Cruise Lines International, Cruise Critic Answer Top Five Cruising FAQs

Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas moored at its private island © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas moored at its private island © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

(WASHINGTON, DC)— As part of Plan a Cruise Month, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the unified voice and leading authority of the global cruise community, has partnered with Cruise Critic, the world’s leading cruise review site and online cruise community, to answer five of the most frequently asked questions about cruising.

“For travelers considering a cruise for the first time, the unknown can sometimes be a bit overwhelming,” said Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor, CruiseCritic.com.  “The beauty of cruising is that there truly is a cruise for every traveler. Whether you’re looking for an intimate experience focused on destinations, or a bustling ship with all the bells and whistles, there’s a cruise to meet every travel style and interest. The most important thing is to make note of what’s essential to you, and read reviews and ask a cruise specialist to find the perfect match.”

Top Five Cruise FAQs…Answered!

Question 1: How can I keep busy on days at sea?

With cruise lines unveiling entertainment and amenities that rival – and often times exceed – those found on land, travelers have an almost endless amount of activities to keep them entertained while at sea. Whether it’s a surf or skydive simulator, zip lines or cooking demonstrations, cruise lines have plenty onboard for just about any interest.

Question 2: Is it possible to really experience new cultures on a cruise?

The interest in experiential travel has continued to grow over the years, and cruise lines have jumped onboard to offer guests authentic opportunities to truly experience the destinations they visit. Cruisers can join chefs at local markets, book home visits with locals or volunteer to make a difference while in port. To cater to those looking for even more immersive experiences, some cruise lines offer overnights in port for more time to explore.

Question 3: Is cruising fun for all age groups?

With a wide and flexible range of dining, entertainment, excursion and even Internet options, cruising is the perfect travel option to satisfy all age groups. Working with a travel agent ensures travelers of all ages will find the best cruise for every personality. From bumper cars and water parks, to Broadway-style shows and farm-to-table dinners, the options are endless for cruisers of various ages and interests  for a variety of age groups.

Question 4: Can cruising be a healthy vacation?

The variety of cruise dining options is vast – from sushi and seafood, to Italian and French, cruise line cuisine leaves little to be craved. In addition to the multitude of dining choices, cruise lines cater to cruisers with various dietary restrictions and preferences including vegetarian, gluten-free, low-carb and more. Onboard gyms, running tracks and fitness classes can help travelers stay on target with their workout regimens, even while at sea. Additionally, cruises offer abundant opportunities to meditate surrounded by ocean air and fun ways to stay active like rock climbing.

Question 5: Will I get seasick?

Today, ships are built with stabilizers that help keep vessels on as smooth a journey as possible, therefore motion on the ship is minimal. For those extra sensitive to motion, there are other ways to combat seasickness – booking an outside cabin in the middle of the ship can help, as can over-the-counter drug remedies, or non-drug remedies like ginger candy or acupressure bracelets. River cruises can also be a fantastic option for those worried about seasickness.

For more information about cruise travel or how you could enter to win a cruise of choice from October 1- October 31, 2016, please visit www.cruisesmile.org. Cruisers can find a CLIA cruise specialist travel agent at http://cruising.org/cruise-vacationer/cruise-travel-guide/clia-agent-finder.

About Cruise Critic
Cruise Critic® is an online cruise guide, offering a comprehensive resource for cruise travelers, from first-time cruisers to avid cruise enthusiasts. The site features more than 150,000 cruise reviews and hosts the world’s largest online cruise community where travelers share experiences and opinions with fellow cruisers. Cruise Critic was the first consumer cruise site on the Internet, launched in October 1995 by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc.

About Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – One Industry, One Voice
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, providing a unified voice and leading authority of the global cruise community. The association has 15 offices globally with representation in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia. CLIA supports policies and practices that foster a safe, secure, healthy and sustainable cruise ship environment for the more than 23 million passengers who cruise annually and is dedicated to promote the cruise travel experience. Members are comprised of the world’s most prestigious ocean, river and specialty cruise lines; a highly trained and certified travel agent community; and cruise line suppliers and partners, including ports & destinations, ship development, suppliers and business services. The organization’s mission is to be the unified global organization that helps its members succeed by advocating, educating and promoting for the common interests of the cruise community. For more information, visit www.cruising.org or follow Cruise Lines International Association on CLIA Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Historic Hotels of America to Select 2016 Awards of Excellence Winners from Among Finalists

Loews Don CeSar Hotel (1928), the famous “Pink Lady” of  St. Pete Beach, Florida, is a finalist for Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Loews Don CeSar Hotel (1928), the famous “Pink Lady” of St. Pete Beach, Florida, is a finalist for Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Historic Hotels of America® and Historic Hotels Worldwide®  will be announcing winners of the 2016 Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence at a Gala Dinner at The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927) in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 3.  These Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence recognize and celebrate the finest historic hotels and hoteliers across the nation and around the world.

Award recipients are selected from nominees received from historic hotels, historic preservation supporters, prior award recipients, and leadership from Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. As official programs of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide provide the recognition to travelers, civic leaders, and the global cultural, heritage, and historic travel market that member hotels are among the finest historic hotels across America and around the world. The Historic Hotels Annual Awards of Excellence program recognizes the pinnacle of this distinct group of nominees in a range of categories.

From over 200 nominations, the awards committee evaluated, and after careful consideration selected the following 2016 award nominee finalists:

Historic Hotels of America New Member of the Year

  • Woodstock Inn & Resort (1793) Woodstock, Vermont
  • The Inn at Diamond Cove (1890) Portland, Maine
  • The Redbury New York (1903) New York, New York
  • XV Beacon (1903) Boston, Massachusetts
  • Hotel Warner (1930) West Chester, Pennsylvania

Best Social Media of a Historic Hotel

  • Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan
  • The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907) San Francisco, California
  • The Jefferson, Washington, DC (1923) Washington, DC
  • The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort (1927) Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Loews Don CeSar Hotel (1928) St. Pete Beach, Florida
Loews Don CeSar Hotel (1928), St. Pete Beach, Florida © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Loews Don CeSar Hotel (1928), St. Pete Beach, Florida © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Sustainability Champion

  • Hanover Inn Dartmouth (1780) Hanover, New Hampshire
  • The Boar’s Head (1834) Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa (1847) Point Clear, Alabama
  • The Willard InterContinental, Washington DC (1847) Washington, DC
  • Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins (1903) Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  • Hilton Chicago (1927) Chicago, Illinois

Best Small Historic Inn/Hotel (Under 75 Guestrooms)

  • Concord’s Colonial Inn (1716) Concord, Massachusetts
  • Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn (1766) Rhinebeck, New York
  • Inn at the Presidio (1776) San Francisco, California
  • Inn at Leola Village, Est. 1867 (1867) Leola, Pennsylvania
  • The Chanler at Cliff Walk (1873) Newport, Rhode Island
  • The Wort Hotel (1941) Jackson, Wyoming

Best Historic Hotel (75-200 Guestrooms)

  • The Otesaga Hotel and Cooper Inn (1909) Cooperstown, New York
  • The Hermitage Hotel (1910) Nashville, Tennessee
  • Hotel Blackhawk, Autograph Collection (1915) Davenport, Iowa
  • Historic Hotel Bethlehem (1922) Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  • La Fonda on the Plaza™ (1922) Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Hawthorne Hotel (1925) Salem, Massachusetts
Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee, a historic hotel
The Hermitage Hotel (1910) Nashville, Tennessee, is nominated for Best Historic Hotel (75-200 guestrooms) © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Best Historic Hotel (201-400 Guestrooms)

  • The Willard InterContinental, Washington DC (1847) Washington, DC
  • The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa (1876) Riverside, California
  • The Plaza (1907) New York, New York
  • Embassy Suites by Hilton Portland Downtown (1912) Portland, Oregon
  • Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center (1927) Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • The Edgewater (1948) Madison, Wisconsin
The lobby of The Willard InterContinental, Washington DC (1847) Washington, DC, from which the term “lobbyist” derived © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The lobby of The Willard InterContinental, Washington DC (1847) Washington, DC, from which the term “lobbyist” derived © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Best Historic Hotel (Over 400 Guestrooms)

  • Palace Hotel (1875) San Francisco, California
  • Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa (1901) Honolulu, Hawaii
  • The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco (1907) San Francisco, California
  • The Drake Hotel (1920) Chicago, Illinois
  • Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (1931) Cincinnati, Ohio

Best City Center Historic Hotel

  • The Pfister Hotel (1893) Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square (1893) San Francisco, California
  • Le Pavillon Hotel (1907) New Orleans, Louisana
  • The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection (1925) Washington, DC
  • Boston Park Plaza (1927) Boston, Massachusetts
  • Hilton Chicago (1927) Chicago, Illinois

Best Historic Resort

  • The Omni Homestead Resort (1766) Hot Springs, Virginia
  • Keswick Hall (1912) Charlottesville, Virginia
  • The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Spring, Colorado
  • The American Club (1918) Kohler, Wisconsin
  • Ojai Valley Inn & Spa (1923) Ojai, California
  • The Hotel Hershey® (1933) Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hotel Historian of the Year

  • Susan Wilson at the Omni Parker House, Boston (1855) Boston, Massachusetts
  • Tom Vickstrom at The Hermitage Hotel (1910) Nashville, Tennessee
  • Tina Malasics at The Gasparilla Inn & Club (1913) Boca Grande, Florida
  • Beth Davis at The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Spring, Colorado
  • Teresa Porter at the Benbow Historic Inn (1926) Garberville, California
  • Lora Gallagher at the Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort (1955) Honolulu, Hawaii

Best Historic Restaurant in Conjunction with a Historic Hotel

  • Chez Philippe at The Peabody Memphis (1869) Memphis, Tennessee
  • The Spiced Pear at The Chanler at Cliff Walk (1873) Newport, Rhode Island
  • Circa 1886 at Wentworth Mansion (1886) Charleston, South Carolina
  • Woods Restaurant at Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan
  • Penrose Room at The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • The Wisconsin Room at The American Club (1918) Kohler, Wisconsin

Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year

  • The Widman Family at Wentworth Mansion (1886) in Charleston, South Carolina
  • The Monteleone Family at Hotel Monteleone (1886) New Orleans, Louisiana
  • The Smiley Family at Mohonk Mountain House (1869) New Paltz, New York
  • The Kohler Family at The American Club (1918) Kohler, Wisconsin
  • The Melius Family at OHEKA CASTLE (1919) Huntington, New York
  • The Genzlinger Family at The Settlers Inn at Bingham Park (1927) Hawley, Pennsylvania
Mohonk Mountain House (1869) New Paltz, New York, still owned and managed by the Smiley Family, is a finalist for Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Mohonk Mountain House (1869) New Paltz, New York, still owned and managed by the Smiley Family, is a finalist for Legendary Family Historic Hoteliers of the Year © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Ambassador of the Year (Quarter Century Service)

  • Shirley St. Peter at the Hanover Inn Dartmouth (1780) Hanover, New Hampshire
  • Steve Blum at The Willard InterContinental, Washington DC (1847) Washington, DC
  • Doug Weatherford at The Peabody Memphis (1869) Memphis, Tennessee
  • Ken Price at The Palmer House®, A Hilton Hotel (1871) Chicago, Illinois
  • Anna Alba at The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Linda Shoe at The Hotel Viking (1926) Newport, Rhode Island

Historic Hotelier of the Year

  • Terry Haney at the Inn at the Presidio (1776) San Francisco, California
  • Doug Browne at The Peabody Memphis (1861) Memphis, Tennessee
  • Randy Howat at the Inns of Distinction, LLC (1867) Pennsylvania
  • Duane and Kelly Roberts at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa (1876) Riverside, California
  • Kathy Faulk at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington DC (1930) Washington, DC
  • Jim Waldrop at The Wort Hotel (1941) Jackson, Wyoming

Best Historic Hotels Worldwide hotel in Europe

  • NH Collection Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi (1212) Amalfi, Italy
  • Bernini Palace Hotel (15th Century) Florence, Italy
  • Pulitzer Amsterdam (17th Century) Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Antica Dimora Suites (1820) Crete, Greece
  • Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern (1845) Lucerne, Switzerland
  • Ciragan Palace Kempinski (1867) Istanbul, Turkey

Best Historic Hotels Worldwide hotel in Asia/Pacific

  • Fort Seengh Sagar (1670) Rajasthan, India
  • Alsisar Haveli (1892) Jaipur, India
  • Hotel New Grand (1927) Yokohama, Japan
  • Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (1901) Hanoi, Vietnam
  • The Fullerton Hotel Singapore (1928) Singapore
  • Mansion Hotel (1932) Shanghai, China

Best Historic Hotels Worldwide hotel in the Americas

  • Alfiz Hotel (17th Century) Cartagena, Colombia
  • Hacienda Xcanatún (1789) Merida, Mexico
  • Quinta Real Puebla (1893) Puebla, Mexico
  • Fairmont Le Château Frontenac (1893) Québec City, Canada
  • The Omni King Edward Hotel (1903) Toronto, Canada
  • Alvear Palace Hotel (1932) Buenos Aires, Argentina

 Historic Hotels of America

Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating historic hotels, was founded in 1989 with 32 charter members and today has more than 290 historic hotel members. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 46 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated properties. More than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America. To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance. For more information, visit HistoricHotels.org.

Historic Hotels Worldwide

Historic Hotels Worldwide®, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation,  is a prestigious collection of historic treasures, including historic hotels, castles, chateaus, palaces, academies, haciendas, villas, monasteries, and other historic lodging spanning more than ten centuries. Historic Hotels Worldwide recognizes authentic cultural treasures that demonstrate historic preservation and their inspired architecture, cultural traditions, and authentic cuisine. HistoricHotelsWorldwide.com allows travelers to book their next getaway from more than 3,000 historic and cultural experiences, and view special offers at participating historic hotels from 30 countries. To be nominated and selected to be featured on this supplemental marketing program website, historic lodging must be at least 75 years old; utilize historic accommodations; serve as the former home or be located on the grounds of the former home of famous persons or significant location for an event in history; be located in or within walking distance to a historic district, historically significant landmark, place of historic event, or a historic city center; be recognized by a local preservation organization or national trust; and display historic memorabilia, artwork, photography, and other examples of its historic significance. To be selected in the United States for inclusion in Historic Hotels Worldwide, a hotel must meet the above criteria plus be a member of Historic Hotels of America. For more information, visit HistoricHotelsWorldwide.com.

Click here to see the Historic Hotels of America video. To receive special offers, including the monthly enewsletter,Discover & Explore, which includes hotel specials, offers and historic fun facts, click here. View the Historic Hotels of America 2016 Annual Directory ebook or download the free app on iTunesAmazonGoogle play, and the Windows Store.

 

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Vail Resorts Looks to 2016-17 Season With $100M in Improvements, Acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb

Keystone Mountain Resort is the ultimate family resort destination, offering more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, average of 300 days of sun a year, night skiing, convenient lodging and variety of on- and off-snow activities and is one of the closest ski resorts to Denver © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Keystone Mountain Resort is the ultimate family resort destination, offering more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, average of 300 days of sun a year, night skiing, convenient lodging and variety of on- and off-snow activities and is one of the closest ski resorts to Denver © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

By Karen Rubin, Eric Leiberman, Dave E Leiberman

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Each year, Vail Resorts has something sensational to announce and this year is no different: the company, already the largest collection of major mountain resorts, is acquiring the iconic Whistler Blackcomb, in British Columbia. That would give Vail Resorts the largest resort in North America as well as the largest ski resort in the United States, with its acquisition and merger last year of Park City with Canyons in Utah.

