It’s not exactly like getting a room for a song, but it’s close. Several Joie de Vivre hotels offer a free room upgrade to guests who can carry a tune — or try to. One upgrade is awarded each day to the first guest to belt out “Hotel California” or “California Dreamin’ ” or other songs while checking into one of the chain’s Southern California hotels.
The deal: Singing for an Upgrade offers a quirky way to score a perk at the Hotel Erwin inVenice, the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach, Hotel Angeleno in Los Angeles and Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach. Clearly, this deal is subject to availability; no amount of serenading will get you an upgrade if the hotel is full.
Here’s how it works: Each hotel has a song list for guests to choose from. Be the first of the day to sing a song, and you receive a more posh room on the spot.
Don’t for a minute think no one’s going to hear. The hotel makes a video of each singer and posts it on its Facebook page and YouTube. (Check out videos of guest-singers so far.) Note too that posted videos are automatically entered into a “Singing for an Upgrade” contest, in which online voters determine who is the best (or worst?); check the website for rules and prizes, which include free hotel stays.
When: The offer is good until Sept. 30.
Tested: I didn’t sing at any of the hotels, but I did look for availability to see how this deal might play out.
For example, I found a deluxe room for two nights starting Aug. 5 at the Hotel Erwin for an advanced booking rate of $329 plus tax a night. If I were the first singer of the day, and if upgrades were available, I could be sleeping in a room with a partial ocean view that typically starts at $389 plus tax a night. So my singing would save me $60.
Contact: Joie de Vivre website or individual hotels.
The Alps of Transylvania – 8 days from £715 pp
WALKS Worldwide has a new group trip to Romania entitled The Alps of Transylvania. The trip traverses the mighty Fagaras in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, ranked amongst Europe’s best ridge walks. Stunning views throughout are guaranteed and the hike culminates with an ascent of Moldoveanu (2544 metres), the highest peak in Romania. Two days are also spent trekking in Piatra Craiului National Park, home to wolf, bear and lynx, plus there will be a visit to ‘Castle Dracula’ (pictured) at Bran. Departing September 3, the trip costs from £715 pp which includes all ground transportation (including airport transfers), 7 nights’ full-board and the services of a guide. Walks Worldwide can also book flights on request. Call 0845 301 4737, visit www.walksworldwide.com.
Mana Canoe Trail, Zambia
FOR adventurous travellers, allowing guests the closest possible encounters with wildlife on one of the greatest rivers in Africa. This thrilling experience traverses the Mana Pools National Park, through the heart of Mana Pools and along the Zambezi’s shoreline, canoeing past countless hippos. Each of the three nights is spent camping on the banks of the Zambezi, ultimately finishing 65km downstream. The Trail is for reasonably fit guests and is led by an experienced guide. Support vehicles and staff assist guests and set up camp each day. A 3-night Mana Canoe Trail, a Wilderness Explorations trip, costs from £1,520 per person sharing on a full board basis including return domestic flight from Victoria Falls to Mana Pools. Book through Original Travel (www.originaltravel.co.uk, tel: 020 7978 7333)
Twin-destination Thai hotel offer
DESTINOLOGY are offering the chance of experiencing Amari Boulevard Bangkok and Amari Emerald Cove Koh Chang hotels on one unforgettable tour, from £1,169 per person, based on two adults sharing. Fly from London Heathrow to Bangkok with EVA Airways, and enjoy two nights at the beautiful Amari Boulevard Bangkok Emerald Cove Koh Chang in a superior room (room only basis). After experiencing Bangkok, fly with Bangkok Airways to Trat Airport, to relax for seven nights at the Amari Emerald Cove Koh Chang, in a superior room on a bed and breakfast basis. This includes an extra night; stay for seven nights, pay for six! Book by the June 30 and travel by July 10 to take advantage of this amazing package deal, from £1,169 per person. To book visit www.destinology.co.uk or call 0800 210 0427
Little Paddock (3 nights from £128 pp) wins TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence
LITTLE Paddock, on the edge of the New Forest National Park has been awarded a 2011 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for receiving consistently excellent ratings from its members. Little Paddock is an ‘adults only’ complex comprised of eight cosy, Scandinavian style lodges – each designed for two people. Shared use of two hot tubs, a tennis court and a swimming pool. Fully-equipped for self-catering, the complex’s owners will also deliver meals or breakfast hampers at a supplement. Three-night break in June is from £128 pp (two sharing). To book call 01425 470 889 or visit www.little-paddock.com.
