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THE MAGAZINE FOR BANK, ALUMNI AND CHAMBER TRAVEL PLANNERS

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live in the

SPAIN EPICUREAN travel

ISSUE

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016


If art is the expression of imagination, then Downtown Sioux Falls could be defined as the hub of creativity and dreams. With over 55 sculptures lining the sidewalks, it’s a perfect tour for groups to take year-round.

Insider Tip #10 The youngest artist featured in SculptureWalk was a 17-year-old. Her first piece was a favorite and she was welcomed back for the 2015 season.


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THE MAGAZINE FOR BANK, ALUMNI AND CHAMBER TRAVEL PLANNERS

select EPICUREAN N travel

ISSUE

T R A V E L E R

VOL.24 NO.1

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016

SPAIN:

TIMELESS WONDERS Bodegas Muga winery, courtesy La Rioja Tourism

contents checking in: KIMBERLY DOCKERY

toolbox: conference: marketing: TOUR OPERATORS

PREVIEW

ON THE COVER: Spain’s La Rioja province produces plentiful bunches of grapes during harvest season.

career:

TRAVEL WITH GROWING FAMILY YOUR GROUP

10 12 14 46 48 STACEY BOWMAN

ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR

MAC T. LACY CHARLES A. PRESLEY BRIAN JEWELL ELIZA MYERS HERBERT SPARROW DONIA SIMMONS DAVID BROWN CHRISTINE CLOUGH ASHLEY RICKS KELLY TYNER

4

Founder and Publisher Partner Executive Editor Associate Editor Senior Writer Creative Director Art Director Copy Editor Circulation Manager Director of Sales & Marketing

selecttraveler.com

888.253.0455

STACE Y@ BANK TR AVELMANAGEMENT.COM

20 food truck culinary 36 F I N D S

C H A R L E S T O N

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trains FA R A N D N E A R

Select Traveler, the Magazine for Bank, Alumni and Chamber Travel Planners, is published bimonthly by The Group Travel Leader, Inc., 301 East High Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507 and is distributed free of charge to qualified travel program directors throughout the United States. All other travel suppliers, including tour operators, destinations, attractions, transportation companies, hotels, restaurants and other travel-related companies, may subscribe to Select Traveler by sending a check for $49 for one year to: Select Traveler, Circulation Department, 301 East High Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40507. Copyright The Group Travel Leader, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial or graphic content in any manner without the written consent of the publisher is prohibited. NAME OR ADDRESS CHANGES: If your copy of Select Traveler should be mailed to another manager in your organization, or if you personally know another travel director who is not receiving Select Traveler, please send your correction to: Select Traveler, 301 East High St., Lexington, Kentucky 40507, or call (859) 2530455.


Can memories be measured by the scoopful?

Where can I find the Perfect Créme puf?

From legendary créme puffs to behind-the-scenes culinary tours, Columbus is full of one-of-a-kind food experiences your group won’t soon forget. Start planning your Columbus visit today at experiencecolumbus.com/tours or call 800-354-2657.

What does mead taste like?


P U B L I S H E R ’ S

perspective

A

t the recent United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) Annual Conference in Chicago, I was reminded of how travel builds lasting relationships. I spent time there with several industry leaders whose tour companies have been steadfast supporters of the Select Traveler Conference and this magazine. USTOA active members constitute more than 50 major travel companies that represent 160 or so global travel brands. I interviewed Paula Twidale, executive vice president of Collette, who has just become the first woman to chair USTOA. I’ve gotten to know Paula over the past several years, and she will be a strong voice for worldwide travel in that position. Collette has been a luncheon sponsor and a valuable supporter of our conference for many years. I also spent time with John and Mary Stachnik, co-owners of Mayflower Tours, another company you’ve met through our conference. I traveled on the Danube River with Mayflower last May for an article in this magazine. Mayflower is heavily involved in the upcoming national parks centennial celebration and will be making a donation to Tourism Cares for every traveler Mayflower takes to a national park this year. I shared a table at lunch with Steve Born, vice president of marketing for Globus Family of Brands, another longtime sponsor at the Select Traveler Conference. Steve and I talked quite a bit about two of their brands: Monograms, which offers travelers the flexibility to travel independently using Globus’ local expertise, and the highly regarded Avalon Waterways river cruise brand. I shared with Steve that my wife and I are headed to Southeast Asia this month to enjoy an Avalon Waterways cruise on the Mekong River. We’re traveling with another couple, Hal and Elizabeth McCoy, from my hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Elizabeth is president of Planters Bank there and has an associate, Carolyn Cobb, who attends the Select Traveler Conference as the bank’s travel planner. It reminded me that relationships like these and those you’ve built through your work make travel a fundamental part of our lives.

Email me anytime with your thoughts at maclacy@grouptravelleader.com.

Mac Lacy

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G R E A T E R

O N T A R I O

C A L I F O R N I A

e r o l p x e Meet, t c e n n o and c

Greater Ontario is excited to host the Select Traveler Conference in 2017! Greater Ontario region boasts scenic mountains, deserts, vineyards and metropolitan areas that are both historic and cosmopolitan in character that make it Ideal for leisure and business travel. We look forward to welcoming you February 5 – 7 to Ontario, California. The Ontario International Airport lets you y right into the heart of Southern California. A state-of-the-art convention center, world class shopping, awe inspiring weather, access to over 6000 guest rooms. All waiting for you when the business day is done. Meet, explore, and connect in Greater Ontario, California. For more information on your next meeting experience, visit: discoverontariocalifornia.org/meetings 2000 E. Convention Center Way | Ontario, California 91764 909.937.3000 | 800.455.57.55 | info@ontariocvb.org


888-55-TRIPS (87477) www.gotripsinc.com

P L A N N E R S

Travel  Thoughtfully Designed  Delightfully Executed

T A L K

B A C K

what is a memorable dining experience you’ve had with your group? CHRIS HARRIS CLUB MANAGER | CLASSIC CLUB AT CENTRAL BANK JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI “While in Istanbul on a Mediterranean cruise, our tour guide took us to lunch on the top level of a boutique hotel with a panoramic view of the city overlooking Hagia Sofia on one side and our cruise ship docked against the skyline of the city on the other side. I was excited to try the local Turkish food, but the view was definitely the highlight.”

ROBIN ALBING DIRECTOR OF LIFELONG LEARNING | DARTMOUTH COLLEGE HANOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE “On cruises, our travelers are often hesitant to explore dining options away from the ship. I love to take them to some of my own favorite spots when we have a chance, like a little open-faced sandwich shop in Copenhagen or my preferred spot for high tea in London. For more adventurous travelers on our recent trip to India, I first took them to my favorite upscale restaurant in Delhi [Bukhara] and, the next day, deep into Old Delhi to Karim’s for the best butter chicken in the world.”

CATHY STAUFFER CLUB DIRECTOR | LEGACY CLUB AT BANK OF THE FLINT HILLS WAMEGO, KANSAS “We get together quarterly to celebrate members’ birthdays at a local steakhouse. If it is their birthday quarter, their lunch is on the bank; if not and they would like to join us, they pay for their own meal. Usually, we have about 40 to 45 attend every quarter.”

SHELLIE ANDERSEN DIRECTOR OF TRAVEL AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT | TRAVELING CYCLONES AT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AMES, IOWA “One of the most memorable dining experiences I had was while traveling in Turkey. We ate at a home of a local family. I was new to the travel business, and being able to experience the amazing food and hospitality of a local resident in Turkey still sticks with me. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was perfect, and I will never forget that experience.”

KATHY SCEGO PROGRAM DIRECTOR | MEMORY MAKERS AT MARIES COUNTY BANK

888-55-TRIPS (87477) 8 selecttraveler.com www.gotripsinc.com

VIENNA, MISSOURI “We traveled to New Glarus, Wisconsin, and had a welcome dinner at the New Glarus Inn with great food and fun entertainment. We enjoyed the alphorn and all the Swiss traditional foods and music.”

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Come celebrate monumental moments. The 75th Anniversary of Mount Rushmore’s Completion and the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service are just two big things happening in Rapid City. Get your free Travel Professionals Guide today by visiting TourRapidCity.com or calling 800-487-3223.


checking in K I M B E R LY D O C K E R Y

W I T H

K I M B E R L Y

D O C K E R Y

VICE PRESIDENT AND SILVER SPIRIT DIRECTOR

MERCHANTS BANK CULLMAN, ALABAMA Merchants Bank of Alabama originally opened in 1907 in Hanceville. Today, the bank operates five offices in Cullman and Marshall counties with assets totaling $260 million. With close to 3,000 members, the Silver Spirit club accepts customers 50 and over with a deposit of $1,000 in checking or $5,000 in savings. Born: Cullman, Alabama Education: B.S. from Auburn University and a graduate certificate from Samford University Community School of Banking Employment: Dockery worked in the transportation industry before starting at Merchants Bank 15 years ago. Family: Married with two grown children, Nathan and Amanda Hobbies: Dockery enjoys photography, playing the piano and scrapbooking in between her travels.

BY ELIZA MYERS

W

hen Kimberly Dockery, vice president and Silver Spirit director of Merchants Bank, talks about Cullman, Alabama, it can sound reminiscent of the idyllic fctional towns of Mayberry or Bedford Falls. “Tis is a fun little town where everybody know everybody,” said Dockery. “My group members are my friends. I went to school with their kids and grandkids. When I go to the grocery store, I’ll see them. Sometimes on the way to work, I’ll get them milk and things like that.” Dockery enthusiastically will tell you that the close friendships she forms as bank club director have been her favorite part of her job. Tough the bank club’s membership has risen to close to 3,000, Dockery strives to foster relationships with everyone. “I really do celebrate with them during happy times like when they

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Silver Spirit club members in Portland, Oregon

overcome cancer,” said Dockery. “I grieve the loss of their spouses with them. Te hardest part of my job is attending a funeral for one of my members. I get so attached.” Tough she loves the wonderful destinations she’s been able to discover, it’s the people that keep her passionate about leading Merchant Bank’s travel club.

PICKING UP A NEW DREAM When Dockery frst started at Merchant Bank 15 years ago as a customer service representative, the Silver Spirit club had just started. While she waited for a transfer into the bank’s investments department, the club’s director position became available. “It was a more fun route than just working in investments, which is what I thought I would be doing,” said Dockery. “I went into it not really knowing a lot about travel planning.”

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Growing up, Dockery’s family made a trek to the nearby beach each year but not much beyond that. Her frst trip with the club took her to Cape Cod. She knew immediately that this was the job for her. “At the time, the program was just starting,� said Dockery. “Tere were only 20 people on the trip, so it was like going with 20 of your good friends.� Since then, the club has expanded to take an average of 50 people on day trips seven to nine times a year. Dockery also organizes short trips of three or four days, as well as one big trip a year. After so many years on the job, Dockery has seen it all, from a 93-yearold walking confdently on a glacier to a laugh-flled dune buggy ride in California. Dockery plans mostly domestic trips, with the exception of the Canadian Rockies.