“Whistler Blackcomb is one of the most iconic mountain resorts in the world with an incredible history, passionate employees and a strong community. With our combined experience and expertise, together we will build upon the guest experience at Whistler Blackcomb while preserving the unique brand and character of the resort as an iconic Canadian destination for guests around the world. We are delighted to add such a renowned resort to Vail Resorts and look forward to expanding our relationships in the Sea-to-Sky community, British Columbia and Canada,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.

Whistler Blackcomb is the largest resort in North America, with 8,100 acres. It is famous for hosting major alpine skiing events like the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympics, and for its Peak 2 Peak Gondola, the longest and highest lift in the world (2.7 miles, it takes 11 minutes to ride).

Dave Brownlie, Whistler Blackcomb’s chief executive officer added, “As the number one ranked and most visited resort in North America, Whistler Blackcomb has enjoyed tremendous success by delivering an exceptional mountain experience for our passionate and loyal guests — both locally and from around the world.  That’s going to continue as we work with our new colleagues at Vail Resorts as well as our employees, local businesses, community and government stakeholders to make Whistler Blackcomb better than ever. We will also continue our discussions with the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations, on whose traditional lands we operate, regarding a business partnership that will benefit our communities, our province and our company for decades to come. Our board of directors has also been monitoring the unique challenges facing the broader ski industry due to the unpredictability of year-to-year regional weather patterns. Whistler Blackcomb, with its unprecedented acreage of high alpine terrain and Glacier bowls, is well positioned, but by no means immune to these challenges. Partnering with the geographically diversified Vail Resorts and extending its successful Epic Pass products to Whistler Blackcomb are customer-focused ways of securing the long-term future of our resort, our industry and our community.”

Whistler Blackcomb won’t be fully integrated into Vail Resorts’ EpicPass until next year, but through acquisitions and collaborations, EpicPass already gives its passholders global reach, with unlimited and unrestricted access to VailBeaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah; HeavenlyNorthstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe, Afton Alps near Minneapolis, Mt. Brighton near Detroit, Wilmot Mountain near Chicago and the 2017 Perisher season in Australia. New for the 2016-2017 season, Epic Pass holders can now ski or snowboard for specified number of days in Europe including resorts in Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy (Europe is Epic details at EuropeIsEpic.com). It means that avid skiers can go wherever the snow seems best. The Epic Pass pays for itself in just over four days, while also saving more than 45 percent versus tickets purchased at a resort lift ticket window. The Epic pass also provides other discounts, including 20% off lodging, even off already discounted specials. Multiple pass options are on sale now at EpicPass.com.

Vail Resorts continues to raise the bar for skiers and riders investing $100 million in the guest experience for the upcoming winter across its resorts, bringing its five-year, industry-leading resort investment total to more than $500 million across the company. The most significant improvements include a new restaurant on Peak 7 at Breckenridge, an upgraded high-speed chairlift accessing Vail’s Back Bowls, significant renovations to the guest rooms of The Pines Lodge, A RockResort at Beaver Creek, and $13 million to completely re-imagine the guest experience at Wilmot Mountain, located near Chicago, Ill.

“Guests expect a premium experience when they visit one of our resorts, including the highest levels of guest service as well as the cutting edge in lifts, restaurants, lodging and other elements of their vacation,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “This year’s resort improvement plan reflects our goal to continue to deliver an Experience of a Lifetime for all of our guests.”

Here is a summary of new developments:

Skiing at Northstar California, with a view of Lake Tahoe. New this year: EpicMix Time guests to access real-time lift line wait times enabling them to better navigate the mountain and make the most out of their ski and ride experience © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Skiing at Northstar California, with a view of Lake Tahoe. New this year: EpicMix Time guests to access real-time lift line wait times enabling them to better navigate the mountain and make the most out of their ski and ride experience © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

EpicMix Time expands to Park City and Lake Tahoe to provide crowd-sourced lift line wait times to guests – EpicMix™ Time – an expansion of the award-winning ski and snowboard app, EpicMix – will debut at Park City in Utah, and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe during the 2016-17 season, allowing guests to access real-time lift line wait times enabling them to better navigate the mountain and make the most out of their ski and ride experience. EpicMix Time uses proprietary technology to calculate and display up-to-the-minute chairlift and gondola line wait times. This innovative application of crowd-sourcing technology debuted last year at the Company’s four Colorado resorts.

Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe

The Heavenly gondola with views to Lake Tahoe. Vail Resorts is assuming management of Zalanta Resort at the Village, a new luxury condominium property, South Lake Tahoe’s first whole-ownership luxury condominium development in more than 30 years, steps from the Heavenly Mountain Gondola © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Heavenly gondola with views to Lake Tahoe. Vail Resorts is assuming management of Zalanta Resort at the Village, a new luxury condominium property, South Lake Tahoe’s first whole-ownership luxury condominium development in more than 30 years, steps from the Heavenly Mountain Gondola © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Vail Resorts is assuming management of Zalanta Resort at the Village, a new luxury condominium property, South Lake Tahoe’s first whole-ownership luxury condominium development in more than 30 years,  just steps away from the Heavenly Mountain Gondola, shops, dining, and in close proximity to showrooms, casinos, beaches and world-class golf. The first phase of the project – slated for completion in late-January 2017 – will include 30 luxury whole ownership residences, year-round heated outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs, a fire pit, fitness center and complimentary access for owners and guests to Lake Tahoe’s semi-private Lakeshore Beach. The development will also include more than 19,000-square-feet of retail space, which may include a 6,500-square-foot restaurant.

A second phase of development at Zalanta is proposed to include 60 additional whole ownership residences, cabanas, rooftop terrace and private underground parking garage. If approved, construction would begin as early as mid-2017 with completion following in mid- to late-2018.

Northstar California

Enjoying Tost, the 2 pm champagne toast ritual at Northstar California © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Enjoying Tost, the 2 pm champagne toast ritual at Northstar California © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Our favorite activities are back at Northstar California: Tost, a 2 pm ritual of a champagne (or apple cider) toast on the mountain, and this year, select dates will feature live music; Mountain Table Dinner series, featuring a mountaintop gourmet meal paired with wines from a local winery on the mountain in the Zephyr Lodge with stunning panoramic views of the sunset behind the Sierra Nevada’s Pacific Crest.

Park City, Utah

Vail Resorts’ EpicMix Time, the ski and snowboard app, is debuting at Park City Mountain, allowing guests to access real-time lift line wait times, better navigate the mountain across 7,300 acres of skiable terrain.

Guests will reap the benefits of Vail Resorts’ $50 million investment in the merger of Park City Mountain Resort with Canyons, including a new eight-passenger Quicksilver Gondola connection, new restaurant (Miners Camp) and new King Con Express six-person chairlife and MOtherlode Express four-person chairlift. The resort, now the largest in the US, offers over 300 trails, 41 lifts, 8 terrain parks, one super pipe and one mini-pipe. “The mountain is as big as you want to make it.”

Special features: Night skiing at Park City base area, free Mining Tour with a mountain host; sleigh rides  in the evening, an alpine coaster at Park City base, ice skating rink, snowshoeing, music in the base area, a robust après-ski scene on Main Street (you can ski in/out to Main Street and take a free bus back).

Events are big in Park City: Snowbound Celebration, a 16-day festival with musical acts, entertainers, torchlight parade, visit from Santa; Spring Gruv Celebration, a 16-day fest in March with free concerts and Pond Skimming Contest.

Vail Mountain

Four-Passenger Sun Up Express opens – Vail Mountain’s ninth new chairlift in the last 10 years will debut this winter, replacing the Sun Up Lift with a four-passenger, high-speed chairlift, now called the Sun Up Express. The new express chairlift will increase capacity of the former lift by 65 percent and reduce the average ride time from eight minutes to four minutes. The new lift will be a primary lift on the Back Bowls of Vail Mountain, serving intermediate and advanced terrain and dispersing skiers and snowboarders into this legendary terrain. More importantly, this makes 19 of Vail’s 22 chairlifts, and all of its core lifts, high speed. “If you haven’t skied Vail in 10 years, it will be a completely different experience.”

In other news, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a RockResort just steps from The Eagle Bahn Gondola, has gotten a refresh (www.arrabelle.rockresorts.com).

Highlights of winter events include: Vail Snow Daze (Dec. 9-11), Vail Holidaze (Dec. 16-18, 31); CarniVail (Feb. 25-28), and the BurtonUS Open Snowboarding championships (Feb. 27-March 4).

Visit vail.com/lodging to find the best vacation deals.

Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek is known for the ultimate in luxury and traditions including afternoon cookies © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Beaver Creek is known for the ultimate in luxury and traditions including afternoon cookies © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Beaver Creek, famous for luxury, takes that to an extreme with its white Glove Winter Package – travel in style with first-class airfare into Vail/Beaver Creek’s Eagle Airport (EGE), private helicopter transportation to the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, and private car to the excusive Trappers Cabin. Nestled among aspen groves at 9,500 ft, Trappers Cabin is the ultimate in luxury, with your own gourmet chef and private Ski School Ambassador, Epic Passes, Helly Hansen gear and other lux perks (valued at $50,000, BeaverCreek.com/White Glove).

And that’s not all: Beaver Creek’s White Carpet Club, an exclusive private retreat within Beaver Creek Village, is available for the duration. It hosts spacious lockers, continental service island, on-site concierge, priority access to SaddleRidge Restaurant, preferred parking and slope-side equipment check.

White Glove First Tracks provides exclusive access to the pristine slopes at sunrise, a five-star gourmet breakfast on the mountain at Allie’s Cabin.  Gusts board the centennial Express l ift at 7:30 am, enjoy a private guided tour of the mountain and relax over breakfast, all before the resort opens (select dates, reserve 866-250-1679).

Allie’s Cabin is offering special Wine Dinners on select Thursday evenings, organized with celebrated wineries, accompanied by fireworks display over Beaver Creek Village. Guests arrive via open-air sleigh for a gourmet culinary experience in the cabin.  New this winter and offered during select weekends, Allie’s Cabin Family Dinners.

Gourmet Snowshoe Adventures and Wine Tasting –Three versions are available, each combining wellness-promoting 90-minute guided snowshoeing tour, scenic gondola ride, followed by gourmet decadence for which Beaver Creek is renowned at the Osprey Fireside Grill. Guests can choose among Women’s Wednesday Walk & Wine, Winter Wine Excursions (Thursdays), and Fonduye + Shoe (Fridays).

The Pines Lodge, A RockResort in Beaver Creek has undergone a significant renovation of its 60 hotel rooms, keeping the unique European charm that the ski-in hotel has always offered while introducing a modern mountain luxury theme, enhancing the guest’s experience and comfort.

Beaver Creek Signature Winter Events include the Audi Birds of Prey Men’s World Cup and EverBank America’s Winter Opening (Nov. 29-Dec. 7), and Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend (Jan. 19-22).

Breckenridge Ski Resort

Dog sledding is one of the non-skiing activities at Breckenridge, where you can also get a free Mining Tour with a mountain ski ambassador © 2016 Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Dog sledding is one of the non-skiing activities at Breckenridge, where you can also get a free Mining Tour with a mountain ski ambassador © 2016 Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Breckenridge Ski Resort will open Pioneer Crossing, a new, 490-seat restaurant just steps from Independence SuperChair on Peak 7, one of the resort’s five iconic peaks with dramatic views of Summit County. The restaurant will highlight Breckenridge’s mining history. Also Breckenridge Distrillery,  offering farm-to-table experience and new distilled flavors, is being expanded.

Classic Peak 9 Village Base area is getting a face lift, and is the scene for Breckenridge’s signature events which this year includes the Dew Tour (Dec. 8-11), returning for its 10th anniversary, when world-class winter athlete4s compete; Ullr Fest (Jan. 11-14), a 50-year tradition for the Breck community to pay tribute to the Norse god of snow; and 27th annual International Snow Sculpture Championships (Jan. 24-28).

Keystone Mountain Resort

Keystone Mountain Resort offers night skiing and a charming village at the base © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Keystone Mountain Resort offers night skiing and a charming village at the base © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Keystone Mountain Resort, one of the easiest major resorts to reach from Denver International Airport, one of the few that offers night skiing, as well as combined access to Arapahoe Basin with its lift ticket, is famous for its family-oriented programs.

Keystone’s Kids Ski Free Program Turns 5: Keystone has long been the place where kids rule, and this year the resort’s unmatched Kids Ski Free program turns 5 (which just so happens to be the same age that kids can officially become a part of this awesome program). More than 100,000 free kids’ lift tickets have been provided to families since the program began in 2012. This year guests can look forward to free Kidtopia events and parties, including a special weekly birthday bash with Ripperoo, plus free skiing. Every day, all season long, kids 12 and younger ski for free at Keystone with no blackout dates when parents book two or more nights in one of Keystone’s accommodation options, ranging from affordable hotel rooms to family-sized condominiums.

The world’s largest snowfort is a hallmark of Keystone’s Kidtopia festival © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The world’s largest snowfort is a hallmark of Keystone’s Kidtopia festival © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEW Kidtopia Mountaintop Spectacular – Dec. 16-18, 2016: Keystone’s Kidtopia continues to redefine the family resort experience with free activities and events on and off the snow every day of the week starting Friday, Nov. 25. This winter Keystone presents the inaugural Kidtopia Mountaintop Spectacular, a weekend of festive on-mountain fun for the entire family. This free event will showcase a variety of activities and Kidtopia programs that make the resort a top destination for families, including nightly firework displays, a torchlight ski parade led by Keystone’s Ski & Ride School, and a mountaintop celebration where guests can enjoy free snow tubing, snowcat photo opportunities, live music, hot cocoa and fireside stories with Santa. Kidtopia will animate the mountaintop with Bigfoot adventure walks and a ski patrol-dog meet and greet, plus a special lighting ceremony of the world’s largest Snow Fort to create an unforgettable weekend.

The Kidtopia Experience March 5-11, 2017: With the addition of the Kidtopia Mountaintop Spectacular, this winter season is bookended by two awesome Kidtopia events as the Kidtopia Experience returns for an extended week-long celebration. Start your family spring break early and be a part of all the kid-centric festivities and live outdoor music at the Kidtopia Experience, March 5-11.

Behind-the-Scenes Chocolate Tours with Keystone’s Very Own “Willy Wonka”: Keystone Resort’s executive pastry chef Ned Archibald welcomes guests for a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse into his world of decadent desserts and chocolate making at the resort. Take a break from the slopes one morning to experience these can’t-miss tours designed for kids (and parents), and meet the man himself, tour his chef’s workshop and make delicious treats of your own to take home. No golden ticket required; these Chocolate Tours are free to attend. Offered on select dates throughout the season. Schedule TBD.

