Travel deals: New York, Boston, Napa Valley

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

New York City: $100 hotel rates during Hotel Week

The holiday crowds are gone, making it the perfect time to visit. Stay Friday, Jan. 6, through Sunday, Jan. 15, deemed the city’s first Hotel Week by a public-relations firm, and find rooms at eight hotels starting at $100 a night. The $100 hotels include the Pod Hotel, Z NYC Hotel, the Hotel @ Times Square and Nyma, the New York Manhattan Hotel. Mention Hotel Week when calling.

Details: The Pod, 212-355-0300; Z NYC, 212-319-7000; the Hotel @ Times Square and Nyma, 800-567-7720.

California: Napa Valley Restaurant Month

Hotels and restaurants in Napa Valley are offering specials throughout January. For example, the Blackbird Inn in Napa is offering a Bon Appetit dining package that includes a one-night stay, a $50 dinner gift certificate and daily breakfast and an afternoon reception. Rates start at $175 per night.


Boston: Museum offer at DoubleTree Suites

The DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Boston is offering a Museum-a-Day package that includes a two-room suite, breakfast and daily admission to a museum for each guest. Package rates start at $239 per night. Participating museums include New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and Boston Children’s Museum. The offer is good through Monday, Oct. 1.

Details: 617-783-0090,

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NJ Transit Deals Through Jan. 3

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

NJ TRANSIT has announced additional holiday service along with a special extension of the Family Super Saver Fare, allowing up to two children ages 5 through 11 to travel free with each customer paying/presenting any valid fare. 

Usually limited to weekends, the Family Super Saver Fare will be in effect continuously through 6 a.m. Tuesday, January 3, on all trains, buses and light rail lines.  This extension is offered in addition to NJ TRANSIT’s policy which allows up to three children who are 4 years old and under to travel free of charge at all times with each passenger paying/presenting any valid fare.

On Saturday, Dec. 31, trains will operate on a weekend schedule, with additional New York-bound trips in the evening on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines.  Buses will operate on a regular Saturday schedule on all lines, with additional service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal offered into the evening on select lines.  Visit for additional details.     

Throughout the New Year’s Eve festivities, extra police will be on hand across the NJ TRANSIT system to ensure the safety of customers.

After midnight New Year’s Day, Sunday, Jan. 1, special late-night trains will operate on most rail lines, and expanded bus service will be provided from the Port Authority Bus Terminal between midnight and 5:30 a.m. on selected routes.  Visit for details.

On New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, trains will operate on a weekend schedule.  In addition, service on the Meadowlands Rail Line is scheduled to operate for the Giants/Cowboys game. Buses will operate on a regular Sunday schedule.

On Monday, Jan. 2, trains will operate on an enhanced weekend schedule, with additional trains to and from New York/Hoboken during “peak periods” on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line.

Travel tips

  • Check Schedules in Advance:  Plan your trip online to take advantage of extra trains and buses. 
  • Travel Early:  From Dec. 27 through Dec. 30, NJ TRANSIT rail lines will operate on a modified weekday schedule.  Avoid the crowds by traveling during the traditional peak-period (6 a.m.-9 a.m.) when ridership is light.  
  • Allow Extra Travel Time:  Traffic congestion during the holidays may affect bus travel times to and from New York City, so customers should plan accordingly.
  • Ticketing:  Purchase round-trip tickets at the start of your trip to speed your return.  Use ticket vending machines or see a ticket agent, if available, to avoid possible surcharges.  Bus customers departing Port Authority Bus Terminal are reminded that tickets must be purchased before boarding the bus.
  • Luggage:  Travel as light as possible. Passengers with luggage or packages should use the overhead racks or designated luggage spaces. On multilevel trains, customers with large bags should use the mezzanine levels at the ends of each car.

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Eaglecrest Ski Area: A Huffington Post Travel Ski Resort Guide

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Eaglecrest Ski Area in Alaska is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Eaglecrest Ski Area, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.

The Basics

Located in Juneau, Alaska, Eaglecrest Ski Area is an ideal location for skiing, because it’s affordable and easily accessible. It’s two hours by plane from Seattle, and 12 miles from downtown Juneau. The Eaglecrest Snow Bus also transports guests from Juneau every day that the resort is open. But price and accessibility are not the only draws; for families, the area’s appeal lies in its small size. Eaglecrest boasts a variety of trails in a range of skill levels, offering something for everyone.

The Mountain

Eaglecrest Ski Area has an elevation of 2,600 feet with a 1,400-foot vertical drop. The average snowfall on the mountain is more than 300 inches, making the need for snowmaking minimal — Eaglecrest produces snow for only 6 percent of the skiable area. Some of the trails at Eaglecrest Ski Area are groomed, creating ideal conditions for skiing throughout the season. The longest run at the resort is 10,560 feet and may not appeal to experienced skiers. Eaglecrest Ski Area generally opens in December and closes in April.

