DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – May The Fourth – (April 2023, on Earth) –Lights, Camera, Vacation! While set-jetting may be one of the biggest trends this year, movie fans have been vacationing at The Oasis at Death Valley for decades on a quest to visit location sites “a galaxy far, far, away” from the 1977 movie Star Wars. These visits start inevitable tales of when the movie’s director came to this true American Oasis in 3.4 million square miles of desert, oasis and mountain national park to film and transport people to another galaxy.
In celebration of the epic tale and Hollywood franchise, “Star Wars,” The Oasis at Death Valley hyper-spaced an exclusive map for guests leading them to the filming locations that are easily accessible via car.
Past generations of employees have shared stories with newer generations and certainly know where the movie locations are. These include the breathtakingly and picturesque locations throughout Death Valley National Park including Dante’s View, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Desolations Canyon, Artist’s Drive and Golden Canyon – all just a quick 20-to-40-minute drive from the Resort – the only resort in Death Valley National Park.
Just two hours from Las Vegas through the desert and more than four hours from Los Angeles, the nearest town or pretty much anything is at least an hour’s drive at a high-speed limit and no traffic lights.
And if you want to explore the universe, this is the place – it’s one of the only gold-tier designated International Dark Sky Parks in the United States where stargazers can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.
While Death Valley may seem like another universe to vacationers, those in the know have also found an “oasis-like planet” that is the luxurious AAA Four-Diamond The Inn at Death Valley and the family-friendly The Ranch at Death Valley both part of the recent $150 million renaissance at the Oasis at Death Valley. Death Valley is usually sunny (there is almost no rain). There are few bugs. It’s also beautiful and the Oasis boasts massive swimming pools, gardens, golf, tennis, horseback riding, numerous restaurants, a date palm grove, a general store, post office and ample lush lawns to run and play or do just nothing but take in the stunning scenery during the day and stars at night. There is a resort, a hotel, private casitas, and 80 new cottages.
The town of Taos, New Mexico has fewer than 7,000, is a UNESCO heritage site known for its culturally significant Taos pueblos and homes. Taos also has limitless outdoor recreation opportunities for curious and adventure loving families and on Earth Day, is showcasing its eco-friendly and sustainable attractions:
UNESCO world heritage sites and art museums- From the rich Native and Spanish cultures to the characters of the Old Wild West, Taos museums can also take you on a walk-through history. Taos Pueblos are a UNESCO heritage site and a sovereign Pueblo Indian community.
Earthship Tours – See sustainable homes built with bales of straw, old tires, bottles, and cans. An earth ship is an off-the-grid and self-sufficient home that is made from primarily natural and recycled materials like earth-rammed tires, cans, and bottles.
Casa Gallina is committed to being a good steward of the environment and does so through their sustainable practices such as conserving water through drip irrigation and the usage of acequias.
Taos Goji is an eco-lodge that has a strong emphasis on the full cycle of sustainability at their onsite farm. Goji’s fruit and vegetables are pesticide free and organically cultivated. Their water comes from deep wells, fed by mountain aquifers.
Seconds EcoStore is a retail store selling stylish recycled, solar powered and green gifts, featuring lots of local design. This store has seen an unfurling of adventurous recycled redesign and an evolution of new ideas birthed from the waste stream.
Moxie is a store that supports the local economy by purchasing locally and supporting nonprofit organizations.
Taos Acequia Association is committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Taos’s traditional agricultural community by protecting water rights, preserving, and strengthening the acequia system.
Taos Earthships is an off the grid community including more than 300 acres of land using solar and wind power exclusively. Each earthship is a self-sufficient dwelling built with natural and recycled materials with energy conservation in mind and some of the homes can be rented out by the night.
The “Grandest Railway” to Grand Canyon and the “French Fry Express” (an environmentally sensitive 100-year-old steam engine still chugging)
A 150-Year-Old Narrow Gauge Railroad (small tracks and trains) that many some say is the “Holy Grail” of RR preservation
There are places in America where you can travel on a historic steam train, its engine running at speed (go fast), where you can climb America’s only accessible 14,115-foot mountain (higher than Machu Picchu), ride on a 150-year-old railroad lost in time and coming back to life in the beautiful valleys of central Pennsylvania. This is where open windows, swaying cars, sounds, smells and movement are as fun as the rides found at Coney Island. Here’s a ticket to ride this summer on four of the most interesting, unique, and even if one has small trains and tracks (but offers a mighty experience) called a narrow gauge.
A Pikes Peak Cog Railway train approaching the summit at 14,115 feet in Colorado
THE BROADMOOR MANITOU & PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY (Manitou, CO to the summit at Pikes Peak – 14,115 feet)
Climb every mountain. Well, there is only one 14-thousand-foot mountain in the US that you don’t have to climb. You can take the train. A unique train – a cog. At The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway, America’s highest railway reaches a height of 14,115 feet. This is where the words to the song “American The Beautiful” were composed. Completely rebuilt, it’s back and better than ever climbing’ up America’s Mountain. This iconic railway is one of only two cog railways in the U.S.