Bavarian Night at Der Fondue atop Keystone Mountain © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Bavarian Night at Der Fondue atop Keystone Mountain © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

On-Mountain Family Adventures: With Keystone’s enclosed River Run Gondola, mountaintop adventures like snowcat tours, snow tubing and fondue dinners are accessible to the whole family regardless of skiing ability. The Mountaintop Snowcat Tour is a popular family activity that brings you to Keystone’s high-alpine bowls for breathtaking views of the Continental Divide and surrounding mountain ranges. Adventure Point, just steps away from the Kidtopia Snow Fort, features up to eight lanes of high-speed tubing action for kids and kids at heart. To cap off an evening of mountaintop adventure, guests can enjoy two gondola rides en route to Keystone’s North Peak, where Der Fondue Chessel offers an exciting and interactive dining experience for the whole family, complete with accordion-wielding musicians in lederhosen, all at 11,640-feet elevation.

Experience the Mountain Together with a Family Private Lesson: Whether your family is new to skiing and snowboarding or you’re seasoned snow veterans, those looking to develop new skills, improve technique or explore the mountain like never before can enjoy the Keystone Ski & Ride School’s Family Private Lesson together. Taking advantage of shared on-snow time, bonding is just an added bonus to these specially designed lessons. Private lessons can be reserved for up to six family members (or friends) of similar ability, and with instructors who specialize in working with the whole family.

Riding the gondola to dinner atop Keystone Mountain 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riding the gondola to dinner atop Keystone Mountain 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Keystone Resort’s more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, average of 300 days of sun a year, convenient lodging and variety of on- and off-snow activities all combine to provide the ideal location for winter vacations. As one of the closest ski resorts to Denver, Keystone is the ultimate family resort destination. Convenient touches like free parking, including front-row family parking, and complimentary red wagons to help parents tote gear and kiddos to and from the slopes help make a winter family visit to Keystone easy and hassle-free. For more information visit keystoneresort.com.

For more information or to book trips at any of the Vail Resorts mountains, visit snow.com. 

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

 

 

 

New Era of Luxury American River Cruising Opens with Launch of French America Line’s Louisiane

Louisiane, an intimate riverboat for just 150 guests, has begun her inaugural year sailing America’s rivers; 2017 cruise tours start March 4, 2017
Louisiane, an intimate riverboat for just 150 guests, has begun her inaugural year sailing America’s rivers; 2017 cruise tours start March 4, 2017

NEW ORLEANS – A new era of boutique American river cruising has opened with the launch of French America Line’s 75-stateroom flagship, Louisiane.

Formerly the Columbia Queen, riverboat has undergone a multimillion dollar refurbishment to reflect a subtle but elegant French-inspired ambience to embrace the rich history of the areas she sails that were once known as French America. The ship brims with exquisite French style and the romantic joie de vivre of her home port of New Orleans. Inaugural sailings have already commenced.

The ship accommodates a maximum of 150 guests in 75 suites and staterooms and a crew of 64 for sailings that celebrate regional cultural influences in food, music and history. The Lousiane’s small size allows her to access historic river ports on five American rivers that larger ships cannot navigate. This creates an opportunity to see and experience ports that haven’t been accessed by a U.S. river ship in more than a decade.

“We designed Louisiane to embody superb river experiences, including exploring many diverse traditions on our country’s waterways that were influenced by la belle France during the colonization of America. It’s a wonderful narrative and quite unique to what’s currently available, offering the highest level of service and amenities comparable to that found on the rivers of Europe,” said Christopher Kyte, Chairman, French America Line.

“We also believe that the integrity of the company to whom you trust your vacation should be reflected in our fare structure. Therefore, we guarantee that we will not artificially inflate our prices and then lower prices as the sailing date approaches. You can book early with utmost confidence that you are receiving the best price available, as our fares remain the same from the moment they are created until the moment the vessel sails. That is the French America Line promise,” said Kyte.

“To set a new standard for sophisticated travelers, we offer a variety of cruise lengths to suit any schedule with inspired itineraries that visit a waterfront tapestry of charming towns, villages and grand cities. We hope to capture your heart with the finest regional French, Southern and continental cuisine afloat by Regina Charboneau, our award-winning Chef de Cuisine, and set your spirits soaring with the best-of-America onboard entertainment each night. We have also added some delicious and luxurious surprises, from Hermès bath amenities in the Richelieu Suites and L’Occitaine en Provence in all staterooms to fresh marcarons from the House of Ladurée upon embarkation and nightly gourmet Vosges chocolates at turndown,” he said.

Innovative Experiences

French America Line’s flagship, Louisiane.
French America Line’s flagship, Louisiane.

Itineraries on America’s most iconic rivers and waterways – Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red rivers = range from five to 10 days. Pricing is virtually all-inclusive, with one-night pre-embarkation deluxe hotel stay in some of America’s most legendary hotels, all meals, free-flowing hand-selected beverages, wines, beer and spirits, nightly live entertainment, informative cultural and historical talks by onboard Illuminators, and memorable Traveler Collection shore excursions in every port of call included in the tariff.

Bicycles, helmets and maps are also available for independent explorations in every port of call. For more in-depth experiences during the cruise tour, optional private Curator Collection guided experiences may be added. Optional Prelude and Encore packages are also available for extended pre- and post-cruise experiences.

To enhance experiences onboard and in port, hand-selected expert Illuminators will bring to life surprising facets of regional culture, history, politics, music and more. Lively sessions might delve into the nuances of barbecue styles, the history of classic American cocktails, the origins of Zydeco, the blues or bluegrass music traditions, the religious underpinnings of Mardi Gras, the socio-economic impact of changing agricultural practices on the Mississippi or Native American history in the Upper Midwest.

Signature features on Louisiane include:

  • Complimentary one-night pre-cruise stay in deluxe luxury hotel and next day breakfast and transfer to the riverboat on sailing day
  • Complimentary daily Traveler Collection shore excursions in every port of call, inclusive of any admission fees
  • All meals are included in the tariff, featuring open seating in two dining venues offering inventive regional, French and Continental favorites as well as healthy Currents Cuisine selections under 400 calories for breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24-hour room service
  • Complimentary free-flowing hand-selected wines, spirits, beers, soft drinks, artisanal coffees, tea and choice of still or sparkling Natura brand water in suites and staterooms, replenished daily
  • Full-service Currents Spa with relaxing body treatments and salon nail and hair services with L’Occitaine en Provence products
  • Complimentary WiFi in all public areas
  • Complimentary onboard enrichment talks with noted regional historian Illuminators and live evening musical entertainment celebrating the best of the river and coastal regional America
  • Famed House of Ladurée Parisian-style macarons fresh from its New York City boutique upon embarkation, followed by nightly turndown service of gourmet Vosges chocolates
  • French America Line is also the only American river cruise line to offer in-room iPads pre-loaded with e-books, daily shore excursion programs and menus for onboard dining and entertainment

75 Suites + Staterooms for Just 150 Guests

  • Guests have a choice of 75 suites and staterooms in seven categories, many with private verandas or French balconies for optimal river viewing, all situated on the top three of the intimate ship’s four decks
  • All staterooms feature individual climate control, makeup mirror, deluxe mattresses clad in luxurious linens and duvets, private bathroom with plush towels and L’Occitane en Provence bath amenities, spa-quality bathrobes and slippers, in-room safe, ample storage space, 24-hour room service, flat screen LED television with satellite programming, direct-dial telephones and complimentary 24-hour room service
  • Richelieu Suite: The most lavish accommodations onboard are these two spacious suites on the uppermost Champlain Deck, with panoramic windows and wraparound outdoor promenade seating area, a queen bed, double armoire with built-in drawer storage, chest of drawers, desk and exclusive extras, including Hermès bath amenities, evening canapés, complimentary laundry, fresh fruit and flowers upon arrival, complimentary Curator Collection experiences and private car transfers to/from the airport

Dining + Entertainment  

  • Culinary delights are available around the clock and reflect the regional French, Southern and continental favorites of celebrated Chef de Cuisine Regina Charboneau
  • Convivial Welcome Reception and Farewell Dinner on every voyage
  • The Crescent Room the main dining room on the first level La Salle Deck is a plush jewel box designed for distinctive gourmet dining with open seating, featuring skilled tableside service for breakfast, lunch, and multi-course dinner, and then it transforms into a lively venue for an evening cabaret show
  • Veranda, a casual French Quarter-style bistro with indoor and outdoor open seating, serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, and savory and sweet crepes, beignets and specialty coffees and tea throughout the day, complete with an ever-changing backdrop of charming river town views from its aft perch atop the Champlain Deck
  • The French Quarter Lounge is just the first of three lounges, overlooking the bow on the Joliet Deck, featuring soft jazz nightly
  • The Great River Room is forward on the Marquette Deck and the location for quiet card games as well as private receptions and events
  • Bar Royale adjoining The Orleans Room is ideal for stylish pre-dinner aperitifs

2017 U.S. River Cruise Tour Itineraries

The 2016 Louisiane catalog, with detailed descriptions of itineraries that visit the Deep South, the Heart of America, River Crossroads and Wilderness Rivers, as well as highlights in all ports of call, is now available.

Bookings have also opened for 2017 itineraries, offered from March 4, 2017 to January 6, 2018, featuring 48 five- to 14-day experiential cruise tours New in 2017 are itineraries that also sail along the rarely visited Illinois and Arkansas rivers, and new 2017 destination ports that include Chattanooga, TN; Louisville, KY and Pittsburgh, PA, with pre-cruise one-night deluxe hotel stays prior to embarkation included in the tariff.

Sixteen 2017 itineraries offer the opportunity to spend the night onboard prior to disembarkation in four engaging ports of call, Louisville, KY; Memphis, TN; Natchez, MS, and St. Louis, MO, to permit personal explorations. Discover the allure of thoroughbred racing and aged bourbon; the beats of Beale Street; the charms of antebellum homes and southern entertaining, or the sights and tastes of Music City USA.

DEEP SOUTH™ itineraries will sail the Lower Mississippi and rarely-visited Red River beginning March 4, 2017, departing from New Orleans, LA and Memphis, TN.

MISSISSIPPI HEADWATERS™ itineraries will sail the Ohio, Mississippi and the rarely traveled Illinois River, departing from St. Louis, MO; St. Paul, MN and Chicago, IL.

RIVER CROSSROADS™ itineraries will sail the Ohio and Mississippi rivers beginning in St. Louis, MO; Louisville, KY, and Pittsburgh, PA.

WILDERNESS RIVERS™ itineraries will sail the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers beginning in Louisville, KY and Chattanooga, TN.

Partnership with French Heritage Society

French America Line has a newly formed partnership with the French Heritage Society.  Established in 1982, the French Heritage Society includes 12 chapters in the U.S. and France. Through various activities and educational programs, they facilitate the preservation, restoration and promotion of French heritage throughout France and the U.S. Their central mission of is to ensure that the treasures of our shared French architectural and cultural heritage survive to inspire future generations. This is done through restoration, preservation and cultural grants, educational programs, lectures and conferences. A portion of the sale of French America Line’s Curator Collection experiences will benefit the Society’s efforts along the Louisiane’s river routes.

To reserve or learn more, visit www.frenchamericaline.com or call 888-387-1140.

Preferred Partner with Journese 

French America Line has been named a preferred partner with Journese, the luxury brand of Pleasant Holidays, one of the country’s largest tour operators.

“French America Line is a great fit for Journese, as the new cruise line offers diverse and rarely sailed river cruises visiting charming American destinations with a wealth of amenities, enriching excursions and superb dining and entertainment that Journese guests are seeking. We’re proud to include Journese among the unique lifetime experiences our travel agency partners can offer their clients,” said Amy Comparato, Brand Director, Journese.

Journese is the luxury brand of Pleasant Holidays, offering fully customized four-and five-star journeys across the globe, including Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Cook Islands, Europe, Fiji, Mexico, New Zealand, The Hawaiian Islands, The Islands of Tahiti, United Arab Emirates and the United States. Serving vacationers since 1977, Journese provides boutique service, expert knowledge, private transportation options and upscale activities. Journese is a member of the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) and participates in the $1 million travelers’ assistance program. CST 1007939-10.

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Vermont Mountain Resorts Gear Up to Enhance Guest Experience On and Off Slopes

 

Okemo’s innovative bubble chairs take away the chill from ascending the snowy slopes, even when the temps are single digits outside  © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Okemo’s innovative bubble chairs take away the chill from ascending the snowy slopes, even when the temps are single digits outside © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Even as Vermont’s major ski resorts add imaginative new experiences on and off the mountain to new heights, high speed six-pax and bubble chairs, other resorts are promoting their “pure Vermont” roots and authentic ski experience, touting old fashioned fixed grip chair lifts, proudly proclaiming themselves “throwbacks” in time.

Vermont, which will take center stage with the first World Cup events to be held here in 25 years, is distinguished not only for the sheer number of mountain resorts, but the differences in their character, personality and features.

This year, the resorts throughout the state have really focused on enhancing snowmaking and  rounding out off-mountain experiences, in light of the mischief Mother Nature can play. But good news! Accuweather is predicting a normal year for snow in the Northeast.

So what is new for the 2016-17 winter season? Quite a lot. Vermont’s resorts have had a busy summer full of lodging and restaurant renovations, lift and off-slope amenity improvements, and historic event announcements.  

Killington Resort 

Killington Resort is bringing Alpine World Cup skiing back to the eastern US for the first time in 25 years when the Audi FIS Ski World Cup takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, November 26-27. Giant Slalom and Slalom races will pit the best female technical alpine skiers from 26 countries against one another on Superstar trail, the infamous New England steep that is regularly the Eastern US’s last remaining open ski trail through late May or June. The general public is invited to view the women’s giant slalom and slalom races in a free general admission area at the base of the trail with a jumbo screen for watching the full race course, plus a weekend loaded with festivities including free live music, multiple movie premieres and additional surprises to be announced.

Skiing Pico, which together with Killington, affords six mountains to explore, the largest ski resort in the Northeast. Killington is hosting the Alpine World Cup © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Skiing Pico, which together with Killington, affords six mountains to explore, the largest ski resort in the Northeast. Killington is hosting the Alpine World Cup © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Killington and Pico, with six mountains between them, is the largest ski area in the Northeast and open the longest, from mid-October (you can ski in costume on Halloween) sometimes as late as June. It also offers 15 km of groomed Nordic skiing; two golf courses. Also enjoy ziplines and a mountain coaster year round. (killington.com)

Magic Mountain

Magic is under new ownership in 2016-17 as SKI MAGIC LLC purchased the ski area with an initial 5-year plan to invest capital into lifts and snowmaking. With a robust operating budget and new snow guns, Magic will have more snow in 2016-17, made earlier than ever before to improve the consistency and reliability of skiing on both the easier East Side and more challenging West side trails. For the first time in years, both bottom-to-top summit lifts (1,600’ vertical) will be in full operation. There will also be new daycare facility for young parents and some refurbishing to the lodge and Black Line Tavern. It also offers ski school, rentals, tubing park (night), and a base lodge with restaurant and bar. There’s no lodging at the mountain, but plenty of quaint places nearby.

