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Where to Go in 2019: USTOA Reveals Top Destinations, Travel Trends

February 7, 2019
Venice_082518_576e2(c) Karen Rubin

Venice, Italy. USTOA named Italy as the top destination for 2019, but also raised concern about the impact of overtourism in the most popular places, like Venice. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) named Italy the most popular or “hot” destination for travelers in 2019, in a recent survey conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

The top 10 “hot” destinations for the coming year also included Iceland, which ranked second, followed by Japan, Vietnam, Australia, France, Spain, Colombia, Cambodia and Portugal.

USTOA tour operator members also identified their top 10 off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2019: Iceland ranked first, Cambodia ranked second, followed by Croatia, Colombia, Vietnam, Portugal, Bhutan, Bolivia, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.

“It’s interesting see five destinations – Iceland, Cambodia, Colombia, Vietnam and Portugal – appear on both the hot destinations and emerging destinations lists,” added Terry Dale, President and CEO of USTOA. “This tells us that off-the-beaten path travel experiences continue to grow in popularity among travelers.”

Demand for immersive, culturally rich travel programs continue to remain high. Roughly 82% of members offer art and culture travel experiences. The art and culture category was also the highest ranked experiential program for travelers in 2017, based on volume of sales. Two thirds of membership offer honeymoon and romance programs, 63% of members offer adventure programs, and more than half (56%) offer multi-generational family programs.

Economic Impact and Growth Ahead

According to the study, the tour operator members of USTOA project to close out 2018 with sales reaching $18.7 billion dollars, representing 9.8 million individual travelers.

Furthermore, member operators are extremely confident about business in the year ahead: 100% of responding tour operator members anticipate growth in sales in 2019.

“Since the first PwC study was commissioned in 2012, it’s the first time we’ve seen such a bullish response with our entire membership projecting growth ahead,” said Dale. “It’s even more encouraging that more than half of members (56%) forecast growth of sales ranging from seven to 10% or more in 2019, indicating a potential boom year.”

While the Active Members of USTOA view the upcoming year with optimism, they also addressed the global risks that could impact the industry over the next three years. Terrorism topped the list with 17% of members responding they are “extremely concerned.”  However, this level of concern is a considerable drop compared to the 2016 PwC study when more than half of member (59%) were “extremely concerned.”

Political instability and overtourism, a new category this year, were the next two global risks that members were “extremely concerned” about, as named by 13% of survey respondents.

In addition, tour operator members projected that roughly 63% of total packages sold in 2018 were through travel agencies, “Reinforcing the critical role of travel advisors in the continued success of members’ businesses,” Dale cited.

When asked whose traveling, tour operator members responded that about half (48%) of their customer base are 51 to 70 years of age. The next largest category was age 36 to 50 years representing 20% of customers. Gender is split evenly with 51% female and 49% male.  Within the escorted/guided and custom tour category, female passengers were represented slightly higher at 59%.

The research was released at USTOA’s 40th Annual Conference & Marketplace, held at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge in Phoenix AZ, November 26-30, 2018.

U.S. Tour Operators Association members, representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually 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.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

 

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NYC Must-See Week Jan. 21-Feb. 10 Features 2-For-1 Admissions to 57 Experiences

January 16, 2019
nyc-museummile_20170613_154e2 (c) karen rubin-guggenheim

Take advantage of NYC Must-See Week, offering 2-for-1 admission to 57 experiences including iconic NYC attractions like the architectural gem, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Frank Lloyd Wright building, celebrating its 60th anniversary © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Tickets are on sale for NYC Must-See Week. Now in its third year, the program has expanded greatly and offers 2-for-1 admission to 57 unique experiences including iconic NYC attractions, popular and lesser-known sites, historic locations, culturally diverse museums, unexpected tours, sightseeing cruises, varied performances and more. A complete list of participants can be reviewed and tickets—valid from January 21 through February 10—can be purchased by visiting nycgo.com/mustseeweek.

“NYC Must-See Week gives locals and visitors inspiration and motivation to get out and explore the City’s leading attractions, cultural organizations, performing arts and more,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “Fifty-seven 2-for-1 deals across the five boroughs provide world-class offerings at an unbelievable value.”

