Fly Direct Nonstop from NYC to Lake Tahoe–Season Extended!

Boasting some of the best spring skiing conditions in the entire country, numerous Lake Tahoe ski resorts have announced they will extend their operating seasons to take advantage of the plentiful snowpack. A fitting way to cap off a season that began ahead of schedule in early November and has amassed season snowfall totals of more than 450 inches, the 2015-16 “Godzilla” El Niño winter in Lake Tahoe will go down as one of the longest seasons on record with chairlifts turning for nearly seven months. With many resorts still reporting summit base depths well over 100 inches, the winter season in Lake Tahoe is far from over with all major Lake Tahoe ski resorts planning to operate through mid-April and numerous resorts announcing they will extend their seasons. Heavenly Mountain Resort now plans to stay open through April 24, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe will remain open through May 8 and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is aiming to remain open through May 30, conditions permitting.  The following is a list of projected closing dates for Ski Lake Tahoe resorts (conditions permitting, subject to change):

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows: May 30
Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe: May 8
Heavenly Mountain Resort: April 24
Kirkwood Mountain Resort: April 17
Northstar California: April 17
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort: April 17
Homewood Mountain Resort: April 10
Sugar Bowl Resort: TBD

Springtime in the High Sierra brings together a perfect blend of sunny skies, moderate temperatures and snow-covered slopes with the cobalt blue waters of Lake Tahoe itself serving as a stunning backdrop. The spring skiing scene is synonymous with free concerts, slope-side celebrations, whacky competitions and a palpable party atmosphere that regularly spills over into the neighboring casinos and nightclubs offering 24/7 nightlife and Vegas-style entertainment.

The Reno-Tahoe International Airport continues to add new nonstop flights making it both easy and affordable to get to the slopes in Lake Tahoe this spring. Southern Californians can choose from eight daily nonstop flights out of LAX (Allegiant is planning to add a ninth in early June) as well as new direct service from Orange County’s John Wayne Airport with fares starting as low as $77. Additional nonstop service is slated to begin from Long Beach Airport this summer.

East Coast based skiers and snowboarders can take advantage of new nonstop flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York with one-way fares currently as low as $99. The Reno-Tahoe International Airport now offers more than 100 daily nonstop flights from major gateway airports with one-stop service available from almost anywhere in the world.

Boasting more resorts in close proximity than any other winter destination in North America, Lake Tahoe continues to best other U.S. ski regions in terms of variety, accessibility and affordability. Value-minded travelers can take advantage of unbeatable stay-and-ski packages this spring season with per person rates starting as low as $85. To book an unforgettable spring getaway to Lake Tahoe this season, please visit SkiLakeTahoe.com for vacation planning tips and deals on both lift tickets and lodging.

Carnival’s Fathom Will Be the First to Cruise US to Cuba on May 1, 2016!

Cuban approval paves way for Carnival Corporation through its Fathom brand to operate historic full-week sailings from the U.S. to Cuba starting in May 2016. Announcement makes history with Carnival Corporation becoming first cruise company to be approved to sail from the U.S. to Cuba — and told it will become the first to sail in over 50 years

Welcome to Cuba: Carnival cruises will now include Havana in their 2016 roster.

Welcome to Cuba: Carnival cruises will now include Havana in their 2016 roster.

Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest leisure travel company, today announced that Cuba has granted approval for the company to begin travel to Cuba starting on May 1, 2016. Following U.S. authorization granted in July 2015, Carnival Corporation is now cleared to operate the 704-passenger MV Adonia to Cuba through its newest brand Fathom. This marks the first time in over 50 years a cruise ship is approved to sail from the United States to Cuba.

Cuban authorities from Havanatur Celimar, various other agencies and Carnival Corporation today signed agreements enabling cruising by Carnival Corporation to Cuba.

“Our Carnival Corporation and Fathom brand teams have worked closely with Cuba throughout this process and we are thrilled to begin regular sailings to Cuba from Miami starting on May 1, 2016,” said Tara Russell, president of Carnival Corporation’s new Fathom brand. “We have been told that we will be the first cruise line to sail from the U.S. to Cuba with our historic inaugural sailing.”

