Bargain airfare to Montana

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

For the AJC

Delta Air Lines is throwing a rare one-day sale to a pair of Western destinations that make for an affordable and ideal spring, summer or autumn vacation.

A bargain round-trip rate of $222 is offered to Bozeman, Mont. and $272 to West Yellowstone, Mont.

To qualify, give at least a 21-day advance notice of travel. Trips are permitted seven days a week, based on sale seat availability.

When originating the trip Sundays-Wednesdays, a minimum stay of any three nights is required. Stay a minimum of one Saturday night when originating on other days.

Delta offers a nonstop flight from Atlanta to Bozeman each Saturday and will add an additional Thursday nonstop flight beginning June 7. Service to W. Yellowstone is via a flight connection in Minneapolis-St. Paul or Salt Lake City.

Taxes and fees are additional. Inclusive round-trip rates to Bozeman are $265.20 and $315.20 to W. Yellowstone (these destinations regularly price out near $550 round-trip outside of sale periods).

Now for the not-so-good news. This sale carries no ticket-by date which means the offers could vanish at any moment.

Sale airfares are always subject to change. Every seat on every flight is not offered at the lowest rate.

Since only a limited supply of seats is available, act quickly to make your purchase.

I recommend starting the search for available seats at vs. calling an airline directly. You can also search for the sale at travel Web sites such as Expedia or Travelocity, etc.

Adjacent to the West Entrance of Yellowstone National Park, West Yellowstone is the ideal base for an adventure getaway. Experience the full impact of the nation’s first national park and over two million acres of nature’s best. It’s hard to run out of things to do in this area — from fishing in blue-ribbon trout streams and lakes, hiking miles of trails for a closer look at flowers and wildlife, horseback riding with a western wrangler or a float trip on a gentle river or braving white water.

Bozeman is less than 100 miles north of Yellowstone National Park and is world-renowned for its fishing along the Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone Rivers — all within 30 miles of town. Hikers will have a tough time choosing from the numerous regional trails.

Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.

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If you like Vegas, think Valentine’s Day at the Mandarin

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas is, to me, an island of elegance in the city of seemingly endless hotels. The luxury brand in one of the Strip’s shiny CityCenter high-rises snagged a five-star rating last year from  Forbes Travel Guide. And what better time to check in and check it out than Valentine’s Day?

The deal: I found a few deals for a mid-February stay, depending on how much you want to pay. Note that standard amenities at the Mandarin include free Wi-Fi, gym passes, free morning coffee and tea, and more. (Prices exclude tax and a $24 nightly resort fee.)

–The best rate of the day: $205 for a single night Feb. 13 or 14 in a standard room with king-sized or double bed (Delight Rate).
–The splurge: $500 for a single night Feb. 14 in a standard room (Celebrate the Stars package) that includes two unlimited passes to the Tian Quan Thermal Experiences and a three-course tasting menu for two at the hotel’s Twist restaurant.

When: The Delight Rate is offered daily and subject to availability; the Celebrate the Stars package is good through the end of the year.

Tested: I found availability for a single night on Feb. 14 at the $205 rate ($254 with tax and fee) and the $500 rate ($584 with tax and fee) that comes with the spa and restaurant extras.

As a comparison, best room rates at the Mandarin, particularly on weekends, often start at $225 a night. And the $500 package saves a little on the extras — the tasting menu usually costs $105 per person and the thermal treatment $50 to $60 per person for a pass.

Contact: Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, (702) 590-8888.

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Golden Gate Bridge Festival and more mark landmark’s 75th year

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco turns 75 this year with a birthday bash festival over Memorial Day weekend, a new visitor center and new guided tours. There’s a lot going on (75 events during the year) to mark the day the first car rolled over the bridge on May 27, 1937.

So what’s changed in 7 1/2 decades? It has become San Francisco’s most iconic landmark and the centerpiece of a national parkland flanked by two former U.S. Army posts, Ft. Baker and the Presidio. About 10 million tourists visit the bridge every year, and this year’s festivities will probably boost that number. 