During NYC Must-See Week, there are options for everyone, including:

  • Immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences: Go underwater without ever getting wet at National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey in Times Square or test your espionage skills at Spyscape: Interactive Spy Museum, also in Midtown Manhattan.
  • Observation decks: Travel to the top of the Empire State Building Experience or book the One World Observatory for stunning cityscape views from Midtown Manhattan or Lower Manhattan.
  • Tranquil retreats: Seek reprieve in the greenest borough, the Bronx, at The New York Botanical Garden or enjoy serenity at antebellum Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden in Lenox Hill, Manhattan.
  • Architectural gems: Discover authentic and groundbreaking Himalayan architecture at Staten Island’s Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art or visit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Frank Lloyd Wright building, celebrating its 60th anniversary.
  • Museum Mile mainstays: Visit the aptly themed Museum of the City of New York or Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum*.
  • World-class museums beyond Fifth Avenue: Consider options such as Intrepid Sea, Air & Space MuseumMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA), Rubin Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum.
  • Cultural heritage museums: Uncover lesser-known cultural organizations Museum of Chinese in America and the Museum at Eldridge Street Synagogue.
  • Family-friendly activities: Enjoy Poppy’s Best Day Ever at DreamWorks Trolls the Experience, zipline at the Bronx Zoo or catch the winter production Odd Day Rain at Tada! Youth Theater.
  • Waterfront wonder: Embark on Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises and Hornblower Cruises & Events, two established musts, or board upscale Bateaux New York to elevate the experience with bubbly.
  • Historical enrichment: Step back in time at Revolutionary War–era Fraunces Tavern Museum or take a fact-filled Lower Manhattan Tours walk, followed by a visit to the 9/11 Tribute Museum.
  • Behind-the-scenes diversions: Partake in the magic and significance of Carnegie Hall Tours, Madison Square Garden All Access Tour or tradition of a famed sports franchise with Yankee Stadium Tours.
  • Pop culture: Reserve On Location ToursThe Tour at NBC Studios or a spot with the stars at Madame Tussauds New York.
  • Music and performing arts: Attend the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln CenterNew York City Ballet, Inc. or Dance Entropy.
  • Global connections in NYC: Tour United Nations headquarters or enjoy the melodic Distinguished Concerts International New York.

*Editor’s note at time of publishing: due to the ongoing federal government shutdown, this museum’s participation is pending until further notice.

NYC Must-See Week is produced in partnership with AARP. It will be promoted through out-of-home media across the five boroughs, print and digital advertising, NYC taxicab commercials, content on NYCgo.com and social media posts across regional travel and lifestyle influencer accounts and the organization’s verified handle @nycgo with the hashtag #NYCMustSeeWeek.

Last month, NYC & Company announced the alignment of three signature programs with a new initiative, NYC Winter OutingSM. From January 21 through February 10, NYC Must-See WeekNYC Restaurant Week® (concludes February 8) and NYC Broadway WeekSM will create an irresistible draw for domestic and international travelers as well as NYC residents looking to experience a curated selection of the best of New York City activities, dining and entertainment on a dime. For additional information, interested consumers can visit nycgo.com/winterouting.

 

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2-For-1 Broadway Tickets During NYC Broadway Week, Jan. 21-Feb. 8

January 16, 2019
nyc-broadway theater_111918_228e2(c) karen rubin

NYC Broadway Week, January 21 through February 10, 2019, is when theater goers have the opportunity to purchase 2-for-1 tickets to 24 acclaimed Broadway shows © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

NYC Broadway Week tickets are now on sale. The popular biannual program, now in its ninth year, will run January 21 through February 10, 2019, offering visitors and New Yorkers the opportunity to purchase 2-for-1 tickets to 24 acclaimed Broadway shows. Of the productions, 11 are new program participants, including: Tony Award® –Winning Best Musical The Book of Mormon; critically acclaimed drama The Ferryman; modern, LGBTQ+ comedy The Prom; and star-studded production True West, among other highly sought-after shows. Tickets for NYC Broadway Week can be purchased now at nycgo.com/broadwayweek.

“Broadway is synonymous with New York City and NYC Broadway Week is the perfect way to discover and experience the world’s best theater at an extraordinary value,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company.

The 24 shows participating in NYC Broadway Week Winter 2019 are:

  • Aladdin
  • Anastasia
  • The Band’s Visit
  • Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
  • The Book of Mormon**
  • The Cher Show**
  • Chicago The Musical
  • Choir Boy**
  • Come From Away
  • Dear Evan Hansen**
  • The Ferryman**
  • Frozen
  • King Kong**
  • Kinky Boots
  • The Lion King
  • Mean Girls**
  • My Fair Lady
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Pretty Woman**
  • The Prom**
  • True West**
  • Waitress
  • The Waverly Gallery**
  • Wicked

(*Subject to availability. Blackout dates may apply. **New participants in NYC Broadway Week.)