Located in Londonderry – south of Okemo, east of Bromley, north of Stratton- Magic Mountain is much like Mad River Glen, with terrain is its most distinguishing feature.

“Magic Mountain is for people whose #1 priority is skiing. It offers 43 trails, all running from top to bottom (the green trail is 1.2 miles from the top; the longest, Wizard, is 1.6 miles).

“Like Mad River Glen, Magic Mountain is a throwback – nothing fancy. We are ‘tree-mendous’ – lots of glades.” With the capital improvements, he says, Magic Mountain will “provide better ski experience – more lifts, snow making, more consistent product – but we’re not changing its character,” Geoff Hatheway, one of the new owners. In an industry which always changes – follow the leader – we’re counter-culture, a throwback, with a pace and style more like 1960s and 1970s. We’re old school – fixed grip chairs top and bottom – not high speed (no six-packs or detachable quads). It spreads people out. We have snowmaking on 50%.

“We want to sustain, preserve and enhance the ski experience. What differentiates us is the people, the friendly vibe, friendly. And value? We make skiing affordable – lift prices are lower even at ticket window.

Magic Mountain has joined the Freedom Pass program.

Magic Mountain is 2 hrs from Boston, 3 ½ hours from NYC, 90 minutes from Albany. (magicmtn.com).

Off-slope Activities Appeal to Everyone at Vermont Resorts

Stowe Mountain Resort

Brand new this winter at Stowe Mountain Resort is the opening of an $80 million Adventure Center. This state-of-the art facility sets a new standard in the industry for kids and family amenities, says Jeff Wise, Marketing & Communications Director. Located at Spruce Peak and adjacent to Stowe’s new outdoor Ice Skating Rink, Stowe’s Adventure Center is home to all Stowe’s children’s programs (3-12), with ski in/out convenience. From beautiful daycare facilities (largest in Vermont, accommodating 60) to ski and ride programs for kids 3 and up (accommodating 500 children a day), the new Adventure Center has significantly advanced and expanded family amenities and services at the resort.

“It sets a new standard – visionary – we can have 500-600 kids checking in within 30 minutes. It offers a seamless experience for the family,” Wise says.

After skiing (4 pm), the Adventure Center turns into a family recreation center, offering an Indoor Climbing Center (called Stowe Rocks), a movie theater, activity center, kids-specific restaurant ,The Canteen (after 4 pm is family friendly), and right outside the door, a new ice skating rink (free skating, but rentals available), lit til 9 pm. Also, an outdoor pool, heated year round (swim in/out of building, (there is also an indoor pool in lodge next door).

The new Adventure Center is the final piece of a 15-year, $500 million building program. “The big news is that it is finally finished.”

Part of that plan was the 312-room Stowe Mountain Lodge, built at a cost of $100 million, which opened 2008, offering ski in/out convenience and now recognized as one of Top 10 in the world.

Stowe is open longer than most, Nov 19-April 21 because of $30 million snowmaking system. “New technology can make more snow at higher temps than before (we start making snow on November 1), and in fewer than 20 days, we can get 20% of top to bottom done.”

Stowe has trails on Mt. Mansfield, part of Appalachian Trail and the highest point in Vermont, second highest in New England (after Mount Washington, where people ski Tuckerman’s Ravine).

Stowe (stowe.com) also offers 75 km of cross-country skiing that connects to the Trapp Family Lodge. (Trapp just opened a beer hall).

Always innovative, Stowe Mountain Lodge, which is managed by Destination Hotels, is celebrating the opening of the new adventure center with a “digital detox for the family” package, incentivizing people to give up their phone for a period of time in exchange for learning a new experience. There are 22 to choose from including “learn to” ski, snowboard, rock climb, fat-tire bike, try the spa (there is a kids spa, too). “We want ‘screenteens’ to turn back into regular teens,” says Leslie Kilgore, Director of Public Relations & Social Media. (www.stowemountainlodge.com)

Smugglers’ Notch Resort 

After investing $5 million in snowmaking enhancements over the last four winters, Smugglers’ Notch Resort is turning its attention to the resort village’s most popular amenity for families, the FunZone. The new 26,000 sq. ft. FunZone replaces a bubble with a multi-story, indoor steel structure opening in March (Smuggs is very much a 4-season resort).

One section of the new FunZone will feature inflatables, games and areas for imaginative play with primary appeal to families with kids ages 2 to 10. A second area will offer features with appeal to older children and adults such as a ninja warrior-type obstacle course, laser tag, a climbing wall, column walk, slot car racing, and arcade and redemption center. The new FunZone, a $4 million investment, is expected to open mid-winter 2016-17.

Skiing down Rumrunner trail at Smugglers’ Notch, a trailblazer in family programs  © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Skiing down Rumrunner trail at Smugglers’ Notch, a trailblazer in family programs © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Smugglers Notch, now in its 60th season, has always been the trailblazer in family programs (Ski Magazine for 16th time voted Smuggs the #1 family friendly resort in eastern US), including innovative Mommy & Me, Daddy & Me ski/snowboard lessons where the parent tags along and learns the techniques to continue the child’s training.

Now, Smuggs has introduced Riglet Park, a special snowboard area for the smallest kids. “It’s hard to learn snowboarding so we build features out of snow and drag them around –they  don’t just take up the hill,” says Mike Chait, who prior to becoming Public Relations Manager headed the Ski & Ride school. The program was developed by Chait with Burton, and means that youngsters as young as 2 ½ can start learning snowboarding (indoors), and 3 years old (outside). The day-care facility also has its own 20-foot magic carpet which gives a fun introduction to non-skiing kids.

Smuggs also pioneered packages that included programming, and this year, is catering to the shift in how guests vacation – shorter periods, more time (Link: smuggs.com/winterbrochure).

A relatively new Winter Experience is designed for family members or individuals who don’t ski, but want to be on the mountain, so they get to pick from a menu of programs, such as snowshoeing, massage.

Smugglers Notch is a true, full-service resort, albeit overwhelmingly with families in mind, so it is like camp for everybody (the information guide is huge booklet, so it is worth your while to plan ahead).

Among the special activities you should pre-arrange: a Nighttime Cat Trax Tour, where you ride a snowcat up steep vertical pitch to the mountain top at night –it feels like riding a space rover – to a heated cabin from which on a clear night, you can see Montreal.

Also a Parents Night Out activity takes you up to the top of the Notch for a Snowshoe Dinner. (This is offered in conjunction with Kids Nite Out, when the kids get pizza, make your own sundae, movies and dance party). Parents ride the chair up to a catered candle-lit dinner catered by Hearth n Candle (Smuggs’ signature restaurant) in a heated building  (BYOB). Then, you take a guided snowshoe hike to Sterling Pond, the highest elevation trout pond. (Offered once/week ($75)  (4323 Vermont Rte 108 South, Smugglers’ Notch VT 05464, www.smuggs.com).

 Okemo Mountain Resort 

After several years of major snowmaking improvements totaling more than $1 million, Okemo is expanding its snowmaking system again. 18,000 feet of new pipe will introduce snowmaking capabilities on Catnap and Suncatcher in the South Face area. A Prinoth Bison X park cat, equipped with a Caterpillar 400 horsepower, tier 4 engine that meets all federal emission standards, is the newest addition to Okemo’s fleet of grooming machines as Okemo enters its third year of partnership with Snowpark Technologies. Rental equipment upgrades include 515 Volkl skis, 153 Burton snowboards and more than 1,000 pairs of boots.

Also, Okemo has joined the M.A.X Pass family of resorts this year. Okemo season passholders can take their pass on the road – up to 30 mountains (including Okemo’s sister mountain, Crested Butte in Colorado) with an Add-On upgrade.

Ski in/out convenience and a whole lot more at Jackson Gore Lodge at Okemo Mountain Resort © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Ski in/out convenience and a whole lot more at Jackson Gore Lodge at Okemo Mountain Resort © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Among the many attractions at Okemo (including indoor and outdoor pools at Jackson Gore, the ski in/out lodge), is a year-round mountain coaster.

Okemo is now offering scenic train rides –a shuttle takes you to the Green Mountain Railroad station in Chester, 20 miles south, for its slow ride back to Okemo. It offers a dining car so you can do dinner on the train. It takes one hour each way. Okemo offers the ride twice, four days a week ($25, booked through Okemo). (okemo.com)

Stratton Mountain Resort

Stratton Mountain Resort announces an addition to the vibrant slope-side Village dining fleet– Karma: an Asian fusion experience. A menu inspired by the Asian travels of Karma’s chef will debut with traditional ramen bowls and dumplings fresh-made with local ingredients, imaginative entrees and craft cocktails with a twist like vodka filtered through Herkimer diamonds for a side of positive energy.

Stratton Mountain Resort is offering jitney transportation from Manhattan to its slopes © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Stratton Mountain Resort is offering jitney transportation from Manhattan to its slopes © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Stratton’s snowmaking fleet gets a new computerized control system, allowing snowmakers to record real time energy use for increased snowmaking efficiency.

The Mountain Sports School welcomes Tim Massucco as its new Program Manager for the Stratton Winter Sports Club Freestyle. Massucco’s 16 years of coaching experience will enhance the training curriculums critical to the success of weekend and full-time competitive freestyle skiers.

The Stratton Jitney which began last year will again take skiers from Manhattan on Friday, returning Sunday afternoon (beginning December).

And in another incentive for millennials, its Stratitude Pass is now available for 18-32 year olds (instead of 1829) – $349 and no blackout days. (Stratton.com)

Mount Snow Resort

Winter 2016-2017 welcomes Mount Snow’s greatest season pass offering yet, the Peak Pass, which features a total of six pass options valid at seven different mountain locations across four states in the Northeast. And Mount Snow extended the period for millennials, 18-29, to purchase its pass for $399 through Dec. 15 (no blackouts).

With the success of the Grommet Jam Series, Mount Snow is increasing the uphill capacity in its beginner terrain park by 50 percent, by replacing our Ski Baba Lift with a 400’ SunKid conveyor called Grommet (Lift One).

Lastly, taking advantage of the dry spring this year Mount Snow increased trail and glades work. So far over 1600+ hours have been spent pruning, mowing and clearing new lines through tree skiing areas in preparation for powdery runs this winter.

Mount Snow’s terrain park has been voted #1 in the East and #6 in North America. “It’s not often an East Coast resort is in the top 10,” says Jamie Storrs, Communications Manager. “We are where the X Games started. Our lead pro, Devan Logan, is the most decorated Olympian, winning gold in the last Olympics, and the captain of team. He is the face of our professional team – we have 11 people on team – who are out there training most days.” Guests can watch.

Mount Snow is the most southerly of the major Vermont ski resorts. (West Dover, VT 05356, mountsnow.com).

Sugarbush Resort 

Sugarbush has invested $750,000 into capital improvements for the 2016-17 winter season which including lift improvements and improvements to the snowmaking pond, continuing to progress upon the on-slope experience. Skiers and riders don’t have to worry about crowded trails thanks to the Valley House Quad Sugarbush installed last season. With the new quad, Sugarbush’s uphill capacity is one of the largest in the northeast, while still managing to spread traffic across 16 lifts and two mountains. The resort has also completed Gadd Brook Residences, sixteen ski-in/ski-out condominiums at the base of Lincoln Peak available as two-, three-, and four-bedroom units.

Sugarbush, located in central Vermont, offers 139 trails on two mountains connected by the world’s longest detachable quad lift, and 2,000 acres of back-country skiing (there is a shuttle to take you back). (www.sugarbush.com)

Bolton Valley

One of the special features of Bolton Valley, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season, is that it offers night skiing, and this year, night skiing hours are being expanded. Night skiing will be offered Tuesday through Saturday until 10 pm – that means you can ski Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 10 pm, and Saturdays from 9 am to 10 pm (the daily ticket is good for night skiing). “There are amazing sunsets from the mountain, overlooking Lake Champlain in the west,” says Josh Arneson, VP of sales and marketing.

Bolton Valley’s lodge, visited in summer, was one of the first ski in/out lodges in the East when the resort was founded 50 years ago, has been renovated; the resort’s expansive backcountry can be seen behind the lodge © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Bolton Valley’s lodge, visited in summer, was one of the first ski in/out lodges in the East when the resort was founded 50 years ago, has been renovated; the resort’s expansive backcountry can be seen behind the lodge © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bolton Valley is also renowned for their extensive 1,200-acre backcountry area, where they have two backcountry cabins– one from 1928 and the other from 1935 – which are available for winter stays (the cabins hadn’t been available for two years while they were being renovated by the Green Mountain Club). Rugged and rustic, you get up there with your own supplies (sleeping back, food) – firewoord is provided – and can stay over.

There are also 15 km of groomed x-country trails, but above that is backcountry skiing.

Skiers will enjoy the benefits of more snowmaking, so Bolton Valley can make snow earlier and get to more trails faster.

Bolton Valley’s hallmark is its rustic, unpretentious quality – a step up from Magic Mountain and Mad River Glen because it has ski in/out lodging and indoor pool (the cafe and bar have been renovated). But it also has some unique programs: artist Natasha Bogar, who did the art that is in the hotel rooms, offers Paint Nights, where you come to paint and have a beer.

Over the past year most suites and 25 hotel rooms at Bolton Valley have received major upgrades. The units have seen improvements such as new carpet, drapes, furniture, painting, renovated bathrooms, new mattresses and new artwork. The improvements greatly enhance guest comfort in the rooms that had become a bit dated. Indeed, the hotel was one of the first ski in/ski out lodgings in the east when it was built.

Bolton Valley, the popular playground for Burlington, is celebrating its 50th anniversary year. “We’re planning to paint the 50th chair on the three original lifts gold – and if you get the golden chair, you might win something,” Arneson says.

This year, Bolton Valley has eliminated the $50 upgrade for the Freedom Pass add-on to its seasonal pass, giving unlimited skiing at the home mountain plus three free days at each of the 12 other areas in the program, from Eagle Crest in Alaska to Lost Valley in Maine (www.boltonvalley.com/tickets-passes-rentals/seasons-passes/Freedom-Pass).

Mad River Glen

Mad River Glen’s goal is to maintain and preserve the experience rather than overhaul or upgrade it.

“We’re the food truck of ski areas – authenticity – only cooperatively owned, nonprofit.

2000 skier-owners are dedicated to keeping Mad River Glen the way it is – a time warp.”

“The ability of Mad River Glen to consistently reinvest in the mountain’s infrastructure is a testament to the success of the Cooperative. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere. In 20 years of co-op ownership, Mad River Glen has invested over $5 million in capital improvements.