The two-day Golden Gate Festival on May 26 and 27 will feature entertainment and exhibits from the bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. By then, at the south side of the bridge, a new Bridge Pavilion will be open as a visitor center and museum store, the current Round House at the site will become an education center and guided tours lasting 45 minutes to an hour will be led during the day and, for the first time, at night too.

And there also will be a green-screen photo area where visitors can take pictures of themselves in front of the virtual bridge. Why the doppelganger? ”When the bridge does its disappearing act, you can come in and still get a great photo in front of the bridge,” says David Shaw of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Funds for the bridge’s yea-long celebration were raised from private contributions and corporate sponsors. For more information, visit the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary.

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New JetBlue flight connects West Palm, Hartford (AP)

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – JetBlue is launching a new daily flight between West Palm Beach and Hartford, Conn.

An official for the airline says both markets have seen growth over the past year.

Beginning Thursday, an afternoon flight will fly from West Palm Beach to Hartford. A return flight leaves Hartford each evening.

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SC eateries participate in restaurant week (AP)

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

CHARLESTON, S.C. – About 200 restaurants across the state are participating in South Carolina Restaurant Week, although it might more correctly be called the South Carolina Restaurant 11 Days.

The event begins Thursday and runs through Jan. 22 with restaurants from the mountains to the coast offering specials for diners.

The promotion was created by the restaurant industry to boost business during what has traditionally been one of the slowest times of the year for eating establishments.

The event is promoted by the South Carolina Hospitality Association in partnership with local chapters and business partners.

Tourism is one of the biggest industries in South Carolina and means about $14 billion to the state’s economy.

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Mass. woman disputes TSA portrayal of her cupcake (AP)

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

PEABODY, Mass. – A Massachusetts woman says federal safety officials are mischaracterizing a frosted cupcake in a jar that was confiscated from her at a Las Vegas airport.

The Transportation Security Administration says it considered the icing on the cupcake a gel exceeding the 3-ounce limit for airline carry-on luggage. The limit is designed to stop terrorists seeking to evade detection by using explosives made of plastics, liquids or gels.

The TSA says in a blog post the cupcake taken last month had a thick layer of icing inside the jar.

But Peabody (PEE’-buh-dee) resident Rebecca Hains said Wednesday her jar consisted of three layers of cupcake, each topped with a medium layer of icing, not a thick layer.

The bakery that makes the red velvet cupcake has renamed it National (Security) Velvet.

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Smartphone booking, flash sales are travel trends

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

We’ll be looking for limited-time travel deals and snapping them up with our smartphones this year. MarketWatch Radio’s Adrienne Mitchell reports on some of the top travel trends of 2012, according to

Pop up Player

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Sipapu Ski And Summer Resort: A Huffington Post Travel Ski Resort Guide

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

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

The Basics

Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort is 20 miles southeast of Taos, New Mexico, in the small town of Vadito, along the banks of the Rio Pueblo. The resort is a little more than an hour from Sante Fe and less than three hours from Albuquerque or Santa Rosa. American Eagle Airlines in Sante Fe offers flights between Sante Fe and Dallas-Fort Worth or Los Angeles, but the nearest major airport is Albuquerque International Sunport, about 2 1/2 hours away. Sipapu has been a family-owned, family-friendly resort since 1952.

The Mountain

Sipapu Mountain is nestled in Carson National Forest, which runs through the Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico. Sipapu’s peak elevation is 9,255 feet, and the vertical drop is 1,055 feet, with a skiable area of 200 acres, including steeps and glades. An average annual snowfall of 190 inches, supplemented by snowmaking on 70 percent of the resort’s trails, allows Sipapu to offer New Mexico’s longest ski season, from November to April.

Trails And Lifts

Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort has 41 trails. Twenty percent are for beginners, 40 percent are for intermediate skiers, 25 percent are for advanced skiers and 15 percent are for experts. The resort has two terrain parks: Pedro’s Park, on the Thumper Trail, is comfortable for beginners, and the larger, more advanced park, which is found on the intermediate Loose Caboose Trail, features a large teeter-totter and “a large box, a pipe, several kickers, and more,” according to a Sipapu press release issued in January 2011. A notable feature is a large satellite dish. The five lifts include two triple chairs, two platters and one magic carpet. Sipapu’s lifts run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no night skiing at Sipapu.

