Pacific Delight Introduces 7-Night Myanmar Tour for $1599; Add on Cambodia for $249 More

A sense of timelessness shrouds the land of Myanmar. Pacific Delight has introduced a 7-night tour showcasing the Buddhist culture-steeped destination.
A sense of timelessness shrouds the land of Myanmar. Pacific Delight has introduced a 7-night tour showcasing the Buddhist culture-steeped destination.

With demand for Myanmar growing exponentially, Pacific Delight Tours is launching a seven-night package showcasing the Buddhist culture-steeped destination formerly known as Burma. Rates start at $1,599 (land portion) per person, based on double occupancy, for travel April through September 2015.

A sense of timelessness shrouds the land of Myanmar with its tropical plains, Himalayan foothills, teak-filled jungles and the mangrove-lined Ayeyarwady River.  Participants will experience Myanmar’s culture firsthand with visits to Amarapura, Mandalay, Sae Ma Village, Bagan, Yangon and a boat excursion on Inle Lake.  Travelers will enjoy sights such as the Mahagandayon Monastery, a pagoda sunset visit and tours of each city included in the itinerary.

The rate, from $1,599 per person, based on double occupancy (single supplements start at $599) includes deluxe accommodations at Hotel Amazing in Mandalay, Inle Resort in Lake Inle, Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort in Bagan and the Rose Garden Hotel in Yangon.

For an enhanced experience, participants can upgrade to luxury hotel accommodations at Sedona Hotel in Mandalay, Pristine Lotus Spa Resort in Inle Lake, The Hotel Tharabar Gate in Bagan and Sule Shangri-La Hotel in Yangon.  The luxury upgrade starts at $1,799 per person, based on double occupancy (single supplements start at $769).

Each itinerary includes initial arrival and departure airport transfers, ground transportation, domestic intra-Myanmar flights, daily breakfast, English-speaking guides, sightseeing and admission fees and the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program.

International airfare is not included, but can be purchased from Pacific Delight Tours at competitive rates at the time of booking.

Cambodia Extension: Travelers visiting Myanmar with Pacific Delight Tours can extend their stay in Southeast Asia with a three-day visit to Cambodia to view Angkor Wat, the crown jewel of Khmer architecture, with accommodations at Royal Angkor Resort in Siem Reap.  The add-on is available from an additional $249 per person, based on double occupancy (single supplements from $109). Airfare between Myanmar and Cambodia is not included, but can be arranged via Pacific Delight Tours.

Contact Pacific Delight Tours at 800-221-7179 or visit www.pacificdelighttours.com for more information or to book or contact a travel agent.

 

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Sir Richard Branson Introduces ‘Virgin Limited Edition’ Retreats

The Lodge at Verbier, a mountain hideaway in the Swiss Alps, is one of the Virgin Limited Edition retreats.
The Lodge at Verbier, a mountain hideaway in the Swiss Alps, is one of the Virgin Limited Edition retreats.

Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur famous for Virgin Records and Virgin Air and a host of daring and innovative initiatives, has introduced the Virgin Limited Edition collection of unique retreats.

In 1998, during one of Sir Richard Branson’s famous ballooning expeditions in Morocco, his parents found a stunning Kasbah at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, close to Marrakech, and dreamed of turning it into a romantic Moroccan retreat. Richard Branson fulfilled their dream and bought the fairy-tale palace, inclusive of the antiques and art collections from an Italian designer and antiquary. Guests of the Kasbah Tamadot enter a colorful place that seems from “1001 Arabian Nights”. A 3-night package for Christmas and New Years includes all meals and drinks as well as entertainment, treks in the local area and excursions to nearby villages as well as activities for kids; priced from 1.443 Euro per person (www.kasbahtamadot.virgin.com).

The African bush – just the thought of it conjures up some fascinating images of breathtaking wilderness, sunrise safaris and a retreat far away from the city. At Ulusaba, Branson and his team set out to create the most beautiful game reserve in Africa. The Ulusaba Private Game Reserve is in the heart of the Sabi Sand Reserve, close to Kruger National Park. The family friendly Rock Lodge can accommodate 25 guests in its ten rooms. Only 500 meters away there is the Safari Lodge, built along the banks of a dry riverbed. The Safari Lodge can accommodate 22 adults in its 11 rooms. Most of the Ulusaba staff are from surrounding villages, so guests benefit from authentic South African hospitality. Ulusaba promotes from within and supports the local community through their charitable project “Pride ´n Purpose.” The Ulusaba family of 119 individuals includes some of the most qualified rangers and trackers in the reserve, who guarantee the experience of a lifetime on a game drive (www.ulusaba.virgin.com).

When thinking of going on safari in Kenya, one of the first things that come to mind is the Great Migration. Words just cannot describe the majesty of this awe-inspiring spectacle. At Mahali Mzuri, Sir Richard Branson’s Kenyan Safari Camp which opened in summer 2013, guests have a front row seat, not just to the migration, but also to the abundant game guests can see all year round (www.mahalimzuri.virgin.com).

The Lodge at Verbier, a mountain hideaway in the Swiss Alps. In winter, the chalet is hired exclusively and but individual rooms can be booked during the summer months (www.thelodge.virgin.com).

