Along The Travel Scene

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - by Diane Siskin

Information gathered from interviews, visits and releases

Puerto Rico’s Royal Isabela Named a Top Luxury Hotel

The Royal Isabela a world-class golf and private membership club perched on the breathtaking coastline of northwest Puerto Rico was named the fourth best among the “Top 25 Luxury Hotels in the Caribbean” for 2014 by TripAdvisor.

The property was singled out as a “beautiful honeymoon destination and a beautiful getaway resort, especially if you love golf.

Last fall, the Royal Isabela was named “Puerto Rico’s Leading Golf Resort” at the World Travel Awards Caribbean and North American Gala.

All these accolades are for 20 artistically designed one-bedroom casitas, each with an expansive indoor and outdoor space, as well as private pools, ocean views and easy access to the resort’s many amenities.

The resort’s golf course, called Golf Links at Royal Isabela, sprawls across acres of native grasses, natural sand dunes and craggy cliffs that soar 300 feet above the Caribbean Sea.
For more information, you can contact Royal Isabela toll free at 855-609-5888. Or visit the website at www.royalisabela.com

At Hawks Cay Resort You Can Swim with Dolphins

Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key in the Florida Keys is a premier destination for outdoor fun. The onsite Dolphin Connection is the only resort-based program of its kind where guests can interact and swim with dolphins in their natural environment and it is the only facility in the mainland U.S. that offers free public viewing of trained dolphins.

Along side the emerald water of the Atlantic Ocean, resort guests can enjoy offshore flats and backcountry fishing; diving; kayaking; kite boarding and standup paddle boarding programs.

There is also a Cliff Drysdale tennis program, and Segway tours.

Home to NBC Sports “The Saltwater Experience”, Hawks Cay is an ideal destination for anglers of any skill level.

The 60-acre resort boasts 177 guestrooms and 225 two- and three-bedroom villas, a full service marina, five signature restaurants, saltwater lagoon, five swimming pools, kid and teen clubs and the award-winning Calm Waters Spa.

The resort has also been rated by brides and voted The Knot Best of Weddings 2012 Pick.
For more information you can visit the website: www.hawkscay.com

Among These Guided Tours of the Timeless English Cotswold’s There Is a Surprise

“Charming Cotswold’s” is one of English Lakeland Ramblers specialized walking tours of England, Scotland and Wales.

This organization has offered tours for more than 25 years with licensed specialists in each region, who are well-versed in the history and lore of their specific territory.

The Ramblers plan for 5 to 10 miles daily, with modest elevation changes, switching seamlessly from sheep meadows and beech forests to fairytale, honey-colored villages. They also take time to slip into Ye Olde English tearoom for a “cuppa’’ or time to admire the old churchyards and traditional flower-draped English gardens.

The Charming Cotswold’s is one of Ramblers’ single-base, 7-day tours where guests check in for six nights, explore the surrounding countryside by day then put their feet up in the same comfy room close to Chipping Campden and within striking distance of Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Shipston-on-the-Stour.

The manor is centuries-old but it’s now fitted out with contemporary perks like an indoor pool, gym, tennis court and a garden spacious enough for pre-breakfast strolls to loosen up the hiking muscles.

The departure dates for these trips are July 20 and September 14 and prices begin at $3,175 per person, double occupancy.

Now the agency has added a surprise winner to its menu of tours: a week of walks that combines those idyllic Cotswold’s landscapes with the city vibe and vitality of London.

“Let’s face it: the British capital is a great walkabout destination in its own right,” said Ramblers CEO Jeff Kendrick.

London and The Cotswold’s” begin with four nights at the Charingworth Manor Hotel and ends with three nights in a luxury city hotel. The adventure ends with a boat trip upstream on the Thames, from the Tower to Parliament. The final day is leisure time, sans schedules, so that guest can head back to a favorite museum or go for a walk through the city’s wondrous open spaces.

The London and the Cotswold’s tour (departures on May 25 and June 1) costs $3,475 per person for seven nights but the pricing formula is slightly different: in the Cotswolds, the four nights’ lodgings come with all meals and guide service; in London, the price includes only three nights and dedicated guide service on the single-day tour.

“But we do give our guests one pleasant little bonus,’’ said Mr. Kendrick. “The 100-mile trip from the Cotswolds to London includes a stop at Downton Abbey, a.k.a. Highclere Castle, with time to explore the expansive gardens.”

Full details of prices, itineraries and everything that’s included can be found at www.ramblers.com or for reservations and more information you can call (800) 725-8801.