Trails And Lifts

Eaglecrest Ski Area boasts 36 trails: 40 percent are intermediate, 40 percent are difficult and 20 percent are beginner level. This makes the resort a good choice for many types of skiers. Cross-country skiers take advantage of several Nordic trails that include three loops. There are four lifts at Eaglecrest, all of which are double lifts. Night skiing and a variety of lessons are also available.

In The News

Eaglecrest Ski Area is a small and out-of-the-way resort that doesn’t attract the media very often. However, skiers can get deals by flying to the resort on Alaska Airlines by bringing a boarding pass to the Eaglecrest Ski Area for discounts and deals. In 2011, Eaglecrest Ski Area won a marketing award at the National Ski Areas Association Conference for the best Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month Campaign.


A basic lift ticket at Eaglecrest costs $43 for adults, $38 for seniors, $33 for teens and $25 for children. Weekday, weekend/holiday and season passes are also available, with unlimited season passes ranging from $69 for children to $699 for adults. Eaglecrest rents skiers and snowboarders everything they may need on the slopes, with rates starting at $10 for poles, going up to $129 for an adult, five-day full package. For skiers and boarders who need some pointers, the Eaglecrest Ski Area Snowsports School offers a variety of private and group lessons for all ages, ranging in price from $54 to $229.


During a break from the slopes, guests head to the Mountain Lift, located in the Eaglecrest Ski Area’s Day Lodge. The cafe serves a variety of hot and cold drinks, including smoothies, and pastries from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch and breakfast are served at The Eaglecrest Grill from 8:30 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. For other shopping, dining and entertainment options, downtown Juneau is only a short drive from the resort.

WATCH: Eaglecrest Ski Area

Eaglecrest Ski Area features adventurous skiing and snowboarding combined with breathtaking views.

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What’s the deal? This week’s best travel bargains around the globe.

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Colorado’s Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa has a Stay Free-Ski Free offer. Book a four- or seven-night stay on select dates and get the last night free, plus lift tickets for two for the entire stay. For instance, a four-night stay for two people in a slope-side room in early March works out to $1,084 per night (usually $1,445), or $4,336 for the entire stay. Add $20 per night in fees and taxes. Book by April 8; stay Feb. 27-March 8 (four-night offer) or March 18-April 8 (seven-night offer). Info: 800-492-8804,

●With Ski Vermont, newbies can take $29 beginner lessons at any of 13 resorts in January (excluding the holiday period Jan. 14-15). Price includes full-day beginner lift ticket, full-day ski or snowboard equipment rental, and a lesson with a professional instructor. Participating resorts include Smugglers’ Notch, Stowe Mountain, Stratton Mountain, Sugarbush, Killington, Pico Mountain and Mount Snow. By comparison, Stratton’s Learn to Ski program starts at $89. To sign up, e-mail with your name, phone number, Zip code, preferred ski resort and number of students. For general info:

●Eight hotels are holding New York Hotel Week on Jan. 6-15. Rooms will go for $100 (Pod Hotel, Z NYC Hotel, the Hotel@Times Square, Nyma), $200 (Andaz Wall Street, Hyatt 48 Lex) and $250 (Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC, Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC). Taxes are additional. For example, pay $123, with taxes, for a queen-size room at the Pod Hotel (212-355-0300, in Midtown, a savings of about $50. For the Hyatt 48 Lex (888-591-1234, on Lexington Avenue, the special rate is $233, down from $312. You must book directly with the hotel; mention Hotel Week or use the promotional code (HWPR for Hyatt, for example).


●●With Holland America, receive free or reduced charges on pre- or post-cruise hotel accommodations on select Alaska sailings. For example, on the 15-day Dawson Denali cruises from Anchorage to Vancouver, book an oceanview stateroom (from $2,599) and receive a night’s stay for $100 per couple, instead of $312. The room is free for guests who reserve a veranda cabin or above (from $3,299). Taxes included. For Dawson and Denali cruise, deal is valid May-August. Info: 877-932-4259,●


●Lufthansa has a winter sale to several cities in Europe. Best fare is from Newark to Dublin: $507 round trip, including taxes. Book by Jan. 12; travel through March 22. Fares to Ireland on other airlines start at about $580. Info: 800-645-3880,●


●Lindblad Expeditions is offering free round-trip air from New York or Miami to Ecuador on select dates of its Galapagos Islands package. Rate starts at $4,750 per person double for a 10-day voyage on the 96-passenger National Geographic Endeavour and from $5,450 per person double on the 48-passenger National Geographic Islander. Trip also includes two nights in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Add $420 per person for internal air; taxes included. Round-trip air from New York to Guayaquil usually starts at about $700. Upgrade to business class, usually $1,600, is available from New York for $500. Book by March 31; travel on select dates from January through June. Info: 800-397-3348,