Originally built in 1891 and owned and operated by The Broadmoor since 1925, this historic railway is the highest railroad in America, the highest cog railway in the world, one of Colorado’s top attractions, and one of the nation’s most unique experiences.
The Railway runs every day. For information and reservations, hop onboard at www.cograilway.com
4960 pulls a train on Grand Canyon Railway
THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY (Williams, AZ on Rt. 66 to steps from South Rim, Grand Canyon)
Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon since 1901 when it was built by the legendary Atkinson, Topeka and Santa Fe (ATSF). Grand Canyon Railway runs daily from Williams, AZ on historic Rt. 66 to within steps of the Grand Canyon South Rim and El Tovar. The pristine train, comprised of railcars from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, including luxury dome cars and an open platform observation car, as well as vintage coaches with opening windows, departs at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 5:45 p.m. with a 2.5-hour layover at South Rim of Grand Canyon. The train rolls directly into Grand Canyon National Park daily, taking an estimated 70,000 cars off the road each year.
During most of the summer and into early fall, the Railway pulls the train once a month with a massive 100-year-old steam engine built in 1923 that runs on waste vegetable oil. There is no extra charge. It is believed that Grand Canyon Railway is the last standard gauge passenger railroad in the US where steam engines are still scheduled to pull revenue trains.
Save 30% on train tickets when you book in conjunction with any 1 or 2-night stay at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.
Visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724) for updated and current information on both the hotel and the train. It is now also possible to charter an entire luxury private railroad car or even an entire private train complete with chefs, bartenders, entertainers, and staff. These are ideal for “milestone” moments such as graduations, family reunions, anniversaries, weddings, birthdays. For charters call 928-635-5700 or visit www.thetrain.com/charters.
Newly restored locomotive, No. 16, pulls into the historic Orbisonia Station
The East Broad Top Railroad (Orbisonia, Central Pennsylvania) A 150-year old, and the only narrow-gauge railway East of the Mississippi, is an American treasure. This is one of the true treasures of American railroading. And while you can simply enjoy a scenic train ride, it is far more of an experience…allowing visitors to immerse themselves in a National Historic Landmark that is almost completely frozen in time.
The railroad is considered by the Smithsonian to be one of the best-preserved examples of 19th century American narrow gauge railroads (the rails less than 4 feet apart so the trains, and everything is smaller than “standard” railroads) and industrial complexes in the country.
The East Broad Top Railroad (EBT) located in Orbisonia, PA is nestled in the rolling hills and farmlands in the central part of the state. The EBT will start running again in May, with a recently restored steam engine that sat dormant for nearly 70 years, pulling one-hour train rides with space available in comfortable enclosed passenger cars, open air cars, or even a vintage caboose. Trains run on a nine-mile round-trip ride from the historic station in Orbisonia to a picturesque picnic grove and back through a classically beautiful Pennsylvania valley, nearly untouched by the rushing, modern and worried world.
Prices begin at $20 for adults and $18 for children. Guided tours of the railroad’s remarkably intact late 19th/early 20th century machine shop complex are also available every day that trains operate. Reservations are strongly suggested as the renaissance of this railroad is drawing national and international attention. For information and reservations visit www.eastbroadtop.com or call 814-447-3285.
A rafting adventure through Desolation Canyon is ideal for families with children as young as 5. Western River Expeditions offers weekly departures June through August.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Ranked one of the “The 25 Best New Trips” in the World by National Geographic Adventure and one of the “Best Whitewater Rafting Trips in America” by Outside Magazine, a 5-day rafting journey down this legendary canyon with Western River Expeditions in 2023 is something to seriously consider.
And this may be the year to do it. The snowpack covering the watersheds of the Green and Colorado rivers is 143.59% of the historic March 28th average. The best it has been in over ten years.
Whether a seasoned rafter or a first-timer, this 84-mile stretch of the Green River provides an unforgettable journey through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the American West. Here are 11 fun facts about Utah’s Desolation Canyon.
Utah’s Desolation Canyon, carved over millennia by the 730-mile Green River (spawned by glacial melts on the Continental Divide in the wilds of northern Wyoming), was traversed first in its entirety by the Smithsonian Institution that sent Major John Wesley Powell in 1869 to explore the canyon.
Nearly 100 years later, Desolation Canyon, one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states, was named a National Historic Landmark in 1968 as part of the centennial celebration of the Powell expedition. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
Desolation Canyon and the surrounds of its accompanying Green River compose one of the most remote (no roads, towns, cell service) destinations in the continental United States.
At 290,845 acres, the Desolation Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is the largest WSA managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the contiguous 48 states.
At its deepest point, a relief of over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) exists from river level to the unseen rim of the Tavaputs Plateau. This display is a result of Nature’s handiwork over 40 million years.
The entire eastern side of the river and canyon (river left on descent) sits entirely on Ute Tribal Lands of the Unita-Ouray Reservation, the second largest Indian Reservation in the U.S.