Even though Dockery knows her group so well, they can still surprise her. Her recent trip to Hawaii was one of those times. “Hawaii had been a bucket list item for some of my group members,� said Dockery. “Some of them really wanted to go, but I was hesitant because of the cost. I told them I would have to have a certain number of people sign up to be able to go. We ended up having way more than we needed. “It’s incredible, but I do get to see a lot of great places with them.�

LESS I S M O R E You might think that a trip so popular that a group needs two motorcoaches to accommodate them all would be a smashing success. When this happened to Dockery, she thought diferently. “In the past, I have taken two motorcoaches for a trip with 80 people,� said Dockery. “But groups that big lose their one-on-one time. I’m a little OCD, so since I can’t be on both motorcoaches, I take fewer now.� Dockery ensures a continued connection with her travelers that way. With 3,000 members, obviously, not everyone will be able to travel for various reasons; so Dockery takes care of those travelers with local events. “We have events that have a large turnout of 250 to 300 people,� said Dockery. “We’ll do a catered meal. In the spring, we have a catered catfsh dinner with all the fxings. We also have gospel groups that come in to sing.� Tough these types of events keep her members engaged in the club, she goes even further to take care of her core group of enthusiastic travelers with a board of 30 members to help with decisions on future travel planning. “Tey are the most seasoned travelers,� said e p l Dockery. “Tey go on a lot of trips. I send out a survey asking them for travel ideas. Ten we meet and talk about where we want to go.�

T R A V E L

tips

• Motorcoach drivers can make or break a trip. We’ve had the same motorcoach driver for eight years. He knows all my preferences. • Never let your group know there is a problem. • Your customers are the biggest source of advertisement for your program.

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CUST O M E R C O M E S F I R S T Since word of mouth remains the bank’s most successful advertisement, customer service is king for Dockery. “I’m also their private banker, as well as planning the travel part,� said Dockery. “Tey only deal with me, so if something happens to them, they know me already. Once they get hooked on our customer service, the travel is just an added beneft.� Dockery creates all-inclusive trips, so her travelers only have to bring money for souvenirs. She flls the motorcoach with drinks, candy, cookies, snacks and anything she can think of to add to the experience. Other members of the bank staf will often go on the trips with Dockery to help assist people with stepping on and of the bus. “Tey’re really comfortable with me and know they don’t have to worry about anything,� said Dockery. “Tey just have to show up and get on the bus.�

J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y

2 0 1 6

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T R A V E L

T O O L B O X

choosing a tour operator

T

BY BR I AN JEW E LL

here is no more important decision you make as a travel planner than deciding what providers to trust with your group’s time and money. If you use tour operators for your travel, selecting the right organization can make or break your trip. Tour operators offer invaluable services to the group travel industry. Their knowledge and expertise enables them to help you find destinations and itineraries that will thrill your travelers, and their networks of professional employees and partners can handle even the most complicated of travel logistics, taking most of the hassle of travel planning off your shoulders. And because they enjoy great economies of scale, tour operators can often offer you trips at prices you wouldn’t be able to get for yourself. But not all tour operators are created equal. There are hundreds of these companies across the country, each with different expertise, business practices and value propositions. When it’s time to choose a tour operator to take care of your next group trip, keep these five key factors in mind.

E X PE R TIS E Like any company, every tour operator has its own areas of expertise. Some large tour companies are generalists that offer a consistent product across many different destinations around the world. Others are boutique operations that have deep networks in one particular destination or region. There are pros and cons to both of these approaches. If your travelers are very enthusiastic about visiting a certain place, it may be worthwhile to choose a company with a deeper expertise there. Large companies, however, are likely to deliver a reliable experience no matter where you travel with them, even if they miss out on some of the finer details a specialist would provide.

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PR ICE Price will always be a consideration when shopping for travel, but it should never be the only factor that drives your decisions. There are many elements that affect the price of a tour, and if a tour operator advertises bargain-basement prices on a trip, there’s likely to be a reason. When you talk to tour operators about price, be sure to inquire about what those prices include. What level of hotels do they use, and how close are those hotels to the city center? How many meals are included, and what is the quality of the restaurants? Do the prices include admission tickets, taxes and tips? Sometimes the lowest price doesn’t equate to the best value, especially if your travelers have sophisticated taste.

CU S T OMIZATI ON In some ways, shopping for tours is a lot like shopping for clothes: You can buy them off the rack or have them custom-fitted to your exact specifications, and there are advantages to both. Most tour operators have standard itineraries that they operate

CR E D E N TI ALS

over and over throughout the year, and buying one of these tours

With hundreds of tour companies

is a good way to ensure that you’re seeing the best of a destination

operating around North America, it’s

at a reasonable price. But if you want to do something unconven-

an unfortunate reality that some may

tional or offer unusual experiences, you might do well to work with

not be as professional or ethical as

a tour operator that specializes in customizing tours for groups.

they ought. To safeguard the invest-

These tours often cost more than off-the-rack products but offer

ment that your travelers make in their

more special touches for your travelers.

trips, as well as your own reputation, it’s important to make sure that you’re working with first-rate professionals. Ask for references of past group customers, and check with those people

SALES & OPERATIONAL SUPPORT If you hire a tour operator to take over the logistics of a trip for your group, you’ll want to know how much support they offer before, during and after a trip. Will they help you in selling the trip by creating marketing materials or sending a representative to do a travel presentation for your group? Will they handle payments and accounting for each group member? What sort of contingency plans and backup systems do they have in place in case something goes awry during the trip? And on a related note, what do they do with your customers’ data? Some tour operators will approach your travelers directly with offers for additional travel after your trip is finished. If this bothers you, get a commitment from your provider that it won’t sell

to see how satisfied they were with the company’s service. It’s also a good idea to find out if tour operators are members of professional organizations such as NTA, formerly the National Tour Association; the American Bus Association; or the United States Tour Operators Association, all of which have a number of ethical requirements and best practices that their members must follow.

directly to your clients in the future. J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y

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C O N F E R E N C E

connection BRING A JERSEY FOR THE

SUPER BOWL PARTY!

BY MAC LACY

A

ll delegates to the Select Traveler Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, are invited to a rocking Super Bowl party being hosted by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau on the conference’s opening night. “Alan Sims and his staff know how to throw a party, and this is going to be a Super Bowl no one will ever forget,” said Select Traveler Conference CEO Joe Cappuzzello. “No matter who your team is, and no matter whether you are a football fan or not, this opening night event will be the place to be in Little Rock on Sunday, February 7.” This year’s Super Bowl is the 50th anniversary game and

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will have the eyes of the world glued to their televisions, computers, tablets and phones in record numbers. The game will take place in San Francisco at that city’s new Levi Stadium. “Everyone is encouraged to bring their favorite team jersey to Little Rock for this casual event,” said Cappuzzello. “If you follow a pro team, bring your jersey. If you follow a college team, bring your jersey. Throw on your favorite pair of jeans, and come root for somebody. This is going to be a Super Bowl to remember at the Select Traveler Conference in Little Rock.” To register for the conference, go to www.selecttravelerconference.com.

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B R E A K O U T S

PEER GROUP DISCUSSIONS HIGHLIGHT BREAKOUTS

“I

t’s hard to beat learning from your peers,” said Mac Lacy, partner in the Select Traveler Conference and publisher of Select Traveler magazine. “For the vast majority of our travel planners, this is the best opportunity all year to do that. The breakout sessions at the conference offer a very useful exchange of ideas in a noncompetitive environment. Everyone walks away with practical ideas they can put to use immediately when they get home.” This year’s buyer breakout sessions take place on Sunday afternoon, February 7, in their customary time on the event’s opening day. Volunteer moderators will be used to keep the conversations moving in the right direction based on an outline prepared in advance. “There are several topics that are very timely this year, and I think everyone will be interested to hear how others are dealing with these issues and opportunities for 2016 and beyond,” said Lacy. “We’ll include the effects of a strong overall economy, the implications for travel that international terrorism events have raised and numerous trends in group travel that planners are reacting to every day.” This year’s breakout sessions will address topics under the following broad headings: • Assessing the Overall Travel Climate • America’s National Parks Centennial • Cities That Inspire Trips • River Cruises at Home and Abroad • Marketing Your Group’s Trips • The Changing Nature of Groups • Open Discussion “As always, all delegates who attend the conference and participate in the sessions will receive a complete summary of all proceedings after the conference,” said Lacy. Join us for the Select Traveler Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, February 7-9, and spend three days learning from your peers and discovering new travel destinations for your group. Register now at www.selecttravelerconf.com.

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C O N F E R E N C E

connection S I G N

U P

TODAY

F O R A N A R K A N S A S FA M T R I P

T

ravel planners attending the Select Traveler Conference in February are invited to participate in an outstanding post familiarization tour that immediately follows the conference. This four-day, threenight trip departs from the hotel following the closing luncheon on February 9 and returns to Little Rock for flights on the morning of February 12. “The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has offered to show our delegates one of the state’s most revered travel regions—Northwest Arkansas,” said conference vice president Teresa Burton. “This fascinating region of the state epitomizes its historic role as a symbol of the western frontier in the 19th century. And it continues to pioneer many new American frontiers in art, cuisine and retailing. Any planners who want to immerse themselves in one of Arkansas’s top regional destinations should sign up today!” Here are the highlights of this trip:

“Amoskeag Mills #2” by Charles Sheeler Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

DISCOVERING N ORTH WEST ARKANSAS FEBRUARY 9-12 Get your boots and spurs ready. You are about to see why True West magazine named Fort Smith, Arkansas, the 2013 Top True Western Town of the Year. Discovering Northwest Arkansas is a one-of-a-kind adventure that will take you a step back in time and showcase Western grit at its finest. You will visit Hanging Judge Isaac C. Parker’s infamous court and frontier jail, aptly named Hell on the Border. You will also stand next to every little boy’s dream present at the Daisy Airgun Museum, home of the Red Ryder BB Gun, in Rogers. And everyone will enjoy the bluebird of happiness at Terra Studios in Fayetteville. Lush gardens and one-of-a-kind artwork can be found at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The Walmart Museum, located in Sam Walton’s original Bentonville variety store, highlights the evolution of the largest retail organization in the world. Discovering Northwest Arkansas is full of unique attractions and many surprises along the way. Make sure you join us immediately following the Select Traveler Conference in Little Rock. See you soon! To register for this post fam, go to www.arkansas.com/group-travel/ , or call Cassie Crane, (501) 376–4781. Only registered delegates may attend. For registration details, visit www.selectravelerconf.com.

Fort Smith

Courtesy Arkansas Tourism

The Bluebird of Happiness

Courtesy Terra Studios

Childhood toy guns at the Daisy Museum

Courtesy Daisy Museum

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E V E N T

CORRECTIONS

SCHEDULE

A feature on South Dakota in the November/December. issue incorrectly stated the attendance of the 2015 Buffalo Roundup at Custer State Park. The event was attended by more than 21,000 spectators.

GO ONLINE TO SEE A FULL SELECT TRAVELER CONFERENCE SCHEDULE:

An article in the Travel Alliance Partners (TAP) Travel Guide in the November/ December issue incorrectly identified the headquarters of TAP member Maxima Tours. The company is based in Hamilton, Ontario. A sidebar in the TAP Travel Guide incorrectly spelled the name of TAP member All American Tours. There is no hyphen in the company’s name.

hello

Huntsville

Get ready for your adventure in the Rocket City! Huntsville, Alabama | huntsville.org

bucket list 1

Embrace adventure at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

2

Discover the nation’s largest seasonal butterfy house at the Huntsville Botanical Garden

3

Shop the Artist Market at Lowe Mill and stay for a concert & picnic

4

Hear stories of spies, lies, alibis & ghosts while touring our Historic Districts, Historic Huntsville Depot, Weeden House ...and more!