July is for cycling in the Italian Dolomites – from €240 pp (7 nights)
THERE are some great cycling events in the Ladin Valleys of Alta badia (www.altabadia.org) and Val Gardena (www.valgardena.it) high in the Italian Dolomites. July 2 sees the 2nd Sudtirol Sellaronda Hero, Europe’s most demanding mountain bike race – 82km and 4200 vertical metres of up and down or the and on July 3 roads of the 70km Sella Ronda circuit are closed to motor vehicles for cyclists of all ages and standards to enjoy the perfect family fun day out. Alta Badia offers a range of packages including the Mountain Pass package which is available from July to September 18. Prices start from €240 pp (2 sharing) for 7 nights’ BB or self-catering accommodation and including unlimited use of Alta Badia’s 12 chairlifts and the public buses around the Sella massif, for 5 days. Also included is a mountain walk with a guide. For reservations visit www.altabadia.org or email email@example.com.
Save £100pp at Son y Luna, Ibiza on June 25 departures (sleeps 10)
THE villa is an eclectic mix of styles, blending 70’s retro-chic with timeless Far-Eastern inspiration to create an original to create an original and sharp contemporary look. To maximise sea views, the main ground-floor rooms open onto a bougainvillea-draped terrace the length of the house. Book Villa Son Y Luna with Coastline Villas, from £71.5 per person, saving up to £100pp. Price based on 10 sharing. This includes welcome pack, twice weekly maid service, and change of linen, bath and beach towels daily bread, croissant and newspaper delivery and complimentary concierge service. Subject to availability. Visit www.coastline.co.uk or call 0844 557 1020.
Stay for a week in a top Sorrento hotel for just £699pp
CITALIA (0844 415 1956, www.citalia.com) is offering a 7 night stay at the 4* Grand Vesuvio in Sorrento for just £699pp. The hotel is one of Citalia’s most popular. The deal includes half board, a free daily bottle of wine with dinner, transfers and flights from Gatwick. Departs July 8. Dates throughout June and July and regional departures available. To book now visit www.citalia.com, or for further information of other dates and breaks available, call 0844 415 1956.
New Sri Lanka luxury coastal eco spa hotel from £730pppw dinner BB
THE Unique Travel Company is offering seven nights dinner BB at the Maalu Maalu Resort, Sri Lanka’s first luxury eco and family-friendly spa hotel at Passekudah on the tropical east coast, from £730 per person based on two sharing a deluxe chalet for departures during July. Following green guidelines, it’s based on the ethnic style of a traditional fishing village with 50 luxurious chalets designed in Sri Lankan style with cadjan roof covers and wood clad walls, but with elegant and up-to-date interiors and amenities. There are two restaurants, and three bars; chalets also have a private dining deck with 24-hour butler service. The Ayur Vie Spa provides traditional Sri Lankan Ayurvedic therapies. To book call the Unique Travel Company on 0845 417 9052, www.theuniquetravel.co.uk. (Price excludes flights).
Rent Devon Mansion for Big Summer House Party
AT just £57 per person based on 48 sharing for a week’s stay at Nethercott House during August, this must be among the best value places for a big summer family gathering. Owned by Farms for City Children, the huge, self-catering Victorian mansion is at Iddesleigh in the rural heart of Devon. During school terms Farms for City Children provides children from inner city areas with a week of farming, but Nethercott can be let through Helpful Holidays at other times. There’s a games room, seasonal vegetables and fruit can be picked from the walled garden. Near the Tarka Trail. Nethercott House is available for a week’s stay from Friday, August 5, 12, 19 and 26, priced at £2,716; for details call 01647 434063 or look and book online at www.helpfulholidays.com searching for ref J102.
