New Helping Hands Program Offers Opportunity to Live, Work in Yellowstone National Park

June 18, 2019
Yosemite National Park, Calif.

Imagine living and working in Yellowstone National Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Veronica Stoddart

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – “I don’t know too many people who get to spend five weeks in Yellowstone,” gushes Bernd Linzbach of his experience with the park’s Helping Hands program. “It was a great opportunity to explore the park,” says the retiree from Prescott Valley, Ariz.

He’s referring to the year-old Helping Hands program run by the Xanterra Travel Collection, which manages the Yellowstone National Park Lodges. It offers part-time, short-term jobs to people who want to immerse themselves more deeply in the nation’s first national park by living and working there while offering a “helping hand.”

“It’s a chance to spend real time in Yellowstone and explore the park when you’re not working,” observes Linzbach, who first experienced the program with his wife Debra in the fall of 2018. They enjoyed it so much that they repeated it in the spring of 2019. The Lizbachs worked in the housekeeping department at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Old Faithful Inn, tidying up, re-stocking, and getting the rooms ready for the housekeepers to turn them over for incoming guests.

Helping Hands requires participants to work 20 hours per week, between four and eight hours per day. They live in the park in dorm accommodations, which Linzbach says are basic with no TVs and slow WiFi. Some rooms have private baths; others are shared. Meals are cafeteria style, which at the Lake Hotel means having the same cooks as the guests have, who turn out food “of a very high standard,” he says.

Highlights for the Linzbachs were viewing wildlife and meeting people, including other participants in the program. “It’s not like a vacation where you have to try to see everything in a few days,” says Linzbach. “(When you live there), if you don’t see an animal one day, you’ll see it another. We were able to see grizzlies, bison, elk, deer, coyotes, moose, and even a wolf. It’s very special and fantastic to see all those animals.”

What advice does Linzbach have for others? “I would highly recommend this program for anybody interested in nature,” he says. “It was so inspiring,” he adds, that he and Debra are already preparing to apply for the fall season.

How to Participate

Submit your application now for the fall season. Arrival is on Sept. 5 and 12, 2019, and departure is on Oct. 15, 2019.

You could be assigned to the lodging or food and beverage department. Jobs include housekeeper, dishwasher, busser, or host. Training will be provided for each one. Housekeepers do light cleaning and prepare guest rooms for the full-time housekeeping staff; kitchen crew workers do prep, set up, service, and clean up; and hosts provide guest services in the restaurants.

You will be assigned to work in one of the following locations: Old FaithfulCanyon Village, Mammoth, Grant Village, and Lake Yellowstone.

Program perks include employee discounts in and around Yellowstone.

For more travel experiences available from the Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.

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6th Annual Saratoga Balloon and BBQ Festival, Ballston Spa, NY June 21-23

June 18, 2019

The 6th Annual Saratoga Balloon and BBQ Festival is back again at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa, NY, June 21-23, 2019, with 30 balloons at each launch.

Ballston Spa, NY – The 6th Annual Saratoga Balloon and BBQ Festival is back again at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa, NY,  June 21-23, 2019. Due to the success of the BBQ last year, two new BBQ vendors have been added. There will be bountiful balloons, 30 of them at each launch.

Last year, after four successful years, the event organizers realized that they  wanted to create a bigger and better event, one that was less dependant on the weather. So the barbecue component was added as a protection against the weather. Festival organizer Tim Cianciola says, “The BBQ vendors and music alone are worth the price of admission.” He points out,  “With  all the  great entertainment, our audience can have an enjoyable day.  And let’s not dismiss the balloons; they are a spectacular sight. They ascend as a parade of skyward seeking colorful flying ships, actually, an  amazing happening.”

This year’s Festival schedule is filled with, kids activities,  bountiful BBQ, craft beer, wine slushies, bands, street performers, a trained dog show,  a marketplace with 100 booths including arts, crafts, specialty foods, pony rides, games, and the balloons. During the three days the Festival expects to launch up to 100 balloons. Perhaps, the most exciting  single event is the Friday evening Balloon Glow at dusk. Cianciola  says, “It’s magic, just pure magic.”