In The News

Winter activities, in addition to skiing and snowboarding, include snowblading, Telemark skiing, ski biking and the ski school, as well as nearby cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Special winter activities include Telefest, a Telemark festival; February Fun Fest, which includes a snow castle, treasure hunt, costume contest and games; and a Cardboard Derby, in which participants build a cardboard vehicle to race down the mountain. Some weekends also offer SkiBike Demo days, with free lessons and races. Sipapu was lauded in October 2010, when the resort’s general manager, John Paul Bradley, was named Best Mountain Operator by Ski New Mexico. A press release from the resort notes that under Bradley’s leadership, “Sipapu has doubled the number of trails and more than tripled the number of skier visits.”


A full-day lift ticket is free for children 6 and younger, fourth-graders, 40-year-olds, 60-year-olds and seniors 70 and older; $37 for teens; $29 for children 7 to 12 and seniors 60 to 69; and $44 for adults 21 to 59. Season passes, which include three free days of skiing at a variety of partner resorts, are $499 for adults, $399 for students and $199 for kids and seniors. Rental prices for skis, boots and poles are $15 for adults and $12 for children, $25 for a snowboard and boots and $8 for a helmet. Full-day lessons are also available starting at $61 for children, and instruction is free for first-time skiers and snowboarders with the purchase of a lift ticket. Sipapu also offers several special deals, including free lodging with the purchase of a lift ticket on select days and a “Parents Ski Free” week in January, when a parent receives a free lift ticket with the purchase of a child’s or teen’s lift ticket.


For dining, Sipapu offers both the Riverside Cafe, on the second floor of the lodge, with a bar in the nearby lounge, and the Paradise Riverside Bar and Grill, an outdoor restaurant with food and a full bar. Thursday nights are open-mic nights at the Paradise Riverside Bar and Grill. Microbrew-Ski Saturdays feature different microbreweries, with samples of each brewery’s beers. Lodging options include hotel rooms, cabins, mobile homes and apartments. There’s also a campground and RV park. Many more lodging, restaurant and nightlife options are available in Taos, a half-hour drive from the resort.

WATCH: Sipapu Ski And Summer Resort

A snowboarder at Sipapu enjoys two runs, while a second snowboarder rides shirtless on a sunny day.

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APNewsBreak: Eisenhowers want memorial redesigned (AP)

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

WASHINGTON – President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s family wants a memorial in the nation’s capital redesigned, saying the current plans overemphasize his humble Kansas roots and neglect his accomplishments in World War II and the White House.

Architect Frank Gehry has proposed a memorial park framed by large metal tapestries with images of Eisenhower’s boyhood home in Abilene, Kan. In the park, a statue of “Ike” as a boy would seem to marvel at what would become of his life, leading the Allied forces and becoming president. From the White House, he integrated schools and the military, and created NASA and interstate highways. Additional sculpture elements would depict Eisenhower as general and president.

Gehry’s idea echoed Eisenhower’s speech when he returned to Kansas after the war and spoke of a “barefoot boy” who achieved fame in Europe. He came home “to say the proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.”

Anne Eisenhower, one of the president’s granddaughters, sent a formal objection to the National Capital Planning Commission on Tuesday on behalf of the family. Still, she noted Gehry is a talented architect.

“What one has to say is he’s missed the message here,” she told The Associated Press. “The mandate is to honor Eisenhower, and that is not being done in this current design. Or, shall we say, it is being done in such a small scale in relation to the memorial that it is dwarfed.”

National Capital Planning Commission Executive Director Marcel Acosta said in a short statement the panel “appreciates the comments provided by the Eisenhower family.”

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which hired Gehry, said they plan to seek final approval of the design in March and hope to break ground this year.

Images of Eisenhower as a general addressing troops before D-Day and as president studying the globe would be represented in stone in “heroic scale,” said Daniel Feil, the project’s executive architect. With all the attention on Gehry’s tapestries, some failed to see other aspects of the memorial, he said.