SANTA MONICA, Calif., June 15, 2011 — /PRNewswire/ — On June 21st, Savings.com, the premier destination for online coupons and coupon codes, will kick off the summer season with exclusive travel deals in its first official Savings.com Travel Spotlight. Consumers can visit www.savings.com/travelspotlight to check out the very best deals on summer travel, enter to win an ultimate travel giveaway from Travelocity valued at $2500, and interact with the Savings.com Travel DealPros to get tips and advice on how to get the most for their money this summer travel season.
“While the economy and gas prices are having an impact on daily life, they aren’t going to keep people home,” said Loren Bendele, CEO of Savings.com. ”Our research shows that this year, more than 80% of consumers plan to take a summer vacation and finding a good deal on hotels, rental cars, flights and attractions is the most important factor for more than 40% of vacationers.* That is why we created this event to kick off summer and give our community a one-stop destination to get all the best travel deals and advice on the Web.”
Some of the limited time offers and promotions shoppers will find include:
- An ultimate travel giveaway from Travelocity valued at $2500
- 40% off print and digital books at Lonely Planet
- 30% off on packing aids and in-flight comfort categories at Magellan’s
- $50 off any online reservation at bedandbreakfast.com
Shoppers can also visit Savings.com at anytime throughout the summer to find ongoing exclusive deals from popular travel sites such as Travelocity and Orbitz to help them save on their next booking.
In addition to exclusive deals, visitors to Savings.com on June 21st can participate in a live Q A with Savings.com DealPros®, Savings.com’s elite team of savvy shopping experts and bloggers. Shoppers can ask their burning travel questions and receive expert tips and advice on how to save this summer and get the best deals.
For those unable to participate in the live Q A, the Savings.com Answers page is another great resource. Answers is the first-ever service that allows consumers to ask a question about shopping and saving and receive high-quality answers and relevant coupon codes from Savings.com. Shoppers can also follow the DealPros by visiting the Savings.com’s blog, Blog Save, one of the most popular personal finance blogs on the Web.
“Having fun this summer doesn’t mean having to spend tons of money,” said Bendele. ”By taking advantage of the right deals and seeking advice from experts like our DealPros, you can get all the resources you need to help you enjoy your summer vacation while staying on budget.”
Savings.com helps consumers save money every day. The premier online savings Web site and community has the best deals for everything shoppers want, making it easier than ever to search, find and share big savings from top brands and stores. The company’s dedicated team of DealPros® scours the Web to find top offers in every category from designer clothes and baby gear to big-screen TVs and gourmet food. The site’s community of members and savers rates each deal to make sure users find the best stuff first eliminating the need to spend time sifting through expired coupons and coupon codes that don’t work. Savings.com is a safe haven of high-quality, reliable deals. Savings.com’s sister site, Savoo.co.uk, offers top coupons and deals to UK-based shoppers.
*Sources: American Automobile Association, American Express, Savings.com, Tripadvisor.com
JERUSALEM – When night falls on the Old City of Jerusalem this week, the walled enclave sheds its role as one of the world’s most contested pieces of real estate to become a luminous carnival of art installations and performances.
Jerusalem’s Festival of Lights, now in its third year, illuminates an area known more for religious friction and clashing political claims than for art or nightlife. Most nights, the Old City’s stone alleyways are dimly lit, peopled mainly by small numbers of tourists, Palestinian merchants and children, and ultra-Orthodox Jews headed to or from religious studies or prayers.
But for seven nights, until June 22, a shining 10-foot-tall (3-meter-tall) puppet named Meir — Hebrew for “the illuminator” — entertains visitors with antics like trying to scale the wall of the moat at the Tower of David, used by conquerors across the millennia as a fortress, barracks and gun emplacement.
Dozens of neon bars hanging from a 36-foot-high (11-meter-high) willow tree made of wire, and great dandelions of wire and light, light up the walls at Jaffa Gate, the portal of sand-colored hewn stone blocks that is one of the eight gates in the Old City walls. Magical creatures are projected on to the newly renovated facade of another entrance, Damascus Gate.