“We are excited about Cuban approval and are ready to take travelers there through an extraordinary guest experience on the beautiful MV Adonia,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “This is a historic opportunity, and we know there is pent-up demand amongst Americans who want to experience Cuba. We believe there is no better way to experience so much of Cuba in seven days. Everyone who sails with us with Fathom to Cuba will have a very special, rewarding and enriching experience with our Fathom brand.”

Fathom Cuban itineraries feature three ports of call

During each sailing, Carnival Corporation through its Fathom brand initially will visit Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, three ports of call for which Carnival Corporation has obtained berthing approval.

As part of this historic sailing in this inaugural year, travelers will enjoy an exciting Cuban experience and will sail aboard the 704-passenger MV Adonia, where they can choose to partake in onboard experiences, including Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired music and film options, as well as Cuban-inspired menu options. Special onboard programming will include a wide variety of activities covering an array of interests, ranging from an orientation to Cuba’s history, customs and culture, to geographic-inspired entertainment, to casual and fun personal enrichment activities, to conversational Spanish lessons, to guided sessions with the Fathom team.

“We are humbled and honored to offer a one-of-a-kind Cuban experience to our travelers,” said Russell.

Seven-day itineraries on Carnival Corporation’s Fathom brand depart from PortMiami on Sundays at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The ship will arrive at its first destination, Havana, the following morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. The MV Adonia returns to its homeport, PortMiami, at 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time Sunday.

Prices for seven-day itineraries to Cuba start at $1,800 per person, excluding Cuban visas, taxes, fees and port expenses and including all meals on the ship, onboard experiences and several on-the ground activities. Prices will vary by season.

To secure a spot on future sailings, a $600 per person deposit is required for all cabin categories and occupancy levels. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. To reserve a spot on future sailings, travelers may contact their travel professional or call 1-855-9Fathom. Learn more at http://www.fathom.org/.

Disconnect with a Private Sailing Expedition

Sailing in the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Sailing in the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Vacations are among the most important recreational activities we have. They represent a time away from the demands of a job or school, and they provide family time that generates wonderful memories to last a lifetime.

After a few years of trying different options for travel, you may have reached an impasse and find it hard to get inspired about any of the choices before you. That is the time to go off-script and try something wonderfully new and unique.

If the thought of feeling your feet on boat carpet instead of a hard hotel floor sounds appealing to you, a private sailing expedition might be just the cure for the vacation monotony you’re experiencing.

We’re not talking about a high-cost excursion here. You will operate the boat yourself, so there’s no staff to charter or language barrier with the captain. And you’ll find that a rented sailboat can make for some amazing vacation experiences.

Traffic Is A Distant Memory

One of the great inconveniences of travel is all the other people who are traveling too–or going to work, or going to the store, or whatever. When you have to get out on

Chartering a sailboat is one of the best ways to get unplugged.

Chartering a sailboat is one of the best ways to get unplugged.

the highway among thousands of other cars, things can become congested and your trip can become a headache.

A private sailing expedition gives you a lane-free route between any two points of your choosing. If you see other marine traffic in a certain area, you can navigate around it and keep up your pace while you have the wind and the sunlight that you need. If you can chart a more meandering path to your destination and take in some beautiful sights, you can expect your time calculations to hold true. Traveling on the water is a whole different world from automobile and even air travel.

Lodging Is Already Covered

Choosing a hotel, sight unseen, is one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in travel. You expect your lodging to be clean, spacious, and stocked with the amenities you were promised, but too many times we find this not to be the case.

With a private sailboat, you can sleep on board if you wish, rocked to sleep by the gentle movement of the water. (And if the water isn’t so gentle, you can always dock and seek land-based lodging.) This eliminates the constant packing and unpacking required with multiple hotel stops, and it guarantees you availability and quality of a room each and every night.

The Itinerary Is Yours

Another way that a sailing vacation breaks you out of your old travel thinking is through its incredible flexibility. With the water before you and only a chart to drive your plans, you are free to zigzag wherever you want. There are no other passengers trying to reach a consensus on a lunch stop, no pre-built trip schedule overseen by a hard-charging tour guide. It’s up to you to spend as much or as little time as you wish at any destination you choose.

Even the most luxurious hotels and inspiring destinations sometimes stand amid decaying cities with honking horns and noisy neighbors. On the water, the scenery is always beautiful. (And if it’s not, you simply drop your mooring and find some scenery that is.) You are quite literally the captain of your ship, and if your family can agree on where to go, you can go there.

