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Destinations

HITTING NEW HEIGHTS IN NYC

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Whether jumping into marriage or faux jumping off a skyscraper, New York has a couple of new attractions that will literally guarantee visitors will hit new heights in the city.

Launched earlier this month, Edge at Hudson Yards’ City Climb is the highest external building climb in the world. Located above Edge, the aerial adventure invites climbers to scale the outside of a 366-m. supertall building, then lean out from the outdoor platform at the top of the skyscraper.

Dubbed “the ultimate skyscraping adventure,” City Climb offers guests unparalleled views of New York, while traversing open edged platforms and stairways. Following a comprehensive safety briefing, climbers are fitted with specially designed safety harnesses, and secured into the course by City Climb guides via two cables attached to a trolley that seamlessly move with the climber throughout the entire journey.

After ascending 32 steps to The Cliff, and looking down 350 m. to the city below, climbers approach The Stair, which consists of 161 steps on an approximately 45-degree incline. Once they reach The Apex at 387 m., climbers will have the opportunity to lean out and hang over the platform.

The experience culminates with a celebratory medal for inaugural guests and a victory lap on Edge’s outdoor viewing area on the 100th floor, where climbers can experience a glass floor, angled glass walls, outdoor skyline steps, or a champagne toast in the sky to their bucket list accomplishment.

The attraction is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Opening hours will change seasonally. Tickets are currently US$185 and include the City Climb experience, entry to Edge, and a digital Edge image.

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

Happily Ever Empire Engagement Package

Meanwhile, for those ready to jump into marriage, the Empire State Building has launched “Happily Ever Empire” – an unforgettable proposal package that provides couples with VIP access to the Observatory Experience. Ticket holders are invited to pop the question at a prime, dedicated corner of the building’s iconic, open-air 86th Floor Observatory and pop a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the memorable moment.

The exclusive package – priced at US$1,000 per couple (one should be sure that he, she or they will say, we guess) – includes a private guided tour through the Empire State Building’s immersive exhibits, which feature the building’s history and the classic love stories that have taken place within. After couples have celebrated their engagement on the world-famous 86th Floor Observatory, they’re invited to head up to the 102nd Floor Observatory, with its floor-to-ceiling windows for breathtaking photos with stunning 360-degree views.

“There is no better place to celebrate love than the World’s Most Romantic Building,” said Jean-Yves Ghazi, president of the Empire State Building Observatory. “The Empire State Building has played host to so many love stories in its history, and we are delighted to now offer an exclusive, romantic, and customizable proposal experience for couples from around the world.”

The Empire State Building’s Observatory Experience recently underwent a top-to-bottom overhaul that includes a dedicated guest entrance, a 930-sq.-m. digital and tactile museum that celebrates the icon from the moment it was conceived to its current place in pop-culture, and the completely re-imagined 102nd Floor Observatory.

Tickets are available on the ESB website (21 and older) and the package must be booked at least 24 hours in advance, with limited reservations available each day. Photographers, family, and friends must purchase Express tickets separately.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

WINE AND LACE: One of the most beautiful towns in Italy

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If Ascoli Piceno is considered the diamond of Italy’s Marche region, you need to check out their neighbor, Offida – which outshines other ancient hilltop towns. Offida (pop. around 5,000) is deemed one of Italy’s most beautiful towns. It overflows with tradition, and history just oozes from its 13th century walls.

The compact Old Town center is an amiable stroll, with cobbled streets, appealing alleyways, striking architecture, and bursts of color. Top it all off with an old-world vibe, genuinely friendly locals, and great food.

The main triangular-shaped Piazza al Popolo, is fringed by a Renaissance-style town hall, which is adorned with arcades and crenellations; the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta; and the towns lavish 19th century Serpente Aureo Theatre.

Pizza al Popolo is where it all happens. This is where Offida’s big annual Carnevale happens (mid-January). The main event is the Bove Finto which is a ‘running of the bulls’ kind of event, but using a fake bull made of wood and carried on the shoulders of volunteers, who buck and charge with it in a riotous affair of man versus beast, until the bull is finally ‘killed’, and its horns lifted ceremoniously to touch the column of the town hall. The whole event is fuelled with copious amounts of the ‘Rosso Piceno’ – the local red wine.

As for the rest of the year, Offida is a quiet country town, known for its delicate hand-made bobbin lace making. It’s a tradition dating back to the 1400s, which has been passed down the generations. To honor their lace-making heritage, below the castle wall there’s a gorgeous water fountain/monument which embodies the crafts history.

Offida is known the world over for is its vino. Using grapes found only on its hills, vignerons cultivate some of Italy’s most highly prized wines – Pecorino, Passerina, and Rosso Piceno, all nectar of the Gods.

In the beginning

Offida came about in the Bronze Age, when the Pelasgians first arrived in the region, bringing with them civilization.

The history of Offida had a sure start in 578AD, when it became a royal seat, and the construction of a fortified castle began. It was a military fortress, consisting of an important city wall and square towers. The town appears by name in a document of the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Farfa, dating back to about that time. That’s 914 years before Columbus discovered America!

What to see

• The Church of Santa Maria della Rocca (built 1039AD) must be the ‘poster church’ of churches. It dramatically clings to a cliff’s edge and is made of Romanesque-Gothic brick and has trefoil arches. From 1047AD it was occupied by Benedictine monks. The enormous church, considered one of the main architectural features of the whole Marche region, is surrounded on three sides by deep precipices that dominate the surrounding valleys. The upper church has a single nave, according to the order of the beggars, and has a ceiling of wooden beams, two side altars and several frescoes of Giotto influence. There’s also a staircase to the crypt. The central apse has a double row of brick columns in Lombard style, with rounded corners, and round arches.

• The restored Roman-Gothic styled church of San Marco (1359AD), on Piazza Baroncelli, is adjacent to the Franciscan monastery of the same name. The interiors are Baroque in style, with a wooden crucifix with imbedded precious stones. There’s also a painting of the ‘Madonna Addolorata with four Saints’. Benedictine nuns have been living here since 1655.