Alice Honig, 25, from Ontario, Canada, said the lights of the festival have allowed her to see things that ordinarily would have escaped her notice.
“During the day it’s so hot and noisy you miss small things, because you wouldn’t stop and look,” she said. “It opens people’s eyes to things that you would walk by otherwise.”
In what some might interpret as a commentary on Jerusalem, one performance has acrobats suspended on the Old City walls enacting a war between two ancient civilizations to control light.
It’s not clear who represents light and who represents darkness: That’s left for the viewer to decide.
The festival is an outgrowth of Mayor Nir Barkat’s aim to turn the city into a world-class tourist destination, while portraying Jerusalem — holy to three religions and fiercely contested by Palestinians and Israelis — as an ordinary municipality with garbage strikes, movie theaters, zoning issues and street festivals.
But the Old City resists that mundane vision. Distrust, violence and conflicting claims of sovereignty over the eastern sector of Jerusalem, where the walled city lies, make it one of the hotspots of the Mideast conflict. The Old City is home to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the holiest sites in Christianity, as well as to the sensitive compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
The festival’s artistic director and founder, Eduardo Hubscher, an Argentine-born Israeli, says the festival tries to steer clear of political messages. He calls it a collaborative effort by Christians, Jews and Muslims, mounted in parts of the Old City revered by all three religions.
The festival’s overarching aim is to bring people to old Jerusalem after hours, and to create a new venue for tourism, Hubscher said.
“It’s safe at night and it’s a different place — there is a romantic part here,” he said.
Allan Gale, 59, a visitor from Detroit, agreed.
“This is a great idea because it brings people to the Old City at night. Instead of avoiding it because of fear, you are attracted to it to enjoy the art,” he said.
Summer inspires vacations like no other season. All that demand can mean higher prices, but we’ve found five great destinations that deliver bargain appeal and plenty of fun. We’ve found real, available prices for summer to make sure these hot spots are as budget-friendly as they claim. Like all deals, these are sure to expire; however, a little research on your part can yield similar results when you’re ready to book.
Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau With spots in both Hotwire’s Travel Value Index and Budget Travel’s hottest budget destinations list, Houston earns top marks for its good value on hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
With spots in both Hotwire’s Travel Value Index and Budget Travel’s hottest budget destinations list, Houston earns top marks for its good value on hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
New York City
New hotels all over the city, airfare sales, and a bundle of free and cheap events throughout summer take a bite out of the Big Apple’s usual high prices this summer.
Orbitz recently named New York City a top spot for summer, with hotel rates down four percent year-over-year. In fact, hotel growth is a major trend right now: Accommodations have increased by nearly a quarter since 2008, and new midscale and budget hotel brands are bringing greater affordability to the city this summer. For instance, the 699-room Yotel New York Times Square West—the city’s largest new hotel in more than a decade—opened in early June. At press time, there were July and August midweek and weekend introductory rates from $149 a night, including continental breakfast and Wi-Fi. More deals are available at new properties beyond Manhattan: The trendy Aloft Brooklyn opens on June 9, and its Better Tomorrows deal (promo code ZB4) takes 40% off the price of a second night, bringing the cost of a July weekend stay to about $150 a night.
The city’s tourism website, nycgo.com, is promoting more ways to save. With Third Night Free, you can stay three nights for the price of two at 15 different luxury hotels. The promotion runs from June 27 to September 5. Select hotels in Lower Manhattan are offering special weekend rates and discounts on activities through September 6. Around the city, free events and attractions include concerts, ferry rides, and art exhibitions. Restaurant Week, which runs from July 11 to 24, means you can lunch at a New York City hot spot for just $24.07 or have dinner for $35.
This September marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. After a dedication ceremony on September 11, the 9/11 Memorial opens to the public on September 12. Entry is free, but reservations are required.
Houston may be hot, but it’s also a bargain this summer—and it’s got the accolades to prove it. With spots in both Hotwire’s Travel Value Index and Budget Travel’s hottest budget destinations list, the city earns top marks for its good value on hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
Thanks to the United-Continental merger, Houston is now the largest hub of the largest airline in the world. Pair that with robust service from other airlines—including Southwest, with 135 daily departures—and you’ve got options, as well as competition for travel dollars. At press time, both Continental and United were running Houston sales. A late-July, round-trip flight from Denver on Continental totaled $158, including taxes and fees.
