Along The Travel Scene

Tuesday, April 08, 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

TVRM’s Historic Steam Locomotive #4501 Is Ready For Tennessee Valley Railfest

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) on Wednesday announced the return of its iconic Steam Locomotive 4501 to operation. TVRM has been restoring Locomotive 4501 over the past three  years and she will make her public debut at Tennessee Valley Railfest on Sept. 6 and 7.  The locomotive last ran in 1998 and has patiently waited for a complete overhaul.  ... (click for more)

Rock Out Labor Day And Beyond In Tennessee

 If there’s one place travelers can get a music smorgasbord, it’s Tennessee. In each corner of the state and areas in between, music rooted in bluegrass, rock, soul, country, and gospel can be heard from porches in small towns to concert stadiums in burgeoning cities. From the nation’s biggest Labor Day celebration in Knoxville to celebrating local and national talent in Nashville ... (click for more)

Bradley, 24, Charged In Death Of Boy, 3; Child Had Numerous Injuries After Left With Boyfriend; Mother Was In Workhouse

Justin Dale Bradley has been charged with criminal homicide in the death of a three-year-old child, who was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday and later died. Police said Dakota James Arndt had numerous injuries over his body. Authorities said Bradley, 24, is the boyfriend of the child's mother, Brianna Kwekel, who was in the Workhouse at the time. Ms. Kwekel was serving 48 ... (click for more)

Helen Burns Sharp Asks Recovery Of Legal Fees In Successful Black Creek TIF Lawsuit

Helen Burns Sharp, citizen activist who sued to try to stop a $9 million Black Creek Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and won, is seeking to have her legal expenses paid by the city and the developers. Ms. Sharp said in a court filing that her legal bills to attorney John Konvalinka are $74,427 thus far. Chancellor Frank Brown ruled in favor of Ms. Sharp, saying the Sunshine ... (click for more)

The Many Lessons I Learned From Helen McDonald Exum

Helen McDonald Exum was my friend and mentor. As I think of her passing I can only imagine the celebration that is happening in heaven as the news of her arrival is being told. I am sure that there is a party that not only has she organized but that there is not a detail that has been left to chance. I am sure that it is the grandest of events, for you see, she has been planing ... (click for more)

Insurance Burden Should Not Fall On The Teachers

I have attended several Hamilton County School Board meetings over the past few months, including the recent special called meeting" to vote on teacher insurance changes. First, let me say I am very impressed with Superintendent Rick Smith and his staff at the Central Office.  Mr. Smith is a very dedicated public servant, working hard to provide services to our community ... (click for more)