There are around 75 discovered archaeological sites throughout the canyon. Fremont (people foraged and planted corn here from the 7th to the 13th centuries) and Ute pictographs and petroglyphs are abundant.
Fremont granaries, as well as several abandoned homesteaders’ ranches, testify to the agricultural potential of riparian alluvial fan landforms sited between steep slopes and valleys. The landforms are larger in Desolation Canyon than in any other canyon of the Colorado – Green River system.
Over 60 named class two and three rapids challenge boaters. The gradual increase in size and difficulty of rapids make it an ideal place for beginner to intermediate boaters to develop their skills.
Elk were transplanted into the area in 1988. Today, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep frequent the WSA. Other inhabitants are cougar, black bear, mule deer, endangered bald eagle, and peregrine falcon.
David McPherson started ranching with his family up Florence Creek in 1889. The McPherson homestead sat right along the path of the Outlaw Trail, used by the infamous robbers Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. Cassidy, George “Flat-Nose” Curry, Ben Morrison and Josie Bassett all spent time in the canyon hiding from the law.
A rafting adventure through Desolation Canyon is ideal for families with children as young as 5. There are weekly departures June through August, with availability on many 2023 dates. A 5-day/4-night adventure begins and ends in Moab, Utah, and includes a scenic flight that lands atop a dramatic desert plateau where the group begins a short descent on foot to the river put-in. The per person rate for adults (age 16 and up) is from $1,955 and for youth (age 5-15) from $1,255. For details see https://www.westernriver.com/desolation-canyon
Guests may choose to paddle themselves in two-person, inflatable kayaks or to relax in a guide-powered oar boat. They enjoy deluxe camping on broad, sandy beaches along the river bank after savoring delicious meals prepared by trained guides. Whether on the river, enjoying a hike, or chatting by the campfire, the absence of digital access to the outside world mandates that attentions focus on what’s real and natural. It’s a time to disconnect from the chaos of daily life and reconnect with what matters most.
For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2023 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669) or visit the website at: 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/).
Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the “Best of State” award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for the past nineteen consecutive years (2004-2022).
A sweet secret is out in the Adirondack region of upstate New York, as regional maple syrup producers begin their annual sap collection and maple syrup production activity. New York State is the second-largest producer of maple syrup in the United States and the third largest in the world, producing more than 820,000 gallons of syrup each year. Much of that production takes place within the Adirondack region of upstate New York in small “sugar shacks” and large commercial facilities.
Sugar maple trees are tapped from February through early April to harvest syrup, and the familiar sight of metal buckets, or “sap buckets”, can be seen in maple groves and areas across the region. As a result, there are hundreds of types of syrups, foods, beverages, candies, cocktails and experiences that showcase local Adirondacks maple. And once you are in the Adirondacks can learn all about the difference between maple sugar candy, maple sugar blocks, granulated maple sugar, maple butter and maple extract.
Throughout the month of March each year, and, in particular, during the weekends of March 18-19 and 25-26, maple farms across the state open their doors to the public to provide a chance to taste pure maple syrup, right from the source, and experience the unique family tradition of making maple syrup in New York State. Producers, including many of those that are NYS Grown & Certified, offer tours and pancake breakfasts, sell maple products, and demonstrate the syrup-making process, which includes the traditional system of hanging buckets on trees or more modern methods of production using vacuum systems to increase the yield of sap per tree. Maple Weekends in 2023 will take place at nearly 150 maple sugarmakers’ farms, boosting agri-tourism across New York State. A searchable list of Maple Weekend events is available at https://mapleweekend.nysmaple.com/.
More than 80 maple producers participate in NYS Grown & Certified, which verifies New York’s agricultural producers and growers who adhere to food safety and environmental sustainability standards. Find a current list of maple producers who are a part of the NYS Grown & Certified program at https://certified.ny.gov/wheretobuy.
New York’s Taste NY Markets across the state are highlighting unique local maple products and producers during the month of March. Several markets are offering specials, including 10% off all maple items at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center, special product sampling at the Capital Region Welcome Center and Western New York Welcome Center, and more. Find a list of markets near you at taste.ny.gov. New Yorkers can also shop for New York State maple from the comfort of home on ShopTasteNY.com, which will be offering specials and free shipping on maple products throughout the month. Additionally, Taste NY Markets will be celebrating ‘Maple Madness’ during the weekend of March 25-26. Stay tuned on social media for more information about special sampling and giveaway promotions that weekend.
Tasting and Feeling is Believing…Beyond Syrup!
Maple syrup traditionally accompanies a variety of breakfast foods but, in the Adirondacks, it is also used to flavor candy, foods, beverages and cocktails. And, there are numerous tours and hands-on experiences that showcase this Adirondack pantry staple. Some locally produced products and include:
Maple is used for a variety of products that can be purchased throughout the Adirondacks, at main street shops and local farmers markets including: cotton candy, hard candies, maple butter, donuts, infused syrups, sauces and jellies.
Maple beer: Craft beers featuring local maple are found across the Adirondacks. Big Slide Brewery’s maple bourbon imperial stout is hyper-local, aged in a barrel previously used for locally produced maple syrup.