• A stone’s throw from the church is the 19th century Palazzo De Castellotti-Pagnanelli, home to the Bobbin Lace Museum, the G. Allevi Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Popular Traditions, and the Municipal Art Gallery.

• The little Tombolo Lace Museum is a tribute to humble artisans. Expect to see tools for processing, yarns, drawings, wedding kits, jewels, and photographs. The most surprising piece is the dress worn by Naomi Campbell in London in 1997.

• The intriguing Museum of Popular Traditions illustrates an insight into the lives of Offida’s ancestors – a kitchen from yesteryear, tools for agricultural work, ancient craft shops, furniture, and clothing of the time, spinning machinery, and a loom for fabric production.

• The Municipal Art Gallery has numerous pieces of period furniture and paintings.

• To deepen your understanding of the local wines, head to Spazio Vino, found in the former convent of San Francesco (Via Garibaldi 75). This is currently the seat of the regional Enoteca, focusing on small wine producers, offering a wine-by-the-glass tasting facilities.

Curiosities about Offida

• Ask a local about the legend of the mythical Golden Snake that crossed the city along the main street, now aptly named Corso Serpente Aureo.

• Bobbin lace making is a popular Offida tradition which, thanks to the Benedictine nuns of 1665, flourishes still.

• In the chapel of Sant’Agostino (1338AD) you can admire the remnants of the 1273AD ‘Eucharistic Miracle’, in which the host was converted into living flesh.

• In 2008 Offida was nominated as ‘one the most beautiful villages in Italy’.

Don’t miss

• The Aldo Sergiacomi Museum is the former workshop of the famed Offida sculptor. It houses a collection of his drawings, plaster casts, terracotta and bronze objects, and photographs of his works.

• On the outskirts of Offida is the Sanctuary of Beato Bernardo, originally built in 1614AD by Capuchin friars. It has dramatic views of the sea and the mountains. The great musician Joseph Haydn composed the ‘Missa Sancti Bemardi de Offida’ in honor of Brother Bernardo.

• The 14th century Church of the Suffragio has a rectangular structure in travertine limestone, the interiors is breath-taking.

• Next to the church of the Addolorata there is the 14th century rectangular structure of the Church of the Suffragio, complete with Romanesque-styled terracotta friezes; Byzantine friezes; a wooden skeleton; a 15th century art piece showing the ‘Madonna del Soccorso’; and the symbol of God’s name on stone.

• Take a walk through the streets at night. Offida has a different persona in the small hours. You may see shadowy figures that aren’t there during daylight hours.

The town of Offida has gorgeous observation points, interesting places to see, and an excellent artisanal food and wine scene. Here you’ll finds ancient fortresses and benches with soft views across deep valleys and at least a hundred reasons to stay.

www.turismoffida.com

Practicalities

• Getting there: Offida is 250km due east of Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport and a mere 20km from the Adriatic Sea.

• Where to stay: Although there is a hotel in Offida, I urge you to go the Air B&B route instead. Find somewhere authentic in Offida’s Old Town www.airbnb.com.

• Getting around: To get a feel for the region hire a Vespa for €70/day. You’re officially urged to partake in a (tailor-made) group tour, taking in off-piste locations, unforgettable experiences, and creating memories that’ll last a lifetime. Tour prices start at €30/pp +39 324 5454279 www.vespatourmarche.it.

Ciù Ciù – A romantic wine story of passion and tradition

In the soft green hills around Offida, you’d be forgiven to think that time has stopped. Here, nothing much changes, other than the occasional slow movement of a tractor in the vineyards. Here, grapes and olive are what it’s all about.

Paolo Agostinelli, wine aficionado, and Export Manager of Ciù Ciù, gives me the backstory.

“On the outskirts of Offida and near the Adriatic, the sea air sweeps between the hills (250 metres above sea level) and blends with the earthy aromas of the soil. This creates the magical terroir for our grapes and the production of some of Italy’s finest wines.

The Ciù Ciù organic winery was born in the heart of Offida’s Picene hills with vineyards extending over 150 hectares. In 1970, before ‘organic’ became a thing, Natalino and Anna Bartolomei, themselves from share-cropping farming stock, found the ideal patch of land to plant the first organic grapes bearing the Ciù Ciù name.

Forbes, one of the America’s most prestigious and influential magazines, included the multi award-winning Ciù Ciù’s Bacchus Rosso Piceno DOP in their list of the best ten European wines priced under $20 dollars a bottle.”

Ciù Ciù wines are an authentic expression of Italian winemaking traditions. This, coupled with research, good terroir, and state-of-art cellars, all go to enhancing their natural viticultural ecosystem.

Paolo escorts me the Ciù Ciù wine showroom in the heart of Offida’s old town. We’re seated in an ancient room used for tasting, savouring the traditional Marche wines. As with most of Offida’s buildings, the one Ciù Ciù Wines is housed in is deceptive large. Inside it’s elegant, and historic, with enormous cellar rooms – ideal for a taste experience in both food and wine as their organic wines are combined with traditional Marche cheeses, cured hams, olives – and wait till you sample their bruschetta dipped in their farm grown extra virgin olive oil! The tasting will set you back € 6.00/pp.

www.ciuciuvini.it

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

CHRISTMAS IS COMING: Germany fetes festive season

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Getting together again was like Christmas, literally, for the German National Tourist Office as it celebrated its first in-person trade event since the start of the pandemic at a gathering in Toronto late last week. Themed around the upcoming festive season in Germany, the tourist board also publicly unwrapped its new Canadian director, Anja Brokjans, now about six months into her tenure.

GNTO Americas director Ricarda Linder flew in from New York for the occasion, telling Travel Industry Today that she was thrilled to be able to do so again and remarked how seamless the travel experience was at Pearson – a good sign for a return to travel.

Linder shared with guests the news that fully vaccinated Canadians are welcome again (without COVID testing requirements) in Germany, which is expecting to see a strong tourism rebound in 2022, not least with the delayed Oberammergau Passion Play at last taking centre stage for its once-a-decade performances.

