It’s discount time at Disney!

Disney Resort hotels are offering sizeable autumn discounts.

Holidaymakers planning a family vacation at Disney Resorts will find that they can benefit from up to 30 percent discount on accommodation at hotels located on site. With room rates in decline, now is a good time to book a family vacation that offers the thrills and spills of Disney’s total entertainment resorts. With cooler weather and smaller crowds adding to the attraction of the latest room deals, holidays at Disney resorts are expected to show a sharp increase in popularity.

Discounts are available dependent on travel dates. A discount of 25 to 30 percent is being offered for most stays at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – with a standard view.

Alternatively, between 15 and 20 percent discounts are available for stays at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (excluding Magic Kingdom view rooms) and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort, Old Key West Resort, Boardwalk Villas, and Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House and Kidani Village, standard view, are offering discounts of 25 to 30 percent depending on the dates of travel. Other hotels are also offering similar discounts that are likely to be of interest to the prudent holidaymaker.

For those who are travelling with families, discounts of up to 15 percent are available at Disney’s Art of Animation – Family Suites. Visitors are also encouraged to mix and match offers to spice up their stay in the resort. For example, it is possible to add a day or two on to a Free Dining vacation, or to try a multiple-resort stay to benefit from discounts while experiencing other resorts. Alternatively, the Free Dining promotion can be passed up for a better deal stays. There are endless permutations for the creative holidaymaker.

The offers are limited, so Disney advise that reservations need to be made soon to avoid disappointment.

Delta Air Lines receives rating from Executive Travel Magazine

Executive Travel Magazine has rated delta Air Lines, an air carrier that operates between Africa and the United States.

Executive Travel Magazine’s readers nominated the company as ‘Best Flight Experience to Africa’. The carrier won gold status, which is the highest level award. Other contenders for the award were South African Airways and British Airways.

The nomination was part of the magazine’s Leading Edge Awards, 2012. The awards, which are given annually, honour travel providers that service clients with innovative and high-quality products and services, and this is the 10th year that the awards have been made.

Perry Cantarutti, Delta Air Line’s senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said, ‘Delta has flown almost three million customers between Africa and the United States since we launched our first flights to Africa in 2006 and this award shows our customers value the service we offer. We’ll continue to invest in our customers’ experience by introducing more flatbed seats and international Wi-Fi on Africa routes over the coming months.’

Delta Air Lines offers:

Daily non-stop service between Johannesburg and Atlanta

Five weekly services between Accra and New York-JFK

Daily non-stop service between Lagos and Atlanta

Three weekly services between Monrovia and New York-JFK, via Accra

Up to three weekly non-stop services between Dakar and New York-JFK

Passengers using the services to the US can benefit from connections to 160 onward destinations from Atlanta and 55 destinations from New York-JFK.

The company is now offering new, custom-designed flatbed seats on all wide-body aircraft on its international routes. With direct aisle access, occupants of the seats can opt for Delta on Demand in-seat entertainment. By 2014, the company is planning to offer such services on all flights between Accra and the US.

BusinessElite passengers travelling from Accra are offered a personalised escort from check in to security clearance, and lounge pick-up to arrival and baggage collection.

Allegiant announces new non-stop flight schedules

With a view to enhancing the convenience for holiday travellers, Arizona-based Allegiant Airlines has announced new non-stop itineraries to popular destinations.

The company said that the new flights on popular routes would help travellers who do not want to break their journeys to reach their destinations faster. In addition to the prospect of a faster onward journey, customers would also be offered the facility of combining their air, hotel and car-rental reservations together, and doing away with the hassle of extensive travel preparations.

The firm said that it has launched two new, non-stop jet services between Mesa and St. Cloud, and Minnesota and Hawaii. They will be available from December 15, 2012, and February 8, 2013, respectively.

Andrew C. Levy, president of Allegiant Travel Company, said, ‘We are pleased to bring a new affordable and convenient travel option to St. Cloud. We are confident area residents will appreciate the convenience of flying non stop to Phoenix and the value of bundling their air, hotel and car rental reservation together. We are pleased to bring another affordable and convenient travel option to Phoenix-Mesa. We are confident area residents will appreciate the convenience of flying non-stop to Hawaii and the value of bundling their air, hotel and car rental reservation together.’

The new flights are to operate three times a week between Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA) and Honolulu International Airport (HNL). More details about flight days and times are available at allegiant.com.

The company said that fares start at $89.99 for flights to St. Cloud, and $199 for flights to Hawaii.

Conservation group purchases grasslands in Montana

A conservation group is buying up grassland in Montana, USA, with the intention of returning it to its natural state.

