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SailTime

SailTime Ranked Among The Top Franchises In Entrepreneur’s 38th Annual Franchise 500®

Fractional Boat Membership Franchise Leader Adds to List of National Recognitions as Pioneer in Sharing Economy Plans for Expansion into Europe

CHANNEL ISLANDS, CA — SailTime, the world’s leading fractional boating membership program, with bases around the United States and Australia, announced its inclusion in Entrepreneur Magazine’s 38th annual Franchise 500®. It is the third major honor within the last year for SailTime, following their inclusion in the INC 500/5000 in August 2016 and Entrepreneur’s recognition in 2017’s “10 Hottest Franchise Categories” in December 2016.

Yellow Banks

“All of us at SailTime are incredibly excited to be named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s prestigious Franchise 500,” SailTime CEO Todd Hess said. “This recognition is a fantastic way for us to kick off what we believe will be our best year yet as we aim to grow our international presence with new bases in Europe!”

Dolphin

SailTime has enjoyed growth of 161 percent since 2012, expanding to 28 franchise bases in the United States and six bases in Australia. Their recent partnership with Beneteau, one of the biggest and most respected boat manufacturers in the world, provided SailTime franchisees the opportunity to offer Beneteau boats for both the membership program and the boat ownership program. Three Beneteau yacht dealers in North America integrated with SailTime in 2016, and corporate officials are heading to Dusseldorf, Germany on January 21st to discuss integrating the SailTime franchise with Beneteau dealers in Europe.

“Beneteau has been a terrific partner with SailTime, so it’s only natural that we’d take the success we’ve had stateside in 2016 and look to expand the partnerships with our European boating friends this year.”

Over its 38 years in existence, the Franchise 500 has become both a dominant competitive measure for franchisors and a primary research tool for entrepreneurs. The key factors that go into Entrepreneur’s evaluation include costs and fees, size and growth, support, brand strength, and financial strength and stability. All franchises are given a cumulative score based on more than 150 data points, and the 500 franchises with the highest cumulative scores become the Franchise 500 in ranking order.

“Entrepreneurs in every industry must constantly improve and adapt, and our Franchise 500 list is full of success stories,” says Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur. “No matter what their concept is, these companies — from booming newcomers to established industry dominators — tell us a lot about what it takes to keep up with current trends in the business world.”

To view the full ranking and any of these related stories, pick up a copy of the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur magazine on newsstands now, or visit www.entrepreneur.com/franchise500.

Go Sailing And Power Boating With SailTime!

 

Embassy Suites Oxnard

Take A Deserved Break And Head To The Beach!

The Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort is an Ideal Location to Escape!

OXNARD, CA — Spring break is a great time for family bonding and a chance to recharge and refresh the soul! It’s even better when it’s combined with a seaside setting. The Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort invites visitors to take advantage of its beautiful weather and beachfront location this spring!

Young couple frolicking at sunset beach
The resort offers a perfect venue for families with the beach just steps from the property and the large freeform pool, allowing for countless hours of fun and entertainment. And, the Splash family room will keep the kids busy all day long! The resort also offers bike rentals and tennis courts for more entertainment. The AAA four-diamond resort is equipped with two-room, spacious suites that include complimentary hot, cooked-to-order breakfast each morning and complimentary nightly sunset beachfront cocktail reception.

Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach - Hotel & Resort, CA - Coastal Grill Dining Room
Couples will also enjoy a getaway this spring with opportunities to take romantic strolls along the water’s edge or enjoy a couple’s massage in the privacy of their own room or in the spa treatment room.

Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach - Hotel & Resort, CA - Dining food
The onsite Coastal Grill Restaurant offers a casual setting for lunch or dinner with stunning views of the beach and Pacific Ocean. With an emphasis on innovative American fare prepared using the freshest, locally sourced ingredients, the menu changes seasonally offering the best quality meats and fresh fish caught direct from local waters. Kids will love the menu designed just for them where they can select from favorites such as macaroni & cheese to mouthwatering burgers.
And for more fun, adjacent Channel Islands Harbor provides all types of recreational activities including excursions to the Channel Islands National Park. Visitors will also find kayaking, paddle boarding, electric boats and more.
For more information, call Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Resort at 805-984-2500 or visit the website at www.mandalayembassysuites.com.

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About Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach – Hotel & Resort — Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach – Hotel & Resort creates an ambience of far away destinations set in a tranquil ocean-front location, situated on the beautiful Pacific in-between Santa Barbara and Malibu. The only all-suite hotel in Southern California to sit directly on the beach, the resort contains 250 two room suites and features the signature amenities standard at any Embassy Suites Hotel including free cooked-to-order breakfast each morning and a complimentary two-hour Manager’s Reception each evening.