Hotels.com’s price index put Houston’s average hotel room price per night in 2010 at $107, below the U.S. average of $114. Not only does that make for more affordable stays this summer, it also allows travelers to get more for their money. For instance, at press time, a late-June stay at the Courtyard Houston Galleria was $100 per night, or, for $120, the Romance Package including breakfast for two and a bottle of Champagne. The value factor also puts more upscale experiences within reach of budget travelers. At the Alden Houston, a luxury property that SmarterTravel sister site Trip Advisor ranks #22 out of 425 hotels in the city, we found advance-purchase rates of $131 per night.
In Houston sightseeing and sticking to a budget go hand in hand. An impressive 10 of the 17 museums in the Houston Museum District offer free entry. And even attractions that charge admission can be visited at a discount: Houston’s CityPass program is the least expensive in the nation. Visitors can get tickets to five popular attractions—including the Houston Zoo and Museum of Fine Arts—for $39, 41% less than the la carte prices.
Florida’s Fort Myers promises an affordable summer vacation of white-sand beaches and lazy days of shelling, swimming, and kayaking. Nearby Sanibel and Captiva islands, once hailed by Condé Nast Traveler as “destinations approaching perfection,” round out the offerings. Pair airfare deals offering solid value with hotel offers around the region, and you’ve got a sunny summer bargain.
On the airfare front, Continental had a mid-July sale fare from New York of $239 round-trip, including taxes and fees, available at press time. USA3000 had a mid-August round-trip fare of $231 from Chicago, including taxes and fees. And Bing’s fare predictor suggests that, at least on these routes, fares could drop further in the next week or so, offering even better value.
Hotels around the region are boosting their appeal by dropping prices for the coming season. At the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort Spa in Fort Myers, we found a rate of $152 per night for a mid-July stay that includes a car rental, a daily $25 gas card, and either a bike or kayak rental. With the Escape to Estero Island promotion, rates start at $99 per night at four beach resorts, and the fourth night is free. For more summer specials around the region, browse a list of the latest hotel offers.
Whether you’re looking for Costa Rica on the cheap or simply want to get the most out of every vacation dollar, you’ve got options this summer. Late spring through the end of fall is the country’s wet season, but most people find the episodes of tropical rain to be a small price to pay for the smaller crowds and discounted prices.
At press time, mid-July fares on JetBlue started at $129 each way from Orlando (putting the round-trip total, with taxes, at $338). We found a total fare of $318 from Spirit from Fort Lauderdale with similar July dates, though keep in mind Spirit charges for carry-ons and the first checked bag, while JetBlue does not. Beyond Florida departure cities prices rise, but good deals exist. With Continental’s current sale, a mid-July flight between Los Angeles and Liberia, Costa Rica, came to $605, including taxes and fees. While they’re not currently running sales, American and Delta often discount Latin America routes, so they’re worth a look before you book. And though it’s a bit more expensive, we found July nonsale first/business class fares on American from San Francisco for $1,121 round-trip, including taxes and fees.
Bundled air-and-hotel packages from providers offer another option for keeping costs low, especially from departure cities where la carte airfare is higher. Pleasant Holidays had a mid-August five-night stay at a mountain lodge plus round-trip airfare on Continental from Washington, D.C., for $940 per person, including taxes and fees. CheapCaribbean.com’s package with airfare from Washington, D.C., and a five-night stay at an all-inclusive beach resort came to $1,100 per person, including taxes and fees.
Looking for cheaper? Volcano-facing rooms with balconies at the Arenal Paraiso Resort and Spa are $89 per night during July and August. And community-based rural-tourism organization ACTUAR offers 12-day guided trips for around $88 per day for two people.
In the Biggest Little City, affordability comes in large and small packages. New air service, affordable hotel rates, and tons of free and cheap activities make Reno a bargain this summer. Reno’s emerging identity as a cultural and outdoors destination ensures that even nongamblers have plenty to do.