Tourists and conservationists have long been attracted to eastern Montana’s prairie, and have often been at odds with cattle ranchers for whom the area’s nature and conservation is of secondary importance to their business interests.

The grasslands, which have been such a hit with eco tourists, were often marred by thousands of miles of fences that were erected to fence in cattle. Philanthropists and conservationists are now pulling down the fences and returning the grasslands to their natural state.

The fences break up the habitat for native wildlife and hamper their movement across the varying grassland regions. When the fences are taken away, new corridors are opened up for the migration of wildlife.

Some areas in eastern Montana’s cattle country, the American Prairie Reserve, are being converted into a wildlife sanctuary. The area, once owned and operated by private cattle ranchers, have the potential to develop into natural reserves that could be larger than Connecticut, and even provide competition for some the greatest national parks in the West.

On Tuesday of this week, a Bozeman-based group purchased the 150,000-acre South Ranch and plans to develop the grassland as a natural reserve. When the deal closes, it will double the amount of public and private property under the reserve’s control, just north of the CM Russell National Wildlife Refuge, which is also close to the Canadian border.

Scientists said that the move would support an ecosystem that includes hundreds of species of birds, mammals, plants and insects. Organisers said that they were aiming for a free flow of wildlife made up of pronghorn antelope, predators and up to 10,000 bison, across three million acres or more of public and private land.

Adventure tour operators create new opportunities in the US

Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) has announced a partnership with Austin-Lehman Adventures (ALA) to offer new adventure tour-related services to those intent on injecting some excitement into their holidays.

Austin-Lehman Adventures is an outward-bound tour company and Eastern Mountain Sports is a sports emporium. The association between the two companies will see ALA becoming EMS’ exclusive ‘adventure travel partner and purveyor.’

The alliance of the two companies will mean that ALA and its guests will be able to take advantage of EMS’s buying power and range of product offerings. Guests will be provided with links to easy online EMS shopping lists and ALA-suggested packing lists. In addition, special privileges will also be offered that include VIP incentives at EMS stores for all ALA trip guests, and coupons and awards for ALA travellers.

Dan Austin, Austin-Lehman Adventure’s founding director said, ‘Clients of both companies will benefit from the alliance as EMS refers customers to ALA for their active adventure tour needs and Austin-Lehman Adventures in turn, directs tour participants to EMS for fulfilment of apparel and equipment.’

The two companies are also working on the possibility of cross-promotional strategies. These will include diverse programmes such as in-store promotions, kiosks and video on ALA adventure trips. EMS will also present and feature exclusive tours and departures, and is making further plans to host ALA-sponsored Travel Nights at some of its flagship locations.

Eastern Mountain Sports was started as a climbing school and it now has 68 retail stores in 12 states in the US.

Book-loving tourists swarm to US cities

US cities, Portland and Seattle, have been attracting the attention of tourists who are visiting them following their depiction in the novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.

The novel, which is being hailed as an erotic best seller, is expected to increase tourist flows into the two cities. Many of the ‘important’ scenes in the novel take place in Seattle and Portland, and with plans afoot for a film version of the book, the cities are attracting more tourists who are keen to soak up the novel’s ambience. Hotels and service companies have reported higher bookings, supposedly due to inquisitive customers that have been eager to visit the places depicted in the novel.

To re-live the scenes in the novel, tourists have been making dinner reservations, visiting bars, or simply taking in the cities’ atmosphere. There are passages in the book where the main protagonists meet in an elevator, and now the elevator has become a star attraction for tourists.

Hotels have been quick to capitalise on the interest, and for those who want to create their own fantasy, hotels in Seattle and Portland have come up with elaborate packages. One example is Seattle’s Hotel Max, which offers a $1,669 two-night package that also includes a skippered sunset cruise. The sail around Puget Sound enjoyed by the book’s characters has inspired the cruise.

There are also other more-costly packages that include appetisers, wine, dinner and a helicopter ride over Portland.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James is part of a trilogy, and has retained its number one spot on the New York Times bestseller’s list for fiction for the past 22 weeks.

San Diego Gets New Four Points by Sheraton Hotel

The Four Points by Sheraton brand, a part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide portfolio, has opened its newest hotel in San Diego, US.

The new Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown has been converted from an existing hotel, under ownership of hotel operating company, Pinnacle Hotels USA. The hotel features 220 guestrooms; around 1,400 square feet of meeting facilities; a 24-hour fitness centre; an outdoor heated pool; and the First Avenue Bar & Grill dining venue.