Mad River Glen is located five miles from Sugarbush (www.madriverglen.com)

Suicide Six Ski Area

Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Suicide Six Ski Area replaces chair #1 with a new quad chairlift that will double capacity, offering a more comfortable and rapid ascent to the summit. Leitner-Poma of America, Inc., installed the lift at an estimated cost of $1.5 million. Funding for the new chairlift is being provided through a grant from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund. Recognized as one of the oldest ski areas in the country, Suicide Six has a rich history. Today, Suicide Six is one of Vermont’s leading family-friendly ski resorts featuring more than 100 acres of skiing on 24 trails and slopes with terrain suitable for all abilities. (www.woodstockinn.com/ski-area)

Bromley Mountain Resort

Green Team Go! With a focus on both establishing new habits and reinforcing current good ones, Bromley rethinks trash, recycling and composting food waste to implement a “Go Green” initiative this winter season. The intent is to eliminate organic waste and all recyclables from the Bromley dumpsters containing refuse destined for the landfill. Recycling for bottles and cans has always been available around the resort, but not universally across the base area, and composting has never been an option. This season bring change and while Bromley works towards keeping the planet beautiful, they’re pleased to announce that base area buildings have also received a makeover. (bromley.com)

Jay Peak Resort

The folks at Jay Peak are still of the mind that the 5,000 acres between their borders represent one massive terrain park, but they understand the need for focus. So this season the resort is increasing the snowmaking capacity to its LZ and Jug Handle parks by 60%, running a new waterline up the Interstate trail and installing 20 new guns along the Interstate. The expansion will not only allow Jay Peak parks to open sooner, but will also  allow the resort to open learning terrain at its Tramside area earlier in the season. (jaypeakresort.com)

The Hermitage Club

The Hermitage Club, in Wilmington, has taken over Haystack Mountain as a private club, investing $125 million in the redevelopment, with $285 million more to go.

At its busiest, there would only be about 1100 people on the mountain at any one time. It offers fine restaurants and inns.

“The Hermitage Club is looking forward to providing one of the fastest and most efficient ski experiences in the northeast. Not only do our members enjoy the absence of lift lines, our high-speed summit lift is the only one of its kind in the U.S. – a six-person heated bubble lift by Doppelmayr, zipping our skiers to the top of the mountain in less than six minutes. And take a break and enjoy the beverages and views at our Mid-Mountain Cabin, which has become a veritable slope side oasis for our members.” (hermitageclub.com)

Quechee Club

The Quechee Club ushers in a new experience for its members, visitors and area guests this winter season with the completion of a newly constructed Aquatic Complex and fitness club expansion. The complex includes a new indoor pool area with an aerobics room, in addition to implementing a new retention pond. The indoor complex, approximately 10,000 square feet, is twice the size of its initial pool  and includes four lap lanes and an open concept design with natural post and beam architecture to complement the refined yet understated aesthetics of the Clubhouse.(www.quecheeclub.com)

Mountaintop Inn & Resort

Mountaintop Inn & Resort is a four-season resort that in winter, affords top-notch cross-country skiing on 60 km of trails.

It offers a 32-room lodge plus 4 cabins and 23 guest houses, literally set on the top of a mountain, with a 748-acre lake and spa (known for weddings and particularly winter weddings).

The inn is 15 miles from Killington, and it offers packages that include lift tickets, as well as shuttle service to the mountain. (195 Mountain top Road, Chittenden, VT 05737, www.mountaintopinn.com).

Burke Mountain Resort

The Lodge at Burke Mountain will finally open its doors on September 1st with introductory rates starting from $109/night during its first month of daily service.  The 116 room Hotel is situated mid-mountain and provides a true ski-in ski-out experience.  Suites range from a standard studio to three bedroom with onsite amenities including a pub, restaurant, heated pool & hot tub, fitness center, arcade, retail and repair shop for guests to enjoy.  Striking views of the Willoughby Gap and Burke Mountain can be seen from nearly every window in the Hotel. (skiburke.com, 866-966-4820).

For more information, visit Ski Vermont (Vermont Ski Areas Association), skivermont.com

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ Halloween Events – Ghouls & All – Return to Historic Hudson Valley

Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Horseman's Hollow at Philipsburg © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Washington Irving’s macabre tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” is the inspiration for Horseman’s Hollow, a spectacularly produced interactive Halloween haunted attraction at the colonial-era Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

It is one of a series of Historic Hudson Valley’s Halloween season spectacular events taking place over an unprecedented 32 nights. They are the largest Halloween events in the tri-state area and are expected to draw more than 150,000 visitors to Sleepy Hollow Country. They take place in several Historic Hudson Valley venues, each one an important attraction.

Washington Irving’s macabre tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow inspires Horseman’s Hollow, an interactive haunted attraction taking place over 14 nights at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, an estate that dates back to colonial times. But for Halloween, it is stocked with professional actors and state-of-the-art special effects and lighting. Take note: Horseman’s Hollow has a high fear factor, which is why it is so popular with teenagers. (Recommended for ages 10 and up.)

Irving’s ‘Legend,’ recommended for ages 10 and up, brings the master storyteller Jonathan Kruk into the historic, candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church, where for 14 afternoons and evenings he offers a dramatic re-telling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow accompanied by live organ music.

The Legend Behind the ‘Legend’ is a daytime experience at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside homestead in Tarrytown, N.Y., that highlights the author of the famous story.

Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And continuing for a record 32 selected evenings through Nov. 13, The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze® is the Hudson Valley’s biggest all-ages Halloween extravaganza. A small team of artists comes together to carve more than 7,000 jacks, many fused together in elaborate constructions such as life-size dinosaurs and eight-foot-tall working jack-o’lanterns-in-the-box, all lit up throughout the wooded walkways, orchards, and gardens of historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Headless Horseman Rides Again

Philipsburg Manor, is but a few miles up the road from Washington Irving’s homestead at Sunnyside and, legend has it, is the setting for his classic story. The village, which was once known as North Tarrytown, actually changed its name to Sleepy Hollow in 1996.

But here at the 350-year old Philipsburg Manor, one of the Historic Hudson Valley historic sites, you can easily imagine the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as Irving saw it in his mind.

Now in its 7th year, Horseman’s Hollow, which welcomed more than 30,000 visitors last year, is a haunted experience in the heart of Sleepy Hollow that takes the tale of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to its darkest extremes. Historic Philipsburg Manor transforms into a terrifying landscape ruled by the undead, the evil, and the insane, all serving the Headless Horseman himself.

For 14 nights, historic Philipsburg Manor transforms into a terrifying landscape ruled by the undead, the evil, and the insane, all serving the Headless Horseman himself.

Colonial ghouls inhabit Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Colonial ghouls inhabit Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 300-year old manor house, barn and gristmill of the Philipses, a family of Anglo-Dutch merchants who owned the 50,000 acre- estate, become the sets and the backdrop for the really, really ghoulish hauntings by colonial spirits.

Haunted house professional Lance Hallowell is back this year to lead a crew of award-winning makeup and costume designers and a 45-member-strong cast of experienced actors to create an immersive, interactive, pleasantly terrifying experience, with state-of-the-spooky-art special effects.

Custom built set pieces and period-correct costumes help orient the experience in Philipsburg Manor’s traditional time period of the mid-1700s.

What is best about Horseman’s Hollow is the sheer number (and talent) of the live spirits – they are very considerate, too – they seem to know just how much to terrify you (though really squeamish and young children should not come). I have found that if the ghouls sense you are easily frightened (like me), they tend to take down a notch their scare factor (I basically announce that I am easily frightened as I enter one of the venues).

But the professional actors and state-of-the-art special effects, contributes to a high fear factor (it’s recommended for ages 10 and up and is not for the squeamish and you need to take heed of the warning: This event is NOT suitable for adults who are claustrophobic, have heart or respiratory conditions, are prone to seizures, or have other chronic health conditions.)

As we start our experience, walking up a dirt path that rings the pond, a faceless colonial escorts us for a time, then goes into the trees to surprise a group of teenagers who are following behind. With each step through the woods, you leave the modern world behind and suspend disbelief.

Timed tickets mean that it isn’t overcrowded (safety in numbers?) – but as we walk through (guided by helpful spirits with lanterns who lead us to the next haunted house), we hear the screams of a pack of teenage girls in the distant dark. It adds to the atmosphere.

The Headless Horseman comes out of the shadows at Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Headless Horseman comes out of the shadows at Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Look carefully in the deepest, darkest shadow, and there is the Headless Horseman himself, astride his steed, standing quietly as if taking in the scene or simply delighting in the terror of recognition as the clueless passerby realizes who is lurking in the dark.

Horseman’s Hollow dates are Oct. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 27-31. Online tickets are $20 ($25 on Saturdays).  Fast Track, for a $15 per ticket upgrade, lets visitors skip the line in their timeslot. Historic Hudson Valley members receive a$5 per ticket discount.

Philipsburg Manor is at 381 North Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow. (There is a parking field.)

Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

The Headless Horseman, in lighted jack o’lanterns, at Blaze © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Headless Horseman, in lighted jack o’lanterns, at Blaze © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com


The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze, which drew more than 130,000 visitors last year, features more than 7,000 illuminated, individually hand-carved jack o’ lanterns. Elaborate single-pumpkin carvings and huge multi-jack o’lantern constructions are professionally lit throughout the landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor in various themed areas.

Favorite installations such as Jurassic Park and the giant spider web are joined this year by new creations including a plus-sized Pumpkin Planetarium, a Pumpkin Zee Bridge, and a brand-new herd of pint-sized dinosaurs all made of jack o’lanterns.

Creative Director Michael Natiello leads a small team of Historic Hudson Valley staff and local artists who carve. In addition, more than 2,000 volunteers help scoop and light the pumpkins. You can watch Blaze artists carving on site during the event.

Vernon Ford demonstrates pumpkin carving at Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Vernon Ford demonstrates pumpkin carving at Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Café Blazé, by Geordane’s of Irvington, offers culinary treats including soup, veggie chili, muffins, pumpkin cookies, and cider. The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze Shop has a full bounty of Blaze-specific merchandise including hats, notepads, games, T-shirts, magnets, caps, mugs, and jewelry.

New music this year created by professional musician, radio personality, and Halloween fanatic Richard Christy will augment the visitor experience. The new tracks as well as music from Christy’s Blaze: The Soundtrack Volume I & II play throughout the event. (Soundtrack Volume II is available as a CD at the event and both volumes are available as digital downloads and streams from iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.)

Blaze dates are Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2, 7-10, 13-16, 19-31, Nov. 3-6, 10-13. Online tickets are $20 for adults ($25 on Saturdays), $16 for children 3-17 ($20 on Saturdays), and free for children under 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members.

Van Cortlandt Manor is at 525South Riverside Avenue, just off Route 9 in Croton-on-Hudson (A parking field is on site).

Irving’s ‘Legend’

Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk offers a dramatic re-telling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” accompanied by live organ music in the candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk offers a dramatic re-telling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” accompanied by live organ music in the candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Master storyteller Jonathan Krukoffers a dramatic re-telling of Washington Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, featuring the Headless Horseman, Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, and Katrina Van Tassel. Flavored with live spooky organ music by Jim Keyes, Kruk’s storytelling takes place in the historic, candlelit setting of the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow. The circa-1685 stone church is across the street from Philipsburg Manor, where visitors will park. Performances last about 45 minutes.

Irving’s ‘Legend’ dates are Oct. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 27-31. Seating is very limited and there are three performances each evening. Online tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for children under 18. Historic Hudson Valley members receive a $5 per ticket discount.

Legend Behind the ‘Legend’

Sunnyside, the home of Washington Irving, celebrates its connection to Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, at this family friendly daytime event. The Legend Behind the ‘Legend includes tours of Irving’s home – a colorful blend of architectural styles – which showcase numerous objects from HHV’s collection related to Irving’s famous story. Visitors can also enjoy a shadow puppet performance of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and experience one of Irving’s spooky tales on a walk through the woods. Sunnyside is on West Sunnyside Lane, off Route 9 in Tarrytown.

Legend Behind the ‘Legend’ dates are Oct. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30. Online tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for children 3-17, and free for those under 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members.

All events are held rain or shine. Proceeds support Historic Hudson Valley, the Tarrytown-based private, non-profit educational organization that owns and operates the historic sitesthat host these events.
Because of the popularity of these events, it is essential to purchase tickets in advance.

Buy tickets online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-366-6900 ($2 per ticket surcharge for phone orders and for tickets purchased onsite, if available).

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

What’s Up on the Colorado Ski Country USA Slopes this Season

Copper Mountain, Colorado is one of the Colorado Ski Country USA resorts participating in The M.A.X. Pass program as well as the Rocky Mountain Super Pass © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Copper Mountain, Colorado is one of the Colorado Ski Country USA resorts participating in The M.A.X. Pass program as well as the Rocky Mountain Super Pass © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

For the 2016/17 season, Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) guests will find new dining options, new chairlifts and new terrain enhancements, expanded air service, as well as other improvements that elevate the premier skiing and snowboarding as well as the apres experience at CSCUSA resorts.

Many of the resorts can be experienced as part of Ski Pass programs (which typically pay for themselves in about five days), such as the M.A.X. Pass which, in addition to a full complement of Northeastern resorts features five CSCUSA members (and the five-days at each can be an added on for $299 to a local unlimited season pass): Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Steamboat, Crested Butte and Eldora, which gives visitors 5 days at each resort and The Rocky Mountain Super Pass that gives six days each at Steamboat, Crested Butte, Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Eldora.

Here’s a summary of the many upgrades, improvements and what makes CSCUSA resorts special that guests will enjoy during the 2016/17 ski season:

Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain is introducing an all-access Copper Pass that provides unlimited visits to the Woodward Barn, a unique indoor training facility where you can learn and practice freestyle techniques in a safe environment (for example, you go down an artificial slope into a pool of plastic balls). It’s just one of the reasons why Copper is such a special place for teens, particularly.

Copper Mountain is introducing an all-access Copper Pass that provides unlimited visits to the Woodward Barn, a unique indoor training facility where you can learn and practice freestyle techniques in a safe environment (photo by Dave E. Leiberman)
Copper Mountain is introducing an all-access Copper Pass that provides unlimited visits to the Woodward Barn, a unique indoor training facility where you can learn and practice freestyle techniques in a safe environment (photo by Dave E. Leiberman)

Copper offers many distinctive features: a noon groom, where a trail is kept pristine until the afternoon; free snowcat rides up to Tucker Mountain for a backcountry-type advanced experience on weekends (first come, first-served, but you can take as many rides as you like); free snowshoe tours (fantastic),  One of the most convenient major Rocky Mountain ski resorts to reach from Denver International Airport, it’s just 75 miles and reached by a host of shuttles (about $40-60), and there’s no need for a car once you arrive at the resort, which is actually three pedestrian villages and three mountains (a naturally divided terrain, progressing in difficulty from the easiest terrain to the more difficult as you move east), linked by free, shuttle buses (frequent service).

Check the website for value packages, but one this year is “1-2 Free” (book 2 nights of lodging, and the third is free); also third day of rentals are free; third day of Youth or Group lessons are free. Also: free 1/2 day lift ticket to be used on day of arrival or departure per Adult Two Day Secret Pass purchased; kids 12 & younger ski FREE (Adult 2 day ticket required); -FREE Secret! Pass upgrade – early access / skip lines. Tubing: Purchase two or more sessions and save 33%.

And for those looking for luxury accommodations: White River Luxury Rentals will allow guests to book units through the White River Luxury Rentals website and coppercolorado.com.

For more information, visit www.coppercolorado.com.

