Along The Travel Scene

Spring Vacations Will Be So Welcome This Year

Thursday, February 13, 2014 - by Diane Siskin

Information gathered from releases, travel and interviews

Lake Oconee, Georgia’s second largest lake, is located just a couple of hours east of Chattanooga and within a little more than an hour’s drive from downtown Atlanta.

Here is a resort community with a highly regarded identity offering many different vacation experiences.

Firstly, the entire area is focused on the majestic Lake Oconee and its numerous recreation options that enhance the community’s aesthetic appeal.

And while Reynolds Plantation, a resort with numerous places to stay, including cottages, condominiums and inn rooms, is the centerpiece of this lake community there are also many other inns and hotels now located along the lake in Greensboro, Ga.

Reynolds Plantation has facilities well suited to host anything from a family vacation getaway to an annual golf retreat to a romantic getaway for two.

At the Plantation you can rent a cottage consisting of 2,3, 4 or even 6 bedrooms as well as hotel style club rooms.

Dining in casual atmospheres is available at Great Waters Overlook Room, the Plantation Clubhouse and The Landing Clubhouse.

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation opened in 2002. This 252-room Lodge offers great dining, a 26,000-square-foot spa and its own recreational amenities. Making this destination among the “75 Best Golf Resorts North America’’ by Golf Digest.

Reynolds Plantation is now home to many year-around-residents and second-home owners.
Visitors to the Plantation are not limited to the grounds of the resort for amenities, less than a mile outside the gates are a Publix grocery store, large cinema complex, a variety of other shops, clinics, banks, pharmacies and other services.

Nearby are the charming and historic small towns like Greensboro, Madison and Washington, Georgia which provide more opportunities for sightseeing and dining.  

Property ownership is a requirement for membership at Reynolds Plantation, but you need not to be a homeowner to stay and enjoy the more than 80 miles of beautiful Lake Oconee shoreline. Lake Oconee is one of the best locations in the state for largemouth bass fishing.

The Plantation marinas offer fishing guides to help navigate the hot spots on the lake, as well as the necessary equipment for fishermen of any skill level.

Four marinas of the Plantation offer guests convenient access to boat and Jet Ski rentals and lake kayaks.

The Plantation partners with Lake Oconee Outfitters  ( for a number of recreational activities including tubing, or wake-boarding with ASWA certified instructors on competition ski boats. 

Along the shoreline of Lake Oconee areas exist for camping, picnicking and water skiing.
At the Lake Club Wellness and Tennis Center, there is tennis on soft or hard courts, aerobics classes or work out facilities.

The mission of  Reynolds is to provide a special place of  dramatic natural beauty and recreational possibilities for people to create lasting memories and cherish family connections.

The Spring/Summer season at Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee starts on March 14 and runs through November 13. Cottage/Condominium rates for a two-bedroom unit start at $472, with a five-bedroom unit starting at $784 per night. Rates do not include state and local taxes or service fees.

But, each rental includes a daily buffet breakfast at the Plantation Grille; access to Linger Longer Park and Great Waters Pool and Hot Tub; dining opportunities at the Landing and Plantation Grille Restaurants; a complete kitchen package and daily housekeeping services.

For more information or reservations, 1(800) 901-1204. Or check out the website at

Cruise Planners -A Home-Based Travel Agency Wants to Help You

Cruise Planners is the largest home-based travel agent network in the cruise industry with more than 800 franchise owners across the country that independently book cruises and associated travel.

It is a novel niche business of American Express Travel Services which was named number one Cruise Tour/Travel Agency by Entrepreneur magazine for the last nine years.

It works by positioning franchise owners for success  by providing them with innovating marketing, booking and generating tools as well as professional development and hands-on training with the industry’s top executives.

The company which is headquartered in Coral Springs, Fla., has achieved top producer status with every major cruise line and accolades include lots of awards and recognitions.

Franchise owners are said to range from construction workers to Wall Street executives with a high interest from baby boomers and stay-at-home-moms, former travel agents and cruise-lovers.

For more information and to see how-it-works check it out at
Romantic Getaway That Is Offered Throughout February

While Valentine’s Day is just around the corner the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa is offering a romantic rendezvous that can take place any time this month.

Couples can spice up romance and reconnect with each other in some of the most spacious and beautiful suites on Clearwater Beach in sunny Florida.

All of the 250 one- and two-bedroom suites feature plush Hyatt Grand Beds, fully-equipped kitchens and private Gulf view balconies or rooftop terraces with wonderful views of the beach’s world-famous sunsets.