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The guest suites have a living area with a sofa bed, dining/work table, two HD TV’s, high-speed Internet access, a wet bar, mini-refrigerator, microwave oven, separate private bedroom and 2 private baths. Onsite amenities include a large free form swimming pool, which is adjacent to a large whirlpool. A second whirlpool specifically for adults is also on property, allowing for more privacy and relaxation. In addition, the resort contains a workout room, lighted tennis, volleyball, sport courts and business center. Guests can enjoy spa services in their suite or in the treatment rooms. Bicycle rentals are conveniently located on site, and nearby options include the opportunity to surf, kayak, sail, paddle board and boat, as well as enjoy the sun-soaked California beaches.

Viking River Cruise

New Ocean Itineraries Announced By Viking Cruises

Local Woodland Hills Company Expanding Destination Focused Offerings All Over The Globe

LOS ANGELES, CA — Viking Ocean Cruises® (www.vikingoceancruises.com) announced 13 new itineraries that will roll out in 2017, 2018 and 2019. By 2019, fast-growing Viking will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line, with six 930-passenger ocean ships and will offer guests new opportunities for exploration in Alaska, Australia, Asia and the Caribbean.

Komodo & the Australian Coast

“Viking will mark major milestones in 2017. We celebrate our 20th anniversary; we will welcome two new Longships on the rivers in Europe; and we will double our ocean fleet to four sister ships by the end of the year,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “Our destination-focused ocean itineraries are built on the same successful principles as our river itineraries – we offer our guests more time in port, enriching cultural experiences, the best-designed ships at sea, and we do not nickel-and-dime. Starting later this year, our guests will have even more choices to explore around the world in ‘the Viking way.’”

New 2017 – 2019 Itineraries — Viking’s new ocean itineraries will bring guests to a growing number of iconic destinations around the world, providing behind-the-scenes insights and opportunities in each port of call. With new sailings embarking in Miami, Mumbai, Bangkok, Beijing, Bali, Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Vancouver, guests can choose base itineraries ranging from eight to 23 days, with additional combination cruise options. Highlights of the new itineraries include:

Turquoise Seas of the Western Caribbean – (Miami to Miami; sailing on Viking Sky; November 2017 – February 2018) – Discover the diverse treasures of the western Caribbean during this eight-day itinerary, from ancient ruins to colonial architecture. Guests will explore the mysterious temples of Altun Ha in Belize, the heart of the Mayan Center; walk in the steps of Hemingway’s Key West haunts; and marvel at Cozumel’s blue waters at Punta Sur. Sailing roundtrip from Miami, guests will visit three countries and five ports. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $2,999 per person.

Panama & Central America – (Miami to Miami; sailing on Viking Sky; November – December 2017 and January 2018) – From Central American countries including Costa Rica, Columbia, Honduras, Belize and more, guests will immerse themselves into the colorful cities and rich cultures, visiting eight countries and nine ports on this 15-day itinerary. While making the roundtrip from Miami, guests will experience one of the world’s great engineering feats, the Panama Canal, discover Costa Rica’s famous rainforest and explore Old Town Cartagena’s colonial architecture, a UNSECO World Heritage Site. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,499 per person.