In the spirit of the moment, and in the glow of the first Christmas tree of the season, Brokjans introduced the evening’s theme, declaring, “The good news is: Christmas markets are back on again!” and noting that almost every town in Germany has one.

Many of the Weihnachtsmarkt/Christkindlesmarkts start as early as next week and continue until just before Christmas (in some cases a few days after).

Typical German traditions for the festive season, winter activities in the great outdoors, and selected Christmas markets are all showcased in the latest promotional campaign from the GNTO, with the hopes of providing inspiration for visits to Germany in the run-up to Christmas.

The 2021 Christmas campaign is designed to “whet the appetite for travel to Germany” by highlighting typical customs and traditions in various regions and offering fresh ideas for city breaks and cultural tourism.

In a distinct sign of the times, the tourist board also makes a point of declaring, “All the markets and travel ideas promoted in the campaign are subject to rules specifically adapted to the latest coronavirus situation, ensuring that this season will be enjoyable, safe and relaxed.”

At the heart of the ‘Christmas sparkle’ campaign is a landing page (click HERE – https://www.bit.ly/3n75uee) with links to the regularly updated websites of the biggest Christmas markets, plus activities and events during the festive season, and winter offers. The campaign began Nov. 8 via social media, programmatic advertising, search engines and newsletters, and includes activation in the Canadian market.

“Last year, Germany was able to retain its position as the leading destination for cultural and city travel for Europeans, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The unique atmosphere associated with the festive season in Germany’s towns, cities, and regions was a particular draw,” says German National Tourist Board CEO Petra Hedorfer. “We are delighted that the current coronavirus situation means we can open Christmas markets and welcome international visitors again at this special time of year. Our campaign offers specific tips to whet the appetite for cultural travel to Germany.”

Munster Christmas Market

Here, courtesy of the GNTO, are just some of the Christmas-time traditions in Germany that visitors can discover:

Baden-Württemberg

A leisurely tour of the extravagantly decorated royal chambers at Burg Hohenzollern, a fairytale castle located on the edge of the Swabian Alb, is a real treat at this time of year. And Schwetzingen Palace is also awash with Yuletide charm. During the festive season, light artists transform this former royal residence into a Christmas wonderland with illuminated gardens.

Bavaria

Every winter, the landlady at Hündeleskopfhütte in the Allgäu Alps prepares the two-kilometre toboggan run from her mountain restaurant. Armed with head torches, her more adventurous guests can then ride their sleds back down, but there are also torch-lit walks for those who would rather venture out on foot at night.

Berlin

Must-sees include the sparkling Christmas tree at the Brandenburg Gate, the tree-lined avenue Unter den Linden decorated with fairy lights, and the shining stars in Lichtenberg. The Christmas Garden Berlin in the Botanic Gardens is another fairytale setting with light installations and a tree with wish lists hanging from its illuminated branches.

Brandenburg

During the festive season, Potsdam, a former royal seat of power, offers a special ‘Potsdam Christmas stories’ tour. Starting at the old market square, the tour explores the historical city centre and continues to the Dutch quarter, while the guide recounts anecdotes about Baby Jesus and Father Christmas. The historical trams serving glühwein are a popular means of travel between the Christmas markets. The absolute highlight is a stroll around the ‘Blauer Lichterglanz’ Christmas village.

Bremen

At Christmas time, Germany’s bakeries are a hive of activity. The Hanseatic city of Bremen, in particular, is known for its irresistible klaben fruit loaf. This Christmas cake, which was first mentioned by Bremen’s council in 1593, is made with yeast dough, sultanas and almonds, and flavoured with cardamom. Anyone can bake this delicious cake, but only klaben made in Bremen is allowed to use ‘original,’ or genuine, in the name.

Hamburg

In Hamburg, even Christmas has a maritime edge to it. During the traditional ‘Tannenbaumwerfen,’ or conifer throwing, a barge full of trees cruises around Hamburg’s port. The trees are then thrown onto the bigger ships so that the sailors on board can enjoy Christmas even when they are far from home.

Hessen

Berlepsch Castle, perched on the hills of the Werra valley, is part of the German Fairytale Route and the perfect setting for an atmospheric Christmas market. The centuries-old fortress is a riot of traditional decorations and offers medieval music, mulled wine, street entertainers and handmade treats. The fairytale readings are a real hit with the kids, as are the fairytale days throughout the year.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

On those days when snowflakes dot the air and the low sun bathes everything in a soft light, a winter walk along one of the ten thalassotherapy trails in the seaside resort of Warnemünde, the Stoltera nature conservation area or Rostock Heath will lift your spirits. Visitors with an interest in culture should head for the Ahrenshoop art trail, a circular walk that features works by renowned artists from the Ahrenshoop artists’ colony founded in 1892.

Lower Saxony

In the run-up to Christmas, many homes in Lower Saxony are filled with the smell of baking. In Bentheim, flat cakes called schoosollen (shoe soles) are baked over an open fire, while Lüneburg Heath is known for its heidesand biscuits. On the North Sea coast, thin treats known as rullerkes or neejahskoken are made in a waffle iron and often enjoyed around New Year with a cup of East Frisian tea.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Germany’s most unusual, and possibly most beautiful, ice rink can be found at Zollverein mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Essen. Every year in December, what was once the world’s largest coal mine is transformed into a 150-m.-long ice rink along the large coking ovens and chimneys. The rink is a sparkling delight at night, while the winter village next door ensures you won’t go hungry.

Rhineland-Palatinate

A winter walk near Wasserliesch, an area renowned for its wildflowers, is particularly romantic at Christmas time. Follow the Moselsteig trail to Löschem Chapel, which stands high up on the edge of a slope and offers stunning views of the Moselle valley and the Eifel and Hunsrück mountains. Torch-lit walks around Andernach and Neuwied on the river Rhine are another popular winter activity.