Many Adirondack-region restaurants have “maple glazed” items on the menu: salmon, pork, chicken, vegetables and more. Chef Mike Rush at Campfire Grill in Saranac Lake is renowned for obtaining kegs of maple syrup for use throughout the year.
While dining out, keep an eye out for barbeque sauces, as many restaurants incorporate maple syrup into their homemade sauce.
Maple isn’t just for tasting. For example, the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid offers the Adirondack Maple Sugar Body Scrub, a maple-based spa treatment that exfoliates and rejuvenates the skin.
Maple Mania: Local Activities and Production
Looking to explore lots of maple? Especially during harvesting season, maple is everywhere:
The Adirondacks Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, based in Lake Placid, offers a Maple Wayfinder Trail that lists local producers and points of interest.
The Adirondack Harvest website lists local producers and distributors, along with maple-themed events throughout the region.
Visitors can purchase locally produced maple syrup and products at roadside stands, at retail locations throughout the Adirondacks and at the production facilities themselves as many have retail shops adjacent to their collection and evaporation sites.
Sip Your Syrup: Margarita Recipe
Local bartenders often create delicious cocktails with maple, including this recipe for a maple margarita created by Carolyn Sicher, co-owner of the Deer’s Head Inn, Elizabethtown, NY.
Rub a freshly cut lime wedge around the rim of the glass and coat the rim by placing it upside down in a dish of tajin spice blend. Fill the glass with fresh ice.
Mix the following ingredients together in a shaker with ice cubes and strain into the glass: 1.5 oz good quality tequila, .5 oz mandarin liqueur, .5 oz fresh lime juice, .5 oz fresh lemon juice, .5 oz maple lemonade (traditional lemonade with some maple as extra sweetener) and add a tablespoon of local maple syrup.
Drizzle the top with about a tablespoon of pure Adirondack maple syrup. Garnish with lime.
Behind the Maple Magic: How It Works
Maple syrup is typically produced from February through early April in the Northeast. Sugar maple trees move sugary water (sap) through their trunks in late winter and sap can be collected through holes in the trees when there are cold nights and warm days; below 32°F at night and above 40°F during the day. This watery sap is then boiled until it becomes thick.
Small backyard, local producers simply collect sap from trees in their backyard in metal buckets and boil it over wood-fired stoves to produce syrup for friends and family. Commercial producers have thousands of acres of trees along with miles of gravity-fed rubber tubes that collect the sap, producing thousands of gallons of syrup for sale throughout the region and across the country. Boiling sap and allowing the excess water to evaporate is the most important part of the production process, as the quality of the syrup is determined by the amount of sugar in the final product. After boiling, the syrup is filtered, assigned a grade, and packaged.
The Cornell Maple Program conducts research and uses its outdoor laboratory – the 200-acre Uihlien Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid (one of only three research forests in the nation) – to learn about maple production, forest management and production techniques. It partners with food scientists and culinary experts to develop new products, offer classes, share research findings with maple producers and scientists throughout the state.
According to Adam Wild, director of the Uihlien Maple Research Forest, maple syrup production has always been a part of life in the Adirondacks. “The heavily forested Adirondack region, with its large percentage of maple trees combined with the ideal Adirondack climate of long cold winters punctuated with gradual warming at the end of the winter season make this area one of the best in the entire nation for maple syrup production.” he said.
Maple syrup production in the Adirondacks is a time-honored tradition, as old as the maple trees themselves. The research, consumer interest and local production ensure that upstate New York remains one of the largest producers of maple syrup and all its affiliated products.
Where to stay? High Peaks Resort’s Spring Sale includes a $25 dining credit at Dancing Bears Restaurant, perfect for some maple pancakes!
Go to www.adirondacksusa.com to find out more about visiting the Adirondacks in winter, spring, summer and fall. The destination is just a few hours’ drive from the New York metro area and Boston, and within a day’s drive for 25% of the entire North American population.
The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) in the Adirondacks region of New York is the destination marketing and management organization for Hamilton and Essex counties, along with the communities of Lake Placid, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake.
City Winery has chosen the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) as one of three organizations it is supporting during Women’s History Month this year. City Winery is a performance venue, restaurant, and winery, with branches in cities across the country.
Throughout March, City Winery will host its inaugural “Fierce Light” initiative, honoring women and gender justice. It will donate a portion of proceeds from ticket sales and online wine purchases to WRC (womensrefugeecommission.org) and two other organizations, Sister Song and Sister Reach.
If you live in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia, or Hudson Valley (Montgomery, NY), you can support WRC by attending shows at your local City Winery. Shows will feature an eclectic mix of musicians and women thought leaders.
If you can’t attend a show, you can still support the organizations by buying a limited edition, custom-labeled wine online.
MADRID — Tennis star Rafael Nadal and Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of Meliá Hotels International, came together in Madrid to introduce their collaboration on a new lifestyle hotel brand ZEL.
ZEL is a new brand of resort and urban leisure hotels that will first begin to operate in Spain, and then later in key destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America.