The Virgin Limited Edition includes also the private island Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, luxurious 100 foot catamaran Necker Belle in the Caribbean, The Roof Gardens and Babylon Restaurant in London, and Mont Rochelle in South Africa, which opened in September 2014.

Virgin Limited Edition, London, UK, +44 (0) 208 600 0430, enquiries@virginlimitededition.com, www.virginlimitededition.com.

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Western River Expeditions: Top Questions Families Should Ask When Considering a Raft Trip

In answer to the question “Is a raft trip right for me and the family?” Western River Expeditions says, "If you’ve been eager to get the kids away from an over-civilized world and all its technology and overload, river rafting is a great place to start (hint – no Internet or cell service!)."
In answer to the question “Is a raft trip right for me and the family?” Western River Expeditions says, “If you’ve been eager to get the kids away from an over-civilized world and all its technology and overload, river rafting is a great place to start (hint – no Internet or cell service!).”

Salt Lake City–Rafting pioneer Western River Expeditions advises on the key questions families should ask before embarking on a river rafting vacation.

“In our 50-plus years of operation, Western River Expeditions has created heirloom memories for literally thousands of families,” said Brian Merrill, CEO. “We’re always learning new things about how to engage parents and children both ashore and on the river.  And we love it when families take the time to ask us questions before they make reservations for a rafting adventure.”

Merrill and his staff have heard it all from first time river runners, from “will there be flush toilets and room service?” to “I can’t swim, but can I still go?” But they also appreciate that no question is too silly or inappropriate.

Here are the questions they suggest anyone considering a raft trip should ask:

First, “Is a raft trip right for me and the family?” If you’ve been eager to get the kids away from an over-civilized world and all its technology and overload, river rafting is a great place to start (hint – no Internet or cell service!).

“How young can children be?” This question is river-dependent. If the river is relatively tranquil in post-spring runoff, with most rapids being Class III or lower, children as young as five can often be accommodated with Coast Guard-approved age-appropriate life jackets.

“How old can Grandma and Grandpa be?” This is truly more a question of physical ability over age. Western River Expeditions has taken 85-year-olds down the river who can get on and off the boat and hike better than a 60-year-old. Discuss your physical level with your outfitter to help you make the best choice. Note that Western River Expeditions does offer an interesting option for the older crowd. On Grand Canyon trips, Western uses a patented boat called the “J-Rig.” This 37-foot motorized craft offers quite a bit more flexibility in seating and comfort than traditional rafts and can be a great way for Grandma and Grandpa to join a trip.

“Is it mandatory to know how to swim?” Non-swimmers are welcomed on most all river trips. Coast Guard-approved life vests (PFDs – personal floatation devices) are mandatory as well as a safety talk prior to departure. Non-swimmers, however, should have a heart-to-heart chat with their potential tour company before making a reservation for a rafting trip with larger whitewater.

Bottom line: “Is rafting dangerous?” The element of risk (and thrill) that comes with running the rapids is why river rafting is so popular. But there’s perceived risk and then there’s real risk. That’s where professional river guides come in. They are extensively trained to minimize and manage risks. But there’s not much even your guides can do about your sunburn if you forget to put on sunscreen, or if you’re a klutz getting in and out of the boat!

Once you’ve put the above questions to bed, then ponder:

“How many hours will your gang want to spend on the river each day?”  Some itineraries involve less time on water, more time at camp and exploring trails. But please come with a flexible attitude. The speed of the flow, location of campsites and how long lunch and day hikes take influence the amount of time floating, swimming and paddling on the water each day.

“What if I’m nervous about whitewater?” Think options. There are rafting trips on calm water and trips with world-class whitewater. The type of boat you’re in also dictates the adventure. You can choose to paddle your own craft (most adventurous), ride in boat with a guide at the oars or with Western, ride atop a patented “J-Rig,” a large, motorized boat with seating up front for the more gung-ho or aft for more protection.

“In camp, how much ‘roughing it’ is there?” Guests sleep each night in a wilderness setting on the river, in a tent or out in the open under the stars (your choice). Your biggest responsibility will be pitching your tent. The guides take care of setting up the loo, food prep and clean up. Camping is usually deluxe, comfortable and easy. Meals are often better than what you have at home.

“What do little ones do at camp?” Think nature-oriented games and special hours for dining for youngsters, supervised by staff trained to work with children. There is truly never enough time for all that both kids and teens want to experience on the river.

When you are ready to make a reservation, let the company know the ages and experience levels of participants.  The company will guide you.

For first timers and young families with ages five to 12, Western River Expeditions recommends a five-day trip on Utah’s Green River or Idaho’s Lower Salmon.

For families with children ages nine and up, a three-day trip through the Grand Canyon may be the right fit.

Those with children 12 and up have the widest range of options to choose from including Utah’s Cataract Canyon and a full six day trip in the Grand Canyon.

Chances are other families will be on these trips and the children have fun interacting and making new friends.

For a copy of the 2015 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit: http://www.westernriver.com/.

Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/).

For a copy of the 2015 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit: http://www.westernriver.com/.