Atlantic Crossing

Atlantic Crossing – (Miami to Barcelona; sailing on Viking Sky; March 3, 2018) – During this classic trans-Atlantic journey, guests enjoy dining, taking in the ship’s amenities and relaxing while cruising the Atlantic Ocean. The 14-day sailing will also call on ports in both Europe and the New World, including Florida’s sun-kissed city of glorious beaches and art deco buildings. In Europe, destinations include the “Garden Island” of Madeira and the artistic, vibrant city of Barcelona. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $2,399 per person.
Passage to India – (Athens to Mumbai; sailing on Viking Spirit; August 18, 2018) – On this 21-day itinerary, guests will trace the routes of the earliest merchants from Greece to India, with ports of call in six countries including Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Oman. Along the journey, guests will accompany local guides to ancient treasures, visit the astonishing red sandstone city of Petra and see the Great Pyramids and Sphinx in Cairo. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,999 per person.
Across the Bay of Bengal – (Mumbai to Bangkok; sailing on Viking Spirit; September 8, 2018) – Guests will experience five unique countries on one spectacular 16-day journey, including overnight ports of call in Mumbai, Colombo and Bangkok to fully explore these exciting cities. From meeting the caretakers of the National Gandhi Museum to mingling with shoppers at a traditional Bangkok market, guests will immerse themselves into the experience of each city and discover its rich culture first-hand. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $4,499 per person.
Capitals of the Far East – (Hong Kong to Beijing or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit, October 7 and October 21, 2018) – Voyage to the iconic cities across three countries including China, Taiwan and South Korea. Along this 15-day journey, guests will experience the region’s culture and heritage while exploring sites including the Forbidden City and Great Wall of China, and the Huaxi Street Night Market in Taiwan. Guests will also enjoy a day of sailing along the Yellow Sea, relaxing with complimentary tea service on board in the Wintergarden or yoga on the Sports Deck. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,799 per person.
Southeast Asia & Hong Kong – (Bangkok to Hong Kong or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; September 23, 2018, November 4, 2018 and April 7, 2019) – Discover the gems of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong during this 15-day cruise visiting four countries and seven ports. Spend two days in Bangkok touring the vibrant city and its landmarks, including the Grand Palace featuring the Emerald Buddha, and sampling Thai cuisine. Guests continue the journey with ports of call in Cambodia and Vietnam and then enjoy two nights visiting the many museums and stores in this shopper’s paradise of Hong Kong. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,799 per person.
Komodo & the Australian Coast – (Sydney to Bali or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; November 30, 2018 and March 10, 2019) – During this 17-day sailing, guests will experience 11 ports of call including Indonesia’s popular island of Bali and Australia’s cosmopolitan city, Sydney, and the stunning Whitsunday Island near the Great Barrier Reef. Viking will also bring guests face to face with the region’s residents, including the Komodo dragon, at the Komodo National Park. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,199 per person.
Bangkok, Bali & Beyond – (Bangkok to Bali or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; November 18, 2018 and March 26, 2019) – Spanning 13-days, guests will experience the capitals of Asian art and culture in the seven ports of call throughout Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Witness Southeast Asia’s long-held traditions and bustling capital cities. Marvel at Kuala Lumpur’s soaring Petronas Towers, and absorb the cultural diversity of Singapore with a resident by your side; and experience the historic riches of Jakarta. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $3,999 per person.
Australia & New Zealand – (Sydney to Auckland and the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; December 2018 – February 2019) – Witness a rich blend of native and European cultures amid the sophisticated coastal cities of Australia and New Zealand. From the metropolitan cities of Melbourne and Sydney to the natural beauty of coastal New Zealand, guests will explore nine ports of call during this 15-day journey to the “Land Down Under.” Sip on the famous wines of the region; explore UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Australia’s Blue Mountains; capture panoramic views from Mt. Victoria in New Zealand; and greet the indigenous wildlife, such as kangaroos and wallabies. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,799 per person.
Far Eastern Horizons – (Hong Kong to Tokyo; sailing on Viking Spirit; April 21, 2019) – Explore the imperial treasures of one of the most captivating corners of Asia during this 15-day sailing. Mingle with merchants in Hong Kong’s vibrant Stanley Market; learn the nuances of Taiwan from a local resident; and witness the bustling Japanese culture. This itinerary calls upon four countries and nine ports, with overnights in Hong Kong, Hiroshima, Shimizu and Tokyo to fully explore these cities. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,799 per person.
North Pacific Passage – (Tokyo to Vancouver; sailing on Viking Spirit; May 5, 2019) – Guests will experience the cultural riches and majestic beauty of Japan, Russia, Alaska and Canada on this 23-day sailing. Unravel the mysteries of Japan with local guides, and learn about life in a remote Russian city before crossing the Bering Sea, tracing the legendary path of the first human migration to the Americas. In Alaska, sail into glacier-strewn, mountain-ringed bays onto iconic frontier towns, such as Kodiak, Sitka and more. Guests will also enjoy scenic cruising through the famed Inside Passage. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $6,799.
Alaska & the Inside Passage – (Vancouver to Seward or the reverse; sailing on Viking Spirit; May – August 2019) – During this 11-day itinerary, guests will sail into the wilds of the “Great Frontier,” immersing themselves in a world of Tlingit heritage, exploring charming seaside towns and pristine glacier-lined bays, and cruising the narrow channels of the famed Inside Passage. Sailing from Vancouver, Canada, guests will experience eight iconic ports of call including Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau and Skagway. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $3,999 per person.

Ships Designed for Destination Cruising
Classified by Cruise Critic as “small ships,” Viking’s ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. In 2017, the company will welcome Viking Sky and Viking Sun to join Viking Star and Viking Sea in its fleet. Viking’s fifth ship, Viking Spirit, will be delivered in 2018, and its sixth, yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019.

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking’s ships were designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®. Throughout each ship, details are incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessels in their class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

Onboard Viking’s ships, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ships, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. In the LivNordic Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and a real snow room, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood – an homage to Norse mythology and Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway’s Finse Mountain Plateau.

The Viking Difference
Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and “collector ports,” appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

While onboard, guests enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options onboard Viking’s ships elevate food as a cultural experience – the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen’s features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as “Mamsen;” The Chef’s Table celebrate cuisines from around the world with multi-course tasting menus and wine parings; and Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine. With the Kitchen Table experience, guests have an immersive opportunity to shop, cook and eat with the Executive Chef.

Viking Inclusive Value
Viking Inclusive Value provides a small ship experience at a big ship value onboard Viking Ocean Cruises —with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service—an included value of more than $200 per person, per day for an average cruise.

Booking Details
From now through January 31, 2017, Viking is offering U.S. residents an Early Booking Discount on new 2017-2019 itineraries: 2-for-1 cruise fares, plus up to free roundtrip international air, per person. Contact a travel agent or call Viking toll free at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464).