Pam Williams

Tourism Sales Manager HuntsvilleCVB

@Go2HuntsvilleAL

J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y

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VisitHuntsvilleAL #iHeartHsv

256.551.2204 pam@huntsville.org

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T H A N K S TO THESE

SPONSORS ANDERSON VACATIONS Delegate Orientation CITSLINC INTERNATIONAL Buyer Breakout Sessions COLLETTE Luncheon – Day One EAST COAST TOURING Breakfast – Day One EUREKA SPRINGS VISITORS BUREAU Destination Showcase FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMIN. Presentation Time GLOBUS FAMILY OF BRANDS Closing Luncheon GO AHEAD TOURS Marketplace KickOff One GO NEXT Conference Registration /Elevator Pitch GREATER ONTARIO CALIFORNIA CVB Evening Meal – Day Two ISLANDS IN THE SUN CRUISES & TOURS Super Session JOHN HALL’S ALASKA Elevator Pitch LITTLE ROCK CVB Best Practices Handbook/Delegate Registry Travel Industry Report/Conference Registration MAYFLOWER TOURS Presentation Time MSC CRUISES (USA) INC Icebreaker Reception Presentation Time NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES Presentation Time TRAVEL ALLIANCE PARTNERS (TAP) Marketplace KickOff Two TRIPS Breakfast – Day Two VISIT FRENCH LICK WEST BADEN Aisle Number Floor Graphics VISIT GROVE CITY Phone Charger Station

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With its culinary star on the rise, Little Rock is a food lover’s paradise. From its farmers’ markets and locallyowned restaurants, to its artisanal food scene with its breweries, distillery and wineries we enjoyed touring and tasting, there was something to enjoy everywhere we went. Discover the city’s local flavors and find your joy in Little Rock.

IN GREATER LITTLE ROCK

Learn about our city’s breweries, distillery and wineries > To see more, visit LittleRock.com


STREET

level dining

The Mission Coffee Bike sells freshly brewed coffee to visitors out for a stroll in Columbus.

Courtesy Experience Columbus


EPICUREAN travel

ISSUE

food trucks star in these great cities BY ELIZABETH HEY

B

ringing tasty treats to the streets, the food truck revolution has exploded in popularity across the nation. Established chefs, as well as those wanting to make a splash in the culinary world, are creating great eats. From burgers and barbecue to Cajun and seafood, the variety is sure to please every palate. For a cool and inventive twist to any activity, mobile cuisine enables the food to come to your group. If you have foodies in your group, consider adding a food truck stop to your itinerary next time you visit one of these cities.

PHILADELPHIA

Groups touring Philadelphia can enjoy great food truck cuisine in an inviting city atmosphere. At Love Park, where the iconic “LOVE” sculpture makes the perfect photo op, trucks serve breakfast and lunch. And in University City, numerous trucks use Twitter to publicize their menus. Philly Tour Hub offers an outing that explores a number of food truck hot spots in neighborhoods throughout the city. The Taste of Three Cities — Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. — comes to Philadelphia on May 21 with a festival atmosphere. In addition to fabulous food, premium wines, beer, spirits and live music, there’s fierce competition among the three cities, where the judges are local celebrities, food experts and attendees. Visitors can cast their vote from their phones as they eat their way through the deliciousness. The competition will begin in April in Washington and, soon after, will hit the road for Philadelphia; its final stop in June will be in Baltimore. In warmer months, the Philadelphia Food Trust hosts an ongoing street food festival called Night Market. The Food Trust picks a neighborhood, to which it brings 20 to 30 food trucks, plus live music. Among the standout Philly trucks is the Distrito Taco Truck owned by chef Jose Garces, who won the second season of “The Next Iron Chef.” His truck is available for outdoor parties. The IBG Food Truck is an offshoot of the Independence Beer Garden, located across from the Liberty Bell. The restaurant was so popular that chef Michael Schulson took his concept on wheels. “Food trucks are typically lined up in fun and hip neighborhoods from May through October,” said Brian Said, executive director of tourism for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And the Night Market allows visitors to experience our diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, as well as the real foodie culture of Philadelphia.” WWW.DISCOVERPHL.COM

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DENVER

Denver has food trucks — lots of them. At First Friday Art Walk, trucks are interspersed throughout the Arts District. During the summer, at Civic Center Park on Tuesday and Thursday, Civic Center Eats hosts a gathering of food trucks at lunchtime. From November through April on the second Thursday of every month, that same event morphs into Civic Center Nosh and Posh. “The format is the same, but they add fashion trucks that sell accessories, clothing and gadgets that make great gifts,” said Ashley Taufen, communications manager at Visit Denver. Infinite Monkey Theorem, an urban winery, takes to the streets in its wine truck, which serves wines by the glass and in the can. According to Taufen, the winery’s production of canned wine is a nod to the Colorado lifestyle because glass is prohibited in the state’s numerous parks and recreation areas. Avanti, Denver’s modern-day food hall, houses seven different food concepts in shipping containers, among them Venezuelan, Indian and Japanese cuisine. It’s a modified, indoor food-truck concept, and several of the restaurants operate food trucks. Groups can use wristbands that allow people to try an appetizer from one spot and dessert from another with one tab at the end, making it easier for organizers to pay. Visit Denver has coordinated a number of food truck events. The American Academy of Family Physicians hosted an event at the Denver Art Museum with 2,000 attendees. Seven different food trucks were parked nearby, and the museum provided seating inside and out. Another group closed a downtown parking lot for a block party with activities and food trucks. “Some of our breweries and craft distilleries don’t serve food, so we’ve had groups hire a food truck to come to a distillery,” said Taufen. “People participated in a whiskey tasting or tour, and then went outside and ordered from the truck.” WWW.DENVER.COM

COLUMBIA, MISSOURI

Columbia supports an ever-growing assortment of food trucks, such as Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, Grill-A-Brothers Sandwiches and Lily’s Cantina. Many owners and operators come straight out of Columbia’s best kitchens. Each truck is active on social media, letting fans know where to find them each day of the week. “Our food trucks put the same emphasis on fresh, local ingredients as do our restaurants. Produce from nearby farms and meats from area

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purveyors make Columbia’s food trucks a step above,” said Megan McConachie, marketing and communications manager for Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. During warmer months, Food Truck Fridays take place at Lucky’s Market on Providence Road, one of Columbia’s main thoroughfares. Offerings include mouthwatering biscuit creations, Baja Midwest fusion, pizza, grilled cheese and Hawaiian shaved ice. The trucks also attend festivals and special events throughout the year. “For groups, we’ve worked with Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, but it’s likely that other trucks would be happy to make similar arrangements,” said McConachie. “Groups can arrange exclusive events and pay the entire tab, or use a convenient voucher system that gives each person a specific meal or dollar amount from the truck.” WWW.VISITCOLUMBIAMO.COM

OKLAHOMA CITY

Culinary Community

In recent years, the food truck scene has skyrocketed in Oklahoma City. In downtown’s Myriad Botanical Gardens, groups can attend a number of events and nosh at the food trucks lined up around the 17-acre garden. Venues such as the Bleu Garten offer a permanent food truck location where food trucks can be hired as independent contractors to serve customers, and groups will find shaded seating, misters, heaters, music and theater entertainment. “The Bleu Garten is a unique, outdoor dining experience unlike anywhere else in Oklahoma,” said Tabbi Burwell, communications manager at the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s a fun atmosphere where people enjoy watching Thunder games, and they also have activities such as a corn toss and a giant Jenga game.” A new annual event called the H&8th Night Market will be held on June 3. It began as the world’s largest monthly food truck festival, attracting 45,000 attendees and 50 food trucks each month. In 2016, it will be paired with the Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic bike race for both the amateur and elite cyclist. The race will take place in three different districts of the city, June 3-5. “Food trucks have a presence at many visitor attractions and almost every outdoor event,” said Burwell. “If a group wants to host an event and forgo a traditional plated meal or buffet, our food trucks are a great alternative.”

If you leave Greenwood hungry, you

EPICUREAN travel

only have yourself to blame. Indulge in some unforgettable meals at any one of our well-known restaurants and then recharge overnight in a luxurious room at The Alluvian. And if you’re inspired to try your own hand at kitchen magic, sign up for one of Viking Cooking School’s classes, where you can become grillmaster or neighborhood pastry chef!

visitgreenwood.com 662-453-9197 • #travelgreenwood

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airing an activity with an on-site food truck allows groups to make a day of visiting unique destinations that might not have food service on-site. Southeast of Columbus, the Hocking Hills region appeals to groups looking for outdoor adventure or off-the-beaten-path attractions. “We had Chef Moe on the Go food truck come out and serve lunch after a group visited the Hocking Hills Canopy Tour zip line, and she fed our group at Hocking Hills Winery,” said Karen Raymore, Hocking Hills Tourism Association executive director. “Another great spot to bring in a food truck is at the Columbus Washboard Factory, located in downtown Logan. It’s the last factory of its kind in America, and they offer a wonderful factory tour that will appeal to history buffs that includes playing in a washboard band. The factory owner hails from Great Britain. In the gift shop, he sells European imports such as butter from Ireland, terrific English soaps and small gifts that you can't buy anyplace else in the U.S.” WWW.EXPLOREHOCKINGHILLS.COM

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Top trucks include Hall’s Pizza Kitchen, Roxy’s Ice Cream, Kaiteki Ramen and Taste of Soul Egg Roll. Visitors and locals alike can find out the latest information at TruckIt OKC, the city’s popular phone app that locates food trucks.

Ozark Ozar Oz arkk Mo Mount Mountain tain BBiscuit tain is it iscuit Co Food Food Truck Tru ruck ck Co.

WWW.VISITOKC.COM

COLUMBUS, OHIO

For the ultimate mobile buffet, Columbus Food Adventures offers several tours. The Food Truck Tour visits a broad mix of five favorites, including barbecue, fried chicken and Korean dishes. And nobody knows Columbus’s expansive taco truck scene better than this company. Each stop on their Taco Truck Food Tour includes a tasting and emphasizes individual truck specialties and regional cuisine. “It’s one of the best ways to learn about authentic Mexican and other ethnic foods in Columbus, which has a very substantial Latino population,” said Beth Ervin, Experience Columbus’ director of communications. “We sampled food and drink from five trucks and learned all about the different dishes and regional specialties, plus we visited an authentic Mexican Market.” For an even bigger food extravaganza, the annual Columbus Food Truck Festival celebrates Ohio’s cuisine at the Columbus Commons in downtown. The three-day event, held in August, features more than 70 of the city’s best food trucks, accompanied by live music, vendors selling handmade arts and crafts, and numerous activities. Popular local trucks include Mixing Bowl, which features wildly creative Asian-fusion bowls, and Pitabilities, which serves Mediterranean-American fusion cuisine wrapped in a pita.

Midtown Village Festival Courtesy Columbia CVB

Courtesy Philadelphia CVB

Los Guachos Food Truck

Bleu Garten

WWW.EXPERIENCECOLUMBUS.COM Courtesy Experience Columbus Courtesy Oklahoma City CVB

Lifes’ a ebration Cel Everyting

We celebrate in St. Tammany, 45 minutes north of New Orleans. Come join us and bring your appetite – for great Louisiana cooking, and for living. Folow us on:

ON Louisiana’s Northshore! J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y

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Contact our Sales Department at (800) 634-9443 for a complimentary FAM tour.

www.LouisianaNorthshore.com/gtl

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BOSTON B Y

B O A T

Groups can enjoy the best skyline of Boston from the water on a kayak trip.