“We are so proud to again partner with NYC & Company for NYC Broadway Week, which is such a celebrated program,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League. “With nearly three weeks of 2-for-1 tickets and a wide variety of productions including family friendly shows, creative revivals and exciting new works, it’s a great time to go to the theatre.”

NYC Broadway Week is produced by NYC & Company in partnership with AARP, Audience Rewards, The Broadway League, Telecharge and Ticketmaster.

Since its launch in January 2011, NYC Broadway Week has cumulatively sold more than 1,225,000 tickets, generating nearly $84 million in revenue for Broadway. The program, now in its ninth year, welcomes travelers and locals to experience globally renowned, only-in-NYC theater at a value, benefiting the 87,000 strong local Broadway community and bolstering the greater NYC tourism industry. According to The Broadway League, 7.6 million visitors purchased tickets to one or more Broadway shows in the 2017–2018 season.

Last month, NYC & Company announced the alignment of three signature programs with a new initiative, NYC Winter Outing. From January 21 through February 10, NYC Broadway Week, NYC Restaurant Week (concludes February 8), and NYC Must-See Week will create an irresistible draw for domestic and international travelers as well as NYC residents looking to experience a curated selection of the best of New York City entertainment, dining and activities on a dime. For additional information, visit nycgo.com/winterouting.

Tickets for NYC Broadway Week can be purchased now at nycgo.com/broadwayweek.

 

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Reservations Now Open for NYC Restaurant Week Jan. 21-Feb. 8

January 16, 2019
Shalom Japan Restaurant, Brooklyn

Dining at Shalom Japan, one of the uniquely Brooklyn restaurants that combines traditional Jewish and Japanese cuisine. Locals and visitors alike can take advantage of NYC Restaurant Week, Jan. 21-Feb. 8 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NYC & Company has launched reservations for NYC Restaurant Week and ticket sales for NYC Broadway Week and NYC Must-See Week. This is the first year that the programs have all launched reservations and ticket sales at the same time, and will also go live at the same time on January 21, under a new umbrella program titled, NYC Winter Outing.

NYC Restaurant Week reservations are now open at nycgo.com. Now in its 27th year, the highly anticipated program provides the opportunity to:

  • Dine 17 daysJanuary 21 through February 8, 2019*
  • Enjoy two-course prix-fixe lunches and brunches for $26 and three-course prix-fixe dinners for $42**
  • Explore nearly 400 restaurants among 41 distinct neighborhoods, across all five boroughs
  • Discover 33 individual cuisines
  • View a full list of participants, browse menus and collections, and book reservations now at nycgo.com/restaurantweek

(*Saturdays excluded, Sundays optional; **Beverages, gratuities and taxes not included; brunch optional)

This season’s program features 26 new restaurant participants: 10 Corso Como Restaurant & Café, Bistro Pierre Lapin, Bluebird London, Brooklyn Chop House, Cafe Clover, Fine&Rare, Freemans, Harold’s, Henry at Life Hotel, Il Mulino New York – Tribeca, La Goulue Restaurant, La Sirene UWS, L’Adresse, Ladurée, Le Rivage, Merakia, Morandi, Nonna Beppa, Petite Boucherie, Rahi, STK Rooftop, Tarallucci e Vino East Village, The Eddy, The Loyal, Wallflower, Woo SoHo.

Visitors can browse restaurants based on NYC & Company–created collections, available at nycgo.com, including NYC Classics, Fireside Feasts, Raise the Steaks, Best-Kept Secrets, Squad Goals, Dinner Is the Show, Expense It, Sunday Brunch.

NYC Restaurant Week brand partnerships include booking partner OpenTable and Wine Spectator. For the benefit of wine lovers, NYC & Company has partnered with Wine Spectator to identify participating restaurants that have been honored by Wine Spectator’s prestigious Restaurant Awards program. Wine Spectator wineglass icons on nycgo.com will indicate the level of award the restaurant earned in 2018.

Diners can follow @nycgo and @nycrestaurantweek on Instagram and @nycgo on Facebook and Twitter for NYC Restaurant Week content.