Media Assets
For more information, images and b-roll for Viking Ocean Cruises, contact vikingpr@edelman.com.

About Viking Cruises
Viking Cruises, the leader in river and small ship ocean cruising, offers destination-focused itineraries designed for experienced travelers who have an interest in geography, culture and history. In its first year of operation, Viking Ocean Cruises was rated the #1 ocean cruise line in Travel + Leisure’s 2016 “World’s Best” Awards, which came on the heels of being rated the highest of all cruise lines in the 2015 “World’s Best” Awards. Viking currently operates a fleet of 61 vessels, offering scenic cruising along the rivers and oceans of the Americas, Europe, Russia, Egypt, China, and Southeast Asia. By 2019 the company will operate six 930-passenger ocean cruise ships and will sail itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Asia, Australia, North America and the Caribbean. In addition to the Travel + Leisure honors, Viking has also been honored multiple times on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” as well as recognized by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line” and “Best River Itineraries,” with the entire Viking Longships® fleet being named “Best New River Ships” in the website’s Editors’ Picks Awards. For additional information, contact Viking Cruises at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464) or visit www.vikingcruises.com.

NYC

Take A Bite Out Of The Big Apple

By Roger Allnutt, Travel Writer

NEW YORK CITY, NY — There is never a dull moment when you visit New York with so many options both day and night to provide a satisfying itinerary for all visitors.

Whether you arrive by car, train, plane or ship your sense of anticipation grows as you get closer to the city. I recently arrived by cruise ship at the end of a cruise from Quebec and approaching lower Manhattan under the Verrazano Bridge with the dramatic skyline ahead, including the new One World Tower and Statue of Liberty, sent shivers up my spine.

Once settled into your accommodation in New York, usually in Manhattan, the choice of activities is mind blowing. I would recommend starting your visit with a hop on, hop off bus tour which gives the opportunity to orientate yourself with the major parts of the city and to plan those areas where you would like to return for further exploration. There are a number of companies such as Gray Line and Big Bus Tours which offer one and two day passes, different routes around the city and even night tours. These tours also offer discounted entry prices to attractions such as the art deco Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center, two of the city’s best known buildings. Neither should be missed as the views from the viewing platforms are spectacular. Opposite the Rockefeller Center is the well-known Radio City Music Hall.

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Well over a decade after the 9/11 attacks the twin towers have now been replaced by the tower of the One World Trade Center. A dazzlingly stark memorial building; however to many New Yorkers the tower has not totally acted as a unifying point for the city after the attack. The National September 11 Memorial Museum at the base is worth a visit as are the reflecting pools in the central plaza.

Continue on to the southern tip of Manhattan past Wall Street and you come to lovely Battery Park with views to the Statue of Liberty. It is possible to take a trip out to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (where migrants in previous times were processed into the US) but you need to make reservations well in advance to visit. The view from the top of the Statue is panoramic and exhilarating. The ferry ride is free.

Travelling up the east side of Manhattan you come to Brooklyn Bridge (it is worth taking the time to visit Brooklyn) and then East Village and the Lower East Side which is one of my favourite areas. The area is full of quirky shops and boutiques, narrow streets and alleyways, lots of cafes and bars. New York seemed to be full of tattoo parlours – one I noticed combined the parlour and a cappuccino café!

Tompkins Square Park is a pleasant oasis in the middle of this bustling area. Locals gather for chess games on concrete tables, relax on the lawn for a picnic or let their dogs loose for a run in the dog enclosure. Clearly there are many professional dog handlers taking charges out for a run (I counted six dogs with one woman) and there is lots of yapping and sniffing as the pets enjoy an escape from their apartment lives.Image result for Tompkins Square ParkThe United Nations buildings stand tall and erect overlooking the East River and then you can get off at Grand Central Terminal one of the many examples of beaux arts architecture in the city. The huge vaulted concourse of the main station is always packed with busy commuters and you can stop and watch the passing parade while have a snack at one of the eateries. If you really want to live it up drop in for a drink at the Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant.

Of course you will want to walk along famous Fifth Avenue if only to indulge in some window shopping at famous shops like Tiffany and Cartier. In fact the line-up of shops is a who’s who of all the big retail names throughout the world.

You would need many weeks if not months to really explore even the highlights of what New York has to offer. Despite its size Manhattan is really best explored on foot. You can walk along Broadway from Times Square checking out all the theatres and deciding which plays you might like to attend. Times Square, where Broadway and Seventh Avenue intersect, is quintessentially American, flashing ne on signs, exuberant locals and visitors. A real crossroads of the world.

I attended a wonderful performance of Jersey Boys the story of Franki Valli and the Four Seasons still going strong since it premiere in 2005 but the line-up of shows includes Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, and dozens of others. Go to the ticket offices at the theatres of your choice as most of the longer running shows have seats available on the day or check out the half-price ticket booths.