Virginia Is For Celebrating All Kinds of Anniversaries

One hundred fifty years ago the Civil War returned to Virginia with renewed vigor and throughout the year 1864 the state was the main focus point of the Civil War and Emancipation. This year with special events, reenactments and commemorative activities, those pivotal events of 1864 are marked throughout the state.

As Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant squared off for the first time, Central Virginia became witness to some of the most intense fighting of the Civil War. Armies also combed the Shenandoah Valley, leaving destruction in their paths.

While some of the activities hold special appeal for Civil War buffs and history enthusiasts, other events have distinct family-friendly elements as pleasing for kids as adults.

Re-enactments and other living history events, 150-years-to-the-hour guided battlefield tours, symposia, lectures and special exhibits can be found throughout the state.

Of particular note, three Virginia Civil War National Battlefield Parks will team up in May on a commemorative event that may be the first of its kind in America. Rangers from Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania, Richmond and Petersburg National Battlefields will travel to selected communities North and South that lost heavily in those battles to help conduct simultaneous luminary programs in those communities and at the battlefields.

You can visit www.Virginia.org/CivilWar  or www.Virginia.org for easy-to-use traveling planning resources or you can call (800) VISITVA and ask for a free Virginia for Lovers 2014 Travel Guide.

Red Roof Inns Loves Pets

Red Roof Inns has been voted best budget hotel brand in USA Today Travel 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards.

And if you are headed to Florida, the chain invites Orlando visitors to check out the newly renovated Red Roof Inn Orlando South-Florida Mall. All guests will receive $10 off their first stay in April. Those guests can also receive double RediCard points for the stay.

If you are not already a RediCard member you can join the group and get exclusive benefits for card members.

To make a reservation at the Red Roof Inn Orlando South-Florida Mall call (800) RED ROOF (1-800-733-7663). Use VP+/Promo Code 612260.

In honor of National Pet Day on April 11, Red Roof is offering guests who travel with their pets get 15 percent off all month long. Use VP+/Promo Code 605422 when making your reservation. This offer is for the month of April only and may not e combined with additional discounts or offers. Blackout dates apply and dates are subject to availability.

By Diane Siskin

Tennessee State Parks To Host National Trails Day Hikes

Tennessee State Parks will celebrate National Trails Day with free, guided hikes at all 56 parks on  Saturday, June 3 . Events will include free, ranger-led hikes through areas with waterfalls and scenic vistas as well as hikes focused on local history and trail clean-ups. With more than 1,000 miles of trails ranging from easy, paved paths to rugged backcountry trails, ... (click for more)

Historic Rugby Writer’s Series Welcomes RB Morris On May 20

Historic Rugby continues its year-long series of writer visits on Saturday, with a reading and performance by RB Morris. The reading is free and will be at the Harrow Road Café in Rugby at 7 p.m. The café will open for dinner at 5pm. All times are Eastern. Mr. Morris is a poet and songwriter, solo performer and band leader, and a sometimes playwright and actor from Knoxville, ... (click for more)

Erlanger Expects $5 Million Profit Despite "Very Challenging" Budget

Erlanger Health System officials said they expect a $5 million profit for the upcoming fiscal year despite a "very challenging" budget. Britt Tabor, chief financial officer, said there will be continued top line growth, which has brought a 51 percent rise in patient revenue over the past five years. "This is organic growth. It's not from mergers or acquisitions," Mr. Tabor ... (click for more)

Public Defender Says Another Entity Needs To Continue Funding For New Mental Health Court

Public Defender Steve Smith said another entity needs to take over funding the new Mental Health Court. He said Criminal Court Judge Don Poole has agreed to oversee the court and will make a budget presentation to the County Commission on May 31. Mr. Smith told members of the Pachyderm Club on Monday that he has been funding the program through the services of Anna Protano ... (click for more)

Tennessee Business Expansions On Rise Across State

In 2016, Tennessee was named State of the Year for Economic Development by Southern Business & Development Magazine based on project totals and the variety of industries that invested in the state and created jobs. To a great extent, Bradley and Polk Counties have benefited from that investment.   From February 2015 to February 2016, Cleveland/Bradley County led the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: DeVos Changes Everything

I believe that from every point on my moral compass the state’s hijacking of five public schools in Hamilton County is wrong. I also believe I can argue with success from any direction on my compass against any of the proposals or terms that Commissioner Candice McQueen just threatened to impose on the county’s Department of Education. But today let’s go to ‘True North’ on my compass ... (click for more)