 

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Pure Adventures Introduces Supported, Self-Directed Bicycle Vacation

Bicycle vacation specialist Pure Adventures has just introduced ‘Supported, Self-Directed’ adventures, that lets guests enjoy the freedom of a self-guided/independent trip with the support of a guided tour.
Bicycle vacation specialist Pure Adventures has just introduced ‘Supported, Self-Directed’ adventures, that lets guests enjoy the freedom of a self-guided/independent trip with the support of a guided tour.

Bicycle vacation specialist Pure Adventures has just introduced ‘Supported, Self-Directed’ adventures, a new concept in cycling vacations that lets guests enjoy the freedom of a self-guided/independent trip with the sag wagon service and trip leader support of a fully guided tour.

“This supported self-directed concept allows independent cyclists to ride and explore remote destinations where roadside assistance or local services may not exist, essentially creating their own ride complete with all the support needed,” says Loren Siekman, Pure Adventures founder/owner. “The support van and trip leader assigned to transfer guest luggage from one overnight stop to the next also assist with ‘sag’ stops along the route (every 20-25 miles), provide a lift for shorter ride options, help with mechanical matters, and handle any on-road emergencies or questions.

Supported self-directed itineraries require that a minimum of six people sign up for the same fixed departure date and program. However if six friends or family members sign up, then they can choose their own exclusive departure date.

“Even though six or more clients are traveling more or less on the same route, they are under no obligation to fraternize and for all intents and purposes may remain as independent of one another as they like. The only common denominators are that their luggage is in the same van and they’re most probably staying at the same inns,” Siekman said.

Pure Adventure manages all logistics, makes all reservations, and provides all vehicles, trip support leaders, as well as high end bike rentals.

“It’s a perfect middle ground between fully guided and independent/self-guided at a price point more closely resembling a self-guided trip.”

The advantages of supported self-directed travel include lower trip rates, no appointed meal and departure times and the freedom to sightsee at leisure. Riders can tap into the expertise of the company’s leader who knows bike mechanics, supplies fresh water and healthy snacks, advises on caution stops, suggests things to see and do and provides transport to guest-selected restaurants.

“In this format, we may suggest but are not organizing group activities such as museum visits or wine tastings often included in a fully guided trip. And though trip distances on these programs tend to be longer than most of the self-guided trips we offer, shorter ride options exist thanks to this Sag support. It is the perfect option for couples of different abilities,” said Siekman.

New for 2015, Pure Adventures’ Supported Self Directed itineraries include: Death Valley, Bryce & Zion National Parks, Epic Climbs of Arizona, Yosemite to San Francisco and several more County Kerry & Cork in Ireland. Coming later in 2015 will be new and challenging trans-Pyrenees and trans-Alps trips plus other long distance rides with less mountain climbing demands.

For more information see http://pure-adventures.com/ssdtours/

 

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Obama designates Pullman Site, Internment Camp, Brown’s Canyon as National Monuments as Congress Pushes for ‘No New National Parks’

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Under President Obama's new “Every Kid in a Park” initiative fourth graders and their families will have with free admission to National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Under President Obama’s new “Every Kid in a Park” initiative fourth graders and their families will have with free admission to National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Obama went home to Chicago to launch the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative that will provide all fourth grade students and their familieswith free admission to National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year.

At the same time, the President announced the creation of three new National Monuments across the country, including the Pullman National Monument in Illinois, a location iconic for its history of labor unrest and civil rights advances, which will be Chicago’s first National Park Service (NPS) unit; Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II, and Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, an historic site of extraordinary beauty with world-class recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the globe.

“Together, these monuments will help tell the story of significant events in American history and protect unique natural resources for the benefit of all Americans,” the White House said.

“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks and our monuments, our lands, our waters — these places are the birthright of all Americans,” President Obama said.

But of the three, the Pullman National Monument has special significance for the President, not just for its importance to the labor movement and the civil rights movement. As he related the story:

“This place has been a milestone in our journey toward a more perfect union,” President Obama said.

“So this site is at the heart of what would become America’s Labor Movement — and as a consequence, at the heart of what would become America’s middle class.  And bit by bit, we expanded this country’s promise to more Americans.  But too many still lived on the margins of that dream.

“The white workers who built Pullman’s rail cars won new rights.  But those rights were not extended to the black porters who worked on these cars — the former slaves, and sons and grandsons who made beds and carried luggage and folded sheets and shined shoes.   And they worked as many as 20 hours a day on less than three hours’ sleep just for a couple dollars a day.  Porters who asked for a living wage, porters who asked for better hours or better working conditions were told they were lucky to have a job at all.  If they continued to demand better conditions, they were fired.  It seemed hopeless to try and change the status quo.

“But a few brave men and women saw things differently.  And one summer night in 1925, porters packed a hall in Harlem, and a young man there named A. Philip Randolph led the meeting.  And what A. Philip Randolph said was, “What this is about,” he said, “is making you master of your economic fate.”  Making you master of your economic fate.  And so he and others organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters around the strategy that he would employ throughout his life:  “If you stand firm and hold your ground, in the long run you’ll win.”

“That was easier said than done.  Over the years, Brotherhood leaders and supporters were fired, they were harassed.  But true to A. Philip Randolph’s call, they stood firm, they held their ground.  And 12 years to the day after A. Philip Randolph spoke in that hall in Harlem, they won, and Pullman became the first large company in America to recognize a union of black workers.