The joint venture between these two global brands from Mallorca aims to achieve consistent international growth and capitalize on its hallmark Mediterranean character. The brand will also have a range of different strategic partners in its international growth in areas such as dining, decoration, wellbeing and technology
“The result of combining the inspirational leadership of Rafa Nadal and the international experience of more than 65 years of Meliá in creating luxury hotels and in hotel management, is the unique brand we present today, which travellers are going to love and which will surprise the new generations,” said Melia Hotels International CEO Gabriel Escarrer,. An innovative hotel brand, full of energy, with a new interpretation of well-being and a sustainable business model. We are happy to finally be able to announce our partnership in this project with an icon on both a personal and sporting level such as Rafa.”
“As a Spaniard, a Mallorcan and a global traveler, the launch of our hotel brand is a project that I have had in mind for a long while,” said Rafael Nadal. “ZEL is synonymous with feeling good at all times, enjoying life and the way we live it throughout the Mediterranean. I was really attracted from the start to this new concept we have been working on with Meliá. I’m confident that ZEL will be a great success and will achieve considerable growth and be enjoyed by all of those travellers who stay in the hotels, which in the end is the reason we are creating it.”
The growth plan foresees the addition of more than 20 hotels in 5 years, focusing on destinations that attract premium-quality leisure travellers, and on “bleisure” hotels in the key regions in which Meliá Hotels International operates in Europe, America, the Middle East and Asia. In a first stage, the brand aims to grow in destinations on the Mediterranean coast and in capital cities such as Madrid, Paris and London, but the first ZEL hotel will open in Mallorca in 2023.
ZEL: a celebration of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
The project is based on the positioning of both brands as ambassadors of Mediterranean values and lifestyle: a passion for the outdoors, delicious cuisine, a focus on architecture and design to provide spacious and bright spaces, with the priority being a connection with nature, the sky and the sea. ZEL hotel guests will be able to take care of both body and soul through wellbeing experiences that they will be able to organise as they wish, with both personal and group activities for physical exercise and fitness.
ZEL offers an inspiring new home-away-from-home experience that evokes the Mediterranean way of life, with a courtyard at the heart of the hotel which acts as a focus for the flow and connection. The patio is an architectural feature that is prominent throughout the Mediterranean, and will lead to other spaces such as terraces, rooftop areas or beach clubs that will be the venues for life in the open air, and where guests can admire panoramic views of stunning beauty. All this combined with an organic atmosphere and an informal design, local cuisine, natural wellbeing and unexpected and vibrant shared experiences. ZEL guests will also have access to a digital community where they can share their experiences and continue enjoying the lifestyle once their stay is over.
One of their many highlights will be the encouragement of social encounters, interactions and experiences through a range of “pop-up corners” dedicated to handicrafts, beauty or product tastings with partner brands.
Founded in 1956 in Mallorca (Spain), Meliá Hotels International has a portfolio of more than 400 hotels (portfolio and pipeline), throughout more than 40 countries, and 10 brands: Gran Meliá Hotels & Resorts, ME by Meliá, The Meliá Collection, Paradisus by Meliá, Meliá Hotels & Resorts, ZEL, INNSiDE by Meliá, Falcon’s Resorts by Meliá, Sol by Meliá and Affiliated by Meliá. The Group is one of the leading companies in resort hotels worldwide, while also leveraging its experience to consolidate the growing segment of the leisure-inspired urban market. Its commitment to responsible tourism has led the Group to become the most sustainable hotel company in Spain and Europe, according to the last S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment (Silver Class 2022). Meliá Hotels International is also included in the IBEX 35 Spanish stock market. For more information, visit www.meliahotelsinternational.com
This week, New York State’s Olympic facilities at Lake Placid are hosting the FISU World University Games, welcoming 1,443 collegiate-athletes plus coaches and fans from more than 540 universities and 46 nations.
The Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games, going on until January 22, feature competition in 12 winter sports and 85 events including skiing and snowboarding, curling, figure skating, ice hockey and speed skating in venues throughout the Adirondack North Country in Lake Placid as well as Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Potsdam, Canton and North Creek. (The competition schedule and tickets to the events are available here.)
The prestigious event is an opportunity to showcase for the world the state’s world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) facilities, enhanced with a six-year, $552 million investment to help maintain the region’s standing as a world-class winter sport destination fitting for an Olympic-sized event, for the lasting benefit of New York’s $16.1 billion winter tourism industry.
“We made transformative investments to renovate the Lake Placid Olympic Center, revitalized our airports, improved our roads and bridges and grew our regional sports infrastructure to ensure that Lake Placid is well-positioned to host the games,” Governor Kathy Hochul said when she opened the games.
“The event will once again put Lake Placid on a global stage, drawing thousands of visitors to the region and inviting millions more to watch the games via ESPN in the United States, TSN in Canada and FISU TV. For many, it will be the first time they’ll see the bold and picturesque Adirondack Mountains, vibrant downtown Lake Placid and our world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority ski areas and venues. And these games offer a chance to showcase the New York’s thriving winter tourism industry.”