Summer after summer of long highway treks to worn-out destinations can work against the very purpose of family vacations. Finding an exciting and different way to spend time together, such as on a sailboat, can revive your desire to be together, not just on vacation, but year-round.

Sweet! The National Maple Syrup Festival in Brown County, Indiana

Maple mania has officially struck Brown County as the National Maple Syrup Festival is fast approaching! The fun, sticky, and oh so sweet Festival returns to Brown County for a second year, March 5-6.Originating in Medora, Indiana, in 2010, the Festival moved to Brown County in 2015. Geographically, Indiana holds the southern and westernmost position in the United States’ Maple Sugar Belt meaning as winter gives way to spring the sap flows first in Indiana’s maple stands. As Indiana’s most densely forested county, Brown County is an ideal location for the National Maple Syrup Festival as it is rich in natural resources, home to a wide variety of maple trees, and reflects the pioneering essence and history of maple sugar production.

A grand celebration of all things maple, the Festival will bring together maple sugar producers and hobbyists, maple syrup connoisseurs, and visitors of all ages for a weekend full of activities and events. From live sugaring demonstrations and guided hikes to warm maple syrup flights, kids activities, a pancake breakfast, and more, there is something for everyone to enjoy at the National Maple Syrup Festival.

New to the 2016 Festival is Tap the Town on February 27. Taking place the weekend before the Festival, this hands-on experience provides guests with the unique opportunity to tap their own maple tree in the Village of Nashville! Tap the Town at Creekside Retreat includes a maple sugaring program with brunch beginning at 11 a.m. The event also will include a visit to Hinkle-Garton Farmstead, a commemorative bottle of pure Indiana maple syrup, and tickets to the National Maple Syrup Festival on March 5-6

With the sap freely flowing, maple mania will continue the following weekend at the National Maple Syrup Festival, March 5-6. This year Festival headquarters will be at the Brown County State Park. Not only will festival guests learn the basics of maple syrup and the sugaring process, they also will be able to see for themselves how it is done.

There is no doubt about it, Brown County has been struck with maple mania. From Tap the Town and the National Maple Syrup Festival to Indiana Maple Weekend, there is definitely something sweet happening in Brown County. Come check it out for yourself. It is guaranteed to be a memorable maple experience!

More information on Brown County’s maple-related events, including tickets to Tap the Town and the National Maple Syrup Festival, are available online at www.browncounty.com/national-maple-syrup-festival or by calling 812-988-7303.

Niagara Wine Country Has Lots to Offer, In the Winter Too!

 

Niagara Wine Country

Niagara Wine Country

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, CANADA. — The vineyards may be dormant under a winter frost, but Niagara wine country remains a hot spot in the chilly air.

No matter the season, the alluring romance of Niagara wine country is a unique experience. From the wine to the food, the people to the events, there is no shortage of items to fill up your itinerary.

“Far from the bustle of a busy urban life and removed from the traditional tourist hubs, a wine country vacation, even if only for a day trip, is truly a quaint escape to a place where the people are friendly and the wine is exquisite,” says Marcel Morgenstern, a Sommelier and Director of Sales at PondView Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. “What happens in Niagara wine country is a story worth telling.”

Planned properly, a Niagara wine country excursion can be a diverse experience that takes in all that the region has to offer, and with the strength of the U.S. dollar offers exceptional value. When coming to Niagara, Marcel puts the following on the must-see and must-do list:

  • The unparalleled scenery. Whether at the iconic Niagara Falls, along the scenic Niagara Parkway, in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake or in a vineyard, the backdrops and picturesque landscapes are unique unto themselves.
  • The bed & breakfasts. While the major hotel chains dot the Niagara Falls skyline, a stay in a quaint bed and breakfast adds to the allure of your trip. It’s quiet, cozy and comfortable and relaxing.
  • The culinary scene. Niagara College has a culinary school that is quite literally pumping out talent that is cooking away in restaurants, bistros, hotels and wineries across the region. The focus is on local food, and it is fantastic.
  • The wineries. It is, after all, wine country. Niagara’s landscape is dotted with more than 100 wineries, most of them independently crafting stunning VQA wines that are on par with anything you will find from around the world. And you can’t miss trying some of Canada’s own Icewine, the rich, sweet dessert wine for which it is world renowned.
  • The breweries. Building on the success of the wineries, Niagara is fostering a burgeoning craft beer culture. Niagara-on-the-Lake alone is home to Oast House Brewers, Silversmith Brewing and the Niagara College Teaching Brewery.
  • The events. Niagara is transformed into a winter wonderland during the Niagara Icewine Festival between January 15th and 31st. On every weekend in February, the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake are hosting Days of Wine and Chocolate, allowing people to explore the decadently sweet and savoury art of wine and chocolate pairing.