“And this was one of the first great victories in what would become the Civil Rights Movement.  It wouldn’t be the last victory.  It was his union that allowed A. Philip Randolph to pressure President Roosevelt to desegregate the defense industry.  It was those Pullman porters who gave the base by which A. Philip Randolph could convince President Truman to desegregate the Armed Forces.  It was those porters who helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, who were the central organizers of the March on Washington.

“And that’s not just the story of a movement, that’s the story of America.  Because as Americans, we believe that workers’ rights are civil rights. That dignity and opportunity aren’t just gifts to be handed down by a generous government or by a generous employer; they are rights given by God, as undeniable and worth protecting as the Grand Canyon or the Great Smoky Mountains. …

“That’s the story of this place — that, together, we can do great things that we cannot accomplish alone.  That’s why today I’m designating Chicago’s Pullman District as America’s newest national monument.  I want this younger generation, I want future generations to come learn about their past.  Because I guarantee you there are a lot of young people right here in Chicago, just a few blocks away, living in this neighborhood who may not know that history.

“I want future generations to know that while the Pullman porters helped push forward our rights to vote, and to work, and to live as equals, their legacy goes beyond even that.  These men and women without rank, without wealth or title, became the bedrock of a new middle class.  These men and women gave their children and grandchildren opportunities they never had.

“Here in Chicago, one of those porter’s great-granddaughter had the chance to go to a great college and a great law school, and had the chance to work for the mayor, and had the chance to climb the ladder of success and serve as a leader in some of our cities’ most important institutions.  And I know that because today she’s the First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama.

“So to the young people here today, that’s what I hope you take away from this place.  It is right that we think of our national monuments as these amazing vistas, and mountains, and rivers.  But part of what we’re preserving here is also history.  It’s also understanding that places that look ordinary are nothing but extraordinary.  The places you live are extraordinary, which means you can be extraordinary.  You can make something happen, the same way these workers here at Pullman made something happen.  (Applause.)

“Because for all the progress that we’ve made — and we have made a lot of progress — our moral revolution is unfinished.  And it’s up to each of us to protect that promise of America, and expand that promise of opportunity for all people.  That long march has never be easy.  This place, historic Pullman, teaches us we have to keep standing firm and together.  That’s the story of who we are.  That’s the story of our past.  And I have no doubt that we will pass the torch from generation to generation so that it is the story of our future as well.”

Pullman National Monument in Illinois:

This monument will preserve and highlight America’s first planned industrial town, and a site that tells important stories about the social dynamics of the industrial revolution, of American opportunity and discrimination, and of the rise of labor unions and the struggle for civil rights and economic opportunity for African Americans and other minorities. The 203-acre site includes factories and buildings associated with the Pullman Palace Car Company, which was founded in 1867 and employed thousands of workers to construct and provide service on railroad cars. While the Pullman Company employed a mostly white workforce to manufacture railroad passenger cars, it also recruited the first porters, waiters and maids from the population of former slaves to serve on its luxury cars. Though lower-paying, these service jobs held prestige in the African-American community and played a major role in the rise of the African-American middle class and, through an historic labor agreement, the development of the civil rights movement of the 20th Century. The historic labor movement organized by A. Philip Randolph in the 1930s to win rights for these porters, waiters and maids ultimately created the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first labor union led by African Americans to receive a charter in the American Federation.

The National Park Foundation announced that nearly $8 million dollars has already been raised to support the monument, which will be Chicago’s first National Park Service unit and will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (http://pullmanil.org/nps.html).

Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado:

This monument will protect a stunning section of Colorado’s upper Arkansas River Valley. Located in Chaffee County near the town of Salida, Colorado, the 21,586-acre monument features rugged granite cliffs, colorful rock outcroppings, and mountain vistas that are home to a diversity of plants and wildlife, including bighorn sheep and golden eagles. Members of Congress, local elected officials, conservation advocates, and community members have worked for more than a decade to protect the area, which hosts world-class recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the globe for hiking, whitewater rafting, hunting and fishing. In addition to supporting this vibrant outdoor recreation economy, the designation will protect the critical watershed and honor existing water rights and uses, such as grazing and hunting. The monument will be cooperatively managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and USDA’s National Forest Service.

Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii:

This monument permanently protects a site where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II. Located on the island of Oahu, the monument will help tell the difficult story of the internment camp’s impact on the Japanese American community and the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict. Honouliuli Internment Camp, located in a steep canyon not far from Pearl Harbor, opened in March, 1943 and was the largest and longest-used confinement site for Japanese and European Americans and resident immigrants in Hawaii, eventually holding 400 civilian internees and 4,000 prisoners of war. The camp was largely forgotten until uncovered in 2002, and the President’s designation will ensure its stories are told for generations. The monument will be managed by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

Every Kid in a Park

In the lead up to the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016, the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative is a call to action to get all children to visit and enjoy America’s unparalleled outdoors. \

“Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces.  At the same time, kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens instead of outside.  A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that young people now devote an average of more than seven hours a day to electronic media use, or about 53 hours a week – more than a full time job.

“America’s public lands and waters offer space to get outside and get active, and are living classrooms that provide opportunities to build critical skills through hands-on activities.”