Courtesy Charles River Canoe and Kayak

Y

THESE COASTAL TOURS EACH HAVE STORIES TO TELL

BY ELIZA MYERS

ou’re standing on Boston Harbor and all of a sudden you feel the urge to re-enact the iconic moment taught in every American history class: the Boston Tea Party. Luckily, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum not only educates guests on this iconic event, but also encourages participants to grab a tea chest and heave it overboard, just as the founders of the country did in 1773. Groups can connect with Boston Harbor’s past at the museum, as well as through numerous other adventures along Boston’s coastline. The 1630 town sits on a peninsula and alongside the Charles River,

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which has led to a long list of potential coastal activities. Visitors enjoy history lessons at the Boston Tea Party Museum, as well as at America’s oldest light station. Scenic coastal tours also have ties to the past on the Architectural Cruise of Boston Harbor and on a canoe trip next to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus. Educate your group on Boston’s far-reaching history with one of these standout coastal tours.

BOSTON TEA PARTY SHIPS AND MUSEUM In 1773, demonstrators disguised as Native Americans heaved an entire shipment of tea from England overboard, ruining the tea and jump-starting the American Revolution. Visitors to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum relive this fateful day next to costumed interpreters on authentically replicated tea ships. “You get to throw the tea over yourself,” said David O’Donnell, special

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projects and media relations manager for the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s fun and comical. The Colonial characters on board with you encourage you to get rowdy and throw tea over.” The museum experience begins at the replicated Meeting House, which is where the Sons of Liberty first decided to stage the Boston Tea Party. Costumed interpreters that speak at the pulpit convince the crowd to dump tea overboard with them. Afterward, the interpreters hand out historically re-created Native American costumes and board the ships. After tossing fake tea chests, groups can see a real one. The 1773 Robinson Half Chest is one of the oldest Boston museum artifacts and is one of only two known tea chests still in existence from the Boston Tea Party. Visitors can then explore the rest of the museum’s exhibits, including a short film, 3-D holographic characters and displays of historic artifacts. Many groups relax after absorbing so much history at Abigail’s Tea Room and Terrace, which serves teas and snacks from another era.

ARCHITECTURE CRUISE With Boston’s history dating back further than most U.S. cities, the local architectural variety stands out prominently. The best vantage point for viewing Boston’s skyline can be found on Boston Harbor and the connecting Charles River. Groups can sit back and soak in the historic views on the Charles Riverboat Company’s Architecture Cruise. The 90-minute tour partners with Boston by Foot and BSA Space, a center for architecture and design, to provide a fresh look at Boston’s architectural landmarks. “It’s an interesting collaboration between tour companies,” said O’Donnell. “They normally run very different tours, but this is a great opportunity for them to get together and really enhance the tour.”

Boston Light

Along the route, guides point out a range of famous buildings, such as 200 Clarendon (formerly the John Hancock Tower), which has been the tallest building in Boston for more than 30 years. Guides will educate guests on the differences between this modern skyscraper design and some of Boston’s historic buildings, such as the 1849 Custom House, a Neoclassical clock tower. MIT’s campus lies on the cruise route, which also showcases varying architectural eras such as Neoclassical, Modernist, Brutalist and Deconstructivist. Groups desiring a more laid-back cruise can choose from the Charles Riverboat Company’s Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise, the Charles River Sightseeing Tour and other custom cruises.

BOSTON LIGHT TOURS Immortalized by Benjamin Franklin, blasted by British forces in the Revolutionary War and staffed today by one of the nation’s last lighthouse keepers, the Boston Light has quite a history. The site of the first lighthouse ever built on American soil, the Boston Light continues to send 1.8 million-candlepower light for 27 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Groups can tour the 75-foot-high lighthouse during a Boston Light Tour, which run thanks to a partnership between the National Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard. The three-and-a-half-hour tour takes guests to the outer reaches of Boston Harbor to Little Brewster Island. Guides tell stories of the first lighthouse, which was built in 1716, as well as its destruction at the hands of the British and its reconstruction in 1783. Still standing today, the lighthouse walls are sevenand-a-half feet thick at the base. Visitors learn these stories and more on a voyage through the Boston Harbor Islands National Park. The tour passes the park’s three lighthouses before climbing the 76 steps to the top of Boston Light. “You can meet the U.S. Coast Guard light keeper who lives in the lighthouse,” said O’Donnell. “The view from the top of the lighthouse gives you a great view of Boston Harbor. It’s a great tour.”

CHARLES RIVER CANOE TRIP

Courtesy National Park Service

Kayaking the Charles River

Courtesy Charles River Canoe and Kayak

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Imagine paddling past historic buildings, forested parkland, pristine college campuses and views of the Boston skyline. If you feel an urge to stretch your legs, you can always pull over to the side of the river and walk through a park. If not, you can continue to explore as much of the Boston area as possible. Charles River Canoe and Kayak offers these laid-back adventures from its Charles River location in Cambridge at Kendall Square. The one-way trip allows guests to float through calm water past MIT, Boston University and the Esplanade, and offers a panoramic view of Boston. “The advantage of these tours is that you give people the freedom to go out and explore the river on their own,” said O’Donnell. “Once you get out on the water, people could do whatever they want.” Canoe and kayak rentals come with a quick orientation for groups, which includes safety directives and suggested stops along the way. Esplanade, a state-owned Boston park, offers a shady place to pull over and take a short walk. The CambridgeSide Galleria also offers a shopping break with food options for the hungry. Groups who want to paddle together can opt for the 10-person canoes or a guided tour, such as the outfitter’s Sunset Kayak Tour, the Barking Crab Kayak Tour and the Barbeque Kayak Tour.

www.bostonusa.com

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Contact Emerald Waterways for full terms and conditions. Waterways I All rights reserved I 20 Park Plaza, Suite 903, Boston, MA 02116


S

ENJOY THE MOMENT LEAVE TIME FOR YOUR SENSES IN

BY PATTI NICKELL

(Upper Rioja) is mountainous and humid, and Rioja Baja (Lower Rioja) is flat and has a sunny, Mediterranean-like climate. But the two have one thing in common: Together, they constitute Spain’s most prolific wine-producing region.

RIOJA REDS

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ust beyond the expanse of glass windows at the Castillo El Collado, a perfect gem of an inn located in Laguardia, Spain, a blazing orange ball of a sun slips behind the mountains, and a violet haze descends upon the valley. It’s nearly 7 p.m., and I am just finishing lunch. While getting up from lunch at a time when most are sitting down for dinner may seem a bit odd to Americans, it is the ideal metaphor for Spain. This is a country deeply rooted in the past and steeped in tradition. Time is relative here, and the hours of the day are delineated not so much by traditional methods of telling time as by sensory impressions. Morning is the smell of freshly baked bread and the crow of a rooster; afternoon, the feel of the broiling sun on one’s back; nighttime, the sound of clicking castanets and the silky taste of a rich red wine. Nowhere is this timelessness more apparent than in La Rioja. The smallest of Spain’s 17 regions, La Rioja was strategic enough to have attracted at various times Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and Christians, all of whom left their marks. Lying in the shadows of the Pyrenees, the mountain range that separates Spain from France, La Rioja is split in two: Rioja Alta

Here, in the basin of the River Ebro, in an area 80 miles long and 33 miles wide, are some 500 wineries, or as they are known in Spain, bodegas. Upper and Lower Rioja, along with adjacent Rioja Alavesa in the Basque country, have been producing Spain’s premier red wines since the Middle Ages, when area monks doubled as the first winemakers. Unlike in France’s Bordeaux region and the Napa and Sonoma valleys of California, La Rioja’s bodegas are not always available to tourists who just happen by. Many are open by appointment only, and a visit requires some prior knowledge and careful planning, especially if you require an English-speaking guide. However, for those determined to stop and sip, a few bodegas are open to the public on a regular basis. Bodegas Muga, located near the city of Haro in Upper Rioja, is perhaps the best known, although Bodegas Palacio and Bodegas Ontanon in Lower Rioja are also worth a visit. And, of course, these delicious, full-bodied vintages can be sampled at the region’s restaurants, from Haro’s tapas bars to the magnificent Landa Palace in nearby Burgos, where the specialty of the house is prime Spanish beef.

A HERMIT’S HERITAGE The wines, though undeniably excellent, are not the only thing La Rioja is known for. This is an area rich in the history of 10 centuries, and visitors won’t lack for interesting sites between wine tastings. One of the most interesting is San Millan de la Cogolla in the Cardenas River valley of Upper Rioja. It was here that the sixth-century hermit San Millan, a Benedictine monk, was said to have appeared, like St. James the Apostle, on a white horse to defend the Christians from the Moors. It is home to two important monasteries, Suso and Yuso, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suso, carved into the mountain to guard the cave where the holy hermit dwelt, is hidden from view and can be accessed by shuttle from the valley floor. In addition to its connection with San Millan, it was here that the Spanish language originated, as monks recorded the first written words in both the Castillian and Basque languages. Opposite page: Wineries and vineyards abound in Spain’s La Rioja province.

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Spain

By Roberto Sanchez


Hotel of the Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Bodegas Muga All photos courtesy La Rioja Tourism

The second monastery, Yuso, dominates the valley below. Founded in the 11th century, it now houses the relics of the saint. Visitors will marvel at the magnificent Gothic cloister and the exceptional collection of ivory figures that depict scenes from the life of San Millan.

MEDIEVAL MIRACLES Perhaps of even more historical significance is the 11th century town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. A major station on the Way of St. James, the road to Spain’s most revered shrine, Santiago de Compostela, the town grew up around an inn built by St. Dominic (Santo Domingo) to shelter and feed pilgrims en route to the shrine. Today’s pilgrims, otherwise known as tourists, can still find food and lodging in this medieval treasure that faces the town’s square. Directly across from the inn is the Gothic cathedral, site of one of the venerable saint’s miracles. A chaste young pilgrim, on his way to the shrine at Santiago de Compostela, attracted the attention of a lusty serving girl at the inn. Angered when he rebuffed her advances, she planted a silver goblet among his possessions and betrayed him to the local official. As the punishment for theft was death, the innocent pilgrim was

Santo Domingo de la Calzada

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hanged. When his grieving parents arrived at the gallows, however, they found him very much alive, proclaiming that Santo Domingo, knowing of his innocence, had saved his life. Overjoyed, they rushed to the house of the official, who was just sitting down to dinner, to inform him of the miracle they had witnessed. Incredulous, the official scornfully replied that the young pilgrim was as alive as the roast cock and hen of which he was about to partake, whereupon the two birds leapt from the plate and began crowing and clucking. To this day, a live rooster and hen are kept inside the cathedral as testament to the power of miracles.

HISTORIC PARADORS Sleeping in a medieval castle or a stately palace or lodging in a cloistered abbey where ghostly Gregorian chants echo your footsteps may seem like something out of a romance novel, but visitors to Spain find it easily accomplished. The government operates a network of 94 paradors throughout the country — guest accommodations in some of Spain’s most historically significant buildings, from mansions to monasteries. The La Rioja re-

Suso Monastery

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Yuso Monastery

gion has two of the most exquisite of these historic jewels: the aforementioned Santo Domingo de la Calzada in the town of the same name and Parador de Argomaniz in the hamlet of Argomaniz. At the former, you can feel the presence of the 12th-century pilgrims who first received hospitality from Santo Domingo; at the latter, you can sleep in a splendid Renaissance palace where Napoleon Bonaparte regrouped before attacking the nearby town of Vitoria during the Peninsular Wars. It seems that in La Rioja, you can not only walk in the footsteps of those who helped shape Spain’s history, you can also sleep in their beds. And don’t forget, you can get a pretty good bottle of wine as well.