Furthermore, locals and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of NYC & Company’s newest program, NYC Winter OutingSM, January 21 through February 10, when three of NYC & Company’s signature programs will align for the first time: NYC Restaurant Week (concludes February 8), NYC Broadway WeekSM and NYC Must-See WeekSM. Unique NYC Winter Outing mini-itineraries and sales for all three programs are now live at nycgo.com. Hotel savings are also available as the winter season offers the most attractive rates of the year. For details on NYC Winter Outing and to book experiences, visit nycgo.com/nycwinterouting.

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Belmond, Owner of Luxury Hotels, Orient Express, River Cruise Properties, to be Acquired by LVMH

December 21, 2018
Venice_082418_331e2(c) Karen Rubin-San Marco

Venice, Italy, where 40 years ago, Belmond was established with the acquisition of the iconic Hotel Cipriani, Belmond is being acquired by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, one of the leading luxury groups in the world, and Belmond Ltd., owners, part-owners or managers of 46 luxury hotel, restaurant, train and river cruise properties, jointly announced they have entered into an agreement for LVMH to acquire Belmond.

Established over 40 years ago with the acquisition of Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Belmond owns and operates a global collection of exceptional hotel and luxury travel adventures in some of the world’s most inspiring and enriching destinations. The company operates in 24 countries with its unique and distinctive portfolio of 46 hotel, rail and river cruise experiences.

Belmond’s iconic properties include hotels like Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Hotel Splendido in Portofino, Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg, Maroma Resort & Spa in Mexico, Hotel das Cataratas in the Iguassu National Park in Brazil, and Cap Juluca in Anguilla.  Legendary trains, such as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and Belmond Royal Scotsman and exceptional cruises such as Belmond Afloat in France fleet and Belmond Road to Mandalay, complete a portfolio that offers extraordinary experiences with curated activities and an understated personal service to a globally-diverse, highly refined customer.

Through this acquisition, LVMH will significantly increase its presence in the ultimate luxury hotel world. Synonymous with history, heritage and timeless experiences, Belmond has a seasoned management team and is an ideal complement to the Cheval Blanc masions, renowned for their exceptional service, architecture and unique gastronomy.

Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive Offer of LVMH, added: “Belmond delivers unique experiences to discerning travelers and owns a number of exceptional assets in the most desirable destinations. Its heritage, its innovative services, its excellence in execution and its entrepreneurship resonates well with the values of the Group and is complementary to our own Cheval Blanc maisons and the Bvlgari hotels activities. This acquisition will significantly increase LVMH’s presence in the ultimate hospitality world.”

For more information, visit Belmond.com.

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2018’s Best Places for Christmas Celebrations – WalletHub Study

December 21, 2018
Holiday Lights in New York

Enchanted by Macy’s holiday windows with a whimsical snowy spaceman theme © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner. With Christmas being the most popular holiday in the U.S. and one of the most expensive – Americans are projected to spend up to $720 billion over the holiday season this year – the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on 2018’s Best Places for Christmas Celebrations as well as accompanying videos.

To help Americans celebrate Christmas without breaking the bank, WalletHub compared the 100 biggest cities across 31 key metrics. The data set ranges from Christmas events per capita to average price per Christmas party ticket to shopping centers and outlets per capita.

Best Cities for Christmas Celebrations
1 Orlando, FL 11 St. Louis, MO
2 Las Vegas, NV 12 Washington, DC
3 New York, NY 13 Cincinnati, OH
4 Atlanta, GA 14 Birmingham, AL
5 Pittsburgh, PA 15 Denver, CO
6 San Francisco, CA 16 Houston, TX
7 Los Angeles, CA 17 Portland, OR
8 Chicago, IL 18 Tampa, FL
9 Seattle, WA 19 Miami, FL
10 Dallas, TX 20 Austin, TX

Key Stats

  • Fresno, California, has the lowest average price for a Christmas party ticket, $9.00, which is 5.4 times lower than in Plano, Texas, the city with the highest at $48.21.
  • New York has the most Christmas events (per square root of the population), 0.0472, which is 29.5 times more than in Wichita, Kansas, the city with the fewest at 0.0016.
  • Miami has the most Christmas tree farms (per square root of the population), 0.0225, which is 20.4 times more than in Fort Worth, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.0011.
  • Orlando, Florida, has the most gift shops (per square root of the population), 0.2119, which is 51.7 times more than in Garland, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.0041.
  • New York has the most toy stores (per square root of the population), 0.1312, which is 62.5 times more than in North Las Vegas, Nevada, the city with the fewest at 0.0021.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-places-for-christmas/41924/

More from WalletHub

Best Winter Holiday Destinations

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Black Friday & Cyber Monday Travel Deals on Hotels, Resorts, Tours

November 16, 2018
Venice_082418_348e2(c) Karen Rubin-San Marco

Venice, Italy. On Black Friday only, Perillo Tours, a leader in escorted travel to Italy for more than 70 years, is offering $500 off per couple on all 2019 Italy escorted tours © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Savvy shoppers searching for travel deals this Black Friday and Cyber Monday can save big on stays at a Kennebunkport Resort Collection property, the Woodstock Inn & Resort, and Perillo Tours.

