February 14 only, guests visiting other nights will receive special Dylan Poem crafted by the Poetry Pusher). Rates start at €405 (approximately $431 USD) per package, based on a double room for two people. Additional nights are available starting at €400 per night including breakfast.  Package is subject to available and excludes 5% city tax. To book, visit www.dylanamsterdam.com.

The Date Night packages are available throughout the winter, blackout dates may apply; taxes and gratuities additional.

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