The show opens on Friday at 3PM and closes after the Balloon Glow at dusk. Saturday runs from 11 until 8PM. Sunday hours are 11-5.

Admission: Adult admission is $12 at the gate, kids $5.  Discounted Advance sales tickets are available on the the Festival website www.balloonandbbq.com. On Sunday, Family Day, all tickets are just $5 each for adults or children.

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Loyalty Has Its Rewards for Ocean & River Voyagers

May 30, 2019
rcl-liberty-072307 086e2 (c) Karen Rubin

Royal Caribbean International’s loyalty program is the Crown & Anchor Society-Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

DETROIT  Cruise line loyalty programs are a rewards system that earn repeat cruise travelers devoted to specific cruise lines a variety of perks such as:

  1. Special loyalty pricing, which can provide significant savings over time.
  2. Member-only activities
  3. Complimentary Wi-Fi and internet
  4. Complimentary drinks
  5. Complimentary specialty dining
  6. Concierge service and other valuable amenities
  7. Discounted room upgrades, priority check-in
  8. Access to private dinners and parties
  9. Merchandise discounts and in-cabin amenities
  10. In some cases, complimentary cruises days or longer.

Enrollment is offered the first time you cruise with a line, so remember to provide your loyalty number to your CruiseCompete member agent when you book your next cruise for increased benefits and savings.

CruiseCompete provides tips on how to find your cruise line loyalty number (there are a number of ways) and specific instructions by cruise line. To see full details, go to this page:
https://www.cruisecompete.com/cruise_line_loyalty_programs.php

There are some lines that may extend loyalty rewards to other brands owned by cruise line parent company as well. Recently, MSC Voyager’s Club announced MSC Cruises matches the status for guests’ existing cruise, travel or tour operator program with a similar or higher status, meaning travelers can instantly get benefits when joining the MSC Voyager’s Club.

Here are many of the cruise lines and their loyalty programs:

AmaWaterways (Privilege Reward Program)
Azamara Club Cruises (Le Club Voyage-Adventurer, Explorer, Discoverer)
Carnival Cruise Line (VIFP – Very Important Fun Person – Club)
Celebrity Cruises (Captain’s Club-Preview, Classic, Select, Elite, Elite Plus, Zenith)
Crystal Cruises (Crystal Society) 
Cunard (World Club)
Disney Cruise Line (Castaway Club)
Holland America Line (Mariner’s Society)
MSC Cruises (Voyagers Club)
Norwegian Cruise Line (Latitudes)
Oceania Cruises (Oceania Club)
Princess Cruises (Captain’s Circle)
Regent Seven Seas Cruises (Seven Seas Society)
Royal Caribbean International (Crown & Anchor Society-Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle)
Seabourn (Seabourn Club)
Silversea (Silversea Venetian Society)
Viking Ocean Cruises (Viking Explorer Society)
Viking River Cruises (Viking Explorer Society)

For more information or assistance planning a future cruise or cruisetour, visit CruiseCompete and try the Virtual Cruise Advisor.

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Fine Arts & Festivals in the Great Northern Catskills

May 30, 2019
Olana National Historic Site

Hudson River Skywalk, a walking path on the Rip Van Winkle bridge, is viewed from artist Frederic Edwin Church’s Olana, and connects to the Thomas Cole historic site, on the Hudson River School Art Trail © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Where can you see Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, and Brooks & Dunn all in one place? At the Taste of Country Music Festival at Hunter Mountain, June 7-9! One of the Catskill’s premier summer festivals, country music fans flock to this three-day event each year. Camp out for the complete experience and you’ll be rewarded with special concerts, great food, and craft beer from a wide variety of amazing vendors.

If you prefer banjos and stand-up basses, the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival is for you. Held at Walsh Farm from July 18-21, Grey Fox’s who’s who of bluegrass line-up boasts 40 bands playing on six outdoor stages over four days. It’s non-stop, family-friendly, toe-tapping fun. Combine your bluegrass experience with a visit to the Annual Catskills Irish Arts Week, held concurrently from July 14-20 in East Durham. It’s a week-long celebration of Irish culture that includes live music, traditional Irish dancers, workshops, lectures, art, and more.