Winter Park 

Children’s Ski program at Winter Park, Colorado © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Children’s Ski program at Winter Park, Colorado © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

What’s special about Winter Park is that this is a world-class resort with fantastic skiing and non-skiing activities, a terrific base village, skating rink, and all the amenities, yet it is owned by the city of Denver (managed by Intrawest). And this year, The Winter Park Express ski train returns, restoring passenger rail service from Denver’s Union Station to the slopes of Winter Park (weekends and holiday Mondays beginning Saturday, January 7 through Sunday, March 26, leaving Denver 7 am), the only service of its kind in the United States. The train leaves Denver at 7 am, arriving at the slopes at 8:30; and you can buy a one-way ticket so you can overnight and return at 4:30 pm, to arrive back in Denver at 6 pm ($39/one way, kids half-price).

This is phenomenal for business travelers and visitors to Denver who want to extend their stay with a ski holiday; out-of-towners can use the light rail (Light rail $8) from Denver International Airport and overnight (and acclimate to altitude) in Denver; or, take a shuttle directly from DIA and the ski train back to Denver.

Ice skating at Winter Park, Colorado © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Ice skating at Winter Park, Colorado © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are four new state-of-the-art snowcats that can be used year-round to trim trees and bushes in the summer that have a tendency to peek through the snow in the winter. At peak output the resort will be able to groom almost 1,000 acres, which is a lot of corduroy. This year, Winter Park is participating in the M.A.X. Pass program (www.themaxpass.com) as well as The Rocky Mountain Super Pass. (www.winterparkresort.com)

Steamboat

One of the special experiences at Steamboat, which claims more Olympians than any other resort, is the opportunity to take free lessons with one of the most famous American Olympians, Billy Kidd, the first American to win an Olympic medal; now in his 70s, he teaches intermediate and advanced skiers for free); another famous Olympian, also Nelson Carmichael, who medaled in moguls, teaches a free clinic in moguls (advanced). “Sometimes there are five in the group, sometimes 50.” More free: free guided snowshoeing (you pay for rentals), and free guided ski tours.

Famous for its Rocky Mountain cowboy feel, Steamboat is very family-focused – it was one of the first to offer kids ski free program (kids still ski free with adult for five days and rent free if adult rents), opens the season with a new high speed detachable quad (replaced old lift) which gets skiers up the mountain in less than half the time. What is more, this is the third season that Steamboat offers night skiing (Thursday to Monday, 5-8 pm, in spring, 5:30-8:30 pm’ 1000 vertical feet, beginner to advanced).

Steamboat’s new mountain coaster will operate year-round in the vicinity of Christie Peak Express lift. The mountain coaster will allow guests to ride a gravity driven sled up the mountain and then slide down the rails while controlling the sled.

For 2016/17 Steamboat is replacing its Elkhead fixed-grip quad with a Dopplemayr high-speed detachable quad, cutting ride times by more than half. Safety bars will also be added to the new lift. The increased speed and capacity of the new Elkhead lift is expected to substantially improve the guest experience in the popular Sunshine and Priest Creek areas of the mountain, especially at lunchtime and end-of-day egress. Skiers will also benefit from improvements to snowmaking include a new Leitwolf snowcat and an upgrade to the pumphouse to increase water capacity for snowmaking.

You can fly directly into Hayden Airport (30 minutes from the ski resort) from Newark and (new this year) from San Diego, and ski free that day with a boarding pass, just show your boarding pass at the ticket office. If you’re arriving on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you can ski free Thursday night. With an evening departure, Alaska Airlines passengers can ski for free that day before the flight (minimum two-day lift ticket).

Steamboat’s winter air program continues to grow with the addition of nonstop flights from San Diego International Airport (SAN) to Steamboat/Hayden Airport (HDN) on Alaska Airlines for the 2016/17 ski and snowboard season. The twice-weekly flight will operate Wednesdays and Saturdays from Dec. 17 to March 25 on a 76-seat E175 jet, operated by SkyWest Airlines. The 2016/17 air program increases nonstop markets served to 12 major cities in the fourth consecutive year of nonstop flight growth.

In addition to the new San Diego flight, the winter air program will provide larger aircraft flying into Steamboat/Hayden Airport and a focus on expanding service during popular travel periods. Alaska Airlines guests will enjoy nonstop flights on an E175 aircraft, which offers more capacity and amenities, including a first class cabin and Preferred Plus seating with extra leg room. United Airlines also will fly bigger jets this winter, including an upgrade to a 737-800 for nonstop Chicago Saturday flights that will increase seats from 70 to 166. Capacity on United flights from Newark will increase from 150 to 166 seats, and the Washington-Dulles flight will go from 128 to 150 seats. More nonstop access also will be available for guests flying from Dallas during the holidays with American Airlines adding 14 days of flights in addition to regularly scheduled daily service during that time.

Steamboat’s air program now provides nonstop access from 12 major airports on Alaska, American, Delta and United Airlines as well as convenient connections from more than 300 airports nationwide and worldwide, making Steamboat one of the most easily accessed resorts in the Rocky Mountains. Airfares and packages are currently available for purchase at Steamboat.com/flights or by calling Steamboat Central Reservations® at 1-800-922-2722.

A new flight will offer travelers a chance to experience Steamboat’s legendary Champagne Powder® with a direct flight from San Diego International Airport (SAN) to Steamboat/Hayden Airport (HDN). Alaska Airlines will fly routes twice a week from Dec. 17, 2016 to March 25, 2017.

Steamboat, which is owned by Intrawest (also owns Killington and Snowshoe and manages Winter Park) is part of the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus.

SVIP package: Save up to 25% on lifts and lodging plus get complimentary VIP experiences: https://www.steamboat.com/plan-your-trip/deals-and-packages/svip

For more information, visit www.steamboat.com. 

Crested Butte 

Torchlight parade and fireworks at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Save up to $300 when you fly directly into Gunnison regional airport (photo supplied by CBMR)
Torchlight parade and fireworks at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Save up to $300 when you fly directly into Gunnison regional airport (photo supplied by CBMR)

Crested Butte has a split personality: the modern, self-contained ski resort on the mountain is a few miles away from a charming, historic coal mining town. It’s an authentic destination, without crowds, where festive community events are a priority, and genuine family adventure awaits. With wide open beginner and intermediate runs, great terrain parks and some of Colorado’s best in-bounds extreme terrain, the mountain has something for everyone.

An historic coal mining turned ski town; Crested Butte is a place that lives and breathes outdoor adventure where the only limits are your own. An authentic destination, where crowds don’t exist, zany, festive community events are a priority, and genuine family adventure awaits. With wide open beginner and intermediate runs, great terrain parks and some of Colorado’s best in-bounds extreme terrain, the mountain has something for everyone. Be sure to check out the town of Crested Butte: Colorado’s Last Great Ski Town, it’ll leave you wondering why you don’t call this place home.

A new program at the resort debuting this season, Women’s Tips on Tuesday’s, is a half-day women’s specific ski school led by Crested Butte’s top female pros that finishes with a glass of wine.

Receive up to a $300 airfare credit per person when you fly into the conveniently located Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport (GUC) and stay at The Grand Lodge, Lodge at Mountaineer Square or most CBMR managed lodging properties. The offer is valid on nonstop flights from Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH) and Los Angeles (LAX) to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport. (Restrictions apply. Subject to availability. Limited time offer.

Save up to $300 per airline ticket when traveling to Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) via Gunnison/Crested Butte airport (direct flights from Denver, Dulles, Houston, Los Angeles). Savings based upon originating city and travel dates; restrictions apply. More information at www.skicb.com/information/save-big-airfare (800-544-8448, snow report 970-349-2323, info@cbmr.com, skicb.com.

Book Early and Save BIG: Combine airfare offers with CBMR’s Book Early Save Big Promotion: : Get 25% off lodging when you book 4 nights or more by October 15; get 20% off lodging when you book by November 15 (based on availability; no blackout dates). Discount lift tickets are available with lodging reservation.

Crested Butte is the sister resort to the popular Okemo Resort in Vermont and Sunapee in new Hampshire, and all three pare part of the M.A.X. Pass, which means that season pass holders can, for $299 add on, get five days each at the other resorts (along with unlimited skiing at the home resort), or with just the pass ($599), have 5 days at each of 32 resort (the pass pays for itself in 6 days or less). Also, pass holders get 20% off lodging.

Aspen-Snowmass 

Aspen will host the 2017 Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals March 15-17, 2017, marking the first time the event has been held in the U.S. in 20 years. The races will feature the best men’s and women’s alpine skiing athletes in the world competing in downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and nation’s team event.

Aspen is excited to be hosting the World Cup Men’s and Women’s Finals, March 15-17, 2017  – marking the first time the event has been held in the U.S. in 20 years. The races will feature the best men’s and women’s alpine skiing athletes in the world competing in downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and nation’s team event.

Visitors will be able to watch the events for free on the hill, but there is still plenty of skiing – Aspen-Snowmass is really four ski areas, each with a very distinct personality and ambiance: Aspen is a historic mining town with a hip vibe, the mountain itself is geared for intermediates and advanced; Snowmass is a complete, self-contained full-service ski resort with a full complement of ski terrain (a new lift was added to Gwyn’s High Alpine last year), lodgings styles, restaurants (Gwyn’s High Alpine Restaurant capacity is being increased from 350 to 800, and a new bar has a large wood-burning fire and big-screen televisions); Buttermilk is a great learning mountain; and Aspen Highlands (relatively secluded and challenging). (www.aspensnowmass.com)

Lodging Deal: Aspen’s The Little Nell  offers a “Ski Free in Aspen” package, which includes two complimentary ski passes to four incredible mountains – Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass – for each day you stay at The Little Nell, staying a minimum of three nights. Ski passes do not include guest arrival and departure days (as most prefer to acclimate to the altitude upon arrival and soak up town on departure). (Based on availability. black out dates. Not combinable with other offers (www.thelittlenell.com/offers).

For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com. 

Arapahoe Basin 

Arapahoe Basin March 19, 2016 - Bruce Ruff on East Wall 2016. (Photo by Dave Camara)
Arapahoe Basin March 19, 2016 – Bruce Ruff on East Wall 2016.
(Photo by Dave Camara)

Arapahoe Basin, a small (by Colorado standards), unpretentious, privately owned mountain, is just next door to Keystone, one of the Vail Resorts, and provides a totally different experience which you can enjoy either on its own (though Arapahoe Basin doesn’t have its own lodging), or free with your Keystone lift ticket or VailResorts EpicPass (a free shuttle between Keystone and A-Basin is provided by the county November through March).

To celebrate A-Basin’s 70th Anniversary, the resort has made significant investments into improving the base area including renovating buildings, improving walkways and ramps, upgrading skier services, expanding Arapahoe Sports and providing better outdoor seating and viewing areas for the main stage.

This is a “confidence building” mountain offering amazing extreme terrain, and some groomed intermediate terrain but is mainly for more accomplished skiers. The views, Adrienne Saia Isaac, Marketing & Communications Manager, tells me, are “breathtaking, like no place else in Colorado.” This year, Dream, the Toronto-based real estate development company that owns the mountain, is investing $4 million in upgrades including an expansion of its intermediate terrain and glade skiing (most of the mountain is above the tree line), kids programs and restaurant.

“We’re turning 70 but keeping up with the times. We offer a different experience from resort – friendlier, more inclusive for families.”

A-Basin has recently updated all of its webcams, installing new ones last season in the base area and facing the Pali terrain and invested in a partnership with Prism for the Divide Cam, situated at the summit. (www.arapahoebasin.com)

Telluride 

The beloved Telluride Mountain Village Gondola system, which links the mountain village with the historic town, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in December. A celebration with a series of events and a festive gala will take place during the anniversary month while a number of events will take place to celebrate the Gondola and its contribution to the region throughout the season.

Telluride’s newest restaurant, Altezza at the Peaks, offers incredible views. Altezza, which means “height” in Italian, offers an Italian-inspired menu, with a variety of main courses such as traditional pastas and Colorado-inspired dishes. To broaden the overall resort experience, Telluride is adding a number of ongoing, free, family-friendly events to take place when the lifts stop turning for the day including a kids’ zone, a holiday prelude and movie series, other movie nights and live music in the mountain village.

New this year, Telluride, a charming historic town at the base of an incredible ski resort set in the San Juan Mountains, with dramatic peaks and stunning views, has joined The Mountain Collective – a collection of independent resorts, Aspen-Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Taos and Monarch –  which gives two free days each at  (additional days at 50% off the window ticket rate). Telluride is independently owned by Chuck Horning since 2004.

“We’re not a mega resort – part of the enchantment is that we are not close to other resorts or Denver International Airport. You feel like you have the place to yourself. The San Juan Mountains are spectacular – the Alps of Colorado. Stunning, dramatic,’ in your face’ mountains.”

The mountain offers all levels of abilities and terrain – 60 percent rated beginner and intermediate.

Last year, the resort took over the on-mountain luxury Peaks Resort & Spa, which boasts one of the largest spas in Colorado, at 42,000 sq. ft., indoor/outdoor pool.

This year, there is increased direct air access from the New York area (Newark), Saturday and Sunday  on United Airlines, direct into Montrose Airport, 1 hr, 15 min away, as well as a nonstop United Flight on Saturdays from LaGuardia.

Skiers and riders will also have new transportation options with Allegiant Airlines adding a flight between Montrose/Telluride and Denver. The seasonal flights will operate twice weekly and fly nonstop between Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) and DIA (DEN) with one-way fares as low as $44.

Telluride continues to invest in its infrastructure by enhancing the snowmaking capabilities in the Meadows area that caters to Ski School and beginner skiers and snowboarders. (www.tellurideskiresort.com)

Purgatory

New this season guests will notice the Columbine beginner area has been expanded and re-graded to improve the area where beginners learn to ski and snowboard. Also, the Snow Coaster Tubing Hill has been relocated, redesigned, and enhanced for a better user experience and a hazard tree mitigation project will vastly improve the health of the forest and enhance tree skiing at the resort.

A modernized rope tow, the new T-3 surface lift, will transport skiers on the backside of the mountain heading west to the Legends Lift 8 high-speed detachable-quad chairlift, which debuted last winter. The T-3 lift will also connect a new trail to the Legends Lift 8. The Legends Bypass, which opened last winter as an alternative way down to Lift 8, will be widened and re-graded.

Additionally, the snowmaking system has been enhanced with additional snow guns and upgraded nozzles, making snowmaking efforts more productive and efficient allowing for snowmaking as early as October.

Purgatory installed a new point-of-sale software that will make it easier for consumers who are making purchases throughout the resort, providing them with faster transactions at the Ticket Office, Snow Sports School, rentals, retail, and restaurants.

This fall, Purgatory is opening a new convenient retail, rental and repair services shop in Durango at 2615 Main Ave. The remodel will provide a new storefront for outdoor recreation apparel, gear, rentals, repair services, ticket/pass purchases, as well as the resort’s reservation center. (www.skipurg.com)

Information about CSCUSA and its members can be found at www.ColoradoSki.com, on Twitter @ColoradoSkiUSA and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ColoradoSkiCountryUSA.

See also:

Hurry, Hurry, Get Your Ski Pass Deals; Take Advantage of Greater Flexibility, Options

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

Hurry, Hurry, Get Your Ski Pass Deals; Take Advantage of Greater Flexibility, Options

Heavenly Mountain at Lake Tahoe is part of Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass which also gives access to resorts in Australia, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Heavenly Mountain at Lake Tahoe is part of Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass which also gives access to resorts in Australia, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Hurry, hurry, get your deal on a 2016-17 ski pass. I really mean hurry because the best deals on season passes are expiring.