To inspire the next generation to discover all that America’s public lands and waters have to offer, the Obama Administration will provide all 4th grade students and their families free admission to all National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year, starting with the 2015-2016 school year.  The initiative will also:

Make it easy for schools and families to plan trips:  The Administration will distribute information and resources to make it easy for teachers and families to identify nearby public lands and waters and to find programs that support youth outings.

Provide transportation support to schools with the most need: As an integral part of this effort, the National Park Foundation (NPF) – the congressionally chartered foundation of the National Park Service – is expanding and re-launching its Ticket to Ride program as Every Kid in a Park, which will award transportation grants for kids to visit parks, public lands and waters, focusing on schools that have the most need.   

    Provide educational materials: The initiative will build on a wide range of educational programs and tools that the federal land management agencies already use.  For example, NPS has re-launched a website with over 1,000 materials developed for K-12 teachers, including science labs, lesson plans, and field trip guides. And a number of federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Education, and NPS participate in Hands on the Land, a national network of field classrooms and agency resources that connects students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways.

To further support this effort, the President’s 2016 Budget includes a total increased investment of $45 million for youth engagement programs throughout the Department of the Interior, with $20 million specifically provided to the National Park Service for youth activities, including bringing 1 million fourth-grade children from low-income areas to national parks. This increase will also fund dedicated youth coordinators to help enrich children and family learning experiences at parks and online. 

‘Conservation, a Truly American Idea’

The President, standing near the site of the historic Pullman town in Chicago, said, “For a century, rangers, and interpreters, and volunteers and visitors have kept alive what the writer Wallace Stegner once called ‘the best idea we ever had’ — our belief that the country’s most special places should belong not just to the rich, not just to the powerful, but belong to everybody — not just now, but for all time.

“Conservation is a truly American idea.  The naturalists and industrialists and politicians who dreamt up our system of public lands and waters did so in the hope that, by keeping these places, these special places in trust — places of incomparable beauty, places where our history was written — then future generations would value those places the same way as we did.  It would teach us about ourselves, and keep us grounded and keep us connected to what it means to be American.  And it’s one of our responsibilities, as Americans, to protect this inheritance and to strengthen it for the future.

“And that’s why I’ve used my authority to set aside more public lands and waters than any President in history.  (Applause.)  And that’s why, starting next month, we’re going to encourage every American to “Find Your Park,” because chances are, there’s one closer than you think.”

Antiquities Act Under Threat of ‘No New National Parks’ Legislation

The Antiquities Act was first exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.  Since then, 16 presidents have used this authority to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.

With these new designations, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 16 national monuments. Altogether, he has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other President – as well as preserved sites that help tell the story of significant people or extraordinary events in American history, such as Cèsar E. Chàvez National Monument in California, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, and Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio.

However, the Republican-led Congress has moved to undermine the President’s authority to designate national monuments.

“Since 1906, presidents of both parties have used this legislation to protect sites, objects, and landscapes of historic, cultural, or scientific interest on federally-owned or controlled property,” the National Trust for Historic Preservation stated. “Some of America’s most iconic places were first protected by presidential national monument designations, including the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon and Acadia. Recent designations such as Fort Monroe, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, the César E. Chávez National Monument — and now Pullman — demonstrate just how critical the Antiquities Act is to protecting America’s diverse historic and cultural sites.

“Now, only two months into 114th Congress, seven bills have already been introduced that would weaken, restrict or add burdensome requirements to the president’s use of the Antiquities Act. These bills pose a serious threat to the future preservation of America’s most important and beloved places.”

(See more at National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2600 Virginia Ave. NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20037, 202-588-6000, 800-315-6847, PreservationNation.org and SavingPlaces.org.

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Historic Newport Mansions Reopen for 2015, Unveil Schedule of Special Events

The Breakers, the Vanderbilts' Gilded Age mansion in Newport, RI © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ Gilded Age mansion in Newport, RI © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Newport, RI –  As of Friday, February 13, three Newport Mansions are open daily for tours for the rest of the year. The Breakers (1895), The Elms (1901) and Marble House (1892).

On March 13, two additional houses–Chateau-sur-Mer (1852) and Rosecliff (1902)–will open for the season.  Kingscote (1841), Green Animals Topiary Garden (c.1860),  Hunter House (c.1748), Isaac Bell House (1883) and  Chepstow (1861) will open on May 23.

New this year will be a revised guided tour of  Rosecliff, combining information about the history of the house and its creators, with reminiscences by its last private owners who donated it to the Preservation Society.

Special Events

The following special events are currently scheduled at the Newport Mansions (visit www.NewportMansions.org for updated event listings and details):

            March 7-8:  Newport’s Island Moving Company performs Mother Goose at Rosecliff, an enchanting children’s ballet.

March 19:  The lecture “Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies” is presented at Rosecliff.  Author Lawrence Goldstone tells the story of the feud between the nation’s great air pioneers.

April 4: The Easter Bunny visits Rosecliff for the annual Easter Egg Hunt & Brunch, now in its 26th year. Enjoy eggs, candy, prizes and a scrumptious seated brunch.

            April 26-29: The 23rd annual Newport Symposium, “North and South: Crosscurrents in American Material Culture,” invites a fresh look at regional differences in American furnishings, silver, textiles, painting, architecture, and interiors to reveal the complex exchange of ideas and enduring influences.