Kennebunkport Resort Collection, Maine

The Kennebunkport Resort Collection (KRC), with nine boutique properties and six restaurants in the classic coastal Maine destination, has a Cyber Monday offer that makes a perfect gift for the traveler in the family: KRC gift cards available for purchase all day on Monday, November 26.

  • Buy a $500 gift card and receive a $100 resort credit.
  • Buy a $200 gift card and receive a $25 resort credit.

Fine print: Gift cards can be purchased online or by calling (800) 573-7186. The resort credit is valid on non-room purchases only (available for dining, spa treatments, activities and retail items) and expires one (1) year from date of issuance (November 26, 2019). Gift cards have no expiration date and are valid for use at any of the nine hotels, six restaurants, and the Tree Spa at Hidden Pond.

The Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock, VT

The 24-hour Cyber Monday sale on Monday, November 26, 2018 begins at 12:00 am Eastern Time and includes:

  • Guestroom rates starting at $179
  • Bed & Breakfast package starting at $199
  • Guests can save up to 50% off standard rates
  • Rates are valid for stays from November 27, 2018 through June 27, 2019, not including holidays, holiday weeks, and weekends. Other blackout dates will apply. Upgrades are available at additional cost. All rates are subject to the applicable 10% rooms tax and a $33 per day resort fee. Breakfast is subject to tax and gratuity. Other restrictions may apply.

Surrounded by Vermont’s Green Mountains in the heart of Woodstock Village, the newly renovated Woodstock Inn & Resort invites guests with round-the-clock activities throughout all four seasons. The warmer months offer biking, hiking, fly fishing and hawk walks to golfing, hands-on gardening, swimming in the pool, just to name a few. In the winter, skiing and snowboarding is available at the resort’s mountain, Suicide Six Ski Area. For reservations and additional information, please visit www.woodstockinn.com or call (888) 338-2745.

Perillo Tours

 On Black Friday only, Perillo Tours, a leader in escorted travel to Italy for more than 70 years, is offering $500 off per couple ($250 per person) on all 2019 Italy and Hawaii escorted tours.  The offer is valid on new bookings only for travel January 1 – December 31, 2019.  The 24-hour Black Friday sale is bookable online, via phone or email from 12:01am to 11:59pm on November 23, 2018.  Must use booking code: BlackFri18.

New for 2019,  Perillo Tours has introduced an 11-day Taste of Italy itinerary focusing on Italy’s famed cuisine with visits to Bologna, Florence, Perugia, and Rome, and a 13-day South & Sicily tour where guests can discover several gems of the south including Naples, Capri, Pompeii, Bari, Lecce, Taormina, Palermo, and more.  In addition, Perillo Tours offers seven core Italy itineraries ranging from 14-days exploring Rome, Sorrento, Florence, Venice and Milan, to nine-days in Rome and the Amalfi Coast.  Each Perillo Tours itinerary includes hotels, sightseeing with expert guides, transfers, baggage handling, daily breakfast, select scheduled meals, tips, taxes, free time for self-discovery, and complimentary Wi-Fi on all Perillo coach bus.  In Hawaii, Perillo Tours offers two island and three island itineraries. For more information on Perillo Tours, visit www.perillotours.com or call (800) 431-1515.

On Cyber Monday only, Perillo’s Learning Journeys is offering savings of up to $500 per couple on the Valentine’s Day in Sorrento, Italy live like a local itinerary.  The eight-day trip departs on February 10 and includes non-stop roundtrip air on Alitalia from NYC (JFK), arrival and departure airport transfers from Rome to Sorrento, six night hotel stay, walking tour of Sorrento, a limoncello tasting, city tax and daily continental breakfast.  Couples can enjoy the charm and romance of the Amalfi Coast while exploring the city and immersing in the rich Italian culture. The Cyber Monday special is priced at $1498 per person (based on double occupancy).  The offer is valid on online bookings made on Monday, November 26 only. The trip package must be paid in full at the time of booking and is non-refundable.