Special events like the games that spark additional travel generate even more spending in our restaurants, hotels and businesses, supporting jobs in a hospitality industry still rebuilding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. State-supported ORDA venues are open year-round for events, athlete training and recreation. Once the World University Games have finished, these same facilities will host this winter season the World Cup in Ski Jumping, NCAA Alpine and Cross-Country Skiing Championships, Synchronized Figure Skating World Championships. The Bobsled Skeleton World Championships will follow in February 2025, and IBU Biathlon Cups are planned in February and March 2026.
Last winter, New York welcomed 68.5 million visitors, generating more than $16.1 billion in direct visitor spending. ORDA’s economic impact for New York State was last measured at $273.6 million for 2019-2020, a 75 percent increase over the previous 2016-2017 measurement of $156 million.
New York State has made significant investments in the North Country totaling $552 million over the last six years in preparation for the World University Games, and ongoing support for the competitive sports infrastructure and regional tourism. Investments have helped to renovate facilities owned and operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, such as the $104 million renovation of the Lake Placid Olympic Center, and other host facilities like the nearly $7 million overhaul of the Saranac Lake Civic Center.
The improvements are a legacy that will be enjoyed by New York’s skiers and winter visitors for years to come.
ORDA has been steadily improving the snowmaking infrastructure throughout its ski areas, particularly over the last ten years. These upgrades have increased the efficiency of snowmaking operations, allowing for the mountains to open terrain faster, and earlier in the season when temperatures allow. The modernized systems, which utilize energy more effectively, also are a key part of ORDA’s award-winning sustainability initiatives: solar energy at the alpine venues, state of the art snowmaking equipment that significantly reduces water and energy use, EV charging stations, e-zambonis and hybrid grooming equipment, LED lighting.
Indeed, in conjunction with the FISU Games, a World Conference was convened to share information about the initiatives and actions they have implemented to mitigate climate change and save winter from global warming. From venue design and infrastructure to sustainably sourced items to the LED torch and flameless cauldron, the Host Partners and New York State set a new standard for a commitment to the environment for future events.
Improved Winter Facilities at ORDA Venues
This winter, New Yorkers and the rest of the world will enjoy upgrades, renovations, snowmaking improvements to Olympic Regional Development Authority-operated ski venues: Gore Mountain in North Creek, Belleayre Mount in Highmount, Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, and Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid.
Gore Mountain: New this season is Backwoods, an intermediate trail that begins at the top of Burnt Ridge Mountain and parallels the Barkeater Glades. The trail ends uphill of Roaring Brook Bridge and provides faster and more direct access to Little Gore Mountain and the North Creek Ski Bowl. Over 230 new high-efficiency snow guns have been installed on Backwoods, Showcase, Uncas, Paradox, Peaceful Valley, and Chatiemac. For the FISU Games, crews developed the sanctioned slopestyle and boardercross courses, enhanced snowmaking and widened the terrain. The FIS-certified race trail, Echo, was also bolstered with increased snowmaking capacity to accommodate the venue’s busy calendar of alpine events and recreational skiers and riders throughout the season. (goremountain.com, Gore Mountain Snow Report)
Whiteface Mountain: New this season is the Ausable Run, a beginner trail off the Warhorse Quad lift, and Yellow Dot, an expert trail connecting the top of Victoria to Lower Skyward. Whiteface installed 35,000 feet of new pipe, 160 high-efficiency snow guns, and 245 new hydrants. Additionally, two new Pisten Bully groomers join the fleet. After hosting Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games alpine competitions, Whiteface will host the NCAA Regionals and National Championship in Alpine, the Empire State Games and other regional races. The mountain will be open to the public during the event dates for skiing and riding, and spectators can view the events in the newly designed Andrew Weibrecht Finish Area. Additional improvements to the race area include enhancements to the Freeway lift, timing and radio systems, and power to the finish building. (whiteface.com, Whiteface Mountain Snow Report)
Belleayre Mountain installed 60,000 additional feet of new pipe, a new snowmaking pump, and added 300 high-efficiency snow guns. A new retail space relocated upstairs on the main floor of Discovery Lodge provides guests with a renewed shopping experience with a view. (belleayre.com, Belleayre Mountain Snow Report.
Mt. Van Hoevenberg: The Mt Van Hoevenberg transformation was completed in 2020, providing a world-class facility and 5 km of World Championship-rated cross-country skiing trails for training and racing. The trails carry tremendous snowmaking power, from the number of high-efficiency snow guns and hydrants to its reservoir capacity, providing state-of-the-art snowmaking for a Nordic Center. Thanks to the state’s investment ORDA will host multiple World Cup competitions. Recently, Mt Van Hoevenberg was awarded the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Cup for 2026. This is in addition to the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup in Bobsled and Skeleton taking place at the Mt Van Hoevenberg Sliding Center December 16-18, and at its sister venue, the Olympic Jumping Complex, the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup will return this winter, February 10-12, 2023. For non-competitive athletes, Mt. Van hoevenberg offers some of the most exciting opportunities to feel like an Olympian: a state-of-the-art combined skeleton and bobsled track and North America’s longest mountain coaster, The Cliffside Coaster. 50km of cross country skiing trails, you can even try your hand at the biathalon. There is also a new Mountain Pass Lodge. (mtvanhoevenberg.com, Mt Van Hoevenberg Snow Report)
The SKI3 Season Pass provides the greatest flexibility and savings for skiing and riding at Whiteface, Belleayre, and Gore. Single day tickets are also at the lowest prices of the season and should be purchased in advance to secure desired days this winter.