A festival on two wheels, the 12th Annual Tour of the Catskills Pro-Am Bicycle Road Race will be held in Tannersville on August 3. One of the nation’s top cycling events, this Pro-Am race draws over 250 racers each year from throughout the world. Considered one of the toughest cycling courses in the country for amateurs and professionals alike, racers will give their all just to get through the ‘Devil’s Kitchen Climb,’ a grueling uphill portion of the course. Cheer the athletes on, or register and see if you have what it takes!

Rev up the fun and watch daring riders kick up the dirt and reach serious speeds at Diamondback Motocross of East Durham. With three Sunday race days this summer – June 16, July 7, and July 28 – there’s no excuse for missing this thrilling event. Landing big-air jumps and racing around tight corners, it’s an adrenaline junkie’s dream come true for riders, and a heartpounding spectacle for those on the sidelines!

The Catskill Region has long been a place where poets, painters, writers, and photographers have found artistic inspiration. The stunning natural surroundings and ample opportunities for reflective solitude make it a haven for creative minds. As a result, it also holds incredible appeal for those who appreciate the fine arts.

There is no better place to begin your Catskills arts and culture exploration than at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. There, the former home and studio of Hudson River School of Art founder Thomas Cole still stands, now serving as a museum of Catskills art history and a working gallery and studio.

Exchange traditional for contemporary when you visit the LUMBERYARD Center for Film and Performing Arts. This modern-day studio and performance center is a wonderful place for audiences to enjoy unique theater, dance, and film productions, and a place for budding artists to hone their craft and blaze their own artistic path. Browse their upcoming events or learn more about their leading-edge artist-in-residence programs.

With so many incredible performance spaces and galleries to choose from, it’s easy to make the arts part of any visit to the Great Northern Catskills. Check the performance schedules of the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill and the Orpheum Film and Performing Arts Center in Tannersville to find world class concerts, theater productions, and one-of-a-kind shows, or stop by a local art gallery to see breathtaking works by talented local artists.

What is it about the Great Northern Catskills that is so inspiring to artistic minds? Take a walk along the new Hudson River Skywalk to see for yourself! Hundreds of feet in the air, the mile-long Skywalk connects the homes of two famed Hudson River School painters, Thomas Cole and Frederic Church. Spanning a picturesque portion of the Hudson River, several outlooks along the path provide panoramic views of the water below and the surrounding mountains. It is a view that has inspired countless photographs, paintings, and written works, including the famous fable of Rip Van Winkle. While pets are not allowed, sketch books, cameras, and easels are encouraged!

Greene County Tourism, 800-355-CATS, 518-943-3223, www.greatnortherncatskills.com..

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Nantucket’s White Elephant Partners with Mandarin Oriental, Boston to Offer ‘2 If by Land, 3 if by Sea’ Package

May 29, 2019
Nantucket-White Elephant e2

The White Elephant on Nantucket

Can’t decide between a beach holiday on an iconic island and a city stay packed with culture and history?

The White Elephant on Nantucket is partnering with Mandarin Oriental, Boston to offer guests a New England vacation experience with three nights on the island and two nights under the city lights. The package also includes experiences such as a sailing tour around Nantucket and tickets to the Whaling Museum, the backbone of the island’s history. Rates start at $3,398 for two guests.

Overlooking Nantucket Harbor, White Elephant is the quintessential New England retreat composed of peaceful, light-filled guest rooms and charming garden cottages that dot the water’s edge. Guests of the hotel can dine al fresco at Brant Point Grill, Nantucket’s premier steak and seafood restaurant, or pick up a book from the on-property library and spend the day in a chaise on the Harborside Lawn. White Elephant also offers complimentary Priority Bicycle rentals, making for an easy ride to the island’s many beaches and favorite spots such as Bartlett’s Farm and the Brant Point Lighthouse. Guests who book the top suite at the hotel will also receive the keys to a 2019 BMW vehicle for the duration of their stay.

During a visit to Mandarin Oriental, Boston guests can unwind with The Spa’s tension melting New England Retreat therapy. The treatment begins with a full dry body brush exfoliation, followed by a targeted tension relieving massage. To finish, warm muds and de-stressing muscle gels are applied to revitalize and refresh. Guests will also enjoy a personal shopping experience at Lilly Pulitzer on nearby Newbury Street so they can deck themselves out in the perfect seaside attire.