Further north near Columbus Circle you come to the Lincoln Centre with its three main performing arts centres for classical music; the Avery Fisher Hall home to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the David Koch Theatre (ballet) and the iconic Metropolitan Opera

House. I saw a marvellous performance of my favourite opera Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte; again cheap sets at the door. Not far away is Carnegie Hall, another famous concert space.

Art lovers will have a field day in New York with most attracted to three major galleries all located on the east side of Central Park on 5th Avenue. The largest is the wonderful Metropolitan Museum of Art founded in 1870 with over two million items in its vast collection. Spread out over 7 hectares of galleries the collection includes Egyptian art, a superb collection of European paintings as well as American artists.

The Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the private Frick Collection are more modest in size but equally tempting. Modern art enthusiasts will enjoy the museum of Modern Art. New York has hundreds of other museum and galleries covering just about every possible interest.

Undoubtedly the centrepiece of Manhattan is Central Park the green heart of the city stretching north from 57th to 110th street. You can do many activities within the park including walking, jogging or cycling the many roads and paths, have a picnic, throw a frisbee on the Sheep Meadow, take a horse drawn carriage ride, take of boat ride on the central lake, visit the zoo or just watch the kaleidoscope of people enjoying themselves.

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If you want to explore a bit further north and experience a lesser known part of Manhattan catch a bus or train north to Harlem. Wander round the bus terminus area along 125th street and you will experience how many New Yorkers live away from the glamour and glitter closer to 5th Avenue. On one side of the street you might find small shops where food stamps are currency while on the other more upmarket apartments round Columbia University are the norm. Iconic Yankee Stadium is located in Upper Manhattan.

Eating out in Manhattan offers an incredible variety from mind bogglingly expensive to lots of wonderful cafes, pubs and street stalls. Try the many delis where the servings are huge and you choose your own ingredients. We found one large salad was more than enough for two.

Accommodation in New York is expensive but two places I could recommend are Hotel Wellington on Seventh Ave near Carnegie Hall and Hotel Beacon at 75th on Broadway on the Upper West Side.

Cuba

Cuba Adventures Await With Fun & Active Itineraries

Austin Adventures Returns to Cuba with Active Itineraries That Combine Hiking, Snorkeling, Landscapes, People and Culture

BILLINGS, MT — A forte of Austin Adventures, the pacesetter in active luxury vacations worldwide, is providing opportunities for its guests to get up close and personal with both landscapes and people.

New for 2017 comes two first-ever adventure-oriented, people-to-people tours of the once forbidden isle of Cuba. One itinerary has been designed just for adults, the second is paced perfectly for families.

Unique to Austin Adventures’ guests, the nine-day/eight-night Cuba vacation combines hikes through national parks, opportunities to spot the tiniest bird in the world (the 2-inch Bee Hummingbird), explorations of flora and fauna and a visit to a botanical garden, relaxing over coffee in the shade of colonial gems and mingling with island locals. Multiple departures are scheduled through mid-April 2017.

Austin Adventures (http://www.austinadventures.com) was one of the first tour operators to bring people to Cuba back in 2012 with the blessing of the US State Department. After a hiatus of a few years to refine its program, the company’s brand-new itineraries dig deeper than ever into the culture of Cuba through exchanges with locals, exploring traditional Cuban cuisine, culture and music and showcasing Cuba’s many protected lands, UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks and vibrant historic cities. A more active element has also been added.

“We had one of the first People to People licenses to operate in Cuba four years ago,” explains Austin. “When I first visited I immediately fell in love with the country, its vibe and its people and I couldn’t wait to return. Now as it gets a bit easier to navigate the island, we are ready to once again share this magical paradise with our travelers in the way I’ve always imagined.”

And in true Austin Adventures tradition, they have created a more adventurous vacation that encourages guests to be physically in touch with the wonders of Cuba by…

~hiking through the 11,000-acre biosphere of La Terrazas, a UNESCO safeguard home to over 117 bird species;
~traversing otherworldly limestone mogotes and stalagmite-rich caves in the Valle de Viñales, a karst landscape and agricultural region of fruits, vegetables, coffee and tobacco;
~leaping into a swimming hole at the base of a waterfall in Topes in Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes;
~basking in the warm waters of Playa Larga on the Bay of Pigs;
~snorkeling the exquisite coral reefs of Playa Giron.

In the wetlands of Ciénaga de Zapata, a national park with expansive tracts of dense forests and mangrove-lined swampland,guests will be on the lookout for crocodiles, iguanas and flamingos. In the seductive streets of Cienfuegos they will feel the embrace of a French flair combined with a Caribbean verve and colonial charm. If they close their eyes they can imagine Hemingway’s boat, Pilar, bobbing near the seaside village of Cojimar, while exploring the author’s former estate. They will marvel at the folklore, often through music, in time-warped communities, including Trinidad, home in history to many sugar refineries. They will wonder at the over 2,000 species of plants at Jardin Botanico Cienfuegos, where American sugar baron Edward F. Atkins hoped to introduce new varieties of sugar cane and instead created Cuba’s largest gardens. And perhaps they will cut loose in Old Havana, a virtual citadel of culture and history that expresses the power of sugar cane and rum that once defined this Caribbean capital.