“Winter is always an amazing time to travel in New York, which has more ski areas than any other state in the nation,” said Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi. “ORDA’s world class ski facilities, along with scores of private ski areas across the state, make for an unparalleled ski experience. When paired with activities from snowmobiling and winter carnivals to ice wine tastings and spa getaways to the FISU World University Games, visitors can come be a part of the ultimate winter wonderland and find what they love in New York State.”
Information on skiing and other winter activities statewide is available at iloveny.com/winter and iskiny.com. Updated downhill and cross-country ski reports for all of New York State courtesy of Ski NY and Cross-Country Ski Areas of NY are available on 1-800-ILOVENY and linked on iloveny.com.
If 2022 was the year of returning to travel, 2023 is the year of making those travel plans count.
To that end, London-based GeoCultura LTD is launching 19 tour departures in 2023 that will take curious and inquiring travelers to key destinations with spectacular cultural and geologic histories in small groups led by scientists and scholars in the fields of geology and history. Travel that counts is travel that adds wisdom and experience to those who venture, and brings that much more understanding about the world we inhabit.
Itineraries take travelers through the deserts, prairies and forests of North America, to the rocky crags of Scotland, and to the hidden highlights of Southern England. Consider a tour that moves beyond the bounds of Outlander to revisit the amazing history and conflicts that shaped the DNA of the North West Scottish Highlands. The Highlands scenery provides a dramatic background for groups of 12 to 14 people to visit seminal sights in Scottish history and learn how geology influenced battles, castles and wars.
Or it may be travel that is focused on the influences at play in the shaping of what is now the United States. For instance, a GeoCultura tour that runs from Philadelphia, PA to western Massachusetts looks at American Revolutionary War locales where geology played a role in the outcome of events. Places such as Independence Hall, Valley Forge, the two Washington Crossings, the Dey Mansion, the Great Falls at Paterson, the Hamilton/Burr dueling grounds and the route of Cornwallis’s pursuit of Washington up the Palisades are in focus with stories and context offered by respected authors and experts in Revolutionary War history.
But the tides of history are also the stuff of art and culture. The geological and historical elements that played upon the land also influenced artists, especially the Hudson River School’s Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, and later Edward Hopper – all covered with visits to homes and museums on this tour.
A particularly poignant and timely journey for 2023 happens in May as the world witnesses the first coronation of a British sovereign in more than 70 years. “London, Stonehenge, Bath, and the Jurassic Coast: A geo-culture tour of Southern England begins just after King Charles III is crowned, travels to amazing English locations and returns to London. The tour links Victorian and Georgian history with the pre-history and landscapes of Southern England: Stonehenge, the Georgian splendor of Bath and the delights of such Jurassic Coast sites as Lulworth Cove and Chesil Beach. Guests immerse themselves in the rolling landscapes of Thomas Hardy’s novels while going on fossil hunts, visiting cathedrals and castles, and taking in the magical waters of Bath.
Then, there is the rich geology, culture and gastronomy of the Catalan Pyrenees that is explored through the presence of salt throughout and under the rolling terrain. Salt became a commodity of trade and prosperity and influenced culture throughout this eastern Spanish enclave – all expressed in the arts, architecture, cuisines, migrations and conflicts that shaped these ancient lands. It’s all wrapped into stunning stories told by connoisseurs of the culture in tours that run from Barcelona to Girona in Spain.
GeoCultura tours range from three nights and four days to eight nights and nine days, and every tour is steeped in eye-opening tales that show how the earth, the land, the people and the pervading influences of various eras connected to bring us to where we are today.
“The first germ of an idea for GeoCultura started when a group of friends got together to plan a trip. We wanted something that allowed us to visit spectacular landscapes and rocks while also enjoying the best the region had to offer. And GeoCultura was born,” said Rob Knipe, Chairperson at GeoCultura.
Tour managers work hand in hand with regional focus experts to assure that while groups and individuals are being looked after with care, no topic goes unexplained, no question goes unanswered. Thus, illuminating and often sea-changing experiences offer guests wisdom and understanding that lingers well beyond the bounds of the tour. GeoCultura tours bring a robust roster of science experts to the planning and execution of each tour, maintaining an “earth-first” focus for every itinerary to reveal how landscapes and “deep time” geology continue to shape the history and culture of our planet.
Tours start at around $2,000 per person (double), including meals, fees and transportation. A modicum of fitness is required, although walking distances are reasonable and terrains are clear and well maintained. A reading list for each tour is available for those whose interests extend beyond a surface glint. Accommodations are chosen for their historic significance or qualities that complement tour themes.