The Two if by Land, Three if by Sea package starts at $3,398 plus taxes and gratuities and includes:

Two if by Land at Mandarin Oriental, Boston

–          Two-night stay in luxurious accommodations

–          Daily breakfast at Bar Boulud or in-room for two people

–          Boston-themed welcome amenity

–          New England Retreat treatment at The Spa for two people

–          $250 gift card to Lilly Pulitzer

 

Three if by Sea at White Elephant, Nantucket

–          Three-night stay in seaside accommodations

–          Daily breakfast for two people

–          Nantucket-themed welcome amenity

–          Endeavor sunset sail and island tour

–          Two tickets to the Whaling Museum

–          Three-course dinner with wine pairings at the waterfront Brant Point Grill for two people

The package is available until November 2, 2019, is based on double occupancy and is subject to availability. It must be booked a minimum of 7 days prior to arrival and additional nights can be booked at the best available rate. Reservations can be made by contacting hotels directly.

White Elephant, Nantucket: 1.800.445.6574

Mandarin Oriental, Boston: 617.535.8880 or emailing mosbo-reservations@mohg.com.

Nantucket Island Resorts is a collection of premier hotels on Nantucket that specialize in bringing the unique Nantucket lifestyle to all guests. From boating to fine dining to a large number of island festivals and events, Nantucket Island Resorts caters to its visitors and offers vacation planning that lets you get the most out of a Nantucket vacation while staying in a fantastic array of accommodations. Properties include The Wauwinet, which unveiled a multi-million dollar renovation in April 2019 and offers access and views of both bay and ocean beaches and home to AAA Five Diamond-rated TOPPER’S restaurant; White Elephant, offers a choice of accommodations including  an iconic hotel located right on Nantucket Harbor that offers a lovely arrangements of rooms, suites, cottages, and two stunning in-town luxury lofts as well as the Brant Point Grill. Down the street is the Inn with well-appointed deluxe rooms and suites and one-, two-, and three-bedroom Residences, that all enjoy access to the on-property heated pool; Jared Coffin House, a historic and charming hotel located in Nantucket Town and its restaurant, Nantucket Prime; The Cottages at Nantucket Boat Basin, waterfront cottages with full kitchens located on three wharves jutting out into Nantucket Harbor and featuring 12 pet-friendly accommodations. All properties were recognized by 2018 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. The Nantucket Boat Basin, a 240 slip full-service award winning marina, is also part of the collection and located at the base of Town. 

An intimately luxurious hotel, Mandarin Oriental, Boston combines classic New England elegance with refined Oriental touches to create one of the most distinctive hospitality experiences in the region. Awarded both Forbes Five-Stars and AAA Five-Diamonds, Mandarin Oriental, Boston features 148 of the city’s most spacious guestrooms and suites, exquisite meeting and event facilities and legendary personalized service. Hotel amenities include Massachusetts’ only holistic Five-Star awarded spa, a state-of-the-art fitness center and our signature restaurant Bar Boulud, a French-inspired bistro and wine bar from internationally acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud. A short 15-minute drive from Logan International Airport, Mandarin Oriental, Boston connects guests to the city’s finest shopping, cultural venues and business institutions from its prime location in the heart of Boston’s chic Back Bay on Boylston Street.

 

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White Elephant Palm Beach Boutique Hotel to Open Late 2019

May 29, 2019

Palm Beach, Florida © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

White Elephant Palm Beach, a luxury boutique hotel located on Sunset Avenue in the heart of Palm Beach, will open late 2019. The new hotel, being completely redeveloped by Boston-based New England Development, represents the total renovation of the former Bradley Park Hotel – which dates back to the 1920’s – and its transformation into one of the most luxurious properties in Palm Beach.

The project reflects the standard of outstanding hospitality already established by New England Development in their waterfront White Elephant Nantucket and highlights the synergy between two legendary resort destinations.  “Our main mission is to combine our vision of hospitality with the ethos and style of casually elegant Palm Beach,” comments Douglass Karp, President, New England Development. He notes: “We are pleased to combine our promise of service excellence with the exciting tradition of hospitality in this legendary resort destination. We feel right at home in Palm Beach.”