The hotel is located in downtown San Diego, close to San Diego International Airport and the San Diego Convention Center. The Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown hotel is offering free shuttle service to the airport, a non-smoking environment, and complimentary internet connectivity to its guests, for room rates commencing at $139 per night. The local attractions include SeaWorld, Legoland California, and Knott’s Soak City, along with the famous San Diego Zoo.

Brian McGuinness, the senior vice president, specialty select brands, of Starwood hotels and resorts, commented, ‘San Diego is a vital market for both business and leisure travellers and we’re excited to open our second Four Points by Sheraton in this great city. Our guests are seeking an honest value, genuine service, and the amenities they need to stay productive on the road. We look forward to continuing our commitment to providing great hotels at great rates.’

The brand has plans to open 24 new hotels in 2012, and has a portfolio of round 160 hotels around the world in 30 countries presently.

Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort and Spa Opens in Carlsbad

Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa, a Hilton Hotels brand property in Carlsbad, US, is to open for service in July 2012.

The new 215-room resort is located on the Ponto Beach in north San Diego County, and offers impressive views of the Pacific Ocean. The resort features Chandler’s Restaurant & Lounge for beverages and snacks, 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space and the 5,600 square-foot, Ocean Crest Spa. The leisure facilities include a swimming pool and a fitness centre.

Wave Crest Oceanfront owns the resort, and it is operated by Wave Crest Hotels Resorts. It is expected that it will provide around 200 jobs to the local economy.

Bill Canepa, the managing partner for Wave Crest Oceanfront, said, ‘We are truly thrilled to have opened this beautiful resort, and we are grateful to our team, to our Carlsbad neighbours and to the many guests who have already booked stays, weddings and events with us. I can’t think of a more beautiful resort setting in all of San Diego County.’

Carlsbad is a beach city that offers plenty of sports and recreation activities, dining, entertainment, and shopping venues, as well as a range of tourist attractions to visit with the family. These include the San Diego Zoo, the SeaWorld amusement park, and the Legoland theme park.

Introductory rates commence at £148 per room, per night, for rooms that include the signature Hilton Serenity Bed fixtures, complimentary high-speed wired and wireless Internet access, and complimentary PrinterOn remote printing.

Sonesta International Announces New Hotels

The new Sonesta ES Suites Schaumburg opens in Schaumburg, US, in place of an earlier extended stay hotel, Staybridge Suites Schaumburg, on August 16, 2012.

Sonesta International Hotels, a US-based hospitality company with properties in North and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean, and owners of the new 112-room hotel, has announced that the hotel is offering one and two bedroom suite accommodation, each with a work area, a kitchen, and complimentary high speed wireless internet access.

The hotel is also offering an outdoor swimming pool, a 24-hour exercise room, a sports court, a seasonal BBQ grille, a guest laundry, around 1,400 square feet of meeting space, and a 24-hour business centre, as well as daily complimentary breakfast for its guests.

The company has also announced that it is taking over management of the 445-room Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia, in downtown Philadelphia, US.

The Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia offers 445 guest rooms, a 24-hour fitness centre, a roof top swimming pool, and 16,000 square feet of meeting space, in a downtown location, neighbouring a local business district and close to Philadelphia (PHL) International Airport. The hotel also features a swimming pool, a 24-hour fitness centre and a 24-hour business centre.

The Sonesta Collection, which is an established company brand, consists of upmarket hotels, resorts and cruises which are currently located in Baltimore, Boston, Hilton Head Island, Miami, and New Orleans, in the US; Saint Maarten, in the Caribbean; and other properties in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in South America, and Egypt in the Middle East.

European Union Announces New Passenger Name Record Agreement with US

The European Parliament, the governing body for the European Union (EU), has voted in favour of a Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreement with the United States of America.

The new agreement will allow participating countries to access the data of passengers travelling to the US, to be used in fighting international crime and terrorism. The agreement is also said to ensure the legal protection of PNR data for the individual, with data protection safeguards on storage time and use of the data, as well as administrative and judicial remedies. The new agreement replaces a provisional agreement that has been effective since 2007.

European Union home affairs commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, said in a statement, ‘I welcome today’s vote of the European Parliament giving its consent to the new Passenger Name Record Agreement with the United States of America. This is an agreement the three EU institutions can be proud of: it provides stronger protection of EU citizens’ right to privacy and more legal certainty for air carriers than the existing EU-US PNR Agreement from 2007. At the same time, it fully meets the security needs of the United States of America and the EU. It will be made anonymous six months after a passengers’ flight. EU citizens will be informed about the use of their data, and will be able to access and request the correction or deletion of their PNR data. The new agreement is a substantial improvement on the existing Agreement from 2007, and I am pleased that the European Parliament has recognised this today.’