Learning Journeys offers cutting-edge travel experiences powered by Perillo Tours’ 73 years of travel planning expertise.  More than a traditional vacation, Learning Journeys’ itineraries focus on enhanced immersion in a specific interest or passion, such as yoga and wellness, cooking, photography, watercolor painting, bird watching, dance, language study, conservation, and much more. For more information on Perillo’s Learning Journeys, visit www.learningjourneys.com.

 

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Cyber Monday Travel Deals in the Berkshires of Massachusetts

November 16, 2018
Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA

The historic Red Lion Inn (it was depicted in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting of Stockbridge) is offering a Cyber Monday travel deal © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Two renowned historic hotels in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts are offering Cyber Monday travel deals. 

The Red Lion Inn – Stockbridge, MA 

Save up to 40 percent off bookings at The Red Lion Inn. Rates for winter and spring travel start at $99 per night; summer dates start at $179 per night. Offer is only available on Monday, November 26 and can be booked online at: https://www.redlioninn.com/getaway-deals/.

The Red Lion Inn, situated in the heart of Stockbridge, MA, is centrally located near major cultural events and venues and is a patron of the Berkshires’ visual and performing arts. Providing food and lodging to guests for more than two centuries, the Inn offers 125 antique-filled rooms and suites and four restaurants with formal and casual dining with locally sourced food. For more information, visit  www.redlioninn.com.

Porches Inn at MASS MoCA – North Adams, MA

At Porches Inn at MASS MoCA receive 25 percent off midweek stays (Sunday through Thursday) through Labor Day 2019. Rates start at $119 per night in the winter; $157 in the summer. Offer only available on Monday, November 26 and can be booked online at: https://www.porches.com/berkshires-hotel-specials/

Guest of the Porches Inn stay just steps away from the mecca of art and culture that is MASS MoCA in 19th Century Victorian row homes, where retro-industrial architecture blends with paint-by-number pictures and vintage TV lamps to create a whimsical, granny-chic stay. For more information, visit www.porches.com.

Reservations for both hotels must be fully pre-paid and are non-refundable. Bookings have limited availability for each date. Blackout dates apply and may change throughout the sale and a minimum stay may be required on select dates.

 

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The Willard Intercontinental, DC’s Iconic Hotel, Decks its Halls for the Holidays

November 16, 2018
Willard Hotel, Washington DC

The Nation’s Capital is pure magic during the holiday season and the iconic Willard Intercontinental, where Abraham Lincoln stayed before his inauguration, is offering a Wintertime Holiday Package © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Washington, D.C. – The elegant and historical Willard InterContinental will transform into a holiday-inspired wonderland, a beloved tradition that both locals and visitors have come to anticipate each year.  Beginning on November 24, an unforgettable display of yuletide trimmings, musical fanfare and epicurean delights will permeate the property through January 1, 2019. From the historical happenings at the Round Robin Bar to the highly-sought after holiday afternoon tea in Peacock Alley, guests will have their pick of endless festive offerings.

At the center of each Willard Christmas stands the treasured tree, boasting decades of sentiment on each carefully curated branch. The only hotel in D.C. to feature the White House Ornament Collection, an initiative founded by the White House Historical Association in 1981, each ornament honors a different U.S. President or special White House event. This year will honor Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, and will reflect three significant changes made by Truman during his administration – one to the Presidential Seal and two to the White House itself.  Another iconic facet of the hotel’s décor is their picturesque gingerbread display in the lobby that pays tribute to an iconic landmark in and around D.C.  This year’s display will pay homage to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and its storied past with a magnificent replica that will include all terminals, lighted runways, a control tower and even parts of the Washington Metro.

As always, Holiday Pies to Go will be available through the Willard’s French-inspired brasserie, Café du Parc.  From November 1 through December 24, holiday foodies can rely on pastry chefs at the property to provide an assortment of homemade, seasonal pies using the freshest of ingredients including the famed Candied Pecan Gingerbread Pumpkin Pie, Classic Chocolate Crème Pie, Citrus-Cranberry Crumble Apple Pie, Cinnamon-Oatmeal Crumble Blueberry Pie and Limencello Merengue Pie created with Executive Pastry Chef Jason Jimenez’s famous lemon curd, a popular favorite at the hotel’s afternoon tea.  Ranging from $30 to $38, forty-eight-hour notice is required for all pie orders, which can be placed by calling 202-942-7000.