The biggest, best innovation is that more and more season passes incorporate flexible opportunities to ski multiple ski resorts, and now, more encompass deals across the country, so you aren’t locked in to, say, New England or the Rockies.

One of the most sensational values in the ski industry is Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass™ which affords unlimited and unrestricted skiing at 13 resorts including world-class destinations like Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City and Heavenly in the US plus Australia but is the only multi-resort pass to offer three to six days access to European skiing and snowboarding (depending upon the resort): Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France, Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland, and Arlberg in Austria. Even for skiers who are not based in the West, the Epic Pass pays for itself in just over five days of skiing or snowboarding. Find out more at EpicPass.com).

Okemo, Vermont, where you can enjoy bubble chairs, has joined the M.A.X. Pass program so you can get a season pass and for the add on, give 5 days at 31 other mountains, including its sister resort, Crested Butte © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Okemo, Vermont, where you can enjoy bubble chairs, has joined the M.A.X. Pass program so you can get a season pass and for the add on, give 5 days at 31 other mountains, including its sister resort, Crested Butte © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

While Vail Resorts’ Epic pass may be one of the most incredible deals around, unless you are a Northeasterner with the ability to fly regularly, the pass that makes the most practical sense for skiers who really like to explore is the M.A.X. Pass, which provides five days of skiing at 32 mountains across the continent, from Alaska to Maine (10 more than last year), with no blackout dates for $649 (the price goes up by $50 on Oct. 12). What is more, you can buy a season pass at one of the participating resorts, such as Okemo in Vermont (new this year!), where you would have unlimited access, and buy a M.A.X. Pass Add-on ($299)to get the five days each at the other 31 resorts (the pass pays for itself with a three-day visit).  In this way, you can make regular visits to Okemo and also have a trip to Crested Butte (Okemo’s sister resort), or Copper Mountain in Colorado. Other mountains on the list: Pico, Loon, Mount Sunapee, Snowshoe, Mountain Creek and Blue Mountain in the East; Mount Batchelor and Alyeska (Alaska) in the West. What is more, passholders also get 20% discounts on lodging, even the extra discount off special deals.

M.A.X. Pass details are spelled out at www.themaxpass.com.

Yet another is The Mountain Collective which gives you two days skiing at 14 different major resorts with no blackouts (plus discounts on lodging) for $409/adults, $99/child (12 and under). The pass also offers 50% off additional days.

Copper Mountain, Colorado: With the M.A.X. Pass program, you can have a season pass at popular Vermont resorts like Okemo and Pico and get five days to ski at Copper Mountain, Colorado © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Copper Mountain, Colorado: With the M.A.X. Pass program, you can have a season pass at popular Vermont resorts like Okemo and Pico and get five days to ski at Copper Mountain, Colorado. Copper Mountain is also part of the Rocky Mountain Super Pass © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus gives you unlimited access to Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain and Eldora Mountain Resort in Colorado, plus Steamboat (6 days), Crested Butte (3 days) and Alyeska Resort, Alaska (3 days), as well as 7 days access to international ski destinations including Mt. Ruapehu, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Tomamu, Alts Bandai, and Nekoma. This pass also provides other benefits, including discounts on 20 Friends & Family tickets (10 for Winter Park Resort and 10 for Copper Mountain), and discounts on activities (like tubing), retail purchases, merchandise, lodging, and food and beverage (see www.winterparkresort.com).

Get unlimited access to Winter Park, Colorado plus other benefits with the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Get unlimited access to Winter Park, Colorado plus other benefits with the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here’s another twist: you can buy a season pass at Bolton Valley, near Burlington Vermont, and for no extra charge (it used to be $50 extra), can have the benefits of the Freedom Pass

Ski areas are offering all sorts of innovations – Millennial passes (Stratton Mountain extended the years for eligibility from 18 to 32 (up from 29), while Mount Snow extended the purchase date for the discounted season pass to Dec. 15)

Take note: there are enormous number of packages and ski-and-stay deals online leading up to the season.

New England resorts, especially, are hoping to make up for losses due to last year’s bad weather – but are looking forward to better weather conditions (at least normal) this year, plus have made improvements in snowmaking and facilities to “weatherproof” .

Lock them in now.

Here are more details:

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass not only gives unlimited access to 13 resorts including world-class destinations like Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City and Heavenly in the US plus Australia but is the only multi-resort pass to offer three to six days access to European skiing and snowboarding (depending upon the resort): Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France, Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta in Italy, 4 Vallees in Switzerland, and Arlberg in Austria.

Enjoy unlimited access to Keystone Mountain, Colorado, with its fabulous Kidtopia Fort and kid-friendly activities, with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Enjoy unlimited access to Keystone Mountain, Colorado, with its fabulous Kidtopia Fort and kid-friendly activities, with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 2016-2017 Epic Pass offers unlimited access to the Vail Resorts in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah (which with the merger of Canyons is now the largest ski resort in North America); Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin, Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and just for good measure, so you can ski in summer, Perisher in Australia. The Epic Pass allows pass holders to visit resorts as they choose, each with its own personality and distinct experience, combining unique terrain and traditions with Vail Resorts’ renowned service and unmatched resort improvements. The Epic Pass is available at EpicPass.com  ($829/adult until the next deadline is Oct. 9).

“There is nothing in the ski industry today that can compare to the value of the Epic Pass,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “The value of the Epic Pass is giving skiers and snowboarders the flexibility to ski when they want and the choice to ski where they want, and the variety of experiences our resorts offer, whether it’s the iconic slopes of Vail or Park City, or the grandeur and tradition of Europe, which should be on the bucket list of every skier or snowboarder.  Whether you ski five days or 100, no pass is tailored to the way skiers and snowboarders actually want to access the best mountains in the world like the Epic Pass.”

That access now includes four of Europe’s most iconic destinations. France’s largest ski areas, Les 3 Vallees, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere  offer a unique playground to skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, accessing five glaciers, 391 ski lifts and over 800 miles of marked runs for all ability levels within a 30-mile radius. The three areas combine high-altitude skiing guaranteeing quality snow from November to May with stunning view of Mont Blanc and a 360-degree panorama of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps.  (6 days of free skiing with 2 days of skiing at each resort area)

South of the Alps, nestled amongst some of the most beautiful mountain peaks in the world such as Brenta Dolomites and Adamello (11,666 feet), is some of the best skiing in Italy. Skirama Dolomiti Adamello Brenta is home to 150 lifts and 236 miles of ski slopes that that make up acclaimed resorts such as Madonna di Campiglio and Pinzolo in Val Rendena; Folgarida-Marilleva, Peio and Tonale in Val di Sole; Ponte di Legno, Andalo-Fai della Paganella, Monte Bondone and Folgaria-Lavarone. The winter offering is enriched by the high-quality cuisine and the exclusive “Italian style.” (3 days of free skiing)

Verbier, part of the 4 Vallees ski area, is the largest resort in the Swiss Alps, is acknowledged as one of the premier “off piste” resorts in the world, and is home to a number of professional freeride competitions. Above and beyond this reputation, Verbier is well-known internationally for its electrifying, cosmopolitan nightlife, and the resort is proud of its legendary après-ski and its lively clubs. While skiers and snowboarders from all over the world rave about this off-piste paradise and fun evenings, families also appreciate the resort’s social atmosphere and family-friendly offerings. (5 consecutive days of free skiing)

For decades, the mountain range between Tyrol and Vorarlberg, home to Arlberg, has been a highly sought-after metropolis for international ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Arlberg is widely considered the cradle of modern skiing and in December 2016, thanks to the opening of four new chair lifts, it will be Austria’s largest linked ski area. It is also where champions, athletes from Ski Club Arlberg have garnered an incredible 83 medals at various Olympic Games and World Championships. (3 days of free skiing).

Less expensive variations of the Epic Pass include:

Epic Local Pass ($609) offering unlimited, unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton and Wilmot Mountain with limited restrictions at Park City, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood. The Epic Local Pass also includes a total of 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek with some holiday restrictions

Enjoy unlimited skiing at Northstar at Lake Tahoe, California, with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, including the Epic-4 Day Pass © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Enjoy unlimited skiing at Northstar at Lake Tahoe, California, with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, including the Epic-4 Day Pass © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Epic 4-Day™: A convenient option for a short ski trip. Save 35 percent versus individual lift tickets and receive a total of four unrestricted days valid at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Arapahoe Basin, plus four free days at Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton or Wilmot Mountain. $399 for adults and $219 for children (ages five to 12.)

See www.snow.com  for more Vail Resorts info

The Mountain Collective

The Mountain Collective gives you two days skiing at 14 different major resorts with no blackouts (plus discounts on lodging) for $409/adults, $99/child (12 and under). The pass also offers 50% off additional days.

The 14 resorts are some of the best names on the continent plus three international destinations: Alta/Snowbird, Aspen Snowmass,  Jackson Hole,  Mammoth,  Revelstoke,  Ski Banff/Lake Louise/Sunshine,  Ski Queenstown/Coronet Peak/The Remarkables,  Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows,  Sun Valley,  Taos,  Telluride,  Thredbo,  Whistler Blackcomb. In addition, it provides two days each at 2 days each at Valle Nevado in Chile (in summer), Hakuba Valley in Japan and Chamonix in France. (800-705-6286, https://mountaincollective.com/)

Here is a twist on the multi-mountain pass: When you buy your season pass to Bolton Valley near Burlington, Vt., the Freedom Pass is included at no extra charge (there used to be a $50 surcharge), giving unlimited visits with no blackouts to Bolton Valley and up to three days skiing at each of the 12 other ski areas, spanning the country from Alaska to Maine, for a total of 36 free lift tickets. These include Magic Mountain  in Londonderry, VT (which is just being acquired by a group of locals who are making millions of dollars of new investment), Granite Gorge on the Keene/Roxbury Line in southwestern NH is close to Keene State College; Black Mountain in Jackson, NH. Buy your Bolton Valley All Access Season Pass* before prices go up after Sept. 30. (www.boltonvalley.com/tickets-passes-rentals/seasons-passes/Freedom-Pass).

Ski.Com

Ski.com can help you choose and get the best deals at 120 different resorts, like Breckenridge, one of the top trending resorts this season, and book special events, such as dog-sledding (photo by Eric Leiberman/Travel Features Syndicate)
Ski.com can help you choose and get the best deals at 120 different resorts, like Breckenridge, one of the top trending resorts this season, and book special events, such as dog-sledding (photo by Eric Leiberman/Travel Features Syndicate)

Need help planning? Ski.com – an agency that can tell you where you can use your boarding pass the afternoon you arrive for free skiing for the rest of the day; where to go for an on-mountain dining experience (Bavarian dinner at Keystone, Heavenly’s Saturday night gourmet meals with wine), which are the best for families, where you can take advantage of free guided snowshoe tours (Copper Mountain), or learn about the new Amtrak service to Winter Park from Denver’s Union Station (accessible by light rail form Denver International Airport – could work for outbound trip, trickier for inbound), and all the umptium details that go into booking a ski vacation.

You can book online at more than 120 different ski resorts (4000 different lodging options);  search by the top resorts (currently trending: Vail, Aspen/Snowmass, Breckenridge, Deer Valley Resort, Beaver Creek, Steamboat Springs, Park City, Jackson Hole, Telluride, Whistler Blackcomb, and Zermatt) or by preference (such as budget, luxury, private homes, ski in/out, or best sellers). Or you can search by your interest. They can book every aspect of the ski trip including air, transfers, dining experiences, lessons, rentals, children’s programs.

The site offers featured lodging and lift ticket deals, plus thousands of ski vacation package deals in the system/ You can  call or chat online and browse ski vacation deals by visiting our all deals page or check out our top affordable resorts and lodging.

If you are unsure of where to go, you can call, chat or email with its 65+ knowledgeable Mountain Vacation Specialists or use a new, intuitive Resort Finder tool. If you’re looking for deals, visit the Deals page or ask one of the Mountain Vacation Specialists about current discounts and promotions. After determining where you want to go and stay, Ski.com can also help you book the rest of the package, including flights, ground transportation, rentals, lift tickets, lessons, activities and  all the elements of a vacation. You can book the complete ski vacation through Ski.com over the phone, in a live chat, using our online booking engine, or via email. You can also check out guides and tips on theSki.com Blog and the Ski.com Packing List.

Using Ski.com is free, can save you time researching on your own because it is a one-stop shopping place; it can save money because of negotiated discounts and deals. (800-908-5000, 970-429-3099, ski.com).

Vermont Resort Season Passes 2016-17

Season Passes at Vermont ski resorts make for one of the best deals around for skiers and snowboarders. Many resorts offer special preseason discounts. Here are this year’s highlights and pricing deadlines for Vermont resort season passes:

Bolton Valley- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 31. The Ski Bum Pass- $179 for anyone ages 18-25 and full time college students. All passes, which include the Freedom Pass, can be found at www.boltonvalley.com

Bromley Mountain- Pricing Deadline, Oct. 15. Super Value Pass– $525 – Ski Bromley 7 days a week, non-holiday with the Super Value Pass, www.bromley.com.

Burke Mountain- Pricing Deadline: Oct.10. The Judge- $899, valid at both Burke Mountain and Jay Peak Resort, skiburke.com .

Jay Peak Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct.10. Jay Adult Season Pass- $779, Ski or ride Jay Peak every day of the week, jaypeakresort.com

Killington Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 15. Adult Unlimited-$1,289, Killington’s adult unlimited pass gives unrestricted access to the Beast all season long; M.A.X.ify your Killington Unlimited Season Pass: Add-on 30 resorts, 5 days at each, 0 blackout days – starting at only $299 for adults, and $199 for youths,  www.killington.com.

Mad River Glen- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 15. Adult Full Season Pass- $771; A free season pass is available for kids 12 and under with the purchase of a Family Mad Card or any Adult Season Pass. The Family Mad Card-$209. Get 3 transferable day tickets good any time during the ski season plus free season passes for all kids who are ages 12 and under.  Receive $5 off any additional full day lift ticket purchased throughout the season, www.madriverglen.com.

Magic Mountain: Pricing Deadline: Oct. 31. Couples Unlimited Pass-$858. Magic offers 2 passes for couples living at the same address at a discount this season, www.magicmtn.com

Middlebury College Snow Bowl- Pricing Deadline: Nov. 30. Adult Season Pass-$420. Ski or snowboard at the Bowl all season long for under $500; Student Season Pass- $310. (7th grade through college), www.middleburysnowbowl.com.

Mount Snow- Pricing Deadline: Dec. 15. Drifter Pass-$399, offers unlimited access, with no blackout dates for those aged 18-29, www.mountsnow.com.

Okemo Mountain Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 10. Peak Pass -$1,359 provides skiing and snowboarding every day at Okemo with no restrictions.  M.A.X. Pass Add On,s $299 until Oct.12, www.okemo.com

Pico, Vermont, is now part of the M.A.X. Pass program © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Pico, Vermont, is now part of the M.A.X. Pass program © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Pico Mountain: My Pico, My Way.-$449, Get unlimited access to Pico Mountain all season long for under $500, www.picomountain.com.