GeoCultura is an international tour company founded in 2020 to bring in a focused history of the earth and its geology as a starting point for travelers to fully understand the breadth and evolution of a destination’s past and present. The company was founded by and tours are guided by esteemed scientists in their field — fellows, academicians and board members of prestigious universities in the U.K, U.S. and Canada. GeoCultura offers four- to nine-night tours in Canada, the U.S., Greece, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and Caribbean.
The founders include:
Rob Knipe, an Emeritus Professor of Structural Geology at the University of Leeds, and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, Knipe has won prestigious awards from the Geological Society. His work has included four decades of research in the geology of the Scottish Highlands. Currently, he is focused on global Energy Transition, and works with local and national groups promoting changes towards a carbon neutral society.
Neil Harbury, a former senior lecturer at University of London and founder of Nautilus, a premier geological training organization working with over 80 companies world-wide, Harbury’s ongoing area of passion remains creating and leading geoscience tours.
Mark Hammond a visiting professor at Canterbury Christchurch University and a visiting Fellow at the University of Bath, Hammond was Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission for 5 years. He has an MA in history from Cambridge University and an honorary doctorate from Canterbury, and served as a diplomat in the British Embassy in Washington D.C., helping to negotiate the Climate Change policy.
BOSTON — Optimism is the keyword for the 2023 travel landscape as travelers embrace more distant experiences compared to 2022. Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.), the leader in personalized small group and solo travel for Americans ages 50 and older, announced its top 4 travel trends for 2023.
“Travelers are showing a high level enthusiasm for life-changing adventures far from home, often on their own,” said Brian FitzGerald, Chief Executive Officer of O.A.T. “It’s a genuine priority for travelers to connect and engage with people from other cultures, and to find ways to give back to communities they visit.”
O.A.T. Top 4 Travel Themes for 2023:
1. Africa – Travel to Africa is seeing a resurgence. Botswana, Morocco, and Egypt top the list of popular 2023 trips at O.A.T. In 2022, travelers were more focused on Europe.
People who dream of visiting Africa — whether on safari on floating down the Nile — continue to make up for time lost due to the pandemic. These motivated travelers don’t want to put off visiting the continent any longer, and their sights are set on 2023.
2. Solos going strong – Women over 50, in particular, are heading out to see the world on their own. According to O.A.T., the number of solo travelers reserving for 2023 is up 24% compared to 2019. Overall, more than 60% of O.A.T. travelers are solos, and the majority are women.
“As a single traveler, you’re driving everything,” said O.A.T. solo traveler Muriel Forster. “That just gives you a great deal of flexibility. I overheard someone say, ‘a once in a lifetime experience.’ I thought, ‘I don’t want this to be once in a lifetime – I want this to be my lifetime!”
Solo travelers are drawn to trips with no single supplement, which can be hundreds or thousands of dollars. O.A.T. offers free single supplements on 92% of its single spaces in 2023.
3. Personalized travel – Travelers want the benefits of expert-led small group tours, but increasingly crave more than a one-size-fits all experience. 2023 will bring continued traveler demand to tailor trips with one’s individual preferences. For example, many travelers prefer to arrive early at a destination before a tour starts so they feel acclimated.
At O.A.T., 87% of travelers personalize their trips by arriving early, staying later, adding a stopover at a popular international city, or combining trips. By comparison, just 75% requested personalization in 2018.
4. Regenerative travel – The idea that tourism should leave a destination better than it was before is gaining ground globally. In a nutshell, regenerative travel improves local economies while preserving local cultures and biodiversity. It benefits local people and allows destinations to improve, all while providing authentic experiences to travelers.
O.A.T., through its Grand Circle Foundation, supports projects focused on water, conservation, and renewable energy in the areas to which the company travels. The Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (W.A.S.H.) initiative helps improve the well-being of local people. Access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and proper hygiene education reduces illness and death, and increases socio-economic development leading to a reduction in poverty. The Foundation supports alternative energy sources to reduce carbon emissions and dependency on fossil fuels. Some schools add solar panels as an alternate source of electricity and to reduce operating expenses. Solar lights from the Foundation replace kerosene, reducing illness from soot and smoke and enabling students to study at night, leading to a better education.
O.A.T. provides travelers over 50 with impactful, intercultural experiences that help change people’s lives. O.A.T. fosters an intimate and accessible experience, with groups limited to 16 travelers (average of 13) by land and 25 (average of 22) by sea.
Established in 1978, Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) is part of Boston-based Grand Circle Corporation’s family of travel companies, which also include Grand Circle Cruise Line and Grand Circle Travel. In 1992, owners Alan and Harriet Lewis established the nonprofit Grand Circle Foundation to support communities in which Grand Circle works and travels, including some 300 humanitarian, cultural, and educational endeavors worldwide—among them, 100 schools, in 50 countries. The Foundation is an entity of the Alnoba Lewis Family Foundation, which has pledged or donated more than $250 million since 1981.