Couples can also snuggle up together in one of 20 private, climate-controlled cabanas. These are available for full- or half-day rental. Each one of these state-of-the-art enclosures features a wet bar area, a flat-screen television, bathroom, wireless Internet and a service call button.

Additionally there are eight unique food and beverage packages as well as in-cabana massage services from the hotel’s therapists at Sandava Spa.

I stayed at this property when it opened and was truly impressed with its amenities, location and service. 

The resort’s SHOR American Seafood Grill and its spa are open to non-hotel guests.

For Valentine’s season the resort is offering a romantic candlelit dinner including champagne and free parking.

For more information or to make a reservation: or (800) 233-1234.

Hurtigruten’s MS Lofoten Celebrates 50 Years at Sea

The MS Lofoten is a 153-passenger ship which this year will celebrate completing nearly three million nautical miles; transporting 1.25 million passengers and docking more that 75,000 times.

What makes this milestone even more amazing is that most of  the sailing has taken place on the 121-year-old award-winning Classic Voyage route, between the UNESCO-listed harbor city of Bergen and the Norway/Russia border town of Kirkenes. Recognized as “The world’s most beautiful voyage,’’ the itinerary offers visitors a unique glimpse into Norwegian culture as the ship stops at 34 ports.

This vessel, the smallest and oldest of the Hurtigruten shipping line, has been classified under a preservation order since 2011 and continues to enjoy a large community of fans.

The anniversary year kicks off a series of celebratory sailings. The Hurtigruten line is a world leader in exploration travel, sailing to the most remote destinations as well as year-round along Norway’s coast.

The Hurtigruten’s fleet of modern and intimate ships, which each carries from100 to 646 guests, permits their travelers to enjoy the scenery and culture of the destination in a relaxed atmosphere.

Last week I talked with a senior citizen (while we both doing physical therapy) who was leaving the next day to fly to Norway to take a three-week cruise on one of the company’s ships. 

“What about the weather and the cold at this time of year,”” I asked. “Sure, it’s cold,’’ she answered, “but it isn’t a problem.”

She was traveling on a group tour and had made several similar trips before. Previous journeys included a voyage to see the “Northern lights.” Obviously, she enjoyed every cruise she had made with the line.

More information, itineraries, brochures and reservations can be found at Or call (800)  323-7436.

By Diane Siskin

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum Offers New Christmas Adventure

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum announced Monday that they are offering a new Christmas experience for its North Pole Limited event.    Beginning Nov. 29, customers can visit the North Pole via vintage rail cars beginning at 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.  This is the first offering of its kind in the 15 year history of North Pole Limited. "We listened ... (click for more)

Tennessee Aquarium Announces First Penguin Chick Of 2014

There’s a fluffy new face in the Tennessee Aquarium’s  Penguins’ Rock  exhibit .  Aviculturists welcomed the new chick to the colony in June. The proud parents, “Chaos” and “Merlin,” stay busy snuggling their baby in the nest and seem to enjoy showing it off to everyone. “Both parents have very laid back personalities, which is helpful when we need to do weight ... (click for more)

EPB Says It Did Not Overbill The City; Says City Got $685,877 Break

EPB officials said Tuesday that an exhaustive audit of its street light contract with the city showed that it did not overbill the city. Instead, it said it found that the city was underbilled $685,877. EPB said it only goes back one year on errors so the amount owed by the city would be $178,314. Officials said that would be discussed with the city. Stan Sewell, the city's ... (click for more)

Citizens To Comment Next Tuesday On Sound Control Ordinance That Allows Higher Sound Around Downtown Clubs

Citizens will be allowed to comment next Tuesday on a new Sound Control Ordinance that allows higher sound from nightclubs in a downtown Controlled Sound Boundary. Track 29 behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo, that has drawn the wrath of some nearby Southside residents, is within the boundary, which goes along the river on the north and west, to around Erlanger Hospital on the ... (click for more)

I'm Number One In A Round About Way

Roundabouts have been popping up all over Chattanooga over the past few years and for the most part have been successful.  Unfortunately there are some who just don’t get it as I have found out the hard way.    My latest instance was last week when a young woman on her cell phone almost t-boned me as she flew into the roundabout without yielding.  A near miss ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Judge Philyaw Is The Best

Tomorrow morning there will be a special gathering at the Hamilton County Juvenile Court that will prove to our community that we have perhaps the most innovative juvenile judge in America. Shortly after Rob Philyaw was hand-picked by our Hamilton County Commissioners to fill the remainder of Suzanne Bailey’s term 15 months ago, he found that truancy was a big problem in our schools. ... (click for more)