Feil said he does not expect to make any major changes to Gehry’s design.

The memorial commission said David Eisenhower, the president’s grandson who previously sat on the commission, never voted against any of the design proposals or voiced objections. He resigned from the group in December.

“In terms of the family, it’s very hard in a sense to understand where all of it is coming from,” Feil said.

Gehry has said he wants to make sure the Eisenhower family approves the design, but he has dismissed the idea of using a traditional statue, saying all the great sculptors are long gone.

Gehry’s design follows the trend of other memorials honoring President Franklin D. Roosevelt, World War II veterans and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Those memorials are broad spaces with many elements to engage visitors.

Susan Eisenhower, another granddaughter, said “Ike” is simply the wrong figure to memorialize with an avant-garde approach. He was a traditionalist and bewildered by modern art, she said.

In a 1962 speech at the dedication of his presidential library, Eisenhower spoke of modern art as “a piece of canvas that looks like a broken down tin lizzie (Model T Ford), loaded with paint, has been driven over it.”

“Just about everybody on the mall had humble origins,” Susan Eisenhower said. “But you don’t get to the mall because you had humble origins. You get to the mall because you did something for which the nation is grateful.”

Eisenhower’s son, John Eisenhower, 89, wrote a letter saying the family is united in its desire to have the design re-examined. He called for a simple memorial in stone.

Beyond the memorial’s images, the family is worried about the symbolism of tapestries towering eight stories high because “Ike” was a humble man. Something smaller would make more sense, Susan Eisenhower said.

The memorial also would have its back to the Lyndon B. Johnson Department of Education Building, which sends the wrong message because Eisenhower and Johnson accomplished much together, the family wrote.

Memorial planners have said the tapestries will be transparent and won’t block views of the building.

The family also questions the sustainability of the metal material and who would keep the woven metal clean of leaves and trash caught by the tapestry.

“Great monuments to our leaders are simple in design and made of durable stone for a reason,” the family wrote.

The debate comes as families take a stronger role in national memorials. Martin Luther King Jr.’s children and late wife helped shape the new King Memorial.

In the 1990s, Roosevelt’s family was divided over how a disabled president should be portrayed. A statue of Roosevelt in a wheelchair was eventually added.

The influence from families emerged with the Oklahoma City bombing memorial and more recently with the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, said Kirk Savage, author of “Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape.”

Representing Eisenhower as a teenage boy, as Gehry proposed, would be interesting, Savage said, because it makes people relate to him in a different way, perhaps more closely.

“It’s about humanizing the leader, bringing him down into our space and our world, so that we can engage with him,” Savage said. “If they had just decided to do a statue of him in a military uniform or as president, in a way it wouldn’t have provoked any commentary at all.

“No one would have really paid attention.”

Davis Buckley, an architect who has designed other memorials in Washington, said a more daring approach with Eisenhower’s memorial makes sense because “Ike” established the basis “for who we are now in the 21st century.” Many people may forget that he integrated schools and created and the Federal Aviation Administration.

“He was a visionary, and I think that it is appropriate to push the design envelope in terms of what this memorial is,” Buckley said. “It’s a question of how they get there.”

Susan Eisenhower said the family is trying to be constructive and ensure there is a full public discussion.

“We knew him better than anybody,” she said. “I just don’t feel any part of him in this.”


Eisenhower Memorial Commission:


Brett Zongker can be reached at

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Airport screener finds, turns in $5,000 (AP)

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Travel News

NEWARK, N.J. – Officials are praising a Transportation Security Administration screener who turned in $5,000 cash that he found on the floor at Newark Liberty International Airport.

John Deschamp was in Terminal C when he spotted something out of the ordinary on Dec. 27.

The 36-year-old tells The Star-Ledger of Newark ( ) the cash was wadded up, some of it bound by a paper band, as if it had been stuffed in a pocket.

Officials say no security cameras were focused on the area.

The money was turned over to United Airlines because it was found near the United Elite Access check-in desk. A United spokeswoman says it will likely go to a charity if no one claims it.

The screener says he was just doing his job.

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