Quechee Ski Area: Family of 4 Season Pass-$625, www.quecheeclub.com

Smugglers’ Notch Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct.31. Adult Season Pass-$609, www.smuggs.com.

Stowe Mountain Resort- Pricing Deadline: Nov. 6. Young Adult Pass (19-34) $599,  www.stowe.com

Stratton Mountain Resort- Pricing Deadline: Oct. 10. Strattitude Pass -$329, valid every day with no blackout dates for ages 18-32 (the age raised from 18-29), www.stratton.com

Sugarbush Resort . For20s All Mountain 7 Pass- $469, features unlimited skiing and riding at Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen for ages 19-29; Mt. Ellen 7 Plus Pass- $985, Ski Mount Ellen plus 5 days at Lincoln Peak (anytime) and enjoy spring skiing at Lincoln Peak after Mt. Ellen closes. www.sugarbush.com

Suicide Six- Pricing Deadline: Nov. 30. Adult Season Pass-$449, valid every day. All season passes at www.woodstockinn.com.

See SkiVermont.com for more info.

 

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

 

The Boundaries of ‘Interiors’ Explored in Art Exhibit at Gold Coast Arts Center

Gold Coast Arts Center gallery curator Jude Amsel with ‘Interiors’ artists Orestes Gonzalez, Laini Nemett and Maxi Cohen © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gold Coast Arts Center gallery curator Jude Amsel with ‘Interiors’ artists Orestes Gonzalez, Laini Nemett and Maxi Cohen © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

What is inside, and what is outside? What are the boundaries that delineate “interiors”. How much of what is interior is our own perception, our own making? These are the questions explored by three artists – Laini Nemett, Orestes Gonzalez, and Maxi Cohen – represented in “Interiors” on view at the Gold Coast Arts Center in Great Neck, through November 20.

Interiors is an exhibition that explores the artist’s relationship with familiar places and how they connect to interior landscapes of personal history, memory and association. The painter Laini Nemett comments that she wants the composite imagery to conjure memory but also to emulate an experience of place. Orestes Gonzalez’s photographs of interior spaces captures moments of loneliness, happiness and a time of innocence. Photographer/videographer, Maxi Cohen captures moments in the ladies room, “as a space of sanctuary and solitude”.

The only thing common to all is that their creative works “serve as a portal to interior spaces that are in plain sight and yet frequently overlooked,” notes Jude Amsel, Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery Director. They offer a portal to a new way of looking and experiencing what we all take for granted.

Laini Nemett: “Last Door on the Right”

Laini Nemett creates her own sense of place and space – literally. Her paintings stem from imagination – memories and relationships – which go into intricate cardboard models models she constructs at the beginning of her process. She then creates bold paintings that realistically represent these imagined places. They take the viewer in, forcing the viewer to contemplate the scene. It is at that point that the viewer realizes the impossibility of the place – a window that is upside down, a ceiling that has the texture and color of carpeting which should be on the floor.

Gold Coast Arts Center Director Regina Gil and Alexandra Gil who curates the Shorts Films in the Gold Coast International Film Festival, with artist Laini Nemett and her painted perspective of the Eiffel Tower © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gold Coast Arts Center Director Regina Gil and Alexandra Gil who curates the Shorts Films in the Gold Coast International Film Festival, with artist Laini Nemett and her painted perspective of the Eiffel Tower © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

One of the most interesting perspectives stems from a whirlwind visit to Paris and the Eiffel Tower. You would never realize it is the Eiffel Tower because the perspective is looking down from a landing through plexiglass casting a reflection made “wobbly” with rain.

Laini Nemett with one of her paintings on view in ‘Interiors” at the Gold Coast Arts Center. © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Laini Nemett with one of her paintings on view in ‘Interiors” at the Gold Coast Arts Center. © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“I assemble my own relics of experience. I discover their logic in the ways they fit together and attempt to make sense of how we decipher place,” Nemett says. One of her paintings in the exhibit is titled “Last Door on the Right.”

“A constant kaleidoscope of imagery the mind sorts at random, concealing and revealing fragments of memories. I choose to disorient myself amidst the puzzle, letting observation suggest the direction.”

One of the models that artist Laini Nemett meticulously constructs out of her imagination which will be realized in painting © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of the models that artist Laini Nemett meticulously constructs out of her imagination which will be realized in painting © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Extended time in different architectural cultures has shaped how I understand the idea of ‘home.’ In downtown Baltimore, buildings are boarded up and left as skeletons of a family’s history, while new constructions incite possibilities of new beginnings. In the boroughs of New York, old facades are painted away or torn down as new anonymous condo projects begin almost every day. The expansive land of Wyoming holds 100-year old ranches and hand-built homesteads that remain as physical mementos of multiple generations.”

But while the constructions hold the histories and the memories of the people, the paintings are devoid of people altogether. Like a dream, you are surveying the scene.

There is such detail that at first glance, you think you could walk in. But these structures don’t exist – and can’t exist.

“It’s more compelling. I don’t want the painting to answer the questions, but get you to think more, ask more, linger longer. That’s why I paint instead of take photographs. I want to do something that can only happen in painting.”

Orestes Gonzalez: Photographs of Havana, Miami

Orestes Gonzalez also challenges people’s perspective. His black-and-white photographic series from Havana, Cuba, “This Island is My House,” (2016) shows interiors which are really exteriors – a barber who has turned a courtyard into his shop, a building without a roof. Exteriors become interiors and vice versa.

In Cuba, he notes, roof collapses are common, and the lack of materials nad maintenance has created a landscape of ruins in a city of 2 million people.

By necessity, then, “public and private lines are blurred or compromised,” he says. In Cuba, where interior space is very limited or compromised, “interiors are more symbolic rather than literal.” These are people who live their inner lives in a public setting and deal with their environment – their situation – the best they can. In Cuba, the island is the ‘house’ they live in.”

GPhotographer Orestes Gonzalez poses with his series, ‘Julio’s House’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Photographer Orestes Gonzalez poses with his series, ‘Julio’s House’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are also four mural-sized color photographs taken of his Uncle Julio’s apartment in Miami, taken after he passed away. “Julio’s House,” 2007, shows how his interior space was revealing of who he was inside, but afraid to reveal to the outside world.

Maxi Cohen: ‘Ladies Rooms Around the World’

Maxi Cohen, a filmmaker, turned to a different camera in making “Ladies Rooms Around the World.” The series, produced over decades, makes you rethink these customarily private spaces. Her own journey began in 1978 when she was at the Miami Film Festival with her first feature length film documentary, “Joe and Maxi” about her relationship with her father. She retreated to the Ladies room to escape the boring awards dinner and found herself among a gaggle of octogenarians fussing over corsets and false eyelashes. She was entranced by this “tribal dance” and whenever she saw an interesting scene in the ladies room – Australia to Zambia, Bombay to Bosnia, Rio to Tel Aviv, she snapped it. Almost all of them also capture her in the scene – she said she didn’t feel it was right to invade the privacy of others and not include herself. “Since I am recording others in their private rituals, the sanctuaries of women, I have not wanted to separate myself; there is no ‘them’, only ‘we’.” She says.

Maxi Cohen with part of her photographic series, ‘Ladies Rooms Around the World’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Maxi Cohen with part of her photographic series, ‘Ladies Rooms Around the World’ © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

She notes that in the 1990s, she was in an Aboriginal bar in the Australian outback, when women took her into the ladies room to confide in her about the incest and rape of the young boys and girls in the community. In Zambia, she watched as a ladies room attendant would be accepting cash all night, and exchanging little packets in blue tissue paper.

The contrast in places, scenes and colors of Maxi Cohen’s photographic decades-long series, “Ladies rooms Around the World,” is artful in a way you would never expect © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The contrast in places, scenes and colors of Maxi Cohen’s photographic decades-long series, “Ladies rooms Around the World,” is artful in a way you would never expect © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The contrast in places, scenes and colors (since she shoots with available light), not to mention the range of women captured in the images – the New York Thruway, 1978; Livingstone Disco, Zambia, 2003; a film festival in 1981 where Maxi Cohen captures herself in a borrowed gown or possibly robe her friend got from Yoko Ono – is artful and aesthetically pleasing in a way you would never expect hearing about a series of photos of “Ladies Rooms Around the World.”

The Gold Coast Arts Center is located at 113 Middle Neck Road (entrance from the Maple Avenue parking lot), 516-829-2570, goldcoastarts.org.

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

E-Bike Opens World of Possibility for Bike Touring

BikeTours.com President Jim Johnson (left) and Junid (middle) riding e-bikes on the mountain roads of Albania © 2016 Karen Rubin/gongplacesfarandnear.com
BikeTours.com President Jim Johnson (left) and Junid (middle) riding e-bikes on the mountain roads of Albania © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Here’s my dilemma: A chance to see Albania by bike, a country that is steeped in mystery having been secluded behind an Iron Curtain for decades, but so mountainous, it may be too difficult to make the enormous climbs. Or, I could set aside pride and principle and use an e-bike – an electric bike that uses a battery to give an extra push to your pedaling.

I’m a purist and enjoy the physical challenge of biking. I had had an amazing time on Biketours.com’s bike/boat trip in the Greek Isles the year before and know the pain (and accomplishment) of burning lungs that come with tackling the steepest, longest climbs of my life. But the BikeTours experts say that the Greek Isles was a Class 3 ride and Albania would be a Class 4 – with even steeper, longer climbs (and when I look over the day-by-day elevations, one day stands out at being the equivalent of a mile in total elevation gain). So if the Greek Isles was my physical limit, I’m not so sure I can do Albania.

BikeTours.com President Jim Johnson biking in Albania on an e-bike. © 2016 Karen Rubin/goinplacesfarandnear.com
BikeTours.com President Jim Johnson biking in Albania on an e-bike. © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

But I also believe that the best way to engage, to discover a destination like Albania is by bike. Cars, buses would never come to these back country roads, roads that have been bypassed by more recently constructed highways, or through villages and neighborhoods. They would go too fast to get any sense at all of moments that, on a bike, you can snatch up and savor, and looking through glass windows puts a layer of unreality. But from the perch of a bike saddle, you move at just the right pace to see things, hear the sounds of cows mooing, the bells attached to goats, the cicadas; you can smell the wild sage growing beside the road, and feel the moist coolness as you ride through a forest. You can stop at a bend in the road to take in the breathtaking views or just get your breath. You can stop – even chat – with a shepherd edging his flock across the road. People wave and call out hello as we ride through a village and we wave and say a cheery “hello” as back. Most important of all, you can stop when you want (as I did most frequently) to take photos.

And, finally, I believe ardently in the quest for knowledge and understanding and ambassadorship that is the essence of travel and particularly, the style of travel of a bike tour, so if the only way to experience Albania is to use an e-bike, I will set aside my pride and principle.

And actually, the e-bike is part of the new experience and I discover a whole new dimension of possibility.

Biking in Albania brings you into villages you would not visit otherwise © 2016 Karen Rubin/gongplacesfarandnear.com
Biking in Albania brings you into villages you would not visit otherwise © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

For one thing, I discover other advantages of using an ebike: I can stop for pictures and know I can catch up with the group; I don’t suffer or need to focus exclusively on the ride; I don’t lose sleep over the worry of whether I can manage the next day’s ride. What is more, I discover I can make the ride as challenging as I want (I simply don’t go into an easier setting), so I still get the workout I want and feel the satisfaction of conquering a climb. But most importantly, the priority of this trip is to experience a culture and explore a destination, not a physical work-out or just getting from point A to B.

And finally, what I realize is that the e-bike extends horizons and lifespan for adventure and exploration for many of us who have reached an age where we appreciate biking but are unsure of doing the distance or the hills.

And so I opt for the e-bike for the first time. It takes me about two minutes to figure it out and three minutes to get comfortable.

The e-bike is not like a scooter – you still have to pedal. But to me, it takes the hill out of the climb, making it like pedaling on flat surface (unless you want to retain the challenge, as I did, and keep it at an “Econ” setting, the lowest of three “speeds”, “Norm” and “Sport” being the others). In “Econ”, I find, it makes my hybrid bike, which with the added weight of the battery (about 12-15 pounds) feels like a mountain bike, ride like a road bike.

Biking through Albania’s countryside © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Biking through Albania’s countryside © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The e-bike that I ride is so responsive – it changes gears immediately, efficiently, at the push of a button (up arrow, down arrow) and I could change speeds if necessary, from “Econ” to “Norm” on a dime, smoothly, without any hesitation or resistance.

I find that on the big hills, by keeping the setting at Econ I still have that physical effort of climbing, but I don’t wind up with burning lungs. And of course, I can just zip up the hills by going to the Norm and for an even greater push, the Sport setting (I never use the Sport setting, and only use Norm a couple of times, when the climb seems never ending).

It makes me feel as if I have superpowers.

The cycling company that BikeTours.com has selected for our tour, Cycle Albania, is relatively new and may in fact be the only company offering bike tours in the country. We attracted attention as we zipped through villages because we were such an oddity.

I am really impressed with the quality of the bikes, manufactured by the Taiwan-based Giant company, which Cycle Albania purchased from the Netherlands. Each of the bikes – the regular hybrids and the e-bikes (probably the only ones in the entire country) – are the best quality, valued at thousands of dollars (in a country where the median income is $5000 a year). They have hydraulic brakes, suspension. (You can bring your own seat and pedals if you want, as does a couple from Oregon, used to climbing hills).

My pedals have screw heads that grip the soles of my sneakers for the extra push without toe clips.

And boy are we grateful for suspension and hydraulic brakes on the Day 6 ride, when we come down a road more like a mountain trail – broken gravel, rocks, potholes, gravel, steep with winding hairpin turns.

I use the e-bike feature of my Giant bike for the first time on the second day of cycling, when we are leaving Ohrid, in Macedonia, one of the oldest human settlements in Europe, and are on the last third of a 35-mile ride. We have three progressively longer and harder hills to climb on our way back into Albania. I just whisk up the hills like nothing – and am only in the “Norm” setting – I didn’t even use the “Sport” setting which gives even more thrust to each pedal stroke.

Biking through Albania’s countryside © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Biking through Albania’s countryside © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

But that’s what it is – it’s like taking the hill out of the ride. You feel like you are riding on flat. You still pedal each stroke, change the gears but each stroke is magnified. You hear a tiny whir of a motor but it isn’t like riding a scooter.

The e-bike is a superb alternative for anyone who has denied themselves the opportunity to discover a destination by bike – the best way in my opinion – because they were afraid they could not go the distance or manage hills. The e-bike is a godsend: destinations and experiences that seemed out of reach can now be conquered. If you felt you had aged out of managing 35 to 50 miles a day on anything but flat rail-trails, e-bikes open up a whole new world, and a whole new dimension.

Many of the BikeTours.com offerings now give an e-bike option.

BikeTours.com 1-877-462-2423 or 423-756-8907, 1222 Tremont St., Suite 100, Chattanooga, TN 37405, biketours.com.

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Because travel is a life-enhancing, relationship building, world-changing experience

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