Saxony

It’s always Christmas in Seiffen in the Erzgebirge mountains. The town is famous for the handcrafted Christmas pyramids, nutcrackers, angels, candle arches and incense smokers that have been made here for generations and are sold throughout the year. In the run-up to Christmas, the spa resort dons its finest festive threads and invites visitors to the Seiffen Christmas market and the Nativity play in Seiffen church, which is often depicted in regional artwork.

Saxony-Anhalt

As Christmas approaches, Magdeburg switches on 1.2 million little lights. The city is transformed into a glittering wonderland of decorated streetlights, large baubles you can walk around in, twinkling holy figures and a festively illuminated cathedral square. Elsewhere, a ride on the Harz narrow-gauge railway offers a touch of nostalgia. The historical steam engines set off from Wernigerode through a snowy winter landscape to climb Mount Brocken.

Schleswig-Holstein

Lübeck is northern Germany’s Christmas city. Home to the famous Holsten Gate and magnificent churches, this Hanseatic city is especially beautiful during the festive season. In addition to Christmas markets, there is a fairytale forest at the foot of the Church of St Mary, a Yuletide wonderland at the European Hansemuseum featuring elf huts and a kissing arch, and the ‘Lübsche Wiehnacht’ craft market. And no Christmas is complete without Lübeck’s most famous product, marzipan.

Thuringia

Lauscha, a small town in the Thuringian Forest, is the birthplace of the baubles that feature on Christmas trees around the world. Legend has it that the local glassblowers could not afford nuts and apples to decorate their Christmas trees with, so they made decorations out of glass instead. The traditional glassworks in Lauscha are open to visitors all year round, and the decorations can be bought from the workshop studios. Anyone with a particular interest in this traditional craft is encouraged to explore the 15-km Lauscha glassblowers’ trail. A romantic ride on the illuminated mountain railway through the forests of the Schwarza valley is also highly recommended.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

GRENADA READY FOR RETURN OF CANADIANS

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With winter on the horizon and air service from Canada set to resume on Oct. 31, Grenada has unveiled a host of fall, winter and holiday getaway packages designed to tempt travellers looking to escape the snowy season and pandemic lockdowns.

According to the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), Canadians will be able to reach the Spice Islands, which comprise Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique via:

• Air Canada mainline direct service, twice a week (Wednesday and Sunday) from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND) starting Oct. 31

• Sunwing service once a week from YYZ to GND, expected to start Nov. 7

“We are truly a slice of paradise with a low-key vibe, warm and welcoming people, and offerings that connect visitors not only with nature and amazing water adventures, but also with a fascinating culinary journey,” says GTA CEO Petra Roach. “New and expanded air service helps Grenada regain its position as a highly attractive destination for visitors seeking a distinctive Caribbean experience.”

Attributes of the islands include spectacular natural topography, complemented by a charming selection of luxury boutique hotels and villas, 40 white sandy beaches including world-famous Grand Anse Beach, and 15 breathtaking waterfalls.

Additional attractions include six chocolate factories, three rum distilleries, and more than 30 dive sites, including the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean, the Bianca C, and the World’s First Underwater Sculpture Park.

Below is a roundup of the hotels offering holiday and winter packages for travellers (all rates USD):

• Silversands Grenada, one of Grenada’s modern resorts, is offering a special “Time to ‘Fall’ For Grenada” package with 25% off stays through Dec. 17, with breakfast for two included. The resort is also offering a 25% off discount on room and breakfast for Winter Early Birds who book by Dec. 17 for travel between Jan. 8 and April 30, 2022.

• Mount Cinnamon Resort, a luxurious hotel with 37 villas and suites, is offering a Yoga Spice Package, which includes a five-night stay in an Ocean View Cinnamon Suite, daily breakfast, daily yoga classes, a signature massage at the Cinnamon Spa, a Spice School cooking class, complimentary WIFI, and access to water sports, tennis and fitness facilities, and Mount Cinnamon’s beach club. Valid for travel until Dec. 20 with rates starting at $2,100 double including taxes.

• Mount Hartman Bay Estate Private Resort, an expansive estate, is offering a winter special with a free upgrade to “all inclusive.” This includes all meals and beverages, use of boats, yoga, and water aerobics. The minimum four-night stay offer (10 over Easter) must be booked by May 31.

• Laluna Boutique Hotel and Villas, a 16-cottage romantic hotel, is offering a 7-night Honeymoon Package, which includes a cottage suite with private pool and veranda, daily yoga/meditation sessions, Balinese couples massage, an additional spa treatment for each, candle lit dinner at the beach, bottle of prosecco, daily a-la-carte breakfast and dinner not including beverages, a walk in the rainforest with waterfall swim, a $1,000 resort credit, along with an upgrade to a Deluxe Cottage for $95/night. Rates begin at $5,417.00 (may vary on the season).

• Calabash Grenada, an elegant boutique hotel, is offering its 2022 Two Centre Packages, with a winter stay featuring a trip to both Grenada and Barbados. Guests who book a 7-night minimum stay between Jan. 5 and April 5, 2022, at Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel, Grenada and Cobblers Cove, Barbados, will get complimentary inter-island air transfers for two travellers.

• 473 Grenada Boutique Resort is offering a 20% discount on all villas or 30% on the 3-bedroom deluxe with the promo code “WINTERSUN22.” When booking directly, guests will receive a complimentary villa upgrade, complimentary water sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking, and snorkeling, free room service delivery, best rates guaranteed, complimentary laundry services, local partners discounts, complimentary resort & villas WIFI, early check-in and late-check out option, and free car parking.

• Guests can receive 30% off their stay at one of the Caribbean’s eco-friendly resorts True Blue Bay Resort when booking directly on the website. Use promotion code “30OFF” here when travelling before Dec. 15, 2022.

• Blue Star Apartments & Hotel is offering a 25% off discount on week-plus stays to all vaccinated travellers who book a direct stay by Dec. 15. Guests must travel within the dates of Nov. 1-Jan. 15, 2022.