New and upcoming air service puts Reno within easy reach of more of the country. In February United started service from Houston, and later this summer, Delta will launch service from Minneapolis.
The savings start early in a trip, since most of the downtown hotels offer free shuttles from the airport. Weeknight stays in late June start at $60 at the Atlantis and $65 for July weeknight stays at the Peppermill. Weekends can be affordable as well: At the Eldorado Hotel Casino, we found weekend rates in August for $89 per night.
Start factoring in all the free and inexpensive activities this summer and Reno’s bargain star really shines. Case in point: Most of the 400 events that take place during the city’s annual arts festival, Artown, are free or low cost. Music, dance, theater, and other performances and exhibitions run throughout July. Events range from break dancing workshops to a performance by Yo-Yo Ma. Meanwhile, the Aces Ballpark, close to downtown, offers the chance to catch a minor league Reno Aces baseball game for just $6.
SmarterTravel.com features expert travel advice and unbiased coverage of travel deals.
© 2011 Smarter Travel Media LLC. All Rights Reserved
PHILADELPHIA – The parents of an 11-year-old girl who fell to her death from near the top of a Ferris wheel on the Jersey shore said Tuesday that they believe a better restraint system would have saved her life.
Abiah Jones’ parents, Byron and Twanda Jones, spoke Tuesday at a news conference at a Philadelphia law firm that has begun investigating Ferris wheel safety worldwide. Earlier in the day, they appeared on NBC’s “Today” show to talk about what happened to their daughter. They said they haven’t decided whether to file a legal action yet, but lawyer Larry Bendesky said he’s looking into who could have been responsible for the girl’s death.
The family says it wants to prevent other Ferris wheel accidents — and a better safety system is a key to doing so.
“Click it or ticket,” Byron Jones said. “You have to wear a seat belt in a car. You’re 150 feet in the air.”
The tragedy happened June 3, when Morey’s Piers in Wildwood was hosting groups from several schools. Abiah, just finishing fifth grade at the PleasanTech Academy Charter School in Pleasantville, N.J., was awarded the trip with her school because she had top grades, her family said.
While she liked the Boardwalk and the beach, it was her first time on a Ferris wheel, her parents said.
A preliminary state report issued on Monday found that she was alone in a Ferris wheel gondola and that the adjacent gondolas were empty when she fell from near the ride’s peak, about 160 feet from the ground.
The report said a video showed part of her fall but did not show the beginning, which might have answered the key question: How did she come out of the gondola?
The state said the gondola had no mechanical problems, its doors worked properly and the railings around the seat were in sound condition. Someone could have fallen while kneeling or standing in a seat but probably not while sitting in it, the state report found.
The Ferris wheel, known as the Giant Wheel, was closed after the girl’s fall and remains closed.
As part of Monday’s report, New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs recommended two new requirements for Ferris wheels.
Morey’s Piers says one of them — that children be at least 4 feet, 6 inches tall to ride alone — is already policy at its amusement parks. The other would set a minimum of two riders per car.
Will Morey, president of Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks, said in emailed responses to questions from The Associated Press that the company would comply with the additional state recommendations but that he doesn’t believe restraints are needed on Ferris wheels.
“They have very mild forces, and we believe that restraints are not necessary to counteract these mild forces,” he said.
The parents of Abiah, the second of four children in the family, said she was a bookworm who was already talking about going to college.
Twanda Jones said she got a frantic call that her daughter was in an accident. As she rode with a cousin to Wildwood, she spoke with a school official when she heard what parents fear most.
“I asked them: Was she alive?” she said. “They told me, `No.’”
PITTSBURGH – A US Airways employee was arrested in Pittsburgh after allegedly stowing away on an earlier flight from Florida to North Carolina, authorities said.
The employee was arrested shortly before noon on Tuesday after getting off a flight at Pittsburgh International Airport, Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He did not release the man’s name.
The Transportation Security Administration says it’s investigating whether the employee improperly used his airport credentials to get on a flight traveling from Tampa, Fla. to Charlotte, N.C. Police said he was spotted leaving the cargo area there.