●ET African Journeys is offering a special rate from $2,199 per person double on its nine-day Kenyan safari. The More Safari for Less includes round-trip air from Washington Dulles to Nairobi; one night at the Ark Lodge in Aberdare National Park; two nights at Lake Naivasha, with an afternoon walk at the Crescent Island Wildlife Sanctuary and a full-day game drive to Lake Nakuru National Park; two nights in a tented camp in the Masai Mara, plus three half-day safaris and a sundown cocktail event; and meals (six breakfasts, six lunches, five dinners). Add $150 in taxes. Depart March 19, 21, 25, 26 or 28 for the lowest price; also available April and May. By comparison, the Kenya safari package typically costs $3,815. Info: 800-662-5406,

Submit travel deals to Prices were verified at press time Thursday, but deals sell out and availability is not guaranteed. Some restrictions may apply.

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Travel Deals: rise and climb

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Christine Iyer

Corcovado Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. Enjoy an epic two-week trip through South America, from Chile to Brazil, with Bales Worldwide. Getty Images

South America

Crossing the South American continent from Chile to Brazil, this journey by Bales Worldwide takes in the fertile valleys of Chile’s Pacific coast and Iguassa Falls, en route to the Atlantic beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Along the way, visitors will enjoy the rugged landscapes of the Andes, the rich culture of Mendoza and the colonial elegance of Buenos Aires. A highlight of the trip is the journey by train to the peak of Rio’s Corcovado Mountain. The two-week trip costs £2,195 (Dh12,630) per person, including hotel accommodation, most meals, local transport, sightseeing, the services of English-speaking guides, entrance fees to sites and parks, and taxes. International airfare not included. Visit to book.

Travel TipsAdvice

On a budget? Tight schedule? Whatever your quandary, seasoned travellers help you make the most of your destination.

More from Travel

Iraqi Kurdistan

Climb Iraq’s highest peak , the 3,611m Cheekah Dar in the Zagros mountain range of Kurdistan, on this week-long expedition organised by Secret Compass. The adventure travel company has teamed up with mountaineering expert and polar explorer Jon Beswick (he climbed Cheekah Dar in March this year to assess its suitability for guided climbs) for this week-long trip to this lesser-known peak. Base camp is at 3,000m, reached after a two-day hike up a valley from the road at Allanah, east of Erbil. While the ascent is not difficult, with no technical climbing, participants need to be fit, be at least 21 years old and have some trekking experience.

The eight-day trip costs from £1,850 (Dh10,643) per person and includes the services of a mountaineering guide, lessons in basic mountaineering skills on snow and ice, accommodation in a guesthouse in Erbil, all meals, and transport by 4×4. International airfare is not included. Visit for more details.


Stay at the five-star Zitahli Kuda-Funafaru Resort Spa in the Maldives for three nights and get the fourth free with Dnata’s Luxury Hotels package. Zitahli Kuda-Funafaru is located in the Noonu Atoll, to the north of Malé International Airport. The package costs from Dh6,180 per person, including four nights in a deluxe beach villa, based on two sharing, daily breakfast and dinner, return airport transfers by seaplane, complimentary Wi-Fi and taxes. Valid for travel until April 30. Call 04 3642 077 for more information.


Cox Kings has a 15-day “Classical Europe Super Saver” package to a host of countries – the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy and France. The two-week trip costs from Dh8,994 per person, including international economy flights from the UAE, accommodation based on two sharing, airport transfers, most meals, sightseeing and entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary, services of a tour leader, local transport and taxes. Visa fees are not included. Visit or call (toll free) 8000 3570 2470 to book.

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FAA looking into jetliner’s double tire-blowout (AP)

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

DALLAS – U.S. officials are investigating why a Southwest Airlines Co. jet blew two tires during an aborted takeoff in Sacramento, Calif.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said Thursday that the agency hasn’t determined the cause of Tuesday night’s incident.

There were 130 passengers aboard the Seattle-bound 737. No one was injured. Officials closed the runway at Sacramento International Airport but reopened it on Wednesday.

Tires on jetliners can blow out after hitting debris on the runway, from problems with the plane or the tires, or from heavy braking.

Southwest towed the plane off the runway. Katie McDonald, a spokeswoman for Southwest, said Thursday that the Dallas-based airline is working with the FAA to find the cause of the blowout. She said the plane has not been returned to service.

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Vt. reopens last highway destroyed by Irene (AP)

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

STOCKBRIDGE, Vt. – After hundreds of thousands of tons of rock were hauled out and tens of thousands of man-hours were spent, Vermont celebrated the completion of the biggest single engineering challenge following the flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Irene.

