1. GREAT OLE USA
An Adventures by Disney tour is a great pick for families seeking a truly family-friendly vacation—and no, we’re not talking about exploring the Magic Kingdom this time. The tour operator’s itineraries take families on explorations across the globe, and for 2015 the company has added three new weekend trips in the great ole USA to its portfolio. Though Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang won’t be hanging with mom, dad and the kids on these trips, plenty of family fun is scheduled on the long weekend getaways to Nashville, New York City, and San Francisco & Napa.
“With these trips you can make the most of a long weekend, seeing the best of what cities such as San Francisco and Nashville have to offer in just a few days, while leaving all the planning and organization to Adventures by Disney,” says Heather Killingbeck, director of program development and operations. “Just like every Adventures by Disney trip, our Long Weekend vacations allow you to enjoy unique behind-the-scenes opportunities, VIP experiences and the high level of service you’ve come to expect from Disney. Throughout your trip, you’ll have two Adventure Guides who make sure that every detail is taken care of.”
The 4-day escape to New York, for example, gives guests VIP access to special activities including a behind-the-scenes visit to “Good Morning America”; a hands-on Broadway musical dance workshop; a backstage tour at the New Amsterdam Theatre where guests get hands-on experience with Broadway props; and a performance of the musical “Alladin.”
On the San Francisco & Napa getaway, meanwhile, families tour the Walt Disney Family Museum, cycle through the Palace of Fine Arts and Fort Point; and visit the Letterman Digital Arts Center, headquarters of Lucasfilm, to check out life-sized replicas of Darth Vader and Boba Fett from “Star Wars,” all while staying at The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel. There’s also an excursion to Silverado Vineyards in Napa where the “Junior Adventurers” participate in an olive oil flavoring activity while adults learn about (and taste) wine.
Rates for both tours start at $2,599 per adult and $2,469 per child. Minimum age for both these tours is 4, although suggested age is 6+. All tours offer adults-only departures.
2. DISCOVERING NORTH AMERICA’S SHORELINES
Alexander+Roberts has launched a series of Small Ship Journeys for 2015-2016 aboard the new 210-guest M.S. Saint Laurent. All cruises are enhanced with privately arranged pre- and post-cruise tours including stays at five-star hotels and sightseeing.
On the 10-day Canadian Maritimes and North Atlantic from Montreal to Portland (starting at $4,299 pp dbl) journey, guests take a walking tour through the historic Old Port while in Portland, where they are introduced to artisanal food producers and merchants, and have samplings of Downeast fare such as lobster, local cheeses, handcrafted chocolates, and wild Maine blueberry preserves. Other itineraries include the 10-day America’s Great Lakes from Chicago to Montreal starting at $4,299 pp dlb. For the 12-day complete journey with pre- and post-stays in Chicago and Montreal, rates start at $5,557 pp dbl.
Alexander+Roberts’ marketing manager Mickey Huang points out, “The history, culture and traditions of these places, from the Great Lakes to the Canadian Maritimes and New England, are rooted in the sea—from the early explorations by Jacques Cartier and the historic canals that opened trade to the interior of North America to the Gilded Age waterfront estates of Mackinac Island and Newport. So the best way to explore the diversity of the region is traveling by water. And some of the natural beauty can really only be appreciated from this perspective: The 1,000 Islands of the St. Lawrence and Georgian Bay, for example.”
3. THE SWAN & DOLPHIN GET A FACE-LIFT
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Florida is getting a face-lift with a $125 million redesign that will transform each of the 758 guestrooms at the Swan Hotel and all 1,509 guestrooms at the Dolphin Hotel. “This renovation represents the next chapter for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin and will offer our guests a completely new and refreshed room product,” says Fred Sawyers, general manager, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
The resort’s public spaces, restaurants, meeting rooms, shops, pools and recreational areas will not be impacted and will remain in operation throughout the renovation. The new design, inspired by the resort’s water-themed architecture, incorporates whites, blues, and grays, and features upgraded furniture and the latest technology including HDTVs. The project started at the Swan Hotel this year and the first phase of the Dolphin Hotel revamp will begin in 2016 with a full completion by 2017. Some renovated rooms at Swan Hotel are already available for booking, with rates starting at $149 per night.
4. A COLORADO ADVENTURE
Eleven Experience, with a sprinkling of exclusive properties around the world, will add a new property in Almont, Colorado in early fall 2015—Taylor River Lodge, located on Colorado’s Taylor River, about 30 minutes from Crested Butte. The intimate lodge will feature six cabins sleeping two to four guests, plus two larger homes available for larger groups. The property includes the Kokanee Lodge, which will serve as the main gathering hall with dining and bar facilities. Guests will also have access to outdoor dining facilities, a media room, and a custom-built tree house described as “the ultimate tree house just for kids.” Taylor River Lodge will also house a Stone Bath House with an indoor saltwater pool overlooking the river, a steam room, a sauna, and a hot tub, as well as a spa building with several treatment rooms.
“Taylor River Lodge is a well-appointed Rocky Mountain retreat offering guided fishing experiences for anglers of all levels, as well as outdoor adventures like rock climbing, mountain biking, river rafting, and more. Or, guests can simply relax over chef-prepared gourmet meals, with a massage, or in our hot tub with river views,” says Jenny Jeffery, global marketing director, Eleven Experience.
The $600 per night starting rates include meals, alcohol, guided activities, gear for all activities, and airport transfers. The lodge will be open seasonally May through winter.
5. RAIL TRAVEL IN STYLE
This March, VIA Rail Canada is making its new Prestige Sleeper class aboard the Canadian, which links Toronto and Vancouver, available for booking. It encompasses six high-end Prestige Sleeper cabins that feature contemporary decor, are 50 percent larger than the cabins for two in the Sleeper Plus class, and have a larger window, a leather L-shaped couch that transforms into a window-facing Murphy bed for two, a private washroom with shower, a flat-screen TV with video selection, a minibar, and electric-heated cabin floors and walls.
Prestige Sleeper class passengers have access to the Prestige Park car, which offers guests spectacular views; complimentary bar service; snacks and specialty coffees; as well as activities such as wine tastings and interactive talks on the local history, geography, and culture. Prestige Sleeper class guests also receive personalized service by the Prestige Concierge; priority access to the call center; checked baggage; and reservations in the dining car, which offers meals prepared by onboard chefs, as well as all-inclusive bar service. While on board, guests will also have access to the Skyline and Panorama cars where they can participate in activities and take in the landscapes along the route. Call for rates; first passenger trip will take place summer 2015.
Archived related articles (available on recommend.com/magazine/issue-archive):
5 Active Trips in the States (July 2014)
Adventures by Disney: (800) 543-0865; adventuresbydisney.com or disneytravelagents.com
Alexander+Roberts: (800) 221-2216; alexanderandroberts.com or alexanderroberts.com/Rewards/Login.aspx (travel agent login)
Eleven Experience: (970) 349-7761; elevenexperience.com
VIA Rail Canada: (888) VIA-RAIL; viarail.ca or viarail.ca/en/travel-agents
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort: (407) 934-3000; swandolphin.com or disneytravelagents.com