The employee’s airport access credentials were revoked pending the outcome of the investigation.
Moffatt says the employee apparently had a ticket for the flight to Pittsburgh. He says the man asked to be taken for a psychiatric evaluation after being taken into custody.
If the employee is found to have improperly used airport credentials, the TSA could impose severe civil penalties.
Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the nation, is getting some special attention after its condition was criticized in a recent New York Times article.
State parks officials say they’re launching a three-part plan to improve the 126-year-old park along the brink of Niagara Falls.
Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said Tuesday extra crews are being dispatched to complete spring cleaning that was delayed by the rainy spring.
She says the agency will also expedite $3 million in upgrades to the park’s aging facilities and identify other priorities.
The announcement comes nearly three weeks after a Times travel story described the park as “shabby” and “underfinanced.”
The park, opened in 1885, is the most-visited in New York’s state parks system, attracting 8 million people a year.
This was an unlucky year to get lucky in the lottery for Yosemite High Sierra Camps reservations. The five seasonal camps, assembled each year at high elevations in the park’s spectacular back country, were supposed to open as early as this month, but they have been delayed by this year’s mighty Sierra snowpack.
“We’ve pushed the dates back four times, starting about a month ago,” said Lisa Cesaro, spokeswoman for DNC Parks Resorts at Yosemite, the concessionaire that operates hotels and back country camps in the park.
That means the winners of this year’s lottery who had reservations for some early dates are being notified that their trips have been canceled.
Here’s the 411:
Latest revised opening dates: July 15 for Glen Aulin, July 22 for May Lake, July 28 for Vogelsang and Merced Lake and Aug. 3 for Sunrise. Also, Tuolumne Meadows Lodge is expected to open July 8 and White Wolf Lodge on July 15.
What to do? Guests whose reservations were canceled (or might be canceled) can choose to either receive a refund or rebook later in the season, Cesaro said. Those with later reservation dates should sit tight; they may not have to change their plans. And those without reservations who want to go, no matter when the camps open, can check on post-lottery openings.
The lottery: More than 3,800 people entered the 2011 high camps lottery in hopes of scoring a reservation at the hike-in, dorm-style canvas tents, which come with two hot meals a day and cost from $145 to $151 per person a night. Just 850 reservations were made this year, Cesaro said, but as yet, not one camp has been constructed.
What’s next? Cesaro said the trails and camping areas would need to be snow-free before tent cabins would be constructed and guests allowed access. It takes about 3½ weeks to prepare the lodges and set up the camps for summer guests, officials say.
Tioga Road reopening: Trail heads for the high camps start from Tioga Road, which is scheduled to open at 8 a.m. Saturday. But hiking in the area, park officials said, remains “extremely limited” because of snow and ice.
Contact: Yosemite High Sierra Camps, (801) 559-4909
Summer is here and as temperatures begin to soar, you may be looking for a relaxing beach getaway.
This week’s travel deals will help you save big on oceanside resorts and hotels, perfect for family-friendly vacations or a couple’s retreat.
Looking to entertain the kids AND relax on a pristine beach?
Head to Florida’s gulf coast , where travelers can save 50 percent on rates between June and September — even holiday weekends!
The Residence Inn Fort Myers Sanibel boasts a comfortable atmosphere perfect for families and even includes free hot breakfast for as low as $64 per night.
Want a more romantic rendesvous?
The Ala Moana Hotel in Waikiki is offering rates up to 40 percent lower than comparable resorts and is located near shopping, entertainment and stunning beaches, all perfect for a couple’s stay.
The hotel is also located just moments from the popular Ala Moana Beach Park, a perfect spot for surfing and swimming.
If you’re looking to escape to an even more exotic locale, there’s another deal perfect for you — in Jamaica!
The adults-only Breezes Resort, Spa Golf Club – Runaway Bay is offering 40 percent off regular rates for travel from June through August.
The all-inclusive resort has extensive free activities, including water and land sports perfect for adventurous travelers.
Looking for even more of this week’s best travel deals? Visit Travelzoo .
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