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

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:

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 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  or 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

This Week's Tennessee Tourism Roundup

  Walk through 150,000 blooms, get out in nature, hunt for Easter eggs, fly to Neverland with Peter Pan, experience the first show at the new home for Bluegrass Underground, celebrate the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll or see the Violins of Hope, a collection of restored instruments used by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. Here’s ... (click for more)

Etowah Historical Commission Awarded Grant For Digitization Project

The Tennessee State Library and Archives approved a State Board Programming Regrant Award in the amount of $2,300 to the Etowah Historical Commission and City of Etowah to support EHC’s Archives Digitization Project. State Board Programming Regrants are funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a division of the National Archives. The grants are administered ... (click for more)

Sheriff Hammond Says $4 Million Needed To Put SROs In All Hamilton County Schools

Sheriff Jim Hammond on Thursday night told members of the County School Board that $4 million is needed to provide School Resource Officers for all of the 79 schools. He said currently there are 31 SROs in 29 schools, leaving 50 uncovered. School Board member Rhonda Thurman said she believes the community could come together to provide the necessary funding. "It's something ... (click for more)

Judge Philyaw Denies He Did Not Reappoint Magistrate Because She Was Gay

Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw told a federal jury on Thursday that the fact Elizabeth Gentzler is openly gay had no part in his decision not to reappoint her as a magistrate. "Absolutely not. I have a lot of gay friends, family and acquaintances," he said. However, a court officer at Juvenile Court sided with Ms. Gentzler. Jimmie Cannon said, "Ninety-nine percent ... (click for more)

Avoid Underage Drinking And Other Prom Drama

My high school prom took a dramatic turn when two guys got their tuxedo jackets mixed up. One of them belonged to my date, who kindly offered to keep my wallet in his pocket. That’s the jacket another young man mistakenly grabbed off the back of a chair before heading to an underage drinking party that got shut down by police well after midnight—as kids scattered in every direction.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘In God We Trust …And Protecting Our School Children

On a day that the Tennessee Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that would prominently display the words “In God We Trust” in every school building in the state, the Hamilton County School Board gave my boy Bad Little Johnny cause to get a magic market and scribble underneath, “but ‘Everybody Else Is Gonna’ Need A Pistol!’” Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, who was ... (click for more)