The per person, double, rates are from $3,490 ($500 single supplement). 2016 departures are scheduled Oct. 14 and 28; Nov. 18 and 25; Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. 2017 departures include Jan. 6, 13, 20 and 27; Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24; March 3, 10, 17 and 24; and April 7 and 14. For more information on the adult itinerary please see http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/cuba-vacation/ For details on the family-focused program please see http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/cuba-family-vacation/.

For more information on all of the 2016-2017 destinations, trips and itineraries offered by Austin Adventures visit http://www.austinadventures.com, call (800) 575-1540 or email info@austinadventures.com.

About Austin Adventures — Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures (formerly Austin Adventures) has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a top provider of luxury pre-set and custom-designed small group tours to all seven continents. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings that includes operations in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Crater Lake, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park; and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also owns and operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel in Williams, Ariz., the Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz., Windstar Cruises, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Country Walkers and Austin Adventures.

West Virginia

Mountain Music Festival Announces Headliners

Umphrey’s McGee and The Revivalists Headline 4th Annual Mountain Music Festival June 1-3, 2017, At Ace Adventure Resort in West Virginia

NEW RIVER GORGE, WV, — West Virginia’s ACE Adventure Resort announces that over 25 bands, including headliners Umphrey’s McGee, Saturday night, and The Revivalists, Friday night, will perform June 1, 2 and 3 at the 4th Annual Mountain Music Festival in the New River Gorge.

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People can lock in early bird savings by purchasing festival tickets before Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) 2017 online at mountainmusicfestwv.com. New in 2017 ACE is offering a payment plan where festival goers can lock in these savings for only $25. Subsequent payments on these personal payment plans can be made online before the festival begins.

This 1,500-acre mountain playground may well be the only place in the world where outdoor adventure, including whitewater rafting, joins forces with a world-class, high-power music festival that features 25 bands, up from 15 last year.

“Our annual celebration marries adventure and music that spans three nights and is spread over four stages. Music includes Americana, folk, funk, festival jam bands, rock & roll and bluesy soul stuff,” says Chris Colin, impresario. Year-round he is ACE Adventure Resort’s Special Events Coordinator. “We give all of our guests the experience that only VIPS get at other festivals. Our camping facilities for music lovers far exceed those at any other venue. All camping spaces allow room for the guest’s vehicle at no extra charge. And guests can shower for free.”

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Saturday night’s headliner, Umphrey’s McGee, has toured for 18 years, doing over 100 concerts annually. With nine studio albums under their belt, this jam band woos crowds with its mash ups. Getting things going for the evening will be the five-piece jam machine out of Greensboro, North Carolina, The Mantras. “And of course it just wouldn’t feel like Mountain Music Fest if we didn’t include Big Something so they will be taking to the stage after dark on Saturday night too!,” adds Colin.

Friday night’s headliner is New Orleans-based The Revivalists, a roots-driven rock band that’s strong in vocals and with a pedal steel guitar that Colin said “sounds sexy as hell on all of their stuff.” Its album Men Amongst Mountainshas been highly acclaimed. Also on stage this night is “the finest songwriter to emerge from the Bluegrass State in recent memory, Tyler Childers,” adds Colin. Adding to the mix Friday night will be jazz funk powerhouse Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

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The festival kicks off Thursday, June 1, with a pre-party at The Lost Paddle Lounge, the resort’s bar and restaurant that sports a 1500-square-foot deck. This year Pittsburgh rock and soul band The Commonheart introduce their rock riffs, gritty vocals and a screaming organ. But wait there’s more! Spiritual Rez will be pumping their reggae mix into the mountain air late into the night.

There’s more splash too at Saturday’s The Beach Party with games, obstacles and activities to entertain all ages for at least six music- and food-filled hours. See: http://www.mountainmusicfestwv.com/activities.html#beachparty. The fun takes place on ACE’s Wonderland Water Park, a five-acre water park with slides, zip lines, inflatable toys and the famous “Blob” (a giant inflatable pillow on the water). Music from the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Lake Stage will be flowing across the water all afternoon.