• Book direct at Petite Anse Hotel, a boutique hotel, to receive 10% off. This special only applies to new bookings.


PURE SAFE TRAVEL

All persons entering Grenada either by air or sea must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior with a WHO-approved vaccination and present a negative PCR test result taken within three days of arrival. The cost for the PCR test has been reduced to US$50. Exemptions to fully vaccinated status include persons under 13.

A ‘Pure Safe Travel Authorization Certificate’ is needed by each traveller, including children, arriving in Grenada. Fully vaccinated travellers are only required to quarantine until clearance is received from Health Officials within 48 hours, pending a negative PCR test on entry. Attractions are open to visitors and dine in at restaurants is available to fully vaccinated persons.

For more information visit HERE.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ST. KITTS CALLING ALL CANADIANS

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St. Kitts and Nevis are eager to get back to business in Canada, a market the Caribbean islands were making great strides in in 2019 only to be interrupted by the pandemic, but now set to resume thanks to Air Canada flights beginning on Dec. 5, coupled with eased border measures that took effect late last week.

Tourism minister Lindsay Grant told Travel Industry Today (via Zoom) that the St. Kitts Tourism Authority had been part way through a five-year strategic plan to increase in its profile in Canada, a process that was “well on its way” – boosting its arrivals numbers from this country to close to 10,000 – until the global health crisis,

Indeed, such was the success that Air Canada had even planned to add a second weekly flight, says Grant.

Nearing two years later, the islands are still hoping to “move the trajectory upwards” and improving their standing in the Canadian market.

“We see the potential and we’re plugging away at that – so much so that we engaged a Canadian PR firm and we’re putting the emphasis in Canada, because what the Canadians like is what we have to offer,” says Grant.

By which he means “an uncrowded, quintessential Caribbean getaway with a distinct array of activities, astonishing natural beauty and warm, welcoming hospitality,” not to mention rich in food, music, and other cultural attributes.

Or, more specifically, says Grant, “the Caribbean as it used to be – but with all the amenities. Somewhere you can lay back and be enchanted…”

Boasting plenty of sun, sand, and sea – and all that goes along with that – the small islands are not lacking in attractions, including, in St. Kitts, the UNESCO recognized 500-year-old Brimstone Hill Fortress Park, rain-forested Mt. Liamuiga, and the Sugar Train, the Caribbean’s only scenic passenger railway, which recalls the former British island’s history as a top sugar producer.

Less than 10 minutes away by water taxi, sister island Nevis (part of the twin-island federation formally known as St. Christopher and Nevis), is known for its unspoilt coastline, botanic gardens, and historical significance as the birthplace of American founding father, Alexander Hamilton.

Grant says Canadians tend to visit both islands – “two for the price of one” – with Nevis considered the quieter of the two.

And while there is a mix of accommodation options – including the noteworthy Four Seasons Nevis, which has just completed a major renovation, and the Park Hyatt St. Christopher, as well as the Koi Resort St. Kitts (Hilton) and a dual Marriott property – there are many quaint boutique properties that offer a distinct flavour of the islands. That includes the Royal St. Kitts hotel, the former Jack Tar Village that was a favourite of Canadians. And there are no all-inclusives, Grant notes.

Celebrity Equinox arriving at St. Kitts

Cruising is also important to St. Kitts/Nevis with Grant explaining that many visitors “fall in love with the country” on a shore excursion and then return for a longer stay in the future.

This fall, Seabourn and Celebrity have returned to the island, with the arrival of the latter’s Equinox on Sept. 14 making big waves in the island.

“It reaffirmed our status as a marquee port… and really signals that we are on our way to recovery (from the pandemic) and provides some short-term confidence to the tourism industry and residents,” says Grant

Since 2014 the islands have more than doubled the number of cruise passengers, prompting Grant to note that authorities are cognizant of not succumbing to over-tourism. He notes that the nature of the islands enables visitors to quickly spread out and not overwhelm the port and capital Basseterre.

But whether by sea or air (the latter featuring a $300 p.p. seat sale on Air Canada Rouge flights when booked by Oct. 14), the tourism authority is committed to carrying full on in Canada to increase exposure and “re-introducing” Canadians to St. Kitts this winter, and beyond.

“You’re going to be seeing a lot more of us in Canada,” says Grant.

ENTRY PROTOCOLS

Travellers 18 and over must be fully vaccinated (under 18 exempted) and have a negative PCR test result produced within 72 hours of travel. Another test is necessary upon arrival at one’s “travel approved” hotel during a 24-hour quarantine period (reduced last week from four days) and upon a negative result from that test, visitors can “fully integrate” into island life.

In August, St. Kitts and Nevis announced that people with mixed vaccine two-dose regimens using World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccines, will be considered fully vaccinated.

Specific to Canadians, the Ministry of Health said those “who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine followed by a second dose of different brand of mRNA vaccine, as well as those who received a viral vector vaccine such as AstraZeneca/ COVISHIELD followed by an mRNA vaccine, will be considered Fully Vaccinated by The Federation.”

Visitors must also complete the online KNA travel form, which includes proof of vaccination and hotel bookings, for authorization before travel.

Full travel protocols and requirements are outlined HERE.

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

VANCOUVER, CANADA’S GREENEST CITY

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We dyed in the wool Torontonians have maintained a long-time rivalry with Vancouverites. They think that we think the world (Canada) revolves around us and we think that they think they live in Canada’s most beautiful city—with real estate prices to prove the point. However, I must confess that my recent trip to Vancouver confirms that the city is as vibrant and stunning as my Vancouver buddies like to boast. It’s hard, no impossible, to compete with Stanley Park, the stunning waterfront and backdrop of mountains. I hope you’ll find these “save and splurge” tips to be useful when planning your trip to, amongst other kudos, Canada’s “greenest” city.

THE “YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE” SPLURGE LIST

Bottomless Brunch & Rooftop Buzz

Come hungry to ARC restaurant in the Fairmont Waterfront hotel. The all-inclusive brunch ($49 per person) features a smorgasbord of temptations including smoothies, jerk fried chicken, short ribs poutine, Croque Madame, tacos and salmon Benedict. Throw in a “Let’s Get Fizzical” Mimosa tasting flight ($19) and you’ve got a party.