New England Development retained noted architectural firm Elkus Manfredi to create a design respectful of the unique history of Palm Beach while reflecting the mood, pulse, refinement, and ethos of the modern, sophisticated traveler.  The new hotel embraces the history of the existing four-story landmark building adjacent to Bradley Park. The design of White Elephant Palm Beach will be a contemporary interpretation of Mediterranean-revival architecture, totally at home and reflective of the life and history of its setting.

The 32-key hotel, with 13 rooms and 19 spacious suites, will be residential in scale with outdoor spaces and lush landscaping. The rooms and suites will have outdoor balconies with landscaping. Both penthouse suites will offer large living rooms with fully equipped kitchens and large outdoor terraces with coastal views.

The layout of the hotel takes advantage of outdoor spaces featuring a u-shaped outdoor courtyard, which will be the social heart of the hotel and the setting for an inviting pool environment and an outdoor seating.  A new signature restaurant, private dining rooms and outdoor seating will be incorporated while maintaining the ambiance of a boutique resort.

The interior design will capture the spirit of a grand home with hard wood floors, elegant tiles, woven rugs, all interpreted with contemporary style. The interior colors will reflect the special quality of Palm Beach light in soft neutrals. The exterior walls of the Mizner-style architecture will feature a light creamy-white color with classic black-and-white striped awnings, charcoal-grey roof tiles and black trim creating a fresh, sophisticated look to the classic structure.

The hotel stands one street north of Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach’s original Main Street and less than two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. It is located on the corner of Sunset Avenue, the southeast corner of Bradley Place, adjacent to the intra-coastal waterway. White Elephant Palm Beach is adjacent to Bradley Park, which has been restored and serves as a grand lawn to the hotel. In recent years, this historic area of Palm Beach has undergone a revitalization including the development of the Royal Poinciana Plaza shopping area and the completion of the Flagler Memorial Bridge.

New England Development (NED) is one of the nation’s premier real estate development and management companies, led by Chairman Stephen R. Karp, Vice Chairman Steven S. Fischman, and President Douglass E. Karp.  As part of NED’s national portfolio that includes retail, mixed-use, and hospitality assets, plus marinas and golf courses, the company operates luxury hotels on Nantucket, MA, including White Elephant and The Wauwinet. Both hotels are on the Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List and are recipients of the Forbes Travel Guide Four Star Award.  In addition, NED was a major part of the team that developed the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel adjacent to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

New England Development also developed and manages the 440,000 SF Palm Beach Outlets in West Palm Beach and the adjacent 300,000 SF Marketplace at the Outlets, located directly off Interstate 95 on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard in West Palm Beach, FL.

 

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U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Headline the 2019 Bethpage Jones Beach Air Show

May 24, 2019

USAF Thunderbirds in formation, at the Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach, Long Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The US Air Force Thunderbirds will headline the 2019 Bethpage Jones Beach Air Show. The 16th annual air show – which officially kicks off summer for the Long Island region with thrilling flourish  – also features United States Army Golden Knights – Sean D. Tucker – Team Oracle – John Klatt Airshows – “Screamin Sasquatch”  – Matt Chapman – Embry Riddle  – GEICO Skytypers  – American Air Power Museum Warbirds – SUNY Farmingdale Aviation – 106th Rescue Wing. As always, the brilliant announcer is Rob Reider  and the Airboss choreographing the complicated air space is Wayne Boggs.

The event takes place Saturday, May 25 and Sunday May 26, 10 am to 3 pm.

Admission is free, but there is a $10 per car parking fee paid at the parking lot.

Get there early. In the past, this show has seen 200,000 people fill up the beach on a single day. When the parking lots fill, the parkways are closed and people are turned away.

Bring SUNSCREEN, HATS, WATER

BAGS, BACKPACKS, AND COOLERS ARE OK but they will be searched. There is a fast-food style restaurant on the East end of the beach, and refreshment vendors along the boardwalk. If you want to keep costs low, you may want to bring along your own drinks and snacks. There will be no bleachers or seating of any sort (with the exception of the VIP Chalets that require a separate entry fee purchased before the show), so bring a blanket to sit on, or foldable chair. If you plan on sitting close to the water, you might want to bring a jacket or long-sleeved shirt. Even though the air temperature may be warm, it can be surprisingly chilly by the water.