Staying Healthy and Safe When You Travel Across the Globe

Stay healthy while traveling

Stay healthy while traveling

Traveling to new and distance locations is a dream for many explorers. You may want to see more of the world than the standard cities that the airlines frequent. Branch out into little-known towns and rural areas on your next vacation. Biking, canoeing and hiking vacations are perfect ways to see the world from a different angle as described through Outdoor Traveler’s blog, for example. However, you need to prepare your group for the trip with some smart traveling tips. Stay healthy and safe on your next vacation by following a few simple steps.

Pack for the Weather

You might hear about the sunny weather at your destination, but unseasonably cold winds are currently plaguing the area. Before you leave home, carefully analyze the prevailing weather at your destination. Most areas have extended forecasts of up to 10 or 14 days. Extreme cold or heat might be affecting the area, so pack the appropriate clothing. If the weather is constantly changing, consider a layered approach. Pack items that you can wear in layers throughout the day. Being too cold or hot during your travels will dampen your spirits and overall experiences in the new land.

Be Aware of Political Issues

Traveling the world means you need to be aware of certain areas that are volatile on a political level. Civil wars, strife and uprisings occur in many countries. Take a look at your destination and read about its current events. If there’s a major political issue concerning the area, you might want to look for an alternative itinerary. The United States government also offers their global assessments on their website. You can look up a certain country and learn about any travel warnings affecting the area. Take all of this information seriously because your trip might be unsafe otherwise.

Read up on Culture

Every corner of the globe has a different culture. In fact, some clothing choices and hand movements are considered taboo in various areas. As you narrow down your destination selections, read about the local culture. Women may need to cover their heads or legs when they enter certain areas, for example. A “thumbs up” hand gesture could be construed as an insult in other regions. When you read about a specific culture, you can be more respectful of the people when you arrive. The trip can be enhanced when you know what to expect with everyday conversations among the locals.

Stick With Bottled Water

Water quality is different in every region. Filtration processes vary, and this fact might make you sick as you travel. Regardless of your destination, always drink bottled water. This water should have a sealed lid so that there’s no possibility that the container’s been refilled with local water supplies. The local water may be technically sanitary, but you can become sick because of certain germs within the liquid. In fact, avoid other drinks that have ice within them. As the ice melts, it becomes tap water that might sicken you too. You want to prevent any gastrointestinal ailments while you explore other lands.

Research Your Destination’s Layout

Although you want to explore a city with a major tourist area, you’re also curious about the lesser-known parts of the region. Go online and research your destination’s layout. Pinpoint the areas that you want to visit as a top priority. Look at possible transportation options, such as taxis, trains or buses. When you’re prepared to move comfortably through the area, you can relax and enjoy the experience. Avoid any areas that are known for criminal activity or other issues, however. Staying safe on vacation means being aware of your surroundings at all times.

Visit Your Doctor

Every region that you explore will have different germs than you’re not accustomed to on an immunity level. When you narrow down your destination choice, visit your doctor for any inoculations designated for that area. Malaria, West Nile virus and several other ailments are often transmitted through bug bites. Ask for all of the vaccines necessary for your destination, and you should be healthy during and after your trip. Ideally, visit your doctor after the vacation so that they can verify that you’re still in good shape.

Open Your Mind

Regions across the world will often have different rules or society habits. Keep an open mind as you step off the airplane and into the new world. Don’t be judgmental or shocked by your surroundings. Chalk up the experience to an unusual surprise. In fact, you should try to speak to the locals as a way to enhance the experience. Take some basic language lessons before you arrive in the area. When you try to speak the language, locals are flattered and help you out as best as they can.

Traveling across the globe does take a substantial investment. Purchase vacation insurance whenever possible. This insurance protects you from financial loss if you can’t make the trip. Illness, work and other factors might cause you to postpone the vacation. Your insurance will allow you to have some flexibility as you save and invest in the exploration of the world.