May 16: Just in time for planting your garden and sprucing up the indoors, stop by our annual Plant Sale at Green Animals Topiary Garden for specialty plants and garden accessories.

June 11:  Preservation Society members are invited to the Annual Meeting.

June 19-21: The Newport Flower Show will celebrate its 20th anniversary with the theme “American Beauty, Timeless Style” at Rosecliff.  Long before it became home to the Newport Flower Show, Rosecliff was the birthplace of the American Beauty Rose. This iconic flower, which became a symbol of excellence, is the inspiration for our 20th anniversary.  Join us to celebrate the classic and timeless style of the American Beauty. Enjoy floral designs, horticulture exhibits, garden displays and more. The exciting Opening Night Party on June 19 will feature a cocktail buffet, live music, a seaside supper and other entertaining surprises.           

            July 9:  The Angela Moore Fashion Show & Brunch returns to Rosecliff.

            July 14: The Green Animals Children’s Party invites children and adults alike to frolic in the whimsical and historic topiary garden overlooking Narragansett Bay in Portsmouth, with music, rides, food and fun.

            August 10: The Preservation Society’s annual Golf Outing  takes place at Newport National Golf Club.  The event includes tee prizes for all golfers, lunch and refreshments on the course, cocktails and a light supper after golf, awards and live and silent auctions.

August 20-23: A Weekend of Coaching makes its triennial return to Newport.  Authentic 19th century coaches drawn by matched and highly-trained teams of horses will be on display as they drive through the streets of Newport and the grounds of the Newport Mansions, celebrating and preserving a century-old sporting tradition. The weekend’s events include a free coaching exhibition on the lawn of The Elms on Saturday, August 22, and a black-tie dinner dance at The Breakers that night.

September 25-27: The Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival returns for its 10th year to Marble House, Rosecliff and The Elms. Among the celebrity guests will be Jacques and Claudine Pépin. The weekend features a two-day Grand Tasting at Marble House with hundreds of wines, cooking demonstrations from national and regional chefs, a gala celebration at Rosecliff, a collectible wine dinner at The Elms, plus seminars, auctions, and more.

November 21-January 3, 2016: Christmas at the Newport Mansions is celebrated at The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House.

Visit www.NewportMansions.org or call 401-847-1000 for details about the operating schedule,  event information and reservations, and ticket prices.  Operating schedule and events calendar are subject to change.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes and decorative arts.  Its 11 historic properties—seven of them National Historic Landmarks—span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.

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Lark Hotels to Re-open Maine’s Historic Whitehall Inn

Lark Hotels, the innovative hospitality brand renowned for its “mischief-meets-modern” inspired properties, is adding another New England gem to their growing collection of boutique hotels, with the historic Whitehall Inn in Camden, Maine.

The reinvigorated Whitehall, which originally opened its doors to vacationers in 1901, will drop the “inn” from its name and welcome guests back onto its rambling front porches in May 2015. The award-winning design firm Rachel Reider Interiors, the talent behind many of Lark Hotels’ distinctive looks, designed the 36 guest rooms and suites with Camden’s unique location in mind.

In addition to the hotel’s signature oversized porches, an outdoor lounge with a fire pit, shuffleboard court, and extensive common areas and lounging spaces, the hotel will feature a revolving collection of art by local Maine artists. All will pay homage to the motto of Camden — “where the mountains meet the sea.”It was important to incorporate Maine artists and tradespeople into the design, such as Angela Adams, Sister Parish fabric and other New England craftsmen,” Reider said. “Texture plays a large role in the look. I’ve tried to bring in the natural environment with materials such as highly textured grasscloth, weathered woods, aged metals, rope and wood textured wall coverings.”

Anchoring the property will be Pig + Poet, a restaurant whose vibe and menu will be crafted by nationally acclaimed chef Sam Talbot. A collaborative venture, Pig + Poet embraces Chef Talbot’s focus on a simpler way of cooking and celebrates thoughtful modern American food.

Focusing on Maine’s farmland, fisheries and game, the restaurant will feature a raw bar, signature roast pork dishes, Sam’s fresh take on lobster rolls, chowder and blueberry-sweet corn cobbler just to name few items. A charcuterie bar will offer sausages and cheese selections. The “poet” in the name is a nod to the chef’s role in the creative process, as well as a subtle wink to Edna St. Vincent Millay, a Pulitzer-prize winning poet who was discovered at Whitehall Inn in 1912.

“I’ve always loved the great outdoors and having a real connection to the food that comes out of my kitchen,” Chef Talbot said. “It’s become a bit of a cliche to say that my food is farm-to-fork, but that’s truly what it will be. Being in Camden is an inspiring opportunity for me to work with new local vendors, flavors and experiences. I have always been drawn to the water and waterfront towns and I’m excited to join the amazing food movement going on in the MidCoast, Portland and throughout Maine.”

Chef Talbot has worked in top NYC restaurants, and is a cookbook author and television personality. He was featured as a semi-finalist on season two of Bravo’s acclaimed series Top Chef, which included him becoming the viewers-choice “Fan Favorite” on the show. He was also featured in People Magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” issue in 2012. Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at a young age, Sam has a profound understanding and appreciation for the intimate relationship between life and food, which has served as a driving force for his cooking style and recipes, which were the main focus of his cookbook titled The Sweet Life: Diabetes Without Boundaries.