See highlights from the 15th Annual Air show:

US Navy Blue Angels at 15th Annual Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Long Island: Photo Highlights

Photo Highlights from 15th Annual Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Long Island

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Family Ranch Vacations Embolden Children to Become NextGen Environmentalists, Explorers, says Dude Ranch Expert

May 13, 2019
dude ranch-Rankin Ranch CA e2

Rankin Ranch, California: Dude ranch vacations are ideal for families, says Gene Kilgore.

SONOMA, CA – Kids, horses and wranglers are the heart and soul of family dude ranch vacations, says Gene Kilgore, a leading expert on dude ranch vacations. “Take children to a beach and ask them 10 years later to name that beach and they will have forgotten. But take them to a ranch and they’ll remember the name of the ranch and the names of their horses for the rest of their lives.”

“A thread common to these ranches is the attention staff lavish on children exploring an exciting new, wild world of ranch vacations,” he adds. “Meanwhile their parents are unplugging, riding or maybe fly fishing, reading a book or musing about becoming a family who lives year-round on a ranch. They’ve never seen their children this happy.

He points to ranches from the Rockies to California “where Mother Nature emboldens children to become next generation environmentalists, explorers and adventurers.”.

In the Canadian Rockies, Three Bars Guest and Cattle Ranch invites ages 6 and up to ride, target practice with kid-size archery equipment, shoot clays with lightweight rifles, river raft, swim (supervised), mountain bike, fish, hunt for frogs, build forts and pan for British Columbia gold. Host Tyler Beckley notes, “The first day or so most families tend to ride together. As children feel more secure and after they’ve made friends, they’re off and running.” Evenings everyone eats together. Children under 6 can ride around the arena on horses led by wranglers and meet other animals in a petting zoo. Log cabins of up to three bedrooms accommodate 45 guests (see https://www.top50ranches.com/ranch-vacations/three-bars-ranch).

California’s Rankin Ranch has run cattle at the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada mountain range since 1863. Supervised activities for ages 4 to 11 combine hiking and swimming with ping pong, shuffleboard, archery, badminton, horseshoes and the list goes on. Ages 6 and up enjoy twice daily trail rides through areas where cattle are grazing. “Evenings youngsters feed chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, a miniature donkey and miniature horses. They get to brush the animals and collect eggs,” says Amanda Rankin Barrett, Ranch Manager. More fun comes with hay wagon rides, square dancing and a children’s race on stick horses they’ve created.  Adults bet on them with play money. Accommodations are for 45 in duplex cabins (see https://ranchweb.com/tour/bill-rankin/).

Colorado’s Lost Valley Ranch in the front range of the Rockies welcomes ages 6 and up to walk, trot and even lope under the supervision of trained counselors. Ages 3 to 5 can also be led around on horseback to explore the ranch. “Children learn the true ropes of being cowgirls and cowboys,” explains Stephanie Geary in Guest Services. “Sometimes they ride from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon. Every day the rides are mixed up with games, a creek swim or stories the wranglers tell about the history of Lost Valley.” Scavenger hunts and themed outings challenge imaginations while exploring this ranch world. Cabins with one, two or three bedrooms accommodate up to 85 guests during the summer season (see https://ranchweb.com/tour/lost-valley-ranch/).

Montana’s Nine Quarter Circle Ranch wants parents to feel comfortable fishing and riding while their children are learning the ins and outs of horsemanship with a kid wrangler or spreading their wings playing hide and seek or fishing. “Our Small Fry group (5 and under) can be led around on horses and supervised while parents spend time in the saddle.  One of our gems is our Rough Riders group (ages 6 to 9), which has the individualized attention of our Kiddie Wrangler. They learn skills on horseback, gaining confidence with their peers throughout the week,” underscores Sally Kelsey, co-general manager. Ages 10 and up are paired with horses and group trail rides according to ability levels. Accommodations for 55 are log cabins from one to four bedrooms (see https://ranchweb.com/?s=quarter+circle).