Guests can work off those calories by taking one of the hotel’s free bicycles for a loop around Stanley Park’s Seawall or doing some lengths in the roof-top pool.

The Fairmont Waterfront also has a rooftop apiary where chief beekeeper Julia Common oversees a lot of busy bees who produce upwards of 200 pounds of honey per year. It’s all part of a Hives for Humanity program. The Waterfront is also dog friendly, so its canine guests receive water bowls, beds and cookies.
www.fairmont.com

Star-Studded Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar:
One of the most awarded restaurants in Vancouver’s recent history, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar features sensational seafood paired with the culinary visions of Chefs Alex Chen and Roger Ma. Like Ma, Chen also won the Canadian Culinary Championship crown in 2018 and was the first competitor to beat Iron Chef Hugh Acheson in the 2018 reboot of Iron Chef Canada.
Order the seafood tower and imagine you’re on a grand boulevard in Paris.
www.boulevardvancouver.ca

Sole Food
What do movie director Robert Altman and entertainer Madonna have in common? Both have worn the funky shoe creations by Vancouver designer John Fluevog. Everything about his soles and heels have attitude—from pointy-toed pilgrim styles to sexy Mary Janes.
www.fluevog.com

Take a Wok
Guide Robert Sung is a passionate font of information about Chinatown and the Chinese culture. Meet him at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Gardens, the first full-scale Ming Dynasty garden of its kind to be constructed outside of China. This oasis was named in honour of the Chinese philosopher, physician and politician, often referred to as the Father of Modern China du to his role in the overthrow of China’s last imperial Qing Dynasty.

From the peaceful garden Sung will lead you on a lively romp of Chinatown, stopping for tastes of warm apple tart and barbecued pork. You will visit a fascinating shop selling herbal remedies such as dried sea cucumber, all sorts of mushrooms and various fish bladders. Sung also stops at fish mongers, grocery and produce stores.

“Dim sum demystified” is how Sung describes lunch. While enjoying a spread of various dumplings and small bites, we learn that dim sum means “touch the heart” and that good manners specify that one never pours one’s own tea but fills the cups of others at the table. We wind up in a traditional tea shop with a demonstration of how to prepare Chinese tea and a chance to buy some exotic leaves. Sung also offers walking food tours of Granville Island.
Tour costs $80 plus tax; minimum two people.
www.awokaround.com

Food choices

THE “CHEAP THRILLS” SAVE LIST

Thai One On
Chef Narong Yumongkol presides at Unchai, named best Thai restaurant by Vancouver Magazine last year. Before coming to Vancouver, chef worked in several luxurious hotels in Thailand and Dubai. His small restaurant on Burrard Street, overlooking a Honda dealership, isn’t fancy but the food is five-star. Due to Covid, they no longer operate the indoor restaurant, so folks line up for take-out, plus there are three tables on a small curbside patio. Dishes from all over Thailand include papaya salad, boat noodle soup and Panang curry. It’s the best Thai food I’ve had in North America with a brilliant menu and just the right balance of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy.
www.unchai.ca

Keefer Yard bar

Putts & Pints
If you’re in Chinatown, check out the hip bar with an indoor putting course called Keefer Yard. You might want to try a sake colada or a rosemary gimlet to get you in the mood to sink some balls. Golf cost is $10 for two. Happy hour goes from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday when you can order a local beer for $5 or cocktails at reduced prices. Pub grub includes burgers, dim sum and exotic small bites.
www.thekeeferbar.com

Market Grub
Enjoy a DIY picnic at the Granville Island Public Market. Browse the wealth of stalls featuring artisan-made cheeses, meats, breads and sweets, then take your feast outside and enjoy your meal al fresco. Inexpensive and fun, the Aquabus and False Creek Ferries provide short rides across the False Creek Inlet, from the downtown side (north) to the Granville Island side (south).
The ferries run continuously from 7am to 10:30pm in the summer (8:30pm winter).
Aquabus

Hike the Grouse Grind
This steep 2.9-kilometre trail to the top of Grouse Mountain is commonly referred to by locals as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” Average completion time for the Grind is 1.5 hours, with the fastest time just over 26 minutes. Once you reach the summit, order a well-deserved beer, enjoy the stunning views, and then take the tram back down. www.grousemountain.com

Pick of the Park
Stanley Park’s massive urban green space offers a multitude of athletic options. Play tennis or check out the Stanley Park Pitch & Putt, a par-three golf course that winds through mature trees along English Bay. Cyclists, joggers and walkers wanting to escape the crowds on the seawall can check out the park’s 64 kilometres of forested trails.

It’s a Gas
Will Woods runs Forbidden Vancouver, a bunch of walking tours that give guests an animated inside look at the city in the bad old days. On the Lost Souls of Gastown your storyteller will regale you with gruesome tales back in the 1800s when Vancouver was a wild frontier town complete with gangsters, gold rushers, madams, a terrible plague and fire. Cost is $32 for adults.
www.forbiddenvancouver.ca

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

JAMAICA READY TO PLAY BALL

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It was only fitting that the Jamaica Tourist Board’s Toronto tourism blitz last week concluded with a box for some select friends at a Blue Jays game. After all, though the Jays were soon to be headed home after their penultimate game of the season, the Caribbean nation is merely rounding first and heading for second as tourism begins to return from its pandemic pause.

JTB’s director of tourism, Donovan White, told Travel Industry Today that it was only natural for the tourist board team, which included tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, to come to Canada, the island’s second largest source market (after the US), as soon as they could after the border re-opened to international visitors.

“We haven’t had a chance to see our tourism partners in person, face to face (since the start of the pandemic), so it was extremely important for us to do that,” he said.