A Charlotte native, Chef Talbot began his culinary training at Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina, where he worked under acclaimed chef, owner and mentor James Burns of J.Bistro. At 24, he made the move to New York City to become Executive Chef at Black Duck Bistro in Manhattan. Two years later, he opened Williamsburg Café, which was then nominated for best brunch restaurant in Brooklyn by the New York Post. Sam is also the former Founding Executive Chef of the uber popular Surf Lodge in Montauk, NY and the Michelin-recommended Imperial No. Nine in New York City. While at the helm at the Surf Lodge, the restaurant garnered national acclaim as a premier dining destination in the Hamptons and was named one of the world’s 20 Sexiest Bars and Restaurants by The Travel Channel.

Together, Chef Talbot and Lark Hotels are thrilled to breathe new life into Whitehall by showcasing modern American cuisine at its finest and freshest.

Whitehall Inn, 52 High St., Camden, ME 04843, 207-236-3391, www.whitehallmaine.com.

Lark Hotels Expands

This year, in addition to The Whitehall Inn, Lark Hotels is also opening

Gilded, where 1890s opulence meets modern amenities, will open in Newport, Rhode Island in May 2015.

The Break, opening in New England’s long board surf capital of Narragansett, RI in June, will be the area’s first designer hotel, complete with casual beach-style bistro.

And an as-of-yet unnamed properties in Mendocino, CA; Napa, CA; and Stowe, VT

Lark Hotels are located in seven coveted New England seaside locations: Camden, ME, Whitehall; Kennebunkport, ME, Captain Fairfield Inn; Nantucket, MA, 76 Main and 21 Broad; Newport, RI, The Attwater; Portland, ME, Pomegranate Inn; Portsmouth, NH, Ale House Inn; and Narragansett, RI, The Break.

“Lark Hotels embrace the locations they are in, but in playful, unexpected ways. Think “sense of place” with imagination and a touch of mischief. Each Lark Hotel invites guests to experience modern luxury in the heart of an iconic destination, to feel the pull of a nostalgic getaway while surrounded by today’s amenities and to find attentive service when they want it and privacy when they don’t.”

For information on Lark Hotels, “On a Lark Club,” and the hotel collection visit www.larkhotels.com.

 

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Historic Hotels of Europe Adds 20 New Members

Château de Varenne, France, is one of the new members of Historic Hotels of Europe.
Château de Varenne, France, is one of the new members of Historic Hotels of Europe.

France: February 2015

Historic Hotels of Europe, a niche consortium of luxury hotels with historical significance, announced an exceptional growth in new membership for 2015, with 20 hotels joining the group. This new hotels, who hail from France, Austria, Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, Wales and Greece, from brings the total to 500 members.

Spread across the European continent from the UK to Norway, the new members have satisfied the stringent requirements of their respective national hotel groups. Ranging from historic boutique hotels in city locations to luxury estates in the country, the new members include hotels and restaurants in prime locations. Below is the list of the 20 new members per country:

●   Festningen Restaurant – Norway
●   Ghan House – Ireland
●   Restaurant Forty-One – Ireland
●   Campagne Restaurant – Ireland
●   Sea View House – Ireland
●   Thermenvilla Gutenbrunn – Austria
●   Hotel Post – Austria
●   Türmlihus B&B, Fideris – Switzerland
●   Hôtel de l’Ours Bellelay – Switzerland
●   Château de Noyelles – France
●   Château de Varenne – France
●   Domaine de Mombreux – France
●   Castel Damandre – France
●   Hostellerie de la Tour d’Auxois – France
●   Hotel Edward 1er – France
●   The Marpessa Smart Luxury Hotel – Greece
●   Cotommatae – Greece
●   The Corran Resort & Spa – Wales
●   Penally Abbey – Wales
●   Caemorgan Mansion – Wales

Established in 1997 with the objective to promote the unique cultural and historic heritage of Europe, the Historic Hotels of Europe is a gold-standard prestigious network of 500 exceptional hotels, offering guests outstanding accommodation, fine regional cuisine, and the opportunity to experience hospitality in its purest tradition. All Historic Hotels of Europe members have maintained their authenticity and sense of place creating a lasting memory of a Europe both past and present.

Visit www.historichotelsofeurope.com.

 

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Ace Holidays Announces 50% Discount on 15-Day Trek to Everest Base Camp Booked by Feb. 28

Trekking, climbing and adventure company Ace Holidays  has just announced 50 percent savings to guests who book an epic trek, a 15-day Everest Base Camp Trek by Feb. 28, 2015.
Trekking, climbing and adventure company Ace Holidays has just announced 50 percent savings to guests who book an epic trek, a 15-day Everest Base Camp Trek by Feb. 28, 2015.

KATHMANDU, Nepal,– Trekking, climbing and adventure company Ace Holidays has just announced 50 percent savings to guests who book an epic 15-day Everest Base Camp Trek by Feb. 28, 2015.