Wyoming’s Paradise Ranch in the Big Horn Mountains has been a dude ranch since 1907. “We get a lot of extended families because the kids are totally taken care of,” says Clay Miller, who is Managing Owner with his wife Leah. “We really emphasize getting the kids – even the teens — outdoors and becoming involved in activities that re-attach them to the outdoors.” One staff person is assigned to teens and three others to younger guests. Under age 6 can enjoy pony rides and older kids are on horses. The ranch can also accommodate infants. Accommodations for 70 are in newly renovated log cabins with up to four bedrooms. For details see https://www.top50ranches.com/ranch-vacations/paradise-ranch

Gene Kilgore publishes three websites, www.top50ranches.comwww.ranchweb.com and www.ranchvacations.com, which focus on what truly is one of America’s most iconic homegrown experiences – the dude ranch vacation.

 

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Top 100 Tennis Resorts and Camps For 2019

May 10, 2019

Tennis Resorts Online has just published its rankings of the Top 100 Tennis Resorts and Camps for 2019. Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina and the Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks at the Gstaad Palace in Switzerland once again ranked as the top resort and top camp respectively.

The rankings are based on reviews submitted by tennis vacationers over the past year. Each was asked to evaluate the properties they knew first-hand on the basis of more than 20 criteria that contribute to a quality tennis experience. Those range from the tennis staff, programming, instruction, game arranging, and junior tennis sessions to such creature comforts as lodging and cuisine and amenities like spa and fitness centers, children’s programs, and other recreation. The staff at Tennis Resorts Online then compiles those reviews, overweighting the tennis elements, to be sure, but factoring in all the criteria to come up with our final rankings. Finally, the overall standings aside, we supplement the Top 100 list by highlighting the top tennis venues in each of 16 categories.

Taken as a whole, this list reflects the differing opinions about what constitutes a “great” tennis resort. The hardcore fanatic eager to spend every waking hour on court has different expectations from the casual player planning to divide his time between the courts, beach, spa, or golf course. Families want to be sure their kids are entertained, on court and off; romantic couples may focus on creature comforts; teams or groups of friends value a customizable program; single travelers hope for an engaging social atmosphere. Because we’re able to solicit the opinions of thousands to tennis players, the rankings reflect that diversity of expectations.

The list is made up of large resorts and small; luxurious properties and modest; 800-room hotels and intimate, 50-room retreats; beach, mountain, and desert settings. What they have in common, however, is that elusive quality we call “tennis atmosphere,” an almost palpable sense of deep-seated enthusiasm for the game of tennis and those who play it. In that sense everyone on the list qualifies a great resort.

 Top 5 Resorts

  1. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina
  2. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, California
  3. Wild Dunes Resort, South Carolina
  4. The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Florida
  5. Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt, Austria

 Top 5 Camps

  1. Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks, Switzerland
  2. PBI Tennis Camp, Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt, Austria
  3. Cliff Drysdale Tennis at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Florida
  4. John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, Texas
  5. New England Tennis Holidays at Sugarbush, Vermont

The complete list can be viewed at tennisresortsonline.com/top100.

France Cruises Offers 25% Select Barge, Riverboat Sailings

March 31, 2019

France Cruises’ barge sails along canals in Burgundy © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The French barge vacations and riverboat cruise specialists, France Cruises, has announced savings of up to 25% off on select sailings and single supplements are waived on luxury canal barge and river boat cruises. These offers are available in a variety of regions for a number of departures during the 2019 season, starting in April and running through September. For example, a seven-day cruise in the Loire region of France is now available at 25% per person, with a discounted cruise fare of just $2,435 per person all inclusive of gourmet meals on board, round trip transfers between Paris and the boat, open bar and daily guided excursions.

Founded in 2001, France Cruises is a US based company specializing in French Barge Vacations and Riverboat Cruises throughout France. Immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of the rivers of France, exploring magnificent views of French riversides: from the exceptional region of Bordeaux to Paris and Normandy on the Seine, from the Loire river castles to the beautiful scenery of the Rhone valley.

For more information visit https://francecruises.com/specials or call 866 498 3920.

 

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