Just in time for the new year, and four months after the storm hit, Route 107 between Bethel and Stockbridge was reopened Thursday. The state highway, a major east-west thoroughfare, is the last to reopen after being closed by flooding.

The road’s reopening was marked with a ceremony at a Stockbridge school, where scores of local residents and state officials tossed fluorescent orange baseball caps into the air.

“It will cut our commute time down, it will lessen our trauma of looking at all the damage and the moonscape,” said Stockbridge resident Melissa Thompson, who had to navigate a 70-minute detour to get her son to school and to get to work for the past few months. “We’ll probably miss all the flaggers (who) we got to know on the way. It just means so much to us to not have to make that commute every day.”

Much remains to be done on Route 107 and across the state, but Vermonters used the reopening as a moment to pause and celebrate. Many people are still struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives. The state is just totaling up the bill, and the Legislature is preparing to deal with a variety of Irene-induced, long-term challenges.

The repair of Route 107 posed one of the biggest tests following the storm that left a dozen towns cut off from the outside world for days, damaged or destroyed more than 500 miles of roads and 200 bridges, killed six and reshaped much of the low-lying countryside.

Irene ripped up Vermont on Aug. 28. The downtowns of communities from Whitingham in southern Vermont to Waterbury, just west of Montpelier, were flooded to levels not seen since the state’s epic flood of 1927.

Neale Lunderville, the state’s appointed chief recovery officer, said it would be years before many Vermont families are back to what he calls “a new normal.”

“If we want to have a robust recovery and one that brings us back to a place where we are stronger, smarter and safer than before Irene, we have to continue to remember what Irene did and what we need to do to recover from that,” Lunderville said. “It’s going to take a concerted effort and ongoing attention at high levels in order for us to have a really strong recovery.”

The stretch of highway between Bethel and Stockbridge is one of the state’s major east-west arteries, and sections of the highway were part of the riverbank where the road and the White River pass through a narrow cut in the Green Mountains. Irene’s run through Vermont funneled record volumes of water through that narrow pass, where it tore riverbanks to pieces.

“All of a sudden the road ended and then we were looking at river and mud and what used to be huge sheets of asphalt that had shifted into the river,” said Maine Army National Guard Capt. Norman Stickney, of Gardiner, who arrived five days after the storm. “It was like something fell from the sky and completely crushed all of the asphalt and scooped it away and dumped it into the river.”

In the three-mile section of road that was hardest hit, about 4,000 feet of Route 107 was completely gone, said Vermont Transportation Agency Engineer Eric Foster, who oversaw the rebuilding of the highway. A job that would normally take two years was done in 119 days after the first work crews — the soldiers from the Maine National Guard and other states — arrived.

In addition to the guard, it took two contractors, 250,000 tons of rock, at least 20,000 hours of heavy equipment time, 7,500 feet of guardrail, 38 culverts and 46 companies over 16 weeks to repair the highway, according to information provided by the Vermont Transportation Agency.

The biggest challenge was getting the rocks and other fill material to Bethel. A special “rock train” was used to bring fill from distant quarries before it was unloaded a couple of miles from the work site. The train saved an estimated 6,600 truck trips.

In other parts of the state, officials have said some of the repairs done on the fly to get traffic moving again might have to be redone. That’s not the case for Route 107.

The roadway was built with layers of different sized rock and the banks sloped to withstand another Irene, said Glenn Cairns, of the Windham, N.H., contractor George Cairns and Sons, which brought its specialized equipment — excavators and dump trucks that are up to twice the size of those usually found on Vermont highway projects.

It’s designed to withstand another “Irene, plus two feet,” said Foster.

Both Stickney and Cairn said they were amazed by how grateful Vermonters were despite the challenges they faced.

“Even though these people, their lives were turned upside down, they were friendly,” Cairns said. “They really didn’t mind sitting in traffic waiting for us — the hardship that they went through and everybody was just thankful and waved and smiled.

“They went through a lot. I could understand how they could be bitter, `Why isn’t my road back together?’ But I’ve got to say the people were just extremely friendly and welcoming.”

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Roger Williams exhibit held over in Rhode Island (AP)

December 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A Bible owned by Roger Williams and other items related to Rhode Island’s founding father will be on public display for a few extra weeks.

The free exhibit will remain open at Brown University’s John Hay Library through Jan. 20.

Williams founded Rhode Island in 1636 as a haven for religious tolerance

The collection includes items from Williams’ time and several later pieces of artwork featuring his likeliness. Highlights include a Bible containing Williams’ handwritten translation into a Native American dialect, a copy of the deed of Providence between Williams and a local tribal leader, and a 20th century ashtray bearing a small statue of Williams.

Organizers say they had planned to end the display this month but decided to extend the exhibit due to popular demand.

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