“Tourism is a people business, we understand that very well; and the more we’re able to have these first impressions on our partners, it will be able to help to deliver confidence…”

During the multi-day mission, the JTB team met with travel agents, tour operators, airlines and the media to build on the confidence he says Canada is showing in Jamaica, not least through the strong level of air seat capacity available this winter through returning airlines – Air Canada, WestJet, Transat, Sunwing, and Swoop, flying from multiple gateways, including Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Halifax, Edmonton, St John, Ottawa, and Moncton.

Moreover, White says 265,000 seats are already committed across the carriers, compared to 305,000 in 2019, which translates to about 82% of that previous capacity – a statistic that under the circumstances he considers “amazing,” and to which attributes the confidence of Jamaica’s partners in Canada and the ongoing work of the JTB office here.

Donovan White

He further credits the success of Jamaica’s “resilience corridors” in providing a safe haven for visitors to Jamaica with less than one percent positivity rates for COVID-19 – another “phenomenal” stat in light of Jamaica’s 1.4 million visitors since re-opening its borders in June 2020.

(Earlier this month, the government also launched a vaccination drive to facilitate administration of the vaccines island-wide with a series of voluntary vaccination blitzes at strategic sites across the country. This drive is an extension of the “Jamaica Cares” program, a nationwide response to COVID-19 that includes the resilient corridors and other comprehensive health and safety protocols.)

White adds that tour operators in this country are reporting a “positive trajectory” on bookings (currently reaching 65% of 2019 levels), and that Jamaica will continue to offer support and marketing in Canada “to drive the consumer to them.”

One aspect of the JTB’s ongoing efforts are plans to stage its annual JAPEX trade show in person in early November, albeit with a hybrid component to allow for people who can’t make it to the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

The JTB has also begun to invite trade partners in limited numbers back to the island to “touch and feel it for themselves.”

As for Canadians travelling to Jamaica, White says current protocols are not limited to fully vaccinated persons, but a negative COVID test (PCR or antigen) is a must, as is completion of a pre-travel authorization form that can be found on the visitjamaica.com website.

And with no quarantines in place (unless positive) or arrival testing, “you’re ready to be on your way to the beach immediately.”

White also notes that 90% of Jamaica’s tourism assets are located within the resilient corridor and that tourists are free to move around within that zone, where they will have “a very normal experience. The only difference you’re likely to notice from two years ago is people wearing masks.”

For anyone that does test positive in Jamaica, hotels are equipped with isolation rooms and care needs. The hotels will also help arrange PCRs tests with a private lab for Canadians as required for their return trip home, with White adding, “The hotels take the pain and frustration of getting it done by making the appointments for their guests.”

It’s just one more way, he says, to demonstrate that “we are focussed on ensuring that every person who comes to Jamaica can do so safely and can have a safe and successful vacation.”

As for the industry, White says “we are happy about the way things have gone (in creating a safe environment for visitors). And we are even more enthused by the confidence our international partners are showing us.”

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

THE ART OF REBRANDING: Fort Lauderdale tourism unveils new look

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The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau has a new look, taking the name Visit Lauderdale and introducing the destination tagline ‘Everyone Under the Sun.’ The rebrand of the South Florida destination is designed to reflect the diversity and welcoming nature of the Greater Fort Lauderdale region.

To illustrate new brand, Visit Lauderdale commissioned internationally renowned airbrush artist Avi Ram, a Greater Fort Lauderdale resident, to paint a new ‘Everyone Under the Sun’ mural, which is on display at the entrance of the W Fort Lauderdale hotel. Ram is known for camouflaging human figures with body paint who then emerge to bring the art to life.

An activation for the Visit Lauderdale brand launch featured painted models representing the area’s diverse communities including LGBT+, Black and disabled. The mural, which stands alone without the camouflaged figures, is meant to show the beauty of Greater Fort Lauderdale and the face of Mother Nature welcoming all to experience the area’s natural beauty.

The brand launch also included the debut of the official Visit Lauderdale Everyone Under the Sun beer, crafted by Fort Lauderdale’s Gulf Stream Brewing Company.

Flags displaying the new Visit Lauderdale logo are flying high from hotels, the Water Taxi, on airboats out in the Everglades, and at many other Broward County locations.

“One of my goals when I took over as head of Broward tourism five years ago was to rebrand the organization and our destination to better support our community through tourism jobs and the positive economic impact it brings,” says Stacy Ritter, President and CEO of Visit Lauderdale. “We have an incredibly diverse and inclusive community that is welcoming to literally everyone under the sun, and that message is now infused into all of our marketing as we invite people to Visit Lauderdale.”

Tourism leaders will continue to focus their efforts on marketing the entire Greater Fort Lauderdale region as a top destination for travellers, meetings and convention attendees and sports groups – just with a new name. The name Visit Lauderdale went through extensive consumer focus group testing and consistently emerged as the favourite of people interested in Greater Fort Lauderdale area vacations. It will serve as a call to action in destination ads inviting people to Visit Lauderdale and experience not only the area’s beautiful beaches, but all the great people and places between the beaches and the Everglades.

“We have 31 municipalities in Broward County, all of which are unique and alive with their own culture, flavour and activities,” adds Ritter. “Our largest city, Fort Lauderdale, is just one of those 31 cities, but the name Lauderdale is the most recognizable. It helps us put the entire Broward County area on the map for visitors.”

Tourism leaders say the trend for destination marketing organizations is to use shorter names, often with the word ‘visit’ in the title because it says plainly that what their mission is – to encourage people to visit. Those visitors coming for vacations, conventions and sporting events leave lots of money in the community and support jobs.

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

SECOND SUMMER IN PROVINCETOWN: Events, Festivals and Weather 

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Insiders know that fall is the best time of year to visit Provincetown. The New England resort town known for its dramatic light, extraordinary beaches, and all things LGBTQ. From classic events and arts festivals to a brand new food and wine festival, Provincetown’s legendary “Second Summer” is the ideal time to visit.