Those visiting the hotel or the D.C. area at Thanksgiving and Christmas can indulge in the Thanksgiving Day Brunch and Christmas Day Brunch set against the magnificence of the Willard and Crystal Ballrooms. This scrumptious presentation offers epicurean delights involving both traditional and original Thanksgiving dishes created by Executive Chef Luca De Marchis.  This year’s highlights include a Mash Potato Martini Bar, a Carpaccio Station on a Himalayan Salt Block, a Risotto Station, and a Wild Game Meat Station plus all the holiday fixings. Kids can also rest assure that all the tot-friendly staples will be on hand from chicken fingers and mini cheese burgers to mac and cheese and curly fries. Seatings are offered between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on both November 24 and December 25. The cost is $125 per adult and $55 for children under 12 (complimentary for 4 and under).  Reservations are required and can be booked by calling 202-628-9100.

Café du Parc will offer its customary breakfast, lunch and brunch a la carte options during the holidays in addition to a four-course prix-fixe lunch and dinner menu for $75 per person on Thanksgiving. Likewise, the café will create a three-course prix-fixe Christmas Eve menu for $85 per person and a New Year’s Eve prix-fixe dinner menu at $155 per person for a six-course meal. Reservations are required and can be secured by calling 202-942-7000.

The highly anticipated and quick-to-sell out Holiday Afternoon Tea presented in the grandeur of The Willard’s Peacock Alley will be held daily throughout December from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (excluding December 24, 25 and 31) priced at $65 per person and $75 with champagne. Surrounded by festive décor, visitors can indulge in a medley of distinctive teas, delectable sandwiches including Mini Pimento “BLT” Cheddar Biscuits and Citrus Crab Salad Vol-Au-Vent and seasonally inspired pastries such as Eggnog Meringue Tarts and Peppermint Profiteroles.

Now in its 17th year, The Willard’s nightly caroling program has evolved into one of the most comprehensive of its kind in Washington, with a wide array of highly accomplished choral and vocal ensembles from around the D.C. metropolitan area.  Between December 1 and December 23, city dwellers and visitors alike can enjoy the sounds of the season with complimentary, nightly chorale performances from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m in the hotel lobby. The Washington Chorus, Gay Men’s Chorus, Arlington Children’s Choir, Potomac Harmony Chorus and Carmina & Illuminare are only a few of the many musical troupes making an appearance this year.

For those seeking a festive night out, The Willard will present a special Holiday Edition of History Happy Hour on December 14 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. This two-hour event combines mixology and history for an unforgettable curated experience. Jim Hewes, the esteemed mixologist and legendary bartender at The Willard’s iconic Round Robin Bar will be joined by former renowned White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier.  Bakers and history buffs alike will appreciate an insider’s perspective of White House holiday traditions as Chef Mesnier leads an intimate conversation regarding his 26-year tenure in the White House pastry kitchen. Guests will observe firsthand his famed culinary skills while hearing fresh insight into the six presidencies during which he worked, all while sipping on holiday-inspired dessert cocktails.

The Nation’s Capital is pure magic during the holiday season and the Willard is offering a Wintertime Holiday Package for all those interested in an overnight stay with upgraded accommodations. Booking now for November 16 through February 11, 2019 rates begin at $299 and include a $50 food and beverage credit and a 2018 commemorative White House Christmas Ornament (minimum two-night booking, 72 hours advance notice required, all based on availability).

For more information, visit www.washington.intercontinental.com  or call 202-628-9100.

 

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Discover Holiday Magic in Washington, DC

November 16, 2018
Capitol-DC-nght-011804e2 (c) Karen Rubin

The Capitol Building at night. Washington DC is a sensational destination for the winter holidays © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

(Washington, DC) – The nation’s capital is one of the best destinations for winter holiday travel, and Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, helps visitors craft a magical holiday. Find inspiration for memorable getaways on DDC’s holiday landing page on washington.org, and its Instagram and Facebook channels, including festive hotel packages, menus, holiday lights, ice skating rinks, gift markets, can’t-miss exhibitions and events across the city’s welcoming neighborhoods. Speak with a DC travel expert (1-800-422-8644), Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5pm (EST).

“Washington, DC goes all out for the holidays. Maybe your wish-list includes meeting Santa, light displays and a classic holiday show. It might include visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture, shopping for made-in-DC gifts then dinner at one of DC’s 15 Michelin-starred restaurants. We’ll connect you with the real DC,” said Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO of DDC.