LARIOJATURISMO.COM

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S T A T E

o f

M I N D

cornhusker cornucopia

BY HERB SPARROW DISCOVER THE ABUNDANCE IN NEBRASKA

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ebraska’s tourism slogan is “Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice.” You can add that Nebraska is also a nice surprise. A visit to the Cornhusker State uncovers a wealth of pleasant discoveries and distinctive experiences that extend far beyond the stereotypical image of miles of flat corn, wheat and soybean fields. “If you have been to Nebraska only along the interstate, you have missed a lot,” said David Sawyer, director of the Burwell Visitors Bureau. “Nebraska is not what you think it is.” “Nebraska has lots of surprises,” said Tricia Beem, executive director of the Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “When you get here, it exceeds all expectations. There isn’t one part of Nebraska that is like another; that is what makes us interesting and beautiful.” Even the topography of the state’s largest city, Omaha, surprises people. “People think we are flat. They are surprised at how hilly Omaha is,” said Bill Slovinski, group tour coordinator for the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Kreycik Elk and Buffalo Tour

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ceilings and Art Deco decor has been restored to the way it looked during its heyday, when 10,000 passengers a day passed through. Troughout the hall, life-size statues represent former travelers, including a serviceman with his dufel bag headed of to World War II and a businessman looking at the replicated train schedule. Some have motion-activated recordings talking about that person’s experiences.

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INSPIRATIONAL LANDMARKS

All photos by Herb Sparrow

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An inspiring stop in Omaha is Boys Town. Started by Father Edward Flanagan in 1917, Boys Town is internationally recognized for its pioneering work with children and families. Tours of the 900-acre campus include the Hall of History with exhibits spanning its history and current work, and the Father Flanagan House, restored to the 1920s era when he lived there. Groups can have lunch at Boys Town, which is an incorporated village with its own ZIP code, and possibly meet some of the residents, who have included girls since 1979. Tat was shortly after Omaha’s former train station was converted to a museum. “Tis is our 40th anniversary as a museum,” said Kathryn Mortensen, the Durham Museum’s education programs manager. Today, the lower level of the station and its former loading platform, now covered, contain exhibits, replica storefronts and a train you can walk through that trace the history of Omaha and the Union Pacifc Railroad. “Te biggest art is the building,” said Mortensen. Te ornate Great Hall with its 60-foot

HOOFING IT

Having a 2,000-pound buffalo or magnifcently antlered elk take an ear of corn from your hand is an unforgettable experience. Tat is what the Kreycik Elk and Bufalo Tours ofer as they take up to 60 people in two tractor-drawn covered wagons through their large elk and buffalo herds in hilly pastures overlooking the scenic Niobrara River Valley in northern Nebraska. “Tis is as close as you can get to elk and bufalo,” said Stacy Kreycik Miller. “You can smell their breath.” “When you get to the buffalo pasture, it is so darn noisy with everyone shouting with excitement,” said Chris Kreycik, Stacy’s mother and matriarch of the family-owned and -operated business that also includes her son Steve, daughter-in-law Allison and son-in-law Clint Miller. Chris’ late husband, Kenard, started the tours 20 years ago after people kept asking to see the elk and bufalo he had been collecting. Tey now also include Boomer, the longhorn steer who hangs out with the bufalo; Suzy, the bottle-fed elk, who loves to have her ears scratched; and miniature European fallow deer.

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LEGENDS IN LINCOLN

Te Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed in Lincoln is an unexpected fnd with dozens and dozens of restored racing cars of all types, from racing Model Ts to contemporary Indy open-wheel cars, displayed on three foors and 150,000 square feet of immaculately clean space. “Tere is a story about every car in here,” said docent Jim Snyder. Te massive collection, which began when founder Bill Smith got a Buck Rogers toy ray gun in 1934 when he was 5 years old, also includes numerous engines, performance parts, and accessories; toy memorabilia; Soap Box Derby cars; peddle cars dating to the early 1900s; and more than 600 lunch boxes that line the walls of a stairwell. Te late Smith’s four sons continue the collecting and the family-owned Speedway Motors. Te vehicles at the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory at the University of Nebraska across town go at a distinctly diferent pace. All models of tractors must be tested for things such as horsepower, fuel economy, hydraulics and noise before they can be sold in Nebraska. “We are the only state with such a law. We are the only test facility in the United States,” said Lance Todd, manager of the Larson Tractor Museum, which is afliated with the laboratory. Te museum displays several antique tractors, from the frst one tested at the site in 1920 up to one tested in 1963. After touring the museum, groups are taken to a building where indoor tests are run on mammoth tractors. “You can go through the museum to see the history, then come down here and see what is happening,” said Todd. “You see the new tractors, and it brings it all together.” If some members of groups are not interested in tractors, they can go across the street to

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the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. Also associated with the University of Nebraska, the 9-yearold museum has more than 5,000 quilts covering four centuries and 50 countries in its collection. About 200 of the quilts are displayed on a rotating basis in the museum’s modernistic building, which features a curving, threestory glass exterior wall.

A PIONEERING PLACE

It’s no surprise that Nebraska is one of the richest agricultural states, but the Raising Nebraska display on the new grounds of the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island that gives fascinating details about the state’s agricultural abundance is a wonderful discovery. Interactive and fun exhibits, spread throughout a 25,000-square-foot hall, show where food comes from, the sci-

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Nebraska elk close encounter

Boys Town

ence and technology of agriculture and the surprising variety of nonfood items generated by agriculture. You can program a large pivot — the long elevated irrigation machines seen in nearly every feld — to control the amount of water for a particular soil type, moisture and elevation and see the results on LED lights extending from the pivots. Climb into a full-scale replica of a combine flled with the latest technology and experience harvesting corn on a simulator in the windshield. Watch videos in a corn bin highlighting Nebraska farm families, stroll through a model home to discover what everyday items come from agriculture and walk on a map of the state, where information about a county is displayed on the wall as you stand on the county. Te waste corn left in the felds around Grand Island contributes to its most famous

draw, the half-million sandhill cranes that descend on the Platte River Valley in the spring on their way north from winter quarters in Texas and Mexico. “During the day, cranes are feeding in the felds and meadows,” said Beem. “It is really a great opportunity to see them and hear them. Part of the whole experience is seeing their interaction.” Te Crane Trust and Nature Center has informative exhibits about cranes and other types of waterfowl and is a jumping-of point for various tours during the migration. Groups can have a step-on guide for driving tours, view the cranes and other wildlife from footbridges, or use a viewing blind on the Platte River. In addition to the sandhill cranes, millions of other migratory birds, including snow geese and rare whooping cranes, come through the area. Te Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer at Grand Island reopened its 41-year-old Edward Durrell Stone-designed museum building in July after an 18-month, $7.4 million renovation. Te sleek white Stuhr Building has well-done exhibits that depict Nebraska history with period rooms, tools, household articles and other artifacts, including a fully loaded covered wagon that illustrates how tightly pioneers crossing the prairie had to pack. Te museum, which covers 206 acres, includes an 1890s railroad town with a collection of stores and houses, including the house in which actor Henry Fonda was born; an antique farm machinery and auto exhibit; an 1893 farmstead; and the example of a community bypassed by the railroad, which features only a church and a one-room school. “What we are about is pioneer history from 1850s to 1920s,” said marketing director Mike Bockoven.

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS

Group visiting for the sandhill crane migration can ex-

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Larson Tractor Museum

tend and expand their experience a couple of hours north in the rolling hills of north-central Nebraska to catch prairie chickens, whose migration runs from mid-March through April. “We get a lot of people who come for both,” said Sarah Sortum of Calamus Outftters, outside Burwell, which gives 90-minute tours in two jeeps of the interesting mixed-grass landscape. “We are on the eastern side of the sandhills: nice rolling hills, hill after hill after hill,” said Sortum, who drives one of the jeeps and weaves in stories about the area. “When you hear the historic accounts of the ocean and the grass, this is it. Unlike tall grass, mixed grass is still mostly intact — 96 to 97 percent intact. Tat’s pretty special.” If you can’t catch the migrations, mid to late June features a palette of native prairie fowers such as spider wart, wild roses and conefowers. And then there’s the sweeping landscape. Evening tours “stop on a hill, there are gorgeous sunsets, and at night, it is a beautiful sky. Tere is not a lot of light pollution,” said Sortum. What better way to put an exclamation point on a surprising Nebraska visit. www.visitnebraska.com

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S A V O R

CHARLESTON BY ELIZA MYERS

EPICUREAN travel

ISSUE

Courtesy Charleston CVB


Crab cake

enjoy one of america’s favorite culinary centers

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n an average day, Charleston, South Carolina, locals can dine on perfectly smoked pork barbecue, creamy shrimp and grits, flaky Huguenot torte and numerous other delectable Southern comfort foods. Hungry yet? You’re not the only one, as the flavors of Charleston have elevated the city to one of the most popular culinary destinations in the country. Award-winning restaurants line Charleston’s streets and compete against one another for the freshest ingredients and most memorable recipes. Groups visiting this foodie paradise should not only sample the local cuisine as often as possible, but also choose one of the city’s many culinary experiences. The additional knowledge and hands-on interactions with Charleston’s homegrown food will only enhance your travelers’ appreciations of the area’s fabulous food. Whether it’s a cooking class, a dessert tour, a brewery visit or a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour, your group will come hungry and leave satisfied on these popular epicurean excursions.

CHARLESTON COOKING CLASS Located in the city’s historic downtown, Charleston Cooks offers a cooking class for groups that are seeking the skills to make an authentic local meal. “Charleston Cooks is very popular,” said Suzanne Wallace, director of sales for the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They pull chefs from around the city for their cooking classes and demonstrations. You get a sampling of the local talent.” Participants can choose from a variety of cooking classes, including Charleston Community Table, Charleston Brunch and Secrets of Charleston Chefs. In each of these, groups learn with their hands how to produce a local meal. After their labor, participants dine on their culinary masterpieces. Those that don’t want to mess with hands-on preparations can opt for a demonstration class. These relaxed sessions let guests soak in all the same information and enjoy generous tastings for a one- or two-hour class. At one popular demonstration class, Taste of the Lowcountry, groups learn some of the regional recipes passed down through the generations, among them shrimp and grits, chicken gumbo and hoppin’ John.

Courtesy Charleston CVB

Pralines

Cupcakes from the Dessert Tour

Courtesy Bulldog Tours

Courtesy Bulldog Tours

DESSERT TOUR Groups with a sweet tooth can’t stay away from the Huguenot tortes, lemon bars, Southern pralines and chocolate truffles popular in Charleston. They can sample all of these scrumptious goodies and more on Bulldog Tours’ Dessert Tour. Part of the tour company’s Culinary Tours of Charleston brand, the Dessert Tour seeks out the top-rated dessert places frequented by locals. Participants taste their way through the region’s history with treats from the 18th century to present-day confections. Not only will guests keep their taste buds happy, but they will also learn the culinary history of Charleston. “It’s a great tour, and you taste as you go,” said Wallace. “The company’s culinary tours all talk about the foods native to our area. You learn about the Gullah culture, which produced a lot of our native foods.” The tour stops at Dixie Supply Bakery and Café, known for its down-home Southern cooking and unique desserts. Carmella’s Dessert Bar also earned its spot on the culinary tour for its wide range of sweets, among them dessert cocktails. Bulldog Tours offers a number of other culinary tours, such as Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street and Savor the Flavors of Charleston. The former showcases some of Upper King Street’s culinary innovators, while the latter immerses visitors in how the city’s cuisine has evolved over the past 300 years.