“Our rationale for offering this incredible price is to re-introduce people to Nepal after last year’s Everest issues,” said Prem K. Khatry, founder and director of Ace Holidays. He referred to the April 18, 2014, tragedy that killed 16 Nepali mountain workers. Since then the number of foreign trekkers to this part of the world has declined.

The program is, after the discount, $950 per person, double, when people book using a designated promo code: HIMALAYA. Scheduled guaranteed departures are offered weekly from February to June and September to December.

The trip begins and ends in Kathmandu. Accommodations in hotels and while on the trek in guesthouses are provided, as well as meals and guide (English speaking) services, airport transfers, porters to carry luggage on the trek and the expenses related to them, Everest National Park Permit and Tims Permit for trekking, domestic air tickets and domestic airport tax, Ace Holidays’ duffel/kit bag, sun hat, all government taxes, vat, tourist service charges.

Participants enjoy an ever-changing panorama of mountains that are beautiful, impressive and awesome, even more so as the destination comes closer. A highlight is a view of Ama Dablam, thought to be the most beautiful mountain in the world that dominates the skyline of the Chukkung Valley. Enroute guests trek through Sherpa villages enjoying the warm hospitality and service found at their guesthouses and learning about Sherpa culture, colorful “chortens” and prayer flags. When from a base camp Everest is framed, guests mark off yet another bucket list life experience.

As for the true reason for the unprecedented discount offer, Khatry explains, “The decline in visitors and engagements for mountain workers is really hurting local economies. Nepal is safe for travelers and Ace wants to bring them back to help the local economy. Generally a Sherpa (mountain worker) makes 10 times the average Nepalese income by working two months on Everest. This money is used to support his family. Without foreign climbers to support on the mountain, the alternative sources of income for these Sherpa who rely on expedition work are scarce.”

Nepalese-Owned Company

Prem K Khatry founded Ace the Himalaya in 2006 after working for many years as a freelance tour/trekking leader. Prem founded Ace to be a 100 percent locally owned, inbound ground operator in Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. As a Nepalese-owned company, Ace offers wholesale tour operators the twin benefits of affordable ground services and superior quality itineraries and travel planning services. Today, the company employs a staff of 40 and has the distinction of having served more than 2,000 trekking groups in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. The company will soon offer itineraries in northern India and Rajasthan.

Ace Holidays, a division of Ace the Himalaya, is a value-priced trek, tour, and expedition company in Nepal. Its main purpose is to reveal the highest mountains of the world, as well as, the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Ace Holidays also offers rafting, paragliding, mountain biking, bungee jumping, mountain and ultra mountain flights, jungle safaris, festival and cultural tours.

For more information and reservations contact Ace Holidays by phone (US and Canada) Toll Free: +1-877-306-0650; or by email at info@ace-holidays.com. For a full list of programs, dates, prices and itineraries log onto: www.ace-holidays.com.

 

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Self-Guided James Joyce Walking Tour Dovetails Bloomsday Festival in Dublin June 16

In conjunction with Bloomsday Festival held June 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland Walk Hike Bike offers total immersion via a week-long visitor excursion wrapped around this annual blow-out event commemorating writer James Joyce.
In conjunction with Bloomsday Festival held June 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland Walk Hike Bike offers total immersion via a week-long visitor excursion wrapped around this annual blow-out event commemorating writer James Joyce.

In conjunction with Bloomsday Festival held June 16, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland Walk Hike Bike offers total immersion via a week-long visitor excursion wrapped around this annual blow-out event commemorating writer James Joyce.

The self-guided tour immediately captivates guests on a suggested insider’s tour of the city. The events of Joyce’s novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived. The self-paced city tour allows trekkers to experience the historic festival before heading out into greater Ireland on a planned but self-guided six-day itinerary; City Trek Dublin & Wicklow 6-Day Self-Guided Hike.

The Bloomsday Festival involves a range of cultural activities including Ulysses readings, dramatizations and pub crawls. Guests often see festival goers dressing in Edwardian costume as they follow the trail of Molly Malone through Dublin’s fair city.

Later an adventure in Wicklow National Park brings guests through mountain passes and lush glacial valleys rich in archaeological treasures enroute to Glendalougha 6th century monastic settlement nestled in the valley of two lakes. The walks are up to 21km daily, but guests are fortified by full Irish breakfasts each morning in their reserved lodgings. See: http://www.southwestwalksireland.com/tours/city-trek-dublin-wicklow-8-day-self-guided-hike-2/

Travelers may choose from two excursions, depending on the desired length of trip. The shortest version is six days and requires that the visitor be able to read a map and compass. The itinerary is also available as an 8 day tour which requires more stamina and is recommended for people who are physically fit and agile. Both tours are self-guided.

This is an independent tour with guests following a pre-ordained route with detailed route descriptions and maps and evenings enjoying accommodations (with full Irish breakfasts) reserved in advance by Ireland Walk Hike Bike. Guests have the convenience of 24-hour emergency support and telephone back up. Luggage is moved ahead of the walkers to their next destination.

Travelers who cannot make the June trip dedicated to the Bloomsday Festival may schedule this outing during other times of the year. Contact Ireland Walk Hike Bike for more information on both fully-guided and self-guided trips; Phone: USA/Canada 1 720 316 5973; email: info@irelandwalkhikebike.com, website: http://www.irelandwalkhikebike.com.

 

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