In 2018, DDC’s print, digital and out-of-home holiday advertising campaign urges national consumers to “Discover Holiday Magic in Washington, DC,” with assets targeting New York City and Philadelphia. For added promotion between Nov. 30-Dec. 2; Dec. 7-9, the tourism bureau hosts a holiday-themed Instagram exchange with influencers from key feeder markets.

HOTEL PACKAGES
• Toast the season with “Caviar and Champagne” at The Darcy. This package bundles late check-out, a welcome Taittinger toast and decadent caviar cookies from Siren, the in-house Michelin-starred restaurant. Rates start at $169, thru Feb. 28, 2019.
• This December, Kimpton’s 10 boutique hotels in DC spread cheer with pop-up shops curated by Shop Made in DC, a retail incubator showcasing local makers. Book a “Make a Getaway” package to receive a swag bag and $15 gift card.
• The historic Willard InterContinental offers a Wintertime Holiday Package that wraps upgraded accommodations, $50 food and beverage credit and official 2018 White House Christmas Tree Ornament, starting at $299 (two-night min.), Nov. 16, 2018-Feb. 16, 2019.

SKATING RINKS
• Twirl around the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s rink, November-March. Warm up inside the Pavilion Café.
• Rent skates at riverside rinks at The Wharf, Georgetown and Capitol Riverfront.
• Iceless skating rinks return to the courtyard at the Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown and atop the Watergate Hotel.

HOLIDAY LIGHTS
• Tour America’s historic train stations in miniature at Seasons Greenings: All Aboard! at the U.S. Botanic Gardens, Nov. 22-Jan. 2, 2019. FREE
• Smithsonian National Zoo dazzles with more than 500,000 LED lights, snowless tubing and more at ZooLights, 5-9pm. Nov. 23-Jan. 1, 2019 (closed Dec. 24, 25, 31). FREE
• George Washington’s Mount Vernon celebrates with Colonial dancing, chocolate-making and caroling, Nov. 23-Dec. 31. Candlelit tours run Nov. 23, 24, 30; Dec. 1, 7, 8, 16.
• The District’s Holiday Boat Parade welcomes Santa to The Wharf with lighted boats and fireworks, 6-9pm, Dec. 1. FREE
• Holiday in the Park thrills Six Flags America with lights, rides and s’mores: Nov. 23-25, Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 21-23, 26-31.
• Lit in early December, National Christmas tree in President’s Park on the Ellipse will be attended by 56 decorated state and territory trees, Santa’s Workshop and nighty musical performances thru Dec. 31. FREE
• The National Menorah will be lit on the Ellipse throughout Hanukah. On Dec. 2 at 4pm, American Friends of Lubavitch celebrate with Dreidelman and donuts. FREE

SHOPPING
• The Downtown Holiday Market runs Nov. 23-Dec. 23 in Penn Quarter. Source more local gifts at Shop Made in DC in Dupont; Union Market in NoMa; Brookland Exchange at Monroe Street Market and Steadfast Supply in Capitol Riverfront.
• CityCenterDC dresses up with two monumental reindeer, an overhead installation in Palmer Alley and holiday tree lit on Nov. 24.
• Georgetown Glow, an outdoor light art exhibition, illuminates the historic district between 5-10pm, Dec. 1-Jan. 1, 2019.

PERFORMANCES AND ATTRACTIONS
• The Kennedy Center hosts shows including The Second City’s Love, Factually (Dec. 4-31), Washington National Opera: The Lion, the Unicorn and Me (Dec. 14-16) and the National Symphony Orchestra’s Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 20-23).
• At Warner Theatre, the Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker recasts the classic in the Lincoln White House (Nov. 29-Dec. 28).
• Richly dressed, A Christmas Carol (Nov. 15-Dec. 30) cheers Ford’s Theatre.

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE
• Circle around outdoor firepits at Masseria near Union Market; Bourbon Steak in Georgetown and Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse, a 2019 Michelin “Bib Gourmand” pick.
• Indulge in holiday teas at Peacock Alley at the Willard InterContinental Washington, DC; the Empress Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC; Tea Cellar at the Park Hyatt Washington DC and the lobbies of the St. Regis Washington D.C. and Line DC.
• Among tempting New Year’s Eve options, humanitarian and Michelin-starred chef José Andrés offers tasting menus at China Chilcano, Jaleo and Oyamel.

Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization of 1,000 businesses committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities. washington.org.

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