Over 25 vendors will display clothing, food, art and more. Fifteen visual artists will trade secrets of their techniques throughout a weekend of painting and art workshops. For more information on other workshops please see http://www.mountainmusicfestwv.com/activities.html#workshops

Kick It with the Artists brings fans up close and personal with their favorite musicians on river rafts, or zip lining, mountain biking, world-class rock climbing, horseback riding, standup paddle boarding and more. See: http://www.mountainmusicfestwv.com/activities.html#kickit

“You choose the adventure; we provide the soundtrack. We’re the only music festival in the world where attendees can pair music with outdoor adventure by whitewater rafting with veteran guides who recommend different sections of the river for every level of expertise and interest,” says Colin. The Lower New River is the most popular river ACE rafts in the summertime featuring big waves and beautiful scenery. ACE Adventure rafts various sections of river and has trips mild to wild including trips for children as young as six. For more information see: http://www.mountainmusicfestwv.com/activities.html#adventure

Fans have a good chance of connecting with the stars they see on the resort’s sophisticated, all-weather stage. Festival-goers who come for the weekend can opt to rent cabin accommodations or camp at the “we’ve thought of everything – including nice bathrooms and showers” campground, all located on premise Colin says. See: http://www.mountainmusicfestwv.com/lodging.html

Dozens of cabin rentals, bunkhouse beds and tent sites are available. Convenient dining options may begin around guests’ campfires or at the variety of restaurants, bars and grills found at ACE Adventure Resort. Available are ticket packages for every length of weekend getaway. An early bird special offers a $175 per person three-day festival pass and three night’s campground reservation, access to the festival pre-party, parking and a full-day ACE Wonderland Water Park pass for Saturday’s Beach Party.

Tickets are available online at http://www.mountainmusicfestwv.com/tickets.html, or for more information and lodging reservations please call ACE Adventure Resort at 800-787-3982.

About ACE Adventure Resort

ACE Adventure Resort is the East Coast’s largest mountain hideaway exclusively focused on world-class whitewater rafting along with guided adventures, outdoor sports and activities, lodging, camping and other amenities. The nearby New River Gorge National River is affectionately known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” and features rafting from April to October. The New and Gauley Rivers combined offer over 100 miles of rapids all within 30 minutes of the resort. Both rivers are administered by the National Park Service. ACE’s passion since 1980 has been to create vacations wrapped around these rivers and other outdoor adventures so that guests can experience “a world of adventure in one place.” The 1,500 acres here encompass both forest and a five-acre Wonderland Water Park plus a series of ponds, a mining-era ghost town and spectacular cliffs for rock climbing, waterfalls and overlooks.

Founder Todd Smith

AdventureSmith Explorations’ Todd Smith Earns Highest Industry Accolade From Condé Nast Traveler Magazine

Tahoe City Company Specializing in Small Ship Cruising Reports Unprecedented 20 Percent Growth, New Product Expansion and Staff Appointments

TAHOE CITY, CA — A company with a worldwide presence that is headquartered in Tahoe City earlier this month received one of the travel industry’s highest accolades.

The small ship cruise expert received word that the prestigious publication, Condé Nast Traveler, reconfirmed Todd Smith’s inclusion in its List of Top Travel Specialists. Smith is AdventureSmith Explorations’ visionary founder and president.

This annual list recognizes the world’s leading experts and travel companies. Specialists are chosen based on their combination of specialized knowledge, firsthand travel experience, local connections, customer service and value. Every year the Condé Nast Traveler team evaluates hundreds of applicants. Each applicant undergoes a rigorous screening process that includes a detailed application with sample itineraries, client references and phone interviews.

Todd Smith was first named to this list in 2012. His hand-picked staff in Tahoe City helps him secure the reputation that, “Todd Smith can get you just about anywhere, from Antarctica to the Amazon,” according to the editors at Condé Nast Traveler. The magazine calls this list of experts “Experience Makers” who will transform any vacation into a bona fide trip of a lifetime. For more details please see: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/adventuresmith-todd-smith-conde-nast-top-travel-specialist

Smith said that his company continues to maintain exceptional growth, citing an unprecedented sales increase of 20+ percent over 2015. Two new travel consultants were recently hired to keep up with the demand, and Justin Massoni earlier this year was appointed Director of Sales and Operations. The new sales staff are Arielle Figueroa and Leslie Camacho, adventure experts and world travelers in their own right.

In order to better serve both old and new clients, the company constantly refreshes and expands its itineraries and this year added new cruises and tours in Alaska, Costa Rica, Panama, Galapagos, Chile, Tahiti, New Zealand and the Polar Regions.

AdventureSmith Explorations also recently concluded its 3rd Annual Travel Journal Cruise Giveaway competition, with two lucky travelers winning a trip to Antarctica.

“These giveaways reflect our high level of client satisfaction along with the strong relationship we have with our operators/partners. It is just another benefit we bring to our valued clients,” said Smith. For details on the contest please see
http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/antarctica-cruise-giveaway-2016-winner

For information on all of AdventureSmith Explorations’ small ship cruises worldwide, itineraries, availability and reservations, Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free or visit http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/.

About AdventureSmith Explorations – Think Outside the Boat!
Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, CA, along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. A recognized leader in small ship cruising, in 2012 owner Todd Smith first joined the ranks of Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious Annual Travel Specialists List as the world’s leading expert on small ship expeditions.