ArtProvincetown Festival, October 8-10, 2021
The first annual ArtProvincetown Festival  will include museums, galleries, studios and a marketplace for artists and craftsmen. Aimed at artists, collectors, designers, and fans of the arts in all forms, the Festival will feature receptions and parties with special hosts. The mission of the ArtProvincetown Festival is to highlight the diverse and beautiful art that Ptown has to offer. Note that the Washashore Music & Arts Festival is happening the same weekend and will have crossover events.

Washashore Music & Arts Festival, October 8-10, 2021
The Washashore Music & Arts Festival  is an annual gathering celebrating the union of live music, queer artists, good beer, and the everlasting singularity of Provincetown. People who attend Washashore Festival will be compelled to participate in Provincetown Brewing Co.’s commitment to #draftivism: giving back to progressive causes while having a good time. Events will be held at Provincetown Brewing Co., Crown & Anchor, Red Room (formerly Velvet Lounge), and other venues. The event is presented by Provincetown Brewing Co. and executive produced by Live from Provincetown and NYA Presents.

Monumental Yard Sale, October 9-11, 2021
Shopping in Ptown hits an all-time high during the annual Monumental Yard Sale Weekend, which will be held on Indigenous Peoples Weekend, October 9-11, 2021. Each year, town residents, as well as retail shops, participate in the unusual sale where visitors can find one-of-kind treasures lining the sidewalks and yards all over town. It’s also a great time to visit Ptown’s independently-owned boutiques that offer home goods, clothing, jewelry, crafts and antiques, as well as more than 50 galleries displaying fine art, here in America’s oldest continuous art colony.

Women’s Week October 11-17, 2021
With over 150 events for women, including music, comedy, dance parties, film screenings, dune tours, sails, food events, sports events, and more, Women’s Week once again brings thousands of women together—singles and couples alike. Every year there is the Community Dinner, which features performances.

Single Women’s Weekend October 13-16, 2021
The annual Single Women’s Weekend,  postponed from May, is now scheduled for October. It’s designed to be a fast, fun way for single lesbians to meet other single lesbians – live and in person. Registration includes Friday’s Meet & Greet, Friday’s Speed Dating and Saturday’s Toys of Eros Workshop.

Fantasia Fair, October 17-24, 2021
Since 1975, Fantasia Fair (a.k.a. Fan Fair) https://fanfair.info/ has been acclaimed as the original transgender event. It offers anyone who identifies as trans (and even those who don’t) a place to gather. Daily keynote speakers and workshops are a big part of the week-long schedule. There are also fashion shows, formal banquets, lunches, and a cabaret/talent show. It’s an immersive, week-long event, the longest-running transgender event in the world.

Halloween Weekend October 29-31, 2021
One of the biggest events in October, Halloween is the best night of the year to don costumes and play on Commercial Street. Expect flash mobs, performances, and lots of parties. Halloween also overlaps with Spooky Bear Weekend. which includes themed parties, shows and a farewell brunch.

Provincetown Food & Wine Festival, November 4-7, 2021
The new festival, created to celebrate local chefs and restaurants is planned to be an annual event. The schedule includes a Tuscan Wine Tasting & Seminar, Afternoon Tasting & Social, Italian Fine Wine Dinner, Amalfi Coast Wine Dinner, Celebrating Women, GRAND Tasting and Champagne Drag Brunch. Participating restaurants and hotels include Strangers & Saints, The Crown & Anchor, Pilgrim House, Masthead Resort & Cottages, Provincetown Brewing Company, Café Heaven, Tin Pan Alley, Post Office Café and Cabaret, and Perry’s Fine Wine & Liquors. Details at Provincetown Food & Wine Festival.

Getting There

Provincetown lies 60 miles out to sea at the tip of Cape Cod. Visitors are drawn to this remote swath of land for its beaches, restaurants and its charming art galleries and shops. They come for the luxurious guesthouses and the boutique inns. A favorite LGBTQ+ destination, the town is known for celebrating individuality and freedom of expression.

Provincetown has a rich creative history as the oldest continuous art colony in the country and the birthplace of modern American Theater. Each season offers visitors something new, something different, and Provincetown beckons any time of year. Provincetown is a two-hour drive from Boston and five hours from New York. It can be reached by Peter Pan Bus Lines from Boston, via Cape Air flights from Boston’s Logan Airport and Westchester County Airport in New York, and by scheduled 90-minute ferry service from downtown Boston.

Visit https://ptowntourism.com/

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

CUBA EASES TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

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In preparation for the winter season and taking into consideration that by November, 92.5 percent of the population will be vaccinated, The Ministry of Tourism of Cuba announced the opening of all the tourist destinations in Cuba and more relaxed entry protocols as of November 15th, 2021.

The new rules will focus on the surveillance of symptomatic patients, temperature screening and diagnostic test performed at random. This means: NO covid test prior entering Cuba and NO PCR upon arrival at the Cuban airport (which in the past was completed to 100 % of the passengers).

The new protocols establish Canadian incoming travellers must show that they are fully vaccinated or, if they are not vaccinated, they must submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before entering Cuba.

The PCR test Canadians need to re-enter back in Canada is done right at the hotels and it costs US $30:00 (payable locally by visa or debit/visa).

The Cuban tourism authorities announced the opening of the local tourism market and the cancelling of the quarantine for passengers staying in private rental homes (B&Bs), additionally, locals can stay at tourist facilities shared by international visitors.

Lessner Gomez, Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto noted that Cuba has done an incredible job vaccinating its people including children as young as two years old. “We are the first country in the world to administer Covid 19 vaccines to toddlers”, he said; “ the vaccination program in Cuba, the strengthening of the health and safety protocols in all tourists’ facilities and the high vaccination rate in Canada have made possible these openings”.

According to Gomez “the fact that Cuba is relaxing the rules and that the tourists will be allowed to travel around and enjoy our beautiful country is very exciting and very good news at the time when Canadians are looking forward to returning to normal and are planning their winter travels”.

The Cuba Tourist Board represents the Ministry of Tourism in Canada. It provides general travel information to Canadians who would like to visit the island.

Email: info@gocuba.ca

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News