Opposite page: Groups can both taste favorite local dishes, such as Frogmore Stew, and learn about the history behind them in Charleston. J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y

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Palmetto Brewing Company is a staple stop on the Charleston Brews Cruise.

group-friendly Charleston restaurants

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our group can dine on some of the most heavenly cuisine in Charleston at any of these acclaimed restaurants. Each location serves authentic lowcountry cuisine to both locals and visiting groups alike. 82 QUEEN: Since its opening in 1982, this Southern dining spot continues to attract foodies for its fresh ingredients and seasonal menus. With 11 welcoming dining areas, a brick courtyard and a towering magnolia tree, the restaurant has long been a group favorite. CHARLESTON GRILL: Highly rated by Forbes magazine, Charleston Grill blends Southern, French and contemporary cuisine styles. Locals love the 1,300-label wine list, the live jazz, and the sophisticated but relaxed ambiance. MCCRADY’S: For generations, McCrady’s has offered lowcountry cuisine with modern flourishes in downtown Charleston. The elegant setting, award-winning wine cellar and high-level service ensure a top spot on many of Charleston’s restaurant guides. POOGAN’S PORCH: Charleston’s oldest independent restaurant lies along charming Queen Street. The restored Victorian house offers inventive approaches to lowcountry cuisine for brunch, lunch and dinner. By Courtney Hinton

CHARLESTON BREWS CRUISE The cold, refreshing taste of a local beer has become a soughtafter foodie experience. Charleston’s brewing scene has kept up with this culinary trend enough that the Charleston Brews Cruise offers exclusive bus tours to the city’s local craft breweries. “Charleston does love to drink, so we have those kind of tours we can offer groups,” said Wallace. “The Charleston Brews Cruise is a lot of fun, as you can imagine.” Groups not only sample the differing IPAs, pale ales and porters, but also discover the passion, science and history behind each of the tour’s brewing establishments. The tour lets guests explore a number of local breweries, for example, the Palmetto Brewing Company. Established in 1994, it was the first brewery to open in Charleston since Prohibition. Groups will sample five-ounce samples of four to five types of beer at this local favorite, as well as at the tour’s other breweries. At each stop, participants will also take a behind-the-scenes walk through the brewery to discover the detail that goes into every glass of beer. The company additionally offers the Tap Into History walking tour. Guides expound on the history of the city between stops at three local pubs. Each stop offers a variety of local microbrews.

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Groups can enjoy a traditional Charleston restaurant experience at Charleston Grill.

Courtesy Charleston Grill

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CHEF’S KITCHEN TOUR

Chef’s Kitchen Tour

To the customer, a plate full of mouth-watering food appears as if by magic from the kitchen. However, the story is much more complicated than that, as chefs undertake extensive planning and experimentation to perfect each dish. For a peek at this intricate process, Charleston Culinary Tours’ Chef’s Kitchen Tour introduces groups to five of the city’s most celebrated local chefs and their kitchens. The walking tour stops at award-winning restaurants on Upper King Street, one of Charleston’s culinary hot spots. “The tour is in the morning before the lunch hour so you can get into the restaurant,” said Wallace. “The chefs will prepare a little tasting for the group. These tours are a blast.” Groups will sample coffee, pastries, biscuits and a selection of traditional Southern dishes. Hoon Calhoun, a jovial local guide, leads the tours for the inside scoop on the area’s foodie past, as well as some interesting tales of intrigue from Charleston’s history. The tour allows ample time for participants to ask chefs questions about their cooking methods and inspirations. Guests go into each kitchen to visualize how each restaurant functions during busy dining hours. For example, at The MacIntosh, chef Jacob Huder explains how his round kitchen setup allows chefs with different tasks to work together in a circular pattern for quick food service. Groups can also try one of the company’s other culinary tours, such as the Chef’s Showcase at the Farmer’s Market, the Mixology Tour and the Charleston Distillery Tour. Courtesy Charleston Culinary Tours

www.charlestoncvb.com

Explore Readers of the Nation’s top travel magazines have again named Charleston the TOP U.S. CITY. Charleston’s alluring charm is ideal for leisure gatherings and social groups of every type. Let us make planning your memorable event here a little easier.

800.868.8118 | MeetCharleston.com

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known

F O R

DISTILLERIES

BARTON 1792 DISTILLERY

K AYA K I N G I N AU S T I N

BARDSTOWN, KENTUCKY

AUSTIN, TEXAS Courtesy Visit Bardstown

Courtesy Austin CVB

THE HOME OF JIM BEAM , Heaven Hill and Maker’s Mark sits at the beginning of Kentucky’s bourbon trail for good reason: It’s known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. With top names in bourbon from industry giants to prized independent brands like Barton 1792 and Willett, it can be hard to know where to start, so Dawn Przystal, tourism director for Bardstown-Nelson County Tourism, recommends beginning with the Heaven Hill Bourbon Distillery’s Bourbon Heritage Center. “It ofers a really great educational tasting for tours because the distillery is not on-site, so they set themselves apart by focusing more on the tasting,” she said. “Willett is small, so you get an intimate tour at a craft distillery, while Barton 1792, which is kind of midsized, has a visitor experience like you are at a working distillery. Some places are all about the visitor center.” Historic downtown Bardstown, which has been designated a Registered Historic District due to the excellent preservation of buildings dating back to before the Civil War, including many from when the town was founded in the late 1700s, draws nearly 50,000 visitors each September for its annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Tough Bardstown’s whiskey distilleries shut down during the prohibition, many have roots that reach back much further; Maker’s Mark, for example, was originally built in 1805 and has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

IF YOU WERE TO PLAY a quick association game with the state of Texas and a type of liquor, what would you choose? Tequila? Moonshine? Perhaps wine? Even though it’s not widely known, Texas — and Austin in particular — is home to some of the top craft vodka distilleries. Named for Deep Eddy Pool, Austin’s scenic spring and natural swimming pool, Deep Eddy Vodka blends Texas springwater with pure cane sugar and natural favors to create favored vodkas like sweet tea vodka, created in collaboration with the Sweet Leaf Tea iced tea company, or ruby red vodka made with real grapefruit juice. Its tasting room is open by appointment. Further out in hill country, Dripping Springs Vodka also makes use of the mineralrich local springwater for its vodka, which has received a purity award for the taste, which results from Dripping Springs’ process of distilling more than 20 times. Groups can do tours with tastings on Wednesdays and Saturdays. About an hour outside Austin, the Garrison Brothers Distillery has made a name for itself with a liquor you’d usually associate with Kentucky: bourbon. After becoming the frst whiskey distillery in Texas in 2005, it’s gone on to win the top American micro whiskey of the year award for its Cowboy Bourbon. Garrison Brothers’ hands-on tour even includes a taste of white dog, the high-proof white liquor that comes directly from the still before the aging process gives the whiskey its color.

WWW.VISITBARDSTOWN.COM

WWW.AUSTINTEXAS.ORG

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EPICUREAN travel

BY GABI LOGAN

ISSUE

CASA BACARDI DISTILLERY

PUERTO RICO

SUGARLANDS SHINE MOONSHINE

SMOKY MOUNTAINS, TENNESSEE Courtesy Puerto Rico Tourism Company

FOR CENTURIES, RUM DROVE commerce in the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico was no exception. Te island’s frst sugarcane mill was built in the 1500s, before the colonists established settlements in continental North America. But though centuries of political upheaval have taken their toll on many of the historic sugarcane farms, mills and distilleries, the history of the island’s rum economy and production is preserved at the Casa Bacardi visitor center. Te Bacardi family originally began plying the rum trade in Cuba, but when its holdings were appropriated by Castro, it moved its operation entirely to its facility in Puerto Rico, which today, is the largest rum distillery in the world and, as early as 1980, accounted for two-thirds of global rum sales. Casa Bacardi’s one-hour historical tour begins with a welcome drink and delves into the origins of both the family business and the local rum-making tradition in the wind-powered visitor center, winner of an Environmental Protection Agency award. Groups looking for something more interactive or with more tastings can opt for a tour with a mixology class or a tasting included. WWW.SEEPUERTORICO.COM

Courtesy Sugarlands Distilling Company

WHILE MOUNTAINS AND MOONSHINE have been a natural pairing for centuries, new craft distilleries are making the combination more ofcial and sweeping up impressive awards in the process. Te frst distiller to open once public moonshine sales became legal in 2009 was Old Smoky, which, in addition to its traditional unaged corn whiskey, ofers favored moonshine such as its signature apple pie and cherry-flled varieties. Old Smoky has two distilleries and tasting rooms in the Smokies: its original 20,000-square-foot facility in Gatlinburg and a new facility at Te Island in Pigeon Forge. Also in Pigeon Forge, the Old Forge Distillery ofers samples of its fagship moonshine, 1830 Original, made with mountain spring water. Visitors can also sample products from the Tennessee roots line, made with local roots and herbs, and check out a line of handmade knives forged by the resident blacksmith. Tough it’s one of the newest kids on the block, having opened in spring of 2014, Sugarlands Distilling Company earned an international best-in-class award its frst year out. In a rare turn, Sugarlands also ofers free all-ages distillery tours, often accompanied by musical performances, of its facility, which was constructed from wood salvaged from historic barns, some predating the Civil War. Te company also partnered with Smoky Mountain Guides to ofer of-site tours that explore the past and present of moonshining in the mountains. WWW.TNVACATION.COM

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ALL

ABOARD

HERE

BY ELIZABETH HEY

GREAT TRAIN TRIPS IN THE U.S. AND CANADA

Groups can enjoy the comfort and panoramas of scenic train rides in New Hampshire, top; Alaska, middle; and across Canada, bottom. Courtesy Mount Washington Cog Railway

F

Courtesy Alaska Railroad

Red Rocks Amphitheater is one of Colorado’s most celebrated music venues.

Top: Dramatic mountains and abundant evergreens make the Black Hills of South Dakota especially scenic.

Courtesy Via Rail Canada

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rom its inception, the railroad ushered in a golden era of transportation that can still be experienced today. Tere’s no better way to see the diversity of Canada’s natural beauty than a transcontinental trip aboard VIA Rail Canada. Farther west, top-notch Alaska Railroad slices through the tundra as it parallels shimmering rivers and jagged mountain ranges. In the lower 48, Colorado’s Durango-Silverton Railroad crosses the Animas River fve times and passes old mining claims that lie below snow-capped peaks. On the East Coast, the Mount Washington Cog Railway celebrates its 147th year and still runs on the same rails that took 300 men three years to build. And Amtrak’s California Zephyr makes its way to the Pacifc Ocean as it crosses the spectacular Rockies and the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges.