Visit The Arctic

Explore The Polar Region And See An Ice-Bound World

Small Ship Cruise Expert AdventureSmith Explorations Introduces Four Land-based Tours For Exploring Polar Bears and Wild Arctic

ARCTIC, CANADA — Innovative small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations (http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/) has added four land-based tours that make the Arctic more accessible to North Americans. These tours that are conducted between late June and late November 2017 utilize strategically situated base camps as participants witness the natural miracles of an ice-bound world.

“We like to look at these land-based trips as a complement to our large selection of Arctic cruises. We now can apply our vast Arctic expertise in even more ways than ever to help travelers choose the perfect polar expedition, by land or sea,” explains AdventureSmith founder and director Todd Smith.

Two itineraries focus on Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, on the west shore of Hudson Bay. The world’s largest concentration of polar bears gathers here waiting for ice to form so they can begin their hunting season north. Churchill, dubbed Polar Bear Capital of the World, is also known as the “accessible Arctic” because wildlife and landscape mimic more northern reaches.

Two six- or seven-day trips in October and November 2017 visit this region. Classic Polar Bear Adventure uses hotels in the town of Churchill as home base for exploring the tundra by day aboard all-terrain Polar Rovers (designed for 35 but on these trips accommodating only 16 for maximum comfort and unobstructed window views) and enjoying a night mission in search of the Northern Lights. In addition to polar bears, guests are on alert for Arctic hare and fox. The gateway city is Winnipeg, Manitoba, where roundtrip charter flights, included in the rate, bring guests to and from Churchill. The rate is from $6,395 per person, double, for six days.

Tundra Lodge Adventure accommodates travelers in a mobile hotel rolled seasonally to the edge of Hudson Bay. The lodge has 29 rooms for guests and each room is a single compartment similar to sleeping quarters on a train, with either an upper or lower berth. There are six shared toilets and four showers. There is a lounge area for viewing bears and a dining car with sliding windows for photography. Guests also enjoy raised outdoor viewing platforms. By day they explore the tundra aboard Polar Rovers. The rate is from $7,895 per person, double, for six days.

Higher in the Canadian Arctic, 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge, located 50 miles from the nearest town. Here, at the Cunningham River estuary is a beluga whale migration hotspot on Somerset Island in Nunavut, Canada’s least populated territory and home of the Inuit, whose art is recognized around the world. Guests travel to this “most northerly fly-in lodge in the world” on a 4.5-hour charter flight from Yellowknife, the capital city of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Named the Arctic Watch adventure, this trip engages guests for eight or 10 days late June through August 2017. Activities include hiking the tundra, standup paddle boarding, kayaking, fat bike outings, rafting the Cunningham River, fishing for Arctic char, riding ATVs and exploring via a Mercedes Unimog (off-road vehicle).

Guests may also site muskox, polar bear, ring seals, bird cliffs, fox dens and more on this active itinerary. Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge is a family-run basecamp hosted by Arctic enthusiasts Josée Auclair and her husband, Richard Weber, along with sons, Tessum and Nansen. They are distinguished across the Canadian High Arctic as polar experts, particularly in Nunavut, and specialize in North Pole and Arctic tourism. The lodge operates with 16 staff and crew members with a maximum guest occupancy of 26. The rate is from $6,295 per person, double, for eight days.

The most remote of AdventureSmith’s four new land-based trips is Discover Greenland in East Greenland, where for nine days July through September home is Base Camp Greenland, a seasonal collection of eight safari-style tent cabins in Sermilik Fjord. This adventure starts in Reykjavik for a 75-minute flight west to Kulusuk, Greenland. A 10-minute helicopter transfer brings guests north to Ammassalik Island, landing in Tasiilaq for a two-night stay among colorful houses and whale-rich seas. A helicopter ride (10-20 minutes) or 2.5-hour boat transfer, conditions depending, transfers guests farther north to the exclusive wilderness Base Camp Greenland.

The icebergs alone are worth the journey: these are ocean-going slabs of ice, some of which have been drifting for months or even years, driven down the coast by the strong southerly Greenland Current. Glaciologists believe that some have even come from northern Canada, hundreds of miles away. On shore, guests may visit Tasiilaq’s small but fascinating history museum. Greenland camping in style allows for cultural encounters with local Inuit who rarely see outside guests. Each cabin faces the central ice cap with expansive views across the bay. Guided sea kayaking, zodiac rides and hikes immerse guests in stunning landscapes populated with whales and Arctic foxes. The rate is from $9,995 per person, double.

These four Arctic trips are just the latest in AdventureSmith Explorations’ offerings in the polar region. The full complement of offerings can be seen online at http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/arctic. For information on all of AdventureSmith’s small ship cruises worldwide, itineraries, availability and reservations, Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free or visit http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/.

About AdventureSmith Explorations – Think Outside the Boat!
Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, CA, along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. A recognized leader in small ship cruising, in 2012 owner Todd Smith joined the ranks of Conde Nast Traveler’s prestigious World’s Top Travel Specialists List as the leading expert on small ship expeditions.

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