VIA RAIL CANADA

CANADA

For a memorable transcontinental journey, groups can travel from Toronto to Vancouver or vice versa on Via Rail Canada. Journeying from east to west, passengers leave Toronto and travel through northern Ontario’s lake country, passing by countless lakes, remote railway towns and thick forests. On day two, the train crosses the prairie dotted with grazing cattle and bufalo herds. During the winter months passengers can sometimes see the northern lights. Day three crisscrosses the Rocky Mountains, showcasing emerald lakes, roaring rivers and waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and abundant wildlife. “Many groups opt to extend their trip by an overnight stay along the way,” said Ryan Robutka, senior manager of sales and marketing, Americas for Via Rail Canada Inc. “Jasper is the most popular stop, and I per-

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sonally recommend staying four to six nights in the Rockies. We work very closely with our regional destination partners to help plan itineraries.” In 2015, Via Rail ofcially launched the Prestige Sleeper cars, which offer private showers and fat-screen televisions. More commonly booked, the Sleeper Plus cars ofer a nostalgic overnight journey retaining the Art Deco coaches and equipment from the 1950s. Meals are freshly prepared by onboard chefs and include menu items from the diferent regions. WWW.VIARAIL.CA

ALASKA RAILROAD

ALASKA

A trip on the Alaska Railroad is a quintessential Alaskan experience that deserves a place on every group itinerary. Te sights and scenes are compelling: Black bear cubs graze on frozen plains, nesting eagles bask in summer’s warmth and distant mountain ranges beg to be photographed. In celebration of the 2016 National Park Service Centennial, Alaska Railroad has put together a new package: Alaska National Parks by Rail. It provides access to Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Denali National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, and Kenai Fjords National Park. “Te trip includes rail travel along the full length of the railroad’s main line, as well as accommodations and excursions,” said director of guest services and passenger marketing Bruce LaLonde. “Highlights include fightseeing above the Arctic Circle, cruising amid tidewater glaciers and marine life in Alaska’s coastal waters, and a full-day wildlife tour in Denali.” All-inclusive dining and beverages for GoldStar passengers feature Alaskan seafood, reindeer sausage and brews from the Alaskan Brewing Company and Denali Brewing Company. GoldStar cars sport dome window ceilings and an upper-level, outdoor viewing decks that will thrill avid photographers. “We ofer an Anchorage agent who is dedicated to planning group trips and knows the product extremely well,” said LaLonde. “She can arrange itineraries for a group of 15 or into the hundreds.” WWW.ALASKARAILROAD.COM

DURANGO AND SILVERTON NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD COLORADO

Bookended by two historic mountain towns in southeast Colorado, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad journey begins in Durango. Train afcionados will be interested in the rail yard’s roundhouse museum and a behind-the-scenes tour of the machine shop, rail yard and round table. Te train climbs nearly 3,000 feet to tiny Silverton, Colorado, which boasts Victorian-era architecture from the state’s mining boom in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Along the way, wildlife sightings include elk, black bear, bighorn sheep and moose, as well as eagles and hawks. According to Carrie Whitley, sales manager for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the route is inaccessible except by rail or helicopter. Te train runs year-round, but in winter months, it turns around at the halfway point. “In winter, the train stops at Cascade Canyon, which is in the middle of San Juan Nation Park wilderness,” said Whitley. “Te pavilion has a huge freplace, and there’s a bridge over the nearby river. People grab their hot chocolate and enjoy the winter wonderland.”

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Charter coaches accommodate up to 40 people. Deluxe coaches, which are individually decorated, accommodate up to 24 passengers and include an attendant with beverage service. Groups have the option of riding the train round trip or taking a one-way trip to Silverton, where their motorcoach can meet them to continue their tour. WWW.DURANGOTRAIN.COM

MOUNT WASHINGTON COG RAILWAY

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Located in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the Mount Washington Cog Railway takes groups to the summit of Mount Washington, New England’s highest peak at 6,288 feet. In 1976, the railway was designated a National Historic Engineering Landmark. When the Cog was inaugurated in 1868, it was touted as the world’s frst mountain-climbing cog railway. Te experience starts at the Marshfeld Base Station. Inside, the museum exhibits highlight the mountain’s natural and man-made history. Groups can choose the three-hour round trip on a vintage coach powered by a historic steam locomotive or opt for a ride powered by a modern biodiesel engine. At the summit on a clear day, passengers have an hour to ogle the 360-degree view that includes New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont and extends to the Atlantic Ocean. Tey can also explore the summit’s three notable sites: the Sherman Adams Visitors Center, the Mount Washington Observatory’s Weather Museum and the 1853 Tip Top House, which was the 1853 hostelry built when hiking was the only means of reaching the mountain peak. “Included in the ticket is the newly revamped extreme weather museum at the visitors center,” said the railway’s group sales associate Elise Tompson. “It’s quite interesting, since Mount Washington’s winter conditions rival those of Mount Everest and the polar regions.” WWW.THECOG.COM

AMTRAK CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR WESTERN UNITED STATES

Te California Zephyr crosses two mountain ranges as it travels from the skyscrapers of Chicago to the San Francisco Bay. Te train cuts through the plains of Nebraska and the heart of the Rockies on its trek to the West Coast. It follows a portion of the original 1860s transcontinental railroad between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Sacramento, California. “One advantage to the train is that a group can travel together on the same train instead of being spread across several motorcoaches on a typical road trip,” said Marc Magliari, spokesman for Amtrak government afairs and corporate communications. Te Zephyr runs daily between Chicago and San Francisco with plenty of opportunities for stopovers. Some travelers might want to ski at Winter Park or Glenwood Springs, which is the gateway to Aspen, Colorado. Others might want to game in Reno, Nevada. “We can build the reservation to the group’s needs and include stopovers,” said Magliari. “We also ofer four styles of sleeping accommodations onboard, but many people choose to go cross-country in coach because of the wide, reclining seats with headrests and footrests.” Te National Park Service and Amtrak have partnered to create the Trails and Rails interpretive program for passengers. WWW.AMTRAK.COM

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ALL

ABOARD

THERE

BY ELIZABETH HEY

GREAT TRAIN TRIPS IN MEXICO AND ABROAD

Groups can experience the comfort of a hotel room while traveling on the Orient Express through Europe. Courtesy Belmond

I

n many countries, train travel ofers spectacular scenery, ease and efciency for groups of all sizes. Today, the Orient-Express remains one of the world’s most famous luxurious trains, with a memorable itinerary between Paris and Istanbul. In Kenya, the train provides a classic way to travel between Nairobi and Mombasa on the way to or from a safari. Mexico’s Copper Canyon Railway crosses the rugged terrain of the Sierra Madre Mountains. And aboard Rail Australia’s Spirit of the Outback, the 24-hour journey allows for opportunities to interact with other travelers or to simply enjoy the Queensland countryside.

COPPER CANYON RAILWAY MEXICO

Te dramatic Copper Canyon Railway takes groups on a 400-mile journey from Chihuahua to El Fuerte, Mexico. Aboard the Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacífco, often referred to as the Chepe, groups will travel from sea level to approximately 7,500 feet. Tis engineering marvel took almost 90 years and $90 million to complete; it opened in 1961 after decades of construction. Te journey begins in the desert scrub landscape before ascending into mountain wilderness that features plummeting gorges and high peaks. Te train winds around hairpin curves, travels through almost 100 tunnels and crosses more than 37 bridges. As it chugs toward the Pacifc Ocean, it drops into subtropical forests. Along the way, it passes through the dizzying depths and heights of Copper Canyon, which is four times the size of the Grand Canyon. As one of the world’s largest canyon systems, it covers 25,000 square miles of territory. Tis geographical landmark is flled with history and

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culture; it is also the home of natural wonders and caves, forests and notable biodiversity. Te train makes seven stops, and lodges along the way ofer accommodations. Groups can opt to extend their trip to explore the charming towns. Along the route, eco-adventures include hiking, zip lining and a river foat, depending on the season. WWW.MEXICOSCOPPERCANYON.COM

SPIRIT OF THE OUTBACK

AUSTRALIA

Te Spirit of the Outback aboard Rail Australia travels along the east coast of Queensland from Brisbane to Longreach. As the capital of Queensland and Australia’s third-largest city, Brisbane ofers access to the beaches of Australia’s Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. After leaving Brisbane, the train passes through the historic towns of Blackwater, Emerald and Barcaldine. At its destination of Longreach, there’s plenty for groups to explore, including the Qantas Founders Museum, the Outback Heritage Centre and the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame. Passengers can opt for frst-class cabins for one or two people. Tese fares include meals in the Tuckerbox Dining Car, which serves hearty Aussie-style fare. First-class passengers also have access to the Shearers Rest lounge, which ofers movies available on portable tablets and light refreshments available for purchase. Afternoon tea is also served. Groups who opt for economy single sleepers or seats can purchase meals and light snacks from the Servery and have access to the Economy Lounge. Extended touring packages are available, ofering coach connections to Winton. A host of surrounding attractions includes the historic Wellshot Hotel, Lark Quarry Dinosaur Footprints, the Australian Worker’s Heritage

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Centre and the Waltzing Matilda Cultural Centre. In Blackwater, groups can tour the Blackall Woolscour complex and eat a bush dinner at the last remaining steam-operated wool-washing plant in Australia.

so close to the bourbon trail you can taste it...

WWW.RAILAUSTRALIA.COM.AU

ORIENT-EXPRESS

EASTERN EUROPE

Departing just once a year on the route from Paris to Istanbul, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is an unforgettable, classic journey. Te frst Orient Express traveled from Paris to Bucharest, Romania, in 1833; eventually, the railway was completed to Istanbul. Delightful vintage cabins and onboard entertainment make this trip one of the world’s fnest travel experiences. A variety of special arrangements can be made, among them musicians at the station, magicians onboard and murder mystery scenarios. Te fve-night journey begins in Paris, and the Orient Express travels overnight to Budapest, Hungary. In Budapest, groups stay at a luxury hotel, enjoy a guided city tour and lunch at a local restaurant. Next, the train travels overnight into Romania, where it makes a brief stop in the mountain town of Sinaia to visit the beautiful Peles Castle. Groups overnight in Bucharest. Te next morning after rejoining the train, passengers travel across the Danube and into Bulgaria. Te fnal night is spent on board, and the train arrives in Istanbul early on the sixth morning. European cuisine is freshly prepared, and the menu features ingredients taken on board at stops along the route. Tere are three beautifully restored 1920s restaurant cars: the Côte d’Azur, boasting Lalique glass panels; the Etoile du Nord with its beautiful marquetry, and L’ Oriental, decorated in black lacquer. In the new Champagne Bar, groups can sample the fnest champagnes. WWW.BELMOND.COM/VENICE-SIMPLON-ORIENT-EXPRESS

KENYA RAILWAY AFRICA

Kenya Railway’s main line, known as the Jumbo Kenya Deluxe, connects Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa. From the red leather seats to the pristine white tablecloths and uniforms to the silver cutlery, this is a unique trip. First, second and third classes are available. Te train runs three times each week from both destinations. Groups can opt for several courses at dinner, and an English breakfast is served on the 15hour journey. Passing between the scenic Tsavo National Parks, passengers are treated to a magical African experience. Te twin national parks of Tsavo East and West form one of Africa’s largest wilderness preserves, encompassing 10 million acres. Numerous lodges and camps are found in both parks. Traveling at no more than 36 miles per hour, passengers will be able to leisurely see the girafes and other wildlife. Nairobi is famous for Nairobi National Park, located a mere four miles south of the city center. Skyscrapers can be seen from the park. Established in 1946 as Kenya’s frst national park, it ofers a chance to see abundant wildlife and up to 500 permanent and migratory species of birds. As one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries, it is among the few parks where visitors can be certain of sighting a black rhinoceros in its natural habitat. WWW.RIFTVALLEYRAIL.COM

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TAKE A BITE OUT OF SOUTHERN INDIANA

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NOBODY SPEAKS ECLECTIC QUITE LIKE WE DO

WELCOME TO A DESTINATION WITH REAL FLAVOR. Indiana

never tasted so good. And no matter your appetite...Southern Indiana satisfes. From gourmet burger joints and exquisite Italian options to sizzling Cuban cuisine and upscale steakhouses...we know how to set a table. And with four wineries and six

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breweries...we know how to fll a glass, too! Don't miss the eclectic charm of Clark and Floyd Counties. With a variety of lodging choices, and one of the lowest bed taxes in the area, it's nothing but sweet dreams. Book your group today for Destination Fermentation!

www.SunnySideOfLouisville.org

contact our group guru Kate Kane, Director of Sales • (812) 282-665 Clark-Floyd Counties Convention-Tourism Bureau kkane@SunnySideOfLouisville.org • www.SunnySideOfLouisville.org

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marketing Y O U R

A

P R O G R A M

FAMILY AFFAIRS

BY ELIZA nything can be made new through the eyes of a child. Te overfowing enthusiasm a child experiences when seeing a penguin in the wild or looking at the Serengeti from a hot-air balloon is contagious to even the most jaded traveler. Sharing the world with children creates treasured memories yet can be a headache to plan yourself. Tat’s why multigenerational group travel has recently been on the rise. Loyalty group travel planners took note and have been introducing multigenerational travel options for years now. For example, Mary Beth Kurasek, director of Busey Bank’s travel club, makes sure to include a yearly grandparents and grandchildren outing. Planning for this type of tour can seem intimidating, since you have to keep all age groups in mind every step of the way. But with a little research, multigenerational tours can quickly become your group members’ favorite way to travel.

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MYERS

KID-FRIENDLY DESTINATIONS

How do you choose a destination that excites both a 60-yearold and a 6-year-old? It might be easier than you think. Many tour operators have paved the way by identifying destinations that all ages enjoy. For example, when Abercrombie and Kent’s staf begin constructing a new tour for its Family Journeys brand, they do is to consider the variety of activities available. “Certain destinations ofer a lot of diferent activities, which is what you want,” said Jean Fawcett, media relations manager for Abercrombie and Kent. “Te Galapagos is a great multigenerational destination. I did it two years ago with my mother and my sons. It worked well for all of us with the range of activities and interest levels available.”

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Active places like the Galapagos allow plenty of options for a grandmother who wants to rest on board the boat while the grandchildren take an active morning hike. Multigenerational tours can also go beyond what you might expect, as Tauck’s family travel brand, Tauck Bridges, proves. “We take people to locations you don’t necessarily think of as a place you would take a family,” said Steve Spivak, vice president of global sales for Tauck.

ACTIVITIES FOR ONE AND ALL

Dragging an unappreciative child through the Louvre might sound unpleasant. But the idea of an adult appreciating the Louvre’s art while the child enjoyed a scavenger hunt through the museum sounds much more manageable for everyone. Tour operators like Tauck always try to build in activities that all ages love, as well as ones geared toward individual age groups. “It’s always a constant balance to keep the kids engaged while not falling into the trap of dumbing it down,” said Spivak. “Certainly, you don’t want to go through the Bordeaux region of France without a wine tasting, but that’s not a good activity for the kids. So you have to create moments of togetherness and moments where everyone can fnd their own meaning.” For instance, all ages can appreciate short hikes, wildlife safaris and engaging workshops.

DON’T FORGET

Consider other factors you don’t normally deal with for adultonly travel, such as dates that coincide with school breaks, family-friendly hotels, downtime for families and tour directors that understand how to entertain children.

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“We have Young Explorers Guides that go on each of our family programs,” said Fawcett with Abercrombie and Kent. “Tey bring fun activities that relate to the destination that get the kids engaged and help them appreciate where they are. “It helps having someone who is dedicated to working with kids. For instance, it gives grandparents a little bit of a break and the comfort that the grandkids will be entertained and taken care of.” Tour directors can prepare a number of interactive experiences for children relating to the destination, such as painting a Chinese opera mask or a jousting match in Slovakia.

SELLING THE CONCEPT

For your customers that might not have considered bringing their children or grandchildren on a group trip, you can share a number of reasons why this travel style has become so popular. One of the most obvious enticements for travelers is the ease of taking a trip with children without any worries about logistics. Your group members may love the thought of taking their grandchildren on a trip but shudder when they picture trying to organize the trip themselves. Te powerful thought of giving your descendents a memory that will not only stay with them but also help defne them also greatly infuences potential travelers. “Grandparents are no longer saying, ‘I just want to leave money when I die,’” said Spivak. “Tey want to leave experiences. Money gets spent, but experiences never leave us. Giving children the gift of seeing the world is something that is incredibly valuable. “When you’re a child, you’re at your most impressionable. You can set them on a course for being curious for the rest of their lives.”

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C A R E E R

C O R N E R

growing your group

MEN

it’s time a guy thing TO MAKE GROUP TRAVEL

BY BRIAN JEWELL

I

n a recent Averett University alumni trip to France, Larry Wilburn had a group of 19 travelers. Only four of them were men, and they were all traveling to accompany their wives. Wilburn is not alone: Group travel has historically been a female-heavy affair, and the trend doesn’t seem to be reversing. A survey of 1,000 group travel planners conducted last year by The Group Travel Family (the management company of the Select Traveler Conference) found that 71 percent of group travelers are female. Conventional thinking says that the industry skews female because women tend to outlive their husbands and that older women take group tours in order to continue traveling after their husbands have died. This may have been true at one time, but today the numbers tell a different story: The survey found that the average age of group travel passengers is 64. That means that many people are traveling in groups before they reach retirement age and well within the life expectancy of the modern man. The survey also found that 73 percent of group travelers are married. Only 18 percent are widowed, and 9 percent are otherwise single. Think about the breakdown like this: On an average tour with 50 passengers, 14 will be men and 36 will be women. Of those 36 women, only six will be widows and three will be single. That leaves 27 married women on the tour. Since there are only 14 men in the group, we can assume that at least 13 married women — almost half of the married women on the tour — are traveling without their husbands. In other words, group travel has a problem attracting men.

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A HISTORY LESSON

To understand why group travel appeals more to women than to men, we have to examine the history of the industry. Group travel as we know it came of age in the middle of the 20th century. By the late 1950s, World War II was long over and members of the Greatest Generation was starting to see their children grow up and leave home. Te United States was enjoying a period of unprecedented prosperity, and modern transportation was making it more afordable and convenient than ever to see the world. When those in the Greatest Generation began to retire, their life expectancy wasn’t as long as it is today, and men died before their wives with much greater frequency. Tis left a lot of women who wanted to travel but felt ill-equipped to do so alone. Many women of that era had spent most of their lives as homemakers, and few had done much signifcant travel on their own. Te world was a fascinating place to explore but also somewhat threatening and intimidating. Group travel provided an answer to this predicament. Traveling in groups made women of this generation feel safe, and tour providers took care of all the details, so these women didn’t have to fgure out the logistics of getting from place to place. It was against this backdrop that the group travel traditions we know today were formed. In trying to appeal to their core demographic, tour operators packaged trips that catered to women’s taste. Itineraries featured many historic homes, gardens and tearooms. Tere were wine tastings, Broadway shows and shopping — lots and lots of shopping. Today, the demographics of group tourism have changed, but many of the traditions haven’t. Tough most group travelers are now working age and married, many tours still play heavily to the tastes and preferences of retired women. Is it any wonder that men aren’t taking group trips?

Above: Golfing in Scotland, courtesy Visit Scotland

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APPEALING TO MEN

Bob Cline, president of U.S. Tours, has found some success in attracting men to themed tour events that focus on veterans appreciation and military culture. “We have a signifcant number of men who come to our veterans events: the USO shows and the Heroes and Legends package in Clarksville, Tennessee,” Cline said. “Te frst Welcome Home Vietnam event that we did brought in more than 500 veterans on motorcycles and [in] pickup trucks and in campers. Tey didn’t travel on buses. But 500 people is a heck of a group.” Cline said about half of the men who attend his events bring their wives, and many bring their children and grandchildren. He also has found success in bringing men on his Duck Commander tour in Monroe-West Monroe, Louisiana, home of the famous outdoor gear company and the setting of the popular television show “Duck Dynasty.” “I think the key is that there are ways to attract men,” Cline said. “Experiential events are great for men, and you need to stay away from shopping. Tey may not come on a bus, but if you can attract a lot of people, that doesn’t matter.” Wilburn, the alumni travel planner, agrees. “To get men to travel, you’re going to have to ofer things that men are interested in,” he said. Although the France trip yielded few male passengers, Wilburn said he has seen more men come along on trips that allow them to visit places such as famous battlefelds around the world. He is also interested in the potential posed by themed trips that revolve around train travel or sports. One possibility Wilburn is considering is a golf trip to Scotland, which some friends have requested he put together. “Tey are still working and can only take of for a week — fve workdays,” he said. “But they’re really golf nuts. Tey want to play one really big-name golf course in Scotland and then play on some other courses while they’re there. Tey want to play at least one round of golf each day, and they’re willing to lay out cash to do it. Tey would rather spend the money on playing golf than on doing other things.” If the Scotland trip comes together, Wilburn said he might try to include a visit to a local battlefeld. And though some of the wives have inquired about what they could do on the trip while the men play golf, he won’t be surprised if many of the men come on the trip alone.

Top: Golf course view, courtesy Visit Scotland Bottom: Heroes and Legends trip, courtesy U.S. Tours

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I N OUR

SOUTH EVEN THE COOKIE CUTTERS ARE ONE OF A KIND.

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For Details and Group Itineraries, Contact:

Kay Calzolari, Kay@VisitWinstonSalem.com 866.728.4200 • 336.728.4237 VisitWinstonSalem.com


W H E R E

w e ’ v e

B E E N

american national bank ARDMORE, OKLAHOMA TRIP: Spotlight on Barcelona TOUR OPERATOR: Collette DATE: November 2015 For eight days, America National Bank’s Eagle Travel Club toured Spain’s Barcelona area. The trip showed off the vibrant culture of Barcelona at the city’s Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia and Gothic Quarter. The group also visited the nearby towns of Montserrat, Sitges and Girona. “The sites, tastes and sounds of the Barcelona area of Spain were incredible. We were able to truly take in the Catalonia beauty and culture at a wonderful pace. Our entire group was blown away by this trip, with someone stating that this was one of the best trips they’ve experienced.”

— KEVIN BUTLER, EVP AND CLUB DIRECTOR

legends bank LINN, MISSOURI TRIP: Pacific Northwest Expedition TOUR OPERATOR: Cruises and Tours Worldwide DATE: July 2015 The Advantage Club explored Oregon’s scenic coastline and the Columbia River Gorge for 10 days. The group participated in some Pacific Northwest adventures, including a dune buggy ride on the Sand Dunes Frontier and a jet boat excursion through Hellgate Canyon. The tour also stopped at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, Crater Lake National Park and Mount St. Helens. “We explored the outstanding beauty of the Oregon Coast and saw the magnificent vistas and waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge. The group saw one of Oregon’s wilderness areas at Carter Lake and the regrowth of Mount St. Helens since the devastating eruption of the volcano in 1980.”

— MARY ANN GELVEN, MARKETING DIRECTOR

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BRING YOUR GROUP TOUR TO LIFE Good times are inevitable with hands-on experiences and uncommon access offered exclusively for groups. Plan your group’s Live the Life Adventure at VisitVirginiaBeach.com/GroupTour.


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Select Traveler January February 2016  

The Select Traveler January February 2016 issue features trip highlights from Spain, and group travel ideas for train trips, Nebraska, Bosto...

Select Traveler January February 2016  

The Select Traveler January February 2016 issue features trip highlights from Spain, and group travel ideas for train trips, Nebraska, Bosto...